Wait, What? Ep. 306 — Good Points for Bad People

November 8, 2020
https://twitter.com/MarkRuffalo/status/1309282216141225985

0:01-: Greetings! The latest episode of our “throwsule” finds us recording on the day where Joe Biden officially made it to the Presidency. And so! If you don’t mind hearing two lefties say variations on “oh my god,” and “I feel like I might have the first good night’s sleep in four years” and “whew, wow, whew” a lot, by all means, please join us! If you are not as thrilled by Donald Trump losing, this may be the episode where you fast-forward ahead. Like, a lot. Sorry? Discussed: People voting for Trump in 2020 as opposed to 2016; coup fears; the news coverage during the returns; Four Seasons and Fantasy Island; where does art and satire go from here?; The Avenue 5 airlock scene (see above); “well, okay then” art and comfort food art; the MCU and post-2020; the end of Final Crisis and the end of Secret Invasion in dialog with their elections; and more.

47:33-: Jason Aaron’s Avengers! You may remember some of our earlier conversations which in the past Jeff liked and Graeme…did not. Now, with the latest issue and with a few more gone by that he’s got caught up on, Graeme now feels he likes it….but doesn’t love it and wants to know: why? Discussed: The Avengers #38 (with spoilers, such as they are?); more politics from Jeff; the get-out clause in Aaron’s set-up; My Chemical Romance; writing to the brief; Bendis vs. Aaron vs. Gerry Conway vs. Len Wein; Avengers vs. Savage Avengers vs. Strikeforce; 85 issues of Tom King’s Batman vs. an issue and a half of James Tynion IV’s Batman; the secret of Graeme’s recaps; and more.

1:44:14-1:53:11: Yeah, kind of a shortish notes section as our conversation bobs and weaves a little bit. Jeff talking about what does and doesn’t work in Tynion’s writing for him is a fine intro for Graeme to talk a bit about the Justice League run Tynion cowrote with Snyder and explaining the cliffhanger that wasn’t and other things Graeeme has explained before but Jeff had forgotten.

1:53:11-2:11:09: Jeff wrapped everything up, but then admitted he shouldn’t have! So we talk a bit about the comics news (or “news” as you’ll see) starting with Grant Morrison coming out in an interview as non-binary in the context of talking about the evolution of language which moves into a discussion of when something like someone’s gender identity is, or should be, news; the latest round of Marvel layoffs; and more.

2:11:09-end: Closing comments!  Look for us on  Stitcher!Itunes!Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Dominic L. Franco, and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.  (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
Next week: Ladies and Gentlemen, are you ready to Drokk? If yes, then please read Judge Dredd: The Restricted Case Files, Vol. 3 and join us here next week!

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9 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 306 — Good Points for Bad People

  1. Regarding how you talk about Grant Morrison on this, it feels kind of hypocritical to say that you saw it coming a mile away, it’s not a big deal because they made it obvious this whole time and then call people voyeuristic for just quoting them in a headline. Is it not voyeuristic to look through someones work for any retroactive “proof” that you knew this before they did?

    And for people so non shocked about this non announcement, you sure seem to struggle with the basic respect of using the right pronouns.

    Like you mentioned this is a huge deal to people who were and still are lacking representation, both in stories and on creative teams, so yeah it is kind of newsworthy even if they didnt hold a press conference about it.

    • Also, credit to Jeff, Rebis in Doom Patrol can absolutely be read as non-binary in this context. They’re a combination of a man, a woman, and a genderless spirit exploring a combined identity.

  2. Nate A. Nov 10, 2020

    I haven’t finished the episode, but as I was listening to you talk through the differences between Jason Aaron and Brian Bendis I couldn’t help but think that it was a bit like discussing the difference between fast food restaurant. I mean, I expect people to prefer one chain over another, (do you reach for a Whopper or a Big Mac, who makes a better spicy chicken sandwich), but I think we can agree that it’s almost would be pointless to try to explain why. That having been said, my experience of mainstream superhero comics differs from yours insofar as I just can’t read the things anymore. Like, I’m pretty sure I’d enjoy a Big Mac if I were to eat one tomorrow, but I know for sure that I don’t enjoy current issues of the X-Men. I do agree (preemptively) Ewing’s Hulk run is akin Five Guys or In and Out.

  3. “Morrison comes out as nonbinary” is the headline because that’s the narrative that gets clicks and spreads well on social media, but Morrison’s own comments in that interview on Morrison’s own gender are a bit ambiguous, unsurprisingly. It doesn’t read much like a coming out (“I am here today to announce to the world I am and always have been…”). As Graeme says, the whole topic of gender identity is only brought up as an example of how language changes. Later in the interview, the interviewer asks Morrison whether Morrison, as a white man, should be the one to write a Wonder Woman story, and Morrison doesn’t object to being labelled that way. Perhaps Morrison is just being polite. We don’t know.

    Moreover, it’s not clear to me why, based on this interview, the press has decided that Morrison identifies as nonbinary above all. “Nonbinary,” “genderqueer,” ambiguous gender performance, a person (a man?) with an interest in drag (would it be drag if the person weren’t a man?)–Morrison expresses some affinity for all of these things. Are they just different names for the same bucket, or are there meaningful differences between them? If there are meaningful differences, why is the story being written as though Morrison has claimed one and not the others?

    At some point there will be a follow-up interview where Morrison will be expected to place Morrison’s own person within a precise category and to state a preference for pronouns–something that didn’t happen in this initial interview. Our kindly hosts struggle to stick with “they”, and the article on comicbook.com seems to have been written expressly to use that pronoun as many times as possible, but Morrison does not express a preference in this interview, as far as I can see. Is it the case that all nonbinary people use they/them/their/theirs pronouns? With so many pronouns out there, this seems like quite the assumption to make.

    In any case, I do think that this will be big news–and very good news–for DC Comics, which will now be able to proudly proclaim that many of its most acclaimed superhero comics are the work of a member of the extended LGBTQ+ community.

    I agree with Jeff that these discussions will cause some reassessment of Morrison’s work. As one example, and to be a bit mean to Graeme: speaking about a recent reread of the Invisibles, Graeme was all too happy to fall into the contemporary critical position that this was the work of a straight white man trying to depict truly diverse people and mucking it up. If you accept that Morrison was writing based on lived experience from within a marginalized identity, this easy dismissal (“Yikes! That didn’t age well!”) will no longer be available to you.

    Anyway, it will be an interesting continuing discussion. I hope I didn’t offend anyone.

  4. Dasbender Nov 12, 2020

    RE: Jason Aaron, I’m curious Graeme — what Big Two Superhero comics have you read in the past 30-40 years that *didn’t* adhere to the marketing pitch and put the toys back in the toy box at the end, keeping the IP in the same shape it was in when the writer began? Isn’t your criticism of Aaron the same as EVERY Marvel & DC superhero writer?

    Even Morrison, with their crazy big ideas, never broke the toys. The best writers add some new toys to the toy box, but nobody’s ever “dangerous.” Any “lasting” change that wasn’t just the illusion of change has all been additive, not damaging.

    Swamp Thing being a sentient plant / avatar of the green
    The Speed Force
    Winter Soldier
    I guess Killing Joke was dangerous and damaged Barbara Gordon, but luckily Ostrander and other writers came along and turned that into an additive storyline. Until even that got put back in the toy box. Anything that makes deviates the characters from their licensing counterparts always gets undone.

    Jeff, did you ever read Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider run? I want to say it started in the 2006 series, maybe issue 20 or so? Great gonzo grindhouse stuff that has been a theme of a lot of his Marvel work, including folding New Universe into the Marvel 616. The end of his run flipped the Ghost Rider concept in a way that was dangerous, if other writers hadn’t just ignored it.

    For my money, Aaron is all the best Marvel writer traits rolled up into one package — a love of the characters and a drive to fold his favorite stuff into modern continuity (like New Universe and 70s monster comics), mixing in his personal politics (with Aaron that’s mostly themed around atheism), always calling back to his prior runs (like pulling Quentin Quire into Thor or Ghost Rider into Avengers) all with a sprinkling of his deviant sexual kinks. That formula seems a lot like Claremont and Englehart, doesn’t it? I’m surprised you guys aren’t more into it.

    Granted, even I don’t buy Avengers. Like Graeme, I think the core concept of the team is flaccid and uninteresting. There’s absolutely nothing to the Avengers beyond “heroes team up” with few exceptions when Marvel had deviated from the core concept (like New Avengers or Dark Avengers).

  5. Matthew Nov 12, 2020

    Carl: “Is it the case that all nonbinary people use they/them/their/theirs pronouns?”

    No, they don’t. But “they” pronouns are gender neutral and can be applied to anyone, regardless of their gender. If a person doesn’t specify their pronouns, then “they” is a fairly safe one to use.

  6. Matt for Hire Nov 13, 2020

    Carl: The CBR article has a heading that specifies that Morrison had contacted them and specified that they prefer “they/them” pronouns.

  7. Matthew and Matt: Thanks for letting me know about the general use of “they” and Morrison’s preference for it in particular. It looks as though CBR updated that story since I first saw it.

    I have to say, the initial reporting of this story struck me in the wrong way, as it seems to have struck Graeme, for reasons we couldn’t well articulate. For me, it seemed like the sort of exploitative “journalism” that cherry-picks emotional content from the broader context of a longer interview just to get clicks, without much consideration for the people involved. It’s great that CBR has now contacted Morrison and presumably gotten the OK that this coverage is fine with them.

  8. Jonathan Sapsed Nov 16, 2020

    So on Jason Aaron, I think he is a very good comics writer- one of the best- not an especially innovative one. You start to see repetitive motifs and ploys across his series’, his main trick is identifying the core distinctive power/property of the character and then emasculating him/her. So Thor is a worthy God and wields Mjolnir, and he makes him doubt Godhood and he unbecomes unworthy and loses Mjolnir. Dr Strange has his capacity for magic removed. The Watcher loses his sight in Original Sin. So then the story becomes how do these heroes deal with losing their power and identity. He has a comedy of errors mode, especially in team books, and a dark introspective mode, where hints of redemption are crushed ruthlessly, especially with indie stuff like Goddammed, Southern Bastards, Men of Wrath. I liked the first arc of the Avengers run, but not so much after that. The “Age of Khonshu” seemed to cover the world in pyramids in about 30 minutes. Moon Knight was inflated so as to not be Moon Knight, except for the one scene where he’s punching himself in the face repeatedly to release the Phoenix force, which was quite in character, but it all seemed to be a device to have some battles with zombie mummy armies. Maybe he’s done at Marvel now, but I think you’ll see the same tropes at DC. It seems a bit churlish to pull him up for putting the toys backs in the box, because isn’t that what all Big 2 workers-for-hire do? You can add some peripheral characters but there is no lasting legacy is there? What was the lasting legacy of Grant’s New X-Men? Fantomex and Quintin Quire. Dan Slott had Dr Octopus become Spidey for an entertaining couple of years, but that finished. Hickman ended the Marvel Universe…anyway, I’d like to think Aaron will focus on his Image books but I wonder if Latour will be more or less inclined to work on SB now.