March 11, 2011

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Young Justice, OnePiece/DragonBall, Rango and more!

Hellooooooooooooo nurse! So I’ll start with a small apology to the dedicated readers of the column; seems last week I didn’t post any giant monster pics (since October I have ended every column with giant monster anatomy drawings) and within 24 hours of last week’s columns being posted I got comments and e-mails asking what was up with that, yo?! Honestly, I’m glad you guys liked them. After all these months I have run down on good looking scans of those old Japanese monster anatomy drawings finally, however in the mean time until more quality ones pop up, this week we still give you some pics of giant monsters for your enjoyment! And if you are new to reading this column, disregard the opening few lines, and now it’s time to get down with us at From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays!

Last week at the movies Rango came out (reviewed later in this column), and now today Disney releases its latest computer animated film Mars Needs Moms. Admittedly it doesn’t feel as good as the Disney-Pixar computer film team-ups, however it still looks like it could be a somewhat entertaining film for everyone to watch on a Saturday afternoon. I think it’s a good early kick-off to the movie season, which will be filled with a ton of films for us comic book fans. The one I’m looking forward to the most: Captain America!

Also this month Life With Archie beefs up and is now 80-pages of goodness every month. True, the glossy pages have been replaced with regular full color news print, however the trade off is we get way more alternative-time lines of Archie’s life to live with him, as well as the fun with the new take on Jinx, so really we can’t go wrong to get more.

Out On Stands: Young Justice #1
Publisher: DC Comics
Writers: Art Baltazar and Franco
Artist: Mike Norton

The Young Justice TV series currently airs on Cartoon Network, the latest show from WB Animation doing their yearly DC toon. The premise interested me a tad bit. It isn’t the Teen Titans, it is an alternate Earth where these “sidekicks” start to hit their growing pains and band together to fight crime, but in more of the vein of Gundam Wing or DC’s Outsiders, they become more a covert team for the Justice League to dispatch quietly on missions they don’t care to make to public. Basically they’re using kids as weapons. This, as well as the Superboy origin and issues he deals with as a clone, may be a little darker than some would expect for a kids’ series. We were getting use to Batman:Brave and the Bold‘s super kid friendly direction, however that hasn’t stopped DC from turning it into a comic on their youth-line.

Normally I would have stayed away from the comic, not thrilled with other DC adaptation’s of their TV shows back into comic form. What DC did to smartly draw readers like me back in was team-up once again writers Baltazar and Franco with artist Mike Norton. The trio were doing amazing things with the Marvel family back in 2010 when DC received the dunce of the year award and made a big stupid mistake and canceled the title Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! So how does it hold up have these three reassigned to a new team? The results are still great for the first issue. Baltazar and Franco start the story literally right where episode #2 of the TV show ends (literally, lines right from the episode and all) and continue the tale as Superboy and Miss Martian are left alone to try and settle into their new headquarters where they’ll be living. The tension is high with the two, Superboy being a clone and not sure how to deal with others, Miss Martian an alien and not sure how to deal with people on Earth yet, and the awkwardness is high. Something odd is taking place and there’s an almost Edgar Allen Poe-ish vibe; nothing is right in this old base. There is a kid disappearing and reappearing, a constant laugh haunting, nothing is right. Then of course there is a nice surprise cliff hanger ending to the issue that we love. The art by Norton as per usual is great. Between this and the now defunct Shazam-title,  just love how this guy draws his characters, always looking nice and laying out the suspense of the issue for us at visual excellence.

So there you have it. DC may have just caught on to a few follies they have made, and if the first issue of Young Justice is any indication, the future looks a lot brighter for the new title, as well as DCs youth-line.

Out On Stands: One Piece -X- Dragon Ball: Cross Epoch (in Shonen Jump issue #100)
Publisher: Viz Media
Art and Story: Eiichiro Oda and Akira Toriyama

It seems like just the other day at the start of high school I was reading two brand new manga anthologies here in the states, Rajin Comics and the Amercian version of Shonen Jump, and getting over the blues of Tokyopop getting rid of their newsstand title Tokyo Pop to just do graphic novels. All these years later it’s nice to see Shonen Jump going strong and hitting its 100th American issue here in the states (and when I think of it, it’s sad Rajin Comics was canceled, having cool titles like Fist of the Blue Sky, although Slam Dunk would start be published by Shonen Jump here again a few years ago).

As part of its 100th issue, they have brought us One Piece -X- Dragon Ball: Cross Epoch. Originally published in Japan to celebrate the 10th anniversary of One Piece, Cross Epoch combines the characters of Dragon Ball and One Piece into a special story, very cool for fans as One Piece is the most successful title from Japan since Dragon Ball, and also cool because One Piece‘s Oda is hugely inspired by Toriyama. To see the two on a quick collaboration is just high-fives across the board. The story is set in an alternative time-line from both series, where a man, played by Mr. Satan, uses the dragon balls and wishes to be king, which effects everyone on their way to the Eternal Dragon’s celebration party he’s throwing. All the characters make appearances, basically playing different “parts”; for example Dragon Ball’s Krillian is a train conductor of sorts or Bulma is a space-pirate. I admit, it sounds like the plot is thin there, and  it is. Nothing to be wowed over honestly. However, the whole point of this little gem is just an excuse to have fun, celebrate, and get all the characters to make little cameos from both One Piece and Dragon Ball together in a story and that works. Seeing Goku and Luffy together on the same pages is sure to put a smile on your face, and art wise the collaboration between Toriyama and Oda looks amazing, and you can’t go wrong if you are a fan of their styles.

Happy milestone Shonen Jump, and here’s to another 100 more.

On The Big Screen: Rango

I don’t really know where I can begin with Rango, except I absolutely loved it and you need to get down to a cinema and check this out. Gore Verbinski is the next Speilberg, and everything he takes a swipe at directing, from The Ring to Pirates of the Caribbean, turns into a solid film gem. Whether you like those films or not, within their perspective genres, they are wonderful examples of and rank up there with the best of the best. Rango, an adult film smartly disguised as a family western, is no exception. The film tells the tale of a chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) who, after his owners are in a car accident, finds himself stranded in the desert. Guided by a mysterious antelope he goes off searching for his destiny and finds himself in a town inhabited by an array of odd animals, fashioned like the beings of the wild west. Quickly trying to fit in, he dubs himself with the name Rango and claims to be a great gunslinger, and through a series of events finds himself becoming sheriff of the town. However, the town is drying up and someone has been stealing their water supply, a problem Rango must solve. Obviously, like any solid western there is plenty of two-fisted dealing really going on here, and like any Gore Verbinski film, we get plenty of glorious eye candy mixed in with a little philosophy and existentialism, mixed in with our wild west, making it feel at times more like El Topo than Django (which the title is a play off of). Overall, I can honestly say I loved every part of Rango. The animation was stunning and is on-par with Pixar, certainly blowing Dreamworks and others out of the water still. From night to day in the desert, to the glorious action and chase sequences (specifically the flying bat scene), everything was done to visual excellence. The writing was solid and smart. If you take kids to see it they will love it undoubtedly, but like the old Pinky and the Brain cartoons, there is so much for adults packed in here that you will be drawn to every beat, and you may very well enjoy it way more than any youngster in the house. Depp’s voice as Rango is perfect, it’s a wonder why someone like him with one of the best speaking voices in Hollywood hasn’t done more work of this nature aside from this and Corpse Bride, but that’s neither here or there, because I’m glad he did this. Hans Zimmer’s score is great and packed full of wild west greatness one would want from this film. No matter how we add it up, Rango has a score that knocks it out of the park and is a film you should see on the big screen right away. See it this weekend, folks!

Well, that’s it for now, folks, see you next! And remember, Zigra loves you!









Drew McCabe




  1. Whoa! I know I missed the monster pics in the last article but what the heck are those two doing in the second pic? It looks a little….disturbing.

    I haven’t been able to really watch Young Justice but I keep hearing pretty solid crituques about it and I was thinking about just grabbing a few of the books to see if they were any good. Since I’ve actually seen the first two episodes reading this issue would be perfect!

  2. Billy

    @Speech- Dude, you need to watch YJ from the beginning. Its been solid, and then some. I’ll be seeing Rango later tonight. 🙂

  3. […] […]

  4. […] year Viz published in Shonen Jump here the Dragon Ball/One Piece cross over manga special (which we covered here), and it was pretty cool. Well, in the era of the new all digital Jump, Shonen Jump Alpha (which we […]

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