Archive for September, 2010


All-Star Superman Trailer

September 23rd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Courtesy of MTV’s Splash Page:

Not entirely sure how I feel about it–the best parts of All-Star Superman were the parts that could only be done as a comic and would get stripped out of the running time of an 80 (or whatever) minute film. The death of Pa Kent and the tenth issue, which is essentially Flex Mentallo told in 22 pages (superheroes are here to save us, both literally and figuratively, and we created them to do so), seem like they wouldn’t translate very well, or even at all. Regardless, I’ll probably watch it. The people involved are pretty talented, and the trailer’s a-okay.

You can get All-Star Superman in two paperback volumes for about twenty bucks total (volume 1 and volume 2) or pre-order the oversized Absolute All Star Superman for… sixty-eight bucks. Absolutes are nice, but rough to read and reread. Choose wisely.

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September 23rd, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

So once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a book called Green Lantern: Secret Origin, which retold Hal Jordan’s origin story.  Since Hal Jordan’s origin story is not long or complicated (test pilot.  got ring from alien.  might as well say ‘a wizard did it’.) and is probably the best known of any Green Lantern origin, it recounted this story for reasons known only to itself, but it was a pleasant enough book, with good art and clear story-telling.

Towards the end of the first issue, it threw in the following scene:

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The Cipher 09/22/10

September 22nd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Quick hits!

Shadow of the DAMNED trailer is heat rocks. Suda51 is dope, Shinji Mikami is pretty straight, and Akira Yamaoka is cool, so I’m basically on-board day one, and I don’t even really care about video games any more.

-Did anybody else look at that Shadowland: Blood on the Streets book the other week? I flipped through it, got to like page four and was like “nope.” Why?

Yeah, naw, I’m good man. You go on and take that somewhere else.

Shadowland: Daughters of the Dragon is similarly wack. Look at the soft batch of an action scene in this preview. Everything about it is a turn-off–the way they just hop off the motorcycles, the stiff art, the absurd fight in a truck that is also a shapechanging warehouse, whatever whatever. Gross.

-I’ve been paying more and more attention to fight choreo in comics. It’s such a basic thing, and I’m growing increasingly certain that getting it wrong is absolutely ridiculous. It’s one-two-three-four–first this, then this, then this, and then this. A lot of superhero artists tend to do it the other way, pinup-pinup-pose-pinup, instead, and it looks like crap every time. It’s sequential art, right? Then it follows that the images we see should be in sequence, rather than a loose collection of images where people are maybe kinda sorta fighting/dancing. This is like drawing cross-eyed people or one leg noticeably longer than the other. C’mon, son. Do better.

-That new John Legend & The Roots? Wake Up!? It’s a cover album and it’s fantastic. That eleven minute version of “I Can’t Write Left Handed”, one of my favorite Vietnam songs, goes hard. Legend divas it up some, but I’m digging it. It’s basically a tribute to the ’70s, and Legend does really well.

-Grant Morrison wrote the superhero comic Bible when he wrote Flex Mentallo. I can’t even imagine why someone wouldn’t like it or what it says about cape comics and superheroes themselves.

-My launch PS2 still works and Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is still basically the illest game on the system. I’m playing it again after a break of a year and some change. I’m in Rise’s striptease dungeon, but I think that Kanji’s gay bath house takes the prize for greatest stage of all time.

Stuff I Read, Stuff You Should Buy
-I got a big box of books from Vertical, and I’ve made it through 7 Billion Needles (review coming here soon), and Chi’s Sweet Home 1, 2, and 3. I’m currently reading The Crimson Labyrinth and I finished Parasite Eve late last week. They’re all good to great, which is astounding. I know I read a lot of Viz, and for good reason, but Vertical, Inc is pumping out some great stuff while nobody’s looking. Parasite Eve was deeply weird and I never thought I’d say this, but I definitely read a scene where mitochondria masturbated.

Empowered 6, huh? How good was that book? Sistah Spooky is killing me over here.

-Guess what’s on sale? Scott Pilgrim is on sale! The entire series! For fire sale prices! Links: Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 2: Scott Pilgrim Versus The World (v. 2), Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 3: Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness (v. 3), Scott Pilgrim, Vol 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Scott Pilgrim Volume 5: Scott Pilgrim vs The Universe, Scott Pilgrim Volume 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour

-Comics Alliance: we beat up on a crappy interview from The Atlantic, I review Empowered, Wildstorm is dead, and here’s some Marvel comics you should read.

I read your comic, now I break weed up on it
“The Immortal” David Brothers, brother!: This week, there’s nathan, but penetra-er, I’ve got no comics this week, but I might buy Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry’s Thor because John Workman lettered it.
Miss Esthlizabeth: I tried to find a title that Esther’d never read, like maybe Prison Pit or Preacher, but eh… effort.
“Macho Man” Gavin Jasper: Green Lantern Corps, Justice League Generation Lost, Avengers Academy 04, Avengers 05, Deadpool Team-Up 889, Hit-Monkey 03, Hulk 25, Secret Avengers 05, Darkwing Duck 04

Anything worth reading this week?

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Wow. I might buy nothing this week.

September 22nd, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I’m imprecise when it comes to my comics habit.  I’ve grown out of buying one series all the time to be completist.  At this point I have neither the money nor the patience to do that.  Because of the twists and turns of the comics world, deaths and crossovers, I might have to drop any issue at any time.

I’m also imprecise about keeping up with comics news.  Occasionally, when I’m low on material, bored, or hear about an awesome e-fight, I might stop looking at pictures of cute animals online (or videos – I swear, watching a baby sea otter get bottle fed, a fawn coming in through a cat door, or a boxer puppy getting fed medicine and coughing at the taste will never, ever get old) and sluggishly navigate over to see it.  So it’s usually not until David prompts me that I lumber over to the DC website and figure out what I’m reading for the week.  This week, though, I got bored early and checked out the page. 

For those of you who are dying to hear about the process, my way of picking things out is simple.  I scan down the week’s releases on the comics page, making a note of what I want to read immediately.  Then I re-scan the page, opening up new tabs for so I can read the blurbs for the comics that I’m on the fence about.

Most of the time there are only one or two that I know I’ll buy, and three or four that I might buy but probably won’t.  This week there’s nothing.  Supergirl has been so all over the place, especially with the exasperating New Krypton storyline, that I don’t buy it.  Powergirl has not been a draw for me since it turned to gloom and putting a dead woman’s body on the cover doesn’t increase my interest.  Wally’s my Flash.  Arsenal is usually a good character for me, but that’s because he was a good-natured happy guy who was also a father.  Now he’s none of those things, so he holds no interest for me.  The only thing I might get is Superman/Batman, and unfortunately it’s undergoing baffling timing.  It’s a story about Dick taking on the role of Batman and Superman possibly blocking his way – a year after it happened.  And I’m pretty sure they’ve already had a DickBatman, ClarkSuperman team up in that very book before.  Why would they have a conflict storyline now?  That’s just bizarre.

Maybe I’ll get a trade or something.

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Cripes on Infinite Earths Part 2: Scissors, Paper, Stone

September 21st, 2010 Posted by guest article

Guest article by Fletcher “Syrg” Arnett.

Well looky here, already we’re having a change of plans. After reading Empowered vol. 6 this week the blurb at the end informed me Adam Warren had written an Elseworlds story. Given that I’d rank Empowered as my book of the week (if not for the solid month), pulling this out of the stack took precedence over the first of the Bland Bat-Batallion of stories.

Titans – Scissors, Paper, Stone
Written by: Adam Warren
Art by: Tom Simmons with Adam Warren
Focuses on: Teen Titans
Self-contained/Multiple books: Self-contained
Published in: 1997
Central premise: Far-future teens taking on the role of the Teen Titans to stop an immenent “gigaclysm”
Martian Manhunter Out of Fucking Nowhere? No

I’m going to be entirely honest: I’m terrible with the Teen Titans. I don’t know a fucking thing about them, I’ve only read Terror Titans and a couple of issues of the latest series, and that was all for Static, baby. (Consequently, I’m not reading another issue of the damn thing, because two mistakes were enough, and I don’t like being the jilted lover. Fuck you, DC.) I picked up Tiny Titans for a bit but dropped it when my kid sister stopped reading it as well and I needed to slash the budget.

This is very much not the usual Titans story. (Or maybe it is? I’m willing to bet not though.) Rather than run through some massively-plotted concept and try and cram it into 50-60 pages, Warren just gets us into the thick of things pretty quickly and alternates explanation (mostly origins for our motley crew) and action, with small bursts of character building beyond the hero template each mimics.

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This Year in Panels: Year 1

September 20th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

A year ago I talked to David Brothers about an idea I had for the site. I had tried writing reviews of weekly releases before, but I never got into it. There were a couple reasons and they’re both about redundancies. I can tell you about how great the latest issue of Captain America is, but so will every other site. There are so many other comic sites that will give better reviews of new stuff that I don’t know why anyone would give a damn what I have to say among all that. Then there’s the fact that comic quality doesn’t change so often within the series’ run. If I tell you that Captain America is great one month, chances are it’s going to be just as good the next. Why waste my breath? If I want to give you my opinions, I want it to at least be interesting and hopefully unique.

I thought back to the first issue of the Agents of Atlas miniseries from several years back. The general response of people who read it and tried to push it was to point out that there’s a scene where a 1950’s robot runs down a hallway while carrying a talking gorilla and that gorilla is firing four uzis with his hands and feet. I figured that maybe that could be the unique way to cover the comics of the week. I’d settle on one panel that really pushes what the comic is about, more than often more than the cover does. It’s no longer so much a review as it is giving you a gist on what we all read. At the same time, I would make sure not to have any major spoilers. If the comic has Wolverine beat up Daken in the climax, then I won’t show it. I will, on the other hand, show them about to fight it out.

If anything, it was also an excuse to keep me from straying from doing anything for the site too long at a time. I’d have a deadline of some point every Sunday and I’ve been pretty good on that. I’ve only delayed two weeks and those were because of a lengthy power outage and the loss of my computer.

I didn’t know if it would work, but David said to go for it. Now it’s been a year and I thought it would be fun to do an extra installment in a retrospective form. The idea was to pick one of my favorite panels from the previous 52 weeks, but with the challenge of not double-dipping from the same title at any point. Here we go!

Adventure Comics #4
Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates and Jerry Ordway

Amazing Spider-Man #617
Joe Kelly, Max Fiumara and Javier Pulido

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4 Elements: Marvel Universe vs. the Punisher

September 20th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

With a swift biweekly run, last week saw the ending of the miniseries Marvel Universe vs. the Punisher by writer Jonathan Maberry and veteran Punisher artist Goran Parlov. I was a bit wary on this mini when it came out, since Maberry’s Doomwar just wrapped up and I didn’t enjoy it like I hoped I would. I gave the first issue a try and it certainly paid off. I’ve seen multiple people agree with my sentiment: this comic is surprisingly pretty good!

The comic appears to be based on Mark Millar’s intentions for the original Marvel Zombies miniseries. The idea being that Frank Castle is the last man alive and plays the I Am Legend role by hunting down superhero zombies and trying to survive day-to-day. Robert Kirkman decided to go a similar route, only using Hawkeye, until he realized that it had already been established that Hawkeye was a zombie too. Then he went with the Black Panther/Silver Surfer plotline and the rest is history.

So what is it about this second attempt at this idea that makes it so enjoyable to me? Well, there are four elements. This is ignoring the obvious one of “a Mark Millar idea that isn’t actually written by Mark Millar.”

The series takes three existing Marvel stories with promising concepts, improves them separately and mixes them together. The first one is obvious in Marvel Zombies, where the infected Marvel superheroes and villains go tear apart and feed on the populace. The second is Punisher: The End, where Frank kills what’s left of the post-apocalypse. Then there’s Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe. I’ll get to the former two in the other elements.

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Fourcast! 62: Spider-Man Casts Shadows

September 20th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-You Made Me Read This!
-David made Esther read David Hine, Fabrice Sapolsky, and Carmine Di Giadomenico’s Spider-Man Noir!
-Esther made David read Ann Nocenti and John van Fleet’s Batman/Poison Ivy: Cast Shadows!
-Esther’s response when David told her about Spidey Noir: “My god. There could not possibly be a book that’s more you. Unless at the end of the comic Peter Parker goes to war.”
-David’s response when Esther told him to read an Ann Nocenti comic: “Oh no please don’t throw me into that briar patch!”
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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This Week in Panels: Week 52

September 19th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Goddamn. It’s been an entire year of this. I hope you folks have been actually enjoying these. I mean, I do it regardless because it’s fun, but if you’re digging it too, sweet.

It’s just me and Was Taters this time around. Shockingly, we’ve BOTH read Azrael this week, making me wonder if we’re in fact the only two who are keeping up with the series. And yet Azrael is still going to last at least 14 issues. I’m not complaining, but it is rather strange to me. Maybe Didio really likes the guy.

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #3
Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert

Avengers & The Infinity Gauntlet #2
Brian Clevinger, Lee Black and Brian Churilla

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Who buys this stuff?

September 19th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I don’t think that 4thletter is a unique site.  (Apologies to David.)  Sure, it has a bunch of writers who mix excellent taste with class and intelligence, but there are other sites which do that.  (Particularly the ones which hire me.)  At the same time, there are a lot of places more dedicated to comics news and comics commentary, than this site is.  Everyone who reads this post will be reading other sites, and will be commenting on message boards, and if they live in a big enough town, will have people they get together with to discuss comics.  What I’m saying is, add up everyone on this board and you cast a wide net, with a wide variety of tastes and preferences.

For all that comics tend to veer towards sex and violence these days, there is enough variety within them to cater to all these tastes and preferences.  Some comics are darker, some lighter, some for adults, some for kids, and so on.  What I’ve noticed, though, is that some comics will get an overwhelming bad reaction on every single site on which they’re mentioned.  Don’t get me wrong, there are individual defenders of the comics on each site.  But still, there are some which get a collective groan on every site and in every venue.  It’s almost common knowledge that these books suck.

And yet they’re still published.  More than that, they’re often so popular that they’re expanded on.  I don’t know how much of the comics community is represented online, but I can’t help but wonder, “Who buys this stuff?”  If every single forum I go to responds with contempt at the very mention of a certain character, book, or storyline, if the very idea of it is ridiculed in internet memes, if no one likes it; why is it so very, very popular?

Because often this stuff is flying off the shelves even as everyone on the internet denounces it.  I know it’s a cliche that the rage of net nerds is impotent and inflated.  I also know it’s a cliche that people often profess to hate something as soon as it has turned popular.  But I have to wonder how things get to be and continue to be so overwhelmingly popular even as everyone talks about how terrible they are. 

Have you noticed things that fly off the shelves even when those who are most passionate about comics hate them?

Have you seen who buys the stuff that most people don’t like?

Have you ever lied and said that you would never, ever buy that crap – and then gone somewhere incognito and bought that crap?

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