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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Previously on Baxter Building: As Walt Simonson’s run on Fantastic Four continued, Jeff and I continued to get disillusioned with Walt Simonson’s run on Fantastic Four. Or, at least, I did; Jeff was never particularly illusioned to begin with. It’s very possible that the teenage me who first read these comics was easily distracted by (admittedly amazing) artwork.

0:00:00-0:04:23: And so we return and begin again, introducing the issues we’re talking about this episode — Fantastic Four #350-355, AKA the final Simonson issues and two fill-ins — and once again, fail to get quite as excited about them as Whatnauts would like us to be. (I’m sorry. Honest.)

0:04:24-0:40:39: Fantastic Four #350 resolves a plot line that many had probably forgotten about — which Doom will rule Latveria? — in a manner that’s at once bold, exciting and endlessly frustrating, sending Jeff and I off on a discussion about what might be one of the most annoying issues of the entire Simonson run, on a number of levels. What price continuity? What price not putting in passive aggressive digs at other creators? We get into both questions, as well as quite how cool new Doctor Doom is, and quite how dumb this issue turned out to be. The discussion also includes, unexpectedly, towards Simonson’s weakness when it comes to drawing Sue Richards, but there are things that we like about it too, really. Also included: Is Baxter Building formally unkind to writers coming in and trying something new?

 

0:40:40-0:54:57: The clash between Doom and the FF continues in Fantastic Four #352 — we’ll get to #351 eventually, it’s a fill-in — and the formal play of the time-traveling issue manages to win us over for a while, even if I remain hung up on the portrayal of certain characters. But formalist play in such a heavy dose? No wonder Jeff says that it’s a “stunning issue” with complete reverence. Is this the first Simonson issue that passes the Lester test?!?

0:54:58-1:10:09: The discussion strays into an area of how I respond to these issues now, compared with when I first read them, and how strongly nostalgia plays into the appeal of them in general… which itself leads into a conversation about whether the Simonson run really counts as one of the top Fantastic Four eras, and if so, what that says about the series — and the concept — as a whole. (Spoilers: Not good things, really.)

1:10:10-1:23:23: We get back on track by going through FF #353, in which Mark Gruenwald stands revealed as the villain behind the entire thing and Jeff and I struggle with whether or not formal playfulness and nice artwork can make up for shoddy writing, and consider whether or not this storyline was an inspiration for Alan Moore, of all people. But at least things end with a cliffhanger that isn’t even convincing for a second. It really does look great, though, especially the new new look Thing.

1:23:24-1:37:37: Fantastic Four #354 brings the end of the Walter Simonson era, and he goes out with a whimper that references Back to the Future Part III and has Jeff and I wondering if an alien is D.R., Quinch or Bug from Micronauts. Also, is there a not-so-hidden Excalibur reference in here, and what the hell is going on with the FF stripping down at the end of the issue? It’s… definitely an end to Simonson’s run, at least.

1:37:38-1:49:19: A brief look back at Simonson’s run brings up my (mistaken?) belief that these comics somehow predict Grant Morrison’s JLA a handful of years later, and we compare the two, with Jeff unpicking my thought process and coming up with better reasons for it to make sense — as much as it makes sense — and ways in which the comparison falls down. We also, very briefly, touch on whether Simonson’s Fantastic Four has made us want to (re-)read his Thor any more or less.

1:49:20-2:03:09: After exhausting ourselves on almost two hours’ worth of conversation about four comics — I don’t even think we talked about Lee and Kirby issues to this length — we gloss over Fantastic Four #s 351 and 355, both fill-in issues and both lacking even by the standards of what’s surrounding them, although Jeff and I surprised ourselves with a newfound appreciation of the artwork of Al Milgrom in #355, accompanying a story that is genuinely incredible, and not in a good way.

2:03:10-end: We wrap things up by announcing what we’re reading next — Fantastic Four Annual #s 19, 22-24 — and reminding everyone about the Twitter, Tumblr and Patreon of it all. As always, thank you for listening, and as with the last few episodes, we’re sorry we didn’t like Simonson as much as either of us wanted. (Although, judging by Jeff’s “I told you so”s this episode, maybe Jeff’s not that sorry…)

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0:00-17:52: Greetings! We have a bit of catch up to do, but not to worry, we quickly transition into a ‘Baxter Building’ supplement as we discuss our feelings about Walt Simonson’s run on Fantastic Four as expressed in our most recent Baxter Building ep,, and Whatnauts’ feelings about our feelings, and yet more discussion about Simonson’s run.  How does Grant Morrison’s Judge Dredd  story “Inferno”  play into this?  You’ll just have to listen to find out!
17:52-55:43: As our talk about how we re-experience comics continues, Graeme asks Jeff about his experience re-reading old Master of Kung-Fu issues via the digital Epic collection.  We talk about Englehart, Starlin, Milgrom, Wilson, Gulacy, and Moench.  But, first! We talk about Marvel’s crazy ongoing digital sale—which had just returned in full-force at the time we recorded—since that’s how Jeff bought that Epic collection.
55:43-1:20:53: Wow, so yeah almost a first full hour talking about all of the above.  As we mention on the episode, Jeff made a little list of talking points in advance since it’d been such a long time since we recorded.  Here’s where we get to item #7 on that list (no, we didn’t go in order):  “Oh my god, the Justice League movie.”
1:20:53-1:41:27: And here’s Jeff’s segue out of that discussion:  “Speaking of things we can’t quite remember….Metal #6!”  Discussed: Metal #6.
1:41:27-1:54:01: Where do we go from there?  Why not Item #2:  “Amazingly lousy Morbius stories.” Jeff summarizes some of the stuff he’s read in Marvel’s Vampire Tales Vol. 1 collection.
1:54:01-1:56:22:  Item #5:  “Incredible Doom, this indy comic [Jeff] found on Comixology.”
1:56:22-2:10:33: Item #6: “the sixteen volumes of this insane sex manga [Jeff] read.”  Discussed: S and M by Mio Murao.
2:10:33-2:28:02: And the last item on the list—Jeff and Graeme talk a bit about Jeff’s dad passing, about comic books, and about dads and comic books.
2:28:02-end: “Graeme, what’s next?” Jeff asks.  “Do you know when we’re back?”  Also known as:  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, as a certain Eisner judge heads to San Diego!  But the week after that, we will be back with another Baxter Building discussing Fantastic Four #350-355.  Join us, won’t you?
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Previously on Baxter Building: Walter Simonson took on Marvel’s first family, and Jeff was… not impressed. Worse, after re-reading the issues through eyes that were more critical than nostalgic, neither was I. And those were the good issues…!

 

0:00:00-0:05:17: We open with a brief introduction about the issues we’re covering this episode, as well as the strong response to the last episode and whether or not Jeff is gaslighting me. I am blinking noticeably, please tell me you can see this.

0:05:18-0:18:01: How much do we love Fantastic Four #342? Perhaps the answer is obvious from the amount of time we spend on it, although the 13 minutes is actually significantly longer than this bizarre fill-in deserves, as might be obvious when you realize it’s basically a cover version of the John Byrne Secret Wars II crossover about the little kid who sets himself on fire, but with more super villainy and a guest-starring role from Rusty Collins, the character no-one liked from X-Factor (or, in Jeff’s mind, an obscure sex act). Really, it’s kind of a surprise we managed that long, really.

0:18:02-0:46:26: Walt Simonson returns for FF #343-344, aka, “Nukebusters!!!” and “Nukebusters II,” which Jeff recaps with impressive brevity, even if I think he’s being far too harsh about the comics themselves. We talk about the unbearable lightness of plotting, DC’s Challengers of the Unknown and whether or not Simonson would rather be writing that book — as well as whether or not that would’ve made Jeff like these comics more — and the most pressing question of all: What is with Simonson’s interest in Sue’s middle and using that as a foreground object in panel layout? Plus! We discuss Art Thibert’s inking, and I keep saying his name as if it was Thilbert, with an L. There is no L. I am an idiot.

0:46:27-1:13:11: Discussion of Fantastic Four #345-346 follows, and if I disagreed with Jeff’s complaints about the writing of the previous two issues, I couldn’t here; there are amazingly slight, speedy reads where the biggest stumbling point is the utter mischaracterization of Shary, although Jeff has an interesting take on just why she suddenly wants to stay human instead of a Thing, despite what Steve Englehart spent a long time telling us. But what about the dinosaurs, I hear you ask? It’s a Walt Simonson comic with dinosaurs! Doesn’t that alone make it particularly excellent…? Well, maybe…? Yet, somehow, Jeff and I were more impressed with the sight of Reed Richards shooting a gun. Maybe we’re doing this wrong.

1:13:12-1:38:59: Talking about doing it wrong, FF #347-349 is the fan-favorite “New Fantastic Four” storyline that sees Art Adams come in as guest artist, and Spider-Man, Wolverine, Ghost Rider and the Hulk come in as a guest Fantastic Four, and it leaves us pretty cold. There’s a story that doesn’t really make that much sense, repeats plot points that have literally happened less than a year before, and seems the work of a particularly disengaged Simonson, while I make my attempt to steal Jeff’s title of Most Hated Whatnaut by admitting that Adams’ art makes for some bad comics. I’m very sorry. (Not really.)

1:39:00-1:53:11: We segue into looking back at the eight issues we covered — really, just the Simonson-written ones — and talk about, basically, why they’re not working for us. Does Simonson not have the humility or the interest for the series? Has he forgotten that it’s a team book about multiple characters? Could he simply be — gasp! — not a great writer? (The problem obviously isn’t his artwork; he’s Walter fucking Simonson. I think we’ve talked more about the art in this series since he started than since Kirby was on the book.)

1:53:12-end: We wrap things up talking about what we’re going to be reading for the next Baxter Building (#350-356) and being very vague about when the next Wait, What? is; it’s actually going to be next week, unless disaster strikes. Until then, you can find us, as usual, on Twitter, Tumblr and Patreon. Apologies for the lateness of the show notes — a combination of me being later than I wanted and then the site being down because of reasons I don’t fully understand, to be honest — and thank you, as ever, for reading and listening.

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