The iFanboy Letter Column – 01.20.2012

Parev! I am a pile of money from the Armenian Money Train in Los Angeles.

Friday means many things to many people. For some, it’s the day you sprinkle the random body parts of your enemies in the shadow of the Hollywood sign. For others, it’s a day you go out to walk nine dogs at once and stumble upon, say, the head of one of my enemies. Sorry about that! And yet for others still, it’s when you and your corrupt buddies go out and steal me which is just the first step on a long and winding road that will lead nowhere good for any of you.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. They answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of iFanboy’s shows or answered here, in the letter’s column keep them coming to


The reinvention of Prophet this week got me thinking: what are some of your favorite re-interpretations of an existing character? Moore’s take on Swamp Thing and Casey’s run on Wildcats are my personal faves.


Comics are all about reinvention, and with that comes good and bad. What’s really interesting is that some of the most timeless and successful comics of all time have been reinventions. They’re things that the larger reading public tends to respond to, because there’s no baggage.

You mentioned Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, but Watchmen is arguably the greatest reinvention in the history of comics. Moore and Gibbons took the mostly forgotten Charlton characters, and rejiggered them just a bit, eventually changing the names for rights purposes, and did a whole new thing. He did the same with Marvelman/Miracleman. He did the same thing with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in a different way. It was kind of his thing. Supreme? You get my point. There is a subset of fans who will complain about that, but that’s not what I’m here to do, because at the end of the day, those were all magnificent comics with lives far beyond the month they were released, and they still influence comics today. While the characters weren’t new, the way of using and presenting them was, and that is what made it original.

You also mentioned Joe Casey’s Wildcats, and that is my favorite traditional reinterpretation of characters, because I couldn’t have been less interested in the version of Wildcats that came before. It all still works together, but the setting and tone changed completely with Joe took them on, right down to having an artist like Sean Phillips working with him. It was a revelation, and became much more interesting to a reader like me.

Another good example is The Losers, by Andy Diggle and Jock. Those characters had been around in very different forms. Pooch was actually a pooch, for example, but they took only the barest elements of them, and came up with a whole new reality, and some of the punchiest comics we’ve seen since then.

The list goes on and on, because the medium of ongoing comics requires it. Sometimes it’s more subtle. Batman has been done in many different ways, but it’s slow and subtle over time. Spider-Man grew up. Cable is basically the same. Anyway, I love it and I don’t want things to stay the same forever, because I’m not going to stay the same person forever. At least I hope not. Man, now I’ll never be elected president.

Josh Flanagan



So this seems like the obvious question, but which books are you looking forward to in the Second Wave of The New 52 from DC, and which ones are you are sad to see go (if any)?

Personally, I’ve exciting for The Ravagers. I’ve been really enjoying Teen Titans and Superboy and since I’ve never read any Gen13 I’m excited about being introduced to some new characters (since this new book is rumored to have some of the Gen13 cast in it). But since I haven’t been reading any of the cancelled ones, though I did want to check out O.M.A.C., I can’t say I’ll miss any of them.

Matthew J.

At first, when I considered the six new DC books I thought that these would be the first among The New 52 universe regular series books that I wouldn’t sample. I just can’t read everything! But then when I actually looked at the list, I realized that I’ll probably give five of the six a shot. (I wouldn’t touch The Ravagers with a ten foot pole but that’s because of the creative team, not the characters.) Of those five the two that I am most looking forward to are Batman, Incorporated (obviously) and Earth 2 (double obviously). As excited as I am for Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham to continue their unique Batman story, I’m even more excited for James Robinson and Nicola Scott on the Justice Society. It’s a perfect match.

Of the canceled books the only one I’m going to be sorry to see go is O.M.A.C., which I’ve spoken enough about so that should not surprise anybody. I’ll miss it. But I’m not sad about O.M.A.C. being canceled, I feel like it’s been living with the spectre of death over its shoulder since its inception and I’m just glad to have gotten 8 issues out of it. I’m actually more saddened by the cancellation of Blackhawks and Men of War. They are two books I didn’t enjoy, but I was hoping that new creative teams could turn them around and spark my interest. I know that among the new titles is G.I. Combat, but I hope that the failure of Blackhawks and Men of War (honestly, it should have just been called Sgt. Rock) won’t mean that DC will be less likely to try non-traditional superhero or even non-superhero books in the future. I fear that in a year’s time we will be back to all straight superhero books from DC. I hope I’m wrong.

Conor Kilpatrick



Recently 20th Century Fox exec Tom Rothman stated that the company are working on a new Fantastic Four movie. I’m a massive Fantastic Four fan and have been reading them since I was a wee nipper. I don’t mind the previous two films but they, for me, never captured either that huge, Stan Lee/Jack Kirby flavor or, indeed, came anywhere near to the modern work by the likes of Millar and Hickman. What I’d like to see is more science, huge machines, world-class villainy and the kind of mind-bending wonders we see in the comics. Oh, and a far more matriarchal (but still sexy) Susan Storm wouldn’t go amiss. 

What would you guys like to see in a new Fantastic Four movie, especially considering the quality of Marvel films we’ve seen in recent years? 

Bob G.

The Fantastic Four movie translation is a tough topic to handle. First off, since it’s Fox, and not Marvel Studios, you can’t expect the same level of dedication and cohesiveness we’ve seen from the likes of Thor, Iron Man and Captain America. That said, Fox did deliver what I believe to be the best X-Men movie yet with X-Men: First Class last year, so maybe all hope is not lost for the Fantastic Four.

A tough problem with the Fantastic Four was the attempt to place them into the modern day as a current concept. What I might want to see, and this may be going back to the well after X-Men: First Class, but maybe treat them as a silver age comic concept in the movie. Go retro, give it a 1960s feel and perhaps that could make the concept a bit more compelling and easier to grasp.

The challenge with the out there, cosmic, way out Kirby concepts within Fantastic Four is that they’re hard to translate to film, both in design and execution. But perhaps the retro approach would help in that regard and make the wackier concepts more digestible. Throw in an out-there director, like maybe Michel Gondry (of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame) and perhaps you could have something.

If Fox does plan to take a stab at the Fantastic Four movies again, I can’t say I’d want to see another origin story, rather just a story utilizing the characters as established. And while we’re at it, I’d really like to see a better approach to handling The Thing, because while I did enjoy the woefully average Fantastic Four movies, the Michael Chiklis Thing never really did it for me.

Ron Richards


  1. I think Miracleman is arguably the greatest reinvention in comics. Seriously, when that thing is reprinted people will see the genious of that first chapter and know they’re in for something special.

  2. If (when?) the Avengers movie is successful, I wonder if Fox might attempt to do a period Fantastic Four movie and lightly tie it in to X-Men First Class and build their own alternate 1960s Marvel Movie Universe (and boy would it piss off Disney!).

    Maybe set it after X-Men First Class and have Reed Richards and Ben Grimm involved in some skunk works version of the Apollo program?

  3. Ron, you said what I’ve been saying for years about an FF movie.

  4. There I was, finally convinced by reviews and Conor that OMAC was worth a shot. I perused #5 in my shop and said, “yeah!” I found #1 and 3 there. Asked my shop manager if 2 and 4 were at their other location. “sure, no problem.” It would be a fast drop of $15+ for the week, but I was okay with that. I gleefully went home and read #1. Couldn’t wait for next week to get the rest all together.

    The next day came the announcement OMAC was being canceled. *&^%!!!!

    There’s $3 a month I can spend somewhere else. Birds of Prey. That’s it. I love Swiercynski’s novels. Here I go again to get the first 5. I better not hear they’re getting canceled next week.

    FF movies: Okay, not great but not catastrophes. They had the right idea, but kept holding back in terms of what they could do. Best thing about them: Introducing me to Ioan Gruffud and Chris Evans. Gruffud has a lot of nice film work in Britain. Evans was star of the movies.

    • Birds of Prey is a lot of fun. The plot might feel light, but it’s only because the pacing is so brisk. And Jesus Saiz draws excellent action sequences featuring attractive females without devolving into unrealistic T&A. It’s the textbook definition of a 4 star book for me.

    • Thanks for giving OMAC a shot, I wish more people had. Glad you enjoyed it. I tried so many times to get some friends to give it a look, and they just kept refusing. Their loss.

  5. “Cable is basically the same.”

    Horse Apples! I will be coming back to this with an essay, but for now all I have to say is Horse Apples.

    • I don’t know anything about Cable. I also don’t want to.

    • I am FAR more interested in Horse Apples than I am Cable.

    • In my hometown of Newcastle CA you can learn all you want about Horse Apples.

      I found mid-late 90s and early 00s Cable to be awesome. James Robinson, Joe Casey, Ladronn, Igor Kordy, Michael Ryan, David Tischman… and a host of other creators I’m blanking on all helped flesh out the character and take him from as far from his “Clint Eastwood with Shoulder Pads and Guns” Liefeldian origin as possible.

      Add the Askani Son mini with Gene Ha art and a side of the great Cable and Deadpool series and I’d say he has mutated and changed quite a bit over the years.

    • Mmmm…..Horse Apples.

  6. I think the trick to a Fantastic Four story is to think of them as adventure stories. The Fantastic Four should have the same stories as the 1970s era Doctor Who or a Doc Savage story, except that the characters also happen to have superpowers. At it’s core, it’s just a pulpy adventure story. They discover parallel dimensions, planet-eating space entities, lost civilizations in the Himalayas, armies of Mole-men beneath the city, etc.

    • Agreed. The FF movies just felt so…fucking small-scale. The first one had them trying to keep cars from falling off a bridge due to an accident that THE THING himself caused(and then gets praised afterwards for saving the day. This always irked). And the second one, with Silver Surfer and freaking Galactus, dedicated an entire sequence to them trying to keep a Ferris Wheel from tipping over.

  7. I personally think the FF movies suffered more from just being pretty much supeficial fluff.

    There were moments of good (Ben and Johnny fighting is exactly the family dynamic I wanted to see). But from a Dr. Doom who is taken out by a fire hydrant, to a slightly stupid Reed Richards (where was the cool, confident intellect?) to the shallow charactertization, it felt like the film-makers knew only a little bit about the Fantastic Four… and tried to make a movie anyway.


  8. I’m right there with Josh on “Wildcats”… I’ve always found it karmically unfair that Casey had to pick up the pieces of Lobdell’s run and did a great job with it but in the end got nudged into that dumbass “Coda War” arc in 3.0 and didn’t even get to finish his run. Oh well, I’m hoping lightning strikes twice and him and Nathan Fox can make something great out of “Haunt”, which despite my nostalgia for McFarlane’s art and respect for Kirkman failed to interest me.

    Which gets to my pick for best recent reinvention… I was thinking through creators on this subject and got to Bendis. Surprisingly, the first thing that came to mind wasn’t “Ultimate Spider-Man” but his revamp of the “Spawn-iverse”.

    Him, along with the capable likes of Ashley Wood made a “Hellspawn” into basically a Sienkwicz-esque romp through every idea Todd had commited to the core title, both embracing the unintentional goofiness of these ideas while making them work within the concept of the reinvention of Spawn as a sorta urban boogeyman. It was “Ultimate Spawn” and it covered all the ground it needed to before Bendis left (er, got fired).

    The same sentiment rings true with “Sam & Twitch”. Although the art on the earlier arcs were all by Todd clones the stories were police procedurals with an occult twist and never disappointed on clever endings. In the final Bendis arc, Alex Maleev showed up for the “Jinx” crossover wow, just wow! There were still some great stories left in this title once Bendis got canned, but I’m glad it all led to “Daredevil”…

    Final thing, I basically hate all 90s characters on principle (Venom gets a pass at this point), but “Cable” HAS actually been reinvented and done very well. Unfortunately, it was done around the same time as Morrison’s “X-Men” and truly was “new” and “different” and as a result didn’t sell. It was written by David Tischman, drawn by Igor Kordey, and made Cable an international man of mystery in the vein of a Vertigo book. Great stuff, and X-fans were clamoring for “their Cable” back with almost as much vigor as those detractors of Milligan’s “X-Force” at the time!!

    • That Cable run was pretty good, with Cable running around preventing future wars, but it only lasted a handful of issues. Also good is Joe Casey’s run, which fashioned Cable into more a classic Lee/Kirby Marvel hero.

      A lot of the forgettable 90’s characters have been spun into gold, the most recent example being Prophet. The old maxim is true: there are no bad characters, only bad writers.

    • Hating on all 90s characters on principle, well that’s cold Obi-Wan. Marv, Savage Dragon, Gambit, Darkhawk, they need love too.

    • It was a joke!

  9. Is All-Star Superman a reinvention? it only went 12 issue but It’s my all time favorite iteration of the character as well as Superman story of all time

  10. Reivention is great, or at least in my opinion. It gives way for more levels of creativity. Sure it’s a hit or miss(most of the time a miss), but when it goes well it is dead on. Without it there a bunch of characters and stories we wouldn’t have to chance to read about. Plus my favouritve part is when they improve something that I originally disliked, so in the end I am down for it!

  11. A friend and myself had a drinking game for that season of The Shield. Drink every time a character said “Armenian money train”. It was only one rule, but more than did the job. It’s right up there with the amount of times the term “Ice Truck Killer” was used in that season of Dexter.

  12. I read Men of War and Blackhawks because there just aren’t that many “war” comics out there, and I like the genre when it is well done. I would say that neither book was perfect, and I’m not surprised they’ve been cancelled, but I will miss them. I was not surprised about ANY of the titles being cancelled, though – you could kinda predict that about all of them. Can’t wait for Earth 2, Batman Inc, and several of the others.

    I personally liked the two FF movies fine. Not perfect, but I didn’t think they sucked either. I could go for a 60’s version like First Class, but I could also totally go for an Ultimate FF book with a Warren Ellis vibe.