A Look Back at Freex #13 (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.

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the mid-1990s which was a really wild time for comic collectors. To be more specific, this newest retro comic book review revisits Ultraverse through the exploits of Freex, the monthly series about a group of young adults with unusual capabilities (or abnormalities) who are constantly on the move as they are social outcasts.

In my previous retro reviews of Freex, the team encountered Contrary (who later became a significant part of UltraForce) and her so-called school of gifted children. Subsequently, they left Contrary’s lair but without Ray who decided to stay behind. Freex, who gained a new member in replacing Ray, went underground encountering Prime and a lone individual called Old Man. After separating from Prime, the team move further underground with Old Man and discovered a lot of things they never expected.

With those details laid down, here is a look back Freex #13, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Gerard Jones and drawn by Scott Kolins.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins deep under the Earth’s surface wherein the Freex – AJ, Angela, Michael, Valerie and new member – and Old Man encounter a huge and intimidating sentient being which has the head and tusks of an elephant. The being calls itself Prometheus and claims that he has lived underground for a very long time, created new beings and saw the development of settlements that the people on the surface are not even aware of.

Intriguingly, he reveals to the Freex that he created the substance that were injected by a certain nurse into the bodies of each team member when they were still infants which later manifested into the capabilities and abnormalities they now have…

Quality

This short scene about Atalon and his army is a prelude to the Atalon storyline in the early issues of UltraForce.

The most significant aspect about this comic book’s story is the clever approach taken by the creators to not only show the further development of Freex but also emphasize and expand the lore of the Ultraverse while connecting this series to UltraForce (the early issues written by Gerard Jones and drawn by the late George Perez) which itself had a great conflict between Atalon’s forces and Earth’s governments. To put it short, this Freex tale is a prelude to the events seen in UltraForce #0, UltraForce #1 and the rest of the Atalon saga. The good news is that the emphasis of in-universe connection (as opposed to crossovers) was done well and nicely structured.

More on the Freex themselves, the revelation that the members’ powers were the result of being injected (by Wetware Mary) into them with the substance created by Prometheus resulted in dramatic reactions from them which also adds to the tension of their current misadventure together so far away from society. The revelation also added tremendous weight into the series’ narrative raising questions such as the following: Wow will each Freex member reintegrate into society as they know the truth about what caused them to have powers/abnormalities? Where will they go once they made it back to the surface? Will they keep secret the existence of Prometheus?

In relation, the creative team took their time to develop each member’s personality and emotions. Most notable was the portrayal of the new friendship between Valerie and their new member (indoctrinated by Contrary) which hints that something significant could happen to not only themselves but to the team itself.

What also struck me in this comic book was the way the 2nd half of the story was presented…by becoming really wild and crazy. Eerily, the confusion felt by Freex during the 2nd half was something I as a reader felt. To find out what I’m talking about, I urge to get a copy of this comic book and read it yourselves.

Conclusion

This page revealed more about the origins of the Freex members.

While the 2nd half of the story had a crazy ride, I still found Freex #13 (1994) to be really engaging and intriguing mainly on the big revelation and UltraForce connections told in the first half. At this stage in the series, it really looked like that the team was on its way into the unknown as their own place within the Ultraverse really widened (similar to what happened on the part of The Solution in issues #10, #11 and #12).

Overall, Freex #13 (1994) 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 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 Sludge #9 (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.

Welcome back, superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Sludge comic book series.

In my previous Sludge retro review, the conflict between the crime organizations intensified as the titular character continued to struggle with achieving his desired goal which includes getting involved with the Pump’s evil schemes. Eventually something unexpected happened Sludge which involved Zuke, the potent illegal substance the Pump keeps on unleashing to the public.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #9, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Robb Phipps.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Sludge in pain as he pulls out a long spike from his right hand which became flesh again. This was the result of his holding Zuke which his right hand somehow absorbed. Wanting answers, he calls out to the Pump who (along with his teenage protégé) was no longer present in the room. A female ghost appears to Sludge and tells him that the crime boss is downstairs.

It turns out, the Pump has an evil plan in mind which would involve the mercenary Bloodstorm. The crime boss puts a very large capsule of Zuke into the mouth of the restrained Bloodstorm. Just as Sludge arrives, Bloodstorm becomes very enraged as a result of absorbing a high quantity of the illegal substance. Shortly after Pump quells the drugged mercenary, Sludge approaches him for more Zuke as he is convinced that the drug will turn him to normal just like how it turned his right hand back to normal.

The Pump orders Sludge to take Bloodstorm’s body back to his employer Sabatini then return. He reminds him that he has the Zuke and is capable of eradicating him…

Quality

Sludge has yet to realize he could really go up against the very evil Pump.

Now this is the most intriguing tale of Sludge in relation to the unstable relations between the gangs of New York. Vittorio, the one trusted assistant of the late crime boss Marcello, leads the gang and tries to craft a new direction with emergence in mind by negotiating a truce with the Dragon Fang while also starting efforts to duplicate the very addicting substance called Zuke which has long been an asset to the Pump’s gang. Unsurprisingly, Vittorio encounters trouble trying to win the trust of the more established crime bosses and he is also unaware that they are all being targeted by the Pump.

Once the Pump unleashes his newest move against the gangs, the situation intensifies and gets twisted which makes this a really solid reading experience. Steve Gerber crafted this story to be intense and unpredictable at the same time, while also showing how Sludge deals with his situation being powerless under the Pump. There is one notable addition to the plot which involves violent action which you must discover for yourselves.

When it comes to the visuals, Robb Phipps take on Sludge is vastly different compared to Aaron Lopresti’s Sludge. The result is that Phipps’ art style made Sludge and the other characters have that cartoony aesthetic and yet they are still recognizable. What visual style and elements Phipps had on certain issues of Mantra he illustrated (click here, here and here) are pretty much present in this comic book.  

Conclusion

A high-stakes meeting disrupted.

Sludge #9 (1994) is another solid read and one of the most intriguing stories of the Sludge series. As the concluding chapter of the “Street Wars” storyline, this comic book has the usual elements that defined Sludge stories while also succeeding in moving the plot forward (note: the storyline conclusion is engaging, even shocking) complete with twists and noticeable intensified violence. At this point in the monthly series, Sludge is off on a path of despair and he is clearly lost. This element alone should compel readers to examine Sludge’s personality closely and analyze where he is heading to and what purpose does he have left.

Overall, Sludge #9 (1994) 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 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/

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!

+++++

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 Sludge #8 (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.

Welcome back, superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Sludge comic book series.

As seen in my previous Sludge retro review, the stakes were raised even higher and Sludge finds himself in the middle of a major conflict between the gangs of the city with the involvement of the group of the Pump. By this point, the titular character is not only desperate but also is getting torn between good and evil.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #8, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with TV news coverage doing a recap of events that shook New York City and its people – the abduction of a drug mule, the destruction of a ship filled with illegal immigrants, the destruction in the cemetery left behind by a major conflict there, and the death of crime boss John Paul Marcello which involved action by Sludge.

Sludge then wakes up from another nightmare and finds himself inside a boiler room which has a TV set and a chair. It turns out the place was set up by a janitor who does not even know Sludge is present. Slowly, Sludge sneaks his way back to the sewer.

At a cemetery, the burial of Marcello is being attended by many people and among them is Don Celini who regarded the late crime boss as a man of vision who made a lot of money for many people. Vittorio, the former loyal assistant to Marcello, is told by Don Celini to demonstrate leadership qualities to the heads of the other gangs. In the evening at a discreet place, Vittorio meets with Bloodstorm with a lot of money on the side…

The reporter Shelley on the pursuit for details.

Quality

To make things clear about the storytelling, the conflict between the crime gangs not only became more intense but also turned out quite intriguing. Clearly writer Steve Gerber carefully planned out the events, character developments and twists for this series. That being said, this comic book has a fine mix of suspense, crime story and even the supernatural for the narrative’s progress, and the good news is that these elements were presented in a believable way.

As presented in the previous issues, Sludge’s desperation and death wish will keep on intriguing you especially when he gets bothered by the Pump (arguably the most evil figure of the entire Ultraverse). Even as the war between gangs heat up, the story even had space for investigative journalism moments through the news reporter Shelley (who encountered Sludge in person before) whose pursuit for the facts remains unrelenting.

Conclusion

Sludge in a dark boiler room.

While the previous issue made me think deeply about the state of Sludge’s character and the gang war he became involved with, Sludge #8 (1994) is an even more intriguing Ultraverse read complete with solid twists that must be seen. Without spoiling the story, this comic book will strongly resonate with readers who really started the Sludge series from issue #1 (note: Bloodstorm’s involvement in this comic book will be more relevant if you have previously read his detailed introduction in issue #2). The current storyline – Street Wars – went significant steps forward in this story and I can say that the creative team of Gerber and Aaron Lopresti were successful in making me anticipate the conclusion.

Overall, Sludge #8 (1994) 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 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 Ultraverse Premiere #4 (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.

Welcome back, superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Ultraverse Premiere series.

For the newcomers reading this, Ultraverse Premiere was a series of comic books published by Malibu Comics that showcased several tales of the Ultraverse and its characters. These stories were made to expand the lore of the UV, emphasize key characters and give fans a lot of content to enjoy. Certain issues of Ultraverse Premiere served as flip comic books which are thick (a lot more than the normal 32 pages) and allow you to read Ultraverse Premiere tales on side and read another UV comic book on the other side. The Ultravere Premiere comic book I am about to review here had The Strangers #13 on its flip side.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Ultraverse Premiere #4, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with stories written by Len Strazewski and Kurt Busiek, and drawn by Frank Gomez and Kris Renkewitz.

The cover.

Early stories

Story 1 – the story begins with Prime making several appearances protecting innocent people from gangs, muggers, thieves and natural disasters. Specifically, his presence is making an impact on the lives of many neighborhoods and its people.

Sometime later, inside a private facility, the figure identified as Prime turns out to be fake and was designed as a human-shaped suit that was piloted inside by Sy Bernstein. He is personally determined to make an impact on crime in his local community with the fake Prime as his main tool.

Story 2 – the story begins with Lady Killer privately viewing a cartoon preview based on her team – The Strangers – with an executive of Imagine-Arts. Shortly after, Lady Killer meets with more executives of the said company and she is told that Imagine-Arts and Labrava Company (Lady Killer’s own enterprise) make a business deal match and they offer to buy her out. Lady Killer tells them that her company and herself are not for sale…

Quality

Lady Killer talking hard on business.

As far as storytelling goes, this comic book’s two tales succeeded in expanding the lore of the Ultraverse through Prime (as a figure to certain members of the public) and Lady Killer, the leader of The Strangers. The Prime-related story offers a nice take on one small part of the Ultraverse that deals with a local community tainted with crime and how Prime’s influence on the ordinary people impacts the said community in varied ways. Of course, these are all executed not with Prime/Kevin Green himself but rather with someone who happens to have the means to pose as Prime and pretend to be the ultrahero himself. Having read a lot of the adventures of the real Prime, this Prime tale is a really nice take although I should say that the art by Frank Gomez has that very rough look all throughout.

The second story meanwhile is an interesting side-story of The Strangers specifically limited to Lady Killer. She gets into business talk with one company which only leads to an intriguing turn of events which creatively emphasizes capitalism to be corrupt and twisted. In some ways, the anti-corporate theme of the story overshadows the plot itself and as the story progressed, Lady Killer slightly becomes less relevant. To be fair to the creative team, this side-story happens to be the first portion of a storyline that involves J.D. Hunt. To say the least, this tale is worth reading even though its protagonist lost some relevance due to a plot twist that started before reaching the end.

Conclusion

Something very odd here.

Ultraverse Premiere #4 (1994) indeed carries enough entertainment and literary value on its two UV tales alone. Just consider The Strangers #13 as a notable additive thanks to the flip side feature. Prime fans will most likely be intrigued and even entertained with the first story while The Strangers fans might end up dissatisfied with the story centered on Lady Killer not because it is the first chapter of a multi-part story but more on its storytelling quality. At least the art of the Lady Killer tale done by Kris Renkewitz is good to look at.

Overall, Ultraverse Premiere #4 (1994) 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 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 Sludge #7 (1994)

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

Welcome back, superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Sludge comic book series.

In my previous Sludge retro comic book review, the stakes were raised for Sludge and the city of New York as a new conflict started brewing that brought in two gangs along with the Pump and his own gang, and even mercenaries. Issue #6 was the start of a new multi-part storyline that Steve Gerber crafted and it encouraged re-reading the early issues of the Sludge series to understand the scope of the new conflict.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #7, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with a man and a woman on bed. Their privacy gets interrupted when the Pump suddenly appears in frightening fashion. It turns out, Sludge was in the middle of a nightmare and even sees a frightening vision of Edna. He then makes his way through in the sewer.

One morning at the Eretz Shalom Cemetery, a police investigation is being conducted as the local authorities found several dead bodies as well as scorched ground, bodies fused together and a some odor. Shelley, the very determined reporter of the New York Daily Globe, tries to uncover details at the crime scene only to be interrupted by a detective named Quinn. In response to her question, Quinn admits they are just discovering things and trying to figure things out.

Suddenly a lady wearing a suit and necktie approaches them…

Quality

Avoiding the touch of Sludge is a must!

As far as storytelling goes, this tale is a very solid follow-up to the previous issue. While issue #6 showed the start of a big conflict involving three groups, this one shows the emotional and physical impact on the gang leaders (John Paul Marcello and the Dragon Fang) and the unrelenting pursuit of the Pump and his minions on wrecking down society by means of drug pushing and violence. In a way, this Ultraverse story daringly showed its own portrayal of illegal drugs and gang wars while also showing Sludge suffering more and getting even more desperate with his life. I should also state that there are scenes that added detective story and suspense vibes into the narrative.

It should be noted that at this point in the Sludge series, the titular character does some things here that would maker readers question his moves and his sanity, especially since the Pump (note: the Ultraverse’ very own Satan figure) keeps on tempting and manipulating him. Sludge, who was once a crooked cop when he was still human, clearly is vulnerable deep inside and he also is not resistant to the evil influences around him. Very notably, the story by Steve Gerber is strong enough to make me go on to read the next issue.

Conclusion

Shelley of the city newspaper at the scene of the crime.

Sludge #7 (1994) is the kind of comic book that will make you think deeply about the true nature of the titular character and why should you keep on reading each new comic book of this series when you learn that the said character is far from being heroic. The lines that separate good and evil is very blurred at this stage of the Sludge series. This is one clever and really engaging piece of work done by the Gerber-Lopresti team, and at the same time it is also one of the most intriguing Ultraverse tales ever told. That being said, the comic book’s concept is incidentally not ideal for readers who seek good-versus-evil conflicts that get resolved.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Sludge #7 (1994) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16.

Overall, Sludge #7 (1994) 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 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 The Night Man #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.

Welcome back, superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories through The Night Man monthly series.

Remember the group TNTNT? That group appeared in The Strangers #3 and proved to be a strong force of opposition against the team of Atom Bob, Lady Killer, Grenade, Zipzap, Electrocute, Spectral and Yrial. As revealed in that comic book, TNTNT – composed of Tyrannosaur, Naiad, Torso, Neu-Ronnie and Tugun – was trained and equipped by the corporation called NuWare under the watch of their powerful executive J.D. Hunt who clearly has something planned.

That being said, can you imagine what would it be like if TNTNT had ganged up on a solo ultra…like the Night Man?

With those details laid down, here is a look back at The Night Man #6, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Kyle Hotz.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Johnny/Night Man working out hard in a gym observed closely by two attractive ladies. While thinking about what happened recently, the two ladies tried to interact with him. He rejects them and continues to work out hard.

Meanwhile over at a high-tech facility in Sunnyvale, California, the group called TNTNT begins to act in a private training session surrounded by fierce looking robots. One by one, Tyrannosaur, Naiad, Torso, Neu-Ronnie and Tugun make short work of the training robots. Tyrannosaur even declares that the glory of their team is back.

However, the man operating the session from behind a control booth talks to them, reminds them that they are still employees of J.D. Hunt, and he tells them that they recovery from their loss to the Strangers will be realized only after killing the Night Man…

Quality

The TNTNT members in training.

Wow! This is one well-paced ride with a structured narrative! Without spoiling the plot details, I can confirm that the creators succeeded in delivering the big mismatch of the Night Man facing off with the 5-member TNTNT with a good amount of spectacle balanced with really interesting character moments.

By comparison with their previous appearance in The Strangers #3, the members of the TNTNT each got more defined in terms of personality in this comic book even during their pages-long encounter with the Night Man. Take for example Tugun whose culture really shaped his perception on such things like insults. Tyrannosaur meanwhile is always confident he’ll win for sure as he knows his super strength and very tough skin make him almost invincible. The way Night Man dealt with each TNTNT member was moderately paced, backed with quick details (to explain things) and was executed in rather believable ways.  On characterization, Steve Englehart convincingly portrayed TNTNT like they are real people who happen to be paid and trained by some powerful employer who really wants things done for him.

At the point of this comic book’s publishing, the Night Man established himself as San Francisco’s radio commentator-in-hiding believing he can inspire people to stand up for themselves when encountering evil elements. At the same time, this comic book further emphasized connectivity within the Ultraverse. In addition to Night Man’s crossover with Freex, his encounter with TNTNT technically links him with The Strangers.

More on the writing, there are these subtle yet clear traces of socialism and anti-corporatism particularly with the way Night Man confronted a man who bought a stretch of a beach perceived by the protagonist as public. The portrayal of J.D. Hunt as a power-mad and sinister business executive is not surprising, but the way he was portrayed in dealing with his employees TNTNT symbolizes the capitalist being abusive towards his laborers. Whatever this comic book tried to say, nothing changes the fact that socialism sucks and it is wicked, twisted and corrupting.

Conclusion

Johnny focused on his workout.

The Night Man #6 (1994) is entertaining and compelling to read. Its substance is quite rich and it is surprisingly good that the creators managed to develop the TNTNT members even as they proceeded with their mission to kill the protagonist. As for Night Man, he’s clearly a vigilante with a cause and as a symbolic tool of socialism, he was portrayed to be pro-people and an arrogant opponent of capitalism. This made him look more like a foolish pawn of socialism and less of a hero.

Speaking of San Francisco, could you imagine what would it be like if Night Man was real today and witnesses how the Satanic Left of San Francisco led the city into social deterioration and disorder? Watch the videos below for insight…

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Night Man #6 (1994) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16.

Overall, The Night Man #6 (1994) 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 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 WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9 (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.

Welcome back superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we continue revisiting Jim Lee’s flagship title under the Image Comics label – WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams!

Last time around, members of the WildC.A.T.S were split apart in terms of locations as they had their rest-and-relaxation period. While Grifter went away to do something urgent (read: the Kindred comic books), Zealot, Void and Jacob Marlowe’s executive assistant Jules picked up Warblade and Maul using their high-tech aircraft to head on to the Bahamas where an entire cruise ship disappeared with Marlowe, Voodoo and Spartan on it.

Unbeknownst to the WildC.A.T.S flying in their jet, Voodoo, Spartan and Marlowe found themselves as captives of an armored man (wearing a half-helmet) called Entropy inside his domain in an undetermined location. Entropy refers to Marlowe as lord Emp and states that he will suffer from his wrath. Marlowe does not recognize him.

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art with Scott Williams in-charge with the ink work.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the partial WildC.A.T.S team arriving in the area of the Bermuda triangle with their aircraft. From their view, there was nothing to spot but Zealot insists that they keep on searching as they must be overlooking something.

Meanwhile, Spartan and Voodoo find themselves in deep trouble as a horde of Daemonites persistently attack them. Already heavily damaged, Spartan keeps on using his energy blasts to hold the monsters off. Voodoo on the other hand is too weak and could not concentrate to help her teammate.

Suddenly one of the Daemonites slashes Spartan’s left arm which neutralizes his energy blast. His body got pierced by one of the monsters which pinned him down, leaving Voodoo completely helpless…

Quality

The WildC.A.T.S on search-and-rescue.

On face value, this comic book looks like another generic or even disposable good-versus-evil story drawn by Jim Lee. In reality, its story has more significance to it and the creators themselves came up with something fresh for WildC.A.T.S fans. Firstly, this is a story about one group of WildC.A.T.S trying to rescue their boss and their two other teammates from Entropy in a location that could not be easily found. Secondly, this comic book puts strong focus back on the Kherubim-Daemonite war which creatively looks back at one of the many events that took place in Jacob Marlowe’s past (which he could not remember at first) complete with implementing a strong fantasy (read: swords and armors) element which gives the story a mixed-genre aesthetic.

The good news here is that the storytelling and visual presentation by the creators are really well done! While the dual approach of storytelling involving both the present and the far past was used in Jim Lee’s past X-Men works with Marvel, the said approach was well executed with WildC.A.T.S which not only expanded its lore further but also developed Jacob Marlowe’s personality even further.

To have Entropy (note: he eerily resembles’ Mantra arch-villain Boneyard in the Ultraverse) as an enraged opposition figure living with a lust for revenge against Marlowe is a smart move and at the same time this adds variety to the kind of opposition WildC.A.T.S have. More on what happened in the past involving both Marlowe and Entropy, the flashback raises new questions about the value and true nature of the WildC.A.T.S’ leader who at this point was a brash manager who wields lots of resources to operate with. The flashback also challenges readers on how to evaluate Jacob Marlowe when it comes to being accountable about his past actions, including the many things he did but could not remember. All of these lead to a really impactful ending that you readers must see.

Conclusion

Meet Entropy, a man with a shared past with Jacob Marlowe.

WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9 (1994) is a Jim Lee-drawn tale that has solid depth and a very creative approach to its presentation, specifically its daring and well-executed method of mixing the superhero and fantasy elements. When it comes to the narrative, the creative team succeeded in telling both the present and the past tales followed by connecting them with each other while ultimately telling an overall cohesive tale. This is a Wild.C.A.T.S story that must be read from start to finish, and it is a powerful follow-up to issue #8.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9 (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 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 The Solution #11 (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.

Welcome back superhero fans, enthusiasts of 1990s arts and culture, and comic book collectors! As the old saying goes…if you’ve got a problem that needs solving, you call The Solution. What if, for example, The Solution is in another world dealing with major problems and are out of reach?

In the previous two issues I reviewed (click here and here), The Solution got themselves in conflict with the powerful alien force called the Vyr as their member Shadowmage (also referred to as Aera) stole the Vorlexx from them many years prior. During the confrontation in France, the Vyr captured Aera who managed to discreetly pass the Vorlexx to Lela Cho (Tech) before their separation. Since after, The Solution traveled to different worlds with the Vorlexx and teamed up with a man called Harmonica who is knowledgeable about the Aerwan and the Darkur. Unbeknowst to them, the Vyr are watching them from a distance.

With those details laid down, here is a look back The Solution #11, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by the late James Hudnall and drawn by John Statema with ink work by Barbara Kaalberg.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Dropkick, Harmonica, Tech and Vurk in a desperate situation. Just as they need to get away fast, Dropkick notices that the Vorlexx is not working. Harmonica points to the cliffs as the only way out. With his wings, Vurk takes Tech with him to fly up while Harmonica takes Dropkick. As soon as they arrived up the cliff, they find themselves facing the massive Aerwan army whose members are scattered across the ground and the air. An Aerwan military leader tells The Solution to surrender the Vorlexx.

Meanwhile, the Vyr are watching the live video feed of The Solution and the Aerwan army. Shadowmage, who has been restrained in a very painful and humiliating position, has been watching her friends since they exited the cave. While she still remains unharmed by her captors, she knows that her torments are just beginning. The Vyr want her to see what will happen to her friends…

Quality

In the middle of a major battle between two alien armies, The Solution were really pushed to their limits as they pursue their dangerous rescue mission of their captured teammate.

Wow! The storytelling and visual presentation in this comic book got even wilder and the sci-fi element of this particular storyline really went into overdrive! For one thing, much of the tension which started building up in issues #9 and #10 paid off big time in the early part of this comic book as the inevitable battle between the Darkur (Vurk’s people) and the Aerwans (Shadowmage’s people) which easily made The Solution and Harmonica ending up tiny in the middle. Of course, as this is still about the team’s desperate attempt to rescue Aera from the very powerful Vyr, you will really see Lela Cho, Vurk, Dropkick (who carries the Vorlexx) struggle a lot in close encounters with aliens just as they keep on trusting Harmonica (whom they formed an uneasy alliance with) to help them. It is compelling to see how the three mentioned Solution teammates not only struggle to survive but also strive to overcome great odds knowing that if they fail, Aera/Shadowmage will perish. Very clearly, this is a very high-stakes story that James Hudnall prepared and the way I see it, this storyline really added a lot to the development of The Solution.

As for the art, I can say that this, in my opinion, is John Statema at his grandest with the Ultraverse. While being supported by by Barbara Kaalberg’s detailed ink work, Statema really captured the wild sci-fi tale Hudnall prepared and showed The Solution within a very strange environment surrounded by death and uncertainty. A lot of this comic book’s pages are filled with action scenes (note: lots of bloody scenes but without the color red) that are also nicely structured and each member of The Solution had the appropriate dynamic visuals that fitted nicely with their respective big moments. More notably, Statema really worked hard showing the many, many Aerwans and Darkur warriors who filled the pages – especially the two 2-page shots that each showed a wide view of the field – and succeeded in presenting monsters that were scary and very alien in design.

Conclusion

This is one of two epic views in this comic book by illustrator John Statema, inker Barbara Kaalberg and the colorists. Look at all the details!

The Solution #11 (1994) is a wild Ultraverse concept that succeeded in engaging and entertaining me from start to finish. It is a great pay-off to what was built up since The Solution #9 and having the team lost in another world in their pursuit of their captured teammate really moved this series forward. In fact, when it comes to expanding the boundaries of the Ultraverse itself, this comic book really achieved that! This is also the most ambitious sci-fi tale of the UV that I’ve read.  The ironic thing is that this comic book is not even the conclusion to its storyline. There is still more to come and I can say I’m really motivated to read the next issue.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Solution #11 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $48.

Overall, The Solution #11 (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 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/

A Look Back at Sludge #5 (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.

Welcome back, superhero fans, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the Ultraverse of Malibu Comics and examine one of its many stories told through an issue of the Sludge comic book series.

In my previous retro review about Sludge #4 (1994), we got to see an inspired monster-versus-monster conflict between the protagonist and a huge, intelligent alligator aced with elements of society, urban legends, idolatry and journalism. That particular issue also showed more of the creative side of series artist Aaron Lopresti when it comes to writing. The next issue reviewed also involved Lopresti as writer.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Sludge #5, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in New York City. Darkness descends on Manhattan like a shroud, providing haven for those who shun the light. As a man and a lady walk down the sidewalk talking to each other, a very hideous human-like monster comes out of the shadow of the alley and grabs them both.

In the sewers, Sludge hears one of the victims scream which compels him to run to where the trouble happened. As soon as he climbs out of the sewer, he sees the monster in the alley which makes eye-contact with him. As Sludge approaches the alley, the monster gets away leaving the dead bodies of the man and woman behind. As Sludge examines the dead bodies and realizes that the monster ate them, a police car with two officers arrived.

In reaction, Sludge quickly grabs one part of the police car and turns it upside down to buy himself time to get back into the sewer. The details of the encounter between the police and Sludge made it to Shelley, the same New York Daily Globe news reporter who encountered him and the intelligent alligator Veffir Voon Iyax. She discusses the newest information with her skeptical boss…

Quality

Obvious parallel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein here.

Let me start first with what is obvious with regards to the plot and presentation. Similar to what happened in Sludge #2, there is noticeably less spotlight on Sludge as creative space had to be used to develop the new monster, emphasize its background story (with an additional new character who has significance) and there were even scenes focused on Shelley and what goes on inside the office of her newspaper which became aware of the events that took place.

The next thing I want to point out is the creative inspiration used in this particular story. This comic book has really clear parallels to the literary classic Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus and there was even a mention of its author Mary Shelley. That being said, there is a scientist-and-walking-abomination aspect with regards to the mentioned additional significant character connected with the new monster. That is not to say that this comic book copied Victor Frankenstein and his nameless monster, rather Aaron Lopresti took inspiration from them, mixed things up and implemented them in telling this new tale of Sludge. When it comes to keeping things fresh in telling another Sludge story, I can say that Lopresti succeeded.

More on the story itself, this one has a clever mix with regards to the dimensions used. In here, Sludge is more determined on helping people who shouted for help while Shelley won’t give up on finding out the truth about the tragic events in their city. Without spoiling the details, I can say that there is this deep dramatization about the monster and the new character responsible for its return from the dead.

As for the quality of the writing, Aaron Lopresti’s work here is not only expressive but also impressive. There is this one page near the end that has these few yet powerful words that strongly connect with the images of Sludge and the monster (who is so creepily drawn!).  

Conclusion

This is the 2nd straight Sludge comic book that has reporter Shelley and her newspaper focused on what has been happening. At this point, Shelley had encountered Sludge.

Sludge #5 (1994) in my view is another inspired and intriguing Ultraverse tale to read! While issue #4 had parallels to the 1980 film Alligator, this comic book took inspiration from Mary Shelley’s most famous work of fiction which added elements about resurrection, man’s abuse of science, and the consequences of dealing with the unnatural into Sludge’s side of the Ultraverse. I should state that this comic book also has the scariest looking monster Aaron Lopresti drew for the Ultraverse at the time of publication.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Sludge #5 (1994) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $48.

Overall, Sludge #5 (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 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/