Wait, What?: Spider-Man Can Watch

January 12, 2020

00:01-5:34:  Greetings from Graeme “Happy New Year!” McMillan and Jeff “Yes, but is everything okay with Jim Lee?” Lester! Because Jeff is inexplicably concerned about Jim Lee (well, barely explicably), we get right off to talk about comics news and, well, what  the fuck is happening with Jim Lee? [Spoilers: apparently nothing?]
5:34-9:22: And from there, Jeff was curious what Graeme thought of some stuff Dan Didio had been saying.  “What stuff was Dan Didio saying?” asks Graeme, leading Jeff to realize just how little comics news he is reading (and especially retaining)!  Discussed: Bleeding Cool being played about 5G and whether or not that’s the same as DC’s upcoming timeline; more stuff about the timeline.
9:22-39:02: And finally, a bit more traction on the third thing Jeff thought we’d be discussing:  the comic book and graphic novel sales charts for 2019.  Discussed:  exactly that, plus also Graeme being fancy; Wonder Woman #750 and Flash #750; “everything matters” and what that means for DC as opposed to what it’s meant for Marvel; doubling down on the aging problem; sadly, the phrase “Time Trapper goatse” used by Jeff in the middle of some very good theories and extrapolations by Graeme; the Shannon and Dean Hale story in Wonder Woman #750 illustrated by Riley Rossmo that Graeme thinks is silly and great; and more.
39:02-1:00:37:  “Was there anything that surprised you in the 2019 best-selling comics and graphic novels?” ask Jeff of Graeme, and boy it’s a good thing he did!  Discussed: accidental embargo breaking; the list for both dollar share and unit share; the last issue of The Walking Dead and the final volume of The Walking Dead; Jeff not tracking that Walking Dead TV show; our confusion about why the companies appear to be sleeping on Tom Taylor; and more.
1:00:37-1:11:40: Robert Kirkman is launching Fire Power, a title with Chris Samnee and Matt Wilson on Free Comic Book Day.  But before then, they’re dropping a full trade prelude! Discussed: testing the direct market; the connection between Mark Millar, Robert Kirkman, and Brian K. Vaughan; Image titles that haven ’t even finished their own storyline; Project Superpowers; and more.
1:11:40-1:24:27: Speaking of things that don’t really wrap up well (or at all): Graeme read Wolverine: Infinity Watch by Gerry Dugan and Andy MacDonald.  Also discussed: the end of Omega The Unknown; the Three Loves of Galactus; and more.
1:24:27-1:57:01:  Remember an episode or two ago when Jeff mentioned Jason Aaron’s run on Avengers as being comparable to Grant Morrison’s run on JLA, to which Graeme scoffed? Well, get ready for some next level scoffing, as Graeme got on Marvel Unlimited to read the twenty issues currently available of Aaron’s run and then also re-reading Morrison’s JLA.  Also discussed: The War of the Realms; Silver Surfer: Black; and more.

1:57:01-2:17:32: Chris Arrant on Twitter the other day asked which comic books would make excellent stage musical.   (Great thread!)  Jeff replied on Twitter, but Graeme didn’t, so Jeff cornered him here about which comics he’d turn into a stage musical.  Also discussed: I Started a Joke by Jonathan Hickman; and more.
2:17:32-2:27:27:  Super quick comics talk: Jeff has read and then watched V For Vendetta; read two volumes of Darth Vader; the first volume of Dr. Aphra; and the trade of Marvel’s Tie Fighter; Graeme read Don’t Go Without Me by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell which he loved.
2:27:27-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 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: DROKK!! Vol. 11 of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files! Join us!
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15 comments on “Wait, What?: Spider-Man Can Watch

  1. Jeff Lester Jan 12, 2020

    If you need to cut and paste, here it is:

    http://theworkingdraft.com/media/podcasts3/WaitWhat286.mp3

  2. Hey Graeme! Good(?) news! There *was* an attempt to make a Batman musical, with a MEATLOAF soundtrack. I think they just quietly shelved it after everything about that Spider-Man play…

    https://youtu.be/2Ymjj7wQ5dY

  3. David M Jan 14, 2020

    Guys, ‘The Passion of the Jeff’ was a great start to another year of Wait, What? shenanigans. When they start to make podcasts into musicals, this one will get my nod.
    I remember buying the first issue of Warrior on the platform in Dundee station, it’s one of the last comics I remember buying that clearly. I was catching the train down to Liverpool to see my friend, Phil. I read and re-read that first instalment of V for Vendetta. I have some memory of amazing I found the way Moore and Lloyd had structured it, but when I read it now, I don’t even get a whiff of that magical fascination. It’s clearly a good comic, but I suppose it’s approach has just been so thoroughly absorbed into the craft of the medium.
    I don’t know if Jeff ever watches anime, but I thought of him while watching the first episode of ‘Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken’ recently. It’s an anime about three girls making an anime. It reminded me of Bakuman, in that there are explanations in the anime of what makes anime work. There’s also a sequence about the excitement of creation that made me cry with joy. I basically don’t believe the second episode could be as good. Available on Crunchyroll for the curious. There’s also a manga, but I’ve not read it yet.

    • Jeff Lester Jan 14, 2020

      Thanks for the recommendation, David! (And for the kind words of course.)

      I *finally* dropped my Crunchyroll prime subscription after months of not doing anything with it, but I’ll look into digging up the manga for Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken, because that sounds fantastic.

  4. Matt M Jan 14, 2020

    My experience with/opinion of Donny Cates’ work roughly tracks with Jeff’s, except that I took people’s advice and read GOD COUNTRY.

    My opinion of Cates is unchanged.

    • Martin Gray Jan 15, 2020

      I loved the discussion of Aaron’s Avengers. Having read the first few I’m not even bothering to read more via Marvel Unlimited. It sounds like a lot of extended solo sequences. I hope you’re feeling less battered now, Jeff – it honestly felt to me like Graeme was discussing the book, not attacking your opinions.

  5. Oh my god, you guys. Wrong wrong wrong! Jason Aaron’s early issues of Thor with Esad Ribic are spectacularly exciting. Jeez.

  6. Dasbender Jan 20, 2020

    I’m with Graeme on this whole JLA/Avengers comparison, although not for the same reason, and I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to figure out why.

    Like Graeme, I’ve got more affinity and nostalgia for the DCU characters than I do the MU characters. During my formative era of reading comics, Superman, Batman, Flash (Wally), and the JLI were all the greatest characters in comics, while Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America were the dullest white bread, just as boring as Barry and Hal. I respected Silver Age JLofA and Avengers from their historic importance, but you couldn’t pay me to read it.

    Morrison’s JLA, by contrast, inserted characters I cared about into that historical context and game me a relatable lens through which I could appreciate it. Coming off a JLI era of little stories that celebrated individual characters, the bonds they shared, and the hijinx they stumbled into ad-hoc, Morrison’s JLA was giant stories, celebrating that brand’s long history and the wide scope of the DCU. It was the first time I saw a powerhouse line-up (with a mix of obscure and new sprinkled in) involved in ambitious epics that touched all DCU continuity and made “everything matter”, while still giving each character their moment to shine in a way that demonstrated why that character was awesome.

    Aaron and McGuinness’s Avengers tries a bit of that, but seriously fails. The greatest hits characters do nothing that lets them shine or makes a statement about why you should love them. The new / obscure characters have their own side adventures that impact nobody. And it just doesn’t land for me. Maybe if Ghost Rider, Blade, and Starbrand shared the same place in my heart as Wally West, Kyle Rayner, and Conner Hawke I’d care more? Maybe if some classic Marvel villains showed up, or *ANY* villains showed up, I’d feel warm fuzzies over the celebration of Marvel lore. But NOTHING happens. There’s zero long-term plot I want to see play out, and there isn’t any character work I can appreciate.

    I’m usually Jason Aaron’s BIGGEST fan. I’ve bought EVERYTHING he’s ever written, seriously. He got me to buy a Wolverine book and a Thor book, neither of which I would’ve ever predicted I’d be caught dead reading. He made me care about Thor, which I thought was impossible (same way Brubaker got me to appreciate Cap, and the MCU got me to appreciate Iron Man). He’s even pulling out the bat-shit-crazy stuff I love about comics — Avengers 1,000,000, dead Cellestial HQs, prison planets, and motorcycle races across Hell are MY JAM, on paper. Same as DC 1,000,000, sentient villain suns, prison planets, infinite earths, and the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh make my heart swell. But Avengers just doesn’t land for me. I can’t explain why. With the most recent issue I finally removed it from my pull-list and tossed all my back issues. I’m done.

    You guys will both hate this, but if any Avengers run is comprible to Morrison’s JLA, I’d say it was Hickman. Coming off the Bendis New Avengers rag-tag team of not-Avengers (same as JLI), Hickman was a return to form that celebrated the cosmic scope, history of the Avengers brand, and drove the Marvel Universe while it was out.

    • Voord 99 Jan 22, 2020

      I think Hickman absolutely has the same big-ideas element as Morrison’s JLA, and is better at it than Aaron. Hickman is good at communicating that the big idea is interesting as well as big: Aaron gives me the sense that he set out to have a big idea and fumbled around a bit until he found one.

      But I think there are some critical differences between Hickman and Morrison, and they boil down to character. Morrison in his JLA is exceptionally good about finding a way to reduce the characters to ideal types, and yet throw in little bits that give them an impression of life and depth that, if you stand back, isn’t there. He’s marvellously good at getting you invested in the characters despite them being, if you described them, basically flat, and what he gets out of this trick is that their reduction to types raises them to an idealized epic level. I don’t really believe that this Superman doubted his own myth, because I don’t think he has an inner life, but I don’t think that this Superman *needs* an inner life, and my God, I do believe that he’s wrestling an angel.

      (I was not a DC guy growing up — there being no DC equivalent to Marvel UK, I had very little access to the characters, while I could pick up Marvel every week at the newsagents. So none of this is nostalgia, for me personally. It’s all Morrison.)

      That’s where Hickman falls down. The ideas are great – I couldn’t care less about the characters. I’m not sure that you can do what Morrison did with the Avengers, not easily anyway. (I notice that Morrison did not duplicate exactly the same approach with the X-Men.). But Hickman wasn’t even trying.

  7. Matt for Hire Jan 21, 2020

    I’m coming in with my own “which Avengers run is most like Morrison’s JLA”, and for me, it’s Busiek’s run. It’s got the whol “all your faves are rubbing shoulders with new kids” vibe going on, it gets seriously wide-screen at points, it’s relatively crossover-free, it allows for growth for pretty much all the characters…for my money, it’s the closest to giving me that vibe.

    • Voord 99 Jan 22, 2020

      And obviously, around at about the same time. But I think you’re right that it has the same “vibe” as Morrison’s JLA, but it uses quite different means to create it — means that are in tune with the Avengers and their history in the same way that Morrison’s means are in tune with his subject matter, but because of the difference between the two are different means.

  8. Am I the only one who got Jeff’s comparison of Aaron’s Avengers and Morrison’s JLA? Big stories with a good mix of old and new characters…suits me fine.

    Although with Graeme dismantling the comparison so handily I now feel kind of like what I imagine a flat-earther should feel like.

    • Voord 99 Jan 22, 2020

      I certainly got it.. It’s not about the precise details, but the basic approach: self-consciously Big! stories combined with little character notes scattered here and there to occlude the extent to which character is irrelevant to the plots. I think there’s a definite family resemblance, to the extent that it would not surprise me if Aaron was consciously thinking of Morrison’s JLA as a model. Not that he’s planting the same trees, but that he’s aiming at the same kind of forest.

      • Nate A. Jan 22, 2020

        I think a lot of this can be resolved by remembering that current Aaron, for all his fine qualities as a writer, isn’t nearly as good as peak Morrison. (Current Morrison isn’t even as good as peak Morrison, so again, no slight on Aaron).
        This leads me back to a thought I’ve had during Graham and Jeff’s many, many discussions of Tom King’s work. Basically, they spend a lot of time dancing around the possibility that overall Tom King just isn’t that great. I get that he’s done some work that, at least to the hosts’ eyes, is pretty great. But at this point it seems fair to say that his career average output falls short of his early promise. Then again, I never quite saw in his best work what everyone else did, so maybe I’m over estimating Jeff and Graham’s dissatisfaction.

  9. Nate A. Jan 22, 2020

    Am I the only person who finds the precession of simulacra Wonder Woman image really disturbing? Check out the dead eyed stare on the WW in the middle row, second from the left. It’s the stuff of nightmares.