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Um, Actually | November 8th, 2012

Um, Actually…


Welcome, dear readers, to our Thursday feature – a letter column of horrors culled from our inboxes. There will be things that are real and decidedly unreal – but hopefully all 
content presented here will be entertaining.Missives from and to the internet, delivered by a series of tubes.

That said, WE ARE LOOKING FOR LETTERS! We are hiding in your bushes, metaphorical or otherwise. We crave your sweet correspondence. Contact us by clicking on that handy contact button right above the site banner to save yourself from our sweet lips on your power bills.

Letters might be edited for space, but not for intent.

Thank you, internet.

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Scotty B (@scottybomb) asks: In honour of our friends to the south’s election: who would make a better president? Batman or Superman?

James: The answer to this is incredibly complex because it begs the further questions of which Batman and which Superman.  As the characters are typically presented, Superman would be the obvious choice over Batman, since he’s traditionally presented as being the “brighter” character, an inspiration to man with a peerless moral compass, which is something that’s fundamentally needed as a president, whose role is inherently less legislative and more based on leadership and diplomacy.  He couldn’t say it publicly, of course, but he’s also someone with a foot in the city and the other in rural America, which means he’s pretty in touch with the voters for a dude that has an arctic fortress that’s probably technically in another country (Canada) and which could be attacked by opponents as a convenient tax haven.  

In contrast, Batman is usually presented as being a darker, secretive creature whose actions are based on instilling fear, which, however good and noble the mission might be, is not very presidential.  He’s tough on crime, but he’s also someone who regularly bends or breaks the law to accomplish his goals in many incarnations, which means he’d be justifiably impeached within a few days of taking office after the first time he tapped the other party’s house leader’s phones.  Batman is basically Richard Nixon.

Or at least those versions of him are.  Because each character contains a multiplicity of different versions, it’s impossible to say who would be a better president without knowing for certain which versions are on the table.  All Star Superman would be a pretty incredible president because he was a genius who didn’t just fight evil, but took the time to encourage distraught teens and who inspired millions to better themselves and their country, which is pretty Kennedy-esque.  By comparison, the movies’ Superman, played by Christopher Reeve, was a generally great dude who had an unfortunate habit of date raping his girlfriend, so no thank you.  Similarly, most of the comic versions of Batman are out due to the illegal surveillance, as is the Christopher Nolan Batman.  Michael Keaton‘s Batman is out because he’s a murderer and Val Kilmer‘s is out because he’s an idiot.  George Clooney‘s is unelectable purely by reputation, if not actual deed.  This leaves us with one live action Batman left, Adam West‘s, who was already voted Mayor of Gotham and offered spots on both major parties’ presidential tickets, but he turned it all down, which puts him out of the running even if it proves he’d probably be better than anyone actually crazy enough to want to be president.

And that’s before you even acknowledge the animated versions or the fact that the Silver Age comic versions are basically in a dead heat and, if we’re totally honest, probably already ran on a joint ticket in an issue of World’s Finest.  Basically, I just wasted a few minutes of your time with a lot of words that actually didn’t answer anything, which leaves me with only one suggestion:

James Leask for president!

Brandon: So through the magic of the internet, I screwed a thing up, and had to re-answer these first questions. I might be cranky. Anyway, last night, I was watching the second episode of Boy Meets World, and Cory and his friends were discussing who would make the best dad. Shawn and the random-of-the-week suggested that Batman would be the best, because of all the cool gadgets, and the fact that you get to be a ward. Cory insists that Superman would make the best dad, because… well, he’s a good dude, and he’s strong and stuff. Cory’s friends make fun of him and blah blah blah. So. Later in the episode, when Cory’s dad comes home from work and tells Cory to skip out on the rest of a painting job so he can go be a kid, Cory realizes that his dad is Superman. He works 12 hour days, comes home and helps his kids, and tries to never let anyone down. It’s a sweet moment, and it’s also why I think Superman would be an awesome president. He would straight up take care of people. He’s a very selfless dude. Batman on the other hand? Inherently selfish. His mission has always been personal, first and foremost, and could you imagine what a presidency fuelled by vengeance would look like? Not so pretty. My answer. Superman. Whatever, let’s DO this.

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Matt, our Graphic Content co-conspirator (@matt_bowes), asks: Thoughts on the cancellation of Hellblazer?

James: Honestly, I don’t really have any.  First, I’ve never read a single issue.  Second, it’s a cancellation that doesn’t really mean anything, because they’re launching a new series (Constantine) that features the same character doing the same sort of things.  As I understand it, it’s basically just bringing the character to the post-New 52 continuity across the board, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, even if Hellblazer fans will be slightly miffed.

And hey, it’s not that surprising, all things considered.  Hellblazer hasn’t really been a big seller for a long time, and the logic behind relaunching it makes sense given that logic.  It’s not like the series could be considered to be dying a premature death, either – 300 issues is a lot – so it’s not like the series didn’t get a fair shake.  It will live on in collected editions, the character will continue on in not one but two series and at the end of the day, they can and will renumber it eventually anyway when it moves towards another milestone issue like #400.  This is a short-term move to attract readers and consolidate their continuity, and it’s hard for me to muster any sort of disappointment about that.

Brandon: I actually think this is the best possible thing to happen to this character, at this point in his lifespan. His title has been round for #300 issues, and the audience that follows it, is ever dwindling. Not that it’s a bad book – it’s actually been pretty consistently good since the book began years and years and years ago – but it’s time for something different, and giving an audience a chance for something different, also gives them a chance to either experience the character in a new light (for old readers) or experience them for the first time (for the new). Then, after the industry does as it does, and sales trickle downward (in spite of whatever inherent quality there might be in the book), there’s a chance for the book to return to Vertigo in a big way, with old readers salivating for the taste of some of that old Constantine magic (pow!) and new readers to (again) experience the character for the first time. Everybody wins!

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Jay (@jayrunham) asks: Which comic book character do you think would grow the best moustache for Movember?

James: Medusa.  Think about it.  What, you thought it had to be a man?  I can’t believe you’d be so hurtfully heteronormative, Jay.  You should be ashamed!  Medusa can grow and control her hair and that means all of it.  Don’t be so close-minded.  You disgust me.

Brandon: I wanna see Peter Parker rock that ‘stache. Partly because… that would just look funny, on his face, and under the mask. Plus, you’d get some wacky hijinx out of it being trouble for maintaining a secret identity. Does he shave it off and let down folks with cancer, or does he jeopardize his entire life. Classic Spidamen.

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Marc (@DasNordlicht91) asks: Who is your favourite comic book character in a movie?

Brandon: I would have to go with Parker Posey’s Fiona from Josie and the Pussycats. She’s a wonderful villain, who is just as devious as she if flawed, and is played quite hilariously over the top by Posey. I would actually love more comic book movies if the villains were a little more ridiculous sometimes.

James: Lee Meriwether as Catwoman/Miss Kitka in Batman 1966.  Some people might claim the always wonderful Julie Newmar is the best Catwoman, but for my money, Meriwether has always edged her out (if only barely).  As Catwoman, she’s sultry, menacing and the most intelligent of all the villains, and she cast a shadow over the character that nobody has yet been able to escape, though many have tried valiantly.  

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Ryan (@bakpakit) asks: Would you rather live in an area that gets ridiculously large snowfalls, hurricanes, tornados or earthquakes?

Brandon: Huge snowfalls. This is absolutely nothing compared to those other things. Plus, over the years, I’ve learned how to deal with snow quite well, by talking to it firmly.

James: Snowfalls, absolutely.  The other three are natural disasters; snow is an inconvenience.  

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Ryan (@bakpakit) continues: If you could add one actor/actress to the current cast of SNL to make it better, who would you pick?

Brandon: Hmm. I’m not exactly sure how to approach this question, as you usually have to be more under the radar to be added to SNL, and I’m not a dude who follows up-and-comers. Unless it’s within the comic book industry, but that’s more because that’s my vocation (not that I wouldn’t be following those folk otherwise…)

But anyway, if I had to chose someone based off of something, I might just have to go with… uh… Chris Pratt. Why not? That guy is awesome, if not waaaaay too big for that show.

James: I can’t really answer here, because not only do I really know who’s on SNL right now (I only know that Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis are still on it because I watched the Louis CK episode last Saturday, the first one I’d watched in years), but I also don’t really have a handle on a lot of sketch or stand-up comedy (the less said about my opinions about improv, the better), which is where the show tends to get its cast.  All of the people I could mention, like Nikki Glaser, already have jobs, which is why I know about them in the first place.

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Ryan (@bakpakit) carries on: Have you guys talked at all about Clark Kent quitting his job and becoming a blogger yet?

Brandon: We haven’t! If only because we have yet to read that issue of Superman and see what all the fuss is about. But hey, that’s a thing that happens. I know that dude straight up worked in television for a while, because newspapers were dead, so there’s that too.

James: I haven’t, because I’m not really that affected by it at all.  Sometimes, people change jobs.  Hell, Clark himself has done it before.  At some point, the tendency of the genre of superhero comics to return to its equilibrium will likely take hold and Clark will work at the Daily Planet again.  Likely right before Man of Steel comes out.

It’s a change that makes sense, given that we’re currently in a climate where the longevity of print newspapers is being questioned, but honestly, a big part of the reason this stuff happens is because comic publishers like getting publicity and any change to an iconic status quo, however brief, will get media attention beyond the usual comic spheres.  As much as the change in Clark’s job is a valid creative choice, it’s also an economic and marketing choice, and that’s okay.  If people are excited by it, DC‘s done their job.  If people are upset by it, DC‘s done their job, too.  A year or so ago, Marvel editor Tom Brevoort remarked on his Formspring account that the company prefers upset readers to apathetic ones, because it means they’re interested and buying comics.  That’s all this is: getting people upset to buy comics.  And that’s okay.

Ultimately, Clark will likely work for the Daily Planet again because that’s his iconic job and there’s a gravity well around those big aspects that draws the comics back to them.  But whatever Clark’s specific job is, he’ll still be the same general character, just like Spider-Man is still the same Peter Parker when he works at Horizon Labs instead of the Daily Bugle (though it’s interesting to note that in this case, the Bugle’s gravity well is still persisting with characters like Norah Winters even if Pete doesn’t work there).  At the end of the day, it’s the same Superman.

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Ryan (@bakpakit) goes for a two-in-one: What’s your favorite TV commercial of all time? And what’s your favorite comicbook ad of all time?

Brandon: For TV commercial, I would have to go with this one. Because I have not been able to get it out of my head ever, since I first watched it. You’re welcome.

As for comic book ad? Probably the one where Meatloaf talks about how special Olympians are the real superheroes, and plays a rock concert in space.

James: I already posted it a year and a half ago.

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 Ryan (@bakpakit) packs it in with: Is there anything non-comic pop-culturewise you are looking forward to?

Brandon: Well, there’s a TONNE of new movies out that I’d like to watch. Cloud Atlas has me particularly intrigued, what with it’s use of multiple stories and narratives as a whole. Plus: T. Hanks!

James: Like Brandon said: movies!  While I’ve been dealing with other stuff the past few weeks, a whole bunch of movies I really want to see have come out, like Cloud AtlasSeven PsychopathsWreck-It Ralph, The Master and The Man With the Iron Fists, with Skyfall coming out soon and Lincoln, Silver Lining Playbook and Anna Karenina coming out right after that.  Then you’ve got The Hobbit and Les Miserables around Christmas.  

Plus, I just bought Assassin’s Creed III and the Wii U comes out soon, so there’s that as well.

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Brittney (@britl) asks: What’s the best thing to do in this snow?

Brandon: Hide bodies with Danica.

James: Be murdered, apparently.

 Liz (@piggtailgirl) asks: If I fail university, what should be my backup plan?

Brandon: As a person who dropped out of college after his first year, I think I might be able to answer this quite nicely: get a job at a comic book store, and be a constant disappointment to your parents. 

James: Well, Liz: 

A) You won’t fail, because I will see to it.

2) Theatre.  You like it, it’s creatively fulfilling and, most importantly, it’ll give me an opening for my own play-writing projects, if I ever actually pick them up again. 

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Devin Bruce (@Doctor_Teeth) asks: Which of your favourite television shows would make for the best comic book and why?

Brandon: If we’re talking former favourites, I would say Pushing Daisies because… well, it’s bright and wonderful, and features beautiful narration. Otherwise, I would probably have to say The Walking Dead probably has some potential as a comic series.

James: Honestly, it’s hard to think of any because it’s so hard to adapt a property to another medium and have it keep the same qualities that made it creatively successful in the first place.  The comics-to-movies transition seems to be fairly successful in a lot of situations because the characters’ iconic natures gives them a certain flexibility and resilience, but there aren’t any TV series that I watch that have decades worth of material to give them that cache (at least ones that don’t already have comics).

Part of my difficulty is likely due to the fact that a big part of what I watch a television show for is the meter and sound of its dialogue, and that’s the single most difficult part in adapting between an audiovisual medium and text.  It’s hard to capture the pacing when you’re working in terms of balloons, and it’s even harder when there’s a lot of dialogue.  I watch a lot of comedies, in particular ones with fairly dense amounts of language.  In comics, that’s a liability, because balloons blog up a panel and reduce the space for the characters, something that filming doesn’t have to worry about.  For example, a Community or Happy Endings comic would be basically unreadable in all but the most capable hands, and even then, it would be something different and not necessarily equal, let alone preferable.  Very few writers can do this task well – Brian Bendis is one, which probably explains why he’s already writing Castle comics.

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Jay Runham (@Doctor_Teeth) asks: Can the Raptors come back from their 1-4 start to the season?

Brandon: If I know anything about the Raptors, it’s this: no.

James: Anything is possible, man.  It’s just not necessarily likely.

———-

Scott Williams (@scottowilliams) asks: Where am I?

Brandon: If we told you, that would defeat the purpose of this game. The game in which we stuff you into the our secret murder hole and… wait, I forget what the next step was going to be. Also, I think we need to come up with a name for the murder hole.

James: Sounds like the Comics! The Blog Patented Soundproof John Wilkes Booth has claimed another victim.

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Scott Williams (@scottowilliams) begs: How long have I been here?

Brandon: Like my nana would say, for a coon’s age. My nana doesn’t understand why that might be a little problematic to say. The elderly sometimes mean well though, maybe.

James: Isn’t that just a state of mind, Scott?

———-

Scott Williams (@scottowilliams) pleads: What are you doing with those squirrels?

Brandon: Secret things. Dong secret things, possibly. I’m confused and tired.

James: Have you seen Dinner For Shmucks?  Nothing like that.

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Scott Williams (@scottowilliams) pleads: Who is your favourite fictional extraterrestrial?

Brandon: James Spader.

James: I don’t see species, Scott.  A person is a floating cephalopod is a person, I always say.  Because I wasn’t raised to be prejudiced.

That said, I’m a fan of the Krogans in the Mass Effect series and am still upset that Bioware never gave me the option to romance one during the games.  Talk about unfair.

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Scott Williams (@scottowilliams) shudders: What upcoming thing in comics are you looking forward to?

Brandon: Ah, SO MANY THINGS! Pretty much every Fraction and DeConnick Image thing. But more immediately, I would have to say I’m really excited to experience what Brian Michael Bendis is going to do with the X-Men, especially considering the place Cyclops has been left in.

James: Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios‘ revenge western Pretty Deadly.  Fraction and Chaykin‘s Satellite Sam.  Fraction and Chip Zdarsky‘s Sex Criminals.  Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl.  Young Avengers.  The list goes on…

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Scott Williams (@scottowilliams) contorts: Who are your favourite fictional presidents not played by Martin Sheen?

Brandon: Gonna go with Harrison Ford in Air Force One, because that dude was just a little bit taller and a little bit baller.

James: Andrew Shepherd in The American President, played by Michael Douglas.  What’s that, you say?  That’s basically the same choice, seeing as both were principled, liberal Democrats written by Aaron Sorkin and that The West Wing started off as a way for Sorkin to work through additional ideas he had while writing The American President?  Those all seem like good enough reasons to me.

Seriously, that movie is ballin’.

———-

Scott Williams (@scottowilliams) threatens: Do you really think you’re going to get away with this?

Brandon: Scott, you’ve been dying from AIDS for months. Everyone will just think you’ve finally succumbed. You will be our literal skeleton in the closet, but whatever.

James: Scott, we already have.  I believe you’ll find no one loves or cares about you and thus will not be bothered by your disappearance.

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That’s it for the thirty-third installment of Um, Actually!  Check in every Thursday for a new batch of questions.  If you have anything you’d like answered, hit up our Contact page!  If you submit anything via Twitter – to @blogaboutcomics@leask or @soupytoasterson – remember to include the hashtag #UMACTUALLY so that we don’t lose it.  Remember: you can ask us anything.

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