Saturday, February 22

Got Darna?

The first copy sold at Comic Quest Megamall.

I lucked out this night. Kensai Yonzon and the Darna crew came to Comic Quest delivering fresh, brand-new copies of Mars Ravelo's Darna. I bought the FIRST copy at Comic Quest Megamall, and perhaps all of Metro Manila. Heh. Anyway, the story is by Boboy Yonzon, pencils by Ryan Orosco and inks by Gilbert Monsanto.


In the tradition of most debut issues, Darna #1 begins with a dangerous situation for our heroine to make her entrance and kick some criminal scums' butts. Later, there's some sticky situations with kidnappers, and piles of corpses apparently left by an attack by giant snakes (Hint, hint). We get to see Darna's origin, and the comic ends with a familiar face making an appearance.
Mars Ravelo's Darna #1 (of 3) is a decent entry into the characters' mythos, far better than previous attempts by other local publishers to resurrect the character. The initial issue is fairly well-written, with some touches of humor. The art is excellent, though I have to say that it could have been much better in terms of panelling and pacing; some pages, like the snake victim massacre, could have been portrayed more chillingly; and the fight scenes could have done with more dynamic moves.
Aside from that though, there is little to complain about the comic's look as this new Darna is a LOT curvier and sexier than before (along with several other ladies in the issue). Fan service aside though, the issue looks slick and impressive. with bright colors and effects.
Depending on the debut issue's success, Darna could possibly be making a flight to international shores. With that, I wish them all the success in the hope that this ushers in yet another Golden Age of local comics. I'm looking forward to the next issue, next month. Congratulations, Kensai and Mango Comics!

Mars Ravelo's Darna is now available at all Comic Quest branches, and other leading comic and bookstores, 32 pages (full color) at Php120.00. Get your copy now!

Hey, Marc! She's got a nice costume. I want a costume like that too! Heehee...

Friday, February 21


No, I am not telling you that my blog is necessary for your continued survival (though that would be flattering to hear). Read Or Die is the title of one of my favorite recent anime that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone wanting unusual action animation.
Yomiko Readman is a mousy, shy and unsophisticated young woman who perpetually hides her looks (and she IS quite attractive) behind thick glasses. She works as a librarian and a substitute teacher, and as you may expect, lives and breathes books. She lives in an apartment building all by herself surrounded by TONS of books. And with the exception of the bare minimum needed for living allowances, all her pay goes to acquiring even more books.
But Yomiko isn't just some solitary bookworm. The fact is, Ms. Readman is a super-powered secret agent often contracted by the British government's ultra-secret Royal Library to undertake dangerous missions that often involve world security. Her code name: The Paper (Or, 'Da Peh-Pah', as the Japanese voice talents say it). Can't see how a librarian can be a kick-ass super agent? Watch ROD.

Based on a manga, the animated Read or Die OVA (Original Video Animation- direct to home video release) consists of 3 episodes of about 30 or so minutes each. They basically tell of Yomiko's adventures against the mysterious I-Jin, or 'Great Men'; resurrected geniuses from history who have been bound to service by an evil, unknown power for nefarious ends. The Paper is teamed up with a slinky and sexy femme fatale named Miss Deep (can you guess her power?) and a commando named Drake to take out the I-Jin and stop their plans.
ROD features wonderfully vibrant animation, colors and character designs which once again prove how unusual and twisted anime can get. Where else can you find a bespectacled librarian and a leather-clad vixen fighting a glider-riding Otto Lilienthal (the historical inventor of the glider) over New York? This aerial battle in the first episode gets my vote for the BEST action sequence in an anime, ever.

Aside from the action and animation, ROD just has to have the coolest intro/opening theme music ever. It's got a retro feel that just exudes a James Bond-superspy feel that you just have to hear once to get into. Total COOLNESS.
Of course, ROD is hardly perfect; the biggest flaw for me being how the 2nd and 3rd episodes pale in comparison to the Uber-perfect first. Also, it can get pretty melodramatic and cheesy, but that's besides the point. This short series is truly a gem of anime, and is right up there with classics like Ninja Scroll.
So the next time you find yourself in an anime shop, ask for Read Or Die. It's to DIE for. Heh.

Yesterday I stayed at home for a family affair which I won't take up much here since even I got bored. Anyway, the better part was that in the meantime I was able to do stuff on the side which I had been putting off for a while. Well, I tried, at least. I started inking the new Immacolata pages, and I succeeded for the most part. I also had to start some pencil sketches on some other projects, and try to do some new panels for the next Angel Ace issue.
I have to say though that I don't seem to have the stamina I had before. My eyes always feel heavy, I can't stay up too late and recently have been prone to just lying down and wasting my time away snoozing. I am intending to start taking multivitamins to supplement my health and endurance. I really, really, really need the extra hours after work and play to continue doing the stuff I have on hold. Darn. If this keep up, I'm going to get left behind. Can't let that happen.

Thursday, February 20

D' Original flying Filipino superheroine returns!

She's coming!

Care of Mango Comics, the greatest Filipino comic (and movie) super-character is making a comeback. Mars' Ravelo's Darna is set to return to the local comics scene in a big way via a three-issue limited series with art by artists like Ryan Orosco and Lan Medina. The Darna Golden Anniversary Edition Comic Book Launch will be at Eastwood City Central Plaza on February 28, 2003 at 7pm. We'll try to attend the hooplah that's sure to happen on that night of comics, music and fun.

Wednesday, February 19

Bloody but Happy

Yet again, the bloodletting ritual took place at Comic Quest today. I took home a stash of stuff, including the latest issue of Blade of the Immortal, the first issue of CSI: Crime Scene Investigations, Newtype-USA March and finally (and this got me LOTS of shocked looks from several people) the Tokyo Pop cinemanga graphic novel of Kim Possible.

Blade is a gritty, bloody and mature samurai-action fantasy by manga-ka Hiroaki Samura, featuring an unkillable hero fighting with a young girl to avenge her slain parents. CSI is the comics adaptation of the top-rated detective/drama TV series by director Jerry Bruckheimer; art looks cool and the story looks like it captures the graphic and mature nature of the source material. The latest Newtype comes with a nice DVD of the first episode of the english-dubbed Rahxephon, which is cool. Finally, the Kim Possible Graphic Novel adapts the episodes 'Bueno Nacho' and 'Tick-Tick-Tick', both of which feature really cool action and the hot bad girl, Shego. Is it just me or do hot bad chicks always wear green? Heh.
Ah. Nice stuff. But weak now from loss of blood. Must rest...
X2 2nd Trailer now online!!!

MY GOSH! The sequel to X-men, or X2, is looking better and better with every new snippet doled out to us by Fox. The latest trailer features TONS more stuff that hasn't been seen before. There's lots more interaction between the X-men and their former rivals, Magneto and Mystique; more scenes involving the X-kids (Xavier students), notably Iceman, Pyro and Shadowcat... and a first look at COLOSSUS! WOOHOO! Ahem. There's more too; kick-ass fight scenes, more Deathstrike (they finally gave Kelly Hu's character her comic book name) scenes, Nightcrawler(He speaks! He TELEPORTS!!!), and even former wallflower Jean Grey gets to have a totally wild scene towards the end.
X2 continues the adventures of the mutant superheroes known as the X-men. This time, they must contend with a direct assault that may force them to work with those they once fought as enemies. This mutant extravaganza will hit theatres this May.

To see the X-cellent 2nd trailer, click here.

Tuesday, February 18

Different Strokes...

Read some wildly varied reactions/reviews to the new Daredevil movie from a couple of my friends and blogmates, Jason and Dean. Reading them you'd probably never think we actually get along really well together, would you? Heh...
Daredevil Review (Some Spoilers Ahead)

Man without Fear. But not without Flaws.

Despite getting held up longer at the office than I intended, I was able to make it to Megamall for the premiere showing of the latest Marvel Comics' movie adaptation, Daredevil. The movie stars Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell and Michael Clarke Duncan. Daredevil is the story of Matt Murdock (Affleck), the son of an aging boxer who gets stricken blind by an accidental burst of radioactive material. While the tragedy left him sightless, it also enhanced his other senses, particularly his sense of hearing and smell. Eventually, young Matt learns to hone his physical skills to become an acrobatic whiz and a high-flying martial artist. But of course, in the tradition of these vigilante superhero types, even more adversity strikes as Matt's father, on the return road to success as a boxer, is murdered by gangsters because he refused to throw a fight. After this traumatic event, young Matt Murdock swears to continue fighting against the scum that makes life hell in the place called Hell's Kitchen. He becomes, in effect, a guardian devil. Daredevil, the man without fear.
This first movie about the blind superhero shows us the origin, as well as the popular story threads and characters that made the comic famous; The Kingpin (Duncan), a massive crimelord who controls things from secret; Bullseye (Farrell), a hitman with an almost unnerring ability to kill with throwing weapons, and Elektra Natchios (Garner), a Greek beauty and martial artist who captures Matt Murdock's heart (Love at first Smell?). The movie basically mashes a lot of stuff which spans throughout many issues in the comic book series into an hour and a half, and it results in a mixed bag that viewers may love or hate depending on how much they love the source material.
I have to say that I was never a big Daredevil fan. I mean, I never really like these lone vigilante-types. DD, at his heart, is Batman. Or Spiderman. What sets him apart? Well, he's blind for one. He's a lawyer (with a tendency for pro bono cases and the tendency to be a bad sport since he takes out those he can't convict. Heh) by day and crimefighter by night. DD is without a doubt the darkest Marvel Comics' movie yet (if you discount that old, old horrible Punisher movie with Dolph Lundgren), and perhaps as well the grittiest. Despite having a face like Ben Affleck, Matt Murdock is blind and has to struggle to keep his practice (good thing he has good ol' Foggy Nelson, who is played quite excellently by actor Jon Favreau) since he takes the leaner, straight and narrow road of innocent clients. He has to sleep in a sense-deprivation chamber at night to block out the noises of the world (thanks to his super senses), and he has to constantly wrestle with the morality of being a vigilante AND being a good Catholic (he goes to confession regularly). DD also has quite a surprising amount of blood and violence that's a lot nastier than past Marvel titles, in particular scenes where Daredevil lets a small-time criminal die, and a ton of scenes of people getting impaled by stuff thrown by Bullseye.
Despite all the heavy drama and violence, DD still tries hard to throw in stuff like a love story (between Murdock and Elektra), which is made pretty silly by a totally over-the-top foreplay/martial arts duel in PLAIN SIGHT that would be more at home in The Matrix or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon than here. Well, Affleck and Garner do have chemistry onscreen, and I think that despite the short time and lean development period, the love angle kinda worked. Still pretty silly though.
And back to the over-the-top martial arts. It's got the expected wirework and CG combos, which makes for some slick stunts and fighting sequences, though a bit too MTV-ish in editing too many times. Suffice to say you will have to accept that many people in the movie will start flying around sans Green Destiny swords. If you get past that, you will be fine. All in all though, there was really no fight in the whole film that 'did' it for me; everything was short and truncated and didn't have the feel of a Darth Maul fight... kinda like Spider Man and X-men, I guess. None of the Marvel films, despite being solid entries and moneymakers, actually had good climaxes. Oh well.
Anyway, I kinda liked the way the story was presented. I liked the performances of Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock, Garner as Elektra and in particular, Colin Farrell as the maniacal Bullseye- actually, he stole the show. Heh. I liked the gritty atmosphere and texture of the film, which was pretty uniform throughout. Loved the way the 'radar sight' was done. Cool.
I did NOT like the uneven fighting and trippy editing. I did not like the hurriedness of the plot (a result of the mashing of various plots and characters), and the revelation at the end by an overconfident enemy (Daredevil isn't too much of a detective in this one). I did NOT like Elektra's costume (BRING BACK THE RED OUTFIT, DAMMIT!!!!). And I did not get the sudden morality at the end (kill the small fish, and not the big Fisk?). Weird.

In all, Daredevil is a dark, heavy adaptation of the blind superhero saga which captures the atmosphere of the setting and character, but falters a bit on some execution issues. I know several fans who either hated it or just were disappointed. I did not have much ties to it, but I found it... okay. Not bad, and I am actually looking forward to a sequel. And Elektra's red outfit.

Monday, February 17

Vampire Hunter V

Sometime next year, we'll be treated to Van Helsing, a monster-hunting action-fest starring Hugh Jackman as the titular hero. I've seen images posted on Aint It Cool News, and Van Helsing looks straight out of the Yoshitaka Amano anime, Vampire Hunter D. The enemies include the Wolfman, Frankenstein's Monster and a very batty Dracula. Apparently, in all his incarnations, this is probably the first time Van Helsing has been portrayed as a bad-ass action hero. We'll have to wait till May 2004 before we can see this though. Hugh Jackman will of course be appearing in X2, or X-Men 2 this coming May.
Simply Extraordinary!

Yet another comic makes it to the big screen with the film adaptation of the somewhat obscure title The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The titular group is an unusual alliance of various literary heroes which include Allan Quatermain, The Invisible Man, Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde, Mina Murray (Harker), Tom Sawyer and Captain Nemo. For the good of the world (in particular, Merry ol' England), the LXG battles deadly villains with their legendary powers and abilities. The cast features Sean Connery as Quatermain. So far, the production values look incredible, with amazing special effects and oh, so cool touches onscreen. This one looks... well... extraordinary.

View the first trailer of LXG here.

Sunday, February 16


Sorry I wasn't able to blog yesterday... the tourist center where the internet place was located was just too far away and my feet hurt from the stoopid slippers I bought (in contrast, the Mojo sandals were great, and I used them exclusively for the rest of my stay). Anyway, the second day was mostly spent as free time; we never did get to follow the itinerary, so I took the time to walk around, buy souvenirs and pasalubong for home. I also splurged a bit, eating at a Mexican-themed eatery called Manana (didn't think the Taco meal I tried was worth the P300 price though). I bought several brightly-colored sarongs, bead necklaces and bracelets, and some thatched little bags. After that, I headed back for the hotel. My office group met and we spent about an hour discussing what we would share with the rest of the department, after which we chilled at Jonah's, which pretty much became our default place of drinks, meals and gatherings. Thankfully, I was able to slip in several swimming sessions, wading and splashing around along the shore. This is what Boracay is all about. At least for me. Heh.
Early evening saw our entire group finally meeting and finishing the work we set out to do. After that, we were FREE! We freshened up and then en masse congregated at The Talipapa, which was sort of the island swap-meet/wet market/cheap prices area. We settled in a restaurant called Honey Bee and dined on sea food and other native viands as a treat from our boss (although I have to say the kinilaw was inferior to the dish I had at Mikay's). Afterwards, we scattered to the four winds. After getting a beautiful bead-rosary as a gift, I headed back to my hotel room since I felt dead-tired. The rest of the night I spend watching cable; in particular, a channel called 'Z' which seemed to show exclusively wrestling shows (Japanese and WWE) and kinky phone sex ads in Chinese. MY KIND OF CHANNEL! There was even a Japanese pageant/model search show which seemed to specialize in upskirt and kinky sex stuff. I will miss Z. Sigh.
Anyway, the next day we basically had all the time to ourselves as we waited for the ferry to come and pick us up. At about 2PM, we were headed for Caticlan, and at 3:30 or so we were flying towards Manila. An officemate gave us a ride all the way to Quezon City, where I had dinner with a friend and then... I was HOME!

No more white sand. No more lovely waters to wade in. No more native souvenirs. No more sweet breezes and nice beach scenery.

But I have my room back. Nice, lighted room with all my stuff. My computer with the good Internet connection. Games and anime (unfortunately now one week delayed since I missed my Greenhills foray yesterday). Water that lets soap sud. Fresh clothes. WOOHOO!

And of course... work tomorrow. Oh well.

I am back home. Back to working at the office. Back to working on Angel Ace and Hinirang and other stuff. Back to romping around with my friends. Back to blogging. And boy am I glad.