Bubblegum Crisis – Grand Mal Issue #1 – March 1994 (Dark Horse Comics)

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TITLE: Bubblegum Crisis – Grand Mal Issue #1

YEAR: March 1994

COMPANY: Dark Horse Comics

Story, Pencils, Inks and Cover Line Art: Adam Warren

Inks and Cover Cel Painting: Robert Dejesus

Cover Background Airbrush: Pat Duke

Colors: Joe Rosas

Lettering: Tomoko Saito

Editors: John Weeks, Edward Martin III

Book Design: Scott Tice

Back in 1987, an anime series titled “Bubblegum Crisis” was released as an Original Video Animation (OVA) produced by Youmex and animated by AIC and Artmic.  The series was a huge success and a spin-off known as “A.D. Police Files” came out in 1990.

The series was produced by  anime production company and record label Youmex and animated by Anime International Company, Inc (AIC) and Japanese animation design studio, Artmic (which consisted of character designer, Kenichi Sonoda, Shinji Aramaki and Kimitoshi Yamane).

The problem, both Youmex and Artmic held joint rights to the series and the popular OVA series which was supposed to last up to 13 episodes was canceled at eight episodes (1987-1991) because of the legal problems between both companies.  So, both “Bubblegum Crisis” and “A.D. Police Files” never reached completion despite being popular series.

While AIC would eventually release a retelling of the original OVA series with “Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040” in 1998 and an three-episode OVA series titled “Parasite Dolls” in 2003, the fact is that the popular series from the late ’80s and early ’90s could have been huge but nothing came out of it but “Bubblegum Crash” (1991), which ran for three OVA episodes until Youmex sued Artmic which once again prompted for a short series and also a noticeable difference in quality not just in animation but also music of the original.

While “Bubblegum Crisis” would have one-shots and shorts done in Japan, a full series never came out until Adam Warren and Dark Horse Comics worked with Youmex and Artmic to come up with an original concept titled “Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal”.  A limited edition four issue series.

The series sets up the earlier beginnings of how The Great Kanto Earthquake in 2025.

The region was rebuilt as MEGATOKYO thanks to the Genom Corporation who created robots with artificial lifeforms known as Boomers who would go on to rebuild for humanity.  A synthesis of mechatronics, biotechnology and artificial intelligence, the Boomers were seen as a true success to the region.

But there have been known cases of Boomers gaining sentience and going beyond what they were programmed to do and wreaking havoc.

To stop them are the Knight Sabers, a group that is run by Sylia Stingray.  Her father was the scientist who created the Boomers and was slain.  Sylia runs Silky Doll, a lingerie shop but she also controls substantial , financial and real estate holdings.

Behind-the-scenes of Silky Doll, she runs an operation along with her little brother, bright mechanic Mackie and joined by the temperamental rock singer Priscilla Asagiri, AD Police Communications Support Specialist Nene Romanova and fitness instructor Linna Yamazaki, the Knight Sabers are known to take on renegade Boomers.

The first issue allows people to jump into the comic book series without watching the original anime version.  Warren pays homage to the original by including bits and pieces such as Mackie singing Priss’ popular song “Konya wa Hurricane” from the first episode of the OVA series and also showing cameos of characters (or people who look like the characters) of Riding Bean and Yuri of “Dirty Pair”.  And yes, you have A.D. Police officers McNichol and Wong in this series as well.

Reading “Bubblegum Crisis – Grand Mal” again, I feel I appreciate this comic more today than how I did back then.  I was still not as accepting to US artists covering popular Japanese animation and adapting it for an American audience.  But in 1995, a friend named Stephen Tsai introduced me to his dojinshi comic “Kimagure Orange College” and it changed my perspective and I started to welcome it.

But this issue, being released in 1994, it just sat dormant in my comic book box since 1994 until reading it 23-years later.

The artwork is really well-done by both Warren and Robert Dejesus (that same year was interesting because I would play “Sailor Moon” on the 3DO against Robert in a hotel room filled with other video gamers at Anime America) and they definitely did a great job of covering a little history but making the storyline comprehensive and easy for one who hasn’t watched the anime series to jump aboard and enjoy.

If you find this four-issue comic book series, definitely give it a try!

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