Anime Review Presents – SAMURAI CHAMPLOO

20 Oct

 
Konnichiwa minna!

Has everyone been indulging liberally in anime while I was gone? Your oujo sama spends a lot of time watching anime and reading manga, and tends to get lost in those worlds – all for you! All so that I have recommendations that people will enjoy. Ready for what I have this week?
Samurai Champloo is an old anime, originally aired in 2004, and ever since it’s debut continues to remain one of the classics in the field. Set in the ‘Edo’ period, the story is centered around Fuu, a 15-year-old girl who works in her uncle’s teahouse. A random series of encounters bring her together with two ronin – Jin and Mugen – whose lives she saves, only to insist they help her find ‘the samurai who smells of sunflowers’. Though vague initially, the antics of the characters keep you sufficiently entertained, until just enough of the central plot is revealed to make you wonder what’s going on.

Don’t let the simple “samurai” tag fool you. Every episode has a surprise, coupled with the traditional badass sword fights. What makes Champloo different from your average Shogunate period, katana-wielding samurai anime is the characters. Jin partly plays up to the stereotype of the undefeated sword-master with a dark past. But Mugen is a different kettle of fish altogether. The definition of Samurai only barely applies to this rogue who – in addition to using his sword – bites, kicks and slaps his way through his enemies. And his enemies aren’t always the bad guys. He itches to take on anything he comes across that may be remotely stronger than him. Mental? Absolutely.
The most startling factor is probably the inclusion of hip-hop in the series. The very first episode opens with an odd style of rapping which makes the viewer sit up and take notice. After that one comes across myriad references to rap, retro, graffiti and even Van Gogh! Perhaps in any other anime, or as part of another storyline these symbols might not have made sense, but they fit right into the madness that is Samurai Champloo.
My favourite part about the anime is undoubtedly it’s soundtrack. With every track beautifully executed, there are some fantastic hip-hop numbers on the album,in addition to the usual and typical anime style themes. Within a few episodes, you’ll be left scrambling to find the whole soundtrack and listen to it in one go.

Still not convinced? It’s been directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop and Animatrix fame. Do I see you nodding there? Now you see what I’m getting at. Give it a shot. You won’t need more than the first episode to get hooked. And you’ll find another jewel to add to your collection.
I shall be back next week, with yet another anime to recommend – meanwhile, have a look at our Mumbai Comic Con Express Updates! You don’t wanna miss it!
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EXCLUSIVE PREVIEWS: Zombie Talkies!

19 Oct

Welcome my friends to yet another round of awesome previews and news for you as we inch closer and closer to this weekends sure-to-be-awesome Comic Con Express in Mumbai!

Today we bring you another crazy comic that will be launching at the Convention, ZOMBIE TALKIES! Starting off as a script for a film project that was originally titled “Shaadi of the Dead” in keeping with the legacy of zombie flicks like those of the legendary George Romero, the comcis creator had a moment of truth/ saw the light/ saw through the matrix (or whatever analogy you prefer) at the San Diego Comic Con which led him to see that the adventures of the un-dead can be just as big a genre here in India as they are in the west.
So with the blessings of film icon Shekhar Kapur and a zeal to share their vision far and wide, the creative team not only kept working on the movie (which is now on its way to theatres near you someday soon!) but also decided to do a comic book – a couple of young up-and-comers in the form of Harshvardhan Kadam and Anish Patel came on board and along with Vaspar Dandiwala formed the team that started bringing this graphic gore-anza to life.
With a working title of “Bollywood of the Dead” they threw themselves into their tasks like a sacrificial lamb to the zombie hordes below and now we finally get to see where all this has brought us.

At first glance, I must admit that it made me think of a small story from ages back by (then lesser-known) writer Rick Remender (FrankenCastle, ) called XXXombies that was about a film crew (adult films if you must know) caught unawares in a zombie apocalypse.
But then I had a chance to see that this was meant to be more then just a short story and was part of a bigger plan by the creators which makes me curious as to what they’re planning and what makes this unique beyond it being “Indian”.
With a desi cast of characters and what appear to be some unique characters and potential situations I admit I am most intrigued by all that this could become – will it be a Resident Evil style saga? More tradition Romero style fare? Perhaps it might even go the crazed 28 Days route. At this point the creators and the publishers – Pop Culture Publishing (the organisers/brains behind Comic Con India) – are playing their cards very close to the chest.
With only these few images and even less story to go by it is hard to accurately predict what will come. But the potential is great and as Level10’s attempt at the genre has shown, the market is there for it – and the art that we’ve seen looks fun and seemingly holding back little in terms of the blood and gore, keeping to a simpler comic style art-work that I think comes out quite nicely and is often under-rated in this new comic age of more real and more gritty visuals even for stories that don’t necessarily need it. And personally I like my zombie stories to have some fun with it (is that wrong) and all indications are that this book is trying to do just that. 

Having a sit-down with Holy Cow!

18 Oct
 

You’ve all been aching to learn more about upcoming issues of Ravanayan, we’ve all been teased by art from Skull Rosary and been enticed by hints of much more still not revealed – well be at peace good readers!
We at Comic Addicts have finally nailed down the elusive creative head of Holy Cow Entertainment (HCE), Mr Vivek Goel himself along with some of his creative co-conspirators and now bring you an in-depth and honest talk about what in the coming months will make you exclaim “HOLY COW!!”
Thanks for taking out time to sit with us Vivek, its a real pleasure.
To start with, tell us how does it feel to be at the forefront of changing face of indian comics?
It feels great, honestly. Finally I have got the chance to do the things I always wanted to do, the projects, the kind of art, stories, experimentation with different art styles without being answerable to anyone. Also, I love teaching comic book art and with HCE, I finally can do that. Being a self taught artist I understand the value of time and if it took me 2 years to prepare myself I can cut short that period for my young interns to 8 months under proper guidance thereby infusing new blood in Indian comics which we seriously need at this point of time.
How did the idea for Holy Cow Entertainment germinate? what are you looking to do within that banner?
It basically started with a need and a want. A need to give myself a stable platform as an artist and a want to something unique in the form of projects of different genres, giving independent ideas a stable platform. Now is the time that creators take control of their own content and the only way possible is self publishing stuff.
Our basic aim under the banner of HCE is to unite the artist writer fraternity, to give them creative freedom so that they can deliver the best possible comics for the Indian market. The Indian comic industry is very disorganized and fails to understand that we need to work together in order to flourish together as comic making is a team work, no single person can rule it!

HCE is very much open to almost every genre and any art style, we don’t want our company to be branded into any 1 genre and that we why we are doing almost everything – 1 at a time. We started with Horror GN moving towards Indian Mythology and with our next GN “The skull rosary” being a noir mythology book and then to Serengeti Stripes – a one of a kind of project revolving around the animal kingdom!!! You name it, HCE has it.

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Would all you comics now be coming under your own banner or are you planning to work with other publishers as well?
For now, we are solely concentrating on our own banner. HCE needs to be independent enough before venturing with any other brand.
Holy Cow began with the bang launching WereHouse v1 How has the reception been for both Holy Cow and WereHouse among the industry and fans?
Its been a wonderful experience till date and WereHouse Volume 01 has been received with a bang, I just cannot seriously imagine why did somebody not imagine doing a noir book till date, B&W has tremendous potential if used properly. We have learned quite a lot since vol.1 and now vol.2 which is due in the summer of 2013 is gonna be bigger and better, there will now be 5 awesome stories with 5 totally new writers penning them!
Tell us one of the comment you received for holy cow that you think validated your work.
Holy Cow!! (in the positive way )
You soon followed WereHouse up with your one of the most anticipated title : Ravanayan. We did an extensive interview for Ravanayan so wont talk about it in detail, but we ARE going to ask you, how was it received in the market?
Technically Ravanayan was planned to release before WereHouse but the GN was complete way before Ravanayan and we thought of releasing it first. We did not even have any proper ideas about how the distribution channel and network works and so we could not risk Ravanayan 01 to be blocked or face hurdles in the distribution system. Moreover, it was the start of a company and we thought that we should start with a fatter book in the beginning, so WereHouse was released. Tell you what, Ravanayan was our primary reason to start HCE in the 1st place, the publicity picked up pretty well for it and then we understood that it needs an independent treatment and no other person or company would be able to give that – its more like raising your own baby versus raising someone else’s baby and you always give your best to your own baby Ravanayan is being received with a bang by people, in face we have sold more than 700 copies of issue 01 on the internet itself. We are learning with each issue published, we face new problems and we overcome it and Ravanayan is reaping the benefits of it and the art and the story is getting better by each passing issue, in-fact from next issue onwards Ravanayan is going to be a double sized 40 page issue.
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Post Ravanayan , there have been so many announcements from Holy Cow that its difficult to keep track. If I’m right, your next books are : Skull Rosary, Werehouse 2 and Serengeti Stripes, apart from continuing to do Ravanayan. How do you manage to do all of this?
Yes, Ravanayan will wrap up in April and “The Skull Rosary” is due in May (every year, May would be the time we would launch our annual GN’s), then from July onwards its “Serengeti Stripes” a 5-issue mini-series and Were House v2 is scheduled to launch in May 2013.
How do I manage all this? Well being unmarried has its perks… lolz. The basic rule of publishing an ongoing magazine, be it monthly or bi-monthly is: You always need to have a back up, you need to complete your work in advance. Or in simple words you always need to be ahead of schedule. I have been working to build up this company since May 2010 when I left Level 10 comics and have kept drawing since last one year, we launched WereHouse v1 when we had that complete, 4 issues of Ravanayan are completed and Serengeti Stripes is being brainstormed with The Skull Rosary under production.
The biggest challenge was to assemble an awesome team for this. Don’t ask me how I assembled all of them but with sheer faith and goodwill HCE is proudly working with 8 writers, 2 colourists and 3 pencillers. Being the founder, I have to keep myself at the centre of every single creative process and then comes the selling and marketing part and not to mention, I still draw 20 pages a month! All this leaves me no time to have a personal life but at the end of the day, the creative process I get myself involve and the continuous evolving nature of things we do in this business compensates for every single thing missed/loss.
Lets take each comic bit by bit and dissect : First up Skull rosary. what is it about ?
There is a reason why he is called the destroyer and The Skull Rosary (TSR) is a homage to his capability of destruction and regeneration. It’s India’s first B & W mythology revolving around Lord Shiva and what happens when something or someone gets on to Bholenath’s bad side!! The Skull Rosary explores the Lord’s unfettered dark side (and no, we are not talking evil here) and how it is a necessary harbinger of life. It’s a thought, a way of life, a philosophy crunched into a graphic novel. Without giving too many spoilers I would like to conclude that there is a very good reason that when everything else fails, even the highest of the gods have nowhere else to go other than Mahadev himself!!!! I have always been a strong advocate that a readable comic book does not need to depend on colours and the decision of getting a book coloured or not should be based on its genre. Since TSR has such a dark subject matter, it naturally demands a solid B & W treatment. The graphic novel plans to be an explosion, not of colours but of starkness, eeriness and darkness that lies just beyond human understanding.
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Introduce us to the creative team behind Skull rosary?
Skull Rosary is HCE’s 2nd creator owned title after Ravanayan which means that profits will be shared between me and my writer, the super talented Shweta Taneja. We both wanted to do something that would bring out the dark, unfettered and even uncivilized side of Lord Shiva and while speaking with Shweta on the phone one day we both stumbled upon the same idea and decided to give it a go. Shweta and I have jammed earlier in “Its a dog’s death” in WereHouse v1 and found out that our work complemented each other’s. And so in a crux was the idea that is to become TSR was born! It’s Shweta’s story and the rest of the work and publishing dept. is mine, including the art. She is an insanely talented young writer and I am really proud of working with her on this project.
How much influence does Vivek Goel have over the story? What is is like working with “the writers”
It’s a very good question. See, with HCE I am playing 2 roles – one of an artist trying to meet his deadlines daily and other of a businessman trying to make a brand of his company and selling books. It’s a very delicate balance and I have to maintain this if I am to run a company and at the same time get work from 15 diff. people. Being an artist myself and still drawing the major projects of HCE puts me grounded most of the time, while making a product or drawing it I “have” to think like an artist only and keep the bossy aspect out of my mind, if I keep on catering my ego then I would fail as an artist. I still show thumbnails of the artwork to all my writers and take their approval before moving ahead with the final art as I am not making comics only for me, I am making comics for the masses, we also have editorial system and I am not the one pulling strings, I totally believe in the benefits of working an editorial system and understand the value of 3 minds (writer, artist and editor) working on a project, these 3 are the one’s who can make a comic book awesome as compared to a bossy fellow catering to his own ego, you cannot make/sell comics being bossy and we at HCE certainly do not do that 😀
Now lets ask the same question to Shweta Taneja herself – how has it been working with Vivek Goel as an artist? And how did this writing gig happened?
Working with Vivek Goel, the artist, is like sitting on a roller coaster of creativity. He’s that kind of a friend and mentor. I find it necessary to bounce ideas back and forth to create and Vivek is always open to even the sometimes crazier ones. As for his art, I am a complete fan, especially of his black and whites. His artwork inspires me to write and I don’t think there can be a bigger compliment (smiles). His strokes are confident and masterful and I always look forward to attachments from him in my email.
As for your second question, like Vivek mentioned, it all happened over a phone call really. Somewhere in my head, I wanted to work on a graphic rendition on Shiva’s darker side. I was in the middle of a big shot dinner when Vivek called up, excited about a sudden brain wave he had had. It was a kind of visual blast he had had while daydreaming on Shiva. Dinner forgotten, I started to listen in, barely containing my excitement. Something similar had been doing the rounds in my head and I had already begun reading on Mahadeva! Of course, it had to explore the dark side of the matter so to say. An hour’s discussion later, while my friends were patiently waiting for me to get back (smiles), we knew that we had a potentially bombastic idea in our hands. Of course coincidence apart, it wasn’t an easy ride. It took months of hardcore research to figure out what exactly I wanted to depict through this graphic novel. We are both believers of the fact that other than making it visually striking, a graphic novel has to have a solid story line. So it took a while before we finalized on a story line. And WHAT A STORY it has become! It might sound a bit philosophical or even loony but I read the script the other day and didn’t believe I wrote it. I think someone or something was writing it through me. I look at myself as a mere instrument, a medium through which this creation came. It’s that awe-inspiring.
Thanks Shweta for giving us that, now back to you Vivek – we’re not done with you yet!
People are trying to take comics into new arena, the latest example being Level-10 going fully Mature with their content. How do you see Holy cow entertainment?
Yes, the medium is definitely changing because there is a demand of such content and if you are to survive well you need to cater that. HCE is just three books old now, at present we are just looking to survive till the point where our success and the demand increases.
Serengeti Stripes… Our very own Akshay Dhar is writing that book with you. he has worked with you in the past on Werehouse v1 as well as other projects – how is it working with him? Why don’t you both tell us how you go about creating the book.
Vivek: He’s a leech, literally! He sucks the artist so bad that the poor artist is left with no other option but to give its best in the book 😀 He is made to do series and we have also done one more one-shot between WereHouse and Serengeti Stripes, but that’s a secret for now 😉
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Akshay: What can I say? When you’re right, you’re right! I never thought I’d be ok with being a blood-sucking little creep, but in the sense that Vivek says it I don’t mind at all. Honestly, getting to create comics has been an utter and total blast and Vivek and I were fortunate that we just elected to work one day on a 4-pager on a pure whim and I have personally loved working with him since then. As an artist he is highly talented and is just barely breaching the barrier to his full potential – and I think this is one of the reasons we work so well together. When it comes to writing, I tend to brainstorm it a lot to start with, then sort out the details in excruciating minutae on my own and then start on making the artist do concept art which is just me making them work for free! All the while I hammer out a disturbingly detailed script that I get so much **** for from all the artists, but in the end I think it works out because I go into insane detail on layouts and panels and design and such, but always maintain that if the artist has a better idea for anything from a face to a whole page – Im willing to go with it if we both agree it is definitely better. About Serengeti Stripes I am very excited, one of the things Vivek and I noted after WereHouse was people felt we should have made a series – so we decided to do exactly that! And the secret project mentioned by him, I so wish I could share some of the magnificent art from it – it was a true experiment in visual story-telling in Indian comics I think, and a serious challenge for me to incorporate the detail and elements of the visuals so closely with the story I was telling; of course Vivek cursed me every single day over the soul-sucking I was doing to him on a project he was NOT planning on working on fully himself but the challenge of what I put I before him just could not be resisted! I think all Indian comics fans should keep a close eye on what’s going to be coming out of HCE in the coming year. Cheers all!
Now about Serengeti Stripes, post the release of the title and promo art, the book has drawn comparisons with “The Pride of Baghdad”, the famous BKV comic book. What do you have to say to this?
When it comes to animals – real, focussed stories about them and more importantly through them – there are very few to be found. Pride of Baghdad is a well written, and amazingly put together graphic novel that really was something unique, of this there is no doubt for anyone I would think. As far as its comparisons to our book go – the similarities are firstly, the narrative concentrating on animals as our characters in a ‘real’ and not fantasy/anthropomorphic capacity ;secondly, the choice of protagonist animals being big cats – and even in that there are difference because they had lions and we have tigers. Thats it. Its just barely a similarity and honestly only on the surface, its easy to assume they are the same thing but once you get down to the stories, the characters, the setting and everything from the intent, the themes, the styles and literally the feel of it all – they are vastly different. Because they are both animal-centric stories (which as already said before are VERY rare) they will however always draw the occassional reader who says its trying to be that or some such, but for anyone who reads it first and foremost for what it is will realise that its like saying Spiderman and all the later superheroes were nothing but ripoffs of the older tight and cape brigades – either you see it or you don’t.
Thanks Akshay, definitely looking forward to it!
Vivek, would you be willing to tell us – What is Serengeti Stripes all about?
Its all about the concept of bonding between two tiger brothers and survival and that too survival on such grounds which are technically not meant for Tigers to live in. I had an idea in my mind for the last eighteen months but was looking for the right person to write it. You see, its not easy to write animals, not every writer can do it, since SS is a story which has zero humans, its totally on and about animals, you need to think like one, draw like one!!! I will make the picture more clear, the whole concept of working with 3 diff. writers in WereHouse was to find out who fits best to write SS and enter our Jolly Akshay Dhar 😀 While attending at the 1st ComicCon in Delhi, I stayed in the awesome house of Akshay and that night (don’t get ideas!!) gave us the prefect opportunity to discuss the project. We brainstormed for five long hours and by 4 a.m. we were ready with the synopsis of all five issues! 2011 is the year of Ravan, 2012 will be the year of Tigers, I can guarantee you that because I am looking at the 1st five pages of SS issue #1 coloured in my PC.
Werehouse v2: when is it coming, who all are contributing stories now? Heard Shamik Dasgupta has one in there!
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Werehouse v2 is lined up for May, 2013. HCE will be giving out six double sized comics and one GN every year with the GN coming only during vacation time i.e. May. The Skull Rosary is our 2nd one coming in 2012. Its gonna be fatter and better then the previous one since it now has 5 stories in it with 4 diff. artists working in each story. My good Friend Shamik is also writing 1 story in it and I will be drawing it personally.
How difficult is it to switch from creating a horror comic to a mythology comic , artwise?
Not at all, as a matter of fact I was doing mythology for a long time including Ravanayan and horror came in between. I have always been tagged as a fantasy/mythology artist basically because this is what I had got from publishers working in the past when I was a freelancer. I wanted to break that image and want to try my hand at every genre, therefore WereHouse happened. Art-wise, you have to be more careful with the blacks & whites in these kind of books as they are not gonna get coloured, you have to constantly keep reminding yourself of that, it pushes us to give our best. If you want to know how good the artist actually is, get him to draw you B&W stuff!
Holy cow is doing a lot of diverse projects, and a lot of them are in black and white. Is that a concious decision on your part? If so, why?
As I said in the previous question, I did not wanted to get myself tagged in just one genre and I would assume it would go for my company too. HCE will never be tagged as a company which deals only in a specific genre. We stared with horror, then mythology, all which will soon be followed by pure tiger awesomeness and then there is something special!!!! One needs to constantly keep changing the flavour to get the reader hooked. You name the genre, HCE will have it
So once more for the fans at home – When are all these fantastic books coming out?
Ravanayan wraps up in April. The Skull Rosary will be released in June and Serengeti Stripes will begin from August and these are final dates.

Exclusive Preview: Retrograde!!!

17 Oct
The wonderful portable digital dictionary on my computer describes the word ‘Retrograde’ as 

Retrograde [re-truh-greyd] adjective, can be used in several contexts:
  1. (astronomy) moving from east to west on the celestial sphere; or–for planets–around the sun in a direction opposite to that of the Earth
  2. Of amnesia; affecting time immediately preceding trauma
  3. Going from better to worse
  4. Moving or directed or tending in a backward direction or contrary to a previous direction


Going by the preview images, I’d say it contains elements from all of these and more!
My dear readers, I feel extremely pleased to introduce you to the upcoming 2-part Graphic Novel by our very own fellow addict, Akshay Dhar.

Retrograde is being published by Pop Culture Publishing, who are also the good people behind Comic Con Express – Mumbai, which is taking place on 22nd and 23rd October in Mumbai! I’ll be there, will you?

A great reason for you to be there will be to get your hands on the first issue of Retrograde. It is being launched at Comic Con Express – Mumbai, on Day One. I wouldn’t want to miss out on this one. Retrograde along with the next issue of Ravanayan are on my personal top ‘must-haves’ list for this season.
We have the first five pages of Retrograde for your viewing pleasure. They are more of a teaser, if you ask me, coz the point at which the preview ends is nail-biting and gripping enough to keep me excited until the 22nd of October!
It is a story set in a post-apocalyptic world where only a handful of individuals are left, fighting for survival and a chance to live their lives again, as few men (and women, of course).
In essence, the first thing that came to my mind was the comparison between other classic post-apocalyptic graphics novels, like Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra or The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman. If you ask me, anything that brings comparisons of this caliber to mind has a promising future ahead, and I am confident that Retrograde will continue to carry the torch and set a standard which will be a new benchmark in the Indian Comic Industry.
Akshay is not a new name in the comic industry. He has worked on several projects like the Comix.India anthology, Warblade, WereHouse v1, etc. He is also a regular contributor and one of the core members of ComicAddicts. His love and knowledge about Comic Books is at par with the other Addict, Mayank, who was the M behind the Adventures of M and the one-man army behind Comic Addicts.
Akshay collaborated with Avik Kumar Maitra to create Retrograde.
I will let you good readers make up your own minds about the book, on the basis of these preview pages. In my opinion, the whole trip from Delhi to Mumbai will be worth it only for the chance to pick up a copy of this one. The story begins well, without much buildup. The reasons behind the near-destruction of the Earth are not explained, but perhaps will be detailed later in the story.
The characters are interesting and jump right into the action, without a formal introduction or a back story. Who needs a back story when your survival is an issue, eh?
The artwork looks very promising and black & white is a medium which has always been close to my heart so I might be a little biased towards it, but in the tradition of several other artists, they have decided to go ahead without any colors. I’m sure some of you might have complains about the B&W medium, but from these pages, it seems to me that it will go well with the story.
It is probably one of India’s first, if not the first, series/story which is based on such a theme. I am not considering Rabhas Incident by Level 10 at par, because that deals with primarily the destruction of a single city. Retrograde takes it a long, long step further and destroys the planet!
In the tradition of Akshay’s favorite writers like Warren Ellis, Jonathan Hickman, Neil Gaiman etc. Retrograde looks finger-licking promising to me, and the next 5 days are going to be tough on me if I don’t succeed in diverting my mind to other useless activities to keep it off from the goodies in store during the coming weekend!

So here you go folks! A few early images to whet your appetite for what’s yet to come!

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This One’s for the Girls!

17 Oct

This is for all of the geek ladies out there. Halloween is a great time because you can always look forward to dressing up as your favorite super-heroine and going out to parties or what not, right? The big question is this: why do costume companies feel the need to slut up the costumes?

We’re geeks, we know that if the gals in the comics were real they would be anatomically lacking proportion and the outfits they’re wearing are completely impractical. Still we accept it as we read comics because it’s fun. There’s something empowering about a woman in a tight leather or spandex outfit and heels beating on some thug at least twice her size. Still the question remains, why make those costumes any skimpier than they already are?
The other part of that is they make slutty versions of the guy superhero costumes too. No one is going to believe that just because you’re wearing a shiny red mini skirt and yellow glasses that you’re Iron Man.
The girl versions of the guy costumes are awful only in that you’re going to spend the entire time explaining who you are because while the colors are the same as the male counterparts, that’s pretty much it.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not prudes by any sense, just kind of comic purists. Why degrade something that is seen as an icon? We know Wonder Woman’s classic outfit is skimpy we get that and we’re okay with it. However, the costume companies managed to make it even skimpier.
Granted that pretty much all super-heroines look like they could be Victoria’s Secret models, but that doesn’t mean it should look like that’s where they got their costumes from.
We know that super-heroines are sexy. They have to be really. They’re the femme fatale; the sexy dangerous woman who you pray is on your side. They’re mysterious and beautiful and their costumes show off what a strong woman they are. Those are just basic components to a super-heroine. It’s also that much more humiliating for the villain when they get their butt kicked by a good looking woman.
The costumes that are being put out on the shelf in stores don’t seem to represent any of that. Also if you live in Northeast part of the US where it gets cold in October those costumes don’t help. Perhaps it best to take a page out of a cosplayers book and simply make your own costume.

What do you think about these costumes? We want to here from you geekettes and geeks. What’s your vote?

What You Should be Reading : Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man hits the Big Time!

15 Oct

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I’m usually not one for clichés, but Spider-Man and Wolverine are right up there in my list of all-time favourite comic book characters. The story goes that I came back to reading comic books three and a half years ago, a time when both characters were beginning with their respective iconic runs, with the rotating team of Web-Heads (Joe Kelly, Dan Slott, Fred Van Lente, Mark Waid etc.) on the Amazing Spider-Man and Jason Aaron (of Scalped fame) on Wolverine : Weapon X and later the new volume of Wolverine (and now Schism and Wolverine and the X-Men). For today though, let’s just save the talk on Aaron’s Wolverine for another day and concentrate on what Spidey’s been up to of late.
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The Run-Up
See, the story leading up to Slott’s solo run really starts with the Spider-Man crossover event One More Day , co-penned by the then ASM writer Joe Michael Straczynski, a.k.a. JMS (grudgingly) and the then Marvel Editor-in-Chief (and now Chief Creative officer) (Seriously, someone cast this guy as Perry White already, he loves being called chief) Joe Quesada. It involved Peter Parker making a deal with Mephisto (essentially The Devil) to save his (once again!) dying aunt in exchange for his marriage with Mary Jane Watson being erased from history. It was basically Marvel’s attempt to de-age Spidey and bring him back to his “more relatable roots”. Fans were obviously angry and plenty threatened to boycott the series. The initial year or so of Brand New Day, which was essentially what followed One More Day, was a critical disaster, as the writers were too concerned with establishing the new status quo and new villains, who felt a lot like rip-offs of classic members of Spidey’s Rouges gallery. However, once the dirty work was done,

a point which can be marked by the Character Assassination arc, the writers delivered one magnificent arc after another, making this title one of the biggest bestsellers in the market. The Brand New Day phase lasted a whopping 101 issues, thanks to the thrice-monthly schedule, and set the stage perfectly for Dan Slott’s solo run on the book, under the Big Time banner.

Dan the Man
Dan Slott’s strengths as a writer for ASM include his uncanny ability to combine the charm last seen in the 60’s on the title, under Stan ‘The Man’ Lee, with a very modern relatable feel. What this basically means is that he knows the universal time-transcending appeal of the character while adding relevance and contemporary concepts to his stories. The basic status quo of Big Time involves Pete getting a new job at Horizon Labs, getting a new girlfriend in the form of NYPD detective Carlie Cooper and juggling al this with his responsibilities to the streets of New York, Two Avengers teams as well as the Future Foundation. With a star studded revolving team of artist consisting of Humberto Ramos, Stefanno Castelli and Marcos Martin, he certainly has plenty of choice in regards to finding the right tone for each arc.
Click to enlarge the amazing!
Arc one
The first arc seeks to generally set the new status quo for ol’ webhead, while introducing a not-really-new goblin. It opens with Spidey leading the Avengers (yes, you heard that right) against Doc Ock’s ‘War of the Worlds’ inspired octobots, while we see Phil Urich take up the mantle of Hobgoblin. Fantastically written and illustrated, the arc serves the purpose of laying the foundation of what is set to happen later on while clearly distinguishing its tone from BND. It’s got all the trademarks and decompression and does take a while to read. 
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The Bad Guys
23 issues in the run so far, we’ve seen Slott go through plenty of villains from Spidey’s rouges gallery without falling into cliché or camp territory. The one’s we have seen so far are the Hobgoblin, Doc Ock and the sinister six, Spider-Slayers, the De-venomized and Re-scorpionised Mac Gargan, a new villain who goes by Massacre, Anti-Venom, Venom, Mister Negative and easily the villain most dreaded by Spidey Fans : <Drumroll> The Jackal. All very well (and awesomely) handled. 
What’s with Ock?
It’s apparent that Doc Ock and the Sinister Six are planning something big. There have been plenty of appearances in the Marvel Universe here and there to suggest that. First, he shows up in Amazing Spider-man #648, unleashing giant octobots on Manhattan as a diversion to infiltrate a military base with tiny octobots. Next, we see him dueling with the three smartest men in the Marvel Universe (Reed Richards,Tony Stark and Hank Pym) at different moments, basically trying to prove he’s smarter than them. We know Slott is going with the same approach as his team did in BND, with multiple arcs leading up to the big tent-pole event. My bet would be on the summer of 2012, with The Amazing Spider-man movie coming up.
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Spider-Island
Speaking of tentpoles, here’s the one currently stopping the presses. See, it takes a very different kind of writer to write a good Jackal, leave alone making sense of something as crazy (and awesome) as every inhabitant of Manhattan morphing Spider-powers. By using bedbugs, no less, the Jackal his given the people of Manhattan great power, without the lesson of great responsibility. With tie-ins that are actually good (Hello, Flashpoint), its being called the best event of 2011. Recommendation : Go catch all he back issues and catch up while this event is still on!
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The Shipping Schedule
One of the most revolutionary things Marvel did with Brand New Day was the three times a month schedule. This allowed one single path of storytelling in one single title, rather than multiple series confusing readers with their timelines. When Slott started his solo run, the series became bi-weekly, which coupled with Slott’s decompression abilities pretty much means you get half an arc in the same time Bendis’ Avengers talk around on their A-marked Dining Table.
Sister Books
When the run started, we were given two sister books in the form of Paul Tobin’s sadly cancelled Spider-Girl and Kelly Sue Deconick’s excellent mini series Osborn. We currently have Rick Remender’s amazing (adjective, not part of the title) Venom series, starring “Flash” Thompson as the symbiote’s new host. A must read even if you’re not much of a Flash or Venom fan. Also we now have Zeb Wells and Joe Mad’s Avenging Spider-Man, which will look at Peter’s role as an Avenger. There certainly does seem to be an effort to build up on Spidey’s corner of the Marvel Universe.
Predictions for The Future
  • Mary Jane retains her Spider-powers post Spider-Island
  • Marvel has hinted at the return of the Scarlet Spider via teasers. Not only that, it appears Bleeding Cool is aware of his identity and has released a list of contenders (http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/09/30/who-is-the-new-scarlet-spider-we-have-the-answer-somewhere/) My guess? Mary Jane, Kaine or the returning Ben Reilly.
  • Venom goes on the run
  • The Osborns returns to Spidey Books. (Has been a while)
  • Ben Reilly is in the lab next to Pete’s at Horizon Labs.
  • Hobgoblin and Spidey discover each other’s identities.
  • The series continues its streak of awesomeness.

NOTES AND SCREENGRABS FROM THE AVENGERS TRAILER

14 Oct

 

 So yes, finally on the 11th of October 2011, Marvel has released the first theatrical trailer for the Avengers.
If you have been living under a rock the size of Switzerland, you can check it out down here.
  • We know Nick Fury has some kind of information on an impending threat either from Loki or someone else in a sequel, which is why he starts assembling the team.
Yeah, I’ll take a Royale with cheese… (Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)
  • The general tone Mark Ruffalo’s Banner is being handled with seems similar to Norton’s, which will hopefully make this transition a lot smoother.
FML! (Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)
  • ScarJo farts fire.
(Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)

  • What exactly is Loki doing under SHIELD custody? And why is Nick Fury stupid enough to think he can keep him there?
Now you see me… (Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)
  • Aaaaaand we have a Quinjet.
Who the hell put a flame-thrower on a plane?!!? (Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)
  • Stark’s armour looks pretty much the same from Iron Man 2.
(Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)
  • My hopes are still up for the Hulkbuster armour, though.
Oh man this makes peeping at hotties so much easier! (Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)
  • Cap’s uniform looks much better in action than in the leaked set pics. There’s a lesson in this, folks.
Nah… too far away… (Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)
  • Sleeveless Thor!!!!!!
Is she looking? Maybe I should flex more… (Click to enlarge!)
  • RDJ is awesome as always.
(Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)
  • There appears to be an ego clash between Stark and Cap. This is consistent with Joss Whedon’s comments a couple of months ago about each of them considering themselves to be most qualified to be leader.
Oh yeah?! Well I’m taller shrimpy. (Click to enlarge!)
  • Nick Fury + Bazooka = Win.
His cool-ness will blow you away. Literally. (Click to enlarge!)
  • I wish we’d seen more of Hawkeye. All we’ve seen is him running around shooting arrows.
…And my bow. (Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)
  • Cap vs. Thor. Poor Cap.
Worst! Trust exercise! Ever! (Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)
  • At 1:29, we have the Quinjet flying past, wait for it, Stark frickin Tower.
(Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)
  • At 1:31, Loki appears to have either the cosmic cube or the mind gem from the infinity gauntlet on top of his staff.
Haaaa-duken! (Click to enlarge awesome-ness!)
  • More Stark one liners, it does look like he’ll be somewhat leading the movie, if not the team.
I’m sorry, can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome I am! (Click to enlarge!)
  • Also, we finally have Ruffalo’s hulk. We don’t see much, but it thankfully looks to have more in common with Norton’s hulk than Bana’s.
I’m coloured like a giant booger dammit! (Click to enlarge)
  •  Your move, DC!