Aug 31, 2010

Darwyn Cooke Tells It Like It Is!

I got this video from Pol Rua, and Darwyn Cooke simply tells it like it is.

Essentially, he says Marvel and DC have to stop catering to the perverted needs of 45-year-old men, that straight characters who have been straight for the last 60 years shouldn't become lesbians all of a sudden, that no one wants anyone to get raped in the ass, or whatever.

Hmm, seems like I said some similar words a while back...

On my Facebook page, after I posted this, Ty Templeton responded with:

It's hard not to agree with anyone with that much craggy character in the face. But of course he's right. I took Sue Dibney's rape personally, and believe that Batman was permanently devalued by Jason's Death and Barbara's crippling and rape, and Sarah Essen's POINTLESS murder (now forgotten). It makes Batman a useless character, incapable of inspiring a reader, or indeed, bringing justice to Gotham. Nowadays, he's just a pissed off guy in a weird costume, instead of a super-hero.

Ty is right, of course, but I responded with a really long response but mostly, it just asked him if it wouldn't be good if Batman lost once in a while. To which he said:

And no, it's not fine if Batman loses once in a while. He may APPEAR to be losing, or suffering in the middle of a story, but Batman's essential super-power is that he always finds a way to win. As soon as you make him human, make him fai...l, make him incapable of "finding that way"... he's just another guy in a suit. Imagine how Rocky would be remembered if Apollo Creed knocked him out in the first round. No one would have talked about it, and it wouldn't have been considered for the Oscars it won. Imagine if Darth Vader killed Luke and that was it. There comes a point where you've stopped writing the mythological character, and started writing about a loser. We do not read heroic fiction to be told that the world is hopeless, or that struggle is for nothing. That's what real life often tells us, and there's a REASON this stuff is called escapist fantasy. Without a triumphant Batman, you have a musical without music, a ballet without dancing.'s "different" but it is the point of varying so far from the form that it's unrecognizable.
I shall leave the music-less musicals for folks who are only interested in being non-conformist, but it is, by definition, not what "Super-heroes" are. 

Which again is entirely true. It's called escapist fiction for a reason, and that's not for us to get depressed. The truth is that, as David Mazzucchelli said in his appendix to Batman: Year One, the more we try to make superheroes realistic, the more we expose its absurdities. For example, oh, we must make this a realistic Batman story. How do we do that? I know, have Joker kill a bunch of people! But wait, to make it really realistic, wouldn't Batman have to kill him too? After all, he's letting more people die every time he keeps the Joker alive. Nah, we'll come up with some excuse to keep Joker around for next time. The fans'll buy it, trust me.

As Grant Morrison once said to Animal Man, "We thought that by making your world more violent, we would make it more 'realistic,' more 'adult.' God help us if that's what it means."

Aug 30, 2010

Reclaiming History: Jess Jodloman

Welcome to a new installment of Reclaiming History, an ongoing series where the Comics Cube! tries to balance out what the history books say and what actually happened! Click here for the archive!

Today, we reclaim history in favor of Jess Jodloman, a very talented, prominent, and significant Filipino artist!

It may be argued that I should devote a whole column (and perhaps I will) one day to the Filipino Invasion of comics in the 1970s. That was a time when Filipinos drew many books - mostly horror and suspense books - where the most famous names were most probably Alex Nino and Alfredo Alcala.

"Isolation" by Alex Nino. Image from Gerry Alanguilan.

Alfredo Alcala's Voltar. Image from Gerry Alanguilan.
Since then, there's always been a significant Filipino presence in comics, with Romeo Tanghal inking George Perez on New Teen Titans and Alfredo Alcala inking Rick Veitch on Swamp Thing during both titles' peak periods:

In the 1990s, of course, one of the leading artists - and one of the founding fathers of Image - was Whilce Portacio:

Currently, undoubtedly one of the industry heavyweights today is Leinil Francis Yu:

And Gerry Alanguilan, first and foremost on the komiks scene in the country, is having his graphic novel Elmer published by Slave Labor Graphics in November:

However, I want to reclaim history this time in favor of Jess Jodloman, whom I met last Saturday at the Metro Comic Convention. There were some booths where artists were selling some folios, and while I hadn't heard of Jess at the time (I am not as up-to-speed on Filipino comics as I would like to be), his work definitely caught my eye.

He was very near the Alfredo Alcala exhibit, and I love Alfredo Alcala, and here was work that captured the same kind of detail, the same kind of realism, with the same kind of quality. Here was Jess Jodloman, whom I'd never heard of, but thought that at that moment I should absolutely, definitely look into. So Peachy and I bought a folio.

Jess Jodloman worked in komiks from 1954 onwards, and really turned the heads of the Filipinos at the time with his "Ramir" in Bulaklak Komiks. "Ramir" was a heroic fantasy series, which was so popular at the time that it was made into a movie.

Unfortunately, ask anyone today to give you the list of important Filipino artists of the time, and you'll more often than not get the same answers: Ravelo. Alcala. Redondo. Jess Jodloman would likely get omitted, which is a damn shame, because look at that.

In 1965, he trained Alex Nino, who is also more well-known than he is at this point, having done a lot of internationally renowned work, including for Disney.

And in the seventies, Jodloman was one of the Filipino artists recruited by Joe Orlando to work on fantasy and horror titles! Along with Alcala and Abe Ocampo and Tony DeZuniga, Jodloman produced work that appeared in Weird War Tales, House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, Weird Mystery Tales, Kull the Conqueror, and The Savage Sword of Conan. Unfortunately, that time period and the horror comics it was producing at the time has never been of great interest to me, since I thought that if I were going to try to pursue the genre, I should just look at EC Comics. Things like "Vampires Gold" is making me really reconsider.

Image from Gerry Alanguilan

Jodloman's barbarians has been compared to Frank Frazetta's, which is undoubtedly an honor for anyone who wants to work on barbarians and swords and sorcery type stuff.

I'd compare him more to Barry Windsor-Smith and John Buscema as it pertains to his ability to portray things very realistically. I mean, look at that horse!

Because I went to the Metrocon, I am now officially a Jess Jodloman fan. He was there at the frontlines, folks, and he was awesome. It was a great and wonderful pleasure to meet him and shake his hand, and I'll be scouring the bins at cons for more of his work in the future.

According to Kurt Busiek over at the Conan message boards, you can find Jess Jodloman's American work in the following comics:

EERIE #118
GHOSTS #22, 81, 83
HOUSE OF MYSTERY #226, 234, 238, 242, 243, 246, 247, 251, 254, 257, 261, 268, 284, 288, 311.
MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #16 (Ivanhoe), 18 (The Odyssey)
SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #12, 14-16, 30, 38
UNEXPECTED #159, 176, 190, 194, 195, 210
WEIRD MYSTERY TALES #9, 10, 13, 15
WEIRD WAR TALES #32, 33, 38, 46, 79, 80, 120

According to the Comics Journal, restoration for Ramir is underway. Good!

Aug 29, 2010

Escher in Comics: Jim Aparo's Phantom Stranger

Welcome to another installment of Escher in Comics, in which we take a look at how some comics use MC Escher's artistic techniques! Click here for the archive!

 For those of you not in the know, MC Escher (1898-1972) was a Dutch graphic artist that was known for tessellations, optical illusions, and mathematical pictures.One of his most famous pieces was the woodcut print, "Another World."

As you can see, it plays with the concept of a center of gravity, and can't possibly exist.

Which is perfect playing ground for supernatural characters! The Phantom Stranger, one of DC Comics' mystical characters, was never given a straight-up origin, in order to play into the whole "man of mystery" angle. So when he got featured in Secret Origins #10, dated January 1987, writers Dan Mishkin, Alan Moore, Mike Barr, and Paul Levitz collaborated with Ernie Colon, Joe Orlando, Jim Aparo, and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez to tell four very different origins for the gray walker.

Check out Jim Aparo's cover, a clear nod to Escher's "Another World"!

You can find out more about Secret Origins #10 on this Phantom Stranger blog!

This story can be found in:

Aug 28, 2010

George Perez Needs Support

Hello, folks. As you may or may not know, George Perez is my favorite artist. He's also pretty much known as the nicest man in comics, is behind on deadlines. Unlike most people, he has a damn good reason.

A few months ago, George went through some eye surgery, due to worsening eyesight. There have been follow-up procedures, and George has been finding it hard to draw, since the drawing table has a light that shines through the paper.

This has drastically delayed the already-decades-long-delayed Teen Titans: Games, for which George, in his infinite graciousness, feels really bad, but I think we can all say that health comes first. Feel free to drop George a line and give him your support on his official Facebook page or his Twitter account.

Teen Titans: Games

Don't worry about us, George. It's worth the wait. Take care of yourself.

Aug 27, 2010

Easter Eggs in Comics: Joker and Lex Luthor done a la Calvin and Hobbes!

Welcome to a very special installment of Easter Eggs in Comics! Click here for the archive!

Superman/Batman #75 just came out, and it's got a whole bunch of two-pagers, but this one has been making the rounds, so I figured I'd share it here.

From Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, here are Lex Luthor and the Joker, in a tribute to Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes! Click to enlarge!

Source is here!

What's the word for this? Oh, yeah. AWESOME.

Hard to believe that it's from the same guys who brought us the hyperrealistic Lex Luthor: Man of Steel and the Joker OGN. Now that's versatility!

Aug 26, 2010

Comics Techniques And Tricks: Will Eisner

Welcome to another edition of Comics Techniques and Tricks, in which we showcase techniques that only comics can do! Click here for the archive!

On June 6, 1948, fans were treated to Will Eisner's Spirit story, "The Guilty Gun," in which the Spirit tried to solve a cold murder mystery from 1942.

Eisner has an inventive way of showing us the details of the case, by using index cards, folders, paper clips, and note paper as panels and accessories to those panels.

Note how once we get off the exposition and back to the Spirit, it reclaims the shape of a regular panel!

Eisner was truly inventive, and it's for this reason that he was one of the most influential comics artists of all time.

Aug 24, 2010

The Spider-Man Clone Saga: What Went Wrong (a selective summary)

So I've got this friend who mentioned the Clone Saga to me, and I said, "The Clone Saga was a ridiculous ridiculous mess, made more ridiculous by the fact that it COULD have been so good." I then pointed him to The Life of Reilly, a blog that covered what went wrong with the Clone Saga in 35 parts. Plus comments. Likening it to a legal brief, my friend then told me that a summary would be nice. So here's my attempt at summarizing a really really long and convoluted period in Spider-Man's history.

I have this poster by Tom Lyle. Yes, I liked the Scarlet Spider. You'll see why.

 Needless to say, even with a selective summary, this can get rather long, so I'm putting a jump break in.

Ready? Set? GO!

Can You Match the Artists to the Characters?

This is a mural that DC Comics has on the walls of their offices.

It features characters drawn by different artists.

Can you match the artists with the characters? I'll continue to update this post with your answers!

Just to get rid of the easiest ones, here are the first three answers!

  • Bob Kane - Batman
  • Curt Swan  - Superman
  • George Perez - Wonder Woman
Answers are in!

Matthew notes that Jack Kirby did Darkseid and that Gil Kane did Green Lantern Hal Jordan!

Aris B. Panganiban notes that Matt Wagner drew The Demon Etrigan; Joe Kubert did Hawkman, Jim Aparo did Phantom Stranger; Neal Adams did Deadman; Andy Kubert did Sgt. Rock; Mike Grell did Warlor; Howard Chaykin did Blackhawk; Ramona Fradon did Metamorpho; Dick Giordano did Sarge Steel; Steve Lightle did Robotman; Jim Steranko did Jay Garrick; Dave Gibbons did Rorschach; Walt Simonson did Manhunter, Martin Nodell did Green Lantern Alan Scott; Joe Staton did Green Lantern Guy Gardner; Kurt Schaffenberger did Captain Marvel; Murphy Anderson did Adam Strange; Gene Colan did Silverblade; Steve Bissette and John Totleben did Swamp Thing; and Steve Rude did Mr. Miracle.

Darrell D. says that Jay Garrick looks like he was drawn by Jaime Hernandez, though I don't see Jaime's signature anywhere on the list. He also notes that Zatara looks like he was drawn by Jim Steranko, so someone's got to chime in and discuss who actually did Jay Garrick or who Steranko actually drew. He also thinks Judomaster was drawn by Dick Giordano, which contradicts Aris's contention above, so someone's got to chime in and say which one Dick drew here. I'm sure it's one of the two.

Darrell D. also notes that Zatanna was drawn by Gray Marrow, Hourman by Beto Hernandez, Cain by Joe Orlando, and J'onn J'onnz by Art Adams. He also notes that Lady Blackhawk was possibly done by Frank McLaughlin, Ragman by Bill Sienkewicz, White Witch by P. Craig Russell, and Power Girl by Frank Thorne.

Aug 23, 2010

What to Expect From the Comics Cube! In the Next Couple of Weeks

There's a lot for the Cube! to tackle in the next couple of weeks, folks. So here's what you can expect to see.

I've got this friend who mentioned the Spider-Man Clone Saga to me, and I said, "The Clone Saga was a ridiculous ridiculous mess, made more ridiculous by the fact that it COULD have been so good." I then pointed him to The Life of Reilly, a blog that covered what went wrong with the Clone Saga in 35 parts. Plus comments. Likening it to a legal brief, my friend then told me that a summary would be nice. So at some point, stop by to see my attempt at summarizing a really really long and convoluted period in Spider-Man's history.

At the Komikon this last weekend, I met Ace Enriquez and David Hontiveros of Bathala: Apokalypsis, Budjette Tan of Trese, and Jess Jodloman, a prominent artist of Filipino komiks and DC horror titles, including such titles as Secrets of the Haunted House and Weird Mystery Tales. Jodloman was a contemporary of the Redondos and the Alcalas, and I must say is one of the most "Bill Fingered" artists to ever come across the pike. I bought a folio.

Anyway, to that end, expect reviews of Bathala: Apokalypsis and Trese relatively soon.

Also, expect a couple of new installments of Reclaiming History, one featuring Jess Jodloman, the underhyped Pinoy, and one featuring Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, quite probably the most important DC Comics artist that people have rarely ever heard of.

Also, expect to see a new edition of A Sense of Wonder. Unless I change my mind, this will have to do with Captain Marvel, and why attempts to integrate him into the mainstream DC Universe have been at best moderately successful.

Beyond that, you can expect to see the usual Easter Eggs and Comics Techniques and Tricks!

I'm also thinking of having another theme week, much like Spider-Man Week, or another two-week long countdown feature, much like the Top Ten Most Influential Comics Artists. I take requests, folks! Tell me what you want me to talk about, and I'll likely be able to do it.

So keep tuning in, Comics Cubers!

    Aug 21, 2010

    Easter Eggs in Comics: John Byrne's Fantastic Four

    Welcome to another installment of Easter Eggs in Comics! Click here for the archive!

    Just to show you folks that I don't hate him, today's Easter Eggs come from John Byrne!

    In Fantastic Four #276, Reed and Sue Richards, posing as Reed and Sue Benjamin, throw a housewarming party, with more than a few familiar guests.

    Picture from ByrneRobotics

    So all of these folks are from various comic strips! Let's check 'em out.

    The most recognizable one is arguably Blondie from, well, Blondie, by Chic Young:

    While the least recognizable one is her husband, Dagwood. This is a particularly tough task for Byrne, since there isn't really a way to do Dagwood "realistically" without losing what makes him Dagwood, but he comes close.

    Also from Blondie is their neighbor, Herb Woodley:

    Also present are Bill Hoest's Leroy and Loretta Lockhorn, from The Lockhorns. Loretta's nose and Leroy's balding head are the dead giveaways.

    At the door are Hyram and Lois Fieldstone, obvious tributes to Hiram and Lois Flagston of Mort Walker's Hi and Lois.

    On the couch are Joe and Ann Palooka, from Joe Palooka:

    I couldn't find a picture of Ann.

    And they're talking to Chester Gould's Dick Tracy:

    Then there's a character from Frank King's Gasoline Alley. I would have assumed that this was Uncle Walt (middle), but on his site, Byrne says it's Skeezix (right). I suppose you could infer that they'd look similar when they get to be that age.

    The ones that jumped out to me are the last two. Here's Jiggs, the main character from George McManus' Bringing Up Father:

    And from Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace, here's Denace's dad, Henry Mitchell:

    Fun stuff!

    Aug 20, 2010

    Some things are just too cool for words.

    Yeah, I'm gonna let this speak for itself. Click to embiggen.

    The review in question is here.

    Wally Wood's 22 Panels That Always Work

    It has come to my attention that someone actually came onto my site looking for Alex Toth's "Comic Panels That Always Work." No such thing exists, folks.

    What I believe that person was looking for was Wally Wood's "22 Panels That Always Work, or some interesting ways to get some variety into those boring panels when some dumb writer has a bunch of lame characters sitting around and talking for page after page!!"

    It's a helpful tool to any artist who's not feeling particularly inspired during a conversation scene. Any of these will always work.

    Thanks to BookSteve and Hooray for Wally Wood for the image!

    Aug 19, 2010

    Comics Techniques and Tricks: Steve Ditko (with Andy Kubert and Marcos Martin)

    Welcome to another edition of Comics Techniques and Tricks, in which we showcase techniques that only comics can do! Click here for the archive!

    So, remember the previous edition of Comics Techniques and Tricks that featured Rick Veitch's Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset? No? Go!

    Are you back yet? Anyway, in it is a trick where he uses paintings to reflect what's going on in the main narrative. While not exactly the same thing, I did notice a similar trick used by Andy Kubert and Marcos Martin, in which they used pop art to account for the sound effects.

    Here's a panel from Batman #656, dated October 2006, written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Andy Kubert (this trick recurs throughout the issue, since the entire issue takes place in a pop art exhibit):

    Interestingly, if this tells us anything, it's that sound effects really are temporary.
    The second panel clearly just treats it like an image. The sound of "blam" has come and gone
    from our consciousness already, and we just see it as an image instead of hear it as an effect.

    And here's a riff on Roy Lichtenstein's Whaam painting, by Marcos Martin in Amazing Spider-Man #560, written by Dan Slott and dated July 2008:

    Whaam, by Roy Lichtenstein

    The original panel Lichtenstein stole, from All-American Men of War, by Irv Novick
    Dan Slott and Marcos Martin find a use for hack work, Amazing Spider-Man #560

    I was wondering if this was a recent trick, and today I found out that it was not, thanks to Dial B for Blog. In Beware the Creeper #2, by the one and only Steve Ditko and dated August 1968, we see the following sequence:

    Interestingly, this is the complete opposite of the Batman example.
    In this one, the effects are seen as images first, and then our brain
    processes them as sounds as they correspond with the action.
    In comics, sound and picture are the same thing, and our brain
    automatically does the processing.

    I think we can safely assume that this is the first time the technique was used, since such sound effects, or even the use of artwork with words in them (pop art or no pop art) were not widespread and popular until the mid- to late 60s.

    It's a trick best used sparingly, but one would think we'd have seen more of it in the forty years since its debut!

    Aug 18, 2010

    Comics For Kids: A Double Standard

    So, a couple of weeks back, Robert Kirkman, writer/artist of Invincible, said, in reference to superhero comics being for kids:

    "When I was reading comics when I was 15, Superman didn't deal with rape so much, you know? There weren't a lot of dark elements to mainstream superhero comics. I think that it's pretty obvious that one of the things that's hurting comics is that the subject matter is so inappropriate for a mass audience. You know, Marvel just did an intercompany crossover which was supposed to be something all of their readers can read, and it had guys ripping each other in half and intestines were flying all over the place. That's the kind of thing that you would see in a Walking Dead comic. I don't want to see Spider-Man swinging around, tripping in intestines going, 'Aw, crap! What a mess!' That's not the kind of thing that's going to get Billy down the street off of his Xbox. I think part of the problem is that the writers and artists that are doing these books want to write them for themselves, instead of for the audience they should be writing to. And I think that's a real problem. [...] I think it's cool to see superheroes rip people in half. Because if superheroes really had superpowers, that's the kind of shit that would happen, just on accident, you know? And so I created a book called Invincible that isn't meant for a younger audience, and has superheroes ripping each other in half. But I didn't try to take Superman and turn it into that book. I did my own book. I think that's the key."

    To which Tom Brevoort, Marvel's VP and Executive Editor, responded with:

    "I see Robert Kirkman has joined the Erik Larsen 'Do as I say, not as I do' club when it comes to the content in mainstream super hero comics. Guys, you've got all the freedom in the world to do whatever kinds of comics you want, and so do we. It's unapologetically ironic that the guy publishing INVINCIBLE, probably the bloodiest, goriest super hero comics in years, is the one casting these stones. And yes, I know he tries to contextualize it, but it's still 'Do as I say, not as I do.' If you want those kinds of comics, MAKE THEM! I think it's absurdly hypocritical to publish a violent book that looks like an issue of Teen Titans on the racks, then take this stance. And just to be clear: I like both Robert's and Erik's work. Never miss an issue of WALKING DEAD or INVINCIBLE."

    So who's right? Who's wrong? Well, quite frankly? I think they're both wrong. But I also think Kirkman is right. Now hear me out.

    I don't think hyperviolence - be it its excess or toning it down - is going to do anything to get kids into comics or not. Kids see much, much worse things in their video games, or their friends' video games, and they'll see much worse on cable. I mean, yeah, I could do without Spider-Man using his sticking power on human flesh and removing a layer of skin, as he did in a recent issue, but that's got more to do with that being out of character for Spider-Man than it being inappropriate for kids. If, say, Wolverine is shown spilling blood, what's the harm? It's perfectly in keeping with his character. So I don't think there's anything objectionable in this type of violence - these days, kids see it sooner rather than later. What I call into question, as it regards violence, is the sheer gratuity. Showing intestines being eaten isn't really all that artistic, and it's a really, really cheap way to get the reader's attention. So on that end, I think the creators should try harder, but if you don't want them to see the gore, you better keep them away from PSPs and Wiis too.

    Gory? Yes, to old men like us. To kids? This is lite in comparison to their video games.

    But there are other issues that I would certainly argue aren't all that suitable for children. Chief among these is the sex, and on this judgment call, I certainly, absolutely am influenced by the fact that I am an uncle, and I have a nephew and a niece for whom I am not responsible when it comes to giving them "talks" about "life stuff," and I also want them to have role models and enjoy a sense of wonder as they grow up.

    This makes the subject of sex a really tricky issue. I would not give either of these kids the Sandman books (they're too young for it anyway), but I really want them to enjoy, say, the Justice League, ike I enjoyed the Justice League. So I really don't want to have to give a Justice League comic I see these days, like, for example Identity Crisis, and have my nephew ask me what the hell Dr. Light did to Sue Dibny. The boy is smart enough to know when I'm dodging a question, and it's not really my place to answer that question, capische?

    Seriously, what does something like this add?
    It's just a short-term surprise, that's all.

    Now, if you were to do a story like this in, say, The Authority, that's perfectly all right, as the audience for that comic is not only decidedly more adult, but decidedly adult, period.

    My other issue has to do with having admirable characters. Look, folks, I'm sorry, but there is a damn double standard here, and it should as hell be in place. Note, for example, when Alan Moore took Marvelman and made the stories more adult, infusing sex and a whole lot of gore and more intellectual themes, and making Kid Marvelman a villain.

     That's okay, and it's okay for two reasons: (1) No one but old people were going to be reading Marvelman anyway, and (2) It was the 80s, and the concept of the adult superhero was still fairly new, and thus there weren't all that many characters to choose from. In this day and age, with so many characters to possibly choose from, I really, really don't see the point of corrupting Mary Marvel (and putting her in an overly sexualized suit):

    Original Mary Marvel: Such a fun-loving, honest-to-goodness superhero!

    Evil Mary Marvel: Because for some reason, people think this is better!

    And that's even after Jeff Smith's Shazam! and the Monster Society of Evil came out.

    Like I've said in my review, my niece absolutely fell in love with the character of Mary Marvel, and I don't want to have to say, "Oh well, see, in this 'real' universe, she turned bad! And she chose to be that way, too!" As it is, any momentum that the Shazam characters could have due to Jeff Smith's excellent work was completely muted by the developments that DC put the whole family through, all for the sake of "pushing the envelope." How about we quit trying to push envelopes and just tell good stories?

    The obvious point I'm getting at here is that, yes, absolutely, there is and should be a double standard. There's stuff that "fringe" comics can do that the "main" comics simply shouldn't. I don't think any new young reader is going to pick up Secret Six off the shelves - the covers wouldn't appeal to them - so you can do much edgier, more sexual stuff in that book. But the icons - I'm talking Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the Justice League, the Avengers (we can debate the degrees of kid-friendliness for each icon later) - at the very least should be written in such a manner as they were written in the 70s and 80s. Layered, in such a way that new and young readers can enjoy them just as much as an old and experienced reader. And don't tell me it can't be done - the DC Animated Universe did it all the time. Heck, Gargoyles did it all the time. Brave and the Bold does it right now! As a general rule, as far as I'm concerned, if you're not going to show it on Saturday morning, don't put it in! You can have intelligent and enjoyable stories even without all the explicit sex and moral lapses in judgment. Both things have their place, but the iconic superhero is supposed to reflect the best of us, and I'd like the stories to show that. Something like Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson's Astro City is a perfect example: nothing in excess, just really good storytelling.

    Astro City: Comics for the whole family!

    Of course, if you're the type who just really thinks it's important to see Gwen Stacy's arching neck while Norman Osborn has consensual sex with her, because somehow telling a story like that is just so gosh-darned important, then I'll just have to agree to disagree with you.

    Seriously? Really? Image from Comics101.