00:00-5:28: Greetings, or as all the cool kids say: Howdy-do! Some tech trauma opens the episode but it turns out to be largely self-inflicted. But we’re quick to try and move beyond it, but we find ourselves momentarily stymied by the clumsiness of an earlier recording time and by…comics themselves? Well yeah, kinda.
5:28-23:08: But having said that, Jeff just read the first three issues of X-Men Red by Al Ewing, Stefano Caselli, Federico Blee and Fernando Sifuentes, and very much enjoyed it. It’s the first X books Jeff has read since HOX/POX and so finds himself in the thick of a very rich fantasy setting far from the usual superhero tropes. Graeme gives Jeff (and you) more of an overview of the post-HOX/POX books, (both first and second wave in case you are intrigued).
23:08-43:27: Considering how closely Ewing’s work at Marvel is entwined with Kieron Gillen’s, Graeme uses this as a segue to talk about an X-related title: A.X.E. Judgment Day, of which five out of six issues are currently out, in which Gillen takes an inciting event from the one of the marching orders of the Eternals (destroy deviancy outside an expected range) to create what first seems to be a standard Marvel “franchise vs. franchise” event and becomes something much different and miuch more interesting. Graeme also delves into Gillen’s run on The Eternals with Esad Ribic and what he enjoyed so much about it. (Jeff, it should be said, finally made it through the first collected trade and also ended up enjoying it!)
43:27-1:06:51: And moving from one big event to another (with the sadly as-of-yet-unrealized “Board War” event helping), Graeme has some compare and contrast style observations about Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths by Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere. This is an event that Graeme had very much followed the build-up on and was a fan of the first few issues but as it’s gone on…there’s something missing? It gives us the space to talk about event comics a bit, and how often things go missing in them, and why, while also interrogating what it is DC’s latest event is actually trying to do.
1:06:51-1:33:41: As alluded to at the beginning, Jeff hasn’t had the best luck this month with his comic reading choices (or at least it just wasn’t the cornucopia of the previous month) but also encountering a fave doing work one would consider…not very good. The genius Jason Shiga has a new book out, Leviathan, the first in what may be a series of “Choose Your Own Adventure” comics (in the style of his Meanwhile…) and it underwhelmed. In fact, it was very far from whelming. And then, thanks to the magic of Hoopla, he was able to be deeply underwhelmed by Alex Ross’s Fantastic Four Full Circle for free? As it turns out, Graeme also did not appreciate the book very much, and so it’s an informal Baxter Building reunion stealth mini-ep as we look at what Ross is doing, why, and how it failed to land with us.
1:33:41-1:43:23: Graeme quite enjoyed the other Judgment Day—the 2000 AD 30 year celebration of the earlier zombies vs. 2000 AD characters event, “Judgment Day”—as well as the Marvel Comics adaptation of Terminator 2: Judgment Day by Klaus Janson and Gregory Wright. Come for the unexpected praise of a Marvel Comics movie adaptation, stay for hearing Graeme describe the ten year old’s reactions to T2 and The Last Action Hero.
1:43:23-1:51:56: Movies? Sure, we do this too! Graeme and Chloe watched a horror movie called Meander, a movie Chloe called “Cube’s much more boring cousin, Tube.” We also talk in a spoiler-free way about Confess, Fletch (and boy if you were to tell me this was the point where Graeme, Adam Knave, and I form a spinoff podcast just discussing the Gregory McDonald Fletch and Flynn books, I would totally believe you), as well as the Shudder exclusive movie, Saloum, a very enjoyable African addition to the “bad guys vs. monsters” genre (currently exclusive on Shudder).
1:51:56-end: Closing comments! Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme (and not a Twitter: Graeme at Popverse!) 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.
NEXT WEEK: Another Wait, What? And our 350th episode to boot?! See you then!
And here’s that link, all on its own!
If my Earth X memory serves Ross designed characters and very briefly sketched out the world for a Wizard thing post Kingdom Come and then Jim Krueger and John Paul Leon took those and made something fleshed out of them, and also made one of the best looking Marvel comics of all time (rip JPL) (that artist edition Winter Men looks so so so good)
Visually, Ross’s FF book recalled Buscema for me, and I enjoyed the very solid, classic look of the characters. And you can see that Ross sincerely wanted to channel the things all right-minded people love about the FF: The Kirby inventiveness, the fearless adventuring, the scope and scale. But it’s like a movie set: fake, cardboard thin. The story has zero emotional weight, as I believe Graeme noted. Roller-coaster is a great analogy, because the story starts and continues forward at one speed with nothing remotely like a rhythm. Sue actually gets two cool moments, but they are not cool because they pass like every other rushed beat. No moment has more weight than another, it’s all “This! Then This! Now this! And This! God? The End!”
wait, I’ll unmute…that Alex Ross panel you opened the post with looks like parody. It makes me think of Kyle Baker spoofing 60s comics. I wish I could give a specific citation, but it’s eluding me. Maybe this is what Graeme meant by his remark about Fantastic Four comics in living memory- my first thought being ‘So, all of them?’ Pride and falls, eh.
I think I see what Shadavid is saying about that Ross image. Kind of reminds me of Kyle Baker’s “Deadpool Max” series, but that was an intentional parody, and therefore channeled everything good about Baker. This FF book seems to channel all the worst tendencies of Ross, and static, undynamic posing is one of his weakness when trying to do sequential storytelling. Also, the Negative Zone? Is there any place in comics as boring as the Negative Zone? I think because the NZ is so poorly defined, it can be whatever the writer and/or artist want it to be. Unfortunately, as is often the case with unlimited creative freedom, it ends up being very much limited by the creators’ own imagination. Kirby had no idea what the NZ was, but he always made it work in the context of the stories he was telling, because he was gifted with imagination. Everyone else? Not so much.
Is that third image in the show notes, the one I assume is NYC, from AXE? That is an atrociously terrible piece of artwork. The technical skill behind the buildings and the figure drawing is more than fine, but as a composition, it’s just bad all around. You have light sources from every which way; birds, bodies, and buildings in shadow or fully lit for no reason; everyone dressed for a different season; nothing to really draw the eye aside from the placement of the captions boxes (Why are the captions doing the job of the artist?); and just the dullest positioning of the “camera.” Get up close inside that crowd, make those buildings TOWER! I have a similar relationship to Gillan’s work as Jeff, where many times I want to like it more than I do, but I don’t if he gets paired with bad artists or forgets to cut the detritus (he always devotes entire pages to just a plane flying over non-descript land, especially when it’s an X-Men comic), but this seems to happen a lot with his work.
Man, that T2 image… I can almost hear the GNR soundtrack emanating from it! I remember passing on this back in the day, because I only knew Klaus Janson as an inker and wasn’t sure the art would hold up. That image makes everyone look like the toy version come to life and not, you know, actual people. Arnold is practically a bobble head toy!
Anyway, didn’t know this would be the show notes where I’d come and shit on the art for my entire comment, but there you have it. Great show, though. Loved the compare-contrasting of the events. Also looking forward to hearing Chloe’s takes on horror movies! Hope you compare and contrast 1995’s “Dracula: Dead and Loving It” with 1995’s “Vampire in Brooklyn”!
Wow, thank you, I thought I was going crazy hearing reactions to the Ross book. Maybe it is better in print than digital, it would have to be, but I can’t believe it’s possible for it to be that much better. I think you’re generous comparing it to Buscema, this is 1970s Rich Buckler, with a Roy Thomas plot and a Gerry Conway script. Clunky, unattractive, just the worst aspects of Ross’ work brought into stark relief by stripping out the best aspects of his work. I have to assume people praising it are trying to justify paying $25 for what is at best an $8 FF Annual, or a forgettable bookshelf format one-shot.
Took a look as the new Shiga book on digital as well, and it’s unsuited to that format (it could be, maybe better than print, if it was on a custom interface with internal links, but not on a cookie cutter “flat scans of pages”). So I’ll have to get the book. Not sure when. Hey, is it just for me, or has amazon stopped having any discount at all on a lot of books? Have they finally driven enough independent bookstores out of the market that they no longer feel the need to discount? Used to be almost unheard of for a newly released book to be full MSRP on Amazon. Anyway, in the meantime I’m re-reading DEMON, which is still a hoot.
Meanwhile had a pretty good IOS app; I think I heard that an app for Leviathan is in the works.
Graeme MacMillan, a man whose last words I’m convinced will be “LONG LIVE LEVITZ!” Before Whoever’s in charge at DC at the time shoots him in the head, taking the side of a Marvel crossover over a DC crossover is something I legitimately believed was scientifically impossible.