Hey, hey, we're the wrenchies...

Hey, hey, we’re the Wrenchies…people say we’ll wrench you around…

Hello, everyone!  My computer is acting a wee bit erratically today—I’m thinking it’s the mistake of trying to upload 547 files to Dropbox all at a go, but who knows for sure—so I’m gonna get right to the show notes, if you don’t mind.  Remember:  if you just want the link to the podcast for your own downloading/making-a-secret-weapon purposes, just go to the VERY FIRST COMMENT.


And with that, we’re off!

00:00-2:52: Greetings! Oh, the weather outside is frightful (in Portland) but having an Internet kill switch makes Graeme delightful, so…uh, I don’t know the rest of the song? I think it’s something about having no particular place to go? Man, “Let It Snow” is a harsh, harsh song: men and women on the edge of homelessness trapped in a snow storm with their own choices being starvation or cannibalism! No wonder everyone likes that “conceal, don’t feel” song so much. Snow-related songs are grim.
2:52-12:02: Jeff’s been to the comic store for the first time in a few weeks and here’s a thing: we have trouble remembering all the stuff we meant to buy until we get home. Mentioned and discussed (and forgotten in a few cases): Gotham Academy #2, Outcast by Kirkman and Azaceta; “Kirkmanitis,” and more. One of the things I realize now we should’ve talked about is when we decide to just hold off on getting the forgotten book until next time, and when we buy the book digitally.  (As I did with that third Multiversity issue and I think Graeme’s also done?  Like I said, we shoulda talked about it.)


Sort of a nice transition panel choice here, I think….

12:02-59:11: Here comes a stealth transition to talking about The Wrenchies, the truly noteworthy graphic novel from Farel Dalrymple published by First Second. One of us loved it, one of us did not, and yet both of us are telling you to read it: how does that work, exactly? Find out here as Graeme and Jeff dig in deep to this remarkable book. Discussed: Jonathan Lethem; Philip K. Dick; The Divine Invasion and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch; self-destructive narratives; Flex Mentallo; The Filth; Grant Morrison; Too Many Cooks (and yes, I just spent another 11:11 watching it again to get that link); our relationship to despair; late ‘80s X-Men; the inherent ambiguity of “comic book-y” material; The Rise of Aurora West; First Second Books; having things you say on the Internet taken the wrong way; and much, much more. Is this possibly our longest talk on a single book ever? It might be!
59:11-1:08:41: And then we go on to talk about Superior Iron Man #1 by Tom Taylor and Yildiray Cinar; Bucky Barnes The Winter Soldier #1 by Ales Kot and Marco Rudy; Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1 by Al Ewing and Luke Ross, but none of them for nearly as long as The Wrenchies.
1:08:41-1:25:02: And, as long as we’re talking Marvel, we also decide to talk about Captain Marvel: success or social media success? We talk Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Girl, The Death of Wolverine, Inhumanity (and, more particularly, Inhumanity on Marvel Unlimited); and the nearly criminal lack of Marvel Two-In-One on Marvel Unlimited.  (Seriously, it’s heart-breaking.)
1:25:02-1:52:12: “Okay, let’s talk about Avengers, then.” And with that, we continue our re-read of the first 300 issues of Avengers, this time covering Avengers #251-277 by (largely) Roger Stern, John Buscema, Tom Palmer and editor Mark Gruenwald. An amazing run…but why did Jeff find himself wishing he was reading Chris Claremont comics instead?  Discussued: A Skrull saga in space (again), The Masters of Evil (again), In The Case of Change v. Illusion of Change; X-Men Forever (all on Marvel Unlimited!); a slam against the Justice League; and much more.
1:52:12-2:03:25: Jeff has just started reading The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore; a fascinating, intensely readable and yet also glib overview of the life of Charles Moulton Marston; and Graeme talks a bit about an upcoming article he’s writing about the Five Most Powerful Comic Book Writers in Hollywood, and about corresponding with Robert Kirkman, Brian Bendis, Mark Millar, Geoff Johns, and Chris Claremont. But also: Lemire! Jodorowsky! And as a bonus, a good review from Graeme about a very good Earth One title coming out from DC, and more.
2:03:25-end: Closing comments! Light applause! What’s on our website! What’s coming to our website! And, as always, our thanks and appreciation to everyone who’s contributed to us on Patreon (where, as of this count, 83 patrons make this whole thing possible.) It’s The Great Tote Bags, Charlie Brown! Places to look for us at—Stitcher! iTunes! Twitter and Tumblr!

Thanks for checking in and we’ll see you in (probably) another two weeks!


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18 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 163: Wonders, Avengers, Marvels and Wrenchies

  1. Jeff Lester Nov 17, 2014

    FIRST! Also, here’s that link in easy-to-copy format:


  2. I suspect that INHUMANITY #2 fell between the cracks on Marvel Unlimited because it was solicited as INHUMANITY MEDUSA #1 and changed before publication, so maybe the list of dates that books go on unlimited has one name, and the list of data files for the books has another, and no one cares enough to double check since it was an event that went nowhere. In fact, just checking quickly, Marvel’s website lists two different series called “Inhumanity (2013 – Present)”, one with just #1 and one with just #2.

    That “Five Most Powerful Comic Book Writers in Hollywood” list is… odd. Bendis? Powerful enough to get his pet project on the PlayStation Network after a decade of development? Claremont? A man whose major credit seems to be “(comic book & characters – uncredited)”? Can’t see how those guys make the list over, say, David Goyer. Or Neil Gaiman. Or Jeph Loeb. Or, unless there’s some definitional reason he shouldn’t count, Joss Whedon.

  3. Steve K. Nov 18, 2014

    re: Cap & MA #1 – just a guess, but I suspect that the inversion is going to be used as a jumping-off point for this “season” – IOW Cap and Luke’s actions while they’re inverted are going to cause other problems that will then become the plot engine for the next year. In that respect, it works fine as a first issue, if one can get past the inversion itself happening in a different book.

    I may be an easy mark, but I quite enjoyed inverted Luke being a dick to Spidey trying to apologize for the stuff “he” did while he was not in his right mind. It was a pretty cute way to bring that story point from the last series back into play.

  4. Eric R Nov 18, 2014

    The problem any Carol Danvers Captain Marvel comics has, which she shares with Hank Pym, is that most comic readers have already decided whether or not they are interested in the character which is apparently no. I wouldn’t be surprised if Willow also has a bigger fan base than DeConnick and that is helping Ms. Marvel out.

    Also, I don’t think Marvel is stuck with DeConnick on Captain Marvel until the movie comes out. There is almost four years until the movie comes out so Marvel has time to give DeConnick another relaunch, cancel the title and let it rest, and then relaunch closer to the movie with say, Rick Remender and Greg Land in time for the movie.

    • That’s a good point, Eric (the) R(ed) — I hadn’t thought about most users not being plugged in to the comics news feed.

      Even though I was, and a big fan of both Kelly Sue and and Carol Danvers, and wanted the book to be big from the get-go, I admit I had a hard time getting into the series. First, there was the art — now I’m sure that artist would be fantastic on another book, but the sketchy, amorphous body work so contrasted with my sense of who Carol was (hard-ass, doesn’t like ambiguity) that it threw me off and I didn’t look as forward to reading the book as much as I’d anticipated. Second, though I still like the ideas and a lot of the execution of the more personal, character-driven stories, that may have been a tough sell for a new “superhero” book — I guess there’s a reason so many new titles launch as tie-ins to events (sigh).

      Though I’d still buy that Captain Marvel down jacket Kamala has. In a heartbeat.

  5. Stefan Nov 19, 2014

    I totally understand Graeme’s aversion to future dystopias, I have one myself for zombies. You have to work very, very hard to get me to care about anything involving zombies.
    Also, if that list really is the top 5 most powerful comic book writers in Hollywood then they really aren’t very powerful at all! Millar definitely has some pull, Kirkman maybe, but not the others.

  6. BrianMc Nov 19, 2014

    I read Ms. Marvel, and buy singles rather than trade-wait, because I want to support the book. I want to support and enjoy Capt. Marvel, too, but I dropped it (and Daredevil) when relaunch was used as an excuse to jump the price to $4. Just not worth it to me.

    There are many factors that might be contributing to Ms. Marvel’s success, but I think the $3 price point is one of them.

  7. Colin Nov 19, 2014

    I wish you guys were doing an X-men read through next year. While I enjoy the Rachel and Miles podcast, I think the way you guys talk about Claremont as a writer and the things you have to say about him are infinitely more interesting. At least write some more Claremont centered blog posts, please.

    • To piggyback off Colin’s post, I listened to the last episode too late to leave a noticeable comment, but I did want to ask if the Whatnauts had any say in next year’s Marvel readthrough? While I have no doubt you’ll manage, as ever, to find many interesting things to say about it, I still think for a number of reasons that Fantastic Four is a bad choice. One big reason is that I suspect you’ll end up covering a lot of old ground, things you’ve already talked about extensively on the podcast before. I’m thinking specifically of Kirby/Colletta versus Kirby / Sinnott, Steve Englehart’s run on FF, which I’m tempted to say was discussed last year on WaitWhat?, more generally Steve Englehart editorial scuffles, and most generally the dynamics of a traditional Marvel team, which of course has been the subject of your 2014 readthrough.

      While Colin’s suggestion of X-Men is slightly better than FF to my sensibilities, I think a solo hero would be an even more interesting change of pace. I’d really like to see Graeme forced to engage with Frank Miller’s Daredevil, for instance. Actually, Daredevil would be a really good choice, because there’s so much outside of the Miller stuff that hardly ever gets discussed. Like it would be amazing to see your reactions to Daredevil #300 and Daredevil #301, both written by Dan Chichester (let’s just say they’re VERY different comics).

      Again, I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining. The prospect of a third podcast is very exciting, even if you do go with Fantastic Four. I’m just sort of thinking out loud as to how the third pocast could be even better (or “better for me,” I should say).

      • God, tldr. Sorry, I wrote that comment in a fugue state. Here’s the short version. A third podcast of Fantastic Four would end up being Wait What Greatest Hits. If you’re gonna do Wait What Greatest Hits, I’d personally rather it be with Captain America. But even better would be if you didn’t do Wait What Greatest Hits at all, hence my suggestion of Daredevil.

        • Jeff Lester Nov 25, 2014

          I think these are really good points, Cass, and definitely you’re not alone in wanting us to try something with a little more variation. Since we’re not torrenting types and maybe not coordinated enough to successfully tagteam the library system, it pretty much leaves us with the GIT DVDs, which we both have most of the Marvel discs (and Star Trek). And I think Captain America might be a good choice just because, as you mention, it would be our Greatest Hits but in crazy-ass detail when we end up romping through the Englehart and Kirby material.

          I suppose I could do some research and see if Marvel Unlimited has any complete runs of anything but the big name guys, but I think out of all the GIT stuff, us doing the FF makes a certain amount of sense right now. (Plus, I think Graeme’s gonna be really into it.) But I really appreciate your very excellent points.

    • Jeff Lester Nov 25, 2014

      Thanks, Colin! I also think it’d be fun to do X-Men, just because I think Claremont is such a fascinating writer for both Graeme and I (and I also adore very nearly all of UXM #94-175 or so). But even though Rachel and Miles’ toes are too big to step on, I’d hate to risk it, anyway. And with the FF going away (for a while, anyway), it might be a really good time to dig into how that book evolved (and stopped evolving).

  8. Ben Braddock Nov 20, 2014

    I was fascinated to hear Bendis was great via email as he is pretty well known for loathing the email interview. There’s even a quote out there where he describes it as akin to someone asking you to write their article for them. I wonder if the size of the publication where the article is set to run might have something to do with the friendliness? Or maybe he just has had a change of heart over the years, which would be great.

  9. At the point where you two are discussing Captain Marvel (and the ancillary titles surrounding said discussion) and the fact that it seems the title is continuing to be published out of favoritism toward Kelley Sue or as a bastion of Marvel’s need to show it is diverse.

    [If I’ve misrepresented these thoughts, chalk it up to listening at work and, more importantly, disregard what comes next]

    To the first point, favoritism is going to happen. Who you know sometimes trumps what you know. Ehhh. It’s a bummer, but it just is.

    But, to the second point, I don’t see a big problem with this. Marvel’s continued publication of the book means they are getting something out of it. And, if ulterior motives are what keep a talented female writer creating a female-centric superhero book for Marvel, then that’s a good thing. The only way things will evolve toward more diverse characters and more diverse creators in this business is to have those books and those creators supported by the big publishers, even if there’s an apparent disconnect with the sales figures as relates to other books. Whatever it takes to get these books on the stands, so that those of different backgrounds can “see themselves” represented is a win.

    It reminds me of the point where my first wife and I were discussing going to marriage counseling. (spoiler alert – didn’t work out). My impetus for going to counseling was because of our young children. She didn’t like that reasoning and felt if I wasn’t doing it “for us” then it was a wasted effort. Her friends had to convince her that whatever got me into the counselor’s office was a good thing. It’s…kinda like that. Maybe. I don’t know. Probably shared too much, so I’ll sign off.

    thanks again for the podcast and the site. Looking forward to the rest of the episode.


    • Jeff Lester Nov 25, 2014

      Thanks for these comments, Chris: as the King of Oversharing, I very much appreciated them. I’m also hoping this will be just the start of a slew of “Marvel comics/Trouble marriage” stories and analogies!

  10. Finally got a chance to listen to the podcast now, and I’ll have more detailed comments later, but when you ask “What’s the difference between Captain Marvel and Spider-Girl”, the first answer I can give is “Captain Marvel isn’t an exercise of Silver Agey nostalgia stories by middle-aged men for middle-aged men.”

  11. Yet another excellent podcast! You guys make it look easy.

    Two things — one on a topic you mention, one on a topic you didn’t. So there’s diversity for you.

    Having not read any of Axis (because: why?), the Iron Man and Sam Wilson heel turns came out of the blue. And they’re thuddingly one-note, which is probably my biggest issue with them, in that what drives this other than the obvious hand of editorial mandate, which is so obvious as almost to be a character in the narrative. (I don’t blame the issue authors; though I may have alienated Ewing by “spoiling” Fight Club for him on Twitter, you were right in pointing out how he is skilled enough and seems to give enough of damn to turn out the only good — beyond good, heartbreaking — things connected to Age of Ultron.)

    Agree here with Graeme that I didn’t see anything particularly San Francisco in the Iron Man… I want to say, variant? Fork? Living here, the reality of douchebro tech triumphalists and the VCs who are their casino bosses is far more perverse yet banal; a straight-up asshole who rubs his hands in glee would be a refreshing change.

    And Sam Wilson becoming, what, Rush Limbaugh, is particularly ill timed what with Ferguson. I know that can’t be the editors’ fault, given lead times, but still. Is this supposed to be a commentary on what America as a gestalt has become? Didn’t we go through that (and better) with Englehart, and the 50’s Cap? I don’t see any intentionality of that so far, which is in weird tension with the “even an African-American kid can grow up to be Captain America” moment.

    Yes, what’s the point, aside to make a change that will be reverted? There’s no subtext. (That could be said of almost all major comics “events”, but hey, at least they trotted out “everything will change” for even Age of Ultron.)

    The other thing, the one you didn’t talk about: are you going to be discussing Daredevil #10? I have really strong feels about the treatment of depression in this issue. The second page says all the right things, to the point where my goddamn body was reacting — but this being a superhero comic, all it takes is hitting the lowest point aaaand action. (I’m aware this is cast as a bluff, but I can talk about this being more undermining the good intentions at length.) If only we all had a critical moment where one thing was clear to do; this is what Walker Percy, talking more about existential dread, has in mind when he makes the point that it’s easier to act when faced with a baby in hurricane as opposed to just you on a lazy Wednesday afternoon. One the most insidious features of depression (and others are well stated on page 2) is that there can be no such thing. The depression chapter of “Hyperbole and a Half” is one of the best things I’ve read on this in a long time And, in a way, this makes this Daredevil issue an act of “depression face”, the way the awful Big Bang Theory is nerdface. And I wanted to root for it.

  12. Here’s to hoping a Doctor Druid centric episode is in our future.