The iFanboy Letter Column – 08/21/2009

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means it’s searching for the ultimate party where on the way, you and your friends get stuck in a 1980s movie-esque adventure. For others, Friday means it’s Chinese food take-out for dinner, so Mom can have a break from cooking.

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 —


Rummaging through the recent previews (Actually DCBS, but they take from previews so…) I saw the Astonishing X-Men Omnibus and my thought right away was “Must own!” But it got me thinking, that I already own the issues. So here’s my question:

How do you come to the decision to buy the trade, or omnibus of something you already own in issue form?

I can understand getting an Absolute due to his massive size and extras, it’s like double dipping on a DVD that comes out with a deluxe edition, but when it comes to a trade or omnibus that simply has the issues and no extras, how do you make the decision to trade up? Especially when you realize that the 50 dollars for the omnibus (if not more) could go towards buying something you haven’t read but have heard good things about. I guess my question comes down to, if you only have so much money, will you get something you’ve already read (even if it comes in a beautiful hard cover and looks good on the shelf) or would you rather put that cash towards something new (an indie book, or a Marvel/DC that’s had  good word of mouth)? 

Cameron R. (Jurassicalien), Proud iFanboy Member

Before I answer your question, I have to provide a disclaimer that everyone is different and I, in my opinion on this topic, am by no means the norm nor should anyone follow this practice purely because I do. The reason I say this is because this general question comes up several times over the weeks at iFanboy HQ and there are widely differing opinions amongst all of us, especially between me and my good buddy Josh. That said…

I am a comic publisher’s wet dream. If they take a run of 4, 6, 12, or 25 issues, make them a little oversized, throw some extras in there and publish it as a hardcover, I’m pretty much going to at least pause and consider buying it. And if there’s one of those ribbon bookmarks sewn into the binding? SOLD!

But seriously, I don’t actually buy everything released in hardcover, especially if I have it in issues, but it’s a good question as when I look at my bookshelves, I do see a lot of repetition in what I own, so much so that’s almost funny. I own at least 3 versions of Marvels — the issues, a trade paperback and the hardcover. Basically it boils down to the following criteria:

What does this hardcover release have that previous releases don’t? If it’s an Absolute edition, usually the oversized art and extras will be the reason to pick it up.

How much do I like the collected story? If it’s an omnibus, the idea of collecting a large run of issues into one volume is attractive to me, especially if it’s a run that I enjoy re-reading. I have a lot of long boxes. If I wanted to dig up my run of early Claremont X-Men, it’s not an easy feat. By having the Uncanny X-Men Omnibus, it’s easy to pull that off the shelf and read it.

And finally, is this a story that I would want to share with people by loaning to them? A large reason why I have a large hardcover/trade paperback collection is because those are much easier to lend to friends rather than pulling the issues and giving them a bag of comics (that are bagged and boarded and are technically part of my “collection”)

That’s how I decide what to re-buy, but generally it boils down to what you can afford and what you think is worth the purchase. I have no regrets over buying the Absolute DC: The New Frontier, even though I have it in issues, the size and the extras make it worth it. I’ve considered buying that Astonishing X-Men Omnibus as well, purely because I could see myself re-reading that story down the road and having it collected would be far more easier than digging up the issues.

Ron Richards


I’ve recently been on a Jack Kirby kick. I’ve been making my way through all the Fourth World omnibus/bi and I recently finished Tales to Astonish by Ronin Ro (thanks to Josh for the iFanboy Mini recommendation a loooooong time ago). I was thinking about it and I can’t remember hearing much from you guys about Kirby. I was wondering what your thoughts are on him. Is he the real father of Marvel Comics? Have you read his Fourth World stuff? If so, what did you think (I think it’s brilliant)? To a lesser extent, what are your thoughts on The Eternals (not quite as brilliant in my opinion). What about his treatment by the industry? What’s your favorite Kirby work? There is a lot to discuss here and I’d love to hear what you all think.


P.S. This is such a big topic that you guys may want to even devote a video show to this!

Great question! But I must warn you to never, NEVER point out things we haven’t talked about enough. For when you illuminate our failures, it makes us sad. And then we get angry. And you wouldn’t like us when we are angry!

Jack Kirby is, without a doubt, the most important figure in the history of Superhero Comics. Yes, I said that and meant it. I truly believe that without Jack, Stan Lee would have had an entirely different run. It works the same vice-versa as well, but the real wellspring of imagination, images and ideas was Kirby. I’m not diminishing Stan Lee in the least, but the story most of us understand as history isn’t quite the way things happened. If you’ve read Tales to Astonish, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Guys like Kirby and Ditko didn’t just pencil from scripts. They did the whole story on their pages, and made up ideas, and created, and to label them only as artists does a great disservice to their real contribution. That being said, if you are familiar with the history, you’ll also know that Jack’s work wasn’t without flaws when he was on his own. But today, you’ll see that his ideas and designs are still around today, and making imaginations fly, and generating a lot of revenue for people who don’t have the last name Kirby.

And now it’s time for the great shame.

My actual hands on experience with Jack Kirby is woefully minimal. Obviously, I wasn’t alive when the bulk of his creative output was being released, and when I was younger, I didn’t care, because I was ignorant. Today, when I see a piece of Kirby art, I watch it, and I study it, and I cherish it. There are several reasons for my deficiency. On the one hand, there’s a lot of Kirby, and it would require a significant amount of capital and time to properly immerse myself, and the project is one of such size and significance that I haven’t started it. I could talk to you all day about the academic significance of Kirby, but it might be said that I’m full of shit. I have read Tales to Astonish as well as Kirby: King of Comics, and relished every page. But, mark my words, before my reading days are done, I will know the Kirby catalog first hand.

And yes, there should be a video show on this, but for some of the above reasons, we haven’t done it yet, because the research is so daunting. It’s not the kind of show we’d want to do based on Wikipedia, you know?

And my favorite Kirby work? Creating The Inhumans.

Josh Flanagan


I’m somewhat new to comics and just read Infinite Crisis over the weekend. I really enjoyed it and that led me to try to find out more about Superman Prime.

Now I understand the whole concept of multiple Earths. But am I understanding that Earth Prime is our world. So, according to the DCU, you and I, and the editors at DC and the writers, we’re all on Earth Prime?! I understand breaking the forth wall but jeez.

I read that at the end of Legion of 3 Worlds Prime is somehow transported back to this Earth? Now the man that could hold his own and nearly destroyed the universe and busted up the Anti-Monitor is reduced to living in his mom’s basement commenting on message boards?! WTF are they serious? And it’s because his family read the “Sinestro Corps War”… huh? Why doesn’t he have his powers here? Is it just one of those things that I just have to accept. Is there anything you can tell me that will make it make more sense. I feel like it just takes you out of the story. I need it to be justified. And how does he end up in Adventure Comics coming up? I know you don’t know that part but it just has me so confused.

Can they retcon this so it’s just a dream or something? Up is down down is up.

Chad B.

Yes, at the end of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, Superboy Prime was sent back to Earth Prime where he found himself (mostly) powerless and living in his parents’ basement.

I loved it. It was hysterical.

The thing about Superboy Prime is that when Geoff Johns brought him out of Crisis on Infinite Earths-induced limbo, Superboy Prime was meant to represent certain sectors of fanboydom who never wanted to see anything change in their stories and spent all their time ranting and raving about how much better things used to be. He was character-as-meta commentary. It was fun.

Now let’s address Earth Prime itself. This a concept that dates back to the Silver Age, when DC established that there was an Earth in which “we” lived. On Earth Prime, writers and artists at DC Comics found inspiration for their comics from the adventures taking place on Earths One and Two. It was goofy and sci-fi and very, very Silver Age. And then they introduced Superboy Prime as Earth Prime’s second superhero (see, Earth Prime isn’t exactly like our world) and after that I don’t know much about him until he shows up in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

So let’s jump back to Legion of 3 Worlds and wrap this whole thing up. Superboy Prime tried to fight his future self and once he touched him, he was sent back to his home planet/time with his powers depleted. He lives in his parents’ basement reading comics (based on the adventures going on in Earth One, where he feels he should be) and angrily trolling the DC message boards. He’s not living down there because his parents read “Sinestro Corps War” (among other things), he is down there because he has no other choice. He is powerless (but at the end we see his powers are coming back) and his parents are terrified of him. There’s not much else he can do right now but rant on the internet. He is fulfilling his meta commentary role established in Infinite Crisis.

For the moment you’re just going to have to accept it until he is brought back to wreck havoc in another story. I hope it’s a while until that happens because as much fun as he can be, there’s been a whole lot of Superboy Prime these last few years and it’s time for a bit of a break. And it seems like he and we are going to get it.

As for Adventure Comics, that’s a different Superboy: Conner Kent, the Superboy of Earth One.

Conor Kilpatrick


  1. Man oh man.  Looks like I missed out on LEGION OF 3 WORLDS.  That’s a great ending.  Plus, I like that Superboy-Prime doesn’t use proper typing method.  Hunting-and-pecking?  Not exactly super, but since he was stuck in limbo for 20 years without a keyboard, I’ll let it slide.

    If I do upgrade my trades, I immedately get rid of the older stuff.  I just don’t have the room.  The current STARMAN OMNIBUS series, for example, is making me slowly sell off my paperback trades of the series.  I gave a paperback copy of WATCHMEN to my sister-in-law after I found a hardcover version.  But this rarely happens.  I tend to be happy with whatever format I’ve got the story in.

  2. I LOVED the way they ended the Superboy-Prime story in Legion of 3 Worlds.  It was a perfect ending for the character Johns shaped.  Just as a heads up: That thread that Superboy-Prime is posting in actually exists in DC’s forums and there are actually posts from Superboy-Prime.  Fourth wall shattered.  I really like the way DC/Johns played this.

  3. Hate to burst your bubble Conor, but Superboy-Prime will probably be back soon. Just take a look at the cover to Adventure Comics #4 (which is pretty meta itself:

  4. There’s only 1 common factor with all the great Marvel comics, and that is that they were ALL written, edited, and created by Stan Lee.  Not Jack or Steve.  He’s the only one who was a part of every single issue.  His guidance of these ideas and characters shaped the Marvel world, even more so than Jack Kirby. 

    Jack Kirby’s greatest work is by far his 100+ run on Fantastic Four.  It was excellent the whole way.  There aren’t some issues that are better or worse than others there, they’re all explosive!  Yet the ifanbase today doesn’t even respect FF.

    I easily have read every single Marvel heroes comic ever drawn by Jack Kirby on Marvel DVD-ROM.  Which you could also read through for $5 on their Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited program.  I believe they have every Jack Kirby comic there.  There’s only about 150 or so.  It won’t take too long, and it’s very worth it.  He never drew a boring Marvel comic in the early years.  His 6 issue run on Hulk is a MUST READ it’s so good.  X-Men and Avengers were great too on his short runs.

    Though I agree when he was without Stan Lee writing, he wasn’t as good.  His 19 issues on Eternals, while a great original creation and idea by him, didn’t really go anywhere.  It had a great beginning, but not a great middle or ending.  Same for his Devil Dinosaur.

    If you want to buy a hardcover or omnibus, try selling your issues on Ebay.  You can get at least half or the cost of your next purchase.  It’s the best way to upgrade.  You don’t need 2 copies, and you can’t afford not to, by all the complaints we here of pricing issues.  (Though I prefer 12 issue Hardcovers to omnibus.  Easier to hold/enjoy)

  5. @jericho: Well, if FINAL CRISIS LEGION OF 3 WORLDS had come out on time we would have had at least six months without him.

  6. Cool well thanks for the clarification. And yup I know thats Connor Kent I was just talking about the cover of #4 has Prime on it with a bunch black rings.

  7. @chad: I ususlly don’t look at advanced covers or solicits so I didn’t know that Superboy Prime was going to9 be coming. I’m sure Geoff Johns will have a reasonable explanation.

  8. I enjoy the Johns Superboy Prime a lot, but my favorite interpretation of the the prime world remians Kurt Buisek’take in the Elsewords mini series: SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY. It has since been traded and  the rrade is out of print, but if you can find it, Chad it’s well worth it. The story has nothing to do with  the SuperMan/Boy that Johns has exlored, but Busiek writes a great intro in the trade about the the original  concept as presented in the old Superman comics he read.

    The atory is about a guy in the "real" world who happens to be named Clark Kent. It features fantastic art by Stuart Immonen.

  9. How comes DC never does any of those Omnibuses?  God, I would so buy most of the volumes of Batman, especially Morrison’s run which I already have in issues and most of the trades.  I think DC is purposely a dick about getting their reprint collections out so people buy the issues off the racks instead. It all seems like some big scam to me.

  10. I think Jack (and Steve Ditko, for his part) was more responsible for what you actually got on an issue by issue basis, but Stan was the dynamo of Marvel Comics. Stan was not only responsible for basically editing and organizing the universe as a LINE, but he was also the guiding light of ideas.

    It was Stan, for example, who came up with the idea for something called "Spider-Man", whose secret identity would be that of a kid with problems. Stan then had Jack draw Spider-Man, but Jack’s physical interpretation of the character was not to Stan’s liking, so Stan rejected it and gave Steve Ditko the chance to draw the character.

    On the other hand, characters like the Silver Surfer were entirely designed on the fly by Jack Kirby.

    So it really depends on how you look at it. After a while, yeah, Jack (and Steve) were just completely drawing whatever they wanted without much imput, and then Stan would script. But it was Stan who established the mood of the universe, and he definitely had more say in titles/characters as they were starting up. Kirby didn’t just show up with FF #1 already drawn; Stan worked out that there needed to be a team book, and then he kicked ideas back and forth with Jack, and in the early days the formative ideas only stuck if Stan liked them.

    He had invented Cap America decades before, but don’t forget that Jack Kirby didn’t do much at in the years preceeding his partnership with Stan.

    It depends on how you look at it. Stan’s artists probably did way more "work" than he did, but the work that Stan did, and the decisions he made, were usually the most important, deciding factors in what Marvel became.

  11. Man, who tought Superboy Prime how to type?  That’s all wrong.

  12. I totally enjoyed The Demon Omnibus by Kirby that DC put out earlier this year. The character’s getting some play in Wednesday Comics now, and if anyone’s diggin’ that, or Kirby, or enjoys the way-out fun of ’70s style horror/occult comics, it’s one to have on your shelf.

  13. Wow, that totally put the end of FC: LOTW into perspective. The ending kinda lost me but now it is clear to me. I have been shown the light. I actually really dug that story aside from that.

  14. @Josh thanks for answering my question. You basically echoed my thoughts on the subject. i never really appreciated Kirby until very recently (Final Crisis sparked my interest in the New Gods and with that I bought the fourth world omnibi and kirby’s pages just blew my mind). i’d like to think Jack is like the Orson Wells of comics. He basically created the language that’s used in comics today and it takes a certain level of knowledge and background to fully appreciate his work. Watch Citizen kane and it’s really nothing special until you realize that movies prior to it looked nothing like that. The same can be said to pre-kirby comics. there’s a reason Stan Lee would tell his all new artists to "draw like Jack."

    As for his imagination, it’s obviously unparalleled, but i question Ronin Ro’s interpretation of his role in the creation of the Marvel Universe (he’s obviously biased). That’s not to say Jack didn’t play a significant part (or even the main part like Ro suggests), but it just seems strange to me that when you remove Stan Lee from the equation, Jack’s creations tend to be flops. The fourth world is probably the most success he’s had and it is only really now getting the appreciation it deserves. Of course, if you take Spider-Man out of the picture, almost the exact same thing can be said about Stan Lee. 

    Either way, im glad i’ve finally started appreciating Kirby’s work because it’s truly phenomenal and im glad your iFanboy mini pointed out the Ronin Ro book because helped me appreciation Kirby’s role in comics in general even more. 

    I just wish the industry would have treated him better…

  15. It’s so sad to see the shit he put up with. But in a way, he was responsible for some of that treatment by not valuing himself more.

  16. Hey Ron! I’ll buy that Marvels trade off ya. 🙂



  17. I love Superboy-Prime so goddamn much. That and I like that Earth-Prime is back now, seeing as post-Crisis canonically speaking, our entire universe had been destroyed by a DC editorial decision. 

    @robbydzwonar While admittedly he has little to do with the reprints program, Dan Didio has said numerous times that he sees his job as getting people to go to their comic book store every Wednesday. But if that’s "some big scam", I’ll take the bridge he’s selling me.

  18. I’ll only get a trade or omnibus that i already have in issues and I intend to lend it out to friends. I gave my watchmen (in issues) to my friend to borrow and the entire time he had it I was imagining him ripping a page or spilling a coke on it, luckily nothing happened and he asked for more. I give out trades because I dont care what shape they come back in, as long as they are readable.

  19. Hmm so you guys are right.

    I do act like Superboy Prime.

  20. I like the idea that in a very viral marketing way the Superboy-prime character could show up on the DC forum. Imagine it, commentary from a character that interacted with the DC heroes. He could show up on twitter and bitch and moan about up-coming stories, kind of point out the little short comings or silly elements in a tongue in cheek tone


    Also in terms on stories, what if Superboy-prime’s influence on the forum actually changed DC editorial’s future events?

    It could be cool.

  21. =| *sigh* This week’s letter column didn’t benefit me at all… oh well *twiddles thumbs waiting for next week*

  22. @TNC – If you would just stop dismembering people and slaughtering green lanterns for 5 minutes….

  23. @TNC: Do you think you could punch a hole in reality for me? There’s a few things I need to retcon about my life.

  24. @stuclach: So many people have died cause of my hateful rants.

    @rustyautoparts: Text me about it later, when you do something like that it’s gotta be discreet.

  25. why be discreet?  when reality reforms none of us will remember

  26. OH my question got picked. (I folded and bought the Astonishing X-men Omnibus…sigh).

    Speaking of Kirby I was in my local comic shop, walked up to box, on the side of the box (50% off all trades) so I’m digging around, expecting to find a bunch of old 90’s books I’ve never heard of from companies I’ve never heard of…that turned out to be true, but then in the bottom of the box 8 Oversize hardcovers to Kirby books, that was a great find.

    Super boy Prime just makes me smile…which means I may have a problem, or not… 

  27. I love Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus books. The first one took me a while to get through, those Jimmy Olsen stories are a chore, but the rest…oh, man. I highly reccommend them. Especially the back matter that has the original penciled pages, they’re truly astonishing.

    I’ve been staying away from Marvel’s omnibus’ lately. I’m very careful with my stuff and I"m a bit anal retentive about them, but I’ve had 2 that the binding has split before I’ve finished reading them. Once that happens I have a hard time finishing the book cause I’m so mad at how much I spent on it, and most of the time they’re out of print and I can’t get a new one.

  28. Here’s a question sorta like what Jurassicalien asked:

    Would it be silly of me to trade in my first 8 trades of Walking Dead to get the conpendenium? I kinda prefer to get it in one huge book if I can. But that might be a bit wasteful since I’ll never get the money I gave away for getting the seperate trades.

  29. I don’t want to be "that" guy, but you should not complain about something when you haven’t read the story. Nor when it is that Ironic.

  30. I just bought the two oversized collection of Whedon’s X-Men run last week. Saw the omnibus was coming but it was a 1/3 more expensive than the two HC coeections. Plus those omnibi(omnibuses?) can have problems with binding and seeing whats on the inside of the page due to the sheer amount of pages in them. Plus they are damn heavy things to hold while reading.

  31. rereading my Astonishing X-men trades(can’t justify blowing money on something I already have-For the most part)

    However, Old man Logan (have the issues) definately waiting for that collection

  32. I recently found a good protion of Astonishing X-Men (3 of 4 trades) and Morrison’s New X-Men (first 4 or 5 trades) at a discount book store – 3 trades for $10. At that price, there is no way I couldn’t double-dip. My rule is unless it’s something spectacular (New Frontier) or cheap (see above), I try not to double dip. I’ll always look for something new instead of double dipping. If there’s nothing new, chances are I won’t buy anything, thus causing the downfall of the global economy. (My plans to rule the world are just beginning, folks.)

  33. I really, desperately don’t want to be that guy, but the current DC material takes place on New Earth. Earth-1 is the land of Busiek and Bagley’s Trinity, a book/world best left forgotten.

  34. @hakaider: For me, it’s always going to be Earth-1

  35. Just like 626 is reall Earth 1. Not even Earth One is good enough.