Comic Book Chatter

This is the place where you can confab about all the other stuff besides videogames.
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Alex79uk
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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Alex79uk » January 23rd, 2018, 8:17 am

I mentioned it yesterday before accidentally deleting my post, but GOTHAM CENTRAL is absolutely outstanding. The best comic writing I've read in years, it's just pure top quality stuff. I read the entire first TPB in bed last night, and haven't read anything this brilliant in ages.

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by DomsBeard » January 23rd, 2018, 11:14 am

Alex79uk wrote:
January 23rd, 2018, 8:17 am
I mentioned it yesterday before accidentally deleting my post, but GOTHAM CENTRAL is absolutely outstanding. The best comic writing I've read in years, it's just pure top quality stuff. I read the entire first TPB in bed last night, and haven't read anything this brilliant in ages.
Had my eye on that for a while so will pick it up at some point.

Read Volume 8 of Saga last night, not sure what to make of it really but still probably the best thing I have read outside of Batman and Co.

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Stanshall » January 27th, 2018, 5:03 pm

Berserk by Kentaro Miura

Beginnings

I came to this manga off the back of a long lasting love of the Souls games and having heard several times that Miyazaki took a lot of influence from Berserk. I'd never read any manga in my life and only a few graphic novels, so I thought I'd just give the 1997 anime a go. It's no exaggeration to say that it made a profound impact on me because of its beauty and warmth and camaraderie and philosophy and humanity, and because of its unimaginable horror and sense of wonder.

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Souls

It's a massive influence on the Souls games, both aesthetically and thematically. In fact, the Souls games would simply not exist without Berserk. So many of the enemy and NPC and monster and weapon and armour designs come either directly from Berserk or are heavily influenced by it. Artorias is essentially Guts, the Stoic protagonist struggling to keep his humanity in direct combat with the abyss. There is an enormous amount and I won't spoil anything with too much explicit description.

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Violence

I quite enjoy a scary film once in a while and I'm not averse to combat in fiction (except gore for the sake of gore) but I found Berserk aggressively intense. Fair warning. I sat with the memories of the anime for a while before starting the manga, which I thought would be overfacing in its length (it's been running, with various breaks, since 1989) but I've motored through it and I'm nearly up to date. Don't feel put off by the fact it's not finished, four major arcs have been completed and they're all stunning. As is the artwork. It is extremely violent, though. It's cathartic, because you know how hard it is for Guts to survive and you know what he's been through, but it's hard-hitting. He has a sword like an iron door and ends up looking like this quite a lot:

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Humanity

Despite the medieval violence, literally, and several instances of rape it's no exercise in exploitation. At heart, it's a very powerful exploration of friendship, love, loss and motivation. It has a hell of a lot of heart and humour, as well as some pretty heavy existentialism verging on nihilism but which is ultimately quite a Taoist perspective. There's no outright moral centre to the universe, or to mankind, and you must make your own decisions and live with the rewards and consequences as best you can.

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The Band of the Hawk

The relationship between Guts, Griffith, Casca and the Band of the Hawk during the Golden Age arc is as complex and real and loving and painful as anything I've ever read. I'd go further and say that Berserk also has some of the most jaw-dropping moments of any visual art I've seen. It stayed with me for days. It's still with me, really. No matter how old I am, I will always want to know how Berserk finally resolves the central relationship. You'll know why if and when you get there, and it happens pretty early on into the run.

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The Golden Age

If you are in any way intrigued by anything I've written (or much more likely by the amazing artwork), I'd say give The Golden Age arc a go, either with the manga or with the 97 anime, all of which is on YouTube, and which is superb albeit slightly low budget. It's almost a promo for the manga in that it ends at a moment that you will absolutely need to continue with the narrative. It's basically why I read the manga. There are also three recent animated movies which summarise the Golden Age. They seem pretty good, too, even though the CGI isn't as pretty or meditative as the gorgeous older anime and it's lacking a bit of something at times. Either way, the big moments are done right. It's partly about a band of mercenaries, partly Guts' origin story, partly an amazingly deep friendship, and partly something else entirely.

I hope you give it a go.

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by KSubzero1000 » January 27th, 2018, 6:06 pm

Stanshall wrote:
January 27th, 2018, 5:03 pm
I hope you give it a go.
I've been meaning to get into Berserk for a while, despite not being much of a manga / anime person in general, simply because of how two of my favourite game franchises (Souls and Fire Emblem Tellius) are often said to have been inspired by it. Your post might very well be the final push I need to get started!

I do, however, have a few questions first. I would prefer to avoid watching it on YouTube if possible, so I'm currently ogling these two boxsets:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Berserk-Golden ... amp;sr=8-2
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Berserk-Collec ... Y09DCKC4G1

Am I understanding this correctly that the two don't overlap, as the former encapsulates the recent Golden Age movies, and the latter all episodes of the 1997 anime series? If I were to buy both, I wouldn't end up buying the same stuff twice, would I?

Are the two sharing a single continuity? If so, should I watch the anime first?

Also, how come the official Golden Age Wikipedia article tells me it's made of three movies with a combined runtime of 288 minutes, but the above boxset has a runtime of 582 minutes instead?

Any help would be greatly appreciated! This stuff is so confusing...


Edit: No, hold on... the three movies only summarize the arc, so it is included in the anime? I'm lost!

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Stanshall » January 27th, 2018, 8:03 pm

Basically, for your first link, the three Golden Age movies, which were made quite recently, cover almost entirely the same material as the 97 anime (Golden Age arc) but with various relatively small additions and omissions. I think the narrative goes a little beyond the 97 but to no particular end. They're generally not very well regarded because of the mix of 2D and CGI animation, and some other stuff but I'm not a big anime fan so that didn't really bother me. I just didn't think it was as beautiful or peaceful or distinctive.

The 97 anime covers The Golden Age arc, with some omissions from the manga to remove some backstory and a couple of characters/side stories to keep it more focused and tonally consistent. There's also some stuff that is uncomfortable enough in the manga which I simply wouldn't want to see animated. I can't be much more explicit than that.

The 97 would be my recommendation, though. It just seems to have more heart, and the running time means there's more exploration of the Band of the Hawk and the dynamics between the main characters. It also has a lovely 'mystical' 90s ambient soundtrack and the main title theme is so incongruous and catchy, I can't help but love it.

I'd also say that the first (quite short) arc of the manga slightly spoils some major Golden Age stuff so the 97 is actually a great place to start. I'll look forward to maybe hearing your thoughts on it at some point in the future.

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by KSubzero1000 » January 27th, 2018, 8:22 pm

Okay, so:

Second link is the complete 97 anime series, which is the version to watch if I want to get the original purist experience instead of the newfangled abridged stuff. But the anime itself is only a retelling of the first volume of the manga, which means that if I want more after watching it, I'll still have several more volumes to check out (which have not been adapted). Am I understanding this correctly?

(I'm sorry if I'm testing your patience with all these questions, but I'm completely in the dark and I want to get it right. I'm also paranoid about spoilers so I hesitate to look up any official sources.)

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Stanshall » January 27th, 2018, 9:00 pm

Not at all, mate. I'm very happy to talk about it!

You're pretty much correct that the 97 anime covers only a small portion of the overall work. It covers the second of five arcs, with the fifth still ongoing. If you were to just buy the Golden Age manga, it would be around ten volumes, each of around 150-250 pages. There's therefore relatively little of the manga which has been adapted. I think there's a newer season or something covering some of the next arc but I haven't seen any of it, I heard pretty poor reports.

If you enjoy the anime, my advice would be to go back to the start of the manga and take it all in. Without being specific, the anime cuts out quite a bit, not just narrative and side stories. I really enjoyed the anime a lot but I think the manga is something to savour. You won't be bored covering story elements you've already seen, because there's a lot more depth, both visually and in terms of characterisation.

Again, a fair warning: If I didn't make it clear enough, before you order, it is extremely violent, decapitation and limbs flying are very common and relatively mild, in comparison. The manga also features rape at various points. Be assured that it's not in the slightest titillating and is bound to character development. I'm reluctant to mention anything like that because you want to avoid spoilers but I think it's important that I make that very clear, not knowing your sensibilities or sensitivities. I would say that the anime will be a good benchmark of whether you'd like to go further.

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by KSubzero1000 » January 27th, 2018, 9:36 pm

Stanshall wrote:
January 27th, 2018, 9:00 pm
If you enjoy the anime, my advice would be to go back to the start of the manga and take it all in.
That's what I was planning on doing. I'll check out the 97 anime series and maybe try out the manga afterwards.

I assume it's a traditional japanese manga that needs to be read from the back? It probably sounds silly of me to ask, but my experiences are indeed very limited!

I found this listing of all the volumes which does seem like a lot! Out of curiosity, which one are you currently reading?

Stanshall wrote:
January 27th, 2018, 9:00 pm
Again, a fair warning: If I didn't make it clear enough, before you order, it is extremely violent
Yes, you were quite clear in your summary. I took it under advisement, but thanks for reminding me. I'm far from a gorehound, but I think I should have the stomach for it, especially if it isn't gratuitous and serves the story. In fact, it's probably this philosophical aspect you described that interests me the most, I'd say.

Anyway, thanks for the shill- ahem I mean recommendation! I'll make sure to post some feedback along the way. :)

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Stanshall » January 27th, 2018, 10:04 pm

I'm currently on volume 34. Miura has recently started releasing new chapters after quite a long hiatus so I think I'm about four volumes behind. I'm reading the Dark Horse English translations and you 'turn' the pages left to right, but you read each individual page right to left. It sounds awkward but you very quickly get used to it. I'm reading it now, in fact! I hope you enjoy the anime when it turns up.

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Alex79uk » January 28th, 2018, 8:02 am

I got a few of the Death Note books years back and just couldn't get to grips with reading it backwards at all, felt so awkward!

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Stanshall » January 28th, 2018, 9:56 am

I've read the occasional thing right to left in Chinese and the act of turning the pages the 'wrong' way is awkward and I couldn't get used to it. Reading the pages left to right but panels right to left isn't half as tricky, though, which is the format Berserk is in.

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Alex79uk » February 11th, 2018, 4:56 pm

I finished the entire 40 issue run of Gotham Central the other day and meant to post about it. I've been reading comics for over 30 years, and I'm having trouble thinking of reasons why I can't shoot it straight up to my all time favorite series. I think my pure nostalgia for Sandman, being the series that really lifted comics to another level for me and reawakened a passion that had slightly slipped at the time, is the only reason I still have the lord of dreams at my #1 spot.

But Gotham Central was absolutely superb. Just brilliant writing, great stories and a fantastic cast. The sense of grime and corruption coming from some of those pages was almost tangible. I cannot recommend the series enough. Even if you're not a Batman fan, the series stands on its own two feet with ease - indeed, Batman scarcely makes an appearance over the whole run. It is the best thing I have read in years - including 'normal' books.

Check it out right now.

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Flabyo » February 12th, 2018, 8:25 am

While we’re on the Sandman, if you’re a fan of that you absolutely need to read the most recent one “Sandman: Overture” It acts as a sort of coda on the whole thing, ties together a few things without ruining any of the mystery of it all.

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Alex79uk » February 23rd, 2018, 12:05 pm

Flabyo wrote:
February 12th, 2018, 8:25 am
While we’re on the Sandman, if you’re a fan of that you absolutely need to read the most recent one “Sandman: Overture” It acts as a sort of coda on the whole thing, ties together a few things without ruining any of the mystery of it all.
I got the hardback for Christmas last year, but told myself I wanted to read back through the entire series before reading it. As such, it is still on my bookshelf in its cellophane wrapping :( I really do need to get to it, I keep kicking myself for getting distracted by other comics.

Speaking of which, I am currently about halfway through Grant Morrison's entire run on Batman. I dipped in years back, hated it, and never went back. I'm actually enjoying it this time though. Although Final Crisis is still an absolute hot mess of shit. I stand by that one!

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Alex79uk » March 17th, 2018, 1:44 pm

I finally finished the entire Grant Morrison run on Batman, around 150 issues from Batman & Son through the Black Glove, Batman RIP, Final Crisis, on to The Return Of Bruce Wayne and Batman Inc.

And, despite there being the odd flash of brilliance, I can now say with true conviction, that the majority of it is an absolute mess.

Grant Morrison is one of the worst comic book writers of all time. This isn't an alternative or unusual point of view. His work on Batman was incredibly divisive. Some claimed he was the second coming for comic books, but there were plenty who found his work to be a bloated, obtuse heap of shite. I place myself firmly with the latter.

It's disappointing, but I'm very glad I read them because I've spent years feeling like I ought to put the effort in to reading it all, having not really given it a fair chance in the past.

Well now I have, and it's a load of utter shite.

Interested to hear if anyone else has ever put themselves through the same ordeal, and what they made of it?

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Alex79uk » March 25th, 2018, 1:15 pm

I've been reading the comic book adaption of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. It's really rather good. The first story arc, Shadows, concluded a while back, and now the second part has started. If anyone is familiar with the story, the first arc brings you up to where Shadow leaves the home of the funeral directors and arc 2, My Ainsel, picks back up with Shadow taking residence in the small town of Lakeside.

I recommend to anyone who's a fan of the novel/TV series/Gaiman, or anyone who likes stories!

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by Alex79uk » April 8th, 2018, 5:59 pm

Curiosity finally got the better of me and I decided to read some of Kevin Smith's much derided work on Batman. As far as I can make out, there are only two limited series he's written for the Bat. Cacophony, a three part mini series, and The Widening Gyre, a planned 12 part series, which was seemingly abandoned after six issues.

I just read Cacophony. It's nowhere near as bad as some people have made out. The writing is very Kevin Smith - and your mileage may vary with that - but the actual story is fairly good. Certainly not in my top ten Batman stories of all time, but it's not terrible.

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by duskvstweak » May 6th, 2018, 6:45 pm

Alex79uk wrote:
April 8th, 2018, 5:59 pm
Curiosity finally got the better of me and I decided to read some of Kevin Smith's much derided work on Batman. As far as I can make out, there are only two limited series he's written for the Bat. Cacophony, a three part mini series, and The Widening Gyre, a planned 12 part series, which was seemingly abandoned after six issues.

I just read Cacophony. It's nowhere near as bad as some people have made out. The writing is very Kevin Smith - and your mileage may vary with that - but the actual story is fairly good. Certainly not in my top ten Batman stories of all time, but it's not terrible.
Both are alright, aside from Widening Gyre's unresolved cliffhanger. The only gripe I had was that his take of the Joker in Cacophony didn't have much to say about the Joker that hasn't already been said. It's still entertaining, but not a key piece of Batman lore.

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by duskvstweak » May 6th, 2018, 6:47 pm

I just started using Marvel Unlimited this January and it's been great to be reading through all the comics I missed during college and adult life. Weirdly, I've been reading lots of Punisher, Moon Knight and Ghost Rider, so I guess I've become a 15 year old in the 90s?
But I'm back to catching up on my X-Men, such as finishing Peter David's X-Factor and Remender's Uncanny X-Force. So much good stuff!

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Re: Comic Book Chatter

Post by duskvstweak » May 14th, 2018, 3:56 pm

So, I finished Peter David's 2005 run of X-Factor. It was such a good series, I'll miss it.
I can't say I'll miss Astonishing X-Men, which I finally finished as well. From a Joss Whedon vehicle to a place for smaller writers to write mediocre X-stories. I didn't even love the Whedon stuff back in the day!

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