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August 21, 2016
Wait, What? Ep. 207: Inquiries!
0:00-4:06: Greetings! How’s the weather, you ask? Well, Graeme McMillan and the rest of Portland, Oregon are boiling alive! Jeff’s fine, thanks for asking, but since he knows fine doesn’t carry well—podcasts being what Marshall McLuhan would call a “hot” medium—he moves us to the towering mountain of remaining listeners’ questions! Will he and Graeme get through all of the questions by the end of the podcast? Place your bets now!
4:06-16:24:Kevin Moreau asks: I have two questions that I hope you can find the time to answer as you’re patrolling Hub City to keep us all safe from crime. 1. It’s well known that Graeme is not a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Is there a comic-book movie (MCU, DC or otherwise) made since the dawn of the MCU (so since 2008) that you love or at least like, and what does it do right that the MCU movies largely don’t? (Primarily for Graeme, but Jeff please feel free to chime in as well.)
16:24-27:51: Kevin also wants to know: 2. Largely for Jeff, but if Graeme has any input, please feel free: I find manga largely impenetrable, but I want to give it a fair shake. What is it that appeals to you about the form, and what would you recommend for a newbie who finds it hard to get past the cartoon-y expressions and overall exaggerated nature of what little I’ve glimpsed? 27:51-35:51:Charles Forsman inquires: 1. Spawn/Batman or Batman/Spawn? 2. What’s the deal with all these comic books coming out every week?
35:51-47:20:Tom Bondurant queries: DC/Warners are putting out an animated version of The Judas Contract, in which a spunky 16-year-old superheroine is (spoilers!) revealed to be a stone-cold sociopath who hates the Teen Titans, is probably sleeping with the much-older Deathstroke the Terminator, and dies after being literally buried by her own rage-spawned freakout. I still have a lot of affection for TJC, especially in the context of New Teen Titans generally, but a) does it seem that problematic to you and b) what changes, if any, do you expect the adaptation to make?
47:20-55:50:Matt Miller wonders: Already asked one of my questions on Twitter, so here’s my 2nd: You two are starting a Crossgen-esque company dealing in popular (but non-superhero) genres. What two writer/artist teams (or cartoonists) would you recruit and what genre do you put them on?
55:50-1:02:40:Evan Harrison Cass interrogates: Jeff, what is your current ethical stand regarding the purchase of Marvel product? I’ve lost track. Also: When Tim Seeley and Tom King were co-writing their critically acclaimed Grayson run, most critics – including you two – assumed Seeley’s contribution wasn’t as ‘key’ as King’s. I know for a fact that Tim felt frustrated that he wasn’t given fair credit for bits that were his that were critically celebrated. What shapes the impression that a Seeley type writer is B-list while a King type is A-list?
1:02:40-1:11:46:Ray Mescallado queries: You get to greenlight a Legion of Super-Heroes movie. What era of Legion would you use (Grell 70s, Levitz/Giffen, Five Years After, reboot, threeboot, etc) and why? Would you connect it to the cinematic DCU and how? Which Legionnaires would you focus on, and who do you imagine playing their roles?
1:11:46-1:22:18: Levi Tompkins ponders: Do you think the lack of lgbtqi characters in Marvel books now is a result of them worried about how to deal with presenting those characters in other mediums like cartoons and movies? What do you think of valiant’s plans to create a movie-verse, or valiant’s attempts at extending their brand into other media formats in general?
1:22:18-1:30:58:Garrett asks: My question(s) are: Could a Jack Kirby (creative output and brand new ideas) exist in today’s comic’s industry? Are there any writers, artists, or writer/artists currently working today that come close?
1:30:58-1:41:52:Adam Wolfe inquires: 1st question: I read the first Flintstones by Mark Russell and I have the same feeling about it that I usually do after reading a Thomas Pynchon book: amused, a little perplexed, not sure if I get everything the author put in, but ultimately this feeling that I read something intellectual that I should feel smart for having read. Ultimately I think I enjoyed it but I was wondering, what are your thoughts on this series and is Russell’s Prez going to see a second volume? 2nd question: Do you think that Grant Morrison steal his idea of transporting to different universe through a musical instrument in Multiversity from the Heman Masters of the Universe movie from the 80s? There’s a dwarf like creature in that movie that uses a type of flute if I recall to travel back and forth from our realm to that Eternia.
1:41:52-1:52:48:Roger Winston (Flasshe) cross-examines: 1) As a big time Legion of Super-Heroes fanboy from way back (Cockrum, Grell, Levitz/Giffen, beyond) I am incensed that DC doesn’t know what to do with the LSH these days. Why is that? Is the concept just not something that connects with modern audiences? Or have they just not found the correct approach or creators to make it work nowadays? What do you think DC should do with the property? (I’m counting all this as one question, though you are free to handle it as you see fit.) (2) What is your preferred comic reading environment? For me, it’s iPad/recliner/beer/music on the headphones, usually after work and before dinner. If I try to read in bed at night, it’s snooze-land and no retention.
1:52:48-1:53:04:Yonatan offers: when DC finally brings the Legion back, what creative team?
1:53:04-1:56:18:Dave Clarke requests: compare and contrast Judge Dredd big summer events with those of the big 2?
1:56:18-1:57:44:Steven E. Chambers plays good cop: easy one: have you two been keeping up with Rucka and Lark’s Lazarus?
1:57:44-2:01:10:Scott Rowland is bad cop: I’m 100 episodes behind, so you may have covered, but any thoughts on Steve Ditko’s independent work over the years? And thoughts on Ditjko’s string of modest, but successful Kickstarters to publish new material?
2:01:10-2:06:08:Art Lyon is dramatic reading cop:What long-run title would u analyze a la your Baxter Building eps if u weren’t doing FF or – gasp! – *after* u finish FF?
2:06:08-end: Closing comments! Next week will be a Q&A session so please feel free to tweet or email us your questions. Look for us on Stitcher!Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! Matt! Tumblr, and on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.
Next week: Baxter Building Episode #20! Fantastic Four #171-184! Join us!
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With Clairemont, I”d love to see you guys tackle Sovereign Seven. S7 has Claremont trying to apply his tropes to DC concepts like the New Gods and Legion of Superheroes with a group that resembles a cross between the X-Men and the Forever People. It is a huge, jumbled mess of S&M and super powers while trying to be the center of the Post-ZH DC Comics and failing. But it also shows off all the tropes that you’d probably tackle with your examination of Micronauts and X-Men in its latter, more concentrated, more obvious years.
Sovereign Seven was. . .something else. I don’t know that it was good, but it sort of functioned as a decoder ring for a bunch of things that had always bugged me about Claremont’s work but I never really had a name for.
As for TITANS, having read that third omnibus, the book really craters about the time it becomes too pleased with story after story about who bangs whom and aren’t we progressive for handling it with such taste and conscience and also here’s Danny Chase in case there’s anyone we haven’t aggravated off the book.
I was kinda happy when TITANS HUNT came in and flipped the table over.
I wouldn’t wish a reading of Sovereign Seven on my worst enemy.
I think Terra is the same age as Kitty Pryde…so they’re both about 16. She’s the Titan’s equivalent…but she’s definite that age.
They also did a version of Judas Contract with the Teen Titans tv show. In the earlier episodes, Slade tries to make Robin his “apprentice” and fails. Then you have Terra appear, on and off, trying to figure out how to control her powers. Then she betrays the titans in order to control her powers with the help of Slade. Slade “controls” her body, making her do things…willingly…to attack the Titans. She is eventually overcome and gets encased in rock. It is very odd and can be see as a weird rape metaphor, but it isn’t played as one.
Starfire is Storm, but I think we’re meant to take it more that she’s flamboyantly Hispanic.
Wikipedia says (without a citation) that Tara was 15 when she met Deathstroke, so she’d be 15 or 16 in The Judas Contract.
Wikipedia also has this George Perez quote, sourced to a TwoMorrows publication:
“I wanted her to be cute but not beautiful. She looked like a young girl. I gave her a substantial overbite, her eyes were wide, her body was slim, she wasn’t particularly busty. I wanted her to look almost elven, so that when you see her for the first time wearing full-make up and dressed in a provocative outfit where you know she’s just been in bed with Deathstroke that it does jab you a bit. “Whoa, good God! This little girl is a slut!” ”
In the series finale of Teen Titans, a girl who looks like Terra is going to school in the city. It’s implied she’s the same Terra, but she doesn’t remember Beast Boy and blows him off, telling him to “let it go” which struck me almost as if the writers were saying it to the fans. It was a serious down note to end on.
That was definitely a weird downer of an ending to such a fun series. There was no sexual element to the Deathstroke/Terra relationship there though, he basically treats her the same way he treated Robin – as an apprentice to be manipulated. The new Teen Titans Go! tackles the Terra story also in a typically funny and silly way, and gets around the squickiness by (if I remember correctly) completely removing the Deathstroke aspect of that plotline.
I never read TT back in the 80s, and since then have only read a couple stories – Judas Contract, the second Trigon storyline. I just bought the first 18 issues or so in the recent DC comixology sale and am working my through them now.
Jeff, a lot of that cool long video stuff is on Youtube, like the results for this search for “cab view”.
Manga that can be good for acclimatizing with: Planetes is the first thing I thought of, with its beautiful, detailed art and thoroughly humane storytelling. The characters are drifters and losers; some get a shot at their dreams, some don’t, but the story treats them all with dignity, and I liked them and wanted the best for them.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō (“Record of a Yokohama Shopping Trip”) is another all-time favorite story of mine. It’s set in a sort of slow, gentle apocalypse – the world’s warming some, people are getting scarce, a few fantastic elements are creeping out of the shadows. But it’s a world where people love their lives, work hard at things that matter to them, respect others and help them in their needs. The art is staggeringly beautiful, too. The central character is Alpha, a completely human-seeming robot running her master’s little coffee shop while he’s elsewhere. (He never shows up in the story.) The humor is funny, the drama is touching. It’s great. Unfortunately, I don’t know if there’s a legit source for it right now. Jeff, this is your field, how’s your find-a-source fu?
Two of Katsuhiro Otomo’s stories may also work well, given his fondness for insanely detailed, tightly controlled scenes and characters. Domu is a done-in-one story in more or less modern-day Tokyo, and the lives of the people who share a cheap apartment building with a very powerful and manipulative psychic. I’m not sure if it’s in print. I do know that the six volumes of Akira are.
Akira is a sprawling epic set in the near future, a generation after a mysterious A-bomb-like explosion flattened of Tokyo. Plot threads loop in all directions, tying through a bunch of well-rendered juvenile delinquents. (There’s a very funny scene early on where the principal’s lecturing them, ending with “Do you understand me!”, and they go “Nope” and “I got maybe half of that” and “Would you say the part about burdens to society again?”) Very powerful psychics are again crucial, and another epic disaster happens about a third of the way through the story. By the time it’s done, things have escalated to confrontations with American forces rendered in ways that would make right-winger heads explode. I just re-read it, and am freshly happy about it again.
Domu is solid, and pretty easy to find in the bins, but Akira to me is THE manga sci-fi masterpiece (sorry Pluto). It blew my mind as a kid and moved in all kinds of new directions comics-wise. I still re-read it every few years. I know the movie gets a lot of love, and the soundtrack and a lot of the set pieces are definitely amazing, but it’s world is so small compared to the series that I never cared for it all that much.
I feel the same way about the movie. I’ve been known to listen to the soundtrack while reading the manga, though. :)
Yeah, I found that CD in a funky import store back in the pre-internet days and used it as background music a lot during college. Great, weird stuff.
Jeff, if you can you should really check out the two BBC “slow” documentaries The Canal and The Sleigh Ride. Both are two hour uninterrupted journeys shown in one take with no narration and only natural soundtrack: mainly bird song and water lapping at the side of the canal boat in the former; and the sound of sleigh bells in the later. Strangely hypnotic.
I wonder whether the Legion of Super-Heroes suffers from the same problem as the Fantastic Four: they were born of an era of exploration and optimism in the future (and, in particular, the benefits of technology) coupled with a feeling of family. They have since as teams been deconstructed; disbanded; outlawed and rebooted, all to ever lessening effect. Short of major (and popular) talents of the likes of Morrison taking over authorial reigns, I can’t see either making a comeback. (And I say that as a great fan of the Legion, and one very much interested in hearing the two of you talk about them in the event that you will ever come to an end to your Fantastic Four mega read.)
That said, are any team books selling at the moment? With the possible exception of Morrison (followed by Whedon)’s X-Men, the only team books to really sell have been based on Morrison’s relaunched JLA, which feature the most iconic characters teamed together (see also Bendis’ Avengers). The X-Men have been in terminal decline for years; as has the Teen Titans; no-on is interested in the Inhumans; and even the 90’s upstarts the Authority and WildCats seem to be met with at best disinterest, at worst disdain. The closest I can think of to a successful team book at the moment is the un-named one appearing in Detective Rebirth. It seems the comics reading public is only interested in gritty lone wolf outsiders at present.
As always, the podcast is a joy to listen to. I only wish I could come up with questions for you at the time of asking, as opposed to six months later, as is usually the case.
Maybe Claremont’s X-Men is already covered, but what about Claremont’s Fantastic Four? I’d be interested in an extra Baxter Building about the Claremont/Larroca run in volume 2, where instead of being a Kirby FF cover band, the book became…. a Claremont X-Men cover band!
I was coming here to say this!
Yes, likewise, I’d want to hear the FF read-through keep going. Just because Marvel renumbers doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Besides, the Claremont / Larroca run and its introduction of Val was the first time I ever found the FF interesting. Graeme, IIRC it’s chuck full of callbacks to Excalibur. Then you could keep going through the Waid / Weiringo stuff and even the short McDuffie run.
If you insist on jumping to a different property, you should totally base your decision on what you’d call the podcast. “Happy Harbor” would be a great follow-up.
While an in depth exploration of Claremont’s X-men would be fun for a little while I think it would run it’s course rather quickly. (Plus it has been done to death and I’m not sure you will find anything new to add.) I would rather you tackle something that you had an interest in or have not revisited in a while, so that you are looking at it fresh. Maybe shorter runs so that you are not bogged down by the mammoth effort required. You have talked in the past of Micronauts, Rom the Space Knight or Englehart’s Justice League. Those would be something I would love to see you look at. Or choose something you both have been meaning to read or examine in depth and never got around to it. I realize it would be a while because the FF will occupy your time for the future. I like the analysis even when I disagree with it.
I’d say Excalibur, but the middle stretch is such a mess before Davis comes back.
Maybe a creator specific podcast. You could follow Englehart from the start of his career through Marvel and DC following themes through different titles.
I’m so proud that my question got you guys talking about Overtkill. I am happy.
So happy that my question generated such an unexpected answer (to both me and Graeme, apparently) from Jeff. I had no idea the “slow” films even existed, much less that they are good for reading comics to. I still think that might be distracting for me, but maybe I need that split focus to keep me concentrating on the material. Which seems counterintuitive, but whatevs.
I vote also for the Legion read-through. The Englehart JLA would be cool too, but it’s a pretty short run. And still not available digitally! Except for one issue? But then again, I think there are large digital Legion gaps, especially early on, I sold most of my collection long ago.
A Kirby Fourth World analysis might be cool too.
“Flasshe” is pronounced however you want, but I usually go with just “Flash”. Oh, the sacrifices we make to be Googliably Unique. If only I could go back in time…
Seconds on the Fourth World.
Having re-read the Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans run (but stopping short of its move to Baxter format) just recently, I can confirm that Tara is 15 when she meets the Titans, celebrating her 16th birthday just before the Judas Contract story line (I think it may have been in the story ‘The Eyes of Tara Markov’ where it’s revealed that she is spying on the Titans for Deathstroke. So, while they don’t actually say she was 15 and sleeping with Deathstroke, it is very heavily implied.
Also, Terry Long. There from almost the start (first appearance in #7?) and is creepy from the get-go. Donna is 19, and he is early 30’s? Was her Professor, but isn’t now because somehow she has this amazing career as a fashion photographer?
Yup, just read the first batch of Titans for the first time, and Terry is definitely a gross creeper from literally his first panel.
I’m surprised to hear you were so into the recent “Death of Dredd/Texas City ” plotline by Carroll. As I’ve said elsewhere, having now read the entirety of the arc, I feel comfortable in saying that, aside from Colin MacNeil’s beautiful art and the straightforward and entertaining adventure portions in the Cursed Earth, this story has been pretty much total ass (and illogical ass at that) from start to finish, and that includes the stupid Emerald Isle adventure from earlier that set up why the Brits were so pissed (though Dredd standing around in Joyce’s mom’s kitchen in his socks was amusing). The whole finale was very rushed and nonsensical, relied on people acting out of character, and really made a hash out of what I thought was a pretty good fundamental idea (the Texas plot). Between this, his mediocre use of the Law Lords to round out his Gideon Dallas arc, and the all-around crummy Gyre arc in the Megazine, I’m pretty worried about having Carroll at the reins. Especially compared to recent good stuff like Titan, Enceladus, Terrror Rising and Block Judge.
Great show as always.
I don’t see how the Titans stuff is “problematic” in any way that’s inordinate. The stuff with Terra and Deathstroke is SUPPOSED to be uncomfortable. It isn’t as if Wolfman and Perez are endorsing it. Would I want it faithfully adapted for a children’s cartoon? NO. But for what it is I think it was handled well. It’s supposed to be a bit lurid and a lot uncomfortable. Why not be allowed to show it? And, actually, NO, there is no great big flag indicating that Terra and Slade are in a sexual relationship. That’s adults reading into it. It’s nothing worse than how the one Cuckoo sister acted around Magneto in Morrison’s New X-Men. But by the 2000s mainstream comics were allowed to actually raise an idea like that overtly, if only to dismiss it. And honestly even if someone does insist that yes we really need to definitely understand that Terra and Slade were having sex, the overall point still stands that, yeah, Wolfman and Perez portray it as an unhealthy relationship. (I mean, what?, next should be ban Lolita?)
Nor do I think that the female Titans have it any worse than the guys. How is Donna Troy a sexist portrayal? She’s treated very respectfully. She gets into a relationship with an “older” guy who was probably only in his mid-30s. It isn’t like Terry manipulated or exploited her (that I know of?). For the most part it was a great relationship, one of the best by comic book standards. It eventually ended — so what? I know tons of women who have had successful relationships with somewhat older guys. It isn’t always lurid and manipulative.
Starfire is obviously sexualized, but I don’t feel that Wolfman and Perez did it in an exploitative or insulting way. For comparison, look at how Lobdell used her — it wasn’t like that in the ’80s. She was somewhat free with her body, but how is this inherently bad? You guys compare her to Storm. Okay, Storm was free with her body sometimes. So what? She had a healthy body image and liked to be natural sometimes. So do a lot of women. I don’t feel that Storm was particularly exploited by writers and artists — she wasn’t treated the way, say, Psylocke was. She was a black woman who was independent, smart, strong, the team leader, and had a healthy body image. This happened in the late ’70s and ’80s and somehow it’s still a representation of female exploitation? I think actually it was a freaking triumph. I think even the fact that a female of color was shown as signifying beauty was in and of itself a breakthrough for mainstream American comics back then. Was Storm sometimes put through hardship? Yes. Well, think of how Wolverine, Angel, Cyclops, Professor X and various other male characters were put through worse. Starfire certainly wasn’t the total awesomeness that Storm was, but I don’t see how she was treated insultingly by Wolfman and Perez.
If you look at anything long and hard enough and second-guess everything, anything can seem “problematic”. Someone could look at Cyborg and say “Oh great, what this character ‘means’ is that a black man needs technology to be a person.” Or you could look at Beast Boy and say, “Oh great, this character is a total insult to animal rights; how typically human, to just mash all animals together as amorphous ‘beasts’.” Even Dick Grayson: “Oh great, another male totally emasculated by being forced to wear an elf costume for the first 44 issues. And he gets into a relationship with a woman who is taller and way stronger than he is. Emasculated!” Someone could find logic for all those criticisms.
I’m definitely not saying that everything was totally fine, but overall I think New Teen Titans still holds up quite well and is not cringeworthy.
I struggle with the Kirby ‘cover bands’, mostly. The closer the surface is to Kirby the more it usually draws my attention to the relative failures of the storytelling. I found most of Godland difficult, due to how many ‘static’ panels there were. I’m pleased to say Scioli really impressed me with ‘GI Joe vs Transformers’, so I’m hoping his take on ‘Omac’ is going to be more in that direction. Of course, I probably wouldn’t be a comics fan without being inconsistent, so I love Giffens’ work on the Scorpio story in Defenders, although that may be due to its’ overwrought nature, rather than its’ Kirbyosity.
Speaking of overwrought, I’d love a Micronauts read through, but the the Legion would be lots of fun, too. However, I’m interested in hearing you thoughts on ‘Master of Kung Fu’. It would appear to have so many things going for it, created by Englehart and Starlin, what is surely Doug Moench longest series, significant runs by Gulacy, Zeck and Day on art. On the downside there’s the legacy of racism baked into the concept along with Fu Manchu, or neither of you may have no connection or fondness for it.
The weirdest part of the addition of the New Avengers to Marvel Future Fight is that Sunspot has a cameo, but because of the apparent no mutant clause of the game, he’s relegated to being a nameless shadow with the subtitle “New Avengers leader.” I really wondered why they bothered at all–just use Hawkeye if you need a character to introduce them.
Thanks for explaining that–I was *utterly* baffled as to what was going on there!
I play this Spider-man infinite runner game called Spider-man Unlimited. In the game you can get all sorts of variant Spider-men, women, and costumes, so of course the Amazing Bag-man isis there. A couple of years ago, when the game first came out, he looked proper. Now though, they’ve removed the fantastic Four symbol from his chest so he is just wearing a blue costumes