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CR Holiday Interview #14 -- Douglas Wolk On The Invincible Iron Man: World's Most Wanted
posted June 20, 2010
 

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Douglas Wolk writes for clients the rest of us can only dream about. He even published a book of comics criticism called Reading Comics (De Capo, 2007). His critical outlook may be most noteworthy for the genuine enthusiasm Wolk shows for mainstream North American superhero books and the sophistication of thought and process and result he consistently ascribes to their creation. Wolk was one of only three writers of the twenty interviewed for this series that chose a book for how well it embodied a certain kind of comics experience as opposed to how it achieved greatness or how important it was as a publishing effort. I very much enjoyed the following discussion. -- Tom Spurgeon

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imageTOM SPURGEON: There's one thing I wanted to ask you if we ever talked again on the record: can you talk a little bit about the experience of getting Reading Comics out there and into people's hands? Was there any single instance of feedback that's stuck with you? Has it changed the way you write?

DOUGLAS WOLK: I don't know that there's an individual piece of feedback that's been particularly important, although it was really gratifying to see people responding to it in general. One thing the book's reception has nudged me toward, though, is thinking more carefully about who's going to be reading what I write, and what I can do for those readers specifically. I've certainly been trying to change the way I write, but that also has a lot to do with trying to step my game up in general.

SPURGEON: This may be totally unfair, but since I have the attention of one of the best writers on superhero comic books and we're discussing a superhero comic book, I'll take the risk. Can you characterize in broad strokes the decade in superhero comics now just passing? It seems to me that a lot of what was interesting was less the stuff found in the nooks and crannies as in years past, or in the independents part of Previews, but the bigger titles from the bigger names -- or, in the case of someone like Brian Bendis, the titles that made his name on his way to doing such comics. How would you describe the last decade in the broadest terms?

WOLK: I'd say the biggest change in superhero comics this decade is one that began in the previous decade: the shift from books keeping particularly well-regarded serial comics in print to serial comics acting as an installment plan for stories that are ultimately meant to be experienced in books, which means that the basic unit of storytelling is less firmly 22 pages and more like roughly six times that. The way superhero comics are regarded by their audience also seems to be even more focused on writers now than it's been in the past. (There are a lot of nearly interchangeable artists working in something like house styles on big titles right now -- I read a couple of recent issues of Superman this morning and I couldn't tell you who drew them without looking it up.)

Ongoing independent superhero comics do seem to have dried up into a smallish niche: The Boys, Robert Kirkman's pastiches of '80s Marvel at Image, Mark Waid's inverted Superman and Batman homages at Boom!, and beyond that there's Savage Dragon and Love and Capes and a few other things. But I found that a lot of the projects I enjoyed this decade were lurking around the margins of the Big Two -- Brubaker and Phillips' Sleeper, Kirkman and Hester's Irredeemable Ant-Man, Gotham Central, that sort of thing. The Lethem/Dalrymple Omega the Unknown was as marginal as they come, and I loved it.

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SPURGEON: You chose a book -- you chose a few and then I picked one -- that was maybe less a major milestone than one that was more representative of a certain kind of comics making. Is that a fair way to describe your thinking?

WOLK: I think so -- I appreciated that you didn't ask me to select what I thought was the best comic of the decade, but something I'd liked a lot and thought might be fruitful to discuss. I like your description of superheroes, which I hope you don't mind my quoting, as "comics' special genre" and "the right-now part of the comics medium." I don't think "World's Most Wanted" is visionary work, but I thought it was a terrific piece of serial entertainment -- I got a jolt of pleasure from every installment and looked forward to finding out what happened next, and I enjoyed rereading the whole thing. I also suggested the Fraction/Larroca Iron Man because it's coming out right now -- superhero comics are a vein of the medium that's perpetually evolving (which means that there's often something that looks a little old-fashioned about even five- or ten-year-old superhero books).

SPURGEON: Is the fact that you can pick a series and kind work at it to get the key to a lot of other works an indictment of corporate creativity all by itself? You've written so well about 1970s mainstream comics, a time at which I think folks were largely left alone -- past certain boundaries of good taste and propriety -- and now it seems much more tightly controlled. What is the state of writers and artists being able to express themselves through these comics? What is the difference between a comic book that reflects the skill and concerns of its creators and one that's more of a cog in the machine? What kinds of creators seem to do best in this current system?

WOLK: I don't know that there's necessarily a contradiction between expressiveness and cog-building; I get the sense that superhero-comics audiences and publishers are all in favor of expressiveness, as long as it takes a form that's more or less consistent with the current norms of the genre. (J.H. Williams III, Alex Maleev, Doug Mahnke...) I've probably given a dozen friends copies of the Brendan McCarthy issue of Solo, but I bet if he wanted to draw a monthly Flash series it would be a very hard sell (although, hey, I'd buy it). And I liked JK Niimura's work on I Kill Giants, but for some reason that Spider-Man story he drew a few weeks ago didn't sit right with me -- it's hard to square his basic approach to drawing with the general look of all the other comics that involve those characters.

imageI also suspect that we now take some of the innovations of the '70s for granted, and that the territory covered by "consistent with current norms" has widened. In the context of the '70s, Gail Simone's writing on Secret Six would probably have blown minds at least as much as what Steve Gerber was up to; now it's just a solid, slightly eccentric superhero comic. Scott Kolins' artwork on Rogues' Revenge would have seemed exceptionally "expressive" back then, too.

The big change in recent years as far as superhero comics writing goes is that the large-scale shared narratives have become much more important -- an ongoing state of affairs rather than a once-a-year crossover -- and the writers who thrive in the current climate are the ones who are good at navigating that: Bendis and Johns, most obviously, but also developing writers like Fred Van Lente and Jonathan Hickman who can grab onto whatever line-wide premise is being thrown at them and come up with some fun angle on it.

Only-a-cog-in-the-machine comics very often seem to have been commissioned rather than pitched -- the impulse behind them appears to be "we can profitably publish something that has these words on the cover, on the strength of this other project that will make it marketable" or "we need something to fill this ongoing series' pages for a while," rather than "here's a potentially awesome approach to Hellcat." They're not always terrible, but they mostly are, and it's usually easy to tell which ones they are: the grudging "I suppose it's a gig" attitude comes through.

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SPURGEON: If I can describe this series' place in the overarching Marvel narrative, which has encompassed much of the decade, this is Tony Stark's confrontation with/flight from government forces led by Norman Osborn, the Spider-Man villain. Osborn found himself in this advantageous position after seizing a "kill Osama Bin Laden live on TV"-type opportunity during a war between earth and the shape-changing Skrulls. The war with the Skrulls was fought by a superhero community still divided and slightly damaged by the Civil War. On one side of that Civil War -- by nearly all hints within the comics the wrong side -- Tony Stark was the leader. And that's maybe it. I'm probably missing steps. So my question is this: obviously a story like "World's Most Wanted" has to function as both stand-alone serial and as a multi-issue cog in this greater narrative. How well does this story do that? What are winning strategies for straddling that fence, do you think?

WOLK: One big problem anyone writing Iron Man in the last few years would have faced is that Tony Stark had been written into a corner. The way the "Civil War"/"World War Hulk"/"Secret Invasion" sequence played out turned him into a seriously unsympathetic character: not just a charmingly arrogant playboy but the personification of the military-industrial complex, the guy who consolidates his power by suppressing liberty in the name of public security and gets (Captain) America killed in the process. (I like Sean T. Collins' phrase: "a walking warrantless wiretap.") So this story essentially had to punish him so severely that he could be redeemed as a protagonist.

On its own, "World's Most Wanted" is about its central character methodically destroying the most important part of himself to achieve victory, which is a compelling story -- I believe Matt Fraction has described it as a standard "Hero's Journey" plot run backwards, and I like that idea even though I'm not sure it makes sense. (And giving Tony Stark the Flowers for Algernon treatment was an incredibly clever idea: it goes straight to what's interesting about the character, and it might wipe a lot of the reprehensible stuff he's done over the last few years off his record in a way that doesn't quite feel like a cheat.)

I found the overall "Dark Reign" premise more interesting than I think you did: it provided a climate for Marvel titles to explore public morality in the context of a state run by murderous creeps who care about nothing but power, but who basically control the public narrative. This story happens in that world, and suggests that Tony was partly responsible for it -- it treats "Dark Reign" as Tony's story, which I think helps it work in both contexts.

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SPURGEON: How does the success of the Iron Man movie play into how this story was received, or perhaps even how it was created? If I remember writer Matt Fraction's statements on that subject, there was an effort on his part for the series in general to kind of get a grasp on what they were doing with the movie version even if it wasn't something he could directly access until it came out. Is this clearly marked in some way as a comic series that might not have existed before the movie?

WOLK: It's absolutely a post-movie Iron Man book, even beyond a few visual details (the way that chest circle glows!). I don't know that a story written before the movie would have set the Tony/Pepper power-and-attraction dynamic right out front the way Fraction did; in general, I think what we're seeing here dovetails with the movie in a way that a five- or ten-year-old comic book wouldn't, and it's designed so that someone whose first exposure to the character was seeing and liking the movie can pick up the trade and think "yes, this is like that." But the movie was also the most entertaining Iron Man story I'd ever seen, so, you know, bring it on. It's what brought me back to Iron Man, which I hadn't been reading regularly in something like 20 years.

SPURGEON: For that matter, we're a full decade into these movies now. Have they changed the comic books in any ways that are obvious or maybe less so?

WOLK: We're more than a decade into them -- the '00s instance that seemed oddest to me was Geoff Johns, with and without Richard Donner, trying to square up the Superman titles with the first two Superman movies. I suppose Amazing Spider-Man is now closer to the movie version than it was ten years ago, and a lot of the Ultimate line, especially Ultimate X-Men, reflects the movies to one extent or another. (There's also been an impulse I've noticed toward action-movie-style "cinematic" storytelling: the current incarnation of Iron Man flows a bit like a movie in a way that most comics of ten years ago didn't.) On the other hand, the Batman line made the slightest of nods toward The Dark Knight (Lee Bermejo's Joker didn't look entirely unlike Heath Ledger's), then proceeded to zoom off in a totally different direction, which seems to have worked out fine both creatively and commercially.

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SPURGEON: I thought this was the best work I'd seen from Salvador Larroca, and in particular it seemed much less heavily photo referenced than some of his work in recent years. How should he be looked at in the context of some of the more widely recognized strong superhero artists of the day: Quitely, and Romita Jr. and Williams, say? What are his strengths as put on display in this book?

WOLK: John Romita Jr. has near-Kirby-class brute force and that wonderful splintery line of his (especially when he works with Klaus Janson), J.H. Williams III devises compositions (and sometimes drawing styles) on both the page and panel levels that underscore the psychological dynamics of the stories he draws, Frank Quitely can stage and frame action like nobody's business and has a beautiful buoyant wit in the way he draws characters. Larroca shows his hand in his drawing a lot less than any of them -- his style actually seems to have a lot to do with contemporary video games: it works to make the characters look "real" without doing much that declares "SALVADOR LARROCA MADE ME." I'm still not fully reconciled to his photo-referencing, and I wonder what it would look like if he were a little more expressive with his line, but the post-PS3 look of his artwork -- even when it draws close to the uncanny valley -- is at least formally appropriate for a series about technology (in a way that I suspect would be less appropriate for a series like Thor, say).

I think Larroca's real strength is character acting -- letting body language and facial expressions carry the story along. That doesn't do much good in a fight scene involving people in full-body armor, and actually I think the big fights are some of the less effective parts of his artwork here, but the sequence with Tony, Whitney and Pepper in the cave, for instance, shows off what he can do much more dramatically.

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SPURGEON: While we're looking at individual efforts, what is your general take on Matt Fraction's work, on Iron Man and on other series like The Order and Uncanny X-Men? What are his particular virtues, and how are they put on display here?

WOLK: I haven't read most of Fraction's X-Men yet, but from what I've seen of his work, he's a pretty versatile writer -- his Iron Man doesn't read like his Iron Fist or The Order or Casanova, and each of those projects is written in a voice that suits them. The things that appeal to me most about his work are in the broad construction of his stories -- there usually seems to be a smart idea or theme driving them, which most of their details serve -- and in his character writing, as well as the little flourishes of cleverness he sprinkles around his stories (the "calicomom" routine, the business with the impaired Tony listening to his book-on-tape in flight). I hope at some point he writes a superhero title with a tone as idiomatic as Casanova, which didn't connect with me as much as his Iron Man has but seemed fresher and riskier than his Marvel projects have been so far. You've probably read more of his work than I have; what's your take on it?

SPURGEON: I think he's the real deal. Kind of a throwback. It was smart of the Journal to pair him up with Denny O'Neil; he reminds me of those guys a lot. A thing I think interesting about Fraction in relation to his general peer group is that I'm not sure we know what he wants to write about yet, the way it was obvious what was close to, say, Ed Brubaker's heart pretty early on. I think he's been extraordinarily disciplined that way, with Casanova having a confessional aspect, which is a slightly different thing. I don't have a firm grasp as to what Fraction thinks is exciting or interesting or worth exploring through art.

That might be unfair, too. There's such a grinding aspect to writing mainstream comic books that a lot of self-reflection and focused consideration we expect from writers in other media might be impossible. I used to wonder why Stan Lee seemed particularly fond of Iron Man, but I grew to feel he might not be able to fully articulate it even if given that opportunity. My theory was that Tony Stark's story represents a certain kind of relatively late in life turnaround based on achievement and choice rather than potential and position, which would obviously appeal to Lee. But who knows if that's true? Chances are it's all projection. Although flipping that back to "World's Most Wanted," do you believe
readers react to a character like Iron Man on that level, or is the main response more on the level or "billionaire in a metal suit"? Or both? Or neither?

WOLK: I like your theory about Tony Stark and Stan Lee; I think any aspect that's cool in one way or another is probably part of the draw. ("Billionaire in a metal suit" has to be part of it too, and so does the Tom Swift whiz-bang factor.) I also suspect that if the first movie had been terrible, we would still be thinking of him as a B-lister. One thing I like about Fraction's take on Iron Man is that, for a hero, his Tony is not particularly a good person: he believes he's in the right and has done a lot of good, but he's also been responsible for creating an enormous amount of unhappiness (in his personal life) and suffering (in his role as an arms merchant and quasi-political figure), and all of Fraction's Invincible Iron Man so far has been about those chickens coming home to roost.

SPURGEON: Another thing about the modern Iron Man character is that Marvel seems to have going for a new way to recast him as a pop-culture sci-fi figure. Do they finally have that with this iteration? Does this version have legs?

WOLK: It's only got legs as long as Marvel's got creators who've got something interesting to say with that angle. I'm curious to know what you think, actually, especially since there are large chunks of Iron Man I haven't read -- I think between the mid-to-late '80s and the Fraction/Larroca run, the only sustained series of issues I paid attention to was the Warren Ellis "Extremis" sequence. Iron Man's a useful construct for playing with ideas about technology, obviously, and one of the most obvious visual hooks of this story was seeing each successive suit of armor as they got more and more primitive; the last decade's technological advances seem to be mostly about communication, though, and I'm not sure if there's a good way to turn semi-realistic near-future technology into a compelling action comic book. It'd be cool if someone could pull it off.

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SPURGEON: If I were a better man, I could make a killer Doug Ramsey joke here. I'm even less well-read in post-Bob Layton Iron Man than you are, Douglas, although my sense of it is unfortunate haircuts and plumbing the melodrama of the character, tweaking these facile corporate/technological/concept aspects over anything touching rich metaphorical potential of a guy putting on a second skin and becoming a better man for it, let alone doing so with a set of sophisticated futurist principles in play. I think maybe The Ultimates' take could have nudged the character in that direction more effectively than we realize, that clever superhero-as-missile visual. I'm sure there were pockets of exploration that have escaped both of us, though, throughout.

Is there anything to say about the treatment of women in mainstream superhero comics that we can see in this particular series? On the one hand you have these strong, smart, sympathetic female characters like Pepper Potts and Maria Hill and the Black Widow; on the other, a friend mentioned you
could read that part of the comic as these strong female characters running around at the beck and call of this billionaire alpha male. How important are strong female characters in mainstream comics like this one? How are the mainstream comics companies doing in this area?

WOLK: Yeah, it's no secret that superhero comics taken as a whole are still not great on representations of women, but I do think this series is pulling in a good direction. (Well, a direction vis-a-vis women characters I can read without wincing, anyway.) I was happy to see that the secondary plots are almost entirely concerned with Pepper and with Maria and Natasha's interactions, and I like how Natasha spends her entire sequence bored and annoyed by the "adventure" she's been roped into. I don't know whether or not "World's Most Wanted" passes the "Bechdel test" -- as I recall, the Iron Man movie failed that test outright. (I think there are only two significant female characters in the movie, they have one brief scene together, and they talk about Tony.) On the other hand, this series is called Iron Man; it's understandable that he's the center of attention, and Pepper's big speech in the most recent issue kind of hangs a lantern on that particular problem.

One aspect of superhero comics' right-now-ness is that anything that gets in the way of or even defers their readers' enjoyment can be dangerous (missed ship dates, splotchy coloring, difficult storytelling techniques...). If stories for 13-year-old boys don't involve particularly well-realized women characters, those 13-year-old boys may not notice or mind. But I'm not a 13-year-old boy any more -- the superhero comics reader of right now, I feel safe in saying, is generally not 13 any more and/or not a boy -- and if the superhero stories I get don't have greater-than-one-dimensional women in them, that's going to get in the way of my enjoying them, too. I like some dude-centric comics a lot (the buddy-road-trip series The Incredible Hercules, the father-and-son series Batman and Robin), but I'd get burned out by a steady diet of nothing else.

(Another angle on this: one of the peculiar pleasures of reading superhero comics is forming attachments to characters over time, and then getting to enjoy seeing them whenever they turn up and particularly whenever they get to do something interesting or "characteristic." I felt distinctly more interested in Pepper, Natasha and Maria at the end of this story than I did at the beginning. That's something, anyway.)

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SPURGEON: Can you talk a bit more about that particular reader's thrill that comes with finding a new way to use an older character, as has been done here with Pepper Potts? How are you engaged by moves that reach back and use established characters like that one? Did you laugh at the book's final one-liner?

WOLK: I did laugh at that line; I think I laughed aloud at least once each issue, either at Oh Yeah It's On Now moments or at in-jokes of one kind or another -- probably my biggest spit-take came from Whitney Frost quoting the Mountain Goats' "No Children." As a reader, I get a kick out of superhero comics drawing on older characters or scenarios in ways that deepen the story -- when the "oh, I recognize that" moment is followed by a little rush of seeing what's been done with the old idea to make it meaningful in, or add meaning to, the new context. That's a lot of the fun of this sort of massive-scale continuity, I think. (My favorite recent example of that is the image near the end of Final Crisis that alludes to Krona's vision of the beginning of time in a 45-year-old issue of Green Lantern: if you don't recognize it, you'd never even think it was significant, but I think I actually jumped back in my seat when I realized what I was looking at and what it meant to the story.) I was unfamiliar enough with a few references in "World's Most Wanted" that I had to look them up ("huh, I guess we haven't seen Happy in here, I wonder what happened to him?"), but Wikipedia filled in the blanks.

SPURGEON: I was going to ask you a print vs. on-line question, but then I remembered I don't care, so I thought maybe I'd ask you this: will there be new Iron Man comics ten years from now, and if so, will they be the same as today's aimed-at-trade, big-event driven, consistent yet not rigid in terms of continuity comics? Is the pleasure that you derived from this series going to be something of the past? I have this sense that mainstream comics are attuned to a very particular customer and I wonder if that customer is going to be around into their 50s.

WOLK: I have absolutely no idea; I no longer assume that anything in particular is going to be around ten years from now. If something unexpected goes horribly wrong at Diamond, the whole industry is basically screwed, right?

SPURGEON: If something hasn't gone horribly wrong already.

WOLK: I suspect, but have no proof, that the health of the superhero-periodical market in general trickles down from how many consistently terrific superhero periodicals there are at any given time. If there were ten pamphlets a week as good as Iron Man, the Morrison/Quitely Batman and Robin and the Rucka/Williams Detective Comics, I'd probably find a way to afford 15 a week. If there are only one or two titles that pique my interest in a given week, I may not make it to the comic book store at all.

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SPURGEON: That's sort of the old alt-comics threshold argument -- that there simply stopped being enough alt-comics of a certain quality to keep that fan coming into the stores -- applied to superhero comics, which I've never heard before.

WOLK: I will say that "aimed-at-trade" seems like it can be a slow poison for serial comics. Comics that are enjoyable as serials have to be satisfying as individual issues (Heidi MacDonald's "satisfying chunk" principle), whether or not they're part of an extended story. I gave up on following the Ellis/Bianchi Astonishing X-Men as a serial after one issue, when I realized that it was just going to be 22-page slices hacked off the side of the eventual book, but I can tell you what happened in any one issue of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, and I haven't read some of them in 20 years.

I have no idea what the demographics of superhero comic books and trades are right now -- especially the question of who's coming into the audience and who's leaving -- and I would love to know more. A few years ago, I saw Paul Levitz talk a bit about what DC had learned about its demographics; I'm paraphrasing from memory, and I apologize (and hope I'll be corrected) about the parts I'm getting wrong. But the gist, as I remember, was that for a long time the standard model of a DC customer was somebody who bought $20 worth of comic books every week, and that this was now gradually fading but overlapping with a second, growing model: customers who spend $100 at a time, five or six times a year, and generally prefer books to pamphlets.

I get the sense that Marvel and DC are trying hard to hold on to that $20-a-week segment of their audience. One part of their strategy is "just wait until you see what happens next Wednesday!" (DC's weeklies, Marvel's effectively-weekly Spider-Man, tightly coordinated linewide continuity in general.) The other part, which I find a lot less effective at holding my attention in the long term, is "this is what you used to like, right? Here it is again." (Actually, All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder was more like "You like this, don't you! -- this is what you like, isn't it!")

Following an enormous, multi-threaded action-adventure narrative can be a real pleasure; there's nothing else much like it. But the barriers to entering those fictional environments are relatively high, and staying with them can be time-consuming, expensive, and boring. Every comic is somebody's last; habitual serial readers drop out of the habit when the rewards of following the story, at least on a weekly or monthly basis, are no longer worth the effort and expense to us. $4 for 22 pages of story that I might or might not like is, in general, my personal line-in-the-sand right now. I've read a ton of 2009 Marvels in the last few weeks, but that's because I went to a con and bought them for between 10 cents and a dollar apiece.

SPURGEON: Finally, even though we went in that different direction, do you have a short list of the great superhero comics of this decade you could share with us?

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WOLK: Your list of 83 covered a lot of my favorites. Superhero-wise, this was Grant Morrison's decade, as far as I'm concerned -- more than anyone else, he's been writing stories that give me deeper pleasure with time and re-reading. Seven Soldiers was my favorite superhero project of the last ten years or more, I thought All Star Superman was beautifully executed, Final Crisis had a power and depth no other event comic has matched, and the two Seaguy miniseries to date still reverberate in my head.

imageOtherwise, the Jonathan Lethem/Farel Dalrymple Omega the Unknown was a treat and a trip, and in a different way so was Promethea. Bendis's best comics, especially Alias, have a combination of psychological subtlety and crazy momentum that I like a lot. And I think people are going to be talking about Rucka and Williams' Batwoman serial in Detective for a long time -- it's gorgeous, and it rewards slow reading and observation.

imageThe only other one you didn't name that I particularly enjoy is John Wagner's Judge Dredd stories (and I still haven't read enough of them from this decade to be able to firmly endorse the lot, but "Cadet" impressed me when I read it a few months ago in the context of his first two America stories) -- I really like the way he's playing a long game with the series, setting up plot points that unfold very slowly across years or decades as the cast ages and their society changes.

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* Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 2: World's Most Wanted, Book 1, Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca, Marvel, softcover, 152 pages, 9780785134138, November 2009, $14.99
* Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 3: World's Most Wanted, Book 2, Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca, Marvel, softcover, 160 pages, 9780785139355, April 2010, $19.99

[the two books collect a serial that ran entirely within the date parameters]

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This year's CR Holiday Interview Series features some of the best writers about comics talking about emblematic -- by which we mean favorite, representative or just plain great -- books from the ten-year period 2000-2009. The writer provides a short list of books, comics or series they believe qualify; I pick one from their list that sounds interesting to me and we talk about it. It's been a long, rough and fascinating decade. Our hope is that this series will entertain from interview to interview but also remind all of us what a remarkable time it has been and continues to be for comics as an art form. We wish you the happiest of holidays no matter how you worship or choose not to. Thank you so much for reading The Comics Reporter.

* CR Holiday Interview One: Sean T. Collins On Blankets
* CR Holiday Interview Two: Frank Santoro On Multiforce
* CR Holiday Interview Three: Bart Beaty On Persepolis
* CR Holiday Interview Four: Kristy Valenti On So Many Splendid Sundays
* CR Holiday Interview Five: Shaenon Garrity On Achewood
* CR Holiday Interview Six: Christopher Allen On Powers
* CR Holiday Interview Seven: David P. Welsh On MW
* CR Holiday Interview Eight: Robert Clough On ACME Novelty Library #19
* CR Holiday Interview Nine: Jeet Heer On Louis Riel
* CR Holiday Interview Ten: Chris Mautner On The Scott Pilgrim Series
* CR Holiday Interview Eleven: Tim Hodler On In The Shadow Of No Towers
* CR Holiday Interview Twelve: Noah Berlatsky On The Elephant And Piggie Series
* CR Holiday Interview Thirteen: Tucker Stone On Ganges

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