A Look Back at Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire #1 (1996)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Way back in the mid-1990s, something special happened for Star Wars fans. A brand-new story involving Star Wars icons Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and others would be told set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. That story was called Shadows of the Empire and it was released as a special event in the form of a novel (written by Steve Perry), a video game on Nintendo 64 and PC, comic books, a soundtrack, posters, model kits, toys and action figures. What was missing here was a live-action movie.   

To put things in perspective, the Shadows of the Empire multi-media event was done by Lucasfilm (note: when creator George Lucas was still in control) with its many business partners to reinvigorate the Star Wars franchise ahead of the planned special editions of the original Star Wars movie trilogy. From a business point-of-view, it made sense to release something new for fans to enjoy and more notably it was the chance for Lucasfilm and its creators to explore what happened between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

A limited comic book series was released in 1996 and it involved the novel’s author as a story consultant. Back in those days, my comic book interest faded temporarily and even though I was still into Star Wars, I did not bother to buy and read the Shadows of the Empire comic books. The video game caught my attention a lot more back then. Fortunately, I found copies of the comic books and had the time to read them recently.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire #1, published by Dark Horse Comics in 1996 with a story written by John Wagner and drawn by Kilian Plunkett.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a group of Rebel spaceships traveling together in the depth of space. Luke, who now has a mechanical hand and has been recovering from the terrible ordeal he went through at Cloud City, is with Princess Leia, C3PO and R2D2 in the medical frigate. The Rebels detect the presence of an approaching ship which they suspect to be hostile.

Luke suddenly decides to take action but is halted when he realizes that his X-wing fighter is still being refitted. In space, Wedge and the Rogue Squadron fly towards the Imperial Strike Cruiser which then releases some Tie Fighters. The personnel inside the Strike Cruiser tried to inform Darth Vader the location of the Rebel fleet…

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Darth Vader!

The first thing I want to mention is that the writing done by John Wagner is solid. That being said, the story itself felt like a natural continuation of The Empire Strikes Back especially when the comic book’s narrative is focused on Luke and the Rebels. The way the recovering Luke, Leia and the two droids were presented following the end of the 1980 movie was believable, and there was that nice touch of characterization when Luke has not yet adjusted with his mechanical hand.

The story then moves into new territory when the narrative shifts on the Imperial side, especially when Emperor Palpatine gives Darth Vader a new order that has nothing to do with pursuing Luke and the weakened Rebels, but more to do with the construction of the Empire’s new weapon. This is also where the new character Xizor comes in and his presence alone confirms something that the movies did not…the Empire is in business with crime syndicates with regards to major projects.

Space ship battles look great in this comic book.

When it comes to characterization, I like the way Darth Vader handled himself when communicating with Emperor Palpatine who viewed Luke’s escape from Bespin a failure on his part. Compared with his private communication with the Emperor in the 1980 movie, Vader bravely questions him about doing business with Xizor backed with his knowledge of the prince and the ties with Black Sun. Vader, who has been part of the Empire for a long time, knew well how risky it is for them to get involved with criminals especially when military cargo is involved.

As for the visuals, Kilian Plunkett does a decent job drawing the characters. While his take makes Luke recognizable and faltered a bit on capturing Leia’s look, his illustrations on Darth Vader, the Emperor and Xizor were really good. Where Plunkett exceled visually are the locations and surroundings, the machines and the space battles (some pages were drawn really dynamically).

Conclusion

This shows how Luke has not fully adjusted with his mechanical hand.

To put it clearly, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire #1 (1996) has three narratives (the other is about Boba Fett carrying the frozen Han Solo) to build-up on and for a debut issue of a limited series, this one has strength in its execution complete with a good amount of creative stuff that will resonate with long-time Star Wars fans (and also those who love the original Star Wars movie trilogy). It succeeds in telling what happened shortly after the end of The Empire Strikes Back as well as establishing a new sub-plot with Xizor involved. By the time I finished this comic book, I was convinced to look forward to the next issue.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire #1 (1996), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $48 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $144.

Overall, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire #1 (1996) is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Wonder Woman #22 (1988)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of DC Comics! I wonder how many among you readers got to watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League? That was the so-called definitive version of the Justice League live-action movie that Zack Snyder originally envisioned and reportedly it was the big dream come true for fans of the director and his own vision of the current cinematic universe of DC Comics superheroes.

While the so-called Snyder Cut of Justice League has Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, I personally am not too excited for it but I will watch it much later on Blu-ray or perhaps 4K Blu-ray someday. What I am anticipating right now is the 4K Blu-ray release of Wonder Woman 1984 scheduled for March 30, 2021.

With regards to the literary Wonder Woman (post-Crisis DC Comics universe) as I’ve been reviewing a lot for some time now, things went crazy with what happened in issue #21. I’m talking about something that involved Wonder Woman with the deities of Olympus.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Wonder Woman #22, published by DC Comics in 1988 with a story written and drawn by George Perez with Bob McLeod credited with the finished art.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in Themyscira. All the Amazons are called by Diana to a special audience in relation to an pending proclamation of a new decision that shall chart forevermore the path of the Amazon destiny.

In front of a large audience composed of her many Amazon sisters as well as her mother (Queen Hippolyte), the oracle Menalippe and headmistress Mnemosyne, Diana announces that a majority voted yes on the question of Themyscira opening her gates to the world outside and allowing man to set food on the shores of paradise island.

There was no fanfare, no cheers and no applause from the audience as the announcement marked the beginning of the new stage in the history of Amazons.

Meanwhile in outer space, a silvery orb flies around in very fast speed heading towards Earth…

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Wonder Woman’s lifting of the car looked inspired by the famous cover of Action Comics #1 from 1938.

To make things clear, the story of this comic book is mainly a build-up for something significant that will happen later. There is no real battle of good-versus-evil here, nor would you see Wonder Woman encounter someone sinister.

In terms of build-up, the approval by the Amazons of cultural exchange and sharing of access with man’s world is itself a set-up for a significant event for Wonder Woman and her two closest friends on Earth. On other matters, the arrival of the space orb on Earth was presented very nicely and it surely is intriguing to see how it builds up for an upcoming new anti-hero element.

If you are a Wonder Woman fan expecting to see more of Diana getting dramatized and developed, you might be disappointed that this comic book has lesser content about her than usual. In fact, there is a good amount of pages here that pay close attention to Vanessa Kapatelis having a bad day in school, plus her mother Julia attracting the attention of a certain school teacher. This particular comic book really tried hard dramatizing the mother-and-daughter relationship of the two supporting characters but ultimately (and not surprising) it’s nowhere as engaging as that of Queen Hippolyte and Diana.

Conclusion

Diana doing her duty in front of a tremendous audience of her Amazon sisters plus her mother Queen Hippolyte.

Behind its beautiful cover, Wonder Woman #22 (1988) is not only an underwhelming follow-up to the epic development in issue #21, it is also the least engaging issue I’ve read about the post-Crisis version of Wonder Woman under the creative direction of George Perez. It’s really more about setting the stages for a future conflict and a special visit to Themyscira (you can guess who would visit to see Wonder Woman’s Amazon sisters). George Perez’s writing is still of pretty good quality and he really knows how to define each character’s personality but it’s the overall concept of the comic book that is underwhelming.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman #22 (1988), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $35 while the near-mint copy of the 2nd printing costs $350.

Overall, Wonder Woman #22 (1988) is satisfactory.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

DTI issues new memorandum for the reopening of cinemas in GCQ areas starting March 5, 2021

Do you miss watching movies in the cinemas? The COVID-19 pandemic really brought the movie theater industries around the world to a screeching halt which negatively impacted the way movies were distributed and led to the laying off of many employees who worked in the cinemas.

Here in the Philippines, movie theaters are only operating in cities or provinces which are under the state of MGCQ (Modified General Community Quarantine) which has lesser restrictions compared to GCQ (General Community Quarantine). The thing here is that Metro Manila (which is composed of multiple cities that each has its own government) is still under the GCQ level of control and as of this writing, movie theaters still have not reopened.

Just weeks ago, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced it will allow a variety of businesses to resume operations and among them are the cinemas. Unsurprisingly, the Metro Manila mayors reacted negatively.

That was back then. Even though President Rodrigo Duterte refused to shift the entire nation into MGCQ status, movie theater operators (and their employees) in Metro Manila and other areas still under GCQ status now have something to be happy with as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued a new memorandum circular allowing movie theaters in GCQ zones to reopen starting March 5, 2021.

Below is an excerpt from the news article published the other night at Philippine News Agency’s website…

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has issued Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 21-08 allowing movie houses in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) to reopen starting March 5.

The circular stipulates that cinemas in GCQ areas are only allowed to operate up to 25-percent capacity.

However, moviegoers are prohibited to eat and drink, while face masks shall be worn at all times inside the cinema.

A one-meter physical distance on all sides is also required.

“In the event of free seating, cinema staff shall usher customers to their seats to comply with the physical distancing and maximum operational capacity requirements,” the MC said.

On the other hand, cinemas in modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) areas are allowed to operate at 50-percent capacity.

As you can see in the details in the above excerpt, movie theaters in GCQ zones will be allowed to resume operations but with limitations such as 25% maximum capacity (with social distancing implemented) allowed and the prohibition on moviegoers from consuming food and beverages (this limitation will hurt the cinemas’ food and beverage business partners).

As for the requirement to wear face shields inside the cinema, it’s really a detriment because face shields obscure people’s visions and therefore moviegoers won’t be able to enjoy the visuals displayed on the big screen. 

Let’s be honest here…how many people would really want to watch films inside the movie theater without food and beverages, and having to view films with their vision negatively affected by face shields? I can only state that the DTI should reconsider these limitations soon.

It is understandable that safety measures and the health protection for the public are essential for the national authorities to do which explain the limitations for cinemas in GCQ areas. Take note from the excerpt below…

“Following the earlier agreement at the IATF (Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases), DTI issued the circular that will guide the implementation of a safe and gradual reopening of more businesses and economic activities. This is part of our mandate to ensure that as more businesses reopen to provide more jobs and sources of income for our countrymen, the strict health protocols are enforced,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

Lopez said while the government continues to reopen more economic and business activities, minimum health measures should be strictly implemented.

The thing which we should observe here in the Philippines is how the local government leaders of GCQ areas will react to DTI’s memorandum circular. Be aware that Metro Manila alone is home to lots of movie theaters, including those with 4D and IMAX technologies. These cinemas, many of which are part of shopping malls, have not operated for almost a year now and they badly need to resume their business not just to serve paying customers but also to take care of their employees such as security guards, ushers, ticket booth operators, film projector operators, etc. Do not forget about the businesses that partnered with cinemas to sell popcorn, snacks and beverages. Right now, economic recovery and job creation are of the utmost importance during this time of pandemic.

Now that you have read this, let me ask you what do you think about this news? Is the DTI right to issue the new memorandum? If you are living in a Metro Manila city, how has your local government leaders reacted to the news? When was the last time you watched a movie inside the cinema? Have you contacted your local cinema operator?

Watch out for further updates right here.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Wonder Woman #19 (1988)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of DC Comics! Today is the first day of March of 2021. Do you know what that means? It means that Wonder Woman 1984’s scheduled release on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray is just 29 days away! Even though I still have not seen the movie (which as of this writing has not been released in movie theaters here in the Philippines) and even though social media showed that WW fans are divided over it, I still went ahead ordering the 4K Blu-ray combo online. Just today, the online retailer gave me an important update as to when the 4K Blu-ray combo will arrive.

Personally, I’m excited to watch Gal Gadot play the Queen of Superheroes again and her performance in the 2017 Wonder Woman movie is phenomenal and captures the essence of the icon! I am also interested to see how director Patty Jenkins handled the storytelling as she herself co-wrote the screenplay.

More on Wonder Woman, I should say that I really love the way she was redefined by George Perez and Len Wein in the post-Crisis era of DC Comics. Today, we will find out what happens next to her during her time in Greece in this look back at Wonder Woman #19, published in 1988 by DC Comics with a story written and drawn by George Perez (with Frank McLaughlin on the finishes).

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a short look back at the end of issue #18 which saw Wonder Woman fighting several monsters that surrounded her. Suddenly a powerful blast hits her and knocks her out.

Vanessa, who survived thanks to Wonder Woman’s help, is found by her mom Julie who was accompanied by several armed Greeks. Vanessa states that the scroll she got from her uncle Stavros seemed to attract the monsters which drew a response from local rebel Katina Leikos who belongs to a group that oppose the fabled witch on the nearby island. She states that if they don’t stop the witch, she will destroy princess Diana/Wonder Woman.

Inside the old structure on the said island, Wonder Woman wakes up finding herself on the floor chained by the neck and wrists. Located very near her is Circe, the enchantress who is the daughter of Hyperion and Perseis. The enchantress tells Wonder Woman that it is her destiny to execute her…

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Julia Kapatelis is more involved with the action and mission.

Of all the comic books that I’ve reviewed so far on this particular monthly series in the post-Crisis era, this one is easily the darkest and most grim Wonder Woman story. It also has the heaviest emphasis on monsters and sorcery, complete with sinister rituals and connections to Greek mythology.

As expected, the story here further develops Wonder Woman and her place in man’s world but with emphasis on destiny and legacies. In this case, destiny related to the shared history between Wonder Woman’s fellow Amazons and Circe (who is DC Comics’ own take on the false Greek goddess) which puts the superhero icon in a rather complex situation. For Circe, Wonder Woman’s innocence means nothing because destiny and hatred matter a lot more. The way George Perez wrote, Circe in this particular issue proved to be more menacing than Ares and is also the most sinister villain of Wonder Woman’s.

More on this comic book, I can declare that it is right here where you will get to see the Queen of Superheroes in her most vulnerable and most helpless state yet. For several pages, you will see Wonder Woman struggle not only against Circe and her monsters, but also with the revelations of history. You will also get to see Wonder Woman’s emotional limits pushed.

Regarding the supporting cast, I really enjoyed seeing Julie Kapatelis really putting her academic skills and expertise to great use as well as getting involved in the action. With her Greek heritage and connections with the locals clearly defined, Julie got a good amount of the spotlight among the characters and nicely contributed to the story. I also love the part when Julie said that Diana (Wonder Woman) is like a daughter to her which really emphasize the bond of love and trust between them.

Conclusion

Wonder Woman bravely fights the monsters of Circe.

As far as the visit in Greece goes, Wonder Woman #19 (1988) really ramped up the stakes with Circe’s evil presence emphasized a lot while having Wonder Woman in a vulnerable state which added to her character development in this particular monthly series. It is indeed a very well written tale by Perez who proved to be capable of pushing the boundaries while redefining Wonder Woman in the post-Crisis era. Apart from being the most sinister villain in this monthly series so far, Circe is the complete opposite of Wonder Woman.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman #19 (1988), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $42 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $44.

Overall, Wonder Woman #19 (1988) is highly recommended!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Wonder Woman #17 (1988)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

When was the last time you traveled overseas not to have fun the usual way (partying, spending time in bars, watching movies or stage plays, and the like) but rather to immerse yourself into history by visiting several historical sites? When you plan to travel overseas, have you thought about pursuing the wonder of discovery?

Welcome back, Wonder Woman fans and comic collectors! It has been almost a year since I started publishing retro reviews of Wonder Woman comic books from the post-Crisis age of DC Comics drawn by the famous George Perez. I can say that I really enjoyed the modernizing of the Queen of Superheroes done by Perez along with the late Len Wein. In fact, my enjoyment on the post-Crisis Wonder Woman is greater than what I had for the New 52 Wonder Woman. For those who love Wonder Woman movies, check out my retro review of the 2017 Wonder Woman movie and my feature about the No Man’s Land scene. If you are into the latest movie Wonder Woman 1984 starring Gal GadotChris Pine and Kristen Wiig, be aware that the 4K Blu-ray combo of it will be released on March 30, 2021. I already ordered a copy of it.

Going back to what I mentioned earlier, discovering new places can be tremendous experiences for those who travel abroad. With those details laid down, we can finally start this look back at Wonder Woman #17, published in 1988 by DC Comics with a story written and drawn by George Perez with ink work done by Dick Giordano.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins as a white bird flies high in the sky in the middle of dark clouds and bolts of lightning. The bird is carrying a message and as it continues to move forward, the darkness fades away as light and calm clouds set in.

In Wakefield, Massachusetts, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman receives her special United Nations (UN) passport from Etta Candy. It turns out that Julie Kapatelis is in Athens, Greece, making arrangements for Diana’s first overseas trip in man’s world. As they talk, Etta reveals that Steve Trevor is aware of the connection between Wonder Woman’s costume with his mother.

As Vanessa (Julie’s daughter) comes down from the second floor, Steve Trevor enters the house carrying a bird carrying a message. Even as she recognizes the bird, she is amazed to discover that it arrived there all the way from Themyscira. The message carried by the bird is from Diana’s mother, Queen Hippolyte. She begins to read the message in the car with Vanessa on the way to the airport…

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Diana visits and discovers Greece.

I’ll start by pointing out that this is the first issue of this particular monthly series to be written entirely by George Perez (note: Len Wein was involved with the script for issue #16) and, as I read this comic book, he wrote well and succeeded in further developing Wonder Woman’s personality just as she discovers more of man’s world and its connections with her fellow Amazons.

In this comic book, Wonder Woman (with Vanessa) travels to Greece for an arranged visit with her mentor Julie anticipating her arrival. Upon arriving in Greece, a lot of people warmly welcomed Wonder Woman who in turn got reunited with Julie in the presence of her Greek friend Stavros. In relation to the opening paragraph of this review, this is the story of Diana’s discovery of Greece, its people, its culture and legacy. The way Perez wrote and visualized her discovering and learning of the Greek sites really emphasized her thoughts as her perception of man’s world and its connections to her people and her culture builds up.

Unlike the previous two issues, this story is much heavier with character development and Perez’s writing is indeed engaging. As you read Diana’s words and thoughts, you will experience intrigue and even relate to her experiencing a great wonder of discovery. Also worth reading are her thoughts about Superman.

Apart from the focus on Wonder Woman, this comic book also paid attention to the intrigue that happened among the deities of Olympus – including Heracles – who are still recovering from the great disturbance caused by Darkseid. Oh yes, the story also marked the start of the build-up of another supervillain for Diana to face.

Conclusion

In the airplane on the way to Greece.

While it clearly lacked a strong conflict between good and evil, the wonder of discovery as well as the in-depth characterization made Wonder Woman #17 (1988) a must-read. George Perez, who is best known for his artworks, proved to be a very solid writer and it should be noted that he went on to write a whole lot more stories about the Queen of Superheroes.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman #17 (1988), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $42 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $42.

Overall, Wonder Woman #17 (1988) is highly recommended!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A chance for recovery for more Philippine cinemas (and their employees)

Wow. That was quite a ride of information updates that happened the last few days. Last Friday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) announced that it has allowed a variety of businesses around the Philippines to resume operations so that they can recover from this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Such businesses specified were driving schools, video arcades, theme parks, natural sites, historical landmarks, parks and, most notably of all, cinemas (or movie theaters).

However, the Metro Manila mayors reacted and expressed their opposition against the national government’s decision on allowing cinemas to reopen. Through the media, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos stated that a “majority of Metro Manila mayors agreed not to open as far as cinema is concerned.”

Below is an excerpt from the Manila Times article on Abalos…

He noted that movie theaters are enclosed and air-conditioned spaces where people stay for more than 30 minutes, conditions that increase the risk of coronavirus transmission.

To put things in perspective, Metro Manila is composed of many major Philippine cities such as Makati, Quezon City, Manila and Muntinlupa to name a few. Until now, Metro Manila remains under GCQ (General Community Quarantine) status while certain other cities or provinces have been enduring the MGCQ (Modified General Community Quarantine) status. As of this writing, the only cinemas operating here in the Philippines are those located in MGCQ areas.

Here in Metro Manila, movie theaters have been closed since March 2020. Take note of that.

As a result of the Metro Manila mayors’ opposition, it has been announced that the reopening of cinemas has been moved to March 1, 2021, but that is not guaranteed. According to the news release published yesterday at Philippine News Agency, the reopening of cinemas in GCQ areas has been moved to the first of March to allow consultations with local officials, and this is the result of talks with MMDA’s Abalos, MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia and Trade Secretary Lopez.

Malacañang stated in the release: The IATF respects the position of mayors, especially those in Metro Manila. That’s why the resolution stated that the reopening of cinemas will be effective after drafting guidelines with local governments particularly when it comes to seating capacity in cinemas.

As you can see, there is still some work needed to be done before Metro Manila movie theaters (or any theaters in GCQ areas in general) can be allowed to reopen. This is why, in my view, the March 1 target for reopening could be missed.

More on the cinemas, I wonder if the Metro Manila mayors and their advisers did enough research about the economics. I understand they want to avoid the risk of people getting infected with COVID-19 within their respective cities, but there is still the need for economic recovery even if cinemas are to operate at less than 100% capacity and efficiency

From an economic point of view, thanks to information released by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, the so-called traditional cinema industry of the nation employed 300,000 workers and had generated revenues of P13 billion BEFORE the pandemic started last year. Because of the pandemic, 2020 theater revenues shrunk down to only P1.3 billion.

Whatever happened to them as a result of the pandemic, 300,000 cinema employees is a figure that should not be ignored nor dismissed so quickly by the mayors and their advisers. Economic recovery is a must.

In an ABS-CBN news report, the cinema operators and movie producers have decided to adopt a so-called wait-and-see approach on the reopening of cinemas in GCQ areas.

Here’s an excerpt from the report:

Although they welcome the easing of quarantine restrictions, local producers and theater operators believe that ultimately, the reopening of cinemas will still be dependent on the clearance of local government units.

Roselle Monteverde and Vincent del Rosario, who helm Regal and Viva Entertainment, respectively, told ABS-CBN News that they have the capability to provide cinemas with movie material, some of which have long been canned. Nonetheless, along with other members of the local producers association, the movie magnates are still awaiting the IATF guidelines and, more important, the guidance of mayors.

And here’s another excerpt, this time about two major cinema chain operators.

Megaworld Cinemas and SM Cinemas, which both control a vast chain of theater chains, told ABS-CBN News that they will wait for the final guidelines of the IATF and local government units.

Bomboy Lim of Robinson Cinemas also told ABS-CBN News that the bottomline is securing the approval of local government units. “Priority din namin ang ligtas na panonood ng tao. Kailangan nating sundin ang lahat ng guidelines including the IATF. Right now, they are still making it.”

Robinson Cinemas, which has an estimated 200 theaters nationwide in its malls nationwide, have not reopened since March 2020.

Over at the City of Manila, the local authorities there announced it will offer free swab tests to movie theater workers within their jurisdiction. Mayor Isko Moreno said that the swab tests are required before the city government allows malls to open their movie houses. Cinema workers specified are janitors, security guards, tellers, ushers, porters, ticket sellers and snack bar attendants to name some. Managers of malls in the city were asked by the mayor to present to the city government their respective preparations for the reopening of their cinemas with public safety in mind.

As I personally observed in shopping malls with cinemas here in South Metro Manila, each of them has established rules and set up special equipment to monitor the health statuses of people entering their respective places. I can imagine local cinemas inside these malls having similar equipment, disinfectant machines, and temperature scanners. It would be helpful if the malls or cinema operators can afford to set up sanitation tunnels (like those in Israel) for moviegoers to pass thru when entering and exiting the movie theater. Watch the video below…

Even though things look unclear, the fact remains is that operators of movie theaters and their employees now have a chance to resume their business and do their part in the recovery economically and socially. How the IATF and the Metro Manila mayors will decide the fate of the cinemas remains to be seen.

If there are any major updates, you will be notified right here at www.CarloCarrasco.com

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For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Wonder Woman 1984 4K Blu-ray combo set for March 30, 2021 release!

Calling all fans of Wonder Woman, fans of superhero movies and all other geeks! Some great news for you all and it’s related to what I observed and wrote before.

It has officially been announced that Wonder Woman 1984 (starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig) will be released in a 4K Blu-ray combo (4K Blu-ray with Blu-ray disc plus a digital copy) on March 30, 2021 and already orders for it are being accepted at Amazon.com Check out the image below.

Coming out on March 30, 2021! This early, orders for Wonder Woman 4K Blu-ray combo are being accepted at Amazon.com

Some relevant numbers about Wonder Woman 1984 4K Blu-ray combo below…

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10

Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Audio

English: Dolby Atmos

English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles

English SDH, French, Spanish

Discs

4K Ultra HD

Blu-ray Disc

Two-disc set (1 BD-50)

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A

If you are only planning to watch Wonder Woman 1984 in 1080p, there is also the Blu-ray disc version as well. You order it at Amazon now.

Going back to the 4K Blu-ray combo, I am very delighted over the confirmation that Wonder Woman 1984 will be presented in genuine, native 4K resolution. By comparison, the 4K Blu-ray of the 2017 Wonder Woman film was an upscaled 4K presentation (read: fake 4K).

Even though I still have not seen Wonder Woman 1984 and I deliberately avoided streaming and digital piracy of it, I went ahead ordering the 4K Blu-ray combo this early. Now the wait to watch it in the comfort of home truly begins!

Remember that 4K Blu-ray with native 4K visuals is much better than streaming!

For more Wonder Woman-related stuff, check out my recent retro comic book reviews as follows: post-Crisis Wonder Woman issues #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15 and #16.

Check out my retro movie review as well as my feature about the No Man’s Land scene of the 2017 movie.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Shin Godzilla (2016)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching the movie and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

There is no doubt that Japan’s fictional monster Godzilla (originally called as Gojira) made tremendous impact not only with the Japanese but also with other entertainment lovers around the world. Way back in 1954, the monster was portrayed as a destructive, walking symbol of nuclear weapons in the movie Gojira directed by the late Ishirô Honda.

As the years passed by, several more Godzilla movies were released by Toho Pictures. In 1998, an American-made movie about Godzilla was finally made in a disappointing form directed by Roland Emmerich. In 2014, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures made a more respectful film of the monster under the direction of Gareth Edwards. In 2019, the follow-up Godzilla: King of the Monsters was released and I enjoyed it a lot more than its 2014 predecessor.

Before the 2019 movie was released, Toho in Japan released Shin Godzilla (alternate titles: Shin Gojora and Godzilla: Resurgence) which was the result of the 2014 movie’s success as well as the fact that there were no restrictions in the contract with Legendary Pictures for the Japanese studio to make their own domestic versions.

Due to its lack of presence in cinemas here in the Philippines in 2016, I was unable to watch it on the big screen. Fortunately, it was released locally on original DVD and I got to watch it in the comfort of home.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Shin Godzilla co-directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi (both best known for Neon Genesis Evangelion).

This is classic Godzilla.

Early story

The story begins at Tokyo Bay where the coast guard personnel found an abandoned yacht and searched inside. Suddenly a huge cloud of steam erupted from the ocean followed by blood-like water flooding the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line. The tragedies compelled local authorities to take action starting with a committee meeting.

As emergency personnel save the victims in the damaged Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line, the tragedies reach the office of the Prime Minister who engages with many other government officials in an official meeting. They try to figure out what caused the incidents and, as such, theories and efforts to explain what happened were spoken until Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi (Hiroki Hasegawa) theorized that a living creature caused it (because he saw a viral video) which only resulted disbelief and dismissal.

Suddenly a massive tail rises from the ocean which got captured in video and photographs by the news media which confirms Yaguchi’s hunch. As the Prime Minister and the team of officials spend more time discussing and searching for real experts (because the three scientists they just met did not produce any breakthroughs), a huge creature makes its way into one of Tokyo’s districts through a waterway causing massive damage and displacing many people as well as all boats that got in its way.  

In a press conference, the Prime Minister gave his assurance to the public that they need not worry about the creature coming to shore. Just after giving his assurance speech, an assistant approaches the Prime Minister with really bad news that the creature has been crawling inland and causing even more damage…

Quality

Japan’s iconic monster is not only terrifying here but also very deadly.

When it comes to presentation in comparison to all other Godzilla movies released, Shin Godzilla is very unique as it strongly brings to the viewers a very in-depth examination of the bureaucracy of the Japanese government complete with the many laws, requirements, rules and other elements of governance that made it so hard for the local authorities to respond to Godzilla’s invasion of the metropolis. There are key details that were raised such as the constitutionality of using local military force against the monster (which is not a foreign invader), which department should be in-charge of research about the same monster, etc.

Along the way, there is an overload of information – in terms of text, images and dialogue – that makes viewing quite a challenge. This makes watching Shin Godzilla a learning experience that viewers who are interested in governance and science will likely enjoy although it will alienate other moviegoers, especially those who only want to watch the spectacle of massive on-screen destruction that giant monster movies are known for. Going through all the exposition and explanations, and understanding most of it, however, will make the viewing experience worth it as these countless details do make sense in relation to Godzilla’s destructive impact on the people.

And then there is the huge cast of characters that needs to be followed. This is another big challenge for viewers because if one misses out on the key purpose a character has, then following the government’s efforts on dealing with Godzilla will make less sense. Not only will you have to follow the characters’ names, you will also have to remember their respective work titles. Apart from the government officials, there is also the huge batch of nerds and varied experts gathered by the government to do intense research. Again, those people need to be followed and remembered so you can understand what they do and how they contribute to their government’s efforts. When it comes to performances, they are collectively dramatic and you will be convinced of the pressure, the danger and uncertainty they face with Godzilla threatening Tokyo.

Better get used to seeing so many characters throughout the movie.
Hiroki Hasegawa as Rando Yaguchi.

As for the main spectacle of the movie, Godzilla, I can say that the monster here is very terrifying to watch. This is not your typical Godzilla as the Anno-Higuchi directorial duo really went all out with their creativity to remake Japan’s iconic monster into something new and deadly while still linking him creatively to the legacy of the classic Godzilla. There is even an element of evolution in this version of Godzilla and to see the Japanese military fire their expensive weapons at him really made a lot of spectacle to enjoy. I should also state that several scenes of disaster caused by the monster in this film were inspired by the tragedies of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011. Lastly, Godzilla here is really a super villain that is not only gigantic but also is made to be highly believable that it can destroy the nation, kill innocent civilians, demoralize the authorities and even bring Japan’s entire economy way down (note: one of the government officials explained the economic consequence of failing to defeat the monster).

When it comes to visual effects, this one is the best-looking Godzilla made by the Japanese yet! While the traditional approach of having an actor wear a rubber suit has been disregarded in favor of using modern, digital means (with motion capture), what the production team did here is very impressive as they focused strongly on having computer-generated graphics that are photo-realistic. While it is true that there were some moments of fake-looking CGI, the heavy photo-realism on the graphics of Godzilla (combined with strategic camera angles that really captured the scope and size of the monster) easily outweighed the weak spots. The lighting effects used for the laser blasts were very impressive, even competitive with what Hollywood has been doing. As for the scenes of destruction, a mix of CGI and practical effects (specifically miniatures) was used. In fact, certain scenes showing Godzilla interacting with the environment was done with pushing a prop through miniatures which resulted a high level of detail with organic and solid stuff.

The spectacle would not have been that effective, however, without the solid musical work done by Shiro Sagisu. Not only did the music add a lot to the intense sequences of Godzilla, it also brought out the sense of dread and horror out of the monster especially in the night-time scene when he was towering over a large section of Tokyo that lost power. Sagisu was also involved in Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Conclusion

The emphasis on photo-realism on the computer-generated effects is something special.

I can say it out loud that Shin Godzilla (2016) is truly a spectacle to watch complete with tons of heavy drama, tons of information and the widest cast of characters to date. It is a new version of the Japanese icon that really impresses and when it comes to movie intelligence, it easily outshines many other Godzilla flicks. While it has a lot of spectacle to keep moviegoers entertained, its heaviness with the information and large cast of characters could turn off viewers who are not used to thinking and paying attention to lots of details while watching a giant monster movie. Personally, I welcomed the information overload and made efforts on paying close attention to the details and the characters. It really takes patience and focus to truly make the most out of the story and the overall presentation.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this movie for what it is and what its message was about with regards as to how governments should respond to immense disasters, what is Japan’s place in the world of the 21st century and, most notably, what Godzilla means to Japan and the international community. This is a very solid modernization of Godzilla and the Anno-Higuchi deserve admiration.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Shin Godzilla (2016), visit Amazon for the Blu-ray disc release and see if it has the right price and special features to satisfy you.  

Overall, Shin Godzilla (2016) is recommended!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Godzilla #1 (1995)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, comic book collectors, sci-fi enthusiasts and fellow geeks! You must have heard by now that pop culture icons Godzilla and King Kong will clash together on the big screen in Godzilla vs. Kong (2021). Check out the official trailer below.

Take note that this is NOT the first time the two giant monsters encountered each other on the big screen. In fact, there was a Japanese-produced movie that featured the two released in 1963 and it involved Ishirô Honda who himself directed the 1954 original Godzilla movie. As the decades passed by, Godzilla movies were viewed by lots of people around the world and by the time efforts were taken to realize a Hollywood-produced film showcasing Japan’s icon, its place in global pop culture was already sealed.

And here is the thing that should interest you all – before the 1998 Hollywood Godzilla film (directed by Roland Emmerich) was even released, Dark Horse Comics published a series of Godzilla comic books. Of course, this was not the first time Godzilla made its presence felt in illustrated literature but the mid-1990s series was an effort to modernize Japan’s icon with readers (and comic collectors) of the time.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Godzilla #1, published by Dark Horse Comics in 1995 with a story written by Kevin Maguire and drawn by Brandon McKinney.  

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a network television talk show focused on Godzilla and the possibility of it attacking North America. On the air, TV show host Kate Koshiro talks with research team G-Force member Take’ who states that Godzilla has been injected with poison and swam to the bottom of the ocean. Even so, they never found a corpse.

As the show goes on, it is revealed by Take’ that his team uses low-frequency signals which they hope will attract Godzilla and even pacify it. Take’ eventually begins to get nervous as Kate Koshiro presses him for details. Behind the scenes, personnel of G-Force watch the show on their giant monitor.

The G-Force personnel turn their attention away from the TV show as they have been alerted to the sudden emergence of Godzilla, 77 miles northwest of Vancouver…

Quality

The destructive power of Godzilla!

If you are looking for a good, original story of Godzilla to read, this comic book has it! To start with, it has a nice world concept of its own surrounding the monster. G-Force serves as the primary organization the world goes to not only for protection from Godzilla’s attacks but also extensive research-and-development (R&D) that can make breakthroughs the world can benefit from, and intelligence that the respective defense forces of nations can use.

The characters are an interesting mix with elements from G-Force and the American armed services doing most of the interaction, talking and exposition. The closest thing this comic book has to a human protagonist is Take’ who turned out to be more capable than being a researcher of G-Force.

As for Godzilla, there is nothing new with the monster’s portrayal even though it is confirmed to be sick with poison. Wherever Godzilla goes, a lot of destruction happens making it look like the antagonist to the reader. In other words, a typical Godzilla portrayal. Fortunately, the comic book creators succeeded in maintaining the giant’s presence strongly even though the narrative was primarily focused on the human characters.

Conclusion

Nothing like carrying the tremendous pressure that comes with the unexpected emergence of a gigantic monster.

Godzilla #1 (1995) is surprisingly entertaining to read. When I first read this comic book, I had modest expectations and just let myself discover what it has to offer. The good news here is that the comic creators crafted a story that is interesting and fun enough to read. Apart from focusing on Godzilla, the G-Force organization has an interesting cast of characters.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Godzilla #1 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $70.

Overall, Godzilla #1 (1995) is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Terminator 2: Cybernetic Dawn #1 (1995)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Like any geek, I still love watching Terminator 2: Judgment Day, specifically its extended version which was James Cameron’s true vision. I’m not exactly a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I really love his work in T2 as well as in Total Recall. When it comes to James Cameron’s works, I personally prefer T2 over Avatar, Titanic and True Lies.

As for the Terminator franchise itself, it spawned cinematic sequels that only turned up as disappointments. Terminator 2 was indeed the high point of the film franchise and everything really went downhill afterwards. I should state that Terminator: Dark Fate should be avoided as it is not worth your time and money.

Recently, I searched for some comic books that served as sequels to Terminator 2 and I found one from the mid-1990s and it is a direct follow-up! We can find out more in this look back at Terminator 2: Cybernetic Dawn #1, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Dan Abnett and Rod Whigham.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins immediately after the end of Terminator 2 with the injured Sarah Connor (with a very exhausted John Connor sleeping) still managing to drive the car in the middle of the night. As she drives, Sarah recalled that she never asked for the responsibility of preserving mankind as it was forced on her way back in 1984. She also recalled the time in Tech Noir when the Terminator almost killed her as she got saved by Kyle Reese.

By morning, Sarah and John reached the desert and returned to the lonely home of her old ally Enrique. Suddenly a man with a shotgun comes out and aims his weapon directly at Sarah. Carrying a gun, John comes out to help his mother…

Quality

John and Sarah Connor.

Let me start with the story and make clear to you readers that this comic book easily defies the conclusion that was set in the movie Terminator 2. If you have seen the film, you should be aware that the way it was concluded made sure there is no more future war and no more Terminators. Like the 2003 movie Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, this comic book just kept on pushing the concept that Judgement Day and the war with the machines are still inevitable and that Terminators from the future would only continue to arrive to hunt and kill John. As such, the hard struggle for Sarah and her son continues.

That being said, this comic book really pushed hard with its sequel approach. Remember what happened in the steel mill in Terminator 2? Several personnel investigated the facility and one particular detective arrived searching for Sarah Connor who has been labeled as an escapee from the state hospital. Inside the steel mill is the severed left arm of the Terminator (which got stuck to crushing mechanical wheels as seen in the 1991 movie) which is the storytelling key the comic book creators used to justify this sequel.  

To the comic creators’ credit, they did their research about T2 and even made references to other characters of that movie. As a result, this comic book appears loaded with fan service.

Even though it has many references and connections to the 1991 movie, this comic book also has some completely new stuff to expand on T2’s concept. The destruction of Cyberdyne’s facility in the movie resulted an emergency meeting of a corporation’s board of directors (and a certain senator) which creatively sets up further conflicts as well as struggles for Sarah and her son.

In terms of writing, this comic book’s story is cohesive enough. As for the art, the quality is fine and most notably, the illustrator managed to somewhat capture the likeness of Linda Hamilton on Sarah Connor.

Conclusion

The severed Terminator arm as the single factor that justified this sequel somewhat.

I can say that Terminator 2: Cybernetic Dawn #1 (1995) is a surprisingly satisfying read mainly due to its writing and artistic quality. While its push to justify a sequel barely succeeds, there is more good stuff than negative ones overall. As far as making sequels to Terminator 2 is concerned, this one is somewhat more believable than the 2003 movie.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Terminator 2: Cybernetic Dawn #1 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $19.

Overall, Terminator 2: Cybernetic Dawn #1 (1995) is satisfactory.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com