The iFanboy Letter Column – 01/16/2009!

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means you have to spend the next 48 or so hours with your horrible horrible family, begging to go back to the sweet mind numbing sanctum of the corporate office. For others, Friday is the day you arrive on Earth to find it’s an irradiated mess..

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 –


I’ve been reading comics for the past year. I’m mostly a Marvel guy because those are the characters I was most familiar with but now I’m trying to get into DC. I was just wondering if a couple major story lines are worth reading. How were The Death of Superman, Zero Hour, The Final Night and Our Worlds At War. It seems they are important but I would like to know if they are good or not. 

Kevin from Maryland

I gotta tell you, Kevin, if you are looking to read some important DC events most of these should not be on your list. I’ll try my best to give you a quick rundown:

The Death of Superman (1993) – The first one on your list is the only one I consider to be important enough to warrant checking out. Sure the death wasn’t permanent (none are) but to deny the important cultural impact of this story at the time it came out would be to deny reality. Is it good? I think so. But it’s from a different era, so it will read that way.

Zero Hour (1994) – An unofficial Crisis event. In fact, it was subtitled “Crisis in Time.” As with all Crisis events (except, seemingly, for Final Crisis) this mini-series was meant to clean up continuity. Most notably, the “problems” that were “solved” were Hawkman, the Justice Society of America, and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Crazy Hal Jordan is the bad guy here and the way in which he was dispatched was a nice touch in an utterly forgettable event. We discussed this one briefly in our “Crisis” episode.

Final Night (1996) – It’s funny, I bought this series, I remember the name, and I remember there was something about the Sun dying and Hal Jordan saving the day a brief two years after being the DCU’s big bad. But that’s it, I had to look it up to get the specifics. It was weekly! I sorta remember that! And this is where Hal became The Spectre! That was an interesting idea that never did quite go anywhere. I believe that Morrison’s JLA came out of this story. The creative team on Final Night is Karl Kesel and Stuart Immonen — that’s a pretty strong team! You could roll the dice with this one.

Our Worlds At War (2001) – Like Final Night I totally remember this one coming out and I totally have no specific memories of what actually happened. This story features a literal all-star cast of creators: Jae Lee, Jeph Loeb. Joe Casey, Mark Shultz, Joe Kelly, Phil Jimenez, Peter David, Mike Wieringo, Ed McGuinness, Doug Mahnke, Ron Garney and Leonard Kirk. Wow. That list kind of makes me want to search this story out again.

The question you asked was, are they good? Well, that’s not a simple question to answer. Some are good reads but I don’t think any of them are great. I would say that The Death of Superman is the only essential read, and that’s not because it’s so good but because it’s so important. You could give them all a try if you are really curious to read some DC stuff and the stories sound appealing to you. Well, maybe not Zero Hour. Trust me and skip that one.

The thing to keep in mind — as I referenced above in The Death of Superman paragraph — is that the further back you go with comic book stories, the bigger the difference is between the way comics are written now and they way there were then. Some people have a hard time with older stories.

Conor Kilpatrick


I’ve just had the chance to listen to last week’s Pick of the Week Podcast. The discussion of Incognito reminded me that the first Criminal trade just didn’t hook me. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it lived up to the hype I heard. Am I missing something? Was it the first arc, or one of the later ones that really won you over? I’m reading the Captain America Omnibus (and loving it) and that makes me want to give the series another shot, but I need a reason to bump Criminal to the top of the list.

Kirk from Austin, TX

Kirk, you’re certainly not alone in your feelings. So very often, with many forms of media, we hear about how great something is, and finally go in to check it out, with raised expectations, and it just doesn’t click with you the way that you wanted it to. Is it that everyone else is wrong? Or is it that there’s something you’re missing? This seems to happen in comics a lot, since, for some reason, comic fans are so vociferous in their love for good work, and when they find people who feel the same, they all bang the drum together, and eventually the chorus becomes deafening. So you decide to shuffle off to the comic store, or the computer, and plunk down your shekels and finally pick up Love and Rockets, or Watchmen, or Big Numbers, or Fables, or 100 Bullets, or American Elf, or Hellboy, or Criminal. You’ve heard so much from so many people, for years about how great they all are, and you finally decide to buy the book, and you crack it open, and after a little while, it’s just not clicking.

Why is that? It’s hard to say. Sometimes work just doesn’t connect for whatever reason. Does it mean they’re not actually good? Usually not. Of course, sometimes, our own expectations are our undoing. In regards to Captain America, I remember buying the previous volume, with art by John Cassaday, and writing by John Ney Reiber, and I just didn’t really like it. Later when Brubaker took over, I didn’t buy it, for some reason. I might have actually bought the first 2 or 3, but for some reason, it didn’t grab me. Maybe that’s because I was distracted, or didn’t want to add a new title at the time. I didn’t keep up with it, and then at some point around issue 18 or so, I picked up another issue, right in the middle of an arc, and I didn’t like that either. So here I was thinking Brubaker’s Captain America was just not for me. But then Conor, who knew I shouldn’t trust my false instincts, bought me the first two trades as a gift, and wouldn’t you know it, I fell in love. So sometimes, it depends on the day. Now, I love Criminal, but I can see how it’s not for everyone. Still, if you already bought it, I say put it on the shelf, then come back in 6-12 months, and give it another shot. Maybe it’ll seem different then. You never know.

However, as far as the series goes, it’s not traditional in terms of the series progressing. It goes from character to character, and you can read each story separately, although they all do exist in the same world, on the same timeline. I think it’s safe to say that if you didn’t like the style or tone of Criminal than it might just not be the book for you. Me, I really enjoyed the tone of the work, as well as the high level of craft shown by Brubaker and Phillips, but in truth if the stories aren’t inspiring you, it just isn’t working.

Josh Flanagan

I’ve been buying comics for about 3 years now (I’m currently 15) and all of them have been Marvel. But I’ve decided I want to branch out a bit and read DC Comics or maybe an indie (like Image…) But i have no idea what to read.

The reason why I never bought DC was because I can’t stand Superman… I just think his character is too powerful.

So I was wondering if you could suggest some to me, to help you with your suggestions I’ve compiled the current books I’ve been reading: Captain America, Uncanny X-Men, The New Avengers, Secret Invasion, Avengers/Invaders (which I don’t like as much lately). And books I’m planning on getting: Dark Avengers and Secret Warriors.

Daniel O.

Ah, the classic “What should I be reading?” question.  Haven’t answered this one in a while. I found Daniel’s situation very interesting, because I was very much like him in my teen years. I was a loyal Marvel Zombie, bought only Marvel books and could never even fathom the idea of purchasing a comic book from another company. Also, like Daniel here, I never could really get into Superman (as has been discussed recently on the podcasts). But the thing about that is that DC Comics is much more than just Superman. Luckily I found that out as I got older I took a chance with DC Comics as well as Image Comics and I’m much better off for it. It’s a good opportunity to expand one’s field of view, to take in as much work as possible and really get a feel for the types of comics out there.

In looking at the books that Daniel currently collects, with the exception of Captain America, he collects all super hero team books. Nothing wrong with that at all, I’ve enjoyed super hero team books more than most solo titles as well. Since he reads so many Avengers titles, the natural choice over at DC Comics is to sample either the Justice League of America, DC Comic’s premiere team book, or Justice Society of America, which we all have been loving for the past few years. If Daniel really likes the Uncanny X-Men kind of team, then he absolutely needs to check out Dynamo5 from Image Comics, one of the best super hero team books out there, by far. Or perhaps the Green Lantern Corps book from DC Comics, which I’ve been recently turned onto and is quite good.

If a single hero title is more up Daniel’s alley, then the easy recommendations are Invincible from Image Comics and Green Lantern from DC Comics. Both titles feature a solo hero and are some of the best comics out there. One of my personal favorites that perhaps Daniel could have a good time with is Nova from Marvel Comics, which while it’s published by Marvel and not a DC or Image book, it’s quite good and everyone should be reading it.

Hopefully this is a good starting point for Daniel to explore and try some more titles from other publishers. It always amazes me at how cautious people are when trying new comic books. I never really felt the overwhelming sense of not knowing the characters or the previous stories that other people seem to get stuck on (except with the Legion comics, those completely scare and intimidate and confuse me). My philosophy has always been one of just to pick up a copy of a comic and read it. If I like it, then read more. If I’m confused, just ask someone, or in today’s day and age, look it up on the Internet or e-mail my favorite podcast and ask them about it. It’s really not that hard to start buying a new comic, especially with so many titles collected in trade paperback form which makes it much easier to get a complete feel for the title and/or catch up before you dive into monthly issues.

So what does everyone else think? Are there any great comics that I should have recommended? Let’s help Daniel out and get him some awesome comics to start reading!

Ron Richards


  1. I cannot thank you guys enough for turning me on to Dynamo 5. I’m reading it in trades since it doesn’t impact any of the other books I’m reading but man is it always a solid super hero romp with excellent character moments.

  2. Dynamo 5 is great.  Totally acessible in almost every single issue.  Everyone should read it.  I got a letter printed in it on issue #6 or something like that

  3. If you like crime fiction then you should pick up some of the "Criminal" trades as they are very good. If you like crime fiction you should drop everything you are doing right now and run out & buy all the "Scalped" trades.

  4. Wasn’t it Day of Judgement where Hal become The Spectre? I think Final Night was his big sacrifice where he gave up his life to reignite the sun.


  5. @TheSecondBatgirl: I had to look the plot up on Wikipedia bcause I didn’t remember it at all and this is what it says:

    "One lasting effect of Final Night was Hal Jordan’s role as God‘s "Spirit of Vengeance", known as The Spectre and the resurrection of Oliver Queen (otherwise known as Green Arrow). "

  6. I do generally like crime fiction. I love noir. I liked the first volume of Criminal but there was something about the pacing that I didn’t like. I was just trying to decide whether or not to pick up the next trade.

    Speaking of Brubaker and crime fiction, I’m dying for the next Gotham Central hardcover to come out.

  7. @Ron – I am afraid I have to disagree with the picks of JSA or JLA as suggested reading for young Daniel.  JSA has been very good, but Geoff Johns is leaving and I am afraid it will cease to be a must read (although if I knew who the new creative team was I might be more optimistic).  JLA has also had some bright spots (and some pretty dark ones), but with Robinson’s Justice League coming up I have to wonder how much longer JLA will last (or at least remain relevant).

    However, I agree whole heartedly with your suggestion of Green Lantern Corp.  It has been consistently good for a while now and with Blackest Night coming up it seems like it will be considerably more important for the DCU than either JSA or JLA.  And it allows him to continue to avoid Superman in all his forms (as he seems to want to).

    I would actually suggest that Daniel give something like Chuck Dixon’s new G.I. Joe series a shot.  He seems to like team books and isn’t a fan of overpowered heroes.  Seems like G.I. Joe would be right up his alley.  I thought the first issue was pretty solid and if he jumps on now he doesn’t have to worry about a lot of continuity hassles.

  8. @stuclach: The new JSA writers are Bill Willingham & Matt Sturges

  9. @stuclach: The creative team for JSA will be the writers of Fables (Bill Willingham) and Jack of Fables (Matt Sturges)

  10. @stuclach: Bill Willingham & Matt Sturges

  11. Well.  I withdraw my objection to Ron’s suggestion of JSA (I know he will be relieved).  I am now very excited about the future of JSA.

    Thank you Conor, TheNextChampion, and purdueboiler for updating me.

  12. A lot of people have been swooning over Gail Simone’s Secret Six.  That might be a good team book from the DCU.  Also, GLC is fuggin’ awesome.  It’s one of my favorite titles at the moment.

    Dynamo 5 is an awesome pick, but I would also recommend Noble Causes.  That’s a phenomenally good team comic book.  If you’re willing to pick up the trades, all of the B.P.R.D. stories are boss.

    You should also be on the lookout for Flash: Rebirth coming next year, which will hopefully be some next level stuff for the Flash character.  Green Lantern is also a good suggestion because of the Blackest Night that will be coming out this year.

    As for Criminal, its one of my favoritest books ever.  You have to approach it with a different mindset, but when it clicks, your mind = blown.  For reals.

  13. One other suggestion for Dan Owens:

    If you want to go back and buy trades (rather than jumping on another ongoing), perhaps the best superhero books of the last decade are the outstanding Astro-City books by Kurt Busiek. They were really the engine that propelled me back into comics after a decade away.

  14. Daniel, you can’t go worng with Batman.  Try The Long Halloween or Batman: Year One. I was also a strict Marvel reader and Batman was my gateway to the DCU.  If you’re looking for a good book with a big cast give Fables a shot.  It takes a couple of trades to really catch you but trust me it is worth it.

  15. @Conor That wikipedia entry is horribly unclear. From Hal’s page: In the 1996 Final Night miniseries and crossover storyline, Jordan returns to his heroic roots, sacrificing his life to reignite the Sun (which had been extinguished by the Sun-Eater). In the 1999 mini-series Day of Judgment, Jordan becomes the newest incarnation of the Spectre.  

    I still agree with your point though, about most of those books – I just happen to love Final Night for Hal’s big heroic sacrifice. I’m a sucker for a good redemption story. (I was also one of the crazy people who liked Hal’s role as the Spectre.)

  16. @TheSecondBatgirl — what I remember really liking about Final Night was a throwaway line at the end. Kesel wrote something about Superman being Brightest Day and Batman being Darkest Night, and how all the heroes of the DCU were somehow shades of those two heroes. I think the story was just "enh" — but I remember I liked how it summed up the DC heroes in that way.

  17. Our Worlds At War was flipping awesome!

    Was one of the series (Infinity Crisis & Identity Crisis were the oother two) that got me DC curious & back in to comics after a few years off. Its a huge universe spanning epic superhero sci-fi extravaganza. Top notch creator work too. 

  18. THE BOYS is the best book out now i dont know why its never talked about, i mean really two words for ya GARTH ENNIS if you like preacher you will dig this. you think watchmen,wanted was dark und fucked up? well u aint seen nothin yet. also on the flipside of the coin is THE RUNAWAYS my personal fav of all time. if you like the teen angst of early spider you will love this 1, but pick up only the 1st few trades ignore the whedon stuff and current.

  19. I remember Final Night as being pretty good. I read it when I was about 15 and I think it was my first proper company-wide crossover (maybe). I remember Stuart Immonen’s artwork was great, especially for the time, and the story was pretty cool. It’s got a Legion in it, a great bit with the Warrior version of Guy Gardener and had interesting ramifications for Superman. Well worth a read I think, especially if you can get it for a good price.

    My favourite of these crossover events was DC 1,000,000. I love it so much I’ve even considered writing a blog with a detailed analysis, although I worry it would end up me just listing all of the awesome bits like a massive geek. I went all-out a couple of years back and bought every tie-in issue and read the whole 50-60 issue thing in a weekend. Trust me, it kicked so much ass it was unreal. I remember hearing at the time that Morrison had a hand in plotting every DC book in that month, and it shows (in the good way, Morrison-wussies!). Get the trade because it’s still worth it for a super fun sci-fi DC romp.

  20. @labor: i think i’m gonna have to read our worlds at war again because i bought the trade on a trip to the states and it made no sense to me…literally, i couldn’t follow the seemed to jump form pillar to post things would happen and then it would jump to a scene where characters seemed to be in different locations at the same time and worst of all Doomsday(superman killer) was killed and as far as i’m aware his resurrection was never explained?

    Final night was awesome though, i too am a sucker for redemption stories, i used to love the big summer events, Zero hour, final night, Genesis, DC 1000000, not so keen on all the tie ins but a nice four week story all tied up in a bow at the end made me happy. now we have to wait 7-8 months for a big story to conclude!

    ps: random question, has there ever been an elseworld Batman: sherlock holmes story? I really miss elseworlds and the gorgeously painted Batman: Houdini was a firm favourite, Kingdom come and gotham by gaslight, superman redson,  being the other gold nuggets in the elseworlds pot.

    The brit in a hat