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Friday, May 28, 2010

My Week in Comics: May 28, 2010

It's another Week in Comics, and it's an awesome one. My picture is still not part of that I Am An Avenger photomosaic insert, which makes me wonder if Filipinos aren't allowed to be an Avenger. But I digress. Let's see what I got myself into this week!


Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2 has our Caped Crusader shunted into the paranoid, witch-hunting age of the Pilgrims. For a hero who uses his influence to strike fear into the superstitious and cowardly, you’d imagine what sorts of mayhem he could cause in the most superstitious age of them all!

It’s another solid issue that shows Batman as a noble and efficient hero no matter what the era. Seeing him use real detective work (as opposed to using your clout to declare someone guilty just by pointing fingers as they were wont to do during the witch hunts) to invoke rational fear into a suspect who’s so used to blaming the devil for bad things happening is classic. It's also revealed that Darkseid did not only fail to kill Batman during the events of Final Crisis, but he also knew that he couldn't so instead he turned Batman into a doomsday device that will destroy the universe as we know it if he ever makes it back to the 21st century! And Batman goes 'Suck it, I'm coming home.' anyway! Balls of Batman, indeed.

If Batman (the same Batman that wasn't killed by Darkseid's Omega Sanction. Better recognize.) wearing a pilgrim hat solving crimes in a superstitious era while macking on witches while travelling through time doesn't do it for you, I don't think you're in the right hobby. This is a Batman I'd love to read about. A solid 4 out of 5.


Secret Avengers #1 by Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato hit the stores this week, and it proved itself worthy of becoming the only Avengers book worth picking up.

Here, Steve Rogers (top cop of the world, natch) has assembled (get it?) a covert team of heroes to take a more proactive stance to evil, eliminating threats before they get worse. Steve and I seem to have different definitions for covert, since I don’t think a team that has War Machine and Nova, both powerhouse heroes that rip open Skrull battleships in their spare time, constitutes as a quiet team. But that’s just me.

It’s not everyday that you make the Avengers into an espionage-y lot, but Brubaker makes it work here, using their talents (and their charms, as is the case with the women drawn by Deodato) to get the job done as efficiently as possible. This is a team book that reads like a damn team, and by the time the shocking reveal hits you at the end (and what a reveal it is!), you’re hooked. Not having to read Bendis’ lame one-liners is enough for me to give this a 4 out of 5. Drop the other Avengers books and pick this one up. You won’t regret it at all.


And so we come to Neko Ramen vol 1, the very first manga entry here in My Week in Comics! I admit I’m coming into this biased, as I have a severely soft spot for cats (especially white kitty cats), but with that bias comes severely high expectations. So is Neko Ramen any good?

It is. Oh for the love of all that is holy, it is.

Kenji Sonishi takes the concept of a white cat that owns a ramen shop and just runs with it, giving us not only an absolutely funny manga, but also a very relate-able character in Taisho, the eponymous cat living his dream of running a successful ramen shop. This yonkoma manga is filled to the brim with cat and food comedy, as well as a whole lot of d’aww-inducing heartwarming you’d expect from a cute kitty cat cooking noodles in a ramen shop!

I admit that, like most manga, this may not be for everyone. People who don’t find anything funny about a cat that runs a ramen shop (read: the recently deceased) won’t get a chuckle out of this. And since the book is chock full of references to food and Japanese culture, I understand if people might find it a bit confusing. Fortunately, the staff who worked on translating this for English-speaking audiences did a great job making this book as accessible as possible, while maintaining its undeniably Japanese feel. Good job, Tokyopop!

I don’t want to spoil too much. That’s how much I believe in this book. It’s an adorable book bursting with kitty cat goodness. I was laughing, I was crying, I was crying while I was laughing…I’ve never been moved this much by a manga before! This deserves a 6 out of 5. Yes, one point more than the perfect grade. That’s how Taisho rolls. Pick this up now!


That's it for My Week in Comics. Order up and pick up that Neko Ramen manga now! I cannot stress it enough! Agree? Disagree? Think there's a cuter kitty cat than Taisho? Leave me a comment and let's discuss! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Sci-Fi a Day is Everyday Awesome!


Just discovered this via Newsarama. A whole portal of sci-fi webcomics for your viewing pleasure! Yay for new reading material!

It's called Space Dock 7, a webcomic initiative launched just this week that boasts of a stable of seven imaginative sci-fi webcomics, one for each day of the week. I'm liking what I've seen so far (Escape from Planet Nowhere and Dimension Dust in particular were bookmarked so hard.), and based on the names attached to each of the webcomics (Grant Gould is here! Yay!), it's going to be awesome. I love sci-fi comics, and if they're as great and as awesomely illustrated as these, expect me to keep coming back every single day.

Check out their site for the links, as well as news and extras! Remember, it's http://www.spacedock7.com!

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Week in Comics: May 21, 2010

The Heroic Age is officially underway! Which one of you guys were included in the giant photomosaic in Avengers #1? I was there, hidden in the big A of the Avengers logo! Or at least, I think it's me. The cheek is unmistakable! But I digress...it's time for the most verbose comic book reviews around! Let's see what I got myself into this week!

Invincible Iron Man #26 is setting up for something big, with Spymaster arriving in the title, the Hammer women selling Stark tech to (who else?) terrorists, and Iron Man slowly transforming into the dick he was before. It's all good, a set-up issue and nothing more, but with interest from Iron Man 2 funneling into this book, more Iron Man screen time wouldn't hurt. With me figuring out which comics to drop, Invincible Iron Man needs to hold my attention longer than this. A 2.5 out of 5.


Zatanna gets her first solo book ever in Zatanna #1, courtesy of Paul Dini, Stephane Roux and Karl Story. It's got everything I love about first issues: a strong set up on who the character is and what she does, gorgeous art (Stephane's Zatanna is gorgeous. You fall in love, you lose indeed...and by god, you will lose.), and a strong hook at the end that will get you buying the next issue sight unseen. It stands testament to the book's strength that I, someone who only has passing familiarity with the character courtesy of her appearances in Identity Crisis and others, already knows just as much as the true fans of the character because of this one issue.

My only quibble is that I feel iffy about the very first page that features a splash of her gagged and bound, about to be literally drilled from behind by actors dressed up as villains that include Dr. Light of all people, as part of her stage act. I dunno, I just feel that it makes Zatanna look like she's trivializing the history between her and Light, given the circumstances. Maybe I'm thinking about it too much, but for someone who's been reading comings for so long, details like that are hard to ignore. For people who haven't been reading that long, it's just a sexy and funny panel in a sexy and fun issue. This one's a 4 out of 5. If you don't physically have this book in your hands, rectify that situation now.


And so we come to Avengers #1, an all-new Heroic Age reboot of the supposed flagship Avenger title courtesy of Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita, Jr. Siege has come and gone, and the world is oncea gain embracing the concept of heroes being, well, heroes. And because of that, Captain Steve Rogers (top cop of the world, natch) decides to assemble the best and brightest heroes to serve as the shining examples of heroism. Cue Kang the Conqueror knocking on their doorstep demanding that they help him stop a dark and depressing future ruled by...the Avengers' children?

Yes folks. If you're one of the lucky few who bought Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, one of Marvel's direct-to-DVD animated movies, you're in luck as it seems that Bendis has inserted DVD-only characters into the Marvel Universe (the first time this has ever happened, if memory serves me right).

I didn't buy this to give Bendis one more chance (as I have had enough of Bendis-run Marvel), but to see how he sets up the Heroic Age with the top superteam of the Marvel U. And once again, Bendis proves me right by coming out with a woefully mediocre book. Almost every line in it seems forced and out-of-place, as if Bendis was channeling some good old-fashioned Avengers style storytelling, but he failed miserably. And never have I hated to read Spider-Man as much as I did here. John Romita Jr.'s art didn't help matters, with a scritch-scratchy art that left almost every panel a muddled mess. I honestly don't get the people saying this is 'strong and dynamic' art. When you can make Spider-Woman so grossly unappealing, there's something wrong with you.

I came in with the lowest of expectations, and even that wasn't met. Such a sad, sad state of affairs that this will probably be a top-selling book, giving Marvel the idea that people want more of this cross-hatchy, mediocre mess. 1.5 out of 5. Thank the cover of all things (I bought the simple white cover with the Avengers logo on it. Clean, unlike the inside of the book) for saving you from the failing grade.


More reasons for me to switch to DC. Step up, Marvel! Anyway, if you have questions or violent reactions to my review, leave a comment and let's discuss...like gentlemen. Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Week in Comics: May 14, 2010.

It's a feel good week for comics, with just one bad apple among the bunch. Let's see what I got myself into this week!


Let me just get this out of the way first. Siege #4. An event book that Marvel boasted to be 'an event seven years in the making', and in the end, Sentry went out like a bitch, and there was so much plot handwaving going on I could have sworn a breeze went up...you know what? Bendis obviously didn't put much effort here, so I won't either. 1.5 out of 5. Steer the fuck clear from this book. Thank Oliver Coipiel's awesome pencils for saving you from a dismal grade.


Okay, let's move on. If you recall the last panel of Final Crisis #8, it seems that Darkseid's Omega beams didn't kill the Batman, and instead shunted him through time, ending up in prehistory! And in the 'now' we have Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1, the time-spanning book that sees Bruce Wayne trying to make his way to the present as only the goddamn Batman can. Here, Bruce has to contend with crazy ass cavemen, bat worshippers, and a surprise appearance from his 'super friends' that portends the end of the universe as we know it!

As expected of Grant Morrison, he ties this issue's plot points into future stories so well he'd earn a merit badge. You can't help but go 'Oh, so that's where it came from!' with every turn of the page. This is Batman literally creating his own mythos, and though this has the potential to become very retarded, it's a fun and action-packed read, if only a little confusing. This is a 4 out of 5.


Sue me, I loved Flash #2. I read the first issue and it was just chockful of good, clean comic book fun, and the second issue offers up another generous serving. In this issue, Barry encounters some time travelling Rogues, who are apparently good guys and cops from the future....and they're here to bring down Barry's ass for murdering one of their officers!

I've never read about the Flash before this, so it's actually refreshing for me to see him in action, and he didn't disappoint. Francis Manapul's rendition of Flash's fight with the Future Rogues was exciting and well-done, demonstrating that he can handle a fight between bad guys and a man who can run 'from zero to sonic boom in 0 seconds" and handle it well. And to be honest, I geeked out seeing him rebuild an apartment building from scratch with his super speed. Gah, that's fucking awesome!

This issue paints the Flash (and his alter-ego Barry Allen) in a very favorable light. This is a guy who wants to do the right thing, a guy who wants to be a real hero. No other superhero comic I'm reading right now has a character with that sort of noble purpose, and I'm loving this book for it. If not for the weird color errors that threw me off in the end, this would have gotten a perfect grade. As it is, it's a 4 out of 5.


Well, thanks to Bendis, I'll never trust Marvel again. Too bad, since with Nova and Siege done, and with the main Avengers book being written by him, my pull list just got cut down significantly. I guess DC is gonna keep me company from now on!

That's it for this Week in Comics. Agree? Disagree? Leave me a comment via the comment box below and let's discuss. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Top 5 Frank Frazetta Facts

Last Tuesday we lost a great man. Frank Frazetta, a name synonymous with fantasy art, died at the age of 82. Fortunately he lived a full life, churning out some of the most iconic fantasy imagery of our time. His personal life was also as colorful as the paintings he did, a life I thought to honor by giving you guys the top 5 facts we know about the man known as "The Master."

Without further ado, I compiled and ranked some of the most amazing facts about Frank Frazetta...so you won't have to!


5. Child Prodigy

When I was eight years old, I couldn’t draw worth crap. To me people had three sticks for fingers, no noses, and scribbles for hair. For eight year old Frank Frazetta, drawing was literally child’s play.

The story goes that when Frank was eight years old, people saw his potential for art, so his parents sent him to study at the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts. It was there that he met his teacher Michael Falanga, an award-winning Italian artist. Falanga probably turned his snooty nose up at this upstart, a boy who at this stage in his life should be playing XBox in his living room all day.

Lots of kids whose parents thought their boy was ‘hot stuff’ probably came and went under Falanga’s watch, only to be found wanting. So when Falanga first met little Frank, he wasn't impressed. So he tested him, giving the boy some paper and pencils and made him copy a postcard depicting a group of ducks. When Falanga came back to check on the kid half an hour later, he looked at Frazetta’s drawing…and flipped his lid. It’s been said that Falanga grabbed the drawing and ran like a crazy dude down the school’s halls shouting “Mama Mia! We have a genius here!”

I dare you to find another eight year old that made an award-winning artist’s head explode with the awesomeness of a pencil drawing.


4. Man's Man

Let’s be honest, writing and drawing for comic books probably is in the lowest scale of things that need any sort of physical effort. It’s a wonder then that during Frank Frazetta’s peak, he was the most chiseled artist alive.


Look at this man. He’s got more muscles than an artist knows what to do with. He probably drew near his window shirtless in his spare time just to hear the sound of swooning women dropping on the pavement outside.

Speaking of women, Frazetta was also ladies man, with some of the most beautiful women in town becoming willing slaves to his rippled abs and pecs. But then he met 17-year-old Eleanor “Ellie” Kelly, and he never looked back. Frank once said, "I sensed that she would be forever loyal and I never ever had that feeling about any other girl I'd been involved with.” And true enough, despite being a hot chunk of beefcake who could have his way with any woman he wanted, Frank married Ellie in 1956 and stayed loyal to her his entire life. Now that's a real man.


3. Mighty Ballplayer

It wasn’t enough that Frazetta was born with the innate ability to draw the hell out of anything. He was good at baseball too. Not just good in the ‘Hey, I hitted the ball when I swung this here bat!’ kind of good. He was so good at baseball that, when he was a teenager, he was scouted by the New York Giants, one of the biggest baseball teams in the U.S. at the time. Unfortunately for baseball and fortunately for us, Frank thought that sweating it out in the Minors was too big of a hassle, so he stuck to his art!


2. Ambidextrous

During Frazetta’s later years, his health problems came to a head when he suffered a series of strokes, leaving the right side of his body paralyzed. It’s was probably no big deal for a man like Frazetta, except for the fact that he made his living drawing and painting with his right hand.

For any lesser man, it would spell the end of the world. But this is Frazetta we’re talking about, sirs. He figured, I've been kicking all sorts of ass painting with my right hand, why not level the playing field? And so he went and trained himself to paint using his left hand… to the point that he became just as good at painting with it as his right!

Now that’s all sorts of messed up! Most of us would use our dominant hand all our lives for precision dexterity like handwriting and painting, with our weak hand not seeing action ever. Frazetta not only relearned his uber hax painting skills (in his freaking 70's, no less!) using the hand he’s never used up to that point, he also made life his bitch, proving that you can do anything if you set your mind to it.


1. HE DID IT HIS WAY

It's hard to do what you want to do in the comic book industry these days. Editorial mandates and fickle-minded fans makes it profitable to play it safe, with recycled events and sticking with art styles that work without doing anything new.

But Frank Frazetta didn't bother listening to anyone telling him what to do or how to do it, or how he can't do what he wants to do. He just went and did it. His style wasn't very popular early on, but he kept on going, developing and learning his own personal style. Now, his distinctive brush strokes, his voluptuous women, his bare-chested men breaking the skulls of otherworldly creatures, all scream his name to the high heavens, and no one can mistake that voice as anything but Frazetta.

Frazetta himself said it best: "Good or bad, the one thing I can say about my art is, if I can quote Sinatra, I did it my way."


Those are the top 5 Frank Frazetta facts as ranked by yours truly. Thank you for everything, Master Frazetta, we won’t forget you!

If you know of any more facts, or just want to talk about Frazetta, leave a comment and let's discuss. Thanks for reading!



For those who want to know more about the man known as Frank Frazetta, check out these useful and fantastic links:
http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/fantasy/Frank-Frazetta.html
http://www.tcj.com/interviews/frank-frazetta-interview

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

RIP Frank Frazetta


Reports are in that Frank Frazetta, legendary artist whose work practically defined the imagery of high fantasy and science fiction, died of a stroke today. He was 82.

My friend over at the Killah Kamikaze blog would be heartbroken with this news. We were both big fans, and our favorite pieces of art from Frazetta was his Death Dealer paintings. I admired how his work married gritty realism with stylish elegance; his musclebound men and scantily-clad women may have their skin caked with blood and dirt, skulking around in old caves and dungeons, but they'll look classier than any nobleman.

Frazetta has left behind a legacy of incalculable awesomeness, and the realm of high fantasy will never be the same without him.

Rest in Peace, Master Frazetta. I'll leave you with a quote I found that seems awfully apt.

"Today is the passing of kings. Aye, and more than kings."
- Robert E. Howard


Monday, May 03, 2010

Iron Man 2 Movie Review

[SPOILER ALERT!]

It seemed everyone and their dog was waiting for Iron Man 2. All the toys, the shirts, the Java games, all of them were just there to pave the streets for the arrival of one of the most anticipated comic book movies of the year, if not of this very decade.


But when I got out of the cinema after watching Iron Man 2, all I could think of was "It was...okay."

A movie of this caliber is not supposed to be 'just okay'. Hell, anything in life for that matter is not supposed to be 'just okay'. But after the explosions and the ScarJo and the nerdgasms I got seeing War Machine come to life on the big screen, I admit...it could have been better.

Justin Hammer just became a means to an end. Black Widow was just there to look hot. Nick Fury was just channeling Shaft. And Whiplash, despite having a motive so powerful and almost justified, was reduced to a one-off villain who's Big Plan to bring down Stark Industries amounted to a couple of cut up F1 race cars and robot drones reduced to scrap heap by a powerhouse team up of Iron Man and War Machine.

You never even get to sympathize with Stark here despite the threats to his company's name and to his very life knocking on all doors. Everything is just neatly resolved (at one point Stark creates an entirely new element from scratch.. The box of scraps from the cave are feeling like shit right now), and Stark picks up the pieces of his shattered life just in time to bust up some bad guys in the Mark VI armor.

But it's not all disappointing. There was still charm and awesomeness left in Iron Man 2's bucket. Stark's dicking around during the senate hearing was priceless, the tsundere banter between Stark and Pepper Potts was amusingly done, and I've never wanted to own high-tech armor so bad whenever the Mark VI and War Machine came on the screen kicking all sorts of ass. People complained there wasn't enough "iron" in the first Iron Man film, but I can safely say you better bring an extra pair of pants, especially during the climactic final battle, where Iron Man just tears everybody a new one.

It's convoluted, it's retarded, it's funny, it's awesome, it's everything all at once. All the explosions and the characters and the CGI was just there to drive the plot to its (il)logical conclusion: that Iron Man just got serious upgrades, and woe to anyone who stands in his way. Iron Man 2 is awesome in its comic book way, but as a sequel, the first movie makes it look like it never upgraded at all.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Free Comic Book Day 2010 Aftermath

I'm just gonna make this quick, since I'm still not finished reading all the comics I got from yesterday's awesome Free Comic Book Day!

Free Comic Book Day 2010
Luck seemed to be on my side yesterday, since I woke up bright and early to get to the mall before it opens! With Filipinos and their hunger for anything free, I don't want a repeat of what happened during my previous brushes with FCBD.

So I ran all the way to Comic Odyssey the moment the mall opened...and whaddaya know, I'm one of the first in line!

Free Comic Book Day 2010
I didn't get to take a picture of the line behind me but trust me...it was so long that the end point became a dark void where light can't even escape.

Minutes ticked by, and the line moved inch by inch as more people shuffled inside. A few minutes later, I sighed a huge sigh of relief as I got to their door. Finally, I get to actually grab free comics on Free Comic Book Day!

Free Comic Book Day 2010
I mentioned before that there was a sale to coincide with FCBD, and the discounts became pretty apparent when the crowd of people thumbing through the back issue bins becoming so big I had to wait a couple of minutes just to get out. I even got me some The Age of Sentry back issues for 50 pesos each, and Love Hina manga for half price! It was crazy fun.

Free Comic Book Day 2010
This was like the guy version of Midnight Madness. Ever see girls go googly-eyed at marked-down dresses and shoes as they fight over the last pair of Naturalizers? It's kind of like that, except here its dudes jostling for position to get to the X-Men section first. Some guy took a stack of back issues worth like 3,000Php in one go, while others grabbed trades and manga with the delicious discounts. People were reading their free comics and talking to fellow comic fans on the spot. Looks like FCBD was a success!

Of course, it wouldn't have been successful without the friendly LCS people manning the show. It looks like they're having fun too!

Free Comic Book Day 2010
Free comics, newly-bought comics, fans coming together to celebrate the medium they all love...you can bet that the spirit of Free Comic Book Day is alive and well. So spread the good word on comics, guys! Take out those babies and give them a good reading, then pass it on to someone you know. Who knows? You just might be looking at the next comic book fan!

Speaking of fans, how was YOUR Free Comic Book Day? Which of the free comics did you like best? (I loved Artifacts!) Did you bring some of your non-comic book reading friends with you? Let's talk about it...I really want to know!
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