Fourcast! 55: Arsenal vs New Warriors

July 26th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-I just got back from San Diego Comic-con, and boy are my arms tired!
-That’s not just a dumb joke. I did a lot of writing while I was away.
-Suck it, everybody else.
-You Made Me Read This!
-Esther made David read Devin Grayson and Rick Mays’s Arsenal!
-It is cheesy and talks about drugs, but isn’t bad.
-David made Esther read Zeb Wells and Skottie Young’s New Warriors: Reality Check!
-Esther liked it, except for the parts where sad things happen.
Here is the Zeb Wells youtube video David mentions.
-There are several more. Watch them.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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Fourcast! 45: Teen Titans vs New Warriors

May 17th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-Continuity Off!
-Esther on Teen Titans!
-David on New Warriors!
-Of course, New Warriors: Reality Check is out of print. It was a good story if you can find it.
-True story: next week is the Fourcast’s one year anniversary and you won’t believe what we have planned.
-I mean, you won’t believe that we don’t have anything planned.
-(Plan something for us please.)
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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We Care a Lot Part 9: The Hybrid That Crashed and Burned

April 9th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

At this point in this series of Venom articles, I think it’s right to note that whether you like the comics, hate the comics, like the character or hate the character, you have to admit that the whole symbiote idea is, deep down, really original and full of potential. Really, look past the bad stories and you’ll see a comic book concept that has so many places it can go. It’s like Kryptonian DNA or Multiple Man’s powers. Years later they’re still coming up with new tricks for them all. The sky’s the limit.

Yet, their ideas for characters outside of Venom were never all that creative. Carnage, blood stuff aside is just “Venom but pure evil.” Scream is little more than “Venom as a woman with Medusa hair.” Where are the ninja symbiote hosts? Where are the quadruple amputee symbiote hosts with spider legs sticking out of their torsos? The Siamese twins? At least our topic today, Hybrid, had enough creativity in his concept to be slightly more than “Venom but a black guy.”

I don’t blame you for not knowing who Hybrid is. He’s only had a very limited amount of appearances. While he isn’t the most exciting Marvel character to fall into obscurity, there are some interesting things that set him apart from his symbiote brethren. For one, human host Scott Washington is actually an established character. That’s a bit of a rarity, isn’t it? Eddie Brock showed up after Spider-Man got rid of the costume. Cletus Kasady appeared specifically to set Carnage’s origin in motion. Donna Diego was a complete afterthought to the extent that they didn’t even give her or her symbiote self a name until way after the fact. Even Pat Mulligan, who I’ll get to way down the line, was introduced in the same arc that made him Toxin.

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Black History Month 06: Wu-Tang is For the Children

February 6th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

“I don’t know how you all see it, but when it comes to the children, Wu-Tang is for the children. We teach the children.”
–Ol’ Dirty Bastard

There aren’t a lot of black youths active in comics these days. Just a cursory, generous, and off-the-top-of-my-head count comes up with Natasha Irons, Night Thrasher (II), Debrii, Patriot, Prodigy… who else? DC’s got a stockpile of fashionable pretty little indistinguishable blonde girls and dark haired male sidekicks and that’s about it. We’ve got a fistful of grown-ups, and Luke Cage is leading the Avengers and playing the Captain America role (whoa), but what about the kids?

I had some harsh words about Patriot a while back, and I stand by them. His origin makes him a sucker and a weakling on a team full of people who have overcome exterior problems without falling victim to interior ones. I recently reread Young Avengers after a friend gave away the two trades and I still can’t get into it. It rubs me raw.

Patriot is an interesting character, because a young black male wearing the flag, even (or especially) now is rife with story possibilities. In a lot of ways, it flies in the face of logic. In others, it makes perfect sense. Ed Brubaker did a good job briefly discussing those issues in his issue of Young Avengers Presents. How do you reconcile history and the ideal? Do you even bother trying? Patriot is the grandson of a man who was pretty much tortured and ruined by the government who is represented by the flag he wears. What about that?

David “Prodigy” Alleyne from New X-Men is a character that I liked a lot. He had clever powers and was kind of a modern-day non-irreparably lame Doug Ramsey type of kid. He could absorb the knowledge, but not the powers, of anyone who he was close to. Then House of M hit and Kyle and Yost took over the series and bodies started dropping and I stopped reading.

But, I mean, before all that? He seemed pretty cool, even if he was only ever on maybe ten covers out of fifty-nine of the New Mutants/New X-Men run. (Yes I counted.)

I want a spectrum of characters. I want to see that young black kid who is all about fighting the power and bringing down the man. I want to see that kid who might not have grown up as poor as his other friends and has some guilt over that. I want to see that black girl who had to fight twice as hard as everyone else she knows to get half as far. I want to see those kids who reflect the people I grew up with, who run the gamut from this, to that, and the third.

I started reading comics almost twenty years ago. (I am not that old I just started reading early, shut up.) Why is the landscape barely different at all? Milestone Comics was how many years ago now? I mean, can a Brothers get a black Teen Titan who isn’t a) Cyborg and b) a shrinky bee girl? This is the pre-eminent DC teen team, you mean to tell me that they can’t get a quota kid or two to fill out the ranks? Farm some kids out of the Boys & Girls Club? I mean, blonde girls got it made! There’s one with every power under the sun! Why can’t I have a spectrum of characters to look at and show my little cousins?

“Hey, check this guy out! He’s pretty cool, right?”
“What’s his power? He looks aight.”
“Um, he got beat up so he took drugs so he could get revenge on those guys, and then decided he wanted to be a hero.”

Yeah, that’s not the business.

We’ve got a few characters. Making more isn’t even hard.

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No Solicitors

March 22nd, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Have you guys read the new Marvel and DC solicits? I love comics, but those things are a bore and a half. It’s like they don’t even want you to read their books.

It’s cool, though. Here are the ones that are new and good and interesting. Jumping-on points only here, with one exception, perhaps. My pithy and vitally important commentary is in italics.

DC Comics is first since Marvel is better!

Written by Grant Morrison
Art and cover by J.H. Williams III
The Batmen of All Nations reunite for a weekend of fine food and nostalgia, but an unexpected visitor has other plans for the gathering. Batman, Robin, and the rest of the Club of Heroes find themselves trapped and at the mercy of a dangerous madman on the Island of Mister Mayhew!
This is why I read Grant Morrison. Mad ideas that sound completely goofy. He’s Silver Age with a Modern Age sensibility. Plus, I hope the sweet Knight and Squire from JLA Classified 1-3 shows up.

ROBIN #163
Written by Adam Beechen
Art by Freddie E. Williams II
Cover by Patrick Gleason & Wayne Faucher
It’s Tim Drake’s first Father’s Day as Bruce Wayne’s adopted son, and he wants everything to be just right. Unfortunately, the justice-crazed supervillains known as The Jury pick that very day to go on a murder spree in Gotham City!
This is a great idea for a story. The “family” part of Bat-family doesn’t get looked at often enough. “The Jury,” though, conjures up images of a certain ’90s anti-Venom team.

Written by Paul Dini and Judd Winick
Art by Bruce Timm, Joe Chiodo and others
Cover by Timm
Paul Dini and Bruce Timm -two of the masterminds behind Batman: The Animated Series – join forces in this volume collecting the miniseries BATMAN: HARLEY AND IVY! Also included is the special: HARLEY AND IVY: LOVE ON THE LAM by Judd Winick and Joe Chiodo, plus a newly-colored story rom BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE VOL. 2!
It’s Harley Quinn, so shut up and buy it.
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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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What’s So Civil About War, Anyway

September 27th, 2006 Posted by Wanderer

Civil War is really fucking stupid.

I think I could fix it.

Let’s see if you agree.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 12

September 18th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

This is a longer one than usual. I just had to rank two two-parters so closely together, didn’t I.


Issue: Volume 2, #20-21
Writer: Danny Fingeroth
Artist: Jim Valentino
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Peter Parker had proposed to Mary Jane. It was a battle with a Spider Slayer involving them both that convinced Mary Jane to say yes. That’s all well and good for her, but how would things have turned out if that adventure didn’t go so smoothly? In this reality, the Spider Slayer strangles Mary Jane a bit longer than normal and although she’s rescued, she is still injured. Peter keeps having flashbacks to Gwen’s death and can’t bear to see the same thing happen to someone like Mary Jane. For her own protection, he leaves her at the alter.

Look at that last panel. Man. I will never, ever forgive John Byrne for turning Sandman evil again. But enough of that.

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On Ninja Girls, Dames, and War Games

August 1st, 2006 Posted by david brothers

“What people often forget, of course, is that Magneto, unlike the lovely Sir Ian McKellen, is a mad old terrorist twat. No matter how he justifies his stupid, brutal behaviour, or how anyone else tries to justify it, in the end he’s just an old bastard with daft, old ideas based on violence and coercion. I really wanted to make that clear at this time.”
–Grant Morrison

I’m not usually one to complain about comics companies “destroying” characters. In fact, I think it’s kind the kind of stupid invective that gives comic fans such a negative fanboy image. “Destroying” is a loaded term, and there’s much, much better ways to express your feelings on the matter. This may be my attempt at that, or my attempt at putting my foot in my mouth. U DECIDE.

I do think, however, that comics companies can make/allow some fairly terrible narrative choices. Turning Xorn into some kind of Jerry Springer-esque twin brother was one. Actually, every time Xorn has been mentioned outside of Morrison’s New X-Men has been a mistake, I think. Identity Crisis left a bad taste in my mouth, despite Rags Morales’s excellent art. I liked the scene where Batman and Robin are trying to get to Tim Drake’s house before his dad dies. That was powerful, but the death of Jack Drake? Bleh. He was a cool dude. Mark Millar turning the New Warriors into patsies? Bah, Doom says.

So basically what I’m saying is, not everything comics companies do is great. Big surprise, huh? I once read a comment Keith Giffen made about the death of Blue Beetle. He said he wasn’t mad about it, and that his only feelings on the matter were “I would’ve done it differently.” I think that’s all any fan can really say. “I would’ve done it differently.” Mark Waid once said something like “Comics is the only industry where 90% of your audience thinks that they can do it better than you.” It’s true.

Long, rambling introductions aside, DC screwed the pooch on the Batbooks when they made the main man overly angry, right? Well, what about the satellite titles? Catwoman went from a must-read book to “Peace out, homey!” all in the space of one issue for me. Batgirl has renounced her title and is pretty much a villain now.

I am okay with one of these things, but I do not like the other. Let us begin, then.
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