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Director’s Commentary on The Buy Pile for October 29, 2009

Posted in comics on October 29th, 2009 by Hannibal Tabu

Director’s commentary for The Buy Pile this week? Sure, why not?

Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine: I have to admit, I’ve been a fan of Noh-Varr since the Morrison/Jones mini-series, and I don’t really think he’s been properly utilized since. Well, except here. Since Fantomex is another Morrison creation, they have a great natural synergy, and that’s good stuff. Plus, their personalities (as Jason Aaron shows) can work well. I could imagine a team-up mini-series with these two, maybe even a movie franchise. All I know is, I’d love to see more of them working together, especially since Noh-Varr essentially doesn’t have anything else to do with his time. I will admit, I was bothered that there wasn’t a bigger public notice of one of Osborn’s premiere “heroes” going AWOL, but whatever.

Astro City: Astra Special #2: Same basic comment as always: “more please!” Another world I would love to just walk around in, as rich and as well-developed as Fables, in its way. I have no idea why Busiek and Anderson don’t just live in these stories — financial reasons, probably, but I honestly don’t know — but I never want them to stop. Aw, that just made me miss Top 10 a little, since it felt the same way.

The Incredible Hercules #137: I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy Amadeus Cho. He’s like a precursor for Destiny from Genius where the line between “hero” and “villain” for the character is often hard to find, much less choose a side. Moreover, for Marvel, between Amadeus Cho and Jimmy Woo, Marvel is putting together some pretty happening Asian characters. Like Cage almost stopped embarrassing me all the time, too. I won’t beat the “creators of color” drum given that Greg Pak was given a free hand here, but it hangs in the back of my mind.

Jack of Fables #39: … honestly? I need this series to be funnier. I still like it, I’m liking the almost Noh-Varr vibe I’m getting from the new Jack Frost, but the “funny” counterpoint to the “serious” Fables was a perfect balance. Still really good, but not quite there yet.

Nova #30: This series and Guardians of the Galaxy are so close almost every month. In better economical times, it’d be easy to just lower the bar an inch and let ‘em in. Darned global economic downturn! I like the development of Richard Ryder as a leader of men, almost as much as I love Jack Flag in space (who’d have thought that guy’d get a Geoff Johns-style revamping?).

Other notes:

- Osborn needs a plan. He’s king of the hill, but even he must see how precarious it is. His own son almost messed it all up.

- I get the feeling DC hates me personally and is making these books intentionally to contradict my tastes. That’s delusional, I know, but I can’t dodge the feeling. Especially after Ambush Bug went so wrong. I’m a die-hard Ambush Bug fan, and a Giffen devotee since the 80s, so if you lose me there, that says a lot.

- Remember when Vertigo was cool? I should send them a pitch for their crime line. Except I remember one of their big editors cowering away from me like I was a mugger when I went to say “hi,” before even saying my name. Meh.

- I wish Boom! Studios would just collect all these little minis they use as movie pitches. I’d much prefer 2 Guns (for example) as one chunk.

- I’m kind of mad this is the first we’re hearing of Dr. Gregory Stark. More please.

- I’m ignoring the Douglas Ramsey short story that popped up in my heads after reading New Mutants. I am. Shut up!

- Remember when Ms. Marvel was good, right after Karla Sofen took on the role? Those Storytellers … man, they screwed things up. If they’re the deus ex machina. that unseats Norman, I may have to travel to NYC and throw up on Marvel’s front porch.

- Seriously? Franken-Castle? Remender, sorry, that’s wholly wrong. Punisher doesn’t need a rogue’s gallery. He shoots people. It’s sometimes funny, like gallows humor. Don’t mess with the formula.

- I never thought I’d say I hate anything done by the genius behind Nightly News and Pax Romana, but Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four is a tragedy. Not in a good way.

- I really hope you’ll pre-order The Untamed from Stranger Comics, a dark fantasy story about how an unscrupulous man facing purgatory seeks vengeance against his enemies, yet he is conflicted with the hope of redemption and salvation in the eyes of his daughter. It’s in Previews right now, pages 285 and 286 SKU #OCT091072, and is beloved by both Watchmen producer Lloyd Levin (“What’s not to love about Jones and Bertging’s THE UNTAMED: it’s a Sergio Leone, Frank Frazetta, William Blake fever dream mash-up. And that’s just where it begins!”) and master of horror Clive Barker (“THE UNTAMED promises to be an epic tale, conceived and crafted not only with a great love of comics, but also a profound understanding of the power of visionary storytelling”). Yes, I’m a shill for them. I do it because I believe in the product and the creators. You go now!

Handle it.

Playing (Music): “Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga

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Ella Simone Tabu: The Sneak Preview

Posted in awesomeness on October 25th, 2009 by Hannibal Tabu
Today, the family drove down to Redondo Beach to get what’s called a “4D sonogram” of our new addition (who’s not a candy girl).
At first, she was reluctant to be seen before her world premiere …

“… next time I’m in church, please, no photos …”
… because she was sleepy. She probably had a long night, downloading information from god about how she was coming to run this planet …

“… so if you’re tired … then go take a nap!”

But after a while, with her elder sister and her father speaking at her belly-home like it was a fast food drive in menu, she brightened up …
“… tomorrow will bring, better you, better me …”

… which led the tech to ask, “how did you make such a happy baby?”
It’s hard work, every day, but we’re doing it. Every day.
Playing (Music): “Who’s Your Daddy” by Mook & Fair

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Golden State of Mind

Posted in awesomeness on October 16th, 2009 by Hannibal Tabu

New Yooooooork!
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
There’s nothing you can’t do,
Now you’re in New Yoooooooork!
These streets will make you feel brand new,
the lights will in-spire you,
Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New Yoooooork

There are few cities more storied and more ingrained in western consciousness than New York.

… big city of dreams …

The basis for both Gotham and Metropolis,(1) lauded by Sinatra and Kool G Rap, it’s the home of most of Marvel’s superhero fiction, the site of a laundry list of TV shows and Dick Clark inaugurated every new year of the Cold War, live and broadcasting the cityscape to homes around the world. Just saying the words — “New York” conjures up images of mob bosses and marathons, hot dog carts and high rises, subways and sewer grates, all embedded in endless vistas of blacktop and bustle. Big city of dreams, and all that.

However, I live in Los Angeles,(2) which is a city steeped in an identity crisis. Most of what the world sees of Los Angeles is often rarely even within the city’s legal limits: the beaches of Santa Monica, the Malibu mountains. The glitter-strewn streets of Hollywood(3) even have their own mayor, reluctant to be considered, reluctant to be considered part of the city itself. Oh, when you see crime and riots and Black people, that’s Los Angeles for certain, but that normally only gets labeled “South Central” and marginalized, as if some giant wall separated that part of town from everything the TV would rather you see. Heck, even lauded writer Warren Ellis once called Fullerton a suburb of Los Angeles.(4)

… broadcasting live from Los Angeles

Ask people about New York and you’ll get easy answers to what it is. LA? Not so much. Is it the glamour of Beverly Hills (its own city, BTW) or the squalor of Watts? Is it the Latin flavors of Eastern Avenue or the African American tastes of West Boulevard?(5)? Is it the decaying infrastructure of downtown or the neon gaudiness of the Staples Center environs?

That’s the hard part: it’s all of those things at different times to different people and none of them. The movie Crash(6) tried to capture this and took a good swing, but like Beyonce might sing, “it’s too big, it’s too wide, it’s too strong, it won’t fit.” Which is why my current conundrum is such a concern.

People from Rochester to Hempstead have claimed Jay-Z and Alicia Keys “Empire State of Mind” as an anthem, a rallying cry. Which is cool! It’s totally awesome, and it’s an amazing song despite Shawn Carter’s lackluster delivery(7) given the anthemic production of Al Shux, Janet “Jnay” Sewell-Ulepic and Angela Hunte (sampling “Love on a Two-Way Street” was even smart, as the title gives you concrete ideas from the get go) paired with the soaring vocals of Keys herself. It’s an amazing piece of work that grandmommas are singing along to.

That ain’t right …

Listening one day, I thought, “What about Cali?”

My brain reeled at the fact that there’s really not a California anthem that can stand up to that kind of scrutiny, Tupac notwithstanding. A song that electrified the populace and captured the zeitgeist, equal parts classic instrumentation and modern day swagger. The fact of it made me sick, honestly, so I started thinking: who could signify(8) for if not Los Angeles, the entire state of California that way? Who can make an anthem for the Left Coast and call it “Golden State of Mind?”

I started at the basics: the music. Dr. Dre. Nobody else even deserves to be considered, sorry to say, given the overwhelming combination of his musicianship and his notoriety. If you’re gonna do it for everybody, you’ll need Dre. His star power outshines the musical sounds from the east. Check.

The doctor is in …

Then I thought about who would rap on such a track? Snoop’s from Long Beach, so he’s out. Aceyalone has the brains but not the name. Too Short has the legacy but not the talent nor the versatility. Planet Asia’s not a big enough name. Crap … then I remembered. TV show? Movie roles? Bridging the gap between backpack rap and street sounds, from his work with Ras Kass to his work with Dre? Let’s get Mister X to tha Z, Mr. Black Bruce Willis, Xzibit on the microphone!(8)

The Golden State Warrior

Okay, Dre and Xzibit, that’s not bad. But you need a vocalist and you have two LA area people already. Who’s a Cali vocalist who … wait a second … check the TV show part again, necessary to get into the minds of people around the country, okay. Vocal chops are rough but relatable, sometimes called this generation’s Mary J. Blige. She’s from the Bay Area too … Keyshia Cole. There you go.(10)

Keepin’ it ‘hood

So: Dr. Dre on the track, Xzibit on the verses, Keyshia Cole on the chorus and riffing. That’s freaking amazing! That could work! They have to pick a sample that’ll be fast enough and bass-driven enough to play to Dre’s sensibilities while pulling at the memories of Black people everywhere. Xzibit will have to capture the cultural, social and economic diversity of the city, something he can do if he’s in the mindstate he was when he worked on songs like “Wild Pitch” or “Los Angeles Times.”(11) Keyshia … she’s gotta sing her behind off, on some “Love” level wailing, get sisters acting an idiot when they try to reproduce it. It has to show the distance and the claustrophobia, the simmering racial tensions and the laid back sunshine vibe, the balance of the world watching but nobody really seeing the truth …

… so … what do we have to do to make this happen? Let’s get to work!

Playing (Music): “Amsterdam” by Mick Boogie and Peter, Bjorn and John feat. Evidence, Fashawn and Jerreau


(1) = Admittedly, now people say Gotham is essentially Boston, which is cool by me. Hard luck city, hard scrabble, sure. But after driving in both, the claustrophobia of Gotham CIty art is all Manhattan — the crappy parts where you’re checking over your shoulder a lot.

(2) = I am from Memphis, but I recognize the limited appeal — even in a Tennesee-wide urban anthem like the “Stay Fly” remix — of working with other areas. Outside of London, there’s only a handful of English-speaking cities with the personality and hook in western consciousness that could hope to gain this kind of mental mindspace, and Chicago’s not ready. I’m sorry. Yes, one day, Kanye, Twista and John Legend will get it together and create the best Chicago anthem ever. Not today. Let’s move on.

(3) = They actually installed this glittering stuff in the streets and sidewalks, so it sparkles as you walk through. Which doesn’t offset the homeless people or the urine or the thrown away Popeye’s bags, but it’s something.

(4) = He was writing about his Desolation Jones series, which took place in LA like Star Wars takes place in “space.” He set a story in the city of Fullerton (a full 30 miles away from most LA locales) and on his Bad Signal mailing list, calling it an LA suburb. I emailed him and called him on it, and he blocked me because he felt I was too worked up about it. I still respect a lot of his work, but he’s kind of a douche sometimes.

(5) = I always thought it was funny that “West” was west of “Western.” Maybe it’s just me.

(6) = Maybe I’m shallow, but the series just never catches my attention, Dennis Hopper or not.

(7) = He’s always been a better writer than performer in my mind. I believe the same of myself, honestly.

(8) = Xzibit was even part of a group called Golden State Warriors with Ras Kass and Saafir. No idea why that never became anything, but I somehow suspect Chris Mullins had something to do with it.

(9) = Yes, I considered The Game for a minute, but the skill levels are close (I’d give X a slight edge, honestly) and the notoriety of Pimp My Ride trumps everything else.

(10) = If I could think of a famous enough Latin singer — male or female — from California I’d go with them, honestly.

(11) = His pre-Dre period, I’m sorry to say, is his richest creative time.

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