A Stroll with the Walking Dead

I am so glad that my adventure in manga didn't work out. I recently began reading the Walking Dead. I know: where the crap have I been? If you follow me then you know I've been stuck in 90's X-Force comics. Regardless, this branching out has been quite the treat. Kirkman writes some compelling stuff. Adlard (and formerly Moore) has been fantastic in depicting everything. I've really learned to pay attention to the drawn details, as they help to hint at events. Here's a "for instance": Why is Thomas the only inmate that doesn't get a full-face shot when he tells what he's doing time for? Many clues and cues are given that I've had to flip back pages and go "What the what? Oh."

One exciting aspect of this new series to read is that I get to seriously overhaul the character pages. They sorely need it. I've only been focusing on the people that have died since they are easier to edit - their lives are already mapped out for me. The ongoing characters (at least for me, I'm still in the prison) have just too much potential for me to go in and edit as I won't know how one event affects another. Only editing deaths is a little morbid, but I think it goes with the territory. Sadly, some pages have one-liners for some really compelling characters. Fixing that. Some pages are fleshed out a bit more but need to meet our relatively new style guide. So, to those that have paved the way before (of note, and especially ) thanks, but I'm going to enhance your stuff.

(As an aside, I've seen some truly hilarious aliases attached to some character pages by people looking for quick, lame points. Allen had an alias of "Donna's Husband." Really? Martinez was "Martinez from Woodbury." As if the characters of the comic needed to differentiate between multiple Martinezes.)

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When the Wiki Points Just Aren't Worth It: An Adventure in Manga

I very lately took on a very rash project: read a manga and put its universe in our database. I picked one at random. I have never read a manga before and so I took a recommendation. Eiken was the series and it sounded interesting: a boy is chosen to join a club of attractive ladies; he likes one of them; no one knows what the club does. That sounds like a lot to build an interesting story around. I noticed our Eiken pages were basically blank and I looked forward to being the one to add the character pages and flesh them out. The synopses on the issues pages would be long, as each volume contained between six and eight chapters. This was to be a big project that I anticipated would get me over 50,000 points easily. (In all honesty, it probably would have been closer to 75k.)

I first added all the plot summaries. Tasty, easy points there. Then I busted open the first volume. This was my first problem since I had never read a manga before. The right to left - even with the speech bubbles - was at first confusing. I got the hang of it and proceeded to write out a synopsis of the first chapter. It was long (and length is the same as massive points). After seven chapters I had just over 1,500 points on one volume alone. If each volume had the potential for a similar synopsis then I was already looking at close to 27,000 points. Healthy.

Another problem cropped up, however, and that was the content of Eiken. I'll begin with the structure and move on to the themes. I recognize that first issues/volumes need a bit of leeway to allow the author to introduce the characters and establish some sort of direction for the series. I understand that each chapter in the first volume was dedicated to getting the main character (and, by extension, the reader) introduced to each club member. I accepted that the main story of the club's purpose was put on the back-burner for all this. The thing that got me was that the second volume continued putting off the story for cutesy anecdotes about the members. Oddly enough, the characters that are specially and specifically introduced are pushed to the background, only appearing when a line or plot devise can't be effected by the main three characters.

Themes: There is so much wasted potential here. First off, the main guy Densuke has a crush on school hottie Chiharu. This is obvious because he has sexual thoughts of her constantly. He gets waylaid, however, by a host of other girls that would have a legitimate shot with him. Kirika has an episode in which she shows that she can be the perfect girl. This gets swept aside when her actions were based on a fever. A teacher suffers from the same type of no-namedness as Densuke, a seemingly match made in heaven. This is explored little. All this opposition to Densuke's love for Chiharu would be fascinating if there were any indication that Chiharu had feelings for Densuke. As it is, the reader can't help but wonder what Densuke sees in the girl that is hardly ever in the book and has very few lines.

And here's the straw that breaks the camel's back. I hate the exploitation of the women in this book. Densuke has a propensity for accidentally grabbing the various sets of massive boobs or having his face land in someone's butt. It's meant to be funny, but how many times in one chapter can this happen and the reader still be expected to laugh at the same gaffe in the next? (I just looked in a chapter in a volume far into the series and the same shenanigans are still being played.) Not only is the joke old by the second volume, but Densuke doesn't keep his accidents to the older women but he also stumbles into girls far, far younger. He grabs their butts and ogles a sixth grader's very, very large breasts. And the book does its very best to make sure that sexual situations are frequent. A trip to a spa, a girls' locker room, barging in on someone changing, girls falling over and having their skirts flipped up, and on, and on, and on.

All-in-all, I can't bring myself to continue reading this book. I don't care about the characters enough to make their pages (scans already deleted). The points just aren't enough to get me to finish the series. And they would be easy points. I just hate that I have the first volume as one of my top edits.

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Stifling the Boredom

I think a requisite for some law classes is absolute and utter lack of flare. At least it seems that way. Sure, Professional Responsibility is important in a highly regulated field, but let's spice it up a bit! With dry content and the Dean of the school teaching the class, I have to find ways to stay alert. Here was today's attempt at keeping my eyes open while taking notes.

Fatal Swipe
One of These Men is a Zombie

On to reading for Family Law...

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More Pain

Broken

Villains are often broken individuals. Some event has happened that gets them wanting revenge or attention, only this is sought in negative ways (negative to us "normal" people). This is easy to see in the likes of Magneto, the Morlocks, and myriad others. Magneto, for instance, suffered through the holocaust, learned he was a mutant, and then experienced genocidal-like hatred all over again. His views of society were broken (this is obviously a remark from when Magneto was actually a legitimate bad guy) and he did everything in his power to subjugate humans. The Morlocks were just ugly or perverse individuals and they lashed out as they saw fit. These people were broken and did bad things. It's seldom, however, to get broken people doing bad things only to be broken again. That is what I love about this scan. Stryfe always felt betrayed by his "parents." He finally gets them in his power and gets up the nerve to confront them when they pass out. It's his time, though, so he orders them to obey him - much like a child that doesn't understand how life works. (In fact, this is exactly how Stryfe was portrayed throughout the X-Cutioner's Song.) It's tragic. Here is a man who thinks he's been in the right by knowingly doing the wrong and, when his big moment comes, can't find any bit of success. That last image of him breaking down is incredibly powerful.

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Simply Great Panels, Number Four

I feel like Razzatazz in how I'm posting more than one blog in a day.

It's not a shocker to those who have seen my reviews on the X-Factor issues of the X-Cutioner's Song that I love Jae Lee's work in those issues. His pencils perfectly accentuate the darkness that exuded from those stories. The following are just some of my favorites and they are sprinkled throughout X-Factor #86.

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As gritty as the rest of the comic is and how well Lee portrays it, his depiction of boredom is brilliant. I wish more issues I read had him as a regular artist.

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The Forced Plot Device: The Precipice

You have probably seen this scene before:

A Dangerous Precipice

Me, I hate this scene (taken from Uncanny X-Men #296, part of the X-Cutioner's Song). Why in all of the world is this balcony there? There's nothing to look at, so it's not some observation point. And a further look shows that balconies like the one Cyclops and Jean Grey are on dot this part of the moon base. Maybe the balcony exists to look upon other people running to similarly situated balconies. One thing is for certain: if the henchmen of any bad guy (like Stryfe or even Darth Vader) chases you to one of these worthless architectural anomalies then you are most certainly screwed. Where are you going to go? There aren't any bridges, fool!

And this is where you step in and state that the characters are hardly ever truly stuck in these situations. Here, Jean makes a teke-rope and she and Cyclops swing across the chasm while Mainframe (or Storm Toopers, if you are still stuck on Star Wars) randomly shoots at them and misses. Then again, we wouldn't get this sweet moment between the two if it weren't for the dangerous precipice.

A Heroic Feat

It's tacky. It's cliche. It's completely predictable. Now, the scene later on when they find a baby hooked up to the machinery of the moon base, that is a brilliant plot twist! This, this was filler. These situations don't exist in any of the moon bases that I've visited; I'm sure the bases you've seen, moon or otherwise, have never employed such wasted space. But, the comics still use this plot device from time to time to try and get our pulses pumping. Not working, bros. Not working.

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Thought Bubble: A Thief's Tale

This blog is part two in a three-part series based on the Thought Bubble anthology released by Image. You really won't get the content unless you've read the stories, as I won't be talking about plots in depth.

"A Thief's Tale" would have you believe that he guy is somehow a genius. The story is set up that the apples are being reserved for the gods. Only they can have them and that is what makes them immortal. Some schlub sneaks in and takes their apples and becomes a god himself. Rags to riches, no?

This guy is a complete creep. Exhibit A.

Ne'er-Do-Well

The men in the foreground are discussing the sad state of the apples on Earth. The man in the background simply listens on as the the men state that the gods have the immortal apples and there is only one way to get to them. One would think: Ah, the man is being resourceful. Nah, he's being a creep.

Exhibit B.

Shadowy Stowaway

Homeboy puts on some shadow dust and waits for the gods to ride by. He then grabs onto a horses tale and gets a free ride to the land of the gods. One would think: Ah, the man is being resourceful. Nah, he's still just using the work of others to profit for himself.

To put the stamp on this guy's selfishness and jerkiness, he gets the apples and returns to Earth. In one of the apples he sees the gods sleeping. They grow older as the immortality granting apple is brought closer to the thief's mouth. He sees one get up and see herself in the mirror. He gladly takes a bite, knowing that stealing her apple has consigned her to death. The reader knows that this "resourceful" thief will now become immortal. A veritable god.

This is my problem: This man did not accomplish some heroic feat. He did not formally earn his way into the ranks of gods, showing that he was more worthy than the mere mortals he had been living with. He eavesdropped, stowed away, and then knowingly killed some hot lady by eating her apple. I feel bad for whomever gets that guy as their god because there is no telling what he'd do to get his way.

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Thought Bubble: Rat Trap

This blog is part one in a series based on the Thought Bubble anthology released by Image. You really won't get the content unless you've read the stories, as I won't be talking about plots in depth.

"Rat Trap" was a very interesting introduction into this anthology. It immediately hits you over the head with a foreign scenario. Two men meet over a dead body. The culture of these "runners" is to strip dead bodies. They are nomads and they generally leave each other alone. Here, however, one runner has bumped into another runner who is already pilfering a body.

My first reaction was that the reader is given an adequate idea of the etiquette that these runners live by - they only take from the dead - yet someone shows up and decides to take from a fellow runner, as well. A death threat is issued and it appears that this scavenger is no longer content with being a passive collector but wants to enter a profession that is more proactive. He'd rather kill to get things quicker. Fortunately, the other man simply gives up his stuff and walks away. The aggressive runner begins to rummage through his now two-fold loot when he trips a bear trap that snaps his leg and keeps him pinned to the ground. The passive runner returns and, deeming the aggressive Other not worthy of saving, takes his stuff and leaves. I thought this fitting. You get what you tried to dish out.

Runner

Then I recalled the slight "chnk" that alerted the aggressive runner in the first place. This collection of comic tales are to be read like comics in general, but also with a short story mentality. With so little space to convey the message, everything added must be looked at as being integral to the plot. There is only the one sound. As the passive runner goes through the dead man's things it seems that he only makes the one distinct "chnk" noise. No others. Nothing is shown and we can't assume other sounds drew the one runner to the other. Couple this noise with the bear trap. When the trap is triggered the passive runner returns and explains that good runners know to check the areas around dead bodies for any danger. How far off would it be to assume that the passive runner set that bear trap?

But wait, doesn't this fly in the face of the code the passive runner claimed to still live by? He essentially killed that guy. Maybe this understood code of conduct isn't so well followed after all.

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