The iFanboy Letter Column – 11/07/2008!

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means you have to spend the next 48 or so hours with your horrible horrible family, begging to go back to the sweet mind numbing sanctum of the corporate office. For others, Friday is the day you breathe in a bunch of weird shit from the paint stripping you did when you take out the trash and hope you don’t get lung disease.

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 bought all the issues of Gotham Underground throughout the summer and I was super busy over the summer taking classes and working and stuff, knowing that in September I would have time to read them, and guess what, I just finished reading them. I felt the same way about it that I did with Civil War — some awesome issues, some issues that didn’t need to be there, and the ending resolved nothing for me and left me kind of angry and wondering what was happening. I was wondering if any parts of the series have been tied up in any other series or if there are plans to tie it up, because I thought the idea was really cool but I don’t feel like I got all I wanted out of the ending.

Second, I was at my shop the other day and saw a comic called Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, and I said to myself, boy that sounds like it could be totally awesome, if it were called Spider-Man Loves Black Cat, because a Spider-Man that loves Mary Jane, a.k.a Yoko Ono, is a Spider-Man who is not nearly as awesome as a Spider-Man that loves Black Cat.

John K. from Boston, MA

Gotham Underground seems to have been a mini-series that confused a bunch of people because I have read the complaint that “nothing happened” in many places.

For me, it was a successful comic book in that it was a fun and enjoyable read that set out what it intended to do which was establish who the players in the Gotham City criminal underworld were. Not the crazy villains, your Two-Faces or your Jokers, but the mafias and the criminal organizations. In Gotham Underground, new players moved in and after some bloody fighting ensued, the new criminal status quo in Gotham was set. It seems to be that that was the story that they were setting out to tell and that’s what they did.

As for whether or not Gotham Underground was tied up anywhere else, well there isn’t anything to tie-up, really. The new status quo was set and some of the criminal organizations have popped up here and there in the other Batbooks, but they haven’t been the focus since everything is tied into “Batman R.I.P.” right now.

As for the latter portion of your e-mail, while I realize it was your intention to make a funny joke, in all seriousness I just finished reading Sean McKeever’s run on Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane and I just totally fell for it. It is officially one of my favorite reads of the last few years. McKeever did a fantastic job capturing the utter whirlwind that is teenage life where every romance (or even possible romance) is felt with the intensity of a million burning suns. It’s one of those works that so captures the teenage life that it brings you right back. Any time a piece of art can make you feel genuine emotions — for good or for bad — then it’s done its job.

I love that series so much that I won’t even touch the new run by Terry Moore. I respect the hell out of Moore but I found McKeever’s series so perfect that I want to leave it as is in my mind.


So, so good.

Conor Kilpatrick


After a few Picks of the Week spotlighting Geoff Johns, I think I need to start reading something by him. But where to start? On the whole I’m a Marvel and indie reader, but I’m in need of some good new trades. Which hero(es) and what trade? Flash, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps or another?

Janna From Boulder, CO

It’s funny, we so often get the “where should I start with whatever random character?” but I don’t think I’ve gotten the creator version that often. Weird. Luckily, this is just how I think. I am of the mind to follow a creator with much more tenacity than I do any given character.

Geoff Johns is an interesting case. He does a ton of work, and I find it hard to point out what it is exactly that is so good about it. He’s entirely without flashiness. His work is almost blue-collar in its execution. It does the job, and a lot of times, you don’t notice how well the job is done while you’re reading it. Johns’ work is elegant in that way, and he gets better every day. I think he is the DC answer to Brian Michael Bendis, but perhaps even more important to the publisher, since DC doesn’t have a Brubaker of their own. To complete the metaphor, I think Grant Morrison is the DC equivalent to Marvel’s Mark Millar.

Johns also seems to have a book coming out every week, and has for several years now. That sort of prolific output makes it difficult to pick a starting point. But personally, I find that when I try to go way back and start from the beginning, I… A) find earlier work that isn’t quite as good, or B) get disheartened by the amount of work I’d have to acquire and read before feeling like I’ve got it all under my belt. So I suggest you start out with some of the things Johns is doing right now, and if you use that all up and enjoy it, start working backwards.

For my money, Johns is doing his best work on Green Lantern. To get on board with that, there are only a few things to get. Check out Green Lantern: Rebirth, where Johns brought back Hal Jordan and his true position as the real Green Lantern. After that, you can skip ahead to the “Sinestro Corps War” which I believe is only two volumes total. From there, you can read the recent Secret Origin, soon to be released next month. You could also try to track down the issues.

If those are going good for you, try out the most recent Justice Society of America, where Johns really pulled me in, which was completely unexpected.

Finally, if you’re just unable to get enough, go and start reading the work Johns and James Robinson are doing in Action Comics and Superman, respectively. You can start with the New Krypton Special that just came out a couple weeks ago, and follow along with all of us. They issues are numbered so you know what order they go in. Johns’ first issue of Action Comics in the crossover haven’t come out yet.

The fact is, I could go on and on about this. He’s done a ton of work. I didn’t even mention his epic run on The Flash, or the beautiful collaboration that was 52. I’m sure people in the comments below will also have their own favorites. You almost can’t go wrong, so have fun

Josh Flanagan


  1. I enjoyed Gotham Underground a lot

  2. I would recommend that you do not start with Infinite Crisis, as you must be versed in multiple eras of DC continuity.

  3. That’s probably a fair point UncleBob, but I read Infinite Crisis early in my DCU reading, and I waded through it pretty well.

  4. Infinite Crisis was actually the first Johns book I ever read. I enjoyed it although that’s probably because I like finding out things about universes.

  5. I was much less confused by Infinite Crisis as I was Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Even so, no, I wouldn’t start with that.

  6. I read Infinite Crisis before I started reading other DC books a while back.  Wow…I didn’t know what the hell was going on.  I figured I would give it another go now because I have a better grasp of what the DCU is like and I know far more of the secondary characters now then I did before.

    I would also read Johns’ Flash run.  I recently read the Crossfire trade a few weeks back.  Aside from reminding me of that stupid extreme pinball/foozeball game that I wanted as a child, it made me really get excited about the Flash and Flash:Rebirth.  Solid stuff

  7. That is a good call on Spider-man loves MJ, Conor.  The first run by McKeever and Co. were gold, and ever since then it has been lackluster–not awful–but just not good.  the art is blah and the writing is too, which is surprising because Moore has been writing in that relationship vein for a while.  McKeever was just so great and so was the original Tak/Strain art team.

  8. I think Action Comics has actually become Johns’ best book.  Especially since Gary Frank came on the book, for my money there’s not a better comic out there.  The Legion arc with Frank was tremendous, then the Brainiac arc was even better– just incredible, and now New Krypton looks like it’ll be even better still.

    And, heaven help me, I simply can’t wait for Flash: Rebirth.

  9. Ron doesn’t love us.

     Jus’ sayin’.


  10. Well I’m pretty new to comics and only really know the orgins of the big heroes (batman, superman, spiderman, etc).  That being said I think Sinestro Corps War was very accesible for a newbie.  Granted I intially had no idea who the Anti-Monitor was or who Cyborg Superman was but that was an insignificant roadblock.  I think its a credit to Johns’ story telling ability that I was able to enjoy the story with my limited knowlede  of the DCU.  Anyways loved that story arc and think its a great jumping on point.

  11. My recommendations for Geoff Johns would include the first few trades of Teen Titans and the JSA Presents Power Girl. Both are a ton of fun to read and while each has characters that have a ton of history, you don’t have to know it to enjoy it. And if anyone out there really love the JSA series, I also have to recommend the JSA Presents Stars and S.T.I.P.E books. Those are also all about legacy characters and has some really great moments in there with Starman (jack knight) as well as other members of the JSA.

  12. @John K. from Boston – check out the Final Crisis tie-in, Rogues Revenge, which just concluded. Some lackeys from Gotham Underground show up and get slaughtered by the true Rogues. A lot of people enjoyed it, as did I. It might make you feel better for having read GU.

  13. Booster Gold, anyone? It’s a bit into continuity a little bit, but it’s really, really good. Also applicable: The old JSA that started with Robinson/Goyer, then went to Johns/Goyer, then went exclusively to Johns. Well traded.

    He also orked with Goyer on a one-shot called "JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice," which was possibly my first experience with him and was awesome. And looking at my shelf I see he also did a great 45-ish issue run on Teen Titans which was brilliant.

  14. jsa is sooo sooo god damn good.

  15. I stumbled across an old Geoff Johns story a while back. Does anybody remember the <a href=>Day of Judgement</a> crossover from late ’99? It deals with The Specture being without a host now that Jim Corrigan has gone to heaven, and ultimately has Hal Jordan fill in that role. I was pretty surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

  16. Geoff Johns is the most understated comics writer working today, for me. Everything he writes is great and really enjoyable but it isn’t until I stop and think of how much stuff he has written and how it has all been of such high quality that I really realize he is a genius. I haven’t got around to Action Comics yet, but JSA and Green Lantern are both more than worth a look.

    Oh, and I loved Gotham Underground. I know that John probably didn’t mention Civil War to compare the scale of the two stories, but they were just nowhere in the same realm. GU was looking at Gotham minus the super prefix. With that it did a really good job. 

  17. I’m with you Conor.  I read the first two issues of Moore’s SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE and it wasn’t the book I had loved when Mckeever was on it.  It was the combination of his writing and the really fantastic art of Takeshi Miyazawa that I loved.

  18. I’d stay as far away as possible from green lantern:rebirth. it’s confusing and has bad art. I’m not a dc fanboy, heard about it, bought it, and hated it.

    The only Johns stuff I have is Teen Titans, and it is very good.

  19. John’s flash run is great rogue war especially

  20. Just chiming in on question #2:

    Josh’s Johns/Bendis analogy is good. Although I am a Marvel partisan, Johns has almost single-handedly served as an architect and revivalist of the DC Universe. He is certainly more important to DC than Bendis is to Marvel, as Marvel has a large number of excellent writers. As an aside, it could be argued that much of Bendis’s best work has been outside of Marvel.

    Not sure I agree that Millar and Morrison are analogues. Although Millar has done some solid work in recent years (including the very good Wolverine run), he is a pretty mainstream comic writer. Morrison is exceptional in that he is quite willing to turn any superhero book into a surrealistic treatise on the nature of comic book reality. Sometimes the experiments are good, but sometimes they are off-putting (I’m not as sold on Doom Patrol as some).

    With regards to Johns recommendations, I would certainly start with Green Lantern: Rebirth. I am not a long-time reader of GL, but the book explained everything. The art is also fantastic. I recently picked up the first JSA trade (released two weeks ago). It was fantastic. While it would help to understand the Earth 1/Earth 2 merge from Infinite Crisis to put these characters in context with the DCU, the book stands beautifully on its own.

    As to Infinite Crisis, I have strong feelings about this, having just re-read Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis on a recent cross-country plane ride. Infinite Crisis was much better at the second read, and it really benefits from a little contextual knowledge. However, the characterizations, including the two Supermans, dickhead Superboy, black t-shirt Superboy, Batman, and Nightwing, among others, are just great. And the Joker/Luthor scene at the end justify the whole book (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, do NOT skip ahead).

    $0.02 on a gloomy Saturday.

  21. I’m not talking about Morrison and Millar’s respective styles, but rather their place, almost economically in the greater structure of the two companies.  They both sell a lot of books based on their names, for different reasons.  But neither of them really operate within continuity either.  I’m also talking about their current status, not the past, where they were quite different.

  22. I think Johns might be DC’s equivalent to Bendis AND Brubaker.  Like Bendis, he’s involved in at least 3-4 different books at any given moment.  Like Brubaker, he also manages to take lesser known or lesser liked characters of the moment (C-listers in the JSA or Iron Fist/Mr. Fear/Skull’s gang) and turns them into something that people really appreciate and enjoy.  Also, I think Morrison and Millar are both similar in the high-concept stories and books where they just jump in and start telling stories regardless of the narrative of before and nobody’s bothered by it.

  23. Good points to both Josh and Tork.

  24. I was just wondering about one of the things i feel was left over from the gotham undergound arc. wo the hell is viglante? im not sure i have seen him since and thought he would be a great character and someone already with ties to the bat family. was he left behind due to R.IP as i have heard he was getting his own mini or ongoing. does anyone know who he is.

    I havent read spiderman loves mary jane but may well pick iot up and anything that Johns writes is gold, even infinite crisis which gets a lot more stick than it should

  25. "And if anyone out there really love the JSA series, I also have to recommend the JSA Presents Stars and S.T.I.P.E books."


    …in which teenaged Courtney Whitmore fights evil, side-by-side with the armour clad lead singer of REM

    <heh heh> 

  26. @coltrane68….."dickhead superboy"   loved it

    Infinite Crisis isn’t really that bad to get into because within the story there are several recaps which pretty much sum up the occurences of Crisis on infinte earths.

    I’m a Marvel zombie but loved the total package of Infinite Crisis and consider it one of Johns’ finest works.

    @ gwiz agree the story was kinda convoluted but the art was EXCEPTIONAL