0:00-25:58: Greetings!  We are right off to the races, thanks to the some very sub-standard Dr. Strange comics, in particular the Roy Thomas/Gene Colan issues the Dr. Strange Epic Collection: A Separate Reality.  Although we bring it up immediately, we get around to talking to them only after discussing other topics like talking in the third person, buying comics in the PDX, bad math skills, and more.
25:58-30:46: And what did Jeff read before he read the sub-par Dr. Strange comics?  The tail end of the Claremont/Cockrum run on Ms. Marvel!  “Were you being masochistic as shit?” Graeme asks, and it’s a sensible question!  Jeff has little more to say than, “save me from bad comics, Graeme!”
30:46-35:37:  In the interests of trying to save Jeff, Graeme mentions the Kamandi Special that just came out collecting the last two issues of the original run that’d been produced but never published.  Also, Graeme has been reading old comics but *loving* them!  Loving them!  Graeme has been re-reading old Legion of Super-Heroes issues, the Mr. Miracle Special from the ‘80s by Evanier and Rude, and Showcase #100, a comic from the ‘80s that Graeme and Jeff have been shown love for here on the broadcast and go on to do so again, and Batman and the Outsiders Annual #1, featuring The Force of July, right-wing superheroes who believe the left-wing media is controlling the media.  As Graeme so aptly puts it: “Someone’s got to bring back the Force of July.  They are primed for a comeback!”
35:37-1:40:32: And Graeme’s also read Cullen Bunn’s Aquaman run, a run Graeme is not as enthusiastic about.  And that leads us to talk about the unevenness of Bunn’s work in terms of when he’s good, he’s very good, but when he’s off, he can be pretty terrible.  We talk about him, Jeff Lemire, and writers who turn out Big Two comics that do little more than nod at other comics…which leads us to talk about X-Men comics, and what it would take for us to really come back to the title (or titles), how Marvel treats its writers these days, the upcoming third Black Panther related title, the current arc in Detective Comics with Batwoman, Kate reading the Rebirth trades, Monsters Unleashed, Wild Dog and the Wild Dog Special (and the lost storylines of Action Comics Weekly and Marvel Comics Presents), the diversity of DC Comics back in the ‘80s, and more tangents than you can tan an agent with.
1:40:32-2:25:24: And so, somehow, we come to briefly discuss the season finale of The Good Place (which Graeme loved and Jeff has not seen) and then, at some length, the finale of Sherlock (which we have both seen and both, uh, have many thoughts about). SPOILERS for the Sherlock finale (you are very, very safe with The Good Place). Also discussed: the previous season of Who, creator swagger, Crazyhead on Netflix, the three seasons of Line of Duty on Hulu, and the return of Nashville to CMT and Hulu.  And then we return for a quick round of comic book shoutouts before…
2:25:24-end:  Closing comments! But first:  We make a plan for a January podcast episode!  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:  Next week is a skip week! Give your ears a well-deserved vacation, read issues #238-247 of Fantastic Four, and then join us in a fortnight for the next episode of Baxter Building!

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20 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 217: Born on the Force of July

  1. Jeff Lester Jan 22, 2017

    And for those of you who prefer to cut and paste the link into a browser/player of your choice:


    • Corey Feb 2, 2017

      Jeff kept noting what a made-for-TV idea WILD DOG was….in point of fact, he’s been on ARROW throughout this season. Hockey mask, blue jersey and all.

      • Jeff Lester Feb 8, 2017

        Huh! Well, yeah, his design is perfect but did they keep the “he’s one of these four guys but which one?” angle? Either way, I should check it out.

  2. There is little more pleasurable to someone like myself who works at home than opening up iTunes to find a new Wait, What? episode to listen to while Photoshop crashes for the umpteenth time in the morning.

    But oh lads, oh lads, oh lads…

    I really like the Roy Thomas/Gene Colan Doctor Stranges… precisely for the reason that Jeff dislikes them. They are so of their time that they are pure slabs of pop. They may not be the best of pop, but they’re the equivalent of a good pop song with an excellent lead guitarist laying down a great riff even if he isn’ quite in time with his rhythm section.

    As you say later in the podcast, comics need to rediscover their ability to be a single pure pop experience again, and it could do far worse than look to the likes of Thomas and Colan for inspiration.

    In my spare time I’m trying to do a (admittedly knowing) recreation of that early seventies Marvel experience, and it has to be said, it’s far harder than it looks.

    And I’m also in disagreement with you on Sherlock. It’s interesting that you mention Grant Morrison as all the negative reviews I’ve read on the final Sherlock episode have really reminded me of the reaction to the final issue of Batman R.I.P. Is it down to the readers/viewers expecting one thing and being non-plussed at being given something else? Or simply that what was delivered could in no way live up to the hype? For me, the Gatiss/Moffat take on Sherlock has been identical to the Morrison take, as they try to examine all aspects of the titular character in all its incarnations over the years. And the final episode was very much their take on the deconstructionist approach to Holmes in the 70’s which gave us Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes; Mayer’s The Seven Percent Solution; Dibden’s The Last Sherlock Holmes story and even Gene Wilder’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Young Brother.

    And similarly, I enjoyed Sherlock trying to do too much: far better than too little. Which, of course, takes us back to the comics of the 60’s and 70’s where characters would leave school, start college and have a complete change in their supporting cast in the space of a page.

    Opinions may differ though!

    Hope the two of you have a good rest week, and I look forward to the next Baxter Building.

  3. Mike Loughlin Jan 23, 2017

    I’m sorry, guys, but you don’t get to diss Gene Colan like that without hearing about it. In addition to producing some of the most beautiful art to ever grace the medium, he could tell a story just fine. Look at Tomb of Dracula and Howard the Duck. Paired with writers who had a better grasp of what they were doing there weren’t the pacing problems you were calling out in Dr. Strange. I’m sorry you didn’t like the issues as much as I did (and I liked his later Dr. Strange issues with Englehart better) but there is some amazing imagery in that run.

    I know, taste is subjective and it’s not “wrong” to not like a particular artist’s work on a title but a bad word about Gene the Dean gets my hackles up.

    er… Looking forward to the next episode!

    • Mike Murdock Jan 24, 2017

      I love Gene Colan, but he was notorious for not reading ahead in the script and just drew the story at his own pace, often with lots of splash pages or only a handful of panels, and then he’d have to cram the rest of the story in the final few pages. But I’m a huge Daredevil fan and he was one of the few saving graces for a long time, but pacing was not his strength.

      • Mike Loughlin Jan 25, 2017

        Hmmm…. I still think most of the faults of the Thomas/Colan collaborations are from the writer rather than the artist, and that Colan was good with the pacing of other writers, ones whose plots and scripts were tighter…

        But I see your point, and I can’t say he didn’t go for big panels and splashes at times.

        I’ll go to bat for him any day of the week, though.

  4. Marvel. The Outhouse of Ideas.

  5. Jacinda Jan 24, 2017

    If you’re still looking for a manga recommendation, and wouldn’t mind the seedy world of scanlations I do strongly recommend a series called 7 Seeds by Tamura Yumi (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_Seeds . It’s an ongoing series that does a really interesting take on the post apocalyptic survival story. Unfortunately the lack of panty shots may be the only thing stopping it from being licensed to the English language.

    Secondly my other recommendation which falls in the shoujo style category is Monthly girls’ Nozaki-kun by Izumi Tsubaki (currently published through yen press). The first volume is very cheap on comixology at the moment and it’s a very fun read that plays with a lot of tropes.

    • Jeff Lester Feb 8, 2017

      Jacinda: Thank you for taking the time to make these suggestions! I’ve written them down and will look them up. (I’m a little antsy about going the scanlation route, but it does seem like the only way to get stuff sometimes.)

      I really, really, REALLY apologize for this comment ending up in moderation hell for weeks and weeks–I only noticed it the other day and have been kicking myself about it ever since. Again, thank you.

  6. daustin Jan 24, 2017

    My era of X-Men was really the period from Mutant Massacre through at least Inferno – so about ’86-’90 or so – encompassing Fall of the Mutants, my beloved Alan Davis Excalibur. By the early ’90s, even before Claremont officially got the bump, I already thought things were going south (with some exceptions, like Peter David’s X-Factor), and a combination of awful writing by Lobdell and Nicieza, overexposure and overpublication, and college drove me off the books for good.

    Frankly, the combination of Claremont’s departure from X-Men, Giffen’s from LOSH, plus late era Gruenwald Cap Am, turned me off following characters or teams in general. Can’t imagine wanting or trying to get back into X-Men at this point – I’ll read or at least try specific well-regarded runs as one-offs, but that’s it. I read Morrison’s New X-Men and Milligan’s X-Statix, and plan to get around Whedon’s run, Remender’s X-Force and Aaron’s Wolverine & the X-Men, but in my mind I might as well be reading Elseworlds stories – I have no interest in how these things tie into continuity.

  7. tim rifenburg Jan 24, 2017

    One of the biggest problems with the X-men was also one of the best things about it. Claremont controlling the Xcorner of the Universe. Once Marvel realized the cash cow that X-men could be Claremont picked up more titles to keep the control. Once Marvel started adding more titles the Claremont voice and vision was watered down and once he left (or was forced out), the books were too numerous, too many visions and fluctuated widely in quality. What Marvel needs to do with X-men is exactly like you guys discussed. Pick one title, one set of creators and tell a story they want to tell. Don’t reboot, don’t try to tie everything together and don’t ape Claremont. Tell the story of mutants you want to tell with the characters you want to use. They did it with Cap, Avengers, Iron Man and even Spider-man. Do the same with the X-men. Let readers discover the characters again and tell a great story. Build. expand and revisit X elements later. Readers are also going to have to understand that at this point the continuity and past need to be used on a pick and choose basis. Not everything can be used or should be. X-men lost me once they split the teams and tried to have their cake and eat it too. Too many titles, mini series and tie in cross overs. Could not keep up if I wanted too and at that point I did not want to.

    • That’s selling Louise Simonson and Ann Nocenti a bit short. They edited Claremont for a long time and kept the universe fresh with ideas. Also Byrne and Davis had not at all unsubstantial contributions .

      Actually, when reading the comics for the first time last year, the mid to late to mid eighties, when the titles were branching out a little more, mixed with some miniseries and Claremont wasn’t the only writer, was the most exciting period for me.

      • tim rifenburg Jan 27, 2017

        I tend to have blinders on when it comes to the X-men. I usually think in terms of the writer first and Claremont always comes to mind when I think of the X world. You are correct that the editors and artists contributed in significant ways. It is a bit tough to tell where the hands of the editors are in shaping things. Artist contributions are a bit easier.. Also to add to your point, Claremont was able to work with a large variety of artists to tell the stories he wanted to.

  8. Dan Coyle Jan 25, 2017

    Wow, I thought I was the only one who enjoyed the Pasko/Burchett run on Blackhawk. Was a nice extension of Chaykin’s ideas but I actually found it more interesting.

  9. In regards to Claremont’s X-Men run, can anyone tell me whether Days of Future Past was one of the first alternate timeline stories in the Big Two? There may have been earlier stories of alternate earths (such as the annual Justice League Earth 2 stories), but certainly there was nothing else in the comic book culture (other than in science fiction novels) with the popularity of this two issue story about an alternate dystopian future. Nowadays, alternate earths and timelines are the norm, but if I recall correctly, Days of Future Past was groundbreaking and shocking at the time.

    • DC would try to make Kamandi, LoSH, and Atomic Knights all fit together into a more-or-less consistent future timeline (bouncing from dystopia to utopia and back again), but it’s probably easier to think of them as alternate futures.

      Non-dystopic, but in the lifetime of current characters would be the Super-Sons timeline, which was initially presented as *the* future for Superman and Batman, and later retconned to be a computer simulation. (Or was that supposed to be a simulated present, assuming Clark and Bruce had the kids in the past?)

      • Thanks kag, Kamandi, War of the Worlds (Killraven), Deathlok and other stand alone alternate/possible future Sci-fi type books crossed my mind, but I was thinking mostly about a mainstream popular title that takes place in the present, but reveals an alternate future/timeline/universe that is dystopian in nature and inhabited by alternate versions of the heroes. This now seems to be a standard trope in comics (Flashpoint, Multiversity, Age of Apocalypse, etc.) and comic book tv shows (Flash, Arrow, Legends, etc). Days of Future past was, to my recollection, revolutionary at the time. It was a critical and popular success and preceded Crisis on Infinte Earths, Blade Runner, Mad Max, etc. by a couple of years, I think.
        If that’s the case, Chris Claremont singlehandedly created a comic book sub-genre, which is a pretty impressive feat for which he doesn’t get enough credit.

        • Jeff Lester Feb 8, 2017

          BTW, Rob G, while I agree that the flash-forward dystopia is a trope that gets used a ton now, and Days of Future Past really does take that idea and doubles down on it with the alternate heroes, it’s worth noting (if you listen to Baxter Building) that attributing that so much to Claremont without acknowledging Byrne is part of what makes Byrne so kinda crazy-eyed on the topic. (Good grief, that was one sentence!) According to him–and I don’t think it’s ever been disputed–Byrne contributed all kinds of character bits and even plot decisions that made Days of Future Past all the more resonant and influential.

  10. David Morris Feb 11, 2017

    Ah, Marie Severin! Anyone else think a big Marvel Icons type book, while she’s still alive, is a good idea? Mostly, I like her inking herself best, although Trimpe’s interesting on her, however John Severin inking her on Kull is one of my favourite comics. When John was doing those great Witchfinder books at Dark Horse I had a fanning rush of hope that since Dark Horse had the Howard properties we might get more Kull from them. Oh yes, when you were talking about the cover of FF#236 recently, I meant to say the Stan Lee figure looks to me to have been either heavily re-drawn or completely drawn by Marie. I’d love to see the pencils for that cover to see if Byrne drew Jack as well as Stan, or drew neither.
    I’m very much in agreement with Graeme about the tweeness of Gaiman. His abilities are shown to best advantage in comics with collaborators who have strong storytelling chops. His prose discouraged me pretty quickly. I did read and enjoy ‘The Graveyard Book’ but there it’s something of a collaboration with Kipling.