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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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Who Grayson?

October 2nd, 2008 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Variety reports that because of the success of Smallville and, I’m thinking, the death of the last executive to okay the Birds of Prey series, the CW will be ‘prepping’ The Graysons, a story about a young acrobat in the years before he will become Batman’s sidekick.

That’s right. You know him, you love him, and his name is . . .

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Necessary Trade-Offs

September 18th, 2008 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

The Big Three of DC, Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman, have always had a certain status in the DCU. Part of this comes from popularity, although admittedly Wonder Woman’s popularity has been low of late. Part of it comes from longevity. Everyone has memories of them. Most of it, though, comes from their iconic nature.

Superman is the one last hope of a dying race. He is sent to an unknown place where that hope is brilliantly realized, even if the sense of loss remains. He represents every parent’s wish for their child, and the responsibility that every child feels when it makes its way in the world.

Batman is the personification of solitary, relentless obsession.

The well known phrase used to describe Wonder Woman is ‘beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena’ but it sites entirely the wrong goddesses. Artemis is much more appropriate. The perpetual virgin and goddess of the hunt, Artemis was also the protector of newborn animals. This is what Wonder Woman evokes; purity, strength, ferocity, and the defense of the weak.

These three, and their situations, are archetypes that everyone recognizes and responds to.

Except that Superman is not Krypton’s last hope. Kryptonians hedged their bets by sending his cousin. And his other cousin. Also a dog. And a monkey. And a horse, in case the dog, monkey, and two cousins need a ride somewhere. There may also be a cat. But everyone loves cats, right?

Batman, the solitary night stalker, could be running a daycare center. Yes, the daycare center would get shut down by the state fairly soon, but until it did it would be full. No other hero has collected such a large number of sidekicks.

Wonder Woman has had crushes on various men for decades, and right now she’s aggressively pursuing Tom Tressor, I guess because his name sounds so much like Steve Trevor.

I can’t help but feel wistful for the icons, the perfect, immovable ideals that the originals represented. The Last Son Of Krypton has an emotional and aesthetic wallop that can’t be matched by three cousins and a petting zoo. The Dark Knight, the lone crusader who pits himself against every criminal in a vast, chaotic city is an extraordinarily spare and beautiful picture. That picture has gotten pretty crowded. And Wonder Woman? The virgin huntress? She’s wooing a man with a nectarine pit.

But if you take Supergirl and Powergirl out of the Superman mythos, you lose not only two fantastic characters, but the sweetness and the emphasis on family that is so great about the Superman books. The Batkids bring warmth and enthusiasm to the Batman mythos. And Wonder Woman is such a difficult character to relate to. Romantic love and all the failings and vulnerabilities that it brings out in a person gives readers a toe-hold, a way of understanding an immortal, invulnerable, an infinitely wise character.

There is something thrilling about iconic characters, and plenty of wonderful stories have been told using that aspect of the Big Three. However, a lot of good comes from knocking those characters off the pedestal. Not only does it introduce new and different characters, but it adds richness and texture to characters who would have been only splash pages. There’s something to be said for being a human instead of a god.

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Killing Your Darlings: You Can’t Please Everybody

September 2nd, 2008 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

In writing, the phrase ‘killing your darlings’ refers to the painful process by which authors weed out their favorite lines, best scenes, and most precious concepts because they distract from the story. In comics fandom, I think of it as describing the way that fandom crushes its own favorite characters under the weight of their own popularity – a process I can’t help but take part in.

Oracle is one of the best characters in comics. Her role on the various teams she’s on is irreplaceable. Her history is as varied and interesting as any character’s could be. She has a defined personality but isn’t a tired, one-note character. Her strengths and weaknesses make every fight she is in even enough that the reader cannot predict the outcome. Of the hundreds of people in the DCU running around in capes and solving the problems of the world by punching people, Barbara Gordon, confined to her wheelchair while being the Lone Ranger of cyberspace stands apart as a unique character.

I, as a reader, would give all that up in a second if she could be Batgirl again. I wouldn’t do it because I lack female crime fighters to identify with. After Fempocalypse – the cancellation of Manhunter, Batgirl, and the elimination of Spoiler, Onyx, Leslie Thompkins, and Gotham Central – DC is gyning up their superhero roster again and I can find strong females without resorting to the Teeny Blue Miniskirt. (Although, to be fair, Kelley Puckett has done an excellent job on Supergirl and I’ve been reading that again, too.)

I wouldn’t even do it because the Batman: The Animated Series episodes that starred Batgirl brought joy to my pre-adolescent life, although admittedly that would be a secondary reason.

I’d regress Barbara Gordon from a team leader to a Batman knock-off with problem hair for one reason: I think it would make her happier.

Yes. You read that right. I want a fictional character to be able to take a walk in a fictional park, then maybe go out dancing with her fictional boyfriend. Just to end the day right, I want her to get her fictional feet massaged. She’s earned it, hasn’t she?

The idea of treating characters as real human beings is plainly ridiculous, but it’s also only an extension of what comics fans do all the time. When we can’t believe that these characters have a life of their own, if only for twenty-two pages, then all we’re doing is staring at ink splotches on wood pulp. And while obsessing over a pet character can be silly, I don’t want to meet the comics fan with a soul so dead that they let go of all character identification and only read comic books ‘for the story.’ However, there does need to be a story, and indulging love for a pet character most often turns that character and every story they’re in as flat as the page they’re printed on.

Striking a balance between wanting a good story and wanting to cater to a favorite character is difficult. The character that makes me topple over is Barbara Gordon, obviously, but I’m willing to bet that every comics fan has one or two characters they’d like to get hold of. Someone out there wants to cast believability to the wind and make Ted Kord and Booster Gold in charge of the Justice League, or allow Superman to rebuild Krypton, or save Bruce Wayne’s parents.

Of course, thinking about 800 issues of Batman in which Babs Gordon goes for a walk with Martha Wayne on New Krypton and talks about how smoothly things have been going since New League took over earth is enough to make me glad there are strict copyright laws.

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Return of the Wrath of Comic Con

April 22nd, 2008 Posted by Gavok

The weekend of chunky guys dressed like Colossus and hot women dressed as Slave Leia has come to an end. I myself had a great time, spent with hermanos from this very site and a whole bunch of guys from Funnybook Babylon. Sadly, Thomas “Wanderer” Wilde deemed himself “too broke” to consider joining us and Hoatzin would have probably involved a gigantic plane ticket paid in rare diamonds, since he’s from Europe. I don’t know. I really have no grasp on how that type of thing works. Besides, Hoatzin seems to have vanished from our planet. What happened to that guy?


This one movie sent the other movie into space.

Day One

Last year I got to New York the day before the con started, which allowed me enough rest and whatnot. This year I had to come in the first day of the event and kill time until David Uzumeri came in from Canada, since he was in charge of dealing with the hotel. I walked straight from the Port Authority bus terminal to the Javits Center, which tired me the hell out.

After getting my swanktastical press pass, I met up with hermanos and Joseph of FBB. They were at a panel starting up that was a screening for a new Will Eisner documentary. Since I was tired from all that walking, I decided to stick around and watch it. I found it interesting in the sense that I honestly didn’t know all that much about Eisner, which is almost a sin if you’re a comic fan. The four of us (David U. showed up towards the end) mostly agreed that while it had some fantastic stuff in there, such as taped conversations between Eisner and guys like Kirby, the sum of it was incredibly dry.

Shortly after, we went to the panel on online journalism, with guys from Newsarama and CBR there. It wasn’t as good as the comic blogging panel from last year and mostly focused on arguing over criticism vs. getting press releases. Once that was done with, I was rested up enough to do some wandering.

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Some Odds and Ends

April 14th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

First off, the latest Comics From the 5th Dimension is up. This time it’s part one of a two-parter where I discuss Luke Cage’s 70’s rogues gallery. I’ve gone over some of it here before, but I go into more detail and discuss why I believe Luke Cage is currently a Skrull.

The mega wrestling site Figure 4 Weekly Online recently had Leonard F. Chikarason as a guest on Dr. Keith’s radio show. You might remember Chikarason’s interview on this site months back. It’s apparent that he does, since he proceeds to give us a quick shout out. What a guy. Even if he does read Countdown.

I should return the favor by mentioning that CHIKARA has shows this upcoming weekend. Saturday is Deuces Wild at Hellertown, PA. Sunday is Passion and Persistence at the ECW Arena. I will be making one or two of the shows in May, but not these shows.

No, instead, I’m going to be at New York Comic Con this weekend. It’s going to be me, hermanos and some of those jokers from Funnybook Babylon. I’ll be the dumbass with the 4th Letter t-shirt, so if you see me, be sure to keep your dirty fucking hands off my nachos. And say hello if you feel like it. I honestly don’t even eat nachos. I don’t know where that came from.

PlayPlay

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4thletter is… drama.

December 21st, 2006 Posted by david brothers

No text or essays for this one. I just really, really like the gif.

Want to know the quickest way to have all your blogging time sucked away? Work retail during Christmas and write about video games during the fourth quarter of the year, a.k.a. “The time every single freaking game in the entire world comes out all at once and you have to play most of them!”

More later, probably! I am currently enjoying a day off. I recently figured out how to access every single post from the original incarnation of 4l, which Gavok and I started back in March, 2005! Let’s see if anyone notices when we celebrate a two year blogiversary (such an awful word) four months after we had our one year! I think I’ll put up one of my earliest posts from the site. I just need a good name for the feature. Something faux old timey.

I’ve got a ComicSpace. Add a brothers, will you?

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