Wait, What? Ep. 120: Beat Up

 photo f8dabd57-4b13-4eff-b84a-507a8760a3bd_zpsb112cfea.jpgStunner stuff from D'Israeli in Stickleback, currently appearing in 2000 A.D.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends! (If I was Stan Lee, I'd offer a No-Prize to those of you who really get that reference...but thank goodness there is only one Stan and I'm not him.)

Join me after the jump for show notes for Wait, What? Ep. 120, won't you?  (Yes, there is one this week.  I assure you, I'm not pulling an April Fool's Joke on you a week late...OR AM I????

Nope, I'm not.

By the way, we offer on-air apologies but let me apologize here for not giving you all an on-site update about last week's unexpected skip week.   In the future, I'll try to throw something together to let website-oriented Whatnauts aware that we won't be around.  At the end of this 'cast, however, we mention our skip weeks for the next six weeks or so, so feel free to get out your calendar if it will ease your anxiety.

What was I...?  Oh, right.  Show notes!

0:00-16:44:  Well, nothing says upbeat like talking about dead people!  Graeme and Jeff briefly contemplate the passing of Roger Ebert and -- in a bit more detail -- the passing of Carmine Infantino.  Also included in the discussion (but still alive as far as we know): Terry Austin; Bill Sienkiewicz; John Peele; advocacy v. shrill pedanticism; our own critical failings; etc. 16:44-37:01:  And as we skate merrily onto thinner ice:  Age of Ultron; the Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comics; and a new thesis (All-New Avenging Thesis!) from Jeff about the work of Brian Michael Bendis.  And more discussion about the concept of naive cynicism.  It could well be very frustrating for those who have to participate in this conversation via comment threads (or brought it up in the hopes we would stop talking about this kind of thing) but there are some surprising turns in here, I think. 37:01-50:10:  The first of three things Graeme really wants to talk about this week: (1) Zombo by Al Ewing and Henry Flint (currently appearing in 2000 A.D.), which also includes praise for Stickleback by Ian Edginton and the amazing art by D'Israeli, and Dandridge by Alec Worley and Warren Pleece. 50:10-54:41:  By contrast, Jeff thought he would love Agent Gates, the super powered quasi-steampunk graphic novel parody of Downton Abbey by Camaren Subhiyah and Kyle Hilton. 54:41-1:14:14: The second of three things Graeme wants to talk about:  (2) Stormwatch #19 by Jim Starlin.  Graeme is perhaps not so pleased.  We also end up talking a bit about The Inhumans over at Marvel and openly pray for the return of HEX (which probably isn't usually referred to in all-caps like that but it gives you an idea of our fervor.) 1:14:14-1:14:49:  Intermission One!  (And what is probably my current favorite of Graeme's stinger tunes for us.) 1:14:49-1:24:04: Graeme has been on NPR! Jeff has left a glass of water in the next room! And Graeme's third thing he really wants to talk about this week:  (3) Marta Acosta's She-Hulk Diaries. 1:24:04-1:37:52:  But Jeff, all he wants to do is talk about Giant-Man.  Giant-Man, Giant-Man, Giant-Man! 1:37:52-1:46:53: And Graeme reminds Jeff that Avengers A.I. which is coming soon. And then we spoil Age of Ultron #3.  (You're welcome.)  Also included in the conversation (and filed under "Stuff Jeff doesn't know until Graeme tells him"): Marvel's next event and the death of Formspring.  (I actually had just a comma there originally since I thought there might be more to the list, and was tempted to leave it just so it would look like the title of Marvel's next event was "The Death of Formspring.") 1:46:53-1:56:41:  "Jeff, tell me about a comic you liked!"  Jeff's answer?  Season Five of Mad Men.  Includes the phrase, "the Thor vs. Hulk of my heart."  Bonus topic:  What do we read comics for?  (And for extra credit, guess which one of us really hates that question.) 1:56:41-2:14:07:  Graeme read DC Showcase Presents: The Flash, Vol. 4, so we get to talk more about Carmine Infantino, as well as Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, our favorite things about Infantino's art, whether Neal Adams destroyed comic book art, Dave Cockrum, and more. [Note: Jeff mistakenly says Dan Day at least once here when he means Gene Day. Oy.] 2:14:07-end:  Closing comments! Apologies, promises, blood oaths, and so the cycle is complete.  And lo, the cycle shall start again!

It's possible (yes, really.  Highly possible, even) that this podcast is already on iTunes.  But, as always, we make it available here for your delectation.  Are you not delectated?

Wait, What? Ep. 120: Beat Up

Oh, and don't forget to check out Abhay's thoughts about Scarlet #6, or John K (UK)'s thoughts on Robert Aickman, or any of the other material by people who don't have to read the coattails of a talented and charismatic Scotsman.   And, as always, we thank you for listening and hope you enjoy!

Long Live The Levitz: Grading Paul's First 6 Months On Both Legion and Adventure

I'll say this for Paul Levitz: He's got an amazing fast learning curve for making comics work. Or, at least, half of one. When LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1 debuted six months ago, I admit to being disappointed by a script that seemed more expositional than enjoyable, and more predictable and awkwardly-paced than my (admittedly rose-tinted) memories of his 1980s run on the title would've led me to believe. But now that #6 is out, it feels as if the old magic is back. Oh, there've been some teething troubles, and a lot of the first six issues feel like the work of someone stretching muscles for the first time in awhile, and seeing how old clothes fit, to mix metaphors - There are plots that seem to flip between issues (That Earth Man as Green Lantern thing didn't really seem to go anywhere, and Saturn Girl stealing a Time Bubble to... not travel through time with... was also an odd moment - Not to mention the fact that Titan's destruction in the first issue seems to still feel like a dangling plot at best, or gratuitous at worst), and familiar threats that were introduced and dispatched so quickly as to feel weightless retreads (Darkseid's followers were surprisingly weak, and presumably laying groundwork for something down the road), but each issue has been a significant improvement on the one before. #6 in particular - A split issue, with two main stories and a one-page introduction to the Legion Leadership Election that reminded me more than anything of Mark Waid's letters page from his last relaunch of the book - offered up the best balance yet of characterization, plot and just plain cohesion that the series has seen yet, and something on par with Levitz' last run on the book.

(It helps that this issue is illustrated by guest artists Francis Portela and Phil Jiminez; for some reason, Yildiray Cinar's work is much more hit-and-miss on the series than I'd expected, based on other work I've seen of his. Perhaps it's the inking? But Portela and Jiminez both offer up solid work with personality in #6, and it really helps the story, I think.)

Weirdly, though, while Legion has been improving each issue, the same sadly can't be said for the companion run in ADVENTURE COMICS. It's not that the Superboy and The Legion: The Early Years sequence Levitz and various artists are offering up are bad, per se, more that they seem scattered and not necessarily fulfilling either their potential or purpose. Levitz has talked in interviews about these initial issues of Adventure as being created in response to a conversation with Geoff Johns about the lack of an entry-level book for the Legion, and in one sense, it works on that level - You get to see Superboy in the 30th Century for the first time, you get to see the origin of the Legion - but on another, it really doesn't. For one thing, the stories happen out of order: You get the early Legion in the first issue, then the current Legion remembering the origin of the Legion in the second, then the third issue presents an even earlier Legion than the first, before things settle into some kind of order for the next three. The worst part is, each of these time jumps happens without any kind of signifier for anyone who doesn't already know their Legion, just as stories that are shout-outs to existing Legion continuity happen without full context, so that they only really make sense to existing fans (Like this week's #520, which is about the "death" of Lightning Lad, and ends with him still in stasis, without any explanation about how he got out - Something that won't be followed up on anytime soon, considering the book jumps to "contemporary" Legion continuity with #521); some issues read as if they should be accompanied by a reprint to help you understand what's going on in the larger scheme of things. Even if each issue had a satisfying story in-and-of itself, it'd still fail as an introduction for newcomers, and will undoubtedly make for a very disjointed, disorientating read in collected format.

Again, it's something that seems to be addressed; starting with the next issue, the series is dropping the flashback format and starting to act as companion to the regular Legion book, with the Green Lantern subplot taking over for a couple of issues before Phil Jiminez jumps on and the series becomes, essentially, Legion Academy: The Series. There's something unusual about seeing problems in both books being dealt with so quickly, I have to admit, and something weirdly old-fashioned about the notion. Have I just gotten used to creators sticking to their guns even as readers jump off books in droves? Possibly, and that's both a depressing and telling thought. But, for now, consider the first six months of Levitz' third reign over the Legion to be a slow ramp from Okay to Very Good on Legion of Super-Heroes, and a slightly-less impressive uneven swing between Eh to Okay on Adventure. But what, as the man says, do you think?