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4LN Movie Review: Wonder Woman

Since I was a kid, I have always loved the character of Wonder Woman and the story of Diana Prince, a beautiful princess who gives up all she knows to journey into man’s world and do her best to save man from himself. I remember being a little kid and my Aunt would babysit me and she would turn on the Linda Carter Wonder Woman show and we would eat ice cream and watch this show for what seemed like hours. This was my very first exposure to the character and my first taste of comic books. It wasn’t until Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and the rest of the Dark Knight Trilogy until I truly fell in love with superheroes, but Wonder Woman leads the groundwork for that passion. I can proudly say I’ve read every Wonder Woman comic over the last 5 years and was even lucky enough to interview a creative team working on the Wonder Woman comic, Meredith and David Finch.

I have spent years waiting for an incredible DC movie, and even longer waiting for a Wonder Woman movie, and I am beyond excited to say that Wonder Woman is the movie I’ve been eagerly anticipating, and the one that DC desperately needed. Batman v Superman & Suicide Squad left a lot to be desired from most fans and had quite a large amount of controversy surrounding them. But, Wonder Woman offers a new slate that was desperately needed. I believe if this Wonder Woman film premiered before Batman/Superman, DC wouldn’t have had as many problems as they have been having.

Wonder Woman is the first major film for director Patty Jenkins, who previously has directed a few TV shows, and the 2003 film Monster with Charlize Theron, which she won an Acadamy Award for in 2004.  Along with an academy award, the film also grossed over 4 times its budget making it quite the success, and showing that Patty Jenkins knows what she is doing. After watching this movie, I seriously couldn’t think of better director for this film.

I’m going to do my best to keep this a spoiler-free review, but be warned that there may be spoilers following this section

Image result for wonder woman movie

Official Synopsis from IMDb: “Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.”

From the moment this film starts, it doesn’t feel like your typical superhero movie, it’s 100% an origin story, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s an action-packed World War I movie, it’s about the innocence that’s lost by war, and it’s a film about true heroism. We are used to murders in alleys, bites from radioactive insects, super serum experiments, and aliens coming to Earth. The only superhero film I can compare this to is Thor, considering he leaves/is kicked out of Asgard and ends up in a small New Mexico town. But, there is something inherently different about Diana leaving Themyscira to journey into man’s world. There’s more valor and honor to it.

Patty Jenkins, along with screenwriter Allan Heinberg and producers Zack Snyder and Geoff Johns, did a fantastic job representing the difference between Paradise Island and the war-torn Europe. From the minute that Steve Trevor’s plane crashes on the island and German’s follow him into Paradise, we see the tone shift and colors change from bright and vibrant to dark and gritty. One of the biggest problems with Batman/Superman was the over saturated, gritty look of the film. Wonder Woman uses that darkness but also brings it to life in a way that the Batman/Superman team was never capable of.

One of the most unique and beautiful things about Wonder Woman is how Diana Prince looks flawless and the iconic Wonder Woman suit is 100% the focus, especially during battle. The color isn’t washed out or faded. If anything, Wonder Woman sticks out like a sore thumb when the battle rages in No Man’s Land and this makes her even more of a badass. While everyone around her is depicted in shades of gray, she’s brightly colored with reds, blues, and golds; as Wonder Woman should be.

The battle scenes are truly wonderful in this film, and it feels more like a Great War movie instead of a superhero film. Over the past year or two, I’ve talked with my fellow 4LN writer Stephen about how I fear the comic book movie bubble will burst soon. He always points to movies like Winter Soldier and Ant-Man because they are essentially just comic characters inside of genre films instead of strictly superhero movies. I can completely understand that now.

Diana has an innocence about her that makes the character unique compared to other caped crusaders, and this movie does an incredible job showing that innocence and its eventual loss caused by the horrors of war. At one point before Diana, Steve, and the rest of the crew make it to the front lines they pass a group of wounded, bloodied soldiers and you see the expression on Diana’s face drastically change. Gal Gadot sold that scene with nothing more than her eyes, similar to Johnny Depp’s work in Edward Scissorhands. There are quite a few times in the movie where Diana wants to save people but she must sadly come to the realization that not everyone can or will be saved in a time of need.

Everyone that was cast in this movie was a phenomenal pick from Gadot as Diana, Robin Wright as Antiope, Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Danny Huston as General Lundendorff and finally Elena Anaya as Doctor Poison. It’s no secret that Marvel has perfectly cast several times and there are many actors from their films who completely embody their respective characters, but I am excited and proud to say that DC has that now in Gal Gadot. She IS Diana Prince. She stole the show in every scene she was in during Batman/Superman and she is equally as mesmerizing in her own solo film. Along with Gadot, Lilly Aspell plays the young Diana and does an absolutely incredible job with her deliveries of comedic lines and her bravery and mischief that you would imagine the daughter of a queen having. The chemistry between Chris Pine and Gal Gadot was absolutely fantastic and captured the dynamic of their relationship in a fantastic way. Watching their relationship unfold felt just like reading one of the origin stories from the comics.

DC has always been asking the question of, “What if Superheroes existed in our world?” They’ve not done the most compelling job of exploring that idea up until now. With Wonder Woman, what they do instead is move outside of the box a little and use their characters to ask, “What if the Greek gods existed in our world?” and that is truly what makes Wonder Woman a unique superhero movie. Trevor and his crew completely understand that Wonder Woman is “not of this Earth,” but does that mean that gods such as Zeus, Aries, and Hera could also exist still? Or maybe they always have existed… With such a simple question DC will be able to easily continue and turn Wonder Woman into a franchise. Frankly, It’d be a crime if they didn’t, seeing as to how they’ve already laid solid groundwork for it here.

I don’t have to tell you that seeing a Wonder Woman is a must. Even if you’re unreasonably skeptical, deep down you know that it is as good as everyone says, and then some. The biggest concern for a lot of people was whether or not Wonder Woman would be a mess like the few DCCU films before it. The greatest failure therein would be to see such an empowering female character flop on the big screen. You can rest assured that worry dissipates within the first 10 minutes of the film. So, you have no more excuses. Get your ass to the theater right now and watch the best damn comic movie this year.

4LN Podcast, Episode 4: Do The Big 2 Just Not Cut It Anymore?

This week we discuss the differences in tone of story & content between The Big 2 and independent/creator-owned comics. Specifically, I share why, for the most part, I just can’t get emotionally invested in Marvel and DC comics anymore, and how that’s helped me fall more in love with lower-profile series’. How about you? Do the superhero stories of characters like Batman and Captain America just not do it for you? Let us know in the comments!

4LN Movie Review – Suicide Squad

It seems the ever-growing divide between audiences and film critics is hitting it’s apex in 2016. I mean, never before have so many films been stamped worthy or unworthy before they even released, but this year it seems like almost every movie was prejudged before audiences could even vote with their dollars. No one has felt the pain of this divide more than DC/Warner Bros, as evident by the controversy that Suicide Squad has become. Earlier this week the review embargo dropped and the internet was flooded with negative opinions of the film. I literally only read one positive review before I saw the film myself. So, was it really *that* bad? Is it the worst movie of the year? Is it more of a cinematic abomination than last years Fantastic Four, as Vanity Fair suggested? The answer, confidently, is NO, it’s no where near that bad. Nothing is. (And the Vanity Fair reviewer must’ve had a serious bout of constipation when he saw the film because his article is unnecessarily cruel and could only have been written by someone so painfully full of shit.)

Suicide Squad broke the August record for a Thursday night opening of a film, by a lot. Based on the reviews, a lot of people are surprised by this. I am not. DC and WB stacked it with an eclectic cast, and spent a lot of time hyping it to the Hot Topic demographic and it paid off. Their character designs are perfect for marketing, as you can see with the deluge of t-shirts and other swag for sale everywhere. Even the soundtrack takes a rifle shot right at the mainstream. I mean, with the likes of Rick Ross and Lil Wayne you lock down the hip-hop crowd, and then add Twenty One Pilots and Panic! At the Disco, both whom are selling out concerts this summer, and I think you can start to see my point. They knew just what they were doing when they planned out the marketing strategy. They did however, forget to structure a cohesive film for which all of this marketing would hinge on…

“But Stephen, I thought you said it wasn’t that bad?” You’re right, I did say that, and it’s not. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a little-to-medium bad. The first hour is especially confusing and hard to follow. The film opens with backstories on Deadshot and Harley that are nice but feel like they’re a little hurried so as to get them over with. Once the team is put together they’re sent off on a mission that just so conveniently turns out to have been caused by someone who was supposed to be one of them. The majority of the film is just the team on this one mission. I was a little surprised that it went that direction, but it makes sense when you consider David Ayer’s film style. See, what he does best are linear action movies with intimate drama and lots of gunfire. He typically has a couple main characters and then maybe three crucial supporting characters. Here, there’s like five main characters and 87 supporting ones. All the “David Ayer” elements are here, but they’re in a movie with a much bigger scope than he’s shot within in the past and it feels like the whole thing gets away from him a little bit. For that reason, I don’t think you could really call this a “David Ayer’s film”, but that’s sort of what you sacrifice when you take on a franchise I guess. Hey, in his defense, he’s at least not as empty as Zack Snyder. That dude cannot make a movie with substance, or emotions that feel natural. Ayer can do that. He has a good cast and he gets good performances out of them, with some decent emotion, even though it’s stretched thin across so many characters.

Despite the confusing plot lines and mostly mediocre story, the cast is actually phenomenal. I think the sense of camaraderie that Ayer strongly attempts to instill in his actors shows through. Everyone seems to have a genuine connection and performs very well. Rather than trying to talk about everyone, though, I’ll just focus on some of the standouts.

Viola Davis is fantastic as Amanda Waller, the woman responsible for creating the team in the first place. She completely embodies the nature of the character and might possibly give the best, most natural performance in the whole film. I’m a fan of Joel Kinnaman and I felt like he did a great job as Rick Flagg, who is in charge of keeping the team together. Flagg is a military man and Kinnaman gives a solid performance. One of the standouts I felt was Jai Courtney as Digger Harkness / Captain Boomerang. He brings an off-beat sense of humor to the film that’s not the same as the other funny moments. It’s different than when Harley says something bizarrely crazy or when Deadshot makes a funny quip. Without him, the film could’ve been a lot more boring. Bringing to the table what is definitely the darkest personal drama of the team is Jay Hernandez as Chato Santana / El Diablo, the man who makes and controls fire. Hernandez portrays Diablo’s inner conflict well. He wants to stay out of the fight for personal reasons, but he clearly knows how easily his ability could decimate the enemy they face.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jared Leto’s Joker and actually wished their has been more of him. He wasn’t quite as much like the “Death of the Family” Joker that I was hoping for, but I see that potential in him. Margot Robbie is a good Harley Quinn, but after Amanda Conner’s and Jimmy Palmiotti’s incredible run on the character in her self-titled comic series, it’s hard to see her as emotionally out-of-control as she comes across in the film. I mean, yes, she’s crazy. Yes, she’s clever. But she’s also deceptively intelligent, and… I… I just struggled with this version of Harley a little. I didn’t hate it, I just feel like Conner and Palmiotti have written Harley in a manner that depicts her in control of herself and her own sexuality and I’m not entirely sure I can say that this Harley is. However, this is an earlier moment in the timeline of that character whereas that comic series takes place much later in her life so I hope that as we see more of her in films she starts to evolve into that strong, more mentally and emotionally in control woman she’s become in the comics.

In a perfect world, this movie would’ve cut the cast by about 5 people, one of those being The Enchantress who’s involvement just takes away from the greatness it could’ve been, and been shortened to about an hour and a half. To it’s credit, it’s nowhere near as boring as Batman V Superman. It may be messy and confusing, but at least it has enough going on to keep you interested. I would say the difference is… BvS was disappointing, but Suicide Squad just never fully achieves its potential. There are some really great moments too. Leto’s Joker is petty creepy, and many of the action sequences are really exciting. It’s worth watching for sure. I even hope that they can make a sequel because there’s so many more great characters that you can use in the Suicide Squad (*cough* Deathstroke and King Shark *cough*). I just think that the next one needs to be a little more focused and less shotgun-like. Much like the team itself, this film tries to hit multiple targets at once but just falls a tad short.

DC Rebirth, Captain America, and Other Possible Changes To Your Favorite Comics

Warning: Spoilers Ahead. Read At Your Own Risk

This New Comic Book Day has brought about many revelations to comic readers. Apparently, Steve Rogers is, and always has been(?), an agent of Hydra (Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016-) #1) and the reason for DC Comics’ reboot (DC Universe: Rebirth (2016) #1) is explained as being the result of some villainous(?) actions by the Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan. (Also, the Joker has really been 3 different people?) Should we really be surprised by this stuff though? I mean, pretty much nothing these two publishers have done with comics in the last few years has made much sense. There have been so many continuity inconsistencies and character changes. Nuke was dead, and then he miraculously and inexplicably… wasn’t. Falcon is Captain America. Lobo isn’t actually Lobo, Deathstroke de-aged, Jane Foster is Thor, etc. etc. (With the one exception being X-23 as the new Wolverine. That actually makes all of the sense.) It’s a wonder they don’t just come right out and say, “Yeah… we just want your money, we really don’t care about the characters or maintaining cohesive plots and stories.” Obviously, with the new Cap and Rebirth being #1 issues, there are plenty of places the stories could go and we”ll just have to see how it all plays out, but it got me to thinking… what other big changes could potentially be on the horizon for our beloved comic characters? Here are my speculations on what we might see in the future of the Marvel and DC comic book universes.


Galactus has been Daryl Hannah from the remake of Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman this whole time.


Killer Croc will discover that he actually has some alligator in his family ancestry and it will shake him to his emotional core.


Power Girl has actually been a drag queen all this time. (Consequently, millions of neckbeard fanboys are forced to reevaluate their sexual identity.)


Uncle Ben faked his death and became Uatu the Watcher (who was subsequently also murdered…)


Frank Castle begins seeking anger management therapy and, after finding a more fulfilling life in organized religion, decides to hang up his Punisher skull to take on a new moniker… The Youth Pastor.


Poison Ivy discovers that there has been a poison ivy cure for like ever and changes her name to Poison Oak. Zatanna starts to tell her that this also has a cure but is quickly stopped by Catwoman who urges her to “just let it happen.”


H.E.R.B.I.E., the Fantastic Four’s faithful robot… Servant? Sidekick? (Sex Toy…?), is revealed to be the driving force behind infamous government-intelligence-secrets leakers Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.


Doctor Doom forgets to renew his medical licence and is henceforth known as “Grumpy McMetalface.”


Aunt May, Martha Kent, Peggy Carter, and Frigga the All-Mother begin living together in a condo in Florida (yes, like the Golden Girls) and it becomes the highest and fastest selling comic book of all-time.


Unable to go on fighting crime due to succumbing to crippling scurvy, Batman is forced to retire and choose a replacement who can go on protecting the city of Gotham. In a delusional state, and with no one close to stop him, Bruce chooses 8 raccoons to succeed him as Batman. That’s right, just 8 raccoons in a Batsuit. One to work each arm, one to work each leg, one to work the head, and three in the torso, mostly for load bearing but also because an empty abdomen area would be a dead giveaway during fistfights. (Follow up: The raccoon’s turn out to be an even better Dark Knight than Bruce and Gotham actually becomes a city of flourishing promise for awhile, but then ultimately is brought down again because of gentrification, which, let’s be honest, not even 8 raccoons in a Batsuit can stop.


Now, I’m not saying that ALL of these things will happen, but it’s 100% likely that at least 90% of them will. I guess we’ll just have to keep shoveling our cash into Marvel’s and DC’s pockets until all is revealed. Now, get out to your local comic shop and pick up some comics! While we’re worshiping The Big Two with our monetary offerings, how about grabbing some indie publisher comics too! You can pick up new issues of great series like East of West, Tokyo Ghost, and Bloodshot Reborn, as well as trades for Symmetry, Ninjak, and Day Men!

4LN’s Favorite TV Shows of 2015

2015 was a big year for TV. From the return of Kevin Spacey as everyone’s favorite cunning and crooked politician, President Frank Underwood, in House of Cards, to the debut of what appears to be everyone’s new favorite tattooed darling, Jane Doe (played by the beautiful and infinitely talented Jaimie Alexander) from NBC’s new #1 hit show Blindspot. There was the widely discussed (and argued about) new season of Game of Thrones, as well as the end of brilliant dramas Mad Men and Parenthood. Read on to see what shows were at the top of our “Must Watch” lists this year!


Jeff Merrick

Game of Thrones
It was an Emmy award winning year for my favorite show, and with good reason. Not everyone agrees with my belief that Season 5 was better than the previous season, but I much preferred each story arc moving at a consistent pace instead of the Season 4 structure that relied on big moments to keep us interested while characters spent the rest of the time doing nothing.

This season also produced “Hardhomme” (episode 8), one of the best episodes the show has ever done, and another jaw dropping moment at its conclusion, the kind viewers of Game of Thrones have come to expect.

Better Call Saul
If you were a fan of “Breaking Bad,” then you must start following this prequel series (assuming you haven’t already) that aired its first season in 2015 about the lawyer who laundered all that money for Walt and Jessie.

The style that made “Breaking Bad” one of the greatest (if not the greatest) shows of all time is maintained throughout the ten episode season. Of course, Bob Odenkirk owns the role of Saul (or Jimmy McGill as he’s called at this point in his life). But the highlight of the season is Jonathan Bank’s portrayal of Mike Ehrmantraut, the enforcer for Gus Fring and Walter White on “Breaking Bad.” The episode presenting Mike’s backstory during “Better Call Saul’s” first season was one of the best hours of television in 2015.

Saul (Bob Odenkirk) and Mike (Jonathan Banks) were one of the top duos on television in 2015.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tina Fey’s Netflix original about a woman adjusting to modern life after spending the last fifteen years living underground was the best comedy of 2015. The comedic commentary on modern trends, a staple of Fey’s productions, raises its game to a higher level than even “30 Rock” was able to do. Ellie Kemper (who’s previously known for playing Erin Hannon on the Office) gives her breakthrough performance as a lead actress with her portrayal of Kimmy. And Kemper’s chemistry with her costars (Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, Jane Krakowski) paints a surprisingly accurate picture of how a person overcoming her situation would handle it while keeping us laughing all the way through the journey.


Bill Clark

I’m a DC guy. The comics AND the shoes. I like to buy mine from Shoe Carnival because they have such good deals! I buy my comics from Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million though. They also have such good deals! Anyway, I was really excited when Supergirl came out cause there’s never been a TV show that focused only on a female super hero and I felt it was about dang time! Melissa Benoist plays Kara/Supergirl and she’s just fantastic! My only complaint, and it’s really a small one, is that she’s almost TOO pretty. I really wish there wasn’t such an emphasis on looks and status cause I feel it takes away from the characters personalities. Like, why can’t Supergirl have like a big birthmark on her face, and a limp or something. Maybe she’s even in a Hoveround and does her superheroing in between renting movies from the library and selling little dolls she makes out of cardboard toilet paper rolls and yarn at the Farmer’s Market. I’m just saying, I’d watch the hell outta that show.




I’m sad because this one recently got canceled and I really loved it. I’m not married so I didn’t really relate to most of it, but it was still really funny. Also, it had Judy Greer and she really grinds my gears. I used that correctly right? I’m trying to say I think she’s really pretty and when I look at her I get a funny feeling in my body. I’m sorry. I’m really getting off-track. I’ll try to get back on. Ok… so it’s about this married couple and Judy Greer is the wife and this one episode she was in some lingerie and I was really happy about that. Darnit! I did it again. I promise I’m not objectifying her or anything. I just really appreciate her and respect her as a sexy…  I mean TALENTED actress. Ah! Good grief. Just… If you like funny shows then you should watch this one. I have to go Google some stuff.


I’ve never been to Fargo, North Dakota and after watching this show I’m not sure I want to. People keep getting murdered up there! I certainly don’t want to get murdered so I think I’ll just stick to watching this exciting crime show. It’s a little confusing because none of the actors from the first season (Billy Bob Thornton, Bilbo Baggins, and Tom Hanks’ son) are back this season and I’m a little lost but I sure as heck still love it! This time around it’s got Kristen Dundst, Todd from Breaking Bad, and one of the guys from Cheers. I’ve never seen Cheers but I asked Stephen Andrew about it and he just threw an empty whisky bottle at me and muttered something about the boxer Joe Frasier, so I assume it’s about drinking and boxing. Also, someone told me that this show was based on a movie from a while back but I went to a couple Redbox kiosks and didn’t see it so I think they were messing with me.


Stephen Andrew

I watch all the comic book shows. I mean, this site is called “Four Letter Nerd” so you’d pretty much expect that right? I even pretty much really enjoy all of them. The Flash started very strong and has been extremely consistent throughout. Gotham and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. both had rocky moments but I think they’ve both found their way with very precise direction. Oh, and if you haven’t picked up iZombie, you are sincerely missing out on some fantastic television. Then along comes good ol’ Netflix and their partnership with Marvel.  First up: Daredevil. A character that by all logic shouldn’t work in this medium of entertainment. But I’ll be damned if this show didn’t absolutely redeem Matty Murdock and his superpower of being blind some of the time. In fact, that’s one of the things that makes the show such a success. They never tried to pull the whole “he’s got sonar vision” crap. I’m looking at you, Daredevil movie from 2003. Another thing that makes it stand out is how relentlessly brutal it is. Like, in one scene,  Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk (Kingpin) liquefies a dude’s head with a car door. A F**KING CAR DOOR. The action and the fight scenes are top notch, with some brilliant martial arts choreography. Plus, it really set the bar for what comic book shows, specifically super hero shows, have the potential to be. Gritty and dark. Daredevil doesn’t pull punches, and that’s exactly what we needed. Speaking of not pulling punches…

Jessica Jones
It wasn’t really long we had to wait for the second installment of the Netflix/Marvel shows (which will continue with Luke Cage and Iron Fist, before bringing all 4 heroes together in a Defenders mini-series). When I first heard that they were doing a Jessica Jones show, I thought, “Surely there are better known, and more well-deserving female characters that they could include here.” Well I happily ate those words after only about 5 minutes into the show. Because season 1 of Jessica Jones is best season of a comic book/super hero show that I have ever watched. The story is intense, it paces perfectly, and the acting performances are fantastic. For me, there’s no better villain than David Tenant’s Kilgrave, The Purple Man. He was just so despicably and deplorably captivating. There are moments where they give you backstory that almost, not quite but almost, make you feel sorry for him, and then it’s right back into “oh no this guy is a walking bag of rabid ferrets”. The star of the show, Krysten Ritter, is flawless. She perfectly captures the cold, hardened attitude of Jessica while also showing us those vulnerabilities that she doesn’t even want to have, let alone allow people see. If you haven’t watched it yet then you need to go right now and start. Netflix killed it with this one. Speaking of Netflix and killing…


Making a Murderer
That may seem like a cheesy transition to you guys but I’ve had a couple shots of whiskey and so it’s probably the peak of my creativity at this point. (If you skipped my other entries and are just reading this one, then you missed a whole thing and you’re gonna need to go back and get caught up. We’ll wait…) Anyway, back to the business at hand.

THIS SHOW IS THE MOST COMPELLING THING I’VE WATCHED IN I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG. Sorry. The caps lock was stuck. But that doesn’t make the urgency of the above sentence any less crucial. Making a Murder is a 10 part documentary series that I binged watched in an entire day. Dead serious. I was that enthralled. I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll just post the Wikipedia summary.

Making a Murderer is an American web television series which first streamed on Netflix on December 18, 2015. The first season recounts the story of Steven Avery, a man who was imprisoned for sexual assault and attempted murder, and who was later exonerated, only to be subsequently accused of the murder of Teresa Halbach. The series was filmed over the course of ten years, with the creators moving back and forth from New York to Wisconsin during filming

I’ve never had a TV show, or a documentary for that matter, have me so compelled and infuriated at the same time. It really coveys what type of corruption and injustice can fester when small town law enforcement and judicial systems function without appropriate accountability.

If you don’t have Netfilx but you’re interested, you can watch the first episode on YouTube. I urge you to at least give it a chance to grab your attention. If you get sucked in you’ll be on one crazy, real-life roller coaster.

4LN Comic Review: The Dark Knight III: Master Race #1

Series: The Dark Knight III: Master Race
Writer(s): Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
Pencils: Andy Kubert and Frank Miller
Inks: Klaus Janson
Page Count: 54


Summary from Comixology: “The epic ending you never saw coming is here because you demanded it! The Dark Knight rises again to face the dawn of the master race!”

I have been waiting for this comic for such a long time now. The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One are two of the most influential comics I have ever read. If it wasn’t for Frank Miller, I wouldn’t have the passion for comics that I have today. I’m a total Miller fanboy, I even love All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder, and that is just a clusterf*ck of a comic. Besides my love for Miller, I am also a huge fan of Brian Azzarello, (If you haven’t read 100 Bullets or his run on Wonder Woman you are missing out) because he does such a great job writing gritty crime stories, and him paired with Miller, is a perfect team. What’s nice about having Azzarello on the book is he’ll be able to tone down some of the craziness that is Frank Miller. The book has a $5.99 sticker price, but for anyone familiar with the impact Miller has had on Batman, this is a book you need to get.

It’s great to see Miller, Kubert, and Janson working on a book in 2015. This was a team that dominated the comic book world in the 80’s and to see them working together 30 years later is really impressive. The book itself has that 80’s feel to it, but also has a modern vibe, so the creative team did a fantastic job capturing the feel of their original work. The art work is fantastic and beautifully drawn, and the colors look absolutely fantastic. The scene involving Wonder Woman and the Centaur really caught me off guard, because I wasn’t expecting to see Wonder Woman as a mother, or breastfeeding either. Over the years Frank has gotten tons of flack for how he has handled and depicted women in his comics, but honestly this seems to be a major improvement in how he will write women in comics. (Before anyone jumps on me for being a misogynist for defending Miller, I’ll just leave this here: Equality Now )

One of the things I wasn’t a fan of was the beginning of the comic. The dialogue was a little difficult to follow, mostly because it was written in text messaging short hand, such as “i Cn him” and “fu the bat b back, squid” I don’t know why DC has been using text shorthand recently, but I’m not a fan of it (see Superman: American Alien). I felt this took away from the comic, and it honestly took me a few tries reading it to understand what was being said. I think another thing that is going to bother people will be the interactions between Batman and police officers. Honestly, Batman just beats the shit out of some officers, and then they beat the shit out of Batman (ACAB), and the issue ends with a bit of a twist.


This issue set up a lot of groundwork, but answered zero questions that you might have involving the series. The first issue of this series leaves you wanting more, and that’s what the first issue of any mini series should do. I also want to state that this issue, might be my favorite cover of the year. It’s so simple, but you immediately recognize it. The sticker price is a little much, because DC knows people will buy this no matter if it was $3.99 or $7.99, so I guess the price could be worse, but issue #2 is also slated at $5.99, I’m worried each issue will be the same price, and that just seems greedy on DC’s part. But, with all this being said, if you are a Batman fan, or a fan of Frank Miller this series will be a must have for your collection, and the epic conclusion to one of the most critically acclaimed Batman series ever told.

Music Pairing:
Lets offend some people. Batman beats up cops, and cops beat up Batman. So, for this music pairing I present 1980’s Texan punk band MDC (Millions of Dead Cops), and their song No More Cops.

An Open Apology Letter to Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and ROBO-BAT-BUNNY

Scott & Greg,

Back in, I believe it was March or April, when the news came out that Batman as we’ve known him for so long, was about to change drastically under your direction, I responded… mockingly. I was never furious or even a little bit angry, I just thought the whole concept was stupid and ridiculed it pretty much every chance I got. “Batman’s gonna be a robot? So… he’s Batbot now?” It seemed like the most ridiculous thing in the world. I’ll admit I got into the Batman game a little late, but I quickly became a big fan fan of this series. After I finally binge-read the first few story arcs I was hooked. With The Court of Owls/City of Owls story, and then Death of the Family, how could I not be? The stories you crafted around Batman got progressively darker and more intriguing. Then along comes Zero Year (Secret City/Dark City), which pit a (mostly) gadget-less Batman against my favorite Bat-villain, The Riddler. I loved that story so much because I like seeing Bruce have to outsmart a villain rather than “outgun” them. To me, that solidifies his earned title of “World’s Greatest Detective”, and you did a fantastic job showing that side of him.

With very little information, and only the one picture of the ROBO-BAT-BUNNY suit to go off of, I was committed to swearing off of Batman for the foreseeable future. I muttered sarcastically, “Batman’s not a f***ing robot”, probably more than a countable number of times. And then came the news that Jim Gordon was gonna be Batman… What?!?! Don’t get me wrong, I know that other people have been “Batman” before, and that it’s not necessarily who’s under the mask as it is what they do with the responsibility, but GORDON? That seemed even more asinine than Batbot. From there it was, “Of course it’s a robot Batman suit, because Jim Gordon is an old man and would get decimated if he just put on the cape and cowl and swung around the city fighting crime.” I imagined his first few criminal encounters going poorly, with him having to stop and to take his blood pressure medicine in the middle of a fight, or rolling up to McDonald’s in the Batmobile to order a senior coffee.

Well, I was 100% wrong…

The first thing I read was the mini-story in the Divergence book, from Free Comic Book Day. After reading that I thought to myself, “Huh… Maybe there’s more to this than I though.” I figured I’d at least give issue #41 a read, just so I could cling to a small bit of pretentiousness and see if you proved me right, that it was a completely terrible idea from concept to implementation.

“Shit… it’s really good.” – me, after reading issue #41.

And it WAS really good. I got a better understanding of the story you guys are telling and, after reading issue #42, I am hooked to the story you’re telling. I’m also very impressed with how self-aware this series is. You gentlemen have handled people’s skepticism with polite levelheadedness, and it shows in these first couple of issues. Normally when the nature of a character is altered, the creative team does their best to force their vision of the character on the readers, rather than just write a compelling story that shows why the change is a good thing and why that character has earned that role. You haven’t done that at all. Jim is just as skeptical as everyone else, probably even more so, and you use that to your advantage. Never once have you forcefully tried to make us accept him as the new Batman. Instead, you’re giving us reasons why he’s right for the job, and proving to us that he’s more than earned our trust throughout the years by being the kind of person who is realistic, yet hopeful.

(WARNING: Potential Minor Batman #42 Spoilers Ahead!)

I may be just interpreting this how I see it but this is what I’m picking up on:

Seeing Jim in a situation where he’s a playing-fully-by-the-book Batman is fascinating. For law enforcement, Bruce as Batman was always this, “Yeah, he’s a vigilante, but he’s working along side us?” Now we’re seeing what it’s like for to Batman to be a component of law enforcement, to actually attempt to work within the full limitations of the justice system, and that’s something that Bruce was always just barely on the other side of. It’s not like Dick Grayson or Jean-Paul Valley donning the Batsuit. This is a whole new moral dynamic. What does Batman do if he has to fully cooperate with the police force and can’t navigate that grey area he’s so used to? That’s f***ing brilliant.

Additionally, adding the dynamic of Powers Corp, bringing the idea of a Batman pretty much being owned by a corporation, is so compelling. I mean, arguably, Wayne Enterprises has sort of owned Batman from the beginning, I suppose, but Bruce owned Wayne Ent. so this is still a really interesting new direction. Batman having to be Batman under the watchful eye of both the government AND the private sector. It’s made me realize how Jim really was the perfect person for the job. After years having to navigate the tumultuous sea of politics as a leader in the GCPD, he’s best mentally equipped to field the bullshit he’s likely to encounter as a corporate-owned, government regulated Batman.

Also, Jim does look pretty bad-ass in that new Batsuit.

I stand before you now (you know, metaphorically) a changed man. I have seen the light. I am the neckbearded Saul to Paul conversion to your Robo-Bat-Jesus. I realize now that you were never changing Batman just to turn things upside down only for the sake of doing so. You genuinely have a deep concept in play here, and even the people who blindly supported this idea couldn’t have imagined how riveting it would be.

I’m a fanboy, and I’m a dick about it a lot of times, but I’m not beneath admitting when I’m wrong and changing my ideas. Pretty much all of of the time us fanboys and fangirls can be mercilessly cruel and even those of us who muster enough humility to admit they were wrong will probably only do so quietly and never tell anyone. I can only imagine how frustrating our fickleness can be for creators. When we love you, we’ll worship you like gods. When we dislike you, we come with torches and demand that you be crucified. Even though that was nowhere near the attitude I had about ROBO-BAT-BUNNY, from a fan to creators, I’m sorry that we do that. You, and your art, be it stories or pictures, don’t deserve that. If we don’t like it we can just, you know, not buy it. There are those of us who let our devotion to these fictional characters dictate how we live our sad, lonely lives and that’s not your problem, it’s ours.

I humbly apologize to you both for not practicing what I preach and being more open-minded early on. I, often self-righteously, expect open-mindedness from people and in this case I failed to live up to the standard I hold others to. I appreciate the work you’re doing on Batman. It’s been the single best New52 book from the very beginning and you’re keeping that momentum alive in this new era of Batman.

(P.S. – Look, don’t shit the bed on this in the next few issues though cause if you think for one second I won’t write a retraction to my apology to save face you are dead wrong.)

4LN Comic Review: Batman #42

Series: Batman
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inks: Danny Miki
Colors: Francisco Perez
Page Count: 28


Summary from Comixology: “More surprises around every corner as the all-new Batman hits the streets of Gotham City!”

A lot of people have been really quick to write this book off. I’ve heard of, and know people, who have dropped the book entirely because they despised the idea of Batman not being Bruce, and the Robo-Bat-Bunny suit had a little to do with that… But, this isn’t Scott Snyder’s first time writing a Batman story where Bruce Wayne isn’t under the cowl. One of my favorite Batman stories is Snyder’s The Black Mirror, which stars Dick Grayson as Batman, following the events of 2008’s Final Crisis. It’s very important to remember when reading this, that there will always be a need for Batman, but the symbol can come in many different ways, shapes and forms.


I am actually not picking up my books until Saturday, but I couldn’t not read this book, so I picked it up via comixology and I loved this issue from the first page. The first page is two kids arguing about what Batman is. One kid is holding a typical Batman figure, while the other is holding the Robo-Bat, and they are both arguing that their version of Batman is better. I kid you not, we have had this argument in the 4LN thread COUNTLESS times since the new story was announced. In issue #41 the creative team added a couple jabs at fan comments about how stupid the idea was, and in issue #42, we have a scene that reflects perfectly how the fans are feeling about this change. It’s great to see a creative team that are self-aware and can poke fun of the situation.
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As I have said in every Batman review, you can’t get better then this creative team. Snyder and Capullo are the only original creative team on a DC book since New 52 launched, and I think that says volumes about their work. Every issue they have put out, has been top notch, and the suspense, horror, and adrenaline has always left you on the edge of your seat. And this issue, is no exception of the rule. Jim is struggling with what being Batman means, and how to think like the Bat. He is facing his first major enemy, a chinese crime lord who has the power to control any material used to build buildings. This causes the crime lord to turn Gotham into a living weapon, that JimBat must out think. In this issue we also get a name drop of the mastermind behind a radioactive cyinide “seed” created by Mr. Bloom, who has been placed on the cover of Batman #43.

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With the surprise on the last page, and the mention of a Slender Man like villain, Mr. Bloom, things are sure to get intense in the coming issues. If you wrote of this series because of the weirdness or new direction, I urge you, and please trust me, pick up this book and issue #41. You are not going to want to miss what’s about to happen. And just remember, the idea and symbol that is Batman can come in many different shapes, and forms.


Music Pairing:
For this issue you need something brooding and intense. And for that, there is only one name that comes to mind. Hans Zimmer. He did the score for Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, along with every other Nolan movie, and that feel goes perfectly with this book. Jam Gotham’s Reckoning while reading this issue.

Man of Steel: In Color

The blockbuster superhero film, Man Of Steel, received a lot of criticism with how dark and grainy the film was. Heavily borrowing from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, Zack Snyder’s film showed a much darker version of DC’s beloved Superman. A version that I personally loved because it brought a much loved character into modern cinema, but many fans and critics felt very different.

YouTube page, VideoLab, actually edited the film by bring up a brighter contrast and adding more colors, and honestly, it looks like a completely different film. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing the entire film in a much brighter contrast, after all, “Superman should fly in bright blue skies, not grey ones.”

Check out Man of Steel: In Color and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: The Tough Decision To Leave A Comic Shop

Once you start collecting comics for a while, you’ll find one shop that you really click well with. And, if you are lucky you’ll even begin to form a  friendship with the store owner(s), staff and regular comic readers that frequent that store from time to time. I was eventually lucky enough to find an amazing store that treated me great. I had initially heard hundreds of horror stories about how some comic shop owners would just be absolute dicks to their new and sometimes even returning costumers and unfortunately found one of these stores when I first began collecting 5 years ago. Let me tell you, it was a great escape to get away from them. The staff didn’t give two shits about you and they really didn’t even care about their jobs. I remember asking once where some back issues of Uncanny X-Men were and the guy at the counter just pointed to the boxes and boxes and boxes of comics and said “In there.” I grew to realize that this wasn’t the shop for me. I feel like it will be fair to mention that this store doesn’t just focus on comic books, but rather Vinyl, CD’s, posters, video games and other collectibles, so this is why they couldn’t be bothered to help me.


Representation of the staff at said comic store

After looking around some more, and doing research on local stores, I found the one that was perfect for me. It wasn’t a hole in the wall shop, it was of pretty decent size, and it had everything I could want in a store. Shelves of new comic books, what seemed like thousands of graphic novels and even Magic: The Gathering cards other forms of table top games. It was not uncommon for me to come into the store and see the owner playing cards with a customer, or teaching someone how to play for the first time. I think it took a month of me coming to this store weekly, before I set up a pull box. After setting up a pull box, it only took another month for the staff to learn my name, and not soon after that I was allowed to go behind the counter and grab my own books out of the pull. Occasionally, I would find a book in my pull that I hadn’t asked for, but this would be in there because the staff thought this might be a book I would be interested in. It was the little things like that, that really made me love this store. I was at this store for a good 4 years, and the experience was great.


Not long after we started Four Letter Nerd, Stephen found a little comic shop that he REALLY loved, and wouldn’t stop raving about. He was a pullbox holder at the first shop I mentioned, and he immediately dropped his pull there and started one at this new place.  I ventured over to this shop and I really enjoyed it as well, but I was in an awkward situation. I have been with one comic shop for 4 years and we really knew each other, and then all of a sudden there is a new shop in the picture. One that is unknown, it can be a new experience, its almost exotic. I say all of this because a comic shop is a lot like a boyfriend or girlfriend, especially if you have been patronizing one for a while. Deep down, I knew things were going to potentially become awkward. I decided I wanted the best of both worlds, so I made the decisions to get my DC books at “the old store” and then my Marvel and Image books at “the new store.” This meant I had to drop a few books at the old store, and saying I was dropping a good hunk of my books was no easy task.

When I went to the new shop to start a pull, I was treated like I was a long time friend, even though I had only known the guys at this store for a little more then a week or so. I started my pull with just a few books; Thor: God of Thunder, All New X-Men, Guardians of The Galaxy, and The Amazing Spider-Man. This shop had a 5 book minimum, but they let me just have a couple books because they knew that I frequented another shop. It wasn’t much longer until I formed a solid friendship with one of the store owners and exchanged numbers (Man, this does look like a cheating on a relationship now) and soon I found myself texting the owner about any and all books that I was interested in. Now, he would never say this, but I’m pretty sure he regrets giving me his number. I can be a pretty clingy person. Now, as time passed, this store began to work more and more with our website, until finally we decided to host a trivia night at a local pizza joint the night that Captain America: Winter Solider opened, and they gave us a SHIT TON of prizes to give away including variant cover comics, graphic novels, posters and a few other nick-nacks. This might have been the deciding factor, well this and having to make two separate trips to comic book shops. This took a toll on time and resources trying to balance the two shops.


Now came the hardest part. I realized with the friendship I was forming with the staff that I was going to have to make a tough decision. I could either keep going to two shops and getting books on Wednesdays and Fridays or I had to sever ties with one of the stores. This was a serious hard decision, somewhere in the depths of the 4LN group thread I proposed the question and everyone said I should move my pull to the new shop. Now, this may have been biased because one guy works at the shop and another has a pull there. But nonetheless, I knew what I had to do. I had to break it off with the old store. And this terrified me. I had gone to this store every Wednesday for the last 4 years, and I have been dating my girlfriend for 3 and a half years. Let that sink in for a minute. I’VE BEEN WITH A COMIC SHOP LONGER THAN I’VE BEEN WITH MY GIRLFRIEND. After tossing the idea around for a month or so, I knew it was time to cancel my pull with the old shop. Now, I was prepared to stick with it for as long as the shop required. The owner of the new shop told me to stick with it for at least 90 days because that’s how far in advance stores typically put their orders in for book. As I drove to the shop, I called my best friend Eric to fill him in on the situations, now he’s not much of a comic fan but he would be a listening ear as I vented about the approaching “breakup.” The minute I filled him in on it, he couldn’t stop laughing about why I had called. But I needed to talk this though with someone. I had to have someone reassure me that it was “them and not me.”

I walked into the store and a bunch of the regulars & friends of mine were sitting around a table discussing this weeks new comics. I walked up to the owner, I knew he would be there on New Comics Wednesday, and told him I would have to be canceling my pull. I was bracing myself for the worse of the worse situations, I had heard horror stories about people canceling their boxes and the workers being dicks about this. I luckily did not have this experience, the owner of the store shook my hand, thanked me for 4 great years, reassured me that I was always welcomed, and when I bought my last pull of books the owner still gave me my 20% off.  That was a surprise that I am still grateful for. I drove over to the new store and added at least 10 books to my pull and I couldn’t be happier. I miss the old store at times, and I still haven’t been back because it feels to soon. But, I know when I return that I’ll be welcomed back with open arms. The owner of the new store even sold me some old comics I have been searching for out of his private collection for a killer deal. Yes, this was one of the hardest comic book dilemmas I have been involved in, both parties handled it so well and made the transition so much easier for me. And for that, I want to personally thank Comix City Too! for 4 great years of collection, and Comic Collector Live for many more years of collecting.