The iFanboy Letter Column – 11/14/2008!

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 get down to business.

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 –


The other day I found some old issues at my comic shop of Silver Surfer. I believe it was the storyline where Galactus ends up fighting the In-Betweener. It got me thinking to the heavy use of Galactus in many different series, such as Nova a couple issues back or once in awhile in the Fantastic Four or even in the myriad of Marvel crossovers such as Infinity Gauntlet. My question is this: When is a character (in any comic realm) considered to be used too much and what could possibly be the negative aspects of using a character way too much in the medium?

Also I have a quick additional question: Who would win in an all out battle between Darkseid and Thanos? My roommate and I had an intense discussion over this.

Barry S. (BladesofJustice) from Tuskegee, AL

I totally forgot about the In-Betweener! I totally remember that issue and probably one of the worst, most out of character covers and use of Galactus. Galactus is best used when he’s just this big, brooding force that doesn’t really interact with anyone, much less punch them. When he waves his hand, it should freak you out, because you don’t know what he’s doing or thinking. But you definitely bring up a good point about the over use of a character, which is something that publishers like Marvel and DC have to be careful about and have definitely overused characters, mainly in the 1980s.

Wolverine was the first obvious example, after his popularity rose in the 1980s, he was in every freaking book. The Punisher soon followed, then Venom and then we had the 1990s and pretty much every character got overexposed, apparently including Galactus. But the thing is, what’s the use of having a character without using it in stories? If the story is compelling and well written enough, then using any character should be fine. But it’s a slippery slope in that you run the risk of taking what made that character special and losing it by using him or her too much. I don’t think there is any hard and fast rule about using a character, like they can only appear three times in a year or whatever. From your example, yes Galactus was used in Nova, as well as Marvel: 1985, but I thought those were excellent uses, and I don’t think the big purple guy is overexposed at all and the stories were better for having him involved.

To answer your question about Darkseid vs. Thanos. As much as I like Thanos and what he brings to the table, I have to give the edge to Darkseid. Both are pretty badass, but I have a gut feeling that Darkseid is a little more ruthless and Thanos is a little too sloppy or able to fall to emotions or carelessness. Plus, and while I don’t have the data to back this up, but I think that Darkseid is more powerful than Thanos, unless we’re talking Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet, because then he’d have a better chance of standing toe to toe with Darkseid. But even then, I give a slight advantage to Darkseid.

Ron Richards


I’ve always thought that the recap pages at the beginning of Marvel’s comics are very helpful. Most times, I can dive right into an issue, even when it’s in the middle of a story arc. However, DC Comics does not think it’s necessary to use recap pages. I’ve heard that their logic goes something like this: if a story is well-told, it doesn’t need any sort of primer going into it.

But if so many fanboys like me are clamoring for recap pages in DC comics, doesn’t it mean that many of their stories are not well told? Otherwise, we’d understand the stories and we wouldn’t ask for recap pages.

Joe M. (tigermojoe) from Lindenwold, NJ

Ah, the recap page. It is one of the great innovations of comics in the last decade or so, and in the case of Marvel, I understand that it was the product of the often maligned Bill Jemas, in an effort to make the books new reader friendly, which obviously makes sense. As to why DC doesn’t do they as well, the reasons are probably multiple. There’s a page they’re not devoting to an ad, so they’re losing money in a sense. There’s also the rivalry between DC and Marvel. I’m not sure how strong it is these days, but certain things hold strong, and since so much power at these companies is concentrated within so few people, I’d imagine, there’s some human grudge holding that doesn’t allow DC to move forward with recaps. “If Marvel did it first, and we’re not doing it, it’s because it’s a bad idea, and good comics don’t need recaps,” is a speculative reason. And people stick to those guys just from plain old stubbornness. Is that the real reason? I have no idea.

However, if I really think about those recap pages, I’m surprised to realize that I don’t actually look at them that often. Every once in a while, if it’s been a long time, I might look, but for the most part, I skip those recap pages because I want to get right to the story, where I’ll pick it up as I go. Of course, this is what I did with comics for a long time before Jemas came along. So when it comes to DC books, I usually don’t miss it. I guess it’s a luxury of sorts. But to me, I guess I agree that a well written monthly book shouldn’t need a recap. There are ways to do things that aren’t as obvious as the Marvel recap page, or the old expository way of exclaiming everything out loud. I’m thinking of Checkmate, who put their ever changing lineup and positions at the beginnings of all the issues.

The fact is, if you’re writing for a monthly format, you need to keep that in mind as a writer, and I can see some value in making sure your writers don’t have the recap page to fall back on. On the other hand, if the eventual collected version of the story and its complete integrity are more important to you than taking a little effort keeping people up to speed, that option exists also. 100 Bullets is an example of this, where more than a few people, myself included, have given up completely on the monthly issues. Yet the people who read the trades swear it’s excellent. At the very least, you’ve always got Wikipedia to keep you up to speed, should the need arise.

Josh Flanagan

I’ve been sneak reading the new JSA run in my office and have almost caught up. (I got issues 1-15 for a buck a piece from my local comic shop. NICE!) I started reading it since you guys were always talking about it with such enthusiasm, and I’m so glad I did! Is this the best run of the JSA to date? I noticed that there were a few runs done on it in the past that didn’t last. What went wrong with those and do you think this one is here to stay?

Rick H. (MadMartigan)

I love the Justice Society of America! I’m always happy to see more people reading their books.

This current series, Justice Society of America, is the third series starring the World War II heroes that I’ve collected since 1990, and the second written by Geoff Johns. Is it the best? Yeah, probably. Is it my favorite? That’s a tougher question to answer because they were all excellent and I loved them all. If it came down to it, I might say that my sentimental favorite is Justice Society of America (1991) written by Len Strazewski and drawn by Mike Parobeck. Was it as well-written as the two Geoff Johns series? No (but then not many comics are). But I just loved Parobeck’s “DC Animated style” (before there was even a DC Animated Universe) so, so much. He was one of my favorite artists back in a time when Jim Lee and all of his endless imitators were king.

While it’s true that Strazewski and Parobeck’s Justice Society of America book was not successful — it ran only 18 issues — it’s hard to say if that was due to sales or to editorial not “getting” the book. In interviews, Strazewski has said that the book was killed by Mike Carlin because he allegedly just didn’t like it. As I said, this was the time in which guys who drew like Jim Lee were in demand, and Batman: The Animated Series hadn’t premiered yet to change everything (that would happen a year later, and while there was a short overlap between the show starting and the book being canceled, it was too late for the book). Parobeck’s art style was contrary to everything that was popular in comics in 1991. Sales-wise, who knows? I bet that it sold more copies in 1991 than most books sell now.

It would be incorrect, however, to say that Geoff Johns’ first series, JSA, wasn’t successful — it ran for seven years! (It would also be incorrect to call it Geoff Johns’ series. Even though he wrote the vast majority of issues, it also featured such writers as James Robinson, David S. Goyer, and Michael Chabon). To keep things in perspective, this current book — Justice Society of America — hasn’t even finished its second year yet. It’s got five more years to go to reach the longevity of JSA.

I haven’t looked at the sales numbers in a while, but the last time I remember looking, Justice Society of America was the second or third best selling book at DC Comics. I think that this current Justice Society book is here to stay as long as Geoff Johns wants to write it.

Conor Kilpatrick



  1. JSA rules.  So much cooler than JLA.  

  2. I sure don’t read the recap pages ever.  Unless the book was more than 3-4 more months late.  then i might need to remember what happened in the last couple of issues. 

  3. The recap page should almost be on page 4 or 5, the point where you realize, "Yeah, I really don’t remember any of this."  

  4. Jeez, sounds like there were some incredible writers working on that second JSA series. Why do you think big-time authors like Chabon or Goyer are drawn to that team instead of JLA?

    …not to say Goyer is awesome all the time. I mean, I’ve seen the Nick Fury TV Movie…

  5. @Conor..Thanks for answering the question. And I definitely hope that the JSA is here to stay, this is my favorite DC book right now. Its so much fun to read, and as far as team books, it has to be one of the top 3.

  6. I think more writers are pulled to the JSA because there is so much more history there then the JLA.  Not too mention depending on the version of the JLA and JSA, there are more characters to pull from for a roster.  Also they just seem more fun in general.

  7. You are insane.  Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet would completely destroy Darkseid.  I’ll agree that based on their native power levels, Darkseid wins that fight.  No contest if you give Thanos the Infinity Gauntlet though.

  8. Darkseid is smarter than Thanos.  Thanos had the Ininity Gaunlet once, and lost already.


  9. I just recognize the inherent bias in my opinion given my avatar.  How many times has Darkseid gotten some portion of the Anti-Life equation only to still be defeated in the end.  They’re essentially the same character is all I’m saying.  I hate that I’m sitting at work this late being such an uber-dork that I’m bothering to argue this point.  I hear a frozen pizza calling my name.  Peace out!

  10. Thanos is my favorite hero in the Marvel U.  

  11. The early 90’s JSA series is a sentimental favorite of mine, too. Parobeck’s pencils were awesome. I honestly don’t remember the stories at this point, but DC was offering up something different at the time. Marvel was heavy into a specific style, and suddenly along comes DC with a quaint JSA book starring the old fogeys. It was a nice change.

  12. @BladesofJustice.. good question, may I add ADAMANTIUM CLAWS/healing factor is waaaaay overdone! It’s just not special if everybody’s got ’em.

    I wish the scarlet witch would’ve muttered     " …no more claws…."

    @Madmartigan.. I also discovered this current JSA run, the sheer volume of characters, interesting historic backgrounds and solid art& storytelling make this a fun read

  13. @JonSamuelson-of course Thanos could win with the Infinity Gauntlet.  Thats like saying "who wins in a fight. a guy with a shotgun or a mouse?"

    @Jesse1125- No more claws…and no more symbiotes…

    @Paul-YES!!! Recap after 4 pages!  I always prided myself on not needing the recap, then my pull list climbed, started buying more and more trades, and now I honestly need to read it sometimes to remember what I read.  I feel sad 🙁

    Good set of questions guys.   Have a great weekend

  14. It easily has to be Darkseid, he is more cunning and intelligent then Thanos. Did anyone else think Thanos was pretty much a moron in Infinity Gaunlet? Dont get me wrong it’s a wonderful book, thanks to josh for recommending it; but his emotions really made his a stupid character all together. Just because he would kill people or take off the damn glove for Death just screams retarded. Just saying.

    That arc in Nova with SS and Galactus is one of the best stories to come out this year. Everything about it was perfect from the writing, to the art, to the covers, to the use of Galactus. I definitely recommend picking those back issues up cause it’s worth your time.

  15. Another point about recap pages that I don’t think anyone’s brought up: yes,  well-told story shouldn’t need them, but I think it’s also worth considering how the author is constructing the story.

    In the old days, when comics were really ONLY serialized pamphlets, writers would use various tricks to re-introduce characters each issue, making sure that anyone could pick up the book with that as their first issue. Think about the way Claremont used to introduce the X-men with little caption boxes at the beginning of each issue. Now… have you gone back and tried to read a chunk of those issues together? Try reading them to a kid or something. You VERY quickly realize how redudant it becomes to mention Colossus’ organic steel every 22 pages.

    In contrast, many writers today understand that the books will be collected as chapters in a trade. They know this and write accordingly. The beauty of the recap page in this case is that it serves to introduce new readers, but it can be removed as it goes into the trade. So trade readers don’t have to get a lot of redundant material in each "chapter" of the trade.

  16. @conor: Didn’t Chabon only write that awesome Mr. Terrific back-up in the equally awesome JSA: All Stars mini? If not I have some comics to buy ASAP!!!

  17. Have they ever shown Galactus without his helmet?  Does he have a normal shaped head or is there a reason for the big, over-sized helmet?  Perhaps he is a conehead or has a beehive hairdo?

    The recent Secret Invasion – Inhumans mini was the first I had seen of Black Bolt without his cowl (but I’m guessing there have been earlier occurances).

  18. Recap pages are the best thing to happen to comics since Image canned Liefeld.

    If publishers wish to preserve the monthly (non-trade) format then they should be developing more novel ideas such as this.

  19. i liked the recap pages for the recent avengers books where they flashback to house of m or like the first arc with kazarr, since i missed most of that initially and didn’t have to go ‘wtf is happening’ and just enjoy it.

  20. @WinTheWonderboy – I believe it was only the one story by Chabon.

  21. @conor: That sucks, but thanks anyway. Its been years since i read the late nineties JSA series(cant read them now cuz, most of my issues got thrown out. Stupid Mom!!!), so i wasn’t quite sure if he only wrote the one story or anything else.

  22. recaps are cool, jsa rules and Thanos dates Death, that must count for something, right?

  23. Yeah, I don’t read the recap page either. But enjoy the fact it is there.

  24. I like recap pages if a new story-arc is kicking off that involves some older or obscure elements from a character’s history or if there are a lot of characters involved.

     Take Final Crisis and it’s tie-ins.  I just read Submit and Resist, didn’t recognize a single character and had no idea what kind of organization Checkmate is or how they fit into the DCU.  I would have loved a page that brought me even a little up to speed.  Sure, wikipedia’s great, but I usually read comics in bed.  No frigging way I’m getting up and getting dressed to go and read up on comic book minutiae, so I stay lost and don’t get to fully appreciate my $4 comic.

  25. Thanks for answering my question Ron; Seems my faceoff between Thanos and Darkseid has raised some good points between both sides.  However I always felt that Thanos and Darkseid (without any weapons or world changing items or anti-life) were about even.  The power cosmic and omega beams in my opinion would cancel out, since they both can harness their respective power flawlessly and rearrange molecules, project concussive force, and transmutate,etc.  I don’t see why people seem to think just because Thanos (who I must admit I like more than Darkseid) has feelings for Death is weaker because of that.  Think of the raw power and cunning intellect he has; now consider that he’s willing to do anything with that power to please someone; that’s incredibly evil and ruthless in my book….

  26. Conor – I believe the Strazewski-Parobeck Justice Society was only 10 issues. If you’ve found another 8 somewhere – let me know!! I know there was an eight-issue mini-series before the series launched… That run rocked. The second run with Robinson and Jack Knight as Starman was pretty good. I bailed shortly after Jack did. I’m probably going to catch up myself with the trades. I’m not a big fan of this Kingdom Come blending. Sorry. If you like it God bless you!

    I’d have to say Superman, Batman, Wolverine, Punisher and Spider-Man are characters that are definitely OVER-exposed. At least that’s my perception. If a character – or a team – has their own section of previews for something like four, five or six to eight family books – that to me is over-exposed. Batman is more of an institution than an urban legend. But, that’s just mine own opinion.

    Thanos vs. Darkseid? Darkseid. He’s more badass. 

  27. I loved the Strazewski-Parobeck  JSA, everything from the logo onwards was just so darn charming. I then enjoyed the Robinson etc JSA, lots of fun stuff going on there. And the current series started well, but I’m just plain Gog-bored.

    @win – thanks for the Chabon reminder, I couldn’t for the life of me remember him being a JSA writer.

  28. @AirDave – 8 issue mini + 10 issue series = 18 issues