So this week I decided to do something a little different than my usual lengthy post about a specific topic. I asked a bunch of people I know “What’s one thing comic related that you’ve always wondered about asking someone?”. I got some great questions and I’m going answer as many of them as I can.
The first is a two part question from my friend Ryan from Toronto:
With so many different superheros with so many different stories (sets/runs?), how would one even begin to start reading comics with so much material?
So this is definitely the most difficult to answer, not because it doesn’t have an answer but because there are so many possibilities that you can’t give just one answer. I’ll start with Marvel Comics because it doesn’t have as much of a rigid structure. Ultimately, it will boil down to your favourite character on the Avengers. Each character receives their own spotlight with each run of the Avengers; for example, the MarvelNow! imprint focused heavily on Tony Stark/ Iron Man, Steve Rogers/Captain America and Black Panther/T’Challa. Whereas the All New All Different Marvel printing focused on the more diverse young line up with Sam Wilson/Falcon/Captain America, Riri Williams/ Iron Heart, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel and Miles Morales/Spider-Man. Recently, due to floundering comic sales, Marvel introduced their Legacy imprint which restored all the original characters to their rightful places and kept the fan favourites of the “new crew”.
DC Comics made things MUCH easier. Prior to 2011, DC comics were arranged roughly around the lead ups to their next big events, just like Marvel. There was the lead up to Final Crisis, then the aftermath, followed by the lead up to Infinite Crisis and then the aftermath and so on. Starting in 2011 that all changed with the New 52. The New 52 is what spun out of Infinite Crisis and Flashpoint events. DC took their multiverse, dropped it down to 52 worlds and restarted all their characters with younger appearances and relationships. This worked great for me, as this is when I started getting into comics. Everything that happened in the New 52 didn’t take reference to anything that came before it and it was all self contained. It wasn’t met with much success so DC enacted their Rebirth arc. Rebirth functioned much the same way as the New 52 with a few exceptions, all titles went back to their original numbering, the entire history of the DC universe is included and the heroes and heroines returned to their normal age.
To create a cheat sheet for comic purchasing is no easy task for Marvel, but this is where I started:
Marvel Now! Superior Spider-Man #1 – My Own Worst Enemy
Marvel Now! Avengers #1 – Avengers World
Marvel Now! Thunderbolts #1 – No Quarter
Marvel Now! Moon Knight #1 – From the Dead
*I would also purchase the large events like Civil War, Secret Empire and Civil War II, and if i liked the story or wondered about how characters came to be in that situation I would read into the preludes to the events.*
For DC Comics it was an easy start for me:
New 52 Batman #1
New 52 Batman: The Dark Knight #1 – Knight Terrors
New 52 Batman: Detective Comics #1 – Faces of Death
New 52 Justice League #1 – Origin
New 52 Deathstroke #1 – Gods of War
* Like Marvel I would buy the main events and any prelude/sequel material I found interesting*
You could also start with the Marvel Legacy imprint or the Rebirth imprint, but those listed are where I started.
Imagine that it’s 2119 and Marvel has continued to pump out movies every year, there’s a 20 year old who wants to catch up on the universe without watching everything, where do they start?
So as a fan, my natural reaction is to say “Start at the beginning and go from there!” but ideally that’s not realistic. As the current MCU stands, even if you were to watch 3 movies a week, it would still take nearly 2 months to watch the whole thing. Not everyone can watch all of the movies or even have the time to watch them all, so here are the ones you absolutely have to watch to follow the main Infinity Saga plot line (everything since the beginning of the MCU in 2008 up until Endgame).
Captain America: The First Avenger
Iron Man 2
Avengers Age of Ultron
Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America Civil War
Avengers Infinity War
Those 11 movies are all that you REALLY need to see to follow the plot line of the Infinity Saga. They introduce all the heroes with the exception of Spider-Man and Winter Soldier, but more importantly they introduce all of the Infinity Stones and their effects. Without knowing the plans for Phase 4 and beyond, there’s no way to gauge what would be relevant to see.
The next question come from my friend Crystal in Cobourg:
How do all these heroes and villains build such elaborate hidden locations without anyone knowing? Superman has his fortress, The X-Men have their mansion, the Avengers have their tower, Batman has his cave, who funds these things and do they ever get audited?
So, first thing’s first, I have no idea how the taxation laws work in Marvel and DC Comics universes. I would assume that they are able to account for all the money spent to construct their bases through various means but that’s always one thing that never gets mentioned in the comics at all.
As to the secret lairs and bases, there’s actually a whole lot of lore that goes into them. For example, Superman’s Fortress of Solitude has had many different origins throughout his comic run. It’s normally depicted as a giant construct made of ice/crystals and is located in the arctic. The television show Smallville had the fortress made from various Kryptonian crystals that arrived on Earth and when fused together created the Fortress. It has also been located in the Amazon jungle as a massive pyramid and on the outskirts of metropolis in the mountain range that borders the city.
The Batcave for example, is something that has been built over years and years into its current form by Bruce Wayne himself with Alfred Pennyworth’s help. In the New 52 comic Batman: Zero Year, we are actually shown the initial stages of the Batcave’s construction. It literally started out as a hole in the ground that could be accessed via a rope ladder and an old elevator shaft to the mansion (Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy got it pretty spot on).
Avengers tower was built by Tony Stark and Stark Industries, so there’s really no need for the secrecy. Even the Avengers Mansion (which they used before the tower) was built by Stark and his company legitimately so there was no secrecy needed. Just like the Avengers tower and mansion, the Xavier mansion in New York State, which was also built legitimately by the Xavier family, serves as the home base for the X-Men. While the mansion itself was built legitimately, the extensive underground complex was built in secret by Charles and some of the X-Men. It’s possible contractors were brought in to assist, but with Charles’ ability to wipe memories, that’s one way they could’ve work around the whole secrecy shtick.
For the villains, there’s no clear answer. Some of them, like Dr. Doom and Dr. Octopus, have legitimate business holdings that generate them money, or in Doom’s case, his position as ruler of Latveria allows him a lot of disposable income and freedom of construction.
My next question comes from my friend Ben in Kenora:
After Revenge of the Sith, who was able to beat Vader in one on one combat? I’ve heard he loses a couple of times.
So first off Vader has had quite a run in Marvel comics publications since the Star Wars movies were released. He has fought several well known characters both in the films and not, but we will be focusing primarily on the comics that Marvel has produced.
So following the Revenge of the Sith Vader was without a lightsaber and needed to manufacture a new one. This is where we learn that the way Sith obtain their lightsabers, they kill a Jedi and take it. In the new Marvel run titled Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, we begin directly following Vader’s defeat by Obi Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith. Palpatine tells Vader that the secret to the Sith’s red lightsaber is that it’s made to bleed.
For an in depth analysis of how Sith get their lightsabers, check out my post on it!
Vader tracks down a Jedi master named Kirak Infil’a who has been living in seclusion on the small river moon of Al’doleem having taken a Barash vow (cutting oneself off from the Force). Master Infil’a beats Vader in combat before throwing him off the mountaintop where they were dueling. Vader eventually rallies and kills the Jedi master after fighting his way back up the mountain and takes his lightsaber as his prize. He then must face the Inquisitors to prove that he is still the best fighter at the Emperor’s disposal. He returns to the Jedi temple and must battle Jedi Master Jocasta Nu (the old lady who scolds Obi Wan in Attack of the Clones) who is attempting to steal the information on all force sensitive children. While Vader does eventually overcome his enemies he also gets beat a lot. There is one comic from a few years ago, where Vader is fighting Darth Maul ( this all happened in his mind as a vision), and Maul bests him. In order to win, Vader stabs himself through the middle with his lightsaber to kill Maul, something Maul would never have done. In the culmination of the latest run for Vader, he is building his Fortress on the planet of Mustafar. The natives don’t like the Imperial presence and the various native tribes band together. Darth Momin, activates the Dark Side nexus in the fortress which shatters the ground and causes a lava flood. Vader is overwhelmed by the lava and is submerged only being kept alive by a force bubble he created around himself. He eventually emerges from the lava and kills Momin, but suffered severe damage to his body from being burned excessively for a second time.
My next questions come from my dad Frank in Stratford:
How does Wonder Woman always get her lasso back? How does Spider-Man always have unlimited webbing?
The Lasso of Truth (aka The Lasso of Hestia) is Wonder Woman’s main weapon, well, it was until the New 52 when she also sported a shield and sword. As everyone (or most people) know, Wonder Woman is an Amazon from the mystical island of Themyscira which was secreted away from the world of man by the Gods of Greek legend. Yes, the Greek Gods exist in the DC Comics universe, one such God that exists, is Hephaestus (The Blacksmith of the Gods of Olympus). He forged the Lasso of Hestia in his forge in the bowels of Mount Olympus and imbued it with some of his godly magic. It is unbreakable even to Superman, it can grow and shrink based on need, it can compel anyone wrapped in it to tell the truth, and can take the form of both lasso or whip based on need. Basically, the answer is this, based on the magical properties of its construction, Diana (Wonder Woman) never actually has the lasso leave her hand because of its ability to lengthen and shrink; if it does, she just picks it back up again.
Spider-Man has two different ways of manufacturing his webbing. In some comics (that have since been retconned) he produced organic webbing like an actual spider can. This was the basis of the Sam Raimi films from the early 2000’s which worked but still wasn’t completely right. The current and canon answer for his webbing is that he has constructed web shooters that allow him to project webbing. He manufactures his own webbing which he compresses into cartridges that fuel his shooters. Each cartridge contains several dozen miles of webbing. His webbing is also biodegradable and completely dissolves within a few hours of being shot.
My next question is from my friend Theo in Ottawa:
What is your first and/or favourite memory of comic books and why?
So my answer for this actually has nothing to do with comic books themselves but in fact the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, specifically the first one released in 2002. So, when the movie released I begged my mom to take me to see it because I loved Spider-Man, thanks to the awesome animated show I watched in the 90’s. Well she actually relented and took me out of school to go see the movie. Little did I know that my grandma was also going to join us, but I didn’t know at the time as to her history with the character. A little back story, my grandma was born in Europe during WWII and immigrated to Canada to reunite with her parents who had moved here before the war to establish themselves. When she got here she didn’t speak or read English. She actually learned to read through school and reading comics whenever she could and some her favourite ones to read were Spider-Man. I found all this out years after the movie when I was doing a school project on her and her life. Back my original story, so there we are in the Cinema and my grandma is anxious to get into the theatre but my mom and I were waiting in line to get concession, because you have to, right? So my grandma ends up taking her ticket and running (I shit you not, running) to the theatre to get a good seat to see this movie. We watched the movie and we all agreed we liked it; but then as my mom left to go to the washroom my grandma started telling me about all the things they changed and what they got right from what she remembered reading the comics. I stood there listening to her and adding my own two cents from the show I watched as we waited for my mom to come back. It’s one of my best memories of my grandma and when the subsequent movies came out we didn’t see them in the theatre but I brought the DVDs to her house and we watched them together. She also really liked the Ben Affleck Daredevil movie, but I think that was just because she was a big Ben Affleck fan.
My next question is from my friend Malcolm in Michigan:
How do/should magic vs. science be consolidated in comics? With so many crossovers with mythical and scientific based characters, how do comics address this? The MCU hasn’t really addressed it at all- just kind of mentioned it and just moved on. But How do comics explain the existence and effects of both and how it effects the various religions of the world, for example Judeo-Christian believers being introduced to literal Norse Gods?
Well, this one is a doozy to answer! I can’t speak for the individual authors and creators for each company as their individual beliefs will influence the stories they write, but I will do my best to deliver a coherent answer.
With the exception of a few characters, Marvel doesn’t actually have many conflicts when it comes to faith vs. magic/science. The most prominent character is Daredevil and after him, probably Captain America himself. As in the MCU, they never really address the distinction between magic and faith in the comics. Daredevil’s entire character is rooted in his faith and his belief in God, but he has no problem working with aliens and different Gods if the need arises. I think it boils down to the fact that most religious characters in Marvel are not fanatical in nature. Daredevil knows what he believes and what it means to him but he can also accept that others may not feel the same way as he does, but he also doesn’t try to force his beliefs on others. It also helps to give him a sense of peace in the event that science or magic has failed him/the team, he can turn inward to his beliefs and know that he takes comfort in the fact that he believes there is a higher power looking out for him.
In the MCU there is specifically one line that addresses this distinction and it comes from the first Avengers film from 2012. The scene in particular is when Thor arrives on Earth after Captain America and Tony apprehend Loki. Thor attacks the quinjet and kidnaps Loki right out from under the noses of Black Widow, Iron Man and Captain America. When Tony takes off after Thor, Captain America grabs a parachute and begins strapping it on to go after them himself. Widow tells him to “… sit this one out Cap. These guys are basically Gods”. Captain America continues to strap on the parachute while replying “There’s only one God ma’am, and he doesn’t dress like that”, right before he jumps out after them. This is the ONLY mention of faith vs. magic/science in the MCU and it’s used to play off for comedic effect. The truth of the matter is that until they introduce a truly devout character like Daredevil into the MCU there will never be a concrete answer as to how they will mesh. As it stands in the MCU the most religious character is Captain America, and apart from that line he doesn’t seem to react at all to magic or science that would/could disprove his faith. When he fights the Chitauri in Avengers and the Outriders in Infinity War/ Endgame, he just fights them like they’re any old human enemy he’s seen a hundred times. I think that he, like Daredevil, is able to separate his faith from the encounters he has. While he knows aliens and magic exist that also strengthens his faith, and his belief that anything is possible including the existence of the Judeo-Christian God.
My next question is from my friend Caroline in Peterborough:
Why were the Wonder Twins never translated into movies?
So this one has a short and sweet answer that Caroline might not like, it has to do with their popularity. They first appeared on the Super Friends cartoon in 1977 with their first actual comic appearance coming the same year. Following the cancellation of the show they went on hiatus for several years until their inclusion in comics in 1996. They also appeared in several episodes of both Justice League and Justice League Unlimited but were not mainstays on either show. They appeared off and on in Teen Titans comics for most of the 90’s but never received their own dedicated run. The only live action portrayal to date comes from the episode of Smallville titled “Idol”, where they were portrayed by David Gallagher and Allison Scagliotti. They began receiving recognition in the New 52 run of Justice League 3000 from 2013 in which they were main characters. That same title has also received a creative team with printing beginning in February of 2019.
Basically the short answer is that while they hold a large amount of nostalgia for parents and those who grew up watching the Super Friends cartoon, they are simply not popular enough to warrant their inclusion in modern cinema.
My last question is from a work colleague of mine Cathy:
Where did Robin come from and how did he get hooked up with Batman?
So, in order to provide the easiest answer possible, I’m going to focus on the first Robin and the one most people are quite familiar with, Dick Grayson.
So Dick Grayson was a member of the Flying Grayson which was a high flying trapeze act at Haly’s Circus. Prior to opening night in Gotham, Dick saw two gangsters who were trying to extort protection money from the circus owner, when the owner refused, they said he would regret it. The gangsters used some acid to weaken the trapeze lines so they would snap during the show, which Dick also witnessed. As the show started Bruce Wayne was attending the circus to see the fabled Flying Graysons (known for performing without a safety net) and their world renowned act. As Dick’s parents swung out on their wire it snapped causing them to fall to their deaths right in front of Dick. Dick was taken to an orphanage where he was beaten up by some of the other kids before being taken in by Bruce Wayne as his ward. Dick grew tired of the distant Bruce and the fact his parents’ murder was still unsolved, so he snuck out of Wayne manor one night to solve it himself. He was met by the Batman who informed him that Tony Zucco was the boss who ordered the gangsters to kill Dick’s parents and that he was very well connected in the City, so if Dick went to the police with his knowledge of what happened that night, he would be killed. Dick fainted from this revelation and when he woke up in the Bat-cave, he was amazed to find that Bruce was Batman. Bruce relayed his own story and how that was his catalyst for becoming Batman. Together they gathered enough evidence to take Tony Zucco down, but Zucco suffered a fatal heart attack before he could be arrested for his crimes. Bruce then offered Dick the opportunity to become his crime fighting partner and asked him to pick his name. Dick’s mother had always called him Robin when they were training so that’s the name he picked and his training began. Dick became “Robin The Boy Wonder” and fought side by side with Batman for many years before venturing out on his own and adopting the moniker of Nightwing. Bruce eventually adopted Dick as his own son in Batman:Gotham Knights #21.
There you have it! Some questions that people I know have had burning in their minds for quite some time! A very special thank you to everyone who contributed their questions to this post!
See you next week!