Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) in Training

Cassandra Cain is one of the characters that seriously got a raw deal after the DC New 52 reboot. She all but disappeared when she was so cool as Batgirl. They even took her ability to avoid gunfire by reading the shooter and gave that to Nightwing, post reboot. I've heard she's recently made a reappearance, but with no clear explanation of her origin.

In many ways, I put a lot more thought into this than one might expect. As I thought about what Cassie's physical training might be like, I felt that she'd be very spartan. She wouldn't go to a gym or have any machines. She'd work out in her home with the bare essentials. She has a heavy, weighted sandbag, which can be used for a wild variety of exercises, some free weight, a yoga mat (the word on the mat is 献身 kenshin, "dedication"), a mirror for checking form, and a water bottle. It's all stuff she could toss in the corner

The only little bit of tech is the heart rate monitor on her wrist that is synched up with her phone. The outfit is based on something the woman I follow for my own physical training wears, but I added a loose little Batman top. I think it looks to be something you'd see a woman wear to the gym.

The funny thing about this picture is that one of the hardest parts was drawing what was in the mirror. I actually set up a small mirror leaning on the couch in the living room then set up my DVDs and Blu-rays to recreate the dimensions of the walls for the room.


My Psylocke Redseign Colored

I'm currently between commissions, so I went through with an idea of coloring my Psylocke redesigns I drew a few years back. It's just been sitting on a USB stick for a while, and I thought I'd give it a go. Maybe try out a few new techniques. My line work was a bit sloppy, but this was when I was really getting a handle on using a tablet to ink a picture.

I'm not opposed to drawing women looking sexy or risque, but I also want to draw women looking cool and bad ass. Psylocke is a trained martial artists. She shouldn't look like a bikini model but have a lean muscle physique.

My idea with the redesign was to make something that's a lot more practical than the strapped bikini costume. As fond as I was of it as a pubescent teen, it's just silly. She's suppose to be a ninja, so I gave her a more ninja-style outfit. In this version she has a more stylish sport bra top that has an Asian look. I can't speak for women, but I bet there are ladies out there who'd actually wear a top that looked similar to this for exercising.


The Great Anime Cover Up!

This is a satirical article that I originally wrote for the news page of Anime Vice in Aug. 25, 2010. It's not intended to be taken too seriously. I'm just pointing out some of the odd choices that are made in censorship, in relation to violence and sexuality.

Unlocking the Oppai Code

Too much?

It's pretty well known on the Anime Vice community. I am not a fan or supporter of censorship. Art should never have to be toned down, and have to bend to the wills of those who just happen to not like it or disapprove of the content. In many of my postings and articles, I have written at length about my issues of the censorship of manga in the US by publishing companies, but there is actually another kind of censorship I would like to bring to your attention. It's the censorship of Japanese manga when they are translated into anime. I'm not talking about the reduction of violence or gore. It's something far more insidious. It's the BREASTS!!

It's taken many years of research (actually, it's closer to two hours and some change), but I believe I have finally uncovered the code for the censorship of the breasts in anime. This is what they don't want you to see on your televisions. Sure, anime and manga love their insanely, large chested characters. Just look at Rangiku Matsumoto, Orihime Inoue, Tsunade, and much of the cast of Highschool of the Dead. The list can go on, and pretty much every series has at least one, I find it hilarious that violence is often shown in its purest forms on TV, but somehow seeing too much breast is going too far. Cleavage shots are abundant. You see those all the time in anime, but as it turns out. There are just some parts of the breasts that are too provocative for anyone's eyes, outside of the gray scale pages.

It's the Japanese censoring boards that want to prevent you from seeing too much of them. How do I know this be true and not some crazy, conspiracy theory? I flipped a coin,... but that's not all. I'll show you the evidence of side by side examples of how the original manga have been censored for their TV appearances. How much is too much? What angles can you see them from, and why are some angles more provocative than others? I'm going to break it down for you.


I think one of the first times I ever noticed this odd changes was on the BLEACH series from Tite Kubo. I had followed the series in scanlations for a while and later started watching the anime. It was when it came to one particular fight scene during the Soul Society arc did I notice a small touch that was different than I remembered from the manga. These were straight out of Japan. So, I knew it wasn't something that was added after the fact. It was the fight of Yoruichi Shihouin vs. Soi Fon. I noticed that clothes were added to the scene.

Yoruichi Shihouin

In Yoruichi's outfit, the back is always exposed. It's part of the regular uniform for the 2nd Division Captain. The manga version is rather provocative. All that side boob is exposed. It's a wardrobe malfunction just waiting to happen, but it seems this was far too much for the TV audiences in Japan. When it aired on TV, a convenient undershirt had been added.

Soi Fon

Just to prove that this censorship of the manga isn't isolated to the big breasted characters. Soi Fon fell victim to it in the very same scenes. As you can easily see in the picture. Soi Fon was also given a conveniently placed undershirt. Though, in the anime the angle was changed. No breast at all was seen. The outfit has been shown to the TV audiences in this manner ever since these two were first shown. This issue only seemed to be present with these two. The series is never shy about showing off Matsumoto's massive cleavage. Mind you, that's in no way a complaint. It also isn't the last time such censorship would be seen in BLEACH.

Tier Harribel

Tier Harribel is one of the more alluring of the Espada in the BLEACH series. Kubo loved his tanned girls to wear as little as possible, and this one really wears very little. Too little for the censors it would seem. Her normal appearance has an outfit that only covers the top portion of her breasts. The lower half was completely covered for the anime, but this alteration was never more in your face (as it were) until the episode came where she joined the fight, and her top opened up to "expose" her ranking among the Espada. They knew that they had to show some level of the breasts to show off the number, but still keep their censorship. So, they created this elaborate sort of cup to the outfit, including a little pattern in it. This is an example of showing us that the lower breast is forbidden. It's ironic when you consider the series has such prolific "coverage" of breasts. Despite the utter lack of a titular character in the series. (pun intended)

Soul Eater

It wasn't just BLEACH that was subjected to these kind of edits. I've also seen this censorship in the series of Soul Eater from Atsushi Ohkubo. Throughout the run of the anime. There were a few provocative scenes that were toned down from the manga versions. Others that were completely cut. It was for the character's Liz, Patty, and especially Blair. Yet, there is one character that seemed to show too much, and it's one you probably wouldn't of expected.


Mizune is a witch from the Soul Eater series. She is actually a group of witches that are as small as children, but when they all fuse together. They form into an adult, busty woman. This fusion was first seen during the Rise of the Kishin arc. When Mizune went up against Blair in her cat form. Her individual selves were getting easily defeated. So, they all combined to create what you can see the the image. Blair retaliated by transforming into her human form, in hot pants.

Nothing was changed much about Blair, but notice Mizune. The top portion of her clothes was extended to cover her breasts completely. This is yet another example of showing that the southern hemisphere is a no fly zone for the eyes when it comes to anime.

The stark contrast of what is or is not allowed in anime was something that caught my attention recently. After I watched the One Piece - Episode 455. In this episode Nico Robin spends the majority of her time with her top completely open. When it comes to cleavage, it seems breasts are allowed to be shown as much as possible. Just check out these examples in the screen shots below from that very episode. If it wasn't for the piece of bread in that one shot. Who knows how much could be seen? (lousy bread)

One Piece Episode 455 - Nico Robin

In closing, I believe we now know the code of when it comes to breasts in anime. Though, it gets more confusing when it comes to bath scenes. In those kind of shots. There is only one particular area that can''t be shown. That's normally covered by conveniently placed steam or long hair, but you get the point. It's just peculiar how some regions are off limits if the others are covered.

The Oppai Code *


  • Cleavage
  • Northern Hemisphere


  • Side Boob
  • Southern Hemisphere

* (Code not valid in hentai series.)


The Turning of Satsuki Kiryuin!

Is Satsuki poised to become the Vegeta of KILL LA KILL...only better?

Anime and manga in general is pretty well filled with powerful villains turned either good or morally ambiguous rivals. Toriyama's DRAGON BALL did this on several occasions. First with Piccolo, Vegeta, Android 18, and Buu. That can even be extended to various other franchises. That's a difficult premise to pull off and keep the character's motivations. Vegeta just stands out to us, because even though he came to the side of the Z-Fighters, he never lost his rivalry with Goku.

As I began watching Trigger's KILL LA KILL series in early October, I went in with a single view of Satsuki Kiryuin. She's dominating, head strong, ruthless, and thought little of humanity that doesn't conform to her ways. That seems to be the impression we have of her for the first few episodes, then Episode 3 "Junketsu" comes along. Slowly cracks in my preconceptions started to develop. Back when Satsuki challenged the friendship between Ryuko and Mako, she walked away smiling as she seemingly failed to break the pair apart and prove the point that humanity are "pigs in human clothing" that are blinded by greed and need taming by force.

I've read some complaints that several of the story flashbacks didn't add much to developing the members of the Elite Four, but was that even their purpose? I actually thought that we learned more about Satsuki. Just through the eyes of others. From her position, she saw people from privilege exploiting others or depending on their parent's influence to avoid the consequences of being a delinquent. Is she wrong that greed corrupts humanity?

When Ryuko lost control of herself as she fought against Nui. Satsuki tried to get through to her with words before she attacked. Even when she was ready to put Ryuko down, she held Nui off to allow Mako to save her. Several days later, she was straight forward to Ryuko and admitted that it was on her orders that Nui went after her father.

With Senketsu's destruction, I'm once again left confused. Satsuki has rescued Ryuko again, but she also took away the scraps of Senketsu. Although, the closing shot shows a single shred is left in her hand, and Aikuro found her carefully covered. As I was thinking back, I started to wonder if that piece was always in Ryuko's hand.

Kill la Kill Ep. 13 - Right hand empty

I went back and watched the episode once more. In all the scenes showing a vulnerable Ryuko, nothing is seen in her right hand until Aikuro finds her. Only then is the piece rather obvious. This is a series that pays attention to the little details. Just look at the episode with the PULP FICTION cameo.

Kill la Kill Ep. 13 - Right hand filled

It could be very likely that the piece was always in her hand, and it just wasn't illustrated. Although, if Satsuki is the sort of person who would cover an enemy, isn't it just as likely that she could have left that piece with her on purpose? I'm not making the claim that she's doing this as some sort of fondness for Ryuko, but she seems to want to keep her around. Likely for some purpose of her own.

Other recent events have also suggested that Satsuki may not be the good little soldier of her mother's organization that earlier episodes had suggested. Even Vegeta played along with Frieza until he had the chance to turn. The biggest difference, Satsuki is far more competent. Think about this. For as much as Ryuko has been fighting, in the end it's only helped to make Satsuki stronger.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt


Japan has the Best Christmas Trees!

The above image is from the Aqua City Odaiba Shopping Mall in Tokyo, Japan. Seems they added something far better than just some run-of-the-mill Christmas tree. They have a huge Godzilla tree decorated with lights, and it even fires out a plume of smoke.

It's a shame we never seen awesome stuff like this in the US. You know if someone did, Fox News would be screaming about the War on Christmas.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt


ONE PIECE in the New York Times!!

Today on November 21, 2013, the NEW YORK TIMES, one of the best selling newspapers in the U.S., hosted an ad for the blockbuster selling manga series, ONE PIECE. This full page ad can be found on Page A15.

This was apparently partially to celebrate ONE PIECE selling over 300 Million copies of Eiichiro Oda's creation. 130 Million of these having been sold since 2009. In every sense of the word, nothing in manga or comics sells quite like this series.

To give a little perspective. Last year, Shueisha published four collected volumes of ONE PIECE and those sold over 23 Million units. It's closest competitor KUROKO NO BASUKE's five volumes of the same year sold just over 8 Million copies. That doesn't even calculate in back issue sales.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt


Drawing Iron Man Gif

Click to see animation

Recently, I was commissioned to draw Iron Man in the movie Mark VII armor in a battle against Kallen Kozuki in the Guren S.E.I.T.E.N. The setting selected was the AVENGERS movie version of Stark Tower. It's been a rather complicated picture.

I've drawn Iron man for this person before, but that was Tony vs. Lelouch Lamperouge with the Shinkirou in the skies above the Tokyo Settlement. The guy who hired me on that commission sent me a photo of several voice actors from the CODE GEASS anime holding the image after they signed it.

To make this new drawing. I first sketched the basic design on paper to work out the pose. I'm not so confident in my skills on a tablet to draw completely digital. I used this pose drawing to sketch the Mark VII armor with blue lines on my tablet in Photoshop Elements. I find that reads the pressure better from my tablet than say Photoshop CS. I then used that as a guide to digitally ink the final version of the armor.

If you click on the image to the right, you can see an image progression showing how the picture evolved. I've also been posting stages of this image in progress on my new Tumblr page.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

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The Creator of DRAGON BALL to Return with a Brand New Series!!

The man who brought us Son Goku has a new story about an alien here to defend the planet.

Akira Toriyama is considered a legend among manga creators. He's the man who brought us Son Goku, Vegeta, and Piccolo. It was his DRAGON BALL series that inspired many of the biggest manga writers and artists of the modern era. If it hadn't been for him, we'd likely have never had characters such as Naruto Uzumaki or Monkey D. Luffy. Toriyama has been mainly out of the game since DRAGON BALL closed back in 1995. He's occasionally published some one-shots, but nothing coming near a regular serialized story. It seems that may be about to change this July.

In the same week that Shueisha's WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP magazine celebrates 45 years in publication, WSJ will be publishing Toriyama's latest series, JACO THE GALACTIC PATROLMAN (銀河パトロール ジャコ, Ginga Patorōru Jako). The only plot details we know so far is that the story revolves around a powerful alien police officer that is stranded on Earth. Almost has a GREEN LANTERN vibe, huh?

It's unknown just how long this series will be lasting. Not every manga series is a 50+ volume epic. Some can be remarkably shorter. I've done some reaching out to some people "in the know", and the only thing they've been able to tell me is that this is not a one-shot.

Chapter one of JACO THE GALACTIC PATROLMAN will be publishing in WSJ on July 15, 2013. What's really exciting is that this will also be published in the official digital edition that's released to the U.S. audience, which is on same day release with Japan. Adding to all the fun is the news that this week Japan's WSJ also expanded its same day digital publication to the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Much of the world is going to get to enjoy this latest manga series about an alien defending the planet.

If you want to join in on this new adventure, be sure to look into downloading the WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP App for your iOS or other devices. I'm reading on the VIZ Media app for my Kindle Fire. The U.S. has a year's subscription to the weekly series for $25.99, and a monthly subscription for all the other regions (UK £1.99 / IRL 2,69€ / AU $2.99 AUD / NZ $4.19 NZD). Single issue sales are also available.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt


Connecting Dots: Jason Todd and Arashi Mikami

Arashi Mikami is the Jason Todd that everyone wanted
Jason Todd

I've often heard on the Comic Vine podcast as the staff have talked about how a series can't have a villain as a primary protagonist. The rationale behind the statement is that they feel that an audience can't get behind a hero that kills. If you're talking about psychopathic villains, I agree. However, I also I fundamentally disagree. It all comes down to the motivation of the character and the courage of the publisher.

Jason Todd is a prime example of a character that has lost much of his potential and what made him unique before he was attached as the lead of his own series. What made Jason interesting is that he disagreed with Batman's approach. He lived and experienced the flaw of the "never kill" mantra. When you look at it from Jason's perspective, he makes a lot of valid points. Keeping certain criminals, such as the Joker, alive is just slowing the tide. He just breaks out to kill more people. All to show Batman that he can. Think of how many innocent people would still be alive if the Joker was dead -- really dead. Who is Batman protecting in this situation, the mother/father that may never get to go home again or himself?

Ultimately, Jason became popular, and the character that was willing to cross the line that Bruce refuses to was lost. Once DC made him the lead of his own title, Jason suddenly started shooting people in the hands and feet. He lost what defined him. The character that saw the flaws in Bruce's methods has been reduced to just a slightly more violent version of Batman. There are enough Batman clones. That isn't redemption. That's a betrayal of his very ideals and beliefs. Here's a little lesson in biology to the audience. A gunshot anywhere on the body is potentially fatal.

Audiences can support a hero that kills. Just look at action movies, such as DIE HARD and INDIANA JONES; or video games along the lines of the TOMB RAIDER and UNCHARTED series. These are heroes that are remorseless killers. Yet people cheer every kill. It's based around how it's done. Killing in the name of defense and protection is an entirely different beast than for personal vengeance or wealth.

Arashi Mikami in action

Now, as I've been reading the manga series TRIAGE X, from Shoji Sato. I can't help but notice that this series has one of the strongest "comic book" vibes I've ever seen in a manga series. You have a town filled with corruption, and a group of masked vigilante killers that work outside of the law. I'm not going to drone on into a synopsis of the series -- go read the wiki for that. I'm here to talk about TRIAGE X's protagonist, Arashi Mikami.

Arashi makes me think of what Jason could be if the publisher hadn't lost their nerve. He doesn't aim for the hands, he aims for the head. He's the latest member of the Black Label team that kills the worst of the worst of the criminal element. There's an evaluation process, and if these killers or mobsters are judged to have no redeeming qualities. They are looked upon as a cancer to be excised.

Even Arashi and Jason's origins have some interesting similarities. When Arashi was eight years-old, he was caught up in a terrorist bombing. He sacrificed his own body shielding his childhood friend, Ryuu. As result, much of his body was devastated, and Ryuu was hardly injured, except for the trauma to his head. Ryuu was brain dead, and his father made the difficult choice to donate his own son's limbs and heart to save Arashi. Arashi wasn't as lucky as Jason to be dipped into a Lazarus Pit. He had years of difficult physical therapy. In Volume 2, Arashi talks about the first time he took a life, and he explains how he can kill and still have a conscience. I'm not going to go into details, but it's impressively deep.

I can't really say if Jason Todd influenced Shoji Sato in the creation of Arashi. I actually find the idea highly unlikely. However, I would like to point out that Arashi's sawed-off shotgun is called the "Double Joker". Take of that what you will. The ways Arashi and Jason are different is that Arashi isn't arrogant and angry. If anything, he's rather emotionally detached. Which comes across as much more believable for someone who's lived through such a trauma at such a young age. He's a person who nearly died and trying to learn what it means to be alive. That makes him a great straight man for the crazy cast surrounding him.

If you're the kind of reader who's tired of a toned down characters. I could recommend TRIAGE X. Sato's art is well known for his detail. and he brings his A game to this one. However, to be able to kill so often means the series has a Mature rating, in Japan it's categorized as a Seinen series. It has some rather graphic violence and some nudity. There are three volumes of the series out in English. I've reviewed the first two volumes.

I hope you enjoyed another in my series of connecting the dots between manga and comics. There is another series that I could recommend that proves you can have a running series about villains, but that's an article for another day. If you have any questions. Feel free to post them in the comments.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt

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MAN OF STEEL's Zod Problem! [Spoilers]

Zod was a bit off in MAN OF STEEL. Just another warning. There will be SPOILERS inside. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Firstly, a quick show of hands. Who figured out that I was using "Zod" for the article title in place of the word "Odd"? Anyone? Okay, moving on.

I am not one of the MAN OF STEEL detractors. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. If anything, I roll my eyes at the idea that Superman should have spent more of the movie's precious time constraints on saving kittens from trees to repeatedly prove what a swell guy he can be. If that's what you want in Superman. Go watch SUPERMAN IV.

A commander who honestly felt he was doing what needed to be done.

A problem that I had was with General Zod, but it had nothing to do with the acting. Michael Shannon was a brilliant case of casting. He portrayed an antagonist that was layered and embodied the follies of Krypton's genetic predetermination policies. He was born, bred, and taught his entire life to be a general that put his people first. He never even considered thinking outside of those constraints. It's in that motivation where I saw a problem with the plot.

Why would Zod want to terraform Earth to a Kryptonian atmosphere? Sure, it's probably one of the more effective ways to wipe out humanity with the least amount of effort. However, both the Earth's gravity and environment granted him and his kind with enhanced strength, flight, super hearing, and heat vision. Those sound like some pretty incredible tactical benefits. The movie even heavily implies that it's more than the yellow sun that gives them power. That's shown when we see Superman lose much of his abilities while on Zod's ship.

What general would give up becoming the weapon?

Yes, they periodically talked about there being a level of painful adjustment to breathing on Earth, but I doubt it would take years, as Zod states in the film. Zod adjusts to both the atmosphere and his powers in a matter of what was probably hours -- in story time. That's not even taking into consideration that they could likely develop a system to incrementally adjust with their technology. He even has evidence that it's possible to completely convert by looking to Clark, who arrived on Earth as an infant.

I just felt that a general would be more focused on trying to make his people even more powerful than before. I've said my piece on the matter. Anyone else find that odd? By the by, there were SPOILERS in this article. Just saying.

-Kristoffer Remmell (FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ FoxxFireArt