0:00-10:43: Greetings! For the third time or so?! A lot of problems we talk about briefly and then move right into the horrifying heat wave that moved through San Francisco, Graeme’s sympathy (or lack thereof), Jeff’s grumpiness (and hyper-abundance thereof), and more.
10:43-39:49:  But let’s move on to comic book-related stuff, if your definition of such things is generous enough to include the Imax screenings of The Inhumans and even more carping about The Defenders TV show.  (Yes, really!)
39:49-59:53: Moving from that and the reaction to our Star Brand readthrough, Jeff wants to wax rhapsodic about the sublime My Pretty Vampire by Katie Skelly, and the absurd Werewolf by Night Omnibus by Gerry Conway and Mike Ploog (at least at the point Jeff is at, anyway).  But perhaps by discussing the two subjects too closely together, Jeff runs the risk of sounding like he’s doing the whole “these indy creators are terrific, but think how great they could be if only they were toiling away with no rights for corporate owned IP!”  (Which is not where he meant to go with that, at all.)  Also discussed:  Dastardly & Muttley #1, the end of Secret Empire, and the very delightful Spider-Gwen #23 by Hannah Blumenreich and Jordan Gibson.
59:53-1:26:41: Speaking of idiosyncratic Marvel titles, Graeme, the recommendation of Jeff and others, went and checked out the most recent issues of The Unbelievable Gwenpool by Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru.  And he’s got some questions for Jeff, first and foremost is: “why do you like this?”  Ulp.  Also discussed:  Gwenpool, Animal Man, The Punisher, plus a bit at the end about Spy Seal.
1:26:41-02:02:23: And then it’s time for a lively round of Graeme Has A Thought Experiment (That Jeff Reacts To Like It’s A Trap)!  This time out:  “How would you feel if 2000 A.D. gave Halo Jones to someone else?”  Discussed:  Marvelman/Miracleman, Watchmen, Doomsday Clock, Omega The Unknown, the late capitalism comfort matrix, and more.
2:02:23-02:18:32:  Jeff has been dying to say a few words about Metal #1 by Scotty Snyder and Greg Capullo—not just for the majority of this episode but for weeks.  RANT MODE ENGAGED (although it’s really more of a conversation because Graeme himself also has some things to say and some excellent points).
02:18:32-2:25:08: Other things we’ve been waiting to discuss and keep forgetting to:  Graeme really liked Fred Van Lente’s 10 Dead Comedians, a very witty and clever take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None!  Jeff is very grateful he took Graeme’s recommendation and read Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks by Brad Dukes, and is very sad he won’t be able to buy for Graeme the Men Drawstring Waist Twin Peaks Owl Cave Map Shorts for Men!
2:25:08-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. 233!  Due to Jeff’s semi-annual pilgrimage, it will be up later than usual—look for it by Thursday, September 14!

 

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It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these. In that time I read Secret Empire #9, Captain America #25, and Secret Empire #10, which wraps up the main thrust of the event. They were…uninspiring, at best. (I also read all of the U.S.Avengers tie-in issues, which were absolutely great in all the ways the main books weren’t–fun and thoughtful and character-driven and interesting. Graeme covered some of why over on the tumblr, if you’re curious, but it feels outside my whiny, dreary remit here.)

I’ve made a bunch of complaints about the series here before, and I don’t feel particularly compelled to just repeat them in a general sense. Instead, I’ll point at a few specific examples from issues #9-10 that seemed particularly disappointing.

First, though: I came into Secret Empire by way of trying to understand what had people so worked up about Hydra Captain America, which we all–including most of the people who objected to HydraCap–knew was going to be reversed. Now that we’ve seen the ending of that story, the outcry seems even more pointless to me. It was a toothless version of a familiar trope, resolved even more toothlessly, barely worthy of acknowledgement by the book’s readers, let alone by outside critics.

But enough about that, for now. On to some more concrete issues, after the jump. (TOTAL SPOILERS, obviously.)

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0:00-50:13: Greetings! We are right into it because we have a lot to talk about! Because Dan Coyle demanded it, we are going to talk about the entire run of Star Brand from the 1980s.  But first!  Jeff has to talk about The Defenders. the eight episode miniseries on Netflix that is the culmination of Marvel and Netflix’s strategy for the last three years.  Full spoilers as Jeff vents, decries,  and bemoans the experience.  SPOILERS for the full series as we discuss not only it, but the two seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, a little bit of Iron Fist, the Inhumans IMAX flick, and even the Punisher trailer (see above).

50:13-1:03:11: Also, on Netflix: an American adaptation of genuine manga classic Death Note directed by Adam Wingard!  While less worthy of Jeff’s ire, it has some very interesting adaptation choices he cannot stop fixating on, and so I guess it seemed like a really good idea to share with you here?  (It beats livetweeting, I guess?)  (Lakeith Stanfield, tho!)
1:03:11-2:09:31:  But then finally…there was nothing else for us to do but finally discuss Star Brand, Jim Shooter’s flagship title for his burgeoning New Universe line back in 1986.  Fortunately[?] for us, all of Shooter’s issues, as well as the follow-up stories by various writers until John Byrne steps in to steer the book from issue #11 until its end, are collected in two trades by Marvel, and we are here to talk about *all* of it.  Discussed:  Jim Shooter and his remarkable take on morality and sex, the difference between supporting characters who seem based on real people and people who don’t, Bobbie Chase’s amazing annual, the “rules” of the New Universe, The Greatest American Hero, South Park, The Pitt, and much, much more.
2:09:31-2:33:10: So much more, in fact, that Graeme has supplemental material about the New Universe, including an overview of Spitfire and the Troubleshooters, a fun fact about Strikeforce: Morituri, the Quasar epilogue issue, and of course…much, much more.  And then…
2:33:10-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. 232!  Look for it on Labor Day U.S.A., Monday!
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Previously on Baxter Building:
Sue Richards no more! No, wait; I mean Invisible Girl no more, because after facing off against Psycho-Man and the Hate Monger, Sue has become the Invisible Woman because she did… something mysterious off-panel…? Oh, and John Byrne is running out of steam and then some as we speed towards the end of his run.

Important Note: There is an increasing amount of static on Jeff’s side of the call from about 20 minutes in until about 40 minutes in. We’re sorry! I’m also sorry these show notes are up so late: Blame work deadlines and me disappearing to see the eclipse.

0:00:00-0:06:23: A brief introduction lets you know that Jeff and I are talking about Fantastic Four#s 285-295 this time around, which closes out the Byrne run, and we talk for a second about how disappointing the issues are overall (“I think it’s fair to say that he is not going out with a bang,” as I put it) and the editorial collateral damage of Byrne being forced off the book. And then things really get going with…


0:06:24-0:24:18:
Fantastic Four #285, in which John Byrne clearly thinks that he’s producing a work of deep emotional value, despite it being a clumsy, cloying self-satisfied mess. While it’s obvious what he was going for, the lack of… well, any real emotional value whatsoever in the story, combined with an impressively misguided attempt at an uplifting ending, collides to make a disaster of an issue. Did Tommy die for nothing? Well, it depends if you consider “John Byrne’s ego” to be nothing, but basically, yes.


0:24:19-0:42:40:
FF #286 brings Jean Grey back to life in an X-Factor prologue that manages to get over quite how boring those initial issues of that series was, while also bringing in a couple of uncredited guest creators so upsetting to John Byrne that he takes his name off the book. As you might expect, Jeff and I were both thrilled by an issue that evokes the spirit of Bob Layton, but even as we try to ignore the static, we imagine how patient Hercules must be when he’s not sexually harassing the women around him, discuss the apparently terrible memory the Avengers and Fantastic Four have for faces — they have met Jean Grey before! — and Jeff touches on why this comic makes him feel for Brian Michael Bendis. No, really.


0:42:41-1:03:37:
A sound effect — and, in reality, a break while Jeff works out different audio options to fix the static — later, and we’re back to talk about Fantastic Four #s 287-288, in which pedantry is the order of the day as the Beyonder steps in to try and fix the Doctor Doom continuity error accidentally caused by the first Secret Wars and we get to see, as Jeff points out, Jim Shooter’s fictional analog get berated by John Byrne’s fictional analog — because, oh yes, Reed Richards is in fine “Reed Knows Best” form here. Also, turns out that the pairing of John Byrne and Joe Sinnott is not a good one, especially when it ends up with Sue getting a new haircut that looks like this:

Also! Are godlike beings restricted by history? Does anyone besides me miss the Watcher about now? And is “John Byrne, Continuity Cop” actually a good thing…?

1:03:38-1:10:59: We take a short detour to discuss the equally short tenure of John Byrne’s Imperial Period: Are Fantastic Four and Superman as good as it got for him, and if so, does that mean he was only on top of the world for seven or eight years or so? (And even during that, there was the not-very-good Alpha Flight…)


1:11:00-1:26:41:
I am, shall we say, somewhat non-plussed by FF #s 289-290, in which Byrne apparently looked at his previous Annihilus storyline and thought, “Well, too much happened in that story, I can do something far more boring.” Jeff describes the execution of the story as being the product of a man in “gotta catch a bus mode,” which might explain just why Johnny Storm acts like the world’s most idiotic man here, Reed gets apparently killed twice without no-one caring apart from Sue, and the villains come across as even more of an afterthought with little aim or ambition than they usually do. Oh, and Sue and Johnny have the same hairstyle. No, really, look:

Seriously, what were you thinking, John Byrne?!? The worst part? There’s a really good idea at the heart of this story, as we riff about momentarily. Don’t make us do your job for you, Byrne…!


1:26:42-1:45:36:
But, wait! Could Fantastic Four #s 291 and 292 be even worse than the previous couple of issues? It’s not impossible, but before we get there, I share a theory about whether or not Byrne was phoning these issues in because he had actually quit Marvel a year earlier. From there, it’s all talk of repetition, Star Trek rip-offs and whether or not a plot about Nick Fury traveling in time and planning to kill Hitler years before World War II would actually be a big deal or not had someone else been working on the book at the time. Does it matter? Of course not, because we are trudging through the very end of an era here, and it’s not pretty.


1:45:37-1:51:18:
Okay, Fantastic Four #293 is actually the end of an era, being that it’s John Byrne’s final issue — and, in great Fantastic Four tradition, it’s the first part of a storyline that he won’t get to finish. If you’re hoping that means he’ll get to finish in style, then… well, prepare to be disappointed with an issue that barely features the FF, and in fact kind of feels more like a West Coast Avengers fill-in… Still, our long national nightmare is over. Kind of.


1:51:19-end:
Things devolve slightly as we tackle FF #294-295, the first Byrne-less issues of the series in five years by… kind of ignoring the story and concentrating on comparing how temporary replacements Roger Stern and Jerry Ordway did in comparison to what had come before. (Spoiler: Just because they seem to care about the work, it feels like a step up, although Byrne was arguably more talented than either?) We also talk about what John Byrne did next, our secret plans for a John Byrne podcast and look ahead to what’s upcoming in the next Baxter Building — #206-304 — and what’s coming in the next Wait, What?, because the answer is, somewhat surprisingly, more John Byrne. Even more than usual considering the audio problems, thank you for listening and, considering how late this is going up, thank you for your patience in reading. We’ll do better next time! Honest!

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[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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