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Crossover Celebration Part 4: Mortal Kombat vs. the DC Universe

November 11th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Ever since Marvel and Capcom released X-Men vs. Street Fighter, nearly everyone said that there needed to be a fighting game that pit Mortal Kombat against the DC characters. Many were joking, but a couple were dead serious. Some of the laughs were directed at how ill-fitting it would be, despite being the natural follow-up to the Marvel vs. Capcom stuff. Marvel and Capcom at least felt right together. Marvel feels more down-to-earth and many of its more popular characters are more street-level, making such matchups as Wolverine vs. Ryu seem natural. Mortal Kombat has a stigma of blood and guts while the public sees DC as the more squeaky-clean of the big comic companies.

The night prior to the 2008 New York Comic Con, this image was released to the public.

And I didn’t get any sleep because oh my God. They were really going to make this?! Really?!

The more I thought about it and the closer the game came to release, I started to come around to the idea of these two worlds mixing it up. DC has gotten far darker and bloodier over the years and Mortal Kombat – despite its many problems – is still home to a pretty strong sense of mythological identity. There have been bad games, bad movies, bad comics, bad TV shows and more, but there’s still an allure to the franchise outside of the blood and guts. When they make it work, it really goes the full mile. Like the latest game, for instance.

It’s noticeable how the two sides don’t exactly match up so well head-to-head. Sub-Zero and Batman aren’t really all that alike. There are only a few pairings that truly work in that aspect. Like even though Deathstroke and Baraka are rivals in the game, Deathstroke has more in common with Kano as a one-eyed, top-notch assassin. Then there’s the perfect pairing of Johnny Cage and Booster Gold, making it a huge shame that neither shows up in the game at all.

The other big pairing that works perfectly is Mortal Kombat’s Shao Kahn and DC’s Darkseid. As far as I’m concerned, the two share the same level of threat, badass and stature. They each hold onto their own realm as feared tyrants and wish to extend their grasp, blocked only by easily-twistable rules. Darkseid has his truce with the people of New Genesis while Shao Kahn must fulfill the rights of Mortal Kombat in order to move forward. It was only natural that they’d make these guys the main villains of the crossover.

Still, there were questions. How would these two sides clash? Why would they fight when the rosters are mostly good guys? How can you have Kano beat up Superman and act like it’s a thing that makes sense? Hell, forget about the Mortal Kombat guys! How is Joker vs. Superman supposed to make sense?!

Luckily, Midway put the how and why in some good hands with DC writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. The team known for breathing life into Jonah Hex and Power Girl would write the game’s Story Mode. Meanwhile, the collector’s edition of the game would feature a piece of cover art by big-time comic artist Alex Ross.

Seeing Scorpion and the gang in Alex Ross style is still so surreal.

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Wondercon Wrap-up!

April 6th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

If you asked me to sum up my Wondercon experience in a couple of short, witty phrases, I’d just tell you that I ate six pieces of pizza over the course of two days and that I spent more on karaoke than I did on anything even remotely comic-related.

That’s not the full experience, though. It was an interesting con for me, due in no small part to the ongoing evolution in the way I approach comics, and being a fan of comics. I got no signatures, no sketches, no freebies. I paid for three books and got one for free. I spent maybe twenty-five whole dollars at the con, a drastic decrease from the usual foolishness I get down to. I’ll get to that, though.

I left work a couple hours early on Friday to hit the con and get my pass. It was painless, with less than two people in line ahead of me. Other than my pass saying “4thletter!/Popcultureshock.com” for some reason, it was easy like Sunday morning.

I figured I’d walk the length of the hall from wall to wall, but the first thing I did at the con was find Matt Maxwell, Jeff Lester, and Heidi MacDonald chit-chatting in Artist’s Alley/Small Press. I killed some time with them for a while, talking about the con and comics, and that more or less set the tone for the con.

I spent a lot of time talking to people about comics and only attended a few panels. I stopped in on the DC Nation panel because a few friends (Esther, JK Parkin, Graeme McMillan, Carla Hoffman, Laura Hudson, a couple others) were there. It was, in a word, abysmal. They completely flubbed looking like they had any idea what they were doing with digital comics, there was a lot of “Wait and see,” there were a few “Wait until San Diego” answers… it was boring. I liked when someone asked about plans for Nightwing and got a succinct “Yeah, he’s Batman” in response, and I love that Dark Knight: Boy Wonder got announced, but it was a snoozer. I had a similar experience at the Marvel panel I accidentally attended the next day, again because friends were in effect and I had an opening in my schedule. I spent most of it poring over Darwyn Cooke’s The Man With the Getaway Face.

I attended a couple panels that were cool. The Greg Rucka spotlight moderated by Laura was a trip and well worth the price of admission. It was in a huge room, for some reason. The Boom! Studios panel was also pretty good, and Ian Brill seemed genuinely excited to be writing Darkwing Duck.


There was a Disney Comics superfan in the audience, too, who kept interrupting to ask about minutiae. At the end of the panel, I went up to say hi to Ian, and as I turned to leave, the superfan was right behind me. He was mumbling something about how we should print the Disney newspaper strips in black and white and not colorize them and something something Carl Barks. I tried to tell him I wasn’t part of Boom!, that that was the other black guy in the room, but he just said, “Yes, yes, but I think that…” and kept going. I shrugged and walked away while he was talking. I’m not getting trapped in an infinite conversation ever again, and that definitely had the makings of one.

(You ever had one of those? When someone keeps going and going and you can’t find a polite way to excuse yourself because they’re so focused that all they want to do is talk about whatever? Yeah. Infinite conversations. They’re gonna be the death of somebody one day.)

I attended the Black Cartoonists as Social Commentators panel, too. It was good, but the moderator was a little too overbearing. It was clear he had a very clear and academic formula he wanted to follow, but Keith Knight and Darrin Bell are hilarious, personable, and have great anecdotes. I would’ve much preferred to see them let loose with a conversation about themselves and their work. The glimpses we got were great, though, and if you aren’t reading either, get familiar. Bell’s story about how he was getting hate mail after hate mail before Hurricane Katrina and zilch after… that was a good one. It was a good panel.

I spent most of my time walking around with friends like Lauren Davis and Ana, digging in the various half off book booths and looking for stuff to buy. I didn’t buy much, as I said before, in part because I know exactly how much stuff is sitting on my coffee table, waiting to be read. I stuck to books I knew I’d love and get to relatively soon. This means I missed out on deep discounted hardcovers, but that’s okay. I think.
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Fourcast! 30: Last Week In Comics

January 25th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-Chad Nevett on the intro
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music
-Review show! We haven’t done one of these in a while.
-Joe Casey and Ardian Syaf’s Superman/Batman #68
-Ed Brubaker and Luke Ross’s Captain America #602 & Sean McKeever and David Baldeon’s Nomad backup
-Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner’s Power Girl #8
-Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy’s Joe the Barbarian #1
-Sholly Fisch, Robert Pope, and Scott McRae’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold #13
-Art Baltazar and Franco’s Tiny Titans #24
-And out!

Subscribe to the Fourcast! via:
-Podcast Alley feed!
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Jumping on Empowered and Jonah Hex

December 7th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Two releases last week ended up being great jumping on points for titles that actually deserve it. Rather than being a back to basics issue (which tend to be pretty bland) or exposition hour, these two just present their series as-is, and let you come to your own conclusions about it.

Jonah Hex is written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, and is fifty issues deep. On the art side, it’s been blessed with issues by Luke Ross, Tony DeZuniga, Phil Noto, Paul Gulacy, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Art Thibert, Phil Noto, JH Williams III, Val Semeik, and Darwyn Cooke, but most of all, Jordi Bernet is the regular artist. The only DC Comics that looks better than Hex month in, month out, is Greg Rucka and JH Williams III’s Detective Comics.

Hex #50 is a one-shot tale, like almost the entirety of the series. The artist this time around is Darwyn Cooke, who you should already be familiar with. It features Jonah Hex, of course, his on-again, off-again lady friend Tallulah Black (a great name made greater by the fact that I used to live on Tallulah Trail years and years ago), and a whole mess of bad guys that need killing. It hits almost all of Hex‘s main points: brutal killing, Hex being a bastard, a little bit of black humor, and incredible art.

Hex is a series that I purchase mainly in trades. I know that it is going to deliver a good experience each time I drop ten bucks on a trade, but I went ahead and picked up this issue because of the anniversary and its extra size. I wasn’t disappointed at all. It was a great issue among good issues and definitely worthy of the expanded size.

Adam Warren‘s Empowered is another series I enjoy a lot, and Empowered: The Wench with a Million Sighs is a great introduction to the series. The story is an examination of the various sighs that Empowered employs in her life, be they out of frustration or of a baser nature. It’s laugh out loud funny, with a mix of both raunchy jokes and clever gags.

The Wench with a Million Sighs feels like a single chapter out of one of the larger Empowered volumes, which is definitely a good thing. As far as getting to know the book goes, this has everything. The humor, action, and personality that make Empowered great are in full effect. Emp spends the book fighting Irresistimovable while her boyfriend, best friend, and caged arch-enemy talk about her sighs and compare notes.

It’s a little self-aware, a little willing to poke fun at itself, and a lot of fun. Doing a one-shot special is a good play to gain attention in the Direct Market, and Warren’s approach to the special makes it easy to hop right into Empowered Volume 1. It’s a good series, and I hope that this works to get more readers for Empowered.

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Palmiotti, Gray, and Conner did the impossible…

August 20th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

They turned me into a Power Girl fan.

pgheadbutt

From Power Girl #4, words by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, pictures by Amanda Conner, colors by Paul Mounts. Headbutt: heard round the world.

I’ll have something smarter on this later, but I’m wonderfully feverish and sick lately. I just wanted to put this out there, because it’s an amazing book. I’m working on a Thing in the background, something I think would tie into a look at Power Girl very nicely, but for now, I’ll just have to tease.

And sneeze.

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