Q: Is Garfield: Alone the best horror story in comics? -- @discord_inc
A: Even though I usually try to do an entire month of spooky questions every October, this is, I believe, the first time an installment of Ask Chris has ever been posted on Halloween, and it wasn't surprising that a lot of readers asked me about stories that scared me, or what I thought was the single most frightening comic of all time. To be honest, it's not a difficult question to answer, either. The comics I love are full of scary stuff, from the grotesque horror of Alan Moore and Rick Veitch's swamp thing to the horrific imagery that you'd get in manga like The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.
But if you want to see something really scary? No question. There are six days of Garfield from 1989 that'll turn your hair white.
Q: How spooky/goofy is the Power Rangers Zeo episode “It Came From Angel Grove”? -- @aleams
A: I didn't realize it until I went back to check, but I've written about Power Rangers Halloween episodes two years in a row in my spoooooky October Ask Chris columns. At this point, that's about the closest thing that ComicsAlliance has to an actual tradition, like carving a Jack O'Lantern that then attempts to get paid to write about superhero shows from the '90s.
So let's dive into it, but I'll tell you right now, folks: I'm going to go ahead and guess that this thing ends up leaning pretty heavily towards the "goofy" side of your proposed Spooky/Goofy axis.
Q: What major superhero can be most effectively dropped into a horror plot without causing it to stop being horror? -- @KaosExMachina
A: Y'know, I don't wanna make any of the other 215 people who have Asked Chris feel bad or anything, but this is easily one of my favorite questions that I've ever gotten. It's probably obvious by now, but I have a lot of fun thinking about different genre conventions and how they work, and this is the sort of thing that you can play around with forever, and that you can ask your friends and get all sorts of different answers and justifications, something that I actually did while I was getting ready to write this article. But it's also a really difficult one to answer.
It's like you said: When you add superheroes to horror stories, they tend to stop being horror stories.
Q: The new Klarion series started this week, and aside from Seven Soldiers and Batman: the Animated Series, I know little about him. What's his deal? -- @T_Lawson
A: Huh. Well this one oughtta be pretty easy, T: He's a Witch Boy. He's a Boy who is also a Witch. That's pretty much all there is to it; Kirby wasn't really all that into subtlety. Now who wants to go get lunch?
[Editor's Note: Chris, we've talked about this.]
Okay, fine. There actually is a little more to it than that, but to be honest, Klarion is less interesting to me on his own than he is in the context of Kirby's other work. He's a Witch Boy, a strange and sinister creature rooted completely in horror, happily existing in a world built for superheroes, and that's actually pretty cool.
Q: Aside from the amazing cover for Superman #180, what's the best DC Comics story featuring Dracula? -- @brendan42
A: October is the month where I always find myself thinking about Dracula even more than I usually do, and just the other day I was thinking about how weird it is that there's never been a really good story about Batman fighting Dracula. They've tried it a couple of times, sure -- including a direct-to-video movie that takes a premise like Batman vs. Dracula and ends up committing the cardinal sin of being boring -- but it never really takes. Once I got your question, though, I started thinking about it, and I realized that there aren't many good stories about any DC Comics character fighting Dracula.
It turns out that dude just doesn't show up a whole lot in the DC Universe. And that's pretty weird.
Q: Just re-read Gotham Central and it got me wondering, what's the deal with the Spectre? -- @BatIssues
A: The Spectre was originally created in 1940 by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily, but it's worth noting that some sources -- including legendary editor Roy Thomas, who's about as big a fan of DC's Golden Age titles as you're likely to find -- give Siegel full credit for the whole concept, and that's the first interesting point. After all, Siegel is, as you may have heard, the co-creator of arguably the most enduring and significant character in comics history, who's known for his incredible physical strength: Slam Bradley.
Q: What's the deal with Batman's non-Catwoman, non-justice love interests? Vicki Vale, Zatanna, Wonder Woman, etc? -- @superseth64
A: Just a few days ago, I was talking to Greg Rucka and he mentioned Denny O'Neil's rule about Batman not sleeping with anyone, because if he does, then he sleeps with everyone. It's an interesting way to put that, and I'm inclined to agree with O'Neil on that point, but you can't deny that over the past 75 years, the Caped Crusader has had plenty of romantic entanglements, almost all of which, as you might expect, have ended in a spectacularly awful fashion.
But the thing is, as much as they don't work from a romantic perspective, which is the nature of dramatic tension, they don't really work from a storytelling perspective, either.
Q: We know your favorite anti-heroes, sidekicks, and villains, but who's your favorite minor villain, and why? -- @fizzbang
A: Y'know, the way you phrase that question makes it sound like I've written about everything except who my favorite superhero is, and... that doesn't sound right. I'm a little too lazy to go and look, but it feels like surely at some point in the last 210 columns, I probably would've mentioned that. Oh well, I'm sure I'll probably get to talking about Batman at some point.
Anyway, back to the question. Favorite minor villains? OH MY GOD, IT'S THE ENFORCERS I LOVE THE ENFORCERS SO MUCH LET'S TALK ABOUT FANCY DAN FOR THE NEXT THREE HOURS OH MY GOD.
Q: Given all that could have gone wrong, what about the concept and execution makes Batman Beyond work so well? -- @caseyjustice
A: Something must be going around these days, because I've seen a lot of conversations about Batman Beyond popping up recently. I even got into a little discussion with Jordans Gibson and Witt about a few places where -- at least in my opinion -- the flaws in the show, which I otherwise love, became too big to ignore. That's actually one of the things that made me want to answer this question for this week's column. The other was how you phrased it.
See, I've never considered the premise of Batman Beyond to be something that could've easily gone wrong, but you're absolutely right in classifying it as such. To me, it's always been more about how they built that show by taking the two best ideas in superhero comics and putting them together.
The thing is, that should've been a pretty difficult marriage -- and most of those flaws that I was talking about show up for that exact reason.
A: Here's the least shocking thing you're going to read this week: I love Cassandra Cain. That probably goes without saying, given that she's a relatively obscure member of the Batman family that made her debut when I was a teenager, but really, it goes deeper than that. She came out of the gate with a compelling edge, some phenomenally solid storytelling, and a hook for drama that put her in contrast to the rest of Gotham's assorted heroes and hangers-on, while still feeling like a natural compliment to the other characters. And then, less than a decade later, she'd gone from being a new character with an incredible amount of potential to an also-ran who only really shows up to fill space in crossovers -- something that almost never happens to characters in the Batman family, especially when they've got 70+ solo issues under their utility belts.
So what happened? Man, I can't even tell you, I just read the darn things. But folks, it got really weird there at the end.
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