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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Other Bits - My Korea Trip

The following are snippets of my recent trip to Seoul, Korea. They have been grouped by their respective locations. Enjoy...

The Seoul Animation Center

The Korea House

Namdaemun (Great South Gate)
Kinda like our very own Chinatown where hawkers and stalls are strewn on either side of the streets.
And...some stuff that we won't see in our Chinatown. I believe they're marinated bugs.
Now, this I can do with more... =)

Shinsegae - Korea's very own Premier Shopping experience. Think of it as their version of Pavillion

Trinity - one of Shinsegae's exclusive brands.

Cheonggye-Cheon (Cheonggye Stream)
Located in the heart of Seoul, the 8.4km stream cuts across the city from west to east. It looks equally stunning in the day as in the night. Excellent for photos.

The iconic Dancing Fountain on Banpo Bridge (along the Han River)
The Myeong Dong Theatre in the heart of..., where else, but Myeong Dong?

Seoul National Museum
You could literally spend the entire day here as there are 4 floors of artifacts and on each floor, there are 2 wings. Each wing has 4 sections and runs for about 750 m each wing.

Deoksugung Palace

The National War Museum (at Yongsan)
It has many of the war vehicles & planes on display. A great place to visit as seeing the real tanks & planes is a totally different experience from what you see from pictures. The sheer size and magnificence can't be well represented unless you see them with your own eyes.

This is one of literally dozens of plaques that record the names of those who had died fighting the wars in Korea.

Samziegil - cultural/handicraft/shopping centre in Insadong.
On one of the balconies, you can see these cute critters grazing...

National Museum

National Folk Museum of Korea (located in Gyeongbokgung Palace)
The exit at Anguk Station of Line 3 is the best & closest location to the Folk Museum.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Comic Review - Avengers 41- 45

(Kang Dynasty Review - part1)
Avengers Vol 3. 41-45
Publish Date/Year
Creative Team
Story: Kurt Busiek
Alan Davis (#41-43)
Manuel Garcia (#44-47)

Wonder Man decides to head out west to help with his foundation's fund raising (and get him some publicity of course), but Wanda decides to stay with the Avengers in NY. Warbird, Triathlon, Goliath, Iron Man, Wasp, and Vision are called in to confront a rampaging Scarlet Centurion (Kang's Son). After a significant effort, the Avengers take him down only to realize that Kang is the mastermind and quickly demonstrates that he is serious. However, Kang isn't here to fight, but rather to offer his services to help against an imminent danger. (He's from the future, remember?)

Meanwhile, Cap, Thor, Firebird, Quicksilver, and the Black Knight investigate an emergency in Siberia.

Kang warns Earth of its upcoming doom and also provides a glimpse into various possible futures - all of which are bleak. However, he proposes that if he is given control of the planet, he can adequately protect Earth from all of these threats. He also issues a notice to all those who would rise up in his favor that they would be well rewarded in his new regime. Of course, Attuma (from Atlantis) and his forces, as well as the Deviants (the hidden & deformed Eternals), are quick to launch attacks in the name of Kang.

Meanwhile, Cap's Team of Avengers continue to investigate the radiation disaster in Siberia.

The Russian superpower calling himself The Presence (whom I last saw in Incredible Hulk & Defenders) has decided to turn the Russian people into radioactive zombies in an attempt to rebuild his defeated Motherland. The Avengers are divided on many fronts: battling the irradiated Winter Guard, Attuma and his Atlantean forces, and the invading Deviant forces.
Meanwhile, Kang and the Scarlet Centurion watch from orbit and continue to orchestrate these attacks.

The Avengers successfully defend the planet from the attacks by Deviant and Atlantean forces. Warbird challenges the local Deviant leader to a duel for leadership and defeats his champion to become their new leader. Meanwhile in Siberia, Thor and Firebird stand alone against the army of irradiated beings controlled by the Presence. Thor takes the battle directly to the Presence
and defeats him by using his hammer Mjolnir to absorb the radiation.

Kang prepares to launch his initial strike against the world. The U.S. military warns the Avengers that if they can't stop Kang, they'll be forced to send in an army of Sentinels (X-Fans would know them as giant Mutant Killing robots). Meanwhile, the Vision decides to go undercover and infiltrate the Triune Understanding. Firebird convinces Thor to remain on the team as their recent battle has forced him to confront the mortality of his team-mates. The Master of the World (from Alpha Flight) shows up as an unusual ally and fortifies the major cities of the world to protect them from Kang.
As far as I am concerned, Alan Davis can do no wrong. I will lap up ANYTHING he produces with glee! A master of his craft, his art is, in a word - PERFECT! Totally suitable for a title like Avengers!

Manuel Garcia, however, is a competent artist. He does remind me a little of the Kubert Brothers, Andy & Adam. However, his work is still unpolished and inconsistent. His work looks good in some panels and on the same page, you can find some panels which are - distracting, for lack of a better word. In truth, I stopped buying the title the moment Alan Davis left. Which explains why it took me so many years before catching up on this story.

This is one of the BEST Avengers EPICs as brilliantly told by Busiek. Busiek fans also know that he can do no wrong, especially with team books like the Avengers. He manages to keep the team interaction balanced while the exciting elements are constantly being amped up.

It's a real treat to see so many characters appearing, including the likes of the Master, Deviants, the Presence, etc. The only downside is that the story is 15-issues long (#41-55)!!! As to be expected, if a story takes 15 issues to tell, readers cannot expect to see only a single artist. Hence, we would see over 5 artists in the story arc. This can put off some readers like me who are staunchly loyal to certain artists only.

Still, I truly recommend reading this story as I had said earlier, this, along with the Korvac Saga, Kree-Skrull War, Avengers/Thanos/Adam Warlock Saga, are the very few EPIC story-lines that HAVE to be read!