Advertisements

Tag Archive: Frank Miller 300


Toshiro cover

A steampunk robot samurai.  And Civil War era zombies.

It’s the Dark Horse June 2014 release of Jai Nitz (Dream Thief, Kato, Tron: Betrayal, El Diablo) and Janusz Pawlak’s new graphic novel, Toshiro.  We’ve discussed Nitz’s writing plenty of times here at borg.com.  Toshiro is Pawlak’s first published work in comics.

You will love Nitz’s creation story for this mecha-samurai who shares a name with the actor who played one of the most famous samurai on film (Toshirô Mifune’s Kikuchiyo in The Seven Samurai).  Toshiro is a creation of the Northern forces in the Civil War, a self-aware, living robot with a steam-valved heart.  He’s an American-built super-soldier, sold to Japan as the highest bidder.  “Raised” with Japanese traditions and old world values, he winds up in Manchester, England, 1867, with an equally deadly, and maybe wiser, partner.

spatter

Toshiro knows he is machine, yet he reacts as if he is a true samurai.

This is a steampunk buddy cop story, with roots in a story out of a spaghetti Western.  Here a Zorro-esque, anti-hero has a tough-as-nails partner and they live in a world at war, but with incredible tools of battle well ahead of their time.

Polish artist Pawlak’s work is something out of a Quentin Tarentino novel, yet Tarentino’s blood and guts is kids’ stuff compared to Toshiro slicing heads with his katana.

toshiro_tpb_page

Continue reading

Advertisements

Templar cover art

Review by C.J. Bunce

In Jordan Mechner’s new hardcover novel-formatted graphic novel Templar from First Second Publishing, he follows a small band of “everyman” Knights Templar as they attempt to escape the actual erasure of the brotherhood by the current papal regime and minions of the King of France in Paris in the year 1307.  Cinematically rendered–as that term can be used to describe Disney movies such as Aladdin or DreamWorks’ Prince of Egypt, husband and wife artists Alex Puvilland and Leuyen Pham pack in 468 pages of simple yet effective panels that put a historical note on these almost mythic equivalents to the Japanese samurai and the precursors to the space fantasy Jedi Knights.

Mechner pulls themes from a myriad of favorite films to tell the story of Martin and his lost love Isabelle as they briefly reunite during a manhunt for Martin and a ramshackle gathering of fellow Knights who pursue a legendary treasure trove (that ultimately includes the Lost Ark of the Covenant) they believe to be stored in the basement of the villainous Nogaret, which they hope to use to finance a defense against the papacy and the king.  But they are up against a changing age similar to that of The Last Samurai, where the elite guard has served its purpose and now must go.  Martin’s role is like that of William Wallace in Braveheart or Robin in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  The Knights Templar are like the Spartans of Frank Miller’s 300, but without their last stand at Thermopylae.  We get to know the smaller subset more closely, loosely based on an actual group of men who were thought to have escaped being burnt at the stake, these men wander about as a jovial sort despite their lot like the cast of A Knight’s Tale or Robin Hood’s Merry Men.  Isabelle is a well-cast Marion, too, with elements of Blakeney’s wife in The Scarlet Pimpernel. 

Templar interior page

Along the way we meet a kind old Templar Grand Master who, based on a historic figure, is imprisoned and tricked by the King’s men.  His role is that of Thomas Aquinas in A Man for All Seasons–caught in the Catch 22 of the medieval world where you either confess and die a heretic or refuse to confess and die a heretic.

Continue reading

Ben Walker as Lincoln

Would the real Abraham Lincoln please stand up?

With all that has been written and all the photographs we have of Abraham Lincoln, moviemakers keep trying to convey their own visions of the one and true 16th U.S. president.  Americans have such a revered image of Lincoln that Hollywood has rarely portrayed him.  Famed director John Ford’s brother Francis played Lincoln in a 1913 production called When Lincoln Paid.  In 1930 Walter Huston, father of famed director John Huston, portrayed Lincoln in D.W. Griffith’s Abraham Lincoln.  But the two best-known and best-loved performances were by Henry Fonda in John Ford’s 1939 production of Young Mr. Lincoln, and Raymond Massey in 1940’s Abe Lincoln in Illinois.  In 2012 we saw two major movies with Lincoln as the lead character, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln starring Oscar nominee Daniel Day-Lewis, and Benjamin Walker as a younger Lincoln in Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.  The latter was dismissed by critics as fluff for the most part, instead heaping praise on the big Spielberg film.  This is unfortunate, because in any other year Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter might have received a better reception.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter poses the purely fantasy idea that Abe Lincoln was not only a politician and patriot but an apprentice hunter cleaning up the countryside to avoid the spread of vampires throughout the U.S. before and during the Civil War.  Gettysburg wasn’t just about conquering the Southern rebellion, it was about defeating the vampire-laden confederacy.

abraham-lincoln-vampire-hunter

Where Daniel Day-Lewis opted to play Lincoln as craggy and gruff, more so than Raymond Massey portrayed him in Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Benjamin Walker’s take is much closer to Henry Fonda’s pleasant and forthright everyman from Young Mr. Lincoln.  Despite Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter offering up an admittedly male, historical version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, director Timur Bekmambetov went well beyond what you’d normally find in a film so blatantly tied to a gimmick, that of screenwriter/novelist Seth Grahame-Smith following up his earlier well-received mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  In fact, pushing aside for a moment the vampire hunting, the film offers an admirable view of the president, and in particular his relationship with Mary Todd.  And that is saying a lot for a film that is part axe-waving and vampire killing.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

Depending on your background Alexander Nevsky may mean something different to you.  To the people of Russia he is the greatest Russian of all time, according to a poll conducted there of 50 million votes counted in 2008.  For classic film fans, Alexander Nevsky is Sergei Eisenstein’s grand propaganda film from 1938, created to inspire Russians in the event of war with Germany.  To connoisseurs of classical music, Alexander Nevsky, as both film score and modified for full orchestral piece, is one of Sergei Prokofiev’s greatest works.  Now, British writer Ben McCool and Mexican artist Mario Guevara bring all of the above to graphic novel form in Nevsky: A Hero of the People, courtesy of IDW Publishing and the current owners of the rights to the epic film.

Continue reading