The iFanboy Letter Column – 05/21/2010

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means movie night. For others, Friday means pure unbridled hedonism. For some, it’s both.

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 really love kung fu and samurai movies like Kill Bill and Kung Fu Hustle and anything with Bruce Lee in it. I was wondering if there might be any kung fu and samurai comics that might be worth checking out that you guys could recommend if possible? I have checked out The Immortal Iron Fist with Brubaker and Fraction and I loved it, but the later story arcs were not really cutting it. So I am out looking for any other ones that might spark some interest. 


Ha! You think my kung fu is not weak? You are not in the wrong! My kung fu is more mighty than the black tiger. Eat my comic book style! Ha!

At first, I was blanking on this entirely, and then it occurred to me: Lone Wolf and Cub. That’s the granddaddy big boy of samurai comics. There are 28 manga sized volumes available in english from Dark Horse Comics. They are $10 each retail, so the story is no small investment, but I have read every one (THANK YOU, FORMER ROOMMATE!) and they really are all they’re cracked up to be. It’s basically a collection of stories about a masterless samurai, or Ronin, Ogami Itto, who wanders feudal Japan on a mission of revenge against the Yagyu clan, who have disgraced him.  The catch is that he travels with his 3 year old son Daigoro in a wooden cart. But the fact is, he kicks a hell of a lot of ass. It’s a page turner, and it’s pure fun. That’s the story you want to read.

In the lesser known world, go now and check out Kagan McLeod’s Infinite Kung Fu. He’s an artistic genius and it’s as fun as it looks. Seriously, just check out the previews on the website, and if that site doesn’t get you excited, there is simply no hope for you.

Josh Flanagan

Can Thor really fly? It seems to me that he just winds up Mjolnir, flings it as hard and just let it drag him to whatever direction he throws it to (like a ragdoll?) If so, does he have to wind the hammer up and throw it again mid-air to change direction?

I was reading old issues of The Incredible Hercules a few weeks ago and Amadeus Cho keeps saying he is the fourth smartest man on Earth (well 5th since Hank Pym came back from his Skrull captivity), but who are the first three smartest? I’m guessing the first two are Reed Richards and Von Doom, who is the third? That D-bag Stark?


So often we get caught up talking about the business of comics like who’s editor in chief where, or how many issues a comic sold or what’s going to happen with digital comics, and we often forget how much fun superhero comics can be. And part of that fun are silly and often hilarious questions about characters and their abilities. These are the type of conversations that keep us at the local comic shop for hours on Wednesday and remind me of why I love superhero comics. So thank you Benj, for reminding me of this.

Thor FlyingTo answer your first question, my immediate gut reaction was: No, Thor does not have the power of flight. He can only fly when he’s holding Mjolnir. In terms of changing direction, I don’t believe he has to wind it up again, rather he just points it in the direction he wants to go in and eases into the turn. Now, I was pretty sure about that answer, but I wanted to be 100% sure, so I consulted the all-knowing Wikipedia entry for Thor and found out that my gut response was correct. And then the fun began.

Did you know that Thor does have powers of his own, in addition to wielding Mjolnir? In fact he’s resistant to physical injury, has super human senses including super breath and A KISS THAT CAN OVERWHELM MORTAL WOMEN! And even without Mjolnir, he can create a tornado just using his cape! Now where are the Thor stories that include that sort of stuff!?? Maybe if there were more of them I’d read Thor on a regular basis.

Oh, also, “as Donald Blake he is a highly trained and licensed physician and surgeon”, you know, just in case you need that

As for the smartest minds in the Marvel Universe, I’m not aware of the “official” list, but I believe that Amadeus Cho came in as the 7th smartest mind in the Marvel Universe (and now 8th), but I’m sure the Hercules fans out there will correct me. But assuming there are seven ahead of Cho, I think they would be: Reed Richards, Victor Von Doom, The High Evolutionary, Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, Hank McCoy, and Hank Pym. But that’s just my opinion. I’m sure you have your own. But despite your lack of approval, Tony Stark is pretty high up there.

Ron Richards

I was browsing Marvel’s solicitations for May, and can someone please explain to me what in the holy Christmas is The Heroic Age? Figured who better to ask then you guys.

Also one more question, after recently listening to your Don’t Miss podcast. I came to the realization that you three have been fairly well embedded in the comic book industry as of late. As obvious fanboys, how cool is that? Or do you guys now know stuff about creators/companies, and the all around bureaucracy of the behind the scenes turned you off a little?

Mark B.

The Heroic Age

Hey, it’s May! It’s probably a good time to answer your e-mail, Mark!

What is the “The Heroic Age”? Well, primarily it’s a marketing term that Marvel is using to brand their new status quo post-Civil War-Secret Invasion-Dark Reign-Siege. That’s really all it is. Oh, and it’s also the name slapped on a really terribly-designed banner on top of most current Marvel Comics.

As members of the comics media we are fairly well embedded in the comics industry and there are definitely a lot of behind the scenes things that we see and hear that we would not be privy to otherwise. And you know what? It’s a testament to the industry and the people in it that I can’t really think of anything that I’ve seen or heard that has really turned me off, at least for very long. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent time in the television industry in both New York and Los Angeles where some truly crazy sociopaths people work. Honestly, the comic book industry is a pretty great place full of wonderfully talented and passionate people, and if anything getting a peek behind the curtain has only strengthened my love for it.

Conor Kilpatrick


  1. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Oh my god, I loathe that Heroic Age banner. So effing Dollar Tree. Does it come with stickers? 

    @SpiderTitan – Check out Rurouni Kenshin (light) or Blade of the Immortal (bloody).  

  2. Every time I see that HA banner, I wish Sonia was back and trashing it in a article or podcast. That’d be entertaining.

    Horrendous banner. 

  3. I’ve heard about Lone Wolf & Cub, but isn’t that Manga? And isn’t Manga where you read backwards (right to left)? Either way I’ll check it out, the Infinite Kung Fu looks promising I might check that one out as well. I also heard of a samurai comic by Frank Miller, anybody know just what that is about?


    P.S. @ PaulMontgomery, Yeah I checked those out Blade of the Immortal looks more like my cup of tea, so I will definitely look into that one I would rather have more bloody comics that light. Thanx

  4. @SpiderTitan — If I’m not mistaken, the Lone Wolf and Cub books have been "flipped" so that you read them left to right like American comics. They are very good.

    I’m surprised that Josh didn’t mention Usagi Yojimbo! 😉

  5. regardig samurai comics – usagi yojimbo might be worth looking into. it captures a lot of the "feel" of feudal japan really well.

  6. the last issue of New Mutants features a pretty accurately depicted karate kick by Dani Moonstar. 

    skimming through the first Essential volume also reveals that stamping Mjolnir twice on the ground will create a storm, fast rotation emits anti-matter particles, it allows for time travel, and four stamps produces lightning.

    I would argue that since Mjolnir was made for Thor and that hurling it with his godly strength and power causes it to fly, the ability of flight is his.  but I suppose that’s one reader’s interpretation.

  7. you know what was a good tag line? spidermans The Gaunlet. why did they drop it, if its obvious hes still in the gaunlet? WHY MARVEL, WHY!!!

  8. For kung fu, I would recommend Sam Noir.  It was series put out by Image’s Shadowline brand a few years ago, and it has some incredilbly, brutal and bloody samurai action.  Also, if you wanted some more light hearted fare, I would suggest American Born Chinese, which follows the story of a kung fu monkey.  It’s also beautiful and incredible.

  9. @SpiderTitan: Thre are plenty of great bloody Samurai manga out there.  Most read from right to left, unless they’re "Americanized".  It’s easy once you get used to it.  There was a foreign book that Marvel put out in the States. I believe it was called Samurai, check it out.

    I could’ve sworn at one time Thor could fly. However, characters get retconned so much that it’s hard to tell.  I seem to remember that he use to revert back to Donald Blake if he was separated from Mjolnir to long.

  10. Is Kagen McLeod the Highlander?

  11. I thought Tony and Reed were at the top of smartest. Like tied.

  12. @JesTr- one minute to be exact

  13. Lone Wolf and Cub is one the great comics of all time. I don’t read a lot of manga but this is well worth the money and you can find a full set on ebay for a pretty good price.

  14. If you’re looking for good samurai books, either Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo or Takehiko Inoue’s Vagabond are the books to go for.

  15. "In fact he’s resistant to physical injury, has super human senses including super breath and A KISS THAT CAN OVERWHELM MORTAL WOMEN! And even without Mjolnir, he can create a tornado just using his cape!  Now where are the Thor stories that include that sort of stuff!??"

    For realsies! You would think they’d at least be utilizing tornado cape. Pertsonally, I think he should be using that kissing power on a monthly basis. And what exactly is super breath? Is it like Superman’s freeze breath? Or a really pungent stink? If it’s some kind of Asgardian halitosis, it’s no wonder he can overwhelm mortal women. 

  16. Amadeus was indeed named by Reed Richards as the 7th smartest person in the world.  I agree with the people on Ron’s list accept for Hank Pym’s placement.  I think he would be fourth, behind The High Evolutionary, but before Banner. I would also consider replacing Hank McCoy with Mr. Sinister, but he is supposed to be dead right?

    @ JumpinJupiter     Though I know you are a fan, there is NO way Stark is smarter than Doom. 🙂

  17. I wanna see a miniseries about all the smartest heroes of Marvel fight each other, but instead of fistacuffs, they play chess or Risk or something smarts.

  18. I didn’t think of Usagi Yojimbo, because… well, I stopped reading it. I can see why it’s good, and I enjoyed it, but it just doesn’t entirely do it for me month in and month out.

  19. Reed and Doom are neck and neck, that’s what makes their rivlary.  if you assume that, Tony is defaulted to third at the highest.

  20. Wow Conor is pissed at Marvel today.  See, DC never gets this kind of hate on this site.  Can’t name 1 specific example of this site (Not other sites) hating on DC.  It could be called the passive-agressive hate, but still.

  21. @KickAss: Haha. You want to like that banner more power to ya. You’d be the first person I’ve ever heard of who does, though.

  22. Because he doesn’t like a typeface? You’re insane. You want an example? I’ll give you an example.  When Superman came out, written by James Robinson, it was overbolded to hell. We made fun of it.  That’s probably tantamount to not liking the design of a banner on a cover.

  23. Ok, ok, you don’t hate Marvel.  Proven wrong again.  😉

  24. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    The tinfoil finish on the Heroic Age banner would make a great hat. 

  25. You know when you bite into a bagel and you’re like, "I think I taste mold". Well looking at that banner gives me that exact same feeling. An actuall physical reaction.

  26. @kickass yeah of the big two i read WAY more marvel and i dont like that banner

  27. I was gonna say… but no. Not worth it.

  28. Lone Wolf and Cub is fantastic, definitely check it out.

  29. For Kung Fu/Samurai stuff there’s Brian Clevinger (Atomic Robo’s) webcomic How I Killed Your Master


  30. Crossgen had a samurai book (The Path), which I know had at least one TPB, and a martial arts book (Way of the Rat) which I’m not sure of its collection status. The Path got good reviews back in the day, so check it out how you can.

  31. Can Lone Wolf and Cub be read out of order? (like Hellboy?).  Bookstores always have so many holes in manga series..

  32. LW&C has to be read in order, for best effect. But it’s sort of loose. I would suggest going in order though.

  33. Marvel did a Chuck Norris series back in the 80s. I got one in a grab bag as a kid. Maybe there’s an omnibus? =)

    @ Paul–"So effing Dollar Tree" Quote of the year.

  34. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    cough* I still say Hellboy needs to be read in order. *cough*

  35. Lone Wolf would be a really considerable investment, so I might just check out the first volume b/c I heard so much of it & judge from there I mean is the first volume at least a good story in of its own that leads into the rest or do I have to read them all in order to get the gist of the story?

  36. I think at this point, it’s best to read Hellboy in order, but you could get away with it.

  37. The main stories might not have to be read in order. To be honest the last two main Hellboy stories have very vague tie-in’s to the previous. I’m sure Mignola had plans for the character since day 1, but it’s hard to see that with Seed of Destruction. That’s not a complaint mind you, just an observation. Remember when Mignola hinted Hellboy could’ve had an alien origin in Conquerer Worm?

    I would love to see the short stories/mini-series in order though. They are fine to read on their own, but it would be neat to see Hellboy’s missions in chronological order. Then again Kill Bill was suppose to be re-released to be in chronological order but it wasn’t, and it didn’t hurt the films by not doing so.

  38. Isn’t there going to be a Kill Bill 3 that is going to take place like 15 years later than the 1st two volumes? If so that would be awesome!!!

  39. @Neb What is Sam Noir about? You say that it’s got a lot of samurai action & stuff but what is like the main story? With a name like Sam Noir I am thinking that this may be a fusion of noir/detective/crime, etc. genre with Samurai/Kung Fu genre which sounds Awesome, but is that what it is? And if so is it on going?

  40. It’s funny, but by itself — as seen above — the Heroic Age banner looks kinda nice. But as a banner slapped on a comic it’s horrendous. 

  41. @spidertitan – with the frank miller thing i think you’re thinking of ronin.  it has samurai influence but i believe takes place in a dystopic future – like most Miller.  i haven’t read it and have heard mixed things.

  42. You know, as for the question of "Who are the smarties of the Marvel universe?" I think the current Fall of the War of the March of the Hulks has a plot that hinges on the bad guys kidnapping exactly those people. If you’re intrigued by the prospect of a dumb book about smart people, that might be a great place to start your investigation.

  43. @kmob181 A Samurai tale in the dystopian future? Like Samurai Jack? Did this Frank Miller tale like influence Samurai Jack at all, b/c it sounds a lot like Samurai Jack from what you’re saying.

  44. OK, everyone hates the banner. I don’t love it, either, but it honestly doesn’t bother me that much. Any chance I can get a promise from everyone that they’ll stop ragging on it when June comes around? 🙂


  45. I like that it reminds me of Super NES games.  not any one in particular, just in general.

  46. once the pandora’s box of kitschy type effects has been opened, its almost impossible to close. Some decision maker at Marvel assumes this is what comic readers expect and want to see.

  47. I thought Tony Stark was the Marvel Universe’s smartest man as of Invincible Iron Man #26. When Tony explained his brain was being fed with the energy of a star, Reed had to stretch his brain just to comprehend how smart Tony is now.

  48. Err… Invincible Iron Man #25, I mean.

  49. @spidertitan: yes! It is! But cooler. I have a copy of Absolute Ronin from my library and it is beautiful.

  50. How can anybody in his right mind stop reading Usagi Yojimbo? I will never, ever read anything that Josh wrote again. For revenge. And while listening to the podcast, I’ll fast forward when he is speaking.

  51. Sweet then I will definitely check out Ronin, old Frank Miller was a genius! New Frank Miller, uh, not so much, lol. Hey Josh how come you guys didn’t dom a video podcast of Frank Miller, I mean I know you guys did one for Sin City & that you guys have covered Dark Knight Returns, but whatabout the works he has done that most people may not know about like I just found out about Ronin which I never heard of & I love Frank Miller. I can’t tell you guys how many people don’t know about his Daredevil run its so frustrating. So maybe iFanboy you could do a video podcast on the lesser known works of Frank Miller, kind of like the 5 Batman stories you guys did when The dark Knight came out. Also while on the subject of Daredevil, can anyone tell me if Diggle’s run is any good, b/c I dropped the title a bit by accident. Also also iFanboy you guys should also do a video podcast about Daredevil, too!

  52. @SpiderTitan I dropped Daredevil after 13(?) years 3 issues into Diggles run. Didn’t like it, for several reasons, even though it not really bad, it just was lacking something for me. On the other hand (no pun intended) it looks like I am some kind of exception. Most people seem to like Diggles run just fine so far. And there is a little "event" coming up that might bring something to it.

    Bottom line: You better check it out yourself. 

  53. Yea I’ve been hearing about this event its called Shadowland right? Its like with Daredevil, Luke Cage, Spider-Man & Iron Fist? and thats why I want to catch up with Diggle’s run for the event. But I guess I will wait for the eventual trade when it comes out, whenever that is.

  54. the current arc of DD actually features a nice martial arts-related story.  just to bring it around full circle

  55. @Mangaman: I was gonna mention that but I didn’t wanna start (yet another) argument. But yeah, seems they are moving Tony at the top of the intellectual ladder as a story point. Looks like maybe they dumbed him down and then they’ll boost him right up to show how he handles both extremes.

    Also earlier in the run he beat Reed at a multiple board chess game and Pepper’s mentioned him being the smartest person on the planet.

    I dunno, maybe it’s just the way I interpret it.

  56. Sorry not @mangaman but rather @Johnnystooge

  57. I can’t believe no one has mentioned Shang-chi the Master of Kung Fu from the 70’s, the grand daddy of all Kung Fu comics (IMHO). It’s by writer Doug Moench and artist Paul Gulacy, two brilliant creators. Don’t know if it’s collected but do try to find the issues, it’s totally worth it if you love all things Kung Fu.

  58. @JumpingJupiter thats the solo series push that Tony’s getting. In that in general a character will seem like the Greatest Hero In The World in the context of their own book. In the MU as a whole Reed is still the main man

  59. I completely ignore the heroic age logo, it seem just great for marvel to slap on to direct people who may be getting back into comics, new to comics, and for the marketing of a graphic novels to book stores. I have ignored every one of those graphic titles used to promote a wave in a comic brand, like I ignore almost all commercials while watching television. To bad the industry can’t afford to print their books with out the banner.

  60. @Oliver: I assume you don’t collect books for their covers? Just wondering, because I’ll sometimes buy books just for their covers…

  61. Samurai by Marvel on their Soliel line. The art is beautiful and I think another miniseries is coming out. Also Daughters of the Dragon from Marvel was fun. More moderny kung fu antics.

  62. No love for Iron Fist????

    I think Tony Stark and Reed Richards are pretty close when it comes to who is the smartest. the thing you have to take into account is their specific fields of specialty. If you are looking for theoretical physics or intersteller space travel, Reed is your guy. If you want to go more towards engineering and technology, you go to Stark. Hank McCoy is recognized as the world’s leading authority on mutation and genetics. It’s all about what you want to know.  

  63. @jumpingjupiter: it’s totally cool my man. I make those typos all the time. I’m just grateful ur responding to me. (too needy?)

    Anywho, spidertitan be sure to find back issues of Marvel’s “shadowmasters” if u go dollarbin diving in conventions. It’s pretty good.