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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

Ask Chris #287: The Death And Return Of Superman

Ask Chris #287, background art by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding

Q: I’m reading The Death and Return of Superman, and it's way better than I've remembered. Why do people hate it if it works? And am I crazy to say this was the last time DC did right trying to contemporize Superman? -- @robotfrom1984

A: It seems like a lot of people have been working their way through the Death of Superman over the past few weeks, which probably has a lot to do with DC recently putting the entire saga out in four gigantic paperbacks. I even spent the last week reading through it for the first time myself --- I'd read Death, of course, but I never made it through the rest of the story to get the whole weird picture.

That said, I'm not sure that it's actually all that hated. I mean, sure, it's easy to dismiss it for its excesses, but it's a hugely successful story that, for better or worse, defined Superman for a decade. And like you said, when you read it all at once, you can see that it does a whole lot that goes way beyond just having Superman get punched to death by a bone monster.

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Ask Chris #286: Beyond the DC Animated Universe

Ask Chris #286, background art by Mike Parobeck

Q: My DC Universe is mostly the DC Animated Universe. If I love Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice, what DC comics should I pick up?

A: Now this is a tough one. For a lot of readers --- including me, a kid who already liked Batman a heck of a lot but was completely unprepared to have his mind blown when Batman: The Animated Series hit the airwaves in 1992 --- DC's animated projects have been the gateway to the comics. But there's a pretty big problem with that, too: the comics that form the "proper" DC Universe of the comics don't just have a different tone, they're built with a completely different structure that puts the focus on two completely different aspects of sequential storytelling

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Ask Chris #285: Serious Lack of Chill, Or Do We Need To Know Who Killed The Waynes?

Ask Chris #285, background art by Jim Aparo

Q: Should there even be a Joe Chill, or does having it be an anonymous crook work better? -- @DavidMann95

A:If you've read this column before, it probably won't surprise you to find out that I've spent an awful lot of time thinking about Joe Chill, and to be honest, it makes sense that I would. Even beyond his role as the mugger who fired two shots in Crime Alley and left Bruce Wayne a very angry orphan, he's been a huge part of the Batman mythos over the past 76 years, weaving his way in and out of the story in some pretty bizarre and unexpected ways.

But I'm not sure that he actually makes it better.

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

Ask Chris #284: Aztek, The Ultimate Man

Ask Chris #284, background art by N. Steven Harris

Q: What's the deal with Aztek? -- @LOTR_Dan

A: Well, this one's easy: Aztek is a hero for the new millennium -- if he lives that long! And, you know, I don't want to spoil the ending for you or anything, but he actually does, even if it's kind of on a technicality. I mean, when you get right down to it, "a hero for about three months into the 21st century before he explodes in space and is never seen again" probably wouldn't fit on the cover.

Trust me, though. It's better than it sounds.

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Ask Elle #284: What if Aquaman is Actually the Best?

aquaman_featured

Q: Why are there so many people defending Aquaman and not any other unpopular super-hero? — @Ettore_Costa

A: First off, I don’t entirely agree that other unpopular superheroes don’t have their share of defenders. There’s a loud minority of people who really, really love Cyclops, for example, and can defend him all day long. My own favorite super-hero is Boom Boom, and all you have to say to bait me into an argument is, “But isn’t she really boring except in that one Warren Ellis comic where she’s an idiot?” There are probably even people who really like Red Tornado (I have never met these people).

But each maligned hero has their particular problem, and that colors how they’re defended as much as it does how they’re attacked. Aquaman’s been around since 1941. He’s one of five DC heroes who never stopped appearing in comics between the Golden Age and the Silver Age. He’s a founding member of the Justice League. And what do people say when the criticize Aquaman? “He’s dumb because all he does is talk to fish.”

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Filed Under: Category: April Fools' Day, Ask Chris, DC, Opinion

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