Sunday, 27 April 2008

My two favourite manga girls!

I just got warped back to my childhood when I loved watching certain series of manga. Not that I don’t love them now… just pretending not to have time anymore :-D

But this week’s ‘contemplation’ dragged me into Sailor Moon Universe again, and I remembered that I used to – and still – love Rei Hino, the Sailor Mars! (FYI, Sailor Pluto (Setsuna Meio) and Sailor Saturn (Hotaru Tomoe) are my other fave Senshi). But actually, the first manga girl I ever love is Oka Megumi of the Voltes V series. I first saw her when I was just a teenager, and I fell in love with her and her long green-blue hair (and her pink bow!). I think she’s amazing, pretty, and she’s great; having excelled in Japanese martial arts, including ninja stuffs. I have to ‘fess that I would love to buy an action figure of Megumi. Too bad that the Voltes V lines was drown over the Voltron merchandises, though Voltes was much well-packed and well-written than Voltron (I can’t even buy the English-subtitled DVD for Voltes!).

So I pondered why I love those girls. I know at least that Megumi inspired me to grow my hair long and Rei taught me to keep them long (though never as beautiful as those gorgeous manga girls). But why do I love them?

Perhaps… because they are a blend of uniqueness. Take the gorgeous Rei Hino, for example. Rei is a Shinto priestess (gotta love that red hakama!). Yet, her spiritual living does not reduce the excitement of a young girl with sharp snappy tongue who will often, and with most unlady-like fashion, bugs Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon) to no end. But take note: Rei is also a loyal friend and a warrior who would give her life to protect Usagi.

Hey, have I mentioned that Rei’s gold tiara with red gem resembles Wonder Woman’s tiara? And her red heels and red dress just echo Diana’s signature colour? Love it, love it, love it! I know what to wear for the next Halloween party. Sailor Mars.

And what about my first manga girl: Oka Megumi? This wonderful site mentions that: “Megumi is an energetic, lively, and lovely girl. She always wears red ribbon on her greenish blue hairs. Megumi is trained in the secret way of Ninjutsu and she becomes a Kunoichi (female ninja). She can fight using various kinds of weapons, like long sword (katana), chained sickle (kusarigama), but her favorite weapon is the throwing star (shuriken).” Plus that she’s also well-informed and well-practiced in traditional arts. Superb girl! Not to mention her lovely red boots and skirts.

Gosh, I love Rei and Megumi! They can kick ass, but they’re also very much into traditional knowledge and spirituality. Lovely. I guess, that’s why I love them so. They are the Japanese Wonder Girls.

Pic 1: Rei Hino Sailor Mars, from Wikipedia

Pic 2: Oka Megumi Voltes V, from Voltes V Shrine

Pic 3: Rei Hino Sailor Mars, from this site

Pic 4: Oka Megumi Voltes V, from Voltes V Shrine

Monday, 7 April 2008

It’s official: I’m in love with the Nemesis!

Well, okay. The pre-crisis, Brave and the Bold Nemesis, created by Cary Burkett and Dan Spiegle. NOT the current Wonderpig, resurrected by Alan Heinberg and made worse by Ms. Jodi Picoult (no offence, I think both Mr. Heinberg and Ms. Picoult are great writers in their own media, i.e. television and novel, respectively), the Special Agent Tom Tresser who roams the realms of Wonder Woman comics, tainting the wonders Ms. Gail Simone has brought us with her great story telling. Anyway, I’m not going to waste the introductory paragraph telling why I don’t like the modern incarnation of Nemesis a.k.a. Special Agent Tom Tresser. Instead, I’m going to tell why I love the pre-crisis, 80s Nemesis. Because of what Batman said in Brave and the Bold # 170: ‘In the short time we’ve worked together, I’ve seen a man who would risk his life to save another’s’. And Batman was right. This Nemesis was a hero in his own right.

Now I have to explain that, apart from the current WW runs, I’ve never read a single story with Nemesis in it. Burkett and Spiegle first launched Nemesis in the pages of Brave and the Bold 166 (September 1980), read this chronology for better understanding of Nemesis’ appearance in DC Universe. Most of his stories were in Brave and the Bold and Suicide Squad, hence you really have to hunt them on Ebay or other e-shops. Anyway, since I learned that Nemesis made an appearance in WW vol 3 #1, I decided to learn more about this hero. The fact that Alan Heinberg was ridiculously late in delivering his WW episodes gave me more than enough time to do research and, eventually, formed my own image of Nemesis in my head.

During my research, I’ve read many analysis of the pre-crisis Nemesis, which praised him as a cool hero, whose stories are worthy of being collected into a single TPB. One of them is this excellent post of the Comic Treadmill, read it and you will understand what I felt when I read BB 170; CT did a much better job than I could ever do. I also read here and there about Nemesis’ run in the Suicide Squad, his captivity in Russia, and even him threatening Amanda Waller (for Christ’s sake!) when he was about to walk out of the SS. So far I know, Nemesis was the only man who would threaten Waller like that. The other guy would be the Batman, of course. And I can imagine Wonder Woman one on one with Amanda Waller in a very interesting political/philosophical conversation (that’s never shown in the comics, I guess, but it’s not far fetched). Batman and Wonder Woman are my favourite DC characters (thus, my pairing them); hence levelling Nemesis on par with them speaks volume. And, as I read those reviews and summaries from the web, I began to imagine what kind of person the real Nemesis was, and I began to think ‘Hey, I might like this guy!’

It turned out that I was correct. As I finished reading BB 170 just now, I read of a Nemesis that was brave, rather sombre due to his past (his brother Craig Tresser died after being trapped into killing Ben Marshall, a father figure for both Craig and Tom), rather secretive in the beginning (understandably), but eventually trusted and teamed up with the Batman to defeat the Head (who was, really, only a head, figuratively speaking). This Nemesis was dark enough to be a Batman-lite, with mirroring background as what Bruce Wayne experienced (family member killed tragically, though in Tom’s case, it happened when he was already a grown up, hence his scar should heal faster than Bruce’s scar, whose parents were killed when he was only a boy), and he would walk the fine line between justice and vengeance during his missions.

This Nemesis (praise Jim Aparo for his stunning artworks in BB 170) had similar facial expression with the Batman; eyebrows knitted together while he was thinking. He had similar MO with the Batman, even darker, as he worked totally alone. He did not abhor the use of guns, though, and that’s where the Dark Knight had to warn him against using guns while they were on the same team. Anyway, as BB 170 was written by Cary Burkett, the man who created Nemesis for the first time anyway, I take that this Nemesis was THE Nemesis he should be. A brave hero that will try to uphold justice, or die trying. Heh, even Comic Treadmill said that Nemesis was the best partner for the Batman in Brave and the Bold, and I have to agree with that. With one side note: Diana Prince or Wonder Woman as the best female partner for the Batman in this series.

There is one more reason why I love the Burkett-Spiegle Tom Tresser: he was definitely not a piggish boy. The Burkett-Spiegle Nemesis was not the young blond boy who flirts with Black Canary and Wonder Woman in the current WW runs and at the same time being a male chauvinist pig to Special Agent Diana Prince (who is, of course, Wonder Woman in disguise). In fact, I cannot imagine the Burkett-Spiegle Tom Tresser as someone who will flirt with Diana of Themyscira (or Diana Prince, your pick). Even if he liked WW so much, this Nemesis would not say things that Special Agent Tom Tresser often say now to Wonder Woman. He would be discreet enough to admire her from a distance, ready to protect her, but not getting too close to her for whatever reason. He might team up again with the Batman and, after closing a hard murderer case, he would – very occasionally – say something about how amazing Wonder Woman was, but he would not pursue further. He and the Batman would sit silent with double espresso on their hands, looking at the bright moon, each pondering the possibility of getting closer to the Amazon Princess, but had no guts to do that. For both think of Diana as this amazing goddess they look up to, but dare not touch; for if they touch her, they might taint her light with their hands. That’s the Burkett-Spiegle Nemesis I imagine, romance-wise. Very much like the Batman, sans cowl and cape.

And the Burkett-Spiegle Nemesis in action? Well, I’ve just finished BB 170, and I am on the prowl for BB 193 where Nemesis died during his second team up with the Batman (don’t worry, he was actually saved, and then joined Suicide Squad afterwards). I don’t think I have budget and time to hunt down other Nemesis-related DC comics (Suicide Squad and other BB issues), but I am now 100% supporting the release of a Trade Paperback of Nemesis, from his Brave and the Bold era to the end of Suicide Squad. See this impressive list for a possible thick TPB. We can include the Catwoman and Superman issues, for I also want to read how other writers interpret the Burkett-Spiegle Nemesis in other storylines. From what I’ve heard, Nemesis’ appearance in the Catwoman was rather out of character (he asked her to teach him how to infiltrate an enemy’s HQ or something). Well, he might be OOC then… but I would still consider it FINE compared to the Wonder Pig Nemesis we currently read almost monthly in Wonder Woman.

Bottom line: Print the 80s and 90s stories of Nemesis into one TPB, and kick this current Nemesis out of Wonder Woman comics. Don’t kill him; just kick him out of the pages. The current Nemesis does not deserve the great name of Nemesis, for clearly he’s just a ridiculous young boy who does not know what prudence means, for he does not even have a modicum of decorum in his bones. A shame for the legacy of Burkett-Spiegle Nemesis.

Further reading:

Pic 1: Brave and the Bold 193

Pic 2: Nemesis threatens Amanda Waller, from Wikipedia

Pic 3: Brave and the Bold 170

Pic 4: Modern Tom Tresser and Diana Prince. Do I have to tell you how many fans got irked after the silly portrayal of Diana Prince here? Nope.

PS 24 April 2008:

My new theory about the association between the current Nemesis and the real Nemesis is posted in the Wonder Woman DC message board here.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Hallelujah... So much magnificence

The darkness of night
is coming along fast,
and the shadows of love
close in the body and the mind.
Open the window to the west,
and disappear into the air inside you.
Near your breastbone, there is an open flower.
Drink the honey that is all around that flower.

Waves are coming in:
There is so much magnificence near the ocean.
Listen: sound of immense seashells!
Sound of bells!
Kabir says: 'Friend, listen,
This is what I have to say:
The Guest I love is inside me!'


from Miten with Deva Premal 'Songs for the Inner Lover'

Side note: Join Avaaz Petition to bring justice to Tibet, to restore the Tibetan culture and sovereignty to her own people!