Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bottom of the Pile: Feb. 15th, 2017

Everyone got Valentine's Day out of their system, for good or bad?  We ready to talk comics?  Cool--welcome to Bottom of the Pile.  If you didn't know, Bottom of the Pile is a column where I take some of my favorite comics (anywhere from 5 to 10, depending on the week) and talk about them.  It can be anything from funny commentary, exploration of the themes and ideas being used by the author, or even a flat-out mini-review.   The hope is that I get you interested in the comic itself, because if it found its way here there's a good chance I think it's one of the best on the stands that week.  Please feel free to share this column as many places as you like, and comment if you think it's good (or if you think it's bad).

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

7 Thoughts About Uchuu Sentai Kyuuranger: "Super Stars of Space"


It’s been nearly three years since I enjoyed a Sentai Sentai series.  Not since 2013’s excellent Kyoryuger.  I gave ToQger, Ninninger, and even Zyuohger all their own chances, but ultimately none of them could keep my interest, as I dropped all of them at various points before their finale.  I had even basically given up on the franchise before this series popped up—immediately it’s cool outfits and unique line-up that felt like a genuine change to the static Sentai formula caught my attention, and I resigned myself to giving this series a chance, waiting intently on the first episode.  Well, it’s finally arrived—so let’s dive in!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Anime Observations: Chain Chronicle Thoughts

This article's kinda petty, but I couldn't get this out of my head so...enjoy.



Six episodes into Chain Chronicle and I can’t actually decide whether I like this anime or not.  The animation is gorgeous—already responsible for some of the coolest looking action sequences this year that aren’t apart of Tales of Zestiria the X season two.   The art direction and style is boss too—the series isn’t afraid of using deep, vibrant colors and contrasting them with dark blacks and faded colors to show the difference between the heroes who are full of hope and defiance, and the villains who have given themselves up to the Black King.   Similarly for the most part I’m loving the eclectic designs of the different characters—the ornate armor of the knights and the way different races seem to be drawing from a variety of sources for their looks.  The humans take on a distinctly European look, while the ogre race have a Japanese appearance—but we still get plenty of pure fantasy with the mages and sprites.

On a purely aesthetic level this is as beautiful of a high fantasy world as anime has ever produced and fairly close to my dream for a fantasy anime.   The basic idea of the series isn’t too bad either—the first episode starts with a ragtag group of people from various nations locked in battle with the evil king’s army…only to be defeated and be forced to retreat, as the Black King continues to conquer the land, covering everything in darkness and making people serve him or die.   The series resembles Lord of the Rings if Frodo had failed to toss the Ring into Mount Doom and Sauron returned, which is a unique enough idea, only…

5 Thoughts About Supergirl: "Luthors"

1.)  As I was watching this episode, I had to do a double-take as I realized I recalled this episode was supposed to be almost entirely devoted to the relationship between Alex Danvers and Maggie Sawyer that was centered around Valentine’s Day.   That's I'd seen from a website covering the show, at least.  They even gave minor details—like how Alex was all about the holiday while Maggie thought it was just a Hallmark thing.  I'm actually pretty into that as an idea, but unfortunately that episode is actually scheduled for next week.  A bit weird in terms of timing--instead of getting our Valentine’s Day episode the week of Valentine’s Day, we’re getting it the week after.

I get it, though.  The Valentine's Day episode is described as focused almost entirely on the new couple, and since the whole subplot that lead to the two of them getting together took up quite a bit of time, they probably wanted to get them out of the spotlight (the two of them are barely a part of this episode at all) before they gave them an episode that was mostly all about them. Still, there was a really sweet moment where Alex introduced Maggie to her friends as her girlfriend, where everyone was pretty accepting—for now, I guess that’s good enough.

2.) This week sees the re-appearance of Lena Luthor though, delving deeper into her history as a part of the Luthor family. We were initially under the impression that she was adopted, but this episode her mother Lillian reveals she's actually the daughter of an illict relationship between her father and someone who worked for LexCorp. There’s an obvious nature vs. nurture argument happening here, but for as long as this series is a thing I hope they never go against her being the one decent Luthor.  Sometimes you’re a decent kid born to a family of jerks.  Lena’s been a real sweetheart, and it’s good that Kara has a female friend outside of her sister.  That said…

3.) The longer Kara is a reporter, the more annoying it becomes for me.  She’s basically learning a handful of lessons that involve her going against everything her super-experienced boss tells her.    From the kidnapping episode where she promises the paper will get a woman her missing child back, to this episode where there’s literally video footage of Lena helping her mother break out of jail and Kara asks why they would publish a story about her being guilty.  At a time where the biggest problem in America is fake news, it’s a little irksome that Kara’s evidence for why THIS news was fake was “well, I feel like it’s wrong”/”I trust her”.   I get that Kara needs to have some success in her life—but leave that to her Supergirl persona.   She needs to start learning the basics.  The best part of that sub-plot was when Snapper explained to her, “I didn’t have a bias.  Yesterday the news reported her guilty.  Today they reported her innocent.  It’s not bias—it’s the news.” 

4.) Maybe it’s me, maybe the CW has exhausted this plot point, but I’m really tired of the “will they/won’t they” subplot on all of these shows, and I’m hoping this is the point at which Mon-El and Kara start dating.  This rose its head again as a minor subplot, with Kara finally admitting to Mon-El she had feelings for him—though I’m not sure where that goes if he’s going to end up a thousand years in the future. 

5.) Of course, that’s not exactly Kara’s biggest problem right now.  Her biggest problem is Mr. Mxyzptlk having apparently taken a romantic interest in her…and that he’s gone from being a shrimp in a bowler hat to being a scruffy-faced hot English gentleman, because CW.  Still, I'm willing to give Peter Gadiot a chance to prove himself, as Mxyzptlk is usually one of Clark's most troublesome villains that doesn't just come to Earth with an army.  (Or is an army.)


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Bottom of the Pile - Feb 9th, 2017

This is absolutely late, and from now on I'm going to do my best to make these on time from now on.  For now, welcome to Bottom of the Pile.  If you didn't know, Bottom of the Pile is a column where I take some of my favorite comics (anywhere from 5 to 10, depending on the week) and talk about them.  It can be anything from funny commentary, exploration of the themes and ideas being used by the author, or even a flat-out mini-review.   The hope is that I get you interested in the comic itself, because if it found its way here there's a good chance I think it's one of the best on the stands that week.  Please feel free to share this column as many places as you like, and comment if you think it's good (or if you think it's bad).
Alters
One of the things I love about Alters is just how cocky Chalice is.  For one thing, I'm a sucker for a good, cocky hero.   But it also makes sense--her civilian life is about to go through a change that she can't actually control, so for her to have so much power as a superhero, it's got to be an empowering rush of excitement that makes it hard to be anything but overconfident.  She can be in two places at once, open portals to other locations, travel into alternate universes, and that's just what we've seen so far--we don't really know the fullest extent of her powers.
This issue takes place after what looks like a tiny little time skip--Chalice has joined the "Gateway Army" and is helping them find Alters to help them against Matter Man, while as a civilian Charlie has joined a support group to help her deal with coming out to her family and friends.  Alters so far is working like the old 80's/90's comics--there's just enough of a personal life to remind you that this isn't just a person walking around in a mask 24/7, while not so much to drown you and make you forget this is technically a superhero comic.   It's a sharp change from most of what we get now, where so many heroes are basically only friends with other heroes, date other heroes, and have either no job or work in a place where they have no need to keep up a front about their identity.   It's gotten to the point where there may as well not be any secret identities.

The end of the issue sees Chalice's arrogance get her into a bit of trouble though, as she finds herself caught and bound up by a group of Matter Man's flunkies.  Still, for a person who can literally manipulate her atoms as she pleases, I do have a bit of a tough time worrying about her being "captured" at all...