What I Hope to See in Microsoft’s Xbox Digital Event this July

This past May, Microsoft organized its first digital event of the year highlighting upcoming games produced by their publishing partners and independent developers for its next-generation Xbox Series X console. In case you missed that, watch the video.

Okay. There were several games showcased but in my honest opinion, the event felt underwhelming overall due to the presentation – there was just not enough real-time gameplay sequences shown as there was too much emphasis on showing the games’ concepts in a more cinematic fashion. Even The only games from that digital event that interested me were Dirt 5 and The Ascent.

This July, Microsoft has another digital event coming only this time it will be a showcase of upcoming Xbox Series X video games made by varied game studios working under the Xbox banner. A date has yet to be announced as of this writing.

As this will be a showcase of products from the 1st party game makers and announcements from Microsoft to prove their dedication with the next-generation of gaming, I hope to see the following happen.

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  • Halo Infinite showcased in both cinematic and real-time gameplay demonstration – It has been two years since Halo Infinite was first announced and with the expected Xbox Series X launch happening late this year, the time is right to emphasize that game’s concept with real-time cinematic scenes and show how it plays and what new gameplay features have been implemented by 343 Industries. Here is hoping that the developers have learned from the mistakes they made with Halo 5: Guardians.
  • Forza Motorsport 8 and Forza Horizon 5 announced together – this is a long shot but I hope to see the next-generation games of both Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon to be announced in the same event as this will be Microsoft’s chance to show why Xbox Series X will be the console of choice for gamers who love cars and racing (be it simulation or open-world) as well as the machine that will give racing-driving car developers all the resources and opportunities they need to make their dream projects come true. There’s no telling yet if the expected Forza Motorsport 8 will be a launch title with Xbox Series X but it is clear that a follow-up to Forza Motorsport 7 is already due. As for Forza Horizon 5, I don’t expect it to be released until 2022 but an early announcement would not hurt. Going back to Forza Motorsport 8, if any gameplay footage will be shown, here is hoping it will run in 4K resolution with 120 frames-per-second frame rate and ray-tracing turned on.
  • New Fable – Considering how long the next-generation Fable RPG (popularly referred to as Fable 4) has been rumored to be in production under Playground Games, this year is the right time to finally confirm it and show at least some concept art if no gameplay footage is available. The game makers should also make clear if the new Fable is a sequel or a reboot, and more importantly, emphasize what its fantasy concept will be, what kind of gameplay can be expected, and what the game’s tone will be like.
  • Brand new, 1st party open-world video game – When it comes to open-world games involving Microsoft, I am NOT a fan of the Crackdown franchise of games and I certainly don’t want to see that game series to continue at all. Considering how many game studios are working under the Xbox banner, I’d rather see a brand new open-world game that will not only be different from Crackdown but be a lot of fun (regardless of what its concept will be), be very engaging and be made with high-grade quality production values. It will also be an opportunity for an Xbox game studio to make an open-world adventure game that can be different from the fantasy, crime or post-apocalyptic concepts.
  • The Outer Worlds sequel plus new RPGs from Obsidian Entertainment – I love playing and replaying The Outer Worlds on my Xbox One, and I certainly hope to see Obsidian Entertainment announce a sequel (at least show a video), only this time it will be Xbox-exclusive now that they are owned by Microsoft. Given the very positive critical and commercial success of The Outer Worlds, making a sequel that can be bigger and even better is the way to go. Going beyond The Outer Worlds, I hope that brand new RPGs will be announced.
  • More from Ninja Theory – I hope to see more of what Ninja Theory could do. They already showed a video of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II some months back and I hope they will show actual gameplay of it this time. Apart from that upcoming sequel, it would be nice to see what new games they are working on will be announced.
  • The Initiative’s first game – The Initiative is a new game studio set up by Microsoft which reportedly has a lot of very talented game developers working together in Santa Monica, California. What they are working on remains unknown but I hope that at least an announcement about their first game will be made.
  • Xbox Series S console – While I personally want the Xbox Series X to replace my aging Xbox One, to see the rumored Xbox Series S console (expected to be smaller, less powerful and more affordable) get confirmed and showcased will still be welcome. I hope to see it having a very compact design (note: most likely it will come without an UHD Blu-ray drive), very good graphical and technical performance and a $199 tag price.
  • At least one new game each from the other Xbox game studios announced – The other Xbox game studios like Undead Labs, Rare, inXile Entertainment, Double Fine and Compulsion Games should each have something new to be announced. I’m talking about new, Xbox-exclusive games that gamers are willing to wait for to be completed and released. As for The Coalition, I don’t expect a new Gears of War sequel to be announced yet.
  • $399 launch price for Xbox Series X – This is something I really hope will be confirmed by Microsoft. Considering that Microsoft itself can afford to lose some money on launching hardware as they make money from Xbox Game Pass and paid services and game sales via Xbox LIVE, a $399 launch price will definitely make Xbox Series X a very attractive next-generation console for consumers. Granted, the technologies and components for Xbox Series X are surely expensive (apart from the amount of money spent on developing the console) and the Xbox One X itself was launched at $499 in 2017, but still a $399 launch price is not impossible for Microsoft to pull off. In terms of competition, the attractive launch theoretical launch price will add tremendous pressure to Sony to follow suit with PS5.

Now that those are the things I hope to see, we can only wait for Microsoft to announce exactly when this July they will organize their digital event. Stay tuned!


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

Carlo Carrasco’s Game Review: Resident Evil 3 Remake (single player)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing the video game Resident Evil 3 Remake and doing 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.

Even though 1999’s Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was a side-story and its concept was smaller in scale compared to the acclaimed Resident Evil 2 (1998), I still had a lot of fun with that game and its key features made it very worthy of replaying. Like last year’s Resident Evil 2 remake, RE3 was remade and shortly after it became available on April 3, I got to play it, finished it three times and I should say I also had fun with it.

You must be wondering…how much fun is the Resident Evil 3 Remake? Is it anywhere as deep as the remake of RE2? Does this new game honor the legacy of its original counterpart from 1999? Is it worth the full retail price? Let’s start with this game review focused mainly on the single-player story campaign.

Early Story

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Raccoon City ruined.

The story begins on September 28, 1998 with Raccoon City getting infested with zombies as a result of an outbreak of T-Virus (directly connected with the events that led to Resident Evil 2). People have no choice but to run for their lives as the police struggle to save civilians. Meanwhile, Jill Valentine is inside her apartment making moves to leave the city since the city police force don’t believe her story about what happened at the Spencer Mansion (Resident Evil).

After answering a phone call from a very concerned Brad Vickers, a huge human figure (Nemesis) covered in dark material suddenly breaks through the wall and attempts to kill her. Jill fortunately fights back and after enduring a few close calls, she manages to get away from the monster and out of the building.

She makes her way to the street where she meets Brad Vickers and together, they face an onslaught of many zombies. After barely getting inside a joint, Brad (who got bitten by a zombie) struggles to keep the door closed and urges Jill to run away to survive. Now on her own, Jill has to find ways to survive and get out of the zombie-filled Raccoon City

Gameplay

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An encounter with Nemesis is often intense.

Like last year’s big budget remake of RE2, RE3 Remake is a 3rd person shooter mixed with exploration, item management, problem solving and the like. As required to move the story forward, you will control Jill to collect items, manage them carefully with the limited space for carrying, fulfill objectives and meet characters at key points of the story. Along the way, you will encounter zombies, grotesque monsters and, of course, Nemesis.

There are some notable differences from RE2, however. The most obvious difference is that RE3 remake was designed to be somewhat faster-paced (note: it’s not like the characters you control really run fast) and more action-oriented in terms of shooting as well as evading. In obvious tribute to the 1999 RE3, this game allows you to dodge attacks from zombies/monsters/Nemesis. If you succeed with perfectly timing your dodge, you will be granted a few seconds (with some slow motion) to immediately fire back at the enemy that you evaded.

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If you damage Nemesis enough, he will drop a supply case which often contains a very useful item. 

Unlike RE2 remake, the personal knife does not degrade and therefore it could be used as many times as you want. However, when a zombie grabs you to bite you, there is no prompt to use the knife to fight back and avoid getting bitten (this particular function was normal in RE2 remake). Another new thing in this video game is the presence of item boxes which you can “open” by shooting or using a knife to break it.

Because the in-game environment of RE3 remake includes the ruined streets and alleys of Raccoon City, you get more spacious places move around. Of course, this means more zombies occupying certain spaces for you to kill or strategically pass by. With the street-and-alleys set-up, there are a few red barrels that are explosive (you can destroy many zombies with one blast) and a few generators that electrocutes and stops monsters (even Nemesis) to shoot at.

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The return of the Hunter Beta is a welcome challenge!

When it comes acts and action, Jill gets to fight using the knife, grenade, flash grenade, handgun (including the burst gun), shotgun, magnum and the grenade launcher while Carlos uses the assault rifle (apart from the knife, grenade, flash grenade and handgun). Jill can evade, enter tight spots and use the lock pick while Carlos can do the defensive strike. For the most part, the controls are responsive which is good.

In terms of gameplay, RE3 remake is faster and more action-oriented counterpart to RE2 remake.

Presentation

As far as production values are concerned, RE3 remake is more cinematic and has improved visuals technically and artistically. For the visuals, the photo-realism has been pushed forward more by the game developers on the characters, the monsters and their in-game environment. The protagonist Jill Valentine looks very lifelike and with model Sasha Zotova’s likeness used, she sure beats Gears 5’s heroine Kait when it comes to photo-realism and looking very human. The facial expressions are top-notch and I love the way how in-game lighting showed its effects on the environment on the characters.

The photo-realism and impressive facial animation are not limited to Jill, obviously, as other characters like Carlos, Mikhail (who was made to look older this time), Tyrell and the villainous Nicholai (who was made to look younger and slimmer than his previous version) really look great. On top of that, the voice acting is excellent across all the characters. That being said, Carlos now sounds more mature and believable as a person which is a tremendous improvement over the voice of his original version in 1999.

And there is Nemesis, the one over-sized bio weapon that targets members of S.T.A.R.S. Nemesis was redesigned with photo-realism in mind and he sure looks monstrous, especially in the later stages in the game. Compared to his original version in 1999, Nemesis is very strong, can use weapons of his own, uses a tendril to pull Jill to him, can actually leap ahead of Jill and even mutate zombies on the spot. Another noticeable difference that’s been dividing fans of the original RE3 and this game, is that Nemesis in this remake is limited to scripted events in key locations and as such, he is not the constant stalker that Mr. X was in the RE2 remake. In the RE3 game of 1999, Nemesis would randomly appear and run after Jill. That’s not the same experience in this remake which is disappointing.

Another disappointment I have state here in relation to encountering Nemesis (and other monsters) is the absence of live selection sequences which was a defining feature of the original RE3. Once you encounter Nemesis in this remake, it’s either you avoid and outrun him, or you can fight him and strike him hard enough to stop him temporarily (and make him suddenly drop a huge equipment case for you to pick up). You encounter the Hunter Beta or the Hunter Gamma or the Pale Head zombie, it’s either you kill them or they kill you. Without the live selection sequences, there is really no variety in the encounters.

When it comes to the in-game environments and the overall story structure, this game is noticeably shorter and locations are noticeable smaller and more linear. This is another disappointment because the ruined city environment failed to live up to expectations as it was designed to be limited in terms of places to visit and explore. Even the ruined city environment in 1999’s Resident Evil 3 has literally more locations to explore compared to this remake. Also don’t expect to see the city park, the city graveyard and city clock tower from the old game to appear as explorable levels here.

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One of many in-game zombies players will encounter.

The game designers apparently knew fans would notice what places from the old game are lacking, and so they heavily expanded exploration in the medical center and they even included a secret passageway into a certain underground facility which made the game still feel fresh.

On the story structure, RE3 remake followed the concept of the original game but made a major twist which really caught me off-guard the first time I finished this game. It’s a nice twist and I never imagined that I get to use a specific character (note: as with the old game, only Jill and Carlos are playable in select sections) visiting a notable location.

When it comes to the presentation of the characters compared to the 1999 game, I can say that Jill is pretty much like her past version but says some lines with sarcasm and makes clear to Carlos that she’s tougher than she looks. Having played the past Resident Evil games, I can tell that this remade Jill Valentine is struggling with the frustration over the mission at the mansion since her superiors refused to believe her (note: lack of evidence and the destruction of the place). Ultimately, this remake succeeds in telling a very defining story about Jill which added more to her status as an icon of the Resident Evil franchise as a whole.

Carlos meanwhile is a more believable character thanks to not only the above-mentioned improved voice acting but also because of better writing. As for Nicholai, he’s more motivated by greed and mentions working for an unnamed client. He’s the type of character who annoys you and makes you wish he would be killed. Mikhail does not change much apart from looking older but Tyrell’s role here is heavily expanded.

Horror? Unsurprisingly this game has some elements of horror but nowhere does it come close to what was presented in the RE2 remake. It’s an action-oriented game after all but that’s not to say it’s the mindless, blazing guns festival like Resident Evil 5.. Also I should mention that there are very few puzzles here.

Conclusion

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We gamers want more value for our money, Capcom!

Resident Evil 3 remake is action-packed, engaging and a fun video game to play even if you are not a fan of the long-running video game franchise. It has very high production values and the best cinematic cut-scenes in any RE game to date. What prevents this game from achieving excellence, apart from having a smaller concept compared to RE2 remake, is that the game is rather short and there is only ONE ending. This makes this game’s replay value much lower when compared to the original RE3 of 1999 which had more than one ending and references to other RE characters displayed (each time the 1999 game got finished). Sure the remake rewards players with points for fulfilling challenges and allows them to use the points to acquire post-game stuff in the in-game store, but this does not make up for the short length and single ending.

If there is anything Capcom should do to boost the replay value as well as the overall value of this remake, it’s for them to produce and release a story driven DLC (downloadable content) to expand the story campaign and add an additional ending. By now, the game makers should realize they missed several opportunities to deepen and make the remake great.

Overall, Resident Evil 3 is recommended only when its price is at least 50% off.


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

Latest Previews of Resident Evil 3 Remake Revealed Too Much

Hey fellow gamers and geeks!

Chances are, you may have seen the latest video previews of the much-awaited remake of Resident Evil 3 as published by varied media outlets like IGN, GameSpot and others in coordination with Capcom.

Like anyone else, I am personally excited for the remake and I was fortunate enough to have played the original version of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on the original PlayStation way back in 1999. How different were the times back in 1999 – no Xbox LIVE yet, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram and no YouTube yet.

Out of curiosity, I went on to watch the video previews of the RE3 remake hoping to see the latest.

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Jill in an encounter with Nemesis.

To my regret, it turned out that Capcom gave the gaming press too much to show. In short, spoilers were made without restraint. Apart from story and character details, there were key sections and visual elements from the game that I believe should have been kept secret. Those details, sections and visual elements could have been saved as big surprises for the gamers (especially the millions of younger gamers who never played the original Resident Evil 3), but they were spoiled! How unfortunate it was for me to have seen them.

In writing this, for those who have not yet seen those recent video previews, I will not share those here. In fact, I urge you to avoid seeing them. Regarding new stuff from those previews, I only used two screenshots to keep spoilers very minimal here.

What I can share here that is not a spoiler at all is that Capcom’s developers implemented a modernized way of dodging in the game effectively even as the default 3rd person, over-the-shoulder is used. The way it looks, dodging in the remake seems more responsive than the hit-or-miss dodging in the original RE3.

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Jill and Carlos.

Just wait for the game’s April 2020 release instead and enjoy the game with limited exposure to the online previews (including text articles that shared a lot of the spoilers that the recent video previews carried).

You have been warned.


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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. 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 Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

In this age of photo-realistic 3D graphics in video gaming, I sure miss the days when 2D gaming and highly detailed pixel art were the standard. I’m referring to the so-called 16-bit era of the Super NES/SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) back in the 1990s.

In 1991, Super Star Wars was released on the Super NES and it became a big hit with the gamers, the critics and fans. That game was heralded as one of the best video game adaptations of movies.

Naturally, a follow-up to that game was released in 1993 – Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

That being said, here is my retro gaming review of Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

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The experience of using a Rebel speeder to bring down an AT-AT walker with the cable remains awesome.

Developed by Sculptured Software and LucasArts and published in America by JVC, this game is based on The Empire Strikes Back which today has been considered to be the greatest Star Wars movie ever. Of course, in order to make a cohesive video game adaptation out of the classic movie, a lot of liberties were taken when it comes to following the story. This was inevitable as the game developers needed a lot of creative freedom to make a cohesive video game.

Early story (and some notable differences from the movie)

Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back begins with Luke Skywalker riding a Tauntaun. Unlike the movie, Luke (controlled by players) visits some places of the wasteland of Hoth, notably caverns and hills fighting several forms of wild life (including wampa beasts), and even some probe droids.

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Luke jumping on to a wampa beast.

Unlike the movie, Luke does not get rescued by Han Solo in the wilderness. Instead he defeats a giant-sized probe droid and a giant-sized wampa beast (as in-game bosses) and make his way back to Echo Base to rejoin the rebels. Upon returning at the base, he finds it filled with Imperial troopers and their machines (where are Luke’s fellow rebels?) and fights his way through to fly a rebel speeder (note: without the movie co-pilot Dak) and proceed in the Battle of Hoth.

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This never happened in the movie.
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Luke jumping into a snow speeder without a co-pilot.

Back at Echo Base, Han Solo (player-controlled) has to make his way through a wave of Imperial enemies and machines to meet Princess Leia, secure her and ride away on the Millenium Falcon. The Falcon (player-controlled) enters the asteroid field being attacked gradually by over twenty TIE Fighters. Once all of them have been eliminated, the Falcon jumps into light speed (which contradicts the movie).

Gameplay

Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is composed mostly of 2D, side-scrolling action sequences in which players control their characters moving from left to right in order to make the game progress. The sequences are filled with lots of action-packed moments mainly due to the MANY enemies challenging the players plus sequences of shooting, jumping and using special weapons (note: the thermal detonator was awesome to use). When it comes to filling up the health meter of your character, defeating enemies result random releases of hearts (symbolizing health) which you need to pick up. Key side-scrolling segments of the game will have players facing off with in-game bosses or enemies that are large, intimidating and have their own health meters for players to reduce to zero.

As typical with most 2D side-scrolling games of the era, this game is really tough and will take gamers some patience and perseverance to complete.

What really stood out in this game are the makeshift 3D segments (made possible by Mode 7) which were pretty extensive and really interactive. The Battle of Hoth in Mode 7 was pretty engaging as players get to fly a rebel speeder over a snowy field complete with lots of Imperial enemies (including the AT-ST walkers and the AT-AT walkers) and each of them is composed of multiple 2D sprites making them look 3D as the speeder moves around. Apart from simply shooting, the interactive sequence of tagging an AT-AT walker with a cable, flying around it and wrapping it with the cable, and then watching it fall to the ground really is an awesome gaming experience which really showed how hard the game developers pushed 2D visuals and pixel art.

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A Mode 7 sequence late in the game had players using an X-Wing fighter.
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The Battle of Hoth was a great and lengthy use of Mode 7.

Apart from the Battle of Hoth, there was also another Mode 7 sequence involving the X-Wing Fighter approaching Cloud City. That particular sequence was noticeably shorter and did not have a standout action sequence as it was limited to the X-Wing Fighter simply shooting Bespin fighters. Another non-2D segment was the Millenium Falcon’s flight through the asteroid field which was done with the cockpit view (first-person view exactly) in which you move a cursor for targeting and moving the ship to. This segment was pretty tough because players were not only required to eliminate more than 20 TIE Fighters but also avoid incoming asteroids and maintaining the Falcon’s energy shields (which serves as a health meter)

Going back to the 2D side-scrolling segments, the use of the lightsaber by Luke remains a lot of fun to do. Not only could he slash bad guys, he could use the lightsaber defensively protecting himself from incoming energy blasts (which get deflected by the lightsaber). On the offense, Luke can jump into the air and spin with the lightsaber turned on making him an aerial slasher over the bad guys.

In keeping with the theme of the movie showing Luke Skywalker learning to be a Jedi, the Dagobah segment in the game has Luke gaining varied Force powers and he also has a separate Force energy meter. The Force powers can be used in subsequent segments of the game and they are quite useful when Luke encounters Darth Vader as the final boss in Cloud City.

The fights with Darth Vader were nicely designed. With creative freedom, the game developers expanded on Darth Vader’s use of the Force to move several pieces of debris and machines towards Luke who has to defend himself from all sides. Fighting Darth Vader with the lightsaber was tricky and for the most part, I had Luke slashing on villain with just enough space between them and many times I had Luke use the lightsaber on him while jumping and spinning in the air. Defeating Vader was a requirement to complete the game.

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Very nice artwork made for the storytelling cut scenes.

Finally, like in Super Star Wars, players can also play as Han Solo (special attack: grenade throw) and Chewbacca (special attack: offensive spin) but only in specific segments of the game supposedly to keep in line with its story.

Conclusion

Even by today’s standards, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is still a high-quality video game that is a lot of fun to play with even though it is tough (a password system is used for in-game progress so that gamers can come back to continue) all throughout. Gameplay aside, the presentation of visuals and audio is also very solid. The sprites for the in-game characters, enemies, machines and animal were detailed to look at while the background art were immersive (like in the movies, Cloud City, Hoth and Dagobah had their distinctive visuals). The Super NES audio chip was greatly used on recreating 16-bit sound from the movies, especially John Williams’ movie scores and lightsaber sound effects.

Take note that this game was released in 1993 which is significant in the sense that people had moved on since the release of the movie Return of the Jedi (1983) and the Star Wars prequel trilogy did not begin until 1999 with Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. This game was released at a time when 2D gaming was still in strong demand and most gamers did not expect that 3D polygonal graphics would reshape video gaming eventually. In retrospect, the polygon-focused gaming consoles Sega Saturn and the original Sony PlayStation launched in late 1994 or more than a year after Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

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The inevitable battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

I myself had lots of fond memories playing this game back in the mid-1990s. I simply endured the many challenges of it and ultimately had a lot of enjoyment completing it. I even replayed the game from the start even though I knew how the game presented the ending and key story elements of the movie. I also got to replay The Empire Strikes Back on home video around the time I played this game.

Believe it or not, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was the first of the Super Star Wars trilogy on the Super NES that I actually played. After completing it, I borrowed the Super Star Wars cartridge from a friend and later bought a copy of Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. I completed those two other games and I can clearly say that Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back remains the best in game design, the best in terms of fun factor and the most memorable of them all.

If you love Star Wars and you want the best 16-bit era video game (note: you’ll need a working Super NES console or Nintendo’s Virtual Console for any Super Star Wars game) experience of it, Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is highly recommended.


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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. 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

Wonder Woman 1984 First Movie Trailer is Impressive

Hey readers, moviegoers and geeks! Were you able to watch the official, first movie trailer of Wonder Woman 1984? It was released globally today online and, in case you have not seen it, here is the movie trailer for your viewing pleasure.

That movie trailer, which was released around the time the Wonder Woman 1984 special event at the CCXP in Brazil ended, was a blast and having seen it, I am more excited for the movie’s June 2020 release. I plan to watch it on an IMAX screen by then.

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Official movie character poster for Wonder Woman 1984.

What can I say? It does not only have the 1980s setting (hence the year on the movie title), but the said time setting was made to be very lively in terms of visuals, fashion, style, music and feel. When it comes the decade in real life, it was the same decade when DC Comics published the maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths. Following Crisis, a major relaunch of the entire DC Comics universe followed and along the way Wonder Woman was reintroduced under the creative direction of George Perez. The George Perez-era of Wonder Woman, at least seen in the trailer, is looking like a big influence on the new movie starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine (whose character Steve Trevor returns somehow) and directed by Patty Jenkins. This brings me to my next point.

Early in the trailer, Diana/Wonder Woman was shown talking with archaeologist Barbara Ann Minerva (played by Kristen Wiig). What’s so significant about Minerva? She is none other than the super villain Cheetah, specifically the 3rd version of the character that debuted in the comic books during the George Perez-era of Wonder Woman!

Here are some images from the pages of Wonder Woman #9 from 1988.

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All of the above images are properties of DC Comics.

As I mentioned before, the involvement of Cheetah in the movie is alone a great attraction. As far as the trailer goes, we only see Cheetah in her normal human form with Kristen Wiig. The way I see it, we will eventually see the super villain in her terrifying, animal-like form. I am speculating the filmmakers will save that for the movie’s release and will only show very brief, body part shots in the next two movie trailers leading into June 2020. It’s much better this way especially under the watch of Walter Hamada.

Regarding the return of Steve Trevor, I don’t want to speculate as to how he returns given what happened in the acclaimed Wonder Woman movie of 2017. Still, it sure is nice to Chris Pine return as Diana’s romantic partner because he and Gal Gadot have solid chemistry together and there is indeed a need to present more cinematic adventures of them together just like in the comic books!

As seen in the trailer, some shots showing Wonder Woman and Steve traveling together in a foreign land (with a desert environment) where they encounter military hardware operated by some group (or a government perhaps?). This is clearly a Cold War reference although which particular setting or historical event the movie is emphasizing remains to be revealed.

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Maxwell Lord.
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Barbara Ann Minerva/Cheetah.
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Steve Trevor.

The Cold War setting is the new era emphasized for Wonder Woman 1984. Story details are unintentionally light but what was shown in the trailer made the movie very promising.

As for other elements like the cinematic Maxwell Lord, shots of Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s armor and others, I’ll discuss those next time. Right now, things are looking great for Wonder Woman 1984 and we’ll see more what the filmmakers have left to offer in the next two movie trailers.

If my sources are correct, the creative synergy of director Patty Jenkins combined with passionate work implemented by Gal Gadot on playing the Queen of Superheroes should result a great Wonder Woman cinematic story as well as a solid superhero movie. On the part of Warner Bros. Pictures, it seems the studio and its creative teams are now in more solid footing when it comes to making new DC Comics superhero movies. The DC Comics cinematic stuff will resume on February 2020 with the release of Birds of Prey.

Wonder Woman 1984 will open in cinemas around the world on June 2020.

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Wonder Woman 1984 star Gal Gadot with cosplayers and fans during the CCXP in Brazil. (photo source – Wonder Woman Facebook page)

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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. 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 Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man

When Marvel Comics launched its 2099 franchise back in 1992 with Spider-Man 2099, clamor for having the futuristic hero meet up with the classic Spider-Man (Peter Parker) quickly followed.

Back in those days, crossovers were already popular and sold nicely with collectors. The Infinity Gauntlet of 1991 was an epic, universe-wide crossover done nicely by Jim Starlin, George Perez and Ron Lim. That limited series sold well, Marvel followed it up with The Infinity War (1992) and The Infinity Crusade (1993).  Even the disjointed The X-cutioner’s Song crossover of the X-Men comic books of 1992 kept the fans coming back for more.

For the 2099 universe, the franchise had strong launches with the respective first issues of Spider-Man 2099, Doom 2099, Punisher 2099, Ravage 2099 and even the first latecomer series X-Men 2099. Back in 1993, having the said 2099 heroes mix together was realized in the 5-part crossover The Fall of the Hammer.

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The cover by Rick Leonardi with ink work by Al Williamson. 

No matter what the trends back then, Spider-Man 2099 proved to be the most engaging series of the 2099 line of comic books arguably due to the in-depth storytelling of Peter David. Back in the 1980s, David worked at the direct sales team of Marvel Comics before moving into the editorial team as a writer. And, yes, he got to write for the Spectacular Spider-Man (originally titled Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man). Early on, Peter David made quite an impact with readers with the 4-part story The Death of Jean DeWolff in the said monthly series.

Many years later, David joined other comic book creators – including the late Stan Lee – on launching the 2099 franchise with Spider-Man 2099. He created a lot from scratch to establish the futuristic Spidey and made his mark on the 2099 universe.

“I don’t remember exactly which aspects of the 2099 were already part of the initial setup when I came aboard. I do know, though, that there was almost nothing specific for Spider-Man other than that he was, well, Spider-Man and (I think this was part of what I was handed) an employee of Alchemax. I was the one, though, who came up with his identity, the way his powers worked, the supporting cast, all of that. I even had a hand in designing the costume; not that I could draw a lick, but I sat there with Rick Leonardi during the first 2099 get together and described to him what I wanted, and he executed it perfectly, building upon what I suggested and improving it. I watched that costume come to life for the first time under Rick’s pencil. It was one of the single best collaborative moments in my life,” David said in a CBR.com interview.

This brings us back to the year 1995 when Marvel published the one-shot special crossover comic book designed to attract Spider-Man 2099 fans and the many millions of followers of the classic Peter Parker Spider-Man. That comic book was Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man written by Peter David and drawn by Rick Leonardi.

Let’s take a close look.

The comic book

The story begins in the far future of 2099 wherein Spider-Man (Peter Parker) from the 20th century finds himself lost in time and chased by the floating law enforcers who saw him as a danger to the public. Even though his costume is different, one of the law enforcers mistook him for Spider-Man 2099. Predictably, Spider-Man struggles to overcome and get away from them.

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Spider-Man in 2099!
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Spider-Man 2099 inside the Daily Bugle.

Meanwhile in the 20th century, Miguel O’Hara mistakenly arrives “home” only to find himself (naked no less) on the same bed as Mary Jane Parker (Spidey’s wife) who is also naked. This only confirms to him that he is lost in time. He immediately decides to get away from MJ and explore the city of New York which does not have the futuristic society he grew up with.

In an attempt to deal with the new reality, Spider-Man 2099 visits Peter Parker’s workplace – The Daily Bugle. He encounters Peter’s boss J. Jonah Jameson who mistook him as their time’s Spider-Man just wearing a new suit.

“You think you can fool me with a wardrobe change, you wall-crawling freak? Whatever your demented plan is, it won’t work,” Jameson told the disguised Miguel O’Hara who reacts by putting web on his mouth in front of the employees.

While the two superheroes struggle with being lost in time, Tyler Stone of Alchemax and Hikaru-Sama discuss something sinister.

Quality

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Spider-Man with Miguel O’Hara’s brother and Layla.

In terms of storytelling, Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man is messy even though there were efforts to have the two superheroes switch time settings that would allow them to explore different societies and mix up with their past supporting characters (example: Peter Parker Spidey meeting with Miguel’s brother and artificial intelligence Layla). What also hurt the storytelling was the lack of a very engaging antagonist. The futuristic Green Goblin the creators came up with was very lame.

The art by Rick Leonardi was barely satisfying and the sad thing is that none of his visuals – including the 2-page shot of the two superheroes together – delivered any impact. As Leonardi worked regularly on Spider-Man 2099, his art style of 20th century New York did not give me much immersion. J. Jonah Jameson was barely recognizable with Leonardi’s drawing.

To get straight to the point, this comic book is a major disappointment. It failed miserably to bring the two main characters together in a satisfying manner as there was an overabundance of build-up. By the time the two superheroes met, it was way too late for the comic book to be engaging and fun to read. With only seven pages available for the anticipated encounter, there was way too little of having Spider-Man and his 2099 counterpart together. So much could have been done to make the two superheroes interact and work together with a lot of impact but I suppose Marvel did not give the creative team enough time (and pages) to work with which resulted this disappointment.

By comparison, I found Spider-Man 2099’s encounter with Venom much more satisfying to read. Spider-Man’s encounter with Vulture 2099, meanwhile, was satisfying. Sometimes I felt that it would have been better for Marvel to publish a Spider-Man 2099 versus Venom standalone crossover comic book than this 1995 crossover disappointment!

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This is the BEST thing about this disappointing comic book. 

If you are determined to risk wasting your money by actually getting a physical copy, then be aware that a near-mint copy of Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man will cost you, believe it or not, over $40 at MileHighComics.com

Financial value aside, this comic book’s entertainment value is pretty low. It’s not a badly made crossover comic book but it sure remains a big disappointment considering its concept. Ultimately, Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man is not recommended. You have been warned.


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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. 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

Carlo Carrasco’s Comic Book Review: 2099 Alpha #1

Hey comic book fans! It is finally official! The 2099 universe of Marvel Comics has been revived with the release of 2099 Alpha #1 which I bought at the local comic book store here in Alabang, Muntinlupa, Philippines. The comic book that was available had a Spider-Man 2099 variant cover and it carried a hefty $4.99 price!

So you must be wondering…is the comic book any good? Does it capture the look and feel of the 2099 universe that first appeared in comic books back in the 1990s? Any significant changes in terms of storytelling and visuals?

Here is my review of 2099 Alpha #1.

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The variant cover showing Spider-Man 2099 with Spidey and related characters from the past.

Written by Nick Spencer with art by Viktor Bogdanovic (colors provided by Marte Garcia), the comic begins in The Ravage (note: this is NOT the failed 2099 hero of Stan Lee and Paul Ryan) where a little boy finds Thor’s hammer but abandons it as he saw some monsters coming. The story then shifts to Brooklyn where Jake Gallows (Punisher 2099) gets into a violent encounter with a man before finally meeting the backup he called for. Then they see a sign that their god, Thor, is now in a merciful mood.

In Nueva York, Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man 2099) talks with Tyler Stone inside an Alchemax tower. Tyler examines what Miguel brought to them and he mentions an incoming threat. Elsewhere, Conan appears struggling in battle with some people. From a distance, Doom 2099 watches and he has the Watcher captive.

Quality

To put it short, 2099 Alpha #1 is really a set-up type of comic book designed to immerse readers into the 2099 universe which now looks darker, grittier and more twisted than the way it was first presented back in the 1990s. Because the spotlight shifts from one place to the next, showing multiple characters, there really is not much meat in the storytelling. Really, thirty pages of art and story were made but ultimately ended up being not so engaging.

The art of Viktor Bogdanovic shows the 2099 universe to be a depressing setting and his art on classic characters like Spider-Man 2099, Punisher 2099 and Doom 2099 make them look unrecognizable. I remember Jake Gallows being huge and buff but in this comic book, he looks like he lost a lot of muscle and ended up looking ordinary.

Conclusion

Overall, 2099 Alpha #1 is an expensive disappointment and it is easily the weakest new comic book I bought all year long. There is a lot of suspense, expository details and even some horrific imagery, but ultimately there is no real fun to experience here. At $4.99, this is too expensive and it is a waste as it failed to engage and entertain me. Let me add that I lowered my expectation for this revival of the 2099 universe since the teaser announcement was made months ago. Back then, I anticipated that the new guys handling the 2099 universe of comics will take it to a new direction (move far away from what made the 2099 universe in the 1990s memorable and distinct) and this overpriced comic book is an early confirmation of it.

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Recognize any of these characters?

Of course, there are still several other 2099 comics from Marvel that will be launched next month, including Spider-Man 2099 #1, Venom 2099 #1, Ghost Rider 2099 #1 and more. We will find out soon enough if those comic books will share the same dark and gritty style of 2099 Alpha #1 or not.

Ultimately, 2099 Alpha #1 is not recommended. As long as it is sold at cover price, avoid it.

+++++

If you are nostalgic of the 1990s 2099 universe, check out my reviews of Spider-Man 2099 #1 and #25, Ravage 2099 #1 and X-Men 2099 #1.


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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. 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

 

 

 

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Terminator: Dark Fate

I will just say it straight and clearly – the Terminator film franchise is truly unnecessary today and, having seen its debut in the year 1984 (written and directed by a very young James Cameron), I should say that the saga really ended with 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron’s masterpiece).

Out of curiosity, instead of anticipation, I got to watch Terminator: Dark Fate at the local cinema. Having been disappointed with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator: Salvation (a bad movie notorious for Christian Bale’s loss of self-control) and Terminator: Genisys (the most insulting and most screwed up film of the franchise), I had low expectations for Dark Fate.

Ultimately, I left the cinema disappointed yet again although the experience was not as bad as that of 2015 (with Genisys).

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Clearly, the filmmakers took inspiration from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and mix the more established film franchise stars (in supporting roles) with the younger actors.

To put it short, Terminator: Dark Fate took creative inspiration from 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This means it was made with recycled concepts, told the story through its new characters (played by actors who are much younger and who are supposed to appeal to younger viewers) and back them up with the old, more iconic actors (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton) limited to supporting roles. When it comes to presentation, this new movie felt more like a roller coaster ride than an actual story laced with spectacle stage-by-stage.

That is pretty much how Terminator: Dark Fate turned out. It does not matter that this was directed by Tim Miller, the guy behind 2016’s Deadpool. It does not matter that the great James Cameron got involved with producing and story credit (he shared with a few other names). It does not matter that this movie was made with a large budget of $185 million and relied heavily on computers to generate the visuals (which look fake most of the time). Whatever the preparations made, they did not matter at all because Terminator: Dark Fate is a rushed and creative disappointment that does not deserve your time nor your money.

The movie opened with archived footage of Sarah Connor expressing the darkness of the future coming. This was immediately followed by a scene set in 1998 showing Sarah and her son John living in an age in which Judgment Day did NOT occur on August 29, 1997. Suddenly another Terminator T-800 Model 101 (another Schwarzenegger-type Terminator) appears and actually kills John Connor leaving Sarah in turmoil.

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This is the protector sent through time by the human resistance.

John Connor, who has been a central story element in the 1984 and 1991 (memorably played by Edward Furlong) movies as he was destined to be the human resistance leader in the war with Skynet, was eliminated so quickly in the opening of this new movie very similar to how the character of Dwayne Hicks (played by Michael Biehn in the James Cameron-directed Aliens) got killed in a very dismissive way in the beginning of Alien 3. This move was nothing less than cynical, ill-conceived and even a daring disservice to Terminator fans.

From this point on, Terminator: Dark Fate turns into a “what if John Connor was dead and a new future war followed?” type of story.

Even though Judgment Day got prevented in relation to what Sarah and John achieved in Terminator 2, a new war between man and machines in the far future still occurs only this time Skynet is no more and the new enemy artificial intelligence (AI) this time is called Legion. This new story concept, by the way, is pretty insulting to any fan who loved the first two films directed by James Cameron as those flicks told a complete saga.

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This is the new, future leader of the human resistance.

And then the plot of The Terminator got recycled. A human fighter is sent back through time to protect a person who is destined to become the leader of the human resistance. Also sent back through time is a Terminator designed to look human and infiltrate society with a mission to kill the future human resistance leader. This is essentially what Terminator: Dark Fate truly is and even though Sarah Connor returned (plus another Terminator T-800 played by Schwarzenegger), there really is nothing new, nothing fresh and nothing worth enjoying.

When it comes to quality, this movie does not have much standing for it. The new characters are not engaging at all and their respective performers really had nowhere to go to engage moviegoers. Mackenzie Davis playing the new combat-ready protector only served to beef the film with action and there is nothing compelling about her act, nor did the script provide anything to make her androgynous character memorable. The new human resistance leader played by Natalia Reyes is forgettable and unbelievable even though she tried hard being dramatic. Compared with Sarah Connor in 1984’s The Terminator, the chosen one Dani Ramos in the film was transformed from a struggling, working-class person into a brave fighter in a very rushed and unconvincing manner. Also, if you take a close look at Natalia Reyes, she is too short to be a figure of authority, too small to use weapons and her act is clearly sub-par in terms of quality making her big misfire in terms of casting. The performance, script and directing really had no depth when it comes to developing the characters.

The new Terminator (Rev-9) played by Gabriel Luna was nothing more than an uninspired attempt to outdo the T-1000 of Terminator 2. Luna was decent with playing cold and emotionless but when he acts human to infiltrate human society, he’s just generic at best.

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This is the new cinematic villain that won’t stop to kill the future leader of the human resistance. Oh, the computer-generated visuals are often fake to look at.

As for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton returning, it is sad for me to say that these two iconic performers of the film franchise got wasted. Sarah Connor in this movie was poorly written and this modern version ruins the legacy the character had since 1991. Schwarzenegger meanwhile played another T-800 Terminator whose adjustment into human society turned out to be unconvincing, even outlandish. A Terminator adjusting into domestic human life? Totally unbelievable!

If there is anything to admire in this ill-conceived movie, it is Schwarzenegger’s delivery of his lines as the Terminator. He was over 70-years-old at the time of filming and he no longer has the super fit, muscular build he was famous for but he still proved to be excellent in being robotic with the dialogue. Sadly, this good stuff from the ex-governor of California was not enough to save this movie from its dark fate.

The film has a lot of action and there is a notable variety of it here. Even though action-packed and the action quality is an improvement over Terminator 3, Salvation and Genisys, Terminator: Dark Fate is ultimately a ride that can only provide temporary relief from the pain of the weak script. Oh, the use of fake-looking CGI hurts the action and stunts

Conclusion

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Let this be the LAST Terminator movie and let it fade away. How? By NOT spending your precious time and money on it.

Although it is better than Terminator 3, Salvation and Genisys respectively, Terminator: Dark Fate still failed to be a solid film and definitely it is NOT worthy of being the official follow-up (the “real Terminator 3” to the first two films written and directed by James Cameron. Cameron’s involvement with this movie did not really improve the situation of the deteriorating Terminator film franchise and even worse, this big disappointment taints his record of excellence as a producer. Director Tim Miller, in my opinion, should go back to superhero movie making or try directing a brand new project of science fiction that does not involve an established intellectual property. How he will recover from Terminator: Dark Fate remains to be seen.

Bottom line – Terminator: Dark Fate is not recommended. You are better off skipping this movie but if you intend to watch it at all, do it out of curiosity. Don’t spend your money on this movie (the cinema, future release on streaming services, Blu-ray, DVD, etc.).

If you want to experience the cinematic greatness of the Terminator film franchise, go back to watching The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day instead.


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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. 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

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Joker

Let me make it clear to all of you readers. The movie Joker is NOT a superhero movie at all even though it is a cinematic adaptation focused on one of DC Comics’ biggest super villains. It is also not a movie to watch for fun and enjoyment, but it is still engaging in a very different way.

The truth is, Joker is a large art film made to shock viewers with darkness, deep grit and some graphic violence. The good news here is that the movie is very engaging and easily reminds me of two certain movies that Robert De Niro and director Martin Scorsese worked together on. It’s a victory for Warner Bros. and DC Comics.

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Joaquin Phoenix as the new cinematic Joker will be remembered for a long time.

Joker follows the exploits and Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a struggling man who is hardly surviving working as an entertainer (a clown, specifically) supporting his mother and dealing with the hard life of Gotham City which was stylistically made to look like 1970s New York City. Arthur, who is living with a condition of uncontrolled laughter, looks up to TV show host Franklin Murray (played by Robert De Niro) as an inspiring figure to try out comedy and hopefully make it big to free himself and his mother from poverty.

While performing as a clown surrounded by children in a hospital, Arthur accidentally drops a gun he just received from a co-worker. Because of this, he gets fired and learns that the man who gave him the gun lied to their boss. While riding the subway still looking like a clown, he gets beaten up by three business executives who were drunk. In response, Arthur kills them with the gun and gets away. This incident starts a chain of events that causes friction between the upper class and the lower class, and then protesters wearing clown masks multiply.

On face value, Joker is clearly inspired by character-driven films of the 1970s. While it is not necessarily based on any particular comic book, it carried some slight elements from Batman: The Killing Joke. What is more obvious is that it took inspiration from De Niro-Scorsese films Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy.

As a psychological thriller, Joker is a great portrayal of how low a desperate man could go only to strive and survive. Arthur Fleck is greatly played by Joaquin Phoenix who carefully blends drama, anger, violence and even humor altogether. He really made the cinematic Joker his own and along the way, his Joker laught is more effective than that of Heath Ledger and the Joker physical appearance is almost as memorable as that of Jack Nicholson’s. The movie is indeed very violent but it is not overly violent. To be specific, there are a lot more deaths, acts of violence and shooting in Brian De Palma’s Scarface than this movie.

Joker also has a lively portrayal of the conflict between social classes. The scenes of the clown-masked protesters filling the trains and the streets still resonate with the socio-political rallies that happened in modern society. There is also the aspect of poor and desperate people depending on government for survival and they are easily vulnerable to getting cut off whenever resources run out.

Desperation is also a solid theme in the narrative. To see Arthur Fleck look up to Franklin Murray and imagine sharing the stage with him on TV reminds me a lot about some real-life people (who don’t have too much money) I encountered in Cebu City who can’t help but stop studying (even the older ones quit their legitimate jobs) and get into local entertainment hoping that fame and fortune will lift them up. Of course, when things get worse, desperate people would either get back to what they can live with or, worse, turn to a life of crime just to survive. With regards to Arthur’s attempt to become a comedian on screen, that easily reminds me of similar people in real life who thought they are very talented to be the next great superstars but ended up failing.

Conclusion

With its very solid direction by Todd Philips, great dramatic performances, nostalgic presentation and in-depth characterization, Joker is a must-watch movie mainly for moviegoers who want to be engaged with psychological thrills and bouts. As a DC Comics movie that is NOT connected with Warner Bros.’ current franchise of superhero movies (that started with Man of Steel in 2013), Joker works as an adulterated, standalone movie. To compare it with comic books published DC, I should say Joker is very much like an Elseworlds story. For the new comers reading this, Elseworlds was a franchise of comic books published by DC Comics that had stories using established characters but were told outside of DC universe canon.

Joker is highly recommended. Just don’t expect to see the usual superhero movie elements in this very solid DC Comics movie.


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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. 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 Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk

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.

I love reading a crossover comic book that was made by very talented creators to be a whole lot of fun from start to finish. Back in the early 1980s, rivals Marvel Comics and DC Comics collaborated temporarily with inter-company crossover comic books that were made to be entertaining to fans of their respective properties.

What I’m going to review here is the 3rd superhero crossover comic book between Marvel and DC titled Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk.

Cover
The cover.

Background

Before I start, let me clarify that this particular comic book was specifically published as issue number 27 of the DC Special Series which was a series of one-shot comic books. By comparison, the 1981 crossover comic book Superman and Spider-Man (which I reviewed previously) was published under the Marvel Treasury Edition line of Marvel Comics as issue number 28.

Going back to Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk, the comic book was the final issue of the DC Special Series line and it carried a cover price of $2.50 which was quite high for its time.

The people at DC Comics made sure that the crossover was handled by the best talents they had back then. The late Len Wein (best know for creating Wolverine) was assigned to write the script (and ensure that elements from both the Hulk and Batman would mix nicely) while José Luis García-López was hired to illustrate. Dick Giordano was the embellisher and editor while Allen Milgrom and then Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter were the consulting editors. In return for their assistance, Marv Wolfman and Mike DeCarlo were acknowledged with thanks.

Now we can begin with this retro review of Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk.

The early story

The story begins when a few persons in Gotham City witness their dreams turning real beyond logic. A man dreamed he was in the arctic hunting and wakes up to discover his room was filled with snow. In a cinema where a horror movie was shown, a couple kissing each other discover, to their shock, that monsters of different sizes surrounded them out of thin air.

At the waterfront of the city, the Joker (accompanied by his gang members) talks to an unseen being (Shaper of Worlds). He gives his assurance to the being that he and his gang will acquire a specific item (needed by the being). For the Joker, what was discussed was a simple business arrangement.

A short time later inside a high-tech facility of Wayne Research, Bruce Banner (the Hulk) secretly works under the false identity as David Banks. He works along with the scientists but not on the scientific projects. Rather, he works odd tasks such as lifting hardware and putting them into places that need them. Of course, Banner did not get hired for a salary but for something much essential to him and his condition with Gamma Rays.

“I had to get a job here somehow so I could get close to the experimental Gamma-gun they’re working on,” he thought to himself.

Suddenly the facility gets filled with laughing gas incapacitating all the people inside. Banner fortunately manages to wear a radiation suit for protection. Moments later, the Joker and his gang enter searching for the Gamma-gun. From this point on, Banner decides to act.

Quality

When it comes to the selection of characters from Marvel and DC, having the mismatch of Batman and the Hulk was a very splendid idea. Not only was having the large green brute and the world’s greatest detective together as temporary rivals a fascinating concept, having them work together as a duo turned out to be a really great move. When it comes to the selected villains of the Joker and the Shaper of Worlds as the anti-hero figures of the story, the two looked like an odd pair but if you focus on the details of the story, you will realize that it made a lot of sense having them two together. The Shaper needs something which requires him to depend on the Joker who in turn brings his gang with him to cause chaos to acquire what the alien needs

All of the above details would not have worked had it not been for the excellent writing by Len Wein. Clearly Wein knew a whole lot about the defining elements of the Hulk and Batman (and the same with the Joker and Shaper), and he carefully blended those elements together to make a story that is thrilling, intriguing, engaging and at the same time still made sense. More on crossing over, there are other characters connected to Batman and the Hulk that made appearances and a few of them fit in nicely into the story.

As this was released in 1981, it was typical of the time for writers to use thought balloons to help readers understand what the characters were thinking. The use of thought balloons in this comic book truly defined Batman who not only had to fight the bad guys but also manage his way with the Hulk and do a lot of detective work.

Going back to the Hulk and Batman, this comic book has a lot of fun stuff. More than once did the two superheroes engage in action-packed encounters and their exchange of words was very nicely done. Their match-up (or mismatch) really works.

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A perfectly crafted action scene between the Hulk and Batman, complete with accurate depictions of each character! 

When it comes to the common complaint by some readers out there that the comic book was more of a Batman story and made the Hulk less prominent, I should say that the slight imbalance is not a problem at all. In fact, for me it makes perfect sense that Batman has more spotlight than the Hulk. Why? Because Batman is a detective and he performed a lot of researching, information gathering and other moves to solve problems. His detective work in the story made perfect sense for the narrative. As for the Hulk, his character really has very limited options other than causing destruction and disturbing the public. Since early on, the Hulk was best known for attracting the attention of the American military (led by General Ross) and huge destruction defined the encounters. For this crossover, the creators did not show the Hulk engaging with the military (save for the phonies) but rather he struggled to figure things out whenever he encountered Batman or the Joker. There is no way the Hulk could do detective work like Batman and having him fight the military would have weakened this comic book’s presentation. Clearly, having the story slightly slanted towards Batman is still the right move.

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Very highly imaginative and dynamic artwork by José Luis García-López.

The artwork done by José Luis García-López is excellent! He really captured the looks and details of each and every character Marvel and DC that appeared in this comic book. Back in the early 1980s, I got to read several comic books that showed Batman, the Hulk, the Joker and others and the way they appeared in this comic book was indeed accurate of the time. José Luis García-López also knew how to balance spectacle with character development and expository dialogue in terms of visual pacing and framing shots. Also his work becomes even more imaginative during the final conflict. Undoubtedly this is still a great looking comic book!

Conclusion

Overall, Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk is a great comic book and easily it is one of the greatest intercompany superhero crossover comic books ever published! From start to finish, this comic book proved to be highly engaging and there never was a single boring moment. The creators led by Len Wein (he is sorely missed) made the best possible story anyone can make involving Batman and the Hulk.

You can read a hard copy of this comic book by getting Volume 1 of Crossover Classics or, if you can afford to, hunt for a copy of this in its DC Special Series form which now sells for $280 for a very fine copy to as much as $400 for a near mint copy as of this writing according to MileHighComics.com

In ending this, I declare that Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk is highly recommended!


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