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May 29, 2016
Wait, What? Ep. 201: Blues, Qs.
0:00-05:25: Greetings! Graeme and I are still recovering from our version of Civil War—the DC Rebirth #1 roundtable from just a few days back. Fortunately, Graeme knows just what it takes to heal the wounds of battle: a story about his friendly nieghborhood Chatty Cat! (Chatty Cat No. 2, no less!)
05:25-12:51: From Chatty Cat No. 2, to comics we’ve read this week. Jeff has not read much—although he quite liked Revenger and the Fog #2—and Graeme has read a lot, but some of it is still under embargo (for those of you that are wondering, no, Graeme did not go on to tell Jeff about the books off-air). So instead we kinda bitch a bit about the difficulty of keeping track of what you’ve read on Marvel Unlimited and Comixology. Discussed: what percentage of Graeme’s Comixology In Progress list is for work; Jack Katz’s First Kingdom; and spending hours in school drawing barbarian arms.
12:51-30:03: Speaking of squandering precious time, Jeff has been playing Marvel Future’s Fight on his iPad, but before he can get to the point of something he finds quite sad, we have to get through a brief history of RPGs, Diablo, and free to play games. Discussed: who the hell is Singularity; all of the above, plus the absence of The Fantastic Four and The X-Men; and Graeme having read Contest of Champions and loving it but being art-blocked on New Avengers; all those teams featuring Johnny Storm; and a moment of lovely humanity, courtesy of Gene Yang.
Cap sketch by Cameron Stewart, modified slightly on Twitter.
30:03-48:00: We have listener questions! And we do want to answer them, we assure you, but Jeff also kinda wants to talk about Hydra Cap, the big reveal that somehow managed to outshine—or at least consume as much internet chatter—DC’s big reveal in DC Rebirth #1. Discussed: Old school Hydra; The MCU’s Hydra and people’s conception of the Marvel characters; Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run; what will happen to Alan Scott in post-Rebirth; and more.
48:00-49:40: “Graeme, are we ever going to get to listener’s questions?” asks Jeff. Fortunately, we are! Thomas Williams asks: “I’ve always wanted to know what Graeme thought of the last page ending of Archer and Armstrong. I thought it’s one of the best last pages of a series.”
49:40-59:55:Ahmed Bhuiyan says: “You guys have come a long way, I remember back in the day when the first half hour of each episode seemed to be you guys comparing juice fasts/cleanses. I kind of miss those to be honest. Anyways, on to questions! Answer as many or as few as you like of course.
1. Is the concept of a shared universe hurting or helping comics these days?
2. What work of Jack Kirby wouldn’t you recommend? (Thanks to you all and the Baxter Building segments I have been trolling eBay for the Fourth World Omnibii…only volume 2 left!)
3. Why are you two so awesome? Seriously, funny, insightful, and pretty relatable, despite how pretty hardcore do you analyze the story/creator, love it!
Keep up the great work guys, stay well, and tell Graeme to relax more and send Jeff some waffles, we haven’t had a Waffle Window update in ages it feels!”
59:55-1:13:31:Adam Knave throws us this hypothetical: “You need to put people on the dc rebirth books. You can’t change the titles themselves, only creative teams. What are a few of your choices? (Besides giving me Super Sons, obviously…)”
1:13:31-1:23:59: Gary Katselas (LeonK) asks : “Gentlemen, it seems I’m one of the few people who enjoyed ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Batman Vs Superman’ more than Marvel’s many film offerings, including the recently released ‘Civil War’ which has garnered widespread acclaim among mainstream critical circles. This irks me slightly because I am most assuredly a Marvel fanboy and I find their conservative production approach too constrictive to produce interesting results. I much prefer the operatic pretensions of ‘Batman vs Superman’ and the troubling uncertainty that was injected into the Superman mythos in ‘Man of Steel’ (as well as numerous moments of sheer filmmaking insanity). Which brings me to my question: having read very little in the way of DC comics, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on what comic series or storylines (Superman, Batman or otherwise) most closely match these films in tone and thematic concern?”
1:23:59-1:29:21: Devin King asks: “My question: Why is Watchmen a bad movie? I know its reputation but can’t find any critical responses to it. I know the common reaction was that it tries too hard to emulate the book but…isn’t that supposed to be a good thing?”
1:29:21-1:34:35: Check this out from Heath Edwards: “Hey fellas, super huge congratulations on getting the 200th episode! If I may suggest a topic for discussion:
mutants = minority groups
Inhumans = generation hashtag
How do the different methods of the mutants /inhumans getting their powers inform today’s readers of their own methods of empowerment?
Mutants gain their powers genetically (internal), whereas the inhumans gain their powers from the terrigen mists (external).
The mutants have no choice in their empowerment: “I was born this way” Though, I can’t remember if there hasn’t been a story about subconscious choice being a part of the empowerment of the inhumans: “I am shy, I shall be a window” type thing
How, if at all, do these ideas play into contemporary empowerment?”
1:34:35-1:42:09: Hey it’s Gar Berner! And he asks: “I just wanted to wish you two continued success on the podcast and your other endeavors and that I’m looking forward to the next 200!
My probably late question is:
Which Legionnnaire (from the Legion of Super Heroes, not the French army) do you most identify with?
The lack of Legion support by DC Comics is sad. Granted, it’s a concept a bit past it’s prime as you both mentioned. There is some angle or 2016 twist that needs to be unlocked for the LSH to be the success that it should.”
1:42:09-2:01:01: Here comes Levi Tompkins, you guys! Levi has four big questions for us:
“Q1 You guys have talked a lot about some of the weirdness that guys like Englehart, Claremont, and even Shooter have brought to comics do to their own particular sexual ideals and hangups. Do you think that modern big 2 comics has divorced itself from that sort of thing, and if so do you think its better off for it?
(As someone who has been rather warped by things read in Claremont comics and other places as a kid its one of those things I think about a lot)
Q2 What would Modern Marvel events be like under people like Englehart or Kirby. What would a Kirby Event look like?
Q3 With the Gotham Academy Lumberjanes crossover coming, any other non big two books you think it would be interesting to have crossover with the Marvel or DC?
Q4 Who are your favorite new Big 2 characters. I find myself really adoring some of the newer X-characters, or Gotham Academy kids, any people from the last 10 years you adore and think could last?”
2:01:01-2:01:55: Maybe not a question per se, but Bruce Baugh has a beautiful white-hot burn:
“What we need is a little Wait What app that would grab from a list of Jeff’s favorite favorite nouns, with audio of him saying them, and drop into sentences of the podcast as needed. So when Jeff says “It’s not just Kirby, though, so much as, well, his approach to, but not fully until the DC, yeah no, it also appears, or least I think it’s suggested in some of the coloring for, hmm, yes, him and also some of the others who were in…”, We’d get “”It’s not just Kirby, though, so much as, well, his approach to [recontextualization], but not fully until the DC [collection], yeah no, it also appears, or least I think it’s suggested in some of the coloring for [Don Heck], hmm, yes, him and also some of the others who were in [editorial]…”
2:01:55-2:06:29: And here’s the matching “question” from long-time chum of the podcast Robert Grzech:
“In light of the critical failure of BvS and Graeme’s on-air lukewarm reception and off-air distaste for the latest Captain America movie, I’m truly curious as to what your opinions are as to what exactly makes for a good comic book movie?
What are your expectations? Graeme doesn’t like Marvel in general so he’s not exactly the audience for Marvel movies. This makes me wonder why Graeme even went to Captain America, especially if he knew what he was going to get and went into it with what sounds like a predisposition to hating the movie. And if Graeme didn’t like Captain America, what exactly would he have done differently? What would have made the movie work for him? I thought the movie was far better than the comic book version of Civil War. I realize this is all subjective, but Graeme’s shock (shock, I say!) that any reasonable person would like Captain America was frankly insulting. All he had to say was he didn’t like it because he’s Graeme.
I paid $5.95 to watch Captain America at a Saturday matinee. $5.95 for a 2 hour movie! I was highly entertained. I’ve bought floppies for almost that much, which I’ve read in 10 minutes before throwing them into the garbage can. And no, it’s not 2 hours out of my life. I don’t want those 2 hours back or I wouldn’t have gone in the first place. I look at these movies as comic books brought to life, and Marvel does a decent job of staying true to the characters. If the characterizations are to be criticized because they seem stilted or cartoonish or underdeveloped, that’s because these are comic book characters!
If they had made these movies back when we were kids, we would have gone crazy. Yeah, I know, the technology would have sucked and the early Captain America movie was an obvious example of that. These movies are comic books brought to life. That’s how I look at them. Some are harder to watch than others (Fantastic Four and Green Lantern, I’m looking at you), but generally they have met and at times, exceeded my expectations. I’m not looking for The Godfather or Annie Hall here. Just entertainment for a few dollars.
Why so serious?
Relax and enjoy them or stay home.”
2:06:29-2:22:22: Chad Nevett, here is your question! (Also, I apologize for being an absolute idiot!): “I just finished your 200th episode and have a question for episode 201: I don’t remember either of you ever saying much about John Constantine or Hellblazer (maybe you did and I forgot or didn’t hear it, because I rarely listen — not because I don’t enjoy the podcast, purely because wife, kid, job, sleep, and everything else gets in the way), but what are your thoughts on the character/comics?”
2:22:22-end: Closing Comments! You can tell Jeff is tired when you hear him go straight to the closing without the comments! Look for us on Stitcher!Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! Matt! Tumblr, and our special thanks to the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios for their continuing support of this podcast, as well as our continuing special thanks to the Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy…and to our125 supporters on Patreon who make all this possible.
NEXT WEEK: is a skip week! Let your ears rest and recover, and then join us for Wait, What? Ep. 202!
And if you’re the swinging type who digs the dirty down-low thrills of cut & paste action:
I always thought, tonally, that Supergirl Saga from Byrne’s run fits well tonally with Man of Steel. Also, the Superman/Batman story arc where the Legion of Supervillans adopt Superman and Batman fit well with the whole sturm and drag of Superman vs Batman.
I realize this may sound dumb – and may be dumb – but possibly J. Michael Straczynski’s Superman stories would provide a satisfying scratch for the “more like BvS” itch? The details are substantially different, but JMS always brings the operatic bombast, whether things feel to me like they work or not.
Also, I think a fair chunk of Dreadstar is available in print and/or digitally, and vintage Jim Starlin is right up there with the emotional volume turned up to 11, or 15, or a number that cannot be readily expressed in human terms.
If that person would like to read some well done Watchmen movie crit I got two examples.
and Plok’s here
Joe McCulloch credits John Workman with colouring Watchmen, when it’s the work of John Higgins.
It’s pretty much the polar opposite of BvS thematically (being an odd deep-cut Silver Age homage), but I think the SUPERMAN: PHANTOM ZONE story by Gerber/Colan/Veitch has a fair bit of the “urine-colored jars/what the hell is happening?” madness.
That is totally the book that came to my mind as I was (finally) walking around and listening to this fine episode. (I write lots of comments in my brain as I’m strolling, driving, at the gym, whatever …)
That book did an almost Claremontian number on my 13-year-old brain, and I recently re-enjoyed it in trade …
Re: Watchmen movie
Funnily enough I recently watched the Watchmen movie, couldnt make it all the way through even though I was cleaning the house while it was on.
If you’ve ever wondered how someone could read Watchmen and think ‘yeah, superheroes should be dark and violent and fucked up and real and that would be awesome’ then you should watch the Watchmen movie. It is exactly Watchmen as retold by someone who didnt really get it. (Except for the first music section oddly enough)
Re: Jeff talks about video games
I tweeted about this, but I would still love to hear more of Jeff trying to understand video games and explain them to Graeme. Its cute.
I’d go with Final Crisis. Morrison’s influence on BvS was really under remarked upon. FC might have entirely different aims but the fragmented density and nihilistic psychedelia of the piece would make it a good companion to Snyders outsider blockbuster.
Kirby one wouldn’t recommend: The first year or so of Thor in Journey into Mystery. It took a while before Kirby figured out how to make the series work. Once it clicked, it really clicked but most of what’s in Essential Thor v1 is lesser Kirby.
Comics for people who liked BvS: Superman/ Batman 1-6 by Jeph Loeb & Ed McGuiness. It’s not as dark, but it sure is bonkers. Superman & Batman are fighting the government, who enlist several superheroes to capture them. Lex Luthor goes back to blatant villainy. I could see the story striking a chord with the BvS audience.
I like the way Jeff read my question-cum-diatribe so as to make me sound like Andy Rooney. Bravo! I had it coming and I’ve been soundly spanked!
Of course Graeme is right, there’s no excuse for poor characterization no matter the form of media involved. My bad.
P.s. I hate to say this, but Chatty Cat has now moved to the top of my celebrity dead pool list.
“Starlin doubles down” is now my second favorite Starlin related quote uttered on this podcast after Jeff imaging Starlin saying “Well, the Bible is great and all, but it’s no Michael Moorcock.” (If anybody knows what episode that was from please let me know.) I think that quote is what ultimately led me down the path of reading Moorcock, which is a sinkhole I have not yet climbed back out of.
By the way, isn’t Miracle Man just THE ANSWER for anybody who is looking for something like Man of Steel or Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. (I loved Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice )
My memories (which may be faulty) from watching the film ‘Watchmen’ once, when it came out, tell me it demonstrates Synder likes pictures but fails to understand their narrative purpose. ‘Watchmen’ is a violent comic, but Moore and Gibbons use a restraint which makes it almost believable a highly trained human could do these things. Snyder makes everyone superhuman, able to punch through walls, not break ankles after heavy falls, etc. Which you could argue is a choice, but he goes on to give us Adrian catching the bullet. Because of the restraint in the comic this was amazing, he does something actually ‘superhuman’. In the film, of course he catches a bullet, couldn’t any of these people do it? Similarly, when Laurie sets the Owl Cave on fire, when she’s looking for a cigarette lighter in the comic, I felt sympathy for her and her mistake. In the film, where she doesn’t smoke, she’s just randomly pressing buttons on a flight deck, Snyder makes her an idiot. He likes the pictures, but doesn’t appear to know what they mean.
The single thing that failed most for me in Watchmen, right in line with your comment, was how awesome the superheroes looked, Dan and Laurie especially. Not middle-aged, not out of shape, not ridiculous or conflicted. Just bad-ass. Snyder managed to show he didn’t understand the book in pretty much any still frame that had people in costume.
Oh, and while it’s also not DC, I feel like parts of Earth X and Universe X are not hugely dissimilar from the general feel of Man of Steel and Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice.
re Legion Five Years Later
Not sure it’s a fair assessment to say Giffen never ended the book, it just self-destructed. Giffen’s major narrative gets bogged down a bit and meanders in the middle of his run, but he definitely comes back strong to close it out with the last 10 issues or so that very much close out the Dominator War/Earthgov plot arc, along with a lot of character threads, in issues 38-39. The next 10 issues or so are a decent continuation by the Bierbaums with some really nice early Stuart Immonen art and a soft ending to the Bierbaums tenure in issue 50, but you can really take 38-39 as a solid end point if you like. Everything starting with issue 51 is either filler or awful, so under no circs read past 50.
Few things in your podcast have surprised me as much as your lukewarm feelings about Simon and Kirby Kirby. I’d love to hear more. As I’ve got older I’ve enjoyed these stories more and more. The sinewy beauty of Stuntman pages, the lovely bit at the end of ‘The Isle Where Women Rule’ where the Boy Explorers believe they’ve escaped on their own merit, but the reader knows it’s because the women have shown mercy, the weirdness of ‘Strange World of Your Dreams’ and, well probably no one needs a list. Seriously, I’d love to hear more detailed thoughts on this work.
I will say that stories like ‘Mercury in the 20th Century’, which is pre-Simon Kirby opens a fascinating possibility where he worked solo for his whole career. Zeus sends his son, Mercury to fight his cousin, Pluto, who’s disguised himself as Henderson, the dictator of Prussland, which is waging a world war. So that’s a pantheon of super-powered gods, with family tensions, whose rivalries have devastating effects on humanity. Would I have liked more? As Mercury himself says ‘ It’s in the bag, All Wisest!’
This is a lovely comment, David. I’m going to give it some thought and see if I can figure a response half as articulate. Thank you.
Re: the lack of X-Men and FF in Marvel’s free to play games. I went/am stiill in a phase where I obsessively tried each of them once, and, FWIW, it tends to vary from game to game. As Jeff says, there’s neither mutant nor Fanastic cosmic irradiated beings in Future Fight, and the same holds true for Avengers Alliance II (like Future Fight, but turn-based), and Marvel Avengers Academy (which is an idle game where all the Avengers are high school students, and that one delves deep enough into the back catalogue to have A-Bomb as an unlock).
On the other hand, Marvel Contest of Champions (free to play fighting game) does have X-Men characters, and Marvel Puzzle Quest (free to play match 3 game) has X-Men and all the Fantastic Four (PQ even has Howard the Duck as playable). They even have more recent mutant characters, like Laura as Wolverine and Old Man Logan. Speculating wildly, maybe it’s a different set of character licenses; maybe the titles that are formally Avengers aren’t allowed to stray into the X-side of things; maybe it’s that CoC and PQ are the only games that were released prior to 2015, and the standard policy has changed since then.
This is a hugely informative post, PoC, thank you! I think I deleted PQ not longer after it started but the idea of Howard as playable kind of makes me think I should screw up my life more and re-download it.
Uh, how is Avengers Academy? I kind of like the fanfic angle of the Avengers as high school students, but are there like fights or is it…a dating sim? Or..? I guess I should just google it and read a review, I guess.
The quest line introducing Howard is probably the best thing the game has ever done–he accepts a case from Spider-Man to find Aunt May , then stumbles into disrupting a HAMMER company picnic, wanders into a musical the Kingpin’s backing (he cut costs by staffing Guys and Dolls with his own mobsters), and interrupts a date between Doc Ock and Aunt May, which he interrupts just as May is giving Ock a “let’s be friends” speech. Text for the kingpin fight: “by casting actual gangsters in the gangster roles, Kingpin accidentally stumbled into avante garde theatre. Stop him before he discovers performance art!”
Avengers Academy is an idle game first and foremost, so the main action is choosing a task for a hero to do, waiting x hours for them to do it, and collecting the xp as a reward that lets you level up so you can unlock new tasks. The enjoyment comes largely from unlocking new heroes and seeing the conversations between them. There is a dating option, but a fatal bug stopped me from playing the gsm before I levelled up enough to use it.
Oh–I looked it up, and they had the actual series writer Chip Zdarsky do the writing for the quest–that explains the unusual jump in quality.
I was going to say–all of that sounded so much like Zdarsky, I was thinking they had to have gotten him to do it.
Thanks for the Howard update, PoC: that was hugely entertaining to read. I reinstalled Marvel Puzzle Quest a few days back and have slowly been re-playing through the opening levels and remembering how much I truly hate the leveling system in that game, and wondering if it was worth suffering through to get to the Howard quest. It seems far more tempting now. Thank you!