Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Wrestling Ramblings: C.M. Punk is Suspened from WWE

C.M. Punk

June 27th edition of Moday Night Raw was cut short during a CM Punk "shoot" moment when his mic censored. After the show went off the air, it was announced on wwe.com that WWE chairman Vince McMahon has suspended Punk indefinitely for unprofessional conduct, and C.M. Punk’s bio was removed from their website. WWE will still allow C.M. Punk to still appear at live, non-televised events for the remainder of his contract. Many people have wonder if this was a "shoot" or a "work". Either way the wrestling fans a talking about it, which makes it great TV. This shows once again how good C.M. Punk is on that Mic.

Movie Ramblings: My Thoughts on X-Men: First Class & Green Lantern

Spoils! Spoils! Don't Read if you Don't want to Know!

Over the weekend I went to see the two comic book superhero movies released so far, 20th Century Fox's X-Men: First Class & Warner Bros. Green Lantern.

X-Men: 1st Class
1st up (No Pun intended) X-Men: First Class is a film prequel of the X-Men franchise. With the lackluster performances of X-Men: Last Stand & X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 20th Century Fox decided to reboot the series much like 2009's Star Trek. Set in the 1960s during the Cold War where a young Professor X (Charles McAvory) & Magneto (Michael Fassbender) meet for the 1st time. They gather a young team of mutants to stop Nazi war criminal Sebastian Shaw's (Kevin Bacon) Hellfire Club from starting World War III with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

McAvory & Fassbender as X-men's founding fathers
Performances of Charles McAvory & Micheal Fassbender as the leads Pofessor X & Magneto as great. McAvory plays Professor X a swave swinger picking up sexy college girls in bars. Well Fassbender seems to be using this role as an unofficial audition for James Bond. Playing off each other, showing their Martin Luther King, Jr./Malcom X philosophical differences perfectly. You can see why Magneto would become the Man he is. A Holocaust survivor, he wakes up from a dream with the look "Never Again".

Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw
Kevin Bacon as the proto-type Magneto Sebastian Shaw delivers a brilliantly campy "twirling mustache" villain. Really enjoying the evil he does.

Rose Byrne as CIA agent Moria MacTaggert

The other casting choices don't standout too much in their performances, but the ladies do look very sexy.

Zoe Krazitz as Angel Salvadore

January Jones as the sexy Emma Frost
January Jones of the TV series Madmen looks sexy in white lingerie, but gives a wooden performance as the telepathic Emma Frost, evident in the interrogation scene.

Sexy Alice Eve
I wonder if actress Alice Eve (from 2010's Sex & the City 2 & the upcoming The Raven with John Cusack in 2012), who was originally cast in the role would've done any better?

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine
A fun cameo by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is a great when he says "Fuck You" to Professor X & Magneto go on their recruiting drive.

Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique
I did have trouble with the the make-up F/X for Mystique (played by Jennifer Lawrence) and Beast (played by Nicholas Hoult) which looked better in past films, but that's just a minor complaint.
Nicholas Hoult as Beast

The costume designs look like they came right out of the pages of the comic books. 
X-Men: 1st Class
1960s look of the film, heavily influenced by the classic James Bond films is beautiful looking. The US Military 's war room looks like it came right out of  Dr. Strangelove.

The only thing that takes you away from that time period is the soundtrack which comes off as too 1990s Grunge Music. Maybe a Sinatra-like score would of been better suited.

X-Men: First Class
Overall X-Men: First Class is a great popcorn flick. 20th Century Fox sees this as a start to a new trilogy. I can't wait for the next one.

Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern
Next up is Warner Bros. big screen adaptation of DC Comics superhero Green Lantern in 3-D starring Ryan Reynolds. Well let's start off by saying I was really disappointed by this flick after getting excited seeing the great trailer. It seems we have a case of "all flash & no substance", where Warner Bros. just focus on making Green Lantern just a CG F/X show and not focusing on any story to keep audiences interested. Even though Warner Bros. promoted the Green Lantern Corps heavily in the movie posters, they weren't use much beside little cameos by Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowag (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan).

Tomar-Re & Kilowog meet Hal Jordan on Oa

Mark Strong as Sinestro
The main Green Lantern on the planet Oa, Sinestro (played by Mark Strong) isn't used very well either. Facts like Hal & him becoming enemies because of his jealously of Hal aren't explored at all.

Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond
Instead the villains we get are the telepathic Hector Hammond (played by Peter Sarsgaard) & Parallax (voiced by Clancy Brown), a crappy faced cloud monster as the major threats. Didn't any of those producers see the Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer? Cloud Monsters don't cut it. But Saragaard did play Hammond very well, giving us a "creepy guy" feeling to him as he looks at Carol Ferris from afar. I feel they should have had Sinestro lead Green Lantern Corps against Parallax and getting defeated, with Sinestro returning to Oa humiliated at his lost. Showing how a major threat it is to Earth. This would make Hal Jordan's battle against Parallax that much more suspenseful  and his triumph more meaning full. This would lead to Sinestro's betrayal of the GL Corps and setting up a battle for a sequel. Maybe an adaptation of the Sinestro Corps War.

Lively & Reynolds
The love interest is played by actress Blake Lively as Hal's boss Carol Ferris. Lively is an attractive looking lady, but is totally uninteresting, giving a somewhat flat performance. 

Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern
Ryan Reynolds does looks good in the skin tight CG outfit, but to me was missed casted as Hal Jordan. Definitely not Paul Newman, on which co-creator artist Gil Kane based him on. He should waited & played the Flash (the Wally West version). His wise cracking jokes are better suit to him.

Paul Newman as Green Lantern?
Even though Warner Bros. "somewhat disappointed" in the opening-week box office of the film, only earring a weekend gross of $53.1 Million (What! That's All!), they still intend to move forward with a sequel, at least for on. I guest they don't want to say the movie sucks just yet. If we're lucky Warner Bros. will used instead the character of John Stewart as the Green Lantern in their planned Justice League movie cause Reynolds just doesn't cut it.

I agree with Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times stating, "Green Lantern does not intend to be plausible. It intends to be a sound-&-light show, assaulting the audience with sensational special F/X. If that's what you want, that's what you get".

Green Lantern in 3-D
So if you need a movie to drop the kids off at on the weekend while you go see something good, this is the one for you. So wait until someone else rents it or buys it on DVD or Blueray & then borrow it, don't waste you're money.

- Raja Devilman74

New Update On DC's Demon Knights!

On the Inside Pulse website it was reported who will be on the team with the Demon besides Madame Xanadu. Writer Paul Cornell (who's also writing the Stormwatch relaunch) said some older well known characters like the Shining Knight (still not sure which one) and my personal favorite, the immortal Vandal Savage will be included. New characters will be introduced  like Al Jabr, a medieval playboy DiVinci-like inventor, and the mysterious Clyemnestra, a greatest Amazon archer. I originally thought like everyone else that it was going to be set right after the fall of Camelot, but Cornell reports it's set hundreds of years afterwards.

Will it be Justin or Ystina?

Vandal Savage joins the ranks

DC's unofficial tagline line in Cornell's own words was: "Swords & sorcery & super heroes. The Magnificent Seven in Dragon Age. Some previous sword & sorcery books always seemed a bit grey & brown to me. This one’s got a team of huge characters in a proper, mapped out, fantasy setting, with a certain grim Game Of Thrones edge to it".

This series is sounding cooler and cooler.

- Raja Devilman74

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Anime Ramblings: Some of My Favorite Anime TV shows from my childhood, Part One - 1970s

As a young boy growing up in Canada, like so many kids I watched alot of cartoons. I loved cartoons. I watch any kind, even on the Canadian French language TV station, TELEVISION de RADIO CANADA. It was on those stations that I have my earliest memories of Japanese Anime. I didn't know that they were from Japan, I just knew that they were different somehow. These weren't no zanny WARNER BROTHERS LOONEY TUNES or family friendly WALT DISNEY cartoons. These were more Action packed! More adult in story telling. It didn't talk down to me as a kid like say the SUPERFRIENDS did. Probably because it they were written for adults in Japan. But North America syndicators didn't care about that. They saw that the shows were animated, so naturally they were for kids.

Goldorak, aka UFO Robot Grendizer
1st up is GOLDORAK, aka in Japan UFO ROBOT GRENDIZER. This was my 1st exposure to the SUPER ROBOT genre. Created by the great GO NAGAI, who 1st popularized this genre with MAZINGER Z in 1972.
Go Nagai and Mazinger Z

I recognized the character from MATTEL's SHOGUN WARRIORS toyline, which my parents got for me one Christmas. I was thrilled to find out that he had his own cartoon show, even though it was on the french language TV station my dad use to watch. The robot had a slick cool design I never saw before & his pilot alterego was JAMES DEAN cool way before I knew who JAMES DEAN was. The Super Robot battles were great to watch on the TV for a young boy wanting action.

UFO Robot Grendizer

Candy Candy
On that same french language TV station I saw CANDY CANDY, a girly soap opera anime about an good hearted pig-tailed blond orphan named CANDY. As a young boy, I didn't care that it was about a girl. The stories just pulled me in (that & I had a crush on her).
Candy just reflecting on things
She later reminded me of the Canadian Classic ANNE OF GREEN GABLES in storyline & character. Now I wonder if creator KYOKO MIZUKI was inspired by this book I was forced to read in school.
Unfortunately due many legal reasons CANDY CANDY many never see an officially licensed DVD/BLUERAY release, so fans just have to settle of bootleg copies.

Some Candy Wish Fulfilment

Albator, aka Captain Harlock
Next up is ALBATOR, aka in Japan the SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK, created by LEIJI MATSUMOTO. The reason for the name change for the French viewers was due to to similar name to a popular french character, CAPTAIN HADDOCK from TIN TIN (another great character). What can you say about this character. He's Just So Fucking Cool Looking! Turning the TV dial & seeing him in that awesome uniform with the skull & crossbones on his chest, cape flowing in the background was something that made you stop & look. I can see why a generation of viewing kids call themselves GENERATION ALBATOR. That's how popular he was to the french speaking Canadians in the 1970s.

The Black Terror
ALBATOR/HARLOCK was kind of reminiscent of Golden Age superhero the BLACK TERRROR in look. His character was kind of like CLINT EASTWOOD's "MAN WITH NO NAME", a strong silent type with an unshakable resolve. 
Clint Eastwood is The Name With No Name
Not even a year later I would see the Captain in my 1st Anime movie on TV when the SUPER CHANNEL played Producer ROGER CORMAN's edited verison of GALAXY EXPRESS 999 and introduced me the much large LEIJIVERSE.

The cast of Galaxy Express 999
In the early 1990s artist BEN DUNN (of the extremely cool comic book Ninja High School fame) did a short lived CAPTAIN HARLOCK comic book series for publisher MALIBU COMICS' ETERNITY line for the North American market. I found these comics in back issue bins in comic book shops over the years and really enjoyed them.
Harlock by Ben Dunn

I was happy to discover a few years ago that CAPTAIN HARLOCK returned again in a new anime series called CAPTAIN HERLOCK: THE ENDLESS ODYSSEY (2002), were he & his crew fight against "Space Zombies"! Cool huh.

March 2010 TOEI ANIMATION announced a new SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK computer animated movie in the works.
The trailer was shown at the KAWAII-KON ANIME festival in HAWAII April 17, 2010 as a special presentation courtesy of director SHINJII ARAMAKI, much to fans delight. A international release date set for sometime in late 2013.

Star Blazers, aka Space Battleship Yamato
In the late 1970s & early 1980s many people were looking for the next STAR WARS to cash in on it's huge popularity, but for TV syndication. North American Producers looked to Japan and found SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, a space opera anime created by LEIJI MATSUMOTO for producer YOSHINOBU NISHIZAKI. It was renamed STAR BLAZERS for the North American market. Even though it was marketed as a "kids show", it kept many of it's more "adult themes" such as personal tragedy, funeral scenes for fallen comrades, & the serious threat of extinction faced by humanity. I would tune in after school to see each episode of DEREK WILDSTAR (the westernize version of character SUSUMU KODAI's name) & crew. It was shows like this that made me a Sci-Fi & Anime fan. A fun fact, MATSUMOTO was going to use CAPTAIN HARLOCK in the series but decided not too haft way though the series.
The 3 seasons of the STAR BLAZERS have since been released on DVD (The Quest for Iscandar, the Comet Empire, & the Bolar Wars). A great pick for anyone interested in some classic old school anime.

Cast of Star Blazers
In 2010 a cool looking live-action Japanese film version of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMOTO was released, this caused HOLLYWOOD to take a 2nd look at the old STAR BLAZERS cartoon. In February 2011 SKYDANCE PRODUCTIONS started to negotiate for the rights to produce their own version of a live-action film with CHRISTOPHER McQUARRIE (THE USUAL SUSPECTS; VALKYRIE; WOLVERINE) being tapped to write the screenplay.    

Battle of the Planets, aka Gatchaman
Another Japanese import set to cash-in on the STAR WARS phenomenon was THE BATTLE OF THE PLANETS, adapted by SANDY FRANK ENTERTAINMENT from the anime TV series SCIENCE NINJA TEAM GATCHAMAN. The show was about 5 young super ninjas protecting the Galaxy from the evil forces of SPECTRA. They had the coolest looking costumes I ever seen on any superheroes before. The bird-shaped helmets were so unique than the standard comic book domino mask. The action was quick & fast, thrill me to no end. THE BATTLE OF THE PLANETS was heavily edited & change from the original GATCHAMAN series, way different than the STAR BLAZERS. Producers tried to make the series more appealing to the Western juvenile TV market & wanting to avoiding any controversy from parents groups. They removed any elements of graphic violence (can't have ninjas hurt people now), profanity (the fowl mouth  JINPEI turned into the speech impaired KEYOP) & transgenderism (the sex transforming BERG KATSE made into just the gay looking ZOLTAR instead with a twin sister named MALA LATROZ, Zoltar spelled backwards.  HA -HA).

Zoltar & Sister?
Elements reminiscent of STAR WARS were add, like the R2-D2/C3PO robot hybrid 7-ZARK-7 to explain any plot holes the editors couldn't fix. Even the name "BATTLE OF THE PLANETS" was an attempt to associate itself with the popularity of STAR WARS (Battle vs. Wars and Planets vs. Star).

G-Force leader Mark

Voice of the G-FORCE leader MARK/KEN THE EAGLE was provided by CASEY KASEM, a familiar voice on radio (with his Top 40 Countdown) and Saturday mornings (as the voice of SHAGGY on SCOOBY DOO & ROBIN on the SUPERFRIENDS).

Top Cow's BOTP comic book
A cool looking comic book series by TOP COW was released in 2002 with beautiful painted covers by ALEX ROSS. Sadly it was cancelled after issue 12 with TOP COW leaving the series in a cliffhanger with G-FORCE/GATCHAMAN member JASON/JOE THE CONDOR betraying the team. I was hoping TOP COW would pick up were they left off, but never did.

Battle of the Planets by Alex Ross
ADV Films released a faithful uncut version of  all 105 episodes of the GATCHAMAN North America with an all-new English-language dub on. DVD in 2005, which sadly since became out of print since ADV went out of business. In 2007 SANDY FRANK's 30 year contract with TATSUNOKO PRODUCTIONS (owners of the GATCHAMAN franchise) for North American rights ended leaving fans of both the BATTLE OF THE PLANETS & GATCHAMAN in limbo.

So you North American Producers & Publishers out there,


Gatchaman's New Look
Then there was some cool news from the Hong Kong based IMAGI ANIMATION STUDIOS, who released CG animated movies TMNT (2007) & ASTRO BOY (2009), planned a CG-animated GATCHAMAN 3-D movie, they even posted a 1-minute teaser trailer in July 2010 on its company Web site, with a release date stating 2011 at its conclusion.
After a few set backs like the studio being closing down by it's parent company Imagi International Holding, Ltd. over financial trouble in February 2010, they reopened the studio in July 2010 & put their GC animated projects back into production, which included at the time GATCHAMAN & CAT TALE (which would feature the voices of actors SEAN ASTIN & JERRY O'CONNELL).
But sadly on June 21, 2011 IMAGI announced during their annual report that the GATCHAMAN film project was officially dead.

So There it is, some of My Favorite Anime, I Plane to do a 2nd part in the future.
- Raja Devilman74

Comic Book Ramblings: My Thoughts on the DC Relaunch, Part 3

DC's Dark Line

At the end of DC's Brightest Day limited series, DC decided to reintroduce Swamp Thing & John Constantine after being in DC's more adult Vertigo imprint for years into the mainstream DC Universe.
This leads to DC's new "Dark" line which sets to explores the darker corners of the new DC Relaunch Universe with not-so-typical superhero fair.


Justice League Dark
DC spins-off one of it's Flashpoint series Secret Seven into Justice League Dark, teaming together it's supernatural characters to take on mystical forces that Superman, Batman, & Wonder Woman can't handle. Members are Shade the Changing Man (a weird Steve Ditko creation that landed in the Vertigo imprint back in the 1990s), Deadman (With another appearance again, along with his series in DC Universe Presents), Madame Xanadu, Zatanna, & John Constantine. They take on the evil witch the Enchantress (One time member of DC's previous supernatural team, the Shadowpact). My question is where are DC's "Big Supernatural Guns" the Spectre & Doctor Fate? Will they ever make an appearance in the New DCU? Hey, at least they have the sexy Zatanna on broad. I Hope they play up her past romance with Constantine and is he going to take a superhero name now in the DCU? Captain Hellblazer maybe?  

The Spectre

Doctor Fate

Sexy Zatanna

SWAMP THING Written by SCOTT SNYDER (American Vampire) Art and cover by YANICK PAQUETTE (Batman, Inc.)
Swamp Thing
Snyder's American Vampire is a must read, he's a big plus for this series. I think it's smart that DC is going for old school 1970s Len Wien & Berni Wrightson "Muck Monster" than the 1980s Alan Moore "Plant Elemental". The Man inside the Monster is much more easier to get than the Planet that tries to be a man. DC has been trying for 20 years to redo Moore's Swamp Thing to no success. Now they've gone back to what made the character interesting. SWAMP MONSTER! HORROR! YES!

ANIMAL MAN Written by JEFF LEMIRE (Sweet Tooth) Art by TRAVEL FOREMAN (Marvel's Immortal Iron Fist) & DAN GREEN
Animal Man
Former superhero Bubby Baker returns as a mentor to his young daughter Maxine who's inherited her fathers powers. Didn't read Grant Morrison's original run until it was published in trade paperbacks years later, it's just brilliant. A tough act to follow with this character. I'm sure comparisons will be made. Don't think this will pick up any readers.

FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. Written by JEFF LEMIRE (Sweet Tooth) Art by ALBERTO PONTICELLI (Unknown Soldier)

DC's Frankenstein
One of my favorite characters from Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers series is back again with those weirdos from the Super Human Advanced Defense Executive. I Love acronyms!  The whole Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD play is funny. I wished artist Doug Mahnke returned to the character, he added so much  style to Mary Shelley's Monster. Not to sure about Ponticelli. Haven't read Sweet Tooth by Lemire, but I've heard good things, must pick up the Trade sometime. This will be Lemire's 2nd title in the New DC Relaunch, a definite look into when released in  September.  


I, Vampire
A different vampire than Andrew Bennett from the original 1980s House of Mystery series that I loved as a kid. This one is named Andrew Stanton & it looks it DC is going for that young "EMO-Twilight" vampire readership with this book. I never understood why DC never revived this character sooner, like back in the late 1980s & early 1990s with the whole Anne Rice Gothic Vampire-thing was big, just before the Warner Bros. movie came out. I guest it's because comics have always been inspired more from visual mediums than literal ones. Movies are much more easier & faster than sitting down & reading a novel.
Twilight movie poster


Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire
Not that I'm saying comic book writers don't read books. Don't get me wrong. It's just that it seems the the publishers are more influence on what's happening in Hollywood than on the Literary Best Sellers List.
Anyway, I'm a big Vampire Horror fan & I'm willing to check his one out when released in September.


Resurrection Man
Alot of my Comic Book reading friends are excited about this one, the return of the Resurrection Man. I only collected the 1st six issues & the special DC One Million crossover issue of the original 1990s series, but I did always thought of him as a unique superhero. A new superpower everytime he dies and comes back. But like his last series, I don't think this one will last.  


Demon Knights
Set during the Dark Ages after the fall of Camelot. Jason Blood & his alter ego Etrigan, along with Madame Xanadu (appearing in her 2nd title in the new DC relaunch) go against what DC describe as "barbarian hordes", teaming up with some surprising allies. Who could they be? The Shining Knight (Will it be the original Golden Age hero or the Grant Morrison creation)? The Silent Knight (one of many Hawkman reincarnations)? The Viking Prince (DC's Prince Valiant knock-off)? Or will it be some that we wouldn't think hanging around Dark Age Camelot. I Hope for the surprise. DC adds a little deversity in the DCU with this book. I think DC hopes to get that "Sword & Sorcery" fantasy audience that plays World of Warcraft. But is this old 1970s Jack Kirby creation the answers?  

DC's Arthurian Era by Brian Bolland

- Raja Devilman74