End of Summer
Fanzing Mailroom graphic by Jeremy Greene
Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Substitute Letters-Lad!

Before we get down to business, I would first like to send out my best wishes to Louise and her newly-expanded family, and ask everyone to please bear with me while I try to answer your letters in Louise's absence.

So, without further ado, let's open up the Fanzing Mailbag!

The comics industry: dying a slow, painful death

Hi Guys,

Longtime reader, haven't written in much because I generally like to sit back and listen/read what others are saying.

However, I've been kind of feeling VERY negative lately about the direction comics are headed in -- which I think is basically extinction along the lines of the old pulp magazines and radio dramas.

The comic book companies just DON'T seem to get it, or are willingly deluding themselves into believing they're going to pull out of the power-dive they've been in since the early 1990s. Sorry, but I just don't see how with the crap that passes for "innovative" today -- namely, about 99.9% of the Image titles today, or the top ten of EITHER Marvel or DC -- comics are going to survive beyond (possibly) ten years.

There's VERY little I would pay $2.00 for now, and even with the titles I STILL enjoy (Batman: Gotham Adventures, Superman Adventures, and The Flash) I've been thinking lately I could get by with just getting reprints of the old Golden and Silver Age comics (I'm thinking the DC Archives editions -- Marvel apparently doesn't care about its pre-1990s past anymore)… There's nothing really exciting and I'm sorry but I just DO NOT think the third retelling of "Marvels" (aka "Earth X") by Alex Ross is going to do it for me.

Add to this a general frustration and a feeling that MOST of us have forgotten what superheroes are SUPPOSED to be as opposed to how they're WRITTEN today. There was a time it was a thrill to see Superman streak through the sky to save falling jetliners, a time when the Batmobile racing through Gotham City was exciting, and a time when a COMPETENT Green Lantern actually headlined a GOOD comic book (as opposed to the drivel Ron Marz shovels out each month). >SIGH< Who in the heck decided Wolverine and Spawn were true heroes and that I'd even want to read about a complete loser who got lucky enough to get a power ring and hangs out at Starbuck's with equally boring people?

Now, I've avoided getting truly nasty and doing anything on the level of >GASP!< Harlan Ellison, but it's getting hard to grin and bear it when I listen to some chucklehead try and convince me that Todd McFarlane's a genius or a "really nice guy" who's in it for the "kiddies", OR that somehow the current "Green Lantern" is actually a GOOD comic!! (Sorry, but nowadays, DC jettisons most of its GREAT characters and turns most of the survivors into jerks!)

I went to the Chicago Con '99 and was sorely disappointed by what I saw. While I managed to keep my spending under $100, there was just little aside from some animation artwork that interested me there. I found fans, for the most part, to be either rabid collectors who speculated like they were on Wall Street or just out-and-out -- well pardon me, but sincerely I saw a lot of geeks.

The highlight of that con had to be meeting the Batman/Superman Adventures exec. producers (Timm didn't show up, though) but I was disappointed in that Dini doesn't seem to think there is a DC Universe beyond Superman and Batman. Could it be me, or is it moronic that NO ONE at WB TV Animation has seriously seen the science fiction potential of EITHER the Legion of Super-Heroes (three characters guest-starred in Superman) OR Green Lantern (Hal Jordan… Nobody at DC now seems to think much of the classic science fiction characters like Adam Strange, Captain Comet, or the Silver Age Hawkman. They seem to think the mochachino-swilling airhead with a power ring is the way to go. God, and they wonder WHY they're in trouble!!!!).

Typical Dini responses:
Flash : "He's just a guy that runs fast. Why do a series on him?"
Green Lantern : "He's just a guy with a ring. He's boring!"

And people think this guy (Dini) is a genius????? Sure, he's introduced a good character or two (Harley Quinn), BUT for the most part the best episodes of Batman have been ADAPTED from comics published in the 1970S AND 1980S and there are very few ORIGINAL episodes of Batman (or Superman, for that matter) that are truly great. Yeah, I still like Batman and Superman (but can't stomach Batman Beyond -- I just hate 17-year-old loud-mouth twits) but I have seen, for my part, a definite decline in the quality of the writing of the animated DCU (on TV) since the end of the original Batman: The Animated Series in 1995. Sure, the animation is still great (for TV, that is) and perhaps better than the '92-'95 series, BUT I find the stories of the Batman/Superman Adventures for the most part lacking quite a bit of the substance of the earlier series…

Now if you think all I have to say is negative stuff, I've got news for you… NOT quite. I did meet someone who I'm sure some of you are aware of. I met Martin Nodell and he seemed to be still mentally competent and together for a guy his age (I think he's over 90, now). Anyway, it was nice to see Green Lantern's daddy is still alive and that his creation (Alan Scott) hasn't been totally crucified unlike other characters. I had a nice chat with him, bought a print of the Golden Age GL reciting his oath with the power battery in hand, and expressed genuine admiration for his achievement in creating one of the lasting legacies in comics. Martin seemed to be a pretty nice guy and genuinely touched by what I said and personalized the print I bought from him with a nice line (I'm paraphrasing) "To George -- Who pleased me by being unique." Yeah, sounds kinda corny, but seeing what I saw at the con, I'm kinda flattered! LOL

So until these jerks that run the comic book industry get their heads back on, OR the industry finally DOES die (which in all probability seems the direction it's headed in), Peace, and remember, they're just stupid comics!

George Cepeda, Who is NOT a Marvel Zombie or a DC Die-Hard -- I just like good comics, which are becoming increasingly harder to find at affordable prices nowadays.

Wow, George, you certainly have some strong opinions on the state of comics today. Although I don't necessarily agree with all of what you said, I also feel that guys like Todd McFarlane have become more interested in the bottom line rather than in making good comics. On the other hand, I think that the storytelling at DC is definitely on the upswing, and I'm excited to see where several of the new creative teams go over the next year (especially with Superman and Batman). I just hope that you'll give today's comics a chance to change your mind!

A minor flaw in the latest "Hall of Justice"

Alan Kistler apparently forgot to mention Alfred's medical skills. They were a fairly major point of his background, at least according to the first issue of "Batman: Year One".

Or maybe Zero Hour retconned those skills away from Alfred (unlikely, for I can think of no good reason why that would happen).

Luis Olavo Dantas

Good eye, Luis! After taking another look November's HoJ, it does indeed look like Alfred's medical training got omitted. Rest assured, though, it was just an accidental oversight! Alfred is still a competent medic, and keeps putting those skills to work, as we recently saw in Detective Comics #741.

A BIG fan of DC Comics

Hi DC, how are you? I'm a big fan of FLASH (the biggest)! I love DC!!!!!!:=)))))))


FANZING Editor-in-Chief Michael Hutchison replies:

Thanks, Stimakovits! If you love the Flash, then get ready for our "Speed Force" issue in early 2000!

BTW: Just to be clear, we aren't DC Comics, we are a fan-run magazine which is not affiliated with DC in any way. Nonetheless, we hope you'll enjoy Fanzing for what it is!

Lex Luthor: Father of the Year?

Dear Fanzing,

Hi! This is one the best sites on the web. You guys are great! Anyway, ever since I heard Lex had a daughter I've been all over the net and I can't find any information about her (there aren't any comic book stores in my area, I'd have to go down town and I just don't want to). Could you tell me a little about her and what some key issues are that tell her story? I would be very grateful.

Thanking You in Advance,

Lena Luthor is Lex Luthor`s and Contessa Erica Alexandra Del Portenza`s infant daughter. She was named after a childhood friend of Luthor`s, who was killed by their foster father, Casey Griggs. Following Lena`s birth (Superman #131), Luthor had her mother drugged and imprisoned, not wanting to compete with anyone, not even a mother, for Lena`s affections. Luthor sees Lena as the heir to his empire. At one point, the Contessa had a Bizarro made, and kidnapped Lena from Lex, although Lex retrieved the baby (Superman Forever).

I gathered most of this information from Steve Younis' Superman Homepage, but if anbody knows anything else about Lena, please be sure to send Isis an e-mail!

Well, that wraps it up for this issue's letters! So, until next time, this is Substitute Letters-Lad signing off!

--J. Fuentes

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