Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I finished 20th Century Boys! My review...

Some spoilers in this...
Just finished 20th Century Boys. Man that got a bit hard-going!
It's a fantastic story - more like a novel really, as there is so much to it - and it's a fantastic achievement by Naoki Urasawa, but it is slightly flawed, I think. It's like watching the best movie ever, but it's 10 hours long - it's just a bit too much. It really doesn't need to be 22 volumes long!!
It starts to go off in tangents, some good (the new schoolgirl who gets taken to Friend Land) and some a bit boring (Frog's story). One of the worst things is how it 'loses' characters - so Mariah Chan goes missing for sooo long, and (big spoiler in rest of paragraph, just in case you decided to read this) obviously, Kenji, who you know is gonna come back at some point, takes way too long to come back. And having gone in and out of some really tedious events, why don't we see what Kenji got up to - and, more importantly, how he survived the explosion?
As the book was coming to an end, I kept thinking 'how are they gonna wrap this up in just a few chapters?', and i don't really feel it was very satisfying. Having taken several chapters to tell a minor story, going round and round in circles, it was disappointing that the ending was crammed into a handful of chapters. There are some fantastic characters in the story, and I feel they got a bit lost along the way.
The other problem of it being so long is that you start to get ahead of Urasawa a bit. You knooow that certain characters are gonna come back, you start to think 'well why'd he do that that way?' and there are other things, like I was convinced Mariah is Maruo's son, and I was waiting for that revelation that never came.
But all in all, it's a fantastic read, not perfect, but really worth a look. It reminded me of Lost and I think it's actually more satisfying than Lost, in that you get a lot of revelations that make sense - how did Donkey die? what happened in the Science Room? - whereas Lost's revelations (well, the ones they bothered to answer) just come out of nowhere, really.
I give 20th Century Boys an 8 out of 10!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's not all bad though

Hmm I still do love comics. Can't forget about all the classic old ones... They'll always be there.
I've been enjoying reading an Alpha Flight forum on Comic Book Resources, where one guy reviews every issue and people then chip in with their thoughts and comments. And my gosh it's a forum with no bitchery or haters!!!
I'm so fond of Alpha Flight, so many good memories. And reading the forum makes it clear how ground-breaking the series was. I really do feel lucky to have been a comic fan in the 80s.
It's funny though - I was looking at a retelling of the Power Pack story - a recent Day One comic - with credits to Louise Simonson and June Brigman. That was another classic, and it's so weird to think they are retelling a story from my youth... Almost as if they've given up on coming up with anything new...?!

The sorry state of comics

Some news reports this week on how comic sales are plummeting...and some comic creators have also been speaking out on how they think comics are reeeally bad at the moment.
Well I have to agree really. I've got money to buy them, I love comics, and yet there is NOTHING out there which I am compelled to buy. Marvel and DC have made it easy for me to drop all their titles. The only comics that made me go to the comic shops were Walking Dead and Powers. Powers has been off the boil ever since it went to Marvel and Walking Dead has been dull and boring since the characters left the prison in issue 48. i might still collect them in trades, but floppies are dead to me, which is a shame.
So many bad comics out there. I read the latest New Avengers (free at work)and my god, when will Bendis give up on this interminable magic storyline? Who gives a crap? There's a spread in the issue of classic Bendis dialogue between Hellstorm, Strange and Voodoo and I almost lost the will to live...
The new X-Men title is beyond dire. It's like some generic superhero title with the X name slapped on it. And 13 year old Jubilee is now suddenly a busty woman, while Storm has decided to walk around with her tits hanging out of her suddenly slutty costume.
I was really looking forward to the new Zatanna series, but it's more zzzzzZatanna. So dull, no interesting supporting cast, no interesting villains and Zatanna's costume is terrrrible - her huge back-breaking bust jutting out of her costume - jesus.
While I'm moaning about comics, I've got the 'Wolverine and the XMen' series on in the background. It's quite good, but it irks me so much that they've sold out the XMen and titled it that way!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

20th Century Boys

Am currently plowing through the epic manga 20th Century Boys and blimey it's good.
I'd tried it before and failed to get into it - partly because it's so intricate, and partly because I wasn't too keen on Naoki Urasawa's sketchy art - but after reading and thoroughly enjoying his Pluto book, I'm so glad I gave 20th CB another go.
It follows the story of a group of kids who came up with a fun bunch of end-of-the-world prophecies in the 70s and when they are in their 30s (the story jumps around in time) these prophecies start to come true. Plus there's a nasty cult of 'Friends' and it turns out that the eeevil leader has a connection to the original kids...
I've read the first 10 volumes so far...and it's unbelievably impressive stuff. You get to know some of the characters inside-out and there are some truly shocking developments.
There are a couple of downsides though. I was reeeally shocked to learn that the story lasts for 26 volumes - that's a whole lot of story! In a way it's great, because a lot of the characters are loveable, and you just don't want to leave them (although having said that, some of them do go missing for volumes at a time, which is a shame). But sometimes it feels like the story has peaked and you feel 'where can they go from here'... It's weird to think I'm only a third of the way through... I kind of wish it'd end sooner! I'm starting to feel it's being spun out a little...and getting a bit tired of some of the fake-out revelations of the Friends' leader's identity.
But now that I'm getting very disillusioned with Marvel and DC comics, it's nice to sink your teeth into this kind of manga, which is created by such a talented writer/artist. His talent is absolutely breathtaking.
Oh a couple of related points - there's been a movie of 20CB, but man it's bad!!! Unimaginative and quite badly acted, not recommended at all!
And finally, I'm really glad I haven't come across a spoiler as to the identity of the Friend's leader yet - I'm quite shocked actually! Hope I don't find out before I read it.
Anyway, if you want to check out this amazing story, you can read it online here.

Standards are slipping!!

I'm disturbed to notice that newspaper articles, TV news and internet news have started to quote people's comments from Twitter! What the? I mean, c'monnn, that's hardly top-notch journalism now, is it??
If you write a news-piece, you go for a statement from someone, and that person thinks it through. Twitter is just people's random bullshit ramblings!
And since things like Facebook and Twitter are still relatively new, I think we still don't know how to deal with them. Is it a bit of fun, or is it acceptable to use them as evidence in work sackings or even in police investigations??
I just don't know...
All I know is how much I loathe Twitter. I love Facebook, but Twitter? No! It's as if the whole world suddenly became superstars and we suddenly are expected to give a crap what mundane things people are doing...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Movie review - Mother

I’ve been really underwhelmed by a lot of movies this year. A-Team was awful. I needed a wee throughout Inception, which ruined it. I wanted to punch Michael Cera throughout the entirety of Scott Pilgrim... But I saw one movie last night which really did blow me away – so much so that I’m actually still reeling from it... Still thinking about it...
It’s Mother, a Korean movie by Joon Ho-Bong, the man behind the very cool Memories of Murder and the amazing The Host.
Mother follows the story of an over-protective single mother in her 50s who looks after her young adult son who has a slight mental handicap. One night, the son goes home from a bar and bumps into a young girl who runs away from him. The next day, the girl is found murdered, and the son is arrested when some circumstantial evidence is found by the body. It’s then up to the mother to find out who really murdered the girl – and this involves delving into the girl’s secret life and into the lives of the towns-people.
After a really really bizarre start (the mother dancing in a large field – which does make sense later on in the film), the movie quickly builds the characters and then becomes immersed in an utterly absorbing murder mystery. There are some truly shocking twists and turns and it turns into an incredibly emotional story. Some of the revelations the characters have to deal with are unbelievably dark and some of the plot developments cause a few ‘oh no, don’t do that’s...! And some of the final revelations – and the way they are revealed – will stay in my mind for a long time to come...
The acting in this movie is breathtaking. I want them all to win Oscars! The mother is captivating, really moving. You feel for her at every twist and turn – even when she does the wrong thing. You understand her and you understand why she's doing it. The young son is brilliant (so convincing – and actually, he’s played by a model-type actor from Korea). And the young son’s reckless friend, who becomes embroiled in the story, has such presence... A force of nature on the screen. Move over Tom Cruise.
All in all, simply brilliant. A really clever movie, and you just don’t see any of the devlopments coming! See it if you can!!!

Spandex interview

First part of an interview with Martin about Spandex Comic on the Broken Frontier comic website! Enjoy! Part 2 will have exclusive info on the next few issues of Spandex!!