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Monday, November 22, 2010

Once More With Movies: Buffy Gets A Reboot

In case you didn't catch the Buzz of the Day, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been confirmed for a reboot film.  As I am typing this, thunder is booming ominously in the background.  Whether it is a portent or merely an interestingly timed result of Michigan weather pattern, only time will tell.

That's right, you read that first sentence correctly.  There will be a Buffy reboot.  If that shocked you, than brace for impact: Joss Whedon is not involved.  Buffy's new writer will be Whit Anderson, of whom I honestly don't know enough about to comment.  Joss Whedon has already reacted to the news.

I really have mixed feelings about this.  At this point, there just doesn't seem to be enough information for meaningful speculation.   In her interview with the Los Angeles Times, Anderson says that "While this is not your high-school Buffy, she’ll be just as witty, tough and sexy as we all remember her to be."  This could mean that Buffy won't be back in high school for the reboot, but in context with the rest of the article, it could also mean simply that it won't be the same Buffy you remember from when you were in high school.  Not exactly a crammed full of information, are you quote?  At least it says "just as" instead of "even more."  That's a good sign.

The popular TV show ran for seven seasons and was itself a reboot of a far less successful 1992 film, so this film will actually be a reboot of a reboot and will be joining Spider-man in his tangled web of reboots.  The TV series also spun-off a continuation in the form of the comic series Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, so people who want more Buffy but not without Whedon ought to check that out if they haven't already.


So, because I love bullet-points so much, some things to speculate about despite my assertion that there's not enough info:
  • The Setting: I guess I already covered this above, but still.  Will it be high school, college, or neither?  While the original concept was based on the motif of "high school is hell," the TV series hit on all of these times in Buffy's life.  I personally think high school would be the most logical choice, but, hey, you never know.
  • The Friends: will the Scoobies (Buffy's friends/side-kicks) be in the film, with new interpretations of Willow and Xander, or will Buffy have new friends?  Over the course of the series, the Scoobies became extremely popular among fans in their own right, so will they be carried over?
  • The Cast: this one's pretty obvious.  Since Whedon's not involved, we probably shouldn't expect any of the TV series' cast to return either.  There's also the fact that the series ended seven years ago and the cast has continued aging regardless.
  • The Villains: will they be reinterpretations of villains from the series or all-new?
  • The Love-Interest: will there be one?  Will he be undead?  Will he be all-new or Angel?  Or would they be so radical as to make it someone from the series who isn't Angel?
  • The Vampires: will they return to the campy masks, or-- wait, stupid question.  Here's a better one: how will their appearances differ from their televised counter-parts?  Will their abilities, weaknesses, and lore be different?
  • The Story: will it be new or from the series?  While there are plenty of interesting story arcs in the series to choose from, I rather doubt they'll go that route.  Many of them built up over a long period of time and would be difficult to introduce new viewers to, like the Dark Willow Saga.
Those are what I'm wondering about for now.  I'd say more, but I need more time to process this and figure out whether I should be afraid, excited, or both.  At this point, I really don't know how to react, which is probably the proper reaction.

Here are the relevent links once more:

Announcement!

Interview with a Writer!
The Creator's Response!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Remember When SG-1 did that Spoof Episode: SGU Season 1 Retrospective (Also: Guess Who Won The Hugo)

First of all, the Hugo awards have come and gone and I never said anything so: congratuations on getting two "Best Graphic Story" Hugos in two years, Girl Genius!  Keep up the amazing work!  I sadly was unable to complete the Captain Britain and MI13 post before the winners were announced, and should apparently never mention what I'm planning on writing a post about in advance because it never happens.  I am still going to write the point, but don't expect it soon.

Anyway, I've been wanting to compare Stargate Universe with the Stargate SG-1 episode "200" since the series premier, so I figured I may as well do this before I catch up on season two, which just recently started.  "200" the two hundreth episode of Stargate SG-1 spoofs many different science-fiction cliches, tropes, and trends, and I shall be going through the episode looking for ones that have been used in season 1 of SGU, and some SG-1 and Atlantis as well (not all of those, though. that would make this way too long).  This will be done completely from memory, so if I miss any, feel free to post a comment.

WARNING: There will be spoilers and I shall be poking gentle fun at series that I love.  People who that everything seriously all the time be warned!

Let us begin!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Update Time: Read Comics in Public Day and More!

Along time ago (April), and far, far away (Japan), I posted about how excited I was that both Captain  Britain and MI13 and Girl Genius were nominated for Hugo awards and that I would ramble about both series "sometime in the near future."  While I did do the Girl Genius post, I must shamefully admit to not having the Captain Britain post completed in a timely matter.  Fortunately, the Hugo awards ceremony isn't until Sunday, so I'll hopefully have the post done by then.

Anyway...

You may of heard that Saturday was International Read Comics in Public Day, a day dedicated to, well, unashamedly reading comics in public.  Despite being too lazy to blog about it (I was working on the Captain Britain thing, I swear!) I happily participated:


The website DC Women Kicking A** challenged women to participate and created a "Women Read Comics in Public" Tumblr "dedicated to showing off the passion and diversity of female comic readers." If you have any such pictures, they're currently accepting pictures taken anytime.

So, that's it for the quick update!  I should probably get back to packing for tonight's flight back to reality papers school!  Before I go, here are a few other geeky highlights from this past weekend:
  • A fifty-something-year-old lady walking towards the restrooms backpedals and exclaims "Oooh, Marvel!"  She picks up a book and flips through it for about thirty seconds before putting it back, telling me that Marvel's her favorite, and completing her journey to the restroom.
  • A little boy carrying around his Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle happy meal toy and treating it as his Most Favored Toy of the hour.  Aww...
  • Having a nice conversation with my nine-year-old brother about Godzilla movies.  As in the old Japanese ones.  His favorite is the original one.  There is hope for the future!
Later, folks, and hopefully I'll have something more interesting to say next time!

Friday, August 27, 2010

What's That at the Top of the Screen?

That's right, folks, we now have a banner!  Thanks to the lovely Katie Cook for allowing me to use her artwork!  Check out her stuff at http://katiecandraw.typepad.com.

Geeky News: Return of Wraith Squadron!

Quick bit of news that has filled me with utter joy: Wraith Squadron is back!  Aaron Allston is going to write another X-wing book focusing on the Wraiths and Del Rey is aiming for a 2012 release date.

This news fills me with glee.  The X-wing books are the reason that Stackpole and Allston are two of my favorite Star Wars authors, and the Wraith books are some of my favorite in the series.  Currently my only question about this book is when it will be set, but I'll be happy no matter what the answer.

Add this to the news that Timothy Zahn, my other favorite Star Wars author, is writing a sequel to Allegiance that's slated to come out next year, and Ryorin is a very, very happy geek.

I'm going to go do a few back-flips and burst into the Ewok celebration song now, if you don't mind.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Alas, Poor Mayday: The End of Spider-Girl as We Know It

While this isn't one of the posts I mentioned last time, I thought I would take the time to babble about one of my favorite superheroes, Spider-Girl! Alternate-future Daughter of Spider-Man!  Marvel's Longest-running Female-lead in a Comic Series to Date!  Reason for the Creation of the MC2 Universe!  Soon-to-be Replaced Character!




Sorry, Mayday, but it seems your time as the friendly neighborhood web-swinger is over!  Y'know that new on-going Spectacular Spider-Girl series that I mentioned before?  The one I was really, really looking forward to?  It was changed from on-going to a four-issue limited series before the release of the first issue, and tomorrow (or today, depending on your time-zone), the one-shot comic Spider-Girl: The End will be released.  According to Tom DeFalco her co-creator and only writer in her thirteen-year history, this one shot will end all of May "Mayday" Parker's adventures for the foreseeable future.  Not only that, but it seems that AraƱa, a spider-themed super-teen from the main Marvel continuity will be taking over the title of Spider-Girl with a new series this November (here's info on the first issue).  Not that I have anything against Anya, but she's just not Mayday.

Since she seems to be going away for a while, now seems like a good a time as any for me to ramble about one of my favorite superheroes: 

This is neither the first time Spider-Girl's been canceled, nor the first time it was supposed to be permanent.  After an eight-year run, her first series was supposed to end with her death and the destruction of her home universe, a plan that was fortunately scrapped and I really hope wasn't revived for this issue (since Tom said that she may be brought back in the future, I don't think it was, but in comics you never know).  Her second on-going series, Amazing Spider-Girl, was canceled after thirty issues and her Spectacular Spider-Girl back-up feature in Spider-Man Family and Web of Spider-Man ran for twelve issues.  All together, Spider-Girl fans have nearly one hundred and fifty issues to horde cherish.  I actually feel kind of lucky to have come so late to the scene; most of Spidey's adventures are still new to me and waiting for me to read them for the first time.

I first ran across Mayday pretty much by accident.  When a friend introduced me to superhero comics Ultimate Spider-Man was one of the first series he loaned me and I used Wikipedia to look up information on the different versions of the characters (a dangerous technique that should not be employed by anyone who doesn't want a face-load of spoilers), and thus I learned of Spider-Girl's existence (y'know, the fictional kind).  Sometime later, I stumbled upon a volume of Amazing Spider-Girl in a friendly-neighborhood bookstore and flipped through, eventually buying it and becoming completely hooked on Mayday's "old school" style adventures.

Despite the similarity of their code-names and costumes, there are quite a few differences between May and her father Peter.  Let's look at a few of them:
  • While Peter was a constantly bullied by jocks for being a geek in high school, Mayday is both smart and athletic, being both a top student and a star basketball player.  She's also very popular and close friends with geeks and jocks alike.
  • Unfortunately for her, though, May did not inherit her father's ability with a camera and her photography is terrible.
  • Unlike Spider-Man, Spider-Girl gets mostly good press, even from J. Jonah Jameson, out-spoken Spidey-hater (some of you might remember him as that angry shouting guy from the movies).
  • May's parents know all about her powers and secret identity.  It's not like it would be easy to hide: "Look dear, some girl about our daughter's age is swinging around town on webs, wearing something that looks a lot like your old costume!  Boy, I wish May was here to see this instead of having to run off on some mysterious errand!  I wonder who this 'Spider-Girl' could be?"  Some things are too much of a stretch even for comic books.
  • Like Peter, Mayday became a hero and continues to dawn her mask because of her deeply ingrained sense of responsibility.  Unlike Peter, however, she does it so that no one will be hurt because she could have done something and didn't, not because someone already has.
Don't think that the list above means that the series is angst-less, though!  May is still a Parker and she inherited the Parker Luck: her secret identity wreaks utter havoc on her private life.  If she's battling it out with Crazy Eight or some other super-baddie, you can bet her friends will think she ditched them for something stupid and that she needs to straighten out her priorities.  Also, her parents knowing that she's Spider-Girl and her parents liking it are two very different things.  She still sometimes has to web-swing behind her parents backs.  And let's not forget love triangles; it seems it's impossible to be a Parker without them.  So, yes, Spider-Girl does have angst, though neither the same type as Spider-Man nor as much.

Even with the obligatory Spider-hyphen-angst, the series brings back some of the techniques and feel of the Silver Age of Comics, and is-- dare I say it-- fun.  The series has a lighter, more all-ages tone than a lot of comics out today, and I at least find it a refreshing series.  Growing up with manga, I have no problem with the "decompression" that's so popular in today's comics, but there's something refreshing about fast-moving plots.

Now that it's past midnight here, I guess I should get back to the topic at hand.  Here is a quote from the end of Tom DeFalco's interview with Newsarama:
"No one can truly predict the future. Is it possible that Mayday will return in a few years? I guess so. If I were to bet on it, I’d say one of our current readers will eventually grow up, break into the business and be the one who revamps Spider-Girl for a whole new generation," DeFalco said. "As far as I’m concerned, I truly believe that this will be the last time I ever write Spider-Girl."
Spider-Girl is coming to an end, but this that doesn't mean that Spider-Girl: The End has to mean "good-bye forever," though it is certainly the end of an era.  I can always hope that someday Spider-Girl will return for more adventures.
I'm not writing this to accuse Marvel of conspiracy against things I like or to tell everyone to hunt down this series and make it your favorite so it will be brought back.  I just want to babble a bit about something I like and to thank Tom for all his hard work over the years.  Also, it's not to late to check out this series for the first time; the first Spider-Girl series is being released in "digests" (collections slightly taller than a standard volume of manga) and Amazing and Spectacular are both available in trade paper-backs.  Check it out.  It might not be for everyone, but maybe you'll like it, and just maybe you'll gain a new favorite.

So, until next time, folks!

Make Mine Mayday!

Oh, and here are the links to the two interviews with Tom DeFalco again.  'Night, all!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SHE LIVES! or What Ryorin Has Been Up To

I seem to have fallen into The Pit Of No Posts again since returning to the U.S.  I have been catching up on wide variety of excellent books and television, as well as the whole of life as general, but I haven't forgotten the Computer Cosmos (or the wonder of bullet points) completely.  Here are a few plots to conquer the world things that I have planned for the foreseeable future:
  • I have been reading the books from the Jawas Read Too! Summer of Series Reading Challenge, as mentioned here, I just haven't been doing so well on the discussion part.  I shall shortly post some thoughts on June and July's series.  There will be one post per series, hopefully going up within the next few days.
  • I am still planning on rambling on about Captain Britain and MI13 as mentioned here.  It will be up before the Hugo winners are announced.  Really.  I just need to reread it a few more times... yeah...
  • The two Syfy shows Warehouse 13 and Eureka are having crossover episodes this week.  This may cause me to be a bit more distracted, but hopefully I'll be able to work my way out of my happy daze and post a bit about it.
I am planning on more posts than the ones listed so far, but there is other writing that I've finally had a chance to do, so hopefully I'll be able to strike a balance where I'm doing a bit of both kinds of writing, but that may not be soon, so posts may be a bit short for a while.  While I will be doing my best to pull myself out of The Pit, I would greatly appreciate any ladders anyone feels like throwing me in the form of comments.

Hopefully my next post will be written when I'm less tired and can think of more bullet points.  Or at least have the energy to comment on Ryan Reynolds costume in the Green Lantern movie:


 ...but then again, everyone else seems to have covered it, so perhaps it's just as well I'm so out of it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jawa's Read Too Summer Series Challenge

 In case you've been wondering about the banners at the top and the left of the page, I signed up for the Jawas Read Too Summer Challenge.

The challenge is to read one series a month through the summer, and there will be discussion about the series every week.

Since I'm going to be busy in May reading New Jedi Order and catching-up on other books, I signed up for June, July, and August:

JUNE CHALLENGE: The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin
  1. Wizard of Earthsea
  2. The Tombs of Atua
  3. The Farthest Shore

JULY CHALLENGE: Vatta's War by Elizabeth Moon
  1. Trading in Danger
  2. Marque and Reprisal
  3. Engaging the Enemy
  4. Command Decision
  5. Victory Conditions

AUGUST CHALLENGE: Inda Quartet by Sherwood Smith
  1. Inda
  2. Fox
  3. King's Shield
  4. Treason's Shore
...Why, yes, I did copy-and-paste that list from the Jawas Read Too website.

Anyway, I'm really excited about this; I've been meaning to read Earthsea and to check-out Elizabeth Moon's books for a while now.  This looks like it'll be a lot of fun, and I encourage anyone with a smattering of interest and time to join in.  Here's the sign-up form.

Anyway, I need to finish packing.  Later!

    It's Still Going!

    Remember that time I said "hey, guys! Book Love Affair's havin' a nifty lookin' book giveaway oh, wait, never mind"?  It turns out I was right the first time.  I double checked with the one who runs the blog, and it's going 'til May 8th, so you all still have a chance to win if you sign-up.

    I corrected that other post (again), now go check out the giveaway if you haven't already.

    Girl Genius: Agatha Heterodyne and the Return of the Hugo Award!

    Alright: finals are done, I've had some more coffee, and Jethro Tull's playing. Let's get this started:

    Adventure! Romance! MAD SCIENCE! These are the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little girl the story of Agatha Heterodyne: Girl Genius!

    As I've mentioned previously, Girl Genius, comic/webcomic series by Phil and Kaja Foglio (colors by Cheyenne Wright), has been nominated once more for the Hugo Awards. This is a Big Deal. Last year Girl Genius won the first Hugo for the "Best Graphic Story" category, and when I say first, I mean ever. This year it's back with Volume 9, Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm:


    Please excuse me for a moment as my joy demands to be released: Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

    Ahem.

    Anyway, it is a world ruled by Mad Science! Failed experiments of mad scientists (more commonly known as "Sparks") wander the earth, dirigibles roam the skies, and mechanical "clanks" and Frankenstein-monster-like "constructs" are a common site. This is a world with lost cities, talking cats, rules of royal succession altered to account for reanimation, traveling theater companies that aren't quite what they seem, and cream pies with a strangely soothing effects. This world of brilliant color is also a world of many, many questions. And, of course, regularly twisted laws of science. It's a wacky adventure story (filled with romance and Mad Science too, of course...) set in a wacky, yet amazingly complex world, populated by amazingly fun characters and amazingly ridiculous machines.
    Writer and co-creator Kaja Folio accidentally coined the term "Gaslamp Fantasy" to describe this world, and it fits perfectly. It takes the steampunk aesthetic, adds gobs of Mad Science and elements from fifties-style pulp sci-fi (think "Captain Proton" from Star Trek: Voyager) and buckets of Vernian influence, mix in liberal doses of humor and great characters, sprinkle in just the amount of explanation about the world and it's history, and then hand it over to the colorist for the final touch. For a simplified version of this recipe, see the top of the page (you know, the part that starts with "Adventure!" and then mentions "Romance!").  At ten-and-a-half volumes, this series is going strong, and I really don't see it slowing down anytime soon with so many questions left unanswered (I'm not going to try to list them off; you'll have to read the series and see for yourself)!

    The story focuses on Agatha, a, well, a Girl Genius. A young student who can never get her clanks to work, she... well, she turns out to have a lot more to her than anyone thought. She ends up on a grand adventure spanning, airship cities, maniacal circuses (of doom!), insane talking castles, theater, and situations that only a good death ray (or a carousel) can solve, to avoid being manipulated or killed. Or turned into a "spunky girl sidekick."

    Hi-jinx ensues, and it brought friends.
    Agatha herself is an incredibly fun character, willing to tackle challenges even when her concentration is inhibited at the beginning. What's she do when she's mugged? She hits the attacker with a bottle. And when she's given the impossible task of cleaning the lab before the Baron arrives for a surprise visit in half an hour? She does it. After the story really starts, well, then she goes from great to incredible. As for the rest of the cast, it's tons of fun and filled with great characters. From the lazy Krosp, the Emperor of all cats, to the fun-loving warrior Zeetha, lost princess of the Lost City of Skifander, to insane pirate Bangladesh Dupree to Baron Wulfenbach, the tyrant with very good reasons for his actions, to... well, you get the idea.

    I adore Girl Genius. The characters, the world, the technology, the mysteries, the humor, the art, the visual gags ("Turnips R Us"), the massive eyebrows... the concepts are great and the execution is wonderful, and they get extra points for pulling off a fun love triangle without angst. Now, that's awe-inspiring.  This is a genuinely fun series that I highly recommend to all, though I must add that the Foglios have self-rated the series PG-13.

    I really doubt that I can do the plot justice (at least not without heaps of spoilers and few more weeks of editing), so lucky for us all the Book Smugglers posted their review of the first three chapters less than twenty-four hours ago.  Check it out; maybe the review and my rambling combined can come close to doing this lovely series justice.

    Girl Genius is available to read both in print and as a free online webcomic, updating Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. If you're reading this you have internet access and thus no excuse not to check this series out, and if you're not pulled in by the end of the first chapter, you still aren't off the hook. The first chapter's good, in the second chapter it gets even better, and chapter three is when it gets really, really fun.  The series in completely in color with the exception of the first chapter, which is scheduled to be re-released in color soon.  There are currently nine volumes in print, with another volume-and-a-half available for reading online:



    Note to self: add the color version of Volume 1 to my birthday list.

    For more fun, there's also Girl Genius Radio Theater, which is a pod cast of two comedic three-part episodes and one promo, done in the style of an Olde Tyme radio serial.  Oh, and the "Elegant and Finely Crafted Link" phase is commonly used at the Girl Genius website, something that should give you the tiniest taste of the Foglios' brilliance.

    No, I really can't praise them enough.

    Now allow me to leave you all with Phil and Kaja's acceptance speech for last year's Hugo Award:


    Go read.  Now.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    So, this isn't about Girl Genius...

    IMPORTANT NOTE: I was right the first time.  The Giveaway is still going on till May 8.  Feel free to join in!

    ... but Book Love Affair's having had a book giveaway (that's the link to it, by the way) to celebrate having 250 followers.  Two winners were randomly selected, yesterday (it ended early.  Twelve hours before I wrote this post.  Now I feel bad...)  There were ten books to choose from and one "other" option for when you signed up.  I picked Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire, because this review at Jawas Read Too made it look to cool not to look into; if I don't win I didn't win, but I'll probably buy the book anyway.  It looks that fun.

    Anyway, next post really will be about Girl Genius, but I had to spread the joyous news of a free book opportunity, and sadly didn't realize it was too late until after this post... but, on the bright side, I got to share news about a nifty-looking book I just found out about and I learned to check other blogs more often, so it's not all bad!  Go, positive thinking!

    Edit: this post has been altered due to the contest ending early.  As in, before I wrote this post.  Sorry... but that book still looks pretty darn interesting. 
    2nd Edit:  I mixed up a tweet about a different book giveaway with one about the one mentioned here.  I'm not going to rewrite this post again, but I added the note at the top and will write another post about this... after the Girl Genius one.  Any way, I got conformation from Book Love Affair that the contest is indeed still going on before adding more notes to this post.

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Conflict of Hugo Proportions: Brian Versus Agatha!

    I am feeling conflicted.

    Earlier today, I was looking at the news on Marvel's website when, lo and behold, I saw this!

    Captain Britain and MI13 is up for the "Best Graphic Story" Hugo award for it's third volume "Vampire State", in which Brian (aka Captain Britain) and his stalwart cohorts fight vampire.  Who live in a castle.  On the moon.

    This news filled me joy.  The world was filled with chocolate and rainbows, the birds joined me in song, and I promptly got a parody of Captain Planet's theme song stuck in my head ("Captain Britain!  He's a hero!  He'll take pollution down to zero because-he-was-a-Knight-of-Pendragon-and-that's-what-they-do-not-just-because-I-can't-think-of-an-other-line-really.")

    So I decided to check out the Hugo Awards' official website and see what Brian was up against:

    Girl Genius volume 9

    And I stared.

    Why does this awesome news make me conflicted?  I love Captain Britain and MI13, I really do.  I think it a horrible shame that it was canceled.  It would be wonderful if it got a Hugo.

    But I absolutely love Girl Genius.  It may be my single favorite American comic series.  I was overjoyed last year when it was nominated for the category and was overwhelmed with happiness once again when it won, becoming the first graphic novel to win a Hugo.

    And now if one wins, the other doesn't.

    Fortunately, I'm not part of Worldcon and I won't have to choose between the two of them.  As such, I can take comfort in the fact that I love two of the five nominees for the category and can root for both of them, and that the nominations alone ought to bring attention to both books.

    I guess my internal conflict, then, is not which to root for, but which I would rather have win: the winner from last year or the superheroes that were tragically canceled.

    But when I really think about it, it doesn't matter.  I'm happy that both were nominated (and that Fables was, too, but I haven't read that volume yet).  I'll be happy with either one winning.

    So, in honor of these two wonderful comic series being nominated, I shall follow up this rant with one gushing about Girl Genius (which I've been planning on doing anyway) and then another on Captain Britain and MI13.  As the previous post states, I'm rather busy at the moment, so I'm not sure when I'll have these posts completed, but it'll be in the near future.

    Good luck to all the Hugo nominees!  May the Force/Spark/Self-confidence-that-now-fuels-your-powers be with you!

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Absence and Other Blogs To Distract You With

    I had it all planned out.  I would post at least once a week.  The Spider-man post would be a buffer, and maybe split into two parts because it was so long.  Then I got impatient and posted it early and in one piece.

    No problem, I thought.  I've got one, two, make that at least seven rants nearly fully formed and rolling around in my head waiting for me to sit down and write them.  It shouldn't be too hard to find the time to sit down and pound them out, right?

    Wrong.

    I didn't bet on my final project taking-up so much time and I haven't posted in over a week.  Thus this post, to break the pattern.  It was originally going to be about webcomics, but that will have to wait.

    The project is due on Friday and next week I have tests and packing and various other hi-jinx to take care of.  And then there will be a week of more hi-jinx and travel and possibly anthropomorphic mice before an intercontinental flight.  So, I don't know when I'll be able to post next.  Hopefully this weekend, but I wouldn't bet the frozen, snowy acres that would be farm in a warmer, more southerly place on it.

    So, without further ado, let me point you to a few other geeky and entertaining blogs:
    • Club Jade - A blog run mainly by women and named after Mara Jade Skywalker, a character from the Star Wars Expanded Universe (or, in layman's terms, the books and stuff).  Lot's of interesting news, reviews, and articles pertaining to Star Wars and other science-fiction goodness.
    • Jawas Read Too - A book review blog, covering all sorts of genres and run by one person who loves both reading and Star Wars.  There's a good amount of science-fiction and fantasy in here, but, as I said, there are a good number of other genres as well.
    • The Adorkable - A Star Wars blog.  Do I sense a pattern here?  This blog covers a variety of things, from reviews to editorials to caption contests.  Some very interesting articles here.
    • Fantastic Fangirls - Believe it or not, this blog is about comics, not Star Wars.  Four women who love comics and possess different tastes and opinions writing about comics.  Reviews, challenges, discussion, insight, this blog has a lot of interesting articles and presents interesting perspectives.  And one of there challenges inspired this post.
    • Wormhole Riders - A news blog about Stargate, Farscape, Sanctuary, and other wonderful sci-fi franchises.  But mainly those ones.  And connected ones.  They do interviews, reviews, and convention coverage and are all-in-all awesome people.
    Now, if you'll excuse my obvious attempt to divert your attention away from my lack of rambling (is it working?), I have a project to revise.  Again.

    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    Brand New Movie Franchise: Spidey Gets a Reboot. Again.

    As You may have picked-up on from previous posts, I am rather attached to Spider-man.  Because of that, I have a lot to say about this topic and this post is kind of long.  Please bare with me and feel free to get a snack at the intermission.  Thank you.

    For those of you who didn't hear back in January, Spider-man, quite possibly the most popular comic-book movie franchise around, is getting a reboot.  That's right, folks, the fourth movie starring the world's favorite arachnid-themed costumed hero will ignore the previous three and will have a completely new director and cast.

    The main reason for this change is apparently director Sam Raimi's lack of confidence in his ability to make Sony's deadline for a May 11, 2011 release, but there were apparently quite a few creative differences between the director and the company as well.  They wanted lots of villains, he wanted one, they wanted one script, he wanted another, etc. Apparently similar issues came up with the third one, and we all remember how well that turned out...  Any way, now Marc Webb will be directing instead of Sam Raimi.

    Spider-man getting a reboot is hardly a revolutionary concept.  The poor guy seems plagued with 'em.  Let's take a look at his comic reboots from the past ten years:

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Ode to the Absurd or Thank You, Cable & Deadpool!

    Cable & Deadpool got me into superhero comics.

    I don't mean I grew up in a world devoid of the light of comics. Heaven knows that's not the case. I was a kid fortunate enough to be born into a geeky family that recognized comics as a legitimate storytelling medium. I grew up in a household blessed with collections of American syndicated comics like Calvin and Hobbes and with two thick omnibuses of the French adventure comic Asterix and Obelix. We even had Maus laying around, though it was too dark for me to get through when I was little. Often, we would get Archie comic digests at the grocery store or borrow Tintin comics from our local library. Through middle and high school, I devoured manga like the ravenous geek who grew up on Dragonball Z that I was.

    I have also always been interested superheroes. Sure, I watched Japanese superheroes save the galaxy a lot on Dragonball Z and Voltron and I always loved the Jedi of Star Wars, but I was always interested in the more conventional American superheroes too. I grew up watching mutant animals protecting New York in Ninja Turtles, the Justice League battle the Legion of Doom in Super Friends, the Thing unleash clobberin' time on Dr. Doom on Fantastic Four, and I even saw mutants overthrow the disgusting other-dimensional dictator Mojo in X-Men. I watched superhero movies like Spider-man, Superman, and even the infamous Batman and Robin. I knew the origins of the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Spider-man, Superman, and Aquaman. I even knew who Doomsday was. I played the City of Heroes MMORPG and loved the few issues of the comic that we had (available in completely legal PDF form here; I recommend the Blue King run and the first twelve issues of the Image run, but the rest is fun too).

    I just didn't read Marvel or DC comics.

    Let's face it: Marvel and DC are intimidating. There are decades of history behind any one of their series and I didn't really have any friends who read Marvel or DC to explain it to me, just a lot of other manga fans. I had one friend in high school (another manga fan) who explained the basic plot of the Dark Phoenix Saga to me after we saw X-Men The Last Stand, but she had never read any of the comics either; she just had the X-Men Encyclopedia. For the most part, I ignored the Graphic Novel section of a book store except for the manga portion of it and, while I did go to my local comic shops, it was for manga and anime and Star Wars instead of, well, superhero comics.

    And then I entered college. Cue dramatic music and, no, the Ninja Turtles theme song does not count.
    Freshman year I was in the campus coffee shop talking to a friend of mine when the topic of superheroes came up. I mentioned how I had always been interested in superheroes but never found my way into the Marvel and DC universes. My friend (a real, live superhero comics fan!) asked me if I had ever heard of Marvel's very own fourth-wall breaking insane mercenary Deadpool. Last year, he finally loaned me Cable & Deadpool, along with some Runaways and Ultimate Spider-man. And now I am firmly entrenched within the worlds of Marvel and DC and I'm not planning on leaving anytime soon.

    Let's just say that my friend hit the nail quite soudly on the head with his recommendation. I love series that aren't afraid to laugh at themselves, but can still have a strong plot. Cable & Deadpool is that series. Deadpool, as mentioned above, is insane. He's the comic relief of the Marvel Universe and is fully aware of his status as a character in a comic book. Cable, on the other hand is a Summers. He's Cyclops' time-traveling son with a Messiah complex from a dystopian future. He's a very ends-focused character trying to build a perfect world. He's got a ton of back-story, but I could still get into the series and know what was going on. And he and Deadpool balance each other perfectly.

    Cable & Deadpool probably isn't the perfect gateway series for everyone. Both of the title characters have long, convoluted back-stories and major plots from the rest of the MU occasionally spill into the story (like Civil War and various X-Men plots). But for me, the series was perfect. It starred relatively obscure characters. It juggled serious moments and comedy. It had character development and a wide variety of character interaction. It had great art and wonderfully parallel first and last scenes. It occasionally breaks the fourth wall. It was over the top but still got me to think. And it allowed me to finally enter a printed world of superheroes.

    Maybe I would have started reading Marvel and DC even if I hadn't heard of this wacky, lovable series. Maybe I would have browsed through the "Graphic Novel" section of my campus library and found Astro City and Doctor Strange and Sandman without having borrowed anything from my friend. Maybe I would have found Ultimate Spider-man and Runaways even without asking after my friend's earlier recommendation. But maybe not.

    So I would like to thank Fabian Niciezan for creating such a ridiculous, wonderful series. You've given me the key to more wonderful stories and characters than I know what to do with.  Keep up the good work.

    Is there a book or series you would like to thank for introducing you to something new?

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    New, From Japan: Ordinary People!

    It's about time I talk about being in Japan, huh? Well, If there's one thing being in Japan has helped solidify in my brain (other than the wonder, wonder flavor that is melon) it's this:

    People are the same the world over.

    This is something I'm reminded of more and more everyday I'm in Japan. I'm currently staying with a family with two small children: a six-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl who remind me way to much of my childhood and my younger siblings. The little boy loves Dragonball Z, a show my older brother and I grew up watching. It was my favorite show for most of my childhood. He also loves Samurai Sentai Shikenger,"the current incarnation of the super-hero franchise that spawned Power Rangers, one of my little brother's favorite shows. Today, he was wearing a T-shirt that looked like the uniform of the leader of said super-hero team and reminding me for all the world of the Ninja Turtle uniform T-shirt my older brother had when he was six and the Ninja Turtles were our favorite super-hero team; it also reminded me of the Spider-man (or Spider-girl!) uniform shirt sitting in my drawer right up the stairs.

    I noticed him wearing that shirt and playing with toy cars with his friends(just like I and my brother did when we were little) while I was drinking coffee and visiting with some friends of my host-mom. It came up that I like science fiction and one of the women instantly asked about Star Trek and started explaining the sequence of the series in the franchise to her friend next to her and talking about how she liked the "Picard Era" best (as in Next Generation, but with the word as in "Warring States Era" or "Showa Era." It was pretty cool.) Then we talked a bit about Stargate (another show we both appreciate) and then the movie Men in Black came up and all five of us forgot Will Smith's name at the same moment ("Isn't he that comedian guy? The one with the fat suit in that one movie?" "No, wait, that was Eddie Murphy..." "Wait, wasn't he in a movie with Jackie Cha- no, that's Eddie Murphy again..."). Five minutes later, after the conversation had switched topics a few times, I finally remembered his name and everyone exclaimed an equivalent of "Oh, yeah! Will Smith! Of course!" It was pretty much the definition of a normal conversation (in my book, anyway, which may or may not count).

    The little six-year-old boy in my host family will sometimes make a bunch of random noises and ask what that meant in English, just like six-year-old boys in America will make a bunch of random noises and ask what it meant in Japanese or Chinese. The four-year-old girl here acts like any four-year-old in the U.S. would and watches cartoons that my little sister would probably enjoy. Heck, both kids here like "Sponge Bob," a cartoon that I know for a fact my little brother and sister like. I can't help but think that my little brother and sister and the tykes of this house would get along famously.

    I mention these things because it's so easy to forget how similar people are when superficial differences are so plentiful. As a student of the Japanese language and as a geek interested in Japanese culture, I've been hearing about how clean and safe Japan is compared to America and how everthing's so much more expensive (this is not technically true; manga and Gundam models are significantly cheaper here, though most everything else is pretty spendy) for a long time. People always seem to want to emphasize the different, whether it be in household customs, forms of transportaion, or comic book publishing (I would like to point out that despite a very different process of comic-creation and publishing here in Japan, and stylistic differences, Japanese and Western comics have a lot in common, but I'll go into this another time).

    It's very easy to get a mental image of Japan as a magical wonderland, separated from the rest of the world. It's not. Japan's part of the real world, too. I've seen people run red lights here. I've seen a guy toss garbage out his car window. I've sat on the train in the morning and heard a high school girl's shock and dismay when her friend mentioned that there was a kanji test that day (I mean, who hasn't forgotten about a kanji quiz or seven?). I've seen kids get excited while talking about their favorite super-heroes, and siblings fight over who gets the caramel-filled chocolate instead of the one with nuts, and highschoolers wait until the last minute to get on the train platform so that they can read one more chapter from the comic magazine sitting at the news stand at the train station.  Yes, customs and demographics and crime-rates are different here than America, but the people are fundamentally the same.

    This I find incredibly comforting; yes, even the litter.

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Once More into the Breech: Giving New Jedi Order Another Chance

    I'm going to do it.

    I'm going to give the "New Jedi Order" books another chance.

    This is a big deal for me. I love Star Wars, Star Wars characters, and the Star Wars Expanded Universe, but I haven't been able to read any of the books set after "Young Jedi Knights" since I read "Star by Star" waaay back in middle school. Because I love the Star Wars characters and the Star Wars EU, I couldn't even finish "Star by Star." I was too upset, too enraged by what happened to one of my favorite characters, who had just gone through some amazing character development the book before. For years I couldn't talk about New Jedi Order, much less read it, without becoming extremely upset because of what happened to that one character in that one book.

    I've gotten past that, now.

    I've come to this decision thanks to this challenge put forth by the Fantastic Fangirls last year. It's not quite what they challenged their readers to do, as I had given the books a chance before, but it helped me realize that it's time to give up my grudge and stop making excuses.

    "Star by Star" wasn't the only reason I stopped reading those books. Before I ever picked up "Vector Prime," I knew the series would make the Galaxy Far, Far Away a darker place, and since elementary school the thought of creatures like the Yuuzahn Vong (the antagonists of the NJO books) has freaked me out. But, knowing ahead of time the grim events taking place in my GFFA, I started reading the series anyway. And what made me stop was the fear of change.

    New Jedi Order makes a point of drastic change in the beloved GFFA, something I was not prepared to face, despite my fore-knowledge of events. The reality of the fictional events caused me to retreat, and point to "inconsistent characterization" and "pointless death" and "a lack of hope" as the reasons for my withdrawal from the EU. "Inconsistent characterization," though, has been a problem in Star Wars books since long before NJO, and one of the defining characteristics of the Star Wars franchise has always been finding hope in the face of none. NJO is filled with changes, many for the worse for the characters I grew up loving, and these problems aren't solved in a book or three. They can no longer return to the status quo. There isn't the comforting knowledge of how things will be a few years in the future like there was when authors were filling the gap between the movies and Zahn's "Thrawn Trilogy." Things change, both for us and for the fictional characters we know and love. I need to face this.

    Now, like back in middle school, I know what will happen. Despite limiting myself to the Star Wars books written before 1999 (excepting of the "Jedi Apprentice" series and books written by Timothy Zahn), I've been keeping up-to-date on the Star Wars galaxy via the internet, and I believe it's finally time to dive back in. My recent entrance into the Marvel Universe, in some ways so eerily similar to the EU, has helped to arm me for this battle. I want to read more stories about the worlds and characters I love. I want to watch the children I've read about for so long develop and mature into members of the new Jedi Order. I want to learn about the Chiss and the other races of the Unchartered Territories. Dang it, I want to be able to check out the intriguing-looking "Star Wars: Legacy" comics and know the backstory! I will allow the changes brought by the "New Jedi Order" and the "Legacy of the Force" isolate me from a galaxy I love no longer!

    When I return to the U.S., I will confront my personal Sith of Geekdom and step into, what are for me, the Uncharted Territories of the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

    Wish me luck and ask yourself, what have you been hiding from?

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Warehouse 13 (and Ryorin) Strikes Back

    I blame finals. It's not that I didn't have things to ramble about these past few months (that'll happen about twelve and a half years after the end of the universe), it's that I did have finals. And packing. So now I type this to you, my loyal readers (both of you), from Japan. Let's just pretend there was a time-warp and I'm posting in a timely fashion, okay?

    Ahem. Moving on...

    Last summer saw the premier of a new age of the Sci-Fi Channel... which is to say they changed their name to Syfy. But this summer also brought the premier of Warehouse 13 to the newly re-dubbed "Syfy," a series that gained the highest rating in the channel's history. This wonderful, wonderful show (that I just might've enjoyed a bit) has been renewed for a second, twelve-episode season starting on Tuesday, July 13, 2010. Oh, and Jewel Staite (Kaylee from Firefly and Dr. Keller Stargate Atlantis) and Sean Maher (Simon from Firefly) will both guest-star.

    This fills me with joy. Especially since they'll be playing opposite each other. Joy.

    So, without further ado, allow me to ramble a bit about one of my favorite shows from last year, Warehouse 13. This is going to be from memory, so work with me here...

    The Warehouse 13 agents collect unusual artifacts that are dangerous in some way or another and are often connected with famous historical figures and events (Edger Allen Poe, Harry Houdini, Lewis Carroll, etc.) and bring the artifacts back to the steampunk-esque Warehouse in the middle of South Dakota. It's set in the present, with contemporary clothing and buildings and such but with tons of steampunk aesthetic in the technology used in the Warehouse and by the Warehouse agents, such as the "Farnesworth" communicator to the right.

    I know; cool isn't it?

    The mix of steampunk technology and modern technological capabilities make the Warehouse pretty dang cool and gives the show an interesting mix of atmosphere and adds a sci-fi/ fantasy feel to a "modern" installation... and it gives the main characters some pretty dang cool toys to play with.

    On to the characters! The series starts out with a rather small main cast, focusing on getting to know and developing the characters of Secret Service agents Myka Bering (Joanna Kelly) and Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) who were recently recruited into the top-secret Warehouse of Wonder and Steampunkery. In the first few episodes, the only other character who shows up much is Artie Nielson (Saul Rubinek), who mainly stays at home base and tries to coordinate the agents activities.

    This bugged me. It's not that I don't like stiff, calculating Myka and goofy, improvising Pete's banter; I just like having more main characters and inter-character dynamics. Sure, Artie's in every episode and Leena (why does she know about the Warehouse?!?) appears occasionally, but they don't really interact with other characters all that often. The diverse cast of primary and secondary characters is one of the main reasons that Stargate SG-1 is my favorite TV series. Is it too much to ask that this already fascinating steampunk/ X-files-ish/ adventure (?) series just add a few characters?

    Enter Claudia, episode four.

    Claudia Donovon (played by Allison Scagliott and seen on the far left of the promotional image to the left) is a young "genius wiz-kid" (mad scientist hacker) connected to Artie's past. She's an entertaining character that shakes things up and throws Artie off-balance with her rule-bending, superior knowledge of the cyber-realms, and razor wit. Oh, and there's also that whole "connection to his past" thing I mentioned; the point is, Claudia allows the viewer to learn more about Artie as a person instead of just a kind of distracted mission control.

    Episode five, Claudia strikes back and joins the main cast, helping Artie at the Warehouse and befriending the other characters. And Ryorin rejoices. And then Leena (the aura-reading owner of a Bed & Breakfast, played by Genelle Williams) starts showing up more and even Mrs. Fredric (the ageless, shadowy director of the Warehouse, played by C.C.H. Pounder) starts checking in occasionally. Sometimes dreams do come true.

    Warehouse 13 being the sort of series that it is and me being the sort of viewer that I am, there are several questions I think could be expanded on in this coming season (I'll leave out the ones that would spoil the phenomenal season finale):
    • What is up with Mrs. Fredric? There is clearly more to her than meets the eye; how did she become involved with the Warehouse? What are her goals? How old id she, anyway, and how is it that that can be a serious question?
    • MacPherson: Introduced in episode seven, James MacPherson (played by Roger Rees) is the Big Bad of the season, but what are his goals? We do learn about his past, but where do his loyalties lie? What is does he hope to accomplish, exactly? This question I really hope is answered next season, especially considering the first season finale.
    • Leena: What's her connection to the Warehouse, anyway? This is the thing that really bugged me about the past season. I mean, sure she runs the Bed & Breakfast the agents live at, but is the ability to make killer waffles license to wander around the world's most top-secret installation? Does she have a last name? Is it important? And why can she read auras? There are other questions about her raised by the finale, but these are the questions I've had about her since before that.
    • The Warehouse: everything. This is the most obvious mystery of Warehouse 13. What is the history of it? Who runs it? Why concentrate all of the artifacts in one place? And what is that purple goo? I could go on about this, but I'm pretty sure most of this (except the goo question) will be addressed next season.
    • Claudia's brother: what's he been up to, lately? Have there been any side-effects from his earlier experiment? Has he become addicted to online games, or did he get a job? The world wants to know!
    • Pete the Ferret: Does he lead a double life? Does Pete the Human ever learn why Myka's ferret is named after him? How do the events of the season finale affect him? Does he like blue jello?
    • Mirror, Mirror: Can Lewis Carroll's mirror please be used again? Please?
    Well, that about covers it. Oh, except for my need to mention how awesome it was that Joe Flanigan (Jack Shepard in Stargate Atlantis) guest-starred in episode five and Myka's actress played Bianca in The Dresden Files TV series (which was... weird...). Oh, science-fiction actors! I love how I can actually recognize them!

    Needless to say, the second season is something I'm very much looking forward to this summer. After the shocking finale of the first season, I await July 13 with high hopes and many questions for season two.

    [edit: I stand corrected. Myka and Pete are current Secret Service agents, not former. As I said, I was just working from memory. The error has been fixed. Thank you, Anonymous Tipper!]