Friday, January 6

Rising Angel

"Fallen Angel" Lee returns in a big way.

One of my favorite comics in the past couple of years was a DC title known as Fallen Angel. It was an odd title- not quite your regular superhero title, though the protagonist, Lee the Fallen Angel can kick butt with well-nigh invulnerability, super-strength and the ability to psychically EXPLODE anyone who pisses her off. Set in the crime-ridden, corrupt and shadow-cloaked city of Bete Noir, the comic explored Lee's complex relationships with other shady characters, such as her friend/confidante Dolf, hoodlums like the laschivious Asia Minor and the city's untouchable 'magistrate', Juris. Oh, and there's a lot of action too.
Unfortunately, while the comic was a cult hit, it didn't pull in the cash quite like DC's frontrunners like Batman or JLA... so after the 20th issue, Fallen Angel was cast into the dark. However, the creator-owned title has found new life in IDW Publishing, thanks to creator Peter David's hard work as well as the support and encouragement of many, many fans.

Now, the NEW Fallen Angel from IDW Publishing has hit shelves. The character and story are the same- only the title is now set 20 years after the end of the final issue of the DC run. Yep, 20 years. What effect has this on the Fallen Angel and the other members of the cast? Not much- while appearing with a bit of gray in her hair and some wrinkles when in her daytime guise as a PE Teacher, Lee reverts to her young and still damn strong red-haired, red cloaked form at night when Bete Noir comes alive. And business is still booming for the vigilante/mercenary/bounty hunter/ass-kicker known as the Fallen Angel.

The first issue of Fallen Angel features pretty impressive art from new artist J.K. Woodward, whose painted, photo-realistic panels bring to mind the work of Alex Ross. While some action scenes may look a bit stiff, the quality of the art is undeniable and even gives Fallen Angel the look of a TV series- a darker, more visceral Buffy, save with Angels and Devils instead of Slayers and Vampires. Oh, and Peter David reveals a lot in the first ish- past speculations that Lee is none other than a resurrected Supergirl are all but quashed, as the nature of the Fallen Angel's true past is finally shown in a crucial flashback and key dialogue. This pretty much makes issue 1 a superb jumping on point/origin story for new readers, yet still reassuring longtime fans that Lee is still alive and kicking.

I highly recommend this to comic book lovers looking for a more unusual kind of superhero comic, fans of kick-ass female protagonicts, Buffy and Xena fans and cool comics in general. Get your copy now at all branches of Comic Quest.

As of this writing, Fallen Angel #1 has received rave reviews from critics, and the sales of the first issue have pleased IDW Publishing so much that the title is now assured to continue past issue 5. Here's hoping that it's all downhill from here. Go, Lee, GO!

Thursday, January 5



Some news from the upcoming X3. A new villain has been added to the cast: The femme fatale Psylocke AKA Betsy Braddock, will join the legions of evil mutants in Magneto's Brotherhood for the third film of the X-men movie franchise. Comic fans of course know that the British-born, purple-haired telepath turned ninja assassin is a good guy (er, girl) in the ongoing Uncanny X-men comics, having re-entered the world of the living recently after being seemingly killed in battle. This may be the first time Psylocke has appeared in any medium aside from the comics and videogames, which is amazing given that she's quite a popular character. What her exact role is in the film is still unknown.
Psylocke will be played by Meiling Melancon (pictured above), a Philippine-born actress whose sole notable prior acting appearance was in the film Rush Hour 2, as the 'girl in car'.

Looking at that pic, I'm certainly looking to see her in action. Hmmm. The X-movies seem to have a penchant for evil Asian girls. I hope she doesn't bite it like Deathstrike did. Wait for X3 by mid 2006.
Sword of Gideon

One of the films I am looking forward to seeing is Steven Spielberg's latest and probably most controversial film. Munich is a thriller based on the events following the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics. In retaliation for this atrocity, the Israeli government sends a squad of assassins to take out the 11 Palestinians said to be responsible for the massacre. Aside from meticulous recreation of the Mossad's assassinations, this also delves into the personal cost and toll this mission takes on the men who carried it out.

I'm very curious about this movie- already shown in the US but still pretty much unknown here (which is odd given that it's from such a well-known director like Steven Spielberg). It's supposed to be 3 hours long and doesn't hold back on the violence- something that may cause it to be censored (though Schindler's List got through without cuts only after some controversy). It's also been lauded for not being partial to either the Israeli or Palestinian side.

The cast is pretty strong: Eric Bana, who has starred in some high profile movies (Hulk, Troy, Blackhawk Down) and always performs admirably in every role, plays the leader of the Mossad squad. Supporting him are Geoffrey Rush (Casanova Frankenstein in Mystery Men, Barbarossa in Pirates of the Carribean), Ciaran Hinds (Caesar in HBO's Rome) and Daniel Craig (the Next James Bond, Tomb Raider). Also appearing is Michael Lonsdale, whom Bond enthusiasts may remember as Hugo Drax in Moonraker.

I'm scouring the DVD shelves for this one. Who knows, it may just pop up before the inevitable (and hopefully not long from now) local theatrical release.

Tuesday, January 3


Kunoichi Boy #1 is now available at Comic Quest Megamall. This is basically a reprint of the issue that debuted at last year's Komikon, but now with an added foreword and afterword. The 32-page story relates the first meeting between travelling artist/ninja crossdresser Jin Dragu and brawling babe Mikoto in the feudal Japan-esque fantasy land of Tao.
Mixing elements of Ranma 1/2, Inu Yasha and Ninja Scroll, Kunoichi Boy is a fantasy/action/comedy series that I'll be working on producing and releasing throughout 2006. Check it out!

Kunoichi Boy #1 is 32 pages, B/W, Php40.00 at Comic Quest Megamall.

Sunday, January 1

Baking Anime

Kazuma and his passion for bread star in Yakitake! Japan.

Now I've seen everything. Surely, after seeing Yakitake! Japan it's pretty much definite that the Japanese can make an anime out of ANYTHING.

Yakitake! Japan is a series about baking bread. BREAD. How mundane is that? Well, apparently not mundane at all, given how passionate and driven the characters are about kneading, baking and producing the Holy Grail of dough-based products. The series is all about young Kazuma Asuma, who as a young boy growing up in Japan was inspired to love bread while he was a kid by his older sister and a friendly neighborhood Frrench-trained baker. The baker instills in Kazuma the belief that Japan, like many other countries in the world, deserves its own national bread. At that young age, Kazuma also discovers that he has the almost legendary 'Solar Hands'- supernaturally warm and strong hands that can produce the finest and most delicious of breads.
So, ten years after that first meeting, Kazuma goes to Tokyo to start his quest for Japan's national bread. Along the way, he'll have to compete in various baking competitions, meet rivals, make allies and friends and do a lot of kneading before he reaches his goal.

Yakitake is certainly very similar to series like Cooking Master Boy and Grander Musashi, titles which take otherwise boring or unexciting professions and inject into them over-the-top anime flavor to make them more acceptable to wider audiences.
This involves always having a young, good-looking lead with incredible talents, give him cartoony rivals and enemies of varying levels of antagonism (from friendly competition to megalomaniacal psychos) and make the products of the profession (in this case, the bread) be delicious to the point of delirium. As in Cooking Master Boy, eating bread made by Kazuma seems to induce hallucinations and visions of pleasure... you'll wonder what kind of weed he's using in his baking. Brownies, anyone? Along with reactions to bread that border on orgasmic, the series also inserts real facts about baking and breadmaking which are strangely interesting, though probably not very useful unless you find yourself hankering to bake your own pandesal sometime.

Despite the cookie-cutter (heheh) template tendency, it's hard not to enjoy the good-natured and hilarious premise of this series. I have to admit, this is a bit more particular than Cooking Master Boy was (which I really enjoyed), but I certainly find it quite watchable, if not thoroughly entertaining. This is probably not surprising given that I AM a bread lover myself.

I'll probably try and get me some VCDs of Yakitake! Japan if I get the chance, despite the HERO channel dub being quite good (I've really gotten used to tagalog anime, unfortunately), if only because I can't wait to see the episodes. Fortunately, the series has been out for a while, so it's readily available in most anime shops in the Metro.

I recommend watching Yakitake! Japan with a big bag of freshly-baked goodies from Bread Talk and a cold glass of soda. Enjoy!

It's yet another year forward! MY GOSH! Where did the time go?!

The family spent the eve of the dawning of 2006 together in the homestead, feasting on Mom's Best Spaghetti and embutido on hot, toasted pandesal. Simple but satisfying to the extreme. Afterwards, the kids stormed into The Sanctum for some PS2-powered WWE Wrestling. Whether it's because our time together is now limited or whatever, this was probably the longest time the extended families spent together on a New Year or weekend... it was well past 1 am before everyone called it a night and retired for the New Day of the New Year.

Darn. I'm gonna miss this. Hopefully next year won't be at all lonely. Somehow, someway.

Greetings to all out there who made it into 2006 in one piece! My best wishes to all of you out there: My friends in the Comic Quest gang: Vinnie, Dean, Nikki, Andrew, El, Camy, Dino, Alex, Kate, Charles and Ralph. Also greeting our comic compatriots: Carl, Budjette, Arn and Cyn, Gerry, Wilson, Jennyson, Jeremy, the members of Team K.I.A., Project Hero and Siglo.

Best wishes as well to my fellow slaves at The Salt Mines. Yet another year of hard mining! Woohoo!

Special greetings to the more-or-less regulars here on STARK RAVING MAD... Sheila, Ferres, Ran, Zemzelett and all the rest of ya. Thanks for tagging or commenting in every now and then.

I'm looking forward to another year of cool gadgets, exciting movies, good eating, lots of laughs, comics-making and whatever surprises fate has placed in store for me.

Looking forward to releasing Kunoichi Boy issues every so often. Number 1 is in the can and should be in Comic Quest this week. Issue number two is in progress.

The Last Angel Ace Story is still in development. I want it to matter. I'm sitting on this until it's right. Hopefully it'll be out within 2006. We'll see.

The New Year is upon us. I hope all of you guys came into it with all digits intact. God Bless You all!