The iFanboy Letter Column – 09.17.2010

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 — contact@ifanboy.com


Where do each of you read your comics after you get them? Josh has mentioned his kitchen table in the past and Ron has mentioned reading them on a treadmill before, but I was wondering if there was a regular spot you go to dive into your stack on Wednesday nights.

Elliott (Duraflametree)

I read when and where ever I can find a moment. We’ve got a smallish apartment and it’s impossible to find a place where there’s no baby or dog or wife, and so I take what I can get. It used to be that I’d usually read on the bed, laying on my stomach, books in front of me (try to contain your feelings of sexiness ladies and gentlemen), but I have no routine now at all.

The only thing I really need is to not be distracted, so the essential element of my reading is usually headphones. I know some people can read when other stuff is going on, or a TV is on, but I can’t do that at all. I’ll look up after 5 pages, and realize I didn’t take in any of what I just “read”.

Actually, the more than I think about it, the place I most normally read most of my book is either out in the city, at a restaurant by myself, or on the subway, because no one will bug me in those situations. I’ve also found myself on some Wednesdays volunteering to do laundry, so I can go over and sit and read while the clothes are going. I suppose the point is, I have no routine or ritual. When I had a day job, I had a routine of going to lunch by myself and reading for the entire hour. It was prose books most days, and comics on Wednesdays. I’m not that worried about soiling my comics, so that being the case, it made a really nice time away from the office, and I miss that quite a bit. I do have a specific way I tend to set up the food when I read. Comics to the left, food to the right, drink to the right of that. Napkins in front of the food. Hopefully, it’s a one handed food item, but you just have to take your chances with a burrito. On the headphones? Usually just music on shuffle. If I know the music too well, it’ll distract me, so I tend to skip around to stuff I kind of know or at least stuff that’s sort of mid-tempo. Lately, I’ve really enjoyed reading while listening to Regina Spektor or Ray LaMontagne.

Josh Flanagan

 


I was just wondering what are your most prized comics. The ones you chased down and finally got. Also, what is you favorite run of something you own.

Joe from St. Louis, Missouri

Sometimes a simple question can really be the best way to start a Friday, and so I thought I’d take Joe’s question as a chance to stroll down memory lane a bit. A lot of the questions I’ve been answering lately seem to be related to the concept of back issues and the older days of comics, back when you would chase down a back issue, or go fill out a run. These days, the issues themselves seem to disposable, with back issue chasing giving way to trade paperbacks and other collected editions.So in the spirit of reminiscing, I’ll tell the tale of a comic I chased down.

The first, not surprisingly, is X-Factor #1. It was around 1991 or so, and I had just been diving deep into the X-Men world of comics. Slowly grabbing back issues of Uncanny X-Men to fill my knowledge. As I expanded, I discovered the other titles out there, just in time for the flurry of new #1 issues, mainly focused around X-Men #1. It was this frenzied time period that I set the goal of tracking down X-Factor #1. I couldn’t afford Uncanny X-Men #1, so why not go for the next best thing, the first issue of a spinoff featuring the original X-Men? It was published just a few years before (in 1986 no less, we praise this year for Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, and yet no one mentions the genius of X-Factor? Lame!) and thus it was readily available and mildly affordable. I poured over issues of Wizard and The Comic Buyer’s Guide, trying to get a good assessment of how much this gem would be worth and would ultimately cost me. I traveled to comic book stores around Long Island, seeking a store that not only had X-Factor #1, but one that was in better than good condition and that I could afford. Finally, after a tireless search I found my X-Factor #1 and began saving my meager paycheck to afford it. $40 dollars later, which mind you to a 13 year old is a FORTUNE, and I held it in my hands. I remember sitting in our big old family station wagon as my sister drove us to the mall, after a brief stop at the comic book store to make the purchase, and holding the comic in my hands, still in the plastic, afraid to take it out while in transit. I couldn’t let this gem be exposed to the harsh winter air of New York. I had to wait until I got home, where I slid it out of its bag and board and slowly, carefully read the issue.

I just looked up on the web and eBay to see what X-Factor #1 is going for these days, and it looks like you can get a Near Mint copy for $6.00. So maybe it wasn’t the smartest investment in the world, but for $40, I bought a whole lot of happiness.

As for my favorite run of something I own, somewhat boring and predictable and far less dramatically sentimental, but I love my run of Uncanny X-Men, that one day will be complete.

Ron Richards

 


Since Batman #701 and #702 have come out, I thought I’d go back and reread Morrison’s “RIP” storyline. I came across a confusing plot point that I wanted to get your opinion on. Does The Joker and Gordon know that Bruce Wayne is Batman? In the concluding issue, Batman unmasks and Jezebel calls him Bruce all while Joker’s in the same room. With Gordon, there’s a number of references to them being one and the same from Talia and Damien directly to Gordon.

Matthew (devildog)

This is one of those murky Batman questions that is hard to definitively answer. It has, over the years, sort of been implied that both The Joker and Commissioner Gordon know that Bruce Wayne is Batman. There have been hints and implications and scenes like you described. In the case of The Joker it seems that he’s so crazy that he just doesn’t care about the man behind the mask, all he cares about is Batman. Commissioner Gordon seems to be a case of willful ignorance or subconscious blocking. If Gordon admitted to himself that he knew Bruce was Batman he’d have to do something about it. So if he continues to pretend like it’s a mystery, especially to himself, then Batman can continue to protect Gotham City.

It’s entirely possible that I’m wrong and that it has been explicitly stated that they both know (or both don’t know, or just one knows) but I don’t think it has.

Conor Kilpatrick

 

Comments

  1. I believe Morrison has gone back and forth whether Gordon knows who Batman is. With RIP, he seemed to be completely ignorant on what was going on. But recently with Batman and Robin he seems to know quite well who Batman was before and after Bruce left. I also think you’re dead on with the Joker conor. He is so insane now that he doesn’t give a crap who is under the cowl. He just wants to ‘play’ around with him with his sanity. Although he does seem to be a bit upset that Dick has taken over. 

  2. @TNC Did he know who each Batman was in B&R or was it just he recognized that it was a different Batman in the suit?  I thought it was the latter.

  3. The one comic i really searched for was the aquaman mini from 84, which I found at fanexpo this year; good deal, each issue was $1.

    i agree with Conor and TNC, Joker knows and just doesn’t care. Bruce is real the identity Batman hides behind and i don’t see him using Bruce’s life to get to Batman. Batman doesn’t hold it as in high regard as he does his real persona.

  4. Sorry Ron, I have seen X-Factor #1 many times in the dollar bins.  Usually in mint or near mint condition.  It’s ok, I paid $30 for Spawn #1 in 1995.  Ouch

  5. I remember at the end of Batman: Year One, Bruce is maskless in front of Gordon, but Gordon doesn’t have his glasses, and says something like "I’m blind as a bat without glasses" to Bruce.  Indicating that Bruce’s identity is not exposed (because Gordon won’t reveal Bruce’s identity, or he literally is blind as a bat and thus truly can’t tell who’s there).  I had always taken this as the former, (Gordon knows), but is telling/implying to Bruce he’ll pretend he doesn’t know.

    (And yes, I’m sure the "bat" reference in "blind as a bat" is on purpose too.)

  6. Also, this whole identity thing is interesting for Batman, since if that mask does come off there is a very good chance people will recognize him ("Hey that’s Bruce Wayne! I recognize him from the newspaper and television).  Verses someone like Spider-Man, where is mask can come off all people say is, "Hey, it’s just some kid!"

  7. Re: Does Gordon know who Batman is.

    If you can find it, check out BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #125. It’s part of the NO MAN’S LAND Batman event and was collected in the fourth NO MAN’S LAND trade. It’s written by Rucka with solid pencils by Rick Burchett. This issue is a solid character piece with Gordon venting his frustrations with many of Batman’s actions and Batman claiming that he and Jim are equals. In an effort to regain trust, Batman decides to take his mask off to prove their are no walls between the two of them. After that, well, you’ll just have to read the story. It’s a wonderful moment and it’s my favorite issue in the entire event. Seek that one out.

    By the way, that was the first comic that made me notice Greg Rucka. I’ve been a fan ever since. 

  8. @Josh, hey, how long is your subway ride anyway? Are you able to finish a comic on the ride, or is it just a page or two?

  9. @powerdad, actually, lately Peter Parker has become kind of notorious, being recognized on the street and in unemployment lines as "that no-good Peter Parker who faked a photo," so at this point, it could be considerably more dangerous for him to lose his mask in a fight! 

    Granted, that could undo OMD completely, as seeing Peter’s face in Spidey’s suit did for the FF and Avengers, so they probably just won’t go there…until it’s time to shake things up again.

  10. @gobo: Well when I read the first three issues, and also the recent arc, it seems like Gordon knows who is under there. Doesn’t hurt that he’s been teaming up with Dick lately. 

  11. I’m with gobo on this one. 

  12. @Josh -I like the whole idea of taking your comics out on a date! Let’s meet @1pm over burgers!Also, headphones are an awesome idea, however, I would just use them for the added silence.

     

  13. I’m pretty happy with having Miracleman 1-24 and Apocrypha in my collection.  I was able to buy the run on ebay for a reasonable price.  Of course, what little heat is there for those issues will vanish if/when they ever clear up the litigation and reprint them, and I’ll have to eat the markup, especially since I’d be first in line to buy an Omnibus or Hardcovers.

  14. Best hunt: sandman #2. Took me bloody ages and cost 10x cover price. Best run: the whole of wally west flash, of course.

  15. Conor’s absolutely right. Gordon’s knowledge of Batman’s identity is one of the murkiest, most unanswerable questions in all of Batman history. There are a slew of references throughout the decades (some more ambiguous than others), I just thought I’d offer up one of my favs.

    At the end of the often bemoaned Officer Down (the arc in which Gordon is shot and retires), Batman shows up on his back porch after Jim’s fully recovered and says somethings like "After all we’ve been through, I owe you the truth." He starts to take off the cowl, and Gordon stops him. He tells him he doesn’t need to know his name, because he knows him for the man he is. It’s a really well done scene (possibly the best in the entire arc), and does a great job of conveying their relationship. It’s also a nice cap on their alliance. One of my favorites.

    As for Morrison, I thought the answer was pretty clear up until #13, when Jim says something like "I’ve known Bruce for a long time, but he’s been acting strange lately." (Because he’s Tommy Elliot). This seems to imply that Gordon doesn’t know Batman’s identity, just that someone else is under the cowl, which runs contrary to everything Morrison has hinted at up til now. Why would Gordon say that to the new Batman? Wouldn’t he assume that whoever it is knew that Bruce was Batman? And why wouldn’t Dick question it the same way we are? Is it part of a bigger plan on Morrison’s part, or one too many hits of peote? You decide.

  16. @JeffR 

    I love that moment in No Man’s Land. Probably my favrite moment in one of my favorite Batman stories ever. 

  17. I’ve seen Gordon in Grayson’s silo twice in the last year.  First in Blackest Night: Batman #3, and then more recently in Batman & Robin #13.  You mean to tell me that a cop who has been in the city since Miller’s Year One (if were not counting Morrison’s refurbished Silver Age) wouldn’t have any idea that he is mostly like in the area of a giant skyscaper that has been owned by Bruce Wayne all those years?  No way, he definitely had to know what part of the city he was in both of those times.  A little simple detective work would lead to who actually finances the operation.  Plus Grayson wasn’t very hard to recognize all those years he was rocking that maskless Nightwing uniform.  Hmmmm….  Nightwing hasn’t been seen since right around the time an obviously different man has been running around in the Batman uniform with a kid who looks just like the kid I saw in Wayne Manor during RIP?  Hmmmm….  I’m a detective for christ’s sake!   Braindead individuals don’t end up being Police Commisioner, not even in GC!  Too be honest with you, I belive Gordon knows who EVERY vigilante in Gotham is, he’s just better off looking the other way when it comes to vigilasm.  He’s a busy guy with a lot bigger wackos then a rich man who runs around in a Bat suit on his’ hands…

    Joker has none who is Batman since at least RIP.  He’s probably known a lot longer.  Like Knightfall!  Just so happened that BW crashed his car over a hill the same night Batman got his back broken in by Bane…???  Even Joker’s got enough sense to add one and one together, even if the Joker Toxin has been burning brain cells for an awful long time!!