Friday, June 15

Justice For All

The 12-issue Maxi-Series by iconic comic artist Alex Ross is now complete. It's been a loooooong 2 years, but it's been worth it every issue. Ross' tale of DC's superheroes being sent to the threshold by an alliance of villains is a visual feast, once again showcasing the same style that made Kingdom Come a classic. It's not always easy to figure out what's happening in every panel, but darn- it's damn fun to figure out. No one quite gets it like Ross, and there are quite a few who try. The main draw of course is that simply, this is probably the closest we'll ever see a live-action, super-high budget Superfriends vs The Legion of Doom movie. It was awesome to see Ross' interpretations of the many heroes and villains, even if some looked like cosplay due to their 'realism'. But what the heck- his version of Poison Ivy is the best. Heh.

Anyway, I'll enjoy re-reading this series again to soak it all in more thoroughly, and to see the tons of stuff I probably missed in the panels. Afterwards, all that's left is to wait for the third hardcover collected edition, just for completist's sake. This is one keeper of a series, and hopefully Mr. Ross will revisit his unique universe again someday.

Thursday, June 14

My Personal Ninja Girl

Coming soon to the pages of Mangaholix!

One of the coolest recent developments for me in the local comics scene is my getting involved with the cool crew behind Mangaholix, the latest manga comic-magazine from local producers/publishers. I was invited by the group's biggie, Emmanuel Javier, to submit some stories and was lucky enough to have one approved for inclusion in next few issues.

The story is Ninja Girl KO! While on a field trip to the forests of Northern Luzon, hapless student Anton Alcazaren crosses paths with the cutest Japanese war straggler ever- the beautiful and skilled kunoichi, Michiko Yamashita! Sooner than you can say, 'Belldandy in a gi', Anton's got himself his own personal ninja assassin at his beck and call. High-kicking, katana-swinging, shuriken-throwing chaos and comedy soon ensue!

Japanese war stragglers don't come cuter or deadlier than Michiko here.

I am doubly honored by the fact that the comic will be drawn by none other than Kriss Sison, one of the best local manga-style artists we have right now. I've been a fan of Kriss's work since I first saw him do pages of the Voltes-V sequel series in Questor Extreme Mangamania, and seeing my scripts come to life with his lovely art is just a giddy-inducing pleasure for me. If all things go well, NGK will see five issues. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

For now though, the first issue of Mangaholix, with three action-packed pinoy manga titles (Aporia, Kraust and Midknighters) is available for sale at National Bookstore outlets all over the Metro, and in comic shops and magazine stands. Check it out!
Surf's Up!

Silver Spoilers Ahead.

As part of my birthday celebration, I took the time to watch a movie today. I was actually trying for Ocean's Thirteen simply because it would have been cool to watch it on the 13th of June. But schedules didn't work for me, and I ended up getting to watch The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. And to be honest, It all ended up for the better as this sequel, thankully, more than rises to the occasion.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer reunites the entire cast from the first FF movie; Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards AKA Mister Fantastic, Jessica Alba as Sue Storm AKA Invisible Woman, Chris Evans as Johnny Storm AKA The Human Torch, Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm AKA The Thing and finally Julian McMahon as Victor Volt Doom. Set some time after the first film, the movie opens with an ominous sight- that of a planet exploding a fiery death, a silvery bolt streaking out from the ruin towards our own pearly blue orb. Meanwhile, the world is proceeding as normal. The Fantastic Four, popular superheroes and celebrities (it is so refreshing to see heroes being treated either as the heroes that they are or just regular joes) who are knee-deep in preparation for Sue and Reed's wedding. Unfortunately, the arrival of the mysterious Silver Surfer wreaks havoc wherever he appears, and that spells bad news for the impending wedding.

However, it soon becomes apparent that the Surfer isn't the real threat. He's just the prologue to the real danger from the stars. In order to save the world from being devoured by a force beyond all comprehension, the Fantastic Four must defy the US military and fight their hardest against a ruthless, power-hungry nemesis who soon attains the unlimited Power Cosmic himself.

What can I say? I like this movie. In fact, I can say I loved it. I liked the first FF movie, and well, the sequel kicks more ass.

The cast is back together, and that is a good point. All are more familiar with their roles and are as likeable as ever.
Ioan Gruffudd is brainy, nerdy Reed and gets as much laughs with his powers as he does cool stunts (albeit Elasti-Girl still rules as the best execution of a stretch-o-hero).
Jessica Alba is still piping-red hot, and hilariously finds herself naked AGAIN in public- darn, when Reed says at one point that he's marrying the Hottest Girl in the World, you believe him. Anyway, she's as sweet and strong a character as she was in the first film, never a damsel and having lots of chances to show her stuff. In fact, you can tell that Sue is the glue that holds the team together.

Michael Chiklis' Thing is, once again, perfect, and provides laughs gamely along with Chris Evans' Torch- gladly we see him several times as a normal human as well as covered in the Thing costume (or is it CG?). It's refreshing to see him adjusted well to being the Thing, with little or none of the angst in the first film.

As for cocky boy, Johnny Storm gets a much bigger role here, providing both humor as well as some drama as the Torch is forced to become more serious. Try as his character needs to be an obnoxious, cocky flyboy, you can never really dislike the Torch- he's just having too much fun and more importably, he's never irritating too much- this is the right way to do a young, cocky teammate, which past superhero flicks never really got right. At the end, he gets to take the brunt of the action in the finale, ala Super Skrull with all the FF's powers, and it just plain rocks.

I even like Julian McMahon's Doom- which is no wonder since I did like McMahon's smarmy, confident villain even in the previous film, electro powers and all. Yeah, he's no longer deformed in this film (well, what can you expect... his actor is from Nip/Tuck), which throws another facet from the comics out the window, but darn- he still has the scary mask, a bad-ass cowl and cloak, and gets a great fight scene/battle at the end. That's all a supervillain could ask for.

As for the Surfer- the CG is pretty slick and awesome. He does seem so solid in the movie, and his back-story, personality and everything seems spot-on. And of course, he sounds like Morpheus, which is excellent. Will there be a Silver Surfer movie? Why not. Maybe someday.

Comic geeks will no doubt be disappointed about Galactus- and how he doesn't appear in the film as he did in the comics. He's more presented as a force, a god-like entity of unfathomable power. The familiar shape DOES appear, albeit vaguely, and I think it works, and works pretty well (it certainly will keep non-comic fans from needing to know why a giant guy with a dopey over-sized helmet is such a big deal).

All in all, FF:ROTSS works as an enjoyable, tightly-paced and entertaining superhero flick. It does pretty much everything right- comedy, drama and action are all mixed in well in the correct doses; the Thing-Torch horseplay never gets old, the Reed-Sue drama never grates or drags, the special effects, fight scenes and action work very well throughout. Even Stan Lee's cameo was kinda cool. And the Fantasticar ROCKS, appearing at just the right moment and staying for the duration. I can honestly say that with all that, I enjoyed Fantastic Four more than I did Spider-man 3. Really.

So don't believe some bogus negative reviews online- just bring the kids to the theater, buy some popcorn and get ready to enjoy the best superhero flick out so far this year. Nuff Said!

Wednesday, June 13

Burning Hot Teaser

Here's the debut teaser trailer for the next big game from Namco Bandai. The game is Soul Calibur IV, and it's bound for the PS3 and Xbox360 in 2008. The character models- if these are indeed in-game models- look absolutely awesome... as in, Virtua Fighter 5 awesome. I can only hope that stuff like Character Creation and other treats make it into the game. More information about the next and perhaps final chapter of the classic weapons fighter will be appearing in the July issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. What can I say... 2008 can't come fast enough.
Birthday Boy

Yep, the MADman turns one year older today. I've got a lot to be thankful for... but to keep from jinxing anything and mentioning each and every one, I'm just gonna say, thanks for all these gifts. As I mentioned before, I've taken a bit of a vacation break starting today until next week. I'll be meeting up with some friends as well as recharging and looking at where I am, just before I continue moving forward. To everyone here who comes and visit the blog, thanks for hanging around and you can look forward to more MADness to come.

Monday, June 11

Somebody's Gotta Do It

I love educational but fun or interesting shows. Stuff like Mythbusters and Ghost Hunters, and food shows like Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour. Well, another title has been added to my list of favorite shows. Dirty Jobs.

Tackling on the multitude of the world's messiest, grossest, most unpleasant and perhaps dangerous jobs around, the show has host Mike Rowe diving head-first into the thick of things, actually taking on occupations that most of us ordinary people wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole... yet are necessary to keep civilization running. What kinds of jobs are these? Septic Tank Maintenance. Roadkill Cleaners. Any job that involves FISH and animals. These are jobs that often involve manure, chemicals, waste and other undesirables that you'd prefer to never, ever see. But the fact is, SOMEONE has to clean up after everyone else, and that's what this show explores, in lurid, graphic detail.

I've only watched a couple of episodes, but it's damn entertaining, if truly gross. This makes all those orchestrated Fear Factor eat-crap segments look like cake walks in comparison. Host Mike Rowe really gets into the nitty-gritty, and you have to admire the guy for getting knee-deep into bat guano, letting a huge catfish swallow his arm or submerge himself in crap to show us how dirty work can be. And despite cracking jokes and making light of the situations he often finds himself it, the show is a great testament to the honest, hard work done by the men and women who actually do these things day after day. On the other hand, it also makes me appreciate my own lot in life and daily trade. Beats shovelling real, literal shit for a living.

I have to say though- I'd like to see how Mike Rowe and the septic tank workers in the US would react to our own country's Malabanan poo-divers. Heh.

The show's not on local cable, but if you can get it (I get episodes through the internet- God bless the web), I heartily recommend this entertaining, enlightening and engrossing (with a capital GROSS) show.
Culture Shock

One of the most anticipated console games coming out soon is Bioshock for the Xbox360. While in gameplay and mechanics it seems to be just another first-person shooter, the game's design, look, storyline setting and mood give it a survival-horror/adventure feel that makes it accessible and desirable for gamers who don't necessarily like run-and-gun titles.

Set in an alternate, art-deco world, Bioshock puts you in the shoes of a hapless passenger of an airliner that crash-lands into the middle of the ocean. With trappings of LOST, you make your way to a strange lighthouse-like structure which soon leads you down into the underwater city of Rapture, a man-made utopia gone absolutely MAD. Once one man's dream to create a perfect society where genetic engineering can perfect the human body and form, it soon becomes apparent that something has gone horribly wrong in paradise.

Rapture is in ruins, with seawater leaking into the city in many parts. Corpses litter the many labyrinthine chambers, shops, avenues and sectors, and genetically-altered/deformed inhabitants calling themselves Splicers roam the city like bloodthirsty predators. To survive, you have to arm yourself, not only with guns and other weapons, but with Plasmids- special compounds that will alter your genetic structure and imbue you with various powers, such as the ability to throw electrical blasts or freeze enemies solid. The most powerful plasmids and upgrades you can get can only be acquired by using Adam, a special material that's as valuable as gold in this twisted world. However, there's a problem. Adam can only be found in the corpses that litter Rapture, and the only one that can collect them from their macabre source are the Little Sisters... tiny, mutant little girls that crawl out from the pipes, searching for the material. To get Adam, you have to make a choice- to 'save' the Little Sister and get a little bit of Adam, or get all the Adam from the tyke by 'harvesting' her. And that mean killing the kid.

While it's kind of made clear that the LS's aren't really human- the producers intentionally made this a bit of a dilemma for the players. Can you stomach killing a little girl for a nice upgrade, or will you play moral white knight and go another, perhaps harder but less unsavoury road? Your choice will affect the story as it plays out as you go deeper into Rapture, an intriguing bit that players will have to discover later on.
But don't think that even getting to the Little Sisters will be easy- each is watched over and protected by a Big Daddy, a monstrous, lumbering figure in an old-style, heavy-duty diving suit. These walking tanks serve as Bioshock's bosses and take quite a lot to take down- but you'll have to do it somehow to progress through the game. By using a combination of powers, weapons, using other enemies and the environment as your allies, you'll hopefully master the world of Rapture and penetrate the depths of this sunken nightmare.

With an intriguing story, incredible graphics and gameplay elements, Bioshock really looks like a game to look forward to. It hits the Xbox360 in August 2007.
Rare Pleasures

There are few things more satisfying and enjoyable as a long weekend. In this day and age of hectic jobs, sleep deprivation and pending responsibilities, an extension to your far-too-short my time is always something to be savoured. In my case, I'll probably just waste it away with sleep, surfing the web, going on aimless videogame sessions or DVD marathons. Or working on comic pages or scripts. Rarely do I really go out to the malls unless someone like my friend Pot comes by with his car, or someone else gives me a holler. It's much nicer to just stay home and recharge. Perhaps I'm getting a bit too old already.

This week will actually be a prolonged break for me- I'll be taking the rest of the week off after Tuesday and be on leave until next week. I'll try to make the most of this extended break. Or not. I'll do what I can, is all I can say.