New Mangaverse #4

Background

Last issue the team of Lady Deathstrike, Sunfire, and Silver Samurai (without Elektra) decided to lay a massive strike on an air force base strictly to show how evil they are. In the process a pilot by the name of Carol Danvers was knocked out of the skies by the Silver Samurai, and zapped by a fist full of Mandarin rings by Lady Deathstrike. As luck would have it she not only survives the ordeal, but gets super powers out of it. Meanwhile Iron Man's team of heroes decides to make their strike on the Hand's headquarters, but are greeted by the Asian Triad + One. So bring out some popcorn because we're due for a big fight scene.

In the meantime some of you readers are still rather novices when it comes to Manga. So I thought before getting on with this review I'd talk a bit about Manga's origins. The father of Japan's manga industry, was Dr. Osamu Tezuka. In 1945 near the end of the second world war Tezuka saw an animated short propaganda film based the Japanese folk tale Momotarou. In a moment of inspiration Tezuka decided he wanted to tell stories of hope and peace, choosing to become a cartoonist. Though this seems like an unthinkable choice for a certified doctor, Tezuka later admitted in interviews that the main reason he attended medical school was to avoid being drafted into the military.

Tezuka was heavily influenced by the works of American animators most notably those of Walt Disney, and the Fleischer brothers (whose style Tezuka's most closely resembles.) His most famous work was Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atomu) which debuted in manga format in 1952. Many of the original Astro Boy stories are now available in digest sized collections from Dark Horse Comics. Though known today primarily for works aimed at children with series like Atro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, etc. Tezuka experimented in a many genres including historical drama (Adolf), horror (Dororu), and medical drama (Black Jack.)

In 1963 an animated adaptation of Astro Boy was produced for television, with adaptations of other popular manga series such as Mitsuteru Yokoyama's Tetsujin- 28 (AKA Gigantor) and Shotaro Ishinomori's Cyborg 009 soon following. Astro Boy would make his debut on American television a year later. Still it wouldn't be until the late 90s until Anime and Manga reached a solid footing in American pop culture.

Story Details

  New Mangaverse #4
Summary: Manga Spider-Man and Manga Mary Jane (as Manga Spider-Girl) Star
Editor: John Barber
Writer: C.B. Cebulski
Artist: Tommy Ohtsuka

We open up to see four straight mini-splash pages of the New Mangaverse New Avengers duking it out with The Asian Triad Plus One. Our heroes whoever don't fare well as the Human Torch accidentally almost blasts Spider-Man, both get knocked out by the Silver Samurai. Wolverine gets laid out by a hodoken while saving Spider-Chan from Sunfire who promptly clobbers her. Black Cat gets some pointy looking blades stuck in her back courtesy of Lady Deathstrike. Finally a pair of ninjas help Elektra take down Iron Man with the ancient ninjitsu weapon of electrified mines. With the team laid out and unconscious, the villains contemplate finishing them off. But the mystery villain in a mini-skirt wants them to know who killed them.

Meanwhile we see Carol Danvers climbing Mount Fuji with her bare hands. Being a pilot you think she would have saved precious time by using an airplane to get to the top, but she apparently didn't consider that. She also conveniently explains that her new powers she can feel the bad guys in there. "Your prodigal "daughter" is home... and you're gonna regret leaving Carol Danvers alive!"

Dang... did Tom Defalco guest-write this month's dialog.

Anyway Carol sneaks into the villain's base through the air vent and sees our bound and unconscious heroes. Carol breaks into the Asian Triad Plus One's trophy room and is attacked from behind by Elektra. Thankfully she's invulnerable so it proves to be an one-sided fight which ends with Ms. Marvel/Binary/Warbird cutting Elektra in half, Samurai Showdown style.

Yeah... nice to know that whole code against killing doesn't apply in this universe.

Elektra thanks Carol for killing her because she's guilty about the whole killing Daredevil thing. Meanwhile Lady Deathstrike want to torture our heroes starting with Spider-Woman. But both Spider-Man and Wolverine come to, even though they're essentially powerless to stop her. Then our mystery villain reveals herself to be...

HOLY CRAP! IT'S SAYLA MASS FROM MS GUNDAM! SHE TURNED OVER TO THE PRINCEPALETY OF ZEON! SIEGE ZEON!

Oh wait it's Sharon Carter. *sighs*

Sharon rambles on the standard megalomaniacal speech on why she had to wipe out the world's super heroes, and decides to unmask and kiss Spider-Man just for the heck of it. Who cares what the reason is... SHE'S CRAZY! She then gives the order for the Silver Samurai to kill them. Peter tries to appeal to some kind of Ninja honor in Silver, apparently forgetting he's not a ninja but a SAMURAI!

Anyway Carol Danvers runs in wearing Captain America's costume and saves them... I can't believe I just typed that. Our heroes break free and it's New Mangaverse New Avengers Assemble time!

General Comments

I honestly feel bad for Tommy Ohtsuka.

This issue he's like a boxer taking blow after blow but refused to go down. His quality art work is absolutely stunning at a few points, but it doesn't matter because the story is so shallow, so brain dead, and so gimmicky it doesn't matter. At this point C.B. Cebulski isn't even trying to make a surprising plot, or engaging dialog. He's on autopilot and the plane is going down in flames.

Oh and Carol Danvers has so totally turned into a Mary Sue at this point...

Overall Rating

So in short too shallow, too violent, too gimmicky, and too stupid. But at least pretty to look at.

Footnote

Will the New Mangaverse New Avengers defeat The Evil Triad Plus One, Minus One? Is Sharon Carter really bad or just written that way? Will we see a New Mangaverse Civil War tie-in? Will there be a wedding on this week's General Hospital? Why the hell aren't you reading Mary Jane? And is this the end of the New Mangaverse? Tune in next time true believers.