Wait, What?, Ep. 334—Is It Not A Miracle?

January 9, 2022

00:00-7:51: Greetings from the distant year 2022! You are catching Jeff and Graeme In Media Fuckery with it being the *third* time we have had to restart due to technical glitches but we are firing through it! So much so that instead of us commiserating about our rough week, you instead get Jeff’s impassioned New Year’s Resolution to, essentially, not open up the podcast each time complaining about his tough week! Yes, truly a treatise-hammering Martin Luther Jeff is.
7:51-20:37: Fortunately, Jeff is generous with a segue and so we can get to the truly important news: GRAEME McMILLAN HAS STARTED A NEWSLETTER! Not even a week old, two letters have already been sent out and there are more to come. Before I get to my traditional superfast summary of our discussion about it, please go to https://www.getrevue.co/profile/ComicsFYI and sign up if you’re so inclined. (Or even if you’re not inclined! You can drop it when Graeme starts asking for money, after all.) As for the superfast summary: I am excited Graeme is getting to write about comics news in-depth again; Graeme is excited Graeme is getting to write about comics news in-depth again; and if you know somebody who you tried to turn on to the podcast but they couldn’t hack it because they prefer to read instead of listen, let them know so they can get excited Graeme is getting to write about comics news in-depth again! As for our discussion here, what’s great is even without subscribing you can read the installment in question here and then hear us talk about Graeme’s process for the stories covered therein. Whattabargain!
20:37-40:30: One of the topics covered in the newsletter installment—the main topic if you go by wordcount, certainly—is Marvel once again seemingly making a go at making Miracleman *a thing*. Graeme, both understandably and probably foolhardily is curious how Jeff, an old school Original-Writer-and-Miracleman-man, feels about that? And if after reading that sentence, you thought to yourself: “Hmmm, I wonder if they’re gonna fight about Miracleman and Alan Moore?” well, you wouldn’t be 100% right but you’d be far from wrong as well! Listen as a guy-who-recently-read-Miracleman-and-doesn’t-much-like-Alan-Moore and a guy-who-does-like-Alan-Moore-but-has-not-read-the-material-in-a-very-long-time try to learn to live together in this heartwarming new sitcom, 8:30pm, Fridays on ABC!
40:30-1:07:07: Because Graeme has in fact revisited a lot of early (or earlier) Alan Moore recently (such as Moore’s Swamp Thing) and has developed more, as he puts it, generosity if not actual appreciation, Jeff is curious: what *are* the top five Alan Moore books, as far as Graeme is concerned? And in the course of talking about this, the duo uncover perhaps a wider philosophical chasm—is evincing a preference for a creator’s lesser works or the deep cuts of their back catalog kind of a dick way of ducking responsibility? (Also, I didn’t realize this until editing but although I do have, I think, a very good take on the frustrations of liking formalist creators and revisiting their works, I don’t actually provide Graeme with a list when asked? Hmmm.)
1:07:07-1:22:25: Moving away from Mr. Moore, we talk about the big chunks of books Graeme has been reading lately—the Marv Wolfman run on Teen Titans (with art by the mighty George Perez and Eduardo Barreto (and then George Perez again)); the Brand New Day era of Spider-Man, and the Nick Spencer-written run (skipping nimbly over the Dan Slott written run in-between); and the surprising pleasures found therein.
1:22:25-2:03:29: Jeff wants to talk about The Matrix Resurrections because he thought it would be a fast little topic to quickly blab about and move on and, uh, has he ever *listened* to his own podcast? It is kind of interesting as I think Graeme makes some excellent points—listening as I edit and I think his take of the Wachowskis as “technically excellent filmmakers with shitty taste” is both amusing and worthwhile—and I get 50% of the way there to a take on camp that I think is potentially quite good (I drop the ball by only talking about the first part of what I think defines camp and not the whole second part of it, the part that Sontag analyzes in her “Notes on Camp.” (And also I bumble the wall by using the term “breaking the fourth wall” at a crucial point in the conversation rather than continuing to use the original and more correct term “breaking the suspension of disbelief.”)
I also think, while hearing Graeme’s definition, if the British love and deeply held take on camp is, the queer love and deeply held take on camp, centered very heavily on the concept of knowledge of “passing” (either in a deeply classist or a deeply heterophilic/homophobic culture) such that camp does, as Graeme identifies it here, engages in the convention even while acknowledging its absurdity….which may explain why Jeff, a CIS hetero American, has a such a difficult time understanding or appreciating camp in a camp way, and rather has the explanation he engages with here which allows for a different in-road into the inclusive feeling of camp (and may also explain why he finds the camp Graeme talks about more exclusive than inclusive)? anyway, a lot of talk about camp, and also what the hell with the Matrix happened between movies as Jeff understands it and which Jeff trying to explain may well be, by Graeme’s definition, camp, possibly? Dunno.
2:03:29-end: Here is the part where we realize there are so many things we want to talk about—so many!—but we do not have world enough and time so we talk about what volume of Dredd: The Complete Case Files we are reading for next week’s Drokk (Vol. 31!), that website address again where you can sign up for Graeme’s newsletter (https://www.getrevue.co/profile/ComicsFYI!) and:look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and JeffTumblr, and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast.
NEXT WEEK:  When Dredd returns to Drokk!! Vol. 31 of the Complete Case Files next week. Join us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 comments on “Wait, What?, Ep. 334—Is It Not A Miracle?

  1. Jeff Lester Jan 9, 2022

    And if you want that link for reasons both known and unknown, seen and unseen:

  2. Gary Ancheta Jan 10, 2022

    RE: Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow.”

    One of the things I’ve noticed is that if you read Bob Rozakis “Superman: The Secret Years” and Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow”, it works out an interesting start and book-end to Superman Comics of 1985. Superman: The Secret Years tells the life of Superman during his stint in Metropolis University after his parents died but before he becomes Superman. All the self-doubt, all the feelings of inadequacy, all the notions of living a life “outside” of just saving others…that comes from Bob Rozakis’ Superman. Moore just seems to follow through with that in “Whatever happened…” as if the natural extension of those feelings in college just manifests itself 20 years later when he’s ready to retire. I think that if you read a lot of Superman during those “Crisis” times…Whatever Happened makes more sense in context.

  3. Garrie Burr Jan 11, 2022

    —Miracleman: I’m wondering if part of the problem with the earlier stories was that they were also being shoe-horned into a Dez Skinn attempt at a shared universe (Big Ben, the Warp Smiths, etc?) and Moore didn’t have the complete control he’d have by the time of the final volume. To me, the third book with Totleben was some of Moore’s best consistent work. At the time he saw it as a formalist challenge — in a Journal or Amazing Heroes article? — trying to successfully re-craft the Weisinger method of over-explaining captions into service of the story.

    I’m no longer really excited about the possibility of Gaiman and Buckingham finishing their story. If they do, they do, and it’s very possible our patience will be rewarded with quality like David Lynch’s return to Twin Peaks. OR it’ll be a let-down like The Hunger Dogs (or the Matrix?). It’s either a depressing thought or a bright light of “Hallelujah” but as I get older I’m coming to terms with the fact there’s a lot of stories (and real-life things) where I’ll never see the ending.

    Fun Fact: Got pointed to Moore and Marvelman originally by Wait What icon Steve Englehart who, in a Coyote letters column, touted Moore’s work in Warrior. I was able to then track down some issues of the magazine, had no idea where this British guy would go or that he’d soon be taking over Swamp Thing.

    —For the Man Who Has Everything: Isn’t its plot shell an old old trope? Like a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode? And in comics, for one: Cary Bates’ Flash 300 has Barry Allen waking up to discover he’d been thrown into a years-long coma after the accident with the lightning-bolted chemicals. His time as the Flash was all a dream. This came out in 1981.

    —Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow: I thought it was cool at the time, but when an older me got reinvested in the aspirational aspects of the character I realized how off was the ending, that Superman breaking his oath not to kill means the bad guys won in the end. (Also: any thoughts on the state of the Superman titles post-Bendis? I think Johnson and Taylor have been doing some pretty great work, so far!)

    —The Matrix: Since I hadn’t tried watching these in 20 years, sat down with the original three movies and the Animatrix before trying this new chapter. Very very surprisingly the 2nd and 3rd films were not nearly as bad as I remembered.

    I’d forgotten that mankind screwed things up to begin with and that the machines -tried- to play nice despite our animal natures — it resonated nicely (horribly) with what goes on in today’s world. I was also reminded of the controversy that the original film might have inspired the Columbine shooting, or the fear that the opening episode in the Animatrix might inspire teen suicides. Not to mention the more-recent use of the ‘red pill’ term.

    Although the latest Matrix was not better or equal to the first film, and I was left with similar questions to the ones you all were throwing around, it was still an entertaining What If. I liked the meta an awful lot, as it fed on nostalgia and getting old — not just in the storyline, but in my mind.

    Finally: Happy New Year to you and yours!

  4. A shame that Promethea did not make your lists of favorite Alan Moore works. I do not think it’s his absolute best, but it’s my favorite. Like Tom Strong or Swamp Thing, it’s a pleasure to revisit every so often, even just to read some middle chapters, rather than a full reread (which also rewards). Anyway. Lovely series.

    Enjoyed Graeme’s first newsletter and looking forward to more!

    • Jeff Lester Jan 11, 2022

      I wanted to include it because I *loved* it on first reading…but it’s also one of those I’ve never made it through again despite trying once or twice.

      Weirdly, I have a lot of fondness for LOEG: Tempest that makes me think (perhaps mistakenly) that I could and would enjoy a re-read.

  5. Shadavid Jan 12, 2022

    After listening to your discussion I dug out my somewhat raggy copy of Warrior #1 and refreshed myself on Marvelman and V for Vendetta. I remember being enormously excited by these, V for Vendetta more than Marvelman, but enjoying them both a lot. I know where I bought the comic, on the platform in Dundee railway station. There aren’t that many comics I can name where I bought them. I read them now and it’s hard to see why they hit so hard. Comics have changed so much, I suppose. I would argue that Marvelman is not simply a deconstruction of the superhero. One of the things I particularly enjoyed about this first episode and remember being knocked out by at the time, was Moore and Leach deliberately making bullets bouncing off a man and a man flying exciting. These things had become such dull cliches and many creators did not seem at all imaginatively engaged with them- ‘and then this happened’- no attempt at wonder. It may be you need to re-enchant the superhero to deconstruct them successfully, so the reader gives a damn. Really liked that Steve Moore/John Bolton Prester John, though.
    I’m not at all interested in what Marvel does now with Miracleman. If I never see the end of the Gaiman/Buckingham story I’ll be okay.

  6. First, I should say I really enjoyed the final episode of 2021. I think it’s to the credit of both of you that you usually give the other ample time to go off on a tangent that Jeff speaking solo for an hour didn’t feel odd at all. Chloe, however, really got me with her jokes, gags, and puns. I’ll take more of those in 2022! Didn’t comment in the show notes for that episode because I’m still working my way through them and making notes on the works I want to read. I like how you didn’t care about something coming out in ’21, only if you read it that year.

    And the first episode of 2022! It’s wouldn’t be a traditional start to Wait, What? if Graeme didn’t malign Alan Moore! To be fair, this might be the first time I’ve heard Graeme say anything that could be considered complementary toward Watchmen, so there’s that. I would definitely toss my hat in for From Hell being my favorite of Moore’s work, especially because of Eddie Campbell’s contributions. I haven’t read Promethea, Lost Girls, or Tom Strong, so I may not be speaking fairly. Props to Graeme, however, for bringing up D.R. and Quinch. I remember finding the collection in a rock-bottom sales bin, and when I saw Alan Davis and Alan Moore on the cover, I thought I had discovered the equivalent of a Rembrandt at a garage sale.

    I haven’t read much Miracleman, mainly because I was never able to get my hands on it back in the day, and now I really don’t care any longer. I could be talking out of my ass on this, but I feel Miracleman enjoys a cult status outsized to its actual quality, but in the context of its original publication its quality was unparalleled. Part of that is I think American comics readers are weak to non-Big Two comics from other countries. (Look at the reaction to some really trope-y and basic manga here just because it’s not about Spider-Man.) I think Americans, at least from my youthful perspective in the ’90s always envied the irreverence of British comics, like 2000 A.D., because they couldn’t really do anything even approaching that with mainstream comics. Also, Miracleman being one of the first “serious” superhero comics at that time might have contributed to its allure and subsequent mystique. I think, however, Moore eclipsed himself with Watchmen as the “serious take” on superheroes, and maybe that’s why Miracleman doesn’t seem as important. A quick and dirty comparison might be Frank Miller’s Batman ursupring Neal Adams and Denny O’Neil’s Batman as the one Dark Knight. Sure, people still mention it, but only after discussing Miller’s Batman and along, long pause. Miracleman feels a lot like that. Not only did it get replaced by another work by the same writer, other works inspired by or ripped off from Watchmen arguably were better at making an impression than Miracleman. (I’m thinking things like The Authority.)

    Haven’t seen Matrix 4 yet, but I suspect one reason 2 and 3 feel SO much of their time is because that aesthetic became ubiquitous and pervaded the zeitgeist at the time to the extent you felt like you were constantly watching those movies on a loop. Remember almost every cell phone commercial? Every mannequin in a clothing store? 2 and 3 coincided with the internet going big, and all the future cryptobros decided the aesthetic of the internet should be the Matrix 2 and 3.

    • Jake W Feb 15, 2022

      “Not only did it get replaced by another work by the same writer, other works inspired by or ripped off from Watchmen arguably were better at making an impression than Miracleman. (I’m thinking things like The Authority.)”

      Really? The Authority felt more like it was taking influence from Miracleman than Watchmen. On top of that, all three of the writers involved did originally read Moore’s Miracleman, even as far back when it was still called Marvelman. A young Warren Ellis wrote in to Warrior Magazine having praise for Moore’s Marvelman and V For Vendetta. Grant Morrison (who ghost-wrote at least an issue of Millar’s Authority) said they preferred Miracleman over Watchmen. And Mark Millar himself lists Miracleman as one of his favorite comics: