The iFanboy Letters Column – 01/04/2008!

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A wee holiday break and we’re back with more questions, answers, and perhaps a wry witticism or two. It’s the first letter column of 2008, and we can barely contain ourselves.

As always if you want to your email read on the show, or answered here, keep them coming – contact@ifanboy.com


I know I have emailed you in the past about doing shows and not including my favorite merc with a mouth, Deadpool. Like when you did the whole episode on humor in comics or something like that. However, I recently got some time to watch your episode on the whole breaking of the 4th wall, and I wanted to thank you very much for mentioning my favorite character (Who I refuse to acknowledge Rob Liefeld created/ripped off). I recently noticed in the recent issue of Wizard that Deadpool is supposed to get his own monthly issue? I was wondering if you guys knew who would be writing it and who would be handling the art?

Jeff from Indianapolis, IN

We get complaints that we don’t talk about specific books or characters a lot, but I think Deadpool fans may be earning their own position in the “rabid, touchy” section, right in-between the Fables and the Sandman fans. (I kid, I kid.) But Deadpool does indeed have a loyal following, like yourself Jeff who want him covered and many fans out there are panicked now that Cable/Deadpool is over, what will come of the “Merc with a Mouth”? Well I too have heard the rumors and speculation about a new Deadpool book, but I’ve only heard just that — rumors. So I went straight to the source and asked Jim McCann of Marvel Comics if there would be a new Deadpool book in 2008. His answer:

“There WILL be a Deadpool book coming… our lips are sealed as to if it is a mini, ongoing, or another team-up book.”

I followed up with asking if their lips were sealed as to who the creative team is as well? He enigmatically responded:

“Yup!”

So there you have it. Something is coming, but we don’t know by whom or when or even what. So stay on the edge of your seat and we’ll let you know as soon as we hear.

Ron Richards


I got into comics a little over a year ago now and have always loved the Flash character but his title has been pretty bad lately as you guys have said. I was looking to go back and get some trades of some old Flash stuff but have no clue where to start what are some of the landmark Flash stories I need to read?

Chad from London, England

The Flash had one of the greatest sustained runs of quality of any major superheroes in recent times. The Flash was a great comic book from 1992 to 2005. It started with an epic, character defining run from Mark Waid that led to another epic run by Geoff Johns, and the likes of Grant Morrison and Mark MIllar filled in when those guys needed a breather. Had we been doing a podcast back then you would have heard about The Flash… a lot.

Mark Waid’s first issues are collected in a trade called Born To Run, which is of course out of print but I’m sure can be found with a little work. If you are committed to starting form the beginning then I suggest tracking that one down. It’s well worth it. As for Geoff Johns, you could probably jump right into his run without having read Waid’s and his first trade is Wonderland, and it is in stock. Trust me when I tell you that the current work by Mark Waid on The Flash is in no way reflective on his last run. No way at all.

Conor Kilpatrick


With the majority of [Y: The Last Man] being wrapped-up in issues #58 & #59, what’s left for Yorick in the 48-page final?. Do you think that the ending is being drawn-out?

Travis from Providence, RI

I don’t know if it’s being drawn out or it just feels that way since the book has been released bi-monthly for the last year. I honestly don’t remember the last few issues all that well, or the details of the series, since I’ve been reading it in issues since the beginning. I think in this instance, the trade readers are definitely better served, and clearly Vaughan is thinking long term and taking his time in getting the final arc done. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t read well in issues, since Vaughan is the modern master of the “last page cliffhanger.” I guess I don’t feel like it’s all wrapped up, so I’m sure there will be something of significance in that final issue, which I believe is due this month sometime. Granted, it was originally solicited for release on January 2, which has already come and gone. But sure, there’s a lot left to close off. Either way, I always like an epilogue.

Josh Flanagan


I just finished The Amazing Spider-Man #545, the conclusion to “One More Day.” What is Marvel thinking? To be fair, I can understand the reasoning that marriages lose the “will they, won’t they?” excitement that comes with dating a superhero. I can understand that Marvel is trying to shake up the Spider-Man universe that has been relatively stagnant in recent history, Civil War excepted. But at some point the writers had to have taken a step back and looked at the final product, only to realize “This is pretty fucking stupid.” It feels like Marvel had a great idea, and then ran with it, without paying attention to where they were going, and wherever they ended up got printed. The means don’t justify the end. If they wanted to end the marriage, they should have done it plausibly, with real relationship issues (Dammit, Peter, you left the toilet seat up again!) I just think Marvel’s foresight was severely lacking when they came up with “One More Day”. I don’t even want to think about what this is going to do to the rest of the Marvel Universe, New Avengers, etc.

Andrew from Freeport, ME

I totally feel your pain, Andrew. Really I do. This has been a rough ride for Spider-Man throughout 2007 and I don’t really know if the current direction was executed as well as it could have been and I don’t know what to expect for the future of Spider-Man. These are troubled times indeed.

If you want to understand the reasoning behind the story, the decisions made during writing it and ultimately to hear Joe Quesada finally take some heat for this whole debacle, I strongly recommend you check out the interview he did over at Comic Book Resources. (and part 2, part 3, and part 4) Simply fascinating reading. My main take away after reading it was editorially driven story telling rarely delivers a good story. I actually would have preferred to have seen JMS’s approach to “One More Day”. At least the way Joe described it, it sounded compelling. What we got instead felt forced, like a means to an end. An end that was something that, as far as I can tell, no fans asked for.

Luckily, nothing is permanent in comics. If any character can attest to that, it’s Spider-Man. Did you forget about The Clone Saga? But I wouldn’t worry too much. I have faith in Bendis and what he’s doing with Secret Invasion and The New Avengers, it doesn’t seem like they’re trying to undo anything for the sake of undoing it. Rather for the sake of telling a kickass story.

Ron Richards


This is mainly for Conor. I was wondering what your response to Dan Didio’s interview at Newsarama. What are you hoping to see out of DC next year?

Jay from Southern California

dccomics.jpgI definitely read both parts of that interview and with great interest. As much good as there was out of DC this past year, there was an equal amount of bad. And the good really came from the lower tier characters, your Green Arrows, your Booster Golds, your Justice Societys. Out of the top tier characters — “The Big Seven” — the only one who I thought had a great 2007 was Green Lantern. The rest — Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman — all had utter disastrous 2007s. (J’onn J’onzz is the other “Big Seven” member but he can’t sustain a solo book. Even so, where was he in the last year? It finally took Chuck Dixon to do something half way interesting with him in Batman & The Outsiders.) And as much as I enjoy what Dwayne McDuffie has been doing on Justice League of America, I feel like the status quo he was handed was a huge mess.

It was good to see Mr. Didio recognizing that there is a problem at DC Comics and that it needs solving, pronto. That’s the first step — recognizing that something is not right when there is almost nothing going right with your most popular and recognizable characters.

What I’m looking for next year out of DC is a righting of the ship of the big characters — especially Superman and Batman. Superman seems to be on tHe right track (at least with Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Action Comics) and next year is his 70th anniversary so it’s extremely important they not leave him languishing for another year in delayed and nigh-impenetrable storylines. Batman needs stability and a clarity of vision. I don’t know what’s going on in the Batunivese, it’s almost like each book exists in its own separate pocket. As much as I’ve enjoyed Paul Dini on Detective Comics, the plague of fill-in issues has left that book with a black eye. Grant Morrison on Batman has been fantastic… half the time. The other half has been head-scratchingly obtuse. I never know what I’m going to get with any of the Batbooks when they come out and that’s not something that has casual fans flocking to the racks.

So go Superman and Batman, so goes DC Comics.

Conor Kilpatrick


I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time now and I’ve never had the urge to write in to you guys feeling content after each episode, but after watching the “Playlist” episode, I thought there was one major gap of space in the comics you presented. Most of them were written about a song or a previous band (or whatever) but none of them were really *really* about music and the feelings that go into creating a band and the hardships that go along with it. (Plus the art was just bad.) I could barely contain myself while watching this episode, the perfect comic sat less than a foot from my arm and not a word was spoken about it: Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad (or just *Beck*).

And yes it is a Japanese Comic (Manga), but that is no reason to discount it! It is one of the most realistic comics I have ever read, and I have read a lot, both manga and regular old comic books. There are no supernatural events, there’s no demon-god-children, it is about a boy in modern Japan who is inspired by famous artists like Zeppelin and John Lennon, he struggles to learn the guitar as well as gain recognition. It covers him and the band, Beck, made up of ordinary guys as they try and make it big. Not for the money but to make a difference. The comic shows him and the band members growing up and maturing. The art, by the way, is absolutely wonderful. And it gets better and better as you read on. I really encourage you guys to check this out. And I know you don’t want to spend your money on something that takes a few chapters to get you hooked so here is a website where you can read it and get a taste of such an honest story about friendship and music and rooting for the underdog!

It doesn’t have a playlist or anything, it’s completely original. I hope you will read this, it’s something that if you like any kind of music you can’t not read it. The experience is one of a kind and I can’t imagine you guys disliking it, or anyone for that matter.

I love all you guys, from your shiny heads to your clear glasses, and yes, even your furry side-burns.

S. M. from California

Well, there you go, you got to say your piece, and I’m sure someone will pick it up and check it out soon. I’ve certainly never heard of it, but it sounds pretty cool. Thanks for bringing it up. We certainly can’t cover all possible comics, and it’s always good when the iFanbase can open our eyes to new material.

Josh Flanagan

Comments

  1. “J’onn J’onzz is the other “Big Seven” member but he can’t sustain a solo book.”

    I don’t want to get a reputation for swooping in just to be combative, but interesting is as interesting does.

    Martian Manhunter as an ensemble character seems to be one of those popular “facts”, but I’d love to hear [Conor’s] take on why that is.

    For me, even ignoring personal inspiration, I think the longevity of the character in his many supporting roles is really indicative of the potential to be tapped.
    Unfortunately, I personally regard a good many of the solo attempts as similar, and not terribly inventive. We seem to be stuck in a perpetual loop of revisiting his origins, and servicing the more obvious dressing of the character and his JLA ties.

    I don’t necessarily expect the character to take over Detective Comics (as much as I would like that), but there’s a Secret Origins story from the late eighties that bares a lot of design and conceptuals similar to New Frontier, that has always seemed like a good eight-page pitch for a solo. I don’t know if New Frontier backs that up, or not, but it’s a lofty association, to be sure.

    That detective history, though common to DC characters, seems particularly unique when considering some of the spy-style stories of the fifties. I think we saw that come to fruition in books like Checkmate, and perhaps even upcoming tales in Batman & the Outsiders, where the espionage potential of a character who can shape-shift, turn invisible, and telepathically deceive, has begun to be tapped.

    He isn’t necessarily the most mainstream of characters, but I think the degrees of range (and associaton) really lend quite a lot to a solo-series. I just think it’s going to take more than a G-spot head design, and whichever writer and penciller aren’t busy.

    Actually, I think strong graphic investment would almost certainly be vital, in contrast to a lot of the generic art styles applied to the character in solo tales. Again, I recall that Secret Origins story, which had a very unique grit and angular design to it, and solid use of the three-panel format.

  2. “I just think it’s going to take more than a G-spot head design, and whichever writer and penciller aren’t busy.”

    Ha Ha. J’onn J’oonz looks very scary since the relaunched him in Brave New World. The warmth that used to radiate from the character seems to missing now.

    As for fellow Deadpool fans…I did something a little out of character a few months back, when I went out and bought 7-8 Cable/Deadpool issues, just for the Skottie Young covers. I was expecting a mediocre read from all the wishy washy reviews I’d read, but I was quickly blown away. It was so much fun, I read through seven issues in one day, and realized there weren’t any books I was reading like it. I was sad when I went to add it to my pull list and was told they were cancelling it. I certainly prefered Deadpool’s arcs to Cable’s, but who knows what Marvels intentions are for the new title? Anyone got suggestions for books that can combine the action & humor like Cable/Deadpool?

  3. If they wanted to end the marriage, they should have done it plausibly, with real relationship issues (Dammit, Peter, you left the toilet seat up again!)

    You know, I must have read this half a dozen times… are people really clamoring to read this story? Would a couple arcs of this not make you want to kill yourself? Are any of the people making this complaint married themselves? If Spider-Man were having marriage-eroding arguments every month and trying to earn money to pay his lawyer, I would end up stabbing out my goddamn eyes and so would you. You would pray, PRAY for Mephisto.

  4. I completely agree about Beck, it is a great story. It does has a couple fantastic elements but over all I think anyone who has done a Morrissey podcast would enjoy it.

  5. I agree with jimski. Those kind of scenes wouldn’t just be painful, they’d feel like a waste of panels, pages, and books. Peter and Mary Jane have had a good relationship and it would take forever for petty squabbles to lead to divorce. Geez, it would take longer than the 10 months JMS wasted on civil war repercussions! I thought this story was awful and don’t like the goal from the beginning, but to have Peter and Mary Jane start fighting over petty things until they can’t live together would have to make one or both of them unlikeable to the readers and that’s worse than the current set up.

  6. Martian Manhunter as an ensemble character seems to be one of those popular “facts”, but I’d love to hear [Conor’s] take on why that is.

    J’onn is one of my top ten favorite characters, but his solo books don’t sell. It’s as simple as that. Not every character is meant to be a lead.

  7. The point is that, if you’re married to a superhero there are huge things to get divorced over and none of them involve toilet seats. I great writer could have put Peter through some tough times, giving the character some extra depth and making him act out in a frenetic way as Spiderman. It could drag on or not depending on quality of story. It’s not like Peter would contest the divorce.

    But it’s done. And I don’t believe this will cause a huge tumble in Spider-man sales because his universe IS back to Spidey basics which are fine. The three issues a month should quickly show the direction of the comic and it’s a great jumping on point for curious readers.

    What counts are the stories from here on out.

  8. I have this feeling that the Flash is my gateway into DC. I can’t remember reading a book that even had the Flash in it (Identity Crisis? Probably?) but I just get a vibe from him. If I picked up some of these Waid books, I feel like this time next year I’d have spent another $3000 and be able to explain the bottle city of Kandor.

  9. Jimski – do yourself a favor and get the Geoff Johns run – it’s fantastic. Flash was my gateway drug to DC too – he’s a great character…

  10. I could care less about martian manhunter until I read how Darwyn Cook handled him in New Frontier. If there were to be a book about Jonn Jonzz being an alien moonlighting as a dectective then I would be sold in a heartbeat.

  11. There have been a couple of attempts at those books. Some quite good. One by John Ostrander was excellent.

    They don’t really sell.

  12. They’ve done that series several times already. It’s even been good. No one bought it.

    If you’re interested, Jon Ostrander did a series most recently. I’m pretty sure Conor read it.

  13. Wow, mind-meld.

  14. That’s quite funny.

  15. it’s like old times

  16. So, my question about One More Day is this: if Spidey is reverting back to a single 20 something (or whatever the hell is going on), how is this affecting his appearances in New Avengers and other books? Is he suddenly going to appear in the red and blue costume with no memory of MJ?

    Mind you, I didn’t read all of OMD (in fact, I barfed* all over the first issue and never looked back), so I’m not too certain how it turned out.

    *not really

  17. I great writer could
    Freudian slip? 😀

    I was a fan of the Spider marriage but I didn’t hate how the story ended. If nothing else, the story is easily retconable.

  18. “… but his solo books don’t sell. It’s as simple as that. Not every character is meant to be a lead.”

    Superman sales have died in the arse for decade long periods. I don’t think previous sales figures are really an argument for the character’s potential as a lead.

    I would fully acknowledge to having only a glancing familiarity with the Ostrander stuff, but I’d add it never really jumped out at me.
    No slight to Tom Mandrake, but I recall a lot of that work as being a little on the generic side, devoid of the kind of investment of personality previously mentioned. Likewise, I lump the Ostrander stuff in with that frustrating redundance of revisiting the spacey broad sci-fi of the character and his many revisited origins.

    There’s probably also an argument to made for the character’s sustainability in a period where market was flooded, and promotion probably not great. Of course, that’s also probably undermined by the fact that this period where “no one bought it” probably rivaled current Martian Manhunter sales…

    I just don’t think that history does the character any credit, nor does it really make an argument for his status as lead, or supporting.

    “J’onn J’oonz looks very scary since the relaunched him in Brave New World. The warmth that used to radiate from the character seems to missing now.”

    Yeah, I really haven’t warmed to it at all.
    I probably would’ve cited it as a negative if it hadn’t made for effective creepy outside the mini, like in the Checkmate reveal. Eerie!!!

    “If there were to be a book about Jonn Jonzz being an alien moonlighting as a dectective then I would be sold in a heartbeat.”

    Aaaaand just to keep going on about it, I think that’s such a great example because – and again, I might not be entirely accurate – but it seems to have a far greater conviction to the concept that Ostrander’s work.

    Y’know, it’s another bad sales argument, but if you could build something more along the lines of Gotham Central, with the underlying difference of hints of science fiction, I think you get a stronger foundation than Martian Manhunter has had in series past.

    It’s a shallow response to a shallow argument; but, the only thing I see seperating MM from a sales juggernaut like X-Men is a strong foundation, a commited history of printing, a few breakout talents, and the resulting obessive fanbase.

  19. Except that Gotham Central didn’t maintain enough sales to keep going, and it was one of the best titles I’ve ever read.

  20. It’s a shallow response to a shallow argument; but, the only thing I see seperating MM from a sales juggernaut like X-Men is a strong foundation, a commited history of printing, a few breakout talents, and the resulting obessive fanbase.

    That’s like saying “the only difference between me and a millionaire is a million dollars.”

  21. You’ve got to wonder about a story-line so obtuse that it takes 4 interviews by the editor to explain the motivation behind it.

    I’m with Ron, though, the new creative team is enough to keep me hooked.

    First post, btw!

  22. “Except that Gotham Central didn’t maintain enough sales to keep going, and it was one of the best titles I’ve ever read.”

    Acknowledged or not, that was always going to undermine my overall point, wasn’t it? :-p

    “That’s like saying “the only difference between me and a millionaire is a million dollars.””

    Or like saying the difference between a leading character, and a potential leading character, is sales figures?

    I think it’s probably semantics in discussions like this that distract and perpetuate what, as far as I can tell, is an unfair assessment of a character’s creative viability.

    One might look to recent iFanboy podcasts to find comparable examples in characters like Renee Montoya or Black Adam. Characters who prospered in the high selling and well received pseudo-anthology, 52, but were arguably let down by point raised in the audio; (marketing/branding and other circumstances); as much as any creative failings of the characters.

    Going back to original points, I think the enduring goodwill the character has amassed and his association with ‘the big seven’, is indication enough of a potential lead character.

    I should think that kind of history has more weight on the creative aspects of a character, some of which might not have been explored to their fullest extent, than the failing stats of series past.

    Admittedly, it’s arguing the intangible, but then, isn’t that kinda the point?

    And really, just to conclude, it’s hardly a stretch to predict the difference between me and a millionaire. Darwyn Cooke, Morrison/Quitely, Loeb/Sale, Miller/Lee… The manipulations of a comic fan aren’t exactly abstract, and the rise of any familiar character, not particularly impossible.
    (But that’s a bit of a cop-out :-p)

  23. Re the Martian Manhunter series from the late-90s, it was an excellent hybrid of Ostrander’s words and Mandrake’s pencils. It was idiosyncratic and unique in ways that no one has ever been able to go with J’onn J’onzz. There wasn’t a bad ish in the run, and it even managed to add some strong spine to Morrison’s “1,000,000” crossover.