Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gatchaman and Alex Ross

Learning about the characters due to appear in Tatsunoko vs Capcom - I got interested in seeing for myself what Gatchaman is all about. The full name of the series is Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (科学忍者隊ガッチャマンKagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman). You can check out some of the episodes through Netflix. The Animation style of the series is truly praise worthy - with a level of detail in faces and atmosphere not even seen in Anime today. The DVD sets are available, showing the series in it's original and unedited condition, both dubbed and subtitled. Some people might know the series by other names, like "Battle for the Planets" and "G-Force" when they where ported over to America through the decades.

The person you should thank for getting the real original Gatchaman brought to America is Comic Artist Alex Ross. He was apparently a big fan of Battle of the Planets and wanted to do a piece based on the property. His interest in the series caught the eye of the license holder - and a series of Battle of the Planets comics and art were produced. Ross' art also appears in the unedited DVDs.

Here an interview I found on Youtube detailing how he got involved in the series. Also below is the opening of the series.

Part 1 of the Alex Ross Gatchaman Interview

Part 2 of the Alex Ross Gatchaman Interview

The Opening of Gatchaman

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Comic Review: X-Factor #50

I've been a long time fan of Peter David's writing. Before I even realised he was actually writing X-Factor issues I was getting, I was already reading his prolific line of Star Trek novels. Of course, once I realized he was a comic writer, I quickly dove into back issues of the Hulk - and later reading the adventures of Captain Marvel. But, I stopped reading his work after that. See, during the Bush Administration I quickly found out how liberal he is. (I know, it wasn't exactly a secret - but I was young and just didn't catch onto those things) Basically, it got old hearing about how horrible Bush was. (This is why he was elected twice, because he came out very much as the underdog) So when Captain Marvel got canceled I wasn't exactly in a rush to pick up PAD's next project - Madrox (the Multiple Man), and later X-Factor.

Now X-Factor has reached it's 50th issue, and while not gaining as many readers as Marvel may want - it sounds like it's still a stable and good title to bank on. After this issue the series is going back to it's original numbering at #200 - with a new and fresh direction for the series. It all sounded interesting, and I decided to jump onto the band wagon - beginning at issue #49. So, like many other people who might be trying X-Factor for the first time too - this issue #50 is an odd place to start reading the series.

All that said, I gotta say I wish I had stuck with Peter David's writing all along, as this series is great. Two issues in, where probably 4 years worth of plot-lines are being resolved - and I still got pretty easily into the swing of things. Basic setting of this issue involved Madrox facing off against one of his rouge Duplicates, called Vortex. Madrox is in the future, inbetween Sentinel forces and a Summer's Mutant Rebellion - so a lot of stuff, that I honestly don't know everything about, is all happening. It can be quite confusing - but the centeral fight between Madrox and Vortex is easy enough to understand, and the fate of President Falcone has a nice beginning and end for even new readers jumping in. Layla Miller, the girl who "knows stuff" has grown up since the House of M mini-series and is now an adult. It's revealed Layla has a power no one else knew of - and there's a pretty big revelation about her character at the end here. (I won't spoil it)

Over all the issue was entertaining and good. It might not be the best place for new readers to jump into - but it's got me hooked. The real place to jump into X-Factor is issue #200, which this issue has a small preview of. The art simply looks great, and the redesigned costumes of the characters look very nice (despite Strong Guy being bald now). X-Factor is going to step back a little from the mutant world and become the Marvel Universe's quintessential detective agency - and their first case is very cleaver - to find the Invisible Woman, who has disappeared. This small preview of the next issue looks stunning, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

In a nut shell - try out this series. Maybe not with issue #50, but with issue #200. I really does make me wish I was reading the series all along.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Heroes Dying, Sounding the Call of a Crisis

In the first issue of James Robinson's run of Justice League of America, issue #38, we see D-List hero Blue Jay heroically try to warn the Justice League of an impending new menace. Blue Jay dies in this effort - but it made me recall all the other heroes who die trying to sound the call of an oncoming crisis. Wether they where successful in their warning or not, here are the ones I best remember.

These are the only ones I can readily think of off-hand. If you recall any other heroes who died trying to warn everyone of danger - then feel free to contribute and leave a message.

Blue Beetle (Ted Kord)

Ted famously gave his life in the opening preview issue of Infinite Crisis. Ted was trying to put the pieces together of an on-going mystery threatening the DCU. Despite his efforts nobody was actually listening to him. So, going it alone, he went to confront the mastermind who was working behind the scenes. It was non-other than Justice League backer Maxwell Lord, who was revealed to not only know every Super Hero's secret identities - but had high-jacked Batman's Brother Eye Satellite to create an army of OMAC Meta-Human Killers. Ted found all this out, and got a bullet right in his face for his trouble. His final defiant message "Rot in Hell, Max." was not lost on the readers. While Blue Beetle did die, his death helped signal the other heroes of the upcoming crisis, as Blue Beetle's shot-apart goggles managed to reach Batman and the Justice League. A lesson in not ignoring your friends when they need help.

Mr. America II (Trey Thompson)

In the pages of the newly relaunched Justice Society of America, Mr. America arrived at a murder scene to help the FBI. When they said they needed to notify the next of kin, Mr. America took off his mask and said they already knew, as it was his family who was killed.

So Mr. America went on the hunt for the killer, and found the origin of the threat - Vandal Savage, who was attempting to wipe out the blood-lines of all the heroes. Mr. America was then murdered, but before dying managed to crash through the sky-light of the JSA's meeting room, and die right on their table, giving them warning of the threat against them.

Oh, and as for trying to kill off the Mr. America blood-line, Trey's FBI partner, Jeffrey Graves, took over for his friend and serves in the JSA.

Flash (Barry Allen)

This is a weird one - where Flash did indeed give warnings to his friends and fellow heroes of the danger ahead - and did later die. I'm not positive wether that all happened at the same time - relatively speaking - given all the rips in time Flash was appearing in to give the news. But he did Warn people, and then died. So, does he count on this list?


Orion of the New Gods also heralded the end of things and died for his trouble. In the Final Crisis series, Orion washes up on the docks and dies, with the warning that "They" did not die, and that "He" was in all of them. Orion died for his trouble, but his dead body helped get the League on the case - only eventually to find out that Darkseid had indeed not died (along with all the other New Gods) and that he was indeed inside all of humanity - corrupting Earth and it's people from the inside out. Darkseid, evil, had won. With the heroes on the case, though, Darkseid's reign over Earth wasn't a long one.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sgt Frog - Bad Dubbing

I just got my rented copy of Sgt Frog, Volume 1 in the mail today. Boy, I gotta say I am both elated and disappointed.

See, this series is great. Sgt Frog is actually called Keroro Gunsou. (Which means, you guessed it, "Frog Sergeant") Frog Like Aliens attempt to invade Earth - but fail miserably at it. Sgt Frog is captured by the Hinata family. Sgt Frog is abandoned by his fleet, and is forced to live with the Hinata family, where he quickly becomes like family. He's soon joined by his Platoon Subordinates, all of who have quirky details about their character.

Anyway - I watch the first episode. The subtitles go by pretty quickly, so it takes a little getting use to - and it doesn't help that Japanese Text (explained at the top of the screen) is appearing every few seconds. For someone not versed in Japanese, this gets a little hard to follow. Yet that's why God creased pause buttons! I know, not the easiest way to enjoy a show - but this seems worth it.

Now, usually when it's very hard to follow the subtitles, I naturally go to the dubbed audio - which usually simplifies things. Yet, here's where everything starts to really stink - the dubbed script is... simply horrible. You see, I watched the first episode in Japanese, and then went to hear it in English. Not only is the dialogue different - but it changes the nature of the characters. Sgt Frog is no longer the overly excited charming character he usually is - suddenly he's this conniving little sneak. Mind you, Sgt Frog is sometimes always planning to get back to trying to conquer the Earth - but that's very much in the background to his usually grateful nature to the Hinata family. He might complain about having to do chores - but he never seems ungrateful, and even seem elated to be called "Friend" by Fuyuki.

The best way I can explain how badly the dialogue is rewritten is this: it's like Shin-chan. When bringing it over to America, they found the potty humor, while gross - was still aimed at young kids, and might not satisfy an American audience. (And, trust me, these aren't jokes American kids are use to hearing.) So they decided, in addition to subbing the show, they would add in tons more gross humor more in tune with young adults in mind.

Now, that might be all well and good for Shin-Chan - who's target audience different when shipped overseas - but there is nothing wrong with the humor of Sgt Frog as is. We don't need added jokes. For example, the mother comes home. In Japanese she announces that her artist finished early. In the dubbed version she says something about him working quicker without pants. WHAT THE HELL?! Do we need that extra joke? It's damn insulting to the American fans, who might naturally want to hear the dialogue Dubbed - and not get an accurate translation!

I hear Funimation put out some tests of dubbing the show, to gauge fan reaction. They got in trouble for needlessly changing names - which angered many fans. While it's all well and good that they took those criticisms to heart - that doesn't mean fans also wanted a different script.

Dubbing means actually, simply, translating the voices. This isn't even a case of having difficulty trying to synch up the lip movements - this is having the characters say something completely different.

Suffice to say, I'm not going to follow the Anime. The Manga looks better and a damn bit more accurate. If you can deal with subtitles - then I urge you to give Sgt Frog a try. Otherwise, don't watch it. Your simply not getting the real Keroro Gunsou that the Japanese have enjoyed for so long.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tatsunoko Anime Openings

I am really just sooo excited about Tatsunoko vs Capcom now. Since it's perhaps not the most accessable cast of characters, I've tried showing videos of the upcoming game, and profiles on the characters themselves.

But a few lines of text doesn't really help explain some of those older-Anime characters that much, does it? So, to help familiarize more with these cool characters, here are some of the Anime Openings they come from.

Science Ninja Team Gatchaman

Neo-Human Casshern

Space Knight Tekkaman

Tekkaman Blade

Hurricane Polymar


Karas Trailer

Gyakuten! Ippatsuman

Golden Warrior Gold Lightan

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Meet the Fighters

OK, I've been digging around the net, finding out more and more about the upcoming Tatsunoko vs Capcom game. I was previously undecided - but after getting to know some of the less-American-known characters, I'm happy to report that I'm definitely buying the game when it arrives state side.

What might confuse some prospective fans are the unknown characters. So I've put together a list of all the characters that are listed to appear in the game - and an explanation of what I found out about each character. I hope this helps!

Here, also, are openings to the Anime from Tatsunoko's lineup: Tatsunoko Anime Openings

Capcom Line-Up

Origin: Street Fighter Games
Ryu is the standard-bearer for Street Fighter games, and again is leading Capcom's roster of characters.

Origin: Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Games
Like Ryu, Chun-Li set the standard for female fighting characters - and brings all her awesome footwork to bear in this game.

Origin: Street Fighter III
The third representative from the Street Fighter franchise is Alex, the brawling New Yorker from Street Fighter III.

Batsu Ichimonji
Origin: Rival Schools Games
Here's a new character for us Americans, from Capcom's School-Themed fighter "Rival Schools" Batsu here is the lead character in those games.

Origin: Darkstalkers Games
This popular lady Vampire comes from Capcom's Darkstalkers series.

Mega Man
Origin: Mega Man Legends
The old Blue Bomber is back again - but this time not as his regular self, but from the Mega Man Legend series. Sporting a more cube-centric look, Legends Mega Man was the first 3-D Mega Man game series.

Origin: Mega Man Series
Roll has always been Mega Man's even faithful robotic sister. Like in previous Capcom vs games - Roll is stepping up to play with the big boys too. Though, this time, she's bringing a broom. Way to break that glass ceiling!

Origin: Mega Man X series
Fan favorite Zero, from the Mega Man X series, joins the cast of Tatsunoko vs Capcom. Wielding a powerful laser sword, Zero is one of the toughest Maverick Hunters around.

Viewtiful Joe
Origin: Viewtiful Joe Series
Joe was sucked into the world of movies and became the Blockbuster Action star Viewtiful Joe! With stunning acrobatic techniques and trick photography - Joe should prove to be a cool addition to the game's cast.

Saki Omokane
Origin: Quiz Nanairo Dreams
Saki is another new Capcom character for us in the US. She's actually derived from a quiz game/dating sim. Saki is supposedly a normal 16 year old girl, but is actually a member of the International Earth Defense Force.

Kaijin no Soki
Origin: Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams
This is a character I'm unfamiliar with, but only because I haven't played the Onimusha series. Soki apparently possesses the dark power of the Oni. Expect some cool sword play from this character.

Frank West
Origin: Dead Rising
From the popular Capcom game Dead Rising, Frank West, Zombie photographer, brings his bombastic fighting style to this game. Oh, and he comes with an awesome attack where he stuffs a Sev Bot's head onto the enemy, in reference to the Sev Bot head easter egg in Dead Rising.

Origin: Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
This mech suit here comes from the Lost Planet franchise.

Origin: Ōkami
The finale boss of Okami is also the finale boss for Tatsunoko vs Capcom. This character isn't playable, most likely because it's going to be one of those sprawling large boss fights.

Tatsunoko Line-Up

Ken the Eagle
Origin: Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
The leader of the Gatchman group, Ken is the lead character for Tatsunoko's group of fighters. You might know this character better from the American adaptation of Gatchaman from "Battle of the Planets".

Jun the Swan
Origin: Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
The girl of the Gatchman group, Jun will be able to fight alongside her other fellow Gatchaman team mates in this game.

Joe the Condor
Origin: Ninja Science Team Gatchaman
Joe here joins Ken and Jun to round out of the Gatchaman line-up. You'll only find this character in Wii and not in the Japanese Arcade.

Origin: Neo-Human Casshern
Tetsuya Azuma is a cybernetic neoroider (Neo-Human). He transformed himself for the purpose of destroying robots that have taken over the world. Tetsuya is aided by his faithful cyborg dog Friender, who can transform into a jet, motorcycle, or submarine.

Origin: Tekkaman Space Knight
You might recognize Tekkaman from the american adaptation known as Technoman. If so, you might be asking why the different costume, with rainbow coloring. Well, this was Tekkaman's first incarnation as Tekkaman: Space Knight. The later series that was adapted to be Technoman was from the second Tekkaman series, Tekkaman Blade. You apparently are able to use both incarnations of the costume .

Origin: Hurricane Polymar
Takeshi Yoroi is Polymar's secret identity. He uses his special suit to fight crime. The suit is made of plastic memory, enabling it to assume any shape needed.

Origin: Yatterman
Calling himself Yatterman No 1, Gan Takada uses a weapon called a kendama, which he is able to use as a flail and grappling hook.

Origin: Karas
Karas protects a city that is inhabited by humans and Yokai (Japanese Spirits). Karas embodies the spirit of the city. Karas are suits of armor animated by human souls, and act as the city's appointed agents.

Origin: Yatterman
Doronjo is a villain of the Yatterman series, leading the hunt for the Dokuro Stone. Her associates Boyacky and Tonzura help Doronjo during special attacks.

Origin: Gyakunten! Ippatsuman
Ippatsuman fights for justice and brings his talents to Tatsunoko vs Capcom.

Gold Lightan
Origin: Golden Warrior Gold Lightan
This huge character fights to save the world from King Ibalda. A young boy, Hiro Taikai found a gold lighter - which fits in his pocket, but then can transform into a huge towering robot.

Hakushon Daimo
Origin: The Genie Family
A humerous Genie, who grants wishes to anyone to sneezes - and lives in a bottle with his genie daughter, who grants wishes to people who yawn. Sadly this character is the sole excluded character from the Japanese version of Tatsunoko vs Capcom. Legal rights prevented his trip over to the US. For anyone from Europe, you might know him Bob in a Bottle.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tatsunoko vs Capcom

I've slowly been hearing more and more about this game - but unsure what to make of it. Yes, it's one of those rare times where a company is making a concentrated effort to bring something Japanese-centric over to America, and not with great ease, either. See, Tatsunoko, an Anime Company, has obviously licenced many of it's series to different companies over seas. It's no trouble to have a big Tatsunoko/Capcom brawl over in Japan, where all the characters are legally under one tent. Yet try and bring that over to America, and you have a host of legal rights you have to confirm from various different companies. In fact - some characters aren't going to be available because the rights are so tangled up. That's not to say us Americans aren't going to get a good deal - as some newer characters have been added to make up for the missing ones, like Tekkaman Blade (known here as Technoman).

While this is all great, and I love that Capcom is putting to much effort into this game for us - I'm still left wondering wether to buy it. I see a list of probably over 20 characters, but my Marvel vs Capcom 2-spoiled brain keeps saying that's simply not enough, especially when I know so little about the Japanese characters appearing here.

That said, I've been watching the trailers, and the announcements of new characters being added - and it's looking better and better. I still haven't made up my mind wether to buy the game or not, but here are some of the trailers and videos I've seen so far.

This is the opening cinematic

Here's a video listing all the characters, with the game's theme song too

Here's game play, with Zero and Batsu vs Tekkaman and Ippatsuman

Here's gameplay of Condor and Swan vs Morrigan and Chun-Li

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dr. Slump

Akira Toriyama is one of the best and most talent Manga artists - with his classic work of Dragon Ball and art style of Dragon Quest, he's been slowly introduced and become familiar to us Americans.

Before Dragon Ball he was famous for another Manga gem: Dr. Slump. A humor strip - the series followed the adventures and exploits of Senbei Norimak (則巻千兵衛 Norimaki Senbee, "Seaweed-wrapped Rice cracker") and his robotic daughter Arale Norimaki (則巻アラレ Norimaki Arare, "Seaweed-wrapped Mini-rice cracker").

The strip is famous for it's juvinle humor (bathroom jokes) and references and in-jokes to popular culture. (At least during the time in 80s Japan. You'll notice a lot of Star Wars references, for example) Senbei is the beleaguered mad inventor of Penguin village. As per his name "Dr. Slump" he isn't the best inventor. Arale is by far his best creation - but even she's weird. The manga is extremely charming, even if it's humor is a bit juvenile, and I'd recommend it - especially to any Akira Toriyama fans who want to see his work before he made an even bigger hit with Dragon Ball. (Which, if you'll remember, is where he took many of his bathroom jokes before Dragon Ball turned into an action comic)

Here are some images I have of his art, and videos of the openings to the Anime series based on Dr. Slump.

This robot here is how Mr. Toriyama would frequently depict himself in the Manga.

Original Series Opening

The New Anime Series Opening

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Comic Review: Superman World of New Krypton #8

This issue was horrible. Utter garbage - for which I am the most surprised of anyone, given usually stellar creators behind this issue. James Robinson and Greg Rucka are both superb writers. They had been doing great stuff with the Superman Mythos - and World of New Krypton has been no exception, except for this issue. This series has been rather good, fleshing out the new and alien world Superman has temporarily decided to call home. While there are definitely alien concepts, like the Kryptonian Guild System and Military - it never bogged down the story of left us out of touch with what Superman was experiencing.

So, where did this issue go so wrong? The Thanagarians are the main trouble makers here. We spend half the issue from the Thanagarian commander's point of view, as they engage in a skirmish with the Kryptonian Guard. In what I can only assume was an attempt to give more flavor to the Thanagarians, every single word coming out of their mouths seemed to be a substitute word for something else. "Commander" is "Wing-Master", "Scum" is "Meat", ect. Sci-fi stories always have these kind of things, and they usually enrich the universe. In this case, I felt like I needed as translator just to understand what was even being said. "Wing-Master" and "Meat" might be easily inferred, but what about these list of words:

Osprey Unit Upper

Every single darn word out these bird-brain's mouths is another utterly incomprehensible phrase! If not for the solid art - I wouldn't have know what was going on at all! I admit, some of those words seemed to be used in the context of taking the Lord's name in vain - but how many gods are these Thanagarians swearing over?!

But, even figuring that out - I still don't know what the other words mean. Some seem to be military talk - but not any military that's ever been on Earth. I mean - what the heck is "Jammy"? Do you know? I sure as heck don't - and I doubt I'm alone in this.

The first page depicts the scattered com-talk of soldiers fighting a vicious battle. It's simply, completely, incompressible. Then, the "Wing-Master" orders the coms to be silent so only her voice could be heard. If only that meant we didn't have to sit for half the issue continuing to read this incompressible junk. Thank heaven Hawkman never talks like this.

The worst of it all - I know these writers can write diologe normally. The minute Superman and the Kryptonians enter the story, and start speaking, it's like breath of fresh air! I know they where attempting to give more flavor to the Thanagarians - but it failed miserably, and made this issue a complete waste. The new aliens who walk in on the Kryptonians at the end of the issue at least appear to be talking english. I know darn well the Thanagarians, and the writers, weren't speaking english themselves.

This issue is horrible. Flat out horrible.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Comic Review: Doom Patrol #3

The new Doom Patrol comic has gotten off to a somewhat shaky start. The plots have been very densely written, with a lot of pseudo-technical science talk to put Star Trek technobabble to shame. It's not an easy read - but it's very much worth the effort.

I've been quite pleased with this series so far, as it feels like I'm getting a modern day slice of the 60s Sci-fi comics. Weird "out of this world" threats plague the heroes - beginning with a wonderfully imaginative idea (in this case, a sentient black hole) and then building around that. Back in the 60s this kind of idea would have been flatly put out there, with truly misunderstood ideas of science facts as a way of explanation. Keith Giffen is putting in a lot more effort, in making these far-out concepts work more realistically, thus explaining the appearance and need for technobabble. Yet - in-between all this technobabble is a highly quirky and up to date stretching of science fact into science fiction. This sentient black hole, for instance, doesn't conform to the natural laws of science. Keith Giffen is basically taking into account real scientific facts, and gently pushing them to the side to get as his far-out idea to work. It's not his best skill, as a sentient black hole could be explained in an easier and less complex fashion - but I really appreciate the effort and am delighted to no end when I know what the heck he's talking about. This story, taking place at a Supercollider, is a prime example of something I've heard about on the news - where people have been fearful of that experiment generating a black hole. Real science tells us nothing of the sort would be generated by the supercollider, but it's such a wonderful idea that the Doom Patrol is suddenly called into deal with what is suppose to be the impossible.

Matthew Clark's art is really superb and well thought out. The designs of the characters are modern - but not dismissive of the kind of costumes they have worn before.

Now - the lengthy science explanations might be a downside, but there's also the mental science of the Doom Patrol team it's self - which is nicely utilized and examined throughout the issues. In this issue, for example, it's revealed that Mento in fact doesn't need his helmet to read minds - that it's in fact a decoy to hide the fact that he is always in people's minds. Giffen has tweaked him to be somewhat of a voyeur. This certainly makes him more creepy as a character - but it's par for the course for the Doom Patrol. These people are messed up. Giffen doesn't shy away from that fact, and in fact delves deeper into the true motivations of the characters. These characters sometimes too often appear like average super heroes. Changing Mento's history in such a way might be a bit off-putting to continuity fans, but it takes him from being a somewhat average super-hero into what the Doom Patrol members should always be: socially and mentally challenged misfits.

There is one more criticism of the over-all plot, as the Doom Patrol faces off against this sentient black hole - it's painfully obvious that the character's back and forth discussions with the black hole are the main point of the story. Action and fighting is thrown in a bit haphazardly to make it a real comic and not an entire discussion on the reality of the universe. Still - even with that fault, the fate for the Black Hole is more interesting than him being beaten back - as he's trapped in a human body, and appears to be going back home with the Doom Patrol to Oloong Island. This sentient black hole claims to be a scientist - so him going to the Island of crazy scientists seems oddly appropriate and charming.

Before I end this review - I have to talk about the Back-Up Metal Men comic. There are only 10 pages worth of the classic Giffen, Dematteis and Maguire creative team, but it's 10 of the most well used pages in comics. The funny and mundane adventures of the Metal Men is well suited for these creators, and it feels like the Metal Men are getting more character development within these 10 pages than in all of the last 8-Issue Metal Men mini-series. Each character is imbued with simple and base personalities, like Gold being a complete egotist, Lead being dumb, and Tin being nervous.; it all matches up nicely enough to previous incarnations. What I really enjoyed this issue was the focus on the newest team member Copper. She's the odd team member left out, being both new and highly forgettable, Giffen has taken that as a cue for her personality, where she is eager to please, but hardly noticed. Hopefully the other Metal Men will wise up and start to accept her more. It's funny when she's ignored - but that won't be funny forever.

A lot of people I've heard about seem to be buying this comic mainly because of the Metal Men back-up feature. While that is a great highlight of this issue - don't forget that the Doom Patrol is a great and interesting read it's self. I encourage anyone to at least try it. I for one am very much looking forward to seeing the sure to be changed relationship between Elasti-Girl and Mento next issue.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Funny Star Trek Images

I use to fiddle around with cropping images and making art for myself. This was several years ago, when I was much younger, so please forgive the poor resolution of the images. Anyway, here are some of my favorites that I created.

Dilbert and Company in Engineering on the Defiant

The Peanuts Gang Lost on the Bridge of Voyager

Garfield and Friends on the Bridge of the Enterprise-E

Samuri Pizza Cats - IN SPACE

Friday, October 2, 2009

Stargate Universe

The newest Stargate series, "Stargate Universe" premiered on the Sci-Fi channel. I've watched the Stargate series ever since it's first movie, to it's airing on Showtime, to it's eventual happy home on the Sci-Fi network, with Direct to DVD movies and second series Stargate Atlantis. So I'm pretty up to speed on everything that's gone before in the Stargate series. That said - I was pleasantly surprised that this series did not fall into the same cliche story settings that have frequently been used in the series thus far. I'm talking about how, frequently, the regular cast of SG-1 and Atlantis had unlimited resources and geniuses at their disposal - making the situations they faced more complicated, and technobabble-laced, than usually needed to be. That's what happens when the plot-line for a show goes on as long as this - it all starts to build up upon it's self until it collapses. If you don't find a way to clear the air, and make the plot-line fresh, the stories can become predictable and stale. Don't get me wrong, I loved SG-1 and Atlantis, but their adventures did seem to follow the set formula of having a situation, explaining the situation, and then eventually solving the situation.

Stargate Universe breaks out of that habit by making survival the situation - and not giving the heroes many resources to make that happen. This series is somewhat copying the plot of Star Trek Voyager, with a crew lost on a space ship out in distant space. Thankfully it's not a complete re-tread of Voyager - as there are, literally, no resources for this crew to depend on. I didn't even see a bathroom on this ship -- so while I expect they will eventually find some kind of comfort level, it won't be easy. Which is good, for us, as it gives us a much more character driven series. There obviously will be planet exploration - but the first episode is much more to do with keeping the few hours of air-supply going and not dying. Within the two-hour premiere that problem isn't even permanently solved.

The cast seems less defined that in previous Stargate shows, but that's good - as it gives this crew a sense of community. There isn't a huge unlimited amount of staff onboard - and I think popping in guest stars won't be immediately apparent, unless they are aliens. I remember how Stargate Atlantis also mimicked this lost in space routine their first season, being unable to contact Earth. Even during that first season there seemed to be an abundance of staff - and an abundance of resources and creature comforts. Stargate Universe is a much more stripped down version of that first season - which seems fresh and innovative where it could easily have become boring and predictable.

Lost in space might not be an original concept - but this series shows a lot of promise of doing it well. They also stole the plot of the Last Starfighter too - so you'd immediately think originality wasn't this show's strong suit. Perhaps it's not - but it seems like character and plot development is, giving us a rich and somewhat dubious cast and crew. On Atlantis, they made a point of having civilians working with the military. That soon became a lame plot-point, as the civilian scientists and characters worked just like the military characters. There are some good characters here, like the Senator's daughter, who truly are civilians on the ship, but seem like they are going to stand out as terrific characters to explore.

Also - they really should hang the main scientist, Dr. Rush, as soon as possible. His arrogance and stupidity really did get them into this situation. They truly did not need to go through that gate - and it could have been easy for the writers to make the decision, to go through the unexplored gate, the only option for survival. They instead opted for the more interesting direction - of making this purely the selfish decision on Dr. Rush's part. He might be the smartest man in the room - but he's also the one with the biggest target on his back, and with good reason.

I really urge you to try out the series. I say again, it's not doing anything innovative - but it's doing something right. A good start to the series.

Helpful Tools on the Internet

There are all sorts of cool tools available on the internet that I've always found handy. I thought I might share the ones I use. Post a comment if you have any helpful tools, or sites, you use yourself.
Anytime I need help, on any video game, I always check this place first. Not only does it have info, but also leads to Strategy Guides created by fans on-line for when you need in-depth help. Simply could not have won Half-Life 2 without it.
I know it's something you could do in your head if you put the effort in - but it helps to be able to get the answer to Percentages more quickly - like to see how much you'd save with 20% off.
This is a great place whenever you have the need to translate some text from a foreign site. It only does up to 500 words - but that can be very helpful when searching blind through an untranslated site.

Currency Converter
This is invaluable when buying anything in a foreign currency. I in particular use it to figure out how much I'm paying for something in Yen when buying stuff from Japan.

Learn Japanese
I've been very curious about learning Japanese, but don't have the money right now to take a class. This might not necessarily teach you the language, but I found it as a nice place to see what I'm potentially getting myself into. It also shows how to write Japanese characters, which I think is great, as I've never seen information on how to learn how to do it.
I actually use this site more to check when my spelling is bad. But it's also good for getting definitions for words and such.
I use this place whenever I need to find out the schedule for movies at the theater.