Tags Matching: Whilce Portacio

Top 100 Summer Comics #2

While searching for this cover image, I came across a site I was unaware of, and plan to investigate further. Jean-Grey dot com. Interesting.

I have some big fall plans for recurring posts, but one I am dwelling on is “no one drew it better”, a series on artists large and small, who I feel deserve mention for illustrating a definitive version of iconic or at least notable characters. I can’t think of anyone that Whilce Portacio drew that falls into that category, but his work on this issue makes me wonder “what if” on more than a handful of X-Men.
#2 – Uncanny X-Men 281

Consider this the flipside of the X-Men coin – while Jim Lee was launching X-MEN #1 towards 8 million copies sold, Whilce Portacio was over on Uncanny putting down some of my favorite pencils ever. Raw, gutteral almost, style that had a lot of emotion. Some of his facial definition lacked the detail that would have put him over the top, but while the market was moving towards a clean, post Lee smooth, Portacio’s grit and thin lines attracted me to his work. I think his work on this issue, along with a great, fast paced story that introduced about 5 different plot lines that would all reach conclusion within the next few years makes this a standalone “great” single issue.

Want to get into the x-books of the ’90s? Buy X-Men #1. Then buy this issue next.

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Top 100 Summer Comics #17

For reasons now lost to memory, for the past four days I’ve had a wikipedia tab opened on my safari browser to the entry on Shinobi Shaw. I don’t know why. Throw me a Delorean and I’ll go back and ask Tuesday Bob, for now, I’m not questioning it. Just embracing.

#17 – X-Factor 67

Whilce Portacio kills in this issue. My copy of this was traced about a thousand times – and afterwards I was still not much of a better artist. However what sells this story on top of that are 1) Inhumans 2) Apocalypse before he became ’90s played out 3) Portacio’s Iceman was the best 4) Shinobi Shaw.

I guess this is father v. son week in the summer hundred, because I can’t think of a better “Hey dad!” moment then Shinobi Shaw buying out his father’s company, ruining his financial profile, implying that his colleague (a fat fat gross dude by the name of Harry Leland) was his actual father… and then using his mutant ability to give him a heartattack.

Talk about angst.

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The Legion of the Night.

If you know me, you know I have a love of all things 1970’s Marvel horror comics (technically it’s a love for old horror comics in general, but for the purposes of this post…).

Tomb Of Dracula, Werewolf By Night, etc. Love’ em.

So naturally whenever Marvel decides to try it’s semi-annual revamp of the horror line, I’m interested. Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s a miss, and sometimes it just slips under the radar entirely. Which was the case with the 1991 2 issue miniseries The Legion of The Night.

Looking at it now, you’d think it’d have been a bigger deal. A group of 2nd tier Marvel horror comic characters (plus Marvel horror mainstay Jennifer Kale and a new character called Omen) teaming up to stop a cult trying to release a demon and destroy the world, written by comics legend and Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber, and drawn by an up and coming Whilce Portacio… not only is that an all star creative team, but that’s the type of concept that, had it come out 10-12 years later, would have been eaten up like hotcakes.

Alas, it was not the case, and the Legion quietly vanished without a trace after these 2 issues.

Of course, when your world destroying demon turns out to be a grim and grittied up version of THIS guy…

…it might be a little hard to get taken seriously, no matter how good your story actually is.

I mean, I get a kick out of Fin Fang Foom as much as the next guy, but if you ask me, a hundred something year old underwear sporting alien pretending to be a dragon is much better served playing the disgruntled straight man in comedy stories like this:

Don’t get me wrong, awkward revamp of Fin Fang Foom aside, The Legion of the Night was still a good read. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Legion getting another shot somewhere down the line.

Just not fighting an underpants dragon.

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We Who Are About To Die.

Remember when you were a kid still young enough to play with toys, but also old enough to make sure that your super heroes and GI Joes died whenever you created an adventure for them?

Strikeforce: Morituri was basically the sci-fi comic book version of that. Only much cooler, and with actual thought behind it (unlike say, the time a certain little kid version of myself cut off a M.U.S.C.L.E.’s head with scissors because I arbitrarily decided he had been decapitated by that one M.U.S.C.L.E. with the pliers for hands… I was a weird kid).

S:M’s concept was that, in the future, Earth is at war with a vicious alien race called the Horde. In order to stand a chance, the Earth’s government starts using a super power producing treatment called the Morituri Process to create superhuman soldiers to fight the technologically advanced invaders. The only catch is, if you survive the process, you explode within a year.

I just want to repeat that.

You explode. Within a year.
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WHAT A GREAT FREAKING CONCEPT!!!

Alien fighting superheroes who EXPLODE IN A YEAR. That’s seriously genius.

See those guys on the cover? They didn’t even live through the issue.

You’d think with such a high turn over rate, it would be hard for the book to avoid dwelling in morbidity, or to create any decent characterization. But S:M cleared both those hurdles with air to spare. That was one of the things that made it so great.

And it helped that, in addition to it’s co-creator and regular artist for the majority of it’s run being the awesome Brent Anderson (of Astro City fame), that it also featured early work from Whilce Portacio and Mark Bagley. That’s three all star artists right there.

Sadly, unlike the majority of it’s titular characters, S:M ended with a whimper rather than a bang. The Morituri Effect was cancelled out by an alien virus, and in a depressingly obvious deus ex machina, a DIFFERENT alien race showed up at the end of the series, wiped out the Horde, and vanished.

Obviously, this isn’t the ending Morituri fans were probably looking for, and there were still some loose ends to tie up, so a few months later Marvel put out a 5 issue bookshelf style mini series that took place 10 years after the end of the original series.

This wrapped things up a little more neatly, as the surviving Morituri dodge what appear to be a new generation of killer Morituri, and deal with what exactly had happened to the aliens that defeated the Horde.

Sadly, Strikeforce: Morituri has never been collected; most likely due to conflicts between Marvel and series co-creator and writer Peter B Gillis over ownership of the series, conflicts which scuttled a proposed tv series based on the comic back in 2003.

Fortunately, back issues are cheap and plentiful…


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