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Friday, July 25, 2014

My Week in Comics: Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1


Titan Comics recently acquired the Doctor Who license from IDW Publishing, and they lost no time taking advantage it with not just one but two comic book releases starring two fan-favorite Doctors: namely, the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors! Since Eleven is my Doctor, I chose to pick up his title, Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1, where Eleven teams up with a down-on-her-luck library assistant to hunt down a giant alien dog running around London that feeds off of negative emotions!

Writers Al Ewing and Rob Williams spin a pretty straightforward adventure yarn that tread on some familiar Doctah-meets-companion territory, but it makes up for it with some touching drama. Eleven takes a break from catching the alien dog because he noticed that Alice Obiefune (the aforementioned library assistant) is having a really bad day, and what follows is a heartwarming moment that fits the Eleventh Doctor's character really well. Eleven is the type that would want to cheer everyone up (see The Christmas Carol), and it's nostalgic to see him do so here. When the alien dog's hunger for bad vibes brings it to the House of Commons (hah!), it will take the Doctor's wits and Alice's courage to save the day, and exactly how they do will tug at a heartstring or two, I guarantee it!

The art is great. Comic books based on real people have their work cut out for them, and I do admit I wasn't feeling Simon Fraser's art style at first, especially his rendition of Matt Smith as Eleven (and I don't blame him. Matt's look is pretty unique). But Fraser's strength lies in giving both action and drama the amount of energy they need to pop off the page, and he does captures Matt Smith's slapstick and physical humor to a tee. When a comic book makes you miss Matt's turn as the Doctor, you know it's good! There are also two back-up comics after the main story, a funny and cute story made by using Titan's vinyl Mini-Figures (brilliant use of merchandising!) and a cute and funny Pond Life-style one-pager starring the Ponds (with River Song!) written and drawn by Marc Ellerby that gives you a bit more bang for your buck. More of those types of extras, please.

With a fun premise and the promise of an interesting story arc, Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1 is a fantastic comic that captures the spirit of the show and its star quite well, and is the better book of Titan Comics' Doctor Who releases. Fans craving for more of Eleven's adventures would do well to pick this up. This gets a 4 out of 5.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Arrow WON'T be in Batman v Superman, The Universe Hates Us

Let's face it, CW's Arrow is amazing, and with the hype surrounding DC's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (League), it's a no-brainer that the show's Oliver Queen (played by Stephen Amell) appearing in that film would have been amazing as well (and would have finally made me watch it).

But alas, even Oliver's saying "Don't get your hopes up."


That's from Stephen Amell's Facebook page, where he says, quite definitively, that he won't be in Batman v Superman.
Hey Guys -- I appreciate all the support and enthusiasm, but not everything I post is a cryptic indicator that I'm going to be in Batman V Superman. I'm not going to be in Batman V Superman.

Which is a shame, since Amell's gritty and intense portrayal of Oliver Queen/The Arrow has all the critics raving and would have been a perfect fit for the grimdark of the post-Man of Steel DC Cinematic Universe. It doesn't even have to be a supporting role...he could have been just a cool cameo!

Amell does go on to say in the comments that him not appearing in Batman v Superman "boils down to logistics" and not because DC thinks he's not cut to be Green Arrow in the movie. That doesn't make the news any easier to take, though we can at least console ourselves with the fact that we still have a show whose star is just as badass as the character he's portraying.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cardboard Godzilla 2014 is Glorious



If you think you know your way around cardboard, think again. A 20-year-old student from Taiwan named Kai-Xiang Xhong created an amazing Godzilla (the 2014 version) sculpture out of corrugated board, glue and lots of gumption!

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Week in Comics: The Empty Man #1

There's something inherently scary about the unknown, and the team of Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. Del Rey taps into that fear to bring us The Empty Man #1.

Cullen Bunn (writer of my favorite comic The Sixth Gun) goes Boom! with a horror story that's part Contagion, part Dreamcatcher. resulting in the type of comic you shouldn't be reading alone at night. When FBI-CDC Agent Walter Langford is called to the scene of the latest Empty Man victim, he gets more than he bargained for when he nabs a member of a group called the Witnesses who seems to know a lot  more about The Empty Man than he's letting on. And if the last page is any indication, we might not need to wait that long to find out!

I like how Cullen doesn't delve much into The Empty Man phenomenon, choosing instead to pepper the book with subtle hints of how absolutely horrible it is, and it comes across as very effective. You wanna know what it is about The Empty Man that spawned cults and crazies and pastors saying the end is nigh, but all we know is that it's a 'disease' that leaves a trail of bodies and blood and nobody really knows where it came from and how it starts. Anyone can be a victim, and for our poor characters, that's not even the scariest part.

Arist Vanesa R. Del Rey delivers some really stellar work in The Empty Man. Her sketch-like style lends an uneasy, frenzied atmosphere to the book, like there's something sinister scratching at the surface of the seemingly mundane, and the gory scenes are unsettling in its effectiveness. Colorist Michael Garland accents that with muted, almost drab colors that only pop bright red in the presence of glistening blood. There's something to be said about a book that already has me in suspense without having read a single word balloon!

To be honest, I'm not really much into horror, or maybe I haven't seen one that tickles my fancy the way this first issue does. What you don't know might just kill you, but what I do know is that The Empty Man #1 is chillingly good. This gets a 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

NexCon Thoughts and Stuff


It says a lot about NexCon, the sci-fi/fantasy convention that happened last weekend, that I had serious convention withdrawal symptoms. I had the chance to finally cosplay as the Eleventh Doctor in a con where people would know who I am...who wouldn't have it? It's been days and I'm still feeling the effects from all the pictures and the discussions and the basic fandom glee that still permeates the air and makes me long for another go at it.

So after a few days of letting it all sink in, here are a couple of thoughts I had about NexCon:

- I bought a Gold pass, which allowed me full access to all of NexCon's activities for two days, and personally I think that's the only price point worth paying for. The Bronze just lets you into the dealer's booths, which weren't that plentiful to begin with, and the Silver gets you everywhere just for one day. And you'd want to go both days for the discussion panels, which is actually what you're paying all your hard-earned cash for.

- Now that I think about it, they should have added more stuff to see with the Bronze pass, just to make it more enticing. You'd want a lot of casual con-goers paying to go in. But as it is, Bronze pass holders only get to see dealers booths and...zip. Can't join the trivia contests, panels, nada. There's no incentive to even buy one, and paying Php400 more to upgrade to Silver would be daunting to anyone in this economy. The event was already as niche as it is...it would have been awesome if people who weren't really into genre fandoms had as much fun as we had, maybe with some small yet awesome activities they can participate in (like a mini-Geekfight!), even if they paid the very basic price. And yes, I've thought about this way too hard.

- The event was sparsely attended, which made me a bit worried, but somebody described the event as an 'intimate gathering', which is actually spot-on. The attendees NexCon did have were passionate about what they loved, whether it was Star Wars or Doctor Who. They weren't just there to go to a con...they were there to celebrate their fandoms with each other, and it showed. I even made new friends in there!

- Makes me wonder, though...why didn't NexCon grab the attention of the con-going community? It was advertised to hell and back in TV, radio and the barrage of reminders on Facebook, and yet all I could call it is an 'intimate gathering'? Is it because a major con was only a couple of weeks away and people were saving up for that? Is it the timing? Was it not advertised enough? Were people scared of the ticket price points offered? I guess we may never know, but the knowledge of it might help make NexCon better in the future.

- The discussion panels were cool. I didn't get to go to the Meet the Taleweavers panel, but I didn't miss the Cinema Fantastica and Komiks Reborn panels. Cinema Fantastica in particular was a high point of NexCon, with ideas and discussions about Pinoy sci-fi/fantasy from the best and brightest minds of Philippine cinema flowing like good wine. It was awesome hearing from film historian Teddy Co about our very own Pinoy sci-fi/fantasy movies (did you know we've had Pinoy sci-fi films since the 1930s?!), and Erik Matti showing concept art for the sequel to his Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles was cool. It was also there that I found out that there are people outside the country, from the U.S.A. to Scandinavia, who were fans of our old sci-fi/fantasy films like Darna! Imagine that! I learned a lot from that panel. More of that please.


- The Komiks Reborn panel was criminally short. You've got guys like Carlo Vergara (creator of ZsaZsa Zaturnnah), Leinil Yu (Avengers artist) and the legendary Danny Acuña talking about the history and the future of comics and you end the panel in one hour? Sir Danny's stories alone would need more than that! Speaking of whom, Danny Acuña had a ton of interesting things to say (and he dominated the panel's running time because of it. I don't envy the guy who had to moderate him!), including his thoughts on why Pinoy komiks is in its current "zombified" (as Lyndon Gregorio put it) state, instead of being as huge as it was during his heyday. I really wished there was more time for the panel, as I wanted to ask their thoughts on what it would take for Pinoy komiks to be popular again.

- It was my first time to see GeekFight (in it's 5th year!) in all its grandeur, and the fact that they've got like fifteen teams answering obscure trivia made for a hilariously good time. I'm still beating myself up for not joining despite the fact that I know tons of useless information. But like I said, I hope next time the peeps with the Bronze passes can get in on the fun as well.

- Can I just say that I'm freakin' proud of my female friends over at Whovian Philippines for making local fandom history by pulling off an almost complete roster of genderbent Doctors? They've planned this for the past few months after seeing pics of genderbent Doctors in overseas conventions, and the fruit of their labor is nothing short of glorious.


- We might have accidentally dominated cosplay during NexCon's first day, what with thirteen (THIRTEEN!) Fem!Doctors and Clara Oswalds and Amy Ponds and Fem!Jack Harkness and Fem!Ianto, but to be honest there weren't that many people cosplaying during the first day. There weren't that many people during the first day either. But the second day of NexCon exploded with cosplay and in effect drew more people to the con, which was nice. There were X-Men there from the new movie, and Jaegers from Pacific Rim, basically lots of eye candy. The main cosplay competition (called Cosplay Rumble) was in the second day, which probably accounted for the increase in attendance. Goes to show just how popular (and important) cosplay is for conventions right now. Would a convention survive without a focus on cosplay, I wonder?

- NexCon Rocks! (the concert at the end of the event that featured Stereodeal, Peso Movement and Paranoid City) was a pretty neat idea. What better way to end a con than to rock out to awesome music (especially when guys like Stereodeal covered the Doctor Who theme song)?

A lot of things could be forgiven in NexCon, since it's their first time out. Everything was handled modestly, which made for a very cosy event. NexCon not being as popular as it should have been can't be helped, despite NexCon being pushed hard for the past few months. I guess the community isn't quite ready for a convention like this just yet.

If anything, NexCon succeeded in one thing: giving sci-fi and fantasy fans here in the Philippines a place to get together with like-minded people and really celebrate their fandoms. The format works. I should know, my friends and I (shout out to the peeps of Whovian Philippines!) had loads of fun, more fun than we were allowed to have. And I'd pay good money to have that kind of fun again.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

4 Reasons Why I Want NEXCON to Succeed


NexCon Manila, touted as "the ultimate celebration of all things science fiction and fantasy", is a week away, and I'm cautiously optimistic. Genre conventions here in the Philippines that aren't anime- or cosplay-centric are few and far between, and what little we do get often fizzle out, never to be heard from again (except for legacy cons like Komikon).

But my nervousness hides the fact that I think NexCon is the hottest thing since sliced bread. Not even joking. Never have I ever wanted a convention to succeed as I do right now. And I have four good reasons why I desperately want it to:

IT'S A WESTERN-STYLE CONVENTION

I've always envied my Western brethren with their SDCCs and NYCCs, with fans paying major cash to go to a convention where they get to see their comic book and movie idols live and even talk to them via panel discussions and the like. NexCon will be offering the same thing in its CINEMA FANTASTICA, MEET THE TALEWEAVERS and KOMIKS REBORN panels that will feature some of the most popular writers, komikeros and directors in the industry. Guys like Marvel artist Leinel Yu and On the Job director Erik Matti in one place talking about their passions? That's something worth paying good money for. Which brings me to my next point...


YOUR ENTRANCE FEE IS ACTUALLY PAYING FOR SOMETHING

I remember one time paying for a convention's entrance fee just to get in, since I was curious at what the con had to offer and also had to meet with friends. After an hour of walking around and not finding anything, I walked out and realized I just payed good money to walk around for a couple of minutes.

NexCon's entrance fees include panel discussions, trivia contests, cosplay and more, and you can choose which ones to opt into when you pay. You're not just paying to get inside a con anymore...you're getting something good out of your well-earned cash. It's that kind of 'bang for your buck' mentality that I wish more conventions here have.

And speaking of things I wish we had more of...
 

SCI-FI/FANTASY NEEDS ITS TIME IN THE PINOY SPOTLIGHT

Anime and cosplay conventions abound here in the Philippines, and while I'm as much an anime fan as a comic book fan (I used to be a common sight in anime conventions during my time as a writer for HeroTV), sometimes too much of the same thing gets stale fast. NexCon is awesome because it's focused on fantasy and sci-fi from TV and film, something the convention scene hasn't seen in a long while, which I hope NexCon remedies. I've seen the passion people here have for their fandoms, from Sherlock to Star Wars, from komiks to Doctor Who, and I feel there should be a con we could actually call our own.

But the most important reason why I want NexCon to succeed is simple:


IT'S DIFFERENT

I've been going to cons for the past decade, and I've seen enough of the same conventions to last me a lifetime.  I think the Philippine fan convention scene needs something different, and a purely sci-fi and fantasy convention might do just the trick. It's a risk, surely, but the idea of a new bar being set for conventions in the country is enough to make me excited for what the future brings!


It's hard to manage expectations when a convention like NexCon is just around the corner. As we speak my Eleventh Doctor costume is itching to be worn among friends and fellow fans...and I'm hoping there would be more NexCons for me to do so!

Now repeat after me: pleasebeawesomepleasebeawesomepleasebeawesome...


...or I could go there and make it so. :)


NexCon Manila happens this May 31 to June 1, 2014 at the Bayanihan Center, Pasig City, Philippines. Tons more info about their activities over at their official site.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Four Things from the New GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Trailer

So Marvel has unleashed the new Guardians of the Galaxy trailer upon us, and it's fueled not only the hype train but the speculation train as well. Aside from making me froth at the mouth for the premiere, it also shed some light into some interesting things about the upcoming movie. Well, four things to be exact!

BATISTA AS DRAX!

Sure the trailer had lots of fantastic imagery, but I kept going back to that big brute with knives Drax, played by Dave Bautista, also known as the WWE wrestler Batista. He was one of my favorite wrestlers in my impressionable teen years, so to see him get equal screen time with a cast that's brimming with heavyweights like Academy Award-winner Benicio del Toro and Academy Award nominees like Glenn Close and Bradley Cooper is amazing!

KNOWHERE!

Comic book fans' eyes probably went wide at the sight of that gigantic floating head in the trailer, and for good reason: it's a reference to Knowhere, the Guardians of the Galaxy's headquarters in the comics! First appearing in Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's Nova #8, Knowhere is awesome by virtue that it's the decapitated head of a Celestial, one of the biggest and most powerful races in Marvel's cosmic pantheon. The jury's out whether the head in the trailer is of a Celestial or if there is such a thing as a Celestial in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the fact that they put it in there is making me giddy!

RONAN!

We finally see a clear shot of Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, Kree bad ass and main baddie of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Despite ditching his green threads for bad-guy black, the Universal Weapon hammer that Pace is wielding is undeniably Ronan's! It's accusin' time!

INFINITY GEM?!

One blink-and-you-miss-it shot in the trailer showed someone's hand (possibly Ronan's?) grasping strange purple energy. Given that the Collector (Benicio del Toro) is in the movie, and given that one of the Infinity Gems in the comics is colored purple, could it be possible that that energy thing is one of the Infinity "Gems" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Only time will tell.


Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is quite the gamble for Marvel, what with all the relatively unknown characters, but the awesome stuff we saw in the trailer gives me hope that we're about to see Marvel's cosmic renaissance very soon.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters August 1, 2014.
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