The iFanboy Letter Column – 09/05/2008!

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 bring a briefcase full of cash to the Greek diner. Again?

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

 


I just watched the video show on the Top 5 Batman Stories. I loved the choices, however I would have replaced A Death in the Family with Ten Nights of the Beast. I loved that series. When the KGBeast kills the one dude on the motorcycle with the piano wire across the road and then poisons an entire banquet to kill one guy, I mean what’s better than that? I still remember the frame where Batman barely lives after an encounter with the Beast and says “I may have found someone better at this than I am.”

I loved the Starlin, Aparo, and Decarlo run a great deal, but thought the Ten Nights of the Beast of the high point of that run. Yes the KGBeast became silly after that (I always thought he was a better candidate for breaking Batman than that stupid-head Bane) and Marv Wolfman’s KGVDemon was insipid. So this story did not create a great legacy like A Death in the Family, The Killing Joke, and A Lonely Place of Dying do you think that the stupid stuff that came after actually hurts this series legacy?

Jamie from Cincinnati, OH

Hey! The KGBeast and the NKVDemon! Talk about blasts from the past.

The ’80s were a good time for Batman stories, and they are indeed largely overlooked. A lot of that has to do with the length of time since they’ve been published — it’s been 20 years since Ten Night of the Beast. There are a ton of good stories from the era that are not as readily remembered as the good ones that also caused more of an impact on the character or the series. Lack of availability in trade format also hurts those stories’ profiles.

I don’t know that the silly stuff that came after Ten Night of the Beast hurt it so much as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the U.S.S.R.. Cold War specific villains lost a lot of their luster after that happened, and it’s hard to look at a character like the KGBeast the same way when the KGB itself is disbanded (kinda, sorta… they are just called the FSB now).

It also doesn’t help that, even by comic book standards, those names are really silly.

Conor Kilpatrick

 


I recently bought Marvel’s Spotlight on Uncanny X-Men 500 issues, and it included a cool Q & A with Paul Smith, an artist that I absolutely love and who brings back some great memories of  X-Men (#175 is probably my all-time favorite Uncanny issue).

This brought to mind some artist that I loved, like Paul Smith, Barry Windsor Smith, Ron Lim, Mike Zeck (his version of Punisher is what comes to mind whenever I think of him) Todd McFarlane (maybe). For the most part I don’t think they are in comics anymore, at least not in monthly books.

Who are some of your favorites past or present that you would like to see draw again? Not any specific book, just back in the medium again. Just thought this would make for a good discussion.

Jes

Oh man, how I long for so many creators to be making comic books again. Or specifically comic books that I’m reading. One of the most frustrating creators that I simply fell in love with in the 1990s was Travis Charest. His world on WildC.A.T.s resonated with me in ways that I still don’t understand. Sure he was of the Jim Lee school, but there was an elegance to his pencils that just made me want have everything he worked on. But then he moved to France or something like that and while I’m sure he was working, it wasn’t on anything I was reading. He’s resurfaced recently in a Marvel Ultimate book, but I flipped through it and something wasn’t the same (which I’ll address in a moment.)Another artist that I was completely dazzled by in the late 1990s was Steve Skroce. After a couple of runs on Marvel books, where he actually made Gambit look very cool, he got grabbed by Rob Liefeld and was going to put some juice into Youngblood. His character designs for Youngblood were awesome and a couple of issues actually came out. But then he got grabbed by Geoff Darrow and Hollywood, working on storyboards for a couple of little movies that made up the Matrix franchise. He resurfaced a few years ago with Doc Frankenstein, but I haven’t had the opportunity to read that yet. But I would love to see Skroce on some titles I’m currently reading, maybe The Flash?

But all this talk about artists we’d like to see working again makes me think about how even if they did, it’s never quite the same. We’ve spent years talking about how great John Byrne was, but in looking at pretty much all of his work in the 2000s, it’s not the same. I don’t know if its because of the natural progression of an artist and their style changes and morphs as time goes on, or if my tastes evolve and change, but ultimately I find myself being disappointed when that amazing artist I loved comes back to comics. Maybe it’s the old adage that you can never go home again, or nothing is like your first time or some such cliche’. But it sure is fun to think about and daydream. And boy were those Paul Smith X-Men issues glorious.

Ron Richards

 


I am writing because I watched the Hellblazer Mini on the site. Talk about karma but I started picking up the trades after a previous podcast you mentioned how good Hellblazer was. I noticed that there are 3 books outside of the main series that were published.

1) Papa Midnite
2) Lady Constantine
3) All His Engines

Are all of these necessary when reading the entire Hellblazer series? If so, where do they fall in the succession of the series? Any information on the context of these 3 books is welcomed. 

Paul

First of all, are you trying to kill me? More shows? Good lord! Blood from a stone you jackals! Blood from a stone!!!!

Anyway, where was I? Oh, Hellblazer. Right. It seems I’ve become a de facto authority on this title, which is interesting, because I feel like there’s a lot more to know than I do. Still, it starts to make sense to me how a lot of TV pundits get to be in those chairs, but don’t really seem like they know anything. The difference is that I admit it. However, I do know a few things, and if I can help, then by all means, I shall.

You mention a few trades that seem a bit different than the regular series books. Papa Midnite is a character who showed up in Garth Ennis’ run, and was killed fairly quickly. Then, as it turns out, he was used as a character in the Constantine film, played by Djimon Hounsou. Shortly thereafter he was used in a mini series, which became a trade. Now, I bought it at the time, but I didn’t understand it, and I don’t think you’ve got to have it. Me, I’d skip it.

Lady Constantine was a 4 issue mini, since collected by Andy Diggle and Goran Sudzuka, about Johanna Constatine, one of John’s ancestors. I think I bought the issues, but again, they didn’t make a huge impact. Looking at the creative team, I could go either way with it. But again, not necessary to the overall experience.

And finally, All His Engines, which is remarkably, and despite the title, not written by Warren Ellis, was an original graphic novel done by Mike Carey and Leonardo Manco, who were oddly enough, the regular writer and artist on the series. It’s very possible that I didn’t read this because, well, why not just put it in the book I’m already buying? It’s a mystery about global sickness John must solve, and I think it was also put out as a stand alone story people who liked the movie might be into.

So, that’s the deal. You don’t need them. I’d get all the Ennis stuff, and the Carey stuff, and the Diggle stuff, and when you’ve exhausted all that, but still want more, then try these out.

Josh Flanagan

 

Comments

  1. I can add a little to Josh’s info on Hellblazer:

    Papa Midnite was first introduced in Jamie Delano’s first story arc of Hellblazer (found in the Original Sins trade paperback). I completely forgot that he re-appeared in Ennis’ run. This mini-series looks like it pulls more from the movie than anything established by Delano or Ennis. In fact, I don’t think it fits in anywhere into the proper series in terms of "continuity."

    Lady Constantine was actually first introduced by Neil Gaiman in Sandman. I think this was after Jamie Delano established a "lineage" of constantines in  the main Hellblazer book. I don’t think Johanna Constantine has ever really appeared in the proper series, so like Josh has said… it’s pretty unnecessary.

    I also want to add that I’m re-reading the early Delano stuff in trades right now. I don’t think everything is collected yet, but it’s actually good stuff, and I would recommend it, too.

  2. Oh Skroce! I forgot all about him. I remember right before leaving comics, he did a fantastic 4 issue Wolverine arc. Totally would love him back. 

  3. Ooh, a Mike Zeck fan.  I love his Captain America stuff from the 80s.  He did great facial expressions and seemed to really, really love drawing legs in high-waisted pants.

  4. Everybody needs to read Alan Moore and Steve Skroce’s Youngblood.  Seriously.

  5. Paul Smith set an X-men standard that for my money wasn’t reached again until the 2000s. Better than Adams, Lee, Liefeld, Silvestri, Maduiera, Lopresi, Kubert bros., etc. Far, far, FAR superior to J.R.Jr., who followed Smith (the Smith to Romita handoff that occured mid-175 was as jarring to me as throwing transmission into reverse when you’re cruising at freeway speeds. Dunno what it was exactly ’cause I was, and am, a Junior fan, but his X-Men never, ever workedfor me.)

    For my money, it wasn’t until Quitely showed up that an artist equalled Smith on Uncanny.Perhaps the Windsor-Smith one off stories with Storm and Forge, but…nah, now that I think about it, Smith hasn’t been equalled at all. Man I want those in a good trade format. Maybe an Uncanny Omnibus, vol. 2. Or 3, since 2 would likely have the rest of the Byrne stories then the Cockrum II run. Whatever. His Dr. Strange books were awesome too. Man, I love me some Paul Smith art

  6. Hey guys, y’know what’d be really cool? An Edit comment function. So, when someone pulls something like using a phrase "for my money" twice in one post and doesn’t catch it until s/he hits submit, s/he can do more than go "D’oh!" and hope no one catches it.

  7. I second the "edit comment" request.

  8. There is a lot of good 80’s and early 90’s books…The problem is that most of the comics looked like what Ron showed for his question at Paul Smith. No offense if anyone likes that style, but if everything was hyperrealistic like that then most people dismiss that era of comics anyways.

    But I would love to read that ‘Ten Nights of the Beast’ book. That sounds like a really fun arc, it’s almost like Batman vs Punisher in a way…Yes KGBeast was a bad villian now, but back then when everyone hated those fighting reds…it was the best book out there.

  9. @TheNextChampion – Psst… TNotB wasn’t that good, particularly the art.  I’m thinking maybe that there were trades but printed on the standard comic paper like the Death in the Family trade was.  You might be able to snag one on eBay.

  10. Jim Aparo!

  11. @horatio: Hey Aparo was the same man who drew the ‘Death in the Family’ arc. So I’m guessing you didnt like the art for that too. If it has the same detail in characters and buildings like that arc did, I’m all for this. Then again I’m getting ahead of myself, I need to read it before I say it’s good of course.

  12. @I hate to say it, but was never a fan of Aparo’s art.  Great Zeck covers but didn’t like the interiors.  No, I didn’t like the ‘Death in the Family’ art either.

    Guys like Aparo, Trimpe, Infantino, Swan, Ditko, legends all, but I was always disappointed as a kid to see their art in a book I bought. 

  13. If you’re looking for a good Batman story from that era check out Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson’s Batman: The Cult.  Good stuff there.

  14. Jim Aparo and Curt Swan are two pencilers who have grown on me since I was a kid.  Now I hold um up there with Kirby but they did bore me as a youngin’.

  15. Yep! We could definitely use more shows. I’m sure that if u guys sucked it up, u could do at least 3 more full length shows a week. Relationships, and day jobs are way over rated anyways. (The preceding was said with tongue planted firmly in cheek.)

    Here’s an idea though! Why don’t u guys give the interns the key to the A.V. room for a day, and have them do a Special Edition, BONUS, Intern podcast?

    They could either do "their" picks of the week and/or month, or they could highlight books that you guys didn’t get a chance to discuss. Something like that maybe. Just a thought.

    "Unoob. Youre a genius!"

     

    PS- I LOVE the new show! There was definitely something special about the Paul Cornell interview, and I am thrilled that u guys are giving us more of this extra goodness.

    Thanks

  16. I need to point out that Ron Lim is still doing monthly comics. DC keeps him busy with their stuff (that I don’t read, so someone else will have to fill in the gaps), and he’s also done the adaptations of Anita Blake stories over at Marvel.

  17. Swamp Thing?

    If you want extra Hellblazer why not Swamp Thing?

    there’s the alan moore run which I haven’t  read yet, but there are also other people that put constantine in that book.

    Swamp Thing TP Bad Seed – Andy Diggle and some other guy. It’s a nice TP but through it it starts to loose it’s great timing.

    I haven’t read any swamp thing apart from that TP – does anyone know of other places he is used in? 

  18. Constantine first appeared in Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, where his body was used as a vessel through which the green plant elemental could impregnate his girlfriend.  Not sure which volume, but that was his first appearance in issue #37, and he appeared here and there after that.

  19. Josh did a whole mini for Constantine! Now I’m broke cause I need to go out and get them, damn you for letting me buy quality comics josh! 🙂

  20. Fun fact that is completely unecessary! John Constantine actually appeared first in Crisis on Infinite Earths (I believe #5) which came out a week or two before Swamp Think #37. But since Constantine was created by Moore before Crisis (Wolfman had permission to use him) it’s truly the proper first appearance though scheduling made it different. I know, I know, doesn’t really add anything useful, but I thought I would share…:)

  21. I’m looking at how much Steve Skroce has done, and from what I’m searching through, he waspractically a gun for hire. I think the book he was on the most in the 90s was Gambit, andthat was not a long run- for him or the title. It’s funny, I own one ofthe 90s Gambit books, and they refer to a comic as a "mag." Was that the angle they were going for to sell comics back then?

    In ’08 Skroce did art for some company called Fantasy Prone on a book called United Free Worlds.