Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dungeon: Parade

Dungeon Parade 1: A Dungeon Too Many is a comic fantasy graphic novel. Written by Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim originally in French, this volume actually takes place in between the main storyline of the Dungeon series.  But even as a side story, it's fine as a standalone.

It's a fun story of a Dungeon run for adventurers by anthropomorphic characters. The main characters are a Duck and a Dragon for example. The Dungeon Keeper is a Chicken.

A Dragon arrives at the Dungeon looking to the work in management there. The Dungeon Keeper misunderstands and asks for a massage, but after an awkward moment he dispenses some advice. That's the kind of humor you can expect.

Ultimately unsuccessful at getting a job in the Dungeon, the Dragon starts his own dungeon nearby, but it's more of a carnival. Which is why I think it's called Parade. From there, the plot goes haywire.

Dungeon: Parade was enjoyable. There are some funny moments and the art is really good. It's got a lot of personality and I want to read more of the series.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


In the year 2044, people are genetically engineered to be happy all the time. However, this only brings them paradoxical numbness.

The main character Jack deals pain pills to give people feelings of pain. He uncovers his father's video tapes about the Zenith conspiracy. He has a fling with a whorish yet sympathetic woman. He explores the film's theme as narrator.

This indie film was really weird. Zenith says it's Anonymous but it's apparently by Vladan Nikolic.

I read the plot wiki beforehand and actually watching Zenith was still a bit of a puzzle. It might be one of those movies you'd have to see more than once to fully get it.

There is an interesting premise to the plot where language is being forgotten, and it's rare to know certain words.

Zenith is interesting for its "transmedia" experimentalism. It has a weird promotional website, Stop Zenith. The main character has a fictional blog.

The official website is at ZENITH.

Zenith was billed as: "A retro-futuristic steam-punk thriller." It's ironic because steampunk is becoming such a stamp on anything science fiction these days. But this might be more like dystopian biopunk.

Zenith is a weird film, but it is suspenseful because of the thriller tone. It creates a mystery. It only falls short on fulfilling my hopes that it would come together sensibly in the end. In conclusion, the film's abstraction overshadows its plot, and the extra media is exceedingly bizarre.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

RIP Brian Jacques

I met him once... He signed my copy of The Legend of Luke

Redwall was a big part of my childhood. It was one of my favorites, if not my favorite series, and I used to roleplay on the Redwall MUCK online. As you can see I still have a shelf of the first 12 of the series. I hope to revisit Mossflower eventually. 

He will be missed.


Gattaca is a science fiction thriller starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Jude Law. It's about a future world where genes can be manipulated to create a God-child. But the protagonist Vincent is an In-Valid. This means he has some serious, life-threatening genetic defects. He is overshadowed by his younger brother, who has perfect genes. However Vincent sets himself up to use a paralyzed but Valid man named Jerome Morrow's DNA to make himself pass for a Valid and follow his dream of going up into space.

This is an enjoyable, fascinating movie with an interesting premise and vivid characters. It also seems philosophical. The movie explores various relationships, ambitions, and limitations. It's both dark and hopeful.

It got me thinking and I thought it was really well told and directed, and that includes the cinematography. I don't always notice it but I did notice the way the camera was used.

Gattaca is certainly an unrecognized film for being such a great, intellectual biopunk story.

Blade of the Immortal, Vol 1

A wandering samurai named Manji has been cursed with immortality. The only way to get rid of this curse is to kill one thousand evil men. A girl named Rin, whose family has been killed, seeks Manji to help her avenge her family. This gives Manji some targets to fulfill his curse and begins the quest.

Blade of the Immortal (wiki) is a long running manga series by Hiroaki Samura. The first volume, Blood of a Thousand, introduces the plot and characters.

The premise is interesting, but it still needs to be expanded upon, as I know it will in the following 20+ volumes with its various story arcs. Only a samurai would consider immortality a curse. It seems as if they're always seeking after an honorable demise.

The art, in shaded pencil and heavily stylized, is good. The action scenes are good too. And I like it when characters have special attacks.

Blade of the Immortal: Blood of a Thousand is a neat introduction to what appears to be fairly traditional but good Japanese manga. I can't say it's a must-read, but at the very least, it was entertaining.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hawkwood and the Kings by Paul Kearney

Hawkwood and the Kings, the omnibus of Paul Kearney's The Monarchies of God, Volume 1, contains the first two books of the series, Hawkwood's Voyage and The Heretic Kings. It's a heroic fantasy war epic with the feel of a genuine history. There are kings, mages, werewolves, boats, and guns. It is visceral, clever, and believable.

An explorer called Hawkwood sets off from Abrusio in Normannia towards a new world, the unexplored Western Continent. This voyage is sanctioned by King Abeleyn of Abrusio, so a Lord is aboard ship. There are also mages called Dweomer folk aboard, who are fleeing from the persecution of the Inceptine Church. Ironically, though, there is an Inceptine priest aboard, too. From the beginning, the voyage is fraught with tension and potential for disaster.

In the east, Merduk invaders attack, destroy, and threaten Torunna, one of the main territories of Normannia. The stronghold of Aekir has fallen and the next in the line of defense is Ormann Dyke. Corfe, the last survivor of the fall of Aekir, returns to Torunn with the surviving High Pontiff, Macrobius. At the conclave of kings in Charibon, a civil war between the five kingdoms begins because the Inceptine Church doesn't believe that Macrobius could have survived the fall of Aekir. 

There are a ton of compelling, interesting characters and even a few more plot threads. Kearney weaves them all together seamlessly, while the plot is still complex and varied. The transition between the two books was smooth, although each novel has a shape to its plot.

There are completely excellent battle sequences. The era is based roughly between the Age of Discovery and the Age of Sail. Ships have cannons and soldiers have arquebuses. Yet aside from a few elements of historical realism, it is staunchly a fantasy. In fact, the magic system deserves to be mentioned because it is interesting and even now remains mysterious. 

Overall, Hawkwood and the Kings is somehow both complex and extremely readable, which is not always an easy balance to strike. It's an awesome, enjoyable adventure. The omnibus is published by Solaris Books.