Thursday, January 31, 2008

buck rogers in the 21st century

well, that's what we should call James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, nee The Winter Soldier, now currently wearing the colors of his mentor and best friend, the late Steve Rogers.

the shiny design by the great Alex Ross actually contradicts the dark tone of the book, where Steve Epting's gritty illustrations are perfect for all the (Red) skullduggery going on.

the country is in crisis (no shit, Sherlock) - due to the machinations of Herr Johann Schmidt (a.k.a. Crimson Skeletor, a.k.a. Boneface, a.k.a. The Red Skull), Rogers is dead, oil prices are skyrocketing, nobody can sell a house, the people are rioting, the economy is going down the toilet, and the Big Mac ain't what it used to be.

to honor Steve's last request, Tony Stark (the polarizing Iron Man/Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.) wants Bucky to wear the mantle of the world's greatest fighting machine to take the fight to the Red Skull. Bucky wants independence from Stark/S.H.I.E.L.D., and Stark doesn't want to be associated with an "unregistered superhero".

to protect American interests (from gold-grubbing cannon fodder such as A.I.M. a.k.a. the beekeepers), Captain America must live again!

let's try out his fight humor, shall we?

ehhh ... well, let's not put him to task for watching the Seinfeld 'Soup Nazi' episode last night. any one donning the colors would feel a little jittery.

as for his combat methods, well, let's just say he's not Steve Rogers.

while the new Cap goes through the paces, his current (arm's length) benefactor is fighting a different kind of war - against unprincipled politicians who care more about the bottom line than anything else.

add to this, some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents tasked to guard the White House are under the remote control of Dr. Faustus (He Who Programmed Sharon Carter to Shoot Steve) and are now ordered to scratch their itchy trigger fingers.

you know what this means, don't you? cliffhanger!!!

what's this? a sly advertisement for Lost? is Damon Lindelof in the house? what th-?

if we go to, we find its a spinoff game of sorts. i wonder how much did ABC pay Marvel for this.

Captain America #34
Ed Brubaker/Steve Epting/Butch Guice/Frank D'Armata

red, white and blue balls

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

FJMa party

Fil The Heat: Francis J Manapul/Iron and the Maiden/Witchblade
continuing our series on Filipino comic book artists who have kicked down the door to the big time.

over the other side of Great Lakes (Lake Ontario to be exact), lives (and works) one Francis Manapul, formerly of the Witchblade family and now the regular artist for Iron and the Maiden (stop snickering now), the first creator-owned work for Aspen Comics. the title is the brainchild of videogame impresario Jason Rubin (Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Dexter).

Iron and the Maiden is described as "a cross between a '30's gangster film, Escape from New York, and Beauty and the Beast." the lead character is Michael James Iron, a conflicted enforcer for the Syndicate, who gets betrayed by his mob associates and left for dead, kicking off this cartoonish yet violent series.

you could almost taste the Joe Madureira influence, and for good reason - Joe Mad made the initial character designs. but with proper finishing, Manapul's art looks and feels like a more polished and spanking version of Madureira's.

despite the excessive anatomical renditions (hey, there's an explanation for that - 'roids), the characters can be fun, like the boss villain Big Daddy, a douchebag midget with a mechanical foot, a yen for hair products and an overcompensating ego.

the huge Iron, a product of a steroid-centric supersoldier program, leads a charmed existence but has been growing a conscience - which blooms into maturity when a greedy associate turns on him and betrays him to Big Daddy. did i say he was huge? even Shaq would fit in one of his shoes.

Mr. Manapul's art is quite better in dynamic action sequences, because you get the odd sense of stiffness when characters are just posing or standing around.

case in point: i always had trouble rendering this particular position; apparently, so does Mr. Manapul.

some Witchblade covers which both sway between awesome and stiff.

dynamic? here's a couple that jumped out at me:

some character designs are fun, despite the obvious influences; here's Deadpan Louie, an self-absorbed alcoholic Irish thug (hey, stereotype!)

and Drop Dead Mike, a knife-wielding psycho, who's interesting enough to last more than one issue.

and of course, no artist worth his salt can't claim to be one if he can't draw a beautiful babe (Angel Chase).

Mr. Manapul also runs into trouble with cityscapes and the like; i don't know if its the scale or the perspective, but there's something off about it. and again with the stiffness. people seem to be just standing there, and there's no sense of motion.

even when there's supposed to be (motion), it still doesn't feel right. there's a flying-car chase happening, and people are just walking by, minding their own business. do we point the finger at Mr. Manapul for this, or Mr. Joel Gomez (who's always credited with "backgrounds")?

click on the couple of scenes below to form your own critique.

i think Witchblade was more a challenge for Mr. Manapul, what with all the intricacies you need to render for that body armor.

did i mention Mr. Manapul can draw babes? Sara and the Magdalena ... mm-mmm!

here's a question: what's with the chessboard floor that keeps appearing everywhere (mostly in his new work)

note the broken floorwork on the left - and the absence of it on the right.

did i mention again that he can draw babes?

last question: why is this cop Manetti smoking while in a firefight? correction, a losing firefight. oh that's right, he's losing that's why he needs a ciggie.

Mr. Manapul is a rising star no doubt, with his dynamic artwork and sense of grandeur, he just needs a bit more consistency and perhaps we shall see him soon in either of the Big Two's stables.

select images from; the rest are from uh, public files.

Monday, January 28, 2008

star spangled return

with the local media trumpeting his return, let's all give a big round of applause for Bucky and a toast to Steve!

and on the night of Dubya's last State of the Union address, no less.

so where's my copy, dammit??

Sunday, January 27, 2008

cliffhanger of the week #1

counting down the best (i.e., the ones i read) cliffhangers of the week.

Iron Man #25
Knauf Brothers/Roberto De La Torre

Maya finally learns who "Tem Borjin" is, Sec Def Koonig sings, and Tony goes head to head with the old geezer with rings in his retro Iron Man armor and without Extremis. oh joy.

X-Men #207
Mike Carey/Chris Bachalo/Tim Townsend et al.

though it is a concluding issue, there are still a lot of questions that pushed us over that cliff - starting with "what the hell is going on with Bishop???" who is this new mutant baby? what happens to Gambit? is Sinister really dead? is Charles really dead? what happened to Layla? will Barack Obama win the Democratic nomination?

Astonishing X-Men #24
Joss Whedon/John Cassaday

just whose side's on whose? does Peter have the balls to break this alien world? and with a ten-mile long non-electronic bullet fired at Earth, will the X-Men be able to stop it in time? will i be able to hold my pee? tune back next month! (or months, because this will be allegedly be concluded in a giant-sized issue)

Saturday, January 26, 2008



its the conclusion of Messiah CompleX storyline over in X-Men #207, and the world (and our merry mutants) is/are stunned as a rogue Bishop shoots down Ol' Baldie, Chuck Xavier himself.

oh, who are we kidding? Xavier died already several times in the past, at the least regaining/losing the use of his legs as well. we just need Lilandra to get back the Shi'ar Empire and use their technology to bring Xavier back to life again. what's that, Havok? issue #5 of Emperor Vulcan is still going to press? how about those alien jerks in Astonishing X-Men? didn't they revive a dead Cyclops? what, no continuity links between those two? how do you explain Colossus, hmmmm??

here's a curious scene. look carefully, don't blink and you tell me where Xavier's body went.

huh? huh?

well anyway, Chuck's "death", as it were, is the convenient premise for the next storyline, Divided We Stand, and it just means we are just fish that can't fight the hook. damn you, Mike Carey!

but what i really wanna know is ... what the hell's up with Bishop? (yeah i hope no one forget that itty bitty part)

ps. props to everyone for kicking Marauder ass.

X-Men #207
Mike Carey/Chris Bachalo/Tim Townsend/Victor Olazaba/Jon Sibal/Al Vey

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

grrrly power

a reader (i can count those with less fingers than a veteran Yakuza gang member) suggested to feature more Filipino comic artists who broke into the market here. and i thought, 'why the hell not?' we got talent on that side of the ocean, and on the average, they get hired-gun work for the biggies. i've no problem with that, as long as you develop your skills, get to a wider audience, put some food on the table and turn in an honest day's work (or maybe a little bit less) - all the things i never did. anyway, i got a short list, though i will need to rely on readers' input (again, less than the fingers on a Yakuza hand) on who else is out there. there isn't much pub for guys like those, and i'm afraid even getting featured on this blog will barely dent anything. should i start selling out and clutter this page with ads?

so let's kick off this series with a creator-owned work, and whose creator is of the female persuasion, no less.

Fil The Heat: Jinky Coronado/Banzai Girls
i've been meaning to feature this book for awhile now, but never had the time or frame of mind to do so (trust me, my Drafts list rivals the Posted list). well, here we are, and i'm still not in the proper frame of mind LOL.

Ms. Coronado is a US transplant and following a comic convention appearance dressed in a schoolgirl costume, Banzai Girls was born. it is no coincidence that her choice of wardrobe (for the characters and for herself) appeals to a huge (and predominantly male) demographic. hell, just start with the pic below.

Banzai Girls, published by Arcana Studios, follows the adventures of well, Jinky herself (and her sisters Michelle and Katie) as a young Filipina hottie barely out of high school and already rivaling Hanna Montana in popularity (well, in her world). that popularity also results in incidents like these:

that behavior will get you jail time ... anywhere else

as to what school in Manila allows the female students to dress this way, you got me, sugar.

what "adventures" would a young girl have in Manila, apart from sneaking out under the noses of their parents to hang out with the boys? oh, you'd be surprised ...

my high school never had stairs. hmp.

apparently, Katie is a Stateside popstar and goes to Manila for her education. what? no paparazzi stalkers, no YouTube scandals, no public meltdowns?? what is this world coming to?

never had a classmate like her either.

right, she's a well-adjusted teenager that she puts Blohan and Brit-Brit to shame. and she has no problem titillating and exposing herself to her male classmates, and ... most importantly, to her (gasp!) ... father Pepito. if Pepito is her dad, then i'm a young and sprightly 24 year old stud.

big girl. you suuuuuuure are.

she takes jeepneys to and from school, she survives doing so wearing a skirt so short it wouldn't cover Mini-Me, and she lives near a forest (where is that? Antipolo?) where she encounters creatures (kapre, dwende) of local myth. go figure. i guess Shrek wasn't available.

taking a page from the Japanese masters of provocative storytelling-a-lie, said creatures take a fancy on our scantily-clad heroine, and make her scantily-er, provoking heart palpitations across the pimple-faced geeks reading this book (yours truly excluded ... on the pimple-face part). oh, by the way, i don't think they have cellphone signals in the forest.

at least that's La Perla? or Victoria's Secret? what, its Fredericks'?!

another adventure has them pitted against a huge monster robot gone haywire, courtesy of the incompetence of the military industrial complex, headed by a ... cyclops referred to as 'The Overseer'. not kidding. he's a one-eyed general named Ryan Presley. yes, i wrote that down correctly. Elvis had too much to drink his eyes melded into one, and ... oh, just forget about it.

at least you only need to track one eye, Katie

Ms. Coronado apparently found her niche market, and we don't begrudge for sticking to themes that are familiar to her. however, one gets the feeling that with some tweaks, you can get this series to a bigger audience than tweeners.

Banzai Girls is meant to be tongue-in-cheek fare, and at least coming from a lady creator (oh, i can see the clucking and finger-wagging from the feminists and the conservatives), we should just sit back and enjoy it on its on merits (and skewer it for the opposite). Danger Girls, this ain't.

to see more Jinky, click here. and if you're interested, her sister Michelle, who's a fellow FHM model. yowza!