The iFanboy Letter Column – 03/19/2010

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means freedom as the work week has ended and the weekend can begin. For others, Friday means it’s time to get some precious, precious sleep.

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 recently tried the first couple of trades of Jeff Smith’s Bone series, and fell in love with it. I’d always heard it was good, but never gave it a look. My question is this: Are there any popular or important books that you never took a look at until well after they came out? Were they as good (or bad) as you expected?

Mike W., from Grand Rapids, Michigan

Some days it feels like most of what I read came out a long time ago. One of the best things about comics is the full and rich history, and just like music and movies, when you start learning about what’s good, and what you like, you can always go back and find out about where things came from and what the influences are. I’m constantly reading things from the past that I’d always heard about, and the list is long and mighty indeed of books that worked and didn’t.

To any fan who enjoyed Watchmen, but that’s all they’d read of Alan Moore, I’d recommend going back and reading his earliest Swamp Thing issues. DC has released some nice new Deluxe Editions, and they’re starting to collect the full run of a nascent Alan Moore, along with some wonderful collaborators, and they’re blazing trails on Swamp Thing that are still being mined today.

Just recently, I went back and read Brian Bendis’ House of M and Avengers: Disassembled, which, even though I’ve been reading the Avengers for years now, I never actually read at the time. I found them both a lot better than I’d have thought, and much better than most people say they are. Except for Clint Barton going out like a complete and total bitch (why not just take off the backpack?), they were both fun stories, and well done, especially in retrospect.

There are other things that I still have a hard time with, and I feel bad about them. I bought the The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus a few years ago, and I never made it past the third issue, because the prose is so dense. I really want to go back in, and study the Ditko art to figure out what was so special about it, but I haven’t made it that far.

I’ll get crap for this, but I barely made it a few pages into the first Love and Rockets collection before I decided to walk away.

I could go on for days about stories like these. They’re all around us, and of all different stripes, but suffice to say that hunting the archives of the past is one of the best things about being a comic book reader today, since so much is available that wasn’t ever before.

Josh Flanagan

I am really enjoying Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s take on Marvel’s Cosmic Universe, particularly their take on the Inhumans royal family. My experience with them is largely based on the Jae Lee Marvel Knights story, which I loved, and then the recent minis starting with Son of M and continuing with Silent War into Secret Invasion and Realm of Kings but I know absolutely nothing about some of their other appearances, including the first, third, and fourth Inhuman minis and the 1988 graphic novel. As such, I was wondering what you would rank as the Top 5 Inhumans stories of all time?


I always find it amazing how sometimes questions and topics are just out in the air, on the tip of everyone’s tongues at the same time as I happen to be reading and thinking about the same topic. The world is weird like that. In this particular case, I happen to be neck deep in Inhumans, as that I also am enjoying Abnett and Lanning’s work with the Marvel Cosmic Universe, especially the new status quo for the Inhumans as the leaders of the Kree. But at the same time, I’m revisiting the Inhumans origins within the pages of the Fantastic Four Omnibus, Vol. 2. So it’s safe to say that I’m right there with you kmob181, with Inhumans on the brain.

As far as the best Inhumans stories, I’m not sure if they fit into a neat “Top 5” format, as they are an interesting set of characters, that while fascinating, have never been A-level characters. Of course the Jae Lee/Paul Jenkins Marvel Knights Inhumans story stands up as one of the best modern Inhumans stories told, definitely eclipsing the recent mini-series that have been published over the past 5 years. While Silent War was good, as were some of the one shots related to the larger story lines, they don’t really compare. I would actually rank the War of Kings stories above those of the run between Secret War and War of Kings, personally.

But for me, the real gold of the Inhumans lies within the pages of the Silver Age. Their first appearance in Fantastic Four #45, leading to the series of stories in the pages of Fantastic Four is about as pure and great as it gets, just oozing with the combined creativity of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on every panel. From there, their origin retold in the pages of Thor, issues 146 through 152 are also a classic, must read. Thanks to Marvel Essentials and Masterworks publishing program, those are easy to track down. I bet if you go back to the early days of the Inhumans, while the dialogue may be a bit dated, it will enhance your current enjoyment of the more modern Inhumans stories.

Ron Richards


I became a big fan of the character Barbara Gordon most recently and I would love to read an ongoing featuring her prominently, so I thought about picking up Batgirl for that reason but then I heard Birds of Prey will be starting up again sometime in May. Now I want to keep my comic budget low so I wish to pick up one or the other, so I was wondering which series do you feel features more Barbara Gordon assuming that Birds of Prey is going to be similar to the previous incarnation? Also while I’m at it can you also recommend some good Barbara Gordon stories that are collected. Thanks for reading and keep it up with your great show!

Zac F.

It’s hard to make definitive statements about books that aren’t out yet, but that’s never stopped me before!

Batgirl: Year OneIf you’re a new fan of Barbara Gordon and are only looking to pick up one book featuring her in a lead role I would probably go with the upcoming relaunch of Birds of Prey. I am assuming here that Gail Simone doesn’t decide to go off in a radically new direction and marginalize the character who has always been the lead of that book. If the format remains how it has for most of the last ten years, Barbara will be front and center in Birds of Prey. And it pains me to not recommend to you Batgirl because it’s such a great book. But in Batgirl, Barbara is definitely a supporting player to Stephanie Brown’s Batgirl. Sure, she’s the primary supporting character and is in each issue quite a bit as she mentors the new Batgirl, but she’s not the lead and, primarily, the book is about the title character: Batgirl.

As for good Barbara Gordon stories that are collected, one of the best is Batgirl: Year One. That’s a fantastic story, and one of my favorites starring Barbara. It is written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon (the man responsible for not only building up the Batfamily characters in the late ’90s and early ’00s but for bringing us Birds of Prey) and is drawn by the so-very-awesome Marcos Martin who has most recently been seen kicking ass on The Amazing Spider-Man. If you just want to read one great collected Barbara Gordon story, this is the one to get.

Conor Kilpatrick


  1. Hawkeye did not go out like a bitch.  it was a sacrifice.  he felt the Avengers were going to be defeated by the (albeit imaginary) Kree, so rather than go down like a bitch, he decided to take it to them by grabbing one of these Kree that were attacking them, and Hawkeye activated the jet pack so it would fly into the spaceship.  he died by his own actions.

  2. I agree with Josh. Hawkeye died like a bitch. It was very much like Boba Fett.

  3. Boba Fett’s jetpack was activated by Han accidentally whacking it with a stick.  Hawkeye’s death was not an accident.

  4. I didn’t say it was exactly the same. They both went out in totally dumb (and different) ways.

  5. "I’ll get crap for this, but I barely made it a few pages into the first Love and Rockets collection before I decided to walk away.  "

     Very shocked to hear that, but whatever floats your boat Josh!

     What have the others’ reactions to Love and Rockets been like?

  6. Thanks Ron.  I have some of the early FF but I will definitely check out the Inhumans origin in Thor.  I see a few places advertising the Inhumans masterworks but they seem to be sold out.  Maybe I will find it at C2E2…

  7. I was exactly the same with love and rockets. Although i feel like i was not in the right frame of mind when i started reading it. I might give it another try. 

  8. @Tex: I had the same problem as Josh with LOVE & ROCKETS, although I either read most or all of MAGGIE THE MECHANIC.

  9. well hey, I just think the way I see Hawkeye’s death both lines up more with Bendis’ intent as well as better serves the character as I see him.  but then again, I don’t have a problem with Clint as Ronin either.

  10. He didn’t *have* to sacrifice himself. He wasn’t going to die. He just needed to take off his flaming backpack.  Maybe if they’d written a more severe injury, it would have made sense.  Like if he lost his arm, or his eye, or was gonna die, but as far as I can tell, his quiver was on fire, and that was about it.

  11. Did Hawkeye really sacrifice himself? I seem to recall a quiver on fire launching him into the ship. His last words before the ship exploded were, I believe, “Not like this!” Doesn’t sound like someone who necessarily sacrificed himself.

    I thought it was a great story, regardless.

  12. @conor and @josh: Part of what makes Love and Rockets such an amazing series is the evolution of its content, particularly with Jaime’s work. It starts out filled with sci-fi and supernatural events, but Jaime and the readers soon became more interested in the characters’ personal lives and not the events surrounding them. The series followed this and left most of the sci-fi stuff behind. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I just wanted to reiterate that the start of Love and Rockets does not paint the whole picture.

    Anyway, no comic is for everyone! Love and Rockets is one of my personal favorites and I’m just glad when people give it a try! 🙂


  13. @Terry: He sacrificed himself. He said "Not like this… like this!"

  14. @Terry – That’s not what happened. He got shot, said "Not like this" as in he didn’t want to die in flames, and then said "Like this!" grabbing a Kree, and driving them both, via rocketpack, into the Kree ship, bringing it down.

  15. @Terry: He says ‘not like this, not like this’ while stumbling, then grabs the closest Kree and says ‘like this!’ and shoots up with the other guy. I think it  would have been dumb if there was no plan for the character. But i also wish they showed him get some type of mortal injury, like a gaping chest wound to make it make more sense.

     sorry, i just read it and New Avengers vol:1 a couple days ago.  

  16. wow, overkill much?

  17. it was not his own safety he was worried about.  he was worried about that day being the day the Avengers were no more.  it sounds stupid, but that is what is important to Clint.  so yes, maybe he could have taken the quiver off, but then what, the Kree would still have been kicking the Avengers’ ass.  plus, what caused the burning quiver was a blast that may have in fact injured him.

    @Terry, not quite.  He says, "Not like this!!" and shoves a Kree.  then he repeats himself while grabbing that Kree and activating the Kree’s jetpack.  then he says, "Like this!!" while he and the Kree fly into the ship.  as in, the Avengers aren’t going to be defeated while being overrun on the ground, they are going to be defeated "Like this" while taking the fight to the enemy.  we’re all welcome to form our own opinion on the scene, but let’s make sure we have the facts straight. 

  18. aw man, gotta learn to refresh when I’m mid-tirade

  19. Either way…

    Like. A. Bitch.

  20. and now I’m writing a Pulp Fiction-esque scene in my head…

    "Do you know what Clint Barton looks like?" 

  21. Totally went out like a bitch. I can’t believe it’s actually being called into question.

  22. Of course Clint didn’t actually "Go Out" at all. He had his death faked — from which he got some sort of magical or robot pseudo body — Like A Bitch.

    I interpreted the sacrifice as not just a way to get at the Kree, but to protect his friends from the ridiculous aomunts of hi grade explosives he routinely carried everywhere, whether it be on subways, parks, or schoolyards. It’s the begging that makes it Bitch-lihe, though, right? Not being blown up by his own arrows.  Even though he changed his tune at the end, you can’t whine like that and come back from it.


  23. one man’s whining is another man’s defiance

  24. I agree with the Alan Moore recommendation. They are just damn good stories with great art. Volume 3 can’t come quick enough. After that, I’m buying the trades.

    As for what’s so special about Steve Ditko’s art? I think you’ll have to check out his work on Doctor Strange to really appreciate it. On Spider-Man, his art wasn’t allowed to shine with Stan Lee cluttering up the panels with needless narration and dialogue. He did the best he could and his name is still remembered. His art on Doctor Strange was trippy indeed and worked great for that character. No one draws otherworldly dimensions better than Ditko!

    It’s why I love Marcos Martin’s art so much. You can see a lot of Ditko in Martin’s art.

  25. @Mike W… I heard sooo many good things about Preacher, & thanks to my local library(you can reserve all the trades located in various branches) I am finally discovering how great that series is. Along the same Garth Ennis/Steve Dillion team up I finally picked up the Welcome Back Frank trade and loved that also.

    Also out of the whole Avengers Dissambled arc the one lasting impression I have is……….the Scarlet Witch is BADASS!

  26. I agree with Howl4Me, Ditko was at his tip top best on Dr. Strange. That said, the Lee/Ditko Amazing Spider-Man is one of my favorite runs in all of comic history, though much of this is rooted in nostalgia from 1980’s Marvel Tales that helped introduce me to comics (along with Jim Lee X-Men…like peas on a pod!). Anyway, I’d recommend just skipping much of Stan’s narration prose. It is typically just explaining that Spider-Man is using his spider strength to rip apart the solid steel pipe, in case it wasn’t evident from the illustration of Spider-Man is using his spider strength to rip apart the solid steel pipe.  Still, Stan Lee is and was super awesome cool. 

  27. I’ve been trying to find that Batgirl Year One at my local stores, but apparently it’s out of print. Maybe with the new Batgirl series and Martin becoming a bigger name, DC will put it back on the shelves again…please!!!

  28. @brianmaru: (Year One)&Alpha=B

    There you go, cut and past that ENTIRE link and you’ll be right there.

  29. "I’ll get crap for this, but I barely made it a few pages into the first Love and Rockets collection before I decided to walk away.  "

     I loved it when it first came out and enjoyed revisiting it in the new collections but it’s breakthrough statues comes from the time it came out.  Now there are tons of comics with a similar tone or slice of life feel.  But back in the day it was the equivalent of a 747 buzzing the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk.  There was nothing like it out there. 

  30. I had the exact same reaction for Love and Rockets.


    The 3 issue Oracle mini-series as part of the whole Battle for the Cowl event had some mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it.  I believe the trade is either out or close to coming to out pretty soon.

  31. I would like to add my vote to the "like a bitch" camp. But then, it always amazes me that there is a team made up of Gods, Super-Soldiers, technologically advanced armor wearing warriors, witches, mutants, aliens and androids, and some dude with a bow and arrow doesn’t get slaughtered immediately in every issue. Maybe that’s why I love Hawkeye so much. 

  32. I really want to see DC reprint Batgirl: Year One.  I read it at my library a few months ago and it’s fantastic.  I’m thinking this may happen someday because they did reprint Robin: Year One.  Batgirl: Year One has some amazing Marcos Martin and Javier Paulido art.  It’s so good.

  33. Well then. I concede I must have mis-remembered. I just stuck the first part of what Hawkeye said to memory and forgot about the rest. What are ya gonna do? I’m old. Anyway. Saying "Like this." and grabbing a Kree is a better way to remember it and a cooler way to go out (if only slightly).

  34. @josh if he had just lost his eye, wouldn’t he only be known a "hawk" **reads joke back to himself, shakes head and leaves** I recently went back and read all of the current daredevil (starting with Kevin smith onwards) as much as I loved this run and nearly every issue, i’m glad I didn’t read it monthly because I read like a hard cover every day and couldn’t imagine waiting 12 months for it.

  35. @Zedilon Hey, it was only like 9 months between issues! *grumbles as he remembers waiting that long*

  36. I just don’t get people raving about Batgirl/Stephanie Brown.

    Another coming of age story?  And Another Stephanie Brown coming of age story at that.

    We’ve seen this already when she was the Spoiler only now she is *slightly* better at fighting crime

    in a new costume.

    Unless you’re a teenage girl I don’t see the appeal of this –

    How Will she balance schoolwork/her secret identity- and boys OhMy!

    Done Done and Done already.  At least Cassandra was a bad ass. 

  37. @ericmci: 99% of the stories you’ll find in every single Marvel and DC book have been done and done and done already.

  38. @Conor:  99 percent?  Don’t you think that’s a bit high?  I mean even if you said like 80 percent, I would understand, but 99 would mean NOBODY is getting any new ideas through.  I hope that isn’t true…

  39. I’m enjoying the Love and Rockets omnibuses. They are very slow wordy and thematically disjointed at the start of each brothers’ run but they really do get a hell of a lot better as you read further on. 

  40. I read House of M, but I never took  to it. It never pulled my imagination into the world, and I always felt disconnected from the characters in the story.I personally like Olivier Coipel storytelling in Legion of the Damed, and stuff in Legion Lost. The charcaters in House of M seemed to just stand around in the panels. What is Avenger Diassembled about, and what is the lead into the story arc ? What should get read before Avengers or is it a stand alone TPB? Swamp Thing is on my radar and the Love and Rockets omnibus, thanks davidtobin100. I have found alot of points about comics valid from Alan Moore. What makes House of M a great re-read?

  41. @OliverTwist: You can go ahead and read AVENGERS: DISASSEMBLED without any back story. It was both the end of an Avengers era and the beginning of a new one. That story leads directly into HOUSE OF M.

  42. @conor

    I’m with Robby on that one. 

  43. In terms of great Barbara Gordon stories, the recent The Cat and the Bat in Batman Confidential, now in a trade, by Fabian Nicieza and Kevin Maguire is a hoot,

    And the Inhumans run from Amazing Adventures with Neal Adams art is also worth a read.

    Love Moore’s Swamp Thing, but boy, is the immediately preceding run by Martin Pasko and Tom Yeates underrated!

    And I’m with Oliver in terms of not liking superheroes just standing around, which covers much of Avengers Disassembled – the assemblage of heroes, the power, and they stood around Avengers Mansion being useless.