Squarriors Volume 1: Spring Review by Eugene Alejandro

The entire Squarriors series takes place in a setting in which all the humans on Earth have become extinct, and the animals (at least the ones we see in Rural Illinois) have gained enough intelligence to speak like humans, craft weapons, make clothing, and live in tribal societies. This story arc is set in the season of Spring in the year 1996, and the it’s about 4 clans called the Tin Kin, the Sursha, the Maw, and the Amoni (while the Tin Kin, Sursha, and Maw are primarily ruled by Squirrels, the Amoni are completely ruled by Domestic Cats). While the Sursha, and Tin Kin tribes get along with each other, the Maw, and the Amoni are not only at war with each other, but are at war with the Tin Kin, and Sursha tribes because of their differences on how they choose to live their lives (essentially, this story is all about the the Tin Kin, and Sursha fighting against the Maw, in which the Amoni decide to want to kill all 3 of them so that they may rule the forest without another tribe being in their way).

While this idea for a comic book may sound utterly ridiculous to some people at first, Squarriors succeeds in executing it because the creators “Team Ash” (Ash Maczko the writer and Ashley Marie Witter the artist) did a fantastic job at making Squarriors a fun series that has very good writing and awesome art, and Squarriors Volume 1: Spring is a brilliant introduction.

Ash Maczko’s storytelling is top-notch as he is able to create a very new and unique world with interesting characters that works well in a post-apocalyptic story about animals without it misfiring.

The artwork by Ashley Marie Witter is without a doubt some of the greatest comic book art of all time. All the characters and backgrounds have lots of good detail to them to the point where they look real (especially in one panel that has a bunch of Cats from the Amoni tribe leaping out to attack a bunch of Squirrels. The cats look like ordinary Cats you’d see in real life), and the way that the gore is illustrated is great enough to help show the story’s dark tone.

An important thing to note about Squarriors Volume 1: Spring is that it’s a 4 issue mini series, and each issue begins with short stories that are set in the years 1985-1986 (ten and eleven years before the current story), and focus on human characters. The reason why this exists in the beginning of each issue is because it’s meant to foreshadow what led mankind to become extinct. My opinion on these short stories is that while they don’t explain too much about how and why all the humans are dead in the current story of Squarriors, they work very well as foreshadowing to the answer.

After all that I have just said about Squarriors Volume 1: Spring, it is a very entertaining creator-owned comic with a good story and outstanding artwork that graces the independent comic book market that no fan of comics should miss.

I give Squarriors Volume 1: Spring Two Thumbs Up, and 4/5 Stars.

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Dragon Age: Redemption Review by Eugene Alejandro

The story in Dragon Age: Redemption is about a female elf named Tallis (also called Athlok, and is played by Felicia Day) who is given a mission by the group she serves called the Qun (ruled by a race of tall horned humanoids called Qunari) in which she must capture and bring back a rebel Qunari mage (played by Doug Jones). While on her journey, she comes across a Templar (soldier of The Chantry) named Cairin (played by Adam Rayner) who is also hunting down the Qunari mage, but wants to bring him to The Chantry. Tallis also meets a Dalish elf mage named Josmael (played by Masam Holden) who wants to join her and Cairin in finding the Qunari mage so that he save his soon-to-be wife Fina (she was kidnapped by the mage and his gang, and is played by Marissa Cuevas). There’s more in the story than what I just told, but I feel it’s best that I just made a small summary of it so that I don’t spoil it.

The best way that I can describe Dragon Age: Redemption is that it’s a fun web series that fans of the Dragon Age franchise will enjoy thanks to its clever and witty writing, great performances from the entire cast, and outstanding practical effects that show that is was made with effort, care, and passion.

Not only does Felicia Day star in this, but she also created and wrote it (the director is Peter Winther), and she’s proven herself to very talented as her acting is great, and the way the story is written also helps the fact that she’s a good storyteller. The lighthearted tone also fits well, and is never a distraction from the serious moments (which is surprising since Dragon Age is known for having a dark and mature tone to it).

The special effects in Dragon Age: Redemption are phenomenal to look at (especially the practical effects). The makeup on the Qunari is top-notch as they look very real. The only not good effects are the blood as it’s obviously made from computer graphics and doesn’t look convincing.

Another thing I want to say is that despite Dragon Age: Redemption being a six episode web series with each episode being around 9 to 10 minutes long, the pacing is very solid and never feels rushed (which is always a good thing), and the character development is very good.

Dragon Age: Redemption is an entertaining web series that should never be ignored as it has great characters, good production values, and clever writing. The whole show is available to watch on YouTube for free.

I give Dragon Age: Redemption 4/5 Stars, and 2 Thumbs Up.

Dragon Age: Dawn of The Seeker Review by Eugene Alejandro

While I will admit that I haven’t played all the games in the Dragon Age franchise (I’ve only played Dragon Age: Inquisition), I have become every educated about its lore thanks to me reading about it on the Dragon Age Wiki. From what I have read, it’s a truly fascinating fantasy setting, and I can understand why it has become such a big video game franchise. With that said, with such a large video game series, it makes sense for there to be a movie based on it. What we got, was a animated film called Dragon Age: Dawn of The Seeker.

The plot in Dragon Age: Dawn of The Seeker is that a seeker (a special soldier that serves the religion titled The Chantry) named Cassandra Pentaghast has become involved in a conspiracy in which someone within The Chantry is secretly working with Blood Mages to use a young elf girl that has the power to control animals in order to control Dragons to destroy The Chantry. It is up to her, and a mage from The Circle of Magi named Regalyan D’Marcall (or Galyan for short) to investigate the conspiracy, and save The Chantry.

Dragon Age: Dawn of The Seeker has an interesting story and good voice acting, but it’s overshadowed by the very bland and semi-rushed looking computer animation in it to where it is an example of what I like to call substance over style.

What I mean about the animation is that while the backgrounds, landscapes, and dragons look fine, it is the animation for the characters that’s unappealing as the character models are not rendered well enough. The horses are even worse as they look like moving plastic figures.

As I said earlier about the story, it’s an interesting plot for sure, but it’s not one of the most original ideas of all time and can sometimes be predictable.

The movie’s voice acting (as I also said earlier) is good. I should also clarify that I’m actually reviewing the film’s English Dub which is done by Funimation (the movie was originally made in Japan). The voice actors do a spectacular job with the roles they are given, and all the voices matched the characters.

Overall, Dragon Age: Dawn of The Seeker is an average addition to the Dragon Age franchise that I wouldn’t mind giving any Dragon Age fan a watch. Just bear in mind about its unappealing cell-shaded animation.

I give Dragon Age: Dawn of The Seeker 3/5 Stars.

Kung Fury Review by Eugene Alejandro

Kung Fury (directed and written by David Sandberg) is a short film that is a brilliant homage to movies made during the 1980’s that any fan of that decade of cinema with love with a passion.

Kung Fury’s plot is about a detective from Miami literally named Kung Fury who has been given kung fu powers from a strike of lighting and a bite of a cobra, and is determined to use his kung fu powers for good and stop Adolf Hitler (who is called the Kung Fuhrer in this movie) from killing him in order to obtain his powers by time traveling to Nazi Germany and killing Hitler before then. With the help of Kung Fury’s allies Hacker-Man, Thor (not the Marvel one), Triceracop, Barbarianna, and Katana, he will be able to sucessfully stop Hitlers evil plan, and save the world.

The reason why Kung Fury is an awesome film is because it contains all the elements it needs in order to be a phenomenal homage to 1980’s movies without it feeling rushed and forced, and it’s all thanks to David Sandberg’s top notch directing and writing.

The acting from all the actors and actresses (including David Sandberg himself) in this movie show how good their acting talent is, and why they need to be casted in more roles from now on.

Despite the short film’s low budget of only $630,019, the movie manages to look professionally made, and shows how much effort went into making it (which is a very good thing).

In conclusion, If your a fan of 1980’s movies and want to watch a short film that fabulously homages that decade of movie making, Kung Fury is for you.

I give Kung Fury 5/5 Stars, and 2 Thumbs Up.

Kaijumax Season One Review by Eugene Alejandro

Zander Cannon’s Oni Press series Kaijumax is an awesome and ambitious blend of giant monsters, tokusatsu, and prison drama that will satisfy fans of all those genres.

The story in Kaijumax Season One is about a kaiju named Electrogop who is sent to a prison island where kaijus are taken to called Kaijumax that is controlled by space superheros (characters inspired and influenced by Ultraman) where he tries his best to survive in it, and find a way to escape the island and look for his children. While that is the main story, there are multiple subplots that go along with it, but I won’t say what they are because I want you read this graphic novel and be surprised to know what they are (if you haven’t read it already that is). The ending is also a good set-up for Kaijumax Season Two.

The reason why Kaijumax works very well as prison drama with giant monsters in it that contains more than one plot is because Zander Cannon did an excellent job at executing the concept without it all feeling convoluted and hard to follow because his writing is very good. Each character in Kaijumax Season One also has great development to them (which shows that Zander Cannon is skilled at creating and writing characters). Kaijumax is also a series that proves Zander Cannon’s love for the kaiju and tokusatsu genres as every character is either a kaiju or someone that can transform into a giant humanoid being in order to combat the kaiju (just like in the Ultraman franchise).

Zander Cannon’s artwork in Kaijumax has a typical cartoon-looking style to it, but it surprisingly works well even with the parts of the story that are very dark, intense, and gruesome. The characters and everything else are also illustrated perfectly.

If you are a huge fan of kaiju, tokusatsu, or both, and want to read a comic that brilliantly combines those two genres into a prison drama, Kaijumax Season One by Zander Cannon is the story for you.

I give Kaijumax Season One 4/5 Stars, and 2 Thumbs Up.

Why Go Nagai Has Inspired Me

Go Nagai is a man in the manga industry that has made a huge impact in my life. Without him, I wouldn’t even want to strive to be a talented individual in the comic book industry, as well as a online writer. For he has shown me that talent, passion, and ambition can lead not only to huge success, but also contribution.

Go Nagai’s work has made a huge impact so much that without him, anime and manga (and some other stuff outside of Japan) would not be what it is right now. Some examples of his work are Demon Lord Dante, Devilman, Cutie Honey, Mazinger Z, Violence Jack, Devil Lady, and Shameless School. Devilman, Cutie Honey, Shameless School, and Mazinger Z have contributed greatly to the culture of Japan.

Shameless School is the first manga to feature erotic (but not pornographic) content (which is a genre that’s now called Ecchi). Mazinger Z is the very first mecha story to have a pilot operate a giant mech from the inside (which would lead to other popular and successful mecha franchises such as Gundam, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Pacific Rim just to name a few).

Cutie Honey is the first manga in the Magical Girl genre that invented extended transformation sequences (which is the reason why Sailor Moon and Kill La Kill exist and why they are what they are), and It’s also the first shonen manga to have a female protagonist.

Devilman is a superhero horror manga that despite it’s shocking content at the time of it being published (gore, nudity, demons, apocalyptic scenario, and religious themes) it was a huge success that would go on to inspire other manga just like it (examples of this are Kentaro Miura’s Berserk, Kouta Hirano’s Hellsing, Hitoshi Iwaaki’s Parasyte, and Kazushi Hagiwara’s Bastard).

Go Nagai collaborated with another manga creator named Ken Ishikawa to create a mecha series called Getter Robo. Just like Mazinger Z, Getter Robo contributed to the mecha genre as it’s the very first mecha series to have machines combine together to create a giant robot.

I’ll even go as far as to say that Getter Robo inspired Voltron, Power Rangers, and Transformers because of this.

Despite the fact that Go Nagai’s work has made a enormous contribution to Japanese culture, he has received controversy from the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) at the time. Since his work was made during the 1960’s-1970’s the PTA was mad at him for including graphic violence, sexual content, and other mature themes in his manga as during the 1960’s-1970’s, that kind of stuff was never featured in any other manga before. Which is the reason why the PTA was offended to see Go Nagai’s manga feature that material for the first time.

Despite the controversy, Go Nagai never gave up, and he continued to do what he loved despite the PTA’s complaints (he even made a manga called The Abashiri Family as a harsh response to the PTA as that manga featured a lot of inappropriate content in it).

Go Nagai’s other manga Demon Lord Dante is controversial because the story of it is that God is an alien invader that takes over the Earth, and destroys futuristic utopia depictions of Sodom and Gomorrah. It also portrays Satan, Satanists, and demons as being good, while God and his followers are portrayed as being evil.

Now with all the info about Go Nagai that I have said, your all probably wondering why he as inspired me. Go Nagai has inspired me because not only do I love his writing and artwork (I really want to be a good writer like he is in the future), but also his fascinating metaphors that some of his manga has, and that he is ambitious and never afraid to tell stories he wants to tell. Devilman is a metaphor as it’s a anti-war story. It’s an anti-war story because of the idea of demons merging with humans against their will is symbolic to when back then (and even now in some places in the world), some people were drafted into the army (meaning they were forced to be soldiers). And the part of the story were a supporting character dies was to show the end of peace. Go Nagai even explains that Devilman is a work of anti-war when he said “There is no justice in war, any war. Nor is there any justification for humans being killed by one another. Devilman carries a message of warning, as we step toward a bright future.

Much later in his career, Go Nagai made a manga that lasted all the way from 1997-2000 called Devilman Lady (or as I like to call it by it’s English title; Devil Lady) as that manga features beings called Devilbeasts which are humans that mutant into demonic looking animals. The reason why some people become Devilbeasts is because they want to satisfy their hunger, their desire for power, their lust, and many other things. The first volume of Devil Lady even gives a fascinating theory that because of this, the Devilbeasts are the next stage of human evolution. The reason why I find this fascinating is because I understood it as being a metaphor for what will become of humanity in the future as humans tend to have their own desires that will cause them to change in a bad way, and the Devilbeasts being wild hideous savage monsters that were once normal humans is a metaphor of humanity’s desires ruining itself. While Go Nagai himself has never claimed the Devilbeasts to be a metaphor for humanity’s change (at least to my knowledge), I was able to understand that it was. I’ve also come to theorize that some people turning into Devilbeasts in Devil Lady could also have been influenced by the legend behind the Wendigo in which that monster is the result of some humans having the desire to consume human flesh, or they just become too filled by their own greed and other evil actions.

Go Nagai was inspired by Playboy Magazine, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, the Venus de Milo statue, and the Lost World by Osamu Tezuka (the creator of Astro Boy).

Despite the popularity of Go Nagai (and his work), none of his manga have been officially translated and sold in English. The only way to read some of his manga in English is to go to scanalation sites that have some of his manga translated into English (which is what I did in order to read some of his manga). However, thanks to a company called Seven Seas Entertainment, that’s about to change for the best.

Go Nagai is to manga and anime, what Stan Lee, Todd Mcfarlane, Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, Walter Simonson, Brian Michael Bendis, Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Joe Simon, Frank Miller, Neal Adams, Alan Moore, Alex Ross, George Perez, Neil Gaiman, Kevin Eastman, Jim Shooter, Michael Turner, Steve Ditko, Jerry Siegel, Jack Kirby, Bob Layton, Dennis O’Neil, John Byrne, Joe Shuster, Marv Wolfman, Will Eisner, Mark Waid, and Howard Chaykin are to American comics because just like Go Nagai, all the other individuals that I just mentioned have made brilliant contributions to the comic book industry that will always be remembered and not forgotten.

I’ll go as far as to say that without Go Nagai, we wouldn’t have famous manga/anime franchises such as Dragon Ball, One Piece, Attack on Titan, Bleach, Naruto, Ghost in the Shell, The Seven Deadly Sins, Trigun, Soul Eater, Akira, Ninja Scroll, and Full Metal Alchemist. Your all probably wondering what is my favorite manga that Go Nagai has made. The answer to that question is none other than the 1972-1973 five volume manga series Devilman.

The reason why Devilman is my all time favorite manga from Go Nagai is because I said so. I’m just kidding. The reason why Devilman is my favorite Go Nagai manga is because I love it’s complex, metaphorical, and ambitious storytelling, it’s outstanding artwork, it’s perfect blend of dark, violent, light hearted, and depressing tones, it’s plot twists, and the amazing impact it made to the manga/anime industry.

To me, Devilman will always be remembered as one of (if not) the best example of literature that I have ever read in my life. And so for all that, Go Nagai (and his manga series Devilman) have truly inspired me to be just as talented, passionate, and ambitious as he is. Go Nagai, I thank you for inspiring me. Your work will never be forgotten. Instead, it will always be remembered by both me, and the whole world.

Incarnate Review by Eugene Alejandro

No other form of comic book literature has made me despise a comic so much. Not only because of its bad writing and bad artwork, but also because of the fact that it is a work of plagiarism by the son of a celebrity that somehow got accepted and sold by an official comic book publisher back in the year 2009 (it did however, thankfully get called out for plagiarism afterwords, and is no longer continuing). The comic that I am talking about is Incarnate. Created, written, and illustrated by Nick Simmons (the son of former rock star Gene Simmons).

Incarnate has a story that (for the most part) is ripped-off from Kouta Hirano’s Hellsing, and the artwork (for a majority of the time) consists of panels that are traced from Tite Kubo’s Bleach (one of the panels even looks like it was traced from Deadman Wonderland), and a lot of characters have designs copied from Bleach, Hellsing, and even Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece (at least for one character).

The writing in Incarnate feels like nothing more than poorly written fan fiction as the characters don’t have very good development to them, and the dialogue is simply terrible.

The artwork is very juvenile looking as sometimes, the characters will look very disproportionate and inconsistent by having arms and/or legs that are much longer than they already looked before in previous panels, and the females characters have bodies that are way too skinny. The way the characters look and the manga-like art style in general also doesn’t fit the tone of Incarnate (at least in my opinion). The only good things that I can say about the art are that the backgrounds are okay to look at, the coloring by Brian Buccellato and Dami Digital is very vibrant and clear, and Matt Dalton did a solid job inking over Nick Simmons’s pencils.

While this doesn’t have anything to with the story and art, the cover art for all 3 issues by Jo Chen is amazing to look at, and is actually much better drawn than the interior art (especially since it isn’t traced from anything). 

After all that I can say about Incarnate, it is a comic that I recommend never reading, and never spending money on as it is both poorly written and drawn, and contains numerous acts of plagiarism that are unforgivable.

I give Incarnate 1/5 Stars, and Two Thumbs Down.