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Ask Chris #209: The Strange Saga Of Batgirl Cassandra Cain

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Cassandra Cain: WTF happened? -- @IamMedellin

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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Ask Chris #208: Worlds Will Live, Worlds Will Die, And ‘Crisis On Infinite Earths’ Is Basically A Mess

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: I was reading your column about New Teen Titans where you said Crisis on Infinite Earths was a mess, but a topic for another time. Care to explain now? -- @jeremyliveshere

A: The one thing you can't say about Crisis on Infinite Earths is that it didn't deliver on its promise. In a time when "event" comics were still in their infancy, Crisis came out of the gate promising to be the biggest thing that had ever or would ever hit comics, and looking back on it from almost thirty years later, it's hard not to admit that even with a comic rolling out every six months like clockwork that promises to change everything forever, it's still the one that actually did it. Worlds did live, worlds did die, and nothing actually was the same again.

It just also happens to be a story that's a complete friggin' mess.

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Ask Chris #206: Spider-Man And The Rise Of The Teenage Superhero

Ask Chris #206, Art by Erica Henderson

Q: Just watched the latest Here's The Thing. I'd love to hear you expound on some of the attempts at re-creating Spider-Man. -- @stophatinisbad

A: In case you missed it, this week's episode of Here's The Thing was focused on the idea of legacy and how it shaped the Green Lantern franchise -- and how it ultimately failed to really take hold in the way that it did in books like Flash and -- but one of the things I mentioned was that Kyle Rayner was one of many attempts to create a character in the mold of Spider-Man. It happens like clockwork, not just at DC and Marvel but across the board, and it's one of the most important aspects of how superhero comics developed.

So really, I'm glad you asked, because the reason behind this gives me a chance to dive into some of my favorite subjects, like the socioeconomic impact of the rise of the teenager as a social construct, and how that led directly to the creation of Darkhawk.

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

Ask Chris #198: The Mass Media Influence On Comics Canon

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Q: Is it ever worth it to change comics canon to match the canon from other media? -- @firehawk32

A: This is a really interesting question for me, because I always think of myself as someone who doesn't really get excited about superheroes showing up in movies or TV. I mean, obviously, that's not actually true -- I mean, I cowrote what was essentially a full-length novel about The Dark Knight, Batman: The Animated Series ranks alongside oxygen and pizza as my favorite thngs in the universe, I could not have been more stoked about seeing Arnim Zola The Bio Fanatic in two major Hollywood films, and there will never be a time when I'm not still mad about Man of Steel. But at the same time, and at the risk of sounding like even more of a hipster elitist than usual, those aren't the "real" versions of those charactesr to me. I like TV and movies just fine, but when it comes to the superhero genre, I'm in it for the comics. Everything else is just a bonus.

That said, what's considered "canon" in comics changes literally all the time, and often for a lot worse reasons than because there's something out there that's resonating with a mass audience.

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Ask Chris #195: Making Connections In Comics History

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: This "Connections Theory of Comics" is like *literally* all you talk about on Twitter. Can you please just explain it? -- @bigredrobot

A: Hey man, I think you're exaggerating just a little. I mean, anyone who actually reads my Twitter account knows that the whole Connections thing comes in at a distant third to commentary on whatever Power Rangers shows I'm watching that week and arguments about the definition of the word "barbecue." That said, I'll admit that it's something I have been talking about a lot lately. Connections is, after all, my favorite television show of all time. Well, except or The Prisoner, and that one episode of Brave and the Bold where Batman becomes a Dracula and fights the JLI, but I don't think those have affected the ways that I think about comics like Connections has.

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Filed Under: , Category: Ask Chris, Longform

Link Ink: Tons Of ‘Captain America 2′ Images, Valiant RPGs And Hello Kitty Home Safety

Captain America The Winter Soldier 60 images
Marvel Studios

Get through the middle of the week with Wednesday's links.

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Ask Chris #186: The Strange Rise Of The X-Men

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Why do you think the X-Men didn't find their audience until two decades after they were created? -- @godofthunder851

A: I've got a minor quibble with your timing in this question -- it was more like 12 or 15 years, really -- but you've got an interesting point there. I think most comics readers are well aware of that piece of trivia about how the X-Men were about to get the axe before Giant Size X-Men #1 breathed new life into the franchise and set them on the path of becoming what was probably the single most popular and influential franchise of the '80s and '90s, and that's not really how things usually work. In comics, you tend to either come out of the gate to massive, enduring popularity (like Batman or Spider-Man), come out strong and then fade away for whatever reason (like, sadly, Shazam!), or just sort of flounder in the midcard. It's rare that something sticks around on the edge of being canceled for a solid decade before it finds its footing, and nobody bounced back harder than Marvel's Merry Mutants.

But really, what you're asking here is two separate questions: Why didn't the X-Men take off in 1963, and why did they in 1975? So let's look at the history and see if we can't figure it out.

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Ask Chris #184: A Brief History Of The Metal Men

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Let's say I know nothing about the Metal Men except some of their names. Should I care about those guys? -- @_lexifab

A: On the off chance that you're wondering why this is the week that people are asking about a relatively obscure team of disposable superhero robots now, I'm going to go ahead and guess that it has something to do with their return in the pages of the brand-new Justice League #28. That's a book that I approached with a whole lot of cautious optimism, because I've been a fan of those characters ever since I was a kid. One of the very first comics I ever read was that John Byrne issue where Chemo absorbed Superman and became a giant lime green Superman that shot toxic waste out of his eyes and straight up killed one of the heroes. When you see that at five years old, that's the imagery that's going to stick with you.

So yeah, I'd say you should definitely care about the Metal Men, even beyond just my childhood affection for 'em. Not only are they one of the most perfect concepts in superhero comics, but they're also one of the most interesting, on the page and behind the scenes.

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Link Ink: Victoria’s Secret Evangelion Suit, ‘Avengers EMH’ Concludes And The Wobbly Dead

victoriassecretreiplugsuit

Fashion: Victoria's Secret must not-so-secretly love Neon Genesis Evangelion as evidenced by model Jordan Dunn's outfit from last week's VC fashion show in New York City, which clearly pays homage to Rei Ayanami's plugsuit.

Movies: Mark Millar re

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Helen McCarthy Delivers A Comprehensive Crash Course In Manga History

mangahelenmccarthy

If you're a regular ComicsAlliance reader, chances are you know a thing or two about manga, but what if you're an advisor to the president some day and you have to catch them up on Japanese comics in eight minutes in order to, I don't know, stop a volcano from erupting? Well good news! Manga expert and co-author of the stellar The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga Helen McCarthy has done the work for you as part of a history

Filed Under: , , , , Category: Manga, Video

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