George Perez (1954-2022)

George Perez, the incredible comic book artist who made major contributions to illustrated literature (especially the superhero comic book genre), sadly passed away due to complications related to pancreatic cancer. He was 67-years-old and I can say that superhero comic book art and dynamic expressions will not be the same without him.

George Perez with the two Wonder Woman plastic models. (photo source – DC Comics Facebook page)

Already there were comic book industry figures who reacted to the death of the legendary Perez. DC Comics co-publisher and legendary creator Jim Lee paid tribute stating, “We creators may all have access to the same tools of the trade: pen, paper and imagination, but what George could do with his prodigious talents was off the charts.”

For his part, Rob Liefeld stated, “I’ll remember George for his innovative and prolific storytelling. Thank you for all the great memories. Rest In Peace, George Perez.”

For the newcomers reading this as well as those who are simply unaware of Perez’s legacy, he was responsible for visualizing DC Comics’ 1985 epic maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths (note: he drew countless characters complete with varied settings or environments in high detail) and redefining Wonder Woman (note: he also wrote the stories) which made her a more essential pop culture icon. George Perez also worked for Marvel Comics over many projects and was chosen to illustrate the memorable 2003 JLA/Avengers crossover series of Marvel and DC. Perez also worked with other publishers such as Malibu Comics for several Ultraverse comic books and Image Comics for Crimson Plague and Witchblade. In recent years, he was responsible for Sirens published by BOOM! Studios.

For me, Wonder Woman was best defined during the post-Crisis era of DC Comics which involved George Perez and Len Wein who wrote the early issues of the Wonder Woman monthly series in the late 1980s.

In his decades-long career in comics, Perez unsurprisingly earned varied awards and honors (references here, here, here and here to name a few).

I should say that George Perez is a long-time favorite comic book illustrator of mine. I enjoyed reading the superhero comic books he illustrated and I love his art style on the characters, the environments and crowds. If there is anything I love about Perez’s art, it is his distinct style along with his implementation of high levels of details on the characters, objects, creatures and surroundings. Perez is also known to capture the distinct visual elements of superhero characters such as Spider-Man’s costume and his spaghetti-like web, Superman’s physique and distinct letter S, Prime’s overly muscular body and more. Every time Perez is involved as artist, the result is almost always a visual feast that often adds punch to the script prepared.

When I was still actively collecting comic books back in the 1990s, I often get excited whenever I learned that George Perez illustrated upcoming comic books. In 1992, he drew Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect (2 books) which was mind-blowing and intriguing for me! In 1993, I became a fan of the newly launched Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and I got very excited to learn that Perez was hired for their major UV crossover Break-Thru (2 issues). Perez also drew one issue of Prime and most of the early issues of the UV team UltraForce (issues #0, #1, #3, #4, #5 and #6). If you want to see Perez draw ALL the characters of the Ultraverse, you should read the 2-issue Break-Thru storyline.

A page from Break-Thru #2 showing just some of the many Ultraverse characters Perez illustrated. This was published before the release of UltraForce.

Speaking of UltraForce, check out this video by Crypto Comics (with observations on Perez’s art works)…

Going back to George Perez’s amazing run on Wonder Woman, I urge you to watch the video below…

For me, the most defining stories of Wonder Woman ever told in any art form are still the comics that Perez wrote (note: he co-wrote stories with Len Wein on the early issues) and illustrated during the post-Crisis era of DC Comics. Check out my retro reviews of Wonder Woman 1980s comics on this website.

Truly, George Perez will be missed by a lot of people and his countless pieces of works will be revisited in the foreseeable future. In closing this piece, posted below are varied works (comic book covers and interior art) done by the late creator through the decades for your viewing pleasure and learning. This is a tribute to Perez and may he rest in peace!

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Note: All images shown are properties of their respective companies.

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 with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at Sachs & Violens #1 (1993)

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

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

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

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

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

The cover.

Early story

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

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

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

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

Quality

J.J. Sachs at the police station.

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

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

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

Conclusion

Sachs’ introduction.

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

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

Overall, Sachs & Violens #1 (1993) is not recommended.

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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 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.

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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 Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk

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 love reading a crossover comic book that was made by very talented creators to be a whole lot of fun from start to finish. Back in the early 1980s, rivals Marvel Comics and DC Comics collaborated temporarily with inter-company crossover comic books that were made to be entertaining to fans of their respective properties.

What I’m going to review here is the 3rd superhero crossover comic book between Marvel and DC titled Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk.

Cover
The cover.

Background

Before I start, let me clarify that this particular comic book was specifically published as issue number 27 of the DC Special Series which was a series of one-shot comic books. By comparison, the 1981 crossover comic book Superman and Spider-Man (which I reviewed previously) was published under the Marvel Treasury Edition line of Marvel Comics as issue number 28.

Going back to Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk, the comic book was the final issue of the DC Special Series line and it carried a cover price of $2.50 which was quite high for its time.

The people at DC Comics made sure that the crossover was handled by the best talents they had back then. The late Len Wein (best know for creating Wolverine) was assigned to write the script (and ensure that elements from both the Hulk and Batman would mix nicely) while José Luis García-López was hired to illustrate. Dick Giordano was the embellisher and editor while Allen Milgrom and then Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter were the consulting editors. In return for their assistance, Marv Wolfman and Mike DeCarlo were acknowledged with thanks.

Now we can begin with this retro review of Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk.

The early story

The story begins when a few persons in Gotham City witness their dreams turning real beyond logic. A man dreamed he was in the arctic hunting and wakes up to discover his room was filled with snow. In a cinema where a horror movie was shown, a couple kissing each other discover, to their shock, that monsters of different sizes surrounded them out of thin air.

At the waterfront of the city, the Joker (accompanied by his gang members) talks to an unseen being (Shaper of Worlds). He gives his assurance to the being that he and his gang will acquire a specific item (needed by the being). For the Joker, what was discussed was a simple business arrangement.

A short time later inside a high-tech facility of Wayne Research, Bruce Banner (the Hulk) secretly works under the false identity as David Banks. He works along with the scientists but not on the scientific projects. Rather, he works odd tasks such as lifting hardware and putting them into places that need them. Of course, Banner did not get hired for a salary but for something much essential to him and his condition with Gamma Rays.

“I had to get a job here somehow so I could get close to the experimental Gamma-gun they’re working on,” he thought to himself.

Suddenly the facility gets filled with laughing gas incapacitating all the people inside. Banner fortunately manages to wear a radiation suit for protection. Moments later, the Joker and his gang enter searching for the Gamma-gun. From this point on, Banner decides to act.

Quality

When it comes to the selection of characters from Marvel and DC, having the mismatch of Batman and the Hulk was a very splendid idea. Not only was having the large green brute and the world’s greatest detective together as temporary rivals a fascinating concept, having them work together as a duo turned out to be a really great move. When it comes to the selected villains of the Joker and the Shaper of Worlds as the anti-hero figures of the story, the two looked like an odd pair but if you focus on the details of the story, you will realize that it made a lot of sense having them two together. The Shaper needs something which requires him to depend on the Joker who in turn brings his gang with him to cause chaos to acquire what the alien needs

All of the above details would not have worked had it not been for the excellent writing by Len Wein. Clearly Wein knew a whole lot about the defining elements of the Hulk and Batman (and the same with the Joker and Shaper), and he carefully blended those elements together to make a story that is thrilling, intriguing, engaging and at the same time still made sense. More on crossing over, there are other characters connected to Batman and the Hulk that made appearances and a few of them fit in nicely into the story.

As this was released in 1981, it was typical of the time for writers to use thought balloons to help readers understand what the characters were thinking. The use of thought balloons in this comic book truly defined Batman who not only had to fight the bad guys but also manage his way with the Hulk and do a lot of detective work.

Going back to the Hulk and Batman, this comic book has a lot of fun stuff. More than once did the two superheroes engage in action-packed encounters and their exchange of words was very nicely done. Their match-up (or mismatch) really works.

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A perfectly crafted action scene between the Hulk and Batman, complete with accurate depictions of each character! 

When it comes to the common complaint by some readers out there that the comic book was more of a Batman story and made the Hulk less prominent, I should say that the slight imbalance is not a problem at all. In fact, for me it makes perfect sense that Batman has more spotlight than the Hulk. Why? Because Batman is a detective and he performed a lot of researching, information gathering and other moves to solve problems. His detective work in the story made perfect sense for the narrative. As for the Hulk, his character really has very limited options other than causing destruction and disturbing the public. Since early on, the Hulk was best known for attracting the attention of the American military (led by General Ross) and huge destruction defined the encounters. For this crossover, the creators did not show the Hulk engaging with the military (save for the phonies) but rather he struggled to figure things out whenever he encountered Batman or the Joker. There is no way the Hulk could do detective work like Batman and having him fight the military would have weakened this comic book’s presentation. Clearly, having the story slightly slanted towards Batman is still the right move.

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Very highly imaginative and dynamic artwork by José Luis García-López.

The artwork done by José Luis García-López is excellent! He really captured the looks and details of each and every character Marvel and DC that appeared in this comic book. Back in the early 1980s, I got to read several comic books that showed Batman, the Hulk, the Joker and others and the way they appeared in this comic book was indeed accurate of the time. José Luis García-López also knew how to balance spectacle with character development and expository dialogue in terms of visual pacing and framing shots. Also his work becomes even more imaginative during the final conflict. Undoubtedly this is still a great looking comic book!

Conclusion

Overall, Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk is a great comic book and easily it is one of the greatest intercompany superhero crossover comic books ever published! From start to finish, this comic book proved to be highly engaging and there never was a single boring moment. The creators led by Len Wein (he is sorely missed) made the best possible story anyone can make involving Batman and the Hulk.

You can read a hard copy of this comic book by getting Volume 1 of Crossover Classics or, if you can afford to, hunt for a copy of this in its DC Special Series form which now sells for $280 for a very fine copy to as much as $400 for a near mint copy as of this writing according to MileHighComics.com

In ending this, I declare that Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk 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