Monday, May 31, 2010

Another Round of Webcomics

Great!: "Great!" is the story of the life of one man's journey for greatness after losing everything. This one is really great, and really obscure. This is probably because of it's name. The series itself can be found on "Kiwis by Beat", Ryan Armand's personal website for his comics. The story itself begins with Mr. Phipps losing his job, wife, apartment, and worldly possessions. These early comics can be hard at times to read, just watching Our hero go through Jobian levels of loss. But this never breaks his can do spirit, and after what could be anything from months, he is eventually taken off the streets by the daughter of a Master Ramen chef and swears that he will become the best Ramen chef himself, after his boss himself, of course. What follows is basically an accelerated life story, going from youth, adulthood, all the way to middle age.
The comics themselves are presented in quite the unique way. Pages can have a few strips, up to a weeks worth of any other websites. This excuses the single day update schedule it has, but it keeps the audience wanting more. So even though there are only 77 pages, that's over 200 for any other comic, at least if you go by a multiple of three. The actual number of strips depends on the page, from anywhere between what could be called six comic strips to one big picture, though those are saved for more emotional conclusions or the introduction page. This is probably because it's a scan of a page with the comcis drawn on them, which helps you to see the division between comics.
Manly Guys doing Many things: Another video game based webcomic, this one focussed on an employment agency for what could best be described as out of work bad asses. So you've got guys like Kratos working for an electronics store, and Dante Aligheri working at a retirement center teaching needle point. The biggest draw would have to be the art, by coelasquid. Her art could be described as SERIOUS BUSINESS! There are only three original characters: Commander Badass, the guy trying to get these psychos acclimated back to a normal life, Jared Kowalski: The Worlds Worst Pokemon Trainer, who chose a magikarp as his starter and general intern at the agency, and the woman who walks by the temp agency every now and then, she doesn't have a name.
The comic is still pretty new, with only four months of comics, but it does have some extra comcis from coelasquid. And after you've read all of those, you can just go to her Devianty Art page and look at more of her stuff. Just remember, the punchline is always Machismo!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ushio and Tora

I suppose I should make some constructive use of this series, so I guess I'll review it. Ushio and Tora is a ten episode OVA based on the manga series of the same name. It's your standard monster fighting series I suppose, with nothing terrifically fascinating about it. The most I can say about is that it's not bad, though not great either. The humor is good enough, the action scenes are easy to follow, and the voice actors did a great job. The word I could best use to describe it is formulaic. The basic plot is a kid, Ushio Aotsuki, is the descendant of a famous Demon slayer, who years ago pinned a foul beast to a rock with the Legendary beast spear, a weapon capable of destroying monsters, but at the price of the humans soul, which may lead to the wielder of the beast spear becoming a monster themselves. This translates to Ushio growing longer hair and fangs, but his flesh also grows thicker, preventing attacks that would normally tear right through a human from going all the way through. As luck would have it, Ushio just happens to live on top of the spot where the monster was trapped, and he winds up stumbling upon him while moving some of the offerings made to his family into storage.
This releases the demons aura, but not after a humorous scene where Ushio and the Demon, from here on referred to as Tora, exchange insults after Tora asks to be released so that him may kill again. Ushio of course refuses and rubs the spear even deeper into the wound. Any way, Ushio's schoolamtes, Asako and Mayuko come by and are assaulted by fish demons, so Ushio needs the spear, but that means releasing Tora. Bad news, right? Well after a breif fight between the two, they team up to destroy the giant monster that has appeared. Basically Tora then swears he's going to eat Ushio, so he sticks around the temple, waiting for the moment to strike, and Ushio is making him clean up the mess he sort of started.
I can't really go into detail about the other episodes, but six of them are two parters, with these episodes proving to be the most violent. I may go into more detail at a later date, but they can be summarized like this: Monster unleahed, Ushio and Tora fight, either by a misunderstanding, or because Tora really was trying to eat Ushio, They team up and either kill the monster or learn some moral.
It's a two disc DVD set, with five episodes on each disc, with a blooper reel and a three episode comedy special, though they're only ten minutes long each, so don't get excited. The episodes are basically one that introduces an Comedy Special character, a monster that cleans the bathroom, one where Tora takes care of a kitten, and a silent movie one where most of the characters from the series chase Tora. This last one is my personal favorite of the three, if only because I enjoy seeing all the characters Super Deformed.
I've never read the manga, so I'm not sure how great that is, but I'm sure it ends better than this. Not sure whether or not it's been translated, though I doubt it. 33 volumes though, so you just know it lasts a lot longer than this. If each book covers at least three stories per volumeThat still leaves upwards to thirty-one volumes. None of the episodes seem to last longer than a few chapters, if that. Maybe on at most for the first batch of episodes are only three chapters long, but I'm sure the two parters were longer. They also left out a few stories from the manga, so that's a bummer. I usually don't advocate using scans of manga, but I suppose since this isn't available in english, I can make an exception, but you really should track down the OVA to balance this out, at least a little.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Iron Man 2 Review Part two

Now that we've gotten the new characters out of the way, we have to deal with the returning cast. First off, we have Tony Stark, Iron Man himself. Since the last movie, he has gone about bringing forth world peace, most likely by taking care of terrorist cells, or some other jibber jabber. We never find out how exactly he "privatized world peace", we're just told he did and have to deal with it. His major problem in this film is keeping the Iron Man suit out of the military's hands as well as coming up with a solution to the palladium poisoning he's come down with since sticking that night light in his chest. This has lead to more reckless behavior on his part, though that really only amounts to being a dick to Senator Stern, driving in that race in Monaco, and operating the suit while intoxicated, which hardly seems as risky as fighting terrorists by himself. Maybe it was more "a danger to the rest of society" thing that had everyone else worried. Any way, Robert Downey JR. once again brings his A game to this performance. The only fault I can seem to find is that he might have been to big of a dick, but that's what's expected of him. So I suppose we should move on to his co-stars, Terrence Howard. I mean Don Cheadle!
James Rhodes in this movie gets much more screen time, as he should. The build up from the first part is satisfying, though the true War Machine armor is only used near the end, during the final battle. But I must say, he wears the Mark II well, but then again, it's only his face in what I'm sure is a whole lot of CGI. But out of the suit, he's still a terrific character, though again, little development. I really cannot emphasis how often characters in this movie are just left as basic skeleton characters.
As a matter of fact, the one who got the most proportional development to his screen time was Happy Hogan, Tony's chauffeur. Played by director Kevin Favreu, he goes from a cameo to a full blown character in this one. And he's probably one of the most sympathetic characters. Thogh you can't spell sympathetic without pathetic. I'm not sure what's happening with this character in the comics now, but I read the original comics he was the only other person to have piloted to Iron Man suit, though it's been a while since I've read them, so maybe I'm making him up to be a bigger character than he is. But in this? There isn't a scene where he isn't getting thrown around. It's just a little sad for me to see this guy go from married to Pepper (one of the few things I do know about current Happy) to what basically amounts to comic relief. I suppose I should talk about her, but I don't really have much to say about Pepper. She's the same character as before, only now she's dating Tony and is the new CEO of Stark industries. I don't know, maybe I'm just bad at noticing personalities in humans, but you probably notice a pattern developing when I talk about these people.
While we're on the topic of cameos being developed (too late) Samuel L. Jackson returns from the credits in the last movie as Colonel Nicholas Fury, director of SHIELD, and all around bad ass. People were glad to see him in the first movie, and they sure as hell were ecstatic to see him in this one. He serves as a general Deus ex Machina, giving Tony the necessary stuff to keep him from being dead and slap the stupid out of him, metaphorically speaking, of course. Again, just another character there to set up the big party in 2012. Take him or leave him, though I suggest taking him. I suppose that covers all the characters, though I'm sure I missed some gripe points. In short, maybe Hogan was a sort of self insert by the director, though I doubt this, and Black Widow and Fury only acted as Fan service, in as many senses of the word as possible. I guess that leaves me to discuss the plot, though I think that might be taboo for movie reviewers. I mean, it's not like I can discuss emotion or pacing or anything! I'm an amateur. I just know how to state facts as they are, and what my opinion on those facts are. But then again, what is a movie without characters, and since I've already covered all of them, I suppose I can call it a wrap. Do I have to put a score down now?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Iron Man 2 Review

Well, I suppose I promised myself that I'd do a review, so here it is. Now, I should mention that I saw this at the midnight showing, so, my recollection may not be up to par. So, without further ado, on with the show.
I suppose I should start with the new characters. We are first introduced to Ivan Vanko, son of Anton Vanko, in a Siberian slum as they watch Tony Stark announcing the Stark Expo. Ivan then watches his father pass away while cursing the Stark family name. You see, the Arc reactor Tony came up with in the last one was actually a collaborative effort between his father and Anton, so Ivan was raised to believe that he and his father had been slighted, with Howard Stark taking all the credit for the work Anton contributed. This character did not get nearly enough screen time, in my opinion. They really wasted the whole "what could have been" character, they never really focused on that aspect. I suppose they might have done that because it's been over done in their opinion. But beside that, I don't think he had enough lines of dialogue. This might have something to do with his heavy Russian accent, which was so thick, even the other characters had trouble understanding him. We're told that he is a physicist, but the only evidence we have is, well, the arc reactor he builds in his house. And while this is certainly impressive, I just feel it hard to believe that this man who apparently was raised in Siberia got a good enough education to play Mad Scientist. I can accept playboy Tony Stark, because he grew up with wealth, so he did have this opportunity. But enough of Villain number one, now we have to deal with his benefactor and Rival to Tony, Justin Hammer.
Justin Hammer in the comics is apparently an old man, so it's a good thing they got Sam Rockwell for this role. This is the character that probably stole the most of Ivan's character development. And if it weren't for Rockwell's excellent performance and soothing voice, I don't think he would be as enjoyable a character. He was a well written character, and I'm sure other actors could have portrayed him well, but it was Rockwell who really did the job. He is, like Ivan, another example of what Tony could have been, if he had fewer scruples. I think they did a better job of that with him, rather than Ivan. His main perpose in the movie is to give Ivan the resources he needs to get revenge on Tony, as well as bringing forth War Machine. All I can say about him is that I hope to see more of him in future movies.
That leaves only one new character left, the Black Widow. She may be the character who was the least necessary. Since she's undercover most of the time, she gets next to no development and serves only as eye candy. Could they have axed her character all together and replaced the scene where she breaks into Hammer Industries with Nick Fury? Probably, though then we wouldn't have gotten the fake sexual tension between her and Tony. I don't mean to knock her looks, but I really couldn't tell her from some of the other Red headed women in this movie, besides Pepper Potts. Her only purpose was too give a report on Tony at the end of the movie, and that could easily have been achieved by having any other Shield field agent spy on him. And I suppose I can't help but mention this, but I'm sure more than one nerd was upset that she didn't have a Russian accent, or really any hint of being Russian, unless I missed something.
Well, this thing is starting to drag, I think I'll post my thoughts on the recurring characters, or maybe the plot later down the line.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Avenger's Speculation 3

Well, it's just one more day until the midnight premier of Iron Man 2. Now I know plenty of people have already seen it, some legitimately, some not so much. And they've all seen whatever Easter eggs there already are in Iron Man 2. But I haven't. I've been good, and kept my nose relatively clean. The only thing I do know is that Thor's hammer is in the end credits, and Olivia Munn is a lying Whore. We can all breath a sigh of relief knowing that she will not be portraying either The Wasp or The Scarlet Witch. But your not here to read about things that are fact. Your here for crazy speculations on what the future is for the Avengers series of movies. Well, here's what i think we can look forward to, or at least what I'd like to see.
Future Movies
We already have Nick Fury as a character, he's had a movie before, and we've got an IMDB page. It's a no brainer to expect a Nick Fury solo project, hopefully with a few old friends from SHIELD, such a Dum Dum Dugan, and maybe some Hydra action. Though the IMDB page talks about him as a soldier putting together a team of elite soldiers. Does this mean we're going to get a long awaited Howling Commandos flick? It's certainly possible, since according to Kevin Feige, Marvel's President, they will be appearing in the Captain America movie. The question is whether or not Marvel will be willing to do two World War Two movies.
Now I know I've dismissed any chance of Ant Man or The Wasp appearing in the Avengers as pure poppycock, but I suppose the possibility of the two of them being introduced in the Avengers and from there going on to appear in their own movie is a possiblity. We'll just have to wait and see. But if they did get there own movie, I wouldn't mind seeing him working on an artificial intelligence, possibly based on his own brainwaves.
Not sure how many other heroes there are, but if The Avengers film itself is a success, I'm sure we can expect a sequel. Like I've said before, the comics are not hurting for plots, or at least villains. But I suppose there is nothing I can do to know what the first one will have, so I guess I can just go crazy and start my crazy Speculation now.
Insane Speculations (Or the things I'd like to see in an Avengers movie)
Something that really disappointed me about the first movie in this series, Iron Man, was that Tony Stark's loyal butler was reduced to an AI program, so I was thinking, The Avengers need a base, Tony has been their host before, so why not have an Avengers Mansion with a built in copy of Jarvis displayed as a hologram. Now I'm sure they had a good reason for not having a human Jarvis, but I still would like to see him, rather than just hear him. And if they can't secure one of Tony's mansions, I suppose they can always just crash with Fury in his Helicarriers, something a few of my nerd brethren wouldn't mind, I'm sure. On a final note, there is but one thing I'd like to hear come out of Chris Evans mouth: "AVENGERS, ASSEMBLE!"

Edit: Right, I should probably point you over to a person who does a better job at this than me, Bob Chipman aka Movie Bob. Here's his video about the Marvel Universe movies, you should totally go watch it, and then subscribe to his blog, and maybe mine, perhaps?
If it's wonky to you, just go over to The Escapist website, coincidentally also linked on that page.