Comic book junkies rejoice! This coming weekend is something of a bumper nerd-out for fans of graphically illustrated super-heroes, with Marvel's The Avengers movie premiering today and Saturday being Free Comic Book Day. So in anticipation of the coming comic book fever, we interrogated a fantastic foursome of rappers (at least two took their names from comic book figures) about the characters they first became smitten with, their all-time favorite villains, and the crucial Marvel vs. DC divide.
Name: David Banner
David Banner's Fantasy Super Power: The ability to conjure up the power of ancestors and cosmic power from the pyramids.
His First Time (Reading Comics): It was probably Wonder Woman! When I was really small I had a fetish for boobs and long hair! When I was two-years-old, my aunt had really long hair and she used to put on her bracelets for me and I would pull her hair.
Favorite Character: The first comic book stories I really liked growing up was Batman. I think it was the cape and the mask and just the mystery that appealed to me. As a child comic books had the opportunity to take you to another place regardless of what was going on in your neighborhood; they allowed you to create a new world in your head and Batman did that for me.
Most Infamous Super Villain: Specifically for me, it was Heath Ledger's Joker.
DC vs. Marvel: I was more of a Marvel fan. Marvel was a little bit grittier. DC had taken a turn where it was a little mainstream and I think Marvel heroes were a little more vulnerable, so you could relate to them a little bit better.
David Banner's Next mission: The new album Sex, Drugs & Video Games is out May 22nd from www.DavidBanner.com where you can donate to become part of the movement we want people to donate $1 to the movement. And me and 9th Wonder have started a graphic novel called Death To A Pop Star, too.
Name: Jean Grae
Jean Grae's Fantasy Super Power: There would definitely be some telekinesis involved and the ability to jump and travel around time. And I really like weapons so I'm going to need to get a really good weapon.
Her First Time (Reading Comics): I grew up in the Chelsea Hotel and we had a comic book store right next door to us. My brother is six years older than me so if he was watching me we were definitely hanging out in the comic book store. It was pretty awesome. I think when I was maybe in like kindergarten me and my best friend used to play superheroes and we would of course go directly to X-Men and I was Storm. That's super cliched, right?
Favorite Character: I really always liked Batman because he wasn't necessarily a super hero with powers, and it was kinda dark and I really liked dark things even at that age which is kinda weird and makes me a creepy kid. I liked the fact that although he had some super issues to get over with the murdered parents and a whole bunch of shit, Batman was like a normal person, though his money definitely allowed him to get really really cool shit. And I really wanted a utility belt and a grappling hook. I'm kinda still obsessed with grappling hooks and always look at buildings to see if I could use one. I would be really bad at it though 'cause I'm not sporty; I'd probably throw the grappling hook and it would fall back and hit me in the eye.
Most Infamous Super Villain: Idiots. I don't have a lot of tolerance for stupidity and I think it's voluntary stupidity which really bothers me. If it's something you know you can find out on your own and you don't try, that's not good.
DC vs. Marvel: Marvel. I've just always been a fan especially of the artists they used -- I'm a huge John Byrne fan for X-Men and just kinda gravitated to it a bit more. I was definitely in a Marvel world.
Jean Grae's Next Mission: My project Cake Or Death, which should be out later this summer. It's really heavily comic book-influenced in the style it's done in. The video's going to be pretty epic -- shout outs to Mike Hawthorne for volunteering to make me an assassin drawing. It's really near and dear to me and I'm a big geek. You can check out the trailer on www.JeanGrae.com.
Name: Sean Price
Sean Price's Fantasy Super Power: There used to be a character in the Secret Wars called The Beyonder. I would want his power 'cause he's just a tough bastard.
His First Time (Reading Comics): I got a friend named Shakeem and he had an aunt named Loretta and she dropped off a bag of comic books when I was young - like Spiderman and graphic novels - and ever since then I've been a comic book head. I remember when I was young they used to sell [comic books] on Pitkin Avenue at a little news stand; I used to buy Spiderman, India Jones, and these little kids called Power Pack.
Favorite Character: Spiderman because he's just wild cool. He's a geek but he's really a super hero; I liked the illustration and just everything about it fascinated me, man.
Most Infamous Super Villain: The X-Men had a series called The Age Of Apocalypse and there was this character called Onslaught. I think Onslaught is it.
DC vs. Marvel: Marvel was more slicker, man. The Fantastic Four had Reed Richards [Mister Fantastic] and DC had Plastic Man and that shit just sounded more kiddie to me -- Reed Richards was better than Plastic Man. Marvel had [Namor the] Sub-Mariner and DC had Aquaman riding on a sea-horse. I'd rather fuck with Marvel.
Sean Price's Next Mission: I've just finished my album, Mic Tyson, and yesterday I was in the studio with Harry Fraud and Smoke DZA and we did a hell of a song …
Name: Pharoahe Monch
Pharoahe Monch's Fantasy Super Power: I would be able to move throughout space and time seamlessly and effortlessly.
His First Time (Reading Comics): I remember there was a store in Queens off of Queens Boulevard - I believe it was around 74th Street and Continental Avenue - and I would ride my bike there and at the time I was collecting so that was the spot. I have this one issue of Ironman versus Thor and the cover is just ridiculously illustrated. The story wasn't that great but the cover was the main thing.
Favorite Character: Spiderman. I was already into action figures and so on and the cartoon was really banging and the theme song was banging and he was from Queens and that really just put it over the top. I loved his cynical sense of humor, too. As an artist at heart in every sense of the word, just looking at different artists who drew the book and the ways they interpreted the Spiderman character was a big deal for me.
Most Infamous Super Villain: It would be between Galactus. I collected Silver Surfer for a while and just the size that they would draw Galactus at was in my imagination overwhelming - I couldn't even fathom seeing something like that. He was feeding on planets which was just insane - that's pretty fearful!
DC vs. Marvel: Definitely Marvel. I thought the stories were better. [DC's] Batman books got more interesting for a while, but for the most part the stories in Marvel were better.
Pharoahe Monch's Next Mission: I'm working on an addition to the last album I did, the W.A.R. album. I'm writing it as if I've returned from war and we're calling it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.