Archive for September, 2009


Oh, hell yeah.

September 30th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Fine, fine, the next DC animated straight-to-DVD movie is badly named.  ‘Crisis on Two Earths’?  We’ve had infinite earths.  Two earths just sounds like people being stingy with the crises.  I was skeptical.

I had reservations.

I was not impressed.

And then?

Hell. Yeah.

Yes, that is James Woods as Owlman.  And Gina Torres as Superwoman.  Is it wrong to hope that evil wins this one?

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Mark Waid’s Incorruptible, Max Daring Is, Too

September 30th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Here’s the brief on Mark Waid and Neil Edwards’s new series from BOOM! Studios:

INCORRUPTIBLE showcases super villain Max Damage, who had an epiphany the day The Plutonian destroyed Sky City. That day, when The Plutonian turned his back on humanity, Max Damage decided to step up. Now Max Damage has changed his name to Max Daring and turned from his formerly selfish ways to become… INCORRUPTIBLE. The flip side to this year’s break-out smash hit IRREDEEMABLE, examining the hard, difficult road to changing your ways and making a difference in the world…

Irredemable turned out pretty good, after kind of a rocky start, and this has a hook I can get down with. Villains turned good is usually pretty fun. Full press release after the jump.


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Tyrese Gibson, Digital Comic Book Innovator

September 30th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Singer-actor Tyrese invents comic book superhero –

“There was an experience that I felt was pretty limiting as far as the comic book experience itself on paper” says Gibson, who stresses that he did not grow up reading comic books and is not a comic book veteran. “[So] I set up this technology with my team and this is the first-ever digital comic book [on iTunes] in the history of comic books.”

“We don’t believe you, you need more people.”

Hey, it’s cool that you didn’t read comics growing up. My mom didn’t, either, and I’m about to ship her a big box full of books that she reads or has expressed an interest in. It’s nice you like comics now! It’s not nice that you are making things up to make Mayhem, your completely and thoroughly awful comic book, seem like something record-breaking and cool!

I don’t remember the first digital comic I got for my iPod Touch. Maybe it was some weird Japanese thing I couldn’t get to play. I do know, however, that I bought Bone: Out from Boneville, just about a year ago. Shoot, Comixology and IDW have been pumping out digital comics over the past year, Comixology in particular.

So- first ever digital comic book on iTunes: untrue. There are no amount of semantic acrobatics you can go through to make it true. It’s not the first comic book designed specifically for the iPhone/iPod Touch format. It’s not the first digital comic on iTunes. It’s not the first comic to add page turns and voiceovers. We call those “motion comics” now and both Marvel and DC have been doing them for months. It’s not even the first print comic to be transplanted to iTunes. That makes Gibson either a liar or ignorant, and if he’s ignorant, he definitely shouldn’t be making bold proclamations.

Gibson: Me and my partner Mike Lee and Will Wilson all got together, we started brainstorming about different concepts and different directions we could send this character in and we came up with something pretty unique. It’s an ongoing series and so as soon as you think you’ve got it figured out, there’s a cliffhanger that makes you want to read the second issue and the third issue.

Mayhem is a three issue series, and it’s not unique. It’s a gritty guy with a gun shooting people and grimacing. People who don’t even read comics are tired of that.

Gibson: In everything you do, there’s gonna be cynics and those folks questioning what your motivation is behind getting into anything. I dealt with it when I went from one career move to the next: “Man, stick to singing; stick to acting.”

I dealt with a lot of that from certain folks in the comic book world. … They wrote these long e-mails and [started] on a smear campaign.

That’s what we call “dry snitching,” talking about someone or something in an indirect manner so that you can seem like you didn’t talk about anyone specific at all. It’s also passive-aggressive and something children do. Gibson is talking about San Francisco comic retailer Brian Hibbs, owner of Comix Experience, one of the more respected comic book shops in the country. Hibbs wrote a post expressing reasonable skepticism about the marketing and probable value of the comic itself. And, hey, he’s a retailer, and he’s got twenty years experience in the game. I figure he knows what he’s talking about. However, his thoughts got him branded a “hater” by Gibson and his youtube sockpuppet.

It was hardly a smear campaign, by the way. It was a retailer expressing doubt, and considering that his livelihood depends on being able to sell comics, he has every right to do so.

Gibson proclaims his newfound love for comics throughout the piece, but it’s always tilted toward “I want people to buy my comic.” He never mentions comics that he enjoys. He only mentions other creators when they are related, tangentially or no, to his book. He speaks of Mayhem going to other media, like movies, after building a comic book fanbase. He positions himself as an innovator, rather than someone who helped create a retrograde and ugly comic book of the sort we’d left back in 1996.

Gibson’s own marketing director, Percy “MF Grimm” Carey, quit the project while citing their “snake oil selling marketing tactics.” Carey’s dissent is important, as his book Sentences, featuring art by Ron Wimberly, was released from a very well-regarded imprint from one of the two biggest comic publishers around. It was critically and commercially well-received, and gained Carey a measure of respect in the comic book world, mainly because he gets it. You have to show and prove before people buy into your hype. You can’t do it in reverse. You can’t hype and expect people to let you spoon feed them baby food.

When you factor in Carey’s reasons for quitting, the Mayhem situation suddenly becomes very clear. It’s a cash-in, a quick attempt to trade Tyrese’s fame for sales of an amateurish comic book about a walking, talking cliche in a cliche of a story fighting cliche villains. You’ve read Mayhem several times before, and it was undoubtedly better every other time.

Mayhem is the dictionary definition of a soft batch: undercooked, underplanned, and falls to pieces if you look at it hard. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Here’s five pages from the first issue and the solicit for issue #1.

Los Angeles, the City of Fallen Angels, is a city swept up by a brutal crime wave led by a kingpin known only as Big X. The body count builds as only one man can stop the flow of drugs and violence, only one man can stop Big X. He is the embodiment of vengeance and raw justice, the faceless arm of those who cannot defend themselves. He is known as Mayhem, and along with his sexy but deadly partner Malice, their goal is to dismantle the kingpin’s organization, unravel the dark secret that mysteriously links them to Big X, and save the city they grew up in.


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Die Hard: Year One & The Unknown: The Devil Made Flesh

September 29th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

BOOM! Studios kindly sent over a couple previews of books that are debuting tomorrow. Die Hard: Year One is a Howard Chaykin/Stephen Thompson joint, while The Unknown: The Devil Made Flesh is by Mark Waid and Minck Oosterveer.

Die Hard first:


John Paul Leon doing Die Hard covers? Be still my beating heart. What do you guys think? It feels kind of like Howard Chaykin doing a David Lapham riff, since the narration reminds me a lot of how Lapham kicked off Batman: City of Crime. Maybe I’m stretching, I dunno.

Devil Made Flesh:


Seems kinda light as a preview, since it more or less requires knowledge of the previous series. I dug the last book, though, and it’s interesting that Doyle doesn’t seem to remember what happened. What do you think?

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“Could ya see yourself with a Spider workin’ harder than 9 to 5?”

September 29th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Sometimes you don’t realize how much you miss something until it comes back.

One of the best parts of Spider-Man’s supporting cast are the female characters he meets, befriends, and sometimes dates. Glory Grant, Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane, Betty Brant, Liz Allan, and probably a dozen others. They ran the gamut from weepy and hot-for-teenager Lee/Ditko-era Betty Brant to determined Gwen Stacy to party girl with a heart of gold MJ.

While Aunt May and MJ’s Aunt Anna were both pretty much cut from the same cloth, with Aunt May being a little more frail on occasion, the rest of the women came from all walks of life, and the series benefitted from it. One woman who is absolutely in my top three, though, is Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat.

Felicia brought a more realistic version of the Clark/Lois/Superman love triangle to comics. In a world where you honestly have a choice between the heroic hot dude and the shlub who just kinda stutters a little, who in the world would choose the shlub? Felicia is an attractive cat burglar and lives the high life. When Spider-Man reveals his identity, all she can say is, “Put your mask back on!” It’s Spider-Man she loves, fabulous man of mystery and amazing hero, not Peter Parker, Dude Who Worries About His Rent.

Felicia brings something to the Spider-books that MJ or Gwen never could. She’s got abilities that raise her above the level of “normal comic book girl.” Her bad luck powers are only icing on the cake for her agility, general physical fitness, and ability to plan a crime. She knows the risks and enters into them of her own free will. Her fun-loving nature, too, provides a wonderful contrast to Peter Parker’s constant gnashing of teeth.

She was actually in my first comic, though she jobbed to Venom there. Amazing Spider-Man #316, the beginning of Venom’s big comeback tour. She comes looking for Spider-Man, not knowing that 1) he’s married and 2) moved out. Venom catches her while she’s in Spider’s old apartment, beats the snot out of her, and leaves her in tears. Great going, guys.

Amazing Spidey #606 brought the Black Cat back into the Spider-Man family proper, with her first appearance in the flagship book since Maximum Carnage. Do the math: that’s 16 years. She showed up in various miniseries and probably Spectacular or Web Of, but Amazing is the Spidey book. Seems like a long time, doesn’t it? Luckily, her return to Amazing Spider-Man is also a return to form, as she reminds me of the character that I loved back in the day.

From Amazing Spidey 606, words by Joe Kelly, pictures by Mike McKone, with Chris Chuckry on colors:


Welcome back, Felicia Hardy.

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Fourcast! 18: Read These Books

September 28th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

After 6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental, we break down eight books that are worth reading. Esther’s got Dan Jurgen’s Booster Gold, Gail Simone and Nicola Scott’s Secret Six, Franco and Baltazar’s Tiny Titans, Batman Confidential, and Superman/Batman. I’ve got Amazing Spider-Man, Criminal, Yotsuba&!, and Pluto. We share some jokes, a couple anecdotes, and realize that though we approach comics in different ways, we generally want the same thing: good stories.

Visual aides:



And a bonus shot, since Esther got a whole extra book!


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Five Things About Dollhouse That Are Hard To Miss

September 27th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

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This Week in Panels: Week 1

September 27th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

This is a new idea I decided to play around with. Rather than write up reviews of every little thing we read every week, we would simply try to get our point across via This Week in Panels. Each week, the collective of 4th Letter would post panels from various comics that have come out that we’ve read. Good or bad, we’ll try to portray them through one panel and let you draw your own conclusions. No gigantic spoilers or anything like that. Just an attempt to show you the essence of what the comic is all about.

Hopefully Esther starts responding to my emails so we can have more DC representation.

Amazing Spider-Man #606
Joe Kelly and Mike McKone

Blackest Night: Superman #2
James Robinson and Eddy Barrows

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Oh, God Didiamnit.

September 25th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Okay, okay, that’s just a shameless play on his name rather than anything specific that Mister Didio has done, but I recently saw a Newsarama interview with him that included the following quote:

 But our plans for Superman/Batman are interesting. Over the next few months, you’re going to see Superman/Batman actually reflecting major events of the past of the DC Universe. We’re going to be building on other stories, other events, using these characters. So you’re going to see an expansion on Superman/Batman’s role in the post-“Emperor Joker’s” world. So you’re going to see effects of “Emperor Joker” in Superman/Batman. As well as “Our Worlds at War”. There are going to be events that we’re going to be filling out there.

So for folks who had fun and enjoyed these big events of the past, we’re going to revisit them in the Superman/Batman book. And expand on the stories of those. And those stories will fit within continuity even more tightly now because they’re written with the current DC Universe in mind.

No!  I beg you!  Didion’t!  One of the reasons I love Superman/Batman is it is a break from continuity and, much of the time, sanity.  It’s fun and ridiculous and you don’t have to figure out the timeline or understand anything of the larger universe.  That book is its own little island of nuttiness.  Leave it pristine!  Let nature take its course.

Think of the children!

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Wednesday Comics #12

September 24th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

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