A quick sample of fun

July 11th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

What If THIS Was the Fantastic Four is a comic that nearly passed me by. For whatever reason, my comic shop didn’t even get it in until I got wind of it and had it ordered for myself. It’s a good thing it got on my radar, because it’s a classy issue and well worth the read.

It’s about the New Fantastic Four sticking together as a team, which has been done before. While that wasn’t a bad issue, this one goes in different directions. Not just the optimism and the opposite use of Dr. Doom, but the 90’s story barely included Ghost Rider at all, while here he takes center stage.

The true story of the issue is this: it was meant to come out with the other What If issues around December. Mike Wieringo, the artist, was seven pages into drawing Jeff Parker’s script when he passed away. Rather than leave the comic alone, many of Wieringo’s artist friends got together and finished the comic themselves. Art Adams, Stuart Immonen, Humberto Ramos, Mike Allred and many others help tell the story of four loners joining together in snazzy black and blue tights. Plus it has a Mini Marvels page about them at the end!

If anything, the comic gives me one of my favorite sequences in recent history.

Though there are a couple snags. Parker forgot that Daniel Ketch was Ghost Rider during the New F4 storyline and had Wieringo draw Johnny Blaze. They kept it that way so as not to mess with Wieringo’s art. Then we have a scene later in the book where Skottie Young depicts Dr. Doom’s face with his mask off. Last I recall, that’s supposed to be one of the big no-no’s in comics.

I really need to redo that Top 100 list. Probably after the next batch come out. They’ve really been on the ball with these lately.

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Adjusting Mythology

July 1st, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Marvel’s Mythos series is pretty interesting. They’re 32 page one-shots that re-tell, and sometimes re-adjust, the origins of a few Marvel heroes. They don’t fit into any ongoing series, so the collection will likely come in the form of a “Marvel Mythos” premiere hardcover sometime over the next year, hopefully. From the first solicit:

AN ALL-NEW SERIES OF PAINTED ONE-SHOTS FROM MARVEL, RECAPTURING THE EARLIEST DAYS OF OUR GREATEST HEROES! The first of a series of quintessential, stand-alone, done-in-one stories by Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera, MYTHOS: X-MEN takes readers back to the formative days of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and recounts the first encounter between the nescient, teen-aged X-Men with their ultimate nemesis, Magneto! Filled with new detail and nuance, the MYTHOS books are also the perfect starter set for those readers new to the Marvel cast of characters, or to those who known them only from movies and television cartoons!

The line-up thus far has been pretty much par for the course. X-Men, Hulk, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Fantastic Four, and Captain America. The books haven’t really functioned as direct movie tie-ins, save for maybe Ghost Rider or Fantastic Four. Instead, they’re quick primers on the character that also serve as a light continuity patch. Characters are modernized and origins are retooled for the modern day. The FF were given their powers on a space station, instead of fighting Russkies, for example. Come to think, their origin is probably the most changed.

Usually, this is the exact kind of story I’m not interested in. Continuity Comix? Give it a miss. For some reason, though, I’m really digging them. I think it’s because they feel like a throwback. They’re like the backups that used to show up in Marvel comics, like “Here’s the secret of Spider-Man’s webshooters!” or “Here’s the layout of the X-Mansion!” Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera make it work, though.

Rivera’s art is fully painted, but still manages to come with enough of a retro flair to make it reminiscent of old comics. He uses a color palette that isn’t garishly dayglo, nor is it Alex Ross-y. It’s not subdued either. It feels just right. His facial expressions come through clearly, in part due to the large size of the panels giving him room to work. Johnny Storm’s casual embarrassment, the Congressman’s bemusement, and Sue Storm’s complete and utter lack of surprise at her little brother’s antics all are true to life. You can recognize them on sight. I also love that they included the schematic of the old school Baxter. I love seeing that stuff.

Paul Jenkins caught a lot of flack post-Civil War: Frontline. You’d think the man hadn’t written a good comic in his entire life, the way some people talk. However, looking back, he’s got The Sentry, Inhumans, and he had a killer run on Spider-Man. His last issue of Spectacular Spidey, with art by Mark Buckingham? That was one of the best issues of Spider-Man in years. It was pitch perfect.

The core of all of those stories that Jenkins did so well on lies in the relationships he puts on display. Ben and Peter, Norman and Peter, Black Bolt and his subjects, Black Bolt and Medusa, Sentry and his wife/friends, and so on. He’s putting in similar work on the Mythos books. They are about the origins, yeah, but more about the choices, or lack thereof, that led to the origins and the choices that followed. Reed desperately trying to talk Ben down, or Captain America thinking about the men he served with and the things he missed, are what makes these books so good. Johnny Blaze making the decision to sell his soul and Peter Parker’s rage and shame at realizing he caused the death of his uncle are more crucial scenes that succeed.

I started this post with the intention of talking about the Captain America book, but got way off track. The Cap book is a good one because it focuses on Steve Rogers, not Cap. It’s about his life, his dreams, and his regrets. I’d challenge anyone who thinks that Jenkins doesn’t “get” Captain America to read it. I’m willing to bet that you won’t come away with that feeling. This page alone is dead on. I love the dual Nick Fury appearances… and is that milk Cap is drinking?

The Jenkins/Rivera team is a great one. They’re telling tales that you’d think were inessential, but are actually really good. I’m hoping Marvel does the series justice when it collects it. I’m hoping for an oversized HC, myself, but that’s because I’m addicted. I also kind of want Jenkins to get a crack at the Fantastic Four for a while, too.

Also, this cover is basically the definition of awesome. I didn’t even catch the detail on the shield when I first picked up the book.


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Return of the Wrath of Comic Con

April 22nd, 2008 Posted by Gavok

The weekend of chunky guys dressed like Colossus and hot women dressed as Slave Leia has come to an end. I myself had a great time, spent with hermanos from this very site and a whole bunch of guys from Funnybook Babylon. Sadly, Thomas “Wanderer” Wilde deemed himself “too broke” to consider joining us and Hoatzin would have probably involved a gigantic plane ticket paid in rare diamonds, since he’s from Europe. I don’t know. I really have no grasp on how that type of thing works. Besides, Hoatzin seems to have vanished from our planet. What happened to that guy?

This one movie sent the other movie into space.

Day One

Last year I got to New York the day before the con started, which allowed me enough rest and whatnot. This year I had to come in the first day of the event and kill time until David Uzumeri came in from Canada, since he was in charge of dealing with the hotel. I walked straight from the Port Authority bus terminal to the Javits Center, which tired me the hell out.

After getting my swanktastical press pass, I met up with hermanos and Joseph of FBB. They were at a panel starting up that was a screening for a new Will Eisner documentary. Since I was tired from all that walking, I decided to stick around and watch it. I found it interesting in the sense that I honestly didn’t know all that much about Eisner, which is almost a sin if you’re a comic fan. The four of us (David U. showed up towards the end) mostly agreed that while it had some fantastic stuff in there, such as taped conversations between Eisner and guys like Kirby, the sum of it was incredibly dry.

Shortly after, we went to the panel on online journalism, with guys from Newsarama and CBR there. It wasn’t as good as the comic blogging panel from last year and mostly focused on arguing over criticism vs. getting press releases. Once that was done with, I was rested up enough to do some wandering.

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Let the King Have Some!

March 17th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Seeing as how Hoatzin and hermanos have been getting so much attention for the criticism pile-on for Greg Land in light of him being the sour milk in the bowl of X-Men cereal… whoa! I’m not sure how I feel about that metaphor.

Anyway, I too have made a discovery about Mr. Land. I found an old sketch of Land’s from Ultimate Fantastic Four and noticed it looked a bit off. There’s something strangely familiar about this scene.

Maybe I’m just looking at it too hard. I don’t know.

By the way, Solenna updated her Peabody Award winning Greg Land/X-Men #500 gif. Good for her.

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Weekly reviews – 02/14/08

February 14th, 2008 Posted by Hoatzin

I read some comics and I review them here. Just click “Read the rest of this entry” to see them. I know you’re all very excited. Happy Valentines Day!

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Sweet Christmas!

October 16th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

It’s clobberin’ time—in the arena and in the streets, between the Gangsters and Panthers, and between the Fantastic Four and the elusive, malicious Golden Frogs!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

Full solicits here.

Diamond in the back, sunroof top…

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Hello all

August 2nd, 2007 Posted by Hoatzin

First impressions are important. I’ve spent several hours pondering about how to start my introductory post on 4thletter, and in the end I decided to just take the easy route. Hi, I’m Hoatzin, 4thletter’s newest staff member, but call me Paul if you like. I am Dutch. I like comic books. But only when they are good comics. I also draw, badly, but I’ll leave that for another article. For now, just to get an idea of what type of comics I like, I’ll leave you with some random thoughts on this week’s comics. And yes, I do basically read every single Big Two book that’s being published. Thank you for noticing.

Action Comics 853 – Despite my usual enjoyment of Kurt Busiek’s comics, the fact that this is a Countdown tie-in really hurts the book. Although Busiek does a better job at making me care about Jimmy Olsen’s plight to become a superhero than Countdown, the general storyline is still pretty lame and predictable.

All New Atom 14 – Pointless fan-pandering is rampant in part three of the Hunt for Ray Palmer, with the (temporary) return of Ted Kord in a book that does not feature any characters that should care about him. But Donna Troy is soooo amaaaazing.

Black Canary 3 – Oliver Queen is a moron.

Countdown 39 – A Sean McKeever issue, so at least the dialogue is decent, but the pacing remains glacial, none of the plotlines and characters are compelling and the artwork is once again fairly atrocious. The character introduced as last issue’s cliffhanger panel does not actually show up until the last two panels of the second to last page of the main storyline and the cliffhanger page after that is hilariously pointless. The only reason I’m still reading this book is because it will lead into the Grant Morrison-penned Final Crisis.

Detective Comics 835 – Dini is apparently busy with Countdown, so it’s a filler issue, but a surprisingly solid one at that. John Rozum (creator of Milestone Comics’ cult-hit Xombi) re-invents the Scarecrow as a genuinely terrifying enemy in part one of what promises to be a very interesting two-part story arc. The dark tone of the book is perfectly complimented by Tom Mandrake’s excellent atmospheric artwork.

Fantastic Four 548 – Dwayne McDuffie continues what has so far been an entertaining run on the book. I disagree with the numerous complaints that McDuffie has been overplaying Black Panther; T’Challa is essentially Marvel’s Batman, always ready with a plan and quick on his wits, so his portrayal in the book has been perfectly in-character.

Justice Society of America 8 – After the (terrible) Lightning Saga crossover, Johns has decided to take a breather with two more low-key issues focusing on two of the lesser known JSA members. Last month was a one-shot focusing on the new Commander Steel, this month is a story about Jesse Quick, the new Liberty Belle. It’s a welcome change in pace, but the issue itself is a mixed bag. Jesse’s characterisation is well done, but her relationship with Rick Tyler is obnoxiously written. Johns should also either give Zoom a rest or do something new with the character, because at this rate he’s growing stale really fast. I still fail to care about Damage and his clichéd damaged (ha ha!) past. This issue also has fill-in art by Fernando Pasarin, and although it’s decent, it’s nowhere near as good as Eaglesham’s. Despite all this, it’s not a bad read overall.

Metal Men 1 – The surprise book of the week for me. I was unfamiliar with Duncan Rouleau’s writing prior to this, so I don’t know how it stacks up to his previous work, but this was definitly an entertaining read. There’s a lot of content crammed into 22 pages and most of it is interesting. The banter between the Metal Men is amusing and they each have distinct, defined personalities, Will Magnus is a nice sketch of a character so far and the mysterious ongoings are intriguing, especially the last page cliffhanger. The artwork is another high point. It’s cartoonish and vibrant and the coloring is lovely, with inventive panel layouts and lots of energy. It’s not perfect; at points it gets overly busy and some of the computer effects are annoying, mainly the copy-pasting of specific elements, but it’s a nice break from the conventional look of most current DC books.

And now that I’m halfway through my books for the week, I’m going to take a little break. More thoughts (in particular the new Supergirl and World War Hulk issues) later!

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Tonight @ Isotope Comics

July 21st, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Wuxtry, wuxtry, read all aboot it–

Tonight, from 8pm to midnight, Mike Carey is going to be at Isotope Comics in SF doing a signing/meet’n’greet. Knowing the Isotope, there’ll be drinks and cool people to chill with, so come one come all.

I’ll be there, so that makes the cool people count at greater than or equal to “one.” I just gotta decide if I want him to sign a Hellblazer trade or Lucifer or Ultimate Fantastic Four.

I’d get X-Men 200 signed, but it isn’t in trades!

Who: Mike Carey
What: An Evening With
When: 8pm-Midnight
Where: Isotope Comics
Why: And sometimes, yes.

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Marvel Zombies: Ash’s Chainsaw and Other Beginnings

July 21st, 2007 Posted by Gavok

A couple weeks ago, Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness finished off. Marvel Zombies 2 has just been solicited for October. With that in mind, it’s about time I laid out my thoughts on the whole Zombieverse.

It all started back in 2005. Mark Millar was in the midst of his Ultimate Fantastic Four run and he started making some hints at a certain special story arc. From the looks of things, the Ultimate Marvel Universe was about to make a crossover with the mainstream universe Marvel 616. I wasn’t paying attention at the time, since I wasn’t reading Ultimate Fantastic Four, but I can only imagine people were annoyed as hell. Not only did this defeat the purpose of the Ultimate continuity, but Millar probably didn’t garner all that much faith going into what would be such an important story.

But the evidence was there. The story was titled “Crossover”. One of the variant covers for the first issue showed Ultimate Reed exchanging a shocked glance at an older Reed with snazzy white hair tufts. The second issue of the arc showed a more mainstream version of Magneto manhandling the Ultimate Fantastic Four. The first issue builds up to this meeting, including a scene where the two Reeds discuss the differences between their worlds. Older Reed — shown via hologram — mentions the Avengers and his children Franklin and Valeria.

Truly, this had to be the Ultimates/616 crossover we’d been dreading.

Or not.

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Great Moments in Comic History – Thinking

July 19th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

I’m feeling really tired and haven’t quite had the energy to blog the past few days! Never fear. Instead of an actual post, I’ll give you that most pernicious of blog posts– a random image!

Dr. Doom appears to have won the day. The Human Torch is blinded and trapped with the Mole Man. Namor has made off (and perhaps even made out) with Sue. Benjamin J Grimm is MIA and of no help. Reed Richards? He’s hiding in his tower, cowering before the might that is Doom.

What does the world’s greatest mind do in this situation? He puts on his thinking cap.

This is one of the best scenes I’ve seen in a Fantastic Four comic, and is actually what got me to finally try the franchise after avoiding it since childhood. Grant Morrison and Jae Lee’s Fantastic Four: 1 2 3 4 is what a movie critic would call a tour de force, with an excellent merging of writing and art. This was my introduction to post-X-Factor Jae Lee, and it was a revelation that prompted me to purchase the Inhumans maxiseries he did with Paul Jenkins.

Jae Lee draws a sick Namor, and Grant Morrison writes a quality Fantastic Four.


I’m thinking some things over in my head, and I think I might try something new with the blog over the next few days, posting-wise. I’ve got some good comics to review, at any rate.

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