The iFanboy Letter Column – 07/11/2008!

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 you join up with your buddies to save the world from invading demons.

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 –


A challenge for the iFanboys: name your top 5 favorite villains without using Batman or X-Men villains.

Chris from St. Louis, MO

I figure I’ll have a fair chance at this, because I’m not encumbered by petty allegiances. Right? My criteria are thus: I hate hokey villains, and that’s why I’m not going to say Doctor Doom. He’s silly, and when he’s written un-silly, he’s not nearly as much fun. But when I’m looking for a villain, I want scary, and something that actually gives me a reason to be concerned for the welfare of the forces of good. It’s no small thing. There are hundreds, if not thousands of cookie cutter villains out there, and for a time, the only thing it took for a new issue was that there be a new villain. So when there’s one that comes along who really grabs your attention, it’s really something special, almost more so than with new good guys. We’re actually going to have a show on this some time in the future, after all the convention madness has subsided. So here are my top 5 favorite villains, as they occur to me right now, as opposed to 5 minutes after I publish the article, regretting my every choice.

1) Red Skull – Nothing’s scarier than a good Nazi, and the way he’s being written lately makes him super scary. He’s evil. He wants only to hurt people, and no one even knows he’s doing anything. He killed Steve Rogers, and he’s really smart. It’s one of those things where you know there’s nothing you could do to sway him ever. You’d have to kill him. Dr. Doom will help out the heroes now and again, but the Red Skull is never pitching in. Plus, lately he’s even meaner because he’ll never get these cost reports done.

2) Purple Man – Brian Bendis’ villain from Alias was truly scary. Villains who do the whole mind control purely because they want to watch people suffer are bad folks. He was just sick and depraved, and just looked so harmless. Plus, he’s a Croatian spy, and when those dudes go bad, they’re just all bad, because they’ve seen and lived through hell.

3) Omni-Man – If you haven’t read Invincible, but were planning to, skip this paragraph, because when it turned out that Mark Grayson’s mustachioed pappa was a baddie, I was genuinely hurt. The idea that someone would pretend to love their family and then, after 18 years, turn out to not care about them at all is a frightening prospect indeed. There are, of course, signs that he’s not all bad, but when that happened, I was horrified, and it’s one of the things that made Invincible really special to me.

4) Lex Luthor – He’s really very smart, and he does it out of spite. The man is just not thinking rationally, and because of his resources, he’s untouchable. He was president! He runs a multinational corporation, and those guys are powerful and scary enough without being evil super geniuses. I think there’s something really horrifying about a guy who is just a regular human, but who is completely relentless, and more intelligent than anyone else. How can you win against him? He’s a lot like the Red Skull actually, except he fits in in a crowd. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Red Skull is also a captain of industry these days. Think about that.

5) The Mist – I’m talking about the second Mist, Nash, from Starman. Oh, I hate her. Again, if you haven’t read the book, skip over this, but it’s a bad bad lady who does what she did to Jack. Man, I’m getting angry just thinking about it. That’s just not cool, Mist, not cool.

Josh Flanagan


While marathoning your podcasts one afternoon, hungrily watching you grill the meats and also listening to your fascinating interview with Paul Cornell, something struck a chord with me. In the interview with Paul Cornell, Conor lamented the death of western comics in favor of manga. And then, during the “Grilled E-Mail” episode, there was a discussion about the price of comics and whether things would work in a trade format. And it struck me that these two ideas might have a parallel thought process, like what might happen if comics went entirely to trades, and ended up a lot like the manga trade. The manga model is quite possibly a cost effective model, owing to the savings of the heavier print batches. However, the problem with this model is that it puts the burden of risk far more on the publisher. A lot more investment goes from a manga publisher until the sales prove it was worth it. With twenty-two page issues, there’s a constant measurement. For this reason, the big publishers aren’t likely to switch to a trade-based system. Even if issues are made at a loss, they publishers rely on that sales data to drive the rest of the industry from trades to tie-ins.

How would such an impossible, hypothetical switch affect your purchases?  Would you eagerly await the next 160 page X-Men? Would you wait for a couple of years until four trades came out before you tried something out?  Would that slow pace keep you from buying things altogether? Do we rely on the, hopefully, monthly pace of books to keep us interested? Would we lose sight of Captain America if, no matter how good, it only came out every 8 months in a thick book and told a self-contained story? Would are reaction be, “Well, I liked the last story, but it feels done to me.”

Dave S.

Okay, let’s assume for the sake of this letter column that your hypothetical scenario has come to pass. Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, etc., they all do away with the single issue format in favor of a trade based system. And for the sake of argument that the trade paperbacks under this system are like most of them are now — the length of 4 to 6 single issues.

How would that effect my purchasing?

Well, my purchasing certainly wouldn’t go down, in fact I’d probably buy more books than I do now. First and foremost I prefer that format, and as each year passes I find myself getting more satisfaction out of getting a complete story all in one sitting rather than a little chunk at a time. Especially since, quite often one dodgy issue in the beginning of the story might not make sense without reading the entire arc and that dodgy issue might make me drop the book. There would be a lot less of that going on. So for a book like Nova that I hear a lot of raves about, I’d be much more likely to check it out in trades than I would in issues because I’d want to read an entire arc and get the full picture. I wouldn’t wait four trades to start buying something, if I heard enough good things about a book I’d buy the first one, I do that now with trades.

But really all of this is no different than following prose books. I read a lot of books and I read a lot of books that are part of a series or that follow the same character. Waiting six months for the next Batman story would be no worse than waiting two years for the next Lincoln Rhyme story — in fact it would be better because six months sure beats two years. And with Batman you’d have Batman and Detective Comics and the like and the release schedule would be staggered so that people wouldn’t have to wait more than a few months for a new Batman trade.

Damn, now I wish this was really happening.

Conor Kilpatrick


I’ve been collecting JLA in trade. Recently I discovered DC excluded issues #83, #90-93 from the collections. I feel this has tarnished my trade collection and makes me wish I would have collected the issues instead. I just want to know, why did DC decided to cut these issues from the trades? If you know please share that info.

Elijah W.

Let me preface this by saying that I have no idea why they excluded those issues from the trades. I have no insider information, nor have I checked with DC Comics as to why those issues were omitted. Sure I could pretend to be Jimmy Olsen and Chloe Sullivan and do some investigative journalism, but have YOU ever tried to get a straight answer from someone at DC Comics? It ain’t easy for us (and every other website but one), but I digress. So I don’t know exactly why, but I’m open to speculation, and let’s be honest, isn’t that what’s really fun about comics? Speculation. It worked in the 90s, in a different way, but we’ve got it down to an art in the 21st century!

Let’s address issue #83 of JLA first. Written by Joe Kelly in 2003, this issue featured a one shot story that seemed to be influenced by current events of the political nature having to do with Iraq. In the story, Lex Luthor (who is President of the United States at this time) orders an invasion of the foreign country of Qurac, after a terrorist attack on London occurs. He claims Qurac was behind the attack and in order to protect America, we need to invade Qurac. The JLA are concerned because there is only circumstantial evidence to put Qurac as the source of the attack, and while Luthor swears he has proof of it, he will not provide his proof. The JLA steps in, torn between “doing the right thing” and trying to get to the truth, Batman discovers riot police who were attempting to crowd control a peace rally were in fact special forces troops ordered to quash dissent and ultimately Superman finally acts and is attacked by Luthor with kryptonite. BUT it turns out it was all a dream Superman was having (yes, a dream — what was Joe Kelly thinking?). So one could easily understand why, maybe, DC Comics would not want to republish that story, not that I agree with that decision.

Issues #90 through #93 are at the same time more and less interesting as to why they’re not reprinted. My only guess as to why issue #90 wasn’t reprinted was because it addressed the Wonder Woman/Batman romance, which obviously didn’t go anywhere. And issues #91 through #93, despite being written by Denny O’Neill, I believe are just plain old bad. This was a down point in the JLA run and I can’t imagine they affect/influence any future stories.

While you may want a complete run, no publisher is bound to reprinting everything. Sure it’s annoying when they seemingly drop an issue in a trade, but that’s their prerogative. Besides, if you really want to have the complete run, I’m sure you can find these issues in back issue bins at any comic store or convention.

Ron Richards



  1. I would not be sad if everything went to trades. My wallet would appreciate it as a matter of fact.

  2. I would be sad if everything went to trade. You would lose that sense of a shared universe to some degree, and the feeling you get from comics where the things that happen in the issue feel like breaking news. And big events would be less exciting because they would just be one trade coming out just once.

    Trades are awesome to read and everything, but waiting for them to come out is excruciating. That’s why I’ve even switched to single issues for books that read a lot better in trade.

  3. I like monthlies. They are more expensive in the long run but easier on the cash flow.

  4. I for one, like the choice between monthlies and trades, as I can choose that which suits me best.

    (Not one comment about middle management skull?!  I LOVE middle management skull!)

  5. @josh (or anybody) Which was the episode with middle-management Skull?  B/c I want to rec that to a friend who just joined the site.  Funniest EVER.  (Does that count as a comment?)

  6. Ep. 134– Amazing Spider-Man 560

  7. @Tork  — Thank you!

  8.  @ Josh

    The Middle management skull bit had me laughing out loud ten minutes after you guys stopped laughing about it. I had to rewind the podcast just to figure out what I had missed. You guys mentioned Bad Roomate Black Panther and another character, but you couldn’t remember who it was.  Have Any of you guys remembered???

  9. I dont know about the top 5, but I will tell this. My number one TOP VILLAIN right now is Sinestro. Johns has revitalized this character to the point where it is a complete joy to read him.

  10. @Anson17 – Arthur of Maine.

  11. I petition that there should be a comic strip of Bad Roommate Blasck Panther, Middle Management Skull, and occassional appearances by Josh who just says at random points "That was f–ked up."

  12. I’d read that strip.  Middle Management Skull rules!

    I, too, would really enjoy comics going to trade. Pretty much the only reason I buy single issues is because I want to be up on what’s happening "now" and because I listen to iFanboy regularly.


  13. I think my top 5 villains would be Dr. Doom, Lex Luthor, Obadiah Stane, Black Adam, and Bullseye.

  14. I’ll try. In no particular order:

    Carl Sands
    The Profile

    dang! this be hawrd!

  15. In no particular order:

    The Painted Doll (Promethea)–He’s so awesome at first, and then he only gets more awesome as you find out his secret, and he gets even more awesome when he finds out his secret.

    Red Skull–some villains are only cool when handled by the right writer. But the Red Skull is just always cool.

    Luthor (Especially in 52 and All Star Supes)

    Praetor Lemnos (Legion of Superheroes)–Man is that dude scary, you don’t notice him, you don’t even remember him

    Newman Zeno (Casanova)–"You talk like a comic book, man." "And I live like one, Mr. Quinn"

  16. Letter column yet again.  The power is going to my head… no wait I think thats a stroke.  I new Lex would be on any of your lists but I was surprised at Omni-man.  Sometimes I read issues and wish the next was out to help this make sense or because its so good so a TPB world would not destroy me.  I hate when DC excludes issues in trades if Marvel does it they usually pop up in another trade.

    Villains List:Sinestro,Cyborg Superman, Ult. Hulk, Bonechill, Nero

  17. 05. Hate Monger

    04. Red Hulk

    03. The Violator/Clown

    02. The Mandarin

    01. Jigsaw

  18. I forgot TAO from Sleeper and Moore’s Wildcats.  He’s #6, like a bonus villain.

  19. Alright jerk, I found some typos, but they’re gone now, and theirs nothing you can do about it.

    (I planted a typo in the preceding sentence!  Let’s see if you can spot it!)

  20. I did it again.

    DocSamson said (paraphrasing) "Can I be a jerk and ask who does your copyediting, and can I have that job?" which prompted the above response.  But I accidentally deleted his comment, and *I’M SORRY!*

    As you were.  Nothing to see here.  I’m bad at internet.

  21. LOL, now my brain feels better, thanks! And you’re typo is just as easy to spot as mine!

  22. @josh:

    The first villain I thought of was TAO. Glad to see he’s on your radar, too. Scary character (except for the miss-the-point appearances he made in Gen13).

    All 4 volumes of Sleeper are in my re-read stack now, along with Point Blank. 

  23. Bonus Villain:  SuperBOY Prime

  24. JFernandes (@jdfernandes) says:

    No Batman or X-Men, huh? Well, here goes, in no order other than alphabetical:

    Barracuda, Dr. Doom, Jody (Preacher), Sinestro, Thanos

  25. Ooh, Jody!  Good one.

  26. Ooh, Jody from Preacher’s a good one! I’ve been thinking about this, and have a question for everybody…




    Does Ozymandias count as a villain? I’m pretty sure he does.

  27. I think Wizard put him at the top of their villain list a long time ago, which was how they spoiled the book for me before I’d read it. 

    Not that I hold a grudge…

  28. JFernandes (@jdfernandes) says:

    The Corinthian was very close to making my list.

  29. You had me freaking out dating this 7/18 on 7/11 !!!

    Thought I may have Rip Van Winklde’d the week away.

  30. 5. Green Goblin

    4. Black Adam

    3. Zoom

    2. Battle Beast – Scourge of the Twin Galaxies (whatever that means!)

    1. The Adversary

  31. @ Josh– The documentary on comics they had a few years back on the History Channel spoiled the ending of Watchmen for me.  Granted, I wasn’t really bothered by it but still…

  32. man, battle beast is great. also, the Lizard League, Tether Tyrant, Doc Seismic, and Angstrom Levy. And the Mauler Twins…and Titan! There’s just too many great villains in Invincible.

  33. @NealAppeal – I almost used Tether Tyrant and Isotope, but Battle Beast is just too cool.

  34. Bonus villain – Brian Bendis

  35. My top 5, in no particular order: Sinestro, Bullseye, Darkseid, Deathstroke, Black Adam. 

  36. Well, as my evening reading progresses, the Governor from Walking Dead starts to look like a shoo-in for #1 villain.

  37. Great villian lists – TAO, what a pull seeing as he hasn’t been around in years. For those interested:

    1. Zoom – just because I’m a Flash/Geoff Johns freak

    2. Superboy Prime – the ULTIMATE internet-bitching, ‘I hate my comics yet still buy them every month,’ judge something before it’s even come out fanboy

    3. The Governor – just f’d up – he’ll do anything, throw anybody in the path of the train just to get what he wants

    4. Thanos – the whole death thing is just creepy. Check out Thanos Quest

    5. Moms – for throwing out all those old comics she assumed no one would want to read anymore. For all those moms who have done that, thanks oh so much.

  38. I’m moving gradually toward trades. Not only do they make it easier to read entire story arcs, but they look a lot better on my bookshelf. I also love saving money by using the store to get discounted trades on Amazon.