Contact Us

Ask Chris

Ask Chris #194: Building A Better Superhero Costume

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: What do you think is the essence of making a great iconic costume? -- @thenoirguy

A: With comics being a visual medium and all, especially one that's dominated by a genre marked by its own goofy language of symbolism and iconography, I think about superhero costumes pretty often. I mean, I cannot count the number of times I have written the words "Batman's Batman-Shaped Kneepads" over the past three years, but that said, I'll admit that I might not be the best person to answer this question. As Erica Henderson (artist of Subatomic Party Girls and the Ask Chris logo above) pointed out, I'm not an artist. Then she went ahead and answered the question, telling me that "It's pretty simple, iconic is something that's quick and easy to recognize. that's why nobody talks about Cable's costume."

Listen, Erica, I don't know what circles you run in, but I talk about Cable's costume a lot.

Read More

Ask Chris #193: Let’s Pitch A Wonder Woman Movie

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: I am sick of hearing that a Wonder Woman movie is too hard. I know how I would do it, but what's your pitch for a Wonder Woman film? -- @Bibphile78

A: A few weeks ago, I probably would've backed off of this question, for two simple reasons. The first is that I was pretty sure my specific tastes don't really match up with what goes into a big-budget Hollywood film, but that was before we knew Marvel was spending a ton of money on a live-action arena show involving dirtbikes and skateboard tricks, and that they'd cast someone who once played Velma in a Scooby-Doo movie to play Aja in a big-budget Jem and the Holograms picture. At this point? I'm pretty sure I've somehow ended up being the target market for mass media, and believe me, I'm as surprised about that as you are. So what the hell, let's pitch a Wonder Woman movie.

Oh, right, the second reason. Well, that one's a little tougher to get around. As I've occasionally mentioned before, I don't actually like Wonder Woman. Like, at all. That might complicate things.

Read More

Ask Chris #192: ‘Power Rangers RPM’ Is The Darkest Timeline

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: What was so good about Power Rangers RPM? -- @ykarps

A: That's right, everyone: After deciding on a whim last year to sit down and watch every single episode of Power Rangers ever produced, all seven hundred and seventy-five (and counting), and last week, I finally did it when I made it through 2009's Power Rangers RPM. I'd already seen Samurai, and I'd been watching Megaforce as it aired, so that was it. And I wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.

But while I was watching it, I came to the conclusion that as much as I like Samurai and Jungle Fury and Ninja Storm -- in which a trio of teens give up on hiding their Kiwi accents about six episodes in -- there's not even a contest about which series is the best. RPM wins that argument hands down... and I kind of hate to say that.

Read More

Ask Chris #191: Dr. Doom, The Gold Standard Of Comic Book Villainy

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Why is Doctor Doom the gold standard of supervillains? -- @franzferdinand2

A: In case you missed it a few weeks back, I wrote a column about the differences between Lex Luthor and the Joker, and mentioned that while those are two characters I like an awful lot, Dr. Doom is far and away the gold standard of supervillainy. He's compelling, he's sinister, he's got a great design that's lasted, virtually unchanged, for 50 years, and he can be dropped into almost any type of story and work beautifully. In short, he's the single greatest villain in superhero comics history.

Well, unless you count Bob Kane, but that's a whole other thing.

Read More

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

Ask Chris #190: The Best First Three Comic Pages Ever

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Supposedly it takes three pages to hook a reader before they drop off, so what are the best opening three pages in a comic? -- @shutupadiran

A: Huh. I don't think it's going to surprise anyone to find out that I'm a dude who thinks a lot about how comic books are structured and what you can do within that structure, but I've never heard that bit about the first three pages being where you have to hook the reader. It makes sense, though -- when you look at it, those first three pages, along with the cover, form a distinct storytelling unit, and it's the first thing you see when you pick up and pop open a comic.

Thinking back on comics that I love, there's a really distinct pattern there. I like stuff that builds to a big last page just fine, but the ones that I tend to rave about when those first issues hit always open up strong. It's like the first five seconds of a song. Some of them might build to a crescendo as they go along, but when you have something like the famous beat from "Be My Baby" or the opening harmonics from "I Get Around," you know instantly that you've got something.

Read More

Ask Chris #189: Batman’s 75th Anniversary

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: What does Batman's 75th Anniversary mean to you? -- Caleb, via e-mail

A: That's a tough question. I mean, as you have probably noticed if you've spent more than five or six seconds browsing ComicsAlliance, I've written about Batman before. I've written about Batman before today. That's how much it happens. But to be honest, I don't really think of things in terms of big anniversaries as much as I think of them as slow, ongoing processes that see those characters change. It's the long-term view that I like, where you take a look back and see what stays consistent to form the core of the character, rather than trying to fit it all in at once.

So really, I guess that's as good a place to go with this as any. Batman's 75th Anniversary (with his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939) marks three quarters of a century of Batman's evolution as a character, from those pretty sketchy beginnings all the way to today, refining what works best to make the character. And really, it's that evolution, compressed into 75 years by hundreds of creators and corporate interests working to refine the character, is pretty fascinating to think about.

Read More

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

Ask Chris #188: Lex Luthor And The Joker

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Who do you find more psychologically interesting, the Joker or Lex Luthor? -- Jordan, via email

A: You know, it's weird. As much as you see Superman and Batman together in stories where they're continually contrasted against each other, full of endlessly terrible first-person narration about how "Clark likes pancakes because he can't understand what it means to be vulnerable" but "Bruce always told me Alfred makes the best French toast, he has so much trouble trusting others" or whatever, their arch-nemeses don't often get compared with each other in the same way. They team up from time to time, sure, but usually the focus is just on their common goal of murdering the good guys, so you don't get too much there. That said, I like both of those characters a lot, and after thinking about it, I've come to the conclusion that as the World's Foremost Batmanologist, as someone who has written extensively about the Joker and his relationship with Batman, it's definitely Lex Luthor.

Boom. Y'all just got swerved.

Read More

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

Ask Chris #187: Archie Gets Weird

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: What's the weirdest thing Archie Comics has ever done, and why was it awesome? -- @darkmaple

A: It almost goes without saying at this point, but Archie's marketing strategy over the past few years has been nothing short of brilliant. All the stunts they've been pulling -- and I mean that in the most positive way possible -- have been designed to shake up the public perception of just what Archie Comics are. Most readers, even if they're casual fans of the actual Archie comics, tend to have this mental picture of Riverdale that's built around those eight-page gag strips where Archie has to run back and forth between two dates, and for good reason. That's been the core of the line for the past 70 years, so when they announce something like Lena Dunham dropping by to write a story or an adult-oriented horror comic where Archie's classmates are devouring each other's flesh, it immediately makes people wonder how it's going to work in the peaceful, idyllic world of Archie Comics.

But here's the thing: They've always been weird out there in Riverdale. They're weird as Hell.

Read More

Ask Chris #186: The Strange Rise Of The X-Men

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Why do you think the X-Men didn't find their audience until two decades after they were created? -- @godofthunder851

A: I've got a minor quibble with your timing in this question -- it was more like 12 or 15 years, really -- but you've got an interesting point there. I think most comics readers are well aware of that piece of trivia about how the X-Men were about to get the axe before Giant Size X-Men #1 breathed new life into the franchise and set them on the path of becoming what was probably the single most popular and influential franchise of the '80s and '90s, and that's not really how things usually work. In comics, you tend to either come out of the gate to massive, enduring popularity (like Batman or Spider-Man), come out strong and then fade away for whatever reason (like, sadly, Shazam!), or just sort of flounder in the midcard. It's rare that something sticks around on the edge of being canceled for a solid decade before it finds its footing, and nobody bounced back harder than Marvel's Merry Mutants.

But really, what you're asking here is two separate questions: Why didn't the X-Men take off in 1963, and why did they in 1975? So let's look at the history and see if we can't figure it out.

Read More

Ask Chris #185: Superheroes Of The Squared Circle

Deadpool Team-Up #888, Marvel Comics

Q: Who is the best wrestler in Marvel or DC? -- @Mike_Zeidler

A: I'll be honest with you, folks: Over the past week, I have pretty much done nothing but watch the new WWE Network for five straight days, so it was a foregone conclusion that this week's column was going to be about pro wrestling. It was either this, or a lengthy examination of what the tag team tournament from Starrcade '89: Future Shock had in common with Secret Wars II, and I don't think any of us want to sit through that.

Now, I've written about comics that were about pro wrestling in the past, but if we're talking about which mainstream superheroes would fare best inside the squared circle, well, there's certainly an obvious answer.

Read More

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://comicsalliance.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on Comics Alliance quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here

Please solve this simple math problem to prove that you are a real person.

Register on Comics Alliance quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!