The iFanboy Letter Column – 12/05/2008!


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 punish the wicked.

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

 


Ultimate X-Men is ending soon, or so it appears. As a big fan of the book at its launch I wanted to know your guys thoughts on why a book written by Millar, Bendis, Vaughn, and Kirkman for the majority of its run failed. My theory is the shear number of characters/X-Men. Initially it was just 6 of them, then around issue 20, Kitty joined, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Dazzler, Angel, Bishop, Pyro, Psylocke and so on. It just became too crowded and the fun, character beats of the early days were lost. What do you fellas think?

Brian from Seattle, WA

If you told me that a book that featured Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis Brian K. Vaughan and Robert Kirkman on writing duties was going to be mostly pretty boring and uninspired I’d smack you in the face with my glove like a fine Southern gentleman from the Civil War era.

I say, I say, Ultimate X-Men was probably a flawed book from the very start. Why does Ultimate Spider-Man work? Why has its popularity endured for almost nine years now? It’s the strength of the concept that has been the product of a single writer’s vision. From my point of view, Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men were studies in opposites. Ultimate Spider-Man took the character and stripped him off all of his baggage. It’s a cliche, but it’s true, they went back to basics with Peter Parker. No history, no baggage, just a high school kid bitten by a radioactive spider. It was Stan Lee and Steve Ditko through a modern lens. Ultimate X-Men came off to me as a book whose foundation was built on posturing and contrived edginess. How did they bring Logan back to basics? They made him a little bit younger in appearance and… gave him a soul patch.

(By the way, does anybody remember that when Ultimate X-Men first started they said the Professor X was supposed to be in his 30s and Wolverine was supposed to appear to be in his 20s? That quickly went by the wayside, after one or two artist changes they were back to be drawn like their Marvel Universe versions.)

All the X-Men had bad attitudes and wore a lot of leather. They didn’t reinvent the classic stories so much as just slap a coat of “edgy” paint on the same worn out house.

You mention too many characters and while I don’t think that was the main problem with Ultimate X-Men, it certainly was one of them. It was hard to get to know anybody with a constantly rotating cast of characters. Hell, I feel like I know Kitty Pryde from Ultimate Spider-Man not from Ultimate X-Men. I can’t even remember one thing that she did in Ultimate X-Men.

I’ve said it before (many times) and I’ll say it once again — Ultimate X-Men should have taken the original X-Men team and done them in the same style of Ultimate Spider-Man. Basically, X-Men: First Class with more of an on-going, soap operatic narrative. That’s the Ultimate X-Men book I wanted and never got. But then X-Men: First Class was kinda, sorta canceled so what do I know?

Conor Kilpatrick

 


I wonder if any of you have considered whether or not comics should go green. The closest thing I’ve seen to this is that Marvel offers digital comics and it doesn’t seem like they’ve done that to reduce their carbon footprint. I never hear anyone at any comics company talk about using recycled paper, soy ink, etc. But, being the hippie I am, I think it’s about time that Marvel, DC, and the others thought about ways to reduce their environmental impact. Comic collectors are always willing to pay more for variants. Why not at least make “green variant” covers or something like that? Going green may be a fad, but in my mind, it’s a good one. Thoughts?

Kirk from Austin, TX

Kirk, you smelly dirty hippie you! Apparently, in the manic and ultimately futile attempt to conserve power, you missed this story about a DC Comics initiative to use more sustainable paper supplies, and Paul Levitz goes into some detail in the article. So, at least someone at those companies is certainly thinking about it. In fact, since these are businesses that deal in paper, they would be doing themselves a great disservice by not thinking about it. We’ve all heard the cries, and seen the effects of the cost of paper rising dramatically, and it’s not unrelated. If they can’t find a way to find affordable, sustainable paper supplies, then their businesses are sunk. It’s either that, or do things completely differently.

Of course, in that, the most obvious solution is a way to digitally distribute paperless comics, and in that, most comics companies have failed. Marvel leads the way with their digital comics system, but it doesn’t contain new weekly issues. For those, you still have to go to the shop. Of course, in doing that, you’ll probably take your car, belching lots of carbon along the way. But then, as we’ve read many times, reading comics on a computer screen isn’t all that desirable. I truly think that when an affordable, color e-reader, like the Kindle becomes available and ubiquitous, it’s just a short step for comics companies to make their wares available in that way. Paper isn’t going anywhere, but eventually, it’s going to come at a premium price. You think $3.99 is bad, just wait a few years… Of course, the digital folks don’t get off that easy, since those electronic devices require lots of carbon producing electricity, and are usually made of lots of toxic circuit boards, mercury, and plastic that will be in a landfill in an average of 2-3 years along side all those old cell phones and P4 desktop computers. Plus, artists are still FedExing their penciled pages to inkers and then sending those along to the publishers. Clearly, there’s no way to avoid this tide of environmental havoc, so if you want to feel any good about yourself, just stop reading comics altogether and whatever you do, try not to fart.

Alright, I’m kidding slightly, but it’s funny when you try to think of ways to avoid making things worse than they are, you keep coming up short. But I do think that going forward, the publishers should take more steps like DC has, and continue finding more ways to reduce their usage of paper, and save on paper and shipping costs. I would certainly be happy to support and promote the companies who try to make those positive changes, and I’m excited to see what will happen, because it’s clear that something will have to happen.

Josh Flanagan

 


I just watched the Punisher video show and loved it, but it got me thinking… What are the top 5 biggest “what the hell did they do to this character” moments in comics? For example the Demon Punisher idea. What do each of you think.

D.J. from Fremont, CA

One of the best things about comics is there are SO many head scratching moments where you wonder just what the heck the writers were thinking when they presented their story ideas and how the heck they got approved, much less published.  So here it is, as you requested, my top 5 “What the hell did they do to this character” moments:

1) Demon Punisher – I know we talked about it at length on the video show, and you mentioned it in your e-mail, but the ridiculousness of this concept still astounds me to this day. It’s amazing how quickly people forget bad ideas, and I guess it’s good that we forget all about this misstep — but man, this was pretty bad.

2) The Flash Kids – Another one you’ve heard us moan about a lot, but I will take every opportunity to publicly discuss how bad this has been. Giving The Flash kids isn’t such a bad idea, but giving them powers? Ugh. And not only do they have powers, but his son looks SO creepy all bulked up. I can’t even look at it, it pains me so much.

3) Daredevil Armor – The lowest point in Daredevil’s history in the mid-1990s, right as the book was on the precipice of being canceled and before Quesada, Palmiotti and Kevin Smith saved the title and made it cool again, they felt the need to give Daredevil some mecha-armor. I don’t even know what the story was, but I remember seeing it in the comic shops and literally laughing out loud.

4) Electric Superman – After the whole Death of Superman thing, and then the wedding to Lois, the next big event in Superman was when he turned into a blue electric being. And then he split into a Blue and a Red electric being. Now, I’m no Superman historian or fan even, but this never made any sense to me. I’m sure it makes sense on some level, but I just found it completely perplexing.

5) Uncanny X-Men Time Jump – Right around the year 2000, after some big X-Men event, Chris Claremont came back to the books and there was a ceremonious reboot of the X-Men titles that was built around a jump of about a year and when the dust settled, everyone had different costumes and Kitty Pryde was the main team member featuring a Wolverine bone claw attached to her wrist. Shortly thereafter, Grant Morrison came on board and they relaunched the X-Men again for his New X-Men run — but the entire year jump never made any sense to me whatsoever. I guess it didn’t to Marvel either because I don’t recall it ever being explained.

I’m sure I could go on and on with these sort of character turns and stories but I limited it to just 5 as you asked. What are some of your favorite moments like this? Let us know in the comments!

Ron Richards

 

Comments

  1. What are the top 5 biggest "what the hell did they do to this character" moments in Comics?

    Great question D.J. I forgot about the X-Men reboot. They tried to make them darker, I remember. Beasts costume was hysterical, and Cable was wearing Cyclops’s Visor around his neck.

    The Daredevil armor reminded me of the Cap Armor incident in the 90’s. That was a HORRIBLE time for Cap. Right before that was Cap Wolf with guest stars Wolverine and Cable. Conor mentioned it quickly on the Book of the Month Video Show where he picked Operation Rebirth.

  2. All of Ron’s picks for "WTF Decisions" are good. The Flash’s kids…honestly, why?

    The exception I make is Superman Blue/Red was kind of a neat idea. I mean, it was still shit as it was written back then. But the concept is not bad and had a bit of potential. None realized, natch.

  3. For some reason, I love electric Superman.  I can’t explain it.

  4. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I love that Azrael’s Bat Armor is just understood and need not take up a space on the WTF list.  

  5. If that cool looking electric blue guy would have just been created as a new character rather than changing Superman, he probably would have stuck around and been pretty bad ass.  Whenever I see the costume I get a hankering for some raspberry lemonade

  6. Yet another canceled x-men title to confuse new readers. Hooray!

    Power plants create lots of polution or make more power needed meaning a bigger chance to create an atomic disaster and kill us all. I’m for it! Also the switch some nations make to different sources (like Israel to natural gas from coal) just shifts the power – now Russia has more power over Korea but it will take power from arab nations mostly.

    As for the third question, it’s an Israeli comic no one here probably read and most of the Israeli population as well. Falefel Man. It’s my avater on this website.

    <–

    Issue #1 was awesome, issue #2 was an out of date fight against racism if I remember correctly and ahmadinijad or whatever his name is. It’s something we saw in old children’s books like the series Danidin (said like Dunidin – u as in ah, not oo).

    It’s a children’s book about an Israeli kid that drinks a purple liquid from some scientist and turns invisible and he helps the IDF in punching arabs etc.

    The scientist is searching for a cure through the entire series.

    That is something that people in Israel have long been weaned off of. 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Sarig

    There is a third issue in that serise (the last one to come out) but I haven’t read it yet since I don’t want to work and I don’t have much money. 

  7. DId they never go back and explain what happened in that missing X-Men time? Seems like that’s a ripe opportunity for a retro story. Or maybe it’s just better left alone.

  8. What If? it wasn’t forgotten about. The X-men on a crazy mexican vacation with much drug use and tequila involved! I’d buy that. Wolvering DJing with his claws. Xavier getting stuck in the sand. Night Crawler teleptoring to whore houses.

    X-Men: Our Gonorrhea Year.

  9. The WTF list is about what I would have done.  The only thing I would have added was Clor.  I still find it crazy his friends would do that to him.

  10. Daredevil was actually doing pretty well (considering that all comics were sinking like stones at the time) around the time of the armoured suit. people were rerally enjoying Mc Daniel who built his rep on the book. I remeber Joe Kelly was getting a lot of press for his work on Murdock.

     

    electric blue Superman had no ending that was the problem with that story

  11. I can honestly say that I never bought any of those comics mentioned here.

  12. Armor doesn’t work for the characters previously mentioned.  But no one told Spider-Man, he donned the WTF armor not once, but twice. 

  13. I’m shocked that isnt an ifanboy article yet: The worst costumes in comics history.

    That would make a fun vid podcast too….There’s just so many, Spider-Man has a good handful himself. That silver and black outfit. Ugh! What was Marvel thinking back then?

    Speaking of Spidey, if I can say without causing an uproar. One More Day is clearly the best ‘what the hell?’ moment in any character. Not because of what they did do the character but that they actually thought it was a good idea. Again, no ranting…just wanted to point that out.

  14. Even though he was only in the book a few issues, i always liked how Grant Morrison wrote the electric blue Superman in his JLA run.

  15. I’ve liked all runs of Ult. X-men except for the Kirkman run.  I do believe that Conor is right about too many hands in the cookie jar.  I want one of those e-readers.

  16. I think I meant Russia over Croatia…

  17. i really liked the change to electric superman, as another chapter in the weekly saga of supes they’d been publishing since crisis, but showing clark having to deal with new abilities and the consequences of those abilities, ie he tries to stop metallo in one issue but in generating so much power now he ends up becoming a power source in metallo’s rampage, and winds up causing a blackout in metropolis. plus i liked the added consequence that there is a different duality between superman/clark in that supes becomes this alienesque entity while when he becomes clark is completely human, allowing him a certain mortality and new understanding of humanity. this is a bit different from the traditional superman as distanced kryptonian alien saviour, and maybe to be true to the character shouldn’t have been written this way, but i liked that they tried

  18. I get upset about not explaining the six month jump in the X Men books because there was never an explanation for the switch in Psylocke and Phoenix’s powers. I preferred telepathic Psylocke.

  19. @TheNextChampion  I thought they were doing a "worst costumes" show one time when Conor was looking for pictures of Emma Frost from the Morrison era.  But it wasn’t to be.

  20. @josh  me too, but i did hate the red and blue stuff

  21. I nominate Wolverine having a son…, Daken, another mutant with claws and healing factor etc, etc, etc….WTF? …I said it before I’ll say it again the Scarlet Witch should’ve said

    "… no more claws…"

  22. @Jesse1125-Not to defend it at all, but with Wolverine its a family mutation.  In the Origin mini, his brother who died had the same claws and, presumably, also the healing factor.  That would explain why Logan’s son would have it.  Again, not to defend it, and I really really really hate Daken too.  From the stupid hair cut right down to the idiotic "extreme" tatooes.

    I would like to nominate Morrison’s second mutations, specifically Cat-Beast, for the WTF list. 

  23. I like emma frost’s old costume. you have a problem with that? i wish someone would cosplay that on the next comic con.

    may be you guys should make an episode about costumes, how they can make or break a character.

    how about the x-men story right after m-day and apocolypse returned and picking the 4 horsemen again. wtf was that?

    they need to make an episode about wtf moments in comics. and not necessary about costumes.

     

  24. @excalipoor  I love making fun of Emma’s old costume!

    I really would like to see someone cosplay it, just to find out how they defied the laws of physics to help it stay up. 

  25. *cough* clone saga *cough*. sorry, too easy, sorry.

  26. Cap Wolf Vs. Demon Punisher.  Anybody?  Anybody?  Bueller?

    D.C. should’ve listened to my idea about an armored-Lois Lane.

    Alas, my letters went unanswered…. 

  27. The DD armor doesn’t look that bad and the comic was actually doing pretty well at that time. 

    How about Teenage Iron Man?  That was pretty awful.

  28. i really liked what they did with captain atom in CA:armageddon. then i really didn’t like what they did to him for countdown. eh, i guess he’s only b-list anyway.

  29. I’ve always liked Captain Atom.  They’ve been trying to kill him or turn him into a villain for 15 years.  Too bad the Silver Age loving regime at DC hasn’t adopted him for a do-over.

  30. Ultimate Spider-Man vs. Ultimate X-Men:

    I’ve read every issue of Ultimate Spider-Man since the first one. It’s the best Spider-Man book you can read. It captures the best of Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Peter will never graduate high school, or get married. That’s why I am there. It’s everything Spider-man should be about.

    I picked up the first issue of Ultimate X-Men and knew that it was going to be just another f@#!&%* X-Men book. And there are – – what? like nine or ten hundred of those out on the rack? If they had taken the original X-Men – without Wolverine – and maybe introduced Wolverine a little later in the run, I might have picked up issue two. Hell, I’d read a Marvel Adventures X-Men book featuring the original X-Men. Wolverine’s a great character, but he’s way over-exposed. Give me the classic line-up, and then maybe introduce a new member a year. Like volleyball – rotate somebody in for a turn, rotate somebody out. Then bring ’em back and rotate somebody else. I kinda like that Ultimate Spider-Man featured Iceman, Johnny, Kitty, and one of Peter’s classmates under-going an x-gene mutation. Oh, that was an Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends riff? Cool!   

  31. You know, I don’t think it was the lineup of "Ultimate X-Men" that was the problem with the book.  Having Storm and Colossus there from the start was a good idea — as opposed to a having a bunch of privileged white American kids stand in for the oppressed of the world.  Even having Wolverine show up as an outsider (mirroring the first movie) was not a bad idea.  It’s that most of the characters didn’t have distinguishable, or interesting, personalities.  Instead of focusing in on that core group and developing them as people with their own relationships, the series threw a lot of self-consciously edgy storylines into the mix to see what would stick.  The way it needed to resemble First Class wasn’t in the characters it used, but in actually focusing on the core group and letting them develop.

  32. Okay, you’re right about the "five privelaged white kids". I’m stickin’ with Wolverine is over-exposed, though. I would have liked to see some focus on X-Men other than him. even though I do like how he is a part of the Marvel Adventures The Avengers – he doesn’t standout there. He’s right there with Cap, Iron Man, Storm, The Hulk and Spider-Man – all the heavy weights. 

  33. The character line-up in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN isn’t exactly like the psoter for the United Colors of Benetton.  I don’t think that’s an important factor in this instance.  I think the original team would have made for a better book.

  34. I think it is a factor; maybe not the most important one, but if you’ve got a character like Storm available, it doesn’t hurt to use her.  And even Jeff Parker has said he wishes there were more female characters to work with in "First Class," which is why he’s used Wanda Maximoff so much.  But my point is more that using the original 5 characters wouldn’t have automatically fixed the problems with Ultimate, if there was still poor character development and mediocre plotting.

  35. I think I actually meant Ukraine…