A Look Back at 2099 Unlimited #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.

During the first half of 1993, Marvel Comics had published four monthly series of their 2099 franchise of comic books: Spider-Man 2099, Ravage 2099, Doom 2099 and Punisher 2099. X-Men 2099 debuted in the 2nd half of 1993 but months before that happened, Marvel went ahead with expanding their 2099 franchise by launching what was back then a new, quarterly comic book series simply titled 2099 Unlimited.

That being said, the mentioned quarterly series was officially launched with 2099 Unlimited #1 which, as its cover showed, featured Spider-Man 2099 as well as Hulk 2099. The comic book came with a high price of $3.95 on its cover and it had 64 pages of content (including ads and bulletins). I myself bought a copy of it as soon as it appeared on the shelves of the local comic book store here in the Philippines.

Was the debut comic book fun? Is it good by today’s standards? We can all find out in this look back at 2099 Unlimited #1, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with stories written by Evan Skolnick and Gerard Jones, and drawn by Chris Wozniak and Dwayne Turner.

The cover.

Early stories

“Nothing ever changes!” – the story begins at New York City’s Koop Memorial Hospital where an investigation is happening. A married couple arrives and noticed the unusual activity happening there. As they arrive at another floor to visit their son Michael, they noticed the hallway is full of dead bodies. They panic and start running to find their son. Suddenly a muscular man appears and kills the husband, stating his action is justified by his belief about the natural order of things and his effort to ensure humanity’s survival. The killer escapes.

Weeks later, Spider-Man/Miguel O’Hara returns home from fighting crime just in time to rush and prepare himself for his date with Anna. During their date, Anna talks about her sister who has a rare genetic deformity. She intends to visit her sister at the hospital, and Miguel asked if she wants him to come along…

“Hulk 2099” – the story begins in the Mojave Desert with the Hulk traveling alone in the middle of the night. He has been traveling for over three hundred miles alone hunting something. The Hulk arrives at the private residence of a lady who spots him and alerts the armed personnel of Sweat Dreams Security Services. Soon enough, Sweet Dreams personnel arrive and its tank charges at the green monster…

Quality

Imagine Hulk 2099 trespassing on your property.

The first story featuring Spider-Man 2099 has a pretty interesting concept that was nicely executed and proved to be surprisingly satisfying. The creative team introduced the new villain Mutagen and they succeeded in building his personality (including his obsession with perfecting human genetics and altering the so-called gene pool) which resulted a justified conflict with Spider-Man. The character development, focused mainly on Mutagen, was well done and by the end of the story, he became a pretty interesting villain.

As for Spider-Man, his character development was pretty limited to his interactions with Anna laced with little references to his career with Alchemax, and there were no references to his personal life and the people who mattered most to him. Clearly, the first story was more about Mutagen than Spider-Man, and it has a very satisfying conflict between the two. I also enjoyed the way the creative team presented Mutagen being able to adapt to his environment and the attacks Spider-Man threw at him. While the story is strong, I should say that Chris Wozniak’s art is uneven. His drawings on Mutagen were pretty details but the same cannot be said about his art on Spider-Man.

The second story, featuring Hulk of 2099, is the actual gem in this comic book. Not only was it the first-ever appearance of the character, it unsurprisingly took inspiration from the origin of the classic Hulk (Bruce Banner) and made some twists with themes of the business of entertainment and the human desire of idolatry (always unholy). The new Hulk here is an entertainment executive named John Eisenhart who has been researching the Knights of Banner, a group of people who worship the classic Hulk. What he does in the real world and with people, he strives to make something out of them to boost his career and stand out in the business of amusement. Eisenhart sees Banner’s idolaters having the makings of a new cult of Thor complete with living in isolation

Eisenhart is not the typical good-natured protagonist. Quite the opposite in fact as he is obsessed with success and is a walking tool of Hollywood who exploits people and insists that being civilized is essential and that strength is knowing where the power is. That being said, this story has a lot of build-up on Hulk 2099 while still having sufficient space to tell his origin that arguably links him with the legacy of Banner Hulk. For the most part, the bouts of build-up resulted worthy pay-offs that readers can enjoy.

More on Hulk 2099 himself, this version of the classic character is more monstrous and freakish looking. While Hulk 2099 maintains the intelligence of Eisenhart, he still is deadly and unpredictable. Supporting characters like Gawain and Quirk both lacked scenes and dialogue but that is not surprising since the focus of the comic book is on Hulk 2099. For the art, Dwayne Turner’s work here is satisfying.

Conclusion

Spider-Man 2099 and Mutagen in battle!

When I first read this way back in 1993, I felt underwhelmed. By today’s standards, 2099 Unlimited #1 (1993) surprisingly aged well and it is actually deeper, more meaningful and engaging than I previously thought. Apart from Hulk 2099’s debut, the introduction of Mutagen was pretty engaging and he had a lot of potential to be a major 2099 universe villain. Too bad that Mutagen was not used to be a nemesis against Ravage 2099 or Punisher 2099 or even X-Men 2099. Hulk 2099 meanwhile went on to have a dedicated monthly series which came at a time when the 2099 imprint and the comic book industry in general went way down. This comic book, in my opinion, is more cerebral than it looks and that is thanks to the writers.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of 2099 Unlimited #1 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $15 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $32.

Overall, 2099 Unlimited #1 (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 Spider-Man 2099 #2 (1992)

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

I can hardly believe that it has been a year since Marvel Comics organized the return of their 2099 universe with the release of several comic books. Among those, I bought 2099 Alpha #1 it was a very disappointing read. I also read some other 2099 comic books released late 2019, and none of those engaged me nor gave me much entertainment value in return for what I paid for.

If you ask me, the Marvel 2099 universe of comics was at its best during the early 1990s. That being said, join me on this look back at Spider-Man 2099 #2, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Peter David and drawn by Rick Leonardi.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins at one of the Alchemax towers. Miguel O’Hara is standing naked in front of a shocked Aaron Delgato, a corporate rival of his who tried to kill him. As he noticed Miguel (with fangs) looking at him, he reacts by firing his gun. With fast reflexes, Miguel (whose DNA has been altered already at this point) dodges all of the shots and tries to get close to his rival. One of the bullets hit a tank which causes a large explosion at the tower. The tremendous force pushed them both to the exterior.

Miguel grabs Aaron’s arm not realizing that his talons are hurting his rival. The skin of Aaron’s arm got ripped off causing him to fall to his death below. Miguel gets dressed as armed personnel arrive. As shots were fired, Miguel falls off the edge…

Quality

The costume!

This is a very well-written story by Peter David. While the first issue established Miguel O’Hara’s personality and corporate standing, this one established his becoming Spider-Man 2099 by means of mutation. Not only does he have talons (which retract automatically when he touches his own skin) and sharp teeth, he also gains heightened vision, enhance leaping ability, and most notably his costume (backed with a reasonable explanation it exists). The scenes of corporate intrigue and the introduction of the cyber cowboy named Venture easily added a detective story element into the plot which was quite gripping. No doubt about it, I found the story in this comic book more satisfying than the first issue.

Conclusion

Spider-Man 2099’s talons save him from falling further.

Spider-Man 2099 #2 (1992) is a great read and this is the one comic book that fully establishes the title character as we know him.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man 2099 #2 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $15 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $45.

Overall, Spider-Man 2099 #2 (1992) 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 Ravage 2099 #3 (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.

Welcome back, Marvel 2099 fans and superhero comic book geeks! Are you ready for another trip into the high-tech future of Marvel’s comic book universe through the storytelling of the late Stan Lee? This is about the 3rd issue of the Ravage 2099 monthly series.

For the newcomers reading this, Ravage is an original character co-created by Stan Lee and artist Paul Ryan for the 2099 universe of Marvel Comics. By comparison, 2099 started in the 1990s with its own versions of Spider-Man, Dr. Doom and the Punisher. As such, Ravage stood out simply because he was different from them and that includes being idiotic and chaotic as a lead character.

Having already reviewed the first two issues (read my recent review), it became clear to me that Ravage started to deteriorate as a person even as he strived hard in doing what he thought was right. There are two established villains in the story and so far, Ravage does not look any different from them since he proved to be so chaotic, he became a danger not only to the thugs but also to law enforcers. As such, he is a danger to the public.

To find out if anything will improve creatively and artistically, here is a look back at Ravage 2099 #3, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Stan Lee and drawn by Paul Ryan.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins moments after Alchemax forces abducted Tiana from Ravage and Dack who find themselves busy with armed enemies on the street. The young Dack got hit by a gun blast. Somehow, Dack was brought to the nearest medical facility for treatment and placed in a medi-cell for questioning.

Already alone in the room, Dack is trapped and a bearded man delivering some candy arrives. It turns out it is Ravage in disguise and he wanted to make sure the youth was fine. Dack tells reveals that he was question for hours. Ravage updates Dack that Tiana was probably half-way to Hellrock, and he intends to get her back.

Meanwhile, armed personnel spot Ravage on surveillance video and rush to get him…

Quality

Most likely the portrayal of Tiana being helpless will turn off radical feminists and SJWs reading this.

To put things straight, this particular story has a retro vibe which reminds me of certain sci-fi and adventure comic books of the 1950s to the 1970s. This is not surprising given Stan Lee’s own style of plotting and writing. Like in issue #2, creative baggage was less of a hindrance and this allowed Lee and Paul Ryan to craft another action-hero tale that is straightforward and easier to follow. Unlike the previous issue, this one has stakes raised near the end of the story which is refreshing and it also involves a nice change of location. Compared to how he acted in issue #2, Ravage here begins to act more heroic and showed willingness to sacrifice something to help someone. He still is a chaotic person to be with, only this time he is in the company of a different kind of walking characters. To say the least, this story is an improvement over its predecessor.

Conclusion

Ravage in action inside Dak’s medi-cell.

I can say that Ravage 2099 #3 (1993) is surprisingly a satisfying read. It definitely is not great but the traditional elements of sci-fi, action adventure storytelling lifted its quality. It should be noted that the act of heroism on the part of Ravage begins here and the predicted rivalry between him and the villain Dethstryk (who looks generic as the leader of a band of baddies) finally starts.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Ravage 2099 #3 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $24.

Overall, Ravage 2099 #3 (1993) is satisfactory. That being said, I don’t recommend spending any more than $1 for it.

+++++

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 Ravage 2099 #2 (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.

Over a year ago, I reviewed Ravage 2099 #1 (1992) which marked the return of the late Stan Lee on writing stories for a monthly series. Unlike the main heroes of the 2099 universe of the time, Ravage was created by Stan Lee and illustrator Paul Ryan as an original character although he ended up being generic. In my review of the 1st issue of the Ravage 2099 series, I declared that the comic book itself was worth buying way below its original cover price.

Of course, it is understood that, apart from Stan Lee’s outdated style of writing, the debut issue is difficult to make because a lot of explaining (via expository dialogue most of the time) the concept had to be done which causes an imbalance between storytelling, character development and spectacle. That being said, it is time to find out if the Stan Lee-Paul Ryan creative team managed to improve their work together in this look back at Ravage 2099 #2 published in 1993 by Marvel Comics.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the dreaded place called Hellrock. A deformed being named Stormer tries to convince his fellow mutroids to make him their new leader as he believes that current leader Deathstryk is weak and afraid. Soon enough, Dethstryk personally arrives surprising everyone, including Stormer.

After hearing Dethstryk make statements about his temper tantrum and slaying of a fellow mutroid, Stormer attacks him suddenly. In front of many mutroids, Dethstryk easily overpowers Stormer as he lectures him about leadership and strategy. After being offered mercy, Stormer then submits to Dethstryke who in turn declares that their goal is to make the extinction of the human race happen.

Deep in the middle of the metropolis, Ravage drives a very old, fossil fuel truck and rams a law enforcement car with it causing two officers to react and draw their guns. Ravage leaps into action and beats the two officers in brutal fashion. Afterwards, he goes on to raid the car of its equipment…

Quality

Ravage only acts human with his friends.

I’ll start with the storytelling here. With the fact that there is much less creative baggage remaining since the exposition has been done in the first issue, this comic book’s pacing and overall structure showed some improvements. Not only will you see more of Ravage doing action and really starting out as a vigilante, you will also discover more of the core concept through the exposition focused more on the side of Dethstryk as the villain’s seeress informs him that Ravage is destined to be his nemesis.

What bogs this comic book down is the style of writing by Stan Lee which clearly lacks engagement and the presentation here has a lot in common with comic book storytelling of the 1960s and 1970s. That being said, the corporate intrigue Lee tried to sow here also suffered and the other villain Anderthorpe Henton just looks and acts cartoony.

If there is anything notable that Stan Lee did with writing, it’s the consistency he showed on presenting Ravage as being more antagonistic than a heroic lead figure. If you look closely at what he did to the law enforcers, the armed city security personnel and the punks who encountered him, you will realize that Ravage is actually a menace to society and his humanity is deteriorating. He only acts human when he is with his sexualized former assistant Tiana and Dack.

With regards to the visuals, Paul Ryan’s work here is decent. His style is not that great but I like the effort he exerted on presenting future technology and clearly he took some inspiration from other sci-fi works to give this comic book a distinctive look.

Conclusion

Anyone who despises law enforcers will most likely find this enjoyable. The spirit of rebellion really stinks!

Ravage 2099 #2 (1993), to say it bluntly, is a marginal improvement over its predecessor mainly due to the reduced amount of creative baggage. Exposition in this particular comic book is much lesser in terms of content and it is done efficiently which paved the way for more spectacle to happen. The problems here is that, apart from Stan Lee’s weak writing, there was no real effort to develop the lead character Ravage. I suppose this was intentionally done by the creators to let Ravage be more of an action figure and let the action do the talking about what defines him as a person. Even if that was the case, nothing changes the fact that Ravage here is not heroic and is in fact more antagonistic towards society. Is it any wonder why Ravage ended up as Stan Lee’s failure?

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Ravage 2099 #2 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $26.

Overall, Ravage 2099 #2 (1993) is not recommended. If you really want to buy this comic book at all, better not pay more than fifty cents for it.

+++++

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 X-Men #25 (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.

As an X-Men fan, 1993 was a memorable year for me during my time of collecting comic books and enjoying what was believed to be the modernization of superhero comics in America. Gimmick covers of comic books, the post-event effects of the Death of Superman, the launch of the Ultraverse and then there was the 30th anniversary celebration of the X-Men which was wild.

To put things in perspective, Marvel Comics organized the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Spider-Man releasing lots of merchandise and, most notably, special issues of comic books that came with covers with holograms, more pages for content and a cover price that was more than double than what was normal (note: read my review of one of them). Such comic books were hot stuff for not only Spider-Man fans but also comic collectors who were often hunting for the next great collector’s item that would ensure them great wealth.

Marvel had the same business approach with the 30th anniversary of the X-Men, and there were multiple X-Men-related monthly series of comic book back then. X-Factor #92, X-Force #25, Uncanny X-Men #304, Wolverine #75 and Excalibur #71 all were released with covers with hologram cards on the front, more pages of content and inflated cover prices.

The one 30th anniversary celebration comic book of the X-Men that was most memorable to me was X-Men #25 (Volume 2) and to this day, its plot remains very memorable for its shock value. I bought my copy of this comic book at a store in BF Homes. With the history lesson over, he is my retro review of X-Men #25, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Fabian Nicieza and drawn by Andy Kubert.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the United Nations Security Council’s approval to initiate the alpha and beta parameters of the Magneto Protocols which literally sent waves from the White House to the Kremlin. A short time later, several satellites orbiting the Earth activate and linked with each other to form a protective mesh of electro-magnetic fire. This provokes Magneto (accompanied by Acolytes and Exodus at Avalon) to react by generating a massive pulse wave that affects the entire world. Even the Fantastic Four and Excalibur were not spared.

At the School of Gifted Children, Charles Xavier organizes an urgent meeting with the X-Men. Together they discussed the impact of Magneto’s pulse wave which not only rendered world’s mechanical and technological resources useless but also caused trouble (plane crashes, medical equipment failure, etc.) and deaths. For Xavier, the mere fact their team survived (aided by Shi’ar technology) is a mistake on the part of Magneto considering his capability to wipe out life around the world.

In response to Wolverine’s question, Xavier stated, “We do not have the luxury of time, nor the occasion for nobility…at this point, we are not fighting for the philosophy of a cause, a hope, or a dream, we are fighting for our very survival and if we do not win this fight, this planet will be irrevocably lost to us!”

Quality

The X-Men during their daring mission.

I can clearly declare that when it comes to the combined works done by Fabian Nicieza and Andy Kubert with the X-Men, this particularly story was not only the most ambitious collaboration of theirs but also their most compelling and finest work at the time of publishing. Very strong writing (top-notch characterization, plotting and pacing) and great art really defined this comic book!

Characterization is spot-on! Wolverine is arrogant and gritty as usual, Gambit is still the smooth-talker, Cyclops is the focused leader serving under Xavier, etc.

Without spoiling the major details, I can say that the shocking moments executed were greatly done not for the mere intention of shocking but to break new ground with regards to the characters of Wolverine and Charles Xavier. The first time I read this comic book back in 1993, I was really stunned with those particular scenes and I started to question Wolverine’s durability as well as Xavier’s sanity. And then there was the state of Magneto at the end of the story. The thing about the shocking moments was that there was an adequate amount of build-up leading to them and the pay-off was excellently done.

Conclusion

The immense power of Magneto.

There is no doubt in my mind that X-Men #25 (1993) is the true gem of the entire X-Men 30th anniversary celebration. The creative team led by Nicieza and Kubert really outdid themselves and what happened in this comic book had consequences that lasted for a good number of years. The creative team took big risks and pulled them off nicely as the impact of the story was eventually felt in the years that followed. Lastly, unlike Uncanny X-Men #304 (supposed to be the highlight of X-Men’s 30th anniversary celebration), this comic book is more focused and really had no creative baggage nor filler that got in the way of the storytelling.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #25 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $50 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition is priced at $150. The near-mint copies of the signed-and-numbered edition and the gold edition cost $210 and $368 respectively.

Overall, X-Men #25 (1993) is highly recommended!

+++++

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

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1 (1992)

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 he became the co-publisher of DC Comics, the great Jim Lee made his debut in the comic book industry as an illustrator for Marvel Comics. Just a few short years after that, he became a fan-favorite of X-Men fans and was a major factor in the massive sales success of 1991’s X-Men #1 (Volume 2). Not only did that particular comic book established a long-lasting sales record for all comic books, Lee’s designs and visual concepts for the X-Men were adapted by the producers and creators of the fan-favorite X-Men: The Animated Series (1992-1997).

For the newcomers reading this, Jim Lee’s tenure with Marvel Comics ended in December 1991 when he, Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane met with the publisher and expressed that Marvel’s policies toward them were unfair and they were not rewarded well for their work. To put things in perspective, Jim Lee’s X-Men #1, Rob Liefeld’s X-Force #1 and Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man #1 were respectively million-sellers. As such, Lee, Liefeld, McFarlane plus some more creators left Marvel and went on to establish Image Comics (which involved a production and distribution deal with Malibu Comics).

In 1992, Jim Lee’s dream project – with concepts first created in 1986 – came through free from the constraints he endured from Marvel’s editorial team and strict policies. That’s dream project was WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1, which is the feature of this retro comic book review.

But before we start the review, here’s a quick look back at the conceptual history of WildC.A.T.s as written by Jim Lee himself.

“I created my first ‘professional’ comic book submission in the summer of 1986 entitled The Wild Boys involving an espionage agency called International Operations. The co-writer of that sublime piece of work was coincidentally enough – Brandon Choi – who at the time was still in college getting a double major in history and politics,” Lee wrote in the comic book’s intro.

Now that we’re done with the history, here is a look back at WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1, published in 1992 through Image Comics with a story co-written by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi. Lee illustrated the comic book with ink work done by Scott Williams.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in Antarctica in 1986. There, two men braved the cold weather searching for something with information they learned from IO (International Operations). Suddenly an orb rises from the snow and then an image of a lady wearing silver tights and wielding energy appears in front of them. After demanding them to let her have the orb, she and the energy field fade away.

In 1992, at the crisis control facility of IO in Virginia, IO’s executives carefully view video footage of Georgetown which was hit by an explosion. They suspect rogue C.A.T.s (covert action teams) could have been involved. Suddenly, the same energy field from six years earlier forms in their presence with the same lady appearing for a few moments. The energy field fades away.

In the present day, a dwarf named Jacob Marlowe wakes up in the middle of garbage in an alley. After getting hurt by two troublemakers, the same silver lady from the past appears and uses her energetic power to save Jacob. She introduces her to him as Void, claiming he came for him and she knows he was once a lord named Emp. She tells him the Cabal is a threat to humans on Earth…

Quality

Clearly Jim Lee took inspiration from John Woo’s action movies.

When it comes to the presentation of the story, the comic book starts in a deliberately cryptic way. It’s like having very short prologues back to back and, fortunately, it works well to capture attention while building up slowly its concept. The story really begins when Jacob Marlowe arrives at his headquarters with Void as his enduring advisor and executor. The introductions of each of the team’s members – Spartan, Warblade, Maul, Grifter, Zealot and Voodoo – were decently done and never felt rushed as Jim Lee and Brandon Choi carefully paced the storytelling and really tried to balance exposition and spectacle. That being said, similar results happened with regards to the comic book’s spotlight on the Cabal and its evil leader.

With regards to the presentation of the classic conflict between good and evil, Lee and Choi came up with the concept of planet Earth being slowly infiltrated by Daemonites (who originated in outer space) with the Cabal serving like an anchor with an organized set-up for domination. Over at the WildC.A.T.s, Marlowe formed a team to fight and stop the Cabal since the lives of the people of Earth are at stake. This is a really nice concept serving as the foundation, and the irony is that, in this comic book specifically, IO was on the sideline.

When it comes to the visuals, Jim Lee must have enjoyed the liberty he had in illustrating this comic book…free from the editorial interference from Marvel and free too from the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority (CCA). The result here is a visual presentation showing more Lee’s creativity and a style different somewhat from his final works on X-Men. He clearly took more inspiration from action movies and the violence is somewhat more mature to look at. It should be noted that Scott Williams helped Lee’s art shine.

Conclusion

These two pages remind me somewhat of the X-Men, their jet and the Danger Room.

By today’s standards, WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1 is surprisingly still a good superhero team comic book to read. It’s not a literary classic but it proved to be compelling and fun enough to read from start to finish. It has a decent amount of action here and there which is understandable since Choi and Lee had to build up the concepts and the plot. If there were any weak spots, this comic book is almost devoid of character development and the clear lack of a lead character (which is still needed even for a superhero team comic book).

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $5 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition is priced at $16. The near-mint copy of the 3D edition costs $9 while the near-mint copy of the gold cover edition is priced at $42.

Overall, WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1 (1992) 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

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch

Things are looking really good for Microsoft’s Team Xbox as far as launching their next-generation machines Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X is concerned. The two upcoming consoles will launch officially on November 10, 2020 in America and some other parts of the world. Xbox Series S in America is priced at $299 and while the premium Xbox Series X (which has a 4K Blu-ray disc drive) is priced at $499.

At this stage, the last thing any company wants to go through is a pre-launch blunder or controversy that would discourage consumers from buying the new products. While the final lineup of launch games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X has yet to be declared, there are notable developments that are already delighting Xbox fans and casual gamers. No, it’s not about the megaton Xbox – Bethesda deal that gamers are still talking about. Something else, really.

Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X.

Firstly, there is really good news that the promised backward compatibility feature on Xbox Series X is not only working but also enhanced the games tested. Screen Rant wrote: Games that are locked at 30 frames per second on Xbox One are able to easily hold a locked 60 frames per second on the Xbox Series X, even with upgrades in resolution. They also added: The ability of the Xbox Series X to play older games may end up being a bigger deal now than Microsoft expected. The game industry has been hit with lots of delays this year, mostly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning both next-gen consoles will have lighter than expected launch lineups.

Den of Geek meanwhile reported that Rise of the Tomb Raider, Sekiro, Hitman 2 and even the 12-year-old Grand Theft Auto IV all ran better on Xbox Series X than they ever did in their respective original consoles of release. More on GTA4 (first released on Xbox 360), Den of Geek wrote: Even some older titles are “rescued” by the power of the Xbox Series X. The report highlights Grand Theft Auto 4 as a game that not only infamously struggled on the Xbox 360 (where it was borderline unplayable at times) but even burdened the mighty Xbox One X. On Xbox Series X, though, Rockstar’s sometimes controversial classic hits that fabled 60 FPS benchmark and even does so while offering enhanced visuals and improved load times.

Take note that Den of Geek and Screen Rant took references from Digital Foundry’s video that highlighted their testing of backward compatibility on Xbox Series X which you can watch right below…

Secondly, the load times related to the backward compatibility all showed clear improvements on Xbox Series X. Remember how long it took your Xbox One console to load up Red Dead Redemption 2? Remember what you did during all the times your Xbox 360 or Xbox One console struggled to load up the game? Those times are history!

According to The Verge, massive changes to the load times were the most significant improvements. They wrote: Games like Sea of Thieves, Warframe, and Destiny 2 have their load times cut by up to a minute or more on the Series X. In Destiny 2, for example, I can now load into a planet in the game in around 30 seconds, compared to over a minute later on an Xbox One X and nearly two minutes in total on a standard Xbox One. These improved load times are identical to my custom-built PC that includes a fast NVMe SSD, and they genuinely transform how you play the game — you can get more quests and tasks done instead of sitting and looking at a planet loading.

Warframe and Sea of Thieves are equally impressive with their load times now. I can now open Warframe and the game is ready to play just 25 seconds later. That same load takes literally a minute longer on my Xbox One X. Sea of Thieves now loads to menu screens in around 20 seconds, with another 28 seconds to load into a session. On my Xbox One X, it takes a minute and 21 seconds to even load the game initially, and then another minute and 12 seconds to get into a game session.

None of these games have been fully optimized for the Xbox Series X either. This is simply Microsoft’s backward compatibility support in action.

Thirdly, there is also the issue of game performance. To be specific, it’s about frame rates and consistency related to Destiny 2, Warframe and Sea of Thieves. The Verge wrote: Destiny 2 is a great example of a game that was held back by the weaker CPU and slow HDD in the Xbox One X. It’s a title that hit native 4K previously, but the 6 teraflops of GPU performance in the One X was bottlenecked by a laptop-like CPU and an old spinning hard disk. This meant the game was stuck on 30fps.

While Bungie has committed to enhancing Destiny 2 for the Xbox Series X and PS5 with 60fps support, it already feels faster without the patch. I would regularly notice frame rate drops in Destiny 2 on the Xbox One X when things got a little hectic on screen during a public event or in a raid with mobs of enemies coming at you. I haven’t seen a single stutter running Destiny 2 on the Xbox Series X.

This console has also improved other parts of Destiny 2 that were slow on the Xbox One. Loading into the character menu sometimes takes a few seconds on the Xbox One X, but on the Series X it feels like I’m playing on my PC as it’s near instant.

On the other two games, they wrote: I’ve noticed similar improvements across Warframe and Sea of Thieves, where games just seem to automatically benefit from the CPU, SSD, and GPU improvements to run more smoothly.

When it comes to multiplayer performance and compatibility, The Verge wrote: The other benefit to the Xbox Series X and this next generation is that games aren’t separated out like they were in the shift from Xbox 360 to Xbox One. Back then, you could only match Xbox One players in a lot of games, leaving out friends who still played on the Xbox 360. In every multiplayer game I’ve tested on Series X, I was able to join friends who were using an Xbox One and match against other Xbox One players.

See? Things are really looking good in the run up to November 10 launch of Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. Backward compatibility ensures that your huge collection of games played (as recorded in your Xbox LIVE account) in previous generations’ Xbox consoles will NOT go to waste and, at the same time, the said feature is a great way of preserving video games from the past. I personally am happy about this not simply because I am nostalgic but because there are some great games from the past that need playing such as Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360), Halo 3 (Xbox 360), Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Xbox 360), Fallout New Vegas (Xbox 360) and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (original Xbox).

In addition, the tests showed that previous generation games are not only playable on the next-generation Xbox but they also perform better, load much faster and will have varying visual enhancements. And then there is also cross-play for multiplayer. Just imagine how that would impact online multiplayer as we know it.

In ending this, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your learning and excitement for the next-generation! Be confident, fellow Xbox fans! This coming new generation of console gaming will be much more fun than the current one! Team Xbox truly cares about us gamers, much more so than Sony’s PlayStation team!

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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 more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

A Look Back at Spider-Man #26 (1992)

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.

In 1992, Marvel Comics organized a big celebration of what was back then the 30th anniversary celebration of Spider-Man. Behind the scenes, the Spider-Man editorial team organized their creators to make something special worthy of the anniversary. Back then there were four monthly series of Spider-Man – Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man and Spider-Man – and in keeping with the 30th anniversary bonanza, each of the monthly series would see one special issue with a hologram on the cover.

What I read recently was one of those 30th anniversary celebration special comic books – Spider-Man #26. This comic book had a green cover and a hologram of Spider-Man upside-down. Its cover price is $3.50.

Was this old comic book’s content really worth the high cover price and the hologram? Did the creative team at Marvel do their job on making something special in line with the 30th anniversary celebration? We can find out in this look back at Spider-Man #26, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with the main story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Mark Bagley and Ron Frenz.

The cover with a hologram.

Early story

The story begins on the street of New York when a man wearing a device runs down the sidewalk distracting and unintentionally pushing a few people out of the way. He is glowing as he moves. Someone from behind him calls him Stewart.

Soon enough, Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane cross paths with him. Peter immediately leaves Mary Jane behind and starts pursuing the glowing Stewart. In the middle of the street, Stewart sees a speeding motorcycle heading towards him. He dives for cover which incidentally shapes his glowing field into a makeshift ramp causing the motorcyclist go over him. Spider-Man sees the flying motorcycle and its driver, and struggles to decide which one to save…

Quality

From the 2nd story.

Let me start with the main story. It sure is heavily worded almost all throughout but that is understandable because Tom DeFalco really pushed hard to emphasize the theme of responsibility as Spider-Man struggles to tackle criminals while trying to find quality time for his wife. There was even a scene in which Peter Parker recalls key events from his past (his becoming Spider-Man, letting a certain criminal get away, the death of his Uncle Ben, etc.) which, in terms of presentation, was a clear attempt by the creative team to bring readers back to the recorded history of Marvel’s icon. The main story is a genuine, heart-filled attempt to go beyond showing Spider-Man beating the bad guys to do local society good. There was also effort exerted to show that there are a few guys who do bad things not because they are inherently evil but rather they are desperate and/or misguided. The problem with the main story is that the other characters – Stewart, Bill, the gang leader Maxwell and others – are not so interesting at all. Of course, we cannot expect to see Spider-Man go head-to-head with another one of his major villains but this story was part of the 30th anniversary celebration.

The 2nd story, if you can all it that, is pretty much an exposition-filled exercise designed to give readers – both new and old – a review of Spider-Man’s powers and capabilities. To prevent it from becoming a total bore, some characters from the Marvel Comics universe were visually added.

When it comes to the quality of the artwork, Ron Frenz’s work here is serviceable at best. Mark Bagley’s art here improves the quality but that’s not saying much.

Conclusion

From the main story.

As a 30th anniversary celebration issue, Spider-Man #26 does not have much when it comes to being truly special. You love spectacle? You won’t find much in it. You wanted to see something groundbreaking in terms of character development? There’s none. Gripping storytelling? None! There was also no conflict with any prominent villain from the Marvel universe here. What you will get here is nostalgic stuff plus exposition about key elements that define Spider-Man. Truly the only thing special here is the hologram on the gimmick cover.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man #26 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $27 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90.

Overall, Spider-Man #26 (1992) is serviceable. If you really want to buy this old comic book, I recommend waiting for its price to fall below $5 and I’m referring to the near-mint copy.

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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

Comic Quest announces closure!

Comic Quest, a notable retailer of comic books and geek stuff (including premium products like action figures) here in the Philippines, announced yesterday that it will be closing its 35-year-old business due to the tremendous economic difficulties related to, unsurprisingly, the ongoing pandemic and also the disrupted state of the international distribution of comic books. Before the end comes, however, a Farewell Sale at their SM Megamall branch in Mandaluyong City has launched and will last until sometime in October. The said sale will have all items discounted at least 50%.

In my experience of the past decade, as a resident of Alabang, Muntinlupa, I often bought new comic books (especially Wonder Woman) at the Festival Mall Alabang branch of Comic Quest. It was also at the same store located a short walk away from the cinemas where I also ordered and received hardback editions of EC Comics Archives. Comic Quest Alabang was a favorite weekend destination of mine for many years. Even before I became a collector of comic books (specifically superhero comics), I first heard about Comic Quest way back in 1990 in the classroom where I had a few classmates who bought comic books from them. Back in the 1990s, Comic Quest had a branch in Makati and it was there where I bought Web of Spider-Man #100 in 1993.

As time passed by, my personal interest in comic books waned and I actually stopped buying comic books (both new and old) shortly before the lockdown here in the Philippines was implemented. The pandemic and related lockdown brought entire economies down worldwide and the Philippines was not spared. It is also depressing to learn that many people lost their jobs as well as their income. No disposable income, no more demand for entertainment products like comic books, theatrical showing of movies, shows and the like. The priority now of people living during the pandemic goes to the essentials.

Yesterday, hours after Comic Quest’s closure announcement, I took the opportunity to visit and see their Festival Mall branch in Alabang. It is gone!

The commercial space in the middle used to be occupied by Comic Quest inside Festival Mall. This picture was taken hours after the closure announcement.

Comic Quest’s decision to close down is understandable and acceptable. They did the best they could to survive and prevent their employees from becoming unemployed until the pandemic-related depression overwhelmed them (as well as the many other businesses of different types and sizes).

Just a few years ago, another comic book specialty retailer had to close down their Alabang Town Center branch. It’s clear that comic books as a business continues to fail especially now that people are often online and find their kind of stuff through digital services/retailers.

In closing this, posted below for your reference is the complete closure announcement of Comic Quest. The retailer will be missed!

This is a special announcement for all our valued customers. We hope you ‘re doing well and staying safe during this difficult time.

We just want to let you know that because of the combined pressure of the pandemic, as well as the disruption of the global distribution of comic books, we’ve had to make the difficult decision to begin the process of closing down Comic Quest. It is and has been an extremely challenging time for us, and we feel that this is our best option moving forward.

It has been a long and amazing road, from our earliest days in our first branch at BF Homes in Alabang, to Greenhills to Makati to multiple branches as far away as SM Cebu. But now the time has come to say goodbye, and let all of you know how much we appreciate being given the chance to be part of the comic book industry.

We want to thank each and every one of you for being one of our valuable loyal customers and a very important member of the Comic Quest family. We wouldn’t have reached 35 wonderful years in business without loyal customers like you. Our sincerest and most heartfelt thanks for being with us through all these years.

In line with our decision, we’re holding a special FAREWELL SALE from September 16th and into October, at our SM Megamall branch. During this time we will be selling ALL items from at least 50% off and up.

Please help us spread the word and share this message with other friends and collectors whom you think might be interested.

While our time in this wonderful industry comes to an end, we’re wishing you many more years of happy collecting! And in the words of the great Stan Lee- Excelsior!

Best wishes,

Comic Quest

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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 X-Men 2099 #35 (1996)

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.

This is it! The thirty-fifth and final issue of the X-Men 2099 monthly series from Marvel Comics is at hand. How times have changed in the American comic book industry back in the 1990s. When X-Men 2099 #1 was released in 1993, there was still good demand and room for expanding the 2099 imprint beyond the pioneering characters Spider-Man 2099, Punisher 2099, Ravage 2099 and Doom 2099. By the time the X-Men 2099 series came to an end, Marvel Comics was in turmoil internally and several 2099 series talents behind the scenes left as a result of the termination of 2099 line editor Joey Cavalieri.

With the short history lesson done, we can now take a look back at X-Men 2099 #35, published in 1996 by Marvel Comics with a story written by John Francis Moore (who wrote ALL the series’ issues) and drawn by Jan Duursema.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins with some members of the X-Men facing off with Darkson (his name is Joaquim, the accelerated grown-up son of Metalhead and Rosa) and his evil mentor Vulcan. Following Vulcann’s command, Darkson lets go of Luna (who was carried earlier by him) who lands on the ground in a weakened state and was approached by Krystallin. In reaction, Krystallin launches some crystals to Vulcann and Darkson but got blocked by a protective aura.

The X-Men realize that Darkson is as potentially dangerous as Zhao. Darkson then strikes at Bloodhawk with a psionic blast and then attacks the other X-Men…

Quality

7
Two X-Men veterans and one X-Nation member in a scene.

In terms of storytelling, John Francis Moore did what he could with all the plot details and with what was built up during the previous issues leading to this issue’s final conflict. The problem, however, is that the pay-off was ultimately unsatisfactory.

Firstly, having Vulcann and Darkson parallel God and Jesus (complete with doing something about the destiny of people who need saving, which in this comic book referred to the futuristic mutants) in a twisted fashion was just hollow and never engaging. Secondly, the way the X-Men members got together was very rushed in execution. Thirdly and more importantly, the final conflict was pretty shallow and only led to a sequel-bait ending designed to lead into 2099: World of Tomorrow #1.

If you are looking for superhero spectacle, you will find some here but they all feel rushed and unsatisfying. If you care about key X-Men 2099 characters like Skullfire and Xi’an, the way they developed and appeared here will disappoint you. In fairness, Shakti remains the strong-willed mutant as before.

To say the least, there was an effort to emphasize what was at stake for the mutants of 2099 living in Halo City and there was also the idea that the world was coming to an end. The problem here was the execution as the comic book basically showed the X-Men in the presence of Vulcann and Darkson. There was no epic battle here at all and the climax at the end clearly showed rush and even a lack of creativity (note: most likely due to the internal turmoil at Marvel at the time).

Conclusion

2
Vulcan and Darkson (carrying the X-Men’s Luna).

I should say that X-Men 2099 #35 is indeed a disappointing conclusion not only to its series but also in the final conflict the X-Men had with Vulcann and Darkson. The pay-off was very unsatisfying and it did not help that this comic book served as just another build-up leading to another Marvel 2099 publication. By the time the conflict ended, I did not care much about the X-Men which, for the most part, became irrelevant. This is too bad because in issue #1 they were very interesting and (after some stories of misadventures showing the X-Men members separated) they became interesting again with the events in issue #25.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men 2099 #35 (1996), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $17 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $51.

Overall, X-Men 2099 #35 (1996) is unsatisfying. I don’t recommend spending a lot of money for it. Better save your money.


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