Saturday, November 20, 2010

Power Pack Now

This is probably how Power Pack would look today if we follow Julie/Lightspeed’s current age (17). Teen Julie appeared in the Loners mini, where it was revealed that she’s attracted to girls. She was ten years old in the early adventures (and the out-of-continuity minis), so add seven to the siblings’ original ages when they became superheroes, and this is how Alex/Gee, Jack/Mass Master, and Katie/Energizer must look now. The costumes are based on Julie’s existing one; I just followed the pattern and individualized it. Marvel, if you’re coming out with a new teen book, it should be the updated Power Pack!

Penultimate ‘Potter’ pensive

On the run and fleeing for their lives, the heroes of Hogwarts experience more upheavals in the grim “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” the second to the last film in the series. Young spellcasters Harry, Hermione, Ron and their trusted allies form a resistance against the consolidated forces of arch-nemesis Voldemort, whose campaign involves the downfall of the Ministry of Magic.

Almost as dark as “Half-Blood Prince,” “Deathly Hallows” immediately illustrates how grave the situation has gotten: in one scene, the rogues smugly scheme while holding a Hogwarts teacher captive; in another, Harry’s friends magically become decoys, temporarily taking the young wizard’s form to confuse the enemy.

Much has changed, and the mythology keeps getting richer, even if the central saga itself is a pretty conventional tale with familiar trappings like predestined roles, seemingly unending quests, and heroic transformations. The movies have matured accordingly, reflecting Harry’s growth, as well as his friends’. Actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint have likewise grown with the years-long roles, and they’re no less convincing in this chapter when a love triangle of sorts manifests.

The David Yates-directed “Deathly Hallows” also experiments by conjuring up an animated sequence that’s simple yet fitting, pleasantly enhancing an integral legend that hints at the existence of some magical objects.

It’s not always clear how much time has passed during and between the trio’s missions, however. Pacing issues aside, it’s visually stunning and appropriately moody, properly exemplifying the proverbial calm before the storm. Big scenes from the trailers aren’t in the movie, but will be in the second part of “Deathly Hallows,” hopefully a grand and epic finale to the enchanting saga.

‘HIMYM’: Proud daddy, mystery mommy

(Published Nov. 21, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


The oft-sentimental sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” has yet to reveal the identity of the titular mom of romantic Ted Mosby’s (Josh Radnor) future kids. But the recent season teased with a few revelations about the yet unseen character.

The elusive mystery woman is a college student where Ted teaches, and is the roommate of Cindy (guest Rachel Bilson), a girl he’s really attracted to. But the succeeding episodes don’t give any more clues, and partly focus instead on Ted’s ongoing quest to find “the one,” unaware that he almost met his future wife a few times already.

As with previous seasons, “How I Met Your Mother” is enlivened by scene-stealing Neil Patrick Harris, whose lothario role Barney Stinson unceasingly regales his friends with tales of his conquests and bizarre but effective seduction methods.

Over-the-top Barney gets toned down from time to time, which gives him some degree of realism; his on again-off again pairing with news anchor Robin (Cobie Smulders) is revisited, resulting in some of the show’s better-written arcs.

Married couple Marshall and Lily (Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan) are still amusing, but their recent marital exploits aren’t as funny or insightful as in older episodes. Still, some developments look promising, as the spouses enter the next stage of their marriage by the end of season five.

The series’ narrative structure has been properly utilized through the years; however, some recent flashbacks just feel unnecessary and disruptive of established continuity and smooth storytelling. The malleability of the characters’ histories aside, the five friends are still evolving and maturing, despite the periodic reversion to juvenile behavior.

The continuous and perceptive tackling of romantic complexities and the “rules” of the dating scene also keep the show relatable. It still works, even when potentially comedic situations are sometimes deliberately traded for more dramatic and more “realistic” moments.

Season Six episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” air Mondays, 9 p.m., on ETC.

Komikon: A celebration of creativity and literacy

(Published Nov.20, PDI-Super)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Photos by Andrew Tadalan

The Komikon remains a welcoming haven for comic book fanatics, whether they’re creators or fans, bargain-hunters or autograph-seekers, avid or casual readers. Previously held at the Megamall’s Megatrade Hall, Komikon this year was held at the smaller but similarly accessible Starmall Edsa Trade Hall.

As with previous conventions, comic-reading geeks found the Sixth Annual Komikon an opportunity to get the latest titles, gain some insights on the creative process, and meet more fellow lovers of the storytelling medium.

Early in the afternoon, eight indie creators talked about their inclusion in the “Sulyap” anthology. “Trese” fans lined up and had their copies signed by co-creator Kajo Baldisimo. Aspiring artists got to meet their idols, Marvel illustrators Carlo Pagulayan (“Incredible Hulk”), Harvey Tolibao (“Psylocke”) and Stephen Segovia (“Dark Wolverine”).
Ariel Atienza, one of the organizers and creator of the strip “West Side,” expounded on choosing the Starmall venue.

“It’s more accessible to commuters,” Atienza said. “The foodcourt is just outside the entrance, which is very convenient for attendees, too. The Komikon core group has a tendency to think out of the box and see the potential of a venue. It’s keeping it as close to the grassroots level, the same way UP Bahay Ng Alumni does with Komikon.”

Atienza added that the event had a slightly bigger turnout than previous Komikons.

“Just a smidgen, but the difference comes in the pleasant surprise that the exhibitors, especially the indie komiks creators’ side, sold record numbers of their works. We’ve kept track of their sales and the number of ecstatic feedbacks. There’s a higher buying spree, which comes naturally. People recognize quality when they see it, and are willing to buy it at a reasonable price.”

The more diverse lineup of indie comic books, Atienza said, offered readers more imaginative stories and storytelling styles.

“This year’s comics creators and exhibitors are getting bolder. They’re not afraid to experiment with topics or stories; they keep getting better and better. Indie comics creators are leading the charge in crafting something very Filipino but still not something you can put a label on. Their works definitely cut across the board: there are titles out there for almost every genre you want. It’s something that took us by surprise and something we’re very, very proud of showcasing!”

Professor Emil Flores, who teaches comic book writing and analysis, and writes the action comic book “Cadre: Amerikanong Hilaw,” considers the Komikon a consistently important event for Filipinos who wish to tell stories using the medium.

“Komikon is a wonderful opportunity, even for students, to actually have their comics released,” Flores said. “Because of Komikon and the indie comics scene, they now have a venue for their creative energies.”

Flores added that Komikon and similar events emphasize the existence of locally made titles, which deserve to be appreciated by newer readers. He also stressed that it’s a good time for getting people interested in comic books.

“Comics content is everywhere even if Pinoy comics are not as visible. So I actually get to use the popularity of comics-influenced media to get people interested. There is always a movie, TV show or game to connect to comics. In a way, it’s how I sometimes teach mythology and literature to students who don’t read. I always make connections to movies and point out the literary traditions that filmmakers reference.”

Aside from Flores, creators who attended the recent Komikon were David Hontiveros (“Bathala: Apokalipsis”), Reno Maniquis (“Maskarado”) and Inquirer cartoonist Manix Abrera (“Kikomachine”), among others.

For information on Komikon events, visit

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Robin Army

Robin times 20! Boy and girl wonders from all over the DC Multiverse.

Upper row: Barbara Gordon (Thrillkiller), Robin Redblade (Batman Chronicles), Stephanie Brown, “Tengu” (Robin Elseworlds Annual), Richard Grayson (Pre-Crisis Earth 2), Robin (Detective No. 27), Redbird (The Blue, The Grey, The Bat), Carrie Kelly (Dark Knight Returns), Richart Graustark (Thrillkiller), Jason Todd, Tom Wayne (Robin 3000)

Lower row: Richard Grayson (Dark Knight of the Round Table), Tim Drake, Boy (Return of Bruce Wayne), Dick Grayson, Damian Wayne, Tris Plover (Legends of the Dead Earth), Robin (Just Imagine Stan Lee), Robin the Toy Wonder (Robin 1,000,000), Robin Drake (JLA: Riddle of the Beast)

This Kiss, This Kiss

“You can’t punch the gay out of me any more than I can punch the ignoramus out of you!”

Okay, spoilers. Openly gay Kurt Hummel confronts homophobic bully Dave Karofsky in this intense and stunning scene from Glee. Love Chris Colfer and Max Adler’s acting. Colfer keeps getting dramatic storylines, and it's a treat to see his character grow. Also love the “Teenage Dream” cover by Darren Criss, who plays another gay character, Blaine.

Library Envy

My thanks to Al a.k.a Toshi Alibudbud for inviting me to be one of Xavier School’s Reading Week speakers last Tuesday. Professor Emil Flores, Benedict Bartolome, John-D Borra and I were there for over an hour and talked about different aspects of comic books. We had a grand time. The Xavier high school library was awesome, by the way; students can borrow X-Men Essentials, Watchmen, and other trade paperbacks. Toshi told me that they had to really fight for the inclusion of comic books in their library. Wish the libraries from the schools I went to had a wonderful selection, too. That is one cool place.

‘True Blood’ rejuvenated

(Published Nov. 8, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


In HBO’s fantasy-drama series “True Blood,” vampires affect humans in different significant ways. A Louisiana town, Bon Temps, is a hotbed of open and covert supernatural activity, its enigmatic denizens regularly encountering friendly and not-so-harmless nocturnal creatures.

The number of those beings increases further in the third season, as various elements attempt to find out the truth behind plucky waitress Sookie Stackhouse’s (Anna Paquin) telepathic powers. Questions are answered and other crucial and intriguing changes are introduced.

Sookie’s stable relationship with vampire beau Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) is rocked by the machinations of haughty vampire sheriff Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard). Her shape-shifter boss Sam (Sam Trammell) finds his long-lost relatives, and is later haunted by memories of his life before Bon Temps.

Meanwhile, “baby vampire” Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) recovers from her recent romantic woes. Gay cook Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) discovers his mystical heritage with his lover Jesus (Kevin Alejandro), who is trained in sorcery. Lafayette’s cousin Tara (Rutina Wesley) is enslaved by psychotic bloodsucker Franklin (James Frain).

It’s not very accessible to new viewers due to its expanding mythology and cast, but patient fans who endured some of the older episodes’ silly and campy subplots are rewarded. It is fast-paced, rejuvenated, and owes much to the addition of villain Russell Edgington (Dennis O’Hare). Unpredictable Russell personifies the menacing bogeyman in a show full of monsters.

“True Blood” season 3 airs nightly, 9 p.m., on HBO Signature until November 14.


Denzel Washington collaborates with Tony Scott again on another movie that involves a train, after last year’s hostage flick “The Taking of Pelham 123.” The action-drama “Unstoppable” is likewise decently made, but it’s also something that isn’t entirely exciting or involving. Inspired by actual events, the film recreates situations from a fateful day in 2001, when a freight train carrying tons of hazardous materials sped away from its careless operator. Actors Washington and Chris Pine play the engineer and conductor, respectively, who risk life and limb to prevent a catastrophe. The initially uncomfortable co-workers aid the clear-thinking dispatcher played by Rosario Dawson. Well-defined and humanizing portrayals keep this film interesting, despite its requisite and procedural drama that focuses on the main characters’ unstable bonds with their relatives. It still somewhat uplifts, corny and unexciting moments notwithstanding.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Giggle-worthy ‘Modern Family’

(Published Nov. 5, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


The antics of three connected families elicit consistent laughs in the relatable weekly sitcom “Modern Family.”

Sixty-something Jay (Ed O’Neill) is married to hot Latina Gloria (Sofia Vergara), mother of a mature-thinking 11-year-old (Rico Rodriguez). Jay’s gay son from a previous marriage, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) has a partner, Cameron (Eric Stonestreet), and recently adopted a baby girl. Jay’s daughter Claire (Julie Bowen), meanwhile, is married to real estate agent Phil (Ty Burrell) and has three kids.

The half-hour program’s “mockumentary” format allows for “interview” segments between scenes, helping expound on the characters’ personalities and thoughts, just like in “The Office.”

The various relationships are established and explored in season one, easily distinguishing each family member in just a few episodes.

From imperfect childhood issues to cultural differences, “Modern Family” manages to identify and make fun of real topics, while giving a broader view of the chosen subject through the interactions of the three families. Some of the more watchable moments are those that focus on how differently the parent characters raise their disparate and unpredictable children.

This family is generally accepting, flawed but generous. They’re non-judgmental when it comes to each other’s decisions, but they’re still revealed as having unspoken apprehensions. Claire initially thinks that Gloria is a gold-digger, for example, but is more welcoming when she realizes that the younger woman genuinely loves Jay.

Tapping universal situations and familial concerns, but still harnessing them creatively into giggle-worthy and even heartwarming stories, “Modern Family” manages to regularly focus on what makes these unique families tick.

"Modern Family” airs Thursdays, 8 p.m., on Solar TV

‘Date’ grates

Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis star in the formulaic road trip-odd couple comedy “Due Date,” about two mismatched strangers forced to accompany each other for many grueling hours en route to Los Angeles.

The laughs come in due time; Downey plays Peter, a sensitive and seemingly calm guy with anger issues, while Galifianakis plays an inconsiderate and eccentric aspiring actor, Ethan, with dreams of making it big in Hollywood. Peter needs to be in LA for the birth of his child, and must bear with Ethan’s consistently weird and boneheaded behavior throughout the long trip.

Directed by “The Hangover’s” Todd Phillips, “Due Date” is often crude and gross. Galifianakis’ stoner-oddball character is a variation on his previous role in “Hangover,” but the bigger focus doesn’t mean that it’s more clearly defined. Sure, he misses his recently deceased father a lot, which allows for sad (and uncomfortable) moments. But the contrived quirkiness makes it hard to feel sympathy for the guy.

Downey’s tense and desperate character has a really funny scene involving “babysitting” a pair of kids, but he just doesn’t figure in a scene as gut-busting later. The actor is still able to make the somewhat two-dimensional role real; it does feel that he’s going through hell, but more importantly, he makes the struggle to give his companion several chances credible. All in all, there are serious thigh-slappers, but the movie’s pretty thin and it’s a trip to love/hate-ville that we’ve taken before.