Saturday, January 27, 2007

Understanding Your Future Masters: Excel Saga Overview Part 5

Table of Contents
Introduction & Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Excel Saga Wikipedia

Hmm… solo Egala pix are so hard to find online.

Volume 10
Mission 1: Excel and Hyatt continue their declaration of conquest. This time visiting a department store. The find it dead inside and rally up the employees in the name of Il Palazzo. The employees remark that their closing because of the recession Japan is in and soon believe Excel and Hyatt are from corporate there to liven their spirits for a big last day sale. They are interrupted when the Daitenzin, a power ranger looking task force of Kabapu(names from Rikdo earlier work) shows up like they(er, Iwata at least) did at the end of volume 9. Iwata takes things to far trying to zap the fleeing Across girls and blowing up the store.



Mission 2: Egala returns to join Excel and Hyatt for lunch. Excel brings her up to date with the campaign as well as the mysterious power ranger-like people who show up to cause them problems. Egala talks about fighting back and mentions she’s good with a sword to the shock of Excel, who pretty much thinks of Egala as useless. Egala also recalls hearing, from Il Palazzo, that Hyatt was an excellent sharpshooter. In a moment of self-doubt Excel exclaims: "See, El and Ha-Chan are your basic military type. One look at their brutal faces tell you they know first hand the ruthless ways of war! I, on the other hand, am more your civilian, secretary of defense type. Planner! All-around player! Big shot!”

Elsewhere Iwata and Watanabe are working on the weekend, get a glimpse of Kabapu’s attempt at having his own uniform like his subordinates, just not of the same style. Ridiculous sci-fi space b-movie villain type.

Back to the main story has all three girls at HQ and Il reprimands Excel for not being aware of her juniors (she is, after all, Senior Excel) skills. Briefly talk about Daiteenzin needing to be eliminated and Il mentions “he” making a mistake, no doubt speaking of Kabapu. Also they comment on Excels attributes like wisdom(?), courage, and great climber(reference to being able to get out of Il’s pits). Yet, Excel doesn’t believe those are her qualities and its easy to see she feels less then adequate in her group.

Mission 3: Excel leaves. This leaves Egala to have to deal with Hyatts accidental attempts at death. First time is a bit shocking , including an assumption that Excel did this as she is yet unaware of her senior leaving, but starts to get the hang of it. Watanabe drops by unannounced at Sumiyoshis and finds a crying young girl with Sumiyoshi. Worst case scenario goes through his head until he finds out that’s Sumiyoshi’s sister , enter Iwata dropping by and the two being shocked at how she looks nothing like her brother. If you’ve seen the pictures I’ve laid, Sumiyoshis the rounder of the three, with the glasses and that unflinching grimace. Here. The trio, Matsuya drops by to return a game, meet the family. The father has more similarities to his daughter then his son but all three speak in the manga the same way-outside balloons or captions. This of course to show partly their regions dialect, that and the way the translators do the wording of their sentences. The mother however looks like Sumiyoshi but speaks in word balloons. Excel returns to the city week later after some training but before she returns home she overhears Egala and Hyatt doing very much fine without her so Excel decides not to return.



Mission 4: Shiouji asks for a picture of Sumiyoshis sister, which scares Sumiyoshi sense he was trying to keep his sister a secret. Especially knowing Shiouji has a fondness for the beauty of young girls. He explains he can monitor from Iwatas head. If you missed earlier summaries, Iwata is now a cyborg. Sumniyoshi agrees before going off to meet Kabapu whose summoned his staff. Excel wanders the streets of Fukuoka trying to regain her confidence. Excel passes by a store where the TV in the window briefly shows a clip of Hyatt. Excel recognizes she’s at the soccer stadium and probably continuing their propaganda attacks, declaring Across the rulers of the city. She talks herself to going to the stadium and helping out. There, she finds Iwata-Ranger attacking Hyatt while Egala was in the control room broadcasting her. Excel shows up in time to rescue Hyatt and once again turns crowd against Iwata(much like mission 5 of volume 9. Iwata blows up the stadium lights and they fall onto him. Iwata’s teammates are not present with him.

Kabapu: Why didn’t the rest of you go into action?

Watanabe: Didn’t you watch what happened?

Matsuya: Have you ever seen the thugs and yobos that go to soccer games?

At Across HQ Il Palazzo praises Excel for showing up when she did-before he reprimands her for absence without leave.

Mission 5: Watanabe celebrates Hyatt(or Ms. Chigusa Ayasugi to him) saying hello to him by his name by inviting Iwata and Sumiyoshi over for drinks. He drops of some sake to Hyatt and her roommates who also get drunk. Excel admits she hasn’t drank sense working construction jobs and Egala mentions she use to work as a waitress at one time. Secretly Egala is trying to get Excel drunk so she can see how she acts, or to watch her collapse. Hyatt handles her alcohol like a pro while Egala starts getting weird, trying to cook Mince and then grabbing on Excel. Eventually Excel passes out with Egala barely staying up as Hyatt just sort of watches. The next morning the three find out most their money is gone.

Bonus Mission: Normally I don’t say anything because they are not cannon(continuity if you will) but it was a fun school story of Excel and Egala done up to pass off as foreign exchange students and set on a bunch of athletic competitions for school because Americans are naturally better athletes(Rikdo’s sarcasm). Funny little story.



Volume 11
Mission 1: In a drunken stupor, Egala went to the apartments ATM and took the money. She denies it but all the clues are there, her shoes awry by the door, security video at the ATM(called apartment owner, call went to Kabapu’s secretary Momochi, and gave description). Eventually Egala, believing at first it was a dream, tells what happened. She took the money and wandered into a restaurant about to close. They gave her a free meal and she left the money accidentally. They thought it was a tip-reopened store and became a chain. So some people had a happily ever after. Remember, this is the big sum Il left them with-around 9 million yen now gone.

Mission 2: Watanabe needs money. Excel is extremely tired as she’s been working every part time job she can get. During a special evaluation Watanabe explains why he’s been so desperate for money. Asking co-workers for loans and selling his(and Sumiyoshis) furniture and appliances. Watanabe explains he’s trying to help his neighbor Upon hearing this, Kabapu is touched and says he’ll help. Deducting money from his checks to payback his help. He then deposits 10 Million yen into Hyatt and companies account to the shock of Watanabe. Hyatt says she’ll try paying him back.



Mission 3: Matsuya and Iwata are trapped in a cave, victims of a harsh blizzard. The two were meant to rendezvous with staff at a certain location but now are stuck together with Matsuya having a broken leg and Iwata slowly losing energy. Matsuya keeps speaking so she can keep from falling onto a deep slumber. She reminisces about their time working together and when the met in college. Iwata eventually loses power and Matsuya starts opening up, knowing his not listening, about how he is generally an okay person. Also talks about trying to make chocolate for him but couldn’t so she bought Pockeys which happened way abck in Volume 5 Mission 2. Iwata and Matsuya are founded out by Shiouji and Ropponmatsu II. When Matsuya comes through she finds out Shiouji heard everything she said-and now she wants him to erase those from his head.

Mission 4: The story of how Egala was working on a fishing ship, got shipwrecked, survived traps and savages to retrieve a buried treasure. Only to come home with the one brick she could take. Excel doesn’t believe her story. Hyatt apparently has a plan to fence said gold. Back at Across HQ Egala is reprimanded.

Mission 5: Watanabe mopes in his home but soon finds some old lotto tickets. Looking to find out if they were winners Ropponmatsu II informs him that one indeed is. He tries redeeming them but transportation and communication problems lead him to despair some more.



Mission 6: Its morning in the across household and as the begin their day it becomes apparent that Egala has gained some weight as she can’t fit into her regular clothes. This leads into the trio discussing possible new uniforms. They talk about the pros and cons of weight, color, mobility and disguise. Discussing masks and helmets Egala has very valid point: “See, the problem with a helmet is that it’s just not cute. Because the most important thing for me… is to look gorgeous!”

They debate dressing in a similar fashion to lord Il palazzo but abandon that notion. They also discuss how their current uniforms were provided to them and wonder about what they do not know about the Across organization.

Mission 7: The Department of Environmental Security is sent out in the heavy rain to rescue a little girl trapped in a car that’s down in the flooded channel. The team send Ropponmatsu I to serve as the rescuer. She retrieves the girl but afterwards gets swept away. The normal rescue team is worried but Ropponmatsus co-workers tell him not to worry and for their team to just go home. During which Iwata is swept away trying foolishly to rescue Roppon(let’s call her One-chan from now on). They decide to leave the retrieval to Prof. Shiouji. As Watanabe says, “Well, it’s like I told you on the way over here, never send a bunch of file clerks to do a mad scientists job.”

Several days later Iwata and Ropponamatsu II(Second-chan) are out and about and run into a building fire. Iwata and Second-chan to the rescue the two waitress’ stuck inside, who incidentally are Excel and Hyatt(keeping the tem million yen in reserve so no future screw ups). Iwata tosses second-chan in to do the job.

Iwata: You see I, or at least certain small, grey bits of me, are a living thing! And life is infinitely precious!

Second-Chan: But, gee, Iwata, it sure looks hot in there.

Iwata: you on the other hand, are a soulless, short skirted, disposable automation!

Second-Chan: Wow! Is this what it means to be human?

Not that their help does anything because excel and Hyatt escape through an air duct and Iwata has to go in and retrieve Second-Chan anyway. Egala returns home to see Hyatt charred, then suddenly up and about shedding the charred remains.

Mission 8: Shiouji objects to how the Ropponmatsu units are being used. Having each body perform a dangerous task that that the other unit is required to do. Kabapu wants him to create a third body that can do both units respective tasks and Shiouji sarcastically writes off Kabapu’s request. At Across HQ Excel tries bringing up Hyatts ability to revive but Il Palazzo disregards the question and inquires about the recent fire at the location Excel and Hyatt were working. He praises her because the building had faulty disaster control and emergency systems. Talks about how steps are being made by other buildings to insure nothing similar happens and how it can save lives in the future. Excel is flustered with a mix of surprise, joy, and validation. Egala wants them to go and do some more arson so she could get a little praise.

Excel: Thinking long term, it may be better for the city if we did in fact raze as many of these structures as possible… After all, these are building we won’t need…

Hyatt: this must be what they call “urban renewal,” Senior.

Egala: Right! Let’s get out there and start leveling!

The arson begins. One building, then a bridge over a channel that’s set off by C4(which excel is confused to hear Egala found at the base). They follow with another building, but Excel and Egala get caught in the explosion as they’re stuck inside setting charges and the timer detonates. They barely survive. Kabapu takes an interest in these attacks, though they were all at locations set for demolition anyway.


Continued

Thursday, January 25, 2007

So What's Going On in Entertainment?

Comics-DC releases big teaser image and I really don't care, though nice Phil Jimenez art. DC also made a hoopla cancelling the Boys by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. Not being a purchaser of said comic I have no feelings on the subject. Marvel comics brought back Captain Marvel, but seriously, there's one Captain Marvel and he's at DC comics. There was an X-Men summit for the writers of all the titles, except the flagship book Astonishing. Thus, more of me not really caring. However rumors are slipping of something happening with Rogue and I swear I will be pissed of fif they kill her. ... What am I kididng she'll be back alive in a year if they do that.

Music-Music sucks, but new Skinny Puppy out soon and word of a new Nine Inch Nails CD has me psyched. Also KMFDM and Marliyn Manson but no real excitement really for those. I'll look into them though.

TV-I'm watching for primetime TV. Ugly Betty is pretty good and it was nice to see the show rewarded at the Golden Globes, then again, its nice to see ethnic groups win anything at award shows. I'm watching Scrubs but... I don't know... it doesn't have the same spark as the past seasons thus far. 30 Rock is fun with a great cast, Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan and others. Heroes is good, though I'm not as into it as others are. Cartoon Network continues to spiral down in quality.

Movies-Academy Awards announced and I really wasn't paying attention. Congrats on the wonderful Little Miss Sunshine being nominated for best picture. As for whats coming out, Smoking Aces looks like fun. Lots of big sequels this year, so far the ony one I looking forward to Pirates of the Carribean 3 and Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix. Some other stuff looks good. Honestly, I'm expecting a better year for movies in the terms of things I'll probably see, but about the same in quality as crappy last year.

Is there anything else? Let me know.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wrestling DVD Review: Ring of Honor-Dethroned

Dethroned-Edison, NJ 11.25.06 ***

Ring of Honor has begun releasing the last 6 DVDs of 2006 shows, I picked this one up.

*-Poor. Nothing worth seeing.
**-Solid. Some good stuff, some bad.
***-Good. All around fine match but with little to no spark.
****-Great. Everything clicked.
*****-Amazing. Running high on all cylinders.

Brent Albright vs. El Generico **½
The generic luchador El Generico makes his "return" to Ring of Honor after a few years and even then he only did a handful of shows. His opponent formerly WWEs Gunner Scott, Brent Albright. Pretty straight forward match. Generico with some basic luche libre style moves, nothing fancy but it says it in his name. Just a fun wrestler. Albright is a monster. Though he looked relatively normal sized in WWE, in ROH he's one of the biggest athletes and fights a very hard hitting style of strikes and suplexes. Match was pretty short with Albright hitting the german suplex/half nelson suplex combo and going into the fujiwara armbar. Couple of slow spots where Albright looked confused, but I'm assuming its just Albright getting use to working with a wrestler he had no familiarity with.

Skipped Hagadorn vs. Dempsey

Delirious vs. Jason Blade **½
Delirious is just entertaining. His incoherent speech pattern, ring presence, and surprising skill make him a fun wrestler to watch and here's taking on another "returning" wrestler looking for a full time spot in Jason Blade. Blades solid, some nice high flying moves but doesn't have it in my opinion. He tries some interesting things like a weird "reverse swinging" powerslam or rolling belly to back suplexes but just doesn't seem to really do much for me. Delirious had fun, had a camel clutch and was pulling on the face or mouth, when the ref would count he would release and count "4!" loudly. Delirious pulls out a submission victory and Delirious tries to make Blade look like a threat but I don't feel it. All in all, about equatable to a solid WWE TV match.



Jimmy Jacobs vs. BJ Whitmer ***½
Not really a match as the ref gets thrown out early on for this fight between former tag champions turned rivals. Whitmer a heavyweight dwarfs the much smaller Jimmy Jacobs but it was a good fight with some nice spots. Including a flying hurricarana off the guardrail by Jimmy, BJ with overhead exploder suplex on steel ramp or powerbombing Jacobs back first over the steel guardrail. The match gets real twisted when Jacobs takes a railroad spike and starts stabbing Whitmer who trades the favor. The two also strike the ref as he tries returning and putting order into the fight. Nice reverse hurricarana by Jacobs with Whitmer bouncing up and hitting him with the lariat spot. Its cool to see Jacobs at 5'7 and 170 pounds try going strike for strike the 6'1 232 Whitmer. The ending comes as Jacobs manager Lacey is in the ring, berating the two and Daizee Haze coming out and chasing her off. Then officials stopping the match.

Roderick Strong(c) vs. Shingo-FIP Heavyweight Title **½
Been hearing bad things about Shingo, or mixed reviews and I think he's fine in this match against the hard hitting Roderick Strong. Shingos style comes off as a WWE heavyweight adjusted to the Japanese puroresu style. Hits lariats and powerbombs and has a good heel ring attitude. he's a ways off from being all put together as sometimes he seemed off. Strong does his usual stick, blistering chops and his grouping of powermoves. The match wasn't spectacular but fun. The tiger driver on the chair for the win.

Kings of Wrestling(c) vs. "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels & Matt Sydal-ROH World Tag Titles***
This was a solid match. It started off with the Kings(Chris Hero and Double C Claudio Castagnoli) playing the annoying, cowardly heels. Nice piece in the beginning where Daniels slaps Hero and does Hero and Claudios signature poses as insult. The match starts with the challengers working over one half of the champs and making them look ineffectual and then the champs taking Daniels. Eventually Daniels makes the hot tag to Sydal who goes super high flyer. The match breaks down and we get some high flying to the floor and big moves to one another. Sydal does a neat move where he stands on Claudios shoulders after Double C attempts a powerbomb, then comes down with the DDT. He also reverses the KOWs finisher into a nice hurricarana hold and gets his team the win. Pretty good match that built some good heat but felt it ended too early, right as things begin to really get under way.

The thing about the Kings are there a love them or hate them team. both employ versions of the European style(catch, counter, chain wrestling), their tag team moves seem too complex at times, and they use a lot of stalling and cowardly heel work. Seeing them in Chikara shows me they are also playing a different version of KOW in Ring of Honor so this doesn't exactly showcase what they could do. I have two problems with this match really, 1)Daniels and Sydal don't feel like a tag team to me. Ironically each man had a successful tag team with AJ Styles. 2)The styles of these two teams don't seem to click. Still, good, solid match.

Nigel McGuiness vs. Jimmy Rave ***½
I've always liked Rave and right here he reinvents himself a second time. First he went from being a mat wrestler/high flyer to being the cowardly heel and now he attempts to go to being a serious in ring threat in the wake of his stable, the Embassy, falling apart. McGuiness is on a roll now. Just an imposing wrestler who actually relies on his strikes and European style rather then do any sort of powermoves. The first one on one of these two and Rave does good in trying to keep up on the mat against the better wrestler. He does a few little things that really show the differences between the two. Where as you'd knock Rave down he'd escape away, here he nips up and looks over to McGuiness. McGuiness uses his usual strategy of working the arm including this odd submission here he locks an arm in his legs then takes the other arm behind himself and bridges back onto it. Rave holds his own going with some strikes and a handful of powermoves. Rave does a nice STO takedown on the apron, McGuiness pulls out a variation of his pendulum lariat when Rave tries throwing him inside the ring, McGuinness off the bottom two ropes and nails Rave hard. Good heat and McGuiness wins with the real pendulum lariat.

Afterwards McGuiness puts Rave over and then tries having fun with him throwing toilet paper(reference to Raves Embassy days) this snaps Rave who smacks him. Chris Daniels tries breaking it up with rave leaving the building and McGuiness wanting some more of Rave.

Davey Richards vs. Austen Aries ***½
A rematch of sorts as Aries pinned Richards in both a singles and tag encounter. The best one on one affair of the show has Aries making Richards look like a fool partly in the beginning by mimicking some of Richards standards or avoiding them entirely. Richards does the same a few times but doesn't have that ability to capture the same kind of disrespect Aries had. Richards works over the arm pretty well as Austen Aries fights back with some of his high flying moves and hard strikes. Richards is being built up as one of ROHs premiere strikers but Aries is just as good when he's trying. There was nothing too fancy here other then two men trying to show one another up and being in general a heated match. Mad Richards won, I just can't find myself liking that guy.



Samoa Joe & Homicide vs. Jay & Mark Briscoes-Falls Count Anywhere Elimination ***
Really this match was mostly a brawl with some nice spots. they fought in the crowd and there was a fun bit where Joe donned a hockey helmet and stick(the arena was a hockey stadium) and Homicide throws Jay into Joe how slams him into the wall. Then puts a chair over Jays lower region, hits it with the stick. The highlight move would be Marks insane shooting star press of the lighting system onto Joe. Some other spots was Homicide suing his managers cigar to burn Marks arm and both Joe and Cide hitting their respective moves to eliminate the Briscoes at the same time.

My nitpicking was the lack of heat from the fans. They weren't disrespectful but usually more quiet. A good audience can elevate a match and that didn't happen here. Overall a fine show and I'm glad I ordered as I haven't seen new ROH in almost a month and the last DVD I got had only one match I really liked and the others were probably not over **½ for me. Chicago Spectacular night 1 and night 2 are next up which I'll get. Then the final two shows, for which I will get final Battle 2006 which sounded like an awesome show all the way through.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Comix of 2006

Best Writer/Best Artist: Ross Campbell
Why?: I thought about Grant Morrison. I've bought everything he's done in 2006 and enjoyed the bulk of it, especially Seven Soldiers and All Star Superman. Also considered JH Williams III for kicking much behind on Desolation Jones, Seven Soldiers #1, and his issue of detective Comics. All which show his range and versatility as an artist. But ultimately I went with Ross Campbell for both categories for his awesome OGNs Abandoned and Wet moon vol. 2. I'm not into zombies but Abandoned was beautiful looking and very engaging read. Wet Moon 2: Unseen Feet was just one of those titles I had to reread more than twice. The mans got talent. Lots of it.

Best Cover Artist: JG Jones
Why?: Hmmm... here's a reason. Two of 34 covers from 52 he did in 2006.



Best Single Issue: All Star Superman #3
Why?: From the iconic cover, into a jam packed single issue featuring a Lois Lane with super powers spending the day with Superman and watching as a couple of super tough men vie for her attention against the Man of Steel. Plus wonderful Frank Quitely art including a single page scene with Superman and Lois on the moon that's gorgeous.

Best Finite/Mini Series: 52
Why?: Well, there were some good minis starting/ending in 2006. The ones I truly remember at least. Especially Seven Soldiers of Victory which I analyzed, spoke about, praised and love but at the time of this article 37 issues of 52 have come out. Committing to a weekly comic is, well, a commitment but I love this series. yeah, some issues are great, others pretty dull, and most in between but 52 is always one of the first comics I read every week and that accounts for something.



Best Story Arc: Parental Guidance-Runaways/Up Up & Away-Superman & Action Comics
Why?: I chose a tie on two extremely well done story arcs. Runaways continues to be my favorite Marvel comic and this arc by the book creators was definitely thrilling and eventually tragic. A new pride has emerged to resurrect Alex Wilder from the grave and eliminate our lovely team of Runaways. Alphona's art was the strongest here. On the other side the best of DCs One Year Later stories was this 8 issue arc crossing into two books about Clark Kent getting his powers back and returning to the costumed life. Sounds pretty typical but it was very fun, light hearted and action packed. Fell good superhero comic.

Best New Series: Checkmate
Why?: Because Greg Rucka's a good writer, Jesus Saiz is a great artist, and a book about counter intelligence agencies isn't exactly my bag. However I've been entertained monthly by this well paced, action packed book with high drama. The series is getting better and better with every passing issue and that's what makes me think it was the best new series of 2006.

Best Series: All Star Superman
Why?: For a book with only 4 issues published in 2006, one before this entry, I have to say is worth the wait. Every issue Grant Morrison packs a punch. Superman and Lois Lane together in the Fortress of solitude on her birthday may seem light, but the issue has so many moments. as does the previously mentioned issue 3, the Jimmy Olson focused issue 4, the Clark Kent/Lex Luther in prison issue #5 and the recent issue 6 which is already a front runner for single issue of 2007. Adding to Morrison's soon-to-be-classic stories is the exceptional artwork of Frank Quitely. The man is awesome.

Best Original Graphic Novel: Wet Moon Vol. 2: Unseen Feet
Why?: I'm sure the critics will sight a pair of Vertigo OGNs like Pride of Baghdad or Fables: 1001 Nights of snowfall and they're both good but for my money here's the OGN I read more then any of those other books. Looking forward to vol. 3 in the end of 2007 and his new MINX OGN in 2007 as well. Seems his MINX book will have some relation to Wet Moon, getting around his DC contract, smart man...

Best Black & White Reprint: Showcase Presents House of Mystery vol. 1
Why?: DC and Marvel release those huge phonebook reprints and I love 'em. Cheap and plenty of goodness. of the ones I read, House of Mystery stands tall. An anthology book from the 50s(or 60s) featuring a ton of amazing artists like Neal Adams, Lee Elais, Alex Toth and more. plus various comic writers. It's the kind of book that has hidden goodies and I can't wait for vol. 2 in a few months.


Best Collected Edition: Absolute New Frontier
Why?: Big thanks to David Bird for sending me this incredible book. I had the two volumes but they are dwarfed by this colossal thing. Featuring an uncut story, lots of extras, and oevr sized format. Seriously, the story it self is worth the price alone. Darwyn Cooke reimagines the birth of the silver age of DC superheroes. Superman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and more. The artwork is breath taking. I've made a note to try and buy more of these in 2007, first up New Gods collection.

Moment of 2006: Spider-Man Unmasked in Civil War
Why?: Because it's the most talked about moment of 2006. Though Spidey is officially a dumbass now.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ring of Honor in Japan




Congratulations to independent promotion Ring of Honor for continuing to grow and go from being the top American independent promotion to an internationally recognized promotion. Last year the company trekked over the oceans to England for two nights of sell out shows, around 2000 people which was their largest audience. In March they will be making another trip to the UK while in the summer the promotion will be debuting in Japan with two shows, one sponsored by Pro-Wrestling NOAH and the other Dragon Gate.

For non wrestling fans this may not be a big deal but you should know that it is rare for a promotion to ever travel outside it's home country except WWE and now TNA. Even top international promotions like CMLL in Mexico or New Japan stay home. Even if these Japanese shows are going to feature Japanese talent and be helped, financially, they are still Ring of Honor shows.

Also, Morishima is coming to the states. I've only caught one of his matches but I look forward to him fighting Joe and Homicide. Though I wonder how Homicide is going to stand up to a wrestler much larger then him. We'll see.

Friday, January 19, 2007

RIP Bam Bam Bigelow



Bam Bam Bigelow, one of the most accomplsihed wrestlers in the US having worked for the Big 3 as well as Japan and across the indy scene was found dead earlier this morning in his home. I grew up on his work and remember watching his match in the King of the Ring finals against Bret Hart back in 1993 as well as his feud with Doink the Clown and Lawerance Taylor. I enjoyed his work in ECW and was happy with what I saw of him in WCW. Bam Bam was a great wrestler.

RIP Beast from the East.



Thursday, January 18, 2007

April 2007 Comix & Merchandise

Wish the indy companies would have a better way of showcasing their upcoming releases before Previews hits the stand because I don't normally buy Previews. So I'm just going to showcase what I think looks cool, what I wish I could get, etc. from DC, Marvel, Image, and Dark Horse. But that doesn't mean I'm showing everything I'm buying.

Dark Horse

THE ART OF BONE
JEFF SMITH (W/A)

I tried following the series back when I had no finances but was taken by how fun it was. Two years back got the one volume which was completely awesome. I won't be picking this up, at around 40 bucks, but I'm sure hardcore Bone fans will enjoy this. If you haven't tried bone I suggest going for the new colored reissues or finding One Volume which is around 60 dollars I believe. It's about these creatures called Bones who get run out of Boneville and lost in a mysterious valley, they get caught up in a great big adventure complete with dragons, monsters, and a princess.

That’s it from Dark Horse though my boy David Bird would point you to Blade of the Immortal as issue #124 hits stands as well as collection vol. 17. Also the second issue of Buffy season 8.


Image

FELL, VOL. 1: FERAL CITY TP
story WARREN ELLIS
art & cover BEN TEMPLESMITH

So I'm not a Warren Ellis fan, the guy still does some interesting things. i mean, you read his work and it just stands out from a lot of the rest for being smarter and more dense then most other writers can produce and this series here has become quite popular amongst Images titles. Now... I don't like Ellis because he's a little too cynical and depressing at times for even me, though I admit to only reading a little of his work and I do think Nextwave is fun. So I might check this out on the stands. Depends on if I'll be able to work it into my budget. 12.99, not so bad.

It collects issues 1-8 and, because I can't figure a way to reword this interestingly enough: Detective Richard Fell is transferred over the bridge from the big city to Snowtown, a feral district whose police investigations department numbers three and a half people (one detective has no legs). Dumped in this collapsing urban trashzone, Richard Fell is starting all over again. In a place where nothing seems to make any sense, Fell clings to the one thing he knows to be true: Everybody’s hiding something.

THE PIRATES OF CONEY ISLAND #7 (of 8)
story RICK SPEARS
art by VASILIS LOLOS

I've been ordering this on subscription from mail order comics and it's been a very fun read. It's about a runaway who ends up in Coney Island and hooks up with a local GTA gang called the pirates. They rob cars and pawn them and have problems with the girl gang the Cherries. The art is beautiful and I've liked Rick Spears Teenagers from Mars and Filler and this one is just as good, if not better. High recommendation on this one. Very high, check it out.

That’s all from Image that stands out for me. Except for the Robert Kirkman fans who'll see lots to love.


DC Comics & Imprints

THE PLAIN JANES
Written by Cecil Castellucci
Art and cover by Jim Rugg

The debut of the MINX line from DC aimed at female readers. The story is about Jane who moves from the big city to the suburbs and meets up with three other Janes and starts an art gang. Ugh... Jim Ruggs drawing? Sold. Jim Rugg drew the awesome Street Angel which is one of my favorite comics of all time. Cecil Castellucci is a novelist who will be helping to kick the line off.

Good luck to the crew and a big thumbs up to DC for this attempt at trying to create books to bring female readers in. Just try and do some promoting, will you? Please?

52: WEEKS 48-52
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Breakdowns by Keith Giffen
Art by various
Backup features by Waid and various
Covers by J.G. Jones

So, will it finish on time? We'll see as 52 ties down with comic fans already angry over this image suggesting a new female Question. me? I'm cool with it. We got
Darick Robertson, Eddy Barrows, Joe Bennett, and Justiniano guaranteed and that’s good. Haven't read much of Robertsons work but what I've seen looks nice and Justinano's Day of Vengeance art was killer. I hope Bennet draws the last issue as he did the first four himself. Also at the end of the month of May, three weeks after the advance solicited issue 52, the first trade will be released. 13 issues for 20 bucks.

THE ALL-NEW ATOM VOL. 1: MY LIFE IN MINIATURE TP
Written by Gail Simone
Art by John Byrne, Trevor Scott and others
Cover by Ariel Olivetti

Luckily DC advance solicits this stuff so maybe I'll be able to afford this on the stands when it comes out because I can't pre-order because of my budget(I'll explain when we hit the Marvel section). I like about half of what Gail Simone does and this one has gotten solid reviews.

Solicitation reads: Collecting the first 6 issues of the acclaimed new series! Meet Ryan Choi - the young hotshot professor filling the empty slot on Ivy University's teaching staff…and who inadvertently fills the role as the all-new super-heroic Atom!

CHECKMATE #13
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson
Cover by Matthew Clark & Art Thibert

I like Checkmate, I like Greg Rucka, and I like Joe Bennett-but I'm not buying Outsiders so this issue will be the first in several I'll be skipping.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #8
Written by Brad Meltzer
Art by Ed Benes & Sandra Hope
Cover by Michael Turner

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #5
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Dale Eaglesham & Art Thibert
Cover by Alex Ross

This crossover I can deal with because I'm buying both books. Justice League of America which I like and the Justice Society of America which I love will meet at the hands of Geoff Johns and controversial writer Brad Meltzer. I expect much violence, rape and retconning. No, I kid. But god knows I'm sure many comic fans do.

The crossover seems to revolve around a character named Trident. details are a bit sketchy but we get a Batman/Starman team up and a battle at the Fortress of Solitude. That’s enough information for me.

Oh, and the first hardcover for the new JLoA series gets released if you missed it. I find it to be quite entertaining but many critics disagree with me. Personally I think most are still upset with Identity Crisis and are letting that get to their heads.

MANHUNTER #30
Written by Mark Andreyko
Art by Javier Pina & Robin Riggs
Cover by Jesus Saiz & Pina

Disappointed I am. Seriously... hope Gail Simone continues using her in Birds of Prey. Lovely cover by Jesus Saiz who was the series original artist and then cover artist after he left. this would mark the second series finale cover he's done.

WONDER WOMAN

Lots of stuff from the Amazon princess as the first trade of the relaunch, Who Is Wonder Woman?, is released by TV writer Allen Heinberg and Terry Dodson. Issues 7 and 8 come out to get the book back on track. Written by novelist Jodi Picoult and former Wonder Woman artist Drew Johnson. Plus a new mini spinning out of events called Amazons Attack starts featuring the team of Will Pfeiffer and Pete Woods. Yes, I'm buying them all. Except the trade, I have the issues.

FABLES #60
Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Mark Buckingham & Steve Leialoha
Cover by James Jean

That's the problem when waiting for trade, you're going to be issues behind and I'm very interested in this issue which centers around Flycatcher, the one time frog-turned prince of classic fairly tale. Of course, my interest is partly due to the very depressing and almost tear inducing short story from the Fables graphic novel 1001 Nights of Snowfall.

THE OTHER SIDE TP
Written by Jason Aaron
Art and cover by Cameron Stewart

The solicitation reads:
A new volume collecting the hard-hitting, acclaimed miniseries examining life on opposing sides of the Vietnam War through the eyes of two young men: Bill Everette, an Alabama farm boy who's been drafted into the Marine Corps, and Vietnamese farmer Vo Dai, who enlists in the People's Army of Vietnam to fulfill his duty to his country. This volume features loads of behind-the-scenes extras, including an introduction by Captain Dale Dye.

Now, I have little to no interest in war stories and the writer is new to me, but this book has Cameron Stewart who was all kinds of awesome on Seven Soldiers: Guardian. Now, this book has also got some high praise on the net from fans and critics. At 12.99 I'm willing to pick this one up off the stands. i hope it lives up to all the good word of mouth.

There's much more in the solicits to make DC Johnny's happy except for the fact no Action Comics or Superman plus no information on all those much talked about Grant Morrison/Wildstorm projects. For shame DC, for shame.


Marvel Comics

LONERS #1 (of 6)
Written by C. B. CEBULSKI
Art by KARL MOLINE
Cover by JASON PEARSON

The group of C-listers that made their first appearance in the pages of Runaways gets a new mini series by a writer and artist I'm not too familiar with but hell, I'm going to try it out. Have to support Phil Urich, the greatest Green Goblin ever. the only details given is what was seen first time out in Runaways as a group of former superheroes deal with their lives in a self help group. I'm sure the series will have lots of action and won't be just scenes of Nighthawk crying his eyes out over Spider-Man neglecting him.

RUNAWAYS #25
Written by JOSS WHEDON
Penciled by MICHAEL RYAN
Cover by JO CHEN

All this talk about Runaways and guess what, Joss Whedon of Buffy and Firefly fame takes over for six issues. Along with a great artist in Michael Ryan. He sends the kids to NYC and, what the... looks like the cover presents some spoilers. But I won't share.

Also the third Hardcover gets released just in time to catch any of Whedon's fans up on the series if they had not checked it out before. Looks like I'm adding this to mail order so I can get 36% off and squeeze in...

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS VOL. 1 HC
Written by STAN LEE & STEVE DITKO
Penciled by STEVE DITKO with JACK KIRBY
Cover by JACK KIRBY & STEVE DITKO
Variant Painted Cover by ALEX ROSS


I split costs between LCS and mail order, this actually saves me around 50-100 bucks a month. Books like this are the reason.

Now don't get me wrong, Stan lee isn't a favorite writer of mine and Spider-Man is a character I'm "eh" about but I've always been interested in Steve Ditkos work. I've seen a little and liked it, plus the complete legendary run of a title for 100 bucks(just over 60 for me) sounds like a must have. I usually try to spend less then 75 on mail order a month, but with this, Runaways, and Plain Janes I think it'll be definitely over 100. But hey, I'm buying it.

There's lots of Spidey and Civil War stuff for those interested. Marvels being secretive with Capt., Iron man, and more so I can't comment. But then again Marvel=whatever for me.




Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Understanding Your Future Masters: Excel Saga Overview Part 4

Table of Contents
Introduction & Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Excel Saga Wikipedia

Volume 7

Mission 1: In Japan one of the biggest events is the season festivals where the Cherry Blossom trees are in full bloom. Very common to see this in manga and anime and here it is no exception. The department staff (consisting of Kabapu, Momochi, Iwata, Watanabe, Matsuya and Sumiyoshi) goes out to a picnic in the park during such a day. Excel and Hyatt are nearby selling Ramen noodles from a stand they "acquired"(stole). Iwata, from leaving the restroom runs into his cousin Dr. Iwata whose with many beautiful women. He injects his most hated cousin with a syringe of some drug. Back at the picnic Ropponmatsu I is sent out for more food after the staff eat through everything. There Roppon encounters Excel and Hyatt who she remembers from Vol. 6, Missions 6-7. Excel is deeply worried about Roppons survival after the particular explosion (where the cart she was carrying the then unconscious Roppon got lose and crashed into a building). But Roppon takes the food without further questioning of their health, as she remembers Hyatt having died, and leaves. Il Palazzo is in Across HQ monitoring Ropponmatsu. Also, Nurse Fukuya delivers Iwata back to his friends at the end we see that yet again she disciplined Dr. Iwata.

Mission 2: Mince is out on the town. In one scene she passes by an electronics shop where a TV in the sales mirror indicates that minces particular species is actually endangered and some were illegally smuggled into Japan. An award is offered and Mince becomes a target. She eventually gets grabbed by Excel and brought home.

Mission 3: Watanabe, Iwata, and Sumiyoshi are in Watanabe’s apartment eating their food. Sumiyoshi reveals why he never eats at his home: his complex computer system(s). He invites them into his small home where he shows them that he collects dating sims. We also learn that he leans out fighting games to Matsuya whose incredibly good at them. Soon a particular black out crashes his systems, crushing Sumi. Professor Shiouji drops by and explains what caused the power outage. Ropponmatsu’s restart sequence over heated the apartments power supply. He gives Sumiyoshi a new system and says he’ll try to salvage his lost data.

Mission 4: Excel looks to earn a big payday by entering a contest entitled Birdman by the Sea where people make gliders and try to glide as far out into the ocean as possible. The department is hired as staff so Kabapu and the whole group is there (except Ropponmatsu I, who is replaced with her second form). Shiouji’s mutant birdman to open the show gets gunned down by military personnel to the complete lack-of-horror of the audience. Roppon II goes the safety demonstration. Excel enters herself as well as Hyatt and Mince. Excel and Hyatt are wearing some disguises (wigs).

Mission 5: Hyatt out first with a pair of fans, freefalling to her death. Excel resuscitates her and prepares her glider, which eventually gets swept away by the wind. She chases it down before it gets crushed by a train on an abandoned track. Excel then focus’ on Mince with her glider, who goes the distance but because she’s an animal gets disqualified. Excel’s up next, in a quick flashback, the train personnel hand over a top secret experimental glider as a way to calm the then infuriated Excel. Excel flies the glider to victory but leaves with the large noncashable check instead of the real one. Poor girl.

Mission 6: New recruit? Il Palazzo sends Excel and Hyatt to an undisclosed location 9at least to us the reader) in the countryside to identify her. Excels response to this?

A NEW RECRUIT! It’s about increasing the number of personnel! About beefing up our military strength! It’s a policy of economic growth coupled with strong defense! Don’t you get it? Our lord is saying the two of us AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH!

A bit cut from an actual exchange but you get the point. Excel’s paranoia and fear of others becoming Il Palazzos favorite, or becoming more important to Across then herself, worries Excel so much.

The two make it to a countryside resort. They meet the manager a German woman who looks much like a character from Leiji Matsumoto Galaxy Express 999 series. She believes they’ve come to work and knows them as Eh-Chan and Ha-Chan. They meet Mu-Chan, who their intial reaction is that she must be the third member. Excel and Hyatt convince themselves this is a test or training exercise and work hard. Excel mainly, trying to compete with Mu-Chan. “Do you realize that by now I’ve managed to hold down almost a hundred different part-time jobs? How, indeed, can I allow a new recruit to be a better worker then me?” Excel works harder, doing most of Hyatts work, sometimes with her strapped to her back. Mrs. Manager takes Excel and Hyatt to meet the owner who is Mr. Owner from vol. 5, mission 1. He owned the snow resort cabin they briefly worked at.

Mission 7: Turns out Mr. Owner is from Bosnia as he states where he went after the explosion at the cabin. Turns out he sent Excel and Hyatt severance checks afterwards. History repeats it self as, just like that story, excels sent hunting. Yet again, finds Mince instead of game. Continuing déjà vu, Mr. Owner greets Mince and when the two are alone reminisces about the war in his home land and Antonio. In the basement, where Excel and Hyatt are returning the gun they find an old fighter airplane. Mince makes her way down to the basement, tripping the lantern Excel and Hyatt had brought down to illuminate their way. The fire spreads to some explosives and yet again Mr. Owners is destroyed. Hyatt, Excel, and Mince escape on the plane as Mrs. Manager and Mu-Chan return to see the hotel burnt down and Mr. Owner watching. Mu-Chan lost all her worldly possessions in the blaze.

Mission 8: Excel and Hyatt get free from some immigration feds who picked them up after their planed crashed in the ocean. This is after an auto accident resulting in the ambulance crashing trying to rush an intensive care patient (Hyatt) to the hospital. Kabapu gets a call as he over sees that department. He decides to have Momochi cover it up and discharge the current head for mental health reasons. Excel and Hyatt make their way home with excel commenting “Goriest ambulance escape since Silence of the Lambs.” Excel leaves Hyatt to try and find some clothes so they don’t stand out. While away Hyatt runs into Watanabe who helps her home. Also Matsuya finds Mince and returns her as well. After excel comes back, finds Hyatt missing, and looks around for her she returns home to find the pair. Back at HQ Il Palazzo gives excel a pit drop into a relaxing hot spring. Nice guy.



Volume 8
Mission 1: Excel and Hyatt enjoy a nice breakfast while we get a look inside how Hyatt thinks.

“Senior Excel is full of energy this morning. This omelet is yellow. My chopsticks are in my left hand and my rice bowl is in my right hand. One of our table legs is shorter than the others. It clatters as the table wobbles. I think this is cute. Oh, how wonderful today’s pickled plums taste. This makes me happy.”

Watanabe continues giving Hyatt free things in attempts to talk to her and get her to really notice him. Il Palazzo announces he’ll be gone for 48 hours. The two have a part time job at an electronics store as it works with Il Palazzos instructions on information economy. The team slogan is “don’t work to hard” or “sale to the person who looks loaded.” Hyatt’s impression of job translates to: “This job demonstrates how information gets blocked mid-way, and fails to reach those waiting at the end of the system.” In the end of today’s mission we hear more of Hyatts thoughts including her admiration for how reliable and hard working excel is and how she wishes she had the same kind of energy. Very fond of her senior.

Mission 2: Excel and Hyatt rush to HQ as Excel believes they are being followed. There they encounter Mu-Chan, who is indeed the new recruit. Her alias is Kasumi Munakata and her Across name is Egala. Unlike Il, Excel, and Hyatt Egala is named after a shopping center in the city of Fukuoka, where they are in fact trying to conquer first. Excel seems distraught by this but greets her. Turns out all three landed at the wrong meeting location but still met up. Back in vol. 7 mission 6-7. Excel’s hyperactive, Hyatts dies, so what is Egala’s recognizable trait? She speaks out her inner dialogue. She also becomes Excels pit buddy, though Egala has a harder time dealing with it then Excel does. Egala looks to be moving in soon with excel and Hyatt while Il, alone, uses his holo-computer and mentions how he has no memory of who he once was but knows his ultimate goal.

Mission 3: Excel awakens confused, seeing Egala nowhere and chalking it up to a bad dream. That is until HQ where they are reunited again to a mystified Excel. “Why is senior Excel staring at me like that? She’s making me very uneasy as I, Egala, do not swing that way.” Il gave Egala a separate task wand will occasionally do so without informing Excel or Hyatt about it or the details. Egala follows them to their home, meets Mince, and easily annoys Excel. Now the three have to adjust to living together in a small apartment. More of a loft really…

Mission 4: Iwata’s physical results come in and reveals he has cancer. Kabapu and Momochi are overheard talking about it as some of the workers over hear. Watanabe, Sumiyoshi, and Matsuya don’t tell him, as ordered) and work to be extremely nice to him. All the while Excel, Hyatt, and Egala are working at Rikidonalds. Excel comments on Egalas materialistic lifestyle and Egala doesn’t agree as Excel is extremely frugal in her spending. Watanabe, while talking to Iwata about his family, tells him that he has cancer and Iwata confronts the doctor who verifies that his physical came in. That he had colon cancer, as well as several different forms of cancer. Turns out his cousin, Dr. Iwata, wrote up the report so they disregard it.

Mission 5: IWATA IS DEAD! Turns out he did have colon cancer and the rest of the report was just his cousin jazzing it up. Egala goes out walking Mince to the wrath of excel who doesn’t want Mince to be lean, because she is the emergency food ration. At the job Watanabe, Sumiyoshi, Matsuya, and Ropponmatsu II find that Dr. Shiouji has put Iwatas brain into Ropponmatsus body, keeping him alive.

“Oh no, Iwata is definitely dead, in every legal sense. He is, however, survived by Iwata Mark II, whom, as you see, will greatly contribute to the tactical strength of this department,” Kabapu.

“FOR GOD’S SAKE, DOCTOR, IWATA MAY BE AN IDIOT BUT WHAT ABOUT HIS HUMAN RIGHTS?” Watanabe.

“He was fully entitled to them until yesterday. This is all covered on page 3476 of the employee handbook, you know.” Kabapu.

Mission 6: The operatives are greeted by Il Palazzo with funds of 10 Million yen for living expenses. As well as health insurance cards with alias. Excel is allowed to choose between three names, one of which included what could be her last name Klienwald. They attempted to withdraw money but because none had a bank seal or an ATM password they can’t. After fixing things with Il Palazzo they return home to find Mince fleeing the fire which has now engulfed their home.

Mission 7: Excel, Hyatt, Egala, and Mince are all in a cardboard box plotting what to do now that their home has been burnt down. This also marks the first Egala witness’ Hyatt’s death and is mortified by Excels reaction to it. Kabapu is on top of the situation offering his workers new homes in an apartment building. Obviously, some of his employees are suspicious and Matsuya asks him blatantly if he burnt down their homes. Turns out Iwata was the cause. After his employees leave Kabapu admits he had the apartment complex as investment property that was vacant. He also learns there was one other person living there though he had the apartment complex swept out. Seems excel found a way to wiggle out of being kicked out my marking the tenant, Hyatt to be precise, as dead. They decide to find her and put her under surveillance(!). The trio are camping out to no avail as they anger local wildlife and flee back to the city. Out in the park Hyatt is found by one of Kabapu’s workers and given keys and directions to her new home.

Mission 8: Flashback to how Iwata burnt down the apartments. Iwata was still adjusting to his temporary Ropponmatsu I body and accidentally tripped some machinery in “her” home setting off the fire. Got knocked out and the back up kicked in, operating the body while Iwata was unconscious. This leads to Roppon 2 trying to stop “her.”Turns out Kabapu was arranging for his employees to be moved out anyway, so he can monitor them better.

Volume 9
Opens with bonus mission, fantasy episode. I’m only doing the real story so I’m skipping this.

Mission 1: Excel and companions are amazed by their new home. Excel still believes in being frugal and wants to apply the same rules of their old home to this household, much to Egala’s dismay. They soon discover the others have moved in to. There’s also a brief segment where, after going to get some food, Excel loses the keys and they’re returned by Roppon II. There is one scene of serious note where Kabapu mentions to momochi of a friend he had a fallen out with, referencing Il Palazzo.

Mission 2: Egala is absent and Hyatt sicker then usual leaving Il Palazzo to take her to Across HQ Medical wing. This leaves excel alone for the day, for the first time in a while She wanders around bored while Egala is out infiltrating the Department of Environmental Security. Back at the apartments Sumiyoshi and Watanabe discuss a weird shed near their homes. Later in the same story Kabapu and Momochi are discussing it being listed for demolition. It was where research, unsuccessful, was taking place. They lost 9 Billion yen on it.

There is a scene where Hyatt is in a weird chamber, floating in water and Il watches in commenting that a genetic substrate implanted in her was flawed which lead to deterioration of Hyatt. Towards the end Hyatts rejuvenate to greet Excel, for a few seconds before yet again collapsing.

Mission 3: Very simple story with Watanabe, Sumiyoshi, and Matsuya all wondering about how Iwata is going to turn out as Prof. Shiouji is apparently still working on him. They ask Roppon II for some clues but doesn’t give any.

Mission 4: Several stories ago, Vol. 4 Mission 6, excel had a brief case of amnesia and though it worked out fine, the incident left Mince with a bump that caused her amnesia. Well, she’s bumped her head against the wall and has been stricken with painful memories of Excel and Hyatt. Knowing, that yet again, her purpose is as abck up food supply. Attempts escape only to run into Egala who Micne’s come to like. Upon Excel and Hyatt’s return home they find Mince hiding behind Egala in hear, confused on Minces recent attitude change.

Mission 5: This is a long one so bear with me.

“When this world ended in the past… It chose a new path. What happened to that path? Of those forces that are intervening… I would ask this question one more time. I would ask this world a question.”-Il Palazzo

Il Palazzo signifies it’s time for a declaration of conquest to the city. So Excel and Hyatt plot and plan as Egala decides not to join their scheme. While the members of the dept. are still awaiting the return of Iwata, soon to be android/cyborg. They flashback to Kabapu’s statements on him no longer being human and how, outside the office, he should be addressed as Mr. Mitsukoshi. Watanabe worries this will be all their fates. On their ay back to the office from lunch they past by Excel and Hyatt, both in their uniforms and wearing shades, Watanbe thinks he recognizes Hyatt in the crowd that the two are addressing but isn’t so sure and leaves. While they’re making their declaration the large crowd, are either ignoring them and moving on or are mildly interested. Somehow, up in his near by office Kabapu goes into some weird spasm.

“Across… Il Palazzo… I remember it… now!”-Kabapu

Kabapu escapes through a secret sci-fi corridor behind his desk leaving Momochi to carry out the PLAN (manual marked, left on the desk he flees) and cancel all his appointments for the day. While making his way through his weird corridor contacts Shiouji. A copter soon appears over the area and launches a coffin at the girls. Almost takes out excel but she’s too good to be done in by a projectile coffin. The crowd now invested, pay attention thinking they’re on TV. Excel switches costumes, as hers gets torn, to Egala’s, to continue their declaration. The coffin pops open and a power rangers like character emerges. “A FIGHTER FOR JUSTICE… HAS ARRIVED!”

Back in the offices Watanabe, Sumiyoshi, and get dropped from their office into a secret slide into a weird futuristic room wearing the outfits from Vol. 2 Mission 5, the skintight future wear. Kabapu points them to a monitor where the battles taking place. Out in the streets Excel battles the Justice Ranger. His laser gun has no effect on her as it hits her in the chest area, but when he tries it on himself there is a huge explosion. Excel turns the crowd, still thinking its television, against the masked ranger after he destroys public property testing the gun, and then accidentally shoots a neighboring building. The ranger reveals himself to by Iwata, whose calling for the doctors help. Kabapu, embarrassed, contacts Shiouji to retrieves Iwata and Momochi to create a cover up story. Excel and Hyatt return to HQ to speak to Il Palazzo about their encounter.


Continued

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pans Labyrinth



I saw Pans Labyrinth today, from the exceptional director Guillermo Del Toro, and have to say it was beautiful. Del Toro's foriegn films are sueprior to his excellent American films and I would say this is his masterpiece. Though I haven't yet seen Mimic of Kronos I could not imagine them to be as exquisite, touching, and moving as this film was. Better than any move I seen in 2006 and no doubt the best I'll see of 2007 I highly reccomend this movie.
"Pan's Labyrinth" is the story of a young girl who travels with her pregnant mother to live with her mother's new husband in a rural area up North in Spain, 1944, after Franco's victory. The girl lives in an imaginary world of her own creation and faces the real world with much chagrin. Post-war Fascist repression is at its height in rural Spain and the girl must come to terms with that through a fable of her own.

I'm not the biggest fan of fantasy films but growing up on fairy tales and classic Disney animated movies I've always enjoyed these storybook tales and to see a dark, graphic, yet wonderfully poetic fairy tale was truely astounding. Del Toro has that cinematic eye that most directors now don't have. The way the cameras move, the lighting and angles work, and how he plays with a moment. Much credit to the exceptional actors especially Ivana Baquero who was wonderful as the main character Ofelia.

See this movie.


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Top 10 for December 2006



10. Astonishing X-Men #19: Yeah, seems a lot of critics and some fans are being turned off by the series of late but I still quite enjoy it. Issue 19 gives a nice glimpse of the Breakworld, where Ord, is from. Also some very nice X-Men moments, especially with Colossus. there is a real neat cliffhanger that has me antsy for the next issue and that's what a good comic should do. However, the real star is John Cassaday whose put together probably the best looking issue of the series since it restarted. I don't care what anyone says, astonishing X-Men rocks.



9. DMZ #14: last months #6 drops to #9 but that isn't bad. This issue of DMZ is the second part of Public Works where undercover reporter Matty is working for the Trustwell organization, rebuilding part of Manhattan, and trying to get the scoop. This issue has him become more a part of the terrorist cell working to disrupt them from the inside. There's a brutal hostage scene and a downer of an ending. Or what looks to be a downer of the beginning of issue 15. Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli are definitely on top of their game with this book.



8. Welcome to Tranquility #1: Honestly, I haven't been feeling Gen 13, was one of the few not enjoying Secret Six, and just skipped All new Atom(maybe I'll try the trade) but damn it if Tranquility is a marvelous new series. About a retirement community for aging superheroes and adventurers where sheriff Lindo tries to keep everything safe in the relatively quiet community. Except the occasional airplane crashes, young snappy villains dropping by for trouble, or two former enemies renewing their rivalry over an apple tree. The ending is a definitely out from left field and the Neil Googe art is enjoyable. Check it out.



7. Manhunter #26: Back from the dead! Kate Spencer is now one of the top defense lawyers and is working her magic with Princess Diana as he stands trial, this time in the states, for the death of Max Lords. In return Diana has decided to help train Kate. That's the main storyline with B and C plots featuring Mark Shaw, Dylan Battles, and Cameron Stewart. Javier Pina with new inker Robin Riggs makes the book look its best since Jesus Saiz. Topped off with two covers, one from Arthur Adams and another from Phil Jimenez and you have another great Manhunter. BUY IT NOW!!!!!!



6. Checkmate #9: Greg Rucka and Jesus Saiz continue strong on the wonderful Checkmate series. Second part of Pawn 502 has the Black Queen Sasha Bordeux clashing with Sarge Steel of the DEOs Dept. of Metahuman Affiars which put one of their undercover oepratives in prison and endangered a long term undercover op. Now the two sides have to figure out how to get the pawn back in with the Kobra organization. They get a little help from a certain new group of DC characters. Rucka knows how to escalate the action and pull out twists and Saiz is one of the future bests and his rendition of the Shadowpact is nicely done.



5. Spirit #1: Darwyn Cooke=awesome. Now, I'm not a big Spirit fan but Cooke got me to check out this issue and it is wonderful. The legendary vigilante looks to save reporter Ginger Coffee whose been kidnapped by gangsters because she might have incriminating evidence on a certain mob boss. The moments between the two are nice, the art is amazing, and the book in general just has the feel of the kind of Bronze Age Marvel books I like. fun, action packed, with larger then life scenes. Thanks Cooke, you the man.



4. Excel Saga Vol. 15: One reason I'm doing those summaries on Excel Saga is because reading through Vol. 15 made me want to remember where it started and how it developed. Volume 15 picks up with Hyatt with amnesia living with Watanabe, part of the dept. of Environmental security while Egala and Excel are in a women’s prison. It seems like the same silly fun but something happens and the book takes a turn to the more serious as Il Palazzo retrieves his soldiers and finally initiates plans to take over the City of Fukoaka, by using economy as his weapon. I haven't read a single comic in the last few years that has left me nervous for the next part as this one.



3. Birds of Prey #101: I gave it #1 last time, this time it's #3. This issue features our girls being attacked by jet fighters, Manhunter starting work on a secondary mission of Oracles, and a little information about the relationship(past, of course) between Spy Smasher and Oracle. Its big bad action sequences, clever dialogue, thrilling moments, and a cast of characters cooler then damn near any superhero team in comics. Nicola Scott may not be my fav BoP artist but she can get the job done, and kick ass doing it.



2. Detective Comics #826: Done-in-one Batman stories that Paul Dini have been doing are great. But this issue... this is the best yet. After robin gets chased by some gangsters he ducks into the car of a good Samaritan who turns out to be the Joker. Joker begins his usual torture on the boy Wonder and Robins got to figure a way to save the day. Dini, you just keep me glued to the world of the Dark Knight. for months I've been complaining about how I can't get a handle of Robin because he's written so differently book to book but here-this should be how robins written. Kramer does a great job, besides making Dick Grayson look too much like Bruce Wayne. All in all, the best Batman issue of 2006 quite possibly. And starring Robin, what are the chances?



1. Justice Society of America #1: Geoff Johns... I'm sorry man but Teen titans doesn't do it for me, 52 and Action Comics are cool but not my favorite books, IC burnt out half way through, and Green Lanterns enjoyable but for months I've been feeling we've gone our separate ways. Then you return to the JSA and make me come back. Reading through the first issue of the relaunch had everything I loved about JSA and what makes it one of my favorite runs of all time(issues 1-75). The JSA staples from the old guard to those who've become staples in the DCU and the new characters like the new Starman. But the twists, the growing threats, and the Dale Eaglesham art. Praise you DC. Thank you for this. thank you, I needed the JSA back.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Wedding Bell Rumors

So, a few weeks ago there was a line in the DC Nations section that shows up at the end of the mainstream DC comics. It was Dan Didio telling Judd Winick to "make it work. They belong together." I assumed he was speaking about Green Arrow and Black Canary getting back together. Which didn't bother me, nor tickled my fancy. Than rumor site Lying in the Gutters reported wedding bells in the distance. Then the boards exploded. And by exploded, I mean only a minor tremor. It's not like this is Civil War.

Now, I'm a Green Arrow fan. I will not lie, I loved Identity Crisis(insert tired bitching here). You see, I had only been following DC for a little over a year, so I wasn't as taken back by the incidents in the series as many long time fans were(though, yes, Sues death sadden me and the rape scene did appall me). This was my first introduction to Green Arrow and with such, I found him very interesting. Enough to go out and pick up Archers Quest, which I know you haters don't want to hear this, is a great introductory series for non GA fans. I gave this book to a few people who didn't(or don't normally) read superhero comics and they like it because it was down to earth and was easy to follow. In that book you got a real sense of who GA was: a bastard. But one you can care about.

Now, before this I had dedicated myself to Gail Simones fabulous run on Birds of Prey. At this moment it's the longest continuing run I'm buying. I love BC, I think she's a cool character. As i go back and buy old DC comics I enjoyed her in her brief time in Giffen/DeMatties Justice League as well as her time in JSA. I've also read her various appearances in Green Arrows books and the famed Green Lantern/Green Arrow series.

So you know what... let the marriage go on. Going back and reading through those books, seeing the cartoon renditions, I really see these together. Whether or not you like Judd Winick(no, I don't but his Shazam/Superman mini was one of my fav things of last year) the idea that these two should not be together seems ridiculous to me. Thats like Superman without Lois Lane, Spider-Man without Mary Jane, Batman without Silver St. Cloud(I might be the only one on this one). These two have been through so much together. Not just their own relationship, but the hardships of their lives together. Whether its GA saving BC in Long Bow Hunters or the little remembered Grell penned story with BC going in guns a blazing saving his kidnapped ass, these two will do anything for one another.

Yeah, I know, BC shouldn't be measured by her relationship with GA. Well guess what!?! She was a co-star in the longest running female team book(Birds of Prey), kicks some serious ass in Justice League of America(at least in my eyes) and is basically #2 woman in the company. If there was a females worlds finest, it would be Wonder Woman and Black Canary.(Worlds Best-patent pending). I think we've made it quite far since the 1980s and Black Canary will be okay.

As for the wedding idea it self, well now I might dislike Winicks GA but I am reading it. Now, he cheated on her once in it and that was... I believe his first or second arc on the book. Since then, unless I'm forgetting, Winick hasn't actually been making Ollie a real bastard, he's just been writing stories that I believe are sub-par. Now, some other writers have written asshole Ollie but we're not talking about them making it work because they don't have to deal with the characters as full time.

Don't get me wrong, I would much rather Gail handle this as it has been seeming to me for a while she has been slowly making Dinah fondly remember what it is about Ollie she loves. That issue(number escapes me) where her and Ollie crash a dirty business or at the end of issue 100. Even the final JLA arc Bob Harras wrote some nice scenes between the two.

I'm all for these two two crazy kids hooking up because honestly, they have a stronger relationship together than either could have with any other character. I'm also optimistic that Winick would be smarter enough to keep the cheating(which is actually a bit exaggerated from the truth. What is it, twice? Two and and half? I know one he was practically raped) a far ways away. hell, maybe even use this as his swan song off the series.

Maybe I'm just too much of an optimist. Or maybe I like to read the comics before I pass judgement on them. Maybe I should've thought this blog entry through just a little better but I'm tired.