A Look Back at Prime #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.

Hey everyone! If you are looking for something new with my retro reviews of Ultraverse comic books, then you will get it now as I’ve decided to go back to the Prime monthly series for the first time in over thirty days since my last Prime review.

That being said, here is my look back at Prime #5, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones, and drawn by the late Norm Breyfogle.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins with an unbelievable yet living cartoon character called Maxi-Man about to strike a young and helpless Kevin (Prime actually) claiming to be doing it for the majesty of Boneyard (a villain of Mantra’s). Fortunately, Kevin got saved by Kelly who pulled him away from Maxi-Man’s deadly strike.

With the local community already in chaos due to Maxi-Man’s rampage, Kevin and Kelly ran to the nearby city park only to be stopped by the him. With her ankle hurt, Kelly could not move from her downed position and tells Kevin to run.

Kevin struggles with the tension building up as Maxi-Man makes his way to Kelly…

Quality

Heavily action-packed, smart, intriguing and engaging this comic book truly is! Let me start with the storytelling here. Len Strazewski and Gerard Jones crafted a great story that not only followed Prime’s exploits but also fleshed out his personality a lot with an emphasis on his civilian life as teenager Kevin who happens to be dealing with the pressure of living a double-life (as an unstable superhero and as a high school student). He pursues to be with Kelly but suddenly finds themselves in trouble with the unexpected presence of Maxi-Man, an in-story cartoon character Kevin admired so much as a child. This not only added to Kevin’s struggle with stress but also complicates his mind. By focusing closely on Kevin, you will feel his struggle a lot.

When it comes to the spectacle, Norm Breyfogle perfectly brought the script to life and ramped up the excitement a whole lot with his illustrations. The visual highlight is the big battle between Prime and Maxi-Man, and even though the fighting is extensive, it never feels dumb nor brainless due to the smart dialogue provided by the writers (note: observe closely the exchange of words Prime and Maxi-Man had with each other). Breyfogle clearly paced the action sequences smoothly and he chose the right moments to draw the action dynamically.

Speaking of dialogue, I love the following line Prime said during the fight with Maxi-Man…

“I’m what you’re supposed to be! I’m a hero! I grew up on your cartoons! I learned about heroism from you! About fighting for what’s right! I don’t know how you got to be real, or why you’re trying to kill us—but I’m gonna show you what you taught me!”

Back to the writing, there is a sub-plot that took place during the big battle. That one added a good amount of mystery and intrigue not only into the story but also to the Ultraverse itself.

Conclusion

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Kevin (Prime), Kelly and Maxi-Man.

What can I say? Prime #5 is a great read! Personally, when it comes to Prime’s encounters, I found this one to be much more engaging, more fun and more intriguing than even Prime’s encounter with Prototype in the previous issue (which is supposed to be an essential encounter between the Ultraverse’s main superheroes). The way I look at this comic book’s quality, the creators actually over-did themselves to deliver superhero greatness.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prime #5 (1993), 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 #5 (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 Prototype #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.

Wrapping up the details after the end of a major crossover is undoubtedly challenging for any comic book creator. Doing such aftermath work includes settling the interaction between characters from different comic book series, explaining the details behind what happened, how the event itself affected the rest of the comic book universe and more. The crossover I’m referring to her specifically is Break-Thru, the memorable year-ender story of the Ultraverse.

This time, we will see the post-Break-Thru side through the armored hero of the Ultraverse in this look back at Prototype #6, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story co-written by Len Strazewski and Tom Mason, and drawn by Roger Robinson.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins just hours after the ultras of Earth fought the epic battle on the moon. Prototype and Prime fly their way back to Earth, with the latter serving as a makeshift shield from the heat of re-entry. By this time, the two ultras just concluded their meeting with the Strangers back on the moon, and it was there the idea of trailing Prime was discussed. For Prototype, doing this was crazy especially since it was only days since he fought Prime back on Earth.

Along the way, Prototype (pilot by Jimmy Ruiz specifically) intends to talk with Stanley Leland whom he believes set him up and almost got him killed with the mission to the moon…

Quality

4
After Prototype and Prime parted ways with the Strangers…

This comic book’s story is compelling. Not only does it wrap up the details of Break-Thru through the viewpoint of Prototype, it excelled with telling the story of Bob Campbell (the original Prototype pilot). As the build-up for Bob has been established in the previous issues, his story here resulted a nice pay-off and most notably, it raises the stakes when it comes to the narrative of the Prototype series (which consistently told parallel stories of Jimmy and Bob). I also enjoyed the introduction of a new villainess as well as the continued portrayal of corporate intrigue (this alone is one of the best features of the Ultraverse narrative).

The visuals done by Roger Robinson are pretty good and they really brought the script to life. Robinson also scored well with making the action scenes look dynamic without going over the top.

Conclusion

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The money shot!

Prototype #6 is a great read! Not only does it wrap up the Break-Thru crossover through Prototype, it also has solid storytelling turning points not only with Bob Campbell but also Jimmy Ruiz. There were no boring scenes and I love the way the script emphasized the culture of corporate America within the Ultraverse and how it affects ultras.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prototype #6 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4.

Overall, Prototype #6 (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 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 #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

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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

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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 The Strangers #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.

I could never forget the sense of engagement and fun I had the first time I read the Ultraverse comic book The Strangers #1 decades ago. After completing that comic book, I was really eager to discover more of the team and what else they would encounter in the next issue. Entertainment and literary value aside, The Strangers #1 succeeded in making me craving for more about the Ultraverse (same with reading Hardcase #1, Mantra #1, Freex #1, Prime #1 and Prototype #1).

Take note that the year was 1993 when Malibu Comics launched the Ultraverse and at that time I was already a fan of the X-Men and Marvel Comics organized the celebration of X-Men’s 30th anniversary that same year. As such, it became a challenge for me to collect X-Men-related comic books while keeping up with the Ultraverse releases. While the X-Men 30th anniversary was heavily marketed, The Strangers and Freex were superhero team titles under the Ultraverse that still caught my attention. I’m really glad that

Enough with the history lesson. Let’s now take a look back at The Strangers #2, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Rick Hoberg.

Early story

The story begins with the Strangers riding a private jet piloted by Lady Killer. Flying over the city of Fresno in California, the jet heads to a very strange cloud which seems to be the source of the powers they suddenly gained (as a result of what happened when they rode the cable car in San Francisco).

After some effort, they discover, to their surprise, an entire island with a forest and a small mountain completely floating hidden in the cloud. Upon landing, Atom Bob, Grenade, Electrocute, Lady Killer, Spectral and Zip-Zap move into the forest to explore. Eventually they got surrounded by members of a tribe (including the flying lady whom they encountered in issue #1) who use magic to take them down…

Quality

16
The Strangers move into action!

In terms of quality, this comic book worked strongly as a concluding piece to the previous issue. In issue #1, the story was about one main event that impacted the lives of strangers who happened to be riding the cable car, and those who gained powers got together. The Strangers #2 was more about the powered strangers searching for answers only to find themselves in a tremendous misadventure they did not anticipate. The result is a nice series of further incidents laced with spectacle, interactions between the characters and ultimately another bout of fun and discovery for readers to experience.

When it comes to the writing, the narrative from the 1st issue continued smoothly here. Apart from the big misadventure on the floating island, the further development of each member of The Strangers proved to be very strong. Lady Killer is firmly established to be strong-willed and capable of leading and organizing people. Spectral starts doing more as he gradually learns more about his untapped potential. By the time I reached the end of this comic book, I got to know the characters much more and also craved for more on their further adventures/misadventures. Visually, Rick Hoberg’s art really brought the story to life.

Conclusion

4
Get to know the Strangers more with this page.

The Strangers #2 is an excellent comic book worthy of being part of your collection. In my view, this comic book is an essential follow-up to the excellent 1st issue. Without this, your discovery of the Strangers would be incomplete. This comic book also explains how the team got its name.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #2, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition, the bagged edition and the newsstand edition cost $4, $4 and $8 respectively.

Overall, The Strangers #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 #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 Break-Thru #1

When done right, a crossover storyline showcasing a big mix of superheroes getting involved in a huge event can be memorable and worth revisiting years after getting published.

Back in 1993, Malibu Comics launched the Ultraverse which involved many talented creators. Right from the start, it was made clear that there was a shared universe occupied by The Strangers, Night Man, Prototype, Prime, Mantra, Hardcase and many others.

Before the end of 1993, Malibu launched Break-Thru #1 which started a new storyline that involved many of the above characters plus Firearm, The Solution, Sludge and Solitaire. Adding more punch to this comic book was Malibu’s hiring of legendary artist George Perez who worked on the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series of DC Comics.

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A great cover! One of the best ever for any Ultraverse comic book!

Here is a close look at Break-Thru #1 mainly written by Gerard Jones, drawn by George Perez and inked by John Lowe with colors by Moose Baumann. Credited as contributing writers were Steve Englehart, Mike W. Barr, Steve Gerber, James D. Hudnall, Tom Mason, George Perez, James Robinson and Len Strazewski.

Early story

The story begins immediately after the end of Exiles #4. A man falls to his death from the top of a tower thinking he was reaching the moon at night. Elsewhere, an airplane sharply goes up with too much altitude as the pilot obsesses with going to the moon

As it turns out, the media reports about people trying to reach the moon and getting restless. A member of Exiles lies helplessly on a bed with his entire body covered with medical materials for his injuries. A doctor presses him for answers and he claims to know that Amber, one of the Exiles members, looks a lot like a young lady floating over Los Angeles. He thinks she is responsible for the madness that has been going around the world.

The injured confirmed that the lady, floating high above with reddish energy around her, is none other than Amber. He claims, however, that he has no idea what happened but shared that she was already prone to volatile energy blasts.

Behind the scenes, members of Aladdin discuss what has been happening. One of them believes that Amber may hold important clues to the nature and origin of Ultras. The Aladdin people get distracted with noise caused by Eden Blake (Mantra in civilian form) who secretly eavesdropped on them pretending to be lost (note: a reference is made to Mantra #5 to explain her new employment with Aladdin.)

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The military and Prime.

Aladdin decides to activate their own Ultra named Wrath. Over at the Pentagon, military officers discuss the information about Wrath they got received from their moles at Aladdin. Their leader wondered about sending Prime (with a modified look) on a mission but he can’t have anyone see how he modified the Ultra.

Meanwhile in the bowels of the Earth, a man who is not really a man watches…

Quality

In terms of storytelling, Break-Thru #1 has a nice build-up. It took its time making references to the many, many characters of the Ultraverse. By the end of the comic book, you will realize there are different kinds of Ultras: the solo Ultras, the corporate Ultras, the freelancers, the work-for-hire Ultras, the accidental Ultras and the like. With regards to emphasizing the shared universe, this comic book shows that connections with the individual comic books are tight. References in what happened in Exiles #4, Prime #6, Mantra #5 and others all helped build-up the concept of Break-Thru. The story is 35-pages long which, in my opinion, was sufficient not only to emphasize the conflict Break-Thru but also give readers enough space to get to know what exactly is going on, who are these many characters, what the institutions involved are, etc.

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Mantra with Prototype.
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The Strangers discuss what has been happening.

More on Break-Thru’s concept, I like the way the comic book emphasized how the sudden presence of multiple Ultras affected local societies, members of the public, the government, the secret groups and others. It also sheds light on how people, regardless of social class or status, react to the presence of people who carry special powers or have unusual talents over them. This reminds me of a key scene in the 2012 Avengers movie in which Col. Fury mentioned how the sudden presence of super beings caused a disturbance.

Spectacle? Unsurprisingly there is a good amount of action as well as incidental moments that kept the narrative entertaining.

Visually, Break-Thru #1 is a great looking comic book thanks to George Perez who is famous for drawing multiple characters environments with his distinctive style complete with a high level of detail. There is not a single boring moment with his art and each panel has really nice visuals. The action scenes and incidental happenings (example: Valerie’s sudden burst of energy) come with a lot of punch.

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Freex got affected.

Very notably, Perez’s take on each of the Ultraverse characters is very good to look at and in some ways, certain characters look a lot better than they did in their respective comic book series. A perfect example here is the team Freex whose characters look more human (in style) and more lively. Of course, I don’t mean to say that the illustrators of the Freex series did not do a good job.

Perez’s drawing of Mantra is very good. Similar results with The Strangers, Hardcase, Solitaire and Prototype. Very clearly George Perez carefully did his research on the characters and their respective designs.

Conclusion

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Hardcase, Choice and The Solution on the move!

Overall, Break-Thru #1 is a great comic book to read and it reflects the high quality and deep engagement the Ultraverse had when it was still under the control of Malibu Comics (note: Marvel Comics acquired them and drastically changed the UV for the worse in the mid-1990s). It definitely still is one of the finest superhero crossover comic books of the 1990s and, personally, I found it to be more engaging than the launch issues of other crossover storylines like Zero Hour and The Infinity Gauntlet. If you are interested, Break-Thru continued in Firearm #4, Freex #6, Hardcase #7, Mantra #6, The Night Man #3, Prime #7, Prototype #5, Sludge #3, Solitaire #2, The Solution #4, The Strangers #7 and then in Break-Thru #2.

Break-Thru #1 is highly recommended and you can buy a near-mint copy of it for $4 at Mile High Comics’ website.


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 UltraForce #1 (1994)

There is nothing like seeing squabbling individuals (each with a unique talent or two) realize that they have to end the division between them and work together to solve a problem that affects everyone.

Tropes like that are common in superhero comic books, animation, movies and other forms of media. The concept of having superheroes is precisely the key element behind the UltraForce of the Ultraverse.

To put things in perspective, UltraForce is a team of superheroes (called Ultras in the Ultraverse) composed of Prime, Hardcase, Prototype, Topaz, Ghoul, Pixx and Contrary. The team was formed to protect the public while, at the same time, keep their fellow Ultras (examples: Mantra, The Strangers, Night Man, etc.) from getting out of line with the general public and their government leaders.

Previously, I discussed what would it be like had superheroes conspired with government officials and corporate media as told in UltraForce #2. For this article, we take a look back at the formation of the team in UltraForce #1, published by Malibu Comics in August 1994 with a story by Gerard Jones and art by the legendary George Perez.

RCO001_1463648135.jpg
Great cover by George Perez.

Early story

The story begins with a disaster as fighter planes get pulled down to the ground by an unknown force. A pilot who ejected and flew by parachute finds himself pulled down as well. Down on his back, he feels intense pain and could not get himself up. His body begins to get destroyed when a voice is heard.

“You thought your little flying toys would stop me. You thought your mastery of light and air made you invincible. And no creature of the dark, hidden places could possibly beat you. Now feel the weight. Feel what we feel. The weight of the core of the Earth. The weight of eons of darkness. The age of light and air is done. Prepare for a new age. The age of Atalon!”

Inside a ship above the desert, Hardcase reacts as he watches multiple monitors showing current events highlighting people’s fear of the Ultras, citizen demanding controls, Hardcase reported as saying “only Ultras can control Ultras”, plus an image of Prime and Prototype in action. With him were Contrary, Pixx and Ghoul.

“No!” said Hardcase. “I won’t go through that again!”

Harcase clarifies to his companions that, due to his past with The Squad ending in tragedy, he won’t join a group and end up counting friends’ bodies again. Regarding his reported quote in the media, he stated that he specifically said that government could never control Ultras plus he did not say an UltraForce should try to do it. Being an actor in Hollywood, he decides to go to the media and wash his hands of this.

Contrary, who is the schemer in the team, asked him, “Won’t the public fear Ultras more and more…unless someone steps up to teach Ultras how to function in the world?”

Hardcase asked if she was the one to do the teaching.

Pixx butts into the conversation telling them that Prime and Prototype are about to approach the press. After calling Pixx an attentive student, Contrary tells Hardcase she is the to teach the Ultras which she claims is her business.

In front of the press, Prime (who is a kid inside that overly muscular body) talks impulsively to them and Prototype (who is receiving communication feed from Ultratech which seeks a public coup with the idea of him gathering the team) who states that an UltraForce is needed and that he will recruit one.

This sets off Prime to act even more impulsively over who has credit over the UltraForce idea. Behind the scenes, Ultratech’s Leland and Hardcase watch as things turn wrong (between Prime and Prototype) in front of the press.

RCO006_1463648135~2.jpg
An incident like that in front of the media is enough to mislead the public into thinking negatively about who got covered in the press. There are those who acted badly in front of the press and there are media operators who practice journalism wrongly.

“They’re going to force the government to crack down on Ultras!” – Hardcase.

Concerned that the embarrassment could start a civil war between Ultras and Normals (the people), Hardcase tells Contrary he wants to leave the ship to prevent things from getting worse. Contrary gets on his way saying she was going to talk to Prime and Prototype and even have their ship fly after them.

Hardcase disagrees with her idea and insisted she should not be near the mess (about Ultras and the public) until she comes clean with all her secrets and explain what her academy for Ultras is about.

“Is this the same Hardcase who didn’t want responsibility of leading other Ultras…laying down the law for me?” – Contrary

Eventually Contrary sends Hardcase away and tells Pixx to bring their ship to the Redstone Arsenal.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Topaz appears suddenly in the middle of a football game causing confusion to the players and the spectators.

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The power of Prime!

Quality

I absolutely enjoyed reading UltraForce #1 for the fact that it has a very engaging story, great art, in-depth characterization and a great presentation of superheroes banding together for a higher cause. It is the complete package of what a fun yet thoughtful superhero comic book should be!

The story written by Gerard Jones shows lots of signs that things were carefully planned not just for the comic book but for the Ultraverse as a whole as it focused on the concept about the Ultras being on the edge of getting misunderstood by the general public (the people who don’t have powers) who in turn relied on the news coverage of corporate media (which itself has lapses or made deliberate moves that did not give the viewers an accurate look at the events that happened) to take a look at beings with powers.

This concept kinda reminds me of the traditional concept behind the X-Men. Charles Xavier founded the X-Men to train mutants to use their gifts for good while trying to establish a bond of understanding and tolerance between mutants and humans.

UltraForce’s concept of the fragile link between Ultras and ordinary people really went deep as it involved not only the media but also the private sector, the government leaders and the armed forces. Heck, in Prototype #1 the corporation Ultratech made its move with Ultras by having a flying, armored guy representing them. In Prime #1, the element of militarism was involved.

The comic book’s concept is nicely reflected in Hardcases thoughts below.

“Great. The military, the media, the eyes of the world…dying for a sign. Are Ultras for them or against them? And what sign are we giving them?”

Gerard Jones also achieved a great job with the characterization. Prime is the impulsive powerful superhero who is also a loose canon because he’s really a kind inside the large, muscular body of a man. Prototype is piloted by a young guy working for a corporation and along the way, he has trouble balancing himself between duty and personal interest. Hardcase, who has been living with guilt as one of two surviving members of The Squad, struggles between his internal struggle and keeping the peace between humans and Ultras. The way I remember these three notable Ultraverse lead characters from their respective comic book series, their personalities were successfully replicated and developed in this comic book.

Contrary meanwhile is subtle yet brainy and strategic figure of the team. For the most part, she is mysterious and yet already has a clear vision about mentoring people with super powers. She is easily the most defining member of UltraForce who does not have her own comic book series. Topaz, who comes from a society of women, is clearly the Ultraverse parallel to DC Comics’ Wonder Woman. She appeared in prior issues of Mantra and her addition to UltraForce added more depth and variety. Of course, given her background, working alongside men is a challenge for her personally. Pixx and Ghoul, meanwhile, contributed nicely as supporting characters in this comic book. For the villain King Atalon, he succeeded in presenting himself and his group as a credible threat to the world. Not only is he powerful in combat, he is very driven with a mission for his kingdom and his people strongly love him and support him.

Even though this was just the first story, UltraForce #1 is already a nice exploration of each member’s personality and the personal relationships between them. How these characters formed a team was not only convincing but was done with a lot of depth and focus. At the same time, the dialogue written for each character is lively to read. Take note how Atalon reacted to Prototype’s attack on him.

“Didn’t your Dr. Einstein tell your people decades ago that great gravity could bend even energy? But you never do listen to your own wise men, do you? Just like my people. We wise ones must find ways to make you listen.”

Spectacle and action? There’s lot of them in this comic book. More than enough to satisfy anyone who enjoys reading superhero stories that pack a lot of hard-hitting action, intense moments of damage on the surrounding made only possible by superheroes, energy blasts and the like.

This bring me to the next aspect of the comic book….George Perez’s great art! I should say that Malibu Comics made the best decision to hire Perez for UltraForce #1 given his established talent of drawing multiple superheroes in high detail (with that distinct style on drawing human faces) and ensuring that what was written on Gerard Jones’ script would come out not only looking great but also always look very lively. I love the way Perez drew the facial expressions of Hardcase, the visualization of Prime’s immense strength, Pixx looking really like a teenager, the high level of detail on the backgrounds, Ghoul’s creepy look and much more. No doubt about it, each and every panel drawn by Perez is great to look at!

Conclusion

I really love reading and re-reading UltraForce #1. It succeeded in its goal of getting the divided superheroes together to form a team in convincing fashion complete with a clear and present danger (Atalon and his people) that justifies the events. It’s got great writing and art, very engaging characters, heavy action and a good amount of characterization. The good news about this comic book is that it can be found in good supply online and you don’t have to worry about paying high prices for it. As of this writing, you can order a near-mint copy of UltraForce #1 for only $4 at the website of Mile High Comics. Apart from comic books, there were some action figures of UltraForce released and there was a short-lived animated series of it on TV.

If you are a comic book reader who is dissatisfied with today’s comic books (and even superhero movies), if you are reader looking for a great superhero team reading experience, or if you want the best superhero comic book experiences of not only the Ultraverse but of the 1990s as a whole, then UltraForce #1 is highly recommended! This comic book is a classic of its decade!


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 The Solution #1

Back in the 1990s, there was a flood of superhero comic books that introduced brand new heroes, teams and even anti-heroes. A strong contributor to this was the market presence of Image Comics, Valiant Comics, Malibu Comics and other smaller publishers that tried their best to gain shares in what was back then the highly lucrative superhero comic book market which was long dominated by Marvel Comics and DC Comics.

With Malibu Comics, their Ultraverse franchise of superhero comics was a blast and I had a lot of fun reading comic books of The Strangers, Prime, Hardcase, UltraForce, Mantra, etc.

For this review, here is my look back at the Ultraverse team comic book The Solution #1 (September 1993).

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The front cover.

Written by the late James Hudnall and drawn by Darick Robertson (inked by John Lowe), the story begins when Russian personnel get killed by a team of deadly people whose purpose is to raid the nuclear storage buildings.

As a result, several nuclear warheads were taken away without a trace. A KGB agent discusses the tragedy with an Aladdin agent and seeks help. In response, the Aladdin agent recommends to him The Solution.

“We’d like to (help) but our agency can’t give you any direct assistance. You know how it is. However these people might be what you need. Just remember…I never told you about them,” the Aladdin agent said.

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Meet The Solution.

In Hong Kong, a member of the triad instructs his hired assassins to distribute a shipment of illegal substances without getting any interference from The Solution. Predictably, the said team happens to be with them in their secret venue which starts a wave of martial arts, shooting and use of magic.

Enough with the plot. The Solution is a team of super-human mercenaries composed of Lela Cho/Tech (the leader), Eara/Shadowmage, Vurk/Outrage and Dropkick. Quite literally, whenever a major problem happens someone will call The Solution (the answer) to solve it for a fee.

In terms of character design, The Solution has a rather visceral look which was clearly emphasized on the cover art. Outrage, for example, looks very monstrous and one could easily mistake him for an evil figure.

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Obvious antagonists.

Illustrator Darick Robertson’s art is nice to look at and when the action happens, he sure delivers the goods making the hard action moves look intense. Even showing characters firing their guns look intense. The violence in this comic book is quite bloody and the opening scenes really show that.

Even with the non-action, talking scenes, Robertson’s art makes the members of The Solution look believably human. Facial expressions are good and they quite match the dialogue written. The team shot on page 21, which shows Lela Cho in the foreground talking to her teammates in the background, really looks nice.

In terms of writing, I found this comic book to be a bit bloated in terms of details and plot. Most notably, the pace of the story moves very fast and while it does its job establishing The Solution (and part of its purpose as a team-for-hire), the circumstances and the team’s place within the Ultraverse, the story felt really crammed even though there were 28 pages of story and art. I noticed that while the comic book is about The Solution, it ended up showing a total of three different teams (including the hired assassins).

In terms of character development, there was clear focus on Lela Cho which is not a surprise since she is the team leader. It turns out Lela has lots of vested interests in the corporate world and instead of being in a fancy office, she goes out in the field to get things done. She has a very direct, personal access to information online by means of wetware embedded in her skull. She also has a touch of business in her approach with leading The Solution.

“Our potential client has a problem with some Ultras. They want us to take care of it,” Lela Cho said on page 23.

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You got a problem? Call The Solution!

While it may not look as prominent as The Strangers or UltraForce as far as Ultraverse superhero teams go, The Solution stands out nicely for it is unique and its team-for-hire concept is very interesting. When I first read this comic book long ago, I was convinced to pursue the succeeding issues. Even by today’s standards, this old comic book remains fun and engaging.

The Solution #1 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. 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

Transformers at Toycon 2019

During the recent Toycon at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, I took time out to take a look at the displays of the Transformers.

To be clear, the Transformers I got oriented with as a youth was way back in the 1980s when the animated series (specifically Generation One) was released which also saw the rise of the popularity of the accompanying toy line. I also have fond memories of the 1986 film The Transformers: The Movie.

Frankly speaking, I’m not too fond of the modern Transformers that appeared in the movies directed by Michael Bay. As such, I took pics of the Transformers at the exhibits of Toycon with nostalgia in mind.

To enlarge, just click the pictures.

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Generation One Transformers mixed with characters from The Transformers: The Movie.
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Devastator (Constructicons), Dinobots, Insecticons plus some Autobots and Decepticons on display.

And then I found more Transformers on display for sale (along with other figures) at one of the vendors at the main exhibition hall during Toycon.

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At the table of one of the vendors.

Going back to the exhibit, there were two sets of the Transformers that really caught my attention as they expressed strong messages.

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I really admire this showcase.
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Yes to God!

In ending this, I’d like to read a verse from the Holy Bible for all of you readers.

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16: 31)

To the guys who prepared the Transformers carrying messages opposing drugs and expressing God’s love during the exhibit at Toycon this year, you did the right thing! Praise the Lord always! Believe in Him! Never let your faith in the Lord weaken!


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 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.

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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!”

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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.

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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.