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Comics And Rap Collide in ‘Wu-Massacre’ Album Art

The Wu-Tang Clan has been one of pop culture’s most comics-friendly groups since its inception. Method Man adopted Johnny Blaze and Ghost Rider as aliases early in his career, and still reads comics. Ghostface Killah christened himself Tony Stark (sometimes spelled Tony Starks or Toney Starks). His debut album was 1996′s “Ironman.” Ghost even made it onto the soundtrack for Marvel’s hit movie “Iron Man,” and into the film itself in a brief deleted scene.

The Wu have added another notch into their comics-cred belt with the release of the official album art for “Wu-Massacre,” Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and Raekwon’s upcoming full-length collaboration. Comics artist Chris Bachalo took a break from drawing some of the most engaging comics stories in recent memory to provide some dope art for the trio, with art direction by Alex Haldi.

The cover is done in the style of old comics, with an info box in the top left corner, a stylized mini-logo (the Wu-Tang W turned on its side to look like a 3), and even a little “DIRECT EDITION” box and barcode. Method Man, true to his Johnny Blaze moniker, is holding a fireball, Ghostface is draped in kung-fu robes and masked once again, and Raekwon looks like a mafioso that’s ready for war.Bachalo isn’t the first artist to grace a Wu-Tang album cover, mind you. Denys Cowan, known for Milestone Comics and DC’s “The Question,” drew the cover for GZA’s “Liquid Swords,” which played into the the kung-fu, chess, and lyrical themes of that album. Comics legend Bill Sienkiewicz provided the visuals for RZA’s “Bobby Digital In Stereo” album. Designed to be a fusion of rap culture, superhero aesthetics, and ’70s exploitation films, the cover depicts a van outracing an explosion, scantily clad women, and the RZA himself as Bobby Digital holding an enormous gun.

It’s not all fantasy, of course. From “The Wu-Tang Manual,” we know that RZA had his own superheroic adventures as Bobby Digital.

I decided to become Bobby Digital for real. I had the car and I had the suit. I was getting ready to go out at nighttime and right some wrongs. [...] I had this suit built for me that’s basically invulnerable to AK fire. The car was a black Suburban that I had made bulletproof and bombproof up to government-security-level standards. I called it the Black Tank. [...] I even had a good butler almost ready to go. He was going to be like my Kato, but he wasn’t old enough yet.

So, while Sienkiewicz might have the best story to tell about his album cover, Chris Bachalo’s not exactly coming in at second place. Method Man, Ghostface, and Raekwon are among the most commercially successful of the Wu-Tang Clan, giving Bachalo a good chance of having his art out in front of several million people. Look for “Wu-Massacre” in stores on March 30th.

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