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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cover.

Early story

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

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

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

Quality

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

+++++

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

A Look Back at X-Men Adventures #3 (1993)

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

Who is the most definitive X-Men villain ever? That is none other than Magneto! Co-created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Magneto made his literary debut alongside Marvel’s heroic mutants in The X-Men #1 way back in 1963. Magneto is capable of generating and controlling magnetic fields which make him dangerous since he has the power to manipulate metal and even use them as weapons against others, plus he can even cause destruction to buildings by moving the metal in them to bring them down.

What even makes Magneto more dangerous is his very strong belief that his fellow mutants are genetically superior over humans and he does not believe in the concept of mutants and humans co-existing. Character-wise, Magneto is the complete opposite of Charles Xavier/Professor X of the X-Men.

When it comes to pop culture influence, GamesRadar+ declared Magneto as the #1 best X-Men villain of all time. Even more intriguing was the super villain topping IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Villains List. Beyond comic books, Magneto also appeared in the X-Men arcade game of 1992 made by Konami. On November 27, 1992, Magneto made his debut in the Enter Magneto episode of the popular X-Men animated series on TV. The said episode was, unsurprisingly, adapted into comic book form in issue #3 of the X-Men Adventures monthly comic book series.

How was Magneto’s debut in the said monthly series? We can find out in this look back at X-Men Adventures #3, published in 1993 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Ralph Macchio and drawn by Andrew Wildman.  

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in outer space where Asteroid M is orbiting above planet Earth completely undetected. As a meteor is on-course to collide with Asteroid M, the operator of the asteroid activates its guns and hits it. While Asteroid M got spared, a smaller meteor found itself falling into Earth’s atmosphere. As it burns through the atmosphere, Charles Xavier spots it from inside his mansion.

Xavier turns his attention to Jean Grey. As they travel together, the doors open and Sabretooth enters landing on the floor. The two have yet to know him.

Over at a prison, the captured Hank McCoy/Beast thinks deeply inside his prison cell only to suddenly witness one of the walls get smashed by some powerful force. Magneto arrives and tells him he came for him…

Quality

The power of Magneto.

The writing, with credit to the screenwriters behind the animated episode, is pretty solid and the essence of the said episode was very well adapted into this comic book. As this is Magneto’s debut in the X-Men Adventure series reflecting his debut in animated series, his character is portrayed very accurately and it only made perfect sense for him to approach Beast first to try to convince him join his pro-mutant movement. More on the writing, Beast’s restraint brought out more of Magneto’s hardcore beliefs and his complete opposition towards humans.

Of course, the creators did not let down their efforts to portray the struggle mutants have under the laws of human society which is strongly reflected in Beast’s court hearing with Wolverine and Cyclops (in civilian forms) observing powerlessly. The court room drama and arguments were intense.

I should also state that there really was a nice build-up leading to the first battle (first half, actually) between the X-Men and Magneto. Unlike the battles in issues #1 and #2, the conflict here showed the X-Men more in danger which is only fitting considering how great the villain is.

Conclusion

Magneto and Beast.

X-Men Adventures #3 is a strong adaptation of the Enter Magneto episode. There is no doubt about that and most notably, the comic book creators did another good job making the TV animated episode’s concept engaging and fun to read. This comic book should be part of the collection of anyone who is passionate about Magneto.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men Adventures #3 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $17.

Overall, X-Men Adventures #3 (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

Comic Quest announces closure!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes,

Comic Quest

+++++

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

A Look Back at X-Men Adventures #2 (1992)

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

Having read lots of X-Men comic books, I should say that I always find the Sentinels (first appearance in The X-Men #14 in 1965) to be more memorable as enemies of Marvel’s mutants. On face value, they only look like oversized, human-like robots but I always find them to be formidable opponents of the X-Men. These machines are not only built with sophisticated technologies, they are able to push the X-Men to their limits during battle.

These anti-mutant robots, by the way, were ranked by IGN at #38 in their Greatest Comic Book Villains chart. Long before that, the Sentinels were the featured anti-heroes in the classic X-Men comic book storyline Days of Future Past and it was no surprise that they were also featured in the 2014 movie X-Men: Days of Future Past.

And then in the early 1990s, the Sentinels were shown in the first episode of the X-Men animated series on television. The said series was also adapted into an “as seen on TV” comic book series by Marvel called X-Men Adventures.

This brings me to this look back at X-Men Adventures #2, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with a story by Ralph Macchio and drawn by Andrew Wildman.  

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Morph suffering from a nightmare. As he emerged from the vision, he finds himself with Storm, Beast and Wolverine. Together they work to infiltrate a federal government facility which houses the Mutant Affairs Department. Outside the walls of the facility, Rogue Gambit and Cyclops watch from a distance. Cyclops fires his optic blast at the vehicle that just dropped reinforcements that he believes were sent to stop their teammates.

Storm and her teammates break through a door instantly pushing off the security personnel followed by Beast knocking an additional guard. At the room containing the computer, Beast begins to access key information their team has been seeking…

Quality

The Sentinels and the X-Men!

Let me start with the storytelling. As an adaptation of one of the early episodes of the animated series, this comic book does a fine job of recapturing its essence complete with a nice balance between plot, exposition and spectacle. Considering the fact that the animated series was aimed for children, it’s quite intriguing to see the TV episode carrying really heavy themes – apart from the prejudice the mutants suffer from – like top federal government operations, expensive defense and weapons programs, government intrusion into people’s private lives, attempts to require minorities to get registered, etc. Those themes also made it in this comic book which made it feel like it was part of the mainstream X-Men comics of the time.

Compared to the first episode as well as its literary adaptation, this one emphasizes the Sentinels as tools of the government as part of their very expensive program to seek and monitor mutants among their citizens. Mutant Affairs director Peter Gyrich is clearly the villain who has no super powers but has the resources of the federal government and their authority to take action on mutants he perceived to be dangerous.

On the visuals, Andrew Wildman performed a solid job making each page look interesting and detailed enough. While his drawings made each character recognizable to me, it is in the spectacular scenes where he really shines. Wildman’s drawing of the Watcher on the final page of the comic book, however, looks laughable.

Conclusion

Andrew Wildman’s dynamic drawing of the X-Men in action.

While X-Men Adventures #2 is not exactly a literary classic, it is indeed a very solid adaptation of one of the earliest episodes of the animated series of the 1990s. It succeeded on telling a compelling and enjoyable story even though it emphasized the above-mentioned serious themes. As for the iconic Sentinels, this one succeeded in explaining what they are and their place in Marvel’s universe is.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men Adventures #2 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $8 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $26.

Overall, X-Men Adventures #2 (1992) is recommended.

+++++

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

A Look Back at X-Men 2099 #35 (1996)

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

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

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

Cover
The cover.

Early story

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

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

Quality

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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


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

A Look Back at Hardcase #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.

Having reviewed the first eight issues of the Hardcase series, I should say that the title character is easily one of the best protagonists of the entire Ultraverse and the late author James Hudnall deserves credit for the storytelling and character development. Hardcase made it in CBR’s 2016 article about what is being missed from the Ultraverse.

As written in the said CBR.com article: Created by James Hudnall, Hardcase was one of the first superheroes in the Ultraverse, forming a team with some other early superheroes. They called themselves “The Squad,” and soon became extremely famous. However, tragedy struck when the team took on a powerful villain, who killed almost all of them, with only Hardcase remaining as The Squad’s only surviving member. Of his three other teammates, two died and one was comatose. He retired from being a superhero and instead became an actor, portraying himself in major motion pictures. When the Ultraverse officially began, Hardcase was pulled out of retirement to become a superhero once again.

Before he passed away on April 2019, Hudnall expressed his support for US President Donald Trump and pointed out that the media has been lying and the ones who are fascists are the rioters who attacked people since the 2016 election.

With all that information presented, let’s take a look back at Hardcase #9, published in 1994 by Malibu Comics with a story written by Hudnall and drawn by Brent Anderson (the same guy behind the 1982 graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills).

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Tom Hawke/Hardcase spending time with the comatose Linda. He tells her about what he went through recently. The narrative shifts to a few days back with his work in filmmaking. He meets with Choice whom he has gotten close with for some time.

Inside a trailer, the two discuss relationships and the complexity that comes with acting with regards to emotions.

A short time later, a huge monster attacks Hardcase in public. The monster tells him: “You’re as egotistical as all the rest. It’ll be a pleasure to send you to your grave.”

Quality

9
This is one of many scenes of action brilliantly drawn by Brent Anderson.

As the adventures with the Strangers and the Solution are over, this particular comic book served its purpose well – the further development of the relationship between Hardcase and Choice. The way Hudnall scripted this comic book showed a nice balance between romance, superhero spectacle (note: this comic book is loaded!) and the key element of maturity (with regards to dealing with love from both the past and the present).

With regards to the art, Brent Anderson’s debut with the Hardcase series is pretty solid. I like the gritty touch of the visuals he used on the characters, most notably Hardcase and Choice.

Conclusion

5
Hardcase and Choice in Hollywood.

No doubt that this is another solid Hardcase story. I enjoyed this from start to finish (which was emotionally powerful and symbolic). Hardcase #9 marks a new turn in the life of the the title hero.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Hardcase #9 (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 $7.

If you are looking for original Hardcase #9 art by Brent Anderson, click here.

Overall, Hardcase #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 as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at X-Men Adventures #14 (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.

Last time I reviewed an issue of X-Men Adventures, it was the 13th issue which served as the first half of a two-part adaptation of the animated series’ adaptation of the literary X-Men classic storyline Days of Future Past. It was a compelling and fun comic book to read.

Then I saw the cover of X-Men Adventures #14 which had a nicely drawn cover but instantly spoiled key elements of the 2nd part of the Days of Future Past adaptation. What does the comic book have left to show?

We can all find out in this look back at X-Men Adventures #14, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Ralph Macchio and drawn by Nick Napalitano.

Cover
The spoileriffic cover.

Early story

The story begins with Bishop (who came from the dark future on a mission to change events and prevent the darkness from taking over by aligning himself with the X-Men) attacks Gambit whom he identifies as the traitor responsible for the downfall of the X-Men and society. In response, Rogue, Jean Grey and Jubilee intervene to disrupt the conflict paving the way for Wolverine and Cyclops to restrain Bishop.

Bishop insists that everything will change for the worse if Gambit lives to fulfill his destiny: to kill a prominent politician who opposed mutants.

After some squabbling between the X-Men, the situation cools down and Professor X/Charles Xavier announces that he and some members will travel to Washington, D.C. where he will address the senate committee on mutant affairs…

Quality

2
Chaos in the headquarters of the X-Men!

In terms of writing, this comic book carries a lot of punch on its own. It’s a compelling read and like the animated series episode that served as its source, it took its time to build up tension before a twist or a scene of spectacle happens. As expected, it is not a scene-per-scene recreation compared with the animated episode and that’s just fine for me. I only wished the comic book creators retained the animated episode scene in which Bishop tells Wolverine that Gambit’s destined act was the Canadian’s fault, which led to Wolverine memorably saying: “I still can’t believe it.”

More importantly, the story offers readers a nice exploration about how the public and the Federal Government of the United States would react with mutants. To see US Senator Robert Kelly harshly question Professor X if his school functioned for pro-mutant propaganda is quite striking.

When it comes to the art, Napalitano’s work here is a drop in quality and style when compared to Andrew Wildman’s art. His art is not terrible and he exerted effort on translating the script into images but the work looks rushed. There were some weirdly drawn faces of Rogue, Xavier and Wolverine to name some. The action scenes meanwhile lacked punch.

Conclusion

3
The dark future of the X-Men and their society.

While X-Men Adventures #14 served its purpose on completing the adaptation of Days of Future Past, it failed to deliver the great stuff even though the script was strong. The sub-par art of Napalitano really dragged the presentation down making the comic book end with a whimper.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men Adventures #14, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $6 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $21.

Overall, X-Men Adventures #14 (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 X-Men 2099: Oasis

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.

According to the online edition of Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an oasis is something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast. In the case of X-Men 2099, the open areas of the southwestern region of the United States is a dangerous place to be in even though they are free from oppressive systems of control that dominate cities. As such, it is the southwestern region in 2099 can be compared to the Old West in history where there are lots of desolate places as well as lots outcasts and outlaws. Unlike their mainstream counterparts, the X-Men of the far future are nomads and they don’t have a long-term place of residence they could call home. Considering how dangerous the region is for the mutants, a haven of peace, security and prosperity is always ideal to them but only if it is indeed real.

That is what we will explore in the one-shot comic book X-Men 2099: Oasis here.

But before proceeding with the review, it has to be emphasized first that the one-shot comic book which was made special with the painted art of the Hilderbrandt brothers Greg and Tim. For long-time X-Men 2099 scribe John Francis Moore, Oasis was like a big dream come true. When asked during an online interview about his recollections on making X-Men 2099: Oasis and working with the Hilderbrandt Brothers, Moore stated:

I was a fan of the Hildebrandt’s fantasy illustration, and I was blown away when Joey told me that they wanted to do an X-men 2099 project. I met with them in Joey’s office and they were both really great guys. I think they said they really liked Bloodhawk, so I knew he’d be a major player in whatever story we developed. They didn’t enter the project with a lot of conditions. They seemed genuinely happy to get to play in this corner of the Marvel universe.

I can’t remember ever writing a full script for any of my Marvel work. I gave them a plot and sometime later received Xeroxes of pencil art (Hildebrant art!) to dialogue. Then it went back for them to paint, and they did a phenomenal job. I only wish that it could’ve been published before the 2099 line was axed. It was a beautiful book that I think was sadly under promoted.

To find out if it is any good, here is a look back at X-Men 2099: Oasis published in 1996 by Marvel Comics with a story written by John Francis Moore and painted art done by Greg and Tim Hilderbrandt.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The comic book begins with a flashback set in Hong Kong in the year 2090. A much younger Shakti/Cerebra is on the loose trying to reach a ferry to Kowloon with a plan to hide in the back alleys of Tsimshatsui. Suddenly Lokjaw intercepts her and grabs her. They had a short history together and Lokjaw insists that Shakti should be grateful to her father who raised her to run his bio-shops. After a brief chase, something hits Lokjaw who fell into the water. It turns out Ryu Kobolt helped Shakti, and he has been instructed by his boss to offer her asylum.

11
Luna and Skullfire explore a place.

In the present day of 2099 in New Mexico, Bloodhawk flies to his desert home not knowing he is being monitored. Two people, an old man with white hair and a lady, work together to stun the X-Men member and take him with them. A short time later, inside a high-tech facility, Bloodhawk wakes up finding himself restrained and being watched over by the lady and the old man. They tell him he is in the Promised Land, a place where the sins of the old world will be washed away. Using her powers, she touches Bloodhawk’s head and slowly turns him into his normal human form.

Meanwhile outside a deserted town near the border between Colorado and Kansas, Shakti, Tim/Skullfire and Luna arrive riding motorcycles. They are checking the potential presence of a mutant nearby…

Quality

15
Really great visuals by the Hilderbrandt brothers!

It is very safe to say that this is one very ambitious X-Men 2099 story ever told by John Francis Moore. It sure has an epic concept showing that Oasis in the open region not only exists, but also serves as the closest thing humanity in America has to imitating Heaven built on top of the land. Oasis is the indoor paradise where mutants and humans gather together, live in peace and work together in tremendous ways that the X-Men could only hope to achieve in Halo City (note: this story is set some time after X-Men 2099 #25).

The titular place is clearly the centerpiece of the story backed with characters and threads from the past that explain how it got established. Part of the creation of Oasis is connected with Ryu Kobolt whom Shakti got close with many years back. Of course, someone else got involved with Ryu which directly connects with the creation of Oasis.

While it is also clear that the story took some inspiration from Christianity, I should say that the approach was done by rehashing old storytelling concepts like emphasizing a charismatic person who looks godly or messianic, people getting converted with ways that are not holy, false prophets misleading those seeking salvation, etc. With the ages-old concept of the mad scientists added, then there is conflict here for the X-Men to engage with. The story touches on themes like destiny, conversion, having the power to judge people and committing genocide.

As for the characters, John Francis Moore made the right move to utilize Shakti, Bloodhawk, Skullfire and Luna of the X-Men, however the other new characters such as Memphis, Pandora and Ryu pale in comparison with regards to importance (even though Memphis and Ryu each had a good amount of the spotlight and even some character development).

When it comes to the artwork, this is one great looking superhero, sci-fi story in painted form thanks to the Hilderbrandt brothers! Not only is their painted art beautiful to look at, there are also eye-catching shots of scenery, very detailed facial expressions and a very lively presentation of the action scenes and explosions! Each and every character painted – specifically Shakti, Skullfire, Bloodhawk, Luna, Memphis, Pandora and Ryu – has that touch of visual realism (note: not photo realism) that make them look more human to the eyes (especially the X-Men members when compared to how they were drawn by Ron Lim and Jan Duursema in the monthly series). This is one great looking comic book and easily one of the very best of the X-Men of 2099!

Conclusion

16
The Oasis!

X-Men 2099: Oasis is a one-shot comic book that almost matched its high ambition. While it has some of the best painted superhero art of the 1990s ever, the storytelling just did not engage me that much. For one thing, its approach on taking inspiration from Christianity is very flawed not only due to rehashing storytelling concepts but also due to the fact that everything – including the titular Oasis – had to be concluded already. Even though there was a build-up leading to a final conflict, the payoff was not that great and ultimately there was a sense of rush in the 2nd half of the story.

What is also disappointing is the fact that the events told here did not really impact Shakti, Skullfire, Luna and Bloodhawk at all, nor was there anything added to the narrative of the X-Men 2099 monthly series. This is too bad because the existence of a haven where people can live in and be protected from the prejudice and violence in the region fit nicely with the concept of X-Men 2099 in the first place. Even though there was a reference to issue #25 during the first half, this comic book ended up looking like a dream story or a parallel universe tale with a $5.95 cover price! It seems to me like this was more like a cash-grab attempt to exploit comic collectors and the fans of X-Men 2099.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men 2099: Oasis, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy costs $14.

Overall, X-Men 2099: Oasis is a serviceable one-shot comic book. That being said, if you really intend to buy it, you should not pay more than $5 for it.


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

A Look Back at X-Men 2099 #34

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.

Even within the Marvel 2099 universe, the concept of the messiah figure arriving to change people’s destiny has been used. What is notable about this concept, apart from being a cliché, is that it was implemented so close to the end of the X-Men 2099 monthly series in the mid-1990s and the 2099 editor Joey Cavalieri was fired by Marvel Comics at a time of corporate turmoil. The firing led to the resignation of other writers who were sympathetic with Cavalieri. It should be noted that the last time Cavalieri’s name was listed on the credits was in issue #31.

As such, things went downhill for Marvel Comics and the 2099 line as a whole. In retrospect, did the messiah concept result any improvements for the quality of the X-Men 2099 franchise?

This is my retro comic book review of X-Men 2099 #34, published in 1996 by Marvel Comics with a story written by John Francis Moore and drawn by Jan Duursema.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the monstrous-looking Vulcann instantly transforming Joachim (the son of Eddie/Metalhead and Rosa) from infant form into an adult. When asked by the now-grown Joachim who he is, Vulcann lies to him saying: I am your lord and master. My word is absolute as is my love for you. Obey me and I will give you a world that will worship at your feet.

Meanwhile during a stormy day just outside of Halo City, Skullfire, Luna and Krystalin arrive in floating motorcycles. Their new task, which is very daunting, is to help as much as possible as the sea level has risen so much it has flooded the city they are responsible for (as the protectorate).

Shortly after, the X-Men and others meet in Halo City’s tower digitally communicating with Savant who explains that weather patterns around the world are equally aberrant as the storm affecting the city. He also mentions that based on the findings of Alchemax Geotechs, the polar ice caps were melting at an alarming rate…

Quality

16
Shakti returns in this comic book.

First of all, I should say that effort was made to raise the stakes within the story. The introduction of the adult Joachim guided by the evil, over-sized Vulcann was meant to show a twisted take of Christianity’s God and Jesus and turn it into a new anti-hero force against the X-Men.. Then there is the shock on Joachim’s parents, Xi’an’s return to the city and the global weather instability caused by the arrival of another moon orbiting Earth.

The problem here is that the story as a whole was not very compelling, even though the creative team brought heavy spotlight back on the X-Men after spending it on Xi’an and the Lawless. Speaking of X-Men relevance, the creators also brought Shakti back to this monthly series ending her absence (note: she was with the youth team X-Nation which had its own series). Granted, the stakes were raised but the payoff was not too strong specifically for this comic book.

Along the way, Jan Duuersema did what she could to make this story look good.

Conclusion

7
The analysis of a moon-sized satellite orbiting earth makes a good build-up for a mission.

To put it bluntly, X-Men 2099 #34 has the weakest story since before issue #25. In this comic book, I did not care much about the rushed return of Xi’an and Shakti in Halo City. I should also state that having Vulcann and Joachim parallel Christianity’s God and Jesus was done in a very bad taste even though the purpose (apart from giving the X-Men opposition) was to show that the X-Men themselves are no longer worthy to be mutantkind’s standard-bearers right in the city filled with many mutants and other outcasts. The portrayal of the X-Men, meanwhile, felt hollow and not worth caring for which makes the return of the spotlight on them a waste.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men 2099 #34, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $6 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $21.

Overall, I don’t recommend buying X-Men 2099 #34 above fifty cents. Better save your money.


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

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