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Howdy, chums!  We’ve got a two and a half hour podcast for you today—we hope that’s okay?

A certain member of the team—I won’t name names but let’s just say it was neither Graeme nor Matt—overcommitted to a certain amount of family activity this weekend, so join us behind the jump for some thorough but speedy show notes, won’t you?

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00:00-20:49: Greetings from Jeff “Soft Boiled” Lester and Graeme “Over Easy” McMillan.  Non-comic opening chitchat is fast but especially ridiculous and then we are on to…comics!  More specifically, Airboy issues #2 and #3 by James Robinson and Greg Hinkle.  Jeff feels like there’s a lot of common ground with Sam Zabel and The Magic Pen by Dylan Horrocks, and although Jeff is ambivalent about whether or not that book really nails what it’s going for, it comes much, much closer than what’s on display in Airboy #2 and #3.  Also of interest to you might be a bit of dialogue Graeme remembers from Airboy #2 and how the dialogue actually goes. We go full spoilers on what happens in the issues, if that’s the kind of thing that bothers you (more than all the other stuff in Airboy that’s bothered people already).
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20:49-30:24: More successful for Jeff as a piece of comic book transgressiveness is The Humans #7 by Keenan Marshall Keller, Tom Neely, and Kristina Collantes, although he’s more than a little worried about the explicitness of the sexual acts shown (which is very high) compared to the amount of labeling for mature readers on the book (which is nonexistent).  Come for the very brief Vonnegut discussion, stay for the discussion of the phrase “in flagrante Judd Apatow.”  Also discussed:  how does Image look; which books are labeled (like Sex Criminals) which we’re not sure about (wasn’t Saga labeled at one point?) and which ones aren’t (see above).
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30:24-53:14: Also maybe not so great: the on-panel rape of Lobo in Lobo #9 as well as the preview pages that were sent out for the issue.  A few people have noticed but there hasn’t been a lot of people who’ve commented on it publicly.  Is that because most people haven’t noticed?  Or because there are those who have but feel it’s in their best interest not to draw attention to it?  Does it need labeling?  Do comics need labeling? And for what? Nudity?  Sexual language?  Hoo-hoo without the hoo-ha’s?  To try and develop a baseline, Graeme mentions some Slaine strips from 2000 A.D., and Jeff talks about two recent issues of Minimum Wage: So Many Bad Decisions by Bob Fingerman that both have nudity but with differing contexts. Also discussed: Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss, DC’s labeling controversy of the late ‘80s, the comics we stole peeks at when we were young, and of course the long-running titillating video series, “Claremont Tropes Gone Wild.” etc.
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53:14-1:13:18: “Shifting gears!” Graeme announces, and then goes on to discuss Transformers vs. G.I. Joe issues #7 and #8 by Tom Scioli and John Barber.  Jeff had his mind exploded by issue #7 but hasn’t read #8; Graeme has read both and his mind super-exploded with issue #8, according to Graeme, being the issue where “Tom Scioli and John Barber up their everything.”  Also discussed: books so brain-breaking you need to read them in isolation;  the crossover book Graeme wants to see next: Micronauts/The Surface;  and the books Graeme read *after* he read Transformers vs. G.I. Joe:  old back issues of Marvel Age (which are brain-breaking in their own special way); new talent, a surprising name on the Marvel penpal list and more.  (Not discussed: how if you leave out a ‘p’, the word “penpal” becomes “penal.”)
1:13:18-1:19:19: Also at the new back issue store where Graeme purchased these issues of Marvel Age?  A complete run of DC’s New Talent Showcase? And—more pertinent to our discussion here—a nearly complete run of Rachel Pollack’s Doom Patrol.  Discussed:  Rachel Pollack’s Doom Patrol, Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, Grant Morrison’s Animal Man, Peter Milligan’s Animal Man, Rick Veitch’s Swamp Thing, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, and more.
1:19:19-1:21:03: In an attempt to get a little more current, we talk about Omega Men by Tom King, Barnaby Bagenda, Jose Marzan Jr.,  and Romulo Farjado, Jr.  Jeff has read issue #1 (several times!) but couldn’t find issue #2 in time for podcasting; Graeme has read all three issues and talks about how the book has shaped up in the last few issues.
1:21:03-1:29:18: Graeme also has caught up with a bunch of titles he’s been reading for Valiant, some of which remind him of Omega Men, such as Imperium by Joshua Dysart and Scot Eaton.  (Discussion is full of SPOILERS if, like Jeff, you keep meaning to catch up on Harbinger and get into Imperium but haven’t yet.)  In painting a picture of what’s happening in that and other Valiant books, Graeme makes what’s probably the best case yet for the joys of Valiant’s thoughtfully constructed shared universe.
1:29:18-1:48:22:  Comics news! Graeme obliges a request from Jeff and brings us up to date (well, as of August 6th) on Marvel EIC Axel Alonso’s statements on the hip-hop variant covers, the relaunch of Black Panther, statements on black writers, the sexual orientation of Hercules, LGBTQ representation (fun fact from Graeme: if you take away the Marvel books written by Al Ewing, you literally take away 60% of LGBTQ representation in the Marvel Universe), the “influx” of women writers, and more.  If you’re feeling out of touch with outrage, this is the segment with you!  Also discussed: retailer indifference to the DCYou; jilted ex syndrome; “why would I even try a DC book?”; and, of course, more.
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1:48:22-1:56:08: And as long as we’re talking about Marvel….the first issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, and Rico Renzi has finally arrived on Marvel Unlimited and Graeme, after listening to Jeff praise all these many months reads it and….well, you should hear for yourself. Let’s just say it’s a twist you didn’t hear coming!  Graeme also read the first issue of Marvel’s second series of Star Wars by Jason Aaron, John Cassaday, and Laura Martin, also available on Marvel Unlimited, and we talk about that briefly as well.
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Midnighter #3.

1:56:08-2:26:06:  Speed round, because we are almost out of time! We each talk about books we’ve recently read and some fast takes.  Graeme caught up with Valiant books, enjoying titles like Dead Drop, Time Walker, Ninjak (the title of which is being pivoted as Ninja-K, and which Graeme thinks could basically be a Mission Impossible movie), the Book of Death; Midnighter issue #3, which continues to impress Graeme, especially with the art by ACO; this year’s Batgirl Annual; 8House Arclight; old back issues of Micronauts: The New Voyages; Iron Man: Fatal Frontier, the print edition of the webcomic by Kieron Gillen, Al Ewing, and a slew of artists;  and Unusual Concentrations, the first Kindle novella by Si Spurrier.
For his part, Jeff wanted to give some very quick feedback on the second issue of We Stand on Guard; the first issue of Dark Corridor by Rich Tommasso; Graeme throws in a quick two cents about Diary Comics by Dustin Harbin; Black Canary #2; Godzilla in Hell #1 by the amazing James Stokoe; Outcast by Kirkman and Azaceta issues #10 and #11 and no I’m not seeing whatever that Kirkman movie is; Mad Max Fury Road/Mad Max issues #1 and #2 which more or less do the trick; No Mercy #4, which comes that much closer to scratching Jeff’s Drifting Classroom itch; Grayson #10, which is where Graeme finally lets Jeff in on an obvious fact, which is that Tom King and Tim Seeley plot every issue together, but take turns alternating scripting duties; All-Star Section Eight #2 which Jeff actually thinks Graeme has forgotten the existence of (and totally understands why he would); Robin, Son of Batman #2; E For Extinction #2 which Jeff is really digging; Batgirl #42; Sex Criminals #11; Weirdworld #2; the first two volumes of I”s (or as Jeff refers to it, “Panty Shot: The Upskirtening”); and… more? Really?
2:26:06-end: Closing comments! But first: make sure to catch Graeme’s very special appearance on Rachel & Miles Explain the X-Men, where Graeme and the awesome Elle Collins discuss The Beast and his Amazing Adventures (you know, in the comic Amazing Adventures?)  Next week is a Baxter Building, so read up on Fantastic Four issues #68-74 and Annual #5, and join in the fun!  Also:  Totebagland!  Places to look for us at—Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! Tumblr!  And, of course, on Patreon where, as of this count, 109  patrons make this whole thing possible!
Make sure to check out the first comment to these show notes if you want a context-free link for copying and pasting purposes and we’ll see you next week in the Baxter Building!
http://theworkingdraft.com/media/podcasts/WaitWhat182.mp3
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18 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 182: Willing and Label

  1. Jeff Lester Aug 10, 2015

    And for those of you who like this kind of thing:

    http://theworkingdraft.com/media/podcasts/WaitWhat182.mp3

    Enjoy!

  2. LAndrew Aug 10, 2015

    I am a big supporter of the All-New All-Different “Wait, What?”–It’s a pleasant, familiar bold new direction I’ve always wanted to experience again for the first time!

  3. Zaragosa Aug 10, 2015

    Half-hour into the episode… Fascinating to hear the wildly different takes on AIRBOY between you guys and the iFanboy dudes. You and Graeme both strongly feel that the series went off the rails after issue one (and having read only one and two, I would tend to agree); but iFanboy named AIRBOY #3 their “Pick of the Week” and gushed all over it. And that’s cool, I dig those guys, too. But one of the things I love about Wait, What is that you and Graeme are highly discriminating, idiosyncratic bastards who tend to frequently buck the consensus opinion/groupthink on critical darlings, as well as widely maligned books (hi, Tony Daniel’s BATMAN). Anyway, it makes for unpredictable listening, and I love it. Keep it up, gents!

  4. Hi, the last 2 episodes for me play up until the 36 minute mark and then start from the beginning again, no matter if I play them after downloading on my podcast app, try to listen via URL or any other means. Is this some wierd issue something only I am experiencing?

    Also, “Here my Dear” is amazing but I agree with many other things you say.

    • Jeff Lester Aug 11, 2015

      Alan: sorry to hear you’re having troubles but…I think it’s just you? I came to the day job and was able to listen to stuff in the player up to and past the 36 minute mark, and was able to jump ahead, as well. Is the file that you’re downloading for this ep. 70.3 mb in size? I’m wondering if maybe your internet connection isn’t getting the whole thing through? I guess I’d try deleting the bogus file and trying again? If you’re still having the problem after that, let me know.

      And yes, “Here My Dear” is amazing. Just the other day I was listening to “A Funky Space Reincarnation” and I was just in awe of how great it is.

  5. Matthew Aug 11, 2015

    Just a heads up Jeff, My Love Story was made by a woman and published in a young girls’ magazine, so allow yourself to feel less guilty about indulging that wish fulfillment. I’d agree that the girl isn’t a real character, but the male leads are both also impossibly good, so there’s that.

    • Matthew Aug 11, 2015

      You probably know that, now that I think about it

      • Jeff Lester Aug 11, 2015

        Matthew: I did know that and yet I still totally talked about My Love Story as if it was boys’ manga for some damned reason. So I really appreciate you pointing that out (as much for the other commenters’ sake, if nothing else). Everybody’s a fantasy-fulfillment character in My Love Story!!, but part of what I was saying in my entirely inept way is that even though it’s a very different fantasy from I”s, and one I totally prefer, it’s still a fantasy and one where one could also carp about the depth of characterization if one were inclined.

      • Jeff Lester Aug 11, 2015

        (So thanks for commenting, is what I’m trying to say.)

  6. Jensen Aug 11, 2015

    Loved the episode, but…

    The way you’re talking about “new Marvel readers who came in because of the movies, and at least till now Marvel has done well with making the comics resemble the movies” (paraphrasing)—Uh, WHAT?

    Are you guys actually seeing an influx of new readers due to the movies? This is actually happening in a statistically meaningful way for the first time since ’89 Batman? I’ve heard no talk of this and am seriously wondering if I missed something.

    In what ways has Marvel aligned the comics with the movies in ways that allow notable amounts of new readers to hop on board? Aside from Nick Fury Jr. and the increased presence of Maria Hill (though she became a big deal in the comics years before the movies), I’m not seeing it. Anywhere. At all. And to be blunt I don’t think that the S.H.I.E.L.D. characters matter in terms of gaining new readers. The Avengers comics have not resembled the movies, aside from that “Avengers Assemble” title from 2012 that did nothing in the marketplace. Cap in the comics has been an ageing man and then Sam Wilson. Iron Man has been same old same old, basically, and his comic is not popular. Thor is a woman in the comics. So, like, where is this assertion coming from that “Marvel has done such a good job of transitioning movie fans into the comics and making it easy, but oh no now All-New All-Different might screw that up because there aren’t enough gay characters”? I just don’t see the underlying logic or premise.

    I think you guys might be falling into the trap of thinking that the critics on Tumblr and Twitter represent far, far more of the reading public than they actually do. I say that not as a bitter old man but as someone who was reading gay/bi/trans characters when I was a 12-year-old, because I read Sandman when I was 12. And I have to wonder whether Sandman circa 1993 remains the title-holder for most mainstream representation of LGBTQ characters in comics, because I’m pretty sure Sandman’s reach was way longer than Al Ewing’s or Kieron Gillen’s.

    When you say that it’s a sad state of affairs that 60% of Marvel’s LGBTQ representation is tied up in a single title, I also have to wonder how that is any different from what it’s ever been like for the last 25 years or so, ever since Northstar came out of the closet and it became known that Mystique and Destiny were lovers. Don’t get me wrong, I DO want more LGBTQ characters, but I’m not seeing this underlying premise that what we’re seeing now is a huge step backwards. There just haven’t been any meaningful steps forward since then.

    • Matt for Hire Aug 11, 2015

      For one, Iron Man’s been written pretty specifically as if Robert Downey Jr was right there narrating since…oh, the Matt Fraction days. I mean, I have no idea about the Tom Taylor run, but I’d say that held true with Gillen’s stuff, too.

      And speaking anecdotally…I’ve got a friend who’s been constantly coming to me with recommendations for various characters, and, to a man, they’re characters with movies coming out. He’s got the first volume of Priest’s Black Panther on preorder, he’s been reading Hickman’s Fantastic Four and Avengers runs, he’s got a ton of Daredevil and Alias on deck…he’s probably brought Marvel a few hundred dollars of revenue in just the past couple months. He isn’t a Wednesday shopper, or even a single issue shopper, but man, he’s most definitely becoming a comics fan.

    • On Tumblr I’ve seen people saying that they got into comics because, in part, of the movies. i know IRL a few people for whom that is the case. I’m not sure if this is exactly as it was in 1989, rather, as the guys said in podcast, it’s because with the movies Marvel created a much stronger and cohesive brand, which attracted loads of people. And their very good successful marketing spins, where in pas few years they constantly came off as progressive and enlightened helped bring new readers.

      As for the synchronization, apart from Iron Man, there’s also Thor and Loki who have been moved closer to their movie counterparts (also thanks in part to Fraction and Gillen). The Captain America movies are greatly inspired by the Brubaker run. When Bendis came to Guardians of the Galaxy the characters were redesigned (Star-Lord especially) to bring them closer to the movie version, and the other spin-offs feel more like Guardians of the Galaxy Movie licensed comics. There’s a new Ant-Man comic with Scott Lang as the main character where he’s a loser superhero.

  7. Brendan Aug 14, 2015

    Fave ep in a while. So many comics.

    Damian is a really good book, in my opinion. Sure, Gleason has completely lost the plot, and he writes Damian’s dialogue by the bratty numbers, but having him draw Damian and a big monster and essentially an acid trip is well worth the money. And now Damian’s gunna have a human pal too. It could be much worse. It just seems like Gleason is putting perhaps two or three arcs in at once, so that if the book were to get cancelled, he gets all his ideas down anyway.

    E for Extinction is also great post Morrison stuff (PoMo). Burnham, Villalobos, and the artist on covers are all top notch quitely-esque artists in their own right, and Burnham, turns out, can write a damn comic too.

  8. David Morris Aug 15, 2015

    I remember trying the Pollack run on Doom Patrol because Linda Medley was drawing it, but quickly giving up because Graham Higgins was such a mismatched inker. Graham’s a great cartoonist in his own right, but is was one of those combinations which didn’t serve either artist.
    I love Veitch’s Rare Bit Fiends. If I’m sorting my comics, I can just stop and spend a happy 15 minutes enjoying the covers alone.
    After the discussion of manga this episode I’d like to know if Jeff has read ‘Nausicca’, what he thinks of it and whether he thinks Graeme would like it. I like it a lot. I might like it more than Kirby’s Fourth World and I was 12 years old when I followed Jack from Marvel to DC to read it. Let me digress, my mind, of course, was blown in so many ways including, for me it’s not characters, it’s creators- here’s Superman and he’s not boring! It was a gateway, I still found a lot of DC comics a bit staid, but I also found stuff like Simonson and Goodwin’s ‘Manhunter’. I was kind of what DC wanted in hiring Jack, but we came over in fewer numbers than they expected. If bringing Kirby over didn’t do it I think DC should stop trying stunts to get Marvel’s audience. You sometimes use the bad boyfriend metaphor, well, DC for decades now has been looking at it’s audience and going, ‘Yeah, I like you, but couldn’t you be, well, bigger, like Marvel’s audience?’ Marvel (however insincerely) keeps telling us, ‘Oh baby, you’re the best.’
    Anyway, I’m no expert in YA fiction, but Nausicca’s the best YA novel in any medium I’ve read. I’d love your opinions.

  9. Rick Vance Aug 15, 2015

    Airboy totally sounds like a bad version of the final issue of Automatic Kafka.

  10. Michael C. Aug 17, 2015

    Your discussion of Marvel Age was a blast to listen to. I have passed up on issues of Marvel Age in back issues bins before and now I regret it! You make it sound so damn fun! I used to peruse them back in the day when I was a kid but I’m not sure I ever purchased them. I too enjoy the minutiae of things I love and obsess over, especially ’80s Marvel Comics, so I think next time I see some in the 25 cent bins I’ll have to snap ’em up.

    Graeme, that “weird weird” comics store sounds awesome. You’re a lucky man to live near it. I think the closest one like that one to me is maybe 30-40 minutes away. The other LCS’s that are very close to me are much more focused on the new books and trades and collected editions, etc. Which I love. But this one that’s a bit of a drive for me is like what you described – it seems like you’ve stepped into the past when you walk in there. For a while whenever I visited the small town it’s in, I had to stop there, and in fact made specific trips there just to visit the shop. They have wonderful dollar bins where you can get something like 12 comics for 10 bucks too. I recall picking up a lot of great Bronze Age Gerry Conway penned books like JLA and Firestorm at one point there.

    It’s interesting. I’ve started to lose interest for reading single issues every month. I’m still doing it, mind you, but I find now that whether they are newer or older series, I now prefer reading series in trades or big hardcovers. So I might have to start waiting for trade more than I had been previously, because I’m having a hard time justifying the price of new issues (especially from Marvel), plus the collections are just more fun to read now for me. I prefer being able to binge on 6+ issues at a time. And Image trades are so affordable and beautiful that I actually enjoy them aesthetically more than the single issues. Who knows, maybe this will change for me in a few years, and this is just where I’m at now. But I think the fact that I’m reading more and more stuff on Marvel Unlimited and Comixology has also contributed to my desire to cut back on single issues on a monthly basis. So what I’m getting in a long way here is that one thing that has NOT changed for me with regards to how I read comics is the back issue – I still absolutely love browsing back issues bins and then reading back issues. And right now I’m in a major groove with late 70s through the 80s Marvel and DC back issues, especially. So, Graeme’s talking about finding Marvel Age in a random back issue bin really has me salivating to go back to that store up north and see what gems they have waiting for me!

    Sorry I got a bit far afield from your show content and mostly just went on a tangent that was only slightly related to that one Marvel Age bit of your show. But your show always makes me think about my relationship to comics and that’s one of the things I love most about it. Yet again, thanks for another engaging episode.

  11. Matthew Murray Aug 19, 2015

    I read all of Harbinger up to volume 6 (Omegas, the stuff that came after the first series ended) because of Graeme’s recommendations, though I didn’t like it as much as he did.

    However, I’d be interested in knowing if Graeme has ever read Mai, the Psychic Girl by Kazuya Kudō and Ryoichi Ikegami. I don’t think it’s that great, but it can basically fit into the Valiant universe if you change a couple of people’s names.

    Here’s the Wikipedia description:
    “The main character is Mai Kuju, a 14-year-old Japanese girl with powerful psychic abilities. She is being pursued by the Wisdom Alliance, an organization which secretly strives to control the world. The alliance already controls four other powerful psychic children, and it has hired the Kaieda Intelligence Agency to capture Mai.”

    All you really have to do is change “Wisdom Alliance” to “Harbinger Foundation”, and you can pretend this story is happening at the same time as the recent Valiant series.

  12. Mário Aug 28, 2015

    First of all sorry for the belatedness, just now catching up to the podcast.
    Jeff got it right the first time, it’s pronounced “chris.tar”, just like the chris.tal in crystal warrior.
    Apparently someone at Marvel saw fit to address this issue in a pronunciation guide published in issue 7 of the eponymous saga, or so I’m led to believe by a source who might or not be familiar with the material.

    One can never be to persnickety about the alliterations.
    (actually one can, and probably should, but helas this was not one of those cases)

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