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Ask Chris #254: What’s So Great About The Silver Age?

Ask Chris #254, background art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye

Q: Why was the Silver Age awesome? -- @sackobooks

A: Never before in the history of this column has there been such a complicated, open-ended question that could be answered with a picture of Superman with a lion head. I mean, let's be honest with each other here: That pretty much covers it, and if you can look at Superman, cursed with the head of the most noble of beasts, lamenting about how his girlfriend must forever be condemned to date a lion-man now, and not think that it's at least a little bit awesome, then there's not a whole lot I'm going to be able to tell you to change your mind.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not going to try.

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Adventures of a Reluctant Explorer: Should You Be Reading ‘Shutter’?

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With Fables having just wrapped up after 13 years of combining fantasy characters and creatures with a more-or-less real world setting, there's no better time to pick up Shutter. Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca's comic charts Kate Kristopher's reluctant journey through a world of ghost ninjas, fire-breathing Victorian robots and crocodiles in adorable bell-boy jackets, as she tries to uncover the mystery of her family's past – and save her own behind from the aforementioned creatures.

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Pretend They’re People: The Fifty-Year-Old Answer to Marvel’s Diversity Problem

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It remains a bleak time for the female comic audience, and for other minority audiences. The recent debacle with Hercules is merely the latest of Marvel’s many ghastly faux pas; for every two steps forward, it seems to take two steps back: it publishes more female titles only to end the majority of them with Secret Wars, and it tantalizes us with Hercules only to promote the status quo inside of continuity.

It is easy to lose faith in the publisher’s ability to reform from within, but Marvel has had the key to equal, positive representation for over fifty years now.

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The Evolution of the Joker: Best Joker Stories by Decade

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Many of comics’ most popular characters 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 significant characters decade by decade. This week, we’re taking a look at the best Joker comics.

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Like Disneyworld With Fangs: Should You Be Reading ‘Zombillenium’?

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Zombillenium is French animator and cartoonist Arthur De Pins' ongoing series of graphic albums about a horror theme park run by actual monsters... pretending to be regular people pretending to be fake monsters... all as an elaborate way of hiding in plain sight. Published first in France, it's being translated and republished by NBM in English. The third volume, Control Freaks, was just released this summer.

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Comics as History: Discussing Joel Christian Gill’s ‘Strange Fruit’

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Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History by Joel Christian Gill is a narrative history for young readers. The book was released in May of 2014 to some acclaim, but didn’t quite break through to a wider audience. Mark Waid and JG Jones' controversial recent Boom project of the same name has made Gill'’s excellent book a topic of conversation again. J.A. Micheline and Megan Purdy dig deep into Gill's exploration of some of the forgotten faces in black history.

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What Other Conventions Can Learn from London’s Nine Worlds GeekFest (And What Nine Worlds Can Still Do Better)

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Nine Worlds Geekfest is a London convention that is --- and let’s just get this out of the way now --- unconventional. The event was born out of a Kickstarter in 2013 which sought to put on a “weekend-long, multi-genre convention” with a note that they are “founded on the radical belief that geekdom should not be restricted by class, age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, or the ability to cite Wookieepedia in arguments.” This is the kind of lip service you see at most conventions, despite actual attendants finding the truth to be slightly different.

But Nine Worlds puts its money where its mouth is.

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Ask Chris #253: Access the Amalgam Age Of Comics

Ask Chris #253, background art by Cary Nord

Q: I found Bruce Wayne: Agent of SHIELD in a box of 50-cent comics. Great idea or terrible one? Fun new direction or misread of the character? -- @Keith_Frady

A: Oh, that one was a great idea, but not for the reasons you might think. See, Keith, what you have stumbled across is neither a misread of the character nor is it a bold new direction. You've just found yourself a piece of the Amalgam Age of Comics.

Originally published in 1996 and 1997, the Amalgam books were quite possibly the strangest mainstream superhero project that ever happened: A not-quite-series of 24 comics that mashed up Marvel and DC characters into weirdly amalgamated versions that were actually produced by Marvel and DC, and that frequently made absolutely no sense at all. And, as you might expect from the fact that this all happened when I was 14, I loved it.

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Is the World Ready for a Hapa Psylocke?

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With Psylocke featured in the upcoming film X-Men: Apocalypse, we can expect some extra attention to fall on Marvel’s striking, purple-haired mutant who wields a telekinetic katana. And with that attention, the problem of racial identity in the character’s backstory is getting some new scrutiny. In her current iteration, Psylocke is a white British woman, Betsy Braddock, whose mind --- by a series of outlandish plot developments --- is in the body of Japanese ninja assassin named Kwannon.

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Filed Under: , , Category: Marvel, Opinion

Outer Space & Inner Doubts: Should You Be Reading ‘Space Brothers’?

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What if there were two young brothers, and they both wanted to go to space? What if the brothers got older --- and the younger one was scheduled on the next trip out of NASA, just as the elder was fired for attacking a superior? Chuya Koyama's Space Brothers shows us the beauty of powering through awkwardness, addressing failure, and facing the man in the mirror.

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