The iFanboy Letter Column – 08/08/2008!

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 ponder the meaning of the day, month, and the year all being the same number. It’s trippy, man.

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 –



And I’m not talking about the one that looks pretty in the box, but the one you valued the most from either when you were a kid or now. Example: To this day the Secret Wars Iron Man and the Super Powers Green Arrow were gold for me as kid. I would guess you could squeeze out your favorite now versus your favorite of all time too.

Ozzie from Miami, FL

Okay, okay, no need to shout, Ozzie!

It seems like you and I are probably around the same age because in my lifetime no two sets of toys have rocked my world like Marvel’ Secret Wars line from Mattel and DC’s Super Powers from Kenner. Both toy lines hit in 1984 when I was 7 years old and it was like the greatest thing to ever happen in my life. To see the characters that I avidly read in comic books lined up on store shelves all ready for maximum playability… man, those were good times. I remember going to Macy’s and seeing all of the Secret Wars figures on display and not being able to breathe. We had a Woolworth’s two blocks from my apartment and when I found out they got the Super Powers line I had my face pressed up against the glass display case. The first two figures I (my mom) bought were Batman and Aquaman.

Those were great toys for many reasons. These days, toys seem to be all about the sculpts with no regard for playability, and that’s probably because they are made for adults and not kids. But back then they were made to be played with by kids. So not only was the playability factor high in those lines, but they all looked great. And they were sturdy too. I must have staged giant inter-company crossover battles — man, when Darkseid and Doctor Doom teamed-up… watch out! — just about every day for years. And I still have all those figures in a box… somewhere.

Who were my favorites from those lines? Geez… it’s probably easier to ask which ones didn’t I like? Spider-Man was great. He had a thinner, more lithe body than, say, Captain America. Iron Man with his classic red and gold armor was one of my favorites. I always pitted him up against Doom. On the DC side, Batman and Robin were among my favorites, of course. And J’onn J’onzz had a fantastic sculpt. Darkseid was a great villain because he was so much bigger than everyone else, with these massive, powerful arms and fists. He brutally beat down a lot of heroes before someone finally took him down.

I’m not so much a toy guy these days and the ones I do buy are for display and not play. I’ve got a couple of things on display in the office but my favorites are The Dark Knight Returns line (plus Jim Gordon from The Long Halloween line) and a bunch of the big guns from The New Frontier line. I’ve got those displayed on a shelf above my workstation in my bedroom/office. I have to admit, those New Frontier toys might be the best looking figures I’ve ever seen. I only wish that the Batman figure was of the early, scarier, badass version, but the later, somewhat sunnier Dick Sprang-esque version is no slouch either. I’d buy more of them — man, have you seen the Dr. Fate??? — but I literally don’t have any more shelf space, which might be a blessing in disguise.

Conor Kilpatrick


What is the reasoning behind what makes you guys decide to read a book in trade instead of by issues? This is something that I’ve been on the fence about. It seems like nowadays the Big 2 put out trades almost immediately after the arc is finished and they are putting in some extra material. There doesn’t seem to be as much incentive to buying in issues. I’ve contemplated switching to just buying trades. What is your guys opinion on trade vs. issues?

Jacob F. from Portland, ME

First of all, Powatland, reprahsent brothah!  Ayuh!  Wicked pissah, etc. etc.

This is the big question for a lot of comic readers as move forward into a bold new era of choice. On the one hand, a lot of people will tell you that if you wait for the trade, you’re hurting the long term prognosis for the title in general, as monthly sales determine whether a series is healthy or not. However, on the other hand, if you don’t buy trades, then what are you doing to support that method for the many who enjoy reading their books that way? Personally, I leave that part out of my decisions. If they’re going to offer multiple ways to consume a story, I’m going to pick the one that works best for me, and not worry about how they make their business plan work. That’s not my problem. My problem should be to find the best way, for me, to enjoy the story.

What usually happens with me is that I get into a trade if I initially missed the issues. I almost never see a book, think I like it, and say “I’ll wait for the trade.” If I’m not interested in buying the issues, I’m not going to want to buy the book later. And I will never EVER buy an issue of something, decide I like it, and then stop buying the issues until a trade comes out. This is because I am cheap, and don’t want to buy something twice if I can ever help it. This is a downeast trait that the Mainer who wrote in will understand. We, like many Scots, refer to it as being thrifty.

I nearly always use the trade as a catch up device. If I started a series, and didn’t like it, only to discover later that it turned out I was wrong, and it was excellent, I will go back and buy trades. I’ve done this with many series, like Fables and Scalped. If I completely missed the boat on something, and don’t want to hunt for the previous issues, I’ll get the trade when it comes out. I did this for Invincible, The Walking Dead, The Nightly News, and Godland for example. In some of those circumstances, usually the Vertigo kind, I’ll use the trades to catch up to the monthly issues, and most of the time, given the right opening, I’ll jump to monthly issues. I think that’s just because I want to be part of the conversation. More often than not, that’s my thing. I’ve jumped to issues with Fables, Invincible, Scalped, The Walking Dead, Fear Agent, The Exterminators, and many others.

I almost never read Marvel and DC books in collected form, unless they’re not recent books. For those, I want to read in issues, and I think they should work well in the monthly issue form to be successful. I’ve gone back and read some stories in trade form though, and quite enjoyed them, such as The Ultimates and Infinite Crisis.

The funny thing is, I always jump to issues if I can, but truth be told, I really enjoy reading trades more. I find it more satisfying to read a bunch of things at once, and proceed at my own pace, instead of waiting a month. But the impetuous side often takes over, and I start buying the monthly books.

This is a habit of mixed media that drives my partners here crazy, as they are both of the “you start something one way, you better damn well finish that way too, boy!” school.

That’s why we don’t get along in real life.

As far as bonus materials… well, about a decade in to the whole DVD craze when I was buying any special edition I could get my hands on of movies I only remotely liked… well, I haven’t listened to a commentary in a good 4 or 5 years, so I guess it’s not something I put much value in any more. But it’s different for everyone. Do what feels best to you.

Josh Flanagan


Is Bone any good? They have released the whole collection in a lovely big fat book and I was thinking about purchasing it. Have any of you read it and what do you think?

Dave (aka Sammy on iFanboy)

I wanted to answer this question because it seems as this exact question has come up quite a bit recently. Several friends of mine who are comics enthusiasts but have never read Bone have asked me if it’s worth reading or if it’s any good. I think it’s a unique question because it’s one of those rare moments where the answer is so clear and obvious:


I thought about simply ending this answer with that, but realize that you may be looking for more than just a one word answer. Although “YES” would be followed by grabbing you by the hand and making you order the single volume version of Bone because it’s a must have. But you probably want to know why Bone is worth reading.

Well aside from being a standout example of the strength of independent publishing and all that goes with it, Bone is a a wonderfully unique and engaging tale. Jeff Smith’s art is completely accessible and enjoyable not in that it’s overly detailed or fantastic, rather his cartooning style is one that you can connect with immediately. When I first saw Bone, I thought it was some Disney offshoot, but after reading it, I found it to be so much more. Story wise, Bone is a masterpiece, mixing in cute and humor with a dark and often times violent storyline of a faraway land and an epic battle between good and evil, I would go as far as to say that Bone is like The Lord of the Rings of the 1990s. Not nearly as layered or complicated as Tolkien’s masterpiece, but a masterpiece in and of itself.

For me, a good story is one that I am engaged with and cannot put down. Once I began reading Bone, I had many late nights where I simply couldn’t pull myself from the story. Weaving emotions and action and comedy, Jeff Smith truly put together a classic comic with Bone that I heartily recommend.

Ron Richards



  1. SPeaking of Jeff Smith…

    How goes the effort to read all of Cerebus Ron?


  2. Dave Sim?

  3. I know,

    I mention it because of the historic fued between the two.  Hence the ;).

  4. I have the sc Bone book in the picture but I am afraid to read it. It is huge! Does anyone know how well it holds up to a delicate read?

  5. I’m not sure what a "delicate read" is but if you’ve got it, just dive in.  It’s an easy, light read at first before Smith starts revealing deeper layers.  By the time you get there you’ll be hooked.  At the end of the huge book you’ll be saying, "Is that all?  Can’t I have more?"

  6. I’m 18 and grew up with the Batman and Superman 84′ action figures, those guys fought a lot of dinosaurs.

  7. Those Secret Wars figures were awesome. I always wanted the Spiderman in the Black Costume. I think he came with this enormous glider. My favorite was Captain America though. He looked so cool. I used to take the cape from the superpowers Superman and put it on him. That was my favorite toy of all time.

  8. I had the black-suited Spider-Man!  He often fought red & blue Spider-Man.  Captain America himself was great, but will always be marred by the awful shield they gave him.

  9. I’m not much of a toy guy, either, but would love to get Batman and Hellboy action figures for my office. Right now the only comic book one I have is the small New Frontier Green Lantern figure that came as an extra with the JL: New Frontier DVD at Best Buy. I also have Treebeard and Frodo from LOTR that were given to me by my mom, and an early 1980’s Star Wars wampa figure that I recently rescued from my great aunt’s basement in IL. They all make for good conversation pieces whenever someone approaches my desk.

  10. YEAH PORTLAND!  I bet Jacob shops at Casablanca too.

    I’ve started collecting the Mighty Muggs for my desk in my home office. Something about  the little guys just makes me smile.

  11. Hey, I’ve been to Casablanca! My wife’s best friend lives near Portland, ME so I’ve been there a few times. Really great LCS (probably one of the cleanest and best-organized I’ve been to), and the owner was super-nice. I wish my LCS was that nice. Is that your hometown, Josh?

  12. Technically, it’s Gordon from "Dark Victory", but, hey, it’s still a cool figure.

  13. so its true… Bone is good. I guess I’ll make a purchase then. a little begrudginly as I have a huge stack of trades right not but i know ill be missing out if not. thanks

  14. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I owned pretty much every toy they put out.

  15. My favorite toy was the "Super-Glider" that was supposed to be a separate accessory for the Hobgoblin but I never got the Hobgoblin that went with it, so later I got the huge 18 inch Hobgoblin and it became his glider.  Many fun a summer day playing out the battlers of Spider-Man and 30-ft Hobgoblin.

  16. They actually made a Darkseid action figure? I would love to have one, although the one you have Conor seems to be a bit…to bland for me. Maybe cause the colors look washed out but I would still want to get it if it’s a collector’s item.

    Bone is such a good book though! Yes I’m 19, but damn I read that as often as I can….Which is good since it takes me a full 2 weeks to read it. (It’s so f’n big!) I just wish kids would pick up the huge omnibus style book and not the single trades of it. Sure it’s giving Smith and the publisher reason to keep printing them out; but color is overrated for the series like this. Maybe they should have a color omnibus? It also amazes me that Disney did publish this in their magazines when it came out. Sure he wrote for another publisher; but if it wasnt for Disney then I dont think Bone would be popular as it is today.

    ….So hooray for Disney?

  17. @TheNextChampion – Yeah, the colors are a bit washed out in those photos, but keep in mind the Super Powers and Secret Wars toys were made for playin’, not displayin’.  Emphasis was not on design and appearance like it is now.  Those toys held up to quite a beating.

    Funnily enough, considering all the FINAL CRISIS talk, the main villains in the Super Powers line were the denizens of Apokalypse – Darkseid, Kalibak, etc.

  18. @conor: Don’t be playin….or hatin….Sorry I will never talk jive to you again. lol

    Why are the action figures coming out now just for displaying and not for actual playing? When was it actually a big no no to make action figures fun for people? Now you cant really buy a toy without making it look like crap. Like your ‘Dark Knight Returns’ and ‘New Froniter’ figures, those would be great for a kid!…if it had moveable joints.

  19. LOL "Talk jive"? People still say that?

    I loved the those Super Powers action figures! When I was about 10, I found a $20 bill in an alley on a rainy day (I remember it was like winning the lottery) and went directly to the toy shop (as most kids would) and bought the Batman & Robin Super Powers figures. At the time, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, (and sadly, it probably still is, lol) and I still have these figures today … they are very very worn out,

  20. Super Powers Flash, Tim Burton’s Batman movie Fig (the one with the zipline belt), and the first super posable Spiderman were the best.  But now in my old age I’ve moved towards DCU Classics and Marvel Legends.  I loved the Legendary Comic Heroes line as well sadly it is dead before they could make an Invincible.  As for trades, I buy whatever is necessary issues or trade.  Mostly, trades are bought because I missed it or was dumb… I guess I got to try Bone

  21. Ahh I forgot the Tim Burton Batman movies figure, with the zipline belt, I still have that too.

    And with trades, I am pretty much exactly the same as Josh said he is. I will never "wait for trade", I read the comics & only read trades to catch up on things I have missed the boat on, and then will jump on with issues later. I have no problem mixing trades & issues, and I also hate buying the same story twice. I don’t think that makes me "thrifty", it’s just common sense to not buy the same thing twice. I also enjoy reading trades more than single issues, mainly because I am impatient when it comes to good stories, it’s cool to not have to wait.

  22. My main memory of the Tim Burton figures was going to the toy store looking for Batman and the Joker and finding only racks and racks of ‘Bob the Goon’.

  23. Ah, Bob the Goon.  Bob was to 1989 what Ric Olie was to 1999.


    I also bought all of the Episode I figures (Series 1, and most of Series 2) before seeing the movie.  Alas, most were destroyed by the great Richards basement flood of 08.  I was strangely unaffected.

  24. What about Batman the Animated Series toys?  As an 8-9 year old boy they were all I played with.

    I had Tim Burton Batman figure.  I was 5 and it had a blue cape which at the time confused me because in the movie it was black.

  25. i played a lot with the batman animated series ones too.  but i would do hulk vs. spider vs. superman and just when the hulk wins, oh no, here comes hulkbuster iron man to kick some green ass

    that was my exersise as a kid

  26. As for toys thats easy. GI Joes. I loved those things, I would take cardboard boxes and make forts and castles for those toys to stage an attack. The best part is because it is cardboard you can rip a wall off, artillery strike.

     On a side note GI Joe toys are also the only toy to do me serious bodily harm. Had one of those hard plastic feet go through my palm to the bone…..ouch

  27. My first memory ever was getting a batman toy (with a grappling hook belt) on my 4th birthday.  I had a wide variety of batmans (like snow camo!!) and it usually ended up being a 4 way war between my legion of batmen, GI Joes, the ninja turtles, and the power rangers. 

  28. I played with the old Captain America figure, the one with the stupid shield-launcher accesory, until the joints were so worn out it couldn’t stand up. Beyond that, I was all about the Toy Biz X-Men line. I even built a big cardboard X-Mansion under my parents’ pool table.

  29. Ric Olie! The guy with the jacket with the big collar! Wow, those memories flood back quick. For me, Star Wars is the elephant in this whole toy-discussion room. I loved the movies, but the toys were what let me live in that world.

    There’s a lot of research now about how pretend play is where humans develop their ability for abstract thought. The fantasy worlds we play out in our young heads are what build the neural connections to allow us to create our mental worlds. When we’re a baby all we think about are literal, physical things- food, Mom, etc. Baby games are all about concrete, sensory things like tickling. Then, as we grow, we start to play games about things that aren’t literally happening. This is where we excercise our ability to understand abstract concepts. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader aren’t really there the same way justice and injustice aren’t really there. 

    So, basically, all of our brains owe a whole lot to Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barbie, or whatever your thing was. 

  30. Bob the Goon. Man, does that flood back memories. Months were wasted trying to get a Batman and all I could get was Bob. So, I got him and thought he was kinda cool. Then I saw the movie and realized what  huge waste of space he was, plus he went out like a tool…

    "Bob, gun."

    Hands gun.


    No more Bob.

    For anyone who is a turtles fan, those new Neca figures based on the original comic are gorgeous!

    You know, for little green ninja guys.

  31. Haha… Bob the Goon… I got the Batman with the grappling hook for a belt– the benefits of a small town is there’s no such thing as a mob to get anything be it Batman toys in 1989 or seats for Batman movies in 2008.

    Though, I never got Joker so Batman spent all his time fighting a rubber T-Rex in my house.

     That reminds me– should I ever get to write Batman, I got to introduce Emperor Rex…

  32. 1989 Batman figure:  Does anyone remember that they changed the face?  I bought 2, and the first one, looked like Michael Keaton.  I took it out to play with and what not, and those were the heady collector days, so I went to buy another one to keep in the package (can’t remember if I still have it), and it had a face that was not Michael Keaton’s .  I was pissed.

    Also, those TMNT figures of which you speak are indeed nice, and were the first toys in a while that I was interested in.  But, as I am broke/cheap, I didn’t want to spend fifty precious dollars on them.  It’s not even that expensive, but my priorities are such that I just don’t have it in me to spend the money on that. Such is where I stand with action figures.

  33. Thanks for picking my question Josh.  For everyone who hasn’t been to Maine we don’t really speak like that. Well ok a little bit. It’s a wicked pissah. Good advice. I’ve been doing what you did actually. I caught up on The Boys, Scalped, The Walking Dead and I’m trying with Fables but that is a hell of a lot of catching up.


  34. if we are thanking people, I guess I best thank Ro n – I bought Bone and am very happy with it. Thanks for saying how great it was. I haven’t read it all. but tis good so far. thanks Ron (and i guess everyone else involved at ifanboy)

  35. Even though, the single volume of Bone is a thing of beauty and I own and have read it along with the single issues when they were released, I think it only fair to give a mention to the recoloured Scholastic versions. They really are beautiful and the colouring gives it a whole new lease of life. I’m not generally one for needlessly embellishing an already existing work of art but if you can pick them up cheap I would definitely take a look


  36. I still have my Super Powers Batman and Flash figures. As far as I can remember that Batman was my first action figure and he’s now missing an arm, and Flash has a nice crack in his leg, but I’l hold on to those guys forever! I also have my Secret Wars Magneto. I’m pretty sure I had more, but I was 2 in ’84, and after all these years, some of them just get lost. But I love those old figures.

  37. I also just want to say that Bone’s the only comic series that’s ever gotten me misty.

  38. Regarding how to read Bone (the ‘delicate read’ thing mentioned far above):

    I borrowed the single volume version from my friend a while ago and ended up just leaving it in the bathroom to read while I was … y’know.  Let’s just say I ended up with tingly legs on quite a few occasions.  Sometimes with no feeling in my legs at all!!! 

  39. And the toy series that I remember the most fondly from my childhood had to be the Spawn toys.  I was never a huge fan of the comic (in fact, I barely read it at all) but something about those toys were insanely cool.  It was also really neat to see the detail and quality of sculpt improve with each subsequent series.  Battle Armor Spawn was probably my favorite, mainly because I was (and still am) a huge sucker for figures with removable armor, interchangeable parts, etc.

    I also loved the X-Men toys that were coming out right around the time the animated series from the early nineties was on.  Weapon X Wolvie, Morph, Gambit, that massive Sentinel…

    Oh! And I can’t leave out the Ninja Turtles!  I take back what I said about Spawn, the turtles were definitely my favorite.  Probably the coolest assortment of vehicles and bases next to GI Joe.  And Krang’s giant fat guy body that he occupied the stomach of?  How awesome was that thing?!?

    My current favorite toys are probably Marvel Legends and anything based on Alex Ross’s art.  Specifically Plastic Man and the Armored League from Justice.  That armor is friggin awesome looking. 

  40. Regarding trades vs. single issues:

    At a time when books aren’t held to the monthly format as strictly as they used to be, I find it’s much more difficult to extend the wait even further than the extra month it may take for the next issue to come out, to an extra year waiting for 5 delayed issues to come out in trade.  For example.  Can you imagine waiting for Astonishing in trades?  Dear god, the patience one would require.  Also, it’s easier to keep up with the podcast if you read in single issues.

    I do buy classic Marvel stories in trades that I wasn’t around to collect when they first came out in single issues, but that’s strictly to save money.  If I could get every issue of the Infinity Gauntlet for twenty bucks, I would. 

  41. The ultimate toy of all time was the tri-level Death Star playset. I renacted the second act of A New Hope so many times. The thought of the working elevator and the foam rubber trash in the trash compactor (included a dianoga!) always brings a smile. Sometimes I gawk at the pictures on Ebay, but somehow I think if I plunked down and owned it again, the magic would be more real and thereby less real. Dig?