Archive for December, 2009


4thletter! Year in Review

December 31st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

In a word, 2009 ruled.

Thanks to Gav and Esther for writing and thanks to y’all for reading. Double thanks if you ever bought ads via Project Wonderful, used our Amazon affiliate link, dropped us a kind email, or threw some hits our way.

2010 will be better. It’s 4l!’s fifth anniversary in March, the Fourcast! is due back, and several other things are brewing. Four days from now, in fact, I’m going to begin something that’ll either kill me or make me better at this.

Keep reading.

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The Princess and the Frog

December 30th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Spoiling.  It’s what I do.

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We Care a Lot Part 20: Creatures on Infinite Earths

December 30th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

It’s time for the second part of the journey to check out the other alternate universe takes on Venom. We should probably start off with—wait, a sec.

What about Exiles? That’s a series that’s all about different Marvel universes. From what I’ve seen, Venom got shafted throughout. There was an inclusion of Peter Parker with the Carnage symbiote (I think), but Venom wouldn’t appear until the very last issue.

You see, Marvel always has to give Chris Claremont something to do… or else. He’s like the incompetent nephew that Quesada always has to give work to or else his sister will give him hell. They tend to give him stories that take place outside of Marvel 616, such as Exiles. The series became New Exiles and Claremont ran it into the ground, all while fulfilling his rampant [insert female X-Men member] fantasies. They relaunched it with Jeff Parker at the helm, where Morph would lead a team made up of Blink, Scarlet Witch, Beast, Black Panther, Forge and Polaris. It was fun, but nobody cared because of the stigma attached to the previous run. It was canceled by #6.

Venom appeared for a single panel. Why did I go through all that explanation to cover a single stinking panel? Because in it, the team sees another Exiles supergroup and I just know that Jeff Parker made the wrong choice.

Look at that team! I swear, if Parker went with that lineup instead of mutants and wacky Black Panther, it would be outselling Blackest Night.

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The Week That Wasn’t

December 30th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

One comic coming out for DC?  ONE?  And it’s Blackest Night?  And Marvel’s just handing out calendars?

I know this week is generally ignored (see the quality of this post) but I don’t recall this happening before.  I guess everyone really got screwed timing-wise.

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My Year in Comics: 2009

December 29th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I keep trying to do a top ten list, but I keep getting bored and wandering off partway through. It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s just that everyone has done it, and I wouldn’t be bringing anything new to the table. Sure, my list of ten books would be different from someone else’s list, and I’d probably inadvertently end up pissing off fans of Geoff Johns/Brian Michael Bendis/JMS again. What’s vastly more interesting, is looking at 2009 in terms of how my approach to comics changed. I stopped chasing the dragon this year, but that’s just half of it. I started, or re-started, a lot of things, too.

Amazon makes this easy. I can look at the 46 orders I placed in 2009 (which is completely ridiculous) and see what I bought and when I bought it. On 02/16, I ordered three books from Amazon. Jack Kirby’s O.M.A.C., Black Panther by Jack Kirby Vol. 2, and Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Vol. 1. I was very high on Kirby after picking up the first two Fourth World omnibuses, so that explains the two Kirby books. The outlier is Pluto. I hadn’t picked up any manga in some time before then, having stopped reading Monster when I moved to SF and already having a complete set of Dragon Ball. I’ve had a box full of manga chilling in my place for two and a half years now, with everything from Battle Vixens to Shaman King to The Ring waiting to be pulled out and reread, only for that to never happen.

The catalyst was Pluto, though. I’ve been watching anime since I was a kid, reading manga since I was a teenager. I remember picking up Super Manga Blast to read What’s Michael. Two days after reading Pluto 1, I ordered Monster 9-12, inadvertently giving myself two copies of volume 9. By February 24th, I had volumes 14 through 18, completing the series. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed Monster, and reading the end of the series in a sprint like that was a blessing.

I live about six blocks from Kinokuniya, which is easily one of the best places to buy manga in the city. Large selection, decent back stock, and they’re on top of new releases. They’ve got an enormous selection of Japanese books, too. I visited it maybe twice my first year and a half here. Now, it’s more like monthly.

Pluto led to 20th Century Boys, which in turn led to Viz Signature. Other than a brief dip into and out of Black Lagoon (Nah, y’all can keep that one), Viz Signature has turned into my favorite imprint in any comics company. I’ve picked up Dogs, Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, Jormungand, solanin, What A Wonderful World! and Vagabond, and enjoyed all of them. I’m looking forward to reading GoGo Monster (which is a very handsomely designed book), Real, not simple, and maybe Tsutomu Nihei’s Biomega.

Viz Signature led to SIG IKKI, which led to Shonen Sunday. I rediscovered Yotsuba&!, which led to Yen Press, which has a few titles I need to try out. A friend’s recommendation led to Mushishi, from Del Rey, and a few titles out of that imprint, too.

I started paying attention to manga blogs, mainly via Brigid Alverson’s Manga Blog and Kate Dacey’s Manga Critic. That spiraled out into half a dozen other blogs, which led to more books. I started writing about manga more often, though nowhere near as often as I actually read it.

While all this was going on, I was growing out of slavishly following superhero books. David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp fell in my lap like a bomb, I fell in love with Darwyn Cooke’s Parker: The Hunter, and scored several other books. I grabbed a used copy of Usagi Yojimbo: Grasscutter II on a whim and remembered how much I dig that series. Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai coming out a few weeks later was perfect timing, leaving me ripe for more. While the special edition by Fantagraphics collecting the first chunk of stories was pushed back to September 2010, I’m paying attention to Stan Sakai again and wondering why I ever stopped.

Dark Horse’s Noir and David Lapham’s Young Liars reminded me of Stray Bullets again, Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli’s Unknown Soldier rocked. I finally read Creepy, Adam Warren’s Dirty Pair, and a gang of other books.

I read Ganges #2, my first Ganges, after some goading from Tucker. I loved it, now I’m looking out for that, too. I can count the number of books by Fantagraphics I owned before picking up Ganges on zero hands. Now, I’m keeping my eyes open.

That was 2009 for me. I found a lot of new things, I learned more about my own tastes, and I started fitting my buying habits around that. I try more things, I’m open to more kinds of books, and it’s been fun discovering things that I should’ve known about all along.

2009 was a good year for comics. At this point, I’m reading American books of all types, a few Eurocomics thanks to Marvel’s partnership with Soleil, a lot of manga, a little manhwa… is there a word for that? Omnivorous? “Comics reader?” Either way, I feel better about comics than I have in a long while.

2010 is going to be a good year.

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And keep them heels off my whitewalls, girl, dang!

December 28th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Check out this cover by Jim Rugg.


Dope, right? Jim Rugg is crazy talented. He has a comics set on Flickr, so go and look at more of his pieces there.

And tune in this time next week for something special. Gonna kick off 2010 with a bang.

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This Week in Panels: Week 14

December 27th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Ready for another week. Sadly, the super awesome Ares miniseries comes to a close. I’ll miss it.

Amazing Spider-Man #616
Fred Van Lente and Javier Pulido

Arkham Reborn #3
David Hine and Jeremy Haun

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Sherlock Holmes: Review and Criticism

December 26th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Overall:  Not bad.

Any more, and I’ll be spewing out spoilers, so only click if you want to know.

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On the Intricate Subtleties of Racism

December 25th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Garth Ennis and John McCrea, with the able assistance of a demon from hell, a ghostly confederate general doomed to haunt a World War II tank, and several demons from Nazi Hell, thoroughly examine modern racism in The Demon #48:


Merry Christmas, everybody!

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The JLA Christmas Special

December 24th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I guess almost everyone who celebrates Christmas has their little media rituals involved with it. 

Mine used to be A Christmas Story.  Yes, despite everything.  Don’t judge.  Some people watch the Yule Log.

After it started coming on for twenty-four hours at a time, even I was over-saturated, and so I started looking for other things to enjoy during Christmas.

Geeky though it is, I love the JLA Christmas special, titled Comfort and Joy.  With three stories, it doesn’t let us get bored, and there’s something for everyone.  Shayera and John get an unconventional Christmas.  The Flash gives us our Scrooge parable.  And Clark and J’onn?  That’s my favorite one.  I love that Clark still tries to figure out what his presents are, and I love that the Kents wrap them in lead foil, and I love that when the Kents talk about how they wrapped the gifts in lead foil, Clark frowns and says, “You mean Santa wrapped them.”

Best of all, I like the ending of that story, which was corny and sincere and, in a way, understated.

See it on youtube.

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