A Look Back at Prime #4 (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.

When it comes to notable rivalries between superheroes within the Ultraverse, the Prime-Prototype conflict comes to mind. Granted, the two became teammates in the UltraForce monthly series that launched in 1994 but before that happened, their conflict was intriguing and intense to see.

Let’s examine the beginning of the rivalry between Prototype and Prime in Prime #4, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story co-written by Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones, and drawn by the late Norm Breyfogle.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Prototype blasting Prime right on his head saying: “I’m telling you again—Hardcase ain’t here! This is Prototype turf and you are making me look bad!”

Out of impulse, Prime (who is teenager Kevin Greene inside the body) strikes back at Prototype pushing him back into the air. Prime describes himself as a real hero and called Prototype a phony of Hollywood.

As the tension increases between them, Prototype fires back at Prime who subsequently responds by punching him hard. The battle goes on.

Meanwhile at another location, Boneyard emerges from a portal carrying an unconscious Mantra with him…

Quality

19
This is compelling character development.

Strong writing and very impressive works of art in this comic book! There is no doubt about that. The writers really poured a lot of energy into the very action-packed conflict between Prime and his armored rival. The conflict is not limited to superhero violence between the two as the writers cleverly crafted a big battle of personalities between an impulsive and clueless teenager (Prime) and a corporate performer (Prototype). In order to grasp that concept, one must read at least the launch issues of the Prototype and Prime series.

Along the way, the writers still managed to conserve a good amount of creative energy to further develop Kevin Greene in his civilian life. I really enjoyed how the creators portrayed him to be a very troubled youth whose struggle with social life has gotten worse as he also struggled with keeping a superhero identity and doing what he believes are good deeds (helping people in trouble) even though he got reckless or clumsy. This is reflected nicely with the ways he tries to socialize with Kelly. Apart from that, the scenes showing Kevin with his father are very intriguing to follow.

The artwork here by Breyfogle is unsurprisingly great. As seen in the previous issues of Prime, the superhero action is dynamic to look at, Kevin and the supporting characters have very well defined looks and by this time, I find them instantly recognizable. As for his visual take on Prototype, I really like Breyfogle’s illustration in this issue.

Conclusion

2
A very dynamic shot of Prime striking Prototype away.

Prime #4 is a great Ultraverse comic book highlighted by the first conflict between Prime and Prototype which is very compelling and at the same time memorable. It’s like seeing two titans of the Ultraverse collide complete with dramatizing how other people got affected by them. As far as the Ultraverse is concerned, the rivalry between the armored ultra and the kid-in-a-man’s-body is solid gold.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prime #4 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the unbagged regular edition, the bagged regular edition, the unbagged newsstand edition and the bagged newsstand edition costs $4, $5, $6 and $7 respectively.

Overall, Prime #4 (1993) 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 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 Prime #2

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.

As seen many times in the history of American comic book publishing, there is the ever-present male superhero with the clean short hair, a muscular build, a tight body suit and a cape. Such a superhero has the so-called classic ability to fly and as well having superhuman strength. To put things in perspective, this is the so-called Superman influence on superhero comics. Superman is undoubtedly an icon of not just American pop culture but also of the United States culture in general.

Considering Superman’s iconic status, it is no surprise that many other publishers imitated the character to add some zest into their own superhero comic book franchise. For the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics, their own parallel to DC Comics’ Superman is none other than Prime (who is also inspired somewhat by Shazam/Captain Marvel).

Cover
A great looking cover by the late Norm Breyfogle.

For this retro comic book review, we’ll take a close look at Prime #2, the Ultraverse comic book published by Malibu Comics in 1993 with a story co-written by Gerard Jones and Len Strazewski, and art by the late Norm Breyfogle. Previously, I reviewed Prime #1 which you can right here.

Early story

The story begins with teenager Kevin Green struggling heading home in the suburb at night completely naked. After Kevin falls down just outside the front door, his mother opens it and was shocked to see him naked (with some traces of green slim on his skin). Kevin could not recall what happened to him.

2
Imagine yourself being naked walking home in the middle of the night within the local community.

Shortly after, Kevin is in the hospital with his parents. The doctor could not figure out what’s wrong with Kevin and only stated that his failure to remember could be the result of psychological trauma. Alone in the room, Kevin watches TV news footage of Prime (himself under disguise) and his parents arrive. His mother tells him that he will be okay.

Meanwhile in a discreet location, two men are analyzing the recent appearance of Prime in Somalia. One of them orders the release of Organism 8….

Quality

Prime #2 is clearly a strong follow-up to the launch issue. Co-writers Gerard Jones and Len Strazewski crafted a story that took its time to flesh out Kevin Green/Prime while simultaneously building up suspense and details regarding a sinister force that has links with the government, and they won’t stop until they get their target Prime.

On character development, this comic book takes a deeper look at the private life of Kevin (who only appeared as himself at the end of issue #1) especially at his high school. Here, the school is still recovering from the damage Prime caused (including hurting the school’s coach).

The highlight in this comic book is the exploration of the friendship between Kevin and Kelly. As such, the suspense related to the two really started to build up given the fact that in issue #1, Kevin appeared in front of her not as himself but as his superhero form as Prime. Kelly found it cool that Prime talked to her although she’s disturbed to see him seriously injure their coach. Kevin himself is struggling with the weight of not only keeping his superhero identity secret but also with the consequences of the violence he caused as Prime. Even worse, many students in his school find him a freak but Kelly remains sympathetic to him.

5
At school…

Visually, this is still a very good looking comic book. Norm Breyfogle’s art is very lively whether he draws out the local community that Kevin belongs to, draws the action scenes, draws the monstrous Organism 8, and emphasizing more of Prime. I also love the way Breyfogle drew the facial expressions. For the newcomers reading this, Breyfogle’s style has a cartoonish look but never backs down with comic book-style spectacle.

The spectacle of this comic book, unsurprisingly, looks very good. The action scenes show a lot of power and seeing Prime and Organism 8 hit each other is no less brutal.

Conclusion

10
Norm Breyfogle’s great visuals on Kevin Green becoming Prime!

While Prime #1 was a tremendous creative kick-off for its superhero and its own series, Prime #2 is a very solid progression. This comic book marked the beginning of the build-up of suspense as well as the friendship between Kevin and Kelly, and ultimately it was a fun and compelling reading experience.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prime #2, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $8.

Overall, Prime #2 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 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 Prime #1

As a comic book collector, 1993 was a notable year. That year Marvel organized the 30th anniversary celebration of the Avengers and the X-Men (which I’m a fan of). Image Comics meanwhile released a lot more comics showcasing the works of many creators apart from the publisher’s Seven Founding Fathers. Over at DC Comics, Superman was brought back to life but after they started the Reign of the Superman storyline. Oh yes, there was Valiant which scored hits with Turok #1 and even partnered with some Image Comics creators to produce the Deathmate crossover comic books.

At one corner was Malibu Comics which made a brave entry into the highly competitive superhero genre of comic book publishing in America by launching the Ultraverse, a line of superhero comic books which was the result of brainstorming by several comic book creators (many who previously worked with Marvel and DC Comics).

They launched a lot of comics (all those with #1 on their covers) which made it on the walls and shelves of local comic book stores I visited. Among the many Ultraverse launch comic books displayed was Prime #1 which had a great cover drawn by the late Norm Breyfogle.

CoverPrime
The cover with nice art.

Co-written by Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones with art by Breyfogle, the comic book introduces readers to Prime, an overly muscular, caped man who tries to do something good but is quite flawed with his approach.

The story begins when Prime confronts a junior high school coach named Meyer accusing him of being a pervert. Meyer reacts surprised since he personally does not know Prime (“Who are you? What are you?”). He claims that he does not know what exactly the big guy knows. At the side were two high school girls witnessing the encounter.

And then Prime said his words, “I saw you, coach Meyer! I saw you on the basketball court in fifth period..touching those girls!”

Prime2

Prime3

The coach fought back causing Prime to react. Because the hero was not aware of his strength, he miscalculated with his grip on Meyer breaking his arm unintentionally. Prime’s reaction clearly showed his realizing his mistake.

The incident scared the one of the girls away and carelessly Prime tries to explain himself to the other girl standing by. He even called himself as the girl’s “protector and avenger”, telling her not to be afraid of him.

As it turned out, the incident was a recently past event within the narrative of the comic book which is a nice touch. The coach, already injured, gave his testimony expecting cash from a shadowy organization collecting information not only about Prime but the Ultras (the in-universe term referring to beings with super powers).

That’s as far as I will go with telling the plot details. Prime #1 should be read from start to finish and the good news is that old copies of it can be found online at affordable rates and there are lots of copies in overall good condition.

Other notable elements of Prime #1 worth discussing, without spoiling the plot, is the way the story was structured by Strazewski and Jones. At least for 1993, it somewhat defies the tradition of following the views of the protagonist. Instead, Prime is emphasized through the views of others from the injured coach to the soldiers and the media. This approach does not necessarily make Prime a supporting player in his own comic book but rather it was an efficient way of showing how he thinks and acts, what he is capable of doing and how he reacts to others. By the time the comic book ends (with a very intriguing ending no less), you will get to know Prime a lot.

I also liked the way the writers used corporate media as a key element on exploring the connecting elements of the Ultraverse. Hardcase is shown briefly while a reference was made on Prototype. Check out the page posted below on how corporate media looks at Prime.

Prime4
Corporate media exposure and conspiracy efficiently told in one page.

When it comes to the art, the late Norm Breyfogle (1960-2018) delivered visuals that had that cartoony look and yet the visual expressions are quite mature, even dark and gritty. It is a very nice approach and it is no surprise, looking back, that Breyfogle went on to draw a lot more issues of Prime for Malibu Comics. Breyfogle died on September 24, 2018 due to heart failure in Michigan. Before making his mark on the Ultraverse, the late artist drew a lot of comic books for DC Comics and is known for his contributions on Batman.

More on hero himself, Prime is a flagship character of the Ultraverse and the combined talents of the writers and artist were major factors behind it. On face value, Prime looks like the Ultraverse answer to DC Comics Superman but in reality he has a lot more common with Shazam/Captain Marvel. I can explain why but that means spoiling the plot more here.

Overall, Prime #1 is still a very good old superhero comic book to read. It is fun and intriguing from start to finish. Considering its very good quality and being a nice showcase of the talents of the creators, Prime #1 is one of the best Ultraverse launch comic books. It is too bad, however, that there are no signs from Marvel Entertainment (note: Marvel Comics acquired Malibu Comics in the mid-1990s) whatsoever on the possible revival of the Ultraverse which remains in limbo under them.

Even so, I still say that Prime #1 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

Also if you are interested to join an Ultraverse-related community online, I recommend the Facebook group here.

A Look Back At Ultraverse Premiere #0

What is the one thing I love most about superhero comics of the 1990s? It’s easy – the Ultraverse! Launched in 1993 by Malibu Comics during the late stage of what is now called the Comic Book Speculator Boom in Amerca, the Ultraverse was a line of superhero comic books featuring all-new characters and concepts which were the result of intense brainstorming by the founders of the Ultraverse.

Back in mid-1993 here in the Philippines, I first got to discover the Ultraverse through print ads in comic books and take note that the Internet was not yet publicly accessible. By June that year, I visited a comic book store in BF Homes, Paranaque and was astonished to see the store’s wall with multiple Ultraverse comic books on display. With my limited funds at that time, I only managed to buy Freex #1 and Mantra #1. By the end of the evening, I greatly enjoyed what I read and became an Ultraverse fan ever since.

As the months passed by, I enjoyed reading more Ultraverse comic books. What was also fun to read were the special double-sized UV comic books, the Ultraverse Double Feature comic books (flip comic books) and then there was the Ultraverse Premiere #0 comic book which had a cover of Mantra drawn by the great Jim Lee! This is the one comic book I am taking a look back at.

UVprem1
The front cover drawn by Jim Lee!

So what Ultraverse Premiere #0 and what made it special other than having a cover drawn by Jim Lee? Released in late 1993, the comic book is a showcase of separate stories featuring Prime, The Strangers, Rune, Hardcase, Mantra and Freex. It is also a showcase of the respective talents of a big mix of writers and artists that include Len Strazewski, Tom Mason, Gerard Jones, Steve Englehart, Barry Windsor-Smith, Rick Hoberg, James Hudnall, Mike W. Barr, Norm Breyfogle and others.

Given its release date, the stories served as preludes leading to the stories told in the launch comic books. For example, the Hardcase story shows Tom Hawke/Hardcase with his team called The Squad performing what turned out to be their last mission leading directly to the events that started Hardcase #1.

UVprem3
Tom Hawke/Hardcase with his lovely teammate during his time with The Squad.

The story of Mantra in the comic book however was presented more like a side-story. Lukasz is already shown as Mantra with her mystical powers and revealing outfit in place. The short story adds a nice perspective on the personality of Mantra as well as her burden of having to take care of a daughter.

The Rune segment meanwhile was a look at the making of the character involving Barry Windsor-Smith and his art. In the text written by Chris Ulm, what caught my attention was the following segment.

After writing up the concept in the Ultraverse bible, I shortly added Rune to “Fusion”, the story of a conspiracy to develop the ultimate biological weapon by a covert group called Aladdin.

UVprem4
This opening of the Freex short story starts very strongly.

Of course, there is also the fine story of Prime by Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones with great looking art by the late Norm Breyfogle. Remember in the early pages of Prime #1 when the overly muscular superhero claimed he saw the school coach touch the young girls? That got emphasized in the Prime short story in this comic book.

And then there is the one very memorable whole page art of Prime by Breyfogle.

UVprem2
I love this art of Prime by the late Norm Breyfogle.

The stories and art, in my view, were done with a lot of passion by the creators. They make Ultraverse Premiere #0 a worthy comic book to collect even though Marvel (which acquired Malibu Comics in the mid-1990s) screwed the Ultraverse and left the characters and concepts in limbo with no clear sign of any revival coming.

Last but not least, there is this great art of the Ultraverse characters done by Art Nichols at the rear of the comic book.

Ultraverse
The best back cover of any superhero comic book of the 1990s!

Art Nichols’ work on the back cover is fantastic and timeless in my view. It’s great multi-character art that truly captures the spirit of the Ultraverse!

If you are going out to buy old comic books, I strongly recommend Ultraverse Premiere #0.


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