February 18, 2011

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: SpongeBob and Death Kappa!

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Written by: Drew
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I HAVE THE POWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ‘Kay, I don’t always have the power and He-Man does in most cases (and when he doesn’t he has Ram-Man…I gotta get myself a Ram-Man I suppose, note to self). Check-check-check it out: here’s an awesome music video by Japanese hip hop artists Policeman for their single GAL-O Sengen! Also still funny is the web series The Bullpen, from former Aquaman scribe Shaun McLaughlin. And now that you’ve checked those out, check some awesome stuff right below!!!!!!!!!!!! (And if you didn’t know, you’re reading From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays)

Out On Stands: SpongeBob Comics issue #1
Publisher: United Plankton Pictures/Bongo Comics Group
Written By: Graham Annable, Chris Duffy, James Kochalka, David Lewman, Robert Leighton, and Corey Barba
Art By: Gregg Schigiel, Andy Rementer, Hilary Barta, Jacob Chabot, Vince Dzioba, and Corey Barba
Cover By: Sherm Cohen

The quick: Buy two copies, read one and give one to a friend, then buy a third to re-read cause you’re going to like it.

The little bit longer: TV, movies, video games, toys, yes it was only a matter of time until SpongeBob jumped onto the comic book page to delight us. I’m surprised somehow it took this long for everyone’s favorite square pants wearing looney to have his own bi-monthly title, but the good news for SpongeBob fans is that the wait was worth it. SpongeBob Comics issue #1 has just hit stands and smartly uses a wide variety of writers and artists to bring Stephen Hillenburg’s American pop culture icon to life.

The stories range from a variety of shorts and one-pagers filled with SpongeBob humor to a tee. Highlights personally enjoyed were “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy vs. The Octopus King,” with stellar art by Hilary Barta and writing by James Kochalka right out of the TV show; the one pager “Stylin’ Sponge,” which has this comic-activity page fusion with really unique lovable art by Andy Rementer and writing by Chris Duffy; and “They’re Playing My Tune,” which is the essential Squidward driven mad story we’ve come to love, with art by Jacob Chabot and writing by David Lewman.

Don’t get me wrong, all the stories are great, those just stuck out. In fact there wasn’t a page from front to back cover that I didn’t love about this first issue! Pick it up, it’s on stands now!

Something To Watch: Death Kappa

That’s right, your something to watch this week is Death Kappa. Now I’ll note right away for our readers who grab stuff from here for their little-little kids, this flick is more PG-13 because of a random scene of gore, other than that, this is fine for everyone. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get down to it: Death Kappa. Monster heroes from Godzilla to Gamera have always been a staple in Japan (and we love the crap out of them in this column). In the past few years Japan has churned out giant monster comedies including Monster-X Strikes Back: Attack The G-8 Summit, Big Man Japan, and most recently Death Kappa. Death Kappa is from the production studio behind recent gore-filled cult films Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police, however other than one random scene of gore in it, they decided to take a lighter spin with Death Kappa and give us a monster comedy.

The plot is straight forward: When struggling pop star Kanako returns home after failing in Tokyo, she arrives to watch her Grandmother run over by a bunch of troubled teens, who also trash the shrine of a Kappa (Japanese water demon), awaking him from his slumber. Seems this is just in time, for a hidden cell of Japanese loyalists from World War 2 have started to awaken their fishmen monsters to wreak havoc and reclaim the world. The plot moves along quickly, and long-short, an atomic bomb goes off  mutating the fishmen into a giant monster named Hagoylas. The only hope for Japan from Hagoylas destroying it is the Kappa that was awakened, now also mutated by the bomb and turned into the giant Death Kappa.

Yes, in 79 minutes we get a quick paced plot with some cheesy comical moments and a little homage to American horror films, Japanese sci-fi cinema, and interestingly enough for those who study Asian cinema, Japanese Diver-Girl films as well. Since they decided to make Death Kappa a comedy, at times it has a more Sid and Marty Kroft Lidsville feeling than a¬†Gamera feeling. We can purposely see strings galore on the air planes and tanks trying to save the day, people cry “Mommy!” before they die, that sort of camp. The odd thing is when you look at the special effect for fire blasts and such, even the suit for Kappa, we can see that they had the ability to make a good serious giant monster film if they had wanted to. In my opinion it’s a shame they went the comic route when actual good work that shows through proves they could have given us a great straight-film. Still, it’s worth the watch, so check out the trailer here.

That’s it for this time around, and remember, Viras loves you!

Drew McCabe



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