Hey there, friends.  The government may have shut down but not your friendly neighborhood Wait, What?  Yes, we have a terrifyingly-close-to-two-and-a-half-hour installment for you!

Topics discussed:
  • How many people we follow on Twitter(!);
  • Comics news round-up featuring: the return of the red trunks; Bendis in Action Comics #1000; Dan Slott leaving Spider-Man to take over Iron Man; Kelly Thompson is now Marvel Exclusive; and, as Graeme perfectly puts it, “Wolverine is back, in the most fucking confusing manner ever!”

  • Jeff’s thoughts on Batman #39, and a discussion about Tom King and Mister Miracle and DC’s non-Kirby handling of The New Gods overall and a discussion of continuity and character investment as opposed to an investment on a creator’s “take” on a character, which leads in its way to:

  • discussions of American Vandal and the Netflix adaptation of Charles Forsman’s TEOTFW, and
  • a *very* long—and absolutely spoiler-rich—discussion about Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
  • Back to news (kinda): a discussion of Marvel’s new publisher;

  • An all-too-brief discussion of the genius Bob Haney, George Tuska, and Vince Colletta story “Will of the Whisperer” from Worlds Finest #252, available on Comixology;

  • If you like (or don’t mind) reading comics electronically, see if your library has the Hoopla service, so you can check out and read The Bronze Age Batman Brave and the Bold Omnibus Vol. 1 *for free*;
  • Closing comments! Featuring Graeme’s great recap of Justice League of America #123 over at the most excellent Steve Morris’s Shelf Dust; Jeff’s not-so-great job of his half of the closing comments; and a call for you to VOTE!

Whew!

Next week is a skip week but join us in a mere fortnight for Wait, What? Ep. 242, won’t you?

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Previously on Baxter Building: As the result of Reed Richards’/Marvel editorial’s inability to leave well enough alone (Delete as applicable), Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman have rejoined the Fantastic Four, just in time for the Thing to turn back into Ben Grimm, and the team to be defeated by the Frightful Four and… an evil Watcher…?!?


0:00:00-0:04:58:
We start with the briefest of introductions, mentioning the issues that we’re talking about this episode (Fantastic Four #328 through 333, AKA the final Steve Englehart issues), and discussing potential Englehart-inspired pseudonyms for Jeff. You know, as you do.


0:04:59-0:22:14:
While Jeff appreciates what he describes as the final Englehart Fantastic Four issue that “counts”, I’m less impressed with FF #328, for many reasons including sub-par writing from Steve E, and particularly ill-suited inks from Romeo Tanghal, although Jeff’s notion of an eyebrows pass makes things seem a little better. It is, as I put it, a “shoddy issue,” but at least there are odd color choices, an unexpected Sensational She-Hulk in-joke, inexplicable hideout hi-jinks and the two of us talking about the benefits of Meta-Englehart versus Regular Englehart.


0:22:15-0:38:58:
“Well, let’s move on to #329,” I say, with a tone of resignation that the issue really doesn’t deserve. Welcome to the new Fantastic Four, who are kind of the old Fantastic Four, only far creepier, as the opening pages of the issue reveal. (They really are enjoyably creepy, really. Discover our joy in the word “Bah!” Listen to the fake FF ruin our chance for lasting peace with the Mole Man! Endure us talking about the ways in which the fake Fantastic Four were ahead of their time, and feel like the Ghost of Comics Yet To Come! We also discuss the lack of clarity in dream sequences, which… might be the point, upon reflection…? Then again, I’m not sure there was that much coherency happening at this point of the book…


0:38:59-0:57:34:
What can we say about Fantastic Four #330? Well, it offers up Sue’s dream, which inexplicably doesn’t feature Sue but does feature Doctor Doom vs. Doctor Doom and the destruction of Earth. (Really, do other people have dreams in which they never appear, and it’s just me?) A general apathy in this issue is compounded by bad coloring (or, perhaps, coloring mistakes), and a sense that the best hope for this issue is wondering if it’s a parody, or meta-commentary on crossover events and crossover logic in general. Plus! It’s the return of Rich Buckler, and oh, man, has he brought some swipes! Is this even more meta-commentary on the nature of recycling in superhero comics, or just an unfortunate coincidence? U decide!


0:57:35-1:06:42:
Sure, there’ve been some misfires so far this episode, but FF #331 offers up Reed’s dream, which has the best reveal in comics as the Turino XL’s foreshadowing from a handful of issues back is finally explained. We get an entirely solid issue of super heroics that is likely to make you wish that Steve Englehart stayed on the book for longer, and talk about Englehart sharing Reed’s apparent belief in the FF as a team. Meanwhile, Englehart’s captions ramp up the sarcasm and his war on Marvel editorial, deliciously.


1:06:43-1:20:53:
What’s that, you say? You want to see some old-fashioned catfighting? Uh… okay…? Thankfully, Fantastic Four #332 has you covered. The issue opens with what may be comics’ greatest passive aggressive opening captions, but before too long, we get to see Crystal return to fight with Sue Storm, argue with Reed, and set up a genuinely wonderful retcon of one of John Byrne’s biggest upsets to the status quo… But, of course, it’s all a dream! (Sadly.) Meanwhile, Englehart works in more meta-commentary about what the Fantastic Four, and arguably Marvel, needs to be successful, but is he preaching to the readers or the editors? (Spoilers: Probably the latter, considering the context.) And what is it that’s more important to Johnny Storm: Love or ego? Jeff and I disagree on the answer!


1:20:54-1:42:17:
Perhaps the greatest unanswered question about FF #333 is why it’s called “The Dream Is Dead, Part Two,” considering we couldn’t find a “The Dream Is Dead, Part One” anywhere. (Really, does anyone know where that appeared?) But in an issue where Hercules provides two perfect lines of dialogue, Rich Buckler swipes the latter Buscema/Palmer Avengers run for one panel only, and the massive, storyline-wrap-up fight is really a half-assed discussion about the need for people to change and grow, should we really care about titles? Of course not! After all, there’s Marvel editorial’s passive aggressive push-back against Steve Englehart’s passive aggressiveness to talk about, and boy, howdy. They didn’t disappoint.


1:42:18-end:
The strangeness, and strange greatness, of the Englehart run as a whole is briefly memorialized as we wrap things up, before declaring the first couple of Walter Simonson arcs in the next episode — Fantastic Four #334-341, if you’re reading along at home — before the regular reminder that we can be found on Twitter, Tumblr and Patreon. As always, thanks for listening and reading. Next time, less bad dreams, but way, way more lame villains and time travel.

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Well, well, well. Here we are again.  Another new year, and another round of a podcast in which the clever, articulate one and the probably-not-as-clever-although-no-one-can-really-quite-tell-because-he-is-definitely-not-as-articulate one gather together to talk about that medium we all know and love.  We’re glad you could join us!

Topics discussed:
  • Greetings of the New Year, for the New Year;
  • Jeff’s not-quite 100% health and the Bay Area’s bad flu streak;
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the latest break between Marvel and Jim Starlin;
  • The Chris Claremont Legacy: X-Men Grand Design #1 & 2 by Ed Piskor, and the three part Blade, The Vampire Slayer story collected in Marvel Horror: The Magazine Collection;
  • Marvel’s not-good-at-all year, the rough year for the comics market overall, and the mysterious return of the Marvel Legacy lenticular covers;
  • The coming year for DC, and DC’s traditionally not-great job at taking the pole position, featuring our complaints about Hawkman Found #1 and a very terrifying Alan Moore workaround;
 
  • The last episode of 1976 TV show, Gemini Man (as dreamed by Jeff one feverish night);
and, y’know, much, much more!
We will be back next week with the latest installment of Baxter Building!  Please read Fantastic Four #s 328-333 and join us as we look at the (anti-) climax of Steve Englehart’s run!
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In the Great The Last Jedi Wars of 2017, I’m on the “I love this movie” side. Let me get that out of the way first. Writer/director Rian Johnson’s film was, for me, the most thematically rich, best-acted, best-directed, best-looking of all the Star Wars movies. I loved the way it played off and subverted established Star Wars tropes and expectations, from the first scene to the last, while still clearly being built around a deep love of the earlier movies. I’ve seen it four times as of this writing and will be trying to get in at least one more in-theater viewing. For whatever reason, it landed really squarely for me, and is currently my third-favorite of all the Star Wars films, pushing hard for the #2 spot.

So, that’s that part. I’m not interested in rebutting anyone’s complaints–we’re allowed to like different movies, you and I!–nor do I particularly feel like rehashing the moments that worked so well for me. What I do want to look at is one specific subversion of an iconic moment that I haven’t seen directly discussed anywhere, and doing that will necessitate SPOILERS after the jump.

Continue reading

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Previously on Baxter Building: Steve Englehart took over the Fantastic Four and immediately broke it, by writing Reed and Sue out the book forever and replacing them with Crystal and Sharon Ventura, who turned into a Thing pretty sharpish. And then Crystal got written out during an annual, which must’ve sucked for anyone not picking those up at the time. With only three members left, how can Englehart keep calling the book Fantastic Four? Does he have a plan, and if so, will editors let him carry it out? The answer to at least one of those questions, dear Whatnauts, turns out to be “No…”

0:00:00-0:04:30: The final Baxter Building of 2017 opens with us looking ahead to the final Steve Englehart issues of the series and the pseudonyms that await us there — as well as a brief mention of the professionalism of a man who’s to happy with his job but won’t quit nonetheless.

0:04:31:-0:23:55: Before we get to the fake names, though, we have to deal with that most X-Men of crossovers, Inferno! A three-part crossover of sorts starts in Fantastic Four #322, but don’t expect any explanation of what’s actually happening in the story, because Steve Englehart doesn’t get around to that, although he does feature a bicycle chasing Ben Grimm and a mailbox trying to eat someone’s hand, because… why not? Meanwhile, we discuss Englehart’s use of both magical thinking and self-empowerment, and how the latter differs from the traditional Marvel paradigm, and also get into how gravity doesn’t work. It’s a whole thing.

0:23:56-0:43:49: FF #323 keeps up the Inferno, even though the group leaves New York behind altogether, thanks to the sudden appearances of Kang and Mantis, who Jeff correctly identifies as being “kinda super-problematic.” Before we give Jeff too much credit, though, we should maybe ask him what it means to raise children in “plant-ly ways,” which is also under discussion here, as well as Johnny Storm’s first use of a car metaphor in the entire series. He’s growing up so fast!

0:43:50-0:59:39: Fantastic Four #324 features what I call “the stupidest leap of logic ever,” as we talk about the way in which a Fantastic Four without Reed Richards is actually made up of idiots, why newfound villain Necrodamus is both amazingly shit and also George Harrison, and Johnny is revealed to be the arguably the most gullible superhero of all. All this, and the most Doctor Who sound effect in all of comics!

0:59:40-1:14:38: As timing would have it, FF#325 is called “A Christmas Tale,” prompting me to go on a rant about the apparent misunderstanding Steve Englehart has about what Christmas is all about. For those already sick of festivity, there are also plant ninjas, Rich Buckler pulling out the John Buscema swipes whenever possible, Jeff voicing his dislike for the Ms. Marvel costume Sharon wears. For those wondering if Johnny Storm could seem more clueless, don’t worry, we also cover that, and the way in which it’s fairly obvious that this was the truncation of a storyline that was seemingly intended to go on for awhile. You can tell that Jeff is really having fun by the fact that he sighs “Oh God” at one point. But don’t we all feel like that?

1:14:39-1:29:59: John Harkness — really Steve Englehart under a fake name, but let’s not talk about that — takes over as writer with Fantastic Four #326, but because he writes a great Reed Richards — who is kind and respectful to his friends even though he still knows better than everyone else (and doesn’t like Sue thinking otherwise) — we let that pass without too much comment. Elsewhere, Jeff suggests a Secret Wars read through, which I’m sure we’ve already done, I underscore some great foreshadowing when it comes to the world of personal computing in the Marvel Universe, and the Thing gets turned back into Ben Grimm (because of course he does) as a result of the return of the Frightful Four, who come with a Traveling Wilburys song in their hearts. (No, really.)

1:30:00-1:45:37: FF #327 is a big dumb fight issue, but it kind of works, somehow? As Jeff puts it, there’s “a high degree of competence” on show here, which frees us up to talk about the Frightful Four as an avatar of the early (and arguably pre-great) days of Lee and Kirby, which might be an intentional move on Steve Engleart’s part, and a tease of things to come. I also suggest that this issue might have been when I think he decided to quit the book, and ask the question, is Ben the most interesting character in this entire series
1:45:38-end: We wrap things up by promising the end of the Englehart era next episode (That’s Fantastic Four #s 328-333, for those reading along), and reminding everyone about our Twitter, Tumblr and Patreon accounts. Thanks for all those who waited patiently for the shownotes — blame the holidays for the delay — and for reading along, as always. We’ll be back with a regular Wait, What? in two weeks. Happy Remainder of the Holidays!

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What’s that? You thought that you could make it to Santa’s visit without a helping of Wait, What? Oh, faithful Whatnauts, we’re not a Charles Dickens miser. Do you seriously think we’d leave you without our favorite books of the year and a potential distraction from family and friends when you need it the most? We recorded this minicast thirty-five minutes ago. (Okay, two days, but I was on a roll.)

Topics discussed in today’s minicast:

  • My personal news.
  • Graeme’s Top Not Actually 10:
    You and A Bike And A Road by Eleanor Davis
    The Interview by Manuele Fior
    Spinning by Tillie Walden
    Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads
    Batman by Tom King, Lee Weeks, Clay Mann, et al
    The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
    Extremity by Daniel Warren Johnson
    The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
    Giant Days by John Allison, Max Sarin et al
    Hawkeye by Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero
    The Flintstones by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh
    (I totally didn’t mention My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris, and I should have, because it definitely belongs on there. )
  • Jeff’s AAA Top 10:
    Batman Annual #2/Batman/Elmer Fudd by Tom King, Lee Weeks and Michael Lark
    Legends of The Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Vols. 1 & 2 by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo
    Battle Angel Alita: Last Order by Yukito Kishiro
    The Complete Crepax Vol. 2: The Time Eater and Other Stories by Guido Crepax
    West Coast Avengers: Lost in Space-Time by Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott
    Interview with Monster Girls by Petos
    Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun by Izumi Tsubaki
    Delicious in Dungeon by Ryoko Kui
    Golden Kamuy by Satoru Noda
    Steaming Sniper by Marley Caribu and Tadashi Matsumori
    Rock Candy Mountain by Kyle Starks
  • Jeff’s runners-up, because of course he has runners-up:
    Dark Days: The Forge and Dark Days: The Casting by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Jim Lee, John Romita Jr, Andy Kubert et al (Ignore Jeff getting the creative team wrong.)
    The Flintstones by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh
    The Unbelievable Gwenpool by Christopher Hastings and Guruhiru
    Rocket by Al Ewing and Adam Gotham
    Deathstroke by Christopher Priest, Diogenes Neves et al
    I’m Not Okay With This by Charles Forsman
    The Hookjaw Archive by Pat Mills, Ken Armstrong and Ramona Sola

Shownotes for the new Baxter Building — which can already be found here! — will be up on Tuesday, because it’s the holiday season and I don’t want to spend the day writing show notes. Happy merry, everyone. May all your Christmases be a thing.

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Hello, Whatnauts!

Here’s episode two hundred and thirty-nine for your yuletide ears!  Due to some tech problems, the episode ran short (and turned out to be even shorter once you cut out the “Hello, Graeme, hello?” “Jeff?” “Graeme?” “Hello?” joshery).  Nevertheless, it is our hope we will scratch that hard-to-reach comic book podcast itch.

Topics discussed in today’s episode:

Our statement about the upcoming changes to Patreon’s fee structure;
*Jeff’s epitaph;
*An annotated readthrough of the lead story of World’s Finest #251, “Invasion of the Deathless Brain,” by Bob Haney, George Tuska, and Vince Colletta (oh, and good catch by Walter!  Here’s that amazing fan-drawn facial hair on Speedy below);


*The roundtable by Matt and Graeme about Justice League #34 by Priest and Pete Woods, and Batman #36 by Tom King, Clay and Seth Mann, with some additional commentary here by Jeff;
*But Jeff also read and wanted to talk about three kinda recent first issues: John Wick #1 by Greg Pak, Giovanni Valletta, David Curiel and Inlight Studios; Fence #1 by C.S. Pascat, Johanna The Mad, Joana LaFuente; Ninja-K #1 by Christos Gage, Tomás Giorello, and Diego Rodriguez; and the (not a first issue by super-excellent) Rock Candy Mountain #6 by Kyle Starks, Chris Schweizer, and Dylan Todd.
Also:
*The 2000AD 2017 Christmas Special;
*Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! 2000AD and Judge Dredd: The Secret History… by Pat Mills;
*The 2000AD Sale currently on their website (update: and thanks to editing this episode, Jeff now also has a digital copy of the Complete Harlem Heroes);
and more!

We will return in two weeks for the last Baxter Building of the year!  Read Fantastic Four #s 322-327 and come join us!

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It’s a truism of writing about comics on the internet that first issues get a lot of attention and hyped issues get a lot of attention but no one ever bothers to talk about anything from issue #3 onward. With that in mind, Graeme and Matt decided to get together to do a good-old-fashioned Roundtable on Justice League #34 and Batman #36. Enjoy!

(Okay, okay. JL #34 is Christopher Priest’s first issue as regular writer, with Pete Woods on art. And Batman #36 is something of a Very Special Issue guest-starring Superman, written by Tom King, pencilled by Clay Mann, inked by Clay & Seth Mann, with colors by Jordie Bellaire. They’re also the first issues to feature DC’s (frankly lovely) post-Rebirth trade dress. Anyway: ROUNDTABLE!)

 

MATT: I cannot help but approach this Justice League title feeling happy for Priest. One of his most common refrains in anecdotes and essays and what-not, is that he (understandably) hated the fact that in the later years of his career he only ever got calls to write black superheroes.

Actually, no need for me to paraphrase him. Here’s Priest in a 2011 essay: Continue reading

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Greetings!  Just in time to close out the first weekend of December is Wait, What? Ep. 238! Here’s a quick breakdown of what Graeme and Jeff talked about in their two and a half-hour episode, in more or less the order they talked about it in:

Advent calendars;
Some of the best books of the year Graeme’s been reading;
Frankenstein’s comic book swap;
What we bought in the recent DC Sale;
Cinder and Ashe;
Batman Annual #2;
speculation about the end of Doomsday Clock;
Bug: The Adventures of Forager by the Allreds;
revisiting Multiversity;
Grant Morrison and Dan Mora’s Klaus and the Crisis in Xmasville;
C.B. Cebulski and the legacy of Akira Yoshida;
and a little bit more!

And if that wasn’t enough for you, all you have to do is wait a week and we’ll do it all over again!  (Well, different topics next time, one would hope.)  Thank you so much for joining us, and we hope you enjoy!

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Sure, it should be a skip week this week, but in the spirit of the holidays, here’s a compilation of the previously Patreon-only Baxter Bungalow episodes, in which I talk about (deep breath) Alpha Flight #4, The Uncanny X-Men #167, West Coast Avengers #10 and The Thing #s 5, 6, 8, and 10-23, all of which tie in, to greater or lesser extents with John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run. For those who’ve wondered what Ben Grimm got up to on Battleworld, or even worse, what he got up to when he got back to Earth, now is your chance to find out. Spoilers: It’s weirder than you think.

(There’s no Jeff on this, sorry; it was always intended as a solocast, but his absence does point out how necessary he is to regular Baxter Buildings and Wait, What?s.)

Even more than usual, this episode is brought to you by the kind Patreon supporters, who heard these as they were released first time, and who make Baxter Building and the lesser-known Bungalow possible in the first place. On this Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S., Jeff and I are particularly grateful for the support shown by them — and all of you who listen — to our comic book ramblings.

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