Fourcast! 85: This Week In Comics

May 16th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

-Review show!
-We talk about what Esther bought.
-We talk about what I read, but didn’t buy.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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Big Boi – Sir Lucious Leftfoot, the Son of Chico Dusty

July 6th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Half of the greatest rap group of all time drops his solo record today. I copped the deluxe edition, personally.

The intro track to Big Boi’s Sir Lucious Leftfoot is called “Feel Me (Intro)” and was produced by Malay. It sounds like Sleepy Brown singing, with a Roger Troutman accompaniment, but I might be wrong. It’s Antwan Patton’s resume. 15 years off in this game, still ain’t changed, feel me. It’s a command, not a request. This song is funky, with an Ennio Morricone whistle and laid back sound setting the stage for the album. There are no vocals from Big Boi until the very end, after the music drops out. “Damn,” he says. “And that wasn’t nothing but the intro!” Cocky or confident? Who cares, he’s right.

I’ve been looking forward to it forever, personally. OutKast always got broken up into the pimp and the poet, but that was never quite right. Big Boi was just as weird as Andre, but weird in a different way. SIr Lucious Leftfoot, as an album, is proof of that. He finally gets around to rhyming orange in a song, something I’ve been telling people he’d do since I was in high school. He flows over a variety of beats that have one thing in common: they all knock.

There’s a gang of guest appearances, but his album never feels crowded. George Clinton makes his second appearance on a Kast track, Yelawolf and Bobby Ray represent for the New New South, Andre 3000 produces one song (and would have had a spot on the album if Jive wasn’t run by idiots), Gucci Mane delivers a verse that doesn’t suck, and Big Rube makes a triumphant return to wax. Too $hort comes through for a guest appearance, and apparently he listened when GZA told rapper’s to make it half short and twice strong. His four bars are his whole style in miniature and still being dope.

You can easily draw a line from Speakerboxxx to Sir Lucious Leftfoot. The production doesn’t sound like your normal radio clips, and what samples there are are all over the place. There’s a lot of Dungeon Family-oriented production, too, whether from Mr DJ, Big Boi Andre, or the almighty Organized Noize itself. It’s a little more focused than Speakerboxxx, but when separated from Andre 3000, you can see where Big Boi is spreading his wings. He switches up his flow, whether via computer tricks or just good old fashioned spitting. There’s not necessarily a Rosa Parks or Hey Ya on this record, nothing that’ll put the radio on smash, but every song is bumpable.

I dunno if I can or should pick a favorite. “Turns Me On” is silky smooth, and I love Sleepy Brown. “Tangerine,” his joint with T.I. and Khujo Goodie is ill, too. “Fo Yo Sorrows” is nuts and includes a breakdown, something you don’t see often enough in rap these days. Big Boi’s verses on “Night Night” is crazy. Don’t even get me started on “Shine Blockas.”

I like this one. That’s really all there is to it.

You might wanna argue with me about best rap group of all time, but go ahead and listen to Southernplayalisticcadillacmuzik, ATLiens, Aquemini, Stankonia, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, and watch Idlewild. We told you the South would rise again. You just didn’t realize it happened in 1995. DF!

Relevant videos:

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The Cipher 06/03/10

June 3rd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

It took every Marvel character to off Thanos. Get a rope, hang yourself… you’ve got less characters than a Twitter post.

I don’t have a lot of comics this week. Captain America/Black Panther marches on and Thanos Imperative gets going. Check a preview of Thanos Imperative here, and then read my Marvel Cosmic recap. Preview Cap/Panther here.

Also notable is the Kathryn Immonen/Tonci Zonjic joint Heralds. Immonen is a delight (read Hellcat, oh wait, you can’t, because it’s a DM-only trade) and Tonci Zonjic is a dope artist. It’s about the return of Frankie Raye, formerly known as Nova and the only character with a cooler name than “Moses Magnum.” I talked a little about Frankie Raye’s demise a couple years ago.

Not comics: The complete boxed set of The Wire is on sale for like 90 bucks on Amazon. I’ve got one episode left on my rewatch of The Shield, so The Wire is looking mighty tempting. Payday is tomorrow, so dare I risk it?

What comics are you buying and what’d you think of them?

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The Cipher 05/26/10

May 26th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Just an experiment, maybe an ongoing thing if you like it.

What’d you buy and read today? Any books we should be looking out for? Any surprises? Let’s talk about this week’s books, or even books you’ve read recently that aren’t from this week. The comment box is yours. Have at it.

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Tekken 6: King of Iron Fists, Online Manga, and Paper Stories

November 23rd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Tekken 6 came out on PS3 and 360 a while back (and is forty-four bucks on Amazon right now and totally worth the purchase) and captivated my attention, just like the five prior games did. The fighting, the Barbie to the nth level dress-up/customization stuff… half of the games I play online with friends are all about how awesome that bit of hair you put on that character is, where did you get that? And that skirt, whoo! Way to go!

(It’s like playing with dolls, only they fight.)

The thing with Tekken, though, is that its story is dumb. It has a space alien/ancient Japanese ninja who looks like a bug, a bear who takes over a corporation, a kangaroo that gets divorced and that kangaroo’s son who goes on a quest to find his deadbeat father, and a series of people being thrown into volcanos, off cliffs, and into space so that someone else can become president of Mishima Corp. Everything is treated as having happened, including the dumbest “I had a secret twin all along!” twist I’ve seen in my entire life.

It would work very well as a comic, and luckily, Japan is on top of things. Ultra Jump, a spinoff of Shonen Jump, has an online arm called Ultra Jump Egg. And on Ultra Jump Egg is… TekkenComic, a Tekken manga by Rui Takato (author of Scape-God, summaries available here), produced for Tekken’s 15th anniversary and Ultra Jump’s 20th.


tekkencomic01The twist is that it’s also available in English, which is new and neat. Pressing a button overlays English text over the Japanese balloons. It’s a little punctuation starved, save for… ellipses, and the font could scale better, but it reads pretty well. And it’s funny. It opens on the story of Paul Phoenix, who, along with Steve Fox and Marshall Law, have entered the King of Iron Fist Tournament to cheat their way to the ten million yen.

The comic has three chapters up (of three?) and it’s pretty entertaining. The shower scene is kind of gratuitous, and I hadn’t realized exactly how much of a stereotypical anime girl Asuka Kazama was before now (all she needs is a magically appearing hammer). Despite that, Lili as Schoolgirl Imperialist really, really works. And I dug Leo’s brief interlude, too. Considering the last page of Battle 03, if this is an ongoing thing (and some 4l! reader with Japanese language skills please let me know!) I’ll tune in once a week. It’s just as delightfully dumb as the game’s story, which may well be the anti-pull quote of all anti-pull quotes, but I like it. Maybe Viz will license it and put it out over here?

Fair warning, though. Battle 03 is basically frilly panty heaven. Or maybe hell, depending on who you are and where you work.


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Lone Wolf and Cub: The Assassin’s Road

May 17th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Lone Wolf and Cub volume 1: The Assassin’s Road
Writer: Kazuo Koike
Artist: Goseki Kojima
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
ISBN: 1569715025
296 pages

Before I get into talking about the book, I want to take a moment and compliment the translation team for Lone Wolf & Cub. Dana Lewis is credited with “translation,” and a brief google search reveals that Lewis is/was a part of Studio Proteus, one of the main forces that helped bring manga into the mainstream here in the States.

The translation is an adaptation, rather than a word-for-word find/replace job. It takes into account that certain things simply can’t be translated into English or American culture, and adjusts accordingly. Specific terms are often left in their original Japanese, and a combination of context and a solid glossary at the back help to explain what’s going on. There are also a few moments of re-contextualization in the text. One chapter ends with a woman looking on at Ogami and Daigoro as they cross a river. She says, “A baby carriage… on the river Sanzu.” The Sanzu River means nothing to most American readers, but the title of the chapter, “Baby Cart on the River Styx” provides a context clue. While the river Styx isn’t 100% the same as the river Sanzu, the basic idea is the same. The father and son are both caught on the path of the doomed and the dead. It’s an idea that’s repeated fairly often throughout the book, both from Ogami’s mouth and those of the people he encounters.

I knew many of the broad strokes going in due to a passing interest in Japanese history. Iga and Koga ninja, the Yagyu clan, Tokugawa shogunate, and a fistful of other terms will be familiar to anyone who has spent any amount of time partaking in anything that involves samurai or ninjas, from history books to manga to anime.

Japanese history tends to pop up everywhere in their pop culture. Amakusa Shiro is a popular villain in anime and video games, most notably Samurai Shodown. Yagyu Jubei has been presented more than once as the samurai equivalent of Marvel’s Nick Fury, from the eyepatch down to the war hero status and career as a spy. I don’t know that American culture can really compare. I’ve seen very little popular fiction starring George Washington or Benjamin Franklin, and I don’t think any of it has resulted in the same penetration that Japanese historical figures have. It’s fascinating.

Lone Wolf and Cub: The Assassin’s Road contains nine stories. “Son for Hire, Sword for Hire,” “A Father Knows His Child’s Heart, as Only a Child Can Know His Father’s,” From North to South, From West to East,” “Baby Cart on the River Styx,” “Suio School Zanbato,” “Waiting for the Rains,” “Eight Gates of Deceit,” “Wings to the Birds, Fangs to the Beast,” and “The Assassin’s Road” make up just a hair under 300 pages of samurai action.
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March 29th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I think most of the people reading this have heard of Dollhouse.  It’s a series about a super-secret underground organization that rents out ‘Dolls’ out to the rich and powerful.  Dolls are men and women who have had their memories wiped, and have been mentally implanted with memories that allow them to complete a specific task asked for by the client.

A good enough premise, but a few things keep hitting me while watching.

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Huntress: Getting Past The Crucifix and the Crossbow

March 11th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

For me, Huntress has always been one of DC’s least accessible characters.  It seemed like she was given half a helping of costume, two helpings of temper, and sent in whenever Batman needed to tell someone they had ‘crossed a line.’  Helena Bertinelli could kick, punch, toss off one-liners, and work with a cape, but she was more like a collection of behaviors than a person.

That’s why Huntress: Year One was such a pleasant surprise.  Though it is a Year One book, the mini-series follows Helena from childhood up through her assumption of the Huntress persona.  It examines her deep religious convictions, her time bouncing between mafia families after her parents are killed, and her instinctive feminism.  What emerges from these examinations is a young woman who  is surprisingly thoughtful, though still in possession of the smoldering anger that characterizes Huntress in regular continuity.

It’s the characterization of Huntress, and of those who inhabit her world, that makes this book really interesting.  Through Helena we meet various mob bosses, young heirs, mistresses, wives, and hangers-on, none of them boring.  Some surprise the reader only with the depths to which they will sink.  Others take unexpected turns.  All of them have a heft that’s unusual for comic-book characters.

Another strength of Huntress: Year Oneis its overt feminism.  Unlike most comics, Huntress doesn’t confine its feminism to a wronged woman beating up a sexist man.  It considers an adolescent’s first few quibbles with male authority and gendered language.  It explores the compromises made by women and men living in male-dominated social structures like the mafia.  And it takes a refreshingly unsentimental look at female victimhood.  This book doesn’t frame its victims as martyrs meant to set the plot in motion, or provocateurs who are complicit in their own suffering.  Nor does it imbue female suffering with any kind of glorification.  Victimhood is a shitty way to live, not an operatic finish to a pretty story.

The true test of a mini-series is if it leaves you wanting more, and Huntress did that for me.  The continuity would be tough to hammer out, of course, but in some ways continuing the comic would take fewer contrivances than a lot of other series.   The figures in Helena’s life are so fleshed out that they seem able to carry on the story simply by being themselves.

All six issues of the Huntress: Year One mini are out.  It is also available as a softcover trade paperback.

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December 5th, 2008 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade, is sweet, funny and almost egregiously cute.

The heroine, heavy on moxie and light on foresight, falls to earth in a rocket and displays the boundless good cheer we expect of the Super family. It seems she’s stuck, and in true Super tradition, Clark decides that the best way to deal with this is to slap a pair of glasses on her, give her an alliterative name, and send her to school.

There things go as well for her as you’d expect them to go for someone with no understanding of any culture on earth. You’d think her question about when machines will rebel would at least get her a Terminator fan or two as a friend.

Although there was only one cosmic adventures and lots of eighth grade, I really liked this comic. I liked that the Superfamily came together across several dimensions to help Supergirl out. I liked the art. And I loved the fantastic Silver Age monologues:

“I bet I just need to calculate the relative orbits of Argo and Earth. Then, if I can fly high enough to make it into orbit, I can probably use the gravitational forces of this planet to slingshot me back into quasi-space! It’s foolproof! . . . . AIIEE! I have no powers under my native red sun! Why was I so foolish?! Now I crash to the ground!”

Worth checking out for adults. Worth buying for kids.

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