Please don’t miss this week’s new episode of the podcast, just below. It is much better than this weird post. I’ve been pretty hard on this Superman: American Alien project Max Landis is writing for DC….
00:00-17:43: Greetings and Happy New Year from Graeme “I Didn’t Lose Consciousness, I Just Blacked Out” McMillan and Jeff “No, That Is Exactly What Happens When You Lose Consciousness: You BLACK OUT” Lester, who have a very extended non-comics opening session that involves the Snowpocalypse, bicycles, learning to ride bicycles, the delay some of us might’ve had in learning to ride bicycles, rude four year olds, growing up out in the middle of nowhere, and, yes, blacking out. 17:43-1:09:46: Okay, so yes comic books. Don’t worry, we remember! (Or…do we?) Following on the heels of his recent post here at the website, Graeme and I talk about DC’s Teen Titans. More specifically, DC’s comic book incarnation of the Teen Titans, and even more specifically, the revitalization of that title (which we could more honestly remove the “re-“ and call a vitalization) under Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, as well as what happened to it afterward. Graeme has read a huge ton of the material recently—including Teen Titans Omnibus1, 2, and 3, as well as the New 52 trades and the current Titans Hunt series by Dan Abnett, Paulo Siqueira, and Geraldo Borges—whereas Jeff has been out of the Titans loop for a very long time, but was a fan of the Wolfman/Pérez material back in the day. Discussed/referenced: The Beatles, Chris Claremont, the Uncanny X-Men, the Dark Phoenix storyline, The Judas Contract, that “annoying blond guy,” the second big Trigon storyline and the secret theory about it that Jeff never gets to utter because there’s too much gabbing going on.
(PODCAST BONUS: That theory? About a story Jeff never finished reading? The theory is that Raven was sexually abused by her demonic father and Wolfman thought he could make the icky subtextual link between icky sexual abuse and demonic evil into actual text in the direct market-only Baxter-approved book but then wasn’t able to for whatever reason and then had nowhere else to go…unless that is indeed what happened, in which case it’s just as well I didn’t mention it on-air anyway.)
Also discussed: Wolfman’s confession about his years-long creative block and subpar work; the importance of George Pérez as the detailed yang to Wolfman’s scattered yin; the gap between Paul Smith and John Romita, Jr., and between George Pérez and José Luis Garcia-Lopez; Bob McLeod, as penciller and inker; the artistic legacy of the New Mutants; Kurt Schaffenberger; Louise Simonson taking over New Mutants; Doug Ramsey as an example of the limitation of the superhero genre; slowly typing in those stupid programs onto the VIC-20 that never worked right; the movie War Games and The Hacker’s Handbook; Chris Claremont not being down with X-Factor; post-Tumblr DC; the three distinct eras of Teen Titans, including the Geoff Johns and Scott Lobdell’s eras; the Marvel template and the hot-headed feet of clay character; the above-referenced Titans Hunt by Dan Abnett, Paulo Siqueira, and Geraldo Borges (and Stephen Segovia); “racist” Aqualad; the return of Mr. Twister; how to avoid alienating new readers right after attacting them; and more.
1:09:46-1:23:59: FINALLY, we put the Titans to rest and move on to a new timecode as we segue from how Titans Hunt handles its approach to a reboot with the new nonboot from All New All Different Marvel. Discussed: Al Ewing’s work on the current incarnation of The Ultimates, and why he’d be the perfect writer for The Fantastic Four;Marvel winning truly new comic readers and then losing them with a reboot; the end of the first volume of Ms. Marvel;The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl’s upcoming crossover with Howard The Duck; Chip Zdarsky on Howard The Duck vs. Chip Zdarsky on Jughead; what happens when sales targets are not met and how to measure those sales targets; and whether or not sales on Marvel’s Star Wars books are leveling or actually dropping.
1:23:59-1:37:59: And because Jeff has finally(!!) seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we move into moderate spoiler territory as we talk about the difficulty Marvel might have in doing Star Wars comics in The Force Awakens milieu, even though they absolutely should despite [SPOILERS] and [SPOILERS] and [SPOILERS]. Also discussed: the awkward comic book shenanigans caused by the end of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Stars Wars: The Road to the Force Awakens—Look Out, Here Comes The Force Awakens;iZombie, Lucifer, and the twelve recent Vertigo launches including by Slash And Burn by Si Spencer who is NOT Si Spurrier; and more.
1:37:59-1:46:39: And that “more” lets Jeff steer the convo over to High School Debut, his newest manga crush from Kazune Kawahara who is the writer of other current manga crush object, My Love Story!! High School Debut is Kawahara’s earlier project where she was both writer and artist, and Jeff may like it even more that MLS!! Discussed: a comparison of buying for the Kindle and reading on Comixology to smuggling cigarettes; the hook for High School Debut; and an eensy bit more.
1:46:39-1:50:58: “But let’s flip it back to you Graeme,” sez Jeff. “what have you been reading recently, apart from a shit-ton of Teen Titans?” Although Graeme insists at first he’s been reading nothing but Teen Titans, in fact he’s also been catching up with the Valiant titles, in part after reading the CBR list of the Best 100 comics of 2015. Find out the books that Graeme would pay money to keep reading and which books had potential and lost momentum.
1:50:58-2:12:30: Graeme has also been reading a lot of prose, including Elvis Costello’s Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. Come for the book review, stay for Jeff’s encounter with Mr. C and, more importantly, something somone once said about the film classic Gregory’s Girl that he unconditionally believed for thirty years. And then…
2:12:30-end: *No* closing comments! That’s right, due to some miscommunication between Jeff and the wife lady, he has to leave Toot Sweet (which, no, does not mean he has his throat cut with a straight razor by Mickey Rourke). And so, we do not get a chance to extend on-air our special thanks to the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios for their continuing support of this podcast..as well as our special thanks to the Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy…and to all 113 of our supporters on Patreon who make our show possible.
Fortunately, Graeme does have the time before we go to check out the Gregory’s Girl story and disprove it, crushing a three decade long belief by Jeff. Right. Into. The. Fucking. Dirt. And maybe it’s just me, but Graeme seems actually pretty delighted to do so? I mean, Jeff was basically like this:
00:00-29:40: Greetings from Graeme “Happy Holidays!” McMillan and Jeff “Who to the What Now?” Lester who start off by talking about 2016 right around the bend and all that will bring but also the oddness of recording on December 17: “Star Wars Day (Unofficially).” Yes, by the time you read these words, you probably will have seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie and Graeme probably will have as well. We try our hands at fake spoilers, Graeme tells us when he will be seeing the film and, more importantly, what it was like to attend a press screening of Twilight with specially invited fans of the books. Discussed: the phrase “vocal fans,” the phrase “you’re not MY Grand Moff Tarkin,” Star Wars “line frenzy,” the career of Kenny Rogers, Graeme insisting that Jeff knows the plot of the The Force Awakens, and Jeff insisting he doesn’t, rumors from months ago about the third act reveals, the very strange rumor about Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the return of Jaxxon and the very first Marvel Star Wars comic arc after the adaptation of the original movie, learning to do Star Wars right, the career of Don F. Glut, Abhay’s interview with him, and more.
29:40-44:42: “Hey, Jeff!” sez Graeme. “Because this is the last episode we’re recording this year, I know I made a totally half-assed attempt at a ‘Best of/Favorites of 2015. Did you?” And Jeff did! HOWEVER, we also had promised to address certain other topics in this podcast before we got around to that. (We had? asks Graeme. We had, confirms Jeff.) Because Whatnaut Kris Peterson had requested it, we read The Horror of Loon Lake, an anthology of comics edited by Carl D. Smith. [EDIT: Ooo, really big oversight on our part as pointed out to us on Twitter: Smith wrote all the stories, which were drawn by different artists. A real mistake on our parts, but also maybe a good sign at how many different types of stories he undertook? You decide!] Discussed: Smell A Rat by Stan Chou; all-ages horror comics; House of Scary by Jeff Manley; Cartozia Tales; and more.
Batman and Robin Eternal #11 by Snyder, Tynion IV, Brisson, Blanco, Duce, Rauch
44:42-1:10:02: And as for our second “we promised we would do this last time (we think?”), we are discussing the first eleven issues of Batman and Robin Eternal, plotted by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, and executed by a fleet of talented writers and artists. We discussed it as part of our first issue roundtable on the website but here we dig in to discuss it length. FULL SPOILERS for the first eleven issues so, y’know, spoilers and all. Discussed: Genevieve Valentine, Alvaro Martinez Bueno, and Raul Fernandez; Valentine’s Catwoman; the first few issues of Robin War; more plot-heavy discussion of B&R Eternal; the possible character-breaking plot twist that might be coming; and more.
1:10:02-1:16:30: Graeme steers us back to our Best of 2015 lists, which we finally dig into. Our lists are kinda problematic, in that we didn’t necessarily try to read to keep up with everything, and also because so much of what we thought as the “best” reads of the year either existed before it was published this year or because we just finally got around to it. As we say in the podcast itself, the difference between ‘new’ and ‘new to you’ is almost meaningless these days.
That said: lists! Graeme’s pick for favorite book of the year is Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona (which was a webcomic before it was collected by First Second). Jeff’s only read a page or two but we still get a chance to talk about it for a bit.
1:16:30-1:18:22: Another pick by Graeme for his favorite thing he read this year is 2014’s This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, also published by First Second. “It’s so beautifully illustrated, so beautifully observed,” sez Graeme.
Giant Days by Allison, Tremain, and Cogar
1:18:22-1:24:16: Also on the list? Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Tremain, and Whitney Cogar about kids going off to college. It’s not as magically realist as Bad Machinery but it’s equally funny for Graeme, if not more so. In a similar vein, but more superhero-y is The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson (which made both of our lists for best of the year). And even more superhero-y, and also on both our lists are the two issues of Convergence: Shazam! by Jeff Parker and Evan “Doc” Shaner which is, as Graeme so perfectly describes it, “another joyous superhero book that embraces the superhero.”
1:24:16-1:28:28: Graeme goes from that to almost the opposite with Martian Manhunter by Rob Williams and Eber Ferreira. Graeme’s review is kinda spoilery, but makes the book sound intriguing as hell. Not on Graeme’s list but definitely considered and most definitely discussed is Action Comics by Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder.
The Omega Men by King and Bagenda
1:28:28-1:34:34: But on the list: The Omega Men by Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda, and which Graeme refers to as “I think I’ve come to terms with it being my favorite Tom King.”
1:34:34-1:36:25: Another book from Graeme for which he has some complicated feels: Zero by Ales Kot and collaborators. With The Surface and Material as both runners-up and also of a piece.
1:36:25-1:37:54:Transformers vs. G.I. Joe by Tom Scioli and John Barber: it’s on both our lists (despite Jeff being four to five months behind).
Nameless by Morrison and Burnham
1:37:54-1:49:06: “Okay, I’m going to speed through the rest so you can do yours,” announces Graeme, so here goes: this year’s 2000AD Judge Dredd material from Rob Williams and Henry Flint, particularly their sequel to Titan(which Graeme actually talks about for longer than his last two picks put together); The Wicked and Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie; Multiversity by Grant Morrison and collaborators (also on both our lists), as well as other Morrison works this year: Annihilator with Frazier Irving, and Nameless with Chris Burnham; Unfollow by Rob Williams and Mike Dowling (also on both of our lists); and finally Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels, edited by Tom Devlin. With special runner-up status for two monthly books that are too early in their run to call the “best” of 2015 (but which both Graeme and I dig a lot): Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, and Unfollow by Rob Williams and Mike Dowling.
1:49:06-2:17:55: Jeff’s turn! And since he wrote them all down and is the guy doing the show notes, you can get them in one big pile with notes as to how he read them, albeit one he divided up in a few different categories: manga, stuff that was published this year, stuff that was not published this year, and honorable mentions. (Please note Graeme thought to limit his list to roughly ten titles. Jeff wasn’t that organized.)
Night Nurse #1-4 (digitally, Marvel Comics via Comixology)
Revenger by Charles Forsman (print and digitally, Oily Comics via Comixology Submit)
(With the surprising conclusion that, although he dearly loves his Marvel Unlimited all-you-can-eat subscription, he probably read more comics digitally via Crunchyroll’s all-you-can-eat subscription and also via sales and subscriptions on Comixology…and both of these experiences are still being overshadowed by print. Huh!)
Fantastic Four, by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee
Oh yeah, and truth be told, Graeme and I both really enjoyed reading the first 102 issues of the Fantastic Four by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee for the Baxter Building podcast. Good ol’ Reed Richards has a way of grating on a guy’s nerves, but it was also an *amazing* ride!
2:17:55-end: Closing comments! Our special thanks to the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios for their continuing support of this podcast..as well as our special thanks to the Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy…and to all 115 of our supporters on Patreon who make all this possible.
Yup, here it is: our 174th episode (by one count, at least), just in time for you to snort some Hitler and celebrate Mary Jane Watson’s birthday!
Well, since I’m sure you’ve got a busy day ahead of you, allow me to present to you…without further ado…our show notes!
00:00-6:00: Greetings! Death threats! As Jeff says, “Listeners! Welcome to what may be the last episode of Wait, What?” Yes, it’s a bone-chilling opening for a podcast that jumps right in and barely looks back, with an introduction of what we’re going to be talking about length: a frank (and profanity-filled) discussion of Avengers #1-36, New Avengers #1-24, and Infinity #1-6, all written by Jonathan Hickman and a elite cadre of Marvel’s shock troops!
6:00-25:42: But first, before we do that, since this was recorded on the day the second Star Wars trailer dropped (embedded above), we have to talk about it first. Also discussed: Return of the Jedi, The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek Into Darkness, the franchise that taught you not to trust franchises, class struggle in Star Wars, the Mad Max: Fury Road trailer (also embedded above), Terminator Genisys trailer, the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, the weird fragmented point trailers are at right now, the second Ant-Man trailer, and more. 25:42-1:11:05: And now we get back to Jonathan Hickman, Avengers #1-36, New Avengers #1-24, and Infinity #1-6, with liberty and spoilers for all. Because we are trying to be better with context, fasten your seatbelts as we try to describe everything that’s going on and break down our reactions. (And if you want to read along, all issues discussed are currently available on Marvel Unlimited). Discussed: plot hammering, what Jeff characterizes as the “contemporary American spirit” at the heart of Hickman’s story, the powers and drawback of repetition, a story about the inevitability of mortality as told in a story featuring characters who we know technically will not actually die; Marvel’s former series What If, #NotMyTonyStark, shared universes, D&D references, Stan Lee’s pubic hair, Secret Wars, the Nick Spencer train, the latest iPad update for the Marvel Unlimited app, the 500 Star Wars comics dropped on the app this week (seriously, if you find yourself hankering for the Dark Horse Expanded Universe, or you just want to re-read that issue where Michael Golden drew a really keen lightsaber fight, it is now exceptionally easy to get your hands on with a subscription to MU), and more.
Very, very, terrifyingly easy.
1:11:05-1:20:58: The mention of the iPad (and more specifically, Jeff’s not-subtle hint that Graeme should get one) leads to a story from Graeme about what he’s been up to since the last time we podcasted. (Spoiler: a lot of what he’s been up to involves sitting in the Apple Store.) Throw in a cameo from Ernie and Gus-Gus and you’ve got a lovely non-comic intermission!
(Did not crop after ganking; probably should’ve)
1:20:58-1:43:20: Returning from that intermission, patron Scott Ashworth requested that we read one of the oldest cult comics, Herbie the Fat Fury, by Richard Hughes and Ogden Whitney, which Graeme with his superior library skills (and superior library) is able to do! Discussed: Alan Moore, a certain type of “satire,” Groundhog Day (the movie, not the holiday), JFK (the person, not the airport), Stockholm Syndrome, Gold Key Star Trek comics, Daniel Pinkwater, pre- and post-war America, and coming up next on our to-read list: Opus by Satoshi Kon, as requested by Eric Rupe. Also, not mentioned in our discussion, but let me throw in a counterbalancing opinion about Herbie from Bill Reed, and an uncovered connection between Herbie and Watchmen. Those “Comics Should Be Good” guys are great, aren’t they?
1:43:20-1:55:21: Graeme also read the first week of Convergence titles from DC, which he wrote about for the website but also discusses at a bit more length here. Mentioned: Alisa Kwitney on Batgirl, Lee Weeks on Superman, Jeff Parker and Tim Truman on Hawkman (upcoming), someone’s butt talking to someone else’s boobs, editorial inconsistencies, Convergence as an event where you can read the crossover books without having to read the main event title; and more.
To quote Jackie Kennedy: Sigh.
1:55:21-2:06:51: Although he didn’t have anything special planned to say (or anything planned at all), Jeff nevertheless wanted to talk about the passing of Herb Trimpe, comic artist, writer, and teacher who managed to fuse the imperatives of a Marvel house style with his own more unique one, and gave us a lot of great comics along the way: the Incredible Hulk, Shogun Warriors, Godzilla, and G.I. Joe, a fill-in issue of Captain America written by Bill Mantlo (issue #291, which Jeff does an impressive job of partially misremembering here (and again, thanks to Marvel Unlimited, I dug up that issue, read it and screenshot it just now), the Phantom Eagle in Marvel Super-Heroes #16, issues of G.I. Joe Special Missions that he wrote, and more. Thank you, Herb.
2:06:51-end: Closing comments, a.k.a., “when the hell is our next episode, we honestly have no god-damned idea.” (Hint, it’s a skip week coming up, so look for us in a fortnight.) The Small Tote Bag! Places to look for us at—Stitcher!Itunes!Twitter! Tumblr! and, of course, on Patreon where, as of this count, 102 patrons make this whole thing possible.
Next Week: there is no next week! (As far as a podcast episode is concerned) but then come back the week after that! And the week after that! Etc., etc. And remember, if you need just a straight text-only link to cut and paste into your browser or program of choice, check out the first comment!