Q: I'm interested in Hitman as a character in the larger DCU, and "the area of Gotham so bad that Batman doesn't go there," because Batman is a dude that has paid multiple visits to a planet literally called Apokolips. -- @kingimpulse
A: For those of you who haven't been following the War Rocket Ajax podcast, Matt and I have been spending the entirety of 2014 ranking every single comic book story ever on a master list from the best (Amazing Spider-Man #33) to the worst (Identity Crisis). Last week, we finally got around to Hitman, and while it eventually fell between The Dark Knight Returns and Impulse #3, the conversation that we had about it involved me mentioning that Tommy Monaghan lived in a section of Gotham called "the Cauldron," which was so thoroughly lawless that they didn't even really notice when No Man's Land swept through.
There's a pretty obvious reason why it went down that way, of course, but the more I thought about your question, the more I realized that it's the core of Hitman's complicated relationship with the universe where it's set, which is one of the best things about that comic.
Q: G.I. Joe: Where do I even begin with their myriad continuities? -- @Eric_R_Wilson
A: I've spent the past few weeks catching up on recent G.I. Joe comics with a stack of paperbacks that I picked up at HeroesCon, and while I've been really interested in seeing all the changes and new characters that set the IDW books apart from the original Marvel series, I'm still pretty surprised by this question. I mean, yes, there's a lot of G.I. Joe out there and a lot of different takes on that core idea, but when you get right down to it, it's no more complicated than your average superhero comic.
Which is to say that it's actually very complicated. Especially when the ninjas start getting involved.
Q: Aside from Superman and Captain America what hero is the most fitting representation of The United States? -- @white_dolomite
A: You know, just before I sat down to write this, I was reading some Judge Dredd comics and thinking about how fascinating the idea of Dredd as this distinctly, explicitly American icon, covered in eagles and flags and badges and guns and riding on a motorcycle that is also covered in eagles, flags, badges and guns is when you consider that he's a view of America created by people who aren't Americans. There's a lot that goes along with that, and it's fun to think about when you're reading through those stories and figuring out what defines them.
But when you get down to it, that doesn't mean that he's the best representation of the good ol' USA. Assuming you mean "hero" as in "protagonist" and not just as in "masked crimefighter," then the answer's easy. The quintessentially American comic book character is Scrooge McDuck.
Q: Chris, what Conan comic is best in life? -- @chudleycannons
A: Folks, I am going to be 100% real with you for a second here: I love Conan the Barbarian. It's in my blood -- long before I was born, Conan was my parents' favorite comic, and while I wouldn't really call my mom and dad "geeks" in the traditional sense, they were definitely people who were really stoked about buying Marvel Magazines with Frank Frazetta art on the cover so they could read about dudes in loincloths chopping each other up with broadswords. These were, I remind you, the people who raised me, which probably explains a lot.
But while I might've been hardwired into loving the character, I didn't really get into reading it myself until I was an adult, and I can tell you that as far as I'm concerned, there is a clear, no-contest winner as far as the best Conan story. It's not even close. It's the one where Conan gets into a fistfight with a gorilla that thinks it's a wizard.
Q: Since this is Ask Chris #200, what's the best 200th issue in comics? -- @therealdealkern
A: You know, Kern, I'm glad you asked. 200 is a really weird number, especially in comics. It should be a pretty huge deal -- as alert reader Charlotte pointed out in her own question this week, once a comic racks up 200 issues, it's pretty much going to be around forever -- but it doesn't quite have the ring of #100, and even hitting that third century mark seems way more important than breezing through the two. Maybe it's that it feels like a foregone conclusion, that once you've passed that first milestone, the second feels like more of an inevitability than an achievement. But at the same time, there's definitely one issue that sticks out as being everything you want out of an anniversary comic, and that's the subject of this week's column.
I mean, come on. You didn't really think I was going to answer 100 questions again, did you?
This week marks the 200th installment of ComicsAlliance's weekly Ask Chris column, in which senior writer Chris Sims tackles reader questions that send him delving into comics history, the metaphors at the heart of his favorite characters that have developed over decades and, every now and then, straight up fan-fiction.
To mark the occasion, we've gone back through the archives (and taken a quick poll of readers) to sort out the absolute best of the past 200 columns, covering topics like the secular humanism at the heart of Scooby-Doo, the complicated chronology of Super Mario Bros., the 75-year competition between Marvel and DC, and more. And Batman. So, so much Batman.
Q: Why do you think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has survived and thrived for 30 years? -- @ballsmonkey
A: I have a whole lot of affection for the TMNT, and I don't think that's just because I was the perfect age to drag my parents to Pizza Hut so that I could get (and subsequently wear out) a VHS tape of the one where they fought the giant robot rats. Don't get me wrong, the nostalgia's a huge part of it, but it's not something that's unique to my age group. The fact is, if you've been a kid at any time in the past three decades, you've more than likely grown up loving those characters just as much as I did. And that in itself, the staying power that this strange franchise created by two dudes in a kitchen, is interesting.
The thing is, even though I tend to think of TMNT as the archetypical unlikely success, the more I think about it the less I think that it actually was all that unlikely.
Q: Is it ever worth it to change comics canon to match the canon from other media? -- @firehawk32
A: This is a really interesting question for me, because I always think of myself as someone who doesn't really get excited about superheroes showing up in movies or TV. I mean, obviously, that's not actually true -- I mean, I cowrote what was essentially a full-length novel about The Dark Knight, Batman: The Animated Series ranks alongside oxygen and pizza as my favorite thngs in the universe, I could not have been more stoked about seeing Arnim Zola The Bio Fanatic in two major Hollywood films, and there will never be a time when I'm not still mad about Man of Steel. But at the same time, and at the risk of sounding like even more of a hipster elitist than usual, those aren't the "real" versions of those charactesr to me. I like TV and movies just fine, but when it comes to the superhero genre, I'm in it for the comics. Everything else is just a bonus.
That said, what's considered "canon" in comics changes literally all the time, and often for a lot worse reasons than because there's something out there that's resonating with a mass audience.
Q: Why is DC One Million the best crossover ever? -- @SerialWordsmith
A: Whenever I'm asked about my favorite DC crossover, the one that I always go with is Invasion!, and I think there's a pretty good argument you can make. It's done in three oversized issues, so it's quick but still feels like an epic story since they're all 80-page giants, it has a great use of some often-neglected parts of DC's cosmic side, and there are pretty fantastic tie-ins from creators doing career-best work on books like Suicide Squad and Animal Man, and it really did add something interesting to the DC Universe.
Then someone mentions DC One Million and I realize that yeah, I'm wr-- I'm mista-- I'm misremembering things, because it's definitely the best. I mean, it's not just the best DC crossover, but it's probably the single best crossover in all of superhero comics.
Q: You said something a few days ago about the genius of Judge Dredd's design--can you talk more about this? -- @lifeinsuper8
A: Can I! Regular readers of Ask Chris might recalll that it was only a couple of weeks ago that I, along with artist Erica Henderson, got into a discussion of what makes a great "iconic" superhero costume. You can flip back through that one if you'd like, but the short version is that the best costumes in comics tend to be simple and well-defined, getting across a lot of information with a very streamlined look. Generally speaking, the more unnecessary gimmicks you add to a suit, the more distracting it gets, and the less it says about the character, and I think that holds true across the board when it comes to superheroes.
But then you get to Judge Dredd, and all those rules go flying straight into the Iso-Cubes, where they're locked up and never, ever let out.
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