A Look Back at Mantra #6 (1993)

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

Hey Ultraverse fans and superhero comic book collectors! Are you interested in another look at the Break-Thru crossover through the eyes of Mantra? For the newcomers reading this, Break-Thru was a year-ending crossover that literally gathered many of the Ultraverse characters together in an event that affected their world. The said crossover impacted other characters of the Ultraverse through specific comic books such as Prototype #5, Hardcase #7, The Strangers #7 and Solitaire #2 to name some.

Now we have here is another view of Break-Thru in this look back at Mantra #6, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Terry Dodson.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Mantra flying during the night thinking about what happened as several Ultras made their way to the moon to fight an entity there that has been mentally contacting a girl named Amber. She thought about her new career at Aladdin as Eden Blake and intends to find ways to transfer her mind into a male body somehow.

Mantra arrives home and instantly changes appearance into Eden in civilian clothes. Upon entering the home, her little daughter (note: nobody in her family is aware that Eden’s soul has been displaced with that of Lukasz’s soul) arrives to greet her back in the presence of Eden’s mother. The daughter is every excited to start making Christmas cookies.

After spending some time alone in the bedroom, Mantra realizes something on the moon and decides to leave pretending she has to go back to work. This saddens Eden’s daughter…

Quality

Mantra in the middle of somewhere.

This comic book is not the good-versus-evil type of story. Rather it is more about personal struggle and threads from the past that challenge Mantra, and it is well written. At the same time, the story serves as a build-up leading to the big events that took place in Break-Thru #2 (the conclusion of the big crossover). Getting to know the entity through the experience and view of Mantra is alone a solid reason to read this comic book. In fact, what you will learn here will help you prepare yourself to understand the Break-Thru crossover comic books and the concepts they featured.

Conclusion

Another glimpse on the life of Eden Blake and her family.

Mantra #6 (1993) is an engaging and enjoyable read. It is not only a mere build-up for Break-Thru, it also reveals more about Lukasz (who occupies the body of Eden/Mantra) and why his past haunts him which alone adds a new layer of depth to his character. There are few scenes of spectacle here and there but the strong writing by Mike W. Barr saved it from becoming a complete bore.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Mantra #6 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of this comic book costs $8.

Overall, Mantra #6 (1993) 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 Solitaire #7 (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.

Are you readers craving for another tale of crime-fighting and vigilantes set within the Ultraverse? Get ready for another bout of conflicts told through the eyes of Solitaire, one of the more unique crime-fighting superheroes to have ever existed.

As such, here is a look back at Solitaire #7, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by Jeff Johnson.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the arrival of Double Edge, a caped swordsman who strong believes that all things in life must be balanced no matter how hard it could be. As far as he is concerned, only he can help achieve balance whenever the scales are tilted. Double Edge jumps down on a man (outside of a parked car), knocked him out and grabbed the keys from him. Another man comes out of the café and spots Double Edge with the keys, which made him think the swordsman was stealing the downed man’s car. Double Edge strikes him impulsively to balance things out but ends up leaving him down on the sidewalk with a lot of blood lost. The swordsman regrets it.

Double Edge drives the car still obsessing with balancing. Suddenly another car – driven by Solitaire – gets into his way forcing the swordsman to move his car leftwards and hit another vehicle.

Immediately, Solitaire and Double Edge jumped out of their vehicles to start a fight…

Quality

17
Really nice action between Solitaire and Double Edge by Jeff Johnson.

For a pretty wordy comic book, this one still managed to entertain with lots of action and intriguing dialogue. As far as narrative is concerned, this one is about Solitaire dealing with a fellow costumed vigilante who is obsessed with balance even thought it complicates his ways of fighting criminals.

What is easily the strongest selling point as well as the most interesting aspect of this comic book is the clash between Solitaire and Double Edge not only with armed combat but also with the very different ways they look at fighting crime and helping people in times of danger. Their exchange of words is engaging thanks to the strong dialogue.

As with the previous issues, Jeff Johnson delivered good visuals complete with a smooth flow of transition.

Conclusion

2
Double Edge jumps on someone.

Solitaire #7 is indeed entertaining and intriguing. It’s not an Ultraverse story with a high-stakes concept, but it succeeds in telling a more grounded story within the said universe through the eyes of not just one but two costumed crime fighters. This comic book was released with an “Ultraverse 1st Birthday” mark on the cover and considering what happened in the first six issues, this one really felt like a turning point in the saga of Solitaire.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Solitaire #7 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4.

Overall, Solitaire #7 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 Solitaire #2

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

It’s been quite some time since I reviewed Solitaire #1. What I like about the Ultraverse crime-buster is that he was designed to be a very agile combat expert with the ability to regenerate. Apart from being a very capable fighter, Solitaire is also very skilled detective and has lots of connections (with informers). Some comic geeks compared him to Batman and Wolverine but within the Ultraverse, Solitaire is unique.

Now we can take a look back at Solitaire #2, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story by Gerard Jones and art by Jeff Johnson (inked by Barb Kaalberg). This particular comic book is connected with the Ultraverse crossover event Break-Thru.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins in Small Town, U.S.A., a place described to be happy with the air full of laughter, the chatter of children and music played by a band. Solitaire arrives and quickly an arrow was launched at him and missed. The place’s defenders are already aware of him.

The place turns out to be an amusement park filled with tourists who paid for rides, sights and fun. In the middle of it, Solitaire is on a mission. Another arrow was fired at him but thanks to his reflexes, he grabbed it, allowed himself to fall into the water. A lady with a bow and arrows arrives to check on him but Solitaire quickly got back at her, restraining her.

After he asked where the bomb is located, she points to the moon. Suddenly another arrow is fired and hits Solitaire on his left thigh…

Quality

9
Fierce opposition towards Solitaire!

Now that the establishment of Solitaire’s origin and superhero nature has been done, this comic book’s story is pretty adventurous to read. The good news is that it is a well-made adventure that not only delivered the fun but also established Solitaire’s place in the Ultraverse (thanks to the link with the Break-Thru crossover). When it comes to developing Solitaire not only as a crime fighter but as a person, I like the use of flashbacks from his past recalling his time as a much younger visitor to the amusement park complete with his mother remaining a hole in his memory.

More on the story, it is not only adventurous but also packed with action. This time, Solitaire does not fight the stereotypical thugs but rather lady defenders of the Moon Man who are so willing to do their jobs, they attack Solitaire even if it means harming the tourists. The build-up leading to the encounter with the villain was nicely paced and was a worthy pay-off.

When it comes to the art, this is one very nice-looking comic book thanks to Jeff Johnson. The illustrator knew how to pace the story visually and when to add punch to the action scenes and stunts.

Conclusion

4
Imagine yourself touring a theme park and actually witnessing a real attack towards a trespasser.

Solitaire #2 is a fun-filled Ultraverse comic book that is worth reading again and again. What it lacked in character development, it bounced back big time with action and adventure elements.

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

Overall, Solitaire #2 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 Break-Thru #1

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

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

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

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

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

Early story

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

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

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

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

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The military and Prime.

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

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

Quality

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

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Mantra with Prototype.

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The Strangers discuss what has been happening.

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

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

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

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Freex got affected.

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

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

Conclusion

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Hardcase, Choice and The Solution on the move!

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

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


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

A Look Back at Solitaire #1 of the Ultraverse

When you fight evil, you do it alone.

solitaire2
Solitaire in action in Solitaire #1 published in 1993 by Malibu Comics under their Ultraverse line of comic books.

The concept of vigilante figures taking the fight against crime alone backed with resources (in the form of weapons) is a long running tradition in superhero comic books. DC Comics has its iconic Batman doing lots of detective work and fighting criminals many times on his own. Similar stories were seen with the Punisher and Daredevil over at Marvel.

When Malibu Comics launched the Ultraverse line of superhero comics in 1993, they added variety into the big mix. They had their own parallel to Marvel’s Punisher and DC’s Batman in the form of Solitaire and they boldly launched a comic book series of the character.

Released in late 1993 with story by Gerard Jones and art by Jeff Johnson and Barb Kaalberg, Solitaire #1 introduced readers to Nicholas Lone who wears a purple-and-blue costume with mask and fights criminals as Solitaire. He’s not just a brave, tough guy who daringly goes against thugs. He’s is very talented with martial arts, acrobatics and weapon use.

The comic book begins when thugs working for a crime lord called the King are about to catch a helpless lady who gets saved by Solitaire. The hero easily outmaneuvers the bad guys and he proved to them that he really is hard to hurt.

At his headquarters, the King made it clear to readers that Solitaire has been a problem to him for some time already and feels bad when the hero disrupts his operation. Solitaire meanwhile prepares himself for the next move against the King by returning to his hideout (an old theater), doing some research by computer and coordinating with his contacts on the streets.

Regarding the quality of the comic book, I say the script is nicely paced as it does a good job introducing Solitaire to readers while still having spare spotlight for the King. Within twenty-five pages, the hero got clearly defined as a man of action as well as a person with a purpose. His fight against crime is defined by key parts of his past especially with the fact that his own father – Antone Lone – is a crime lord.

When it comes to super powers, Solitaire has very quick reflexes which makes him a hard target for armed thugs. He also has healing factor which works rapidly and gives him a major advantage over the bad guys. In fact, the presence of the healing factor (which works like that of Wolverine) makes Solitaire more daring and more willing to take risks engaging the bad guys with violence. He can get stabbed and his body can be shot with several bullets and still he will recover quickly to get the job done.

Solitaire is indeed super and yet there is something intriguing with his personality. Apart from being the son of a crime lord, Nicholas Lone’s acquisition of his powers is a painful mark on him personally. This was because his father gave him those powers as a result of his attempt to commit suicide. The powers are the result of the installation of nano-machines into his body.

solitaire1

Overall, Solitaire #1 is a good and intriguing read. It really comes with a flavor that makes it distinct from other superhero-versus-criminals stories and the introduction of Solitaire alone is worth the cover the price. If you can find copies of Solitaire #1 on the back issue shelves of the comic book stores, I recommend buying it as well as the other issues.

It’s too bad that the Ultraverse ended after Marvel Comics acquired Malibu Comics back in the 1990s because like Prime, Hardcase and Prototype, Solitaire is very unique and intriguing at the same time. In my opinion, Solitaire is the most defining crime fighter of the entire Ultraverse and it’s too bad stories featuring him are not too many.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to your fellow comic book geeks and Ultraverse fans. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format for you to order.

Author’s Note: This article was originally published at my old Geeks and Villagers blog. What you read on this website was an updated and expanded version. In other words, this newest version you just read is the most definitive version