This is a placeholder for your sticky navigation bar. It should not be visible.
December 20, 2015
Wait, What? Ep. 191: The Best of the (Bed)Rest!
Nimona by Stevenson
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.
And should you need that link for cutting and pasting purposes:
Useless to Jeff, but curious Whatnauts may be interested to know that Night Nurse is up on Marvel Unlimited as of today, a minor Christmas miracle. I’ve only read the first issue but man was it weird little number.
I’ll definitely be checking out some of these “best of 2015” books. I know that it wasn’t on this year’s list, but I followed Graeme’s recommendation and am thoroughly enjoying Al Ewing’s “Loki, Agent of Asgard” on MU. Thanks for another entertaining year of Wait, What! I definitely got my money’s worth.
Merry Christmas Gentlemen!
I was listening to the Into It podcast Archie episode, and Sims was saying that the Archie horror line is on hold because Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is writing the pilot for RIVERDALE, a CW take on Archie, which sounds bonkers.
Lots of food for thought and best of 2015 choices that I’ve either sampled or wanted to check out that sounded intriguing.
But I wanted to talk about Graeme’s inclusion of Zero and his thoughts on whether the ending really worked. This became one of my favorite series from the get-go and that huge swerve at the end left me in the same place of both blowing my mind and unsure if it really worked. I’m curious if the sales, which were not particularly great to begin with and fell throughout the course of the run, had anything to do with it. It jumped around in time, slowly revealing details, with a huge reveal in #5 or the end of the first collection, that hinted at a much larger story than could be dealt with in 14 or 15 issues. This pattern continued through the next collection, singular stories focused on a particular aspect, and then it went into overdrive, revealed all and went metafictional at the end. Certainly there were Beat references throughout (Ginsberg Zero, anyone?) but I’m really curious if the ending went originally as planned, or if sales warranted a quick “Wizard of Oz” wrap-up. Or it could be I overthought this because I really would have enjoyed more Zero.
Nimona is a good choice – lovely art and a self-contained story that packed an emotional punch. Read the first issue of Giant Days and it was not really my cup of tea, but Squirrel Girl and the Parker/Shaner Shazam were both delightful.
Omega Men was also excellent – in some ways doing a more sci-fi take on the material Kot was dealing with in Zero. For the first 10 issues or so, Zero was my top-of-the-pile, read-it-first favorite book, but I think Kot went straight up his metaphorical ass with the end and with Surface, which I found intolerable and dropped. Material was interesting and engaging, but lacked a sufficient narrative drive.
On the other stuff, TvG was amazing and Scioli is a god – a New God. Multiversity and WicDiv were very up and down. Morrison’s other stuff – Annihilator (see Kot re metaphorical ass, dropping), Nameless (very pretty/ugly Burnham art). Monstress has tons of potential but Unfollow isn’t grabbing me despite sharing a name with the protagonist.
Some other stuff from this year that was thoroughly enjoyable – Head Lopper, Copperhead, Remender’s Deadly Class (works so much better than his other stuff, which is pretty but …), Brandon Graham’s Island and the 8House books, the new Lose, Prez (shockingly good), as well as Kaijumax, Revenger, Batgirl, Grayson, Simonson’s Ragnarok.
Thanks for the mention…. in the blog.