Is Wayward the new Buffy?

Back in April 2014 I mentioned that Image had a new series coming out and the subject line for the press release was: “The perfect new series for wayward Buffy fans.” I’ve made my way through the first five issues and it’s a good time to see if the comparison was apt.

There are quite a few ways in which it is accurate. Our main character, Rori Lane, is a high school girl who is living with her divorced mother. She just transferred to a new school and new city (technically a whole new country). Her mother has no idea what she’s up to. She’s fighting demons – Japanese demons instead of vampires. She meets up with a few other high school students and they’re working together.

I can see where Image Comics marketing thought, “Hmm, I think we can see some overlap with Buffy fans.” But Wayward is not just Buffy in Japan. That could be interesting on its own, but would probably also seem a bit too derivative. So it’s great that the above paragraph is where the similarities end. Continue reading Is Wayward the new Buffy?

Who is the Green Hornet? Part 1: Kevin Smith

As I mentioned in my John Carter first look, I’m somewhat new to Dynamite’s properties; more accurately, their licensed properties. When I attended the Pulp Panel at Baltimore Comic-Con 2014, I was interested in the Green Hornet for the first time. My only previous exposure was the trailer for the Seth Rogan film. I knew it was an old character from the time of the radio serials, but not much else. But after hearing about Mark Waid’s take on it, I flagged it as something to check out.

Luckily for me, this year Dynamite did a Humble Bundle which included Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet. With the current near glut of comic book movies going to the silver screen, it was interesting to learn that Smith’s run on the comic was based on a Miramax movie script he wrote, but which was never produced. As a Kevin Smith fan, this intrigued me. Let’s first take a brief walk through the plot before looking at some of the themes Smith employs as well as any cinema-ness that sticks out compared to traditional comics.

Green Hornet Vol 1 - A Lil Rascals Reference
Green Hornet Vol 1 – A Lil Rascals Reference

The story open in what, at least to me, appears to be an unspecified time period. Smith seems to be deliberately leaving it open to interpretation whether this takes place in the 1930s of the original Green Hornet stories or a more modern time. The Green Hornet (Britt Reid) takes out the last crime family and retires. Unlike Batman, his appearance does not lead to escalation of ever crazier criminals. Perhaps unrealistically, he has now reach his goal and instead of being corrupted by power, he’s just happy that his city has been rid of all the crime families. His wife knows he’s the Green Hornet, but his son does not. Continue reading Who is the Green Hornet? Part 1: Kevin Smith

Exploring Reality (and other themes) in Joe the Barbarian

Grant Morrison can be a tough read. His comics are almost always filled with metaphors, allusions, references, and Easter eggs. Sometimes this works masterfully like his run on Batman and Robin Vol 1. Sometimes it falls flat like his run on Action Comics Vol 2. Other times, like his run on Batman Vol 1 or Batman Inc Vols 1 and 2, it contains individual stories that are great, but fails to achieve a cohesive whole. I feel that Joe the Barbarian has most of Morrison’s best attributes and only a few of his weaknesses. Continue reading Exploring Reality (and other themes) in Joe the Barbarian

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (in color!)

I read Scott Pilgrim in its original manga-sized, black and white form when it first came out. With the final volume of the color version coming out this year, I thought it would be a great time to revisit the story as well as looking at how the addition of color changes things. I’ll be exploring the story and themes volume by volume.

I’d like to start by taking a look at how the conversion to color has affected the story-telling. Scott Pilgrim is an example of manga coming full circle. Osamu Tezuka, the originator of manga, was originally inspired by early Walt Disney. In turn, my generation has been influenced by manga as we create our comics. The original volumes went with manga’s small-size and black and white “coloring” both for authenticity reasons and for practical reasons – coloring and color printing is expensive. In a CBR interview O’Malley says, “Initially, I was resistant to color because the books were always intended for black and white. That was part of the manga aesthetic I was going for.” But manga-inspiration is not the only reason for black and white in comics. Robert Kirkman has stated that Walking Dead wouldn’t have the same impact as it does if it were in color. It’s better for the mind to fill in the gory details. In a strange way, even though O’Malley’s art is already manga-cartoony, the colored version definitely feels less “real” to me. With my look into East of West I spent some time talking about how colors can affect the mood of a book and how Hickman has two very different color schemes in East of West and Manhattan Projects. So I feel as though the colors in this version somewhat rob some of the reality from this admittedly fantastical story. Continue reading Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (in color!)

Understanding Japanese Culture, Humor, and Gender Through Love Hina Part 10

note on all the image scans: they are correct manga-style so they are read right to left

Spend enough time doing critical readings of media and you come across the assertion that all media tells you about the culture it was written in. Sometimes, as in contemporary media, this is easy to tease out. Other times, as with science fiction, it’s by extrapolation. So I thought it might be interesting to re-read Love Hina, by Ken Akamatsu, as a way to to understand Japanese culture.  Part One can be found here.

Story

We move into a book I hadn’t read on a previous read of the series. It appears that Akamatsu is stalling a bit after the last book’s reveal. This book starts off with Naru claiming she didn’t mean it and then, after a night of zany hijinks alone in the house – Mutsumi invites them to Okinawa. Continue reading Understanding Japanese Culture, Humor, and Gender Through Love Hina Part 10

Krampus: Christmas used to be really weird

Last year I read Krampus as it was released as single issues, but didn’t get around to writing about it. Recently I was thinking about Krampus as we moved into the holiday season and it seems to coincide with Image releasing the book as a trade collection on 3 December at your local comic shop or 16 December everywhere else.

Krampus - Krampus
Krampus – Krampus

We have a lot of traditions that come from long ago – so long ago that they seem a bit odd today. A lot of this is due to a change in our sensibilities. In my daughter’s Little Red Riding Hood, no one is eaten. The wolf just gets grandma out of the way for a while. In the old Cinderella, the stepsisters are mutilating their feet to get them into the slippers. And in many European traditions Santa used to go around with a helper to punish the bad kids. One of those was Krampus, a demon. Wikipedia claims this still goes on in some countries. In the story as told by this comic, Krampus has been jailed for being a little too over-enthusiastic in his punishment of the bad kids. Continue reading Krampus: Christmas used to be really weird

At the Beginning: John Carter: A Warlord of Mars #1

John Carter: A Warlord of Mars #1
John Carter: A Warlord of Mars #1

We don’t often consider single issues here at Comic POW! We prefer to look at story arcs and completed series to get a better feel for what the author and artist were trying to accomplish. However, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some comics’ first issues to predict where we think it might be going and see how that compares with where the series actually goes. This new series is called “At the Beginning” and it’ll usually be for series right as they are starting up.

I didn’t know too much about Dynamite before going into Baltimore Comic-Con 2014. I did notice they tended to do what often appeared to be public domain characters like Zorro or Green Hornet. While at BCC, I learned that Dynamite’s model revolves around licensing characters – many, but not all of them, older. Then Dynamite hires creators to write and draw new stories with these characters. Continue reading At the Beginning: John Carter: A Warlord of Mars #1