Friday, January 28, 2011

My Week in Comics: January 28, 2011

Six of the most awesome comics this side of comicdom is hitting my week in comics hard! What have I gotten myself into? Read on to find out!

Age of X: Alpha hits the ground running, offering no explanations to how this dim and distant future came to be (which, according to writer Mike Carey, is deliberate). All we know is that the X-Men was never formed, so no one stood up for mutantkind when they needed it most. Now they're in hiding, hunted like rats. But a savior is in the horizon in the form of...Magneto?

Mike Carey offers up an interesting alternate history, with familiar mutant characters taking on unfamiliar roles, through a series of short stories illustrating this alternate universe. I especially liked the Scott Summers story, where he's turned into a one man firing squad under the heel of this universe's Arcade. But ultimately I could only sit on the sidelines watching everything unfold. Everything is not what it seems, and while I'm insanely curious to know why, that's all I'll ever be at this point. The saving grace to this issue is the gorgeous art supplied by artists I've never heard before: Mirco Pierfederici, Gabriel Walta, Carlo Barberi, Paco Diaz and Paul Davidson provided some truly beautiful work in this one-shot, and I'm certainly standing up to take notice. The story continues somewhere else, so good luck with that. I'll be waiting in the wings for the fallout. This gets a 3 out of 5.

Zatanna was last seen in her undies tied to a bed by a puppet (no, really). In Zatanna #9, we learn that not everything is what it seems, especially a creepy marionette with dead eyes and a creepy smile.

This ish is actually a two-fer, with half of the book focused on the current story arc, and the last half telling funny little short story about Zatanna and her adventures with braces courtesy of Adam Beechen. It's a jarring experience to just stop so abruptly barely halfway to the book, just to let DC know. I'll spare them the question of why since seeing li'l Zatanna in braces slobbering all over the place is pretty hilarious. Zatanna #9 gets a 4 out of 5.

Am I the only one creeped out by the concept of a Ms. Sinister? She makes an appearance here in X-23 #5, and even though his female version is sporting the sexy cowgirl look, I can't help but imagine deep inside he's this buff guy in a goatee who experimented on mutants. But I digress. Laura and Gambit come face to face with Ms. Sinister, apparently reformed. Can they trust her?

Writer Marjorie Liu is going someplace interesting with Sinister here, what with Gambit in Laura's tow. Their history is palpable, and I'm curious to see where Liu is headed with this. Hopefully it's to some major butt-kicking, since I'm beginning to miss some of it here. But at least we get to see Will Conrad draw a sexy Sinister! This is an easy 3 out of 5.
It's always a joy to see The Sixth Gun on my pull list whenever it comes out, and The Sixth Gun #8 is justifying my faith in this series. Becky and Sinclair are hiding out in colorful New Orleans, and we meet new characters both suave and shady. A gunfighter sets his sights on Becky's heart, while Sinclair is searching for a way to dispose of the six cursed guns. He better hurry up, because a ghastly and mysterious force is dead set on claiming those guns as her own!

You know what I noticed? Cullen Bunn is not heavy on exposition, unless it's really needed. It's all character work, and Bunn has built his characters into absolutely believable ones. Then Brian Hurtt's art brings old New Orleans to life, from its fanciful saloons to its soggy swamps. He even gives us an man versus wild (animal) fight to solidify their position as the most awesome comics this week. I don't think I've given this book a low grade...they never give me a chance to do so! This is an easy 5 out of 5.

Top Cow's big event is reaching its breaking point in Artifacts #5. New players enter the fray as Cyberforce gets recruited to mess up the gathering of the thirteen none other than Aphrodite IV!

Artifacts is running at a steady pace, and its getting exciting now that writer Ron Marz is building up to the inevitable showdown between all the major players of the event. It's been a while since I saw Cyberforce in anything relevant, so seeing them in action again is pretty cool. The art duties here as done by Whilce Portacio, twhich is well done and flows along with the story. With a continually good-looking setup, and a promise of a throwdown next issue, Artifacts #5 gets a 4 out of 5.

Speaking of throwdowns, Uncanny X-Force shows us how it's done in Uncanny X-Force #4, in what probably is the most satisfying end to a threat ever seen in comics. Ever.

We sorta complain when the resolution is too 'clean-cut'. That's it? You might ask. But you know what? In the context of what the X-Force's entire reason for being is, it works. Rick Remender's scripting and characterization just adds more flavor to this disgusting pie of violence. I've never been a fan of Deadpool and Fantomex before, thinking of them as one-note caricatures, but here Remender just pulls you in. I would be remiss to not mention Jerome Opena's sick, sick pencilwork, which has to be literally seen to be believed. Hands down, one of the most gruesomely beautiful comics of the year. Support these people, guys! This ish gets a 5 out of 5.

Wow! What a way to start the year! Awesome comics left and right...this week is a good week for a comic book fan! If you got your own thoughts about the comics I've reviewed today, hit the comments below and let's talk about it! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wizard: R.I.P.

Well, it’s official: Wizard is dead.

Or at least, the print side of it is.

News is breaking all over the internet that Wizard: The Comics Magazine has folded, closed its doors and layed off most of its staff, and has announced that they're switching to digital (oh the irony). Reactions ranged from ‘Feel's bad, man’ to ‘Good riddance’ to 'Wizard's still here?'. For me? Well, we have to go back to 1999, when this poor Filipino boy who was hungry for comics news got his hands on Wizard #98.

The day I got a Wizard was the day I became a part of a greater collective. Wizard was a godsend for me. My aunt in the US would sporadically send me issues, or wealthy friends would lend me some, and I devoured each and every issue, late stories be damned.

I read this stuff from cover to cover. The articles were informative (for its time) and freakin' hilarious. I shared Jim McLaughlin’s pain in answering all those crazy letters. Basic Training taught me how to draw better, while the gorgeous fan art over at the Drawing Board and even in the Letter Art taught me that I suck at drawing. I enjoyed answering the C.B.I.Q. (Comic Book Intelligence Quotient) quizzes, and I learned so much from all the trivia strewn all over the magazine.

I guess that’s what I’ll miss about Wizard, how they never took themselves seriously. Back then, it read like a literal fan magazine, as if it was Open Mic Night for comic book fans. And it showed. It wasn't the ugly face of 90's comics consumerism, of infantile comic book fanaticism, to me. Wizard was just this funny magazine about comics I read, and for all the negative stuff people said about the company and their business practices, I bet no one can dispute the impact Wizard had in all of us during its heyday.

Of course, the internet came, and they morphed into this larger, stapled magazine format with less articles and more Hollywood stuff, and Wizard and I just fell apart. With this sad bit of news, it's come full circle. At least I’m left with good memories and back issues of Wizard. They will say January 2011 was the end of an era. I say the era really ended when Wizard stopped being that thick, funny, perfect bound magazine.

Sending out some good luck and good vibes to all the people who lost their jobs that day, and I guess the only thing you can do to make the situation a bit lighter is to do the same. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My 11 Unrealistic Wishes for Comics in 2011

Have you ever just sat down and wished for something this year? It's been said that 'ask and you shall receive', so this is my chance to write up eleven of my heartfelt and totally unrealistic wishes for comics this 2011!

I wish...

1. ...that I have more money to buy comics.

You read right. This is my actual wish for comics...that I have money to spend on it. The more money I have, the more I have to sample comics’ wares. There are tons of good comics I passed up due to monetary concerns, and it's a damn shame.

2. ...that Terry Kavanagh, Roger Cruz and Bud LaRosa get back together for another run of X-Man.

Okay, this is more of a personal wish than anything else, but what can you do? I’m probably the only surviving fan of X-Man in the interwebs today. And while I’m happy that Nate is back in some capacity in the Marvel universe, I’d like to see the definitive X-Man creative team take another stab at this guy!

3. ...that Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk come back for more Captain Britain and the MI: 13.

4. ...that 2011’s superhero movies don’t suck.

Thor. Green Lantern. Captain America. X-Men: First Class. Their movies are right around the proverbial corner, and I really want these movies to be good. I’m hyped with every piece of preview shots/pictures/trailers that come out, but color me cautiously hopeful.

5. ...for more all-ages titles.

I really should write up a blog post about the importance of all-ages titles in a comic company’s stable. They really need more of this stuff, if only for people (like me) to escape the grittyness and violence of mainstream superheroism, because lord knows kids don’t read comics anymore.


6. ...for less comics.

What? I’m wishing for less comics? I’ve lost my mind, I have! But no, it isn’t what it sounds like. Looking back at Marvel’s catalog of titles in the 90’s, it was more focused. Titles like Avengers or Spider-Man had three or less titles. Now Batman has like six ongoings right now has and the Avengers are all over the place. Law of supply and demand, I know. But there's the altogether real problem of comic book companies cannibalizing their own profits. Let the other titles have a chance to shine.

7. ...for less ‘events’

Unrealistic since you just know they’ll do two more earth-shattering crises that will ‘change the world forever!’ just to spite you.

But hey, a guy can dream!

8. ...for less gore.

‘Nuff said.

9. ...for the Silver Age to come back.

Somebody posted a nice little blog post that called for the return of the Silver Age of comic books which I totally agreed with, but I seem to have lost it. (Anyone care to link me?) It's not what you think though. The author was calling for the return of the Silver Age creative mindset, where new ideas are pumped out month after month, be it a new villain or a new storyline or a new and crazy plot twist, instead of one idea being simmered for years. I just find that terribly exciting, and would be a good change of pace, don't you think?

10. ...for new comic book fans to come in.

I'm slowly running out of new people to talk about comics to. With Marvel's Point One Initiative and DC's sticking to a $2.99 price point, and even with Image and their Artifacts event, I really, really wish there will be new blood coming into this hobby of ours.

11. ...for comics to be even more awesome than last year.

I really wanted to put in "...for comics to be awesome again.", but I looked at the stuff that came out last year (Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, The Sixth Gun, Artifacts and more) and I have to admit, it was an awesome year for comics. So I use my last wish as a feel good wish for comics. We need it more than ever!

I got my fingers and toes crossed, and you should too! Do you have anything you wish to happen in comic books this 2011? Let me know by hitting the comments! Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pictures! Pictures of Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man!

Okay, so technically it's just a singular picture, but it's not everyday that I get to paraphrase J. Jonah Jameson!

Anyway we finally got a first look at Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man in the Spider-Man reboot, and I can hear the 'Net buzzing from here! I never imagined they would actually change Spidey's iconic costume for this reboot, so this is a total surprise!

Despite the vocal minority drinking huge amounts of haterade over this costume change, I contend that it's not that much of a far cry from Spidey's red and blue. And Andrew Garfield is totally rocking the limber acrobat look with his lean frame, which just clicks with Spidey for me.

The only thing I'm itching to see is how they'll do his mask. I don't see them changing it too much without losing the iconic Spider-Man look, but then again Hollywood isn't exactly known for staying true to the source material, or giving a damn about what fans think!

I'm afraid to say it, but I'm really liking what I see here. And this is coming from a dude still angry at Hollywood for turning Galactus into a giant space cloud.

So what do you think about Garfield as Spider-Man now?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Charice at 1@11

I was at 1@11 (One at Eleven), a special concert/product launch at the SM Mall of Asia for entrepreneur Joel Cruz's Aficionado line of perfume and fashion. There was a fashion show and some big names in showbiz were there to endorse the brand. The biggest draw here was the appearance of three of Joel Cruz's biggest endorsers yet, John Lloyd Cruz, "Mr. Pure Energy" Gary Valenciano, and of course, Charice!

Seeing Gary V. sing and dance live was hands-down awesome. Then Charice comes out, wearing glasses like she's playing Sunshine Corazon in Glee, and people go nuts! She sang a duet of Pyramid with Gary V., along with two of her own songs, In This Song and Reset. Two of my most favorite songs from her, and I got to hear her sing it with that mind-blowingly incredible voice! That made my week.

Killing my feet in a standing-room-only VIP area was worth it. I embarrassed my brother and sister with me lip-syncing to each and every song Charice sang, and I got to see and hear Charice live again! Check out my pics of Charice below. Sorry for the non-comic book content (but I did sorta warned you before). Rest assured the comic stuff comes back next week.

Charice 1@11
Charice 1@11Charice 1@11Charice 1@11Charice 1@11

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Neko Ramen Vol. 3 Review

Of course being the poor sucker that I am, I just got around picking up Neko Ramen vol. 3 yesterday. And lo and behold, as I was checking out the cover for cool stuff to read, I discovered that I've just been quoted by Tokyopop in the back cover! Wow! This marks the very first time that this humble blog has been quoted, even mentioned, in an international publication! I'm still freaking out as I write this! Man, I gotta find time to laminate my copy. Of course, now that I'm pretty sure people are gonna start poking around now that they know this blog exists, I gotta pick up some slack around here...starting with a review of Neko Ramen vol. 3: A Cat After All!

Neko Ramen's third volume continues the hijinks ensued by Taisho, the feline owner of a ramen shop.This time, he's upping the ante with tons of new ideas and innovative recipes...if only being a cat with cat sensibilities didn't get in the way!

Kenji Sonishi focuses on Taisho being the white kitty cat that he is in this volume, which means we get to see a lot of gags based on the big question of 'what if a cat made ramen?', probably more so that previous volumes. That lends itself to plenty of laughs, as Taisho tries out 'Labyrinth Ramen' (better find your way out fast!), 'Rice on the Side' (in the most literal sense possible) and more. I got smart after the last two volumes...I found a nice, quiet and isolated spot in the mall so I can laugh my guts out. It didn't help that Sonishi's drawings and expressions really bring the point home.

Tons of characters from the previous volumes make some appearances, as well as some new and interesting ones. I was actually surprised that there are developments in the story so far, as well as nods to, gasp!, continuity! This book is actually growing, and for me it's all the better for it!

To be honest, I found the first few pages of the volume a bit slow moving. I guess you could only make so much jokes about cats and ramen. Fortunately, the farther into the book I got, the more intense the laughs became. And with Taisho and the world around him constantly evolving, Neko Ramen becomes your not-so-ordinary comedy manga. It's like I'm having the proverbial cake and eating it too! Neko Ramen vol. 3: A Cat After All! gets a 4 out of 5. Pick this up on sight, you won't regret it one bit.

Thanks, Tokyopop! And thank you for reading!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Figma Adult Mikuru Asahina Review

Let's open up the New Year with a toy review! Today I'll be reviewing Mikuru Asahina Adult ver. from Max Factory's Figma line. Figmas are highly pose-able figures of characters from popular Japanese anime, like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Mikuru is the voluptuous yet helpless doormat of the said anime. She's sweet and shy, but she hides an amazing secret: she's a time traveler sent back in time to monitor the main character Haruhi, who may or may not have the power to rewrite the universe!

Mikuru's adult version first appeared in an episode of the anime, having traveled back in time for some secret mission. Wherein high school Mikuru is all pretty and shy, adult Mikuru was gorgeous and confident, which obviously made her a hit with fans because Max Factory decided to make a Figma out of her...a decision any Mikuru fan should be thankful for!

The figure is as gorgeous as her anime counterpart, with a pretty face and a hot bod. The 'school teacher' look obviously adds to the appeal.

Articulation is standard Figma. She could obviously do a lot of poses, but her clothes (and her prodigious assets) get in the way.

Speaking of clothes, the torso part of her blouse and her skirt are made from soft rubber. Her skirt in particular comes in two halves, freeing up her legs some. Brilliant, forward-thinking design if you ask me.

I can't say enough how cute she is. She's got her normal pretty face, and a winking face you can swap for when she thinks you're doing something naughty, or when she's uttering her catchphrase, "Kinsoku jikou desu!" ('It's classified information!'). An extra sleeping face is also included for your younger Mikuru Figma.

Adult Mikuru comes with Figma's assortment of extra hands. You can swap them easily enough to give your figure some character. She also comes with a special pair of hands that lets you recreate the most memorable scene from the anime, where she shows Kyon (the point-of-view character of the series) proof that she really is Mikuru by revealing something only Kyon knows she has: a star-shaped mole.

Care to guess where that mole is?

Unfortunately, because of the size of the figure, we'll have to make do with the infinitessimal dot on her chest. Also, getting her hands to hold her blouse open like that is an absolute pain, and people with ham hands must take utmost care not to break sweet little Mikuru in a fit of Figma-induced rage.

I can't reiterate enough how careful you have to be to do this. Upon closer inspection, I saw that Adult Mikuru's blouse's front is glued together. It's easy to pry her clothes apart in the ensuing chaos. My Mikuru already has her blouse opened more than halfway down!

Since her blouse is made of soft, dirty white rubber, it's easy to get it dirty with whatever dirt or oils you have in your hands or in the air where you display her. But as long as you're completely anal about hygiene and cleanliness (like me), your Mikuru will stand pristine for a long time.

As an added bonus, Adult Mikuru also comes with a school table and chair. Now you have all the props to make your high school diorama! The detail is spot on, right down to the schoolbag hook on the side.

Ever since Mikuru's more voluptuous adult self appeared in the anime, I dreamed of one day owning a figure of her. Max Factory being who they are, it was only a matter of time before they got around to make one. Figma Adult Mikuru is a great figure and a must for fans of Mikuru Asahina.

Hope you found this review helpful! Got more thoughts on this Figma? Or just want to suggest future toy reviews? Hit the comments and let's talk about it! Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Welcome the Year of the Metal Rabbit!

Happy New Year, guys! I'll just take this opportunity to greet you guys on the first working day of the new year, and to tell you that 2011 is going to be awesome.

You know why? Because according to the Chinese zodiac, 2011 is the year of the Rabbit, and the element that governs this year is metal.

Which means that 2011 is the year of the Metal Rabbit.

Metal Rabbit
Above is the first picture you get when you search for Metal Rabbit on Google. When the visual representation of the year is of a rabbit charging into battle wearing a freakin' full helm, you just know this year is going to be off-the-wall awesome.

So keep that in mind when you go about your 2011!
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