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Ask Chris #251: President Lex

Ask Chris #251, background art by Glenn Orbik

Q: Can you explain how Lex Luthor was elected President? Donald Trump might need some pointers. -- @ASaltzberg

A: President Lex! Now there's a story that I haven't thought about in a while - and just for context, I'm someone who thinks about Harold, the hunchbacked mechanic that Batman used to keep in his basement to fix up the Batmobile, at least once a week. Looking back, it seems like a very weird story, an ultimately forgettable new direction for a villain that never really went anywhere, but at the time, it definitely felt like it was a big deal.

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Thumbnail: For Phil Jimenez, More is Always More

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There’s an anecdote told in a trade for DC’s weekly series 52. In an issue halfway through the run, Phil Jimenez was given a page breakdown from Keith Giffen that asked him to draw seven statues of fallen members of the JLA as part of the background, as a visual reminder of all that the team had lost over the years.

Jimenez, taking a look at this breakdown, presumably nodded to himself that this was a good idea, and included every single deceased member of the JLA who had ever existed in the scene instead.

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War Comes Home in Vaughan & Skroce’s Allegorical ‘We Stand On Guard’

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Brian K. Vaughan’s newest series, We Stand On Guard with artist Steve Skroce, returns the writer to the realm of political allegory in the blunt tradition of George Orwell’s greatest novels. Here Vaughan and Skroce are addressing the 2003 Invasion of Iraq through a science fiction narrative. We Stand On Guard takes place about 100 years in the future when the United States invades Canada after the White House is bombed in a drone strike from an unknown source. The story jumps from the initial invasion to 12 years in the future when the United States occupies Canada and only small bands of freedom fighters struggle against the American troops.

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Ask Chris #250: Misinformation About Batman

Background art: Batman: Second Chances, DC Comics

Q: As a Batmanologist, what misinformation about Batman do you wish you could set everyone straight on? -- @daveexmachina

A: There's one misconception about Batman that bugs me the most, because it's simultaneously the most persistent, the most ridiculous from a storytelling standpoint, and the easiest to disprove: The idea that Bruce Wayne doesn't actually do anything to help Gotham City, and that Batman is just a rich man selfishly and violently lashing out at the lower class.

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

The Evolution of Shazam: Best Captain Marvel Stories by Decade

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Many of comics’ most popular heroes have been around for decades, and in the case of the big names from the publisher now known as DC Comics, some have been around for a sizable chunk of a century. As these characters passed through the different historical eras known in comics as the Golden Age (the late 1930s through the early 1950s), the Silver Age (the mid 1950s through the late 1960s), the Bronze Age (the early 1970s through the mid 1980s) and on into modern times, they have experienced considerable changes in tone and portrayal that reflect the zeitgeist of the time.

With this feature we’ll help you navigate the very best stories of DC Comics’ most beloved characters decade by decade. This week, we’re taking a look at the best Captain Marvel comics.

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Trans Formation: Remembering Comics’ Fantastical Gender-Fluid Characters

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My earliest encounters with transgender characters came in Vertigo comics in the mid-90’s, especially Wanda in Sandman and Coagula in Doom Patrol. Wanda dresses a bit like a drag queen (and dies a tragic death), and Coagula is a sex worker, but they both felt like real people, which is not how I’d ever previously been encouraged to view trans people in any medium. Growing up, reading comics has always played a role in my understanding of my own identity and worldview. I certainly wouldn’t say comics had an effect on my gender, but they definitely affected my understanding of gender.

Recently, I’ve been wanting to look back farther than Wanda and Coagula and the mid-90’s. Amidst recent discussions of trans representation in comics, I’ve found myself thinking about what preceded trans characters in comics, before there was any chance of them existing.

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The Scene of the Crime is the Story in Gillen and Francia’s ‘Mercury Heat’ [Review]

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Doing a police procedural in a fantasy setting isn't an entirely new idea in comics. Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood launched the genre into a fresh orbit last year with The Fuse. Before that, Top 10 and Powers mashed it up with superhero universes. Just last week, the first issue of Si Spurrier and Jeff Stokely's The Spire dragged it into a Jim Henson-esque fantasy world.

Now, with Mercury Heat, Kieron Gillen and Omar Francia have transported the murder mystery far enough into the future that Murder She Wrote is studied as one of the classics, and far enough from Earth to reach the solar system's smallest, hottest planet. This first issue doesn't quite reveal how Mercury Heat is going to stack up against the competition, but it does introduce a fascinating, dense setting.

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Supergoddesses: Morrison Speaks About Gynocentricity and ‘Wonder Woman: Earth One’

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I’ve been eagerly anticipating the graphic novel Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette ever since it was announced back in January 2014 (as Wonder Woman: The Trial of Diana Prince). Now, with new details emerging in an interview with Morrison (who has just been named editor-in-chief of Heavy Metal) at Nerdist, the excitement is only building.

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Fantastic Reads: The Creators of ‘The Divine’ Present their Fantasy Reading List

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Artists Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka and writer Boaz Lavie have produced a stunning work of fantasy in their new book The Divine, which follows the story of a US military contractor who goes to a war-torn South East Asian country to exploit its resources, and learns that ancient gods, mystic warriors, and even a dragon have taken to the battlefield. It's a visually sumptuous work, run through with darkness and wonder.

To mark the book's upcoming release, we asked the authors to come up with a reading list of other works that they would recommend, covering similar themes of magical realism, engrossing fantasy, and wondrous horror. These books may have influenced or inspired the creators of The Divine, or they may just be excellent company for it on your bookshelf.

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Creating Responsibly: Comics Has A Race Problem

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Comics — you have a race problem.

Deny it if you want, but after last week’s Strange Fruit controversy (which Boom Studios has yet to address), this week’s discussion about Marvel’s appropriation of hip hop and black culture (which Tom Brevoort addressed first badly, then wrongly) and a general pattern of racial diversity promised in press releases but rarely actually seen in the creative process… the writing is on the wall.

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