A Look Back at UltraForce #0 (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.

Hey everyone! I bet you heard the sad news about the layoffs over at DC Comics which is the result of a corporate restructuring on the part of AT&T. With the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, restructuring in the private sector is inevitable with the intention of keeping business surviving. Already I noticed some people are divided over the DC Comics layoffs – some people condemned the corporate hierarchy for laying off DC’s employees while some believe it is necessary to keep long-time comic book publisher alive. As for the socialist and Communist-minded critics, I wonder if they prefer the State Government of California (led by a tyrant governor) to fully take over DC Comics just to prevent layoffs and still be able to provide financial assistance (including taxpayers’ money) to illegal immigrants.

Wow. Just about any news development can get politicized. Regardless, the Political Left clearly support criminals, embrace corruption, move to destroy capitalism and move to betray their fellow citizens. Anyway, enough with the current events. If you want some escapism from the harshness of reality, then join me on my look back at UltraForce #0, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story by Gerard Jones and illustrated by the legendary George Perez.

Great cover by George Perez.

Early story

The story begins at a cemetery where Ghoul rises from the grave and disturbs a man and a woman who planned to have a good time together that evening. The next morning on the streets of Hollywood, police officers struggle to separate the people who condemned ultras apart from those who believe in the ultras. Ghoul, now wearing a trench coat, is in the middle of the crowd and it turns out he is looking for his friends…the Exiles. Suddenly, Hardcase comes in and easily catches the attention of the aggressive news media who asked questions such as:

“As the most visible ultra, do you feel ultras should be feared or worshipped?”

“What about the accountability of corporate-sponsored ultras like Prototype?”

“How do we contain an out-of-control vigilante like Prime?”

Given his experience as a celebrity, Hardcase carefully explains that even though most ultras try to do the right thing, they are not accountable for each other. Elsewhere, young Kevin Green watches the live feed of Hardcase on TV. In response to what he saw and heard about having ultras held accountable, Kevin becomes fascinated with the idea of a team of ultras who are united and cannot be beaten by the government.

Suddenly Kevin’s chest begins to hurt and moves out of the house leaving his mother. After hiding himself behind the bush, he transforms into Prime and flies away to show the world what ultras can do when he leads them…

Quality

Premier rivals Prime and Prototype meet again!

I’ll cut to the chase. While UltraForce #1 showed how very notable superheroes of the Ultraverse banded together, this story cleverly explained what happened just a short time prior to that story. The very good news here is that the script written by Jones is very detailed and told a really cohesive story of its which was greatly brought to life visually by George Perez (which should not be a surprise at all). In fact, UltraForce #0 (which had some of its content previewed in the pages of Wizard Magazine) and #1 form one single narrative which was made with really high quality writing and visuals. It also showcases amazing production values by the creative teams at Malibu Comics.

For the newcomers reading this, this comic book sheds light on the impact ultras have on society and why people get divided when it comes to living knowing that someone much more powerful than them could suddenly impact their way of life. To put it short, this comic book’s social concept will keep you thinking and speculating. More on the writing, like the 1st issue, the storytelling here is certainly unpredictable (but still manages to tell a cohesive tale) and will keep you guessing what would happen next. Definitely this is not typical superhero story about someone saving the day and restoring the peace. Finally, I do confirm that this comic book is very loaded with spectacle and the pace of the story moves quite fast. By the end of this comic book, you will not only anticipate the following events (in issue #1) but also get to know Prime and the others better and be entertained a lot.

Contrary and Pixx inside their secret ship.

Conclusion

Hardcase comes in as Ghoul struggles with all the attention.

I’ll say it out loud – UltraForce #0 is a great comic book (as great as issue #1) and it truly is one of the best Ultraverse comic books as well as one of the finest works done by Malibu Comics! As a superhero team concept, UltraForce is clearly the most symbolic team of the Ultraverse not just because it has major players like Prime, Hardcase and Prototype together but also with the way they were defined literally and visually. For more on the concept of UltraForce, check out the words of then Ultraverse editor Chris Ulm.

“UltraForce is the unluckiest group in the Ultraverse. Each one has their own conception of the what mission of UltraForce is. Each fancies themselves the leader. But somehow, they are able to forge a new kind of team that is greater than the sum of its parts,” wrote Ulm in the comic book.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of UltraForce #0 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4.

Overall, UltraForce #0 (1994) is highly recommended!

+++++

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A Look Back at Hardcase #12 (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.

At long last, the twelfth issue of the Hardcase monthly series (note: the series lasted a total of 26 issues) of the Ultraverse is finally here. Since the opening page of issue #1, Hardcase has been very engaging, enjoyable and intriguing to read complete with very deep character development as written by the late James Hudnall. In comparison with superhero comics in general, Hardcase itself is pretty unique (a superhero team member who ends up the only walking survivor who gets into Hollywood before returning to doing superhero acts) even by today’s standards.

As the series went on, Hardcase got involved with Choice initially solving mysteries and finding answers. It was only recently they got involved romantically, which hurt Hardcase’s other girl Linda (the other survivor from The Squad). Along the way, Hardcase and Choice got involved with The Strangers and The Solution in memorable crossovers.

Now the stage is set! We will find out if the first full year of the Hardcase series will be completed with impact or not with this look back at Hardcase #12, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by James Hudnall and drawn by Scott Benefiel.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins in the night in the desolate land, just a few miles away from the secret base of Aladdin. Hardcase and Choice were together resting when suddenly Headknocker and Hardwire arrive to attack them. As Hardcase and Headknocker start their rematch (note: they first fought in issue #1), Hardwire goes after Choice.

Even though he knows Hardknocker is tough, the Hollywood superhero makes his move to take on Hardwire and help Choice.

Meanwhile over at Groom Lake Control Center, two men in suits look at the images and details of Hardknocker and Hardwire on oversized screens. As they analyze the situation happening outside their facility, they argue over the possible release and use of the other undesirable ultras they captured…

Quality

10
Choice and Hardwire meet again.

There is no doubt that this is a very high-quality comic book with a very strong script that mixes spectacle with character development, secret society intrigue, mystery and some drama. The storytelling itself was successful thanks to Hudnall.

The story started strongly with action scenes with some build-up of suspense and mystery emphasized when the narrative switches to another scene at a different location. While there is a notable twist in the comic book, it is the ending that really shook things up so much, it made me go back to issue #1 and other references to The Squad. This is great writing done by James Hudnall and he knew how to shake the foundation of the series.

When it comes to the art, Scott Benefiel work here is great and the best one yet within the first year of the series. I love the way he draws facial expressions that really show emotions or intensity and he knows how the pace the flow of events (and still manage to draw dynamic action shots).

Conclusion

4
Headknocker and Hardcase.

Hardcase #12 is a great read and it certainly is not the typical good-versus-evil type of superhero story. As the conclusion of the first year of the Hardcase series of the 1990s, this one really defined the title character’s place in the Ultraverse as Hudnall shook the foundation of the series in a very memorable way. The ending of the comic book is truly powerful and it should be seen. It is easily one of the most notable endings of any Ultraverse comic book.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Hardcase #12 (1994), 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 $11.

Overall, Hardcase #12 (1994) 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 Prototype #6 (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.

Wrapping up the details after the end of a major crossover is undoubtedly challenging for any comic book creator. Doing such aftermath work includes settling the interaction between characters from different comic book series, explaining the details behind what happened, how the event itself affected the rest of the comic book universe and more. The crossover I’m referring to her specifically is Break-Thru, the memorable year-ender story of the Ultraverse.

This time, we will see the post-Break-Thru side through the armored hero of the Ultraverse in this look back at Prototype #6, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story co-written by Len Strazewski and Tom Mason, and drawn by Roger Robinson.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins just hours after the ultras of Earth fought the epic battle on the moon. Prototype and Prime fly their way back to Earth, with the latter serving as a makeshift shield from the heat of re-entry. By this time, the two ultras just concluded their meeting with the Strangers back on the moon, and it was there the idea of trailing Prime was discussed. For Prototype, doing this was crazy especially since it was only days since he fought Prime back on Earth.

Along the way, Prototype (pilot by Jimmy Ruiz specifically) intends to talk with Stanley Leland whom he believes set him up and almost got him killed with the mission to the moon…

Quality

4
After Prototype and Prime parted ways with the Strangers…

This comic book’s story is compelling. Not only does it wrap up the details of Break-Thru through the viewpoint of Prototype, it excelled with telling the story of Bob Campbell (the original Prototype pilot). As the build-up for Bob has been established in the previous issues, his story here resulted a nice pay-off and most notably, it raises the stakes when it comes to the narrative of the Prototype series (which consistently told parallel stories of Jimmy and Bob). I also enjoyed the introduction of a new villainess as well as the continued portrayal of corporate intrigue (this alone is one of the best features of the Ultraverse narrative).

The visuals done by Roger Robinson are pretty good and they really brought the script to life. Robinson also scored well with making the action scenes look dynamic without going over the top.

Conclusion

2
The money shot!

Prototype #6 is a great read! Not only does it wrap up the Break-Thru crossover through Prototype, it also has solid storytelling turning points not only with Bob Campbell but also Jimmy Ruiz. There were no boring scenes and I love the way the script emphasized the culture of corporate America within the Ultraverse and how it affects ultras.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prototype #6 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4.

Overall, Prototype #6 (1994) 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 The Strangers #7 (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.

In a previous review, Prototype #5 served mainly as a build-up leading to the crossover between the armored superhero and The Strangers. While that comic book had a cover that looked suggestive, Prototype and the group did not appear together until the final page.

The payoff for the crossover happens to be in The Strangers #7.

Will the crossover be worth it? Find in this look back at The Strangers #7, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart (shared plot credit with Tom Mason and Len Strazewski) and drawn by Rick Hoberg. This comic book is part of the Break-Thru crossover.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

Picking up where Prototype #5 ended, the story begins inside the space station wherein The Strangers encounter large, ugly monsters just as Prototype and his two companions – Empire 7 from Vietnam and Supra from the Baltic States – arrive. Equipped with high technology, Prototype proceeds to help the Strangers surprising them as a result.

After some struggle, Prototype, the Strangers plus Empire 7 and Supra start talking about what has been going on. As far as the Strangers are concerned, they need to know why they got their powers which explains why the needed J.D. Hunt’s rocket to reach space. Supra explains that she, Empire 7 and Prototype were sent to reclaim Hunt’s rocket.

After Prototype insists on reclaiming the rocket, Grenade strikes him which leads to Yrial to using her magic on him. The armored hero reacts by bodily attacking Yrial and damaging the wall behind her leading to outer space…

Quality

22
A nice scene between Prototype and two of the Strangers.

As this comic book was wonderfully written, I do confirm that the payoff for the build-up leading to the crossover between Prototype and The Strangers was undeniably worth it! There is a lot of richness in the script and I really enjoyed the interactions between the Strangers and the armored ultra.

I should state that the plot was structured to have the heroes together for initial interaction, have a few of them separated temporarily, bring them back together for unity and separate them into small groups as they search for answers.

In between, there is a lot of character interaction and development. These are the elements that defined this comic book and by the time I reached the end, I managed to grasp how the connection (as well as the level of trust) between Prototype and the Strangers turned out. Along the way, there were a few sub-plots and even some exposition on the in-universe history of ultras (emphasized by Empire 7). There were also some action scenes to balance things out with the characterization.

With no surprise, the art by Rick Hoberg here is great. I should state that his art on Prototype made the character look recognizable. More importantly, Hoberg drew the characters, the monsters and the environments with a good amount of detail. This is hard work that nicely paid off!

Conclusion

2
The first interaction between Prototype and the Strangers.

I really enjoyed The Strangers #7 and it definitely paid off nicely after the build-up to the crossover established in Prototype #5. If I were to make comparisons, the crossover here is just as good as the Hardcase-Strangers crossover. I should also state there is a good amount of fun here.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #7 (1993), 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 is priced at $8.

Overall, The Strangers #7 (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 Prototype #5 (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.

Previously, I took a look back at the two-part Ultraverse crossover story between Hardcase and the Strangers. It was, indeed, an enjoyable reading experience as a whole to see Hardcase and Choice have an adventure together with the Ultras who previously gained powers while riding a cable car in San Francisco that got hit by energy from the sky. The way the crossover was done resulted an entertaining story and even added to the continued development of some of the characters involved.

This time we examine another crossover of heroes within the Ultraverse by taking a look back at Prototype #5, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Tom Mason and Len Strazewski (with Steve Englehart on the plot) and drawn by Roger Robinson.

Cover
Now this is a smashing cover!

Early story

The story begins at North California facility where the Strangers – Atom Bob, Grenade, Electrocute, Zip Zap, Yrial, Spectral and Lady Killer – break in and bring down several uniformed personnel. Their purpose is to get into the rocket and make their way to the moon.

Quite conveniently, the Strangers wore space suits, get into the rocket (the JDH-3000) and launch successfully. This upsets the rich and powerful JD Hunt who rejects the idea of destroying the rocket. The next morning at the office, Hunt is very mad over the fact that his rocket has fallen into the hands of ultras. Knowing where exactly the JDH-3000 is heading, he tells one of his staffers to get him Gordon Bell as he plans to send someone up there to bring it back…

Quality

15
Visual build-up of the crossover between Prototype and the Strangers.

To put things in perspective, Prototype #5 is a well-written part of the big Break-Thru crossover of the Ultraverse that happened in late 1993. On its own, it forms the first part of the crossover between Prototype and The Strangers, and it sure is loaded with a lot of build-up (of key elements within the Ultraverse) and exposition.

In terms of writing, this comic book moved at a medium pace with strong emphasis on build-up. What I really found intriguing here is the politics of the fictional corporate world within the Ultraverse. There were these very powerful corporate executives communicating with each other, and there was JD Hunt who intensely joined a meeting blaming Gorden Bell for costing him billions of Dollars. The corporate politics here are actually connected with Prototype and the Strangers.

As this is a build-up comic book, you won’t get to see Prototype (Jimmy Ruiz the pilot to be precise) physically together with the Strangers until very, very late in the story. In fact, there is a lot development and a few character introductions to go through before Prototype (with two foreign companions developed by his corporate handlers) leaves for space.

Conclusion

10
The corporate forces behind the Ultraverse.

Being heavy on exposition and light on spectacle, Prototype #5 is a decent Ultraverse comic book to read. If you were expecting to see Prototype together with the Strangers for the majority of the comic book (note: the cover art is quite suggestive), you will get disappointed. However, this comic book builds up mainly on other elements of the Ultraverse, specifically the corporate forces behind the scenes. By the time you finish reading Prototype #5, you will gain a better view of what causes events to happen and how they affect the ultras. The ending of the story, I should say, is compelling enough to make you anticipate what would happen next in The Strangers #7.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Prototype #5 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4. The near-mint copy of the newsstand edition meanwhile costs $13.

Overall, Prototype #5 (1993) is satisfactory.


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 The Strangers #3

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.

Right from the start, I got hooked with The Strangers and kept on anticipating the next stories. When it comes to superhero comic books, I am fond of superhero teams like the X-Men, the Teen Titans, Freex, Justice League and WildC.A.T.s

One of the things I enjoyed most from The Strangers #1, which was one of the launch titles of the Ultraverse, was the characterization. Each member of the Strangers was efficiently introduced and his/her uniqueness (apart from having a special ability) caught my attention. And then there was the plot structure that kept me reading for more.

When it comes to the very good quality of storytelling and characterization in The Strangers #1, it should not be much of a surprise since the author Steve Englehart worked on Marvel’s The Avengers, The Defenders and the West Coast Avengers. Englehart also wrote Justice League of America for DC Comics.

With that short history lesson done, we can now take a look back at The Strangers #3, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and illustrated by Rick Hoberg.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Stangers already in battle with a group called TNTNT composed of Tyrannosaur, Naiad, Torso, Neu-Ronnie and Tugun. The heroic ultras find themselves struggling with their opponents. Just as Tyrannosaur punches one of the Strangers, he states: We want our victims to know us! The work we do precludes us from receiving our proper recognition elsewhere! We are the kings of destruction and death!

The fight goes on…

Quality

14
Really in-depth characterization in this flashback.

Let me make it clear to you all that this comic book is mainly a huge battle between the Strangers and TNTNT. However, it is not exactly the overly long, battle royale at all nor is it a brainless story. In fact, at key segments of the comic book, the narrative switches between the battles and flashbacks that not only explain what happened since the end of issue #2 but also showed other events that happened during the Strangers’ free time.

The flashbacks showed the Strangers interacting with each other like normal people. There was this nice scene showing Atom Bob and his teammates visit his parents’ home and have a nice dinner together. It was also during the flashbacks where the character development really got deep and by the time the story ended, I got to know the Strangers even more.

Going back to the long battle, it is clearly a showcase of spectacle in the form of superhero action and the use of their special abilities. Unsurprisingly, Rick Hoberg’s visuals really brought the script to life here. Really good imagery here and there! Also I should say that Hoberg’s designs on the members of TNTNT were really good, even comparable with the Strangers’ designs.

Conclusion

7
This is just a taste of the action-heavy battle.

The Strangers #3 is fun and compelling to read. What makes this different from issues #1 and #2 is that following the narrative (which switches between the present day battle and the character-driven flashbacks) can be challenging at first. As such, this is a comic book that needs to be re-read in order to fully understand the story. It has a lot of action, super powers showcased and enough character development! Finally, I should say that Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg crafted a pretty powerful build-up leading to the last page.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #3, 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, The Strangers #3 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 The Strangers #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.

I could never forget the sense of engagement and fun I had the first time I read the Ultraverse comic book The Strangers #1 decades ago. After completing that comic book, I was really eager to discover more of the team and what else they would encounter in the next issue. Entertainment and literary value aside, The Strangers #1 succeeded in making me craving for more about the Ultraverse (same with reading Hardcase #1, Mantra #1, Freex #1, Prime #1 and Prototype #1).

Take note that the year was 1993 when Malibu Comics launched the Ultraverse and at that time I was already a fan of the X-Men and Marvel Comics organized the celebration of X-Men’s 30th anniversary that same year. As such, it became a challenge for me to collect X-Men-related comic books while keeping up with the Ultraverse releases. While the X-Men 30th anniversary was heavily marketed, The Strangers and Freex were superhero team titles under the Ultraverse that still caught my attention. I’m really glad that

Enough with the history lesson. Let’s now take a look back at The Strangers #2, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Rick Hoberg.

Early story

The story begins with the Strangers riding a private jet piloted by Lady Killer. Flying over the city of Fresno in California, the jet heads to a very strange cloud which seems to be the source of the powers they suddenly gained (as a result of what happened when they rode the cable car in San Francisco).

After some effort, they discover, to their surprise, an entire island with a forest and a small mountain completely floating hidden in the cloud. Upon landing, Atom Bob, Grenade, Electrocute, Lady Killer, Spectral and Zip-Zap move into the forest to explore. Eventually they got surrounded by members of a tribe (including the flying lady whom they encountered in issue #1) who use magic to take them down…

Quality

16
The Strangers move into action!

In terms of quality, this comic book worked strongly as a concluding piece to the previous issue. In issue #1, the story was about one main event that impacted the lives of strangers who happened to be riding the cable car, and those who gained powers got together. The Strangers #2 was more about the powered strangers searching for answers only to find themselves in a tremendous misadventure they did not anticipate. The result is a nice series of further incidents laced with spectacle, interactions between the characters and ultimately another bout of fun and discovery for readers to experience.

When it comes to the writing, the narrative from the 1st issue continued smoothly here. Apart from the big misadventure on the floating island, the further development of each member of The Strangers proved to be very strong. Lady Killer is firmly established to be strong-willed and capable of leading and organizing people. Spectral starts doing more as he gradually learns more about his untapped potential. By the time I reached the end of this comic book, I got to know the characters much more and also craved for more on their further adventures/misadventures. Visually, Rick Hoberg’s art really brought the story to life.

Conclusion

4
Get to know the Strangers more with this page.

The Strangers #2 is an excellent comic book worthy of being part of your collection. In my view, this comic book is an essential follow-up to the excellent 1st issue. Without this, your discovery of the Strangers would be incomplete. This comic book also explains how the team got its name.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #2, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition, the bagged edition and the newsstand edition cost $4, $4 and $8 respectively.

Overall, The Strangers #2 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 The Strangers #4 (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.

Previously, I took a look back at Hardcase #4 which marked the crossover between Hardcase and The Strangers. It was a fulfilling read in the sense that it built-up the initial connections between the Hollywood ultra (with Choice on his side) and the team. The crossover however continued in the other Ultraverse series titled The Strangers.

Join me on this look back at The Strangers #4, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Steve Englehart and illustrated by Rick Hoberg.

Cover
Same cover as Hardcase #4 but with the banner of The Strangers.

Early story

The story begins deep inside a secret facility with Hardcase and the Strangers already caught by Aladdin. Grenade tries his to break through the pink energy field separating them from Aladdin personnel but fails. The group is told that Aladdin has been watching ultras for some time and has developed was to neutralize anything ultras could do. It has been made clear to them that nobody will enter the pen until they all agree to join Aladdin.

After much talk, Hardcase and the Strangers managed to bring the energy field down and free themselves…

Quality

11
Hardcase, Choice and the Strangers inside Aladdin’s facility.

While Hardcase #4 served mainly as the build-up, this comic book serves as the big pay-off completely loaded with spectacle and fun! The creative team of Steve Englehart and Rick Hoberg, in coordination with the creative team of Hardcase, crafted this very memorable conclusion to the 2-part crossover of Hardcase and The Strangers.

Crossing over aside, this comic book provides readers a nice look at Aladdin, a secret society run by the American government focused on ultras (people with extraordinary abilities). Ultras who won’t help the government are put under lock-and-key mainly for the protection of society. Ultras who agreed to work for the government are authorized and supplied to help in the so-called grand scale.

The interactions between Hardcase (and Choice) with the Strangers that started in Hardcase #4 continued nicely in this comic book. The interactions went on to evolve into great team work in this misadventure. When it comes to superhero action, Rick Hoberg’s illustration is very wonderful to look at. Hoberg’s visual presentation on Hardcase and Choice was no less excellent, plus his art on the opposing ultras (working for Aladdin) was nicely done.

On the aspect of characterization, I liked how Yrial (the African lady who often reminds me of X-Men’s Storm) reacted so bluntly after admitting she had previous knowledge about Aladdin. There was also that nice exchange between Atom Bob and Choice, which made the guy feel idiotic and like a commercial. The exchange was noticed by Grenade and Electrocute which resulted some clever dialogue.

Conclusion

4
This page added more to Hardcase’s character. Nicely drawn by Rick Hoberg.

The Strangers #4 is excellent and worthy of being part of your collection of comic books. It is compelling and fun to read from start to finish. By the time the story ends, this comic book should make you care more about Hardcase and the Strangers.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Strangers #4, be aware that as of this writing,  MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4. The near-mint copy of the newsstand edition is priced at $13.

Overall, The Strangers #4 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 Hardcase #4

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.

When done right by really talented people, superhero crossovers within the shared universe of a particular publisher can be fun to read. In this retro comic book review, we are about to explore one of the earliest Ultraverse crossovers ever published. To put things in perspective, the Ultraverse imprint was launched in 1993 by Malibu Comics, and there were several titles that debuted like Prime, Mantra, Hardcase, The Strangers and Prototype to name a few. Unsurprisingly, in-universe crossovers were bound to happen shortly after launch and create new opportunities of fun for fans and readers.

Here is a look back at Hardcase #4 published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story co-plotted by James Hudnall (writer) and Steve Englehart, and drawn by Roger Robinson.

Cover
Really nice cover!

Early story

The story begins inside Hardcase’s home. He and Choice were surprised by the presence of The Strangers inside. While Hardcase was fuming mad, Lady Killer and her teammates tried to calm him down expressing they meant no harm and simply wanted to talk with him.

2
Imagine having strangers inside your nice home without your authority.

“Look—we’ve just come back from a fight with a bunch of ultras who wanted to kill Choice and me. And earlier today, another group showed up and took out part of my house. So, to put it mildly, I’m not exactly in a sociable mood,” Hardcase said calming down.

Eventually Hardcase and Choice talked with the Strangers….

Quality

7
Meet the Strangers!

For the most part, this comic book is less about spectacle (unsurprisingly) but more about exposition and character interaction. This does not mean Hardcase #4 is boring, in fact it’s still compelling to read. In clever ways, this comic book has some very relevant stuff for Hardcase fans specifically lots of in-depth, additional details about him (including details about The Squad) and how he changed to be an ultra. In short, this one shows Hardcase’s origin and what happened afterwards. James Hudnall’s script here not only connected nicely with the final Squad moments in issue #1 but also deepened the details. By the time I finished reading Hardcase #4, the tragic event that opened Hardcase #1 made even more sense to me.

The writing is this comic book’s biggest strength not only because it fully explored more of Hardcase’s past but also due to the nice interactions Hardcase and Choice had with the Strangers. I really like the short scene when Atom Bob thought about getting Choice interested in him since he finds her really charming.

Hudnall’s writing was indeed full of exposition and yet it was nicely paced and I never felt lost with the narrative. I should also mention that the presence of the secretive organization called Aladdin is felt even strongly in the story, building up the suspense for it.

When it comes to the art, Roger Robinson did a decent job visualizing the characters. For the most part, each member of the Strangers as well as Hardcase and Choice were still recognizable visually. For the action scenes, which are not that many, his art was satisfactory.

Conclusion

5
The interactions are nice!

While Hardcase #4 lacked spectacle, its portrayal of the crossover between Hardcase and the Strangers still made it a good read. There is additional stuff for Hardcase fans and the interaction between him and the Strangers was nicely crafted. Ultimately, this crossover was the first of two parts leading to The Strangers #4.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Hardcase #4, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4. The near-mint copy of the newsstand is priced at $13.

Overall, Hardcase #4 is recommended.


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

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