And keep them heels off my whitewalls, girl, dang!

December 28th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Check out this cover by Jim Rugg.


Dope, right? Jim Rugg is crazy talented. He has a comics set on Flickr, so go and look at more of his pieces there.

And tune in this time next week for something special. Gonna kick off 2010 with a bang.

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November 30th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I keep buying one issue of Green Arrow and Black Canary and then dropping the book for the next few issues, and then picking it up again.

I have a fondness for Ollie.  I like Mia.  I liked Dinah better in Birds of Prey, but, what the hell.  You take what you can get.  And of course I like Roy, who is like Ollie but not quite as much of a jackass, except to Nightwing, who seems to bring out his jackassery.

But the book has been nothing but misery and more misery for years on end, now.  I want to see a happy superhero team having fun in Star City and it’s less and less likely that that’s ever going to happen.  And don’t even get me started on Cry for Justice.

Are there any books out there that you waffle on?  What makes you drop them?  What makes you pick them up again?

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What Would Save The Pretty Birds?

December 15th, 2008 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I try not to read internet rumors.  Most of the time they just get me riled about something dreamed up by someone on a message board.  Unfortunately, this means that sometimes I get bad news in public places.  That can be unpleasant.  A few weeks ago in a comics shop, some friends told me that Birds of Prey was getting cancelled.  I won’t get into details, but there was loud wailing involved.  Loud, sustained wailing.

I’ve written about how the Wonder Woman mythos doesn’t do much for me.  Birds of Prey was my version of Amazon Island.  Up until Canary left, it was a long-preserved team.  It was all-girl, all bad-ass, all the time.  Since it was not one of the hottest-selling books it was a sheltered island, out of the way of the major continuity events, where some of the lesser known female characters could thrive.

Yes, I know that there is going to be an Oracle mini-series, and while Barbara Gordon is one of my top five characters of all time, I’m going to miss the rest of the Birds.  Canary was at her best with a team that she could have fun with, not fight with or mother.  Huntress was an awkward fit everywhere else in the DCU, too independent to be one of the bats, too bat-oriented to get away from them.  In Birds of Prey she got a chance to shine, and take control.  And of course there’s Zinda, who is one of the most fun characters in the DCU.  There’s Manhunter, who had her own book cancelled recently.  Even Misfit was growing on me.

When a favorite character of mine loses a book, I always wonder if I’ll see them again.  Being too unpopular for a book, but just popular enough to be noticed, is often a recipe for death when big events come up.  I feel like Daniel Day-Lewis in Last of the Mohicans.  “Stay alive, no matter what occurs!  I will find you!”

I also mourned the end of The Blue Beetle, but at least I know that Jaime will be preserved in Teen Titans.  Also, I think that, as stages of grief go, I am still firmly routed in ‘denial.’  Jaime will come back.  I know this.  He must.

Birds of Prey has catapulted me into ‘bargaining.’  What would it take to get the Birds back.  How would it be possible to drive up readership?  Let me rephrase that.  How would it be possible to drive up readership besides having a Babs, Dinah, and Helena three-way in each book?  (Yeah, I’ve seen that fanart.)

As the saying goes, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  What I have is a steadfast love of comics that are light, fun, and just a little nutzo.  My ideal Birds book would be a cross between the early Indiana Jones movies and Bruce Lee on pixie stix.  Three-to-five issue arcs, each one being a separate adventure.  Fast, fun, and ass-kicking.  I’d like constant wisecracks, mild indignity, ninja stuff, at least two issues in which people run to get out of the way of giant boulders, and Misfit as Short Round.  That’s Short Round, not Mutt.  Sorry, Shia.

I think the book was doing best with its four core characters; Babs, Helena, Dinah, and Zinda.  As said before, Misfit could be Short Round.  And, of course, since Indy got a new girl every movie, there could be a rotating spot for the last member to keep things fresh.

But hell, I’d favor an eighteen-person team in a somber, noirish book comprised of thirty-issue all-event storyarcs if I thought I’d be getting my Birds back.

What would you hope for in a Birds book?

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Nocking A New Arrow

December 10th, 2008 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Tonight marks the release of the first Green Arrow since 2001 that has not had Judd Winick as an ongoing writer. So naturally, I was curious to see what direction the series would take.

It was interesting. I was hoping that Green Arrow and Black Canary would turn a little lighter and happier. The Arrows seem like the JSA to the Batclan’s JLA; based on the same concept, but allowed to be goofy. It doesn’t look like they will be using that goofiness in the upcoming story, but the writer, Andrew Kreisberg, seems to have a good sense of the characters and fits their natural humor into the story.

The one thing that bothered me about the issue was the massive seven-page flashback of all of Olliver Queen’s continuity. It is narrated well, sustaining the theme of the storyline; ‘A second can change your life.’ I can see why it was put in. The cover of the issue features the phrase: “A New Era Begins”. The author is essentially acting as if this is the first issue that the reader had picked up.

The trouble is, it isn’t the first issue that any reader has picked up. If you are flipping through Green Arrow and Black Canary #15, the odds are vanishingly small that you are unfamiliar with the characters. Not only that, but the flashbacks have been coming hard and heavy in this series. Green Arrow: Year One wasn’t that long ago. Then there were the flashbacks in the Black Canary mini-series, the flashbacks in and around the wedding, the flashbacks when Ollie was missing, Ollie’s re-hashing of his relationship with Connor when Connor was in a coma. There was even a thorough discussion of the history of Black Canary and Green Arrow in Birds of Prey.

So taking seven pages out of a story to recap it all again feels like being next to a drunk guy at a party who’s telling a fantastic story about a wild night he had with a friend. Trouble is, he’s so drunk that he forgot that you’re the friend. You kind of want to shake him a little and say, “Dude. I know. I was there.”

Despite this, it’s worth picking up for the sting at the end, and the fun family meeting in the middle. We’ll see how it develops next month.

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Why Dick Grayson Should Go Ahead And Marry Barbara Gordon, Peter Parker Should Re-Marry Mary Jane, and Dinah Lance Was Right To Marry Oliver Queen

November 20th, 2008 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Because they can’t marry anyone else.

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Test Your Speculation

June 6th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

I’ve joked about the upcoming Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe game a lot and I don’t expect it to be an especially good game, but at the same time, I’m drawn to the lead-up. As a crossover, it’s such a unique concept that I can’t help but wonder about the final product. In other words, at the moment, I’m enthralled by the speculation.

As of now, only four characters have been revealed: Superman, Batman, Sub-Zero and Scorpion. Series bigwig Ed Boon said that there will be 20-22 characters on the game’s roster. On one hand, I get that this is because the game has a brand new engine working for it. On the other hand, it doesn’t bring in the fun factor that comes with the obscure characters.

Capcom’s crossover games initially had the same problem, which is why the sequels had more going for them. With the foundation in place, the creators got to move outward and be more creative with the character spots. That’s when we got guys like Marrow, Tron Bonne and Chang Koehan. So if there is a sequel to this game, only then will we get Noob Saibot vs. The Shade or Moloch vs. The Shaggy Man. Myself, I’m all for Stryker vs. Azrael in the battle of who fanboys hate the most.

For the fun of speculation, I’m trying to make some educated guesses on who will be in the game. The low character count helps. The need to include the more marquee characters from both sides helps too. Boon also mentioned that each character pairs into a rivalry with the crossover counterpart.

That means you have to figure out first who Midway wants to put in the forefront. That means most of the MK1 cast and a handful of the other more memorable fighters. Then you mix and match while making sure to stick in all the well-known DC heroes. To be optimistic, let’s say that there are 11 characters on each side.

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Beating Dead Horses

November 15th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

The sum total of Speedy’s characterization in Green Arrow/Black Canary #2 amounts to “HEY I GOT AIDS PLUS I USED TO BE A HOOKER YOU GOTTA PROBLEM WITH THAT HUH DO YA?!”

Judd Winick? He’s Chris Claremont 2.0. I can’t think of a single reason to read his books, and I love Cliff Chiang.

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Baby, why you gotta hurt me like that?

September 7th, 2007 Posted by Hoatzin

From the Black Canary Wedding Planner:


Is this supposed to be cute, playful ribbing?


How about now?

Why are these two getting together again?

I’m still alive, by the way, just neglecting my writing duties like an asshole. I have something in the works, though!

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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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It’s a thin line…

January 29th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

It is Hal Jordan Appreciation week. In honor of HJAW…


I got nothing. Moving right along–

I love 100 Bullets. You all know this already, right? I’m confident that I can prove that it is the finest piece of comic literature amongst a field filled with self-absorbed people whining about their life and tights’n’fights.

Here’s the long and short of 100 Bullets: The Trust are the scary behind the scenes people that are usually referred to as “they.” They are obscenely rich and outside of the law without being outlaws. The Minutemen were a group of men who protected The Trust from threats both foreign and internal. If a member of The Trust moved against another, the Minutemen would handle it decisively. A few years back, The Trust tired of this and had the Minutemen eliminated in Atlantic City… or so they thought. Agent Graves, leader of the Minutemen, faked their deaths and dropped them into new lives through hypnotism. Now, he’s reactivating his army and appears to be in the process of taking careful revenge on The Trust.

One of my favorite characters in 100 Bullets is Isabelle “Dizzy” Cordova. A reformed gang member whose husband and son were murdered while she was in prison, Dizzy is both one of the reader’s many POV characters and a moral center for the series.

Graves approached her with a briefcase and revealed that two policemen were responsibile for the death of her new family. The briefcase held a pistol and 100 bullets, both of which were completely untraceable. They were “magic bullets,” and any police investigation that involved them would be canceled and wiped away clean. It was a license to kill.

100_bullets_n3-p03.jpgBy the end of that arc, it was clear that Dizzy was destined for greater things. She’s appeared throughout the series and you can see a clear progression from broken-hearted girl to grown woman. She’s still young, though quite some time has passed since she first crossed paths with Graves, or rather, since Graves began grooming her for his purposes.

You see, Dizzy is “The Girl,” and she is slated to become one of the new, post-Atlantic City Minutemen. Even more so than the others, Dizzy is slated to be a check within the group itself, as she has been given both a reason (or two!) and the training to kill Agent Graves if and when the time comes.

Time will tell how she ends up, but as-is, she’s easily my favorite female comics character. She’s got heart, she’s got character, and she’s awesome. She’s had an interesting character arc, too. She’s gone from ex-con with a death wish to a person with a fierce wish to live.

Early in the series, she’s told that she had every right to kill a man. She would have gotten away with it. “Well,” she responds, “that don’ make it right, knowhumsayin’?”

That’s Dizzy.

I have trouble with Green Arrow. Ollie Queen has only had a handful of stories that ever really interested me, and even then only slightly. It doesn’t help that the past few years of his book have been not to my taste at all. Longbow Hunters was good, and I’ve been meaning to read Grell’s run on the character because of it. It might help me “get” Ollie.

I think it boils down to his character. He’s this super lefty, hero of and to the people type of guy. He’s that annoying, loudmouth, brash guy who I don’t think anyone likes. He’d be positively frustrating to hang out with. I dig Black Canary, but I have no idea what she sees/saw in him.

Plus, there’s this kind of thing.


So, in short, Ollie Queen is an annoying slimeball with a stupid mustache. I realize that this is a plot point in Justice League Elite, but I don’t see it being even remotely out of character for Ollie. Shoot, one of his character traits is “unfaithful.”

Also, Hawkeye has the same gimmick but is at least fifteen times as cool, Connor Hawke is more interesting, and Oliver Queen having a win against Prometheus is ridiculous. I actually like Mark Millar’s Ultimate Hawkeye more than I like Oliver Queen. Hate may be too strong a word, but I definitely am not an Ollie fan.

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