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Ask Chris #297: You Are… Lone Wolf!

Ask Chris #297, background art from LONE WOLF: FLIGHT FROM THE DARK

Q: You've talked about playing Pathfinder recently. How long have you been playing RPGs and how did you start? - @daveexmachina

A: I've been up front about my deep and abiding love of the Gelatinous Cube and the kind of gridded-out world of dungeons that have to be cleaned by semi-sentient Jell-O blocks that dissolve everything except magic swords that makes such a thing possible, but I actually came to tabletop games a lot later than most of the other stuff that I'm into. I was in my early 20s before I really got into RPGs in earnest, and I think a lot of that has to do with how much was available when I was a kid. Comics were pretty easy to find, but for RPGs? You need expensive books, dice, and, y'know, friends, and all of those things were in short supply when I was a kid.

But long before I actually got to dragons and dungeons --- not necessarily in that order --- there was one thing that sparked a fascination with pen-and-paper roleplaying. And his name... was Lone Wolf.

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Ask Chris #296: Starman And The Challenge Of Holding Up

Ask Chris #296, background art by Tony Harris

Q: How does a (great) but very 90's comic like Starman hold up today, given its dated references like Chris Isaak? -- @david_wolkin

A: What's that? You want me to write a thousand words about that one panel from Starman where Jack Knight compares himself to Chris Isaak because for some reason he (and James Robinson, I guess) thought he was the single coolest person in the world in 1994, and ended up with what might be the most ridiculous piece of dialogue of the entire decade?

Can do, dear reader. Can do.

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Ask Chris #295: The Walking Complication That Is Composite Superman

Ask Chris #295, background art by Cut Swan

Q: Composite Superman: good idea or great idea? -- @aleams

So here's the thing: There's a certain kind of brilliance in comics that comes from simplicity. It's the kind of brilliance that you see in a character like Superman, where you know what he's about just by looking at him, where you only need to explain the minor details that make up his personality, because the broad strokes of who he is and what he does are right there from the very first time you see him. Composite Superman, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of that. He's counterintuitive, weirdly designed and completely ridiculous --- and somehow, some way, that's exactly what makes him great.

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Ask Chris #295: Rocketed To Earth From The Dying Planet Krypton

Ask Chris #295, background art by John Byrne

Q: What's your Superman preference regarding the Byrne Kryptonian Gestation Matrix versus being "rocketed to Earth as an infant?" -- @charlotteofoz

A: In the grand scheme of things, even I have to admit that this seems like a pretty minor distincton. That said, if there's one thing we've all learned over the past 300 installments of this column, it's that there are few things in this world that I love more than obsessing over what the most minor details mean for the overarching story that makes up a character like Superman.

I mean, really, if I can somehow wring a thousand words out of whether or not Batman's costume should have a yellow oval on his chest, we can probably get into a pretty good discussion of whether or not Superman should've actually been born on Earth.

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Filed Under: , , Category: Ask Chris, DC

Ask Chris #293: Batman’s Death Race To Oblivion!

Ask Chris #293, background image via Batman: the Brave and the Bold

Q: How would Batman fare in the world of Wacky Races? -- @sprucetonberry

A: I'm going to go go ahead and guess that this question was inspired by this week's release of DC's new Wacky Raceland comic, in which the classic road race cartoon was reimagined for the grim darkness of a post-apocalyptic future. With that being the case, I have to admit that the comic was a little disappointing for me. As much as I love that premise and the idea of going super over-the-top with it --- and as much as there were scenes in there that captured exactly what I want out of a story like that --- the whole thing left me a little cold.

But like most things in this fallen world of ours, I'm pretty sure it could be improved with the addition of Batman.

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Ask Chris #292: Staffing Gotham Academy

Ask Chris #292, background art by Karl Kerschl

Q: What villains do you want to see working at Gotham Academy and what are their positions? - @comicsfan4life

A: There are a lot of things to love about Gotham Academy, but as someone who spends more time thinking about D-List Batman villains than he does thinking about... well, pretty much anything else in the world, my favorite thing about it is how many obscure, forgotten and otherwise ignored Batman characters have managed to make it into that book as part of the staff. A school setting does, after all, require teachers, and when you have 70 years of goofball villains and oddball supporting characters to draw from, you might as well have a bunch of weirdos who may or may not be planning thematic bank robberies teaching your classes.

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Ask Chris #291: Triangle Numbers

Ask Chris #291, background art by Ed McGuinness

Q: What in God's name were Triangle Numbers? -- @RavenWorks

A: Oh, well this one'e easy. They were numbers inside little triangles. Hence the name.

Okay, so maybe there's a little bit more to it than that, but not much. From 1991 to 2002, the Superman books had two separate numbers on the cover: The issue number, which would tell you which monthly issue of Superman or Action Comics you were reading, and the Triangle Number, which would tell you which part of the ongoing saga that was running through all the Superman titles for a given year. And believe it or not, putting two completely different numbers on the cover of your comic book --- three, if you count the date - was actually meant to make things less complicated.

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Ask Chris #290: Picking A Starter Pokemon

Ask Chris #290, background art via Pokemon

Q: Which starter are you going to choose in Pokemon Sun and Moon, and why? -- @MikePogdor

A: You know, there's a part of me that really wants to hold off and weigh all the available options equally before I make this decision. Even if I'm not the kind of person to calculate who's going to give me the best type advantage when it comes time to battle my way through the gym leaders and teach the Elite Four a brutal lesson in humility, I should at least wait to see what their final evolutions --- you know, the ones I'm going to be stuck with through about 90% of the game --- are going to be before I commit.

But like pretty much everyone else, I've already decided. I mean, there could be one of these things that literally evolved into a hundred dollar bill and somehow popped off the screen and directly into my wallet, but if that thing didn't start out life as a tiny little bird wearing a leaf as a bowtie, then folks, I am never going to know about it.

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Ask Chris #289: The Best Of All Possible Turtles

Ask Chris #289, background art by Kevin Eastman

Q: Childhood nostalgia aside who is, once and for all, the best Turtle from TMNT? -- @drawesome86

A: The thing about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is that, more than almost any other team in comics, they're less of a group and more of a single unit. As much as the four Turtles might have individual personalities and quirks --- and, y'know, favorite colors that make them nice and toyetic --- it's hard to imagine ever really separating them out into four distinct characters that don't have an equal place within that unit. So on one level, asking to pick out the best one is like handing me a slice of pizza and asking if I prefer the cheese, the sauce, the crust or the toppings. It's all one delicious thing.

But on another level, I really like ranking things, so I think we can probably get you an answer. And honestly, I'm pretty sure what you're actually asking here is "Who's better: Michelangelo or Raphael?" because we all know it ain't gonna be Leo or Donnie.

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Ask Chris #288: The Boy Wonder

Ask Chris #288, background art by Norm Breyfogle

Q: Beyond the whole "kid's POV" character thing, why do we love Robin so much? We should be horrified by his existence. -- @TheDwightSteel

A: All right, first of all, if you're going to be horrified by the kind of child endangerment that's necessary for Batman to take a kid sidekick along to fight murder clowns and crossword robberies, then I have some bad news for you about pretty much every other adventure story that involves children. The sheer number of criminal charges over Scrooge McDuck's dubious employment of his nephews would keep Duckburg's courts busy for a decade, and Hogwarts? That place is a deathtrap just based on the idea of sending ten year-olds onto staircases that move of their own volition, let alone the part where they've got magic death snake hiding in the plumbing. And if we ever get around to Pokémon, well... You're probably going to want to sit down for that one.

But really, that danger ends up being a pretty big part of what makes Robin work, although there's a little more to it than that.

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

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