It does so today as well, but the 21st Century depicted in the epic manga series has hit on many eerie notes that are developed or in development in the modern age, the digital age.
The following review of The Ghost In The Shell Volume 1 is *Spoiler Free*
If cybernetic limbs can lead to cyborgs with implants, why cannot a brain, a soul, a ghost, eventually be uploaded into a full-on cyborg model.
That concept in and of itself may not be very original.
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick was one of the first to combine this AI and/or soul-brain into machine concept along the rough and jaded lines that were foundational for cyberpunk: gritty, grim futures with deadly and often seemingly unnatural additions in the forms of robotics to humans and to the bots themselves.
Make no mistake: the first volume in The Ghost In The Shell series is not to be missed!
It is the myriad facets of the storyline, the characters, and, yes, the tech and the way it is used that is well established as innovative, even today.
Having humans fully rely on and take advantage of semi-autonomous robots that seem completely human – West World, anyone? – is also well established, but Shirow pits the humans that are fully integrated into robots against ghost hackers that begin to override human-cyborgs that have a brain and presumably a soul and completely control them.
The protagonist of TheGhost In The ShellVolume One is Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg federal agent with the utmost skill in taking down the big threats.
But what if the people being controlled, the ghosts being hacked, and the political atmosphere is not what it seems?
Kusanagi is at the greatest risk . . .
It is rare that a talented artist gets the opportunity to write their own comic book, or manga, series, and like Katsuhiro Otomo came out of Japan blasting apart the 80s with a 21st Century magnum opus in Akira that would forever stretch innovation and art, so too has Masamune Shirow impacted the cyberpunk and science-fiction genres.
That is not to say that Shirow’s work is equal to Otomo’s, or vice versa, but both are absolutely amazing works of art.
The art in The Ghost In The Shell is stellar, full of detail, brazen and fantastically depicted action that greatly reflects the deep story being told.
I highly recommend for English readers a Kodansha publication of the manga; I read reviews that some of the English written books were censored in the US, and so I got the dual language, written in both Japanese and English version of the manga published by Kodansha and it reads right to left and is 346 pages of awesomeness.
This is the cover of the bilingual edition that is uncensored:
Jok and Santullo’s unique style was evident in Aces Weekly Volume 34’s “Merlin and Hector – Excalibur”, which provided a magically fantastical landscape for an Arthurian tale in the Dark Ages.
But REFLECTION is a step into darker puddles, messy cityscapes and a realistic neo-future that emanates the best of detective mystery crime stories with a hint of Philip K. Dick and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner thrown in.
The degradation of the setting only magnifies the violence and emotions of the characters living in the world.
The following review of REFLECTION, from Aces Weekly Volume 39, will contain mild Spoilers*, but since the serial book has not released its finale on Aces Weekly, what is sure to be a compelling ending is wholly absent here.
We start with a grizzled Detective Reynoso is panting as the middle-aged vet searches frantically through a garbage-strewn alley, his handgun – a massive mix of a giant barrel and rifle – is drawn.
Sweat beads on his head.
The heavy breaths are emphasized with both visuals and lettering.
An oddly shaped machete pierces the seasoned, alarmed man wearing a trench coat, and stops him dead.
The woman, who had risen silently from a dumpster, forced her blade through his back and out his chest.
The next day, the detective’s old partner, a tall, foul-mouthed, gray-haired cop named Walsh barges onto the murder scene and refuses the order and rule to not work on a case for conflict of interests.
The red-headed woman, Baffo, and her lanky partner, Kirby, are the detectives put in charge of the case.
She is silent as they purvey the scene.
The night before her phone woke her from a nightmare.
In that dream, she had been the one murdering Reynoso in the rain with a machete, and upon waking her reflection seems to haunt her.
Her odd silence is even noted by her partner as they work.
The story provides many traditional film noir and detective crime tropes and fun.
In terms of quips, threats, and heads being slammed into tables as a method to coax information about the murder from slimy criminals, the reader is fed hard-boiled-ness.
The use of language and art to show the emotion, in fury, fear, and puzzlement on the part of the nervous potential murderer in Baffo makes for a truly impactful experience.
REFLECTION is riveting and does not stop to pump the brakes on the intensity!
POWKABAM Score For REFLECTION = 10/10
“REFLECTION: Bleak Tomorrow’s Detective Tale Of Visceral Noir” was written by R.J. Huneke.
Major X brings booming new mysteries to Marvel at in Rob Liefeld’s tale from the X-Force and X-men universe.
Apparently sprung from an idea masterful writer and artist Rob Liefeld had in the 90’s, Major X #1 begins an epic new series of mutant events and a host of new twists and characters.
Mr. Liefeld did create Deadpool, Domino, and Cable, after all.
These mutants have been fan favorites and it is not hard to see why: they were introduced and immediately intertwined brilliantly for intense storylines, great lines adding to greater personalities, and, lest we forget, they each have signature badass looks.
Spoiler* ALERT for Major X #1 by Rob Liefeld, Adelso Corona, Dan Fraga, Romulo Fajardo Jr. and VC’s Joe Sabino.
That Major X #1 kicks off like a blitz of action, mystery and suspense gives readers a phenomenal new wrinkle in time for mutants in the X-Men and X-Force universe.
Major X starts off having thoroughly kicked Cable’s ass.
And much of the X-Force, too, have been taken out.
A weirdly colored and much stronger Hank ‘Beast’ McCoy is fighting alongside the stranger in a soldier’s uniform and helmet of sorts.
There seems to be some kind of power emanating from a crystal-like piece in his chest, and Major X proceeds to go toe to toe with Wolverine.
His sword locks with Logan’s and the Major reveals it is adamantium.
The grizzled mutant inquires as to where anyone could have gotten enough of the rare substance to fashion such a sword.
And the Major reveals that it was made from Wolverine’s bones in the future!
A mutant utopia is abruptly destroyed in Major X’s time, and the one mutant who has sustained it has gone missing.
Is this an old Charles Xavier?
We do not know.
What becomes quickly apparent is that a foul tongued mutant, seemingly Deadpool bashes in and proceeds to try and murder Beast – who he calls a wookie – and the Major.
They want to know who hired him.
Clearly the mystery of the collapsing utopia comes down to this assassin’s benefactors.
But he is too much for them.
Until the real Deadpool, from Cable’s timeline in the present, drives a motorcycle into the room and fights off the new mysterious villain, Dreadpool!
After seeing the fight, I noticed the subtle change that Dreadpool had more of a helmet than a mask.
And Deadpool himself, using that iconic humor, makes fun of Dreadpool’s shoulder-pads, which is Liefeld clearly poking fun at himself who used many large shoulder pads on his drawn characters in the 90’s when it was popular.
The intertwining of many great characters for fantastic story is here again in Major X #1.
What concludes the book?
Why the revelation that the Major is in fact Alexander Summers, Cable’s future son.
Hold onto your butts, because this is an epic new comic book series in the making!
“Major X Brings Booming New Mysteries To Marvel At” was written by R.J. Huneke.
Avengers: ENDGAME Spoiler-FREE Review POWkabam has to give the ultimate culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a 10/10 score, or hell, make it an 11 out of 10!
This “Avengers: ENDGAME Spoiler-FREE Review POWkabam” will talk about the feelings and the power of the flick.
And I vow to do my best to not even hint at a possible outcome of the movie’s events.
As a lifelong comic books fan, with a favorite of Thanos from the time when TheInfinity Gauntlet dropped, the use of the title Avengers: Infinity War brought about conflicting feelings.
That was before seeing the Russo brothers’ film.
I was conflicted because I knew that the writing of genius Jim Starlin and the character he created was not going to be portrayed with much from the Thanos Quest, TheInfinity Gauntlet, and The Infinity War books.
There are mild Spoilers* to Avengers: Infinity War.
Well guess what: the MCU has done nothing short of a remarkable job with nearly all of their comic book adaptations and as much it is its own thing, it kept the spirit of Starlin’s opus intact and brought audiences an awesome ruthless tyrant in Thanos on screen.
The movie had so many surprises and showed off the big purple chin’s intelligence, resolve, and triumph.
And so I loved it.
I did not expect to, but I did all the same.
And so with the finale I went in with less expectations.
Anything could happen in Avengers: ENDGAME.
I had one guess only, which I will not utter here, as to an outcome of the plot, but otherwise was really enamored with the infinite (pun intended) possibilities of Avengers: ENDGAME.
I had no idea where they were going, what they were going to try and pull off, or how ambitious it might be.
It is so damn good that I would compare its predecessor with the Babe pointing his finger into the stands and then with Avengers: ENDGAME being the point where he hit the ball out of the park!
The film is one of the funnier of the MCU assembly, and it is so so very moving.
Emotions run high, low, and everywhere in between after the snap of Thanos’ finger in the Infinity Gauntlet turns half of the universe, including earth and its web-head Spider-man, into dust.
But this is only the setup to Avengers: ENDGAME.
Surprises in the character arcs, the lines, and the plot seize the audience and play on foreshadowing, false foreshadowing, and plot points from more than a dozen films.
It all comes to a head.
And it has to be one of the most impactful and rewarding super hero movie experiences of a lifetime.
POWKABAM Score For Avengers: ENDGAME = 10/10
“Avengers: ENDGAME Spoiler-FREE POWkabam Review” was written by R.J. Huneke.
Honor And Curse #1 Haunted Shinobi Slices Deep | 10/10 rating stands tall for this innovative new look into feudal Japan and the strange powers of an orphan turned ninja.
The tale of Genshi is an intriguing new take on a genre.
The team from Mad Cave Studios, Inc. has done a remarkable job with this debut issue from their series Honor And Curse:
MARK LONDON WRITER | NICOLÁS SALAMANCA ARTIST|CoVER | TEKINO COLORs|Cover | GIOVANNA T. OROZCO EDITOR-IN-CHIEF | MIGUEL ÁNGEL ZAPATA LOGO & LETTERS
London’s writing is tight, there are warm feelings to the characters, and some starkly funny lines where you least expect it, and the story grabs the reader from the get-go and does not relent.
Salamanca’s art is a sharp and refreshing style that combines a vivid sense of imagery, with poignant details and gorgeous landscapes that, along with Tekino’s brilliant colors, reflects the mood of the scene and the situation.
The following review of Honor And Curse #1 contains *SPOILERS.
The thrilling tale opens outside Iga, a snowy village in 14th century Japan where ninjas chase the protagonist Genshi.
He is clearly talking to some invisible force from within his head and is at odds with it.
The voice calls him an “ungrateful shinobi” as he stabs himself with his katanna.
The dramatic panel bottoming the page goes totally white with he, his blood splatter, and his sword becoming one big red silhouette.
He stabbed himself.
The book goes back in time.
Genshi dreams of his parents’ murder, and then an extremely entertaining sequence of his training to become a shinobi – eventually their leader – takes place.
While this training portion is a fun staple of many ninja and samurai stories, this one differs in the failures it focuses on, as well as a secret love affair between the town leader’s daughter and Genshi.
I particularly love the scene where the training shinobis must stand in their kicking pose atop wooden platforms in a waterfall, while freezing water is pouring onto them.
There is even a great wise-crack there that catches the reader off guard for a hearty laugh (read the book to see it).
The nightmares start to take a toll on Genshi in his waking moments costing him a firm grasp on his sanity.
A demonic-like figure appears to have partially possessed him, while also empowers him to recover from a near fatal blow to pass his final shinobi test.
Genshi is a torn figure inside and yet outside is a top notch ninja put in charge of the graduates.
Yet the town leader reveals to the shinobi teacher, their master, at the close of the book that Genshi must die.
The riveting tale packs quite a punch visually and story-telling-wise!
POWKABAM Score For Honor And Curse #1 = 10/10
“Honor And Curse #1 Haunted Shinobi Slices Deep | 10/10” was written by R.J. Huneke.
Cover #5 Creates New Levels Of Extraordinary Story Art, with stories within stories full of sharp humor, wit, and magnificent art.
Make no mistake, this tale reaches epic heights in its penultimate chapter.
Rarely do entertainment, philosophy and art appear as elegantly and impactfully together as they do in Cover #5 from David Mack and Brian Michael Bendis (and Ivan Reis on the variant cover).
This article will have SPOILERS*** for Cover #1-Cover #5.
Last we saw Max, he was tied to a chair and being beaten to a bloody pulp by fellow comic book creator and rival spy Essad Sinns.
Like all of the issues of Cover, the story begins on a surprising note.
A Thanksgiving dinner shows Max’s tightknit family: friends, their spouses and children, and talk of comic book legends and the stories surrounded their geeking out when confronting their heroes.
The sequence only gets funnier as Max listens to the conversation from the toilet where he does some research reading comic books.
It is a hilarious and endearing sequence of the desire to be ‘cool’ in the eyes of the ‘cool guys.’
When all of them get an all expenses paid trip to Brazil for a highly lucrative gig at a convention, Max becomes suspicious and nervous.
As the plot turns, Max’s hit story Ninja Sword Odyssey emerges.
In a gorgeous sequence, he learns that ancient calligraphers changed their name and mark after a new art style was adopted.
An old skin, an old life is left behind, and a new one is embraced.
The boy draws birds, trees, cats, and his father, clear as day, though the visage is different every time, because of his wavering memories.
The land is in turmoil and the young traveling apprentice changes his name over and over again.
A giant set of scrolls depicting a fearsome tiger is unfurled at the new ruler’s and he, being the man to kill the apprentice’s father and banish the swordmaker is faced with the unexpected.
The apprentice leaps from the fourth scroll with his tanto sword brandished and ready to change everything or die.
The swordmaker’s apprentice is reborn for the last time.
It is truly a remarkable story and the watercolor artwork is stunning, full of feeling and depth.
In Brazil, Max meets Julia who informs him that all of his friends did indeed get paid and the convention is real.
It is just funded by the CIA for the sake of espionage and foreign relations.
For the first time in months, Essad Sins is appearing in public too.
And Julia thinks, with Max having called out the man for being a fan of Jack ‘King’ Kirby who would have punched Sins out for being in league with fascists that Max’s mind rattling quip can help turn him to their side.
But it is Max who must flip him . . .
POWKABAM Score For Cover #5 = 10/10
“Cover #5 Creates New Levels Of Extraordinary Story Art” was written by R.J. Huneke.
Soviet Daughter: A Graphic Revolution: two moving life-stories are encased in a graphic novel memoir by Julia Alekseyeva that intertwines her life as a Jewish immigrant and refugee living in Chicago with that of her great grandmother, Lola, whose birth in 1910 outside Kiev would pit her against revolutions, civil war, the Holocaust, and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.
Oftentimes there is a member of your family that one connects with on a deep level.
Sometimes no one else but this special person understands you.
For Julia Alekseyeva, Lola was that special family member.
Living to be 100 years young, Lola left behind a loving family that had moved to the US as refugees from Kiev, and she also left behind a memoir that her great granddaughter Julia found and decided to bring to life with vibrant art and a deeply poignant look at her own life and relationship with her great grandmother, Lola, whose overcame incredible life obstacles in Eastern Europe for nearly a century.
Though the tumult of the pre-, present-, and post-Soviet Union era is exciting, frightening, and painful to witness through the eyes of the Jewish woman who grew up and lived through it all, the stories of both her and Julia resonate here for two very important reasons:
First, the art by Julia Alekseyeva is remarkable.
Using her own way to take the comic strip and comic book mediums she makes each page stand out, with strong emotion in the faces, in the weaving of different panels, almost like looking back on past dreams, and the overall detailed scenery, inside and outside, gives the reader a vivid sense of what is going on and why it is important to the two figures.
Second, the writing in Soviet Daughter: A Graphic Revolution in its subtlety resonates deeply.
Like many of the ups and downs of the region, Lola experiences stark terror and poverty, stability and success, in waves, while Julia grows up with much more perspective than many of her fellow Americans.
The horrific way Lola, as a child, witnessed her father nearly get killed for being Jewish during a nationalist pogrom is one instance.
The way Julia is scared of Germany and Germans until grad school because of her grandparents that lived through WWII and her grandfather who sang marching songs that spoke of bayonetting Germans and fascists is another.
This speaks to the times, to the people who have to live in such times, and to difficulties we all experience through our feelings of the ripples caused by the times of our lives.
At times the reader’s heart aches to hear things like the young newly married Lola, in 1930-1933, who had to survive consuming only a cup of hot water with a sugar cube and a piece of bread for breakfast because they could barely support themselves, like most around them.
The insightful look into these two amazing women’s lives set amidst a riveting account of history as they experienced it is truly remarkable.
OUTRUN This Cyber Punk Future Car Chase From Aces Weekly 10/10 rated, reviewed and rasterized by POWkabam.
OUTRUN by Matteo Filippi and Marco Morale is a claw into your seat thrill ride into the grim future!
There are a few vague similarities to Tank Girl here, in that we are in a post-apocalyptic future where areas outside of major cities, or the cities themselves, are ravaged from war, but that ends them.
OUTRUN is utterly unique in its bright, visceral style.
The art and writing take on cyber punk, burgeoning tech that is still shaping the future and one hell of an upgraded muscle car named Gyro – possibly a 68 Camaro RS merged with a 60’s Chevelle – complete with a stick shift, voice command, and a clutch pedal!
After the deadly events of the film Aliens, the spaceship Sulaco carrying the sleeping bodies of Ripley, Hicks, Newt, and Bishop is intercepted by the Union of Progressive Peoples. What the UPP forces don’t expect is another deadly passenger that is about to unleash chaos between two governmental titans intent on developing the ultimate Cold War weapon of mass destruction.
What could be more deadly than weaponized Xenomorphs after all?
How do you test this germ warfare?
How about on an enclosed space station where the inhabitants are trapped as government factions threaten war over the alien weapon.
The art is fantastic! It is eerie and reminiscent of the first Alien movie while giving it its own feel.
The dialogue and scenes are all top notch so far, not that writing is much of a concern when William Gibson is at the helm.
The suspense is building along with epic stakes and gory realities through the first two comic books, and I cannot wait for more!
ALIEN 3 THE UNPRODUCED SCREENPLAY
William Gibson, Johnnie Christmas
“ALIEN 3 THE UNPRODUCED SCREENPLAY: William Gibson’s Vision” was written by R.J. Huneke.
What can Bruce Wayne possibly do to contend with a Batman who always wins, laughing all the way, no matter the cost?
THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS 1 was created by Scott Snyder [Writer], JOCK [Artist], David Baroni [Colors], Sal Cipriano [Letters], JOCK [Cover], Greg Capullo & FCO Plascencia [Variant Cover].
The story is chilling from start to close.
The artwork contains a classic depiction of the dark knight in blue-gray, and he is nearly always draped in shadow, like a ninja, amidst ominous sunset tones and cityscapes.
The differences are subtle but intriguing, the tale mysterious, bloody, and thrilling.
There has never been a Batman book quite like this.
The following look at this grisly tale, THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS 1, contains **Spoilers**
What begins the comic is a heart warming tale of a four-year-old Bruce running to break past his parents and Alfred’s linked arms amidst all of their resounding laughter.
And then we are onto a rampaging runaway caravan of armored houses being trailered over a bridge and out of Gotham.
Batman has to save the lives of the citizens plowed over while figuring out a way to stop the exporting of Gotham’s dead Jane and John Doe’s.
Amidst the chaos, Scott Snyder adds the greatest Bat-joke this writer has ever heard when he tells Alfred the Batman Insurance Funds should be called ‘Dark Knight Returns’ in a nod to rank Miller’s book of the same name and Sean Gordon Murphy’s Emergency Bat Fund from The White Knight.
A badass Bat-tricycle, a one-handed-throw of three batarangs, and some bone crunching moves make for a grand kickoff.
But when the Batman gains access to the bodies, he comes upon a corpse of Bruce Wayne.
This Bruce is his exact duplicate and an autopsy reveals that it is indeed he, down to the scars, except that this body is devoid of all the marks from Batman injuries that took place after Bane’s back breaking occurred.
Meanwhile, The Grim Knight, a gray, gun-laden Rambo of a Batman breaks into Arkham and stabs skulls and kills guards and inmates alike as he approaches the Joker.
But the dealing blow does not fall to him, but rather to the Batman Who Laughs, bearing a chain in one hand and an enormous ax, which he uses to split the Joker’s skull.
And Batman is onto him.
He even warns Jim Gordon of the ramifications of a world destroying version of himself from the dark Multiverse.
But he has no idea how to go about stopping this psychopathic, albeit more humorous, embodiment.
Batman does some good old fashioned Gotham detecting and discovers the dead Joker was a decoy.
He locates the real one as he shows up at the Batcave.
The Joker is granted access by the Batman offering him protection.
A gun is brandished.
The Joker’s trick gun shoots himself and, as he dies, his heart releases Joker toxin so that Batman ‘can become him’, can become like the Batman Who Laughs in order to win.
And like when Bruce was a child, Alfred is no longer heard over the laughter.
POWKABAM Score For THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS 1 = 10/10
Head down to your LCS and grab ’em before these books are sold out (Red Shirt Comics in Port Jefferson has got them for us Long Island’ers!)!
“THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS 1 Review 10/10 HAHAHAHAHAHA!” was written by R.J. Huneke.