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.

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Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Shazam!

I’ll just say it out loud – I had a lot of fun watching Shazam! at the local cinema today. I’m not even a fan of the character Shazam/Captain Marvel (as he was called prior to Marvel’s legal takeover of the name) and still I enjoyed watching the movie. I rarely watch comedies in the cinema but I still had a lot of fun with Shazam!

Whatever challenges the filmmakers led by director David F. Sandberg faced, they succeeded in making their movie fun, action-packed and more importantly telling a story with a lot of heart with the main characters. It also proved crucial that Warner Bros. marketing team did not spoil the pleasant surprise the movie had all along and that surprise alone is already worth the price of admission.

Shazam! introduces moviegoers to Billy Batson who has moved away from multiple homes as he searches for his mother whom he got separated from as a child. At the new family he moved into, he meets Freddy Freeman who lives with a disability. Things change when Billy meets an aging wizard named Shazam and gains his power. By simply saying the wizard’s name, lightning strikes Billy to become the muscular, adult caped superhero. Along the way an obsessed Dr. Sivana rises with a lust for power which only means trouble for the Billy Batson/Shazam and his friends.

Why is storytelling a success in this movie? Answer – it was done with a lot of heart and director Sandberg succeeded in getting very strong performances from the cast. You will really sympathize with Asher Angel as Billy Batson who lives with a missing link in his personal life and often finds himself lonely. This is a movie about a teenager who does not aspire to become a superhero at all but rather find his mother anyway he could. The superhero aspect of the film is an extension (but a very significant one) of that core concept.

In terms of storytelling tone, Shazam! looks so much like a comedy based on the way it was marketed but rest assured the movie is not a dominant comedy at all. In fact it has a lot of dramatic scenes and even some horror elements spread around. Darkness? There is some of that by means of horror elements. Grit? Very little of it too. Cynicism? Non-existent. Clearly the DC Cinematic Universe under the leadership of Warner Bros. executive Walter Hamada continues to move away from the darkness, the grit and cynicism of Zack Snyder’s influence and for me that is a good thing.

In terms of performances, this film has a lot of good acts. While Asher Angel excelled as Billy Batson, Zachary Levi truly brought Shazam/Captain Marvel to life on the big screen. Not only does he really look like the superhero (as if he was ripped straight from the comic books), Levi was successful in playing his character with the act and mindset of a teenage boy. Jack Dylan Grazer was pretty engaging as Freddy Freeman (who is the in-movie geek and superhero culture researcher) and so was Mark Strong as Dr. Sivana. The other cast members like Grace Fulton, Ian Chen and Faithe Herman were good players as well. To sum it up, the quality of performances from the cast is varied and at the same time of good quality and nice artistry. From drama to humor, these cast members really pulled it off.

Shazam! was made to tell a compelling story that can be taken seriously while at the same time it delivered the humor and spectacle to satisfy moviegoers who want their superhero cinema experience to be enjoyable. When it comes to weaknesses, I say that the first twenty minutes was kinda slow. While the film is indeed very wholesome, the horrific imagery of the monsters can scare little kids and compel their parents to cover their eyes.

As a superhero comedy, it definitely is a more fun to watch than any of the Deadpool movies. As a superhero spectacle, Shazam! is quite comparable not only with DC Cinematic Universe movies but also with other humor-laced superhero movies from Marvel Studios. As a DC Cinematic Universe movie, Shazam! is 3rd best to Wonder Woman.

Given its high amount of fun, engaging storytelling, good comedy and solid performances, Shazam! is highly recommended! I urge you to watch it as soon as you can and for the best visual experience, I recommended watching it on an IMAX screen if you can afford it. Shazam! is a lot of fun and you will love it! Very clearly the DC Cinematic Universe continues to improve and its future under Warner Bros. and Walter Hamada looks very bright!

For your enjoyment, posted below are some videos related to Shazam.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article to be 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Why I’m Looking Forward To Shazam In Cinemas Even Though I’m No Fan Of The Superhero

Let me start by confirming that although I am a geek and I read lots of comic books – especially superhero stories of Marvel Comics, DC Comics and other publishers – I never was a fan of Shazam (formerly called Captain Marvel before Marvel Comics took the trademark legally) nor was I fond of the Marvel Family (Captain Marvel, Jr., Mary Marvel and others) he was identified with.

But even so, I still will watch in the cinemas Shazam!, the next DC Comics Cinematic Universe movie from Warner Bros. starring Zachary Levi, Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer. It is directed by David F. Sandberg and it will be released worldwide on the first week of April.

For your reference, watch the latest trailer below.

 

Shazam/Captain Marvel has a very long history in superhero comics. While the superhero belongs to DC Comics, he (and the related characters) started in comics published by Fawcett Publications in the early 1940s. He debuted in Whiz Comics #2. Believe it or not, in terms of comic book sales Shazam/Captain Marvel was the most popular superhero of the 1940s and not even Superman could match him. DC Comics sued Fawcett on the grounds of copyright infringement and in part this contributed to the publisher’s decision to cease publishing any comics of Shazam/Captain Marvel by the year 1953. This was only the start of the long road before Shazam and the related characters became part of DC Comics.

When it comes to the DC Cinematic Universe, movie productions are now being done under the careful watch of Walter Hamada and already major improvements have happened such as Aquaman making over $1 billion in ticket sales globally. Shazam! is a film clearly made under Hamada’s leadership and based on the previews, it seems like director David F. Sandberg and his creative team have done a good job and somehow they managed to get good performances from their actors.

As to why I look forward to watching the movie even though I’m no fan of the character, here are my reasons:

1. Seeing Shazam’s literary concept translated into cinematic form – For those who are not familiar with Shazam/Captain Marvel, the superhero’s concept goes like this. There’s a homeless teenager named Billy Batson who was chosen by a very old wizard to continue a fight against evil. Being the chosen one, Billy Batson becomes the muscular, caped superhero Shazam/Captain Marvel by simply saying “Shazam” (which attracts a quick bolt of lightning to him enabling the transformation). In my view, this classic concept deserves a cinematic adaptation. Although the movie trailers showed bits of it, I feel there is more than meets the eye. The transformation from teenager to caped superhero is one thing, his character development is another. This brings me to my next point.

2. Watching the actors bring the characters to life – It seems that the right actors were hired to bring the characters – notably Shazam, Billy Batson and Freddy Freeman – to life. Having read comic books of Shazam/Captain Marvel and watched several episodes of the Shazam cartoon series on TV decades, I still remember how the traits of the characters and from what I’ve seen in the trailers and previews, things are looking good. Based on available information, Zachary Levi reminds me a lot about the caped superhero walking with a human adult body but is living with uncertainty for he really is a teenager (Billy Batson) behind it all. Levi looks good too with humor. Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy is a very avid geek which I can related with. Asher Angel as Billy Batson so far looks good in handling the character. Definitely I want to see more of their performances.

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Freddy Freeman and Shazam/Captain Marvel. 

3. I’m interested in superhero comedy from Warner Bros –  Since the release of 2017’s Wonder Woman, the DC Cinematic Universe turned a corner and gradually moved away from the cloud of darkness, grit and cynicism that started with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Wonder Woman was not only a more optimistic superhero movie, it also had a good amount of humor successfully pulled off by the supporting cast. Shazam! meanwhile is clearly a superhero comedy and it could become the most cheerful (if not the most humorous) DC Comics movie yet without being too cheesy or too childish. Director Sandberg and the actors seem to have established a lot of synergy to carefully mix action, fun and humor. I’m hoping that what was shown in the previews is just a taste of more good and fun stuff to come. While I rarely watch comedies, I’m interested in more humor in DC Comics movies. Besides, the adulterated and exagerrated humor I saw in the Deadpool movies is just not entertaining.

4. The state of the DC Cinematic Universe under Hamada’s watch – As it is already confirmed by Warner Bros. that standalone DC Comics superhero movies will be the norm for now, Shazam! is an opportunity to show where the current cinematic universe is right now with regards to connections with other DC superheroes. Already there were references to Batman, Superman and even the Justice League (as seen in the merchandise shot in the latest trailer). I’m not expecting to see much connectivity with the other DC superheroes at all but some signs as to where the cinematic universe is going would be good enough for me. Aquaman had a small reference to the events of the Justice League movie. This is, after all, the cinematic story of Shazam/Captain Marvel. The forcing and rushing of a shared cinematic universe previously done by Zack Snyder is in the past. We must remember that we are now watching the DC Cinematic Universe under the leadership of Walter Hamada.

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Justice League references.

Those are my reasons as to why I will watch Shazam! in cinemas once it opens. I’m no fan of Shazam/Captain Marvel but the superhero deserves his cinematic adaptation and so far the movie looks very promising. I feel it also has the potential to attract lots of fans as well as moviegoers who are not even familiar with the character. We will find out soon enough if Shazam! will be a hit or not.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article to be 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.