Author: Alan Kistler

Baltimore: Superman Panel

The Baltimore Comic-Con Superman panel was moderated by editor Matt Idleson and included the new creative team behind Superman, Action Comics and Supergirl, which will begin having a closer relationship with each other (which one fan in the crowd unfortunately referred to as “the Supergirl book becoming a three-way with Action and Superman“). There was Geoff Johns, writer of Action Comics, James Robinson, who recently began writing duties on Superman, and the new Supergirl team of Sterling Gates and artist Jamal Igle.

Towards the end of the panel, Johns pointed out his Uncle Roger who was sitting in the audience and had first gotten him into comics as a child.

Supergirl #35 is the first issue under the new creative team of Gates and Igle. It is said to be a perfect jumping-on point, with a quick introduction to Kara Zor-El, including her origin and place in the DC Universe. And since it is part of the “New Krypton” story arc that will be running through the Superman books, Gates will touch on the recent discovery of her parents being alive. The story will also introduce a smear campaign by Cat Grant after she publishes an article in the Daily Planet entitled “Why the World Doesn’t Need Supergirl.”

Gates will also be giving Supergirl a rogues gallery of her own, starting with a “tussle with Silver Banshee”. Robinson commented that Gates and Igle are “going to be one of the greatest combinations that DC has seen for a long time.” Igle himself said that he was so impressed by Gates’ writing that he felt he had to step up his own game on art chores. He added that Gates will defeat fan criticism of the teen Kryptonian, as he has made Superiglr “not only a likable character, but a sympathetic character.” Gates himself explained that he wanted to portray Kara as a fun, teenage hero rather than one focused on angst.

Several fans asked about the previous Supergirls and if they would be referenced. The panel pointed out that Linda Danvers is appearing in the Reign in Hell mini, but that otherwise they wouldn’t really be referenced as they don’t affect today’s Supergirl stories nor have any impact on Kara Zor-El’s life. But that doesn’t mean Supergirl isn’t going to have a more experienced mentor. Lana Lang, recently fired a LexCorp’s CEO, will be joining Kara and lending her advice from time to time.

I asked Johns who was running LexCorp now that Lana was gone and Lex was still a criminal. Johns said “Keep reading.”

When asked if Supergirl would have a secret identity, Gates smiled and said “Good idea.”

I met with Jamal Igle afterwards and looked over the artwork for the next issue of Supergirl, folks, and it looks wonderful. I also asked Jamal if Kara would be getting a new costume soon, since several fans have been critical of her exposed stomach and a new costume was hinted at in Final Crisis #3. Jamal Igle replied that he had submitted a subtle re-design but that it was felt there was no need to change her look completely now since she was still recognizable on sight and no one wanted to mess with that.

I’m also guessing that DC may be a bit protective of a costume that was designed by Michael Turner, who sadly left us so recently.


Baltimore: Bendis Vs. Kirkman

Baltimore: Bendis Vs. Kirkman

Over a month ago, Robert Kirkman (Invincible, Walking Dead) posted a video mission statement on the idea that many who work at DC and Marvel are there because they do not realize that creator-owned books can provide a stable living with healthy profit and that such titles are the way to enhance the industy.

Brian Michael Bendis immediately responded by saying that things weren’t that easy and that it was irresponsible to tell people that, speaking as a man who works on many Marvel titles and has had success with his creator-owned Powers series.

The two sides of the argument have been tackled, discussed and disected across the board on message boards, in comic stores, in bars, possibly even in secret lairs hidden beneath wealthy manors.

And so, at Baltimore Comic-Con, Bendis and Kirkman met to continue their debate and elaborate on their points before an interested audience.


Baltimore: DC Q & A

Baltimore: DC Q & A

Saturday morning at Baltimore Comic-Con, DC Comics held their usual DC Nation panel featuring Jimmy Palmiotti, Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates, James Robinson, Sean Mckeever and Ian Sattler. The panel was hosted by Dan Didio who actually invited a mustached fan named Brian onto the panel after he praised the weekly series Trinity. Geoff Johns complimented the same fan for being able to “rock the ‘stache.” When the same fan referred to the Green Lantern Corps as “NYPD Green”, Johns stated he would be stealing this title.

After fan Brian spoke highly of Trinity, Didio added that the main focus of the series is the great influence of the three heroes and how important they have been not only to the DCU but to the multiverse as a whole. He commented that this made the series a complete counterpoint to 52, which explored the mainstream DC Earth spending a year without the three icons. In the same vein, he clarified that the current Batman R.I.P. storyline is exploring whether or not Bruce would still operate as Batman "if you took everything away", as well as showing how his absence affects many, not just the Gotham-centric characters but also people like the Outsiders.

DC had several things to announce in terms of upcoming projects.

A few years ago, DC did a fifth-week event called "New Year’s Evil" involving several one-shots that did not relate to each other but all centered villain-centric stories. Operating on a similar note, DC will be release "Faces of Evil", a month-long project launching next spring. Each issue will be a one-shot focusing on a particular villain and the covers will be done in the same style as the recent “anti-inspirational posters” ads. Johns announced that he and artist Scott Collins would be working on a one-shot focused on Solomon Grundy. Other villains who would be focused on include Parasite and Despero. When a fan asked if any of the Rogues (from Flash) were going to have a one-shot, Johns simply said that the future of the Rogues will be set-out at the conclusion of the miniseries Final Crisis: Rogues Revenge.

Geoff Johns also added that Solomon Grundy would become a Black Lantern, though he also said the same thing of any other character mentioned during the panel who is deceased. Concerning the upcoming "war of light" stories in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, Johns again spoke about Agent Orange, the leader of the Orange Corps dedicated to Avarice, as a major villain. He also said that the Orange oath was his favorite. Throughout the remainder of the panel, questions about seemingly dead characters usually involved Johns saying , "(Fill-in-the-Blank)’s a Black Lantern."



Marvel’s Cup of B

Marvel’s Cup of B

Rather than the usual "Cup of Joe" panel, Marvel decided that Baltimore Comic-Con would feature "Cup of B." Marvel super-star Brian Michael Bendis appeared, alongside Dan Slott (Avengers: Initiative), Steve Savolski (X-Infernus) and executive editor Tom Brevoort. 

Bendis confirmed the previously announced departure from Mighty Avengers with #20, the post Secret Invasion issue which will show a dramatic shift in the title. He will then begin Dark Avengers with artist Mike Deodato and Slott will jump into Mighty Avengers, which means he’s leaving Initiative, which Christos Gage will pick up. More Taskmaster is promised. 

Spider-Woman: Agent of SWORD will begin March 2008, full art by Alex Maleev, reuniting the duo since they produced Daredevil. The series promises to be “very different” from others at Marvel. But is it Jessica Drew? No answer was given.

While the Inferno crossover was spread across the DC Universe, it’s follow-up X-Infernus will be more X-Men focused, specifically on the New Mutants, with characters such as Magik showing up. 

On Amazing Spider-Man, Marc Guggenheim and Barry Kitson will present a single-issue story featuring what happened to Flash Thompson. Joe Kelly will be doing a two-part Hammerhead story and then Mark Waid will be introducing new charatecters and secrets to Spider-Man’s universe. Dan Slott promises a “completely logical, non-magical explanation of why Harry Osborn’s alive.” He added that villain Molten Man was returning with the intention of killing Harry Osborn.

Bendis was asked for his reactions to the Secret Invasion Jacket I made. Bendis was a good sport about it and simply laughed, saying "Listen, I love him. You can buy it, roll it up, shove it up your ass. I don’t care.That’s not even in the top 20 sh*t I’ve had to deal with online." I then identified myself to the Marvel panel. When Bendis asked me why I didn’t wear the jacket to the con, I was sad to explain that it was not functional in the rain.

I then asked my own question to Bendis, concerning whether or not the Skrulls now had the Space Gem since they had replaced Black Bolt, the gem’s current owner. Bendis then informed me that he had explained this already but that I must have turned the issue into a pair of shorts. He then admitted that the Space Gem would be a future plot point.


Colbert Upholds Celebrity/Super-Hero Legacy

Colbert Upholds Celebrity/Super-Hero Legacy

So word is out that Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report, is going to be teaming up with New York’s  most famous web-slinging vigilante in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man #573, written by Mark Waid (Kingdom Come) and illustrated by Patrick Olliffe (Spider-Girl). In the Marvel Universe, Colbert is running for President of the U.S. and no doubt this will come into play in the eight-page adventure. It would certainly be in keeping with the atmosphere of several comics these days, such as DC’s True Decisions mini-series which features the JLA acting as security for presidential candidates and the most recent Captain America arc in which the Red Skull attempted to sway the election for his own purposes.

This isn’t going to be the their first meeting, of course. In Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #15, during Marvel’s Civil War crossover, the two met at a bookstore. Of course, Spidey wasn’t in his costume at the time and Colbert was attempting to act incognito, so chances are this won’t be referenced in the upcoming story.

But any true comic book fan should know that celebrity cameos have happened quite often in super-hero tales. And Colbert is by far the first comedy show host to meet a Marvel hero.


‘Secret Invasion’ So Far: The Tie-Ins

‘Secret Invasion’ So Far: The Tie-Ins

If you read Part 1 of my report on "Secret Invasion so far", you know I have found a lot of faults with the main series of this Marvel crossover and the tie-ins written by Brian Michael Bendis.

Now, any major crossover these days has tie-ins with other titles. It’s a good marketing idea because it gets readers to check out characters and books they may not have already been reading. And it helps give the story an epic feel when you can show how its effects are felt in various other parts of the Marvel Universe and how other folks are forced to get dragged into it.

A lot of times, these tie-ins are unnecessary and fairly forgettable unless you were already a fan of those books. Imagine my surprise when I found that a lot of these tie-ins were actually enjoyable and greatly enhanced the crossover for me. Frankly, I think some of these tie-ins could have replaced a few issues of the main series.

Let’s go into a bit more detail, shall we?


‘Secret Invasion’ So Far: The Main Story

‘Secret Invasion’ So Far: The Main Story

So we’re more than half-way through Secret Invasion, the event that’s supposed to be the biggest thing to rock the Marvel Universe since Civil War, where the question was “whose side are you on?” Secret Invasion’s question is “who do you trust?”, which is almost the same question as Civil War’s but not as grammatically correct ( it’s "whom", people!) and concerns the revelation that several Skrulls (shape-shifting aliens who’ve had their asses kicked many times) have secretly been living among us for a while. This story is the brain-child of Brian Michael Bendis, who has been praised for his series Powers and his run on Ultimate Spider-Man and who has been writing New Avengers and Mighty Avengers since both titles were created.

This plot has been done before to lesser degrees. In the early 90s, the Fantastic Four discovered that the Human Torch’s wife had been impersonated by a Skrull since before they were even engaged. And a couple of years later, the X-Men found out that Wolverine had been replaced by a Skrull who then died because he didn’t know he didn’t have Wolvie’s powers too (idiot).

But there are three major elements that mark this particular invasion story as different from what we’ve seen in comic books a million times over. The first element is that what’s left of the Skrull Empire has now taken up religion. Their holy texts tell them that Earth is theirs by right and they have become quite creepy by habitually saying “He loves you” to everyone they attack. Secondly, they’ve learned how to infiltrate us in such a way that they are now beyond the detection of super-powers, magic and technology – very scary in this post-9/11 world. Finally, the Skrulls have finally figured out how to produce super-powers on a large scale. Where once the Super-Skrull and Power Skrull were unique, now there are thousands of Skrull warriors who have the combined powers of many different villains and heroes.

But how’s the execution? Well, in a nutshell, the main series started off very strong and has recently picked up steam again full force. Even when it was slow, it had some great scenes. But these are over-shadowed occasionally by pages of wasted space and repetitive recaps. And out of the eleven tie-in issues Bendis has written so far, eight of them can be ignored or have a smidge of substance that’s surrounded by filler pages.

But if you are one of those unfortunate souls who bought all the New Avengers and Mighty Avengers tie-ins and then realized you’d wasted over twenty bucks, don’t worry! Just do what I and my good friend Lisa McMullan did. With a little creativity, you can take those pages and make yourself a very smart looking jacket! Now you’re not a sucker, you are actually quite fashionable!

Don’t believe me? Just look at this photographic evidence, nay-sayer! All you need is scissors, tape and maybe an hour of free time.

And when people ask you "How did you think to make such a snazy and debonair sport coat?", you can simply say "I got the idea from those crazy guys at ComicMix and Alan ‘the Sizzler’ Kistler. He’s one nutty guy, that Sizzler."

Not a bad series, but I definitely have some criticisms. Hmmm? What’s that? You want more detail about what my problems are with the main series and the Bendis-written tie-ins? Not a problem, folks. That’s what I get paid for.

By the way, folks, if it pleases you, feel free to check out my old list of the Six Worst Moments in Skrull History!


‘Smallville’ So Far

‘Smallville’ So Far

So this week we shall see the season premiere of Smallville. This is not only the eighth season of the series that depicts a young Clark Kent learning the lessons that will make him Superman, it is also likely the last — unless the CW decides at the last minute to change their minds.

Matt "Two-Fisted" Raub is going to regale you folks with a review of the season premiere soon enough. It is my job to recap what has brought us to this point. I’ll summarize what’s happened in the show’s major storyline so far, not bothering to go into detail of individual episodes or sub-plots that are never mentioned again. If you only want to be caught up on the latest season, just scroll down until you see the words "Seventh Season" in bold. Also, this isn’t wikipedia, so I’m going to be explaining things in the way that I think makes it easiest to understand, not just listing events in exact chronological order.


The series begins with business mogul Lionel Luthor (John Glover) arriving in Smallville, Kansas with his young son Lex. A meteor shower suddenly hits, causing hundreds of strange, glowing, green rocks to hail from the sky and create devastation across the town and its surrounding farms. Lex receives close contact with one of the meteor rocks and loses his hair as a result. Young Lana Lang loses her parents in the chaos. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Smallville, Jonathan Kent (John Schneider) and his wife Martha (Annette O’Toole, who portrayed Lana Lang in Superman III) find a rocketship in their field that has arrived along with the meteors. And inside, there is a baby.

Fast forward several years and we are introduced to teenage Clark Kent (Tom Welling), the adopted son of Martha and Jonathan. Clark is a good kid with a kind heart. He is best friends with Pete Ross (Sam Jones III) and Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack), who has a deep-seated crush on him. He is also head over heels for his friend, cheerleader Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk). Clark is interested in astronomy and often has his head in the clouds. He also has great speed, strength and resiliency to injury. Now a freshman in high school, Clark wonders about why he has these abilities and his father finally reveals to him that he was found in a rocketship that came with the meteors and thus is possibly an alien. Clark wonders about who he is and why he was sent away.

As Clark begins high school, Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum, voice of the Flash from Justice League), now an adult, arrives in Smallville to take over his father’s LuthorCorp plant there. It’s supposed to be a test of responsibility and he hates it. Soon after his arrival, Luthor suffers a car accident and his life is saved by Clark Kent. The near-death experience makes Luthor decide that he must stop listening to his father and pursue his own destiny. He also declares that he and Clark are now friends, since Clark saved his life. Clark is glad to have a friend and is overwhelmed by Lex’s money and power and insistence on helping to make Clark’s life easier. Jonathan Kent is concerned that his son is spending so much time with Lex, especially when the Luthor boy continually espouses a belief that one should side-step rules of politeness and moral boundaries to get what you want sometimes.

As the seasons pass, Jonathan and Martha do their best to help Clark cope with his increasing abilities and his identity issues. The Kent boy discovers that the glowing green meteor rocks that are scattered in different parts of Smallville are somehow lethal to him and that their radiation has caused mutation in certain other people. As Smallville begins to be plagued by mutated super-villains (called "meteor freaks"), Clark secretly works to stop them and as the years pass on he discovers his powers increasing, gaining super-human hearing, telescopic/microscopic vision, heat-vision and X-ray vision. He even has dreams that he can fly. When solar flares later cause his powers to go haywire, Clark realizes that his superhuman abilities stem from his body’s absorbtion and processing of solar radiation.


Wonder Woman vs. Sarah Palin

Wonder Woman vs. Sarah Palin

Many of us know Lynda Carter. She was the star of the 1970’s Wonder Woman TV series, where she did many of her own stunts and became forever linked with the character, setting the standard for any future portrayals. She’s been seen in supporting roles in comedies such as Super Troopers and the very funny Sky High. She’s appeared in the popular Smallville TV series and played Mama Morton in the 10th anniversary show of Chicago in West End London. And she hasn’t aged in the last 25 years.

Recently, Lynda Carter was being interviewed by Victor Fiorillo of the Philadelphia Magazine. They talked about nude scenes, life, alcoholism, her singing career and, yes, the many recent comparisons between Sarah Palin and Wonder Woman.

The actress was not shy about her opinions concerning how the Alaskan governor stacks up next to the Amazon warrior of Paradise Island. The full interview can be found at this link, but the highlight is pasted for you below.

PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE:  Okay, last question. I’m sure you’ve seen all the comparisons in the media and among Republicans of Sarah Palin to Wonder Woman. How do you feel about that?

LYNDA CARTER:  "Don’t get me started. She’s the anti-Wonder Woman. She’s judgmental and dictatorial, telling people how they’ve got to live their lives. And a superior religious self-righteousness … that’s just not what Wonder Woman is about. Hillary Clinton is a lot more like Wonder Woman than Mrs. Palin. She did it all, didn’t she?

"No one has the right to dictate, particularly in this country, to force your own personal views upon the populace — religious views. I think that is suppressive, oppressive, and anti-American. We are the loyal opposition. That’s the whole point of this country: freedom of speech, personal rights, personal freedom. Nor would Wonder Woman be the person to tell people how to live their lives. Worry about your own life! Worry about your own family! Don’t be telling me what I want to do with mine.

"I like John McCain. But this woman — it’s anathema to me what she stands for. I think America should be very afraid. Very afraid. Separation of church and state is the one thing the creators of the Constitution did agree on — that it wasn’t to be a religious government. People should feel free to speak their minds about religion but not dictate it or put it into law.

"What I don’t understand, honestly, is how anyone can even begin to say they know the mind of God. Who do they think they are? I think that’s ridiculous. I know what God is in my life. Now I am sure that she’s not all just that. But it’s enough to me. It’s enough for me to have a visceral reaction. And it makes me mad.

"People need to speak up. Doesn’t mean that I’m godless. Doesn’t mean that I am a murderer. What I hate is this demonization of everybody but one position. You’re un-American because you’re against the war. It’s such bullshit. Fear. It’s really such a finite way of thinking about God to think that your measley little mind can know the mind of God. It’s a very little God that way. I think that God’s bigger. I don’t presume to know his mind. Or her mind."


Alan Kistler isn’t gonna lie, he’s kind of in love with Lynda Carter. And his love is pure! Alan Kistler has been recognized by Warner Bros. Pictures and mainstream media outlets such as the New York Daily News as a comic book historian, and can be seen in the "Special Features" sections of the Adventures of Aquaman and Justice League: New Frontier DVDs. His personal website can be found at: One of these days he’d love to write for DC, Marvel or Doctor Who.