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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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Ask Chris #250: Misinformation About Batman

Background art: Batman: Second Chances, DC Comics

Q: As a Batmanologist, what misinformation about Batman do you wish you could set everyone straight on? -- @daveexmachina

A: There's one misconception about Batman that bugs me the most, because it's simultaneously the most persistent, the most ridiculous from a storytelling standpoint, and the easiest to disprove: The idea that Bruce Wayne doesn't actually do anything to help Gotham City, and that Batman is just a rich man selfishly and violently lashing out at the lower class.

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

Ask Chris #249: In Defense Of Go-Busters

Ask Chris #249, background image from Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters

Q: Are there any missed opportunities in the way Super Sentai has been adapted for America? - @franzferdinand2

A: When you consider how weird it is that Power Rangers even exists in the form that it does, as this adaptation that, more often than not, has almost nothing in common with its source material other than a focus on problems that can only be solved with giant robot dinosaurs, it gets pretty difficult to figure out things that they could've done differently. I mean, when you get right down to it, they did almost everything they could've done, from stitching together pieces of multiple series into one show to throwing out everything except the robot fights and rebuilding the plot from scratch, all the way to trying to stick as close to the source as they could.

But that said, there's one big missed opportunity that stands out, and it's something that happened just this year: They didn't do an American adaptation of Go-Busters.

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Ask Chris #248: The Zero Effect; Is Mister Freeze the Best Example of Villain Reinvention?

Ask Chris #248, background art by Bruce Timm

Q: Has there ever been a more notable or successful reinvention of a villain than the transition from Mr. Zero to Mister Freeze? -- @spacetimeboss

A: Friend, you are not kidding about Mr. Freeze. As much as heroes and villains change over the years, and as much as they have to change to stay relevant as hundreds of creators work on their ongoing stories, I honestly don't know if there's any bad guy who made a change that dramatic, both in terms of theme and quality. He goes from being a one-note crook with an ice gun to one of the most compelling and tragic figures in Batman's entire Rogues Gallery. I'd even go as far as saying that aside from Two-Face, he's the easiest of the major villains to sympathize with --- and he probably works in a whole lot more stories besides.

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Ask Chris #247: The True Story Of American Independence

Ask Chris #247, Herbie art by Ogden Whitney

Q: For the holiday, what have been the best appearances of the founding fathers in comics? -- @rj_white

A. There is one story of the dawn of American Independence that comes to mind: The time that Herbie Popnecker teamed up with George Washington's sentient teeth and started up the Revolutionary War.

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Ask Chris #246: Sympathy For The Joker

Ask Chris #246, Joker art by Andy Kubert

Q: I feel like The Joker is a very unsympathetic villain. Does he have any sympathetic qualities or moments? -- @DonNohVarr

A: Huh. Well, I've got some good news for you, Don: I'm pretty sure that you're not supposed to find the Joker to be a very sympathetic villain. I mean, he's literally an evil clown that murders people with knives and poison, and that may actually be the least sympathetic sequence of words in the entire English language.

But that actually does raise a pretty interesting question: If there's really nothing sympathetic about the Joker, then does that actually make him a better villain than characters that you do sympathize with? Unsurprisingly, I'd argue that it does, but let's see if we can't figure out why.

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

Ask Chris #245: Superman vs. Shazam

Ask Chris #245, art by Howard Porter

Q: You've mentioned it a few times now; what makes the idea of Captain Marvel an even better idea than Superman to you? -- @dispenserotruth

A: The thing about Superman and Captain Marvel --- or Shazam, as the kids are calling him these days --- is that you can't really talk about one without talking about the other. I mean, you can, but the histories of those two characters and how they evolved over the years are so tied up together, both on and off the page, that they couldn't really have happened the way they did about without each other.

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

Ask Chris #244: The Hal Needham Expanded Universe

Ask Chris #244, Megaforce Movie Poster Art

Q: Which 80s action film should be licensed as an ongoing comic next? --- @kingimpulse

A: When you get right down to it, '80s action movie nostalgia in comics probably hit critical mass back in 2006, when IDW published that Scarface sequel, based on the premise that Tony Montana did not actually die from snorting his body weight in cocaine, taking a shotgun blast directly to the back, and falling twenty feet into a shallow pool filled with irony. That thing was next-level bonkers, but at the same time, the fact that I'm not actually making that up means that there's really no limit on what you can do when you're trying to bring this stuff back for comics.

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Ask Chris #243: Underused Characters

Ask Chris #243, background art by Terry Beatty

Q: What are some concepts in comics you feel were woefully underused? - @daveexmachina

A: There are definitely things out there that never quite got the attention that it seems like they deserve. There are cool concepts that hit at the wrong time and tweaks to the status quo that were swept away in favor of going back to basics, and there's one that I can think of pretty easily that seems like it should've been the next big thing and got dropped like a hot potato instead. And believe it or not, I'm not talking about Wild Dog.

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Ask Chris #242: The Worst Place In The World

Ask Chris #242, background art by Dave Johnson

Q: Which city in comics would be the worst to live in? In Gotham there's nutcases with random crimes, but New York and Metropolis attract trouble on a your-city-will-be-killed-at-once scale. -- @rj_white

A: That's the thing about living in a fictional universe, RJ: Generally speaking, it is an absolutely terrible idea. I mean, our world may have its share of pretty awful troubles, but at least you can rest reasonably assured that you won't have to deal with being poisoned into a smiley death by a murderous clown just because you wanted to go check out the museum's new exhibit on original folios of Shakespeare's comedies, or got bonked on the head by a dude in a lime green suit and suspended over a vat of boiling acid because you were really good at crossword puzzles.

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