Saturday, December 31, 2016
Thursday, December 22, 2016
We open up with the creation of Jack Frost rising from a frozen pond, learning he can fly and control ice, but that no one can see or hear him. Cut to three centuries later, Jack is brought to the North Pole by Santa's hired good squad of yetis to be inducted into the group of the Guardians, individuals chosen by the mysterious Man in the Moon to defend kids from the newly arisen Pitch Black(aka: The Boogeyman). Pitch learns how to manipulate the Sandman's power to create dark horses called Nightmares to torment children's dreams, while at the same time attacking the Tooth Fairy's domain and stealing all the collected children's teeth which contain all their earliest memories. Jack is tempted by Pitch who bribe's him with his old teeth to recover the memories of his past life, but ends up loosing to him in a fight after Pitch had sabotaged Easter(we had to give the Bunny some reason to be in this story aside from whining about how more popular Christmas is!). Jack recovers and brings the Guardians back together with the last few children on Earth who still believe they exist to have a final conflict with Pitch and rescue the world from darkness.
This was a fine addition to the Dreamworks catalog, although it was the last one so far that they did for Paramount. Background painter Peter Ramsey did a fine job directing this as his first full-length animated feature. The voice acting is okay, although Alec Baldwin does a lousy Russian accent as Santa(you know, like in the storybooks!), and for some reason the Easter Bunny is an Aussie played by Hugh Jackman. It does feature some unique character designs, and above average CGI animation. For sure makes for a good watch for the kids at any given time of year, although to show it at X-Mas or Easter doesn't hurt either.
Monday, December 19, 2016
Hitomi in this story is a somewhat suicidal schoolgirl, and willed to the alternate world of Gaea, a planet parallel to Earth being conquered by the head of the Black Dragon Clan, Lord Falken, who here is seriously trying to bring back the Goblin King's haircut. Hitomi awakes inside a mechanical giant called Escaflowne, and proclaimed the Wing Goddess by Falken's rebellious brother, Van, who is leading a revolution against the Black Dragon. Hitomi is kidnapped by some of Falken's beast-men, but Van rescues her by sprouting wings as she falls off a cliff. The two of them bond, and meet up with the rest of their forces run by Allen and the now redheaded Millerna. The Black Dragon takes over a capitol to unearth their own mechanical beat, which Van battles in Escaflowne. Van and Hitomi then go to confront Falken in a somewhat anti-climatic conclusion.
The motion picture was an improvement at least as far as the quality of animation in concerned. The fantasy takes a more Frazetta design with the characters and story, but with less skimpier outfits. It's more shonen than the TV series was, but not in the bad way like the first Escaflowne manga. Visually, its pure spectacle, reminding the viewer of Ralph Bakshi's Lord Of The Rings animated movie. Whether you see the original Bandai or the current Funimation dub, you'll still get the same thrill, and a killer soundtrack by Yoko Kanno.
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Friday, December 9, 2016
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Set sometime in the past when humans and dinosaurs apparently still existed together, a kingdom ruled by the water-bending Nekron expands his terrain with ice flows, stopping only at the fiery volcano domain of King Jarol. His daughter, the sizzling Princess Teegra, is kidnapped by Nekron's cavemen minions. She escapes, and crosses path with Lam, the last of a tribe wiped out by Nekron's forces. Teegra is recaptured, so Lam teams up with the wandering masked warrior called Darkwolf(imagine a caveman version of Batman!). The two barbarians get help from Jarol's pterodactyl pilots to launch a Death Star-ish attack on Nekron's keep.
If you were a fan of Thundar The Barbarian, then this one is totally up your alley, or at least what most fans wanted the original He-Man series to be! There's some fantastic rotoscope animation, which had improved since Bakshi's films of the 70s, and Frazetta's designs are truly iconic, especially since Darkwolf was based on his legendary Death Dealer character. There isn't any blatant sex or nudity as you might thing for a primordial fantasy, but still plenty of action and violence. A live-action remake is currently being looked into, but it couldn't possibly compare to the awesome spectacle of the original!
Sunday, November 27, 2016
JoJo and Kim are part of a secret group called Project Z, and are given the classification of "Danger Girls". The D.G.s are hired by a strange fellow named Mr. E, who is really part of a race of aliens that all resemble Elvis Presley that crashed on Earth in the 1920s, and have tried to assimilate themselves into human civilization as peacefully as possible. But a rogue group of these alien Elvises brock off, and tried to take over the bodies of those in political power by basically teleporting themselves into the bodies of their intended victims. The Danger Girls are normally selected due to their genetic resistance to being possessed by the rogue Elvis clones, and fight the ones that go wrong in their attempts to take over which are mutated abominations known as morphs. One of these morphs turns out to be a Danger Girl on a space station that was planning on quitting Project X, and soon infects the entire satellite with the Elvis virus. JoJo and Kim manages to stop the outbreak, but the possessed Danger Girl ends up escaping and heading to Earth with our heroic duo in hot pursuit.
Since the series intended to be ongoing, it ended on a cliffhanger in the second issue, making it slightly disappointing. Like a lot of manga-styled 90s indy comics, this one got slightly lost in all the "bad girl" titles that were also coming out at the same time. But it is very nostalgic for those who dug fan service-filled romps from the Golden Age of anime!
Monday, November 14, 2016
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Miranda Turner is a model that has taken up the mantle of the masked crimefighter, The Cat, after her sister Lindy who was the former Cat was murdered. The problem is that the magical necklace that gave Lindy her superpowers went missing, supposedly taken by whoever killed her. Miranda has plenty of moxie and fighting skills, but her crimebusting adventures are aided by Lindy's ghost who still parades around in her slinky supersuit. The new Cat investigations lead her to a murderous make up artist, and a quartet of demons, all while trying to steer clear of Lindy's old superhero crew, The Guild.
This comic works as an homage to old pulp comics of the 40s, while mixing in modern day superhero comic sensibilities. Fans of Deadman, Blue Beetle, and The Incredibles should get a kick out of it!
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Saturday, November 5, 2016
Pirate Queen Emeraldas flies her space zeppelin to the world of Eden, and rescues the runaway Miantir, who is going back to her scientist father that terraformed the planet which is currently being becoming less and less inhabitable do to their engines breaking down. Aside from having to contend with rival pirates, and the possibility of being captured by the Illumidas race who control the Earth, Emeraldas must conflict with her own scorn towards men, while learning to trust others in return.
Even if you hadn't read any of the American Captain Harlock comics, or the original Japanese source material by Leiji Matsumoto, Emeraldas does stand on its own as a decent space opera. It was written by Eternity Comics regular Robert W. Gibson, and drawn by Ninja High School creator Ben Dunn along with Tim Eldred. There is currently no collected trade paperback of this particular comic, and hard to say if Marvel still owns the rights to it when they bought out Malibu in the mid-90s, but still worth tracking down for a look in your local bargain bin.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Monday, October 17, 2016
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Monday, October 10, 2016
Brainiac comes to Earth to shrink it down to make it part of his set of shrunken planets. The Justice League stops his initial assault, but Brainiac returns from his Brainiac Borg-collective with a device to send Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman each to different points in time. Batman jury rigs the Batmobile into a cosmic treadmill powered by the Flash to go through time to rescue the other heroes. Meanwhile, Cyborg stays behind to gather other heroes to stop Brainiac's drones, but everyone else is currently on other worlds, so he contacts Supergirl for help. Batman first goes back to the stone age to restore Wonder Woman's memory with her magic lasso, which ends up setting up the Amazon society(meaning that this whole time travel trip was predestined!). Next, Batman rescues Green Lantern from pirates, and finally ends up in an Earth's End future trying to find Superman. Flash gets taken back to present day along with Wonder Woman and GL to help the rest of the League battle Brainiac. In the future, Batman discovers Superman has been assimilated by Brainiac into being evil, but is rescued by Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, and Cosmic Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes, the rest of which were allegedly "killed" by Superman. Batman jet-skates to the remains of the Batcave, supposedly to get his Kryptonite to take down Superman, but instead uses a solor-powered ray to free Superman from Brainiac's control. Supes is transported back to the present, just in time to see it get shrunk into Brainiac's collectors set. Batman shows up in a Legion time bubble, and unleashes some spaceships for each of the Leaguers to use to combine into a giant robot, which in comparison to the now shrunken Earth is on the same scale of Unicron! The giant JL mecha fights Brainiac, while Batman gets inside him to reverse to shrinking device in his head, and restoring the planet to its normal size.
This was a decent tribute to the old time travel stories done in the history of DC Comics, almost like a Lego version of The Hunt From Bruce Wayne story arc with the Elseworlds-styled different Batman costumes. It still plays out as an average all-ages feature, while still entertaining for comic geeks.
Sunday, October 2, 2016
Since DC was cancelling shows like Young Justice when they found out that it was largely being watched by girls instead of their target audience of boys, it was later decided for them to follow the path that Monster High School did and created an animates series specifically for the young girls demographic. DC Super Hero Girls takes place in a completely different reality where a lot of the regular DC Comics heroes and villains alike are teenagers and go to Super Hero High School. It starts out with a teenage Wonder Woman(meaning there's no Wonder Girl here!)first attending SHHS, and becoming roommates with a good guy version of Harley Quinn. From there, it's introducing new characters to the roster like Supergirl and Batgirl, who get more airtime in the Super Hero High TV special that was shown on Boomerang in spring of 2016, although it has as yet to be released on DVD or Blu-Ray prior to this made-for-video movie.
Hero Of The Year starts out sometime after the Super Hero High special, with Big Barda becoming a reformed villain from Apocalypse which attacked the school in the previous story(meaning this would have been more helpful to put the special on video prior to this movie to develop a more established continuity). The campus is currently in a buzz for its annual Hero Of The Year award, Wonder Woman looking likely to win. Meanwhile, a female version of Eclipso and Dark Opal are outcasted from Gemworld by Princess Amethyst(who got her own anime-styled mini series from the DC Nation shorts), and steal various items of precious minerals to forge a powerful staff to take over the universe. Using their shadow-like creatures, Dark Opal and Eclipso kidnap an alchemist from Paradise Island to forge the minerals together, but they need a special crystal that Supergirl has from Krypton in order to make the staff whole. After kidnapping the parents of DC's all girl version of the Trinity to gain Supergirl's crystal, Eclipso uses the staff to try and conquer Super Hero High during their award's ceremony. However, her plans are ultimately thwarted by Teen Titan-regular Bumblebee, despite the fact that she was stuck in micro-mode during most of the movie. Eclipso isn't totally out of business yet as it appears her own evil-powered diamond survived the ordeal, laying plans for a possible sequal, plus hopefully adding Princess Amethyst to the DC Super Hero Girls roster!
This movie played out as an appreciative effort from Warner Bros. Animation to appeal to the female fan market, but also pays some fair homage to longtime DC Comics fans. There's a lot of voice over fan service with actors like Tara Strong back as Harley Quinn, Grey Griffin again as Wonder Woman, John DiMaggio as "Vice-Principal" Grodd(who might be on Principal Waller's Suicide Squad!), plus former-Supergirl Helen Slater as Martha Kent and former-Superman Dean Cain as Johnathon Kent. It's worth giving a watch for most comic fans, even if it is just playing on Cartoon Network.
Saturday, October 1, 2016
Friday, September 30, 2016
Hulk fights his old enemy Abomination in a wrecked town, and is brought into HYDRA's custody to use both of the gamma-powered monsters to amp up their own personal gamma-arc reactor. This of course goes horribly wrong, giving birth to a living energy creature calling itself Zzzax. Iron Man shows up in his own personal SHIELD Helicarier(which has a bunch of fighter jets in it for some reason), and thinks Hulk is the one responsible for all the damage to the damn Hydra was using, but changes his tune when he sees Zzzax. They chase the electric beast into the Helicarrier, and blasts them out after possessing some of Stark's old suits. Awakening in an graveyard, the damaged Iron Man and blinded fight of a completely random wendigo attack! Making it back into the Helicarrier, Iron Man suits Hulk up in some Hulkbuster armor to finally smash Zzzax. The movie ends with the two HYDRA scientist responsible for making Zzzax briefing Red Skull who has plans for Iron Man and Captain America.
The first Heroes United was decent, but seriously lacked in story content and plot. It was more of the two heroes bantering and going from one fight to another. It was released on DVD and Blu-Ray, but the sales and reviews were so negative that the sequal wasn't released for the video market at all. It makes for a reasonable watch for ol' school Marvel Zombies, but even for an "all-ages" feature its pretty tame.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Sir Miles is a resourceful scientist who is convinced that recent disasters plaguing the world are being caused by aliens. The United Nations say he's crazy for thinking that, and refuse to support his theory. So, Sir Miles sets out with his daughter Lady Ester to recruit a karate champ Janus to join their super robot crew and fight the oncoming invasion. The aliens use grotesque giant animal hybrids to attack major cities, which our heroes fight off with their dual mechas, Magnon and Magenta. When the heat turns up though, they ditch their more Gobot looking mecha for the mighty Magnos, which uses the other two robots as laser guns, and occasionally as huge drill bits to completely screw over the attacking kaiju. The feature ends with the aliens failing to stop the Magnos team, and their alien overlord seemingly destroying his lackeys, vowing to continue their invasion.
Magnos The Robot is definitely one of the strangest of the 70s super robots, especially with its totally impractical habit of shifting the pilots from one mecha/vehicle to the other, instead of combining them like Mazinger Z or Getter Robo. It's worth a look though to get the totally trippy action that you could only get from Bronze Age sci-fi action shows!
Friday, September 16, 2016
Set centuries from now, mankind is under a new religion called Unitology after an alien artifact was located on Earth. Sometime later, a similar one known as the Marker(called the "Red Marker" in game canon)is found on another planet, so the the Unitology church sends a ship to bring it back to Earth. A comic book mini-series released prior to this showed how the space colony where the Marker was bring kept slowly descended into madness. The Ishimura starship shows up and takes possession of the Marker, but unleashes a mad plague upon the crew where the start turning into mutated space zombies called Necromorphs. Everyone on board eventually gets killed by the Necromorphs, or from each other's madness. The last survivor is the movies main heroine Alissa who is the head of security. She manages to send a special warning on a beacon into space, but along with herself dying of asphyxiation. This ends with the first games hero boarding the Ishimura.
Downfall works as a fairly good sci-fi horror movie in its own right, without having to have been exposed to any other Dead Space media. It does has some pretty good animation, and doesn't hold back on the gore. There's some good performances by voice actors like Jim Cummings, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Bruce Boxleitner, especially in the scenes highlighting the crew's fall into insanity. It's as good as we're probably going to get to an animated version of Aliens, so give it a watch.
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Saturday, September 3, 2016
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Emeraldas is a mysterious wandering space pirate who solely sails the "sea of stars" in her zeppelin-styled starship, the Queen Emeraldas, that we learn in on-again/off-again flashbacks that the scar-faced redhead came across in the ruins of a lost civilization. She is searching for someone to confront, exactly who isn't revealed at first, but more than likely has some connection to a brilliant young orphan, Hiroshi Umino. He escapes from Earth in a ship of his own making, and continuously keeps running into Emeraldas, who secretly helps him on his journey to create his own ship(that lasts). In her travels, Emeraldas meets old allies and enemies, each one give only a tiny clue to the endless enigma that she's built around herself.
One of the few manga to be printed in English in hardcover format, Kodansha did a great job formatting this restoration, even though its a bit pricey. The 3-volume manga is turning out to be a real collectors item so far, meaning its probably a good idea to get them out while their still fresh on the American market.
Monday, August 15, 2016
Taking place in its own storyline with no connection to Batman: The Animated Series or any of the other DC projects like the New 52 movies, this story starts out with Batgirl meeting up with Batman chasing an up an coming young mobster, Paris Franz(made up for the movie). Paris takes a shining to Batgirl, while trying to take over his uncle's mob, and nearly succeeds in trapping Batgirl with sleeping gas, so Batman forbids her to go after Paris. Batgirl defiantly fights against Batman, where things heat up and of course leads to them making out on a rooftop. Whether this is Batman projecting Catwoman or some other ex-girlfriend in tight leather onto Batgirl is never really explained, but he then distances himself from her while hunting Paris. However, Paris gets the drop on him by hitting the Batmobile with a rocket launcher, but Batgirl shows up punch the living wazoo out of him, blaming him for the rift now formed between her and Batman. Barbara Gordon then retires from being Batgirl, partially for her feelings for Batman, but also because Paris made the whole hero business too personal for her.
The next part is a pretty clear adaptation of The Killing Joke itself. although the prelude does succeed in realizing how Batgirls aggression towards Paris mirrors his relationship with the Joker, who has recently escaped Arkham. While Batman beats down thugs trying to find him, Joker invades Commissioner Gordon's apartment, kidnapping him, and shooting Barbara which paralyzes her legs. Joker takes Gordon to an abandoned amusement park he "bought", and tortures Gordon with naked pictures of Barbara he took after shooting her. Batman is invited to the Joker's park, and fights off his freak show minions, afterwards he discovers Gordon has still kept his sanity despite the Joker's torture. The Dark Knight chases after the Clown Prince in a near fight to the death, but Batman's spares him in the hope he might someday be able to save Joker from his own madness. This ends in the notoriously ambiguous finale as to whether Batman kills the Joker after telling him a joke that sums up their relationship.
The backlash given to the movie is given mostly to fans hating the Batman/Batgirl sex scene, which is because the majority of longtime comics fans were stuck on Batgirl and Robin being a couple, plus Batgirl being the daughter of one of Batman's best allies. The original Batgirl Special the prelude was inspired by would have worked within the confines of The Killing Joke movie as a DC Showcase, similar to the Catwoman special was released with Batman: Year One as a follow up to the movie centering on the Catwoman of that movie's universe. It would mean that the The Killing Joke itself would either be even more padded out by about another 10 minutes or so, but it might have simmered some serious heat off of it. It is satisfying to finally see a DC Universe movie where Batgirl has an active role, however the DC animated features "fetish" of hooking up unrelated characters doesn't pan out well here, even though its long been established that Batgirl has had a thing for Batman. The actual Killing Joke portion of the movie is exceptionally well done, with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill being recast as the eternal rivals. Some have criticized that the animation doesn't fully live up to Brian Bolland's style, but considering how realistic his art style was back in the day, this was no easily obtainable task. However, the design and animation manage to work well for this feature, at least up to the same specs as some of the current DC Universe animated projects. It's worth a look at, mostly because of its historical significance, but also as a inventive take on one of the highest regarded titles in American comics.
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Friday, August 12, 2016
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Set in a steampunk-ish fantasy realm, Gully is the daughter of a legendary warrior Aramus, who has recently gone missing. Gully inherits her father's power gauntlets which endow the bloodline-worthy bearer extraordinary strength, and is hunted by werewolves sent by an unknown evil force. The young girl gains allies in the former war-golem Calibretto and the hermit wizard Knolan. They get help from Aramus' former prize protégé, an outcast warrior called Garrison, whose former lover interest, the series' poster girl Red Monika, tries to free a prisoner from a floating prison. The prison break lets out all the deadly criminals and abominations that leads our heroes to band together to protect the kingdom, which isn't as justly run as it seems.
Battle Chasers lasted originally for nine issues with about four different trade paperbacks, which also included a prelude one-shot and a feature in a fantasy magazine. Whether or not the series continues is still not fully disclosed, but it is worth looking into the first few issues. Joe Madureira based his work on gritty mid-90s anime fantasy similar to Bastard, Berserk and Ninja Scroll. So, if the works of Yoshiaki Kawajiri are what you crave, then give Battle Chasers a look.