Hey, everyone. Thanks to last week’s quest to read every issue of Hickman’s Avengers, New Avengers, and Infinity on Marvel Unlimited, my bench of comics is not especially deep. As much as I enjoy the opportunities for binge-reading now afforded me by all-you-can-read services like Crunchyroll and Marvel Unlimited, it can trip up my ability to both talk about stuff on the podcast and write about stuff here.
Here’s the good news about the first week of DC’s Convergence: it’s nowhere near as terrible as the #0 issue. Here’s the bad news: For an event that’s so squarely aimed at continuity junkies, its own internal continuity is impressively shoddy. How can you learn to love Convergence? Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream — or just click through the jump (and scroll down for the latest Baxter Building, if you haven’t already seen it.) Continue reading →
Previously on Baxter Building: Sure, the Marvel Universe as we know it has been created, and Stan Lee and Jack Kirby have done some wonderful things together. But this time around? This is when things get really good, trust us.
0:00:00-0:03:56: In which Jeff describes the task ahead of us this episode — namely, getting from Fantastic Four #36 to #48 in the time allotted (and not continuing on to #50, considering that FF #48 is both the end of the Inhumans story and the beginning of the Galactus story) — as “literally impossible,” which is, let’s be honest, a challenge. Spoilers: It’s one that we manage to accomplish, also sneaking in Fantastic Four Annual #2 and 3 in there as well, despite an unusual recording schedule thanks to my day job. 0:03:57-0:25:41: And we’re off, with our delayed conversation about Fantastic Four Annual #2, which has sadly suffered from being paired with this batch of issues as opposed to those we talked about last time. We start with the origin of Doctor Doom, which lets us talk about Jack Kirby’s interest in non-urban spaces, Young Victor Von Doom’s fashion sense, and whether or not Doctor Doom was really into magic or just a very big Arthur C. Clarke fan. Also, is Doctor Doom a really, really bad Batman?
0:25:42-0:31:36: The second of the new stories in the annual isn’t quite as great as “The Fantastic Origin of Doctor Doom!” but what could be? Nevertheless, “The Final Victory of Doctor Doom!” has its own charms, despite being what Jeff calls “a little bit of a mess” (Maybe we should chalk that up to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby being somewhat hyperbolic and out of synch again, though.) There’s some really great stuff here, including Doctor Doom’s vanity and why recycling would have made all the difference for the world of Victor Von D. (We get distracted by events, and sadly didn’t get a chance to properly talk about the Fantastic Four getting roofied as plot device, which… I mean, wow.) 0:31:37-0:33:30: A slight interlude. A patented Baxter Building No-Prize (which is to say, no, really, no prize) to whoever can name the music in the background. 0:33:30-0:35:45: A little bit of meta-commentary about music (Contrary to what Jeff suggests and what I got so excited about, I obviously didn’t use “The Girl From Ipanema,” mostly because I couldn’t find an instrumental version I loved). Turns out, I misremembered the Captain Scarlet theme, which actually sounds like this:
It’s actually far more wonderful in this version, I have to say. Oh, and we’re both serious about wanting cover versions of our theme music, all you musicians out there.
0:35:46-0:47:36:Fantastic Four #36, also held over from last episode, feels very much like the first part of the next era of FF in terms of plot, if not aesthetic, thanks to the debut of (Madam) Medusa and a focus on the upcoming nuptials of Reed and Sue. Is this, as Jeff suggests, the most Stan Lee era of the Lee/Kirby FF? Perhaps, which might explain the fact that it’s also the first time that villains from another series altogether turn out to be central protagonists to the series. Curse you, ever-growing Marvel Universe (but hello, Wingless Wizard, Sandman and Paste-Pot Pete)! Also discussed: Our mutual love for the Sandman and the potentially-unintended subtext to the Frightful Four, including why they’re not the Super Apes. 0:47:37-0:50:12: Is Jack Kirby leveling up with every issue by this point? You bet your ass he is, and we talk about that for a bit. (We’ll come back to it later, when the book switches inkers, don’t worry.)
0:50:13-1:00:00: “Behold A Distant Star” in FF #37 sees the FF invade another galaxy because… Sue’s had significantly delayed grief about the death of her father issues earlier, apparently. Or maybe it’s Jack Kirby’s fault, as we’ll suggest (Jeff introduces the concept of “active continuity” here, which we might return to in future). Also, the Skrull menace is finally dealt with, and we never ever hear from them again, right…? All this and Stan Lee and Jack Kirby explain how space travel works, and I suggest that perhaps the series was happening too quickly for its long-term good at this point. The lack of long-term planning on the book is also discussed in passing, especially when it comes to Jack Kirby’s plotting and Stan Lee’s inability to parse out what is about to happen, and we talk about whether or not this was originally intended to be a Skrull story at all. 1:00:01-1:03:21: We reach my favorite letter in this entire run of issues, as Stan Lee deals with an actual Communist. No, really. 1:03:22-1:18:31: The Frightful Four return in Fantastic Four #38 as the series shifts into an era of endless narrative, where stories just lead in and out of issues as necessary, without a need to obey constants of issue length. We talk about that, and also about the obviously re-written dialogue that ensures that children of the 1960s didn’t see Ben Grimm threaten to spank Sue. Except that they obviously did:
Jeff explains which Reed Richards is his left favorite, we talk about Stan Lee’s problems with female agency and the ways in which the story’s pace keeps the reader onboard despite some fairly obvious problems. The ending of the issue, in which the FF survive an atomic blast, comes under discussion as well, as I wonder about the similarities with the famous death of the Doom Patrol (which happened years later, something I wasn’t sure about when recording) and Jeff wonders if this is the first time that an audience had a cliffhanger that ensured that they knew that the heroes had survived such an explosion. 1:18:32-1:25:07: Here’s a mea culpa — I say that FF #39’s “Frankie Ray” is Frank Robbins, but I’m entirely wrong: It’s actually Frank Giacoia. Too many Frank pseudonyms for my own good. Either way, goddamn, those are some amazing inks, and the series looks as good as it’s looked to date. In what’s almost a timely moment, Daredevil shows up in the series as Doctor Doom attacks. Oh, and the Fantastic Four are powerless (again!), which leads to this new temporary new look for the team:
Man, how I wish they’d kept that status quo for longer. Kirby’s Daredevil is admired, but because it’s part one of a two-part story, we quickly move on to… 1:25:08-1:40:06: … FF #40, “The Battle of the Baxter Building,” in which Reed Richards is such a dick to Ben Grimm that it launches him on a murderous rampage that’s one of the most thrilling, visceral sequences in the series so far. That’s despite the appearance of Vinnie Colletta, showing up for the first of a few issues of inking and kind of making Kirby’s art look that little bit less impressive. But not even Colletta can ruin this:
The Thing’s rampage against Doctor Doom, however, remains the highlight of the issue, however, and Jeff makes a case for it actually being a Thing/Mr. Fantastic fight, albeit in a way that neither Lee nor Kirby were properly aware of at the time. And where was the rest of the team while all of this going on?
1:40:07-1:50:44: The 41st issue of Fantastic Four has a pleasingly ambiguous title: has Ben Grimm been betrayed, or is he doing the betraying? It’s one of a number of questions we talk about, with the others including whether or not Alicia is the latest victim of the passive aggressive battle between Lee and Kirby, and whether or not Madam Medusa is the FF’s forgotten top femme fatale. Jeff also reveals the best reason why Medusa acts out of character in these first appearances, and we marvel at the spectacular death traps the Wizard creates for the team. And for those reading along, if you’ve been wondering about the Thing’s dental work, prepare to get excited. 1:50:45-2:00:09: Is “To Save You, Why Must I Kill You?” the most perfectly passive aggressive story title in comics? Possibly, but it’s just one of the many thrills on offer in FF #42, which turns out to show all of the characters (with the exception of the Thing, who’s mind controlled) at their best in some way or another. Is this an issue that shapes the future of the Marvel Universe (and especially Roy Thomas’ Avengers)? Possibly — leading Jeff to suggest that other, lesser, artists would quit as soon as they hit these points, but Kirby was only getting started.
2:00:08-2:02:59: After what we’ve said about the first two parts of this storyline, we kind of don’t have that much to say about FF#43, “Lo, There Shall Be An Ending,” but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad issue, just one that’s overshadowed by what’s come before. 2:03:00-2:08:27: How is Fantastic Four Annual #3 like Secret Wars? Jeff explains all, while trying to convince me that it’s better than I think it is (My problem is really that it’s almost entirely a reprint book). 2:08:28-2:16:39:Fantastic Four #44 is a big issue in a lot of ways — Joe Sinnott joins the book as inker, Medusa gets a reboot and the Inhumans get properly introduced (Well, in some ways). There’s also Reed Richards’ greatest invention to date:
The newly-domesticated Sue Richards is introduced in this issue, and — well, if you thought she was a less-than-independent character before, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Is Joe Sinnott redrawing Kirby? Is Dragon Man really necessary here or anywhere else? Both of those questions will be… maybe not answered, but definitely raised. 2:16:40-2:24:16: “Among Us Hide… The Inhumans” in FF #45, and Jeff and I completely fall under the spell of the Inhumans, thanks in large part to the way they’re introduced slowly and independently of each other. Johnny Storm’s predilection for wandering around the bad parts of town is raised as an area of concern, but we forgive him because it means we get to meet Crystal and launch into one of the stranger — but surprisingly potent — romances of the Lee/Kirby era.
2:24:17-2:32:33: There’s a lot going on in FF #46, including the need for Reed Richards to increase security at the Baxter Building, Stan Lee yet again being caught out by Jack Kirby’s plans for future issues, and Jeff really, really making me wish that Kirby had designed Yellow Submarine for the Beatles. (I’d like to point out that, for once, it’s not me coming up with these 1960s pop references. Okay, sure, I did make the Who one earlier.) Continuing a theme of this episode, Kirby’s mastery of pacing is discussed, as well.
2:32:34-2:39:59: We near the end of the episode, and the end of the first Inhumans storyline, with Fantastic Four #47, but not before we make it through the first appearance of Maximus The Magnificent, who genuinely appears to live up to that description for all of about four pages. Who says this isn’t the Mighty Marvel age of incredible designs for disappointing characters, following the previous issue’s Seeker? We return to the question of the Thing’s teeth, and the subject of how weightless the reversals and reveals in this era of Fantastic Four are, and the way in which it doesn’t matter because Kirby manages to overwhelm common sense by sheer willpower. (“Don’t ask — just buy it!” indeed.) Also, the question of who called Black Bolt the first pure Kirby creation was, I remembered post-recording, Elle Collins in the Into It episode I guested on, so now you know. (Also, Stan Lee comes up trumps with the Johnny/Crystal romance in this issue, as far as I’m concerned.)
2:40:00-2:46:45: Even though the cliffhanger at the end of #47 turns out to fall flat on its face in Fantastic Four #48 — something Jeff politely suggests might have been down to miscommunication, and not just an utter failure of a plot device — there’s actually a surprisingly strong conclusion to the Inhuman storyline in the first pages of the issue, and it’s all thanks to Stan Lee. Who saw that one coming?
2:46:46-end: We wind everything up and tell you about what’ll be happening in the next episode of What, What?, as well as what issues we’ll be reading next Baxter Building. If you’re looking for us before then, you can find us on Tumblr, Patreon and Twitter. As ever, if you’ve made it this far in the show or the show notes, thank you very much for paying attention. We love you almost as much as Reed loves Sue, only without the constant need to put you down at any given opportunity. (That said, you’re going out in that?)
Huh, Graeme does capsule reviews, and now I’m doing capsule reviews? I guess my stalkery thing is showing through, that thing where I hang out in my room and talk in my Graeme voice and then reply to myself in my normal voice? (Actually, the sad thing is that it’s actually me talking to myself in my Graeme voice and then me replying to myself in my Abhay voice. I’m like the Composite Superman of comics blogosphere writers. So sad.)
Covergence #0 might have been the most high-profile title DC released last week, but it was just one of a number of books designed as “events” in their own right — I got no less than five annuals in my comps package, all but one intended to tie in with storylines in the ongoing series, and each from a series that I’m not currently reading in single issues (or at all). So, for the first time in a long time, it’s some capsule reviews. Nostalgia ahoy! Continue reading →
Sometimes a comic can be challenging to write about. If we were talking to you in person, standing by the comic book store counter and shooting the breeze, recommending Jason Shiga’s Demon would be easy: for one thing, I could convey my enthusiasm by waving my arms around and yelling a lot and you wouldn’t need me to actually reveal a lot of plot details. Or, depending on your reaction to my enthusiasm, I could figure out how much plot to reveal to actually hook you on the book.
Revelation is, for me, the strongest appeal to Jason Shiga’s Demon, and the idea of sacrificing any of its numerous surprises in order to get you to try the book isn’t something I take lightly. (And so this browser window sat open for days as I fretted about how to write this.)
Shiga’s Demon, which you can read in its entirety as he updates, a page at a time, over at his website, is the most insane and satisfying exploration of a premise since Ohba and Obata’s Death Note. Because Graeme and I support Jason on Patreon (and so do you, if you support us, thanks to our 10% pay it forward program), I had access to the first twelve issues on PDF. They’ve been one of the most satisfying exciting reads of the last year.
Let’s see if I can convince you at the most basic level of high concept, something you could glean from the very first issue: Demon is about a man seemingly incapable of dying. On the very first page of the very first issue, Jimmy Yee writes a suicide note and hangs himself. By page 5, he is alive again, back in the bed of the Oakland motel he’s checked into. The rest of the 35 page issue is Jimmy killing himself over and over, waking up in the same room, trying to figure out what is happening to him.
Let me be honest here (and know too that the necessity for this disclosure probably kept this browser window open and empty a few days longer than otherwise): I read the first issue of Demon probably close to a year ago, and it took me close to a year to get around to issue #2.
There are a couple of reasons for this. For one, the “guy who can’t die and keeps waking up over and over in the same place” thing felt a little shopworn to me, the stuff of low-budget movies and writers of indie comics shooting for a book at DC (or, worse, the first Image comic from a writer for DC). I worry that if you picked up this first issue on my recommendation (or read the first 36 pages on the website), you would turn to me and go, “Pffft! Jeff, I served with Death Note. I knew Death Note. Death Note was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Death Note.”
(Jesus Christ, I’m old.)
And I would take your point! Death Note opens with Ryuk, a demon from an evil dimension deciding to cause mischief by putting on Earth a book where anyone whose name is written in it will die by the method indicated. By page eight, it’s fallen into a teenager’s hands. By page nine, he’s reading the book and learning its rules. By page 14, he’s being confronted by the demon. By then, we are very far from low budget indie movie territory. (Although I was still severely under-read in manga when I picked up Death Note, I suspect for the experienced reader, it also didn’t come off like typical Shonen Jump fare: both Ryuk and the teenager Light subvert the traditional “cool but also kinda cute” Jump designs.) By contrast, the first 80+ pages of Demon (or the first three issues) are setting up and teasing the puzzle of Jimmy’s special powers. But I am thoroughly convinced getting through that set-up (which is perfectly fine, mind you, just not especially gripping) is well worth it: starting from issue #4, Demon kicks into high gear and becomes what a marketing person might call “a high-octane page turner.”
But here’s another concession: Jason Shiga is no Takeshi Obata. Obata is, in his very fastiduous way, a sensualist, exquisite at drawing hair and clothes. Even when his faces threaten to look all the same, you can tell that sameness stems from fixation. By contrast, Shiga’s characters look like cut-rate muppets.
The closer your tastes fall on the “realistic comic art” spectrum, the hardest it can be to embrace to Shiga’s art: he’s a cartoonist, and not an especially elegant one when it comes to his characters. (Although if you look at that first issue, you’ll see he sweats the small stuff: Jimmy himself may look like he’s escaped from a low budget kid’s show, but each of Jimmy’s tools of destruction are precisely delineated, and that hotel room he’s in is dead-on, right down to the window AC unit sticking out past the edge of the cheap, heavy curtains.)
Would you have been willing to watch Inception if it had been animated by the South Park guys? For a lot of people, that’s a pretty steep stylistic buy-in, but it’s the price of admission for this ride.
That said, while talking with a friend (the ever-wonderful Lauren Davis) about this very problem, she pointed out Demon might end up being far too gross if it was drawn realistically: there is a lot of violent death in this book—frequently by gun, but also by hanging, immolation, decapitation, car crash, and cum knife. (Yup.)
But as with one of Shiga’s previous works, Bookhunter, there are also satisfyingly BIG action setpieces. A hostage exchange on a train, for example, is paced perfectly, with a pervasive sense of suspense and escalating stakes that culminate in a deeply satisfying payoff. His characters may look like puppets but Shiga could teach a master class to writers and artists at the Big Two on how to use the “no-budget” approach to comics to build to bigger and bigger sequences until you feel like you’re reading the biggest, craziest summer movie ever. It’d be so much easier to sell this book to more traditional readers if the art matched the action.
[I had a few screenshots of said action but realized I thought they were too spoilery. Sorry.]
I concede my desire for a more broadly appealing style (so Shiga can be justly buried in riches) in a way misses some of the point. Jimmy, the man with special talents, comes to the attention of Agent Hunter, member of a shadowy government agency, the OSS. Their eagerness to recruit Jimmy (who responds to such an offer with “Suck my private-sector balls, motherfucker”) moves well past the point of coercion, and issues #4-12 are essentially one long brutally obstinate battle of wits which Shiga plays out well beyond what you might expect.
Similar to the way Tsugumi Ohba considered considerations of good and evil in Death Note as beside the point, Demon is cheerfully sociopathic in how it plays out its premise to logical ends. In that way, the first twelve issues of Demon are a Laurel & Hardy movie with the rigorous logic of hard sci-fi. And while that rigorousness infuses the violent hijinks with a deeply satisfyingly wit, the brutally casual take on said hijinks is also deeply hilarious.
Reaching the end of the most current issue, (#12) (where Shiga once again breaks the narrative sound barrier) and realizing the guy is only halfway through his story, gave me that “kid waking up on Christmas morning” feeling a reader has with a great book, a feeling of unending good fortune and anticipatory pleasure.
It’s a pretty good point to invite you to jump on the ride, and Shiga has staggered things so there are many possible ways to get on board: as mentioned above, you can read the material for free online (though the books are slowly starting to creep ahead) but I’m a very big fan of supporting Jason on Patreon. For $1.99, you can get a digital subscription which gives you access to all back issues and a new issue for every month—this proved the perfect solution for me and my tablet—or have the PDFs plus a continuing subscription to the hard copies (signed!) for $4.99 a month. Both plans are great because although Jason has an admirably high number of patrons and a decent amount of cash, it would be wonderful for him to have even more.
Whatever you decide, come with an open mind and give it a generous try. At its best, Demon does what good comics are supposed to do…
It’s an impressive introductory issue that leaves you more confused than you were before you started reading it, but never let it be said that Convergence #0 lacks ambition. Coherence, sure, it lacks that in spades, but ambition? It’s definitely got that. More after the jump, but if you haven’t already heard this week’s episode of the podcast, scroll down a couple entries. I’ll wait. Continue reading →
For those waiting for my weekly review — you’ll have to wait until tomorrow, because it’s under embargo. For those wondering why it’s embargoed, it’s because the comic isn’t out until tomorrow; it’s Convergence #0. Worlds will live, worlds will die but will I like it? You’ll find out tomorrow morning!
Until then, scroll down and listen to the most recent ep of the podcast, wherein Jeff and I answer questions and go off topic, because it’s us.
So sorry, chums! Time is really nipping at my heels today so I don’t have time to festoon the show notes with images and links and youtubes and subliminal acrostics (you have been keeping up with the subliminal acrostics, right)? I’ve got to—as Graeme always says—”hit and quit it,” so you can get these show notes in a timely manner and I can collapse on the divan like the bearded grungefop that I am. (And yes, look for The Bearded Grungefop to be getting his own Oni series in 2019.)
Please do not let me keep you from enjoying this episode though, oh mighty Whatnauts! It is a pretty good one, with the questions coming from our patrons from Patreon, and the answers coming from…well, us, of course. We are probably the weak link in that two-link chain but what are you gonna do? (If you have a beard and you answered “collapsed on the divan?” you are—to again quote Graeme—”biting my style,” and I’ll have none of it, damn you!)
As always, I’ll throw the text of the link in the first comment so you can copy, paste, spindle, mutilate or fold, as per your choices. [Note: do not ingest link. If link is swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Prepare and drink approximately eight ounces of a solution made from the following ingredients: two tablespoons sodium bicarbonate, two egg whites, one Bill Mantlo comic, three pogs, and one blatant untruth released from the publicity department of a major comic book company.]
And, lo, there shall come a:
00:00-5:17: Greetings! And almost immediately we are off and running because this episode is overdue. Yes, it’s the Q&A episode where the Qs come from our supporters on Patreon, and the As come from us! But first, in explaining that we find ourselves explaining where to find us on Patreon, and so at the beginning of the podcast for a change:
Under The Tote Bag! Places to look for us at—Stitcher!iTunes!Twitter!Tumblr! and, of course, on Patreon where, as of this count, an eye-popping 100 patrons make this whole thing possible! And then Graeme tells us how we have the order we have, and then we get right to it. Surprisingly, it seems like there are just as many questions about the state of the industry as there are questions of taste or critical acumen and, unsurprisingly, there are questions about waffles.
(I’m not sure if I should just list the questions or also things we mention in our answers or what…so let’s just see how that comes together, shall we?)
5:17-17:22: Eric Rupe asks: “With the years of dire predictions for the direct market and some of the major publishers therein, on the podcast and otherwhere and by many people not on the podcast, why have none of them ever really come true? A truly captive audience? Lack of better options for various players in the market, however you chose to define that? Something else?”
17:22-23:25: Eric Rupe asks: If Diamond put the Previews catalog together in a more egalitarian manner, such as getting rid of premier publisher section and listing all publishers alphabetically or doing a rotating spotlight, do you think that it would lead to an increase in sales for non-Premier publishers?
23:25-30:58: Eric Rupe asks: “Which is the more important decade for superhero comics, the 60s or 90s? What do you think is the most important decade for comics in general?”
30:58-41:21: Eric Rupe asks: “Are the intentions of the editors and writers on recent outreach titles like Captain America, Ms. Marvel, Thor and Captain Marvel comprised by the fact that Marvel, as a company, is horrible when it comes to things like ethics, morals and general human decency? Does the larger cultural situation with a general lack of diversity in things like blockbuster movies and the fact that most companies are just as bad if not worse than Marvel on an ethical level matter? Or is simply a matter of giving one set of values priority over another.”
41:21-52:14: Eric Rupe asks: “Is Image’s current success based around Eric Stephenson and, if so, do you think that continued success is possible if Stephenson left the company? Also, do you think Image will be able to continue with it’s current publishing strategies or will the founders will want to reassert their presence in some way and mess things up in some fashion or another?’
52:14-53:32: Eric Rupe asks: “If Jeff’s beard could be described as a kind of waffle, what kind of waffle would it be? If Jeff’s beard were sentient would it a) prefer Marvel or DC, b) be editorially mandated or creator driven, c)follow characters or follow creators and d) be a Grant Morrison fanboy or an Alan Moore fanboy? If Jeff’s beard fought Alan Moore’s beard, which would win? Does Jeff’s beard have plans for world conquest?”
53:32-55:17: Scott Ashworth asks: “Aside from the Wait, What Holy Trinity of Kirby, Engelhart, and Gerber, who are your choices for most consistently interesting writers at Marvel in the period between Lee and Shooter’s editorships?”
55:17-56:13: Dave Clarke asks: “At what Patreon tier do we get a monthly ‘Jeff tries to explain manga to Graeme’ podcast?”
56:13-56:34: Dave Clarke asks: “Have you guys seen the tv series Utopia? (the british thriller one that lasted 2 seasons, not the australian comedy one) If so talk about it. If not consider giving it a go, I think you guys would dig it and the first season revolves around hunting down a comic.”
[Note from Jeff: After recording this podcast, I just found out that Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) has gotten the assignment to write the scripts for the American remake of the show and now I am VERY EXCITED.]
56:34-1:03:23: Dave Clarke asks: “The cultural implications of the new Batgirl series being a magnet for internet controversy.”
1:03:23-1:08:47: Dave Clarke asks: “Isn’t it weird that comics are still pencilled, inked and coloured? Inking was originally developed to work around technical limitations of mass productions which dont really exist any more. Even though a tonne of illustration is done for the film and video game industry very very little of it is of the ‘black linework + colour added behind it’ variety. Thoughts on why its still going strong in comics? Predictions for the future?”
1:08:47-1:10:46: Adam P. Knave asks: “What breakfast foods are each of the classic avengers?”
1:10:46 -1:15:57: Paul Spence asks: “Could the Whatnauts give us an assessment of Brandon Graham’s Prophet. I believe that Jeff likes it, but Graeme does not. I really like Prophet and I believe that it is the most original and challenging of all the sci-fi titles that Image has launched over the last four years. A number of the Image sci-fi offerings seem the same to me. Too many of them are formulaic post-apocalyptic dystopias.”
1:15:57-1:21:23: Paul Spence asks: “Can you voice an opinion about Graham’s earlier magnum opus King City. I have been rereading it recently and I keep finding new layers in the work to enjoy. Graham’s art is stunning in its detail and it looks gorgeous in black & white. I love Graham’s off-center sensibilities and the way he embraces surrealism. He is not a creator that everyone can enjoy, but I appear to be on whatever quirky wavelength he is on and his work really speaks to me.”
1:21:23-1:30:35: Jeff Lang asks: “What did you guys think of the Captain Marvel/Warlock stuff when you first read it and why do you think the PTB behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe have embraced that particular sliver of the mid-1970s? Convenience? Fannish devotion? A mix of the two? Something else?”
1:30:35-1:43:20: Kevin McCandless asks: “A simple question but out of all the non-Big Two series you’ve reviewed in the last year, which one would you recommend to someone getting back into alternative comics after a long hiatus? By which I mean, upper middle-brow, appealing to NPR-listeners (which describes me to a T) stuff like Palookaville or Bone?”
1:43:20-1:47:11: Chris Jarzombek asks: “Given the Lee-Kirby tension in the FF stories (i.e., Kirby wants to go one way with the story, Lee wants to go another), would there be any value in re-scripting some (or all) of the pages so that they better match the ideal (which I would assume for you guys would be Kirby’s intention)? I’m thinking particularly of pages where the art suggests Sue wants to stay with Namor, but the script is pulling her toward Reed; or ones where the heroes appear weaker than Lee is willing to concede. Or put another way: Would theses stories be better if they were “fixed,” or is the tension part of the fun for you?”
1:47:11-2:08:54: J.D. Smith (that you, Smitty?) asks: “With Private Eye bowing at ten issues what do we take away from the model? What are you guys enjoying on the broader culture spectrum? Books? Music? Film? TV?”
[Please note. This response features the phrase: “Brian K. Vaughn is the Amanda Palmer of comics.”]
2:08:54-2:11:39: Chris Beckett asks: “With the upcoming Daredevil series on Netflix, what DD comics would you recommend, outside of Frank Miller’s work? (Personally, I love the Nocenti/JRJr run, which was my proper introduction to the character.)”
2:11:39-2:18:09: Roger Winston asks: “What are your feelings about DC’s “announcement” that they are no longer going to be slaves to continuity? (Assuming you believe it.) Apologies if you’ve already covered this in the podcast and I forgot. I’m interested in how important continuity is to you and if that has changed over the years. I know that in my younger days I was quite insistent that everything matches up, but these days I don’t care as much. How important is it to a company’s reputation (for lack of a better term) that they are consistent with what they’ve established or are trying to establish?”
2:18:09-2:18:32: Daniel Mackay asks: “What do you think of the original Batman TV series and should the Batman vs Superman film be a spiritual sequel to the series? I think we all want their fight to be Batman whipping out his Bat Superman Repellent Spray.”
2:18:32-2:26:07: Dan Billings asks: “Not sure if anyone has asked this before but a friend gave me a bunch of his 1970s comics which included Welcome Back Kotter comics and it made me think about recent non-animated sitcoms and if they would make decent comics. Any jump out at you? Who would write and draw them?”
2:26:07-2:27:35: Martin Gray asks: “Here’s a question, then. If DC and Marvel were waffle toppings, what would they be?”
2:27:35-2:29:42: And, finally, Graeme runs though a thank you of our patrons, because we said we would and also because you are awesome and deserve it:
Cass Andrew Sherman
Adam P Knave
Mairead Ryan (Ryan Mairead?)
2:29:42-end: Closing comments! At the time this was recorded we were wondering what we would do when we got to our 100th patron. We’ve since hit that milestone, and still don’t know what to do.
Reboot! And it’s pretty much also our “closing comments!” section, with us talking about how next week is *not* a skip week and how you’ll be getting Ep. 173 next week and *then* a skip week. And again: Under The Tote Bag! Places to look for us at—Stitcher!iTunes!Twitter!Tumblr! and, of course, on Patreon where, as of this count, we are grateful to our 100 patrons, and especially to those who asked questions for this very episode.
Okay, that divan is close. I will try to flesh out the tags later. Look to the skies! Look to our comments! Look to your longboxes!
(Insert the “hey, this isn’t a comic book!” joke of your choice here.)
If you’re a medium or long-term Wait, What? listener, you know I’m not much of a fan of Neil Gaiman.
I mean, I’m not not a fan: Pretty much every time he comes back to comics, I’m there to try an issue or two or three…but that may be because I almost always like the artists he collaborates with, usually more than what I like from him. Gaiman’s whip-smart, he has an exceptionally strong grasp of what he’s good at, and I’d argue the politically savviest guy in comics (though whether more so than Dave Sim in his prime is an argument for armchair generals). Actually, scratch that: he’s probably one of the more politically savvier guys in mainstream media today. If he was a character in Game of Thrones–Gai of Tweethos or something–he’d still be around well into the later books, rich and beloved and seemingly without guile.
(More behind the jump due to mouthiness, inappropriate speculation, etc.) Continue reading →