The iFanboy Letter Column – 06/27/2008

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means it’s the last work day before a well deserved weekend. For others, Friday is the day snap out of your humdrum, day-to-day existence and become a world class killer.

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 —


Here’s a link to the some of the rare concept art for the original 1985 series. The artist is Steve Parke, he did In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe and I, Paparazzi for Vertigo. If you go back a few pages on his flickr site, there’s a pic of Galactus there too.

Oh yeah, question, is All-Star Superman in continuity?

Joe G. from Baltimore, MD

Marvel 1985 is one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a while. I really loved the first issue — which I totally picked up on a whim — and I really liked the second issue a lot. There is something very visceral about the idea of these larger than life comic book characters stepping off the page into the real world. Who among us hasn’t thought about what that would be like? Also, as a child of the ’80s myself, it was like stepping into a time machine.

As Ron said on the podcast when we talked about the first issue, the original concept of Marvel 1985 was to use fumetti style, which is to say they were going to use photographs instead of drawings. I think they made the right choice using drawings, but it’s pretty cool to see some of the test photographs that Joe found. Nice work, Joe!

Actually, now that I think about it, this series is somewhat similar to Superman: Secret Identity which was a prestige size mini-series that Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen did. In that book, Superman is a character in comic books, television and film, just like in our world. A boy named Clark Kent — who is really sick of all the Superman jokes — wakes up one day with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. It was one of the best Superman stories I’ve read in a while.

Speaking of Superman — no, All-Star Superman is not in regular DCU continuity. It exists all on its own. Which seems to be working out in its favor, I think.

Conor Kilpatrick

I have a small problem when it comes to buying comics. Sometimes I want to read a new series, but I don’t know if I should just wait until everything is collected or just dive into the monthly book. What type of criteria do you guys use when choosing to read in the trade and hardcover form vs the issue form.

Matthew from Augusta, GA

This is the eternal question for the modern comic book reader isn’t it? The answer is likely different for everyone, and for every series. I guess the first thing you should do is a little research. Go over to the forums, and ask, or check it out on Wikipedia. Some series are one long story, with 5 year payoffs. This is often the case with Vertigo books, or creator owned series from Image, like Invincible. For stories like this, it really doesn’t make sense to miss the beginning, or read it out of order. You can’t really jump into the middle of Fables, Preacher, or Y: The Last Man and expect to get as much enjoyment out of it, had you been reading from the beginning. In fact, that might make the series completely incomprehensible. I remember I’d heard all this hubbub about Preacher when I started reading comics again, and I picked up issue #49 randomly, as I was pretty unfamiliar with long form stories like that, and it made no sense at all. It wasn’t good, or enjoyable in any way, and I didn’t end up reading the first trade for years after. Prior to that, I’d just read superhero comics, where you could almost jump on at any point.

But times have changed, and long form storytelling is fairly commonplace, such to the point where people make an effort to point out “jumping on points” in series now, so new readers will know when it’s safe to jump in the water. But if you’re reading superhero books, there’s usually a jumping on point no more than a few months back where you can safely start reading a title. But when I was young, and reading comics, I would just pick something up because it had a cool cover, and hit the ground running. We didn’t even have Wikipedia then, to fill in the gaps. If  you’re the obsessive compulsive type who have to have everything, then you’re going to want to take a deep breath, and save your pennies, because you’ll be spending a lot of time and money trying to catch up to everything.

Whether you continue to read something in collected form or issues after you’ve “caught up” is up to you I suppose. If you liked reading in big chunks, and you don’t mind waiting, then wait for trades. It seems like the old risk of the trade never being released is almost a thing of the past, except with the absolute lowest selling books. Again, that OCD can kick in, and some people want all their books and issues to be the same format, and you do what works best for you. The nice thing about the industry now is that you usually have a choice in how you want to consume that media, which is a very good thing.

Josh Flanagan

Great show this week — I’ve been listening for several months, and today decided for some reason that I had to drop you a line after your mention of The Incredible Hercules #118 and the dude who was jazzed on the puppy. I may not be the first to chime in, but here goes:

1) Re: the seemingly random breathless puppy-centric review: The last pages of #118 shows Kirby (the puppy) watching Herc and Snowbird sexin’ — and then the perspective swivels around and Kirby has glowing green eyes. Which means he’s a Skrull, which means that those of us who have loved the ooky wooky little boo boo this whole time, like me and that dude, are sort of crushed.

2) This is pretty much the best book Marvel is putting out right now, and I know some fan says that about every title out there, but I know I’m not the only one in this case. I was pretty surprised that none of you are reading it — if you haven’t picked it up because you didn’t like World War Hulk, it literally has nothing to do with that. In this “Sacred Invasion,” Herc is leading a “God Squad” dispatched by Athena to attack and defeat the Skrull’s gods, so that the religious extremists who are leading the Skrull invasion have nothing to worship anymore. It’s a really fascinating take, and I secretly wish this were the main storyline in Secret Invasion — it’s a lot more imaginative at least. Plus it’s freaking hilarious, with the same balance of taking itself seriously/not doing so that Guardians of the Galaxy has.

Anyway, just felt the urge to do you some learnin’, sorry if this was Herc learnin’ email #267. Keep up the good work!

Evie Nagy, co-host of Awesomed By Comics

This subject of The Incredible Hercules book seems to keep cropping up and I find it fascinating.  After World War Hulk ended and I saw that they had moved The Hulk out of his long running series The Incredible Hulk and changed its name to The Incredible Hercules, I dismissed it completely out of my fanboyish loyalty to consistency in the legacies of Marvel. I want original numbering in series and I want to classic titles to remain forever. But something stirred in me that maybe I shouldn’t dismiss it completely. Something that Greg Pak was doing during World War Hulk definitely piqued my interest, but ultimately my wallet won out and I simply couldn’t justify adding another book that I was curious about. But Greg Pak (and now Fred Van Lente who’s work I enjoy immensely) seem to be building a good thing with The Incredible Hercules that reminds me of what Dan Slott was doing a couple of years ago with The Thing and She Hulk.

So here is where I put my pessimistic, hardened comics journalist vet hat on and say that while you may love this book, Evie (and the guy who likes the puppy), I would imagine that not a lot of other people do and there’s no way the series can last. Not many people are going to read a book about a second string Avengers character like Hercules. But before I gave my jaded opinion, I thought I’d actually look up the sales estimates and I have to admit, I’m totally shocked. Looking at the last 4 issues, I see that not only has The Incredible Hercules shipped on time every month, but it’s consistently in the top 50 comics. Here’s the break down of the past four issues:

• Issue #117 – 53,000+
• Issue #116 – 44,000+
• Issue #115 – 49,000+
• Issue #114 – 52,000+

Now given the caveat that these are the number of issues that were ordered by stores and not issues actually bought by people, but hovering around the 50k mark for orders consistently means that store owners/managers think someone is reading this, or they wouldn’t be ordering in that volume.

So Evie, maybe you’re right. Maybe The Incredible Hercules is worth checking out… I can admit when I’m uninformed and wrong. Now let’s see how long it can sustain, because really, is Hercules anyone’s favorite character? Oh and this was Herc learnin’ e-mail #1 — and sorry to hear about the puppy. I guess he was too cute to be permanent.

Ron Richards


  1. Hmmm, Nowhere in Ron’s response does he say he’ll be trying Incredible Herc…

  2. Thanks for following up, Ron. The reason I thought I’d be one of many Herc advocates to write you was that I hear gushing over this book all over the place… I did also think that maybe it was one of those "critically acclaimed" niche books that didn’t have high numbers, but then I was heartened by press releases like this: Of course, as you say, the sellout is at the Diamond level–but a reprint with a variant cover has to be a good sign. Anyway, it’s real good. 🙂

  3. Josh’s answer to Matthew’s letter reminds me of when I first started seriously reading comics 20+ years ago. I found a copy of Uncanny X-Men 124 on a trash heap out in the woods. I didn’t know X-Men from Adam. Not a thing. I knew some Spider-man, but that was about it. But, thanks to Claremont’s now much-maligned over exposition, I had a pretty good handle on what was going on by the end of the book. I picked up the newest X-Men from a comic rack a few days later (somewhere around issue 150) and again Claremont schooled me in X-minutae: Collossus’s neurosis about leaving mother Russia, Wolverine’s worries he’ll never really fit in to the group because of his berzerker rages, Ororo’s growing up a street urchin, etc., etc. Another couple of issues and I knew all there was to know about the merry mutants up to then.

    As a modern reader I dislike unnecessary exposition. But I have to admit, it does help get the new reader on board and up to speed pretty quickly.

  4. I opted out of Incredible Hercules for financial reasons as well, just like a jumping on point, this seemed like a great time to Jump Off. That being said, I kind of regret it. I have a complete run of Hulk and Incredible Hulk when they renumbered it and now it just stops after two issues of Incredible Hercules. I hear only good things about the book. Oh well, maybe I can find it in the $1 bin at a show. 

  5. I think waiting for the trade depends on the book itself. Watching TV weekly vs. DVDs of a season is the same basic thing; "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "24" are both TV shows, but they play very differently and offer different rewards. As I was saying the other week, I tried a "good jumping on point" for Fables and jumped right into the revelation of the book’s biggest surprise to date. It was like going to see The Sixth Sense and having the usher who tears your ticket say, "He’s dead. Enjoy the show."

    As for Hercules, to say that it doesn’t take itself too seriously is an understatement and a half. It’s like it’s written by someone who wants to be Neil Gaiman but can’t keep a straight face. I always spelled "Hercules" U-G-H before this book, but I gave it one issue on the strength of Greg Pak’s work and haven’t looked back. Seeing Herc and Snowbird and that Eternal whose name escapes me sail to kill the enemy’s gods with a little puppy-wuppy cheers me immensely each month.

  6. Hercules really sounds like the kind of book I ought to be reading.  I’ve been complaining since ‘Cable & Deadpool’ died that there’s not a real funny book in the main Marvel Universe, and this might fill that void —  also, Fred van Lente is clearly an evil genius, based on his work on Wolverine: First Class (this is a compliment).

    Though for the record, I’m pretty sure the ‘dude’ who was so concerned about Amadeus Cho’s puppy is a ‘she.’ 

  7. Oh, well, I guess it would be us girls gushing over the puppy :). I said "dude" because I’m pretty sure Ron said "he" during the podcast, but maybe that was the default, apologies. Anyway, I’m a cat person but that is a cute damn skrully dog.

  8. @abcevie  S’okay, I only knew because she commented on one of the podcast posts. i just figured us girls should stick together.

    (and now we’re apologizing to each other.  we really are such girls.  time to declare a secret love for Punisher MAX, or something like that). 

  9. The puppy’s not a skrull, it’s got gamma poisoning. Coming soon: The Incredible Kirby.

    Hey, if Ang Lee could gamma-tize poodles…

  10. I’ll throw in more praise for Incredible Herc.  It may not be the best book Marvel is putting out, but it is the best book no one is reading.

  11. That’s just it–no one isn’t not not reading it (?). What I mean is, folks is reading it. The sales are good, they’re reprinting the most recent issue.

     @ohcaroline: Yeah, Punisher MAX all the way. (He’s so *dreamy*!)

  12. Yeah, with sales like Ron posted, it’s defintiely NOT an unread book.

  13. WOW.

    A Hercules book doing great numbers!?!?!?!?!?

    Really? Hercules?

    I thought for sure that this was going to be one of those books that I find myself liking, but ends up getting shit canned after 6-7 months cuz of bad sales.

    It seems there is hope for us yet. 

  14. Wow, that Fumetti style really looks awesome in those early pages of 1985. Man if they even tried to continue with that, I’m sure the series would not have come out until….2185. 200 years after the actual year happenend. lol But still I love those Doom and Mole Man pics.

    As for Incredible Herc….how the fuck can you not love it? It’s a completely different series on it’s own. It is an action title, just like Hulk, but with so much great references to Greek mythos its a hard not to appreciate the homework for the writers. Plus it’s funny, much funnier then Incredible Hulk was, and overall it’s just a fun time to read. I hope it comes in trades soon, I got the issues, but I want a hardcover like no tommorow. Oh and we all forgot one important thing about Herc:

    GOD SQUAD!!!!!!!

  15. So. I don’t follow much Marvel. Someone explain this to me. The Incredible Hulk changed its name to The Incredible Hercules and The Hulk isn’t in it anymore? Isn’t that just called a new book?

  16. Yeah, basically. The Hulk has a book now, but it’s just called "Hulk". The Hulk isn’t anywhere in Incredible Hercules, but Incredible Hercules spun out of World War Hulk. Also, Amadeus Cho was a main character in The Incredible Hulk, and now he’s a main character in Incredible Hercules. Clear as a bell, right? 🙂