Wait, What? Ep. 338 — The Great Dorkness

March 6, 2022

00:00-13:04: Greetings!  After a rocky opening on Jeff’s part (and not by which we mean he goes the distance for the Champion of the World title), we are on to talking about the big cinematic news of the week, coyly alluded to our references to one another as “Pattinson” and “Wright.” Yes, of course, as you would expect of a comic book podcast during the week of a new Batman movie premiere, we are going to spend *a lot* of time talking….West Side Story! But only after Graeme tries to figure out when the last Batman movie was released and who was writing Superman at that time…(Have you ever considered we’re not really doing this whole comic book podcasting thing correctly? I hadn’t…but typing the sentence certainly gave me pause, I admit.) But anyway, there is a bit of The Batman talk (or, to use the comedy staple, what I’d call “The ‘The Batman‘ talk,” which now that I think of it maybe it’s just funnier to say “The Batman talk” as it sounds like that kind of euphemism for the talk you have when you tell kids where babies come from? (“Well, son, when a man and a woman love each other very much, they get gunned down after leaving a movie theater, leaving their only son behind, vowing to fight crime….”) and it’s spoiler-free. (Also, kind of blatantly uninformed, but eh, what can you do?)

13:04-25:44: Okay, but seriously…the remake of West Side Story! Graeme has seen it; Jeff will soon but has not yet; and we talk *a lot* about it as well as some Stephen Spielberg related stuff as one would expect. Also discussed: crying at movies, catharsis, and more.[
25:44-48:05: So here’s some comic book talk: Graeme was pretty surprised when Jeff mentioned being pretty depressed about digital comics this week in part due to…manga?! What? Find out the scoop here, True Believer! Discussed: Amazon and its lousy search and sort for comics on sale, Temple Grandin’s cattle, Conan (of course), MangaPlaza, Crunchyroll and Funimation, moving cookies around on a plate, Shonen Jump and MangaPlus, Azuki, Manga Planet, and more.
48:05-1:21:40: By contrast—and certainly not without its own frustrations (certainly for those outside the U.S. who have no access to it)—Graeme has had a fine ol’ time with DC Universe Infinite. It has personalized reading lists! And decades of Legion of Super-Heroes comics! So you can just imagine what Graeme has done with just those two things! (And if he figures out a way to export or get a link for the former, I’ll include it here!). So, yeah, buckle up and get ready for Graeme to walk you through LOSH and Legionaries in the 90s, but only after he walks Jeff through the storied history of its reboots, offshoots, and, uh……cahoots, or something? (Sorry, riffed my way into a corner on that one…)
1:21:40-1:41:48: Jeff wants to talk about the latest issue of The Nice House on the Lake by James Tynion IV and Álvaro Martínez Bueno (with exquisite coloring by Jordie Bellaire!) So if you haven’t read the first volume (issues #1-6) or the latest issue, there are SPOILERS here for both. A bit of back and forth with Graeme and Jeff as to where Jeff thinks things might be heading. BTW, at one point, Jeff gets frustrated at waving his hands in frustration trying to sum up “The Disney situation,” and this is what he was going on about.
1:41:48-1:51:40: According to Graeme, Jeff wasn’t so down with earlier issues of Nice House…. (which is not how Jeff remembers it) but true or not that’s a great segue for Jeff talking about Jason Aaron and Avengers Forever: Jeff *hated* issue #2, but enjoyed issue #3 that just came out. Graeme is, understandably, suspicious (especially after reading the recent run of King Conan to report on the recent controversy) and we talk about Jason Aaron and what his deal is, exactly?
1:51:40-2:00:27: Jeff running from strands from Aaron’s work to Scott Snyder’s work sparks Graeme into pulling attention over to Justice League Incarnate, Deathstroke, Inc., and the material Josh Williamson (with Dennis Culver) has been drawing connections between while shaping their big storyline. Multiversity? Saga of Swamp Thing #50? The Great Darkness Saga? Eclipso?! Sign me up!
2:00:27-2:06:59: And finally, *very* quickly (at least by Jeff standards), Jeff wants to talk about the kinda amazing shoutout to a Steve Ditko character that David Anthony Kraft and Mike Vosburg drop into issue #12 of The Savage She-Hulk. It’s really kind of a thing!
2:06:59-end:  Closing stuff!  Graeme’s newsletter (https://www.getrevue.co/profile/ComicsFYI!  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:  Time to bust some creeps! Read vol. 33 of Judge Dredd: the Complete Case Files, and join us next week for Drokk!!

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15 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 338 — The Great Dorkness

  1. Jeff Lester Mar 6, 2022

    Need instead to cut and paste? We’ve got you covered!


  2. Bruce Baugh Mar 6, 2022

    I wish I could send a note to myself right at the start of Abnett & Lanning’s run, saying “Stick with this. You’ll love where it goes.” But I know why I didn’t at the time. The first few issues of both Legion and Legion Lost lay out a very grim situation. And I’d been trained by a decade and a half or so of bold new directions of awfulness to expect that when a long-standing supers status quo gets awful, it will stay awful until the next reboot or whatever. Abnett and Lanning don’t do that, but I didn’t know their work then. They actually do set up grim situations that heroes get to improve. Over the first couple of years, they restore a lot of classic LSH heroic vibe, with the benefits of more actually adult storytelling.
    Some years later I did get to read their whole run, and did in fact Iove it. I raved about it on LiveJournal and ended up having a really nice exchange with Dan Abnett about it. He felt I’d gotten their intent, and agreed about the difficulty of telling readers up front about you plans for constructive change in a content full of people asserting such things who are kidding themselves and/or bullshitting the public. He was also tickled at just how much I liked their use of a classic DC villain who hadn’t interacted with the LSH before and fit perfectly. These days I quickly snaffle a lot of Abnett’s comics and Warhammer 40k fiction and get a reliably good time.

  3. Eddy Webb Mar 7, 2022

    I agree with Bruce — Dan Abnett is generally a really solid writer, and he’s someone that I seek out in 2000 AD, among other places. This episode has convinced me to go out and start reading Legion for the first time!

  4. Shadavid Mar 7, 2022

    I’d have considered Dawn of Justice and Justice League as Batman films, but I can either see your point, or understand blotting them out. Loved the new Westside Story! I was a little distracted by Rita Moreno (original Anita) as Valentina- how old is this person? I was staggered she’d have been 89 when this film was made. Inspiring. Would also like a clear shot of the comics in Valentina’s shop.
    I didn’t follow why Jeff was so disturbed by not knowing why he cried after the song in Dream Girls. However, I am a frequent crier. Happy, sad and just spontaneously for apparently no reason. I remember wrestling with tears when I was about twelve and reaching the conclusion that the only reason not to cry was to avoid social consequences and it was okay to do it by myself. Interestingly, given other conversation this episode, later in life, I’ve linked that decision to my bisexual identity and the whole your ideas/ rules don’t apply to me.
    As someone not in the US, as long as I can’t get DC Infinity, I’d quite like to know why. I’d also love to hear Jeff’s speculations on the subject and hope these involve DC’s shadowself.
    I’m not reading Aaron’s Avengers Forever, but the set-up for this epic sounds familiar. In his Thor run, the God-Slayer (Gorr?) was killing all the Gods in the universe one by one and getting stronger by doing it. The baddies in his Dr Strange run were killing all the magic users, dimension by dimension. Writing it down, I find myself thinking of the Fury from Captain Britain.

  5. I needed the sleep-deprived LOSH talk in my life. Well done lads.

  6. I loved all the Legion talk so very, very much. If you could even do a couple of years’ worth of Legion, any era – I’d suggest somwhere in the Levitz/Giffen/Lightle/Laroque run – after Drokk! that would be delightful.

    I’ve no plans to see the new Batman film, though I have been to cinemas in the pandemic, seating is still half capacity so it’s easy to avoid people.

    I enjoyed JLI Infinite until the (non-) end. I get that it’s a leading-up-to-the-Big-One mini, but the Rescue Barry storyline should at least have been completed.

    I tried the first episode of The Nice House on the Lake (I always expect that title to end with ‘Left’, for some reason) but wasn’t overly enamoured. That page up there is far too shouty and sweary for my delicate sensibility, and I can’t be bothered with folk who load all the blame for their not being ‘understood’ on the other person – if you’re presenting as one thing, don’t be angry at folk for believing you.

    I forgot to say, I enjoyed My Four Manga. I was sure the one mentioning Graeco-Roman gods had to be the fake, but maybe they were translated from original Manga-region gods.

  7. Nate A. Mar 9, 2022

    I too enjoyed the LOSH talk, as I recently finished the Five Years Later Omnibus Vol. 1, and was on the fence about the second volume. As someone coming to the Legion with very little background I appreciated the shambolic, pedal-to-the-metal character of Five Years Later, but I’d be lying if I said I understood more than than 50% of the plot. I did get a sense for the character dynamics, though. and by reading an issue a day it became a comforting ritual. Does this mean I will get volume two? I still don’t know. I wonder if the comparative coherence and structure will dampen my interest. As I get older, I’m less interested in reading “good” superhero comics and more interested in reading inadvertently weird and/or idiosyncratic and personal ones. That said, I like hearing you two talk about them.

  8. My love for 5YL Legion only grows with time, and I thought Graeme was a little unkind. I’ll admit that it’s a book you should bring some foreknowledge to. I’d read LSH sporadically since the late Grell days and then religiously from the start of the big Levitz run. Though that didn’t make me an old-timer by any standard in THAT fan community, it was enough to make each intricate, fascinating issue of this run a delight at the time. I’ll admit it ran a little off the rails later on, but in a way that ambitious and insane comics probably should or inevitably must. Certainly no more dire than late stretches of either your Avengers or FF readthroughs.

    The continuity rewrite in issue 3-or-4 was terrific, as a response to editorial fiat at least, and the rip-the-band-aid boldness of it still thrills me. Add me to the list voting for deeper dives into Legion continuity.

  9. Voord 99 Mar 10, 2022

    Martin Gray: there are quite a lot of manga with themes drawn from “Western” history and mythology, which inevitably includes ancient Greece and Rome. It’s not unlike US or British comics that include elements drawn from reading in Japanese culture. There’s sufficient interest in the ancient Mediterranean in Japan that there are Japanese universities with departments devoted to Greek and Roman studies — which is not really any different from there being academics who work on Japanese history and literature from the past in British universities.

    There will soon be available on Netflix an anime adaptation of the very popular and successful Thermae Romae, about an ancient Roman bathhouse architect who travels to modern Japan and brings back ideas for exciting new things to do with Roman baths.

  10. Thanks for the info, Voord 99.
    Nate A, I wouldn’t recommend the second Omnibus, it looks to be a huge hodgepodge of material, and the later LSH issues in there aren’t the best. If you’re craving great Legion work, start with the trade paperback of The Great Darkness Saga, and move onto The Curse, An Eye For an Eye and The More Things Change. If you’re in the US there’s apparently something called DC Infinite, they’re likely all on there and you can make one of those list things. That’s the Legion of Super-Heroes 284 and Baxter Legion of Super-Heroes (1984) 1-63 and four annuals.
    BPM, I’m with you, the work Giffen, the Bierbaums and co did on the 5YL issues 3 and 4 were pretty darn masterful.

  11. Matthew Mar 10, 2022

    Despite reading small pieces of various Legion series, I really can’t conceive of how popular it was. I mean, it had all those fanzines, two ongoing titles (for decades?) and spin-offs about individual characters. There was a Valor series that lasted 23 issues? I don’t even know who Valor is.

  12. Valor was the attempt to rename Mon-El without a Superboy connection.

    I encourage the hopefully-upcoming LSH read-through to start with the Silver Age material. How can we skip the Planetary Chance Machine?

  13. Martin Gray Mar 11, 2022

    I recommend skipping the Planetary Chance Machine, it can be very painful.
    But yeah, why not, the Adventure Comics stories are classics?

  14. The piss and vinegar Jeff brought to the digital discussion in this episode was what I was hoping for last time. I’m not big into schadenfreude, but Jeff’s customer service experience and the ensuing griping made for some great podcasting. I think in the digital age, we’ve all encountered services that are supposed to be better by dint of being digital, but offer something far worse to the point you wonder if no on actually cared or if there’s malicious intent behind it. I think it was cathartic to hear Jeff’s gripes in the larger of context of how all digital services start out by promising the hope of something better, and then degenerate into garbage. Can anyone name a digital service/experience that’s gotten better over time?

    So last week we got some Scott Snyder discussion, and now we got his acolyte James Tynion. Will you be discussing Snyder’s instructor, Stephen KIng, next episode? Jokes aside, I was never a fan of Tynion’s work back when he was paired with Snyder, and not being the biggest Snyder fan might have affected that. Seems he’s come into his own, by all accounts. Maybe I’ll pick up the first trade of this House on the Lake series and see if that’s more my speed than his DCU stuff, but I’m taking a skeptical stance by default.

    I can’t think of a group of characters I like more and know the least about than the LoSH. I read a bunch of Silver Age Legion as a kid (supermarket digest reprints) and always had a fondness for them, but never went far enough to follow up with things like Five Year Later, et al. I was hoping Bendis’ version would be the start of something new, but it was just those 12 issues and that was the end of it, right?

    From what I understand, Jim Shooter looms large in Legion fandom, but I don’t think Graeme has ever mentioned what he thinks about Shooter’s contribution. Would love to get that take!

  15. Nate A. Mar 12, 2022

    Thanks for the tip Martin! I’ll try to hunt down Great Darkness in trade. I had DC Infinite but I just can’t get into digital comics. I wish I could, since the service has a deep catalog