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Ask Chris #9: Most Likely To Succeed

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: Who is the most successful character created at the big two in the last 10 years? Jessica Jones maybe? Success doesn’t mean money, by the way. I’m defining success as potential longevity, popularity, place and profile in shared universe. –FatAsteroid

A: I think you’re on the right track with Jessica Jones. “Alias” was unquestionably the best quote-unquote “super-hero” comic that Brian Bendis has ever done, and despite the fact that to a lot of people, its defining moment (and the moment that in a lot of ways set its starring character down the path she’s on today) was comics’ second-most infamous anal sex scene, it’s going to go down as a highlight of his career.

Throw in the fact that she’s one of Bendis’s “pet” characters (to the point where “Alias” was retroactively made a part of Marvel Universe continuity after starting out with MAX as something clearly meant to function on its own), and that he’s the writer who has largely held the reins of the company over the past decade, and she gets that potential longevity and popularity you talked about almost by default.

Which isn’t to diminish her as a character; if anything, it shows that she’s got the adaptability that a character needs to thrive. She was good in a a gritty, semi-”realistic” crime story, she was good (if a bit overused) as a supporting character in the Avengers, and now that she’s going back into the costume next month, I imagine we’ll get to see how she fares as an actual costumed super-hero, too. It’s that sort of flexibility that allows for a character to have lasting longevity — Batman, for instance, works in almost any milieu, from crime noir to talking-telepathic-super-hero-gorilla super-heroics –although she’ll always be the foul-mouthed private eye to me.And really, she’s about the only one there is at the Big Two; it’s taken Renee Montoya since 1992 to get where she is today, after all, and Batwoman’s still new enough that as great as her stories have been and as much as I want her to stay around, there’s no guarantee of it. Which leads to something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, and that’s that with the way the industry is set up, there’s a pretty good chance that there’s never going to be another character like Batman, or Superman, or even Wolverine. They’re too entrenched, and the industry (and the fans) are set up to support them. Why spend space and promotion on a newer character when the fans already love what you’ve got?

But by the same token, there will be another Hellboy. There will be another “Walking Dead.” There will be another “Scott Pilgrim.” Not because those comics are somehow less than their more mainstream counterparts, but because unlike the Big Two, independent comics are all about finding the next big thing. Which is why in addition to Jessica Jones, my vote for the most successful character of the past decade has got to go to Invincible.

Not just for the character himself — although “What if Spider-Man was Superman’s kid?” is one of those brilliantly simple ideas that everyone and their brother kicked themselves for not thinking up first — but because of the work that Robert Kirkman has done in fleshing out his universe. He’s created dozens of super-heroes and alien worlds and, thanks to the success that has allowed the book to run under his command for 5+ years, he’s ended up with something that he could hand off to another writer, watching it continue indefinitely. Heck, he’s even expanded his corner of the empire to include other creators by getting Benito Cereno and Nate Bellegarde to do the two “Atom Eve” miniseries, and Cereno’s cowriting the upcoming spin-off book as well.

It’s got legs to it, and in today’s market, being able to create something that stands that strongly on its own is a monumental achievement.

Q: What is a better Batman story, “Robin Dies at Dawn” or “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge”? DavidUzumeri

A: Oh David. As my frequent cowriter here at ComicsAlliance (plug plug plug), you know full well that asking me to choose between favorite Batman stories is like asking me to pick a favorite child — and I don’t even have kids. Still, since I actually happen to have both of those stories sitting on my desk right now, I’ll do my best.

“The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” (from “Batman” #251″) is frequently (and deservedly) put into Best Of Collections. It was done at the height of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ careers, and–along with “The Laughing Fish”–it’s one of the stories that defined the modern age Joker. It’s thrilling, absolutely beautiful, and contains definitive images of both the Joker…

…and Batman himself:

“Robin Dies at Dawn,” however–a Silver Age story that inspired a big chunk of Grant Morrison’s current run on “Batman” that involves Batman hallucinating that he went into space to fight a living statue on an alien planet and then having hallucinatory flashbacks before conquering them–not only features this line…

…it also includes a scene where Batman dresses up like a Gorilla and is menaced by tentacles.

Man. Sorry, David. That’s just too close to call.

And now, the quick hits:

Q: Which incarnation of Firestorm is your favorite, and why?bitterandrew

A: I actually like the Ronnie/Professor Stein version about as much as I like the Jason Rusch/Whoever version pretty much equally (I wasn’t crazy about Mikhail Arkadin and the less said about Ronnie’s solo adventures with Extreme Justice, the better), although the edge probably goes to Jason, as he was in the issue where they managed to explicitly lay out exactly how the Firestorm matrix works while still being fun and interesting.

Q: Is there a way for individual comic readers to break the “Big Bang Theory” stereotype in the public mind? StoopidTallKid

A: Sure: Don’t act like that. Don’t define yourself by your interests (says the professional comics blogger), and don’t use them as an excuse to not learn how to interact with people. There’s nothing wrong with being smart, nerdy, and having niche interests, but from what I’ve seen of that abysmal show, those guys are pompous and inconsiderate, and embody the worst superiority complexes of the nerd set. So, you know, do the opposite. Take the advice Patrick Swayze handed down in “Road House” and be nice.


Q: How unexpected and awesome was the last page of Batman & Robin 12? Please use a scale of 1-10 Ultimate Warriors.

A:

Q: Who’s the best looking man in comics? teamsmithy

A: I’m not sure how I got to be the arbiter of all this, but while there are plenty of actually super-handsome comics creators (John Cassaday, Georges Jeanty, reigning Marvel Hunk of the Month Paolo Rivera, and as Smithy himself suggested, Derek Kirk Kim, and of course, Handsome Geoff Johns) but I’m going to have to go with Let’s Be Friends Again artist (and CA contributor) Chris Haley (at left)…

as he (and writer Curt Franklin, at right) is the only webcomic creator I’m aware of that actually look better in person than the way he draws himself.

See you at HeroesCon, handsome!

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!

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