Monday, December 31, 2007

Fantasy Heroism, 2007

Happy New Year!

Here’s a rundown of some of 2007’s different faces of heroism, from comic books, TV shows and movies. Well, they’re actually a few of my favorites, and this year, I had a bunch. The fantasy hero has had many incarnations in recent years, and it’s interesting to discover different deviations, or altogether new versions that don’t follow the Spider-Man, Buffy, Frodo and Luke Skywalker templates. Here’s heroism in some of the year’s prominent mythologies:

Renee Montoya- Her journey was fraught with all sorts of peril, but her gradual transformation--from depressed alcoholic to focused crimefighter in 52--was compelling. She’s a welcome addition to Gotham City’s protectors.

Beowulf- Half the time, he’s a teller of tall tales. But Beowulf the philandering warrior-king nevertheless saved lives and got rid of some destructive terrors.

Captain America- In the unevenly executed Civil War series, he surrendered and was subsequently assassinated. But before all that, he fought valiantly for superhumans’ civil liberties.

Hiro Nakamura- His heroic evolution was quick; he soon became an Obi-Wan-esque mentor to a future mythic warrior. But Hiro is still learning and makes a few mistakes that inevitably turn his student against him.

Lyra- Keeper of the last Golden Compass and destined for greater things, the plucky girl rebel helps trigger a war between the free thinkers and the controlling authority.

Harry Potter- Hogwarts’ most controversial pupil has evolved to take on a more active combatant role, and leads a secret faction of student mystics against corrupt practitioners.

Remy- Culinary artist and independent rodent Remy proved that dreams can come true in Ratatouille. He guides a bumbling human to achieve them, and inspires others to strive for something better.

Faith- The prodigal Slayer, a reformed villainess, is still unique among hundreds of activated Vampire Slayers. In Buffy Season 8, she’s given a special mission, one that requires getting her hands dirty.

Leonidas- The Spartan king and his defiant horde face insurmountable odds in 300. Their final, legendary battle ultimately inspires the gathering of more defenders of freedom.

Veronica Mars- The former victim-turned-girl detective has solved dozens of cases, and she’d no doubt provide answers to more baffling crime puzzles had her series continued.

Kyle Trager- The adoptive son of the loving Tragers has solved many major family quandaries, and has displayed various mental abilities that he selflessly uses for their--and his friends’--benefit.

Cloud 9- She only wanted to fly, but because of the Superhuman Registration Act, she had no choice but to train as a super-soldier. The reluctant hero has yet to be comfortable with her new path, but she’s one of the Initiative’s most promising recruits.

Bumblebee- The live-action version got corny with the “temporarily mute so he speaks in songs” thing, but he’s still one dedicated Autobot soldier. He’s loyal and friendly to the humans he’s assigned to defend, unlike that other mean-sounding Autobot with a serious personality glitch.

Cyclops- He finally embraces his leadership role in Astonishing X-Men, thanks to Emma Frost. He pulls off a very risky plan during the team’s Breakworld mission, and confidently shows everyone who’s boss, at long last.

Nightwatcher- Secretly Raphael of the Ninja Turtles, the hero goes proactive and fights crime as a masked vigilante.

Homer Simpson- The village idiot who causes major problems for its denizens becomes its ultimate savior, in the Simpsons’ first big screen adventure.

Cherry Darling- The girl with the custom-made gun leg’s got dozens of “useless talents,” but she gets to put some of them to good use in the campy, zombie-infested Planet Terror.

Flash- Poor Bart Allen’s stint as the premier super-speedster was cut short. Formerly one of the most fun DC characters, Impulse grew up really quick and is now, sadly, really dead.

Shawn Spencer- He dupes everyone with his fake psychic readings and premonitions, but deep down, the guy who’s actually just really observant wants to help put bad guys in jail.

Black Canary- What a year for Miss Lance: She trained under Lady Shiva’s old teacher, became an adoptive mother and wife, fought alongside the Birds of Prey, and currently leads the new Justice League.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Seasons Change With the Scenery

Some Two Thousand Seven Moments

Hello, yeah, it’s been a while. Week 52’s almost done. I’m taking a little break from work to blog about neat and mundane stuff.

I’m so loving Legion of Superheroes, Psych, Kid Nation, and the insane but addictive Rome (thank you Romie for the original season 2 DVD!). Between writing, drawing, and worrying about deadlines, I’ve been able to relax and watch these shows, finally.

Hope you enjoyed some filling meals during the holiday break. I know I did; I need to lose weight after the Christmas season. In the meantime, I’ll just take a look back, once again, at the year that was.

In 2007, I:

- finally met and befriended people I only previously knew by name

- found out that my aging but trusty phone has sent over 23,400 messages

- got really soaked that one time I decided to leave my umbrella at home

- watched movies with the lustful Popes

- got drunk for the first time

- had a nice, free body massage

- said hello, waved goodbye

- broke a molar when I chewed a piece of ampaw

- won the Marvel Mind Mash trivia contest

- worried about money

- saw three movies at the Imax

- spoke with Timothy Olyphant, Cliff Richard, Sam Rockwell, Roger Avary, Zack Snyder, Ian Tracey, David Fincher, Steve Starkey, Imee Marcos, Paolo Bediones, Neil Gaiman and Ziggy Marley, among others, for the paper

- spoke with Sam Oh, Nancy Castiglione, Tin-Tin Bersola and Eileen Macapagal (formerly of “Joey and Son!”), among others, for the p.r. firms

- worked out a few times at the gym for free

Well, looking at it that way, it wasn’t so bad. Actually, it’s a Pretty Good Year. Uh-huh.

Cannonball Blasts Off

This image is the official photo, and it really doesn’t do the actual figure justice. Cannonball’s costume looks wrinklier with the dramatic lighting in the picture, but the looseness of the suit isn’t as emphasized in the final product. The toy version is fantastic and it’s really good that they went with this design. It’s based on the purple, Liefeld-era uniform of the character. But unlike the comics illustrations, the Sam Guthrie figure is nicely proportioned and aptly dashing.

What’s also different is the integration of rubber parts, specifically the collar and the front and back flaps of the jumpsuit. They could’ve just as easily sculpted those parts in plastic. But oddly, the rubbery texture somewhat enhances its overall tactile quality.

Anyway, this is one solid, sturdy figure, a nice addition to your X-Men set. It’s half of a recently released two-pack (the other fig is Domino), and can be counted among the better Hasbro Marvel Legends figures of 2007. It’d be perfect if it had a smoke-shaped blast-field base accessory. But it’s fine as it is.

(Thanks to John for the figure!)

Thor, Lord of Asgard, Owneth

This has got to be one of the coolest toy iterations of a Marvel character ever. Thor, Lord of Asgard, from the Blob Wave, embodies an era in the thunder god’s life when he wielded the Odin Force, the cosmic and mystical energies inherited from his deceased father. As the new Asgardian god-king, Thor’s strength, speed and resistance to injury were greatly enhanced. He’d have beaten Superman in the JLA-Avengers miniseries had the creators opted to use this version.

The toy is sculpted precisely; it’s just as majestic and imposing as its comic book counterpart. It looks and feels like a 2003 He-Man action figure too, in that the musculature, the clean, vibrant paint job, and the fixed-grip hands combine well to create a battle-ready, kickbutt fantasy warrior.

Thor also has two weapons, Mjolnir and an ax, which would’ve looked better if, like the helmet and those four round armor plates, they’d been given metallic paint. Also, if you’re displaying this figure, you’re gonna have to be a little creative when posing it, because the lack of articulation in the legs tends to make it lose balance and fall down, sometimes. Let’s hope that Hasbro puts in bases with pegs, next time. And there should be a next time; other related characters can be just as massive and playable, like Thunderstrike, Thor in the Simonson-designed battle armor, and Odin. Seriously, they should have a boxed set of those three, plus Thor Girl and maybe Valkyrie. That’d be so relentlessly cool.

(Thanks for the figure, Benedicky!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Year in Words

Seven things I discovered in 2007. I learned more things about myself, but seven sounds just about right, for now. No particular order:

I can let my guard down only with a handful of people… and that’s the way I like it.

I totally understand people and their quirks… when we’re not infuriated with each other.

I love the things I’m doing… but I need a change of pace and environment.

Different versions of Hallelujah (by Buckley, Lang and Wainwright) all sound great… especially when you’re getting intimate.

I can be heroically selfless… and justifiably selfish.

It’s hard to let go of anger sometimes… but I’m getting there.

I had crazy fun when I was drunk… but the wildest moments didn’t require me to be.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Mix and Mingle in the Jinglin' Beat

Swimming Against the Yuletide

(Or, This Agnostic’s Christmas Gallery. Twelve all-new drawings. This got published yesterday in PDI-Super, yay. My dad just asked for the original of “Drinking At Work.” To view all 12 drawings, visit my Multiply site. Will post them at the art blog too.)

Text and illustrations by Oliver M. Pulumbarit

I’m a non-believer, yeah, and I’ve blogged about it in detail a few times. But I can still appreciate the Christmas season for its emphasis on goodwill and togetherness. As an ex-Catholic, I still have vivid memories of Christmases past. Admittedly, I still find the imagery and revelries related to the holidays appealing, even when I don’t believe in a messiah figure anymore. That’s just how things are for me.

But you really can’t escape the festivities, so while I’m not into “the reason for the season,” I’m still appreciating the artistry and celebrations that come with December. I’m also a ninong, so I’m still part of the whole gift-giving scenario.

Just some months back, I planned to draw and post new Halloween drawings to prettify my site. But because of time constraints, I opted to draw a Christmas-themed set instead. I cut up bond-sized vellum paper in half, pulled out gel pens and markers and ended up with the following. Here’s my take and thoughts on some holiday concepts.

“I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus” (above)- Remember the old song about a son witnessing his mother getting cozy with Santa? It’s likely that he just witnessed his parents roleplaying. Here, it’s the boy’s dad. It still works if titled differently.

“Sweet Tooth Surrender” (above)- Sugar high! Ditch the diet and devour those delightful desserts. By the way, fruitcakes are yummy. I know it’s not just me.

“Yuletide Gay”- Inspired by a phrase in “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” the drawing shows a modern-day tableau of a non-traditional but equally valid family--a lesbian couple and their child--celebrating the holidays quietly.

“Alien Starlight”- Christmas lanterns with colorful, blinking lights are especially diverting, but the simpler ones still look good. The design possibilities are nigh-endless, as the parol can come in almost any shape, size and material.

“Jack Frost Nipping”- The mythical Jack Frost is commonly known as a snow-bringer. Like snowmen, he doesn’t need a scarf, yes, but it works aesthetically on him, too.

“Elfchild Laborer”- Hmm, it’s odd that some of the North Pole workers are sometimes depicted as kids. But since they’re mostly elves, they must age differently. Maybe.

“Drinking At Work” (above)- Saint Nick probably has an extra-tough tummy to eat and drink everything that people prepare for him. Drinking and flying? Never been a problem.

“Festive Forest”- Fake, plastic trees are fun to assemble and decorate. Disassembling, removing ornaments and cleaning up usually take forever, though.

“Santa’s Twin Wonders”- Interestingly, the Santa myth mutated to include other previously unrelated beings such as elves. Mrs. Claus can be part-elf. The kids, I call ‘em Kriss and Nicola, might look this way. They’re both naughty and nice, so it’s hard to say who’ll take over the family “business” one day.

“He Gives Cool Toys Too”- Why do kids in holiday flicks usually get generic toys on Christmas day? It would be nice to see Santa give other gifts, like monster action figures, for once.

“Single Snowdad”- The title was the last thing that came to me. Initially, it was just a drawing of a traditional snowman. There was space left for a kid and a pet, so they were included. Seeing them together suddenly inspired the title.

“Icons Party Hardy”- Holiday and feast day symbols unwind during their annual Christmas break. Jack O’Lantern, Easter Bunny, Thanksgiving Turkey and Stoopid Cupid pay their pal Santa a visit.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tension is a Passing Note

I started writing this last Friday afternoon, when I was still feeling beer-buzzed and processing the previous day’s events:

Thursday was a different kind of crazy. Weather’s so damned unfriendly, but it got better as I got to Xaymaca in Timog. I was the first guest to arrive, about 30 + minutes before the Mozzie EP launch party. I knew I was gonna be there a little early, because I had to avoid torturous rush hour traffic along the way. Hailing a cab was hard, but I was able to get one not too far from the MRT’s Kamuning station.

So I got there, changed and washed up, and sat down. I distracted myself by drawing something I started at home the night before. People started arriving in groups. Some sad mini-revolt at the Manila Pen that started hours before, I heard while in the taxi, was crushed by late afternoon. But I heard one of the launch guests talking to someone on her phone about a curfew.

A goddamned freaking curfew! Mark got there and confirmed that it had just been announced; Lester and my sister texted and told me about it at about the same time. People seen outdoors were gonna get arrested by 12 midnight. How fucking stupid and fascist, I thought. People were sorta scrambling to figure out when to leave or where to crash at that point. I had Dicky call John because he was incommunicado for a time. I reached him later too, and we decided that his place is where I’d be spending the night.

I was hungry; I was just subsisting on Boom Boom lollipops that afternoon (there wasn’t time to stop at some food place), so Mark ordered us food (chicken lollipops--sa wakas, ibang lollipop naman!--and a clubhouse sandwich with fries). The place was packed already, and people were still coming in. I’m sharing the table with new acquaintances, while Mark was Tasmanian Devil-ing across the room to greet guests and do whatever it is that he does best. Kindat emoticon here.

People’s plans abruptly changed; the show was shortened to accommodate the guests’ early exit. After Convoy and Happy Happy Joy Joys, Mozzie played a shorter than usual set. Kaze, sadly, was unable to appear, also because of the impending weirdness. By the way, congrats, Mozzie (buy their 7-song CD, visit Pam’s and Mozzie’s Multiply sites to see where they’re available)! I’m glad that they’re able to launch despite the you-know-what. It was still fun. Mark got free beer stubs and gave me a couple. By my fourth beer, I was feeling buzzed and was mindsexing someone across the table. Ah, beer, it doth lower mine inhibitions. Thanks for the stubbies, Beer Guy.

Anyway, the whole thing was done by 11. Virtually everyone was grumbling, but had no choice but to cooperate with the idiotic curfew just to avoid the inconveniences. But the event was fun, time constraints notwithstanding. It took me about 35 minutes to get a cab, but traffic was smooth and I was at John’s about 15 minutes later.

John was cool with having me over, even if he was busy working on some pages. Oh, I just realized, I’ve known him since… half our age now. Working out is doing him good, I noticed. Anyway, he made me crab ‘n’ corn soup, and I spent hours watching Heroes (Noah Bennett owns!) and looking at YouTube (My god, I never thought I’d say this, but Keith Urban and Alicia Keys rock!!! As in, they do a great rock song. At last, someone uploaded their “Gimme Shelter” performance!).

What a night. Those of us forced to stay indoors had to make the most of it, I suppose. Personally, there were parts during the party, and the hours after that, that made me smile. Some pure, honest conversations and moments just made my day.

Must be the beer talking. Burp.