Sunday, July 28, 2013

It Came from the Dollar Bin! Ninja High School #1!

You probably don't know this (because I haven't mentioned it much at all), but I'm into anime and manga as well as western comics and cartoons. Not quite as much, mind you, but it's an interest of mine.

Consequentially, I think "animesque" art styles in comics are pretty neat; I've been a fan of Adam Warren for a long time, and I love the artists of UDON and their comics.

There was a huge explosion of interest in manga and anime in the late 90s and early 00s, but there was a niche fandom for that kind of thing even back in the mid-late 80s, believe it or not; you may know about Adam Warren's Dirty Pair comics, but he actually did the first of those back in 1988!

If the name "Ben Dunn" rings a bell and you don't know him from this, you may remember him as the brain behind the short-lived Marvel Mangaverse (which, coincidentally, also involved both Adam Warren and UDON), and the artist on its main title.

As far as anime-style goes, the art here is pretty authentic for the time period we're talking about, though it is... iffy in spots. Still, THIS happens on page 3:

Ignoring how huge that guy's head has to be, that's pretty dope right there. So that's Itchy Koo, which has g ot to be some crazy nickname. She's the heir to some crazy ninja clan, and is to be sent away as a punishment for losing a battle. If you're wondering where, well, duh, to the USA, stupid. The small town of Quagmire, no doubt in whichever state Springfield of The Simpsons fame is in.

Anyway, in Quagmire she's to marry hapless nerd Jeremy Feeple, and moreover she has to get him to propose. I'm not going to lie to you and say I get it, but this is some challenge to teach her humility and prove her suitability to lead the clan. 

Elsewhere, Itchy Koo's secret admirer (and head of the Rival Ninja Clan, or RNC, Inc.) Rivalsan Lendo receives this news from a ninja spy in a tree costume. Lendo is based on Mendo from Urusei Yatsura, the rich, handsome romantic rival of the series lead, shiftless skirt-chaser Ataru. Also, around this time I realized I forget how to tell the difference between something ironic, something satirical, and something stupid.

And he mobilizes guys to kill Jeremy, because duh what else is there to do? Anyway, at Quagmire High, we're briefly introduced to another wacky cast member: loony bird mad scientist Prof. Steamhead. The scene then abruptly cuts to outer space (seems to me we could have seen more at Quagmire High, but oh well), where, uh, some alien skunk people are approaching Earth in a battleship.

Princess Asrial of the Salusian Empire is to marry some Earth dude as part of their plan to absorb Earth into their empire. Again, I'm not going to pretend that this makes a lot of sense to me. I don't know why I'm having so much trouble with this plot, since as I mentioned, I watch anime. Anyway, surprise surprise, it's Jeremy Feeple as well. The crew starts laughing uproariously at the loser their princess is to wed, and this is how she shuts them up:

So we've got a real Betty-and-Veronica thing on our hands, except they're both deadly and powerful. Anyway, Asrial undergoes a transformation procedure to look human, though she keeps her skunk ears even in this form. Also, she comes out naked and we totally see boobs, which I wasn't expecting -- though bare breasts weren't unusual in anime from the 70s to the late 80s. Anyway, she's sent to Earth in a cramped shuttle and the battleship warps back home.

Finally we see Jeremy in person during a gym class soccer game. Also present is his classmate, the titanic muscle man Arnie.

Yeah, that's timely, isn't it? To think it was so long ago that Schwarzenegger and Rambo were both cutting edge references. Jeremy is called into Principal Weasel's office (subtle), and is introduced to Itchy Koo, who feeds him a story about their fathers knowing each other and insists he be the one to give her the guided tour. Along the way, they run into Jeremy's obligatory, unnecessary gaggle of friends who have no relevance to the plot.

Hearing an explosion, the group goes outside and sees Asrial, whose ship just landed. Apparently it was supposed to evaporate into nothing on landing, but it just won't. Seeing Jeremy and hearing his name, she proposes to him immediately, and the conflict between her and Itchy Koo begins. Also, there's a decent gag where Arnie bursts through a window with some huge guns because he heard an explosion.

Anyway, Prof. Steamhead shows up to suggest a competition between the two would-be brides. Meanwhile, Jeremy's brother Ricky is at home chilling with their mom, and also she and Ricky are ninjas. It turns out Ricky was arranged to marry Itchy-Koo long before Jeremy came into the picture, but he's sworn not to tell Jeremy about it. Oh, and Itchy Koo is to live with the Feeples.

Elsewhere, Lendo has relocated to Quagmire and has his sights on Jeremy. Prof. Steamhead has found Asrial a place to stay, and reveals that he knows her alien origins and wants something her race possesses DUN DUN DUUUUN.

All in all, for a manga-style comic from 1988, it was way better than I'd expected. I might try to pick up collections later, maybe.

1 comment:

  1. This comic was also published here in Brazil in the early 1990s. I still have my copy, there´s something about it, it´s unforgettable :)