A Look Back At The Night Man #1

“I’m not who I was any more! I’m not who I’m going to be! I am the Night Man.”

The above words were from the vigilante called the Night Man, a character co-created by comic industry veteran Steve Englehart (Avengers) and Darick Robertson for Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse franchise. Those words formally opened The Night Man #1 which I’m reviewing here.

To put things in perspective, a vigilante is described as a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily (as when the processes of law are viewed as inadequate) according to Merriam-Webster dictionary. To put it broadly, the vigilante is a self-appointed doer of justice.

 

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The Night Man #1 cover.

Published in 1993 by Malibu Comics, The Night Man #1 tells the story of Johnny Domingo, a jazz player whose life changed in the pages of The Strangers #1 (also written by Englehart) in which he (while driving a vehicle) got by a cable car (that was just hit by an energy burst from the sky) resulting a piece of shrapnel embedding into his head.

Perceived by others to be doomed, Domino strangely survived and was well enough to resume his normal life. The difference is that the incident made his eyes dilated permanently which forces him to shield them from bright light.

Just as Johnny walks down the street, he learned he gained an uncanny ability when he hears, for the first time, the evil thoughts of a man (wearing a coat and a hat) planning to kill a lady on Saturday night.

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The Night Man in action!

Knowing what heard, Johnny wondered if he was crazy and what if some woman would truly be in danger. He then decides to follow the man with evil thoughts and watch his moves. Eventually Johnny followed the man to a restaurant by the beach and saw him talk with a pretty waitress named Ginger who agreed to a Saturday night date.

Carelessly Johnny approached the man too closely and got noticed, forcing him to run away and got chased until he got into a taxi that drove him away.

A short time later, Johnny starts his new career as a vigilante as the Night Man.

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In terms of storytelling, The Night Man #1 was nicely paced and never felt dragging. Within its twenty-eight pages of story, the comic book took gradual steps on introducing Johnny, how the incident with the cable car impacted him, how he became a vigilante for the first time and what went on in his mind as he became the Night Man. Given his rich experience as a writer, it is no surprise that Steve Englehart delivered a solid script.

It was also engaging to see Night Man being a determined yet very vulnerable vigilante. During his first mission in costume, he managed to beat a few bad guys but ended up getting hurt. This kinda reminds me of the vulnerability seen in the cinematic icon John McClane in 1988’s Die Hard.

The art by Darick Robertson, with ink work done by Andrew Pepoy, was nicely crafted. The civilian and vigilante looks of Night Man were well defined. The visualization of action nice and when Night Man gets hurt, he really looks in pain.

Going beyond Night Man, this comic book has a short preview (five pages, including credits) of Rune, a character created by Barry Windsor-Smith. Rune is described to be a voracious killer whose prey is all humanity and he is an alien leech who despoils the flesh of victims, culling their lifeblood into the essence of power. Rune is also a dying creature fighting for survival against the malignant disease burning inside of him.

Overall, The Night Man #1 is a worthy addition to your comic collection if you are interested in the Ultraverse (which is still kept in limbo by Marvel which acquired Malibu Comics in the mid-1990s) or are interested in vigilante-type superheroes. If you are obsessed with whatever Barry Windsor-Smith created, then the Rune stuff is a must-get.

The Night Man #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

 

 

 

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A Look Back At X-Men #1 (1991)

When I was in high school, Marvel Comics launched the comic book X-Men #1 (Volume 2, 1991) which sold an estimated eight million copies worldwide. The times back then were very exciting as the comic book had great art by Jim Lee (inked by Scott Williams and colored by Joe Rosas) combined with the writing of Chris Claremont.

For this retro review, I have the gatefold cover edition of X-Men #1 which has the complete set of covers and a cover price of $3.95. The comic book used high-quality paper (or glossy paper) for its content. To put things in perspective, X-Men #1 was released with multiple editions. The comic books carrying cover prices of $1.50 had individual covers and lower quality paper.

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The front cover.
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The back cover.

So what was X-Men #1 all about? Was it deserving of the tremendous sales success it achieved for Marvel? Did the combined talents of Claremont and Lee create something super special?

To begin with, X-Men #1 marked the beginning of a new chapter of the X-Men. In the events that happened prior to this comic book, the X-Men founder Charles Xavier had been away for many years and along the way the team went through several changes with its members. At one point, the classic villain Magneto even became the head of the X-Men. The pioneering X-Men members of Jean Grey, Cyclops, Iceman and Beast meanwhile found their temporary place outside by forming X-Factor. Eventually the Muir Island saga which incidentally reunited Xavier with his mutants.

So in this comic book, the X-Men got reformed and Xavier returned to his mansion for the first time in many years. The stakes are much higher this time because Xavier needs to adjust to the dynamics of the X-Men whose membership has grown so much two teams (Gold and Blue) had to be used. As if that was not challenging enough, the world, as Xavier noticed, is more hostile towards mutants than ever before.

In out space, two groups of people engaged in a spaceships chase which triggered Magneto (now living in a new headquarters orbiting Earth) to take action. He tells them he is no longer interested in their cause and simply wanted to be left alone.

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Magneto’s presence and energy signature alerts authorities on Earth.
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Charles Xavier shares to Jean Grey his observations as he tries to adjust with his return to his mansion. He was away for so many years and so was Jean Grey and her pioneering teammates.

Because he made his presence felt (his energy signature was detected and so was his floating headquarters), authorities on Earth had no choice but to launch the first stage of the Magneto Protocols.

In Washington DC, Col. Nick Fury meets with the President of the United States who expressed his concern about the incident in outer space which involved American shuttles that got destroyed.

US President: It’s my understanding, in fact, that the terrorists who hijacked our vehicle look to him (Magneto) as their inspiration. Suppose he makes their cause his own?

Nick Fury: If the Soviets act like hotheads, Mister President, they could make things worse.

US President: You have an alternative?

Meanwhile at the Xavier mansion, the X-Men participate in an training session with Cyclops (blue team leader) and Storm (gold team leader) watching and coordinating from the control room. Charles Xavier, who is still adjusting upon returning, closely watches the large team.

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Sarcasm by Cyclops annoyed Xavier who preferred him to keep focus on the exercise.

Of course, with the team so large, conflicting personalities and problems with bonding with each other was inevitable. Clearly the newly revamped X-Men had a long way to go before achieving true solidarity.

And then Nick Fury contacted the X-Men with the Magneto situation…

For a comic book released in 1991, this one was quite a grand product. Sure it did not have a gimmick cover of foil nor hologram nor chromium but having a gatefold cover with art of the X-Men and Magneto drawn by the great Jim Lee was itself a big luxury at the time.

Very clearly, Jim Lee and Scott Williams did their best ensuring great art for the comic book. The X-Men all look very fit (as if they all regularly spent time in the gym), their redesigned costumes were meant to look cool (although the many pouches and “suspender” of Cyclops’ costume look really silly), Magneto looks ageless and the Acolytes were designed to be the new nemesis of the X-Men.

And then there was the action…..

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Action between the X-Men and Magneto.

Jim Lee has a great vision for high-octane action designed to show impact while at the same time give readers something great to look at. In my view, Lee was influenced by action movies and he developed ways to not only make comic book action flow nicely but also deliver impact.

This comic book has a lot of action and Jim Lee cleverly visualized the capabilities of the X-Men with striking visuals. The way Wolverine looked striking at an enemy was pretty intense. Cyclops’ use of his Optic Blast to separate Magneto from Wolverine showed a lot of power. Psylocke’s physical strike against Magneto reminds me hard action scenes from Hollywood flicks.

With regards to the writing, Chris Claremont managed to redefine the X-Men for the new age while at the same time did his best to balance the story, establish the threat and build up the tension for the inevitable conflict with Magneto. In this particular comic book, it is the blue team taking on the classic villain.

Apart from the main story, X-Men #1 also came with extra stuff like behind-the-scenes sketches by Jim Lee, a preview of things to come (notably the post-Claremont concepts), a 2-page image of the X-Men enjoying the pool side of the mansion, and a villains gallery! All these extras were drawn by Jim Lee!

Overall, X-Men #1 is still a compelling comic book to read even by today’s standards. The comic book speculator boom has long been over but if you are looking for the modernizing of the X-Men for the 1990s, this one really is a milestone. Clearly, X-Men #1 was made to start the new age of the mutants with the 1990s in mind while at the same time it took the bold move of gathering Xavier and the pioneering X-Men members and putting them back into Xavier’s mansion forming a much larger team than ever. This move of mixing classic X-Men members with newer ones resulted a nice variety of personalities.

When it comes to getting this for your collection focused on Marvel’s mutants, X-Men #1 is highly recommended. Remember, you should look at this comic book as a piece of X-Men history and don’t focus on making a profit with it. Just enjoy it for what it is.

By the way, X-Men: Dark Phoenix is opening very soon in cinemas. You bought a ticket already?


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

After five long years, we finally got ourselves another big budget Godzilla movie from Warner Bros. and Legendary – Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

I can declare it out loud that this new giant monsters movie, even though it has some notable flaws, is indeed a more enjoyable cinematic experience than the 2014 Godzilla movie (directed by Gareth Edwards). What I like about it is that the movie studio and the filmmakers responded to people’s complaints about the 2014 movie.

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Godzilla and King Ghidora!

I will start with the strong points of the film with comparisons to the previous film. In the 2014 movie, people I talked with complained that there was not enough of Godzilla and the grand final battle was barely enough to make up for the monster’s lack of presence. This movie solves that with a lot more of Godzilla on screen and the final battle is grander! As sentimentalism was thrown out, the film also concludes a lot stronger as well!

Some people complained of the lack of giant monsters action in the 2014 film which had lots of slow scenes, a reliance on in-story news media coverage of disasters and an over-emphasis on building up suspense. Godzilla: King of the Monsters solves all of that by ramping up the giant monsters action (lots of monster battles with more than enough action to satisfy moviegoers), established a faster pace on storytelling (as a result, the movie never dragged and did not feel like a 131-minute movie at all), and noticeably reduced the news media focus as well as the suspense build-up.

In the 2014, Monarch’s purpose on monitoring the global presence of giant monsters was established and this sequel raised the stakes further pushing the organization on doing what it was established to do. Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Serizawa has noticeably less screen time due to “competition” for spotlight with the many other characters but the filmmakers managed to make the most out of him.

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I can’t help but think that the filmmakers tried to outdo what Steven Spielberg did in Jurassic Park.

Speaking of giant monsters, this movie heavily outclassed its predecessor! Apart from Godzilla are other notable kaijus from the long-running Japanese Godzilla film franchise like the 3-headed dragon King Ghidorah, the deadly Rodan and the grand looking Mothra!

It is clear that director Michael Dougherty and the team made sure that each of those iconic monsters from Japanese cinema not only got sufficient screen time but also honored them with spectacular scenes! King Ghidorah really looks terrifying and even horrific. Rodan alone made the high-speed flying sequence in the film memorable while Mothra was a giant monster that very few people would wish to destroy.

Apart from the giant monsters action, the film’s action sequences are a big improvement over its predecessor even though there were some common action cinema elements recycled (note: tough guys with guns). There the definitely are a lot more thrills now that the suspense build-up has been reduced. Godzilla: King of the Monsters was clearly made to entertain and prevent moviegoers from getting bored.

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The daughter and her mother played by Millie Bobby Brown and Vera Farmiga. Don’t let their smiles fool you because the cast in this film is the weakest element.

The movie obviously is not perfect. I never expected it to be perfect at all and as I suspected, the film’s biggest weakness is, again, its human characters. Like the 2014 film, this one has a cast of many people who were created to make moviegoers care for them as the story moves on. Clearly the filmmakers and the actors failed to deliver the goods but in fairness, the cast is more interesting compared with that of the 2014 movie.

In the 2014 Godzilla, the cast was weak, the characters were mostly not worth caring for and there were so many scenes with them. There were times back then I wished the character “development” scenes were cut to speed up the pace. In this sequel, the cast was nowhere as boring as their 2014 counterparts but their dialogue was either weak or had too much exposition (I felt like the characters explaining this and that were talking to the moviegoers).

Speaking of the script, the film failed to justify its concept of the Russell family which first appeared in a short scene (that took place during the 2014 film’s story). The family focus started decently with Vera Farmiga as Mrs. Russell (with her daughter living with her) working with a device that could help humanity gain some control over the giant monsters. As the story went on, the spotlight had to be divided by the large cast of characters and the monsters which ultimately made the Russell family less relevant. Kyle Chandler’s entry into the film as Mr. Russell did not save the family aspect of the story even though he proved to be the “instant resourceful and knowledgeable” character of them all.

While the cast had mostly one-dimensional characters, at least Charles Dance’s performance as the human villain proved to be interesting. Apart from being the leader of a team of armed personnel and having a history of being disillusioned with humanity which led him to becoming an anarchist eco-terrorist, there is still this element of mystery about him. Although he leads a group, could he be working discreetly for some sort of secret society or a group of elite people with sinister intentions for reforming the world? We won’t find out until the next movie.

Charles Dance casting in this film seems inspired. I remember how good he was in playing the villain in 1993’s Last Action Hero. His role is not very loud but still his presence in this movie is the best thing of the weak cast.

Other problems? As great as the giant monsters spectacle were, there were these camera framing problems. There were many monster action strikes that were “filmed” too close to the camera. I felt that the filmmakers tried too hard to deliver moviegoers the “in your face” action with the monsters and ultimately those efforts ended up being an annoying experience. With regards to storytelling, the plot is serviceable at best but, then again, we cannot expect a very engaging story with Godzilla so this is not a surprise. At the very least, this sequel’s plot works better than that of its predecessor. The plot here does not drag mainly because the filmmakers put heavy emphasis on spectacle and speed.

If there is an advantage the 2014 movie has over the sequel, it’s the sense of scale. The giant monsters are indeed gigantic but they moved rather fast for their size and this breaks the sense of scale for moviegoers. They looked gigantic but they don’t feel gigantic when in motion.

As for Milly Bobby Brown’s character, the scenes in which she escaped from the secret facility going into Boston and then entering the baseball stadium’s operation room without even being detected or prevented by security measures were just unbelievable. And I thought the concept of poor security in Terminator Salvation was bad. Oh yes, Bradley Whitford’s attempts on providing humor ended in failure. He was more annoying and never funny.

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One of the three heads of King Ghidorah! Up-close, they look terrifying!

Overall, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is indeed highly entertaining and anyone who loves on-screen battles between giant monsters will surely enjoy it a lot. Its cast is weak (although nowhere as weak as the 2014 film), its storytelling is flawed and there were some parts that made the 2014 look better but still the good stuff outweighed the bad stuff. As far as Hollywood-made giant monster movies go, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is indeed the best!

Oh yes! One last thing! The playing of threads from the theme music from the 1954 Godzilla movie was a very nice touch and will resonate with any moviegoer who enjoyed the Japanese Godzilla films. Clearly the MonsterVerse continues to deliver the fun and greatness!

Bring on Godzilla vs. Kong!!!


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.

Carlo Carrasco’s Comic Book Review: Detective Comics #1000

Before reviewing this landmark comic book from DC Comics, let me state that I’m not a fan of Batman. Even so, I still admire and respect Batman’s iconic status not only in superhero comic books but also on global pop culture. There is also no denying that Batman is the definitive crime fighter and detective-type superhero.

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Detective Comics #1000 is almost a hundred pages long.

Way back in 1939, DC Comics (then called National Comics) published the comic book Detective Comics #27 which marked the first-ever appearance of Batman. Batman went on to entertain multiple fans, helped DC Comics and the comic book industry in general grow and made his mark in pop culture entertainment through TV, movies and video games to say some.

This year, DC Comics published the landmark comic book Detective Comics #1000 which, for $9.99, carried almost one hundred pages of content, had variant covers and ultimately highlighted Batman and his part of the DC Comics universe.

Without spoiling the stories, Detective Comics #1000 is essentially a showcase of the Caped Crusader with the combined talents of Jim Lee (who illustrated the cover of this particular comic book), Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen, Denny O’Neil, Steve Epting and more.

There are some standalone stories about Batman in this premium comic book. Readers will get to see what happened in Gotham City, some insights into Batman’s past and his mindset, and his encounters with other DC Comics figures like Catwoman, the Joker, Bane, Poison Ivy, Penguin, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze and more. As expected, the Batman supporting characters like Robin, Commissioner Gordon, butler Alfred plus a few more characters from the DC Comics universe also are here.

What surprised me most in this collection is that one of the stories was illustrated by the legendary comic book veteran Neal Adams who long ago made his mark in Batman comic books. I personally saw Neal Adams at the 2018 edition of the Toycon here in the Philippines. It was nice to see that Adams was given a short story to work on instead of just a pin-up.

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The cover illustrated by Jim Lee and inked by Scott Williams.

Overall, Detective Comics #1000 is a great contemporary comic book and worthy of being called a landmark comic book. Numbering aside, this one has a very high production value and more importantly it is the creative stuff and showcase of comic book talents that justified its cover price.

I can say that Detective Comics #1000 is highly recommended to both Batman fans and anyone who likes superhero comics in general. It’s a must-buy!


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