Ask Chris #12: Worst Place To Live and Comics For Kids
Here at ComicsAlliance, we value our readership and are always open to what the masses of Internet readers have to say. That's why we've given Senior Writer Chris Sims the
punishment pleasure of stepping into the grand tradition of the Answer Man as he responds to your reader questions!
Q: What's the worst comics universe to live in?
DC - the place where recently a chemical bomb man was dropped on Blüdhaven, Darkseid ripped apart time and space and enslaved humanity, the dead came back to life to rip people hearts out, a big chunk of Star City blew up, and Supermen from space came to earth and killed most world leaders by ripping them apart.
Marvel - The place where recently Solider Field was blew up during a Bears' game, Asgard was destroyed and the its rubble fell on Broxton, Oklahoma, you have the remains of the Sentry floating in the Sun, and a hole in deep space leading to another universe that is Anti-Life!
I'm sure there are many more horrible scenarios I can't think of at the moment. --Edward Suarez, via email
A: I'm not sure it's as much a matter of which universe you're in as much as where you are in that universe. If you're in the Marvel or DC Universe version of, say, Albuquerque, it's probably not going to be all that bad. The neighbor kid down the block might be a mutant or you might see Doomsday plowing through town every now and then, but generally, you're not going to have a bad time for super-heroic reasons. The problem comes when you go to the places that the comics are actually set in.
Gotham City, for instance, should by all rights have a population of around twenty. There is no reason whatsoever for people to live there, even when you factor in the radness of sharing a ZIP code with Batman--which you'd actually only do if you lived across the river in Bristol, because even Batman himself knows not to actually live there.
Even if you managed to get through the two--that's TWO--plagues and the 1998 earthquake, there's still the very real day-to-day possibility of being Joker Gassed, stabbed with an umbrella sword, dosed with fear toxin, or--depending on the political climate of the day--straight up poisoned by the KGBeast.
I imagine the insurance premiums are through the roof.And then there's the job situation. God help you if you're a museum curator, especially if you're dealing with anything Egyptian (like, for instance, priceless cat statues), because you might as well just leave the door unlocked and get out of town while you can. Same goes if you work in the lucrative crossword-puzzle industry, hold a teaching position at a university, perform any sort of scientific research, have a twin, or are named "Alice." In fact, now that I think of it, Gotham's only growth industry is the treatment of criminal psychotics, and really, you don't want to work at Arkham, no matter how great the bennies are.
No wonder so many Gothamites turn to crime.
At first glance, Metropolis seems like a much safer bet, and while it's far more likely that you'll be rescued rather than have your murder investigated, it brings a whole new set of problems.
First of all, there's a severe public safety issue. I mean, I've never met someone who has fallen out of one helicopter, while Metropolitans have an average of three per month--though admittedly, that's an average thrown off quite a bit by Lois Lane, who plunges towards death on a semi-hourly basis.
But really, that just points to a bigger problem: Are there no safety railings in the entire city? I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that Lex Luthor bought off OSHA for the entire reason so that he could cut corners in his ongoing corporate war against Superman, but really, that's just going to end up costing him more in the long run with the cost of death benefits and training new employees to replace the ones who took the wrong step off the 77th floor.
Oh, and there was also that time he tried to blow up the entire city with missiles and then blamed it on his clone so he could run for President. So yeah, pretty unstable, even before you throw in the fact that reality itself gets popped like Bubble Yum every 90 days.
If I had to pick a comic book city to live in, though, I'd probably go with Marvel's New York. Yes, there's the distinct possibility that you're going to get trampled by the Juggernaut, mistakenly pulped by a Sentinel, thrown off a bridge by a flying businessman in a Halloween costume or erased from the timestream by Mephisto, but it's not that bad, and the sheer concentration of super-heroes has to mean an increase in public safety. Just make sure to follow these rules:
1. Avoid Matt Murdock. And whatever you do, do not, under any circumstances, date him.
2. Try to get a job at the Baxter Building. Surprisingly safe, even though there's a portal to the negative zone in the 44th floor and it occasionally gets blasted into space.
3. If you see Spider-Man, take a picture! The Daily Bugle pays top dollar for those, and their regular photog, Peter Parker, is notoriously unreliable. Plus, all his shots look like he just put a timer on it and set it on a ledge somewhere.
So there you go: I'm coming down on the side of the Marvel Universe, if only because (with the exception of the early '90s) there aren't mass-murdering asylum escapees just wandering through the streets in ice cream trucks.
Of course, DC's New York has significantly less danger and also features Power Girl... So maybe we should call it a tie.
Q: Need to get my 6-year-old nephew hooked on comics. How awesome are Marvel Adventures? Anyone else publish comics for kids? --ninjarobot5000
A: So awesome!
The Marvel Adventures line has been unfailingly top notch since it rose out of the ashes of Marvel's previous all-ages effort, largely because they've gotten incredibly talented people to work on them. I've gone on before (and will again, I'm sure) about Jeff Parker's run on the MA "Avengers" title, and for good reason. In addition to boasting great artists like Cameron Stewart, his run includes highlights like the Avengers all getting turned into MODOKs and weirding out the populace, "Ego the Loving Planet" macking on Earth, and a baseball game against Galactus. These are all fantasitc, fun ideas that just probably wouldn't have flown in the mainstream titles, but they make great stories.
Lately, though, it's Paul Tobin who's been knocking it out of the park, specifically with his run on "Spider-Man." Starting with "Marvel Adventures Spider-Man" #53 with Mateo Lolli and continuing through the recent relaunch, they are absolutely perfect Spider-Man stories, introducing great new characters and using old characters (like Emma Frost) in great new ways. It's well worth picking up.
As for other titles, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out Landry Walker and Eric Jones's absolutely fantastic "Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade," which is just pure fun from beginning to end. Like the Marvel Adventures books, one of its core strengths lies in doing new things with existing concepts, like the Bizarro version of Linda Lee (Belinda Zee), who ends up being the super-popular Mean Girl.
It's solidly entertaining stuff that is genuinely fun for all ages, and well worth picking up in trade.
Beyond those, Boom! Studios has a kids' line, and while I haven't read a lot of their stuff, they've got Mark Waid's "Incredibles" (which is very fun) and they recently republished one of my favorite all-ages stories, "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck." They split it into two hardcover volumes, so it's more expensive now than it was when Gemstone released it as a softcover, but it's still well worth it, and does a great job with the Ducks (although Don Rosa's explanatory text pieces will probably be boring to a youngster).
If you're willing to dive into back issue bins, the Kelley Puckett/Mike Parobeck "Batman Adventures" (which tied into "Batman: The Animated Series") aren't just great kids' comics, they're some of the best Batman stories of all time, and Mark Millar's run as writer on "Superman Adventures" were the best Superman comics of the '90s and, as far as I'm concerned, a high point of Millar's career.
There's a ton of other great stuff out there too, so ask your local shop, and check to see if they have a section for all ages titles. And if they don't, find a new shop.
And now, some quick hits:
Q: Which ongoing series right now needs dinosaurs? --franzferdinand2
A: All of them.
Q: Degeneration X or the nWo? --MarkOfZurEnArrh
A: Ironically, I am D-X fa-fa-fa-fa life.
Q: Best Beastie Boys video?
Q: Your status as a Batmanologist is established. Do you have a degree in your 2nd favorite character, Spider-Man? --phillyradiogeek
A: I actually minored in JJJournalism.
That's all we've got for this week, but if you'd like to have your question answered on ComicsAlliance, tag it on twitter with "#askchris" or send us an email with "Ask Chris" in the subject line!