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!

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).


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.


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.


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.)
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.)
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?
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.)
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…!



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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?


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).


[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.)

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.
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.
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?

Previously on Baxter Building: After more than a year, the Fantastic Four is back together again, having defeated Doctor Doom once and for all (Spoilers: that “for all” part isn’t going to stick) and overcome all the interpersonal dramas that tore them apart in the first place. Now, the sky is the limit… literally. As the team heads into space, everything’s about to seem very limited indeed.

0:00:00-0:03:39: Secrets behind the podcast! Because of Jeff’s vacation, this episode was actually recorded just hours after the last Baxter Building, and the cold open of this episode is my pre-episode suggestion to Jeff that we also try to do a Wait, What? episode (The one released last week; time is a strange thing) after recording this episode. Jeff vetoes it, and it’s a good thing, too; we get very punchy talking about Fantastic Four #201-214, fourteen issues that neither of us were particularly enamored with, as you’ll discover. Did Marv Wolfman only have one story to tell?
0:03:40-0:13:56: Fantastic Four #201 is, at heart, an issue concerned with continuing to reset the status quo, which means returning to the Baxter Building — even though it’s trying to kill them! It’s not all bad, though; there’s a cutaway guide to the Building that gives Jeff and I the chance to complain about their planning, a discussion about whether lasers should or shouldn’t work against the Invisible Girl, and a second discussion of the disappointment of lever-pulling, and a climax that isn’t really earned by the issue itself.
0:13:57-0:22:35: How great is Iron Man? Apparently so great that he’s more effective as a superhero when Tony Stark isn’t involved, judging by how well the remote-controlled armor does in FF #202, where it not only dispatches the team in record time, it also manages to steal the FF’s Baxter Building headquarters in the process. Sadly, it’s all downhill from there, thanks to a battle with a villain who can’t move except Marv Wolfman doesn’t understand what that means, and a conclusion that is a cliffhanger that’s not going to be picked up anytime soon.
0:22:36-0:30:53: “And A Child Shall Slay Them!” (Fantastic Four #203) could not feel more like a fill-in if it tried, as the Fantastic Four deals with the African-American Franklin Richards, a fact that Jeff points out that I hadn’t even considered even so it’s so amazingly obvious. It’s a slight issue with little to recommend it beyond pointy eyebrows (although there is a return of omniscient Reed, because… well, I guess he had to) so we quickly move on to…
0:30:54-0:41:26: This is where it all starts going downhill, as FF #204 starts a story-cycle that won’t end until #214, and it’s really not very good. Why is it so underwhelming? Well, for a start, it’s tying up loose ends from the soon-to-be-canceled title Nova, there’s a subplot about Johnny going back to school while demonstrating that he clearly needs to because he is an idiot, and it’s all done with the excitement and enthusiasm of a drugged sloth. “You think that it was… all the sweeping grandeur that you can fit into five to seven panels per page, over the course of, like, five pages. It’s just nothing,” as Jeff puts it. Seriously, buckle up, Whatnauts. It’s about to get really, really bad.
0:41:27-0:56:29: When is a Star Destroyer like a woman’s genitals? When perspective gets weird on the splash page of Fantastic Four #205, just one of many problems with an utterly underwhelming comic that wants you to be impressed — there’s even a Watcher cameo to underscore the dramatic nature of what you’re reading! — but entirely fails to do anything that’s actually impressive. Still, at least we get to find out that Johnny’s really, really into being watched, and learn the secret about just how Johnny dries himself after a shower. Because you demanded it! Plus: Adora is really sad that her boyfriend’s asleep! The worst dialogue! Reed Richards losing his shit over a room filled with computers! (Jeff’s great Ben Grimm impression!) And the Skrulls and their dog-obsessed lingo! Marv Wolfman, where was your mind?
0:56:30-1:05:52: As no less an authority than Jeff Lester puts it, “issue 206 is completely dull, again.” We’re only three issues into this horrendous storyline, and Jeff and I are struggling to come up with anything to say about this one. At least there are more references to dog-themed insults, and Jeff gets to remember just how much he loved the original Nova series, as even more cast members from that series show up here. Oh, and the F.F. apparently die. Maybe. Possibly.
1:05:53-1:12:16: The best thing about Fantastic Four #207 is that, after Reed, Sue and Ben apparently getting blown up in the cliffhanger from the previous issue, they don’t appear, or even get referenced, in this issue. Instead, it’s a Marvel Team-Up issue where Spider-Man shows up to quickly — but not quickly enough — wrap-up the Johnny subplot. Well, “wrap up” in the sense of, “It frees Johnny up to join the rest of the team next issue, but it doesn’t really explain much of anything else.” Just one episode after we sang the praises of the Sal Buscema/Joe Sinnott art team, they turn in a surprisingly disappointing fill-in with a genuinely disappointing Spider-Man, but for the second time this episode, the issue ends with a cliffhanger that will not be followed up anytime soon. Who said this isn’t the era of Mighty Marvel Falling Apart-ness?
1:12:17-1:17:41: How much does the Sphinx suck? Those who heard last episode think they know the answer to this question (“A lot,” in case you didn’t listen; shame on you, as well), but just wait until he completely steals this storyline in FF #208 by… growing really big and deciding that he’s going to destroy the Earth because… Marv Wolfman got bored…? Jeff gets excited about up-skirting for the second time this episode, but otherwise, both of us get mildly distraught about how underwhelming this issue — and this storyline — had become. Honestly, it’s not very good.
1:17:42-1:26:25: It’s not a spoiler to reveal that the full title of the story — “The Fabulous FF Battle For Their Lives Even As They Find Themselves Trapped In The Sargasso of Space” — is by far the most entertaining thing about Fantastic Four #209. But we do get the first appearance of John Byrne in the series, as he takes over the role of penciler with Joe Sinnott still inking his heart out, and the first appearance of Herbie the Robot — the latter an event so exciting that it gets a cover blurb and some internal metatext. But as for the overall story itself, it’s so forgettable that Jeff and I both thought forget what it’s actually about, prompting me to complain about Wolfman’s misunderstanding of narrative scale and tension. “Nothing really matters,” Jeff comments, which is a problem when the fate of the series’ protagonists, their home planet and their surrounding galaxy theoretically hang in the balance.
1:26:26-1:30:47: You might hope that the discovery of Galactus early on in FF #210 restores some narrative momentum, but you’d be wrong; I call it “an issue of filler that leads to a cliffhanger that is also filler,” and I’m entirely correct. Hey, guess what? Galactus has a space zoo! And the animals run amok! Because “honestly, it just feels like Marv Wolfman has read too many comic books,” as Jeff puts it. We get so carried away talking about how this issue is terrible that…
1:30:48-1:35:31: “Have we moved into #211?” I ask, genuinely uncertain about where we are in the order at this point. (I told you this was a punchy one.) Hey, guess what? There’s a despot who’s secretly a coward but it’s not a cliche because he’s… in space…? Or something? The first appearance of Terrax is, in the words of Jeff, “ridiculous errand-fetching, all the most dull parts of video games jammed into one dull storyline,” but it’s okay: the Sphinx is really taking his time in destroying the Earth (or even getting there in the first place). It’s not all bad, though, because the early Byrne/Sinnott art provokes some John Byrne nostalgia in Mr. Lester. “I gotta take from this what I can,” he says, and if it has to be nostalgia for the glory days of someone who has since become one of comics’ grumpiest creators, then that’s what it is.
1:35:32-1:40:25: You might think that Fantastic Four #212, which is actually titled “The Battle of the Titans!”, would feature… you know, a battle between titans. Especially when Galactus and the Sphinx are on the cover — by Walt Simonson, and the subject of much derision by Jeff — actually fighting, but guess what doesn’t actually happen in this issue. Yes, Marv Wolfman continues to play for time by recapping the Sphinx’s origin one more time, bringing in the Watcher to play for time and just generally taking far too long to get to the point. There is, meanwhile, some joy to be found in just how petty Terrax turns out to be, even when gifted with the Power Cosmic.
1:40:26-1:51:17: We slide all-too-easily into FF #213, which I favorably call “a fascinating finale,” in part because of a coloring error that gives Galactus what Jeff calls “Felix the Cat eyes.” What should be an exciting issue ends up feeling as if it’s going through the motions in the least interesting way possible, to the point where we start talking about whether or not these are comics that are responsible for the overall bad reputation for Marvel’s late ’70s/early ’80s output. If nothing else, it devalues the very ideas and characters it’s playing with, and makes everything more hollow as a result. Oh, and there’s a denouement between Galactus and the Fantastic Four that kind of makes no sense, because… honestly, I suspect because no-one was really paying that much attention anymore.
1:51:18-1:57:16: How do we sum up Fantastic Four #214, the (thank God) final chapter of this all-too-long epic? “What do you think of it, Jeff?” I ask. “Oh my God,” Jeff groans in pained tones. Sounds about right. There’s a robot Skrull and the second appearance of a strange wannabe-trope that ensures that the F.F. are back and better than ever in just over a year, but does any of that distract from the fact that the problem that launched the whole thing in the first place remains entirely unresolved? Not in the slightest.
1:57:17-end: We take an overall look at the issues we covered for the episode and talk about low points in the Fantastic Four and what’s coming up soon — including, very soon, a Doug Moench/Bill Sienkiewicz run that Jeff didn’t even know existed. Was this run something that provoked Jim Shooter to do away with Marvel’s writer/editor role, and in the process create the Marvel comics of the 1980s, and was that era really as bad as people said? We touch on this briefly before reminding you to check out our Twitter, Tumblr and Patreon and telling you to read up on Fantastic Four #215-231 for the next episode, which will happen in a month. As always, thank you for listening and, this time around especially, making it through until the end.


Despite the fact that Graeme insists at the end of every podcast that I’m the punctual one here, I’ve fallen woefully behind. I’m not just behind on writing and posting, though–I’m behind on actually reading the damned books. And given the lunatic velocity with which DC has been releasing issues of their Rebirth titles, that has created an enormous backlog. (Like, literally enormous. Like a three-foot tall stack of books on my bedside table.) 

In an effort to trim the to-read list and get some #content posted on this here site, I’m going to be writing more frequent, shorter posts while I try to get on top of this insane backlog. Today: Wonder Woman #3-9, written by Greg Rucka; drawn by Liam Sharp (3, 5, 7, 9), Nicola Scott (4, 6), and Bilquis Evely (8); and colored by Laura Martin (odd issues) and Romulo Fajardo Jr. (even issues).


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0:00:00-00:32:39: Hey, everyone! It’s Jeff Lester’s birthday today! (Or October 31st, if you’re reading this late.) And as you read these words — as long as you read them in the next couple of weeks — he’ll not be able to see them for himself because he’s abandoned us all for life on the open seas. Now you know why I’m doing these show notes. It’s not just Jeff Lester’s birthday, however; it’s actually Jeff Lester’s 50th birthday, which means that he was born in the same year as the Monkees, the Adam West Batman TV show and Star Trek, the coincidence of which we discuss in this opening segment, which also touching on unseasonably warm weather, 1980s Chernobyl nostalgia and the secret connection between Bob Haney and Saturday Night Live.
0:32:40-0:47:18: Talk of the 1960s Batman show leads us, in a very roundabout fashion, to our favorite superhero TV shows, which means that we reference the following:

Be warned: not all of these shows are our favorites.
0:47:19-0:51:46: For a brief second, we take a break to discuss different ways of marking childhood birthdays in Scotland and the U.S. Listen as Jeff is horrified by “the bumps!” Hear me being amused by schoolyard spankings and the way in which adolescent Jeff wrestled with the concept!

0:51:47-1:10:05: Moving from one area of nostalgia to another, Jeff wrestles with Marvel’s Luke Cage Netflix series (In his words, “It’s ambitious, but it’s not really good,”) and argues that it’s actually a mix of Batman, Star Trek and The Monkees, while I explain my dislike for its opening titles. But having opened those floodgates, we soon move on to…
1:10:06-1:22:53:Gotham, Daredevil and whether or not the second seasons of both are better shows because they’re of a more consistent quality throughout, as opposed to swerving wildly between peaks and troughs. Also, what value does camp have in a show like Gotham, and just how much more fun is Erin Richards having now that she’s allowed to play a fun (if evil) character in Gotham?

1:22:54-1:39:04: What makes a good superhero TV show, anyway? Jeff asks if the fact that I like DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash and dislike Jessica Jones and Daredevil comes from a bias against Marvel and towards DC, but I frame it more as enjoying upbeat trash more than pretentious scowling. We compare Legends to Doctor Who, and talk about why Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD‘s true consistency comes from disappointment. (Spoiler: Dollhouse is referenced. Remember Dollhouse?) Jeff works out what he wants from a superhero TV show, which then leads us to…
1:39:05-1:50:38: …What comic books would Jeff and I like to see on television? The answers might… actually, probably not surprise you that much. Angel & The Ape! Blackjack! The Spirit! Judge Dredd! Y: The Last Man! Challengers of the Unknown! All this, and the answer to the question you’ve often asked yourself: What does the CW stands for, anyway?

(This isn’t a TV show, but still; it’s Brad Bird’s 1980 pencil test animation for The Spirit…)

1:50:39-end: Closing comments, in which we remind you to look for us on Twitter, Tumblr and Patreon, where fine folks like the brave souls of American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy help us help you with this fine show.
Next week: It’s time for another Baxter Building! Episode 23, wherein we return to the regular series for #201-214 and wish that we hadn’t. Join us, won’t you?


Despite the fact that Graeme insists at the end of every podcast that I’m the punctual one here, I’ve fallen woefully behind. I’m not just behind on writing and posting, though–I’m behind on actually reading the damned books. And given the lunatic velocity with which DC has been releasing issues of their Rebirth titles, that has created an enormous backlog. (Like, literally enormous. Like a three-foot tall stack of books on my bedside table.) 

In an effort to trim the to-read list and get some #content posted on this here site, I’m going to be writing more frequent, shorter posts while I try to get on top of this insane backlog. Today: Midnighter and Apollo #1, written by Steve Orlando, drawn by Fernando Blanco, and colored by Romulo Fajardo, Jr. 


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