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Everyday Drabbles #693: Ancient Robot

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The shepherd grazed his flock on the steep hillside, among the ruins of an ancient palace. He heard a bleating cry from a sheep stuck in a crack in the earth near a massive, half-buried statue.
As he pulled her free, something glittering on the statue’s breastplate caught his eye. Was it a jewel reflecting the sun? He pulled, and the armor unfolded, revealing a strange room with a chair in the center, the walls glowing with ancient magic.
The flock scattered, leaving him with a choice. He could chase after them, but the pull of adventure was too strong.

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Hugh Likes Comics: We Ride Titans

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We Ride Titans #1
Written by Tres Dean
Drawn by Sebastian Piriz
Colored by Dee Cunniffe
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Published by Vault Comics

We Ride Titans #1

The Skinny:  Evangelion meets Dynasty.

Kit Hobbs doesn’t get along with her family. So when her brother has a breakdown and Kit is called back home, she’s upset. But as much as she hates her family, she’s still willing to step into his shoes to pilot the family giant robot and protect the city of New Hyperion from monster attacks.
We Ride Titans #1 is one of those comics that fits squarely into my wheelhouse. Queer angst and messy family drama set against giant robot vs. daikaiju action? Sign me up. So I had a feeling this book would be an easy sell for me. And while the first issue doesn’t do much more than limn the characters and the setting and set up their relationships, it’s still an appealing introduction to the story and the setting.
Dean’s writing and dialog are as sharp as a monster’s claws, as we get a contrast of Nexus Command’s outward presentation versus the mess they are struggling to keep in. Giant monsters are a fun metaphor for this sort of chaos, and Kit being completely unable to handle it is very human. Her shaky relationship with her partner Jen is also interesting, as we see her consistently trying to do right, but just not having the tools. And when Kit’s mom shows up to bring her back after her brother fails, we get a clean, crisp look at her world falling apart. These sorts of stories really only work when the story outside of the SF elements is compelling in its own right, but so far, We Ride Titans delivers.
Piriz and Cunniffe also deliver on the art. The backgrounds all have a very sharp, angular, and modern feel to them. Everything feels like it was just rebuilt on the cheap yesterday. We see lots of struts and exposed brick. The world doesn’t feel lived-in so much as hastily rebuilt. Cunniffe’s colors are warm but not pleasant, they’re muted and bruise-like. The book exudes a feeling of papered over trauma, shakily standing but ready to collapse or explode at any moment, just like the characters.
One detail I loved was a page of Kit driving through the desert. She passes a city in the middle of nowhere, and we see a battle being fought in the background. A robot being helicoptered in, a shot of two massive figures battling amid towers that must always be under construction. Kit just adjusts her mirror and keeps on driving through the night.
We Ride Titans #1 is the setup to something that I think is going to be something special. It is available now from Comixology and Your Local Comics Shop!

Hugh Likes Anime: MS Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

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Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Bandai/Sunrise
Streamed via Crunchy Roll

Gundam IBO.jpg
With science fiction credentials that date back just as far as “Star Wars,” the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise has gone through its ups and downs across every conceivable kind of media.  From anime and manga, to literally hundreds of games, to more toys and models than even the most hard-core collector could hope to assume.  These offerings have varied wildly in tone, from the shocking, gritty depictions of war in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, to the “Street Fighter”-Inspired G Gundam, to the downright kid-friendly SD Gundam.
As the 40th anniversary of the franchise approaches, Bandai’s latest offering, “Iron-Blooded Orphans,” may be the most shocking and adult iteration of the series to date.  Nearly all of the Gundam series’ protagonists are in their teens or early twenties, but IBO certainly goes the farthest with a harrowing depiction of the child soldiers.
Set on a terraformed and colonized Mars, the series takes place about three hundred years after a catastrophic war that depleted Earth’s resources.  When teenage heiress Kudelia Aina Bernstein begins calling for Martian independence, she becomes a target of Gjallarhorn, Earth’s theoretically independent peacekeeping force.  She turns to paramilitary army CGS, and their unit of indentured child soldiers for protection.  After reviving one of the long-lost Gundam Frames, the children stage an uprising and form their own company, agreeing to take Bernstein to Earth, the one place where her voice can produce results.  As they travel, she begins to really learn how desperate the lives of these ‘human debris’ children really are, and grows close to Gundam Barbatos’ laconic pilot, Mika.
While Gundam has not shied away from serious issues before, this is probably the most consistantly dark and serious entry in the series, but it does an excellent job, for the most part, in addressing the themes of the show.  The character and mech designs are well drawn, and the plot, for all its darkness, is engrossing.  Season one recently finished and can be found streaming on the Crunchy Roll streaming service.

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