Archive for March, 2013


Ellen Wong as Knives Chau: Ecstatic, Devastated, & Very Takahashi

March 14th, 2013 Posted by david brothers



“I’m too cool for you anyway.”
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

This image showed up on The Great Subject, a tumblr I dig. Seeing it reminded me of a few things, #1 of which was that Ellen Wong is amazing.

I liked the movie version of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim comics, but I loved Ellen Wong as Knives Chau. I liked her so much that I wish the end of the movie featured Scott trying to get back with Knives and getting totally dissed when she’s like “Nah… I’m good.” I wanted more of the movie to be about her, basically? That’s how much I liked how she portrayed that character.

What really struck me was that Wong totally sold her role. She lived in it. She was incredibly energetic and so into it that I couldn’t help but be warmed. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie, but I remember a shot of her peeking in a window and flopping on a bed as being the most Knives Chau-iest things ever. They were amazing little bits of acting, perfectly pitched for the heightened reality of Scott Pilgrim. Hey look, I found it on youtube:

That flop onto the bed is real I Love Lucy. I can’t help but love it.

I liked Knives in the book — I liked pretty much everyone in the book — but she wasn’t one of my favorite characters. After Wong portrayed her in the film, I became a really big fan of both the character and the actress. It clicked.

Wong regularly appears on Carrie Diaries, which I guess is Batman Year One for Sex & the City. (“Yes. Mother. I shall become something something.” I don’t know enough about SATC to make this joke work. Sorry.) She was on Combat Hospital, as well, which I haven’t seen. I’m sorely tempted.

Man, you know what it is? I think her approach to Knives reminds me of the extreme physical and emotional drama that Rumiko Takahashi employed in Ranma 1/2. I look at Wong-as-Chau and I see Akane or Shampoo going ham on Happosai or Ranma or each other or any of the Kunos. Every new event is the end of the world or the birth of a glorious new one. She’s in a near constant state of devastation or ecstasy.

Ellen Wong. She’s the real deal.

If you somehow missed it the first time, you can buy Scott Pilgrim Color Hardcover Volume 1: Precious Little Life, a new version of O’Malley’s original series with colors by Nathan Fairbairn. I don’t own any of these (I still have the old trades), but I want them, especially the con-only Evil Ex editions. The movie is over here, too.

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Monday Mixtape 01: alpha

March 11th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

Here’s a new thing. Let’s do it:

monday mixtape alpha from brothers on 8tracks Radio.

Eight songs here, which should play in random order. The list:
-Kendrick Lamar – Poetic Justice feat. Drake – good kid, m.A.A.d city
-D’Angelo – Devil’s Pie – Voodoo
-Blur – Pressure on Julian – Modern Life Is Rubbish
-Gucci Mane – Walking Lick feat. Waka Flocka Flame – Trap Back
-Cool Breeze – We Get It Crunk feat. Kurupt – East Point’s Greatest Hit
-Kilo Kish – creepwave – k+
-Notorious BIG – Niggas Bleed – Life After Death
-Curren$y – Jet Life feat. Big KRIT, Wiz Khalifa – The Stoned Immaculate

It’s hard to explain my rationale with regards to picking these songs. They’re all tracks that made some sort of an impression over the past seven days — technically ten, if you include my trip to Emerald City Comicon, where I had this idea. Some songs I played repeatedly, like “Jet Life” and “We Get It Crunk.” Others just leapt out at me as being particularly apropos, or significant, or something.

I’m still figuring out what this is, and what it’s going to be next week and the week after and so on. This is a weird mix. It’s not meant to flow in a certain order, and it’s stripped almost entirely of context, but hopefully you still dig it. Different songs next week. Maybe talking about those songs, too? I dunno. We’ll get there.

Michael Peterson wrote a really good essay on the Beauty & The Beast Unit from Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid 4. If you don’t know the B&B Corps, picture a small group of beautiful women being forced into action on the front lines of war as a special operations group. They’re cyborgs, they’re completely under someone else’s control, and they’re victims. Michael does a great job pointing out why their story is so sad and interesting. I’m a big fan of that game and that group in particular. Even if you aren’t familiar, give it a read. Read Project Ballad, a webcomic he writes and Kevin Czap draws, too. Chapter one is wrapping up, so now’s probably a good time to start binging. They’ve got 80-some free pages up there.

I like this thing, too, by someone I know on Twitter. I just realized I don’t know her real name, but her twitter name is Twerksten Lapid, and that’s pretty cool. It’s about… everything? Nothing? It’s sorta high and low, here and there. I really like the part about suddenly becoming one with the world and marveling at nature and whoops there’s a coyote, poopin’. I also dig “This morning, I am disguised by a pretty dress and a blazer.” It’s a great turn of phrase, very evocative.

This one’s NSFW for nudity, but you should still sneak and read it. This one’s another friend of mine, and she’s writing about a lot of things, too. The lure of objectification, body image… it’s pretty bracingly honest, and it’s about something where there aren’t really right answers (or any answers?), so much as the ways we figure out to survive. I dig this piece a lot. I read it on my phone in Seattle and it stuck with me. Maybe it’ll do the same to you.

I like the look of this Freakestate Kickstarter by Gerald Forton and Drew Ford. Sounds like it’s right up my alley.

Ann Nocenti speaks to Louise Simonson, moderated by Josie Campbell. This is a good interview. I love Nocenti and Simonson, and seeing them rap about the old days is neat.

I wrote a piece on Spider-Man for The Atlantic. I’m playing it off like it’s not a big deal, but it’s kind of a big deal for me?

I wrote about Mark Andrew Smith’s shady behavior on the Sullivan’s Sluggers kickstarter.

I wrote about Yuuki Kodama’s Blood Lad and Kitty Pryde, a combo sure to bore ComicsAlliance readers to death.

I wrote about Jimmie Robinson’s Five Weapons, a pretty good start to an adventure tale.

Y’all see Justified last week? Hooo-wheee. That was an episode.

Open thread. What’re you reading/watching/hearing/enjoying? I thought about doing a Justified discussion thread and I still might maybe, but I think having a weekly open thread would be fun, if y’all are into it.

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This Week in Panels: Week 181

March 10th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Good news, everybody! Rotworld is over! Open up the champagne! Knock over the giant statue of Arcane! We can finally move on!

Welcome to this week’s edition of This Week in Panels, the segment that takes a bunch of comics me and some others have read and cuts them down to size into single panel chunks that best describe what kind of comic you’re going to get. With me are Gaijin Dan, Was Taters, Jody and Space Jawa. Oh, and Matlock, the guy who convinced me to start reading Injustice: Gods Among Us contributed too. Good for him.

The one for Avengers was a hard choice because it’s a really clever issue and I didn’t want to give away the ending. My pick comes off a little ho-hum. It’s still worth checking out.

Also, I had my first Improv 401 performance today. I’ve done better and I’m sure I’ll do worse, but I have two more shows left in the next month and I’m confident I can improve. It seems like I’ll have a video to post in a day or so.

Age of Apocalypse #13
David Lapham, Renato Arlem and Valentine De Landro

All-New X-Men #8 (Gavin’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez

All-New X-Men #8 (Jody’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez

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Crossover Celebration Part 7: Robocop and Terminator Duke it Out Over the Decades

March 7th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

I can’t think of a more fitting mixing of properties than Robocop and Terminator. Both 80’s movies are perfect opposing sides to the same coin. Robocop is a robot on the outside with a human on the inside. Terminator is a human on the outside with a robot on the inside. Robocop is about the extreme dangers of mankind. Terminator is about the extreme dangers of technology. Robocop is a machine bent on protecting humans. Terminators are machines bent on destroying humans. Robocop’s theme rings of optimistic victory. Terminator’s theme rings of impending doom. Robocop saved Sting from the clutches of the Four Horsemen. The Terminator failed to save us from Axl Rose. You get the idea.

There have been two comics about the two sides clashing via two different companies with two decades in-between. One of them is exceptionally good. The other one is not. The first one is by pre-insanity Frank Miller with Walt Simonson on art. That should spell it out pretty easily, I’d say.

The four-part series Robocop vs. the Terminator was released in late 1992 by Dark Horse. It’s released a year after Terminator 2 and just months before Robocop 3, which also has Miller’s name on it… whether he wants it to or not. Interestingly enough, Robocop vs. the Terminator has virtually nothing to do with Terminator 2 despite the movie’s immense popularity. Going further, this isn’t even a traditional crossover in the sense that none of the Terminator cast appear at all. The most we get is references to the adult John Connor. There’s no sign of him, his mother, his father or even the T-1000. The most we get is a T-800 that may or may not have the same appearance as the one from the movies. Though he does steal a blind man’s shades, so I guess it’s supposed to be an Arnold-bot.

It’s a unique mixing of properties where it’s simply Robocop and his world interacting with the world of the Terminator. Not the characters, but the concepts.

Several decades into the future, the war with Skynet is all but finished. The last remaining humans are overwhelmed by the machines and the last survivor is a tough-as-nails female soldier with a bowl-cut named Flo. She uses the diversion of her comrades’ deaths to find out for sure what caused Judgment Day to happen.

Uh oh.

With more robots on their way to get her, Flo drops trou and runs into a time machine. She goes back in time to not-so-distant-future Detroit, where she’s almost run over by a cab driver. Strangely, nobody bats an eye to the fact that she’s nude and instead her inability to look where she’s going (by teleporting in front of a moving car) causes the driver to pull out his gun. Many onlookers get ready for the showdown by taking out their own pieces, but Flo disarms the cabbie and steals his gun. Everyone backs off and goes on with the rest of their day. The thing that really gets Flo about all of this is the very sacrilegious idea that man would threaten man with violence. Then again, Skynet hasn’t happened yet.

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Ask Dr Racism: Blackface, Cosplay, Intent, Reactions, and Responsibility

March 5th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

Personal anecdotes first, talking about blackface later. Chronological order right here:

In kindergarten, this kid I was friends with sang a song to or at me. It went “Jingle bells/Batman smells/Robin laid an egg/Grandma pulled the trigger/and shot a nigger/and Joker got away!” I joked on tumblr that it was the first mash-up because it combined two different songs with the same melody, but in real life I went and got a teacher, who reprimanded him in the limpest way possible.

A few years later, I don’t remember exactly when but young enough for “playing games in the car” to be a thing I still thought was cool, me and my cousin played a game. It went “Chinese mother,” and you pull the corners of your eyelids up. “Japanese father,” and you pull the corners of your eyelids down. “Mixed kid,” and you do one up, and one down. I was in the car with my cousin and grandparents, with my grandfather driving and my grandmother passenger seat driving. And my grandmother, she turned around, right, and she didn’t say anything, but she laid that Look on us. You know the one. It’s kind of looking down the nose with your eyebrows narrowed and your mouth tight. That “I raised you better than that” look, the one that makes you stop what you’re doing cold, apologize, and then never do it again. I’m from a Christian family, and we were raised to do unto others. Be fair, be loving, be honest, be genuine, be right in your life. That stupid joke I picked up from somewhere? Anti-Christian. Full stop. I knew better in the abstract. But not in the specific. I didn’t think it through.

Twenty years later (a complicated and fancy way of saying “a few days ago at Emerald City Comicon”), I found out about a blackface Geordi LaForge cosplayer. I don’t know who he is, and I don’t particularly care, but I did make a joke about it:

And that was it, I think? Maybe an RT somewhere. I had a couple conversations over the weekend about that guy, of the “Did you see him? Can you beLIEVE him?” variety. On Sunday, a couple friends told me there were a blackface Walking Dead troupe, only I was so exhausted I was utterly incapable of figuring out what that meant. I got stuck on “There are black zombies in Walking Dead? What a weird costume, blackface aside,” and sort of forgot about it.

Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool posted about it, and my tweet (proving even my so-so jokes are pretty funny!!!!), and the message board dudes got MAD that I would threaten VIOLENCE against someone who was just trying to have some FUN and show his RESPECT and all types of other all-caps offended-you’re-offended let-me-tell-you-what-racism-really-is internet fedora dude nonsense. So:

I could never figure out a good one, I guess because high concept jokes about the US Marshal Service in film are difficult, but this led to some comic book dudes tweeting at me about it anyway. They had a few points, but I’d heard all of them before, ad nauseam. I’m breaking it up into three sections — intent, offense, and education — which I think covers the spectrum.

Intent: When people bring up intent, they’re talking about what someone meant to do, rather than what they did. And that’s cool, I get it. I didn’t mean to be a dick to Asian peoples when I was a kid. I thought I was just having fun with my cousin. My grandmom knew better and put me in my place.

People intend a lot of things, but the only thing that matters is what they actually do. If what you intended to do is show your respect for someone, and you do it by replicating an incredibly dehumanizing practice, guess what! You’re a jerk. You can be a jerk through ignorance as well as malice. And blackface? Kind of a jerk move.

So no, intent doesn’t matter in this situation. It would be one thing if they were challenging or exploring some idea, as Garth Ennis did in Hellblazer, but they aren’t. They’re dressing up to impress their friends, not comment on our world today.

Shorter version: nobody taking part in that stupid Harlem Shake fad means any harm, but they’re still disrespecting and obscuring the long history of the actual Harlem Shake.

Offense: I’ve had people telling me how offended I get to be when people do offensive things since I was a kid. “It’s just a joke!” is a good one, “they didn’t know any better!” is another. “I hate everyone equally!” is a good’un. But what it comes down to is this: how much something gets to hurt me? That’s an internal process that I honestly don’t have a lot of control over. I can say “I don’t let things bother me,” but that’s a toughguy way of saying “I try to ignore these things that really hurt me inside.” There are some things I don’t care about that are offensive, some I do care about, and that balance isn’t something where I pick and choose. Some jabs hit my kidneys, others my forearms.

But in this case? I keep saying it, but the sum total of me acting on my offense was making jokes about US Marshals. I didn’t go off, I didn’t write an 1655 word essay about blackface, and I still got called upset and condescended to about reactions to offense! YOWZA. It’s “u mad” disguised as “I’m very cool and progressive and positive and you aren’t!”

You can disagree with my response. That’s totally cool. I’ve done/will do that. But c’mon son.

(Another dude said I lost the conversation because I used disrespecting as a verb, and well… if that’s what you say, bruh.)

Education: A different guy, not the condescending guy but another one, said that it was a teaching moment for the lady cosplaying Walking Dead. She’s a good lil gal, never meanin’ no harm. She means well, so why not educate her instead of zinging her to literal death?

That’s a good point, and he’s right. I honestly believe that education is crucial to fixing racism. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t spend Februaries pulling teeth and talking about this stuff with regards to comics until my eyes bleed.

I could have sought out Blackface Geordi or the Alexandra Jolson Walking Dead Trio. I could have explained to them how blackface has been used to lock black entertainers out of the entertainment business. I could have talked about how blackface has been used to dehumanize black people, which in turns makes it easier to think of them as being different and weird and so on. I could talk to them about the utter savagery that America, and the colonies before it, and Europe in general has forced upon the black race, whether African or American or some combo of the two. I could do that in my sleep at this point.

But why does it fall to me to do that? Why does the butt of the joke, the guy who looks at someone “having some innocent fun” that is explicitly something that has been used to destroy and degrade people who look like me? “Listen, maybe if you just told this guy punching you in your guts that it hurts, he’d stop? Maybe he doesn’t know?”

“Boy, if only someone told those colonists that maybe they shouldn’t slaughter native peoples…”

Nah, son. People are going to do what they want to do. Somebody should tell them what’s up. But that ain’t on me. It’s their mess, and I’m expected to clean it up? No. They’ve got parents. They’ve got teachers. They’ve got friends. They’ve got people who love them. Somebody should have told ’em, but expecting me to do it? To always be on call? That requires a retainer, and you can’t afford me.

You don’t have to know the history of race relations to not be a dick about race. That’s this weird reductio ab absurdum argument, where you have to be an expert to know things. You don’t. You just need a friend, or the internet, or to simply think about what you’re doing beyond “is this fun.”

Blackface isn’t obscure. There’s controversy every year about it, whether in movies like Cloud Atlas or some dumb party in some dumb college in some dumb state. It’s not like I’m getting mad (getting “mad”) about somebody not knowing that… I’m trying to think of a really deep cut bit of savagery here… I dunno, it’s not like I’m expecting people to know that Tommy Hilfiger hates blacks (he doesn’t, but for a while we were sure he did) or that there’s ground up glass in Kool cigarettes (ditto). This is basic. It’s in the news. It was in the news the week of the con!

People know about blackface. And if you don’t know, I guarantee somebody you know knows. If you think, even just a little, you’ll figure this stuff out before you step out of your house in a bad makeup job.

The burden of explaining why it’s offensive? That isn’t on me. If I choose to do it, and I have hundreds of time at this point, I’ll do it. But if I choose to make the joke? I’m going to make the joke. And if you choose to tell me that I was wrong for being offended and making that joke? Son, you are turning a corner that you can’t walk back around.

dr racism out.

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Wait, What’s This About DC Killing Damon Wayans?

March 5th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

“Tell the others it’s over, Alfred. Batman. All of it. This madness is over.” – Bruce Wayne, Batman Incorporated #1

The big news of the week is the death of Damian Wayne, latest Robin and son of the Dark Knight himself. Created in an Elseworlds story in the 80’s, the idea of “Bruce and Talia’s kid” showed up in a couple other alternate realities. My favorite of which is Kingdom Come where under the name Ibn al Xu’ffasch, he didn’t do anything of note. They don’t even outright spell it out that it’s Bruce’s kid until the sequel, but like with much of that comic, there’s miles of details to be found throughout. For instance, despite being a part of Lex Luthor’s little cabal against metahumans, it’s strongly suggested that Ibn is a mole working for his father all along.

His subtle storyline leads to one of my favorite little moments in that book. During the end, there’s a page that shows Batman walking through the Batcave, now transformed into a hospital for people affected by a nuclear bomb. All of Luthor’s league are forced to wear control collars as they tend to the sick, except for Ibn. Off to the side, there’s a sequence that tells its own story. Ibn drapes a sheet over a body. He appears broken up over this loss of life, but Bruce stops by to give him a reassuring look.

Ibn also had a mullet. That was a plus.

Anyway, the fully-realized Damian has become a focal point of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. He appeared as something of a villain in the very first story, gradually turning into something a little less evil. He faded into the background for much of the early run and remained a complete bastard, especially towards his “brother” Tim Drake. Also, there was that look to the future in Batman #666 that showed a reality where he would become Batman after supposedly selling his soul to the Devil.

Damian wouldn’t begin to show any real change until Bruce’s supposed death. Battle for the Cowl gets a lot of warranted criticism for being an unnecessary miniseries meant to cash-in on Batman being dead, but there is one sequence I kind of like. Damian steals the Batmobile and takes some unidentified teenage girl for a joyride. Shit goes down, they get split up and Damian finds out that she’s been killed by Killer Croc. It’s actually kind of shocking to see Damian have a horrified reaction to this. By this point, any moments of him working on the side of good has been self-serving, trying to get Bruce’s approval or simply just fighting for the sake of fighting. It’s the first reassuring moment in the character’s history as there’s something resembling humanity being shown.

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This Week in Panels: Week 180

March 3rd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Pfft. Jeff Parker. Who did he ever beat?

Ah, nothing like the first day of vacation. Before I get into the panels, just a quick plug. Next Sunday at 4pm, I’m going to be doing an improv show at the UCBeast in the East Village in New York. If you’re local, come check it out. It’s one of three shows I’ll be doing as part of being in UCB’s Improv 401 class.

To make my mood even better, Marvel just announced that they’re bringing back What If! Fuck yes! My bread and butter!

Got the usual crew this week. Gaijin Dan, Jody, Space Jawa and the photographer of the above picture Was Taters. Let’s get to it!

All-Star Western #17
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Moritat and Staz Johnson

Aquaman #17
Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier

Batman Incorporated #8 (Gavin and Taters’ pick)
Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham and Jason Masters

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Come on in, it’s time to party with Smuckles and Friends

March 1st, 2013 Posted by Gavok

You’re on the internet looking at a site that is about is mostly about is occasionally about comics, so you are probably familiar with Chris Onstad’s Achewood. Originally meant to be about a trio of sentient stuffed animals, it mutated into revolving around a thong-wearing cat with too much money on his hands and his depressed mess of a best friend. It went on for years, gave many laughs, then stopped due to some personal stuff Onstad was going through. It picked back up, sporadic as it had become, but just the other day it was announced that Onstad is shopping around for a channel to get behind an Achewood television series. At first, we got a quick glance of some footage with “Everyday” by Buddy Holly playing.

Now we have a 5-minute proof-of-concept test footage dealy.

I’m down with Roast Beef here, though, “THIS IS SO WACKY!” needs far more oomph. It goes with the “Boomhauer from King of the Hill with the gimmick dialed down by a quarter” voice I always imagined him having. Ray seems a bit off to me. I always figured he sounded like Jeff Bridges. Ah well. I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

If it gets picked up. Please let it get picked up.

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