Friday, February 4

A Date with the PSP

The US release of the Playstation Portable is now set for March 24. The handheld will be sold in a 'Value Pack' that will include, aside from the PSP itself, a headset/remote control, sample UMD disc, 32 mb memory stick, battery pack, AC adapter, a soft case, cleaning cloth AND a bonus UMD disc of the recent blockbuster movie, Spiderman 2. Wow! I would have preferred FFVII Advent Children, but that's nice. However, the bad news... the bundle will retail for $249.00. YOUCH! The price is a lot higher than industry experts predictions, which tagged the price at about $200, to match the Japanese retail price.
The launch lineup seems to be similar to the Japanese games... no real headturners for me. Damn, that's expensive. I guess that 20K peso-plus price is pretty much what we'll be seeing, though after a while a price below 20K should be possible eventually. Well, for me, it's wait and see. It's all about the games for me, so unless a title gets my interest, I'm holding out for now.

Thursday, February 3

Good Girl Art

The much-awaited Frank Cho Shanna remake arrives.

I've been waiting for this to come since last year, when Mr. Cho broke the news on his site. Some may argue that Frank Cho's art has a 'soft' look to it and that his women all have but one face, but DAMN what a face. And what a body. I've been into the Cho art style since last year (though I've tamed down my desire to Cho-ize all my stuff), and it's all culminated with the release of the mini-series.
Slated for 7 issues (NO! MORE!!! MORE!!!), the new Shanna series arrives sans Marvel hubbie Ka-zar and other baggage like environmental activism. In fact, Shanna arrives sans clothing. She's first seen floating in a tank inside an apparently abandoned Nazi science installation, discovered by a group of commandos and a professor. Soon afterwards, the explorers meet the other denizens of the lab, and they look like they've come straight out of Jurassic Park.

The first ish is a fast read- the text isn't heavy and things move pretty fast along the pages. To go with the copious amounts of skin Shanna flashes (still censored though- DAMN), there's a fair bit of bloody violence which startles given Cho's 'clean' lines. Refreshingly though, Cho still manages to fit in some moments of humor, showing off his comic strip mentality with some quick little gags. All in all, the story tantalizes but I really want the next issue right now. It's fun, sexy and well worth the hefty price- at least for me it is.

Funny though, I found myself thinking of the Hellboy movie after reading Shanna- commandos, Nazi experiment, befuddled professor, and a naked main character found... same structure, eh? It's really intriguing what Mr. Cho has in mind for Shanna, given that there are only 7 issues. I'm really hoping they extend or continue this title and the character, with the Monkeyboy at the helm, indefinitely. This is pretty much a title that will stand as long as the prime elements (Mr. Cho, half-naked girl) stay together. But we'll see.

Shanna the She-Devil #1 is available NOW at Comic Quest and other comic specialty shops. Grab it before I get them all. Heh.
The MADman's Nastiest Ninja in Movies

The Octagon was one of Chuck Norris' better flicks, and it had him going up against a ninja cult holding underground death duels. The best fight in the film was a one-on-one duel with the Octagon's champion- a scary, nameless and masked ninja who kept coming and coming until Chuck threw him into a fire. And even then he still jumped out! The guy wasn't the head villain, but he was mean and he hissed. Heh.

Ninja III: The Domination was a pretty corny ninja flick with supernatural flavor starring Sho Kosugi, but it had great ninja action. The main villain was a master ninja who gets killed near the start of the movie (but only after taking down about a dozen cops and getting pumped full of enough lead to cast him a life size statue). Before finally expiring, the ninja transfers his spirit into a young woman who later becomes his vessel for revenge against the cops who offed him. Towards the end of the movie, the ninja returns to his body (!), goes up against Sho (whose wife he killed years ago) and showing powers like mind control over large numbers of people. The guy even causes earthquakes! How's that for deadly?

The Hunted is my favorite movie showing ninja in modern settings. Christopher Lambert stars as Racine, an American exec who, while vacationing in Japan, meets a beautiful woman (Joan Chen) who is actually the woman of a powerful and vindictive Yakuza. When she is killed by a powerful ninja master named Kinjo (John Lone at his most formidable), Racine witnesses the murder and thus becomes The Hunted. The situation escalates as Kinjo isn't alone- he's the head of the Makato- a whole village full of trained, ruthless killers who fear nothing and won't stop at anything to carry out their mission. Racine soon gets help from a modern-day samurai who is fighting an ancient war against Kinjo.
The high points in this flick are a deadly chase on a train, where the Makato board the bullet train after Racine, and start slaughtering everyone in their path to get at their target. The finale is a free-for-all battle between samurai and ninja in an ancient castle. Coolness! This flick really showed off how deadly ninja could be, updated to modern-day Japan.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, well, at least the first movie, was actually pretty cool. The ninja here are The Foot clan (which is, actually, a spoof and a nod to Marvel Comic's The Hand), portrayed as delinquent youths trained and brainwashed by The Shredder. They had cool uniforms and their great numbers made for cool fight scenes with the Turtles. A bit on the funny and cartoony side, but this was nice for the time. And still cooler than the Hand in the Elektra movie.

You Only Live Twice has James Bond teaming up with Ninja. Classic.

The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise features a ninja attack on the rebel samurai village, and it is considered by many as one of the film's best parts. The fighting here is fast, brutal and bloody cool.

In contrast, these films are a disservice to the ninja coolness...

American Ninja. Well, what can I say? ALL these films are crappy, which is probably because a couple of them may have been filmed or produced here in the Philippines. Ninja getting killed off like common thugs in huge numbers, a ninja master with a LAZER and more corny stuff with Michael Dudikoff. Bah.

Three Ninjas. It had Hulk Hogan. Nuff said.

Ninja Kids. OOH! A home-grown title. Actually a fun watch. But still crappy as a ninja movie.

Elektra. From a powerful mystical cult of master killers, we get a boardroom full of suits, two guys who get skewered by Jennifer Garner and later a whole bunch of ninja who are stupid enough to get killed by the oldest trap in the book- the old, "Leave the Gas on and Throw a Candle in as All of the Stupid Ninja Crash in the Room" trick. Sigh.

MAHAHAHAHAHA!!! So where will ninja go next in movies? We'll just have to wait and see. Perhaps when X-Men 3 comes out, it will have Psylocke and have some ninja sidestories. Well, I can dream can't I? Sigh.
She's Baaaaaack...

Death can't keep a good bad girl down.

Got my comics yesterday.

Suikoden III is actually growing on me again. The art's been consistent and quite lovely, and the story is moving quickly. I guess I'll be staying with this one until the bitter end. Perhaps I should start re-playing the game before I get spoiled with the manga.

Haven't read Blade of the Immortal's latest ish yet, and I don't expect to until I amass about three or four more issues. So at least I can look forwward to sitting down with it and warming the seat at least before I finish. Heh.

Battle Vixens looks cool, but I've got to catch up since I actually haven't read this since the third book.

Uncanny X-men 455 brings back a certain sexy ninja-telepath of English descent with an killer Asian body... Yep, Psylocke's back despite being gutted and put in a body bag some time ago. Maybe she was found by the same guys who resuscitated Kai? Anyway, there's talk that the hottie X-man was killed off and stayed dead because of Joe Quesada. Well, apparently that's changed and she's back courtesy of Chris Claremont. And there's talk that she might actually show up in the next X movie, which explains quite a bit. Heh.

Shanna the She-Devil is finally in my hands. It's a lot more expensive than the usual comics, which prevented me from buying an extra copy. Anyway, the art is GORGEOUS... Frank Cho can really draw women. Anyway, the issue is a fast read, and it's pretty easy to see that this new Shanna isn't your daddy's jungle girl. It seems she's an experimental super-soldier created by the Nazis, and now discovered by some explorers. Well, thanks to Mr. Cho we'll be seeing the blonde goddess in a makeshift bikini instead of Nazi fatigues. I hope this series sells so well that Shanna becomes a regular series. DROP THE FRIGGIN' SILLY ANIMALS AND DRAW JUNGLE GIRLS FULL TIME, MONKEYBOY!

Ah. So many comics. So little blood. It's a wonder I can still type...

When the muse hits, you answer.

Yesterday, during a bit of down time, I whipped up this sketch of Kai. It turned out pretty well, so I'll probably ink and color it and use it somewhere in the K.I.A. book. It's been a long time since I've really drawn and done comics for considerable lengths of time. The way I work, I do comics in sprints. If I'm really into a project I'll sit down and do it and that will probably be what consumes any personal time I have. As Vin and the gang will probably remember, I'd bring finished pencils and stuff almost everyday to show off.
These days however, I do most of the work at home, partly because I don't usually carry a bag anymore. Perhaps the current waiting time for K.I.A. has somewhat made me lazy, but I'm still pretty pumped to make comics, bring characters to life and see amazing things materialize on paper from my hands.

Yep, there's nothing quite like that. It's magic, in a way, and I'm happy that I have this skill or talent (though I would have wanted the ability to play the piano or mastery of martial arts in me somewhere as well).

Whether it's drawing Angel Ace or Kai or any other of the cast of heroes, villains and anti-heroes battling in my head, I'll be drawing and writing and spinning stories for years to come. Promise.

Wednesday, February 2


I'm expecting TONS of comics today, which will leave me weak and bloodless by the end of the day. Well, that is, if they actually arrive tonight.
Anyway, my much-awaited premier issue of Shanna the She-Devil will be coming with all-Frank Cho meaty goodness. For manga and anime, there's the latest Animerica, Blade of the Immortal, Suikoden III and Battle Vixens. On the US comics side, there's Uncanny X-men, Superman/Batman and Justice League Elite. DAAAAAAMMMNNNN!!!!
Well, hopefully the new stocks will be on the dot tonight. So I'll be going home pale and feeble but happy.
Insert Blurb Here

Web and comic artist Jonas Diego has some funny stuff in his new webcomic, Graphic Detail. His debut strip even stars Gerry Alanguilan! Check out Jonas' blog, The Blurb, for the strip, which will be updated often. Support Filipino Comics, people! Heh.

Tuesday, February 1

Resisting Temptation

Yesterday I passed by Toy Kingdom at Megamall and I spied lovely Playstation Portables (PSPs) on display. From what I can gather, the barebones unit-only package costs Php 21,000+, while the Value Pack (which includes some accessories) goes for Php 24,000+.
Now, some time ago I would have jumped the gun and bought my own Sony portable right there and then, but DAMN, it's pretty pricey for a handheld. Yeah, the PSP is cool as hell (what a paradox), but you have to consider quite a few things.

First, the units right now are first-wave machines; there are bugs to be worked out, flaws in both the hardware and software that early adopters will surely get inflicted with. Things like dead pixels. UMD (the discs the PSP uses) lids popping open inadvertently, causing the ultra-delicate UMD to fall to the ground and be rendered useless. And of course, the fact that there just aren't any cool games yet. Sure, Ridge Racer is out but it's hardly something worth 20K to play, is it?

And of course, any and all games right now are in Japanese. Including the arguably pretty cool Metal Gear Acid. Unless you have mastery of Nippongo, it's pretty pointless to go further.

Nope, I'm going to wait a while. For the prices to go down. For the PSP's flaws to get worked out and remedied in future batches. For UMD movies or at least software to encode MP4 movies watchable on the thing to be introduced. For a PSP Streetfighter or Tekken or Dead or Alive.

And, at the very least, AFTER I release K.I.A.

With these thoughts adamant in my mind, I turned to leave. As I did, my eyes veered to the side where a rich kid was inspecting the shiny, brand-new PSP he was about to buy.

Poor fool.

Poor DAMN frickin' lucky bastard fool.

Timeless Adventure

They’re showing Raiders of the Lost Ark on HBO. Even though I’m pretty tired, I just have to watch it. It’s still the best action adventure film of its kind (the tomb-raiding, treasure-hunting, quasi-historical kind), having the best hero, the best quests, the best villains and action, and the best direction, performances, tone, music and craft. And in the Indiana Jones Trilogy, Raiders is head-and-shoulders above its sequels.

Of course, it’s a bit of trivia that actor Alfred B. Molina AKA Doctor Octopus from Spiderman 2 appears in Raiders, as one of Dr. Jones’ guides at the beginning of the movie (He’s the one who grabs the idol and leaves Indy once the earth starts shaking). These days, marketing for Raiders hypes up Molina’s appearance in the movie, now that he’s a bigger name. Well, whatever works. It’s pretty funny to note that one of Molina’s scenes involves an encounter with some arachnids… perhaps an omen of the future? Heh.

Alfred B. Molina had problems with spiders even back then.

Sunday, January 30

Animation Sunday

Sailor-adventurer-explorer and all-around nice guy Corto Maltese.

This night, I found myself watching a couple of very unusual animation fare on cable.

The first feature was Kaena: The Prophecy, a CG film about a dying, tree-like world where a small tribe of humans cling to life as mysterious 'gods' within the tree dominate their lives. The titular character, Kaena, is a spirited young woman whose love for exploration soon leads her to finding the secrets of their world, their so-called gods and the key to saving her people's future.
The CG was pretty good, though I have to say that the look made me think of that crappy Final Fantasy Spirits Within movie. The story was your usual 'girl saves the planet' sort of thing, but it was interesting to see the cool alien designs and the lovely animations.

The second and better film of the night was an animated movie entitled Corto Maltese, based on the character and comics of Italian cartoonist, Hugo Pratt. The main and titular character is a sailor-adventurer who coasts through various adventures during the early to mid-1900s, meeting historical figures and encountering danger, secret societies, intrigue and quite a bit of carnage and bloody violence.
This particular story apparently involves a hunt for gold, a rich prize coveted by various factions. Corto is accompanied by a bearded companion who looks suspiciously like the Russian madman Rasputin and occasionally aided by a feisty Chinese girl and Red Lantern assassin known as Shanghai Li.
Despite having no over-the-top villains or threats of world domination, the story had me hooked and the smooth, life-like and detailed animations were beautiful to behold, sustaining interest even through the many talky parts, and coming to fruition during the film's several intense action sequences. Overall, it looked and felt like an animated Heavy Metal comic, which is great. VERY different from the usual anime fare I am used to, but having a couple of sexy femme fatales in the story certainly didn't hurt.

The film's in French, but thankfully has english subtitles. I would actually not mind at all to have a copy of both movies on dvd, if they were available. I'm pretty sure Kaena can be found in the dvd bins, while I've yet to see Corto Maltese show up anywhere. I'll see about getting them into The Sanctum's library when I can.