Well, it’s 2017 now and I am *STILL* trying to dig out from under a ludicrous pile of DC Rebirth comics. (I’ve also been meaning to respond to a question the guys asked each other on a podcast weeks ago and review all the books I read as “new releases” via Marvel Unlimited, but that’s not here yet either.)  Rebirth, you may remember, started in May of last year. At this rate, I’ll be doing my Best-Of-2016 sometime in 2019, if we all live that long. Anyway, this week I’m writing about Superman #4-14 (bringing me right up to this week in that book, at least!).

These issues are written by Patrick Gleason & Peter Tomasi, with pencils by Gleason, Doug Mahnke, Jorge Jimenez, and Ivan Reis; inks by Mick Gray, Jaime Mendoza, Trevor Scott, Mark Morales, Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Norm Rapmund, and Joe Prado (the accelerated schedule is clearly murder on inkers); colors by John Kalisz, Wil Quintana, Alejandro Sanchez, and Marcelo Maiolo; and letters by Rob Leigh and Saida Temofonte.

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Previously on Baxter Building: We’ve made it through the wilderness years, which was perhaps a fitting way to spend 2016 in retrospect. But now, we’ve finally arrived at the point in our read-through of the first volume of Marvel’s Fantastic Four where the second classic run begins! Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. John Byrne.
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0:00:00-0:03:11: After a few episodes where we really tried to get through as many issues as humanly possible, we’re taking things easier this time around, covering Fantastic Four #232 through 237, A.K.A. the first six months of John Byrne’s run. Surprisingly to both of us, we both really enjoyed these comics, so let’s chalk this up to a successful 2017. Wrap it up, people, we’ve already peaked.
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0:03:12-0:25:43: We slip right into a discussion of the first John Byrne issue, Fantastic Four #232, via a brief discussion of anagrammatic pseudonyms, but there’s a lot to be talked about here, as Byrne follows through on his promise to take the book “Back to The Basics.” It’s a surprisingly packed issue as each character gets a chance to shine and reintroduce themselves to the audience without things seeming overly expeditionary, and we get the return of Jeff’s and my least favorite Reed Richards! All this, plus the also-return of Frankie Raye (who might be the new Crystal or a color-swapped Gwen Stacy), and a reminder that other people live in New York City.
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0:25:44-0:39:09: FF #233 and the following issue “are very non-Fantastic Four stories,” I say, and I stand by that: this issue is a Human Torch solo story that mostly avoids super-villainy in favor of a morality play as Byrne plays with both expectations about the series and some formalist elements. (A silent, black and white flashback that feels very “comics.”) All this to continue the task of redefining the Fantastic Four as something that exists within a larger community context! As Jeff puts it, “it’s not just a surprisingly good done in one, Byrne puts a shit-ton of effort into it.”
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0:39:10-0:53:03: And if #233 was a change of pace, Fantastic Four #234 is… well, it’s a Will Eisner Spirit story that guest-stars the Fantastic Four. It opens with “the most Will Eisner narration that Will Eisner never wrote,” as I put it, and continues from there, mixing in the near destruction of New York City and the death of countless people, all seen through the eyes of a schlub who’s far more powerful than he knows. We dig into the Eisner-isms, the joys of the issue’s dual feints, and Jeff’s theory about just what the idea of an all-powerful man who doesn’t know how strong he really is really means. All this, and the sensational character find of 1981: the skeevy son of the issue’s protagonist.
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0:53:04-1:06:36: After the previous issue’s off-kilter tale, FF #235 opens with a very obvious tribute to Fantastic Four #4, of all things, although that just sets us off on a brief discussion about why Byrne’s run looks so un-Kirby-ish. Is this, as Jeff puts it, “the flip side of the cover band approach we’ve seen up to this point,” and is he correct that Byrne, by this point in his career, had to live up to his own reputation even more than he did the Lee/Kirby legacy? Even beyond that, we talk about how amazingly packed this issue is — “this issue is plotted like a motherfucker,” as Mr. Lester says — and, not for the only time this episode, talk about how much John Byrne is fueled by jealousy of Chris Claremont.
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1:06:37-1:35:54: Fantastic Four #236 is the series’ 20th anniversary issue, and that means… Well, for one thing, a genuinely terrible “return” from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, collaborating in the same way that I would be if I redialogued all the Roy Lichetenstein rip-offs. (Wait; I have a great idea.) “I don’t think I can convey how utter batshit this is,” Jeff says, more kindly than he needs to be about the genuinely appalling quasi-collaboration, but not to worry: Byrne continues his run of great stuff with a main story that takes the Fantastic out of the Four, and shows us what’s left. Considering that’s what’s left is some great, subtle character work for Ben Grimm, the completely unsubtle greatness of Vincent Vaughn and a reminder that the Puppet Master is scarier than you think. The highlight of the discussion, though, is Jeff’s theory that Doctor Doom (and by extension, John Byrne) is dissing Jack Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen run at one point in the story. Surely not. And yet… maybe…?
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1:35:55-1:38:48: Before we move on to the next issue, I suddenly remember that I haven’t talked about the Frankie Raye subplot in the last few issues, which basically boils down to Frankie discovering that taking off your clothes can be shocking. It’s much funnier in Danish, believe me.
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1:38:49-1:55:08: While the main story in FF #237 isn’t the best — there’s an alien and some misunderstandings and intoxication through breathing! — the issue is nonetheless fun thanks to some good character moments and our perhaps misplaced joy at the return of Reed Richards, Science Dick: a man who thinks that the best thing to do with someone in a coma is to stick them in a very dark box, because, sure. Why not. Meanwhile, Ben Grimm is feeling bad about sex, and so turns to weightlifting for some relief in a sequence that only Jeff Lester understands.
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1:55:09-end: We look backwards and forwards, discussing how quickly Byrne has remade the series and wondering how important his earlier stint as artist was when helping him to work out just what the Fantastic Four needed overall. I go on about the ways in which his first six issues have moved the book away from pure superheroics, and why that attempt is different from what Moench and Sienkiewicz had just attempted, and then we look ahead to next episode, when we’ll take on Fantastic Four #238-247, featuring more Doctor Doom, the Inhumans and — just maybe — some more Byrne greatness. Until then, there’s always Twitter, Tumblr and Patreon to check up on. As always, thank you for listening and thanks for the patience of those of you waiting for the show notes in these deadline-troubled times!

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I’ve been working on (and procrastinating around) this Star Wars-y post for a few days. I’m sad to be finishing and posting it just after hearing the depressing news of Carrie Fisher’s death, which also will probably kinda change my reaction to some of the below. 

Last year around this time, I wrote about how people considered Star Wars: The Force Awakens a comic-book style remaking of the Star Wars story. I was responding to Ezra Klein writing at Vox about how TFA “goes too far to be a mere rip-off. It’s a new kind of retcon.” My argument at the time (which I stand by) is that TFA is not a retcon of any sort. It’s a remix, maybe, certainly a re-iteration of that particular myth. And, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter because it’s a fun movie that made me smile in all the right moments and that my daughter likes to watch over and over again just like I did with Star Wars.

(NOTE: gawdammit, Episode IV will always and forever be Star Wars to me. I can’t help it. I’m old. I’m sorry.)

But now we have Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and, man, that thing is not only 100% a retcon, it is a nearly flawless retcon.

A working definition, to back that up: To me, true retroactive continuity is an insertion that, as the name implies, retroactively changes our understanding of the underlying continuity. Alec Holland died and his body was never Swamp Thing. Peter Parker never made it out of that smokestack and we’ve actually been following his clone for all the years since. Mary Jane has known Peter’s secret since they were kids. All the old Miracleman stories were just brain implants. And so on.

They’re stories that not only change what we know now, they deepen it and expand on it and, ideally, IMPROVE it.

Which is where Rogue One succeeds so emphatically. I’ve seen it twice now, a pre-screening to determine if the kids could handle it (we decided they could, with proper advance warning of major plot points), and then a viewing with the kids. I loved it both times, far more than the average reaction I’ve seen online, but didn’t feel compelled to write about it … and then I rewatched Star Wars in light of Rogue One, and that impressed the hell out of me.

Here’s why. (By necessity, what comes after the jump not only spoils every element of Rogue One, it also flat-out presupposes that you’ve seen Rogue One. If you haven’t yet, head down to the theater now. This post will still be here when you get back.)

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0:00-15:10: Greetings and a sad update on the state of our Christmas spirit, with little more than mince pies to keep our holiday spirit aloft.  Discover our holiday plans and feel better about your own!
15:10-21:42:  Our best-of lists for the year!  Graeme gets to go first since he’s (a) made a professional list, and (b) actually read comics from 2016 this year!

adamandsteveGraeme’s list:

  1. The Flintstones by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh
  2. Giant Days by John Allison, Whitney Cogar, Max Sarin and Lissa Tremain
  3. Rolling Blackouts by Sarah Glidden
  4. Tom King’s untitled trilogy (Omega Men, Sheriff of Babylon, and The Vision)
  5. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
  6. Doom Patrol by Gerard Way and Nick Derington
  7. Jason Shiga’s Demon
  8. Hot Dog Taste Test, by Lisa Hannawalt
  9. Panther by Brecht Evens
  10. The Wicked and The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
  11. We Told You So: Comics As Art by Tom Spurgeon with Michael Dean
  12. The DC line in general (by various)
21:42-1:23:43: Jeff starts out by mentioning the stuff our lists have in common:  The Flintstones, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Demon by Jason Shiga, and The Vision…but we talk about Sheriff of Babylon for a bit.  And then Jeff’s list(s):
Most improved digital service:
Digital service in decline:
Crunchyroll manga
Book Jeff’s Most glad he read (even though it’s not for him):
Shadoweyes by Sophie Campbell
Stuff Jeff missed reading the most:
MANGA. Definitely missed the manga but I did enjoy:
High School Debut by Kazune Kawahara
My Love Story!! by Kazune Kawahara and Aruko (though I fell behind)
My Neighbor Seki by Takuma Morishige
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Jeff’s Best of the year:
  1. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
  2. Batman: Superheavy by Snyder & Capullo
  3. The Vision by King and Gabriel Walta (completed)
  4. The Flintstones by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh
  5. individual issues of Sheriff of Babylon
  6. Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour
  7. Jason Shiga’s Demo
  8. Spider-Man/Deadpool by Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinnes
  9. Spidey-zine by Hannah Blumenreich
  10. Kill or Be Killed by Brubaker and Phillips
  11. Transformers vs. GI Joe by Tom Scioli and John Barber
  12. The Colonel Corps by Tony Bedard and  Tom Derenick and Trevor Scott (unavailable?)
  13. Super Powers by Tom Scioli (back-up within Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye)
  14. The Fade Out by Brubaker and Phillips
  15. Moon Knight by Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, Wilfredo Torres, Francesco Francavilla, James Stokoe
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The re-reads and old never-reads:
  1. Manhunter by Goodwin and Simonson
  2. Elektra Assassin by Miller and Sienkiewicz
  3. Madwoman of the Sacred Heart by Jodorowsky and Moebius
  4. Tales of the Batman by Carmine Infantino
  5. Batman #153:  The Prisoner of Three Worlds by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and others;
  6. Machine Man by Kirby and Ditko (but really Kirby)
  7. Fury: My War Gone By by Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov
  8. Batman: Ten Nights of the Beast by Starlin and Aparo
  9. Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles by Jack Kirby
  10. By The Numbers vols. 1 and 2 by Laurent Rullier, Stanislas Barthélémy, and Dominique Thomas
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The most okay of 2016! (no links, sorry):
  1. Deathstroke by James Priest, Larry Hama and whoever else is in there
  2. Suicide Squad by Rob Williams, Jim Lee, and whoever else is in there
  3. Patience by Dan Clowes
  4. 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank by Taylor Boss and Matthew Rosenberg
  5. Sun Bakery by Corey Lewis
  6. Marvel’s Future Fight video game
  7. DC Rebirth #1by Geoff Johns and various
  8. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn
  9. The Fix by Steve Lieber, Nick Spencer, and Ryan Hill
  10. Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye by Jon Rivera, Gerard Way, and Michael Avon Oeming
  11. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack
  12. Kill Them All by Kyle Starks
  13. Red Team: Double Tap and Center Mass by Garth Ennis and Craig Cermak
  14. The Unbelievable Gwenpool by Christopher Hastings and Gurihiru
The Books Jeff Most regrets not reading in 2016:
  1. Kaijumax by Zander Cannon
  2. Ultimates by Al Ewing and Travel Foreman
  3. Spider-Woman by Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez
  4. Superman by Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke
  5. Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart
1:23:43-1:34:45: Graeme recommends 2000 AD, as he is wont to do, and we discuss their 2016, and what they may have for us in 2017, and some of the great old material they’ve recently purchased. (They being 2000 AD and Rebellion, not Jeff & Graeme.)
1:34:45-1:54:46: A quick, spoiler-free discussion of Star Wars: Rogue One, unless what you really care about is, “will Jeff see Rogue One?” In which case:  FULL SPOILERS.  Plus: discussion about how engaged Jeff feels with nerd culture, possible topics for future podcasts, and more.
1:54:46-2:26:35: “Meanwhile, on the Internet, everyone’s like, “2017—the year comics will crash!” Jeff is talking about this story by Todd Allen over at the Beat and the ensuing fallout. We unpack the article’s premises, the feedback, Marvel’s upcoming X-Men relaunch and whether or not it is like DC Rebirthwhat we worry about for the market for 2017, …and what we don’t worry about.
2:26:35-end:  Closing comments! But first:  We make a plan for a January podcast episode!  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:  Next week is Christmas! The week after is New Year’s!  But join us after that in 2017 for our twenty-fifth episode of Baxter Building!
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Hey, all.  Jeff here, and I’m trying to carve a bit more free time into my busy schedule by trying this ultra-compact shownotes like all the cool kids use.  Let’s see how they work out:

0:00-14:57: Salutations; political small talk; supervillains; joining the resistance; possible t-shirt; and more.
14:57-38:55: Batman #12 by Tom King and Mikel Janin. Also discussed: Doug Moench’s Batman, Batman Year Two, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm; Norm Breyfogle’s Batman; Batman, Batman, Batman!
38:55-47:50:  The first four volumes of Transformers: Phase Two which collects Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye by James Roberts, Alex Milne and Nick Roche, and Transformers: Robots in Disguise by John Barber, Andrew Griffith, and Marcelo Matere.
47:50-54:23: An interjection about the uses of cartooniness, as noted in the first two volumes of By The Numbers by Laurent Rullier, Stanislas Barthélémy, and Dominique Thomas.
54:23-60:19: And back to the Transformers books with those uses in mind.
60:19-1:24:51: A prelude to next week’s podcast and a preliminary discussion about some of the possible picks for best books of the year.  This actually leads into a discussion of Marvel’s attempt to juice its sales, and Heidi’s article over The Beat about 2017 potentially being a very tough year of retail. And in there Jeff talks about the Marvel comics he’s reading the ones he’s not reading, and why he’s not reading them.
1:24:51-1:35:22: A discussion of the most recent issues of Champions by Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos.
1:35:22-1:48:31: A discussion of Shadoweyes by Sophie Campbell, co-colored by Erin Waston.
1:48:31-1:50:10: Graeme is looking forward to reading The Abominable Mr. Seabrook by Joe Ollmann.
1:50:10-1:54:17: Worries aside, there are a lot of really good comics out there right now.  Good comics aside, there’s a lot to worry about right now: singles vs. trade, hard copy vs. digital, is Jeff Lester the problem?
1:54:17-1:54:19: Hear Jeff falter as he struggles to correctly remember the name of One Piece.  Will he do it?
1:54:19-2:03:35: (No.)
2:03:35-2:09:01: Fantagraphics’ superhero line. All Time Comics, is coming! But, as Graeme rightly asks, is it really a line?
 Closing comments! Next week will be a Q&A session so please feel free to tweet or email us your questions. 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:  Our last episode of the year!  Whip up a batch of your celebrated nog—really, we’ve heard nothing but compliments—and join us!
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Continuing my efforts to plow through the insane backlog of DC Rebirth books I’ve accumulated. Today: Flash #3-10 (I actually thought I had read through #11 but can’t find it anywhere), written by Joshua Williamson; drawn by Carmine DiGiandomenico (#3, 5, 7, 9), Neil Googe (#4), Felipe Watanabe and Oclair Albert (#5, 10) with Andrew Currie (#5), and Jorge Corona (#9); and colored by Ivan Plascencia (#3-9) and Chris Sotomayor (#10).

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In our Roundtable here about the initial DC Rebirth one-shot (just six months ago! were we ever so innocent?!?), I mentioned that the Flash is my favorite DC character, specifically the Wally West version, especially as written by Mark Waid. This is dangerous, from a reading standpoint, because it means that I have a real tendency toward that visceral #NotMyFlash reaction to other, non-Waid and/or non-Wally Flash stories. That makes for some bad criticism.

Which is a problem, here, because this run of the Flash really doesn’t click for me at all. So, below, I will endeavor to detail why not, without allowing myself to fall back on the crutch of “I am an old babyman and this is not the Flash I remember, waahhhhhhhhhhhh!” Hopefully I have the necessary skill and discipline. Let’s see!

(Spoilers for the these issues of The Flash, below.)

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We took a family vacation to Colonial Williamsburg for Thanksgiving week. And when you travel with kids to a non-theme-park, non-beach vacation, you will almost inevitably find yourself trying to fill up at least one or two days. Hence, movie day. Which is how I wound up going to see Disney’s Moana in theaters despite knowing virtually nothing about it.

I left the theater knowing that I had really enjoyed it, but I did not expect to still be thinking about it a week later, and choosing to listen to the soundtrack on Spotify even without my children around. And yet here we are. Below are a bunch of the reasons it worked so well for me, which inevitably contain plot details and potential spoilers. Up here, I’ll summarize with this anecdote:

I’ve been skeptical of the endless, breathless hype around Hamilton. It seemed to me that there was literally no way it could live up to what I’ve heard about, no chance that I’d have the same reaction as the people who saw it totally cold. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical contributions to Moana were so strong that it totally turned me around, and left me as desperate to see Hamilton as every other squishy liberal NPR listener. It’s really that good, and you should go see it.

(Oh, and I know Moana isn’t a comic, but … I dunno. Graeme mentioned Zootopia on a podcast a couple weeks back and that’s by the same people. That’s my tenuous connection. I’ll get back to catching up with the DC Rebirth books soon, in case you were worried about that. They continue to get farther away from me as I chase doggedly after.)

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Previously on Baxter Building: The Fantastic Four almost died on a mission out in space, but because these are monthly superhero comics, they instead ended up younger than they were when the series started — except for Johnny, which will never be mentioned again — and also more powerful, because comics.

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Editorial Note: If you’re reading this on Monday night, two things: Firstly, there are no images, and secondly, this should’ve been up hours ago. Both are related to how busy today has been, and I apologize profusely. There’ll be images in this tomorrow, honest! (As long as tomorrow isn’t as crazy as today!) Tuesday update: Images are in! But they’re from the GIT Corp. DVD scans, hence the Marvel watermark on a couple of them.

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Look at the Joe Sinnott redraw on that Sue in the first panel!

0:00:00-0:12:29: We start this episode off by talking about how unusual the issues we’re going to cover this episode are. It starts off normally enough with six issues of Marv Wolfman, Bill Mantlo and John Byrne, but then things get pretty off-book for the series when Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz show up as the new regular creative team, ditching the cover band approach to the comic for better or worse. (Spoilers: The jury’s still out on that one, but it’s probably worse.)
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0:12:30-0:25:06: Before things get strange, Marv Wolfman keeps up a tradition by leaving the series midway through a continuing plot line, as he disappears halfway through a storyline spanning Fantastic Four #215-216 that sees Jeff and I wonder if a giant penis head can also look like a butt, whether Star Trek is an appropriate place to lift inspiration for an FF story from, and whether Reed is the most irresponsible genius ever. (Yes.)
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0:25:07-0:30:48: In a surprise move, the one issue that deals with the end of HERBIE proves to be the best issue of this episode, as FF #217 sees an unexpected “This Man, This Monster” riff and the “Why didn’t anyone do more with this?” pairing of Johnny Storm and Dazzler. Genuinely, this issue is so much fun, it almost makes up for the fact that I kept saying “HERBIE goes bad” and not “HERBIE goes bananas.” What was I thinking?
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0:30:49-0:37:11: When Jeff uses the phrase “They can’t all be winners!” to describe Fantastic Four #218, he’s being generous, although much worse is around the corner. At least this issue plays out like a weak Marvel Team-Up, complete with Spider-Man guest appearance and the discovery that the Trapster clearly works out far more than we ever anticipated. (Although, to be fair, I don’t think anyone really gives much thought to how much the Trapster works out.)
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0:37:12-0:45:37: A sign of what’s to come shows up in FF #219, which sees Moench and Sienkiewicz offer a fill-in that has some staggeringly bad pacing and overly busy pages, while offering arguably the most boring Sub-Mariner story this series has seen yet. Which, let’s be honest, is really saying something. “There is no need to read this comic,” Jeff says, and he’s not entirely wrong, sadly.
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0:45:37-0:53:06: John Byrne’s first writing credit on the series — in Fantastic Four #220-221, which he also draws — feels like an annual split between two issues, but it’s a nice little two-parter that shows that he understands the basic appeal of the series. “There’s a lot to like in here,” as Jeff puts it, not least of which is seeing Byrne flip what has become a FF cliche around to make it seem oddly new and charming. Is this a sign of things to come?
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0:53:07-1:13:38: FF #222-223 sees Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz take over as the regular creative team of the book, and we’re thrilled about this, if “thrilled” means “struggle (and succeed!) in finding upsides.” Meet creepy Franklin Richards, and then magical, creepier Franklin Richards, as Nicholas Scratch returns, Agatha Harkness says goodbye and Salem’s Seven make everything slightly better. We talk about the influence of fandom and how much it plays into this run, Bill Sienkiewicz seemingly playing against visual type wherever possible — not in a good way — and Jeff explains the purpose of a character making a cameo in this storyline far more thoroughly than the story itself does. Oh, and we come up with the best Chris Claremont Fantastic Four annual that never happened.
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1:13:37-1:24:14: Jeff tries his hardest to defend the Garth Marenghi-like tendencies of Doug Moench in Fantastic Four #224-225, two issues that feel like the most Marenghi FF yet. There’s a lot of apocalypse going on, but also a lot of pretension, a surreally out-of-nowhere Thor and Odin cameo, the most lackadaisical Fantastic Four ever, and a threat that manages to undersell itself and the fact that he’s basically Benevolent(ish) Vandal Savage, and yet none of it comes across as being particularly interesting.
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1:24:15-1:31:57: FF #226 is described by Jeff as “the best,” but I can only assume that he’s being sarcastic. Moench decides that it’s time to wrap-up loose ends from Shogun Warriors, but he’s hobbled by two factors. Firstly, Marvel clearly doesn’t have the rights to the characters anymore, so you won’t be seeing those giant robots this time around. Secondly, Bill Sienkiewicz is not interested in playing to the cues Moench is giving him. “It’s rank,” Jeff goes on to describe it as, and… well, he’s not wrong. Looking for some upside, we end up talking about the number of times Moench and Sienkiewicz talk about Moon Knight in these FF issues (It’s a lot) and guess about potential reasons why.
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1:31:58-1:35:24: Fantastic Four #227 is “everything you could hope a story called ‘The Brain Parasites’ could be, except good,” as I describe it, and I stand by it. On the plus side, even as the story gets ridiculous (Prehistoric monsters devolve people, including Sue, into monsters!), the art gets a nice bump when Bruce Patterson shows up and brings out an entirely different side to Bill Sienkiewicz than we’ve seen in these pages so far.
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1:35:25-1:41:44: Joe Sinnott returns to do full finishes in FF #228, so the book looks better despite some by-now-unsurprising bad layouts from Sienkiewicz, but that’s not the only problem with the issue. “I can’t even wrap my brain around what’s happening,” Jeff says, and perhaps that’s because we get an issue where Johnny is impressively callous, while Franklin’s childhood trauma is given purple-leotarded form. No, really; that’s not an exaggeration. We’re firmly in the era of some impressively bad comics right now.
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1:41:45-1:56:21: How best to describe the three-parter than concludes the Moench/Sienkiewicz run in Fantastic Four #229-231? “It’s pretty bad,” Jeff says, and that seems fair enough. Combining everything we’ve come to expect from this creative team — uninspired villains, bad design choices both in terms of costuming and page layout, and some brand new, immediately unforgettable characters who pretend that they’re important while they’re on-panel — this really is the perfect example both of what the previous few issues of the title had been like, and also the best argument for why this creative team wasn’t suitable for the series. On the plus side, Jeff does coin the phase “I must fuck up their Kool-Aid,” so it’s not all bad, and he did appreciate them trying to do an epic, as bad as it turned out to be, which leads us to…
1:56:22-end: …A discussion about the strangeness of the Moench/Sienkiewicz run as a whole, and the ways in which it almost cleared the creative palate before John Byrne comes on board. If nothing else, this is a run that feels like something other than an attempt to recreate the Lee/Kirby thrills on an ever-decreasing scale of success, and even though it was more of a creative failure than a success, something should be said about that. Admittedly, what it seems to say to both Jeff and I is that we’re really ready for Byrne to take over the series with the next issue — and the next episode of this here podcast, which will cover #232-237 of the series. That’s how we’re going to be starting 2017, so you should join us for that. In the meantime, you can find us on Twitter, Tumblr and Patreon, and also accept my apologies for this post being quite as late as it is — today has been ridiculous behind the scenes at Wait, What Towers (Portland Outpost). Normal service will be resumed soon…!

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0:00-16:39: Greetings!  Now longer are we dawdling walruses of last week, unsure of where and how to start.  No, this week we are back to being lithe jungle cats, quick to leap on our conversational prey, which means you are quickly whisked away into a world in which Graeme received a copy of Transformers The Motion Picture 30th Anniversary DVD and tries to make it through the special features.  And this leads to a discussion of buying and re-buying the same movie/book/graphic novel/whatever, including a discussion of DC’s Absolute format, Jeff’s ogling of the iPad Pro, and more.
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16:39-38:16: Which leads into the stuff we’ve been reading, with Jeff talking a bit about Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 by Nick Spencer and Jesús Saiz (just out on Marvel Unlmited); which Graeme contrasted with the Armor Wars/Stark Wars storyline of Iron Man by David Micheline and Bob Layton from long ago, some of the old issues of Marvel Spotlight featuring the Son of Satan.  How densely packed the comics of yesteryear!  How much less focused! Also discussed:  supporting characters, a weird re-working of the Bechdel test, the upcoming Batman Annual, the current Suicide Squad comic, and more.
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38:16-49:37: Also! Jeff read the first four issues of Karnak by Warren Ellis, Gerardo Zaffino, and Roland Boschi.  As it turns out, because Karnak #4 hit Marvel Unlimited, Graeme also read those first four issues this week.  So we sit down and have quite a Karnak klatch, spiraling out to talk about Ennis and his upcoming Wild Storm project for DC, rumors about who will or won’t be working on it, and more.
49:37-56:30: Which somehow leads us back to Captain America: Steve Rogers and the second issue that Graeme has read, but Jeff still hasn’t. but turns yet again into a discussion about Rick Jones and all the horrible fads he ends up stuck with, and how Snapper Carr managed to end up being cooler than Jones just by not existing.
56:30-1:08:32:  Graeme feels compelled to remind Jeff what issues of Fantastic Four we’re going to be reading for Baxter Building, which is apparently news to Jeff based on his startled gasp.  (Issues #217-231!)  And Graeme has also read the upcoming first issue of the new New Talent Showcase from DC, and the “conclusion” of the current Wonder Woman storyline that does not feel like a conclusion to Graeme at all.  Also discussed:  Greg Rucka and retconning the John Byrne way;  similar changes going on over in the Superman books; Jeff’s reading of Superwoman; and more.
1:08:32-1:23:11: Speaking of DC books, Jeff just finished that first arc of Batgirl by Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque and Jeff is…pretty underwhelmed but curious:  what did Graeme, who recommended the book, think?  The answer may surprise you!  Also discussed:  the joys of digital, Love at Fourteen, vol. 1 by Fuka Mizutani; the horrors of Diamond Previews; and more.
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1:23:11-1:28:13: “Hey, I don’t suppose you read Betty Boop #1, did you?” asks Jeff out of nowhere but because this is the the week it is, Graeme says, “I have!  I’ve read the first two issues, actually.”  So we’re off to the races with a discussion of the Dynamite incarnation of everyone’s favorite pliable intellectual property courtesy of Roger Langridge and Gisèle Lagacé.
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1:28:13-1:56:50: Sadly, when Graeme says, “hey, you know what I have been reading recently?  Greg Pak’s Battlestar Galactica!” this is the note kind of week where Jeff then says, “Hey, me too!” But we do go on to discuss Pak’s BSG series, as well as a discussion on a possible sweet spot for licensed comics, including Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes, Star Trek Beyond, Zootopia, Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye, X-Men: Apocalypse, a very brief digression about Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, some of the video games Jeff wants licensed comics for, the licensed video games work of Garth Ennis now and then, and more.
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1:56:50-2:31:51:  Hey, do you miss those good old days where we’d make noises like it was the end of the podcast, and then a new subject came up and we’d just keep going?  If so, then THIS IS YOUR LUCKY PODCAST, WHATNAUT!  First, it’s some talk about Black Friday comic book sales, both in digital and print. Jeff mentions enjoying some comics he bought on one such sale, the first four issues of Red Team: Double Tap and Center Mass by Garth Ennis and Craig Cermak, and Graeme makes a comment about Ennis phoning shit in, and hoo boy are we off to the races.  Join us for an extended battle of the straw men, as Graeme and I slug it out over the later careers of Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis.  As you might expect, Graeme makes some excellent points, Jeff just keeps on kicking and slugging anyway, and only the surprise revelation of his mystery gift for Graeme redeems him.
2:31:51-end: Okay, no really, this time:  closing comments! Next week will be a Q&A session so please feel free to tweet or email us your questions. 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!  We are reading Fantastic Four issues #217-231!  Join us, won’t you?
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0:00-14:31: Greetings!  Hopefully, it hasn’t been as long for you as it’s been for us.  Yes, we pre-recorded some episodes to make sure you wouldn’t be cheated out of your just due of comic book blabbity-blab, so it’s been….a LONG time since we’ve talked.  A month, maybe?  So keep in mind that: (a) we have a lot to catch up on, and (b) there is a lot in here that is not very comic book related (or related at all, in fact).  But let’s ease you in with our humble admissions that we barely remember how to do this, being photo-shy, our perceived lack of charisma.  Come for the D and D talk, stay for the Goblin’s Lair (spoiler: it’s not what you’d think).

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[The cartoon above is by the ever-amazing Tom Bolling but I seem to have really screwed up my ability to add captions to my images so I have to tell you down here instead of up there…]

14:31-1:12:18:  And from here, we have to talk about the recent election because, well, come on, we just have to.  If you listen to us, you already know that we are lefties to varying degrees.  So if you might be offended by people like us talking about the election, pull the chute now and I’ll try to let you know when we start talking about stuff you might want to hear us talk about again.  (Oh, but at one point, I talk about how, before the election, I got a lot of much-needed insight from this article.  And then Graeme mentions this article.)

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1:12:18-1:24:00: Okay, now that that particular discussion is over, we can move on to comic-related cruise stories, starting with Jeff’s surprise fellow cruising compatriot.  If you need to pitch a comic book related remake of Vertigo set on the Love Boat, you may want to check this out.
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1:24:00-1:52:25: Jeff also read over a hundred comic books and 3.5 novels on the cruise.  He’d like to tell you about some of them. Discussed: Alan Moore’s Jerusalem (not one of the 3.5 novels); music biographies; Barbarian Days; A Surfing Life by William Finnegan; I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas; Machine Man by Kirby and Ditko: The Complete Collection; Fury: My War Gone By by Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov; issue #3 of The Flintstones by Mark Russell, Steve Pugh, and Chris Chuckry; The Vision by Tom King, Gabriel Walta and Jordie Bellaire; Batman: The Cult by Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson; Kill Them All by Kyle Starks; and more.
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1:52:25-2:07:23: Aww, Jeff talked too much, damn it, forcing Graeme to run too quickly through the stuff he’s been reading and thinking about lately.  Discussed:  Walt Simonson’s Ragnarok from IDW and his Star Slammers from Epic way back when; We Told You So: Comics as Art by Tom Spurgeon and Michael Dean; early Strontium Dog stories by John Wagner as well as the pending rerelease of One-Eyed Jack; volumes of Mega-City Undercover; the third issue of Doom Patrol by Gerard Way and Nick Derington; and six amazing pages of Super Powers by Tom Scioli in the first two issues of Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye.
2:07:23-end: Closing comments! Next week will be a Q&A session so please feel free to tweet or email us your questions. 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:  We will be here for you with another episode of Wait, What?  Please join us, won’t you?
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