Wait, What? Ep. 214: Boycott? Why Not?

December 11, 2016

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Hey, all.  Jeff here, and I’m trying to carve a bit more free time into my busy schedule by trying this ultra-compact shownotes like all the cool kids use.  Let’s see how they work out:

0:00-14:57: Salutations; political small talk; supervillains; joining the resistance; possible t-shirt; and more.
14:57-38:55: Batman #12 by Tom King and Mikel Janin. Also discussed: Doug Moench’s Batman, Batman Year Two, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm; Norm Breyfogle’s Batman; Batman, Batman, Batman!
38:55-47:50:  The first four volumes of Transformers: Phase Two which collects Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye by James Roberts, Alex Milne and Nick Roche, and Transformers: Robots in Disguise by John Barber, Andrew Griffith, and Marcelo Matere.
47:50-54:23: An interjection about the uses of cartooniness, as noted in the first two volumes of By The Numbers by Laurent Rullier, Stanislas Barthélémy, and Dominique Thomas.
54:23-60:19: And back to the Transformers books with those uses in mind.
60:19-1:24:51: A prelude to next week’s podcast and a preliminary discussion about some of the possible picks for best books of the year.  This actually leads into a discussion of Marvel’s attempt to juice its sales, and Heidi’s article over The Beat about 2017 potentially being a very tough year of retail. And in there Jeff talks about the Marvel comics he’s reading the ones he’s not reading, and why he’s not reading them.
1:24:51-1:35:22: A discussion of the most recent issues of Champions by Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos.
1:35:22-1:48:31: A discussion of Shadoweyes by Sophie Campbell, co-colored by Erin Waston.
1:48:31-1:50:10: Graeme is looking forward to reading The Abominable Mr. Seabrook by Joe Ollmann.
1:50:10-1:54:17: Worries aside, there are a lot of really good comics out there right now.  Good comics aside, there’s a lot to worry about right now: singles vs. trade, hard copy vs. digital, is Jeff Lester the problem?
1:54:17-1:54:19: Hear Jeff falter as he struggles to correctly remember the name of One Piece.  Will he do it?
1:54:19-2:03:35: (No.)
2:03:35-2:09:01: Fantagraphics’ superhero line. All Time Comics, is coming! But, as Graeme rightly asks, is it really a line?
 Closing comments! Next week will be a Q&A session so please feel free to tweet or email us your questions. Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr,  and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.
Next week:  Our last episode of the year!  Whip up a batch of your celebrated nog—really, we’ve heard nothing but compliments—and join us!
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25 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 214: Boycott? Why Not?

  1. Bruce Baugh Dec 12, 2016

    Something you may or may not have known about Sophie Campbell is that before she started in on comics for publication, she did horror/fantasy art for White Wolf roleplaying games for a decade or so. She’s also got a very strong influence from Clive Barker’s aesthetic, where sometimes you love someone despite their being monstrous in some ways, sometimes you love them without regard for whether anyone else would find them monstrous, and sometimes because they’re monstrous.

    (It’ll be interesting to see how much of the story also shows the influence of one of my favorite Barker bits: “She knew he was telling the truth, the kind of unsavory truth that only monsters were at liberty to tell. He had no need to flatter or cajole; he had no philosophy to debate, or sermon to deliver. His awful nakedness was a kind of sophistication. Past the lies of faith, and into purer realms.”)

    All of which is to say that the sense of being askew in relationships and priorities is almost certainly altogether deliberate. 🙂

    • “She knew he was telling the truth, the kind of unsavory truth that only monsters were at liberty to tell. He had no need to flatter or cajole; he had no philosophy to debate, or sermon to deliver. His awful nakedness was a kind of sophistication. Past the lies of faith, and into purer realms.”

      Oddly enough, that’s always how I read Kirby’s Darkseid.

      • David Morris Dec 15, 2016

        Interesting. Since Kirby’s Darkseid is primarily a manipulator to me, he’s not about truth. When he says he is, he’s lying. He’s literally got a stone face, he’s always concealing something.

  2. Person of Con Dec 12, 2016

    I agree with Graeme on Transformers; I dropped the books somewhere in the high 20s/low 30s issue numbers, when there was a big tragic moment featuring two characters and my response was “I bet this would be very moving if I could remember who these characters are.”

    If can chime in with current Marvel books I’m reading and enjoying, in 2016, there’s Mockingbird (cancelled), Vision (ended), and Spider-Woman. It’s really a shame Cain’s Mockingbird ended where it did, because the book was good, but felt it was ascending to something even better–and the story itself was a Civil War crossover, so it was more about her past relationship with Clint than Bobbi herself. (It also did a pretty huge retcon with a very questionable part of her past history, and it would have been nice to talk about that, which is a discussion now pretty much impossible, since the actual series has been overshadowed by the jerkwads’ attack on Cain.)

    Spider-Woman has consistently been the best series Hopeless is currently writing, and Javier Rodriguez’s art is AMAAAZING in terms of what it’s been doing with layouts. (The current artist, Veronica Fish, is good too, but hasn’t amazed me the same way yet.) To take one plot that I liked this year, I thought she had an interesting Civil War II comic. Basically, it culminated with Captain Marvel going “ha ha, we’re doing that superhero thing where we fight each other and then we fight a foe together and we make up. Classic!” and Jessica responding with, no, you’ve enabled some terrible things happen to people I care about, our friendship is over, and your condescending refusal to listen to me is part of why it’s gone so wrong. You could read a meta-message about Marvel crossovers in that, if you wanted.

  3. Thank you so much guys for answering my question. I can see better what King was going for. I remain unconvinced that this was a good way to go about that ideal. Probably because the interesting ideas of Batman as an existentialist/nihilist hero are buried under a glacially paced issue that does almost nothing to further the story (the one that we pay $3 twice a month to follow), doesn’t have any unique visual information, and uses a “tell, not show” monologue to cover ground that’s been beaten thoroughly.

    At this point it’s novel and interesting when Batman ISN’T portrayed as just an emotionally arrested man-child with a death wish. “I am Suicide”, when name-dropped in the comic, reads as insufferably Hot Topic.

  4. Rick Vance Dec 12, 2016

    I think there is real danger in taking the CIA’s word considering their history with only anonymous sources. If the case is so definitive I will want more concrete information.

    Just because Trump is an idiot and monster in most cases, him slagging off the CIA should not be reason to treat the CIA as some bastion of truth.

    Otherwise great episode.

    • The conclusion of Russian hacking has been verified by private security firms and cyber security officials from other countries (Germany). There may be some doubt that Russia specifically intended to help Trump, but that it was them and that all of the leaks did help Trump is not really a matter of debate.

      • daustin Dec 14, 2016

        And frankly, what’s appalling is less him rejecting the CIA’s conclusions than “how” he rejected them – basically blowing them off out of hand publicly because he does not like the narrative.

  5. Paraphrasing Jeff “people that grew up with transformers like that it’s been taken seriously even though they have names like megatron and deceptions”

    I can’t speak for the transformers fans but that’s actually what I’m dreading as a power ranger fan when I see the trailers that are out for the movie. They’re focusing on character conflict and emotions and stuff, which is fine and all but I need confirmation that a giant robot is going to cut a giant monster in half with a sword while insane rock music plays. I am fully aware that this may just make me a stupid person

  6. I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only person who could appreciate the Transformers book only at a distance, and for similar reasons. I had no exposure to Transformers prior to Scioli, and no emotional nor nostalgic connection — but I thought it was either that or I was some kind of… humanist? anti-robotist?… because I could not for the life of me tell any of them apart or keep track of them.

    Okay, graphic novel of Superhero Grease. Creative team picks: go.

    • Jeff Lester Dec 13, 2016

      The choice is clear: only Neal Adams could bring that unlikely dynamism of Superhero Grease to life.

  7. Ah Jeff, my heart sank a little to hear that you were not into the original Moon Knight series from Moench and Sienkiewicz. That’s an all-time favorite of mine. Not sure if it’s on Unlimited, but it’s all been collected in two affordable Epic Collections recently. Check ’em out, you might be surprised!

    I’m with you on Unlimited though, Jeff, in that I’ve mostly been using it to read old Marvel that I missed when I was younger. I’ve used the app to read a lot of new Marvel but in recent months that’s fallen off for me and I’ve gravitated more towards older stuff that either I missed and wanted to read, or that I never would have thought I’d like but with it being “free” on the app I’ll give it a shot. Recent example of the latter: Ghost Rider’s 1990s series.

    Interesting stuff on the Transformers books. The critical praise they seem to garner online in recent years pretty much mystifies me.

    • Jeff Lester Dec 13, 2016

      To be fair, my taste has gotten better over time and I did buy one of the epic collections super-cheap (vol. 2, I think) so I may yet dig in and discover I’ve been wrong all these years. I certainly hope so. Unlimited actually did add some issues recently as well.

      And, yeah, one day soon, I’m going to hunker down with Unlimited and do that big ol’ Tomb of Dracula read-through I’ve beem promising myself for *years*.

  8. thetrueelec Dec 13, 2016

    I just have to say as someone who believes More Than Meets The Eye is one of the best series out that you don’t need to know anything that happened before. I don’t and I managed to enjoy it fine, once I’d read it long enough that I knew who any of the characters were anyway.

    I just don’t see Champions as an editorial decision. For me it is a pretty obvious spinoff from Waid’s ANAD Avengers. I think that if it were editorial they’d just skip the Avengers part and go straight to Champions.

  9. daustin Dec 14, 2016

    I too picked up Transformers MTME off Comixology during a sale based on all of the recommendations from critics whose opinions I respect. And I had the same experience you did. I found them entertaining enough, but got completely bogged down after the second or third storyline, and have been meaning to revisit it from the beginning since. I completely agree that the generic character designs and names make the book extremely difficult to follow. I was a huge Transformers guy as a kid, watched the show, owned the toys, read the Marvel comics, so it’s not like I’m going in cold (though I have not followed it since, other than catching some episodes of the recent kid’s show my son likes). But the visuals make it almost impossible to distinguish the main characters. Sure, there are a few that are visually distinctive – the purple Galvatron, the nerdy doctor with the goatee, the guy with the helicopter head – but the rest are a garbled mess. I think the coloring actually deserves a large part of the blame – most of the players are colored in a checkered mix of red, white and blue (with occasional yellow highlights) that blurs together and fails to create a distinct palette for each character. I’m going to give it another try, but man, it feels a little like work.

    By the way, also just read that Barr/Davis Detective run (aside from year Two) and found it very enjoyable, even the weird Catwoman reset. Happened to also read that Wolfman “Joker copycat” storyline and was much less into that – too angsty.

    And re last weeks podcast, I agree that Ennis’s Fury: My War Gone By was a damn masterpiece. Preacher and The Boys are epic, but deeply flawed, and most of what Ennis does is so-so, but Fury was the kind of thing you want mentioned in your obit. So good. And for a comics creator who made a lot of money and went off the deep end, how are we not discussing Frank Miller?

    • David Morris Dec 15, 2016

      I agree there’s sometimes an issue with colouring in Transformers. All these small planes of colour can pull the image towards a kind of flatness, especially in action sequences with more than one character. A sort of accidental cubism.

  10. Matt for Hire Dec 14, 2016

    Re: Transformers MTME: So I feel like it took a second read-through for me to really get going with the book, and I felt like I had to hand-wave a lot of the previous continuity stuff (I’ve been borrowing my brother’s copies of the trades and I just didn’t feel like digging through the older stuff), and even then it didn’t really kick into gear for me until after the Dark Cybertron crossover. (Also, I should point out that Robots in Disguise doesn’t get canceled, but rebranded as plain old Transformers after Dark Cybertron, and the focus shifts completely.) I had to use the character chart at the back of one of the trades a loooot for the first few trades, and…I dunno, there was a lot of work involved in getting into it, but once I did, I found it eminently worth it. (Another side point: most of the Transformers featured in MTME aren’t real “name” Transformers, at least until post-Dark Cybertron, where a whole mess of them join in.)

  11. A titchy point as regards DC launching strong early in the year with Rebirth but what did they have in the second half? DC Rebirth #1 only appeared on 25 May, with the relaunches rolling out from June, so the strong first half of the year was actually the second half.

  12. Leighton Connor Dec 15, 2016

    I was a huge Transformers fan from 1984 to 1987, when I was a kid, and then didn’t follow anything Transformers-related until Tom Scioli made me interested again. But when I started reading MTMTE, I found it completely accessible (and addictive) even without having read any of the IDW comics. I didn’t have any of the robot face-blindness that seems to prevent people from telling the characters apart. Maybe it’s a genetic trait. Or maybe it’s because of the intensity of my connection to the Transformers when I was 10, a time when I really related to robot characters better than human ones. Maybe that ability to relate to robots as people was burned into my brain, and if you don’t have a similar experience, you can’t connect with the material in the same way. .

    • I’m a huge Transformers fan, and Jeff and Graeme pinpointed the exact reason why I haven’t been able to get into the IDW comic Transformers. Then again, the Transformers I grew up with were the incredibly distinct bodies and faces of the Beast Wars casts, and the Transformers stories I’ve most enjoyed in the more recent cartoons ( Animated, Prime ) have similar diversity of builds and faces.

  13. Jared Dec 15, 2016

    I’m going to also step up for More than Meets the Eye. The issue with the series is that James Roberts’ ability to play the long game with set ups and payoffs is genuinely stunning, in that minor character bits in the beginning become massive plot points twenty issues later. The problem with that skill, though, is that it requires reading to the point where he starts paying things off. Frustratingly, Graeme stopped right at the point where Roberts starts knocking over some of the dominoes he’s set up. I would say give it one more book, as Vol.. 4 (Which includes issue 12, which is seems Graeme read) is the point where the book clicked for me, and Roberts turned into a writer who’s work I now follow.

    The second thing that fascinated me about Graeme’s reaction to More than Meets is the way in which continuity acted as a barrier for him, even when there wasn’t any actual continuity to be held. The best example is his reaction to the Scavengers. You asked “Well, who the fuck are the Scavengers?” and the thing is, that was their first appearance! That was their introduction as a group and as characters, there was no previous continuity for them. And I find that assumption that everything that is being introduced is actually something that has come out beforehand fascinating, in light of how much superhero comics we have all read, and how the assumptions that inform superhero continuity got carried over into reading More than Meets. Whereas I read remarks characters would make about this terrible massacre that happened, or that important character, as just bits of worldbuilding that weren’t necessary to the plot, it looks like Graeme came in with the assumption that these are things that he was supposed to know about beyond the context of the given scene. And the difference in mindset there, of “I don’t know what they’re talking about, but I get enough from the context to not be taken out of the story” versus “I don’t know what they are talking about, and this is a barrier for me to get into the story” is an interesting split for me.

    • David Morris Dec 15, 2016

      Currently 57, I was ‘too old’ for Transformers when it first appeared and remained uninterested until ‘Transformers vs GI Joe’. That I hadn’t paid attention to GI Joe either and had found, to that point, Scioli’s use of Kirby surface with storytelling I found flat underlines what an amazing bit of artistic reinvention TVGIJ is. Anyhow, being from N Ireland, my age and liking US comics, meant I developed a tolerance for reading stories about characters with back stories I didn’t know and jumping into stories already happening with no guarantee I’d ever see the beginning. That’s probably served me well reading MTMTE. You kid’s today with your classical expectations of beginnings, middles and endings, I don’t know…

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