Archive | August, 2011

A Marvelite reviews DC’s Justice League #1

31 Aug
 

DCnuEverything will change in a Flash
Big words DC, big words.
The most awaited comic book in the history of, well, comic books is officially out. Estimates suggest that around 93% of the people who read comic books are buying this book. The other 7% are downloading it off the internet even as we speak. Eager for its little gamble to succeed, DC has assigned the flagship title, which is supposed to introduce us to the new DCU, to its A-team : Geoff Johns on words and Jim Lee on art. Unfortunately, it appears DC has only half of that equation working for it.
Set 5 years before the present day DCU, Justice League #1 takes us to the time of the first Introduction of Super-Heroes to a world that fears them. The book opens in Gotham City with Batman chasing some kind of Alien getting chased himself by the police. Green Lantern swoops in and does his thing while mocking Batman for not having any powers. They then decide the ‘unauthorized extraterrestrial presence’ and this weird alien who’s been showing up in Metropolis have to be somehow connected. They track Superman in a demolition zone in Metropolis and Green Lantern gets knocked out before they can say ‘Howdy’.
I know what you’re thinking – “So that’s how the book starts.”
No it’s not, that’s all we get. I kid you not, all we get in the first issue of the Full reboot is Batman and Green Lantern playing Buddy Cop. What DC really needed to do was give us all the main characters and bring them into conflict with big explosions all over the place. That would be starting with a bang.
(click to enlarge)
See, I’m all for Character interactions and, as a casual DC reader, actually liked the I-hate-you-but-I-love-you bromance Batman and Green Lantern always had, but this is just not the place for it. The intentions are obvious in pairing up their most popular character with the character who recently got an albeit bad summer flick to give the new readers something familiar. However, the issue completely pales if you compare it with the other Big Superteam origin story in the modern era, New Avengers #1. Also, one more thing not in the book’s favour is the fact that instead of getting the Hal Jordan we’ve known and loved for decades, we get the Douche bag Van Wilder version that already got his ass kicked in the Box Office. On the other hand, Johns writes one heck of a Batman, so much so that I’d now rather he’d write Batman or Detective comics instead of JL.
There were (and are) a lot of apprehensions about whether Jim Lee would be able to keep up with a monthly schedule considering his history of delays, but tell you what, I won’t mind reasonable delays if he continues to hit it out of the park like he’s done here. Excellent Visual storytelling and some good Batman action and GL constructs go a long way in salvaging the issue.
All in all, badly plotted, with awesome art, Justice League #1 kicks off the DC reboot to a lukewarm start. The next month will tell if this goes on to be accepted and embraced by the fanboy community, or goes the way of ‘Heroes Reborn’. 
Score : 2.6/5
Review by Anubhav Sharma

And so it begins: JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 (2011) REVIEW!

31 Aug

Its here folks! At last after all the hype and chaos that has been the news of DC reinventing itself and the madness of Flashpoint that sees its finale issue out this week, we see the first glimpse of the New DC Universe!

Apologies for the delayed post but I felt that waiting for a chance to read this and get the earliest possible review out to you all was worth delaying and postponing the scheduled post for today… ok, ok, you caught me and I really, really wanted to read it!

And for your consideration we here at Comic Addicts bring to you the all the gory details about the new face of the iconic names we have all grown up with and love.

(Click to enlarge)

Today we start with the first book out the starting gate: Justice League #1.

This opening salvo is written by recent DC architect for the Green Lantern franchise, Geoff Johns, a brand which he took from vague old title to the among the most popular and strong brands in the entire DCU line, except perhaps the Batman family. Johns is also the brains behind “Blackest Night”, “Brightest Day” and “Flashpoint” among many others.
And of course on art duties we have legendary comic creator Jim Lee who has been akin to a god for comic fans and was the architect and boss-man behind the awesome Wildstorm comics and co-founder over at Image.

And so now we come to a crossroads – the old DCU which we all had our own loves and hates with is being effectively put to a halt, much like the famous “Crisis on Infinite Earth” tried to do all those decades ago but only partially managed. This time an entirely new DC Universe is being brought to life with only selective connections to the past and all of that molded to fit this new Universe.
Is it worth it? Is this really a good and fresh start? Have DC shot themselves completely in the foot? Will this bring DC back to the greatness it once had and give new life to beloved characters? Lets find out together shall we?


Geoff Johns has been systematically revamping franchises across DC ever since his first success with the GL books showed his ability and passion for it. He followed this up with his version of Supermans Origin (which I didnt much care for I must admit) and then the Flash, with Aquaman and others in his sights for the future.
Well now he gets to take that to the next level and effectively has been one of the main minds behind this new universe and his helming of this new JL as well as Aquaman and having full control of the GL books even now (them being the only ones retaining the recent story-arcs) shows his standing and where all he is taking a hand.
But enough about all that stuff – on to the review!

Story:
I went into this both giddy as a school-boy with excitement because I’ve always been a sucker for alternate reality stories and because this was a great creative team doing that for one of the most iconic team-books in comic history and laying the groundwork for the entire new DC Universe. But at the same time the scale and pressure on this book also made me apprehensive that I would hate anything short of perfection simply by default.

A dangerous place for anything to find itself, but I have to admit, this Justice League incarnation thus far has given me pause and definitely given the kid hoping against hope within me some encouragement.

(click to enlarge)

Basically this first story arc of Justice League, as some of you may know, deals with the earliest days of the superhero community in this brave new world and shows how this Justice League came to become the iconic super-team everyone knows and trusts. Of course in this story the world has not HAD costumed heroes before really and at this juncture does not trust them – hence making this story a perfect opener and setup for the new status quo.
In all honesty when I think about it, this was a great opener! Full of action, good banter between characters, good pacing and the characters themselves seem familiar enough to the basics that we ascribe to them and expect, yet has a more dynamic and new feel to it which serves the purpose of this reboot.
However before everyone gets their hopes up I feel I should say that this is basically an early chapter in the story and seems akin to a Batman/Green Lantern buddy movie with none of the other leaguers getting any page time – except for a short bit in between showing a still normal Vic Stone who over the course of this arc will become the ‘chrome crusader’ we all know as Cyborg. Superman has a short appearance but going by it and the solicits for the next issue (see our solicit listing on facebook HERE) I don’t mind really.

How you like me now GL?! (click to enlarge)

We start of following Batman chasing down a bad guy and getting (unwanted) help from a very supercilious Green Lantern who thinks he’s “the best there is” and all that, well you get the idea. They have a good equation to read, entertaining and funny at parts.
Also made clear in this first issue is the main villain for this arc – Darkseid himself. Now I get the idea, its a great way to bring the team together being that ol’ Darky is a threat that pretty much none of them would be able to handle one-on-one and is a global level threat, thus creating a need for a team of the best of the metahuman crowd.
The only danger point I feel is that putting Darkseid as the villain right off the starting line, how do you follow that up? I mean really, he is like the biggest bad in the DCU and Im sure if they wanted to they could have found a substitute. But that is something we can judge when that moment comes, for now this looks good.
Lastly, what I liked about the way this has been approached is that its a good setup and gives you just enough without making the story a short one. It would have been easy to either put in too much or make it shorter and simpler, but the folks behind this seem to be building a nice story that will play out over several issues – and honestly if they can be as good (or ideally better) then this issue then I’m definitely going to be reading this regularly. 
The Wayfarer’s scoring: 4.5 / 5

Art:

Time to run home to mommy!

Fully drawn by Jim Lee himself and inked by Scott Williams, this is a great fun issue to read. The cover while nice is essentially a group hero-shot and personally is less important for me.
I’m still not too crazy about the weird collar and certain design elements of the new costumes (except Wonder Womans, I like that one!) but in this issue we are limited to Batman and GL and they are relatively alright. The Batman suit looks good and the subtle armoured look works for a ‘mere-mortal’ like Batman as he stands amidst near gods. Green Lanterns too is decent enough and honestly Im just relieved that Lee didn’t bring in something like the dog-collar that Kyle Rayner had once-upon-a-time in his earlier GL days. And the Superman costume – well I realised early on that these are all subjective and people will like or dislike based on their taste and nature – while its not spectacular, I feel it works really well for this new age Man of Steel and doesn’t look bad at all.
The action is intense and the art team seems to do adequate justice to the script they’ve been given with loads of explosions and flashes and things getting blown up and I have to admit that I went into this thinking Lee had not grown or evolved and we were going to get more of the same-old and expecting 90’s flashbacks! But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Lee has done a good job maintaining his own unique look and feel while bringing a more pleasing look to his layouts then I’ve seen in a bit. I hope he can keep this up on a regular basis as the comic gets on track for its monthly scheduling.

Feel the power of my breakfast burrito!

There were small details that gave me pause like this one that I had to share with you showing a creature blasting some choppers and I have to say, is it just me or does it not look like the thing is blowing out both ends? Am I right?
Suitable and well put together artwork from the entire team – pencils, inks, colours all. 
The Wayfarer’s scoring: 4 / 5

Anyway, so there you have it. I could give you more details and spoilers but ask yourself – would you want me to or would you rather get out there and read this new adventure for yourselves? Thats what I thought.

As a last word I’d like to say that I’ve few mentions of how this new universe shown here and in the upcoming Action Comics by Grant Morrison brings us a world that does not like and fears the super-powered beings and is basically DC trying to emulate Marvel and such.
I won’t deny its possible, but I ask this question: If tomorrow a bunch of guys like the DC heroes popped up around the globe, would people take it in stride and all be hunky-dory? Or would there be pandemonium as everyone rushes to understand and deal with or destroy these new beings that are beyond the average human and upset the ‘way things are’ for us all?

Not the heroes they deserve, but the ones they need? (click to enlarge)

It is a reasonable starting point but unless they are really foolish, I don’t imagine DC will go entirely the Marvel route and will start here in a realistic and logical way as they have and the other comics to come which are in the “Present day” (as opposed to this first flashback story arc) will show us a world where the heroes have been around a while and while there are less liked ones, the big names and genuine heroes will be loved and trusted in varying degrees.
The big difference between DC and Marvel has almost always been that DC is more fantastically-inclined in their story-telling, dealing with bigger pictures and a more hopeful world where people adore and praise their heroes – while Marvel has been a more gritty and “real” world where people turn on supers just as easily as we turn on failures in the real world.
If DC goes the Marvel way, then likely this entire endeavor is doomed to failure in my view – if not financially, then definitely creatively because that would be killing the core of what makes the DC heroes like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

Only time will tell, in the meantime I intend to enjoy what I can while I can and can afford! Till next time wayfarers!
Cheers!

Knowing Jazyl Homavazir

30 Aug
Who is Jazyl Homavazir?

I’m a 25 year old freelance 2D Animator, Illustrator & Character Concept artist from Mumbai, India. I have a passion for art & story telling . I am heavily influenced by various animated shows & aspire to get a full time job in the field of 2D animation real soon. I do have my own style of art but I am more influenced by anime & manga, not just for the compelling art but also the fantastic long drawn out story arcs.
I am also the creator of The Beast Legion (http://www.thebeastlegion.com/) , a webcomic project that I started in 2010. Apart from that I work on various freelance projects.
Where can we check out more of your art?
Well, I post a lot of the work I do in my free time as well as some commissioned work on my Deviantart page which is http://www.jazylh.deviantart.com/ . I think it’s ‘The ‘ website to gain inspiration as well as get some great feedback from people who are actually a part of the arts & Animation Industry.
You can also find my Animation work at my Youtube account which is http://www.youtube.com/jazzistoobad

Monstor and child
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What inspires you to create comics & Illustrations?
I’m a big time fantasy reader. I absolutely love reading those stories. So that’s one of the biggest motivations that drove me towards creating the comic.
I grew up watching shows like He-man & Thundercats from the 80’s & I’m sure as the story advances you’ll see hints pointing towards those shows at some point . As I grew up I deviated to watching Anime & was instantly captivated by the character designs & how well interrelated character stories merged into one. The biggest anime/manga influences I’ve come across are Naruto & Fullmetal Alchemist. I’m a big fan of Misashi Kishimoto’s ability to create such a long drawn story which only gets better as you go ahead .
As for Illustrations, I’ve been drawing since I was 6. I have done my diploma in Animation at Arena Multimedia but initially, I had no formal training in the field of art. In 2006 I started an account on Deviantart . I started posting my work there & from then on I have worked on several commissions , both private & corporate. One of my most important commissions , if all goes well, should be revealed in late 2012 but that’s all I can mention at this point.
Beast of Burdur
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Davros
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What is the Beast Legion all about?
The Beast Legion is a fantasy adventure Black/White comic that takes place in a fantasy based world know as Lithopia. The story follows the a journey of Prince Xeus who is forced to flee his homeland after it falls into the clutches of an Evil Warlock named Dragos & his band of mutated Shadow Nexus Warriors. I know the plot may sound cliché but trust me, when you read the first three issues you’ll get an exact Idea of what to expect.
Furthermore, the story focuses on Xeus’s adventure to reclaim his homeland by first mastering the power of The Ancient Guardian Beasts of Lithopia & overcome extraordinary odds by making new friends & battling a horde of evil warriors who themselves possess similar powers.
The title, “The Beast Legion” refers to the fact that these characters can transform into anthropomorphic beast counterparts during battle.

Beast Legion – Poster
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How long did it take for you to conceptualize the comic?
I’ve been working on this concept for a little over three years. It started back in 2007 when I entered it as script for the Animax Pan-Asia competition. I’m not a professional writer by any means, but I do think I can get a story across. In any case, Things didn’t work out that time so I went back & started to look back & improve on the story, add more believable characters & make it more interesting for the reader.
One day I got this crazy idea of pitching the concept to a cartoon studio but after thorough research I found that you need content to pitch the script. So I went ahead & initially created character bios for some of the prominent characters. Later in 2008 I came across several great webcomics, which I read till this very day. That’s when I decided to transform the story from script to paper. It took a while to get used to the style I wanted but I finally started drawing the comic in 2009 & ended up publishing it in June, 2010.

Poster
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Is the manga free to read online? How many issues have been released so far?
Yes , it’s totally free to read it online. I have currently released five issues online. Issue 5 is still ongoing & Issue 6 should start in mid July & trust me, it’s going to be one of the ‘Best’ & most important issues of the saga.


Scot vs Sinestro!
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Why is the comic in Greyscale?
That one is easy. I work on this comic whenever I get the free time from my freelance work. I’m pretty serious about it making into mainstream media, but the reality is I do everything solo. Right from writing, penciling, inking, shading & lettering. Coloring would be a whole different beast (no pun intended !). Maybe someday if I get someone to volunteer for coloring I might think about it.



Horvath
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Heroes
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How many issues do you plan on releasing?
I have always approached this manga as an Anime series & divided it into two seasons of 26 episodes each. So that’s around 52 episodes. The stories in the manga however further subdivide these episodes into two parts. So all in all, that would probably be around 100 issues or so. I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to reach those many issues after I get a full time job, but I will continue to try my best working on it as long as I possibly can, ‘cause It’s a concept really dear to my heart.

Realm of Fantasy
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Are the comics available in print?
Yes. However, at present they are available at http://www.indyplanet.com/ for readers outside India & http://www.pothi.com/ for readers within the country. I do however someday plan to find a publisher who could market & distribute the comic both in India & Internationally. Only time will tell where that leads me. The plus point of the printed issues is that they come with a cover , each of which is done by some awesome artist & a special pin-up in certain issues.
 

Shadow Nexus
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What are the future plans both for yourself & The Comic?
Oh I’ve always believed in being humble yet dreaming BIG. My main career choice is 2D Animation & I hope to soon get a full time job & make my mark in the field of 2D Animation & Character design & Development.
As for ‘The Beast Legion’, I will be there at Comic Con Express, Mumbai on the 21st & 22nd of October, 2011 to promote the comic. I will be selling the first 4 issues (in print) there & hopefully find a publisher willing to help me distribute it.
The Last Elf
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Adventures of a Rose (A shoujo review)

29 Aug
 

Pulling from our favourites once again folks, here’s something especially for the ladies! Barajou No Kiss (a.k.a. “Kiss of the Rose Princess”)!!
This is a shoujo that I absolutely loved for its uniqueness… OK, maybe not so unique since the story keeps reminding me of Card Captor Sakura now and then, but it’s still unique to a great extent never the less.
To begin with, the entire portrayal of the manga screams 19th century England, and yet, somehow it oozes the Japanese essence in the story as well as the art – the kind of blend that is hard to get and the mangaka has managed to capture the essence of both elements and mix them up perfectly. Anyway, so without further ado, let me dive straight into the details you’re all waiting to find out.

Plot: 
The story of Barajou No Kiss is a fantasy, action, adventure and romance story by Shouoto Aya that revolves around a high school girl (now that’s what I call a real surprise!), Anis Yamamoto, who is given this strange choker by her father that looks like a black neck-strap with a pretty rose at the center. Her father specifically warns her not to lose the choker and that if she does she will be punished severely! Now, now, its not because the choker is super rare or expensive. The choker has a long story of its own that will be revealed later – no, not in the review, I mean in the story. 

Anis of course is far from happy with the choker since it attracts a lot of attention and wearing something like that goes against the dress code, which is why she’s always being chased around by a disciplinarian teacher, threatening her to take it off.
The teacher’s wish comes true as the choker comes off her finally, but to her dismay, is immediately lost – more like taken away by a strange(-ly cute) creature. Anis is now terrified, wondering what her punishment might be and starts looking for it before her father finds out about it, leading her to a discovery that changes her life.
I’m not going to spoil the story for you by spilling out what happens after that but lets just say it turns her life upside down. (Oh my! I dunno how many of these surprises I can take!) The story might seem like old wine in a new bottle, but the new bottle is what makes it interesting!


Story: 
Since I have probably already dragged on enough, let me say what I think of it, briefly. The story is definitely good so far, though I’m not sure if guys would enjoy it as much. That depends on your tastes I suppose – if you happen to love gory stuff, you might find this a little boring. Now let me inform that the story is far from the usual magical-girl story and I definitely like it’s narration and pacing. It doesn’t drag on such that anything needs to be fast-forwarded and slows down and gives enough explanation where it’s needed. Also, since the main character is a mush-hater you don’t have to worry about her giving emotional speeches at random.

(click to enlarge!)

The story doesn’t really have a kawaii or moe feel to it and the girl does more than just waving her magical wand around. Wait, she doesn’t actually have one! Anyway, the feel of the story leans more towards Goth than moe, which is one of the reasons why I enjoy reading it.
The story does have a considerable amount of twists of its own and a lot of new characters popping up periodically, each more annoying than the other – but at some point it becomes kinda obvious where the story is leading. But that’s not the end. There’s still a lot of juice left in the fuel-tank in the form of some unanswered questions that you want to see answered and some new incidents that intensify the storyline. I’d give it a 6 on 10 for the originality of the story, since it reminded me of Card Captor Sakura, once it boiled down to its main plot.


Characters: 
The characters are definitely not of a new breed. The girl is a typical Tsundere, but what I loved about her is how strong she is as a person. She comes across a lot of shocking revelations about people close to her, but that doesn’t shake her. She continues to move ahead, never unnerved by any of the disastrous stuff that happens to her. She’s not the kind to cry when something goes wrong or run to help. Well, maybe she does, sometimes, but not in a way that makes her look like a typical damsel in distress.
So that’s it for the main character. Other characters, like her, are not entirely of a new breed either but have been defined well and shown to possess a very good sense of judgement and know what to prioritize at what moment.
Character design is beautiful. This manga is definitely not short of bishonen, as expected of a pro shojo mangaka. So considering all these elements, I’d give it 6 on 10 for character design including their personality.

Art: 
I could write an entire page describing the beautiful artwork in this manga, but I’ll sum it up for you in one word – GORGEOUS! 
If you happen to love the kind of art style you get to see in Kuroshitsuji a.k.a. Black Butler, you are going to love this. There is absolutely no flaw in the art style and as I mentioned earlier, it brings out that old English essence and yet manages to keep you reminded through its art that it’s still very Japanese. I also love how it maintains that goth-magical feel to it while still keeping a casual high school life atmosphere without making the two elements blatantly distinct. The mangaka definitely knows how to blend them, I’d give her that.
 So overall I’d rate it 10 on 10 for its perfect art and character design.

(click to enlarge!)

The story is a fun read if you are looking for a fantasy and shoujo story with a goth element in it. I’d rate this manga 7 on 10 for the overall enjoyment factor, no matter how much it reminds me of a certain CLAMP work. It’s still fun to read.
That’s all about Barajou No Kiss. See ya again next Monday with another review. If you have any particular review request, you can let me know in the comments.
Also let me know if you’d like me to cover some other aspects of the manga I review, so you can get the best of me.
Happy reading!


– By Seema Kakade

What Rabhas has meant to Indian comic books.

28 Aug





Series End Review : The Rabhas Incident

If there ever was a Metaphor for the Indian comic book industry finally coming of age, this is it folks. Featured as part of Level 10 studios’ Comic JUMP anthology, the Rabhas Incident has captured the imagination and unwavering attention of thousands of fanboys who never believed something as good as this would ever be done by an Indian company. Probably THE most consistently awesome comic book series ever published in India, Rabhas recently ended with JUMP issue 11.
The mini-series follows the story of one RAW agent’s mission to find survivors in a zombie infested Bangalore. What really hits you about the story is the number of diverse topics and characters it manages to cover within the short span of 10 issues. On his little adventure, Major Rafeeq Ahmed encounters Zombies, political activists, a Katanna-wielding Priest, Victims of regionalism, perverts, a mad scientist, a woman getting rescued in pure bollywood fashion and a whole bunch of more zombies.

One can see the inspiration drawn from Zombie stories in mainstream Graphic fiction and other mediums while adding a sort of inexplicable inherent desi-ness. Every character in the story has something very familiar about them, in that these feel like the sort of characters you encounter every day, stuck in a situation that is anything but normal. Writer Suhas Sundar does an excellent job of finding a distinct and fitting voice for each of the characters.
Talking about the art, Harsho Mohan Chattoraj’s heavy inks and figures take some getting used to, but the fact is undeniable that this man was born to draw zombies. His art style perfectly matches the general gory tone of the script and also manages to depict excellent facial expressions. Scenes with the priest taking down a bunch of zombies is to be seen to be believed and deserves cult status. Depiction of action and motion is very fluid and dynamic and gives an almost ‘Bryan Hitch’ feel of big screen goodness.
If you’ve been waiting for signs of the rise of comic books in India, this is it folks. The perfect amalgamation of western classics and Desi masala, The Rabhas Incident has taken the first step towards the Indian comic book renaissance. With it coming to an end, it’s time to look forward to more great work from the creators involved as well as Level 10 studios.
Score: 3.7 / 5 
Review by Anubhav Sharma

Fantasising fondly of the "Fantastic Four" (1967 animated series)

27 Aug
When I was a kid in the fourth grade, one fine afternoon a routine bout of channel surfing gave me a completely new channel with a wonderful concept – they broadcast Cartoons right through the day. The channel was then called Cartoon Network, and they used to broadcast mostly Hanna Barbera stuff – which I was new to, back then. I saw a lot of classics I knew (Tom & Jerry, Looney Tunes), new stuff I came to love (Scooby Doo, Huckleberry Hound) and a feature that looked too interesting for words – The Power Zone. I remember this part all too well as it was a two-hour programme that featured only action cartoons.

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At the outset, I remember running home from school to thrill to the adventures of The Fantastic Four, The Centurions, Jonny Quest, Thundarr The Barbarian and Super Adventures – a gamut of H-B studio works, like Space Ghost, Birdman, Mightor, The Herculoids, Shazzan, Moby Dick, Dino Boy and the Galaxy Trio. These cartoons and the ones that followed – Swat Kats, Captain Planet, Sky Commanders, Galtar and the Golden Lance – inspired me to look for comics featuring action heroes, and to be honest I wasn’t reading a lot of foreign comics, so my action comics were limited to Indrajal Comics and Diamond Comics’ Mahabali Shaka, Agniputra Abhay, Fauladi Singh and Lamboo Motu. Only after viewing these did my interest in foreign comics, as well as in Indian publications featuring other foreign characters (IBH & Dolton both printed Indian editions of DC Comics long ago), and my chief inspiration was The Fantastic Four (1967)

Why is all this important right now? Well, I chanced upon a copy of Maximum FF , a deluxe hardcover book which actually tops the DC Absolute editions. The book features the classic issue of Fantastic Four #1, with each panel as a blow-up occupying an entire page. I have that feeling that long before the concept of “widescreen-comics” became, well, fashionable (particularly with Mark Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man & Bryan Hitch on The Ultimates & The Authority), people like Jack Kirby and Curt Swan were using it all the time. The book is a treat to behold, and took me back to my childhood days. It was this which drove me back to the animated series of yore, which in turn brought me back to more of Jack Kirby’s original comics. This series, even though made in 1967 had great production values for the day.
Fantastic Four featured a team of cosmic powered individuals – with one mission – bad guys beware! As the blurb said, those weren’t the days of sophisticated characterization, on TV as well as in the funnybooks written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Jack Kirby. Character designs were by Alex Toth and captured the youthful dynamism of the Jack Kirby illustrations. The series produced a total of twenty episodes, two of which were rehashes of earlier episodes. Of the remaining eighteen, sixteen featured in half hour shows, while the other two made up one hour-long episode.

The series has many of the familiar characters from the comics (a notable few missing are Alicia Masters, Wyatt Wingfoot, Annihilus, The Frightful Four, The Inhumans, The Mad Thinker, Puppet Master and Psycho Man) with subtle differences. Another weak-point is that most characters’ origins are never told, and are introduced as having appeared before, when they didn’t – although perhaps to a kid this makes little difference.
The episode “Klaws” features the team going head-to-head with Klaw, the master of sound. Interestingly, neither the Black Panther nor Wakanda are mentioned here.
The Mole Man makes his presence felt in two episodes, “Menace of the Mole Men” and “Return of the Mole Man”, with his original set up and plans to lower the major cities of the Earth into his domain.
We see the Red Ghost’s origin here, along with his attempts to beat the Fantastic Four in and “The Red Ghost” as well as “It all started on Yancy Street”.
Molecule Man and Giganto appear as one-note villains in “The Mysterious Molecule Man” and “Demon in the Deep” respectively.
The villain getting the most screen time is of course FF arch-nemesis Doctor Doom, having appeared in “The Three Predictions of Doctor Doom”, “The Way It All Began” and “The Micro World of Doctor Doom”.
Doctor Doom’s origin, is as always interwoven with The Fantastic Four. “The Three Predictions of Doctor Doom” has the Fantastic Four trapped in his airship while he takes them out one by one, while in the Micro World story, he traps the Fantastic Four using, what else, a shrinking device.
The Skrulls appear in “Invasion of the Super Skrulls”, wherein the Skrull Emperor sends the Super-Skrull who has the powers of all members of the Fantastic Four. In “Behold, A Distant Star”, the power hungry Warlord Morrat, as part of a plan to overthrow the Skrull Emperor – captures the Fantastic Four.
Galactus and the Silver Surfer make their debut in “Galactus” where the Silver Surfer approaches Earth to determine whether it is fit for consumption until Sue Richards (due to the absence of Alicia Masters from the show) teaches him the value of human life.
In “Prisoners of Planet X”, we see Kurgo and the inhabitants of his doomed planet as he captures the Fantastic Four and forces them to help him.
Diablo is portrayed much like his comic-origin, as an ageless warlock who is the master of alchemy and whose potions can successfully change the world, and also succeed in changing The Thing back to Ben Grimm, albeit temporarily.
A Namor pastiche, Triton appears here in “Danger in the Depths”, fighting Attuma over the fate of the surface dwellers.
The Fantastic Four encounters Kang (as Ram-A-Tut) when they travel to the past using Doctor Doom’s time platform.
Blastaar, the living bomb burst is shown to be an inhabitant of The Negative Zone who gets into our universe using a space portal.
“The Terrible Tribunal” features Blastaar, The Molecule Man and Klaw recollecting their adventures as a judge sentences Reed as guilty. In “The Deadly Director”, the Imposter plots to make a film on the Fantastic Four, as unbeknownst to them he secretly plots their death. The above two episodes, for the most part are retelling of previous stories.
My favourite episodes, in order are:
Behold, A Distant Star
The Three Predictions of Doctor Doom
Ram-A-Tut
Galactus
Diablo
After watching all this, I have an urge to catch all the Marvel Animated Features – especially those I missed the first time around. Join me next week for the First Season of the longest running show and most respected of them all, The X-Men, wont you?

Gintama – A 2nd Movie Announced!

26 Aug

 There is no shortage of Samurai Themed anime’s out there, but one in particular stands out from the crowd for being bold and different: Gintama.
Gintama has grown in the past few years from a manga to a prime-time weekly show with over 220 episodes and counting (no fillers !). If you are in a mood for a Samurai-related-comedy-themed anime with many parodies and pop culture references, Gintama is your best bet! There is no other show like it… Seriously!!
 That being said… Greetings Gintama Fans – I bring great news!!
Everyone’s favorite naturally-permed, silver-haired samurai – Sakata Gintoki – is all set for his return to the big screen for the second time. Warner Brothers Japan recently announced that a second feature film will start its production soon. As for the release date and the movie title, they are still to be decided.
If you have not seen the previous movie, Gintama: Shinyaku Benizakura-Hen, it was a story-arc from the anime series (Benizakura arc) which was released on the big screen featuring a higher quality of animation and better visual effects than the original series.
Although the first movie was not an original story, its limited theatre release in 90 screens across Japan ended up earning 1.07 billion yen at the box office (not counting the DVD sales).

There is no word yet if the next movie will feature a new untold story, however, I am sure we can expect only good things from it.



 

– By Sanjay Ramjhi

Anime’s Impact on Modern Entertainment

25 Aug
 

Looking at the headline, I can’t help but marvel at the oxymoron overshadowing this piece. 
It’s not simply because “modern” entertainment is a forever changing reality. 
Forget what new terrible reality shows TV will cough up next – what I refer to exists especially within the confines of anime. 
Do you break out your imagination and create a macabre yet emotionally murderous cult classic like Elfen Lied? Do you cater to your built-in audience of adult-rated graphic novel games? The cute ‘moe girls‘ from static screens of the past (see Clannad, Kanon, etc) can do all the work. Would you turn a long running manga series into an anime and provide fans their weekly dose of debates on which medium fits the property better like One Piece, Naruto, Bleach and more? The questions are as endless as they are insignificant – because as far as Japanese media outlets are concerned, anime is a dying industry.
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However, anime as a culture, an idea never really created a huge impact at first. It didn’t suddenly decide that it would crash into the Earth from out of nowhere and kill everyone because, Bruce Willis be damned, Japan had had enough. Rather, several small servings arrived in various countries and corners of the global entertainment scene. It wasn’t a sudden and immediate change, as much as it was a small yet rapidly expanding influence. A lot of us around the world had our first real taste of anime with Akira Toriyama’s iconic Dragon Ball Z, brought to English-speaking audiences by FUNimation in the 90’s. Despite the almost universal effect it had on creating new anime fans, people weren’t jumping on the bandwagon en masse. The animated Pokemon series became extremely popular as well. Compared to the success of the video games, however, it simply pales in terms of success. However, they’re contributions paid a humongous part in cultivating a base of loyal anime fanatics (maybe a little too loyal to Pikachu).

Before we knew it, our “normal”, sociable friends were talking about Cowboy Bebop and how it was, like, “totally awesome man”. Slowly but surely the girls began squealing over Inuyasha and not only the robot obsessed but even fans of drama found solace in the multiple iterations of Gundam and Robotech. Vash the Stampede was suddenly the guy to be (at times, literally, with all the cosplay). In 2002, Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away won an Oscar for ‘Best Animated Feature’, becoming the only anime film to do so since the medium’s inception. In fact film legend Quentin Tarantino contracted Production I.G. to create all the anime sequences in Kill Bill – which in turn found their way into Bollywood’s Karam.

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A large number of next generation video games flaunted the anime style in their graphics. Be it the Tales series, .hack, Final Fantasy – hell, even The Legend of Zelda got into the act with Wind Waker. Though the game didn’t do as well as previous Zelda titles at retail, it’s style stands as a testament to the “anime game” genre. 
And that’s not even mentioning XenoSaga. It was divided into three games or “episodes”. It featured long, drawn out cut-scenes between an anime-like cast, Evangelion-like nods to Catholic imagery and symbolism, humanoid robots, and a highly convoluted plot spanning several planets ending in epic battle of the Mecha.
And lest we forget the legions and legions of fans online, dedicated to subbing the latest series from Japan for their English-speaking brethren – even if it’s been attributed to the decline of anime sales worldwide.
However, these ripples throughout our global culture were present even before anime was suddenly the “in” thing. Ghost in the Shell challenged audiences worldwide with its complex approach to human identity. “How human are you when everything can essentially be broken down into information?” Sound familiar? It should – the Matrix series (the one good film in the trilogy, that is) took inspiration from GitS in the creation of its culture. What is real? What is the truth? What is the answer to it all, and how many of us will simple “wake up”? Granted, GitS didn’t have such clean cut moral issues as it did deep-seated philosophical musings. But it gave the same message 10 and 4 years earlier in the manga and anime, respectively: You’re more than the sum of your information and there’s a whole wide world out there to explore.
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This is probably the purest form of how anime is affecting modern entertainment – the very idea, the very essence of an anime, incorporated into a live-action, special effects blockbuster. For everyday, English-speaking cinema going folk.
So what is the final word on the impact of anime on modern entertainment? 
The final word is that there may never be a final word – anime has come forward so much within it’s own right that it’s become almost indispensable. Every company has to have an “anime” style title, somewhere in their comic line-up. An American TV show has to outsource to Korea to give their show that “anime” look they know people crave, even if it doesn’t suit the property. Anime – like animation itself – has become deeply ingrained in our global culture. There will always be trading cards and toys and action figures and cosplaying, even if the anime icons change again and again. The one thing to be hoped for then, is that anime continues to break out and try newer things to appeal to not just today’s fans, but tomorrow’s potentials as well.
– Ravi Sinha

Hercules! IN SPACE!!!

24 Aug
 

Good day one and all!
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Great to see you all back here again, today we’re again taking a break from the more… esoteric and out there comics and treading more familiar ground. Oh wait… not exactly, I mean it is, he’s Marvel comics mainstay character from the Avengers, hero story and all that but… ah well, you’ll just have to see for yourself folks and I can’t help myself – must bring you something to jog the imagination a little more then usual, variety is the spice after all is it not?
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For your pleasure we bring to you today the first mini-series that Marvel EVER put out. Ever. And mini’s are now an industry standard. Couple that with this being the first book by its writer/artist and starring a then second-string character, well it makes it all the more impressive! Those of you that are fans of Marvel comics, especially in recent years, you will have read or heard of books like “Incredible Herc”, “Chaos War” and others where Hercules, the lion of Olympus, stood tall and proud and delivered spectacular action and great wit and laughs. Truly in the last few years the character has seen a revival and become so much more interesting then the one-track-minded, brutish, drunken horn-dog that he was for so long – today he’s a funny, charsimatic and surprisingly intelligent one-track-minded, brutish, drunken horn-dog. Under the guiding hand of Greg Pak – a man who is without a doubt one of the best writers in past years for me with the way he revamped the Hulk franchise with stuff like Planet Hulk and all the other great titles and stories he’s been writing – Herc and his parnter, child genius Amadeus Cho were a force to be reckoned with and the Marvel U would not be the same today in my view without their adventures!

But on to the main matter at hand!

Our topic for today is a limited series from the ancient era of 1982. Some of you may in your old addled memories recall that age, when comics were a different realm altogether.
In this midst of all the super-heroing and adventures however came an adventure unlike most any other with a story and style that brought me immense pleasure reading:
HERCULES: PRINCE OF POWER
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Written and drawn by Bob Layton (Iron Man: Armour Wars) with the legendary Jim Shooter as editor-in-chief riding shotgun through this mad romp we find this space-faring godly saga that was so popular it spawned a 2nd limited series two years later, a graphic novel 4 years after that and even in fact a 4th just last year that wrapped up this alternate possible future romp for our hero.
But I’m meandering again. To the comic!
We find at the start of our tale mighty Hercules returning to fabled Olympus for some fun, fights, games and a good time – all of which he is famously known for partaking heartily of – only to find it not quite as exciting as he remembered and before long he is drawing some godly anger for his playful shennigans.
Next thing you know Herc is banished from not only Olympus, but from Earth itself until he finds some humility and a little more sense.Talk about tough parenting…
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Granted thats not all that surprising considering what we know of the character – and I have to admit its certain similarities between the character of Herc, the playful sense of humour in the overall story and the very creatively put together string of adventures that this mini shares with Pak’s later style/take on the character that made it so easy for me to just dive into it all. They are similar enough, yet both unique in their own ways which makes it so easy to read both and not be bothered about whether it is the same continuity or not. Who cares right?
Anyway, so we follow Herc as he rides a chariot through the cosmos – yes a chariot, with horses that eat, well, people… sort of…
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In any case, he picks up a Rigellian recorder robot (long-time marvel fans will be familiar with these) on the way after meeting with some brainy aliens who would like it to travel with our hero and record his adventures and all that jazz. This of course suits the lion of Olympus just fine.
Before you know it, both are rocketing around the space-ways. Fights ensue, as do romantic interludes (oh yeah!) and of course daring heroics and even a space-race – chariot vs. space-ship, who do you think wins? Read to find out ‘cos I sure ain’t telling! 
 

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To quote Layton himself from Wizard #199:
I wanted to do a coming-of-age story, and the idea of doing it with a 5,000-year-old Greek demigod tickled my funny bone. Herc had always been portrayed by Stan Lee as a conceited, arrogant but likable prick so … it was time for Herc to grow up a bit and develop a degree of self-awareness. I’ve always had a soft spot for forgotten secondary characters and additionally, I had always wanted to try my hand at comedy writing, and Herc was the perfect foil for my brand of humor.”

 

Facing all kinds of foes and making friends as well along his travels, Hercules grows as a character nicely over the course of the story. And no he isn’t perfect and returning to reclaim his rights at the end or some such cliché, this is just the beginning of more adventures – and just because it bears being mentioned: at one point we even get to see HERCULES VS. GALACTUS!
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That a fight that intrigues you? Well I hope you take the time out to read this because be you casual, regular or even fanatical/obsessive as a comic reader and so long as you don’t have too fastidious a genre choice, this is the perfect kind of barely-heroic adventure story for everyone. Witty, violent, foolish and wise all in good measure, this really made me stop and find the follow-ups and wish Layton had done more as a comic writer!
Cheers till next week all!

Shade, The Changing Man, Vol 3: Scream Time

19 Aug

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Artists: Chris Bachalo, Bryan Talbot, Mark Pennington

Collects: Shade, The Changing Man issues 14 -19

Published under VERTIGO

And now, we come to the third and final (at least till date) volume of Peter Milligan’s Shade, The Changing Man. The inevitable confrontation between Shade and The American Scream does occur here, and we learn a few secrets about Shade, Kathy, Wizor, the American Scream, the zone of madness and the Madness Vest.

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