Four Letter Nerd

Author - Bill Clark

4LN Comic Review: Green Arrow #16

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Series: Green Arrow
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist and Colorist: Otto Schmidt
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Summary from comixology: “EMERALD OUTLAW” part five! Implicated in the killing of several high profile Seattleites, besieged by a murderous cabal of crooked cops and demonized by a mayoral candidate willing to tear the city apart to get what he wants, all seems lost for Green Arrow. That is, until help arrives in the form of a long-lost ally. It’s the return of Emiko Queen!

Green Arrow by Benjamin Percy and Otto Schmidt has easily been the most consistently great series to come out of Rebirth. Batman, Trinity, and Wonder Woman have all been awesome (in my opinion), but Green Arrow is the only one that hasn’t had a low point or an issue that I thought to myself, “This isn’t necessary…” Percey is just one of those writers that instantly captures that tone and nature of the character. Like Scott Snyder with Batman, Jason Aaron with Thor, or James Robinson with ANY Golden Age character. I honestly think Percy will easily go down as one of the best Green Arrow writers.

Since the very first issue of this series, Oliver Queen has been a Social Justice Warrior, and that had some controversy around it because even the term itself tends to be viewed, for some bizarre reason, negatively, and is often used sarcastically. But, as I said in my Green Arrow #1 review, Ollie has always, and should always, be a Social Justice Warrior. It just fits his nature. The great thing about this issue (and series) is that it tackles political issues head on and without remorse. Hell, the alternative villain, the mayor-to-be of Seattle who ran his campaign based on fear and hate, is the spitting image of Donald J. Trump. I have to give respect to Percy for guiding the story to a place so relevant to today’s topics.

When it comes to art, Otto Schmidt is one of my favorite artist working with DC Comics. The more that these guys put out, the better the work gets and it’s already fantastic work. Schmidt does a incredible job with the colors and line work on every page. In the intense fight scenes, everything is clearly defined and easy to locate. I personally love the uses of dark colors such as blues, oranges, and greens. Schmidt does a great job using the color scheme to capture the tone of the book. Along with colors, Schmidt also does a great job with the facial characteristics and body language of everyone in the book.

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As I said above, Percy and  Schmidt have done amazing things with Green Arrow, and are only 16 issues into what I hope is a very long run on the character. They have re-imagined Oliver Queen as an modern-day SJW (and it works) and they are tackling real issues in a fantasy world. If you haven’t read any of their run, you are truly missing out. The first trade just came out, and this is only the 5th issue of the Emerald Outlaw story arc. So, do yourself a favor and head down to your LCS and pick up issues 12-16 and enjoy this great series as much as I do.

 

Music Pairing:

You’ll want something fairly political and fairly heavy. And for that I recommend the great Stick To Your Guns. Check out the song No Tolerance of the EP Better Dust Than Ash. And, if you dig them, check out our interview with their drummer, George Schmitz.

4LN Comic Review: Darth Maul #1

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Series: Darth Maul
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Luke Ross
Colors: Nolan Woodard

462191._SX360_QL80_TTD_Summary from Comixology: “Bred on hate, fear, and anger…steeped in the ways of darkness…and trained to kill. Darth Maul’s time as apprentice to Darth Sidious has long been cloaked in shadows, but at last we will reveal his tale of revenge. From writer Cullen Bunn (DEADPOOL KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE, WOLVERINE) and artist Luke Ross (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, HERCULES) comes a tale of rage unleashed as Darth Maul prepares for his first encounter with the Jedi.”

I remember being six when Star Wars Episode I: The Phanom Menace first came out, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever (I know… I know…). The movie starred a young kid, my age, podracing, and one bad ass Sith. From the minute I saw Darth Maul, I was intimidated. The black and red face, the horns, the double-edged lightsaber, and the fact that Darth Maul was extremely quiet just added to his brooding nature.

If any writer was born to write Darth Maul, it’s Cullen Bunn. Bunn is just one of those writers that just does a great job with a villainous and anti-hero characters. He’s written Sinestro and Lobo for DC, and he has worked on Magneto and Deadpool for Marvel. He just has a natural ability with capturing the darker and more brooding characters. In the Phantom Menace, Darth Maul doesn’t say much; but, in the first issue of the mini-series he has quite a bit of dialogue. Darth Maul struggles with some inner demons and frustration directed at Darth Sidious, since he feels Maul is not ready to complete his apprenticeship.

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When it comes to the art in this book it tends to, at times, look a little more cartoony than the rest of the Star Wars books (not including Princes Leia)  have looked, and I certainly don’t mean that in a negative context. The cartoon feel actually adds a great amount of depth to the book and makes some of the scenes all that more bad ass. The book actually starts with Darth Maul hunting two of the most dangerous creatures in the galaxy, Rathtars(space octopus eyeball looking things). Darth Maul takes two of these beasts down in a couple swings of an ax, and its a great start to the series and helps show vicious Maul truly is. Luke Ross does an incredible job with the character designs for the leader of the Trade Federation, and also background characters on Coruscant.

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Bunn and Ross make a fantastic team, and this is leading up to be one of my favorite Star Wars mini-series. As I mentioned before Bunn does a fantastic job capturing a villain and, with a character that so little is known about, this is his time to shine with the ability to be able to add more lore around Darth Maul. Ross’s art really fits the book and I definitely look forward to seeing this creative team run off with Darth Maul.

My only downside to the book is Marvel sticking a $4.99 price tag on the book. Yes, it’s a #1, and yes there is a small bonus story by Chris Eliopoulos and Jordie Bellaire but I really think the $5 price will turn people away. If I wasn’t pulling EVERY Star Wars book, I would have probably passed on this book, but I’m glad I didn’t. And despite the $5 charge, I think you’ll greatly enjoy it too.

 

Music Paring:

Duel Of The Fates by John Williams. Because, duh.

4LN Comic Review: Planet Of The Apes/Green Lantern #1

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Series: Planet of The Apes/Green Lantern
Story: Robbie Thompson
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Barnaby  Bagenda

 

 

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Summary from Boom: BOOM! Studios and DC Comics are proud to bring together two classic properties in a historic crossover event. When Taylor goes missing, Cornelius investigates and discovers an ancient ring, unlike anything the universe has ever seen.As its power echoes through the stars, the Guardians of the Universe must reveal to their Lanterns a secret they had hoped would remain buried. With the Green Lantern Corps, led by Hal Jordan, racing to get to the source of this power before Sinestro can get his hands on it, they will discover a truth that will change them forever on…THE PLANET OF THE APES.

 

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This has been one of the few comics that I have eagerly been waiting for. I absolutely loved “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes“, and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is one of my all time favorite Sci-Fi movies. Plus, with the Green Lantern being one of my favorite superheroes, how could I not love this?


This first issue is mostly world building due to setting up the rest of the 6 issues in the mini series. However, they do a fantastic job with characters such as Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, and the infamous Sinestro. Bringing in Justin Jordan to work on this project was a great move for Boom/DC since he’s previously worked with a majority of these characters during his time on DC Comics New Guardians during the New 52.

 

I mentioned my love for the new franchise, but this book includes a few beloved characters from the original Planet of The Apes. Cornelius and Nova are the main apes, in this issue at least, and the story seems to take place sometime after the original movie ends. Cornelius ends sup finding some type of ring inside a crater and this ring just happened to once belong to the notorious Larfleeze. With the uses of Sinestro and Larfleeze this is already building up to be an epic story involving two beloved franchises.

 

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Barnaby Bagenda worked with Tom King during his run on the DC series The Omega Men and also worked on Evil Dead 2 by Space Goat Productions. Bagenda does a superb job with the art in this issues and makes it truly look at times like a watercolor painting but is still able to have a great amount of focus in the detail. Only one issue in and I am already itching for more of his art. I personally think that Bagenda and Jordan make a fantastic team, and I can’t wait to see what type of constructs and images these guys come up with.

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Justin Jordan does a fantastic job tying these two properties together, Bagenda’s artwork is phenomenal, and this has turned out to be the crossover I never knew I wanted. I literally couldn’t be more happy for it! If you are at your LCS this week and you see this book on the shelf, be sure to pick it up, especially if you are a fan of either franchise. Let us know in the comments below if you picked this series up and if you enjoyed it or not.

 

Music Pairing:

The Get Up Kids are a great band for this style of a comic, and their song Like A Man Possessed is a perfect pairing for this book. I would dare say Cornelius is a man possessed after this issue. I’m sorry, that was a terrible dad joke, but whatever. I made it and I don’t care.

4LN Comic Review: Darth Vader #25

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Series: Darth Vader
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Page Count: 46
Price: $5.99

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Summary from Comixology: “It has all built up to this! Vader’s trials against Cylo’s creations! His machinations against the Emperor! His covert missions with Doctor Aphra and her murderous droids! All comes to fruition in an ending you can’t miss!” (Not from Comixology but should be stated immediately, that cover is f*cking awesome.)

Darth Vader has been my favorite of all the Star Wars books since it’s release in February of last year. Darth Vader #25 is the perfect end to one of the best books being published. This book is a lot like Breaking Bad, I’m saddened that it had to come to an end, but I’m glad it didn’t drag out and become a chore to keep up with (*cough* Son’s Of Anarchy *cough*). Kieron Gillen understood the character of Darth Vader so well that he makes it completely unbelievable that Hayden Christensen could become the Sith Lord.

This issue was full of perfect conclusions for a 25 issue long story. My fellow 4LN writer Stephen Andrew and I agree that Vader Down had one of the most BRUTAL comic book lines in a long time, but I now believe that the most brutal line of Darth Vader was said in this final issue. There are two moments in this book that left my jaw literally hanging open because I just couldn’t believe how ruthless Darth Vader truly is. I want to go into detail, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers that will take away from the experience of reading this issue.

From beginning to end, Salvador Larroca’s art has been absolutely prepossessing and captures the grandness of space and Star Wars. From epic outer space light saber battles to intimate character designs, Larroca has thoroughly brought Darth Vader back to life in comics. When it comes to writing a villain, Kieron Gillen is truly one of the best writers for that bracket of characters. Gillen does a fantastic job of writing part of a story that we all know (I.E. Vader can’t die yet because we aren’t at Return Of The Jedi yet), but still leaving suspense and wonder with what will happen with all characters involved. Looking back on this book now that it’s over, I couldn’t think of a better creative team for it. Gillen and Larroca truly worked elegantly together.

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From issue one to twenty-five, Darth Vader has been one hell of a roller-coaster and full of surprises. I am really disappointed to see my preferred Star Wars book come to an end, but I’m also excited for whatever becomes the next on-going Star Wars book (crossing my fingers for Boba Fett or Kylo Ren).

(Writer’s Note: This review was written before the announcement that Doctor Aphra would be landing her own SW ongoing title)

Thanks for 25 distinguished issues of Darth Vader Salvador Larroca & Kieron Gillen. If you haven’t been reading Darth Vader, now is not the best jumping on point, since this is the epic conclusion; but, you will not be disappointed if you hunt down the previous issues (or trades) because they will be entirely worth the price. In my honest unabashedly biased opinion, this is one of the best final issues from Marvel. Ever.

Also, the book is $5.99 which really blows, but it is more pages than a typical issue, and part of that is an epic mini issue in the back about Darth Vader slaughtering Tusken Raiders while killing time on Tattooine waiting for a couple bounty hunters. Made it worth the extra couple dollars.

Music Pairing:
John Williams, like all Star Wars book reviews.

4LN Comic Review: Trinity #1

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Series: Trinity
Writer: Francis Manapul
Artist: Francis Manapul
Inker: Francis Manapul

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Summary from Comixology: “BETTER TOGETHER” part 1! Together again for the first time! Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. The core of the World’s Greatest Heroes…but with a new Man of Steel, the bonds these three share will be tested and redefined by super-star writer/artist Francis Manapul. In this premiere issue, see the trio travel from Metropolis to Gotham City and beyond to learn what forces launched their heroic careers. But how will this journey of discovery lead them to a new threat?”

This is the series that I have been most excited for regarding the DC Rebirth comics. I was instantly sold on this book just by finding out that Francis Manapul was doing the art for the book. If you aren’t familiar with his work, then you need to pick this book up just for the art alone. For $2.99 you won’t pick up another book as beautiful as this one. For those of you not familiar with Manapul he’s known for his work on other DC books such as New 52 Flash, Justice League, and my personal favorite Batman Detective (Icarus). If you are a fan of bright colors and crisp sharp line work, then Francis Manapul is the comic book artist you’ve been looking for!

The story of Trinity could be a bit confusing for those of us not following the Superman comic at the moment. The gist of what’s going on with Superman is: He’s from a different timeline. When he ended up in this universe, he decided that he wanted to stay on the down-low. New Clark and Lois Lane have a farm in Califonia where they are raising their son who is beginning to learn that his father is Superman, and he has superhuman abilities. After knowing this, it will make reading Trinity all that much easier to understand.

I think my absolute favorite part of this book were the three full page spreads that each of our heroes received. Wonder Woman arriving on the field with a boar and her invisible jet was one of my absolute favorite scenes in this comic. I’ve always loved Cliff Chiang’s and Frank Cho’s take on Diana Prince, but after reading this issue… Francis Manapul might draw my favorite Wonder Woman. It’s just so beautiful, The Batman and Superman splashes are equally as beautiful but I think you’ll greatly appreciate seeing it for yourself instead of having me describe for to you. (See our Review of Superman #7)

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Besides the art, Manapul does a fantastic job with telling the story. This series starts with Bruce and Diana coming to the farm to talk to and get to know, Clark and Lois along with their son. Batman isn’t very trusting but Diana wants to accept them for who they are and believes in time they will become as close of allies as they were with the original Superman. Manapul also does a fantastic job writing some comedy into this book so that it’s not so rigid and series. Bruce makes a comment about Clark’s son sleeping and looking so innocent. I couldn’t help but laugh and imagine Bruce watching Damien sleep and thinking/wishing he was innocent and a typical 10-year-old. Also, Bruce Wayne in plaid is a pretty hilarious image. Along with comedy, Manapul also makes references to much older DC Comics events, and some of the very interesting style choices that Batman made in the 60’s.

Overall, if you are a fan of DC’s Superhero trinity, this is the book for you. Manapul leaves many questions when you come to the conclusion of the issue, and you are going to be coming back to find out what the answers to those questions are. And, you’ll be itching for more beautiful Francis Manapul art come next month. So, head down to your local comic shop and pick this up before you live to regret it!

Music Pairing:
One of my favorite bands in an instrumental post-rock band called Balmorhea from Austin Texas. Their album All Is Wild, All Is Silent is absolutely beautiful and matches the art in the book perfect. So, spin the opening track from that album while reading this book. It’ll be a perfect fit.

Bat for Brains: A 4LN Interview with Scott Snyder!

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I really got into comics right around the time that New 52 started, and I was pulling every Batman & Bat-Family book that there was. Unfortunately, slowly but surely, I lost interest in those books. All but one… the Batman proper book by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. It easily became my favorite comic that was being published, and not long after that, it became my all time favorite comic. I have every issue except a #1 first print, I picked up the second print not realizing it. Soon, I started to explore Scott Snyder’s work before Batman. I picked up The Black Mirror, a story from his Detective Comics run. This was seriously one of the darkest Batman stories I had read since Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, I couldn’t believe the things that were happening in this book.

Not longer after I became a Scott Snyder fan boy, we started FourLetterNerd and I set a goal for myself; I somehow wanted to interview my favorite writer. I even wrote an early article talking about how Snyder was the Stephen King of Comics. I wanted to talk comics with someone I admire, someone I aspire to be like, and one of the people that has made me want to become a comic book writer, or a writer in general.

This week Scott Snyder released his new ongoing Batman series, All Star Batman, and I was able to sit down and talk about this book with him. I was beyond excited. I had achieved my main goal with FourLetterNerd, and I couldn’t be more excited and stoked to share this with you. Guess my unabashedly biased reviews got me somewhere Stephen Andrew.

Below you will find my interview with Scott Snyder!

Scott, after having written Batman for so long, do you feel like you understand who Bruce Wayne is at this point, or do you find that you’re still exploring his psyche?

Scott Snyder: I have so many questions about him, he’s so deeply fun to explore. I write each arc like it’s going to be my last one and I would always say to Greg [Capullo,] or whoever I was working with, “You know, this might be the last one…” [laughs] And try to make it something that would make me feel good leaving it on each time, making it personal and about things that you feel passionately about. With that said, with this one I felt like it was almost a new beginning are sort of deciding not to do just one story that was different, but instead do an entire series of stories that approach Batman’s mythologies, and villains, and Bruce and all of it from a completely different angle. Where it wasn’t necessary a big epic storyline. I wanted to be able to break it down into separate prisms of series where I could say I want to do this villain with this artist, and this villain with that artist. So in doing so, we will have this whole new perspective on Bruce as well. Where all of these things are sort of looking at him as a character that I didn’t expect, like his relationship with Alfred, the whole Robin mantel. All of the stuff that wasn’t really in the outline for the book has been emerging. And I really feel like, really hope, it’s some of my best work. So, I’m really excited to see what you think.

 

Will this version/depiction of Batman/ Bruce differ from one we saw in you New 52 run, or will he be inherently the same?

Scott Snyder: I always see him as the same character, New, Non, Pre52. I mean for me I think it’s more you just have a version of the character in your head and it’s almost like your own creator owned version in your head. I was talking to Tom King (Writer of Batman) about this and you know, it’s almost like if you’re doing rebirth, or New 52, or anything, it’s sort of your vessel. The thing with Grant [Morrison], whatever he was doing on Batman, it was always his Bruce. So, I see him as one long consistent conversation almost between me and the mythology of the character that way it differs from the 52 version. But, this series I’ve made a really big effort to be a shock to the system for the readers given what I have been doing with Greg [Capullo] because I tried to do that every arc with Greg. The last thing I wanted to do was for it to seem like I was playing it safe given all the risks we took doing Batman proper.

 

Are there any artist that you are excited to work with?

Scott Snyder: Oh yeah! So many great artist. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shoutout to Danny and Dean for just doing incredible work on the feature, but also Declan Shelvey and Jordie Bellaire who are doing the backups and the Robin History with me. Paul Pope has become a good friend and I can’t wait to work with. Sean Murphy who is one of my dearest friends in the world, you know, he and I have worked together before and I can’t wait to bring him over in the Batman world. We always joke around about it, but in his creator owned works there is normally a character that is like me, who is like “Draw Batman! Draw Batman!” It’s a joy being able to bring artist in that haven’t had the spotlight from a major book and you can help them, and feel very inspired by them both as people and as talents. So for me, it’s the opposite as what I was doing on Batman, in some ways, and in others it has very similar DNA. The similarities are, I like big bombastic over the top high stakes stuff. I always have. I try to make each story very personal to me, where every villain is sort of re-examined in away that hopefully positions them in a modern and scary but true to core, and slightly tweeked. But maybe something more contemporary. And being outside of Gotham for the story allows me to do wilder takes and experiment a bit more and not be so concerned about what’s happening to the city constantly, and it’s in very good hands with Tom. So, it gives me room to breath and think bigger and write crazier.

 

Dean White is doing the colors on this book, and I personally think he is one of the best colorists in the industry. How do the two or you play off each other? Do you mention what colors things should be, or does White just take the ball and run with it?

Scott Snyder: Danny I have worked with for a long time, because he was on Batman with me and Greg, but Dean who is new to me at least, and who I have admired for a long time, I just made it a point to talk and we wound up having similar sensibilities and  taste in music and so we really got along. What I always try to do isn’t so much tell them specifically what I want but to tell them what the book is about and say Listen, I want this story to really feel like, say, this is the end of times, the end of society, and the end of all these kinds of restrictions we put on ourselves that we use to hide who we really are, those are going to fall away. I want it to feel like this quante beautiful landscape we have never been in before, but also kinda threatening and oddly scary like Halloween on a farm but with bright blue skies, and you never know what’s in the cornfield. That kinda stuff, and I’ll say that and they will come up with something that is incredibly vibrant and enhances those ideas tremendously. There really aren’t words that describe what these guys have done on this book, so I would just encourage people if you pick it [All Star Batman #1] up, and you like what they are doing, just tweet them both, or on Instagram, because colorist and inkers are often total unsung heroes and are letterers of the books, and editors I suppose. [Laughs] Go find them and tell them what a great job they are doing.

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I think a lot of people would define your writing style as horror, so I’m curious, do you identify as a “horror” writer?

Scott Snyder: I’m really proud to be known as a horror writer. I wear it really proudly, horror is my favorite genre if I had to pick one, by far. I grew up on horror movies and I don’t know if it was wanting to see the cool kids get attacked [laughs] or it it was something deeper at first when I was little but they always spoke to me. Night of the Living Dead is one of my favorites, Frankenstein is my favorite book, so yeah I think at horrors core, it’s about a very pure form of conflict. It’s you up against something like a monster, or something that is a reflection or extension of your fears about yourself or the world around you, when it’s done right or well. It’s almost like a burned down, turned up to 11 volume form of the best kind of conflict and drama, so yeah!


Any plans for Scarecrow?

Scott Snyder: I do. I do have plans for him. I actually had Scarecrow in this arc. But then I realized I didn’t think I was doing him justice because he came and went pretty quickly. I just feel like he deserves a bigger role if I’m going to do something with him. So I do have an idea for something down the line. This series is truly ongoing where you know I start with John for five issue and then I have some one shots and two shots with Jock, Paul Pope… and then I have Sean Murphy and this big story and then I would really like to do this one with Lee Bermejo. So I have plans to stretch for almost two years, at least a year and a half. Which is as much as I ever had on Batman Proper. So my hope is to keep it going and do stuff about all the villains. You know, all of them big and small. I would love to do something with Scarecrow, I had an idea for fear gas in issue three but just thought it wasn’t right to knock him out of the story that quick.  

 

Just real quick, Batman with a chainsaw is one of the greatest things I have ever seen.

Scott Snyder:[Laughs]  Thank you! They tried to cut that at one point. My editor Mark, who is one of my best friends, was like “Listen to me, there might be like one thing that might be a little bit too dark for people, and that might be the chainsaw.” I was like “We are not moving or getting rid of the chainsaw, no matter what.” I really fought him on it and he was like “Whoa, whoa, whoa, OK alright.”

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It’s fun, and it’s silly, and it’s grindhouse; but, it’s the spirit of the series, which I think is that Batman is going further than he’s gone before with Two-Face, and you never know what’s coming form the corners of the page. You don’t know what villain is going to pop up, which hero will pop up, even completely certain of an unfamiliar situation that ultimately is landscaped by a psychological projection of what’s going on between these characters. So, having a chainsaw is almost like Batman is willing to sort of shock you and be even more aggressive and badass than you expected, but what comes back at him a few pages later, is even worse, and it’s raising the steaks in the bet that Two-Face is making with him every few pages.

 

Final question, in the show “Gotham” they introduced The Court of Owls last season and it appears as if they’ll have an ominous presence on the story this season. How does it feel to have created something in the Bat-verse that’s impact is so significant it’s being adapted to live-action?

Scott Snyder: I can’t even begin to tell you.. When Geoff Johns told me they were doing that, I was out in Burbank [California] and he was like “I have something to show you.” And he showed me clips from the promos from the season two introduction of them and I almost teared up because I was so excited. So, it’s a huge thrill honestly, and DC has been incredibly kind to us about it. But Greg and I had one stipulation, we wanted to be Owls in the back, giving the thumbs up wearing the masking and everything, no, no, we are very grateful. When I started Batman, or even Detective Comics, six or seven years ago, I never thought in a million years I would be doing it this long or have been able to be so embedded in the mythology and able to create characters and anything that would stick. It’s hugely rewarding, and cant thank the fans enough for all their years of support and letting us do everything we’ve done in the books.

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Thank you so much to DC Comics, and Scott Snyder. Be sure to head to your local comic shop and pick up All Star Batman #1 which is on shelves now, and if you are in the Middle Tennessee area, head over to Game Cave 2 and pick up this book! You don’t want to sleep on this series.

All-Star Batman (2016-) #1

4LN Comic Review: Suicide Squad Rebirth #1

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Series: Suicide Squad
Writer: Rob Williams
Pencils: Philip Tan
Inks: Jonathan Glapion

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Summary from Comixology: “Soldier. War hero. Traitor. Captain Rick Flag was one of America’s greatest military commanders before he was banished to a secret military prison. But after years of isolation, Flag’s life changes forever when a woman called Amanda Waller offers him redemption in exchange for taking on the single most dangerous job in the entire DC Universe: keeping the Suicide Squad alive! ”

Man, what a coincidence that this comic is coming out right before the Suicide Squad movie hits theaters on Friday, you would almost think that was planned or something. But seriously, it makes perfect sense to drop this comics this week. You have people picking it up this week out of hype, and next week, if people like what they see, hopefully they will come into a comic shop and pick this book up. I personally think this is a great starting issue, as well as a great jumping on point for literally any level of a fan. Life long Suicide Squad fan, this book is for you. Just saw the trailer and want some light reading, this is the book for you.

In this issue, the Squad consist of Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Boomerang, and leader Rick Flair Flag. This issue is a great “origins” story for the team. We don’t get flashbacks of who Harley, Deadshot and Boomerang were before joining the team, we just know they were bad. We don’t see action ready combat hero Rick Flag fighting overseas, but we do know shit hit the fan for him and he’s now in Guantanamo Bay for terrorism. And, we find out that in the last months of President Obama’s presidency, he finds out about Amanda Walker and Task Force X. For those unfamiliar, Amanda Walker is the government agent that leads the top secret task force.

I think Rob Williams does a fantastic job capturing the feel of these characters. Williams really seems to understand the characters of the team, and he does a fantastic job capturing the dialogue between them. I love how he has Boomerang singing soccer hooligan songs while in combat. Speaking of combat, the fight scenes are absolutely intense in this book. Boomerang slices a guys hands off, Harley and Deadshot shoot a guy in the head (each hit a different target) and the Suicide Squad has no problem detonating a bomb in a metropolitan city.

I really enjoyed the art in this book. It was very clean, but also had a gritty feel to it. A lot of dark colors and dark tones were used, which is important in a book like Suicide Squad. Everything seemed very well-organized on the pages, and the panels were easy to follow. There were a few pages that I just really enjoyed solely because of the page layouts and how the book flowed together. Philip Tan also did a fantastic job on making people look real. What I mean by this is, when looking at President Obama, I knew it was President Obama, and that’s not always the easiest thing to do in the comics medium.

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If you are excited for the movie, or just want to read a book about super villains doing badass shit, then this is totally the book for you. Williams and Tan do a wonderful job at bringing this team alive on the pages. Don’t sleep on this book, and for $2.99 what do you have to loose?

Music Pairing:

Harley Quinn being a badass is awesome, and I feel like you could safely call her Miss Murder. AFI is the perfect fit for a book like Suicide Squad, and their song Miss Murder does a good job as the soundtrack.

4LN Interview with “Hot Damn” Writer Ryan Ferrier

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I picked up Hot Damn on a whim, because I thought the cover looked cool. It was a guy covered in tattoos falling into hell. I’m covered in tattoos, and practically on my way to hell, so how could I not love this? Hot Damn is seriously one of the funniest comics I’ve read in a long time. (You can read our review of issue #1 here.) The main character Teddy is a great party animal, his hell sponsor Costello is diabolical and looking out for his own best interest, and his group counselor, Abaddon, is how you would imagine every youth pastor at church camp, he’s trying way to hard to be cool. (Heads up, this interview is potentially NSFW so read on at your own risk…)


4LN – This comic has a lot of interesting takes on theology. Were you raised in a religious family, and if so, does this impact your views on Heaven and Hell?

Ryan Ferrier – I wasn’t raised in a religious family at all, no. My Scottish parents grew up with the church (my father catholic, my mother protestant) but they didn’t stick with it. I went to public school, etc, and my exposure to anything religion-based was minimal and discovered on my own as I got older. As for how this has impacted my views on Heaven and Hell, I think as a whole, Hot Damn approaches these things from the aspect of how we as a culture and an ingrained part of our day-to-day see it. We absolutely don’t want to mock, ridicule, or make these things the butt of any jokes. We simply want to take the collective idea and popular representation of these things and deconstruct/reconstruct them. Given all the pieces of life we’re playing with, how can we have some fun with them in harmony, and explore some common areas, is kind of the question that has driven Valentin and I through the course of the story. The human-emotional things we’re tackling in the story are really applicable to everyone, whether religious or not.

But, surely, everything in my life and upbringing influences and impacts my views on the subject matter, whether it’s conscious or not. It would be tough to say otherwise. With Hot Damn though, I think we’ve tried to remain as thoughtful of “the other side” as best we can. Even though some of the scenes say quite the opposite!

 

4LN – I honestly haven’t laughed this hard while reading a comic in a really long time, and I know that you and Valentin Ramon have worked together before on D4VE & D4VE2, so how do you guys play off of each other as a creative team?

RF – The collaborative sync that Valentin and I share is truly remarkable. It’s a very, very natural similarity to the point where it’s almost creepy. It’s as if our brains are linked, unknowingly. There’s a very organic (barf, why did I use that buzzword?) workflow in place between he and I, and there isn’t a lot of back and forth, honestly. We both know how each other works, and what each other likes, and it just fits perfectly. We obviously think very alike and share very close thought processes, interests, and views, so it makes things very simple to work with. Valentin is a genius and I will forever work with him, if he allows it.

 

4LN – Abaddon might be one of my favorite characters in this series, mostly because he reminds me of almost every Youth Pastor I’ve ever met. He’s just trying so hard to be cool, where did the inspiration for this character come from?

 

RF – I love Abaddon! All of the demons in Hot Damn are named after actual demons, and Abaddon is often considered one of the worst. With that in mind, we made our Abaddon one of the best. The point of Hell being this therapy session you can never leave, and the actual act of these sessions being worse than any physical torture, yet the actual process is very calm and friendly, so we made Abaddon–the leader of these sessions–this very inviting, supportive character. I think we approached Abaddon as a personality to be very sinister in that he looks like a Baphomet, but is so kind and inviting; he basically coaxes you into confessing and realizing your sins. It’s awful when you think about it. But, like Satan, Abaddon’s heart and relative well-meaning is pretty genuine. He’s a nice dude.

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4LN – Can you elaborate on the meaning of Abaddon, and why the counselor from hell is given this name?

RF – Our version of Abaddon, though a small part, is an important one, so we wanted to make sure his name had some weight. Abaddon is a real demon (well, as “real” as you believe demons are), and depending on what you read, he is a pretty damn gnarly sonofagun. It only felt fitting to re-imagine him in our story as a very kind soul, albeit one responsible for your worst undoing.

 

4LN – I think one of the most entertaining parts of this comic are the background images; testical strippers, suicide bombers, catholic priests… where do you get the ideas for the citizens of hell?

RF – With the exception of only a few notes from my mind, that is very much Valentin’s work. That’s his twisted mind conjuring up such atrocities. He loves conceptualizing and bringing to life the most ridiculous stuff. I love seeing the bizarre stuff he cooks up splatter onto the page. I aspire to reach his level of absurdity and brilliance.

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4LN – Teddy doesn’t seem like that terrible of a person, he actually seems pretty smart. In issue two when he meets Maria, we find he is pretty self aware. He knows people are just at his party for drugs and self gratification. Where did you get the inspiration for teddy’s character?

RF – I think the most dangerous kind of person is the kind that doesn’t seem terrible, that seems smart and confident, but their records indicate the exact opposite. Teddy is a terrible person and he knows it, which is why he’s now in Hell and trying, desperately, to reverse all that. For him in particular it may be a delayed “oh crap” moment, but from the get go we wanted to make Teddy the worst, most unlikable character we’ve ever dealt with, and turn him completely around. We wanted to go further with the theme of redemption. Teddy isn’t being mistreated, or treated unfairly, in Hell. Everything he’s going through is very well earned and deserved. As for inspiration, there’s a little bit of me in there, and a little bit of people I’ve known in there, albeit amped up to 1,000. Teddy is the product of a lifetime of focusing on life’s negativity, to a fault. He’s a lot of flaws in our personalities personified. He’s certainly a walking, talking cautionary tale.

 

Lightning Round (a series of quick and random questions)

4LN – So, I follow you on twitter and have noticed that you are really into metal music, which we seriously love here at 4LN. So, I gotta ask, is the name a reference to the Every Time I Die album, Hot Damn?

RF – Every Time I Die is one of my most favorite all-time bands, current or otherwise, hands down. I’m a die hard ETID guy. Oddly enough, the title of Hot Damn, which was not the original title, came more from the expression and the imagery it conjures, mixed with a little Hell-ish double meaning. That came first, for me internally, and it wasn’t at all a reference to the (incredible) album. Though the coincidence is not at all lost on me. There’s actually an ETID reference in the first issue during the possession scene; we talk about Keith Buckley and one of his lyrics in particular.

 

 

 

4LN – What show have you been binge-watching on Netflix lately?

RF – I actually haven’t been binge-watching much lately, to be honest! The last thing I really marathoned was Daredevil Season 2. I don’t watch much TV (I don’t have any cable at all) and only stream stuff here and there. I’ve been making good use of my WWE Network subscription though, which is a damn time vacuum if you’re not careful.

 

4LN – Which character from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia do you think you relate to the most?

RF – Rickety Cricket, easily. I’m not confident enough to come close to the original/main cast.

 

4LN – Best concert you have been to this year?

RF – I haven’t seen any live music this year, sadly, though I’m seeing Charles Bradley and Ghost in a couple months (separately, of course, though imagine the crowd at that show if it existed). The last great concert I saw was Morrissey in Salt Lake City last year.

 

4LN – What’s your all time favorite metal album?

RF – All time? That is near impossible for the genre. I could make a top 10 list and it still wouldn’t come close to being succinct. Like…what kind of metal are we talking here? Thrash? Hardcore? It seems unfair to put, for example, Converge and Metallica in the same eligible field. Or Dillinger Escape Plan and Faith No More. It’s just too broad a category, and there’s too much to choose from, you monsters. I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

Wow. Geeze. Okay. Ummm…this is insanely difficult. And it changes daily, I’m certain. I think…if I were to be somewhat objective about it, for me personally, and for where I’m at now in life with my interests, Deftones’ Around the Fur was a huge influence for me. But then their subsequent White Pony record pretty much redefined metal at that time and moving forward. But there’s other metal records I love more. I could listen to QOTSA’s Songs For the Deaf literally any time. God, this is difficult. Mastodon’s Crack the Skye is one of the finest metal records ever made. But how do you say that and not acknowledge any Pantera record or …And Justice For All? Or immediately think about DEP’s Option Paralysis, or Miss Machine, for chrissake?! I can’t do this. Don’t ask me to do this. It’s too hard for me.

Okay fine, Deftones’ White Pony for all time. This question is killing me.

 

My HUGE thanks to Ryan for chatting with me, and make sure you guys head down to your local comic shop and pick the first 4 issues of Hot Damn! #4 just released yesterday (08/03) so make sure you get caught up before the finale drops!

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4LN Interview with Writer of Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps, Robert Venditti

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We got the chance to sit down and talk with comic book writer Robert Venditti (for the third time) about his upcoming DC project, Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps, which hits shelves tomorrow! Be sure to grab Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth #1 because we promise, this won’t be a series you will want to miss. So, without further ado, our interview with Robert Venditti!

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Are you excited to be working with former comic collaborator Rafa Sandoval?

Robert Venditti: Absolutely! I have worked with Rafa before for about 5 issues during X-O Manowar for Valiant. It was a great collaborative relationship, and he does so much so well. Especially when it comes to cosmic/sci-fi/space-oriented books. He does a lot of alien races, and a lot of ships. He’s fantastic when it comes to design, and those kinds of things. When DC told me about Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps, I asked if I could have Rafa Sandoval on this book. I just love working with the guy, and DC went and got him.

How does working with Ethan Van Sciver compare to Rafa Sandoval?

Robert Venditti: Ethan is somebody that I’ve worked with in a very limited capacity. We did one issue of Green Lantern together, during my run, but he’s somebody that brings so much weight and experience to the title. He’s an artist whose synonymous with not just Green Lantern mythology, but with the concept of Rebirth. And so to be able to work with him, who literally co-created a lot of the stuff that we are going to be dealing with, he has such an enthusiasm and a love for the characters. He’s very knowledgable and easy to talk concepts with, and if you are writing a book as part of the Rebirth initiative which embraces the long legacy of the DCU. I can’t think of a better artist to have on that for Green Lantern than Ethan, because in a lot of ways he represents that legacy. Him and Rafa together are just a great 1-2 punch… I couldn’t be happier.  

How does Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps work with the theme of Rebirth? (Are you bringing back classic elements/characters while moving forward)

Robert Venditti: Absolutely! Yeah, I mean, that is Rebirth in a nutshell. It’s to embrace the long legacy of these characters, and embrace everything that has come before, but push forward and look towards the future and new directions as well. That’s exactly what we are doing. When you look at our opening arc, it’s going to be Hal and the Green Lantern Corps vs Sinestro and the Sinestro Corps. It’s green versus yellow. It’s will versus fear. These are concepts that go back to the earliest beginnings of the Green Lantern mythology. We are embracing that, but we are also doing some new things with that. If you read a lot of the books of the Rebirth books that are already on the stands, you’ll see that that is what the incentive is pretty much about. It’s a concept that I feel I am really suited for and it’s something I’m really excited about, and I hope people are excited for the stories when they see them.

 

Will Hal continue being a rogue lantern and using his  power gauntlet, or will we see the return of the iconic leader that we have been so used to?

Robert Venditti: When we open the Rebirth issue, Hal is in the possession of Krona’s gauntlet, and it has an affect on him where it’s changing him into a being of will. So what that’s beginning to do will have a profound affect on the series going forward. But what he does aside from that is he makes a decision with the Green Lantern Corps absent, he is going to reclaim his mantle as Green Lantern and be the last green lantern in the universe. He’s going to try to go find the corps, find out what happened to them, save them, and bring them back. Hal doesn’t know what the situation is yet, but he’s going to go searching for the corps and trying to protect the universe while he does it, all while being the standard bearer of the Green Lantern Corps. Coming into that at the same time, with the void of the Green Lantern Corps being absent, Sinestro parking War World in Sector Zero and becoming an established police force in the universe. So now you have Hal and Sinestro sorta on this collision and that’s where our story is going to begin.  


Are you excited to write different members of the corps besides Hal?

Robert Venditti: It’s such a diverse cast, you know? So many different lanterns who have been introduced over the years and one of the things that I’m doing is really trying to embrace that wider taprecy of DCU, with all the various planets, cultures and civilizations. And the lanterns who often times come from those cultures and civilizations. And with each of those civilizations comes different lanterns and with different character point of views. The diversity of that is what can really separate the Green Lantern mythology from a lot of other mythologies.  

With all the different characters in the Green Lantern series, will we see the return of B’dg?

Robert Venditti: [Laughs] I get a lot of B’dg and Ch’p questions. Yeah, B’dg is still there and he’s on the table, but I’m not doing a B’dg centered story anytime in the near future. But yes, B’dg is definitely still around.   


4LN: My personal favorite Lantern is Kyle Rayner, do you have any special plans for him?


Robert Venditti: Yup! Yes we do, it’s interesting. I don’t mention Kyle a lot in interviews, and we haven’t shown him in a lot of promo art, because what we are doing with him is really secretive. So when he does get introduced, it’s going to be for a very significant reason. To do something that only Kyle can do. And where the story then goes from there, it’s going to take a turn in a different direction. Kyle is definitely going to be there, but I have to be more secretive about him and other things because of what we are doing.    

4LN: What has been your favorite part about writing Green Lantern so far?

Robert Venditti: I would say just being able to work with these characters in the cosmic nature of the DCU, which is really the Green Lantern’s domain. There are so many worlds, so many different space race villains, and space race heroes, and alien cultures, and all these types of things. It’s such a rich history, and so much imagination, all these elements being introduced by different writers over the decades, so to be able to have all of that to play with and to mine for stories… It’s just a huge honor, and I feel very fortunate to be able to do it. It’s always enjoyable.

 

We’d like to thank Robert for taking the time to chat with us! Below we have some previews of Hal Jordan & The Green Lanterns Rebirth and Issue #1!

 

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4LN Comic Review: Green Lanterns #1

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Series: Green Lanterns
Writer: Sam Humphries
Pencils: Robson Rocha
Inks: Jay Leisten

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Summary from Comixology: “RED PLANET” Chapter One

New Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz promised to protect others in brightest day or blackest night, but as “Red Planet” begins to rise, the partners find themselves confronted with an unimaginable threat from Bleez and the Red Lanterns!

THEY SAID IT: “I am psyched for GREEN LANTERNS!” says writer Sam Humphries. “Myself, Simon, and Jessica are all new to the DC Universe. We’re gonna have a blast exploring it—if we don’t destroy it first.”

I’ll be completely honest, I’m not normally a big fan of Sam Humphries.  I went into Green Lanterns expecting to feel indifferent about the book, since I’m not reading many of his books.  The main reason I picked this book up so I could have seven books to review for my yearly Seven for Seven (I review seven comics in seven day, just for the hell of it). In spite of that, this book wasn’t grim.

The main lanterns in this book were both introduced during The New 52, Simon Baz was introduced in the 2012 free comic book day special, and Jessica Cruz was introduced in Green Lantern #20, but both were quickly forgotten, but it’s rewarding that they have now returned and will hopefully bring with them interesting points of views for the Green Lanterns Corps. As many know, Simon Baz is Muslim and was viewed as a terrorist, and struggles with persecution from his religious beliefs. An interesting addition to the backstory of Jessica Cruz is the introduction of her struggling with anxiety. With her being a new character for millennial readers, it only makes sense to give her anxiety since that’s so common with today’s young adults. I think if done correctly, Humphries can use this to become an extremely relatable aspect for the character.

Robson Rocha does a really good job with the art in this book, and that’s one of the most important things for a Green Lantern book. The writer and artist have to be as creative as possible, since the rings can construct anything the wearer can imagine. Humphries and Rocha do a great job bringing the rings to life. There are also a couple pages in this book that are absolutely brutal and grotesque, in addition Rocha does a wonderful job of making the unbelievable come to life, and in comics, that is much needed.

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If you are new and looking to get into DC or are a fan of Buddy Cop movies than Green Lanterns is the perfect book for you. Simon and Jessica have very little background due to being almost entirely new characters, and Sam Humphries is an entirely new writer for DC Comics, so the three of them make an interesting combination. Conversely, if you are a longtime fan of Green Lanterns, I would recommend waiting for Hal Jordan and The Green Lanterns, because that title will focus on more of the characters we know and love.

Music Pairing:
This Will Destroy you is perfect “background” music for this book. There are no lyrics, and it’s just instrumentation. So it’s easy to follow along with and not get distracted by the band.