Archive for May, 2011


Thor: The Deleted Scenes

May 10th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

I had seen the movie Thor recently and I enjoyed the hell out of it (Iron Man > Thor > Incredible Hulk > Iron Man 2). For longtime readers of this site, you usually know what that leads to. Ever since Spider-Man 3, I’ve had a tendency to pick up the novelizations of Marvel movie properties before the movies come out. When I see the movie, I then go home and write up all the stuff that was in the book, yet never made the on-screen transition. These always lead to interesting differences between early versions of the draft and later ones. Like how Iron Man 2 was going to be a total piece of shit rather than just being simply the lowest rung of the Avengers Saga movies.

Here’s the problem, though. The Thor and Captain America movies don’t have novelizations and won’t be getting any. Oh, sure, there’s the junior novel, but those things are always too cleaned up and they overly abridge chunks of the story. I guess I’ll just have to kiss my bread and butter goodbye.

But then, I figured, what’s stopping me? Sure, I haven’t read the original script for Thor. Sure, I don’t know how earlier drafts of the story went. But YOU don’t know that!

…shit, wait. You do. Pretend those above three paragraphs never happened. I want to tell you about all the scenes from Thor that never came to be. The ones that were left on the cutting room floor, for better or for worse. Let’s go.

– In the opening scene, when Jane and friends are driving through the desert, they briefly spurn a hitchhiker and drive past him. Bruce Banner puts his hands back into his pockets and continues down the road, accompanied by sad piano music.

– The real reason those frost giants snuck into Asgard isn’t because of any magic or trickery, but because Heimdall was too distracted from doing that thing where you point your index fingers at each other and cross your eyes and see a little floating hotdog finger in-between.

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Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers): “Toad style is immensely strong, and immune to nearly any weapon.”

May 10th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

The Damon Albarn Appreciation Society is an ongoing series of observations, conversations, and thoughts about music. Here’s the sixth. Chris Sims wanted me to write about Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang in fifteen minutes. With the exception of the quoted bit from my tumblr (which was relevant, and which I still like), I kept to the rules. I started with “Bring Da Ruckus” because it seemed appropriate. As I finished, “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber” was winding down and “Can It All Be So Simple” was spinning up. Maybe this was 16 minutes or so? Who knows/cares, I was in the middle of a thought I wanted to finish.

Minutes from previous meetings of the Society: The Beatles – “Eleanor Rigby”, Tupac – Makaveli, Blur – 13 (with Graeme McMillan), Blur – Think Tank (with Graeme McMillan), Black Thought x Rakim: “Hip-Hop, you the love of my life”

So when the Wu were chanting “Tiger Style!” on “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nothin To Fuck With,” it wasn’t just because it sounds good when you growl it. It’s because tigers were the top dog of all animals. Tiger Style, from what I’ve read, is all about offense and ending battles quickly, rather than evasion and misdirection. It’s direct, to the point, and deadly.

So “Tiger Style!” becomes a war chant and a warning. “The kings are here, everyone else fall back or catch a bad one.”

I love 36 Chambers.

It’s rough, and I think everyone that loves it recognizes that fact. Method Man hadn’t quite grown into his role as the Wu’s chief crossover king. Ghostface was just a regular rapper, with barely a hint of the style that made Supreme Clientele top 5. Rae wasn’t a kingpin yet, and RZA was just a voice, not a guru. GZA and Deck are more or less fully-formed here, with some incredible verses that stick to your ribs. U-God and Masta Killa are okay, but Ol Dirty Bastard was already settled into his role. It’s a matter of picking where to start.

Start with the first three tracks. “Bring Da Ruckus” starts off the album and sets the tone. “Ghostface! Catch the blast of a hype verse!” The next joint, “Shame on a Nigga,” begins, “Ol’ Dirty bastard, live and uncut/ Style’s unbreakable, shatterproof.” GZA on “Clan in da Front”: “The Wu is comin’ thru, the outcome is critical/ Fuckin’ wit my style, is sort of like a Miracle.”

This is what the Wu is: personality and skill. “This is me, and I’m about to rock you.” Rap is intensely personality driven, but the Wu managed to stand out even amongst their larger than life competition. Meth was playful and prone to smoking wet blunts. GZA is the scientist. ODB is wild, self-sabotage as lifestyle choice. RZA is the planner. Rae is Scarface, while Ghost is his abstract partner in crime. Every member has a role, and they all play it to the hilt.

All of that together is alchemical. The Wu is greater than the sum of its parts, and there’s still something magical about every time they get together. You want it to feel like this raw, poorly mastered release that got your blood pumping back in the day. This is Timberlands and camo jackets rap, almost actively anti-radio in sound and with a weird aesthetic. Kung fu movies? Where’d that come from?

But 36 Chambers, in spite of, or because of, its warts, is incredibly listenable. Every single song hits, and the album builds in emotional breaks between that raw rap. “Can It All Be So Simple” comes right after “7th Chamber,” and “TEARZ” comes right off the high-energy “Protect Ya Neck.” These are pauses for breath, something you have to do after chanting “WU! WU! WU! WU!” It brings you back down to earth, CNN of the streets style, and then you get built right back up.

“Da Mystery of Chessboxin” coming after “Can It Be” is incredible, because it’s just raw lyricism on display. The opening skit is pointed yet again, and sets up Toad Style as the style on display in the song. And everyone goes all the way in. U-God drops his first classic verse with his trademark growl (“Raw like cocaine straight from Bolivia” is hard body), Deck is typically clever, and while Rae isn’t using that juggernaut flow he perfected later, this shout-to-my-dawgs style is still compelling. And then Dirty comes in and crushes the building, coloring outside the lines and elevating the whole affair. Tony Starks brings some ultraviolence, and then Masta Killa’s first bar is insane.

The whole album–you can pull any song apart and look at its guts and be even more impressed. It sounds dirty and dusty, like some cats just got together with an old MPC and a rickety record player and put together an LP, but when you really listen to this album? When you look at the scaffolding that’s hidden behind the poorly mixed vocals, poorly acted skits (“fuck you mean is he fuckin dead”), random censoring, and scratchy kung fu samples?

It’s nigh-flawless. This whole thing, all 36 Chambers, they were constructed. It’s amazingly well put together.

The Wu’s a huge influence on my writing.

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Fourcast! 84: Just Leave Gotham Underground

May 9th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

-We’re bringing back You Made Me Read This! for some springtime fun
-I made Esther read Kou Yaginuma’s Twin Spica.
-Esther made me read Frank Tieri and Jim Calafiore’s Gotham Underground.
-It, uh, goes about how you’d expect.
Twin Spica? Good old fashioned fun.
Gotham Underground? I bet the parents of everyone involved in that series is ashamed of their children.
-I talked about Gotham Underground on this site in the past, but I’d forgotten about it.
Twin Spica was one of my favorites of 2010.
-We’re doing another one of these soon, I think.
-If things keep escalating, this’ll be the death of our friendship!
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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This Week in Panels: Week 85

May 8th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Hey there, folks. Since it’s been a while since I’ve explained the concept of this weekly series, here’s the gist for new people: Every week, me, some readers and occasionally Mr. David Brothers put together a collection of panels from each comic that we’ve read collectively. The idea is to sum up the comic in one panel. If you were trying to sell someone on the issue while giving them an idea of what the comic is about without overly spoiling them, what would that panel be?

I have stuff from David, Was Taters and Space Jawa. Jawa also sent me an image from Free Comic Book Day, but I’m going to save all of those for next week.

Also, apologies for the lack of content from me in the past couple weeks. Been playing a lot of Mortal Kombat while catching up on the rest of season one of the Avengers cartoon off YouTube. There are like seven episodes aired in Australia that they held off on in America because there’s a lot of Asgard stuff going on and they wanted to save it for after the Thor movie was released.

You know what’s kind of fucked about that cartoon? Chemistro got to make his animated debut before Luke Cage and Iron Fist.

Annihilators #3
Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Tan Eng Huat

Annihilators #3 (backup)
Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Timothy Green II

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The Cipher 05/04/11: “A meeting in progress.”

May 4th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

(retooling this some.)


New rules for comic book movies! Watch people get mad at me for saying The Dark Knight is not perfect!

Five digital comics you should buy!

Dark Horse has a digital comics app and I take a look!

David Hine and Moritat make The Spirit good!


-Two things about Frank Miller’s work on Sin City: Family Values.

-This page is pretty nuts. A lot of what I read are mainstream comics, superhero or otherwise, which means that they’re colored, sometimes garishly (in both good and bad ways). Spotting blacks is something that feels pretty rare. I can’t remember the last time I looked at a page like, “Wow, look at all that black.”

-Miller’s pretty good at making black and white play well together, though, isn’t he? I love how he minimizes certain things (the barstools), suggests other things (Peggy’s legs), and then throws a bunch of detail onto the man’s pants and Peggy’s sweater. What’s really striking is how that big drop of black that’s Dwight’s chest really sets off his figure.

-I like the feathery fur on Peggy’s jacket, and the fuzz on Dwight’s coat. What material is that supposed to be? Like a light fur? Dwight’s really into his role. Shame about him sitting on his coat, though.

-There’s this piece Miller did of Miho for some magazine or another. It’s in The Art of Sin City, at any rate. It’s sparse, hardly any details but Miho’s face and pubic hair. It sounds perverted, but it really doesn’t come off like that way. It’s sexy, but not like… gross.

-I couldn’t find the image online. Found a whole bunch of other stuff, though. Here’s a slightly dirty Sergio Aragones Sin City illo, instead:

-Miho is probably my favorite character out of Sin City‘s cast. She’s sorta the height of Miller’s Elektric woman worshipping. She’s an invincible killing machine, stronger than everyone around her, and only subordinate to a man when she wants to be, which isn’t really submission at all, is it?

-Miller writes and draws her as a sort of ethereal, angelic figure. Her thoughts are closed to us, barring commentary from other characters, so we can only judge her actions.

-She’s entirely free of shadows in this tale. She’s the only pure character in the entire book. It’s an effective visual choice, because she either fades into the background, like a ghost, or really pops off the page.

-Miho spends all of her time in Family Values killing and maiming some thugs. It’s great.

-It’s great because Miller’s actually pretty good at action scenes. I like how casual this whole sequence is, how Miho’s just an efficient killing machine that catches everyone by surprise.

-The best bit, though, is that last page. Perfect picture of one moment in time, in that moment right before confusion turns into surprise.

-Has anyone ever looked at how Miller portrays people in mid-air? There’s this sublime bit in Elektra Lives Again where Matt Murdock just steps off a balcony and falls, before hitting a wire. Miller & Lynn Varley left the snow on the wire in place while the wire fell. There’s something about the way Miller shows people leaping and falling that’s different. I’d have to reread a whole lot more of his stuff specifically looking at that, though.

-Copped two new albums this week, both of which are actually old: Misnomer(S)’s American I(s) and Hard Nips second EP, I Shit U Not. One’s this sorta… punk-y thing, lots of heavy guitars. The other’s violin-inflected hip-hop.

-I really like the idea of violins and rap. There’s no real reason why one doesn’t belong with the other, and I’ve liked that mix since the intro on Hip Hop Respect (scroll down, hit listen). Misnomer(S) is two sisters, Knewdles and Sos. Knewdles kicks raps that feel sorta Native Tongues-y in terms of flow (I hear a lot of Queen Latifah in her voice, but she’s got De La’s playfulness) and Sos is the violinist half.

American I(s) is a pretty fun record, but that type of fun that flips between rapping about rapping to rapping about real life issues, like racism or broken relationships. I like the way it sounds, though I’ve only listened to it a couple of times thus far.

I Shit U Not… I like how this sounds. I don’t really know much about whatever microgenre this is probably supposed to be, but it’s good music to bike to. That mix of higher-pitched vocals and deep guitars (what’s the word for this type of guitar sound? somebody help me out) makes for an aural mix that’s new to me. The songs feel almost… abstracted, with the music and vocals playing basically the same role to my ears.

-Is that weird?

-I’m pleased with both albums, though. Hard Nips goes onto the workout mix, Misnomer(S) into boom-bap-rap.



David: Heroes for Hire 6
Esther: Yes: Superboy 7 Maybe: Secret Six 33
Gavin: Axe Cop Bad Guy Earth 3, Secret Six 33, Irredeemable 25, Avengers Academy 13, Deadpool Annual 1, Fear Itself 2, Herc 2, Heroes For Hire 6, Marvel Zombies Supreme 4, Ozma Of Oz 6, Uncanny X-Force 9

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What I Don’t Know About Comics Art Could Fill Oceans

May 2nd, 2011 Posted by david brothers

I thought this fight scene from Batman Incorporated 5 was pretty straight. Art by Yanick Paquette, inks by Michel Lacombe, colors by Nathan Fairbain, words by Grant Morrison, letters by Pat Brosseau:

It’s not really as elegant as some of the stuff Quitely did in his run on Batman & Robin (digital, trade), or as visceral as Cameron Stewart (digital, trade) got when Batman and Robin visited London. Taken as a series of discrete moments, it works, and it’s pretty easy to animate this in your head. I only have trouble on page 2, panel 5 leading into panel 6, but it’s clear more time passed between those panels than it did between, say, panel 2 into panel 3. I do like how those twin rocks in 2.3 serve as reference points for how the fight moves around in space. That’s a great idea.

The money panel is page 3, panel 5. It’s the only real moment of pain in the entire fight scene, I think. The other panels were very give-and-take, this sort of playfighting kinda thing. 3.5 is crucial, though. Paquette captured that moment in time perfectly, with a painful looking awkwardness in Scorpiana’s posture and surprise in the body language of El Gaucho and The Hood. Even the shock lines–what are they actually called?–are dead-on, and Scorpiana’s helmet coming off is the icing on the cake. While the fight isn’t all the way there for me, that bit? 3.5? It makes the scene for me. The only thing I would do is swap the “Ouch” for a balloon coming from Scorpiana that’s either empty, filled with squiggles, or a breath mark. I always liked how that looked, and it’d sell the interruption of the action even more.

Okay. Here’s the thing.

I’m not an artist. Well, not any more–I spent some time in high school putting together a portfolio so I could go to art school, but then I discovered I could write, blah blah blah who cares. I’ve got no training beyond binging on books and art theory online. I don’t know near enough about comics art.

Here’s the proof.

Over on his Twitter, Adam Warren posted a link to an old DeviantArt post about how he draws Empowered (digital, trade). This is the sort of thing I eat up, because it’s the real nuts and bolts of comics art. It’s behind the behind the scenes. I was really interested for the first few paragraphs, because it’s all about format and readability. This is basic, basic stuff, but it’s the building blocks of comics. “You have a blank page. What is your first step? How does that step affect your work?”

(I think about format a lot, both in other people’s work and my own. Especially my own; I struggle with the way I use images. Ask me how pleased I am with that (digital, trade) stuff up there. No, don’t, because the answer is “it sucks and is ugly but I don’t know how else to massage that data into the post, barring an even uglier list at the end of the post.”)

It’s the fourth paragraph that blew off the top of my skull, though. Here’s the relevant bit:

Note that there’s one more step I could take to make EMPOWERED even more readable… Namely, I could use “manga gutters” on its pages. In manga, the vertical gutters between panels are very thin and the horizontal gutters are VERY thick (usually in a 1:3 vertical: horizontal ratio), in order to ensure that the reader’s eyetrack stays on a particular (horizontal) tier of panels and doesn’t stray down to an out-of-sequence panel below.

Got any manga nearby? Pick it up, flip to a random page, and look at it. That’s what I did immediately, and since I live in a fire trap, I did it a couple more times, too. If you can, find one of those pages that has three panels that take up the top half of the page–two squat panels stacked on top of each other and one tall panel beside them. Or here, look at these images I pulled from Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira ages ago:

Do you see this? Isn’t it unbelievably obvious? It’s the kind of obvious that makes you feel dumb. I own a ton of manga. I almost don’t want to move because it probably weighs an actual ton, and I never noticed this. Look how huge those horizontal gutters are. The panels are swimming. It’s such a little thing, the sort of thing you’d never spot unless you were looking for it (or good at your job), and it means so much.

It got me thinking. I grabbed Barbucci and Canepa’s Skydoll: Spaceship, a collection of short stories, and flipped through. It was a mix of manga gutters, regular gutters, and gutters that were irregularly applied. Some gutters were pencil thin, while others were super chunky. I opened up one of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat volumes (specifically Krazy and Ignatz 1916-1918). The gutters there weren’t as clearly defined as in more modern work, but still obvious. Some panels were boxed off, while others were separated by an inch or so of whitespace. Vertically, it looks packed, but horizontally, it had room to breathe.

This is part of why I like writing and reading about comics. There’s so much that goes into the page, and it’s easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. I used to have (maybe still do?) this slim Italian volume of Hirohiko Araki’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. My mom got it for me after she went overseas for a bit. This was forever ago–1997? 1998? I don’t remember, but it wasn’t the Jojo series that eventually made it over here. I couldn’t read it, so instead, I just looked at it, trying to discern the story just from the art. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time, but I remember liking it.

Now, I do the same thing, but on purpose. Reading a book in a language that you don’t understand can be really eye-opening sometimes. I own an armful of untranslated manga that I just pull out and look at sometimes. I want to know how things are put together and what makes them tick. Analyzing makes good things better and mediocre things worse, and I’m 100% okay with that. I’m thankful every time I learn something new. It turns out that the new thing this time was something that I’ve seen thousands of times before, but never recognized. I was too busy looking at what was in the panels, instead of what was between them.

I keep kicking around this idea of doing a comparison on how we read digital comics versus print (or standard) comics. It’s a very different experience, especially if you use a guided view. There’s a zoom in Dark Horse’s digital version of Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s Lone Wolf & Cub that cracked me up. It’s straight out of a ’70s-era kung fu movie, and so appropriate to the story it’s telling. I can’t replicate it, but here are the two relevant images. Imagine a sudden and jagged zoom from the first panel to the next. If your taste in movies is at all like mine, you’ll understand.

Here, fast forward to about 0:30 and pay attention to the camera. It’s the same effect.

That type of transition doesn’t, and cannot, happen in comics. It requires real motion, and it raises a lot of questions about where digital comics are going to go from here. Are they gonna be just simple transplants, or is someone gonna take advantage of this way of reading comics to the fullest extent? That transition is something new and entirely accidental. It was inconceivable when Koike and Kojima created that page, and I doubt Dark Horse went through and set up the zooms for dramatic effect. One day somebody ill is going to dig into digital comics and leave everybody else behind in the dust. Real, raw comics with next-level storytelling, no gimmicks.

As much as I’d love to explain why the different between digital and print is interesting, I don’t have the vocabulary for it yet. I’m not Frank Santoro. Not even close. I’m just a guy who reads and likes to talk about what he read. Sometimes my reach exceeds my grasp. Sometimes I miss things.

But it’s nice to think that I could one day learn enough to be on that level. There’s so much to learn. It’s exciting, like putting together a puzzle. There’s unlimited potential. Being better than some wack writer on another site isn’t enough. I need to be better than I am right now.

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Fourcast! 83: 30 Days In Review

May 2nd, 2011 Posted by david brothers

-It’s been a long time… shouldn’ta left you
-Without a Fourcast! to laugh through
-Y’all hear Osama Bin Laden is dead?
-As someone who is generally anti-death penalty, allow me to say… good riddance.
-No sympathy, no grief.
-Anyway, me and Esther missed a month or so!
-So, we’re gonna hook you up with a crash course in what you missed over the past 30 (or however many) days.
-We talk comics
-We talk about ideas and the evolution of language
-We talk about Obama and Donald Trump
-Speaking of Obama and that wack opportunist who is dogging his heels… these two clips are grrrreat!

-Obama came out with a bunch of hot knives, looking to make Trump’s soul burn slow.
-Meyers came with the ether, too, but Obama’s cut way deeper.
-Hurt feelings? Least he deserves.
-30 days, man. We’ve got a lot of talking to do.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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This Week in Panels: Week 84

May 2nd, 2011 Posted by Gavok

I’ll try to keep it short here. Long, long day for me and I’m pretty damn tired. Though I did catch the big WWE Extreme Rules PPV. After the show, newly-crowned champion John Cena addressed the crowd to tell them the news that Osama Bin Laden’s officially dead. All I can think of when seeing the footage is that scene from the Simpsons where it’s the last day of school and the kids are running out the building, celebrating summer. Then a teacher runs out with an open book in hand.

“Wait a minute! You didn’t learn how World War II ended!”




I’m helped out this time around by Was Taters and Space Jawa. Enjoy the naked Spider-Woman.

Avengers #12.1
Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch

Batman Incorporated #5
Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette

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