Birthright


 

Disclaimer: this review will be filled with spoilers galore, proceed at your own peril!

 

Overview:
On the surface, Birthright is a very familiar story: a champion from Earth destined to vanquish a great evil and free the mystical land.  The tale is far being so straightforward and black & white.  Michael “Mikey” Rhodes was an average little boy when he was taken to Terrenos by the freedom fighters and returned to Earth a victorious yet battle hardened man with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Time flows faster in Terrenos than it  does in Earth: a year on Earth is approximately 20-30 years on Terrenos. His disappearance also shattered his family: leaving Aaron Rhodes, his father, accused of his murder and an alcoholic to cope with the ordeal; his mother left his father & believing that Aaron had done the unthinkable; and Brennan Rhodes, his older brother, was left to deal with the loss of his baby brother, the fracture of his parents’ marriage, and bullying at school.
His miraculous return only plunged his family into deeper chaos.  Mikey was revealed to be an agent of Lore (the monstrous despot he was “destined” to defeat) and infected with the Nevermind, an extension of Lore that “guides” him.  His purpose on Earth was to murder the five mages who created a barrier that prevents Lore from entering Earth.  He enlisted the aid of Brennan & Aaron on his mission.  His mother still in shock over her sweet little boy returning as a hulking bearded barbarian opted to not join.  Mickey is able to murder to mages, Ward and Kylen, but not without revealing his true colors first to Brennan and then the rest of his family.  Aaron’s father, Sameal, turns out to be one of the mages and he is forced to slay Enoch, his fellow mage & friend, to protect his grandson.  The only female mage, Mastema, is the opportunistic daughter of Lore (who bears a strong resemblance to Mickey in his youth).  She informed Rya, (Mickey’s lover/mother of his child/fellow freedom fighter) and his mother that Mickey isn’t the chosen one, they made it up to give the freedom fighters hope and Lore was the true chosen one of Terrenos.
What I love: 
How gray the world is! The mages, more or less, gave up on Terrenos and left the freedom fighters to fend for themselves. Despite preventing Lore from entering Earth, they left their people to suffer while they enjoy relatively better lives.  Kylen murders an entire SWAT team to frame Mikey. Mastema contemplates betraying the mages and return to Lore to save her own skin.  Mikey willing let Lore infect him for his chance to return to his family: he understands what he must do but he’s conflicted.  The sadness & regret is so tangible when his old and new family reject him when his deeds are revealed.  Lore believes that he’s doing what he must to accomplish his vision of a peaceful Terrenos.  Kallista is a foreshadow of Mikey’s eventual choice: like him, she was a freedom fighter who became a host of the Nevermind & agent of Lore.  It seems like she relishes in the heinous acts.  Brennan’s attempt to exercise the Nevermind is also a foreshadow of Sameal’s attempt.  Mikey is far more crafty and calculating than his “brutish barbarian” appearance.
What I don’t dig:
Waiting 30+ days for new issues!
Where can you get it?
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Last Man review


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RundownLast Man is a French comic by Bastien Vives, Michael Sanlaville, and Balak. I first encountered it back in 2015 (thumbed through it at Barnes & Nobles). It recently came into my possession as a belated birthday gift.

What I loved: The world is a wondrous amalgam of things I love such as shounen manga, medieval tales, 80’s action films. characters made the story enjoyable. Richard Aldana is the epitome of the action heroes of yesteryear. He has the charisma/confidence of a John MacLane and the combat prowess of a Bruce Lee. Adrian Velba is such a sweet and innocent kid who reminded me of a mix of Son Tony and Uzumaki Naruto. Marianne Velba is an awesome mom who reminded me of Susan Richards (formerly Storm) minus the cosmic radiation powers.

What I disliked: The volume felt too short, I was done in 15 minutes and I have been jonezing for more ever since!

Buy or Browse: If you’re a fan of mangas, a good story, etc… GET IT NOW!

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Fantastic Four: 2015


This idea was inspired by Astro City and its real time aging component.  The premise is what if Marvel Heroes aged in real time.  The focus is on the third generation of the Fantastic Four, the teenage descendants of various heroes.

MEET THE TEAM:

Reed Richard‘s successor is Bianca Von Doom.  She is the daughter of Valeria Richards and Bentley-23 (son/clone of the Wizard).  She inherited her mother’s fondness of the Latvarian Monarch and legally changed her last name to Von Doom.  Bianca is a brilliant inventor like her parents and her grandparents.  Her hubris unfortunately led to the disfigurement of her twin brother, Bentley.  Her most notable Invention is R.E.I.D (Remote Exploration Intelligence Droid).  It is a swarm of microscopic H.E.R.B.I.E’s composed of Unstable Molecules that functions as a utility fog.  It can transform any device Bianca needs.

Visual reference for R.E.I.D swarm component (H.E.R.B.I.E by by Jamal Igle)

Wizard_Last_Man_Standing_Herbie_vs._H.E.R.B.I.E.

Ben Grimm‘s successor is Bentley Richards.  He is the twin brother of Bianca Von Doom.  He inherited his father’s and uncle’s love for adventure/daredevil attitude.  Bentley is frequently the test subject for his sister experiments.  His natural body was consumed during the testing of an Exploration-based Thing Suit.  Fortunately, his parents, with assistance from Alyssa Moy, restored a semblance of his natural form through the integration of a life model decoy.  On the surface, his current form is a life model decoy replica of his original body.  Internally, it is a next generation Thing Suit with the offensive capabilities of Mindless One and quantum-enhancements of Cosmic Man’s molecular structure. Its structure is enhanced by cosmic earth, water, and wind.  The force beam is augmented by cosmic fire.

Visual Reference for Bentley’s mechanical nature (Livewires by Adam Warren)

livewires1

Sue Richard‘s successor is Walter Bruce Hayes.  He is the son of Molly Hayes and Skaar.  He is the baby of the group, he is idealistic just like his mother was at his age.  His mother’s mutant gene and his father’s hybrid irradiated genes resulted in his Gamma-enhanced personal telekinetic field.  Walter manipulates it into simulating superhuman strength, accelerated speed, invulnerability, and instantaneous healing.  His field strength is linked to his emotional state like others of Banner ancestry.  Like his mother, his eyes glow and his body is surrounded by an aura when his powers are activated.

Visual Reference for Walter’s powers (Molly Hayes by Jo Chen)

RUNAWAYS_15_Jo_Chen

Johnny Storm‘s successor is Henrietta Pym.  She is the granddaughter of Peter Parker and Henry Pym.  Her posthuman biology led to a severe birth defect that led to her heart being replaced with a synthezoid prosthesis.  She has a normal childhood until she hit puberty.  Sometime after her thirteenth birthday, the heart triggered her dormant posthuman genes.  Henrietta transformed her into an ionic being similar to Wonder Man.  The ionic form grants her evolved extrasensory perceptiom that enables her to control bugs and use their senses to extend her perception.  She also gains superhuman strength, enhanced agility, hyper flexibility, bioelectric sting generation, wall crawling, and density manipulation.

Visual reference for Henrietta’s powers (Astra Furst by Alex Ross)

Astro_City_Astra_Spc1_sm

Terra Battle: Tactical Fantasy


What is Terra Battle?

Terra Battle is an RPG mobile game available on Google Play. It has four races, human, lizardmen, beast folk, and stone folk. Standard job classes like archer, healer, mage, knight, and warrior are present. A mage can have affinity to the following elements: fire, ice, lightning, and darkness.

How is it a tactical fantasy?

The human job classes wear similar attire and have a military aesthetic.  The uniforms aren’t near Modern Warfare or Call of Duty level of advancement.  They have a post Industrial Revolution flair that is reminiscent of the Order 1886.

Archer

Archer

Healer

Healer

Knight

Knight

Mage

Mage_(Fire) Mage_(Lightning) Mage_(Ice) Mage_(Darkness) Warrior

Warrior

Art Acknowledgements:

The art is by Kimihiko Fujisaka

Alex Wilder (from the Runaways) remix


Who is Alex Wilder?

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Don’t want to spoil Runaways for anyone, so I will only say that he is the only normal human member of the team. He lacks superpowers/magical artifacts/advanced technology, but makes up for it in intelligence.

My take on Alex:

Screenshot_2015-06-19-00-39-20-1

This Alex hails from the Maestro’s Battle World domain.  He is the only survivor of the Pride, a band of freedom fighters handpicked by the Gibborims (an ancient race of mystical giants).  He was recruited by the Victor Von Doom Institute of Gifted Youth.  His analytical mind earned him the favor of the headmaster and ultimately led to his banishment to SHIELD.

The Abstract:

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The Abstract is a Gibborim tome that contains the essence of the Pride.  It enables its user to do the following:

  1. Temporal Manipulation: alters user’s personal time frame to give the illusion of super speed and reject sustained damage.
  2. Summoning: calls forth minions in the form of: Mancha Raptors (electricity-discharging cybernetic dinosaurs derived from Ultron technology & genetic samples from the Far East domain) & Stein-Droid (an advanced hacking robot based on the Leapfrog).
  3. Light Manipulation: generates hard light shields and intense lasers.
  4. Casting: wields a variety of stored eldritch algorithms.
  5. Glamour: creates elaborate illusions that temporarily subverts reality.

Visual Reference (velociraptor):

Velociraptor_dinoguy2

Art Acknowledgements:

Doom Institute by Sanford Greene, Runaways cover by Jo Chen & Alex Wilder panel by Adrian Alphona

Tactical Fantasy Concept by Eliot Min


Dungeons and Dragons meets Call of Duty is the best way I could describe “Tactical Fantasy”.  First came across the term on Eliot Min’s deviantArt page and was Wowed by the artwork/fleshed out concept.  He took the standard classes and polished them off with modern combat sensibility.  Would love to see this concept realized in a next gen video game franchise.  Hope Mr. Min expands his Hungry Hounds roster to include other D & D staples like a cleric or assassin.

The Hungry Hounds Insignia:

hungry_hounds

The Tactical Knight:

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The battlefield has always needed a warrior that can physically move the line of action. The Knight determines the line of enemy contact with his presence. Brute strength and sheer determination pushes his enemies back, and with his battle hardened long sword, he is able to strike down the enemy. With his team behind him, he jumps into the fray and engages in close quarter combat. If any order is to be seen in the theatre of war, it’s thanks to the Knight being able to hold his ground.

To be victorious in C.Q.C., the Knight needs 3 things. Speed, surprise, and violence of action. To assist him, he is suited with these three goals in mind. Sand filled carbotanium armor keeps the Knight’s center mass protected, while reducing noise from what was once made from steel plates.

Cutting edge polymer plastics constitute the Knight’s tower shield. This clear polymer “riot shield” allows the knight to keep key members of his team and himself safe as he barrels through combat areas while giving him the situational awareness he needs to safely navigate the battlefield.

The Knight’s motto is to never lose his sword once drawn. But in the reality of battle, amidst the confusion and madness of a skirmish, soldiers have found it difficult to live by that motto. With the Thrdhnd™ sling system, we make that goal a little bit easier. Connected to the long sword’s ring pommel via carabiner, the Thrdhnd™ forms an unbreakable connection between the sword and its operator.

The Tactical Archer:

tactical_archer_by_niw-d7ano6k

The modern mobile assault team is said to be built around the Archer. What separates the Archer from other combat operatives is the Archer’s ability to reach high value targets from far distances. Modern tactics have been sculpted around this aspect, and typically teams are assembled with the objective of providing the Archer with a clear shot.

Because an Archer’s shot is imbued with such importance in missions, there has been continuous efforts towards maximizing the impact of the Archer’s payload. The bow string of a mil spec long range bow platform is said to have enough tensile strength to cut through soft wood. At a full draw, this high tension spider silk bow string allows the arrow to reach its target at super sonic speeds, while arrow shafts are milled from aircraft aluminum to ensure minimum mid flight flexing. But it’s most often the arrowhead that is crafted with the most exotic materials, ranging from high carbon steels to depleted uranium.

Though the main objective of the Archer is to send accurate shots to eliminate essential targets, the harsh demands of combat and ever increasing tensile strength of the bow string necessitated the development of a new hands free/ bow hand support system. Cutting edge gyro scope technology now allows the Archer to take both hands away from his primary weapon to adjust arrowheads, switch to his secondary weapon, or make quick adjustments to his bow without having to break his sight picture. This new anchor point assisting levers system, or APAL system allows the Archer not only to load his arrow to his rig and go hands free, but allows him to concentrate on observation and surveillance without having to sacrifice the time it takes to get that crucial arrow down range.

The Tactical Mage:

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The persistent challenge facing the modern mage is the need for a consistent mana source in an ever changing combat environment and the stealth needed for the mage to finish reciting his spells without being detected by the enemy. With the patented BakTac™ Ghillie suit system, you can carry your favorite mana rich vegetation on you at all times.

The BakTac™ system allows you to create a mini Eco-system you can pull from whenever necessary. Add high mana generating poison spiders and black adders to the mix for on the fly sacrifices needed for spell boosts when encountering pinch situations.

Paired with the TuffTome™ digital display spell book, the modern mage now boasts the most compact magic systems in history, ready for any challenge in the modern battlefield.

The Tactical Bard:

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If there was one operative that can set the tempo for a combat situation, it would have to be the Bard. Her objective isn’t to send direct damage down range, but to manipulate battle situations through less than lethal means. Though it’s rare that a Bard will boast a high kill count, it’s thanks to her the term “psychological warfare” has been coined.

Outfitted with a high decibel tactical P.A. system, her influence on the battlefield is greatly amplified. With just her lute and voice, she sings songs that can mould the psyche of her enemies. In some cases, through singing highly classified songs, Bards have convinced enemy combatants to simply walk away from a battlefield out of home sickness.

Mobile assault teams with Bards as part of their group train rigorously together. To the point that they seem to develop their own language. This is important because if communication lines are down, the Bard is able to communicate songs of battlefield situations to just her team through her back mounted P.A. system.

In breaching missions she is invaluable. She can throw short band high fidelity wireless speakers calibrated to her throat mic into sealed rooms to sing songs of confusion before sending in the entire team to overwhelm the enemy.

Art Acknowledgements:

Everything was created by Eliot Min. His tumblr is: http://niwindustries.tumblr.com

Naruto: An unexpected gem for Scifi fans


I don’t know about you but I would never expect to see body modification, body horror, or genetic experimentation in a ninja themed manga.  It’s all in Masahi Kishimoto’s Naruto.

Disclaimer: THE CONTENT BELOW IS FILLED WITH SPOILERS! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN PERIL!

Madara Uchiha implanted his rival, Hashirama Senju’s DNA into his body and gained his botanical manipulation ninjutsu.  A strange growth that resembled Hashirama appeared on his chest as a result.

Studio Pierrot sketches for Madara Uchiha

Obito, descendant of the legendary Uchiha clan, was grievously injured in combat and would have perished without Madara’s intervention.  Madara replaced damaged limbs with White Zetsu parts (a White Zetsu is essentially an artificial plant being derived from Hashirama Senju and possessing botanical manipulation and shape shifting abilities).  Obito could sprout thorns and grow trees from his Zetsu parts.

Studio Pierrot sketches for Obito

Studio Pierrot for Obito 3

Studio Pierrot for Obito 2

Nagato, a descendant of the Uzumaki clan and recipient of Madara’s Rinnegans (a Rinnegan is an ocular mutation possessed by the creator of ninjutsu, the Sage of the Six Path). He was able to manifest black rods on his back which enabled him to animate cadavers, replicate the Rinnegan within them, and utilize the Sage ninjutsu through them.  He is able to “operate” 6 proxies remotely, see through their eyes, and coordinate attacks.

Nagato:

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 9

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 1

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 2

Nagato’s Proxies:

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 3

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 4

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 5

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 6

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 7

Studio Pierrot sketches for Nagato 8

Kabuto, the medical ninja and faithful apprentice of Orochimaru, build upon the genetic research of his master & experimented on himself. He integrated his master’s true form (Orochimaru’s true form is serpentine and composed of a mass of white snakes as a result of his experimentation) into himself and the genetic material of Orochimaru’s elite minions.  Kabuto’s skin became scaly and white, his eyes became serpentine and he gained a body similar to a naga (with a chimera tail). When he entered Sage Mode, he regained humanoid legs, grew horns, and the “chimera tail” moved to his belly button.  His “tail” could replicate the forms of the genetic donors & manifest their unique abilities.

Default Mode:

Studio Pierrot sketches for Kabuto 3

Sage Mode:

Studio Pierrot sketches for Kabuto 1

Studio Pierrot sketches for Kabuto 2

Shin Uchiha is a former test subject and experiment of Orochimaru. His unique body accepted all transplanted organs and genetic material.  He was cloned in order to discover the secret of his unique physiology.  He possesses a transplanted Sharingan eye in his right eye socket (a Sharingan is an ocular mutation unique to the Uchiha clan and consumes a massive amount of energy when transplanted in and used by non-Uchiha).  He has numerous Sharingans all over his body.  He can teleport with his fully evolved eye and control objects he marked telekinetically. He can see through a proxy Sharingan creature and utilize the teleportation ability.

Shin's_father

Shin's_Father_(Arm_of_Sharingan)

Shin's_Mangeky _Sharingan

Spy Creature:

Spying_device

Art Acknowledgements:

Original Art by Masashi Kishimoto and the animation cells are by Studio Pierrot