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Nº5 March 13th 2015

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- Ms. Marvel 13 - Guardians Team-Up 1 - Harley Quinn 15 - Jem and the Holograms 1 - Aldnoah.Zero - Video Girl Ai - CLAMP’s Mastery


Content Volume 3 | NUMBER 5

If just for a few minutes, superheroes help us believe that someone out there is going to come in and save the day. They give us someone to look up to, root for, and aspire to become. But sometimes, superheroes miss the mark and offend way more than they inspire.

March 13th 2015

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Comics section SPOTLIGHT 04- 10 Of The Most Offensive Superheroes In The History Of Comics COMIC NEWS 12- Ms. Marvel 13 14- Silver Surfer 10 16- Guardians Team-Up 1 17- Rocket Raccoon 9 18- Secret Wars (2015) 19- Deadpool: A Preemptive Eulogy 20- ‘Batman: Arkham Knight’ Digital 20- HARLEY QUINN & STARFIRE Team 21- Aquaman and the Others 11 22- Grayson 8 24- Harley Quinn 15 26- Angel & Faith Season 10 - 12 27- Past Aways 1 28- Jem and the Holograms 1 30- Ragnarok 4 INTRODUCTION 32- The Joker

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BD Nostalgia is published weekly by SM DESIGN. Editor/ Publisher: Sylvio Martins, Editorial Office: 5330 Desmarteau, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H1K 2N9 | 514-299-1593. All characters © their respective owners. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter © their respective authors. ©2015 BD NOSTALGIA. DIGITAL PRINTING IN CANADA.

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COMICS PREVIEWS 42- World’s Finest #32 46- Suicide Squad #8 50- Howard the Duck #1 54- The Amazing Spiderman #1 Comic Books This Week 58- comic Book listings 68- covers of the week ANIME/MANGA NEWS 70- Fafner EXODUS 72- Tiger & Bunny: The Rising 76- Aldnoah.Zero 1-9 GUNDAM ENCYCLOPEDIA 82- Turn A Gundam 88- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED A to Z to Anime/Manga 94- Misinterpretations and Misrepresentations of CLAMP’s Mastery in-depth manga review 104- Video Girl Ai MANGA PREVIEW 108- Video Girl Ai

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Editorial Marvel’s Secret Wars will end the current Marvel universe At a press conference for the kickoff the this year’s Secret Wars comic event, Marvel announced the big news: By the end of the event, the Marvel Universe as we know it will be gone. And so will the Ultimate Universe, a separate timeline started in 2000. What’s left will be a fresh universe replacing both of them while carrying over some pieces. Marvel called Secret Wars “the biggest comic of 2015”, we will see...

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10 Of The Most Offensive Superheroes In The History Of Comics

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If just for a few minutes, superheroes help us believe that someone out there is going to come in and save the day. They give us someone to look up to, root for, and aspire to become. But sometimes, superheroes miss the mark and offend way

only capable of doing so if her blood-alcohol level is high enough. She’s literally only as powerful as she is drunk—and she’s a mean drunk. While she’s hammered, she’s not too picky about where she aims her blasts and has been known to take out her

more than they inspire.

X-Statix teammates with them. But really, what else do you expect from a superhero who decides to cash in on her powers not by saving the world, but by appearing on a reality television show? In all fairness to Genie, however, many of her teammates are pretty sad as well. Orphan, who has super senses and was temporarily given the name Mister Sensitive, has a back story of oily skin and insecurities... which he dealt with by attempting suicide.

10-Gin Genie

Most superheroes rely on something innate within themselves for their powers. Whether it’s their alien blood or their genetic mutations, it’s very much a part of them. Gin Genie’s no different, except what’s inside herself was put there by, well, herself—her superpowers rely on getting completely drunk. Genie can generate seismic waves but is 6

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9-Shamrock

Molly Fitzgerald—otherwise known as Shamrock—was Marvel’s attempt at an Irish superhero. If there were any doubts about her ethnicity, they were immediately chased away by her shamrock-print cos-

8-Big Bertha

Big Bertha is a member of Marvel’s Great Lakes Avengers—a team of superheroes who have answered the call to protect America’s Midwest. She’s also the world’s only bulimic superhero. By day, she’s Ashley Crawford—a stunningly beautiful, slender, rich supermodel. She’s passed up modeling opportunities around the world, wanting to stay in the Midwest and fund the entire team’s activities with her modeling money. Her mutant powers allow her to put on an extra 285 kilograms (630 lb) and turn into Big Bertha. In this form, she has super strength and the ability to withstand injury—even repelling bullets. While she keeps her honed athletic skills as Big Bertha, she does tend to tire out more quickly. As if the depiction of the typical “thinner

tume, long curly red hair, and her superpower itself—she’s really, really lucky. Her powers were given to her when her father prayed for superpowers for her brother (who was, of course, named Paddy). Lucky sprites possessed her instead, giving her the ability to use their good luck powers. Her brother was killed in a bombing by IRA terrorists and, when Molly returned home to her father, he immediately tried to turn her from good to bad. When that didn’t work, he tried to steal her powers. Fortunately for her, her luck won out—the gun her father was threatening her with exploded in his is better” (except for Deadpool, who only hand when he tried to fire it. likes her when she’s fat) persona wasn’t Molly’s career ended anticlimactically, bad enough, Big Bertha returns to her suwhen she slipped in a bathroom and broke permodel form by throwing up all her exher leg. Deciding that her luck was gone, tra weight. As opposed to the usual depresshe figured there as nothing more left for sion that accompanies bulimia, she’s often her and she’d better become a hairdresser . . shown strolling out of the bathroom after a purge, wiping her mouth and smiling. . for the other superheroes. BD Nostalgia

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7-Ebony White

Ebony White was created in the 1940s— from his appearance to his speech and even his role, he neatly wrapped up just about ev-

ery racial stereotype of that era that you can think of. White’s major role in The Spirit comic books was to be the less-than-intelligent sounding board for the real heroes to collaborate with. Oh—and also to chauffeur them around. Bizarrely, the character became such a favorite of his creator, Will Eisner, that he soon received his own solo storylines. He became much more of a vehicle for comedy—complete with “funny ways” that, in retrospect, make him pretty painful to look at. This is in spite of Eisner’s insistence that he was only trying to create a good, moral character that readers could identify with. We’re pretty sure that idea just makes him even more of a racist creation. There have been several different attempts at rebooting White, including turning him into a woman. Other reboots of The Spirit just leave him out entirely, and that might end up being the best way to go.

6-Pieface

Lantern’s secret identity, and keeps a journal detailing all his heroic deeds. When he is finally awarded superpowers, he brings out the best qualities in others. He’s also incredibly intelligent, working as an aircraft engineer. All in all, he absolutely didn’t deserve the nickname Pieface. When Hal Jordan famously dubs him that, some attempted to explain that it referred to Eskimo pies (because he’s Inuit, which is supposed to be the joke). Offensive as that theory is, the truth behind the name is actually even more offensive. “Pieface” is a racial slur leveled at anyone with a round, flat face—while it’s specifically been used toward anyone of Asian descent, racism isn’t picky and it’s been used for Inuit people as well. Even though the character is portrayed as a loyal, intelligent friend who gives up the chance to become a full-time superhe-

ro because it would mean abandoning his family, he’s still judged and labeled by his nickname. Later incarnations of the character have him reacting to it in a much more appropriate fashion.

5-Extrano

At first glance, Extrano (real name: GreThere’s nothing inherently wrong with gorio de la Vega) doesn’t seem that bad. In Thomas Kalmaku. He’s the friend and con- fact, he’s a trailblazer, credited as one of the fidant of the Green Lantern—he knows first gay characters in comic book history. 8

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himself, so he goes overboard while compensating for his insecurities. He creates a codpiece with a rocket cannon (insert your

Sadly, the good quickly turns sour—Extrano was obviously written and drawn by someone who had never met a gay man who wasn’t stereotypical and over-the-top feminine. Extrano is perpetually outgoing and friendly, and he refers to himself in the third person. Unfortunately, his name for himself is “Auntie.” He has a colorful wardrobe that’s heavy on the robes and garish jewelry, and he’s often the one that no one takes very seriously. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his archrival is Hemo-Goblin the AIDS vampire. This makes sense in an offensive sort of way, as Extrano has already been clearly identified as HIV-positive. It’s never made clear, however, whether that’s a result of tangling with Hemo-Goblin or his extracurricular activities beforehand.

4-Codpiece

Thankfully, Codpiece only made one appearance in his short-lived career as a superhero. When he showed up in Doom Patrol #70, he was lamenting the size of his manhood. Clearly believing that bigger is better, he attempts to woo woman after woman and is met with the same sort of rejection over and over—he’s too small, he’s not big enough, and so on. They’re actually talking about his height, but he’s convinced that all these women somehow know that he’s tiny in other ways, even though they hadn’t gotten a firsthand look. Even hooking up with a prostitute doesn’t make him feel any better about

own joke here), a drill, scissors, and even a spring-loaded boxing glove. His codpiece doesn’t last long (again, insert your own joke here), and it’s ultimately dissolved by the super dissolving powers of the transsexual Coagula. We suspect there’s a lot more going on here than just a comic book character who was drawn while his creators were drunk.

3-Enchantress

You don’t have to be a feminist to find Enchantress exasperating. Sure she’s a sorceress and all, and she’s got the body of a goddess, but it’s not like she’s using it to wield powerful, magical weapons and fight evil. Unless, of course, you consider sex a powerful, magical weapon. Which Enchantress does. Blonde and beautiful, Enchantress’s first attempt at a career—sorcery—ended when she was expelled from school for causing too much boy trouble. Her storylines include trying (and failing) to seduce Thor, as well as trying (and succeeding) to seduce Thor later on. She’s capable of turning any man into her slave with a single kiss, and she’s not afraid of exploiting that. Her righthand man, Skurge the Executioner, was naturally obsessed with her. He stayed with her as she gave him just enough attention BD Nostalgia

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to ensure that she could keep stringing him along. She has a number of male followers that she treats in the same way, but keeps returning to Thor—especially when he assumes the throne of Asgard. She does have other powers, such as transmutation, illusions, and mind control. However, those powers are most often used to enhance her physical appearance and the effect she has on the men around her. After all, what else could you possibly do with them?

2-Anarchist, AKA Captain Coconut

Anarchist is another member of X-Statix and a colleague of Gin Genie. According to his backstory, he grew up in a Caucasian family in a very Caucasian town, and never knew why his skin was so much darker than everyone else’s—he thought he was just really, really dirty. His attempts to scrub himself clean not only led to the development of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it also triggered a super ability to secrete acid from his skin and generate some sort of unspecified energy. 10 BD Nostalgia

After his attempts to whiten his skin failed, he decided to put his powers to good use and apply for a position with the X-Statix. Once accepted, he adopts a belligerent and militant attitude that he thinks is more appropriate for his race. On X-Statix’s reality

show, he’s known for exploiting his bad attitude and acting as over-the-top as possible in order to increase ratings. Perhaps most cringeworthy is his nickname: Captain Coconut. Given to him by team member Spike—a fellow African-American and member of the National Association for Keeping it Real—he was dubbed Captain Coconut because he was “black on the outside and white on the inside.”


1-Superman and Captain America

Don’t worry—we’re not talking about the modern incarnations of these tried and true favorites, but rather the decades-old versions of them. Throughout comic book history—as far back as 1937′s Detective Comics #1, there’s the overarching theme that suggests all that’s heroic about America is young, white, and male. Superman and Captain America are two of the biggest offenders when it comes to the portrayal of

race in comics. For example, Whitewash Jones—one of the Captain’s many sidekicks—is drawn with every single negative racial stereotype that you can possibly think of. Once World War II rolled around, Superman and Captain America were both recruited into the country’s propaganda machine. One of the most timeless images of this era shows Superman working at a printing press that’s spitting out a single broad-

sheet. On that sheet is an advertisement for war bonds and a suggestion that every time you buy one, “you can slap a Jap.” In a time when America’s own citizens were being rounded up and imprisoned in internment camps simply because they were of Japanese descent, that’s a pretty horrific image to slap on the front page of many people’s favorite comic. Superman’s issues with racism continued well after World War II. Have you ever wondered why there was no racial diversity on Krypton? The official canon answer is

that any non-white Kryptonians are segregated onto their own island, called Vathlo Island. Superman #239—which includes a map of Vathlo—describes the island as the “Home of a Highly Advanced Black Race.” DC Comics writer and editor Mark Waid has called the issue—and the island— something of an embarrassment, but he’s also quick to point out that it was a product of the time. BD Nostalgia

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Marvel Reviews

Ms. Marvel 13

by Greg McElhatton, Reviewer |

simply the protagonist (although she is) but, rather, she’s the main draw. Her personality “Ms. Marvel” #13 kicks off the second continues to feel realistic even as it sparkles; year of storylines for Kamala and compa- a prime example of this is her resistance to ny, and G. Willow Wilson and guest artist meeting Kamran. Her memories of him at Takeshi Miyazawa do so on a good note. 5 years old are unfair even as they’re beThis issue both circles back around to an lievable; you can easily see yourself shying element that’s been lurking in the back- away from someone at her age, desperate to ground of “Ms. Marvel” and brings in get away from the person that your parents some new surprises, and it’s as good a place are foisting on you. Likewise, her geeking as any for new readers to jump on board. out over everything from Bollywood DVDs The star of “Ms. Marvel” #13 is, unsur- to the Marvel Universe’s version of World prisingly, Kamala. I don’t mean that she’s of Warcraft is great; it’s not just that she 12 BD Nostalgia


has actual interests, but that her passion for them comes across as believable. Kamala is that rare comic book teenager who actually feels like a real teenager. Wilson also reminds us that Kamala’s powers are due to her Inhuman heritage and does so in an interesting way that works far better than anything else we’ve seen in Marvel’s big push for the Inhumans over the past year. From the training sequence on New Attilan to Kamala’s encounter with several different Inhumans who each clearly have a different approach to their powers, Wilson not only makes them an interesting aspect of the series that’s back in the foreground -- allowing Kamala to compare herself to some peers -- but she also avoids the obvious trap of making all Inhumans fairly similar. We’re already getting a nice variety here, and I’m genuinely interested to see where Wilson is taking these plotlines. Miyazawa’s art is cute, both in how he draws Kamala as well as the rest of the cast. Sometimes it works but, other times, it’s actually a little too cute. For the former, the scene where Kamala runs away from the “legendary” training program is a great

example. She’s clearly working hard and the monsters and lasers are attacking, but there’s something disarming about it that her feel as though she’s never in any sort of mortal danger. The four-eyed monsters are strong but they’re also a little adorable. For the latter, when we first see Kamala in her full Ms. Marvel outfit (as she explains that “Jersey City is off-limits to whackos”), the cuteness factor makes her look like an eight-year-old, not a teenager. She’s a little too precious. On the whole, the book looks good with Ian Herring and Irma Kniivila providing some very soft, gentle colors but, every time the art skews a little too cute and young, it doesn’t feel quite right. The additions to “Ms. Marvel” this month all have a lot of promise and, based on the previous twelve issues, I’m eager to see what’s going to happen next. “Ms. Marvel” already had a good supporting cast, but there’s definitely room for Kamran to stick around, with any luck. With the Inhuman presence in the title also picking up, here’s hoping that more writers will follow Wilson’s lead on how to handle them. So far, so good.

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Marvel Reviews

Silver Surfer 10

by Greg McElhatton, You might think that “Silver Surfer” #10 was the conclusion of the series, as Dan Slott, Michael Allred and Laura Allred wrap up a storyline pitting Surfer, Dawn and Newhaven refugees against Galactus -- but don’t worry, it’s not. In terms of how to end a story arc, “Silver Surfer” #10 does so in a grand and dramatic way that ultimately gives this story that much more impact. At first, this storyline -- introducing the planet Newhaven, which is full of alien refugees whose worlds were destroyed by Galactus -- seemed to be a fun and clever idea, if nothing too out of the ordinary. We’re proven wrong here, as Galactus’s arrival turns into a fight that both defines what it is to be a hero and sheds some more light on what Galactus looks for in a herald. Slott’s story about trying to save the residents of Newhaven ends up being much more because it not only plays with the history and mythology of the Silver Surfer, but it takes the familiar clash of Galactus wanting to devour an inhabited planet and brings it into new territory. In terms of the writing, it’s why Slott’s run on “Silver Surfer” works so well; it’s not content 14 BD Nostalgia

to simply rest on past glories and rehash the stories we’ve seen before, instead drawing off of them and creating something different. Along those lines, Dawn Greenwood certainly had the possibility of becoming a cliché -- the human who falls for the Silver Surfer -- but, ten issues in, I need to say that I’m a big fan. Emotional attachment aside for the time being, there’s a lot to like about her. She has a mind of her own, something that makes her less of a sidekick and more of an ally to the Surfer. She’s also someone who is never content to be a victim or a puppet; we’ve seen it before in previous issues, and we get it again here in her attempt to save Newhaven from Galactus. As I said earlier, “Silver Surfer” #10 feels like it could have been the end of the series, and it’s hard to wonder if this was an artificial conclusion point in case the sales weren’t strong enough to warrant more issues. I’m thrilled that it’s not the end, even with the slight change in the status quo holding a lot of possibilities for where “Silver Surfer” #11 and beyond will take us. Once again, kudos to all involved; Slott and the Allreds continue to breathe life into a character who is far too easily made stale.


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Marvel Reviews Guardians Team-Up 1 by Doug Zawisza

In Brian Michael Bendis and Art Adams’ “Guardians Team-Up” #1, Bendis uses a fairly mundane plot device to bring the Guardians to Earth and loosely connects this series to his current run on “Guardians of the Galaxy” proper. That loose connection enables wiggle room for the story and the rosters but it doesn’t change the per-

sonalities Bendis has established in his experiences with Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot (Angela, Venom and Captain Marvel are absent in this issue). With a limited timeline to hook readers, Bendis keeps the action fierce and fiery in “Guardians Team-Up” #1, giving both Avengers and Guardians ample opportunities to flex their muscles and make an impression. Of course, it helps that Bendis is writing those action sequences for Art Adams. 16 BD Nostalgia

While his work is nowhere near as prevalent in today’s comics as it was in the 1980s, there is still a wonderful sense of grandeur packed into every panel Adams draws. “Guardians Team-Up” #1 features Adams without the filter of an inker, and the drawings are much better for it. At points, an inker certainly would have helped smooth rough spots out or increased the depth of field a bit, but pure pencils give readers the fur on Rocket’s noggin and the reptilian skeletal countenances of the Chitauri. Adams, like George Pérez, flourishes when there is more to be drawn on the page, and Bendis’ story delivers plenty to be drawn, including gigantic spacecraft, strip malls and Hawkeye about to eat a sandwich. Paul Mounts’ colors are bright and unapologetic. By the end of “Guardians Team-Up” #1, I found myself more accustomed to the wide, spring-inspired range he uses, but -early on in the issue -- the colors seem out of place, especially given the cinematic inspiration for the cast of this comic. Mounts is definitely more apt to color the Avengers and their wide array of bright uniforms, but the Guardians range from brown to three different shades of green and over to mahogany, all of which seem almost faded on this brighter scale. Petit’s letters pose no such adjustment period. From Rocket’s rumbling balloons to the variations on “I am Groot,” the letterer makes it all fit nicely and even brings along Chitauri babble for variety. Petit works in the Avengers logo along the way and gives the sound effects depth, integrating them with Adams’ art. “Guardians Team-Up” #1 is the kind of comic that will keep team-up nuts occupied for hours, days or maybe even weeks, poring over the panels to find all of the detail Adams has packed into this story. The story itself walks a very fine line between being relevant and simply pandering to the movie audience.


Rocket Raccoon 9

by Doug Zawisza

Writer Skottie Young and artist Jake Parker open “Rocket Raccoon” #9 with red skies and a leaping Hulk in New York City of the year 2046. Hulk leaps into action against Groot, who is on a rampage through the city and makes fast work of the Emerald Avenger. In the issue, Iron Man and Captain America watch over a decimated future with alarming destruction. Iron Man, in this case, is back in red and gold and answers to Tony while Cap, now outfitted with a cybernetic leg, answers to Steve. Using those icons as the fulcrum for the story, Young swings the tale from Earth to outer space as the Avengers call upon Rocket Raccoon to talk Groot down. In space, readers are introduced to a foul-mouthed Rocket, who has been through a few more scraps in the time between 2015 and 2046. In addition to Rocket’s temper, Young brings along some humor, both in art and dialogue, making “Rocket Raccoon” #9 a solid representation of his contributions to this series despite the futuristic setting. The art from Jake Parker is playful and lively, similar in style to Young’s but more youthful and exuberant. Every character, from grizzled old Rocket to howling, kaiju Groot, brings a range of expression that feeds from the story and powers the nar-

rative forward. Parker’s work, especially the silent or near-silent panels, illustrates Young’s confidence in his artistic collaborator. Parker and letterer Jeff Eckleberry blend together nicely. Parker undoubtedly draws some of the sound effects in, but the collaboration between the two is subtle enough to meld together without notable transition. Like the bold, unrestrained future in Parker’s drawings, Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s colors make no apologies. The red skies mentioned earlier would make Crayola proud, while the yellows, reds, blues, greens and purples do a nice job of rounding out the visuals of “Rocket Raccoon” #9. Beaulieu doesn’t have to overdo any gradients or add in too many effects, as the cartoony, overthe-top nature of a space raccoon trying to rescue the Earth from a rampaging tree is bizarre enough to hold its own with bright, honest coloring. While some characters don’t set out to be heroes but become heroes nonetheless, Groot’s quest to be a hero puts Rocket on a path to forge his own heroic legacy. Along the way, Young, Parker, Beaulieu and Eckleberry have fun celebrating every wacky thing about comics in one of the most consistently irreverent books on the racks today. It’s not an all-ages title, but “Rocket Raccoon” #9 is certain to remind readers of the joy comic books can deliver at any age. BD Nostalgia 17


Marvel Reviews

Secret Wars (2015)

Prepare for the Biggest Marvel Event Ever with the Secret Wars Prelude Universes are colliding. The Marvel Universe as you know it is about to be destroyed. SECRET WARS #1 is just around the corner. But the path to 2015’s event to end all events can be found in the SECRET WARS PRELUDE TPB! Hitting stores the same day as SECRET WARS #1, this epic collection is the perfect chance to get caught up in time! Relive important stories and signposts on the road to SECRET WARS #1, an event 30 years in the making! What does the senses-shattering conclusion to the original 1984 Secret Wars have to do with the Secret Wars of today? What secrets lie in the Illuminati’s discovery of the Incursions? What threats lie in a universe created by Doctor Doom? The Ultimates face a foe more powerful than the gods – and Reed Richards is its leader! But why? And what does Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man have to do with it all? It’s 18 BD Nostalgia

all been leading to this! “These primer TPBs have become hugely successful over the years for both retailers and readers,” says Marvel SVP Sales & Marketing David Gabriel. “A single volume of stories, these collections are the perfect way to catch up, see the building blocks of the event, and be ready to jump head first directly into the first issue! Carefully handpicked tales from Marvel’s SVP Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, this volume is chock full of the titanic tales you need to read, or reread, before the release of SECRET WARS #1!” Collecting NEW AVENGERS (2013) #1-3, SECRET WARS (1984) #10-12, FANTASTIC FOUR #611, ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN (2011) #1 and ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #4, relive again or for the very first time these important stories leading up to SECRET WARS #1!


The Many Milestones of Deadpool: A Preemptive Eulogy Inevitable and shrouded with uncertainty, death creeps up on everyone. We’re not trying to be morbid here; it’s just that most folks haven’t the foggiest inclination about when their proverbial ticket gets punched. Deadpool defies this logic. As someone stricken with cancer, he broke bad

with a serious vengeance after the Weapon X treatments went south. As we begin the countdown towards Wade Wilson’s last hit in DEADPOOL #250 on April 8, let’s look back at what made this mouthy merc such a big deal. BD Nostalgia

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DC Comics Reviews ‘Batman: Arkham Knight’ Digital First Prequel Comic Arrives

Calling all gamers and Dark Knight fans! Today, DC Entertainment launched BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT, a new weekly Digital First comic book. This series is a prelude to the highly anticipated video game of the same name from Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Set prior to the events of the video game Batman: Arkham Knight, this in-continuity comic is a must-read for fans of the franchise! BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT will feature Gotham City’s most notorious villains including Penguin, Two-Face, and Harley Quinn. The story will also explore and provide additional details about the Arkham Knight, the all-new character created for the upcoming game. “It’s Batman! I mean really, it’s frickin’ Batman! The artwork in this book is amazing. Vik’s pencils are pushing me artistically in new directions, which is so much fun,” stated Art Thibert. HARLEY QUINN & STARFIRE Team Talk Smothering Continuity and New ‘Sexy but not Porn-y’ Costumes

What do Harley Quinn and Starfire have in common (beside the obvious)? They’ve both got Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti in their corner. In her new ongoing series – written by the husband and wife team and drawn by Emanuela Lupacchino – Starfire will be sporting a more concealing but attention-worthy new costume that will keep the sex appeal without being “porn-y” as Conner explains. She’ll also be rocking a new home base. And in June, Harley Quinn, also written by Conner and Palmiotti and drawn by Chad Hardin, will continue Harley’s adventures with the recently introduced gang of copycat Harleys. 20 BD Nostalgia


Aquaman and the Others 11 by Doug Zawisza

While Dean Winters is nowhere to be found, the villainous team of Mayhem is very much present in “Aquaman and the Others” #11, written by Dan Jurgens and drawn by Lan Medina. Comprised

of terrorists from across the history of DC Comics, Mayhem includes NKVDemon and KGBeast (both from the Batman mythos) and Cheshire, with a couple other characters thrown in to balance the odds. Jurgens provides narration for the adventure through the thoughts and words of Vostok, one of the Others and a one-time ally of Aquaman. Set on a deserted island, the story allows Jurgens to focus on the combatants only, offering readers battle match-ups between the members of Aquaman’s entourage

and Mayhem’s roster. The story breaks down into measured beats, but Jurgens keeps it from becoming predictable. Beyond Vostok, there isn’t a great deal of character development, as Jurgens chooses to wrap up the loose ends and drive the story through the plot. Through the simplified setting, artist Lan Medina is able to pick and choose how much depth and detail he wants to commit to the battle. More often than not, that leads to a simple pattern of stone, rock or rubble under the combatants’ feet and color backgrounds provided by Matt Milla. The colorist adds some depth and shading, giving Medina’s characters more dimension and securing them to the page. Medina’s work is solid throughout but has areas of unevenness, where the drawings are excellent but the characters simply float through space. Towards the end of the issue, inker Allen Martinez’s spot blacks start fading off, and the colors from Milla flatten out a bit. Some of it can be attributed to the setting, but a sunlit ship deck really shouldn’t be all that different in lighting than a sunlit island. The end result is art that is decent throughout but shifty. As “Convergence” nears, stories and characters are sidelined while their series are put on hold or, in the case of “Aquaman and the Others,” drawn to a close. Jurgens and Medina, however, treat “Aquaman and the Others” #11 more like a series finale than a season finale with the characters all but waving goodbye to the readership on the final page of the issue. This has been a fun, ancillary title for the King of the Seven Seas, but the lack of depth for the characters -- as showcased here -- is indicative of where this series could have used a bit more investment. If the Others come back, now that they’ve been established in the DC Universe, they’ll hopefully be more than “Aquaman’s other cast.” BD Nostalgia

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DC Comics Reviews

Grayson 8 by Matt Little “Grayson” #8 answers the long gestating question of who has been leaking information from within Spyral, and that information has far reaching consequences for much of the superhero community in the DC Universe. Tom King, working 22 BD Nostalgia

off of a plot with Tim Seeley, balances the reveals against high action sequences that remind everyone that the lead of this book was once Batman for a reason. The book’s pace rocks back and forth between tense, tight paneled pages that unravel the attack on Helena and full page blasts of open action when Dick takes matters into


his own hands. Mikel Janin uses tight shots during the meeting scenes, focusing on important objects and movements that drive home the drama of the moment. Janin contrasts the spirals in the betrayer’s face with chaotic chevron patterns that slowly creep towards Helena as the danger expands into her sphere. Her involvement is not all damsel in distress, though, as King gives her the most hardcore moment of the issue when she pulls an arrow out of her own chest. It’s a testament to who she is: headstrong and independent, even with willing help surrounding her. Once Dick takes action, Janin opens up the page layouts and panel designs, cracking and bending them in various directions like a jazz quartet tearing up the stage. His designs are gorgeous and his sense of composition is top notch. As Agents 1 and 8 take on Paragon, the action spills into large double page spreads that convey the speed and strength of the battle. Dick, an acrobat, needs a lot of room to move and Janin understands this. King gives Dick some Bruce Wayne-level awesomeness as he takes on the android with strength comparable to the Justice League, explaining how to take down all of them and then showing off how it’s done. Though he may have a bit of second fiddle reputation in the New 52, the writing team doesn’t forget that this guy

once held the mantle of the Bat and that’s a job precious few could ever possibly do well. The script still finds room for well-executed cheeky humor in both the page turns and the interactions between the characters. This is a swashbuckling spy comic and it lives up to that reputation. As the final issue before the publishing line pauses for several months during “Convergence,” Seeley and King show their hand ever so slightly in the cliffhanger. It’s a great tease and fans of the book will want June -- and the next issue -- to come very quickly. “Grayson” #8 is another great issue of a great series. Dick Grayson, one of the oldest characters in the DC Universe, is deserving of a top-tier, high quality title. When it was announced that he would be losing the Nightwing identity, fans were outraged. However, if this run continues apace when it returns, fans may wonder why they ever wanted to see him back in a domino mask at all. DC is slowly starting to find unique identities for each of their comic book properties after a few years of standard storytelling. If anyone has not had a chance to check out this book, it’s a good time to catch up now before the second act kicks into gear.

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DC Comics Reviews

Harley Quinn 15 one of the reasons why I appreciate “Harley Quinn” #15; even when I’m a few isEvery issue is someone’s first, but it can sues behind, Amanda Conner, Jimmy also be their last if they pick up a comic Palmiotti, Chad Hardin and John Timms and have no idea what’s going on. That’s make sure that new readers as well as by Greg McElhatton

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seasoned fans find Harley’s latest adventures entertaining.

ter whose proportions are truly inflated is Mason, and it’s a pleasant change to have it be the male supporting character who’s all Conner and Palmiotti dive quickly into the beefcake. first big event of the issue, with Harley helping people escape a burning building while His version of Harley follows the current fighting a suitably ridiculous bad guy named character design that he was handed, but I Tinderbox. What’s nice is that this sequence appreciate that she comes across slightly is more than enough to satisfy new readers; more grounded here; sure, it’s a red-andit has some action, it shows Harley’s slight- black jester-patterned outfit, but here it’s ly unorthodox personality and methods and much more along the lines of pants, jacket it gives an idea of the overall tone of the and bustier rather than a costume. title. At the same time, those who have read for a while will see references to ongoing Alex Sinclair contributes along those lines, plots as they move forward, like Harley too, with the coloring around her eyes comtrying to make amends after standing up a ing across more like eye shadow than face potential date. It’s a careful balance; there’s paint. Hardin’s also good at the physical not so much backstory crammed into each comedy aspect of the book; watching Harley issue that new readers are scared off, but hurl people out of a burning building could there are still storylines that stretch beyond look grim, but there’s such a good-natured each issue so that there’s an incentive for look to the sequence that you can’t help but readers to want to pick up the next issue. chuckle. What’s also nice is that, when older storylines and characters do appear, Conner and Palmiotti handle them in a way that’s easy to understand for those new readers. For example, when I went back and read the last few “Harley Quinn” issues after finishing #15, I had no problem following what happened when Mason appeared.

Timms tackles pages involving a character whose life is no doubt about to intersect with that of Harley’s, and his style matches Hardin’s well; it’s another clean, expressive look, and I appreciate that -- if someone needs to pitch in for four pages -- it’s done so in a way that doesn’t shift the art (even slightly) mid-scene.

Add in Harley’s manic, impulsive nature with a mixture of insanity and a desire to “fix” everything and you end up with a fun book that’s easy to come back to month after month. In many ways, that’s why it’s easy to fall behind -- because you know that it’ll be waiting for you with a series of strong comics when you catch back up, for Conner, Palmiotti and HarHardin draws the majority of the issue, and din are remarkably consistent. “Harley he’s as good as always. His characters are Quinn” #15 continues in that vein, and cleanly drawn, and I like that he’s able to it’s a pleasure to see a well-crafted book make Harley slightly curvy without being succeeding in today’s marketplace. ridiculously voluptuous. The only characEven if someone is new to the character of Harley, it’s easy to figure out her relationship with Poison Ivy; Conner and Palmiotti write it with that mixture of friendship and love so perfectly that you can feel the emotional tension just swelling off of the page, even as they tease the boundaries of just where Harley and Ivy’s relationship stops.

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Dark Horse News Angel & Faith Season 10 - 12 by Greg McElhatton Considering that the two title characters were only reunited at the end of the previous issue, “Angel & Faith Season 10” has been a series that has succeeded in spite of the odds stacked against it. Victor Gischler, Will Conrad and Michelle Madsen continue to make it a fun series to read, and it’s nice to see the comic in good hands. Even though the issue flags a tiny bit in the face of a huge exposition

dump, there’s still more than enough here to make this a good purchase. While the reemergence of Fred -- who is struggling to stay free of Illyria -- is a big moment, “Angel & Faith Season 10” #12 veers away just a bit from that to finally explain the back story of supporting cast demon Eldre Koh. It connects with Fred/Illyria, so its emergence at this point in time makes sense. At the same time, though, Koh’s probably been the least interesting aspect of “Angel & Faith Season 10” so far and having a huge spotlight on the character hasn’t made him feel any more exciting. That said, Gischler handles what’s a somewhat necessary unloading of information as 26 BD Nostalgia

best he can, concentrating it all in one spot before moving on to the main story at hand. The downside is that it results in a lot more concentration on Koh than Fred and, considering what a compelling character Fred (and even Illyria) was in the past, it definitely reduces the overall excitement by just a bit. On the plus side, I like that Faith’s own storylines aren’t on hold, and we’re learning a bit more about her employer amidst the Koh and Fred pages. Gischler also gives us a good reminder here that Illyria is a dangerous being, one that may have been on Angel’s side in the past but, on some level, should not be trusted quite as much as one would otherwise assume. Koh’s flashback isn’t that compelling, but Illyria’s flashback is full of menace. Conrad and Madsen’s art looks good here. One of the best things about the entire issue is that strange lizard-bird creature that Koh is riding in his flashback. The strange purple and blue feathers and fur just pop off of the page thanks to Conrad and Madsen, and it looks wonderfully alien while still having just a tiny connection to reality for readers to latch onto. In general, there’s a lot to like from Conrad’s work on the series, with fine ink lines to help detail every little dreadlock or tattoo, and backgrounds let us see even the grain on the wood floorboards. Add in some solid page construction -- characters are posed well and the panel-to-panel progression is easy to follow -- and it’s a good looking book. Even with everything slowing down a bit this month, “Angel & Faith Season 10” #12 is still a good comic. Now that the necessary exposition is over, I’m looking forward to the series hitting the ground running again next month to boot. All in all, this is a comic which could have easily crashed and burned with a new creative team but has instead been a pleasure to read month after month.


Past Aways 1 by Doug Zawisza

On the first page, Matt Kindt and Scott Kolins deliver the context for their story in “Past Aways” #1 with a text block. However, none of that seems to matter once the story gets rolling with a deadly dragon-chicken beast threatening tourists and locals in Athens, Greece. Kolins really sells the beast on the first page, which is sharply punctuated by a growling shriek that Rob Leigh hand-letters into the scene. Leigh clearly adds all of the sound effects to bring out more character and zest alongside Kolins’ heavily-detailed drawings. Art is the first deep-time explorer featured in “Past Aways” #1. Kindt and Kolins don’t really give readers enough of a sense of why

Art -- who is introduced to readers while he’s camped out on the toilet -- should be interesting or affable, aside from the fact that he poops just like us and is embarking on a “Blues Brothers”-esque mission to get the band back together. That doesn’t go so well with the first one he reaches out to. As a matter of fact, it results in a fight that isn’t very fluid nor at all assisted by the very similar uniforms the duo is wearing. Beyond that, Kindt’s characters all exhibit a modicum of personality. When matched with their tags on the cover, it’s enough to wade forward, but nowhere near enough to elicit empathy or interest. On the cover, Ursula is dubbed the “soul and conscience of the team… secretly wishes she were dead,” except there is no secret about it whatsoever. BD Nostalgia 27


IDW Reviews

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Jem and the Holograms 1 move the story forward. This is Jerrica’s tale. Thompson and Campbell push her out of her Kelly Thompson and Ross Campbell’s comfort zone and craft an origin that is com“Jem & the Holograms” #1 is poised to ic booky and fun, approachable for readers of launch Jem back into the collective pop every genre and fully formed to leap off the culture consciousness of a whole new gen- page. The characters themselves aren’t pereration. The first installment of a storyline fect little dolls or neatly trimmed cardboard titled “Showtime” introduces readers to cutouts. Rather, they are people we all know, Jerrica Benton and her bandmates: Aja eager to find that one chance that is going to Leith, Shana Elmsford and Jerrica’s sister transform their passion into a completely realized dream, if only everything would just Kimber. By Doug Zawisza

Thompson and Campbell don’t simply drop the ladies into a story and set them on their way, choosing instead to walk readers through the secret origin of “Jem.” As the Holograms, the band is fronted by Jerrica, who has problems with stage fright. She is a dynamic songwriter and singer but, once the cameras start recording, she freezes. That leads to the conflicts of the issue, which are run-of-themill band issues and sibling-level bickering. As the father of three teens, I can confidently say Thompson hits the nail on the head, as it’s not hard to imagine Aja and Kimber shouting so loudly over each other that both points are lost. That minor wobble in a visibly strong relationship doesn’t halt this comic in its tracks, nor is it enough to completely

hold together long enough. “Jem & the Holograms” #1 is a strong, sassy start for a series which is geared for a teen-and-up crowd. Readers drawn in by the nostalgia are sure to be hooked right away, while new readers will find themselves taken by the believably real characters walking through the panels of this book. The fact that “Jem & the Holograms” #1 is gorgeous certainly helps. The nostalgia factor gets ratcheted up a level by the profile pages included at the back of the issue and the fact that this comic book actually has page numbers. Thompson, Campbell, Robado and Robbins give readers a solid comic book story and leave them with a dynamic holding spot until next issue, where the action should really start. BD Nostalgia 29


IDW Reviews

Ragnarok 4 by Jim Johnson, Reviewer | When Walter Simonson last got his hands on the Norse God of Thunder, he took his powers away and gave them to a horse-faced alien, eventually restoring them just before turning him into a frog. In “Ragnarök” #4, Simonson has his way with a different in30 BD Nostalgia

carnation of the character, having awakened a zombie-like creature who carries a hammer named Mjolnir but doesn’t call himself Thor. It’s actually a post-Ragnarök world, where the dead roam the realms and the newly awakened, so-called Stone God struggles to recollect his days as one of the living gods. It’s also pure, unadulterated Simonson with plenty of fists, thunder and


mythological creatures to remind readers just how larger than life his concepts can seem. Simonson’s dynamic, off-the-page layouts are evident as early the cover, and it’s a shame that most readers won’t get to appreciate both variants. The standard cover shows an imposing, hammer-wielding not-Thor ready to strike against a no less imposing armored troll, while the colorful subscription variant features an exquisitely

is nigh-perfect for rendering a grisly army of the undead; the pale and drably dressed warriors don’t require much from Martin color-wise, but she cuts loose at the same time as Simonson’s other characters with sizzling blues from Mjolnir and crimson red from an uncovered fire demon, and her dark elves take on characteristic dark blue complexions. The dark elves have long been cast as villains in the superhero incarnation of Thor,

detailed, demonic Norse ship bearing down on the reader’s point of view. The opening splash page is almost a continuation of the scene from the standard cover, where a white-haired, skeletal-faced Stone God delivers a stinging blow to an unfortunate troll. These are the kind of images that have the capacity to say hello to readers and grab them, even for newer audiences who have missed out on the previous issues. Even when the fighting stops and the panel sizes shrink, there is still energy crackling off Simonson and colorist Laura Martin’s pages. Simonson’s gods, demons and trolls all look like they could either be fresh from the set of “Lord of the Rings,” onstage at a GWAR show or both without the big-budget seriousness of the former or the over-thetop grotesqueries of the latter. The rough, almost unfinished look of Simonson’s art

but Simonson takes a different approach here. In fact, earlier issues made one of them the apparent protagonist of the comic, which is no longer the case due to the events of last issue. The dark elf’s family, though, remains present, as Simonson sets up these characters for a presumable future role. Although the elves are the husband and daughter of an assassin, Simonson plays up the family connection as they search for their fallen wife/mother, evoking an element of sympathy, just as the Stone God’s undead nature conversely gives him more of a sinister air than fans of Thor might be used to. “Ragnarök” #4 reads like the kind of comic Simonson was born to create; it’s an excellent example of how Simonson, one of comics’ most notable and longest-tenured creators, has still got it going on. BD Nostalgia

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The Joker

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How does one determine a past, that Bill Finger, came in the 168th issue of remains elusive even to himself? - A Detective Comics. In the issue, Batman is look at the Origins Of! The Joker invited to teach a criminology course at a nearby university where he tells the class Just The Facts of a case he was involved in over ten years The Joker first appeared in Batman #1 ago in which went unsolved. The criminal, and has been undoubtedly his greatest whom had been coined the Red Hood, had nemesis ever since. His real name has yet gone on a crime spree, which had ended as to be divulged and his own knowledge of abruptly as it had started. The students, eahis past is fragmented and often imagined. ger to impress Batman of course, decided The most common, and widely accepted they would reopen the case and investigate origin story amongst fans is that which is themselves. When word of this reached told in Alan Moore’s ‘The Killing Joke’. the now retired Red Hood’s ears, he suddenly reappears with yet another hard on Detective Comics #168 (1951) for Batman. This time however, Batman The Red Hood and his students are able to determine the The Joker’s first origin story, written by identity of the Red Hood because of some cunningly placed strands of green hair which where left at a crime scene. It is of course revealed that before The Joker was The Joker, he was in fact the Red Hood. Once the Joker is recaptured, he tells Batman of how, after their confrontation at the Monarch Playing Card Company, he had jumped into a vat of chemicals to evade capture, which, while doing exactly that, turned his hair green, his lips red and his skin white. It was because of this, that the Joker decided to end his reign as the Red Hood and become the Joker. A name chosen from the playing card he now resembled.

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The Joker Reveals All in Detective Comics 168# The Killing Joke (1988) A Failed Comedian The Killing Joke, written by famous comic book writer Alan Moore, contains the origin which to this day is the most widely accpeted for The Joker. The Killing Joke tells of The Joker quiting his job as a lab assistant to try his luck at being a comedian. He predominately fails at being a comedian and soon becomes unable to support his wife and so turns to the mob for help. They enlist his help in order to rob the company where he used to be an assistant. He, like in the previous origins story becomes the Red Hood, but only for a night; in order to save his family. However, before he can go through with it the police come to tell him his wife and unborn child have been killed in an electrical shortage. The mob, being the mob of course, don’t care to much for personal feelings and more about the money and so make him go through with the robbery anyway. The robbery is a complete failure and like last time, his fate is decided in a chemical vat that this time he 36 BD Nostalgia

fell into. However, unlike its predessecor, The Killing Joke explores the psychological motivations behind becoming The Joker,


and blame both his disfigurement and the loss of his wife for why he went insane. “Mister, life is swell in a padded cell, It’ll chase those blues away... You can trade your gloom for a rubber room, and injections twice a day!” - Taken from the Killing Joke

he was doomed to fail and once again he is thwarted by Batman, but not before he can murder his cousin Melvin in order to remove any witnesses. This doesn’t stop Batman however as he easily recognises him as the Red Hood and arrests him.

Issue 50# of Legends of The Dark Knight, written by Dennis O’Neil and based upon Batman 1#, revolves around The Joker before he becomes The Joker. His family life is explored, along with that of his cousin Melvins who is shown to be a very childlike character who posseses an overly scientific mind. A trait, that the Joker abuses in order to invent a venom for his blackmail scheme. Of course, being the Joker

Batman Black and White Volume 2 (2002) - Not So Insane Batman Black and White: Volume Two, contains the story ‘Case Study’ which was penned by Paul Dinni and penciled by Alex Ross and involves yet another take on The Joker’s origins. This time however, they stray away from the insane path previous origins took and instead look at it like this; The Joker was in fact a cold and calcu-

- The red hood appears to be the common Legends Of The Dark Knight denominator amongst the origins #50 (1993) - Cousin Melvin

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lating criminal who worked his way up his position at the top of the mob did not the mobster chain until he was the lead- allow, and so under the false guise of the er. However, he still seeked thrills that Red Hood, he began commiting small time crimes. Again, like every other origin, an accident that involves Batman winds up being the reason he takes a head first dive into a chemical vat and ends up looking like a misguided abstract painting. Nevertheless, this is where the story veers from its counterparts as instead of being insane, The Joker pretends to be. The entire time in fact he is seen to be a sadistic, calculating human being who “hides behind a mask of madness to carry out a very calculated campaign of revenge.� While in Arkham, he plants documents that were compiled by Harley Quiin (his psychotic lover) so that doctors, who were already questioning the validity of his insanity, would have the required proof. However, in a turn of events that could only be seen by the mastermind behind such a scheme, the documents become redundant as the fact that they were compiled by Quiin whose past relationship with The Joker was known, meant they were inadmissable in court. The doctors believed it to be 38 BD Nostalgia


a ploy for him to again, “yank the rug out he committed. That is, until he meets the batman who just happens to fuck up one from under them.” of his robberies. Batman Confidential #7-#12 After the encounter, Jack becomes infat“Lovers & Madmen” (2007) In Michael Green’s contribution to the uated with Batman and decides to declare Joker’s past, The Joker, whose name is re- a little prank war, which inevitabely gets vealed to be Jack, is a depressed and suicid- out of hand until finally, Batman sick of his shit, hands over the now wanted Jack to the Mob, so he can get his just desserts. The mob then go with the, by now completely *original* idea of torturing Jack in a chemcial vat. Batman ,having regretted his actions, comes to the rescue of Jack but is all to late, and instead witnesses the brth of what would be his greatest nemesis, The Joker! More From The Batman Universe While these are some of the main origin stories floating around today, there are al career criminal who his underwhelmed others which either build upon the aforewith the lackluster robberies and murders mentioned, or again put an entirely new BD Nostalgia 39


twist on it.

gang member who challenges his ideal that killing is fun. As can be seen, this origin again took on the fact that he was insane.

Gotham Knight #50 Batman Gotham Knights serves to reinforce the origin story told in The Killing Joke, with the twist that instead of an elec- And finally, its not all about the comic trical shortage, the mob was in fact respon- books, as can be seen in; sible for kidnapping The Jokers wife and murdering both her and their unborn child. On A Beautiful And that was to make him do what they Summers Day, He Was Which is a story written by Robert Mcwanted? Cammon, which featured in the anthology ‘The Further Adventures of The Joker’. The Brave and the Bold #31 The Brave and the bold #31 written by This story concerns The Joker as a young J Michael Stracyznski however, tells of a boy who is said to be born a monster, different story. In this origin, Atom assists and not made on through experience. In on an operation on the Joker’s brain where the story he enjoys killing little animals he literally see The Joker’s childhood and and collecting their bones and also states young adult hood. He watches on as; the that his father is insane, to the point that a joker beats a child to the point where he young joker listens on as he beats his wife needs stitches, he locks his parents in the through the thin wall, a giant smrik on his house and then sets it on fire after he hears face (probably masturbating). Not only them discussing how they had found his does he masturbate over his dad beating little pet cemetary, after he leaves home he his mom and a little animal murder, but joins a group of robbers and kills a sho- he pulls an Elzar and Bam! Knocks it up powner for the fun of it and then kills a a notch by murdering a neighbourhood 40 BD Nostalgia


kid who again, like his parents in the story But it doesn’t end there - Here is my own above, finds the pet cemetary! take on the origin of The Joker! The Joker, pre transformation and still operating under the alias of the Red Hood; goes to a day spa where the unaware Bruce Wayne was softly soaking in the suds, and joins in the fun. The two strike up a conversation, most likely discussing the different functions of the utility belt Wayne was creating, and one thing leads to another, and together they decide to start up a clown college. Funded by Wayne enterprises, Jack starts going around to tween birthday parties in his clown attire, literally scaring the shit out of Gotham cities youth (whilst also robbing the place Ray Charles), until one day, in the ballsiest birthday prank ever, one of the children decides to through a vat of chemicals that was presumably just laying around the house, into Jacks face. After murdering every party guest and the dog, the man who was once Jack, become the legend that is The Joker.

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comic books this wee ComicList: New Comic Book Releases List for Wednesday, March 11, 2015. This work, a list of the comic books, graphic novels, and other products that should be available in your local or online comic book shop this week, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License, and is © 1995-2015 Charles S. LePage. Information provided by our friends at Things From Another World. Visit GoCollect and use their next-generation, near real-time comic book price guide. To find a local comic book shop, please browse The Master List of Comic Book & Trading Card Stores. Check out the Comiclist Community Page, the Comics Price Guide Forum, Facebook and Twitter for discussions about your favorite comics. PLEASE NOTE- Not all of these titles will arrive in all stores. Let me know if any of the names or numbers are wrong. Items with release dates not been verified by Diamond Distribution are individually noted. Scroll down for «mature» items on page 2. PUBLISHER TITLE, ISSUE NUMBER, PRICE IN U.S. DOLLARS («AR» means «ask your retailer for the price») 3D TOTAL PUBLISHING Beginner’s Guide To Digital Painting In Photoshop Characters SC, $49.99 ABSTRACT STUDIOS Rachel Rising #32, $3.99 AC COMICS Femforce #170, $9.95 ACTION LAB ENTERTAINMENT Gronk A Monster’s Story Volume 1 GN, $9.99 AFTERBURN Stormquest Volume 1 Timestorm GN, $19.99 AMP! COMICS FOR KIDS G-Man Super Journal Awesome Origins HC, $13.99 Stinky Cecil In Operation Pond Rescue SC, $9.99 ANDREWS MCMEEL Big Nate’s Greatest Hits TP, $12.99 Exploring Calvin And Hobbes SC, $19.99 ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS Archie #665 (Dan Parent Regular Cover), $3.99 58 BD Nostalgia


week Archie #665 (Sanford Greene Variant Cover), $3.99 Archie Comics Digest #259, $4.99 Archie Giant Comics Party TP, $7.99 Sonic Boom #5 (Diana Skelly X-Ray Variant Cover), $3.99 Sonic Boom #5 (Patrick Spaziante Regular Cover), $3.99 Sonic Super-Sized Digest #11, $6.99 Sonic The Hedgehog #270 (Brenty McCarthy Marvel At The Showdown Variant Cover), $3.99 Sonic The Hedgehog #270 (Jennifer Hernandez Regular Cover), $3.99 ASPEN COMICS Lola XOXO #6 (Cover A Siya Oum), $3.99 Lola XOXO #6 (Cover B Paola Pantalena), $3.99 Lola XOXO #6 (Cover C Siya Oum), AR AVATAR PRESS God Is Dead Volume 4 TP, $19.99 War Stories #6 (Matt Martin Battle Damage Incentive Cover), AR War Stories #6 (Matt Martin Good Girl Nose Art Cover), $3.99 War Stories #6 (Tomas Aria Regular Cover), $3.99 War Stories #6 (Tomas Aria Wraparound Cover), $3.99 BINARY PUBLICATION Artist And Models The Glamour Art Of Kent Steine SC, $34.99 BLACK LIBRARY Warhammer 40K Defenders Of Mankind SC, $17.50 Warhammer 40K Vengeful Spirit MMPB, $9.99 Warhammer Deathblade A Tale Of Malus Darkblade HC, $28.00 Warhammer The Fall Of Altdorf TP, $16.00 Warhammer The Return Of Nagash TP, $16.00 BLACK WATCH COMICS Credence Volume 1 GN, $19.99 BLUE LINE ART Sketch Magazine #44, $6.95 BOOK PALACE Illustrators Magazine #9, $24.99 BOOM! STUDIOS Adventure Time Marceline Gone Adrift #1 (Of 6)(Carey Pietsch 2nd Printing Variant Cover), $3.99 Adventure Time Marceline Gone Adrift #3 (Of 6)(Cover A Reimena Yee), $3.99 Adventure Time Marceline Gone Adrift #3 (Of 6)(Cover B Molly Ostertag), $3.99 BD Nostalgia 59


comic books this wee Adventure Time Marceline Gone Adrift #3 (Of 6)(Cover C Leela Wagner), AR Big Trouble In Little China #9 (Cover A Eric Powell), $3.99 Big Trouble In Little China #9 (Cover B Brian Churilla), AR Bill And Ted’s Most Triumphant Return #1 (Of 6)(Cover A Felipe Smith), $3.99 Bill And Ted’s Most Triumphant Return #1 (Of 6)(Cover B Trevor Hairsine), AR Bill And Ted’s Most Triumphant Return #1 (Of 6)(Cover C Goni Montes), AR Bill And Ted’s Most Triumphant Return #1 (Of 6)(Cover D Rob Guillory), AR Bravest Warriors #30 (Cover A Ian McGinty), $3.99 Bravest Warriors #30 (Cover B Rachel Wolfe), $3.99 Cluster #1 (Damian Couceiro 2nd Printing Variant Cover), $3.99 Dead Letters #8 (Cover A Chris Visions), $3.99 Escape From New York #4 (Cover A Declan Shalvey), $3.99 Escape From New York #4 (Cover B Riley Rossmo), $3.99 Escape From New York #4 (Cover C John McCrea), AR Help Us Great Warrior #2 (Of 8)(Cover A Ariel Ries), $3.99 Hexed #8 (Cover A Dan Mora), $3.99 Mouse Guard Legends Of Guard Volume 3 #1 (Of 4)(Cover A David Peterson), $3.99 Mouse Guard Legends Of Guard Volume 3 #1 (Of 4)(Cover B Ramon K. Perez), AR Mouse Guard Legends Of Guard Volume 3 #1 (Of 4)(Cover C Humberto Ramos), AR Mouse Guard Legends Of Guard Volume 3 #1 (Of 4)(Cover D Eric Muller), AR Teen Dog #7 (Cover A Jake Lawrence), $3.99 CARTOON BOOKS Bone Color Edition Volume 1 Out From Boneville HC (Tribute Edition), $14.99 Tuki Save The Humans #3 (not verified by Diamond), $3.99 CINEBOOK Lucky Luke Volume 50 Seven Stories TP, $11.95 Melusine Volume 4 Love Potions GN, $11.95 COMIC SHOP NEWS Comic Shop News #1447, AR DANGER ZONE Zombie Tramp Volume 1 TP, $14.99 DARK HORSE COMICS Abe Sapien #21, $3.50 Itty Bitty Comics Grimmiss Island #1 (Of 4), $2.99 X #23, $2.99 DC COMICS Action Comics #40 (Aaron Kuder Regular Cover), $3.99 Action Comics #40 (Jae Lee Variant Cover), AR 60 BD Nostalgia


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week HIGH SPEED PRODUCTIONS Juxtapoz #171 (April 2015), $6.99 HUMANOIDS PUBLISHING Final Incal HC, $34.95 Metabarons Genesis Castaka HC, $29.95 Millennium HC, $39.95 IDW PUBLISHING Godzilla Cataclysm TP, $19.99 Ragnarok #4 (Cover A Walter Simonson), $3.99 Ragnarok #4 (Cover SUB Walter Simonson), $3.99 Star Trek #43 (Cover A Joe Corroney), $3.99 Star Trek #43 (Cover SUB Photo), $3.99 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Annual 2012 Deluxe Edition HC, $125.00 IMAGE COMICS Casanova Acedia #2, $3.99 Copperhead Volume 1 A New Sheriff In Town TP, $9.99 East Of West #18, $3.50 Ghosted #18, $2.99 Humans Volume 1 Humans For Life TP, $9.99 Oddly Normal Volume 1 TP, $9.99 Postal #2 (Cover A Linda Sejic), $3.99 Postal #2 (Cover B Isaac Goodhart), $3.99 Sheltered #15 (Cover A John Christmas), $2.99 Sheltered #15 (Cover B Phantom Variant), AR Shutter #10, $3.50 Sidekick #10, $2.99 Sinergy #5 (Cover A Michael Avon Oeming), $3.50 Sinergy #5 (Cover B Skottie Young), $3.50 Southern Cross #1 (Cover A Becky Cloonan), $2.99 Southern Cross #1 (Cover C Tula Lotay Ghost Variant), AR Spawn Resurrection #1 (Cover A Jonboy), $2.99 Spawn Resurrection #1 (Cover B Todd McFarlane), $2.99 Spawn Resurrection #1 (Cover C Todd McFarlane), $2.99 Surface #1 (Cover A Langdon Foss & Jordie Bellaire), $3.50 Surface #1 (Cover B Michael Walsh & Jordie Bellaire), $3.50 Surface #1 (Cover C Marco Rudy), $3.50 Walking Dead #138, $2.99 LEGENDARY COMICS Harvester #2, $3.99 BD Nostalgia 63


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comic books this wee Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files Volume 24 TP, $32.99 Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files Volume 9 TP, $19.99 RED ANVIL Unit 5 #1 (not verified by Diamond), $3.99 SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT Girls Und Panzer Little Army Volume 2 GN, $12.99 SOARING PENGUIN Meanwhile #1, $7.95 STERLING PUBLISHING Ultimate Binge-Watching Guide 100 Of The Best Shows Reviewed And Rated SC, $9.95 TINTO PRESS Short And Merciless Stories GN, $12.99 TITAN Star Wars Insider #156 (Newsstand Edition), $7.99 Star Wars Insider #156 (Previews Exclusive Edition), $7.99 TITAN BOOKS Modesty Blaise Volume 25 The Killing Distance TP, $19.95 Resident Evil 6 Graphical Guide SC, $19.99 TITAN COMICS Monster High Magazine #12, $4.99 Penguins Of Madagascar #4 (Of 4), $3.99 TOONHOUND STUDIOS Bite Me A Vampire Farce GN, $20.00 Danse Macabre 2.0 HC, $15.00 Family Man GN, $20.00 Outfoxed (One Shot), $10.00 UNITED PLANKTON PICTURES SpongeBob Comics #42, $2.99 UNIVERSITY PRESS OF MISSISSIPPI Peter Bagge Conversations HC (not verified by Diamond), $30.00 VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT Ninjak #1 (Cover A Lewis LaRosa), $3.99 Ninjak #1 (Cover B Clay Mann), $3.99 66 BD Nostalgia


week Ninjak #1 (Cover C Dave Johnson), $3.99 Ninjak #1 (Cover D Marguerite Sauvage), $3.99 Ninjak #1 (Cover E Blank), $3.99 Ninjak #1 (Cover F Trevor Hairsine & Tom Muller), AR Ninjak #1 (Cover G Clay Mann), AR Ninjak #1 (Cover H Lewis LaRosa), AR Unity #16 (Cover A Glenn Fabry), $3.99 Unity #16 (Cover B Juan Jose Ryp), $3.99 Unity #16 (Cover C Antonio Fuso), AR Valiant #1 (Of 4)(Paolo Rivera 3rd Printing Variant Cover), $3.99 Valiant #2 (Of 4)(Paolo Rivera 2nd Printing Variant Cover), $3.99 Valiant Masters Harbinger Volume 1 Children Of The Eighth Day HC, $39.99 X-O Manowar Volume 8 Enter Armorines TP, $14.99 VERTICAL Knights Of Sidonia Volume 13 GN, $12.95 ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT Grimm Fairy Tales #108 (Cover A Sean Chen), $3.99 Grimm Fairy Tales #108 (Cover B Jarreau Wimberly), $3.99 Grimm Fairy Tales #108 (Cover C Meguro), $3.99 Grimm Fairy Tales #108 (Cover D Age Valez), AR Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Grimm Tales Of Terror #9 (Cover A Giuseppe Cafaro), $3.99 Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Grimm Tales Of Terror #9 (Cover B Mike Krome), $3.99 Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Grimm Tales Of Terror #9 (Cover C Eric J), $3.99 Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland #33 (Cover A Emilio Laiso), $3.99 Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland #33 (Cover B Marat Mychaels), $3.99 Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland #33 (Cover C Vinz El Tabanas), $3.99 Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland #33 (Cover D Franchesco), $3.99

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covers of the week

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Anime/Manga - News Fafner EXODUS

2150 A.D. The battle with the Festum, the Most of the Meirs harbored hatred towards silicon life-forms from distant outer space, humanity and challenged a fight; however, had reached a new dimension. The North a portion of the Festum chose coexistence with mankind. There were some humans that embraced the same ideology. They were humans, but they were Festum as well. Their existence plunged the battle into chaos, and created even more hatred. The battle was no longer able to be simply labeled as that of human versus Festum. Amongst the crossfire, the Ryugujima island alone disappeared from the forefront of battle and continued its silence. The island had gained a means to converse with the Meir since their encounter with Misao Kurusu two years ago. That had brought a new possibility to the island. The children of ALVISS had been searching for a way to understand the enemy as they prepared for battle. And now, once again, further evolution was about to befall the isPolar Meir that was crushed during the First land. A girl that understands the language Azure Operation had dispersed its frag- of the Festum, and a girl protected by a Fesments all over the world. They all started tum. When the two meet, the doors to a new activity on their own as independent Meirs. universe opens‌ 70 BD Nostalgia


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Anime/Manga - News

Tiger & Bunny: The Rising With his power-up limited to one minute, Kotetsu continues to languish in League 2, with Barnaby often bailing out him and the others, a point that Kotetsu has regrets about even though Barnaby seems content with it. Their absence is also lamented by the other first-leaguers. Still, things are going better with his daughter (even if she won’t let him hug her) and he even gets to hang out with her during the upcoming Justice Festival, which commemorates a story from Stern Bild City’s founding. Things change when Mark Schneider, a hotshot corporate raider, buys out Appollon in order to save it from bankruptcy and restructures it – and that means eliminating League 2, which is always in the red, and conniving Barnaby into being back in League 1. Only this time Barnaby’s new partner will be Golden Ryan, a gravity-manipulating NEXT whose sensibilities aren’t too much unlike Barnaby’s own when he started. With Kotetsu 72 BD Nostalgia

kicked to the curb, the heroes must confront a new threat without him: a trio of especially powerful NEXT who seem to have their sights set on Hero TV. But who or what is their real target, and why is Lunatic showing up but not stopping them? Review: As the second of the two Tiger & Bunny movies, The Rising picks up in the wake of the first. Despite that, it is essentially a standalone extension of the franchise, one which maintains all of the character advancements and relationships but has little real narrative continuity. That does not keep it from being entertaining – in fact, it is practically a must-have for franchise fans – but it also does not give the sense of a grander story being told, like the TV series did. The plot is relatively straightforward: Kotetsu is forced out, and powerful new hero


Golden Ryan is forced in. New foes show up, several inconclusive battles ensue, and eventually the established heroes are on the ropes. With the encouragement of Kaede, Kotetsu gets back into the mix just in time to play an important role. Who the real ultimate villain is should come as little surprise, as it is a standard super-hero title kind of twist, but that could be said of most of the movies’ developments. Nothing in the themes is much deeper than “treat people like they are disposable and it could come back to bite you” or “when backed into a corner, true heroes stand their ground,” either. Still, the movie throws out plenty enough character interactions and flashy action to compensate for that. The backstory of Stern Build City and Justice Day also comes up, and my, it is more than a little harsh and metaphysical, though it does help explain how the city could become enamored of justice-dealing heroes.

their foibles, whether it is Rock Bison’s recent inefficiency, Dragon Kid’s struggles to master a new power application, Sky High fretting about how he does not come across to people like he intends, Origami’s laments

that he cannot use his power more directly, Throughout this all of the staple characters or Blue Rose continuing to be reluctant to get at least a little time to shine and show off admit her attraction to Wild Tiger. The liBD Nostalgia 73


Anime/Manga - News on’s share of the development this time goes to Fire Emblem, who is forced to reexamine the difficult road he took to becoming comfortable with his homosexuality when he is

less, and quickly picks up on what Barnaby would be reluctant to trust him at some points. That makes him a great addition to the cast, even if he does rub people the

put in a coma by the power of an antagonist NEXT’s. Emblem finally emerging from that through his own strength of will does not have quite the same impact as it would had he been previously shown to be uncomfortable with who he was, but it is still the movie’s most transcendent scene. Barnaby and Wild Tiger, contrarily, are pretty much status quo, though Agnes gets to show off more of her take-charge demeanor and Kaede shines in a few scenes. Other lesser recurring characters have at least brief cameos.

wrong way. Far less impressive are the trio of NEXT antagonists, who have cool powers but are barely developed; they have little for personalities and offer only the briefest of background flashes to establish their true motivations. Mark Schneider, as the amoral, conniving corporate type, offers little more.

Amongst new characters, Golden Ryan is an arrogant ass and a grandstander, but he is effective and he does fully appreciate teamwork with Barnaby. He has little regard for working with the other League 1 heroes, though more from apathy than outright disdain, and has a bombastic demeanor – in other words, almost a diametric opposite to Wild Tiger. He is also not stupid or clue74 BD Nostalgia

The production merits and action scenes are both as sharp as ever, albeit with little evident upgrade over the TV series. The garish, eye-popping design of Stern Bild City is still a wonder to behold, complete with all of its fantastic statuary, multilayered design, and sense of depth. Golden Ryan fits right in on the design front, and the aesthetic of other new characters remains consistent with established designs, too. Quality control lapses in minor ways in a few places, but the CG integration is nearly flawless. Less impressive but still solid is the use of the fully-orchestrated musical score, which does do a nice job in low-key


scenes but is mostly unmemorable. The English dub for the franchise has always been strong, and it shines here. Voice actors for all established roles return and do fine jobs, especially John Bentley as Fire Emblem and Eden Riegel, who makes the most of limited appearances as Kaede. The dub hits a home run, though, with Henry Dittman’s performance as Golden Ryan. (His other major anime role is as Kabuto in the Naruto franchise.) He nails Ryan’s bombastic, aggrandizing style just right to make him come off as a likable ass. Other new roles are good but much less of a stand-out. The Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack comes

Tiger and Bunny confronting personifications of various annoying theater behaviors, while the most informative is the interview segment with producer Kazuhiko Tamura, who (among other comments) praises the English dub, leaves the door open for the possibility of more franchise content if fan response is strong enough, and explains how legendary manga-ka Masakazu Katsura (the character designer for Tiger and Bunny and creator of titles including DNA², Video Girl Ai, and Zetman) got a bit part. (He voices an older man who encourages Kotetsu to keep being a hero towards the end.) Blu-Ray video and audio quality are

courtesy of Viz Media, who includes both disks in the same case with bonus interior artwork of most of the League 1 heroes in street clothes and puts the case in a glossy slipcover. On-disk Extras are extensive, including an art gallery which looks to be composed of concept art, numerous trailers and commercials, clean opener and closer, a TV Series Digest which summarizes the TV series, Weekly Movies (short animated clips featuring Sky High, Golden Ryan, and other cast members), and a clip hosted by Viz’s Charlene Ingram concerning the U.S. premiere of the movie in San Francisco in March 2014. The oddest inclusion is the live-action Theater Manners clip featuring

both very good. The Rising is only 90 minutes in length, with almost a third of that being the climactic final action sequence. Despite its limited time frame, it skillfully finds a way to give all of its recurring cast members meaningful screen time, even make up for shorting Rock Bison and Fire Emblem in the TV series, without detracting from the story progression. (See A Certain Magical Index - The Movie for an example of how to do this poorly.) As a result, it is quite a satisfying movie. Do be sure to watch through the first half of the credits for bonus scenes and keep an eye out for an epilogue after they end. BD Nostalgia 75


Deep into Anime...

Aldnoah.Zero by Theron Martin

1-9

the weaknesses of individual Kataphracts and are able to exploit them. Inaho also has another problem he eventually learns about: Princess Asseylum isn’t actually dead, but is using holographic technology to pass herself off as a refugee, and it seems that some warmongers among her own people may have tried to assassinate her in order to trigger this war. (In fact, unbeknownst to anyone, the daughter of a sleeper agent responsible for that attempt is also amongst the refugees, having lost her father to a double-cross.) Combined with a communications black-out instituted by the Vers and that some Terrans want all Martians dead, that makes revealing the truth about her difficult. But she is willing to take the risk of revealing herself to protect those around her and try to bring an end to what she see as an unjust war.

In 1999, conflict between the Martian Vers Empire, whose power was fueled by exclusive access to alien Aldnoah technology found there, and Earth forces resulted in the partial destruction of the Moon in a Hyper Gate explosion, which devastated the Earth in a calamity which came to be known as Heaven’s Fall. 15 years later, an uneasy truce which has existed ever since is shattered when Princess Asseylum, granddaughter of the Vers Emperor, is apparently assassinated by Earth radicals while on a peace mission to Earth. The united Earth forces soon discover that even their 15 years of preparation for a Vers attack is nowhere near enough to oppose the awesome might of the Aldnoah-empowered Martian Kataphracts (read: mecha) and Landing Castles. In fact, the only forces which have any success against them are a group of stu- Meanwhile, in the Vers camp, Slaine, a dent trainees, tactically directed by the bril- young Terran man who is completely loyliant but unexpressive Inaho, who analyze al to the princess, laments that he failed to 76 BD Nostalgia


dissuade her from going on what he saw as a dangerous mission. When he discovers that she is still alive and that one of the Vers Knights may be behind the attempt on her life, he surreptitiously tries to navigate through the Vers minefield, wary about who is loyal to her and who is a traitor, while trying to locate her. Naturally he and Inaho do not get along when they finally meet even though they do briefly work together, because what is a mecha series involving a princess without two young men coming to blows over her? Because Gen Urobuchi’s name is attached to this anime original series (he created it and scripted the first three episodes), Aldnoah.Zero was one of the most anticipated titles of the Summer 2014 season, and as it turns out, not without reason. Its early episodes showed a deft touch for dramatic flair, one supported by a potent soundtrack, (sometimes heavy-handed) irony and symbolism, and compelling tales of desperate struggle against seemingly-overwhelming forces. It showed scrappy forces winning battles not through over-tech, supreme skill, or asspulls, but by carefully analyzing opponents for weaknesses and exploiting them with existing equipment. Attractive character designs, excellent use of CG in mecha animation, brisk action scenes, a strong opener courtesy of Kalafina, and a great (albeit only occasionally-used) techno-beat closer also contribute to a positive impression which can make this a tremendously fun view. So this should be one of the top series of the season, right?

The problem is that, as the series progresses, flaws emerge in the writing and rise to the level that they can no longer be completely overshadowed by the dramatics of the main story. Holes start to show in the storytelling, ones that can somewhat be explained away but should not have to be. While some parallels to fanaticism in our

world can be drawn (especially in light of the recent onset of the so-called Islamic State), some elements of the timeline behind the formation of the Vers Empire do, at BD Nostalgia 77


Deep into Anime...

the least, strain credulity. Tactical decisions on both sides can, at times, be called into question, at least one character suffers an illogically sudden attitude reversal, and as diligently as the writing tries to disguise it, conformity to very standard mecha storytelling patterns does underlie the story progression so far. The biggest problem, and the one that most threatens to sink the series, is a critical dearth of character development. One of the two leading characters, Inaho, is impassive to the point that one has to wonder if he has a mental defect. To even call him coldly analytical might be giving him too much credit, as through eight episodes he has only given the barest 78 BD Nostalgia

hints of having any kind of personality or reacting much to anything. This might still work if he had someone to regularly bounce off of, but he doesn’t; the princess simply cannot be around enough to fill that role, and Slaine (whom he does seem to clash with very nicely) seems destined to have only brief encounters with him. Various characters on the Earth forces side get some minor bits of development – a Lieutenant who suffers from PTSD tracing back to Heaven’s Fall, a stern female Captain who teases a subordinate about why she cannot get dates, a horny classmate of Inaho’s, the orphan girl who has turned her “assassinate the princess” fervor into “kill all Martians” fervor upon being bloodily betrayed, and the princess who feels that this whole mess may be her fault because she


wanted to visit Earth – but all of it together does not amount to much. The Vers Empire forces fare a little better, with Slaine getting the lion’s share. Granted, this may not be a character-driven piece, but at least a little more (especially from one of the lead protagonists!) could reasonably be expected.

as it discharges. The major concern has to be whether the series has enough momentum to allow it to continue to power its way past its flaws, as it is hardly doing anything daring with its storytelling, but even if it ultimately fails to be a quality series, it is still quite entertaining.

Despite the problems, though, the series continues to rumble merrily along through episode 8, which ends with a major (though not entirely unexpected) dramatic twist. It does eventually have to give up on purely relying on clever tactics and resort to an ass-pull, but it does get as far as the late stages of episode 7 before finally having to resort to such a gimmick, and when its pure tactics do work they can be intensely satisfying moments. The show also continues to have some nice touches, like a scene which shows the deafening nature of being near a mecha’s gun

Episode 8 mixed reflective moments with scenes of one of its main characters being tortured, with an ultimate result of pushing characters into dramatic action at the end. Episode 9 follows a somewhat similar pattern, albeit without the torture element (at least not physical torture, anyway). The result is an episode focused primarily on long-needed character development, which leads in an odd way to the series’ first true fan service scenes, which leads in an odd way to a development much more shocking than that which ended episode 8. Whatever else the series’ faults might be, failing to

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Deep into Anime...

leave viewers eagerly anticipating the next episode is not one of them. On the Vers front, Lord Saazbaum has rescued Slaine and taken the young man back to his Castle. Quite surprisingly, he is not only candid with Slaine about being behind the assassination attempt but also reveals that his effort was as much a genuine rescue as it was potentially getting a troublesome opponent out of the way, as he feels

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deeply indebted to Slaine’s father. (Anyone who actually believed this was anything other than a “cover my butt” ploy in wake of episode 8, raise your hand. Anyone?) He further goes on to lay out his motivations to Slaine and why the princess dying is part of it, which are also unexpectedly complex and go beyond just needing her death to trigger a war. Meanwhile on the Deucalion front, Lt. Marito is getting professionally treated for PTSD, which provides us an ugly flashback to what really happened to put him in such a state, while Rayet struggles, unnoticed and misunderstood, to deal with her own issues related to the death of her father and the fact that Asseylum, despite being equally betrayed, is coping far better. Bad things can happen in a situation like that, and boy, do they here. In many respects this is an atypical installment for the series, as it has virtually no action component beyond the flashback and the climactic scenes (and those are really more dramatic moments than true action), inserts some humor and a risqué shower scene, and reduces Inaho’s presence almost to nothing; in fact, he only has one line this


week, and some of the jokes even make fun The Lt. Marito flashback is both horrifying of his lack of expressiveness. If anything, and heartbreaking, and certainly explains it’s actually better for Inaho’s absence, as it why he has the condition he does, and Rayet and (from completely out of the blue) Lord Saazbaum both shine in revealing quite a bit about themselves. (In an interesting coincidence, this series airs at nearly the exact same time as the other show this season which also explores PTSD: Sword Art Online II.) The jaw-dropper ending, which could have massive consequences for the overall storyline, caps an episode whose excellence is only marred by vague assertions that Inaho might be at the center of a kinda-sorta harem situation. Will the story have the guts to run with what it seems to have wrought at the end of this one? If this episode showed anything, it’s that attempts to predict the course of events in this series may not always be reliable. For as shaky as the series has been at times, and for as low-key as most of the events are this week, the writing seems to be firing on almost all allows other characters to show off some de- cylinders. To Be continued... velopment, and surprises abound as a result.

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Encyclopedia:

gundam part 7

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a 84 BD Nostalgia

Gundam


Turn A Gundam, is a 50 episode anime series that aired between 1999 and 2000 on Japan’s FNN networks and the anime satellite television network, Animax, created for the Gundam Big Bang 20th Anniversary celebration. It was also compiled into two feature-length movies titled Turn A Gundam I: Earth Light and Turn A Gundam II: Moonlight Butterfly.

scenes) to be hand painted on cels. 2002’s Gundam SEED was the first series to use digital coloring. On July 22, 2010, Bandai Entertainment announced that they had acquired the license to release Turn A Gundam in the United States but in 2012, Bandai Enter-

Turn A Gundam was the last Gundam TV anime to be directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, who was the main creator of the Gundam franchise and had written and directed many previous Gundam works. This series was made after Tomino had recovered from his depression that influenced Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, and the general tone and mood of Turn A Gundam is much more hopeful and less dark than his other Gundam series.

tainment announced that they were stopping production, and distribution, of anime thereof and that included Turn A Gundam. Fortunately, following the recent partnering of Sunrise and Right-Stuf! Inc. it was Turn A Gundam is also the last of the announced that part 1 of the series will inGundam metaseries (not counting the deed be coming in June 30, 2015. compilations and future video game cut BD Nostalgia 85


The story of Turn A is viewed from a third perspective mainly concerning the events that happened to the main character Rolan Cehack. Rolan is a recruit of the Moonrace which was sent to Earth on a recon mission for the later Moonrace massive migration back to Earth, which was planned 100 years ago with no positive response from Earth. With aggressive parties of Moonrace and Earthlings, a war soon broke out between the migrants and the current residents of the area called Ameria, once called America (see the map of America in reference section, which can be seen behind Harry Ord in Episode 11: The Destruction of Nocis), which the Moonrace claimed to 86 BD Nostalgia

be theirs since their ancestors once lived there. Rolan became an active member of the Earth’s militia forces with his skills of piloting the white doll, Turn A Gundam, wanting to settle the conflict between Earth and Moon, while discovering more and more history of the past and why the technology deteriorated so much on Earth. Relationship with previous Gundam series Image showing relationships of different Gundam series’ timeline, sourced from SD Gundam G-Generation DS promotional


leaflet in 2005, before the merger of Gundam SEED series into the Dark History Timeline. The 2001 Correct Century, A Bibliographical Study of “Black History�, printed in black pages in front of the Universal Century Gundam Officials Encyclopedia, is supposedly uncovered by a fictional Lecturer in Black History named Yokk Wakk Onimott during Correct Cen-

nio Okawara) showing a mobile suit supposed to be MS-04 as a S.U.I.T. project of the Zeon forces in UC0072~0075, found in 1993 Correct Century in the mountain cycle Library A-a. The white page introduction by another fictional writer, Minaka Junkers, an economy assistant professor of the Rhea branch of the Earth Federation Government University, states the book

tury 1993. Onimott spends 2 years to fix the broken pages, 5 years to interpret the language and a year to find a publisher. He states the book was first printed around 3000 years ago by the Rhea branch of the Earth Federation Government University. Included is a picture (drawn by Ku-

was published in UC0100, celebrating the Centennial anniversary of the Universal Century. Thus it is officially claimed that the Universal Century is a time before Correct Century, possibly around 3000 years before the story of Turn A begins. BD Nostalgia 87


Mobile Suit Gundam SEED 88 BD Nostalgia


Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (or “Gundam SEED”) is an anime television series from Japan. It is a part of the Gundam franchise that started in 1979, but takes place in an alternate universe called the Cosmic Era. The series has 50 episodes, aired in Japan from October 5, 2002 to September 27, 2003 at 6:00 p.m. on the JNN TV stations (Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS TV), Mainichi Broadcasting System (MBS TV, producing TV station), etc.). The series had finished remastering in High-Definition for it’s 10th year anniversary, omitting two recap episodes. Directed by Mitsuo Fukuda (Future GPX Cyber Formula and Gear Fighter Dendoh), the series is the first set in the Cosmic Era universe. This series begins with a war between Earth and the colonies that is similar to the One Year War of the original Gundam series with certain traditional elements from New Mobile Report Gundam Wing and After War Gundam X. On one side is the Earth Alliance, and on the opposite is the space colonies that form ZAFT (Zodiac Alliance of Freedom Treaty). Mankind is divided over human genetic engineering, with normal humans known as ‘Naturals’ and the genetically

altered humans known as ‘Coordinators’. Like the original series, ZAFT has a head start on mobile suit design, the Earth Alliance quickly catches up with its five prototype Gundam’s. With ZAFT having stolen four of the prototypes, young pilot Kira Yamato takes the Strike Gundam and is forced to fight his old friend Athrun Zala. Little do they know that there are sinister forces at work that go far beyond their worst nightmares... Themes and reactions The series was widely acclaimed upon release, and has left a great legacy upon the otaku community of Japan and abroad. Some of the major characters can still be seen in the Top 10 favorite character lists of Newtype magazine, and the merchandise sold in the millions. The series was intended to be the 21st Century Gundam updated for a new generation of fans, with other elements from previous series added into the mix. The similarities between the original Mobile Suit Gundam and this series are by far the most numerous. To fit the tastes of 21st century viewers, themes based on the elements surrounding present day situations were incorporated namely the 9/11 atBD Nostalgia 89


tacks, Fukuda speaks of an unbroken cycle of hatred since Christ’s death with justice on both sides (Muslim and non-Muslim). The series primarily focused on the interpersonal relationships between the characters, resulting in many layered romantic friendships. The series is guided by the traumatic friendship between pilots Kira Yamato and Athrun Zala. The inclusion of issues such as racism, with desires of genocide, further updated the series and provided food for thought as well as social commentary. The genetically altered Coordinators provide a vision for the future in a world fraught with talk of

GM food and cloning. Airing information The series is licensed by Bandai Entertainment, and was released on DVD in North America in uncut bilingual format. An edited version of the English dub premiered during the Toonami block at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday nights, it was pushed back to 1:00 am on Friday nights starting with Phase 27 due to below average ratings. 90 BD Nostalgia

The majority of the series was aired with a TV-Y7, apparently, at the insistence of Bandai who were desperately trying to push the new Gundam SEED toy line. However, since most retailers had stopped carrying the Gundam line due to over-saturation from the G Gundam series, this soon became a lost cause. Only the final episode was given the TV-PG-SV rating rather than the usual TV-Y7 rating. Things that were edited out on Cartoon Network include mature content (ex. most references to the sexual relationship between Kira and Flay—though the initial scene presenting this was left partially in-

tact); scenes of intense combat violence (ex. almost all shots of pilots, including main characters, in their cockpits before having their machines destroyed); cold-blooded or brutal murders that are non-mobile suit related (ex. Siegel Clyne getting shot by ZAFT soldiers loyal to Rau Le Creuset and Patrick Zala); all references to the fact that the Living CPUs need to take performance enhancing drugs; and most notoriously, handguns being sloppily and inconsistently transformed into


neon-colored lasers, dubbed “Disco Guns” by fans, for the majority of the show’s run. Also, there was little to no use of the words “kill” or “die” in the middle of the series airing. Since most of the series had been edited by Williams Street before broadcast, Cartoon Network changed very little in terms of content allowance. However, the airings of the final two episodes were left mostly unedited, with only a few elements being affected—namely the guns used by Azrael, Patrick Zala, and one of the ZAFT soldiers (which was given neon-colored lights in certain but not all of the image frames), airbrushing the naked Flay’s body in the final episode to avoid showing her cleavage, reducing the amount of blood shown, editing the character’s lines; to remove either inappropriate language or controversial lines, and the removal or altering of flashbacks of graphic assassinations. The Canadian version debuted on YTV’s Bionix block in September 2004 at 9:30 p.m. where it got a better reception and aired comparatively uncut, with almost all

of the material listed above intact. In Japan, it occupied the Saturday 6 p.m. timeslot on MBS and TBS, widely considered a prime timeslot; the anime and its subsequent successor to the timeslot (Full Metal Alchemist) went on to do very well. In the Philippines, the show was aired on ABS-CBN last December 20, 2004. First shown on the 6 pm primetime block on Weekdays (Mondays-Fridays), it was later moved to the 5:30 pm slot on the same day frame until it’s End last March 4, 2005. Currently, it airs on ABS-CBN’s Cable Anime Channel, Hero TV every Friday at 10:30 am, 5:30 pm and 11:30 pm, and in Cartoon Network Philippines every Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 pm (double episodes) (all times in Philippine Standard Time [GMT+8]) In the United Kingdom, the dub aired on the now defunct Anime Central satellite television channel. BD Nostalgia

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On December 23, 2011, the HD Remaster premiered on Bandai Channel and began airing every Friday at 11:00 JST (02:00 GMT) and was simulcasted on the GundamInfo YouTube Channel with English subtitles allowing foreign viewers to watch it for free, although the 1080p Full HD resolution was converted to 480p. In Japan it also premiered on on BS11: 1/1/2012 (airing on Sundays - 19:30) and Tokyo MX:

cial Edition. The English manga, authored by Masatsugu Iwase, is published in North America by Del Rey Manga and in Singapore by Chuang Yi, while Gundam SEED Astray, a spin-off of Gundam SEED, is published in North America by Tokyopop. An adaptation of the TV series, authored by Mizuho Takayama, was originally as supplement of Comic BomBom. This ver-

sion comes with folding color posters of the Mobile Suits, and a bonus Gundam SEED Destiny episode 0 comic. The stoAdaptations, Spin-offs & Sequels A three-part compilation of the TV series ries were eventually published into 2 volhas been released as Gundam SEED: Spe- umes by Kodansha. The 2-volume ver1/3/2012 (airing on Tuesdays - 22:29)

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sion is available in Chinese, published by 73:STARGAZER, an ONA side-story to Rightman Publishing Ltd. in Hong Kong. Destiny, is currently being streamed on Bandai Channel. A film was recently anThe TV series was also turned into a se- nounced to complete the trilogy. ries of novels by Riu Koto, published by Kadokawa Shoten. SEED is currently being rereleased after a HD remastering project in honor Also running with the series was a se- its 10th anniversary, some scenes are ries of manga called Mobile Suit Gundam redrawn, effects such as beam weapon SEED Astray that told a side-story to the shots touched up for larger TV’s (preanime series. This proved popular enough viously would be a couple of bars of to generate two more side-stories: Mobile solid color now have extra fine details Suit Gundam SEED Astray R and Mobile and graduated color changes across the beam), some scenes are cropped for wiSuit Gundam SEED X Astray. descreen while others (like computer

On July 6, 2004 the sequel to Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, was announced after over a month of rumors. It started airing in Japan on October 2004 on the network Mainichi Broadcasting System and ran until October 1, 2005. A third Gundam SEED production, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED C.E.

console displays of text or graphics) have extra detail added to the sides (such as the edges of the console itself) to make them into widescreen aspect without the console content loss which would occur from cropping.

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Misinterpretations and Misrepresentations of CLAMP’s Mastery

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Misinterpretations and Misrepresentations of CLAMP’s Mastery

CLAMP. You’d have to live under a rock CLAMP is to me. to call yourself an Otaku and not know of them. CLAMP are a group currently Allow me to begin my analysis of CLAMP consisting of 4 middle-aged female man- with the work that made them popular in gaka which have been producing manga the west, Cardcaptor Sakura. In brief, CCS for over 20 years. Some of their notable works include X/1999, Cardcaptor Sakura (Also known by its infamous dub ‘Cardcaptors‘), Chobits, and more recently Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, xxxHolic and Kobato. They are well-known for their distinguished visual styles, notably often involving characters with very tall and long-limbed appearances. What I’ve stated so far are the hard facts. I don’t think I left much to debate. However, when one mentions CLAMP, there are many other stigma and associations which often come with the utterance of their name. But are these thoughts and interpretations really valid? I aim to address a few of them, and provide my own view of what 96 BD Nostalgia

is a manga about Sakura Kinomoto – a middle-school girl – and sudden introduction to the world of magic, as she is forced to become a Magical Girl in order to imprison the spirits of (52) 19 ‘Clow Cards’ which have escaped into the outside world


by her innocent mistake. It features all of the clichés common in the genre, but I think CCS really defined the Mahou Shoujo genre for its time. I’d like you to keep in mind that I haven’t read the original manga in it’s entirety, instead watching the Anime series, so a lot of this is speculation, but bear with me. Cardcaptor Sakura is one of those works that suffers a huge burden of adaptation decay. It started off as a short

but powerful manga series, then evolved into a much larger anime which thinned out the impact a bit, and then was further decayed in the delivery to our childhood television through the English adaptation Cardcaptors. This adaptation butchered the show through efforts such as completely changing the personality of characters,

ditching plot developments in favour of others, and even changing the order of events. In short, it was a mess. While it may be the most prominent example, it is not the only of CLAMP’s works to suffer this adaptation decay, as I will explain later. I think people’s exposure to Cardcaptor Sakura is very influential to people’s views of CLAMP as a mangaka, and to a vast majority of the western anime-viewing community, it isn’t a good nor accurate depiction. While the manga did intend to have an overall carefree and fun atmosphere, it didn’t intend on being completely devoid of any serious messages. Quite the contrary, CCS is filled with meaningful morals and messages. I think it was perfect for the demographic they were aiming for, young teenage girls, as it deals with deep and meaningful messages that would be entering their minds at that age, without getting too serious. Given this, Cardcaptor Sakura has something for everyone, with its frequent action scenes for the boys and complex and meaningful plot for the older audiences. As I’m sure you can imagine, Cardcaptors didn’t capture the essence at all, instead trying to BD Nostalgia 97


market the show mostly to prepubescent boys by trying to paint Syaoran (or Li as he was called in Cardcaptors) as the main character. Another thing they cut was just about all references to sexuality, which was a huge theme in CCS. And I don’t just mean heterosexuality, but homosexuality

and bisexuality were just as prominent in the story as well, and not in the fanservice kind of way some of you may be imagining. I believe that CLAMP’s views on love and sexuality are very characteristic of their stories, establishing in CCS their belief that ‘love knows no gender’, with for example the comical love rivalry between Sakura and Syaoran early in the story, or with Tomoyo’s apparent infatuation with Sakura. This was another powerful message to young girls, which was totally 98 BD Nostalgia

scrapped in Cardcaptors. Continuuing the theme of ‘love’, another of CLAMP’s famous works, Chobits, focuses very heavily on that. I’ve only watched the Anime though, so I’m basing my discussion solely on that. Chobits takes the tired formula of boy meets girl, but adds a very significant twist: she is a robot. Chobits is set in the supposedly not-toodistant-future where computers or ‘persocoms’ now come in the form of beautiful girls, and the unlikely protagonist, Hideki Motosuwa, accidentally stumbles across a naked, abandoned persocom in an alleyway. Lots of ecchi humor ensues, and from the onset it appears to be a simple perverted comedy, but as the story progresses it proves to be anything but. Hideki ends up developing romantic feelings toward the abnormal persocom, and the show begins developing the questions of the ghost in the machine, and if love between man and machine is really possible. It’s one of those anime that seems to appeal to an ambiguous demographic, and so, boys and girls alike got a kick out of it. I think the concept alone deserves praise, it really makes you think about the future of humanity, and what it means to be human and to love in the first place. With the theme of love once again prevalent in their works, I can see how people may view CLAMP as ‘girly’. But is it really girly? I think Chobits also addresses how versatile CLAMP is in its story writing, going from magic to mecha. But I won’t deny that Chobits does still have a bit of a whimsical and dreamlike quality to it, and I think this is very important in defining what CLAMP are. Going back to Cardcaptor Sakura, I have


to address the prevalence of philosophy and spirituality in CLAMP’s stories. Spirituality and fantasy work together very well, so it’s not unnatural for a Majou Shoujo anime to have a certain spiritual significance. Kero was based on Cerberus of Greek Mythology, the cards themselves represent a deck of Tarot cards (and were even used as such at one point of the anime), I could go on. But especially significant is the function of magic and fantasy in the story. I think Yue’s presence in the story was very expressive of CLAMP’s spirituality. Yue has an affinity to the moon, and so cannot ‘produce his own energy’. Yue’s power also attracts humans, creating inter-

esting circumstances for Yukito. Another theme was resurrection and the nature of the soul. In the anime, Clow Reed was reincarnated as Eriol, but in the manga Clow Reed’s soul was split in two parts, one to Eriol and the other to Sakura’s father, Fujitaka. Refering back to Chobits, one could say that the nature of the soul was put under some questioning as well, with the way Chii has many human-like qualities. There are countless other instances of spirituality and philosophy featuring in CLAMP’s stories, what with X/1999‘s entire focus being on apocalyptic prophecy, and the battle against a predetermined fate. X also demonstrates CLAMP’s flexibility BD Nostalgia 99


in a much more obvious manner. The story is apocalyptic fiction, so it’s really not a fluffy story for young girls, but rather a very serious and dark story for older viewers of both genders. It just proves that the fluffy and girly stigma associated with CLAMP, based on manga like CCS and Kobato, really doesn’t hold up when you look at all of their works. Plus, I think such an interpretation is very shallow and doesn’t highlight the depth of their stories. But when we’re talking about depth, I really need to talk about the pinnacle of CLAMP’s works: Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle and xxxHolic. These two works mark a turning point for CLAMP, or maybe I should call it a milestone. xxxHOLiC and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle are two sister manga which began at the same time, and are both intertwined together. Tsubasa is a story about a group of four travellers from three different universes who are brought together by their own circumstances to 100 BD Nostalgia

journey together throughout different universes for their own reasons. The one who grants them the power to travel between universes and sends them on their journey is the dimensional witch, Yuuko. Yuuko owns a shop in modern-day Tokyo which serves the purpose of granting wishes for a price, a different price for each wish – and it’s never money. Helping out at Yuuko’s shop is a teenage boy named Watanuki. Watanuki is a boy who was born with the burden of being able to see and attracting earth-bound spirits, who bother him constantly. He wishes to be rid of this burden by Yuuko, and the price he pays is to work at the shop for an unspecified amount of time. The story of xxxHOLiC is told through the perspective of Watanuki at the shop, whereas the story of Tsubasa is told through the perspective of the four world-travelling companions. Both of these stories can be light-hearted at times, but often examine very serious and even dark themes, and aren’t afraid to deal with tragedy. And as I mentioned


earlier, xxxHOLiC and Tsubasa aren’t free from adaptation decay either, with both of their anime adaptations ending prematurely and without conclusion, much to the dismay of the manga readers. They tried to fix this by introducing the OVAs, but there was still so much of the story which didn’t make the cut, so it was pretty disappointing. You really need to read the mangas to truly experience what makes these two works special. Going back to the themes of philosophy and spirituality, xxxHOLiC

HOLiC, and even the CLAMPverse at large: the concept of ‘Hitsuzen’. Hitsuzen is a word which CLAMP have especially given their own meaning to, which they define in many different ways. Hitsuzen can be roughly understood as ‘fate’, the idea that everything is predetermined, or destined to happen. One quote they repeat over and over, embedding itself into the readers’ minds is “There is no such thing as coincidence in this world, there is only hitsuzen.“, meaning that everything

epitomises this, where every chapter (or episode) is filled with very powerful spiritual and philosophical messages. The nature of fortune, karma, spirits and souls, the afterlife, laws of balance, synchronicity, the meaning of existence, black magic, dreams, the list goes on and on. I’ve found CLAMP’s spiritual views to be very eclectic, incorporating concepts from various religions and spiritual beliefs, including shinto, Christianity, Taoism, Buddhism, ancient mythology, and even some of their own personal beliefs. One of these beliefs is crucially important to Tsubasa and xxx-

happens for a reason. I think this ties into Sakura’s mantra from Cardcaptor Sakura, “Everything will surely be alright.” I’ve also found it differs from ideas such like determinism in that people’s free actions can determine the future as much as precedent can. I could write an essay on defining hitsuzen alone, but I just wanted to convey how important spirituality and philosophy are to CLAMP’s writing, and how much it defines who they and what they do. Another thing is that these two manga establish something important for CLAMP: BD Nostalgia 101


a connected fictional multiverse, where all of the stories CLAMP has created coexist together. Two of the four main characters of Tsubasa are not only modeled after Sakura and Syaoran from CCS; they are essentially the same people, just mirror images from a parallel universe. CLAMP is able to re-use characters as many times as they want through this device, and it’s all explainable through the canon. I think this is another aspect which really distinguishes CLAMP from other mangaka. The way all of their works are able to connect through this device really gives a lot of incentive to people like me to read more of their works. In other words, it promotes a cult following, ahaha. There is an especially significant connection between CCS and Tsubasa, with many events from the continuity of CCS connecting to Tsubasa. The way they connect is very complex and difficult to define without going off into fan theories and whatnot, but I think that’s part of the beauty of being a CLAMP fan. Speaking of which, Tsubasa is extremely complex. One comparison I’ve always 102 BD Nostalgia

drawn is between the american TV show LOST and TRC, regarding their stories. Like LOST, Tsubasa starts off slow but quickly builds to an incredible amount of unexpected plot twists and connections between events and elements which add up to a very confronting and very intricate web of continuity. Most who attempt to create something like this will end up with a convoluted mess of a story with countless plot holes and errors, but neither LOST nor Tsubasa really fall to this. What Tsubasa has created is an extremely complex, masterfully woven web of continuity with very few noticeable seams. It’s something which mustn’t be understated; this level of complexity a very difficult thing to accomplish (I should know), but they did it beautifully. Every single one of the four main characters has a secret past, and most even have a secret name that isn’t revealed until later in the story. These secret pasts highlight similar aspects which connect them and bind their destinies. There’s multiverse doubles of characters, artificial clones of characters, even alternate time-


big reoccurring themes for CLAMP are love and destiny, which are both embodied in their most absolute form in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. Together with xxxHOLiC, the two mangas really represent the pinnacle of all of CLAMP’s works up to this point, and are two of the most powerful pieces of fiction I’ve ever read in my life. I believe that they most accurately Concluding comments? I believe many and most beautifully portray the heart of people are mistaken that CLAMP is girly CLAMP, but for the full perspective you or light or fluffy or only produce the same really need to delve into some of their othkinds of manga. CLAMP manga may con- er notable works. With that perspective, line versions of characters to mix it up a bit. Yep, there’s timef*** in Tsubasa, and quite a lot of it actually. And that’s just more reason for people like me to fall in love with it. A deterrent for those who don’t take the time to digest and unravel it perhaps, but it mustn’t be perceived as anything other than a masterpiece.

tain similar themes and ideas, but they are essentially very different works, appealing to different demographics and with very different atmospheres. Despite that, Tsubasa has managed to bring them all together in a single continuity, and this CLAMPverse has generated quite an appeal for their works, and is one of their distinguishing features as a mangaka. They are also very distinguished through their use philosophical and spiritual themes, which is best demonstrated through xxxHOLiC. The two

I’m sure anyone can agree that CLAMP is not fluffy or kiddy, that they do produce amazing works, and that they do surpass the cliches and standards of an aged medium of entertainment throughout the time they’ve been doing it. I really believe that CLAMP really exemplifies individuality and creativity in the anime industry, and deserve all the praise they get. Thanks for producing so many quality stories over the years CLAMP, you really are an amazing group. BD Nostalgia 103


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Video Girl Ai

The romantic-triangle (or pentagram, tetrahedron, whatever) is a pretty typical plot device in anime dealing with relationships and Video Girl Ai is no exception. It’s your standard romantic comedic fare with a slight twist. That is, the “video girl” herself. The story begins with a troubled highschool student, Yota, watching a video of said girl, Ai Amano. Yota is in love with a girl, Moemi, but unfortunately, he finds out that Moemi is in love with his best friend, Takashi. So, Yota is drowning his sorrows by watching this video which is designed to cheer him up. Much to Yota’s surprise, however, Ai suddenly materializes in the

real world! Ai, it turns out, is not quite what Yota expected. It seems that Yota’s VCR malfunctions slightly causing some changes to both Ai’s personality and her *cough* chest (it shrinks, must to Ai’s chagrin). This leaves Ai with a bit of a split personality. She fulfills her duty as a “video girl” and tries to cheer Yota up (basically by being his friend), but is also prone to fits of rage (knocking Yota senseless with various kitchen ware, for example). The simple truth is, Ai is just plain fun. She’s spunky, a little crazy, genuinely caring, and quite engaging. Yota, himself, is a decent person torn between his love for Moemi, but BD Nostalgia 105


also his respect for her feelings towards Takashi. He’s a pretty sympathetic and likable character.

roll as Yota’s best friend nicely and it’s obvious he cares for Yota quite a bit. He knows that Yota loves Moemi and even tries to bring Yota and Moemi together. Beyond this, however, there’s really not much time devoted to developing anything further. Moemi is the most neglected character of them all. She just acts like a perky, happy, and generally “nice” school-girl, but ends up being fairly derivative. This is a shame since I never really figured out what Yota saw in her. Story-wise, things begin with a fairly heavy comedic dose as Ai begins her task of cheering up Yota. As mentioned, she can be quite a riot at times and there are plenty of silly gags to go around. After the

While a lot of time is spent developing Yota and Ai, much less time is spent on Takashi and Moemi. Takashi fulfills his

first couple episodes, things settle down a bit and the series becomes more serious in nature. The focus shifts from Ai’s silly antics to relationship developments between the various characters. The change is subtle and the overall story line flows quite nicely from comedy to drama. 106 BD Nostalgia


The finale, however, left something to be desired. The events shift from real-world scenarios to something completely fanciful. I guess it was supposed to wrap things up (more or less), but it did so in a less than satisfying manner. A new character is introduced, Ai’s creator, but I really felt this was entirely unnecessary. The whole series was about the characters and their feelings towards each other, and throwing in this extra character seems to interfere with the characters being able to make their own choices (especially with regard to Yota and Moemi). Not to mention that it doesn’t entirely resolve all the loose ends in the series. I don’t want to spoil anything by giving it away, but I was left yearning for a more “complete” ending.

Video Girl Ai does have some other good points, though. The artwork and animation were pretty good even though the colors weren’t overly vivid. The music was generally pleasing to listen to with nice opening and closing themes. And following each episode is a bonus “Omake” (extra) section featuring either short comedic bits or live interviews. If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, shoujo dramas, and such, then you’ll probably enjoy Video Girl Ai. Containing decent character designs, a dash of comedy, and solid drama, this series can be quite enjoyable at times. The lackluster ending and unbalanced character development, however, keeps Video Girl Ai from being as good as it should have been. BD Nostalgia 107


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