Saturday, March 11

Project Kris

Over the weekend I'll be starting a bit on Project Kris, which is a comics project which I will be writing for. It looks a bit daunting given that the stuff so far I have been given is a bit on the convoluted side- I'll have to do a bit of re-writing and setting down stuff to get everything into order and working as a cohesive and engaging comic book. I don't want to treat this as a job- the trick is to like it and do it like any of my personal titles, so I can get through it without letting details like having to deal with nitty gritties spoil the experience.

The trouble is, for starters, that it isn't a usual comic book that I do. Male hero, no special powers and probably no costume. But there's action aplenty and grittiness which is always interesting. And if all things go well, this job will fund my next book. Maybe I can treat it a bit like Powers. Or something like that. Anyway, more on this as I do it.

Thursday, March 9

Shin Angyo Onshi

The title is surely a mouthful, but Shin Angyo Onshi is an anime movie that otaku would do well to check out. Just like the movie Wonderful Days (which I really haven't seen in its entirety), Shin Angyo Onshi is a Korean-made anime feature film. Based on the manhwa (Korean comics) of the same title, the movie is set in an alternate world in the aftermath of a great empire's collapse due to the death of the Emperor. As chaos and turmoil engulf the land, the only justice now left is in the hands of the Angyo Onshi, or 'Agents of the Empire' who dispense law by the power of their sacred/mystical seals.

Talk to the Badge.

Despite looking quite surly and cold, the wanderer Munsu is actually the titular Shin Angyo Onshi, or New Agent of the Fallen Empire. In fact, he seems to be extremely powerful given that he can use various magical abilities, not the least of which is the summoning of a phantom army to do his bidding.
The film actually has two parts, the first being the introduction of both Munsu and how he first meets his eventual follower/travelling companion/bodyguard Sando, a lovely and silent young woman who just happens to have almost divine skills in laying waste to any enemies stupid or brave enough to challenge her.

Sando AKA Death Incarnate in Bondage Lingerie.

The second part of the film deals with Munsu's and Sando's first adventure, which deals with a mysterious island where evil magic is afoot. The whole film then has the feel of being a pilot for an eventual anime series, not really closing anything but giving the impression of a whole lot of justice-bringing and butt-kicking to come.

These are actually the good guys, believe it or not.

Despite that, the film should satisfy with pretty slick animation, though slightly not the kind of quality you can expect from big budget Japanese anime. There's quite a bit of amazing fight scenes and accompanying fan service with Sando, whose outfit consists basically of skimpy bondage-type leather straps and strips of cloth wraps. Munsu on the other hand fills the bad-ass role as he uses guns (similar to Genjo Sanzo from Gensomaden Saiyuki). Both leads are pretty interesting characters- Munsu has a bit of an anti-hero bent as he can be quite cruel or even heartless with how he deals his justice... while Sando on the other hand despite being an unstoppable slice-and-dice killing machine still has a young girl's innocence and an irrational fear of crossing bridges. Hmm.

I can only hope that an actual anime series or more installments of the movie follow. Shin Angyo Onshi (or "Phantom Master") is not an easy-to-find title; I had to scour the land for weeks before I finally happened upon the source of my copy. Now it's on my phone for anytime viewing. HAHA! For everyone else, if you can, try to check it out if you happen upon it. It looks cool and is pretty good for an independent anime.

Tuesday, March 7


Last Saturday I had the great fortune to be able to watch the second to the last staging of Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah: The Musical at the CCP. Thanks to Carl Vergara, who happened to create, write and draw the awesome comic from which the play is based on, me, Budjette and Cams got to watch what I believe to be one of the best and most inspired comic-to-performance translations ever.
Interestingly enough, me and Cams actually almost came late to the affair thanks to heavy traffic on EDSA. Thankfully we were able to arrive shortly after the theater doors opened, and we were on our great second row seats (right behind actors Roderick Paulate, Cherrie-Pie Picache and screenwriter Ricky Lee as the show started.

The whole theater itself was surprisingly small- I don't know if there could have been more than five hundred people in the whole audience. The stage spilled out into an aisle between the audience and out into the exit area. The stage itself seemed sparse and I wondered how they would be able to visualize and bring to life a superhero comic. Did they succeed?

With effing Flying Colors.

I have to say that I have never, ever been to a play that had me laughing so much and so into the performances. Granted, this has special resonance for me being a beloved comic (I am such a big Zsa Zsa fan), but darn, I have to commend director Chris Millado, Musical composer Vincent de Jesus, comic adapter Chris Martinez and the rest of the play's production staff for such a vibrant, faithful and innovative translation of the original comic... I wholeheartedly believe that Zsa Zsa The Musical is just as viable a comic book-to-movie translation as any of the big budget superhero flicks. No, really. It's that darn good. How else can you describe a play that succceeds in visualizing montage panels, goes so much deeper into characters and actually improves on the already hilarious gags and dialogue from the comic? I found myself seeing comic panels brought to life right before my eyes again and again.

I have to applaude the entire cast, with special mention of Eula Valdez who not only looks SMASHING as Zsa Zsa, but impressed everyone with her POWERful singing voice and total performance. Then there's Agot Isidro as the villainess Femina Varoux who just gets the look down PERFECT, as well as keeping a straight face throughout all her entirely english dialogue... Tuqx Rutaquio as Ada (Zsa Zsa's alter ego) and Ricci Tan for being THE personification of the comic's Didi. Kudos and wholehearted applause to the rest of the cast and the members of the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors Company who brought this perfect play to life. Superheroes, brilliantly campy humor, Matrix martial arts, Giant Frogs, zombies, big hair, skimpy outfits... What's not to love? Abzolutely Amazing!

The only negative is the relative few people who have seen this gem. I know every single staging has been SOLD OUT, yet many many more people have not seen this show. I truly hope ZZTM gets a re-staging, and perhaps in a bigger venue. This play simply has GOT to be seen by more people. If you read comics you absolutely MUST see this play. Carl, congratulations for being the first contemporary comic creator to see your baby realized in perhaps the best way ever. WOOHOO!!!

Cams, Zsa Zsa (Eula Valdez) and one Happy MADman.

Carl and his superheroine with Budjette.
C means Cannon Fodder

It's tough to be a superhero these days. Particularly if you're a 'B' or 'C' Lister. This means you're not one of the big boys (and few girls) who bring in the big bucks for the comic book companies. Recent and upcoming events in the major comic book universes have so far had the alarming penchant for killing off their supporting or not-so-main heroes seemingly for shock value purposes.
I have the bad luck of liking books that feature such kinds of heroes. Take DC's Batgirl, which got cancelled, perhaps not in small part to the events of the current "Infinite Crisis" event. Yeah, Cassandra Cain's still alive but her future is as yet uncertain. In Marvel, it's even worse. In the latest issue of New Avengers, the Canadian super team Alpha Flight is apparently killed OFF PANEL. They don't even get the decency of a real cool final battle or death scene. What an ignoble end to a team that has been around almost as long as I have been into comics.
The New Warriors also seem to be headed for cannon fodder status, as they are apparently the ones who will be involved in the event that will directly cause the upcoming Civil War mini-series in Marvel. I particularly find the way the Warriors have been treated recently as distasteful to the extreme- they've been around as a group since the 90s, and haven't been given decent writing or art which could have made them a more viable team. I hope that they don't go the way of Alpha Flight though- if anything, the preview of Civil War makes me curious, so at least that aspect of the gimmick works. Sucks though if Namorita dies... Grrr.

Bah. Lousy DC and Marvel. At least I myself would NEVER kill off a character just for a cheap gimmick or to sell comics...

Okay, maybe not really NEVER but not often...