Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nash vs. Helven

¡Feliz trigésimo segundo cumpleaños, Nash!

Para celebrar el cumpleaños del Blogueador Oficial del Reino, el Azote de falsas beldades, el Terror de la gramática, el nunca suficientemente ponderado Nash, aquí tenéis el épico combate que habíais pedido: Nash contra Helven en el risco. O algo parecido.

Como podéis ver, Nash está de lo más cabreado, y se lanza, espada en mano, sobre el pobre Helven, que trata de defenderse como buenamente puede. ¿La afrenta? No tenéis más que leer las valientes declaraciones de Helven, y todo tendrá sentido.

Como sé que a Nash le gustan los Cómo se hizo, incluyo en esta celebración el boceto original del dibujillo, así como la versión a lápiz del dibujo antes de entrar a matar con los rotuladores. Y como dato curioso, confieso que hice el boceto y el dibujo a lápiz mientras hablaba por webcam con mi madre. Ya sé que no tengo vergüenza, qué queréis que os diga.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Reading List: February

February has been a great month, since I have loved everything I've read. In fact, I've liked those books so much I've already told you about most of them here. At any rate, this is what has kept my mind warm this severely cold month:

Storm Front
The first book of The Dresden Files, I already gushed about it here.

Fool Moon
The second book in The Dresden Files series, I already reviewed it here.

Grave Peril
The third book starring Harry Dresden, I recently talked about it here. The fact that I read those three books in a row is a testament to how much I'm enjoying this series!

X-Force, vol 1: Angels & Demons
Wolverine is out for blood in this stylish book I already mentioned here.

Soul Music
This was the last Discworld book I had left, and Terry Pratchett made me laugh throughout the whole novel. One of the funniest installments in the series, Soul Music narrates the advent of Music With Rocks In, and stars an unlikely guitar player named Buddy. Other musical guests include bands such as Lead Balloon and &U. Terrific fun!

Summer Knight
The fourth book in The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, you'll get to read my review soon.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go and get some reading done.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Eurothriller

I went to see The International the day it opened, but I was apparently one of the few, seeing as the movie didn't make a whole lot of money ($10.7 million on opening weekend). Truth is, I went to see it because a friend wanted to go see it, and I didn't mind. She really wanted to go see Clive Owen, and I thought looking at Naomi Watts wouldn't be exactly hard to endure, if you know what I mean.

The International tells the story of an Interpol agent (Owen) and an American District Attorney (Watts) who are trying to bring down the IBBC, a bank that's apparently laundering money for terrorists and involved in all sorts of nasty stuff. Throughout the movie, Owen and Watts travel from one European country to another, run for their lives, shoot people down, get shot at on a number on occasions, and follow the clues they find to catch evil assassins and even eviler bankers.
The movie was entertaining, but the one thing I kept thinking was that this is what the James Bond franchise could have looked like if Owen had, like it was rumored at the time, become the new Bond instead of Daniel Craig. Personally, I find Craig tougher and more charismatic than Owen, but good ole Clive does a good job of being resilient, sleep-deprived, determined, and stubborn as all hell. Plus, he's got scowling down to a T, since that is pretty much all his character does in the movie.

Still, I don't want you to think I'm panning either the movie or Clive Owen. Both do what they're supposed to do (entertain and scare you with the real-life implications of the plot), and there are a couple of really cool scenes (the one at the Guggenheim Museum comes to mind) that are well orchestrated and quite effective. Plus, Naomi Watts looks great with that scarf around her neck.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Peligro de ultratumba

Grave Peril, el tercer libro de la serie The Dresden Files, es tan entretenido como las dos entregas anteriores. Una vez empieza la acción (o sea, desde la primera página), no hay ni un momento de descanso, ni un solo lugar en el que poder cerrar el libro y continuar al día siguiente. Jim Butcher sabe cómo yuxtaponer una escena intensísima tras otra, y cómo hacer sufrir al pobre Harry, a quien, como siempre, le dan las suyas y las de un bombero.

Pese a que el libro es estupendo y se lee en un suspiro, hay dos cosas que no me gustan en esta entrega. Una es subjetiva, y es el personaje de Michael, tan fanático y tan devoto. Es el típico personaje cuya contrapartida real no soporto, el tipo de persona de quien trato de distanciarme. Por ello, me pasé el libro deseando que muriera de forma horrenda y dolorosísima; deseo este que, por supuesto, no revelaré si se cumplió o no.

La segunda queja que tengo es más objetiva y ciertamente más grave que la primera. En las dos entregas anteriores, la aventura empieza al principio del libro y continúa sin ningún tipo de florituras temporales. Esta tercera, en cambio, comienza in medias res, técnica con la que realmente no tengo ningún problema… siempre que se expliquen las cosas en algún momento. Y ése es el problema. Digamos que la acción en Grave Peril comienza en C, luego vuelve a B, y después continúa con D y avanza hasta el final. En el segundo libro se hacen referencias a la primera aventura, y si has leído dicho primer volumen, sabes de qué va la cosa, pero los sucesos de ese libro apenas influyen el desarrollo de la historia. En esta tercera novela, sin embargo, tenemos referencias a tres aventuras pasadas: las recogidas en las dos primeras entregas de la serie, que no influyen demasiado el desarrollo de la historia, y referencias a una tercera aventura (que sería A en mi esquema temporal de hace varios renglones) que transcurre entre el segundo y este tercer libro, y que sólo se menciona de vez en cuando sin profundizar demasiado. Y dada la tremenda influencia que dicha aventura tiene en los sucesos de Grave Peril, el lector se queda preguntándose qué es lo que se ha perdido. De hecho, tuve que comprobar varias veces que GP era en verdad el tercer libro de la serie y no el cuarto, dado que los acontecimientos a que el narrador se refiere y que resultan determinantes en la historia darían sin duda para un libro entero. Pero no: por más que he buscado (no parece ser tampoco una de las historias cortas), parece que esa aventura jamás se escribió.

Pese a esta omisión, la historia en GP tiene sentido y es tan satisfactoria como las anteriores, excepto por esa espinita que no paraba de insinuarme que me había perdido algo. Grave Peril es, pues, otro libro altamente recomendable, y ahora que me he quedado sin libros de Harry Dresden, tendré que hacerme con unos cuantos más. Quién sabe: tal vez en futuras entregas se nos revele la historia perdida.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

War of the Witchblades

The War of the Witchblades is about to explode! Check out this interesting interview with Ron Marz in which he talks about the storyarc without actually spoiling anything. You know I love Witchblade and that I eagerly anticipate each issue, but after reading this interview I just can't wait! Issue 125, which is the first part of this storyarc, is about to hit the stands, and I, for one, am dying to read it!

As for the illustration accompanying this post, doesn't it remind you of the Medusa? Stjepan Sejic continues to deliver the goods, man!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Blood & Claws

I just finished reading Angels & Demons, the trade paperback collecting the first six issues of the new X-Force series, and it was a fun read. The story by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost is well written, and even though it's nothing to write home about, it is entertaining and outrageously violent. The concept: the best trackers and killers from the X-Men files become a covert-ops team that goes where no self-respecting X-Man would go. And, of course, they all wear gray and black uniforms. Fun, right?

I bought this collection because of Clayton Crain's artwork, which is spectacular (just look at the cover). I had already enjoyed his illustrations in the Spiderman: Venom vs. Carnage trade, and he delivers more of his amazing artwork here. Plus, his rendition of X-23 and especially Wolverine are phenomenal!

I thought it was unfortunate Crain didn't illustrate the second story arc (the trade comes out in May), but then I found out the artist was Mike Choi, another great artist, so it looks like I'll be back for a second helping. Who would have thought there'd come a day in which I'd be looking forward to reading X-Force again?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Luna lela

El segundo libro de The Dresden Files me lo ventilé tan rápidamente como el primero, y me pareció igual de bueno si no mejor. Al pobre Harry Dresden le siguen cayendo palos por todas partes, y en algún que otro momento parece que el pobre va en verdad a diñarla definitivamente. Sin embargo, siempre hay una forma de escapar, y así el amigo Harry escapa del fuego para caer en la sartén. O en las brasas. O en la parrilla. O en todas ellas una por una.

Esta segunda aventura del detective/mago afincado en Chicago va de hombres lobo (algo obvio con tan solo mirar la portada), y Jim Butcher, autor de la serie, ofrece unas distinciones interesantes y hasta cierto punto originales en un tema bastante manido, con lo que consigue presentar un tema conocido de forma razonablemente novedosa. Además, la acción continua de principio a fin y las dificultades crecientes a que Harry se enfrenta hacen de Fool Moon una lectura entretenidísima. En la parte negativa sólo hay un detalle que a cada uno le puede parecer más o menos importante: que la clave para resolver la confrontación final es algo que yo, lector para nada perspicaz, me vi venir desde prácticamente la primera página. Esto no quiere decir que resolviera el misterio antes de hora o que supiera cómo iba a terminar la historia, pero hay algo que, desde el principio, supe jugaría un papel fundamental en la resolución del conflicto, y me pasé el libro entero preguntándome cuándo iba Harry a caer en la cuenta. Ni qué decir tiene, el mago sólo se da cuenta de esto cuando al autor le conviene, justamente cuando lo queda otra opción, otra salida, otra forma de evitar una muerte segura. Por un lado, me puedo creer que, en medio de todo lo que le pasa al pobre Harry en este libro, el buen mago no se parase a pensar en esto; pero, por otro, Harry Dresden es un tipo inteligente, e ignorar este detalle me pareció más tramposo por parte de Butcher que otra cosa.

Pese a esto, y como ya he dicho, Fool Moon es entretenidísimo, adictivo, y está bien escrito, con lo que creo que puedo perdonar esta única tara en un conjunto más que recomendable. De hecho, ya estoy leyendo el tercer libro. ¡Que no se diga que Nash no me tiene contento!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sessler Unleashed II

A few months ago I told you guys about Adam Sessler's review of a Final Fantasy game, and how the lash from the fanboys was so vicious he felt compelled to retool his original review with hysterical results. Well, today we have Sessler answer a few stupid comments from a few stupid morons with the passion and honesty that I love so much about him. So there you go: Sessler unleashed again!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Desesperado

¡El infame Uwe Boll contraataca con tus propios recursos! Como lo oís, queridos lectores. Al parecer, y dada no sólo la calidad sino el rendimiento en taquilla de las películas del nefasto "director", Uwe Boll está buscando inversores para financiar su próxima película, Blackout. Y como nadie quiere saber nada de él (sorpresa, sopresa), el amigo Toilet Boll ha decidido apelar a sus seguidores (tratando estoy de que mis carcajadas no asusten a mi vecina maciza de abajo) y por el módico precio de 49 dólares (33 euros) puedes aparecer como uno de los productores de lo que acabará sin duda siendo otro engendro cinematográfico.

Si Boll no ha logrado recaudar al menos el 43% del dinero que necesita a finales de marzo, el director dice que devolverá al menos 40 de los 49 dólares a sus generosos productores quienes, obviamente, van a acabar perdiendo dinero de un modo u otro. ¿Qué pasa con esos nueve dólares por cabeza que el espabilado cineasta no reintegra? ¿Acaso está recaudando fondos para su siguiente atentado contra el séptimo arte a base de nueve dólares de aquí y nueve de allá? Qué queréis que os diga. Por un lado, eso de que tu nombre figure en una película como productor es ciertamente tentador, y seguro que eso mismo es lo que el bueno de Toilet piensa. Por otro, que tu nombre quede por siempre asociado al de semejante tipejo es algo que creo todos deberíamos evitar a toda costa. En fin...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Crepúsculo: el libro

Bueno. Otra de las novelas que dicen ser número uno en ventas; está claro que gracias a las quinceañeras, de otro modo no tiene mucho sentido tanto éxito. La temática es la de siempre: un amor “imposible” que, como “novedad”, es entre una adolescente que no encaja en la sociedad y un vampiro... Nadie conoce ninguna serie en la que pasa algo parecido. La novela está llena de los tópicos de las pelis de adolescentes americanas: llega alguien nuevo al instituto, hay amores imposibles... Pero sin incluir nada de las de vampiros: nada de acción, nada de luchas, nada de sangre, nada de miedo... Nada de nada. Sólo descripciones de cómo se siente la prota ante este gran sentimiento que es el amor, joder qué cursi soy. Está claro que las niñas se sentirán muy identificadas con el personaje, pero el resto se puede aburrir bastante.
El libro esta bien escrito y la historia puede enganchar al principio, pero después cansa un poco. En definitiva: si podéis comprar el libro, no lo hagáis.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Scarlett, My Love

I went to see He’s Just Not That Into You for one reason and one reason only: Scarlett Johansson. And I wasn’t disappointed. I had read about how my beloved Scarlett was naked in the movie, but you didn’t get to see anything (and I knew that going in). As someone else said, that’s a step in the right direction, so hopefully this will become a trend for my favorite actress. At any rate, she does a great job in this movie, and she is sexy as hell and scantily clad on a couple of scenes. As usual, I find her way more attractive in present-day movies rather than period pieces, and HJNTIY proves I’m right one more time. The jeans and sweatpants she wears, the tops and shirts, her amazing hair… She is perfection made flesh, she really is.

As for the movie itself, it was cute and funny and painfully awkward and uncomfortable at times, but it was also a quite unoriginal chick flick based on the book of the same title. HJNTIY is a love story, or several love stories. Or several stories of people in love, falling out of love, or looking for love. As the movie progresses, the connection between the different couples becomes clear, and that was sort of fun to witness. Also, the movie stars pretty much everyone currently working in Hollywood: Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Connelly, Drew Barrymore, Ginnifer Goodwin, Ben Affleck, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Connolly, Justin Long, and Kris Kristofferson, and it was interesting to see all those working together.

Something else that was interesting (and maybe a bit distressing) was finding myself identifying with Ginnifer Goodwin's character. She goes on first dates that seem to go well, but then she never hears from the guy again. If you reverse the gender of both parties, that is my life! So, on the one hand, I was feeling for her, and I could understand how she felt. On the other hand though, I wondered if any of the girls I've dated actually felt like her, since it's usually them the ones who don't call or ignore my messages. Who are they trying to fool here, making us men look like the bad guys? I'm sorry, ladies, but it's been my experience that you are the ones who lie and pretend to have a good time while secretly planning to never go on another date with me. When you look at it this way, it was hard for me to believe Goodwin's predicament. And still I sympathized.

So while HJNTIY won’t be getting any awards anytime soon, the movie was funny and entertaining, and Scarlett Johansson was amazing, so I definitely felt I got my money’s worth. She just can do no wrong in my eyes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Welcome to the

Dollhouse premiered last Friday, and I was interested in seeing what Joss Whedon had come up with this time. So I made plans to stay home and watch the show, only to end up leaving and going to the movies instead. Let’s hope lots of people stayed in and watched it, though, or it won’t last long. The question is, should it?

I went to the Fox site to watch the episode, and I liked it. It wasn’t great, but it was a good beginning. Eliza Dushku showed she has way more talent than many people thought, and she delivered an excellent performance. However, my favorite scene had nothing to do with her acting abilities but her dance moves. That scene in which she’s dancing in that tantalizingly short white dress set my brain on fire. I mean, wow.

Other than that, nothing was really memorable. As I said, it was a good episode, but it didn’t really make me eagerly await the next one. There were a couple of hints of what the overall story will be for the season, but the main plot of the episode began and ended, and in that regard I felt satisfied. But am I dying to see what happens to Echo next? I’m not sure.

There was a nice cameo by Amy Acker, which wasn’t shocking at all seeing as Whedon likes to work with the same actors over and over again, and that means we’ll probably get to see more Buffy/Angel/Firefly alumni in the future, provided the show has a future. The premise is interesting, yet a bit contrived, and I don’t know if it will find an audience (especially on Friday night). I mean, having agents whose personality you can erase and replace with whatever you need sounds cool, but is it really necessary? Why not work with “normal” people like every other agency in the history of secret agents and organizations? And what about those “personality flaws” they also download into their operatives? The reason for programming those (“they’re part of the package”) into the agents is really hard to buy. If you have the technology to download personalities and skills into a human brain, why wouldn’t you be able to bypass any deficiencies the original personality may have? The answer, of course, is so that those flaws come into play in the story, but I thought they felt forced, at least in this first episode. Besides, one of those flaws also triggered a huge coincidence that helped Echo solve the case, and that made me angry. Joss Whedon’s writing is always crisp and fresh, and he doesn’t need to resort to cheap tricks like that to make a story work. It’s hard for me to make my point without spoiling anything, so go watch the show and then we’ll talk some more.

To sum it up, this first episode of Dollhouse was enjoyable but nothing to write home about. Let’s see what happens next.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lost Five’s First Five

I managed to catch up with Lost before episode five (or four, if you count the two-part first episode as one instead of two) aired last Wednesday, and man do I love this show. If I was recently talking about how Smallville is usually more of the same all the time, Lost is a show that keeps the shocks, the surprises, and the ridiculously unpredictable revelations coming minute after minute.
I won’t spoil anything for you, but I have high hopes for this season, which is the second to last of the show. So far, Desmond has proved once again why he is my favorite character in the show. His storyline is tremendously compelling, and he is charismatic in a quiet way. Also, and maybe I’m crazy, but he kind of reminds me of my friend Jorge, and maybe that’s why I like him so much. At any rate, mindbending revelations keep coming from his end as well as Faraday’s, whose role and knowledge of what’s going on keep growing episode after episode.

There are still roughly a million questions that need to be answered, but it looks like plenty of those will be addressed this season. At the very least, the time travelling plot device will account for some of those, but it will be really cool to see things explained. And I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy time travelling stories (well, I know Hal doesn’t like them necessarily), and maybe that’s why I like both Desmond and this season so much. What brain-shattering event will take place next? We’ll find out in just two days!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Enter Supergirl

I just finished the seventh season of Smallville, and even though I enjoyed it, I also found myself hoping the show would end soon. I’ve been following Smallville for a few years now, and even though I like it (not as much as I used to, though), the status quo hasn’t really changed too much over the years. Yes, different things have happened to the characters, and they have grown older. They have gotten new jobs, and some old characters have left to make room for new ones. And yes, some characters (like Lana) have really evolved a lot, but she’s the exception rather than the rule, and, in an ironic turn of events, I actually don’t like what she has become.

Still, I like the show, and this season was a lot of fun. Guest DC Universe characters like the Black Canary were cool, and James Marsters does a great job as Brainiac. However, the award for best new character goes to the incredibly hot Laura Vandervoort, who plays Kara Zor-el, Clark’s cousin from Krypton. I like the character, she had some really cool episodes, and I think she is a great addition to the show. Plus, the last five or six episodes were really cool and left me wanting more. However, this has happened before, and once the cliffhanger is resolved, things tend to go back to normal for several episodes before something exciting happens again. So will I be getting season eight on DVD later this year? Certainly. But I wouldn’t mind if it turned out to be the last one.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Witchblade #124

Witchblade #124 came out shortly after my last visit to B&M Amusement, but I couldn't wait to see what happened next after the last scene in issue 123. Therefore, I stopped by the comic book store on my way to see Coraline, and got it. And, as usual, it was great.

Starting with the awesome cover, this issue is packed with sweet artwork by Stjepan Sejic, the regular artist on the series who keeps delivering month after month. I remember him saying he couldn't wait to prove everyone wrong about him not being able to draw the book monthly, and so far he's been doing exactly that. Perish the naysayers!

Ron Marz's script is, once again, a great read that offers compelling characters and the most realistic dialogue I have ever read in a comic book. As for the story itself, ish 124 serves as an epilogue for the Crown Heights story arc that does indeed continue the aforementioned last scene from Witchblade #123 with unexpected results and soon-to-come cataclysmic consequences.

This book sets the stage for the War of the Witchblades storyarc we've all been dying to read, and that will begin next month with issue 125. And if you haven't been dying to read it, it means you haven't been following the best ongoing series out there, buddy. So it's about time you paid attention and started buying Witchblade. You will make both Top Cow and yourself really, really happy.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Buttons for Eyes

Seeing as Coraline was much better than The Unborn, I think this should have been the movie to mark my return to The Rave, but hey.

Henry Selick, the director of the movie, seems to have a thing for stop-motion animation, seeing as he also directed The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. This time, Selick draws inspiration from the book by Neil Gaiman, and the result is a spooky, trippy movie that's equal parts whimsy and weird, with some nightmarish elements and a few laughs to balance the whole act.

I won't reveal anything about the plot, just so you don't know what to expect, but I had a good time watching this movie. Also, I got to see it in 3D, and while there were not many things that popped out of the screen, it did add an unexpected depth to every scene in the movie. Still, I don't think the third dimension worked as well as in Beowulf, the last 3D movie I had seen previous to Coraline, but it didn't really matter.

Coraline offers monsters, mice, circus antics, dysfunctional families (is there any other kind?), and spectacularly strange characters in a world that alternates from grayishly unsettling to warmly colorful, and it boasts fancy and imagination and wild creativity. And did I mention the monsters?

I am not sure that I would give it as high a grade as it's gotten pretty much everywhere, but it sure will keep you entertained for an hour and a half. So go see it and let us know what you think!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Anita

Los retratos y las caricaturas me fascinan, no puedo evitarlo. Al mismo tiempo, me encantaría ser capaz de hacer buenos dibujos en cualquiera de ambos géneros (o en los dos: por pedir que no quede), así que de vez en cuando me da por intentarlo, no siempre con los resultados deseados.

El dibujo de hoy es una suerte de retrato/caricatura de Natalie Dormer, la actriz que interpreta a Anne Boleyn en The Tudors. Pese a que me gusta el dibujo, creo que no se parece demasiado a la actriz, sino que podría ser prácticamente cualquier morena de ésas que le gustan a Nash. En ese aspecto, el dibujo no logra su objetivo, y por eso no acaba de convencerme. De todas formas, ahí lo tenéis para que me digáis qué os parece. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

El honor de la reina

El honor de la reina es la continuación de las aventuras espaciales de Honor Harrinton, que comenté previamente en el blog. Esta segunda parte me ha gustado bastante más que la primera: el ritmo es más rápido, y hay más acción, tanto política como bélica, aunque esta última es muy realista y yo personalmente no termino de entender el sistema de escudos ni por qué tienen que hacer tanta maniobra extraña en el espacio para pegarse con los misiles.

Esta vez la buena de Honor es la jefa de una “pequeña” delegación de su país que pretende entablar relaciones diplomáticas con unos vecinos para que sus muy odiados y temidos adversarios no se les adelanten a la hora de establecer bases militares en sus fronteras. Lo malo de estos posibles aliados es que son unos fanáticos ultra cristianos, machistas a más no poder y que además odian la tecnología, aunque como se ve necesitan de ella para vivir. Si estos son los aliados, os preguntaréis quiénes son los malos de la peli. Bien, se trata de unos cuantos tipos todavía más fanáticos y más machistas que fueron expulsados del planeta porque eran demasiado fanáticos, que quieren vengarse de la expulsión del planeta, y que, cómo no, cuentan con la ayuda de los acérrimos enemigos de Honor, que les han proporcionado naves nuevas para intentar hacer fracasar las negociaciones y quedarse con ese trocito de espacio. Así que nuestra prota no solo lucha contra los malos, sino que tiene que vencer la mediocridad de mente de sus aliados para hacerles ver que una tipa dura como ella es capaz de cargarse a quien haga falta por el honor de sus reina y no es necesario tener testículos para llevar acabo dicha misión.

Aunque mejor que su predecesora, esta novela no tiene ni mucho menos la calidad de obras como Tropas del espacio o ciertas novelas de Arthur C. Clak como dicen en la contraportada.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Treachery so Far

I just finished reading the fourth issue (out of six) of The Dark Tower: Treachery, and it left me a bit indifferent. However, it is not only this book, but the whole arc. I think both the writing and the art are as good as they were in The Gunslinger Born and The Long Road Home, but I guess the novelty is wearing off. I am still interested in the story, but it moves forward really, really slowly. I like the artwork, but I think Jae Lee is more than starting to repeat himself. There's barely any backgrounds, and the few background elements we do get to see are all the same: gnarly trees, huge rocks, arches --all in the type of vertical composition the artist seems to favor. And let's not mention that ubiquitous mist that serves as an excuse not to finish figures and scenery. It does add a feel of mystery, of the unsettling supernatural, but it's getting real old real fast. Or maybe I just need a break from the action (what action?) and stop buying the series after issue six comes out. I don't know if there will be another miniseries after this one, but chances are it will happen, especially if the book keeps selling well. However, at $3.99 per issue, I think it's time to start considering getting the next series in trade. I will have to wait longer, yes, but that would accomplish two things: I would get a welcome break both in the action and the price. Come to think of it, it really is a no-brainer. Or maybe I have just forgotten the face of my father.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Tormenta

Mi querido amigo y coblogueador Nash me regaló, a través del tercer y también querido Blogueador Oficial del Reino Halagan, los tres primeros libros de The Dresden Files para mi cumpleaños, y la verdad es que tenía un poco de miedo antes de empezar con la serie. ¿Qué pasaría si no me gustaba el primer libro? ¿Tendría que tragarme los otros dos por compromiso, por no ser un mal queda? ¿Tendría que fingir que me habían gustado? Afortunadamente, todas mis preocupaciones se revelaron infundadas, ya que Storm Front, el primer libro de la serie, es no sólo entretenidísimo sino altamente recomendable.

Jim Butcher, el autor de la novela, nos presenta un mundo de urban fantasy en el que Harry Dresden es el único mago que practica en público. Afincado en Chicago, Dresden se gana la vida investigando casos extraños y ayudando a la policía a solucionar algún que otro crimen relacionado con lo sobrenatural. En esta realidad, la mayoría de la gente no cree en la magia, y muchos piensan que Dresden no es sino un farsante, aunque nada podría estar más lejos de la realidad.

En Storm Front, varias subtramas interesantes se desarrollan simultáneamente, pero lo mejor de todo (y probablemente la razón por la que a Nash le gustó la serie de televisión basada en los libros) es el personaje principal, Harry Dresden. Dresden es un tipo duro, sarcástico, que recibe más palos que una estera pero que sigue volviéndose a poner en pie para resolver el caso. O para recibir más tortas, que es igual de probable. Junto a Dresden, varios personajes secundarios hacen acto de presencia, quedando bastante claro que formarán parte del reparto regular en futuras entregas de la larga serie. (La undécima novela sale en abril.)

Storm Front se lee rapidísimo, y es entretenido, divertido y ocurrente, con grandes personajes como el propio Harry o su "ayudante" Bob (me río sólo de pensarlo), y con buenos diálogos y escenas de acción muy bien pensadas. En resumen: de lo más compelling que os podáis imaginar. Si el resto de libros son como mínimo igual de buenos, creo que tendré que añadir una serie más a las que ya sigo. ¡Ciertamente recomendable!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Unborn

My return to the movie theater after an over-a-month-long absence could have been more memorable, truth be told. But I chose to see The Unborn, and so it wasn't.

The Unborn, written and directed by David S. Goyer, is one of those scary movies that don't really scare you. Or thrill you. Or make you care. Actually, I should have remembered the last movie written and directed by Goyer that I saw was The Invisible, and that movie wasn't exactly amazing. At the very least, The Unborn is entertaining, especially during the first half. Superhot Casey Beldon (played by Odette Yustman) is trying to figure out what her visions and nightmares mean, and this part of the film is kind of unsettling. You don't know what's going on (unless you've seen the preview, of course), and the story takes its time unfolding through a variety of strange scenes that display some neat visuals and cool ideas. That part was fun. However, as soon as Casey figures out what is happening (is she going crazy? Is some spooky ghost actually trying to get her?), the movie takes a turn for the worse, and everything becomes rather silly, derivative, and spectacularly unoriginal.

So save your money, dear reader, and skip this movie. Maybe one of the other horror movies now playing will be better. (Dare I going to see The Uninvited? Dare I?) As for The Unborn, what can I say? It wasn't bad enough to make me angry, but I doubt this is the best the genre has to offer this year. And if it is, well, then I will be scared.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Mil (1,000)

Por si el título de esta entrada y el dibujo que la acompaña no son lo suficien-
temente explícitos, dejad que os lo deletree, queridos lectores: ¡éste es el post número mil en Sunny Jhanna! Como lo oís, amigos. Desde el cinco de noviembre de 2005, a los Blogueadores Oficiales del Reino de Jhanna se nos han ocurrido mil tonterías diferentes con que entreteneros día sí y día también. Así pues, me parece pertinente que nos detengamos por unos segundos y nos demos unas afables palmaditas en nuestras respectivas espaldas. ¡Buen trabajo!

Y como bonus, aquí tenéis la versión a lápiz antes de entrar a matar con los rotuladores. Enjoy!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Broken Novel

I read Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan three years ago, and I found it an exhilarating novel. Morgan created a futuristic world that was vivid and compelling, and populated it with great characters, especially former Envoy Takeshi Kovacs. The book was gritty, hard-boiled, imaginative, full of new ideas and original blends of old ones. It was a terrific read, and I recommend its mixture of sci-fi and crime noir to everyone.

I read Broken Angels, the second outing of good ole Kovacs, last week, and like I said then, it was a crushing disappointment. However, and judging by the Amazon customer reviews, I seem to be one of the very few who didn’t enjoy this book. Why didn’t I like it?

To begin with, BA is so much different from AC as to seem it was written by a different person. Remember all the good things I said of AC two paragraphs ago? Well, none of those qualities can be found in BA. Not. Even. One. The story in BA is so derivative sci-fi that its own lack of originality made it hard for me to stay invested in what I was being told. The plot was trite, the story something we’ve seen a thousand times already. Kovacs is now in an army of sorts, and this book is about war and an expedition to recover an ancient artifact that belonged to a different species. There is no blend of genres, just a shoot’em up story. There is no intrigue, no mystery, no exploration of a world full of possibilities.

Then we have the characters. Takeshi Kovacs is still a cool cat, a cynical know-it-all who has seen it all, done it all, but he chooses to be around what has to be the least-compelling cast of characters I have encountered in a novel in the last several years. A bunch of almost indistinguishable and definitely unremarkable special ops soldiers are introduced, and try as I might, I just couldn’t get myself to care about any of them. The best ones were probably Tanya Wardani and Matthias Hand (civilians both of them), and the best parts of the book are the conversations between Kovacs and either one of those two. Other than that, stuff went on (not really: this is such a slow-paced book) and I just didn’t care.

The sex scenes that were vibrant and wildly imaginative in AC feel dull and perfunctory in BA. They seem to be there just to be there, because the readers expected them, and they bring nothing new under the sun, unlike the drug-enhanced encounters from Morgan’s previous novel.

Everything in BA, to sum it up, felt kind of meh, and except for good dialogue and cool one liners from Kovacs, the whole book is pretty much disposable and certainly skippable. There is a third Kovacs book out there, Woken Furies, but I’m not sure I want to read it anymore, not after having suffered through BA. If you are interested, though, I would suggest skipping Broken Angels and reading WF instead, since I doubt it will be worse than this. And if it is, then, well, Mr. Morgan, it’s been nice knowing you.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Do What They Wanna Do

Ésta es la historia de un dibujo que acabó siendo peor de lo que podría haber sido por culpa de las prisas con que acabé haciéndolo. Resulta que me invitaron a la fiesta de cumpleaños de una amiga el día anterior al evento, y no sabía qué hacer. Pensaba regalarle una postalita y punto, pero pensé que podía esforzarme un poquito más y dibujar algo. Tras hablar con un par de amigos comunes, decidí hacer un dibujo de La familia Addams. Nunca había dibujado a ningún miembro del clan, así que me fui a Internet y me puse a buscar fotos y dibujos. Se me ocurrió que podía usar un estilo que estuviera a medio camino entre el estilo del creador de los personajes, Charles Addams, el mío propio, y la apariencia de los actores de la adaptación cinematográfica. El problema es que, entre unas cosas y otras, me encontré empezando el dibujo dos horas antes de cuando se suponía tenía que estar en su casa, con lo que me tocó trabajar lo más rápidamente posible, sin poder poner demasiada atención en los detalles o pararme a pensar, revisar y retocar. Una lástima, porque creo que podía haber quedado mejor si hubiera podido invertir un par de horas más en el dibujo. De todas formas, me gusta cómo me quedaron Morticia, Miércoles y Cosa. Y a fin de cuentas, la interesada quedó impresionadísima, así que supongo que debería estar contento, pues ése era el objetivo, ¿no?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Three Thors

I've found myself reading a bunch of Thor comic books recently. I don't think I had ever read anything starring the Norse God of Thunder, and a friend of mine let me borrow three different graphic novels.

The first one, Avengers Disassembled: Thor, collects the Ragnarok storyline that put an end to the Thor ongoing series a few years ago. Both my friend and lots of other fans had raved about how cool Ragnarok was, so I thought I'd check it out. And I didn't quite like it. The problem was that Michael Avon-Oeming's writing was sort of cheesy, and his "epic" narrative was actually sort of lame and expository. The idea behind Ragnarok, the end of days for the Norse gods is really cool, but Oeming's take on it is just a succession of battle after battle after battle that left me indifferent. Which is exactly how the generic-looking artwork by Andrea DiVito made me feel. I just couldn't care about what was going on.

Somewhat dispirited, I moved on to the first volume of the new Thor series, and what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be. The script by J. Michael Straczynski is crisp, the dialogue good, Thor's quest compelling. And Olivier Coipiel's artwork is great. In this book, Thor actually looks like a Norse god instead of a generic blonde dude with a winged helmet and a silly hammer. His Thor is regal, imposing, and tough as nails. He is an enemy I would fear and an ally I would treasure.

The third collection I read was the Secret Invasion tie-in, a series that reverted to the Ragnarok story in terms of quality. The story by Matt Fraction is nothing but three issues of people punching each other, and I find that boring. As a matter of fact, it's been a decade since I grew tired of superheroes beating up supervillains, or the other way round. I haven't read the main Secret Invasion series, but it's hard to imagine how this Thor tie-in has any relevance at all. At least, Doug Braithwaite's artwork was good, so, in that regard, it was better than Ragnarok.

To sum it up, if you're interested in reading something starring the God of Thunder, by all means check out the ongoing series. If, on the other hand, you like people hitting each other, then I guess you can try one of the other books. It's your money, pal.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Heads Will Roll

I just finished watching the second season of Showtime's period drama The Tudors, and I liked it almost as much as the first one. The acting is still rock-solid, and the production values are great. The story is very interesting, and the major players keep coming and going as some of them lose the king's favor while others rise to the fore.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers does (again) a wonderful job as king Henry VIII, and James Frain makes his Cromwell an incredibly interesting character whom I'm ashamed to confess I really liked. Natalie Dormer continues to seduce the audience as Anne Boleyn, but her relationship with Henry has started to cool off, and maybe that's why I didn't enjoy this season as much as the first one. Am I a hopeless romantic? Perhaps, perhaps.

Still, I find myself really enjoying this show, and it's a shame it'll probably be a year before season three comes out on DVD. I guess I'll have to find other shows to keep me entertained until then. You, on the other hand, could be enjoying The Tudors right now, so treat yourselves and get the first season on DVD. Enjoy!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Witchblade #123

After reading atrocities such as The Ultimates 3, it is truly a pleasure to read something as well written as Witchblade. Ish 123 is the third and last part of the Crown Heights arc, and it is as good as the previous chapters. Ron Marz once again delivers some great dialogue (the scene with Sara and the voodoo lady is particularly impressive), and even though the Crown Heights murders are somewhat solved, there are still some things that remain unexplained. But even more interesting than the confrontation between Sara and "the bad guy" (no spoilers, sorry) is the last scene, in which Danielle helps Finch like she promised she would. What happens then is obviously leading toward the War of the Witchblade storyline that we'll get to read soon (not soon enough, though). Personally, I can't wait to see what happens, even though I doubt anyone will die. (Anyone important, that is.)

Regarding the artwork, Stjepan Sejic knocks it out of the park once again, and the way he draws "the horse" is really amazing.

Finally, the letters column is also quite interesting in this issue, especially the Letter of the Month. It's funny, because the guy that wrote it was really unhappy with the way Marz solved Broken Trinity a few months ago. Marz, as usual, is a class act and explains his point of view and the choices he made respectfully and eloquently, and he is very convincing. However, the angry reader had a valid point: I doubt anyone was surprised with who "died" in the series. Broken Trinity was a fun read, and it introduced a couple of cool characters, and two of the Thirteen Artifacts (and, unlike the unhappy reader, I'm in no hurry to see the remaining items revealed), but I could have told you who was going to die even before reading the first issue. So maybe Broken Trinity wasn't the big event it was made to be, but who cares? It was a great companion to the superb Witchblade, and Witchblade is all we care about here in Sunny Jhanna, is it not?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

El dilema de siempre

Llevaba como mínimo tres años queriendo leer The Ultimates 3, y por fin el mes pasado tuve la oportunidad de hincarle el diente a la miniserie recopilada en tomo estupendo. La única razón por la que quería leer esta miniserie sin haber leído las dos anteriores era el dibujante: Joe Madureira.

Madureira es, junto a Jeff Scott Campbell, mi dibujante de comics favorito, y, al igual que Campbell, el amigo Mad se prodiga menos que poco. Desde que comenzó en la primera miniserie de Deadpool y luego deslumbró a propios y extraños con sus números de Uncanny X-Men y The Astonishing X-Men en la celebrada saga Age of Apocalypse, el abajo firmante siempre ha seguido la carrera de este increíble dibujante. Madureira tiene un ojo formidable para el diseño de personajes y las escenas de acción, y cualquier página que dibuja es una obra maestra como pocas. Por desgracia, la campbellitis que le aqueja le hizo retirarse del mundo de los comics cuando se hallaba a mitad de su popularísima serie Battle Chasers para dedicarse a lo que dice siempre había querido hacer: diseñar videojuegos. Una lástima, pero al menos no hizo como Campbell y fingió seguir en el negocio cuando se estaba dedicando a otra cosa.

Soñando seguía yo con que un día el amigo Mad volviera a dibujar comics cuando un buen día, hace tres o cuatro años -no exagero-, Marvel anunció que el dibujante regresaba al mundo de las viñetas para ilustrar The Ultimates 3. Como Marvel sabe cómo se las gasta el amiguete, lo primero que la editorial hizo fue reducir el número de episodios de los once o doce que Ultimates 1 y 2 habían tenido a los cinco que Madureira se veía capaz de dibujar. La segunda medida de la compañía: esperar a tener los cinco números terminados antes de sacar el primero a la venta. Curarse en salud, vamos.

Todo esto sirve para haceros ver que, desde que se anunció el proyecto (al mismo tiempo más o menos que el Spiderman de Campbell del que aún tenemos que ver siquiera una página) hasta que salió a la venta la serie y se recopiló en tomo, las ganas de echarle el guante al arte de Madureira no hicieron sino aumentar mes tras mes. Incluso después de leer las despiadadas críticas que el primer número recibió, yo seguía teniendo ganas de leerlo. Tras leer los crueles comentarios que siguieron a la conclusión de la serie (y no os perdáis las críticas en Amazon), todavía quería comprar el tomo cuando saliera. Y así lo hice, teniendo en cuenta que probablemente iba a llevarme una decepción. ¿Fue ése el caso? Hmmm… creo que no.

El comic perfecto, en mi opinión, surge de la unión entre una historia fantástica y dibujos soberbios, ya lo he dicho muchas veces: Danger Girl y Revelations son mis dos ejemplos favoritos. The Ultimates 3 sólo cumple con uno de los dos requisitos, y eso es más o menos lo que esperaba, con lo que no puedo decir que la serie me decepcionara. Pero basta ya de eufemismos, de andarse con rodeos, y de no decir lo que quiero decir.

Jeph Loeb, guionista de este engendro, debería no sólo ser encarcelado por delitos contra los lectores de comics, sino que debería prohibírsele escribir nada más durante el resto de su vida. Al menos, nada que otro ser humano vaya a leer. Y es curioso, porque es uno de los guionistas más ocupados y con más trabajo del panorama actual, pero todo lo que he leído de su pluma salido me ha parecido repugnante, excepto por Batman: Hush. Pero a lo mejor soy yo el raro.

The Ultimates 3 se presenta como un misterio: ¿quién asesinó a la Bruja Escarlata? Esta historia, a priori, no me parece exactamente interesante, pero supongo que podría haber sido una historia al menos entretenida en manos más competentes. O pies. El problema más grave radica en la ejecución de dicha historia, pues los personajes hacen cosas porque sí, muchas veces sin sentido o sin explicación. Dos ejemplos sangrantes:

Tras un ataque inesperado por parte de Venom, Black Panther, que forma parte del grupo de superhéroes no se sabe por qué y que no habla tampoco se sabe por qué, desaparece sin razón aparente, y Hawkeye decide ir a buscarlo sin saber muy bien por qué. Para encontrarlo, va a hablar con Spiderman, pues sospecha que el arácnido está relacionado con Venom (¿por qué?), pero en vez de mantener una conversación civilizada (a fin de cuentas, ambos están en el mismo bando y Hawkeye busca información), Hawkeye se lía a tiros hasta que consigue derrotar a Spiderman. Y una vez vencido, el Capitán América aparece y le dice a Hawkeye que tienen que irse, y el tío se larga tras comentar que como se entere que el Hombre Araña está relacionado con Venom, volverá y lo dejará apañado. Pero, ¿no es eso exactamente lo que acaba de hacer? ¿De qué ha servido la escena, pues, excepto para ver a Spidey y Hawkeye darse tortas? De nada. Esto, queridos lectores, no es sino uno de varios ejemplos de personajes mal explicados, ultraplanos cual compresa (algunos con alas también), y que ni se desarrollan ni dejan de estorbar.

Ejemplo número dos (mi favorito). Un miembro del grupo protagonista cuya identidad no revelaré parece estar muriendo o en coma o algo por el estilo. En este estado se pasa la mayor parte de la serie, hasta que de pronto aparece súbitamente y recuperado al cien por cien para solucionar cierta situación. Cuando sus compañeros le preguntan cómo es posible que se haya recuperado tan repentinamente, Jeph Loeb tiene la cara dura de hacerle decir que "eso no importa ahora. Ya os lo explicaré más tarde." Ni qué decir tiene, esta milagrosa resurrección jamás se explica tras el suceso, pues tal vez Loeb pensaba que nadie se iba a dar cuenta. Que nos íbamos a olvidar.

O sea, que tenemos una historia mediocre con personajes que hacen cosas sin sentido y con acontecimientos que ni se explican cuando hace falta, ni hacen falta cuando suceden. Bueno, si al menos los diálogos son buenos, podemos salvar algo, ¿no? Sí, podríamos, excepto por un pequeño detalle: si la historia "ideada" por Loeb es mala, sus diálogos son espantosos. Pero malos, malos. Malos con ganas. Con avaricia. Tan malos que prácticamente se convierten en los villanos de la historia. Loeb quiere escribir los típicos oneliners que hacen gracia y presentan al personaje en cuestión como un tipo duro y ocurrente, pero cada chorrada que sueltan es más atroz que la anterior, y en vez de ser luchadores curtidos y sarcásticos los personajes parecen retrasados mentales cuyo sentido del humor jamás pasó de tercero o cuarto de EGB. Vergüenza ajena da leer las estupideces y ocurrencias que Loeb pone en boca de sus personajes. Ahí van unos ejemplitos:

Iron Man: (a Blob, un malo gordo y asqueroso) Didn't you see the sign on the way in, Blob? 'The management reserves the right to refuse service to anyone.' That means you, you fat tub of goo.

Wasp: (comentando la jugada anterior) You go, Tony.

Hawkeye: Wasp, go! I'll deal with butt-ugly.

Al menos, en lo que al apartado gráfico se refiere, Madureira nos regala la vista con dibujos más que espectaculares, tal y como esperaba. Es verdad que hay alguna que otra viñeta que se nota la hizo con prisa y pensando que el color (increíble trabajo el de Christian Lichtner, por cierto) ocultaría su dejadez, pero, en general, todas y cada una de las páginas deslumbran con calidad infinita. Las caras, los cuerpos, los hombres, las mujeres, la ropa, los decorados, las escenas de acción y la narrativa en sí misma: todo es asombroso, excepto por esas contadas viñetas que deslucen, pues parecen más bocetos que paneles terminados. (Y aun así, los bocetos de Madureira son mejores que la mayoría de dibujos terminados de la mayoría de autores.) ¿Y he mencionado las increíbles portadas desplegables? La baba se me caía repasando las líneas del maestro.

Desgraciadamente, y como habéis podido comprobar, The Ultimates 3 es una novela gráfica de excelentes ilustraciones pero con una historia lamentable y unos diálogos insultantes por lo horrendo. Afortunadamente, la compré por los dibujos, y en ese apartado no defrauda en absoluto. Pero es que la historia y los diálogos son espectacularmente horribles ¿Qué es más importante en un comic, pues, la historia o los dibujos? El dilema de siempre.