The Cipher 12/08/10

December 8th, 2010 by | Tags: , ,

get three coffins ready
created: Just a couple. You can read me talmbout Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning & Brad Walker’s Heroes for Hire or a round-up of the current slate of Batman-centric comics. I’ll have a gang of goodies next week.

my mistake, four coffins

Brandon Graham’s King City 12.

Did you read that? Stellar end to a stellar series, and definitely one of my favorites of 2010. Cripes, man. The first thing I wanted to do after reading King City 12 was to read King City 12 again, but slower. And after that, I wanted to reread 1-12. Which I will do, and you will reap the whirlwind here, but I have to put that off and let it settle for a week. But seriously: if you weren’t reading King City, and apparently it sold like three thousand copies or so a month so a lot of you weren’t reading it, you missed out on some good comics. Only a few comics came close to even touching it this year.

-Takeshi Koike’s Redline is in the middle of an encore presentation at New People, so I saw it for the second time on Monday. I wrote a review for CA after my first viewing, and you know what? I liked it even better the second time around. It’s distilled spectacle, determined to give you whiplash from the hard cuts and harder action scenes. Every single frame demands more attention than you have to give, simply by virtue of being filled with information. The cast is full of character sketches (sexy girls, tv stars, hard-working earth dudes, a renegade cop, a cool dude, a cool girl, a MACHINE GOD), but all of it hangs together perfectly. The sketches are clever enough to support their own shorts, even. It’s funny, it’s frantic, and I’m glad it exists. It’s counterprogramming for all the moe stuff that’s dominating the anime industry, which probably explains the reports of it not doing very well at all in Japan. Buy the Blu-ray when they drop it.

-I bought the self-titled Hard Nips EP. I read a review on the Mishka blog about it and liked the single “Release It,” so I threw four bucks at it. I don’t really have a frame of reference for this kind of music. If it was rap, I could tell you what year it sounds like and who had an influence on the flow, but this is all new to me. I think I like it. I have a hard time with Yoko Sawai’s accent on a couple songs, but I like the way it sounds. It’s very heavy, with deep sounding guitars and vocals that feel like they’re climbing out of the music. If they drop a full album or another joint, I’d pick it up.

-Bilal’s Airtight’s Revenge is unexpectedly good. Not that I don’t like Bilal, but it’s been a good while since I really sat down and listened to some old fashioned neo-soul/R&B sanging cat. He’s hitting those high notes like D’Angelo used to, and the album is overall pretty strong. Clever, emotional, on and on. I like it more than Cee-Lo’s The Lady Killer, which is itself inferior to his Stray Bullets mixtape. Apparently they’re all from the same sessions, which makes The Lady Killer being aight pretty weird. Stray Bullets bangs.

-Redman’s Redman Presents…Reggie is… aight. Kinda disappointed. It makes me want to listen to Red Gone Wild, mostly. Just aight isn’t good enough these days.

-Been listening to a lot of Blur. Really digging Modern Life Is Rubbish and Parklife.

-B.o.B dropped a new mixtape, No Genre. Unsurprisingly, I cosign it. There’s a joint with TI, Bobby Ray, and Young Dro over a flipped version of the Sanford & Son beat. Quincy Jones on production. It disappeared off his official site, though. Label issues?

-Been reading Dragon Ball Z in Vizbigs. It’s been years since I’ve read DBZ in Shonen Jump, but I apparently never read this stuff. It sticks pretty close to the show, so there aren’t a lot of general surprises, but there are a few specific ones. Vegeta turning into a monkey I’d entirely forgotten about, for example.

-I bought Persona 3 Portable. I’ve been playing Persona 4 off and on for about two years now, more off than on, and figured I might as well check this one out, too. Gives me something to do before bed, anyway.

Here’s some vintage Wally Wood. This guy was so good.

i don’t think it’s nice, you laughin’
Esther: Yes: Batgirl 16, DCU Holiday Special, Knight and Squire 3, Superboy 2 Maybe: Batman Annual 12, First Wave 5, Red Robin 18
Gavin: Booster Gold 39, Justice League Generation Lost 15, Knight & Squire 3, Welcome To Tranquility One Foot Grave 6, Chaos War Ares 1, Incredible Hulks 618, New Avengers 7, What If Wolverine Father

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15 comments to “The Cipher 12/08/10”

  1. I read “Bilal’s Airtight’s Revenge” and my heart skipped thinking Enki Bilal had made a response comic to Moebius.

  2. Modern Life’s probably my favorite Blur album. It’s got the same Britpop-blueprint vibe as Parklife, but it’s a little rougher, less perfectly cohesive. It’s got a bit more gamble to it.

    And the US version put Popscene on there, which is one of my favorite Blur tracks period, all horns and sneering scenesterism.

  3. I can’t tell if you’re joking when you suggest that the DBZ manga sticks close to the show, given that it’s (mostly) an adaptation of the comic rather than the other way around. It’s going to turn out that you knew this and I’m going to look like a douchebag for this post, aren’t I? Well shit.

  4. Have you played the original Persona 3, or FES? If you have, I recommend playing the female route – they switched up a lot. If not, it doesn’t matter too much which you choose.

    It’s good! I like FES, the revised-but-original (if that makes sense) because even the game mechanics back up the story. That said, they smoothed down a lot of edges for P3P, made the game a lot easier (only fair, if you’re playing it on portable systems). That said, you lose a bit, I think, in their visual novel presentation of the cutscenes. Sometimes having the visuals described to you… well, this is a comic site, we know how that works already.

    Hope you enjoy it, though. I think P3 in general is a better game than P4, even if P4 fixed some things wrong with P3.

  5. @seth hurley: I need this to happen, cripes.

    @Josh: Weird, the one I bought from Amazon doesn’t have Popscene. I’ll have to dig it up and give it a listen. I’m listening to the Blur stuff due to my infatuation with the Gorillaz (free album this Christmas!), and it’s interesting to note the differences and similarities. Albarn’s voice and approach changed a lot, I feel. A lot of Blur stuff feels a little self-consciously pop-y–like, “This is what a good pop song sounds like!” That’s not a complaint, mind, and I’m no expert. Learning new things over here.

    @AzraelNewtype: To answer your question: yep. I’ve seen almost all of DBZ the show, though, and read only a bit of it (whatever was in Shonen Jump those first couple years), and remember even less of what I read, so for all intents and purposes, I know DBZ the show, and the manga is mostly new to me. So what I said wasn’t incorrect, exactly, but worded perhaps not in the best possible manner.

    @Patchworkearth: I’m totally new to Persona 3, so I went with the guy. If I play it again, I’ll go with the girl.

    You have a good point about the presentation, and I was thinking that it feels like a big budget visual novel in practice. It’s different from P4, which is my closest point of reference, but I think it’s pretty effective. I’m probably going to write about it after I get further into it, maybe late next week, because the storytelling is really interesting to me. I can see where they cut corners as far as action goes, and it may not have been for the better, but it isn’t necessarily for the worse, either.

    Also, the New Game to Gameplay segment lasted about twenty minutes, which was way better than Persona 4‘s two hours. That’s a good thing, as much as I love P4.

  6. @david brothers: You’re gonna love P3. I guarantee it.

  7. Did you pick up P3P for $20 off of PSN like I did a few weeks back? I’m about 16 or so hours into the game, and it’s definetly one of the better games I’ve played this year (I also need some time to play P4, which I own but never touched).

  8. You’re mostly right, David, with the game as a whole – regarding it not losing too much in the presentation – but late in the game when there are dramatic scenes and moments of action, the format does suffer a bit. I don’t want to spoil.

    What’s also funny about P3 is that it was the first Shin Megami Tensei game made specifically to be accessible to a more general audience (P4 was the second – my wife loved both and was shocked and disturbed how difficult and less character-based many of the others are) and because of that, P3 is awash in manga/anime archetypes and references to popular works.

    The opening movie of P3 rather deliberately invokes Evangelion (the main character’s hair, being withdrawn using headphones) and his “hidden” Persona that you see in that first awakening cutscene looks eerily like Unit-O1. There’s a lot of stuff like that.

    I do hope you spend some time writing about it, as I’d love to read it. I feel like there’s a long-ass essay on that game that I don’t have the energy to put together.

  9. @theAnarCHris: Nah, I ended up paying the full price for it. I missed the sale.

    @Patchworkearth: I met Death last night. I didn’t know what his deal was, because I accidentally hit X when Mitsuru was talking, and then X again when she popped up to go “OH NO IT’S DEATH RUN AWAY” or whatever. So I wandered around the floor until I found him, I went to fight him, and she yelled “RUN AWAY YOU CAN’T WIN.”

    Then I ran away and he caught up and killed me anyway. Fun times.

    I’m digging it, though. I may seek out essays on it later on, but I’m up to floor 12 and maybe three hours in? Something like that.

  10. @david brothers:

    Yeah, I always, instead of the Reaper, call him “The Saint of Killers,” because that’s basically what he is. He’s gonna haunt your ass through the whole damned game, get used to running.

    They put in a lot of roadblocks to mindless grinding – getting sick, the Reaper – although many of them were WAY toned down in Portable, so that you can play in proper increments as a portable game (in earlier versions you get sick faster and more often and the Reaper is more likely to show up, and faster, even if you don’t accidentally summon him).

    I also think the pacing’s better, overall – one tower, many floor guardians, and then the plot-induced stuff – Persona 4’s dungeons were terrific, but you tended to spend one, two days in them and then go back to the dating sim stuff, which made pacing problematic for me in comparison – I remember in P4 when we beat Mitsuo my wife and I just did not go back into the television for like a month and a half, until Naoto. Played through the Iwatodai field trip (which will be funnier for you now, that you get the in-jokes) and all of that, and were leveled way down when we needed to move forward. That’ll happen less here.

    Anyway, I’m dumping most of my thoughts on Twitter right now, so I won’t clog up your website comments anymore. A lot of people have had things to say about P3 and P4, together and separately, some of it pretty good.

    P3P was apparently, like, the bestselling PSP game ever, more or less, so we’re finally getting P2 remakes. I don’t know if you bothered with P1, but it meets somewhere in the middle. Pretty crazy story, lotta Lovecraft in that one.

  11. My patient friends are so happy that King City is over so that I won’t talk about it all the time and direct every other conversation back toward it.

    I feel like Graham has created an all-in-one comic; borrowing themes as liberally from superhero comics as he does from European comics, American alternative comics and manga. There seems to be no division in his mind between various genres or comic types. More than just referencing the surface of things (although he does this as well), Graham pulls storytelling techniques from all corners of the comic world. I think I have to shut up about his work until Multiple Warheadz returns…

  12. Listened to the samples Amazon had for Hard Nips. I’m not sold just yet, but I’m definitely digging the guitar. The review you linked referenced Boris, who have some tracks I really like, so any similarity between the two is a point in Hard Nips’ favor. I’ll have to keep them in mind, though I’m pretty broke right now, so even a spending a few bucks here and there is probably a bad idea.

  13. @David – “This is what a good pop song sounds like!” basically sums up Blur’s entire motive for those two albums. That and kicking against whichever musical rival they had at the time (Suede, America/grunge, and finally Oasis, in that rough order, I think).

    Weird about no Popscene on your Modern Life; if nothing else, I’m pretty sure it’s out on the Midlife album, which is a best of. It was sort of their big new-sound statement single circa Modern Life, they were super proud of it, and it absolutely tanked. So out of spite, they never re-released it until after they got back together for a bit not long ago.

    And if you’re looking for a Gorillaz connection, check out the later albums, which are the self-titled and 13. Especially 13.

  14. Wadda coinkidink on P3P, got it myself recently, though unlike you this is my first Persona game. I’ve played my fair share of RPGs, but this is the first I can honestly think of where you do actual RPing and it really eats your time. Definitely the best part of the game they’re all so well developed. There were many I thought I had figured out but by getting closer to them I realized I didn’t know jack shit about them as people and some of them, I’ll probably never get a handle on them.

    @david brothers: Also if you want essays on P3P, here’s my personal favorite (has some spoilers of the social links, which I guess aren’t important to the story story, but judge for yourself) – http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2007/08/persona_3_two-faced.php
    I find a lot of the better ones on the Persona series coming from people who write about the topic of sex in games.

  15. @Nathan:

    Leigh Alexander is a huge Persona 3 fan, I’ve seen her write about it a number of times. There’s a great piece she did about Portable, specifically, regarding how playing as a female protagonist, in a story she knew so well, was strange because of how she found herself playing “as a woman” in ways that she hadn’t expected herself to. I’d seek that one out, too – wish I still had the URL for you!