Author Archives: Justin Hickey

Up Up and Away

Well, we knew this day would come. I’m here today to sign off from The Four Color Opera and bring it to a cheerful close. Other creative pursuits beckon, and I’m happy to end this “comics diary” on a high-note. My super-sized thanks go to Open Letters Monthly for hosting while I explored, expounded upon–and [...]


Allow me to misremember where I first saw Russ Manning’s artwork. I’d say it was a Magnus, Robot Fighter cover–but not an original, from the 1963 Gold Key series. It would’ve been from the Valiant relaunch of the character in 1991, featuring Magnus (still dressed in the red miniskirt of a Beatles groupie) as he [...]

Forging Heaven and Earth

I want a Legion of Superheroes television show. I want Chameleon, Mon El, Cosmic Boy, Triplicate Girl–and about twenty-five others–fighting super villainy in the 31st Century, on my TV, in retina-scorching resolution. But I don’t want it now, with AMC’s genius The Walking Dead still in its stride. Not now, with Marvel Studios’ multi-phase Avengers [...]

Symphony in Stone

Don’t let the cover’s lethargic poses and crappy Hollywood logo fool you. Batman: The Scottish Connection is a superb graphic novel that showcases the transporting talents of artist Frank Quitely. From 1999, this brisk mystery (by Knightfall writer Alan Grant) had been out of print for years. It now lives in the Batman International trade [...]

Major ‘Tude Adjustment

Today, from the “How-Can-This-Be-Good?” file, we have Marvel’s 2007 miniseries Penance: Relentless. It spins out of the repulsively executed Civil War storyline, and stars former New Warriors mascot Robbie Baldwin. Surprisingly, despite the Clive Barker costume made of leather straps and spikes, Baldwin fascinates in this darker persona (though writer Paul Jenkins and artist Paul [...]

The Eggs That Never Hatched

I’m an Alien 3 apologist. I love David Fincher’s twitchy 1992 follow up to James Cameron’s epic Aliens (1986), despite its numerous flaws (scaled-down production, awful-looking puppetry, confusing chase sequences, and hyper-edited death scenes). I also love that Dark Horse had been producing amazing Aliens comics–eminently worth filming–throughout the late 1980s and early 90s. This [...]

Spandex Nouveau Heaven

On July 30th, The Four Color Opera will be exactly a year old! Celebrating this first birthday early, I’m finally posting about my all-time favorite artist, Stuart Immonen. He is, like many Canadian superstars (Tegan, Sara, and William Shatner come to mind), a hard-working talent whose career demonstrates thrilling evolution. I haven’t focused on him [...]

Mommy, Why Won’t the Bald Man Stop Talking?

That’s the awestruck child in me, asking louder and louder each month for writer Jason Aaron to conclude his endless epic in Thor: God of Thunder. It’s not that it isn’t well written, with poetry and action enough to outshine other runs on the character. And it definitely isn’t Esad Ribic’s spacious, ethereal artwork, which [...]

Cosmic Technicolor

The mid-2000s, before I craved fresh reading at every turn, were my dark ages. I hadn’t yet trained myself to try new comics, that weren’t Marvel or DC, just for the hell of it. Partially to blame must have been the deep, disastrous fall from excellence of The Authority. Money’s always a factor, too. Around [...]

A Merry Go ‘Round

About every ten years or so, a comic book artist of incredible vision and energy zooms through the ranks of talent to super-stardom. Currently, we have Stuart Immonen, whose inexhaustible versatility has made him the leading breadwinner in Marvel’s glowing stable. Before him, Jim Lee shaped readers’ tastes for a solid decade. And in the [...]