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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Previously on Baxter Building: When we last saw the FF — ignoring a fill-in by Al Milgrom — they’d just returned from a time-traveling adventure that returned the team to the classic line-up for the first time since… when, the Roger Stern run back around #304? If that seemed like a retro move, don’t worry — we’ve reached the arrival of Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan, which might be the most purposeful retro run of the entire series, so looking backwards is where it’s at.


0:00:00-0:10:31:19:
We start off looking ahead at the entire DeFalco/Ryan run, and marveling at the fact that it’s one of the three longest runs by a creative team on the Fantastic Four series — at least the first volume — with Lee/Kirby and Byrne as the other longterm creators. We also touch on the new run’s complete lack of Sharon Ventura, at least to start with, with the character written out between issues. Alas, poor Shary…!

0:10:13:20-0:44:36: Fantastic Four #356 sets the tone for what’s to come, with an opening sequence that lets you know just what to expect from DeFalco and Ryan run as a whole — something that Jeff likens to “brain damage comics,” although he’s not quite sure who’s actually suffering the damage. We talk about all manner of things, including a fight that seems far too violent for its own good, the disconnect between dialogue and visual actions on the page, Johnny’s unfortunate sexy talk and the way it breaks Jeff’s brain —

— the overachieving nature of the Puppet Master, and why Reed Richards’ faith in the youth is misplaced. All this, plus the New Warriors, too! (And, yes; they have a lot to do with why faith in the kids is a bad idea. Sorry, New Warriors fans.)

0:44:37-1:25:16: The discussion of FF #357 starts with addressing the really dull elephant in the room: How boring Paul Ryan’s artwork is. But is the problem Ryan or inker Danny Buladani? Also, we dig into what the hell is going on with Johnny’s marriage — especially in light of what’s going to happen in the very next issue. (The problem might be Johnny’s understanding of how marriages work, as we learn in a conversation with Sue.) Meanwhile, Tom DeFalco manages to step on his own tension by oversharing with the reader, the Fantastic Four don’t understand how sandwiches work, and oh my God, Alicia is a what?!?

1:25:17-1:59:15: Not only is Fantastic Four #358 a triple-sized 30th anniversary spectacular, not only does it include the debut of Paibok the Power Skrull, not only is there the reveal of the Mad Thinker’s great revenge (Spoilers: He gets out-thought), not only is there a discussion of the etiquette of Skrull Deep Cover,  but the issue brings perhaps the most surprising shocker of them all: Jeff and I both kind of dig the Alicia Was A Skrull retcon! So much so, in fact, that we argue in favor of it and ignore the fact that the pin-ups mentioned in passing are by Mike Mignola, and barely talk about Art Adams’ artwork for the Doctor Doom back-up. (We do, however, get into a disagreement over the subtext of the back-up, because of course we do.) Really, the takeaway from this issue might be that we talk briefly in two different contexts about how subtle Tom DeFalco’s writing can be when you least expect it. Yes, really!

1:59:16-2:10:05: Realizing that we’ve already spent two hours talking about just three issues of a comic, we try to speed through FF #359, in which the FF are rescued in space by Brainiac. No, wait, I mean a very boring Predator rip-off, as Jeff points out. Or maybe neither, because Tom DeFalco just offers up a generic villain in terms of dialogue and really, who cares? At least we learn why Reed Richards likes animals, kind of.

2:10:06-2:17:49: Sure, “Dreadface” might be the worst name for a Venom rip-off, yet I can’t deny that Fantastic Four #360 is actually kind of a great little comic because it’s wonderfully, shamelessly trashy. We rush through this one very quickly, ensuring that we quickly arrive at…

2:17:50-2:27:42:FF #361, which might be one of the strangest and, let’s be honest, worst Christmas comics ever. As I lose my shit over the utterly unnecessary introduction of a Yancy Street Gang that is, too all intents and purposes, a great rip-off of the Newsboy Legion — no, really, they’re wonderful — Jeff points out that the story of this Christmas issue is that Doctor Doom has decided that he’s not going to solve drug addiction after all, because happy Christmas! Still at least we manage to drop a reference in to Marvel Two-in-One, a comic that — in case everyone’s forgotten — Tom DeFalco used to write. No wonder his Thing is so on-brand.
2:27:43-end: We wrap things up quickly, talking about the issues we’ll be reading next episode — #362-370 — and the fact that, in addition to the Twitter, Tumblr and Patreon, we now have an Instagram. We leave things a little vague about when the next Wait, What? is, because we actually hadn’t figured that out before recording, but it’ll be in two weeks time, so now you know. Until then, thank you as always for listening and reading. Who knew the first issues of the DeFalco/Ryan run would be so enjoyable…?

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0:01-14:30:  Welcome back to part two of our sorta-annual “asked and answered” episode!  Jeff  is no longer in in Portland, Oregon, so we are once again “back on the cans,” as Graeme puts it.  Others (not nearly so generous) might say we are “back on our bullshit”, as not even two minutes go by before we are discussing this CBS news story about Marvel in which C.B. Cebulski and Sana Amanat are interviewed and…hoo boy.  We would say the story speaks for itself…but, really, what would be the point of us if it did?
14:30-37:45:   And now, on with the questions!  Cinema Strikes Back asks:  If you could install new leadership for Marvel and/or DC, who would you pick? With an cold eye towards improving sales and market relations while also trying to improve less tangible metrics like quality and diversity. Also, read the original Battle Angel Alita series yet?

37:45-40:16: Carlos Aguilar wants to know:  What are either of your thoughts/critiques on DEVILMAN (manga or anime)?  Thanks!
40:16-57:14: Jesse Morgan wonders:  How did DC manage to keep the quality up on Rebirth? What did they do different, and can they keep it up?
57:14-1:07:38:  Here’s Lee, who would like to find out:  As someone moving across coasts soon, how would you decide which (if any) physical comics to keep, especially given how cheap digital comics are nowadays?

1:07:38-1:17:08:  K. Jeffrey Petersen is curious:  What do you think of the numerous similarities between Stan Lee and Donald Trump? Would the world be better if Trump had gone into publishing and Lee into politics?
1:17:08-1:24:34:  Raphael Duffy asks:  Kind of a selfish question and I know you’ve answered it before but it’s quick: for people who have never read UK comics before what’s a good/fast to get into 2000AD since Graeme is raving about it?
1:24:34-1:35:44: Simon Russell queries:    Are most (all?) of superhero comics poorer fo the loss of thought bubbles? HINT: It means done-in-one stories are harder to do (less compact), character development is massively truncated, and everything is so bloomin’ SERIOUS all the time.
1:35:44-1:42:35:  Dan White says: Could you please fantasy cast the following 2000ad movies: Strontium Dog, Zenith, Nemesis, Rogue Trooper and Bad Company?

1:42:35-1:43:57:  Steve Morris asks:  Rabbits?
1:43:57-1:46:48:  Lee Carey wonders:  Graeme, which Jack Kirby character do you think Jeff most resembles, and visa versa?
1:46:48-1:53:11:  Tom Shapira would like to know:  if you had to staff 2000AD with American creators – who would work on what strips?
1:53:11-2:00:47: For half our semester grade, Jonathan Sapsed quizzes: Why did the ‘British Invasion’ happen in the 80s? Which country/culture is best positioned to ‘invade’ US comics now?
2:00:47-2:01:40:  Just when Dan Billings was settling down for the night, he realized he also wanted to ask:  What price do you think a single floppy will cost in 2025?
2:01:40-2:11:54:  Max Blanchard demands to know:  Waffle window?

2:04:33-2:11:54: Darth Selfie brings the noise!   What Marvel character do you hope they never adapt for the MCU? If you weren’t doing a podcast about comics, what would you be podcasting about? If you weren’t into comics, what fun/weird/stupid hobby would fill the vacuum in the lives of an alternate universe Jeff and Graeme?
2:11:54-2:15:25:  Tom Shapira returns with a bonus question for @Lazybastid – what mangaka would you take to work on 2000AD?
2:15:25-2:20:35: And to close us out, Scott asks:  Are either of you reading Kill or be Killed by Brubaker and Phillips? What do you think of it?
2:20:35-end:  No more questions so…. (eventually, after talking about Solo, You Are Deadpool, Deadpool 2    ): 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:  Baxter Building!  Join us for a discussion of Fantastic Four issues #356-361.

 

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First and foremost, a very big *thank you* to superhero Graeme McMillan, for throwing together the edit for this show after recording it in his house.  It’s like he gave me two vacations!

Second (and eightmost? Am I understanding the progression correctly?), I’m going to ride that vacation out to the very end, so the shownotes are complete but a bit truncated!  Nonetheless, all the questions are there in the right place, so you can skip to where you want as you choose or even listen to the full thing, if you like!

0:01-12:30:  Welcome to our sorta-annual “in-person” episode!  Jeff is in Portland, Oregon to vacation and talk with the mighty Graeme McMillan!  So, of course, we talk about some of the great Portland attractions: Salt & Straw ice cream!
The Waffle Window! Blue Star Donuts!  Some surprising disagreements about Voodoo Donuts!
12:30-38:39:  While on vacation, Jeff re-read 33 issues of Werewolf By Night, a book he loved dearly when he was young and returns to find it, uh, promising?  But what does it promise, and to whom does it deliver?
Also discussed:  “bro’s gold,” Christina Z vs. Christy Marx, an amazing scene from You Are Deadpool #4, and more!
38:39-1:07:46: Listener questions! Eric Rupe launches the first volley: Did Jeff ever finish reading the manga Fuuka? Did he watch the anime? Would he be interested in reading Fuuka: The Official Erotic Short Short Collection in full color?
Is Jeff still reading Prison School? It seems like a very Jeff comic and I’m curious about his opinions on the series.
Any thoughts on the current state of the Direct Market and it’s potential future? Doom and gloom? Rainbows and sunshine? Somewhere in between?
Does the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the failure basically every other attempt say anything in particular about doing a shared universe outside of comics and the Direct Market?
And for some just general podcast stuff, any chance of reading and discussing the Jim Lee/Wildstorm Fantastic Four run given the discussion you guys had about the retro-ness of the FF and Image at the end of the last Baxter Building?
1:07:46-1:14:18:  Matthew M asks:  What series do you find surprising that it  lasted as long as it did? For me, I’m always kind of shocked that the late ’80s Starman series lasted for 45 issues. (Though I’ve never read it, or heard anyone mention it, so maybe it’s a hidden gem.)
1:14:18-1:19:22:  DDT asks:  I always wondered why the 2000AD 8-page-or-so story format is so UK and never caught on in the US (I know it feels like I have to rewire my brain to appreciate that format’s tempo).
1:19:22-1:21:21: James Masente says:  Comics are shit nowdays vs. Comics are better than ever. Pick a side and pull no punches!
1:21:21-1:32:57:  Skye wonders:  Do you think Big 2 comics would be more successful at bringing in New readers if there were mail order subscriptions like magazines? If not, what distribution model would you want to see implemented?
1:32:57-1:42:52: Yonatan wants to know:  With an increasing number of big creators at DC being bringing things back from/being nostalgic for the post Zero Hour/Pre Infinite Crisis DCU, what characters/concepts/books would you like to see return from that era?
1:42:52-1:47:58:  Skye also wonders: If someone forced you to make a miniseries reboot or movie adaptation of Starbrand, what would your pitch be? And:  If you can’t work with this, give me a Micronauts pitch instead.
1:47:58-1:49:38:  And Yonatan also wants to know:  Also, question more for Graeme: a #LegionofSuperheroes collection is coming out in July that finally collects the Earthwar arc. (Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #241-245) Where does it fall on your top Legion stories list and would you recommend it for new readers?
1:49:38-1:51:03:  Chad Nevett asks:  With SHIELD finishing with the final two issues coming out, are there any other unfinished/cancelled too soon books you’d like to see have a chance at a proper ending?
1:51:03-1:54:26:  Troy Wilson drops by via Baxter Building:  Of all the FF issues you’ve read so far, which would you each consider to be your top five individual issues? (Or top ten, if you’re low on questions.)
1:54:26-2:01:11: Flasshe queries: Have you ever given up reading comics? If so, what was your longest inactive period, what made you stop, and what made you start back up again?
2:01:11-2:03:57:  Here’s one from the excellent Bill Reed:  If everything on Earth was destroyed except for one comic book issue, which comic book issue would best represent humanity for the alien archaeologists who find it?
2:03:57-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: Wait, What? Ep. 249!  We answer more questions!  I’d love to say all but let’s just see how it goes, shall we?
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I am in awe—literal, no-lie awe—of the wild disparity between Marvel Studios and Marvel Comics. While Marvel Comics flails around and tries one desperate rebooting after another so that a hypothetical new reader won’t be “lost” or have to know a bunch of convoluted continuity, the movie side of the house basically says “Screw you, if you want to fully enjoy this year’s summer tentpole you have to have watched—and paid attention to—eighteen previous movies that would take up nearly two full days of your life. And while Marvel Comics continues to shrivel up into itself, Marvel Studios turned a nearly three-hour movie starring nineteen major movie stars WITHOUT AN ENDING into one of the biggest films of all time.

It’s become clear that, every step of the way, the comics side of the house CANNOT figure out what makes the movies successful, and it’s become equally clear that they’re gonna keep trying. Case(s) in point: this year’s two main Free Comic Book Day offerings. (SPOILERS for both books follow after the jump.)

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Previously on Baxter Building: Forget about your previouslys, because this episode we’re jumping through the years to cover four different annuals we’ve left untouched until now, from 1985 through 1991. What is time, anyway…?

0:00:00-0:07:17: In an attempt to catch up on the backlog of ignored annuals — and also try to put off the start of the Tom DeFalco/Paul Ryan run just that little bit longer — we’re covering Fantastic Four Annual #s 19, 22, 23 and 24 this time around. (We covered Annuals 20 and 21 in episodes 34 and 35, for those wondering, because they tied in directly to the Steve Englehart run in the regular series.) Given the quality of these comics, that may have been a bad idea, but before we get there, we talk briefly about annuals and what they used to mean for the Marvel line.

0:07:18-0:36:40: We begin with a blast from the past — and I’m not talking about the quasi-return for the Enfant Terrible. Fantastic Four Annual #19 is an all-John Byrne issue — with Joe Sinnott inks, to boot — and that means that we get a refresher course in all his particular quirks. (Those of you who like the hyper-competent, impossibly-correct Reed Richards, prepare to get excited.) Under discussion: John Byrne’s painfully slow pacing, the unexpected choices of Skrull shapechangers, differences in inking between Kyle Baker and Joe Sinnott, and why this comic is just like a movie by M. Night Shyamalan.

0:36:41-0:54:04: If 1985’s annual left us unimpressed, it seems like Lee and Kirby compared with Annual #22. The final chapter of the 14-part Atlantis Attacks is no-one’s finest hour, and barely a Fantastic Four comic at all, but it does feature some almost impressively heavy exposition and unsubtle dialogue as the idea of characterization is seemingly abandoned in the name of just getting to the end of the story at any cost. (Of particular concern, Dr. Strange and Reed Richards, as we go into.) Compared with this, the back-up strips shine, but Jeff doesn’t know that because, inexplicably, neither of the FF-related back-up shorts are included in the Marvel Unlimited version of the issue, meaning that I have to give a brief plot summary of both to explain why they’re worth hunting down. (Hilary Barta alone should get people excited, I think.)

0:54:05-1:22:48: There’s a lot that’s wrong with Fantastic Four Annual #23, not least of which being the fact that it’s pretty much a bad X-Men comic that just happens to star the Fantastic Four. This brings Jeff to the conclusion that the first chapter of “Days of Future Present” is, in fact, a meta-textual “Days of Future Past” that reveals the post-Chris Claremont era of Marvel’s X-Men line a year before it arrives. Considering that X-Men editor Bob Harras scripted the main story in the issue — a fact actually hidden away on page 23 of the story, amazingly — this might not be a coincidence, admittedly. If the primary story doesn’t impress us, there’s a pleasant surprise in the back-ups, as James Brock’s Volcana strip feels like a solid first issue of a mid-range comic, while Jeff is far more taken with the cosmic travelogue offered by Kubik and Kosmos than I am. I blame his long-standing fondness for Jim Starlin comics. (Also, in explaining away the end of “Days of Future Present,” I accidentally say that Franklin has ghost powers; I meant to say he has dream powers, and that Adult Franklin is hijacking them. My mistake, by which I mean, oh God, these comics are so bad.)

1:22:49-1:49:01: By the time we get to Annual #24, both Jeff and I are pretty exhausted by the crappiness of what we’ve been reading, but not to worry; there’s the first chapter of an entirely unnecessary sequel to the Avengers storyline “The Korvac Saga,” which is not only written, but also pencilled and inked by Al Milgrom. (As we say, he tries to channel Simonson in scenes featuring the Time Variance Authority; Jeff thinks he nails it and I most certainly do not, but look up and you tell us.) Continuing the theme, this isn’t really a comic about the Fantastic Four, but when I tell Jeff the way the storyline ends in another comic, it’s fair to say that he couldn’t care no matter who it’s about. Luckily, there are back-ups, including a second (admittedly lesser) Volcana strip and a Super Skrull short that gets us all bothered about why it even exists and who it’s intended for. Are we too grumpy? Don’t blame us; these are very bad comics.

1:49:02-2:12:59: In fact, they’re so bad that Jeff returns to his comment from a couple of episodes ago about whether or not he even likes the Fantastic Four, and turns it on its head: Do these comics prove that Marvel doesn’t like the Fantastic Four? Or, at least, that it doesn’t know what to do with them? We talk about the lack of Fantastic Four in these comics compared with the Steve Englehart Annuals we covered earlier, and also about the lack of focus on the characters even when they do appear. Is this a sign of the Image-ization of Marvel that was happening at the time, or something else? (And, in a tease of what’s to come, I bring up the idea that the Fantastic Four comic’s specific response to Image is what forever doomed the book to be seen as a retro title, but the proof of that pudding is yet to come.)

2:13:00-end: We wrap things up with promising a new Wait, What? in two weeks and invite everyone to send questions for a special Q&A episode. Send us or tweet at us; you can also send us a message through Patreon if you’re a Patreon Patron and that’s your speed. As ever, we also remind people about the Twitter, Patreon and the Tumblr, and then Jeff’s ever-friendly tones walk us out. Thank you, always, for reading and listening. Now, send us questions!

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http://theworkingdraft.com/media/podcasts2/WaitWhat247.mp3
 [apologies if that link doesn’t turn into something you can auto-play. I have no idea why it’s acting up, but hopefully have got the damn episode encoded elsewhere…]
0:01-13:13: Welcome!  Graeme announces he is weirdly crabby; Jeff announces he just had a visit from Mr. David Wolkin; and there’s a terrifying story about the best pizza place in Portland going *too* Portland, a profile about the man behind Dave’s Killer Bread, and much more “not yet” talk.  Don’t worry!  comic book talk is coming!

13:13-1:08:08: In fact, it’s here!  Our ALL-SPOILERS, WE GIVE-IT-ALL-AWAY talk about Avengers: Infinity War has arrived.  Discussed:  Some really smart choices; what happened to Hawkeye; what are the gimmes for the sequel, including Jeff’s beautiful theory that Graeme is more or less entirely sure will not happen; the JMS-ification of MCU Spider-Man; the bit that broke the movie for Graeme; Jeff’s pinko anxiety about the MCU’s neolib anxiety; the Kingsman: The Secret Service connection; the choices made for MCU Thanos; and more (Carboat)!
1:08:08-1:21:31: In fact, Carboat leads us into a discussion of contrarian social media and the motivations behind it; 9/11 and superhero movies, which lead us to…
1:21:31-1:33:06:  Actual comic book talk!  About comics!  Jeff just read Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction, Vol. 1 by Inio Asano, and it gave him an abundance of feels!  We circle back to the MCU and the military-industrial complex; how Marvel Comics treats the MIC, reflected in, for example, the work of Brian Michael Bendis.
1:33:06-1:55:02:  Speaking of Bendis:  how is he going to fit into the DCU, considering some of his takes on things at Marvel?  Are we going to see something different from him, considering he’s writing Superman, who, as Graeme puts it, “is one of the more establishment characters.”  Which ropes us into a discussion of DC Nation #0: the Bendis story in it, but also the pieces in the recent free (or near-free) comic. Also discussed: Justice League: No Justice #1; Dial L for Loeb; discussing Bendis’ final Marvel work, including his work on Iron Man; a summing up of the Superman and Action Comics Rebirth titles up to now; and more.
 
1:55:02-2:19:48: A comic book round-up of various titles, including:  Batman #46 by Tom King and Tony Daniel!  Jeff does not like it, but can give a spirited defense of it nonetheless?  Discussed: Alan Moore; cheap comedy; and more; You Are Deadpool #1 by Al Ewing and Salva Espin—a Deadpool comic that is a Choose Your Own RPG comic! Absolutely an impressive formalistic achievement…but then why are both Graeme and Jeff left a bit cold? Additionally  Jeff caught up on issues #3-5 of Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell, Mike Freeman, and Mark Morales, and wanted to check in with Graeme about his feelings about the book; and Jeff also caught up with something like six chapters of Platinum End by Ohba and Obata, and is happy to report…he now kinda maybe likes it?  Plus: Vampire Tales, Vol. 3!
2:19:48-2:38:53: Finally, a very important Infinity Wars-related question:  if you could cast Hawkeye but only with an actor named Jeremy, who would you pick? Also discussed: CQ, what happened to Josh Holloway; are we ever going to see Gambit: The Movie; the Avengers relaunch and the preview of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Captain America; and more.
2:38:53-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:  Baxter Building!  Join us for a discussion of Fantastic Four Annual #s 19, 22-24, but also feel free to check out the 40 pages of Barry Windsor-Smith’s unpublished Thing graphic novel that several people have pointed us to. We probably won’t discuss it….but we might?
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0:01-7:35:  A little bit of catching up, mostly about the unfortunate Penthouse Forum-ian aspect of Jeff’s work recently.  And then…
7:35-15:16:  We have a spoiler-free discussion of Avengers: Infinity War, as Graeme has seen it but Jeff has not.  And then from that, it’s off to…
 15:16-39:59: Graeme talking about the big stack of Jim Starlin Thanos stuff (Infinity War the comic, Infinity Crusade, the three Thanos graphic novels Starlin did, The Infinity Abyss, Marvel Comics: The End, and even more) he’s read in preparation for writing about the film.  If you’ve followed us for a while, you know Jeff is a huge fan of Starlin’s work in the Marvel Universe with Thanos, while Graeme….eh, not so much.  UNTIL NOW.  We talk about these books, about Starlin, and about the possible future of Marvel Unlimited (where Graeme read almost all of the material mentioned).
39:59-1:00:56: And now it’s time for what is becoming a terrifyingly regular feature to our Wait, What? Episodes—more discussions about the Fantastic Four aside from, in addition to, or in spite of our regular Baxter Building podcast.  In this installment, Graeme has read the first thirty issues of the DeFalco/Ryan run to come, and Jeff read vol. 4 of the collected Mark Waid/Karl Kesel/Mike Wieringo run, and here we are talking about it in our non-FF podcast.  What is wrong with us?
 
1:00:56-1:12:47:  But to discuss other stuff we’ve read or watched:  Jeff spends some time blabbing about the first Master of Kung-Fu Epic Collection by Doug Moench, Paul Gulacy, Al Milgrom, Ron Wilson, John Buscema, and *many* other artists.

1:12:47-1:34:45: How are the broilingly conflicted undercurrents of MOKF similar to those Jeff perceives in that Venom trailer?  And how does that connect to Die Hard? Or the Netflix McG movie, The Babysitter? We’re so glad you asked!
1:34:45-1:50:18: And finally (sorta), Jeff had an epiphany about the new role Joss Whedon should play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He felt it was worth sharing.  Here’s your chance to listen and say to yourself (in your best Graeme McMillan voice) : was it, though?
1:50:18-2:11:16: “Graeme,” Jeff finally all but pleads. “Let’s talk about what you want to talk about!”  And what does Graeme want to talk about?  In no particular order: Bendis’s Clark Kent; Tom King’s Batman issues #45 and #46; “a metric shit-ton of 2000 AD stuff,” including Abnett and Winslade’s Loveless; and more, especially when Jeff decides to cut in and start talking about the digital Vampire Tales collections he’s been reading.
2:11:16-???: Technical difficulties give us the title of this episode, but also start steering us toward closing comments.  How long does it take us to get there?
2:21:49-end:  This long!  And also:  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 installment of Wait, What?  And if Jeff can gets his act, together—Avengers: Infinity War!
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