Per Aspera Ad Astra: Doctor Aphra #1 (review)

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1
Marvel Comics, December 07, 2016
Writer: Kieron Gillen

“Doctor Aphra” #1 marks the start of a new ongoing series from American publisher Marvel Comics’ line of “Star Wars” comic books (facilitated by multinational entertainment company Disney’s ownership of both Marvel Comics and Lucasfilms Ltd, the latter being the corporate vehicle for the Star Wars properties).

The title features a female character created originally as a side character in the recently published “Darth Vader” comic book series. The character is, curiously, a rogue archaeologist (which should be a concept overflowing with potential, given the setting). She is characterized as a technological and mechanical savant, an above average marksman, and a risk-taker only kept alive by quick wits and willingness to commit morally dubious acts. Despite (or perhaps because of) the conceptual similarity to the “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” franchise, Aphra stands out as one of the few likeable antiheroes in a franchise full of characters that only deal in moral absolutes. Continue reading Per Aspera Ad Astra: Doctor Aphra #1 (review)

Review: Batman Annual #1 (2016)

Batman Annual #1 (2016)
DC Comics, November 30, 2016
Writers: Scott Bryan Wilson, Steve Orlando, Paul Dini, Scott Snyder, Tom King

The quintet of stories that collectively make up the 40-pages of 2016’s Batman Annual #1 all have the holiday season as their unifying theme, showcasing an impressive lineup of scribes that had a hand in shaping the classic and modern versions of the Batman character. With only a limited amount of pages allotted for each story, it is understandable that none of the stories can be considered an example of each of the writers’ best work. Fortunately all of the stories, save for one (which we address below), are meant to be lighthearted and tonally appropriate for the holiday season, and so quality of writing happily gives way to Christmas cheer. Continue reading Review: Batman Annual #1 (2016)

Russians in Comic Books

As tensions between the West and Russia have dramatically increased in the past year, so too has the characterisation of Russia in Western comic books.

As we discuss below, most of Western comics’ attention this century has been directed towards the menace of the Soviet Union and its state-sponsored spread of communism as an ideology and a system of government antithetical to Western democracy and capitalism. But in the past five years, particularly, there is a new orientation towards perceptions of Russia in comic books.

In addition, we also take a quick look at the contemporary Russian comic book industry, and its penchant for copying American concepts.

1. Vladimir Putin and Post-Soviet Russia

A brief rundown of the geopolitical sequence of events leading to where we are now is worthwhile: Continue reading Russians in Comic Books

Zsazsa Zaturnnah’s Marvelous Adventure (Review)

Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah
Self-Published (2002)/Visual Print Enterprises, 2004 (Graphic Novel)
Author: Carlo Vergara

Carlo Vergara’s “Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah” (in English, “Zsazsa Zaturnnah’s Marvelous Adventure”) was originally released as a two-part, independently-published miniseries in 2002, before being picked up later by Philippine book publisher Visual Print Enterprises and re-released as a trade paperback graphic novel to a much wider audience. The comic attracted attention from mainstream media and built a big enough fanbase to warrant a live-action film and theater adaptation.

“Zsazsa Zaturnnah” is a spoof of a classic Filipino superhero named “Darna”. A blatant amalgamation of influences from Fawcett Comics’ Captain Marvel (this character is the subject of litigation for ten years in the 1940s and 1950s over allegations that it was a copy of Superman) and DC’s Wonder Woman, “Darna” is a poverty-stricken, crippled young woman who, upon swallowing a small stone that fell from outer space, turns into an adult superheroine with inhuman strength, speed, powers of flight, and metal cuff bracelets that can deflect bullets or energy projectiles. Continue reading Zsazsa Zaturnnah’s Marvelous Adventure (Review)