Tag Archives: Marvel

What’s Really Costing Marvel Sales?

For those of you who aren’t aware, Marvel Comics recently came under fire when VP David Gabriel, made a statement about their sales slump being the result of having “too much diversity.” Because readers just don’t want to hear about women and people of colour. He has since retracted the statement due to the understandable backlash. 

So, what’s really to blame for the lack of sales? Well, as someone who used to buy Marvel comics , let me try and provide some insight into why they lost my money and, I’d wager, quite a few other people’s. 

1.) Consistent Editorially Mandated Events

Remember when company wide events were incredibly rare to the point where you might have one a decade? Remember when those events were basically relegated to their own mini-series and every comic wasn’t dedicated to tie in material? Well, I’m old so I do. I also miss those times. And that’s one of the big reasons I stopped buying Marvel comics. Writers are constantly having the story arcs they’re doing disrupted so that the comics they’re working on can tie into the latest House of M, World War Hulk, Civil War or whatever. You can’t just be a fan of the X-men and Spider-man or of the FF and Iron Man any more because you never know when those stories are going to be disrupted for actual months to tie into the latest event. Which probably makes it hard to find new readers too. How many people do you think want to read all the big books just to know what’s going on? But there’s something else that ties into this. 

2.) The Big Events Themselves

Honestly, I  was a fan of a lot of Marvel’s characters and titles. So, for me, the big events might not be a problem if they were well written. The problem is that, well, they aren’t. Most of them have heroes fighting one another instead of villains for stupid and contrived reasons. Most of them also feature a lot of wasteful character deaths, that may or may not last, for cheap shock value. It’s not even shocking at this point because they do it all the time. That’s not good writing and what it tells me, as a fan of a lot of these characters you’re killing, is that you don’t care about my ability to enjoy your comics. “You like Bill Foster? Well, too bad we’re going to kill him in an exceedingly disrespectful way.” Is it any surprise that I don’t want to give them my hard earned money to see that?

3.) Character Ruination Everywhere

Marvel doesn’t have to kill characters off to ruin the experience for readers. They can just make really stupid changes to them. Hello, Hydra Agent Steve Rogers. But it’s not just Cap losing all his nobility and dignity. It’s a pretty persistent issue. Jubilee was a cool character. Then she was a vampire and sucked, both literally and figuratively. Speedball was cool, then he went full emo- Penance mode and he’s been an awful character since. They tried to fix him, but the damage was done. Luke Cage was a cool character, but then they saddled him with Bendis’ Mary Sue and now he sucks. The Scarlet Witch was a cool character, but then they made her quasi-incestuous and mentally unstable. And those are just a few examples. There are many, many others who have been ruined by a combination of bad decisions and editorial interference. 

4.) The Handling of Legacy Heroes

In theory, legacy heroes are a great idea. Have the old hero step down, bring in a new, interesting one. The trouble is that Marvel’s been handling these heroes in a way that alienates the fan base for the previous hero. Gone are the days when Tony Stark stepped down to let James Rhodes take the Iron Man mantle due to some personal problems. These days, the old heroes die or turn evil, most of the time. Marvel, I know this is complicated but maybe the way to retain your fans is to treat your characters with respect? 

5.) There’s No  Reason to get Attached to the Heroes

This kind of connects a lot of the prior points. For me, as a comic fan, there’s no impetus to get attached to Marvel’s new characters. Because I know that there’s a good chance they’ll be killed off during a lousy event, get completely changed in a way that’s absolutely devastating to their character or turn evil for stupid reasons. If I get invested in that character, I’ll be setting myself up for disappointment later. And it’s, frankly, not worth my time. 

6.) The Writing Aesthetic

This is going to be the final point I bring up. Speaking personally, my favourite Super hero comics are from the Bronze Age. Back when they could incorporate serious themes, ongoing story lines and character development while also maintaining a lot of the fun, goofy elements. You got good stories that could balance serious themes with more light-hearted moments. A lot of modern Marvel comics, in contrast, are fixated on being dark and edgy. There’s a reason so many heroes die cheaply or turn evil. There’s a reason the good points of so many characters have been lost in a bid to make them darker. There may be an audience for that aesthetic, but I’m certainly not a part of it and it seems like I’m not the only one who feels that way.

So, those are the reasons that I turned away from Marvel. And they probably hold true for a lot of other people as well. So, David Gabriel, maybe instead of blaming the levels of diversity you should focus your efforts on helping the company “get good” as the Internet would say. 

February Bonus Review: DC vs Marvel Comics

Anyone who’s familiar with western comics knows Marvel and DC. They’re the big two. The ones with extended cinematic universes and adaptations of widely varying quality. Comic fans have long debated which characters should fight and who would win. In 1996 the companies themselves decided to come together for a crossover that would explore those very questions in a mini-series written by Ron Marz & Peter David that ran for four issues. So, is it everything that comic fans hoped for? The back of the trade promises the showdown of the century. So, let’s take a look. 

dc-vs-marvel.jpg

Story:

The walls that separate universes are coming undone. Several heroes and villains are finding themselves transported elsewhere. Spidey appears in Gotham. The Juggernaut finds himself in Metropolis. Tim Drake finds himself right in the X-mansion and those are just a few examples. Everyone wonders what’s happening. The answer comes fairly quickly, two brothers are responsible for creating the universes and, after losing their consciousness from a climactic battle that destroyed everything, they’ve remembered everything and become aware of one another. They decide that instead of fighting directly and letting everything end in the cross fire, they’ll select champions from their own universes. The universe that wins gets to live. And that’s how the battle between these two universes is joined. 

Let’s talk about the writing flaws. The first is that a lot of the battles seem more like popularity contests than an actual examination of who would win given the powers and skills of the combatants. To go into some examples, Wolverine beats Lobo in a straight out brawl. And, as much as I like Wolverine’s character when he’s written by Chris Claremont, Larry Hama and several others, including Peter David. Lobo’s whole shtick is that he’s over-powered and over the top. The bloke can go toe to toe with the Justice League in its entirety. Wolverine is not that strong by half. You get the same thing with Storm against Wonder Woman. You’ve got a woman who’s effectively a Goddess against a lady who can control the weather. And somehow Storm wins with a couple lightning bolts even though Wondey should be able to stand up to far worse without a problem. As much as I love Strom, that’s nonsense. We’ve also got Batman against Captain America. A fight between two experts at hand to hand combat. Two tactical geniuses. With one having a measurable advantage in terms of strength, stamina and speed. And yet the one with the disadvantage wins and in a very lazy way. Which is the general problem with these fights. They can’t even give a conceivable explanation for why the less powerful combatant wins. At least the Spidey and Robin fights show you some cleverness on their part that lets them win. The Aquaman vs. Namor fight is also very lazy. This is a fight that could have gone either way, given how evenly matched they are. But we get bullshit involving a whale jumping out of the water and belly flopping onto someone standing on land. That is really stupid. Is the whale supposed to have super powers? 

There’s also a lot of bluster about these heroes working together, learning from one another and we see very little of that. The series really could have benefited from some extra length to let us see these actual interactions in a more substantial way than a few panels. 

With that being said, I do like the idea of the characters being put against one another by cosmic forces outside of their control. It certainly beats having there be some misunderstanding to clear up or having them all get tricked by some villains so that they can halt their battle and come together later. I also do rather like the big climax. 

Characters:

I’ll give the mini-series some credit here. They use a lot of characters and they’re pretty good at giving them a sense of personality that meshes with their regular characterisation. They aren’t deeply complex and I suspect the aftermath of these events was never dealt with in the comics proper. I don’t remember hearing anything about it in them, any way. But the characters are in character and I think that’s the best you can really expect from an event like this. The worst thing I can say about it is that the “romantic tension” betwixt Tim and Jubilation is really forced. 

Art:

So, we get artwork by Dan Jurgens & Josef Rubinstein. Overall, it looks really nice. There are some good action sequences in the story. They could have certainly benefited from being longer since most of them are over in two or three pages, but what we do get is pretty nicely done, mostly. The character art is dynamic with some really good designs for the Amalgam portion and the colourists did a really good job. There are occasional moments of minor fail. There are a couple panels with Bane where it looks like he was drawn without a top and it was lazily added in by the colourist later. There’s an original character called Access who’s drawn a bit inconsistently. All in all, though, the art fails are relatively minor and rare. 

Final Thoughts:

So, that’s DC vs. Marvel. Is it “the showdown of the century?” Not really. The writing can be lazy. Particularly when it comes to explaining how certain characters manage to win their bouts. The concept is a good one, but it’s not explored all that thoroughly and, when it comes right down to it, the actual bouts are too short for that particular accolade. That being said, it is fairly entertaining and there are things to like about it. In the end, it’s a pretty average read. My final rating is a 5/10. Have any ideas for what March’s bonus review should be? Leave them in the comments. Until then, expect the Wednesday anime reviews to continue as scheduled. 

Captain America: Agent of Hydra?

I don’t normally talk about Western comics on here, but with the recent reveal that Steve Rogers aka Captain America aka the personification of truth, justice and all things paragon was revealed to be a long time double agent of the Nazi organisation, Hydra.

Naturally, fans were not happy and were quick to point out all the ways in which this is out of character, made no sense in continuity and was just an egregiously stupid decision on Marvel’s part. Which it is, certainly. However, it’s also not surprising from a meta perspective. 

This isn’t the first time Marvel has done their utmost to absolutely ruin one of their characters. Remember when Tony Stark was revealed to be a sleeper agent for Kang the Conqueror and he ended up getting replaced by his teenage self? Many comic fans remember it as the second worst thing to happen to his character after Civil War. How about when Spidey sold his marriage to the devil so that his old, sickly aunt could live for another week before natural causes caught up with her? (Yes, I know that Aunt May is still alive, I was being facetious.)

How about when Jubilee became a vampire? When Scarlet Witch had a breakdown and her power to affect probability somehow reconstructed the universe into one where Magneto rules and she had babies that were implied to also be her brother’s? When Magneto ceased being a complex character who did morally questionable things for the sake of safeguarding his people and became one-dimensionally evil for the evils? When Cyclops had sex on his wife’s gravestone? When Bishop saw the first signs of the future he was trying to prevent surface with a registration act and decided that it sounded like a good idea?

There are many, many other examples of horrendous characterisation. Some of which ultimately got retconned and some of which are, unfortunately, still part of the Marvel universe. Honestly, that whole pattern of shitty writing is a big part of the reason I stopped buying Marvel comics. Because they do this kind of thing all the time. 

So, why does it happen? Well, part of it is a way to regress characters in age. After all, these are characters who have existed in comics as adults since the 60s, 70s or 80s. If they aged up along with the times, they’d almost all be retiring to make room for new, younger heroes. 

Part of it is just that they don’t always hire the best writers and Joe Quesada was a completely inept chief editor. His replacement, Axel Alonso, doesn’t seem to be doing a better job. Judging by the Captain America thing. You’ll notice that most of these events happened during one of their watches. In fact, some of them, like Spidey’s marriage getting eliminated in a stupid way, were mandated. The combination of incompetent editorial oversight and writers who aren’t that great at writing results in some characters just getting screwed up. 

There’s a third reason too. Mainly, it makes a good publicity stunt. These large-scale character butcherings usually get a lot of attention for the company. If it’s bad enough, they may very well undo the damage and wait for the praise to be piled on them for fixing their own stupid mistakes. Either way, they can rekindle a lot of interest in the book. At least on a temporary basis. It’s a lot easier of a method than actually writing good stories and letting the word spread. 

So, what can we do about it? About the best we can do is, if you hear about something like this happening, don’t buy any comics related to it and send them an e-mail explaining yourself. If it really hurts them financially, they’ll undo it. as for stopping it from happening at all, that’s not going to happen. Just on a realistic level. Characters will keep getting dragged away from people who understand them for crappy company wide crossover events or being given to people who don’t really know the characters or who aren’t very good writers. 

As for the Captain America thing, I don’t think it’ll last. There are just too many rightfully outraged people. 

Western Comics and Matters of Death

For the second time, let’s discuss Western comics. This time, I won’t be talking about IDW but the big two, Marvel and DC. These companies have both had some incredibly talented writers: Simone, Claremont, Gaiman, etc… They’ve also both had their share of crappy writers: Miller, Bendis, Lobdell and so on. There are a few things that they’ve also failed at pretty consistently, regardless of the quality of the writer. To be specific, the subjects of ageing and death.

Ageing is something we all do. It’s just a part of reality. In comics, they generally avoid the subject. Marvel’s heroes don’t seem to age at all and DC’s may or may not age depending on the character. Which really renders characters like Vandal Savage and Ra’s Al Ghul kind of pointless since their shtick is that they’ve halted their ageing, but so has everyone else, apparently.

With some characters, you could argue that this makes sense. Maybe it’s an alien like Silver Surfer or Starfire or an android like Vision or Red Tornado or maybe it’s a character with a magical origin like Wonder Woman or Roma. However, a lot of these characters are supposed to be regular humans or have super powers that have nothing to do with ageing. So, how is it that they can remain active and the same basic age for decades?

Basically, it all comes down to one thing. Neither company has the ovarian/ testicular fortitude to let their characters grow old because if they actually let age be a factor they’d reach a point where they had to deal with the consequences and come up with new heroes.

So, why and how should they tackle this subject? The why is simple. Because it leads to more compelling stories. One of those things that comes with age is personal growth and development. If a character never ages, they’re also going to keep repeating the same mistakes and get stuck at the same point in their life. Look at the mess that got made with Spider-man in the aftermath of One More Day. He’s not the only example, either, a lot of comic characters get the same basic story arcs and always return to the status quo, never growing or developing or, if they do, returning to the way they were shortly after. Furthermore, this is a good, natural source of drama. Think about what it would be like for those few characters who don’t really age to watch as their loved ones grow older around them and, eventually, die. You could have some really touching and provocative stories about that. A third reason is that it allows the writers to actually show some creativity instead of continuously writing the same established characters. Which would infuse both universes with some much-needed fresh titles.

How should they do it? Well, here’s what I would suggest. First off, establish a time line. You really don’t want to have the universe’s time scale coincide with ours completely but, at the same time, you wouldn’t want your comics’ time to be really slow-moving. So, I would suggest that four months of issues equally a month of comic time would be about right. Once you’ve got that figured out, keep track of your characters’ ages and stick to that scale. You probably don’t want to have all your characters start the same age since that would be a right mess when the time came for them to retire.

Let’s move on to our happy discussion on death. One of the big problems with the modern super hero comic industry is that death is really cheap. It’s cheap in the sense that major characters can get over it faster than you can beat a cold and it’s cheap in the sense that it gets used as a crass tactic to make the stakes seem higher in horrible event comics or as a marketing gimmick.

This one also comes down to a lack of fortitude on the companies’ parts. They want to throw in some death because it gets attention, but they also want to risk losing any major characters. Consequently, you get a right mess where a character dies, everyone acts like it’s a big deal and then they come back after a fairly short amount of time so that they can die again later and repeat the process. In the process, death loses both meaning and tension.

That’s perhaps, the biggest reason to make death permanent in comics. As it is, the main response to a character dying isn’t any type of grief or sense of loss for the reader, it’s curiosity over when they’ll come back and what flimsy justification is going to be employed for it. Maybe it was really Xorn’s twin brother, Xorn, pretending to be Magneto pretending to be Xorn. Not even joking, that one happened. Another compelling reason is that giving death permanence would discourage shitty writers from killing off characters cheaply, and shitty editorial staffs from letting it happen. Death should not just be a cheap shock tactic or a way to show that the antagonist is totally serious this time. Treating it as such is just bad writing.

Let’s move into a bit of how it should be used besides just, it needs to be permanent. First off, character deaths should be handled with respect to that character and their legacy. Trust me, most fans will be able to handle it if it’s done well. Let’s talk about ambiguity. If you want to leave an opening for a character to survive you just have to take a lesson from the Silver Age. Have the character fall out of a plane or into a whirlpool but don’t show what happens to them. Leave the possibility that they may have survived. Now, in order for this to have actual tension there are going to have to be cases where they don’t. There’s no tension otherwise. For that matter, you could have one character disguise as another but actually foreshadow it and give the readers hints so that it doesn’t come across as an ass-pull that came after the fact.

If a super hero comic company would actually use both ageing and death as natural, expected parts of the universe, it would lead to better stories, stronger characters and a consistent influx of fresh characters, both legacy and brand new. Which is why I find it disappointing that it’s really not done.

Agree? Disagree? Have your own ideas on the subject? Go ahead and leave a comment.

X-men: Nerd Rage Rising

Let’s go back to our old friends at Madhouse in their attempts to adapt Marvel comics. I’ve already looked at Blade, which was okay, but let’s look at another attempt. In this case, the X-men, a super hero team that hasn’t been well written in the comics proper since Chris Claremont’s run ended. Which is a pity since Claremont’s run made them my favourite super hero team. It’s not like they’ve gotten all bad writers either. They got Grant Morrison and he can do really well when writing original works or when given proper oversight. Unfortunately, they let him off his leash for his run on the book and he piddled on everything, as Grant Morrison is wont to do. Can Madhouse succeed where so many have failed? I’m going to go full blown nerd and take a look.

Story:

Our tale opens up with the very end of the Dark Phoenix Saga, which is a bad sign right off the bat. The saga worked in the comics, well the first time it was used, because there was a lot of build up, time to get invested and because it was done in a time when super heroes almost never died and when characters stayed dead as opposed to coming back in a couple months. But this has no build up at all. If you don’t know the comics then you have no reason to care about what’s happening and if you do you’ve probably gotten used to seeing Jean die at this point and it just doesn’t affect you anymore, whether you like her as a character or not. During the fight, the X-men notice that Jean was being manipulated by the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle, which they just refer to as the Inner Circle in this. A year passes and Xavier summons Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine & Storm to the Institute because he finds out there’s something strange going on in Japan. There’s a region where neither Cerebro nor Xavier can scan and mutants there are going missing.

There are quite a few issues in this, some more minor and some significant. I’ll go over them one by one, in no particular order, not including the mishandling of the Dark Phoenix Saga since I already talked about it. For starters, this series has a lot of short, dumb moments. Beast giving a squid a microphone that enables it to speak English, the characters standing around talking and expositing when they should be taking action, the villains having a good chance to kill the heroes but not bothering because they haven’t finished going over the details of their evil plan yet, Cyclops’ motorcycle that fires missiles and laser beams. Why does a guy who can fire solar powered optic blasts need a weapon-laden motorcycle? Does he just have a laser fetish? Wouldn’t that be like Wolverine’s motorcycle having claws? He can just hit the stud on his glove or bring one hand up to his visor. Oh, wait his costume in this doesn’t have the glove button. The field leader of the X-men, Everyone, he gets rid of his iconic costume for something that looks terrible and doesn’t have one of its most useful features. That was surely a smart decision. Those aren’t even all the little dumb moments. There’s a scene where they’re trudging through a blizzard, freezing and shuddering. The problem being that Storm can control the weather. She should be able to banish something like this in seconds so that they can do what they need to do. There’s also a scene where they’re in the Blackbird and a flying mutant attacks them. Who do they send to fight a flying mutant in mid-air, while traveling at a rapid velocity? No, it’s not the person who can fly. They send Wolverine. Yeah, his healing factor isn’t going to save him if he falls off of a flying jet. Hell, Cyclops had to slow his descent to save his life when Proteus threw him off a cliff and this is going to be a lot worse of a fall then that.

Moving on to the bigger problems, there’s a lot of lazy writing in this. Early on, Storm gets weakened from using her powers a bit and it feels like a flimsy excuse to take her out of the fight. The problem is that anyone who knows the character knows that she doesn’t weaken that fast. She once brought a massive storm to Latveria that threatened to destroy Doom’s castle and warped the weather for dozens of kilometres and she only became tired when dispelling it. If you don’t know the character it just makes her look ineffectual, which isn’t an ideal way to portray one of your heroes in a serious work. Beast also gets an electronic scanner that does whatever the plot needs it to do. Then we’ve got Mastermind, who’s the leader of the Hellfire Club in this for some reason. Did they not want to use Sebastian Shaw because that one terrible film made him a nazi? They add telepathy to his powers, even though he’s never had telepathy in the comics, and he’s, apparently, strong enough that he can manipulate the minds of two different mutants who are supposedly the most powerful telepaths in existence. How exactly does he manage that when he’s supposed to be far less powerful than them? Never explained. Then we have our continuity problems. When talking to Hisako, a new character, Storm tells her about how she was lost and couldn’t control her powers properly until meeting Xavier. Except that she had full control over them and was revered as a Goddess when Xavier went to recruit her to rescue the original X-men from Krakoa. Why even change that detail? Then we’ve got the problem with the major conflict. It’s basically a rehashing of the Proteus plot line, except done ineptly. The secondary mutation thing is stupid. Yes, I know they did it in the comics too, and it was stupid there too. The climax is just really weak.

On the positive side, they do handle the conflict with Emma Frost joining the X-men somewhat competently.

Characters:

This series has some characters who were interesting and well developed… in the comics. You wouldn’t know it to watch them here. They come across as pretty one-dimensional and a lot of their dialogue is stilted. To make matters worse, their habit of standing around rambling about how “they should do something” while not actually taking action makes them look like a group of incompetent morons. Xavier gets it the worst since we find out that he has yet another kid he never knew about. Dude, use a damn condom. The villains aren’t any better. Mastermind and his group get a really good opportunity to kill the X-men but they take so long to get around to it that the X-men escape. Our secondary villains, the U-men, are just stupid and evil for the evils. They’re like a 90s dark and gritty take on badly written Silver Age villains who never got developed . We have Grant Morrison to thank for this stain on the X-men’s Rogues Gallery, and I do hope that someone rubbed his nose in it and told him that he was being bad. Otherwise he’ll never learn. On a slightly positive note, there is some stuff with Emma Frost acting as a teacher to Hisako that’s pretty decent.

Art:

I will give the series some credit on this one. There’s a lot about the art that’s really well detailed and done. Unlike the Blade anime, they actually get Wolverine’s brutish appearance basically right. Although he’s still too tall and his height fluctuates from scene to scene. Seriously, they make him roughly as tall as Storm and she’s supposed to be a good twenty centimetres, or eight inches, taller than him. Speaking of messing up with Storm, they get her eye colour wrong in this. Although the X-men do, for the most part, look like themselves. I will, however, say that the art really fails when it comes to facial expressions. The major characters spend the bulk of their time grimacing, snarling or just looking generally grim even when nothing bad is happening. Are super heroes not allowed to have fun ever? They also made the bold choice of using the worst costumes the X-men have ever sported. See, there was a time when Marvel decided that super hero costumes couldn’t be colourful or visually appealing, they had to be stupid looking and with really muted colours. In this case, mostly black with a little bit of dull yellow. The one exception is Emma Frost, who gets a costume so ridiculously fan-servicey that it makes her White Queen attire look prudish. The fight scenes are mixed. Some of them work pretty well, others are a garbled mess where you can barely tell what’s happening.

Sound:

The cast they get in this isn’t bad, but they don’t exactly give their best performances. I don’t blame Tamura Yukari, Hisakawa Aya, Morikawa Toshiyuki or any of the other actors for that. They’re just playing a group of perpetually snarling people who don’t have any emotional depth. Because that’s the route Madhouse decided to take. The music isn’t bad either, but it is kind of dull.

Ho-yay:

There are a few scenes between Emma Frost and Hisako where Hisako seems to be a bit “hot for teacher” but that’s the extent of the ho-yay for the series. A possible schoolgirl’s crush.

Final Thoughts:

This series is really bad. The story line is riddled with problems, both small and huge, without having anything to make up for them. The characters are insultingly one-dimensional, particularly if you’re a fan of the comics. The art is the best part of the series and even it has its share of issues. The voice acting is passable but not good. If you want to see the X-men at their best, track down anything from Chris Claremont’s run. It lasted nearly two decades so there’s a lot there. Alternatively, you could look for the 90s cartoon from Saban Entertainment. If you want to see them at their worst… well, this isn’t as bad as House of M, but it wouldn’t be a bad choice. My final rating is a 2/10. Next week, Ankoku Cat.

Reviews of yesteryear: Blade

Welcome, my lovely fans, to the final review of horror anime month. You know, I love Marvel comics, okay, I loved Marvel comics until the mid-90s and now I don’t care for their new stuff except for Neil Gaiman’s 1602. But there’s one aspect where the company still produces decent stuff sometimes and that’s the movies. One of the early movies was Blade and, though it had some issues, it was awesome. Even though Blade was kind of a strange choice since he was a relatively obscure character best known for his guest appearance in the 90s Spider-man cartoon. Naturally, with the success of the films Marvel made the decision to work with Madhouse on various anime projects. There was Iron-man, Wolverine, X-men and Blade. Honestly, I’ve been hesitant to watch these since they seem like a cheap attempt to cash in on the movies and the trailers haven’t been promising, but to close horror anime month I’m going to look at Blade. To start off with I’ll briefly talk about what I thought of the movies, skipping the first one since I already mentioned it. The second one was good, not as good as the first but good. The third was, in keeping with Marvel film trilogy tradition, terrible. Let’s just hope that the Blade anime is more in keeping with the first two. Knowing Madhouse, it could go either way.

The story opens with Blade in Japan hunting vampires. He runs into a few and asks one of them where he can find a four-fanged vampire. His search leads him to a nightclub where a father and daughter pair of vampire hunters is fighting the owner, a vampire named Radu. I’m not sure if they’re referencing a really stupid horror movie series there or not. Anyway, Blade defeats Radu and then the group is attacked by Deacon Frost a vampire with four fangs. It ends with the father sacrificing himself, I don’t recall them ever giving the guy a name, and Frost running off with a sample of Blade’s blood. The story from there follows Blade as he hunts Frost and his vampiric organisation known as Existence. Makoto, the surviving hunter from earlier, chases after him. I will warn you that her initial reason for doing so is really stupid. It’s a simple story but it’s told pretty well. There’s one really good emotional moment towards the end. There’s also quite a bit of back story, which is worked in pretty well. The biggest issue with the story is that a lot of it involves Blade going somewhere in Asia, finding Frost, Frost getting away while Blade is fighting something, and then it repeats. So it does get repetitive.

The characters are mostly well done. Blade, Razor, Whistler… I mean Noah Van Hellsing (He’s basically Whistler they just gave him a different name) and Makoto, once she stops being stupid, (to be fair, she only acts like a moron for the first few episodes and it’s understandable in the first) are all interesting characters with depth. Even a lot of the one-shot characters feel like real people. That being said, there are some issues. I’ll start with the more minor one, Kikyo Mikage. Now, this is a Marvel anime original character and he’s terrible. He’s very one-dimensional and his power, retractable full length swords with hilts included that come out of his hands, is one of the dumbest I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen characters with the power to communicate with squirrels and the power to detach their arms. Full length retractable swords makes them seem almost mediocre by comparison. This guy shouldn’t even be able to bend his arms. My bigger issue is with Frost’s motivations. Towards the end they have him give a pretty predictable villain speech where he expounds about all his plans. If that wasn’t bad enough, he has two different and contradictory goals. That’s right, when he starts his speech he says that his goal is one thing. Roughly five minutes later when he’s ending it, he says his goal is something completely different. That’s great continuity right there.

The art is really good. The characters look good (mostly), although don’t expect Blade to look like Wesley Snipes. Which is fine since this isn’t connected to the movie trilogy. He looks more like the comic version which is somewhat similar to another actor. There’s a variety of vampire types, most of which are interesting and have a good aesthetic sense. The settings are varied and nicely detailed. I did have a few issues though. The first one is going to be really nerdy, fair warning. My first issue is that Madhouse fails at drawing Wolverine. Here’s the thing, Wolverine is supposed to be all of 5’3 and stocky. In this he’s as tall as Captain Blade of the space station DS 9, who should tower over him at 6’2, and he’s kind of scrawny. Yeah, Blade in this did remind me of Avery Brooks. As I said, it’s a nerdy complaint but it’s still valid. My second issue is with the final variety of vampires. They appear right at the end, there’s a lot of build up and I was wondering what they would do with them. Then they appeared and I burst out laughing. They look really stupid and it just kills the dramatic tension. My biggest issue is with the fight scenes. They almost all follow the same basic pattern. Peons get destroyed with ease, a big baddie shows up, it looks like Blade is getting his butt kicked, Blade does a slow-motion special attack, the fight ends. This is not how you make intense action scenes. The final battle between Frost and Blade… That works. It doesn’t follow that same pattern. Why didn’t they do them more like that throughout?

The voice acting is pretty good in this. Ootsuka Akio and Sakamoto Maaya especially do well. The first two movies had pretty awesome soundtracks, this does not follow suit. The music is pretty dull.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. There’s all of one major female character and she doesn’t get any les-yay with any side characters or anything.

So, how does the Blade anime hold up when compared to the films? It does okay. There’s quite a bit in here that’s done well, but there are also quite a few problems. The characters are mostly really well done, there is a good story hidden beneath the repetition and the artwork, aside from a few things, is pretty good. Really, every aspect of the anime had a lot of good things going for it but there are also negatives to everything. A lot of which just come from laziness. Whether it was repeating plot points, repetitive fights or continuity flubs. Almost all of which could’ve been avoided if they’d put in more effort. As such my final rating is a 6.5/10. If you like Blade as a character, either from the films or the comics, you’ll probably enjoy this but if you don’t care about Blade, it’s probably not going to have anything for you.