Saturday, May 13, 2017

Superhero Media: Hentai Kamen

Warning: NSFW. 

Hentai Kamen (trans. "Pervert Mask") is a masterpiece. Whilst attempting to stop a robbery and save his attractive classmate, schoolboy Kyosuke dons a pair of panties on his face by accident and finds himself transformed into Pervert Mask, forbidden superhero! Despite what the English box text and IMDB say, Kyosuke did not get his powers from aliens, but inherited a great sense of justice from his policeman father and a great deal of kink from his dominatrix mother, which is, honestly, way cooler. Our hero discovers new powers as he becomes more weirdly turned on in his quest to save the girl and the school from the machinations of a deadpan criminal hunting treasure supposedly hidden under the campus. 

The truly interesting part of the film, other than the hilarious fight scenes, is the existential crisis that the love interest undergoes after seeing Hentai Kamen in action, being drawn to his grace and power, but reviling his perversion. This conflict comes up repeatedly, even featuring in the climax, so I read it as commentary on the cultural sexual repression of Japanese youth. This theory is backed up by the villain of the film, an Evil Hentai Kamen who is even more kinky than our hero! And also a sex criminal, at least by the standards of Australian law. Hentai Kamen has to discover that his perversions are part of his innate sexuality, rather than a competition or steps to climb to become more powerful. In fact, it is when Hentai Kamen is able to explore his kinks in a safe, non-judgmental, loving relationship, that he becomes his most powerful self. A really good message there for a weird little parody film. 

If you have a high tolerance for weird and can stand looking at the main character's costume, I can highly recommend Hentai Kamen as an enjoyable watch. There is a sequel which I'm yet to check out, but as soon as I can get my hands on it, I'll be giving it a watch. Yes, I want a Hentai Kamen miniature, who wouldn't? Hell, I have Howard the Duck and Ambush Bug, why not Hentai Kamen to defend the world from evil with the power of perversion? Funny, unique and though-provoking, great film. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Miniatures Finished: Past, Present and Future

With my course finally finished, painting of supers has resumed! 

 Beetle, a suit of Mandroid Armour and Doctor Octopus for some Silver-Age fun! 

 French Revolutionary Civilian, Batman Beyond and Zombie Spider-man for time travel and alternate universe action! 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Superhero Media: Sky High

I have a vague memory of watching this film years ago and finding it to be utter dross, so when I settled in to give it another go for Superhero Media, I braced for the worst. Sky High is actually pretty damn entertaining at times, sure it suffers from being a Disney "family" film and will never compete with the likes of The Dark Knight or Civil War, but for what it is, it's quite good. When searching for pictures for this article, I found the following:
demonstrating that Sky High has something of a cult following out there. Not being one for nostalgia, I don't have a strong pre-adolescent emotional attachment to the teenage characters, but the fact that Lynda Carter, Kurt Russel and Bruce Campbell play roles is pretty damn awesome. Lynda Carter even has a joke about not being Wonder Woman which got a big laugh from me. 

The soundtrack is also worth a mention, it features some of my favourite bands, like They Might Be Giants, The Smiths and Talking Heads, pretty fucking cool for a Disney film. I'm not one for gritty reboots, but I honestly would enjoy a "10-ish years later" or school reunion version of Sky High. The disconnect between childhood expectations and the crushing reality of adult life would make for interesting characterisation when viewed through the lens of superheroic life. Maybe Layla has gone full-blown Poison Ivy or Warren Peace has walked down the path of villainy? Will Magenta not be able to find work and be forced into the life of a fetish actor in adult films? Can the Stronghold family function as a trio, or will there be friction when the youngest member is also the most powerful? Food for though.

Sky High is made very much with children in mind, but there is plenty to enjoy if you're prepared to let it be what it is. Perhaps not a lot of fodder for gaming, but there are fun characters, a great soundtrack and a handful of awesome actors to keep you going through the "growing pains" segments and school drama nonsense. Not going into my rotation, but certainly worth a watch if you haven't seen it. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Champions of the Omniverse - Part 10

Fleeing from Soviet-invaded Afghanistan, our heroes fly to Australia to find the next bomb, evidently somewhere in the Great Dividing Range. Landing in the red center, the Champions find the last Breeder Bomb in a natural crevice between two massive rocks, the device has been rent apart and the plutonium core is missing. Completely ignoring the ruined bomb casing and any evidence that may be in the crevice, our heroes start to follow some tire tracks and the spotty radiation trail left by whoever stole the plutonium. Both trails led, eventually, to a major interstate freeway across the desert, where they were quickly lost. Firestarter, who has just been retconned again, and is now The Arsonist, remembers that he can fly the X-Jet and takes it after the team, picking them up and saving the walk back. The team are groping for leads when they get a psychic "call" from Professor X; Magneto is attacking Sydney! 

Magneto is attacking Westfield Paramatta! A major shopping center on the outskirts of Sydney ("mall" to any Seppos reading). The area has been cordoned off by the 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers from the local Lancer Barracks, the ASLAVs and Bradleys of the Light Horsemen holding a perimeter as the soldiers try to placate the mad mutant. The ADF is more than happy to let the team past in the hopes that all the dangerous mutants kill each other and they can get down the pub early. As our heroes approach Westfield, they can hear Magneto monologue-ing to anyone within earshot about the terrorists that he has stopped and how he had defended the weak humans that fear him so. Spiderstrike moves forward and asks what Magneto is up to, the villain replies that he is trying to stop the Breeder Bombs and has retrieved the plutonium core to protect the "worthless humans". For some reason, Spiderstrike forgets everything he knows about the situation and starts asking for in-depth descriptions of the Breeder Bombs and interrupting during the answers. An exasperated Magneto mutters something about being above this sort of thing before flinging the plutonium container into the upper atmosphere and flying off. The team resolve to use Spiderstrike's grating personality as a weapon more often.

Acting on new orders from Professor X, the team fly to Central America and find a cyclopean pyramid hidden in the mountains. Trekking down a long tunnel, our heroes see three warped figures coming towards them, they are quickly identified as Deviants, a long-lost demi-human race from the undercities of the Earth. Sonic Tsunami lays down a sheet of water and Mazilla freezes it with his atomic breath into a slippery slide of doom! Koga produces light clones and dashes off down the corridor, slipping on the ice. In unison, all of the light clones slip up as well.  Laughing cruelly, the Deviants close in for the kill... 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Superhero Media: Miss Marvel - No Normal

I had heard so many good things about this comic that, when I finally picked it up, I wanted it to be good so badly. Sadly, I didn't enjoy it, but not because it wasn't good, it's very good, I'm simply not the target reader. The story of Kamala Khan, a teenage Pakistani-American born of immigrant parents, struggling with identity conflicts between nation and family, and a huge fan of superheroes, is aimed very much at an adolescent, female audience, not male nerds in their thirties. Which is a bloody good thing, the industry has been far too focused on the adult, male demographic, so quality work being done for an entirely new market is welcome, if years overdue. 

This is going to be a bit of a brief Superhero Media, as there's not too much I can say about Ms Marvel without getting too in-depth with the plot or starting a rant about the (still shockingly) poor representation of women and people of colour in superhero comics. Frankly, there's enough (entirely valid) rants about the latter around that do it better than I do, what with being a heterosexual, white, cis-male who lives in a developed nation. Also, I'm a pretty damned evangelical Atheist, so the Islam angle means little more to me than Cap struggling with his faith or Thor being the actual Thor from Norse myth. It's a representation thing again; yes, it's nice to have Muslim superhero characters, but I care more about racial diversity, queer and genderqueer representation. Call me when Superman comes out as trans, then I'll be more interested.

If you have a teenage sister or daughter that you want to get into comics, Ms Marvel is a good place to start. It has the same mood and tone as titles like Ultimate Spider-man, Blue Beetle and Invincible, except with a female of colour lead, so I'd say No Normal is destined to be a classic in the same mold. Once I get my hands on a Marvel digital subscription, I may give this another go, but until then, it's back to indy comics and terrible b-grade films for me. Excelsior! 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Chapions of the Omniverse - Part 9

Having deactivated the Breeder Bomb in Colorado, or heroes are traveling on the supersonic Blackbird back to Westchester when a psychic contact comes through from Professor X, 
"My X-Men, I have determined the exact location of the Asian bomb. It is in the country of Afghanistan, on the Soviet border. I will give you the coordinates..." 
As the Blackbird soars over the Middle East, a beam of energy strikes the engine and the team start spiraling down into the desert; thankfully, Sonic Tsunami brings them down safely. Before the team can recover, Crimson Dynamo and a team of Soviet Rocket Soldiers land nearby and demand surrender in broken English reminiscent of Boris Badenov. Spiderstrike tries to negotiate, and is blasted by Dynamo for his trouble, left bleeding on the ground whilst the team springs into action. The Rocket Soldiers open fire, wounding Gigawatt and Sonic Tsunami before the latter can raise a water shield and start a snowstorm around one group of attackers with his water-control powers. Manzilla leaps into the air and makes a grab towards Crimson Dynamo, narrowly missing.The team realises that they might be in trouble when the opening round from the Rocket Soldiers takes down the Gregarious Gigawatt!

In desperation, Sonic Tsunami creates a wall of water around the Rocket Soldiers, cutting off their attacks for the time being. His recovery powers having revived him, Spiderstrike dashes over to Gigawatt and staunches his wounds. Koga wakes up in the bathroom of the blackbird and wanders outside, seeing the battle, he immediately identifies the weaknesses of the Soviet armour and leaps into the fray, bending the light of the Rocket Soldier's energy beams back at them, wounding every last one! Enraged, the Rocket Soldiers try and punch their way out of the water shield and realise that physical objects can pass through unobstructed, so they step out and reload. Dynamo grabs Manzilla by the tail and swings him around, loosing the radioactive giant at Sonic Tsunami, the throw goes wide, but Manzilla leaves a deep ditch in the sand when he lands. Having some kind of weird headache with pictures, Manzilla (who would later be informed that he'd had an "idea") takes off, scooping up Spiderstrike and flinging his ally at Crimson Dynamo. Seeing Spiderstrike in danger and Dynamo about to cut loose, Sonic Tsunami unleashes a torrent of water, freezing both friend and foe in a pillar of ice by their feet!

Koga activates his light morpher, generating a team of four light clones as he prepares to take on the Rocket Soliders, who start blasting into the team, thankfully only contacting the light clones. Meanwhile, Manzilla and Spiderstrike have combined forces, battering away at Crimson Dynamo, hoping to penetrate his high-tech armour, but only serving to break open the ice that pins the Soviet Super Solider in place.The Rocket Soldiers close in on Koga and his duplicates, not managing to contact the real Sentai, but figuring out that something funny is going on. Blasting away with water missiles, Sonic Tsunami starts to thin out the numbers of the Soviet Rocket Soldiers. Using the confusion of the enemy to his advantage, Koga rips into a section of Soviet armour and disables the power supply of two. Another attack from Manzilla shatters the ice and Dynamo falls to the ground, only to be pinned in place once again by Sonic Tsunami's freezing powers. Seeing their commander trapped and many of their number unconscious, the remaining Rocket Troopers fly away. The team splits up to complete their mission, Sonic Tsunami deactivates the Breeder Bomb whilst Koga repairs the damaged engines in the Blackbird and steals two suits of Soviet Rocket Armour. Watching the radar, Spiderstrike notices some incoming blips and the team take off just minutes before Soviet reinforcements arrive.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Superhero Media: Batwoman - Elegy

After reading 52, I was keen to see some more Batwoman, and dove straight into Elegy, a truly beautiful, high-concept crime thriller by Greg Rucka and J.H.Williams III; but it wasn't quite what I'd hoped. Yes, the artwork is some of the best I've seen in years, the writing was some of Rucka's best and the characters were compelling, but there were a couple of bows to genre tropes that resulted in unfortunate cliches, tarnishing the brilliance. The first was the villain being a postmodern take on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, going so far as to only communicate in quotes from the novel and, of course, Through the Looking Glass, whilst being hyper-sexualised. Thankfully "Alice" is an adult and not the underage would-be rape victim of Lewis Carroll; seriously, if people were actually aware of the biographical details behind the Alice books, they'd stop presenting them to children. Secondly, Alice turns out to be the long-lost twin sister of Batwoman, a cliche so old, it's mummified. 

A friend saw Elegy sitting on a cabinet in my house (that's another thing, can we stop doing Opera tropes for Batman now? Dark Knight Returns was 30 years ago) and had a bit of flip through. She made the comment that the character looked more interesting than the current crop of DC/WB films and asked about the odds of a film. I replied that given the protagonist was queer, dropped out of West Point on a "don't ask, don't tell" complaint and lives with her sexuality in the open for everyone to see. I can't think of a character less likely to get their own film, except maybe Batwoman's on-again-off-again girlfriend, The Question. If it seems like I'm avoiding the story, that's only because it's pretty basic; there's a fight between Alice and Batwoman, Alice escapes and then we flash back for a few issues to get the origins story. It's well-written, but, again, falls into cliche too often.

Batwoman, if treated with the kind of care and attention DC don't seem to bother with too much these days, could be a flagship title for the company. I always enjoy different takes and perspectives on Gotham and the scenes where Batwoman calls Batman on his shit are about 70 years in coming. After rereading Elegy, I'm really keen to do another 52 reading, just to get some more Batwoman action. Brilliant character, good read, but falls far short of where it could have been.