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Ask Chris #260: Love, Exciting And New; On the Dramatics of Superhero Love Interests

Ask Chris #260, background art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye

Q: Why do people feel a need to keep inventing new love interests for pretty much every major superhero? -- @krinsbez

A: I'm not saying that I am a person who has no OTPs --- ever since I was a kid, I've felt pretty strongly about Peter Parker and Mary Jane, or Superman and Lois, or Batman and the very concept of justice --- but I'm also not opposed to creating a new love interest for an established character. I mean, there are definitely cases where it's done poorly and where a new character is introduced at the expense of one that already exists, but that's not a problem with significant others so much as it is with new characters in general --- the same thing happens to villains whenever new Bigger Bads show up and prove how dangerous they are by thrashing an existing bad guy.

But really, I'm not sure the question should be why the creation of a new love interest happens as often as it does. It a lot more surprising that it doesn't happen more often.

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Filed Under: Category: Ask Chris, Opinion

Ask Chris #259: How I Learned To Love ‘Achewood’

Background art by Chris Onstad

Q: What in the world is so great about Achewood? I've tried it a couple times , and it's always seemed average at best. -- @DylanJBurnett

A: Believe it or not, Dylan, there was a time when I was just like you. Much as I love it now, Chris Onstad's Achewood didn't click with me the first time I read it, or the second. Or the third or fourth, for that matter, and every time one of my friends would respond to a joke about Airwolf or the Smiths with a link to the strip, I'd wonder why anyone liked this comic about the weird dog running around in his underwear.

Then one day it just clicked. It might have been when I finally realized that Ray was a cat who was running around in his underwear, and it might've been when I finally sat down to read a complete story, but it all fell into place, and I came away firmly standing behind the idea that The Great Outdoor Fight is the single best comic of the 21st century.

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

Ask Chris #258: Why ‘Superman: The Animated Series’ Is The Underappreciated Gem Of The DCAU

Background art from Superman: The Animated Series

Q: How do you feel about Superman: The Animated Series? A faithful adaptation that distills the Superman mythos the same way as Batman: TAS? -- @Trilby64

A: Superman: The Animated Series is great, which is one of the reasons that it's so weird that nobody ever really talks about how great it is. Even here at ComicsAlliance, when I was looking for things to dive into for an in-depth episode guide, it never even came up for consideration --- but to be honest, a lot of that was because there's not a whole lot to make fun of in that series. It synthesized one of the best versions of Superman ever brought to any medium, and it did it with an incredible style that was well done on pretty much every level.

There's just one big problem: It's not Batman.

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Ask Chris #257: The Head-Canonical Batman Family

Background art by Gil Kane

Q: Someone asked me this one, so now you have to do it: who, in your "head" "canon," do you consider to be the necessary members of the Bat-family? - Benito Cereno, via Tumblr

A: Finally! I've been waiting for like five years for someone to ask me a question that would allow me to go into a needlessly in-depth explanation of how some part of Batman worked, and now, after all these years, it has happened for the very first time.

As for this particular question, it's an interesting one, and if you'd like to see Benito's answer to it, it's up on his Tumblr. If you do go look at the list, though, you'll see the problem in trying to answer it. After 75 years of collecting sidekicks, butlers, teammates and assorted hangers-on, Batman has a whole lot of people in his extended family. And if I had my way, I'd keep 'em all.

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Ask Chris #256: The Inherent Goofiness Of Future Space Teens

Ask Chris #256: Future Space Teens, background art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye

Q: Do you think it's possible for the Legion of Super-Heroes to work today, or are the trappings too corny? -- @jdkrach

A: My first instinct on this one is to say yes, and not just because the Legion was, for a long time, one of my absolute favorite comics. The entire superhero genre is, after all, full of corny ideas that have become timeless, right down to the fact that the entire thing is built around the idea of a very nice man who came from space and fools everyone into thinking that he's a very nice man from Kansas by wearing a pair of glasses.

But the Legion represents an entirely different question. It's not just the optimism of a bright future and names like "Lightning Lad" that can come off as corny, it's the entire universe that allowed them to exist in the first place --- and for a team that's been rebooted more times than just about anyone else, they sure do seem to have a hard time keeping up.

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Filed Under: Category: Ask Chris, DC, Opinion

Ask Chris #255: In Defense Of Snapper Carr

Ask Chris #255, background art by Rags Morales

Q: Why does Jimmy Olsen work so well as Superman's Pal when Snapper Carr doesn't work as the Justice League's? -- @luckyrevenant

A: I honestly hadn't considered it until I saw this question, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that you're right. Snapper Carr, the finger-snapping teenage mascot of the Justice League from back when it actually wasn't that unusual for the Justice League to have things like teenage mascots, really is the direct descendant of Jimmy Olsen --- at least from a character standpoint. They fill that same role, the kid who gets to hang out with all your favorite superheroes so that you too can imagine yourself hanging with Batman and Superman. And yet, while Jimmy ranks at #3 in my illustrious and immutable list of the greatest comic book characters of all time, Snapper is one of the most ignored and forgotten characters of the entire Silver Age.

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Ask Chris #254: What’s So Great About The Silver Age?

Ask Chris #254, background art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye

Q: Why was the Silver Age awesome? -- @sackobooks

A: Never before in the history of this column has there been such a complicated, open-ended question that could be answered with a picture of Superman with a lion head. I mean, let's be honest with each other here: That pretty much covers it, and if you can look at Superman, cursed with the head of the most noble of beasts, lamenting about how his girlfriend must forever be condemned to date a lion-man now, and not think that it's at least a little bit awesome, then there's not a whole lot I'm going to be able to tell you to change your mind.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not going to try.

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Ask Chris #253: Access the Amalgam Age Of Comics

Ask Chris #253, background art by Cary Nord

Q: I found Bruce Wayne: Agent of SHIELD in a box of 50-cent comics. Great idea or terrible one? Fun new direction or misread of the character? -- @Keith_Frady

A: Oh, that one was a great idea, but not for the reasons you might think. See, Keith, what you have stumbled across is neither a misread of the character nor is it a bold new direction. You've just found yourself a piece of the Amalgam Age of Comics.

Originally published in 1996 and 1997, the Amalgam books were quite possibly the strangest mainstream superhero project that ever happened: A not-quite-series of 24 comics that mashed up Marvel and DC characters into weirdly amalgamated versions that were actually produced by Marvel and DC, and that frequently made absolutely no sense at all. And, as you might expect from the fact that this all happened when I was 14, I loved it.

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Ask Chris #252: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Jason Todd?

Ask Chris #252: Jason Todd, background art by Matt Wagner

Q: Does Jason Todd/Red Hood belong in the Batman family? Should he be wearing a Bat symbol on his chest? -- @Doubting_Tom

A: I doubt it's going to surprise anyone reading this to find out that I have some pretty complicated feelings about pretty much everyone who has ever been called "Robin," and Jason Todd's no exception. Really, though, there's a pretty simple answer to this one: No, I don't think he should be part of the Batman family --- the active Batman family, anyway --- because Jason Todd oughtta be dead. If nothing else, we didn't collectively dial those 1-900 numbers ten thousand times to make that happen just for some retcon to come along twenty years later and bilk us out of fifty cents a call.

If, however, Jason Todd has to be alive, and it's become pretty clear over the past decade that somebody definitely thinks he does, well... that's where things start to get complicated.

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

Ask Chris #251: President Lex

Ask Chris #251, background art by Glenn Orbik

Q: Can you explain how Lex Luthor was elected President? Donald Trump might need some pointers. -- @ASaltzberg

A: President Lex! Now there's a story that I haven't thought about in a while - and just for context, I'm someone who thinks about Harold, the hunchbacked mechanic that Batman used to keep in his basement to fix up the Batmobile, at least once a week. Looking back, it seems like a very weird story, an ultimately forgettable new direction for a villain that never really went anywhere, but at the time, it definitely felt like it was a big deal.

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