The Manga Guide To… Everything

In Japanese Culture, comicbooks are integral. They not only have comics prevalent in many forms for kids, a large portion of the publication is meant and received well equally for adults too.

You want to tell a story, there will be a Manga for it. You want to tell history, there will be a comic book for that. And, if you want to learn Maths, there will be a graphic novel for that too.

Continue reading →

So I recently watched: Marvel's Defenders

Marvel's Defenders

Marvel’s Defenders

When I watched Daredevil last year, it felt more like a realistic crime drama than a Comic Book TV Adaptation. When its Season 2 came, that belief got reinforced. Same thing happened with Jessica Jones Season 1. Even Luke Cage was going pretty fine till the last few episodes where it went sideways and changed the main villain just like that. When I watched Iron Fist, I couldn’t be sure whether the show was intentionally trying to be comedy or it was an accidental comedy. No problem with the acting, but the main thing the show could have given, superb fighting sequences, got disappeared after 1st episode and it became a more of business drama. Anyways, I wasn’t that disappointed because I was waiting wholeheartedly for all 4 of the Marvel’s TV Street Level Superheroes to culminate into The Defenders.

The trailer with a brilliant Niravana song had only increased the expectations. So on August 18th, all 8 (just 8) episodes got released on Netflix. I watched them all in 4-5 days.

The build up was good, they showed all the superheroes in their own lives trying to deal with their own issues. Then some events bring them together. And then they become Defenders, but nobody says that they are defenders per se.

So first, the good parts:

Jessica Jones.

I mean she kills all the scenes when she makes some remark about, as Stick puts it ‘A Thundering Dumbass’ or ‘The most stupid Iron Fist ever’, the Immortal Iron Fist. Luke Cage also adds his bit when he realizes that their problems are half-criminal, half-mystical and remaining indigestible. The chemistry between the 4 is really funny. Nobody wants to believe that they can work as a team, except Danny Rand. Daredevil, who knows the threat of Hand is real, is unsure whether he should jump in or not. He has kind of given up after Season 2. His non-masked character, Matt Murdock, also stays true to his original show to an extent before falling prey to ‘Love’. The other best part is when Jessica keeps making fun of his costume as he is the only one donning it. The overall storyline is satisfactory and they will probably going to go for Season 2 as well. But that won’t happen till 2019.

Now the bad parts:

Some weird things happened in the end and they tried to make it like a cliff hanger. Fair enough, but constant fighting bad guys in half-darkness with no -idea who is beating whom was a bit annoying. They hugely improved Iron Fist’s part by making them butt of other heroes’ jokes but I still wasn’t able to find one instance of fight sequence which would be as memorable as DD’s hallway and staircase scene. The villains here, are not as threatening as they should have been. And again, like Iron Fist, they sort of ruin the climax before doing away with one main person.

Overall, the Defenders were mostly okayish because if you cram 4 superheroes in just 8 episodes, many things are left unattended. You can watch the show though, just to enjoy, the camaraderie between the team and Jessica Jones’ one-liners.

 

So I recently watched: Wonder Woman

I recently watched the latest outing from DC, Wonder Woman. The supposedly best female Superhero since last 75 years without a proper movie till now.

Wonder Woman 2017 Movie

Wonder Woman 2017 Movie

First things first, I have never read any of Wonder Woman’s comics but I did watch a bit of that 70s TV movie they made with Lynda Carter (may be only for the visuals of Lynda Carter). So I went in with no expectations. Because DC movies have mostly ruined my expectations. I liked Man of Steel but I cannot recall a thing about it. I was disappointed with the theatrical edition of BvS but the extended edition was much better. But not super. And I was severely disheartened with Suicide Squad. What nonsense was that! So my overall excitement was as high as, nothing else to do on a Sunday evening, so why not go sit in the dark for a couple of hours to watch a movie which is getting good-ish reviews.

So, I ended up liking the movie. Mostly because, it shows something new Superhero wise. A proper origin story, though a lot was still left for speculation which is also good in a way. Second, a proper plot which nowadays superhero movies take for granted. Thirdly, great visuals which is the only thing DC has done right till now. But above all, the lead Gal Gadot, makes the movie worth what it is. Not only her chemistry is great with Chris Pine (Steve Trevor) with good jokes and everything, but overall she does fab in the fighting sequences which are choreographed pretty nicely. She was also quite interesting in BvS. I specially loved the part where she goes right in the middle of an open fire and does what a Superhero does with style. Kicking and beating the enemies with finesse and a lasso.

When it comes to female Superhero movies (if there are any), there is more talk of how the lead looks and what ethnicity is she, and what all she wore. For me, I didn’t even think about that throughout the movie, because whatever was presented in the movie, was in context of that movie. (And I am not an expert movie critic anyways).

Except the final act of the movie, which goes full supernatural, overall movie is entertaining and keeps one hooked. What else matters?

Memorable? Mostly no, partly yes, It would be now, because there are going to be more of Gal Gadot Wonder Woman appearances in future, considering this has been a huge box-office success. I am not complaining.

Which brings us now to decide over the expectations setting from Justice League movie releasing later this year.  I would say, it would be good. (hopefully)

I will go with dash out of dash stars. (We don’t do stars here, go away!).

Here’s a brilliant take on this character by Kaptain Kristian on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j73IkjslvoM

Marvel's Daredevil and few words about superhero movies and shows

When I said that I’m going to read Comics again, since this is 2016, I meant that I would also watch the new form comics have taken, that is Television Shows. And by Television shows, since this is 2016, I mean things on Netflix and stuff. I just finished watching Netflix and Marvel’s Daredevil and I am glad that I watched it.

Marvel's Daredevil

Marvel’s Daredevil

For the uninitiated like I was before delving into this, Daredevil is Marvel’s and co-creator Stan Lee’s yet another Superhero which is one of the most popular ones, right after their Avengers which everyone knows by now. And this series fits right into their MCU or Marvel Cinematic Universe where all their shows and movies intermingle into each other in one way or the other. They keep bringing characters or locations or put easter eggs through some manner to give enough hints to the fans that the universe in which everything happens, is somewhat related. Even if the effects on one might not be directly visible to the other but, as you progress in the series, you will get the feel eventually.

I hadn’t watched any of the shows Marvel had made earlier, which comprises of Agents of Shield or Agent Carter, etc. Also, my knowledge of Marvel was mostly based on their movies as I didn’t get much chance to read their comics. Though I had liked the Sam Reimi-Toby McGuire’s Spiderman in early 2000s and was thrilled to see Stan Lee’s cameos in them, I lost the interest and zeal to continue with their other movies. I watched Iron Man 1 and 2 and Avengers but not Captain America, neither Thor, nor The Incredible Hulk or X-Men if you include that. I watched and then I forgot their plots. Lately, I caught up with Captain America Winter Soldier, X-Men Days of future past and more recently Avenger’s Age of Ultron. I thought their movies are entertaining but not memorable, as compared to DC’s. And by DC’s I actually mean Nolan’s take on Batman and then Man of Steel. I even went on to state, that for me DC movies were much better than Marvel’s. But after watching Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice and Captain America Civil War, I guess I have to rethink of my opinion. While I didn’t hate BvS, but everyone agrees that it could have been a lot better. Civil War on the other hand doesn’t take itself so seriously as BvS and turns out so much cooler, hilarious and super serious when it needs to be. To summarize, Marvel has up the ante a long time ago and they are continuing to be good at what they are doing. Hoping to see Suicide Squad and further Justice League movies to see what DC comes up with eventually, after almost losing race to Marvel, if you may say so. Anyways, last few movies I watched, it has surely made me eager to watch more of Marvel’s stuff.

Doodled

Doodled

Anyways, talking about Daredevil and not digressing, I liked a lot of things about the show. Most importantly that it is as realistic as the Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy ought to be. While I have no intention to give any plot points here as a lot of time has already passed when this show was released, I am just writing about the things I liked the most. And that is the brilliant, hand to hand combat without any CGI or anything. Just plain, fist fights and round kicks. Ah, and that Hallway scene in the S01E02! That got me hooked to it. And it keeps getting better with each episode. Season 2 was equally good as they brought in more characters and made it more complex and delight for the viewers who love comics and pure action. The Punisher was straight out of Sunny Deol’s Ghayal and Narsimha, if you know what I mean. Even if you haven’t read any comicbook, this show fits into all the categories of Crime Thriller genre, making it a dark, gritty and nicely crafted and choreographed violence show which comicbook lovers or anyone who’s an adult now, would love. If anyone is reading this, heh, I would recommend this right away.

Next up, Jessica Jones, which would also be special as Breaking Bad’s Jane plays the titular role. This was released in November 2015 but it is okay. A least I hope it would have some story. As compared to that nonsense Game of Thrones where Winter is yet to come even after 6 seasons. Yawn.

Reading Comics (Again)

I last purchased a comic book just before the Cricket World Cup in 1999. Till that time I had hoarded about 150+ of them and had probably read more than twice or thrice of it by borrowing it from friends and cousins. I was a comics nut to say the least. Even when I hadn’t learn to read, I had mugged up a comic book (probably one of the Pran’s Chacha Chowdhary and Sabu’s adventures) just from the narrations my parents and family did for me multiple times a day. I could recite it word by word then. Later, I started buying them. While other kids use to borrow or issue them for a day or two from those Stationary Shops (which acted as Libraries for comic books), I chose to buy as sense of ownership lured me more than just the joy reading. Surely, it was sort of a bragging right in those days. I used to eagerly wait for the next set (issues) of Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruv, Bhokaal, Doga, Bhediya and Parmanu which came out every week. I occasionally bought ever so funny Bankelal and for light fun, comics of Raman, Billu and Pinky. Even the genre of Thrill-Horror-Suspense was one of the things to cherish for. And then there were collectibles with Special Digests and Multi-Starrer to die for. Surely, I made life of my family troublesome by demanding 15 odd Rupees every week for a 32 page comic and sometimes 35 or something for the special one of 64 pages. Kindly note that I used to read only Hindi comics and had very rarely read those Archies or DC and Marvel ones.

10689592_10152715724964228_2282221375095810081_n.jpg

Cover of Super Commando Dhruv’s 1st Issue and Origin Story: Pratishodh ki Jwala (The Lion subtly chewing away Jubisko’s hand)

So after purchasing last comic book in 1999, I suddenly stopped. May be because of ‘Board exams’ lurking ahead in a couple of years or may be I had lost interest. Also, other kids had moved on to Computers and objects of bragging rights meant something else. And then on one seriously regrettable unfortunate sad stupid nonsense day, we sold those comics to some junkyard dealer. [pause for sobbing for 5 minutes] Sigh. Not sure what was I thinking back then. I still regret that decision.

Anyways, keeping nostalgia aside, last week I watched ‘Batman v Superman | Dawn of Justice’ which led me to go back and forth on its reviews and links to the source materials, it took inspirations from. That led me to Alan Moore and Frank Miller, whose names I had heard several times but had never paid more attention to them. But then many reviews about Superhero movies kept mentioning their names and also the movie ‘Watchmen’ as it was directed by Zach Snyder and it was based on Frank Miller’s Comic Book (or what they strictly call with caution: Graphic Novel). I watched ‘Watchmen’ (Who watches the Watchmen? People who read comics) later the same week and was no doubt thrilled and excited.  Therefore, I reached the obvious conclusion that the sophistication of comic book writing/illustrations these guys had was amazing to the power of amazing. I wouldn’t waste time on praising or writing lengths about them because they are just brilliant.

This week from BvS to Watchmen finally led me to stop everything else and resume reading Comics again in 2016. (Strangely Marvel Movies all these years didn’t make me do so, though I haven’t watched them all as well. Deadpool did a bit recently because I want to see how was his crazy antics treated in the writing but even then I didn’t go ahead and read much). So, I thought I should read comics again and recently I read Batman Year One, The Killing Joke and currently on The Dark Knight Returns.

The Killing Joke

Screenshot from DC Comics’ ‘The Killing Joke’ by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland

These are some really interesting and must read books for any comics lover. Not only were they path breaking in themselves, they set up the movies we see today, they also were inspirational to the comics scene in India as well. My favorite characters being Dhruv and Batman share a lot of things. Dhruv is essentially inspired by Batman, having lost parents at an early age and then getting support from an honest Police Commissioner (Rajan Mehta: James Gordon) and both don’t have any powers of their own but worked hard to acquire them and so on. For Raj Comics, Nagraj holds the importance Superman has for DC Comics though Nagraj’s style resemble Spiderman’s powers more with both shooting off Snakes/Web from their wrists.

Of course, DC and Marvel started way back in 1930s and serious Indian comics in late 1980s, there has to be a huge ground to cover for us. But having said that, in terms of brilliant Artwork by Anupam Sinha and such and also the intent of the stories, is genuinely impressive. There are silly moments but seeing the larger picture is satisfactory. They still have to do a lot more and they probably must have done so in last few years when I was abstaining from reading them. Not only did they improve on stories, graphics, they also created some characters which are brilliantly mature. Doga for instance, is seriously dark and grim and demands a movie adaptation urgently. Bhedia sounds a lot like Wolverine but I doubt as it was the inspiration because the origin story is totally different. However, Tiranga is a blatant copy of Captain America. I don’t know if anyone reads Tiranga. Parmanu was way better and I haven’t seen much of him since a long time.

Anyways, I have ‘rekindled’ my penchant for reading Comic Books (and currently reading whatever I am getting my hands on). Reading them on Kindle doesn’t have the same feel and effect but reading nevertheless. Instead of cursing about the state of Comics in today’s times, I will start to read them regularly again myself. I also wish to buy a Collector Edition set of Raj Comics, preferably SCD. And if Raj Comics start making their merchandise seriously, I would have no qualms in buying Tees and Action Figures too.

Nagraj Crime King

Screenshot from Raj Comic’s ‘Nagraj: Crime King’ where Nagraj wants Milk

Now does the below page resembles something from the Dark Knight movie by Christopher Nolan?

574775_10150754485669228_874067272_n.jpg

Raj Comics’ ‘Kirgi Ka Kahar’…