Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday is all about time to finally garden. For others, it’s all about not thinking anything about gardening. For others still, they have their mom do their laundry.
At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.
You write. We answer. Very simple.
As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming – email@example.com
DC hasn’t been releasing as many movies as Marvel but they do better in cartoons. Most recently Young Justice has been made to get kids to buy the comics. Which of the new DC comics would have the best chance of being made into an animated series?
The best chance of being an animated series? The Justice League, Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern (currently in production). But that’s easy. The big guns will always have the best chance. They’re the most popular and thus the least likely to cost a development exec their job should they fail.
(Also, Young Justice wasn’t made to get kids to buy comics. It was made to get kids, and their parents, to watch commercials and buy DVD sets.)
So let’s consider a different question. Setting aside the DC characters that have had, or currently have, an animated series (like Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Static Shock, the Justice League, and the Teen Titans), what books books/concepts from the New 52 would I like to see as animated series. Just to make it easier on myself I’ll pick one per week.
Week 1 – Stormwatch - This one is a little out of the box but the more I think about it the more I like it. The idea of a secret band of superheroes who exist out of the spotlight (or in The Bleed) could be really fun and interesting. Plus you’ve got an interesting grouping of characters with fun and sometimes unusual powers (especially Jack Hawksmoor).
Week 2 – Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. - While looking over the list of week two books this one stood out like a giant pulsating neon sign. A team of monster hunters made up of monsters and led by one of the most famous monsters of all time? It seems like so much of a no-brainer that I would be shocked if it’s not already in development.
Week 3 – Birds of Prey - Let’s put aside the live action show. The less said about that the better. The concept of an all-female superhero team is solid, enduring, and just begging to be done the right way outside of comics. I see this one has high action, globetrotting adventure featuring lots of bad dudes getting kicked in the face.
Week 4 – The Flash - Enough with the team books! Let’s give a solo character the animated treatment and I say that it’s time for the Scarlet Speedster to get his due. Barry Allen is ripe for the solo cartoon treatment. There would be a ton of fun things that you could do with speed effects in animation that might look silly in live action. Plus, The Flash has a fantastic rogue’s gallery second only to Batman’s. Add in Kid Flash and occasional appearances by Jay Garrick and there’s your show right there.
I’ve noticed a common criticism of yours is that some comics are too “wordy”. I find that interesting since writers don’t give us near the dialogue that we used to get. It seems many comics can be read in 5 minutes and story arcs are strung out further than they should be. Now I get that we don’t need the occasional wasted dialogue and pointless exposition but is this dislike for wordy comics due to new preferences from this generation of readers? Also is the lack of dialogue and stretched out story arcs an economic decision of the publishers or a creativity problem with the writers (or neither).
To me, it’s not about the amount of the words as much as the value of those words. If you’ve got a page full of word balloons and captions, but they’re not adding to your enjoyment of the story as much as filling space and letting the writer impress him or herself with how clever they can be. It could be that the team doesn’t feel confident enough in the final pages that they have to explain everything you’re seeing, or worse, it could be that the comic just isn’t very good, and narration and exposition are the only ways to explain where the art failed. Basically, more words do not equal more value. More words usually means that you’re wasting more time.
There’s also the question of aesthetics and pacing. It has to be consistent. A page littered with letters isn’t attractive, and jams up the flow you had established. Pages should be balanced. When you’re reading a story smoothly and you jam up against a block of text, it doesn’t feel right. That’s just a matter of craft, and guiding a reader through the story smoothly.
This brings up the question of “the time it takes to read a comic” vs. “what I paid for this.” If that’s your only barometer on how good a comic book is, then I don’t think you’re getting the full experience from the conflation of art and story. I am more impressed with the skill and nuance of a silent page than I ever will be with a lot of words. Aaron Sorkin is my favorite TV and film writer, but he would make a shitty comic book. Because that’s not the point.
Still, that’s not to say that there shouldn’t be any words, and there’s no place for dialog, because there certainly is. It just has to be good dialog, and purposeful captions and narration. I get why it happens. People think they’re getting short changed, and they worry that they’re not getting enough information, because a lot of people don’t have any patience for more nuanced storytelling, so the publishers and writers overcompensate and explain everything right away, especially in a first issue. It’s one of the reasons that this month has burnt me out on first issues.
The simple fact is that comics used to be written for a younger audience, with a lot of turnover, and now they’re mostly written for an older audience, and I don’t want to read the comics with training wheels. I want to read comics written up to my level. That isn’t to say that I don’t think there should be other kinds of comics (there should) but they’re not for me, and that’s the only way I can judge them.
Basically, they need to make the words count. Words are precious. Also, you should judge your comics by enjoyment, rather than the clock. But buy accordingly with your own tastes.
*** SPOILER WARNING – Avoid if you HAVEN’T read X-Men: Schism #4 ***
So, I’ve been ruminating about this for the last week, trying to decide whether or not I liked X-Men: Schism #4. Obviously, its not all I’ve spent my time thinking about, but it bothered me enough that its occupied more of my brain space than it probably should have.
I have been and X-Men fan for the last 20 years or so. I grew up reading them, they have always been my favorite. Now, the reason X-Men: Schism #4 bothered me so much was that it just didn’t make sense. As I got further into it, I found myself wanting to love it, but I just couldn’t. The reason for this is the fact that the character fighting Cyclops was utterly unrecognizable. That was no Wolverine I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot of Wolverine. Never before has there been any indication that Wolverine feels that it is the X-Men’s duty to shield the children in their care from danger, especially when it is a fight for their right to exist. And to take it to the point of blowing up the island if he didn’t get his way? Seriously, nothing I have ever read would indicate that Logan would act this way. In fact, all indications are that he would act in exactly the opposite fashion. Even as recently as the final arc of Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, Logan has taken one of the X-kids under his wing (Armor) and basically told the rest of the team that she was an X-Man and shouldn’t be treated any differently than the rest of them. Now I know that in the recent X-Force book Logan did try to steer X-23 away from having to kill more, and in the last Wolverine arc he was duped into murdering his own illegitimate children, but these events are never referenced as a reason for his sudden shift in character, and that is something I would never expect from such a talented writer as Jason Aaron.
I really wanted to get behind this event because the X-Men are my favorite and their books have been hitting much more than missing lately, but this is something I haven’t been able to reconcile. Maybe you guys could provide some insight into how this is actually all in character for Logan and not a total break from what came before.
Nick from Minneapolis, MN
Well Nick, I have to say that I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy X-Men Schism #4 as much as I did, but I’m afraid I have to disagree with you on your reasons why. While the position and behavior of Wolverine was indeed surprising, it wasn’t that surprising in light of recent events that have happened to the character, as you laid out. Now, you do have a point about Wolverine’s previous actions when it involved younger X-Men, most notably teenage girls (no way to say that without sounding creepy). He’s absolutely taken Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, Armor and now Idie under his wing. But in each of those cases, while he was wholly supportive of them as X-Men, there were also moments where he showed an ultra protective side. The difference between what his position with Armor (treat her like an X-Man) and the position with Idie and the other kids on Utopia is that thin line between right and wrong, between killing enemies and not. Armor was never put in a position where she needed to kill other people. As long as we’ve known Wolverine, we’ve known that he’s “The best at what he does, and what he does isn’t pretty.” The X-Men have had a long standing rule of “no killing.” It’s what separates them as heroes from the people they fight. Except, that is, for Wolverine. Wolverine has always taken the responsibility of the dirty work, mainly so others wouldn’t have to. After the recent events in the pages of X-Force and then his own personal traumas in Wolverine, it’s clear that it’s beginning to take its toll, as you would expect it to. Wolverine may have amazing powers and determination, but he’s still a man. So the crux of the issue between Cyclops and Wolverine isn’t that far out of character, rather an evolution and growth of the character, which is a bold move by Jason Aaron, growing a character that’s remained pretty stagnant over the past 20 years. It’s not that he doesn’t support killing when you need to, it’s that he doesn’t want to subject the younger X-Men if it can be avoided. He’s being a martyr and taking the responsibility, so that they don’t have to.
Now, I’ve heard the same argument you’ve made about Cyclops. That long time fans don’t recognize Cyclops. That he’d never endanger children or call for killing. But again, similar to Wolverine, his character is evolving and reacting to the world around him, which is a polarizing thing to do, but I believe an interesting angle to take, as you can only read the same stories about the same characters over and over again so many times.
Ultimately, the crux of the issue of X-Men: Schism, as I’ve taken it, isn’t about Wolverine being mad at Cyclops for making Idie kill men or that he’s putting children in danger. Rather that Wolverine doesn’t agree that defending Utopia, at such a dramatic risk, is worth it. To Wolverine, it’s just a place to crash, they can find another place to set up camp. But to Cyclops, it represents the dream of mutants living in peace, and he’s willing to defend it at any cost. I have to give Jason Aaron credit, it’s a very interesting quandary to present, and to be honest, I’m not sure what side I’m on, even after X-Men: Schism #4.
I hope that helps to shed some light on Wolverine’s characterization and helps you enjoy X-Men Schism a little more. If not, don’t worry, it’ll be over after another issue and you can move on.