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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Previously on Baxter Building: The beginning of the Tom DeFalco/Paul Ryan run took Jeff and I by surprise by being… not absolutely terrible…? By far the most traditional* take on the team in quite some time, it also wasn’t afraid to shake up the status quo, which it managed by revealing that Johnny’s wife was — gasp — a stinkin’ Skrull, and then she was killed. Oh, and we had shitty Venom, too. No, not regular Venom, who is shitty; an alternate version of Venom who may have actually been shittier, somehow.

0:00:00-0:06:48: As we open — with a tease about what the post-Baxter Building world will look like — we discover that Jeff is mad at me for making him read these issues. Which, you know; fair. Somehow, we also skip ahead to talking about the second storyline we cover in the episode when we ask: Was Tom DeFalco just giving the audience what they want, and in a smarter way than it appears at first glance? (Surely I’m not the only one surprised by how much DeFalco is getting a relative pass in this episode…?)

0:06:49-0:21:40: Despite looking as if we’re about to talk about Fantastic Four #362, we get distracted and talk about one of the reasons why these issues don’t work as well as they should, especially considering our enjoyment of the first DeFalco/Ryan issues last time. The answer…? Perhaps it’s artist Paul Ryan, who gets compared to both Silver Age DC and Don Heck, but not in particularly flattering ways on either occasion. Also discussed: The importance of Joe Sinnott, and the shifting landscape of what a Fantastic Four comic “should” look like.

0:21:41-0:44:42: By the time we get to talking about FF #362, we’re ready to talk about the important stuff: How underwhelming a wooden door can be, interns going above and beyond when it comes to inserting text into a panel, the horror of the Spider-Taint, how science works in the Marvel Universe — spoilers, it involves hot dogs and a curious lack of planning — and just how DeFalco and Ryan recreate the magic of those early Fantastic Four issues by reviving the days when the writer apparently didn’t particularly care to follow what the art was clearly showing if it made one of the heroes look bad. It’s the classic formula from the House of Ideas!

Here’s Occulus in a Legion of Super-Heroes issue from 1985. Or, wait. Is it a Khund? Who can tell.

0:44:42-1:00:44: If you’ve ever thought to yourself, I wish a Marvel comic would rip off the design of the Khunds from DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes, and then apply it to a character that Jeff and Graeme would call Fucking Dull Darkseid, then, good news! Fantastic Four #363 is definitely the comic for you! But that’s not the only joy — or, perhaps, “uh, joy?” — to be found in this issue. There’s also the FF’s new vests! The complete lack of awareness that DeFalco and Ryan had accidentally created an alien world based on video games! Jeff’s somewhat disturbing suggestion that, maybe, Reed Richards deserves a dead son. (Although the fake-out of Franklin maybe being dead is really, really unconvincing.) And, best of all, the worst example of Chekhov’s Gun ever seen.

On the left, the second page of #364. On the right, the last page. Has… anything changed…?

1:00:45-1:08:44: Perhaps you can tell how disinterested both of us were in FF #364 by the fact that we get through it in just eight minutes, and most of that is spent complaining that it basically repeats the same cliffhanger as the previous issue. Sure, part of it is that I skip over the origin story of the planet — really, nobody cares, not even Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan — but, really: Eight minutes is roughly six more than this issue deserved, and most of the extra is taken up by complaining that Franklin isn’t even in peril this time around.

1:08:45-1:25:10: Even ignoring the fact that the title of Fantastic Four #365 is an outright lie (Really; if your comic is called “With Defeat Comes Death,” it’s only polite to kill someone off), it’s safe to say that the denouement of this storyline isn’t something that we’re enamored with, thanks to Reed Richards’ inability to tell his wife the plan despite having countless opportunities to, a lack of impressive fight sequences and a general air of everything being almost impressively underwhelming. Is this the new norm in terms of quality for the book going forward, or — as Jeff puts it — Paul Ryan simply not having the chops to pull off the fantasy epic that he’d likely been dreaming of since high school, while Tom DeFalco simply didn’t care enough to try hard? We also briefly compare these past four issues to what lies in wait, because we’re definitely on different sides of a divide over the quality of these two stories. (Or, more honestly, which one of two bad stories that we personally find more palatable.)

1:25:11-1:53:15: We end up handling all of Fantastic Four #s 366-370 in one messy bundle, in part because of my distaste for the five-part Infinity War crossover and in part because they’re essentially a collection of somewhat repetitive cut scenes from Jim Starlin’s comic as opposed to something that necessarily would’ve held up to an issue-by-issue synopsis. (In a surprise move, Jeff is less than impressed by Infinity War, which he read because he was inspired by these issues.) While I find the issues incomplete and, in one case, somewhat offensive, Jeff has a good couple of arguments in his favor as he talks about what works about them, whether it’s the metatext that Tom DeFalco is bringing to proceedings, or the Jungian aspect under exploration. “I’m saying, these issues… get a pass because I was interested,” Jeff argues at one point, saying at another, “It’s semi-sort-of organic.” He’s wrong on that last point, but I can’t stay mad at him when he also takes a moment to point out the wonderful sexual innuendo in dialogue that I entirely missed the first time around.

1:53:16-end: As we round towards the end of the show, Jeff brings up sales figures, I get the date of the beginning of Marvel’s sales collapse wrong, and we look ahead to what issues we’re reading next. (#371-381, for those following along at home.) If you’re looking to kill time between now and then, may I recommend our Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Patreon? As always, thank you for listening and reading along with these show notes, and feel unafraid to leave comments below.

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0:01-35:33:  Greetings!  Graeme “Remarkably Warm” McMillan and Jeff “Remarkably Convincing” Lester are here after a weeklong break to rap about comic books, and what better way to start than discussing the passing of Steve “Remarkably Important to American Comics” Ditko.  Graeme has a great handful of fun facts about Ditko you might not have known, and Jeff has some quality bloviation about the strength of Ditko’s plotting….plus a whole lot more!
35:33-1:13:54:  Pivoting from comics creators to comics, we discuss Batman #50 by Tom King, Mikel Janin, and a buttload of pinup artists.  It’s halfway through King’s hundred issue run, and the issue is, as Graeme put it, “primed for [Jeff] to dislike.”  True? Well… Once again, we are back in the arena pit of King’s Batman, with Graeme liking it much more than Jeff would honestly think possible, and Jeff disliking it not as much as Graeme seems to think.  Welcome to the Batman #50 Thunderdome! Two Podcasters walk in and….uh, two podcasters walk out.  (But thirty minutes do not!)
1:13:54-1:20:30:  Well, now that it’s been over an hour, maybe we can talk about a second comic? Well, all right, if you insist: Graeme has some choice words for Death of the Inhumans #1 by Donnie Cates and Ariel Olivetti.
1:20:30-1:29:21: And, picking up the pace, we also discuss Man of Steel #6 by Brian Michael Bendis and Jason Fabok.  So much to talk about in this issue, and yet how much do you want to bet Jeff just uses it as an opportunity to talk about how the bad guy looks like Anton Arcane from Bissette & Totelben’s Swamp Thing run?
1:29:21-1:32:19: A book that really rang both our chimes?  The Immortal Hulk #2 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett.  The second issue has a lot going for it, including a vibe that heavily reminded us of classic Michael Fleisher/Jim Aparo Spectre comics—eerie and mean.
1:32:19-1:44:13: Not quite as successful for us on the Marvel front? The first issue of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run on Captain America, with art by Leinil Francis Yu.  Was it the storytelling choices? Was it the squandering of one of the better writers about the myths of America squeezing himself into the idea of Captain America? Too on the nose? Not on the nose enough? Or was it just the whole post-Secret Empireness of it all?
1:44:13-1:55:17:  Hey, but don’t let us get you down—there’s a lot of great comics out there in the world, and thanks to Kodansha and Amazon/Comixology, we have access to the complete translated Beck by Harold Sukuishi, as well as his Seven Shakespeares series.  Beck was one of Jeff’s favorite reads back when Tokyopop reprinted it (under the title Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad, which is how Jeff refers to it here) and is delighted to revisit it again.  If you’re in the U.S. and have Comixology Unlimited or Kindle Unlimited, you’re in for a treat.  (And if not, as Graeme points out, you can try Kindle Unlimited for the first month free!
1:55:17- 2:35:01: Jeff is ambivalent about Justice League #3 by Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez, but Graeme is not, especially after rereading the first three issues.  After some more Old Man Grumpus comments from Jeff about Snyder’s recent work and his nonplussedness at issue #2 of The Unexpected by Cary Nord, Steve Orlando, and Wade von Grawbadger, Graeme tries to gently broach the topic:  maybe Jeff just doesn’t dig American superhero comics any more?  Includes a lot of talk about the comparison and contrast to manga, and what Jeff sees as manga doing better…and a long discussion of what Jeff wants his comics to be. (Plus: also some sales figure stuff there at the very end?  Because that’s who we roll.)
2:35:01-end:  Closing comments already?!  Sure, but first a very quick review from Graeme of Ant-Man And The Wasp? And then:   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:  Baxter Building!  Join us for a discussion of Fantastic Four issues #362-370.
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0:01-28:02:  Greetings!  We welcome one another—and by extension you—back from a week long break with some complaints about the heat, wifi, and NIMBYs, before moving on to talk about the Guardian’s weekly print edition and the struggle to handle the current state of affairs.  How does that tie into the kind of thing we normally talk about?  Weirdly enough, it all comes together around the 8:30 point.  If you don’t like hearing us talk about the state of the United States these days, or just don’t want to hear about that particular topic altogether, why not skip to….
28:02-49:16:  here, where we finally get to the funny book blabbity-blab?  Although we start off kind of in media disagreement, as Graeme reports a comment about the upcoming Heroes In Crisis and a comment he found, as he puts, “speaks to a particular kind of entitlement in superhero fandom.”  Discussed: Spider-Man; Uncanny X-Men; 52 (the comic series); how standards for stories change while stories stay the same; and, obviously, Heroes in Crisis.
49:16-1:07:05: Speaking of Tom King (since he’s going to be writing Heroes in Crisis), we’d been asked to discuss Batman #49 by “Fifth Beatle” Matt Terl. Discussed: Alan Moore, King and Gerard’s Mister Miracle, Dan Clowes’ Ice Haven, the challenge or writing the Joker, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and more.
1:07:05-1:30:47: Since the arc in Batman is building to a wedding, we talk about the X-Men Gold #30, a wedding issue  that came out this week, where there was a wedding…but not the one promoted. Also discussed: Tom Taylor’s X-Men Red; Taylor’s Injustice and Wolverine runs; weird analogies about being a retired reader of X-Men; Chris Claremont as the protagonist of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo; plus two issues of Spidey: School’s Out as read by Jeff.
1:30:47-2:01:20: Still talking about comics, but maybe not as much with a focus on books that have been outgrown: we discuss Man of Steel #4 by Brian Bendis and Kevin Maguire; Justice League #2 by Scott Snyder, Jorge Jimenez, and Alejandro Sanchez; Avengers #3 by Jason Aaron, Paco Medina,and Ed McGuinness; and Shanghai Red #1 by Joshua Hixson and Christopher Sebela.
2:01:20-2:21:36:  Because Graeme has superpowers, he was able to read Joe Casey and Ian MacEwan’s MCMLXXV, and it sounds pretty great.  Also discussed:  what we are behind on reading; amazing material mentioned in old Marvel Age issues that never saw the light of day; Star Wars: Let’s Smooch In The Empire; the recalcitrance of Chris Claremont; Steve Gerber’s run on Cloak & Dagger; and more.
2:21:36-2:48:24: Remember those good old days when we would tell ourselves and you that we’d gotten to the end of the podcast and there was nothing else to say…and then we’d keep talking for an absurdly long period of time after that.  WELL, THE GOOD TIMES HAVE RETURNED as we bermoan our failure to discuss recent comics news and then dig in to one piece of comics news: DC’s deal to stock 100 page giants in WalMarts.  We discuss the line-up of books, the strategy behind the books, and more.
2:48:24-end:  And finally: 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:  Another skip week, as Jeff attends to some personal business (wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it!)  But join us in a fortnight for Wait, What? Ep. 251!
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