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Comic-con Stuff

February 22nd, 2007 Posted by david brothers

The 4l crew (myself, Gavin, and Wilde) are hitting the NY Comic-con this weekend. If you want to meet up, send your info to 4thletter@gmail.com!

I get in Thursday afternoon, with the other two arriving Thursday evening. We’ll see how this goes, hey?

Anyway, I figured that I want to get a few trades signed while I’m there. Here’s what I’m packing and who I want to sign it.

Annihilation Vol 1 HC – Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Keith Giffen
Seven Soldiers Vol 1-4 – Everyone
Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill – Oeming
Thor Visionaries Vol 1: Walt Simonson
Wildcats 3.0 vol 1 – Dustin Nguyen
Echo: Vision Quest – David Mack
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies – Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines

I’m also taking my DS and a few novels for the trip. The Death And Life Of Superman by Roger Stern (I wonder if I can get that signed?), Green Lantern Sleeper Book One by Christopher Priest, Black Girl Lost by Donald Goines (not comics), No Dominion by Charlie Huston (not comics), and maybe one or two others. I do not know yet!

We shall see how this goes. Blogging may be light, depending on internet access.

Is there anything that we absolutely have to hit? This is my first con, so I kind of want to see all the cool stuff I can. I think we’re meeting up with some goons, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll make the PopCultureShock party on Saturday night. I want to pack my schedule and hang out with cool cats.

Anyone else attending?

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Guest Words: Civil War Revamped

February 21st, 2007 Posted by david brothers

My infinitely patient buddy Mark Poa sent me an email all the way from the Philippines about a guest article on Civil War. He points out quite a few things that Marvel could have, and should have, done differently. Check it out below!

My friend asked me: “I remember you saying in an LJ post that you were on the side of Tony Stark in Civil War. Fair enough, I think that some sort of regulation is probably required in the case of superhumans, myself. But the burning question is, how do you think this should work? The way Tony’s been doing things is certainly not the best.

Ah, I do so love comic book type hypothesis.

Why is Superhero registration necessary?
1. People with superpowers are similar to special skills. CPAs, lawyers, doctors, and other professionals are registered so that their skills can be monitored and standards could be set for their use. I see superheroes as going through this route… registering as professional superheroes.
2. Registering would mean having standards. Training, education, special tests… all to ensure that activities would be regulated and that special provisions can be made for the use of special skills.
3. It’s a failsafe in case a superhuman goes rogue. Real names are registered

What did Iron Man and the pro-regs do wrong in Civil War?
1. Antagonize Captain America. Really, between Iron Man, Antman and Mr. Fantastic vs. Captain Freaking America… I know where the heavier symbol is.
2. Make it seem like registering would mean revealing your identity… and actually forcing Peter Parker to reveal his identity. Bad move in terms of getting other heroes to join.
3. Forcing heroes to register. Which inevitably turned it into an Us vs. Them thing.

How would I approach it better?
1. Convince Captain America to support the move from the start. Address his concerns. No forcing of registrants? Check. No drafting of heroes into S.H.I.E.L.D .? Check. Get him as a spokesman. Pronto!

2. I liked She-Hulk’s Dan Slott’s attempt to explain this by having She-Hulk say that no one is forced to reveal their identity to anyone except S.H.I.E.L.D. It sounds logical. No one but your fellow heroes would have to know your identity. Also, there should be measures to address fear that the database of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be hacked. I don’t know… keep all the information in Aaron “Machine Man” Stack or something? Just assure the registering heroes that their identities would be kept safe.

On a tangent… Not that secret identities mean much in Marvel anyway. The only hero I think that had a pretty intact and decent secret identity was Spider-man and look what happened. :P

3. Highlight the benefits of registration rather than forcing people to register. Registering would mean special status in society? Okay! Special training? Okay! Clearance from police agencies and access to the S.H.I.E.L.D. resources and labs? Okay! Get them special tax privileges in exchange for registering and following the rules? Right on!

That’s how I see it anyway. Sadly, I think the Marvel U’s level of distrust would prevent formulating any kind of “win-win” situation.

What do you think, sirs?

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Real Talk: Supreme Power’s Nighthawk

February 17th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Let me tell you a story.

This had to have been back when I was in the fifth grade, in Mrs Washington’s class. There’s this program called DARE, Drug Abuse Resistance Education. Basically, they explain to you that you should narc on your friends if you catch them with drugs and that if you try weed just one time you’ll immediately find yourself toothless, hooked on crack, in prison, insane, and stupid.

From Wikipedia:

The U.S. Department of Education concluded in 2003 that the DARE program is ineffective and now prohibits its funds from being used to support it.[5] The U.S. Surgeon General’s office, the National Academy of Sciences,[5] and the Government Accounting Office also concluded that the program is sometimes counterproductive in some populations, with those who graduate from DARE later having higher rates of drug use. Studies by Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum [6], and by the California Legislative Analyst’s office [7] found that DARE graduates were more likely than others to drink alcohol, smoke tobacco and use illegal drugs.

Sorry, the mean-spiritedness is just deafening sometimes. I’ll do better, I promise.

Anyway, our DARE officer was a cop we called Officer Wood. At some point during the class, I ended up asking him a question about the Black Panthers. I wasn’t quite as “conscious” back then as I am now, but I knew a little bit about a little something. I even used to have one of those leather Africa medallions. I know that some of you folks know what I’m talking about. I was curious as to what Wood would say.

“The Black Panthers were worse than the Klan,” he told me.

That’s stuck with me in the years since then. He’s practically taken on bogeyman status in my head. I realized that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, you should keep your mouth shut. Arguing from a position of ignorance makes you an idiot, and no one likes idiots. If you want to speak, you’d better know first.

Other than that, though, I realized how perception informs things. I doubt that Officer Wood knew what he was saying. The Panthers, like Malcolm X, have been villainized in the years since they were active. They weren’t about killing white people, or even hating them. They were “The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense” and were an anti-police brutality group. They weren’t angels, granted, but they weren’t the frigging Klan, either. To Officer Wood, though, they were.

This brings me to Nighthawk, from J Michael Stracyzinski’s Supreme Power. Supreme Power sometimes feels like kind of a retread of JMS’s other series, Rising Stars, at times, but it remains one of his better works.

Nighthawk, though. Hm. Problematic.
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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 20

November 12th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Well, it’s been four months of lead-up. When the first part of the countdown came out, Lynxara asked about why I’d do a top 100 list for a series of books that only have 175 issues. Especially when I count two-parters as one entry. Truth be told, this isn’t like ranking the best issues of Nightwing or Mighty Thor. Most comic series have cohesion and you usually have an idea of what to expect in each issue. Writers, artists and story remain the same for months and sometimes years at a time.

What If, on the other hand, is different. What If is the ultimate comic book box of chocolates. Writers, artists, stories, ideas and tones change from issue to issue. Many stories are good. Many are bad. But almost every one of them is interesting in its own way. I could have easily have done a top 20 or top 50 list and be done long ago, but there’s too much fun we’d be missing out on. No jive-talking Incredible Hulk, or Matt Murdock crying over Wilson Fisk’s death bed, or Kraven the Hunter eating Peter Parker’s face.

Now let’s get in our Quinjet and take us down to #1.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 19

November 8th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Jesus, we’re actually at the top ten. And some of you haven’t even lost interest yet. I’m proud.

What If: Avengers Disassembled came out the other day. You might be wondering if I would have placed it on this list if it came out several months back. The answer is no. No, I can’t really get behind an issue that tries to retcon a major story into something that makes even less sense. Having written this paragraph, I realize the John Byrne jokes write themselves.

Before I start this, one more call for anyone interested in drawing fake covers for the countdown finale. Come on, you know you want to.

10) WHAT IF THE FANTASTIC FOUR’S SECOND CHILD HAD LIVED?

Issue: Volume 2, #30
Writer: Jim Valentino, Ron Marz
Artist: Dale Eaglesham, Rurik Tyler
Spider-Man death: No
Background: In-between having Franklin and Valeria, there was another time Sue was pregnant with Reed’s kid. Unfortunately, there were radiation-related complications due to the team’s recent venture into the Negative Zone. Reed went to Doctor Otto Octavius – supervillain Doc Ock and the biggest expert on radiation – for help. Ock went berserk for a bit and the two had it out on the rooftops of New York City. Reed calmed Ock down and he agreed to help out. Unfortunately, they were half an hour late. Sue had a miscarriage. So let’s say Ock didn’t freak out and made it just in time? We have two stories here on two different sides of the spectrum.

The first story is best described as a horror story. Franklin wakes up from a horrible vision of the future where his father is dead. His parents just think he had a simple nightmare and leave it at that, but Franklin already knows that there’s a monster living inside his mother. Over time, Sue’s pregnancy takes a horrible toll on her. She gets weaker by the day and almost skeletal, soon losing her invisibility powers. When she gives birth to her child, she dies in the process. Reed names the baby Sue in order to deal with the loss of his wife.

As experience has taught us throughout this countdown, this isn’t going to end well at all.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 16

October 10th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

The What If issue where Storm became the Phoenix was a piece of crap, but I still respect it for one reason. It’s the only What If appearance I can recall of this guy:

Though considering his series started around the same time What If ended, it’s not so surprising.

25) WHAT IF THE NEW FANTASTIC FOUR HAD REMAINED A TEAM?

Issue: Volume 2, #78
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Enrique Alcatena
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Early in the 90’s, a fake Invisible Woman convinced Spider-Man, Wolverine, The Hulk and Ghost Rider that the Fantastic Four had died and that they needed to fill in for a bit. This led to a story involving Skrulls, monsters and Moleman that ended with the revelation that the real Fantastic Four were really alive. The fake Invisible Woman, a Skrull with limited psychic powers, tried to blast the Fantastic Four with some kind of power ring, but nothing happened. Reed had stolen the ring before she could use it. In this reality, the Skrull lady fires a second before Reed can successfully make the steal.

We begin with Wolverine, Spider-Man and Hulk mourning at the funeral and discussing how badly they screwed up. Ghost Rider appears (which Logan appreciates, since he needs to light his cigar) and says that the loss of the Fantastic Four creates a void. They should stay a team and try and fill that void in order to redeem their failure.

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4thletter is for… David Mack

October 1st, 2006 Posted by david brothers

A quickie!

David Mack, (very informative site here), is one of my most favorite creators. Kabuki: The Alchemy is hands down the best comic Marvel puts out and the second best comic being published after my beloved 100 Bullets. His Echo – Vision Quest arc on Daredevil was a high point for the series and for Wolverine in particular.

What I’m trying to say is that David Mack is the man and you would do well to read his works. If anything, pick up the first few issues of The Alchemy. They’re well worth your time and I guess are “deep” comics if you want your pretentious comic artsnob card.

I prefer to call them “good” comics, myself. Mack has a lot of interesting things to say about life and living. Check it out. Also his first name is awesome and that practically makes us brothers (see what i did there?).

(I kind of feel like I’m doing Mack a disservice by not mentioning the art on Kabuki or Echo, but, crap, man. I don’t think I could do him justice. His stuff just works and it all goes toward servicing the story. There is a reason why Kabuki forms her thoughts as a children’s book in a recent issue, and it isn’t because she’s writing one. It’s because children’s books are meant to teach.)

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