http://theworkingdraft.com/media/podcasts2/WaitWhat247.mp3
 [apologies if that link doesn’t turn into something you can auto-play. I have no idea why it’s acting up, but hopefully have got the damn episode encoded elsewhere…]
0:01-13:13: Welcome!  Graeme announces he is weirdly crabby; Jeff announces he just had a visit from Mr. David Wolkin; and there’s a terrifying story about the best pizza place in Portland going *too* Portland, a profile about the man behind Dave’s Killer Bread, and much more “not yet” talk.  Don’t worry!  comic book talk is coming!

13:13-1:08:08: In fact, it’s here!  Our ALL-SPOILERS, WE GIVE-IT-ALL-AWAY talk about Avengers: Infinity War has arrived.  Discussed:  Some really smart choices; what happened to Hawkeye; what are the gimmes for the sequel, including Jeff’s beautiful theory that Graeme is more or less entirely sure will not happen; the JMS-ification of MCU Spider-Man; the bit that broke the movie for Graeme; Jeff’s pinko anxiety about the MCU’s neolib anxiety; the Kingsman: The Secret Service connection; the choices made for MCU Thanos; and more (Carboat)!
1:08:08-1:21:31: In fact, Carboat leads us into a discussion of contrarian social media and the motivations behind it; 9/11 and superhero movies, which lead us to…
1:21:31-1:33:06:  Actual comic book talk!  About comics!  Jeff just read Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction, Vol. 1 by Inio Asano, and it gave him an abundance of feels!  We circle back to the MCU and the military-industrial complex; how Marvel Comics treats the MIC, reflected in, for example, the work of Brian Michael Bendis.
1:33:06-1:55:02:  Speaking of Bendis:  how is he going to fit into the DCU, considering some of his takes on things at Marvel?  Are we going to see something different from him, considering he’s writing Superman, who, as Graeme puts it, “is one of the more establishment characters.”  Which ropes us into a discussion of DC Nation #0: the Bendis story in it, but also the pieces in the recent free (or near-free) comic. Also discussed: Justice League: No Justice #1; Dial L for Loeb; discussing Bendis’ final Marvel work, including his work on Iron Man; a summing up of the Superman and Action Comics Rebirth titles up to now; and more.
 
1:55:02-2:19:48: A comic book round-up of various titles, including:  Batman #46 by Tom King and Tony Daniel!  Jeff does not like it, but can give a spirited defense of it nonetheless?  Discussed: Alan Moore; cheap comedy; and more; You Are Deadpool #1 by Al Ewing and Salva Espin—a Deadpool comic that is a Choose Your Own RPG comic! Absolutely an impressive formalistic achievement…but then why are both Graeme and Jeff left a bit cold? Additionally  Jeff caught up on issues #3-5 of Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell, Mike Freeman, and Mark Morales, and wanted to check in with Graeme about his feelings about the book; and Jeff also caught up with something like six chapters of Platinum End by Ohba and Obata, and is happy to report…he now kinda maybe likes it?  Plus: Vampire Tales, Vol. 3!
2:19:48-2:38:53: Finally, a very important Infinity Wars-related question:  if you could cast Hawkeye but only with an actor named Jeremy, who would you pick? Also discussed: CQ, what happened to Josh Holloway; are we ever going to see Gambit: The Movie; the Avengers relaunch and the preview of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Captain America; and more.
2:38:53-end:  Closing comments!   Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr,  and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.
NEXT WEEK:  Baxter Building!  Join us for a discussion of Fantastic Four Annual #s 19, 22-24, but also feel free to check out the 40 pages of Barry Windsor-Smith’s unpublished Thing graphic novel that several people have pointed us to. We probably won’t discuss it….but we might?
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0:01-7:35:  A little bit of catching up, mostly about the unfortunate Penthouse Forum-ian aspect of Jeff’s work recently.  And then…
7:35-15:16:  We have a spoiler-free discussion of Avengers: Infinity War, as Graeme has seen it but Jeff has not.  And then from that, it’s off to…
 15:16-39:59: Graeme talking about the big stack of Jim Starlin Thanos stuff (Infinity War the comic, Infinity Crusade, the three Thanos graphic novels Starlin did, The Infinity Abyss, Marvel Comics: The End, and even more) he’s read in preparation for writing about the film.  If you’ve followed us for a while, you know Jeff is a huge fan of Starlin’s work in the Marvel Universe with Thanos, while Graeme….eh, not so much.  UNTIL NOW.  We talk about these books, about Starlin, and about the possible future of Marvel Unlimited (where Graeme read almost all of the material mentioned).
39:59-1:00:56: And now it’s time for what is becoming a terrifyingly regular feature to our Wait, What? Episodes—more discussions about the Fantastic Four aside from, in addition to, or in spite of our regular Baxter Building podcast.  In this installment, Graeme has read the first thirty issues of the DeFalco/Ryan run to come, and Jeff read vol. 4 of the collected Mark Waid/Karl Kesel/Mike Wieringo run, and here we are talking about it in our non-FF podcast.  What is wrong with us?
 
1:00:56-1:12:47:  But to discuss other stuff we’ve read or watched:  Jeff spends some time blabbing about the first Master of Kung-Fu Epic Collection by Doug Moench, Paul Gulacy, Al Milgrom, Ron Wilson, John Buscema, and *many* other artists.

1:12:47-1:34:45: How are the broilingly conflicted undercurrents of MOKF similar to those Jeff perceives in that Venom trailer?  And how does that connect to Die Hard? Or the Netflix McG movie, The Babysitter? We’re so glad you asked!
1:34:45-1:50:18: And finally (sorta), Jeff had an epiphany about the new role Joss Whedon should play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He felt it was worth sharing.  Here’s your chance to listen and say to yourself (in your best Graeme McMillan voice) : was it, though?
1:50:18-2:11:16: “Graeme,” Jeff finally all but pleads. “Let’s talk about what you want to talk about!”  And what does Graeme want to talk about?  In no particular order: Bendis’s Clark Kent; Tom King’s Batman issues #45 and #46; “a metric shit-ton of 2000 AD stuff,” including Abnett and Winslade’s Loveless; and more, especially when Jeff decides to cut in and start talking about the digital Vampire Tales collections he’s been reading.
2:11:16-???: Technical difficulties give us the title of this episode, but also start steering us toward closing comments.  How long does it take us to get there?
2:21:49-end:  This long!  And also:  closing comments!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr,  and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.
NEXT WEEK:  Another installment of Wait, What?  And if Jeff can gets his act, together—Avengers: Infinity War!
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Previously on Baxter Building: As Walt Simonson’s run on Fantastic Four continued, Jeff and I continued to get disillusioned with Walt Simonson’s run on Fantastic Four. Or, at least, I did; Jeff was never particularly illusioned to begin with. It’s very possible that the teenage me who first read these comics was easily distracted by (admittedly amazing) artwork.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Faithful Whatnauts might have noticed an unexpected lack of episodes for the last couple of weeks, and also might be wondering what’s behind the sudden disappearance, and relative radio silence about it beyond a brief couple of tweets last week. The reasons for our disappearance come down to what I’m sure everyone expected: Real life intruded, and we had to take a step back for a second. On a mundane level, I was dealing with a sick dog and a sick wife simultaneously, but far more importantly, Jeff’s dad was very sick and passed away this weekend. We went back and forth about whether or not we’d try and do an episode last week, as much from the “Maybe a distraction would be good” angle as anything, but circumstances conspired against that happening.

As things currently stand right now, we’re planning to try and record again this week with the intent of having a new episode next weekend, but as I’m sure you can all understand, this is a tentative plan that might change. Both Jeff and I have been really grateful for your patience and understanding during the break, as well as feeling (unreasonably, on Jeff’s part) guilty about not updating everyone on the situation sooner, but I hope you can forgive our uncertainty and nervousness about sharing details earlier. We hope to be back soon, with something resembling our traditional snark and perhaps kinder words to say about Walt Simonson’s Fantastic Four; until then, really, thank you all for sticking around even while we’re not saying anything.

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0:00-17:58: Greetings! Graeme is recovering from con crud.  And a report from Emerald City Comic Con. Discussed: meetings with Hannah Blumenreich, Aud Koch, Evan Shaner, and more; a discussion of comics news around the Con that were not announced at the Con itself; the possible rebound of Marvel; and more.
17:58-33:33: One of those bits of news is the Erica Henderson is leaving The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, so we talk about what that will mean to the book, what we’ve appreciated about the North/Henderson run, and more.
33:33-58:47: The first issue of Oblivion Song by Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici is out, and with it comes the news that this is something that Kirkman has been planning for a long time.  How’s the first issue? And what are Kirkman’s plans?  Also discussed: Prism Stalker #1 by Sloane Leong; the Planet of the Apes scale to measuring good storytelling.
58:47-1:28:08:  Thanks to a recent anniversary sale, Graeme has been mainlining fifteen hundred pages of Judge Dredd.  Discussed:  The Pit; Brothers of the Blood; Tour of Duty; and the newly re-available M.A.C.H. 1 collection created by Pat Mills and Enio, Robert Flynn, Niles Allen, John Cooper, John Wagner, and others; One Eyed Jack by John Wagner and John Cooper; the upcoming Megazine; and others.
1:28:08-2:01:05: Milk Wars, the Young Animal/DCU crossover has ended, and we are here to mull it over, especially the last issue of the crossover: The Doom Patrol/JLA Special #1 by Gerard Way, Steve Orlando, Dale Eaglesham, and Nick Derington. Also: discussed Shade, The Changing Girl; Jeff Lemire doing The Terrifics at DC, but also returning to Marvel to write The Sentry; The Life of Captain Marvel miniseries by Margaret Stohl, and Carlos Pacheco; and more.
2:01:05-end:  Closing comments!  Along with Mark Thomas Gibson, Jeff is going to be a guest on the excellent We Eat Art podcast by John Mejias and Zak Smith to discuss the Black Panther!  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. 39!  Read issues #342-349 of Fantastic Four by the might Walt Simonson and join us!
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0:00-7:47: Greetings; the Kurt Eichenwald/Diversity & Comics feud; and our next proposed Patreon tier;
7:47-47:49: Comics worth discussing (brought to you by Hoopla, and yes, the hyperlinks for the DC books are to the Hoopla pages):  Wired: Graeme is reading Batman And The Outsiders, Vol. 2 by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo  (and Trevor Von Eeden!) Tired: Jeff read Superman Vs. Darkseid by John Byrne, Mark Schultz, Jerry Ordway, Michael Turner, Jeph Loeb and many others.  Enmired: John Byrne, what the hell is wrong with you?
47:49-1:09:54: Wild: Jeff wants to talk about Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt #1 by Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, Jorge Jimenez, Doug Mahnke and Jamie Mendoza  (full spoilers on this one, I guess?)  Mild: how Geoff Johns sees the DCU, as reflected in current issues of Doomsday Clock and perhaps the event’s conclusion Unfiled: discussions of the DC Rebirth Special, Earth2 by Morrison and Quitely and much more.
1:09:54-1:28:48:  Jeff really thought we were going to get into a very deep, spoiler-filled discussion of the Black Panther movie, but instead…we just kind of lightly discuss it, spoil a chunk of it, but only after discussing Black Panther Annual #1 [Kindle/Comixology link: http://amzn.to/2CIpaL3 ] by Christopher Priest, Don McGregor, Reginald Hudlin, Mike Perkins, Daniel Acuña, and Ken Lashley.
 
1:28:48-2:24:09: I think we end our discussion of the movie here and move on to talk about some BP-related marketing from Marvel, including their pricing of the first three digital volumes of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run for $1.99, as well as some other Marvel tricks about which Jeff is his unsurprisingly hand-wringy self.  Also discussed: the class action suit against Funko; the Marvel presentation at ComicsPro; C.B. Cebulski; Marvel Fresh Start; the artist exodus from Marvel; the free digital graphic novel giveaway with Amazon; idle speculation about the future of Marvel Unlimited; and much more.
2:24:09-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.
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Previously on Baxter Building: It’s an all-new beginning once more, as the Steve Englehart era is behind us, and the Fantastic Four — really, five, because Ben Grimm is still part of the team despite being de-powered — is ready for some old-school adventures freed of the meta-textual war between writer and editorial that has marked the last year or so of the series. Can incoming creator Walt Simonson right a ship that’s been enjoyable, if somewhat listing, for quite some time…?

0:00:00-0:06:29: In a surprise move, we open our first episode of the Simonson era by examining Jeff’s relationship with Simonson’s work, and the fact that — gasp — he’s not really a fan! Well, it’s more complicated than that; he loves the artwork, but doesn’t love the writing. Get your disbelief out the way now, because he might end up converting you by episode’s end.


0:06:30-0:39:29:
Instead of going issue-by-issue, we somehow fall into an en-masse discussion of Fantastic Four #334-336, which Jeff keeps calling the “Dark Congress” issues. (We’re unusually bad with issue titles this episode, so I’ll put them here: #334 is “Shadows of Alarm,” #335 is “Death by Debate,” and #336 is, indeed, “Dark Congress!”) I think the issues, drawn by Walt Simonson with art by Rich Buckler and Ron Lim, are “enjoyable in a way that the book hasn’t been in years,” and are gentle — if not particularly funny — comedy, but Jeff doesn’t agree in the slightest, because he sees a more sinister motive behind making fun of silly villains. We talk Mark Gruenwald, Steve Gerber, John Byrne, and then slip very much into talking about the next few issues early, in trying to talk about why these issues disappointed Jeff so much. The short version? Simonson’s writing really needs Simonson’s artwork in order to fully function.


0:39:30-0:53:31:
“Once you get to the double page spread on pages 2 and 3, the scope of the book is bigger,” I enthuse as we get to the All-Simonson Fantastic Four #337, although we go back and forth about whether the writing lives up to the artwork here. (Spoiler: It doesn’t, but we’ll get to the reasons why soon enough.) Jeff can’t help but see the specter of John Byrne in these pages, although I think it’s more a shared devotion to the same source Lee/Kirby material. That said, one of Jeff’s reasons for the Byrne comparison is worth its weight in rhetorical gold all by itself.


0:53:32-1:08:51:
Discussion on FF #338 opens with the idea of Simonson’s art taking the book back to its sci-fi roots, before Jeff brings up a point of continuity that I hadn’t even considered (or remembered, for that matter), and we talk about the way in which the Fantastic Four comic has somehow stopped being about the Fantastic Four, somehow. What is the central idea behind the Fantastic Four, and how much does the team called the Fantastic Four have to be part of it…? All this, and Jeff’s dislike for Death’s Head, an unnecessary Kieron Gillen slam — those two things aren’t unrelated — and our shared enjoyment for Simonson’s language, if not necessarily his plotting.

1:08:52-1:26:42: Fantastic Four #339 continues to dazzle with the visuals, with a three-page opening sequence that Jeff and I can’t help but pull apart. I said I’d share all three pages, so…

…Really. How amazing is that? (Especially knowing that the final page is a page turn from the all-black panel page.) Meanwhile, I arguably give Simonson far too much credit for giving the readers credit, before complaining that the plot for this issue comes out of nowhere and seems like a waste of time. Jeff describes it as “weirdly half-assed,” and honestly, he’s not wrong. We puzzle through the plan being enacted in this issue as we explain the plot, and it’s not as if we come to any kind of conclusion.


1:26:43-1:40:47:
FF #340 opens with me riffing on where Simonson’s head is at as a writer, and what that means for the storyline going on right now. Jeff isn’t happy with this issue’s plot, and tries to argue that this is the biggest waste of time in the entire storyline because of yet another side quest that adds little to the overall story. I’m not convinced, because (a) monsters, (b) Reed’s suicide run, which leads is prompted by some clearly false jeopardy (Not one reader of the comic at this point seriously believes Sue is going to die), but does result in some amazing art, which once again gets dissected. Is this the most we’ve ever talked about the art in a Baxter Building? Possibly, or at least since the Kirby days. Perhaps that’s a clue as to where the strength of these stories lies…


1:40:48-1:56:27:
Does the opening narration of Fantastic Four #341 suggest that even those responsible think that the last issue was filler? Maybe, but this issue really tries to make up for it by packing in a whole bunch of plot in an attempt to wrap everything up and destroy all of reality in the process. Well, if you’re going to go out on a story like this, I guess you’re going out with a bang — and we try to live up to what’s going on with some singing, some art appreciation, and wondering why the surprise reveal that sets up the conclusion works the way it does. (Even though Jeff calls it a cheat; I’m not sure that’s entirely fair, but Simonson is certainly playing with reader expectation in a way that both works and disappoints.)


1:56:28-end:
We speed towards the end of the episode with a little piece of continuity minutiae — the villain of this entire arc wasn’t actually who she appeared to be, thanks to an after-the-fact retcon — and then a reminder that you can find us all over the internet, especially at our Twitter, Tumblr and Patreon accounts. Next time around: I hopefully won’t be sick so we won’t have to wait a week to record the next episode, and we’ll be going through Fantastic Four #342-349. As always, thank you for listening and reading along.

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I wound up on Marvel Day At Sea almost by accident. Our friends went on a Disney Cruise a couple of years ago and loved it, and suggested that we might want to come along on the next one. The booking time was chosen more than a year out based on work busy seasons and cruise pricing, not the the theme day. If we had gone a week earlier, it would’ve been Star Wars, which my wife and daughter and I would’ve loved but my son would’ve been indifferent to; instead we got Marvel which has something for all of us.

I had never done a cruise before, so literally everything about the experience was new (and slightly baffling) to me. For those of you in the same boat (LOL BOAT JOKES!), our five day cruise worked basically like this: Day 1 was at sea, travelling to Day 2’s stop; Day 3 was Marvel Day at Sea while travelling to Day 4’s stop; Day 5 is very short and you leave the boat.

While you’re on the boat, you can participate in any number of activities, scheduled (shows, classes, contests, etc.) and free-form (pools, spa stuff, pictures with Disney characters, stuffing your face, etc.). It’s like a large, floating hotel/mall combo, almost entirely tilted toward Disney-owned IP. I saw The Last Jedi three more times while on the cruise. The stateroom TVs have channels including “Pixar Movies,” “Marvel Movies,” and “Disney Classics”. That kinda thing.

On Marvel Day at Sea, all of those things still happen, but with Marvel branding. And, I will tell you, it is a sight to behold.  Here, for example, is a long line of people wrapping around the boat to get a picture with Loki. Not the actual Norse god Loki, of course, and not noted Taylor Swift ex-“boyfriend” (and Loki actor) Tom Hiddleston, either. Just a pleasant, official, onboard Loki.

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