Anime Capsules: Eye Beams, Claws, Lasers, Grappling Hooks, Robots, And More.

Man, this week it started getting warmer and I spent a whole lot of time snoozing my days away, lethargic, unwilling to move. Thankfully I spent a lot of this past Sunday watching the middle third of the recently completed (in its home nation of Japan) X-Men anime series and catching up on the two 1980’s throwback robot cartoons, so I’ve got those to talk about. Continue reading

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Vlog 06.25.2011 – Catching Up With Comics

Thirty long minutes of talking up and discussing my reactions to a handful of comic book series I’ve been reading and getting caught up on. The four series I talk about are all ones I’m pretty pleased with as of late; the only one I’ve been waffling on is IDW’s Transformers, and honestly, it really is the least of those discussed; I started reading Uncanny X-Force because of good buzz, while Transformers is something I’m reading because, eh, it’s Transformers. To be fair, these past two issues were especially well crafted, mostly a result of Guido Guidi’s always strong artwork. (Honestly, I think he’s a better Transformers artist than everyone’s favorite Pat Lee ghost-artist Alex Milne, and there are times I prefer him to king of the fan faves Don Figueroa.) And, as I say above, it pushed my nostalgia buttons pretty hard; I’m always a sucker for Rodimus and Galvatron.

Anyway, watch & comment. It’s a long one, like I said, so I don’t expect a massive amount of viewers and hits and stuff, but I’d be interested in seeing what other people have been reading out there comics-wise.

On vacation – resuming normal service next week.

Just an FYI, I’m posting this from upstairs at my parents’ place back in good ol’ Pittsburg, KS to let you all know that the weekly vlog and Robotech, In Brief will be returning next week. I was hoping to get something shot for the vlog yesterday morning and some extra Robotech, In Brief posts in the can, but work got a little crazy and time just slipped through my fingers.

Some quick thoughts on recent media viewings:

  • I had a second watch of “A Good Man Goes To War” with my dad, who thought it was fantastic; I actually liked it better the second time, too. Alex Kingston’s performance when River’s talking to Rory at the beginning is really interesting on second viewing; watch her reaction when Rory asks River if she knows him. She’s losing her poker face here. Of course she knows him. How could she not know him? I suppose now that I think about it the reason she didn’t recognize him in “The Big Bang” is for the same reason that Amy couldn’t remember anything about her parents; the ripples of his life across time still happened, but people who should have remembered him couldn’t put a name or a face to that person’s role in their lives. It took Amy a while and some effort to remember him in “The Pandorica Opens,” after all. That’s been bugging me for weeks ever since I put two and two together, honestly. Such a pain that the rules of time in Doctor Who aren’t as hard and fast as you’d think they should be.
  • Saw X-Men: First Class today. Absolutely loved it. Best in the series. Great performances all around, except for poor wooden January Jones as Emma Frost, who wasn’t to my eyes as terrible as everyone says but was utterly outclassed on all fronts. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender manage to build on-screen Xavier and Magneto’s friendship beyond what the script states, and even if the players aren’t all “right” and the beats are way off of the history in the comics, the story works beautifully as an origin for the X-Men. The schism plays out magnificently. It’s a prequel that works so well that it’s making me rethink my knee-jerk distaste for prequels. (Then again, I saw the trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes in front of First Class and almost wanted to shout at the top of my lungs, “WHO WANTS TO SEE THIS?! COME ON, WHO?! WHAT IS THE F***ING POINT OF THIS EXERCISE?!”) I just wish it didn’t end so completely; I wish there was more of McAvoy’s Xavier and Fassbender’s Magneto being teammates and kicking ass. I realize that due to the whirlwind production process there probably isn’t another, longer cut of the movie out there, but I really do wish there was, if just for more of them being allies and friends. Also: Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw was not quite the character from the comics, but was a worthy villain for this piece, definitely, and had some tremendous smug villainous charm. Cleverly written, rather well directed and designed, and the most true to the spirit of the best X-Men stories in both a weirdly-incestuous-continuity way and in dealing the greater themes of the franchise, it’s a winner all-around. I kind of want to see it again, but I think I can wait for the home video release.

Vlog 04.30.2011 – In The Beginning …

Through thick and thin, there are three multimedia sci-fi franchises that will always garner a look-see from me, three never-ending sagas I’ll always be curious about whenever they rise again. This week I look inward and try and explain exactly why these three, echoing out from my earliest days, still speak to me on some level. If you know me at all (or check the tags for this post) you know what three they are. You might even be able to guess why they still fascinate me so. Regardless, give it a look and let me know what you think.

Did this week’s video in 4:3 because I wasn’t too keen on cutting the top of my own head off again. Trimmed a few digressions here and there, but I still clocked in at a hair over twenty minutes. If everything goes according to plan, next week’s will be much shorter, albeit similarly self-indulgent. Should still be interesting for fellow Robotech fans, though.

In other news, I got caught up with the X-Men anime this week and thought this particular shot of Cyclops from episode four was amusing.

This just isn't turning out to be Scott's day.

Second part of the first Doctor Who story of the season airs today and, same as last week, I’ll have some thoughts on it up here on Sunday. I’m going to try and craft those thoughts into a more coherent shape this week, as I wasn’t too keen on the rambling ramshackle form of the first “Eleven For Eleven.” We’ll see how THAT goes. And of course, the week ahead will bring another five days of Robotech, as Minmei’s movie premieres, Zentraedi soldiers take to the streets of Macross City once more, and the first steps are made towards peace between man and alien.

Tearing Into The Pile: What I Read Between My Morning Meeting & My Proper Work Day.

I had a little time to kill between our hour-long meeting at work this morning (at 8 a.m.) and my proper shift (which started at 11:30 a.m.), so I reached into my pile of comics and just grabbed a bunch of stuff I thought I’d like. Here’s a few dashed off thoughts on all that.

DEADPOOL #1000 by a whole bunch of people.

There are sixty-nine pages of comics in this five dollar thing, plus a gallery of “Deadpool Month” variant covers that you’d only have if you were totally obsessive and/or possessed of far more money than brains, so if you like Deadpool’s particular brand of wisecracking amorality with a side order of voices-in-his-head, this isn’t a bad value. My favorite stories were a bizarre extended fat people and fast food joke by the UNCANNY X-FORCE creative team of Rick Remender and Jerome Opena, a two-page vignette by Peter Bagge, and a neat dark little mob Bar Mitzvah story by Howard Chaykin. But most of ’em at least brought out a smirk, or a chuckle, or were at least better drawn than your random issue of …

DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #889 by Jeff Parker (writer) & Steve Sanders (pencils)

Guest starring Gorilla Man of the relaunched-and-relaunched AGENTS OF ATLAS. Sanders was last seen drawing the short-lived S.W.O.R.D., which didn’t get anywhere near half the chance ATLAS has gotten over, and over, and over again. Bought this random issue totally on pedigree and found it to be well-crafted but underwhelming. Half the issue is Deadpool fighting Gorilla Man, half the issue is Deadpool fighting alongside Gorilla Man against the entity that hired Deadpool to fight Gorilla Man. The two don’t bounce off each other in any particularly interesting ways; the villain of the piece is more interesting, at least conceptually — and certainly visually!

DOCTOR WHO #14 – 16 by Tony Lee (writer) & Matthew Dow Smith (art)

The final three issues of the Tenth Doctor era in comics. The Doctor winds up in the middle of a war on a battered planet, a war being manipulated by the enemy that’s been manipulating him and his companions throughout the IDW ongoing series, the blue-skinned Advocate. Between the predestination, time-loops, double-crosses, characters getting captured and recaptured again, and the big twist regarding the two factions it really feels like the kind of high concept space opera you’d see in the Peter Davison era back in the 1980s. I really like Matthew Dow Smith’s cartooning, and the story was quite good, but I’ve found that ever since mid-way through Matt Smith’s first season I just don’t like the Tenth Doctor as much as I used to. I think I liked him because he felt more like the Doctor of old than Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor, at least to me; Smith, to me, seems even more like the Doctor of old, and much more naturally than Tennant’s performance. And now, in retrospect, it’s how unlike the “classic” take on the Doctor that has me warming to Eccleston’s performance all these years later. And yes, I know, David Tennant isn’t actually standing there in the comic, playing the role, but it’s his voice I read in my head, his voice Tony Lee is writing for, and the tics of his Doctor that Lee’s is writing and Matthew Dow Smith is drawing.

In short: bring on the Eleventh Doctor comics in January!

FANTASTIC FOUR #581 – 584 by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Neil Edwards (penciler, 581 & 582), & Steve Epting (penciler, 583 & 584)

Jonathan Hickman’s FANTASTIC FOUR continues to be full of big, cool ideas, continues to be paced so perfectly that each issue still feels like an entity unto itself — whether it be an exciting first act with a nail-biting cliffhanger, or a complete story with bubbling subplots that then ALSO lead to a nail-biting cliffhanger — and beautifully gives off a feeling of radiant warmth that comes from being a series that is at its core (when it’s at its best) about a family of scientists and adventurers plunging headlong into the unknown. The first two issues feature Reed Richards’s father going back in time to enlist college-aged Reed, Ben Grimm, and not-yet-Doctor Doom to battle a version of himself from another reality at the climax of a HIGHLANDER-like tournament, which ultimately neatly folds back into the plot of this run’s first arc, where Reed met the council of other Reed Richards from throughout the multiverse. Then Reed and Sue’s daughter Valeria makes a discovery that leads her to have a chat with Doctor Doom, the Silver Surfer makes a discovery that he feels warrants the attention of Galactus, and Ben Grimm is returned to his human form for a day out with Johnny. Seriously, Hickman’s FANTASTIC FOUR runs like a piece of precision clockwork, ever building upon itself, but also takes enough time to breathe with its more human, more humane characters, that it never feels obnoxiously overthought. It remains one of the highlights of my not-quite-monthly comics reading experience.

GENERATION HOPE #1 by Kieron Gillen (writer) & Salvador Espin (artist)

A well-drawn and potentially interesting X-MEN spin-off featuring long-term MacGuffin character Hope, the first mutant birth since the Scarlet Witch uttered those damned words “No more mutants,” who has now basically become the new Cable who might also be the new Phoenix, conveniently putting all the overly confusing X-eggs in one basket. The whole thing is totally let down, though, by a disgustingly obvious AKIRA rip-off character and sequence which wouldn’t have passed muster even in the “hey, let’s rip off all this anime stuff that isn’t really out in the mainstream yet” era of the 1990s. Is this the fault of writer Kieron Gillen (whose work I adored on PHONOGRAM and S.W.O.R.D.) or is it the fault of artist Salvador Espin (whose work I should have recognized from the final short-lived volume of EXILES, which I really liked, and who’s also done a lot of work on various B and C-level Marvel books over the last few years)? Either way, it’s too close a match to call “pastiche” — it’s just a straight rip-off, which soured me on the book as a whole. It’ll take some really clever stuff in the next few issues to clean off that stink.

IZOMBIE #2 – 7 by Chris Roberson (writer) & Michael Allred (artist)

Mike Allred’s art is extremely easy on the eyes, and was the main reason I started picking this series up. And while I ordinarily avoid zombie-related comics, movies, etc., the idea of a lead character who died and should be a zombie but is clinging to her humanity by occasionally feasting on the brains of the newly dead — that’s enough of a hook to lure me in. The fact that she then plays Girl Detective using the memories of the deceased sounded like a lot of fun … except that the series already appears to be flying off that track by starting to build its mythos way early, dragging in a know-it-all “mummy” (he wasn’t a mummy, he wasn’t high-born enough for that, though he does hail from ancient Egypt) who explains the way souls work in this series, why lead character Gwen still has her wits about her, why the “team’s” hacker consultant is a were-terrier, etc. I hope Roberson isn’t being forced to accelerate his schedule due to poor sales, but given that this is a middlebrow “fun” Vertigo book I bet it isn’t lighting the sales charts on fire, even with known quantity Allred on art and the word “zombie” in the title. I really hope it’s doing better than I think it is; I think I like it.