Saturday, February 28, 2009

Comics Hype Calendar

Its 2009. Darkseid's been smited, the Skrull Invasion's been sent packing, and things will never be the same.

...Or something. That was last year, which with us rapidly approaching March, I think we can all agree is well and truly over. Like I said, its 2009, and there's a whole new roster of comics coming this year.

But what about the months 2009 has already blown through? Well, to be fair, although there were some gems to be found in January and February, they were more transitionary months. For DC, we went through the incredibly boring "Faces of Evil" month in January, where the cover of every ongoing series featured a series-specific villain, and told stories either with that villain in them, or from that villain's perspective. Not giving two florgs about villains, you can imagine that wasn't a very interesting set of Wednesdays for me.

They followed that up with the incredibly depressing Origins and Omens month, where the stories were normal, but followed by back-up stories featuring Origins of the characters along with portents of what would be happening in that book for the rest of the year, with the ending always depressing because, well, the back-ups were being told by a villain.

Meanwhile, over at Marvel, they've been dealing with the immediate fall-out of their 2008 event, Secret Invasion. Which I never read.

Just basically some all-around boring stuff. Its only now that we're hitting March that there's been anything worth talking about. Now, admittedly, I don't know everything coming out in '09, so this list is in no way comprehensive, but let's go down the months for what we *do* know.

February




R.E.B.E.L.S. - Okay, so February wasn't entirely boring, since this launched. R.E.B.E.L.S. is (hopefully) DC's attempt to flesh out the space corner of their universe, the way Marvel's been doing since 2006 or so. The way it goes is there's this brilliant alien from a planet called Colu (Brainiac's planet), named Vril Dox. Vril formed an intergalactic, private (read: gotta pay for 'em!) police force named L.E.G.I.O.N. (Licensed Extra-Governmental Interstellar Operatives Network.), but at the start of this series this force has been taken from him, and he creates a team called R.E.B.E.L.S. (Revolutionary Elite Brigade to Eradicate L.E.G.I.O.N. Supremacy) in order to take his organization back.

First issue was a bit slow, but crazy good. And given that writer Tony Bedard has already crafted kick-ass space stories before at CrossGen with Negation, and the beauty that is new artist Andy Clarke's art, I see no reason why I shouldn't be a *little* hyped. I also understand at some point this book's going to be given a companion title and a mini-event later in the year, which you can consider on the list, but invisible, since I don't know the names or creative teams or have an idea of what those future books would be about. (Come back to me in two months or so when the solicits for August or out.)

March



Battle for the Cowl - As of DC's last event Final Crisis, Batman's gone and believed to be dead. Obviously, Battle for the Cowl is the three issue mini-series of who gets to take his place. Will it be Dick Grayson, the original Robin that now does his heroing as Nightwing? Or will it be Jason Todd, the wayward son of the Bat-Family? Or Tim Drake, the current Robin? Or someone else completely unexpected? (Prolly not.) Who knows? I just wanna see people in tights smack each other around, which is something I'm sure I'll get outta this.



Superman: World of New Krypton - A 12 issue maxi-series being written by James Robinson and Greg Rucka, two of my favorite writers in comics. As a result of last year's completely awesome epic New Krypton story, there now exists a brand-new Krypton on the opposite side of the sun.

World of New Krypton is the story of how Superman interacts with his newly discovered people, and how he tries to be the same example to his own race that he is to Earth, only without the added benefit of being a superhero. (On this planet, everybody has his powers, after all.)

Just thinking about everything Superman will have to deal with in this story, both in terms of villains (Zod and Supergirl's mother Alura) and in terms of internal conflict (is he an Earthling, Kryptonian, or should he even make that choise as Superman) gets me giddy. The next 12 months should hopefully be pure win.



Action Comics - While Superman is busy on New Krypton, Action Comics will become the title of two new superheroes, Nightwing and Flamebird (pictured above on the right side of the image), and taken over by the writer/artist team Greg Rucka and Eddy Barrows. I'm mostly interested in this series because while I was never a big fan of Superman, over the course of 2007 and 2008 I became a fan of Kon-El (Superboy) and Linda Danvers (Supergirl). Two very cool characters who were kinda shoved out of the limelight a couple years ago during the Identity Crisis/Infinite Crisis-era, and I feel like giving them both the identities of these two mystery heroes would be a perfect way of incorporating these wonderful characters into this sweeping Superman epic.

Of course, this isn't completely likely, for a number of reasons that I won't go into here, but even if neither of my guesses turns out to be correct, there's still a great mystery those two characters are dealing with, and that alone is worth the price of admission.



War of Kings - Something I talked about during my SDCC post last year. Marvel's been doing a cosmic epic nearly every year for three years now, and War of Kings is the newest one. There are a lot of reasons why I'm hyped for this one. For one, I love the fleshing out stories like this give the Marvel Universe. It makes it seem like, y'know, an actual universe. Plus this story is going to feature the Starjammers--heroic space pirates! (I don't care for pirates, but for some reason space pirates are awesome. Them being heroes is just a big added bonus.) Lastly, this story is being done by the writing Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, who are responsible for my favorite run on the Legion of Super-Heroes, and being drawn by the amazing Paul Pelletier.

Solicit of the first issue for those who are too lazy to check out the SDCC post:
"In the aftermath of the Secret Invasion, Black Bolt has led the Inhumans on a shockingly savage path to restore their strength and security. But that path has brought them into direct confrontation with the Shi'ar Empire - and their mad ruler Vulcan! Who will get in the first strike? Who will fall on the bloody battlefield? Who will rule? The Imperial Guard, the Starjammers, the Inhuman Royal Family and more of your favorite sci-fi characters are locked on a collision course...and it all starts here! Join the acclaimed team of Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (NOVA) and Paul Pelletier (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) for a pivotal turning point in Marvel's cosmic history!"


I hope the Inhumans kick the Shi'ar's ass all over BOTH galaxies.




Farscape: Strange Detractors - A sequel to the current Farscape mini, both written (or at least, co-written) by series creator Rockne S. O'Bannon. I make no comments on the art--I'm just hyped at the idea of having more Farscape to enjoy after I get through watching all the episodes. Apparently this mini will see the crew dealing with their problems with one another, which I find works out great since some of the series' best moments came from team in-fighting.




The Muppet Show - Yet another project I mentioned in my SDCC post last year that's finally coming out. From BOOM! Studios, writer-artist Roger Langridge is handling the book. First up? A story about Fozzie, Gonzo, and the rest of the Muppet crew trying to cheer up Kermit, who's homesick for the swamp. I'm chuckling already. (FYI, that's the cover to the third issue, 'cause I find it a lot more amusing and typical of the Muppets.)


April




Captain America Comics #1 70th Anniversary Special - Its just what it says. Really simple, one-shot story with no (near as I can tell) plot developments that will "create widespread reprecussions in the present-day Marvel Universe" or whatever. But writer James Robinson's Starman was absolutely amazing, and artist Marcos Martin's work is equally so. And plus I have a real love for "retro" comics where they tell stories set in the past with modern-day storytelling techniques.



Sub-Mariner Comics #1 70th Anniversary Special - See above, except replace the name "James Robinson" with "Roy Thomas", a man whose love for all things Golden Age knows no bounds. Not sure about artist Mitch Breitweiser, but Namor is (or at least can be) an awesome character so I'm giving it a try.



Flash: Rebirth: I talked about this last year during my SDCC post as well. Now its only months away. Barry Allen's return and re-introduction to the DCU. Admittedly, even though I've seen five pages of the first issue, I STILL have no idea what's going on in this. But [writer] Geoff Johns is almost impossible to match up to in superhero comics right now, and [artist] Ethan van Sciver is one of the best artists in the business. Plus Barry Allen is one of DC Comics' greatest heroes--I see no reason to think this won't kick mucho arse.



Eureka: Dormant Gene: Hey, did you know the guys that made up Eureka own a comic book company called BOOM! Studios? I didn't until a few weeks ago. Anyway, apparently in addition to what airs on Sci-Fi, they're also working on putting out several canon mini-series, this being the second this year, apparently focusing on Zoe and the mystery surrounding her new crush. Little simplistic, but amusing Eureka stories have been known to spin out from stuff like this before, so hey.



Farscape: D'Argo's Lament: A flashback tale taking place during season three. The story focuses on D'Argo (of course) and Jool, who are stuck in the middle of a planetary war. No real comments to be made aside from mild disappointment at the lack of John Crichton in this book, since the dynamic he shared with D'Argo was always priceless.

Muppets' Robin Hood: Yeah, if I haven't made it clear, I love the Muppets. So the idea of a retelling of the Robin Hood legend a la Muppets? There's just no way I'm avoiding this. Life can't always be funny costumes and explosions, folks.




Exiles - The Exiles are Marvel's universe-hopping team. Seeing as how I do so love alternate universes (happy/interesting ones, at least), I've always wanted to read their adventures but for the past couple years they haven't been by the most talented guy. (Well, he USED to be talented, but one can only take so much exposition each issue...) But the book is being relaunched in April with a new direction and a new writer/artist team, and its going to rock. Jeff Parker has already proven to me he can do a good team book with his work on Marvel's X-Men: First Class, another of Marvel's "retro" stories, this time about the original X-Men. Showing himself capable of writing funny and engaging stories, I can only imagine what the guy can do when he doesn't have to run every detail past editorial so that it "fits" in continuity.

May


Sherlock Holmes - Thanks to a friend of mine, I've developed an affinity for Holmes stories, plus I've always loved Victorian-era stories. (Y'know, when they're not boring.) That plus its being written by Leah Moore, daughter of Alan Moore, and her husband John Reppion, and there's no way I can avoid checking this out.


Human Torch Comics #1 70th Anniversary Special: The specials celebrating Marvel's 70 years of existing continue. In this case though, the hype is a little different. I don't know the writer *or* the artist's work, but I do know the character. See, long before Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ever thought of bombarding a scientist, his best friend, his wife and her brother with "cosmic rays", there existed an android with the power to burst into flames at will. He was called the Human Torch. He's a character that existed primarily in the 30's and 40's, fighting the Axis powers and occasionally throwing down with Marvel's other big superhero of the time, Namor. Once again, I do love "retro comics", so I'm curious to see what will come of this one-shot.



Marvel Mystery Comics #1 70th Anniversary Special: Marvel's superheroes of the 40's team up to smackdown some Nazis. Win.




Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers: All I know about this book is that it features a teleporting dog (Lockjaw), a mini-dragon (Lockheed), a frog with Thor-like powers (yes, you heard), and a cat. And they're going to save the world from...y'know what, who cares? This is ALREADY Awesome Squared! A teleporting dog? Freaking FROG THOR?! Seriously, if they can talk then its already on its way to being one of the coolest mini-series this year. (Also: Too bad there's no hero bunny on this team.)




Batman in Barcelona: Dragon's Knight - Mark Waid, one of the coolest writers in comics, doing a Batman one-shot. 'Nuff said.

(...Okay, maybe not. For those in need of more info, a summary from the writer himself:

Essentially, what has happened is Killer Croc has been brainwashed by Scarecrow and the Mad Hatter into believing he is the reincarnation of the dragon that slew St. George in the original myths.

The myth of St. George and the dragon is one of the great stories of all time in Spanish culture. It's about the gallant knight who slew the dragon that was preying upon women of the countryside and killing a woman a day until the great knight showed up to save the country.

So Mad Hatter and Scarecrow convinced brainwashed Croc into believing he's the reincarnation of that dragon, and it's his destiny to kill the great knight, which in his eyes is Batman.

The story takes place in Barcelona because that's where the Festival of St. George is going on. It's a real holiday like our St. Valentine's Day times 10. It's one of the great holidays in Spain and it is a day of lovers, a day of romance, and like I said, it's also a day of honoring the great mythical victory of the knight over the dragon. So Killer Croc is making it all play out in modern times.)




Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance!
- Six issue mini-series by writer Joe Casey and artist Chriscross, Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance, follows one of the remaining....hm. Its not really a loose end, but it does follow a group of characters who debuted in FC, the Super Young Team are a team of superheroes from Japan. They helped save the world (and existence, really) during FC, but in this mini they've become little more than typical Japanese "idols" to pay the bills.

There are a number of reasons why I'm excited about this. First off, since the beginning I've supported DC's interest in allowing for each country to have at least one superhero team. Its a brilliant idea, and I love to see what heroes get made up for which country. Like it or not, superheroes are America's biggest legends/fables, so taking an inherently American concept and applying it to other countries just seems...intriguing to me. Secondly, Joe Casey is a freaking genius writer, responsible for several classics over at Marvel. (Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes volumes 1 and 2, Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin..) One downside though: The cover artist is NOT the interior artist. Natch!

There are three other Final Crisis Aftermath minis-- Ink (following the Tattooed Man and his struggle to stay heroic), Escape (following Nemesis and a number of other espionage agents captured by the "Global Peace Agency" at the close of FC), and Run (following the Human Flame on the run from all the heroes and villains he pissed off). The short summaries I added should tell you why I have no interest.



Power Girl - This is definitely a case of the creative team making me read a character I normally have no interest in. Power Girl is the cousin of the original Earth-2's Superman, and this is her ongoing series. I'm not really a huge fan of this character--in fact she can be downright annoying. But I'm absolutely in love with artist Amanda Conner's artwork (she does facial expressions like nobody's business) which is pictured above, and writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray were talented enough to keep Hawkman from sucking back in 2003 or so after Geoff Johns left the book, so I figured why not try it out? (And its nice to see a hero not in the JLA get a title.)



The Unknown -

From the solicit:

She has solved every mystery known to man. But there is one mystery that remains unknown! Revered as the smartest person alive, Catherine Allingham is the world's most famous private investigator. Follow her adventures as she sets out to solve the one mystery she's never been able to crack! A new original mini-series from Mark Waid in the vein of Ruse with international superstar Minck Oosterveer.


Mark Waid back when he did Ruse (think Sherlock Holmes, except with an attractive female assisstant in the place of Watson, who sometimes had superpowers) created some amazing stories. If this is more of that? Sweet! (Though I miss the steampunk setting.)

June



Detective Comics - Like Superman, Bruce Wayne has been taken out of his normal titles for the forseeable future. Who's going to be in Batman is something that won't be known for another three months yet, when the previously mentioned Battle for the Cowl story wraps up. On the other hand though, Detective Comics already has its new star--Kathy Kane, Batwoman. Introduced in DC's first weekly series 52, Kathy's been popping up in Gotham every six months or so, but hasn't really had a chance to shine until now. Writer Greg Rucka and artist JH Williams team up to create 12-14 issues of stories to flesh out one of DC Comics' biggest question marks.

Which is good 'cause at the moment I don't care much about her since all I know is that she's as rich as Bruce, has red hair...and that other thing. But Greg Rucka writes kick-ass female heroes and JH Williams, well....shit man. LOOK at that art!

There's a load of other Bat-Titles coming out in June--Batman and Robin, Red Robin, Batgirl, Streets of Gotham, and Gotham City Sirens, all launching alongside the relaunched Detective Comics and Batman series. But as I have no info on who'll be in them, or even any info on the creative teams, they're barely on my radar.




Superman: Secret Origin
- Writer extraordinaire Geoff Johns and legendary artist Gary Frank team-up to give us Superman's origin story for the second or third time this decade. I would go on to call it unnecessary, except in all my years as a comic book fan, I've never read a Superman origin story.

Plus, this one's not only written by my favorite superhero writer, and not only drawn by one of the best artists in the industry, but its also the first origin for Superman in thirty years that's able to use those Silver Age elements (Clark as Superboy, him being friends with the Legion of Super-Heroes, etc..) that make the Super-mythos so rich. Its going to rock.




Adventure Comics - I'm kinda embarassed to put this on the list. All I know is that its a new ongoing by writer Geoff Johns and artist Francis Manapul (Geoff has impeccable taste in artists). The book will supposedly take place in the present, the 30th century, and an as-yet unspecified third time. Its partially a Legion of Super-Heroes book, but they won't be the only ones--in fact, the book will have a (currently unknown) central character. (Character, singular.) I'm not quite "hyped" about this book, but I am crazy curious.

July




Blackest Night - The culmination of five years of storytelling, starting with 2005's Green Lantern: Rebirth, Blackest Night is possibly DC's most looked foward to series of 2009, and has been since it was teased at the end of the 2007 Green Lantern mini-event, Sinestro Corps War.

As beings across the universe learn to tap into the energy of the emotional spectrum, the prophecies of the Book of Oa one by one come to pass. Writer Geoff Johns and artist Ivan Reis tell the story of the DC Universe's Blackest Night, summed up aptly in the tagline: "Across the universe, the dead shall rise." With the insane number of dead heroes, dead friends of heroes, and dead family members of heroes that have accumulated over the years, I can only imagine the effects this will have on the heroes of the DCU. Hope the Green Lantern Corps can survive... (I can take or leave the Green Lanterns' Guardians, though. Those guys have pretty nearly worn out their welcome.)




Doctor Who - Writer Tony Lee (creator of the brilliant Doctor Who: The Forgotten mini-series) gets to try his hand at a Doctor Who ongoing. Though I'm new to the Who, I've become quite a fan after realizing he was one of The Greatest Fucking Heroes Ever. A Doc Who comic is almost like a dream come true. Hopefully we can get one or two arcs out of the Tenth Doctor before they swap him out for the new guy.


I don't much about what's coming out after July, so I have to sorta stop here. I do know a few things, but either they don't have release dates, or I just know vague details, like the following:

- The Marvels Project - An eight issue mini-series by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. Set in the late 30's/early 40's, it'll be a series about the origins of Marvel's earliest heroes. Apparently "The Right Stuff" with superheroes. Has the potential to be insanely awesome. No release date.

- DC's next two weekly comic series.

- Whatever comic event and companion book come out of R.E.B.E.L.S.

- Whatever Transformers series it is that spins out of Maximum Dinobots.

- Whatever Batman book Grant Morrison ends up writing after Battle for the Cowl in June.

That wraps it up. I've got a few more articles that should pop up over the next couple of days, probably as long as this or longer, so after them I'm going to make a real effort towards shortening these things.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

So Marvel's releasing a Thor movie in 2010 and a Cap movie in 2011, what are you doing DC?

Why, a Suicide Squad movie, of course. What the fuck, DC. I realize Marvel started off with Blade, but then they ramped up the star status and moved on to recgonizable names like X-Men, and later Spider-Man. At this point in the game, they're doing A-List (to us comic nerds) heroes like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. If things go as planned for them, they should have an Avengers movie out just a few months after Cap's movie.

And what about you, DC? What have you done? Batman Begins was amazing, and The Dark Knight has net you an Oscar, something I doubt Marvel will ever manage with their main superheroes unless they do a direct adaptation of one of their comic mini-series. No, don't look at Constantine. That's Vertigo. And take your eyes off Watchmen. You don't get to lay claim to it now that its a hit when you wouldn't let Alan Moore use the Charlton characters when he originally wrote it. Your only claims to fame are Superman Returns, which is analagous to Fantastic Four (except IT got a sequel), and Catwoman, which....it speaks for itself.

This is inexcusable. Warner's is one of the biggest movie companies there is. You should've had five times as many movies by now, most of which should've been a success financially and at least half of them critically.

Marvel deserves to kick your ass. They're getting franchises off the ground that should be off the ground. Even your attempts piss me off.

Jonah Hex? He's cool and all, but c'mon, why is he being done before even a hero like the Atom or Hawkman?

Supermax remains the most idiotic idea since Smallville. So you're going to make a movie about Green Arrow, featuring a whole bunch of DC villains, but NOBODY'S going to wear costumes. ....What. The. Fuck. Have you never heard of Name Recognition? Nobody knows who the fuck Green Arrow is, and you're going to START with a movie like this? And costume-less villains? C'mon, how many villains does the average public know about that aren't Batman villains? You're going to put Killer Frost, Heatwave, and Livewire in there, but without costumes. Absolutely brilliant. This would barely make a decent comic book.

And now, Suicide Squad. Another kick to the balls.

After Batman Begins, Superman should've gotten a reboot, but we instead we got Superman 2.5 taking place in a franchise that was twenty years old. Comics are rarely insane enough to try something like this.

You also own Wonder Woman. Y'know, the most well-known superheroine in comics. There are so many different ways you could use this character, from a World War II period film to a contemporary "Year One" tale. (You could've even gone with a stereotypical feminist film, if you wanted to be lazy, though the goal is to make GOOD movies so I wouldn't advise it.)

Green Lantern's got a release date, but how it managed to get on the slate before you ironed out the Superman and Wonder Woman franchises boggles my mind. Besides that...you've got superhero writer extraordinaire Geoff Johns creating some of the most amazing work in comic books on Green Lantern...and you didn't approach him to write the screenplay for this movie?! Who was the person who okay'd that? Don't get me wrong, there's still a chance this could be a great movie...but you gave up a slam dunk for a free throw. The writers might be gold at them, or they might be Shaq. Good luck.

Meanwhile Marvel's got the directors of movies actually talking to the writers that are working on the same characters in the comics. Marvel's Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada is in what's going on in the Thor movie. Invincible Iron Man writer Matt Fraction was called in for consulting on the Iron Man 2 film. When you go to a Marvel panel at a convention, you get a sense that if you were to ask their EIC a question related to the movies or the cartoons, they might actually be able to tell you something. Meanwhile at a DC panel one of the first things they make clear is that they don't have any say on what goes on in the movies. Massive fail.

The Flash movie should've been released no more than 90 days after the Green Lantern movie to show how they're almost like "brother" superheroes. Ryan Reynolds would make a perfect Wally West. Instead he's off playing Deadpool in Wolverine: Origins.

Aquaman. Captain Marvel. Justice League of America (with J'onn as the focal character after you've already made a movie for Bats, Supes, WW, GL and Flash...and maybe Aquaman). Justice Society of America. Metal Men. The Atom. Hawkman. Green Arrow. Teen Titans. The list of heroes you can make stories about is endless.

There are even comics you could easily use as storyboards. DC's got a whole line of "Year One" comics begging to be adapted into movies.

But we get Suicide Squad. DC, you suck. :P

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sage Spoils The Plot: Kamen Rider Decade

Starting a new section today, entitled Sage Spoils The Plot. I pondered over this name for quite a while, but as I thought about it, I realized calling it commentary or blogging or whatever is just bullshit. What you're REALLY doing is spoiling the plot and adding your own brand of shitty humor. So, why not be honest? Plus, Sage Spoils The Plot has kind of a ring to it.

For the first section we're doing the new Kamen Rider series of 2009, Kamen Rider Decade. Kamen Rider checks a lot of "totally fucking awesome" boxes for me. A lot of people might call it, "Japanese Power Rangers" (which is untrue from the start since that already exists) due to the suits and the fight scenes. I accept this. That said, its proof that anything done right can be cool--so when you get rid of the over-acting, toss in a good plot (exceptionally good plots actually), add in some well done characterization, and tone down the stupid-level of the fight scenes and make them look less like they're aimed at six year olds and more like they belong in a high-budget action film, I like to think you get Kamen Rider. And you still get to keep the shiny suits and weapons. Its a win-win! (For me, anyways.)

Anyway. As it should be apparent from the name, Kamen Rider Decade is the 10th anniversary of the New Generation Rider series. (For the record, that's a bit of common terminology. There's the "Old Gen" Riders, which are all the series made when Shotaro Ishinomori, the series creator, was making up all the series--it goes from 1971's Kamen Rider to 1988's Kamen Rider Black RX. The "New Gen" Riders are the ones created after the series creator's death, with the exception of the initial series, 1999's Kamen Rider Kuuga, and it brings us to present day.) As a sort of tenth year anniversary, Decade has the potential to be the most awesome series yet.

Essentially, there are nine (other) Kamen Riders on nine worlds, and those nine are starting to merge together with the tenth world, which will eventually destroy them all. Decade's job is to save all ten worlds by traveling to each world and destroying the other nine Riders. (I know, it doesn't make sense. There's clearly a lot more to this.) The awesome part is that with THIS premise, we'll get to revisit the other nine Riders as he travels to the other worlds to meet/fight them.

Anyway, enough bullshit, let's get on with the spoiling!

So, this series starts out with a young girl standing in the middle of nowhere in a fucked up, tattered dress that looks like it came from a homeless person's rummage sale.


She stays on screen just long enough for your brain to finally ask the question "what the hell is going on" when bang! zoom! crash!---an explosion hits and we're introduced to what I can only describe as...The War of the Kamen Riders.



I'm still trying to figure out which Riders went to the Super Sentai universe and jacked the giant fucking robots, but hey, whatever. I have to admit...they pulled NO FUCKING PUNCHES on this. Toku is usually about making the low-budget special effects seem as cool as possible. ...With that in mind, they clearly blew a CRAPLOAD of money on this opening scene. When they mentioned that all the previous nine Kamen Riders would be around, I was expecting JUST those Riders, in their suits, and that's it. (This is about all we got for the 25th anniversary Gaoranger versus Super Sentai movie, after all.) But, that ain't what happens.

We get the dragons from Ryuki...

Kamen Rider Agito and Kamen Rider G3 on their bikes...(What's ironic here? Is that while these other guys are so much flashier, with their big-ass robots and fire-shooting dragons and so on? These two are the strongest fucking Riders in existence. Trust me. In fact, its impossible to BE stronger than Agito. More on that later though.)

We get a number of flying Riders from God knows where...though I do spot Kamen Rider Blade and Kamen Rider Garren in their Jack Forms. (Blade's in the first picture, closest to the forefront, Garren's in the second picture, in the far left hand corner.)
And, more aerial Riders, along with a better picture of Blade and Garren...


And while we're in the air, we're introduced to Castle Drago, with Ryuki riding on its head and Kiva on the little house structure behind him. Now. WHY, exactly, Ryuki's riding on Kiva's castle--when he has his OWN fucking dragon (see above), I don't know. But Ryuki was always a bitch, so maybe that's the only explanation necessary.



We even get to see the black sheep of the New Gen Kamen Rider, Hibiki, on top of his giant robot, Kaleidoscope Prime. (I have no idea what its really called but...wow, really? That passes for a enemy of evil and a fearsome ally to a Hero of Justice in your universe, Hibiki? Really? O-kay, if you say so.)


And, then a full regimen of the Riders who actually rode their bikes instead of them just appearing for the purpose of selling the toy... (The one in red is Kuuga, the one behind him is Faiz. The second picture is of Den-O...an unluckier bastard you'll NEVER find...)








Okay, when I said they went all out, I wasn't kidding...the next bit even has a Rider who only appeared in the movies of a previous series, and never in the actual television show itself! From the left, Kamen Rider Caucausus, Kamen Rider Chalice, and then the guy in gold and black is Kamen Rider Zabee.





And again, more proof that they're banking on Kamen Rider Decade to make them lots of money because they're clearly willing to spend a crapload... here's Kamen Rider Zolda and his Contract Monster, Magnugiga (its a minotaur outfitted with more weapons than Marvel Comic's War Machine armor), as well as Den-O's Den-Liner.




Like I said...they worked overtime to evoke just how insanely powerful and just how many tricks the New Gen Riders have built up over the years. ....Trouble is (and what I've been leaving out this entire time), the end result is this:


Kamen Rider Graveyard!!!!! Oh noes! And in the midst of all this mess? Indeed, at the center, hovering like a Kamen Rider Je...okay, not so much as he looks too evil for that...like the Ultimate Kamen Rider Slayer, is a new Rider. And yeah, you guessed it, he's our new Rider: Decade.




Its at this point the opening song starts. This speaks again to just how much money they were willing to spend on this series, as they went and hired lead singer of Malice Mizer and well-known Japanese metrosexual crossdresser, Gackt, to do the opening. Nothing against the guy, but they would've been better off sticking with their normal group, Rider Chips, a rock band that formed *specifically* because of their affinity for Kamen Rider, and have done a number of openings and endings for him. I guess it kind of fits, as its a very somber song, and as Decade's fate seems to be to destroy nine heroes in order to save everything, I don't see him being a very cheerful fellow. (...On that note, as an aside, there better be a good explanation for this. The opening has Decade taking down some guys that...well...he can't. He just isn't that good, at least so far as I know.) Still, Rider Chips has managed to do somber before, and still keep the energy I feel is necessary for a Tokusatsu/Kamen Rider series.

Anyway, no more bitching about the opening, as its over. We come back to the Kamen Rider Graveyard, and the focus is back on the girl. If you haven't figured it out, it was all a dream, and now we're back in a normal kind of world with said girl being suddenly accosted by a group of angry patrons complaining about badly taken pictures. Apparently, this is a common occurence.



After dumping the photos, the girl storms out to find the idiot that took the pictures. As she searches, we get a bit of narration explaining our Rider. Kadoya Tsukasa, who appeared out of nowhere one day (reminding me of Agito), and has been with the girl and her grandfather at their photo shop ever since, saying that he only wants to take photos. While searching, they start to bring home the fact that something isn't right in this world, with the girl hearing a familiar sound to Kamen Rider veterans...the sound of the arrival of mirror monsters from Kamen Rider Ryuki. I can't post sounds, obviously, but I do have this:



Ryuki himself. His is the only series they could've snuck in like this, as most of Kamen Rider Ryuki takes place in a mirror world, but fuck...I wish they'd used Zolda or Knight or someone who won more than ten fights in the entire damn series. :P Well, whatever. Onward!

We find our Rider out in a garden area taking pictures of...well, apparently anything and everything, just before he gets cornered by another group of angry patrons. Apparently this guy loves taking pictures, which would be great except he sucks at it. (That pesky talent thing.) Anyway, our Rider here:



Here we learn something. Our Rider is already familiar with fighting, as two of the people attempt to attack him and are utterly unsuccessful.




And, speaking of weirdness, we're given another hint that shit's about to go down when Tsukasa takes a look through his camera and sees Kamen Rider Kiva, Kurenai Wataru.




This hint, is of course, slightly more obvious. But before our hero can contemplate on this rather ominous portent (read: 100% GUARANTEED PREDICTION), the girl from before pops up, and she's not exactly...happy:



You know...you'd expect something like this to make a guy's guts fall out his ass or something (thank you Dave Chappelle) , but as its called the Laughter Pressure Point, apparently not. After moving on from this scene, we learn a few more ominous things about our main character. Apparently, that the fact that he sucks at taking pictures may not entirely be his fault, as apparently they somehow just end up like this. In his own words: "I just want to take photos. But the world doesn't want me to capture it. It becomes twisted by itself. The city, the light...even the people...run away from me. This isn't my world either."

...Normally I'd take something like that as a metaphor. But in a show like this...it should probably be taken as literally as possible. And, if at this point, you thought "Hey...y'know shit should REALLY be happening at this point", well...you were right. Allow me to show you a before and after.



...Yeeep. If you've got towers turning into monsters and shit, its prolly time to panic. Or run. Possibly both. But its not over yet. Barriers are erected everywhere, dividing the world--obviously there's more to this than that, which becomes apparent when a familiar face pops up.



For the uninitiated, this would Kurenai Wataru. Kamen Rider Kiva. If you can't follow the narrative, this is meant to be the Hero Guide to explain to both the Hero and us what the fuck is going on. Personally, I would've gone for Kazama Kenzaki, but given he's from a few years back, kids may not remember him. Plus going through his own series made Wataru less of a bitch, so fuck it. As Hero Guides go, he's not too bad. Rather than stretching this on, he only screws with the guy once, shifting him to another Earth.

And on that note, time for a short explanation to keep everything straight. We are now in the Kamen Rider Multiverse. To keep things straight, I will now be attaching a number to each Earth, in order of the Rider's appearance. So here's the chart:

Earth-1 Kamen Rider Kuuga
Earth-2 Kamen Rider Agito
Earth-3 Kamen Rider Ryuki
Earth-4 Kamen Rider 555 (Faiz)
Earth-5 Kamen Rider Blade
Earth-6 Kamen Rider Hibiki
Earth-7 Kamen Rider Kabuto
Earth-8 Kamen Rider Den-O
Earth-9 Kamen Rider Kiva
Earth-10 Kamen Rider Decade

So which Earth has our hero been switched to? Good question! But we don't quite get to find out yet, as things switch back to our heroine, Natsumi. She's been shifted to another Earth as well. Which? Well....


Judging by the ridiculously long fans being shoved into this guy's neck? I'd say Earth-9. Kiva's Earth, the one where the enemies are all vampires. (Why their fangs are all so colorful, I have no idea...)

In an amazing display of Character Aura, Natsumi manages to avoid the literal army of Fangaia that slaughters everybody else around here, and somehow shifts onto another Earth. Earth-8.




Den-O's world. Its at this point I have to pause to applaud the director of this series. Watching this, a great deal of work went into showing just how scary it can be to live in a Rider's world. You can almost feel the panic Natsumi does as she travels from world to world. Its a feeling you don't normally get, since as a rule the Hero is usually a Rider before series start (Kuuga, Agito, Blade, Kiva) or is for whatever reason unaffected even if he isn't (Kabuto, 555). Anyway, again displaying an incredible Character Aura, she manages to get away from the Imagin (the villains of this world), and crosses into another. If you can't tell, we're going backwards.


So at this point, we're on Earth-7. A personal favorite of mine. Kabuto's world. Little backstory...the enemy of Kabuto's world is called the Worm. They're a race of aliens that are able to mimic a person almost perfectly. Of course, after they do that, they usually kill you. So on that note...


...Now might be a good time to run, lady. Unfortunately, we have a problem. See, she ain't the main character. But she's now NEAR the main character. So despite the fact that she's been crossing worlds effortlessly up to this point...her Character Aura's been drained by the Main Character's presence and that's all over. However, she DID find these:



These crusty items (that, incidentally, ALSO look like like something that can be found at a homeless person's rummage sale), are--you guessed it. The main character's henshin devices! This would be great, except instead of staring at a clone, she's now staring at this thing.



Fortunately, she's got enough Character Aura left to give our boy his "buckle and cards", and enough to keep from getting killed when the Worms start to team up to get rid of her. It lasts just long enough for our Hero to go through his very first Henshin sequence. I love these things, even though they do make you wonder why enemies don't just attack while the hero is going through this. Anyway, here's our Rider, once transformed:



The suit looks a lot cooler in motion, as I'd hoped. Not that it matters. See, on Earth-7, the enemies have a special ability that allows them to move at speeds faster than the eye can see. As a result, Decade has to use his own special ability...the ability to jack powers from other Riders! And, after a brief but insanely humorous moment where he literally kicks one of the worms in the ass....



He switches into this Earth's Rider, Kabuto. Who's capable of a little skill called Clock Up, which lets him move fast enough to put the hurt on the Worms.



Ah, I DID miss this guy. And I can't wait until Tendou (the real Kabuto) pops up and smacks Decade around. If this guy's as good as I think, it should be epic. Which, it seems like it, given that ten seconds later, the Worms become this:





And, down they go. But, there's no time for rejoicing! The fight's over and now they have to find out exactly what's going on. So we're off! Where, I have no idea. (Home, the guy says.) I also have no idea where the motorcycle came from...



Hopefully, he'll use it more than Kiva, who used it once near the end of his series and it took me ten minutes to remember he actually HAD one early on. Unfortunately, before they can make it home, they Earth-shift again. It took me a while to recognize this one, as I skipped this series before it could kill me by making me suffer an absolutely toxic level of a boredom.

Its a partially destroyed Earth, but that really doesn't tell me anything, since Earth-7 is like that too. And I can't recognize Earths by monsters, since not only do they never last long enough to mean anything...its entirely possible they just made up new ones for this series. Still! I DID recgonize this fellow:


We're now on Earth-4. Faiz's Earth. And Faiz's bike can apparently transform into a robot. Damn.


I guess the guy with the Power Ranger-y robot from the beginning is from this universe. I'm not sure I approve, but damn it is useful. And, again, despite being up against multiple opponents, it only takes a few moments before they all look like this....




It was at this point I handed him his C-Level Hero Card for being a damn good fighter and adjusting to the fact that his world is being torn apart so damn well. He's forced to keep fighting, as more enemies show up, which is a problem because as he shifts into a different Rider, he uses that "card's" power up and can't transform into it again. And basically by the time our Hero guide shows up, the only power he has is his own.

Fortunately by this time they've shifted back to Earth-10, though the place is still a mess...



And getting worse. In fact, its at this point that a huge explosion occurs, which nearly covers even our Rider and his sidekick. Fortunately its at this point that time stops, and our Hero Guide pops back up. And finally, we're given an explanation. See the start of this article if you missed it, as that's pretty much it. Tsukasa is given his mission: Travel to the nine worlds and gain the powers of all nine Kamen Riders, to save all ten worlds.

But how do they GET to the different worlds. Good question right? Now if only our Rider had actually asked it. Fortunately though...


Apparently they keep alternate world murals in their photo shop. Must be helpful. Apparently, that's all that's necessary as just like that, as they exit the shop, they find themselves in a different world--Earth-1, Kuuga's world.

Still, all is not the same on this world...even for them, as Tsukasa now finds himself in a new identity.



That's right, a policeman. This makes a lot of sense, as on Kuuga's world the Rider actually worked very closely with the police, as the writer was looking to go for a more realistic world with this series.

They do an admirable job of emulating this world, considering that they had to give the whole damn thing a complete overhaul. Odagiri Joe, the actor that played Godai Yuusuke (Kamen Rider Kuuga), actually found himself disliking this role when all was said and done, so they couldn't get him back. I imagine the same thing is true for the person who plays the Inspector, who was originally a guy and has now been recast as a hot girl.


...Y'know I don't care WHO played that part before, I'd totally hit that. Anyway, as things gear up for the last few minutes, all the central characters are headed towards the Monster of the (Next) Week, Unidentified Lifeform 7. (The actual name of these things are Grongi, but they don't know that yet.) Including the Rider of Earth-1....Kuuga:





And, scene. Woo! This was long as all fuck. I can't promise the next one won't be long because I don't make promises, but I will do my best. Its also not very funny. (I am nothing if not honest with myself.) But what can I do? Not much material was given in this episode and but there was a LOT of info dump, as is expected in the first episode of any series.

The next one of these, if I can get up to doing one before Decade 2 comes out, should be about one of the aforementioned romance manga from the previous post. Anyway, I'm done for now. Ja ne!