Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fashion Corner with Filby: Those Anime Figurines


Remember those kinda skanky-looking "anime" figurines that DC Direct released last year and created a bit of a stir around the comics blogosphere? Well, seems they're releasing a few more. I meant to post my thoughts about them when the buzz first started but never got around to it, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to do so now.

My main problems are twofold. First of all, they all look the same age. This isn't a problem for Batgirl or Supergirl, but Power Girl and Wonder Woman shouldn't have the same big eyes and proportionately large head. Which leads into my second problem: The anatomy is all kinds of off. I realize that they're trying to emulate cartoons here, but still, anime need not have bad anatomy (see Mai-HiME, which is pretty fanservicey but with a wide variety of body types well within the human norm). Some of these are approaching Liefeld-scale ugh-ness.

Anyway. These are my impressions, one by one:

Catwoman: Absolutely awful. I'm just not into those extreme fanservice extravaganza bishoujo series (Mouse and Najica Blitz Tactics spring immediately to mind), and she looks like she stepped right out of one. Last year I recall these figurines described as "masturbatory aids," and I think this one is by far the most blatant.

Power Girl: Looks pretty good, but I'd do away with the navel and knee holes and make her tights more like a normal one-piece and less thong-like. As noted, I hate her face -- no way Karen should look so vapid. Otherwise, fairly solid, especially the boots and gauntlets. I appreciate that they gave her a slightly more muscular physique than the others. I get a vague Evangelion vibe, but maybe it's just the color scheme.

Batgirl: Solid. Dig the sentai look. Lose the heels and maybe make the belt better-fitting, and it'd be perfect.

Supergirl: Bring the skirt up a little higher and make it a little longer and I'd be okay with it. The bare torso is also not really necessary, and it draws attention to the poor anatomy worse than the others. I do, however, like the gloves, boots, and cape.

Wonder Woman: By far the best of the bunch. Implausible anatomy, but since her outfit actually covers more skin than the "normal" Wonder Woman it's not as distracting. I love the shield, pauldron, (apparently) leather armor, and tiara-turned-helmet. I also don't mind the high heels; Diana can fly, so it's not like she needs to worry about tripping. They also got Diana's personality down pat with her pose. The sword's a little big, but since I enjoyed Berserk I'll let it go. I'd go so far as to say I like it better than the real Wonder Woman's costume.

Those are the first wave of figurines. Here's the new ones:

Harley Quinn: Another fanservicey bishoujo-looking outfit, but I think it actually works on the character. I doubt the artist intended it to look so... goofy... but again, Harley's a goofy person! That said, the little Joker-tassels are stupid and must go.

Poison Ivy: I'd make the bikini bottom cover a little more area, but otherwise I like it. The vine-hands and "snapdragons" are a very cool, kinda creepy touch.

Hawkgirl: She needs pants. I don't hate the loincloth, but in the immortal words of the Bowler, "Maybe you should put some pants on, or something, if you want to keep fighting evil today." I mean, you don't fly over peoples' heads in a loincloth, especially since she shows no indication of wearing undies. Also, her scabbards seem to be attached a little too loosely. Those complaints aside: I like the helmet, the bracers, the boots, and especially the finger-claws.

Cheetah: I'm mostly neutral on this one, though I don't like the bondage collar or the oversized paws (like Felicia from Darkstalkers -- animal parts are always a turn-off).

Black Canary: Where are the fishnets?!? You can't have Black Canary without fishnets. I mean, technically you can, but it sucks -- see her JLI costume. Otherwise I really like the ninja look, especially the flat boots and coat.


I kind of wonder who the target audience is supposed to be: American comics fans who are also into anime, or Japanese anime fans who might be curious about American comics. In any case, it's apparent that whoever they're aimed at it's exclusively male. I'm sort of disappointed that there aren't any male superhero redesigns, especially Superman, Batman, and the Green Lantern of your choice. And who wouldn't want smexy bishounen Nightwing? Just sayin'.

Anyone else have any more thoughts?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Creative Writing Returns: Mountains

I enjoy writing, but I'm not very disciplined. I've only ever completed one story, actually, over five years ago. Still, it's good to flex the writing muscles every once in a while. So on the spur of the moment I whipped up this little vignette.


Ken had never seen a mountain before.

Well, that's not strictly true. He'd seen hundreds of them on film. He'd driven through the Berkshires a couple times, with its rounded mounds marching like elephants along the horizon, just tall enough to qualify as "mountains" by surveyors' standards but which were really just glorified hills. But he'd never actually stood at the foot of a real mountain out West, staring up at the snow-covered peak impossibly high above the vast green expanse of conifers. His mind could barely appreciate the sheer immensity of the thing: How could something so huge exist? He had vague memories of his mother reading him The Hobbit as a small child, and pictured himself as a scared little hobbit without a pocket-handkerchief staring in wonder at the enormous Misty Mountains looming in the distance.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?"

Ken's mind snapped back to reality. He was back on the city's main thoroughfare, modern glass-and-steel buildings flanked by homey old storefronts, tourists swarming everywhere. One of the three huge cruise ships in the harbor behind him sounded its enormous, bellowing horn; he felt his whole body vibrate. Suzanne had an arm slung over his shoulder and was playing idly with his short black ponytail.

"Uh... yeah. Yeah, it is. I just never saw anything so..."

"Big?" she interrupted with a chuckle. "Yeah, you Easterners and your little molehills. And it's 'I've never seen,' by the way." She playfully punched his shoulder.

"Shut up," he said with a grin. He looked back up at the peak towering high over town. "I expected more snow."

Suzanne rolled her eyes. "This is Juneau, not Nome. And July, by the way."

"So no polar bears?"

"No polar bears."

He shrugged, and laughed. Suddenly Suzanne grabbed his arm and tugged him toward the street. "Look, there's my brother's car. David!"

Getting Fed Up with Scans Daily

Christ, these people just live to bitch.

"Oh boo hoo! Plastic Man's in a story with drama! Dan Didio wants to rape my childhood!"

And they still won't shut up about fucking Blue Beetle getting killed two and a half fucking years ago. ARGH!!!

Seriously. Pisses me the hell off.

EDIT, 12/08/07: For those of you coming here from Google (I don't know how I got to be on the first page of results for "scans daily"), let it be known that this was written in a fit of pique during a bout of depression. I'm over it. Please don't take it all serious-like.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm in Love with Kyle Rayner

I am. I really, really am. I'm allowed to be, now that it's the '90s the '00s. And I'm from Massachusetts. Choke on that, Westboro Baptist Church!

*ahem* Seriously, I picked up Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Parallax today, and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner is now totally my hetero mancrush. One-shot crossover tie-ins usually don't turn out terribly well in my estimation, but this one completely changed my perception of the character. I knew he was one of those sensitive art school types, but I never really got a look inside his psyche until now.

And that's what this whole issue is: A look at what's going on inside Kyle's mind while he's trapped inside Parallax, with Parallax taunting him with the horrible deeds he's forcing Kyle to commit. The whole "I can never get close to any women because they'll die" thing was trotted out like usual, but for once Kyle's showing some signs of moving past that.

Also, Kyllax is hot. Like, really smoking hot. I swear when Parallax showed up in Kyle's duds I almost fainted right there on the bus.

And Kyle watches Patlabor. That's like totally my favorite anime!!! OMGWTFBBQYAYSQUEE!!!

So yeah. There ya go. I am in love with Kyle Rayner.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Meme Time

Was tagged by Ami, so here's a "Fictional Characters Meme."

I've actually done something like this before, only with RPG characters I've played. That was a little easier, though, since most of them were from the same genre (fantasy). These are all over the place, making it a mite tougher.

First, select your ten fictional characters (from any medium) by whichever method you like best. Then answer the questions below.

1. Mister Terrific, Michael Holt (JSA)
2. Green Lantern, Alan Scott (JSA)
3. Power Girl, Karen Starr/Kara Zor-L (JSA)
4. Sir Parn (Record of Lodoss War)
5. Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller's Day Off)
6. Harunobu Madarame (Genshiken)
7. "Kyon" (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)
8. Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit)
9. Professor James Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes)
10. Filby Pott (me! yes, I'm vain!)

1. Divide the list up by even and odd. Which group of five would make a better Five Man Band (like a Power Rangers team)? Who would you slot in each position: Leader, Lancer (second-in-command), Big Guy, Smart Guy, The Chick? If you think the team would be improved by swapping one character between the even and odd groups, which ones would you switch?

Evens: Alan, Parn, Madarame, Bilbo, Filby

Odds: Mr. Terrific, Power Girl, Ferris, Kyon, Moriarty

Odd wins out. Leader: Terrific. Lancer: Ferris. Big Guy: Power Girl. Smart Guy (and evil mole!): Moriarty. The Chick (not female, but still Daphne-esque useless): Kyon.

2. Gender-swap 2, 8 & 10. Which character would have the most change in their story arc? Which the least? Would any of these characters have to have a complete personality change to be believable as the opposite sex?

Ellen Scott, Bilba Baggins, and... Filbie Pott?

"Ellen" would have the biggest change in her backstory. Her personality and heroic identity wouldn't have to change much, but since women couldn't be engineers in the early '40s (not until Rosie the Riveter, anyway) or work their way up to business moguls, her civilian life would be considerably different. She'd also probably get stuck as the JSA's secretary instead of one of its leaders, though. :P

"Bilba's" life wouldn't be much different. A burglar is a burglar regardless of sex, and I don't think Thorin & Co. would be any more or less receptive to her.

And "Filbie"... hah... I don't even want to go there.

3. Compare the matchups of 1 & 8 and 5 & 9. (Ignore canon sexual preferences for the moment.) Which couple would be more compatible? Which couple would be more plausible to people from either principal's home culture?

Mr. Terrific/Bilbo and Ferris/Moriarty.


Welllllll, I don't think Bilbo carrying on an affair with a man twice his size would be very... respectable (not that he ever cared that much what the neighbors thought). And also, as Ami says, Sasha would rip the poor hobbit to shreds. So I'll have to go with Ferris/Moriarty, if only because they're both the same species. Ferris is pretty charming, he could make it work. ;P

4. Your team is 3, 4 & 9. The mission consists of a social challenge, a mental challenge and a physical challenge. Which team member do you assign to each challenge?

Power Girl, Parn, and Moriarty.

That's not too hard. Power Girl, with her innate Kryptonian powers, gets the physical challenge done without a hitch. Moriarty, as the greatest criminal mind of all time, gets the mental challenge. As a knight, Parn hobnobs with nobility and is expected to possess a level of refinement, so he gets the social challenge.

Being an utter blackguard, of course, Moriarty would be likely to betray me, but since Karen has super-senses and greater-than-human intellect, I'd have her remotely keep an ear on the Professor to see if he gets out of line.

5. 7 becomes 1's boss for a week in some plausible fashion. How's their working relationship?

Kyon as Michael's boss? That's... highly improbable. In fact it's impossible, since one's the smartest man in the world and co-leader of the most advanced spy organization on Earth and the other's just a below-average fifteen-year-old high school student. Not that they'd have a bad relationship, since Michael's an incredibly giving and understanding guy and Kyon would doubtless appreciate having a companion who doesn't speak in riddles and enigmas for once.

6. 2 finds him/her/itself inserted into 6's continuity. As far as anyone other than 2 or 6 is concerned, they've always been there. What role would 2 be presumed to have had in 6's story, and could they fit in without going wonky?

That would be weird. Madarame and his buds live completely mundane lives in a reasonable facsimile of the real world, and Alan would stick out like a sore thumb. Likewise, as a big-time American super-hero, he'd have no business hanging around a Japanese community college. I don't see Alan becoming a part of the Genshiken's story, but if he were operating openly the guys in the club might spend an issue/episode talking about how cool he is, before getting distracted by some new video game...

7. 3 and 5 get three wishes. The catch is that they have to agree on all three wishes before they get the benefits of any of them. What three wishes would they make?

Power Girl and Ferris? That's a toughie. Well, first I'll say that Karen wishes for Earth-Two to come back into existence along with her dead parent-figures Lois and Clark, which benefits Ferris because then he'll have a twenty-years-older doppelganger of himself to bestow wisdom upon him or something. Then the Ferrises Two would sweet-talk Peej into relinquishing her two remaining wishes so they could wish for unlimited days off and a totally sweet vintage automobile.

8. 1 and 2 are brainwashed by a one-time artifact that works even on people immune to mind control to attack and kill 4. They keep their normal personality, skills and competence level, except any Code vs. Killing has been turned off. Can 4 survive? How?

Power Girl and Green Lantern versus Parn? Geez. If he's on his own, he's dead, magic sword or no. That said, as the leader of a band of intrepid adventurers, it's only fair that Parn gets to fight alongside his friends. Since he's close friends with three powerful spellcasters, that would help him survive P. G.'s onslaught, since Kryptonians are vulnerable to magic. It would be a tougher fight against Alan, but Deedlit could summon elementals to keep him busy while Parn takes him out with a well-placed tree-branch, since his ring can't affect wooden objects. Power Girl would only be slowed down, though, since Slayn wouldn't unleash his full magical arsenal against her knowing she was mind controlled. So I think Parn could potentially win, but Karen would just as likely overwhelm the whole bunch of them.

9. 6, 7, 9 & 10 must help an orphanage full of small and depressed children have a merry Christmas. Who does what, knowing that at the very least the kids will be expecting a visit from Santa?

Oh geez, the two most useless plus the two most evil. This is further complicated by the fact that Kyon and Madarame don't speak English, Moriarty probably doesn't speak Japanese, and Filby doesn't speak either language. Well, being from a comedy series, Madarame has the greatest likelihood of getting stuck in an embarrassing costume, so he'd be Santa. Filby, of course, would be the elf, much to his chagrin. The good Professor would swindle the whole lot of them and leave the orphans out in the cold, leaving Madarame and Filby as the unwitting patsies. Kyon just stands to the side and snarks.

10. 3 and 8 are challenged to circumnavigate the Earth in eighty days or less, using only forms of transportation invented before 1900. Can they do it, or will they be fatally distracted by sidequests or their own personality conflicts?

Bilbo and Power Girl? Since Karen can fly around the world in, like, five minutes or whatever, yeah, totally. But assuming she agrees not to use flight or super-speed? Still possible. They're both pretty easygoing, so they'd get along just fine. Karen's pretty focused, which would help temper Bilbo's wanderlust. Plus Karen has all her other powers and Bilbo the Ring to help get them out of scrapes. So yeah, it's totally possible.

I tag... um, Adam and Ami have both already done it (Ami twice), and I don't wanna make them have to do it again. Tom Foss comments occasionally and Ragnell is probably at least tangentially aware of my blog if I've been linked by WFA, so I guess they can consider themselves tagged if they read this.

I am Iron Man!!!

Iron Man Trailer

There haven't been many great super-hero movies lately, not since Batman Begins in my opinion. I dunno if Iron Man will lift the genre out of its doldrums... but it sure looks cool. I kinda like Iron Man (even if he's an insufferable dick), and the filmmakers seem to have a solid grasp on the character. I've also always been a fan of his character design/costume, and it really stands out in that regard.

I'm glad they've also ditched his origin in Vietnam with the whole outdated Cold War-era "scary Asian people"/Yellow Peril angle. I've heard that the Mandarin will be an off-stage presence, like Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, and just the fact that he's involved at all makes me roll my eyes, but... I'll wait and see.

And hey! Sam L. Jackson's in it! How can that go wrong? *pretends not to remember XXX*

Monday, September 10, 2007

Thoughts on Rachel Ray; or, RAAAAAAAAAAGE!!!!





Saturday, September 08, 2007

Farewell to a Friend

I got the last issue of Dragon Magazine yesterday.

This is the end of an era.

I realize now why it's been canceled. In the lead-up to the (brazenly money-grubbing) debut of D&D's 4th edition, Wizards of the Coast has been pulling back its licensed properties: Dragon and Dungeon from Paizo Publishing, the Ravenloft setting from White Wolf, and I hear even the Dragonlance series is being cut. Wizards apparently wants all their eggs in one basket. It probably didn't help that Dragon's game material was consistently better presented and thought-out than Wizards's own, which for the last year or two had mainly been one or two new races or classes in between two hundred pages of filler; the student had truly exceeded the master.

It was a great issue, too. A beautiful painted cover by the talented Larry Elmore. An extra-long editorial bidding farewell to the readers followed by an extra-long letters page with messages from bereaved fans. We got a top 20 list of the vilest villains, from Lord Soth and Artemis Entreri to Demogorgon and the Dread God Tharizdun, all the way up to Lolth, Tiamat, and Count Strahd Von Zarovich. The secrets of Iggwilv's Demonomicon were laid bare. Lots of loose ends were wrapped up. Elminster Aumar, Lord Mordenkainen, and Dalamar the Dark had one last meeting in Ed Greenwood's drawing room. Greenwood let us know that Old El would reduce Raistlin Majere to a smoking pair of boots, while Margaret Weis made it clear that Raistlin would blast Elminster out of the Forgotten Realms and clear into Greyhawk. The Monster Hunters' Society met one last time to discuss the ecology of the legendary Tarrasque.

Finally, the comics. "Nodwick," "Dork Tower," and "The Order of the Stick" each give the magazine a touching send-off in their own unique ways, though it's tempered by the knowledge that all three strips will live on in webcomic form. I turn the last page, expecting just some random ad, but lo and behold...

Oh My God it's Phil and Dixie.

Two years after it'd been discontinued, they actually brought back Phil Foglio's "What's New? with Phil and Dixie!" for one last hurrah. I'm on the verge of tears now, I'm so happy. "Hasta la vista, amigos! Today we're talking about endings!" And with that, Phil and Dixie, and Dragon itself, ride symbolically off into the sunset.

And with that, I think my involvement in Dungeons & Dragons ends here.

I only played once, in 7th grade, before the DM decided someone cooler than me should take my place. The closest I came after that were two internet campaigns that were aborted before I got to roll a single digital die. Yet the worlds of D&D have loomed large in my imagination for years now, offering a welcome haven from the dreary toil of everyday life.

I don't like what I've heard of 4th Edition. From a rules standpoint a lot of their decisions seem like downright insipid throwbacks to 2nd Edition rules, but ultimately I'm just the cranky, crusty sort who doesn't acclimate well to change of any kind. Oh, if someone invites me to join in a 3rd Edition game I won't turn them down, and I'll still happily continue contributing to the online D&D communities of which I'm a part. But from now on, what Wizards of the Coast does with their properties is no concern of mine. D&D is over for me.

I say again: It is the end of an era.

And even if it's only been as a passive observer, I'm proud to have been a part of it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back to School

Well, it's back to college after three months. I was so anxious I literally didn't sleep a wink last night... just lay there for nine hours waiting for my brain to shut off. Ugh.

Anyway, I got straight "A"s last semester and I'm not too worried about my performance; it's just this sudden shift in my habits to which I'm having trouble acclimating. Not that I was a post-a-day wonder to begin with, but it's possible my updates will become a bit more sporadic for a while.