Saturday, September 29, 2012

Top 25 Comic Book Movie Babes

Welcome to my personal list of the hottest ladies in live-action comic book-based movies. Not all of them are superheroines though. There's a few random goth chicks, space vixens, and punk girls too. I was going to make this a Top 10 list to begin with, but just wanted to throw all my favorites into the harem. Here we go...

25. Natalie Portman as Evey Hammond in V For Vendetta
She never dressed up like that for Anakin! Natalie makes bald look beautiful in this thriller based on Alan Moore's book.

24. Lori Petty as Tank Girl in Tank Girl
Even though I'd kill to have seen her actually as Live Wire, Lori was the greatest post-apocalyptic siren ever.

23. Diane Lane as Judge Hershey in Judge Dredd
She is the law! She looks good, even with that dorky Power Rangers helmet on.

22. Adrienne Barbeau as Alice Cable in Swamp Thing
Yes, she's better than Heather Locklear! The soon-to-be Catwoman knew how to toss a mean salad!

21. Anjanette Abayari as Darna in Darna: The Return
As the Philipino version of Wonder Woman, this busty broad portrayed the bikini-clad heroine Darna.

20. Aya Matsuura as Saki Asamiya in Yo-Yo Girl Cop
From J-Pop singer to yo-yo swinging secret agent, she plays the punk princess based on the Sukeban Deka manga.

19. Natassia Malthe as Typhoid Mary in Elektra
I'd take a sweet kiss of death from this disease-infested vixen anyday of the week.

18. Brigette Nielsen as Sonja in Red Sonja
Long before Flavor Flav f*cked up that train wreck even more, Mrs. Stallone was the original warrior princess.

17. Janeane Garofalo as Baby Bowler in Mystery Men
What's not to love about a girl who carries around her dad's skull in a transparent bowling ball?

16.Helen Slater as Supergirl in Supergirl
Granted, this was probably the weakest link in the Superman franchise, but Helen was perfect as the Maid of Steel.

15. Erika Toda as Misa Amane in Death Note
This little mama played the death-dealing gothic pop idol Misa Misa, based on the manga and anime.

14. Halle Berry as Storm in X-Men 3
No, not as Catwoman! Halle's best non-Flinstones look is in the 3rd X-flick when her hair looked more natural.

13.Thora Birch as Enid in Ghost World
I know a young Scarlett Johansson co-starred in this, but Thora is the sexiest little nerd girl!

12. Pamela Anderson as Barb Wire in Barb Wire
There were only two reasons to see this movie...and your looking at them right now.

11. Selma Blair as Liz Sherman in Hellboy
Even as a pyrokinetic/firestarter, Selma is HOT! HOT! HOT!

10. Carla Gugino as Silk Spectre I in Watchmen
The Silk Spectre of the Golden Age was far more delicious in her day than her daughter ever was.

9. Jennifer Connelly as Jenny Blake in The Rocketeer
The lady from Labyrinth played a better Bettie Page than a Betty Ross as this damsel in distress.

8. Jessica Alba as Invisible Woman in Fantastic Four
More gorgeous than the cowgirl stripper from Sin City, Alba filled out the blue spandex pretty well as Marvel's den mother.

7. Tanya Roberts as Sheena in Sheena
The former Charlie's Angel makes you wish this blonde jungle girl would swing from your vine.

6. Rebecca Romijn as Mystique in X-Men
Maybe a little "scalier" than her comic book counterpart, but the former Mrs. Stamos makes for a sultry Smurfette.

5. Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man 3
Mary who? Seriously, this chick fit the bill for her character waaaay better than Dunst did.

4. Erika Sato as Honey in Cutie Honey
The transforming android girl was played by this spicy supermodel/actress.

3. Ornella Muti as Princress Aura in Flash Gordon
Now there's an alien invader that's easy on the eyes. The standard space princess couldn't have been done any finer.

2. Jane Fonda as Barbarella in Barbarella
Ted Turner is a stupid stupid stupid man for letting that piece of ass get out of his Excessive Machine.

1. Michelle Pfieffer as Catwoman in Batman Returns
There is no movie Catwoman other than her! Tight black leather never looked this good. Michelle is the queen of this pride!

Well, that's it! I look forward to adding Wonder Woman to the list sometime soon too.

ANI-MOVIES, *Spriggan

Based on the manga of the same name that ran from 1989-1996(known as Striker in the U.S.), the series gained enough success to garner an anime movie adapataion in 1999. The movie was produced by none other than Akira creator, Katsuhiro Otomo, which helped push its success out in America. It was a major release for ADV FIlms back in their hayday.

The story is about a special orginization known as Arkham(or “ARCAM”)which seeks out ancient artifacts that could threaten humanity. They have special agents called Spriggans who hunt down these artifacts. One of their best agents is Yu Ominae. He heads out to stop the ones who have been killing off his friends and other Arkham members. Turns out its the U.S. military, who are trying to prevent Arkham from claiming the actual Noah’s Ark, which has been found in the mountains of Turkey. The Americans send in their “U.S. Machine Corps” to stop Ominae, although he first gets some resistance from the local government, and a few of your standard backstabbing turncoats. He then has to take on two killer cyborgs, one of which is a giant dude with a minigun arm that was Ominae’s old commanding officer. Ominae gets some help from a French Spriggan, and then has to free the Ark from the young psychic cyborg, Colonel McDougal. McDougal is under the delusion that God himself lead him to the Ark. The Ark itself is actually an alien spaceship which apparently created all life on Earth. McDougal activates it, and plans to use it too wipe out humanity, and begin a new world. Ominae uses his pumped-up cybersuit to ultimately stop McDougal, although their fight seems like something more out of the last level of an old Mega Mangame. The Ark implodes, and the threat is neutralized.

The movie makes for one badass action flick. The only thing is that it seems too come a little short as far as the actual story, while in some parts its padded out too many long shots of scenery, even if the attention to detail is exquisite, plus some of the flashback sequences come in at the most inappropriate times. The main drawback is all the speeches and overdone exposition. However, the action scenes make up for it big time. This is mostly due to the excellent direction by Hirotsugu Kawasaki, whose other works include Memories and the Naruto movies. Sprigganmakes for a great summer blockbuster movie, so make sure you check it out before school starts.

The first known case of tentacle rape

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 5: Page 1

Story by Jer Alford. Art by Aimi Tokutake.

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Cosplay Complex

This 3-episode OVA series was one of several titles which came out at the time that catered to a specific branch of anime fandom. Just like Comic Party was about dousjinhi artists, Cosplay Complex deals with the obsession some otaku have with cosplay, both in wearing costumes and the fans view of it.

As in most anime, in what seems like a mundane average event like a costume contest and hypes it up to "are you freakin' kidding me" levels. Here, a Japanese high school has a special cosplay club which frequently takes part in competitions, which apparently are supposed to lead up to something called the Cosplay World Series. The ditsy Chako is trying her best to be the groups' best cosplayer, but her klutziness gets in the way all the time. Fortunately, she gets help from a small bunnygirl fairy(yes)who came to our dimension with a strange owl creature, and she uses magic to help Chako fit into costumes better. You'd think this would count as cheating as the other cosplayers she goes up against aren't using some genie or fairy godmother to help them win a masquerade contest. Chako first has to compete against the Italian exchange student Jenny who has an anti-Lolita complex. The club then goes for a retreat at a shrine near the beach to hone their cosplay skills, where Chako falls for the photographer in her school. The final part is yet another cosplay contest where our heroines clash with a club from a rival school, who its revealed in a post-credits scene has their own bunnygirl fairy. There's this big subplot involving the sexy widow who Chako lives with who is supposed to be connected to rival school's cosplay club, but that also seems to be left ambiguous at the end.

This is a fairly enjoyable anime, although its mainly done for fan service. The really weird part is that this actually ties into the same universes as both G-On Riders and Hand Maid May(and subsequently Hand Maid Mai), as all three of these were directed by Shinichiro Kimura. It's worth checking out if your a huge cosplay fanatic, or just looking for some blatant ecchi.

Friday, September 21, 2012

ANI-MOVIES, *Surf's Up

I caught this on Cartoon Network a while back, and was pleasantly suprised. It was marked when it first came out as yet another “penguin movie”, although it kinda made fun of the fact that there was already about 2 or 3 other movies with nature’s most perfect waterfowls in it. Hell, it was a step up from Pebble & The Penguin! This was created by Sony Pictures Animation who later did Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, and you can see how their direction improved from this movie.

The movie is done like a documentary for an unknown network for animals(kinda like Animalympics)that is covering a surfing contest named after the dead surfing penguin, Big Z. Cody Maverick is a short but determined surfer from Antarctica who is major fan of Big Z, and makes his way into the contest, which takes place on the tropical island of Pen Gu. He makes friends with fellow surfer, a chicken from Wisconsin named Joe, plus the cute penguin lifeguard Lani. Cody’s main competition is Tank, the champion of the last few years, and the one who defeated Z in his final surf. Cody ends up loosing in a challenge to Tank, and Lani takes him to a hermit, who Cody figures out is really Z. He faked his own death in his last match because he felt threatened by Tank, and was tired of all the fame that came with being a big surfer. Z tries to get Cody to get his confidence back by helping him to make a new board. With a little cohersion from Lani, Cody gets his groove back, and re-enters the contest. He, Tank, and Joe are the finalists, but Cody sacrifices his chance to win by stopping Tank from knocking out Joe, so Joe ends up winning. Z has to save Cody from some reefs, in so revealing himself to the masses. However, Z convinces the other surfers to do surfing just for fun, so Cody and the other have a big party at the end of the movie.

I’d say that this was an enjoyable send up of surfer movies, without it pulling in alot of tropes and stereotypes. The voice acting was a seller too, with Shia LaBeouf almost paroding himself as Cody, Jon Heder(Napoleon Dynamite)is great at the clueless Joe, and Jeff Bridges(“The Dude”)is awesome as Z. The animation is pretty impressive too, matching the positive surfing scenes with the funny animal motifs. Surf’s Up is a decent movie for animation fans, and worth showing the kids for a good time.

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 4: Page 20

Story by Jer Alford. Art by E. Aedo.

Monday, September 17, 2012

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *Plastic Little

Satoshi Urushima is best known for his work on such anime productions as Record Of Lodoss War and Bubblegum Crisis, or his designs for the Langrisser and Growlanser video games. However, a few of his own creations like Legend Of Lemnear have been adapted into anime as well. One is the oddly-titled Plastic Little, a one-shot OVA that was not originally a manga but the basis for its own action/sci-fi anime.

Set on a colonized alien world in the future, Tita is the spunky teenage captain of an airship/submarine called the Cha-Cha Maru whose crew seeks out exotic creatures. This trade is referred to as "petshop hunters", although it makes you think that they track down strip malls. Tita saves Elysse, the daughter of a brilliant scientist while she is on the run from the corrupt military. The highly-helmeted commander, Lord Guizel, plans to use Elysse's knowledge of a gyro system which sustains their nation's capitol in the air so he can take over the government. Tita takes Elysse back to the Cha-Cha Maru where she introduces her to the rest of her crew(who have some of the most stereotypical European accents ever!). Guizel eventually works out how to operate the gyro system, and its up to Tita to storm the complex and stop him. After making short work of the stormtroopers, Tita copies the ending to Return Of The Jedi by sending Guizel down an energy shaft. She then pulls out a Capt. Kirk-like deus-ex machina by exploding a typhoon to take out the rest of the evil fleet. Elysse leaves to help repair the damage caused by Guizel, which pretty much caused the entire city to be destroyed.

The OVA makes for a good story, although there was some pretty blatant boob-shots thrown into it, so much so that for its DVD release, ADV Films implemented their patented "jiggle-counter" with it. It features some impressive animation and character designs, plus the ending undersea battle is a real eyegasm. A short-lived manga series by Urushima acted as a sequal to the OVA, and released in America through CPM Manga. This is one of those anime titles that was a standard to own in the 90s, and I'd mainly recommend it to anyone from the era of gratuitous fan service!

Top 10 Great Things About Avatar: The Last Airbender

Since The Last Airbender movie sucked unbelievable amounts of @$$, I thought it was worth reaffirming what was so awesome about the actual TV series so that one crappy film wouldn't tarnish its street cred. So, here's my top 10 reasons why the ATLA series totally rocked!

10. The hero is a bald kid!

With every anime hero having an insanely complex mane of hair, its refreshing for once for the main protagonist to be bald, even it is because he shaves it off.

9. The Ember Island Players

Probably the single greatest recap episode ever is done by a theatre group that retell the entire story of the Avatar and his friends up until the final story arc. The exaggerated portrayals of the characters are hysterical, and the fact that Aang is played by a female midget is so keeping with all those cheesy Peter Pan plays your parents used to drag you to as a kid.

8. Wuzzles

In ATLA, nearly every animal is half of one animal and half another one. Appa is half-bison and half the Catbus from Totoro, while Momo is part-lemur/part-bat. The blending of two animals is very creative, although the appearance of a "just bear" completely baffles our heroes.

7. Fan love

The love from the fans on this show is STRONG, more than most "cartoons" have. The ATLA otaku are seriously into this series, but treat at with a real appreciation, and not just some passing fad. It has gained followers from both fans of anime and of general animation.

6. Detail on martial arts

Where as most action animated shows just have the characters learning basic martial arts or just leaping around and giving karate chops, ATLA actually went a few miles further with studying and getting assistance from genuine ancient Chinese fighting styles. Shaolin, Tai Chi, Ba Gua, Hung Gar, and Praying Mantis style were incorporated to show the different types of "bending".

5. Toph

Toph is one of single most interesting characters to show up in a TV show, animated or otherwise. Appearing as a secondary character halfway through Season 2, she takes center stage as Aang's Earthbender sensei. During the rest of the series, Toph grows, and shows she's practically one of the strongest ones in the cast, both in power and in spirit. Despite her handicap, she has a great sense of humor, and fills out the role of the token "tsundere girl".

4. Not just another "anime ripoff"

During a time when alot of anime-styled or anime influenced series were coming out like Totally Spies, American Dragon, and Puffy AmiYumi, ATLA stands alone as an original concept involving an epic quest, grand adventure, and breaking alot of anime tropes. Even though there's some fights during the last season that seem that might be out of Dragonball Z, the series stays the course with being its own genuine story.

3. Mako

ANYTHING with Mako is solid gold! This Academy Award nominee made Samurai Jack an even better experience as the villain Aku, but as the sympathetic Uncle Iroh was one of the best mentor characters since Yoda. RIP, Splinter!

2. It's all about LOVE!

Now, it might not seem like its a new thing in an American animated series, but ATLA sheds a serious light on the characters' relationships. This isn't your regular cartoon infatuation where some guy falls totally in love with some girl and spends the entire series trying to win her affections, but where the characters develop their feelings over the course of three seasons. There's some "head-over-heels" stereotypes, like Ty Lee's small obsession with Sokka, although some romances seem to spark a little to early, like Sokka and Suki. But mostly, they're handled very believably.

1. No damn fillers!

The series runs a perfect 3 seasons, with no pointless filler story arcs. Something that shows like Bleach and Naruto could learn from.

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 4: Page 19

Story by Jer Alford, art by E. Aedo.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

MISC. MANGA, *The Middleman

Despite having a live-action TV series on ABC Family back in 2008, The Middleman was originally a very popular underground comic series. The first two mini-series were collected into trade paperback, and the third volume was published directly as an original graphic novel. The comic was popular enough to garnish a full color graphic novel conclusion to the TV series which was cancelled one episode early. Written by screenwriter Javier Grillo-Marxuach, this comic is about a secret orginization that deals with all the exotic problems that the real world can't normal believe in, like alien invasions, mad scientists, and other supernatural threats. Sorta like Men In Black meets Ghostbusters meets X-Files. Although the black and white artwork by Les McClaine gives it a very manga look to it.

The series begins with struggling artist Wendy Watson part-timing in a lab which is attacked by some kind of tentacle monster. The beast is stopped by a strange man in an Eisenhower jacket, who ultimately frames Wendy as the cause of the mysterious accident. He then reveals himself to her as The Middleman, and explains that he uses their orginization(which is mainly staffed by him and a snarky old robot woman)exists for "fighting evil so you don't have to". Wendy is taken on as his sidekick and Middleman in training, and they begin to unravel this new case which involves a super-intelligent ape mafia and a maniacal geneticist.

The next volume has Wendy learning martial arts under the temperamental Sensei Ping, a fighting master who wears a lucha libre mask, and gets kidnapped by a cabal of Mexican wrestlers. The Middleman and Wendy manage to stop the evil luchadores, but Wendy starts to realize how being a Middleman is affecting her life. This volume also includes three short "Legends Of The Middleman" which shows some of the different Middlemen throughout the ages.

The third and last volume has the Middleman going up against his old sidekick, Middleboy, who was supposedly killed years ago similar to Bucky from Captain America. Middleboy emerges as the new Kanimang Kang, head of the sinister F.A.T.B.O.Y. group bent on conquering the world. Middleman defeats him, but is assassinated by him at the end, who makes his escape. Wendy grieves over the loss of her mentor, but the current "branch" of Middleman is replaced not by her, but by Wendy's long lost father. They conclude claiming that "The Middleman and Wendy will return", but so far no direct continuation to the comic has been made.

This series has been done as seperate graphic novels, and in a large collected edition. It's definately worth looking up with it's manga-influenced art style, and its completely off the wall writing make it something any comic book fan, otaku, or sci-fi geek will find totally satisfying.

ANI-MOVIES, *Futurama: Bender's Big Score

After four solid seasons of sci-fi sitcom gold, “We’re back, Baby!”, Futurama returned with the first of four made-for-video movies(or OVAs)which on its own made for the beginning of the unofficial Season 5 of the series. This was also a major payoff for hardcore fans of the series.

Set about two years where Season 4 ended, Hermes gets his head cut off, and then put in a jar like most of the other long-dead celebrities. At the hospital, Leela meets the heads’ attendee, Lars, who starts dating her. After the Planet Express crew accidently give all their personal info to some alien Scammers, they take over the company. Its later shown that Fry has a tattoo of Bender on his butt that contains a code which opens a time travel portal that can take anyone to anytime in the past. The Scammers get control over Bender from a virus, and use him to go back in time to steal treasures from Earth’s history, and then waiting out in an underground cave until the future/present. Fry gets sad with being rejected by Leela, so he uses the code to go back in time to 2000 just after he was frozen. The Scammers send Bender back to kill him to make sure the code can’t be used against them, and several other time-duplicates are made of Bender and Fry in the process. Bender eventually believes he kills Fry, and then becomes free of the Scammers control in the future. The Scammers then swindle everyone on Earth, and they all have to move to Pluto. The outcast Earthlings team up with Robot Santa and his holiday army to launch an assault on the Scammers gold-plated Death Stars to take back Earth. Bender’s old switcheroo of one of the Professor’s doomsday devices defeats the Scammers, although their leader Nudar survived. He is later killed by Lars, who sacrifices himself with an exploding Bender duplicate. It’s revealed that Lars was really Fry from the past who spent several years in the 2000s before finding out that he Lars from when Bender attacked him, and froze himself to wake up two years before fry was first let out. Bender then lets out all the other duplicate Benders from the cave, which causes a tear in time and space. This leads directly into the sequal,The Beast Of A Billion Backs.

This was a really good movie. It played on alot of small things from the original series, and blended it together wonderfully in a single story. Granted, the first musical number is kinda bad, although the “Holy Trinity” one with Mark Hamill as Chanukah Zombie was great. I really enjoyed this release, and the full episode of Everybody Loves Hypnotoad included with the DVD/Blu-Ray is hysterical. Granted, if you’re not a fan of Futurama and haven’t seen anything of the series prior to this, then you’ll really be lost. Although, that alone should be an incentive to go out there and get the last four seasons.

Friday, September 14, 2012

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 4: Page 18

Story by Jer Alford, art by E. Aedo.

ANI-MOVIES, *Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm

The very first original animated movie of our favorite caped crusader was this spinoff of Batman: The Animated Series. The story reveals several “secret origins”, plus goes a step further than the TV series did with its dark subject matter.

Several old mafia bosses keep getting bumped off by a unknown vigilante(never actually called the Phantasm in the movie), but just because he wears a dark oufit and a cape the cops think that Batman is the one doing the killings. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne’s old flame, Andrea Beamont, comes to town. Batman thinks there’s some kind of connection between her return and the murders. He deduces that all the gangsters were part of an old gang run by the dying mob boss, Valestra. It turns out that the Joker was his hitman, and goes to him to stop Batman who he thinks is the killer. Joker betrays him, and uses him as bait to flush out the killer, and learns that its the Phantasm. Batman then nearly gets caught by the police, but rescued by Andrea who had already known his identity. The masked killer then tracks down the Joker, who figures out that the Phantasm is really Andrea. They fight for a bit, before Joker nearly kills her with a giant fan. Batman shows up to save her, and chases after Joker who almost escapes with a jetpack. But, Andrea makes off with the Joker as his entire hideout blows up. Batman remains unaware of Andrea’s fate, although we see her later moping on a cruiser, and obviously Joker survived too.

This movie is probably one of the best stories used in a superhero film ever done, and up until Batman Begins it was definately one of the best Batman movies. Their use of the Joker wasn’t just done for fan service, but actually served the story in the end, although it would’ve been interesting to see Robin in this too. You’d think if his mentor was wanted by the police that he’d look into it. There could’ve also been a little more interaction between Batman and the Phantasm aside from a brief fight they had that only lasted a few seconds. Aside from this though, the film opens up some major windows into Bruce Wayne’s past, and the hard decisions he had to make between leading a normal life or becoming Batman. Most of the other episodes in the animated series didn’t go this deep into Batman’s character, or his motivation for being a crimefighter. Once again, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are great as Batman and Joker, plus Dana Delany is fine as Andrea, which helpled her nab the role of Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series. You simply must check out this awesome superhero epic.

JESI THE GENIE, *Part 4: Page 17

Story by Jer Alford, art by E. Aedo.