New Comics – Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 and Spawn #320

I video-reviewed two new comics released this week, if you are interested:

Superman: Son of Kal-El issue #1 by Tom Taylor & John Timms, (July 27th, 2021)

Nice art, the story by Taylor is okay. Not a lot happens in this issue, it acts as set-up for the series, I guess. They retell Jonathan Kent’s origin story, then age him up. Jon helps with a wildfire in California, then goes to visit Damian Wayne, the current Robin. There’s a funny scene where Damian is fighting a group of ninja while having a long conversation with Jon. Jarringly, Taylor injects some of his politics into the issue which took me out of the story to be honest. It felt unnecessary and added nothing to the story. Also, “Superboy” ends the issue proclaiming he stands for “Truth, Justice, and a Better World.” Hmm…

Spawn issue #320 by Todd McFarlane & Carlo Barberi, (July 28th, 2021)

This was a great action-packed issue that I really enjoyed. Carlo Barberi’s art is excellent and needs to be seen! Apparently, this comic leads to the new “King Spawn” series which debuts next month. In this issue, a new-to-me villain called “Soul Crusher” attacks the cybernetic giant gorilla “Cy-Gor” in an attempt to draw Spawn into the fray. It’s a dynamic story which gives us a running narration by Spawn that leads to a surprising emotional ending. I’m looking forward to the next issue!

Thanks for reading!

-Wakizashi, *enjoying a nice cold glass of the local Daisen G Beer Stout 😎*

“Inverted World” (1974) by Christopher Priest: a VIDEO Review

This is an updated review of one of the first books I posted about on this blog: Inverted World by Christopher Priest. That was back in the days when my blog was called “Who’s Dreaming Who” and everything was still in black and white! (Here’s a link to that review, it’s a very short and simple early review, by the way.)

Christopher Priest is a writer you need to read, it’s as simple as that. I can recommend this book, also his 2002 novel The Separation, and the magical The Prestige (1995), made famous by Christopher Nolan’s 2006 movie.

*If you watch to the end of the video, there is a “ghost” clip of something spooky that happened while I was recording this! Enjoy:-)

Summary of My Updated Review

Helward Mann lives in a city that is “winched along tracks through a devastated land”. Upon reaching the age of 650 miles, he becomes an adult and begins working for the “Track Guild”. Their job is to tear up the track south of the city, and re-lay it in the north. Only guildsmen can leave the city and see what lies outside, and they are sworn to secrecy. Most citizens don’t even know the city is moving. 

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A Stormy EURO 2020 Final!

I watched the recent EURO 2020 (really 2021) Final between England and Italy during an unusually long thunderstorm that hit the area I live early Monday morning, July 12th, 2021. I wanted to share this short video I made after the game. It shows some of the crazy weather we sometimes experience in Japan. This usually happens during the typhoon season in September, so this was an early and unwanted surprise.

We had so much rainfall that the local rivers were very close to flooding. Thankfully, they didn’t flood, but it was touch-and-go for a while. Usually, these kinds of storms pass through the area and move on. This storm wanted to stay! It started at around 3 am and ended just after 12 noon–a crazy 9 hours of thunder, lightning and heavy rain. Seeing the recent flooding in other parts of Japan, as well as Western Europe, you have to wonder how “natural” this weather is?

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“Groo vs. Conan” (2015) by Sergio Aragones & Mark Evanier: a Video Review.

Konnichiwa minna-san! I wanted to post a link to my latest review on YouTube. This is an update to a blog review I did in July 2019. (Here’s a link to the original review.) The video is just 8 minutes long. I recorded this on my phone and added an audio voiceover later. The microphone on my phone is not great for loudness. If you have any suggestions for improvements or would like to see a video review of something else, please let me know in the comments. Arigatou!

A new video review over on the YouTube Teahouse.

My Thoughts

Groo vs. Conan is a funny, entertaining story and a great crossover. Two seemingly indestructible warriors–one without a clue–go head-to-head. Who will emerge victorious? I really liked the Rashomon-style in which this epic battle was reported by various characters in the narrative–who is telling the “true” story? It was also nice to see Sergio Aragones and co-writer Mark Evanier appearing as themselves in the story, acting as a framing narrative as well as a comedy duo. Some of their scenes had me laughing out loud.

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Spawn’s Universe, Issue #1 (2021) by Todd McFarlane & more

Spawn’s Universe issue #1 from Image Comics was released on June 23rd, 2021. It’s a 68-page comic which creator Todd McFarlane introduces with the following quote:

“Three hundred and eighteen issues have led to this, the founding of Spawn’s Universe. A Universe of possibilities for Spawn and his Allies, as well as his Enemies.”

Spawn first appeared back in May 1992, so it will be 30 years of Spawn comics next year. Growing up collecting comics, I was aware of the character but never got into reading the book. I knew Todd McFarlane from his work on The Amazing Spider-Man in the late 1980s, and then the new title named simply Spider-Man which he both drew and wrote. Man, I used to get lost in the detail of Todd’s Spidey-webbing!

Before the release of Spawn’s Universe #1, I bought a few of the recent issues of Spawn in a digital sale. The art is excellent, but the story didn’t pull me in. Perhaps I’ve missed too much that’s come before? So, I thought this new issue might be a good jumping-on point. Plus, I knew the art would be next-level, especially when compared with a lot of recent content the so-called “Big Two” comics publishers have been putting out.

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The Teahouse Expansion

Konnichiwa minna-san! This is Wakizashi coming to you from the Teahouse. I’m looking to expand the Teahouse into the deep waters of YouTube. Now, my mother always told me I have a face for radio, (maybe). But I won’t let that hold me back.

I’ve had a YouTube channel for 8 years, but before this week, I had only uploaded a couple of super-short videos of family moments in Japan. (Oh, I used to be so young!) But making videos is something I’ve always wanted to try. So, from last week, I’ve restarted my channel and will be combining it with this book review blog. I’m planning to make videos using some of the content already published on this site, as well as new content. I also want to share some scenes of life over here in Yonago, Japan. We’ll see how it goes. I’m making this up as I go along!

I will still be posting new reviews of books and comics on here–I’m currently working on a long-overdue review of Daryl Gregory’s wonderful novella: The Album of Dr. Moreau. But I’ll also be sharing some of the videos I make. Please feel free to ignore this extra content. I mean, who has time for YouTube, right? With our ridiculously huge mountains of books to-be-read, our day jobs, families, ninja training, and so on. It’s a busy, fantastic, slightly bonkers time to be alive, right? And life is too short for regrets, as someone somewhere once said. So, I’m going to give it a try, as an expansion to my hobby.

Here is my super-short review of The Invisibles Issue #1. I bought it back in 1994 and somehow brought it over the sea to Japan. Re-reading it after all these years was a fascinating experience. It really felt like opening a geeky time capsule. The back cover has an advert for Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. Remember that movie?

I made the “thumbnail” using the free Canva application. I filmed the video on my Sony Xperia, after buying a simple tripod to keep the camera steady. If you watch it, please let me know what you think. And if you have any tips or advice, I would love to hear from you.

As always, thanks so much for reading!

-Wakizashi, feeling the 80% humidity and the 85 degree heat, with added summer rain.

Wakizashi’s YouTube debut on Midnight Metal #026!

Here is a link to my rather nervous and time-laggy appearance on Robert Mayer Burnett’s YouTube show: “Midnight Metal #026“. Burnett is an American filmmaker, DVD producer, online film pundit and YouTuber. He is best known for his 1999 romantic comedy “Free Enterprise” starring Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner.

Robert Mayer Burnett is a very verbose host who has detailed knowledge of science fiction, movies, comic books, and more. He admits that the Midnight Metal show started out as a bit of fun one late Friday night. It broadcasts on Friday and Saturday nights from midnight, PST (Pacific Standard Time). I’ve been watching the show since it started and wanted to see if I could get on it for a chat. Despite technological difficulties–a short lag, plus some webcam problems–I managed to appear on the show. I don’t get to say very much, but the topics covered were pretty interesting. *(I appear from 1:36:16).

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Home Sick Pilots, Vol.1: “Teenage Haunts” (2021)

by Dan Watters, writer & Caspar Wijngaard, artist

“We need to throw a sicker gig than this. Somewhere even better. Somewhere we can really show people what the Home Sick Pilots are all about.”

“We should throw a gig in the house that kills people.”

Publisher’s Synopsis

‘In the summer of 1994, a haunted house walks across California. Inside is Ami, lead singer of a high school punk band–who’s been missing for weeks. How did she get there? What do these ghosts want? And does this mean the band has to break up?

Expect three-chord songs and big bloody action as Power Rangers meets The Shining (yes really), and as writer DAN WATTERS (Lucifer, COFFIN BOUND) and artist CASPAR WIJNGAARD (LIMBO, Star Wars, Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt) delve into the horrors of misspent youth. COLLECTS HOME SICK PILOTS #1-5′

My Thoughts

I became interested in Dan Watters‘ work after reading his run on the 2019 Lucifer comic book, (Goodreads review here). This led me to the weird, surreal road trip that is the series Coffin Bound, and now here with Home Sick Pilots, Volume 1: Teenage Haunts.

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Spoonbenders (2016) by Daryl Gregory

“It just struck me that it’s the saddest of the psychic powers. Does anyone really need bent cutlery? There’s something about the small scale of it. They’re not changing the world. They’re just bending spoons.”

-Daryl Gregory, from an interview about Spoonbenders

Publisher’s Synopsis

‘A generations-spanning family of psychics – both blessed and burdened by their abilities – must use their powers to save themselves from the CIA, the local mafia, and a skeptic hell-bent on discrediting them in this hilarious, tender, magical novel about the invisible forces that bind us.’

My Thoughts

Spoonbenders is such an enjoyable story. It was just what I needed to kill my recent reading slump. It impressed me so much that I picked up two more books by the author Daryl Gregory: his 2011 collection of short stories “Unpossible and Other Stories,” and his latest novella “The Album of Doctor Moreau.” I’m taking my time reading the collection to savor the stories. I finished reading the “Moreau” novella and will be reviewing it soon. A completely different kind of story, it was also so much fun to read.

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Dorohedoro, Vol.1 (2002) by Q. Hayashida

“There’s some nutjob sorcerer out there turning people into bugs. I just saw a couple of victims. Crude stuff. This guy’s a total amateur.”

Publisher’s Synopsis

“In a city so dismal it’s known only as “the Hole,” a clan of Sorcerers have been plucking people off the streets to use as guinea pigs for atrocious “experiments” in the black arts. In a dark alley, Nikaido found Caiman, a man with a reptile head and a bad case of amnesia. To undo the spell, they’re hunting and killing the Sorcerers in the Hole, hoping that eventually they’ll kill the right one. But when En, the head Sorcerer, gets word of a lizard-man slaughtering his people, he sends a crew of “cleaners” into the Hole, igniting a war between two worlds.”

-VIZ Media

My Thoughts

I discovered this manga after watching the anime series released in 2020. That series caught my eye with its colourful, almost psychedelic style, and the weird and cool character designs. It stood out from a lot of the popular anime streaming at the time. Halfway through watching the anime, I ordered an English copy of the first volume of the Dorohedoro manga. There are 23 volumes in total.

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