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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Marvel Mangaverse Vol. 4 – X-Men: Ronin




Title:
Marvel Mangaverse Vol. 4 – X-Men: Ronin





ISBN:
0785111158


Price:
$13.99


Publisher/Year:
Marvel, 2003


Artist: Makoto Nakatsuka, Hiromi Nakatsuka


Writer:
J. Torres


Collects:
X-Men: Ronin #1–5





Rating:
2/5





The
Hellfire Club, aka the yakuza or something, want to recruit Jean Grey [the
slutty redhead as seen above] to their organization of evil. The X-Men
intervene and save Jean from certain death. Emma Frost, the evil slutty blonde
trying to recruit Jean convinces the city that the X-Men are monsters. This sends
the city into hysteria so the local police chief starts using human piloted
robots to hunt down those damn mutants. Gundams? No, Sentinels. Mansions are
blown up, villains are killed, etc. etc. To be honest, the storyline is as if
the writer threw a bunch of elements of X-Men in a blender and wrote what
resulted from that blender.





The
crappy artwork itself is just only a minor thing in a long list of complaints
that can be leveled against this book. But we'll start off with the obvious,
which is of course the artwork. Let's get one thing straight here people.
Manga, basically evolved to look like the shittiest form of art possible
because the artists are expected to turnout several hundred pages of this stuff
per week. Not because it's supposed to represent a culture, not because it's
somehow "cool" or "artsy". It's just mass produced tripe
that Japanese artists churn out to grace the weekly magazines for people to
read on the daily two hour train ride to school and work in Tokyo. At least
most of it is, as there are always a few gems to be found. Sadly X-Men Ronin is
not one of them. Oh sure, it's got the gratuitous cleavage and borderline
pedophilic material to make it look like a manga. It has no sense of human
proportion. It's got the ol' "saucer-eyes" look. But compared to the
standards of what makes manga bad, even this is below those standards.





This
book was obviously not written by somebody who writes for comics! The writing
actually comes off more as if it were written by one of those aforementioned
otaku that like to write yaoi (slash fiction) based on their favorite anime
shows and was picked off of FanFiction.net by Marvel for sounding "really
Japanesey". It physically hurts me whenever I have to read through the
poor dialogue and the the insistence of making everything sound like if it came
off of some ninja movie. In fact, by the end of the series, it all just turns
into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but with people with special powers and a
guy with a really long tongue in the role of Splinter in place of
anthropomorphic turtles and rats. The X-Men as a "masterless clan"
who fight for the "honor" of all mutants? WTF indeed.





The
only thing that could save this comic now would be for one of them to sprout
tentacles and you know...





The
characters seen in X-Men Ronin are not similar to the X-Men heroes and villains
in any way, shape or form. Often, characters will switch personality, power,
gender, or moral compass for little to no reason. If you're doing an X-Men
story, you do not make Toad an old Japanese sensei who guides the young X-Men.
Toad is a sycophantic lackey, not a wise old man with a long tongue. That's
certainly not the only massive character change, though; for example, take Emma
Frost's henchmen, Iceman, Pyro and Colossus. Iceman and Colossus are obviously
out of place because they've never been shown as evil, except that shit
storyline in the 90's where Colossus joined Magneto for some poorly explained
reason. Not only that, Iceman looks like the bastard child of Jack Frost and
Colossus doesn't even have metal skin - from the art it appears his skin
becomes rock upon transformation. I want Colossus, not the Thing! And Pyro is
still somehow the strangest departure of all - first of all, Pyro's British
instead of Australian, and most importantly, Pyro's now a girl. Because
scantily clad Jean Grey, Storm, Emma Frost and Tessa weren't enough! They
needed a female Human Torch in a leather bra! Oh, and, the best for last:
Xavier is evil.





You
could certainly take my complaints of character differences as nothing more
than fanboy bitching, but my opinion of it is that if you're going to make an
X-Men story, why bother making one if you're not going to use anything
resembling the characters? For several of them, the only similarity they have
with the original are the powerset, and even then that's dicey. None of the
characters in their manga forms display any bit of personality, old or new.
Storm and Jean are in this solely to draw in the sex offenders crowd; Cyclops
is a case of 'nice house, but nobody's home'. Toad is Master Splinter. In fact,
the only person who shows even a bit of personality not from the 'manga stock
personalities' is Wolverine, and even then, how hard is it to write Wolverine?
All you need to do is have him pop his claws a few times, say "bub"
and be a dick to Cyclops.





Some
of the costumes are stupid. Okay, that's not accurate - all of the costumes are
stupid. The worst offender would have to be Cyclops. The real Cyclops hasn't
had much luck in terms of costumes - from his original blue and yellow togs to
his Jim Lee costume that contained too many Goddamn pouches that never seemed
to hold anything. He's never had a very good costume. But compared to his
costume in X-Men Ronin, his blue and yellow condom outfit from the Kirby days
looks good.  He's wearing red blocky
armor with a laser pointer helmet. How much lamer can you get?





Okay...no.





Is
this worthy X-Men material?





X-Men
stories, well, the good ones at least, are about persecution and hatred against
outsiders. This story does indeed portray the pseudo X-Men as outsiders, but
does not adequately display the message of the X-Men. The X-Men at best serve
as characters relatable to minorities, whether black or Latino or gay, or just
people who don't 'fit in' and are treated poorly as a result of it. Ronin sort
of does that, but it's completely uninspired. It's nothing more than cookie
cutter X-fare with manga storytelling. The bizarre amalgam of X-Men characters
and stock manga characters make much of it feel unfamiliar other than the 'yes,
people dislike mutants'. Plus, there's no Magneto. You can't have the X-Men
without Magneto! But then again, considering how they fucked up everything with
these characters, maybe that's a good thing.





Is
this worthy Manga material?





One
thing that this series takes seriously is trying to make itself as mangafied as
possible. Even the Sentinels are no longer just plain giant robots. They've
become stock manga piloted mechs. But this is where we enter into the eternal
debate about just what makes something manga. It's been agreed that everything
that comes directly out of Japan can be classified as "manga", while
everything else that adheres to the style, but is not produced in Japan is
"manga-esque". I guess Marvel knew this, so that's why they went so
far as to hiring a Japanese manga artist to do the artwork. But this does not
make it manga. In fact, I don't even know what Marvel was thinking about when
they decided to go with their Mangaverse line of mangafied comics. This
obviously will not sell in Japan and the manga reading public in the U.S. is
normally not into super-hero type comics or even any type of western style
types of comics or storytelling for that matter. This is really just an attempt
to cash in on the lucrative "otaku" fanbase market in America. I
think Marvel should be smart enough not to follow in the steps of Todd
McFarlane. He was the first one to whore out to the "mangawave" style
of comics, and look where most of his stuff ends up in now. That's right. In
the quarter bin in the back of your local comic book dealer.





A
bizarre mishmash of X-Men and manga, the miniseries is unlikely to satisfy the
X-Men fan or the manga fan. Read only if you're a diehard X-Men fan who needs
to read every story.

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