Deano’s answer to: “If you agree that Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman are the DC big 3, who’s #4?”

If you go by power level, Green Lantern

If you go by mainstream recognition, The Flash

If you go by “cool factor” for the few people who ever notice him, Martian Manhunter

If you go by Hughesian Debating Skills, I’m totally won over on Aquaman 🙂

Personally, I use the “Dan Brereton Coolest Art/Pose” factor, which again I would argue gives a pretty solid win to Aquaman:

(Also, look at the panels – clearly Aquaman is standing/floating IN FRONT OF the other three “JLA Core Members”, more prominently so in the bottom panels)

This answer originally appeared on Quora: If you agree that Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman are the DC big 3, who’s #4?

Deano’s answer to: “Do people still want to read ongoing soap opera-like comic books or only self contained stories?”

This is, to me, more an issue of economics than anything else – as the cost of production, printing, and distribution of paper comic books continues to rise, it’s harder and harder to profit from a “B-tier serial”, or to expand the audience for any comic outside of hardcore fandom (though it does happen).

“Self-contained stories”, or at least “digestible compilations” such as graphic novels of serializations, however, have taken off in the last decade for a few simple reasons:

  • economies of scale allow for a much cheaper $/page ratio for the reader ($3/32 pp for comics vs. $10/200 pp for GNs)
  • the larger format GNs look a LOT like “regular paperback books”, which is a product that all kinds of retailers, not just bookstores, already know how to shelve and sell.
  • Comics, on the other hand, typically require specifically constructed wall displays, or space-inefficient and clumsily-operated spinner racks… They are smaller and more fragile than other magazines, and while their content should be more evergreen (a big problem with selling older/out of date print mags like Time, say), there are so damn MANY of them, it’s just too hard to keep track of inventory/stage them nicely/etc.
  • For non-serialized single volume work of appropriate length (150-300 pp), it’s also now possible to make a profit with the more friendly book/box store/discounter/toy and game channels to exploit on top of the dedicated comic book market.

Simply put, it’s easier to display, sell, and manage inventory of graphic novels/longer form comics, and theoretically no less so for a single volume work (especially at book retailers – keeping all 42 volumes of Dragonball in stock at a given Barnes location, for example, is a complete NIGHTMARE).

But, you say, this has not answered the question “do people still WANT to read…”, and you’re right: what people want is not the same as what the publishers want, which also differs from what the retailers want. It’s a game of finding equilibrium between all three, and a messy game at that. Perhaps I could simplify it further: what people want in comics, and how much they are willing to pay for that stated want, are often out of alignment.

This is one of the reasons why digital and online publishing hold so much promise (outside of, er, monetization) – they are FAR more closely linked between creator and reader, with fewer middlemen taking a cut, or enforcing limitations over content or frequency.

Do people want daily/weekly/monthly “chunkable” serials? YES. Do they want nice, tightly wrapped stories/arcs, even if that means a year between releases? YES. Are you more likely to find the latter at Target, or even Most certainly!

This answer originally appeared on Quora: Do people still want to read ongoing soap opera-like comic books or only self contained stories?

Deano’s answer to: “Why do all the Batman villains always go to Arkham Asylum?”

From the question: All the Batman villains who are caught end up in Arkham Asylum*. They rarely, if ever, go to prison to serve life or death.

Superhero comic logic aside, what would be some good explanations for this? I am personally inclined to believe that Arkham is a Guantanamo Bay-of-sorts, where the villains are put, because they have been thwarted by Batman without proper legal procedure such as warrants, reasonable doubt, and so forth. This would also explain why people like sane villains like Catwoman have been thrown in Arkham.

What are your theories?

*As I remember; Harley Quinn and Selina Kyle were sent to a rehabilitation clinic at one point, though.

Taking the issue at it’s face, I’d say it’s likely a NIMBY problem – while dividing up the tough mental cases throughout whatever state Gotham is in might seem to be a good way to keep them from possibly colluding on an escape together, it’s just as likely that this would mean that less corrupt cities and towns would subsequently be threatened with potential reprisals during a villains inevitable escape.

Supervillains, in a sense, are the toxic waste created by superheroes – no one wants to address the natural byproduct of a “mostly good thing”, and where possible they pool the waste and store it in locations and communities that don’t have the political clout to prevent such outcomes.

Actually, taken in that light, it’s possible Gotham as a whole is somehow a functional internment camp for the worst of society in the DC Universe… Perhaps Batman’s secret mission is more about keeping everyone from escaping Gotham, a prison in the shape of a city…?

This answer originally appeared on Quora: Why do all the villains always go to Arkham Asylum?

Deano’s answer to: “Who was the first comic book superhero?”

This is a bit tough… Given the particular wording of your question, I’d go with Superman. He’s the first archetypical “superhero” who appeared in comic book form, at least in the US

(This is actually just Christopher Reeve chasing me after I keyed his car…)

According to Wikipedia[*], the French once again beat us to the punch with a fella called the “Nyctalope”:

(My doctor says I have to stop eating Nyctalope for breakfast when I hit 40…)

As far as other possible “first placers”, you have all manner of costumed superhumans or “ultimate” humans –

  • The Phantom,
  • The Shadow,
  • The Spider,
  • Doc Savage,
  • Tarzan,
  • Zorro,
  • The Green Hornet,
  • etc…

– all of whom, if they magically dropped out of subspace in the Marvel or DC Universes, would be instantly recognized as “Superheroes”, or possibly “Super villains” in some cases.

Nevertheless, just about all of the other candidates appeared first in print books and magazines, comic strips, and radio dramas, and most did not take a strong stand in the comic book format until well after Superman had led the way as a groundbreaking title in the genre/medium in 1938 in Action Comics #1.

[* It’s actually a great Wikipedia entry:…]

This answer originally appeared on Quora: What was the first comic book superhero?