Archive for February, 2013


A Quick Note on Wiz Khalifa’s “Good Dank”

February 12th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

There’s two things about Wiz Khalifa’s “Good Dank” off his Kush & OJ mixtape that I’d excitedly refer to as my favorite (or the best, or the superior, or…) thing about Wiz Khalifa (or rap, or music, or jokes, or puns, or…) should you make the fatal mistake of asking me about pretty much anything.

The first is this line:

“Louies cover my eyes… not them hundred dollar Ray-Bans, fam — these six seventy-five”

Rappers do this thing where they brag about having expensive stuff, right? Everybody that ever rhymed Maybach with laid back, everyone who ever said the word “beamer,” everyone who said “Cristahl.” But what they don’t do too often is brag about having the expensiver version of expensive stuff. Who does that, right?

But here’s Young Wizdom. He knows Ray-Bans are expensive. (I myself managed to talk myself into a pair in the 10th grade, which I promptly lost. A year later, I lost my first cell phone.) So he wants to make it clear that even though some of us can scrimp and save and wheedle our way into some expensive sunglasses, there is a tier of sunglass above even that lofty tier, a tier that we are not welcome to visit, and it’s silly we even formed our mouths to ask the question.


My other favorite thing about this song is this line:

“Got my paper right, now we like white boy hair the way they… …jealous”

Now, rappers say a lot of dumb things. I listen to a lot of rap, so believe me when I say rappers say a lot of dumb things. Sometimes it’s amazing, other times it’s excruciating, and sometimes it’s this, which is the most beautifullest thing in this world.

The line is amazing because Wiz is looking us dead in our eyes while he delivers it. It’s some type of ultra reverse double dog dare. When he gets to “got my paper right” you’re nodding along. You’re in familiar territory. “We like white boy hair?” Hmm… that’s kinda weird. Where’s he going with this? “The way they…” hits and you think, huh, weird. What’s he gonna say? And the second “…” hits and you get it, and you don’t want it, you’re like, No, no way, this dude isn’t about to do that. Who’d do that? Right?

“Jealllllllllllllous,” Wiz says, and your feel it hit in short sharp shocks to your spinal cord and you’re laughing and you’re amazed that he was so confident when he said it and you’re damned forever.

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Could anybody tell me what is the Race Card?

February 11th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

Lena Dunham’s Girls debuted last year. I hadn’t heard much about it, but a friend talked me into watching it, and it was pretty definitively Not For Me. But because I’m an idiot, I’ve kinda/sorta kept up with following the reaction and controversy about the series — how it’s super white, how the writers like to say stupid things in public, and so on. Looky-loo stuff, really. “Why do these people hate/love/defend/attack this stuff so much?”

Of course, that began backfiring almost immediately, because all things do. I don’t think I’ve read a single pro or con piece on the show that was worth the time, though a few of the more measured reactions — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s piece definitely included — were interesting, from the outside looking in. I’m curious about what works about Girls, what doesn’t, and why much more than I am than checking it out firsthand.

The latest one I’ve read was a piece by Rob Hart called “Call It What It Is: The Hatred Directed At Lena Dunham Is Petty, Childish Bullshit,” which I checked out after it drifted across my Twitter. It’s one of those defenses that depends and/or suggests that everyone is either a moron or jealous — in other words, not a good defense so much as a “You are all dumb and mama said knock you strawmen out.”

But this defense, when dismissing any and all negativity also tripped one of my pet peeves once I got to here:

As soon as the race card got played, there was no way for Dunham to win. When Donald Glover showed up as a black Republican, instead of being an interesting role for a funny and talented person, adding a black person in a featured guest spot was deemed RACISM (according to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, at least).

There’s a lot I don’t like about this bit. Abdul-Jabbar said “But this really seemed like an effort was made to add some color — and it came across as forced,” which is pretty objectively not what Hart says he said. But the bit that made me roll my eyes, that made me second-guess this habit of driving slowly past other people’s problems and gawking, was the first eight words: “AS SOON AS THE RACE CARD GOT PLAYED.”

If you believe in the race card, you’ve got some scumbaggy views on race and culture. End of story.

It’s cool to defend Dunham or whatever, I agree that a lot of the rhetoric about her and her show has been pretty stupid and thinly veiled horribleness, but I feel like you shouldn’t act like a moron and pretend like the race card is a thing that actually exists while defending some dumb TV show.

The race card isn’t real. Let’s say that for the purposes of this argument the race card is a real thing that can be played by colored people. It isn’t, I repeat, but let’s say that in this hypothetical world full of unicorns and dragons and magic, it is real. The race card wouldn’t be the big joker or the small joker. It wouldn’t be the Ace of Spades or a Royal Flush (assuming you had several… never mind), either. It wouldn’t even be Draw Four. It would be that extra card that comes in card decks that explains the rules to a card game. You know the card that we all ignore? It’s that one. But the only thing written on it is “YOU CAN’T WIN.”

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This Week in Panels: Week 177

February 10th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Hello nice people. This week it’s me reading way too much superhero comic junk, Gaijin Dan reading way too much manga, Brobe sending in a chunk of stuff and a little something-something from Was Taters, Space Jawa and Jody.

I should feel alarmed that I’m enjoying Thunderbolts, even though I know that Way will do me wrong like he always does. Then again, to paraphrase Mitch Hedberg, we eat every apple knowing that it’ll become a core.

Unleash the panels!

Animal Man #17
Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder, Steve Pugh and Timothy Green II

Avengers #5
Jonathan Hickman and Adam Kubert

Batwing #17
Fabian Nicieza and Fabrizio Fiorentino

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Crossover Celebration Part 6: Turtles Forever

February 8th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

It’s really pretty amazing how Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the more versatile properties in comic history, ranking up there with Batman and Wolverine. Remembered mainly for the popular 80’s and 90’s children’s cartoon, you have to remember that the foursome started out in a comic where Leonardo impales Shredder with his katana in the very first issue. He even drinks some beer a few issues later, which feels off in retrospect. The property has taken some strange turns over the years, even to the point where the more kid-oriented comic series by Archie Comics featured a storyline where they go back in time, beat up Hitler, convince him he’s in Hell and trick him into shooting himself in the head. Around the same time, Michelangelo was teaming up with the Muppet Babies, Alf and Bugs Bunny to get a kid off drugs on a Saturday morning TV special.

When the Turtles fad died down, the cartoon still remained on TV for a long, long time. How long? There was an episode that featured April O’Neil looking stuff up on the internet. Jesus. I even remember stumbling upon the very last episode one Saturday morning, surprised that it was still around. The ending was rather nice, with Splinter telling the four that he had nothing left to teach them. They were all his equals and would no longer be able to call him “Master”. They tried to keep the franchise around just a little bit longer with a live-action show, but with that failing, the Turtle stuff took a break for a few years.

In the early 2000’s, a new Ninjas Turtles series was created by 4Kids that revitalized the concept. It decided to go back to basics, throwing away all the ideas and characters from the 80’s cartoon and basing everything on the original Mirage comics. In fact, there’s an almost purist distaste you can feel from the series in their refusal to pay any lip service to the first cartoon, outside of a couple Easter Egg references. Though it is rather cool that by revealing their version of Shredder to be an Utrom alien, he’s essentially Krang and Shredder in one character. Regardless, it was a good show and lasted a rather long time, even after jumping the shark and going into the future for a season.

It was announced that Nickelodeon was buying the rights to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and if the 4Kids series wasn’t already on its way out, this made it definite. The creators decided to go out the best way possible: an animated movie in the style of a crossover between the 4Kids TMNT and the 80’s cartoon TMNT.

The movie begins with Hun, leader of the Purple Dragons and go-to muscle for Shredder, as he steals some tech stuff at a lab. The Ninja Turtles appear to stop them. Later that night, the situation makes the news, distressing Splinter, who can’t believe his students would be so careless. What’s extra strange is that all four turtles have been home in the sewer all night. They figure out that the Purple Dragons are involved and go to find out what’s going on.

We find that the Purple Dragons won that little pre-credits skirmish and have the Turtles as prisoners. Hun sees them and is completely confused.

“You were expecting maybe someone else?”

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Are you going to Emerald City Comicon?

February 8th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

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.

You should come by and let me put this poison in you.

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Don’t Check Your Bags [Ni No Kuni]

February 7th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

Studio Ghibli and Level-5’s Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a type of game I don’t play very often: a family-oriented big budget title. It’s heartwarming and kind, to the point where even its violence is positioned as being a temporary evil that will lead directly to greater good. I had one thought just after the game really got going that forever shifted the experience for me: what if this isn’t real, and it’s just Oliver’s way of coping with the death of his mother?

It sounds stupid and cynical, doesn’t it? We have a habit of attempting to ruin or taint everything that reminds us of our own lost innocence, and you can definitely look at that thought as being part of that trend. At the same time, it’s a hard idea to let go of, particularly when you start to consider a few things in the game itself with less of a blindly trusting eye.

The death of Allie, Oliver’s mother, is what really gets the game started, with her revival being the end point of Oliver’s quest. To bring her back, Oliver is going to go up against Shadar, the Dark Djinn, with the help of Drippy, his fairy friend.

Drippy enters the narrative just after the death of Allie. Drippy was a doll that Allie gave to Oliver, and represents Allie’s love for her son. As Oliver cries while holding his doll, his tears fall onto the doll, causing it to come to life. Upon waking up, Drippy explains that he is not just from another world, but was locked away by an evil entity who may hold Allie’s life in his hands.

Drippy spins a tale full of wonder, but the heart of it is one idea: Oliver can get his mother back. Oliver accepts Drippy’s reality because he’s guaranteed the power to change things if he goes along with Drippy. He can return to point when he was happy. On the one hand, this is a standard hero’s journey. On the other, it’s incredibly convenient, isn’t it?

The cracks in Drippy’s narrative become even more obvious when you consider his behavior. He’s hiding things from Oliver. Oliver knows that he’s meant to save this world from the Dark Djinn, but Drippy spends more time reiterating how capable he is than actually giving him advice. Drippy emphasizes Oliver’s potential, not his reality, whenever they meet another character.

Drippy downplays the danger, and that makes me wonder if I can trust him. His explanations of how this new world works don’t quite make sense. He shows Oliver how to transfer emotions from one person to another, but that process somehow leaves the giver feeling even more of the emotion they gave away. Later, he assures Oliver that they aren’t really killing the creatures they fight. They simply go somewhere else after being chastised and will soon return as loving creatures. Where do they go after you hit them with fireballs and swords? Um. Somewhere?

The biggest warning sign, the moment that gave me pause more than any other moment, came when Oliver returned to the real world for the first time. At this point in the game, he’s fully accepted his quest and acquired clothes that fit the magical realm. We’d laugh at him if we saw Oliver in real life, with his cape, Little Lord Fauntleroy getup, and ridiculous boots. In the game, from what I saw, everyone simply takes it in stride. It barely rates a mention, and that bothered me.

The townspeople care about Oliver and how he’s coping, but they rarely remark on his clothes and avoid speaking to him at length about his mother. I got the feeling that they don’t know how to take the situation or Oliver himself. A child loses his mother and walks into your store wearing a ridiculous outfit. How do you react to that? Apparently the answer is “you ignore it and pretend like everything is mostly okay.”

The idea that Oliver is out of his depth with his grief a dark twist born from a dark thought, but the more of Ni No Kuni I play, the more the puzzle pieces seem to fit together. If I took Ni No Kuni entirely on its own terms as a lovable game about loving and being loved, I would probably lose interest pretty quickly. But my own baggage, my interests and tastes, gives me a greater — or probably just “different” — appreciation of the story.

I feel like what you bring to a work of art is about as important as the art itself. No work of art is a monologue. It’s a conversation between you and the creator of the work. You are a large part of the reason why a fantastic work of art clicks with you so hard and why some other fantastic work of art falls flat. Sometimes your mind is perfectly shaped to take a certain story. Sometimes it isn’t. In the case of Ni No Kuni, my own baggage and interests changed the game for me.

Instead of bailing out of the game early on with a “Good, but not for me,” I’m playing a lot of Ni No Kuni in an attempt to prove this thought wrong. I don’t want Oliver to have to face up to his own impotence and grief. I don’t want his mother to be dead. I don’t want Drippy to be a guide with dark intentions. I want Oliver to win.

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never believe the hype

February 6th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

john paul leon - static shock special 01

john paul leon - static shock special 02

I want you to keep this two-page story by Matt Wayne, John Paul Leon, Noelle Giddings, and Dave Sharpe from Static Shock Special in mind this month. I want you to think of this every time someone — anyone, myself included — invokes Dwayne McDuffie’s name.

I want you to think about what they have to gain when they say the man’s name.

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Crossover Celebration Part 5: Star Wars and Friends

February 5th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

The big nerd news of recent months is that Disney bought Star Wars from George Lucas and that Star Trek guy is going to be directing it. For me, this is great news no matter how you look at it. For one, the franchise isn’t in Lucas’ hands anymore. Already a plus. At best, Disney might be able to use some of their magic to make a good Star Wars trilogy to break the tie created by the previous two. At worst, we’ll have something new to make fun of.

I thought about doing a Crossover Celebration article about Star Wars, but then it hit me how sparse Star Wars crossovers are. Even then, they’re all fairly brief to talk about. Ergo, I figured I’d go over every Star Wars crossover I can possibly think of. Remember, it’s official crossovers only.

The first crossover came in 1979, in-between the first two movies. During the 11th season of Sesame Street, a UFO land and out come C3PO and R2D2. The two befriend Big Bird and reveal that they are sent by an intergalactic relative of Oscar the Grouch to deliver a message for the grumpy, green guy. That message being, “GET LOST!” Over the course of the episode, as well as another episode later in the season, the two droids mostly hang out with Big Bird, including a segment where they sing a song about remembering which number is which. There’s also an amusing bit where R2D2 happily tells C3PO that he’s in love, only to be brought down when he discovers that it’s just a fire hydrant.

A year later, Star Wars would keep the Muppet friendship going with a hosting gig during the fourth season of the Muppet Show. As Scooter readies the show’s guest host, a Scottish Muppet named Angus McGonagle, the trio of Luke Skywalker, R2D2 and C3PO bust through the wall. The three are looking for the kidnapped Chewbacca, but Scooter sees this as an opportunity to get rid of Angus and replace him with some real stars. Other than R2, the heroes seem disinterested in the idea of hosting a variety show. They’re more focused on tracking down their kidnapped friend Chewbacca.

Luke appears less whiny and unsure and more of a gung ho revolutionary, screaming, “REMEMBER ALDERAN!” when he bursts into the room at one point. While he isn’t keen on singing and dancing, he does leave the room so that his cousin Mark Hammill can give it a try. Wait, cousin? I wonder if he was Owen and Veru’s kid. If so, he’s certainly gotten over their fiery death. Mark fails to impress Kermit and Fozzy, especially after he and Angus do a musical gargling duet on stage.

Things pick up when they invade the set of Pigs in Space. They commandeer the Swinetrek in hopes of finding Chewy and interact with the cast. Link Hogthrob gets along swimmingly with Luke, inquiring about where he gets his snazzy uniform. Dr. Strangepork is intrigued with R2D2 and Miss Piggy dresses up as Leia as a way of hitting on Luke. This episode was released as hype for Empire Strikes Back, so we aren’t aware of how creepy this is. The two sci-fi teams fly to a planet where they confront the mysterious Dearth Nadir!

He too wants to know about Luke’s tailor. The segment becomes a pure clusterfuck with Chewbacca coming to Luke’s aid (wasn’t he kidnapped?) and Nadir being saved by Angus McGonagle’s gargling abilities. Then Kermit arrives to transform it into a musical segment, which includes the horrors of Chewbacca dancing. Then it gets into cosmic territory as both the Muppets and the Star Wars cast get together and sing “When You Wish Upon a Star” as a Disney-like castle appears behind them.

Yes, they’re doing this decades before Disney would own both properties. Absolutely crazy.

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This Week in Panels: Week 176

February 3rd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Okay, okay. So my writing has been a little lax lately. I’ve been a bit busy, what with jury duty, a sketch writing class at UCB, the Royal Rumble, the Superbowl and work kicking my ass. But I promise I’ll get back to actually writing about comics again real soon! Scout’s honor!

I was never a scout, but I’m pretty sure I can keep that promise.

My superfriends are, as always, Gaijin Dan, Was Taters, Jody and Space Jawa.

All-Star Western #16
Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Moritat and Phil Winslade

Aquaman #16
Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier

Avengers #4
Jonathan Hickman and Adam Kubert

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