The iFanboy Letter Column – 06.03.2011

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 was thinking last night about a few things and something popped into my head. I know Magneto’s back story and how he was in Auschwitz during World War II, I also know that the passage of time in comic books is a little different than the real world, but occasionally a writer will include an event and more or less give the Marvel universe a date that is close to the real world, such as including a President or Mayor in a panel or something along those lines.

By real world standards I figure Magneto is about 80 years old and at least in his late 60’s early 70’s in comic book time, because the mutation takes place during puberty so he would have had to been 12-14 when in Auschwitz.

So with all of that said now I ask my question, do you think it bad idea to have a characters back story tied to a specific event such a World War II because eventually that character will become too old and so iconic that changing his or her history will be impossible? They managed to pull of updating the war The Punisher was in (I think in the Punisher Max run but I’m not sure) but I’m don’t think the same could be done for Magneto. I know I’m being a bit OCD about this but I was thinking about it last night and was wondering what you guys though about it.


I’m glad you wrote in, Cody, because I wanted to keep the all X-Men, all the time theme this week going, so thanks for that. As for your question about Magneto, you bring up a very good and interesting problem to ponder. Luckily, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this as well and have the answers you’re looking for!

As to Magneto and his age, thanks to the magic of comic books and the cleverness of comic book writers, this has been addressed already! Not only was it addressed, but it was handled over 30 years ago! Now, the sands of time in comic books move slower and differently than in real time — they have to because comics are (usually) published monthly, and so the progress through time the characters take is slower. That said, having Magneto be a teenager in the early 1940s during Word War II, and the seeing him at adulthood in the X-Men comics of the 1960s would then extrapolate that he’s pretty old by now. Well, luckily in 1974 in the pages of The Defenders #15 and #16, writer Len Wein de-aged Magneto to infancy. He is then placed in the care of Moira MacTaggert on Muir Island to ensure that he doesn’t grow up to be evil (yeah, good luck with that), until he’s restored, not back to his original age, but to his adult prime age. So essentially, comic books solved the problem of Magneto seeming to be anywhere from 60 to 80 through some good ol’ comic book science fun! Throw in the various things that have happened since 1974 (amnesia, imposters etc.) and I bet Magneto really has no idea how old he is, and thus he’s allowed to be a nebulous age, older and wiser, but never really nailed down.

Now, for the question of whether or not it’s good to place a character like this into a specific time of history or not, well that one is a little more tricky. If you ask me, Magneto’s character is defined by his involvement in the concentration camps of World War II, it’s that experience that has fueled his approach to Mutantkind’s plight (in his eyes). I’m not sure that there’s been an event that carries the same amount of weight and instantly puts a character in context like that. Sure there has been the civil rights movement and gay rights etc., but those don’t really fit as well as the World War II scenario.

It was easy to slide The Punisher from Vietnam to The Gulf War (or any other conflict) because it wasn’t the war itself, rather the concept of being a soldier and war (although I do think there’s something to tying The Punisher to Vietnam, but that’s just me). And we’ve seen other chronological updating of characters to keep them “fresh” and relatable to today’s audiences. But ultimately, sometimes you just have to go with it and suspend your disbelief a little longer to allow for the stories we enjoy. I mean, Magneto can bend metal with his mind through his mutant power of magnetism. If you ask me, that’s a little more far fetched than his age.  And that’s why we have so much fun with these funny books.

Ron Richards

I just read the first two Scalped trades, which were fantastic, and I always hear about the great titles at Vertigo, like American Vampire and Sweet Tooth. I know I can go and get the trades of these titles, since I missed the boat on them and I have never read a monthly Vertigo book or even an entire run in trade. I know what the classics are, but I was wondering if there are any upcoming titles or any you guys are excited about. I know you don’t know if how good they’ll be, but I’m hoping to get on the ground floor for a Vertigo series. I’m planning to get the new Andy Diggle and Jock book, but are there any others I should look out for? I know about Spaceman, but I’ve heard a lot about Azzarello’s confusing stories and that Josh didn’t really like 100 Bullets, so I don’t know if I should get that. Anyway, I’d appreciate some info.


I guess I’ll take this one. Sheesh!

Well, I think you’re shooting yourself in the foot a little bit. You can easily get on board with monthly issues of American Vampire, just for instance. Get the first collection, or just do a bit of back issue hunting, and you’re caught up. They’re still in the teens. I started reading a bunch of titles in trades, then switched over to issues. I know that’s crazy to some people, but it’s entirely possible. You’re not dumb. You’ll work it out if you happen to miss an issue.

To say I didn’t like 100 Bullets isn’t exactly correct. I really liked 100 Bullets for a while, but I just lost the thread. I’d like to go back and read the whole thing sometime, actually, because I think I missed out. Therefore, you should definitely start reading Spaceman when it comes out. I’m going to. It’s a no brainer. Check out their new Flashpoint: Batman series, and if you like that, well it’s worth going further.

Also, that Diggle and Jock book is called Snapshot, and it’s not necessarily going to be a Vertigo book. I don’t know where it’s going to be published in the United States. It will appear in Judge Dredd Magazine first. Who knows when?

In the meantime, don’t worry about being “on issue” with this stuff. Read Scalped right up as far as you can. Read DMZ. Read Preacher. Read Fables. They’re good, and enjoyable. When Spaceman comes out, check that out. We’ll make sure to talk about anything new and interesting coming up as well on the site.

That’s all contingent on whether Vertigo actually sticks around for much longer.

Josh Flanagan

I grew up reading Archie but stopped only because I found the stories to be rather repetitive. A few years ago, I bought the Archie Marries… limited series and really enjoyed it! It was a little What if glimpse of Archie’s life if he had chosen to marry Betty or Veronica. I wasn’t aware that they were continuing the storyline until I heard it from your show. I’ve seen the Archie magazines in my local comic book shop but figured it to be reprints of the Archie Marries limited series. I’m glad that it’s a continuing story of Archie’s adult life.

It’s great that we get to see Archie and the gang tackling real-life issues as young adults. I was hoping they can do the same treatment for their high school years? I’m a fan of Friday Night Lights, My So-Called Life, Party of Five, Parenthood, etc., and believe that the Archie Comics would be a great medium to deal with issues not only about their married life, but about their teenage years. Can you imagine Betty’s mom giving her the “talk” about teenage pregnancy and birth control pills?

Alex C.

That’s an interesting question, Alex. Do I want a more realistic take on Archie and the gang’s high school years? Do I want to see a story dealing with Archie accidentally knocking up Betty and having to scrape up the money to get her an abortion or Moose taking steroids so he can get that college scholarship or Jughead murdering the guy who tried to rape Ethel?


You know what? I actually don’t want to read those stories. Those are a little extreme.

We certainly live in the Verisimilitude Age where we want all of our stories to be more realistic and serious, and while I’m as guilty as anyone else in that regard, I don’t think I want that too much from Archie. I like that it’s simple and it’s pure and that no one is smoking pot in the parking lot behind Riverdale High School.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the heck out of the Archie Marries story and that I am not excited to dive into the Archie Loves… stories now that I have stockpiled the first 10 issues. I did and I am. But even though those stories are more realistic (Money problems! Crime!), they are still not all that realistic.

But you’re in luck if you’re looking for stories from Archie and the gang’s high school years that are told as continuing stories more in the vein of the Archie Loves…. From 2007 to 2010 Archie Comics produced the “New Look” series of stories which featured slightly more realistic tales that were continuous and featured the characters drawn in a realistic fashion (above, right). Those stories ran in:

  • Betty & Veronica Double Digest #151-154
  • Jughead’s Double Digest #139-142
  • Archie’s Pals n’ Gals Double Digest #125-128
  • Betty & Veronica Double Digest #170-173
  • Archie’s Double Digest #200-203
  • Archie’s Pals n’ Gals Double Digest #135-138
  • Betty & Veronica Double Digest #180-183

If you enjoyed the Archie Marries story then you’ll probably enjoy those stories too.

Look, if Archie decided to do a new book that featured the Archie characters portrayed as realistic modern day teenagers with realistic modern day problems I would buy it and and probably enjoy it. But I would not feel 100% good about it. I don’t know if I’m emotionally ready to deal with Archie and Veronica sexting.

Conor Kilpatrick


  1. #1. I feel like a huge comic nerd because I knew that about Magneto being turned into a baby.
    #2. I have that book in my collection.

    I do think that WW2 defines who Magneto is. In this case you have to tie him to it and concentration camps. He sees the world in a different light. I think that by tying him to that era can bring a younger audience’s attention to the horrific time in world history.

  2. #1 – Well said Ron. Although, I think it would be great if Magneto (and other characters) eventually did get old and die. Their impact would remain and new characters would come in. Obviously, that would never happen in the big two, though. Wishfull thinking on my part.  And I agree on the Punisher Nam connection being better.

    #2 – Joah, you should reread 100 Bullets. I tink the thread is a little convoluted, but to me, that’s partly what i loved about it. I actually want to go back and reread it, too because I’m sure I’ll get more out of it.

  3. I think magneto’s origin is one of the best in all of comics, one that really defines the character and explains his attitudes and motivations. The thing with being de-aged and then turned back into his prime was a great way to get past that. Comics are full of stuff like that. Wasn’t he also given a cloned body in the 90s? And used his cloned body to start banging Rogue?

  4. Thanks for your response to my email Conor!  I didn’t know that the Archie “New Look” series existed and will definitely check it out.  I’ve been lending my copies of “Archie Marries” to family and friends who have dropped the title 20 years ago and like me, are enjoying it.  This is a good time to be an Archie fan.  
    I consider this to be Archie’s version of their MAX, Ultimate, or Vertigo line. 

  5. Frank Castle IS Vietnam. Vietnam was a very diffrent time, culture and war. It (along with what Ron said, Frank’s metnal character) is what made the Punisher. The Punisher with out Vietnam is A Punisher but not THE Punisher.

  6. @ Tony: You can’t go wrong with any of the Vertigo books that are being published right now. You might read one and think, “Well, this isn’t exactly what I’m into,” but it won’t be junk. Dig in!

  7. @Ron I think if Marvel were ever forced to revist Magneto’s origin and WWII was no longer an option, you could easily substitute the war in Bosnia as an equally atrocious and traumatizing event that shapes his worldview. It took place in eastern Europe, so it wouldn’t necessarily have to change his ethnicity too much and it while it wasn’t at the same scale as the holocaust, it also involved horrific events which took place only a little under 20 years ago.

  8. Thanks for answering my question! I’m disappointed to know Snapshot isn’t coming out in America (yet).

  9. @mikegraham6  I was thinking the same thing. In about 20 years they could update Magneto’s origin from Auschwitz survivor to Bosnian Genocide survivor. But then that would also change him from being a European Jew into a Bosnian Muslim.

    What would also make an interesting story would be if the X-Men with a “good” Magneto on their side encounter a mutant survivor of the Bosnian or Rwandian Genocide, and it is Mageneto who must convince this person of the error of their ways. Or it could even be the catalyst for Magento going villain again. 

  10. I love it that conor is now an ‘Archie Historian’.

  11. @spaceghost15  Not sure if spaceghost15 is making this entirely clear or not, but (at least as far as PunisherMAX is concerned) it’s referred to as recently as the current issue that Frank is definately a Vietnam vet.  I’m a bit less sure about the Marvel Earth-616 Punisher (who’s about to relaunch in a new series as part of Marvel’s “Big Shots” rebranding), as I can’t actually recall the last reference to Frank Castle’s wartime career.  Maybe the new series will clarify that.

  12. If you’re looking for a Vertigo title, I would highly suggest giving Unwritten a try. In my opinion, it’s the best book being put out by anyone right now. There should be trades out there. I suppose that there’s no word yet on how the reboot effects Vertigo, especially characters like Swamp Thing that have always been part of both lines?  

    Also, I agree that Magento’s connection to World War II should be kept for as long as possible. I suppose if The X-Men are still being published fifty years from now, they may need to get more creative, but why worry about that now . . ?

  13. Regarding the Archie email, while I agree with Conor that you wouldn’t want to see any of the things he described in an Archie comic, I do think he jumped to one extreme without considering the full argument. Yes we should all be agreed that no one wants to see such troubling, deadly serious subjects like rape or abortion in Archie, but at the same time I think there’s some “real life issues” that can be tackled in a manner that is instructive, while still remaining light hearted and entertaining. 

  14. @BoneMachine  You must not watch Friday Night Lights.

  15. Hey Josh – I actually think DCs new announcement gave Vertigo a boost.  I was talking to my retailer and he was informed Vertigo was being left alone.  This was done because Vertigo is doing a brisk sale in trades and with day and date digital they want to make sure that the dealers still make money off trades.  Granted, with Vertigo characters popping up all over DC this information may be tantamount to pillow talk for comic slingers but I was mildly encouraged.