The Man With the Giveaway Face

April 5th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

The Outfit is the latest volume of Darwyn Cooke’s ongoing adaptation of Donald Westlake/Richard Stark’s series of books starring Parker. Last year’s The Hunter made most of the Best Of lists. We did a podcast on it, I reviewed it, and Tucker Stone tells you exactly why you should read it. If you haven’t read it… get with it, mayne, it’s only sixteen bucks. Skip the Siege and Brightest Day tie-ins, they’ll be there when you get back.

The Man With the Getaway Face is a prelude to The Outfit. It’s the first chapter of the novel, a story complete unto itself, and is a great lead-in to what’s sure to be a great work. Westlake and Cooke are masters at what they do and IDW knows how to package a book. October feels far away, but Cooke’s adaptation of The Man With the Getaway Face has me convinced that The Outfit will be just as good, if not better, than The Hunter.

Here’s an excerpt from The Outfit, which is one of my most favorite bits of writing. You can see this scene with Robert Duvall in the Parker role, playing a man named Macklin, in 1973’s The Outfit, but I think the book still wins out for sheer poetry.

The receptionist knew that no one was supposed to come behind the desk. If anyone tried to without permission, she was to push the button on the floor under her desk. But this time she didn’t even think of the button. She reached, instead, for the package. Suddenly, the mailman grabbed her wrist, yanked her from the chair, and hurled her into a corner. She landed heavily on her side, knocking her head against the wall. When she looked up dazed, the mailman had an automatic trained on her. “Can you scream louder than this gun?” he said in a low voice.

She stared at the gun. She couldn’t have screamed if she’d wanted to. She couldn’t even breathe.

The outer door opened and the four men came in, two carrying shotguns, and two machine guns. The girl couldn’t believe it, it was like something in the movies. Gangsters carried machine guns back in 1930. There was no such thing as a machine gun in real life. Machine guns and Walt Disney mice, all make-believe.

The mailman put his gun away under his coat, and removed the mailbag from his shoulder. He took cord from the mail sack and tied the receptionist’s hands and feet. She gaped at him unbelievingly as he tightened the knots. They were in the wrong office, she thought. It might be a television show shooting scenes on location, they must have wanted the office next door and these men had come into the wrong place. It must be a mistake.

The mailman gagged her with a spare handkerchief as one of the other men brought the two musical instrument cases and two briefcases in from the outside hall. The mailman took the briefcases. The men with the machine guns led the way. They all walked down the inner hall and stopped at the door next to the book-keeping room. The mailman opened the door, and all five of them boiled into the room.

This was the room where the alarm buzzer would have rung if the receptionist had remembered to ring it. Four men in brown uniforms wearing pistols and Sam Browne belts, were sitting at a table playing poker. They jumped up when the door burst open, then they all froze. They believed in machine guns.

The Man With the Getaway Face is the only look you’ll get at The Outfit until its release in October.

Except… I have two extra copies of the The Man With the Getaway Face oversized preview. So, who wants them? Who is ready to work for them? Here are the terms. You need to give me answers to one of the three prompts below this paragraph. Use your real name when you answer, not your pseudonym. Make sure your email address is legit, too. And please be from the United States– overseas shipping is pricey.

1) What is your favorite scene from a book Darwyn Cooke drew, wrote, or created on his own? Why is it your favorite?
2) What is your favorite scene from a crime comic, movie, or novel, and why? Make sure to tell me the title, author, and actors involved, depending on the medium.
3) Tell me why you liked The Hunter.

Sound good? Hit the comments, let’s get it going.

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Marvel: The Expanding Universe Wall Chart (& Contest!)

September 22nd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

MarvelFolderSuperhero comics encourage obsessiveness. I know you know it. Don’t pretend that it doesn’t. Paying attention to continuity, untangling the quagmire of a character’s past, and following all of the news and trivia of a company is something we’ve gotten pretty good mileage of here on 4l!, even.

And I mean, I make fun of it all the time, but it’s also pretty interesting. It’s kind of like solving a puzzle. A puzzle with several dozen pieces that all have the same shape, so putting it together is an event. The companies even encourage this with their crossovers and events.

Rizzoli USA, the folks who published Louise Simonson’s DC Comics Covergirls (a book I’ve wanted to read forever but haven’t gotten my hands on) sent over something pretty interesting last week. Marvel: The Expanding Universe Wall Chart is pretty much the perfect thing for a new reader or an old reader looking to pick up some new tricks. First, check out the size of the thing:


That’s twelve feet long by three feet tall. It’s enormous. Essentially, the Marvel Wall Chart is an expanding poster book, accordian style. As you pull it open, and it keeps opening and opening, it reveals more and more Marvel characters, all of which are sorted into “families.” The design emulates an atom, the thing that is at the heart of so many Marvel origins, and each atom features one major character as its nucleus. The Torch anchors the Golden Age and pre-Marvel characters, Spider-Man is at the center of his family, the FF take care of many other heroes and cosmic Marvel, the X-Men revolve around Professor X, and Dr Strange takes care of the magical characters.

Now, that’s all well and good, but images only go so far, right? On the flipside of the chart is a continuity wonk’s dream: pages and pages of info on your favorite characters. They’re sorted by theme, rather than character, so you can see things about teams, kid heroes, origins, names, and so on. There’s even a bit on marriages. I uploaded a flickr set with a few G1 shots of them so that you can see what I mean.

It’s all pretty neat, to be honest. It’s a little tongue in cheek (Hellcat and Hellstorm’s marriage contains the blurb “presumably this ceremony was not held in a church”), and Patsy Walker gets a lot of love, surprisingly. I like it.

Now, here’s the thing that should interest you. I’ve got an extra one of these, new in box/mint condition/still in the wrapper, which means that it’s contest slash giveaway time. Here’s the details:

1. Share your favorite bit of Marvel or DC trivia or continuity porn down in the comments
2. Leave a valid email address in the email box
3. In the name box, put your real name. First name, last name, both names, whichever you prefer. Just no pseudonyms.
4. You have until midnight, this Friday, to enter. I’ll put a reminder post up on Thursday in case you forget to enter.
5. Also, this is open only to US residents. If you want to share trivia, and you’re from Uzbekistan or somewhere, you can, but please mark that down in your comment.
5. Wait until Monday, when I announce the winner and ship them a big fat chunk of Marvel history.

Sound good? Let’s get it in. Show me what you got.

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Who Wants the Watchmen (Blu-ray)?

July 29th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

This’ll actually be our second Watchmen contest… here goes!

This one is easy. The kind folks at M80 want to give away a copy of Watchmen on Blu-ray. At some point over the past year, probably after I bought a PS3, BR became my favorite way to watch movies. Tons of special features, top notch quality, all that fun stuff that nitpickers love. I assume the Watchmen Blu-ray will be similar.

If you want it, here’s what you’ve gotta do. Leave a comment here with your first name (your actual first name, not your fake first name for the internet) and your favorite Watchmen character. You don’t have to justify it, you just have to name it. I’m going to go through the comments on Friday and randomly pick out a winner. I’ll email you for your address, you’ll send that to me, and then you’ll get a Watchmen Blu-ray in the mail.

A couple notes– US residents only, please! Also, please make sure you own a Blu-ray player. And if you don’t put a valid email address in the comments… I’ll have to pick someone else. So don’t put nospam@nospam.com. We’re not (ever) gonna spam you.

Our Wolverine contest from last week is up, and I’ll be emailing the winners tonight. Watch your mailboxes, and look for a post later this week on the best ones.

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Wolverine Contest, Adam Warren Interview

July 27th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I’m back from the con, barely, and I’ve got some reminders.

The Wolverine Contest is still on. Go, enter, and win a free book or two. It ends tomorrow, so go ahead and get your entries in.
-I interviewed Adam Warren after discussing his Dirty Pair and Gen 13/Livewires work. It’s a good read. He went above and beyond in answering all those questions.
-Podcast is due to return in the middle of this week. We’ve got a couple of special guest stars this time around, and it required a little more time than usual.
-Lone Wolf & Cub has been on unannounced hiatus for the past couple weeks. I hope to get back to it this coming Sunday, but at worst, it’ll begin again on August 9th. San Diego Con and a few other things bearing down on me meant that something had to give, and LW&C ended up being the victim.
-I totally screwed up my back at the con. Yow.

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The Wolverine Files & Contest

July 21st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I’m not usually a fan of deep continuity stuff. “Who cares,” I think to myself. “Get to the story.” For me to get into continuity porn, I need some kind of hook. It has to be lovingly mocking, as in our Continuity Clashes on the Fourcast!, or kinda funny, like NotBlogX’s X-Men recaps. Another way to win my heart is to come up with a new approach. With The Wolverine Files, Simon & Schuster have come up with a great hook. Colonel Fury, Director of SHIELD, wants to know everything about Wolverine’s past and orders his intelligence teams to gather up all of the info and come up with a definitive history. Thus was born The Wolverine Files.

I like this. Mike W Barr wrote it, and he kept up an informative, but slightly tongue-in-cheek, tone. That tone is what makes this book, rather than breaks it. If this was just another generic Encyclopedia of Comic Information Portrayed as Boringly As Possible, it would be no good, However, Barr keeps things moving with short bios, delivering only necessary info, and having some fun with the format of the book. There’s a few blacked out sections, others that take a more whimsical approach to explaining Wolverine’s relationships.


There are ten major sections, covering Wolverine’s origin, history, allies, lovers, enemies, travels, and weaknesses. It’s a fun trip, because I half remember some of this stuff and am completely surprised, or appalled, by some of it. Either way, it’s a fun read, and it even goes into a few of the What Ifs Wolverine has starred in.

I like it. It’s a fun book, and works really well as an art history, too. Most, if not all, of the major artists who’ve drawn Wolverine are represented in here. To call it a trip down memory lane is a bit of an understatement. This really is Wolverine’s history, warts and all, and it’s a fun book. You can pick up a copy here, directly from Simon & Schuster. Before you do that, though, check this out. S&S’s PR arm was kind enough to help facilitate a contest. We’ve got five copies of The Wolverine Files to give away.

Here’s what we’re gonna do. You need to tell me a) your favorite Wolverine artist, b) your favorite Wolverine story, and c) why it’s your favorite. Be as specific or as general as you like, just tell me why you like it. You’ve got seven days, and I’ll post a couple reminders between now and next week. After that time is up, I’m going to go through and pick the most convincing comments and they get free books.

Sound good? Hit me.

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Prince of Persia/Uncharted 2 Contest

June 3rd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

One of my favorite games, from both a story and a gameplay standpoint, is Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. I played through it on either Xbox or PS2, I forget which, but it was a great time. The gameplay combined platforming mechanics and traditional combat to create a kind of gameplay that was extremely fun. The enemies provided a way for the Prince to make his platforming easier, turning creatively acrobatic combat into a crucial gameplay component.

Where the game really shined for me, however, was the story. Shortly before the end of the game, you find out that the game you’ve just played, deaths and all, was not a game– it was a story that the Prince was telling Princess Farah, the daughter of the Maharajah. There are a number of twists involved, but what it boils down to is that, due to an error, the princess died. The Prince reversed time, and now he must convince her of what happened and save her life. So, he told her the story of his adventure.

This wasn’t exactly out of the blue. The Prince narrates the game, and every time you died, he’d say something to the effect of, “No, that’s not how it happened,” and begin again from just before your death. It turned the story of the game into a story within the game, and it’s a plot twist that I greatly appreciated. If anything, it heightened my love for the game and hooked me for life.

First Second Books released a Prince of Persia graphic novel late last year. I picked it up and read it a couple months after release, but never really got around to talking about it on here.

Rather than do a straight adaptation of any of the handful of Prince of Persia titles, writers Jordan Mechner and AB Sina and artists LeUyen Pham, Alex Pulvilland, and Hilary Sycamore instead told a tale that spanned two timelines under the loose umbrella of being about a “prince of Persia.” There is a nice nod early in the novel to the way that the Prince of Persia series has changed over the years. A king calls for his son, the prince, but all three of his children, two sons and a daughter, come together, rather than the prince he wanted. When quizzed about why they all came, they respond, “For I am the prince!”

In a way, I enjoyed Prince of Persia more due to Sands of Time. They both showed a deft way of telling their story in a way that I didn’t expect at the time. The story takes place over two timelines, and they tend to blend in and out of each other as the book goes on. It can be confusing, but not in an off-putting manner. It simply gives the book a different tone than I’d expected. It’s much more whimsical, or fairy tale-like, in tone than a straight up adventure novel. It isn’t quite magical realism. Everything that happens fits within the story and is perfectly believable. However, there is a definite dream-like quality to the story.
Read the rest of this entry �

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Want to play Uncharted 2 early?

May 27th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

An Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Multiplayer Beta code fell off a truck, and 4thletter! is passing it on to you.

If you want it, leave a comment telling us about a video game should’ve been a comic, and then tell us why. What about the game would make a good comic? Should it be a direct adaptation or something else? Basically, tell us what, why, and if you’re so inclined, how.

This is your chance to tell someone that you think the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series you’ve been writing in your spare time should be picked up by IDW, or that your Crackdown comic is going to move 100,000 copies for Marvel.

The deadline is June 3rd, the day the beta starts, so you have one week to come up with the best idea you can. Don’t blow it, kids. We’re gonna pick the best and give away the code.

Important bits: you’ve got to have a PlayStation 3 and a PSN account to make this work. PSN accounts are free, PlayStation 3s… not so much. If you’ve got both, comment away! If you don’t have either, you can still comment, but please be sure to let us know that you don’t have a PS3!

On June 3rd, after reading about the video games that should’ve been comics, I’m going to write about a video game that was turned into a pretty great comic.

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