Archive for November, 2009



November 30th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I keep buying one issue of Green Arrow and Black Canary and then dropping the book for the next few issues, and then picking it up again.

I have a fondness for Ollie.  I like Mia.  I liked Dinah better in Birds of Prey, but, what the hell.  You take what you can get.  And of course I like Roy, who is like Ollie but not quite as much of a jackass, except to Nightwing, who seems to bring out his jackassery.

But the book has been nothing but misery and more misery for years on end, now.  I want to see a happy superhero team having fun in Star City and it’s less and less likely that that’s ever going to happen.  And don’t even get me started on Cry for Justice.

Are there any books out there that you waffle on?  What makes you drop them?  What makes you pick them up again?

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This Week in Panels: Week 10

November 29th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

A good variety of panels this week. Granted, it may not be the greatest thing that I’ve been reading Clone Saga out of pure nostalgia mixed with curiosity, but that’s still better than hermanos reading Jeph Loeb’s Hulk for whatever damn reason.

Amazing Spider-Man #613
Mark Waid and Paul Azaceta

Arkham Reborn #2
David Hine and Jeremy Huan

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Boobgate: Nine Days Later

November 28th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Jen Van Meter, the writer of “Spin Cycle,” the Cyclone and Power Girl story in the JSA: 80 Page Giant, has responded to my entry of last week. 

Hi, Esther. A friend forwarded me links to your post and to a couple other blogs that have picked up on your comments, and I feel compelled to reply because you’re right — I failed in what I was trying to accomplish with the “Spin Cycle” story, or, at the very least, I failed you and many of your respondents.

What I was asked by DC to supply was essentially a short story about one of the younger JSA characters walking through a door in the brownstone to find something unexpected, surreal, impossible (by the character’s standards) that, whether it “really happened” or not, could somehow have bearing on the way that character perceives her-/himself.

I’ve been interested in Cyclone since she was introduced because, unlike most teens in costume in the superhero worlds, she doesn’t seem particularly interested in conveying a fully-formed adult sexuality, nor is her chosen costume conventionally sexualized. I like her smarts, her sense of the theatrical, and I think she’s interesting because her insecurities seem very plausible and refreshingly commonplace. I wanted the story to be a series of experiences that in one way or another allay some of her anxieties about meriting a place in the JSA, and given that she was team leader at the time I was writing it, I wanted to use PG to stand in for the focus of those anxieties.

Because I was thinking about the story as being some whacked-out magical construct emerging somehow out of Maxine’s point of view, I wasn’t thinking about Power Girl–in the story–as herself but as something produced by how Maxine sees her, and in my reading of these characters Maxine had been seeing PG the way a new hire might see a CEO as explicably demanding, intimidating, and intense as, say, Oprah, Madonna and Secretary Clinton all rolled into one. I wanted Maxine to leave the story feeling more like a worthy peer and teammate.

So one thing led to another, and I found myself wanting Maxine to come upon PG doing something simple, ordinary, humanizing, and when I decided on laundry I started wondering what Maxine would think of Power Girl’s costume. There was nothing externally meta-textual going on for me, but I was indeed thinking that Maxine looks at super-heroics as at least one part theater; she’s got the theater background and knows that–in their world–there’re lots of reasons they’re not all running around in track suits and army/navy surplus. What I had in mind was that in “reading” the costume to this apparition of Power Girl, what Maxine is really doing is explaining to herself some of why she finds Power Girl so intimidating. I’m not pretending to be unaware of the conversations amongst fans and creators about the sexism that seems so deeply embedded in the genre, especially as it focuses on costuming; I am saying that what I was concerning myself with at the time was the notion that similar conversations might/must be ongoing in the world the characters occupy as well.

One other thing I do need to offer up for consideration, and I see this come up frequently in comic reviews and critiques: you ascribed intent to lecture to me but used the art as the focus of your argument. In the script, what I asked for was a shot of Power Girl, “a little surprised by the enthusiasm, perhaps thoughtful,” or something like that. I didn’t see what you have when I saw the inks; if I had done, I probably would have asked if there was time to redraw at least that panel, or, more likely, would have tried to make changes at the lettering stage to make the ideas behind the scene more plain.

Do I like the vast and very gendered disparity in costuming in conventional superhero comics? No. Do I love superhero comics despite the many flaws of the genre? Absolutely. Having chosen to write superhero comics for hire on occasion, must I work with what’s available to me? Sure. Did I imagine that I could say something about Cyclone by giving some thought to how she might see, or want to see, one of the costumes most emblematic of the problem at hand? Yeah, I did. Clearly, I misstepped.

I wish I had caught how the scene could be taken while I was working on the script. I would have done something about it.

No obscenities, no intimations of rage, and no snotty rhetorical questions (which is more than you can say about my original entry).  Very classy.

And here is a link to the original post.  (Jen Van Meter’s comment currently the third from the bottom.  You can also see my response, and a special guest appearance by Jimmy Palmiotti.)

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4thletter! Black Friday Telethon

November 25th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

We don’t have a Paypal button on 4l!, mostly because I’m torn on the idea of people just giving money to the site for nothing. I’d rather someone get something in exchange– Amazon and Project Wonderful ended up being perfect for that.

Amazon is running Black Friday deals all week, and if you click this link, you’ll be taken directly to Amazon, where anything you buy gives us a kickback. Theoretically, this works even if you browse around and buy stuff, as long as you came to Amazon via that link. You can also use the search box on the sidebar (it says Amazon Search, you can’t miss it) and get the same result. Same as the Amazon boxes on any review post.

Costs you nothing extra, you get in on some dope deals, and you help me embezzle money pay for 4l!’s hosting. If you aren’t into shopping online… no bigs. Thanks for reading anyway.

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Frank Castle and the Marvel Universe

November 25th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Solo #7 was originally supposed to have a cover by Mike Allred that depicted the 1960’s Adam West incarnation of Batman dancing the Batusi. It was replaced with Wonder Girl doing the same pose. One of the rumors as to why it was scrapped was that Dan Didio wants to put the kibosh on emphasizing the West-style Batman due to beliefs that West’s portrayal ruined the character for many decades up until Dark Knight Returns returned him to form. You get the idea: you can’t take a man dressed as a bat with underwear over his pants seriously if you’re reminded of that show where Cesar Romero painted over his mustache.

Is it true? Probably not. Batman: The Brave and the Bold is very Dick Sprang Batman and Sprang’s take on the Caped Crusader is practically brothers with Adam West Batman. Then again, I’m not sure if Didio had any real say in that.

But the precedent is there. There are fans out there who seem so stuck in their ways that to even portray their beloved character in a different tone offends them. That’s the case with the current Rick Remender Punisher storyline, Franken-Castle.

People HATE this image and all it represents. If you’re seeing this for the first time, chances are you might be thinking, “What the hell is this shit?!”

It’s awesome, that’s what it is.

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One Piece: Strong World Sketches

November 24th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

gottsuiiyan at The Eastern Edge bought the new issue of Switch Magazine, and it’s got a feature on the new One Piece movie, Strong World. One Piece is basically the best adventure comic, so I’m looking forward to Strong World. Especially if it has stuff like this:


That mooseasaurus rex in the link looks great, too. Good to see that Oda’s Nami is still 2/3 legs, too.

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Comic Book Survey

November 24th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Heidi MacDonald has the details on a new survey for comics readers, masterminded by Megan Milliken. A bit of cut-n-paste:

I am a University of Chicago graduate student conducting research on comic book readership. I’m interested in demographic trends of comic book readers as well as the medium’s effect on readers’ consumption of other cultural goods and participation in civic activities. I’m motivated to do this research first and foremost because I am an avid comic book fan who has derived a great deal of pleasure and inspiration from both the content itself and the community. I’m interested in how comic books have impacted readers and hope to see what it is about a comic book that keeps a reader coming back month after month. That said I have two surveys (the first is for under 18 respondents, and the other is for respondents that are 18 and over) that I have assembled. It is intended for comic book readers as well as non-comic book readers as I would like to compare responses between these two groups (so please pass it along to the norms as well).

If you’re 18 and over, click here. If you’re not 18, learn to speak when spoken to and click this one. There’s nothing NSFW in the 18+ one– I took it and it had questions about salary and education. I assume the 18 and under one asks about toys or Justin Timberlake or whatever.

One major minor quibble: manga’s been around in the US since the ’80s, at this point. There have been several fairly high profile releases. One of the best comics out in the US this year is from Japan.

Can we stop pretending that manga is a genre? Over the past six months, I’ve bought 1800 pages of historical fiction manga (Vagabond), 600 pages of science fiction manga (20th Century Boys), and 400 pages of slice of life manga (Yotsuba&!). The only thing those books have in common is country of origin and format.

Manga = comics, I don’t know how to put it plainer than that. The differences between Japanese manga and American comics, at this point, are semantic at best.

Manga = comics. Treat it like that.

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Tekken 6: King of Iron Fists, Online Manga, and Paper Stories

November 23rd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Tekken 6 came out on PS3 and 360 a while back (and is forty-four bucks on Amazon right now and totally worth the purchase) and captivated my attention, just like the five prior games did. The fighting, the Barbie to the nth level dress-up/customization stuff… half of the games I play online with friends are all about how awesome that bit of hair you put on that character is, where did you get that? And that skirt, whoo! Way to go!

(It’s like playing with dolls, only they fight.)

The thing with Tekken, though, is that its story is dumb. It has a space alien/ancient Japanese ninja who looks like a bug, a bear who takes over a corporation, a kangaroo that gets divorced and that kangaroo’s son who goes on a quest to find his deadbeat father, and a series of people being thrown into volcanos, off cliffs, and into space so that someone else can become president of Mishima Corp. Everything is treated as having happened, including the dumbest “I had a secret twin all along!” twist I’ve seen in my entire life.

It would work very well as a comic, and luckily, Japan is on top of things. Ultra Jump, a spinoff of Shonen Jump, has an online arm called Ultra Jump Egg. And on Ultra Jump Egg is… TekkenComic, a Tekken manga by Rui Takato (author of Scape-God, summaries available here), produced for Tekken’s 15th anniversary and Ultra Jump’s 20th.


tekkencomic01The twist is that it’s also available in English, which is new and neat. Pressing a button overlays English text over the Japanese balloons. It’s a little punctuation starved, save for… ellipses, and the font could scale better, but it reads pretty well. And it’s funny. It opens on the story of Paul Phoenix, who, along with Steve Fox and Marshall Law, have entered the King of Iron Fist Tournament to cheat their way to the ten million yen.

The comic has three chapters up (of three?) and it’s pretty entertaining. The shower scene is kind of gratuitous, and I hadn’t realized exactly how much of a stereotypical anime girl Asuka Kazama was before now (all she needs is a magically appearing hammer). Despite that, Lili as Schoolgirl Imperialist really, really works. And I dug Leo’s brief interlude, too. Considering the last page of Battle 03, if this is an ongoing thing (and some 4l! reader with Japanese language skills please let me know!) I’ll tune in once a week. It’s just as delightfully dumb as the game’s story, which may well be the anti-pull quote of all anti-pull quotes, but I like it. Maybe Viz will license it and put it out over here?

Fair warning, though. Battle 03 is basically frilly panty heaven. Or maybe hell, depending on who you are and where you work.


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Dollhouse Cancelled

November 23rd, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I guess this was a surprise to exactly no one.  A few months ago I would have been ranting and raving at the news.  It seemed to me that the show was just beginning to hit its stride at the end of season one.

Epitaph One and the first episode of season two were fantastic, both mixing inventive stories with deep looks at all of the characters.  I thought that, after the first episodes that pretty much looked like movies of the week, the show was done throwing us episodic stories in which Something Randomly Goes Wrong.

Then we saw an episode where Echo subs in for a mother and gets wiped but still retains her maternal instinct enough to stumble around with a knife.  And a show with a serial killer who ends up in Echo’s body.  That was enough.  I love the show, but not enough to have to sit through six by-the-numbers episodes to get into the main story for each season. 

Goodbye, Dollhouse.  I’m glad I watched you long enough for my love for you to sputter out.  May the next Joss Whedon project end up on HBO.

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Fourcast! 26: Welcome to the Deadpool, Street Angel!

November 23rd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

-Wait, who is that? Who let Gavin on the podcast? Did he hack my computer?
-Theme music: 6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental
-I Made Esther Read: Street Angel, by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca. Check out this clip.
-Deadpool. What’s the deal with that guy? And Agent X, remember that?

And of course, there’s bad news– the Fourcast! is on hiatus for at least a month and change. Unavoidable technical issues, time, unrelated stress, blah blah blah– we’ll be back at some point in January, most likely. Call it a holiday, and call it a comeback in a month or so.

Subscribe to the Fourcast! via:
Podcast Alley feed!
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