The iFanboy Letter Column – 04.29.2011

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means we just stop. For others, it is time to go. For others still, there are various pauses, punctuated by movement.

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 know Batman is your favorite superhero, and he has by far the greatest rogues gallery in all of comics, so I was wondering what your top five favorite Batman villains are, not including The Joker, and why. Personally, I’d choose Ra’s Al Ghul, The Ventriloquist, Two-Face, Scarecrow, and Mr. Zsasz.

Tony (Suicidalkangarooz)

I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to super villains. Sure, new or newer villains can be great, but if I have my druthers, I usually go for the classics — and that includes my Five Favorite Batman Villains Who Aren’t The Joker:

5) The Penguin I admit, this one is tough. It seems like modern writers (and by extension, readers) have trouble taking The Penguin seriously as a proper villain for Batman. At some point, it as decided that the best thing to do was to turn him into the top crime lord in Gotham City. That was actually a good idea. In recent years, though, he has fallen a bit by the wayside. The last time I remember him being a significant factor in Gotham City was around the time of No Man’s Land. The most recent one-shot about The Penguin that was written by Jason Aaron was amazing, but it only served to show how underutilized The Penguin currently is.

4) The Riddler Much like The Penguin, The Riddler is sort of in comic book limbo. It seems like DC has no idea what to do with, and it’s been that way for years. He’s been a good guy, or a sort of good guy, for years now and it just does not work. I’m also not of the camp that thinks that The Riddler needs to be made into some kind of psychopathic Mr. Zsasz type. That’s not who The Riddler is, either. He’s a criminal who is psychologically unable to not taunt Batman and the Gotham City Police Department with clues. That’s interesting. Also, he was the best villain on the 1960s TV show.

3) Mr. Freeze I’ve always been a big fan of the tragic aspects of Mr. Freeze. Sure, a lot of it has to do with the way he was portrayed on Batman: The Animated Series (his characterizations was flat-out amazing). He’s one of the few Batman villains that I feel bad for: he was just a guy trying to help the love of his life and everything quickly spiraled completely out of control. Who among us can’t relate to that? Of course, that doesn’t excuse the bad things that he has done, but it’s still sad. And anytime you can look at a villain with a bit of mixed feelings you know you’ve got a great one on your hands.

2) Ra’s Al Ghul A a kid I bought a lot of Batman back issues in lieu of buying new stuff of the racks. As a result I read a lot of Bronze Age comics where Batman faced off against Ra’s al Ghul. It seemed like every other comics I got featured the bizarre triangle of Batman, Talia, and Ra’s al Ghul. I love that Ra’s is so unlike just about every other Batman villain, not the least of which because he’s so international. I always laughed when people complain about Grant Morrison (and Christopher Nolan) having Batman jaunt over the world. As a kid, that’s almost all he did in the comics I read. Plus, a villain who can sometimes team up with the hero is usually interesting.

1) Two-Face If The Joker is Batman’s #1 villain, then Two-Face is #1A. He has a great connection to Bruce Wayne and Batman which makes him something of a tragic figure along the lines of Mr. Freeze. He’s also unpredictable what with his allegiance to chance that you never know what you’re going to get with him. He’s a villain that runs the gamut of tentative ally to horrible, terrifyingly violent adversary.

And there you have it.

Conor Kilpatrick

I had a quick question about writers and artists who are rude or unfriendly when you meet them at conventions. I’ve found that when this happens to me I no longer want to read or buy their books any more because I always have that bad taste in my mouth. This has only happened to me twice, once with a writer and once with an artist, and I fully understand the rigors of working a convention and putting up sometimes with rude and unfriendly fans. We’re only human after all.

So my question is, as fans, do bad experiences like this effect your buying and reading decisions of said creators?


The Great Ben Seaver/Brad Pitt Growing Pains conundrum! First off, yes I have had that experience. Sometimes, the work is so good that I get over it. Other times, the work wasn’t so great, so I don’t miss it. Other times still, and more often, there are really nice guys, and I don’t really like their work. Sometimes those first impressions are flat out wrong.

Remember that a convention is a stressful time for a comic pro. I’m not sure if most fans get that it can be difficult to be “on” for every person who wants to talk to you for 3-4 days straight. Personally, I’ve been there. When we go to conventions, we’re there to work, but we’re also there to meet fans, which is usually fantastic. We’ll always stop for a chat or pose for a picture when we can. Occasionally, we’ll have somewhere to be. Even more occasionally, you just need a moment to yourself. Especially in comics, where people spend most of their time holed up by themselves, they’re just not that good at social interactions. It doesn’t mean they’re assholes. It means they’re a little awkward. Sometimes people think awkward is just being a dick. I’ve had that happen to me also, where I just made a dumb joke, and it was taken as me being a huge dick. I don’t want anyone to think of me as a huge dick, so I did what I could to rectify it, but people are so different in what they think is appropriate that when you meet literally hundreds of fans, there’s a good chance for a miscommunication.

For example, Robert Kirkman is one of the best pros I can think of when it comes to signings. He talks to everyone, has fun, and makes sure to get to everyone in line. But I guarantee you that someone, somewhere didn’t get some joke, or he had somewhere to be, and they thought he was a dick. Rest assured, someone had that experience. And the more popular he gets, the more it’s likely it is to happen.

What I’m saying is, try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I’m wondering how many long dead artists who we consider greats today weren’t so pleasant to be around. Does that make their artwork any less meaningful or enjoyable? John Lennon was, for most of his life, one of the most thoroughly unpleasant humans to be around on the planet Earth. Does that make me like The Beatles any less? Lord no. Judge the work, and try to leave it there. If they’re nice folks, so much the better.

Josh Flanagan


  1. Conner- Great villan choices! I always felt that Riddler and Two-Face were two of the best villains in Batman’s rogue gallery. It annoys me that they haven’t done very much with the Riddler. Batman Hush used him perfectly!

    Josh- I loved your Beatles comparison and I couldn’t agree more with your response!

  2. Excellent and well thought out answers.  This is why I come to this site.

  3. It is such a great experience to have the opposite of question 2 happens.  I’ve had some phenomenal interactions with creators that have made me a big fan.

  4. Such great answers.

    Couldn’t agree more with Josh about judging the work by it’s own merit. Anybody who thinks some of today’s creators are rude and unfriendly, should read the biographies of Picasso, Gauguin, Van Gogh. Man, back then a lot of artists were unsociable or complete dicks, but what wonderful masterpieces they produced.

  5. There’s also a book you don’t read, meet someone who is super nice, and then start following their work and it’s good. Yay triple win.

  6. I don’t care for the Penguin, but Jason Aaron’s Penguin is the Golden Ticket. If you’re a Bat fan, then you must have this issue.
    I highly recommend Dark Knight Dark City for a fantastic Riddler story. And this one even connects with Morrison’s Simon Hurt. Also, I wasn’t sure about Dini’s spin on the Riddler taking up a private eye role, but it grew on me. See ‘Tec for that.
    Love love love Mr. Freeze on B:TAS. I think Snow (Legends of the Dark Knight) is a beautiful looking story if someone wants to read a great Mr. Freeze story.
    Ra’s is my favorite outside of the Joker. I’ll never part with my 1st appearance issue. I look forward to the DC Animated take on the Tower of Babel (Waid on JLA right after Morrison’s run).
    Two Face has that Joker-like quality in that he is almost always great in every comicbook appearance. So many great stories really. Faces (Wagner), Half Life (Rucka), even that oneshot in ‘Tec where it was Renee’s b-day and Two Face remebered (another Rucka story that kind of acts as a prequel to Half Life). Robin Year One has a great take on Two Face too. Lots of good ones.

  7. Real good column this week.

  8. Penguin is in the Dark Knight series from Finch right?

    I agree though – would love to see more Freeze and Riddler in comics.

    It’s just like me and Spidey, Marvel had the chance to give us Green Goblin back last year – they teased and teased and in the end it was a giant let down! Maybe it’s better they stay in the past

  9. Thanks for answering my question @Conor! Also, do you have a favorite recent Batman villain? I guess the only good one in a while is Pyg.

  10. Am I the only one who DOESN’T think Batman has the best rogues gallery? 

  11. @JohnVFerrigno  Who do you think has the best? My second would be Spider-Man, but that’s not too original either.

  12. Jason Aason huh?

    Is he a hot new creator on the scene?

  13. @Mooz  OH! Sorry Conor! I have a friend who spells his name that way. I wasn’t paying attention! Sorry!

  14. i met jeff lemire at the emerald city comic con two years ago and i gave him my comic for him to sign and he took the backboard and did a little scetch of gus..two min out of his life got him a life long fan.mignola was gruff to say the least but hes like heroin for me so i couldnt quit him if i wanted to

  15. about Laszlo’s question and Josh’s response: I can testify to the character of iFanboy, while at the Walking Dead Bar Crawl my wife became quite naseated by one of the Squidling Brother’s performances and Conor came from across the bar to make sure she was ok.  Twice.  Makes me proud to be an iFanboy member.

  16. Batman’s rogue’s gallery is often considered to be the greatest in comics. I personally do agree but I also have other rogues galleries that I enjoy more (i.e. Flash’s Rogues, & Spidey’s Rogues). Yet what does make Batman’s villains in particular be extraordinary is, in my belief, that they all represent different facets of fear and/or insanity that Batman could become. Joker = Fear of total insanity, just losing you mind completely. Two-Face = Fear of your dark side taking over or being split into two very different people. Mr. Freeze =  Fear of a broken (or in his case cold) heart. Riddler = He’s much more of a representation of vanity and/or narcissism but he could be the fear of being too full of oneself, maybe? Scarecrow = Fear of, well, fear and spreading it to others. And I believe that Batman is Bruce’s antithesis to these fears & so he dons the cape & cowl to fight his fears every day. As for Top 5 Batman villains besides Joker, I would go with 5) Catwoman (even though she is good now, she was always such a great female match to Batman always outwitting/seducing him at every conflict), 4)Bane (I always like Bane as an analogy for drug addiction & also he is so prideful on his takeover of Batman with either being a venom induced strongman or a drug lord Bane is very much one of Batman’s most underrated villains & I am very excited to see Tom Hardy’s portrayal of him in DKR) 3) Scarecrow (His look alone is just so terrifying I would’ve been creeped out enough, but no, he also was a mad psychologist who experimented on his patients with fear, so creepy) 2) Two-Face (He was Bruce’s best friend led down to darkness, just so unbelievably tragic) 1) Ra’s Al Ghul (He always calls Batman the Detective, he controls an entire army at his disposal & he is “immortal,” Ra’s has always had such an extremely threatening vibe even when he doesn’t mean harm) I realize that I just basically listed all of the used/upcoming villains in Nolan’s Batman movies w/o Joker, but w.e they are all still awesome.

  17. @Suicidalkangarooz  I think batman’s Rogies gallery is highly over-rated. yes, there are a couple of really great characters (Joker, Scarecrow, Ras Al Ghul) but most of his villains are exactly the same. the only thing that changes is the psychosis they suffer from. It’s like a fill in the blank character creation form. A petty thief that is obsessed with (riddles, fire, puppets, umbrellas, calendars, cucumbers, sudoku puzzles, mushroom pizza, etc.)

    I think the Flash has a better Rogue’s gallery. Yeah, they are also just petty thieves with different advanced weaponry for the most part, put at least the weaponry is varied. Plus, Gorilla Grod is ridiculously awesome. He is a super-strong, telepathic, talking gorilla who was the leader of a paradise on Eartha nd said “It’s not enough.” That is greatness right there.

    I think Spider-Man has a better Rogue’s gallery than Batman. I find his villains to be more interesting, with a pretty good variety of abilities and powers to throw at him. At the end of the day, batman’s villains are mostly just going to try to shoot him with a gun. Spider-Man has villains with all kinds of different ways to kill you.

    I also think Iron Man has a pretty cool rogue’s gallery that isn’t utilized enough. A lot of them are just different guys with suits, yeah, but he also has some really cool villains. I love Mandarin, I think he’s a great character. the Controller is awesomeness. Titanium Man and Crimson Dynamo are both great. The Living Lazer is excellent. Spymaster is one of the great villains who doesn’t get his due. I absolutely LOVE The Ghost. Their aren’t enough villains who don’t just want material wealth or power. The Ghost is just ragingly anti-big business and corporate America and wants to destroy Stark to make a political statement. That’s a great, great character. Madame Masque is a cool character, as is Count Nefaria. The list goes on. Yeah, they don’t have the “name recognition’ that batman’s villains do, but i think they are just as god, if not better, than most of them. I would take the Ghost over any batman villain except for joker and Scarecrow.

    I actually feel the Fantastic four has a VASTLY underrated Rogue’s gallery. Everybody thinks they are limited to fighting Dr. Doom and a bunch of losers. This is far from the truth. I think Doom is just SUCH a great character, he overshadows everyone else. In a way, he is almost TOO good of a villain. I think he is the only Marvel villain that is on the same level as Joker. But the FF have way more villains than just Doom. The Skrulls are probably the best alien race ever in comics. Mole Man is the most under appreciated and misused character in all of comics. I think if he were written slightly differently, but adhering to character traits that are already established in his past appearances, he would be an A-List villain. Kang is the best time travel villain ever. Diablo is awesome because he pits mysticism against science when he tangles with the FF. The Wizard and the various incarnations of the Frightful Four are terrific. I love that Wizard is a brilliant scientist who was the talk of the town until Reed Richards and the FF showed up, and he is consumed by jealousy to prove he is better than Reed. Red Ghost and his Power Apes kick total ass, because everything is better with monkeys. The Puppet Master is a quality villain. Namor and the Hulk are both heroes (or anti-heroes) that I consider part of the FF’s rogues gallery. Psycho Man is a fantastic character when written correctly. And then there’s Galactus and his various heralds. Annihilus and Blastaar and the other denizens of the Negative Zone. Doom’s “son” Kristoff has had a lot of good stories. There is probably no rogues gallery that has much variety and different types of challenges as The Fantastic Four’s. From super-criminals to would be world conquerers, alien races, alternate dimension monsters, God-like beings, mages, sorcerers, time travelers, mad scientists, the FF has it ALL. 

    I find that far more interesting than “I want to rob banks, but I need to do it dressed as a chipmunk!”

    Which I know is exaggerating, but really, most Batman villains are just jewel thieves and the like. They just are really nutty in the way they go about it.  

  18. I have to admit that I never cared much for Riddler growing up until Dini made him into a reformed private investigator, that was definitely something I could get behind, but it seems no one else has done anything interesting with this take.

    Also, I know shes not a villain but she is somehow part of Batmans rogues gallery, so how come Catwoman was not included? Surely she ranks in the top 5. 

  19. @DarkKnightDetective  I don’t consider her a villain anymore.

  20. @conor  I agree. Especially when I consider the Bru run the definitive take on the character. A “coming of age” story for her in a way.

  21. @conor  I actually find Catwoman to be less interesting as a hero. I always liked the idea that Batman was trying to stop a villain he felt a strong sexual attraction to. I thought that was a really interesting dynamic. 

  22. Josh,

    I met you guys at HerosCon in Charlotte and I totally relate to what you said about fan interactions.

    I happened to walk by and you guys were dog-tired, literally sitting on the floor and leaning against the wall to get a moment.

    At first I didn’t want to bother you, but Conor got up to video the life-size Silver Surfer statue (new FF movie had just come out) and Ron had enough energy to talk to me for a few moments.

    After giving a few recommendations on where to get good BBQ, I left you to recover.

    It didn’t change how I felt about the best comics podcast out there. In fact, it made me appreciate it even more than Ron took the time to chat about The Smiths for a few minutes.

    As always, make mine iFanboy.


  23. I have always loved Batman since my youth, but i did not really start reading the novels until my early twenties, and i did not even get into floppys until Morrison’s run on Batman. Which in turn has opened this whole world up to me, and that includes comic book sites, specially ifanboy, its nice to hear people actually enjoying the same books, writers and artists that i do, instead of a lot of negativity that seems to have spawned in and around the comic world specially in todays internet world. So with this being my first post ever on any comic related site i would like to give a cheers to ifanboy, to even have writers on here as memebers is astonishing, i thought it was just awesome that Mr. Snyder actually comes out and posts on his fans comments about his work seems to have struck a chord with me. I thought his writing has been tremendous on Detective Comics, but to see that he goes out of his way to be in contact with his fans is just full of radness!! So i tip my hat to ifanboy and all its memebers.

    oh and my top five Bat villians, minus The Joker, would be 5. Zaasz, 4. Freeze 3. Bane, 2. Two Face, 1. Ras Agul.

    to everyone that is looking for more riddler he is starting to re-appear thanks to Tony Daniel, and from what i have read hes a big fan of the older rogues, so he wants to bring back Two face and the Riddler so i look for ward to that. Some other newer rogues that i thought were pretty sweet, Pyg, Dr. Death, The Black Glove, just to name a few. its nice to see a mix of the old and the new characters it keeps things interesting, so in closing thanks to ifanboy and its memebers for making people want to read comics and be a part of its external world!!!!