Faster Than A Speeding…

July 23rd, 2006 Posted by david brothers

I hate making posts with no visual aids, but I’m in that nebulous time period known as “after church” and “before work” trying to hit you with some content, so just imagine that I put different Superman illos throughout this thing, okay? I managed to find one image I already had uploaded, and it fits, so it’s going up!

Just so I can get this out of the way: Ed McGuinness, hands down, draws the best Superman. No contest. His Superman looks like a super-hero should look.


I’ve found that, in my experience, there are at least three different Supermen. They all share traits, but they all have enough differences to be distinct in my mind.

The first, and by far the most popular, is portraying Clark Kent as the true identity, and Superman as the uniform he puts on to go do good. I think of this one as Mild-Mannered Clark Kent as Superman. This is the one you tend to see in the comics. He’s got human parents, whose values he inherited, a human wife who means the world to him, and a human job that he’s inexplicably managed to hold onto. It’s the values of his parents that make him put on the costume. He has the ability to help, so therefore he has a responsibility to help. He does it out of what appears to be altruism, though one could say he gains some amount of pleasure from fulfilling his duty and making his parents proud. Also, he has a Kryptonian super-dog and possibly a cat. His cousin Kara has a super-horse who turns into a man who she has a crush on, but that’s so horrifically twisted we’re not even going to touch it. This Clark was also possibly Superboy, or would that be Young Superman now?

The other, and next popular (though it may technically be the most popular!) is Superman as Clark Kent, or Why Aliens Aren’t Human. Clark is his mask that he puts on so that he fits in. He’s an alien, and Jor-El’s exhortations to do right are what spur him on. He says stuff like “Great Rao!” and “Sweet Christmas!” He’s an alien masquerading as a human. Clark Kent is supposed to be him as human, blending in, but he way over does it. This Clark Kent is supposed to be down to earth, but he ends up slapstick. Knocking things over, tripping, “Whoops golly gee did I miss Superman again?,” “Hey Lois w-w-would you, ah, would you l-like to go to a movie?” and all that. He’d be a comedian if he got on Comedy Central. It’s like Superman as Jim Carrey. This is the one from the various movies. This one doesn’t have a super-dog, necessarily, but give them time.

The third, and my favorite, is the interpretation we saw in Miller’s Dark Knight Strikes Again. The Super Way or the Highway. He’s an alien with great power, and he knows it. He also knows that earth is horribly flawed, so he does what he can to fix it. Why? Well, because it’s right. Right pays no attention to laws, boundaries, or nations. He’ll cross your borders and fix your civil war himself if he has to, he just can’t let injustice stand. Toward the end of DKSA, this Superman asks his (equally awesome) daughter Kara Zor-El, “What do you want to do with our world?” He’s kind of a behind the scenes benevolent dictator. If you’re doing wrong, you’re in his sights, and let me tell you buddy, he’s got laser eyes. This is a change from the normal comics one in that he’s willing to do things for the greater good, rather than detouring around China because they don’t want him in their airspace. He’ll sling your giant robot into the sun (where it will eventually come back after hibernating, I’m certain) and then come back down and parade you in front of the people you were dictating… dictated… lording it over, just to show that the power is now theirs. He doesn’t have a superdog, and you better be thankful, because Kryptofascist (see what I did there?) will kill you for looking at him funny.

This is also the OG Superman, because he’ll come into your house and throw you up against a wall for hitting a woman. “Don’t get tough!” you’ll say. “‘Tough’ is putting mildly the treatment you’re going to get!” he’ll respond. “You’re not fighting a woman, now!”

In your face, wife beater.

So, yeah, Superfascist is the man. Have a desktop commemorating his awesomeitudinal cool factor.

What’s your favorite Superman?

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The Top 100 What If Countdown… Prelude

July 15th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Back when I first started reading comics, in the 90’s (thunder noises), I was a bit too young to have any real income and was mainly relegated to read comics that had Spider-Man and/or Venom on the cover. One of said covers was for a What If about the New Fantastic Four, made up of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk and Ghost Rider. I had never heard of this team, but the concept was too rad not to look at, so I got the issue.

That, from what I recall, was the only one I ever did get back then. I remember passing on one about Cannonball’s brother Josh because, hell, I didn’t even know who Cannonball was. Didn’t he show up once during the really shitty final season of the X-Men cartoon?

Like many comic readers, spider-clones and evil, magnetic Xaviers pushed me away from the hobby for years. I can’t really remember when I got back into it again, but I know it wasn’t long into it that I remembered the What If series. With nearly 200 issues out there, I only looked at those based on characters I knew about. X-Men and Spider-Man mostly. Then, over time, as I started to understand more about guys like Iron Man and Dr. Doom, I’d read their stories. Then Dr. Strange and Captain America. Then Fantastic Four and Namor. And so on and so forth.

Until Wikipedia came around, these comics were some of the best ways to get background on characters and storylines. I didn’t know a thing about how Strange became a sorcerer until reading these. I didn’t know the story behind how the Silver Surfer became Galactus’ flunky, only to be given independence. In fact, most of Captain America’s backstory I’ve learned from his What If issues. So thanks for the help, Uatu the Watcher.

After realizing how many of these I’ve read, I knew I had to finish the series off. And so, at the time of this article, I have about 30 issues left to go through. Once I’m done with those, it will be time for me to reflect on it with my list of the best 100 issues. Read the rest of this entry �

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Crisis on Infinite 4thletters!

July 5th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

You’re reading this, so this is your favorite site, right? RIGHT?

So tell your friends. Tell your mother, your father, your baker, your barber. I’m super-successful, and work on a magazine that has more readers than there are people on earth, but that is not enough. I crave attention. I am a megalomaniac. Two steps away from getting a metal faceplate and being Hermanos de Acero, I swear on my as-yet fictional tragic radioactive accident that gives me powers.

I don’t want posts to be met with dead air. I want back and forth, I want comments, I want to get people talking or laughing or something. You know what you get with posts by me? Generally snark-free insight on comics, the likes of which you can only find on a mountain in Tibet. I still haven’t written “Dark Knight Strikes Again Doesn’t Suck So Stop Telling Me To Not Like It, STUPID” or “Batgirl Going Evil Was A Bad Idea, But Now That It’s Over, It Could Be Great” or “Top Five Black Males in Comics” or “Top Five Black Females In Comics Who Aren’t Photon Or Storm” yet, but c’mon! They’re coming.

There’s two other guys on this site who’d love some love, too. Wanderer has tons mouths to feed because he keeps adopting adorable little babies. It’s kind of weird how he’s accessorizing his clothes with his children, and I really don’t approve of the cute, but demented, “Baby Pyramid,” but help this man out!

Gavok? Eh, he’s cool. He’s got a sweet What If…? article in the works. He’s subjecting himself to some of the worst excesses of the ’90s for you. You want to know what ones to read and which will give you terminal stupid shock? Wait a few days. You’ll see. This man, this monster… he does it out of love.

So get the word out. Link to the good articles, comment on the writing, start up a blog war with us so that we can get some free publicity, rap beef style. Link us (but not our images, I pay for this site out of pocket, kids) to your busy comics message boards if we say something you hate/love/don’t care about really. Talk us up on your livejournal. We’ve got an RSS feed right here and (oh snap) a Livejournal feed here! I’m going to add these links to the sidebar later today to make them easier to find.

See those rotating banners up at the top? They’re 700×200 jpegs (though one is a gif) and you can make your own. All it requires is a funny, serious, or really just any random moment from a comic and the word “4thletter!” in an unobtrusive spot in black or white. If you’ve got a good one, send it to 4thletter@gmail.com, okay?

C’mon, folks. Get the word out. Is you is, or is you ain’t, my baby?

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Batman Should Be Dark

March 9th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

Batman should be dark.

“But David!” I hear you saying. “You hate dark, angsty Batman! He’s been horribly done in the past few years!”

This is true, but hear me out.
Read the rest of this entry �

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Infinite Christmas Part One: Countdown to Infinite Christmas

December 18th, 2005 Posted by Gavok

Ah, the holidays. A time of family and buying and having to listen to songs about grandmothers and their relationships with reindeer. A time where I find myself watching the final twenty minutes or so of It’s a Wonderful Life or any incarnation of a Christmas Carol that happens to be on TV. Where I think about the old days, where Fred Flintstone would allow his best friend to finally have some of his sugary cereal without chipping in. A time of talking in sentence fragments.

It’s also the day of two of the greatest superheroes to never wear tights. One guy went around for years, using his powers to heal and feed people. He died a pretty kickass death (still need that issue, as I only own the novelization), but for the past 2,000 years, his fans have been clamoring for him to come back. He was a second-generation character, but his dad was WAY too overpowered.

The other guy spends the year in his headquarters, preparing to aid the innocent and punish the guilty. He and his many sidekicks monitor the world as he summons his power for a yearly run of super-speed, stealth and exercise of his bottomless stomach. While some find his ways a bit creepy (watching you as you sleep) and anti-Semitic (only using his power to help the Christians), he still gets support for taking in freaks – such as the talking mound of snow and the mutant reindeer – to help with his annual mission to spread good.

The thought of these bearded men made me think of these other super-powered heroes, trying to do the right thing. What are they up to during those days? And so, I tried to read as many Christmas-based comic books as I could. There are quite a lot out there, whether they be Christmas specials or just issues in December that decide to join the bandwagon.

Let us begin, shall we? Read the rest of this entry �

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