The iFanboy Letter Column – 09/25/2009

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 is the day you throw another hail mary pass.

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 —


Being a relatively new DC fan I’m confused about the various Leagues and Societies both domestically and international. I know I like most of the characters, but don’t know the difference between these teams. Can you shed some light and possibly tell me where there’s a good starting place for either?


Being new to the DC Universe you should know about the most important society of all — The Children’s Aid Society.

I’m… hold on… okay, I’m being told that The Children’s Aid Society is actually not what you’re asking about. I apologize. But now hopefully you have that jingle stuck in your head like I have for the past 20 years.

So I guess you’re looking for a breakdown between the Justice Society of America and the Justice League of America.

The Justice Society of America are the grand daddies, they are the superheroes of The Greatest Generation. First appearing in All Star Comics #3 in 1940, the Justice Society of America is the first superhero team. It’s a team featuring the DC heroes of the Golden Age whose original line-up included Green Lantern (Alan Scott), The Flash (Jay Garrick), Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Hourman, Sandman and The Spectre. The Justice Society is notable for the fact that it was among this team that Wonder Woman first appeared (later retconned to be Hippolyta — Diana’s mother).

Just as the Golden Age gave way to the Silver Age, so too did the heroes change and the need for a new super hero team in the DCU arise. Thus came the Justice League of America, which first appeared exactly 20 years later in The Brave and The Bold #28. The original lineup included Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Aquaman, and J’onn Jonzz, The Martian Manhunter. Later retcons to the original line-up would jetison Superman and Batman and replace Wonder Woman with Black Canary.

But the Justice Society of America characters were still around, so instead of just shunting them to the side, the multiverse was utilized and it was revealed that the Justice Society of America were the heroes of Earth-2, while the Justice League of America were on Earth-1. This allowed DC to have both teams exist at once and crossover with each other to share adventures.

This arrangement continued until 1985 and Crisis on Infinite Earths did away with the mutliverse, bringing everyone back together again in the same timeline. Now, the Justice Society of America existed in the DCU’s past, they disbanded in the 1950s and were all retired by the time the Justice League of America came around. After Crisis, the Justice League became an awesome vaudeville comedy book. It started out as the plain old Justice League, and then it gained United Nations affiliation and became Justice League International. Soon after that it was split into two books — Justice League America and Justice League Europe, who was based out of Paris. This lasted for a while until, as the Spice Girls once said, two became one, and we had Justice League of America again (later known simply as JLA under Grant Morrison).

While the Justice League books couldn’t settle on a name for more than a few years at a time, DC realized that they had all these vital characters that still had fans that might buy their books so a bunch of mystical mumbo jumbo was utilized to bring the Justice Society of America back to the DCU present, still a little older than their Justice League counterparts, but young enough to continue the fight against evil.

That’s basically the history of the teams, which is by no means comprehensive. In a nut shell, the Justice Society of America has been positioned as the elder statesmen of the DCU. They are the ones that everyone looks up to because they fought in World War II and were the original costumed adventurers. The Justice League maybe be full of all the modern day powerhouses, but everyone respects the Justice Society above all others.

Where to start with these characters, that’s a trickier question to answer. I think it depends on what and how you want to read. Do you want to read these books in issues now? Then I’d start with the upcoming Justice League of America #38, which is the first issue with the relaunch by James Robinson and Mark Bagley. With Justice Society of America, the current new writing team of Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges have been on the book for a few issues, and they are soon going to be splitting up into two separate Justice Society books. You might want to wait for the split. But honestly, the book has been awkward and not great with the new team.

If you just want to read the classics then I’d recommend that four Justice League International hardcovers, which are my all time favorite comics. Also Grant Morrison’s run on JLA is about as good as I’ve ever read straight-up adventure super heroing (as opposed to the sitcom style of JLI). For Justice Society of America, Geoff Johns wrote the team for about nine years in two different incarnations and both are great, though if I had to recommend one, I’d say the most current book was the best.

Conor Kilpatrick


Just thought I would drop you a line because thanks to Conor’s pick, I now own a copy of Moon Knight #1, a comic book I did not like and would not have picked up if not for the review it received. Now this is not a complaint of the Pick, far from it. Each to their own. I just wasn’t feeling it like Conor was (besides how could I complain about this when Ron managed to convince me to pick up X-Men Forever with his enthusiastic review).

No, the choice of Pick is not a problem, nor is the fact that I didn’t agree with the quality of the book. What it got me thinking about is the power you guy wield. Seriously. I am sure I am not only person who’s willingness to give a new title a shot is heavily influenced by your shows and reviews. 90% of the time (not that I’m keeping stats for real) things work out and I’m introduced to some great new material. But what worries me is what I am missing. I mean you guys can not be expected to pick up every hot book that comes out.

My question is are you aware of any good material you missed in the past has Pick and how do you minimize missing material or ending up in bed with certain publishers?


First of all, I enjoy being referred to in a similar manner as Thanos or Odin, when talking about the “power” we “wield”.  I shall endeavor to be a gracious and wise ruler, but know this: you will kneel!


Anyway, it’s interesting because we’ve noticed that as the audience has grown over the years, people seem to be getting more worked up over what the Pick of the Week actually is. I, for one, knew we should never have given you the right to vote on your own. It makes people uppity. And one cannot rule a people who are not submissive and docile like the geldings you are. Further, it is my decree that all virgins shall be…


The thing about the Pick of the Week is that it’s just one book. You might like it, and you might not. More often than not, most people who give it a shot are pleased, and something all of us like is introducing new comics to people who didn’t know about them. But tastes are unique for everyone, and some people just aren’t going to like some things, like you and Moon Knight. All we can do is tell you what we liked, and why we liked it. You’re going to make your own decisions based on available information. But, and this is very important, even if you’re not in accord with the Pick of the Week, it’s not the only book we talk about. On the audio show, we talk about the Pick for about 10 minutes. Then we spend around 30 or 40 minutes talking about other books. It’s a time freely given to you mangy, thankless whelps, and I should sooner demonstrate the strength of my boot heel than lower myself to the level of your weak and onerous musings. Were it worth the effort, I’d slaughter the lot of you for my soup–

Again, sorry.

You know, not that we’re all encompassing, but I don’t think there is much material we miss. Between myself, Ron, Conor, the writing staff, and the posters, at least one of us tends to get to the good stuff most times. When something really good comes out, or one of us has a great experience with a comic, an email is almost always sent to the staff. Between the audio shows, the video shows, and the written content, we cover a hell of a lot of ground. So not to toot our own horn too much, but of the stuff we like, I bet we get to most of it. Of course there will always be areas of comics that none of the staff is interested in, and of course, the readers and review writers in the iFanbase cover those bases. If anything, it’s a matter of the audience finding time to consume and remember all the stuff we’ve talked about. Not that we’d really expect them to do that. No, they’re too busy groveling and sniveling in the dirt, among the worms, among the fleas, like vermin, rank with the odor of rotting offal, a revolting conflagration of disgust and a thoroughly pathetic existence.

Okay… sorry… I really, I–

Finally, you ask about being in bed with certain publishers. Simply put, that doesn’t happen. We have contacts and friends at many publishers, and of course we have our favorites, but more because they’re people who tend to publish the kinds of work we like. I find that we don’t talk about Drawn and Quarterly books all that often or Slave Labor Graphics, and more than anything that has to do with the fact that none of us are drawn to those publishers. Obviously that could change. Some publishers send us more review material than others, and while there’s a better chance on paper that they’d get a spotlight, it doesn’t really work out that way. We all tend to focus on stuff we really like, and that’s about the whole story. There’s no secret conspiracy behind the coverage, and after many years, we’d like think that’s fairly evident from the coverage.

And now you will be lashed to the wall and shot.

Josh Flanagan



  1. I feel like Josh enjoyed that way too much.  Although, probably, not as much as Paul would.

  2. HA, the beginning of Josh’s answer was hilarious. Yeah, opinions about the PoTW can easily get heated, but then I just look at some of my own opinions and that reminds me that you just gotta be a little forgiving of others’ choices. In regards to Moon Knight #1, I didn’t read the whole issue, but I read like an 8-page preview that was printed in some other comic I bought last week. I thought it was HORRIBLE–from the writing in the captions, to the look of the artwork, to the action sequence that didn’t thrill me in the least–it reminded me of a bad ’90s comic revival or something. I thought, "Oh god, who the heck would want to read that? It screams awful. Who would trick themselves into thinking it was interesting?" Then Conor made it his PoTW. But, hey, I’ve made X-Men Forever my pick a few times; because I just like it, even though I know there are many legitimate reasons for people to dislike it. I even made an issue of Loeb’s Hulk my pick once in a very light week–I thought the issue was decent, even though I’m not a superfan of the series and sometimes groan along with everyone else at the things Loeb has written lately.

    It isn’t about bowing down to the religion of "Everything’s subjective!"–a comment that I think gets far too much play on the internet and is used as a cureall to just NOT THINK about why you like or dislike something–but it’s about just accepting that as a reader you can have a hell of a good time with certain stories that have pretty clear shortcomings. And that’s okay. Things that have legitimate imperfections can still be enjoyed. If you told me X-Men Forever had awful dialogue at times, I’d pretty much agree with you. You can actually take a pretty objective look at Claremont’s writing and see that he reuses the same tropes so much that it’s impossible to say it’s GREAT writing. But I can still enjoy X-Men Forever despite that, and no one can take that away. I think it goes back to what I said in my review of Old Man Logan this week: "reviews" and hence PoTWs are about "enjoyment", not about what is good or most interesting from a critical/academic standpoint.

  3. I can see the evil smile on Josh’s face when he wrote that too perfectly…

  4. All hail king Flanagan

  5. All is redeemed by picking FF #571 this week.


  6. If Josh ever becomes king, remind me to flee the country in terror

  7. @Josh – That response was absolute gold, sire. Was that done off the cuff? If so, I want your autograph (on my tattoo of this response).

    @Conor – Could you please provide some visual aids to support your response? A nice flowchart would probably clear things up.

  8. "I shall endeavor to be a gracious and wise ruler"

    I see josh is prepairing himself to be a father…

  9. @TNC – That was actually pretty funny. Seriously…. I wasn’t prepared for that.

  10. I, for one, welcome our new french bulldog overlords.

  11. No Ron…. 🙁

    Another good thing to do is to get an even wider base of opinions. I spend most of my work time waiting for something to go wrong and I can spend entire shifts reading, watching tv or playing videogames. So I have a bit of time I try to fill. I supplement IFanboy website, video and audio with some other comic books podcasts, my favorite being Around Comics and Tom Vs. The Flash for audio and Fresh Ink and Comic Book Club for video. 

     Tom is not great for reviews though, he reads old Silver Age Flash books, he’s funny. That is all. 

  12. The maturation of the POW has been interesting.  People never used to get so upset about the opinion of one of the guys back in day (which means, like, 2006).  I do like that the guys do such a good job covering many aspects of the industry, and I, for one, am a better reader and comic buyer because of it.

    Of course, I’m still waiting for some Atomic Robo love, but there’s only so many hours in the day. 🙂 

  13. Josh is.

  14. This Joh Flanagan has the anti-lif in him. Darkseid Aproves!

  15. Josh’s answer was comedy GOLD!

  16. Damn right I is.

  17. i’m waiting for comedy PLATINUM!

  18. Thanks for answering my letter, Conor!

  19. Ah, Conor stole my joke.

    Moving along then…

  20. So…when they kept saying "he loves you" were they really just referring to Josh?  

    I think so. 

  21. Except he doesn’t.

  22. @josh – I don’t believe you.

  23. @miyamotofreak: XD!!! FINALLY!! Someone’s catching on to my references.

    I at LEAST check out issues that are pick of the week, the next wednesday I attend the shop. They sometimes grab me sometimes it’s a miss and I don’t pick it up but that’s okay since I’m more likely to drop cash down for an indie book than anything else since it gives the indie creator a possible chance to make another issue that would pick up.

    I’m sorry… I meant:

    "Doom?" []_[]

  24. Speaking of Morrison’s JLA run, I need to pick up the second ultimate hardcover once I get my $$ right.  JSA doesn’t really seem like my thing but I do wanna check out the sequels to Kingdom Come someday.

  25. So when Conor has a kid and/or gets married (you don’t know it might not be in order) will we have the switch between kids?

    So that one day josh’s kid; raised by conor will have his revenge on his evil father? When the kid comes that legend will be set in stone.

  26. I’m going to comment about why I think some of the ifanbase and why I, personally, have been disappointed by the some of the recent picks.

     Like flapjaxx said, "Everything is objective" is used as a cure all to just NOT THINK about why you like or dislike something. Despite the popular misconception, Art is not totally subjective. One work may be clearly better than the other. Can anyone argue That the Mona Lisa isn’t a finer work of art than Ke Done? Both use exactly the same medium, both ultimately preform the same role in society but one is better than the other. I think that there have been recent picks where this applies, picks which where just wrong. (Spider-man Short Halloween over Wolverine 72, Scalped 31 over Blackest Night 1 or just X-men Forever 4)

     So what, right? It ultimately doesn’t really effluence the users, right?

    Except, there is an unknown number of people taking the time to use this site daily, weekly, monthly, whatever. An unknown number of people that have donated their own money to the site. Most importantly, an unknown number of people that genuinely care about the site, care about the comics they read, care about the comic book medium and care about the Pick of the Week… People who take it seriously for some crazy reason

     I mean no offence and enjoy everything Josh, Ron, Conor and the staff writers produce. That’s just a comment.


    P.S. Damn the Man

  27. @edward – There are too many variables for any supposed contest between two or more books to be entirely objective. The ‘rules’ of the POW are simply "What did I like best." That’s subjective. We’re not handing out grant money here. There’s no wrong answer. 

  28. @Paul: Except that response is the wrong answer. So when you think about it:

    It’s a wrong answer that gets backed up by a wrong answer. So it’s like a big super wrong when we try to back this up.

    …..I need to lie down for a bit I gave myself a headache.

  29. @THC huh?  Can I assume that was an attempt at humor and you ended up spraining your brain during the attempt?

  30. @siraim: Hit the nail on the head.

    My head still hurts though…

  31. @edward: I’d have to disagree with the notion that art isn’t toally subjective. Your points ring true only for the general consensus of a social group. As a culture, it has been decided that the Mona Lisa is one of the best works of art of all time. I couldn’t care less about the paiinting. I’m not impressed with it, I’m not moved by it, it doesn’t matter to me on a personal level. I can’t deny its influence on western art or its importance to the general public, but it wouldn’t even rank in my top 100 paintings of all time.

    When Ron, Josh, Conor, or the iFanbase are making their PotW, they are picking the issue they enjoyed the most that week. They aren’t considering what the general comic reading public felt. They don’t necessarily have to take its influence or importance into account. It’s their own personal opinion, and that’s all that matters. If Conor picked Superman #1 over Watchmen #5 (both with cover dates of Jan 87) because he liked the new direction of Supes and Watchmen had too many pirates, I couldn’t hold that against him. Sure, he might be wrong on a cultural consensus level, but PotW isn’t a cultural consensus, it’s the view of one person.

    To sum up my point: all art is completely subjective on the personal level.

  32. @edward  I, for one, would be offended if the pick of the week was wasted pandering to the fad of the week (Blackest Night #1 vs. Scalped 31, for example) as opposed to a genuine representation of the book that the iFanboy on deck enjoyed the most.  If they chose the book that had the greatest popular supprt (Wolverine 72 vs. Spiderman the Short Halloween) then it would be a betrayal of the code of reviewers: be honest. 

    They could (like a certain movie reviewer in a certain Los Angeles paper) be a shill for the industry whose whole purpose is to provide pull quotes for movie posters.  They could (like a certain New York Times movie reviewer) review only those things which are "worthy" or "quality," in which case they’d be writing about themselves and not the product.  The could (like a certain USA Today movie reviewer) write reviews that make people happy, that validate their preexisting opinions.

    If they did those things, I wouldn’t read the site so regularly, download the podcast or be a member.  

    As long as they are true to themselves and fun to listen to, I want them to pick books that are underdogs, or that I won’t like, or are actively terrible (like X-Men Forever (seriously, I’ve enjoyed Ron’s reviews of this POS more than reviews of many books I actually liked)).  They bear no responsibility to the iFanbase beyond that honesty.

  33. Who cares.

    Some people like some books that some people don’t like.

  34. Like i said, in some cases the distinction is definate. Nobody is upset in a week with a dubious pick

    @Quinn: Ok, be honest… what’s better, The Godfather or Analysis This? The choise is obvious. On some weeks the reviewer’s only responsiblity is as simple as that

  35. @edward: finally someone who loves Analyse This more than the Godfather too.I thought it was just me! We should meet up and discuss our love of that film.Then we can argue about oranges and lemons too. It’ll be great!

  36. @edward-I have never seen the ifanboys claim that the POtW is the ‘best’ book that came out in any given week.  It just seems to be the book that came out that week that they liked the most.  It does not seem that they are measuring each book by some objective standard and then adding up the totals.  It is just about the book that they liked reading the most that week.  It is more about ‘what flavor they liked the most’ than a fully objective test that has been met. 

  37. "It isn’t about bowing down to the religion of "Everything’s subjective!"–a comment that I think gets far too much play on the internet and is used as a cureall to just NOT THINK about why you like or dislike something"

    It is worth noting that, whenever we* do make the week’s pick, we then explain why it was picked in exhaustive detail. Verbally and in writing.

    *Thank Christ Almighty I have never had to make the pick.

  38. i don’t think i have ever said the pick wasn’t the book the ifanboys liked best.

     kobby’s letter addressed the point i was making. by recommending the book they enjoyed the most and a book that may not be of the highest quality (x-men forever); the ifanboy’s are enfluencing an unknown number of people to pick that book up…

    if a film reviewer gave good reviews to a film that sucked and i then went to, paid for and sat though a bad movie because of that i would be pissed off. (i would also think i could perhaps voice an opinion as to why that film and that review weren’t good)

    you have to actually analysis the material you read/listen to/watch or experience before recommanding it to the user

  39. Reviewers can’t be held responsible for consumers’ buying decisions when said consumer isn’t reading the full review and filtering it though their own value system. We explain why we like something and try to showcase its strengths and weaknesses. There’s no deception. Readers have plenty of resources at their disposal to ensure that they make the right reading choices. Even on this site alone. There are usually multiple reviews and discussion to utilize for just that purpose. 

    A review is not a stopping point. It’s a starting point.  

  40. The pick is not a recommendation, though.  It is just what that particular reviewer liked the most on that week.  It isn’t a real critique or even a real review.  It’s an op/ed piece.  As such, it is completely subjective.  Therefore, it must be taken as such.

  41. Well, I’d say it’s definitely a real review.

  42. @MisterJ it’s a real review.. but maybe not a literary critique.

  43. Seriously, if a really eccentric book is choosen do you not expect the user to not to say anything?

    it seems like the ifanboys are very defensive after they pick an obscure book and get some, let’s say, feedback.

    Why write a review if the user should just shrug and say "mmm, ok"

  44. one too many not’s. sorry

  45. @edward what are you looking to accomplish?  Would you rather they not pick the book they liked but the book that happens to have the highest user POTW selections?  Their picking a particular book shouldn’t preclude you from enjoying whatever books you’re normally inclined to enjoy. Also, while I assume there is some sort of iFanboy bump in sales due to the POTW, I’m not sure it’s statistically significant.

  46. OK, that’s enough back and forth arguing.  We’ve been doing the POW for almost a decade, and thousands and thousands of people seem to get it.  We, at iFanboy are content with the explanation and procedures, and they shall continue as previously.

    That is all.

  47. mmm, ok

    Kobby started it

  48. @Josh-I guess that I was meaning along the lines of what I would get from a professional critic.  You guys are more like hearing what a friend has to say.  I guess that there is not much of a difference, except that I pay more attention to the friend group over the professional group.

  49. I see what you’re saying, but I am in fact, a professional critic.  This has been my job for 2 years.  But I’ll take it a as a compliment that it doesn’t seem that way.

  50. Yeah, I certainly meant no offense by it.  And to think, I was intending to defend how you all do the pick.  Whoops.

  51. I know you didn’t, which works out, because I’m not offended.

  52. I’m personally offended that you said you didn’t love us.  Why, oh why, did I send all those flowers….