I’ve been a little cold on comics in general, lately. It happens to me every now and then–usually around big crossovers or when my backlog of unread stuff gets out of control (although I guess that’s a chicken-egg question). Most of what I’ve been enjoying these days are things like Saga and The Wicked + Divine–long-running books not connected to anything else–or the fun, lightweight stuff on Marvel Unlimited: Squirrel Girl, all of Al Ewing’s stuff, MockingbirdGwenpool, stuff like that.

Whenever this cooling happens, though, it brings what I think of as the Puff The Magic Dragon question in the back of my head: is this the time that my regular comic fix will make way for other toys? So far (obviously) that hasn’t happened. There’s always been something to pull me back. A title (Scott Pilgrim comes to mind) or a new creative direction (Grant Morrison on New X-Men) or even a new technological innovation (I think I would be all but done with monthly comics if it weren’t for digital).

But it’s been hard to see where something like that might come from this time. Marvel is mired in what looks increasingly like a death spiral. DC is cheerfully bogged down in the Rebirth project, which a lot of people seem to love, but which left me largely indifferent (as my failed attempts to get caught up probably show). Many of the creators I used to love have moved on to work that doesn’t resonate with me, and many of the newer folks getting regular work–aside from Ewing and Tom King–feel either fungible (I’ve confused Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes more times than I can count), committed to one book that I’m already reading (Ryan North, etc.), or pleasant-enough-to-read-on-Unlimited but not really anything that’s going to drag back my wandering attention.

I’m not sure why I forgot about Kyle Starks.

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 0:00-7:32: Greetings from a very relaxed Graeme McMillan and a perhaps somewhat less relaxed Jeff Lester.  But, relaxed though they may be, they are still reading some of the books they discussed last week:  Graeme is still making his way through Hostage by Guy Delisle, and Jeff is still making his way through (deep breath) Abandoned Cars by Tim Lane, Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth Saga Uncensored by Pat Mills, Mike McMahon and just about everybody, and although he finished vol. 1 of West Coast Avengers by Englehart, Milgrom, and Sinnott, he’s just barely dug into volume 2 (which actually starts seven issues after volume 1.  Boo, Marvel!)

7:32-21:46: The discussion about 2000 A.D. pacing in the 70s leads fittingly into Rob Williams’ current writing on Suicide Squad with art first by Jim Lee and currently by John Romita, Jr. (and a plethora of artists for each issue’s back-up strips, such as Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreria in issue #14).  Also discussed:  the combat banter of Steve Englehart; the use of shtick and the back-up story structure in Suicide Squad; and more.

21:46-29:52:  Jeff was a bit bummed to hear one of his favorite comics, DC’s The Flintstones, is ending after issue #12.  And asking about this is a very fine way to get Graeme to talk about the upcoming DC/Hanna Barbera crossover annuals for which Graeme has read the review copies.  Discussed:  Flintstones/Booster Gold by Mark Russell and Rick Leonardi; the Snagglepuss back-up; the Batman/Top Cat crossover; and more.
29:52-35:28:  This episode was recorded on the day the new Justice League trailer was released (see above), so it made sense to transition from talking about the latest DC comics to DC’s latest attempt to build a franchise.  What’d we think?

35:28-59:47: And from the DC movie trailer, to the latest Marvel (non-Marvel Studios) movie, Logan.  Please note this is a full spoilers discussion—pretty much every bit of it gets spoiled so stay away from this section if you still haven’t seen it.
59:47-1:02:46: From there we pivot to discusss…the other Wait, What? podcast! (Wait, what?) We are many, and we contain multitudes, apparently?
1:02:46-1:12:12: And hey, here we are discussing this Marvel retailer conference thing that’s happening kinda/sorta of the downlow.  Jeff is wondering what Graeme has heard about, and if he thinks the Marvel Leopard can change its spots.
1:12:12-1:23:11:  What should’ve been a discussion on what Graeme’s reading becomes a longer discussion about Tom King’s Batman—Graeme is enjoying it tremendously, but Jeff is so far behind, will he ever catch up? And if so, how?

1:23:11-1:35:50: Graeme is also very impressed with what Joshua Williamson (with a raft of artists such as Carmine Di Giandomenico, Jesus Merino, and others) is doing to reinvent Barry Allen for The Flash, by taking the TV Barry Allen and doing an even better job with it. And that gets us into a discussion of characters that we care enough about that we’ll check out no matter who is on the title.
1:35:50-1:57:08: Graeme had linked to an article on Medium by Meg Downey about fanfic and although Jeff still hasn’t read the piece (he fav’d it for later), we discuss a bit about fanfic’s ability to give audiences what they want on certain properties better than the corporate owners of the properties. And then there’s some more talk from Jeff about Englehart and West Coast Avengers because, hey, who can stop him?

1:57:08-2:02:05: Also, thanks to another A+ manga recommendation from a Whatnaut, Jeff just finished the first volume of Interviews with Monster Girls by Petos, and wants to talk about it.

2:02:05-2:09:43: And Graeme wants to talk a bit about Terms and Conditions by R. Sikoryak which he is, uh, coolish about. He also wants to discuss Boundless by Jillian Tomaki, which he loves. And then…
2:09:43-: 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. Oh, but before we go, Jeff has a theory about the Cursed Earth Saga, a certain creation of Pat Mills, and a certain creation of Jack Kirby.

Next week:  A skip week!  And then in two weeks, a Baxter Building!

(From Abandoned Cars by Tim Lane)

First things first, make sure you don’t miss out Matt talking about that Logan movie right below this very entry, y’hear?

Good stuff, right?  And now, some show notes:

0:00-3:47: Greetings! This week’s opening illustrates that turnabout is fair play.  (Or does it?)
3:47-17:12:  And then, in another stunning reversal, we actually open the podcast, not closing it, by talking about the comics we’ve read recently, so we can dig into our books a little bit more than our dashed off lists at the end.  We open with Jeff exhorting people with Marvel Unlimited to go read Son of Satan #8 by Bill Mantlo and Russ Heath, and then talking about his recent reads and purchases.   Also discussed (briefly or not):  Abandoned Cars by Tim Lane (via Comixology Unlimited); vol. 5 of Girl’s Manga Nozaki-Kun; vol. 1 of Murcielago (thanks, Paul Spence!); Suicide Squad #13 Gwenpool #13; Platinum End Chapter 17; and the most recent issue (or should we say ‘the last issue’?) of Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye.
17:12-43:50: Jeff picked up two digital trades of STEVE FUCKING ENGLEHART’s West Coast Avengers. But before we get there, Graeme, as it turns out, has been reading almost the entire run of Green Lantern Corps by none other than…STEVE FUCKING ENGLEHART!  Unsurprisingly, what follows is a very extensive discussion on STEVE FUCKING ENGLEHART and, maybe more surprisingly STEVE ENGLEHART’s take on FUCKING.
43:50-50:58: Jeff has also been reading Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth Uncensored, and hoo boy what a read that is turning out to be!
50:58-1:07:27: Next, we set our sights on Amazing Spider-Man #25, a $9.99 comic that Graeme and I both plunked down hard cash on because that’s how much we dig Hannah Blumenreich’s work.  Before we get to that, though, Jeff has some questions about Dan Slott’s Spider-Man.  Like, a lot of questions.
1:07:27-1:12:21:  (In case you’re wondering where we rave about Hannah Blumenreich’s “Mutts Ado About Nothing” from that issue, this is pretty much where we do it.)
1:12:21-1:23:32: From there, Graeme pivots to cover some of the other stuff he’s been reading, in particular the last six issues (and more) of the two Captain America titles, but also taking in comics like the current run on Flash, the Fraction/Aja/and co. version of Hawkeye and more.
1:23:32-1:32:23: But! Graeme is really enjoying All-New Wolverine by Tom Taylor, Leonard Kirk, Ig Guara, and others.
1:32:23-1:52:08:  Since we’re talking about Marvel books, Jeff wanted to talk about/overanalyze a lovely tweet from Al Kennedy that asked: “Here’s a game: You’re Marvel. Your distribution deal collapses back to the 1960s, so you’re only allowed to publish 8 books. What are they?”  We talk about Graeme’s answer, and why Jeff is being a weirdo and why he can’t answer.
1:52:08-2:05:14: And to pivot from there: when is a Marvel book not a Marvel book?  Boy, does Graeme have a very weird answer to that cheesy question.
2:05:14-2:28:33:  Closing comments? Or…last minute digression to talk about the little bit of Iron Fist we’ve seen on Netflix?  (I should flesh this out a little bit more but I don’t think you’re going to get more from me than a link to Graeme’s glorious tweet).
2:28:33-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:  Another Wait, What?!? Hell, yes!

I saw Logan a week ago, my wife and I sneaking out to late show on Sunday night despite both needing to work the next day. My hopes were not high, despite the generally positive reviews and my residual fondness for Hugh Jackman (in general and as Wolverine in particular), mainly because I found the previous James Mangold-directed entry (The Wolverine) to be a disjointed mess.

(I also tried to watch X-Men: Apocalypse for free on-demand the night before, and found the first 20 minutes so dreadful that I (a) Turned it off to do literally anything else with my life, and (b) Felt like it might’ve been bad enough to make hate the entire concept of live-action films about the X-Men.)

(And, no, I haven’t watched Legion yet. It’s backlogged on my DVR. I’m sure it will restore my faith in superpowered live filmed entertainment, etc. Not yet, though.)

I wound up enjoying it a lot, to the point where I’m still thinking about seven days later. This post is my attempt to figure out why that is. So it’s listicle time again!

(Assume pretty FULL SPOILERS FOR LOGAN BELOW. At a minimum, it’s written kinda presupposing that you’ve seen the movie, or are at least largely aware of the details of it.)

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Previously on Baxter Building: After an impressive debut, the John Byrne era of Fantastic Four stumbled as the writer/artist completed his first year — but he certainly continued to be ambitious, bringing in some old favorite characters like the Black Panther, Doctor Doom and Galactus so early into his run. But what happens when his ambition outstrips his execution?

0:00:00-0:06:13: We launch into the episode by admitting that these aren’t the most memorable of issues, and that our happy glow when we think of the first Byrne episode is fading fast. We’re covering Fantastic Four #248-260 this time around, and it’s an uneven grab bag that mostly spirals down in terms of quality, be warned.

0:06:14-0:18:39: When is a story not a story? When it’s that laziest of things, a dream sequence. Enter FF #248, in which Byrne tips his hand way too early about whether or not what’s happening on the page is “real,” while also not being particularly bothered in setting up the context surrounding the whole thing. Why is Reed dreaming of Treens and Space: 1999? Just what is going on with Triton? Is all of the Marvel Universe a dream, when you really get down to it? (I mean, yes, but still.)

0:18:40-0:31:37: “This is when John Byrne moves into becoming Unfortunate John Byrne” says Jeff when referring to Fantastic Four #249, and he’s not just saying that because of some unfortunate layout choices. Nope, it’s the writing that we really attack here, because Mr. Byrne knows just how the Fantastic Four and its surrounding world should act and he’s here to make sure you understand exactly what he means, no matter how dull that might make a fight issue. Also, the worst cliffhanger of the Byrne run to date? That would be this one, leading into…

0:31:38-0:43:34: FF #250, which works best if you assume that (a) all anyone wants out of an anniversary issue is an appearance by the main cast, regardless of quality or common sense (Really, what else is Alicia doing in here?), and (b) that all superheroes are stupid and have never, ever met the X-Men ever before. On the plus side, we do get to get a preview of how John Byrne will approach Superman years hence, which isn’t exactly what anyone would have expected. And, as I note, as bad as this issue might be, it’s still better than what’s just around the corner.

0:43:35-0:57:44: Fantastic Four #251 launches the you-won’t-believe-it-drags-on-so-long Negative Zone saga, which seems like a good idea but that’s because you’re imagining the best version instead of the Byrne version. This issue has a lot to recommend it, however, including some good “Day in the Life” stuff (and the introduction of Christopher Reeve, above), a toyetic and Tardis-like spacecraft, the best proof yet that John Byrne takes this stuff far too seriously, and a cliffhanger that couldn’t have been more lampshades if the dialogue had actually included the words “What about this guy we’re mentioning right now, do you think he’ll show up before the end of the issue to cause trouble? What are the odds?” Feel free to be as surprised as I am that neither Jeff nor myself tried to make “Byrne’s Annihilus” into the comic book version of “Chekhov’s gun.”

0:57:45-1:08:55: Everything goes sideways in FF #252, as Jeff tries (and fails) to make the argument that turning the page sideways to draw it constitutes an experiment, but that still might be one of the most interesting things about the issue. But at least we also get to see… Reed getting sick, which allows the rest of the team the only opportunity they have to fuck up…? Okay, maybe that’s not the most convincing argument in favor of the book. Welcome to the new era of surprisingly light, throwaway done-in-ones, everyone!

1:08:56-1:14:17: If nothing else, let’s take note that Jeff’s love of the splash for Fantastic Four #253 gives us a chance to say something positive about an issue that is, in almost every other respect, entirely throwaway, as if written by someone for whom “But what if it’s not?” is seen as a worthy plot twist in and of itself, separate from, you know, actually having a story attached on either end. That said, we do get to find out about Negative Zone pranks here, and let’s just be honest: Annihilus’s sense of humor is a thing of wonder.

1:14:18-1:24:07: Things pick up for all the wrong reasons in FF #254, which debuts the new catchphrase Jeff wishes that Reed Richards would adopt, while both of us agree that, for once, Byrne seems to get that all of the team are adults while also demonstrating that no-one ever wants to see a topless Reed using his powers ever, ever again. Who knew that pink stretching man would seem so much more gross than blue stetting man? And yet, now we have the proof.

1:24:08-1:42:48: Perhaps reflecting our dislike for the way this plot line goes, we end up discussing Fantastic Four #255 and 256, and its crossover issue Avengers #233, all in one go. (The issue titles, which I think we skipped, are “Trapped” and “The Annihilation Gambit!”, if you’re bothered.) Under discussion: overly-purple prose when Daredevil shows up, the fact that it turns out to be trouble when your big climax hinges around a plot that no-one had really thought out (who knew?) and the arrival of the Byrne-era FF costumes, which come about because no-one apparently thought to explain to him that the “negative,” or inverse, of a black and blue costume would be a white and orange one. Annihilus, you deserved better than this weird plot line, even if you apparently couldn’t tell when people are alive or dead.

1:42:59-1:49:29: “Fragments,” AKA FF #257, lives up to its title with an especially scattered issue that feels very subplot heavy, but it’s actually doing the heavy lifting for what’s coming up in a few months. Meanwhile, I tell Jeff about The Thing #2, which ties into this issue despite that not being obvious anywhere in the issue itself. Oh, and Galactus destroys the Skrull home world, and it feels very much like the afterthought that I’m treating it as.

1:49:30-2:02:40: With both time and our attention span dwindling, we once again group a number of issues together, this time covering #258-260, which have a lot of things you’d think we’d enjoy more: A Doctor Doom spotlight issue centering on his psychological issues! The apparent death of Doom (although that’s obviously not the case, despite the fact that Jeff misses the get-out clause)! Three issues entirely without Reed Richards! And yet, our enthusiasm is dampened not only by the fact that Byrne himself feels less than enthusiastic, but also because one of the two antagonists of this storyline is the former Terrax the Tamer, a character who will never, ever be interesting despite how much creators feel otherwise. That we spend more time talking about Namor’s hair from a brief cameo sequence than how awesome Terrax is should be a clue.
2:02:41 – end: We wrap everything up by wondering just why these issues were underwhelming, and then looking ahead to next month’s episode, where we’ll go from #261 through #270. In the meantime, you can check out our Tumblr, Patron and Twitter, or simply return back here next week for a brand-new Wait, What?. As always, thanks for reading and listening, and sorry for everyone who got caught out by the faulty file uploaded earlier. Things are fixed now, honest!


0:00-21:49: Greetings! And then a story about greetings!  And then, because we are such professionals, we have an honest to God addendum about our last episode with the news that Jaws, Jaws 2, Jaws 3(-D), and Jaws: The Revenge are all leaving Netflix on March 1st.  Quick, call in sick!  Us being us, we then return to back to touch on all things we didn’t touch on in our first discussion (and some of the things we did).  Things like:  after Jaws, what is the second best Jaws movie?  Ryan North’s study of the novelization of Back To The Future? And who the hell were some of those movie novelizations written for?  And as long as I’m doing all these links, get this.  I’m buying one for Graeme right now!
21:49-32:44: And from there, Graeme drops a pretty big spoiler bomb about Kong: Skull Island that blows Jeff’s tiny mind!  And then Graeme drops a serious spoiler for The Lego Batman Movie! And then Jeff talks…waffles!
Also discussed: the best Twitter account still not on Twitter, the best Captain Beefheart album, etc.
32:44-37:26: Comic books!  We also talk about those!  Or, maybe more to the point, we talk about websites that talk about comic books…occasionally.
37:26-49:24: But Jeff is part of the problem certainly, because he read those issues of IDW’s Rom Graeme recommended last episode and all he could think was: man, what a great TV show this would be! Also discussed: those damn Transformers movies, Anthony Hopkins, Shia LaBeouf, the best title for the most recent Indiana Jones movie, and more.
49:24-1:02:30: Graeme has a comic book question for Jeff.  Marvel has Generations and the upcoming Make Mine Marvel initiatives.  Could they make Jeff jump back on to Marvel’s bandwagon? Discussed: Marvel Unlimited acting up, the first four issues of Civil War II (but not really because there are all these other issues of Civil War II before you even get to the first issue), and then…TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES.
1:02:30-1:10:17: But then we are back, better than ever!  So that Jeff can complain some more about Brian Bendis.  Lucky you.
1:10:17-1:55:45: And then Graeme talks about the recently released solicits for the first three issues of Secret Empire, the upcoming Marvel event that is now apparently weekly?  Also discussed:  Marvel’s disappearing act, “the weird Marvel machismo,” the possible fall of the direct market and Jeff’s frustration at retailers not changing things up enough over the last few years, handselling people on Image titles and so on.  But then, partway through this narrative, we kind of find ourselves thinking, “well, hmm, what about Image these days?  Are they really that safe a bet for a retailer trying to keep his weekly customers happy?” We look at the publication schedules of  several Image mainstays many retailers *did* handsell that have gone awry.  It’s a potentially important story—is anyone talking about it?
1:55:45-2:00:09:  So, yeah, now that it’s been about two hours, we should at least briefly talk about the comics we’ve been reading, don’t you think?  Graeme starts by talking about something he’s read that’s excited him more than any comic he’s read recently—the new Nobrow catalog!  Just check out the image at the top of the post and just above.
2:00:09-2:03:08: The other comic Graeme wants to talk about the 2000 AD 40th Anniversary Special, featuring a Zombo strip that Graeme says is “everything I wanted.”
2:03:08-2:22:22: And then it’s Jeff’s turn!  Jeff speed-talks his way through the comics he’s read so you don’t have to! (Wha?)  Also featuring additional additions from Graeme!
2:22:22-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:  Next week is a skip week!  And then the week after that is a Baxter Building! Read issues #248-260  of The Fantastic Four and then come listen to us misunderstand them!

0:00-30:49: Greetings! And greetings! And greetings!  It’s been a while so we decide to talk a bit about our delay which leads into the epic story of one brave man’s battle against one of nature’s deadliest threats: snow.  We invite you to, as George Michael would say, listen without prejudice (volume one) to the kind of super heroics regular people have to engage in every day (or at least one day, during one of their three day business trips). Also discussed: the Jaws movies, Dennis Quaid’s moviemaking choices during the 80s (with an odd black-out by Skype during part of that); what’s a better movie, Innerspace or Ghostbusters; more stories about Jaws, and more.
30:49-43:27: Can we talk about comic books now?  Well, hmmm.  How about we compromise and talk about what’s the best possible comic book adaptation of a movie: Marvel’s adaptation of Jaws 2? Or the comic book adaptation of 1941? Or Jim Steranko’s adaptation of Outland? Or Blade Runner? Star Wars? Or maybe just the cover to Star Wars #4?
43:27-1:18:39: Comic book news!  Every once in a while we talk about comic book news:  Sales figures for Marvel? Looney Toons vs. DC? (at 1:04:51) and more!
1:18:39-1:32:37: Thanks to Graeme, we finally get around to talking about some comics that comes out recently—and by recent, I’m not even talking about “this decade” or “this century,” but “this week”! After a bit of talk about the transition of Superman back to being your dad, to discussing Super Sons #1, Inhumans vs. X-Men #1, and more about Super Sons #1.
1:32:37-2:03:07: We also talk about The Wild Storm #1, and Matt Terl’s interesting review right here on the site,   but ONLY after spending lot of time talking about Marvel’s New Universe because that’s the kind of sad old nerds we are.  And there’s also some talk about Neil Gaiman and Catwoman too, because that’s the kind of laser-like focus we’re capable of bringing to our discussion of comic books.
2:03:07-2:20:59: “Jeff, we’re at two hours,” Graeme says, mostly accurately. “Just tell me the other comics that you’ve read and tell me if you liked them or didn’t.  Go!”  Mentioned far too briefly: Slasher #1 by Charles Forsman and Floating World Comics; 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank #1-3, Suicide Squad #11, Love is Love TPB, Guy Colwell’s Inner City Romance TPB, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun vols. 1 & 2 (thank you, Jacinda!), and Duck Avenger #0-3, Juni Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu, Vol. 1; All-Star Comics and the entire run of Super Friends, Batwoman Rebirth #1, Jughead by issues of Zdarsky and North; Justice League of America by Steve Orlando and Ivan Reis; Kamandi Challenge #2, Divinity #3, the IDW relaunch of ROM; and more.
2:20:59-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. If you like a lot of bonus end-of-the-cast content, it takes a while for us to run out of steam.
Next week:  Next week is another Wait, What? Just like this only better (we hope!  God, do we hope…)

Previously on Baxter Building: The long — over 100 issues — drought of mostly-bland Fantastic Four is over, as John Byrne has arrived for his much-lauded run as writer/artist and, much to our surprise, both Jeff and I loved his first six issues. Can the quality continue unabated for this episode?!?

0:00:00-0:05:55: We pretty much start off by answering that question; as good as Fantastic Four #238-247 are, and they’re pretty good overall, they’re not up to the standard of Byrne’s initial issues. We talk about why that might be and, unusually for us, throw out specific numbers of issues we’ll be discussing that particularly disappointed us, before moving on to…

0:05:56-0:19:42: Fantastic Four #238, which sees no less than two stories, both of which are all about the subplots. (Perhaps that explains why the issue has such a bizarre cover, which I find myself taken with.) But we get to talk about Frankie Raye being a never-nude, the Thing’s definitely-completely-100%-permanent regression in appearance, and the illusion of change versus the real thing. That might sound like we’re not too impressed with the issue, but that’s not the case; as I put it, “it’s a very light issue, but it’s a very light issue that implies forward motion.” We certainly preferred it to…

0:19:43-0:34:42: FF #239, which has a great opening — Aunt Petunia finally shows up, and she’s not what anyone (including the long-time reader) expected — only to completely go to pieces after that. Jeff and I disagree on the value of the basic premise of the story (I think it’s fine, Jeff most certainly does not), but we’re of the same mind when it comes to the quality of the execution, which is so bad, we liken it to Byrne’s Alpha Flight. (Those who think that John Byrne’s Alpha Flight is a good comic, I kindly suggest that you revisit it and allow your happy nostalgia to be as ruined as mine was, upon re-reading.) That said, it does give Jeff a chance to talk about Byrne’s love of white-out, so I guess there’s that. We also touch lightly on Byrne’s conservatism, which will get another airing before the episode is over…

0:34:43-0:46:50: The Inhumans show up in Fantastic Four #240, an issue so packed that Jeff describes it as “the opposite of all those FF annuals that got broke up into three stories — this is an FF annual that John Byrne is like, ‘I’m gonna bring this son of a bitch in in 20 pages, maybe 18.'” He’s not wrong; this is a ridiculously busy issue that features exposition for stories that had never happened before, an off-panel death of a fairly major character, the birth of the kid of two long-running supporting characters, a near-death experience for the entire Inhuman race and Attilan moving to the moon. With all of that going on, you’d think that Byrne wouldn’t be able to work in a small slam on a beloved X-Men story, but don’t worry; he’s got that under control.

0:46:51-0:55:19: If the last issue was a sign that Byrne was working too much stuff into one issue, FF #241 has the opposite problem, struggling to stretch a very Star Trek idea across this one-off, even with the nonsensical inclusion of the Black Panther, who serves so little actual purpose in the story that Jeff has a theory about John Byrne’s ulterior motives in including him at all. At least he shows that he can… jump…?
0:55:20-1:15:42: Fantastic Four #242 begins the first proper multi-part storyline of Byrne’s run — ignoring the “Man with the Power”/”Four Against Ego!” two-fer from #235-236, because that was more prologue/story — and, of course, it’s a Galactus story. While the first installment disappoints due to underwhelming choices, mostly artistic, by Byrne (“Everything that’s happening in this issue should be amazing, but you kind of flip through it and go, uh-huh, uh-huh, and… huh,” as Jeff puts it), we do get to see more of Frankie Raye’s roommate Julie Angel, who apparently doesn’t have shoulders as most humans know them:

1:15-43-1:24:56: FF #243 should feel like the end of the world, as Galactus takes on (and quickly dispatches) Terrax and then has to deal with the combined might of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. And yet, it’s underwhelming and easily forgettable, although it does provide us with an excuse to talk about Galactus’s weakness when it comes to card games.

1:24:57-1:43:44: The Frankie Raye subplot that’s been running through Byrne’s entire run to date comes to a head in Fantastic Four #244, and… well, on paper, it’s an interesting conclusion that plays out some themes that have kind of been in play all along, but reading it play out, it’s not entirely convincing. We talk about the threads that almost lead to this moment, the Frankie Raye that we could have seen, and the ways in which Byrne is accidentally feminist in terms of his treatment of Frankie’s decision to leave Earth and become Galactus’s latest herald. (Jeff also drops a plot he would’ve written had he been writing Fantastic Four in the 1990s, so you can get your Jeff-as-Tom-DeFalco fanfic up to date.)

1:43:45-1:55:23: An issue after Byrne ties off the Frankie Raye subplot, he follows it up with a speedy, pretty nonsensical conclusion to the Thing subplot that got started back in #238, leading Jeff and I to spend much of this discussion of FF #245 talking about how unexplored that subplot actually was. There’s also a brief foray into metafictional fictional media criticism, and I get to share a Katherine Hepburn quote that I adore, which arguably means that this conversation might be more entertaining than the issue itself. Unless, of course, you really, really wanted to see Franklin Richards look like blonde Jesus for an issue.

1:55:24-2:02:16: Look, if Fantastic Four #246’s title — “Too Many Dooms” — reminds me of this, I’m sharing it with all of you:

That’s better. A misery shared is a misery… halved? Or something like that? Anyway, Doctor Doom returns, and returns, and returns, and returns, as Fantastic Four #246 picks up where Micronauts #41 left off… with the real Doom’s mind trapped in a melty-headed doll version of his body, and goes through a lot of motions in order to undo the status quo changes Doom (and Latveria) had gone through since the Lee/Kirby days. But at least there’s lots of robot punching, and a layout that works better when read in the original print comic than digitally.

2:02:17-2:14:16: FF #247 is, as Jeff puts it, “a real interesting story to read in 2017, I think.” At any other time, a story which basically says, “every country needs the right totalitarian dictator” might seem like satire, or at least misplaced cynicism. But today…? The effect is just a little bit different, especially when the FF show little-to-no remorse about the fact that they’d installed a leader who is arguably even worse than Doom just a few years back, and seem to do nothing more than frown when faced with seeming confirmation that Doom just outright murdered a dude. Moral relativity is a necessary evil — I feel like there’s a pun there — but is a Fantastic Four comic the best place to explore it?
2:14:17-end: Jeff and I talk about the strangeness of the past ten issues, and how we feel about them overall, especially compared with Byrne’s first half-year on the book, and then set your reading assignment for the next episode: Fantastic Four #248-260. Ambitious? Yes indeed! But we think you can handle it. When you’re not reading FF, don’t forget to check out our Twitter, Tumblr and Patreon pages. As always, thank you very much for reading (and listening).


I’ve been looking at the DC Rebirth books monolithically, determined to catch up on entire runs before writing. It has been a slow, tedious process. At times, reading 12+ issues of a book has felt like too much, like trying to eat six bags of cotton candy in one sitting (as opposed to spreading them across two or three sittings, like a sensible person).

This Last week, I tried something different. Rather than sifting through the week’s review books and filing them by title to return to in a run, I decided to just read them as a batch, as if it was my haul from the store. Part of the mandate of these books is to be fun and readable, I think, so why not try just, y’know, reading them, regardless of how much backstory I had handy. At a minimum, it turned out that this was more fun than slogging through an extended backlog of Superman books. More detailed capsules are after the jump.

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