Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hurricanes, Giant Robots & Graphic Novels

whew! it's been a while, huh? well, i live on long island...and as you may have heard, we got hit pretty hard by hurricane sandy. where i live wasn't so bad - i lost power for a few days but that was about it. many of my friends and co-workers weren't as fortunate as i was, however. some of them lost their houses, some are just now returning to them, and most of us are just now returning to our regular routines. the community that i teach in was devastated.  i have many students that were displaced and are now living all over the place, having lost everything that they owned. it's been rough. last wednesday i drove around LI with the social worker from my school delivering thanksgiving food to many of the displaced families...and seeing some of the conditions they're currently living in...well, blogging about games and stuff was the last thing on my mind.

anyway - being stuck in my apartment for a week back in october (and not having work for close to 2 weeks) led to me reading a whole lot. i've had stacks of graphic novels building up for a while, and not having power for a bit was the excuse i needed to tear into them. now, i've read most of these as they were coming out in issue form, but i find that i get so much more out of them when i read them as one continuous story arc.  so...my hurricane reading list looked like this: MORNING GLORIES, EX MACHINA, DEAD @ 17, ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN, PLANETARY, DEADENDERS, and DMZ (which i'm re-reading now).  before i touch on that, though...i want to discuss what i did BEFORE i read all those funny books: i sat down (with my fully charged iPad) and re-watched an awesome cartoon from start to finish...

SYM-BIONIC TITAN:  ok, so this is a cartoon by genndy tartakovsky. i've noticed that many people have never even heard of this show, which is weird since tartakovsky is a pretty well known creator (samurai jack, dexter's laboratory, powerpuff girls, clone wars, hotel transylvania).  it was on cartoon network but was unceremoniously cancelled at the end of  its first season under suspect circumstances.  recently, it's been back on saturday nights during toonami - which is basically the only way you'll see it for free since it was never released on dvd or bluray (it IS on itunes...and i recommend you get it that way).

it's about two human-looking aliens (lance and illana) and a robot (octus) who are hiding out on earth.  illana is the princess of a planet called galaluna - whose government was overthrown in a violent coup by race known as the mutraddi. the mutraddi are being led by a former galalunian general named modula. he's taken illana's father (known only as the king) hostage and enslaved the planet...but not before the king secretly sent illana away to earth...with two loyal and trusted allies to protect her. lance is a hotshot mech pilot and octus is a prototype robot (with many functions that are unknown to him until he finds himself in certain situations). the trio land on earth, where their entry into our solar system (through something called a rift gate) is detected by the military. after a brief skirmish (illana and lance have battlesuits that they can summon out of subspace) with the US army...

...they're able to escape into a nearby town.  octus taps into the internet and learns and great deal about the culture here, and discovers that kids illana and lance's age go to something called "high school". using a hologram projector, octus manages to make himself look like their father and enrolls all three of them at the local high school (octus has another hologram he uses for his student alter ego, which he calls "newton").  he also manages to procure a house for them to live in, where they attempt to assimilate earth culture.  illana winds up trying too hard to fit in with her "peers" at the school and is soon seen as a weirdo. lance, by virtue of not caring about their disguises (which he views as stupid) becomes a local heart-throb. octus, however, proves to be the true stud - attracting the attention of their hyper-annoying neighbor barb with his "dad" hologram, and successfully wooing the head cheerleader kimmie as "newton". this is them buying the house and meeting barb...
eventually, modula learns of their location on earth and begins to send a variety of gigantic monsters through the rift gate to kill illana. see, her death will extinguish the royal bloodline and crush the hope the galalunians have of being freed from modula's despotic rule. plus, word has gotten out on galaluna of her escape, and her survival has inspired a fierce resistance movement.

during their initial encounter with one of these mutraddi superbeasts, illana and lance learn that they have the ability to combine their suits with octus to form a huge supermech...which the people of earth soon begin to call TITAN:
 inject into all this their interactions with the neighbors and the kids at the high school, the US military looking to take TITAN down, and a secretive spy agency with galalunian tech and you have a very interesting show indeed - it's kind of like the BREAKFAST CLUB/CAN'T HARDLY WAIT meets ROBOTECH/VOLTRON/old GODZILLA movies meets a super hero series. i can't recommend it enough. supposedly, if enough people watch on toonami new eps may be ordered...which, y'know, would be a good thing.