Wait, What? Ep. 245: Baxter Backers

April 8, 2018

0:00-17:52: Greetings! We have a bit of catch up to do, but not to worry, we quickly transition into a ‘Baxter Building’ supplement as we discuss our feelings about Walt Simonson’s run on Fantastic Four as expressed in our most recent Baxter Building ep,, and Whatnauts’ feelings about our feelings, and yet more discussion about Simonson’s run.  How does Grant Morrison’s Judge Dredd  story “Inferno”  play into this?  You’ll just have to listen to find out!
17:52-55:43: As our talk about how we re-experience comics continues, Graeme asks Jeff about his experience re-reading old Master of Kung-Fu issues via the digital Epic collection.  We talk about Englehart, Starlin, Milgrom, Wilson, Gulacy, and Moench.  But, first! We talk about Marvel’s crazy ongoing digital sale—which had just returned in full-force at the time we recorded—since that’s how Jeff bought that Epic collection.
55:43-1:20:53: Wow, so yeah almost a first full hour talking about all of the above.  As we mention on the episode, Jeff made a little list of talking points in advance since it’d been such a long time since we recorded.  Here’s where we get to item #7 on that list (no, we didn’t go in order):  “Oh my god, the Justice League movie.”
1:20:53-1:41:27: And here’s Jeff’s segue out of that discussion:  “Speaking of things we can’t quite remember….Metal #6!”  Discussed: Metal #6.
1:41:27-1:54:01: Where do we go from there?  Why not Item #2:  “Amazingly lousy Morbius stories.” Jeff summarizes some of the stuff he’s read in Marvel’s Vampire Tales Vol. 1 collection.
1:54:01-1:56:22:  Item #5:  “Incredible Doom, this indy comic [Jeff] found on Comixology.”
1:56:22-2:10:33: Item #6: “the sixteen volumes of this insane sex manga [Jeff] read.”  Discussed: S and M by Mio Murao.
2:10:33-2:28:02: And the last item on the list—Jeff and Graeme talk a bit about Jeff’s dad passing, about comic books, and about dads and comic books.
2:28:02-end: “Graeme, what’s next?” Jeff asks.  “Do you know when we’re back?”  Also known as:  Closing comments!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr,  and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.
NEXT WEEK:  Skip week, as a certain Eisner judge heads to San Diego!  But the week after that, we will be back with another Baxter Building discussing Fantastic Four #350-355.  Join us, won’t you?
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24 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 245: Baxter Backers

  1. Jeff Lester Apr 8, 2018

    And if you’re into that cut and paste adventure kind of thing:

    http://theworkingdraft.com/media/podcasts2/WaitWhat245.mp3

  2. Zachary Adams Apr 8, 2018

    For what my opinion’s worth as a non-Patron who wants to be a Patron soon, I definitely support doing another Baxter-style long read over a 3rd monthly episode.

    I actually read v1 of “S and M” when I was buying every cheap Media Do v1 the first time Jeff mentioned them, and it kind of washed over me like water. I know I read it but I have basically no memory of it, so Jeff talking about it was helpful in a weird way.

    And now I have to buy Vampire Tales v2 while it’s cheap.

    • Mike Murdock Apr 9, 2018

      I’ll second the vote for continuing to cover something. How about Jack Kirby’s Fourth World? I’d also love the West Coast Avengers to mirror the previous coverage of the other Avengers.

  3. Since you asked, I say this: if you guys do shortish series or runs, just do whatever strikes you as most fun and interesting. People can listen for a bit, and if they don’t like it, it’ll be over soon. But if you’re going to do something big and long, like you are with the FF, I would hope you pick something not only that you both thought fun & interesting, but something of generally recognized historical significance and value. I mean, everybody knows Lee & Kirby’s FF was a big deal for comics, so that was a great choice, I think.

    As far as personal preferences, I like the Silver and Bronze Ages best, FWIW.

    Great job on Baxter Building, by the way!

  4. Jason1749 Apr 9, 2018

    First off: I agree with Graeme that Justice League is a fine, if not very good movie. And I probably prefer it to Avengers simply because it’s not so goddamn long.

    As for continuing, I’d vote for doing shorter runs. Like Morrison’s New X-Men or something like Morrison’s JLA (everything I think of is a Morrison joint). I would like to see you move on to a DC series simply for variety’s sake, but that can be difficult from an availability standpoint.

    • I thought Avengers was better than Justice League, but not by all that much. Justice League for me was just about on the same level as Avengers 2, which is to say, crappy, forgettable and disposable, but not so offensively bad as to make it stick in my head for more than 30 seconds after watching it.

      Though not having Aquaman summon any cool water creatures was a total fucking waste. My wife kept complaining about that through the whole movie, and she was dead on. Throw a fucking whale at Steppenwolf, liven things up.

  5. Matt for Hire Apr 9, 2018

    A. Graeme, Element-X is what forms the basis of the Mother Boxes and Metron’s Mobius Chair.

    B. As a non-Patreon would-be Patreon supporter, my vote’s for either shorter runs or a third regular episode. Like, I can’t believe you guys are gonna put yourselves through 60-odd issues of Defalco FF.

  6. Voord 99 Apr 10, 2018

    On another note, I was hoping that TV show that Graeme McMillan has been watching on YouTube would be in the show notes. I couldn’t quite make the name out on the audio, and it sounds like something that I would love.

    With regard to Simonson’s FF (again), I remember an interview with him in which he talked about how in his Thor run he’d deliberately chosen very traditional panel layouts to match the mythological origins of the material, and had then consciously chosen to mix things up when he did the Fantastic Four, in order to suit its science-fictional character. So it does sound as if Simonson himself approached this work (at least to some extent) as an exercise in visual storytelling in the genre, not in the Byrne spirit of “I’m telling stories about the *Fantastic Four* and they are wonderful and I am never going to let you forget that.”

    One thing I would ask, though, is the following. Jeff Lester grounded his reaction to these issues in his sense of himself as a ‘70s Marvel child. But if one thinks back to our hosts’ coverage of the FF in the ‘70s, they didn’t think it was terribly good. And I tend to think that no-one is likely to pick the FF as a comic in which the ‘70s was one of its high points, or as a comic in which you can find good examples of that ‘70s Marvel mode at its most successful.

    So I wonder if the Fantastic Four is maybe just not Jeff Lester’s thing? Which I realize is a shocking and horrible thing to say! But actually, I think it would be a very reasonable position to say that a lot of what one likes about the ‘60s FF is Kirby (and maybe how what Lee brings to the table happens to interact well with Kirby in that era), not the actual FF as such. But does the property – with the admittedly big exception of the character of Ben Grimm – actually have qualities that one finds inherently appealing? Once one subtracts Kirby, how much is left from this comic?

    I’m coming at this from the perspective of someone who’s also a Marvel child* and specifically loved the FF, but one whose FF (thanks to Dez Skinn) is the Lee/Kirby FF. Thinking about it, I think that part of my positive response to Simonson, reading his FF now for the first time, does go back to that visual thrill that I got from reading FF #57-60 in black-and-while Marvel UK reprint at an impressionable age.

    *Incidentally, I would be fascinated to hear Graeme McMillan go on a deep thorough dive into how he became such a DC person, and how it shaped his sense of superhero comics in general and maybe even his first ideas about America. North Americans may not appreciate that for a child to become a DC fan was less usual in Britain (and Ireland) than it would be in the US or Canada, where at the time DC and Marvel would have been equal possibilities side by side on the spinner rack. Marvel UK were putting Spider-Man in the newsagent’s every week, right there beside 2000 AD, and there was no DC equivalent of this. Seeking out DC stuff involved, well, seeking it out. At least, this is how it was in my memory. I’d be fascinated to hear what combination of things led Graeme McMillan to arrive at point in which he would ask his father to go to a comics shop that wasn’t even where he lived to buy specifically DC items.

    (Speaking personally, I hardly read DC until the British Invasion led me to follow creators from 2000 AD into their American work. I read Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing because of DR and Quinch.)

  7. While I would love to hear you two discuss just about any series, I feel like you deserve to tackle some shorter, creator-defined runs just for your own sanity.

    What I’m saying is, it’s time for Byrnglehart.

  8. Person of Con Apr 10, 2018

    I want to thank you both for what you shared about your fathers. It got me thinking about my own father, and realizing how much his support, if not shared interest, pushed me in my own childhood fandoms.

    In other news, I randomly came across My Neighbor Seki vol 1 on Amazon, and bought it, based on what had been said about it on this podcast. I wasn’t disappointed; it’s a wonderful, light story.
    Question for Jeff: are you familiar with the manga Kuzumi-kun, Can’t you Read the Room? It’s very similar to MNS–a school girl who’s obsessed with the weird boy in class and slowly reveals her own weirdness through the obsession–and while it’s centered just a tad bit older, it hits a similar note of really goodnatured comedy.

  9. Chris Brown Apr 10, 2018

    Long time listener, occasional commenter… and have enjoyed Baxter Bldg greatly:

    It sounds like a no-brainer to a lot of folks (including me!) that you guys should just bite the bullet and do West Coast Avengers from start to finish. So many compelling reasons:
    – You both have a great deal of affection for the characters and good chunks of the material. It’s no fun to spend hours and hours talking about stuff you think is just worthless.
    – It’s got significant runs by both Englehart AND Byrne, so it fits the “Englebyrne” idea.
    – It makes a nice companion to your Avengers read-through
    – At 106 issues including the Limited Series, it’s a fair chunk shorter than FF 1-416, so it’s not as big a time commitment. And yet it’s long enough to sink your teeth into. It sounds like many are suggesting things that are not the multi-year commitment BB turned out to be.
    – It should be readily available

    BUT, what I would really adore, and I think you guys would too, is a bit more of a logistical challenge in terms of availability of the material (ok, a LOT more), but here goes:

    Marvel SciFi Licensed Comics of the Late 70s!
    Star Wars! ROM! Micronauts! Star Trek! Battlestar Galactica! Godzilla! John Carter (?), Man From Atlantis (?) … I’m probably missing some
    (Maybe you could take out Star Wars to cover only the less well-known properties, or do Star Wars last – it’s the longest by a good bit, but obviously the most easily available. And in this era – maybe we’re all just a bit burned out on talking about Star Wars. On the other hand, the Marvel series embraces the more pulpy side of it, with less of the Grand Mythology baggage.)

    Guys, I live in Denver. I’m sure I could scrape together two sets of complete runs of those titles from Mile High Comics. I would physically mail them to you myself to make that happen.

    In fact, this is such an awesome idea that I’m going to quit my day job and start it right away. I blame you guys for the loss of my wife, kids, house, physique, health, and mental stability.

  10. David Morris Apr 11, 2018

    Hi, a particularly meaty podcast this time. Let’s get the ‘Um, actually…’ portion of my comments out of the way. I am more familiar with the pronouniation ‘En-cel-a-dus’, Graeme, unless you were referring to something else. Giant-Size MOKF #1 has a 9 page Ron Wilson story, but leads off with 24 Gulacy pages and has a charming 8 pages of fairly early Craig Russell artwork. Gulacy is interesting to me in that despite the obvious large debt to Steranko, I think I enjoy more of his comics. This is largely because I find Steranko’s stories calculated and somewhat distant pastiches. They have admirable aspects, but inspire no love. On the other hand, from the point where Nayland-Smith recruits Shang-Chi to take down Carlton Velcro, I am sold. I read those stories first in the black and white British reprint title The Avengers. At the time they were using a better standard of white paper and the fight with Razorfist never looked better, at least in my memory. I’d be very tempted by an IDW artist edition of those stories. On remembering where and when I read particular comics, I know I read and re-read Marvel Special Edition #15 in the back of my parents car travelling home from Ballycastle to just outside Belfast.
    Regarding the Simonson discussion, I got these FF comics as they were coming out, however when I left Britain for a while in the 90s and needed to reduce what I kept, they went quite easily. I’ve appreciated your analysis as I understand better why they don’t please me more.
    Once, while in a poster shop, I saw magnetic images of Vargas girls being sold as ‘Magnetic Pin-Ups’. I was infuriated that someone had been paid for this, when the wittier and more logical name was ‘Babe Magnets’. Years have passed and life’s experiences mean that I’m philosophical about the communities embrace of ‘Englebyrne’, rather than my suggested ‘Hartbyrne’. It’s just the nature of a fallen world.
    I’m voting read through. I question the reading all of anything, though. Why can’t you just skip some stuff? I make a small patreon donation, so I’ve some responsibility for Baxter Building, I don’t want to be an enabler of either of you having to trudge to the end of the FF, or through inventory stories in other series.
    Interesting to hear about Metal. I jumped off when the origin of Hawkman was mentioned. I like the Hawks fine, but nothing good comes from looking to closely at their backstory. I had a moment of confusion when Element X was mentioned, I was thinking of the X-Element, which Darkseid uses to buy Metron. Rounding off, is The Sword of the Atom really just Ray Palmer’s mid-life crisis? His marriage is in trouble and he gets new clothes, a younger girl friend, a sword and a cool set of legs. It’s kind of a statement.
    Finally, your talk about your dads was a pleasure to listen to. All best wishes to you both.

  11. Brendan Apr 11, 2018

    Terrible news about your dad, Jeff. I’m really sorry.

    It was great hearing dad stories at the end.

  12. Anthony Stock Apr 12, 2018

    I just read that Masters of Kung Fu collection as well. I think that if you’re wondering about Gulacy’s anatomy it’s worth taking another look at Steranko’s Marvel era stuff where the anatomy is similarly stylized. I always assumed that was an affected naivete. Even if it’s not, I think it works the same way that medieval art works (I’m thinking of the kind of European art you see from before anybody knew how to draw in perspective).

  13. Dan Coyle Apr 13, 2018

    I really, really, really, really, REALLY want Graeme and Jeff to take on Englehart’s Green Lantern.

  14. Mike Loughlin Apr 15, 2018

    I would love for you guys to tackle any of the suggested runs (although anything not on Marvel Unlimited or super high-selling would be hard to keep up with). May I suggest:

    – Peter David’s Hulk run.
    – Morrison’s JLA.
    – Englehart’s Dr. Strange.
    – What If…?
    – a Vertigo series that lasted between 50-100 or so issues. I don’t know if any of the non-Morrison, non-Shade Vertigo books appealed to either of you, though.

    Whatever you guys go with, I’m sure it will be great!

    Also: Thank you for taking my “WHY DO YOU HATE FUN” in the intended spirit.

    • I’d love Morrison’s JLA and Englehart’s Dr. Strange too .

  15. Voord 99 Apr 15, 2018

    I finished reading the upcoming issues last night, and…

    ..my God were you right last time about Simonson’s version of Sharon Ventura, and my God was I wrong to defend it. I mean, I still don’t like Englehart’s version, and don’t mind Simonson breaking with it. But not in order to go where this version goes.

  16. Tim Rifenburg Apr 16, 2018

    When you are done with Baxter Building I would be happy with smaller runs or a creator spotlight. (Though we get that on occasion when you focus on Englehart, Kirby, Byrne, etc. when you cover longer runs.) Here are a few runs, short series or
    storylines I would love to see you delve into.

    Marvel’s Micronauts
    Giffen / Levitz – Legion of Super Heroes (At least the Early Run)
    Englehart’s Justice League run
    Mark Waid’s Flash Run (though I am unsure how much is easily available)
    Wolfman / Colan’s Tomb of Dracula
    Steve Gerber’s Defenders run
    Random issues of Bob Haney’s Brave and the Bold or World’s Finest
    Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run
    Something that might not be what you would usually tackle.
    Example: Carl Barks Disney Comics, Archie Comics or Jeff Smith’s Bone

    Maybe a current book that you consistently talk about every time an issue is released. You usually talk about books you both read but sometimes issues at a time or at different times. It would be interesting to see you both tackle a book as it is released every month. Maybe Bendis’s Superman books?

    In the end pick something that interests you because it usually interests us.

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