Archive for February, 2013


Big Sean’s “Sellin’ Dreams”: Style & Substance

February 27th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

I like this Big Sean song “Sellin Dreams,” with a hook by Chris Brown. It’s about breaking up with your side girl so you can be faithful to your main girl, but I appreciate the wordplay, how Sean tells the story, than the subject of the story itself. At this point, this is my favorite joint on Big Sean’s Detroit, though maybe “I’m Gonna Be” with Jhene Aiko is a better song overall. The chorus on that one is stellar, but I like the wordplay in “Sellin Dreams” more.

“Sellin Dreams” starts off pretty wack, honestly. Hell’s paradise/pair of dice is a soft rhyme, like Maybach/laid back. No effort, right? But Sean manages to smoothly slide from punchlines to content:

Welcome to Hell’s paradise
I always heard life was a pair of dice
Seven, eleven, or a pair of eyes
As I’m looking at her smearing eyes
She yelling, “Take them glasses off
“Your eyes are the only thing that’s not lying”

pair of dice to snake eyes to crying eyes to hidden and lying eyes. That transition really works for me, and he doesn’t telegraph it at all.

One of the things I love the most about rap is how you can get away with things like this, hiding depth in simple punchlines. The style is the substance, right? The style builds up an image, and that image is what you pull apart to understand the song. He compares snake eyes, a losing throw, with crying eyes at the end of a relationship. It’s the kind of thing that isn’t immediately obvious, but you feel it in your gut.

He does a few other things I think are pretty clever. “Not caring to the point that I stopped lying” is pretty deep, if only because it suggests that his idea of caring is lying, right? What’s that say about their relationship? When my little brother played me this song, “I broke the levee to your eyes, that “I don’t give a damn” shit” was the killer line, the thing that caught my attention and made me sit up. Dam/damn isn’t worth much of nothing, but the addition of levees and the context of the song made it really work. I like “We had that independent love, you tried to bring a label in” too, though that’s a little more obvious.

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Black Panther & Black Supremacy

February 26th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

This’ll make sense tomorrow, I promise. But for now, enjoy (and feel free to discuss) this exchange from the letters page of Black Panther #4, which was written by Reggie Hudlin, drawn by John Romita Jr, and collected as Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther?. It’s a good comic, but I needed to excerpt this for another piece I’m working on elsewhere.

I typed all this out myself, so the errors are my own. Here’s the original joint:


Tomorrow: I’m throwing molotov cocktails at the precinct. We can discuss it rightchea if the comment thread on another site (I don’t know why I’m being secretive, it’s not like I write for anyone besides ComicsAlliance) isn’t to your flavor.

I read the Black Panther #1 relaunch with an open mind. I love the character and loved Priest’s run. Honestly, I haven’t liked much of the usual Marvel hype surrounding this new series (obviously aimed at Marvel’s perceived core audience of backwards-hat-wearing skateboarders), but I am totally willing to give the new writer a chance. The result was mixed feelings.

First, it seems that Reginald Hudlin can write comics. Marvel feels that only Hollywood writers can write decent comics; the truth is usually the opposite. I’m always wary of a new Hollywood writer, mostly because the aforementioned hype machine has wildly overrated their talents. But Mr Hudlin can visualize and write a coherent script. So far, so good. The penciling was fine. I did not care for how emaciated and anemic-looking John Romita Jr’s Spider-Man was, but he doesn’t make the same mistake with these characters.

The scripting started to break down about halfway through. Specifically, the meeting in the White House. The suggestion that a top military White House official would call blacks “jungle bunnies” is ridiculous and speaks to Mr Hudlin’s hatred of Bush more than his writing abilities. Really, President Bush has a much more diverse staff than any of his predecessors and the most diverse Cabinet that has ever existed. Is this President really going to tolerate racism in his staff, General or not? This scene did not ring true.

The white industrialists attacking Wakanda in the 19th century were a little more believable. This reflects the gree and racism of the time and besides, black tribes were also showing attacking. Wakanda is a rich nation, and as such is subject to attack throughout history by all sorts of forces. I bought this.

Then there was the Cap thing. I suppose there was a chance that on a really good day T’Chaka could take Captain America, but the scene just reeked of the “all black people are good, all white people are bad” attitude that permeated the story. And of course, our racist white General ferociously denies that such an event actually took place. I suppose this is Mr Hudlin’s way of telling fans like me that if we question that the great Captain America can be beaten (by a black man), we’re just as racist as the General. Sorry, not true. It’s just that it’s hard to beat Cap, period, regardless of the race of the protagonist. I’m still not sure if I buy that, but I suppose it’s possible. Then there was the fact that Cap’s shield was the wrong one for 1944. Of course it’s minor, and no, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story, but it’s just another way that NuMarvel in general, and the editor specifically, ignore any comic printed before 2000.

It’s too early to tell if Black Panther is going to be a good adventure comic or a soapbox screaming that every white person (and super hero) is, knowingly or not, a racist. Take a note from Priest on this; his run occasionally touched on racism, but he was never heavy-handed about it. I was impressed when Priest, a self-admitted liberal, depicted President Bush as a savvy leader during his original BP run. Priest managed to tell a story first, and stick in his personal agenda mostly not at all. Can this team do the same?

Again, because of my love for the character, I’ll stick around for the first storyline. I’ll never forget how cool I thought the Panther was in FF during the ’60s. And even cooler when he took off his mask and revealed that he was black (as you well know, black heroes were almost nonexistent at the time). So to the entire creative team, especially the writer and editor: story first, personal agenda nowhere.


Ho-kay, Jerry. You grind quite a few axes with that letter — we lost count by the third paragraph, in fact. We think it’s only fair to let Reggie respond for the record. Reg’?

I respectfully disagree with you about JR Jr’s Spider-Man — you wanna see scrawny? See Ditko’s Spidey — and I love Ditko’s work! There is no doubt John is doing a great job on this book. That said:

Regarding your point that the White House sequence “is ridiculous and speaks to [my] hatred of Bush more than [my] writing abilities”: Whoah. I’ve been black for a very long time and I’ve met prejudiced people in every walk of life — regardless of race, creed, social position, or political affiliation. Acknowledging their existence does not imply that whatever group they belong to automatically shares their beliefs. As for whether such talk could occur in such rarefied circles, plenty of Presidents, from Woodrow Wilson to Lyndon Johnson to Richard Nixon, have been documented saying racist remarks. Do I think it’s in the realm of possibility that a White House staffer from either the Clinton or Bush administrations (remember, the story does not specify who is President) might make a racist comment? Yes. Would such a remark be tolerated? Well, in my story, the black woman who is running the meeting — Dondi Reese — summarily dismisses the idiot without breaking a sweat.

Regarding the Cap thing: I don’t engage in Hulk vs Thing debates, and I won’t engage in Cap vs Panther debates either. I am in the fortunate position of writing Black Panther, and the Panther beat Cap. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me some Captain America — I spent 200 bucks on one of those fancy shield replicas on eBay — but Panther beat Cap, baby. Live with it.

Regarding your assertion that the whole story was saying “all black people are good, all white people are bad,” all I can say is, this remark says more about you than the comic I wrote. Aren’t the first “bad guys” in the book black invaders with body part trophies from previous raids? If you think I’m vilifying the administration, isn’t that a black woman in charge? Clearly, all black people aren’t “good” in this issue. So maybe the problem, in your eyes, is that there aren’t enough “good” white people? Why? Captain America may have lost the fight with the Panther, but he certainly doesn’t say or do anything to betray the principles he stands for. And when one guy in the meeting says something stupid, everyone looks at him like the fool he is, and once he is dragged away, intelligent conversation resumes — so why brand the entire room as racist because of one guy’s comments? I wouldn’t presume that about them, so why would you?

Finally, regarding your concern that this book will become a “soapbox screaming that every white person (and super hero) is, knowingly or not, a racist,” let me say this: By necessity, many black people spend long hours analyzing the complex permutations of racism, while some of their white brothers and sisters have a harder time discussing the awkward and painful feelings the topic evokes. But sticking our heads in the sand only makes the problem worse. Until we develop a common language and a shared understand of each other’s experiences, these conversations will generate more heat than light. I don’t want to preach to the converted. I don’t want to preach at all. But I do want to challenge readers of every political stripe. I appreciate the fact that you’re willing to stick around. The more you read, the more you’ll see I’m an equal opportunity offender. The more you read, the more you’ll see I’m all about kick-@$$ action and heroics. And if you think Stan and Jack didn’t have a personal agenda, you’re wrong. Like The Beatles, they used their artistic genius to make the world a better place — and they succeeded.

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Do some pull-ups.

February 25th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

It turns out that what I grew up thinking were pull-ups are actually chin-ups, and real pull-ups are harder to do than chin-ups. When my friend Larry (of Move, Damn You! and mercilessly making fun of me every chance he gets fame) asked me if I had any fitness goals for the year, the first thing that came to mind was working on my pull-ups. I spent a lot of time playing with my little brother and sister over Christmas break, and they both enjoyed doing pull-ups on the bar in our grandfolks’ house. I used the time to figure out how many I could do and was pretty dissatisfied with my performance, so it was on my mind.

I figured that going with a flexible training regimen would be easier to manage and allow me adjust what I was working and how hard I was working it. The only things I made it a point to do every day was doing thirty pushups after rolling out of bed, doing thirty pushups before crawling into bed, and doing as many matched sets of pull-ups and chin-ups as I could manage several times a day.

I matched my pull-ups to my chin-ups for simplicity’s sake. In terms of effort, I focused on doing what I knew I was capable of plus at least one. When I could do four pull-ups, I pushed for five and sometimes managed six. When I could do five, I aimed for six and struggled toward seven. At six, I winced my way to eight.

In terms of schedule, I did at least two sets of pull-ups and chin-ups in the morning for a minimum total of 8 and 8, and often threw in a third on my way out of the door to be late for the bus to make it 12 and 12. When I got off work, I would come home, sit down for a minute, and then do at least two more sets, and sometimes a third (or fourth, or fifth, depending) before bed. I’d stretch before and after each set, too.

Around a month and a half after choosing a goal, on 2/18 to be specific, I beat ten pull-ups for the first time in my entire life.

It turns out if you do thirty pull-ups & chin-ups a day, and eventually graduate to something horrible-sounding like sixty to seventy pull-ups & chin-ups a day and more on Saturdays because there’s nothing else to do besides video games and naps, it’s easy to hit ten. Well, not “easy,” that’s not right — I mean to say that it’s doable. It’s reasonable. Feasible. With every pull-up I added to my tally, the better I felt and the more I felt I could do.

I focused my aggression this time, instead of just trying to go hard like I usually do and I hit this goal much sooner than I expected. I overreach a lot, honestly. I overestimate my abilities and then I get frustrated when I miss the mark. This time, I planned it differently. I chose a reasonable goal — double what I was capable of, plus two for a nice milestone number — and then I thought about what I was capable of doing at that point in time. After that, I just focused on consistently aiming at a level that was slightly better than my then-potential and trust that, in working those muscles, I would gradually increase that potential. That’s how muscles work, right? Science!

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This Week in Panels: Week 179

February 24th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Hey, everybody! We got a huge update this week, thanks in part to Peter, the newest contributor. Also helped out by Gaijin Dan, Jody, Was Taters and Space Jawa. I don’t know Peter from Adam Warlock, so that goes to show that if you want to be the newer newest contributor, there’s nothing stopping you from climbing aboard the train.

To panels and beyond!

Action Comics #17 (Peter’s pick)
Grant Morrison, Brad Walker, Rags Morales, Sholly Fisch and Chris Sprouse

Action Comics #17 (Gavin’s pick)
Grant Morrison, Brad Walker, Rags Morales, Sholly Fisch and Chris Sprouse

Avengers #6
Jonathan Hickman and Adam Kubert

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Gavin’s Sketch Writing Emporium

February 23rd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

I’ve talked at length about my exploits in taking improv classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center for the past year. Currently, I’m in the opening couple weeks of Improv 401 and that’s fun. Recently, I’ve completed another class at the school in the form of Sketch Writing 101. Taught by Zack Poitras, the eight-week course was loads of fun while giving me plenty of challenges in terms of creativity.

Every week, I’d have to complete some kind of sketch-writing assignment. We’d do a table reading and I’d receive some notes from both Zack and my fellow students. Since I now have a pile of these things lying around, I figured I’d post them up here.


During the first week, we discussed recent incidents that happened to us that were kind of funny. Then we were told to evolve that into a comedy sketch. My story was about how I met a girl through an online dating site and later found out that not only was she employed in the same company as me, but she was also on the cover of that company’s community magazine, which was sitting on the break room table. That inspired this skit.


In the second week, we had to bring in a pitch for a sketch. Mine was about the idea of an undercover cop doing Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. The idea got a lukewarm reaction, but I decided to stick with it and try to make it work. Unfortunately, I was never able to turn it in. I had jury duty during the third week. Still, I’m proud of how this one turned out.

Sketch 3: NEWS POPS

I was at least able to get the next assignment, which was to do a commercial parody. I didn’t realize that it was supposed to be based on a specific commercial, so I did a more genre-based one. This one got the most criticism, mainly because it’s too long and goes in too many directions. It is funny to see how many people sympathize with the childhood hell that was being stuck staring at the same cereal box for six months at a time, reading the same crap over and over again.


For the fifth week, the assignment was to do a non-commercial parody. This one took a lot of thinking, but I decided to play on the iconic ending of Casablanca and how Ilsa was so reluctant to be with Victor, who was essentially the world’s most perfect and virtuous man. The main criticism for this one is that it took too long for it to reach the “game” (premise/main gag of a comedy sketch) because I felt the need to use the actual dialogue from the movie.


Next up, we had to write a character sketch. In other words, a sketch where it’s all based on one character and how people react to him. Nearly every 90’s SNL skit, basically. It was brought up in class that the Casablanca Ending sketch was itself a character sketch, but that didn’t make this assignment any easier. I struggled with a lot of half-baked ideas for a premise, like “retired professional wrestler who becomes a professional golfer” or “mall Santa Claus who tells the children on his lap way too much personal information”. The idea of Chip Braxton randomly popped into my head during a drive to work and it’s probably my favorite of the batch. The stinger at the end got one of the strongest reactions during the table reading.


This one was also a pain in the ass. The idea was that we had to do a topical sketch. The week wasn’t giving us much to work with other than the big snow storm and the post office “no more Saturdays” announcement. The Pope stepping down was announced, but that was really last minute. I was thinking of writing a sketch about the History Channel celebrating Rebecca Black History Month, but that idea wasn’t going anywhere. I remembered that ridiculous CBS memo about the Grammys that got leaked and used that for inspiration. A lot of the earlier terms in there are word-for-word from the memo, including the hilarious term, “female breast nipple”.

Sketch 7: NEWS POPS 2.0

For the final week, we had to do a rewrite of a previous sketch. I wanted to do that Bring Your Daughter one, but it had to be something that everyone in the class was familiar with. I went with the News Pops one, since it needed the most improvement. I cut out about a page’s worth of stuff, streamlined some of it together and added an intentionally boring cartoon mascot in the form of Woody Bernstein.


Also for the final week, we had to write the first page of a sketch that shows us what the game is. This was originally one page when I handed it in, but that’s because I used MS Word and the formatting is different. This is also a dropped idea from the topical assignment.

There was also a ton of great skits from my fellow students. While I don’t have them to show, some of the highlights include:

– A college RA going over rules and regulations, repeatedly explaining that it’s NOT COOL to post pictures of muscular children on the bulletin board, no matter how much he wishes that wasn’t against the rules.
– A DJ on an oldies radio station who has completely gone insane from having to hear the same songs again and again for years, hiding his crippling depression with his obnoxious DJ optimism.
– “The Good Girls Club”, a reality show where nice women constantly screech at each other, “You’re motherfucking talented, you beautiful bitch!”
– A movie trailer for Goldilocks as an action flick.
– James Bond discovering that not only are there a bunch of movies about his exploits, but he’s the last person to know about this and it’s REALLY hurting his chances with getting laid.
– A homeless man on a subway, interviewing people for a talkshow that exists in his mind. Unfortunately, other homeless people get in on this and start the subway version of a late night war.
– The National Rifle Association change their name to the NWEA, deciding that instead of rifles, they’ll support the use of weaponized ebola.

I hope to start taking Sketch Writing 201 soon, as the whole experience was a blast.

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Wrestling is Fascinating: Doobs Like Swagger

February 21st, 2013 Posted by Gavok

So a thing happened in the wrestling world. Recently, “the All-American American” Jack Swagger came back from hiatus with a new gimmick of being “the Real American” and ranting about immigrants and lazy people and all that. Then he got a manager in the form of old-school wrestling personality Dutch Mantel (now known as Zeb Colter), who acted as a mouthpiece, ranting his Tea Party-like views for the sake of getting the crowd’s ire. Weeks into his return, Swagger won a big multi-man match to gain a title shot for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania against Alberto Del Rio, a Mexican aristocrat with a love for the downtrodden. It’s a feud that makes sense and sounds like it would give us an entertaining story with a great payoff.

But that’s the thing about the unpredictable world of professional wrestling. It’s so many factors planned out and the best laid plans of mice and men have a tendency to go astray. With WWE, they aren’t even the BEST laid plans to begin with. No, a huge wrench came into this situation in the form of Jack Swagger being arrested for speeding and driving under the influence of marijuana.

This is one of those times where the behind-the-scenes story will trump the scripted stuff in front of the cameras, even if heroic immigrant vs. bad guy who hates immigrants has so much potential. So what’s so interesting about this Kurt Angle/Biff Tannen hybrid getting pulled over?

1) Jack Swagger continues to be the epitome of dropping the ball. Let’s take a quick look at Swagger’s WWE career. The deceptively-tall Swagger showed up on WWE’s ECW in late 2008, immediately shooting to the top with his easily-hateable goofball heel charisma and a power grappler style that made him look like he had a serious future in the company. He enjoyed some time as champ, although the ECW brand was so third tier at this point that he didn’t even get a match in the four-hour Wrestlemania 25. He got called up to the Raw roster and proceeded to do a big pile of nothing.

WWE did nothing of note with Swagger and he quickly faded into the background as just another midcarder. In 2010, he won the multi-man Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania 26, which was a major surprise, as this development came out of nowhere. After all, he hadn’t really done anything to suggest he’d suddenly get any major push, yet here he was. Days later, he cashed in his automatic title shot on a beaten-down Chris Jericho (also a heel, which was weird) and became World Heavyweight Champion. This is part of one of WWE’s more recent problems of cheapening their titles by sticking them onto random people in hopes that it would make the wrestlers seem like a big deal instead of the other way around.

Swagger would go on to have one of the worst title runs of actual length in the company’s history, up there with Rey Mysterio and Jeff Hardy. Other than a clean win over Randy Orton at a PPV, he was made to look like a joke who in no way deserved to be considered on the championship level. Just as bad, they removed his full-of-himself jock personality and replaced it with a serious, suit-wearing character that they kept using for all heels around the time based on Chris Jericho’s success using the same gimmick. He ended up losing the title to Rey Mysterio and fell right out of the title picture.

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Where’s David?

February 20th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

-I’m doing a weekly column for ComicsAlliance. There’s not a category for it yet, but you can see everything I write for CA here and the latest piece here. I’m talking about Paul Tobin and Juan Ferrerya’s solidly creepy comic Colder. Cop it here.

-I’m doing a two-part piece for Kotaku, in concert with Evan Narcisse. We’re talking about the general state of black folks and video games, basically. Read part one here. Part two hits next week, presumably around this time. If the comments over there make you uncomfortable and you wanna discuss it here, feel free to get it in in the comments.

-I mentioned it already, but I’m doing two panels at ECCC the weekend after next. Here’s the details:

Room: 3AB
Start: 7:00PM
End: 7:55PM

Jeff Parker, writer of fan-favorite comics like Red She-Hulk and Agents of Atlas, sits down with David Brothers to have a frank and funny conversation about what working on comics is really like, where inspiration actually comes from, and why if you want to be a pro you need to stop being a fan. Do you have preconceptions of what the comics industry is like? Come through and watch this tag team destroy them with jokes, opinions, and hard facts.

Room: 2AB
Start: 1:00PM
End: 1:55PM

This year, the geek community’s strained relationship with diversity came to a head. Conflicts over exclusion, and identity politics, and what makes a “real” geek have exploded into the mainstream media. Creators, curators, community leaders, and critics on the front lines examine the fight over geek identity and barriers to diversity in geek communities and media; and propose concrete steps toward a diverse and inclusive geek culture. Join industry leaders Rachel Edidin, David Brothers, Andy Khouri, Regina Buenaobra, Sarah Kuhn, Cheryl Lynn Eaton and Kate Welch as they discuss this hot button issue.

I’m pretty flattered that Rachel asked me to be on her panel, especially on a subject as… not complicated, not nuanced, but kind of those things. Sensitive? Something. Hopefully I can stick the landing, but if not, everyone else on the panel is pretty bomb.

I’m really into this Parker/Brothers panel. It started as a dumb joke borne from me cooking dinner at midnight and Jeff staying up late working/goofing off on Twitter, and now it’s a whole thing where we get to sit in front of people and talk about things. If you’re at ECCC, come through and laugh at our jokes, if that’s your thing. I don’t want to make any promises about the panel, but I think it’ll be time well spent. At the very least, we’re gonna make you smile. It ends just before eight, so come through for a belly full of laughs and then jet to go get food/alcohol/whatever after.

-I tend to run long when I write, so I’m going to try and bust out more short pieces here on 4l!. The long stuff will still show up (please believe) but I’d like to get more regular here soon. This isn’t a promise. It’s just a hope. Trying to figure out where I’m at with regard to writing and blogging and such, and that means experimenting and erasing my comfort zones. Bear with me.

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This Week in Panels: Week 178

February 17th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Welcome to ThWiP! Was Taters is off competing in an arm wrestling tournament to win the custody of Sylvester Stallone’s kid, so no panels from her this week. Instead, I’m helped out by Gaijin Dan, Jody and Space Jawa.

Still got to get around to reading that One-Punch Man thing. I’ll need to keep an eye out when that gets collected.

Age of Apocalypse #12
David Lapham and Renato Arlem

Avengers Assemble #12
Kelly Sue DeConnick and Pete Woods

Batman #17 (Jody’s pick)
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

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UDON’s Super Street Fighter: New Generation Fights Like Gentlemen

February 17th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

That title isn’t even grammatically– you know what? Forget it.

The Street Fighter franchise has always given us interesting comics to work with. When the second game hit the scene and became an early-90’s phenomenon, we got both a terrible series in America that got canceled by the third issue and a manga that made enough sense out of the few existing story beats and created something entertaining. Various manga would appear throughout the years, becoming so beloved by Capcom that they’d introduce characters and concepts as being canon in the games, such as Sagat’s adopted children and Sakura’s rival Karin.

Starting in 2003, UDON – known mainly for that badass redesign of the Taskmaster back in the day that nearly every artist has chosen to foolishly ignore – began a Street Fighter series. While the constantly-changing and cropping titles makes it a headache at times to keep track of, it’s a fun narrative that tries to streamline the many characters and happenings in the game’s universe. Mainly written by Ken Siu-Chong, the comics have told the stories of Street Fighter, the Street Fighter Alpha games and Street Fighter II while doing side stories to build on the cast of Street Fighter III and Street Fighter IV. All that and miniseries based on Chun-Li, Sakura and Ibuki. Sadly, Adon is yet to get his own series.

The end of the Street Fighter II: Turbo series doesn’t quite stick the landing due to the reveal in Street Fighter IV that Gouken – Ryu and Ken’s master – isn’t so dead after all. Incorporating him into the final issue is not unlike having Thomas Wayne show up to punch out the Joker in the climax of a lengthy Batman story. Once that was done, UDON stayed silent for a while until announcing that their Street Fighter comics would no longer be monthlies, but released in graphic novel format. The first of which is Super Street Fighter: New Generation.

More than the format, what really makes this new story different for Siu-Chong is the pre-existing definition. Capcom has defined much of the events of the earlier Street Fighter games and what became of who, so the previous comics were Siu-Chong connecting the dots with his own little touch. New Generation is based on the Street Fighter III games (which storywise is comprised of Street Fighter III: Second Impact and Street Fighter III: Third Strike), which lack all that narrative detail. The games introduced an overwhelmingly new cast with only Ryu and Ken returning, eventually bringing in Akuma and Chun-Li for familiarity. Capcom never went out and came up with too many canon descriptions of what went on in the storyline.

The book tells its own version of the events of Street Fighter III, but with the inclusions of characters from previous games. Heck, Guile is our main character and he wasn’t even in any version of Street Fighter III. It’s neat to see explanations of what became of certain people from the pre-III games. For instance, after Bison’s death and Sagat’s refusal to have anything to do with the criminal enterprise, Shadaloo’s resources were divvied up by Balrog and Vega, who each went legit. Sakura graduated high school and became Ryu’s student, all while wearing an even more gratuitously fanservicey outfit (she’s now Ryu without pants). Zangief, Mike Haggar and Rainbow Mika became members of the Olympic council, making the recent real world situation with wrestling being dropped kind of hilarious in the timing.

The main story deals with the Secret Society, a cult run by the ever-powerful, thong-wearing, two-toned nutjob Gill. Guile – who has spent the last four years at a desk job since the fall of Shadaloo – is investigating the situation, but is alarmed when his inside man has gone missing. Even worse, he finds out of an unfinished list of targets that the cult is after and everyone’s favorite karate Jedi Ryu is on top of the list. Worser than that, Guile’s already too late and he discovers that Ryu’s already been taken. Worse-worsier, he finds this out through Sakura, who’s been driven insane from the experience and demands that Guile stay out of her way. To uncover the mystery, Guile is joined by angry military grappler Alex and another world warrior who I won’t spoil.

That’s not the whole package. Scattered throughout are chapters that tell side-stories. Wrestler Mania with art by Gonzalo Ordonez Arias shows how an argument between E. Honda and Hakan over which wrestling style should be added into the Olympics becomes a full-on fight. Target. Dhalsim. with art from Andres S. Blanco has Twelve attack Dhalsim in the Himalayas while morphing into various characters from the first game. Final Forest Fighter II by Jim Zub and Sean Galloway shows a sparring match between ninjas Guy and Ibuki. There’s also origin stories for Alex (Long Vo on art) and Juri (Zub on words, Omar Dogan on art) with the latter one being especially good. At the very least, it explains why Juri could be so vengeful against Bison/Shadaloo while being a full-on villain with no redeeming values.

Oh, I almost forgot. America’s sweetheart Chris Sims teams up with Edwin Huang to write School in the Summertime, a six-page story where brash, powerhouse boxer Balrog crosses paths with refined fisticuffs gentleman Dudley. It definitely hits its potential and as luck would have it, UDON released the full thing on Facebook. That keeps my conscious clean enough to post them here.

“…gutter trash.”

The hardcover also features a bunch of pages of character art. It retails at $34.95, but you’re better off hitting Amazon or for a better deal. If you’ve enjoyed the previous comics or have always wanted to read a story about an overly-happy Turkish man who loves oiling himself up more than anyone ever should, it’s worth checking out. Just not at list price.

Now if only UDON would allow me to write an Adon backup. He’s basically just Chris Jericho, but with more kicking. What’s not to love?

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Devil Survivor Overblogged: 2nd day

February 15th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

An ongoing series about my time playing Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked, divided up according to the stages of the game. Once a week, I think, I’m going to hit a few big topics that have stuck in my head and then a lot of little ones. Fridays.

This is like a Let’s Play, but only I get to play and you’re required by law to read it and like it.

2nd day

Story So Far: I forget.

Right now: There’s demons, there’s kids, and the demons want to eat the kids? I don’t remember exactly.

black power Status:
Level: 20
HP: 162
MP: 64
St: 12
Ma: 8
Vi: 7
Ag: 9
Move: 4
Speed: 50
Skills: Agi, Zan, Hero Aid, Counter, Leader Soul, Marksman

Demon 1: Lilim (Femme)
Level: 18
HP: 137
MP: 79
St: 7
Ma: 11
Vi: 8
Ag: 8
Skills: Mute Eyes, Elec Dance, Zio, Mana Bonus, Anti-Elec, Devotion

Demon 2: Thor (Deity)
Level: 18
HP: 195
MP: 28
St: 19
Ma: 4
Vi: 12
Ag: 2
Skills: Elec Dance, Anger Hit, Agi, Counter, Knight Soul, Awakening

Voice Acting: I really dig the voice acting in this game, particularly the way they update a few specifically Japanese things. I mean, surely they didn’t call Atsuro Atsuwrong in the Japanese dub, you know? That’s the kind of thing I like to see in translated media. If you can’t directly translate the joke, go with something close and still funny. Don’t just leave it there like a fat dollop of “This would be funny if you spoke Japanese.”

Grinding: I barely play traditional RPGs any more. Not because I hate them, but more because the ratio of time played vs rewards received is so low. NBA 2k13‘s My Player is essentially an RPG, right? You create a character, you name him, and you take him on a quest to the Hall of Fame. You’re rewarded for your time and effort on a regular basis, whether via earning experience points to level up your guy, new endorsements, or being able to have an incredible game and feeling the warm glow of having accomplished something. I had a bad stretch of games and got demoted from starter to sixth man, but I’ve been focusing on improving the weak parts of my game and I’m playing better than ever. That feedback loop works and works really well. I had to take a break from playing it, honestly, because I was getting too into it.

It’s tougher in RPGs. Most of the rewards in RPGs are story-based. You find out what happens next as you complete things, but the work you put in to be able to complete those things usually isn’t rewarded very well. That’s why they call it “grinding.” You gotta do it to get the reward.

It’s a pacing problem. If a game is properly paced, you should be able to progress through a game without having to grind. Each accomplishment gives you the tools you need to complete the next accomplishment, on through to the end of the game. When improperly paced, you have to kill hours doing repetitive and boring tasks just to barely squeak by.

I haven’t had a reason to grind in Deandre’s Silly Overworld yet, but I have done half a dozen or so of those free battles. I’m wondering if this is me preparing for later grinding by trying to get a leg up. I know these games, and I basically play them on instinct at this point.

Shomonkai: They’re a weird cult and I don’t trust them at all. The girl I met is maybe reliable, but the rest seem like the type of dudes who would engineer a demon apocalypse to bring their undoubtedly Lovecraftian god to Earth.

I Quit: I wrote the above bits like… in December? Mid/late December, shortly before the holidays. I was doing a consulting gig that required an hour-long commute by train and then taxi, so why not play an RPG? So I wrote, took notes, and played for a few days in a row.

At some point in Day Two, I forget when exactly, I hit the exact point where I needed to grind. And wow was it a pain. I think it was the battle just before the battle where you have to start protecting humans, so maybe it was in the early afternoon? I don’t remember. I don’t care at this point.

I grinded. I ground it out. I leveled up, I beat the stages that were giving me trouble, and I haven’t touched the game since. I haven’t even really touched my 3DS, in fact, barring playing the Fire Emblem demo.

Grinding sucks. It sapped my enjoyment of the game. I’m grinding in Ni No Kuni right now, but that game at least hides the grind behind a mission-based questing system, so it never feels like a grind, even when you’re killing 10 bone dudes for some weird lady in Al Mamoon. In DSO, you grind and it’s blatant grinding. YUCK. Life’s too short.

Anyway, I quit. I’ll find some other game to blog about that isn’t Dumb Stupid Obnoxious. I was expecting to really dig it, but I didn’t, and when it started bugging me, I decided to bail out. Sorry :)

Unprocessed Notes:
2nd day:
-The team system is an interesting way to do things, and I like that you can swap them around pretty easily during a battle.
-Haru seems cool, but ha ha ha her top is constantly falling off. I like that she uses a musical instrument instead of a DS. Curious to see where her story goes, though I think that someone already spoiled that for me.
-It’s kinda crazy that you have to fight gangsters as well as monsters, but I’m glad it happened. It also explains why Race-O and Race-D (which decrease damage done by your race) are available for humans to equip.
-so far, it seems like the government knew this was coming, the gangsters have chosen to take advantage, and someone has seeded the Yamanote Circle with monsters for whatever reason. Where is this going? The gov’t has written off the circle and is going to purge everything when the situation goes fully south?
-Gin seems kinda dumb, though I like his name.
-voice acting is actually pretty good? i like how they don’t say the protagonist’s name, too, though that’s a series staple

つづく: “NEXT TIME, on Devil Survivor Overblogged: David has to find another 3DS game to play! On top of that, he has several dozen joke titles for Devil Survivor Overclocked he has to figure out how to use!”

All jokes aside, I do need a new 3DS game, and I don’t want it to be Fire Emblem. I’m open to trying new things: what do you like and why? I’m tempted by MGS3 but I definitely own that on PS3 as well. Is it worth the purchase on 3DS?

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