Monday, April 21, 2014

MISC. MANGA, *Darkham Vale

This hit manga-styled U.K. mini-series by Jack Lawrence, who a lot of Americans would recognize from the all-ages series, Lions, Tigers And Bears, as well as several of the British Doctor Who comics. This 11-issue mini-series(which includes an Issue #0)was first published in England by AP Comics, It was followed up by what was supposed to be an ongoing series titled Darkham Vale: The Dracou Imperative, but that only lasted one issue. Issues #1-10 of the regular series have been released in two separate trade paperbacks and then later a collected book by AP Comics, and has recently been picked up for an American re-release through Arcana Studios, although it had a U.S. digital release through Devil's Due.

Taking place in an out of the way village in the English countryside, young Ryan and his father move into their ancestral home after their mother left them. What they don't know is that the entire town is really a haven for all manner of supernatural beings and creatures, including vampire, werewolves, goblin-like creatures called Garmigans, giant rodent people, and large but friendly lizard-dogs named Kankrolin. All these races live in their own regions within the area of Darkham Vale, but an old threat from their past comes to haunt them, an evil entity known as the Corrupter who was the one who forced all these monsters to seek shelter in Darkham Vale centuries ago. Ryan's family was charged with keeping the tomb where this demon was sealed away in underneath their mansion, but thanks to some masked man and his rampaging monsters called Egregore, the Corrupter is freed. Ryan however regains a special magic energy passed down to his family and defeats the demon, although at a terrible cost.

This was a really well mapped out comic, with terrifically dynamic artwork. It's like you're watching a full on anime, but with great writing. I'd very much recommend getting the full trade paperback, and at least Issue #0 if you can track it down. Totally for fans of Harry Potter or Lord Of The Rings!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ANI-MOVIES, *War Of The Worlds: Goliath

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle creator and head Heavy Metal magazine produced this movie animated in Malaysia which brings a new light on H.G. Wells' story. Joe Pearson directed this steampunk sequal to the original book, whose previous works include the Highlander anime movie, Skeleton Warriors, Duck Tales, and Rocko's Modern Life. with this being his first big directing job. Even though it's a Malaysian production, this has a definitive anime look to it, specifically from titles like Fullmetal Alchemist and Steamboy.

Set in 1914 on the eve of WWI, the nations of the world have united some of their best forces to create an anti-Martian army called ARES using reverse-engineered Mars tech to create their own tripods named the Goliath. Despite the fact that the Great War is about to begin, the troops of ARES instead dedicate themselves to stopping the oncoming Martian invasion which they find out is on its way from the Red Planet. A young Theodore Rooselvelt, Nikola Tesla, and the infamous Red Baron lead ARES, but the movie mainly focuses on the crew of the Goliath itself who have their work cut out for them while being torn apart from loyalties to their own families and conflicting nations. The Martians strategically attack three locations around America, but it all turns out to be a ruse as they focus the bulk of their forces on New York City. ARES brings their remaining tripods to the Big Apple for an all-out counterattack against the aliens, even though their own battle zeppelins aren't a total match for the Martian mothership.

This dieselpunk saga acts as great follow up to the original War Of The Worlds book, but also takes some inspiration from the 1950s movie by the way people are wasted by the heat rays. This has a decent voice cast, with Cowboy Bebop's Beau Billingslea, and pretty much the entire cast of Highlander: The Series. There were several independent studios behind this, but it is for the most part a high quality production. It had a limited theatrical run in 3-D, although its hard to see where that comes into play when watching it at home. This is a good addition for your average anime fan, but pretty much a must for any steampunk fanatic!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

MISC. MANGA, *Steampunk Red Riding Hood

Another one-shot steampunk fairy tale venture by Rod Espinosa, this takes par on the same specials he's done through Antarctic Press like Steampunk Snow White and Steampunk Snow White.

Here, Red and her grandma travel around in their mobile and fully armed “Granny’s House”, and use their steampunk tech to save distant villages from being ransacked by wolfmen. They aren’t all as bad as they seem, even though they manage to mug Red later in the story, but concede to let her take medicine to her ailing grandma after running across her abusive father. Red’s arsenal includes some sweet iron gauntlets.

Steampunk Red Riding Hood is great for a one-shot, with a fine cover by Joe Wight. The story does seem to wrap up a little quickly though, as if there was possibly room for more of the story in a second issue.