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Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings: Be to Bl

December 30th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Sorry for being a week late. The holidays drained me faster than a three-way with Rogue and Parasite. …Please pretend I didn’t just say that.

THE BEYONDER

Secret Wars II #1 (1985)

We start out with another iffy entry. The Beyonder was present during the first Secret Wars. That’s obvious. It’s just that at no point did he actually appear. That didn’t happen until the horrifying sequel. We know him for his silly disco outfit, but that wasn’t what he originally showed up in.

I like it. We see him talking with the Molecule Man, who tries to explain things to him in a way that is admirably calm and casual. Molecule Man and Volcana send Beyonder on his way as he takes a more subtle form on his quest for experience. This form is of Molecule Man himself. He proceeds to turn a desk into apples, turns a fat television writer into a super-villain and then turns invisible and follows Captain America around for the hell of it.

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Pre-Crisis 4l: Great Leap Forward

December 22nd, 2006 Posted by david brothers

I started 4thletter.net way way back on March 24, 2005. It was run off a blogger template back then, and I managed to make it to September 2005 before we realized that we had no time for it and shut it down. I reopened it that November and we’ve been going strong ever since.

Man, I really, really like some of those old posts. A lot of them need editing and my opinions have changed on some things, but it’s an interesting look at what I was into nearly two years ago. Shoot, I think I was even a Millar fan back then!

If I can salvage the images, I’ll post up the first four of my Top 15 Greatest Comic Stories. I did four and then found myself lacking for time. I also realized that a Top 15 is an awful idea because, holy crap, my tastes keep changing! I also have the first part of “101 of My Favorite Things,” an alteration of a comics meme that hit the net around 07/2005. That’ll probably kill my bandwidth dead, though, so I think I should retool it into another form that isn’t 100 images.

Also, Gavok made some Galactiac jokes or something. Those were the days, right?

Anyway, what follows is the first post from the old blog. It’s dated and pretty much obsolete, as far as these things go. “No more mutants” and “Gambit is a Horseman” pretty much killed it dead, not to mention the death of Sean “Me boyo” Cassidy.

Whatever, though. Here it is, in all its untouched glory. Don’t kill me.


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The What If Countdown: Honorable Mention Awards

November 20th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

As I said in the last article, most What Ifs are interesting in their own way. Whether it’s because they tell a really good story, an abomination of a story or if the changes in reality are completely off the wall, almost every issue has something worth talking about.

I just talked about 100 of these stories and a couple extra ones I thought were crappy. So rather than have me write a bunch of exhaustive issue profiles, how’s about we just look at the bits and pieces that got my attention? It’s time to hand out the What If Honorable Mention Awards!

If I wasn’t so lazy, I would probably Photoshop a bunch of golden Uatu statues.

Edit: It looks like I didn’t have to. Thanks to Kyle Hayes for the award trophy.


Strangest What If Couple: Quicksilver and Gwen Stacy

This comes from What If the Age of Apocalypse Hadn’t Ended (volume 2, #81). Tony Stark, head of the human resistance, joins up with Magneto to figure out a way to save Earth from the coming of Galactus. Among Tony’s fellow human freedom fighters are the Hulk, Sue Storm and, strangely enough, Donald Blake’s bodyguard Gwen Stacy. Er… yeah. I guess with her dad being a cop and all… No, it still sounds goofy.

Pietro is without a sister and Gwen needs a boyfriend who can kill her with whiplash. It’s only natural that these two would find each other.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 17

October 24th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Sorry about that. Real life schedule sort of held me back for a bit. But I’m getting back into the swing of things and we’re almost done with this. Just a reminder for the artist types reading this, I could use your help.

20) WHAT IF THE PUNISHER BECAME AN AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Issue: Volume 2, #57
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Mike Harris
Spider-Man death: No
Background: There’s no exact turning point here. Frank Castle has always been on the run of the law. Every once and a while, he gets caught. In this story, while in prison, Frank meets Nick Fury. Nick has kept an eye on Frank and wants him to lead a SHIELD strike force. No more going after the petty dealers. Now he’ll be going after the top drug lords with weaponry Frank’s never imagined using. With a choice between that or spending the rest of his life in prison, Frank makes the right decision.

Wouldn’t you know it, Frank Castle has never had so much fun. With his hand-picked troops behind him, Frank goes after high profile villains he never thought he’d ever get a chance to go up against. We see as he and his boys go after the Yellow Claw and bomb his drug crop into oblivion. He actually seems far less cynical now, feeling that he’s actually in a war he can win.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 15

October 5th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

This article is dedicated to all the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner fans out there. Why? Because anyone else is probably going to be bored out of their skulls.

30) WHAT IF…? STARRING SECRET WARS: 25 YEARS LATER

Issue: Volume 2, #114
Writer: Jay Faerber
Artist: Gregg Schigiel
Spider-Man death: Yes
Background: The all-powerful Beyonder brought a group of heroes and a group of villains onto a planet he created to battle for his amusement. The storyline is known for introducing the Venom symbiote, putting She-Hulk in the Fantastic Four and for one of the funniest movies on YouTube. Dr. Doom, using his own genius, found a way to steal the power of Galactus and challenge the Beyonder. He then stole the Beyonder’s power too, but things went to Hell and he ended up back to his usual ugly self. So if Galactus is powerful enough to challenge the Beyonder, why didn’t he? And what if the fight between the two ended with both of them dying? Toss in Reed Richards’ death for flavor.

The story begins on the 18 birthday of Balder Blake, otherwise known as Bravado (son of Thor and the Enchantress). As he does every year, he tries to lift Mjolnir, his father’s hammer. He still can’t lift it, despite the support of his friends Crusader (daughter of Captain America and Rogue) and Mustang (son of Hawkeye and She-Hulk). They return to his house to find a surprise party waiting for him. It’s there that we meet his other friends Torrent (daughter of Wolverine and Storm) and Firefly (son of Human Torch and Wasp). As the story goes, the Secret Wars lasted for about five more years with many casualties until the two sides decided to call a truce. Now, for the most part, they and their children live in harmony.

There’s also Symbiote Spider-Man. He acts a bit creepy, talking in “we speak” that Venom was so famous for. Plus he’s a bit anti-social. Curious…

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What’s So Civil About War, Anyway

September 27th, 2006 Posted by Wanderer

Civil War is really fucking stupid.

I think I could fix it.

Let’s see if you agree.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 8

September 4th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Just so the other Marvel alternate universes don’t feel left out, here are some quick reviews for a couple of them.

Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe: Fun, if it’s one of your first Garth Ennis stories. If not, you’ll be rolling your eyes.
Earth X: Strangely, I haven’t read it yet. One day.
Marvel Ruins: Depressing, hard to look at and pointless. A lot like the Steel movie.
The Last Avengers Story: You know why Kingdom Come worked? It knew who the Big 3 of the Justice League were and centered it on them. A brief cameo by Captain America, a vague explanation of Thor’s death as a flashback aside and absolutely no mention of Iron Man fails this comic. For shame, Peter David. For shame. Nobody cares about Henry Pym but you.

Now let’s get to what you came here for.

65) WHAT IF THE SILVER SURFER POSSESSED THE INFINITY GAUNTLET?

Issue: Volume 2, #49
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Scott Clark and Kevin West
Spider-Man death: Technically, yes
Background:Thanos had reached his goal and wielded the power of God himself through the Infinity Gauntlet. He fought the remainder of Earth’s greatest heroes with only a fraction of his full power, yet he still killed them off easily. The battle was all a plan by Adam Warlock in hopes to distract Thanos so the Silver Surfer could fly by and grab the Gauntlet off Thanos’ hand. He missed. Then a lot of stupid stuff happened. So if he did grab it, it would kind of have to make for a better story, right?

With a successful steal, the Silver Surfer stands before the depowered Thanos and Captain America. Adam Warlock (I keep trying to type “Adam Strange” when I bring him up) pops in to thank the Surfer and asks for the Gauntlet. The Silver Surfer refuses, as only the Silver Surfer can be trusted with such power. He takes the omnipotence, claiming it to be a burden that needs to be carried. First he undoes all of Thanos’ destruction. Earth is set back the way it was and all the heroes are resurrected. Terraxia is destroyed since she was never meant to exist.

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Lobo’s back’s back.

August 30th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

Just a few quick bullets on what I’m thinking about in the world of comics right about now.

- This week’s 52 was good. Lobo’s reintroduction was great, and his origin, completely with pompadour, was a good look, too.

- I have a new issue of Kabuki to read. I’m positively giddy. I may wait until tomorrow to read the latest issue of the best non-monthly series ever.

- All-Star Superman, by The King of All-Comics and Frank Quitely, delivered. Lex Luthor’s eyebrow and sheer arrogance come through perfectly and hilariously.

- Mike Carey’s first issue of Ultimate Fantastic Four? Way better than Millar’s entire year, of which I read approximately the first three months. It’s that good.

- Black Panther’s World Tour has started up, and it’s going to be a doozy. Doom gets what’s coming two different ways. Next month is the Inhumans, I cannot wait for that.

- The Boys 02 is the second issue in a row to feature, er, doggy-style. Pun possibly intended. This is one of the most mean-spirited books I’ve read, but we get some good character insights in Billy Butcher and friends. I’m definitely interested, and Robertson’s art? It’s great.

- x-men 190 Have you guys seen Chris Bachalo’s cover to X-Men 190? It’s incredible. The scene it depicts happens a little different in the comics, but that’s water under the bridge. There’s precious little Rogue in this book, but her old costume is lovely and her new assertiveness fits a character who’s been a mainline X-Man for years now. She isn’t just “Sugah sugah mope mope mope.” She’s a fighter. Carey is doing a bang-up job on this series. This guy is remarkably good in the Marvel U. His Hellblazer was good, but Lucifer never grabbed me. His Marvel stuff, though… too good. Loving it.

- Mythos HulkMythos: Hulk by Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera is a four dollar bundle of joy. The Mythos series (right now just Hulk and X-Men) is a retelling of Marvel origins. They are updated for the modern era and boiled down to their essences. Rick Jones isn’t dared by friends to go onto the testing site, he’s an intern who isn’t paying attention. That sort of thing. They’re good stuff, and Rivera’s art is a treat. Highly recommended, and I hope they collect all of them into a handsome hardcover down the line.

- I read Wonder Woman 02. I’m done with the series. I realized that the moment I saw Wonder Woman start to do that stupid spinning thing from the TV show. No sir I do not like it. The Dodson’s art is great, as always, but Heinberg leaves me flat. Not quite Young Avengers flat, but flat. It wasn’t just the spinning what done it, either. It’s a book that seems to be trying very hard to get me to care, but does a poor job of closing the deal. Giganta is smart and tall… okay? Donna Troy is Wonder Woman and sucks at her job… okay? Wonder Woman is sneaking around and hiding… why bother? It’s weird. My favorite portrayals of Wonder Woman have been in the Morrison/Waid/Kelly JLA era. Doug Mahnke drew the absolute best WW ever. The wet hair look was way better than the usual comic book poofy hair. He drew her lean, but powerful, and his Angry Wonder Woman was something to behold. So, uh, now that I own the first 90 or so issues of JLA in trade form, I guess I’ll go read those when I want to read about Wondy.

Titans – Someone explain this image to me. Is this from the new issue of Teen Titans? I found it linked off SomethingAwful’s BSS forum and it… bleh. Johns, what are you doing, man? That first row, save for Aquagirl and Speedy is worthless, and I like Speedy despite Judd Winick’s handling of her. The second row has Beast Boy and Offspring and they’re cool, but the rest of that row is worthless, too. I realize I’m prejudging here, but Little Barda is too much. DC just needs to leave the Fourth World alone. Give it to Morrison and a good artist and just keep it out of anyone else’s hands. It’s cool to see Mas y Menos and Captain Marvel Jr, but again, the rest of the characters? Bleh. On the bottom row, I think that the two Daughters are interesting ideas, if pushing the gimmick a bit, and I like Ravager, and that leaves Osiris. If Osiris turns out to be Isis’s brother, he’s got the most poorly thought-out code name ever. It takes a lot for me to read Titans. Introducing a bunch of no-names and go-nowheres isn’t really drawing me in. The series hasn’t really grabbed me since Titans Tomorrow, to be quite honest. Maybe it’ll pick up, but I basically have read Teen Titans for two years of my life. I can do without it. It’s turned into the JSA, in that it’s a book about a team full of characters who should be guest-stars at best.

- To be quite fair, Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men is boring me, too. Ha ha, Wolverine, yes, but the rest of the book is cute references up the wazoo and SHOCK REVEALS. It’s very pretty, but I’m not even remotely interested in the story. It feels like it’s treading water, with Neat Callback Scene (Kitty Pryde in the sewer last issue made me roll my eyes hard) to Neat Action scene with no meat inbetween.

- Just to complete the custom combo, I found Serenity boring and Firefly decent to middling at best.

- Cameron Stewart is awesome. You all know this, yes? His upcoming book about Vietnam looks like the bee’s knees. However! He and his Royal Academy of Illustration and Design cronies are having a draw-off, and Harley Quinn was the pick for today. Harl is probably my favorite bat-villain, so go check it out. I kind of like Cam’s, since it’s classic Bruce Timm style, but all of them are good. Go look!

- Oh man, I’m totally going to pitch DC Joker Loves Harley Quinn and do it in the Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane style, but with more mayhem. Yes.

- Here’s an interview with Georges Jeanty, artist of The American Way. He’s a great talent, and TAW is totally a sleeper hit. It gets better and better. It’s telling a great tale of superheroics in the 1960s and actually deals realistically with race. I’m loving it, and 4l member Thomas Wilde likes it, too. He doesn’t like anything but Barb Wire, Vampirella, and other bad comics, so him liking a good book is astonishing. I’m kidding! He doesn’t actually like any of those books. However, if he doesn’t write for the blog, I’ll tell everyone that he does and then kill him while he sits in shame.

- I’ve gotten a buttload of trades over the past couple weeks. X-Men: The Coming of Bishop, Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student, Starman: Sins of the Father, X-Men: Golgotha, some JLA v3 trades, Ghost Rider/Wolverine/Punisher: Hearts of Darkness, Spider-Man: The Assasin Nation Plot, The Punisher/Wolverine: African Saga (Carl Potts and Jim Lee! Whatever happened to Carl Potts?), and Monster volumes 3 and 4. Also Absolute Kingdom Come, though I don’t like Alex Ross’s art very much at all, but I love extra content in hardcover comics. I sometimes fear that I have bad taste in comics, but I love them too much to quit.

- So, summing up: Comics are great right now, Wonder Woman’s series is blah, Teen Titans is blah, but comics are still great, the internet is awesome, and I’ve got bad taste in comics. This ended up a lot longer than expected. It was supposed to be a short post!

- Peace!

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DC Solicitations, November 2006

August 22nd, 2006 Posted by david brothers

You can find the list, plus covers, over at Newsarama.

My commentary on the interesting books lies after the jump, and I’ve included the solicit text for them, too!
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Dated ’90s Reference hoooooo!

August 9th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

Gotta be da shoes!

Man, that is a dated reference. How many of you remember “Gotta be da shoes?” Oh Spike Lee, what are you doing now? This is what Buffy and Matrix references are going to be like five years from now.

I honestly believe that if you were to put Gambit and Wolverine together as a duo, you’d have an unstoppable engine of destruction that would burn through everything in its way.

Add Jubilee and I would read this book. You could have Rogue and Yet Another of Wolverine’s Ex-girlfriends guest star every couple of issues for some good old fashioned soap opera drama.

I would call it “Gambit and Wolverine Make Fools of the Marvel Universe: Featuring Jubilee.” It will sell millions.

Speaking of selling, here’s what I’m picking up from the comic shop today, assuming that everything makes it in. My commentary is in paratheses.

52 WEEK #14 (I’m hooked, what can I say. They’re screwing with the heroes in a way that makes for good reading.)
ANNIHILATION #1 (the lead-in miniseries were quite good, so definitely getting this.)
BEYOND #2 (OF 6) (Sleeper hit, you mark my words. The first issue was excellent.)
FIRESTORM THE NUCLEAR MAN #28 (One of DC’s best titles, hands down.)
MAN CALLED KEV #2 (OF 5)
MARVEL ZOMBIES HC
WOLVERINE ORIGINS #5 (Pretty interesting story so far, and I hear Jubes is going to be in an upcoming issue!)
ULTIMATE GALACTUS BOOK 3 EXTINCTION TP (Gotta complete the set, and I loved the art.)

This is a pretty light week for me. Only six monthlies. I’m thinking of getting the X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl TP, if only for the awesome art. It had a good story, too, so it may be worth the 14 bones.

Next week is going to be serious business for me. I’m getting Batman Animated, Absolute Dark Knight, and Absolute Hush. I love behind the scenes stuff, so Batman Animated is a shoe-in. Frank Miller and Jim Lee are consistently in my personal top five artists list, so their work in Absolute format at 37% off is a steal. I didn’t much like the story in Hush, but I cannot argue with Lee’s artwork, as if my complete and utter infatuation with early ’90s X-Men didn’t tell you that. I even desperately want this book, X-Men/Ghost Rider: Brood Trouble in the Big Easy. I will eventually own every Jim Lee X-trade. I think I’m only short two right now.

(I think I need an intervention, but these books are such a simple pleasure. There’s a great bit where Gambit, Psylocke, and Jubes are tied up on Mojoworld. Mojo is blah blah blogging about how he wants to record X-Men fighting other X-Men. “As if ya don’t get enough footage o’ that?!” Jubilee responds. “Jubilation,” says Psylocke. Jubilee mutters, “why does everyone say my name like it means “shut up?”. How can you not love that? More later.)

I absolutely (see what I did there?) love Dark Knight Returns and Dark Knight Strikes Again (a better love letter to the silver age than anything alex ross has come up with), so Absolute Dark Knight is tops.

Also in that top 5 list are Quitely, Romita Jr, Bagley, Romita Sr, Sienkiewicz, David Mack, Tom Grummett, Mike Wieringo, and a bunch of others. As an English major, I am incapable of counting properly.

What’re you getting? This week’s list is located here.

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