Sunday, March 31, 2013

Graphic Novel Reviews: My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Issue 004

The Story
Twilight's friends are taken captive by Chrysalis, who bargains with their lives for Twilight's loyalty. Left with no choice, Twilight submits in exchange for her friends' freedom. When Chrysalis reveals her true plot is to use her powers to turn Twilight against her friends, Twilight uses the power of the comet to defeat Chrysalis. Celestia arrives, revealing that for the past several days she has been fighting off giant, mutant cockatrices.

In the backup story we get to see Spike and Celestia's battle againts the cockatrices.

The Review
Okay, how are they getting away with referencing not only IT, but also The Shinning, and Temple of Doom, in a children's comic book? I think by this point it's clear that while the main audience of the franchise is younger children, these books are definitely targeted just a wee bit more at the adult fans. That's not to say children won't enjoy it, in fact I know quite a few children enjoy being scared just a little bit, and some creepy references to movies they probably haven't seen won't be a big deal. Though I do think that part of the reason these references are okay, is because comics are a bit more relaxed than animation as far as age appropriate material is concerned.

Graphic Novel Reviews: Justice League of America 002

The Story
The team is introduced to each other, and after being introduced publicly to the United States, they go on their first mission where they meet the Justice League impostors.

The Review
The first draft of this review was quite quite embarrassing. I had somewhat of a strong emotional reaction to certain...shall we say this issue. Fortunately this is one of those rare cases where waiting a week to write the review served me well. Now I can calmly mention that I take issue with certain elements of this book, without coming across as a lunatic.

So what caused me to engage in fanboy rage? Well, let's just say that when I started reading this book I was worried we were going to get more of the kind of pointless romantic/sexual tension that far too many team books engage in. What worried me more is that one of my favorite characters, Catwoman, was now in the line of fire for such shenanigans.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Graphic Novel Reviews: Catwoman 018

The Story
Batman confronts Catwoman about the stolen paintings, which he apparently cares about. No reason why he should though. Selina steals them back at the end of the book. In the middle there's some stuff about sneaking into the police headquarters.

The Review
Confession time, I'm very invested in Batman and Catwoman's relationship. I dislike shipping, but sometimes I can't help myself, and I've liked these characters for quite some time. So any chance to have them actually interact is a lot of fun. But is it just me, or does it feel like Nocenti has been told, "You have to write Batman and Catwoman as a fated romance" but she doesn't actually believe in it? How else could we get clumsy moments like Trip commenting on how Catwoman has Batman, and doesn't need him (by the way, there goes by "Trip is Batman" theory)?

Graphic Novel Reviews: Nightwing 018

The Story
Dick deals with the grief of Damian's death, while facing the Dealer, who has stolen Dick's father's uniform. After coming to terms with his own decisions, Dick decides to start mending some of his bridges, starting with Sonia. In an effort to gain Dick's trust, Sonia reveals that her father is alive.

The Review
I think the portrayal of Dick's grief took up the proper amount of room in this issue. I liked how the video game mentioned last chapter was brought back as a device to force Dick to confront his grief again. Ultimately the issue of Dick's becoming a darker character was dealt with when the issue of the Dealer was resolved, though the reveal at the end of the issue has me in two minds.

One of the problems with characters that have been around for so long is that there will be some inevitable repetition of themes and events. After all, when certain major events contribute to the development of a character, then it stands to reason that said events will come back to haunt the character.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Anime Reviews: Toriko Episode 95 - Showdown At The Summit! Ichiriyu Versus Midora Of The Gourmet Corp.!

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The Story
Ichiryu confronts the Gourmet Corp. in an attempt to make piece with their leader, Midora, another former pupil of Acacia. Unfortunately it is not to be, so Ichiryu is forced to leave, but not before impressing on the members of Gourmet Corp. exactly how powerful he really is. Once returned to his headquarters he has Setsuno cook him a massive feast to prepare his gourmet cells for the confrontation.

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Graphic Novel Reviews: Batgirl 018

The Story
After surviving the explosion, Batgirl hunts down Firebug and takes him out. After which she goes after her brother, who is targeting their mother.

The Review
I'm trying not to judge these books based on how well they tie into Requiem, but I do find it amusing how little reaction Barbara has to finding out Damian is dead. Granted, she barely actually interacted with him. But her dead eyed reaction is kind of unsettling.

As for the actual story of this issue. I can't say I was very invested. Knowing that Fawkes only has two issues before Simone comes back means I don't feel any real need to dig deep or get invested in this issue or last issue. So really it comes across as an interlude between the actual story. And while there are ongoing threads that carried over from Simone's run, and will continue back into Simone's run, the main threat of Firebug comes across as little more than filler.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Anime Reviews: Toriko Episode 94 - A Taste That's Out Of This World! Eating the Meteor Garlic!

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The Story
With Livebearer still knocked, Komatsu takes the Meteor Garlic to the kitchen and starts to prepare it. He manages to figure out how to start preparing it, and his skill impresses Livebearer enough that when the knocking wears off, Livebearer helps Komatsu finish the preparations.

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Graphic Novel Reviews: Batman and Robin 018

The Story

The Review
I've once again allowed myself to get backed up in my reading list, so I've got a few books to talk about and I'll be keeping the next few reviews fairly short. Well, shorter than I normally do.

I've said in the past that I consider comics a visual medium that is only weighed down by excessive prose. Or if I haven't said specifically that, then I've said at least shared that basic sentiment before. I can't stand when comics use too many words. I don't mind reading, and in the hands of the right writer a wordy comic can be incredibly fun. However, it is not a trend that I want every comics writer to emulate. Nor am I "lazy" in my reading, I read Lord of the Rings back when I was ten, so I can handle walls of text. My main reason for complaining about excessive text in comics is the fact that I feel the pictures can often tell a much better story than the words could. Especially when writers are under the impression than they need to explain what we can plainly see in the images.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Episode 041 - March 25, 2013 - Manga Art Styles | Toriko Vol. 3

Welcome to Manga^3, your one stop for manga news and commentary, for the week of March 25, 2013. This week we discuss a topic integral to manga, art styles. We give a brief rundown of the different styles depending on demographic, the history of the evolution of art styles, as well as the strengths, weaknesses, and main focus of the different art styles. This is not an in-depth discussion, rather it is an introduction to the topic. We also take a look at volume three of Toriko.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Graphic Novel Reviews: Batman 018

The Story
Batman's reaction to Damian's death is told from the point of view of Harper Row, who since her last encounter with Batman has been training to be able to follow and help him when necessary. And with Batman driving himself to exhaustion, to the point where even regular criminals are getting close to getting the better of him. Harper helps Batman during a crucial moment, but is scolded for helping where she is unwanted.

After meeting with Bruce Wayne, to set up a display in Wayne Towers meant to motivate Batman, Harper and Batman are somewhat reconciled.

The Review
I have three problems with this issue. The first being that while Scott Snyder's wordiness usually doesn't bother me, in this case I felt that the excessive description throughout the issue was to the detriment of the story being told. Part of me wonders if Snyder is begrudging Morrison for stealing the spotlight from him.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Episode 040 - March 18, 2013 - How Batman Improves Any And All Manga | Toriko Vol. 2

Welcome to Manga^3, your one stop for manga news and commentary, for the week of March 18, 2013. This week we discuss a topic that is more than a little silly. What would certain popular manga be like if Batman were a character in them? If you have an opinion on that topic, discuss away! We also take a look at the second volume of Toriko.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cartoon Reviews: Gravity Falls Episode 15 - The Deep End

The Story
In order to beat the heat wave, the Pines and Soos decide to hit the Gravity Falls local pool. There Dipper runs into a hot-blooded pool manager, Stan contends with his arch nemesis Lil’ Gideon, Soos risks his life to save life-saving inflatable ducks, and Mabel befriends a merman.

Graphic Novel Reviews: My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Issue 003

The Story
With the ponies separated, they find themselves running across several different kinds of danger. While fleeing from said danger, the ponies are reunited and ready to reach their final destination and confront Chrysalis.

The Review
In my review of issue three, I mentioned that the ponies thinking their friends had turned against them made no sense. And in this issue Rainbow Dash brings up that the changelings were probably behind their fight. While I approve at least one of the characters coming to this realization, I still think it should have been the first thing to come to all of their minds the moment they heard the other ponies badmouthing them. But, I supposed we can just chalk that up to emotions running high and none of the ponies thinking straight.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cartoon Reviews: Young Justice Invasion Episode 19 - Summit

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The Story
The Light and the Reach meet together to discuss recent events in their plans. During the meeting Aqualad and Artemis's cover is blown. The two are executed by Deathstroke, but Aqualad still manages to reveal the Light's treachery to the Reach. Aqualad and Artemis turn out to still be alive, and Deathstroke reveals himself to actually be Miss Martian in disguise.

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Graphic Novel Reviews: Throne of Atlantis - Aquaman 014-017 | Justice League 15-17

The Story
An accidental attack by United States Forces on Atlantis provokes an attack upon the surface by Orm and the forces of Atlantis. Aquaman and the Justice League try to both fight him off and reason with him, but they are captured and imprisoned in the trench where the flesh eating creatures from the beginning of Aquaman were trapped. There they discover that the creatures have been freed.

On the surface, the backup members of the Justice League fight of Atlantis, but it is the arrival of the main body of the Justice League that turns the tides. Aquaman sides with the surface, against his brother, and together the team manages to defeat Orm, and discover the true cause of the attack.

In the aftermath of the attack, Aquaman tries to keep control of Atlantis as its king, but both his own soldiers, and the people of the surface have no trust for him.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cartoon Reviews: Young Justice Invasion Episode 18 - Intervention

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The Story
While Blue Beetle continues to pose as a hero, the team mobilize to free him from Reach control. Impulse and Batgirl ambush Blue Beetle, but are easily taken out. Zatanna and Rockette are able to trap Beetle in a bubble made by mixing Rockette's powers and Zatanna's magic.

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Graphic Novel Reviews: Justice League of America 001

The Story
Steve Trevor and Amanda Palmer decide that if the Justice League were ever to go rogue, the United States would need their own team specifically to counteract the Justice League. So they gather of group of heroes and not-quite-heroes to act as counterparts for certain members of the Justice League.

For Superman they have the Martian Manhunter; for Batman, Catwoman; for Wonder Woman, Katana; for Hal Jordan, Simon Baz; for Flash, Vibe; for Cyborg, Stargirl; for Aquaman, Hawkman.

While they are gathering those characters who have not yet had the invitation extended to them, Green Arrow is on the run from what looks to be the Justice League.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cartoon Reviews: Young Justice Invasion Episode 17 - The Hunt

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The Story
With the team captured, Lex Luthor contacts the runaways and gives them a way to break into the war world and break the team out. In the meanwhile, Arsenal is running from the Reach, trying to get in touch with the outside world, and Nightwing and Miss Martian are searching for the team on the war world.

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Graphic Novel Reviews: My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Issue 002

The Story
Twilight Sparkle and her friends have to travel through a cave system to reach Chrysalis' domain. While traveling through the caves they come across a pony loving troll, an angry giant tarantula thug, and mischievous changelings bent on tearing their friendship apart. Thanks to some fabricated overheard conversations the six ponies believe their friends secretly hate them, and by the end of the issue they all split up.

The Review
I know I'd probably be laughed at for saying this comic was dark. So I'm not going to say that. What I will say is that it's certainly aimed a few age groups higher. Not only is the art a few steps away from the brightly colored animation artwork, but in a world where concepts such as death are never mentioned in the show, this book has Pinkie playing with a skull within the opening pages. It's never going to reach the level anyone would actually consider dark, but nonetheless, these aren't quite your candy colored ponies.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Episode 039 - March 11, 2013 - Women in Shonen Manga | Toriko Vol. 1

Welcome to Manga^3 your one stop for manga news and commentary, for the week of March 11, 2013. This week we talk about a topic that has been floating around manga fandom in a while. Namely, how are women treated in shonen manga, why are they treated that way, and why does it seem like fans are more likely to dislike the female cast members than the male cast members? We also start going over Toriko, volume by volume.

Graphic Novel Reviews: Nightwing 017

The Story
In the aftermath of Death of the Family, Nightwing's world is falling to pieces. Two of his friends are dead, the surviving members of Haly's circus have lost faith in him, and with Amusement Mile destroyed by fire and the Joker's chemicals, Dick is destroyed financially as well. His inner turmoil causes him to act more rash, and violently. And while everyone seems to believe him when he says he is fine, Damian is the only one who doesn't buy it and calls Dick out on his behavior.

The Review
While Dick acts quite out of character in this issue, his behavior makes complete sense. Joker hit him hard. He both relied on a lot of people and had them rely on him. In a sense Joker was victorious as far as Dick is concerned. Kyle Higgins uses Death of the Family quite expertly to transition from the first part of Nightwing's story to the next.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Graphic Novel Reviews: Talon 001-005

The Story
Calvin Rose is an escape artist turned assassin, former Talon, who has turned against the Court. After they sent him to murder an innocent woman and her daughter he escaped the influence of the court. The events of the Night of the Owls pulled him back to Gotham, where he meets Sebastian Clark, an enemy of the court, whose father was murdered for digging too deep into Gotham's secret history. Together the two fight against the court, and eventually team up with Calvin's girlfriend, Casey, who has been fighting the court on her own terms.

The Review
It's so rare that a brand new, original character, gets his own series. And even though Talon ties in somewhat to the Court of Owls storyline from Batman, the great majority of this series is an original story with original characters. This is quite possibly one of the few books where I'm not sitting around waiting to see which characters will make a guest appearance (read: when the hell is Batman showing up?). Even though Batman made an appearance in issue five, I actually want the cast of this series to remain contained.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Graphic Novel Reviews: Worlds' Finest 002-010

The Story
Kara Jor El and Helena Wayne use their skills to try and find a way to return to their home dimension. Their search for a way home leads them to face off against many foes, and many possible allies. Sometimes they work alone, sometimes they work together, but each has their own backstory and issues to deal with. Each has their own approach to the problems they face.

The Review
First, let me talk about what I like about this book so far. I've been quite enjoying Helena's part of the story. Huntress hasn't been one of the characters I was exactly invested in. And after she was no longer Helena Wayne pre-New 52 I really never found a reason to care about her. Tying her into Power Girl's origin, and return her to her pre-crisis identity as Helena Wayne was a great way to get Batman fanboys such as myself invested. This book seemed like a godsend. Power Girl AND a Huntress that is Batman and Catwoman's daughter? Sign me up!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Anime Reviews: Toriko Episode 93 - The Moment of Truth! Coco's Daring Scenario!

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The Story
Coco reveals that he tricked Livebearer into eating ingredients that would activate the poison of the poison potato no matter how much of the poison he would be able to neutralize. Livebearer intends to eat the potato anyway because he has taken precautions by lining his stomach with biodegradable plastic, but Coco predicted that and planned accordingly. Livebearer is left with no option to surrender. But instead of conceding the match to Coco, Livebearer has his goons attack Toriko and the Gourmet Mafia.

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Graphic Novel Reviews: Detective Comics 014-018

The Story
Batman confronts Poison Ivy, and discovers that she enthralled Clayface into doing her bidding. After dealing with this threat Batman is able to deal with the fallout of Joker's presence on the mentally ill of Gotham and the criminal. He confronts the League of Smiles and their leader the Merrymaker. Meanwhile, in the background, Ogilvy is using the chaos to make his move and take over the Penguin's empire, establishing himself as the Emperor Penguin.

The Review
While I think Emperor Penguin is a surprising level of camp for the much more serious tone that Batman books have taken in the past several decades, I have to confess that I am really invested in his story. The way it is woven through the entire book, taking advantage of the events of Death of the Family works really well.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cartoon Reviews: Gravity Falls Episode 014 - The Bottomless Pit

The Story
Grunkle Stan shows Dipper, Mabel, and Soos the Bottomless Pit. While using it to throw away things they don’t need, they all fall into the pit. So what do the four do to pass the time?

Graphic Novel Reviews: Batman and Robin 014-017

The Story
The zombie storyline is taken care of fairly quickly, while at the same time revealing that the Joker was behind it all. In the following issue Robin goes to search for Alfred. He runs afoul of the Joker at the Gotham zoo, and finds himself facing off against an apparently brainwashed Batman. Ultimately Robin refuses to hurt his father, instead deciding to sacrifice himself. The end of issue sixteen reveals that the Batman was in fact a fake.

After the finale of the Death of the Family storyline, Bruce, Damian, and Alfred turn in for well deserved rest. They all have nightmares as well as good dreams, and this is the last issue showing any kind of domestic interaction between the characters before the events of Batman Incorporated issue eight.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Episode 038 - March 4, 2013 - What is Josei Manga? | Nanatsu no Taizai

Welcome to Manga^3, your one stop for manga news and commentary, for the week of March 4, 2013. This week we talk about a topic neither of us are very prepared for, Josei manga. We also discuss a new series you should absolutely be reading if you like yourself some standard western fantasy. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Graphic Novel Reviews: Catwoman 014-017

The Story
First, Catwoman is tormented by the Joker. He tries to use her to mess with Batman, in a variety of ways. But ultimately she turns him down, chases him off, and for some reason he lets her be after that.

Issues fifteen and sixteen involve Catwoman stealing a black diamond from A.R.G.U.S and unleashing a cacophony of magic and madness. Selina becomes possessed by the diamond, and only barely is able to fight off the demonic magic locked in the room.

Issue seventeen sees us back to the usual format for Catwoman, Selina breaks up a drug deal that has children involved. She and her partner go to steal some paintings, but the police start to get involved.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Graphic Novel Reviews: The Dark Knight 014-017

The Story
After Batman breaks free from the Scarecrow's trap, the Scarecrow turns to the final phase of his plan—gassing Gotham city with his new fear toxin. From a zeppelin. The entire city becomes a disaster area, and while Batman is trying to contain the chaos he discovers that he is immune to the new formula. Figuring that his blood has the necessary antibodies to create an antidote, unfortunately it would take days to create an antidote. With no time left, Batman decides to spray his own blood over the city to counteract the toxin. It almost kills him, but he succeeds.

In the story beginning with issue sixteen, the Mad Hatter has been kidnapping people and casting them in parts from Alice in Wonderland. Batman tracks the kidnappings, trying to find where the Mad Hatter is, but as of the latest issue he has not found him. In the meanwhile, Bruce and his girlfriend Natalya break up.