The iFanboy Letter Column – 07.23.2010 (Jim, Paul, and Tom Edition!)

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. For others, neither.

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 —


With the semi-recent revitalization of the cosmic universes at both Marvel and DC do you think their magic universes could receive the same treatment beyond just the current Zatanna or new Doctor Strange ongoing? The general consensus I’ve heard (and agree with) about the problem with magic in stories is the seemingly limitless power. Other than a creative cap to fix this problem, do you see any other inherent problems in either universe? Which would you rather see (or think could be better), Marvel or DC? Who would like to see work on these projects?


Dr. Strange by Eric CaneteI have my own theory about the Magic Problem. It’s true that magical characters/titles have a problem taking off in this day and age, but I don’t think it’s necessarily because of magic’s limitless power; Reed Richards could pull out some Kirby-looking blingwad and do anything Doctor Strange ever did in a comic, and no one would bat an eyelash if he explained the “science.” I think the real issue is that many of us in the modern audience like our logic, or believe we do. We like our rules and our continuity and a universe with a structure. We need to see a cross-section of the hidden base. Superheroes and their origins are outlandish, but all of their powers have explanations, even if those explanations are nuts when you think about them for more than a couple of seconds: Well, sure he can fly; the sun is yellow. They can do all that crazy hogwash because of the cosmic rays and the gamma radiation. Don’t you see?: Storm can make it snow because of proteins in her DNA. Entirely quantifiable.

Magic flies in the face of all that. Magic is a great big “just because,” and a lot of people have no room for “just because” anymore. When J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada famously parted ways over the conclusion of Spider-Man’s “One More Day” storyline, Quesada was quoted at one point as saying, “It’s magic, we don’t need to explain it,” and it became the haters’ sneering rallying cry that week. Personally, I shook my head at Straczynski’s reply: “Magic has to have rules.” I respectfully disagree. “Breaking all the known rules in a way that defies explanation” actually sounds like a decent definition of the word “magic.” But we have a hard time reconciling that with the rest of the universe we’re reading, and I’d argue that’s why people these days aren’t down with those books.

As for who should do what: it’s not about the companies, but rather about the creators. Eric Canete or Nathan Fox could do a hell of a thing with those floaty Doctor Strange dimensions, and Paul Cornell would do a great job writing about the otherworldly for any company. It might also be nice to see, for example, a Doctor Voodoo book by someone like Rick Remender.

Jim Mroczkowski


With Fear Agent winding down and the fates of both Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy uncertain, what other similar cosmic books would you recommend, past or present?


Well, I for one am very excited about that upcoming Rocket Raccoon and Groot story announced at SDCC this year, and it looks like some kind of Cosmic Avengers title is on the way too. But let’s look at some of the cosmic fun already out there.

The easiest comparison over at DC are the Green Lantern Corps books. Gibbons and Tomasi have generated some terrific science fiction, and Guy Gardner is always good for some laughs. I’d also recommend Tony Bedard’s fantastic R.E.B.E.L.s series, which focuses on the offspring on Brainiac. A bit of time travel, crazy aliens, the evolution of Starro, and tons of weird science. I fell in love early on when Vril Dox triggered Supergirl to burn data implanted in her brain by his descendent in the future) onto a disk using her heat vision. Everyone should be reading this series, because it’s rife with big action, and even bigger ideas. Take Jonathan Hickman’s heady SF and give it a sense of humor.

Wanna go back a bit? How about Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar? It’s a totally campy space opera straight out of 1982. And there are cat people. If you like things like The Infinity Gauntlet and Star Wars, you have to grab Dreadstar.

Paul Montgomery



Recently I finally got around to reading Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” and it was my first time reading a Superman comic done by Curt Swan, who I know is considered by many to be a quintessential Superman artist. Anyway, I quite liked it and want to see some of his older work on Superman (I’ve heard that he apparently had  a great run with Elliot S Maggin). Can you point me in the direction of some stories that I should read? Also, I’m willing to pay more for old Silver Age back issues but are there maybe any Superman collections out there that collect his work?


You are in luck because there is a lot of Curt Swan’s Superman work that has been reprinted. No need to drop coin on the Silver Age issues themselves, unless that is your thing. I don’t want to tread on you.

I would urge you to think about what it was that you liked about “What Ever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?”. That is one of my favorite Superman stories ever, but I wouldn’t say it is indicative of the type of stories that Curt Swan is most famous for working on. Alan Moore was really writing a combination love letter/good-bye to a version of Superman that we really wouldn’t see again. Moore wrote a story that allowed Swan to draw just about all the historical trademarks of the Pre-Crisis Superman.

The original Superman stories that Swan worked on are the most Silver Age-y of the Silver Age. His Superman got into unusual capers, followed Jimmy Olsen around, and was tormented by the Legion of Super-Heroes. The art is going to be rock solid and great, but the stories might catch you off guard if you are expecting Moore style work. Not worse… just different.

If you want to go the economical route there are the black and white Showcase formats. His Superman work is reprinted in the Superman, Superman Family (Jimmy Olsen), Supergirl, and Legion of Super-Hero volumes. These volumes will have a mix of artists so review the contents to make sure they have enough Swan for your tastes. If you desire color the Archive Editions of the same comics will contain his work. They are more expensive, so don’t go rushing into buying them.

Swan worked on Superman from the ’60s all the way up until the ’90s, but it is the Silver Age material that is most available. If you are looking for something a touch more modern there is the Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore hardcover. It reprints a seminal storyline from the ’70s, written by Denny O’Neil. Also keep your eyes peeled for cheap Bronze Age books. These would be more of the Maggin and Bates era, which happens to be some of my favorite Superman stories. These unfortunately aren’t collected but are pretty easy to find at cons. Hope you enjoy the Swan.

Tom Katers


  1. I LOVED R.E.B.E.L.S when Andy Clarke drew it but the St. Aubin stuff just doesn’t do it for me. The writing is still very strong though.

  2. Dreadstar was great.  And at the time, almost all the artists in comics were awful, so guys like Starlin, Byrne, and Steranko seemed like gods.  It makes me realize how spoiled by the wonderful artists we have today.

    Had to laugh about dancing around the idea that Alan Moore’s supe story wasn’t better.  Uh, sorry, but it was. 🙂  Still one of the greatest Supe stories ever.

    As far as magic goes, I think it has nothing to do with the material, just the creative team.  For whatever reason, most of the best in the industry aren’t motivated to tell a Dr. Strange story.  Not to sound like an old fart (too late), but Roy Thomas and Roger Stern told some great Strange stories, and Steve Englehart had the knack too.  The trick is certainly having some logic, great art, and really giving the magician a struggle you can relate to.  My favorite Dr. Strange story of all time was by Stern where he weaved a Love spell (love spells, btw, are a great weapon only the best writers appreciate: (see Walt Simonson)) that not only saved the day, but gave Nick Fury the first and only clean shave of his life.  Awesome!

  3. It has been a long time since I read "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"  I need to go reread it.

  4. I think magic is relatively unpopular in comics due to dominance of fantasy. People see them as separate flavors as different as cotton candy and chocolate chunk. The need. To have everything make some sort of sense may lead them to need pigeonholes and barriers, though. I have my own, even if those aren’t the ones I have.

  5. So, I take it that GotG and Nova are at risk of getting cancelled?  When did this happen?  Those are the only two Marvel U books I read!

  6. They haven’t made any kind of cancellation announcement for either book, and I haven’t heard any rumors. They are on "hiatus" during the Thanos Imperative, though, and I have heard whisperings about some kind of Cosmic Avengers this week.

  7. I think what JMS said about magic had more to do with literary worth. We do not know how do the One Ring works, but we do know what it can and cannot do.

  8. Curt Swan is THE Superman Artist… there is no question in my mind.  Also, LOVE the Dreadstar…

  9. DREADSTAR is awesome!

    I picked up only a few of the early issues about a year back in a 50 cent bin.  I have been needing/wanting to pick up more.