The iFanboy Letters Column – 02/08/2008!

Friday means many things to many people. For some, it means it’s payday. For others, it means it’s two-for-one from 4pm to 6pm at the local alcohol emporium. And for others still, it means it’s time to check the various drop sites around the city for the microfilm that their spy buddies left them.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always if you want to your email read on the show, or answered here, keep them coming —

Isn’t S.H.I.E.L.D. supposed to be an international intelligence agency under UN supervision? I mean, I know they used to be a U.S. government thing, but I was lead to believe through the way they were written in the last few years that they’re not under the authority of the U.S. government anymore. And if that’s true, why are they spending so much time enforcing a U.S. superhuman registration act and worrying about U.S. problems, when they could be, say, stopping the genocide in Darfur, or tracking down Doctor Doom or something?


Great question, Jonathan! You are correct that S.H.I.E.L.D. is currently a United Nations sanctioned organization. That said, it has always been and still is very much a tool of the U.S. government. This was addressed when it was revealed that Maria Hill was given the directorship of S.H.I.E.L.D., that the U.N. did it to keep Nick Fury out of power, but then the US President met with Maria Hill and made it clear that she better serve the U.S. first. Sketchy? You betcha. But the thing is, while Darfur is awful, having S.H.I.E.L.D. go after problems like that doesn’t really help the stories of super heroes and super villains. Now as to why don’t they go after Doctor Doom? Why don’t you go read The Mighty Avengers next issue?

Ron Richards

I thought I would just write in to ask (though I think Josh is the go-to-guy on this) about Starman. For the past year I have basically gobbled up certain things in trades. Prior to listening I had a few JSA trades, Kingdom Come, Marvels, and The Dark Knight Returns. Now I own all The Walking Dead trades, three Invincible hardcovers, F.E.A.R Agent and more (my bank account hates you). Anyway, I’ve been itching for something to get into again and I always keep hearing Josh bring up Starman. Would this be a wise investment in my time and money?


While I certainly think you’ll be hearing a much more in-depth report on this series at some point in the future, allow me to say: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I heap my praise on many things here, but if you’re talking about my favorite mainstream DC superhero series I’ve ever read, I’m pretty sure that’s going to be James Robinson’s Starman.

If you like what Geoff Johns is doing with the current JSA, all the roots for it can be traced back to this series, if I’m reading between the lines correctly. Starman is an 80 issue opus to how great legacy and history can be in a superhero book. I loved it. But, of course, there’s a snag. Several of the trade paperbacks are out of print, so you couldn’t go out and grab the series right now. However, in May (and again, expect more on this), DC will be releasing the The Starman Omnibus, Vol. 1, collecting in beautiful hardcover format, the beginnings of this epic tale, with fantastic art by Tony Harris.

For myself, who is shamefully the only one of us who has read the whole thing, I’d take this title over any of the others you mentioned having bought. When we’ve all had a chance to read the whole thing (and I might read it again!), I’m sure we’ll do a video show on this some day. So, yes, it is certainly worth it, but I’d wait a little bit longer if I were you.

Josh Flanagan

I dug your Kingdom Come episode, and it definitely had me wanting to pick up my trade and run through it again. I was wondering if you were going to mention the Alan Moore script for Twilight of the Superheroes, which I guess a lot of people have accused Alex Ross of picking up a lot of for Kingdom Come. I don’t really see it as that, but I’m wondering if any of you had ever had the chance to read it. I think it could’ve been just as groundbreaking — maybe more so — than Kingdom Come with the right artist, and it pisses me off that Moore’s clashing with DC/Marvel/Wildstorm staff has prevented him from doing more work for some of the more established characters. Anyway, would you have a preferred artist for that story? I think someone like Michael Lark would kill it. 

Cotton from Claremont, CA

As it happens I have indeed read Alan Moore’s voluminous proposal for Twilight of the Superheroes.

Written and submitted to DC by Moore in 1987 and set 20 years in the future, it was conceived as the final battle between the DC heroes, villains, and their various children. Sound familiar?

Well, yes and no. On the surface and from that one line description it sounds like Alex Ross and Mark Waid just ripped off Alan Moore’s idea, wholesale. But if you actually read the proposal, they are really nothing alike.

One of the most interesting things about the proposal, actually, is reading a much less bitter Alan Moore. He seems very enthusiastic about the idea and even discusses merchandising opportunities at the end. I wonder what happened and why this story never saw the light of day. This was a year after Watchmen, Moore’s name had a lot of juice. Oh, well — c’est la vie.

I encourage everyone to click on the above link and give it a read (And do it before DC Comics makes that website pull it down. They don’t like the proposal being out there). Even though it’s just a proposal, it’s an Alan Moore proposal, so it reads more like a short story and it’s utterly fascinating. The first time I read it I got up from the computer, saddened that I would never get to read it in its full form.

If by some miracle, DC mended all its fences with Alan Moore and he decided he really wanted to write this mini-series then who should draw it? As much as I like Michael Lark and think he’s an incredible artist, I don’t know that he’s right for this story. He could be, but it needs someone who can do gritty street level and grandiose cosmic and I haven’t seen enough of the latter out of Lark to know how that would go.

As for Alan Moore not getting to write for Marvel or DC Comics — I don’t really think about it that much. I would much rather he wrote the stories that he wants to tell, free from constraint or restriction. I’d be more than happy with many more years of books like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Lost Girls.

Conor Kilpatrick


  1. For others, it means it’s two-for-one from 4pm to 6pm at the local alcohol emporium.

    Where is this said alcohol emporium, and why isn’t it in my neighborhood?!?! 2-for-1? Hellasweet.

    I was able to cobble together all of Starman about a year ago through trades and single issues. If it’s something you need to get right now, you could probably do it with a little luck and some searching. The single issues aren’t extravagantly priced – you should be able to get them slightly over cover (at those stores that still display variants in clamshell cases), but mostly can find a good majority in cutout bins. The only failing with the initial trades are they don’t collect a good portion of the Times Past issues, which are some of the best in the series. They’re kind of like the ancillary stuff in Watchmen – they aren’t integral to the main story, but do enrich it greatly.

    I’m stunned Conor (the ‘DC guy’) hasn’t read this yet – what’s with you, man? Get on the stick!! It is everything good about Robinson’s JSA relaunch and paved the way for a good amount of the current DC trend of ‘old is new’.

  2. James Robinson was just announced as the new Superman writer

  3. Josh, you’d pick Starman over Dark Knight Returns? Really? I’ve not read Starman, so I’m in no position to judge that statement, I was just genuinely wondering if it’s that good.

    Maybe I misread your answer, but if it’s that good I’d better get me some Starman!

  4. Starman is my favorite ongoing of all time, period. I have all the issues and even the Showcase issues about the Shade that are written by Robinson. I just wish the hardcovers that are being released were Absolute Editions. So yeah, Josh officially keeps it real.

  5. Thanks for answering my letter! Looks like i picked a good series to invest in next. Im looking forward to some great reads in the near future.

  6. Holly shit, Twilight of Heroes sounds like the greatest thing ever. I so wish I could see that completed, it has basically all of my favorite DC characters and such an amazing premise. I can see people saying it is similar to Kingdom Come but it is so much more. If I had three wishes one of them would definitely be to read that comic.

  7. The things that impressed me about Twilight was how amazing the prologue and epilogue with John Constantine sounded, in that even in all that time travel madness and knowing you could have your heart’s desire, you would let it go if for the chance of a better tomorrow. And it is incredibly well thought out, so even with my problems with the concept of the various Houses ruling a future earth, it illustrates how this came into being in light of the economical-political landscape. And anyone has to give him credit for tackling the ragnarok of the superhero community and trying to involve every major DC character.
    However, maybe I’m too sentimental but some of it just feels wrong. Do I really want to think of Billy Batson as a sexual deviant and wonder where the hell Mary Marvel Jr came from? Or Martian Manhunter as a cold-blooded assassin? The Green Lanterns, who I’m guessing includes Hal, John and Guy trying take over Earth because they fear what a world of super powered titans might accomplish? Don’t they have bad guys to fight? Maybe I’ve completely missed the point, and almost two decades had past when I read it, but what I love about Kingdom Come is how the characterisations of everyone, for me, match up with the Bruce, Clark, Diana etc I know and love and I don’t feel that way about Twilight.

  8. With so many changes taking place over the past couple of years, S.H.I.E.L.D. just isn’t the same organization we used to know.

  9. I love, love, loev Starman. It is one of my favorite series ever. The only problem is that I’ve only read up to issue #50 as finding some of the later issues in a consistent run is kind of difficult. I’m sooo looking forward to the Omnibus collections, and I hope that it collects all of the issues, not just the specific arcs like the trades.

  10. Here’s what I found interesting from Alan’s proposal:

    “I believe this is dangerous for a couple of reasons. Firstly, by establishing the precedent of altering time, you are establishing an unconscious context for all stories that take place in the future, as well as for those which took place (or rather didn’t take place) in the past. The readers of long standing, somewhere along the line, are going to have some slight feeling that all the stories that they followed avidly during their years of
    involvement with the book have been in some way invalidated, that all those countless plotlines weren’t leading to anything more than what is in some respects an arbitrary cut-off point. By extension, the readers of today might well be left with the sensation that the stories they are currently reading are of less significance or moment because, after all, at some point ten years in the future some comic book omnipotent, be it an editor or the Spectre, can go back in time and erase the whole slate, ready to start again. I myself felt something similar at the end of the first Superman film, when he turns time back to save Lois. It ruined the small but genuine enjoyment that I’d got from that first movie and destroyed all credibility for any of the following sequels as far as I was concerned.”

    Remind you of the debate regarding a certain Spider-man??