Archive | April, 2011

Aalok deciphers DC – Superman: The Man of Steel Volumes 2 to 6

30 Apr



DC decided some time in the early 2000s to collect the Superman stories by John Byrne after MAN OF STEEL miniseries, which introduced Superman post Crisis on Infinite Earths. They ended up collecting all titles featuring Superman, for the span of one year (12 issues of each, with an annual) with additional issues of other titles, over 5 trade paperback collections, comprising SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL VOLS 2-6. You can find a review of SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL VOL 1 here
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The titles, with the creative teams (for most part) were:
ACTION COMICS (issues 584-595, annual 1) – John Byrne (writes, pencils), Dick Giordano (inks regular issues and annual), Art Adams (pencils annual)
SUPERMAN (issues 1-12, annual 1) – John Byrne (writes, pencils), Terry Austin (inks), Ron Frenz (pencils annual), Brett Breeding (inks annual)

JOHN BYRNE

ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (issues 424-435, annual 1) – Marv Wolfman (writes), Jerry Ordway (pencils), Mike Machlan (inks), Jim Starlin (writes annual), Dan Jurgens (pencils annual), Steve Montano (inks annual)

MARV WOLFMAN

Additional issues: LEGION OF SUPER HEROES (issues 37, 38) – Paul Levitz (writes), Greg LaRocque (pencils), Mike DeCarlo (inks), BOOSTER GOLD (issue 23) – Dan Jurgens (writes, pencils), Roy Richardson (inks)
SUPERMAN was supposed to be the flagship title, ACTION COMICS would show his interactions with other characters of the DC Universe while ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN…I don’t really know what was it’s intended purpose, but it seems to be the best title amongst them. ACTION COMICS continued it’s old numbering from before the Crisis, ADVENTURES took over the old numbering of the original SUPERMAN (1939) book, while SUPERMAN [usually referred to as SUPERMAN V2 or SUPERMAN (1987)] had an all new numbering. Here, reviewing the issues title wise gives a better perspective.

SUPERMAN (V2, 1987):

Issues 1 and 2 form an interesting Metallo / Luthor story. We see the revamped origin of Metallo, wherein John Corben is saved from a near fatal accident by a scientist, Vale Emmett who believes that Superman is the first of a wave of Kryptonian invaders, after translating the message from Jor El to Superman. He replaces Corben’s heart with Kryptonite. Later, Metallo kills Vale and in the course of his robberies comes into contact with Superman. Incapacitated by Kryptonite, just when Corben is about to deliver the killing blow to Superman, he is whisked away by Lex Luthor. Lex subsequently captures Metallo, tearing out his Kryptonian heart and fashions a ring from it, captures and tortures Lana, all to find out the connection between Clark Kent & Superman. However, when his computers figure out that Clark Kent is Superman, he dismisses it as he believes that Superman could never be content to walk hidden as a man. Luthor reappears to bedevil Superman in issue 10 where he plays havoc with Superman’s senses, making him appear a veritable force of destruction.
Issue 4 – Introduces the original Bloodsport, who with the assistance of Lex Luthor starts massacring innocents and eventually is uncovered to be a guilt addled mental patient called Robert Dubois.
Issues 5 & 6 – Superman encounters a race of aliens capable of taking over human bodies housed in the body of a huge mechanized construct over the years, wrapped in bandages like a mummy.
Issue 7 – Introduces Dr Thomas Moyers and Rampage, aka Dr Kitty Faulkner who is injured in a Fusion reactor explosion and gets converted into a large woman with minimal intellect.
Issue 9 – The Joker takes on Metropolis, facing Superman for the 1st time.
Issue 11 – Features the debut of Mxyzptlk, where we see that Mxy’s fifth dimension name is something which is undecipherable to humans, so he creates his name using random letters typed on a giant typewriter.
Issue 12 – Features a eulogy to Superman’s first love, Lori Lemaris who died during the Crisis.
Annual 1 – Introduces Titano, the Super Ape as an animal who has been used for experimental purposes and testing. An interesting animal rights story, featuring Dr Thomas Moyers as the bad guy of the piece.

ACTION COMICS:

The guest appearances are generally by other co-stars creating an atmosphere similar to DC COMICS PRESENTS. Most are one shots.
Issue 584 – An unknown adversary takes over Superman’s body & the TEEN TITANS try to stop him.
Issue 585 – THE PHANTOM STRANGER & Superman try to stop an animated prison graveyard risen due to some mystical power.
Issue 587 – Superman travels back in time with THE DEMON to face Morgaine Le Fey and disrupt a spell which would transform modern day Metropolis inhabitants into part of the city spires.
Issue 588 – HAWKMAN & HAWKGIRL are helped by Superman while fighting their Shadow War.
Issue 589 – Superman & the GREEN LANTERN CORPS stop an outer space menace, created by Superman himself during his previous adventure with THE PHANTOM STRANGER, and in the process create a home planet for an intelligent race.
Issue 590 – Superman & the Metal Men take on Chemo, who now has the powers of Superman by cming into contact with his body cells.
Issue 592 & 593 – Superman, with MR MIRACLE & BIG BARDA face the menace of Sleeze, originally a native of Apokolips till ousted by Darkseid, who takes control of Barda & Superman, and of all things uses them to make a video.
Issue 594, Booster Gold issue 23 – Superman & BOOSTER GOLD fight a duplicate Booster, courtesy Lex Luthor.
Issue 595 – Superman faces the Silver Banshee for the 1st time, with an assist by MARTIAN MANHUNTER
Annual 1 – Superman & Batman versus a Vampire plague in a small town.
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN:

This title was the best of them, with solid plots, classic characterisation, and introduction of new charcters like CATHERINE GRANT, EMIL HAMILTON, BIBBO BIBBOWSKI and JOSE DELGADO / GANGBUSTER. Also, the world view portrayed is excellent. In contrast to the clean Byrne style romps thru the DCU, this title presents a darker, edgier look.
Issue 424 & 425 – Introduces DR EMIL HAMILTON. This is a guy who’s been cheated by Luthor not once, twice in the span of these issues. He appears using his weapons against Superman, proving they work. He also tries to save the public using his inventions but somehow Luthor happens to walk away with the cake.
Issue 427 – Superman attacks Qurac & comes in contact with the Circle, a union of aliens who believe Superman is their long lost member.
Issue 428 – Jerry White is kidnapped & Perry is asked to kill a story. The moral compunctions he faces are tremendous, and by the time he decides, Superman actually saves Jerry, but this ruins their father son dynamic forever. Probably one of the best stories I have ever read.
Issue 429 – Clark discovers Cat Grant has a son, who his father doesn’t allow to see his mother. Superman walks the thin line muddling the Clark Kent / Superman dynamic, when he is attacked by another member of The Circle.
Issue 430 – Personal issues and defeats at the hands of The Fearsome Five force Superman to take a breather and head to Smallville.
Issue 431- Introducing Doctor Stratos, who can control the weather, and may or may not be a God. Nice issue, a villain with potential, wonder why he was hardly heard of again. Of note, this issue was pencilled by Erik Larsen.
Issue 432, 433, 434 – Luthor starts a gang war in the streets and Jerry White, Jimmy Olsen & Gangbuster are right in the middle of it. Introducing Jose Delgado as Gangbuster.
Issue 435 – The end of the Circle storyline.
Annual 1 – Hfuhhrr the word bringer fuses all the bodies of the population of a small town village and harnesses their minds and the knowledge therein for personal gain.
LEGENDS CROSSOVER – SUPERMAN issue 3, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN issue 426 and ACTION COMICS issue 586 – DARKSEID plans to destroy Earth’s legends, explained in detail in the previous review of the trade paperback LEGENDS, fall on Superman when he transports him to Apokolips and uses him against the Dregs to control them, ending in a climactic fight with ORION, son of Darkseid. You can see our take on LEGENDS here
SUPERBOY CROSSOVER – SUPERMAN issue 8, LEGION OF SUPER HEROES issues 37, 38 and ACTION COMICS issue 591 – In the new continuity, Clark Kent was never Superboy. The Time Trapper notes that the Legion is still inspired by a Superboy, so he creates a pocket dimension where the Legion goes, unbeknownst to them; when they think they are travelling to the past to visit Superboy. The Time Trapper recruits the Superboy of that dimension, in a plot against Superman & the Legion, holding Superboy’s universe at ransom.
There. That’s it. 42 issues in a single bound. The issues are divided more or less evenly amongst the collections:
Vol 2: ACTION 584-586, SUPERMAN 1-3, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN 424-426
My Rating: 9 on 10
Vol 3: ACTION 587-589, SUPERMAN 4-6, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN 427-429
My Rating: 10 on 10
Vol 4: ACTION 590, 591, SUPERMAN 7, 8, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN 430, 431, LEGION OF SUPER HEROES 37, 38

My Rating: 9 on 10
Vol 5: ACTION 592, 593, SUPERMAN 9-11, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN 432-435
My Rating: 8.5 on 10
Vol 6: SUPERMAN 12, ACTION COMICS 594,595, BOOSTER GOLD 23, all annuals
My rating: 8 on 10
All trades are priced at 20 US$. Worth it any day.
We’ve followed Superman through 1987. The next collection to come is SUPERMAN: EXILE covering the 1989-1990 period. But before that, we’ll be going through JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL & SUICIDE SQUAD, the teams arising from LEGENDS, followed by some other goodies.
Next Week: May 1st to 7th is Batman week. What defines a man, more often than his friends, are his foes. Where does Ra;s fall, really? We take a look at Ra’s Al Ghul through the ages. Stay connected.

STEWARTS SLATE: Reviews of JUDGE DREDD vs ALIENS, PUNISHER: IN THE BLOOD and ELEPHANTMEN: WAR TOYS

29 Apr

Review of JUDGE DREDD vs ALIENS: Incubus graphic novel
Originally published in 2000ad progs 1322-1335
Writers: John Wagner/Andy Diggle
Art: Henry Flint
Review by Stewart Loud
Judge Dredd proves once and for all that, no, he isn’t frightened of anything when he goes head to head with science fictions most fearsome face biter in one of the best, and most obvious comic book crossovers since Alien and Predator.

There have been quite a few comic book crossovers involving the Aliens creatures over the years. Predator, Batman even Superman. Some have worked well and some have just been plain awful so I was relieved to discover that the collision between Geiger’s iconic monster and 2000ad’s flagship character falls firmly into the category of Aliens crossovers that work.
The reason it works so well is that the Alien creature fits so seamlessly into Judge Dredd’s world. Set in the sprawling metropolis of Mega City one, in the far flung, post-apocalyptic nuclear future where interstellar travel is commonplace, it doesn’t seem odd at all that the Judges would have to deal with a threat like this. To be fair, a creature that gestates inside a human host and bleeds concentrated acid is probably one of the less outlandish things they’ve faced when you put this book into context next to over 30 years of stories where the Judges have done battle with things like zombies, mutants, giant floating sharks and the nightmarish Dark Judges who regard life itself as a crime.
The book sees The Judges uncovering a plot by an underground cult of mutants and outcasts to overthrow the Judges by unleashing a horde of the Aliens on Mega City One. One of the things that sets this apart from a lot of other Aliens stories before it is that, far from being an isolated group of badly equipped miners or a massively outnumbered team of marines cut off from rescue, Mega City One’s judges have massive manpower and resources and are fully used to fighting threats of this nature and magnitude. So you can expect some monumental stand up fights between the bugs and Mega City Ones awesome reserves of fire power.
Also fighting in Judge Dredds corner are the Mechanismo droids (a previous attempt at mechanised law enforcement) and the Verminators (Mega City One’s answer to pest control) so you can probably begin to guess how wild things get.
The art in this book is a spectacle to behold. Henry Flints gritty detailed illustration creates fantastic atmosphere in the dark, sinister tunnels and shafts the aliens hide in, as well as the outside scenes detailing the cities impressive structures and busy streets. As well as this, the colours and lighting effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen! You can almost feel the heat of the explosions and flames. This is a very nice looking book indeed. Something else Henry draws well is the horrific gore that results from the action scenes. The acid burns on both peoples flesh and the concrete and metal scenery look tremendous. Although strangely I did think the acid seemed about five times as potent as it was in any of the films. Killing an alien in this book often means dissolving an entire intersection of road and everything underneath it for about a hundred metres. But this small inconsistency doesn’t stop this from being a fantastic read from start to finish.
As seems to be the standard with graphic novels now, there’s also a quality cover gallery in the back.
Judge Dredd? Aliens? Science fiction/horror? action? If you like any of these things then you’ll enjoy this book. Judge Dredd continues to kick wholesale ass and people who read comics but haven’t ever read a Judge Dredd book, don’t know what they’re missing!

SCORE 8/10




Review of Punisher: In The Blood 5 issue mini series from Marvel Comics.



Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Roland Boschi, Bertilorenzi and Dan Brown

Review by Stewart Loud

Rick Remenders outstanding Punisher run climaxes with this fantastic 5 part story picking up right where Franken-Castle left off with The Punisher returning to the streets of New York 100% human to once again take on the criminal underworld and in particular track down his old partner Microchip, who after being resurrected by The Hood during the Dark Reign had worked with The Hood against The Punisher and played a part in the attempted resurrection of Franks family.

Jigsaw also plays a big part in the story as he attempts to make contact with his estranged son Henry (Frank’s new sidekick) and hatches another elaborate plan with the help of Frank’s last partner in crime fighting, Stu, to take the Punisher down.
Remenders brilliant writing is backed up by some great artwork from Roland Boschi. The shadowy visuals often illustrated from interesting perspectives really make every scene look like something from a well directed movie and every page oozes atmosphere.
It’s dark, it’s gripping, it’s violent it’s exciting and it’s a lot better than most of the stories published in the MAX series since Garth Ennis left. Even I was surprised by how far over the edge Frank goes as Jigsaw and Stu’s plan to drive him mad goes into action.

For a long time I’ve lamented the absence of Garth Ennis’ almost unparalleled writing talent on The Punisher titles but I’ve got to tell you Rick. I’m gonna miss you just as much.

SCORE 9/10


Review of ELEPHANTMEN WAR TOYS Vol 1: No Surrender graphic novel.
Collects Elephantmen War Toys #1-3

Writer: Richard Starkings

Art: Moritat

Review by Stewart Loud

War Toys is a prequel to the on-going Elephantmen series set in the year 2239 during the war between China and Africa as they fight over what’s left of Europe after it was devastated by a disease that reduced its population to mere thousands. If there’s one thing I enjoy reading about, it’s post-apocalyptic future war and chances are you’ll enjoy this one too.

I always thought one of the most interesting parts of the Elephantmen series was the flashbacks about the war that the main characters fought in before they were rehabilitated by the UN and introduced into normal society, and this book won’t disappoint anybody else with that opinion.

You’ll see scenes from flashbacks printed within the main series, in the broader context, a book devoted entirely to the war in which the Central African Alliance employed the use of the Elephantmen to fight the Chinese for control of Europe.

The Elephantmen at this point really are remorseless killers with their mandate to mercilessly wipe out all remaining human life in Europe as well as the Chinese forces vying for control of the territory. Although you do see some of them, who some people will recognise as characters from the main series, begin to question the moral implications of the orders they’ve been given as well as some who seem to revel in the violence and enjoy the extermination of their enemies.

The story follows female French soldier, Yvette as she is gradually hardened by the horrors she witnesses and embarks on a campaign of guerrilla warfare against the Elephantmen, leaving the mutilated bodies of her victims signed with her name in an attempt to at least strike fear into an enemy she knows the European and Chinese forces have no chance of defeating, becoming a symbol of defiance for the beleaguered European forces.
This is a well written and thought out book. The black and white artwork is a nice touch too and adds to the hopeless atmosphere of the story right up to the powerful ending. It would have been nice to see some more detailed scenes of the actual battles between the humans and Elephantmen but maybe that’ll come in War Toys vol 2.

Whether you’ve read any of the other Elephantmen comics or not, it doesn’t really matter, it’s a good book for anyone who enjoys a war story with a bit of emotion behind it but people looking for big action may be disappointed.
SCORE 7/10

2011: Superheroes on the Screen!

29 Apr
We, at Comic Addicts don’t only review, interview etc. but also keep you abreast with the latest happenings in the comic world and 2011 is the year of superheroes on screen, when comic comes to cinema!

2011 started with Green Hornet which released on January 14. The movie was nice, but sadly not awesome. The next big thing came today, Thor and IT IS AWESOME.

Coming to future releases now, the nearest next release is Priest, based on the Korean comic. The comic’s good, the trailer’s nice and now we have to wait for May 13 to know whether the movie is good or not.

After Priest, we have the Monk himself, Buddha. On May 28, the Osamu Tezuka’s 1980’s work comes to screen, but with disappointments as it is animated, and that too not like the original artwork. I’m just counting this movie in the list as I personally like it a lot.

After Buddha, we have the movie for which everyone is waiting. Marvel’s X-Men: First Class which releases on June 3. The movie is a prequel to the first 3 movies. The movie focuses on the friendship between Charles Xavier and Magneto, before they became enemies. It also includes the Hellfire club, Mystique and a variety of other mutants like Darwin, Havok etc.

Giving tough competition to Marvel in June is DC’s Green Lantern. The special effects are AWESOME and probably the best I’ve ever seen. GL releases 14 days after X-Men i.e. 17 June.

Fear not, Marvel fans! Even if GL defeats X-Men, we have a secret weapon, which till now (after watching the trailer) is far better than Green Lantern and the secret weapon is Captain America: The First Avenger and I don’t think anybody can defeat Cap.

The Barbarian has also rebooted. Conan: The Barbarian comes to screen on August 19.

That’s not all! Coming in 2012 are Ghost Rider: Sprit of Vengeance, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-man and The Dark Knight Rises.

Also in 2011 are Thor: Tales of Asgard, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights and Batman: Year One releasing as animated movies.

Lastly, Deadpool, X-Men Origins: Wolverine II, G.I.Joe II, Iron Man III, Superman: Reboot are also rumored to release soon.

P.S. We are having a pole going on our page, and it would be nice if you participate too and tell us which is your favorite upcoming superhero movie. Just click here to enter.

Till Then
Ciao!

M Take : Why should you have picked up Nextwave when you had the chance..

28 Apr
Created by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen.
– By Manks
Nextwave is one of the most unadulterated fun title I have read in my entire comic reading life. Sadly however , like most fun comics out there, it met an untimely demise. After Transmetropolitan this is my second most favorite comic out there by Warren Ellis.  And he is not even the reason to check this book out. Stuart Immonen has done his career best work to date on this title. Yes true believer, if you missed out on Nextwave when it came out, its time you rectify your mistake.

What is the series all about?
Nextwave is all about enjoying the Superhero comics for what they are. Unlike other superhero titles which are trying to mirror current situations and introduce faux seriousness and melodrama, Nextwave does not even pretend to take itself seriously. Nextwave  features extreme violence and comedy, and simultaneously satirizes and celebrates Marvel’s superhero comics.
 In an interview, Ellis said, “I took The Authority and I stripped out all the plots, logic, character and sanity”.”It’s an absolute distillation of the superhero genre. No plot lines, characters, emotions, nothing whatsoever. It’s people posing in the street for no good reason. It is people getting kicked, and then exploding. It is a pure comic book, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. And afterwards, they will explode”
One of the best bit about this comic apart from the irreverent take on the Marvel universe was that a complete story was told in just two issues, instead of the usual 4-6 issues. I rue the fact that this comic only lasted 12 issues and there is very dim possibility of seeing some fresh material on the stands anytime soon.
Anything that I say to convince you to track down the collection of Nextwave pales in comparison to the actual comic. So for once I would let the comic do the talking instead of me.
Let me introduce the cast of NEXTWAVE
Monica Rambeau, the former Captain Marvel and leader of Nextwave: 
Was with the Avengers once  and wouldn’t let anyone forget it. The following gives the glimpse of the reason why she couldn’t continue working with the avengers – According to her!!
Tabitha Smith, formerly of X-Force;
 Uses chat language (OMG, ZOMG, OHNOES) when talking
Also shouts Tick, tick, tick, tick– BOOM! when using her powers.
Oh and if you didn’t catch it she can make things go BOOM..
Aaron Stack, the Machine Man;
Breakout character of Nextwave. Ellis redefined the personality of The Machine man for a generation.
Calls humans fleshy ones and takes pride in his “Roboty ” parts
Favourate Phrase: My Robot Brain Needs Beer
Has a self absorbed attitude
Elsa Bloodstone
Monster Hunter extraordinaire
Made fun of by Tabetha
Ogled at by Aaron Stack
Is deadly serious about her work, perhaps the only one
The Captain
A new character
Previously called Captain ☠☠☠☠ (The obscured words being so horrible that Captain America allegedly beat seven shades of it out of him and left him in a dumpster with a bar of soap in his mouth)
Superhuman strength and flight
They were recruited by ( H.A.T.E Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort), to fight Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction (U.W.M.D.s).
Dirk Angstrom, Leader of H.A.T.E  (Nick fury wannabe )
But in reality H.A.T.E is Evil, controlled by the Beyond Corporation (TM) formerly S.I.L.E.N.T ( a terrorist group). Once Nextwave members figure that out they decide to take the fight to HATE and Beyond corp by destroying as many UWMD’s as possible.
If you would have read Nextwave when it came out, you would have seen  these images..
A giant Dinosaur-Dragon thing wearing Purple Underpants
The same dragon-dinosaur thingie wanting to put Tabetha in his pants
Cuddly Bears of Death





Stuart’s Amazing work ( yes these are Elvis head M.O.D.O.K s and Naked Ninjas)

I cannot even begin to tell you how fun this comic is, though I have tried to give you a slight glimpse of the awesomeness that is NEXTWAVE


Nish’s Notepad: UBIMA

26 Apr
Hello there! Last week I reviewed Sufi Comics, a religious comic with illustrated teachings from the Holy Qur’an. And as promised, this week, it’s completely DESI!
BTW Thank you people for 52 likes on the previous post, and continue the same 😛

This week on my Notepad is Uud Bilaw Manus, or UBIMA in short.

Art: Abhijeet Kini
Script: Adhiraj Singh

From the i-don’t-know-what-he-ate mind of Adhiraj Singh, badly drawn comics returns! but with a slight difference this time, thanks to Abhijeet Kini that it’s not badly drawn now 🙂

From the Tinkle fame, you know Abhijeet Kini’s artwork is amazing and awesome and attractive and astonishing and astounding and every adjective that starts with a(leaving a few exceptions though). The artwork is completely in Red and White- the artwork is appealing but for a price of Rs.100 (which I got at 70% discount. Stop calculating idiot, it’s 100- 70/100 x100)

Coming to UBIMA, he’s a superhero but not that plain old superhero wearing underwear on their costume. He’s different as he wears his Rubber Ka Kaccha only (and some bands, and a ishtylis chain but that reduces the effect). When you hear “Chillao Mat, Hum Inha Hi Khada Hoon”; you definitely know you’re not in safe hands because safe doesn’t have hands.. Get it? (Excuse the P.J., reading this comic fills my brain with crappy ideas).

On a serious note, UBIMA is fantastic and I’m looking forward to read the next issue which releases god-knows-when. Comparing the UBIMA vs OBAMA which published in Random sometime back and the one in this, there are big changes, although the story and the panel style stays same. Artwork is hell lotta better, and the “Bhojpuri” is transformed to English. Adhiraj Singh (sahab)’s mind is of course great. UBIMA is one of those comics which you want to read again and again, and still not get bored with it. SO grab you copy now via Dial-a-Book or Flipkart or wherever it’s available.

Pitcure abhi baaki hai mere dost, I’m leaving you with an amazing video featuring APNA UBI!

Vinay: Monkey Man Cometh Part 1

25 Apr
I thought long and hard about what to write. And I am still thinking. In the meanwhile here is the first part of a story that nudged its way into my head. Don’t worry; there is a comic connection that will be clear eventually. I hope.
Monkey Man Cometh – Part 1
Trouble.
The first thought that ran through my mind as the dame sauntered into my office. Cool, composed, tough and undeniably a heart breaker. Those were the next few thoughts to run through my mind. Thoughts of my wife followed suit and I got down to business.
“Can I help you darling?” I used my best Sean Connery imitation.
“Start by dropping the fake voice old man. Are you the detective the police chief raved about?”
I felt shattered and proud at the same time. Sean Connery had let me down but I got the police chief recommending me now.
“I prefer being called a consultant. I am a bit too old for being a detective.”
“You are a bit too old for a lot of things.”

I’m exceptionally good with comebacks usually but I have my moments. A few of those followed as silence settled in as uncomfortably as a two timing husband settles in front of his wife, mistress and a female marriage counsellor. Finally she stopped fidgeting with the matchbox she was holding.
“Like thinking of comebacks for example. Hope you fare better at finding missing people.”
“Your husband?” I asked though I knew she wasn’t the married sorts.
“Not yet.”
“Ahhhh. So you proposed and he ran away. Case closed.”
“You might want to factor in the monkey man in your deductions.”
“Ahhhh. A love triangle. He ran away with the monkey man.”
“Youth makes one’s patience thin and old age makes one’s bones brittle.”
Somewhere Plato’s soul scribbled hurriedly on a notepad. I, however, understood the hint veiled in that philosophical statement. “Okay. Tell me how did the notorious monkey man fit in?”
“We were called in to catch him. He has already murdered 10 people. The chief’s patience was running thin. My friend arrived 3 days earlier. The rest of us were to join him after wrapping up some errands.”
Wrap up some errands. The way she said it made me imagine her mummifying some poor guys alive. She seemed capable of doing it too. “Errrrr…What are you guys? Poachers? Hunters?”
“The monkey man is probably just a psychopath getting his fix. So no, we are not poachers. You could call us hunters. My friend, who went missing, started a task force to help the police nab criminals.”
“Hmm. He went to nab a criminal and got nabbed instead. Fate has a cruel sense of irony.”
She cracked her knuckles.
“Happens to the best of us.” I said.
“Look grandpa. I can’t afford to sit and chat. Thanks for nothing. I’ll be going.”
“Leave your bike here. I will drive you to your hotel. You just spent the night in the cemetery combing the abduction site for clues. Almost started smoking again. But I guess you thought of your unborn baby and stopped.”
I let her stay in the gaping goldfish stance for a while. Good old grandpa still has a few tricks.
“How…how did you…?” She asked coming out of her trance.
“Mostly from your clothes. They are slightly damp from the rains last night. More importantly they are muddy. Yet you haven’t changed them which means you spent the night in them. Most of the mud is dry but there are fresh splashes which are consistent with the spray pattern that occurs when you ride a bike. The dry mud points to two places – the football ground or the cemetery. But the football ground has red soil whereas the mud on your clothes is brownish. Plus the matchbox you are fidgeting with belongs to a hotel near the cemetery. Also day before yesterday’s newspapers carried reports of another monkey man sighting near the cemetery which, I guess, is when your friend got kidnapped. There is a rectangular bulge in your trouser’s front pocket that looks like a cigarette pack. However the noise that the matchbox makes when you shake it indicates that is full. So you haven’t used it to light the cigarettes. You wouldn’t have a matchbox if you had a lighter and the fact that you don’t have a lighter indicates that you were trying to quit smoking.”
“And…the baby?”
“You are extremely anxious about your friend. That might be normal behaviour in most people but both of you are used to danger and know how to handle it. Still you give up and ask the police chief for help within a day. All this hints towards you having a special reason to see your friend safe. Plus you are wearing loose clothes.”
“So?”
“You are on a job. Finding your friend and catching his abductor. A professional like you wouldn’t wear loose clothes while on a job. They would generate wind resistance or get stuck somewhere while chasing and may prove to be a hindrance in close hand-to-hand combat. I guessed you wearing them to hide the little bulge.”
“Perhaps the police chief isn’t as senile as I thought he was to have recommended you.”
“Not yet but he is getting there.”
“I didn’t find any clues at the cemetery. There was a struggle it seems but the rains washed away any tracks.”
“Hmm. Actually there are a few clues there!”
“Please enlighten me.”
“First of all. Why would your friend go to a cemetery? To lay an ambush probably. That means he had somehow figured where the monkey man would appear next. There isn’t a body. The monkey man beats up his victims to death and leaves the body for everyone to see. He hasn’t. He veered from his modus operandi. From what I know of psychopaths, they are sticklers for routine unless they are surprised somehow. The ambush might have been the surprise. But that can’t be the only reason. The monkey man is probably someone you guys had a run in with earlier. Someone with a grudge.”
“So what do we do now?”
“I will drop you at your hotel and then go do a little snooping. I have a monkey man to catch. You have a baby to raise.”
“Very well. My friend usually wears a pink form fitting shirt and blue jeans. His name is Bahadur.”
“A fitting name for a man so attired while hunting the monkey man!”
(To be continued)

An Introduction to Manga – Part 2

25 Apr


(Continuing from part 1)

The Rise of Manga
Despite the rapid growth and prosperity displayed in today’s manga world, in truth, manga didn’t see significant growth until World War II. Back then Japan was still struggling under the strains of the war and was undergoing a period of economic upheaval. Disillusioned hungry masses looked to distractions. Cinema began to flourish as the talkies became an easy escape from the harshness of life. Under the influence of the great manga artist Tezuka Osamu (1928–1989), manga too began to gain not only national but also international recognition with works such as Astro Boy, Black Jack, Buddha, and many more. In the midst of a post-war economic struggle, Tezuka’s manga adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island sold 400,000 copies to become the nation’s top-seller.


During the 1960s, the generation that enjoyed reading manga as children grew up to take their place in society. They took their love for manga along. People no longer viewed manga as something to be enjoyed only by children — slowly yet surely manga was gaining a steadily growing adult fanbase. American comics at the time primarily had a huge audience of young boys idolizing superheroes who zipped out with incredible powers and saved the earth over and over again, but the Japanese community was developing its own audience. And like most things Japanese they were not about to make it simple.

Groups spawned out, social in nature yet reminiscent of the glory days of American street gangs. The fans would dress up, they would gather en masse to support their favorite shows, tickets for any movie adaptions of popular manga would go sold out thanks to these dedicated fans. And they werent all instantly accepted. How much would you have to love Nagraj to dress up in a green snakeman costume and go out to face the world tomorrow? I’m guessing unless you are a rabid Nagraj fan it wont be easy. Neither was it easy for any of these earlier cosplay pioneers. Manga fans were considered to be worthy of occupying only the fringes of society. Not implicitly illegal in nature, yet not something that was embraced and accepted. To say there was a fear of this growing culture would be an understatement, early cosplayers were treated with a mixture of horror and apprehension. But then that is the way society is, and it is the fear of the unknown that keeps society functional as a whole.

Behold society, we bring you the true face of horror: COSPLAY

They were the shadow folk of their era. And like all Shadow folk in all generations, they moved on to be a force to be reckoned. Times changed and the various styles of manga changed with them. To accomodate the ever growing fanbase artists/writers started coming out with varied and diverse manga. Encompassing every strand of life, death and society they could think of. From 1980 to 2000, manga saw not only an evolution of genre and style, but also the introduction of sophisticated techniques specifically geared toward enhancing its looks and effects. Techniques like screen tones (a series of adhesive, stylized, design patterns used to suggest color) gave new sleek looks to the finished pages. Story lines became more complex and widespread to include more audience interests, such as science fiction (mostly for males), sports, politics, religion, sex, and romance (pulling in more female readers and artists). With the rise of the Gundam era Manga’s commercial cousin the Anime was born. Movies based of popular series became instant hits and animated movies became big business. The five major production houses in Japan got into a veritable arms race. And animation studios such as Sunrise and Ghibli made gold. The eighties heralded the big boom for Japanese animation and manga. A boom that continues even today.

In the new millennium, along with the growing market appeal, scores of new artists are coming up with original ideas of their own in hopes of making it big in Japan and worldwide. At the same time, the number of talented female artists has skyrocketed; many of these artists are housewives who saw the opportunity of launching their manga career in drawing manga catering to female readers. And so the wheel turns and the circle is completed. Manga grows and grows, spiraling outwards in its scope and diversity.

This in fact brings us to many genres, sub genres that are manga. No discussion on manga can be complete without at least an attempt at classification. And indeed, nor will this one be.

But that as they say is a tale for another day.

To be continued…

Having Geek Pride

24 Apr
Remember in high school how being a geek was a bad thing? Remember the freshman and social hazing? Remember all of the name calling? Remember the snobby looks and derogatory comments? Did you ever stop and realize then even though you’re an adult not a whole lot has changed? People just find new ways to degrade you by pointing out that you’re older now so it’s just more pathetic than anything. The comments made as you’re flipping through a comic book or the odd stares in Toys R’ Us as you look through the action figures only further erode the all ready depleting self confidence.

If this article seems like a downer so far, may we offer the sincerest of apologies. That’s not the intent. In fact, it’s time to take pride in your geekdom. It’s time to get happy with your geeky self and we’re here to give you a whole bunch of reasons why. For just a little while, lets let the “normal” people be outed. Ready to start feeling good? Here we go!

First off lets look at the definition of normal. According to the Yahoo! Online dictionary normal is as follows: “Conforming with, adhering to, or constituting a norm, standard, pattern, level, or type; typical”. Seems fairly straight forward, but lets break it down a little bit. “Constituting a norm”, basically what that is saying is that the majority make the rules. There are many occasions where the majority haven’t exactly made the best choices. If you have doubts I refer you to any history text you can get your hands on. Now though from a sociological point of view there is no true “normal”. As times, values, trends, and people change so does that definition. In other words there is no constant for normal. It’s an ideal that is always changing and shifting. Which means that the time of the geek is coming right around the corner. Don’t believe me? Check this out.
According to Variety’s blog ‘

’ written by Tom McLean who follows the trends, buzz, and business of the comic book industry (it ended November 21). The fact that Variety has a comic blog should be making you feel pretty good right about now. In an August post stated that San Diego’s Comic-Con’s attendance was approximately 125,000. Which is about 2,000 more people than the previous year. McLean also stated that at Wizard World’s Chicago comic con they saw numbers of about 68,000. That is a lot of geeks in one spot on both occasions. Are you still feeling alone and outcast? Let’s crank it up a notch.
Let’s take a look at comic book movies for a moment. Sylvester Stallone made a comment once saying that, “Comic book movies are ruining the action movie genre”. Ok Sly, let’s take a look at these numbers. Bukisa.com lists the
. Here’s the quick rundown:
#1: The Dark Knight- $ 158,411,483
#2: Spider-Man- $114,844,116
#3: Spider-Man 2- $88,156,227
#4: Spider-Man 3- $151,116,516
#5: Iron Man- $318,412,101
#6: Batman (1989)- $40,489,746
#7: Men In Black- $51,068,455
#8: X-Men: The Last Stand- $102,750,665
#9: X2: X-Men United- $85,558,731
#10: 300- $70,885,301
It’s not exactly chump change, but then again it’s not ‘Titanic’ numbers either. Even still, those are movies that geeks wanted to see and paid their money to support. Overall, those numbers really aren’t too shabby.
Lastly lets look at some famous comic geeks. That’s right, geeks with power and influence. Neil Patrick Harris is an avid comic geek and has a comic shop on both the west and east coast that he visits depending on where he’s working. Not only that, but Harris has done two superhero voices in the animated movies line from DC. He played The Flash in Justice League New Frontier and he voiced Nightwing in Batman: Under the Red Hood. Seth Green is an avid comic book fan, if you didn’t gather that from his show on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim ‘Robot Chicken’. Nicolas Cage when filming Ghost Rider had to have editors CG out his Ghost Rider tattoo that he has. Not only that, but he named his son Kal-El. Speaking of comic book inspired kids names, Kevin Smith’s daughter is named after a Batman villainess. Her name is Harley Quinn. Phil Morris who plays the Martian Manhunter on ‘Smallville’ is a great fan of comics as well and openly shows his pride whenever he can. There are many others, but that should be enough to give you the idea.
So do you fell better about your geek pride yet? We certainly hope so. There are geeks out there everywhere and our numbers are growing. So it’s only a matter of time before we decided what the norm is. Here’s one last bit to help boost your self confidence a little. If someone says something snide to you about your Green Lanter t-shirt or the comic book your reading tell them that those things make more sense to you than spending $60 on pants that were pre-ripped for a fashion statement. GEEKS LET’S COME TOGETHER!

The Adventures of Karen Ross (Part 1)

24 Apr
Click. Click. With every step I took my crutches clicked. Wooden crutches don’t do that, but the metal ones will. I stopped by the low brown fence to adjust my backpack. High school was bad enough, but add dislocating a knee in in front of everyone and the joy of being on crutches and it became all but a disaster. I took off my blue L.L. Bean backpack and set it on one of the square posts. My upper body hurt enough without the extra 50 pounds on my shoulders. The wind picked up blowing some of my dark brown hair out of the pony tail. I propped the crutches against the fence while I did a balancing act on the leg that wasn’t injured as I tried to get my hair back under control. After that little chore was taken care of I unzipped my coat a little. It was cool, but at the same time warm for October; especially in Maine.


I suppose than an introduction is in order. My name is Karen Ross and I’m your below average high school student. That’s not saying that my grades were awful; to the contrary they were great. I am what cliques would call a nerd, but I prefer to think of myself as a ghost. What I mean is that nobody notices me unless they need something, and most days it seems to be a scape goat or target for teen angst. I don’t get beat up, but I get picked on a lot. Fashion and gossip couldn’t interest me less than if they were put into full mathematical equations. I mind my own business and I wear jeans and t-shirts, usually with some cartoon or comic book character on them. Trying to get with the “in” crowd was far too much effort with too few rewards as far as I was concerned.

“Well if it isn’t the three legged wonder,”

I turned to my left only to see Jeff Ammon. Jeff was my best friend and was the first by my side when my knee had gone out. I trusted Jeff more than I trusted any other person, but I could never fully shake the feeling that he had a lot of skeletons in his closet. Jeff adjusted his wire framed glasses to stop them from sliding down his nose. He then shifted the weight of his own backpack as he looked me over.

“You seem even thinner than usual, and considering that you’re like a stick to begin with that’s kinda impressive,” Jeff said.

“It’s pretty much the pants. I gotta have something to cover the brace that my knee is in which means baggy wide legged jeans,” I said.

“I see, but now it looks like you’re trying to smuggle in a bazooka,” he laughed.

“Did I ever tell you that considering how light your hair is I sometime have difficulty telling if it’s bleach blonde or white?” I smirked.

“Yeah, yeah, yuck it up. You’re just jealous because my hair is so short that all I have to do is run a towel over it in the morning and it’s done,” he said running a hand over his head.

The bell rang and I picked up my blue burden. I look across the school yard and I saw a man staring at me. He was very tall, easily seven to eight feet tall with a massive build. He was wearing some kind of black war armor that looked very old, but at the same time sparkled in the sun as though it were new. I could barely make out what appeared to be gold an silver designs. His face was rugged with a tough close cut black beard that matched his short messy hair. Under his right arm he held a helmet while his left rested on the handle of a sword attached to a wide belt. The wind picked up tossing his hair about and blowing the black cape that was holding on to the breast plate by golden latches. I felt his eye burning into me as he stared.

“Jeff, c’mere for a minute,” I called to Jeff not taking my eyes off from this man.

“What?”

“Do you see that man?” I pointed.

“What man?” Jeff asked looking where I pointed.

“Step to the side so that the tree isn’t in your way,” I looked at Jeff.

“I still don’t see anyone,” Jeff shrugged.

“He’s right,”

I looked back and stopped short. He wasn’t there anymore. I muttered a nevermind to Jeff and followed him inside. I knew that I had seen someone, but there was no use making a fuss about it. I didn’t need anyone thinking that I was crazy, well, even more so than they already thought I was. I hobbled into homeroom for attendence and the morning announcements. People were talking all around me, but it sounded like indiscriminate buzzing. My mind was still on the mysterious armored man. The bell for first period snapping me out of my thoughts. At least I could try to forget him in ancient midieval history.

Going into Mr. Sarissa’s room was always a treat for me. All of the other students thought that he was weird, but I thought he was fascinating. His room was lined with timelines of various ancient civilizations and various set pieces that he had painted for the drama club. As I crutched my way in I saw that Mr. Sarissa was writing on the board. As much time as he spent writing on that blackboard I would think that he’d wind up with some chalk dust on his three piece suit, but he never seemed to have any trace of it. I sat in my seat and got out my books after propping my crutches against the cabinets that lined the wall closest to the door. The bell rang for class to start and Mr. Sarissa stopped writing and faced the class. He carefully brushed the chalk off from his hands as he scanned his notes for the day. Everyone was still chatting ignoring the fact that class had offically begun.

“ALRIGHT!” Mr. Sarissa boomed.

They all stopped talking. Mr. Sarissa’s voice wasn’t normally that loud, but he could make it so when the occasion called for it. Everyone stared at Mr. Sarissa who was pleased for grabbing their attention. He nodded as he twirled the end of his handlebar moustache bewteen his thumb and fore finger. The man looked like he would have been more at home during the Victorian peroid in England than he would in a small town in Maine during the 21st century. Mr. Sarissa told everyone to write down the vocabulary words as we would be discussing them today. As people scribbled down the words on the board he poured himself a cup of tea from a blue willow tea pot into a matching tea cup sitting on a saucer. After a sip of tea he pushed up his squarish red tinted glasses. That was the signal that it was time to get down to business. Todays class was about some of the wars of ancient Greece. What I liked about Mr. Sarissa was that he always tied in some mythology and artistic references as well. When class was over I grabbed my things and prepared for the trek to the opposite end of the hall. As I got near the door Mr. Sarissa stopped me.

“Karen are you all right?” he asked concerned in his normal quiet tone.

“Yeah, I’m sorry, just had a lot on my mind I guess,” I shook my head.

“Anything I can help with?”

“I appreciate it, but no. Like with the Spartans, I have to fight my own battles,” I pointed to the board.

“The Spartans did have help if you recall,” he grinned under his moustache.

“Yes, but their help fled leaving them to their fate. I’m not saying that you would desert me, but I just don’t think you can help. Thanks anyway, but I gotta get going to math class,” I said gesturing down the hall.

“Have a good trip then,” he waved.

The Fun and Importance of Costumes

24 Apr

In keeping with the current theme of how the adult practice of enjoying comic books and other like pursuits are seen as childish this article tackles one of the biggest. Today we’re going to look at cosplay. Which, lets be honest, is a fancy word for adults playing dress up and pretend. Now calm down for a minute. If you remember anything from past articles this is not a bashing, but a way to help boost your self esteem for the things that you enjoy which others look down upon as mindless drivel. Also, as usual, we’re gonna give you some reasons to help you out when you meet with these snooty critics.

Just to forewarn you folks, we’re going start right in with the heavy hitting stuff first. That’s right, lets look at cosplay from the psychological angle. According to Ape Playground, who make and sell playground equipment, in a release of a pamphlet called, ‘

The Psychology of Play and Well Designed Play Structures

’, they list several reasons why play is important in a developing child. Here are some of the highlights courtesy of that pamphlet:

Play gives children a sense of power and control

Play promotes imagination

Promotes investigation, repetition

Stress depletion

Helps with social interacting.

Promotes language and communication

That really seems like a strong argument to continue playing. So then why is it, as adults, if these benefits are so good for us, do we replace “play” with “sacrifice”? The way we see it, those who participate in cosplay are ahead of the curve.

Given these reasons why is it so bad to dress up and play pretend for a couple of hours? One thought, and we’re just throwing this out there, perhaps others are too uptight to let themselves go and have fun because they might get caught having fun. There are all of these reports out there about adults and stress and the health effects and how important it is to relax and have fun. So why are cosplayers getting sneered at?

Consider this for a moment; actors and actresses get paid an obscene amount of money to play dress up and pretend for a living. Why aren’t they getting shunned like cosplayers? Everyone sees them dressing up in costume, but not only that, they’re paying money to see these people dress up and play pretend for a couple of hours. Does that make any sense? Why should they have all the fun?

Admit it; admit that it’s thrilling and exciting to don the tights or armor of your favorite superhero and pay homage to them as best as you can. For a little while you’re not John Smith or Jane Doe, but Iron Man and Wonder Woman who are two loved and widely recognized icons. You get that same childhood thrill that you got at Halloween when you got to wear your costume to show off as you went door to door collecting candy. Only as an adult it’s better because you look more like the character. As a woman you developed and as a man you were able to put on muscles to fill the suit better.

Although despite the mindset we really must ask that you cosplay responsibly. For example, don’t get too carried away as Power Girl and try to pick up a car or as Green Lantern don’t try to make the power ring work, or even worse, fly. Answering only to that character name is acceptable, but trying to show off your powers and abilities, not really.

If anyone doubts as to the fun that goes with dress up or cosplay, here’s a quote from Orlando Bloom; “I mean, I have a great job. I get to dress up and become somebody else, especially when it’s someone like Legolas, who’s this super-cool kind of otherworldly elf. It’s, like, I’m lucky, man, so why would I not appreciate that?” You heard it from an expert folks. Dressing up is a good thing.

Many of you are well ahead of the game we’re sure, but it never hurts to have additional resources. Here’s a list of places online to get great costumes and accessories. For those of you just starting out these are a great place to start.

Discount Superhero Costumes

Official Superhero Costumes

Costume Discounters

Costume Craze

Buy Superhero Costumes

Discount Halloween Costumes

So go forth and wear the spandex proudly. Remember, you’re not an immature adult; you’re simply exercising your creativity while de-stressing yourself. If all else fails tell people you’re trying out for a low budget superhero flick and that should take of things for a little while. The bottom line is this; you’re having fun!