Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween !

Welcome, my fellow ghosts and ghouls. Here in Germany it's 1:31 after midnight right now but in America there are still a few hours of Halloween left.


Today was not a good day. When I tried to go to bed yesterday I began to cough like crazy so I took some medicine. But then I couldn't breathe and and had to wait for hours till I got some airs back into my lungs. I used the time to put some material on my not comic related blog ( where I have passed my 60th post this month ) but when I finally managed to go to sleep it was eight o' clock in the morning.

And I didn't get much sleep either because at noon I was awake again. The whole day I'm walking around like a Marvel zombie so I'm feeling like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD right now. The original black and white kick - ass version. I drank a lot of tea today but my head still feels like it's full of cotton or styrofoam. I keep forgetting all kind of things and I'm walking around like a retard.


Here in Spain we had the right weather for Halloween. It was raining cats and dogs outside, we had a few blackouts and till ten in the night there was no running water. I used the creepy atmosphere to read the first four issues of BATMAN - GOTHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT and I have to say it's nothing compared to SUBZERO - LA POBLA.....AFTER DARK. No, I have to say, I really like the story so far even if I have not read much by Mr. Steven Niles. And the artwork of the master himself Mr. Kelley Jones is without reproach. But it's a good time for a horror fan to read superhero comics right now.


Because a lot of books could be turned into a horror movie : Hulk - your classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Secret Invasion - Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, Batman - your classical haunted ghost story with a bit of Dr. Caligary's freak cabinet, The Demon - you can guess this one, Superman - It came from Outer Space, Fantastic Four - four classic horror characters, Spider - Man - I was a teenage Spider - Man, Iron Man - the horror version of the man in the iron mask, Man Thing - the thing from the swamp ( I just love the " and whoever feels fear burns at the touch of the Man Thing ), of course the original Marvel Swamp Thing ( shoutout to Mike Sterling ), Marvel Zombies - don't have to explain that, etc, etc, etc.....


But it's not just the superhero books there are a lot of indie comics out there that bring an adrenalyn rush to the heart of every horror fan. Of course first and foremost HELLBOY and WALKING DEAD. But besides that other titles like HACK / SLASH, THE GOON or ASTOUNDING WOLFMAN are also tapping the horror vein. Thank god that horror has now a stronger foothold in the comics industy.

For me it's now time to try to get some sleep but I just had to do a post on Halloween with a name like TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN - which I have changed just for today ( if you have noticed the different header picture ) to TALES FROM THE CRYPTONIAN. In honor to TALES FROM THE CRYPT one of the main influences for the name of this blog.

Well, I hope your day was better than mine ( that's something I ought to put on a shirt : I hope your day was better than mine ) and I wish you much fun with your trick and treating. Happy Halloween.


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    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Solicitations - part 3

    Today it was raining and somehow I didn't get much done on the computer. Halloween is just a few short days away and I'm already thinking what kind of post I'm going to do.


    But now that DR. HOUSE has finished I have some free time. Normally I'm watching MONK but they replaced the show with PSYCH so I'm watching Legion cartoons and continuing with the solicitation report.

    LOST BOYS : REIGN OF FROGS TPB


    This kind of keeps the Halloween theme going but really......am I the only one who actually remembers the movie LOST BOYS ? Weren't the two main characters two kids who would fecate upon themselves at the mere sight of a vampire ? Two snotnose kids who were afraid of their own shadow ? And now I'm supposed to believe that they became those two tough as nails monster hunters ? Looks to me like somebody wants to cash in on the SUPERNATURAL franchise.

    REIGN IN HELL 7


    Another Halloween kind of comic and again the word " reign " in the title. Coincidence ? A hidden message perhaps ? Be as that may it seems that the old DAY OF JUDGEMENT gang is back. While I went to Spain the SHADOWPACT series ended and I still have to read the final issues. I have to say it's kind of weird seeing Justiniano's pencils on the title after Tom Derenick's long stint on Shadowpact. Somehow I got used to his look.


    From all the COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS books DAY OF JUDGEMENT was my favorite. Because as cool as SECRET SIX was with the six main characters going up against the combined supervillain society it was nothing against the magic characters from the bottom ofthe barrell going against THE SPECTRE - God's wrath on earth. And they had Detective Chimp ! Just can't beat the monkeys. It's what I'm always saying. Comics are better if you just add a monkey.


    Now while Shadowpact had a good run DC never quite managed to put out a good follow - up series for the SECRET SIX characters. I bought the whole second mini series and, Man, when I'm streamlining my comic collection that book is the first one that´s gonna land on the chopping block. Maybe the reason why the characters never clicked with me aside from their initial mini series is the fact that after all these guys are still villains. Villains who fight against the right villains but still villains.

    And it's not easy to come up with some interesting challenge after beating the united society of super villains. Tough act to follow. Anyway, so far REIGN IN HELL is not on my list but I think it's worth risking a look if I see it the next time in my comic shop. And it's got BLUE DEVIL in it. So how bad can it be ?

    ROBIN 182


    I'm not reading the title but I just wanted to say that ANARCHY always was one of my favorite Batvillains. If he really IS a villain. Because while his methods differ greatly from Batman his goals are ultimately the sames. And of course there's no denying that the whole idea of a better world through real anarchy - which is not the same as chaos - is extremely appealing to younger comic readers.

    A quote from the original mini :

    Everything you know is a lie.

    Cast your mind back to when you were a child. Remember how life shone out from within? How everything was new and full of golden hope? And then " they " got to you. The politicians – the priests – the philosophers – the parasites! This is politics: " Do what you’re told or we’ll punish you. " This is religion: " Suffer misery now so you can be happy after death. " This is philosophy: " The universe came from nothing and will one day return to it. "

    None of these doctrines stands up to rational analysis.


    Since the birth of consciousness, hundreds of millions of human beings have been slaughtered by their fellows. Men – women – children ... snuffed out as if their lives meant nothing. Why? Because we look to leaders and priests and gurus and " stars " to tell us what to do instead of relying on the powers of our own sovereign minds. They charge in blood for the privilege of ruling us. Quoting Einstein out of context, they say that good and evil are relative; that there are no moral absolutes.

    They lie. Only two laws are needed to change the entire universe: Never use initiatory force, and never cheat.

    The people who run our world constantly break both. Aristotle believed that man is basically good, decent and noble. If left to his own devices he’ll seek individual happiness within an orderly society. For Aristotle, human life and sovereign consciousness were the universe’s greatest values. But Plato believed man is a wild and savage beast, incapable of self-discipline. To manage him for his own best ends, man needs rulers – kings, governments, priests, presidents. For Plato, human life is worthless, to be endlessly sacrificed to " higher " causes and ideals.

    Which one do you think the world followed?


    Mao Tse-Tung spouted a lot of nonsense, but he sure got one thing right: All (political) power comes out the barrel of a gun. You don’t believe me, do you? You live in a democracy. You vote for your leaders. So tell me – what happens if you want to disobey them? Say you don’t like the President. You object to paying taxes to support him, his family, his pets, his bodyguards and the friends he wangled jobs for. What do you do? Or say you don’t like your taxes being used to subsidize foreign arms sales for slaughter in the third world. How can you stop it?

    Vote for somebody else, whose policy is the same? Don’t vote?

    The government pretends to be there to serve you. In reality, it’s there to tell you what to do. If you refuse to obey, you’ll be investigated – arrested – criminalized. Your assets will be seized and given to the state. You will be jailed. Albert Einstein said that " The only justifiable purpose of political institutions is to ensure the unhampered development of the individual. " But our institutions are the opposite. They enslave us – rule us by fear and deceit! They’d gladly bomb us back into the stone age! They don’t want the common man to be anything but a slave!


    The world has gone wrong. But I swear by every breath in my body – I will put it right again! In harsh economic terms, there are only two kinds of people in the world: those who produce goods, services and values ... and those who don’t. And before you say what about the old, the young, and the sick – we look after them, right? That’s what makes us human. Intentional non-producers are parasites. To hide their parasitism, they employ the techniques of deception, coercion, and naked force. Parasites can never create. They can only destroy.

    Today, for the first time in history, the parasites outnumber the producers who support them. They’re entering a final feeding frenzy, which will result in the ultimate evil – a totalitarian state. Where administration bigwigs view the world from stretch limos, while families sleep in cardboard boxes – Corrupt businessmen flourish, while honest men beg in the gutter – Crime explodes – while decent folk are afraid to walk the streets their taxes pay for. All human life is there – from the best to the worst, the kings in their fortresses to the scum in their sties. And all of them believe it has to be that way.


    I’m going to show them that it doesn’t. The world is collapsing. Madness flares everywhere the animal mind reclaims the conscious mind. The religious slaughters – the inter-tribal massacres – the wars for oil – have turned our planet into a charnel pit. Grinding poverty affects half mankind. 20 million people die each year because they’re hungry. And who pays for the parasites who cause it all? The common man ... his wife ... their children. The elites have always won. The common man has always lost.

    Until tonight.

    I merely intend to hold up a mirror, and say – " See what you are, and see what you could be. “Mankind is poised between a future in the stars, and a future in the mud. So stop the killing – stop the lies – and let’s start living! " Imagine – you’re a child again. Filled with innocence, and wonder, and life. Remember how good it felt? That’s what the parasites stole from us. They bled us dry. And like sheep we lined up to give more blood. But we can have back all that they stole, and more. The information age provides a spotlight the parasites can’t squirm away from.

    Identify them. Negate their evil. Ostracize them. Step with me into a better world.


    The first Anarchy miniseries was really one of the best tie - ins to the regular batbooks not only because of the art by Norm Breyfogle. The ongoing was not as good if I remember correctly. I think I have a special in german that reprints the first mini but aside from that I'm not sure. All I know is that there were plans to make Anarchy the next Robin that got nixxed when Tim Drake took up the mantle. There was the idea to solidify Anarchy's place in the batuniverse by making him the son of the Joker but the whole idea just sounded bogus to me. For more about Anarchy just go here it's where I got the neat quote from.

    As to Norm Breyfogle he is one of the artist I miss in the mainstream and the last thing I heard was that he has now gone independent with OF BITTER SOULS. That's another trade I have to remember to look out for. It seems that Norm is working on his next project THE DANGER'S DOZEN. For more information or if you want to buy original art or a submission just go to normbreyfogle.com . And once again that's all for Today.


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    For every obstacle there is a solution.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Solicitations - part 2

    As always here's the second part of the solicitation commentary.


    I'm still watching the LEGION OF SUPER HEROES cartoon and I'm now entering the second season and so far it's pretty good. They have interesting new takes on the characters and they even included fan favorites of legion lore like the substitutes and the suneater - even if Arm - Fall - Off - Boy hasn't made an appearance yet. So here's the rest of the DC stuff :

    FINAL CRISIS - SUPERMAN BEYOND 2


    I'm not even going to speculate about this one. Having not even finished reading FINAL CRISIS everything that follows it is just not fathomable. There are a lot of rumors on the internet about what is going to happen but I never bought much into the internet hype. So I'll pick up the issues in the shop if they are interesting.

    Have I mentioned how much the FINAL CRISIS covers suck ? I wonder whose great idea that was.

    JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA 23


    Another great Alex Ross cover for one of DC's best team books. Even when this book was in it's last incarnation it was constantly upstaging Morrison's Justice League. And now it's even better. And not just because they had the stones to finally make Power Girl the team leader.

    They also made her a more centered personality by finally remembering her Earth 2 origins. Now she tries to live up to the legacy of the real Superman and even though Clark is like a brother to her he will always be second - rate to the original Superman. I only could read the first chapters of the GOG / MAGOG storyline but it seems DC is finally doing more with the leftover potential of KINGDOM COME. So far the only thing they ever did with it was THE KINGDOM that totally didn't live up to it's expectations.


    I have to say although I prefer covers that tell you something about the actual story inside the comic ( yeah, good chances with that SUBZERO ) I see where DC is going with this. A few years back DC did this whole " faces of DC " covers where every cover of the month was just one big face on the cover. Doesn't look that exciting in your collection but it has a nice effect when all the DC characters are looking at you from the comic shelf. Anything to get the readers attention. And it's not as if that makes the cover bad or anything.

    Especially with Black Adam on the cover. He always was one of my favorite JSA characters and through the events of 52 and his new mini series THE DARK AGE he has become much more interesting.


    DARK AGE is really a scary story and what happens to Adam.......well, I wouldn't whish it on my worst enemy. If you haven't read it you should definitely check it out.

    By the way it seems that THE ROCK is playing Black Adam in an upcoming SHAZAM movie. I have to say : good choice.


    JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL VOL 4 HC


    Well, it's about time DC made the best League of them all available for readers old and new alike. This really belongs in the bookshelf of every League fan. The Giffen / DeMatteis League was one of the books I started on when I first began reading the original version way back in Munich. I already told the tale how I went to this comic shop called Juergens Comic Shop to look for comics. I was doing my military service in Munich ( I never found out how that came to be since being from Stuttgart they should have found a place near where I could do my service ) and before getting leave for the christmas holidays we had to report to the barracks.

    So I had looked in a comic magazine for the direction of a comic shop in Munich and I quickly found it. Well, the shop just had a gazillion comics I have never seen and I picked up anything that looked interesting. SANDMAN, DOOM PATROL, HELLBLAZER - never heard of them but into the bag you go. I blew a whole bunch of dough, left the shop with a bag full of comics and they were worth every dime. While going home with the train I discovered that there was also a small comic shop within the station of Munich that had american comics. And just downstairs at the international press section they also had american comics but older issues. So by frequenting all three locations I could gather quite a collection.


    Ah, the good old days of my time at the Bunderwehr - comics, wrestling and Playboy Late Night on cable tv. And let's not forget Tutti Frutti every Sunday before the week started. But like I said I think I already told that story. To me this incarnation of the League was the most human because you did see the big fight but you also saw how the leaguers had to clean up afterwards and repair the embassy. Now most people call it the BWAH - HA - HA - League and totally forget that they had some really devastating fights that took quite a toll on the league. Power Girl was beaten into a coma by the Extremists and although it was only a robot duplicate Despero killed Mr. Miracle. The issue with Mr. Miracle's funeral is one of the best written comics I ever read and still brings a tear to my eye.

    I think what really appealed to me apart from the great humor and the brilliant art of Kevin Maguire were Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. Because that was the realistic part to me. If I was in the League I surely wouldn't be one of the idolized bigshot superstars. No, if you and me were in the League we would be the unpopular gophers who have to wipe the floors when everybody else is gone. The ones who are just there to bring the coffee and do monitor duty when the real heroes are on a mission.


    So I'm really glad DC is continuing this line even if I will have to wait for the softcovers. But it would be nice to have the issues in a more durable edition since my old issues are starting to loose pages.

    Well, it seems once again that's all we have time for today. Tomorrow in part three of the solicitations : more DC, more commentary and hopefully some Marvel.

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    Sunday, October 26, 2008

    Solicitations - the return

    After working on my KRABAT post for three days I'm taking a break this weekend for a well earned dosis of R & R. So to pass the time till my batteries are reloaded I'm watching the LEGION OF SUPERHEROES cartoon and going through my bookmarks.


    The last time my internet explorer crashed he put all my bookmarks in alphabetical order instead of the chronological order I had it so I have to find some way to bring some sense of order into the system. I'm checking all the download links to save them on my other blog so I have them when I need them getting rid of as many bookmarks on the laptop as possible. Soon I will have to get back to Germany and who knows how much time I willl have ( if any at all ) for writing this blog.

    As I said I'm watching the LEGION cartoon but I thought to pass the time while the episoeds are loading I could do one of my old SOLICITATION posts. Normally I just offer my personal thoughts on the new releases from a well informed perspective.


    But since I have gone to Spain I'm out of the loop for most of the series in great part because I can't read the comics that my brother has on his pull list. Of course I don't have access to the comics on my own pull list which makes matter even worse. The only comic books I'm halfway still informed about are the comics that I ordered from Germany - but that is the topic for it's own post. Suffice it to say that the reason why I'm having the comics shipped from Germany is that I still haven't found a decent online comic store in Spain that has a good repertoir of american comics.

    That may be because they have enough business with the american comics that are translated to spanish or that there are not enough people interested in the original version - or I'm just too stupid to find a good store. Another reason to order the comics from Germany is that at the moment I only have access to the money in my german bank account which means that it's pretty easy to pay a company in Germany but almost impossible to pay a comic shop in Spain. But like I said that's not what this post is about.

    The next episode of LEGION OF SUPER HEROES has almost finished loading so let's get right to the solicitations. I hope this edition is as interesting as the last ones or even more since I have to guess what happened while I was away. Like usual I'll start with the DC part :

    BATMAN 685


    At the moment the only Battitle I'm reading is ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN and not only because it pisses off so many readers. Well, being in Spain I'm not really reading it right now but you know what I mean. And at the pace the issues are coming out I can be sure that it won't finish before I come back. I read a few issues of the new R.I.P. storyline but the idea to get rid of Bruce Wayne as Batman sounds absurd to me. Bruce Wayne is Batman - the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be. Anyone else will be just a guy in Batman's costume.

    Beautiful Alex Ross cover by the way but I don't know. Am I the only one who thinks this is the worst Catwoman costume in a long time ? Compared to that I really prefer the costume of the Halle Berry movie ( with Halle Berry in it ) .


    You can say a lot about the quality of the movie but at least they understood what a character like CATWOMAN is all about. Now at least they put a zipper on the costume so there are some possibilities......but still.

    BATMAN - GOTHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT 9


    It's just soo god to have Kelley Jones back on the batfranchise. As unbelievable as it sounds but back when he was on the regular Batbook most people in Germany didn't like it. We all believe that comic readers are an openminded bunch but sometimes they have their strict rules how comics should look. Now being a fan of his work on the DEADMAN minis and the ELSEWHERE Batman vampire stories I was all stoked up when Kelley Jones came to the Batman book. For me there have always been more than one aspects to the character of Batman and an artist like Jones just fits the horror aspects of the book like a glove. Because make no mistake about it, yes, it's also a superhero book and a detective story but it has clear horror aspects.

    The story of a boy whose parents are killed before his eyes and who dresses like a giant bat to strike fear into the hearts of evildoers - sounds like a typical horror story to me. Add monsters like the Scarecrow, Joker, Killer Croc, Two Face and other insane psychos to the mix and it's hard to covince anybody that this is NOT a horror book. So for me artists like Kelley Jones or Norm Breyfogle who put their own expressionistic spin on the title are two of the best Batartists.


    So far I have only read the second issue but judging from the art Mr. Jones is back. The only story where his art seemed kind of weird and wonky was HAUNTED GOTHAM but this here looks promising. Just a scary story full of dark alleys, ugly monsters, dark chambers and stinky sewers - did I mention that sewers are cool ? It's frightening, it's dark and there are monster alligators and whatnots living down there. I hope there are some sewer scenes in the book. Now Issues 1 and 3 to 5 were in the order that arrived this week but so far I haven't gotten the chance to read them. Maybe I'll do it in one sitting on Halloween.

    BATMAN - THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD 1


    At first I was shocked how the new comic of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD looks like but after reading that it's based on a new tv cartoon show I was relieved. So it seems that all my posts about how awesome Jim Aparo was on the title have finally paid of. Seems my constant praise has reminded some people how much potential lies in the stories and they have turned it into a tv series.

    And we really need more super hero cartoon shows like JUSTICE LEAGUE or LEGION OF SUPER HEROES. Since kids don't read comics anymore they have to learn about the improtant stuff like super heroes from somewhere. Okay, there is stuff out there I wouldn't let my kid watch like the new THE BATMAN cartoon but there are a lot of shows out there that capture the coolness of super heroes. And from what I have seen so far LEGION OF SUPER HEROES is pretty cool. So maybe they can achieve a part of the awesomeness of JUSTICE LEAGUE. The team up episodes were always the best and there is no better character for others to bounce of than Batman. As long as they stay true to the character. But I will wait with my judgement till I have seen an episode - or read an issue.

    BLACK LIGHTNING - YEAR ONE 1



    So another YEAR ONE series. I've got nothing against these kind of stories as long as they show new aspects of a hero's formative years or at least show them in a different light. As long as they don't feel they have to f - up the existing continuity to please the egos of an artist like BATGIRL : YEAR ONE that's fine by me. Yes, I'm still bitching about it and as a customer who paid full price for it that's my right. If, for instance, DC comics would have send me a free review copy ( which they didn't ) or if I had found it at some con for half price ( which didn't happen ) it might have been different. But I paid full price for it and I was reamed like a cheap five dollar rhymes - with - snore. So I'm gonna bitch and I'm gonna moan and I'm going to whine and cry as long as I want. And as often as I want. Because as long as I have to pay for everything myself I'm not doing anybody any favors and sugarcoat it. If I think it's crap I'm gonna say it.

    Not much to say about Black Lightning apart from the fact that Will Smith totally swiped his costume.


    At least HANCOCK had different powers than Black Lightning. That way they can still make a Black Lightning movie. You know what Hollywood should do ? They should let Quentin Tarantino do Black Lightning but as a total 70s blacksploitation movie. With Beyonce in the title role doing a Cleopatra Jones kind of character but with the huge afro and all. That would totally rock.


    BLUE BEETLE 35

    When the series was first announced I hated the whole idea of a new Blue Beetle but this book has grown on me. Since it's on my brother's pull list I have no idea what they are currently up to but maybe I'll read a few issues on the internet once I have more free space on the laptop. But it looks to me that Blue Beetle has either found some new friends or this is the beginning of the BLUE BEETLE CORPS WAR storyline.


    You know all the stuff Joe Quesada was trying to achieve with BRAND NEW DAY but failed miserably - they pulled it off with BLUE BEETLE. After INVINCIBLE this is the new Spider - Man for future generations. The idea of the new hero who has to learn the ropes is not exactly new but while there are characters who totally blow in this departement like Kyle Rayner this new Blue Beetle is totally awesome. If you are not reading this book you should definitely give it a try.

    By the way, I still think the death of Blue Beetle was unnecessary just to pass the mantle to a new guy. Whatever happened to old superheroes just retiring ? In the past it somehow became standard to rather kill a character than let him hang up the cape and lead a normal life. Seems the new rule is : when in doubt - KILL ! I can't say this new politic really appeals to me since so many characters that had a lot of potential like THUNDERSTRIKE had to go before their time. Just because some writer couldn't think of something better than killing them.

    FACES OF EVIL - DEATHSTROKE


    Since I was speaking about origin years aerlier the one DC character who's in desperate need for an overhaul is Deathstroke. I always cringe when comic character's origin is based ob facts that our current science has proven to be untrue. Normally comic companies go total overkill and even make twelve issue mini series to explain why one comic character had a different belt buckle from ome issue to the next. But when it's desperately neeeded they don't even bother.


    You remember those DIANETIK ads back when scientology was something virtually nobody knew anything about and L. Ron Hubbard was this harmless science fiction guy ? Well, back then their slogan was : did you know that you're only using ten percent of your brain ? Back then that was what science believed and then somebody came up with the idea of Deathstroke who can use one hundred percent of his brain. Was a good idea. The only problem is that we now know that we don't use ten percent of our brain. We use one hundred percent but - not at the same time.


    Science has discovered that certain areas of the brain have certain functions and we don't need to use them all all the time. It's like driving with your car. You don't have the light on AND the wipers AND the heating AND the windshield cleaner. Nobody can drive that way. And no brain can work this way. What's even worse is that science also has discovered that the brain needs to rest and that somebody who could use one hundred percent off the brain ( even if that meant running, jumping, kicking, hopping, rolling, sleeping, singing, swimming, dancing and doing all other motor functions at once ) would inevitably go insane.


    Still DC never felt the need to adress this in any comic. Another thing that totally destroys Deathstroke's credibility as a character are such scenes like in IDENTITY CRISIS when he outmanouvers someone like Flash. I mean Flash moves with the speed of light and beyond. To him we all move in ultraslow motion. It's impossible that somebody that fast would be outsmarted and impaled by someone and then impaled. With the speed the Flash moves the molecules of the sword would be somewhere between gas and liquid meaning the sword would just sprinkle down his costume.


    Man, Mike Zeck sure did some sweet covers for the Deathstroke series. Makes me wish he did more comic work...he's still got it.

    And that's all I've got time for today. I'm just finishing the actual download and then I'm turning the computer off. I would love to watch the second part of the suneater episode of Legion of Super Heroes but in a few minutes GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK starts on the german television network and I haven't seen the movie yet. So as always we will be back to the rest of the DC solicitations tomorrow.


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    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    Krabat - hardcore Harry Potter

    Today my new comics from Germany have finally arrived so I should be writing about that or make a new solicitations post. I should be reading comics or download all the new solicitation images or whatnot.


    But that's not what I'm doing. No, what I'm doing is sitting at my laptop writing a post about the awesomeness that is KRABAT.

    Yesterday I was on the internet looking what they are actually showing at the local cinema - which means in the next big city that goes by the name of Altafulla. Well, while I was doing that it ocurred to me that the movie I really wanted to see right now is KRABAT.


    But since I can't get back to Germany before the end of next month I can only hope that they still show it in December. Now here is the teaser trailer for the movie. I'm not going to post any longer trailers from the movie because it shows you enough and I don't want to know too much about the movie before I see the film.



    The reason why I decided to write something about Krabat is that it's pretty well known in Germany, Serbia and Russia and that many pupils have to read it for school but I think most of my readers in the United States or outside of Germany never heard of it.


    The first thing I ever saw of Krabat was the animated movie done in 1977 by Karel Zeman. If you have ever heard of it then probably under the title " The sorcerer's apprentice ".

    Krabat - the sorcerer's apprentice


    I remember that I was still very young when I saw the stop motion animated movie KRABAT and it totally creeped me out. It was so creepy that I had troubles sleeping for months and indeed you can say that the images haunt me to this day - such an impact did the movie have. Even if it's a movie aimed at kids there are some gruesome deaths, gory mutilations and other scary scenes in it. I don't know how it ever passed the censorship of german television of the 70s but somehow it did. And I'm glad because it's one of the best animated movies I have seen in my whole life.

    Even if the animation is a bit crude by today's standards it is amazing which wonderful effects they achieve in the film. The director of the movie Karel Zeman ( born 3th November 1910 in Ostroměř; died 5. April 1989 in Prague ) was one of the founders of the chezck animation movie and one of it's greatest innovators. He combined real movie sequences with animated sequences.


    In Krabat there are many things like fire, smoke or snow falling within the animated sequences which gives it such a realistic feeling. I saw it again two years ago and it's astounding how modern the movie looks and how scary it still is.

    Here are seven minutes from " Krabat - the sorcerer's apprentice " that include the beginning and the end. So if you don't want to be spoilered you better stop it at 5:02.



    If you want to see the full version here's a clip from the original movie. Just click on it and you can watch all the parts on YouTube. The quality is not as good as in the clip above and it's not dubbed - sorry for that.



    Now what's the movie about ? It is based on Ottfried Preussler's children book KRABAT ( published as THE SATANIC MILL in english ) an interpretation of the wendish tale ( sorry, the wiki page is only available in german ) that dates back to the 17th century.


    The movie tells the story of Krabat , a fourteen-year-old Wendish (i.e. Sorbian) beggar boy living in the eastern part of Saxony who is wandering through the region of Lusatia ( Lausitz in german ) during the Great Northern War ( Grosser Nordischer Krieg ) at the turn of the 18th century.


    He tries to get by as good as he can but because of the war food is scarce and he has to sleep outside. Traveling with three companions and begging while singing christmas carols they get some food but the winter is harsh and they soon part company.


    For three consecutive nights, a raven appears in his dreams and tells him to listen to his master's voice and seek out the black mill near the village of Schwarzkollm ( even if all the people he meets on the way try to discourage him from going to the mill ) where he becomes apprenticed to the master.

    At first Krabat lives a good life at the mill and although he is working hard he has food on the table and a place to eat. But he soon discovers that strange things happen and that the mill is actually a school for black magic and that he and the mill's journeymen are virtual prisoners. During the week they do the normal work of the mill, but on Friday nights, the master initiates them into the strange rituals of the Art of Arts. The very first Friday, the master turns Krabat into a raven, a trick the boy quickly learns to do himself.


    The senior apprentice Tonda, Krabat's best friend and older brother figure, dies, ostensibly of an accident, on New Year's Eve in Krabat's first year at the mill. Tonda offers strangely little resistance to his own death. Krabat's suspicions of foul play are further reinforced when another journeyman and friend, Michal, dies the following New Year's Eve. He soon realizes that the master is bound in a pact : the master must sacrifice one journeyman every year on New Year's Eve, in exchange for his powers. So evey year on New Year's Eve the master and the senior apprentice go at it in real mortal combat style in a magic " free for all no - disqualification deathmatch " .


    These are some of the most horrifying scenes of the movie with strobe light effects, scary music and an overall frightening mood.

    When Krabat first arrived at the mill it had stopped and when he agreed to become the new apprentice it the river started to flow and the mill continued to grind. At the end of the year with the death of the senior apprentice it stopped again until a new apprentice joined their ranks. The whole scene in the movie is tainted in red and it looks like the river turns into a river of blood.


    In the movie that is the circle of life and death and although Krabat hopes that they will not find another fool he knows that the mill doesn't work till that happens. And because of the war there are enough starving beggars out there who are willing to make a deal with the devil.

    The master never gets mentioned by name and is more badass than Darth Vader. Besides the normal tasks the apprentices have to do to keep the mill working the master sends them on secret missions where they have to use their magic to trick people and basically rob them of their money and their valuables.


    On one side the master uses this as another revenue stream on the other hand he secretly sabotages the missions to take the senior apprentices out of comission - or at least to injur them so bad that his victory on the upcoming New Year's battle is assured.

    Wishing to take revenge for his friends' death, Krabat secretly trains to increase his magical strength so he can fight the master. Whenever he can he breaks into the master's chamber and practices the spells of his big book of magic the KORRAKTOR. His quest is aided by a girl from the nearby village, a church singer, whose real name is never mentioned and who is only called Kantora.


    I think because Krabat meets her on Easter and is entranched by her beautiful singing her name is derived from the word Kantor in english cantor that is the name for the chief singer of a church choir. Krabat learns that to end the spell, his lover must challenge the master for him; then whoever loses the challenge, the master or the two lovers, will die. I'm not going to say more because maybe you want to watch the movie and there should be some surprises. Suffice it to say that KRABAT is one of the best movies I have ever seen.

    Hardcore Harry Potter

    It's all pretty heavy for a kid's movie because aside from the horrific main story it also shows the horrors of war but since it's one of the best known tales in Germany nobody thought twice about it. The whole movie is like hardcore Harry Potter in fact it predates it by twenty years.

    But while the Potter books treat magic and evil as something trivial that can be toyed with impunity it is by far more dangerous in the movie as Krabat learns to use extraordinary power at the price of enslaving his being to the evil miller. The Potter kids find they can defeat the most horrifying evils with a few magic tricks and a little cleverness and courage. Evil deserves more respect than that, because it is far more dangerous and powerful, working primarily through corruption of the will. The movie depicts this process with the miller breaking the wills of his apprentices through pointless work. Eventually, the men are so dominated that they acquiece in their own deaths, literally digging their own graves.


    Another difference between Harry Potter and Krabat is that Krabat lives in a much harsher world. Yes, Harry's an orphan and an outsider and Voldemort is out to get him - buhuhu. Cry me a reiver, why don't cha. Krabat would give his right arm to live in a nice house like the Dursley's even if he had just a small chamber. He has to sleep outside in winter. And he has to beg for food. Yes, in Harry's world a war is on the horizon. But Krabat lives in real war. He doesn't visit a nice school like Hogwarts and has to work at a mill till exhaustion. Besides that he knows that his days are numbered because it's only a matter of time till the year when he is the senior apprentice and has to battle the master in a duel to the death. He has to learn magic to survive because the death of one of the two in inevitable.

    So, yes, Harry had it easy.

    Naturally there are also wonderful landscapes in the movie and quiet scenes like when Krabat spends time with the Kantora or his companions. It's just one of the masterpieces of animation art.


    Being based on the book of Ottfried Preussler it is full of christian symbolism and events like New Year's Eve and Easter play a big role but the movie is far from being preachy. It has some nice lessons about good and evil and naturally love conquers all but you never get the impression that somebody is trying to impose his values on the viewer.

    Of course when I got older I realized that there had to be a book that this was based on so I sought it out at the local library. And the book that was written by Ottfried Preussler was the second book about Krabat I read.

    Krabat - the transformation of the world


    When I finally read the book KRABAT I was very surprised because I didn't pick the normal version that the movie was based on but a book written by Jurij Brezan called KRABAT - THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD. Well, at least I think it was.

    Jurij Brezan ( jurij english wiki / jurij german wiki ) - born on the 9th of June 1916 died on the 12th of March 2006 - was the greatest sorbian writer, writing in sorbian and in german and he wrote three books about Krabat : Krabat - the black mill ( 1968 ), Krabat - the transformation of the world ( 1967 ) and finally Krabat - the preservation of the world ( 1993 ). His books have been translated in 25 languages. I'm not entirely sure which of the two last I read but judging from the dates at which the books were written it must have been Krabat - the transformation of the world. I remember that the story was much broader in scope and Krabat takes on the role of a Dr. Strange type white magician who battles against the evil miller in a battle that literally takes them through centuries. There is much more magic and mythology involved ( things like the winter solstice play a great role ) and the end battle is like out of THE LORD OF THE RING.




    The new movie about Krabat is based on the first one : KRABAT - THE BLACK MILL. It is much more traditional following the same story as the book by Ottfried Preussler.

    If you only know the book by Ottfried Preussler or if you don't know any of the books you should read Jurij Brezan's adaptations. I only read one but it was one of the best fantasy books I have read. And of course you have to pick up the original book.

    the satanic mill get the book through amazon.com



    krabat or the preservation of the world from Jurij Brezan amazon.de ( currently not available )

    Krabat in other media


    Besides from the movies and the books KRABAT is a big part of german culture and many schools perform it on stage. There is even a german hardrock band called ASP ( german wiki / english wiki ) that has many songs about Krabat.











    Now here are more links about the new Krabat movie. Since I haven't seen it I can't say too much about it but judging from the set pictures it looks promising :


    review of the new movie ..... at imdb

    krabat movie homepage

    krabat blog

    I think with that I have covered everything there is to say about Krabat and I can finally finish this post after three days.

    New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN :

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