[Apologies everyone: show notes here are super-quick this time around as Jeff ran himself ragged this weekend and is still trying to prep for an even busier week.  So not as many images, and not as many notes, but they and the episode are indeed here.  Enjoy!]
[Also, it looks like the audio player isn’t loading, which is kind of a drag and we promise to work on soon?]
0:00-7:03: Greetings from Graeme “Trapped in a Heat Wave” McMillan and Jeff “Trapped in a World He Never Made” Lester! We recorded this episode much earlier than usual (Wednesday, August 2) which should be the major talking point of these introductory comments, but instead a surprisingly long discussion about the weather.  (Okay, probably not that surprising if you’ve heard us before.)
7:03-13:09: First order of business! Graeme read and was *very* impressed by the recent Eisner winning graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew,and he tells us a bit about here.  (Jeff certainly has vowed to pick it up soon.)
13:09-47:36: And since Graeme mentioned picking up the book at SDCC, you’d think we’d actually talk about news from the Con, wouldn’t we?  Well, guess what?  We do.  How’s that for a shocker? Discussed: Superman: Year One, Ed Piskor’s X-Men: Grand Design, The Terrifics by Jeff Lemire and Ivan Reis; meeting Frank Miller; yachting with Geoff Johns; meeting a bunch of great people (hello, Kyle!), the amazing Tom King panel, and more.
47:36-1:13:32: And from there, we move to Hibbs extraordinarily eye-opening piece about trying to order Marvel books for their upcoming Marvel Legacy.  Here’s the tasty pull quote Graeme and I both posted on Twitter independently of each other:  “Literally, you are being asked to purchase comics you can’t sell, in order to gain access to comics that you can.”  We also spend some time seeing if we could puzzle out what’s going on with the terms offered in Marvel’s leaked book catalogue.
1:13:32-1:27:14: Movie time!  Want to hear why we recorded this episode early? Or what movie Jeff thought was a very odd remake of Magnolia?  Or our discussion about Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World?  If not, skip this section!
1:27:14-1:48:37: But, yes, we do also talk about comics here on this podcast from time to time.  For example, this little segment where we discuss:  Kamandi Challenge #7 by Marguerite Bennett, Dan Jurgens, and Klaus Janson; Yes Roya, by C. Spike Trotman and Emilee Denich; Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop The Reign #1 by Geoff Darrow with Dave Stewart; and more.
1:48:37-1:58:58: And then, as promised in the Book of Revelation, we discuss Manga Poverty by Sato Shuho and translated by Dan Luffey.  It’s a remarkable book with some eye-opening insights into how professional mangaka are paid, although Graeme had some problems with the second half of the bok that are very understandable.
1:58:58-end: And then!  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 Ep. 32!  Covering Fantastic Four issues #285-295  concluding the epic run by John Byrne!
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Writing about Marvel’s Secret Empire event has been…not fun. It’s not the sort of book that lends itself to an amusing snarkread, but it’s also largely felt so bloated that there hasn’t been much to say about each issue. I’ve tried to point out specific areas where I felt the series was coming up short, but I can feel myself occasionally drifting over into vague complaining.

Well, good news! Secret Empire #7 was a marked improvement on nearly every area of the book I’ve complained about. Sure, it was still a bleak, depressing story possibly too in love with its own grittiness. And, sure, you could argue that after six issues (plus a zero issue, plus a Free Comic Book Day issue, plus a bunch of tie-ins), the plot certainly SHOULD be kicking into gear.

But to focus on that would be churlish and needlessly downbeat. Let’s focus on the positives, just this once. (Please note: focusing on the positives is going to require some very direct SPOILERS for this issue. If you haven’t read it or had the major plot events revealed elsewhere on the internet, click away now.)

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[FULL DISCLOSURE: When I started writing this piece, it was entitled “Matt on Secret Empire #3″. Then it sat there, eventually becoming “Secret Empire #3 & 4″. When #5 was released, I *thought* about updating this but couldn’t be bothered. And somehow, here we are today, at “Secret Empire #3 – 6″. That foot-dragging delay all by itself is probably a more accurate summary of my reaction to these issues than anything I could write below, but what the heck–I’ll give it a shot anyhow. I’ll start with my original content and jump in with these notes where applicable.]

One of my foundational points in what has turned out to be an ongoing readthrough of Marvel’s Secret Empire event is that I didn’t understand the strength of the backlash against Nazi Cap. My argument, initially, was that this was just another incarnation of a fairly stock comic book story, and not nearly worth the fuss it was eliciting.

After reading Secret Empire #3 and [NOTE: and 5 and 6], I have to walk that back: it’s barely even a story of its own, and not worth any fuss at all. But I can’t shake the feeling that the backlash itself is partly responsible for rendering this story so toothless.

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0:00-18:02: Greetings from Graeme McMillan and Jeff Lester!  It’s only a few seconds in when Graeme says, “Welcome to the Mellow Wait, What? Hour,” and although he’s only riffing on Jeff’s low-key opening…he’s kind of on the money!  (Although, y’know, not an hour, of course.)  Yes, *un*-strap your seatbelts as two semi-overworked dudes let down what’s left of their hair to talk comics with a certain je ne sais atténué.  We move quickly on to talk about the world of comics news, but there is a certain indolence there as well because, as Graeme puts it, “a lot of people are, to be honest, shitting themselves before San Diego.”  Discussed: supporting examples; the few announcements that have popped up, the lack of even embargoed news for Graeme to have up his sleeve; Previews Night; a thought experiment about what might have happened if DC had tried to do a prequel to Watchmen; and what happened to bookstore sales of Wonder Woman after being the biggest movie of the summer; and more.
18:02-29:27: By the way, if you’re Dan Coyle—and hopefully that is only applicable to one person and there’s not a small army of people using that monicker to snark at us in our website’s comments—our discussion of a conspiracy theory about Marvel’s role in keeping Wonder Woman from making any of the sales charts on Amazon leads to us both explicitly agreeing: Yes! Yes, we will talk about John Byrne’s run on Star Brand!  And then us being us, we go on to talk a bit about our memories of John Byrne’s Star Brand, the end of the New Universe (and Graeme being Graeme, he admits to having already just read what he’s just agreed to read), a sly serving of three way mid-80s beef, and more. But first! We talk a bit about digital buffet fatigue, the reduction of prices in the 2000AD online store (which Jeff can’t even think about too much or he will lose his mind and most of his most recent paycheck), and other sundries.  If you haven’t gotten the sense this is an even more meandering episode than usual, dear Whatnaut, hopefully the fact I just talked about stuff I remember us discussing before it even actually got mentioned in the logical order you would expect it in should give you a clue.
29:27-41:57: And here’s another clue: “Oh man, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe,” Graeme sighs,” what did you do to me?”  If you think that means we are going to tread on the edges of sacred House to Astonish ground and discuss both the Handbook and Who’s Who in the DCU, give yourself a cigar! A thirty-plus year old cigar! One inked by Josef Rubenstein! And then was pressed in a Tuska-era issue of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes! (Don’t worry, it will all make sense if you listen.)
41:57-58:12: “Ah, Graeme, do you want to talk about recent comics that you’ve read?” Graeme admits (not entirely accurately, as it will turn out) the only recent comics he’s read is Dark Days: The Casting by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, John Romita, Jr., Scott Williams, Klaus Janson, and Danny Miki (with Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper on colors)!  But should you be surprised when talk turns to which Super Powers action figures and which Secret Wars action figures each of us had? Probably not, no.
58:12-1:01:21: Want to hear Graeme recap the amazing “City of the Damned” storyline from Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files, Vol. 8?  If not, skip the section but hoo boy you will be missing out.  I *really* want to read this storyline now!
1:01:21-1:06:57: And then we’re back to talking about Dark Days: The Casting again!
1:06:57-2:01:02: And then Jeff wants to blab about the other recent comics he’s read because he thinks—possibly quite mistakenly—that would be something the listeners to this podcast might want to hear about:  Discussed:  Rocket #3 by Al Ewing and Adam Gorham; Suicide Squad #21 by Rob Williams and Gus Vasquez; Deathstroke #21 by Christopher Priest, Diogenes Neves, and Jason Paz; Batman #25 and #26 by Tom King and Mikel Janin;  Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #7 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack, which leads to a very long discussion/disagreement between Graeme and Jeff about who would be on a list of the best-selling/most reliable creators of the current generation of Image creators, with a lot of Graeme looking up sales figures and dates; Kill or Be Killed #10 by Brubaker and Phillips (and Elizabeth Breitweiser!); Rock Candy Mountain #4 (so good!) by Kyle Starks and part of an ongoing underlying conversation across these titles—why aren’t more good comics discussed as they go along? Are we *all* addicted to dissecting the next new thing?
2:01:02-2:08:11: Also read by Jeff: Motor Girl #1 by Terry Moore (“as if Greg Rucka was writing Angel & The Ape?” Well, kinda!); Wave, Listen To Me!, Vol. 1 by Hiroaki Samura; and some preliminary comments on Manga Poverty by Sato Shuho (translated by Dan Luffey).
2:08:11-2:22:15: Closing comments? No, not quite! Jeff wanted to correct an earlier misstatement of his from a few weeks back when he said that all episodes of Wait, What? are currently available on iTunes.  Turns out iTunes’ podcast lists top out at 300 so…happy tricentennial to us?  And also, though we tried to avoid doing our quickly-becoming-a-standard-shtick of complaing about Marvel: you guys did you see that damn t-shirt variant cover thing? What the hell?!
2:22:15-end: “I have, I’ve got to admit, really enjoyed this meandering episode,” announces Graeme.  “Because it really is so close to San Diego that this is exactly where my mind is at right now.” And with that—after some debate as to when we will return (spoilers: three weeks!), we move to..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.
In Three Weeks:  Wait, What?, Ep. 230 (or three hundred and something, but who’s counting?) Have a nice little summer break and come back and join us here in August!
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Previously on Baxter Building: The Thing is gone! She-Hulk is here to stay, despite topless sunbathing on the Baxter Building roof! And the series has brought on Jerry Ordway to ink John Byrne’s pencils, and the comic looks better than it has done in some time as a result. Which is a good thing, because what’s to come is pretty ugly, when it comes down to it.
0:00:00-0:07:45 After a Skype-enabled false start, Jeff and I get down to work analyzing what’s to come in Fantastic Four #s 278-284 — issues in which John Byrne definitely intends to make one, if not more, Serious Points About Things. (Not Ben Grimm, he’s still out the book.) The problem being, the execution doesn’t exactly follow through on the ambition. As Jeff puts it, “It’s not so much like he gave up, but…”

0:07:46-0:25:50: We get started with Fantastic Four #278, in which Doctor Doom returns (Kind of), but we’re far more interested in the fact that John Byrne apparently lost a bet and had to use the word “Remember” as often as humanly possible, the rewriting of Doctor Doom canon and an epilogue that only hints at the troublesome to come. But before we’re done with the issue, there’s one thing I really wanted to talk about…
0:25:51-0:33:31: …and that’s an editorial note in the letter column for the issue that is, essentially, a pre-emptive apology for the racism in this issue and the next one. Jeff and I talk about why the attempt at an explanation and defense ring hollow, and the ways in which this storyline wants to have its sensationalism and eat some holier-than-thou-ness, too.

0:33:32-0:54:57: FF #279 brings with it some anti-nostalgia for me; despite this being the first actual Fantastic Four issue I bought way back when, I really hate it in large part because of its overlong opening sequence. Jeff is far more understanding, although he wishes there had been more Doom, which isn’t an unfair criticism. We also talk about where this larger plot is going (or, as the case may be, not going), tease the Steve Englehart era, and get into why the Hate Monger plot is quite so ugly. (We keep talking about an X-Men issue when discussing this subject; we don’t say it in the episode, but it’s Uncanny X-Men #196, for those wanting to go track it down.)

0:54:58-1:15:32: Face it, true believers, Fantastic Four #280 has it all, as long as your definition of “it all” includes a surprisingly shoddy cover and some questionable stereotypes popping up as John Byrne attempts to build his “Oh No Men Are Racist But Especially When Aliens Are Involved” storyline. Jeff and I talk about all of that, the failure of Byrne to fulfill his own aims, the surprising (but welcome?) cowardliness of the issue when it comes to hate speech when compared with the previous two issues, the return of Reed Richards Patriarch At Large and, of course, the first appearance of Malice. Don’t forget: comics aren’t even for kids anymore.

1:15:33-1:29:45: There’s a lot to dislike about FF #281, including a horrific conclusion — that boots the end of the Hate Monger thread over to another comic entirely — and Reed Richards saving the day through being a misogynist. There’s also the fact that neither Reed nor Johnny recognize Sue when she’s being Malice (including, as Jeff points out, Johnny pointing out how hot this new villain is), Jeff and I talking about whether or not I’m reading too much into this plot being the culmination of a thread that started back when Sue had a miscarriage, and whether or not this entire storyline is trash. (Spoilers: It is.)

1:29:46-1:47:54: Considering everything ended with a big cliffhanger in the last issue, Fantastic Four #282 has to start with excitement right out the gate, right? Or, you know, a multi-page, mostly silent dream sequence for Franklin that is basically an advertisement for Power Pack. That John Byrne! Always zigging when you expect him to zag, or perhaps provide a coherent reading experience that doesn’t ask you to read multiple other comic books! Jeff did his homework and explains what happened in Secret Wars II as it relates to this issue, while I come up with conspiracy theories and we discuss whether it’s easier to get to the Microverse in a hot water bottle or a hip flask. Oh, and the mullet. The mullet.

1:47:55-2:08:36: Talking about FF #s 283 and 284 somewhat run together, as we run out of both time and patience with the storyline when it hurtles towards its conclusion, but there’s still stuff to talk about here — including a dream sequence for Sue that might be the most interesting thing in this entire episode, and provide a key as to how Byrne sees the character, and also Byrne’s horrendous treatment of She-Hulk that pretty much undercuts whatever larger point he was trying to make around Sue in the first place. (One of the sad things about the fact that we were tired at this point is that neither Jeff nor I pointed out that Sue’s Nightmare Reed talks very much like the real Reed did when trying to break the Malice persona, interestingly enough.) Also, given that Byrne purposefully leaves out what Sue actually did to Psycho-Man, we come up with a couple of possible, if somewhat unlikely, alternatives. (Spoilers: the Malice costume comes into play more than might be expected here.)
2:08:37-end: So, how were these issues overall? According to Jeff, they make “for some really distressing reading,” which… doesn’t feel like that much of an overstatement, to be honest. We look ahead to the issues we’ll be covering in the next Baxter Building — #285-295, which finish off Byrne’s run — with some trepidation, while trying to work out why we both kind of enjoyed this episode’s reading despite knowing better. If you don’t want to join us on that particular emotional journey, perhaps you should check out our Twitter, Tumblr and Patreon instead, or simply tune back in next month for the end of another era. Until then, as always, thanks for listening and reading.

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0:00-4:10: Greetings from Graeme “Nathan Detroit” McMillan and Jeff “Nicely-Nicely Johnson” Lester!  Yes, you know you’re in for a weird one when the very first topic right out of the gate is Guys & Dolls, and who’s seen it and who hasn’t?  But that’s only as an opening to Graeme’s desire to become a chicken farmer?  We use our title catch phrase a little too often around these parts, but….huh?
4:10-12:20: From farming and growing chicken to comics and…Howard Chaykin?  Yes.  Graeme did that. And so we talk about the cover controversy to Divided States of Hysteria #4.  And we move from that to talk about the XXX covers from Image, the upcoming “hardcore” cover to Savage Dragon #225 posted in censored version by Erik Larsen, about which Graeme so rightly says, “[Larsen] doing it at the same time as the Chaykin thing is amazing.  Like, Image would not respond to comment, but the Image founder is like “You guys!  Savage Dragon’s got his dick out!”
12:20-46:45: To which Jeff ruefully replies, “Oh man, it’s going to be our dick out episode.  This is…really depressing.”  (For a good laugh, play Graeme’s “is it?” at 12:25 and chortle at his obvious terror.  Maybe it’s just me, but it gets progressively funnier the more you listen to it.)  But this is because Jeff just read more or less side-by-side volume one of Stjepan Šejić’s Sunstone, and the first fifty pages of Volume 2 of The Complete Crepax…and so has two erotic comics with a similar lifestyle (BDSM) at their core but two very different ways of looking at same.  Also discussed:  Adam Warren’s very excellent Empowered, Menage a 3 and the brilliant cartooning of Gisele Lagace (with a very on-topic digression from Graeme about her excellent work on Archie Meets The Ramones);  the *very explicit* Alfie by InCase, the classic Oh Joy Sex Toy by Erika Moen, and more.
46:45-1:01:05: It’s a little tough to explain from how we get from there to Jeff asking, “Where is the money in comics, Graeme?  Is there money in comics? How will we ever know, essentially?” Discussed: Erika Moen’s Patreon posts (well, actually her husband Matt’s posts) about money, the very enlightening Patreon posts by Lucy Bellwood about money, Patrick Zircher’s Patreon, Lady Sabre and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether by Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett; Kieron Gillen’s very enlightening post about making money at Image; Todd Allen’s observation that The Walking Dead is the #2 Bestselling Ongoing Title in All of Comics; and more but…
1:01:05-1:03:13: There’s a very ridiculous form of the patented Wait, What? Techpocalypse as Jeff accidentally tugs his headset out of the USB port with his big, ridiculous feet.  This leads to figure out how many times we’ve had the dreaded “we were talking but Skype was not recording” nightmarish situation that has happened once or twice (three times, we think!).  Fortunately, it did not happen this time!
1:03:13-1:17:00: Back to money, comics, and if the quite accomplished No Mercy by Alex De Campi and the brilliant Carla “Speed” McNeil ever charted on the Top 300 comics. Also discussed: the piteous working conditions in Anime; the sample work schedule of a manga artist; Fox Films buying a significant part of Boom! Entertainment; and more.
1:17:00-1:42:36: And from there, it’s time for what Graeme hilariously calls “an update on the Marvel Legacy grumping from last week.” Discussed:  a retailer call with Marvel where retailers were stunned into silence by what Marvel Legacy is going to be; our attempt to try and figure out how many Marvel characters can actually return; the amazing Marvel Legacy bullet point list; Tom Brevoort making the argument that the only reason there’s no Fantastic Four book is because the FF don’t sell; and… Batman/Elmer Fudd #1 by Tom King and Lee Weeks? How’d thatget there?
1:42:36-2:24:36: Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert’s Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1!  We said we’d talk about it.  But first! Jeff was supposed to read all of John Byrne’s run on Alpha Flight. He only made it through the first ten. Listen to him complain about it here. And *then* we talk about Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1.  Discussed: that first issue and the Goran Parlov back-up, change and the illusion of change, Marvel and DC and the cyclical nature of reboots and why that might be easier for DC to pull off than Marvel, and then….more complaining about John Byrne’s Alpha Flight!  Oh, sweet, sweet complaining!  And then one of us finally thinks to check the time and it’s….
2:24:36-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 Ep. 31!  Covering Fantastic Four issues #278-284 by John Byrne.  It’s just next week!
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00:00-55:05: Greetings! But then, in under thirty seconds, Jeff drags us into the state of Marvel Comics because he knows Graeme has some thoughts on the Marvel Legacy “comic book industry changing” announcement of Friday, which involved 51 comics announced across six different websites, the social media accounts of their PR people, the occasional PR mailing and via the game-changing, high-density-information tool of …animatedGIFs, you guys! Yes, what better way to communicate plans about your much-needed initiative than the very tool most of us on Twitter use to make our “I can’t even” tweets seem interesting?    It’s a very big conversation that, if nothing else, feels like we’re a little more worried about Marvel’s future than Marvel is?  Anyway, be prepared because, as Graeme puts it, “I apologize, because I’m about to complain *a lot*!” Also discussed:  the 51 titles announced and the one missing title; our dim memories of Spirits of Vengeance; the “innocence” of Marvel Two-In-One and Marvel Team-Up; homework; whether or not anyone is really calling for Marvel management to leave; a related digression about the perception of digital comics, digital trades, and Marvel’s recent digital fire sale on Amazon; bewilderment; terror; suffering; etc.
 
55:05-1:00:54:  But we got you through all that so we could get to this: comic books!  Sweet, sweet comic books!  First up: Graeme is very enthusiastic about The Complete Sabrina the Teenage Witch: 1962-1971 (Sabrina’s Spellbook), a book he describes in a way that reminds Old Man Jeff of a scene from The Big Chill that either isn’t on Youtube (because Jeff’s too old) or Jeff can’t find on Youtube (because Jeff’s too old).  Too bad, Jeff!   Graeme also likes the back-up story by Tony Bedard & Ben Caldwell back-up for the Wonder Woman/Tasmanian Devil one-shot. (The joke from the Bugs Bunny/LOSH joke also sounds pretty great.)
 
1:00:54-1:04:57: Speaking of DC’s “comic” books, Jeff wants to talk about the final issue of The Flintstones by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh.  We’re going to miss this book.
1:04:57-1:22:55: And then….Jeff has more stuff he needs to get off his chest about Tom King’s Batman, Yes, those of you paying attention will not be surprised to see our podcast’s ongoing subplot of 2017 arise yet again!  And yet this probably will be the very last take on it for some time (God willing!) as Jeff talks about reading the first two trades, “I Am Gotham” and “I Am Suicide,” looking at “The Brave and the Mold” issue, the Bat Hound storyline, and having a rough outline of an epiphany while reading those in light of his recent reading of Bob Haney’s Brave And The Bold issues.
1:22:55-1:43:41: And the flipside of this, but also related in Jeff’s mind is his very recent read of Doom Patrol: Brick by Brick Vol.1 by Gerard Way and Nick Derington.  On the one hand, Jeff feels like Way is striking a great balance between being respectful of the characters and using them as a way to talk about and embody other experiences…but Jeff is also a little vexed by the way some of the more traditionally important tasks of fiction writing are handled. By contrast, Graeme has *a lot* of love for the book, and confesses to being unable to be objective about it at all.  Leading to some metacritical talk about criticism, subjectivity, and objectivity.
1:43:41-2:06:10: And to drag in another layer to this, Jeff read Manga In Theory and Practice by Hirohiko Araki, creator of the *amazing* JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and wants to not only talk about some of the practices Araki discusses in that book, but also the conflict and challenge of reading in translation the works of a cartoonist from a very different culture.
2:06:10-2:11:21: And! Jeff has read volume 1 of Golden Kamuy by Satoru Noda and it was rad.  (Even with  the fucked up thing that keeps happening to Viz’s digital manga recently.)  Is it possibly the best bear-punching comic ever?  A controversial statement, we know….but Jeff loves this book.
2:11:21-2:22:49: And and!  Jeff also really loved the book My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi. Also discussed: Jeff’s new iPad, Comixology, GoodReader, and The Leopard of Lime Street (a.k.a. an early British attempt to do Spider-Man)….which leads us into some preliminary comments about both the Clone Conspiracy trade and Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 by Chip Zdarsky, Adam Kubert, and (holy cow) Goran Parlov.
2:22:49-end:  Closing comments, but first a big shout-out to the fine folk at 2000 A.D. for putting a pull-quote from Graeme from this very podcast on Judge Anderson: Year One! 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?, Episode 228!!
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Previously on Baxter Building: Technically, last time we covered a few years’ worth of annuals, but in terms of the monthly comic book, John Byrne has settled into a comfortable rut of retro attitude and safe, if enjoyable, storytelling. Anyone expecting that to change this time out will be disappointed. Just saying.

0:00:00-0:07:12: Welcome back to the show that never ends, dear Whatnauts. (Or, at least, won’t end until we’ve reached the final issue of this volume, and that’s aways away yet.) This time around, we’re covering Fantastic Four #s 271-277, a run of issues that prompts Jeff to consider just what writer/artist John Byrne is trying to do with the series, and why it isn’t better than it actually is. Is it a failure of ambition, talent, or both?

0:07:13-0:23:58: From there, we jump straight into FF #271 and the horror of Sue’s mullet, which Jeff believes fails to conform to the truest definition of the mullet form. Thankfully, there are other things to distract us from the follicle horror, including the undiscovered secret of Johnny Storm’s powers, the unknown wealth in Reed Richards’ family, and how much fun it can be to see Byrne channel 1950s monster comics in a flashback. All this, and a revelation about Reed Richards’ health that will… not be followed up on in future issues! Truly, this is the age of Mighty Marvel Forgetfulness!

0:23:59-0:40:27: Fantastic Four #272 causes a schism as Jeff is left utterly cold and I am, well, warmer than lukewarm, at least. (I actually like the issue a bunch.) We talk about the ways in which Byrne is an unapologetic thief of other people’s ideas, iconography and images, as well as the strange mix of disappointment and potential that is Nathaniel Richards, and what that means for the parentage of the Fantastic Four as a whole. (Oh, and we digress a little about Byrne as artist, inspired by a note he writes to the readers warning that he’s about to start experimenting with his pencils. Spoilers: He doesn’t really.) Despite all of this, Jeff is adamant on the fact that the comic isn’t fun, because he likes, like, good comics or something.

0:40:28-1:00:58: You know what isn’t a good comic? That would be FF #273, which closes out this trilogy with an especially subpar issue. What’s the blame? Maybe it’s the terrible lettering, provided by Byrne himself, although it’s far more likely to be the fact that even John Byrne can’t seem to bring himself to be interested in the story he’s telling here. “It’s amazing how much Byrne stops giving a shit,” Jeff says, and he’s not wrong. Nonetheless, we give some conversation the old college try, with Byrne’s potential desire to be a “fun cartoonist” and the actual, real history of the world. Oh, and this comes up, as unlikely as it seems:

All this, and a return of Jeff’s “shadow self” theory, but this time it’s not about Reed. Will wonders never cease? Actually, just wait until the next issue.

1:00:59-1:10:39: You can tell how interested Jeff and I are about Fantastic Four #274 — which I call “what can only be described as John Byrne’s weird attempt to try and raise sales of The Thing” — by the fact that we barely actually talk about the comic, which is to all intents and purposes a Thing story in the wrong title, instead spending time on Thing continuity around this time in general. But at least Jeff likes the art — this is the first of two issues inked by Al Gordon — even though I am unconvinced by his Barry Windsor-Smith comparison.

1:10:40-1:28:03: The infamous FF #275 sees the true, as Jeff puts it, Victorian nature of John Byrne come out: not only is this the “She-Hulk photographed topless on the roof of the Baxter Building” issue — a plot that is, to be kind, more than a little flimsy and tripped up by Byrne’s own objectification of She-Hulk — it’s also the issue where the true horror of Alicia’s Cursed Vagina of Shame is revealed, as Johnny and Alicia talk about their night before in an especially cringeworthy scene. There’s much discussion over the Alicia/Johnny pairing, and whether or not we buy it. Spoilers: we don’t.

1:28:04-1:39:20: Running out of steam, we tackle Fantastic Four #s 276 and 277 pretty much together, which is mostly all that they deserve. Ostensibly a two-parter, there’s a lot of strange going on here, including the fact that the Thing’s return to Earth is covered in half of one issue that also happens to be a crossover with ROM Spaceknight (“Who gives a shit?” asks Jeff, which surely prompts at least one ROM fan to declare, “I do!”), and a Reed and Sue plot that goes nowhere not particularly entertainingly despite a Doctor Strange cameo. It’s not all bad, though; there’s a fun bunch of newspaper strip cameos, and the arrival of Jerry Ordway on inks is something that both Jeff and I find a great boon to the book’s look in general. Overall, though, things have been so much better. Is this the shape of things to come…?

1:39:21-end: We wrap things up by looking ahead to what we’ll be covering next episode — FF #278-284 — and, en route to wrapping things up, take an entirely unexpected detour to discussing the roll-out of the first series of X-Factor and the way it was promoted. Quite how that happened, I have no idea. As you try to work that out, think about visiting our Tumblr, Twitter and Patreon, and know that you have our thanks, as ever, for listening and reading. Next week: Back to normal with a regular Wait, What?!

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0:00-2:02: Greetings! Jeff’s asthma is acting up!  Graeme has either forgotten or eschewed the word “example!” It’s another episode of your favorite comic podcast where the words “favorite” and “comic” are both suspect, and only “podcast” can be taken for granted. (Unless “podcast” implies some level of technical proficiency, in which case it’s *all* up for grabs!)
2:02-11:05: It seems to us like it’s been a million years since we’ve done one of these?  (It’s only been two weeks if you’re keeping track?)  Is that because Graeme has read so many Wonder Woman comics in the last week as a lead-up to the release of the new movie? It’s not clear, but it is a great excuse to talk about Wonder Woman comics, as Jeff asks Graeme to summarize his findings from reading that much Amazonian Princess in that short a time.  Much discussion of Greg Rucka’s recent revision of the Wonder Woman origin ensues.

11:05-18:58: And then since Graeme has also seen Wonder Woman, the movie (but Jeff has not), there is a spoiler-free discussion wherein Graeme talks about the movie and what he thought.
18:58-39:57: And here is where Jeff’s ulterior motive makes itself known—what is the worst superhero movie? Can we agree on one?  And if not, can we at least talk about how terrible Green Lantern is?  Because talking about Green Lantern is like talking about that time you got horribly stomach-sick at your cousin’s wedding: painful and embarrassing at the time (almost to the point of genuine humiliation), but kind of hilarious to reminisce about. (hashtag I’m sorry Cousin Burt.)
39:57-47:42: Awkward segue here in that if you start on this segment you catch Graeme at the tail end of his thought about those superhero movies that were clearly compromised by reshoots, and then goes on to talk about the curious situation of the Justice League movie, now that Zach and Deborah Snyder have stepped away from the film for very good personal reasons.  Is Justice League so messy that it will be in a way, critic proof? Will any good thing coming out of the movie now being credited to Joss Whedon?
47:42-1:00:16: And for a very different kind of DC superhero movie, Jeff recommends you check out Batman & Bill, a documentary available on Hulu about the crusade to get Bill Finger the recognition he deserves.  Even if you know the contours of the story, it’s a documentary that has some very satisfying twists and turns in it.  It’s well worth a watch, sez Jeff.  But how exactly does that lead into us discussing the comic book career of Gene Simmons?  Well, you’ll have to listen to find out, but we apologize nevertheless.  (Also, as someone who has edited over two hundred of these damned things, I don’t think we’ve ever done what we do starting just scant milliseconds before the 54:47 mark!)
1:00:16-1:13:19: “Graeme McMillan, I have to say this is a very odd installment of our podcast,” announces Jeff, who is not just whistling Dixie (which is an expression us olds use and I am only now thinking I should google and ensure the saying’s origins weren’t something egregiously racist).  (Still not sure!)
Anyway, that’s beside the point which I guess is: what the fuck is Marvel doing with their sale on digital trade paperbacks on Amazon?  (Apologies if that link isn’t active—it seems my Amazon links are a little sketchy when it comes to general sections, as opposed to specific products.) Discussed:  Seriously, what the fuck?
1:13:19-1:19:09:  “When you said we haven’t even talked about Marvel,” Graeme more or less replies fifteen minutes later, “I thought you were going to talk about the revival of Runaways.”  “Is that something you’re interested in, Graeme?” Jeff asks diplomatically.  Discussed: the revival of Runaways.
1:19:09-1:40:24: Jeff wants to talk about the comics he has read. First up: Deadpool: Bad Blood by Rob Liefeld, Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, and Romulo Fajaroo, Jr. with a very special musical interlude!  Also discussed: the first three issues of the current X-O Manowar run by Matt Kindt, Tomás Giorello, and Diego Rodriguez; the most recent few issues of Deathstroke by Priest, Hama, Pagulayan, Bennett, and others. Caution: includes SPOILERS for the wrap-up of the Lazarus Contract (in Teen Titans Annual #1, I want to say?).
1:40:24-1:44:29: Another book Jeff (re-) read recently and would like blab about for a spell:  Punisher: Born by Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson, Tom Palmer, and Paul Mounts.  Frank Castle’s final days in Vietnam?! What’s not to like about that?
1:44:29-1:48:59: Also read!  Spencer & Locke #1 by David Pepose, Jorge Santiago, Jr., and Jasen Smith! It’s Calvin & Hobbes meets Sin City!
1:48:59-1:52:10: The most recent issues of Moon Knight (#11-14) by Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, and Jordie Bellaire!
1:52:10-1:55:55: 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #4 by Matthew Rosenberg, Tyler Boss, and Clare Dezutti! Jeff liked it, but you kind of can’t tell through all the complaining!
1:55:55-2:00:28: Et cetera!  Including this.

2:00:28-2:05:39: Graeme does a terrible thing! A cross-examination about what Graeme is like in bars! And then…
2:05:39-end:  Closing comment!  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.
In two weeks:  Baxter Building Ep. 30!  Covering Fantastic Four issues #271-277 by John Byrne.  Join us in 14!
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0:00-16:42: Greetings! Although after a bit of appreciation for people’s clarification of the first appearance of Black Bolt’s full name, we downshift to a more subdued discussion about the passing of artist Rich Buckler, a fact we learned about approximately an hour before recording. Jeff was a big fan of the man in his prime, Graeme has a reawakened appreciation for Buckler during his DC era, and we take a time to talk about  our knowledge of the man’s work, an appreciation of his skill and talent, and a certain amount of wondering about what might’ve happened if Buckler had entered the field just a few years.  RIP, Mr. Buckler.
16:42-28:24: And somewhere in there we start talking about some of the lost indie publishers of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the popularity of dudes like Gerber and Englehart and McGregor, and the continuing brain boggler that is Chris Claremont’s unlikely triumph as the most popular and influential creator of the era.
28:24-1:20:59: And then there were technical difficulties! And then we keep talking more about Claremont! Plus: the rise and fall into obscurity of creators over the years; the amazing work of Margaret Millar and its return to print; whether or not Fantastic Four is returning during Marvel Legacy; the cancellation of Black Panther and The Crew, and a lot of speculative discussion about Marvel generally; what Marvel and DC are doing for Kirby’s hundredth birthday; and much, much more.

1:20:59-1:45:16: Here’s the part where we talk about why we’ve been too busy to sit down and just read comics!  Also, a discussion of our current TV obsession and the things we will or won’t do to get it, a certain trepidation over the return of Twin Peaks, and more.
1:45:16-1:58:00: But somehow! We manage to return to the topic of comics and the few that we’ve read recently!  (Always nice to hear in a comic book podcast, I’ve been told.)  Graeme runs us through the new X-O Man of War series by Matt Kindt and Thomas Giorello; Immortal Brothers: Tale of the Green Knight by Fred Van Lente and Cary Nord; Swordquest by Chad Bowers, Chris Sim and Scott Kowalchuk; Vampirella by Paul Cornell and Jimmy Broxton; The Sovereigns by Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins, Johnny Desjardins, and Jorge Fornes; and The Greatest Adventure by Bill Willingham and Cezar Rezak (with covers by Cary Nord).
1:58:00-2:22:21:  And in case you care what Jeff has been reading, he runs through his list very quickly:  amazing old issues of The Brave & The Bold by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo;  Interviews with Monster Girls Vol. 2 by Petos; ‘Namwolf #1 by Fabian Rangel Jr. and Logan Faerber (with another shout-out to Kyle Starks’ Rock Candy Mountain); Vol. 1 of Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca; Darth Maul #1 by Cullen Bunn and Luke Ross; America #1 by Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones; and Medisin #1 by Jeff Dyer, Mark McKeon, and David Brame.  Jeff also read a lot of Deathstroke recently, and promises to talk about that on a future episode.
2:22:21-2:25:50:  And in a future episode, Graeme really wants to talk about Tom King’s Batman.  “It’s giving me the feels, Jeff,” Graeme confesses and goes on to lay down the bones of what he’s interested (SPOILERS for the end of The Button), leaving us hardly any place to go but to…
2:25:50-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:  Skip week!  Read some comics, and join us back here in two weeks, won’t you?
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