This article was originally published at Comics Bulletin on January 21, 2016.
Every two weeks in a new installment of “Leading Questions”, the young, lantern jawed Mark Stack will ask Comics Bulletin’s very own Chase Magnett a question he must answer. However, Mark doesn’t plan on taking it easy on Chase. He’ll be setting him up with questions that are anything but fair and balanced to see how this once overconfident comics critic can make a cogent case for what another one obviously wants to hear.
This week the format is changing a little bit for two reasons. First, it is the tenth installment of Leading Questions and while that may not be a huge anniversary it’s not nothing either. Second, Mark just turned 21 years old and we wanted to let him do something to celebrate. This time Mark will be asking Chase ten questions in a lightning round format, where Chase must answer all ten in a succinct manner, even if the questions might get him in trouble.
So without any further ado…
1. What makes Flash Thompson a more dynamic character than Peter Parker?
By dynamic do you mean traumatized? I’m going to assume so because that makes this easier and I only have 1-2 paragraphs.
Peter has been dealt a really shabby hand by the Ol’ Parker Luck with his dead Uncle, dead girlfriend, and other accumulated bodies. Yet that still doesn’t quite match up to what’s happened to his high school bully Flash Thompson. Flash missed out on Peter’s healthy childhood, suffering abuse at the hands of his father instead. He missed out on Peter’s Spidey Senses, losing his legs instead. He missed out on Peter’s other powers, gaining an insane symbiote instead. And he missed out on Peter’s generally happy life, existing with a broken marriage, dead parents, and a tarnished reputation instead. Peter may have it bad at times, but he only has to look at Flash to feel like the luckiest man in the world.
Now Peter is a billionaire trotting around the world like Tony Stark, and Flash is jetting around space with the Guardians of the Galaxy. They’re both doing pretty well, but we know it’s only a matter of time until the status quo resumes. That’s not too bad for Peter, but it means the bottom of the bottle and more misery for Flash. I suppose that’s what you kids call dynamic these days.
2. Translated from Urdu: <Comic book editors: what do they know? Do they know things?>
I’m sure comic book editors have to know something, right? Look at what folks like Steve Wacker, Mark Doyle, Sana Amanat, and Andy Khouri have done with their respective lines of comics at Marvel and DC. They seem to have helped produce some pretty great comics, so they must know a thing or two about making great comics. As a part time editor myself, I like to think I know a few things. Eddie Berganza knows how to get away with things.
So I guess what I’m saying is that some comic book editors definitely know things, different things depending on the editor. We should probably start a game show to find out if comic book editors know things and what things they know. Do you think we could get Bill Watterson to host?
3. Comic Book Movies are stupid: Y/N
There are lots of great movies based on comics. I’m not going to make a comprehensive list of movies based on comics that aren’t stupid, but I’ll name two that I think are really great. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a story I adore in both comics and film. Edgar Wright’s adaptation is different enough to really make it its own thing, and his style and skill craft something that may share plot and characters, but could only work as a film. A History of Violence is another, and that’s just grade-A Cronenberg ugliness. I could watch Viggo Mortensen horribly murder thugs all day.
4. Casanova: he looks like Mick Jagger but all I see is Daniel Elkin mentioning Bowie when writing about that comic. What gives?
There’s a technical definition for, it’s called “Reading Good Comics Criticism Syndrome.” You’ll find that when reading excellent comics criticism the writer both elevates the work by providing thoughtful analysis and alters your perception of it by placing a bit of themselves into the writing. Like any form of creation, criticism is a personal act and at its best doesn’t just provide insight into the subjects the creator wants to touch upon, but into the artist as well.
So why do you think of Bowie when reading Casanova? Well, that’s simple. Daniel Elkin is a man who loves David Bowie, and he’s a man who loves Casanova, and he’s a man who puts those two things together layering his analysis with lyrics while being the damn fine comics critic that he is. So the better question is: how could you not get visions of Bowie in your head after reading Elkin on Casanova?
5. What’s your favorite Rob Liefeld comic and why is it better than Saga?
Youngblood, without a doubt. Don’t get me wrong; I adore Saga. It has taken one of the top few slots on my end of year list ever since I started making one, but there are some ways in which I think Youngblood is a better comic. While it might not be as technically proficient or thematically rich, Youngblood is pure Rob Liefeld. It is an example of an artist putting all of himself on the page. Even if that self is juvenile and crude, it’s pure. I like Youngblood for many of the same reasons I prefer The Dark Knight Strikes Again over The Dark Knight III, like we discussed last year.
Youngblood also has the benefit of having an esteemed legacy. It’s thanks to Youngblood that we have Supreme as written by Alan Moore, Glory as written by Joe Keatinge and drawn by Sophie Campbell, and (most importantly, in my opinion) Prophet as written by Brandon Graham and drawn by some of the absolute best comics artists of today. So many truly great comics have spun out from the existence of Youngblood, that it’s impossible not to be grateful for its creation.
6. Which comics creator do you think you could most easily take in a fight?
7. And how would you beat him or her?
It’s not a matter of how, but of why. Have you paid any attention to Greg Capullo? Outside of being one of the single best pencilers to come out of the 1990s, the guy is ridiculously ripped. Just take a look on Twitter and you’ll see what I mean. He’s an absolute beefcake. So why would I think I, a lily livered comics critic, could take this man in a fight?
Because there’s no way it’s real. Have you ever met a comics art who was anywhere close to being that ripped? Who has time to work out when drawing that many excellent pages of Batman wailing on villains and hopping into Millarworld? I think it’s all Photoshop, a good defense making for the best offense. Capullo is supposed to be at C2E2 this year, so I’ll even get a chance to see for myself whether he’s pre- or post-super serum Captain America this spring. If this fight comes true, I’m really hoping for the former. Otherwise I’m going to get chewed up and spit out.
8. You’re trapped on a desert island with all of your comics; which one do you eat first?
There’s a lot to consider with this question because the act of eating a comic has a variety of repercussions. In this scenario, I’m trapped alone on the island with comics meaning that once one has been eaten I have removed one piece of my limited options for entertainment and engagement. Whichever comic I choose will be lost to me forever. I also probably won’t have time to read it or flip through it either since my first few days will be driven by survival needs and finding alternative food sources. Furthermore, whichever comic I choose will be transformed into a thick, fibrous poop that will most likely cause a great deal of intestinal and sphincter-related displeasure before becoming a stinking turd profaning my new home. So keeping in mind that this act will forever remove something from my world and come at great personal cost, the answer is pretty obvious.
9. Name a recent comic that is worse than Young Terrorists #1. No question here. Just name it. I fucking dare you.
10. Which female superhero received an updated costume that you think is worse than their previously, barely-there costume?
Wonder Woman. She probably deserves better than a bikini bottom and bronze bra, but have you seen the David Finch redesign? That costume is not great. In fact, it’s quite bad. That thing is busier than Jack Kirby in his heyday. Unlike the King’s groovy Fourth World costumes, the various elements of this outfit never cohere into a cohesive whole. It’s over designed like a steampunk cosplay. The pauldrons, cuffs, body armor, and belt all draw attention to themselves, but none of them really work together. There are multiple concepts that could work as a uniting theme here, but none of them really jive. Instead we see elements of camp (the two sets of golden twins W’s and stars), realism (pants and leather-like armor for the torso), and a heightened god-like armor (overly large pauldrons and cuffs). Then you can top all of that off with a big V-for-vagina crotch shield that makes no sense.
As nice as it might be to see this iconic heroine in pants for once, I’d rather it didn’t come at the cost of visual coherency and style.