The iFanboy Letter Column – 02/13/2009

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 just another day in con season.

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 am a recent comic book fan, as of a few years ago. I am sick and tired of 5, 6, 7, 8 issue arcs for comics. This writing for trades crap is pissing me off and almost deterring me from comics for good. They take too long to come out and by that time I’m ready to move on to something new. I understand the length of event books or even some of the major titles, but I just want a good one shot story, or even two issue story. I liked how Detective Comics was just like an episode of the Batman: The Animated Series, one and done. It was fun took 15 minutes and I could move and feel like I accomplished something. I know Brave and the Bold are sometimes one shots. My favorite comics of all time is a Brian Vaughan issue of Detective Comics. Great writing, nice art, and a great cover by Tim Sale, and by the time the issue was done, everything in it was resolved.

Please tell me there are comics like this out there. I’m hoping you could give me any suggestions regarding new ongoing series or older titles I may be able to pick up in the dollar bins at my local shop. Anything from 1999 to now would be good. I wish that a lot of the major characters had one and 2 issue stories, they would almost feel more enjoyable to read. It seems like comics today always try to do something profound, when all I want is a good story, like the old cartoons of Batman and X-Men. Please help me be a fan again.

Christian from Chicago, IL

Christian, you might be in trouble. It’s funny that your time period (back to 1999) pretty much denotes exactly when comic book story arcs started getting longer, and more involved. Then, you cited Brian K. Vaughan as the guy who did your favorite single issue, but his success with trades of Y: The Last Man are probably very responsible for the way comics are written today — vis a vis long arcs of 6-8 issues, consumed best in trade. By the way, I think you’re talking about Detective Comics #787 from 2003, an issue of which I have no recollection.

Anyway, we live in a world of trades and long arcs. The biggest guys in comics from Brian Bendis to Ed Brubaker to Geoff Johns have all jumped in. The reason is partly economics. They can make a lot of money from trades, and since comics are a business, it makes more sense to do the kinds of stories that are most profitable. Further, I would guess that they sell more issues of an ongoing arc, because people want to read the whole thing. The other side of the coin is that it’s sort of part of the creative zeitgeist right now. The TV shows that get the most critical attention are things like The Sopranos and The Wire, all long drawn out stories taking place over many many episodes. The thing is, provided it’s well done, I tend to like this style of story. For me, it’s exactly my taste. However, things can go on too long. There have definitely been parts of Daredevil that went on way too long. The Boys is currently suffering from just wallowing around for months at a time. We were stuck in Civil War for what seemed like years.

So what are the solutions? Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be many, especially not in superhero land. If you’re willing to try some other types of stories, check out Jonah Hex, the best western comic going right now, from DC Comics. They’ve been expanding lately, stretching out stories for as many as two issues, but it’s a story that doesn’t really take itself too seriously, but is also pretty hardcore. When you could get it, Fell was a good example as well, not to mention the $2 per issue price tag. Each issue was an individual story for Detective Richard Fell. Granted, that book isn’t what I’d call fun, necessarily. If you’re looking for a tonal shift, where it’s more of an ongoing story, and not necessarily long arcs, but feels more like classic, fun comics, try out Nova, or X-Men or Wolverine: First Class. Also, check out Invincible, which is certainly an ongoing, but it feels like there are resolutions fairly often, even though it leads into the next thing coming up. All these books capture the fun of watching those cartoons fairly closely.

But as far as a wealth of one-and-dones, you’re a thirsty man in the desert, my friend. Maybe the commenters can help you out a bit more.

Josh Flanagan


Never has a series disappointed me more than [Supreme Power]. When it started off as Supreme Power I loved it. I even enjoyed when it originally moved off the MAX line and became Squadron Supreme. Unfortunately the latest series dealt with six issues of muddled and confusing art, and a mediocre story. With Marco Checchetto the art is moving in the right direction but the story still feels stilted and awkward. At this point I hope someone can step in and save this great universe, filled with great characters, before Marvel cancels this series all together.

Dennis O.

These last few years I have not been such a fan of J. Michael Straczynski’s work. But that has certainly not always been the case. I’ve loved the first half of Rising Stars, and all of Midnight Nation and some parts of his run on The Amazing Spider-Man. And I was a huge fan of Supreme Power from the Marvel MAX line.

In 2003, a few years after the end of Midnight Nation, the team of J. Michael Straczynski and Gary Frank went over to Marvel and brought us a gritty, mature version of Marvel’s classic Squadron Supreme for the MAX line. For 18 issues, and a little over two years, Supreme Power was one of my favorite books. Its tale of super powered beings and an American government all too eager to exploit them was great fun. And just as with the original Squadron Supreme, the main characters were thinly veiled DC Comics analogues and following them in a darker, more realistic world was really enjoyable.

Then Marvel announced that Supreme Power was ending and that it would be reborn Squadron Supreme and that it would no longer be appearing in the MAX line. And despite the fact that Straczynski and Frank would be handling the new book, I didn’t even bother picking it up. I wasn’t interested in a watered down version of the book that I loved so much. One of the greatest strengths of Supreme Power was its adult edge and I had no interest in watching it neutered.

Apparently not many other people were interested in it either as the new book lasted only seven issues before it ended. The new Squadron Supreme launched last year and I remember seeing it on the comics list and shaking my head at the memory of a once great book. I thought very briefly about checking out the first issue — solely on the strength of Howard Chaykin’s name — but in the end I decided to leave well enough alone.

Conor Kilpatrick


1) I’ve been to a few conventions in the past, mostly to find deals on some good golden-age comics to fill some collection holes. Next con I go to, I’m looking to pick up some original published artwork. If it’s the artist running a table selling his art, is it bad form to negotiate price? Example: I’d love to have this page from 1980’s Badger issue from Bill Reinhold, but would he be insulted if I haggled with him on price? Don’t want to offend the guy.


2) I’ve been buying comics for my (now senior in high school) nephew for years, and my niece who’s now a freshman, is a bit left out. It’s a tough age to work with, as she’s too old for Archie-type fare, but probably too young for Strangers in Paradise. Also, anything on the manga side of the market that would be a good fit for her?


Two great questions Dan. I wanted to answer your first question as I recently had the opportunity to buy some art this past weekend at the New York Comic Con. I have a bit of a weakness when it comes to art, so much so that I have to avoid the art dealer booths or give my wallet to Conor, because I can’t be trusted. But this con I was lucky enough to talk to Mitch Breitweiser and see that he had pages from the Uncanny X-Men Annual #2 for sale. I ended up buying a page that featured Emma Frost, Namor AND Doctor Doom, which is all sorts of kick ass. Mitch had written a price on the corner of each page for sale, and the page I bought was marked for $140. I suppose I could have haggled with him, but my point of view is if the artist is looking to sell a page, and he defines the price, that’s the price. I’m not going to look for a deal with the artist, rather I’ll respect his price. If it’s too expensive, oh well, it’s too expensive. That said, I have no qualms about haggling with an art dealer, as they’re completely in it for the profit of the sale, whereas when an artist is selling his work, most often it’s to pay rent or eat. But that’s just me. If you feel like haggling, then go for it, but in my experience, I don’t think you’ll get very far.

As for comics for your niece, I can see your quandary at that age. It depends on what she’s into I suppose, but I would think there are some great comics that could be right up her alley. My first reaction was to recommend Bone by Jeff Smith. It’s a hue epic story that she could get engrossed in. It’s mature, but not inappropriate and the art has a cartoony style that is easily accessible. If she would be interested in something a bit “older,” take a look at the Minx line of comics, which while canceled, I’m sure you can still get the books they releases, like The New York Four or The Plain Janes. They’re digest sized books about girls and should be very relatable to her and a good entry point into comics. Good luck!

Ron Richards



  1. @Christian from Chicago: If you’re willing to read comics from before 1999, you’ll find a lot of one-and-done issues. Of course, reading Gold and Silver Age comics are an acquired taste at this point, but I don’t think comics from the mid-’80s through the ’90s on are TOO much of a departure from the tone of current comics. I think the decompressed nature of comics these days is kind of antithetical to one-and-done stories anyway; it almost inevitably takes more than 22 pages to tell a story when you’re managing the panels this way. All 25 issues of Whedon and Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men could have been told in about 6 issues by Claremont and Byrne. But that’s not a value judgment on either style; it’s just a trade off. Also, if you liked Batman: The Animated Series, you might want to check out the Batman (& Robin) Adventures series from the ’90s–almost all of those were one-and-dones.

  2. @DanLikesBeers (Awesome name!)-My sister-in-law, soon to be  a Freshman in high school, loves Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways from Marvel.  I got her all the digest sized collections and she just ate them up in no time.  I think the fact that they resemble manga makes it easier for kids to want to read.  Anyone here will recommend it to you as its an amazing read whether you’re a teenager, 20-something or a more expierienced comic reader.  Also, she had a blast with the Spider-man loves Mary Jane digest trades. 

  3. @Dan – I saw an exchange this past Baltimore con. A guy was attempting to buy a Swamp Thing splash from Bernie Wrightson – I don’t even think it was a page, but more like a fully-realized drawing he did, much more than just a sketch. It was a beautiful piece of art. Wrightson had it marked at $1,000 – maybe a little high in my book, but that’s what Wrightson was asking. The guy asked Bernie if he’d take less – I think it may have been $800, but I don’t remember for certain. Wrightson, seeming a little perturbed,  stood firm, saying it was one-of-a-kind and the last time he drew the character or something like that. The guy thought for a few seconds, than handed over the one grand. Lesson to take from this: try if you like, but don’t be surprised if you irk the artist when you haggle.

    @Conor & Dennis – I also tried the Chaykin Squadron Supreme, and it didn’t seem to match anything JMS did previously, which were really solid comics. Chaykin, a guy I usually dig, turned me off so much, I didn’t buy the last issue of storyline. Adding to the problem was shoehorning Ultimate Nick Fury into the story – I liked the character in the Ultimate universe, but he was written as just a blowhard in the new book. 

    @Christian – I’ll second the recommendation of Jonah Hex – great done-in-one storytelling for 40+ issues so far. I’m racking my brain, but can’t think of any other done-in-one series. Kinda sucks.

  4. @Christian from Chicago:  Check out Darwyn Cooke’s run on The Spirit.  Excellent, fun, and all one and done.  Sergio Aragones is doing it out now, and I dropped it, but I think it’s the same deal.

  5.  @DanLikesBeers Like Drake said, a great book for your niece is Brian Vaughan’s Runaways. Awesome comic-book.

  6. Ron, I’m vicariously happy that you got those Breitweiser pages, since I gawked at the ones from the same issue.  I wasn’t ready to spend big money on art at this con, but great choice. (I did buy an Iron Fist print from MB that looks awesome.

    Conor, you’re dead on about ‘Supreme Power’; the first 18 issues were extraordinary, and I liked the Hyperion mini as well. . .the ongoing not only dumped the adult rating but also most of the original premise.  After that it got sucked into the Ultimate Universe (and Greg Land art) and by the time it re-emerged as a completely different series, I wasn’t interested anymore.  Too bad, because this was one of the first comics that grabbed me when I started reading, and if had stuck with the original story it could have been great.  On the plus side, I think you can just read the first three trades and get a good story.

  7. @Christian- Check out Amazing Spider Man.  Lots of one-and-dones scattered throughout short arcs of two and three issues.  And since issues come out nearly every week, you don’t have to wait long.

  8. Yep, I second the Amazing Spider-Man recommendation – plenty of one-and-done or two story arcs there. 

  9. DAMMIT! i saw a jonah hex trade and was swithering over it, but decided i didnt want to get hooked on another sprawling epic for my wallets sake. the way you described it sounds perfect. im a nube. i should have totally known that its a one shot thing already.

  10. @Ron  That is an awesome piece of art.

  11. I miss Supreme Power.  That series should have gone a lot further.  It seemed evident that JMS had it planned out much further.  Why did the series change?  Were the numbers down?  Did someone get as flaky as a pastry?  Not sure if it’s related but it was also about this time that I started to be come disenchanted with the Ultimate Marvel U.  Connection?  Maybe… 

  12. i think the one off story vs. the prolonged story comes down to wheather the comics are actually good. It’s  like a novel that’s a 1000 pages long, if you like it, it doesn’t matter how long the book is.

     i’m more than happy to fork over $3.99 for every issue of a 12 part story if i’m digging it 

  13. Yes – Spider-Man stuff. One and done: Robert Crumb stuff, American Splendor, Asterix and Obelix, JLI – each issue is fun reading and is like an episode, Sin City – but it’s about 200 pages so I guess it’s like a long arc but it doesn’t take long to read, 300?, Heavy Metal Magazine, 2000AD?, Comic Book Comics, Tintin, Tex Willer – I’m not sure it’s a series of one and dones…, Tank Girl, Crayon Shinchan, hmmm.

  14. And maybe it’s time to look at digital comics: 

  15. Yes, "Jonah Hex" is a perfect choice for one & done. That’s a book I underestimate every month when it is almost always fantastic. It’s packed with story & they are usually fresh & wonderfully weird (not to mention bloody). Great book.

  16. Re: one-and-done, I forgot to mention, pretty much any of the "Marvel Adventures" books fall in that category. 

  17. The Simpsons comics

  18. @chlop: The old Simpson comics were great! Still got some of my old TPB’s of them in my room.

    Paul Dini has been pretty good with one-and-done stories in Detective for a long time now. He hasnt been doing them lately, what with ‘Heart of Hush’ and some other 2-3 part arc’s,

  19. Thank you very much for teh suggestions.  It is sad that there are not many more comics like that coming out anymore, or am I the only one who cares? 


    I will definetly be checking out Jonah Hex, and I totally forgot about Spiderman.  Were most of geoff Johns Flash Series short arcs?

  20. Paul Dini’s Detective comics

  21. I share the sentiment of the first letter. Not quite as intensely but yeah. The art of the one shot and short arc is highly under-rated and I do wish there was more of it. Check out pretty much anything by Troy Hickman.

  22. Runaways is the book for younger teens. No questions about it!

  23. Also one and done: Minx books, but they’re 100 something pages, but they’re a fast read. 

    Runaways is a book for younger teens, if the parents are okay with their kids reading about

    *spoilers to Runaways I guess*


    someone kidnapping and stabbing a teenager and stuffing her in a trunk, and crazy cults and a corrupt police.

  24. @Dennis O-  Hey check out my review for Squadron Supreme #7.  No its not the return to greatness that was Supreme Power but its not bad either.  I believe Marvel sees the decline of Squadron and are trying to bring it back.

  25. @Christian from Chicago, I would recommend Kurt Busieks Astro City. Despite its current long storyline, Astro City is riddled with one-and-done stories. I’d also recommend investigating one shots and i admit that marvel adventures are a good way to go. caution: Marvel adventures are a two way street, the artwork can occasionally be plagued by cruddy artwork and some stories can be incredibly poor and ridiculous. Especially if jonboy meyers is drawing!