Four Letter Nerd

Author - Bill Clark

4LN Comic Review: Batman: Rebirth #1

Series: Batman
Writer: Tom King and Scott Snyder
Artist: Mikel Janín
Publisher: DC Comics
Page Count: 26

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Summary from Comixology: “Longtime Batman and Eisner Award-winning writer Scott Snyder co-writes with rising-star writer Tom King!”

EVIL 365: “Gotham City faces the threat of the Calendar Man!”

This is one of the Rebirth books I have been looking forward to the most. I mean, Tom King and Scott Snyder working together? What’s not to love about that? Tom King has been one of the best writers working in the industry at the moment. His work on Vision, Omega Men, and Grayson has all been critically acclaimed, and most people refer to Vision as one of the best science fiction stories in the last five to ten years. Tom King is a phenomenal writer, and this single issue proves that Batman is in great hands after the epic conclusion to the Scott/Capullo run.

There were two things that really stood out in this issue: one being Duke Thomas, and two being Calendar Man. For those of you who didn’t read the previous Batman run, Duke Thomas was a character introduced in Zero Year, and eventually became a Robin. But, this issue continues the story of Duke and his teaming up with Batman. With Duke as a new fan favorite, and people wondering what would happen to him, it’s rewarding to know that he’s in good hands and that Tom King will continue with a new chapter of his story.

Besides Duke Thomas, the other thing I felt that was remarkably well done was Calendar Man. Julian can be very “hallmark and seasonal” compared to the others in the Batman rogues gallery. The only good representation that comes to mind is his portrayal in Long Halloween. But, after reading this issue, I can definitely say that there are two great Calendar Man depictions. Sure, this is just a first issue; but, if Tom King can do a great story with a character like Julian Gregory Day, then the sky is the limit for characters such as Joker, Scarecrow, Two-Face, and Mr. Freeze.

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Mikel Janín’s art in this issue is phenomenal. It made Calendar Man feel more intimidating as a villain. It was a little sad to realize that he wasn’t staying on this book. No disrespect to David Finch, who is the main artist starting next issue, but Janín’s art really stood out to me. I would love to see more of his work in the future, but I’m looking forward to seeing Finch return to the Batman world. His work on Wonder Woman was enjoyable, and Finch does his best work while in the bat-verse.

The first issue on King’s run is a great start. Snyder’s influence is lingering, but it’s safe to say that in time, Tom King will take Batman and run with it, making it completely his own.

Music Pairing:
Time Is On My Side by the Rolling Stones because why not.

4LN Comic Review: DC Universe Rebirth #1

Series: Rebirth
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist(s): Gary Frank, Phil Jemenez, Ethan Van Sciver
Publisher: DC
Page Count: 81
Price: $2.99

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Overview from Comixology:

It all begins here. Do not skip to the last page. Do not let a friend or message board ruin this comic for you. The future (and past) of the DC Universe starts here. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!THEY SAID IT: “Rebirth is about focusing in on the core of the character and their respective universe,” says writer and DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. “It brings back what has been lost: the legacy of the characters, the love and the hope of the DCU!”
I have been eagerly waiting for this issue since it was announced at this years WonderCon. And, of course, it comes out while I’m on vacation in California. I couldn’t get to a shop on Wednesday, so I had to wait until Thursday. I was lucky enough to be able to check out Southern California Comics in San Diego, but unfortunately they were sold out, which I expected. So I had to resort to picking this book up digitally, and avoiding Reddit and Facebook like the plague. I haven’t had the combination of internet and free time until today (May 30th), to get around to reading this book. But goddamn am I glad I waited to read it instead of trying to rush through for a quick review. This is honestly one of my favorite single issues in a long time.DC’s New 52 had a lot of ups and also a lot of downs. People tend to shit on The New 52, but I liked it and it helped me get more into comics, so for that I’m biased towards it. But, I can already tell that Rebirth will fix the wrongs that New 52 created, and it’s paving a way into a new era for DC Comics, one that I think will bring back a lot of old readers. I think the best part of this event is, you don’t need to know 30+ years of back story to understand Rebirth, it’s a great jumping on point, and it’s easy to follow. “Obscure” characters are focused on, but the Johns does a great job of making this an easy read, and building background in just a few panels.I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Mammoth California as I read this issue, and it had me feeling so many different emotions, from pure joy to a heartbreaking sadness (I may have cried a little bit in this shop…) and everything in between. I was very skeptical of this book, and I didn’t know what to expect, but i can’t stress enough how fantastic this book was. I think one of the fantastic things about this book is you don’t need to know the previous 30 years of DC legacy, but Geoff Johns was able to work in one of the most iconic comics of all time, and it worked. It made sense. I think one of the most special things about this book is how well Johns writes internal narration. It feels like you are actually inside the mind of a character, and a lot of the times this is where a writer can truly fall flat and ruin the momentum behind a book, but Johns truly hit a grand slam (I am not calling it a f–cking “Papa Slam“). If you are skeptical of Rebirth, or if DC has previously left a bitter taste in your mouth, trust me; this book is only $2.99, 80 pages long and will restore your faith in DC.I also want to mention how beautiful the art is in this book. You can tell a lot of time was put into this book, and the several artist who worked on it really meshed well together. In my personal opinion when multiple talents work on a book, it tends to get chaotic and or messy, but with Rebirth every page flows easily into the next. And the attention to detail is incredible, and answers you might have towards the end are explained in the small details when a character visits Batman for the first time.9e373dea795b0702e022bf660b0ad551._SX640_QL80_TTD_Overall, I can not speak any higher about this book. It was a fantastic issue that will start the next chapter for DC Comics, and I think everyone should check this book out. And come on, it’s only $2.99. You can barely get a cup of coffee for that price. Do yourself a favor and grab this book on Wednesday if you didn’t last week, or click the link to Comixology at the top of this article to get it RIGHT NOW!Music Pairing:
This book has a lot of time travel in it, and I can’t think of a better sound track than Hans Zimmer’s work from Interstellar. Start with my favorite track, Mountains, and put it on shuffle. It’s a perfect pairing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_Ay_iDRAbc

4LN Comic Review: Batman #51

Series: Batman
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Colorist: Danny Miki

Summary from Comixology: “Batman has battled everything from the Court of Owls to Mr. Bloom to the Joker, but how does he handle a quiet night in Gotham City…?”

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If you have read any of my Batman reviews, you know how much I loved this book, and you know how I truly loved this series. I actually had to take a break from reviewing these books after my fellow 4LN writer Stephen Andrew called me “unabashedly biased” when it comes to these books, and he’s not wrong. Still the coolest thing to happen to me while writing for Four Letter Nerd was when Snyder retweeted my article about him, he then followed me on Twitter, and the dude just seems so nice that it makes me an even bigger fan of his.

In the final issue of Snyder and Capullo’s Batman epic, we get to see how Batman handles a quiet night in Gotham. The city looses power, and Batman assumes that something terrible is about to happen, so he begins patrolling the streets trying to uncover which terrible thing(s) could be approaching. Lets be completely honest, nothing good ever happens in Gotham so Bats has every right to suspect something awful coming in the darkness.

Batman starts his night in the Batcave and heads to Arkham Asylum, similarly to how the series started in Batman #1. Following Arkham, Batman has a lead on The Court of Owls but it becomes a dead end. This is a great final issue because we see Batman return to some of the most iconic story lines of this five year Batman run. Each page seems like a throwback to every previous story arc with a hodgepodge of Batman’s rouges making small appearances.

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The art is once again top notch and I fully believe that, as time goes on, when people think back about Batman in comics, Greg Capullo will be the artist they think of. (Similar to how when we think of Spider-Man, John Romita is the first artist that comes to mind.) Capullo definitely left his mark on the flagship DC book and, in my honest opinion, it will be a very long time until someone can fill those shoes again. Capullo and Danny Miki made one of the best artistic teams in comics, and they were a perfect yin & yang to one another. Capullo with the dark and brooding artwork, and Miki with the bright and bold colors that pop off the pages. We had some of the darkest Batman stories, but the art was so vibrant and refreshing it brought a new feel to such a classic character.

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Working in a comic book shop (Comix City Too!), every Wednesday I look at our wall of new comic and try to figure out what the best comic cover is, and this week it went to Batman #51. The cover is just perfect for what the book means, Batman standing with his cape wrapped around Gotham. Batman is the shroud of protection around Gotham, Batman is the gargoyle on Wayne Tower, and Gotham is thankful for Batman. This issue ends Scott and Capullo’s run on Batman, and I just want to personally thank them for everything they have done for Batman and for being the creative team that were the helm of the most epic Batman run I have ever read. I doubt either of them will read this, but as a fanboy I just want to personally thank you. Whenever a new comic reader comes into my store Batman is the first book I recommend.

Scott Snyder will be writing All-Star Batman with art by John Romita Jr, and a slew of other fantastic artist, and Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder will return to an unnamed DC project sometime in 2017.

 

Music Pairing:

Aggressive Expansion from The Dark Knight Soundtrack

4LN Comic Review: Moon Knight #1 (2016)

Series: Moon Knight
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire

358507._SX360_QL80_TTD_Summary from Comixology: “The book you’d be insane to miss! Marc Spector (a.k.a. Moon Knight/Jake Lockley/Steven Grant) has been fighting criminals and keeping New York City safe for years…or has he? When he wakes up in an insane asylum with no powers and a lifetime’s worth of medical records, his whole identity (identities) are called into question. Something is wrong, but is that something Marc Spector himself? Jeff Lemire and rising star Greg Smallwood are calling everything you know about Moon Knight into question.”

There is only one way that I can accurately describe Moon Knight #1, and that with three simple words: “Trippy. As. F–K.” This book really makes you question everything you know about Moon Knight, and I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about the character to begin with. All I know about Marc Spector is what I read in Warren Ellis’ fantastic, albeit brief, run from a couple years ago. I know the basics of the character, but a lot of those core beliefs are stripped away and questioned here in the first issue of Lemire’s run, Welcome to New Egypt: Part 1 of 5.

Jeff Lemire is one of my favorite writers in the industry at the moment, and I think his weird style fits the feel of the character perfectly. I am also really looking forward to Lemire (hopefully) doing some art for this book, because not only does his writing match the style, but his art would be beautifully trippy with his character. The issue seems like a beautiful homage to “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, where Marc is stuck in a Mental Institute and is trying to escape, and one of the characters that Marc meets straight reminds me of Jack Nicholson as Mac. The deeper you get into the book, the more “confusing” it gets. I unfortunately can’t quit describe how it’s confusing without giving spoilers, but trust me, you’ll want to read this issue.

Greg Smallwood and Jordie Bellaire make a perfect art team for this book, the colors are just fantastic. I wholeheartedly believe that Bellaire is the best colorist in comic books. Smallwood’s linework and attention to detail is just phenomenal. There are multiple pages where a lot of things are happening but it’s still so easy to tell what’s going on, and the splash page towards the end… WOW. It absolutely makes the book worth the price tag. In the summary from Comixology they call Smallwood a “rising star” and this book might have just proven why that’s true.

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If you are a fan of Moon Knight, or just looking for a new series to get into, Moon Knight #1 is the book for you. It has everything you could possibly want: Egyptian gods, mental hospitals, shock treatment, corrupt nurses, and Moon Knight just being a complete badass. $4.99 seems like a high cost for a comic, but this first issue convinced me that the series is worth it.

 

Music Pairing
Remember how I mentioned shock treatment? Well, Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment.

4LN Music Review: Into It. Over It. – Standards

Artist: Into It. Over It.
Album: Standards
Length: 12 Tracks, 41 minutes
Record Label: Triple Crown Records

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I’ll be honest, I’ve been waiting a long time to jam this album. Earlier this week they announced that it was streaming on a couple sites, but I really wanted to wait until the album dropped to fully experience it. I’m going to be real with you… I’m so glad I waited.

For those of you who are not familiar with the band Into It. Over It. it is the solo project of Evan Thomas Weiss, and Standards is the 5th release for the project. I first found Into It. Over It. in 2011 when his album PROPER was released, and this project has been one of the main acts to usher in the emo rebirth of the mid 2000’s. When I say “emo” I don’t want you to picture bands like Hawthrone Heights or My Chemical Romance because Into it. Over It. is no where near as aggressive as said acts. Evan Thomas Weiss is more similar to the sounds of Dashboard Confessional and Death Cab for Cutie. I would consider Into It. Over It. to be a great blend of emo and indie rock, so think of Dashboard Confessional and Death Cab for Cutie getting into a car crash, and the resulting sound would be the birth of Into It. Over It. (Editor’s Note: 4LN does not condone violence against mainstream Emo/Indie rock bands.)

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Standards starts with a brutally honest song, Open Casket, that ends in a wall of feedback that would leave most listeners pushing the next button, but for me, that was one of my favorite moments of the album. I’m a big fan of Noise Rock, and that feedback reminded me a lot of that genre, but it was Evan making it his own. This album seems to have a lot of Evan making things his own, because the amount of honestly is real and refreshing. The album reminds me of a slower version of We Cool? by Jeff Rosenstock because of all of the honestly and pure emotion behind every word.

The single for this album, “No EQ” is a much more upbeat and faster paced song, maybe even the most lively track on this album. This is a track about remaining true to yourself, where Evan goes into detail about how he feels out of place in todays times, and how his music taste and fashion never changes. It’s a song I think a lot of later 20something punks will be able to relate to. It may even be the realest track on the album…

The album really slows down around the 5th track, Your Lasting Image, which deals with the struggles of forgetting someone that you once loved, with the repeating line “I can’t remember your touch…” and the song goes into detail about wanting to remember someone for a way that they were. This is one of the saddest tracks on the album, which instantly means it’s my favorite.

Closer to the end of the album is the track Who You Are Does Not Equal Who You Were, and this track has a great distorted guitar sound but also extremely clear vocals. The music really builds up in this song to a major explosion of sound that will leave the listener banging their head along to, and this album is no where near a headbanger. That’s actually one of the great things about this album, Evan Thomas Weiss takes sounds from so many different genres and blends them into a truly unique sound. The vocals on this entire album are crystal clear, and this track is a great example of that. At no point will anyone have a hard time singing along to this album

I think the most special thing about Standards is that it’s not an album for just one fan base. For the most part, Evan’s target demographic is going to be late teens and early 20’s pop-punk/emo kids, but the special thing about this album is, I can see some indie-heads, soft rock, and maybe even some Noise Rock/Pop fans will really jam this album.

If you are a fan of Bayside, Death Cab for Cutie, Dashboard Confessional, or You Blew It! then you really need to jam this album. This is a great starting point for someone looking to get into the Emo Revival, and a great album to jam if you are feeling a little down, or just want to relax. Standards by Into It. Over It. is a great album for anyone looking to get into a new slower emotionally honest band.

EXCLUSIVE PREMIER: Renaissance Fair’s “Southampton” Music Video + An Interview with Vocalist Nick Taylor

A few weeks ago my good friend Michael Roe, from the band Daisyhead, called me up and told me about this great new band called Renaissance Fair. I checked them out and ended up jamming their self-titled EP more times than I can even remember on repeat. I loved it. It’s a great mix of a little indie rock, some pop punk, and a little surfer vibe rock’n’roll. Then I found out that vocalist and guitarist Nick Taylor was a big fan of Game of Thrones, and time travel so I instantly knew I wanted to sit down and talk with him. We chatted about the bands writing process, Nicks favorite albums of 2015, and what Young Adult Dystopian Novel Universe he would want to be trapped in. Oh, and after the interview we have a special treat for you… the world premiere of the new Renaissance Fair music video, “Southampton”! Enjoy!

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How did Renaissance Fair get started?
NT- Wes, Branson, and Jared are all brothers, and have been playing in bands together for basically their whole lives. I met them when we were all around the age of 15 when they were a three piece that my band would open up for. We started together on this new project only about a year ago when both of our bands (The Summers and Midway) were coming to an end. It worked out, because I think we all wanted a fresh start and to do something unlike anything we had put out before.


Do you guys have a specific writing process that you follow, or do you just write when you feel inspired?
NT- Well, for me, I have to be inspired to write. There’s nothing worse then trying to force out something that’s just not ready. I love writing for RenFair because I can bring an idea to the group and we’ll jam it, and I’ll take it back to the lab and build the structure more and we’ll go back and forth on it until it’s complete. I definitely don’t have a committed process, though. For instance, we’re actually in the studio for the next few days recording two new songs, and the two were written very differently. Sometimes the lyrics come first, sometimes the music, and if we’re lucky, sometimes it just all flows out naturally together. On one of the new songs, the opening lines were written probably two years ago, and the rest was mainly written when I was staying in New York last October. So you never really know when and how something will inspire your writing.


Any funny or crazy tour stories you can tell us about?
NT- Nothing legendary yet sadly, but we did get bored on a drive to Boston, and spent a good 45 minutes taking videos of me rapping Robert Frost poems over beats we found on Spotify. Hopefully we’ll have some terrible sketchy experience to tell you about after our tour with Intervention coming up.


I’ve noticed, while listening to your EP, you guys have a similar sound to Turnover and Death Cab for Cutie, it’s an awesome blend. What other bands have inspired you?
NT- Oh, well thank you. Both of those bands are awesome in their own ways, and Ben Gibbart has definitely always been an inspiration to me. Anyway I would say we listen to a lot of groovy stuff these days. We love Alabama Shakes, Toro Y Moi, Bombay Bicycle Club, Night Moves, Phoenix, Mac Demarco, but we really try not to compare ourselves to any other bands in particular. At least that has been a mindset we’ve had moving forward with writing our new material.


So, I hear you are a big fan of GoT, I’m on the second to last episode of season 3, without Spoiling anything, who is your favorite character?
NT- Oh man that show is super frustrating, but Branson and I are obsessed. I read him this question and he’s having an internal debate about his favorite right now. I’m gonna have to go with Jon Snow. Go figure…

Michael (from Daisyhead) also told me that you were a big fan of time travel. If you could travel back in time to one historical event, which would it be?
NT- Yeah, time has always been just a fascinating concept to me.  I’m not ashamed to say I’ve spent way too many late nights cringing at thoughts of eternity. Im also not ashamed to tell you I not-so-secretly have an unfinished novel that involves a bit of time travel so I’ve done my fair share of research on the subject. I would say though, if I had to choose I would have loved to see Athens during the 5th century. I’ve been studying a lot of stuff about culture and its progression over time, and I’m just really interested to know how much of ancient history was misinterpreted or catalogued with a biased opinion, but that’s just a part of the passing of time I guess. Like I said, it’s always been a fascinating concept for me.


What was your favorite album of 2015?
NT- I’m gonna have to say “What For ?” by Toro Y Moi. It was just my soundtrack to last summer and really peaked my curiosity into this new wave of psychedelic indie rock that’s coming around.

 Honorable mentions for sure would be:
 Sound and Color – Alabama Shakes
 Surf – Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment
Here at 4LN we are big fans of literature, any books you read while on the road during 2015 that you want to recommend to anyone?
NT- I just finished Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. It’s a fictional tale, but it is mainly all a conversation between the two main characters. There are actually two sequels, I believe, but it has a lot to do with looking at culture and civilization and what they have done to the earth. It’s actually pretty heavy. Not to give away too much but one thing it discussed was how feeding the thousands of starving people in the world is just causing them to repopulate which will cause a future generation to have double the amount of starving people. It’s the first thing I’ve ever really read in the field of spiritualism, but I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know a little more about man and his part in the much larger story of existence.


What is your favorite animated series?
NT- At first I thought you said anime and I was worried I’d have to decide. Haha, just kidding, that’s not a category of nerd I know that well. Even though FLCL always drew me in when I was younger. You know, I watch the same amount of cartoons as any 22 year old. Gotta love South Park for teaching me how to check someone’s privileges.


What is your all time favorite record?
NT- You really know how to ask the tough questions… I really couldn’t begin to answer this question. I’ll give you a few that I’ve been jamming the past year a lot. “Pet Sounds” by The Beach Boys, and “Bookends” by Simon and Garfunkel are definitely classics for me, but more recently… “Modern Vampires In The City” by Vampire Weekend, “Oh, Inverted World” by The Shins, and really any of Bombay Bicycle Club’s albums, who sadly earlier this month announced they were taking a break. That was a sad day.


Would you rather live in the world of Hunger Games or Divergent?
NT- Which ever is not a ripoff of the other one? …but no seriously, I didn’t read divergent but I’m going to assume both would have me in a futuristic dystopian society with messed up laws where I end getting dragged into a war against a corrupt government by an equally corrupt rebellion.  Knowing me, I’d get sorted into the boring faction in divergent or die of old age in district 7 in hunger games. Ha!


Any video games you have been playing lately?
NT- Just Pokemon Fire Red on my tablet. Got my 5th badge yesterday.

What were your thoughts in Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
NT- Man, I don’t like to discuss things that I don’t know a lot about, which is a main reason I’m finding it hard to get myself to vote this year. I have my choice but I don’t want to make an uneducated guess. As far as Star Wars, I’ve seen all of the movies but I really felt unattached to the new movie. I just never got super into Star Wars and I don’t want to step on the diehards’ toes. I will say JJ Abrams did a great job of creating a feel and tone for this movie that reflected so much on the original trilogy.

Before we check out your new video, can you tell us a little about it, as well as your new EP?
NT- We recorded our debut EP last year with Tate Mercer, and we’re very pleased with how it came out. We ended up throwing together a DIY music video that we shot in our living room for a song called Southampton. We have a lot of fun doing little musical projects like that on a whim.

 

I wanna send a big THANK YOU to Nick for speaking with me, and now, without further ado, check out their new video, Southampton!

You can find these rad guys on tour, with their friends in Intervention, during the month of March, so do your best to see them on the road, get some merch, and tell them 4LN sent you!

3/11: Chattanooga, TN – Elmo’s World* (No Intervention*)
3/12: Atlanta, GA – Hill St. House
3/13: Tallahassee, FL – TV Land
3/14: Jacksonville, FL – The Birdhouse
3/16: Greenville, NC – Player’s Retreat
3/17: Williamsport, PA – The Groundfloor
3/18: Winchester, VA – Hopscotch Coffee
3/20: Nashville, TN – That 70s House

4LN Comic Review: Obi-Wan and Anakin #2 (of 5)

Series: Obi-Wan and Anakin
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Page Count: 23

Summary from Comixology: “Master and Padawan find themselves stranded on an unfamiliar world…a world of strange, primitive technology and dangerous natives. But even if they can save themselves…why were they called to this world?”

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I have been reading every single Star Wars book, (except for Kanan: The Last Padawan, which I’m frantically trying to collect all of them now) and Charles Soule has written my favorite one so far, Lando. But, for some reason, Obi-Wan and Anakin just isn’t holding my interests as much as previous books. I believe it has nothing to do with Soule’s writing, since he’s one of my favorite writers, but rather Marco Checchetto’s art, and I think it’s safe to say that, my fellow 4LN writer, Cameron felt the same way about issue #1.

This book takes place between episode I and II, and we have a 12 year old Anakin in the field with his Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The strongest thing about this book was Soule’s ability to capture both Obi-Wan and Anakin. This is a time before Anakin questions his master, and they truly seem more like brothers, and you can clearly tell how much Anakin looks up to Obi-Wan, specifically with my favorite quote of the comic, “That is my Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, there is no one better.”

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This series revolves around Anakin and Obi-Wan visiting an off world planet, Carnelion IV, and they realize there is a generations long war going on, between two feuding sides: The Open, and the Closed. Besides these two groups of people, Obi and Annie must fight off a wave of mindless creatures called the Corpse-Leeches, that Obi tries to control via The Force, but Anakin struggles with this ability. The book also includes a great flashback scene that shows how Anakin and Chancellor Palpatine first met; including a trip to the lower levels of Coruscant. This was one of those few moments I wanted to yell at Obi-Wan and say “You are making a terrible decision! DON’T DO THIS!” But I would have looked pretty silly yelling a comic book in this crowded Starbucks… again.

With all this said, my dislike of the art was outweighed by my love of Obi-Wan and Charles Soule as a writer. If you are a fan of Star Wars, then once again, Marvel is putting out a quality book that you need to read. The collector in me would and will read anything Star Wars, but I’m glad Marvel hasn’t dipped in quality with all the different books. This run is only 5 issues long, so head to Comix City Too! if you are in the Nashville area and pick up issues #1 & 2!

 

Music Pairing:
The ONLY music that goes along with a Star Wars book.

Best Live Bands of 2015

Since Four Letter Nerd’s conception, Stephen Andrew and I have been eagerly awaiting for the site to include music reviews, and that day has finally arrived. With the new year, 4LN has decided we are going to go in a new direction, and one of the new features will be focusing more on music. For me, music has always been something that I’ve been super nerdy about. When I get into a new band, I pretty much completely get into that band. I learn about the members, I completely dive into their discography, and I love learning about their writing process.

This previous year, I really dove into some awesome music, and along with diving into music, I saw some really awesome live performances. I saw everything from country music legend Willie Nelson to the black metal/crust punk band Young And In The Way, and I saw everything in between them as well. I can honestly say I saw close to 50 different musical acts this year, some were phenomenal, and others were fairly forgettable. This list will consist of the 10 best bands I saw in 2015, but in no particular order. I should say that, while I am heavily into punk, hardcore and metal, this list will not consist of just those types of bands. So, without further adieu, I give you the best live performances of 2015, according to Bill Clark.

 

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1) Ryan Adams
I have been waiting since I was a sophomore in high school to see Ryan Adams (six years for anyone wondering). I first heard about Ryan Adams from a hipster girl I knew, and she gave me a copy of Gold and Easy Tiger and his music blew me away. Each time Ryan has toured and come through Nashville, I’ve missed his show. In April he announced two shows at The Ryman Auditorium, and I knew I had to see him. I got tickets to his first show of the two dates and it was incredible. The Ryman stage was set up like a 1980’s arcade and included giant pinball machines and wild taxidermy animals. Ryan mostly played songs of his self titled album, and unfortunately this show was before the announcement of his Taylor Swift cover album, 1989, so I didn’t get to see any of those songs live. To make an awesome show even better, Ryan brought out Jason Isbell and Natalie Prass and all together played Come Pick Me Up and Jacksonville Skyline. Unfortunately, on the second night (which I was not at) Ryan finally performed the Bryan Adams song Summer of ’69.

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2) Willie Nelson
I saw Willie Nelson also at The Ryman Auditorium in March of 2015. It might have been one of the coolest shows I’ve ever seen. I went with a fellow punk rocker, Clint Daniel, and we had to be the two youngest people at the show. Clint’s in his late 20’s and I am in my early 20’s. So, what was funny about this show was, it was over by 9:30, and I was home in bed before 11. I say it was funny because one of the Nashville based venues I frequent often, The End, typically doesn’t have the show headliner start until 10 or after. Being able to tell people I saw Willie Nelson is one of the coolest parts of seeing Willie. At the age of 82, Willie is still kicking some serious ass and played for at least and hour and a half, and never once forgot a single lyric. It was great to see a living legend who could out preformed any new popular act.

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3) Young And In The Way
Young and In The Way (YAITW) was possibly the single most terrifying musical experience of my life. For readers who are not familiar with YAITW, they are a black metal crust punk band from North Carolina, known for their satanic imagery, and cult like presence. Stephen Andrew and I saw them play to an audience for maybe 100 people. One by one the band came on stage covered in blood (for added effect, the guitarist played in a leather bondage sex mask, eyes zip shut) and when they began to play, the house lights turned off and the band played in darkness with flashing lights. With songs such as Be My Blood and F**k This Life, the negativity in the room was overpowering, and for the first 3 songs Stephen and I were not sure if we would make it out of the venue without being involved in a cult murder/suicide. During the song F**k This Life, Kable Lyall (vocalist) pointed directly at me, while covered in blood, and yelled “F**K THIS LIFE”… while looking at me. I was 99% sure I was marked for death by the group with “Cult of Rot” backpatches.  If anyone is a fan of horror and/or metal, seeing YAITW live must be added to your bucket list.

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4) Jeff Rosenstock

Where can I even begin with Jeff Rosenstock? I honestly think this was the single best show I saw in 2015. I saw him at the Nashville venue, The End, and I bet there were no more than 200 people at the show. But, during Jeff’s set there had to only be 125 people tops. He toured with Dan Andriano (of Alkaline Trio. No. The OTHER guy from Alkaline Trio. No. NOT MATT SKIBA.) Dan played before Jeff, and after his set a large amount of the crowd left, which really surprised me. For those of you not familiar with Jeff Rosenstock, he originally started playing music with Bomb the Music Industry! and has since made a name for himself in the folk punk/pop punk community. Jeff blends elements of folk and pop punk into one truly unique sound. And his live performances, are also truly unique. Jeff is in his 30’s but has more energy then almost any other performer I saw this year. What amazed me about the guy was he played an entire set on rhythm guitar for Dan Andriano and then did an entire other set immediately after, with Death Rosenstock. While on stage Jeff was jumping all over the place, and at one time jumped on a table in the bar, shredded a little, then jumped into the crowd. Later during the set, he handed his guitar to some random kid and stage dived for a while. The Jeff Rosenstock show was non stop chaos, but beautifully executed.

 

 

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5) City and Colour

City and Colour was actually the last show I saw in 2015, and it was also Dallas Green’s last show of the year. I went with my girlfriend and her sister to see City and Colour at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, and it was a phenomenal show. I have never really been a City and Colour fan. I checked him out when he first released “Sometimes”, but I never really dived into anything after that. I had heard great things about his project with Pink! (You+Me) and his latest album, “If I Should Go Before You”, so I checked out both of those the week before the show, and they really impressed me. I wasn’t sure what to expect with his live show, but I went in with an open mind. Half way during the show, I remember texting Stephen, “Dude. City and Colour is f**king flawless.” That’s really the only way I know how to describe the show. Dallas Green had a fantastic light show along with his music, which really added something unique to the concert. The only real thing I didn’t enjoy was Dallas Green’s lack of stage banter. He was very quiet and didn’t interact with the crowd. It was very much like listening to a recording, but I mean that in the best way possible.

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6-8) New Found Glory, Turnstile and Turnover

This one is a bit more of a stretch, because this might have been the best concert I went too. It was just a stacked fucking line up, and what’s great about this line up, each band was different compared to the other. New Found Glory were headlining the show, and they are the reigning kings of Pop Punk. Like, every other band falls in comparison to them. Descendents are the grandparents of pop punk, New Found Glory are the parents, and every current pop punk band is a little middle-schooler trying to be edgy and cool. The NFG show was a major surprise for me, most of the crowd was the “old guys” crew. People in their late 20’s and early 30’s who aren’t at every show anymore, and most have kids and a family and a raging comic book addiction *cough* Stephen *cough* so they don’t get out to many shows anymore. (Editor’s Note: F*** you, you snot-nosed little s***.) During the opening bands, Turnover and Turnstile, the crowd wasn’t very energetic. Turnover is a slower more post-pop punk/emo band so it made sense with the crowd not moving during their set, and they killed it that night. Turnstile was incredibly energetic and had a strong Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) message, and they got the crowd moving pretty good. Definitely the heaviest band on the bill, younger people were moshing and really getting into the band. But, the entire atmosphere changed when New Found Glory hit the stage, the crowd exploded with energy and the level of excitement flooded over the room. I don’t think I have ever been at a show that had so many stage dives and crowd surfers. It was just a sea of bodies crashing over each other, wave after wave. When it comes to punk and all its subgenres, New Found Glory takes the cake when it comes to live shows.

 

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9) Death Cab for Cutie

I have seen Death Cab at least five times, and every time I see them, they get better and better. I saw them at The Ryman Auditorium to a sold out crowd, and it was honestly one of the best times I’ve seen them. If you are ever in Nashville, please do yourself a favor and see a band at The Ryman. It’s easily one of the best venues in the world, and as an added bonus, it’s also the mother church of country music, and the birthplace of bluegrass. Death Cab is one of those bands that the longer they are together, the better they become. They honestly have it all. Great crowd interactions, perfect sound, and a flawless set list. I think one of the special things about Death Cab is, during their live performances they cater to both fan bases: fairly new fans, and veteran fans. Death Cab does a wonderful job interacting with the crowd, telling stories, and even joking around. Ben Gibbard (the vocalist) asked if anyone knew Garth Brooks, and if they did, ask him to please cover I Will Follow You Into The Dark so that he and the rest of the band, can send their kids to college (though, I don’t think he’ll have a problem doing that without aid from Garth). Even if you only know a couple Death Cab songs, you really need to go see them live, it will be 100% worth it.

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10) Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Where to even begin? This was more of a life experience opposed to a concert. Stephen and I had been planning on going to this show since it was announced, and goddamn am I glad I went. It was truly one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I was buzzing pretty good on PBR during their set, and that honestly made it all the more powerful. For those of you not familiar with GSY!BE, they are a canadian post-rock instrumental/experimental band. GSY!BE is an eight piece band that has a full time projectionist that travels with them, and he ran 3 different projectors that played over the music, for a truly unique experience. I visually remember one 8 minute song just consisting of just two deer eating grass and staring at you. If you were high during their set, it would have been unbelievable. Words can not describe how great they are, but it is important to mention, if you see them, they will be LOUD. This was easily the loudest concert I have ever seen in my life. I can go on and on about describing them, but I think Stephen found the perfect words for Godspeed You! Black Emperor…

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2015 was one hell of a year for live music, from bloody black metal, to experimental instrumental music I saw a little bit of everything this year. We would love to hear your feedback, and/or comment below with a couple of the best bands you saw this previous year. Keep checking back with Four Letter Nerd for more music related articles!

Batman v Superman: First Look

If you missed it last night, like I did, the CW premiered some new Batman v Superman footage. In the new footage we have some new shots of Superman in a hallway, a better first look at Wonder Woman, and we see what happens when Doomsday’s heat vision hits Diana’s shield. One of the more important things about the trailer is we seem to finally get conformation that Lex Luther is, and will be, the main villain in this movie. On a scale of one to ten, how excited are you for Batman v Superman? I’m at about an eleven, so without further adieu, here is the new trailer, featuring the fatman on Batman, Kevin Smith.

(Ben Affleck, I apologize for hating you, as I now 100% support you as Batman. There’s no excuse for my neckbeardy behavior and I swear I will try harder to be a better nerd, and all around better person from now on. Also, I actually loved Gigli.)

 

AND! Because I like bringing you even more excitement, here is the new Suicide Squad trailer. Bohemian Rhapsody fits perfectly with this trailer, well done.

4LN Comic Review: Darth Vader #13

Series: Darth Vader
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado

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Overview from Comixology: “The first crossover of Star Wars’ new Marvel age continues here! Vader vs. all the Rebels…it’s not a fair fight!”

This is part two of the 6 part crossover event, Vader Down, and my God is it off to a great start. If you haven’t read Vader Down #1, you are really missing out. To fully appreciate this issue, it’s mandatory that you read Vader Down #1. I mean, why read a crossover event and skip the first issue? This issue is a blast, and one of the fastest reads that I have ran across in a long time. The issue starts with Vader just slaughtering Rebel scum, and I can’t think of a better way to start a comic. From beginning to end, this issue is full of action and suspense, and I can’t stress how quick of a read it was. And that’s not a bad thing, so much was happening that the issue flew by like the Millennium Falcon doing the Kessel Run (I know that was cringy. I couldn’t help it.)

I personally think that Darth Vader is the best Star Wars book being published right now, and this has nothing to do with the fact that I have a Darth Vader tattoo, it’s just the most badass of the Star Wars books. I mean, who doesn’t like reading and watching Vader do secret mission and hunt down the terrorist known as the Rebel Alliance? I think Kieron Gillen does a fantastic job at capturing the feel of Vader, and I honestly can’t think of a writer who could do as well as he has on this book. Not only does he capture the feel of Vader, but he also brings Solo and Leia to the page in a great way.

When it comes to the fight scenes, and action in this issue, Salvador Larroca does a great job making you feel like you are actually in the middle of the firefight, and the use of reds and oranges makes the tone much darker and more warlike. It’s awesome seeing Darth Vader in hand to hand combat with an entire battalion of rebel soldiers. And, just like in Vader Down #1, Darth is just full of amazing quotes, and one liners from Vader. I am also extremely curious to see if anything comes from the Jedi temple that Luke found on the planet of Vrogas Vos. I hope in one issue of the crossover, either Luke or Vader will explore the ruins.

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If you are a fan of Star Wars, and can’t seem to get a big enough fix before The Force Awakens comes out, then you need to do yourself a favor pick up Vader Down #1, and Darth Vader #13. You’ll get some badass Darth Vader, awesome Star Wars action, and you’ll get to experience what maybe the best crossover event of the year. Come back next week for our review of Star Wars #13, which will be the third part of Vader Down. And, let us know what you think of this issue in the comments below.

Music Pairing:
John Williams Imperial Death March, duh.