0:01-4:00:  Greetings from Graeme “Gracious Winner” McMillan and Jeff “Suck It Up” Lester.  Are we complaining less in 2019?  It’s not just a potentially awesome American Voices topic, it’s also something we contemplate briefly before getting things underway.

Seal bitch-slaps man with octopus

4:00-47:51: “Look, I think this whole fight thing from last week was overrrated,” Gracious Winner declares.  “Mmm-hmm,” agrees Suck It Up.  And so we’re once again unified in our quest to talk comics, comics news, and comics media.  So, first up: Aquaman!  How has Jeff seen this but Graeme hasn’t?  We can’t work that out but Jeff does have some “damning with faint praise/praising with faint damnation” thoughts about the movie.  Yes, we have to admit upfront that it’s a shame that Aquaman is going to get much more mouth-time than Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (unless we turn that around next episode) but, well, Jeff has thoughts and you know what that means.  (Cut to montage of calendar pages dropping to the ground one by one).  Also discussed: superhero movies where the weakness on the page becomes a strength on film; *spoiler of post-credit sequence at 20:28* if that’s a thing you care about. Also discussed: Justice League 2, Ben Whishaw as Bruce Wayne, Wes Anderson’s Batman movie (and now that I think about it, it should be a remake of Batman Returns with Lea Seydoux as Catwoman,  Willem Dafoe as Max Schreck (for double bonus in-joke points!) and Jason Schwartzbaum as the Penguin running amok in Gotham as The Kinks’ Father Christmas plays.  Come on!); Riverdale; Legends of Tomorrow; Titans; Trolls; and more.

47:51-58:54: Hey!! Kids Comics!  We talk about Aquaman #43 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Robson Rocha and Daniel Henriques; Wonder Woman issues #58-61 by G. Willow Wilson, Cary Nord, Mick Gray, and Xermanico; Superman #7 by Brian Michael Bendis, Brandon Peterson, and Ivan Reis.
58:54-1:16:40: (Had to start a few seconds earlier so I could get Graeme’s “Oh!” included in this.  Speaking of DC Comics, there was a bit of news the other week about DC joining Comixology Unlimited (as well as bringing titles to Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading).  We discuss that news which includes the 15% discount on digital titles; what’s available there as opposed to the DC Universe app; DC’s different approaches to its different readerships; the first volume of Immortal Hulk being on CU; Jeff’s pie-in-the-sky dreams for having these services as the openers of the way to readers and fans, and more.
1:16:40-1:18:42: Also in comics news: the passing of Ron Smith (Judge Dredd, 2000 AD) and Batton Lash
(Wolff & Byrdd Counselors of the Macabre, and Archie Meets The Punisher).
1:18:42-1:33:13: Since we were talking about 2000 AD, Jeff really wanted to talk about The Green Lantern #3 by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp, which is simultaneously a love letter to 2000 AD, DC Silver Age comic book covers, and, uh, more? Less? We’re still not quite sure, but it may have some big ramifications for Hal Jordan…or not.
1:33:13-1:49:55:  We talk a bit about the most recent issues of Batman by Tom King, Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes, Travis Moore, Mitch Gerads, and others, as well as Batman Annual #3 by Tom Taylor and Otto Schmidt. Also discusssed: Heroes in Crisis; ambition, politics, and Watchmen references; and more.
1:49:55-2:00:40: When is a comic we like not a comic that we like? Sadly, when it’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 by Tom Taylor, Juann Cabal, and Marcelo Ferreira. We pull apart what doesn’t work for us in a book we really wanted to work.
2:00:40-2:04:18:  We point out (mentioned above in the notes but not actually in the podcast) that the first trade of Immortal Hulk is on Comixology Unlimited.  We then go on to rave very briefly about the most recent issue, Immortal Hulk #11 by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, and Ruy José.
2:04:18-2:19:04:  And from there, Graeme goes on to talk a bit about what he’s been reading, including:  trades of Action Comics: Rebirth by Dan Jurgens, Patch Zircher, and Tyler Kirkham; Young Justice #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Patrick Gleason; Captain Marvel #1 by Kelly Thompson and Carmen Carnero; Uncanny X-Men by Ed Brisson, Matt Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson and Yildiray Cidar; the Shortbox releases of 2017; the Hilda graphic novels by Luke Pearson; the Asterix graphic novels by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo; and a brief discussion about what constitutes new on Hoopla.
2:19:04-2:45:00: Jeff’s turn! He’s read and wants to talk super-briefly about Die Wergelder Vol. 2 by Hiroaki Samura; Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura; Conan The Barbarian #1 by Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar; Criminal #1 by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Jacob Phillip; Outer Darkness #3 by John Layman and Afu Chan; Gunning for Hits (Music Thriller) #1 by Jeff Rougvie and Moritat; Keeping His Whims In Check by PI; I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation by Natalie Nourigat; Go-Bots #2 by Thomas Scioli; and Man-Eaters #3 and 4 by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, and Lia Miternique; and from there we talk about Chelsea Cain’s very problematic tweet from the other week.
2:45:00- 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:  Another episode of Wait, What?  Yes, somehow!
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0:01-06:18:  Greetings from the very first “Wait, What?” podcast of the year! Graeme “Blade Runner Year” McMillan and Jeff “The New Barbarians Year” Lester.  We start off by talking about the list compiled of movies set in the year 2019.  (Probably not this list, but maybe?)  We also talk about other fictional epochs we’ve lived through, pranking the generations to come, and more.
06:18-30:46: How does this lead into our discussion of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century?  The answer may surprise you! (Unless you’ve listened to us before, I guess.)  But from there on out, it’s the Wait, What? version of Festivus with the airing of the Alan Moore-related grievances. Discussed: Alan Moore and sex; Elizabeth Sandifer’s The Last War in Albion; whether Moore is an Eighties artist or a Seventies artist; a Springsteen analogy that lamentably never comes together; Alan Moore and Star Wars; Who would win in a fight: passive vs. aggressive?; and more.
30:46-1:10:02: We move from there to Shelfdust’s Top 100 Comic Book Issues of All Time, in part as a way to discuss the generation gap as reflected through comics and in part to realize where we fit in the gap and also in part to throw some stink-eye at some of the choices. Also discussed: George Romero; Ernest Hemingway; Chuck Klosterman; the Top Ten of the Shelfdust list; The Top Twenty of the Shelfdust list; being recognized today vs. being recognized “back in the day;” the amount of Azzarello, Ellis, and Ennis on the list; and more.
1:10:02-1:25:21 (or thereabouts): In a sudden surge of anecdotalism, Jeff thinks there’s a sudden uptick in Harry Potter hot takes. And we’re not just talking about the toilet facts recently disclosed about the Potterverse.  Also discussed: big books; Neil Gaiman; what it will be like when Jeff has a stroke; and more.
[omac]
1:25:21 (or thereabouts)-1:29:38: Back to more Shelfdust talk! Graeme contributed to the list—what book that he picked ranked the highest on the Top 100. And speaking of which Graeme’s list (in *ascending* order):
  1. New Guardians #1
  2. Invisibles #12
  3. Uncanny X-Men #185
  4. Or Else #2
  5. Deadline #5
  6. Mister Miracle #10 (King/Gerads version)
  7. Flex Mentallo #4
  8. OMAC #1
  9. Dork #7
  10. Graffiti Kitchen
1:29:38-2:35:37: Ah, and then, just like the warmth of Spring, the pleasantries of the Shelfdust discussion fade, as we move on to discuss Abhay’s controversial post about Tom King’s employment by the CIA, comic industry vetting, and what and what the industry wants if it wants an ex-member of the CIA writing Batman.  Part of why this post was controversial is in how its reception goes hand in hand with what some of us think about Abhay, what some of us think about his motivations in his post, and what some of us think about what some of us think.  In short: LET’S WATCH GRAEME AND JEFF FIGHT.
2:35:37-2:48:27: (Yes, we really do talk about it *that* long.)  Anyway, we’re aware we’re running horrifyingly long, but neither of us would forgive ourselves if we didn’t try to at least briefly sing the praises of Spider-Man:  Into The Spider-Verse (and talk a bit about how baffling it is that it’s not bigger despite the amount of raving done about it).  Also discussed: Aquaman has made a huge chunk of money and is incredibly financially successful—so why don’t we know anyone who sees it?
2:48:27-end: Closing comments!  We had to make ‘em!  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:  Wait, What? Ep. 262! Probably much shorter and with less fighting!  Join us!
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Previously on Baxter Building: It’s all been leading to this — literally; we’re at the final episode of the series, and have made it through 405 issues (and 27 annuals, and 4 Giant-Size special issues) to get here. All you really need to know, though, is that the current incarnation of the team is an untraditional one, because the Human Torch is off running Fantastic Force and Reed Richards is dead. (Spoilers: As you’ll see momentarily, he’s not.) So, right now, the team is Sue Richards, Ben Grimm, Kristoff the kid adopted and brainwashed by Doctor Doom, and Namor the Sub-Mariner. No, really.

0:00:00-0:08:16: We introduce this episode, in which we cover Fantastic Four #s 406-416, with a shocking reveal: We liked these issues far more than we expected. I think I probably liked them more than Jeff, but considering how much both of us have grown to dislike earlier DeFalco/Ryan issues, this is nonetheless cause for celebration and then some. Or should we be concerned about the problem of Stockholm syndrome?

0:08:17-0:30:17: “There’s a wonderfully, like, strange self-conscious or self-aware energy” about Fantastic Four #406, which helps wins us over immediately; Doctor Doom returns, the book gains a pep in its step — and a sense of humor — that it’s been missing for a long time, we discuss what may (or may not) be Paul Ryan’s best character design in the entire series, and Jeff shares a very sound theory about Tom DeFalco’s approach to character development that includes a get-out clause if people don’t happen to enjoy the change. (Also, catch Jeff’s burp that I forgot to edit out. Oops.)

0:30:18-0:57:02: Barbarians are a letdown in FF #407, but there’s a lot to enjoy in this issue nonetheless, not least of which is the series’ new-found brevity and some subtle character work that may or may not actually exist and perhaps we were just reading far too much into it. More importantly, though, Reed Richards returns, in what is probably the least shocking plot development this series has ever seen; this has been coming for, what, two years plus at this point…? Even more importantly than that, in our final Baxter Building, Jeff finally decodes what Fantastic Four actually is as a series. Or, as I complain in the episode, “it takes us fifty months to realize that FF is a romance book.”

0:57:03-1:11:47: The fact that Fantastic Four #408 features the first full teaming of the original Fantastic Four in… two years or so… comes as a surprise to both of us, and part of that is the surprise that they’d let the team be apart for that long. Meanwhile, Reed continues to be traumatized — but there’s a surprisingly good moment when he snaps when you least expect it. Oh, and we get an explanation for the powers of the new big bad, and Jeff snaps back into Tom DeFalco’s Science Isn’t As Bad As It Sounds mode. Are we… are we actually genuinely digging these issues…?

1:11:48-1:25:18: …Okay, perhaps not. The fourth and the final part of the storyline that brings Reed and Doom back pretty much falls apart thanks to an end that makes absolutely no sense, but that’s not to say that there’s no fun to be found in FF #409, especially when it comes to how wonderfully complicated Reed’s return is because he doesn’t fit in with things anymore. Do we just love dysfunction? Perhaps, but I feel that’s not a bad thing when it comes to this series. Oh, and there’s a brief Kristoff/Cassie scene, which will always recharge the batteries of one Mr. Jeff Lester, especially when he describes one character as looking like “a fetus with pants.”

1:25:19-1:33:31: If we’ve decided that we can’t get enough soap opera, then good news: Fantastic Four #410 forgets that it’s a superhero comic altogether and just gets with the soap operatics. There’s a love triangle between Ben, Lyja and Johnny! Kristoff can’t play soccer! And we uncover the previously unknown link between 1980s pop sensations the New Kids on the Block and the Fantastic Four! (Sad but true: I honestly thought the New Kids were a ‘90s band and then I looked them up and now I feel old. Thanks, Tom DeFalco.)

1:33:32-1:37:46: After a run of fun to genuinely great issues — albeit in reverse — FF #411 proves that DeFalco, Ryan and Marvel are true believers in the idea that you can have too much of a good thing, which is the only possible explanation for this stinker about Black Bolt going insane because his forehead antenna was damaged. Oh, I only wish I was joking. “What the hell is happening here? I don’t understand,” I say, and I think that’s entirely appropriate.

1:37:47-1:44:50: I have to say that there is a very good case to be made for [Fantastic Four] #412 being a mistake,” Jeff says, and he’s entirely right. Or perhaps you’re someone who thinks that it’s time for a showdown between Reed and Namor over who objectifies Sue more that ends up being a feint on the part of Namor because it’s the only way to un-traumatize Reed. If you are that person, please no. Jeff, at least, has a reason for this being a disaster beyond the toxic masculinity of it all, and it’s because it undercuts a story two issues from now. So, you know; all told, it’s a mess.

1:44:51-1:55:00: But… is it as much of a mess as FF #413 is? That’s a good question, because at least the previous issue didn’t have to deal with an inexplicable, narratively pointless guest shot by Doom 2099, which happens because… it’s a crossover with that book? Maybe? This issue does provide the chance for Jeff to resurrect his theory of the Negative Zone as a metaphor for the Shadow Self, even if — as has become traditional by this point — I am unconvinced that the Silver Surfer is anyone’s shadow self. Nevertheless, I’m genuinely glad we got to go back there in our final episode…!

1:55:01-2:07:56: It’s clear, from quite how packed Fantastic Four #414 is, that Tom DeFalco knew that cancellation was around the corner, which would explain this busy final chapter to the Uber-story he’s been telling, on and off, for the past 40 issues or so. Who is Hyperstorm, the new bad guy behind everything? What role did Nathan play in everything? What the hell is Reed’s plan supposed to be, anyway? We ask the questions that matter, and only get slightly perturbed that some of the answers make no sense at all.

2:07:57-2:30:23: There’s no way to get around it; FF #415 and #416 are terrible ways to say goodbye to Marvel’s onetime flagship book. Gone is Paul Ryan, as well as any notion that this is actually a Fantastic Four series, because these are Onslaught crossover issues, and that means we’re reading comics that are literally designed to be middle chapters in a story about the X-Men and maybe the Avengers, at a stretch; the FF don’t get much of a look in, despite a game — if, as Jeff points out, potentially sneakily surly — Tom DeFalco, and a final issue that has both cameos from dream versions of the FF’s rogues gallery and a back-up story that is… well, just very strange and unnecessary altogether. As ways to go out, they’re shockingly underwhelming.

2:30:24-end: As we approach the end, we pivot to what we’ll take from the DeFalco/Ryan run, and then the Fantastic Four comic as a whole. Who was our favorite member? Our favorite writer? And will we miss the comic now that it’s done? (Clearly not enough to do the other volumes, at least, not immediately; we have a different plan, which we pointedly don’t tease nearly enough, in retrospect.) As we close up shop on the Baxter Building, it’s time to thank you all for paying attention, listening and reading along with us. As always, there’s a Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter and Patreon, but the real message for all of us is this: How the hell did both Jeff and I wish there was a Lyja and Kristoff spin-off book at the end of all of this?!? Happy holidays, all. We’ll be back in 2019 with more Wait, What?s and… something else.

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0:01-32:16:  Greetings from the very last “Wait, What?” podcast of the year! Graeme “The Best of” McMillan and Jeff “The Rest of” Lester. As the nicknames suggest, we immediately jump into discussing the idea of the Best of 2018 list: Graeme has an in-process list, Jeff doesn’t, and it’s been a damn odd year for it for some reason. We discuss why, and also what Graeme currently has on his list.  Discussed: Martian Manhunter #1, Bitter Root #1, Goddess Mode #1, the joys of serialization, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds, whether or not Marvel should do a Daredevil: Season 4 comic; what happened to the Netflix-Marvel deal; spoilers for the finale of s2 of Iron Fist at 20:29 to 20:44); the sales of Marvel’s digital first comics; Marvel’s recent selection of back titles on Marvel Unlimited; Agents of SHIELD makes it to a seventh season, somehow; what the fuck happened with The Inhumans, including The Death of the Inhumans; and more.
32:16-44:44: Section break just in case you need to get your bearings, and also because we linger on this topic for a bit:  there’s been “a report” that a screenwriter is working on adapting Master of Kung-Fu.  Is Jeff excited? Nonplussed?  Halfplussed? We talk it all out.

44:44-56:24: The discussion of MOKF causes Jeff to ask in turn for for Graeme’s feeling about the Bright Burn trailer.  “What’s the Bright Burn trailer?” Graeme asks, so Jeff makes him watch it during the podcast so we can talk about it [Graeme’s real-time reactions edited for length].  Discussed: Bright Burn (which Jeff keeps calling “Bright Born” and still maintains is a better title than Bright Burn).

56:24-1:15:34: Jeff had mentioned earlier there were some news stories he thought we’d be discussing this episode.  What stories were those, Graeme wonders? There was a big announcement of what Shonen Jump is doing starting December 17.  Also discussed: an amazing story from Graeme about Doomsday Clock #8, but the bulk of it is us talking about the Shonen Jump deal, what the expectations are, and who is the deal for, and some other consideration that won’t end in a preposition and make me uncomfortable.
1:15:34-1:33:06: We expand the discussion about the new Shonen Jump to have a larger discussion about other comix streaming services currently available in the U.S.  Who’s the audience for Marvel Unlimited?  Who’s the audience for Comxology Unlimited? What’s the real DC Unlimited service?  And how much does Jeff actually use the streaming services he subscribes to?  That last question is a potentially very embarrassing can of worms for Jeff, but on the upside it does allow him to talk about the first volume of Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura, which really is as good as everybody says, and which Kodansha is offering the whole first volume of on Comixology Unlimited.  Also discussed: the Hit Reblog anthology on Comixology Unlimited; what comics are on the DC Universe app; and more.
1:33:06-1:49:49: Comics that we are reading!  This is a thing we occasionally talk about on our comics podcast!  And in case you were wondering, this is where Graeme finally gets a chance to break out that incomplete list of the year’s best books, so it’s worth paying attention to this part, probably?  Discussed and/or listed:  Brazen by Penelope Bagieu; Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal; Berlin by Jason Lutes; Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads; The Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett and others; My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris; Sabrina by Nick Drnaso (which features a longer discussion between Jeff and Graeme); Judge Dredd: The Small House, by Rob Williams and Henry Flint and just wrapped in 2000 AD; Prism Stalker by Sloane Leong; and (honorable mention) Justice League by Scott Snyder, Jorge Jimenez, and others.
1:49:49-1:54:5o: The mention of Justice League and how, while not being the best book of the year may well be the most improved, leads Graeme to talk about the new Uncanny X-Men series which Graeme describes as “astonishingly bad.”  And also, because I’m too lazy to make this a separate entry, Graeme also discusses the first issue of Shazam! by Geoff Johns, Dale Eaglesham, and Mayo “SEN” Naito.
1:54:5o-2:03:48: And then Jeff just talks about stuff he’s been reading, most of which is far from the best (and some of which, like volumes 21-27 of S&M by Mio Murao is just inexcusable). Discussed: Vinland Saga again; Die #1 by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans; and others I think I’m too tired to link to, although some of them deserve it.
2:03:48-2:35:44:  Are we through yet? No, not yet!  A listener sent us the first seven issues of Plus Ultra by Jon Hughes and Matthew Weldon, and so we dig into this comic series about a superheroine dealing with supervillians and self-identity even as her creators deal with telling superhero stories, engaging in worldbuilding, and injecting ideas about self-identity into a comic book story with only so many panels, so many captions, so many scenes in any given issue.
2:35:44-2:41:49: Closing comments? Nope, psych!  We end up talking a bit about Dan Slott’s Fantastic Four and recording plans for our final episode of Baxter Building!
2:41:49-end: Closing comments–for real this time! 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 Episode 50! The conclusion of Volume 1 of The Fantastic Four.  Join us!
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Previously on Baxter Building: As Jeff and I prepare to finish up the series — the next episode of Baxter Building may be the final one! — we double back in time to take care of the last few Fantastic Four Annuals of the run. Spoilers: These are not comics that people would choose to read otherwise.

0:00:00-0:02:26: We start the episode with Jeff understandably giving me into trouble for getting the issues for this episode wrong when we set up reading plans last episode; I said we’d be doing Annual #s 24 through 27, even though we’d actually covered that one before, back in May. (How time flies…?) As it happens, our shared dislike for the issue actually acts as a great segue into talking about…

0:02:27-0:11:46:Fantastic Five #1-5. That’s right, you thought we were going to talk about FF Annual #25 straight away? Of course not. Jeff caught up with the 1999 mini-series by Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan after I brought it up on the Wait, What? Tumblr, and much to his surprise, liked it a lot. He (properly) compares the art to Jerry Ordway’s, and we talk about the difference in soap operatic writing when it’s rooted in joy or misery. Who would’ve thought that a follow-up series to a bunch of storylines we didn’t like by a creative team we didn’t like would’ve resulted in something that we did, in fact, like?

 

0:11:47-0:37:15: Meanwhile, in Fantastic Four Annual #25, we get immediately derailed by a discussion around whether or not Herb Trimpe’s 1990s art style was a parody or simply a very unsuccessful attempt to swipe the Hot Image Style of the season. Also, the Avengers come up with a new slogan that neither Jeff nor I are convinced by, a brief synopsis of the Avengers Annual that ties in with this issue helps us realize that Kang is into some freaky stuff — even if I don’t remember one of the details that Jeff brings up — and whether or not Mark Gruenwald’s reputation is hurt by this comic. (Yes.)

0:37:16-0:57:03: FF Annual #26 brings back one of the more memorable villains created by DeFalco and Ryan — which is to say, Jeff forgot him — and pits him against one of the more interesting, yet entirely forgotten, characters that Tom DeFalco created in connection with the Fantastic Four. Well, I say “pit against,” but one of the many complaints we have about this issue is that it manages to make all three of the protagonists bystanders in a struggle between Dreadface and a random gangster introduced and (spoilers) killed in this issue. But that’s not the only thing wrong here, because Herb Trimpe is doing the art once again. On the plus side, Jeff does dig the back-up feature, because he’s a sucker for Marvel Cosmic Concepts, so it’s not a total loss. And talking about that back-up leads us straight into…

0:57:04-1:16:58:Fantastic Four Annual #27, which sees Mark Gruenwald return to write an extended — really, over-extended — in-joke about his fictional counterpart feeling dissatisfied with his job at Marvel, no, wait, I mean the Time Variance Authority. It’s staggeringly self-reflective, yet somehow not self-aware, but you’ll be surprised how long a boring comic in which the Fantastic Four are, once again, just bystanders despite their names being on the cover actually can be. Far more successful is the back-up strip, which wins points by being far too ambitious in its own right, and also bringing back the Beyonder when everyone least expected it. (But really, did anyone expect to see the Beyonder again?)

1:16:59-end: These three annuals are so bad that I raise the idea that, maybe, Fantastic Four Annuals are just bad in general, which prompts us to go back and consider when they were last good, and wonder what happened since that point. We also talk about the potential for Baxter Building to finish with episode 50, because we’re going to try to cover #406 through 416 — the end of the series — next episode. And then, we remind everyone to check out the Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Patreon accounts while you wait for the next Wait, What?; as ever, thanks for listening and reading. We’re sorry for all the Herb Trimpe.

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0:01-6:15:  Greetings! After a very long time, Jeff “Black Friday!” Lester and Graeme “Small Business Saturday!” McMillan are back with their non-Fantastic-Four-focused comics podcast that starts off  being *especially* unfocused. Within the first few minutes, we’re debating what constitutes a device, what kind of liquor you’d find in a Molokov Cocktail, and more exciting not-comics-at-all-we-admit-it topics.
6:15-26:09: But “fortunately” we have The Suicide Bomber Sits In The Library, a book by Jack Gantos and Dave McKean to discuss.  Also mentioned:  G. Willow Wilson’s thread on the same on Twitter; the dissolution of Telltale Games; what publishers can and can’t get away with; and more.
26:09-45:13: Speaking of what publishers can and can’t do, we look a bit at Marvel’s 2018, with an eye toward the strength of the books they’re publishing, which leads us to discuss The Immortal Hulk #9 by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Martin Simmonds, Ruy José, and others; Mister Miracle #12 by Tom King and Mitch Gerads;  Heroes in Crisis #3 by Tom King, Lee Weeks, and Clay Mann; and more.
45:13-1:03:07: Graeme mentions he’s seen Bohemian Rhapsody to make a larger point about how your experience of a work can be influenced by its reception but Jeff totally goes crazy with the interrupting because OH MY GOD he just saw Bohemian Rhapsody as well, and how can such a terrible movie be so damn enjoyable?  Of course, we’re going to talk about that!  Also discussed: Huey Lewis and The News; and more.
1:03:07-1:18:00: Comic books!  Quickly discussed:  The Green Lantern #1 by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp; Avengers #700 by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness; Superman #4 and #5 by Brian Bendis and Ivan Reis; and why Jeff gave up on Justice League.
1:18:00-1:36:10: Jeff wanted to Graeme to talk about Electric Warriors #1 by Steve Orlando, Travel Foreman and Hi-Fi.  Also discussed: creators that don’t work for us and why;  the last page of Electric Warriors #1 (which Jeff accidentally spoils at 1:32:27, so be warned).

1:36:10-1:45:58:  Jeff mentioned seeing three movies in one day (one of which being Bohemian Rhapsody).  What are the other two? Discussed:  the second movie Jeff saw, plus Tom Scioli’s Go-Bots #1.
1:45:58-1:52:14: And rather than talk about the last movie he saw that day and have to work hard to slip another comic book review into it, Jeff just decides to openly talk about how much he enjoyed Outer Darkness #1 by John Layman and Afu Chan.
1:52:11=4-2:13:11: And what’s the third movie Jeff saw?  The answer will surprise you! (Maybe? I mean…it’s not impossible, right?) Also discussed: pre-show “entertainment,” movie theaters we go to (or not) and why, a lot of other stuff very un-comic booky…
2:13:11-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:  Baxter Building! Read Fantastic Four Annuals #24-27 and join us!
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Previously on Baxter Building: Was there ever life before Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan’s Fantastic Four run? By this point, it’s genuinely hard to remember what this comic used to be like, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t involve Reed Richards being dead and his place in the team kind of being taken by Scott Lang, Ant-Man. Or… did it…?

0:00:00-0:12:24: We open with an exceptionally brief cold open — because we’d just recorded the minicast about Stan Lee — before getting into a discussion about whether or not the following comics, which are very, very bad, are better if you fall into a Stockholm Syndrome-esque feeling of apathy about the whole thing. (Spoilers: Jeff is wrong. These are bad comics.)

0:12:25-0:31:31: Fantastic Four #397 opens a four-part storyline that asks the important questions like, “Does anyone actually care about the Watchers?” and “Has their stolen Skrull spaceship always been called the Stealth Hawk?” Along the way, Jeff and I also discuss Lyja’s poor self-esteem, cheap travel tricks for shape changers and whether or not Nathaniel Richards is everyone’s Daddy, not to mention the one thing you really shouldn’t do with deadly technology.

0:31:32-0:46:21: You didn’t know that you’d tuned into this podcast for Jeff’s impression of Tom DeFalco as Beat Poet, but with FF #398, you’ll soon understand. But don’t lose interest after that, because there is an especially lame reveal about Flaming Sue, the start of Jeff’s love affair with Kristoff, and the debut appearance of some Inhumans you’ll almost certainly immediately forget about, as well.

0:46:22-1:05:54: If nothing else, Fantastic Four #399 proves that, when it comes to this series, all roads lead back to the same asteroid floating around the Negative Zone, as well as the fact that, try as it might, this series can’t rid itself of Reed Richards, even if its evil versions called the Dark Raider. Also, there’s more of Margoyle, which is worth the price of entry all by itself. (As well as another reason to adore Kristoff, who has already had it with Scott Lang, just three issues in.)

1:05:55-1:09:05: We take a brief interlude as I summarize what little everyone needs to know about Fantastic Force #7, which crosses over with the current FF storyline and reveals why Sue isn’t dead, while also exposing how stupid the Fantastic Four apparently is.

1:09:06-1:26:24: It’s Fantastic Four #400, the final anniversary issue of the entire run, and one spent with a story that is exhausting in its ridiculousness. It’s the Watchers versus the Celestials, except it’s not; it’s the Fantastic Four and Fantastic Force versus… Aron the Watcher, I guess? And the innards of a Celestial, even though it really shouldn’t be like that? But at least there are random guest appearances, an essay about the history of the series that suggests that no-one actually wanted the job of writing it, and a memorial for Reed Richards. Is this… progress…?

1:26:25-1:27:54: Another aside, as I introduce Jeff to the plot complexities of Fantastic Four: Atlantis Rising #1, the first issue in the crossover that’s going to swallow the book whole for a couple of months. Come for the destruction of the Watcher’s house, stay for… I don’t know, actually. Maybe we should all leave.

1:27:55-1:35:27: Atlantis continues to rise in FF #401, in which Maximus seems to think there’s something more special about the Human Torch than Jeff and I do, and we discuss Nathaniel Richards’ novel approach to theft, especially the theft of tiny little miniaturized cities. Thor’s appalling costume is commented upon as well, and not for the last time.

1:35:28-1:37:02: Fantastic Force #9 continues the storyline, and I once again tell Jeff all he needs to know, as he was smart enough not to track down an issue to read it. (In my defense, at least I didn’t read the Warlock and the Infinity Watch issues that tied in; I’m not that much of a completist.)

1:37:03-1:46:28: What is the most enjoyable thing about Fantastic Four #402? It just might be the fact that Namor really doesn’t take directions to just calm it down a little very well, unless somehow leaping through windows and having fights that aren’t quite as dramatic as Tom DeFalco wishes you thought they were is his version of calming things down. Which is… not impossible, really. Also! Sue Storm without Malice is being written just like she’s still possessed, and the Fantastic Four has the perfect solution for getting rid of the Norse God on the roof of your space ship.

1:46:29-1:47:45: I could exaggerate and pretend that I recapped Fantastic Four: Atlantis Rising #2 to close out the crossover, but I’ll level with you; I mostly just complained about how bad it was. Sorry, all.

1:47:46-1:59:27: Hey, who remembers that whole thing about an archaeologist finding a statue of the Thing from 20 issues or so ago? Tom DeFalco, who tries to bring that storyline to a close for reasons that defy explanation in Fantastic Four #403. But who cares about that when Kristoff and Johnny Storm are flirting with Scott Lang’s daughter, who is of an entirely indeterminate age because Paul Ryan can’t draw anyone between the ages of, say, 5 and 35? Not Jeff and I!

1:59:28-2:03:41: FF #404 sees the Thing take on lots of other Things, and Sue Storm as a Thing take on both Namor and her feelings, because… oh, who even knows at this point. Meanwhile, Boris, Kristoff’s faithful manservant proves that he can’t do something as simple as say, “Eh, I haven’t seen your kid,” and all hell breaks loose, because why not? That’s just the kind of comic we’re reading by this point.

2:03:42-2:13:36: An exhausted Jeff and I finally arrive at Fantastic Four #405, in which Ben Grimm turns human — again!— and Boris reveals his true colors, if “true colors” actually means, “Tom DeFalco changed his mind at the last minute and even though everyone can tell it’s supposed to be Doctor Doom, it’s not.” Don’t think that I’m not upset about that, either…

2:13:37-end: We careen towards the end of the episode by talking about last-minute rewrites, the sense of exhaustion apparent in everyone by this point, and look forward to what we’re doing next episode, which is… Fantastic Four Annuals #24-27. The end is in sight, dear friends…! But don’t forget our Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter in the meantime, not to mention our Patreon. As always, thank you for listening and reading along, and I promise, our DeFalco/Ryan nightmare is almost over.

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As you know, Stan Lee passed this week, and it seemed impossible for us to overlook the event, since Stan had such a huge influence on the American comics market.

Stan was a complicated guy with a complicated legacy so maybe it’s not surprising our feelings about his passing—and how people handled his passing—are similarly complicated.  So join us if you want for a quick chat about the long life and amazing career of Stan Lee.   It’s only about 37 minutes or so?

Oh, and because we mentioned it in our discussion, I should at the very least link to Tegan O’Neil’s piece on Stan over at The Comics Journal. There are, as you probably know, a lot of pieces about Stan out there this week, but if you enjoy our mumblings, you’ll probably appreciate it as well.

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[Not actually the bear bathing image Jeff talks about in the episode,  but let’s roll with it]

0:01-15:53:  Greetings! After a very long time, Jeff “Japan!” Lester and Graeme “NYCC!” McMillan have returned after a hiatus!  And we’re starting off with a relatively detailed story about…kidney stones?! Wait, what?  (Plus: a patreon giveaway like no other?)

15:53-28:13: But, as mentioned in the shout quotes above, Jeff has also been to Japan, and Graeme has also been to NYCC, so we turn the topic to the strangeness that was this year’s New York Comic-Con, which Graeme attended, and why, if nothing else, he thinks that show may have replaced San Diego Comic-Con as the year’s TV and movie convention.
28:13-1:06:23: We start to catch up on news that’s happened in our absence, but Graeme really boils it down to one topic of discussion: the firing of Chuck Wendig from Marvel because of his social media presence.  It’s the opening for a larger talk about the industry’s history with creators and with unionization, with Graeme using as a springboard for discussion the excellent American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1990s by Keith Dallas and Jason Sacks.
1:06:23-1:07:56: The other thing Graeme has been reading is Poisoned Chalice by Pádraig Ó Méalóid, the history of Miracleman / Marvelman and who owns the copyright to the character.  He takes a few minutes to recommend the book, and the we’re off to…

1:07:56-2:09:41: Japan!  Or to be more precise, Jeff’s impressions and recollections, about the country and his recent nineteen day visit there.  He mentions time spent with pals of the podcast Miguel and Cormac, Japan’s tremendous visual culture, conbinis (and more specifically the amazing onigiri), and, perhaps above all, Golgo 13 and manga.  (A lot of my info about Saito and his publishing company is badly paraphrased from Jason Thompson’s excellent entry on Golgo 13 over at House of 1000 Manga).
Also discussed: liking oneself more in Japan; Shibuya Crossing; the suicide rate in Japan; the awesomeness that is Mandarake; the language barrier; the story of our soft no, and much, much, much more.

Me at Mandarake (Shibuya).

2:09:41-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:  Baxter Building! Read issues #397-405 of volume 1 of Fantastic Four by Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan and join us!
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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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