Q: You said something a few days ago about the genius of Judge Dredd's design--can you talk more about this? -- @lifeinsuper8
A: Can I! Regular readers of Ask Chris might recalll that it was only a couple of weeks ago that I, along with artist Erica Henderson, got into a discussion of what makes a great "iconic" superhero costume. You can flip back through that one if you'd like, but the short version is that the best costumes in comics tend to be simple and well-defined, getting across a lot of information with a very streamlined look. Generally speaking, the more unnecessary gimmicks you add to a suit, the more distracting it gets, and the less it says about the character, and I think that holds true across the board when it comes to superheroes.
But then you get to Judge Dredd, and all those rules go flying straight into the Iso-Cubes, where they're locked up and never, ever let out.
Q:What is the best redemption scene or storyline in comics? -- @yellfeat
A: It's funny, I was just talking about why there aren't a whole lot of stories where villains become heroes in the latest episode of Here's The Thing, and how they almost never work out the way you want them to. That might've been my pessimism creeping in, because there are certainly examples of it working really well -- one viewer on Twitter mentioned the Pied Piper from Flash -- but I blame the wording. A face turn and a redemption aren't quite the same thing, and if you're looking for the single best example of the latter, there's not even a question about which one it is.
Skurge stood alone at Gjallerbru, man. And that was enough.
Q: This "Connections Theory of Comics" is like *literally* all you talk about on Twitter. Can you please just explain it? -- @bigredrobot
A: Hey man, I think you're exaggerating just a little. I mean, anyone who actually reads my Twitter account knows that the whole Connections thing comes in at a distant third to commentary on whatever Power Rangers shows I'm watching that week and arguments about the definition of the word "barbecue." That said, I'll admit that it's something I have been talking about a lot lately. Connections is, after all, my favorite television show of all time. Well, except or The Prisoner, and that one episode of Brave and the Bold where Batman becomes a Dracula and fights the JLI, but I don't think those have affected the ways that I think about comics like Connections has.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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