The iFanboy Letter Column – 10/09/2009

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 to spend what little money you have left on scratch off lottery tickets.

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

 


My buddy and I have been in a constant back and forth debate over Grant Morrison’s recent Final Crisis. My friend does not think that the series holds merit and that Batman’s demise was “cheap and insulting” because he was killed by a — and these are his words, not mine — “no name, C-list Superman villain.” I find it difficult to debate with someone who doesn’t understand the character we’re discussing, and the magnitude of the threat he poses. Can you help me out and recommend some stories that capture Darkseid’s danger on a grand scale? I’ve shown him the Justice League and JLU cartoons, which he enjoys, but they don’t fully reflect Darkseid’s power.

Andrew (Doski) from Boston, Massachusetts

Your buddy is definitely wrong because not only is Darkseid a badass villain, it could be argued that Darkseid is the badass villain in the entire DC Universe. No one trumps Darkseid; he’s the giant cosmic level threat. It’s not like Darkseid enters a scene and then they could have someone else come into the scene afterwards to raise the stakes. Darkseid is the stakes.

It’s tough to pick out stories where the full scope of Darkseid’s danger is well represented because as a villain, he is ultimately doomed to failure. Inevitably, the heroes must win. But I do have a couple of Darkseid stories that I love a lot.

First would be the obvious choice that you already mentioned: Final Crisis. That story would be the first time we’ve really seen Darkseid win. He subjugated the people of Earth and brought us beneath his tyrannical boot heel. It was a pretty scary and bleak look at a world when Darkseid wins and if that doesn’t make clear the full danger of Darkseid to your friend than I don’t know what will. Keep in mind that the Darkseid in Final Crisis wasn’t even a fully powered Darkseid. He was a shell of his former self, having suffered badly in his war with the denizens of New Genesis. He wasn’t even in his old body. If a decrepit and dying Darkseid could wreck so much havoc then a full strength Darkseid would be pretty scary indeed.

Another of my favorite Darkseid stories is Legends, which was the first big event in the post-Crisis DC Universe. That story really showcased Darkseid’s diabolical side when, instead of relying on brute force to take down the heroes, he turned public opinion against them by sending his agents to Earth undercover to drum up public sentiment against costumed heroes. Darkseid hoped to soften them up so when his Para-Demons did finally invade they’d have an easier time against heroes in disarray.

Possibly my favorite Darkseid story was the “Rock of Ages” arc in Grant Morrison’s JLA. You can tell that this story has been on Morrison’s mind for a while because it covers some of the same ground that Final Crisis does. In this one, 15 years in the future Darkseid has finally conquered Earth and a small band of ragtag Justice Leaguers band together to take him down.

I’ve never thought of Darkseid as a Superman villain. Perhaps your friend thinks of him that way because of the cartoons? The reason he featured so heavily in Superman: The Animated Series was because they needed a threat big enough to take on the Man of Steel. But in the comics he has almost always been a universe-wide threat, and someone who, when you see that he has arrived, you know that shit just got real.

Conor Kilpatrick


I was wondering if Marvel had any classic stories on par with Batman: Year One, All Star Superman or Green Lantern/Green Arrow? I’m not looking for long stories like Bendis’ run on Daredevil or an Amazing Spider-Man omnibus, just a few trade paperback volumes that are worth reading.

Randall (RandoCalrissian)

Of course there are classic Marvel stories! And I didn’t even have to look them up!

You’re not wrong that there seem to be more long runs of comics that get identified by numbers of issues and the creators involved, but there is no shortage of stories you can read in one or two trade volumes. I’ll give you some of my favorites.

When it comes to defining modern superhero comics, before there was his Dark Knight Returns or Moore’s Watchmen, Frank Miller put Daredevil on the map with his stories of Bullseye and Elektra. The stories are mostly contained in the the three volumes of Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller trades.  There was also an Omnibus, but I think it’s out of print already.

You could also check out Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson for Walt’s classic Beta Ray Bill story. I think it continues for a couple more volumes, but if you like the first one, it’s worth it. Okay, this is probably more of a run, but still, it’s classic, and excellent.

If we’re coming to more modern stuff, it’s hard to beat Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung’s Young Avengers. The one volume hardcover collects it all, and it’s one of my favorite Marvel stories in years.

Going back again, you can’t miss Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle, defining Tony Stark as an alcoholic. This made that character.

What about Marvels? Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross tell the start of the Marvel Universe? Do it!

You want classic Avengers tales? Check out the “Kree/Skrull War” from way back. This was the story that made Secret Invasion possible, and was somewhat responsible for the events and crossovers that we have today.

I could go on and on. Like what about The Infinity Gauntlet? You get the point. Anyway, that should do you for the next couple paychecks. And I’m sure the folks below will give you some more suggestions as well.

We’ll keep you reading for years, Randall!

Josh Flanagan


I’m a huge X-Men fan, much like Ron, but I fall on the other side of the fence than Ron. I’m a huge Storm fan. To me, she has always been THE ultimate leader of the X-Men. This could be due to the fact that I started reading X-Men somewhere around “Mutant Massacre”. During this time in the ’80s, Claremont knew Storm in and out and she kicked ass. Recently, I’ve been missing the Storm that I love. I’ve read Black Panther, her minis, Uncanny, and Forever, but still feel that she’s not getting her due in any of these books. 

Do you guys know of any upcoming projects besides Ellis & Jimenez’s upcoming Astonishing that might give her a chance to shine?

Also, what are your thoughts on this character?

Eric (zattaric)

I’m always fascinated about how we get e-mails from all of you that mirror conversations I have offline. It’s like there’s some sort of cosmic conversation wave that goes around the world and guides us all to discuss similar topics around the same. But I digress..

Storm has been a bit, (how do I say it nicely?) ineffectual of late. In the pantheon of X-Men characters, Storm is, despite my personal opinion, one of the top 5. As a member of the All-New, All-Different X-Men team introduced in Giant Sized X-Men #1 in the 1970s, Storm has been a keystone in the X-Men stories for over 20 years. From her change from African Goddess to fiesty mohawk’d punk, from her romance with Forge to her partnership with Gambit, from being de-aged to a teen to leading the Morlocks and the X-Men, you cannot deny the long term importance of the character. Personally, she’s not my favorite. Her powers are cool, but I always found myself not really connecting with her. Perhaps it was her distant “Goddess” persona I could never relate to, or maybe it’s just because she beat Cyclops in Uncanny X-Men #201, but I’ve never been a huge fan of her.

Since I’m not a huge fan, I really haven’t shed a tear over how the character has been handled over the past 5 years, mainly because it’s meant that she’s been out of the X-books, which was fine by me. At the end of the day, I think the marriage to Black Panther was a bad idea. It all just felt forced, and while I can see it being a way to bring her back to her African roots, it just doesn’t sit well with me and now whenever she actually shows up in the X-Men books, I’m wondering how the heck she’s there and shouldn’t she be in Wakanda? Every time. Now she’s been written into the team on Astonishing X-Men, but again you can feel the division between her and the X-Men, she’s no longer “one of them” and is now an outsider, which could possibly give us some new, good stories with a fresh perspective, but sadly that hasn’t occurred yet, and in all honestly probably won’t.

It sounds as if you’ve read most of the books Storm has been in recently, but if you missed it, you might want to pick up the issues of Fantastic Four where Storm was a member while filling in for the Invisible Woman. That story played out in Fantastic Four #543 through #557 and could be some fun, different Storm stories as she interacted with The Thing and The Human Torch.

Ron Richards

Comments

  1. Cosmic Odyssey and The Great Darkness Saga (Legion of Super-Heroes) are also really good Darkseid stories. 

  2. I am surprised by the lack of  Whedon/Casaday’s Astonishing X-men name, which is what everybody recommends me every time I utter "Marvel". I am a liitle apprehensive after Whedon’s horrible run on Runways.

    Which reminds me BKV’s Runaways. Amazing book and great counter-point to Heinberg’s Young Avengers.

  3. Oh, Ultimates 1 & 2. IMO that is the DKR for Marvel. Its not a extraordinary story, but its a visual master piece.

  4. Conor and Andrew, there are great Darkseid stories in both of the Orion solo series that ran for, probably, a total of 40 issues. You may have to search a con to find them though since I do not think they were collected. The Death of the New Gods gives you a good purview of Darkseid’s schemes and plans (and it leads directly into Final Crisis).

  5. Whedon’s run on Runaways was an anomaly. His Astonishing is amazing.

  6. @mudd Could not disagree more that DKR is not a great story. It is one of Batman’s defining stories, the one that gave him the tenacious, unrelenting mystique that he enjoys today.

  7. Oh, man, like Ron, I *hate* that Cyclops story in Uncanny 201.  it was such a horrible way to write him off the team.  *grumbles*  I don’t necessarily hold it against Storm, though.  I always liked her character when she was a core member of the X-Men during the early Claremont years.  Like the issue where evil Emma Frost bodyswaps with her?  i mean, come on that’s awesome.  From the time she got depowered and started going off on vision quests, and got deaged and then paired with Forge, though

    As far as today’s Storm, I feel like the decision to pair her up with Black Panther really hurt the character.  If we’d gotten any classic BP stories out of it, that would be one thing, but from what I’ve heard there really haven’t been.  Meanwhile it’s really kept her from being a part of the X-Men.       

  8. Thanks Josh, those all look great, I’ve got alot of reading ahead of me. Today’s payday, first up is Daredevil Visionaries.

    @muddi900: in my email I listed my favorite current marvel titles to help with more specific recommendations and I’m not really an X-fan. I love and already have Ultimates 1&2, but I’ve never read Runaways. Guess I should add BKV’s run to my list, thanks

  9. "Astonishing X-Men" and "Ultimates 1 & 2" are Marvel’s greatest short runs of this decade.  Astonishing X-men may be Marvel’s greatest story of all time.

  10. Some great letters.  I guess if you have only been exposed to Darkseid through Final Crisis and the cartoon you might not get just how bad it is when he shows up.

  11. Andrew, how did you hold back from slapping your friend across the face when he called Darkseid a "no-name, C-list Superman villian?"  You are a stronger man than I.

  12. @zombox oh I love it, but its more about theatrics than character. It was also about Frank Miller having a free reign on the character. And its probably responsible for the 90’s XXXXXXTREEEEEEME comics. I prefer Year On… wait I am doing it wrong.

    "Hey DKR, I am happy for you and ahma gonna letchyu finish, but Year One is the great Batman stories of all time. ALL TIME!"

  13. What about Age of Apocalypse?  And Onslaught?  And the Clone Saga?  Let’s not forget those classic Marvel storylines!! 🙂

  14. I strongly second the Rock of Ages suggestion for the first letter.  I would also suggest Andrew watch the final episode of JLU.

  15. @Neb I liked Age of Apocalypse. That was, for me, the last time I enjoyed the X-Men until 2001. 😉

    Rock of Ages is one of the best JLA stories and clearly the basis for Final Crisis. It’s a wonderful story with some great moments. "Darkseid is!" 

  16. Oh man, I really disagree with you guys over Uncanny 201. I LOVED how that issue played out. It made such sense–and yet was an upset–for a depowered Storm to beat Cyclops, particularly because of the state Cyke was in at the time. Cyclops had divided loyalties between the team and his budding family life with Maddie and Nate. Cyclops was a very conflicted man at the time, so there’s no way that he COULD or SHOULD have been leading the X-Men. On the other hand, the story cemented Storm’s kick-ass POWER–that she was athletic and crafty enough to wipe the floor with the first leader of the X-Men…even though she had no powers. Think about that: she went on to prove that she could be the LEADER of the mutant X-Men even though she was basically, at the time, a human.

    But I loved, loved, loved everything Claremont did when the character up until 1991. All of the changes he took the character through–beautiful Earth Goddess to tough street-smart punk to spunky kid–were great. Claremont evolved her character more than he did any other X-Man. And despite the changes, you always knew that the core of the character was in tact. Whatever her appearance or abilities, she was always a tower of female power that it was awesome. And how could anyone dislike the Forge stuff when it was told in classic issues like Life-Death?! Oh well, different strokes.

  17. what about the phoenix saga? or the dark phoenix saga? both are relatively short runs….

  18. @flapjaxx  I just hate how everybody completely ignores how Cyclops led them all those years and basically says ‘good riddance.’  *flaily hands*  And I recently read through a lot of 80s X-Men; as soon as I saw there was a solo Storm section, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.  *shudders*

    @greendart  I think there’s great stuff in those Phoenix books but they’re also kind of dated and  a bit chaotic.  They’re probably more comparable to the Wolfman/Perez teen titans than to something self-contained like DKR.  ‘Astonishing X-Men’ is probably a better place to start, and then if you’re interested in the history you can look at the older stuff?  At least that’s how I did it.

  19. @Prax~  I kid, I kid.  In fact, I bought, read, and loved those issues as a kid.  They hold a special place for me….although, they’re just not required Marvel reads.

  20. @ohcaroline Yeah, I didn’t like 201 when I finally read it. However, it did lead into X-Factor, which is one of my favorite comics of all time (And oddly enough, the first issue may have came out the day I was born!). It’s got a pretty solid set of legs under it for more than 100 issues. 

    As for starting with the X-Men… I glommed on to Uncanny X-Men #381 and X-Men (nee New X-Men) #111 and never looked back until X-Men Legacy. 😉 And then I took a leap and started with Uncanny #1 in essentials, back issues and reprints and got up to about 300 before I stopped caring. 

  21. Wow, Darkseid a C level villian? (Don’t tell him that.)

    I do actually think of Darkseid as one of Superman’s villians (but he’s just a big cosmic bad dude period), but mostly because I remember plenty of Darkseid and Superman conflicts. I remember Kirby and Byrne are the ones who’ve put them at heads at lot.  Plus he’s THE villian in the final year of the Superfriends tv show (named The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians).

    You know, I didn’t think at all about Darkseid not being a "Batman villian".  I mean, when Robin is killed, its of course the Joker who does it; because he is THE Batman villian.  I suppose having Darkseid kill Batman says more for the crafting of the story, and less on the maintaining of themes.

  22. Josh, I would also suggest to Randall picking up any of the Loeb/Sale color books from Marvel.  Those have a great sense of the Marvel universe, really gets into the characters, and are just GODAMN BEAUTIFUL.

  23. Glad to see Daredevil Visionaries up there. I just picked those up the other day for only $7! I have loved all the Frank Miller Daredevil stuff I’ve read, so I’m really excited to start reading all of it.

  24. a few somewhat current recommendations-

    Immortal Iron Fist-5 trades 1st three by Brubaker&Fraction art by Aja are amazing and the last 2 by Swierczynski are also great but the previous creators set the bar very high.

    Captain Britain & MI13-3 trades by Cornell and Kirk, a fantastic series that was a lot of fun with a wonderful group of characters done very well, so very unfortunate it got the canceled after 15 + 1 annual.

    Inhumans- 1 trade by Jenkins and Jae Lee, this book has amazing writing with even better art.Personally, it left me in awe of Black Bolt and his Inhumans and how truly powerful they are.

    also Thor Blood Oath, Planet Hulk, and Warren Ellis’ Thunderbolts

    some classics that don’t need an explanation-

    X-Men The Dark Phoenix Saga- 1 trade Claremont & Byrne

    Wolverine Weapon X- 1 trade by Barry Windsor-Smith

    Amazing Spider-Man Kraven’s Last Hunt- 1 trade by Dematteis $ Zeck

  25. I need some more marvel trades so I will be order a few of those. Thanks Josh!

  26. Superman and the JLA animated series is probably the best way to see why Darkseid is a ‘holy shit’ level of a villain. The comics conor mentions is just as great to see how evil he is. But when you see how well they wrote the character and how horrible of a man he was depicted, then you won’t be saying Darkseid is a ‘C-Level’ villain. Hell, I think Darkseid is the first person to kill someone in a DCAU animated series.

    I would like Storm to take over the X-Men again, might be interesting. Then again anyone taking over the douche of the Marvel Universe (Cyclops) at the moment would be an upgrade.

  27. Darkseid/DC Fun Facts:  Jack Kirby created all the 4th World/New Gods including Darkseid, but his series was not well received in the 70’s.

    Then in the early 80’s, they were trying to put together the Superpowers line of DC toys and realized there was a paucity of good DC villains to match up with the heroes.  So they pulled out Jack’s 4th World villains, and voila!  Darkseid was a major DC bad guy.  So they could make toys. However, it worked out in the end.

    Also, that marked one of the only times in Kirby’s career that he got a financial windfall for the use of his creations, and as Jack’s health was failing and his ability to put out pages slowing, that money was essential to his family’s well being.  Behind this class move was DC Comics, specifically Jeannette Kahn and Paul Levitz.

  28. If you can find it anywhere, there was a John Byrne story that he wrote and drew where Darkseid went up against Galactus on Apokolips.  This was back in the mid-90s during a period of time when Marvel and DC were playing nice together.  The book was just okay, but makes a strong case for Darkseid being about as powerful as Galactus when he’s really trying.  The one-shot was called THE HUNGER but it was later collected into DC/MARVEL CROSSOVER CLASSICS v. 4.

  29. Wow.  Josh just blew me away.  Good stuff.  I’m glad to hear Mr. Kirby made some money on those creations.

  30. Wasn’t Darkseid on Superfriends a few times? I vaguely recall him being the only dude who could shoot eye-beams that could Superman, so that always made him seem A-list to me. 

    I think the number of times I’ve mentioned Daredevil: Born Again has probably reached double-digits, but it’s gotta be repeated. Freakin’ classic.

    And if T’Challa could run around being an Avenger and still be king (back when he was), there’s no reason Ororo couldn’t be an X-Man. I do agree that there hasn’t been enough good stories with her lately, but hell, we could probably say the same about Nightcrawler. As usual, the marriage ain’t the problem. 🙂

     

  31. PymSlap (@alaska_nebraska) says:

    @PraxJarvin – DARKSEID IS!

  32. Thanks for the reply, Ron.  I guess I’ll just have to wait patiently for someone to make Storm kick-ass again. 

    re X-Me 201 I remember reading somewhere that it was revealed that Maddie’s nascent powers made the Cyclops vs. Storm duel go Storm’s way.  Apparently, she wanted Scott to leave the X-Men so she could have him all to herself and that’s the reason why a human Storm beat Cyclops.  I never liked this "reinvisioning" because I felt it diminished Storm’s accomplishment, but it migh make some of you Cyclops fans feel better.

  33. You know we were talking about good marvel stories and I didn’t even mention my favoritest(that’s a word now); Planet Hulk. No need to read anything before, or even though it leads into another story, after it.

  34. @josh: Thats really cool.

  35. Reread Whedon’s Runaways, if you aren’t welling up by Chase’s speach in the last scene you have no soul. Yes, it suffered from delays, but Chase’s story was worth it. To quote him "it was ****ing beautiful"

  36. Darkseid’s greatest story was told in the final two episodes of Justice League Unlimited.

    When I was younger, Uncanny X-Men 201 was one of my most hated issues because of the way Cyclops was handled.  LAME.

  37. Ok, Uncanny #186(Life/Death storyline) where Storm loses her powers due to Forge’s creation is a seminal Storm story. I rooted for her to stay an Xman despite no powers and Claremont and Barry windsor Smith knocked it out the park!!

    @Thepunishermax…$7 bucks ?SAWEEET! um where @?

  38. I couldnt find volume 1 of DD visionaries so I bought Demon in a Bottle instead. Wow…that was awesome, loved that Namor kept calling Iron Man "Avenger", reminded me of Batman being called "Detective" by Ra’s and the relationships between those characters