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Ask Chris #318: The Definitive Christmas Comic

Ask Chris #318, background art by Colleen Doran

Q: What is the definitive Christmas comic? — @Koltreg

A: "Definitive" is a pretty tricky requirement to meet. You have to find a comic that's not just definitively Christmas, with all that goes along with it, it has to be definitively comics, too --- and if you think it's difficult for people to agree on what Christmas is all about, just wait'll you try getting them to pin down one single issue that defines comic books as a medium. At least religion has centuries of scholarship; comics just has loudmouths writing columns about them on the Internet.

That said, I do think I've found one that's as close as we're going to get: 1989's Christmas With The Super-Heroes #2.

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Ask Chris #317: A Speed Force To Be Reckoned With

Ask Chris #317, background art by Mike Wieringo

Q: Can you help me make sense of how the Speed Force is supposed to work? -- @TheKize

A: For those of you who may not know, the Speed Force is a plot point from the pages of The Flash that was introduced back in the '90s, and ended up not just shaping how the Flash himself would work for the next two decades, but also united an entire corner of the DC Universe into a cohesive whole.

The thing is, while I've definitely read those comics and love 'em to pieces, I'm not sure I'm the best person to ask about how it works. You should probably just ask Mark Waid. Which is what I did.

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

Ask Chris #316: To Kill A Legend

Ask Chris #316: Background art by Dick Giordano

Q: Would you like to write a miniseries about the Batman from the end of "To Kill A Legend?" -- @TByrne75

A: Hm. Hmmmmmm. You know, as much time as I've spent thinking about Batman, this is one thing I've never actually considered.

When you get right down to it, the real question here is whether I think that particular take on Batman is strong enough on his own to carry a story, and on the surface, that seems like a pretty easy one to answer. There are enough alternate versions of Batman floating around that it's pretty clear that you can do almost anything with that character, from recasting him as a grumpy old man to just straight up making him a vampire. But the thing about "To Kill a Legend" that stands out, the thing that really defines that take on the character, is that he doesn't have any of the things that define the Batman we already know... except Batman himself.

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Ask Chris #315: Bat-Mite

Ask Chris #315, background art from Batman: The Brave And The Bold

Q: Bat-Mite: Silly or amazing? — @firehawk32

A: Yes.

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

Ask Chris #314: Does Batman Carry The Mark of Zorro?

Ask Chris #314, background art by Norm Breyfogle

Q: How essential is The Mark of Zorro to Batman's origin story? -- @TheKize

A: Strictly speaking, I don't think it's necessary. For one thing, while I'm actually not sure where it was introduced, the idea that young Bruce Wayne was watching The Mark of Zorro on the night his parents were murdered was at least canonized in stone in the opening pages of The Dark Knight Returns, which means that there were almost 50 years where Batman got along just fine without that element. On top of that, there have been plenty of Batman stories that go in a different direction, and it doesn't really hurt the mythology behind the character to make it something else.

But that said, The Mark of Zorro being the last thing Bruce Wayne sees before his world ends and he makes the choice to become Batman certainly makes it a whole lot better.

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Ask Chris #313: The Devilish Deals Of ‘Underworld Unleashed’

Ask Chris #313, background art by Howard Porter

Q: Did anyone actually come out improved from DC's Underworld Unleashed crossover? — @JordanLevells

A: Huh, Underworld Unleashed. There's one I haven't thought about in a while.

This week, though, I actually got a few questions about DC's neon-green, diabolical deal-making crossover, and I think I know the reason why. With Neron showing back up in the pages of Midnighter and Apollo, and with Halloween on the horizon bringing devils and haints to mind, there's no better time to look back on the series where a bunch of heroes and villains literally sold their souls, and nobody actually got what they wanted out of it.

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Ask Chris #312: Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Superman

Ask Chris #312, background art by Jon Bogdanove and Dennis Janke

Q: Are superheroes inextricably tied to their alter-ego day jobs? For example, does Clark Kent have to be a journalist, or Hal Jordan a pilot? — @Chan_180

A:For all the questions about whether the Secret Identity is a concept that can still provide drama within the superhero genre or something that just sticks around as an outdated trope from the Golden Age that was handed down to comics by Emma Orczy and the Scarlet Pimpernel, the idea of getting rid of the day job is something that's rarely discussed, probably because it hasn't actually happened all that often. Let's face it: If you're a superhero, you're a whole lot more likely to literally come back from the dead than you are to start a new career once you're in your thirties.

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Filed Under: , , Category: Ask Chris, Opinion

Ask Chris #311: The Many Deaths Of The DC Universe

Ask Chris #311, background art by Pop Mhan

Q: Can you explain the difference between the Black Racer and the Black Flash and why DC needs both? - @CoreyInformin

A: Oh, this one's easy. Black Racer has skis. All right, cool, see y'all next week!

Okay, fine, it's a little more complicated than that. Despite the obvious difference in appearance and the fact that one of those characters tends to only show up around the Flash, they're actually pretty similar characters, both in terms of powers and in terms of what they represent. In the DC Universe, they're both aspects of capital-D Death, and I don't just think DC needs both of them, I think it could probably use a whole lot more.

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Ask Chris #310: Starting The Silver Age

Ask Chris #310, background art by  Carmine Infantino

Q: Since the Silver Age is now defined mostly by aesthetics, not superhero popularity, is Showcase #4 still a good starting point? -- @morganwick

A: Dividing the history of comic books into a series of ages is a pretty easy thing to do, but picking out one single issue that serves as the hard, immutable dividing line can be a tricky proposition. Showcase #4, the first appearance of Barry Allen as the Flash, is the one that everyone seems to have always agreed on as the "Official Start Date of the Silver Age," and it's about as good a dividing line as you're likely to find outside of Action Comics #1.

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Filed Under: , , Category: Ask Chris, Opinion

Ask Chris #309: The Nuclear Ravaged World Needed A Hero, But What It Got Was ‘Hex’ [Sci-Fi Week]

Ask Chris #308, background art by Mark Texeira

Q: Remember Hex, where Jonah Hex was DC's Mad Max, and where Batman lives in the Statue of Liberty? What are your thoughts on that? -- @jomomma75

A: Hex is legitimately one of the most interesting comics of all time, largely because it's one of the greatest examples of how weird comics can get when they're built on the laws of the superhero genre. It's also not very good.

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