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Ask Chris #221: Superman Takes Down The Clan Of The Fiery Cross

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: What's your favorite example of a comic having an effect on the real world? -- @jamesdeleech

A: You know, a lot of the questions I get for this column, at least the ones I tend to like answering, are the ones that are open to interpretation, and it's fun to pick and choose stories to talk about that back up a particular idea that I have about how something works. This one, though, is one of those questions that's about as close to having one definitive answer as is possible. When you talk about those great times when comics changed the real world, there's really only one choice.

It's when Stetson Kennedy teamed up with Superman to bring down the Ku Klux Klan.

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Ask Chris #220: Catwoman And The Villainous Love Interest

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: What are your thoughts on Catwoman and how her role has evolved over time? It's unique, isn't it? -- @spudsfan

A: Here's a warning that you're about to read way too many words on what looks like a simple question: Yes and no.

It's not going to surprise anyone when i say that I love Catwoman as a character, and a lot of that comes from how adaptable she is. In her long history, she's been one of the few characters who's been able to transition from villain to hero and back again, and she has a relationship with Batman that has allowed for both characters to grow in ways that no other character has, or even could. But at the same time, she's probably the single most successful example of a cliché that bugs me to no end: The Villainous Love Interest.

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Filed Under: , Category: Ask Chris, DC, Opinion

Ask Chris #219: If You Haven’t Read ‘Jack Staff’ What Are You Even Doing With Your Life?

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: What's the best modern comics run that not enough people have read or talk about? -- @talestoenrage

A: It's a sad fact of the comics industry, but there are a ton of great stories out there that never really get the recognition that they deserve, to the point where every time something new and exciting comes out, I always end up thinking something along the lines of "they better not Thor: The Mighty Avenger this one up." But while there are comics that get canceled too soon and long-running epics like Usagi Yojimbo that never seem to hog the spotlight, there's only one that really comes to mind when I start thinking about the truly buried treasures.

If you want to talk about the absolute best of the best of the under-appreciated comics, then you want to talk about Paul Grist's Jack Staff.

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Filed Under: , , Category: Ask Chris, Indie, Opinion

Ask Chris #218: The Scariest Comic Of All Time Is A ‘Garfield’ Story From 1989

Ask Chris #218, art by Erica Henderson

Q: Is Garfield: Alone the best horror story in comics? -- @discord_inc

A: Even though I usually try to do an entire month of spooky questions every October, this is, I believe, the first time an installment of Ask Chris has ever been posted on Halloween, and it wasn't surprising that a lot of readers asked me about stories that scared me, or what I thought was the single most frightening comic of all time. To be honest, it's not a difficult question to answer, either. The comics I love are full of scary stuff, from the grotesque horror of Alan Moore and Rick Veitch's swamp thing to the horrific imagery that you'd get in manga like The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.

But if you want to see something really scary? No question. There are six days of Garfield from 1989 that'll turn your hair white.

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Ask Chris #217: The Third Annual Power Rangers Halloween Spooktacular

Ask Chris #217, art by Erica Henderson

Q: How spooky/goofy is the Power Rangers Zeo episode “It Came From Angel Grove”? -- @aleams

A: I didn't realize it until I went back to check, but I've written about Power Rangers Halloween episodes two years in a row in my spoooooky October Ask Chris columns. At this point, that's about the closest thing that ComicsAlliance has to an actual tradition, like carving a Jack O'Lantern that then attempts to get paid to write about superhero shows from the '90s.

So let's dive into it, but I'll tell you right now, folks: I'm going to go ahead and guess that this thing ends up leaning pretty heavily towards the "goofy" side of your proposed Spooky/Goofy axis.

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Ask Chris #216: When Do Horror Stories Become Superhero Stories?

Ask Chris #216, art by Erica Henderson

Q: What major superhero can be most effectively dropped into a horror plot without causing it to stop being horror? -- @KaosExMachina

A: Y'know, I don't wanna make any of the other 215 people who have Asked Chris feel bad or anything, but this is easily one of my favorite questions that I've ever gotten. It's probably obvious by now, but I have a lot of fun thinking about different genre conventions and how they work, and this is the sort of thing that you can play around with forever, and that you can ask your friends and get all sorts of different answers and justifications, something that I actually did while I was getting ready to write this article. But it's also a really difficult one to answer.

It's like you said: When you add superheroes to horror stories, they tend to stop being horror stories.

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Filed Under: , , , Category: Ask Chris, Opinion

Ask Chris #215: Klarion The Witch Boy And The Kirby Approach To Horror

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: The new Klarion series started this week, and aside from Seven Soldiers and Batman: the Animated Series, I know little about him. What's his deal? -- @T_Lawson

A: Huh. Well this one oughtta be pretty easy, T: He's a Witch Boy. He's a Boy who is also a Witch. That's pretty much all there is to it; Kirby wasn't really all that into subtlety. Now who wants to go get lunch?

[Editor's Note: Chris, we've talked about this.]

Okay, fine. There actually is a little more to it than that, but to be honest, Klarion is less interesting to me on his own than he is in the context of Kirby's other work. He's a Witch Boy, a strange and sinister creature rooted completely in horror, happily existing in a world built for superheroes, and that's actually pretty cool.

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Ask Chris #214: DC’s Dracula Comics

Ask Chris #214, art by Erica Henderson

Q: Aside from the amazing cover for Superman #180, what's the best DC Comics story featuring Dracula? -- @brendan42

A: October is the month where I always find myself thinking about Dracula even more than I usually do, and just the other day I was thinking about how weird it is that there's never been a really good story about Batman fighting Dracula. They've tried it a couple of times, sure -- including a direct-to-video movie that takes a premise like Batman vs. Dracula and ends up committing the cardinal sin of being boring -- but it never really takes. Once I got your question, though, I started thinking about it, and I realized that there aren't many good stories about any DC Comics character fighting Dracula.

It turns out that dude just doesn't show up a whole lot in the DC Universe. And that's pretty weird.

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Filed Under: , , , , Category: Ask Chris, DC, Opinion

Ask Chris #213: A Brief History Of The Wrath Of God

Ask Chris #213: The Spectre, art by Erica Henderson

Q: Just re-read Gotham Central and it got me wondering, what's the deal with the Spectre? -- @BatIssues

A: The Spectre was originally created in 1940 by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily, but it's worth noting that some sources -- including legendary editor Roy Thomas, who's about as big a fan of DC's Golden Age titles as you're likely to find -- give Siegel full credit for the whole concept, and that's the first interesting point. After all, Siegel is, as you may have heard, the co-creator of arguably the most enduring and significant character in comics history, who's known for his incredible physical strength: Slam Bradley.

Oh, and also Superman, I guess.

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Ask Chris #212: The Many Loves Of Batman

Ask Chris #212 art by Erica Henderson

Q: What's the deal with Batman's non-Catwoman, non-justice love interests? Vicki Vale, Zatanna, Wonder Woman, etc? -- @superseth64

A: Just a few days ago, I was talking to Greg Rucka and he mentioned Denny O'Neil's rule about Batman not sleeping with anyone, because if he does, then he sleeps with everyone. It's an interesting way to put that, and I'm inclined to agree with O'Neil on that point, but you can't deny that over the past 75 years, the Caped Crusader has had plenty of romantic entanglements, almost all of which, as you might expect, have ended in a spectacularly awful fashion.

But the thing is, as much as they don't work from a romantic perspective, which is the nature of dramatic tension, they don't really work from a storytelling perspective, either.

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