The iFanboy Letter Column – 10/30/2009

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 buy a lot of candy.

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 —


I just read Adventure Comics #1 and really enjoyed it. The co-feature in it was a Legion of Super-Heroes tale. It gave some background to the characters and situations of the Legion and helped me redefine how they currently work. It was great. But, in doing so, it also helped me define Superman in the modern DCU. And it’s different than I remember.

Growing up with the John Byrne version of Superman, I was used to there being no real Supergirl, no Krypto, a sterile Krypton, and Clark never having grown up with Lex Luthor. Over time, I know that most of these elements were reintroduced but I thought one thing remained constant: Superman was never Superboy. Now, it seems, that is no longer the case either.

I’m not complaining. Reintroducing these elements can make for great stories. My question is, now that it seems that Superman was once Superboy, is the current Superman in the DCU exactly the same as the one who was around pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths? Is John Bryne’s mid-80s version of Superman well and truly dead? Literally, the only element that even smacks of his influence is the fact that Martha Kent is still alive and, up to a little while ago, Jonathan Kent was still kicking.

Maybe I’ll just have to wait until Superman: Secret Origin, eh?

Jeff R.

Well now that we are two issues into Superman: Secret Origin, hopefully you’ve got a little better idea as to what is and what isn’t in the current “new” Superman status quo at DC Comics.

We are similar, Jeff, in that while I read tons of Silver Age books as a kid, the Superman I grew up with was the John Byrne version of Superman. He was rebooted when I was 10 years old and that’s the time of your life when your heroes are imprinted on your brain… and on your heart. Of course, at the time we also had the Christopher Reeve Superman who was just as, if not more, important to me as the comic book version. So even as a little kid I understood that there are different ways to portray a character and the details aren’t necessarily as important as the essence.

Has John Byrne’s Superman been completely obliterated? No, not entirely. Many of the superficial elements are gone and we’ve reverted back mostly to the Silver Age identifiers: the brightly colored society on Krypton, Lex Luthor growing up in Smallville, Clark being Superboy. But the current Superman is definitely not the Pre-Crisis Superman and that much is very apparent from every appearance that Pre-Crisis Supes has made since he was brought back into continuity in Infinite Crisis. One of the most important things that John Byrne did was de-power Superman and re-emphasize his humanity. People talk about Superman being boring because of his godlike power, but those people have either never read Pre-Crisis Superman, or have only read Pre-Crisis Superman. Now that guy was godlike — his power level was ridiculous! There was nothing he couldn’t do, and do easily. The most important thing that John Byrne did was bring Superman’s power level back down to Earth a little bit. He was still the most powerful person around, but not by such a wide margin. That much remains in the current character.

John Byrne’s version of Superman had a good run — it lasted for nearly 20 years. In this day and age of near constant retcons that’s a feat worthy of Superman himself.

Conor Kilpatrick

I know you get questions about Green Lantern all the time but I’ve got one a little different. I’m trying to read the trades for both Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. I know that the storylines from both books happen at the same time but I’m unsure about the order in which to read them. Can you guys help me out or point me into the right direction? I don’t want to just read Rebirth, Sinestro Corps Wars, and Secret Origin to get ready for Blackest Night. I want to try to read everything.

Here’s another question. I was listening to the podcast right after the Disney/Marvel merger and the DC Universe news. I heard Josh say that it would be a bad time to open up a new comic book store. I was wondering if he could explain a little more what he meant. We all know that comic book stores don’t usually survive anyway, I was wondering why this news would make it even worse.

Randy (Aqualeo)

It is indeed, a “What Green Lantern should I read?” question. I’ll admit that, at first, I threw a hissy fit, and cursed your black, black name, Randy. (Black like a pirate, not like a race thing. Oh, that’s not good…) At first, I was just gonna say, “Hey! Why don’t you just type the damn thing into Google and leave me alone, you ingrate!” But I’m not that guy, or at least the therapist says I shouldn’t be, so let’s do some simple math. There are 41 issues of Green Lantern Corps (Don’t say it like Ron does. It’s uncouth). There are 47 issues of Green Lantern. So, it seems like you could start reading the first GLC trade after you read Volume 1, “No Fear”, collecting the first arc of the regular Green Lantern title, right? And at the rate DC releases trades, they might even be available for purchase now. Or in a year or so. That last part was a joke.

Regarding opening a comic store, what I meant is that the distribution system on which comic shops operate is a bit rickety. If there were big changes in the industry, and Marvel or DC decided to pull out of Diamond, then first off, Diamond is in trouble, and secondly the direct market is in trouble. If Disney owns Marvel, and they decide they want to use their publishing strength to get Marvel books into other venues where they think they can sell more, it could squeeze out Diamond and retailers. The same could conceivably happen with Warner Bros. and DC. It’s not that I think this is necessarily going to happen, but things are up in the air right now, and the economy still kind of sucks, and a comic shop is a tight margin business to begin with. But, the fact is, if you’re looking to start a comic shop, you need to stop listening to what I’m saying right now, because there are much better sources of information out there than me. But I suspect that things will change significantly between the Marvel acquisition and however digital comic distribution ends up shaking out. It’ll be all the regular retailers can do to hang on to their businesses. Inform yourself if you’re thinking of opening a shop. And say your prayers.

Josh Flanagan



  1. I’m plowing through my Green Lantern homework in time for the final myself, and take it from me: Google is not as helpful in this case as you might think. And as for… well.

    I may be out of line among diehards, but having recently finished the Sinestro Corps Wars I’m going to go ahead and suggest you can skip Green Lantern Corps entirely and never know the difference.

    The book that comes out after Sinestro Corps War is Agent Orange, and I believe that won’t be out for another month. I had some scrounging to do for someone who really wanted to spend money. It’s semi-ridiculous.

  2. Hey, thanks for taking my e-mail, Conor.  I was worried back when I first heard that Clark was going to be Superboy in-continuity again, but after reading those first two issues of SECRET ORIGINS, I’m feeling much better about it.

    You’re right about Byrne’s run.  I know that Denny O’Neil tried to de-power Superman with his Kryptonite Nevermore storyline in the ’70s, but I don’t believe it took.  Byrne’s kept that element going for a while.  As much as I love the silver age Superman world (and believe me, I do love it), it certainly doesn’t feel the same as the modern stuff even with similar plot elements.  If I’m remembering correctly, Byrne was also the first to emphasize the competitive relationship between Lois and Clark, but that bit of plotline has been removed for a different reason.  That reason is marriage.

    Like I said in my e-mail, I’m not complaining about any of this.  I just find it interesting to examine a character with as much history as Superman to see where he’s come from and to understand the influences of his current writers. 

    And nice picture choice.  Byrne, along with Dan Jurgens, is among my favorite Superman artists probably because that’s what I grew up with.

  3. I’ve always been interested in Green Lantern, but have never known where to actually start. If only the ifanboys could give us an answer 🙁

  4. thanks for answring my questions guys…

    to jimski… i’ve tried to use google a lot and it never helped.. or when they do have a few lists they are always in different orders so i never know which one to believe…

  5. I liked it when Green Lantern was unemployed and lived in a truck.

  6. @Jimski – I believe that two volumes after Sinestro Corps War are out.  They’re Rage of the Red Lanterns (collecting issues #26-28 & #36-38) and Secret Origin (collecting issues #29-35).  Agent Orange collects #39-42.

    I actually pulled all of this from Hal Jordan’s Wikipedia page. 

  7. Superman, tho not as God-like as he was before, is still God-like. Who in Marvel beats him? Conceivably there is anoither God-like being in DC that could, but really, not many. And those that can, only could because of the "magic" thing that seems to have a huge effect, or none at all, depending on the story. And dont get me started on that old chestnut of a plot device known as Kryptonite. Didnt him and Bats get rid of it all anyways.

  8. @jeffr: no no, you’re right! That is absolutely true. I forgot the red one because I got through it so quickly and skipped Secret Origin.

  9. don’t forget the Green Lantern Corps: Recharge Mini series written by Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons. that took place before the officail GLC series began but started right after GL: Rebirth

  10. @Aqualeo
    I’d say to see what issue of GLC is 1st in Sinestro Corps War (GL & GLC are both in that, making it 2 volumes running issues chronologically). I just did, because I realized the book was like 5 feet away from me, and GL is on #21, GLC is on #14; from there, doing a little fuzzy math, I’d say you’ve got Rebirth 1st (it’s not in the regular series numbering; i.e. after rebirth is issue #1) then the 1st trade: No Fear. From there, I know see from going to Wikipedia, the next Hal Jordan trade is in fact the 1st GLC trade: Green Lantern Corps: Recharge. At this point, you can go in alternating shifts if you please, but the two are a bit seperated; I don’t think one issue of GLC will reveal something that you’ve yet to read in GL or vice versa, because GLC focuses on all the GLs that aren’t Hal. Furthermore, just because you don’t read them in precise order, doesn’t mean that you don’t absorb the knowledge and impact. In fact, sometimes reading things out of order makes you your very own Quentin Tarantino!

  11. But Secret Origin was one of the best stories out of this whole thing.  You shouldn’t skip that. I also plays into the overall story very much.  It starts the Red Lantern Rage I believe.


    I had another iFnaboy fellow compile a list of all the GL trades I needed to get caught up and he posted it in the comments section for that issue of Superman with MonEl.  I never got past volume three but I’ve been considerably broke as of late.  Plus I’ve been reading a lot more Fables and Walking Dead too!

  13. You might not need to read GL for continuity purposes, but you might want to check it out because its actually good. In fact, while the issues between Rebirth and SCW were boring, GLC was consistently good. And no nothing spoils anything from the other book. So you can read whatever you like first.


    And yes, following Sinestro Corps War with Secret Origins is the most brilliant idea ever. Its like they saw  High Fidelity and wen, "Hmm, how would this apply to comics?"



    Action #775.

  14. Josh, were you intentionally referencing Black Randy and the Metro Squad?

  15. I have no idea what that means, so no.

  16. My favorite Superman stories have a all-powerful Superman (All Star and Red Son).

  17. Unoob: In DC, Captain Marvel could take Superman. In Marvel, the Sentry (obviously) or Thor (see JLA/Avengers) could take Superman. Who actually wins, of course, depends on who’s writing the comic.

    As for the whole GL thing, it’s kind of disturbing how much better the GL events are if you’ve actually read from Rebirth/Recharge onward. Not that you can’t just skip around, but Johns forshadows so much that it’s totally worthwhile to read everything. Gibbons and Tomasi also have some good stories in GLC that make it, at times, better than GL.


  18. John Byrne’s original Man of Steel mini-series is the only Superman comic I have ever liked. 

  19. Word of advice:

    I would skip the GLC trades up until Tomasi comes on board. Cause the stuff before him is pretty much medicore and/or uneventful.

  20. I have’net caught up completely on the pre-Tomasi GLC, but Dave Gibbons kicked ass on the first 2 trades.

  21. Good advice why it might not be a good idea to open a comic shop these days. I’m not sure, however, that there have been ANY rumblings about Marvel or DC pulling out of Diamond, though. All your other info is right on target, and in general things really are "up in the air" as you say, but on the point of Diamond: While it’s true that either Marvel or DC pulling out would basically kill the current system in a heartbeat–because comic shops would be scrambling to deal with the change and deal with a new distributor (like they did in the ’90s when Marvel opted for Heroes World)–that scenario is just not in the cards. Marvel or DC pulling out of Diamond is like the one thing you DON’T have to worry about, from what I know.

  22. Disney has a lot of pull, and if they wanted to work some exclusive deals with different retailers outside of the direct market system, it could happen.  It could also happen with DC, but Paul Levitz was very much responsible for the current shape of the direct market, so it was unlikely that would happen.  Until recently that is.

    It’s all up in the air, and none of the old rules necessarily apply.  

  23. @Randy (Aqualeo)

    IGN also did a great Blackest Night write up for those folks unfamilar with the Green Lantern backstory like myself.  It also has a series of books they recommend in addition to what our iFanboys have listed.  The article can be found here