Archive for June, 2013


This Week in Panels: Week 197

June 30th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Getting closer and closer to the 200th week, it’s This Week in Panels! Got a lot of stuff for this entry, helped out by the likes of Gaijin Dan, Matlock, Was Taters, Space Jawa and Jody, so a big thank you to all of them. Unfortunately, nobody read Captain America this week of all weeks. Not that I expect Jody, since he’s of the Canadian persuasion.

This coming Saturday, I’m going to be performing improv at the UCB East theater in the East Village. So for anybody in New York with time and five bucks to spare, go check it out. Jokes will happen!

Age of Ultron #10AI
Mark Waid and Andre Lima Araujo

All-Star Western #21 (Matlock’s pick)
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Moritat and Staz Johnson

All-Star Western #21 (Gavin’s pick)
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Moritat and Staz Johnson

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Take What You Want: Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring

June 26th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

One thing I really like about TI’s “Front Back” is that he shouts out UGK at the top of the song. It’s not just a regular shout-out, either. He’s explicitly and purposefully trading on their fame by shouting them out as legends and then placing himself and others in the ranks of the “UGK alumni.” “They’re the greatest, they’re legends, and I studied at their feet,” in other words. It feels like he’s snatching a cosign, instead of suggesting or accepting one, because most people are much more subtle about it.

Either way, that stuff really counts. It adds to the verisimilitude of rap songs, something that’s important since these guys are implicitly playing a role on wax and believability makes all the difference. TI’s shouting out UGK on a song with UGK, and that’s got heads rubbing their chin and going “Pocket full of stones… yeah… yeah…” It connects the two in your head, especially so in the case of “Front Back” because the cosigned and cosigners are on the same track together. If you recognize and accept the one, you should do the same for the other.

It happens all the time. Yelawolf said “Bitch, you know I got Bun B in the front seat and we got these boppers on the chrome!/ One time for ya boy Pimp C: POCKET FULL OF STONES!/ Yeah, I got a pocket full of stones ’cause I fell off my dirt bike in cargo pants” on “Good to Go” because it was a way better choice than “I’m a white dude but I like raps too, plus these other established dudes like me and I like them.”

In a scene early on in The Bling Ring, three characters drive to the beach while blasting Rick Ross’s “9 Piece” (NSFW video here). It starts around the line that goes “MJG, bitch, I got 8Balls” before segueing into the Suave House shout-out and eventually fading out. It really tripped me out, because while I could see the cast of the film–abstractly wealthy kids in Calabasas, CA–banging Ross on their way somewhere, I had a harder time believing they’d be specifically yelling the part that shouts out 8Ball & MJG or being into anything Suave House. That feels like inside baseball to me, the rap equivalent of making a joke about Cypher from New Mutants. It’s prejudice, obviously, but my mental picture of that specific type of person doesn’t really involve them being into Memphis rap. I’m not particularly into the song (there are better MJG/8Ball references to be had elsewhere), but I liked seeing that specific stretch of the song in the movie. It’s Ross showing off his bonafides, bonafides that are entirely fictional and thus remarkably apropos for this movie. He’s an actor acting as if he has the cred his forebears do, and the actors in the film are buying into his hype and using it to generate hype of their own, or maybe just to get hype.

The presence of that song in the beginning came back into my mind further into the movie, as I was beginning to realize exactly how much of the soundtrack would be rap songs that I own or have intentionally enjoyed (Twelve rap songs in all, including Frank Ocean, and I knew seven and would have heard an eighth if I still listened to leaks). Like TI borrowed cred from UGK, like Ross borrowed from 8Ball and MJG, The Bling Ring borrows cred from rap music. There’s a lot of dance music in the movie, but the way the rap music is deployed (Kanye’s “Power” plays over the type of scene you’d expect, Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids” plays over the credits, “All of the Lights” has a singalong, “212” plays in a hip club context) it’s associated with edginess, victory, the good life, fabulous crime or violence, and almost everything else that particular sort of rap is associated with.

A lot of the reason I like Rick Ross’s Teflon Don as much as I do, despite not really messing with Ross on a regular basis, is that it’s full of well-told tales of guilt-free and consequence-free crime. Ross-the-character does what he wants when he wants, and there’s something very enjoyable about that. It draws people in, myself included, and that aspirational aspect is part of why Ross is so much of a success.

The Bling Ring clicked for me when I realized that the celebrity culture Sofia Coppola was indicting has a similar effect on the cast of the movie. They want to be on, and the people who are most visibly “on” are Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Kirsten Dunst, and Megan Fox. There’s a similar type of aspirational motivation at work, and it’s easy to draw a line between, say, my wanting that confederate flag belt Andre 3000 wore in the “Ms. Jackson” video or watching a video of 2 Chainz getting robbed in San Francisco and Becca Ahn–played to the hilt by Katie Chang–taking note of the latest star to get caught drunk driving and wanting to wear what Lindsay wears, even if she has to go into Lindsay’s house to get it.

There are several sequences, usually after a break-in, that show the characters wearing their stolen goods and posting them to Instagram and Facebook. They’re showing off. They take incessant pictures while in the club when they aren’t spotting celebrities. They vamp in front of each other and the internet. Coppola, in conversation with Lee Radziwill, said, “When I go to a concert, everyone is filming and photographing themselves and then posting the pictures right away. It is almost as if your experiences don’t count unless you have an audience watching them.”

She means it as an indictment, but I don’t see it that way any more. A line from Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past comes to mind, Jeff Bailey saying “Nothing in the world is any good unless you can share it.” It’s my favorite movie and that’s one of the lines that’s stuck with me the most since I first saw it in school. It works for romance and friendship alike. Sometimes you want to share something’s majesty because you love someone else and want them to have that experience and sometimes you want to share it because you want confirmation that it’s dope. The two are twisted up with each other, almost to the point that the difference between them is academic. It’s selfish, sure, in a way, but utterly natural and sensible.

The Facebook shots in The Bling Ring struck me as being a clever way to show what was happening, instead of just saying it. What do you want to do when you get something new? You want to wear it immediately, you want to show it to people, you want them to compliment it and tell you how cool it is. It’s a twist on the quote from Out of the Past, but not much of one. When I finish this piece, I’m probably going to send it to a few trusted friends to read, and my hope is that they’ll enjoy it. After that, I’ll put it on this website. I don’t have to–I wrote this because I needed to organize my thoughts on the movie and essays are the easiest way to do that outside of conversation–but I want to share it. From sharing comes conversation, support, and a gang of other things I’m invested in.

All of this would be well-executed, but hollow, if not for the actors in the film. Chang’s Becca impressed me the most out of all the cast. There’s an emptiness to her that I enjoyed, a sense that she does things simply because she wants to do them, and consequences aren’t even on her radar. It isn’t heartlessness, though that was the first word to come to my mind, so much as “might makes right” played out on a different battlefield. “But I want it” as golden rule. She’s remarkably pretty, almost distractingly so, and I think that only adds to the effect. She’s the picture of a modern femme fatale. (Jane Greer’s Kathie Moffat is the classic femme fatale for me, for very similar reasons.)

Israel Broussard’s Marc is a close second for me. He’s more or less the main character of the film, and Broussard balances the anxiety, love, and fun of the character very well. There’s a brief glimpse in the trailer of him dancing and goofing off with the girls, and he’s got a specific pose and smile that’s split between being goofy and loving life that killed me. The webcam scene, everything about the shoes, all of it felt real in a very warm and welcoming way.

There’s a lot of intentional comedy in The Bling Ring, more than I expected. The introductory shots of Paris Hilton’s house got a rising laugh out of the audience I saw the movie with, as we realized that 1) Hilton’s face is all over her house, like a musician who only plays his own records when he invites people over and 2) she has a lot of stuff. It felt like every scene in that house revealed a secret door, hidden box, or drawer full of jewels on top of all the ridiculous possessions that dot the house.

At one point, in a scene that struck me for its use of color as much as the (mostly-silent) acting, we watch a character eating while sirens play in the distance. The camera stays still as we watch the eater, their family, and pets going about their business. It clicks for us before it does for them–cops are coming. The scene goes on almost uncomfortably long, though it was probably just thirty seconds or a minute. It’s put-a-smile-on-your-face funny.

I didn’t find myself disgusted or troubled by the Bling Ring. I expected a little friction between my prejudices, tastes, and the movie itself. I was surprised to see aspects of myself and my friends reflected in these characters. Claire Julien’s Chloe was the most street-smart of the gang, and also the one most likely to be like “Hey, bitches” or use slang a certain way. Emma Watson’s Nicki was a lot of fun, too, a girl who rolls her eyes through life and its obstacles while looking for a chance to get big by any means. I know and have known Marcs, Beccas, Nickis, and Chloes.

My reaction to The Bling Ring was way more positive than I expected. I bailed out of Girls pretty much as soon as Lena Dunham asked her parents for rent money, but this movie full of pretty people doing petty things really worked for me. They go to the bad school in town–Becca for dealing drugs, Marc because he was home-schooled and needs to catch up–but their school is much nicer than the good schools where I’m from. They’re young, well-off, and if you know the real story, you know how little jail time they got for stealing millions of bucks worth of stuff. There’s a lot in here that should’ve ruined the movie for me, but the aggregate and execution were on point. The Bling Ring is a low-key feel-good crime movie, like Rick Ross’s lyrics, where people do big things for the sake of doing them and brag about it later.

One last point: The Bling Ring has a title that derives from BG’s “Bling Bling,” featuring the Big Tymers and Hot Boys. The entire point of the song is getting something new and showing it off to the squares. “I pull up in a Expedition, they be like ah no, no, no he didn’t!/ Tattoos and fast cars, do you know who we are?” It would’ve been entirely too on-the-nose to fit it into The Bling Ring, even moreso than “Super Rich Kids,” but you know what? It’s the movie in miniature.

I often think of rap culture as being a black and brown thing, something we co-created and co-own with just a few others, but that isn’t really true now that we’re decades past the origins of rap. This stuff bleeds into the culture, whether it’s Miley Cyrus with golds in her mouth or a movie about a real group of burglars sporting a name that derives from one of the hottest songs from 1999. It’s bigger than hip-hop.

Related links:
Sofia Coppola’s Journey Into the Heart of Low-Culture Darkness, by Emily Yoshida
In Conversation | Lee Radziwill and Sofia Coppola, on Protecting Privacy
Girls in Hoodies Podcast: The Bling Ring, This Is the End, and Rape Jokes, with Molly Lambert, Tess Lynch, and Emily Yoshida
“Compton, USA made me an angel on angel dust” [Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city] by me
Sofia Coppola and Brian Reitzell, by Carrie Battan
-Rick Ross – “BMF”
-Rick Ross – “I’m Not A Star”
-8Ball & MJG – Pimp Hard”
-UGK – Pocket Full of Stones”

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The Top 200 Fighting Game Endings: Part Nine

June 25th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

40) Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe – SUB-ZERO

Sub-Zero gets the special treatment in the big DC crossover game. He’s the only guy on the Mortal Kombat side who’s aloud to take down Batman in a straight fight in the story mode. The story mode also paints a picture of Sub-Zero being a guy who’s unsure of what it is he should be doing. He’s more virtuous than what his ninja clan stands for, but he’s also the odd man out when it comes to the other defenders of Earthrealm. Nobody trusts him to do the right thing, but he does want to do the right thing.

Inspired by Batman, Sub-Zero decides to use his efforts to being a cape-wearing vigilante who creeps through the darkness and cold to crush evil wherever it lies. This way he can be a good guy and defend Earthrealm without having to put up with Liu Kang and the others. The Lin Kuei doesn’t take the desertion well and much like Batman, Sub-Zero will now have to contend with a pissed off league of assassins trying to hunt him down.

39) Skullgirls – PEACOCK

Peacock is the one character in Skullgirls who has a personal connection with the final boss Marie (otherwise known as the Skullgirl). Patricia was mutilated by the mafia and her friend Marie, in all her sadness and anger, found the Skull Heart and wished for revenge. She’s since started massacring the mafia, while at the same time, becoming more and more of a puppet for the Skull Heart’s evil and turning into something increasingly demonic. Patricia was rebuilt as Peacock to destroy Marie, augmented with reality-bending cybernetics. Due to her own shattered psyche over what she’s gone through and her love for cartoons, Peacock takes the form of an old-timey cartoon character and fights with cartoon physics.

Peacock confronts Marie and tries to talk her down to no avail. Marie shows off that she even took out the man who nearly killed Peacock and started this mess. Still, Peacock knows that Marie is fighting a losing war for her soul and it’s only a matter of time before the Skull Heart takes over completely and makes her unstoppable. Peacock defeats her friend and as part of her victory, is offered the Skull Heart. She’s able to make any wish her heart desires, but why do that when she’s already the strongest?

Marie is still alive, but is falling to pieces by the second. She apologizes for all she’s done. Peacock smiles and forgives her, saying that they’ll always be friends. Besides, now that she’s fulfilled her purpose of destroying the Skullgirl, she can find a new purpose in continuing where Marie left off, killing off mobsters left and right. Marie feels happy about this and burns to nothing.

Peacock makes good on her promise and takes out most of the mafia. With only a couple left, she goes after a mobster named Lorenzo. Lorenzo has something up his sleeve with his enforcer Black Dahlia. It ends with Peacock and Dahlia going at it.

You know what’s crazy? In an ending where our hero kills her best friend, it’s still the most optimistic ending in such an otherwise colorful and wacky game.

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This Week in Panels: Week 196

June 23rd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Welcome! It’s time again for This Week in Panels. A good sprinkling of random stuff this week, brought to us by myself, Matlock, Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa and Jody. Jawa has another My Little Pony comic panel included, meaning like clockwork, someone in the comments will complain about it.

While Batman and _____ has become inadvertently hilarious after Robin’s death, this issue takes the cake. Not that it tops the time Batman cut apart Frankenstein to see if he can use the same technology to turn Damian into the patchwork undead, but it’s the timing. Snyder’s Batman has shown him out of control and mad at himself, but there’s a sense of grounded sympathy in there and Batman’s shown as trying to work through it. Morrison’s Batman Incorporated shows Batman dealing with his grief via going over-the-top ridiculous in his attacks on Talia. Not to mention, both of those comics are taking breaks from all of that. Batman is doing Year Zero while Incorporated did a one-off about the Japanese Batman.

So when I see Batman’s still being an unbelievable super prick in Batman and Batgirl, I can’t help but think, “Oh yeah… Damian’s dead, isn’t he.”

Now panels.

Age of Ultron #10 (Jody’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and various others

Age of Ultron #10 (Matlock’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and various others

Animal Man #21
Jeff Lemire, Steve Pugh and Francis Portela

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The Top 200 Fighting Game Endings: Part Eight

June 22nd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

60) Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side – SENATOR

When Eternal Champions was upgraded into its Challenge from the Dark Side form, they introduced a lot of new characters. Some were other fallen would-be heroes from throughout history. Some were playable animals. There was even Death himself, who had mysteriously lost his status. The most memorable new guy was the Senator, a spoof on the government focus on violent video games and a headswap of Larcen Tyler.

The Senator was a selfish, corrupt politician who sold out to all the corporations and special interest groups until making an actual humane decision for once and being rejected by his Republican brethren. He ran as an independent and lost by a landslide, causing him to die of a heart attack. In the game, his fighting style is described as “Dishonesty”, which includes throwing red tape, banning violence and turning invisible while yelling, “I AM NOT A CROOK!”

Given a second chance, he calms down his heart rate and gives a concession speech where he admits his own wrongdoing, but also incriminates the other fat cats in Washington. This takes the world by storm and a mulligan election is demanded. Truly, this man has learned his lesson and will bring true political reform to the government!

Only a flood of scandals come out about the Senator, such as how he hires illegal immigrants, has sold military secrets to other countries and has a mistress in each state. It ruins his political career, but he still comes out a winner due to his budding career of writing books, selling the movie rights and appearing on talkshows for the rest of his life.

59) Mortal Kombat 9 – RAIN

People joke about Raiden being a complete, destructive dumbass during the course of the Mortal Kombat reboot, but at the end of the day, he did win. Sure, all the good guys other than himself, Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade are dead and the world is easy pickings for fallen god Shinnok, but at least he succeeded in stopping Shao Kahn for good, right? Maybe the idea that Raiden being a dunce is overblown. Maybe…

Rain’s story is that he’s the adopted son of an Edenian general who fell to Shao Kahn years ago. Rain had trained with the Edenian resistance, but grew arrogant due to his own skills and was offended that he didn’t get his own army to lead. He betrayed his people to join Shao Kahn, but in his ending, he turns on Kahn for refusing to give him his own army, as agreed. Not the most heroic of reasons by any means, but he got the job done and that’s worth something, right?

Raiden congratulates Rain and considers his actions heroic and befitting of a man of his bloodline. Raiden brings it to Rain’s attention that he is the long-lost son of Argus, a god of Edenia and Raiden’s counterpart as that realm’s protector. In a moment that’s meant to inspire Rain to greatness, it has a different effect.

Seeing that he’s a demigod, Rain figures that domination is his birthright, so he finally gets his own army by taking over where Shao Kahn left off. He conquers Earthrealm as a first step in overtaking all reality.

Thanks a lot, Raiden!

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The Top 200 Fighting Game Endings: Part Seven

June 18th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

80) Tekken Tag Tournament 2 – SEBASTIAN

Tekken Tag 2 has a roster of nearly every Tekken character ever and when it came time for downloadable content, they tried to fill in every gap possible. That included including Sebastian, Lili’s elderly and loyal butler. Fittingly, he fights just like her.

His ending has a neat chiaroscuro style where it’s in black and white with only whiteness for the background. All we can see are the limo, Sebastian and Lili. Lili sits in silence, obviously too annoyed for words. Sebastian drives and offers to calm her down with some music. He turns on the radio and hears a ecstatic DJ.

“The results of the last tournament are in! No one expected that this wildcard would appear from out of nowhere to claim the top prize! Yes, we’re talking about Sebastian! Who could’ve imagined this would happen? But ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a new martial arts champion!”

Sebastian begins to panic as Lili remains silently pissed. Sebastian keeps changing the radio station, but on every station, people are excitedly talking about how he won the King of Iron Fist tournament and that he’s this amazing inspiration. Growing increasingly afraid, Sebastian starts attacking the radio itself.

The radio is turned off and they reach their destination. Sebastian lets Lili out and she takes a second to begrudgingly congratulate him on his win. Sebastian, relieved, thanks her.

79) Street Fighter Alpha 3 – GUILE

I touched on this last article, but one of the annoying things about the Street Fighter Alpha endings was how by being a prequel, it locks certain storytelling options. For instance, Chun-Li can defeat Bison, but then he’ll just get up and hospitalize her because he’s going to survive into Street Fighter II. The worst offender for all of this was Charlie. Charlie was known before this game as that guy who Guile had to avenge. That meant Charlie had to die.

Until the next game, where they’d bring him back because the last game no longer counted. And they’d kill him again.

The problem was that Charlie kept dying like a punk. In the first Alpha, he defeats Bison and gets on his walky-talky. This gives Bison the chance to get back up, pounce onto him and kill him. Then in Alpha 2, Charlie defeats Bison and gets gunned down by a military helicopter whose pilot was bought off by Shadaloo. Charlie falls off a cliff, presumably to his death. While X-Men vs. Street Fighter was never going to be canon, his ending is simply that he’s captured by Shadaloo and painfully tortured to death. The poor guy doesn’t even get to die with dignity.

(Yeah, yeah, I know that X-Men vs. Street Fighter one led to him becoming Shadow in the sequels, but that was retroactive context)

Guile’s storyline in Alpha 3 is that he’s sent to go find his good friend Charlie and bring him home from his mission because he’s too personally invested. There’s probably some unsaid political corruption in there too that Guile doesn’t know about. He finds Charlie and subdues him, but tells him that he still understands the importance of the mission and will help out, even if he isn’t the hero Charlie is. He defeats Bison, who slinks off to go recharge his batteries.

Guile and Charlie look around the Shadaloo base, find the room with the Psycho Drive and plant a whole bunch of bombs. Bison appears and badly wounds Charlie, laughing about how pets are worthless once they have their own free will. He flies at Guile to finish him off with the Psycho Crusher, but Charlie intercepts him.

Charlie orders him to leave before the place goes up. Guile escapes, seeing the Shadaloo base reduced to a mushroom cloud. From there, he and Chun-Li lament the loss of Charlie. Guile tries to believe that Charlie is still alive somewhere out there.

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monday mixtape kryptonite

June 17th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

I was telling a friend last night that I don’t think I’ll ever stop being impressed by rap. I was talking specifically about the lyrics at that point, but it goes for beats, too. There’s always gonna be something to rock my world. Example:

Left Brains produced this Hodgy Beats joint, making it a de facto Mellowhype song. “Sale” sounds tinny and bad on Youtube for some reason, but the bass is way deeper on my headphones. My first thought was “I need to hear this in a car” when the beat started up and that bassy rumble started. I don’t think I was expecting a beat like this on Hodgy’s Untitled 2, which made it even more hot.

Over on the lyrical side of things, Fabolous has bars. I’ve listened to “We Get High” from The Soul Tape 2 dozens of times at this point. Video:

My favorites are at the top of the second verse. “How high? How high? Just came from the O.G. man/ My eyes so Redman, that M-E-T-H-O-D, Man!”

The skill needed to make good weed songs is an increasingly rare talent. Curren$y can knock them out, maybe, but most cats are slacking. Fab, right here? He’s doing pretty good.

-I read and enjoyed Cheryl Lynn talking about that new Kanye. She’s right about Yeezus, I think. The beats are super hot, or at least interesting/baffling in an interesting way when they aren’t hot, but Kanye is just not good enough lyrically. He’s not that dude. And it’s starting to show.

-I read and enjoyed Jeff Parker talking about Man of Steel. I haven’t seen it, but he makes it sound like a movie I’d want to see.

-I read and enjoyed a Jog two-fer–first an old look at Frank Miller’s The Spirit and Zach Snyder’s Sucker Punch, and then a piece on After Earth, Watchmen, Man of Steel, and more besides. I’ve only seen Sucker Punch and The Spirit, so I guess today is the day I recommended essays about movies I haven’t seen.

I posted this last year, but I put “dice-k” up on my stories site. One night in the life of a yakuza, shortly after the death of his uncle.

-It’s been slow running here on my part as I get caught up with this new job. I’d intended to write this weekend, but instead I saw a movie, bought some clothes, and managed to spend Father’s Day sleeping and playing Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker. Much-needed weekend of nothing, I think, but now it’s time to get back at it. Full service to resume if not this week, then next.

This Is The End was really, really funny. Michael Cera stole the show, then Danny McBride stole it back, and then James Franco snatched it away in the final minutes.

Open thread. What’re you reading/watching/hearing/enjoying?

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This Week in Panels: Week 195

June 16th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Welcome to Scott Snyder in Panels, considering we’ve got six of those and four of them in a row to start. My peeps are Gaijin Dan, Jody, Was Taters, Space Jawa and Matlock. Matlock gives me a panel for Injustice: Gods Among Us that goes against my “no final page” clause, but it’s Injustice (meaning who cares?) and it’s a great panel.

I did make sure to enforce my “splash pages don’t equal panels” clause, which is a shame, as Venom features a page where Flash Thompson uses his symbiote on a car. Yes, there is a Venom-Mobile with teeth and a license plate that says “AGENT VENOM”. It’s beautiful.

To think that in the last couple years, Marvel’s been able to take all of worst parts of Spider-lore and make them work. Kaine, the Other, Carnage and now the idea of a spider-based car. Maybe soon we’ll see Lady Ock do something impressive.

American Vampire: The Long Road to Hell
Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque

Batman #21 (Jody’s pick)
Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, James Tynion IV and Rafael Albuquerque

Batman #21 (Taters’ pick)
Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, James Tynion IV and Rafael Albuquerque

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Guide to the Injustice Roster: DLC Appendix 4

June 13th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

While E3 is mostly remembered for the shellacking Sony is giving to Microsoft (oh my God!), they’ve also shown off the fourth DLC character for Injustice: Gods Among Us. Then Conan O’Brien got to feature the reveal on his show, making it official. This will be the last character for the season pass, but there are strong hints that we’ll be getting more in the future. Martian Manhunter, definitely.


Alias: Dru-Zod
First Appearance: Adventure Comics #283 (1961)
Powers: You know all that crap Superman does? He does that.
Other media: Other than his obvious movie appearances, he’s sort-of-but-not-quite appeared in the cartoons, Smallville and was in both a novel the Last Days of Krypton and a choose-your-own adventure book I remember owning when I was 8

I can’t think of a comic character who owes more to an actor’s portrayal than General Zod. It’s not like all the other memorable villain portrayals like Lex Luthor, Bane and Joker. If it wasn’t for Terence Stamp, not a single person would give a damn about Zod except for writers who love tossing in obscure supervillains that only the hardcore have heard of before.

Zod appeared in the early days of the Silver Age where he looked like M. Bison dressed in green while forgetting to wear pants. He was charged with trying to take over Krypton with his army of Bizarro soldiers and got sentenced to 40 years in the Phantom Zone, the dimensional prison of no escape (except when someone escapes). Superboy found out about that and released Zod once his time was up. Zod tried to take over Earth a handful of times and constantly got tossed back into the Phantom Zone. Since he was a soldier, he had an edge over Superman and was one of the few Silver Age characters who was stronger than the Man of Steel.

Superman II came out in 1980 and led to more appearances by Zod. Nothing memorable to mention, really. The Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot kicked in and DC practically took Zod off the table. With continuity made simple, there were some ground rules to Post-Crisis DC. For one, Superman had to be the ONLY Kryptonian. He was the Last Son of Krypton. That was his thing! So of course, within two years of this change, writer John Byrne decided to introduce Zod and Supergirl. Luckily, he had an out. They were from an alternate universe! …Except DC mandated that there could be no more alternate universes. That was the problem that got them into having to write Crisis in the first place. Byrne instead claimed they were from a “pocket dimension”. How that makes it right, I have no idea.

In this “pocket dimension”, Zod’s basic storyline still happened, only he killed Superboy with the help of his lieutenants Quex-Ul (essentially Non) and Faora (essentially Ursa) and annihilated much of the planet. Superman was asked to help out and defeated the three via exposing them to gold kryptonite, which permanently removed their powers. Zod warned Superman that they’d get their powers back, find out where he lived and kill his planet. Superman decided he had a point and killed the three with green kryptonite just to be sure. Then he moped around for a while because of it. Also, Supergirl came back with him, but she was manmade, so it didn’t step on the “no Kryptonians” edict.

DC Comics tried so, so hard to make Zod relevant again over the years. After all, he was the villain from the last good Superman movie. They had to make him a big deal in the comics. They came up with certain weird ideas. Or should I say other weird ideas.

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The Top 200 Fighting Game Endings: Part Six

June 12th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

100) Marvel vs. Capcom 3 – MIKE HAGGAR

Zangief is great and all, but I never understood why Japan never played up Mike Haggar. Maybe it’s a cultural thing where Americans think Mike Haggar is the shit while the Japanese don’t find him all that impressive. Cody and Guy got to be incorporated into Street Fighter while Haggar’s only been allowed cameo roles (not counting being in Saturday Night Slam Masters). Seeing him included in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 had me stoked.

Beating up Galactus, Eater of Worlds, with nothing more than his bare hands and a pipe, Mike Haggar is visited in his office by Captain America and Chris Redfield. The two are just checking in, but are also a bit afraid that Haggar is burning the candle at both ends. His political career is taking off more than ever and that mixed with being the world’s foremost ass-kicker can’t be healthy. Haggar laughs it off and says he’s fine.

It’s spelled out that Haggar has been elected President of the United States with Tony Stark as his Vice President. I’m not sure how this works, considering they’re from two separate worlds. Is he President of both versions of the US? Did Stark just make the switch? Is this a separate Tony Stark from the Capcom world? Who knows? Either way, I fully support this ticket.

Haggar explains that as a professional wrestler, he’s driven by the roar of the crowd. Whether it’s in the ring, on the campaign trail, on the streets or even against galactic super gods, all Haggar needs is the fans cheering him and he’ll always have the strength to be the man. Captain America’s morale for democracy is pumped up for at least another 20 years.

99) Mortal Kombat 9 – LIU KANG/SHANG TSUNG

It took well over a decade before Midway/Netherrealm Studios could make Liu Kang in any way interesting. After years of being the bland never-loses hero of the Mortal Kombat series, they first killed him off, then turned him into a shambling zombie, then did that non-canon thing where Raiden turned him into Captain Marvel and then found a more permanent fix with the latest Mortal Kombat game. There, Raiden circa Mortal Kombat 1 gets visions of the future and a cryptic message that, “He must win!” At first he figures that means Liu Kang must win, but that doesn’t seem to be helping change the future.

Raiden’s attempts to alter the timeline lead to acts of buffoonery, desperation and massive death and as it goes on, Liu Kang goes from being mildly annoyed to violently disgusted. Especially when Kitana is killed off. In Liu’s ending, he decides that Raiden has to go. He stands up to the Elder Gods and requests that he takes Raiden’s place as Defender of Earthrealm. The status is decided via a duel and Liu Kang wins, presumably killing Raiden. He’s then empowered by the Elder Gods into being the God of Fire.

Shang Tsung’s ending coincides with these events. He kills Shao Kahn and takes all of the souls Kahn has devoured. Only it’s too much for him. Shang’s a good sorcerer, but he’s overwhelmed and nearly driven to madness. He’s about to kill himself when Bo’ Rai Cho, the master fighter who once trained Liu Kang, seeks him out at the last second. Master Cho can teach Shang to control his powers and master the souls that are currently tearing him apart. In return, he needs to take care of Liu Kang. Ever since becoming a god, Liu has become a total tyrant and needs stopping. Shang is seen as the lesser of two evils and goes through rigorous training to save Earthrealm via getting his revenge.

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