Sunday, June 30, 2013

Maids & Minions

MISC. MANGA, *Shy Girl

Mix in Back To The Future and Tank Girl, and you might get some idea as to where this 2-volume original manga-styled graphic novel series is coming from. From the now defunct Best Sellers Illustrated comes this "Cinematic" graphic novel which tried to cash in on alot of the Americanized anime and manga that was going on around the mid-2000s, although this tried to bring in a little of the "bad girl" influence from the 90s too. Written by Stephen Stern, one of the creators of Zen Intergalactic Ninja, and drawn by Bill Maus who created the Zen spinoff series, Nira X: Cyber Angel, you can see where the creators were trying to use their flare for cyberpunk in this.

Beginning in the year 2140, the hoverboarding scantily-clad teen Shai Rand comes home to find her parents murdered. They were working on a time travel theory, and Shai realizes that the evil corporate beeyatch Vanessa Largo that her parents were in league with is the one who had them killed and stole their research to go back in time and change history. Shai uses some of her parent's leftover technology to jump back to the year 2005, and makes contact with her teenage great-great grandpa to secure her own timeline. Shai learns that Largo and her minions are trying to steal the original foundation of the time travel tech from a young genius, Warren Havermeyer. Shai(who has now been dubbed "Shygirl" by her grandpa)becomes Warren's bodyguard after explaining the situation to him, but ends up falling in love with him too. Shygirl then chases after Largo into a nexus between realities where anyone can be given any kind of power they want. After a superhero-styled fight with their new abilities, Shygirl locks off Largo in the nexus leaving her trapped there forever. Shai heads back to the future, even though her parents still remain dead in it despite the sacrifice she had to make to keep reality from being altered.

Shygirl was biled as a "cinematic graphic novel", and that does slightly play out in these two album-sized volumes, although your average manga tends to lend itself to that style anyway given the steady relationship between anime and manga. The publishing company folded business a while ago, but you can still find copies of both volumes from regular comics dealers, so its worth looking for if you manage to get a good bargain on them.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Me Grimlock no bozo! Me King!

OBSCURE O.V.A.S, *The Chronicles Of Riddick: Dark Fury

Similar to what they did with Van Helsing, Universal Pictures decided to do an animated lead-in to their Chronicles Of Riddick live-action movie. Given the success of The Animatrix, it was a semi-growing trend at the time to do made-for-video animated spinoffs to feature films, not to be confused with all the home sequals Disney did for their original movies. Dark Fury acts as a bridge between the first movie, Pitch Black(a killer sci-fi/thriller!), and the somewhat successful COR sci-fi/adventure. Although, unlike some other media tie-ins like comic book prequels, this actually has some resonance to the given material.

Taking place right after their escape from the hellish pterodactyl planet, Riddick along with survivors Jack and Imam(all voiced by their original actors)get picked up by a swanky ship filled with space mercs. This cruiser is run by the sultry Chillingsworth, who collects bounties, not to collect on the price on their heads, but to keep them as works of art by literally putting them on ice. She gives Riddick a challenge to save his comrades in a fight to the death with some alien creatures. Riddick succeeds, and frees the others as they make their escape from an entire ship of bounty hunters set to catch them. After taking down most of the competition, Riddick squares off with Chillingsworth's main flunky, and finally the dragon lady herself. The trio gets away, but the bounty hunter Tombs lives through the ordeal with his sights set on bringing in Riddick.

Peter Chung of Aeon Flux fame was the director behind this, and his style of animation pays off very well, although there's some shots during some of the last fight that seemed to have less detail put into them, possibly to get this project done in time to coincide with the COR movie release. Dark Fury is currently available only on its on single DVD release, as well as the Riddick Trilogy DVD box set. There isn't a Blu-Ray release of it at this time, even though there are features about it shown on the Pitch Black and Chronicles Of Riddick Blu-Ray editions.

My Brother...Have you heard of yaoi?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

MISC. MANGA, *Codename: Sailor V

Before the world shattering successful manga-turned-anime that is Sailor Moon(set nostalgia factor for 10!), there was a still to this day lesser known prequel manga featuring Sailor V in her early days before the Sailor Scouts/Senshi/Soliders all get their act together. Naoka Takeuchi started out her Sailor Saga with a single heroine, and then some eager-minded corporate folk hipped her to the idea of creating an entire team of magical girls, a trend which has had serious ripples in the whole mahou-shoujo genre since then. Minako(Mina in the original TV dub)was Earth's first acting Sailor hero, and this chronicles her original adventures with nagging mentor Artemis. It was in Japan a 3-volume manga series, but was compiled for the first time in English by Kodansha Comics into two large volumes. Some of these chapters were actually released after the Sailor Moon manga had ended, but lead into the events of its beginning.

Minako Aino is your average "blonde" Japanese schoolgirl who is very athletic, loves video games, and a totally boy crazy(remind you of someone?). She's leading a semi-normal teenager's life when she's visited by a talking white cat named Artemis. He lets her know that she's got a special destiny as the Pretty Soldier, Sailor Venus, or just Sailor V to keep it short. There is an evil corporation called the Dark Agency that is in league with the Dark Kingdom((aka: the Negaverse), and they're trying to steal life energy from people to turn them into mind-controlled followers. Artemis gives Minako a magical pen which transforms her into Sailor V, as well as give her the ability to perform a sort of "Honey Flash" where she can disguise herself as anyone she can think of, regardless of age or gender, although her disguises usually end up appearing like a blonde girl. The Police aren't too happy with there being a masked crimefighter stopping these new mysterious new criminals, so the swooning fangirl Inspector Natsuna sets out to make her part of the SWAT team, and sicks the hapless officer Toshio to recruit her. All this leads to Minako getting help from another masked Phantom Ace, who it may or may not be working secretly for the Dark Agency.

Codename: Sailor V not totally essential if you're just interested in the main Sailor Moon storyline, but its still is a great manga read. It's got a great comedy element to it that a lot of the Sailor Moon manga usually only uses in the backup stories. I'd recommend this for any fan of seriously funny shoujo, or those who appreciate a superhero story with a winning sense of humor.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

MISC. MANGA, *Victorian Secret Agents: Owls Of The Ironwork Isle

While not being a direct followup to the Victorian Secret Agents: Steampunk Angels sketchbook under the same title, this is an actual new story as part of Antarctic Press' ongoing series of steampunk comics.

It's about Penelope, a member of the special group of protectors to the crown known as the Owls. It seems as if Queen Victoria is under attack by an unknown assassin, so Penelope straps on her handy jetpack, and teams up with her dashing airship pilot husband to stop this menace. Although it appears that Penelope’s own mother is somehow involved with this plot.

This mini-series features some witty dialogue and real intrigue for a ripping yarn indeed.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

ANI-MOVIES, *Superman: Unbound

Since his big-budget remake is about to hit theatres, it was timely that DC Universe decided to make their next release another "just Superman" title. Animation veteran Alan Burnett takes on as producer in this adaptation of the recent Superman: Braniac story arc from the comics by Geoff Johns, which was later collected into a graphic novel.

Set sometime after Supergirl first arrived on Earth, Superman encounters a strange alien android. After defeating it, he takes it to the Fortress of Solitude, which shocks Supergirl into remembering how the city of Kandor on Krypton was taken away by a powerful invader known as Brainiac. Fearing Earth might attacked by Brainiac, Superman heads out into space to hunt for him. After stopping him from destroying another world, Supes gets taken aboard Brainy's giant "skulltopus" ship, and comes face-to-face with the Martian Manhunter-lookalike himself. Brainiac shrinks Superman down into the now bottle city of Kandor, and meets Supergirl's parents. Superman manages to get big again, and takes Kandor with him back to Earth. Brainiac follows, and shrinks Metropolis. Superman and Supergirl team up to stop Brainiac, while taking on all the dangers of his ship. After pulling him literally down to Earth, Supers manages to overwhelm Brainiac with being exposed to all the elements of an actual thriving world instead of observing them within his little bottled cities. This shuts down the mad computer, although the stinger at the end indicates not permanently.

This was a well executed animated feature, and a definite step up from the Superman Vs. The Elite movie at least as far as animation quality. There were some things from this that were left out of the original story, like Pa Kent's death, and any ties to the rest of the DC Universe. Also, Superman restores Kandor on an alien planet with a red sun, instead of on Earth, which in the comic leads into the whole New Krypton story arc. The movie can be viewed as a slight sequel to Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, since it begins with a still fresh from space Supergirl, although it's apparent its trying to be its own entity. It's definitely worth a look if you're a big Superfan, but it also makes for a good sci-fi/superhero movie too.