COWBOY BEBOP:THE MOVIE DvD Review!

COWBOY BEBOP:THE MOVIE
Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no tobira (2001)

I’m not an Anime or Manga fan. While a fan of SPEED RACER reruns as a kid, and blown away by films like AKIRA and the first GHOST IN THE SHELL, I generally find them to be the exception rather than the rule. That is to say I come across more anime I dislike than like.

The same thing for manga, I’ve tried things like MONSTER only to find myself uninterested quickly.

So it was nice to go into COWBOY BEBOP THE MOVIE, and immediately take a liking to the visuals and tone of the story telling, and the multi-cultural tableau of COWBOY BEBOP was also quite welcome.

A couple things strike you really quickly going into the film, it’s visually very beautiful to look at, fluid and kinetic and even balletic. Great action scenes and the visuals are sumptuous. The 2nd thing that strikes you is just how brilliant a job the English Voice actors and sound design crew do in bringing this to life. The dub is generally a derided part of most imports, we’ve all sat through our share of horrendous English dub jobs. So the general rule of thumb, is viewers should sit through dubbing only for comedies, and subtitles are for dramatic foreign films (the thinking being humor is something that can’t be well conveyed in subtitles, humor is a lot to do with pacing and intonation and much of that requires the spoken voice, not subtitles. Plus any poor English dub voices will only add to the humor/ridiculousness).

So yeah the general rule of thumb is the dub version should be avoided for anything save humor. I’m happy to say that COWBOY BEBOP THE MOVIE is the exception to that rule. I watched it both ways, with the English Dub and with subtitles, and the English dub is clearly the way to go. The Voice actors are awesome, really strong performances, and convey so much information, that you don’t get by just reading the subtitles.

So very rarely do English Voice Actors working on foreign films get their due, but here they really do stellar work, and make this film shine. Highly recommended performances by all the voice actors.

Now moving onto the film itself, I went into it pretty blind having never seen an episode of COWBOY BEBOP, and for the most part that wasn’t a problem. The movie being relatively new viewer friendly. A story about a group of bounty hunters on Mars, and their most dangerous hunt. The movie does suffer from some pacing issues, it feels long. It took a few tries to actually get through this movie, I found myself zoning out consistently at the same spot. Going along with that issue, 3/4th of the way in, after the protagonist Spike has the battle on the train, the plot does get confusing. A murky resurrection, talk of Spike and the Antagonist being the same, and talk of a previous girlfriend, and it’s all a bit off-putting to the new viewer who hasn’t seen any COWBOY BEBOP.

However murky bits and pacing issues aside it ends entertainingly enough, with enough stellar, imaginative visuals and tender story and awesome jazz-tinged soundtrack to get a recommend from this reviewer, But be aware that this is very much a DVD film, it works much better consumed in portions, rather than trying to sit through the whole thing at once. Your mileage may vary. Grade: B.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Review : SIGHT UNSEEN Horror by Tinnell and Hampton!

Reviewing SIGHT UNSEEN Graphic Novel
Written by Robert Tinnell
Art by Bo Hampton
Published by Image Comics

Purchase your copy of SIGHT UNSEEN here!

Review Copyright 2011 Heroic Times
All rights reserved

When was the last time a book with pictures… scared you?

Gross you out? Yes. Surprise you or excite you? Certainly. With a clever page reveal, WALKING DEAD surprises all the time.

But scare you?

Sequential art (I don’t use the term comic-book, it’s not about elitism, it’s just I don’t like misnomers. The term comic-book may have been accurate 80 years ago, it just isn’t today. So you’ll catch me using a bunch of terms, GN. Trade, Collected Edition, Monthly, Slim [you read it here first:) ], but very rarely comic) being too far out of your head, lacks the ability a novel offers to surrender yourself to your internal dialog, and Sequential art being too much in your head, doesn’t allow you to surrender yourself to someone else’s external dialog.

So that should spell no to the idea of getting scared by the marriage of words and art, because fear requires loss of control, the surrender of your senses to the violation of the other (in terms of media film/tv/radio drama) or the hypnotism/violation of the self (novel).

Graphic Literature, slims, manga (insert your favorite nomenclature here) :) is a bastard medium that is somewhere removed from those two extremes of submission, and as such is a medium that is in large part about viewing specific moments at your leisure. The ability to linger on a particularly affecting panel, or race through multiple panels, or rereading a word balloon, all define graphic sequential viewing as a medium for lovers of the moment, and as such you tend to be an aloof master of time in sequential stories, and fear requires you to be time’s slave.

I’ve read all kinds of slims. All kinds of horror GNs. I’ve read slims that have sickened me, disgusted me, surprised me.

But I have never read a slim that has scared me.

Based on all the reasons given, there is no such thing. At least that’s what I thought till I read Robert Tinnell’s and Bo Hampton’s SIGHT UNSEEN.

Published by Image Comics back in 2006, 5 years ago at this writing, it is a relatively unknown book and somehow that almost seems fitting; as if it is one of those whispered of tomes, more myth than matter.

SIGHT UNSEEN is a ghost story and like all ghost stories it requires, not that you believe, but that you want to believe. It requires that ineffable quality that all ghost stories require, your willingness to be— seduced. If for you horror is less splatter and gore and slasher or zombie, and instead is crystallized by titles like The Legend of Hell House (1973) and The Haunting (1963) than SIGHT UNSEEN is a book that waits… for you.

Specifics I always find idiotic things. I don’t read spoilers, I don’t read the back of paperbacks, that tend to give away lots of great things you should experience, rather than have told to you.

I come to reviews not looking to be told, beyond the most generic themes, what I’ll find, rather I ask only that you enlighten me to what I may feel.

And with that consideration, is how I review.

The most generic description of SIGHT UNSEEN is it is a book about a man who seeks to see the dead, foolishly perhaps not preparing… for the dead to see him. There’s a nice technological hook to the story that elevates it out of the ‘routine’ ghost story, and into the unusual and innovative.

Yeah, I hear you saying, but where does the scare come in?

Robert Tinnell creates an immersive engaging story, but with any other artist it would suffer from that normal distancing effect, that makes for a great graphic novel, or a nice static story, but not anything more than that.

No, the true alchemy here is with artist Bo Hampton.

Bo Hampton, does something in this GN that I have never seen in three decades of reading comics, he makes the characters move.

These static images, he arranges, he places, he cuts, he juxtaposes in such a way, that in moments he breaks that anchor of control, of distance, that is always there between word and picture, and should be there.

It is the charm of the medium that it is there, our control, and Bo Hampton with foreshortening, and blurring, and angles, and an inexplicable understanding of how to get behind our eyes, in brief moments sets us adrift from our control, and we find ourselves, not watching bad places, but in bad places and among bad things.

And that bit of immersion that the story of Robert Tinnell married to the art of Bo Hampton pulls off, is as close to alchemy as anything you’ll read in the story.

He creates sequential art that does two things that sequential art seldom or never does, match perfectly the tone of the story the writer tells AND match perfectly the angles and perspectives and images those words would invoke in your own head.

Hampton shatters that normal, fun difference and dissonance between writers perspective, artist perspective, and readers perspective that makes comics so expansive a medium, and by collapsing these three perspectives he creates a fetid, claustrophobic, dank, limiting idea space, that pulls you in.

And watches you.

In the years since first reading this… accident on paper, this odd confluence of genius or mania, I have never come across another sequential art book, by the creators or anyone else, that does what this book does. That makes a thing of words and pictures… writhe.

The book is called SIGHT UNSEEN and if your brain is wired anything like mine, the book will make you do something a ‘comic-book’ wasn’t designed to make you do.

It will make you look over your shoulder.

Your mileage may vary, but if it doesn’t… you are in for a treat.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

The return of UNDER THE RADAR Vol2 Issue 2! Part 1 of 2!

“Must we start every sup, with who we love and who we don’t?” —Peter O’Toole in the LION IN WINTER


Okay it’s that time again. My recommendation for comic books/graphic novels to preorder now for January 2011 arrival.

If while going though the below list you see any titles that you want to purchase current or backissues of go

here.

But first, what is UNDER THE RADAR?

UNDER THE RADAR was an experiment I started a while ago that I was quite proud of. Basically a very cool PDF I launched out to comic book retailers and fans to highlight titles you would otherwise miss, or get lost in the deluge from bigger publishers flooding the market.

It was fun, and very intensive, and very time consuming, so when time became an issue it fell by the wayside.

But I notice my old UNDER THE RADAR posts get a lot of hits, and even though a lot of people are doing preview podcasts (audio/radio-like programs dedicated to recommending items to preorder), those can be quite time consuming, when what most people are looking for is a quickly viewed list of recommended items they might otherwise miss.

So with that in mind, UNDER THE RADAR is back, but in a FAR simpler format. No PDF, no long diatribes. just a monthly listing of new titles to preorder or be on the lookout for.

Okay without further ado, this is a list of titles you can preorder this month through your local retailer for January 2011 arrival.


Marvel

No letters pages, no back matter, ads breaking up the story.

All these odd decisions from Marvel give no incentive to buy marvel issues monthly. Seemingly, they don’t care enough to give you a something beyond what you would get in the trade paperback, a real sense of a Stan Lee dialog, or sense of a monthly behind the scenes look at the creative process, so generally I say eff em. I’m talking about the publishing policies and policy makers of Marvel, not generally the creators, (as marvel has some great creators, but perhaps in service of not the greatest decision makers) but rather the lackluster way the creations are fed to you.

So even though Marvel floods the market with well over a hundred titles a month, their policies make it very easy to dismiss most of them from purchase consideration. The exceptions for this month?

$4.99 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500

Written by MATT FRACTION Art & 50/50 Covers by SALVADOR LARROCA Variant Covers by MARKO DJURDJEVIC, JOE QUESADA & JOHN ROMITA JR. GIANT-SIZED ANNIVERSARY ISSUE! Three generations of Starks face their ultimate foe, seventy-some years in the future while, in the present, Spider-Man joins Iron Man as he tries to fill in the blanks of his missing memory. What if amnesia was a weapon? What if the smartest man in the land had ten nightmares that all came true? Who is the son of Tony Stark? What’s inside of the rings? The future starts now, for the Marvel Universe’s favorite futurist. The Eisner-award-winning series makes a four-hundred-something-issue leap and raises a glass of non-alcoholic champale in salute to Ol’ Shell-head! By Matt Fraction (THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN, CASANOVA) and Salvador Larroca (UNCANNY X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR), with special guests Howard X, Y and Z! 104 PGS./Rated A …$4.99

100 pgs for $5. Not great, but I do like what Matt Fraction is doing with this book. Hopefully it isn’t full of reprints to pad out the page count, but figure the odds of that. A lukewarm recommendation.

* Marvel had a couple interesting trades, but their pricing is outrageous. For 4 and 5 issues of content they are trying to charge $20 to $30 for a collected edition, trade, or hc. Which basically boils down to them trying to charge you between $4 and $6 per issue collected. To that I say, hell no. A trade should, with rare eceptions, be no more than $2 per issue collected. So if you are only collecting 4 issues you’re only going to get $8 from me. And if it costs more than that you get nothing from me.

So Marvel trades get nothing from me this month.

*I’m interested in Matt Fraction’s THOR but not interested enough to pay $4 an issue, they can keep it.

$1.95 (save $1.04) THUNDERBOLTS #152
Written by JEFF PARKER Penciled by KEV WALKER Cover by GREG LAND The T-Bolts leap into HULK’s “Scorched Earth”! At the request of Steve Rogers, Luke Cage must take his hardened team to deal with a doomsday scenario unleashed in the pages of HULK! And now that the squad is a man short, Cage finally uses his power to recruit another prisoner to duty–and his pick will shock you! Will the Thunderbolts accept this new member as a part of their force? Or will this heavy duty wild card destroy the balance of power? Find out in the series that Newsarama.com’s Best Shots calls “The Avengers title that not enough people are raving about…it’s one of the best of the bunch.” 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99 (preview artwork is available)

The reason I’m picking up this title is it has potential, it has Luke Cage:Power Man (They need to go back to calling him that), Jeff Parker is a good writer, storyline sounds like a good jumping on point, and the price is $2.99. So to keep me picking it up monthly they’ll need to add letterpages or backmatter, or I’ll be hopping off of it relatively soon.

$2.99 BLACK PANTHER MAN WITHOUT FEAR #514

Written by DAVID LISS Penciled by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA Cover by SIMONE BIANCHI Luke Cage guest stars as T’Challa’s new adventure in NYC continues! The former King of Wakanda has sworn to protect the mean streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and while battling the mob is one thing, how does he stop a killer targeting innocent people? It’s a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, as T’Challa hunts ruthless new crime lord Vlad the Impaler, while Vlad concocts a desperate and bloody scheme to entrap the mysterious new vigilante that’s ruining his plans. T’Challa learns what it really means to be a man without fear, courtesy of award-winning thriller novelist David Liss and the pulp-tastic art of Francesco Francavilla! 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

I think without argument Christopher Priest’s take on the Black Panther was the essential take, and Marvel’s use of this character since, has been in the shadow of that great run. And good writers not withstanding, Hudlin and Mayberry, I think it suffers from idiotic editorial decisions. Petty decisions intent, for whatever reason, on dismantling a great character. A female Black Panther? Really? That was someone’s stab at a good idea? Just indicative of the sabotaging type editorial decisions that have plagued this character.

The post-Priest series suffering from gimmics rather than gusto.

However with T’Challa back in the suit, if only in the DAREDEVIL title, I’m hoping this will be a good jumping on point. I’d love to see an entertaining, respectful run with this character. I’m unfamiliar with David Liss, but he has sense enough to toss Luke Cage:Power Man in here, and that means I’m willing to give him the benefit of a doubt, and willing to support, until they prove otherwise.

From Marvels ICON Line

$3.99 CASANOVA GULA #1 (OF 4)

Written by MATT FRACTION Art & Cover by FABIO MOON CASANOVA is back. Or is he? Actually Casanova is gone. Gone from space, gone from time. The burning question WHEN IS CASANOVA QUINN hangs over the entire world as E.M.P.I.R.E. and W.A.S.T.E. alike race toward the horrible, inevitable, answer…The second staggering volume of CASANOVA starts here by the Eisner-laden team of Matt Fraction (THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN, THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN) and Fabio Moon (DAYTRIPPER, SUGARSHOCK) taking over art duties. Never before collected! Never before reprinted! Never before understood! In gorgeous full 4-D psychocolor! Worth a million in prizes! Change your shorts, change your life, change into a nine-year-old Hindu boy! Guaranteed!* *not actually guaranteed 40 PGS./Mature Content …$3.99


No ads breaking up the story, and loads of backmatter, and additional pages. So it’s me getting more bang for my buck, plus it’s Matt Fraction’s CASANOVA.

$14.99 CASANOVA TP LUXURIA VOL 1

Written by MATT FRACTION Penciled by FABIO MOON & GABRIEL BA Cover by GABRIEL BA Meet Casanova Quinn: prodigal son of a law-and-order family hell-bent on keeping the world safe and sound, now blackmailed into betraying his father and the international law enforcement organization he controls. LUXURIA collects the first volume of CASANOVA as its titular star transforms from devil-may-care thrill-seeker into the most dangerous man in the world. What happens when the ultimate player gets played? Find out in this genre-bending sci-spy epic. Gorgeously re-colored and re-lettered by hand, this staggering psychedelic spy-fi epic is collected for the first time as it was meant to be made. By the Eisner award-winning team of Matt Fraction (INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, THOR, UNCANNY X-MEN), Gabriel Ba (UMBRELLA ACADEMY, BPRD: 1947), and Fabio Moon (DAYTRIPPER, SUGARSHOCK). With all-new, all-different, never-before-seen bonus material! Collecting CASANOVA: LUXURIA #1-4112 PGS./Mature …$24.99 152 PGS./Mature …$14.99

And speaking of CASANOVA we also have the CASANOVA trade. At $15 and being a collection of bigger ICON issues, the price point is a doable exception.

$3.50 INCOGNITO BAD INFLUENCES #4

BY ED BRUBAKER AND SEAN PHILIPS WITH COLORS BY VAL STAPLES Zack Overkill has plunged into the super-criminal underworld on a deadly mission that’s made him question everything. Now he’s come face-to-face with his target, and things just got a hell of a lot worse. And so with every issue, our Professor of Pulp Culture, Jess Nevines is back with another great essay on forgotten pulp history, available only in the single issues of INCOGNITO. INCOGNITO, BAD INFLUENCES #4 -32 PGS/Mature Content/Np Ads … $3.50

It’s always good to see the CRIMINAL team of Brubaker and Philips releasing another issue.

Uhh, yeah and that’s all for Marvel.


DC

All the negatives I said for Marvel, goes for DC as well. Which makes it easy to disregard most of the 100 or so books they put out every month. It’s stupid, confusing, greedy, and ultimately just off-putting to have 20 different Bat Titles. You should have just 2. BATMAN, and one 100page anthology called BATMAN FAMILY. Boom, job done. And until they do this it makes it very easy for me to buy none of their titles. Thanks. :).

The exceptions?

$2.99 POWER GIRL #20

Written by JUDD WINICK Art and cover by SAMI BASRI Racing headlong into the adventure and turmoil of GENERATION LOST, Power Girl is hot on the trail of Max Lord – seeking answers and looking for payback. But a trip to Project Cadmus leaves her with a bit more than she can handle, and monstrously outnumbered. On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

The one big difference between Marvel and DC is in terms of art. For the most part Marvel has frigging kick ass artists and cover design, and no doubt this is due to two of the companies driving forces, Quesada and Bendis, being great artists in their own right. DC to be kind, with a few exceptions (such as the great and innovative art of Perez or Quietly), underwhelms. DC’s covers and interiors are typically a bland, uninteresting house style; and in a medium that lives and dies on art, that’s not a good thing.

And when they do get a decent artist, like Simone Bianchi, seemingly the suits are too inane or cheap to keep them, and Marvel ends up offering the artist a better deal.

Which brings us to Sam Basri.

I touched on this in the last UNDER THE RADAR, Sam Basri is one of the few absolutely amazing artists that DC has working for them. His sense of cover design on the POWER GIRL series has been blowing me away. They really are works of art by themselves, and is one of the main reasons I’m picking up this series in individual issues rather than waiting for the trade. He really is one of DCs best artists, and the company really needs to realize this and pay him accordingly, or they’ll find him working for their competition in no time. :) .

$2.99 SPIRIT #10

Written by DAVID HINE Art by MORITAT Cover by LADRONN Roscoe Kalashnikov was sure he could get away with murder – and in a town as corrupt as Central City, maybe he could. But if that’s so, why do his victim’s words still haunt him? She said something about “the spirit of justice” and now, around every corner, Roscoe is seeing a flash of trench coat and the briefest glimpse of a masked man… On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

David Hine on a SPIRIT comic? I’m intrigued. David Hine is a really good writer.

$2.99 THUNDER AGENTS #3

Written by NICK SPENCER Art by CAFU & BIT and HOWARD CHAYKIN Cover by CHRIS SPROUSE The new hit series by Nick Spencer (ACTION COMICS, Morning Glories) and CAFU continues! Think the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are a messed-up team? Wait until you learn the secrets of the evil organization known as Spider! This issue promises twists, turns and a sequence illustrated by the legendary Howard Chaykin! On sale JANUARY 12 * 32 pg, FC $2.99 US

I’m hearing good things about this Nick Spenser, so this issue may be worth a look.

$2.99 LOONEY TUNES #194

Written by BILL MATHENY Art by DAVID ALVAREZ Cover by SCOTT GROSS Beaky Buzzard is hungry. He thinks he’s found a nice meal in Daffy Duck, but the wacky bird has another suggestion: Bugs Bunny. So just who will be feeding the hungry buzzard family? A hint: It won’t be the ever-cool Bugs! Poor Beaky doesn’t stand a chance… On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

$2.99 TINY TITANS #36

Written by ART BALTAZAR & FRANCO Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR Titans to the center of the Earth! Terra uses her powers to take the “hot” Titans on the journey of a lifetime. And if Terra is involved, you know Beast Boy isn’t far behind! Don’t forget the sunscreen and the bottled water, and watch out for the Sea Trap of Doom! On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I’ve started looking for books that I can give to younger readers. The above seem to fit the bill.

$2.99 ACTION COMICS #897

Written by PAUL CORNELL Art by PETE WOODS Cover by DAVID FINCH & BATT The last place Lex Luthor expected his quest for the Black Lantern energy to take him was Arkham Asylum – specifically to the cell of The Joker! What clues about Lex’s quest could The Joker have to offer, and why on Earth would Lex trust him? Get ready for a one-of-a-kind confrontation between comics’ two greatest villains, as brought to you by the twisted minds of Paul Cornell and Pete Woods! On sale JANUARY 26 * 32 pg, FC $2.99 US

$2.99 STEEL #1

Written by STEVE LYONS Art by SEAN CHEN Cover by ALEX GARNER John Henry Irons is a normal human being who managed to overcome all odds and become a hero who Superman considers a peer and colleague. What kind of determination drives a man to reach such heights? Find out here as a battered and bruised Steel defiantly stands as the only thing between Metallo and the destruction of Metropolis! Doctor Who novelist Steve Lyons and artist Sean Chen (ACTION COMICS, SALVATION RUN) deliver a story that shows why Steel is a true DC Universe icon! ONE-SHOT * On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Great solicitation. Plus I really like the character of Steel.

*I’ve heard good things about Lemire’s SUPERBOY, but I’ve seen the art, and it just doesn’t work for me. May try it later in trade.

$2.99 SUPERGIRL #60

Written by NICK SPENCER Art by BERNARD CHANG Cover by AMY REEDER & RICHARD FRIEND SUPERGIRL welcomes aboard writer Nick Spencer (JIMMY OLSEN, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS, Morning Glories) and artist Bernard Chang (WONDER WOMAN, SUPERMAN) for a Girl of Steel story unlike any other! Someone is trying to kill the young heroes of the DC Universe! Who is this villain, and how can Supergirl stop him? Maybe her friends can help – namely, Batgirl, Blue Beetle, Miss Martian, Static and…Robin?! Buckle up, folks, because this one puts the pedal to the metal on page one and doesn’t let up for a second! On sale JANUARY 19 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Two things are getting me to give this a try, Nick Spenser and Static.

$2.99 HOUSE OF MYSTERY #33

Written by MATTHEW STURGES Art by WERTHER DELL’EDERA and DAVID LLOYD Cover by ESAO ANDREWS Since the Pair of the Conception first chased Fig Keele into the House of Mystery, Fig has never known who they were or what they wanted from her. Now, Fig solves a mystery that’s been lingering since the very beginning. Featuring a tale illustrated by David Lloyd (V FOR VENDETTA)! On sale JANUARY 5 * 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US MATURE READERS

Probably not the best place to jump in, but I’m intrigued, and have been meaning to pick this up.

Wow, I’m actually quite surprised how many DC comics I recommend this month. I guess their price drop has helped their titles to become more attractive, or at least most justifiable of the expense. Well that’s all for this installment. Catch me tomorrow for part 2 of this, and the remaining titles I recommend. Don’t miss it, as that’s where the good stuff is.