Archive for December, 2006


4thletter is… dead characters. (Blue Beetle Talk)

December 31st, 2006 Posted by david brothers

Sorry, just a bit of sarcasm there. Seriously guys, I know you love Hawkeye/Beetle/Spoiler/The Aquarian/New Warriors/JLI, but no one actually has a vendetta against these characters. Do you know why companies kill them? They kill them because you love them. They know that every character, from Skin to Ronnie Raymond to Doug Ramsey to Bill Foster, is someone’s favorite, except Wyatt Wingfoot, of course. This is especially true on the internet. Killing a character, or hinting that you will kill one, is a surefire sales and word-of-mouth bump. That’s why they do it. They’ll get a rise out of you each and every time.

It’s okay to be upset, but not to the point that you’re throwing out ad hominems and death threats at writers.

Just… be real about it. It’s just comics, dog, it’s not that serious. It sucks, yeah, but that’s life, right? It’s cool to come up with scenarios to bring them back to life or critique why they died, just have some perspective.

Anyway, Blue Beetle.

Like a lot of the DCU, I first encountered Ted Kord in the pages of the Death of Superman. He, along with Booster Gold, were part of the JL(A?) that went up against Doomsday before Superman. I had no idea that those two were the jokey-jokesters that they apparently were in JLI. I thought that they were just two heroes with cool costumes, but that’s possibly because I’ve always thought of goggles as being kind of cool. (Don’t tell anyone I told you that.) Plus, geez, they went up against the guy who killed Superman!

I thought that Blue Beetle was pretty cool, and then promptly forgot about him and the rest of that Justice League until probably about the time that Formerly Known as the Justice League hit. That was good stuff, so I became a mild fan. Countdown hit after a while and bam, Beetle was dead.

And the internet knew the sound of a billion angry keyboards, epithets and incensed forum posts a-typing.

I thought that the Beetle parts of Countdown, save for the bits where Bats and J’onn were jerks to him, did a good job of showing that he was a hero. I particularly liked the bit where Beetle realized that he had a choice between doing wrong and living or remaining a hero and dying.

“My name is Ted Kord. I am the second man to call himself the Blue Beetle. I tell myself there will be a third. And I hope whoever he or she may be, they do better at it than I have.”

He realizes that he can’t stop what’s happening, not even remotely. Lord’s plan is going to take effect, and it’s “Join me or die time.” Beetle’s response?

“Rot in Hell, Max.”

That, lads and ladies, is a true hero. Defiant to the end and ready to spit in a villain’s face.

He was right about there being a new Beetle, too.

The new Beetle is Jaime Reyes. (It’s not Jay-me, by the way. It’s pronounced more like High-may. Sorry, I’m a stickler for Spanish.) He’s the brainchild of Keith Giffen, John Rogers, and Cully Hamner. He’s from El Paso, Texas, and got the Scarab that gave Dan Garret, the first Beetle, his powers.

I really, really like Jaime. He’s quite a believable teenager, thanks in no small part to some smart dialogue from the writers. Jaime was missing for a year thanks to the events of Infinite Crisis, unbeknownst to him. While he was gone, his family came apart. His father was shot, but not killed, and his mother turned into a wreck. When he got back, the very first thing he did was reveal his powers to his understandably freaked-out family.

Yes. That is excellent and it was so nice to see. Jaime is still a teenager, still in high school. He isn’t super smart, or agile, or whatever. Shoot, he doesn’t even know how to fight. But, he understands that family is one of the most important things in a person’s life. He trusts them enough to give them his secret. His best friends, too.

After that, Jaime is almost a traditional Marvel hero. He’s inexperienced, flawed, and honestly, he doesn’t even want to be a hero. He didn’t ask for this, and he definitely didn’t ask for the JLA to take him into space and leave him there. He’s been dealt a raw deal, but he’s going to deal with it as best he can.

I like Jaime. I think that he’s a worthy successor and his book is a lot of fun. It sucks that Ted had to die to make way for him, but that’s comics. You can either embrace the illusion of change and hold onto your favorite characters until they stagnate, or you can embrace actual change and watch your favorite characters grow old, die, retire, or whatever, only to be replaced by new and improved versions or, heaven forbid, actually new characters!

It’s just comics, baby. Love them or leave them. Bad stories are a given in any medium. Whether it’s War Games or Onslaught, something out there is going to rub you the wrong way. Enjoy the good stories, ignore the rest. Just don’t be afraid to try something new.

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Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings: Be to Bl

December 30th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Sorry for being a week late. The holidays drained me faster than a three-way with Rogue and Parasite. …Please pretend I didn’t just say that.


Secret Wars II #1 (1985)

We start out with another iffy entry. The Beyonder was present during the first Secret Wars. That’s obvious. It’s just that at no point did he actually appear. That didn’t happen until the horrifying sequel. We know him for his silly disco outfit, but that wasn’t what he originally showed up in.

I like it. We see him talking with the Molecule Man, who tries to explain things to him in a way that is admirably calm and casual. Molecule Man and Volcana send Beyonder on his way as he takes a more subtle form on his quest for experience. This form is of Molecule Man himself. He proceeds to turn a desk into apples, turns a fat television writer into a super-villain and then turns invisible and follows Captain America around for the hell of it.

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Like unto a thing of iron…

December 29th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

The new banners are in effect! We’ve got around 53 in rotation right now. New ones, old ones, ones with NFL Superpro in them. I like the new look and the logo is clean.

Let me review a couple things before I get into the meat of it, though.

Black Panther 23: This book has gotten better and better thanks in no small part to Civil War. One problem: Koi Turnbull’s art is completely inappropriate for the book. He reminds me a lot of Larry Stroman, from old school X-Factor and Tribes, I think it was called. The characters are big and chunky in general, and Panther in the sewer? I thought it was a new character. The surprise Soviet guest star had a cool scene with some interesting storytelling, but the storytelling in the rest of the book was just kind of soso, particularly in the last confrontation between Panther and an old friend. It’s decent, not good, solely due to iffy art.

Loveless 14: Obviously, I’m an Azz fan and this book is staying true to form. Daniel Zezelj provides appropriately moody art as we find out exactly why Ruth and Wes hates Blackwater so much. It is extremely harsh and pretty chilling.
The Union army, after raping Ruth, drag her into the city and talk trash. The top dog humiliates her in the city square and not one person lifts a finger, though they’re all watching. That’s heinous.
Azz is playing with time on this one, too. It takes place during July 17, 15, and 10, with July 10 featuring a not-so-surprise in terms of a death. The requisite flashback also pulls the present day (or past day, rather) person looking at their own past. it’s a technique I like quite a bit. One thing that’s certain is that Blackwater and her citizens deserve the hell that’s coming. Harsh book, but earns its A.

Okay. This next bit isn’t quite a review, more like a ramble.

I like Iron Fist. I like Luke Cage. I like Iron Fist and Luke Cage because it’s a merge of two of my favorite genres of film: blaxploitation and kung fu. The Heroes for Hire is one of my favorite duos and a great gimmick, I think. The slumming rich kid and the slum kid who wants to get rich.

The Immortal Iron Fist captures what I love about the duo and makes it work. The series gets better with its second issue as we get another glimpse of an old Iron Fist protecting what’s hers, the Iron Fist from the previous issue using the Fist in a new and intriguing way (these are not the droids you are looking for), and some wonderful Heroes for Hire interplay. Also, John Severin (yes!) does art on a wonderful flashback with tremendous payoff.

The idea of an Iron Fist lineage is one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?!” ideas. It’s so blindingly obvious and perfect that you cannot help but wonder why no one has done it before. A big part of kung fu movies (and actual kung fu, I assume) is passing down what you know. Kung fu is your techniques, your style, and your heritage. Having there be previous Iron Fists gives Danny Rand something to both live up to and pass on.

(This, of course, means that when I get a job writing for Marvel in the future, I’m going to have Danielle Knight, prodigal daughter of Danny and Misty, take up the Iron Fist in a rocking adventure across the United States to reclaim her heritage.)

The best part of this is that, if Marvel is feeling really brave, we can get an Iron Fist miniseries or one-shot about one of these old Iron Fists, be it about Wu Ao-Shi, the Iron Fist of 1545 or whoever. Please Marvel!

Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker are doing a ridiculous job with this book, and David Aja’s art is top notch. Very moody and it really fits. He does dopey Danny Rand (Helllloooo Nurse!) just as well as he does fight scenes, especially the aftermath of Randall’s scene. Danny’s father issues sound quite interesting, too.

Best new Marvel book in ages, I think. Brubaker is hitting on all cylinders with Daredevil, Criminal, and Cap, while Fraction is rocking the house with Casanova and Punisher War Journal. Two great tastes that go well together.

Oh, and Mike Carey and Humberto Ramos on X-Men is as smooth as butter. Lovely issue, lovely art.

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Admin Crap II!

December 28th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

I’ve taken down a bunch of the header images. I kept a bunch of the good ones up, but we went from around 100 to maybe 20. There is a reason why, however!

My buddy Elfbot has provided me with a simple, clean, and attractive logo. It’ll give things a more cohesive look, I thinks. I’ll be reposting some old headers and uploading new ones over the next couple of days.

It is going to be better than ever.

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Joe Questrawman

December 27th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

There is an interesting bit of discussion going on over at Blog@Newsarama over the very same comments Joe Q made that I linked a couple days ago. Click over and read it. The comments thread is more interesting than the Bendis Board reports, because a couple interesting tangents have popped up. I’m reproducing a response of my own here because, 1) just spent a long bloody time typing it up while sitting in bed, 2) I kind of like it, and 3) “Joe Questrawman” is positively inspired at this time of day night and I feel like patting myself on the back for thinking of it in my addled state.

I come in with my is-allnow-comics zen at comment 14. Read the rest of the thread, too, though. It’s got some long posts, but interesting ones. I try to present both sides equally because, even though I may give DC a lot of crap (some of it is even deserved), I still love a lot of their comics, you know? I may not have spent my time in elementary school thinking up awesome Batman stories like I did with Spidey, but a lot of the characters are near and dear to my heart.

(Spider-Man is still better, though :spidey:)

One day, I will write on this blog about things that aren’t superheroes, I promise. I think I’m still in Wally Sage/Flex Mentallo mode, though. Morrison’s good comics are like mental viruses.

Anyway, read. feel free to discuss below or over on Blog@. It’s a conversation I’m quite interested in.
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Linking it up

December 26th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

— Dinosaur Comics is one of the hands-down funniest webcomics out. Here is my favorite strip. It is a comic about the male gaze (yes, that male gaze) as explained by a neon green t-rex. The red-tinted text is the devil speaking. Enjoy!

— I’m a Wonder Woman fan for very specific stories, and Amazons Attack sounds like one of those stories! Plus, Pete Woods and Will Pfiefer are great together. I’m not sure why they’re attacking, or how, since I could’ve sworn that the Amazons disappeared to another dimension or oblivion along with the Greek gods and didn’t exist any more, but okay. I do like that Pfiefer is going to focus on the foot soldiers, though. That sort of thing has always been more interesting to me.

— Amazons Attack is a great title and I’m glad that they’re actually going to use it. It really, really needs an exclamation point, though. 4thletter!. Amazons Attack!. It’s dynamic, exciting, and cool. Very Silver Age.

— Paul Pope is one of my favorite creators. He is definitely among my ever-growing Top Five Favorite (I’m up to 150!). He has a must-read blog. He’s got a lot of Kirby-related shots up. A little bit of FF, a bit of OMAC (a little Erica in my life). Their styles couldn’t be more different, but both bring a large amount of energy into the fray. Their figures pop off the page. Pope’s OMAC story in his issue of SOLO was great, great stuff. I’ll admit that I haven’t read any of THB (much to my chagrin), but I own 100% (brilliant comics) and One Trick Rip-Off in trade, 3/4 of Batman: Year 100 (and I will buy that trade when it hits), and his issue from Spider-Man: Tangled Web. I love his indie and superhero work equally and I eagerly await everything he puts out. Anyway, read the blog. The stuff about the Batman typeface is fascinating.

— This is an odd thought, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Jack Kirby-drawn Batman. I think at the point when Kirby hit DC, Batman was enjoying the new and gritty revamp, so his style might not have fit? I’d kind of like to see his Bats.

— The 4l crew, as far as we know, are all going to be in full effect at New York Comic-con, Feb 23-25. We’ve got the hotel room booked, flights scheduled, and money saved for getting on a jet plane. See you there? Quite possibly!

— Brian Vaughan’s The Escapists, with art from Phil Bond/Steve Rolston/Shawn Alexander turned out really, really well. Excellent book and possibly my pick for miniseries of the year. Christos Gage and Mike Perkins’s Union Jack, from Marvel, was another surprise hit. It was kind of delightful in a superspy action movie kind of way. The end bit with Sabra and Arabian Knight both not being willing to let go of their prejudices, despite a grudging respect between the two, was pretty well-written, too.

— Come to think of it, Gage wrote that pretty awesome Deadshot mini from a couple years back, too. Someone give him more work. Stormwatch is a start, okay?

— Is it possible to read too many comics? I’ve consistently cut boring or bad comics off my to-read list, so my reading habits are pretty healthy, but I think I try to read everything that’s good. Speaking of good, I think we’re due for a new volume of Naoki Urasawa’s Monster any week now…

— There is a game coming out pretty soon called Arthur and The Invisibles. It isn’t the picture to the left, there, in any way shape or form. It’s based on some movie or another, but I’m so disappointed that I don’t even want to see the flick or play the game! I mean, this thing right here is what you call a killer crossover. You get in the toddlers and youngsters and the dope-smoking smelly hippie crazies! I’d see it twice, even! Arthur Read meets Dane McGowan. The world would never be the same.

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Ruining the Moment: Volume 1

December 25th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

It’s Christmas time and 4th Letter is in the spirit!


Over a year ago, a class act by the name of Chinaman7000 created a very special thread at the Something Awful sub-forum Batman’s Shameful Secret. Called “Let’s Ruin the Moment”, people would take an impacting moment or scene from comic history and meddle with it. You would see Ultimate Mr. Sinister shoving a content Ultimate Xavier down a wheelchair ramp or Tomorrow Woman’s dying words to Superman being about how much she saved with Geico. It’s very fun and at times incredibly funny.

I’ve made a lot of images for those threads (the first thread got too long) over the past year and two months. When I started, I didn’t have any decent image-manipulation programs, so I had to deal with MS Paint. It was a disaster. Then I got Paint Shop Pro. That was also a disaster. But eventually, my understanding of the program got better and I still use it today. I could get Photoshop like any other good citizen, but I have a strong case of Stockholm syndrome.

Because there are 4L readers here who haven’t paid the $10 to be part of the Something Awful forums, I decided that from time to time, I’d post a batch of these. At least mine and any that are made by people associated with me (like hermanos). I don’t want to be yelled at by anyone for Ebauming their images, but if anyone wants me to showcase their work, just give me a ring.

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New Joe Fridays Week 26

December 23rd, 2006 Posted by david brothers


I’m a Joe Quesada fan. There, I said it. I love reading his interviews because he combines straight shooting with marvelous hype. He said something in the latest NJF that, to me, highlights the difference between Marvel and DC.

Superman was the first, no one is arguing that. He was the very first to put on his underwear outside of his pants. He is the Elvis of comics. Sure, was his creation influenced by other sci-fi and classic stories that came before, of course it was, Elvis was influenced by early rhythm and blues. Much like Elvis, Superman and his compatriots shook up the comics world, in essence created it. He flew over tall buildings, he was the model on which every thing else would be built. Elvis shook his leg, greased back his pomp, and created the blueprint for what was to become Rock n’ Roll.

While Elvis had some incredible hits, as did Superman, the music was simple, quaint in many ways. Almost every Elvis song can be boiled down to three chords. We call it a 1-4-5 progression. They would just change the key, tempo, feel or melody in order to decorate it differently. Still, it was the music of its time and it was beautiful. Then in the 60s came this little group called the Beatles, they were funny, articulate, socially conscious and they spoke to us on a whole different level. The core of the relationship between the music and the listener was much deeper, more relatable.

More importantly however, they brought something else into the music. While they themselves worshipped Elvis and had their share of very early singles with the simple 1-4-5 progressions, they learned from their predecessor and built upon it. Suddenly, we were getting songs with minor chords, diminished sevenths, before you could even get accustomed to all of that, they layered harmonies and added orchestras to their compositions, it was a whole new world that was much more sophisticated than what Elvis had first presented. That’s no slight on Elvis, it’s what happens when art moves on.

To me, the creation of the Marvel hero is very much like this. It took what Superman and other DC greats made famous, in many cases lifted whole parts, and added layers never before seen. Heroes with problems, heroes with Achilles heels, heroes who didn’t always make the right decisions, heck, sometimes they didn’t even beat the bad guy. This was a huge variation in the theme, the defining moment for everything.

Today, we can listen to Elvis songs, and they sound great, but because of the simple quaintness of them, I don’t believe they hold up to today’s younger listeners in the same way that the songs of the Beatles and those that followed hold up. Yes, much like Superman, every once in a while, someone does a great cover of an Elvis tune, but, it’s more nostalgia than anything else. I think the Superman movie proved that as well. You watch that movie and put it up against either of the Spidey movies and it feels like the difference between introducing a kid to Pong vs. Wii.

There’s a reason Batman is the greatest DC hero, he’s the closest to the Marvel formula, but the rest of the DC universe I feel suffers from the same flaws as Superman. In his time, Superman spoke of the immigrant experience which was very important in America at the time, but he’s also a paternal figure where as Spider-Man is us. At his core, Superman is also actually a dishonest character in his make up. He has to create a persona in order to be accepted by the people around him, the same for Batman. That’s also an intrinsic difference between the Marvel and DC characters. Spider-Man is the façade, he’s the mask, Peter Parker is the real deal and if we could actually be superheroes, that’s exactly how it would happen and by virtue of that, makes Spider-Man truer.

By the way, if you disagree with this, that’s cool, but then you would have to argue as to why DC, since the inception of the Marvel Universe, has been trying to Marvelize their characters.

The Elvis/Beatles comparison is a good one, I think. Read the rest of the interview, it’s pretty good and has some nice teases.

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Pre-Crisis 4l: Great Leap Forward

December 22nd, 2006 Posted by david brothers

I started way way back on March 24, 2005. It was run off a blogger template back then, and I managed to make it to September 2005 before we realized that we had no time for it and shut it down. I reopened it that November and we’ve been going strong ever since.

Man, I really, really like some of those old posts. A lot of them need editing and my opinions have changed on some things, but it’s an interesting look at what I was into nearly two years ago. Shoot, I think I was even a Millar fan back then!

If I can salvage the images, I’ll post up the first four of my Top 15 Greatest Comic Stories. I did four and then found myself lacking for time. I also realized that a Top 15 is an awful idea because, holy crap, my tastes keep changing! I also have the first part of “101 of My Favorite Things,” an alteration of a comics meme that hit the net around 07/2005. That’ll probably kill my bandwidth dead, though, so I think I should retool it into another form that isn’t 100 images.

Also, Gavok made some Galactiac jokes or something. Those were the days, right?

Anyway, what follows is the first post from the old blog. It’s dated and pretty much obsolete, as far as these things go. “No more mutants” and “Gambit is a Horseman” pretty much killed it dead, not to mention the death of Sean “Me boyo” Cassidy.

Whatever, though. Here it is, in all its untouched glory. Don’t kill me.

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4thletter is… drama.

December 21st, 2006 Posted by david brothers

No text or essays for this one. I just really, really like the gif.

Want to know the quickest way to have all your blogging time sucked away? Work retail during Christmas and write about video games during the fourth quarter of the year, a.k.a. “The time every single freaking game in the entire world comes out all at once and you have to play most of them!”

More later, probably! I am currently enjoying a day off. I recently figured out how to access every single post from the original incarnation of 4l, which Gavok and I started back in March, 2005! Let’s see if anyone notices when we celebrate a two year blogiversary (such an awful word) four months after we had our one year! I think I’ll put up one of my earliest posts from the site. I just need a good name for the feature. Something faux old timey.

I’ve got a ComicSpace. Add a brothers, will you?

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