Give me that hamburger and I’ll help you with that misbehaving Amazon

Kamen Rider Amazons

Kamen Rider Amazons, episodes 1-6

  1. I’m not hugely familiar with the Kamen Rider franchise. I wasn’t familiar with it at all until I was in Japan during the campaign promoting the Kamen Rider Drive movie. Since then I’ve watched part of the original series (the cinematography is excellent, especially the closeups), part of Ghost (objectively a bad show, and not a patch on its direct competitor, Ultraman X), and I’m keeping up to date with Amazons. But given the 40 year history, I’m very much a newbie.
  2. Amazons is jarringly dark coming after Ghost, but it calls back to the more mature tone of the original series. There’s a strong body horror component, and Haruka’s existential dread is portrayed quite well and reminds me of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. There is a genuine sense of panic and disgust as Haruka comes to terms with his transformation into a bloodthirsty creature.
  3. Having said that, it’s also bringing in the grimdark style of the worst versions of American comics. Netflix’s Daredevil is the comparison I’ve seen around the place, and I think that’s right. I love Daredevil, it’s one of the few superhero comics I regularly read, but I hate that edgy, gritty version, and I couldn’t get through the first series. I think I am enjoying Amazons more because the villains are still cartoonishly ridiculous (apart from the paint job, the Butterfly Amazon isn’t that different from Ghost‘s Insect Gamma), the fights are pretty well choreographed, and there is a strain of absurd humour running through it (eg, the title of this post).
  4. It’s holding its serious and silly sides together quite well so far. Case in point: the introduction of Jin Takayama seemed jarringly ridiculous at first. While the extermination team is fighting Amazons in the forest, Jin leans on a truck’s horn until everyone looks at him. Then he cracks a raw egg, swallows it, and joins the fight. But this quirk is explained later as part of the pseudoscience behind these creatures: they are desperate for protein. Jin eats eggs constantly, and hamburgers are another running joke — but there is an explanation for it.
  5. From the Book of Revelation: “I am the Alpha and the Omega — the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come — the Almighty One.” What might Jin (Alpha) and Haruka (Omega) achieve if they can overcome their differences and learn to work together?

That fat Nazi has to be out of licorice by now, right?

4 Kids Walk into a Bank

4 Kids Walk into a Bank, issue 1

  1. A skinhead gang barges into 11-year-old Paige’s house. She picks a fight with them, then gathers her D&D-playing friends to go on a stake-out and find out what they are up to. This is exactly in my sweet spot.
  2. This is a noir-ish detective story at its core, but it allows plenty of space to let the kids be kids, and they have a great sense of humour. The D&D game that devolves into squabbling because that one kid doesn’t understand why he can’t be a dragon; the ham radio conversation that devolves into “over over over over” because that one kid can’t choose a decent callsign. These scenes have absolutely no bearing on the plot, but they are good depictions of childhood conversations and develop the group dynamic effectively.
  3. Everything about this (the humour, the cast, the stakes, and particularly the art) reminds me of Fraction/Aja/Hollingsworth Hawkguy, and that is a very very good thing.
  4. Paige is shaping up as an excellent protagonist in the Veronica Mars mould. She’s streetwise, self-assured, and an excellent smartarse, but her care and loyalty for friends and family are already evident. I have been thinking about running a game of Bubblegumshoe, and even in the first issue, 4KWIAB is sparking some ideas. This is going to be great.
  5. My one niggling concern is that when you establish a gang of swastika-tattooed skinheads as the villains, it is not a great idea to make the Jewish kid the socially inept one who is barely tolerated by the group. I hope they give him a heroic turn at some point.