Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Comics 6/29/2005

A very lean week.

W.I.T.C.H. Vol 1
Planetary #23
Kitty Pryde Shadow and Flame 1 of 5

Girls #2 - The Luna Brothers

I don't know. Blabber blabber blabber. Really. I don't know. I read Ultra #1 by the Luna Brothers. Someone gave it to me so I read it. Well drawn and actually well written. Great babes. I didn't read anymore. I wanted to, but I didn't want to be seen buying it. It would have felt like buying sleezy porn. I bought Girls #1. It was interesting. Well drawn. Well written. It felt like reading sleezy porn. I had preordered #2 so I bought it and just read it. It really felt like reading sleezy porn. Very well drawn and well written sleezy porn, with a great kicker at the end of the issue. I really want to read #3, but there's something just wrong about these books. It's as if they exist just to provide a venue for drawings of hot babes. But the writing is interesting. As far as off mainstream comics go, Girls is very well done. But it still feels like porn in a way that other cheesecake comics don't. In my day every 13 year old boy would have bought this book for obvious and nefarious reasons. Now they have the internet. I just don't know.

Shojo Beat Vol1 #1

Congratulations to Viz for putting together a great package of girls comics from Japan. Over three hundred pages of girls manga for $5.99. Let's not quibble, it's 6 bucks, but it's 6 bucks well spent. The leadoff story alone is 100 pages long. 100 pages. 6 dollars. It's a bargain compared to American comics without a doubt.

I bought it for my wife, but I certainly enjoyed it myself. Much more than Shonen Jump, also published by Viz. I buy Jump for my 10 year old son and he loves it. It's his favorite read and at six bucks it keeps him occupied longer that a movie would. I don't read it though. It's the usual kid stuff you see on Cartoon Network and I've had my fill of that. Shojo Beat is a little more fun. Many of the stories give you a truer, if very melodramatic, sense of Japanese culture. Sure it's from the perspective of a 17 year old girl, but what the hell?

I haven't made it through the entire book yet, it actually takes some time to read these stories, but here's a breakdown of what I've read so far.

Nana by Ai Yazawa Nana is by far my favorite series in Shojo Beat. Weighing in at 100 pages in it's debut you get a good solid chuck of story and a great intro to the main characters. Nana is a boy crazy highschool student in a small city who can't figure out why her relationships don't pan out. Her latest, a married salaryman, has just been transferred to Tokyo and she is in crisis. She's a ditz, no doubt about it, but she's also appealing. Nana gets an A.

Absolute Boyfriend By Yuu Watase Anyone familiar with manga in North America probably knows who Yuu Watase is. She's the creator of Fushigi Yugi, The Mysterious Play, one of the most popular manga and anime series to make it over here. Absolute Boyfreind is not one of my favorites by her, that would be Imadoki, but it's fun. It's basically a girls take on Video Girl Ai. Riiko thinks she is a loser with the boys. See any pattern here? After an encounter with a weird guy she goes on his web site and orders a boy, thinking its some kind of blowup doll. It's not. Absolute Boyfriend gets a B+

There's something I should make clear here. These comics are not for little girls. Put plainly, there is sex. And more sex. So far there hasn't been anything graphic in the stories and Viz will probably keep it fairly tame, but this is definately for teens and older. There is a rating on the cover indicating just that. You have been warned.

The last story I read is Godchild by Kaori Yuki. It's a semi goth murder mystery set in 19th century England. The main character of the series is the mysterious Lord Cain who seems to be a supporting character until he steps forward and solves the mystery. I assume this will be the pattern of the series. We experience most of the actions through this eyes of another character who is in distress. Lord Cain steps in and saves the day. Godchild in my least favorite of the series I have read so far, but it still gets a B.

That puts me a little more that halfway through this issue. There are still 3 series left to read. Kaze Hikarem a samurai drama, Baby and Me and Crimson Hero which is a complete unknown to me. I plan to sample them over the next few weeks.

Viz has done a great job here with this book and I hope it's a huge success. I would love to see them do a monthly sports manga for men. Most of the manga that have made it over to North America are chosen by fanboys for fanboys. There is an incredible variety of material available to be translated in to English. Here's hoping Viz will tap into that.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Comics 6/22/2005

Yes, it's back. The weekly list. Here's everything I picked up this week.

Hellboy - The Island #1
Powerpuff Girls #63
Astro City - The Dark Age #1
Balck Panther #5
Shojo Beat Vol1 #1
Powers Vol2 #11
Girls #2
Queen & Country - Declassified #1
Molly & Poo
Wanted Hardcover Collection

Reviews to follow.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Street Angel Volume One - Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca

Reasons to buy Street Angel Volume One

Nice art by Rugg. Very reminiscent of David Lapham's Stray Bullet's. Rugg's art is a little looser on the backgrounds and a bit crisper on the characters, but definitely in the same vein.

Witty and entertaining, if somewhat bizarre, writing by Rugg and Maruca.

Bizarre writing by Rugg and Maruca.

Jesse Sanchez - the Street Angel. A homeless orphan, she uses her Kung Fu and phat skateboarding skills to protect Wilksborough from ninjas, drugs, nepotism and pre-algebra.

Cosmick - the Irish astronaut

Time travel.

Doctor Pangea - master of the Dark arts of Geology

A special guest appearance by Jesus Christ.

Reasons not to buy Street Angel volume One

You are an uptight religious fanatic with no room for humor in your life.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Teenagers From Mars - Rick Spears and Rob G

If you want to know what a teenager is thinking about, read Teenagers From Mars. If you are a teenager, read Teenagers From Mars. You will recognize your freinds or maybe even yourself.

Mars is not a planet. It's a smallish rural town that is just big enought to have a thinly disguised Walmart and a comicbook store. The main characters are dissatisfied with their environment, oppressive, and their lives, oppressed.

Now I don't mean to say that all teenagers are out there grave robbing and joining the CBLA (Comic Book Liberation Army), but they are definately pissed off about most of what they see and hear. They probably won't stage a raid on City Hall and hog tie the mayor and invite horrible indignities on his person, but they might just be thinking about it.

There have been a lot of comic books out lately about teenage dissatisfaction. Most of them have been of the goth/fantasy persuasion. Teenagers From Mars is fiction to be sure, over the top and melodramatic is places, but it feels true. And the locations and situations could exist in your town. At least it feels like how I remember being a teenager. I didn't have tattoos and piercings, but I would if I were a teenager now.

Rick and Rob have nailed it here. Give them their dues. Go out and buy a copy of Teenagers From Mars and read it. Now.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Another Embarassing Admission

While I was righting that last entry on Revenge of the Sith I was listening to Hilary Duff on iTunes. I ripped her CD Metaporphasis for my iPod so my daughter could listen to it in the car. I flipped though my tunes before I started writing and decided to listen to Hilary. There are some cute pop tunes on the disc. It's fun.

Now that I am completely humiliated I will go away.

Comics review catch up tomorrow.

I think I'll listen to the soundtrack from Freaky Friday while I'm doing that. Yeah, that works.

Revenge of the Sith

Oh, this is so hard. Here goes. IreallylikedRevengeoftheSith. There. I said it. No? Alright. Crap. I...really...liked...Revenge...of...the...Sith! There. Happy?

See, I'm an old man. I saw Star Wars in Jr. high school when it first came out. No! I will not call it 'A New Hope' so piss off. It's Star Wars. The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite of the Star Wars flicks. Star Wars comes next and now number 3 is Revenge of the Sith. Return of the Jedi used to hold that spot. That it held on to number 3 after Phantom Menace and Send on the Clones came out doesn't so much speak to any greatness on Jedi's part, but rather more to how awful Menace and Clones were. Now Sith is here and it's moved way up the list. It might even, gasp, be in the running to hit number 2. I need to see it again before I decide. This requires seriously deep geek research and thought. It hurts me to think that the original Star Wars could be displaced, but man I really liked Sith.

Now for the truly terrible part.

Revenge of the Sith would not have worked nearly as well or had half the impact if dear old George hadn't put us through the horrors that were Menace and Clones. That tearing sound was my Star Wars fanboy geek membership card being torn up and thrown in my face. But it's true. Without that obnoxious kid in Episode One and that whiney, petulant teenager in Episode Two, Revenge of the Sith just wouldn't have touched (yes I said touched) me that way it did.

If just a few moments had played out differently, the tragedy of Anikin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader needn't have happened. If Obi-Wan hadn't said 'my very young Padiwan' that last time. If Mace Windu weren't such and officious prick. No I mean it. Windu pissed me off too. He was a dick. I would have killed him myself. But I digress. Just so many little things adding up to a tragic end. And behind it all, Palpatine. A little nudge here, a wink there and the Jedi Council were reduced to blind bats. It was a tragedy in the classic sense and that requires some setup.

So I give George his props. I still think Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones are lesser movies, but the payoff in Revenge of the Sith makes them bearable. A little more so anyway.