A Look Back at X-Men Adventures #5 (1993)

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, superheo enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts, X-Men fans and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the X-Men Adventures monthly series which was the literary adaptation of the popular X-Men animated series of the 1990s.  

In my previous retro review, the encounter with Magneto ended without any resolution. Back at X-Men headquarters, Sabretooth freed himself and got into a fight with Wolverine which symbolically highlighted tensions from their past encounters.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men Adventures #5, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by Ralph Macchio and drawn by Andrew Wildman.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside the Danger Room where X-Men members Storm, Rogue, Gambit and Jubilee are tested for combat and skills development under the tight watch of Professor X. While Xavier is aware that while a real-life threat would cause his team to perfect their reflexes and counterattack strategies, it is the leadership of Storm that concerns him the most.

Just as the amount of danger rises, Xavier decides to raise the stakes of the exercise by drawing upon the deepest fears within Storm. Suddenly the ceiling moves down and the walls start closing in on the X-Men. This causes Storm to lose focus as painful memories from her childhood pertaining to claustrophobia suddenly entered her head. The exercise ended on a negative note and Storm tells Professor X that she cannot lead the X-Men as she believes that her claustrophobia will only put others at risk.

Within Xavier’s mansion, the still recovering Wolverine practices martial arts moves. Standing nearby is Jean Grey who starts talking sense into him. Wolverine then notices something in the way Jean looks at him…  

Quality

Cyclops and Jean Grey cornered by the Morlocks led by Callisto.

As the cover of this comic book shows, the main feature of the story is the X-Men’s encounter with the Morlocks (first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #169 published in 1983), a group of mutants living underneath the city of New York. Other than being a force of opposition, the Morlocks – led by Callisto – is itself a society composed of outcast mutants who could not really live among humans in normal society not only because of their mutations but also because of their collective look of deformity.

Picking up from the previous issue, the plot moved smoothly starting with a clear focus on Storm and her potential to lead the X-Men followed by the short but intriguing scene between Jean Grey and Wolverine. When the narrative shifted on New York City and the start of the conflict with the Morlocks, the story noticeably turned dark with its tone as the underground mutants become more prominent.

Other than the expected good-versus-evil emphasis of the plot, this comic book sheds light on the social ladder of America with the X-Men symbolizing the normal people and the Morlocks as the misfits. Symbolically speaking, the X-Men are bound to their code of no killing and their search for mutants that their leader Professor X could help, while the Morlocks prefer to be independent believing that isolation best serves their interests. Both the X-Men and the Morlocks have their respective approach on honor which is symbolized further when Storm and Callisto engage in close combat (note: this was the X-Men animated series’ adaptation of their fight as told in 1983’s Uncanny X-Men #170). I should also state that the portrayal of Cyclops and Jean Grey a very vulnerable figures in this story is pretty engaging.

To put things in perspective, the script of this comic book showed that the superhero spectacle is finely balanced with the strong dialogue and dramatization of the X-Men-Morlocks conflict.

Conclusion

The X-Men during the Danger Room session.

X-Men Adventures #5 (1993) is not only a very engaging read on its own, it is also one fine adaptation of the X-Men animated series episode “Captive Hearts” which I first saw on local TV way back in 1993.

Overall, X-Men Adventures #5 (1993) is 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. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. If you want to support my website, please consider making a donation. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/.

A Look Back at Harbinger #19 (1993)

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, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the early 1990s and explore a part of the Valiant Comics shared universe through the Harbinger monthly series.

In my previous retro review, the creative team of Fontenot-Simpson told another story that built up Harbinger’s concept some more while introducing yet another new character – Screen – who is not part of the team led by Sting. The story symbolically showed the further growth of the tremendous power of Toyo Harada not only through his control of the Harbinger foundation but also of his connection with the new United States President of the time. 

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #19, published in 1993 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Maurice Fontenot and illustrated by Howard Simpson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins on the afternoon of January 25, 1993. Inside the New York facility of the Harbinger foundation, a pretty blonde, young lady named Natalie Toynbee – codename: Stunner – gets scanned by the technicians handling the technologies. A technician’s request for Natalie to urinate into a cup reveals that the lady has a huge ego and pride of herself as she reacts negatively. 

Suddenly, the wall near Natalie and the technician got damaged by force unleashed by Sting who is accompanied by Faith, Flamingo and Shatiqua. Their mission is to free Natalie from the clutches of the Harbinger foundation which is a small part of their long-term vision of freeing and recruiting more powered young adults.

After subduing the Harbinger foundation personnel, Sting begins to explain to Natalie the situation and tells her to just trust him. Sting tells her to come with them which only drew more of Natalie’s ego along with skepticism. This reaction makes Faith think Natalie is not worth saving…

Quality

Imagine Iran invading America and causing terror like in this scene. Imagine Joe Biden and the Democrats allowing this to happen to Americans.

While the story was not crafted to follow-up closely on the events of issue #18, this comic book puts Sting and his teammates into a collision course with a new force of evil – the Iranians (note: issue #20 confirms their national identity) who have interests on specific young adults with powers and special abilities. Along the way, the Fontenot-Simpson team introduced a new sinister force in the form of a very manipulative Iranian named Kaliph.

Kaliph’s introduction here is easily the biggest feature of the story and he unsurprisingly overwhelms the debut of Natalie. Kaliph here works in service of his unidentified superiors and as he does his job, he uses his special ability of manipulating people’s minds through sight and sound to gain information, find directions, make them do his orders and gain access into places that he could never have had he been an ordinary person. By the end of the story, I was convinced that Kaliph was created to be an enduring or recurring villain for Sting and his team.

More on the primary characters of this monthly series, Sting and his teammates were portrayed to get more harbingers (powered young adults) to join them and become part of their long-term opposition against Toyo Harada and the Harbinger foundation, even though their own team lacks the resources needed to support themselves. The lack of resources was cleverly highlighted through Natalie’s reactions (related to her big ego) to what Sting’s team has for her to live with. Looking at the bigger picture going back to issue #1, Sting’s vision of defeating Harada and winning the trust of powered young adults without any solid foundation (specifically resources, connections and security) emphasize his recklessness and false sense of maturity as a team leader.

Conclusion

Kaliph and his companion arrive in America with a sinister plan.

In my view, Harbinger #19 (1993) is a solid change of direction for the monthly series complete with the introduction of a new, strong villain who originated from Iran which by today’s standards is the major force of terrorism in this world. The new villain Kaliph has a creepy aesthetic that other villains in this series lacked. More notably, the story remained consistently very engaging and pulled off some notable surprises which were indeed entertaining.

Overall, Harbinger #19 (1993) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

A Look Back at Harbinger #13 (1993)

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, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the early 1990s and explore a part of the Valiant Comics shared universe through the Harbinger monthly series.

In my previous retro review, Sting, Faith, Kris, Flamingo and newcomer Shatiqua pursued a mission recklessly with revenge over the death of Torque as the main motivator. That story symbolically shows that the boundary between good and evil has been blurred away as Sting and his team just kept on pursuing their goals disregarding the rule of law and committing acts that make them no different from the sinister Harbinger Foundation. In some ways, Sting himself is gradually becoming as evil and abusive as his target (and former mentor) – Toyo Harada.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #13, published in 1993 by Valiant Comics with a story written and drawn by David Lapham.

The cover that closely imitates the iconic image of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

Early story

The story begins with Faith flying high above the streets of New York City talking to herself as she enjoys the flight as well as the flight of fantasy in her mind. After discreetly landing in an alley, she bumps into a man as she moves into the city sidewalk. Two other men could not help but laugh at what they just saw.

The man Faith bumped into gets mad, grabs her by the shirt and pulls out a knife. Suddenly, an old man comes out of nowhere and threatens the knife-wielding man which in turn prevented Faith from getting hurt. Upon realizing a lot of people are around them and watching, the knife-wielding man and his two companions move away.

The old man then befriends Faith. She thanks him for his help…

Quality

Faith and the old man.

As I expected another Harbinger tale about Sting and his team going up against Harada’s foundation, I can say that this comic book surprised me in a rather delightful way. To be clear, this is a story mainly focused on Faith and under Lapham’s direction, readers will see her personality emphasized more than ever and what she is capable of with not just her special abilities but also with how she deals with problems.

The good news here is that the writing by Lapham is solid. Faith is clearly the comic book geek among her teammates and to see her work inside a comic book store in the city is amusing as her portrayal captures how comic book fans react when they see something really fascinating or special among the many printed materials displayed. It should be noted that Faith’s independence is nicely portrayed and she has her own way of dealing with the harshness of reality without ever letting her personal obsession with entertainment overwhelm her reasoning. The ironic thing about Faith’s view of life around her is that she does not show any regrets about the crimes the she and her teammates committed.

Those who are looking for superhero spectacle will find something gritty and short with regards to Faith. Adding further zest in this comic book are fantasized excerpts from a particular comic book Faith reads in the story.

Conclusion

Faith working inside the comic book store.

Harbinger #13 (1993) is a very surprising read that clearly delivered a good bout of fun. Its main attraction is Faith herself and this comic book has the most in-depth development of her character to date. Through her, comic book readers will have something to resonate with when it comes to comic book culture and geek interests. Ultimately, David Lapham succeeded in defining Faith and telling a solid Harbinger tale mainly focused on her. In some ways, this comic book is like a relief from all the tension built up on the rivalry between Sting’s team and the Harbinger Foundation. That being said, this comic book is no filler and it fits right in the monthly series.

Overall, Harbinger #13 (1993) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

A Look Back at Harbinger #10 (1992)

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, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the early 1990s and explore a part of the Valiant Comics shared universe through the Harbinger monthly series.

In my previous retro review, Sting, Faith, Kris and Flaming were still on a faraway world as the Unity crossover storyline went on. Things really changed drastically for Kris as she gave birth to a baby boy whose father was none other than the late Torque. Sting, who is still living with the false sense of maturity, dedicates himself to Kris (whom he fornicated a lot with by this time) and their child even though he still had parts to do in the middle of the destructive battles with Erica Pierce.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Harbinger #10, published in 1992 by Valiant Comics with a story written by Jim Shooter and drawn by David Lapham. This comic book marks takes place after the end of Unity.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins on April 5, 1992, at 1:15 AM. Sting, Kris, Faith and Flamingo are instantly brought back into the home of Dr. Heyward and his family. Sting finds himself disoriented from the travel while Kris, who no longer has her baby by this point, feels very weak and hot.

The next morning outdoors, Sting meets with Dr. Heyward and reveals to him that he and his three female companions were away for about six months. For Dr. Heyward and everyone else, not too much time passed at all. To help him understand their experiences during Unity, Sting puts several images and memories into Dr. Heyward’s mind. When asked by the doctor what happened to Kris’ baby, Sting claims he does not know at all.

Meanwhile from somewhere, someone is using electronic surveillance…

Quality

This private scene of Sting, Kris, Flamingo and Faith eerily reminds me of some 1980s Hollywood movies about teenagers.

From a storytelling viewpoint, the wild fantasy that was Unity which had Sting and his team spend time with other major figures of Valiant Comics has indeed ended and this comic book smoothly follows their return to Earth, the sudden shift of their living and keeping up with reality. As such, you will get to see Sting, Faith, Flamingo and Kris think and act like teenagers which is a notable change of presentation after seeing them as nomads during their time in Unity.

Normalcy of living is a clear theme explored in this story and Jim Shooter really had the characters and events move on while being grounded in reality. In relation to that, there is this really dramatic scene between Kris and Sting as they talked about their relationship and what happened to the baby. The said scene was only seven panels long but you can see and feel the emotion flow through the two characters.

With the massive conflict of Unity over, Sting and his team start pursuing a new goal – to find other young super-powered beings like themselves before Toyo Harada and his powerful Harbinger organization make another move. Along the way, a new form of opposition awaits Sting, Faith, Flamingo and Kris. What was told in this comic book is engaging and refreshing to read.

Conclusion

Nothing like being at home after spending many months away even though time on Earth did not move too much.

When you think about the high-quality stories Jim Shooter wrote for the Harbinger monthly series, Harbinger #10 (1992) is clearly another winner. The portrayal of the powered teenagers is believable and very notably, the creators left space for some superhero spectacle for readers to be entertained with as Sting and his teammates start pursuing their new goal. Of course, the new pursuit happened after Sting, Faith, Flamingo and Kris tackled reality first as they returned from spending many months away in Unity while time on Earth moved forward very little. How Jim Shooter and David Lapham managed to emphasize their new story concepts while remaining tight and strong with the storytelling is indeed amazing. I should also state that this comic book marks the start of a new chapter for Sting, Faith, Flamingo and Kris.

Overall, Harbinger #10 (1992) is highly recommended!

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

A Look Back at Sludge #9 (1994)

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 fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Sludge comic book series.

In my previous Sludge retro review, the conflict between the crime organizations intensified as the titular character continued to struggle with achieving his desired goal which includes getting involved with the Pump’s evil schemes. Eventually something unexpected happened Sludge which involved Zuke, the potent illegal substance the Pump keeps on unleashing to the public.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #9, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Robb Phipps.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Sludge in pain as he pulls out a long spike from his right hand which became flesh again. This was the result of his holding Zuke which his right hand somehow absorbed. Wanting answers, he calls out to the Pump who (along with his teenage protégé) was no longer present in the room. A female ghost appears to Sludge and tells him that the crime boss is downstairs.

It turns out, the Pump has an evil plan in mind which would involve the mercenary Bloodstorm. The crime boss puts a very large capsule of Zuke into the mouth of the restrained Bloodstorm. Just as Sludge arrives, Bloodstorm becomes very enraged as a result of absorbing a high quantity of the illegal substance. Shortly after Pump quells the drugged mercenary, Sludge approaches him for more Zuke as he is convinced that the drug will turn him to normal just like how it turned his right hand back to normal.

The Pump orders Sludge to take Bloodstorm’s body back to his employer Sabatini then return. He reminds him that he has the Zuke and is capable of eradicating him…

Quality

Sludge has yet to realize he could really go up against the very evil Pump.

Now this is the most intriguing tale of Sludge in relation to the unstable relations between the gangs of New York. Vittorio, the one trusted assistant of the late crime boss Marcello, leads the gang and tries to craft a new direction with emergence in mind by negotiating a truce with the Dragon Fang while also starting efforts to duplicate the very addicting substance called Zuke which has long been an asset to the Pump’s gang. Unsurprisingly, Vittorio encounters trouble trying to win the trust of the more established crime bosses and he is also unaware that they are all being targeted by the Pump.

Once the Pump unleashes his newest move against the gangs, the situation intensifies and gets twisted which makes this a really solid reading experience. Steve Gerber crafted this story to be intense and unpredictable at the same time, while also showing how Sludge deals with his situation being powerless under the Pump. There is one notable addition to the plot which involves violent action which you must discover for yourselves.

When it comes to the visuals, Robb Phipps take on Sludge is vastly different compared to Aaron Lopresti’s Sludge. The result is that Phipps’ art style made Sludge and the other characters have that cartoony aesthetic and yet they are still recognizable. What visual style and elements Phipps had on certain issues of Mantra he illustrated (click here, here and here) are pretty much present in this comic book.  

Conclusion

A high-stakes meeting disrupted.

Sludge #9 (1994) is another solid read and one of the most intriguing stories of the Sludge series. As the concluding chapter of the “Street Wars” storyline, this comic book has the usual elements that defined Sludge stories while also succeeding in moving the plot forward (note: the storyline conclusion is engaging, even shocking) complete with twists and noticeable intensified violence. At this point in the monthly series, Sludge is off on a path of despair and he is clearly lost. This element alone should compel readers to examine Sludge’s personality closely and analyze where he is heading to and what purpose does he have left.

Overall, Sludge #9 (1994) is 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. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at Sludge #8 (1994)

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 fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Sludge comic book series.

As seen in my previous Sludge retro review, the stakes were raised even higher and Sludge finds himself in the middle of a major conflict between the gangs of the city with the involvement of the group of the Pump. By this point, the titular character is not only desperate but also is getting torn between good and evil.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #8, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with TV news coverage doing a recap of events that shook New York City and its people – the abduction of a drug mule, the destruction of a ship filled with illegal immigrants, the destruction in the cemetery left behind by a major conflict there, and the death of crime boss John Paul Marcello which involved action by Sludge.

Sludge then wakes up from another nightmare and finds himself inside a boiler room which has a TV set and a chair. It turns out the place was set up by a janitor who does not even know Sludge is present. Slowly, Sludge sneaks his way back to the sewer.

At a cemetery, the burial of Marcello is being attended by many people and among them is Don Celini who regarded the late crime boss as a man of vision who made a lot of money for many people. Vittorio, the former loyal assistant to Marcello, is told by Don Celini to demonstrate leadership qualities to the heads of the other gangs. In the evening at a discreet place, Vittorio meets with Bloodstorm with a lot of money on the side…

The reporter Shelley on the pursuit for details.

Quality

To make things clear about the storytelling, the conflict between the crime gangs not only became more intense but also turned out quite intriguing. Clearly writer Steve Gerber carefully planned out the events, character developments and twists for this series. That being said, this comic book has a fine mix of suspense, crime story and even the supernatural for the narrative’s progress, and the good news is that these elements were presented in a believable way.

As presented in the previous issues, Sludge’s desperation and death wish will keep on intriguing you especially when he gets bothered by the Pump (arguably the most evil figure of the entire Ultraverse). Even as the war between gangs heat up, the story even had space for investigative journalism moments through the news reporter Shelley (who encountered Sludge in person before) whose pursuit for the facts remains unrelenting.

Conclusion

Sludge in a dark boiler room.

While the previous issue made me think deeply about the state of Sludge’s character and the gang war he became involved with, Sludge #8 (1994) is an even more intriguing Ultraverse read complete with solid twists that must be seen. Without spoiling the story, this comic book will strongly resonate with readers who really started the Sludge series from issue #1 (note: Bloodstorm’s involvement in this comic book will be more relevant if you have previously read his detailed introduction in issue #2). The current storyline – Street Wars – went significant steps forward in this story and I can say that the creative team of Gerber and Aaron Lopresti were successful in making me anticipate the conclusion.

Overall, Sludge #8 (1994) is 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. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at Sludge #6 (1994)

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 fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Sludge comic book series.

In my previous retro comic book review, I found Sludge #5 an inspired piece of work that relates to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein which also carried elements about resurrection, man’s abuse of science, and the consequences of dealing with the unnatural. The comic book was also the 2nd consecutive issue of Sludge written by artist Aaron Lopresti.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #6, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins on the ocean with Sludge hitching a ride on a garbage barge being towed by a ship. Sludge then starts swimming off to a certain destination.

On the upper east side of Manhattan, a nicely dressed lady arrives with a suitcase and meets with a lawyer named Roger Sutton at his office. Inside, a trade happens with papers of a transfer of deed in exchange for highly unusual looking capsules.

Shortly after, as she drives off to her next destination, a blockade of two cars formed to stop her. A few armed men show up and fired bullets into her car to abduct her and take the suitcase containing the capsules.

Quality

Sludge doing something dangerous after waking up from a nightmare.

As this comic book marks the return of Steve Gerber, the story built up tension signaling that an urban war involving crime lords, mercenaries and the evil Pumpkin is coming. Remember Bloodstorm from issue #2? He’s back with a supporting role that fits in nicely within the brewing conflict. The demonic Pump, his teenage crime captain and gang are back serving as the unseen third force in the same conflict.

The way Steve Gerber constructed the brewing conflict is pretty solid and he managed to even efficiently introduce an Asian gang lord (complete with his family business and members) while emphasizing the presence of John Paul Marcello as the other big-time crime figure of the city. As for the titular protagonist, Sludge is portrayed to be struggling with guilt and hopelessness which push him to approach one of the evil forces. Sludge’s knowledge about Marcello will compel you to revisit issue #2. At this stage in the series, Sludge is becoming more desperate about his existence and purpose while dealing with the stress of being in the middle of a brewing conflict. His personal struggle on dealing with the evil influence of the Pump (clearly the Satan figure of the Ultraverse) is something that people living with weak faith and suffering will find relatable.

Conclusion

The first signs of the brewing crime war in the city.

Sludge #6 (1994) is a strong return by Steve Gerber on the storytelling and it marked the start of a new storyline titled Street Wars which really raised the stakes of the series. The good news is that Gerber’s writing is very good and the characters are all nicely defined. Aaron Lopresti’s visuals maintained that high level of quality and he clearly defined the look of the Sludge series.  

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Sludge #6 (1994) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $48.

Overall, Sludge #6 (1994) is 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. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at Dazzler #25 (1983)

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, 1980s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1983 to examine the Marvel Comics universe through the exploits of Dazzler!

Today I have a review about the 25th issue of the Dazzler monthly series and it sure has this really strange looking cover with the protagonist in the foreground and a man in the background complete with a torn-page look. By the time this comic book was released, Dazzler had been through lots of misadventures, crazy superhero stuff as well as countless bouts of drama that impacted her and her existing family members. Could the creators come up with something to keep the series fresh and still engaging?

With those details laid down, here is a look back Dazzler #25, published by Marvel Comics in 1983 with a story written by Steve Grant and drawn by Marc Bright.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Alison Blaire working in front of a photographer during a photo session in the office of her manager Harry. It turns out, the photo session is a disaster for both of them. Shortly after, Alison changes her clothes and the field manager Lance arrives outside the door carrying a package for her sent by someone.

The package contained roses which delight Alison. She then reads a message that included with the roses…a message from a certain admirer. As the stakes of her entertainment career are higher than before, Alison gets advised to be extra careful with the kind of people she gets involve with.

From a distance, someone is closely watching Alison interacting with Harry and Lance using binoculars…

Quality

Alison in her effort to save her father.

With a new creative team doing the works, this comic book’s story was indeed an effort to shake things up for the Dazzler monthly series. It’s a tale about Dazzler encountering a fan who is more dangerous and more capable than he seems. The way the story was presented, this one was pretty light on superhero elements as the team of Steve Grant and Marc Bright decided to take a more grounded approach on telling the newest happenings in Alison Blaire’s life. In some ways, this story really felt like it was isolated from the rest of the Marvel Comics universe of the time.

While the previous issues say Alison having breakthroughs with her mother and father, as well as spending quality time with her half-sister Lois, this comic book was more about the entertainer handling herself as she encounters a very determined man who is obsessed with her. The way things were presented here, the story is pretty much character-driven but light on superhero spectacle. Lastly, I want to say that this comic book tackled the themes of personal obsession, fan madness and inner rage which were all emphasized through the new character/antagonist here.

Conclusion

Alison in trouble.

Dazzler #25 (1983) does not have much to entertain readers who enjoy super heroics. If superhero fun is what you are after, you are better off reading issue #24. This comic book’s biggest selling point is its character-driven story which I am confident will engage strongly with die-hard Dazzler fans. The new character/antagonist introduced in this comic book is not really that strong enough to be a worthy counterpart with Dazzler, but his sheer determination and personal obsession with the entertainer are worth a look.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #25 (1983), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $56 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $113.

Overall, Dazzler #25 (1983) is satisfactory.

+++++

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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at Sludge #5 (1994)

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 fans, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Sludge comic book series.

In my previous retro review about Sludge #4 (1994), we got to see an inspired monster-versus-monster conflict between the protagonist and a huge, intelligent alligator aced with elements of society, urban legends, idolatry and journalism. That particular issue also showed more of the creative side of series artist Aaron Lopresti when it comes to writing. The next issue reviewed also involved Lopresti as writer.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #5, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in New York City. Darkness descends on Manhattan like a shroud, providing haven for those who shun the light. As a man and a lady walk down the sidewalk talking to each other, a very hideous human-like monster comes out of the shadow of the alley and grabs them both.

In the sewers, Sludge hears one of the victims scream which compels him to run to where the trouble happened. As soon as he climbs out of the sewer, he sees the monster in the alley which makes eye-contact with him. As Sludge approaches the alley, the monster gets away leaving the dead bodies of the man and woman behind. As Sludge examines the dead bodies and realizes that the monster ate them, a police car with two officers arrived.

In reaction, Sludge quickly grabs one part of the police car and turns it upside down to buy himself time to get back into the sewer. The details of the encounter between the police and Sludge made it to Shelley, the same New York Daily Globe news reporter who encountered him and the intelligent alligator Veffir Voon Iyax. She discusses the newest information with her skeptical boss…

Quality

Obvious parallel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein here.

Let me start first with what is obvious with regards to the plot and presentation. Similar to what happened in Sludge #2, there is noticeably less spotlight on Sludge as creative space had to be used to develop the new monster, emphasize its background story (with an additional new character who has significance) and there were even scenes focused on Shelley and what goes on inside the office of her newspaper which became aware of the events that took place.

The next thing I want to point out is the creative inspiration used in this particular story. This comic book has really clear parallels to the literary classic Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus and there was even a mention of its author Mary Shelley. That being said, there is a scientist-and-walking-abomination aspect with regards to the mentioned additional significant character connected with the new monster. That is not to say that this comic book copied Victor Frankenstein and his nameless monster, rather Aaron Lopresti took inspiration from them, mixed things up and implemented them in telling this new tale of Sludge. When it comes to keeping things fresh in telling another Sludge story, I can say that Lopresti succeeded.

More on the story itself, this one has a clever mix with regards to the dimensions used. In here, Sludge is more determined on helping people who shouted for help while Shelley won’t give up on finding out the truth about the tragic events in their city. Without spoiling the details, I can say that there is this deep dramatization about the monster and the new character responsible for its return from the dead.

As for the quality of the writing, Aaron Lopresti’s work here is not only expressive but also impressive. There is this one page near the end that has these few yet powerful words that strongly connect with the images of Sludge and the monster (who is so creepily drawn!).  

Conclusion

This is the 2nd straight Sludge comic book that has reporter Shelley and her newspaper focused on what has been happening. At this point, Shelley had encountered Sludge.

Sludge #5 (1994) in my view is another inspired and intriguing Ultraverse tale to read! While issue #4 had parallels to the 1980 film Alligator, this comic book took inspiration from Mary Shelley’s most famous work of fiction which added elements about resurrection, man’s abuse of science, and the consequences of dealing with the unnatural into Sludge’s side of the Ultraverse. I should state that this comic book also has the scariest looking monster Aaron Lopresti drew for the Ultraverse at the time of publication.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Sludge #5 (1994) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $48.

Overall, Sludge #5 (1994) 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. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at Dazzler #24 (1983)

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, 1980s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1983 to examine the Marvel Comics universe through the exploits of Dazzler!

As seen in the cover of the next Dazzler comic book I reviewed, the lady has Power Man and Iron Fist with her. In short, there is a crossover within Marvel Comics’ universe just waiting to be unveiled. Who exactly will Dazzler, Power Man and Iron Fist be facing? What kind of situation are they entering into?

With those details laid down, here is a look back Dazzler #24, published by Marvel Comics in 1983 with a story written by Danny Fingeroth and drawn by the late Frank Springer.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Rogue (of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants) breaking through the front door of the apartment of Alison Blaire who remains her target. She realizes that Dazzler is absent which is inconvenient as she believes that the singer is key in her quest to find Angel and the rest of the X-Men. Rogue makes a mess of Alison’s things in the apartment and decides to wait for her to return.

A short time later, Alison is approached by her friend Frank on her way home. He tells her that someone broke into her apartment and made a mess inside. Realizing that the trespasser is none other than Rogue (note: they encountered each other in Dazzler #22) and that she alone does not have much of a chance in fighting her, she calls Power Man and Iron Fist for their professional help…

Quality

Alison Blaire desperately getting away from Rogue.

To begin with, this is one action-packed tale of Dazzler that still manages to emphasize the development of the protagonist and her newly formed bond with her half-sister Lois (who appeared a short time before this comic book was released). As a crossover set within the Marvel Comics universe, Danny Fingeroth’s story makes mention of the X-Men as Rogue continues her quest on getting Dazzler to get to Angel in order to find Charles Xavier’s team which is all part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutant’s lust for revenge. Along the way, readers will get to see Rogue take on Power Man and Iron Fist (note: these two met with Dazzler in Dazzler #23) which was fun to see.

More on Dazzler herself, the stakes are raised again as she not only has to survive encountering Rogue but also of the fact that the powerful Brotherhood of Evil Mutants member becomes aware of Lois. I should state that there are two encounters between Dazzler and Rogue here, and each one was entertaining to read.

Conclusion

Alison Blaire plus Power Man and Iron Fist.

Dazzler #24 (1983) is a Marvel crossover tale which the creators made to add some action-packed variety while telling the story of Dazzler. That being said, the dramatic character development that this comic book series was notable for was lightened a bit to make way for the superhero spectacle. Not only does this comic book provide readers additional insight into the duo of Power Man and Iron Fist, it also showed some development about the conflict between the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Ultimately, this is one old and fun comic book to have.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Dazzler #24 (1983), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $57 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $113.

Overall, Dazzler #24 (1983) is 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. 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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/