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Tuesday, Apr 6, 2010
Hanako and the Terror of Allegory presents an intriguing combination of quirky characters and traditional Japanese myths, and seems to be a meditation (albeit one with an incredibly goofy sense of humour) on the relationship between storytelling and psychology.

A self-conscious young woman is teased by her classmates, who compare her to the yokai known as the “slit-mouthed woman.” She takes their taunts to heart, and believes in the myth of the yokai so deeply that she eventually turns into the powerful and destructive demon.


As we learn more about her story, we find that her transformation is an allegory that involves deeper and more touching themes of honesty and love. In order to challenge her “possession” by the story of the yokai, it must be interpreted and understood on more than one level. As heady as that sounds, bear in mind that this challenge is led by a porn-addicted, hiccuping detective and his bathroom-dwelling partner, who is another yokai.


Hanako and the Terror of Allegory presents an intriguing combination of quirky characters and traditional Japanese myths, and seems to be a meditation (albeit one with an incredibly goofy sense of humour) on the relationship between storytelling and psychology.


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Monday, Mar 29, 2010
Late-Night Thoughts on a Mean Little Book of Noir

Raymond Chandler wrote that “everything written with vitality expresses that vitality; there are no dull subjects, only dull minds.”


The 13 tales in Dark Horse’s Noir demonstrate that vitality in spades. It’s a lean black and white anthology with an invigorating sense of energy that presents an intriguing cross-section of crime narrative and visual styles.


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Thursday, Mar 25, 2010

Saturday morning cartoons were a staple of my childhood. From time to time a new cartoon would appear for a season or two, then disappear. Such was the case with King Arthur & the Knights of Justice. From what I remember, this was a great cartoon. Great enough, in fact, to merit a three-issue mini series released by Marvel Comics to help promote the series in the early ‘90s. A comicbook mini-series, based on a Saturday morning cartoon, published by Marvel Comics usually finds a way to fail miserably.


The premise is lofty, to say the least. A college football team, lead by quarterback named Arthur King, is transported back in time by Merlin to help defend Camelot and save the real King Arthur and his knights. After landing in medieval Camelot, the former football players-turned-knights suit up, putting on the armor of their imprisoned counterparts, and start beating up bad guys. By the end of this mini-series, Lady Guinevere has been saved, but the true King and his knights are still held prisoner by the evil sorceress Morgana. Arthur and his new knights vow to defend Camalot, free King Arthur, and return home, someday.


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Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010
Whether you've never been or haven't been back for some time, visit Astro City today!

I do not pay much attention to sales numbers or things like that, the drier side of the industry.  But I have worked part-time in a comics shop for the past five years, and this has afforded me an opportunity to make note of sales trends to some small degree.  It seems lately that interest in Astro City, by writer Kurt Busiek and artist Brent Anderson, has declined somewhat.  Perhaps this is because Busiek’s health problems have prevented the book from being released in a timely manner, or perhaps it is because the current series, The Dark Age, seems to be dragging on a bit.


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Tuesday, Mar 23, 2010

We made mad love, shadow love
Random love and abandon love.
Accidentally like a martyr.
The hurt gets worse, and the heart gets harder.

- Warren Zevon, “Accidentally Like a Martyr”


Let a complex system repeat itself long enough, eventually something surprising will occur. That, too, is in God’s plan.
- Head-Six, Battlestar Galactica


When Warren Ellis took the reigns of three low-selling X-Men spin-offs—X-Man, Generation X and X-Force—around a decade ago, fans quickly weighed in, judging his ‘soft reboot’ of Nate Gray, the multiversal refugee and titular hero of X-Man, to be the greatest success of the ‘Counter X’ line. Transforming Nate from an angsty, displaced young man into a hero with a purpose, a literal shaman of the mutant ‘tribe’, Ellis tapped into the pre-millennial subconscious. It was this mood that had just been attempting to properly filter the alleged ‘Millennium Bug’, the upcoming elections in the United States, the creation of the Euro, a rash of high school shootings, and the resignation of Boris Yeltsin, which led to the subsequent rise to power of Vladimir Putin.


Instead of just another superhero, Nate Gray became a new man on the cusp of a new millennium, fulfilling all the duties of a shaman in the modern age, protecting his tribe, spinning stories and communing with those from worlds beyond our own. While a deeply spiritual work, the ‘Counter X’ run of X-Man also found time to play around with aspects of fringe science that reached a fever pitch in popularity at the turn of the millennium, most notably the genetics of mutation and multiversal travel.


But Ellis’ reinvention of Nate Gray as a spiritual vanguard of the new millennium didn’t emerge from a vacuum. Nothing artistic does.


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