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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What made the Ostrander/Yale Suicide Squad work and others not? John Ostrander and Kim Yale, along with Luke McDonnell, Geof Isherwood, Karl Kesel and other artists. They were creators who were absolutely at the top of their game over the course of Squad's 66-issue run, and you can't really get away from the fact that when Ostrander came back for stuff like Raise the Flag and the Blackest Night one-shot, those books were immediately right back in step with some of the best stories of the run. They were, hands down, one of the best creative teams in the history of superhero comics.
But at the same time, I don't think that's the whole story. When you get right down to it, Suicide Squad wasn't just a product of its time, it was the kind of comic that could only really happen in 1987.
Q: What's the big deal with Usagi Yojimbo, anyway? - @cwidtz
A: If you're not already familiar with Usagi Yojimbo, I can see why it might be a hard sell. On paper, it just sounds weird. I mean, it's a long-running samurai story where all the characters are cute furry animals, and that's just the start of things. It's exhaustively researched and set in feudal Japan, frequently using actual historical events as the centerpieces of its stories, but also ghosts and magic are completely real, it's cartoonish and frequently very funny with great buddy comedy bits and a ton of slapstick humor, but it's also very serious and violent, with the highest on-panel body count of any comic I read, and everyone who really loves it won't shut up about how great the word balloons are when people die. Even if you're willing to believe that it's very good, there's a lot there that sounds like it'd be hard to get into.
But since you asked, here's the big deal with Usagi Yojimbo: Stan Sakai's been doing this comic for over thirty years, and he hasn't done a bad issue yet.
Q: Do you think Darkseid deserves to be considered the ultimate bad guy of the DC Universe? What are his achievements? -- @Lionel_Leal
A: I don't want to turn this into "Ask Chris About Jack Kirby's Fourth World" --- as opposed to my usual strategy of spending an entire week talking about the moral significance of Batman's utility belt or whatever --- but over the last few years, Darkseid has been a more prominent fixture of the DC Universe than any other time in his forty-year history. I think it probably started with how he was treated on Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League, but just in the past three years we've seen him as the villain that launched the New 52, and the villain who's probably going to show up in a movie about the Justice League at some point. So with all due respect, LL, it's not really a matter of "Darkseid deserves."
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