For all-ages, these past two weeks for comics has been great, ’cause there was A LOT of quality material out! It’s amazing to look back at this column a year ago, and then fast forward back to the present and see the major changes and growing out pour of work in one year’s time. This week we look at some dynamically different titles, but all great in their own ways: the first issue of Image Comics’ Reed Gunther, the first volume of Shonen Jump’s Yu-Gi-Oh 5d’s from Viz, and for something to view the recent DVD release of the Challenge of the GoBots, The Original Miniseries! (And in case you’re new around these parts, we call this little column From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays!)
Can’t get enough of Takashi Miike these days, I guess. Last week we told you about him directing the adaptation of anime/manga favorite Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney, based on the popular Capcom video game. It was also announced last week that Miike’s latest all-ages film Ninja Kids (originally titled Nintama Rintaro) would be getting its world premiere in NYC at the New York Asian Film Festival, which runs July 1st-14th. Based off the manga and anime series which started back in 1993 and is still going today, with now over 1,000 episodes, it looks like a blast! Check out the trailer here.
Yes, yes, and yes! This is a brilliant return to cowboy comics with a twist; Reed Gunther rocks! Riding across the west on his huge bear Sterling (that’s right, he doesn’t ride a horse, he rides a super cool bear), Reed comes across a cute little female rancher whose cows have been being snatched. It turns out it’s not what she originally thought, and the villain is a giant rattle snake the size of a house, which Reed and Sterling agree to help her get rid of.
This is one of the most enjoyable surprises this year, up there with Super Dinosaur (which I’m also smitten with and is also published by Image), which everyone can get into. It’s one of those comics you just don’t want to end, and you can’t wait for the second issue. The writing is fantastic; Shane gives us an adventure right out of any child’s or adult’s imagination (once again, the formula is cowboy who rides a bear and is fighting a house-sized rattle snake). He also provides us with a ton of laugh-out-loud moments. Reed trying to get out of helping, and then suddenly Sterling’s paw reaches into the frame and slapping him back on track was hysterical. The art by Chris has an enjoyable cartoon magic, and feels like the perfect match for the writing. If you only want to put money down on something you’ll read twice and is for everyone, this is the horse (or bear, in this case) to put your hard earned cash on right here.
Every anime/manga fan, like every American comic fan, has their own personal tastes, opinions, and beliefs about the series that populate the shelves as the genres and types of comics grow. It is this reviewer’s humble opinion as an anime/manga lover for about 14 years now, that Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s is the best in the series since the original, superior to both Yu-Gi-Oh! GX and Yu-Gi-Oh! R. It has managed to take the familiar card battle concept of Yu-Gi-Oh! that we’ve grown to know and love, and create a new world and adventure all of its own by having the battles now via turbo duels. A turbo duel is essentially a high speed race on motorbikes, where you battle with monsters at the same time, until one opponent can make the other stop, usually done by defeating them with monsters and the bike being turned to scrap. The story follows Yusei Fudo as battles a variety of opponents in the Satellite district on the outskirts of New Domino City. In the first volume, Yusei battles young Sect, the mystical Skeleton Knight, Jack Atlas the king of turbo duels, and Akiza Izinski the femme fatale of this sport.
The manga has been published monthly in Shonen Jump, and this volume collects the first eight stories. How it compares to the anime series I’m not sure, but manga wise I enjoy the artwork by Sato; his battle sequences are fantastic, and the duel with Skeleton Knight was an entertaining few chapters of reading with excellent pacing and action. The writing by Hikokubo is standard for this type of Shonen manga series, but in no way do I mean that as a weakness; in fact, it gives us what we want out of a series like this. The first volume of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s was a highly entertaining read, and I’m looking forward to the next volume. If you’re not reading it already every month in Shonen Jump, pick this up, and for Yu-Gi-Oh! card game players, this volume comes with an exclusive card for you guys.
The GoBots are one of those polarizing things in this world of comics and animation. Although eventually they were fused into the Transformers universe and GoBots characters have shown up in the Transformers cartoons starting in the early 2000s, most hardcore fans of both GoBots and Transformers still consider them two separate rivals from the 1980s. Unlike Transformers, which was made by Hasbro and had animation produced by Marvel/Sunbow, Challenge of the GoBots was originally made by Tonka in the U.S., with the animation produced by Hanna-Barbera. The Warner Archive Collection has just released on DVD the original five episode TV mini-series from 1984 (which thanks to both its success and its rival Transformers’ success, would spawn a huge animated series and theatrical film).
The plot follows the Guardians, lead by Leader-1, who are protecting their home planet Gobotron from the evil Renegades, lead by Cy-Kill. The battle takes them to Earth, where Cy-Kill begins to mass produce Zods (which are bestial giant T-rex like GoBots), and enslaves majority of the human race through a hypnoray. The Guardians (although they get the snot beat out of them quite a bit) fight back to save the Earth as well as Gobotron. Animation wise, Hanna-Barbera does decent work here; yes, it’s not as detailed as the work Toei was doing in Japan for Marvel/Sunbow, but for American TV animation at the time it’s not half bad. The writing side of things does a great job of setting up a plot, and gives us some nice Cold War tension and is pretty decent. In final thought, Challenge of the GoBots, although not some sort of milestone, was still an entertaining 1980s cartoon that does what it was meant to do: give us action and transforming robots packaged together in an entertaining half hour, and it succeeded in doing that. Your something to watch this weekend is Challenge of the GoBots!
That’s it for this week, see you next! And remember, Biollante loves you!!!!
A copy of Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s was provided by Viz Media.