we all love the greats. Or at least I do, from my lonely deserted Island Of Comic-Obsession. Alan Moore (who I just posted about here: http://www.wrankmusic.com/blog/?p=1534), Warren Ellis (http://www.wrankmusic.com/blog/?p=1027), Garth Ennis (http://www.wrankmusic.com/blog/?p=1305), Ed Brubaker, Scott Snyder... I can go on forever. I'm like that - it's kind of a problem. (if those don't come up as actual links, fuck it, I'm at work and I'm lazy so deal)
However one of the biggest surprises for me in 2012 was the discovery and immediate revelation that British writer extraordinaire Simon Spurrier was single-handedly shoving himself into my list of "Favorite Graphic Novel And Comic Writers EVAR OMGZ." Si Spurrier knows what the fuck he's doing, and he's probably one of the most obviously fun writers to actually read. What does that mean exactly, Dave? Well to me it means, loving every single goddamn word balloon. Chuckling to yourself routinely throughout the storyline because his writing is cheeky and/or devastatingly clever. That's actually the best adjective I would use to describe Si's work: CLEVER. And so damn entertaining. And since 2013 is shaping up to already be a huge year for him where he blasts all over the map (that sounds dirty somehow), I might as well make the effort to get you up to date with him now.
My first foray into the world of Spurrier was the insistence by a fellow blogger from a comics-loving website I read regularly, that a book called Extermination by BOOM! Comics, was fucking awesome. I checked it out, and oh, it was. Essentially Extermination is this; post-apocalyptic Earth, you open on a world where aliens have somehow invaded the planet and the devastation they have caused is both complete and total. There is *maybe* 1% of the human population left, if that. Cities are all ruins. And you open on two sole survivors making their way across a barren landscape. Why are they in costumes, though? Well that's because Nox (super-hero) and the Red Reaper (super-villian) used to be super-powered shits that you read about in the capes comics, and they used to actually be each other's nemesis as well, but they are literally depending on each other for survival now. Because, hell, they might even be the last humans left on earth for all they know. Great way to open a story right? The last issue (#8) just came out yesterday and all I have to say is - god damn, wait until you read the conclusion.
So that's a great introduction to a unique, creator-owned book right? I looked a bit more into his work around the same time as discovering Extermination and also discovered that, holy fucking shit, Spurrier also does a book for Avatar Press's Crossed series, which is hands-down one of my favorite ongoing books EVER. Wrankmusic's own Steve borrowed all of my Crossed books and blew through them all, and for the most part loved the shit out of them. Crossed was originally penned by Garth Ennis who created the universe, and it's about a worldwide, widespread infection that essentially turns humanity into depraved, murderous raping lunatics; and the few survivors of said infection (much like a post-apocalyptic zombie story a la "Walking Dead") have to struggle to find shelter, food and supplies and also not be rapefucked. It might sound weird, but it's probably one of the most engaging and thoroughly disturbing pieces of fiction I've ever read. The 1st trade paperback (or Volume 1 as it's known) written By Ennis and drawn by Jacen Burrows (see: Alan Moore piece) is a must-fucking-have. I implore you. Go buy now with funds. The opening pages of that book are probably some of the best comic pages I've ever read... the suspense, the shock, the slow realization of what's happening. Amazing.
Anyway, Spurrier's series is called Crossed: Wish You Were Here, and is actually a completely free webcomic available here: www.crossedcomic.com (and also available in print). Although it would help you to read Ennis' Vol 1 first, you can just jump in if you wish. It's about an small group of survivors that have established a colony on an island, and tells their ongoing tale. I'll tell you one thing; Spurrier is playing the long game with this one and I'm loving it. He's created way more questions than given us answers, and the twists and turns, the cliffhangers he leaves us off with every Thursday when the webcomic gets updated, is brilliant. Aaannd it's also free, so go read the thing, yeah?
One of the biggest surprises from out of Si's word processor, however, is the inclusion of a series called X-Men Legacy to Marvel's new "NOW!" titles, written by Spurrier. Legacy is a completely new series dedicated to telling the story of one David Haller, otherwise known as Legion, otherwise known as the son of Professor Charles Xavier. If you're unfamiliar with Legion, well he's probably the most powerful mutant that the world has ever seen; way more powerful than his Dad, Jean Grey, Scarlet Witch, or anyone else your nerd brain can think of. The problem is he also suffers from devastatingly acute schizophrenia and is constantly in a struggle to maintain his headspace. There's a whole cast of characters taking up residence in David's brain and depending on who's in control, it not only affects David's actions but also his powers. Very cool storyline. I started reading this only due to being a fan of Spurrier's other titles and I'm so happy I did. It also reminds me of a time where in my younger years I was constantly reading Marvel books. It feels familiar and warm. mmm, so warm.
Aaaanyway, Si just teased what I'm assuming is a new book he's planning for 2013 with Image on his tumblr here (http://sispurrier.tumblr.com/) called Why Are The Weavers, and I'm sure he's got more in the works. Keep appraised, peoples. This Brit has the goods. Sorry for the long post but hey, what can I say, I love this shit.
(a bit of a caveat, if you will: I always get into a little bit of a background explanation before I delve into what my post is mainly about, many of you might have noticed that already. so for those that enjoy the extra information, cool, for those of you that just want me to get to the point, I apologize.)
You've heard of Alan Moore before; yes, you have.
As one of our generation's most influential and ground-breaking graphic novel writers, the English writer has won pretty much every single award that a comic writer can win - and he deserves it. He's not only famous for his many extremely popular works (V For Vendetta, Watchmen, From Hell, Batman: The Killing Joke, just to name a few) but he's also infamous for his antics. He declared himself a "ceremonial magician" in 1993, which turned some heads for sure, and identifies himself as an anarchist. Moore is known to be vehemently opposed to anything and everything that publishers try to do with his successful ventures, from all of the movie adaptations of his material, to DC Comics recently taking the universe Moore created and establishing an entire movement of comics based around the "Watchmen" characters - without his consent, approval, and most importantly, his help. He's also known to be extremely hard to work with, probably has the heads of ex-editors in his office on stakes, and he will not work with pretty much all of the publishers he's ever worked with again.
Which is why it was surprising (pleasantly and genuinely) when Avatar Press started putting out some new material by him, one of the most recent being Neonomicon illustrated by the uber-talented Jacen Burrows. Neonomicon is set in the H.P. Lovecraft universe and shows that Moore is definitely a fan of Lovecraftian horror. If you aren't a fan of Lovecraft stuff, have never read any Lovecraft, or have never even heard of the guy, it doesn't matter in the case of Neonomicon though. The reader is treated intelligently and it's not necessary for you to know anything about Cthulhu. This is more of a psychological thriller and detective story, similar to something like the movie Se7en.
Neonomicon is easily one of the scariest and most gripping graphic novels I have ever had the "pleasure" of reading. Parts of this book shook me to my very core. But as psychological thrillers go, man, this one beats them all. It starts off with Chapter 1, called "The Courtyard" which is essentially like an extended prologue or introduction into the story. The rest of the book, which is the actual "Neonomicon" storyline, starts directly after, with a few chapters of it's own. This is definitely the scariest book Moore has ever written, and he doesn't hold back when it comes to subject matter. I'm warning you right now, there is some stomach-shifting material in here; there is rape, there is murder, there is gore. There are some pretty explicit sexual situations and imagery. That's not why the book is shocking though; it's not overt gore like in the Crossed series, shocking stuff for the sake of shock. But the book has enough jarring material that it's already been banned and pulled from the public library system in South Carolina (!!!) (http://cbldf.org/2012/12/neonomicon-banned-in-south-carolina/)
But enough about the disturbing material within; Neonomicon is an incredible new story written by who is probably our best, or one of our best, writers in the medium. The artwork is also absolutely stellar, and when I heard it was illustrated by Jacen Burrows it made the book that much more appealing. I'm more of a 'writer' guy than an 'artwork' guy to begin with, I just don't get as excited about that aspect of the medium as I do about the writers that I love and follow. That said, however, Jacen Burrows is hands-down my favorite artist in the graphic novel medium and I will collect everything the man does. For me and my tastes, he just does it RIGHT. And he's drawn for a lot of the writers I love, and he's always made their material stronger. His pages are engaging as hell and gorgeous to look at. Neonomicon looks magnificent and I get very excited when I find a new book written by one of the favorite writers, and illustrated by Burrows.
Anyway- do yourself a favor and check this book out - buy it if possible (because it's worth it) or borrow it from me, or whichever library hasn't banned it yet. Just strap yourself in for what you're about to experience, and enjoy the ride. And if you haven't checked out his other books, I don't know what you're waiting for. They are as important of a read as Huxley's "Brave New Wold or Melville's "Moby Dick."
February 25th is the release date for the new project by Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich, Flea, Joey Waronker (Beck's drummer, apparently), and Mauro Refosco. The band is called Atoms for Peace and the album is "Amok". You can listen to two tracks below, both of which sound as twitchy as you'd expect. A few years back, Thom Yorke put out a solo album called "The Eraser". I remember at the time describing it to Steve by saying, "If you like Radiohead you'll probably like it, but even if you don't like Radiohead you might still like it." Steve's response to that was, "Doesn't that describe every album ever?"
Touche', Steve. I know where you sleep.
Bonus track: Other Lives "Tamer Animals - Atoms For Peace Remix"
when looking at a real, comprehensive list of all of the games that end up coming out in a year, i start to scoff at the amount of 'stress' that i attribute to not getting to all of the games that i actually want to play at a given time. especially across the crazy last two or three months of the year when the real big titles start to come out, the major ones that companies have been done with and shelved for the simple reason that that is the season to drop the major titles. i think i figured that i played about 15 or 16 games across this year... and maybe a handful more demos. i've narrowed down my list to these top ten games, which means that basically the games that didn't make the list, i probably didn't like all that much.
so here are some games i recommend from 2012. and in an order that i'd say to check them out in based on quality. or something.
10. kingdoms of amalur: reckoning
skyrim lite. less buttons. less lengthy quests. less gum up.
9. lego: lord of the rings
massive. pure fun. just like the other lego games, SPRAWLING and INTIMIDATING if you're a completionist.
8. medal of honor: warfighter
extremely short. first person shooter. modern era. good storyline between cuts. almost literally 'Act of Valor' the video game.
very, very cool unique IP. the focus is stealth here, but i found that the most fun was had trying to clean up a botched mission once your sneaking and hiding plot had crumbled. glad to see that this one isn't tied up in any other series'.
6. max payne 3
rockstar nails it again. incredible third person shooter. i don't think i really even used the signature bullet time that often. the noir narrative was a little played, but some of the environments were stunning and the storyline that they tied together was a solid action piece. i'd definitely play it again.
5. mass effect 3
i think this gets such a high ranking similar to how 'LOTR: Return of the King' won a ton of oscars. this summed up the entire rest of the series, sealed up all the little things that you needed ton. and if you are invested in the series, it will yank on every last heartstring you have tied up in the crew of the normandy. outstanding. if you've not played the series yet, do yourself the service of playing it. even if you start from two and cerberus pack the choices from one. unbelievable.
4. NHL 2013
apart from nhl 2002 (yeah, really; ten seasons with playoffs. fully played), i think this is the iteration of the series that i've put the most time into. ultimately, really, it's just another repackaged 2012. same game, i'd say. but the added GM Connected mode consumes me on a weekly basis. playing through a season with seven of my friends is possibly one of the funnest endeavors i've embarked on in video gaming. i think this must be what it's like to play games of 'WoW' with friends. i'm not saying we role play, but i'm not saying we haven't called each other on the phone and talked about some in-season drama. it's real. also. welcome back NHL. will this just make us get into the game even more?
3. Spec Ops: the Line
DARK AS FUCK. i'm not really sure what other words come to mind about this game. it's a third person shooter. voiced by nolan north. you have two squadmates with you, both of whom have pretty fleshed out characters that bring with it very witty and enjoyable banter and interactions. but this game puts you through some intense, moral stuff. to shed some light on the plot, the entire campaign is inspired by 'Heart of Darkness' (and thereby 'Apocalypse Now'). shit gets pretty real. and as a game itself, it controls well and moves quickly. great. GREAT.
and these last two, i go back and forth on, based on what i'm playing at the time. but i think this is what cements it.
2. far cry 3
son. there hasn't been a game that sucked me in this deep, this unexpectedly since 'The Saboteur.' i'm doing every last fetch side quest, collecting every... collectible. poring over every piece of the map, investigating every cave, every nook, every cranny. hunting every animal, crafting every piece of equipment. and occasionally tending to the story, which is extremely well told. while the support characters are quasi-unlikable MTV BRAAHH fodder, the main characters that you're playing and interacting with are superbly written and well voice acted. i can't recommend this game any more strongly. you want a good first person shooter? yeah, this is it. you want a dope open world, sandbox style game? oh. yeah. you made it. i have an open, but deep relationship with this game. i feel like we'll be spending 2/14 together alone.
1. borderlands 2
i was stunned and appalled to see that 'The Walking Dead' won game of the year on spike's video game awards. because, really, i knew in my heart of hearts... i had it etched on a stanley cup... that this game was going to walk away, head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. this was supposed to be THAT GAME. and it delivered. the looting, the questing, the leveling. this game takes what i just described far cry to be, and adds to it tenfold. the characters are hilarious. the missions are interesting and diverse, as are the terrains. and possibly the most important part about this game, the big advantage that this game has over the competition? COOPERATIVE PLAY. game changer, game maker. super addicting gameplay, with endless main and support and sidequests, tons of gun choices (billions and trillions), light and easy to jump in on. this is the one, y'all. you want to buy one game that will keep you coming back for the better part of a year? it's borderlands 2. oh. and there are four classes to play through the full story AND DLC packages with. alone. or, again, with your homies. do this.
this is the 2012 top ten list of a blogger/author named Peter Bebergal.
i don't follow him heavily, but he's into some really cool psychedelic, alternative, sci-fi weirdness, so i'm pretty much down.
the appeal of this list, really, is the diversity from some of the things that i generally find myself listening to. i feel like i'll be able to pull a new thing or two out of here.
10. Fresh and Onlys - Long Slow Dance
9. Wymond Miles - Earth Has Doors
8. Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin - Instrumental Tourist
7. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
6. Sic Alps - Sic Alps
5. Alexander Tucker - Third Mouth
4. Panabrite - The Baroque Atrium
3. Pretty Things - SF Sorrow
2. Thee Oh Sees - Putrifiers II
1. Goat - World Music
check out his explanations here.
so joystiq posted their top ten video games of the year. i have a list also, but i'm thinking of fleshing it out a bit.
hell, i'm impressed i played ten games this year.
here ya go. my list up soon... ish?
9. Mass Effect 3
8. Mark of the Ninja
7. Halo 4
5. Super Hexagon
3. The Walking Dead
2. XCom: Enemy Unknown
still haven't played Journey. have only seen the first two episodes of The Walking Dead. already behind on 2013. shoot.
first game i'm looking forward to doesn't come out until first week of February. i can probably get to those other two in time, though i'm going to need to tear myself away from Far Cry 3 first.
the boris portion of this split is awesome. very big fan of what they did here.
couldn't really vibe the joe volk part, but that's fine.
check it! three tracks, about fourteen minutes.
not much more than that.
season 2 is up for streaming on netflix. it's great.
check it out.
This was an interesting year for music, especially on a personal level. I attended my first overnight festival (Firefly) in Dover, Delaware, opening me up to a ton of great new bands; enjoyed some new pop, indie, punk and alternative; enjoyed a bit of genuine Motown style coming back through modern music; listened to a ton of jazz, blues and classical on Sirius XM; and enjoyed my first live country music show to see Blake Shelton. I now step into this new year with a broadened palette and a smile on my face. Especially since the earth is still in tact. Through it all though, I'm here to name 10 albums that I truly enjoyed through tons of listens. I know I definitely didn't hear every new album that surfaced this year, and these may not be what music gurus would consider "the true best" of the year; but this is a personal evaluation of the music that was heard by an open-minded lover of all music.
My Top 10 Albums of 2012
1) Jack White - Blunderbuss
We've been waiting a long time to hear what Jack White would sound like without the filter of his many, many bandmates. "Blunderbuss," a little bit whimsical, a little bit menacing, offered all the things we'd hoped we'd find, plus a few surprises. White manages to create another masterpiece that again shows not only his diversity, but his timelessness.
2) The Deftones - Koi No Yokan
With a band as eclectic as The Deftones, it's anyone's guess what each album will bring. This year's release was no exception, but met any expectations and then some. Koi No Yokan innovates an incredible and seamless journey from start to finish, with bassist Sergio Vega really showing his versatile contribution to the band for the first time. An alluring and poetic work of art from beginning to end.
3) The Hives - Lex Hives
I only recently discovered how consistent this band is in their crazy fun hookiness, but this album separates itself from all the rest of The Hives' catalog. Singer Pelle Almqvist totally steps it up and innovates like never before, showing a low-toned, Nick Cave-esque influence which has great contrast with his other vocals and a fun, lighthearted feel. In a nutshell? Offspring’s “Smash” meets LCD Soundsystem’s “This Is Happening.” Flat out awesome and addicting album.
4) The Killers - Battle Born
For the first time since their debut release, The Killers have floored me. I didn't expect to like this album, nor do I fully understand why I do. With a lyrical and melodic feel quite reminiscent of Springsteen--who I still can't get into--Brandon Flowers' words are delivered beautifully in the shape of story-telling mastery.
5) Band of Skulls - Sweet Sour
Especially coming off their first album, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, which hosted solely one great song, Sweet Sour is a straight up home run with every song as enjoyable as the last.
6) Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
7) The Shins - Port of Morrow
8) Passion Pit - Gossamer
9) St. Vincent/David Byrne - Love The Giant
10) Of Monsters and Men - My Head Is an Animal
Trampled By Turtles - Stars and Satellites
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Here
Tame Impala - Lonerism
Mars Volta - Noctourniquet
Maroon 5 - Overexposed
Massively Depressing Disappointments
Yeasayer - Fragrant World
Sleigh Bells - Reign of Terror
That Tool & Queens of the Stone Age didn't release a new album.
Hope you've had a great year, and if not, better luck this time around. Happy New Year!
here is keith buckley's top ten list from 2012.
full descriptions are over here.
1. Deftones - Koi No Yokan
2. El-P - Cancer 4 Cure
3. Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind
4. G.O.O.D. Music - Cruel Summer
5. Jack White - Blunderbuss
6. Purity Ring - Shrines
7. The Chariot - One Wing
8. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
9. The Hives - Lex Hives
10. The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet