Wait, What?, Ep. 340: Betamax Pussy Stomach

April 3, 2022

00:00-19:08: Greetings! These are our indigestion years, when we were green in face (or, really, Graeme’s indigestion years, or indigestion year, or, really, twice). Fortunately, indigestion makes for a lovely segue into Jared Leto’s Morbius, currently in movie theaters. Is it good? Is it bad? We haven’t seen it so we can’t really say for sure, but knowing as we do Morbius the Living Vampire, we are not hopeful. But! be warned Graeme more or less goes on to spoil the post-credits teaser for it, and Venom 2 and Spider-Man: No Way Home! Impressive, right?

19:08-41:41: Despite Graeme’s generous offer to spoil the first four episodes of Moon Knight, Jeff takes it upon himself to try and spoil The Eternals, which he’s just seen. But first! We also spoil Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (maybe? I can’t think of anything in there that’s really super-spoilery unless, I don’t know, you were expecting the movie to be faithful to the original ’70s run which it most definitely is not). I don’t know, maybe we don’t spoil it as much as just…”talk about it?” Is that what we used to call this kind of thing? Oh, but we also talk about Graeme’s nine year old trying to find good comics to read with Iron Man and Moon Knight in them. Are we getting to the point where the MCU is so different from the comics Marvel Universe that it’s difficult to convert movie watchers into comics readers? (But having said that: check out what his favorite Marvel character and comic is!)
41:41-1:07:02: Anyway, remember earlier when I promised Jeff was going to talk about and/or spoil The Eternals? That time has arrived…and Graeme still can’t believe Jeff watched it! He probably can’t believe Jeff is going to go on to compare the movie to ’80s Alan Moore either, but if you like to hear a movie damned with faint praise (Jeff) or just outright damned (Graeme), this may well be the discussion for you!
1:07:02-1:18:17: Bad but horny movie update! Graeme and Chloe have re-watched Videodrome, an experience that is a bit different for Graeme every time he watches it. But they also watched Benedetta (on Hulu) which Graeme insists is a *good* but horny movie? Sounds suspect, but we’ll allow it. There’s also light discussion of Critter Fixers (hopefully not a horny pick for Graeme), What If? (ditto), The Minx (maybe, though?), and Julia (quite probably).
1:18:17-1:32:07: Comics? Comics news? Comics stuff? Jeff thinks this happened during Drokk or our skip week but DC Universe Infinite is finally rolling out beyond the U.S. (Canada, Australia, and New Zealand now; the U.K. on April 28; Brazil and Mexico in “Summer 2022”) and we are here for it! Oh, but! It’s been a while since we’ve had a Tom King-related fight, so we do talk about Tom King’s recent Substack newsletter about if and where DC Black Label books fit in to DC continuity, and how that relates to the recent controversy (is it a controversy if Graeme doesn’t hear about it, though?) Also discussed: GNORT’S DEAD?!?
1:32:01-1:39:27: From that touching off point, we discuss Graeme’s latest newsletter entry about how so much of Marvel’s work feels incredibly homogenous and how DC’s been ending series not as relaunches, but as actual ways to keep the characters fresh and avoid them outwearing their welcome. As an example, Graeme talks a bit about the end of the current run of Suicide Squad, how it ties into The War For Earth 3, and how it puts the status quo of SS in a *very* interesting place. [SPOILERS for the end of The War For Earth 3 around the 1:33:08 mark]. Graeme also tries to (once again) point Jeff to Robin, the current series by Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov, a book that mixes manga tropes and Batman mythos stuff and therefore seems to be very “right up Jeff’s alley.” (As opposed to “right up Crime Alley,” which God forgive me I thought of just now and could not talk myself out of typing.)
1:39:27-1:46:23: Jeff has checked a couple of recent DC trades off Hoopla, but that is kind of secondary to talking about Grant Morrison’s current series of annotations about season two of The Green Lantern and how readable Morrison makes discussing a second season always on the verge of ending up (as Morrison memorably puts it) “face down in a swimming pool of its own piss.” (By the way, if you can guess which one of us brings up Alan Moore’s Masterclass as something to sign up for, hat’s off to you!)
1:46:23-1:55:38: Jeff just realized (and is a little chuffed) that he’s now up to seven ongoing manga series that he’s reading simulpub fashion, a sign perhaps of how much he’s departed from the Big Two comics Industrial Complex (physically, if not mentally) and Graeme has some very smart and sensible questions about how that differs from reading them in tankōbon fashion.
1:55:38-2:01:48: Graeme (who only reads things he likes, like some kind of god-damned fancy boy) has been reading the very amazing-sounding Rok of the Reds, a “what if Doomlord possessed Jamie Tartt/what if The Brother From Another Planet took place inside Roy of the Rovers” alien invasion sports comic from John Wagner and Dan Cornwell (and Alan Grant!), self-published by Wagner! Incidentally, Graeme was turned on to the comic after hearing the extensive John Wagner interview conducted by Michael Molcher for the huge online convention celebrating 2000 AD’s 45th anniversary! Anyway, if you’re a fan of our Drokk! podcast, check out the interview…and if you’re a fan of Wagner’s work at its most oddball, help the guy break even and duck over to Rok of the Reds and buy copies of the two trades in either print or digital?
2:01:48-2:20:01: And a little closer to the 2000 AD beat, Graeme put all of the Dredd strips from 2021 into one PDF to read in a go. It sounds like an amazing experience (our author typed enviously) and Graeme unpacks how it informs our recent “consistently good, not great/feels a bit more directionless than directed” quandry over on Drokk (reading strips from two decades earlier).
2:20:01-end: Closing stuff!  Graeme’s newsletter (https://www.getrevue.co/profile/ComicsFYI!  Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff!  Tumblr, 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.  (Plus, closing episode Showgirls-related fun fact courtesy of the inimitable Ian Brill. Thanks, Ian!)
NEXT WEEK:  Drokk!!  Read vol. 34 of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files and join us for more zarzaj scrotnig grixl patootie! (Please note: I made up two of those words but I’m not sure which ones.)

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13 comments on “Wait, What?, Ep. 340: Betamax Pussy Stomach

  1. Jeff Lester Apr 3, 2022

    For your cutting and pasting pleasure:

  2. Terrific show, chaps! I’m certainly seeing the rollout of the DC Infinite Universe app as terribly exciting.

    The War For Earth 3 ‘event’ was just dire. The bookends weren’t excruciatingly awful, the Flash book had good stuff in when it wasn’t pretending it mattered to the bigger story, but Teen Titans Academy was seven kinds o’shite, with the worst script I’ve read in a mainstream book for years. The ending of War For Earth 3 #2 was very confusing – Waller wins Earth 3, but according to the caption, after sealing it off from the rest of the multiverse she takes her new team right back to regular DC Earth 0.

    I reckon Jeff is correct in his understanding of Tom King’s attitude to continuity. He’s having it both ways… if a subsequent comic refers to the hero being dead and the heroine being a cold-hearted witch, it’s official. Until anyone else shows us the dead guy isn’t a puddle of meat, it’s official.

    Graeme’s revelation about Dredd having lots of relatives and an interesting relationship with an accountant makes the strip sound interesting. That’s not to say that I didn’t grimace when he suggested that after you get through the case files in six months, you should read more Dredd. Come on, laddies, there’s a legion of other things to cover!

  3. No one’s defending Morbius? Graeme has apparently not kept up with his former employer! The Hollywood Reporter has an editorial decrying the film against “the critical consensus.”


    Who cannot be swayed by this ringing endorsement: “Morbius is a film I enjoyed quite a lot and think maintains the spirit of the ’90s comic books I grew up reading.”

  4. As for why Venom gets pulled into the MCU if the rule is “people who know Spider-Man is Peter Parker get pulled in” — let’s not forget what the symbiote said to Eddie in that hotel room: “80 billion light-years of hive knowledge across universes would explode your tiny little brain.”

    HIVE. KNOWLEDGE. A little bit goes a long way. Specifically, 80 billion light-years and across the multiverse.

  5. Voord 99 Apr 5, 2022

    So I’m going to be the idiot who says, “Actually, I didn’t think Eternals was *that* bad.” Of the four Marvel movies that year, I rate it above Black Widow, which is a Marvel film that gives you a Marvel film in a predictably Marvel way, and ticks all the boxes, and does nothing but tick the boxes. At least Eternals was trying to do *something.*

    Put it this way, I liked The Eternals well enough to watch it twice. And I’ll say that it’s a better film on rewatch than the first time through. The reason is that, on the first watch, the main character is Sersi, and this Sersi is a very bland character. I’ve seen some complaints about Gemma Chan’s performance being flat and affectless, but I think she was just playing the character that was written.

    Whereas on second watch, the main character is Ikaris, and he, and Madden’s performance, are a hell of a lot more compelling when you already know that he’s falling apart inside in every scene and trying not to let it show. There little bits that work differently, e.g. when Druig is recalcitrant, and Ikaris is a little too quick to go, “Right, he’s not going to help us, and he’s annoying me. We should just give up,” and starts to storm out, where on rewatch you can see him grasping at a straw to try to shut this whole thing down.

    Basically, it’s a film about someone having a religious crisis, who ends up killing himself because he can’t resolve it. This is more interesting to me than the usual MCU fare.

    As far performances go, I thought pretty much everyone was fine except Chan (which, as noted above, is not necessarily her fault — she doesn’t elevate the material, but there’s not a lot there to elevate), and Jolie, who was much as she is in a lot things (which people apparently like, as her filmography and bank account show, but I’ve never seen the appeal). I don’t begrudge Hayek her paycheck — Ajak’s a secondary character who exists to be the murder victim McGuffin and not much else, and Hayek’s performance worked on that level.

    It’s not Kirby’s Eternals — to be fair, I think translating Kirby straight would have a lot of problems —, and calling the Deviant Kro (in the credits) is a waste of one of Kirby’s best characters, no doubt about that. On the other hand, the Deviants are reduced to red herrings, and that’s not necessarily the worst thing. I don’t know that one can do, “Oh, the ugly ones are evil” in quite the same way now (and yes, Kirby does complicate that as the series goes on, but initially, it’s “good-looking and basically white good-guys” versus “ugly bad guys”).

    The film takes the basic idea of “These demigods have been in hiding for thousands of years” (which could as easily have been the Inhumans, obviously) and builds a new set of conceits around that. The overall contrivances required to create those conceits wouldn’t bear a lot of attention. But, you know, a film about immortal demigods learning that they’re space robots and having a crisis of faith over that — it’s not what Kirby wrote, but it’s a Kirbyesque big idea that’s not out of tune with Kirby. I’m prepared to go with that being what these Eternals are.

    In 2008, one joke I would make about Iron Man is, “Why does this film interrupt the story of the maturation of a brilliant but narcissistic man with action scenes?” And I feel a bit similarly about Eternals. It’s at its weakest in the action scenes, which interrupt the more interesting parts.

    And really, people are creepily obsessed with going on about that sex scene. It’s really short, and it’s not important.

    I’ll give Jeff Lester the plough, though. That did bother me.

  6. Martin Gray Apr 5, 2022

    Thank you Voord 99, for an elegantly argued post. I forgot to mention that I found Eternals absolutely fine, it was a decent Saturday night watch (maybe not having revered the Kirby originals helped). If Sprite had been horribly murdered it would have been a lot better. I really hope the post-credits scene with Kit Harrington as the future Black Knight and Mahershala Ali as the voice of Blade is followed up on – that way lies MI-13!

  7. Shadavid Apr 5, 2022

    The plough thing is stupid, however it is a stupid thing baked into Kirby’s Eternals. Despite how much I bang on about ‘The Great Stone Face’ from Black Cat Mystic (57?), there is obviously some of Chariots of the Gods in there. That’s full of the fundamentally racist view that were as intellectually lazy as Erich Von Daniken and therefore could not have achieved culturally without outside help. If I rewatch the film I’ll follow Ikaris, as per Voord’s suggestion.
    Much derided, bad films I enjoy include Van Helsing and the 2011 Three Musketeers. One point of fascination for me in the latter film is that the story as written would work better if the women playing Constance and the Queen swapped roles.
    I’ve not read much Iron Man either. Within the time period suggested, having taken a look after MU, there’s a few things I’d try: The Fantastic Four/ Iron Man Big in Japan by Zeb Wells and Seth Fisher, a Joe Casey / Fraser Irving mini series and Fred Van Lente’s Marvel Adventures Iron Man. The art on the last is better than most Marvel Adventures books.

  8. So glad Jeff got to talk about Shang Chi. As one of his favorite characters, I was wondering what he would think of all the deviations for the source material. I agree they were mostly for the better. I thought interesting, however, that the secret city was basically Kun-lan (spelling?) from Iron Fist, right? They pretty much merged Iron Fist and Shang Chi into one character, at least as far as backstory goes. Probably for the best until they figure out how to de-problemify Iron Fist. Fun fact: My friend is in “Shang Chi”! He’s the guy in the hat on the bus who gets elbowed in the face. He did a bunch of other stunts for the movie too, including Shang Chi.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with the hosts’ takes on “The Eternals,” but I’m not fully on the hate train for it, either. I said it’s the one MCU movie that really stuck with me after I saw it, and that’s independent of it quality or lack thereof. I just like a lot of the ideas in it (I’m a sucker for a story about immortals!), and the underutilization of those ideas really fired my imagination for how I would have liked to have seen them play out. Can you like a movie for it making you imagine a better movie? But I agree, it’s not bad enough to be a bad a classic, and that’s probably it’s ultimate sin. I also found the time jumps cheap and entirely subtractive, much like the flashbacks in Lost. I think a sequential story, with more focus on how the Eternals tried to fit in after they gave up on their roles would have been way more interesting. And thank you, Jeff, for pointing out how the English delivery was stilted. I thought Druig was doing a bit by speaking in some argot the other Eternals would then interpret, much like the one hearing impaired Eternal. I had no idea that Druig was speaking English, and is a native English speaker to boot! (Although, he is Irish, so maybe YMMV on that. :) )

    I was hoping for more full steam ahead on the hate train on “The Human Target” discusion, but I’ll take what I can get. Having read King’s post, I think Jeff has it right. Yes, it’s out of continuity, but King is hoping, like “The Killing Joke,” in-continuity creators incorporate his ideas. Whether that’s because he wants to see his idea have life beyond his involvement with them, or because he feel jilted by being shunted over to Black Label, I couldn’t really say.

    Interesting discussion about the manga and reading weekly versus in collection. I feel that’s tangentially related to the Judge Dredd read through. I wonder if I would feel cheated by some of the one-off stories if I had read them as my only Dredd fix for the week versus reading them as part of a Dredd buffet. Thanks for the Wagner interview link! Will look into “Rok of the Reds” because of this.

  9. Martin Gray Apr 6, 2022

    Sorry, me again. I forgot, Jeff, if you just watch one more thing on Disney+ before it vanishes in a puff of penury, try Encore – it’s a documentary series in which adults reunite to restage a high school musical. Watching the old-friends-or-not try to work together is fascinating and fun and heartwarming. Every episode is different, so give at least one a go.

  10. Oh, I forgot an Iron Man rec! The only thing that would even remotely meet the conditions Graeme set out would be “Iron Man: Legacy of Doom” by Bob Layton and Ron Lim. It was published in 2008, so it’s not old, but it is a sequel of sorts to some older Iron Man stories, which I never read. Maybe that would work? Otherwise, I don’t know. There’s always Ultimate Iron Man where Tony’s entire body is a brain (????) and some kids burn his legs off in a furnace that he then regrows by eating a protein bar. Yeah, maybe not. Ultimate Iron Man is the kind of comic you give someone when you’re interested in severing all ties with them.

  11. Mike Loughlin Apr 7, 2022

    I found Eternals boring, but also full of weird choices. Sersi is the Eternals character that actually talks and acts like a posh version of a typical quippy MCU character, and they made her the boring one. As mentioned, Kro became a boring monster. Then, the Celestial baby got half-born, and nothing changed on Earth. Wouldn’t the planet be destroyed? My suspension of disbelief (which is usually set pretty high) was not enough to reconcile that. I’m fine if the MCU never references this movie again.

    I liked Shang Chi, despite its wide deviations from the source material, but wish it had more kung fu and less talking.

    As for children and super-hero comics, I don’t know what to recommend. Most older comics are seen as old-fashioned. Most modern comics are aimed at older readers. The characters in the movies don’t always act like the characters in the books. Continuity can be a strength, but also an anchor. I don’t know why Marvel and DC didn’t make a manga line (not just comics that were drawn with some manga influence, like Joe Mad on X-Men). They’ve had younger reader lines for years, often drawn by less-than-great artists, but little-to-no manga by actual manga creators. At least DC has the young adult OGNs, but I don’t know well how those sell.

  12. Matthew Murray Apr 7, 2022

    Jeff: Could you tell us what the seven ongoing manga series you’re keeping up with are?
    Mike: Back in 2009 Del Rey released a manga-influenced titled called X-Men: Misfits that was co-written by Raina Telgemeier. That this book is out of print is (to me) surefire proof that Marvel not only doesn’t care about publishing comics for kids or manga-influenced stuff, but have no idea what they’ve actually published. (See also: Wolverine: Snikt by Tsutomu Nihei which is out of print and Spider-Man: The Manga which they published in single issues back in the ’90s.)

  13. Zach Adams Apr 8, 2022

    It’s interesting the way Graeme describes DC’s strategy of doing a maxiseries, putting a concept away for a few months, and relaunching because that formula worked very well in the first few years of modern Valiant IMO