Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Music Video of the Week: Bobby Brown - On Our Own

Yeah, that's right.  I'm going left with a super blast from the past, and if you were around with this video aired on MTV/VH1, you're old.  Even I just happened to hear this on the radio today and thought it was catchy enough to earn a spot on JiH. 




I knew Bobby Brown was popular back in the day, but I didn't know he was good.  Huh.

Battle Rap Wednesdays: Dumbfoundead vs. Tantrum

Okay, so I'm lazy this week and I decided to go with a classic battle from a defunct battle rap circuit, the West Coast-based GrindTime.  Yes, Korean Jesus used to be a battle rapper.  He was pretty good at it too.   Also, if you're a fan of shorter battles, this one's for you: 16 minute run time.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Four Color Marathons: Iron Man

And, we're back with another Four Color Marathons.  Life was forcing me away from doing this thing, but I decided that I would try to crank out at least four more of these before the year ended.

As long as I can remember, Iron Man has always been one of my favorite superheroes in comic books.  And why not?  Tony Stark had it all: women, one of the leading businesses in technology, a genius scientific mind, a membership in the premiere superhero team of the world, and the slickest suit this side of...anywhere.  What WASN'T to like?  Well, hard as it might be to believe, until the movie, Iron Man was nowhere *near* as popular as he is today.  Robert Downey Jr.'s excellent performance as Tony Stark brought a more widespread popularity to character that he just didn't have before.  Which is a shame, because this Four Color Marathon focuses on a little-known run on the character from the late 90's from one of the most profuse writers in the superhero genre, Kurt Busiek. 


Iron Man
Issues: 1-25, '99 Annual, Iron Age 1-2

I tried to come up with a way of explaining the historical factors leading up to Busiek's run on the character, but I couldn't do it without getting lost in figurative mountains of comic book minutae that even I only care so much about.  So instead we'll break it down to this: Periodically, DC and Marvel both make...wrong turns with their characters and essentially "break" their toys.  When that happens, usually some cosmic event comes about that in their universe allows them to reset things to make them not broken.  For Marvel, this entire cycle took roughly two years between the Heroes Reborn/Heroes Return storylines, resulting in a reboot of sorts in 1998.  This allowed the creative team of Kurt Busiek and Sean Chen to come onto the book with a fresh take that the comic was in desperate need of.



The story begins with Tony Stark's quite literal "return from the dead", as everyone thought the billionare scientist to be dead after the aforementioned giant cosmic event where he went missing for over a year.  The excuse for him being gone might be simple (in a callback to his origins, he was supposedly "kidnapped by terrorists to design weapons"), but it works, and it throws both Tony Stark and the reader right back into the thick of things.  

The first issue is a masterwork in telling a good single issue story: Busiek manages to reintroduce Tony Stark and Iron Man to the world, show the book's supporting cast, set up Tony Stark's new status quo as owner of his new consulting company Stark Solutions, introduce an entirely new group of supervillain assassins (the Deathsquad), AND show us some of the threats Tony would have to face in later issues; all of this in a mere 38 pages.  He even has time to work in Tony's origin and a quick recap of the character's life up to that point.  With modern comics designing everything they do around an eventual trade paperback collection, reading something like this was (and still is) an amazingly refreshing change of pace.



What's most interesting about this run is how Busiek manages to make Tony Stark the most interesting part of a book which features a guy in a suit of armor loaded with weapons fighting more supervillains than one could shake a reasonably-sized stick at.  This book pre-dates the Robert Downey Jr. version of the character the comic patterns itself after these days by roughly 10 years, so the cocky, self-assured, arrogant but ever-amusing dick from the movies isn't really present in this 25 issue run.  Instead, the title centers around a character who's fairly introspective, an idealist that's far too selfless for his own good.



One of the key themes of this run is how far Tony is willing to go to help other people--more often than not putting his own life in unnecessary danger to fix someone else's problems.   This is actually the entire purpose of Stark Solutions, the consulting company started at the end of the first issue, a business that not only existed to help anyone that could afford him, but helped fund Tony's charity the Maria Stark Foundation to aid in reconstruction and other philanthropic efforts.  Busiek's Stark was a humanitarian and proof that one could be just as much of a superhero outside the costume as inside.


More interesting than the humanitarian angle though, was having that the run actually had the balls to ask why Stark continued to wear the armor at all.  With his original reason to wear the armor long gone (his heart no longer had any shrapnel in it), the point was raised time and again that the armor itself was causing Tony more trouble than it had ever solved, and in fact might have been a new addiction.  Tony Stark's defining character flaw had been alcoholism for decades, but Busiek carefully inserted the possibility that Tony had traded one addiction for another: the rush and invulnerability that came with being Iron Man over the temptation of alcohol.  With Tony seemingly resorting to the armor over any other solution, knowingly putting his life in danger by going into battle--or even when the armor itself was putting his life in danger--that possibility seemed more and more likely with each new issue.




One of the things that's struck me most with later re-reads is how character-focused the series actually is.  While the book is always about Iron Man and Tony Stark, there's tons of other characters in the series that also get plenty of development.  From the now famous Pepper Potts and her much less well-known ex-husband Happy Hogan, to long-time friend James Rhodes and the infamous Warbird (Carol Danvers, now known as Captain Marvel), the book had an amazing supporting cast that I could spend ages talking about.  Each and every character plays an integral role to Tony's life as well as having separate lives of their own and you miss them when they aren't in the book because of Iron Man's adventures.



Now I'm one of the first people to say that comic book runs are too short these days. Creative musical chairs has left most runs on characters barely worth mentioning; with some creators leaving after only a year on a given title.  But while Busiek's run is just shy of 30 issues (25 issues, a two-part origin mini-series and two annuals), it is without question twenty-five of the most action-packed issues the title has ever seen: in a short two years Iron Man is pitted against nearly every major villain he's ever had, along with a few new ones as well.   So while I've spent most of this article hyping the excellent character work Busiek put into the title, make no mistake--this is a superhero title through and through.   The first ten issues feature some of my favorite long-form plotting in comics (and probably my favorite "mastermind supervillain" story) as Tony is attacked again and again by seemingly disparate villains, only to later learn (unfortunately a little too late) that there's been a method to the madness all along in one of the most shocking reveals in my sixteen years of reading comics.   And there's still another fifteen solid issues to go after that!  While his run on Iron Man is far, far shorter than his classic Avengers run (65 issues and almost six years), Busiek leaves no stone unturned in Tony Stark's life: from dealing with his issues as a recovering alcoholic to making sure every major recurring villain Tony Stark had makes an appearance, by the time someone finishes these 29 issues they easily qualify for being an Iron Man aficionado.

Yet again, this is a run who doesn't have as much of a collection as I would like, but Marvel's a little better about their trade paperback game, so there are two trades for this series that collects about half of Busiek's run: Iron Man: Deadly Genesis and Iron Man: Return of the Mandarin. Deadly Genesis is a mere $15 on Amazon so its at least worth a try, but I'm willing to bet by the last issue you'll want the second volume.






Hopefully next time I can get into something a little more team-oriented.  I've got three more of these to knock out in two momths, so wish me luck!
 
Okay okay, I know I'm supposed to be done, but one more thing: I would be remiss if I didn't say how much I LOVED the artwork in these issues.  Sean Chen is a genius.  As good as Kurt Busiek's scripts are, they wouldn't have nearly the impact without Chen's amazing character designs.  Always expressive and detailed without looking overdone, each issue was a joy to look at.  And, Chen's Iron Man is hands-down my favorite design even twelve years later.  A close second is the one in Matt Fraction's run (which I'll talk about later), but there was something about the Heroes Return Iron Man armor that was special. Many people have tried to create new armors during their runs in an attempt to make their own mark, but not many succeed.  Sean Chen definitely did though--his reminded you of the classic armor people know so well but it looked like something that a forward-thinking super-scientist like Stark would create.  My only wish is that Chen gets more work somewhere at Marvel or DC, don't care--guy's amazing. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Music Video of the Week: Dumbfoundead - New Chick

So, one of the better ways to hype your album release is to have a video hit at about the same time.  It gives fans an idea of what the vibe of the album might be like, plus some dope visuals to stick in their brains.

And that's exactly what K-Town legend Jonathan Park, aka Dumbfoundead, came with in this video New Girl:


This is probably one of my favorite songs off the album.  I'd be lying if I said it was filled with complicated wordplay, but it's got a chill vibe that you can just lie back and relax to.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Battle Rap Wednesdays: Charlie Clips vs. X-Factor

Every now and then you got to watch a good slaughter.  I wondered when I watched that Loaded Lux vs. Calicoe battle what this line meant:

"Let X-Factor trip.  We won't even drag the script, we'll just lock that aggin in a room and keep showing him the match with Clips."

And then I stumbled across this:


So after 25 minutes of one guy addressing everything from your battle record, to your girlfriend and relationship with your son, you come back with...15 minutes of fat jokes and some cartoon gun bars?  Really tho?   Detroit cats need to step their game up.  This the third time I've seen ya'll take a L.  And its never all that close.  A lot of these bars had my face scrunched up like Stevie J.  Em need to give some training classes. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Music Video of the Week: DFD - Take the Stares

Dumbfoundead's Take the Stares dropped earlier this week. It's got a different feel from his first album, DFD, but every track on it's a banger. I actually shelled out $15 to pre-order it and show my support. Coming from a guy who NEVER buys music, just trust me when I say its worth it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Freeverse Saturdays: Traphik - Clique

I'm a day late.  Sorry.  Three tests in a single week take it out of you.  


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Battle Rap Thursdays: Serius Jones vs. Charlie Clips

I'm a day late, and I apologize for that.  But I'm here with a super-dope battle, so watch two masters at work:


Friday, October 12, 2012

M.A.G. (Musing About Gaming) 1: WiiU is the Future

I will be the first one to admit that I was not the biggest fan of the Nintendo Wii.  It was 2006, and I thought both Sony and Microsoft had long reached the limit of what could be done with that level of graphical achievement, and Nintendo was going forward with a brand-new system that was basically a slight step over what we already had.  A much younger, far more brand-loyal Sage thought it was insanity, and I initially refused to support them.

Now six years later, I'm seeing gamers (mostly ones with PCs) cry out for new consoles because the current-gen is "holding gaming back", and lo and behold the one prediction I WAS right about, Nintendo has become the first of the console developers to release their new creation (whether out of necessity or simply because they wanted to is something I can't conclusively say): the Nintendo WiiU.  The naming leaves something to be desired, but they appear to be sticking with the same kind of idea that led them to create the Wii, the idea that "power isn't everything".  And you know what?  I'm starting to agree.  In a perfect world, I'd be fine with a new system coming out every five years using the latest technological gains made in span of time for the most powerful system.  But we don't live in a perfect world, and it comes down to this: Gaming is becoming TOO FUCKING EXPENSIVE.

Let's look at a few numbers.  A few years ago, not long after the PS3 launched, I read an article in EGM that shed light on just how much money it costs to produce a AAA title.  During the PS1 era, triple-A games tended to cost between 7-800,000 to develop.  By the time of the PS2, those same costs ballooned by about four or five times, meaning a game could cost anywhere from 2.8 to 4 million dollars.  For a single game.  Now with your average PS3/360 title, with its near-CGI level movies and constant Quick-Time Events and extensive voice acting and *massive* amount of promotion, I'd imagine four million is barely enough to hire a staff.   Now, let's flip that and look at costs on the user's end.

The original Super Nintendo launched in mid 1991, and cost just about $200.  Four years later, Sony would launch their first system in America, the Playstation One, for around $300.  As a general rule, games used to cost anywhere from $30-40, controllers were around $25, and memory cards were $15.  The PS2 would launch in late 2000 for around $300, with games costing about $50 and controllers and memory cards costing roughly the same price, around $30.   Flash-forward another 6 years for the PS3 launch: a $600 system that's fortunately evolved past memory cards because controllers are now somehow $40-50, while games are $60.  And people are calling for NEW systems?

On both the developer's, and the user's end, the obsession to use and to have the latest and best technology for new consoles is draining everybody's pockets dry.  Not only that, but its draining the creativity and innovation out of the industry.  Games aren't allowed to be unique and find niche fan bases any longer because just to make its money back a AAA title has to appeal to as many players as possible, ripping away some of the game's appeal to its initial fan base.  This isn't personal conjecture--its established fact seen from both Mass Effect and Dead Space's third sequels, and at the rate things are going, it seems likely to happen more often, not less.  There's a short list of developers who can afford to develop AAA titles these days, and that's not good for anyone.  Allowing myself to be selfish for just a bit, I'm TIRED of games set in dystopian eras, sports games, and first-person shooters, and that's a large portion of what we get these days from AAA titles because that's what sells.

Graphically, Nintendo tried having a more powerful console than Sony with the GameCube, and the end result was a system known almost entirely for its first-party efforts.  They tried something different with the Wii and proceeded to kick Sony and Microsoft's ass sales-wise for a good three or four years.  Maybe they're on to something.  I have to say as a college student with bills to pay, a $250 system with hopefully $30-$40 games is looking quite enticing.  Plus, here's the thing: the PS3 and 360 don't actually look THAT bad right now in terms of graphical achievement and the WiiU is STILL a step-up from that.  Not much of one certainly, but the specs definitely seem to bare out that its worthy of that coveted "next-gen" title.

There's no shortage of games developed for the Wii that never quite made it to the PS3 or the 360 most likely because they cost too much, and while Japan hasn't given up on the PS3, there's no question that if you're talking about a Japanese title its just as likely you're talking about a portable as you are a console title.   Sure, some of that's because of Japan's transportation system simply making portable gaming more popular there...but a lot of it comes down to console gaming being expensive as shit and they can't afford to take too many risks on that stage anymore.

Now, I could be wrong.  Maybe the WiiU will flop and the PS4 and Xbox 720 will prove to be the last great consoles before we switch to things that will most likely look and behave completely different from normal consoles (or PCs) for our gaming needs.   But allow me to make a prediction on what 2015/2016 will look like from both Sony AND Microsoft.  This is just me, pulling things out of my ass, but you see if they make sense: multiple SKUs from both companies (a "Basic" and "Advanced" tier), the basic will cost around $500 while the advanced will cost $750.  Games will cost around $70 (possibly $80), and controllers will be roughly 60 bucks. Each.   The price of "bleeding edge" technology.   Smart gamers have been saying "we don't need a new system" as long as...less smart ones have been saying "yes we do".   But maybe there's a different solution to the whole thing, if we just look at things a little differently.  One that involves shorter console generations (five years maximum) but less impressive leaps in graphic and overall technical ability?   Or maybe it doesn't matter because cell phones are going to kill consoles and PCs both.  Who knows, I'm just a guy with a blog.

(This first MAG turned out to be longer than I expected, but that's cool.  I'll be doing another one next week about digital gaming and all that that entails; hopefully it'll be a fair bit shorter but who knows?  I'm long-winded.  Catch you next time.)

Freeverse Fridays: DeLaZoo

Changed the name to fit the video. Similar idea, but even he knows/says its not a freestyle.   DeLaZoo's one of the more interesting rappers to come out of YouTube--he's pretty new but I think he has a lot of talent.   Check him out as he raps over four classic hip-hop/soul beats.


Music Video of the Week: Phonte ft. Carlitta Durand - Gonna Be a Wonderful Night








Charity Starts at Home.  Go cop it here: http://www.theforeignexchangemusic.com/2011/08/phonte---charity-starts-at-home-official-cover-art-and-album-tracklist.php  (Apparently Blogger isn't allowing you to link shit anymore.   Go figure.) 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Battle Rap Wednesdays: OSA vs 24/7

Another vid from King of the Dot.  This was one I saw early this year, and its actually one of my favorites.  Both rappers came pretty hard though personally I feel like OSA edged it out with his second and third verses.  At 23 minutes, this one's a lot shorter than the normal videos I link to, so no excuses--check that shit out.


Shonen Survival 1

Bear with me folks, I'm trying something new here.  It's going to be a series of articles (since I know its hard to digest the longer stuff) that basically came about from me spending too much time in my apartment by myself.   Hopefully you'll find them as hilarious as I do.

Inevitably, if a group of geeky people sit down and talk long enough, just as certain as Steven Blum's next voice acting role, one of them will eventually utter these words: "I wish I lived in an anime universe."   And from there the discussion will, at least temporarily, veer off into what anime universe do you wish you could live in.  Depending on the group, you'll get different answers, but almost ALWAYS there'll be someone who will mention some shonen anime series and talk about how awesome it must be to live there.

But, is it really?  This, is a semi-realistic look at what it would be like to be a normal person in a shonen anime series.

Dragon Ball Z



So let's start with the grand-daddy of them all (at least to American fans, plus I was never able to watch Saint Seiya), the one series responsible for a whole host of 90's kids getting into Japanese animation in the first place: Dragon Ball Z.  On the surface, this would seem like a fairly safe universe to get involved in.  Yeah, tons of villains are constantly attacking, but all the fights take place miles away from most human civilization, so all you have to do is hope you can run into the perverted old man with shades and just hang out with him until you learn how to fly.  Right?

Chances of Survival: LOW.  Oh, wrong.  So, so, so, so very wrong.  To give you an idea of just how fucked you are, Nappa's first response upon landing on Earth was to vaporize the city he and Vegeta landed in.  No ceremony, no power-up.  Just boom.  And that's only the start of your worries.  Cell spent weeks terrorizing the entire human race, sucking up any and every human he could find, draining their organic matter until the only thing left was the useless remains of his victim's epidermis.  And since Cell eventually went toe to toe with people who's power levels were in the millions and humans are generally only around 2-7 or so, guess how many cities he had to go through before he was considered a threat?

Think you're safe if you live in the country?  Really?  You DO know they just seek out places that don't SEEM populated with people, and once they get there they can't really focus on your tiny, insignificant 5 of a power level so if an errant energy blast capable of shattering mountains just happens to take you out...sorry?  At least you died in the service of a greater cause: One of the Saiyans had to see how strong the villain REALLY was before he showed his secret new technique/Super Saiyan form.  Your sacrifice was not in vain.

 It's pretty much a guarantee that every human on the planet dies at least once, and in all likelihood, multiple times.  You DO get wished back to life with the Dragon Balls though, which is something the heroes not only know, but take advantage of when they need extra time to train.



 Hiding's kinda pointless too though, since just the characters powering up (Hero or Villain) alone causes earthquakes and storms that would spend at least a week being talked about on television in the real world for the enormous death counter they'd rack up, which is something they don't usually mention in the series, for somewhat obvious reasons...

So at this point, you're probably thinking, "Well shit, I'll just start training so I can take on the bad guys myself!"  ...Good luck with that.  This is Dragon Ball Z and everyone knows humans aren't capable of getting jack-shit done.  At best you'll attempt a poorly planned out suicide attack after the bad guy of the week beats you senseless.  Which will fail.  Stay at home and wait for the Saiyans to finish the guy off.   You can play a game with your friends where you each try and figure out just how many weeks you don't remember going by because some douchebag with energy powers obliterated you.

Okay, that's Shonen Survival 1.  I hope you liked it.  My plans are to put one up a week, so be here next week for a new installment.

A New Challenger Appears!

And so, we're given the first new character of Injustice announced in several months:


I'm not sure why I didn't think of Green Arrow.  Well, technically I did back in my Injustice prediction list, but he was just someone I tossed in to fill out the roster.   But it makes so much sense: DC's really into "synergizing the brand" and all that jazz, so who better to place in the game than a character who's got a series coming out really really soon on the CW?  (Actually, even this announcement is perfectly planned: the series premieres tomorrow night.)

Green Arrow seems to fit really well as a technical character with a lot of variety in his special attacks via the trick arrows he employs.  This also almost guarantees Deathstroke being added since he'll be appearing in the Arrow television series, and is somewhat of a nemesis to both Green Arrow and Nightwing anyway.

Also, just as a guess, with 14 characters left to appear but only seven months until release, I'd look for another character to be announced in about two weeks or so.  Most likely a villain, which means I won't care as much, but I'll still probably post about it.  Especially if it further validates the list I created. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Era of MarvelNOW

I've never been more impressed with Marvel Comics than I am now. For those out of the loop, starting in October Marvel is beginning its own version of DC's New 52 line of comics. While New 52 claimed to be a "relaunch", in terms of comic history (continuity) it was really a reboot for most characters, with some characters' history having changed completely or disappeared entirely and we're suddenly tracking their first years appearing on DC Earth. MarvelNOW is more along the lines of what DC's New 52 claimed to be: They have relaunched a lot of their most popular characters' into new titles, shuffling around their writers and artists to different titles to offer us a new vision on fan-favorite books. And rather than launch all at once, they've chosen to launch no more than a single new title each week from October to February.

We're not aware of them all just yet, but the ones I've seen have largely wow'd me, and what else does Jumping in Headfirst exist for if not to inform you of dope shit? So here we go with some of the best titles coming out of MarvelNOW.

Avengers/New Avengers




Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Jerome Opena (Avengers), Steve Epting (New Avengers)
Launch Date: December (Avengers) and January (New Avengers)

Jonathan Hickman is one of Marvel's best writers right now, known for writing incredibly intricate stories filled with interesting characters and huge, epic ideas.  Having him on Avengers after Brian Michael Bendis is probably the only move that made any real sense.  He's already made a name for himself from Secret Warriors, Fantastic Four, and FF, so having him on these two titles is probably one of the most-anticipated books coming out this fall.

Until recently we were largely in the dark about these books and what they were about, but earlier today Marvel allowed an interview between Hickman and his editorial team, and the comic news sites.  We've learned that the New Avengers will focus around Marvel's Illuminati and will be a darker, more realistic book, while the flagship title Avengers will be a brighter, more optimistic title with a giant team to face bigger threats.  Personally, my interest is more with the latter than the former, but I'm signing on for both since its the first time I've been excited about the Avengers in seven years.


All-New X-Men
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Launch Date: November 7th



JiH was created well after I'd gotten over my dislike for Bendis and what he'd done to Marvel Comics.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't and still am not a fan of his, but I recognize what he's done for Marvel and that at least in a financial sense, it was a good thing.  All that said, I have to recognize when the guy has a good idea on his hands.  Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Spider-Men, and now this.  The theme behind All-New X-Men is that the original five X-Men come to the present and get to see what becomes of themselves in their own future timelines.  The most interesting part is that Bendis is portraying this as the original five's own version of Days of the Future Past, a horrible future they have to stop/change.  It's such an original, brilliant idea, that until he does something to really piss me off, I'm on board.

Iron Man
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land
Launch Date: November



It may not have been his intention at all, but to me Matt Fraction's Iron Man was all about taking post-Civil War Tony Stark and making him into a character people would actually want to root for again.  Having succeeded at that job, Gillen's Iron Man seems to be just about reminding us how a superhero/entrepreneur/super-scientist/playboy could be interesting.  Seems like a fairly easy job. He'll even be bringing back the specialized armors, an idea that was a draw for me from the very first time I learned about the characters.  As good as Fraction's Iron Man was, I'm looking forward to a brand-new take.

Journey into Mystery
Writer: Kathryn Immonen   
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Launch Date: November






I like it when people get to use supporting characters as main characters.  There's so much more you can do with someone who's just been quietly doing their thing in the background of panels--those characters who've been seen in the giant splash page of every crossover ever, but never given their own book to shine in.  Periodically one of the Big Two will take one of these characters and give them their own title, and for whatever reason this time Marvel's decided to give Thor's old book to Lady Sif.  If I haven't made it blindingly obvious by now: I like bad-ass warrior women.  Its a thing.  And I can't wait to see what Immonen can do with what's kind of the progenitor of kick-ass females.

Fantastic Four/FF
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Mark Bagley (Fantastic Four) and Mike Allred (FF)

Launch Date: November 14th (Fantastic Four) and November 28th (FF)








I swear, no other book is as lucky in finding talented creative teams as FF.  If you can't find a run you like, these characters just aren't for you; period.  The World's Greatest Heroes continue their lucky streak with Matt Fraction on writing and Mark Bagley and freaking Mike Allred of Madman! fame on art for their two books.

Fantastic Four appears to be the story of the coolest roadtrip ever, with Reed and Sue packing up the kids and the two weird uncles and going across time and space, giving Franklin and Valerie a chance to have a hands on experience with the Big Bang, or ancient Rome (you know, those minor events of history).

Meanwhile, FF will be a team made up of people appointed by the original Fantastic Four to take over for them while they're away.  Featuring Scott Lang (Ant-Man), She-Hulk, Medusa, and Miss Thing (basically, the Human Torch's girlfriend), its supposed to be the flipside of Fantastic Four.  While I'm not yet sure what that means since neither book is on the stands, I have to say I love the wackiness of the line-up, and the fact that they actually inverted the gender ratio for the new team (nice touch Matt).  I'm looking forward to the insanity of both titles in the same way he brought it to Uncanny X-Men and Invincible Iron Man.

Avengers Assemble
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Launch Date: November 14th



So, when Avengers Assemble first launched I thought it was kinda goofy.  I mean, I get it.  The idea of having a line-up of the team that's essentially the movie characters, doing things that aren't tangled up in continuity so that anyone can pick it up.  That's a great reason for the book to exist to us, but inside the Marvel Universe, what the fuck is the point of ANOTHER Avengers team?   What are they there to do that the New Avengers, or the main Avengers, or the Secret Avengers, or the Avengers Academy can't do?

I read a few issues of the title, and I never got an answer.  But I'm giving the book another chance with the creative change.  I like Kelly Sue DeConnick's work, and I'm hoping that even if she can't make me realize why this team is necessary, that she can at least give me some entertaining stories to make it not matter.   The first arc is supposedly an "Amazing Race" type deal, where Spider-Woman and the Hulk and Iron Man and Thor compete against each other in a grand search, so I'm hoping for a lighter, more fun-type of Avengers book since that's the feel that I've gotten from solicitations and website interviews with DeConnick herself.

Thor: God of Thunder
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic
Launch Date: November 14th




First off, just look at that art.  I realize the internet as a whole seems to have tried to wean itself away from this word, but there's no other way to describe it: epic.  It just looks like the start to some crazy, epic fantasy story with Thor in Asgard doing really cool crap.
 
And, from the interview I read, that's pretty much what it's about.  It takes place in three different time periods of Thor's life--one where he's the god of the Vikings and getting in random fights, another where he's Thor in the modern world as an Avenger, and the last where he's an old man in a future gone terribly wrong.   I'm the first to admit I'm not hugely interested in the last part, but the whole point of a story like this (I'd think) is to fix something like that so it DOESN'T happen.

In any case, Jason Aaron's a talented writer whose work I've simply never had a reason to check out before because the titles he was doing weren't ones I was interested in (because not everything is for everybody, something I wish reviewers would get), but this has jumped out at me as a title to try and pick up when it comes out in November.

Indestructible Hulk
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Launch Date: November 21st


Let's establish some things.  1.) Mark Waid is brilliant.  2.) Leinil Yu is an amazing artist.  3.) Mark Waid's Daredevil is one of the coolest things to come out of Marvel in years.  The unique view and gorgeous art have combined to make one of the best superhero comics from the Big Two in the better part of a decade, and Mark seems to have found a combination to make the Hulk work just as well.  From what I can tell, it sounds like Bruce Banner will no longer treat the Hulk like a burden, but like a weapon or a tool to be utilized.  If that's the case, there's a metric ton of story material he can get from that, and I look forward to seeing every bit of it.


And, that's it.  There are a few more teasers that have trickled out since then, but no idea what the titles are and I don't feel like telling you I'm looking forward to "Dan Slott's Superior" or whatever.  So whenever Marvel lets us know their remaining MarvelNOW books I'll do another one of these.  For now, this one's long enough.  Peace. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Battle Rap Wednesdays: Dizaster vs. poRICH

You know the deal. It's Battle Rap Wednesday. This time we're going with a different league who kinda threw me off when I heard about them. Its called King of the Dot, a pretty big, competitive battle rap league in Canada. This is a fairly recent battle from their World Domination 3 DVD. It's a title shot, so the winner of this goes on to be the actual "King". Normally I have a clear favorite in battle raps but in this case I was kinda even since they both spit some nice lines. Check it out:



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Music Video of the Week: Dumbfoundead - Korean Jesus

Another video coming from one of my favorite rappers right now, Dumbfoundead.  Korean Jesus is borderline sacrilegious as far as titles to call oneself, but he approaches it with such a non-serious attitude that it's hard to be offended.  Plus overall this is just a dope track.



Be sure to check out Dumbfoundead's new album Take the Stares on October 16th.  (Totally just realized that was in two weeks.  Sick.)