It’s Your Hair Because You Paid For It

June 28th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

The latest issue of Dwayne McDuffie’s run on Fantastic Four addresses the issue of whether or not Storm’s hair is a weave. Spoiler alert: it isn’t. Her eyes are natural, too.

Now, seriously, 100% no lie: every single black person I’ve ever known who read X-Men asked “What’s up with Storm’s hair?” with a dash of “She’s got blue eyes?” I have wondered this for probably seventeen years, so it’s nice to see some explanation, especially nice from McDuffie.

And Manstream gets it wrong. Ugh. People do ask dumb questions about hair. It goes for men and women alike– try growing an afro and see what kind of dumb ideas people come up with. No, I’m not sticking a thing in my hair, jerk.

I don’t even know how I found this link, because I don’t read Manstream. It’s like I have some kind of radar sense that draws me to terrible things on the internet, and it’s working overtime when I just wake up. I had to FIGHT not to just post “U MAAAAAAAD.”

And the assumptions! I mean, obviously addressing hair complaints means that Storm is going to start snakecharming her neck and start “telling Ben not to “get up in her grille” next.” I mean, only a certain kind of person has a weave, right? Right? (It’s grill, not grille. Grilles are on cars.)

This is why we need more black bloggers and writers and artists.

A more insightful post coming later today! I read a very interesting comic by a writer I enjoy who has a reputation for being a gross-out humor specialist, but who came on point with the social commentary!

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Reader Participation

June 27th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

I’m thinking about dropping the More links on the blog, so that articles are just out there in the altogether, unless they need spoiler space or something. That can result in a wall of text, as you can see below. Thoughts? Good, bad, drop it, bring it back?

I need to work up some new headers, too.

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Spec Spidey 200

May 7th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

I mentioned this in another post as being a scene I enjoyed seeing recreated in Spider-Man 3. I’ve got it below the cut.

Art’s by Sal Buscema, words by JM DeMatteis. It’s a great scene and wonderful capstone. Spoilers abound, obviously.
specspider-man_200_35.jpg specspider-man_200_36.jpg specspider-man_200_37.jpg specspider-man_200_38.jpg specspider-man_200_39.jpg specspider-man_200_40.jpg specspider-man_200_41.jpg

For comparison’s sake, here’s the scene from the movie, paraphrased.
Harry leapt in front of Peter and ended up being stabbed through the chest. Pardon the chatlog.
Peter: Hey pal, how you doin’?
Harry: Been better.
Peter: Get you through this.
Harry: No.
Peter: I should never have hurt you. Said those things.
Harry: None of that matters, Peter. You’re my friend.
Peter clasps his hand.
Peter: Best friend.
And Harry dies.

There it is. No commentary needed, I figure? Be a little careful with your comments and spoilers, since the movie is fresh out. If you want to talk spoilers, toss them between <spoiler>spoiler tags</spoiler> and it should hide them properly. Make sure you mention what you’re spoiling, too!

I owe you guys a post. I was writing it on Sunday, but some paying work dropped into my lap, and with a move set for next Monday, you can understand how important that is right now. Soon.

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Spider-Man 4: Rise of the Silver Sable

May 4th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

I just got back from Spider-Man 3. Brief, spoiler free review:

I spent eight bucks on it and left the theater satisfied. I didn’t find it cluttered at all, though a few subplots were spaced out a little too far. It was a long flick, though, so I kind of understand.

Couple quick spoilers behind the tag–

-They did the scene from the end of Spec Spidey 200, though slightly altered! I was hoping for a “You’re my best friend, Pete,” and they got pretty close!
-Stan Lee got a “’nuff said” in.
-JJJ stole the show, as usual.
-Topher Grace wasn’t a great actor, but he worked the role well. He was sleazy!

Actual comments later, I figure, for it is nearly three in the a m. suffice to say that it was probably not as good as Spidey 2, but still a worthy member of the trilogy. It was one part guilt, one part soap opera, and one part action, just like all the good Spidey stories.

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Bits & Pieces

April 26th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Linkblogging again today! I’m off tomorrow so I can put some work in then.

– I am flying out to San Francisco on Sunday and staying until Wednesday! I’m apartment hunting for my move there in May. It’s fun trying to guess at your take-home pay without knowing how much the gov’t is going to ream you for taxes!

– I finally got the out of print Mr Majestic TPB. I now own each TPB of his two solo series, which is kind of a weird feeling. It took me a while to realize how much of a big Wildstorm fan I am. Anyway, the book collects issues 1-6 and the Wildstorm Spotlight by Alan Moore and Carlos D’Anda. I think that the series went on for eight issues total, but what we’ve got here are six done-in-ones plus a special. From the back cover copy: “Mr. Majestic rearrangest he solar system, repairs a temporal anomaly, gains a son, halts an intergalactic prison break, and meets the Ultravixens.”

Also from the back cover copy: “Remember when superheroes could move planets?”

The first Maj series is kind of a precursor to All-Star Superman in theme, if not in quality. Both stories take these wild silver age tropes and, rather than looking at them ironically (“Ha ha why do you need an invisible plane”) they just take them at face value. Majestic can move planets. Why? Because. It’s a pretty light and warm book from what I remember, and the team of Joe Kelly, Brian Holguin, and Ed McGuinness is the perfect fit for it.

Another choice line: “What the @#$# is wrong with you?! I’m a freakin’ nun!”

Ah, Ladytron.

batmanrobin6cvrsm.jpgI love Jim Lee’s new Batgirl design for All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder. (For color reference, see here.) It’s just all around awesome. The freckles visible under the bat-mask, the bats on the boots, and the big yellow bat-symbol work really, really well. I also love costume designs made up of just two colors for some reason, so that’s icing on the cake. I’m also really, really fond of Frank Miller’s dangly and busy way of drawing earrings. It’s funky and different. Also, is it me or is that a Daemonite head that Batgirl (who I’m assuming is Barb Gordon, if only because of the freckles and hair?) is standing on?

– 52 this week (#51, to be exact) was pretty good and paid off in all the expected ways. Buddy returning was a nice capstone to his story arc, though he now may be the most powerful thing in the DCU. I can’t imagine DC dropping the ball on that, so expect him to show up in Countdown. Also, I totally called the Mr. Mind in Skeets thing, just like 51% of the rest of the internet, but the payoff was so much better than I expected!

– Is anyone else reading and enjoying Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov’s Barracuda as much as I am? It is trashy and ugly and excellent. Barracuda has turned out to be a lot smarter than anyone ever gave him credit for and the series has been quite a ride so far. Be interesting to see where it goes!

– What’s it say about me when the most striking part of the first Outsiders trade is John Workman’s lettering? I love that man’s work. He’s got style and he’s unique.

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My Point’s The Fount of Orphan’s Tears…

April 8th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

I went through a phase in middle school or so where I burned through the local library’s fiction section. My comics reading was down to whatever I could borrow or trade from a friend, so there was always a limit on the new comics I had. Wikipedia (going by publication dates) puts this at around 1994-1995 at the earliest, but it was more likely 1996. You can carry more books if you go for them in mass-market paperback.

I think my library had a five book limit. My mom got me a library card and we’d go up every weekend or so and I’d get five books for myself and then try to use her limit up, too. I’d read the books over the course of that week and then want to go back to the library the next weekend. It got to the point where I was finally left to bicycle to the library, probably a good three miles or so, with a backpack on my back.

I read most of Stephen King’s books, skipping only the Dark Tower stuff really. I eased through Tom Clancy, Orson Scott Card, Douglas Adams, and Piers Anthony. Clancy peaked partway through the Jack Ryan series, Ender’s Game has two divergent sequel paths and the path with the talking portuguese tree pigs or whatever is awful, Douglas Adams is okay, and Piers Anthony is good at terrible puns. I also made it through most of those Star Wars and Forgotten Realms novels, not to mention the different Sherlock Holmes books and horror titles. Oh, and David Eddings. My taste, as ever, leans more toward the pulps than the canon.

(Just as a note, I can barely stand fantasy, high or non, nowadays. I hate elves and fairies and dwarves and stupid talking magic things and dragons and pointy ears and argh. I still haven’t watched Return of the King.)

I found one series at the library, though, that I’d been wanting to read for ages. One of my uncle’s had a box of old novels that met an unfortunate end one wet summer. There was a novel or two in there by a guy named Fred Saberhagen. One of them dealt with super-science death machines called Berserkers. They were out to eradicate all life. The other novel dealt with gods going to war and the people who followed them. Saberhagen was working the sci-fi in one hand and the fantasy in another, and I was hooked completely. Moreso on the fantasy than the scifi, but the scifi was also dope.

Little did I know that the book about the gods was part of a trilogy, which was in turn part of a larger series of books, twelve in all, or maybe seventeen, but only twelve of them interested me. This was The Book of Swords. Luckily, the Hampton, VA public library had the whole shebang.

I probably tore through the series in a month, probably less. The whole thing was just wall to wall awesome. It told the tale of twelve magic swords and the effect they have on certain people as they move in and out of their lives. Sure, it had the usual lost destiny, magic, blah, blah, blah of fantasy novels, but these magic swords were the bomb. The swords were explained and named in “The Song of Swords,” reprinted here for your pleasure:

Who holds Coinspinner knows good odds
Whichever move he make
But the Sword of Chance, to please the gods
Slips from him like a snake.

The Sword of Justice balances the pans
Of right and wrong, and foul and fair.
Eye for an eye, Doomgiver scans
The fate of all folk everywhere.

Dragonslicer, Dragonslicer, how d’you slay?
Reaching for the heart in behind the scales.
Dragonslicer, Dragonslicer, where do you stay?
In the belly of the giant that my blade impales.

Farslayer howls across the world
For thy heart, for thy heart, who hast wronged me!
Vengeance is his who casts the blade
Yet he will in the end no triumph see.

Whose flesh the Sword of Mercy hurts has drawn no breath;
Whose soul it heals has wandered in the night,
Has paid the summing of all debts in death
Has turned to see returning light.

The Mindsword spun in the dawn’s gray light
And men and demons knelt down before.
The Mindsword flashed in the midday bright
Gods joined the dance, and the march to war.
It spun in the twilight dim as well
And gods and men marched off to hell.

I shatter Swords and splinter spears;
None stands to Shieldbreaker.
My point’s the fount of orphans’ tears
My edge the widowmaker.

The Sword of Stealth is given to
One lonely and despised.
Sightblinder’s gifts: his eyes are keen
His nature is disguised.

The Tyrant’s Blade no blood hath spilled
But doth the spirit carve
Soulcutter hath no body killed
But many left to starve.

The Sword of Siege struck a hammer’s blow
With a crash, and a smash, and a tumbled wall.
Stonecutter laid a castle low
With a groan, and a roar, and a tower’s fall.

Long roads the Sword of Fury makes
Hard walls it builds around the soft
The fighter who Townsaver takes
Can bid farewell to home and croft.

Who holds Wayfinder finds good roads
Its master’s step is brisk.
The Sword of Wisdom lightens loads
But adds unto their risk.

I can’t help but think of Dragonslicer’s verse as being an off-kilter version of “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” The Song was what really sold me on the series, I think. It’s one of those that gives you just enough information and clues as to what could happen, but leaves it open for wonderings. Sightblinder alone I could see getting some dude into some Tactical Espionage Action, and Stonecutter in the hands of a Joan of Arc-alike would be awesome!

By the way, the Sword of Mercy, Woundhealer? You heal people by stabbing them with the sword.

This series also featured what was probably the first real swerve I ever really read in a book. Click below to see what I mean, but ending spoilers await.
The books take place roughly 50,000 years after the current day. A nuclear holocaust nearly annihilated the planet, but reality was rewritten by two supercomputers. These computers created the gods and demons that haunt the populace. The demons, in fact, are anthropomorphized radioactive clouds that sicken and poison anyone who gets near them.

Cold war paranoia with a fantasy twist!

Anyway, all of this added up to what is probably my favorite fantasy series. I’d love to go back and buy the novels, though much of the series is out of print, but what I’d really like is for it to get the Stephen King/Dark Tower treatment– a comic adaptation. The story had a lot of tricks and scenes in it that would work wonderfully in a comic. Just use the Book of Swords trilogy as a backdrop and get right into the Book of Lost Swords stories. There’s plenty of fodder for new stories there, too.

When’s the last time we got a good sword & sorcery book that wasn’t Conan-related, anyway?

I think that this could be an awesome thing and I’d love to see it happen. Not very likely at all, to be quite honest, but hey– them’s the breaks.

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300: Hace apenas seis años…

March 12th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Too long, didn’t read version: 300 was a pretty rocking movie, but I still like the book better.

Short story long version:
I think that I may have mentioned this here before, but Frank Miller got me back into comics five or so years back. I usually attribute it to the Daredevil Visionaries and Dark Knight Strikes Again, but I’d totally forgotten that I’d read a different Frank Miller book a year or two before I’d read those.

This would’ve been back when I was in Madrid. Me, my mom, and little brother were at Hipercor, Supercor, or whatever the crap our local grocer was called. I was in the arts & crafts/books section (it was kind of jumbled) and I saw a book there. It looked familiar, and I realized it was by the Sin City guy! I probably begged Mom to buy it for me so I could read it.

It was the Norma Editorial edition of 300 and it was completely in Spanish.

That book is probably why I still remember so much Spanish nowadays. I’ve easily read that book a dozen, maybe a couple dozen, times. More than any other comic I own. I now own it in English and Spanish, but I remember all the good lines in Spanish. “Stumblios” is “Storpios,” “Barely a year ago” is “Hace apenas un año,” that sort of thing.

I’m just trying to set the stage here. I’m a big fan of the book, and though I haven’t read it in a while, I’ve read it enough that I basically have a lot of it memorized, which probably colored my opinion of this movie.

I’ll sling this behind a cut, since there’ll probably be some (fairly light) spoilers.
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4thletter is… dead characters. (Blue Beetle Talk)

December 31st, 2006 Posted by david brothers

Sorry, just a bit of sarcasm there. Seriously guys, I know you love Hawkeye/Beetle/Spoiler/The Aquarian/New Warriors/JLI, but no one actually has a vendetta against these characters. Do you know why companies kill them? They kill them because you love them. They know that every character, from Skin to Ronnie Raymond to Doug Ramsey to Bill Foster, is someone’s favorite, except Wyatt Wingfoot, of course. This is especially true on the internet. Killing a character, or hinting that you will kill one, is a surefire sales and word-of-mouth bump. That’s why they do it. They’ll get a rise out of you each and every time.

It’s okay to be upset, but not to the point that you’re throwing out ad hominems and death threats at writers.

Just… be real about it. It’s just comics, dog, it’s not that serious. It sucks, yeah, but that’s life, right? It’s cool to come up with scenarios to bring them back to life or critique why they died, just have some perspective.

Anyway, Blue Beetle.

Like a lot of the DCU, I first encountered Ted Kord in the pages of the Death of Superman. He, along with Booster Gold, were part of the JL(A?) that went up against Doomsday before Superman. I had no idea that those two were the jokey-jokesters that they apparently were in JLI. I thought that they were just two heroes with cool costumes, but that’s possibly because I’ve always thought of goggles as being kind of cool. (Don’t tell anyone I told you that.) Plus, geez, they went up against the guy who killed Superman!

I thought that Blue Beetle was pretty cool, and then promptly forgot about him and the rest of that Justice League until probably about the time that Formerly Known as the Justice League hit. That was good stuff, so I became a mild fan. Countdown hit after a while and bam, Beetle was dead.

And the internet knew the sound of a billion angry keyboards, epithets and incensed forum posts a-typing.

I thought that the Beetle parts of Countdown, save for the bits where Bats and J’onn were jerks to him, did a good job of showing that he was a hero. I particularly liked the bit where Beetle realized that he had a choice between doing wrong and living or remaining a hero and dying.

“My name is Ted Kord. I am the second man to call himself the Blue Beetle. I tell myself there will be a third. And I hope whoever he or she may be, they do better at it than I have.”

He realizes that he can’t stop what’s happening, not even remotely. Lord’s plan is going to take effect, and it’s “Join me or die time.” Beetle’s response?

“Rot in Hell, Max.”

That, lads and ladies, is a true hero. Defiant to the end and ready to spit in a villain’s face.

He was right about there being a new Beetle, too.

The new Beetle is Jaime Reyes. (It’s not Jay-me, by the way. It’s pronounced more like High-may. Sorry, I’m a stickler for Spanish.) He’s the brainchild of Keith Giffen, John Rogers, and Cully Hamner. He’s from El Paso, Texas, and got the Scarab that gave Dan Garret, the first Beetle, his powers.

I really, really like Jaime. He’s quite a believable teenager, thanks in no small part to some smart dialogue from the writers. Jaime was missing for a year thanks to the events of Infinite Crisis, unbeknownst to him. While he was gone, his family came apart. His father was shot, but not killed, and his mother turned into a wreck. When he got back, the very first thing he did was reveal his powers to his understandably freaked-out family.

Yes. That is excellent and it was so nice to see. Jaime is still a teenager, still in high school. He isn’t super smart, or agile, or whatever. Shoot, he doesn’t even know how to fight. But, he understands that family is one of the most important things in a person’s life. He trusts them enough to give them his secret. His best friends, too.

After that, Jaime is almost a traditional Marvel hero. He’s inexperienced, flawed, and honestly, he doesn’t even want to be a hero. He didn’t ask for this, and he definitely didn’t ask for the JLA to take him into space and leave him there. He’s been dealt a raw deal, but he’s going to deal with it as best he can.

I like Jaime. I think that he’s a worthy successor and his book is a lot of fun. It sucks that Ted had to die to make way for him, but that’s comics. You can either embrace the illusion of change and hold onto your favorite characters until they stagnate, or you can embrace actual change and watch your favorite characters grow old, die, retire, or whatever, only to be replaced by new and improved versions or, heaven forbid, actually new characters!

It’s just comics, baby. Love them or leave them. Bad stories are a given in any medium. Whether it’s War Games or Onslaught, something out there is going to rub you the wrong way. Enjoy the good stories, ignore the rest. Just don’t be afraid to try something new.

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Like unto a thing of iron…

December 29th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

The new banners are in effect! We’ve got around 53 in rotation right now. New ones, old ones, ones with NFL Superpro in them. I like the new look and the logo is clean.

Let me review a couple things before I get into the meat of it, though.

Black Panther 23: This book has gotten better and better thanks in no small part to Civil War. One problem: Koi Turnbull’s art is completely inappropriate for the book. He reminds me a lot of Larry Stroman, from old school X-Factor and Tribes, I think it was called. The characters are big and chunky in general, and Panther in the sewer? I thought it was a new character. The surprise Soviet guest star had a cool scene with some interesting storytelling, but the storytelling in the rest of the book was just kind of soso, particularly in the last confrontation between Panther and an old friend. It’s decent, not good, solely due to iffy art.

Loveless 14: Obviously, I’m an Azz fan and this book is staying true to form. Daniel Zezelj provides appropriately moody art as we find out exactly why Ruth and Wes hates Blackwater so much. It is extremely harsh and pretty chilling.
The Union army, after raping Ruth, drag her into the city and talk trash. The top dog humiliates her in the city square and not one person lifts a finger, though they’re all watching. That’s heinous.
Azz is playing with time on this one, too. It takes place during July 17, 15, and 10, with July 10 featuring a not-so-surprise in terms of a death. The requisite flashback also pulls the present day (or past day, rather) person looking at their own past. it’s a technique I like quite a bit. One thing that’s certain is that Blackwater and her citizens deserve the hell that’s coming. Harsh book, but earns its A.

Okay. This next bit isn’t quite a review, more like a ramble.

I like Iron Fist. I like Luke Cage. I like Iron Fist and Luke Cage because it’s a merge of two of my favorite genres of film: blaxploitation and kung fu. The Heroes for Hire is one of my favorite duos and a great gimmick, I think. The slumming rich kid and the slum kid who wants to get rich.

The Immortal Iron Fist captures what I love about the duo and makes it work. The series gets better with its second issue as we get another glimpse of an old Iron Fist protecting what’s hers, the Iron Fist from the previous issue using the Fist in a new and intriguing way (these are not the droids you are looking for), and some wonderful Heroes for Hire interplay. Also, John Severin (yes!) does art on a wonderful flashback with tremendous payoff.

The idea of an Iron Fist lineage is one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?!” ideas. It’s so blindingly obvious and perfect that you cannot help but wonder why no one has done it before. A big part of kung fu movies (and actual kung fu, I assume) is passing down what you know. Kung fu is your techniques, your style, and your heritage. Having there be previous Iron Fists gives Danny Rand something to both live up to and pass on.

(This, of course, means that when I get a job writing for Marvel in the future, I’m going to have Danielle Knight, prodigal daughter of Danny and Misty, take up the Iron Fist in a rocking adventure across the United States to reclaim her heritage.)

The best part of this is that, if Marvel is feeling really brave, we can get an Iron Fist miniseries or one-shot about one of these old Iron Fists, be it about Wu Ao-Shi, the Iron Fist of 1545 or whoever. Please Marvel!

Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker are doing a ridiculous job with this book, and David Aja’s art is top notch. Very moody and it really fits. He does dopey Danny Rand (Helllloooo Nurse!) just as well as he does fight scenes, especially the aftermath of Randall’s scene. Danny’s father issues sound quite interesting, too.

Best new Marvel book in ages, I think. Brubaker is hitting on all cylinders with Daredevil, Criminal, and Cap, while Fraction is rocking the house with Casanova and Punisher War Journal. Two great tastes that go well together.

Oh, and Mike Carey and Humberto Ramos on X-Men is as smooth as butter. Lovely issue, lovely art.

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Ruining the Moment: Volume 1

December 25th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

It’s Christmas time and 4th Letter is in the spirit!


Over a year ago, a class act by the name of Chinaman7000 created a very special thread at the Something Awful sub-forum Batman’s Shameful Secret. Called “Let’s Ruin the Moment”, people would take an impacting moment or scene from comic history and meddle with it. You would see Ultimate Mr. Sinister shoving a content Ultimate Xavier down a wheelchair ramp or Tomorrow Woman’s dying words to Superman being about how much she saved with Geico. It’s very fun and at times incredibly funny.

I’ve made a lot of images for those threads (the first thread got too long) over the past year and two months. When I started, I didn’t have any decent image-manipulation programs, so I had to deal with MS Paint. It was a disaster. Then I got Paint Shop Pro. That was also a disaster. But eventually, my understanding of the program got better and I still use it today. I could get Photoshop like any other good citizen, but I have a strong case of Stockholm syndrome.

Because there are 4L readers here who haven’t paid the $10 to be part of the Something Awful forums, I decided that from time to time, I’d post a batch of these. At least mine and any that are made by people associated with me (like hermanos). I don’t want to be yelled at by anyone for Ebauming their images, but if anyone wants me to showcase their work, just give me a ring.

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