A Look Back at Wonder Woman #18 (1988)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors, fellow geeks and fans of Wonder Woman! Last time, I found George Perez’s standalone writing of the story about Wonder Woman discovering Greece and its connections to her people’s heritage a really good story. For much of the post-crisis Wonder Woman monthly series’ early stage, the stories were done by Perez and the late Len Wein. In issue #17, Perez not only succeeded in developing Diana/Wonder Woman further, he also captured nicely the wonder of discovery of new places and astonishing aspects of life while traveling overseas.

Of course, issue #17 was not purely a tourism story through the eyes of the Queen of Superheroes. There was an obvious build-up of a new villain who is aware of Wonder Woman’s presence in Greece.

What will happen next? Who could the new force of evil be? We can find out in this look back at Wonder Woman #18, published by DC Comics in 1988 with a story written and drawn by George Perez with ink work done by Dick Giordano.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins deep in the darkness of limbo. Light sparks suddenly as Zeus, Hades and Poseidon arrive in the search of their father called Cronus. Zeus retrieves the Olympian pact. After further talking, they join forces in lighting a flame to burn the pact to make way for something new.

Meanwhile in a hospital in the Greek isle of Cephalonia, Diana wakes up surrounded by Julia Kapatelis, Vanessa, a doctor and other Greeks. Diana states that some kind of aura seemed to clutch her in a chilling grip which Julia dismisses and believes that her Amazon friend was simply tired from all the months-long pushing herself since returning from Themyscira.

Julia introduces Diana to Theophilus Ventouras and his nephew Demetrios. The older Ventouras is the owner of the wealthiest estate on the islands. He tells Diana that the governor asked him to meet her at the dock and reveals to her that a local boy was killed by a wolf which some car calling it as a “magia”.

As they continue talking, a nurse listens to them carefully just outside the door of the room they are in. She learns about Ventouras’ offer of assistance to Diana and quietly leaves. Some time later just outside the hospital, the nurse (named Angela) reveals to a man named Mikos that Diana and her group will be going to Ventourata the next day…

Quality

Without hesitation, Wonder Woman moves to save lives.

I can start by saying that this is another well-written tale by George Perez. Apart from the continuing focus on Wonder Woman’s discovery of Greece, the elements of fantasy, intrigue, suspense and even horror have been used more in this comic book compared to the previous issue.

When it comes to characterization, Diana’s close relationship with the Kapatelises is deepened further as the story explored the already established Greek background of Julia. I also found engaging Wonder Woman’s unflinching moves to search for Vanessa and get her out of trouble any way she could.

For those of you who are aware about the lack of superhero spectacle in issue #17, I can share to you that there definitely is more action in this comic book and it is all nicely presented by George Perez.

Continuing what began in the previous issue, Perez ramped up further the build-up of the new force evil awaiting Wonder Woman. I won’t reveal who it is but rest assured, this comic book’s ending is pretty strong and easily justifies the build-up.

Conclusion

Diana and Julia treat each other like family.

Wonder Woman #18 (1988) successfully continued the redefining of the Queen of Superheroes in the post-Crisis era and George Perez really delivered great stuff as well as a very solid story here. From start to finish, there is a lot to enjoy and examine in the story.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman #18 (1988), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $41 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $84.

Overall, Wonder Woman #18 (1988) 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

For Wonder Woman fans, be aware that the movie Wonder Woman 1984 will be released in a 4K Blu-ray disc combo on March 30, 2021. Read my article for the details and, if you have decided to order, do it now at Amazon.

A Look Back at Action Comics #500 (1979)

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.

To publish a five hundredth issue of an extensive monthly comic book series is clearly a major milestone for any publisher. To do the math, it takes a whole year to publish 12 issues on a monthly schedule. To reach five hundred issues on a monthly pace will require forty-one years and eight months’ time to publish.

Way back in the late 1970s, DC Comics achieved the said milestone with their extensive monthly series titled Action Comics which is often identified with the world’s most famous superhero – Superman! Take note that DC Comics started in 1935 while Action Comics #1 (the first appearance of Superman) was published a few years later.

Going back to the 500th issue of Action Comics, it is easy to wonder what DC Comics’ talent came up with to celebrate the milestone. That being said, we can all find out more in this look back at Action Comics #500, published by DC Comics in 1979 with a story written by Martin Pasko and visualized by Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Superman arriving at a pavilion named after him at the Metropolis World’s Fair. Countless people welcomed with lots of cheering as he lands near the mayor in the presence of the famous entrepreneur J. Robert Arngrim. Also present were Superman’s closest friends Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White.

After the formal opening, Superman leads a large group of people as their tour guide. Together they arrived a wide hall containing the Krypton exhibit showcasing alien technology, architecture and life on Superman’s home planet. In response to a request by Arngrim, Superman reluctantly agrees to do a demonstration of the mind-prober ray, a machine Superman himself invented as a boy mainly to retrieve memories from his subconscious.

As the Man of Steel takes his seat on the machine in front of the tourists and Arngrim, an unidentified person located in a secret facility prepares to invade Superman’s mind…

Quality

Teenage Clark Kent gradually becoming Superboy.

To make it clear, this 500th issue of the Action Comics monthly series is an extensive, no advertisements tribute to Superman and I can say that the comic book creators really went all out to present lots of stuff to please Superman fans.

As such, the story was written to help the newer fans of the time to be more familiar of the legacy of Superman (note: this was years before Crisis on Infinite Earths happened) by revisiting and dramatizing established events of the Man of Steel’s legacy such as Jor-El (Superman’s father) failing to convince the Kryptonian science council members that their world was doomed, Superman sent to Earth as a child in a rocket before Krypton’s destruction, getting raised by an American couple after arriving on Earth, becoming Superboy (note: another pre-Crisis element), getting a job at the Daily Planet, welcoming Supergirl on Earth, and so on.

Superman leading the tour.

Of course, Superman does not reveal key details of his personal life to the people during the tour and such recollections were presented to delight us readers. Still, there is richness in the writing and the art. Even though I am already familiar with DC’s icon and the Superman-related mythos, I still had a lot of fun reading the events of Superman’s past, particularly his early years as the adopted son of the Kent couple who in turn did their best to adjust to his super abilities while raising him with good values and discipline.

While the recollections from Superman’s past are engaging, the present-day tour at the Superman pavilion is itself quite fascinating. There were displays of supervillains such as Lex Luthor, Braniac and Parasite. There was even a collection of the different types of Kryptonite. What really nailed the present-day story was a nice twist that allowed for some new superhero spectacle and intrigue to take place.

Conclusion

The first stop of the tour – Krypton exhibit!

While this portrayal of Superman is already outdated given the time of its release, Action Comics #500 (1979) is still a lot of fun to read and it is indeed a great tribute to DC’s most famous superhero. If you are a Superman fan who has gotten sick and tired of the way DC Comics reshaped and modernized Superman since after the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, this comic book could be refreshing for you. It is also a lively piece of DC Comics’ history.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Action Comics #500 (1979), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $210.

Overall, Action Comics #500 (1979) 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 Freex #11 (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, Ultraverse fans, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and all other geeks! Today, we revisit the Ultraverse for more 1990s comic book fun through another tale of Freex, the team of misfits who have no place to stay.

Last time around, the narrative of Freex suddenly got much stronger X-Men vibes as it was revealed that Freex member Ray/Boom Boy was brought in by Contrary (best known in UltraForce comics) to her team of students (each with different powers and abilities) called the Academy for the New Elite. The rest of the Freex eventually found their way to the secret base of Contrary’s academy.

With those details laid down, we can continue with this look back at Freex #11, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story by Gerard Jones and drawn by Ben Herrera.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside the secret facility of the Academy for New Elite. There the surviving members of Freex (Valerie/Pressure, Lewis/Anything, Angela/Sweetface and Michael/Plug) are restrained. Plug can’t do anything except speak gibberish physically as his mind is still connected with the Internet.

Contrary arrives with her students and she tells Freex that she herself works miracles in the minds of troubled young people with powers. She welcomes them to her academy. Valerie, who has often been a rebel, reacts by telling Contrary that she won’t brainwash her like her little “puppets”. In response, Contrary emphasized that her students joined her voluntarily.

Just moments after Lewis made an issue about their teammate Boom Boy getting abducted and asking what Contrary did to turn him against them, Boom Boy suddenly appears and rebukes him.

“She didn’t do nothing…except promise to teach me. Teach me everything my parents took away from me,” Boom Boy said. “I don’t want to be dumb anymore, Lewis.”

The Freex members are stunned…

Quality

Plug’s origin story is interesting but not engaging enough when compared with the main plot.

While the storytelling in the previous issue was a nice mix of surprise and intrigue, this comic book has an even more intriguing tale which really tested the bond that held Freex members together. A notable theme in the story is loyalty which was emphasized in the form of interactions between characters, as well as the student-mentor bond between the Academy’s students and their leader Contrary. It should also be stated that perceptions about becoming loyal to the leader and the struggle to win trust are nicely dramatized in this comic book.

More on the plot, I really enjoyed the confrontation between Contrary’s team and Freex as they symbolize the conflict between being nurtured (educated as students) and being free (freedom that comes with being social outcasts). There are some really nice twists that you should discover for yourselves. Oh yes, the superhero spectacle here are fun to read.

Conclusion

Freex are the youth who are free as social outcasts while Contrary leads a team of youth who are trained and nurtured.

Freex #11 (1994) is another solid entry in the monthly series. It has a more symbolic story and the dramatics have been ramped up. The story itself is pretty cohesive and combined with all the emotions and twists, it all makes sense. It even has key elements that will remind you about today’s developments and movements like the dreaded Cancel Culture, the sinister Democratic Socialists and the wicked Black Lives Matter movement. That being said, the side story emphasizing the origin of Plug just could not match the engagement of the main plot. Regardless, this comic book marks a notable turning point for the Freex as a whole.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Freex #11 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $14.

Overall, Freex #11 (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 Wonder Woman #17 (1988)

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

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

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

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

The cover.

Early story

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

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

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

Quality

Diana visits and discovers Greece.

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

In the airplane on the way to Greece.

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

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

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

+++++

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 #21 (1995)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and geeks! We go back yet again into the Ultraverse through the exploits of The Strangers which by this point are still adjusting over Atom Bob’s betrayal. The previous issue did not show much of the team as it told a mostly solo story of Zip-Zap.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at The Strangers #21, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Paul Abrams.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a different type of aircraft. The Strangers, now with new member Teknight and old teammate Yrial, discuss matters about the unconscious Atom Bob whose body has been laid on a platform. In response to Yrial’s question about what should they do about him, Lady Killer (Atom Bob’s ex-lover) states that if a cure for him exists, they will find it. If no such cure exists, she states that the traitorous member should never wake up again.

After being informed by Lady Killer that she knows a private clinic in Europe that may have the solution to their problem, the Strangers get off the plane knowing that they should keep confidential what they just learned.

Shortly after watching Lady Killer’s private plane take off, Candy/Electrocute tells her teammates that they should just get away for a while. She decides to drive Grenade’s car. Suddenly, the car explores leaving Candy heavily damaged…

Quality

Here’s a look at Teknight, the new member of The Strangers.

This is another intriguing yet original story of The Strangers penned by Steve Englehart. To begin with, this is the first issue of this monthly series that saw Teknight actively taking part with the team and his being a new addition opened up really interesting conversations and interactions with existing team members like Grenade.

As the cover already shows, this one has spotlight on a severely damaged Candy. Still, it does not mean that this is a solo story about her (like Zip-Zap’s tale in issue #20) rather it is still a team story with Candy’s tragedy serving as a major plot point. Along the way, there were some scenes focused on Teknight which opens up interesting background details about him. Zip-Zap, who had the spotlight for most of issue #20, proves his heroic value in this comic book.

There are other notable Ultraverse details here and there that would encourage you to check out other UV comic books. What exactly those details are is for you to read this comic book and find out for yourselves.

Conclusion

Zip-Zap doing something heroic.

The Strangers #21 (1995) is intriguingly enjoyable to read. Steve Englehart deserves a lot of credit for keeping the stories of this series fresh, fun and engaging. For his part, Paul Abrams did a fine job with the art and he successfully captured the overall style of presentation of the series and his take on the characters kept them recognizable to my eyes.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #21 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $27.

Overall, The Strangers #21 (1995) 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 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 Superman Annual #10 (1984)

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.

Before DC Comics ended their original superhero multiverse with Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986) to restart all over again, there were a whole lot of stories about Superman ranging from the dramatic stuff, the epic tales and right down to the most outlandish tales.

As a kid, I was fortunate enough to buy myself a copy of a 1984 Superman comic book, the cover of which really intrigued and caught my interest. It was a Superman annual comic book with a $1.25 cover price which was somewhat high at the time. Its cover showed the Man of Steel himself carrying a sword pointed up.

That image made me wonder: Why would Superman have to use a sword when he is so powerful and capable without weapons? Where did that sword come from? Who made it in the first place? Is the sword so special to Superman?

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Superman Annual #10, published by DC Comics in 1984 with a story written by Elliot Maggin and drawn by classic Superman artist Curt Swan.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in a space where a group of diverse people composed of aliens and humans are gathered together watching a live video feed Superman on a large monitor above their heads. As it turns out, the Man of Steel is in space working to prevent meteoroids from entering the planet below him. He then speeds off into space heading back to Earth.

Along time ago deep in the galaxy, a big bang effect took place creating several new fragments in the vacuum of space and among them is a long, rough object that resembles a sword. As an unknown amount of time passed, the long object gradually turns into a smooth looking sword complete with a sharp blade and a letter “S” on one end that is the same as the one Superman carries. It is referred to as the sword of Superman!

In Metropolis, Clark Kent is passed by his officemate Jimmy Olsen who mentioned that he is rushing to interview the billionaire industrialist Oswald Mandias. Two days have passed and Jimmy Olsen remained missing. As his boss Perry White heads on to the office, Clark remains and changes into Superman when the coast got clear.

As the Man of Steel flies off into the city, a Galaxy Broadcasting live report on TV shows Lana Lang reporting from the Kennedy Space Center where the new space shuttle Magellan is about to make its first-ever commercial flight to launch a mysterious new communications satellite owned by Mandias Industries…

Quality

Clark Kent/Superman being a complete stranger to others added a lot to the story.

Being an annual, I can say that the Sword of Superman story was well-written and nicely visualized by the creators which made it fun and engaging to read. It is a Superman story that further adds to his being an essential hero of the original DC Comics multiverse and a key factor here is the somewhat outlandish concept that the sword that he gained was an original material of the universe from the big bang and even had connections to the unseen omnipotent force.

This story is not a simple, straightforward tale about Superman gaining a weapon required to defeat the supervillain King Kosmos. In fact, the sword opens up events that made the Man of Steel reevaluate himself, his situation and the people around him. King Kosmos, who is a time-travelling villain from the future (first appearance in DC Comics Presents Annual #2), served not just merely as the opposition but also adds a good amount of complexity within the reality of the story. For one thing, it is very intriguing and also refreshing to see people of Metropolis (even Clark’s friend Jimmy Olsen) failing to recognize Superman. This is a one-of-a-kind story of Superman that must be read, even though it is not really an epic tale.

Conclusion

The return of King Kosmos!

I personally enjoyed reading Superman Annual #10 (1984) the first time back in 1984. The fact here is that after re-reading it recently, I do confirm that it is still an enjoyable comic book to read, and I am not even a Superman fan anymore. That is quite something! This is indeed a really good piece of Superman history from the pre-Crisis era. It also touches on themes about omnipotence and being whole with the entire universe.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Superman Annual #10 (1984), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $35 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $70.

Overall, Superman Annual #10 (1984) 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 as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Wonder Woman #16 (1988)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, literature enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of Wonder Woman! Reflecting on my previous retro comic book review, I can only imagine how disturbing it could be to me personally if there was a big event meant for a charitable purpose which gets overshadowed with the presentation making me the greater highlight.

That’s precisely what happened in Wonder Woman #15 (1988). As soon as Princess Diana/Wonder Woman arrived at the fair (which involves Myndi Mayer’s big-time publicity work and promotions) named after her (note: the Wonder Woman Fair was conceptualized for the benefit of needy children), she was astounded at first to see so many people anticipating her arrival. When she notices the gigantic poster with her image on it, she got disturbed by it.

“Look at the poster,” Wonder Woman thought to herself. “It’s almost as if they worship me! Yet I still find all this exploitation somewhat embarrassing!”

For the newcomers reading this, the post-Crisis Wonder Woman is a native of Themyscira which has a population of women called Amazons, led by her mother Queen Hippolyte. While her status among her fellow Amazons is notably very high, there are publicity gimmicks and no merchandising of her in Themyscira. Truly the world of man is vastly different to her.

To find out what happens next, let’s take a look back at Wonder Woman #16, published in 1988 by DC Comics with a story written by George Perez and the late Len Wein. Perez did the layouts while Bob Smith did the finishes.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with people disrupted by the Silver Swan’s presence at the Wonder Woman Fair, a gala event organized on behalf of the needy children of Boston. Due to the Silver Swan’s sonic attack, the Ferris wheel begins to fall apart causing Wonder Woman to intervene and help those riding it.

As Steve Trevor successfully saved a passenger from falling to pavement, armed people (including two police officers) fired their guns at the Silver Swan who is protected by the protective shield made by her low-level humming. At another location in the fair, Maxine Sterenbuch sits by a tree tearfully agonizing over how her dear friend Valerie Beaudry became the Silver Swan all because of Henry C. Armbruster.

While in the air, Valerie realizes that it is her fault that people’s lives are in danger. Her objective was to hit Wonder Woman who proved too fast for her. Behind the scenes at a secret facility, Henry C. Armbruster tells Valerie to calm down and prepare for a level 3 force blast.

Then she screams so powerfully…

Quality

The conflict between Wonder Woman and Silver Swan is very engaging to read.

Let’s start with the writing. The story is a nice mix of superhero spectacle, intrigue and has some elements of science fiction. As a story set after Diana’s return to man’s world, it is a worthy conclusion to the events that started in issue #15. The conflict between Wonder Woman and the Silver Swan is laced with espionage and intrigue, and the arrogant Armbruster is the main force of evil behind the scenes. The spotlight on Maxine Sterenbuch was understandably reduced this time around as the conflict between Silver Swan and Wonder Woman took center stage.

As a story set after the Challenge of the Gods storyline, this comic book continues the further development of Diana as she endures the challenges of not just dealing with the people, places and events around her in man’s world but also the feelings she starts developing for one of the major superheroes of the DC universe. More on her development, Diana experiences for the first time the consequence that comes with being a celebrated figure in man’s world and she realizes that doing charity is much harder to fulfill.

When it comes to Valerie/Silver Swan, she is indeed an interesting rival opposite Wonder Woman although her lack of freedom and will prevents her from reaching her true potential as an anti-hero figure. To find out why, I urge you to read this comic book.

Conclusion

Early in the comic book…

Wonder Woman #16 (1988) is another solid post-Crisis Wonder Woman story as it further highlights a modernized Silver Swan and portrays her as an interesting form of opposition against the title character. The battle and interactions between the two are really engaging to read. As mentioned earlier, it is nice conclusion to the events that started in issue #15 and succeeds in further developing Diana as she spends more time in man’s world.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman #16 (1988), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $33 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $70.

Overall, Wonder Woman #16 (1988) 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 #20 (1995)

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

Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, comic book collectors and fans of the Ultraverse. We revisit the Ultraverse once again to follow the continuing stories of The Strangers. Last time around, the team found itself struggling with adjusting to life without Atom Bob. For Lady Killer, the loss is very painful not only for her leadership of the team but also on her heart as she had a relationship with him.

What will happen next? How will the team move forward without Atom Bob? We can all find out in this look back at The Strangers #20, published in 1995 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Sam Payne.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside the home of a mother and her son enjoying indoor basketball. Their happiness got disrupted when a large, muscular man with blonde hair crashes through their door. With him is another man named M.C. who tells the lady that he and his companion want to “borrow” her son. As the mother resisted, the slimmer man knocks her out while Beater (the large guy) grabs her son.

Elsewhere, The Strangers react to the official trading card featuring Candy/Electrocute. Leon/Zip-Zap is familiar with the value of trading cards and he shows them his card of a basketball player called Missile Monroe from his days as a rookie.

As he is eager to have the trading card signed by the basketball player, Zip-Zap heads on to the city. On his way, he notices people gathered outside Holt’s Gym which he heard is the place where Missile Monroe works out at. He then uses his super speed to go past a few more people, climb up the wall, step on the ledge and look through the window. Zip-Zap sees the basketball player shooting indoors in the presence of a friend.

Sensing opportunity, Zip-Zap decides to sneak in and make his grand entrance to meet Monroe..

Quality

Zip-Zap slams!

I can start by saying that this comic book’s story is much less of The Strangers and more about their youngest and fastest member Zip-Zap. Rather than presenting a story about Zip-Zap going back to his old neighborhood, the story is about him meeting someone very important while taking advantage of his own celebrity status as a member of The Strangers (now known by the public) to get to him.

Other his personal obsession with a sports celebrity, this comic book also explores Zip-Zap’s determination to do something heroic without the presence of his teammates. As he is still a teenager, this part of the story alone is intriguing.

Also intriguing is the introduction of two new villains in this series, MC and Beater. How they became powerful and what their connection with Missile Monroe is something you readers should discover. I personally enjoyed what was revealed.

Other than heroic happenings, the story here explores the consequences that come with big money and lucrative deals. There is also the theme about social elevation with regards to the progress a person can make coming from the local communities to the big league. Also the events in this comic book will remind readers to respect the boundaries between them and the celebrities or important people they encounter in person.

Conclusion

Zip-Zap meets Missile Monroe and friend.

Even though it had much less of the team itself, The Strangers #20 (1995) is a worthy and fun read. The story about Zip-Zap going solo temporarily for his pursuit was nicely crafted and the new characters introduced had personalities that were interesting, most notably with Missile Monroe. Apart from characterization, there is sufficient superhero spectacle to enjoy as well. Going back to Zip-Zap, anyone who loves the character will be pleased with the spotlight on him. I should also state that this story shows additional depth to Zip-Zap’s character.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #20 (1995), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $14.

Overall, The Strangers #20 (1995) 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 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 Sachs & Violens #1 (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.

Back in the early 1990s, I was fortunate enough to buy and read The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect issues #1 and #2. While each book was pretty expensive, it was all worth it because its literary and artistic content were great to read thanks to the very dynamic creative duo of Peter David and artist George Perez.

To see Future Imperfect’s story by David illustrated greatly by Perez was a magnificent read from start to finish. In 2014, Peter David confirmed that George Perez was his “single favorite artistic collaborator” and when asked as to which artists have come closest to matching the visuals he imagined while writing a comic book script, the author mentioned Perez as one of three artists to do so.

The David-Perez duo’s work together in the 1990s did not necessarily end with Future Imperfect. In fact, they took the challenge of doing an all original, adulterated, non-superhero project published through Epic Comics (Marvel Comics’ imprint that published creator-owned projects not connected with Marvel’s superhero universe) in the form of a 4-issue mini-series titled Sachs & Violens (the title itself is a play on the words “sex and violence”). Back in the 1990s, I completely missed out on that mini-series. It was only recently I finally got to start reading it.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sachs & Violens #1, published by Epic Comics in 1993 with a story written by Peter David and drawn by George Perez.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the bedroom deep within the city of New York. A pretty lady arrives, takes off her undergarment and high heels and approaches a smoking man on the bed. As they start making love with each other, a shadowy figure with a bladed weapon approaches them slowly. As the lady notices something going on, a powerful strike happens spreading blood around.

Suddenly, someone yells “Cut!” The lights got turned on and it turns out what happened was a night-time photographic session in which the director expresses his disappointment over what happened.

Elsewhere, life in the city goes on during the night. The traffic is frustrating some people. Prostitutes on the sidewalk are doing what they can to attract potential customers. Night clubc and sex shows are rampant. Among the many people walking is a pretty lady named Juanita Jean (nicknamed J.J.) who attracts the attention of a man armed with a gun. In response to his move on her, J.J. fights back by hitting his right wrist, kicking him on the groin and his chin, and knocking him out. Afterwards, she arrives at a photo studio apologizing to the photographer (Violens) for her lateness.

After some talking, J.J. proceeds to change into very erotic attire and posed sexy in front of the camera…

Quality

J.J. Sachs at the police station.

I can start by saying that this comic book is one of the most unusual works I have ever read from either Peter David or George Perez, and it’s more than just its non-superhero concept and presentation.

Starting with the visuals, this is one of the more unique works of George Perez and it surely is a fresh change after seeing so many of his superhero-related comic book works (especially the post-Crisis Wonder Woman). The usual elements of Perez’s art are here: pages with multiple panels, high detail maintained throughout even in images full of people and location stuff, beautiful looking women and the like. As this is an adulterated comic book, the level of visual eroticism got ramped up high although there were clear signs of restraint.   

With regards to the quality of the writing, this is a very adulterated tale about murder and a series of unfortunate events that disturb the public and, incidentally, motivate J.J. Sachs (a softcore porn model) and Ernie Violens (a former Vietnam War veteran working presently as a photographer) to take action. The pacing of the story is decent with lots of build-up dominating the comic book. The dialogue is witty and the main characters really have their own unique patterns of verbal expression. While the script has passionate work written all over, it is not exactly an entertaining read for me. In fact, I find the tale rather sadistic and not even its elements of intrigue and twists could engage me. This is definitely not the comic book you want to read for fun.

Conclusion

Sachs’ introduction.

Even though it has great visuals and a script written passionately (note: Peter David even wrote his opinion about sex and violence in the comic book), I am actually turned off by Sachs & Violens #1 (1993). Other than being made with adults in mind, its really a story of murder that sets off events sparking the protagonists to do something rebellious in nature. While there is indeed an antagonist, the distinction between good and evil remains unconvincing in the story. I can say that die hard fans of Peter David and George Perez will find this comic book more appealing, and there is a good chance that readers seeking material with sex and violence will enjoy it. I personally did not enjoy this one.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Sachs & Violens #1 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $18 while the near-mint copies of the limited edition, the platinum edition and the signed platinum edition cost $105, $70 and $140 respectively.

Overall, Sachs & Violens #1 (1993) is not 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 Shin Godzilla (2016)

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is classic Godzilla.

Early story

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

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

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

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

Quality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Overall, Shin Godzilla (2016) is recommended!

+++++

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