Previously on Baxter Building: It’s all change with the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine with the issues we’re covering, and not just because there is no way to describe the Fantastic Four era we’re reading as the world’s greatest anything anymore. Reed Richards is dead! Reed and Sue’s son has been kidnapped to a dystopian future, returned with an entirely vague mission and possessed by something that is either an evil part of his mother’s personality or an entirely alien entity, don’t worry we’ll never find out! The Human Torch and his alien wife have had a baby egg! The Thing has half his face melting because he was attacked by Wolverine! How can anyone put up with this level of excitement? Funny story; it’s actually almost unbearably boring.

0:00:00-0:09:24: We open up with a pre-credits conversation that becomes a post-credits conversation about the same thing: How very, very bad Fantastic Four #389-396 actually are. Spoilers: They’re very, very bad.

0:09:25-0:33:21: We open with Fantastic Four #389, a comic that opens with a reminder of how terrible the Watcher actually is — don’t worry, there’ll be many more reminders throughout the next few issues — before introducing a mystery for the FF to explore that they will almost immediately forget. But why should they remember when there’s the Collector’s terrifying new look and the introduction of an exciting new hero to deal with? (Note: Said new hero is not particularly exciting, as he has what Jeff describes as “absolutely no kind of backstory in any form.” He also has an origin that makes no sense, as will be revealed in the very next issue.) Oh, and Sue, Ben, Scott Lang and Namor all end up in a strange new world that… let’s be real, makes very little sense if you think about it too much. Meanwhile, I accidentally sum up this entire run of issues with the phrase, “On the one hand, it kind of makes sense, but on the other, it’s done so poorly.” Well done, me!

0:33:22-0:46:58: In which I describe FF #390 as “a “What? No” issue,” which is perhaps being too kind to something that is, basically, a comic of three different expositionary scenes, all intercut in an unclear manner that manages to rob each thread of backstory of any true narrative tension. To make matters worse, there’s a case to be made — and I half-heartedly make it — that DeFalco and Ryan have actually set up an interesting scenario with this storyline, even if it’s something that they never actually take advantage of, or even really spell it out for themselves and the readers. Seriously, this is an impressively frustrating run for all kinds of reasons.

0:46:59-1:30:12: I argue to Jeff that we should cover Fantastic Four’s #391 and #392 together because we’ll cover them really quickly, and then… we don’t. In my defense, there’s not that much plot in #391, but we found a lot to talk about, anyway, including the “in-text bitchiness” about the value of Johnny Storm’s stupidity, the debut of Fantastic Force and just how useless they actually are in action, the deaths and immediate backtracking of the rest of the Fantastic Four, the true identity and final fate of the Dark Raider, the immense stupidity of the final fate of Malice, and whether or not Tom DeFalco is trying to make a point about Reed Richards with what he does about the absence of Reed in the book and on the team. Oh, and yeah: The Fantastic Four splits up one more time, too. The highlight of the whole thing is certainly Jeff’s accidental summary of this run of issues: “I don’t know what you’re trying to say here, Tom DeFalco, and I’m sure the answer is nothing.”

 

1:30:13-1:45:53: FF#393 opens with a back-up strip recap of what’s literally just happened in the book, because… Oh, I don’t even know at this point. But as the series goes from hacking Lee/Kirby to hacking John Byrne — and oddly revisiting ideas from the end of the Steve Englehart run, as Jeff and I get into briefly, discussing whether or not DeFalco is in the same camp as Englehart or just the very opposite — we talk about the major disappointment of the issue: Not letting the Johnny/Lyja storyline die a death, or at least pretend to be dead for at least one fucking issue, for the love of God.

1:45:54-1:55:36: How bad is Fantastic Four #394? Bad enough to get Jeff to declare ”This is what I want from my comics! Just cultural appropriation and goofiness!” But what else could we expect from an issue that seems to be inspired by all the worst elements of the backstory of Wyatt Wingfoot, only with the sheen of the arguably more progressive 1990s? Elsewhere, Jeff tells me about the link between Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Claremont’s X-Men (I played it cool during the recording, but this fucking blew my mind, I have to tell you) and we rewrite the Lyja subplot in a couple of ways that would’ve made more sense and arguably been more entertaining. “In a collection of shitty comics, it’s the shittiest,” I say about this issue, and I stand by my belief.

1:55:37-2:07:TK: Out of nowhere, FF #395 is… pretty good…? I mean, that’s inside the context of, “It’s actually terrible, but we’re grading on a curve here,” but still. It’s an old school Marvel Two-in-Oneissue, basically, but we address that the Mad Thinker is actually a really bad genius who doesn’t understand what “unforeseen” means, and the implication of the new suggestion that Doctor Doom may just be the half-brother of Reed Richards. While Jeff and I kind of love it as a concept, neither of us trust the creative team to pull it off, which only seems just and sensible at this point, let’s be real.

2:07:53-2:30:33: Fantastic Four #396 is “an issue that you kind of immediately forget after you read,” according to me, and I’m not wrong in that. There’s some stuff in there worth reading, nonetheless, including the astonishing and needless return of the Flaming Sue and the far greater return of a very cocky and Steve Englehart-esque Johnny Storm. We also discuss whether or not DeFalco is dedicated to making this book sell even if it goes against his own instincts, and what is missing as a result. Is it heart? Is it spirit? Or simply quality…?

2:30:34-end: Next month, we edge ever closer to the end of the run — and the end of the Baxter Building itself! — with issues #397-405, but before we get there, there’s a Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter and Patreon to go check out. Plus, an all-important programming note that we don’t cover in the show itself: There will not be another Wait, What? or Baxter Building until November, because one of us is out of the country being an international jet-setter. (Patreon supporters, expect some Baxter Bungalow material in the meantime. If I have to suffer through Fantastic Force, I’m not doing it alone…!)

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0:01-7:07:  Greetings from Jeff “Bottle Episode?” Lester and Graeme “Clip Show!” McMillan!  Yes, due to a very unique October for us, this is being recorded a week in advance!  We start off by discussing some tendered suggestions about follow-up episodes for Graeme’s more elliptical comments.
7:07-33:48: Graeme has a couple things to ask Jeff on the eve of NYCC:  Graeme knows about the end of Jeff’s convention going days….but what about the beginning?  What was the first con Jeff attended?  Discussed: Willie Ito; Terry Austin; the odd business of selling movie stills; comic book adaptations of movies; Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; and more.
33:48-1:09:34: Jeff has a question for Graeme: since Graeme is familiar with both the 100 page Giants of the ‘70s, and the British Marvel anthology titles of the ‘80s, what would be his pick for titles for similar reprint books (with some new material) for DC, Marvel, and another publisher?  Discussed: Morrison and Porter’s JLA; Chip Zdarsky’s Spider-Man; Jack Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey; The recent Titan Books reprint of The Prisoner by Kirby, Englehart, and Kane; comics that don’t age well; Finder by Carol Speed McNeil; and more.
1:09:34-1:24:04: Graeme mentions 2000 A.D. as a science fiction themed anthology, which leads Jeff to wonder about a horror anthology where there are recurring characters. So crazy it just might work? We talk about some of the big successes (and many, many failures) of horror comics with recurring characters. Discussed: The Ghost Rider; The 13th Floor; John Constantine; the Castle Rock TV show; fan service and the Gotham TV show; and more.
1:24:04-1:35:02: Jeff managed to get his wife to watch the Justice League movie with him.  Why would he do that to his spouse?! Why would he do that to himself!?! Discussed: Justice League; The Avengers; Guardians of the Galaxy 2; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; and more.
1:35:02-2:13:49: Since we’re talking superhero movies and which ones we found better or worse than others, Jeff asks Graeme: top five comic book superhero movies? Top five comic book movies?  Also discussed: upcoming untitled Deadpool film project for December; Dark Phoenix and the X-Men movies; the Spider-Man movies; and more.
2:13:49-2:23:58: And since we’re talking about the Spider-Man movies, we talk about…Spider-Man! But maybe not in the way you would expect.
2:23:58-end: Closing comments!  (But also: CheeWees!)  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.  And then we’re out!
NEXT WEEK:  Baxter Building! Read issues #397-405 of Fantastic Four by Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan and join us!
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0:01-20:26:  Greetings from Jeff “We Must Talk About Batman’s Penis” Lester and Graeme “Really, Jeff?” McMillan!  We get right to the meat of it immediately, and talk about the appearance of “Lil Wayne” in Batman: Damned #1 by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, DC’s attempt to do a Mature Readers label featuring characters you can still buy underoos of.  How’d that turn out, you might wonder if you had no access to the Internet until now?  We are more than happy to enlighten you, even as we struggle to keep the double entendres to a minimum.  Also discussed: Dongtor Manhattan; DC’s decision to automatically censor the book; and more.
20:26-33:43: Jeff worries if between this, Ben Percy being yoinked from Nightwing, and the three month delay after the rejection of the art for Justice League Odyssey if DC is returning to some bad habits they had foresworn before Rebirth.  Discussed: all of the above, and Dan Didio getting a bad rap, the artist lineup on DC’s Age of Heroes book not even a year in; whether the Nightwing controversy would’ve landed harder without Marvel’s Vision controversy; what fans want from Nightwing and what DC gives us with Nightwing; and more.
33:43-1:10:35: On what Jeff suspects is a related note, Graeme has a quick spoiler-free bit of feedback about Heroes in Crisis #1 but not before  we discuss what’s going on with Nightwing these days, especially as presented in the pages of Batman #55 by Tom King and Tony Daniel. Then we turn back to Heroes in Crisis and the fates of midlevel heroes we’re roughly grouping here under Wolfman-era New Teen Titans.  From there we go on to discuss the return of Wally West in DC Rebirth #1, and to what extent that return is a signal of a need for “loose” continuity or “tight” continuity, to what extent the DCU “self corrects,” and with a bit of a comparison to what’s going on over at Marvel with regards to their continuity issues, especially with regards to the current Infinity Wars event.
1:10:35-1:21:08: And, relatedly, Jeff picked up Thanos Wins by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw, and Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 and #2 by Cates and Dylan Burnett, which he thinks ties in to some of these ideas about continuity, what works, and who it works for.
1:21:08-1:39:28: Don’t get him wrong, there are comics that Jeff really liked last week and he runs through them briefly here:  Immortal Hulk #6 by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett; Mister Miracle #11 by Tom King and Mitch Gerads; Avengers #8 by Jason Aaron and David Marquez; Batman #55 by Tom King and Tony Daniel; The Seeds #2 by Ann Nocenti and David Aja; and most of the first volume of Seto Utsumi by Kadzuya Konomoto.  And in celebration of the Killraven Masterworks arriving on Comixology and DC potentially completing the digitization of Kirby’s Kamandi, there’s a brief bit of comparison and contrast between the two.  They start off a little closer than you might think? Come for the comparison, stay for the re-creation of a McGregor-Russell Killraven issue.
1:39:28-1:47:39:  And while we’re comparing stuff, did you ever notice that Smokey & The Bandit is pretty much just a wacky remake of Vanishing Point? Also, Jeff saw Her and thinks Graeme would like it, but Graeme in inclined to disagree.
1:47:39-2:07:41: And as long as we’re talking movies—the footage from The Joker film! That Captain Marvel trailer!
2:07:41-2:12:13: Closing comments fakeout #1!! Graeme has a quick review of Wonder Woman: Earth One, Vol. 2, by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette.
2:12:13-2:15:56: Closing comments fakeout #2! There is a direct sequel to Judge Dredd: Trifecta starting in 2000 AD prog #2100.
2:15:56-end: Closing comments!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.  And then we’re out!
NEXT WEEK:  We are…pretty sure we will be back next week?  Stay tuned!!
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Previously on Baxter Building: I could make reference to just how bad the Tom DeFalco/Paul Ryan run has become by this point — trust me, both Jeff and I will do so many times in the episode ahead — but what everyone really needs to know for the issues ahead are: Franklin Richards was kidnapped into the future by his grandfather Nathan, only to be returned as a telepathic teenager with high-tech armor and a mysterious mission. He’s been followed by someone called Hunter, who is like Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane’s Angela if she were even less interesting, but she has a mission that’s involved here teaming up with Devos, Paibok the Power-Skrull and Klaw, who are like a new Frightful Four with no clear agenda other than screwing with the Fantastic Four. As it turns out, though, they’re out of luck — because Doctor Doom’s just apparently killed Reed Richards in a last-minute suicide move!

0:00:00-0:26:31: What I genuinely believed would be a shorter episode than usual gets immediately derailed when Jeff asks if I’d read Fantastic Four #2 — the current series — and what I thought of it, leading into a discussion about the first two issues of the series, Dan Slott’s strengths as a writer, and what Jeff doesn’t like about Brian Michael Bendis’ Superman. Staying on target as ever.

0:26:32-0:42:01: That conversation leads into our talking about the era of FF that we’re now covering, and how (poorly) it stands up compared with the versions of the book that existed when we first encountered it, and the flaws that the DeFalco/Ryan era has. Or, as I put it somewhat unkindly, “It’s progressively getting a worse and worse comic, and by worse, I mean boring.” (I’m not actually wrong, though.)

0:42:02-0:55:26: We finally get to the point of the podcast and talk about Fantastic Four #382, only to pretty quickly regret it, and the many questions it raises: What’s the point of killing off one of your central characters if you immediately move on from the topic? Why is technology modular for easy updating in Castle Doomstadt? Is the Franklin/Huntara material intentionally obtuse? And why should we be bothered about a cliffhanger quite so underwhelming as this one?

0:55:27-1:18:10: Ignoring the nonsense title, FF #383 brings an unexpected conclusion to the plot line about Sue’s powers failing, a wonderful moment of concern from Jeff about other aliens jailed by the Skrulls and some particularly unlikely strategy working out when it comes to following random people running away from trouble. It also provokes us to attempt to make sense of the mythology that’s been built up around Franklin and Huntara, and to say that it’s complicated and not exactly coherent is certainly a polite way of putting it. Could it be possible that… this wasn’t exactly the most well-planned comic? Surely not.

1:18:11-1:23:40: We speed through Fantastic Four #384, which technically has a couple of big reveals in it — Sue really was being corrupted by Malice, which is maybe an alien perhaps possibly — except that they are utterly undercut by poor execution and a creative team that seems categorically unable to actually offer a definitive conclusion to anything. Still, at least Scott Lang has showed up to be the team’s new science guy, which is… maybe something…?

1:23:41-1:52:24: Both FF #s 385 and 386 interrupt the ongoing storylines with a crossover called Starblast, which — judging from these issues — is all about things happening underwater, but looks are apparently deceiving. As we try to get through the issues as quickly as possible — for #385, at least — there are some things that stand out… not least of which is Lyja the Lazerfist finally giving birth to her and Johnny’s child after issues and issues of teasing, which also means an answer to what a Lacaroo is. Don’t worry; it’s exactly as underwhelming as you think it is, if not moreso. Meanwhile, why is everyone creeping on Sue? Her husband died just a few issues ago!

1:52:25-2:19:37: Even the appearance of the Watcher fails to entertain us in Fantastic Four #387. Indeed, Jeff seems to have problems with his appearance altogether, perhaps because of his long-standing suspicion of bald men in togas. While “Nobody Gets Out Alive!” is, in many ways, a set-up issue for what’s to come, there’s a bunch to chew through here, not least of which are Murphy Brown allusions, the gullibility of our heroes, Namor’s desire to get naked and the inherent creepiness of Paul Ryan’s attempts to make Sue Richards sexy. Oh, and a cliffhanger even more underwhelming than that of #382.

2:19:38-2:31:41: There’s no way to get around it; FF #388 is a mess amongst a run of messes, and manages to make the team look both stupid and also uncaring. It’s also the most curiously, the most retro issue in a run that has been astonishingly retro to date, with appearances from the original Avengers and the early Fantastic Four, and a villain who’s stolen his entire look from a previous FF villain without anyone commenting on it, strangely. There’s certainly some kind of aesthetic at play, even if it’s an inexplicable one.

2:32:42-end: We finish by being once again very unkind about what we’ve just read — “These issues are so devoid of inspiration or fun or anything good,” I say, apparently particularly unimpressed — and looking ahead to what we’re covering next month, which is to say, Fantastic Four #389-396. Disaster is awaiting, and not just in the sense of this comic continuing to go downhill! While you wait for the episode, why not check out our Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter or Patreon? You can collect the set, or something similar…!

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0:01-27:04:  Greetings from Graeme “Self-Embargoed” McMillan and Jeff “Self-Impetigoed” Lester, who move relatively quickly into this news discussion dense episode, starting with the passing of Gary Friedrich and the mighty Marie Severin, two workers in comics with very different careers who nonetheless managed to pass away within a day of one another.  We start discussing the career of Gary Friedrich and his life and times, including his creation of Ghost Rider, his lawsuit with Marvel re same, his last comics credit, his long interview in Comic Artist, an on-point digression about the 90s Kirbyverse comics and Ultra comics, and much more.
27:04-37:21: And then we talk about Marie Severin, how absolutely amazing her work is, and how essential she was to Marvel in the Sixties and Seventies.  We coo in awe over the suppleness of her line, her amazing house ad work for Marvel, her flawless pastiche work for Not Brand Echh, her sense of design, and discuss her ties to both Marvel and E.C, and how that perhaps one to inherit the mantle of the latter.
37:21-41:05: And from there, we move from discussing dead comics creators to the crib death of a nascent fandom with an article over at Graphic Policy about David Wray, better known to Twitter followers of this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con as Tom King’s bodyguard.
41:05-1:20:15: So perhaps it’s unsurprising we move on from there to talk about Comicsgate, the topic (unfortunately) on social media’s mind.  Graeme wants to write about it, but is that just stoking the fires? Or does the industry need a definitive article that can prevent dozens of bad faith arguments? Also discussed: the lack of official statements from major comics publishers; other statements from Marvel; David Uzumeri’s article at Medium about the road to Comicsgate; and more.
1:30:25-1:40:54: And then…there were comics!  Graeme sat down with Marvel Unlimited and caught up with Charles Soule’s run with Ron Garney on Daredevil (“caught up” having that asterisk of Marvel Unlimited’s six month delay, of course).  Graeme also covers Letter 44, Poe Dameron, and Soule’s work on Lando.
1:40:54-2:00:05: By contrast, Jeff has made his way up to the mid-sixties of Master of Kung-Fu, and tries to sell Graeme on the book.  Moench! Gulacy! Marlon Brando! Fleetwood Mac!  It’s Seventies Marvel Comics at its Seventiest!  There’s also some talk about Marvel’s westerns, and the BOGO sale going on over at Comixology through September 6.
2:00:05-2:10:43: Sure, but what about more current comics? Well, we talk about wave 2 of the DC/Looney Tunes crossover books, with us recapping (to the point of spoiling, it should be said) Catwoman/Tweety & Sylvester; Joker/Daffy Duck; Harley Quinn/Goassmer; with a special focus on Lex Luthor/Porky Pig by Mark Russell, Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy, and Andrew Dalhouse.
2:10:43-2:21:20: Jeff caught up with the latest issues of X-Men: Grand Design by Ed Piskor.  Are these recaps of the first several hundred issues of Uncanny X-Men a good introduction for someone wanting to get into the comics?  Jeff initially thinks so, but Graeme makes a pretty good case against.  Also discussed: TOM SCIOLI!
2:21:20-end: Closing comments!! Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.
NEXT WEEK:  Skip week due to travel! But join us in two weeks for Baxter Building! Read issues #382-388 of Fantastic Four by Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan and join us!
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0:01-11:45:  Greetings from Graeme “Jury Duty” McMillan and Jeff “Read a Tom King Comic About Jury Duty” Lester, for reasons those impromptu nicknames probably make clear, leap right in to discussing Batman #53 by Tom King, Lee Weeks and Elizabeth Breitweiser.  Like most of King’s Batman, the issue continues to hit Graeme in the feels, whereas Jeff is a little…more…uh, reserved in his praise, shall we say? Discussed: emotional pin-ups; Kirby immediacy plus Moore formalism equals…profit?  (I’m leaning pretty heavy here on the ellipses I’m noticing.); Batman: Year One; and more.
11:45-23:30:  Jeff, who admits to being crabbier than usual, cedes the ground to Graeme, which is a good thing for us all, as Graeme has read some upcoming graphic novels we should be on the lookout for, and talks about them in exciting (but non-spoilery) ways:  the amazing sounding Bastard by Max de Radiguès; Coyote Doggirl by Lisa Hanawalt; Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal; and the complete collection of Berlin by Jason Lutes (!!!).
23:30-31:18: Graeme has finally read all of Snagglepuss: Exit Stage Left by Mark Russell, Mike Feehan, and Sean Russell.  Remarkably, we manage to keep the discussion spoiler-free, despite Graeme talking about how much th ending really makes the whole work really that much stronger.
31:18-46:21: Speaking of Russell, Graeme mentions Russell’s recent appearance on the 2000AD podcast (in part, although not wholly, because of the work Russell is doing on Dredd for IDW), and that spurs us on to talk about Judge Dredd, the Simpsons, and the changing nature of satire and Mega City One.
46:21-1:05:21: Graeme spins off from all this to talk about something he did not love: the coming collection of Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy. Also discussed: Mark Millar; Mark Millar and Grant Morrison’s Swamp Thing; Batman: The Damned; Batman: Hush; Legends of the Dark Knight; all those god-damned Batman books; and more.
1:05:21-1:22:38: Talking about who we might want to see about Batman leads, oddly, to a new theory Jeff has about the success of Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men and why they work better than the original Lee/Kirby X-Men.  And from there, we end up discussing the switch on the book’s focus from gay culture to (maybe?) Israel?
1:22:38-1:41:23: Turns out this is the right week to be talking about old X-Men stories and creators like John Byrne, because this is the week it was announced C.B. Cebulski/Akira Yoshida signed John Byrne to return to Marvel and do an X-Men book.  What the hell is going on?  We discuss, and that also leads us to talk a bit about sales of Superman under Bendis, Pearl #1 by Bendis and Alex Maleev, and more.
1:41:23-2:00:43: The wonderful Leef Smith of Mission: Comics and Art asked us to read Hey Kids Comics #1 by Howard Chaykin and share our thoughts.  Graeme didn’t read it, Jeff did, and…hoo boy.
2:00:43-2:06:36: Jeff also read Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun, Vol. 9 by Izumi Tsubaki.  He’s also read Prison School, Vol. 3 by Akira Hiramoto, and believe you me, you won’t mistake one series for the other anytime soon.
2:06:36-2:12:08: Graeme has a recommendation for Jeff:  the first two books of Brink by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard, a 2000 A.D. series that’s kind of a detective story, kind of not: Graeme mentions someone else’s description of it as “True Detective meets Outland.”
2:12:08-2:27:24: In “news,” Jeff wants to know if Graeme knows anything about this weird and more than slightly suspect TokyoPop sale on Comixology.  Selling digital versions of books currently available from other publishers? Licensed comics featuring characters they surely can’t still own the licenes for? What is up with this sale?  Graeme doesn’t have any answers, but he does point out some strange stuff about the Project Superpowers sale.  And we talk about some reading options currently available on Marvel Unlimited, including the entire run of Master of Kung-Fu, which leads Graeme to ask a question—“Jeff, I’ve never read Master of Kung-Fu.  Should I?”—Jeff has literally never thought of before.
2:27:24-end:  A classic closing comments fakeout!! Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast. (And then! We talk about the sentencing of comics writer Gerard Jones to six years of prison, which is admittedly a very, very weird way to end the episode.)  And then we’re out!
NEXT WEEK:  Skip week! Rest up and join us in September!
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Previously on Baxter Building: When we last left off — in the same recording session! — the Thing has discovered an all-new reason to feel self-pity, Sue Richards has turned so almost-evil that it’s amazing that no-one seems to have brought in some psychics to check her out, and Johnny Storm has accidentally burned down an entire university. Reed Richards? Still boring, but I think we’d all expect that, let’s be honest. Spoilers: This won’t be the case by the end of the episode.

0:00:00-0:19:52: We go straight into Fantastic Four #376, which opens by stealing from the “seminal classic” Uncanny X-Men storyline “Days of Future Past,” and ends by stealing the it-depends-how-old-you-are potential classic backstory of Cable, because… Tom DeFalco was really into the X-Men at the time…? I have no idea. Also! Jeff comes up with the portmanteau “Nathable,” and I try and defend Franklin Richards for reasons that are genuinely inexplicable to me at time of writing, by calling him “a dick in training.” But class is almost over…!

0:19:53-0:41:31: Is Reed Richards a bad scientist, or Tom DeFalco a bad writer? Fantastic Four #377 will have you ask that question, as well as others like this: Is Huntara a rip-off of Angela? Was Devos supposed to be an alternate Franklin Richards, or perhaps just the enemy of Franklin in the future he was raised in? Did Devos’ original design owe a little bit too much to the action movies that were coming out at the time? And most importantly of all, is Paul Ryan actually on a mission to make this comic book as boring as possible?

0:41:32-0:54:00: There are all manner of things that are unexpected about FF #378, not least of which is seeing the Thing complain that people don’t think of the group as “the world’s greatest fighting team” anymore. Apparently, that was a thing at some point…? But who can dwell on such matters when Johnny’s trial is interrupted by four of the lamest villains of all, and there’s an entire army of cameos including Spider-Man! Daredevil! The Avengers! Sandman but not the Neil Gaiman one but wouldn’t that be amazing! And, fine, sure, Silver Sable. Whatever.

0:54:01-1:01:30: Things aren’t going well for Sharon in Fantastic Four #379, which might come as a relief for Sue and Reed Richards, who are both currently sharing a plot line unintentionally. (This won’t last long, don’t worry.) Meanwhile, Doctor Doom is plotting in the background, and that’s not going to end well. (Note that we’re picking up the pace, as Jeff and I both begin to get appropriately exhausted.)

1:01:31-1:07:03: Speeding towards the end of the episode, we rush through FF #380, in which Doctor Doom and the Thing share a meal and a brief connection — one that Doom’s henchmen don’t notice, strangely — and a random alien force turns into an invincible zombie because, sure, why not. Everything else makes perfect sense by now, after all.

1:07:04-1:14:47: There’s a lot to dislike about Fantastic Four #381 — the generic-looking villain who raises the specter of Don Perlin’s Defenders designs, although he also prompts Jeff’s characterization of him as “Knockoff Darkoth”; the unsubtle-as-hell “Maybe Malice is evil” moment; DeFalco and Ryan’s seeming inability to stage an exciting action scene — but it really might all be redeemed by the last page reveal, which is genuinely kind of wonderful in both humor and shockingness. It also fixes that whole problem about Reed Richards being kind of dull by comparison. Are we… are we ending on a high note…?

R.I.P.

1:14:48-1:24:46: I go back to a conversation that appeared as the cold open to Episode 44, and ask Jeff, is there really something to like about these comics? His answer may surprise you (if you’ve not really been paying attention to what he’s been saying earlier in these last two episodes).

1:24:47-end: Finally, we wrap things up by looking ahead to next episode — where we’ll take on #382-388 — and mention, as always, our Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr accounts, not to mention the the Patreon page that makes this whole thing possible. As Alex Chilton once so poignantly sang, thank you, friends.

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Previously on Baxter Building: The super-team that defined the 1960s has reached the 1990s, and it’s not necessarily the best combination; Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan are trying to bring Marvel’s First Family up to date, and the results so far have been… mixed. Sue Richards has accepted her dark side, Malice! Johnny Storm is maybe okay with murder as long as he can pretend this he’s killing aren’t really human! Reed Richards is… really dull! Comics!

0:00:00-0:16:25: A surprisingly long cold open sees Jeff and I discuss the consistency of these issues and my overall dislike for them, but Jeff has a more positive view and sees value in their attempt to do something different with the formula, and then I introduce what I thought we were going to be covering this episode, before I ended up chopping it in two. What we’re really covering in this episode is Fantastic Four #s 371-375.

0:16:26-0:33:59: One of the most surprising things we talk about in regards to Fantastic Four #371 is the debt these issues owe Steve Englehart and his run on the title — and how it repays that debt. There’s a lot of debt to be repaid, as we also talk about the influence of X-Men comics on these issues, and the ghost of 1970s comic book feminism on show with regards to Sue Richards, who debuts her infamous 1990s costume here and doesn’t take Kindly to anyone who isn’t an immediate fan. Is it just me, or has Sue gotten… colder…?

0:34:00-0:47:20: So much happens in FF #372, but also, very little actually happens, leading us into a discussion of the way in which the entire comic book feels like subplot this time around. (Also touched upon: How Walt Simonson and, to a lesser extent, John Byrne, handled subplots in their FF runs.) More importantly for everyone, Jeff has a theory about whether or not a fight between the Molecule Man and Aron the Watcher is actually about Jim Shooter, and it’s maybe the highlight of the episode. All this, and me misremembering the name of one of the classic Byrne FF stories! But, hey, we’ll always have Code: Blue! (If you’re wondering who that is, you’re right.)

0:47:21-1:04:22: Technically, Fantastic Four #373 is — as Jeff puts it — “arguably a comic with three different action scenes at once,” and yet somehow it feels overwhelmingly dull despite that. Once again, the pacing — and seeming lack of ability to find focus in one particular plot, instead giving pretty much equal emphasis to all of them — is to blame, but the issue isn’t a complete loss, as Jeff attempts to blow my mind by sharing his working theory about how Tom DeFalco views auteurism and its place in comic books. Worryingly, I pretty much agree with him that he’s onto something. Meanwhile, what is happening with Franklin?

1:04:23-1:17:03: For fans of guest-stars, FF #374 is the motherlode, featuring Spider-Man, Wolverine, Ghost Rider and the Hulk — that’s right, the so-called “New Fantastic Four” — as well as special guest star and spectral presence Doctor Strange, as they all try and hunt down fugitive from justice Johnny Storm. The end result isn’t something that works out particularly well for Ben Grimm, but really: Does anything work well for Ben? Meanwhile, Jeff coins the term “Frangry,” we talk about metaphorical castration as it related to Benjamin J. Grimm, and the idea of an insincere Image Comics inspiration.

1:17:04-1:36:57: Sure, Fantastic Four #375 is astonishingly underwhelming despite the prismatic cover, and yes, our discussion about Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan working at cross purposes does at least result in Jeff’s alternate (and far superior) reading about what could be happening in the comic, and, okay, I also share the one benefit of story gains from being nonsense, but there’s really one very important thing everyone can learn from this issue, and that’s this: It contains what might be the worst lawyer in comic book history, or at least, the worst legal decision. Who says this isn’t the Mighty Marvel Age of Legal Decisions, effendi?!? Excelsior!

1:36:58-end: I step in as external force to bring this episode to an early end, and in doing so, don’t remind listeners that we have Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr accounts, never mind the Patreon that makes this all so possible. See what you get for waiting for the show notes, even if they are very late for reasons outside my control…? (Really, though; thanks for the wait.)

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0:01-10:49:  Greetings!  Graeme “Bad Chicken Sandwich” McMillan and Jeff “Really Bad Back” Lester have one of their most meta-openings ever, as we talk about…why our episodes open the way they do!  Harbinger to come, or just a celebration of the fact Jeff and Graeme are still learning about one another two hundred and fifty-plus episodes  later?  I can’t say for sure and I was there!  Anyway, we end up talking a bit about the Qanon stuff and conspiracy theories and those who believe this kind of stuff, which leads us terrifyingly smoothly into talking about…
10:49-43:19: Sabrina by Nick Drnaso, the graphic novel published just a few months ago which is the first graphic novel to make the longlist for the Man Booker Prize!  It’s a terrifically deep look at the uniquely 21st Century reaction to unimaginable catastrophe, alternately poignant and terrifying.  Jeff just read it, and has a lot to say  and recommend about it.  (He also has a lot to say about human nature and social media and belief and doubt, which hopefully isn’t too ridiculous, and Graeme has some interesting follow-up points about places like Facebook.)
43:19-56:18: Graeme has been reading a lot of prose, but for the last week he’s been reading old X-Men comics, specifically around the time of the X-Men Legacy era written by Mike Carey.  We talk a bit about that era and how that approach to the X-Men resonates now, about Mike Carey (underappreciated in Jeff’s mind, maybe not so much in Graeme’s), and more.
56:18-1:09:08: Jeff has also read The Seeds #1 by David Aja and Ann Nocenti, and wants to talk about it a bit. Of course it looks amazing, but what did Jeff think of the aliens-among-us-in-a-near-dystopia premise, and how Nocenti handles it?
1:09:08-1:23:12: After a bit of a delay, Mister Miracle #10 by Tom King and Mitch Gerads is finally out!  We’ve both read it, so…what did we think?  We also discuss Batman #51 and #52 without any of our previous arguing and kvetching (we also don’t mention the absolutely beautiful art by Lee Weeks colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser).
1:23:12-1:42:53: And from Batman, we go on to finally talk about Superman #76 from 1952 with the first team-up of Superman and Batman (collected in Superman & Batman: The World’s Finest Vol. 1, on sale for the Kindle and Comixology through August 6, and available to check out through Hoopla).
It’s an amazing bit of silver age delight, packed as it is with some subversive screwball characterization.  We also discuss the amazing modern retelling by Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Ryan Ottley, and others in Superman/Batman Annual #1.
1:42:53-1:45:58: Finally, Jeff wants to talk just a bit about the delight that is Is Kichijoji the Only Place to Live? by Makihirochi, a Tokyo real estate manga recently digitally published in the U.S. by Kodoansha.
1:45:58-1:50:58:  And that leads Graeme to talk in turn about Gengoroh Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband, which, despite hearing many excellent things, Jeff still hasn’t read.
1:50:58-2:02:03: A few brief words from us about the excellent Immortal Hulk #4 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett. Find out why Graeme thinks it should be called “America’s #1 Fear Magazine.”
2:02:03-2:11:26: Graeme mentioned he’d been deep-diving into early 2000AD, with an eye toward the very early (“off model,” as he puts it) Judge Dredd stories by Pat Mills and John Wagner. We also talk (far too quickly!) about early Rogue Trooper. (To which I can’t help but add: ROGUE TROOPER, YOU GUYS)
2:11:26-2:20:48: “Any sort of news crapola you want to touch on?” Jeff asks, and while Graeme initially thinks not, we do end up discussing the three lines of Conan reprints Marvel is putting out when it gets its license back (and the big sale going on through August 6 from Dark Horse of the same material before they lose said license) and we talk about everyone’s favorite Cimmerian (at least since Filgud The Goat-Milk Maker died).
2:20:48-2:14:40: The news crapola that Graeme really wants to discuss, it turns out, is the announcement of Motor Crush switching from monthly issues to trades (after a hiatus).  And Lazarus is becoming a quarterly?! Hot on the heels of the Saga hiatus announcement, we are curious (hand-wringy).
2:14:40-end: Closing comments!!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr,  and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.
NEXT WEEK:  Baxter Building! Read issues #371-381 by Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan, and then join us!
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Hey, everyone! Jeff here with a *huge* apology.  I knew this weekend was going to be busy because the missus and I were going to have a sleepover with the nieces, but boy howdy, did it eat up the time! And energy.  Oh god, the energy! They’re little adorable vampires, those two.

Anyway, so even though Graeme and I have a pretty thorough discussion of SDCC 2018, the news and the installations and the spectacle while also managing to have a far-ranging discussion of other matters…I did a terrible job capturing it in these show notes. I do have some quality links, but maybe not as many as we discussed.

So: my sincere apologies.  I hope you still give the episode a listen, and give me another chance next episode…which will be just next week!

0:01-5:12:  Greetings!  Graeme “Remarkably Warmer” McMillan and Jeff “Sounds Brutal” Lester with another weather report from Portland, Oregon.  We mention our continuing horror and awe with our inability to be brief and, of course, then proceed to go on entirely too long about it.  Some good things do come out of it however: for example, Graeme breaks the news he was a guest on the 2000 AD podcast discussing Arthur Ranson (last month).  There’s also a bit of scuttlebutt about the 2000AD panel, as well as the Treasury of British Comics panel Graeme sat in on this year at SDCC.
5:12-1:07:03:  And speaking of 2018 San Diego Comic Con, Jeff gets the deets from V.I.P. McMillan about this year’s convention, including this year’s Eisner Awards (of which Graeme was a judge); chats with Paul Levitz, Dave Gibbons, and Scott McCloud; the guided meditation on the DC Yacht; and other amazing experiences.  But we also talk about the news that came out of Comic-Con, most of which didn’t feel very big, and the one piece that rocked Comic-Con but didn’t come out of it (the firing of James Gunn by Disney/Marvel).  One of the best Patreons we support gets even better! Plus: the biggest installations (to sell stuff)! The hottest news (from more than a week ago)! And much, much, much more, including my favorite excerpt from a Brett Easton Ellis novel EVER.
1:07:03-1:27:28: And here’s Part 2 of our talk! Starting off with talk about DC’s Walmart books, covering pagecount, republication plans both about their original material (when will it hit the direct market?) and older material (how are they going to handle the runs being collected when it gets to the end of the New 52 material?), what’s the end game for Rebirth and the New 52 (Graeme refrains from sharing his educated guesses about where to look, whereas Jeff is happy to share his uneducated, gossip shit-talking version), and much more.
1:27:08-2:07:22: We try to transition from comics news, but fail and we go on to discuss the news of Annie Koyama shuttering Koyama Press, as well as a great profile of David Brothers by Alec Berry that also has some very big news folded into it.  Also discussed:  The Minx line of books; the successor to Archie Goodwin’s legacy; Joss Whedon on HBO(?!) and the very big news of the yearlong (or more!) hiatus of Saga; the career of Brian Fuller; and more.
2:07:22-end: Closing comments!!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr,  and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.
NEXT WEEK:  Yet another Wait, What?, this time with more comics reviews than news (we hope)!  And if you read comics on digital and have Hoopla, check out a copy of DC’s Worlds Finest Omnibus as Jeff is dying to talk about 1952’s first official meeting of Batman and Superman in Superman #76.  Join us!!

 

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