Introducing: The iFanboy Letters Column!

ifanboy_mailbox.jpg
If you listen or watch any of our shows, you’ve heard us say over and over again to e-mail us and that we love to hear from you. Well, a lot of you have taken us up on our offer and wrote in, but we can only fit a few e-mails onto each show. We wanted to give you, the audience, a chance to have your e-mails published and responded to by one of us, but we couldn’t figure out how.

And then as I was reading an old back issue of Savage Dragon, I was thinking about how great the letter columns of yesteryear were. And that’s when I realized we had our answer. So we present to you, the first of a weekly post — The iFanboy Letters Column. Every Friday, you can expect us to put up some of the many e-mails we receive from you along with our answers. We hope you enjoy it and be sure to keep the email’s coming — contact@ifanboy.com


I’m a trade reader, and an irregular one at that, but I could not pass up Gaiman’s Eternals. I loved the book but could not be more disappointed in the ending. So I ask you, is there any more, or was this supposed to kick start an ongoing story? I was under the impression that it was a 7 issue stand alone, but there was no conclusion. If there is more, or will be more, is Gaiman writing it? Because I honestly never would have picked it up without his name on the cover.

Also I was curious because I never follow the monthly books, is DC using my favorite character Plastic Man for anything nowadays or is he lost in the universe somewhere?

Plastikkat

In response to the first question, I’d say that it was fairly well par for the course in comics. There are never really real resolutions in the world of Marvel superheroes. As far as I know, there isn’t an ongoing planned, but they certainly left the door open for this to be revisited in the future, which is the standard. It’s like the end of a story when you think the villain is dead, but then at the last second, he never is. But I see what you mean, and this does feel like the first part of a story. I don’t think Gaiman has typically had trouble with endings, so I have to believe it was a conscious decision. I sympathize, because there’s very little more frustrating in the world than finishing a story, looking around, and shouting out loud, “That’s it?! You’re kidding me!” I’ve certainly had the experience, but for the life of me, I can’t remember a specific example. Damn. Our first email, and I’ve already failed.

And Plastic Man seems to be missing in action these days. The closest we’ve seen from him in the past few years was his supposed son, Offspring, showing up in an issue of 52 and an issue of Teen Titans. But it looks like Eel himself has decided to hang up the superheroics for the time being. That doesn’t mean he won’t be back, but we couldn’t tell you when.

Josh Flanagan


By now Marvel readers have either heard about Spider-Man’s “One More Day” event or read the latest issue.

My question is, would anyone ever give up the person they loved the most for the closest blood relative they have? It’s not even that you have to get a divorce or live in different cities. Peter Parker has to undo an entire timeline just for his Aunt May. So would you sacrifice what Spider-Man will?

V. Smith

The thing about comics that many people don’t realize is that they can really make you think about issues like this. What if I was propositioned by The Devil to save someone close to me, but at the expense of someone else or my relationship with someone. The thing about this particular quandary that Peter Parker finds himself in, is that it’s one made for, and is completely preying upon, his guilt. For years, Peter has felt responsible for his Uncle Ben’s death and has carried the weight of that guilt by looking out and caring for Aunt May. So now, he’s presented with a situation where he can save his Aunt and absolve him of additional guilt, but at the expense of his love and life with Mary Jane. It’s pretty much a selfish decision either way. If he chooses to save Aunt May, it’s really to save himself of the guilt of causing her death. If he chooses Mary Jane, he’s being selfish by choosing to have happiness at the expense of his Aunt.

If it were me? I’d tell Mephisto to shove it up his ass, let my proverbial Aunt May finally find some peace and join Ben in heaven and go have sex with my hypothetical Mary Jane. A lot. Sure that may be selfish as well, but you know that if I were to choose Aunt May and if she found out? She’d smack me upside the head because it was the wrong decision and that she’d want me to be happy. Sometimes we have to be prepared to let people go in order to have happy futures. It’s hard and the tough call to make, but that’s what I’d do.

Ron Richards


I read Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers when it came out. I enjoyed it when I read it then but didn’t really know why. I had just gotten back into comics and was still pretty new to a lot of things.

I recently re-read it and it was awesome. I got so much more out of it than I did when I first picked it up. Probably because I have been reading tons of comics since and no what people are talking about when the reference the New Gods or Jack Kirby. Rereading it was a great experience. So here’s my question. What did you think of Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers?

TimmyWood!

I did in fact read almost every issue of Seven Soldiers. I bought every issue, but I didn’t read every one. A few of the mini-series were a little rocky but I kept buying them with the intention of reading the entire project in one sitting. It’s one of my future projects — like re-organzing all of my longboxes… and solving the global climate crisis.

Of all the minis I think my favorites were Zatanna, Frankenstein, and the Bulleteer. Klarion the Witchboy was one of the minis that was back-burnered.

I really do want to reread it all in one chunk, though. I’m sure there are a lot of layers of meaning that I missed reading the minis separately.

Conor Kilpatrick


I was wondering if I can get your opinion on something that’s been bothering me for a while. I find that whenever writers (comics, TV, etc.) use the concept of time-traveling there are always problems and holes in the logic. Let me give you an example. If someone has the ability to travel to different points in time, i.e. Hiro from Heroes, then he can basically go back in time and change the course of events (which he did this past season). This has technically already happened though. Hiro growing up and hearing the stories of Takezo Kensei was a consequence of his actions when he got stuck in feudal Japan. So the problem comes when he has the frame of mind of being able to shape the present. He thinks that it is his responsibility to stay and make sure history follows its correct path, but then what would happen if he just let it be and went back to the present? Would his memories be erased of all the stories of Takezo Kensei? Would he still know of those stories and realize that something else probably happened that made Takezo Kensei wise up and become famous and heroic? I’m glad that the writers resolved this problem by showing that Hiro was looking up to himself all this time. Some writers use multiple timelines and alternate universes. Some writers make it a point that no matter what you do when you go back in time cannot change the present. I’m totally okay with that type of story-telling, but having someone change the past and transforming the present because of those actions (i.e. Back to the Future) just doesn’t make sense to me.

Anyway, the reason I’m giving this big rant about time traveling is because I have a qualm about the Jamie Madrox plot line in Messiah Complex. So Forge sends two of Jamie’s dupes to different timelines in the future and gives them orders to kill themselves so that the Madrox Prime in the present regains the information the dupes gather. But wait, those future timelines haven’t happened yet! How will Madrox Prime absorb the future dupes’ knowledge if their deaths are not supposed to happen for another 80 years? I guess I should just take the whole idea as is and enjoy the story (which I am). I just can’t get around the fact that the writers do not see the inconsistency in their logic. Or maybe they do and that’s why Madrox is in a coma right now. But if that’s the case, then they basically made Cyclops and Forge blinded by the whole situation to see the flaws of their plan.

All right, I guess that’s it. I hope that you can ease my pain of having to deal with writers tackling the concept of time traveling. Really digging Messiah Complex!¬†

Paul from Washington, DC

Paul, you’ve touched upon a big aspect of the use of time travel as a plot device: it makes your head hurt if you really think about it. Time Travel is one of those type of story devices that can really make a great story, but it can also get broken down really quickly if you look too closely. The same can be said when it comes to mutants and people with super powers. Something doesn’t make any sense? Well that’s part of their mutation or power! Easy answer!

That said, to answer your question about Madrox and his time traveling in Messiah Complex, the easy answer I would imagine that the writers at Marvel would provide that Madrox’s dupes are linked to him via a psychic connection that is not bound by time. So as soon as one of his dupes died, he’d get the download of their knowledge and experience. Now I could see this being argued that he would have to wait 80 years for that download to happen, but when we’re talking about psychic connections and mutations, I would guess that the download would be instantaneous, even if the dupe is forward or backward in time.

Ron Richards


I just wanted to send you guys a link to a website that has penciled pages from The Ultimates 3. I felt the pencils had the dynamic value that made me love Mad’s work, but the coloring of the project seemed to make things blurry. It will be interesting to see if you feel that it was his pencils or as you originally thought the coloring that hurt the book for you. The website is:

http://www.joemadfan.com

And no this is not my site, but a site I came across a few years ago that always posts Mad’s pencils.

Chris

Joe Madureira is clearly super talented. That much is apparent from those uncolored pencils. His style might not necessarily be my cup of tea but I can deal with it if the story is something I’m interested in, which it is. I don’t know what they were thinking with the coloring for The Ultimates 3 #1 — I really don’t — but it was a giant mess. I can’t see how you can look at those untouched pencils and then the pages with the finished colors and think that the art has been enhanced with the addition of the super dark coloring. Wasn’t the whole point of bringing Joe Madureira onto this book to bask in his star power? Why then make his art near unreadable? Gah!

Thanks for sending along that link, it made me even more disappointed with the coloring in The Ultimates 3 #1.

Conor Kilpatrick


I was wondering if any of you were familiar with literary criticism regarding comics, and if so, what you all think about academics writing articles analyzing comic books and graphic novels. Two years ago, I read Geoff Klock’s How to Read Superhero Comics and Why (a spin on Harold Bloom’s famous book of criticism; not surprising considering Klock was a former student of his) and all of the major works Klock touches upon in the book. Klock’s essays really enhanced¬†my enjoyment of the material, especially his chapter on Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, and I found myself appreciating these books in ways I had never considered before.

Bryan (Bloated Moby on the forums) from Clemson, SC

Seriously, what are you talking about? Who in the world would write a serious academic dissertation on comic books? You’re making this up, right?

I’ll be honest, I’ve never really felt the need to gain much instruction on the art of superhero comic book reading, and I do fear a bit that too much analysis can cloud the reader experience. Sometimes I think my film classes in college ruined me for regular movies. But then again, another perspective that helps you appreciate a great work can never hurt. I will say that with both of the books you’ve mentioned, every time I go back and re-read them, I find something new to appreciate. That’s the thing about brilliant work (comics or otherwise). There’s always something new to find. Sometimes, it’s what the author put in there, and sometimes, it’s what you bring to the table.

Josh Flanagan

Comments

  1. plastic man has been appearing in the non-doctor fate portion of “countdown to mystery,” getting entangled with eclipso.

    i can’t really say that either part of that book is very good, but i like doctor fate.

  2. Plas also made a cameo in World War III (the 52 tie-in) as well as an issue of All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder and Alfred the Butler (I think that’s the correct title.

    But truly, he hasn’t had a proper showcase since Morrison’s Justice League (unless you count The Dark Knight Strikes Again).

    By the way… AWESOME feature. Thanks iFanboy!

  3. I read that it was Offspring in WW3. But, well…internet sources….

    I would guess that the first 4-5 comments for these will be about what I got wrong.

    And I’m OK with that.

  4. Now, it isn’t about proving someone wrong. You guys have always been good about responding to emails, even if they aren’t answered on the air, so what your doing here is cool, and hopefully it just encourages more discussion.

    I almost forgot about the Giant Golden Goliath that was left standing in a park in San Francisco. I don’t think anyone has addressed that, or even mentioned it. I hope it hasn’t been canceled, but over the summer at Comic Con, Marvel announced that Charles & Dan Knauf were going to begin work on a new Eternals series. No mention if it was a mini, or ongoing, but it’s supposed to pick up where Gaiman & Romita’s arc left off, and the Dreaming Celestial hibernating in the park is supposed to play a big role.

    As for Plastic Man, Wizard, a little less than a year ago, featured some DC character designs of Ethan Van Sciver’s. They looked sweet, and he has expressed a great deal of interest in starting up a new Plastic Man series. He might have even mentioned it on the video show from Charlotte this year, I could be wrong though. I imagine with his work on the Flash, and his contributions to Green Lantern since Rebirth, that DC will be giving him more, and more freedom when offering projects. Eel’s return may not be that far away.

  5. There has been a story about Plastic Man in the back ups to Countdown to Mystery. Although Plastic Man is my absolute favorite character of all time, I would not recommend this to anyone.
    Turns out Eclipso has corrupted Plastic Man which has caused him to revert back to his evil criminal ways. On top of that Woozy Winks has been retconned into being this criminal who has been doing crimes and misdeeds behind Plas’s back for years and years. It is as bad as it sounds. He help’s Plas “get back in the game” and they go rob banks. Batman get’s involved as well as Plas’s son Offspring. It’s pretty awful and I felt extremley out of character. I don’t recommend any Plastic Man fan reading it for fear of heartbreak.

  6. Oh. and thanks for answering my question. Great new feature guys.

  7. How ’bout this, Bloated Moby…the only reason I even picked up comics was for academic reasons!

    I’m a high school English teacher, and in preparing to teach a World Literature course, I began to dig into mythology and the concept of the Hero. This lead me to the work of Joseph Campbell and the belief that the tale of the Hero’s Journey is something that nearly every culture in the history of the world has in common.

    Campbell even mentioned Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious (something that Deepak Chopra from Virgin Comics and Grant Morrison have also cited), which basically states that all humans share the same dreams, and that Heroes (including superheroes) are just the manifestation of our dreams of power and righteousness.

    When I realized that Luke Skywalker and Beowulf and Rama and Superman were all part of the same tradition, I began reading comics for the first time. At 30 years old!

    On the issue-to-issue level, a lot of the academic study of superheroes breaks down. But as a concept, I think that superhero study is fascinating.

    Mark Waid’s essay entitled “The Real Truth about Superman and the Rest of Us Too” (you can find it at Newsarama) is a great place to start. Enjoy!

  8. Just wanted to say that this is an awesome new feature. I look forward to future posts, and now my question gears are churning…

  9. Big E,

    I actually used Waid’s essay as a source for my undergraduate thesis on The Death and Return of Superman. You’re right, it is awesome. Thanks, though. It’s always good to find someone else who is not a “traditional text” literary critic.

  10. Bloated Moby,

    How cool! You got to write about Supes for your undergraduate thesis! Lucky!

    I’d love to write a high school or college course on the literary connections in comics. A boy can dream…