How Shonen Anime Ruined An Entire Generation’s Understanding of Animation.

Hello my fellow Millenials, long time no post, sorry for that but i’m sure as you all know the world is continually going to Hell in a handbasket! But we’re not here for a geo-political rant today. No, just animation! Fun right!? Well yes and no. You see today we will be discussing how a specific genre of animation and comics has negatively effected many’s understanding of the mediums. So without further ado let’s get this controversial topic underway!

Animation at its core as the name implies is visual medium. It is the culmination of sound, color, music and movement on the screen to create a scene. It is an idea given life! A medium that can lead to infinite possibilities for creativity! But what happens when someone merely looks at animation through a narrow lense? Well you get Shonen anime.

Now if you’ll put down those pitchforks and allow me to explain I shall. Obviously as I just pointed out this is not a slight against Japanese animation as a whole but merely one genre. And this is solely based on how it has presented itself for decades and how it executes its narrative. So let’s dissect the problems with this particular pop-culture phenomenon.

First off, and the largest offense by far is the overabundance of exposistion. One of the great things about animation and comics is that you can use a multitude of tools to tell a story or set a scene. For many animations things like visual ques, music ques or a characters facial expressions & body language can say a mouthful without saying anything at all in both animation and comics. This is something that has been used in animated films and series from around the world for decades! Shonen anime and manga however forgo this by excessively narrating every little thing which is the equivalent to holding the audiences hand the entire way through. Of course in any narrative there can be a place for exposition but when the majority of your series is filled to the brim with it, it does become rather problematic and down right insulting to the audiance.

Another problem with this approach is that this narriration in part seems to be some pale attempt to justify the ridiculousness of what is going on in the panels or on the screen, which in itself is a ludicrous notion as animation and comics are supposed to be ridiculous! Trying to add some form of seriousness through excessive exposition only showcases the insecurities you have in your work. Animation is supposed to be whimsical and flat out insane. That is something that should be worn as a badge of honor. Not something you awkwardly try to justify! As Grant Morrison once wrote “an adult will ask why a crab is talking but a child will simply tell them because it’s a cartoon.”

This approach is also dangerous because it can dull viewers ability to pick up important moments brought on by by music or the importance of characters facial expressions and body language as was previously mentioned.

Then of course there’s the lack of proper symbolism. Look in contrast to series like Utena or even the much beloved FLCL or Evangelion which do weave important visual symbolism into the overall narrative. This is near absent in shonen and is not a good thing.

And of course the final offense is the fact most shonen anime are based on shonen comics which follow very rigid structures in how the narratives flow and play out. Moving from one story-arc to the next. Thus when an animated adaption does any story not directly adapted from that material it is considered “filler” and unimportant. This has led to a wider misconception that any episode of any animated series that doesn’t focus on an overarching narrative is “filler” which is innacurate and untrue as filler is not something that exist in Western or European animation. This narrow view on how stories can progress is more harmful to animation and comics is more harmful then helpful overall and shows a general lack of understanding of how animation and comics work as a medium as a whole.

Then of course there is how your typical shonen anime gets much less accomplished in its run time then most cartoons do in their 3-12 minutes, but that’s another rant for another time.

To end on a positive note however actual content creators today seem to do a good job of integrating the elements from anime *cough magical girl* cough and other mediums comics, cartoons, literature, film, etc. That fit their style of animating and storytelling quite well!

I should probably go deeper into animation theory as a whole, but I’m typing this on my phone and i’m sure you could find some books on the subject at your local library, so happy hunting!

In closing remember, you have every right to like whatever you wish, but it is important to acknowledge the faults and potentially dangerous flaws in the media we consume. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

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Monopolies Are Bad! How A Disney/20th Century FOX Merger Would Ruin The Movie Industry And Weaken Anti-Trust Laws.

 

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Hello Friends, long time no post.  Well here we all are again in the absolute most ridiculous of timelines, and that’s putting things nicely.  Today we are here to talk about a very important subject, and this is how monopolizing an industry hurts that industry and the economy in the long run.  So get your herbal tea and stress ball ready because it is going to be a bumpy ride.

 

 

 

Not to long ago the Department of Justice struck down a merger deal between AT&T & Warner Bros. This thankfully prevented AT&T having a monopoly over cable and other services.  After that Matel rejected a buy out bid from Hasbro preventing the company from having a monopoly on the toy industry.  Sadly however there seems to be no one against the rather unholy union of 20th Century Fox and The Walt Disney Corporation.  While it is true Disney is only interested in buying out FOX’s movie studios and related assets this still puts the entirety of the movie industry at risk as collectively in any given year Walt Disney can make up a good 20%-30% of the annual box office intake world wide with 20th Century FOX averaging at another 20%.  This would mean if the merger did go through and Disney remained in charge of all the properties that 20th Century FOX makes movies for they would have control of roughly 40%-50% of the annual box office putting them at an unfair advantage over other studios like Paramount, Sony & Warner Bros.

 

This merger would also effect smaller studios like Blue Sky that distribute their animated films through 20th Century FOX.  They would most likely have to find a new distributor for their films, which while hardly the most difficult thing to do could still end up leading to the shuffling around or pushing back of upcoming releases.  Comic book publishers like Dark Horse that deal with various FOX properties such as Aliens, Buffy, Firefly, Predator etc would most likely have to renegotiate deals or might end up losing the rights to the properties all together which would leave them with another heavy blow after Disney already cost them their rights to the Star Wars comics after the Lucas Films buyout years prior.

 

This buyout which would lead to a disruption and upset of licensing and distribution of properties could also lead to other pseudo-monopolies among Disney’s competitors as to no matter who ends up with the distribution rights to Blu-Sky’s films they would have an extra arm in animation.  For example if Universal got distribution rights to Blu Sky films they would then be releasing animated films for not only Blu-Sky but for Dreamworks and Illumination Entertainment as well, meaning you would have three different studios under one umbrella, even if they didn’t technically own all of them, it would still put the competition at a slight disadvantage.  In terms of licenses many companies work with the Alien & Predator Licenses as well as the Planet of The Apes.  Even if Disney sells off these I.P.’s like scraps to other studios in an attempt to balance things out it will cause countless companies to have to renegotiate with new owners either  way.

 

It is also worth noting that as corporations get bigger they take less risks which can lead to less diverse and experimental content being created which leads to flandarization of output which can lead to a saturation and decline into the quality, creativity and diversity of the products produced.  Healthy competition keeps these studios on their toes and can make them more likely to take risks, without that you risk the further degradation of the art of cinema among other things.

 

The allowance of this buyout also shows how hypocritical and corrupt both Disney and the current political administration continue to be as the DOJ was all to eager to strike down the AT&T/Warner merger due to it’s hatred of CNN, but will shamelessly allow the passing of a Disney/20th Century FOX merger merely because the mouse and the companies it already owns are such good friends with the 1% the same way higher-ups at FOX are.  This shows the further degradation of both our federal government and our capitalistic society as Disney crawls ever closer to a disturbing dystopian mega-corp!

 

So I beg you all to look past your juvenile fanboyish enthusiasm of seeing The Avengers & The X-Men in the same movie and realize this for what it is.  An attempted monopolization of the movie industry by a company that is the film world equivalent of the Republican Party.  A monster of a mouse that while not as bigoted is just as brutish & greedy doing everything it can to dominate an industry.  Despite the fond memories Disney may have given you as a child it is not your friend and it never was, like a corrupt politician you are just a number to it.  Do not support this merger and speak out against it just as you would the current corrupt administration or the stooges at the FCC trying to take away our Net Neutrality, don’t put the entirety of the movie industry and the continued existence of Anti-Trust laws at risk over something so petty!

 

In closing, monopolies are always bad, and you’re mouse is a rat!

Thoughts on: What Steven Universe Teaches us About The Human Condition

 

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Unless you have been under a rock for the past three and a half years you have most likely heard of Cartoon Network’s original series Steven Universe.  The series which features the adventures of a young half-alien boy named Steven and his family The Crystal Gems as they fight to protect the earth from all sorts of magical and alien threats.   At face value that may not sound like enough to drag you in, but if there is one thing that the current decade of animation has taught us is that you cannot judge a show by its appearance or its synopsis alone.  Over the past three or so years we have watched Steven Universe grow from a series about a young boy trying to learn to use his powers to one of the most progressive, complex and emotionally in-depth and mature series to ever grace our television screens.  And what really makes the series hit home for many is how human the characters are despite being magic alien gems.  So today we take a look at what Steven Universe can teach us about the human condition.

 

I. Dealing With Loss/Living up to Expectations

One of the key elements to Steven Universe’s lore is how Steven’s mom Rose Quartz for all intensive purposes passed away while giving birth to him.  Because of this we have seen characters such as Rose’s husband Greg and her confidant Pearl deal with the loss over the course of the series in different ways.  Pearl especially had been the main focus of this story arc as we saw how overprotective she was of Steven early on in the series and acting like a surrogate mother of sorts and all the while holding a silent grudge against Greg for taking the one she loved away from her, we saw this all come to a head in season 3 when Greg & Steven take Pearl on a vacation with them to the big city where we get various musical numbers one focusing on how Pearl still laments over the loss of Rose and ending with Steven serenading the two with a ballad about how he loves both of them and they should talk to each other about the loss of Rose Quartz.  The episode ending with some sense of closure for the two.   Loss of a loved one is also what drives the remaining Diamonds to have such a hatred for Rose Quartz and in some cases the Earth.  Rose was the one responsible for shattering Pink Diamond leaving her sisters in either a state of constant rage like Yellow Diamond or sorrow like Blue Diamond.

Another important element of Steven Universe is how Steven constantly feels the need to learn more and live-up to the example his mom had set for the Crystal Gems.  Over the course of the show we see him lament not being as strong as her, and even as his powers grow we see him struggle to fine that line between respecting his mother’s legacy while still trying to be his own person.   And Steven is not the only one dealing with this struggle as Amethyst, a character who is basically a big sister figure to Steven also views herself as inadequate, an aspect which was first touched on when she and Steven first visited the Kindergarten and Amethyst admitted to Pearl she felt like the others saw her as a mistake and later on when she realized she was falling behind even Steven in terms of ability.

 

These two tropes while not solely unique to Steven Universe are used in a very well done and natural way, and they show us that even though loss and self-doubt are part of life that they do not define us, and they can in the end make us stronger as long as we do not let ourselves be controlled by them.

 

II. Friendship

Like many lead characters in animation Steven has an uncanny knack for being able to make friends.  While this cliché is usually pretty aggravating, in Steven Universe it has been used organically for the most part, as Steven doesn’t just become friends with every new person or gem he meets, but slowly bonds with them over the course of episodes/seasons.  The most notable use of this was when the Homeworld gem Peridot was captured by the Crystal Gems after months of chasing her and falling prey to her traps.  While the rest of the Gems would have been just fine leaving her unconscious and imprisoned in a bubble, Steven freed her and over the course of several episodes formed a bond of friendship with her that eventually lead to her defecting from Homeworld and joining the Crystal Gems to help them stop the planet destroying geo-weapon “The Cluster” that had been placed deep within the Earth’s core.   We also see Peridot her self attempt to and at times fail to befriend her fellow refugee Lapis Lazuli and a sentient pumpkin-dog Steven created for them to have as a pet as well.

As for Steven himself we do see how his relationships with both the Gems and his fellow Beach City residents evolve over the course of the show, as they all essentially work off of each other to slowly grow and become better people.  We also see the difference in the way the various friendships work, some characters being more social or asocial than others, some being more eccentric or more talkative, over the course of the series we learn more about the Beach City residents and we see how their friendship with Steven effects them both positively and negatively.

 

III. Dealing With Negative Emotions

Over the course of the show we have seen various subjects like Anxiety, Depression, Anger, self-doubt, fear, jealousy and sorrow all put on in full display and how the various characters have dealt with these emotions.  The show helps the audience accept that these feelings are part of life, but they do not define us and can only destroy or control us if we let them.  From Connie or Steven dealing with the fallout of Anxiety or Lapis being Jealous of a potential new roommate we see how these characters in both good ways and bad deal with their negative emotions and how these things can help or harm them in the long run.

 

IV: Love

While the word itself has become a bit of a cliché, Steven Universe uses love very well, from Platonic to Romantic to undefined relationships, love is a key part of why the characters do what they do. Ruby and Saphire’s love for one another allows them to remain fused as Garnet, Steven’s love for Connie allowing him to fuse with her in battle, or Pearl’s love for Rose causing her to remain dedicated to the Crystal Gem cause and protecting the Earth, or Steven’s love for his father and the of the residents of Beach City being a big reason for his desire to both befriend and protect them.  While it may be cliché, Steven Universe shows that love can be a positive and powerful force in our lives if we let it in and use it properly.

 

 

Overall this is just a light touch on the level of emotional depth and complexity the series has come to portray over the years.  Like with many modern animations there is much more to it than meets the eye and if you are willing to have an open mind and open heart you might just learn a thing or two from Steven and his family.

 

 

Steven Universe: Wanted special premiers tonight @ 7 P.M./6 P.M. Central on Cartoon Network.

Thoughts On: Building Better Fanbases

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One of the most common complaints in the digital age and even before is how insane and down right toxic fandoms for everything from Comics to Cartoons, Film to television to video games can and have been.  One thing I always find myself wondering is why things are like this and really there is no easy singular answer to this question but today I will be doing the best I can to from my perspective point out the various flaws in the way we as both groups and individuals portray ourselves as fans.  So without further hesitation I ask if you will please humor me and see what you think, am I spot on or way off the mark?

 

 

I. The Psychology of A Fan

1: Fulfilling A Need:  Before one can ask what is wrong with fandom we must first ask why we become a fan of something in the first place?  There is of course no right or wrong answer, different people gain or lose interest in things for different reasons.  However in base psychological terms one could argue that we become a fan because we feel the thing we gain interest in fulfills a psychological &/or emotional need that was previously missing in our lives or was not present to a degree that we were satisfied with.  Whether it is  being inspired by superheroes, letting animation tug at your heartstrings or satisfying your adrenaline rush with certain scifi and horror franchises we all have our own reasons for partaking in the fictions we choose as they give us something we feel everyday life doesn’t and if we like what we partake in well enough, and if we feel it can help fulfill what we see as a gap in our emotional and psychological needs we will justifiably become a long time fan.

2: Obsession:  This is one step that every fan enters to some degree during their lives and it is arguably the most dangerous one to navigate through.  After we get our first hit of something we keep coming back for more, like an addict we can become increasingly obsessed with a character/series/franchise of choice to where it can consume every facet of our lives and we think about it every waking moment of our existence, we branch out from just casual enjoyment to a more hardcore endearment towards our new found obsession.  While this in and of itself is not always a bad thing and may just result in joining a forum or two, occasionally drawing some fan art, watching some Youtube videos and getting a couple of knick-knacks here and there for others and can become an extreme it can result in doing everything you do, every action being about or for this thing you now love to a point to where like any other addict it can interfere with your real life and the relationships with in it.  If left unchecked obsession can lead to an individual being unable to handle any form of criticism towards the thing they like taking a general critique of it as a personal attack on their honor and person which can lead to never ending ever increasing extreme and ridiculous arguments between different factions both within and outside of fan communities.  This is the most dangerous part of the fan life because it can easily lead fans to extremist levels of overreliance of the thing the love and lead them to be so out of touch with reality that they would openly threaten the life of another person for merely having a different opinion or viewpoint than them on it.  Thankfully though many of us grow out of this phase and slowly learn that not every negative word given is an attack on their person.

3: Control & Reconciliation VS Submission:

If you manage to wade through the sea of obsession you will eventually find yourself at the shores of sanity once more.  You can acknowledge that you are a fan of something, accept you may be a fan of this thing for the rest of your lifetime, but you also accept that it is merely an interest a hobby, just one part of your character and psyche and not the totality of your being.  You realize that it is OK if not everyone else has the same interests as you and that it is OK if people like the things you like for different reasons. You learn to control yourself and only indulge in excess content related to this thing you love in moderation over reasonable periods of time and within reasonable expense.   You know there will always be people that both like and dislike your thing and that’s OK.  However if you don’t eventually get to a point where you break free of the bright and shiny lights of obsession you in a way are submitting to something, letting this thing that doesn’t even exist on the same plane as you, letting a mere idea and dream, a metaphysical existence control you and your actions.  Instead of being a mere fan you are now a servant to this force with no will of your own and like a cultist you blindly follow it wherever it goes and whatever the hive mind of the community says.   This is a very dangerous path to tread down as it can stunt personal growth not only as a fan of something but as a person as well.  At the end of the day we have to stand tall and say that we control our interests and that they do not control us.

 

In closing while being a fan can be a very satisfying experience we need to like with any other aspect of our lives practice these things in moderation and sensibility.  We are the ones responsible for our actions both good and bad while participating in a fan community and no level of delusion or obsession can ever justify treating a fictional character or creature with more decency and respect than a living one.  We must learn to keep ourselves in check and not overact to every thing said about our interests we dislike.

 

II. Fixing The Cracks

 

  1. Acknowledging Alternative Views:  While it is true that many sites and critics will be purposely overly negative or unprofessional to rile-up controversy just to get easy clicks and advertisement we should realize that not everyone who has a view differing from our own is out to harm or demonize the things you enjoy, in the wise words of the great sage Linkara “Get over yourself internet, not everyone has the same interests as you!”

2. Putting The Pro Back in Professional:  The advent of the digital age has arguably caused critics both young and old to get a bit lackadaisical in their practices, far too many critics online and in print form have taken a more hostile and troll like approach to their job.  Given this smug sense of elitism has always existed in the profession to a degree but we have known for decades you can dissect a film or any work of art and storytelling without being cruel even if most of your conclusions of it are negative ones.  Critics may be getting paid or praised for their word but at the end of the day they are also a type of fan and it is important to be aware of ones own confirmation biases both positive and negative when going into a review and still trying to give everything you view an even shake and letting each individual work stand or fall on its own legs.

 

3. Talking about the issues:  Whether we like to admit it or not things like Toxic Masculinity, Mental Instability,  Exclusivist mindsets, Sexism, Racism, Homophobia and every other nasty part of human nature can and do butt their ugly heads into fan communities.  It is important we continue to discuss these issues and call out those guilty of these practices to help make a better and safer fan community for those from all walks of life.

 

III. Final Thoughts

Overall the points and topics presented here are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the complexity of human interaction and how fans and fanbases/communities view one another.  In truth you could write an entire series of books about the psychology of the various fanbases on the internet and it could take a lifetime to even get everyone on board to consider addressing the problems inherent in their communities but I do believe that if we are willing to acknowledge the faults both within ourselves and the communities both online and off that we partake in we can make better more professional, mature, caring and empathetic fans in the future.  Or who knows maybe i’m just a madman.

Countdown To Free Comic Book Day 2017 Finale: True Heroes!

Free Comic Book Day 2017 is Almost Upon us!  And to close off our list of books to look out for at this years FCBD is the classic superhero!  So get your tights, capes & utility belts and get ready to hunt down these heroic books & events! 

52 (DC)

Action Comics (DC)

All-Star Batman (DC)

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows (Marvel)

Armor Wars Deluxe Edition (Valiant)

Aquaman (DC)

Batgirl (DC)

Batman (DC)

Batman Beyond (DC)

Birds of Prey (DC)

 Black Canary (DC)

Black Panther (Marvel)

Black Panther & Crew (Marvel)

Blackest Night (DC)

Blue Beetle (DC)

Bombshells (DC)

Bloodshot (Valiant)

Brightest Day (DC)

Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye (DC)

Convergence (DC)

Crisis on Infinite Earths (DC)

Cyborg (DC)

DC Universe Rebirth Deluxe Edition (DC)

Detective Comics (DC)

Doom Patrol (DC/Vertigo/YoungAnimal)

Earth-2 (DC)

Earth-2: Worlds End (DC)

Earth-2: Society (DC)

Faith (Valiant)

Final Crisis (DC)

The Flash (DC)

Flashpoint (DC)

Forever Evil (DC)

Future’s End (DC)

Generation Zero (Valiant)

Green Arrow  (DC)

Green Hornet (Dynamite)

Green Lantern (DC)

Green Lantern Corps  (DC)

Green Lantern: New Guardians (DC)

Green Lanterns (DC)

Hellblazer (DC/Vertigo)

Infinite Crisis (DC)

Infinity Gauntlet  (Marvel)

Invincible (Image)

Justice League 

Justice League of America  (DC)

Justice League Dark (DC)

Justice League: Generation Lost  (DC)

Justice League Unlimited (DC)

Kingdom Come (DC)

Legend of Wonder Woman (DC)

Multiversity: Deluxe Edition (DC)

Ninjak (Valiant)

New Super-Man (DC)

Nightwing (DC)

Old Man Logan (Marvel)

Omega Men (DC)

Red Hood & The Outlaws (DC)

Robin: Son of Batman (DC)

Savage Dragon (Image)

Secret Six (DC)

Secret Wars (Marvel)

Shade: The Changing Girl (DC/Young Animal)

The Shadow  (Dynamite)

The Spirit  (Dynamite)

Supergirl (DC)

Superman (DC)

Super Sons (DC)

Swamp Thing (DC)

Teen Titans (DC)

Telos (DC)

Titans (DC)

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Marvel)

Vision (Marvel)

Wolverine (Marvek)

Wonder Woman (DC)

Wrath of The Eternal Warrior (Valiant)

X-Men (Marvel)

X-O MANOWAR (Valiant)

Youngblood (Image)
And there you have it a go to guide to superheo comics for FCBD tomorrow! Hope you have A great one!

Countdown To FCBD Day 3: For The Gamers!

Comics often crossover with other forms of media, and one of the most notable in the 21st Century would be video games.  So to all the gaming guys & gals out there here are some books to look out for come Free Comic Book Day!

Assasins Creed (Titan)

Call of Duty (Darkhorse)

Darkstalkers (Udon)

Dragon Age (Titan)

Injustice (DC)

Legend of Zelda: Legendary Edition  (VIZ)

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (VIZ)

Megaman (Archie)

Megaman Megamix/Gigamix (Udon)

Mortal Kombat (DC)

Pokemon Adventures (VIZ)

Ratchet & Clank (DC/Wildstorm)

Resident Evil (VIZ)

Sonic Boom (Archie)

Sonic Universe  (Archie)

Splatoon (VIZ)

Street Fighter (Udon)

Street Fighter X G.I.Joe (IDW)

Swordquest (Dynamite)

Tekken (Titan)

World of Warcaft (Wildstorm)

Countdown To FCBD Reccomindations Day 2: Sci-Fi, Horror & Suspense!

In day 2 of our countdown we have a list of Horror, Sci-Fi & Suspense titles for older fans to take a look at come Free Comic Book Day!


28 Days Later (IDW)

Afterlife With Archie  (Archie)

Aliens (Darkhorse)

Animosity  (Aftershock)

AVP (Darkhorse )

Black Eyed Kids (Aftershock)

Blackest Knight (DC)

Buffy (Darkhorse)

Cannibal (Image)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Archie)

Creepy (Darkhorse)

Demon Knights (DC)

Future’s End (DC)

Ghostbusters (IDW)

Ghost Rider (Marvel)

Hellboy (Darkhorse)

Infestation (IDW)

I, Vampire  (DC)

Justice League Dark (DC)

Marvel Zombies  (Marvel)

The Normals (Aftershock)

Predator (Darkhorse) 

She-Wolf (Image)

Silent Hill  (IDW)

Tales From The Crypt (EC)

Walking Dead (Image)
  And there you have it, a list of terrifying & thrilling titles to look for come FCBD!

Black Cloud #1 Review

Publisher: image tumblr_oj8kbjohQp1r8ybe2o1_500

Written By: Jason Latour, Ican Brandon

Art By: Greg Hinkle, Matt Wilson

Letters By: Aditya Bidikar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Cloud is a new indie series from Image Comics written by the same team responsible for Spider-Gwen (Marvel) and Southern Bastards (image).  If I were to try to describe what it is about just by going off what I had read I would undoubtedly fail at doing so, instead I will just quote the synopsis given for the book instead.

“Zelda was born in a world of dreams, and hers burned bigger than anyone had ever seen.

Now she’s on the run in our world, the dreams broken in her hands.

But the pieces are for sale, the rich and the powerful are buying, and suddenly her world isn’t the only place Zelda’s running from.”

 

In theory this sounds like an interesting story, however the execution is sorely lacking the book doesn’t do much to explain what is going on to the reader other than the vague bare essentials we Know the main character is running from something in this alternate world, but we don’t know why, we know she is strapped for cash and taking jobs for spoiled rich people, but we don’t know why.  Not that there is anything wrong withholding information to create suspense or mystery for a story, but the book doesn’t even manage to do that properly.  There is no feeling of suspense or tension throughout the entire book, not even when the lead character is confronted by a group of dream world inhabitants that are less than happy to see here.  The book also feels like it bounces around a lot which is always annoying in a story weather it is a film or a comic. Overall the first issue sadly seems to fall pretty flat for a concept with such potential.

 

On the art side of things however Greg Hinkle and Matt Wilson do a solid job of bringing the story to life with nice color or sometimes lack of color palate and decent character designs for the cast of both the real and dream worlds.

 

Overall Black Cloud is a good story in theory but in execution it feels rushed and incomplete.  There is potential for this series to do great things in the future, but it will have to learn to take its time and flesh out its characters and world more if it wants to contend with other popular image titles like Saga or  The Wicked + The Divine anytime soon.

 

Final Grade

Story: 2

Art 6

Overall:  4 out of 10.

Adam Strange/Future Quest Special #1 Review

Warning: This post contains spoilers!

Disclaimer: this review is solely my opinion.  Adam Strange, Johnny Quest and related characters are property of DC Comics, Hanna-Barbera & Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Publisher: DC ComicsAdam-Strange-Future-Quest-Annual-1-600x922

Written By: Mark Anderyko, Jeff Parker, Dan Didio

Art By: Steve Lieber, Veronica Gandini, Phil Winslade, Chris Chuckry

Letters By: ALW Studios, Dave Lanphear, Nick J. Nap

 

 

 

 

 

The last week of five week months is often a dull one for comic shops, but thankfully March 2017 decided to be different and give us some great annuals and crossover specials from DC comics.  Today we take a look at the first of the four specials released Wednesday Adam Strange/Future Quest.  So without further adieu let the adventure begin!

Something important to note is that from a continuity perspective the story in this book takes place after the Death of Hawkman mini-series and issue #12 of Future Quest.  Neither are necessary reads to understand or enjoy the story, but the prior knowledge the two bring regarding the cast of characters in the book can lend to an extra layer of enjoyment for the reader.

The story starts with Adam Strange traveling through time and space uncontrollably via the Zeta beam after being stranded there at the end of the Death of Hawkman mini-series.  He escapes the Zeta beam via the vortex  and is found unconscious in the Lost valley by Johhny’s friend Todd who contacts Johnny and Hadji about the new development.  The Quest team are not the only ones made away of Adam’s arrival however as some agents of F.E.A.R. that have been stranded in the valley spot the newcomer as well.  The rest of the issue basically consists of Adam Strange and the Quest team trying to fight off some mind-controlled dinosaurs and fend off the agents of F.E.A.R. while trying to help Adam regain his lost memories and return home.   When Birdman appears and his resemblance to Hawkman helps Adam regain the rest of his memories the group goes on the offensive and they are able to send the evil agents off to be chased by the Herculoids and Adam is able to return home.

The second story in the book is a short back-up that previews the upcoming Top Cat ongoing that shows good ol TC stuck in Gotham city where he recounts his tragic tale to Batman and explains he and his friend Benny got transported there from his world and he is looking for his friend who got lost along the way.  The story is short, but solid set-up and gives us a good look at this version of Top Cat and co.

The stories as a whole are mostly entertaining romps, Jeff Parker gives us a solid script that builds on both of the series the special shoots out of and like with the main future quest series, both Adam Strange and the Quest team get ample time on panel to help showcase both are equal players in the story.  And while many of the cast of the main Future Quest book may not be present for the story itself, they are at least mentioned in passing as are the cast of Strange’s latest adventure.  Though overall I will admit compared to the rest of the crossover specials this one does feel a bit bland.   As for the back-up strip, while it is short it manages to use its eight pages well and crams in enough content to help justifiably explain how Top Cat has become DC’s equivalent to Howard the Duck while properly setting up for the ongoing series coming out later this year.

The art on the book is also well done as Steve Lieber and Victoria Gandini help the special retain that silver-age meets modern vibe the main Future Quest book has been known for.  And having as style that fits in line with the Johhny Quest cartoons with a slight indie vibe thrown in.   Phil Winslade and Chris Chuckery do a solid job on the Top Cat back-up as well balancing the darker colors of Gotham city with the more vibrant colors of Top Cat while still giving the strip a somewhat more serious Noir feel even with the cartoon elements.

Overall Adam Strange/Future Quest Special #1 may not be the strongest of the four crossover book released this week, but it is still a well executed and enjoyable read for what it is.

Final Grade

Story: 7

Art 7:

Overall: 7