The Cipher 08/18/10

August 18th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Stuff What I Wrote: SLG needs legal help, Deathlok demolishes, and BPRD brings Hell to Earth.

Music What I Bought:
Curren$y – Pilot Talk: I like Spitta, but dude seriously needs to start switching up his flow and subject matter some. I like weed, slow flows, and other people’s (pause) as much as the next dude, but an album full of it was unexpectedly draining. Curren$y varies from into it to lethargic from song to song, and sometimes the production vastly outshines him. This one isn’t bad, but I’m not sure if I’ll still be spinning it in a couple weeks. I think what it is is that I don’t like it as much as How Fly, his mixtape with Wiz Khalifa. Still, the production is dope, the guest spots are ill… this album is straight. Video: King Kong.

Kassin+2 – Futurismo: I’m fully unqualified to actually discuss this album in terms of technique or artistic merit, but The +2s are dope and make this kind of really funky, relaxed, hype, dance music. That doesn’t make any sense, but listen to “Ponto Final” and a few other cuts. You can sit around reading to this stuff, or shake it like a salt shaker. Kassin+2 also did the music for Michiko e Hatchin, one of the dopest shows out that has yet to actually get licensed for release.

Gorillaz – Plastic Beach: I bought this one on Graeme‘s recommendation and was left pretty pleased. I liked the Gorillaz in high school (though apparently the song goes “I ain’t happy,” not “Iiii’m happy”) and this kicked off this whole thing where I’m spending all of my time listening to the Gorillaz and figuring out what I like about it. Right now, it’s “I like the range and versatility.” Later, it may be something else. I’ll tell you what, though. I’m really interested in theatricality and gimmicks and narrative, and Gorillaz are all of that rolled up into one. Video: Stylo (with Mos Def and Bobby Womack [!!!!])

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): Do you know how often I buy movie or tv show soundtracks? Almost never, that’s how often. I liked the music in the movie enough to grab the soundtrack, though, and I left pretty dang pleased. I hadn’t heard Metric before, but I like the way that sounds. The in-movie stuff, the Sex Bob-omb songs? Those sound great, too. “Garbage Truck” is fantastic. I could do without the chiptunes song, tho. Bleah. Black Sheep (featurette)

Stuff What I Been Reading: Shade (finally started book 3 after a few false starts), other stuff

Stuff What We Gonna Buy:
David Days: Amazing Spider-Man 640, Atlas 4, Hellblazer 270, King City 11, New Mutants 16, Thunderbolts 147
Esther Planet We Reach is Dead: Tiny Titans 31, Streets of Gotham 15, Power Girl 15
Don’t Gavin Lost In Heaven: Authority The Lost Year 12, Azrael 11, Green Lantern Corps 51, Age Of Heroes 4, Atlas 4, Avengers Academy 3, Avengers And The Infinity Gauntlet 1, Deadpool Corps 5, Deadpool 26, Marvel Universe vs The Punisher 2, New Avengers 3, Secret Avengers 4, Shadowland Power Man 1, Thunderbolts 147, Darkwing Duck The Duck Knight Returns 3

Stuff What Is A Drag:
This OMIT story in Amazing Spidey. Extremely pretty, but extremely who cares. Should’ve just kept on going with the status quo instead of explaining something boring.

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5 Series: Hellblazer

July 22nd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

My favorite Hellblazer run is the one Brian Azzarello had a few years back. In it, John Constantine was essentially cast as a trickster demon, stepping into and out of trouble with ease, and never really coming into danger. He ruined lives, found vengeance, and generally was just an insufferably smug magician douchebag. It was an extremely entertaining arc, and sort of set the stage for how I view Constantine. He’s good at what he does, with impeccable luck even when entirely removed from his comfort zone.

Peter Milligan’s ongoing run, on the other hand, is about a man that believes a little bit too much of his own hype. He has a reputation, and one that he’s earned several dozen times over, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Side characters, people who step into and out of the story, hate him. His best friend Chaz’s wife wonders aloud if he didn’t curse their daughter and cured her out of his own guilt. A noted local kingpin has heard of Constantine and isn’t even remotely impressed. He’s openly hostile and at one point is ready to murder him with no fear of repercussions.

Tucker was the one who put the idea of Milligan’s run being about Constantine failing in my head, and it’s one that’s proved to be true. He’s been forced to face his failures, whether recent or vintage, over and over. He did a cheap little spell to make some quick cash and it came back to haunt him decades later. His failure to rescue someone he loves, or thinks he loves, drives the more recent portion of the run. Milligan is putting Constantine up against something he can’t just magic away. You can’t fight time, and when you get old and your bones start creaking, you can’t just keep up with the big dogs like you used to.

Milligan is writing as much about Constantine’s rep as he is about Constantine himself, which makes for very interesting storytelling. Constantine is old and everyone knows it. He knows it, too, but he refuses to accept it. Like so many old men, he’s trying to hold onto past glories, but the old cliche proves true. The tighter he squeezes, the more slips through his grasp. He can’t bring anyone back from the dead, his magic is poison, and he’s made a lifetime’s worth of bad decisions. You don’t get to walk through a rainstorm and come out dry. Constantine suddenly has consequences to deal with.

Azzarello’s run feels like it’s haunting Milligan’s. I can’t not think of it when reading Milligan’s run, even though there’s not a direct connection between the two. I don’t even think Milligan’s directly referenced Azzarello’s run, but the difference between the two is striking. Azzarello’s Constantine, drawn by Marcelo Frusin mainly, was young and unsettling. Azzarello’s Constantine is cruel. His smile was something to be afraid of, and if he was happy, you were probably a neo-Nazi getting your face bashed in by a golem.

In contrast, Milligan’s just looks tired. Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini draws him with thin, dishonest eyes and a prominent scar over his eyes. His permanent stubble make him look haggard even when his clothes are clean. Simon Bisley’s take is even more ragged. He looks like a beat up old boxer, with a broad forehead and ugly mug. He looks like about fifty miles of bad road, and so far past his prime that he’s completely off-putting to anyone with sense.

I like that Hellblazer has this call and response thing going on, even if it’s unconscious or unspoken. There’s a lot to like about Milligan’s run in and of itself. He’s got a great grasp on Constantine and he’s telling new and interesting stories with an old characters. He’s introduced new characters into the series, ones that I honestly would like to know more about outside of Constantine’s sphere of influence, and the stories have been great. The art is good, with Camuncoli, Landini, and Bisley doing great work. It’s a genuinely good comic, is what I’m saying, and this contrast between a run I enjoyed and a run I’m currently enjoying is like icing on the cake. A little bit extra on top of something good.

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The Cipher 07/07/10

July 8th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Casanova 01. words by Matt Fraction, art by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, colors by Cris Peters, cover by Gabriel Ba. Preview.

I’m living in that 21st century, doing something mean to it–Do it better than anybody you’ve ever seen do it

I used to really love Casanova. It wasn’t my introduction to Matt Fraction (I think that was Last of the Independents?), but it was the first book of his that I really genuinely liked. Something about it–the superspy stuff, dimension hopping, interesting storytelling–clicked with me and I ended up buying every issue, plus the hardcover of the first series. This post is full of hyperbole and mistakes I wouldn’t make today, but it shows you how high I was on this comic at the time.

This year sees the return of Casanova, but maybe return should be in “douchebag quotes.” It’s being re-serialized from the very beginning, recolored and re-lettered, and the entire series is going to get the deluxe treatment out of Marvel. On the one hand-great! I loved reading these. On the other hand–it’s not 2007 any more. I buy comics differently. If I leap into this, which I have read and liked and appears to be improved, I’m looking at possibly quadruple dipping on this series. I bought the originals, bought the trade, and bought the originals for the second series. I could buy the new issues, but what I really want are the trades of the stuff I’ve already read (with the new colors and etc).

There’s a dilemma for you. Support in singles after having already supported in singles or be selfish and buy the trades several months down the line?

(I’m buying the trades because this really isn’t a dilemma at all, but if you haven’t read Casanova, give it a look.)

What’s 4l! buying?!
David: Amazing Spider-Man 636, King City 10
Esther: Batman and Robin 13, Secret Six 23, Batman Confidential 46, Red Robin 14
Gavin: Batman & Robin 13, Secret Six 23, Avengers: Children’s Crusade 1, Avengers: The Origin 4, Hawkeye & Mockingbird 2, Hit-Monkey 1, Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier 1, Irredeemable 15

Book-wise, I just got Shade the Changing Man: The American Scream, Human Target: Chance Meetings, Hellblazer: Hooked, Batwoman: Elegy, The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century, and One Piece 54. I didn’t own Human Target: Final Cut, so I went ahead and grabbed that trade. I haven’t read Shade before, or at least not to my memory, so I’m starting in on that. And HellblazerHellblazer is just good. Let Tucker convince you. He’s right. So yeah, it’s a heavy Milligan week for me, but I can’t complain. And I get King City and One Piece and a follow-up to one of the top three greatest Spider-Man stories of all time? Comics should always be this good.

(If you’re not reading Amazing Spider-Man: Grim Hunt, you’re making a mistake. The last page this week is on bomb status.)

Tell me what you’re buying and how you liked it.

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