"Civilian" has 10 questions about comic books

Jennifer Brummett, staff writer for the Advocate Messenger in Danville, Ky., wrote a column listing stuff that befuddles her about comic books.

Here's her top 10 with my attempts to answer:

1. Why do the bios give the height and weight of the heroes and heroines, as well as, in most cases, hair and eye color? For Halloween costume production? Filmmaking purposes?

Um, cuz fans like to think of these characters as real. Ridiculous amounts of detail goes toward that purpose, as does an insane obsession with "continuity." Comic books, particularly those focusing on superheroes, are set in self-contained fictional worlds, which fans insist must function according to their own internal logic. If a writer contradicts something that happened in a comic way back in 1972, no doubt some fan will get uptight and post some nasty comment about it on his blog. Unless whatever happened back then was negated by the Crisis on Infinite Earths, of course.

2. Why are most of the "cats," whether at DC or Marvel, women?

Because who wants to see a guy in a skin-tight catsuit? Come on!

3. Why hasn't there been a major motion picture done on Dr. Strange? I mean, yeah, there was the 1978 television flick called "Dr. Strange." How many people saw that?

A Doctor Strange movie...cool...

4. Why does the Wonder Woman movie I've been hearing about for the last 10 years or so keep getting stalled? Now, Joss Whedon is attached to direct such a flick. We'll see how long that lasts. Where's the love for the ladies in the limelight? ("Elektra," mind you, was a spin-off of "Daredevil.")

Because it's taken 20 years for the nostaligia factor to kick in. The Lynda Carter TV series, which was ridiculous and silly back in the 70s is now campy and cool. Comic book films don't get made by or at the behest of comic book fans, they get made by folks in Hollywood after the marketing department says its ok to go ahead. The Wonder Woman film isn't being made so much because she's a comic book character (although that helps a lot in the post "Spider-Man" movie climate), but because she was a TV character. Many more people are familiar with her in that context. We're getting a "Dukes of Hazzard" movie, a "Bewitched" movie, etc. So it was only matter of time before they got to her.

5. Why would a creator name a comic book character Umbra? Or Element Lad? Holly Go-Nightly? Abomination? Kang? Soldier X? Thunderbolt Ross? How do they come up with these, ummm, unusual names?

Drugs? Desperation? Dreaded Deadline Doom?

6. Horror movies have crossed the Pacific, as has anime. Could manga be next?

Manga is already kicking the American comics industry's ass in in sales. Go to Barnes and Noble and look at how many manga books are stocked compared to superhero reprints. Kids are loving the manga.

7. Comic Book Legal Defense Fund? Huh?

Comic books have a long history of being singled out as targets for prudes, censors and other types of Republicans. Check out the history of the 1950s juvenille delinquency hearings, the comics code, etc. The CBLD is an effort to give creators and comic book shops some legal protection should they come under attack.

8. Who makes the time for something like this - http://www.uky.edu/Projects/Chemcomics/? Oh. My.

That...is...so...cool! I'm gonna add a link to to that on my Web site.

9. Do superheroes and superheroines sweat? Hey, there's a whole lotta skin-tight hero-wear going on in the comic books. Is it comfortable?

It's all about unstable molecules, baby.

10. I keep reading about a film featuring Batman versus Superman - like, for years and years I've been reading this. Why is this interesting? I mean, Batman doesn't have any super powers, per se - just cool equipment, an extensive knowledge of the martial arts, and know-how about detective processes. Superman, coming from another planet, does have superpowers - flying, super-strength, enormous speed. Wouldn't he whip Batman's butt?

Brains trump brawn every time. Brains and kryptonite.


  1. You know, now I feel kind of bad about making fun of the ChemComics. The man has dedication!

  2. Not to mention, can you think of a better way to make the periodic table stick in kids' minds?

    There's a few creative teachers out there who use comic books to sucker kids into reading, I hear. No reason the chem teacher can't get a piece of the action!

  3. "Not to mention, can you think of a better way to make the periodic table stick in kids' minds?"