Top 100 Comics CBR

Its that time of year again where Comic Book Resources conduct a poll to reveal the top 100 comic storylines of all time. Once again I forgot to vote. But I thought I would do a follow up piece on how many of the top 100 I have read just to check my geek credentials. Then I will comment on whether I agree with what came out on top and some comics I would put on the list.

So lets get into the business. Of the top 100 comic storyline as voted for by the CBR readers I have read (drum roll) 29! Way less than than half and just edging past a quarter. Am I not the geek I claim to be? Thankfully I have more in the top half (17) than the bottom half (12) including 6 of the top 10. Best of all for my credibility as a comics blogger I have read all of the top 3. I know things like this shouldn’t bother me but it has created a topic for discussion. Next year I will actually vote! There is no way my votes will affect the outcome of the 100. Some more stats for you. Not surprisingly the majority of what I have read is Marvel (19). DC and Indies took 5 each. Though those 5 independent titles are all Vertigo titles so really it is a 19/10 split. I generally don’t read a lot of independents but I can think of three titles off the top of my head that would make my top 100. Any arc of Southern Bastards (Image) and C.O.W.L. #1-11 (Image). I’m surprised Sleeper didn’t make the list. Ed Brubaker has a huge following and I can read that over and over again. Some of the more street level stuff from IDW’s TMNT would be pushing for a place on my list too. To be honest there weren’t a lot of indie titles on the list that I thought “Oh I must read that.” Two DC books on the list which I’ve been meaning to read for a long time are All Star Superman and The Judas Contract. I want to read the entire Wolfman and Perez run on New Teen Titans from the beginning so when I get to Judas Contract I am heavily invested in the characters. Over on the Marvel side of things is Ultimates 2 better than volume 1? Daredevil: Man Without Fear seemed very low. Rightfully so Born Again was in the top 3. I myself would of had it at number one edging out Watchmen. At times the rules seem rather strict but the fact they included ‘The Elektra Saga’ as one story even though its not always told over consecutive issues seemed a little lapse. I’m not complaining though, it is a great run. The original Wolverine mini series and Weapon X are both way better Wolverine stories than Old Man Logan. I would probably even go as far as to have the Wolverine mini in my top 5. While The Dark Phoenix Saga is brilliant story telling. It has some great monologues and character moments I would have God Loves Man Kills as my highest X-Men story. I think just being shorter in length it makes it a tighter story than TDPS. Any way next year I will vote and do a follow up on this, explaining my voting. Here is the complete list of the CBR Top 100 comics that I have read.

98. Love and Death (Swamp Thing #28-34) – Moore, Bissette, Totleben

91. Slavers (Punisher MAX #25-30) – Ennis/Fernandez

85. Daredevil: Man Without Fear – Miller/Romita Jnr

82. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Moore/O’Neill

81. Avengers Forever – Busiek/Stern/Pacheo

75. Ultimates 2 – Millar/Hitch

74. The Longbow Hunters – Grell

70. Gifted (Astonishing X-Men #1-6) – Whedon/Cassaday

66. The Dark Angel Saga (Uncanny X-Force #10-18) – Remender/Opena/Ribic/Tan

65. Weapon X (MCP #72-84) – Smith

61. The Last Iron Fist Story (Immortal Iron Fist #1-14) – Brubaker/Fraction/Aja

55. Swamp Thing #21-27 – Moore/Bissette/Totleben

43. Wolverine #1-4 – Claremont/Miller

38. Vision #1-12 – King/Hernandez/Walta

37. Secret Wars #1-12 – Shooter/Zeck/Layton

35. Planet Hulk (Incredible Hulk #92-105) – Pak/Pagulayan

33. Old Man Logan (Wolverine #66-72) – Millar/McNiven

30. The Elektra Saga (Daredevil various) Miller/Janson

24. V For Vendetta – Moore/Lloyd

22. Civil War – Millar/McNiven

16. The New Frontier – Cooke

15. Marvels – Busiek/Ross

12. Kravens Last Hunt (ASM #293-294 and SSM #131-132) De Matties/Zeck/McLeod

8. Batman The Long Halloween – Loeb/Sale

5. Batman: Year One (Batman #404-407) – Miller/Mazzucchelli

4. Born Again (Daredevil #227-233) – Miller/Mazzucchelli

3. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Miller/Janson

2. The Dark Phoenix Saga (UXM #129-137) – Claremont/Byrne

  1. Watchmen – Moore/Gibbons





Top 100 Comics CBR

Will Eisner 100

Lets talk about Will Eisner. Like Jack Kirby, Will Eisner would have been 100 years old this year. This isn’t an attack on Kirby or Kirby fans. But Eisner doesn’t seem to get the recognition. I put it down to not really working for the ‘big two’. Where as Kirby’s work is still being mined therefore introducing new readers to his work. Eisner is more for the hard core comics fan and he gets plenty of credit from the right people. I just want the everyday comics fan to read this and go away with an appreciation for the man. If Kirby is regarded as a legend, Eisner can certainly match him but is also a pioneer for all things comics.

I came to Will Eisner via Frank Miller. Master and pupil. I always pictured myself being the third one in the chain. As further reading to this blog I recommend the book ‘Eisner/Miller’ which was put out by Dark Horse in 2005. When you look back at their careers they don’t immediately seem a match. Eisner is seen as an innovator of the sequential art form. Whereas Miller at his peek was the more modern cinematic style artist. The book is a real candid look at both writers careers. They talk about everything from inspiration, comics as an industry and take shots at Bob Kane. Eisner knows the business inside out, he knows all the major players and it makes for a great read. Everyone knows he popularized the term ‘graphic novel’ with his seminal work ‘A Contract With God’. Throughout his career he has battled against the format of comics. Never understanding the standard size of comics and producing his stuff in the size of regular books. When you read about a young Frank Miller you get a sense that he sought out specific people to learn from. Eisner being one of them. At its core ‘The Spirit’ is a very simple concept that has lasted the test of time. Admittedly it should see more regular publication. Created in 1940 it is the story of a masked vigilante aiding The Police Commissioner. He fights a egomaniacal arch nemesis The Octopus and the stories are littered with scientists, henchmen and femme fatales. Any of this sound familiar? Any crime/noir comic that has come since The Spirit’s debut has drawn on the foundations Eisner laid down. None more so than Miller and his work on his creator owned ‘Sin City’. Miller also homages his mentor visually throughout his career. Often in ‘The Spirit’ Eisner would integrate text like the credits page with the landscape of the opening image. In Daredevil #170 the credits appear on pieces of litter that are blown by Daredevil running by them. For ‘A Contract With God’ Eisner went with a sepia tone. The opening scene referred to as ‘ a walk through the rain’ was homaged in ‘Sin City’ when Marv would often find himself out in the rain in all its black and white glory. Eisner claimed black and white comics draw the reader in more. This coupled with larger lettering he used were all tricks of the trade he picked up and perfect in his illustrious career. They would then be picked up and imitated by others creating a never ending circle for Eisner’s work.

Will Eisner was the Captain America of comic books. He was drafted in 41′ and he eventually became a warrant officer. He took the opportunity to start using comics as a learning tool. He created Joe Dope in the publication ‘Army Motors’. Believing the comics format would speak more to the troops in their own language and make it easier for them to digest the correct terminology. He continued to publish Joe Dope instructional comics for the duration of WWII as well as other army publications ‘Firepower’. Through the 50’s right up to 1971 he worked on ‘PS, The Preventive Maintenance Monthly’. One of his best received pamphlets was ‘M16A1 Rifle’. Used extensively in Vietnam the gun had early reliability problems and the pamphlet was popular in creating awareness in equipment maintenance. While I have no doubt Eisner would have excelled telling stories for the ‘big two’ that’s not what he wanted to do. His career was more geared towards providing a platform for others and telling more personal stories. In the 30’s and 40’s he worked with Jerry Iger running a comics packager (Eisner & Iger). They would produce comics on demand for new companies coming into the field. Jack Kirby and Bob Kane two of the most recognisable names in the industry both got their starts art Eisner & Iger. Jack Cole and Wally Wood both ghosted on The Spirit before becoming names in their own right. Will Eisner didn’t write comics to sell issues, Event comics weren’t even on his radar. For him it was about telling a story that he felt needed to be told and shared. They were often personal and based on real events from the world around him. ‘The Dreamer’ is a thinly disguised autobiographical comic charting a ‘young Eisner’s’ early pre ‘The Spirit’ career. ‘To The Heart of The Storm’  about a young boy named ‘Willie’ adapting to being part of an immigrant life in New York.

There is a lot of talk nowadays about diversity in comics. The comics industry was built on Jewish immigrants living in New York and taking their experiences and putting them into their work. Will Eisner was at the center of this. In 2003 he wrote ‘Fagin The Jew’. This was done as a response to his belief classic literature was rife with anti-sematic stereotypes. His Jewish heritage and the city of New York touch his work at every turn of the page. His most famous work as mentioned is ‘A Contract With God’. It tells the story of poor Jewish characters in the typical type of tenement building where Eisner would have spent his early days. It spawned two sequels. ‘A Life Force’ which dealt with The Depression and political themes such as Nazism and Socialism.  The trilogy was rounded off with ‘Dropsie Avenue’. A story intertwining tales of old and new residence on ‘Dropsie Avenue’ with an examination of inter-ethnic relations at its core. Eisner once said of New York “Everyone of those windows has a drama going on inside.” That quote best sums up his story telling for me. In ‘The Spirit’ Central City is quite obviously his fictionalized version of NYC. In all of his works like Gotham and Metropolis the city is a character. To him ” The city was the sewers, the curbs, the lampposts.”

At the start of this piece I mentioned Will Eisner perhaps isn’t known by a wide circle of comics readers. But he is known by the right people. At this years Lakes International Comics Art Festival ‘The Spirit of Eisner’ newspaper was launched. It is a newspaper style publication marking Eisner’s 100th birthday with his most well recognised creation The Spirit. It is only available from while stocks last. For the low price of £5 (+PP) it is a great introduction to both Eisner and The Spirit. It is bright, bold and fun. A perfect way to remember a comics legend. It is the brainchild of Sean Phillips and features a plethora of top talent. I just want to take a moment to recognise the people involved in this publication and thank them for creating more Will Eisner awareness. Becky Cloonan, Brendan McCarthy, ED Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Graham Dury, Simon Thorp, Chris Samnee, John M. Burns, Sergio Aragones, Peter Milligan, Duncan Fegredo, Seth, Jason Latour, Jonathan Ross, Bryan Hitch, Michael Cho, Julie Tait, Chris Murray, John McShane and Philip Vaughn. These are the people who know Eisner. They love and respect the man and the work they all enjoy.


Will Eisner 100

Convention Diary Part 5

Collectormania 24

Okay I was dubious about attending this con. Perhaps dubious isn’t the right word. Without sounding negative if you have been to one event put on by Showmasters you have essentially been to them all. Which is a good thing. We are after all creatures of habit. The reason I didn’t want to attend this con was because the previous 23 incarnations of Collectormania took place in my home town in a venue with free entry. It felt dirty attending! Collectormania took place in Birminghams NEC. So for me a forty minute train right, trains aren’t cheap man. But I can’t hold the good people of Showmasters responsible for that! Standard entry was £11 which compared to free seems extortionate but realistically for an event this size is more than reasonable. For me any entry of £20 better be a special experience. A goody bag thrown in at the very least.

On to the convention. The biggest advantage the NEC has over the venues previously used for Collectormania in Milton Keynes is the space. This was well laid out. I’m assuming Saturday was the busier day as the con only took place Saturday and Sunday. It didn’t feel busy because of the lay out and space. I can testify it was busy from the size of the queue getting in and the people milling about outside. The space was well utilized with vendors occupying the middle and then the signings flanking on two sides. If guests were popular there was a slight crowding on one side of the venue with queues heading back into vendors but it was minor. Over all there was no bottle necking down aisles. I was even able to find space to sit on the floor and eat/drink comfortably. You were able to get your hand stamped so you could come and go to the food vendors outside or make use of the sunshine if you had a packed lunch. There were also vendors inside hall 5 along side the convention. There was a Subway and then just a standard sandwich/snack seller. As well as a pulled pork van and a fish and chips vans. I plumped for the pulled pork. It was delicious and not terribly over priced. For £6 it was a decent sized roll crammed with pulled pork and stuffing. The pork was very succulent. That’s my Man Vs Food section over with.  For those of you familiar with the previous Collectormanias and London Film and Comic Con (From here on in CM and LFCC) I would say this weekends was bigger than previous CM’s but smaller than LFCC. For me I found it low on the era of comics I want and thus was unable to make an real dents in my Daredevil and Master of Kung-Fun runs. Perhaps at last summers LFCC I just got lucky. It was my first convention since I started collecting Master of Kung-Fu and I picked up a decent handful of issues without breaking the bank. One seller I spoke to had just acquired a stock of Master of Kung-Fu but hadn’t got them bagged and boarded in time for the con. So hopefully I’ll see them at another one soon. From them I picked up #130, #140 and #142 of Daredevil all VFN all £10. I got them for £28 in the end. There was lots of recent comics, TPB’s and a few £1 boxes. I don’t have anything against £1 but I know the majority of issues I’m looking for won’t be in there so why waste my time when they aren’t in order? I was looking for a Incredible Hulk #340 (Because I can’t afford #181) and a Daredevil #132 (First Bullseye). One guy had the Daredevil but it was in a top condition so out of my price range at £75. I also picked up two Punisher Max TPB’s from a seller with 20% sale. Both came in at £11 which is very reasonable. Also I went through a period of Punisher MAX trades being hard to find. It seems obligatory to pick up a Funko Pop at a con nowadays. I picked up two! Netflix Daredevil (£10) which I missed at LFCC last summer and Sabertooth was a steal at £7. Lastly I picked up the recent Marvel Legends Old Man Logan action figure. I paid a little more for this than I usually would at £25 but I save money on comics and I really wanted it!

Over all Collectormania 24 was a solid B+ event. Probably geared more towards film and TV fans, with plenty of toys and memorabilia. Hardcore back issue searchers like myself may not be overly pleased. With this in mind I probably would not attend yearly but if I went once in a blue moon I would find it enjoyable.


Convention Diary Part 5

FCBD 2017

Why have I not attended one of these before? I have been collecting comics for nearly twenty years now and today I popped my FCBD cherry. I make it sound like a big mystery but really it’s been nothing more than it falling on days when I’m otherwise occupied. Even the years I had a LSC I never made it. This year I was free so I contacted a friend and headed out to Close Encounters in Northampton. (

I’ve spoken about Close Encounter on this blog before they are the nearest to a LCS I have. Two stores in two towns in each direction from me (Northampton and Bedford) and a third store opened recently in Peterborough. I get my comics online from the Bedford store but I as the Northampton one is a little larger I decided to head there for FCBD plus there is a bit more in the town to do as well. I’ve heard many a horror story of FCBD. Stories that it doesn’t increase sales, dopes asking for stuff that isn’t free and scavenger’s taking the freebies and nothing else. I can report nothing but positives from my first experience. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect going in. FCBD like a lot of things in the UK hasn’t hit the heights as things seem to do in the US. I guess each shop brings its own ideas to FCBD outside of the sanctioned books. So going in blind probably wasn’t a bad idea. On the positive side I knew I was making the trip and there were a few current trade paperbacks I was looking to pick up anyway. I’ll start by talking about that as it is not FCBD related. How fucking good is Southern Bastards? I picked up the third trade and I absolutely love this series. It is like nothing else currently on the stands. Equal parts brutal and beautiful. Jason Aaron, Jason Latour, Chris Brunner an Jared K. Fletcher keep up the incredible work.

Back to FCBD itself then. I walk straight past the monthly books as I know they are safely waiting for me a the Bedford store. I even walk past the free comics. Towards the back middle of the store is about ten long boxes of comics. I’m told they are all 50p! Time to start flicking those fingers! I’m not even a quarter of the way through when my friend asks me a question about the IDW TMNT series. I help him out best I can. I’m reading it in monthly issues he’s reading it in trades. We are at this stage miles apart. I point out the free TMNT issue on offer and grab one for myself. Then back to the long boxes. There was a vast assortment of comics on offer. Plenty of comics from the big two. Even a Captain America #25 which I was tempted to pick up and see what I could flip it for on eBay. Every publisher you can think of was in these boxes. Even ones that are long defunct. I picked up a T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #1 from Deluxe Comics. Most genres were accounted for in these 50p boxes. I mainly used the low price to pick up some oddities nothing to make any dents in my collections. I picked up Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Batman, a Wolverine one shot and a Wizard Wolverine special. Which was so old it had Dougray Scott as still attached to play Logan. In reality I could have gone through all ten boxes three times and picked out some cool stuff. The main thing was the boxes catered for everyone. It didn’t matter if you were a seasoned collector like me or if it was your first time in a comic shop. It was heart warming in a way seeing kids going through these boxes looking to piece together some issues chronologically. Also on the positive side I saw plenty of people picking up newer items like trades and figures which is all good for the store. In one corner was a selection of second hand trade paperbacks and hardcover graphic novels. There was plenty to choose from. Again good for long timers and new comers. At the lower prices I find people are more willing to try a new story. From the sanctioned free books I picked up the Guardians of The Galaxy one. Mainly for the Defenders back up which sets up the new on-going by Michael Bendis and David Marquez. The TMNT comic slots perfectly into the canon of the series and sets up their return to Dimension X. Lastly I got Keyser Soze Scorched Earth from Red 5 comics. Who knew one day The Usual Suspects would branch out into comics. I’ve only flicked through it so far and doesn’t seem to have the same vibe of the movie. I will keep an eye on the series and see if it gets closer to that continuity at any point. This comic also contained two stories the second was The Rift which seems a cool concept. Written by Don Handfield and Richard Rayner. With art by Leno Carvalho and colours by Rodrigo Fernandes. The Rift the title refers to is a rift in space and time of course as a WWII pilot crashes in modern day Kansas. It is the sort of story I would pick up as a trade as long as it is a done in one contained story. There was one free comic I couldn’t find that was on the website. The Ballard of Franklin Bonisteel. I only wanted this for the free download for a song by Robert Finlay and Dan Auerback of The Black Keys. I minor complaint from an excellent day.

Lastly as I paid me and the guy talked about how far I had come, where I get my comics (them) and how great Southern Bastards is. I got a few extra freebies thrown into my bag and it wasn’t bad stuff. Walking Dead #163. Bloodshot Reborn #1 and DKIII #2! I’m a huge Frank Miller fan so this was a nice surprise. I’m waiting to read it in one go as a trade and this has just made me more excited. Also I got one of those build your own cardboard Deadpools which was a promotional item and few years back. I’ll post it on Instagram when I’ve put it together. (Ianwells87).

All in all FCBD more first in twenty years of collecting was a fun experience. Whether I would do it every year depends on the quality of the books. That’s not to say I can’t still go and support my comic shop. I just have to weigh up travel expenses and my time table against going through 50p boxes for potential gold. That is not to say I am joining all those who scoff at FCBD. Like I said it works for certain shops more than others and each shop goes about making it its own experience. I don’t think its main aim is to shift more comics on the actual day. I think its to grow the awareness and popularity. From what I saw today its doing that.





FCBD 2017

Whitewashing… Yawn

I’m completely bored now of the whitewashing debate. That is not to say I am a racist.Yes I am aware as a thirty year old white man I’m not allowed to voice an opinion. I just believe when it comes to comics and genre based TV/movies there is so much more to complain about. Lets remember no one is forcing anyone to watch or read anything.

In recent weeks it has been Iron Fist on Netflix and Ghost in The Shell taking all the hits. I don’t see where people get off on saying Danny Rand shouldn’t be white in the Netflix show because the character never should have been white in the first place! I’m sorry did you create him? Nobody said you have to read and like Iron Fist. If you want a Asian Kung-Fu comic try Shang-Chi who debuted a year before Iron Fist in 1973. Admittedly recently Iron Fist creator Roy Thomas made some rather uneducated comments. But I don’t think the case of Thomas and artist Gil Kane creating Iron Fist in the first place as white American can be considered racist. Comics are a product of their time. They were working from page to page to earn a living. Look at whos popular in comics, Batman and Ironman are both rich white guys. Thomas and Kane were sticking to what sold. Marvel were undoubtedly cashing in on the impact Bruce Lee was having on cinema screens. But like I mentioned earlier they already had an Asian kung-fu comic. So where was the harm in trying something different. People see Iron Fist as the story of a foreigner going to a foreign land and stealing from them. Maybe I’m being narrow minded to see Iron Fist as a story about a young man achieving greatness in the face of adversary. Isn’t it equally stereotypical to say only Asians can be good at kung-fu? Nowhere is it mentioned anywhere that the people of K’un Lun are Asian. It’s a mystical city they could and should be fucking any race! These are all reasons why I stand with the creators of the Netflix show in their choice for keeping Danny Rand white American. I might be bias as an Iron Fist fan but if they were to change a character who has existed for forth three years why bother adapting it in the first place? Why not make Shang-Chi? Recently and rather refreshingly Daniel Wu star of Into The Badlands spoke up about the Iron Fist whitewashing debate. He called people ‘precocious’ saying their argument was misplaced, as Iron Fist has always been white. He went on to say he doesn’t buy into “cultural appropriation bullshit that only Asians can do martial arts.” He did concede Marvel had the chance to do something different by casting an Asian American, “But they didn’t so what can you do?” I think it speaks volumes when a creator defends a supposed case of whitewashing. That is exactly what happened recently when Ghost In The Shell creator Mamoru Oshii spoke out about Scarlett Johansson’s casting. When he says “Major is a cyborg, her physical form is an entirely assumed one… There is no basis for saying that an Asian actor must portray her.” For me it just highlights the fact that the arguments are misguided and skirting the real issues. There is so much more inequality on comics and movies to complain about.

Genre TV and movies seem to bare the brunt of the whitewashing debate. More so than every other Hollywood genre. But it is very easy to make the argument that genre TV and movies is also actively looking to make things equal more than any other genre. Look at one of the hits of last year Rogue One. Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang and Forest Whitaker all played significant roles in a Star Wars movie! Marvel could greatly shift the balance of things if and when Chris Evans steps away from the role of Captain America. Anthony Mackie or Sebastian Stan? Both would certainly bring something different to the Captain America role. Both characters have wielded the shield in Caps absence so Marvel couldn’t be accused of whitewashing. No doubt if they choose Stan over Mackie the accusation would be thrown anyway! I’m not just saying it for the case of being impartial but I think Mackie would certainly bring more to the role. Stan has the tortured potential hero of Winter Soldier down to a tee. The argument could be made that having him take the shield would be a more complete story arc, but I see more potential in Falcon taking the role. They would be able to move away from the man out of time angle with Mackie. Sam Wilson is a modern man, he has a certain swagger which would make for a very different leadership role. Its been promised the landscape of the MCU will be very different after 2019. Anthony Mackie as Captain America first in a solo movie then leading a new generation of Avengers would certainly be a huge step forward. It is a big step Marvel could have taken a few years ago when Spider-Man became part of the MCU. Why didn’t they look to cast a Miles Morales? Peter Parker has years of fandom behind him and therefore is more instantly recognisable as Spidey and therefore my bankable. But Miles Morales in a short space of time has built a strong following in this day and age it would have been great for the MCU to make the move. Maybe after what happened with Tilda Swinton’s casting in Doctor Strange was met with negative reviews they decided against it. In this case Marvel thought they were being brave by giving such a high profile role to a women only to have the whitewashing card thrown in their face!

There could come a time when too much negativity in the whitewashing debate will lead to a feeling of pandering. Why change a characters race for an adaptation of a comic?  Why not just tell an original story if you are going to make such changes. There a times when it works and times when it doesn’t. In comics when Marvel launched the Ultimates in 2002 making Nicky Fury African American was a move that worked for a new era. Going forward it also proved a move that would work for the inception of the MCU. Now if the change of race had been made in the movies without the change in the comics proving a success I don’t feel it would have worked. You couldn’t adapt the original Nick Fury war stories for the silver screen with an African American actor. It is just a sad fact of history that a man of colour wouldn’t have had the status of Nick Fury. When DC relaunched with the New 52 they made Wally West a black character, why? It is a move they have since gone back on. So if they wanted a black speedster why not create a new character alas Miles Morales?

I understand I may have said something here that may be viewed as controversial. I’m simply throwing some ideas out there. I often feel the argument is misguided and loses its focus easily. At times it gets thrown around to easily without people really thinking about all the aspects. Whilst comics and movies often find themselves under the spotlight like I said they are often at times making huge steps to address the balance. To anyone who reads comics and regular goes to the cinema this can make you feel proud and part of something important.


Whitewashing… Yawn

An Open Letter To Geoff Johns

Dear Geoff Johns

I am convinced 2017 is the year to bring back an Unknown Soldier ongoing. Now I should probably leave out the part that this idea came to me in a dream but it’s best to be truthful. Also while we are being truthful I’m not expecting you to hire me to write it, though it would be amazing. I mean I’m a nobody. At best I’m an ideas guy. I do the skeletal system I need somebody else to do the muscles and blood. In the dream it was Frank Tieri and Sean Chen (My favourite Wolverine creative team). Anyway I digress.

So why 2017? Well when I woke from the dream the next day, thought about things logically and made some notes everything just seemed right. Rebirth will be coming into its second year. At some point it will need a shot in the arm. New characters to freshen things up. Instead of rebooting an existing title relaunch an oldie. Unknown Soldier can work in 2017. It will be the first full year in Trumps administration. People are more politically minded than ever. Comics is a format that can tackle any subject. I’m not saying make the Unknown Soldier be anti Trump propaganda. But right away the real world sets the tone for the comic. Another reason Unknown can work in 2017 is that anyone can be the Unknown Soldier. Meaning it doesn’t have to be continuity heavy. From the start of the series we have a new character in the title role. An unknown character (See what I did there). The readers learn what he/she is about by watching there actions as the story unfolds. The reader learns who the Unknown Soldier is as other characters in the story learn. By having a fresh face in the role it makes it more appealing to new readers. In early story arcs drop hints to a bigger picture and once the new readers are hooked you hit them with the continuity. The role of the Unknown Soldier has passed on from war to war so you have back story to play with. Hit them with nostalgia with Kanigher and Kubert! Americans killing Nazis sells! Flashbacks to Sgt. Rock and Easy Company. There is undoubtedly a rich history to play with both from comics and real life. Do you know how many countries have ‘Tombs to The Unknown Soldier’? My research found 49! Some countries have more than one. So you could say 52 just to keep things symmetrical. You could have Unknown Soldiers on a Batman Inc. level if handled right. Making things more appealing to readers overseas.

Conspiracy theories, true crime and war accounts are such a big part of the global zeitgeist right now. Bringing back Unknown Soldier in 2017 can not fail. Serial, Making a Murderer, The X-Files comeback, Russian email hacks, WikiLeaks. The world The Unknown Soldier operates in is happening on the news and in popular entertainment every night. Not having him in a comic while this is happening would be like having a comedian in eighties England who didn’t do satire. It would be like not having rock bands that hide political agendas behind heavy licks and riffs.

Now for what I believe is the icing on the cake. The element that will tie Unknown firmly into the world of Rebirth. I want to go back to The X-Files for a moment if I can. It helped provide me with the final piece of the puzzle. The final piece of inspiration that made me think this could work. The ten seasons were divided into ‘Mythology’ and ‘Monster of the Week’ episodes. You do the same with The Unknown Soldier except you swap out ‘Monster of the Week’ for ‘Heroes and Villains’. Let me explain further. The ‘Mythology’ issues of The Unknown Soldier would deal with government conspiracy. All with the powers that be not being what it seems. Botched assassination attempts, government sponsored death squads, political back handers. That kind of thing. The ‘Heroes and Villains’ issues would deal with The Unknown Soldier interacting with the DCU in a wider scope. At first I didn’t know how to make this element work then it hit me. As we have established the role of The Unknown Soldier has passed on from generation to generation. Well so has the information they have gathered over the years. For example The Unknown Soldier of 1939 would first have investigated the ‘Superman’ of Metropolis. Whilst The Unknown Solider of 1993 investigated his death. All this means the ‘Heroes and Villains’ issues provide further space to play with the characters past continuity they also provide great fanboy moments. Isn’t that what reading comics is all about?

Thank you for your time

Ian Wells






An Open Letter To Geoff Johns


It’s been nearly a week since this horrible situation and its consequences occurred. Did it really need my ass hole with a blog opinion? But that’s how the whole thing started, ass holes with an opinions! They were abusive, sexist, derogatory and uneducated opinions. Its rather sad to think that comics and entertainment as a whole can create this much hate and abuse in people. It is absolutely senseless to go after a creators gender because you don’t agree with their message or even worse just because you don’t rate their work! This incident has just highlighted the dark side of social media even more. Twitter and Facebook can be great tools for creators especially those in the shelf publishing areas. It can be very useful those creators in feeling the vibes of fandom. But when you get situations like last week it throws it all in to question. The creators know their fan base they don’t need all this extra shit on top of meeting deadlines and tackling writers block. Yes it takes away that level of contact with fans but they have to do what is best for them. The Mockingbird TPB made it to Amazons number 1 top seller this week so it shows educated people win out in the end. It’s easy to say Chelsea Cain should have remained on Twitter and rise above it, but like I said why bother? She knows Mockingbird was largely well received fuck what the sexist trolls think! I would be more than happy if Chelsea so wishes for me to go after the individuals in question via this blog. I don’t have any deadlines to worry about and at times in the past I have spent weeks arguing about sport online so I’m well trained! There has been a positive to come from this though. The way fans and fellow creators have come out in support gives a sense of pride to educated comic fans. This show of support was us saying “These idiots do not represent us!” I agree there are times when comics and other forms of entertainment can be over used to push a message. It can be frustrating if you are just there for entertainment and don’t want an agender forced on you. But you know what to do? Stop reading or watching! Try something different, broaden you horizons! Don’t sink to caveman levels of uneducated bullying. Its not clever! It’s disgusting to talk to people in the way Chelsea Cain has been addressed just for putting out a form of entertainment! Female creators and lead characters seem to be in the spotlight more than ever in recent years. This incident started negatively but when we all stand with Chelsea Cain it has become a positive. I was going to say a female presence in comics needs to be increased, then I looked through my back issues. Marvel has strong representation despite a call for more. Ann Nocenti, Jo Duffy, Marie Severin, Glynis Wein, Louise Simonson, Gail Simone, Marjorie Liu, Kelly Sue Deconnick and all the others Stand with Chelsea Cain!