Dropping Science: Marvel’s November Hip-Hop Variants

After immense success with putting Hip-Hop duo Run the Jewels on the cover of a few of their books, Marvel has expanded the idea to give each and every single book in their All-New All-Different line-up its own Hip-Hop variant. We’ve tracked down each cover, provided information about the album inspiring the variant cover, and given our two cents on whether it fits the subject. We’ll be doing this each month for as long as the All-New All-Different brand keeps putting out variants!

October 2015 Hip-Hop Variants

November 4th

Extraordinary X-Men #1 - 3 Feet High and Rising

Extraordinary X-Men #1
Marvel Creative Team: Jeff Lemire (Writer), Humberto Ramos (Artist)
Cover Artist: Sanford Greene
Hip-Hop Album: De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Me, Myself and I,” “Buddy,” “Say No Go,” “Eye Know
How well does it fit?: De La Soul were on the front lines of the wacky, relatable, and socially responsible rhymes. With Lemire writing this new X-Men series, it’s about damn time the X-series got back to its roots.

 

Deadpool #1 - Attention Deficit Deadpool #1
Marvel Creative Team: Gerry Duggan (Writer), Mike Hawthorne (Artist)
Cover Artist: Kaare Andrews
Hip-Hop Album: Wale’s Attention Deficit (2009)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Pretty Girls,” “Chillin‘,” “Beautiful Bliss
How well does it fit?: The album name definitely fits here, as Wade Wilson is one of the most absent-minded characters in pop culture. Wale isn’t nearly as popular as Deadpooly over here, but he gets to have brunch with Jerry Seinfeld, which is kind of zany for a Hip-Hop artist.

 

Drax #1 - Man on the Moon II Drax #1
Marvel Creative Team: CM Punk/Cullen Bunn (Writers), Scott Hepburn (Artist)
Cover Artist: Mike Choi
Hip-Hop Album: KiD CuDi’s Man on the Moon II (2010)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Erase Me,” “Revofev,” “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young
How well does it fit?: Drax has been gaining tons of popularity for his sardonic sense of humor, but really hasn’t done anything to make me want to invest time in his solo career. Same with Cudi. His early success that was launched almost solely from Kanye’s sound floundered around until he began his “acting” career. Here’s hoping Drax won’t flop on his own.

Hercules #1 - Black Flame
Hercules #1
Marvel Creative Team: Dan Abnett (Writer), Luke Ross (Artist)
Cover Artist: Theotis Jones
Hip-Hop Album: Lil B’s Black Flame (2011)

Howard the Duck #1 - Return to the 36 Chambers Howard the Duck #1
Marvel Creative Team: Chip Zdarsky (Writer), Joe Quinones (Artist)
Cover Artist: Juan Doe
Hip-Hop Album: Ol Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers (1993)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” “Brooklyn Zoo,” “Raw Hide
How well does it fit?: Before his untimely death in 2004,  ODB was one of the grimiest dudes in rap. He was one of the few to transform his Wu-Tang membership into a solid career. His shining characteristic was being able to grab his nuts and throw up his middle finger to the authorities – any authority – just like our fowl friend, Howard. Howard, though, might not have the same FBI file as Dirt McGirt, which includes a shootout with NYPD. Rebel.

 

Nova #1 - Born Sinner Nova #1
Marvel Creative Team: Sean Ryan (Writer), Cory Smith (Artist)
Cover Artist: Eric Canete
Hip-Hop Album: J. Cole’s Born Sinner (2013)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Crooked Smile,” “Power Trip,” “Rich Niggaz,” “Born Sinner
How well does it fit?: Cole is one of Hip-Hop’s brightest stars right now. His ability to relate to listeners with common themes and wrap it up with great music is one of his charming qualities. What makes him an ironic choice for a Nova cover is that this is very much a father-son book; J. Cole often raps about his crappy deadbeat father who abandoned him. Dick move, Marvel.

 

Vision #1 - Rolling Papers Vision #1
Marvel Creative Team: Tom King (Writer), Gabriel H Walta (Artist)
Cover Artist: Vanessa Del Ray
Hip-Hop Album: Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers (2011)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Black and Yellow,” “On My Level,” “No Sleep
How well does it fit?: I don’t know what kind of hallucinations that weed is giving Wiz, but they’re not the same one that the Marvel robot gets. Wiz Khalifa looks like the type of kid who got beat up a lot in high school, but he’s been the face of the Hip-Hop skater stoner movement for the past 5 years. Don’t judge him by his appearance, he actually makes some pretty legit feel-good music. A sequel (because album sequels are a thing now) to Rolling Papers is due out next year.

November 11th

All-New All-Different Avengers #1 - Illadelph Halflife All-New All-Different Avengers #1
Marvel Creative Team: Mark Waid (Writer), Adam Kubert/Mahmud Asrar (Artist)
Cover Artist: Jim Cheung
Hip-Hop Album: The Roots’ Illadelph Halflife (1996)
Best Tracks off the Album: “What They Do,” “Ital (The Universal Side),” “The Hypnotic
How well does it fit?: I’m sorry, I have to say it. The Roots are dope as f*ck, and this group of Avengers is dope as f*ck. They might not draw headlines individually (save for Iron Man – he can be the ?uestlove of The Avengers), but as a group, both groups make some wonderful music. This will be a solid book, especially with Mark Waid at the helm.


All-New Hawkeye - Mecca and the Soul Brother
All-New Hawkeye #1
Marvel Creative Team: Jeff Lemire (Writer), Ramón Pérez (Artist)
Cover Artist: Sanford Greene
Hip-Hop Album: Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s Mecca and the Soul Brother (1992)
Best Tracks off the Album: “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.),” “Straighten It Out,” “Can’t Front on Me
How well does it fit?: Hawkeye and Hawkguy are one in the same. Kate Bishop has come under the tutelage of the Avenger Clint Barton, but has pulled his butt from the fire plenty of times. Similarly, Pete Rock and CL Smooth are a rapper/DJ combination so solid that even saying their names separately sounds weird unless spoken together. Near the end of Fraction/Aja’s Hawkeye series, these two split up and the book suffered. Hopefully these two can stick together and whoop some ass.


All-New Wolverine #1 - Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood
All-New Wolverine #1
Marvel Creative Team: Tom Taylor (Writer), David Lopez (Artist)
Cover Artist: Keron Grant
Hip-Hop Album: DMX’s Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (1998)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Slippin‘,” “Blackout,” “Coming From
How well does it fit?: Unlike DMX, the sun has not set on the possibility for a good Wolverine book. However, X-23 has a lot of unbridled rage that she can channel into a successful stint as the new Wolverine, just like DMX did in songs like “Slippin.” In all seriousness, this album was one of DMX’s weakest, but of all the DMX album covers, this one was too good to pass up.


Carnage #1 - Dare iz a Darkside
Carnage #1
Marvel Creative Team: Gerry Conway (Writer), Mike Perkins (Artist)
Cover Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Hip-Hop Album: Redman’s Dare Iz A Darkside (1994)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Bobyahed2dis,” “Cosmic Slop,” “Rockafella,” “Can’t Wait
How well does it fit?: This is one of the best fits out of all the variants – matching the spastic, chaotic Carnage with one of the biggest weirdos in all of Hip-Hop. Redman is off the charts in terms of his individuality, but still garners enough respect to rock with the mainstream artists. Plus, this cover is CLASSIC 90’s Hip-Hop.

Illuminati - Power

Illuminati #1
Marvel Creative Team: Josh Williamson (Writer), Shawn Crystal (Artist)
Cover Artist: Brittany Holloway-Brown
Hip-Hop Album: Ice T’s Power (1988)


The Ultimates #1 - The Fugees
The Ultimates #1
Marvel Creative Team: Al Ewing (Writer), Kenneth Rocafort (Artist)
Cover Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.
Hip-Hop Album: The Fugees’ The Score (1996)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Fu-Gee-La,” “Ready or Not,” “Killing Me Softly,” “No Woman No Cry
How well does it fit?: The Fugees exploded onto the scene in the mid-1990’s when Pras, Lauryn Hill, and Wyclef Jean created the Fugees. All solid artists by themselves (except Pras, he sucks), but together make one of the greatest groups in Hip-Hop history. Sadly, emotions got in the way and they split permanently, but we still have The Score to appreciate. When it comes to the book, I’m ready to see a story with Black Panther and Captain Marvel (oh, and Spectrum, I guess).

 

Web Warriors #1 - Lord WillinWeb Warriors #1
Marvel Creative Team: Mike Costa (Writer), David Bildeon (Artist)
Cover Artist: Damion Scott
Hip-Hop Album: The Clipse’s Lord Willin’ (2002)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Grindin‘,” “When The Last Time,” “Ma, I Don’t Love Her,” “Cot Damn
How well does it fit?: If you’ve had your ear to the group in Hip-Hop over the last decade, you may have heard of The Clipse, but chances are that this group is unknown to you. Two ex-dopeboys (Pusha T and No Malice) from Virginia lay colorful metaphor after another in this album produced by Pharrell’s Neptunes label. The lyrics are hard and grimy, but there’s a certain grace and intellect in their rhymes that eludes most rappers cut from similar cloths. The Web Warriors I assume are picking up where Spider-Verse just left off, and have a crazy ensemble you would expect to be gimmicky put together a decent story.

November 18th

Black Knight #1 - Food and Liquor

Black Knight #1
Marvel Creative Team: Frank Tieri (Writer), Luca Pizzari (Artists)
Cover Artist: Gyimah Gariba
Hip-Hop Album: Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor (2006)
Best Tracks off the Album: “The Cool,” “He Say She Say,” “Daydreamin‘,” “Kick, Push
How well does it fit?: Black Knight has actually gone through over a half-dozen iterations since the mid-fifties, the mantle being passed from generation to generation (similar to Azrael in DC). Somehow he’s managed to fly under the radar, even with the most recent iteration in Black Panther (2005). Lupe is innovative and intelligent, but somehow manages to get overlooked by Hip-Hop heads and mainstream fans alike.


Ms. Marvel #1 - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Ms. Marvel #1
Marvel Creative Team: G. Willow Wilson (Writer), Takeshi Miyazawa/Adrian Alphona (Artists)
Cover Artist: Jenny Frison
Hip-Hop Album: Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Ex Factor,” “Lost One,” “Everything is Everything,” “Nothing Even Matters
How well does it fit?: Oh hell yeah, this is a combination I can dig. One of the most socially-conscious R&B artists of all time is paired with one of the most socially-conscious superheroes in the Marvel roster. It’s just… perfect. If you don’t know Lauryn Hill, go Miseducate yourself. Right now.

 

Silk - The New Danger

Silk #1
Marvel Creative Team: Robbie Thompson (Writer), Stacey Lee (Artist)
Cover Artist: Woo Chul Lee
Hip-Hop Album: Yasin Bey’s (Mos Def’s) A New Danger (2004)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Ghetto Rock,” “Modern Marvel,” “Sex, Love, and Money,” “Zimzallabim,” “Sunshine
How well does it fit?: Cindy Moon has had enough of your bullsh*t, and now she’s robbing banks with Black Cat. We’re not sure how she got there from the end of the world in issue #7, but whatever. Yasin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) has the weight of the people behind his voice, and has numerous songs about telling the establishment to eat it (“Dollar Day” and “Rape Over” to name a couple). At the very least, A New Danger is a perfect album cover for knocking over banks.


Spider-Woman #1 - Capital Punishment
Spider-Woman #1
Marvel Creative Team: Dennis Hopeless (Writer), Javier Rodriguez (Artist)
Cover Artist: Natcha Bustos
Hip-Hop Album: Big Pun’s Capital Punishment (1993)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Still Not A Player,” “Super Lyrical,” Twins (Deep Cover 98),” “Tres Leches
How well does it fit?: I don’t get it; is this a pregnancy joke? Before Pun’s death at 28 years old, the guy weighed over 700 pounds. I mean that he was so fat, his Wikipedia page should list years active ending way before his death in 2000. Fun fact about Pun: besides being one of the most respected MCs of the mid-90s, was also a notorious wife beater. Smooth move, Marvel.


Star Lord #1 - Ivry
Star Lord #1
Marvel Creative Team: Sam Humphries (Writer), Dave Johnson (Artist)
Cover Artist: Tradd Moore
Hip-Hop Album: The 100s’ Ivry (2014)

November 25th


Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 - Summertime '06
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1
Marvel Creative Team: Amy Reeder (Writer), Natacha Bustos (Artist)
Cover Artist: Jeffrey Veregge
Hip-Hop Album: Vince Staples’ Summertime ’06 (2015)

Venom-Space Knight - Lost in Space Black Elvis

Venom: Space Knight #1
Marvel Creative Team: Robbie Thompson (Writer), Ariel Olivetti (Artist)
Cover Artist: Mike Choi
Hip-Hop Album: Kool Keith’s Black Elvis/ Lost in Space (1999)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Livin’ Astro,” “Lost in Space
How well does it fit?: Oh, isn’t it obvious?? Venom is a Black Symbiote…in space! Kool Keith has changed personas more than a couple times, but each personality he exudes is funky and relatable. 


That about does it for Marvel’s new books and the Hip-Hop variants that come with them. Check back next month for a whole new set of entries.

 

Dropping Science: Marvel’s October Hip-Hop Variants

After immense success with putting Hip-Hop duo Run the Jewels on the cover of a few of their books, Marvel has expanded the idea to give each and every single book in their All-New All-Different line-up its own Hip-Hop variant. We’ve tracked down each cover, provided information about the album inspiring the variant cover, and given our two cents on whether it fits the subject. We’ll be doing this each month for as long as the All-New All-Different brand keeps putting out variants!

October 7th

Amazing Spider- Man #1 - Midnight MaraudersAmazing Spider-Man #1
Marvel Creative Team: Dan Slott (Writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (Artist)
Cover Artist: Mike Del Mundo
Hip-Hop Album: A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders (1993)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Award Tour,” “Electric Relaxation,” “Oh My God
How well does it fit?: The cover to Midnight Marauders is legendary for the faces in its background, compiled of some of the most famous artists in the biz at the timeAmazing Spider-Man also seems to love this concept, and includes a bunch of famous Spider-faces new and old – even those who will not make appearances in the book.

Contest of Champions #1 - Liquid SwordsContest of Champions #1
Marvel Creative Team: Al Ewing (Writer), Paco Medina (Artist)
Cover Artist: Denys Cowan/Bill Sienkiewicz
Hip-Hop Album: GZA’s Liquid Swords (1995)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Liquid Swords,” “Shadowboxin‘”
How well does it fit?: This book is going to be full of the leftovers of everything enjoyable from Battleworld and smush it back together with pretty drawings and fight scenes in a shallow attempt to recapture the magic… hey! Just like this GZA album. MAJOR shout-out to Milestone Media co-founder Denys Cowan for working on this variant cover. Don’t know the name? Look it up!

Dr. Strange #1 - The ChronicDoctor Strange #1
Marvel Creative Team: Jason Aaron (Writer), Chris Bachalo (Artist)
Cover Artist: Juan Doe
Hip-Hop Album: Dr. Dre’s The Chronic (1992)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Nuthin’ But A G Thang,” “Let Me Ride,” “F*ck With Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)
How well does it fit?: Well, there’s the obvious name similarity. Like Doctor Dre, the good Doctor Stephen Strange seems to be all powerful and everybody respects him… but he doesn’t really seem to do anything specifically worth praising. 

Invincible Iron Man #1 - Get Rich or Die TryinInvincible Iron-Man #1
Marvel Creative Team: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), David Marquez (Artist)
Cover Artist: Brian Stelfreeze
Hip-Hop Album: 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003)
Best Tracks off the Album: “In Da Club,” “21 Questions,” “If I Can’t,” “Life’s on the Line
How well does it fit?: The biggest difference between Tony Stark and Curtis Jackson isn’t a genius intellect or tendency to play superhero, it’s that 50 Cent is BROKE AS F*CK.

October 14th

Extraordinary X-Men #1 - 3 Feet High and RisingExtraordinary X-Men #1
Marvel Creative Team: Jeff Lemire (Writer), Humberto Ramos (Artist)
Cover Artist: Sanford Greene
Hip-Hop Album: De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Me, Myself and I,” “Buddy,” “Say No Go,” “Eye Know
How well does it fit?: De La Soul were on the front lines of the wacky, relatable, and socially responsible rhymes. With Lemire writing this new X-Men series, it’s about damn time the X-series got back to its roots.

Update: The release of Extraordinary X-Men #1 has been moved to November 4th.

Guardians of the Galaxy #1 - Bizarre Ride IIGuardians of the Galaxy #1
Marvel Creative Team: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Valerio Schiti (Artist)
Cover Artist: Shawn Crystal
Hip-Hop Album: Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde (1992)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Passin’ Me By,” “Ya Mama,” “Officer
How well does it fit?: The Pharcyde have always been regarded as the “weirdos,” choosing a more melodic tone over gangster tales (which was huge for the early 90’s in LA). Likewise, the most recent Guardians seemed to overcome all odds to become a household name.

New Avengers #1 - The MessageNew Avengers #1
Marvel Creative Team: Al Ewing (Writer), Gerardo Sandoval (Artist)
Cover Artist: Ed Piskor
Hip-Hop Album: Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s The Message (1982)
Best Tracks off the Album: “The Message,” “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel
How well does it fit?: “The Message” is one of the most humble songs in the history of Hip-Hop, taking aim at social injustice and poverty in the black community. New Avengers? It has Kid Hulk… Yes, this book is going to have to depend on great dialog and humor. Not looking forward to this book.

Sam Wilson Captain America #1 - Long.Live.A$APSam Wilson: Captain America #1
Marvel Creative Team: Nick Spencer (Writer), Daniel Acuna (Artist)
Cover Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Hip-Hop Album: A$AP Rocky’s Long.Live.A$AP (2013)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Wild for the Night,” “F*ckin’ Problems,” “Golie
How well does it fit?: A$AP Rocky might be a wonderful artist, who knows? I’m not going to take the time to find out, and sadly, I feel the same way about Sam Wilson being the new Captain America. That being said, it’s a beautiful adaptation of the original cover.

Spider-Gwen #1 - The Great Adventures of Slick RickSpider-Gwen #1
Marvel Creative Team: Jason Latour (Writer), Robbi Rodriguez (Artist)
Cover Artist: Humberto Ramos
Hip-Hop Album: Slick Rick’s The Great Adventures of Slick Rick (1988)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Children’s Story,” “Hey Young World,” “Mona Lisa,” “Teenage Love
How well does it fit?: Slick Rick was the piece that fit the Hip-Hop scene so well that you almost overlooked the fact that he was a British pirate. Gwen Stacy, similarly, is a product of her multiverse – a damsel in distress that’s supposed to be dead, but instead is one of the hottest new superheroes in the Marvel U.

Uncanny Avengers #1 - Yo! Bum Rush the ShowUncanny Avengers #1
Marvel Creative Team: Gerry Duggan (Writer), Ryan Stegman (Artist)
Cover Artist: Jason Pearson
Hip-Hop Album: Public Enemy’s Yo! Bum Rush the Stage (1987)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Public Enemy No. 1,” “Miuzi Weighs A Ton,” “You’re Gonna Get Yours,” “Sophisticated B*itch
How well does it fit?: Well, there’s Miles Morales, Ms. Marvel, Thor, Sam Wilson, and Iron Man… So I’m calling it now – Nova is going to be this book’s Flavor Flav. This is by far one of the most diverse teams in Marvel’s line-up, so if they have anything resembling the real talk that Mistachuck can spit, it’ll be a well-deserved homage.

Spider-Man 2099 - Cruel SummerSpider-Man 2099 #1
Marvel Creative Team: Peter David (Writer), William Silney (Artist)
Cover Artist: Afu Chan
Hip-Hop Album: G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer (2012)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Mercy.1,” “New God Flow.1,” “Don’t Like.1,” “Clique
How well does it fit?: G.O.O.D. Music created enough momentum just using Kanye West’s name to get attention, but not enough to really make an impact. That’s pretty much exactly what’s been going on with Miguel O’Hara. Hopefully this new team can take him back into the realm of relevance.

October 21st

Angela Queen of Hel #1 - Pink FridayAngela: Queen of Hel #1
Marvel Creative Team: Marguerite Bennett (Writer), Stephanie Hans (Artist)
Cover Artist: Annie Wu
Hip-Hop Album: Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday (2010)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Roman’s Revenge,” “SuperB ass,” “Moment 4 Life,” “Blazin
How well does it fit?: It’s a pretty bold statement to let Angela’s dopplegänger to be Nicki Minaj. They must really be desperate to sell some books for the Asgardian. However, Angela is just as insane and deadly as Nicki is with her lyrics.

Karnak #1 - Saturday NightKarnak #1
Marvel Creative Team: Warren Ellis (Writer), Gerardo Zaffino (Artist)
Cover Artist: Kaare Andrews
Hip-Hop Album: Schoolly D’s Saturday Night (1986)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Saturday Night,” “We Get Ill
How well does it fit?: Karnak and Schoolly D have one district trait in common. I do not plan on picking anything up with their name on it anytime soon. 

The Astonishing Ant-Man #1- Ready to DieThe Astonishing Ant-Man #1
Marvel Creative Team: Nick Spencer (Writer), Ramon Rosanas (Artist)
Cover Artist: Mark Brooks
Hip-Hop Album: The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die (199?)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Juicy,” “Big Poppa,” “Suicidal Thoughts,” “Gimme the Loot,” “Machine Gun Funk,” “Warning,” “Who Shot Ya
How well does it fit?: The irony is overwhelming here. Really though, how does Scott Lang sit side by side with the legendary Notorious B.I.G.? Well, like Biggie, pretty much anything with the new Ant-Man on the cover is worth adding to your collection. Ready to Die was also Big’s first album and the platform he used to rocket to stardom.

Uncanny Inhumans #1 - AqueminiUncanny Inhumans #1
Marvel Creative Team: Charles Soule (Writer), Steve McNiven (Artist)
Cover Artist: Damion Scott
Hip-Hop Album: Outkast’s Aquemini (199?)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Rosa Park,” “SpottieOttieDopalicious
How well does it fit?: Outkast is like other Atlanta Hip-Hop acts, except it’s not. They’re weird. They’re fascinating. They’re BETTER. Same goes for the super-race of Inhumans from Attilan(ta). 

October 28th

The Howling Commandos #1 - 6 Feet Deep '06The Howling Commandos #1
Marvel Creative Team: Frank Barbiere (Writer), Brent Schoonover (Artist)
Cover Artist: Wilfred Santiago
Hip-Hop Album: Gravediggaz’s 6 Feet Deep ’06 (199?)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Diary of a Madman,” “1-800-Suicide
How well does it fit?: What a better way to show that your book is full of crazy monsters than with a Gravediggaz album cover? One of the most manic groups in rap is a perfect fit for The Howling Commandos. That’s assuming the book isn’t a corny mess of horribleness.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 - WolfThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1
Marvel Creative Team: Ryan North (Writer), Erica Henderson (Artist)
Cover Artist: Phil Noto
Hip-Hop Album: Tyler the Creator’s Wolf (199?)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Domo23,” “Tamale,” “Jamba
How well does it fit?: As childish as Tyler can be, he’s also pretty damn smart and resourceful. And with his group (former group?) standing behind him, Tyler is brazen enough to say and do some of the silliest things in all of Hip-Hop. Doreen is no different. With her misfit college friends and Tippy the Talking Squirrel, she kicks butt and takes names at the same time!

That about does it for Marvel’s new books and the Hip-Hop variants that come with them. Check back next month for a whole new set of entries.

 

Gauntlet of the Geek: Are Licensed Comic Books Good for the Industry?

“Gauntlet of the Geek” is a new featured article where two of our writers debate on hot button issues in today’s nerd industry. We’re not paid to kiss ass, so see what happens when the white gloves come off and we let you all know how we really feel. Let us know whom you agree with.

Sherif’s opinion:

For the last 30-40 years in pop culture, one thing has remained constant – franchises survive. Think of your favorite fandoms – how many of them are new to the last twenty years? Star Wars, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Doctor Who, Disney…all of them have survived generations because of the way they replicate onto different mediums of consumption. Sure, tribal upbringing accounts for a fair amount of the influence, but these franchises, now corporations built off the blood money of thousands of parents desperate to immerse their offspring in the same stuff. And those blessed corporations care enough about we the consumer to keep putting out fresh material to relate one generation to the next, keeping these beloved fandoms alive. Where would TMNT be without the new Nickelodeon series? I’ll tell you where. In the retro section of a fucking Hot Topic, that’s where. Let’s not forget that the stuff kids find cool is only cool because television, movies, and toy stores tell them it’s cool. We’re just more accepting of it because we find it cool, too.

This is the price we have to pay to keep TMNT relevant.
This is the blood price we have to pay to keep TMNT relevant.

One of the best side effects of licensed comic books is the amount of pull and resources that it gives the creators. For example, the mountains of merchandising money that Disney and WB give Marvel and DC, respectively, have opened up the doors for them to take chances on titles for the lesser-known titles (like Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel – both of which have had HUGE success). It’s not so much making people who watch Iron Man want to pick up Extremis, but using the resources that the Iron Man movie’s exposure brings in to reallocate and try something new (which I admit is a doey-eyed way to look at the world. We all know these corporations don’t give a crap about us). Think of it as drug dealers buying winter clothing for local school children with their drug money.

I look at licensed comic books the same way I look at the honorary torch carrier at the Olympics. They shouldn’t be regarded with the elite status they once were. X-Files and Star Trek comic books should not be competing with Saga and D4VE, nor should they be marketed as such. Licensed comic books should be designed to engage readers to narrow the gaps between fandoms. One fan who loves comics but doesn’t know anything about Ghostbusters now has input to a conversation about those who love the movies but aren’t into comic books. It’s a beautiful thing when it happens.

How can you not be excited for this?? And how is Batman not impressed??
How can you not be excited for this?? And how is Batman not impressed??

However, the key is knowing when and how to bring some of the lesser-known books back into the spotlight. Unfortunately for us, there are some publishers out there who are filling nearly their entire catalog with 80’s franchises that just don’t fit in today, let alone in the comic book format. If you’re immediately thinking of IDW Publishing and Dynamite Entertainment, you’d be correct. A Django/Zorro crossover? A Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure 3? Escape From New York? Angry Birds?? You get the point. Since Image’s recent explosion of actual content in creator-owned titles, the smaller guys (BOOM!, IDW, Dynamite, Titan) have all resorted to making these kind of unnecessary branded titles part of their flagship titles, which can only end up giving the industry creative constipation.

Was it popular once? IDW will give it a miniseries!
Was it popular once? IDW will give it a miniseries!

With the successful integration of comic books into mainstream media, it’s only natural that these corporations would try to capitalize on the success of these franchises. Each of your favorite franchises began as a lowly “hopeful,” and while some of the crappier ones might be here for now, only the great ones remain. It’s how Buffyverse is still running. It’s how A Song of Ice and Fire will likely continue after George R. R. Martin ends the saga. Licensed comic books let creators continue telling stories even when they think nobody is listening anymore.

by Sherif Elkhatib

Montgomery’s opinion:
Let me get this out in the open right off the bat: licensed comics are terrible. It’s hard to pin down exactly why, but I’m going to see if I can narrow it down to a few easily observed facts. And before you get all uppity with me and shriek in your halting bat language, “But Montgomery! Don’t you semi-regularly gush about one or more Transformers comics?” I do. But that doesn’t mean the genre is redeemed, and it doesn’t make me a hero: it just means I’m weak, along with everyone else who bought Super Pro.
super pro
The Properties
Perhaps the most glaring issue right from the start is the properties they insist on convincing us are worth reading. I referenced Super Pro, but have you ever actually seen it? This is taking up space on Marvel’s hard drives as we speak.I mean, as someone who takes football very seriously (read: I don’t take it seriously at all), this is the thing I buy to reassure myself that I can be taken seriously as a human who breathes air on this planet. I mean, check out those cute Puritan-influenced cleats he’s wearing. This is a man’s comic, no doubt. But seriously folks, more often than not, a licensed comic is nothing but a cynical cash grab from one giant corporation to another. There’s no love of either art going into it, and then you’re forced to ask: “Who’s supposed to want to buy this?” I mean, the love fans of football have for comics is legendary, and the stereotype of the football playing comic nerd is so old it’s almost worn out (not to editor: forgot my sarcasm tags). But it doesn’t stop there. Love the music of Kiss? Well now you can enjoy their nuanced aesthetic with none of their complicated rhyme scheme.
kiss comics
The Writing
A misguided relative actually bought me Super Pro #1. I read it because what, am I actually going to play football? Hell to the no. It’s a story that’s nearly impossible to resurrect from the graveyard of my prepubescent memory, but one thing was painfully clear even to my eight year-old brain: this was a comic written neither for fans of football, nor fans of comics. And that’s a problem deeply inherent to the genre. Because, more often than not, the cross polinization of properties is just an attempt to capitalize on something that’s already profitable, the resultant product cannot be something the violates the spirit of either thing. It cannot offend the sensibilities of either fan base, but that almost curses it to appealing to neither fan base. Super Pro, if you care (which you almost certainly don’t) is the tragic story of a football player who gets injured nearly to death. He’s brought back from the brink courtesy of a mechanical football uniform so that he can continue… to… play football? But then realizes he’s more than just feetsballs throw man, and fights… crime? I mean, apart from about fifteen moments where I have to stop and ask, “Uh, why?”, that premise sounds like it comes straight from the mouth of that uncle we all have who hates comics and doesn’t respect us for our love. Because the end result shits on the heads of anyone who might possibly want it, every step toward that end result is just as insulting and just as steamy.Oh so, I guess I’ll just buy an adaptation of the thing I already have?!transformers the movie the comic book
Perhaps the most prevalent reason for licensed comics is the disease like pervasive presence of the “based on the hit movie” comic.Oh good, now I can be irritated, frustrated, and repulsed by one thing in two mediums.This is the point where I also have to stipulate that just because something sells, it does not mean it’s qualitatively good. I mean, everyone’s mom has a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey stashed under their mattress, but it’s not winning any awards any time soon. Right? God I hope not. I have to make that clear because comics are experiencing a sort of rebirth thanks to the herpes-like proliferation of comic book movies.

"Marvel: the herpes of comic books, but for movies."
“Marvel: the herpes of comic books, but for movies.”

I guess on one hand I have to be thankful for terrible ideas like the Avengers movie tie-in comic, but why does such a thing exist in the first place? “Duh, Montgomery,” you might start, “because people who saw the movie might want to get into comics, and this is their way in, you dumb sack of crap,” you might finish. And very rudely, I might add. And in your very rude retort (seriously, guy), you’ve proven my point: they’ve already seen the movie. Who needs to buy this comic? Apart from the compulsive collector, is there really an audience of people who like the idea of an Avengers movie enough to buy a comic based on the movie, but not enough to buy the actual comics that have been running for 50 years or to spend the $10 to see the movie in the theater? It’s a bizarre monster we’ve lived with all our lives but haven’t really noticed.

There are other reasons why licensed comics are terrible. The fact that tie-ins are often made before the movie knows what they’re doing, so you wind up with weird anachronisms; the art is just the worst, like really, do they even care; the fact that the licensed property is fenced-in so fiercely that even if it were a good idea in the first place, they don’t have much space to play around in. Really, we could talk until all the oxygen is gone, but just these three reasons should be enough to convince you to put down that comic book prequel to Transformers 5: Planet of The Earth and invest in some stocks. Or something.

by JH Montgomery

Captain America: White #1 Review

Captain America: White #1 – A+
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Tim Sale

Captain America White #1 Cover

This book was eight years in the making. We waited for this book almost as long as we waited for Dr. Dre’s third solo album. Unlike that album, this is not a complete shit waste of time, abomination. This book, like the others in the “color” series, is timeless. It’s sort of like the Disney movie version of comic books. It’s when a story that’s as old as time (assuming time was invented in the 40s), but it can bridge gaps between old school fans and new readers.

What new readers might not know is that Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale are one of the greatest tag teams in comic book history. The Long Halloween, Haunted Knight, Dark Victory, Spider-Man: Blue, Hulk: Gray, Daredevil: Yellow, Catwoman: When in Rome… the list goes on. Captain America: White carries on tradition with its jumbo-sized premiere issue. Whether it be the lack of talent in today’s pool of artists or the years of polishing, this issue is gosh-darn gorgeous. The shading, the crispness of Sale’s lines – it’s just a reminder of what we have been missing as fans for years.

Captain America White #1

One of the biggest parallels in their work I noticed was how familiar the concept of a hero’s ward is. The dynamic between Cap and Bucky is very similar to the one Bruce has with Dick in the Batman books. Cap is struggling with bringing a child into his dangerous world, and Bucky is just a happy-go-lucky, fearless, good-natured kid, blazing into danger’s path. However, it never felt like the same story being told; it just had a familiar feeling.

Also familiar was the “color” theme of love and loss. It might be a little weird since all the other characters’ books were about a romantic love, but that doesn’t mean it was made with any less emotion. Loeb’s own son, who passed away when he was 17 from bone cancer, is just about the same age as Bucky here in these comics. It’s apparent in the book that this was for his son, and brings me as a reader closer to it. Cap’s recounting of the war days came across as a heartfelt story about his best friend and less like the eye-rolling account of an old geezer.

Captain America White #1

In short, Captain America: White is going to remind the world how comic books should be made. Not the waiting half a decade thing, but the amount of care, talent, and love put into it. With the money factory that comic books have become again, there are only a handful of creative teams left that I feel combine talent and passion the way these two can (Remender/Craig on Deadly Class, Snyder/Capullo on Batman, Vaughan/Staples on Saga, Lemire/Nguyen on Descender), and I hope this sets a new bar creators and publishers try to reach on their new material.

See all of this week’s reviews here.

Comic Book Power Rankings – August 2015

Nobody here at Hush Comics loves sports metrics more than I do. A die-hard NBA fan, I frequently rank players, teams and track stats every night to see who I should be picking up on the waiver wire (a term I know, but still do not understand at all) in our fantasy basketball league. It’s not really to be the best, but largely because I love the processes behind it; I love spreadsheets and systemic processes in how I arrive at these decisions. I even made a House of Quality together in order to break down which qualities I value in comic book series. This was all inspired by the creation of our Best of 2014 Comic Books collection of articles (which you should check out! A lot of hard work from our team went into those articles), when I realized that we had not been keeping track of which books were the best throughout the year.

Below is a list of what I consider the Top 20 comic books of the previous month. The opinions of these rankings is solely mine (unless noted), although they are influenced by the weekly review grades that our team doles out. I’m no expert on the ins and outs of the comic book industry, and I admittedly can’t read every book out there, but as long as I have this awesome platform to force my opinion on readers, why not use it? As always, we LOVE sparking conversations about the things we love, or even the things we don’t, so commentary is encouraged!

Rank Book Title Publisher Issues In Previous Movement
1 Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra Marvel 1
  He’s just a normal family guy, trying to cut it in the blue collar goon industry. Trying to place the normal within the insanity that is Battle World creates comedy gold.
2 Prez DC 3
  As far as political satires go, Prez is hands down the funniest, and is so hyperbolic that the fact that it’s relatable at all is appalling. Root for the little guy in one of DC’s rare non-cape books.
3 Rasputin Image 8
  Rasputin is my favorite comic at the moment. So far it’s the only book that’s compelled me to send fan mail. It’s a well written narrative, beautifully drawn, and spectacularly colored. I get something out if every issue I read and feel satisfied. Totally in love with this series. – Jené
4 Ms. Marvel Marvel 17
  Although Kamala briefly got caught in the web that is Secret Wars, her last issue, a heart-warming team up with Captain Marvel herself gave this book a special place on my shelf.
5 The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Marvel 8
  Three of the top five books are led by young women. Coincidence? Hell no! Squirrel Girl is hilarious and relatable – which says a lot since… ya know, she’s a squirrel.
6 TMNT IDW 49
  Not even shell-shock could stop Donnie! Things are getting heavy as a battle royale contest between the turtles and Foot knock down the door of the upcoming #50 spectacular.
7 Justice League DC 43 5 -2
  This is the best JL story since Forever Evil, and the most desparate time we’ve seen the team in of all New52. Geoff Johns continues to write an amazing book.
8 Batman DC 43 2 -6
  This is not the same book we read with Endgame. Bruce is in identity crisis mode and Gordon has taken over as Batman. Wacky story aside, Snyder/Capullo produce.
9 We Stand On Guard Image 3
  With the right creative team, even Canadians can be interesting. Brian K Vaughan’s new title makes you hate America more effectively than Donald Trump’s presidential run.
10 Bizarro DC 3
  Bizarro no am good book. Bizarro am very bad book. Book no am funny. Art is very ugly. Bizarro very normal, and Jimmy Olson (Bizarro’s worstest enemy) never wear disguises. Bizarro no am have hijinks. – Montgomery
11 Superman DC 43 8 -3
  We finally learned how Lois spilled the beans about Superman’s identity, and it’s refreshing to see Superman fight an enemy he can’t defeat by punching.
12 Old Man Logan Marvel 4
  While I love seeing an out-of-place Wolverine wander around Battle World in a confused rage, it’s Andrea Sorrentino’s panel layout that really keeps me engaged.
13 Groot Marvel 3
  As much as I loved the recently-retired Skottie Young Rocket Raccoon book, Groot is just as adorable. It’s good for all ages, with feel-good lessons in friendship and kindness. Aww.
14 Deadly Class Image 15 5 -9
  While the Remender/Craig tag-team reigns champion, I can’t get over just how scathingly manic-depressive this book got this month. It’s a downer for sure.
15 Nailbiter Image 15 16 +1
  The deeper we keep falling into the mystery, the further the bottom seems to be. It’s a phenomenal book, but I feel just as lost now as I did at square one.
16 The Walking Dead Image 145 4 -12
  I still look forward to this book every month, but the more I read it, the more I realize that Robert Kirkman is becoming George Lucas 2.0. There’s just too much TWD in the world for me right now. That being said, this new threat is gonna bring back the funk.
17 E is for Extinction Marvel 3
  Thank you, Chris Burnham, for making unsexy comic books cool. His raw art is perfect for this post-Morrison, Morrison-style book, which is as awesome as it is awkward.
18 Giant Sized Little Marvel AvX Marvel 3
  This book makes me feel like vomitting rainbows with each issue. It can be formulaic, but it’s just so darn cute – how could anybody not love this??
19 Postal Image 19 11 -8
  Mark, the autistic one-man Scooby gang, is tearing this conspiracy wide open. Although, just because it’s getting bigger doesn’t mean it’s getting better…
20 Batgirl DC 43
  It can be silly at times, but that’s part of the charm. Babs Tarr’s art has definitely grown on me. I’m fully on-board after some post-Gail Simone withdrawals.

 

Notably absent:

Most of the Secret Wars: I’m burnt out on Secret Wars. Marvel must be murdering DC in sales as of late, but their long game is tiring fans out.

Shutter and Birthright: For books that started as two of my favorite Image titles, the convoluted stories in both books have derailed their momentum significantly. I don’t expect that too last, though, as both books have the creative teams to handle it.

Wonder Woman: David and Meredith Finch have been a refreshing addition to the book, but the last couple issues have been noticeably lacking in substance or style. Plus, Donna Troy is completely one-dimensional and incapable of independent thought.

Retired books/ Hiatuses (Hawkeye, Saga, Bitch Planet, Sex Criminals): Some of the best books in the biz took the month off, making way for some newcomers to really shine this month!

New Photos Reveal a Beaten Up Iron Man from ‘Civil War’

So. Epic.  Image via Marvel Studios.
So. Epic.
Image via Marvel Studios.
Let’s face it – Captain America: Civil War is currently going down in history as one of the most spoiler-ed movie in ever. Not only will it closely follow one of the biggest Marvel Comics storylines of all times, but people are fiends about leaking any and everything they can find out about the film. Personally, I prefer to stay spoiler free… I know how dumb that sounds considering what I’m currently writing, but hey, it’s my job right?

Photos surfaced on Twitter today of a very beaten up Robert Downey Jr. posing with a food truck proprietor, indicating that at one point in the film he’ll most likely get his ass kicked. Probably by Cap, and he most likely had it coming.

Twitter

If you are unfamiliar with the Civil War storyline, the whole thing is available in trade paperback. It is one of Marvel’s best and it leads into one of the most iconic deaths in comic book history. I won’t say who, just in case any of my beloved readers happen to be cave dwellers who don’t know what I’m talking about. Either way, if you want to know more, go to your local comic book store and pick up the trade (and it’s accompanying spin-offs) – you’ll thank me later.

Note: I’d like to give a big shout out to the Blaxican Food Truck who shared this picture. If you see them on the streets, give their food a try and if you’re on Twitter, go ahead and give them a follow.

All images belong to Marvel Studios.

Graphic Novel Review – Secret Wars

Collecting: Secret Wars # 1-12

Original Release Date: 1984-1985

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Character(s): The Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man, Galactus, Dr. Doom

Writer: Jim Shooter (The AvengersHarbingerSecret Wars II)

Art: Mike Zeck (The PunisherMaster of Kung-Fu) and Bob Layton (Iron ManThe Amazing Spider-Man)

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 6
Art – 6
Captivity and Length – 6
Identity – 8
Use of Medium – 8
Depth – 7
Fluidity – 7
Intrigue/Originality – 9
The Little Things – 6
Overall awesomeness – 7

hush_rating_70

secret wars 1

Going into both the classic and current Secret Wars series, I had no idea what to expect other than the normal rather cheesy and campy Marvel crossover we see so often these days; special events in comics have become when a comic from the big two can go five issues without a tie-in to a major event going on at the time. Crossovers although mean well, usually never come out the way anyone wanted them too, and even though Secret Wars has been remembered as one of the top Marvel Events in history, it did happen all because Marvel wanted to sell a new action figure line from Mattel featuring all their heroes. This was so obvious that there are variant covers to current Secret Wars titles, featuring what the original action figure boxes looked like with characters not included within the original story line i.e. Deadpool and Star-Lord.

secret wars 2

The actual graphic novel is a collection of issues 1-12 – the original run of Secret Wars. And let me tell you, it is quite the beast of a book to get through. With the age of these books, we can assume the style and writing is very different to current books and, man, can I attest to that.

The writing from Jim Shooter here is great, and we are given a very original and well thought out idea. But it also suffers from being very wordy at times and often sounds a little like a kid wrote a two-page paper and found out it needed to be three pages, so he quickly threw in filler comments and words to make it longer but not any better. I think most of the writing problem came up because this sort of thing had not been done at all. Mixing two teams together, The Avengers and The X-Men,  seems like an incredibly easy task when you figure this current Secret Wars encompasses all of Marvel as well as a second universe with the same heroes.

I feel for the time this book was released, Jim Shooter was likely doing really well by Marvel and Mattel, and the writing had not been nearly as wordy back then, so as far as writing goes, time was not too kind on it, but the overall idea and plot definitely shine through to make this a special event.

secret wars 3

As far as the actual story, it jumps around a lot at what is exactly going on; basically, you have the Avengers and the X-Men, who are allies but very separate teams all against a main foe. During the 12 issues, it jumps from an actual group of villains to Doctor Doom to the Beyonder, back to Doctor Doom, with random sampling of Magneto and Galactus thrown in there. They never last long and then usually the fight ends up being stupid and they stop. All and all, though, it is about everyone fighting each other while also trying to figure out how in the name of Uatu they will get off this planet. The story melds well, and overall flows much better than the current run of Secret Wars, but this original reminds me a little too much of the stupid stories I would make while playing with all my toys on my desk as a child, just with much larger words. That’s not to say the story isn’t enjoyable; it did bring us some pretty iconic images and changes to the Marvel universe including a new Spider-Woman, the debut of Spider-Man’s black suit and a major change in the Fantastic Four.

Secret wars 4

Secret Wars didn’t just bring us a 12 issue epic and toys that inspired the whole thing, but it gave us the black suit Spider-Man, which brought us a major change and one of the if not the most popular arc in Spider-Man with him dealing with the symbiote and it eventually becoming Venom. Initially, it seemed like a cheap ploy, especially when we are introduced to the black-suited Spider-Woman not that far ahead of this costume change – Spider-Man even jokes about it on the novel. But with the new additions to spidey alone, we knew somethings would have to change and with that within the last few pages, we learn that Ben Grimm is going to stay in Battleworld, as it has given him the power to change back and forth from The Thing by choice. Consequentially, Ben recruits She-Hulk to replace him in the Fantastic Four for awhile and this was a change a bit hard for me to take as a massive Thing fan. It is fortunate I also happen to be a huge She-Hulk fan, so it works out.

secret wars 5

The art of this series is really what sold it for me, and if you read the updated digital versions for the TPB and hardcover collections of this, they look fantastic. Mike Zeck and Bob Layton did a fantastic job of making sure the series stay fluid as far as art went and although overlapping in which they work with Mike taking issues #1-3 & #6-12 and Bob only doing issues #4 & #5. But the switch is seamless which, although it takes drawing a character in their style away from them, for major events like this, it was nice to have the art not drastically change each issue. With this series, we get a one of the last good looks at how Marvel was before the major shift in the 90’s which brought about a ton of new costumes, teams, characters and changes to the ones we love. Much like Secret Wars seems a good place as any to travel to for a major relaunch involving everything popular from Marvel since the original Secret Wars, So far, I would say the original was planned out better and more fluid despite also never really finding it’s place. Ultimately, Secret Wars Vol. 1 is an enjoyable read and can give you small hints of what is happening or why in the current Secret Wars, but, like so many other Marvel events, it falls flat and lacks any real substance; any danger is easily brushed off and forgotten which made for way to many conflicts with not much results. Secret Wars is a great piece of historical literature, but Marvel has offered many more and much better stories through the years that should get as much recognition as this.

All media credited to Marvel Comics