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Review: Galaxy Quest – The Journey Continues

I’m back from vacation and that means I read a lot of comic books. Here’s a review of one of them.

Galaxy Quest: The Journey Continues

GalaxyQuest

Writer – Erik Burnham, Artists – Nacho Arranz, Roger Robinson

I was pretty excited when I heard this series was coming out, and doubly so when it was available on NetGalley. Galaxy Quest is one my favorite camp movies and we just recently watched it after the passing of Alan Rickman (probably not the most fitting tribute but to each his own). So perhaps my disappointment with this comic series is due to high expectations, but I’ll leave that for you to judge.

The comic series picks up several years after the events of the movie. The cast is still together and are doing the Con circuit in anticipation of the third season of the new show. The security guy is contemplating a spin off series, a move that is annoying some of the main cast, blah blah TV machinations.

The main story involves the consequences of using the Omega 13 in the movie. An alien race that managed to lead a successful revolt against a technocratic oppressive government, fails when the timeline is reset and the government is able to repel the rebellion. Members of the rebellion enlist the Galaxy Quest crew (plus the Apple commercial kid) to take down a super-weapon and correct the mistake they caused. I think this was an interesting set up premise, that then failed in execution.

This comic had several execution problems starting with a Deus Ex Machina ending. Apparently humans are immune to the death ray thingy for “reasons” and so are able to destroy it without a hitch (spoiler?). The B-plot of aliens posing as the main crew at the cons is underdeveloped and could have been a real source of humor which the comic largely lacked. Also, the lack of likeness rights made it difficult to tell characters apart (particularly when not in their makeup). And Burnham’s writing of Rickman in particular reduced that character to griping the entire time. Perhaps in the hands of Rickman the lines would have come across better, but he didn’t seem quite as pouty in the movie, at least to me.

The setup at the end for “continuing adventures” borrows the plotline from the beginning of the four issue arc, and seems like a rushed attempt to make this a continuing series, which I doubt it will be. BTW, the transporter body switching gag was not as funny as they’d hoped it was. Futurama’s return did a similar episode to much better effect (particularly Scruffy’s appearance at the end). The comic tried to do some callbacks (fan-service) to the movie, but these came across just as references and not as actual humor.

IDW’s doing a run of “nostalgia comics” from Ghostbusters, to Back to the Future, and Galaxy Quest, to varying effect. Of those three, I’d say this was the worst of the lot.

(2.5 Stars | I’ll give it a three on NetGalley, but you’re better off just re-watching the movie)

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Manga Madness

Well, I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks now, and finally have a good morning to sit down and do it. As I’m typing my fingers are being gently massaged by my vibrating keyboard as my laptop does burns. Again, these are all books I received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, including Pride and Prejudice which I actually had to request (more on that later).

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Anomalby Nukuharu

51uYmefdybLThis is actually a collection of stories from indie Japanese Authors, published by Gen Manga Entertainment. The cover story is so-so, featuring a man with a hundred eyes all over his body helping a man to see, but then holding that gift over him. “You know those eyes I gave you? Pretty great huh?” We’ve got a detective who solves crimes by reenacting the actions of the murderer and victim with his male partner (so if you like a little yaoi action there you go). The later stories are more interesting, in part because they stray into weirder territory that seems very distinctly Japanese.

Next is a man falling in love with a demon (yokai), who he’s known since childhood. She mainly loves for him for the delicious spells he utters, and even gives him the chance to turn back the clock when he is nearly killed by demon spirits, to live his life again happier. But my personal favorite of the collection is the girl who wants to hug demons (even if they don’t want to be hugged). To accomplish this goal she tries to become head of the demons with the help of her guide, who also happens to be her schoolmate. In this case the demons possess a human carrier, and manifest by being vaguely ghostly creatures with cute pig eyes, a jagged mouth, and little horns. What’s not to love?

The translation on a few of these might be a little rushed, and admittedly none of this is top-grade material. But the art is excellent and varied between the different authors, and the dialog is punchy in spots. There’s probably something for everyone to love in this collection. Most of the stories have a pretty light touch, so don’t expect horror in the traditional sense as you might have assumed from the product description. (4 out 0f 5)

Outlaws of the Marsh (Volume 1)by Wei Dong Chen

51TAHRbPsBLThis is a manga adaptation of an ancient Chinese epic (which is sometimes also known as the Water Margin). This is an epic in every sense of the word (the Amazon copy of one of the more well-known translations of this story is 2008 pages, the sample alone feels like a book). 108 spirits are let out into the world and must be defeated.

The main story revolves around Jin Shi, as he goes from being a brash young man to a trained and disciplined fighter. There have been many inspired manga adaptations of this story, including Outlaw Star (a sci-fi Anime in the vein of Cowboy Bebop). This title does not live up to some of the other works in this genre. It is clearly aimed at children, and the dialogue is painful. Just about every awful foreign film trope is in here. Presumably the original is in better shape, though it’s hard to tell.

The artwork is blurry and again looks like something out of a child’s picture book. Even in the action sequences, you get little sense of the motion of the characters, and their expressions rarely vary. The main benefit to this story is making me aware of the longer epic which I might read some year when I have the time. (2 out of 5)

Pride and Prejudiceadaption by Stacey King

815KJlGdCKLI’m giving this book three stars, which if anybody knows me is like someone else giving it five. I’m not particularly a fan of Jane Austen’s work, but as is the case with a lot of NetGalley stuff, this seemed too weird to pass up.

The artwork is more in the style of Revolutionary Girl Utena, with pointed chins and sour expressions, though I swear the father is cribbed from the dad in Fullmetal Alchemist. The adaptation is pretty straightforward, with bits of humor in tipping the mother into full anime stereotype, with stars for eyes as she dreams of marrying off her daughters into money. The book proceeds in chapters which I assume correspond roughly to the chapters in the novel (though I’ll admit I didn’t pick it up to verify).

Probably the best bits are the little four panels comics in between chapters, that adapt more humorous or speculative scenes from the book. Even as I found myself wondering what the hell any of these people would want to do with each other, these comics gave me a chuckle. Again, if I was going to read Pride and Prejudice, this would be the way to do it. (3 out of 5)

Kamen (Volume 1) – by Gunya Mihara

81W48sIDyrLI actually caught a snippet of this in the Gen Manga collections sold on Amazon and had been intrigued, so I was pleased when I saw this on NetGalley. A man wakes up wearing a talking mask. If he takes it off, he will die, and because it is covering his mouth, he cannot speak. Throughout the whole volume, we learn only about the man through his actions, and the commentary of the mask which can sometimes be kind of funny.

The man is captured and brought into servitude in a castle under siege. The female leader of this group has challenged an outside opponent because of their corrupt ways and now faces the potential annihilation of her people, all while dealing with her uncle and his own political machinations. The masked man takes to protecting a young nearly dead girl and at one point fights off dozens of opponents while carrying her in one arm.

Much more of an action comic, this does fight sequences very well, and the design of the mask is intriguing and even vaguely familiar. I would suggest skipping to the back of the book for the character descriptions and some background information on the time period and geo-political situation. I found this a little confusing just from the information provided in the story. Overall, I’m interested to see where this is going, and was pleased to find Volume 2 now available on NetGalley as well. (4 out of 5)

 

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A Wrinkle In Time (15 and 50 years later)

Though I have no shortage of books to read on this Kindle, I am always looking for more. Madeleine L’Engle has always been someone whose thoughts on writing have been invaluable to me, and her early stories some of my first forays into fantasy and Science Fiction. I recently revisited A Wrinkle in Time, a book I have not read for at least 15 years, and thought I would share a few of my thoughts on it now as an adult.

Deep Language, Deep Concepts: L’Engle doesn’t shy away from complex aspects of physics, nor the vastness of human literature, right down to a character who speaks mostly in quotations. That said her explanations are eminently elegant, describing the folding of space and time as an ant traveling across a crease in a skirt.

Evil is presented without pulling punches as well. The seductive, powerful and empty qualities are all explored as well as freezing cold and blackness. While a giant brain might be a rather literal metaphor for a force of pure logic, it nonetheless conveys the lack of heart and the disgusting aspects of evil.

Memorable Characters: The three women, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which are a hoot while at the same time revealing their higher nature. Charles Wallace is beyond precocious, a child adult who speaks in his own form of lateral logic. Even as a small child you can tell he is something different and it will be interesting to see how he grows up in the later books.

Meg as the main character is going through her own journey, seeing the fallacies in her father while also learning about her strengths, and the appeal she has for others. I do think the romantic aspect of her relationship with Calvin moves a little faster than seems logical with these characters (I didn’t know anyone who was 12-13 who pulled someone in for a passionate kiss). It almost seemed like what someone at that age would fantasize about romance, instead of the real thing. That said, Meg changes a lot in this story and her growth is only bound to continue.

50 years later: There were definitely aspects of the planet Camozotz that felt like other things of its time. The planet reminded me some of The Village from The Prisoner and a couple of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes. The planet lives on conformity, every decision made by IT and every irregularity harshly dealt with. That said the story ages well, both from the time it was written, and from the time I first read it.

Not Christian Fiction: L’Engle’s best work incorporates some aspects of Christian faith without making them the main thrust of the story. Later works of hers are not as well balanced, but in this story she is in fine form. This balance is the same I try to strike in my work, and one that will take time and reading more great works like this one.

In short an uplifting and exciting young adult story that still resonates with adults. Recommended.

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