TT Debut

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 Omnibus 1, 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.

TT Nightwing

(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.)

TT splash
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.

TT WhoIs1:09:46-1:23:59: 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.
HSD gpoy
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.
HSD hook
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 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:

Anyway, look for us on  Stitcher!Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr!  And, of course, where, as of this count, 115 patrons make this whole thing possible!
Next week:  episode 13 of Baxter Building!  Read up on issues #103-112 of the Fantastic Four and join us for your monthly dose of semi-historical comic analyses.  We’ll see you then!

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20 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 192: Ring In, Black Out

  1. Jeff Lester Jan 11, 2016

    And for your cutting and pasting needs:


  2. LAndrew Jan 11, 2016

    Can’t wait to listen to this in light of Graeme’s write-up of NTT.

    • David Kilroy Jan 12, 2016

      Personally I’m teething for a Baxter Building-style readthru of the Levitz Legion. Nah guh nuh happen, though.

      • LAndrew Jan 12, 2016

        That would be all sorts of awesome.

        • Given how regularly I re-read those issues, I’d be ridiculously down for that. But Baxter Building is likely to go for another couple years at the very least, so… don’t hold your breath…? (Also, I don’t know if Jeff has EVER read those comics…?)

          • David Kilroy Jan 13, 2016

            If Wait, What #170 is any indication, the character names alone would make Jeff’s head asplode, Scanners-style. Then again, tropes such as the ubiquitous single-tear-panel-of-heartbreak would probably give him unimaginable joy. Someone should compile a clipfile of every character who gets one. Not me, though. That’s seven years’ worth of scanning! I believe the only two characters who *don’t* shed the Single Tear are Tellus & Quisling…

  3. Jeff is right in saying that Cypher has the perfect powers for the modern day, but those powers would lead to him becoming a villain.
    Assuming that his computer talking powers let him bypass computer security systems would give him access to every person in the first worlds bank information, all emails, phone, text and browsing history. And that’s before you get to classified government and military documents. After that he can enter any building that uses security cards, and erase video surveillance. Once you have all that it’s hard to take it in any heroic direction.

    Sherlock did an episode with a villain who had blackmail material on basically everyone, which is similar idea. it’s worth checking out.

    • “Assuming that his computer talking powers let him bypass computer security systems would give him access to every person in the first worlds bank information, all emails, phone, text and browsing history. And that’s before you get to classified government and military documents. After that he can enter any building that uses security cards, and erase video surveillance.”

      Alternatively, he’d make the perfect spy for the 21st century. Give him a couple of government handlers (let’s say one macho guy and an incredibly beautiful blonde woman) and you have the tv series Chuck.

  4. daustin Jan 12, 2016

    By the way, Jeff, on your continued recommendations on the podcast I finally read all of The Humans when it went on sale on Comixology. Pretty gnarly, mindbending stuff, but quite fun, mining a similar vein as Sons of Anarchy (but without the tedious, grim pretention that set in after the generally excellent second season) and the old AIP biker flicks. Definitely not for everyone, but much more in the true grindhouse spirit than, for example, De Campi’s uneven Grindhouse series. Be interesting to see where those guys go next.

    And I’ve now read the first three episodes of Platinum End, which is shaping up somewhat interestingly, though I still can’t get enough of a handle on the protagonist to care particularly what happens to him. The hook is good, but the characters need a LOT of work.

    • Jeff Lester Jan 14, 2016

      I’m really glad to hear this, d! Like you said, very much in the classic grindhouse spirit.

      And I may write something up about Platinum End soon: the hook is tremendous but there’s something a bit…off about the book. It probably is the characters but…hmm, I’m hoping that next installment really clarifies the unease I’m feeling about it…

  5. gary a Jan 12, 2016

    The introduction of Changeling, Starfire, Raven, and Cyborg was specifically Marv Wolfman setting up story points. With Stafire, they could go into space and do Star Wars stuff with Omega Men. She also was an “extreme version” of Wonder Girl (i.e. the passionate warrior side). With Raven, they could do supernatural stuff (which was something Marv Wolfman and Perez wanted to do coming off of his Marvel Work). She was also the other extreme of Wonder Girl (the mystical and mythological side). With Cyborg, they could do both inner-city crime and technology crime capers. He is also an extreme version of Robin (i.e. the passionate, angry side of Robin). With Changeling, they could do deep-dives into DC Universe with the Doom Patrol. He is also the other extreme of Robin (i.e. the quippy, boy-wonder).

    Wolfman sort of centered these characters by placing extremes around them, making Robin and Wonder Girl more interesting just based on the contrasts. That’s why Kid Flash never worked. I guess his “extremes” would’ve been Speedy (the character who suffered the most by being a kid with training/powers) and Magneta (the wishy-washy girlfriend who doesn’t want to be a hero even though she is given powers). Kid Flash never worked with this mix.

    I don’t think they ever got this magic back. The closest was Johns’ Pre-Infinite Crisis Titans that focused on Cyborg, Starfire, Changeling, being the intermediaries between Superboy, Raven, Robin, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl. They almost had the mix just right. Then Infinite Crisis happened and suddenly you had Robin, Wonder Girl, and Cyborg being the new balance points between a whole host of different characters…

    Lobdell is really trying to get that initial magic back by having a mix of new and old characters, but he’s just not good at mixing it up as well as Marv Wolfman because all of the characters are different than what we are used to.
    – Gary Ancheta

  6. LAndrew Jan 12, 2016

    Great podcast, and I liked the NTT in review thing (That 3rd Omnibus is a beautiful disaster, with 1/2 of a crossover with BATMAN and all) but I was curious that you guys didn’t talk more about the Baxter split, either here or in the Legion podcast,

    Because I feel like making NTT and LEGION into direct-only titles (because the notion that the newsstand issues were going to endure long enough to start reprinting stuff extensively was just not feasbile, ever) really “boxed in” both books in a sense, and ensured they were aimed and presented to already die-hard fans, so there was no incentive for the respective creative teams to really push outside of their previous successes.

    I also find it interesting that Fabian Nicieza in NEW WARRIORS nicks NTT’s initial formula of a few cast-off characters coupled with some new blank-slate characters that he can spin stories off from indefinitely while he builds the books own internal engine. Funny how that always seems to work,

    • I agree that the Baxter relaunches of the books paved the way for their demises in several ways. It’s also really interesting to me that both books lost their superstar artists as soon as they relaunched – Perez was gone by Baxter Titans #6 and Giffen stopped drawing Legion with Baxter #2.

  7. Rob G Jan 12, 2016

    Never apologize for discussing non-comic book thingys. Graeme’s icy adventure and Jeff’s stint as a hotel phone operator (after hearing that, all I could think about was that damn Jim Croce song), had me in stitches. Also appreciated was Graeme’s too brief review of the Elvis Costello autobiography. I recently read “Petty,” Warren Zanes’ Tom Petty biography, which I highly recommend, btw. It’s quite revealing, warts and all (child abuse, disputes with band members, heroin addiction, etc.), but ending in redemption, of course. I suddenly had the urge to listen to some Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and proceeded to drop serious coin on some of their music. I had forgotten how many great songs and hits Petty wrote throughout his long career.
    Oh yeah, comic books….

  8. supergodmasterforce Jan 13, 2016


    I could not agree with you more on Claremont.

    I don’t think he limited himself to appropriating the characters he found cool, I think he also did it with artists , he not only got hold of Longshot, he got Art Adams too !

    He dragged characters and previous story lines over into Uncanny all the time , Ms.Marvel hung around for a while, Captain Britain, he finished off his Marvel Team-up Kulan Gath story. It’s kind of amazing that Iron Fist didn’t make an appearance.

    In and of itself, not a bad thing for a writer to do, I just felt Graeme wasn’t convinced when there are so many instances of Claremont having enough ‘pull’ to get whatever he wanted back when Uncanny was the best selling book.

  9. David Jan 13, 2016

    Do you think that the apparent stalling of New Teen Titans after Judas Contract was because of the way the Baxter book was released? The Baxter NTT (New Teen Titans Vol 2) started directly after Judas Contract finished with a jump forward, and the retitled Tales of the Teen Titans (New Teen Titans volume 1) which was published in parallel was left with 15 issues to fill in the gap, just working towards what we had already seen. this could make it difficult to maintain story momentum.

  10. Brendan Jan 14, 2016

    You guys nailed some things down about the difficulty of continuity in shared universes, and the disparity between history and memory when it comes to comics. For example, I think comics history will not forget that the New 52 sucked, generally speaking, but it might forget why it sucked. Unfortunately I can see the same mistakes being made again.

    Nice ‘sode.

    • Thanks for a hugely enjoyable episode, though I’m all worried about Graeme. As Jeff says, get got the doctors next time. And maybe get a check-up for an undiagnosed heart defect …. the way you describe the two accidents it sounds like a chicken and egg thing – did you slip on the ice/crash the bike and then black out, or vice versa? Because all things being equal, you should remember what happened BEFORE the thing that caused the blackout if it wasn’t the blackout that caused the accidents.

      (Who says this isn’t the Martin Age of Alarmist Conjecture?)

      I’d love to hear what you two reckoned to Claremont’s brief stint at DC on Sovereign 7.

      Graeme, I am intrigued, tell us more about how Tom Grummett is, what was the term, problematic? He’s an artist I like but never hear discussed, so whatever you have to say, it’d be a treat.

      Dick was said to be at the heart of DC’s superhero community as far back as Infinite Crisis, by Batman. Everybody LURVES him.

      I’m enjoying Titans Hunt too. Have you seen the rumours that Speedy is actually Wally? Possible hints being his really fast reflexes, Gnaark’s ‘speedy’ remarks, odd other bits of script hinting at Wally, such as Mal’s narration in #1 (‘Camera FLASHES. Like a lightning storm.’ The emphasis on ‘flashes’ is the comic’s). I’m not endorsing it, but the theory is fascinating to me.

  11. Colin Jan 16, 2016

    I basically just want to hear you guys talk about Claremont all the time.

  12. Matthew Jan 17, 2016

    This was one of my favorite ‘wait, what?’ eps in a while. Great stuff, and great comments too.