Saturday, January 27, 2007


I've recently pimped BLEACH with unadulterated glee. And I still do suggest reading it. But now I'm pimping DEATH NOTE. Thing is, I'm aware that DEATH NOTE might only appeal to some people. The impulse to save innocent people from death and innocent souls from becoming monsters is generally universal - BLEACH. DEATH NOTE on the other hand, is about a boy who gains the power to kill anyone he wants, which makes it pretty antisocial.

Free Image Hosting at DEATH NOTE is about Light Yagami who finds the dropped notebook of a Shingami or 'Death God'. Possession of the notebook allows him to kill whomever he wants. All he needs is their name and a picture of their face.

For those of us who've ever heard about a senseless violent killing, or have been affected by brutal crime, there's a whole world of appeal in the thought of someone meting out justice. But the books are more than just wish fulfillment. Light wants to create a better world and he thinks this is the way to do it. In a way he's an anti-hero. A little bit of the Japanese version of 'The Punisher'. He's brilliant and before finding the notebook he was going to enter into the national protection service, and fight crime as an agent. Now he doesn't have to wait years and years to finally do something.

I enjoyed the first three graphic novels a lot more than I thought I would. Even knowing my own anti-social and against the norm leanings, I couldn't conceive of it holding my interest in an extended run. But not only did it do that, but book four showed me how they could make a whole damn (10 or more book) series out of the thing. Possession of the notebook, you see, isn't absolute and once you lose possession you lose all the memories associated with the ability to kill people.

With that in play there's a whole bunch of twists and turns available for the characters. If someone isn't aware of any crimes they've committed and seemingly can no longercommit those crimes - are they innocent? Guilty? Something in between? Was it them? Or was it them as possessed by the notebook?

Is what Light is doing really wrong? Does he deserve the death penalty himself? Is that hypocritical?

What about victim families who saw the person who destroyed their life win appeal after appeal? But now that evil person has been stuck down by the 'criminal serial killer'? What about the families of those in prison who died? What about the wrongfully accused?

Once again I've found something that makes me think. And on top of that I just like the characters involved. They're young and passionate and distinct personalities. Half the time I don't know who I'm rooting for. I want them all to win. The notebook brings together personalities that otherwise would never have met and the oddest relationships and friendships are formed. Currently I find myself a little inclined to slash Light and the person who's made it their mission to put the 'criminal serial killer' behind bars. Two lonely, brilliant characters should and seem to have so much in common - I definitely want to see more about their possible friendship.

Was Punisher ever this interesting? Or was it always black and white? I admit to never really liking or reading Punisher since my introduction to the character was through the Spiderman Saturday Morning Cartoons. It was hard for me to like anyone hunting Spidey. And all I've picked up on the web so far is paradoy and mockery; is he a super hero? Is he a criminal? Now I have to wonder if people who do like Punisher would dislike DEATH NOTE for what I find to be its moral ambiguity. Then again, I might just be effed up in the head.

The artwork is also very enjoyable. The chapter-break prints are amazing. But the panelled artwork is clean and crisp in a way I like. Each panel furthers the story along with incredible pacing. If you're someone who doesn't like cluttered panels with impressionistic and vague backgrounds and an over abundance of 'reaction' shots - you might pick this up for the art and find yourself liking the story.

I'm rapidly discovering my temperaments re: art in Manga. I have favourites artists in comics with color and of course favourite colourists. But it's nothing like how precise I like the artwork to be in Manga (or rather how precise I like black and white work to be). That's likely to be another entry, however.

Once again I have to thank Marvel for disgusting me and DC for scaring me into searching out other comic fixes. Hmmm DeathNote - manga killery goodness.

DEATH NOTE / DESU NOTO - written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hiyah! Kunf Fu Movies & Chuck Dixon is an Ass

I started this blog entry during the holiday season thinking I was writing a quick update that I'm alive and the holiday season isn't a time where I do much non-personal blogging. I thought a quick mention of a movie I'd watched and parallels I saw between Kung Fu movies and Super Hero comics would be really be fast and only take a paragraph or two. But it became something else. And now I've finally gone over it enough to be satisfied and have updated it and now post it as I'd mentioned I'd do in my 'I'm back' entry.


The most comic-book thing I did over the Holiday season was watch Kung Fu Hustle.

I adored it. I bought it. I loved it. I pet it and name it George. And really if it wasn't for the fact that my bed is already over crowded with books, I might sleep with it.

A Kung Fu Superhero Dramedy Musical!

Nothing in the world could ever be cooler. (Unless perhaps it was created by Stephen Chow). I found myself craving comics when I finished watching it. I also found myself realizing anacute difference I've only half-noticed among other female comics bloggers.

I grew up with comics and kung fu movies. I always had a role model of a chick kicking ass, or going on the quest, or saving the hero - even while being pretty. Girls with swords. Girls asassassins. Girls as villians. I saw it all. Ruling Queens, stoic concubines; the Kung Fu world was as '4 color' to me as comics. Only I never realized it. It was just something that seeped into my subconscious.

A lot of the female comics bloggers I read have mentioned time and again about the hunt for role models or how the female superhero ends up being a catalyst/impetus for the male to do something. I grew up watching the sister rescue her brother, or the family business or go on a quest of revenge because of the death of her father/family as much as I watched the boys go out on adventures. I just never realized how important what I was watching was or knew how it was affecting me.


There are several themes in Kung Fu Hustle that resound as much for Kung Fu movies as for comic book sagas.

Retired heroes; The young hero who's lost himself; The Superhero couple filled with regrets that almost immobilizes them; Watching it I had visions of Stephen Chow and Kurt Busiek making something magical together. Seeing certain tropes played with and timed so perfectly in Kung Fu Hustle, at this time in my life when I'm paying more attention to Super Hero drama, brought an upswelling of squee. Yes, fangirl squee, I don't deny it.

Squee. Squee. Squee. Squee. Squeeeeeeee [insert soprana chorus here]

But I also realized that I wasn't surprised at all to find that it was the wife in the married couple who had the most impressive power. She was the stronger personality - it just made sense. As did so many other things. But there's an interview on the DVD where the interviewer kept talking about things that American audiences aren't familar with. And as I perused my blog flist and feeds, I realized that perhaps an American audience wouldn't have expected the wife to be the more powerful of the two. Or wouldn't have understood that the fracas between the couple said nothing about their love for each other or their sense of honor or thedynamic of both their abilities and their personalities.

My second favourite modern Kung Fu movie is 'The Heroic Trio; about a group of amazingly talented women who end up fighting an ultimate evil for thesafety of the city's children and all its citizens. Women kicking ass, taking names, saving lives; again. Women with inside knowledge of the situation. Women with regrets. Women with personal impetus to get the job done.

In comics the only woman I ever see who tends to know more about what's going on than everyone else is Wonder Woman. And then it's usually because Gods are involved and everyone else is busy going 'Gods? The Greek Gods are real? WTF? What?'. I'm reminded of Wonder Woman's portrayal as a murderer and the halbaloo about character assassination in regards the OMAC plot during Crisis etc. And how I kept wondering how audiences could buy a known hero doing something unheroic and taking it as gospel truth. [Please note I'm not talking about this in context to the masses as sheep that swallow what any authority tell them aka real life. I'd always thought the comic book realitypopulous to be much more savvy. And then I heard about Civil War. But that's a whole other post - and I think I did it already anyway]

I think I go into comic book stories with a completely different set of expectations and over the years and they've steadily not been met. But it hasn't been until recently I could verbalize what was wrong. Star Sapphire's costume, for example, is something that I would have just bought as part of the comic book universe. I didn't like it, but I thought that comic book fashion had to be this particular way. But when I recently read the new Supergirl, I couldn't take it as just part of the universe. It cheapened things. It made me wonder about Martha Kent and Lois Lane and who Supergirl was supposed to be. Just as looking at Star Sapphire's costume makes me wonder who Star Sapphire is supposed to be. Are comic books really just for kids or is the audience also (or primarily) adults? In which case why is Hal Jordon being disciplined by a pink dominatrix? What perspective am I supposed to be in to just accept this? What is the trope being played?

I don't have a problem believing the magical and physically impossible. I can accept powers and strange beings. I accept people flowing like leaves in Kung Fu movies. I accept that Superman doesn't need to breathe or really eat. I accept that Rogue must spend her life untouched or elseencased in painted on latex or surrounded in a very thin force field somehow. But how does accepting that lead to me accepting that in pictures and stories where women wear costumes twomillimeters thick, and arch and pose and shimmy as a form of empowerment or being one of the guys?

And to turn this into two completely different posts in one:SIDEBAR

And speaking of those shameless images - Chuck Dixon are you frigging mad? Comics are for children? Trix are for kids? Leave the kids their funny pages? Seriously Chuck Dixon? Seriously? We shouldn't expose them to sexuality aka homosexuality, bisexuality,transsexual differences? Violence is alright but not sexuality? Politics is alright but not sexuality? Civil rights is A OK, but not sexuality? Seriously? Working mothers. Latchkey kids. Neglected kids. Scientific and Medical Ethics? Religion? All alright? But Oh Noes! Not sexuality? Global warming. The environment. Does government serve the people or do the people serve the government, isn't a comic book writer teaching someone's kids about the bigger world around them and asking them to question things? The question of whether or not we're alone as sentient life in theuniverse . The question of whether or not we'd actually count as sentient life in the universe - These you'd let the four colors teach your children. But it's not the place of a comic book writer or the comic book industry to introduce or mention sexuality that isn't lips -> lips -> penis -> vagina -> baby bouncing on the knee?

Hypocrite much? Can you spell Homophobe? I knew you could.


Kung Fu movies showed me women dressed top to bottom. It showed me women dressed so normally I never considered how they were dressed and what they were wearing unless it wasrelevant to the plot; was it a disguise ? Would it show wealth and status? Did carrying that sword show her power? Did the cut of her clothes prove she could kick ass and take names?

I'm glad I had the upbringing that I did. I'm glad that the damsel in distress was optional for me. Because I think it'd be even more disappointing to fall in love with superhero comics and themes and have never had that innocent expectation met immediately and consistently that heroism is gender blind.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

OMG incoherent Runaways squee

Xavin! And Victor. And OMG Gertrude! And Molly's Adventures. And Jono! Sweet love of Mike! And plot! And thoughtfulness! And actions meaning things! And I had to think and Squeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

WTF is wrong with Marvel that the rest of their stuff I wouldn't even wipe my arse with. Cause a person's arse should know when to go and when not to go and Marvel's stupidity might be contangious.

If you've other Marvel stuff that isn't stupid... I've been hearing things about Mary Jane? Please let me know and I'll seek it out. But in general, Marvel and DC were turning me off Superhero (non Manga) Comics. And this is aside from my inanate need to force Frank Miller to suck Greg Land's cock.

ETA - And and...I totally forgot I'd started writing down prior thoughts so:
I've just started reading Runaways "True Believers" and I'm caught at the whole 'Ex Teen Superheroes'. I always wondered what happened to those folks. My snarky brit boy included.

It made me think that Marvel keeps doing limited series, putting together new teams and then doesn't go anywhere with them. They blame sales or whatever but don't actually put writers into making the characters people to care about.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How Manga Found Me - And Other Things

I got Runaways for Christmas. I haven't read it yet.

I fell in love with Runaways in 2006 and was so damn pissed that no one had told me Marvel was doing something good. All I'd gotten was incoherent squee from a few of the comic centric people I knew. A lot of 'And then... and then... and omg! ' with maybe some 'Josslike!' thrown in from fans of Buffy. But considering the things that we didn't have in common, I wasn't sure I could trust them to be selling me something I'd like.

I recently watched "Sky High". The ending has a lovely art bit that made me think very much of Runaways and helped me understand why I felt so bored and irritated while watching the movie. I really wanted to like the film but in the end I put it back in the netflix sleeve without even looking at the extras.

I'd waited a good while to see it and then I had it in my hot little hands on DVD and it didn't ping for me. I figured out the villian, I figured out the tropes, I figured everything out. I was bored. So bored. Teenager squabbles, mistakes made for lessons learned. The best friend. The misunderstood one. Blah blah blah.

Part of it was probably having role played certain super hero powers. After you've done the duplicating rock-star mutant, the cheerleading squad that's really all one person doesn't seem quite so innovative anymore. Uhmm at which point I guess I now say 'Sorry. Spoilers may be ahead'. Except that's all I'm going to mention about it.

Runaways doesn't bore me. Or rather it didn't. I'm fairly certain it won't again. And yet I haven't picked it up because I got knocked over in the last days of 2006 by BLEACH (anime series) and have been playing catch up using my local library system for BLEACH (manga).

And now that I've finished all the books my library owns I'm looking for more that interests me. Manga brought this happy surprise to realize that it actually is more than just a good story with good characters. Sometimes I forget that I like reading comics for the art too. And then I pick up something in Barnes & Noble or some other bookstore that has a couple issues and I'm hit face to face with Marvel and I want to fling the book across the store.

I feel so damn betrayed. Like some highschool girl who's being brave but holding in all this bitterness and anger and seriously Marvel's car is going to be keyed and the air in the tires let out. And DC's locker is going to be filled with tampons or something equally ridiculous. Hmm, maybe condoms and anti-bacterial creams and pamphlets about STDs.

I don't know if I understand the Manga squee. But I do know I'm enjoying feeling safe in the knowledge that the art won't suddenly change on something I'm enjoying and that the artist isn't getting by due to the skills of the colorist (Greg Land I'm looking at you). I'm enjoying knowing that the story has a beginning, middle and end. I'm enjoying, oddly enough, using the pictures and the words together, because I'm well aware the translation won't catch a whole host of subtle nuances and I want as much of the experience as I can get.

I think that's it. Lately American comics, specifically the big two, don't make me feel like I'm supposed to use my brain. There's all this talk about 'Trix are for kids'. And I want to know since when. The strips in the newspapers certainly aren't there for the kids. Doonsbury isn't there for the kids. Boondocks isn't all that much for the kids. Blondie and Dagwood are probably still gong strong, but I'd hope by now it wasn't still reiterations of 'Stay at home little woman and make my sandwhiches'. Dick Tracy, Blaze, the various comic soaps; none of those have exactly kid friendly material, what with wife-beaters and prostitutes and pimps and the mob, adultery and unexpected pregnancies. So where the hell did this urge come from that comics aren't supposed to make you think? Archie, Veronica and Betty's never ending quest to refuse the (in their case) practical clauses for polyamory?

I discovered in this month that my baby sister is interested in comics and getting her fix from the daily newspapers. She was thrilled that I'd gotten her 'The BabySitter's Club' - Book 1; the graphic novel. And I stood there trying to think of other comics I could get her and I couldn't think of squat. Because everything I wanted to share storywise, I didn't want to share art wise. And everything I wanted to share artwise I couldn't share storywise. I actually pimped Manga instead. Me, Batman's girl!

But Angelic Layer doesn't have anything objectionable to me and the young girl in it is all about being strong despite seeming physically weak or little. I'd rather show my sister that than give her Supergirl. Because my sister would call her a hootchie momma. And if I'd rather work on getting my sister to read a book backwards that has to say something about what I think my choices are.

I think I've been postponing reading Runaways because of the freedom in Manga; in being able to find precisely what I want and what interests me at the levels I want. Whereas lately I look at the big picks and I wonder who those people in the colored custumes are and I wonder why someone else has to take over writing for a character I love. Or why I have to read someone else's take on a character that some other writer made me love. Kurt Busiek made me like Superman, but I have no assurances the next time I pick up a Superman issue or graphic novel I won't know who the hell I'm looking at. And not just because comic canon is so large to be picked from, from a writer's point of view. But because some a-hole somewhere may decicde that Superman needs to be 'edgy and hip' and 'not SUPERMAN' for some sales reason and my fragile liking will break and crumble.

Still. I've only read Runaways Vol. 1. There's a ways to go before I reach the parts that Joss Wheadon will have taken over. Until then I can enjoy four color teenagers being real and grumpy and crabby and concerned in a way that speaks to me. And I guess until Invincible's story runs out, I won't have to get all I'm looking for from Manga for a little while yet.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Too many links named 'ComicSpace'

Dear Blogsphere,

WTF is a ComicSpace and why should I have one?

Everytime I turn around someone's linking to their 'ComicSpace'. All I know is that it sounds like 'MySpace' and thus makes me want to shoot it on sight. I have tv programs I stopped watching because they included MySpace as part of the viewing experience and I just wasn't going there.

What is it? Why does everyone think they need to have one? Why are people pimping it without explanation? Is it the new drug? Is the first hit free but then I'll watch the rest of you pay dearly through the nose and with loss of your sanity?

Friday, January 5, 2007

Seeking Avalon 2007

So I'm back and up, mostly, for writing again. I'm sorry for the complete drop off the radar, but the Holiday Season takes everything out of me. This year I thought it'd be better than usual. But like life (and Murphy's Law) the minute I thought that, everything became more stressful in some fashion or other. In this case, I lost a dear friend not too soon after the last post I did in December and then another friend's mother died and so I was dealing with more than usual.

But it's 2007. Everyone I loved who died last year is hopefully in a better place or somehow at peace. And I'm still alive and kicking (despite the more than occasional prod-throb of pain. I got Runaways for presents! Along with something by Alan Moore (hmmm Alannnesss) And I bought myself Kung Fu Hustle (which will have it's own blog entry (soon I hope) on how I realized the super hero comic themes in Kung Fu movies - at least as produced by Stephen Chow).

I'm catching up on blog entries I missed. I know I saw something about Wolverine and what sucks by 4th Letter and I have my own notes on 'Why James Howlett Sucks Big Time'. I also have a couple interesting thoughts on what Jeff Lindsay's (now on SHOWTIME) Dexter Morgan series would be like as a comic. And I'm watching Afro Samurai on SpikeTv.

On top of that all, I got hooked on BLEACH the anime series on the 29th-30th of December '06 and I've been combing my local library system (which has a far greater manga catalogue than I ever suspected) for bound issues. I'm pleased and surprised to realize the anime series kept so close to the manga that I could essentially just pick up starting from the end of Volume 6 and be on track. Of course I re-read the whole thing and realized that the anime has some slight reformatting of certain slighter storylines. But still. I'm pleased to be able to feed my fix ;p

BLEACH and 'Kung Fu Hustle' kicked off something in me and I've hunted down CardCaptor Sakura, I've put Inuyasha in my Netflix queue (Yay for holiday treating!) and I'm checking to see how many volumes my library has of that as well. I've been realizing, with much laughter, however, that my super hero love continues even in my manga likes and dislikes. Broody hero who's trying to protect individuals in the world from similar pain? Yay BLEACH meet Batman. Spunky girl working to make up for a mistake and who grows with each challenge? Hullooooo CardCaptor Sakura meet what I wished SUPERGIRL would be.

And Lone Wolf & Cub is likely to tweak every Kung Fu kink I never knew I had. But then again, lonely Samurai echoes with what I do like about Wolverine. And omg whee there's more by Kazuo Koike like: Lady Snow Blood and Samurai Executioner and The Path of the Assassin. I hope to be happy as a pig in mud for the first few months of 2007 - at least as far as graphic novel reading material goes.

HAPPY NEW YEAR (everyone who celebrates it in January instead of Feb or September!)

Oh and for the record? I have nothing good to say whatsoever about Laurell K Hamilton's "Guilty Pleasure's" comic. I'm not reading it. The scans I see of it make me cringe muscles that really prefer not to be excersised.