FuturesEnd47Cover

Chalk it up to some kind of comic book Stockholm Syndrome, but reading the main Convergence series made me feel weirdly… not nostalgic, exactly, but curious to re-read The New 52: Futures End, and specifically to read the final issues — featuring the showdown with Brainiac which ties in with Convergence — for the first time, thanks to my being dramatically behind on my reading. So, this weekend, I found myself going through the final ten issues of the series, thinking Wow, I wonder how all this holds together?

…Surprising few, I suspect, would be surprised that the answer is “Not that well.” There are a lot of holes to pick in the final issues of Futures End, but one problem doesn’t even belong to that series; instead, it’s a Convergence problem, which is “How did Brainiac end up back on Telos after being captured in the 5 Years Later timeline of Futures End?” (There are other ways in which Convergence doesn’t line up with… well, almost anything else, really, but I’ll save that for a future post-Convergence post; I’ve already read the final issue, and it’s… a doozy, of sorts.) Continue reading

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Photo May 24, 1 43 22 PM

“The Power of Fire-Weeping Eyeball Compels Thee!”

Howdy, Whatnauts.  I spent the vast majority of last week holed up at a silent with no phone, TV, or wifi.  I did, however, have a bunch of comics downloaded onto the iPad and when I got tired of experiencing enlightenment/napping, I did read a few books.  Join me behind the jump for the rumpus: Continue reading

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Try as I might, I just don’t get Secret Wars so far.

It’s not that I can’t follow the events that are unfolding on the pages of the series, which is currently two issues into its run; I can do that just fine, despite both dialogue and art that tends towards the static and stately, preferring to reveal things less through action than outright exposition, as vague as it might be. (It’s a strange time when you long for the days of the original Secret Wars, wherein Mike Zeck would show a character do something and Jim Shooter would anxiously add dialogue wherein the character tells the audience that he’s doing it, just in case they didn’t get it already; and yet…!) It’s that I don’t get it. Continue reading

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Previously on Baxter Building: Having successfully created the Marvel Universe as we know it with the first four years of Fantastic Four, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s ambitions have apparently only grown with the introduction of the Inhumans and, in the very first issue we’re about to talk about, the first appearance of the Silver Surfer and his very, very hungry boss.

FF-surfer

0:00:00-0:00:47: A metatextual cold open, in which I tease the cold open that you don’t get to hear — unless you’re a Patreon supporter, because, yes, the cold open that I talk about is available in the digital grab bag as a supporter extra for those who want to hear what kind of a week I had last week.
0:00:47-0:07:41:Jeff and I introduce the contents of the episode — we’re covering Fantastic Four #48-53 in this episode, although we say that we’re doing #54 repeatedly; chalk that up to optimism in the fact that, maybe, we wouldn’t talk too much this time around. Oh, if only! This is Lee and Kirby’s FF in “full effect,” as Jeff puts it, and we launch straight into it by discussing what Joe Sinnott brings to the artwork of Jack Kirby. (Jeff references this comment by Archibald at one point, in talking about Sinnott bringing the look of Kirby and John Romita closer together.) You can’t just put it down to Sinnott alone, however; we also discuss the fact that Kirby’s art is starting to feel like the same artist who worked on things like New Gods, The Eternals and Captain America in the 1970s in passing.

FF-sky
0:07:42-0:19:25: We return to Fantastic Four No. 48 right where we left it, with the team escaping Attilan as it gets shut away from the rest of the world “forever.” In fact, we return exactly where we left off, talking about how much Stan Lee adds to the beautiful, yet occasionally narratively unhelpful, Kirby aesthetic. Also under discussion: Does this issue set up today’s superhero comic by being an entire issue of foreboding for an event that only happens on the very last page? I argue against that theory because of the amount of action on offer, but feel free to disagree in the comments below. And is Stan Lee accidentally setting up the idea that Reed and Sue are the most dysfunctional marriage in the Marvel Universe? (Spoiler: Yes.)
0:19:26-0:23:58: Whether intentionally or otherwise, the pacing of this issue really adds to the feeling that events are happening out of control, but Jeff would rather talk about the fact that the Fantastic Four are quietly becoming guest stars in their own series — and why that’s a good thing.
0:24:59-0:36:06: FF #49 “is such a weird issue,” I say, and a lot of that is down to the surreal pacing of the whole thing, which includes this scene:

FF-bath

Only in Lee and Kirby’s FF would you get a bath scene with the Thing in the middle of such an epic story as the Galactus saga. Jeff makes a really impressive case for this being a character moment instead of just a comedy moment, before he talks about the ways in which the issue lays the groundwork for not only Jack Kirby’s DC career but also Steven Spielberg’s. We get back to what Stan Lee brings to these issues, as well, with my describing this era of the series as a confidence trick (albeit a really enjoyable one), and comment on the fact that the Silver Surfer looks a little more alien than he’ll later become at this point…

FF-surferalien

0:36:07-0:46:09: How on fire are Lee and Kirby at this point? On fire enough that scenes in which neither are doing their best work, and yet, somehow it works nonetheless. Is it because Kirby is subconsciously channeling fairy tale logic yet again? (If there’s one unconscious theme of Baxter Building to date, it’s that Fantastic Four by Lee and Kirby is a series of fairy tales.) Is it the basic design of the Silver Surfer on the whole, and the way in which the body language of the character underscores his calm demeanor? The best Galactus, by the way? The melodramatic one, despite what Jeff thinks.
0:46:10-0:56:09: We arrive at what just might be the highpoint of Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four, at least in terms of the out-there, expansive nature of the pair’s storytelling and ambition, as the Watcher sends Johnny beyond the known on a secret mission. Kirby and Sinnott’s visuals approach abstract genius, and Lee comes up with something to match (including an unknowing shoutout to Kirby’s latter Fourth World work). It’s trippy, disconnected from everything else in the issue, subverting narrative expectations — Jeff’s detour about the way in which this subplot rejects Joseph Campbell and is reminiscent of Blue Velvet of all things is fascinating — and all the better for it. This is the way out, whatnauts. (Enjoy a surprise cameo from Gus and Ernie midway through this conversation, too.)

FF-beyond
0:56:10-1:16:31: “Greater than the greatest” is how Stan Lee describes the 50th issue of Fantastic Four, and he’s… not entirely wrong, despite the fact that this issue is a letdown compared with the first two issues of this storyline. How does this issue connect with Bob Layton and Squirrel Girl? The answer may surprise you! Once again, Stan steps up to make sense of some of Kirby’s more narratively-confusing panel-to-panel coherent, and then introduces the concept of moral relativism to the Fantastic Four when you least expect it, while the Watcher all of a sudden looks like a bad guy:

FF-watcher

Johnny returns from beyond with… a Macguffin, and I’m not happy about that, although it works for Jeff (in part because it plays into Kirby’s tendency to fudge his endings and rely on what came before for emotional impact). What’s the story all about, anyway? Not the ultimate fate of the planet, if the real climax of this issue is anything to go by: oh, Silver Surfer, you deserved better… maybe? Plus! The previously unknown connection between Fantastic Four #50 and Multiversity!
1:16:32-1:20:43: “Not to put you on the exhibit stand,” Jeff says before asking putting me on trial and asking me how I would have preferred to see this storyline end. Well, I did say that I thought the end of the story was unsatisfying. My lesson has been learned for the future, don’t you worry.
1:20:44-1:28:07: Ben Grimm is a self-involved dick, ladies and gentlemen, but we love him nonetheless (Still, pay more attention to Alicia, Ben!). More importantly, FF #50 features the first appearance of one of my favorite Marvel Universe characters: Wyatt Wingfoot, who singlehandedly redeems the amazing amount of filler that closes out the issue.
1:28:08-1:29:11: In which we arrive at “This Man, This Monster,” Fantastic Four #51 and probably my favorite issue of the series. Not that it started out that way, as I explain my secret origin with the story.
1:29:12-1:45:52: Jeff makes a reference to this Wait, What? art from Gar Berner, which is just great:

FF-Graeme

Isn’t that such an amazing piece? And riffing on one of the finest splash pages in the series to date, as Kirby and Sinnott bring their A game entirely. “You can read the expression on his face as just the deepest desolation,” Jeff puts it, which is entirely true. Who doesn’t love this page? Who doesn’t love this issue in general? Under discussion in this issue: the wonderful art, the plight of Ben Grimm’s helplessness and the fact that it’s not a story about any of the Fantastic Four at all. (Remember what Jeff was saying about the FF becoming guest stars in their own series?) Also, what can the fake Thing teach us all about self-belief and self-determination, and what — if anything — did it teach Stan Lee about same? It’s a very different type of story than the earlier three issues, but none the less for that.

FF-CCW
1:45:53-2:00:51: Fantastic Four #52 introduces the Black Panther (in a story called, of course, “The Black Panther!”) and, as Jeff puts it, ushers in a world of “Psychedelic Afro-Futurism,” and somehow it still comes across as painfully racist. Not as much as the next issue, admittedly, but these two issues are impressive examples of how the best intentions of those laboring under a particularly troublesome mindset/societal outlook are still very much shot through with all those troublesome elements when viewed from more “enlightened” times (Insert sad, bitter joke about how much more enlightened about race we are today.) The T’Challa on show in this debut issue is very different from the one we’ve come to know and love, and that’s discussed for awhile, in between my constant fretting about racism (and pointing out that the Inhumans are back, although they never really went away). Far more fun: Jeff explaining what college is, and why Lee and Kirby get college so very, very wrong.

FF-stereo
2:00:52-2:09:12: If you’ve been waiting for the Fantastic Four to be the super team of white privilege, then Fantastic Four #53, “The Way It Began,” is the issue for you! Ben can’t be bothered listening to the Black Panther’s origin story because he’s read Tarzan stories! Sue Storm can’t believe Africa has technology! Do the Wakandans have any true agency in their first appearance, and is it enough to overpower everything that’s distasteful about the issue? For Jeff, the answer is yes, and as I argue against that reading, the sound quality starts to fade, meaning that I pop in and out. Consider it a blessing in disguise, perhaps…?

FF-yawn
2:09:13-end: We start to talk about FF #54, mostly to continue to talk about the racism in the issue, before taking a powder for reasons of running time and poor call quality. Next time, we’ll talk about #54-60 of the series, matching our impressively lengthy discussions and trying to stay slightly more on-topic. Will we succeed? Who can tell? In the meantime, keep up with us on Tumblr, Twitter and Patreon, and I apologize for sickness meaning I was especially lax with the Tumblring and the written post last week. Those of you with access to the Patreon supporter grab bag will, at least, get to know why in horrifying detail. We’ll be back with another Baxter Building in a month, but before then, another Wait, What? in two weeks. Miss them never, true believers.

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File May 16, 8 27 22 AM

Here is where I talk about Sun-Ken Rock.

If you’ve been listening to recent podcast episodes, you’ve heard me talk about reading Sun-Ken Rock by Boichi in a number of ways: furtively, reluctantly, or else in full-on babbling confessional mode. I think the last time I mentioned the strip, I was talking about turning to pirate manga sites to fill in the twenty section gap in the middle of the Crunchyroll manga library.

Here is a comic I am willing to steal for, and yet I’m extremely reluctant to write about it.  Extremely reluctant.  I am a guy what likes talking about Batman, for crying out loud, or pining for the days when Skull The Slayer was an ongoing title.  My sense of shame is pretty underdeveloped, at least when it comes to talking about the popular cultures.

But when I think about writing about Sun-Ken Rock, I don’t see it turning out well for me.  I think it’s worth trying and maybe untangling some of the knots in my thoughts about it.  My worry is I’m going to come off like one of those dudes trying to justify what is clearly an unhealthy drug addiction:  “Oh sure, other people have trouble with meth, but my complexion looks great!”  But, hey, if that’s how it’s gotta be…

(More behind the jump, because I’m probably going to put a *ton* of images in the post.) Continue reading

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epitaph

In lieu of flowers, the families of the Marvel and Ultimate Universes request you instead consider donating to The Hero Initiative…

Hey, so, let’s get this underway, shall we?  Show notes are below; plain text link for copying and pasting purposes will be in the first comment, I still haven’t seen Age of Ultron yet, go, go, go GO!

multiversity_2_pg_48_49_colors

00:00-17:48: Greetings! We recorded this on election day for the U.K., and you’ll certainly be able to tell based on our first minute, but in an alarmingly short turn-about we are talking about Multiversity #2 by by Grant Morrison, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Eber Ferreira, Jaime Mendoza, and the coloring team of Dan Brown, Jason Wright, and Blond! We talk about Graeme’s re-read and interpreting the comic as an inoculation against the Gentry’s infection. But how about that last page? asks Jeff. To Graeme, the whole thing seemed much more upbeat and fulfilling on the re-read. Jeff thinks Multiversity #2 is a very playful and light but not necessarily optimistic, but rather a meeting point between the pendulum swings of Morrison the optimist and Morrison the pessimist. Also discussed: the somewhat disturbing idea that you might have a better experience just reading Multiversity #1 and #2 (and maybe or maybe not the Multiversity Guidebook, depending on which one of us you ask) without all the one-shots in-between. Also discussed: The Atomic Knights of Justice and how far we should be unpacking the Arthurian motifs in the miniseries; the Seven Secret Earths; multiple multiverses; additive concepts versus reductive concepts; and more.

OmegaMen
17:48-28:37: As compare and contrast, Graeme mentions Convergence, the weekly book in the center of DC’s wackadoo event, and finds additive elements in it that have won him over. Also discussed: the second issues of the first batch of titles and happy endings; how DC’s Free Comic Book Day offering, Divergence, is available on Comixology along with a handful of free previews from upcoming titles like Prez; the War of Kings (Jeff King vs. Tom King vs. Tim Kring); and more.
28:37-31:40: Yes, Graeme highly recommends picking up that freebie Divergence preview, which he talks about briefly for Gene Yang’s Superman; the Omega Man preview by Tom King, Barnaby Bagenda, and Jose Marzan, Jr.; and the Prez preview by Mark Russell, Ben Caldwell, and John Lucas (see link above for where you can grab ’em for free from Comixology).

Hex in Full Effect

I kinda buried the lede here which is: SCUBA-DIVING CANNIBALS.

31:40-1:04:34: By contrast, Jeff has only read some weirdo not-especially-recent stuff he’s been reading during a relatively crazy week. Stuff like Hex #11-13 by Michael Fleisher, Mark Texeira, and Carlos Garzon, on sale digitally as part of one of DC’s Convergence sales (and the only three issues available on Comixology). Seriously, though: how can you not enjoy the 18 issues series from the mid-1980s where cowboy Jonah Hex is thrown into the post-apocalytpic future of 2050 and forced to road war and terminate and robot cop? Well, Jeff lays it out how such a scenario might be possible. Also discussed: Wayne Wayne, Dwayne Wayne, Batman Beyond, Future’s End, Scott Snyder’s story in Detective #27, The Dogs of War, how Jonah Hex got to the future in the first place, the crossover issue with the Legion of Super Heroes that of course Graeme has read (of course!), Michael Fleisher’s infamous run on 2000 AD, the first installment of our new quiz segment “was that a 2000 AD series or were you high on bath salts?” and more.

SpiderGwenCast

An Army of One…and and Audience of Two?

1:04:34-1:17:36: Another odd reading choice from Jeff: Spider-Gwen #1-3 by Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez, and Rico Renzi. Discussed: Lois Lane, alternate earth stories, stylized art, whether to buy issues or wait for Marvel Unlimited, gimmicky comics vs. super-gimmicky comics, pre-Starlin Warlock, and things of that nature.

SecretWarsCast

Wherein the phrase “A Cast of Thousands” might become all-too-horribly accurate.

1:17:36-1:45:59: Secret Wars #1! By Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic! Discussed: Hickman’s Marvel plots as metaphors for fixing a toaster; humor vs. oh god we hope that’s humor vs. oh god that was supposed to be funny; a debate about whether or not a status quo at the beginning of an event signals there will be a return to that status quo; the pleasures of feeling up to speed about comics, even when you don’t enjoy them; “a billion dollars worth of crap”; the rumors of Planet X-Men [link?]; Onslaught, Heroes Reborn, The Age of Apocalypse and the holy shitness of line-ending events; and more.
1:45:59-1:47:59: On an indirectly related note, both Graeme and Jeff wanted to draw attention to Tim O’Neil’s essay on Stan Lee, Marvel Comics, and Hollywood, in part because it says some of the things we’ve been saying here on the podcast but says them better, and in part because it’s just a really damn brilliant piece of work.
1:47:59-1:52:50: Graeme has been catching up on Valiant and has picked up an appreciation for Matt Kindt’s work for them, especially Divinity, but also titles like Imperium as well. Nuff said?  Probably not, shownote-wise, but Poppa’s is staring down the barrel of a work deadline so…

TeamAndTwo

YES PLEASE

1:52:50-2:11:15: Jeff is still reading Sun-Ken Rock by Boichi, although he found himself in an ethical quandry (well, an even bigger ethical quandry than reading Sun-Ken Rock by Boichi is probably the more appropriate way to put it) due to a twenty-seven installment gap in Crunchyroll’s collection. Is it okay to read free manga online when it’s just to fill a (presumably accidental gap in a service one *is* paying for? Even if you look at it on a super-big high definition screen? And speaking of all-you-can-eat comic services, Graeme has some very exciting news about Marvel Unlimited. On the week we recorded (last week) Marvel added about another two hundred or so Star Wars comics and, more germane to our interests, approximately 15 issues of Marvel Two-In-One and 25 issues of Marvel Team-Up! Just think what they’ll add when Graeme and Jeff get that write-in campaign organized! (No, we haven’t forgotten.) (There’s also some Amazing Adventures issues featuring The Inhumans by the mighty Jack Kirby.) Will Micronauts ever return to print? Will Rom: Spaceknight? And why does Jeff continue to buy print if he soooooo loves digital? And many other topics! Most of these questions will probably not be definitively answered here!
2:11:15-end: Closing comments, a.k.a., “next week is a Baxter Building episode, REALLY IT IS” (no, seriously, it is).  Tote-Lands! Places to look for us at—Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter ! Tumblr! (And secret bonus, Graeme lists the websites he’s currently writing for.)  And, of course, do look for us over on Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/waitwhatpodcast) where, as of this count, 105 patrons make this whole thing possible. 105! We are grateful.

Remember: next week—read Fantastic Four issues #48-54 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby along with us!  Look to the comments for that plain-text link!  And like that.

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Hey, here’s a photo where something has gone wrong.  Can you see it?

WW conflict

Wrong wrong WRONG

You see it, right?  (No, it’s not that half of the comic cover is cut off—that’s intentional.)  But since I was so incensed I took two screenshots, here’s another:

WW full credits

Here it is again. NOT RIGHT.

The first image is the description of Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #33 as it appears when you peek at it on the (broken, useless part of the) Comixology app where you see how stuff is listed in the store.  The second image is the actual credits page from the book.

You will notice these two list of credits are not the same, and the number of parts in the story are not the same.  If it’s any comfort, the stories are also not the same:  Vendetta is a story about Wonder Woman trying to put an end of the civil war happening in the Central African republic of Itari, where the Uwanges and the Mbindis are fighting, and at the end Ares, The God of War, shows up to complicate matters.  Because of a bunch of stuff going on this week, I had far less time to read comics than usual and so, honestly, this was just going to be a quick capsule review of the story.

But, okay, let’s recap.  This is a ninety-nine cent weekly comic about Wonder Woman, which is a thing I want to support and in fact am support by subscribing (which is why I had no idea how Comixology was describing the issue—I just download the damn thing and read it).  In the nine months since Sensation Comics started its run as a “Digital First” comic, we’ve had:

  1. Stories ending up in the print edition before they were published digitally despite the “Digital First” tag;
  2. All-ages stories published in the print edition with a blood-spattered non-all ages friendly cover;
  3. An unannounced two week publication hiatus (that looked, at one point, like it would last a full month) that happened between the first and second parts of a two-part story so that DC could publish the first two issues of the digital-first Wonder Woman ’77;
  4. Another unannounced four week publication hiatus during which DC could publish issues #3-6 of Wonder Woman ’77;
  5. What I just mentioned above: DC engaging in a bit of (to be ungenerous) false advertising or (to be more generous) an uncorrected mistaken description of a product currently on sale; and (let’s just wrap it up at)
  6. The print edition collecting Wonder Woman ’77 comes out with a $7.99 cover price, approximately $2 more than the cumulative price for the Kindle collection of same (which has since been fixed, it looks like) .

To the untrained eye, this looks like a remarkable amount of clusterfuckery, although the more time I dug around, the more sense it makes…kinda?  For example, even though Sensation Comics and Wonder Woman ’77 both have Jessica Chen as an associate editor, Sensation editor Kristy Quinn isn’t listed at all on Wonder Woman ’77.  So you have two separate editors, one or both of whom may be too busy or too bad at communication to let the other know, hey, “by the way, my book is scheduled to go digital at this time so you should let your readers know.”

It looks like another problem exists between the print and digital editions as far as pricing, packaging, and promotion goes, a general problem which bleeds over into the Wonder Woman titles specifically.  (If you want to see unbridled confusion, you don’t have to dig deep into the Net to find threads of people being baffled by whether a specific issue number is the print or digital edition.

KindleConfusion

Oh, sure. That…makes sense?

In fact, if you check out the Amazon Kindle entries for Wonder Woman ’77 #1 (the first issue of the digital series) and Wonder Woman ’77 #1 (the collection of all six of the digital issues), they have the exact same numbering, author, artist, and they share the same 18 reviews.  Although the descriptions are slightly different, they are both for the first story and are therefore interchangeable.  Only through publication date, price, and file size (one lists a page count of “69 pages (estimated)”  which really doesn’t mean much since the half-pages of a digital issues make 11 “regular” pages into 22 “digital” pages)  can you figure out which is which…if you know what you’re looking for.

DigitalPrintDigital

Oh sure, it’s the digital version of the print version of the digital version. What’s confusing about that?

By contrast, Comixology distinguishes between the two identically numbered issues by calling the collection “Wonder Woman ’77 #1:  Print Version” even though, yes, it is something you can buy digitally.  (I pity the poor fan of the Wonder Woman TV show who only now finds out about the series and then goes online to shop for it.)

Is this standard for DC Digital?  Because if it is, it doesn’t seem like they’re pioneering a new marketplace for content as much as they’re undermining that new marketplace…or maybe they’re deliberately trying to be those pioneers who got eaten by bears or who had to resort to cannibalism to survive and died anyway. Recently, Graeme and I discussed DC’s long-ago splitting of The New Teen Titans book into two titles, one for the newsstand and one for the then-newish direct market.  In some ways, this is very different because the Teen Titans were near the top of the comics market at the time and Wonder Woman, bless her, is not.  And in some ways, this strikes me as pretty similar because the Teen Titans publishing split marked the beginning of the end of my time as a reader.

In a previous post, I talked a bit about my buying habits for digital comics, and those habits make me loathe to give up on Sensation Comics.  I tend to be better at keeping up with weekly DC Digital books I subscribe to than I am at the larger anthologies of 2000 AD and Shonen Jump Alpha.  I want to support Wonder Woman comics for all ages readers.  I like a marketplace where new talents can break in.  And at ninety-nine cents, I can forgive a lot of dross (although I have to admit I’m also getting tired of the unchanging status quo of the Wonder Woman books, the samey-sameness of the stories, and how everyone is either Wonder Woman learning a lesson or Wonder Woman teaching someone a lesson).

Marvel and DC have experimented with weekly content and one of the things they’ve learned is that they’re not very good at it, and those are on books that cost anywhere from three or more times the cover price of Sensation Comics.  Even with the same page count of a monthly book, the amount of work required for editorial shoots up dramatically for a weekly title, especially an anthology which might mean literally four times the amount of communication and coordination with talent.

So I get it, I do.  But what’s bothersome is that DC doesn’t, even nine months into Sensation Comics‘ digital run, a run that is starting to make the print strategy of “solicit dozens of titles three months in advance with minimal information for the few thousand retailers in existence and just assume they’ll read and track any online promotional push” look sophisticated.

(In fact, I don’t doubt part of the problem with Sensation Comics‘ mishaps is that Comixology and Amazon—the two largest (and only?) retailers of DC Digital Comics—don’t have anything like the level of the skin in the game of print retailers: that Wonder Woman ’77 digital trade had its price adjusted in less than two days of a retailer complaining.  Sensation Comics #33 has been on the market for exactly as long but still hasn’t been corrected.)

I don’t have a conclusion for this piece, or a moral, or even the kind of weirdo turn into dourness I usually end up with.  In The Unnamable, Samuel Beckett wrote, “Where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”  He was probably writing about life or language (or language as life), topics far larger and even more absurd than comic book reading.  But I do wonder who feels more ridiculous: the publishers of Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, or the purchasers of Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman.  At this exact moment, I kinda feel like I’ve got the edge.

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SHZMCONV-1-1-6f1a0

The fourth week of Convergence books from DC is arguably the most mixed yet, devoted to — in theory — golden age titles and related works, but in reality, something altogether different (How else could Booster Gold or Blue Beetle end up in here?). It’s also, oddly enough, the week when my exhaustion with the event won out, and I struggled to finish many of the books on offer. Continue reading

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OPUS_chiens

(From Satoshi Kon’s Opus. Tough call as to which image to lead with.)

Oh my gosh, you guys.  On the one hand, this was kind of a nightmare, what with my computer’s monitor going kablooey on the day we were scheduled to podcast and with all the organizing of all the stuff I need to record, edit, and upload one of these here episodes.

On the other, we kind of crushed it?  Sure, the show notes are gonna be a tad brief, but in just under two hours, Graeme and I talk Age of Ultron, Superman #40, Justice League #40, Batman #40, and Multiversity #2 in a…surprisingly organic way? And we also cover Satoshi Kon’s Opus because a Patron demanded it!  (Actually, it was a pretty polite request.)  Check out the show, and check out the show notes below!

00:00-5:40: Greetings! Do we know the difference between a comma and a quote mark, a hawk and a handsaw? Do we know how many times Jeff’s computer has blown up on him? If you have a rhetorical question, now is the time to pose it! But be quick, because there’s only a brief amount of time before we get to…
05:40-17:58: Avengers: Age of Ultron! Graeme has seen it, Jeff has not, so there is a spoiler-free discussion of the movie (although, really, if you want to know the truth, Jeff had the phrase, “Just go ahead and spoil it, Graeme, that’s fine, I don’t care” on the tip of his tongue for this entire discussion but said nothing. Does Jeff really care about being spoiled about a Marvel Universe movie? It sorta seems like it, despite his protestations to the contrary….) Anyway, yeah, we talk about Age of Ultron. Also discussed: movies that are good in the theater; AoU’s reaction to Man of Steel; what they did with The Vision; movies that are written and directed by one man but feel like they were created by committee; all the problems with a shared universe concept for action movies; Joss Whedon, ostensible creator of the Agents of SHIELD TV show talking about how as far as he’s concerned, that show doesn’t exist; and more.
17:58-23:36: How we get from there to Superman #40 is a mystery I’ll leave to the listeners, but there is a very solid link between the Avengers movie and this issue written and drawn by John Romita, Jr. Come and find out what it is! Discussed: Scott Snyder’s Batman vs. Geoff Johns’ Batman; plotting and the editorial hand that sweeps stories forward as opposed to the slipperiness of properly giving credit in a shared universe, which leads us to…

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23:36-51:40: Justice League #40 by Geoff Johns and The DC Art Squad of Kevin Maguire, Phil Jimenez, Jim Lee, Jason Fabok (and more!), which Graeme thinks owes a semi-substantial debt to Multiversity? But compounding this problem with making sure creators get credit is the way the system allows editorial fiat to go uncredited and, frequently, unexamined. Also mentioned: the characters from the latest Pixar movie watching the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer; things fanboys cheer for at a fanboy movie; the discussions we might be having after Ant-Man, and the discussions we were having before the first Avengers movie; the just announced Valiant multi-movie platform; why creators for the Marvel movie universe can’t count to three unless they’re counting the number of SHIELDs in existence; change versus the illusion of change versus the illusion of illusion of change; another terrifying food metaphor from Jeff; and (again) more.

51:40-01:00:14: Multiversity #2 by Grant Morrison, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Eber Ferreira, Jaime Mendoza, and the coloring team of Dan Brown, Jason Wright, and Blond! One of us liked it and one of us pretty much did not. Can you tell which of us will turn out to be which? (Hint: Jeff refers to it as “the comic shop version of Multiversity.”)

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It’s All About The Benjamins, Baby (Where “Benjamins” is equal to “Goats”)

01:00:14-1:20:23: Batman #40 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia! This is another book one of us liked more than the other (Hint: Jeff wrote about it for the website), but we also have a lot of stuff to say about it here. Overwrought allegory or perfectly fine wrap-up to a story and a fun tease for the future? Also discussed: Graeme’s insights thanks to interviewing both Snyder and Capullo; Jeff’s insights thanks to talking to Jeff; comparisons to Hickman’s Avengers; goats, Gotham, and “hm, goats!”; the clumsiest summing up of a ‘70s Iron Man comic ever; and (yes) more.

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Opus Image #2 (en francais!)

01:20:23-01:40:16: Thank God, Graeme remembers we were scheduled to talk about Satoshi Kon’s Opus because of course Jeff totally forgot. So, thanks to the recommendation of patron Eric Rupe, we read Satoshi Kon’s Opus and we talk about it here. Will the split machine once again cause Jeff and Graeme to disagree about a book, or do we finally achieve unity? Either way, you get a full spoilers deep cut conversation about Kon’s unfinished story of a manga creator trapped in his own manga. Mentioned: Perfect Blue; Darren Aronofsky; Purple Rose of Cairo; Buster Keaton; all kinds of gnostic subtext Jeff forgot to even mention although he nevertheless discusses a bit of subtext to the story that Graeme thinks only Jeff sees in the story; the nature of creativity; the goofiness of Golden Age comics; and (still) more.
1:34:45-1:40:16: Convergence: Shazam #1 by Jeff Parker, Evan “Doc” Shaner, and Jordie Bellaire! A comic on which even Jeff & Graeme can agree! We love the art but are also impressed by how much Jeff Parker is able to shape the feel of a classic Captain Marvel story. It simultaneously gives him hope and dread for how DC will handle its universe once it emerges on the far side of Convergence. (Or not, depending on how sold you are on our “Stomach Fauna September” idea.)
1:40:16-1:46:02: Hey, here’s a super-quick recommendation from Graeme: Batman: Earth One Vol. 2 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank which he talks about super-briefly; the Star Wars Legacy run by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman (available on Marvel Unlimited…at least for some of us, if Graeme’s experience with the Amazon Fire is not anomalous). Good stuff.

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(Quasi-atypical image from Sun-Ken Rock. For one thing, it’s comparatively subtle.)

1:46:02-1:52:36: And from Jeff, there’s the slightly harder to recommend without reservation (okay, the term we should really go with here is “problematic”), the first 108 chapters of Sun-Ken Rock by Boichi, currently available on Crunchyroll, a series that makes Kazuo Koike seem like bell hooks by comparison. I admit, I’d still be reading it if they didn’t have a thirty chapter gap on Crunchyroll, but please, in the name of God, do not read it if you are underage or in any way impressionable. [WARNING: Jeff uses another food analogy here, but it’s actually…halfway decent?]
1:52:36-end: Closing comments, a.k.a., “next week is a Baxter Building episode? NO IT’S NOT” (seriously, it’s not). The Tote Bag Integration! Places to look for us at—Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter! Tumblr! and, of course, on Patreon where, as of this count, 104 patrons make this whole thing possible. 104! Holy smoke, patrons on Patreon, how we love you.

Okay, that’s that!  See you next week (or, just as likely, in the comments!)

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It’s been a bumper crop for “holy shit, we’re all going to die!” superhero comics, hasn’t it?  Hickman cracking the heads of his inaction figures together over on Avengers/New Avengers; the “oblivion machine” of Morrison’s Multiversity that is apparently death inside the story and the death-in-life of comic book fandom outside the story; and now Scott Snyder’s “Endgame,” hands down the most attractively illustrated college term paper of all time, which just concluded in Batman #40 this week.

(Check out the rest after the jump because, you know, spoilers and I’ll probably ineptly screenshot some images and stuff.) Continue reading

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