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Four Letter Worlds
Review by Kerry Garvin

Four Letter Worlds Review: Cover Image
Four Letter Worlds


Image Comics
Softcover Anthology
Publish Date
March 2005
Cover Price
Rarely do I come across an idea so unique and wonderful that I wish I had not only thought of it first, but had locked it away in a secret lab allowing me enough time to patent and copyright it in order to stave off any potential of it being stolen and used by someone else. I would complete this process before unleashing my brilliant idea into the world to unmatched fanfare, glory and celebration. Image Comics has released one such idea in the form of Four Letter Worlds. The good news is they decided to use the power of this 16 story anthology for good rather than evil.

The idea that Four Letter Worlds embodies is to take a crew of 27 talented comic writers and artists and have them create stories that fit into a precise four letter word theme. There are four stories under each theme: love, hate, fear, and fate. Each story is then titled with another four letter word. Stories include Lust, Funk, Loss, Cool, and Hype.

Image and its crew cover a lot in this book’s brief 144 pages. It feels like the reader gets a much bigger volume due to the quality and amount of stories here. Although each story clocks in at eight pages, none feel rushed or incomplete. Short stories often leave me feeling cheated, as if I missed some content or that the creator had to compromise to fit the story in a small space. Four Letter Worlds avoids all that. Somehow each of the 16 writers managed to use exactly the space allotted to them and not leave the reader feel rushed or the story lacking. They did this all while sticking to the assigned theme.

Each included story is good, but naturally a few stand out. I loved Clugston’s take on fate in Anew. In her story, two people come together after many years of missing the time to realize or act on their feelings for each other. Call me a hopeless romantic (and I am) but there is almost nothing as satisfying as a love story with a happy ending. Clugston obliges her readers and leaves them with warm fuzzies.

Rich’s and Watson’s story on fate, True, is also notable. Rich keeps his story light and humorous as he reminisces about lies he told as a teenager. The text flows like a conversation between old friends. It’s breezy and pleasant to read.

Another great story is Faerber’s and Rolston’s Loud in the hate portion of the book. This story about loud and annoying neighbors is one in which I could easily relate. Faerber cleverly portrays both sides of the story even though he writes only from the slightly uptight neighbor’s point of view.

Four Letter Worlds Review: Interior Image

These three stories are the best of the bunch, but the stories by Moore, Stephenson, and Torres are also noteworthy. Like I mentioned before, though, there are no bad stories here. Writing about the bad characteristics of the book is decently difficult. My beefs are exceedingly minor. While I enjoyed Johnstone’s and Hawthorne’s Hype, I found Erik Swanson’s lettering difficult to read. The script is funky, but some letters are too close together. Also, I found the last story, Fate, by Fraction and Dwyer to be the least enjoyable of the bunch. I would have preferred that the editors end on a different story. This one broke from the pace a little and though, while good, wasn’t a high note. I tried to find more negatives about the book, but none were made available to me.

I am similarly impressed with the art in Worlds. It is interesting to see each artist’s take on their story. Seeing such different styles together also keeps the reader immersed in the book.

Just as with the writers, some artists definitely stood out. Watson was the best match for Rich’s fresh and easy story. While there is nothing inherently funny about the lines he draws, he somehow captures the playful and irreverent nature of the story. The texture and shading he adds to each panel also makes it interesting and full without adding weight.

Another artist worth mentioning is Bernales. I love how he portrays mother and son in Cool. Although they aren’t given many words to say, the reader easily picks up on the mother’s rage. I found myself flipping through this story repeatedly to admire these characters.

Lastly, I always enjoy Rolston’s work. It’s no different here. He is great at portraying a crazy amount of facial expressions. The main character Gus runs the gamut from embarrassed and angry to relieved. Rolston gets each one right.

Bonus Features
The book already has 16 outstanding stories by some of comics’ most talented creators. What more can one want? I say take the black and white book with the color cover and go away happy. This slim volume is good enough without being weighed down by bonus material.
Final Words

You’ll be hard pressed to find a better anthology with better stories on the market today. Four Letter Worlds houses some outstanding stories and many good ones. It’s built around a cohesive and unique theme and each story fills its place in the book. I’d like Image to go on to four more words and build a series out of this book. There is much more for this group to explore.

Highly Recommended

Kerry Garvin (email) is a total nerd. She once made a robot out of tin foil for a boy she loved, but was too shy to deliver it. Kerry can also be found rambling at The Comic Queen and A View From the Ham.
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