Wait, What? Ep. 104: Zero Point Now

PhotobucketJohn Byrne really, uh, bringing it in Alpha Flight #6

Yeah, that's....mmm, boy!  Good ol' John Byrne, amirite?

Anyhoo... the adventure that are the shownotes for our podcast: right behind the jump!

0:00-2:48: Introductions and a bit (just a tad) of shop talk, complainy bits, and a promise from Graeme (that last phrase sounding a bit like a British pop song, eh?  For some reason, I imagine Seal singing it but that's probably just me.)
2:48-6:31: The talk turns to the early days of Morrison's Doom Patrol and even the issues just preceding.  Can you guess Graeme's secret shame before he confesses?  Hint: It'll surprise you! [Second hint: the first hint is totally worthless and can just as easily be ignored.]
6:31-30:13:  And today's surprise read from Graeme's magical library system:  John Byrne's Alpha Flight!  Graeme has fond memories of it.  Jeff has the kind of memories that should be set to the pocket watch music from For A Few Dollars More (or the harmonica music from Once Upon A Time in the West, take your pick).  Lots of discussion of Byrne from that era ensues, including Superman and Fantastic Four.  Also, Jeff attempts to recreate an Alpha Flight issue from memory. He's a clown! Come and listen and point and laugh!
30:13-30:35:  Intermission Prima!
30:35-31:46:  "And we're back."
31:46-50:21:  News and weather! (Without the weather!)  Graeme lets Jeff in on the latest development on the Siegel & Schuster heirs' court battle for the Superman copyright.  Also covered (and not really in any way that's germane to comics) the folding of Newsweek as a print media publication and what's going on with old and new media.  If you need it to tie into comics, we do mention a series of related Doonesbury strips.
50:21-1:01:42:  Back to comics! Jeff gets cranky about the blindly upbeat reception to the first issue of IDW's My Little Pony as a possibly overheated market should worthy of consideration and caution (especially from the comics press).  Jeff also has his panties in a bunch about IDW's Mars Attacks event--mistakenly, as it turns out.  Fortunately, Graeme is there to straighten Jeff out.  Unfortunately, Jeff is sufficiently without shame he has decided to leave his mistake in rather than savvily saving face via the "select and delete" option.
1:01:42-1:02:02:  Intermission Seconda!
1:02:02-1:02:56:  "Welcome back."  Man, Graeme is really on top of it this episode, isn't he?  I'm well aware of how fortunate I am to work with him but still...wow.
1:02:56-1:21:31:  Comics!  Graeme is very much liking Season Nine of Buffy and quite likes it.  We spend a few minutes talking about Archer & Armstrong #3 and how we are actually...digging this Valiant relaunch? Like a lot, I guess?  Very strange times we live in.  Other comics under discussion:  Justice League #13 by Geoff Johns and Tony Daniels (and on a related note--is Jeff Lemire having one helluva year in comics or what?)  I could tell you how this leads into our discussion of Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky but what would be the fun of that?  And Graeme once again is on point here, talking about the influences of Grant Morrison's Kill Your Boyfriend and this leads into a great little tangent: Graeme's personal Criterion list--movies he thinks everyone should see.
1:21:31-1:30:00:  And so Graeme talks about the experience of seeing all the very different versions of Beauty & The Beast out there: the Cocteau version, the Disney version, the TV show from 1988 and from now.  (Do we take the moment to talk about the classic Ann Nocenti scripted miniseries Beauty and The Beast featuring Dazzler?  And The Beast?  We do not.)  Also, Graeme has read Bandette: Tales of the Urchins and we have not.  However, we can check out the two page preview which is complete in and of itself here.
1:30:00-1:40:01:  Marvel Now! Point One--Graeme has read it and tells Jeff about the high points, low points and in-between points.
1:40:01-1:53:51:  Jeff's turn!  Because we are sort of running late, Jeff speeds through his impressions of Batman #13; the Shonen Jump Alpha Starter Pack, over 300 pages of digital manga you can pick up for free; the third issue of Godzilla: The Half-Century War by James Stokoe; re-reading Zaucer of Zilk by Al Ewing and Brendan McCarthy via the first issue reprint from IDW; Bakuman Vol. 15; and King Cat Comics and Stories issue #73.
1:53:51-end:  Closing comments, and plans for next ep! (Hint)
Whew!  That will keep you busy for a while, yes?  Perhaps you have already run over the podcast in your fine German car on the autobahn that is iTunes.  If not, we invite you to spend time idling here at der kleineshausdassWaffelngebaut (or, roughly translated: the little house that waffles built):
As always, we hope you enjoy and thanks for listening!

Hibbs' some of 5/18

It looks like Graeme and Jeff and I are now playing Chicken again.  Which of us will blink first?  

(duh, me!)


ALPHA FLIGHT #0.1: Ugh, seriously? We're now attaching fractional numbers to numbers before #1? Given that a rational person might think "Ah, this will be about who Alpha Flight is, and what they've been doing since the last time we saw them", but no, it isn't.


Let's see if I can make my own version of a "0.1", then?

Alpha Flight is a reallyreally weird team. They had those great cameos in those Byrne/Claremont X-Men, and everyone thought they wanted more, but then it turns out that no one really has any good ideas for STORIES with them, just the sketched out concepts sound good.  Even John Byrne himself didn't have the slightest idea what to do with them when he launched a solo series.


That series astonishingly lasted for 130 issues despite it really never having much of a direction or voice, which is why they keep trying to bring it back -- the problem is that very few people who read any of those 130 issues are reading comics today.


Marvel's latest solution to the Alpha problem is somehow rebooting the team, mostly -- we're pretty much back to the "original" cast, with even Mac Hudson back from the dead... and Heather is there by his side, too. I have a vague recollection of this happening during... "Chaos War", was it? but I'm utterly fuzzy on the details, but there's no, zero, none, zilch explanation in this comic of how (OR WHY!?!?!?) they resurrected a 20-something year dead character.  I could see THAT being a compelling story -- you've been DEAD for 20 years, not just frozen in ice or "presumed missing" or something, but actually deceased, how is that dealt with by the government, or your team mates, or society.


But there's nothing like that here, and, actually, these characters are all portrayed as complete and total ciphers -- you're expected to KNOW who they are and WHAT their backstories are supposed to be... even those those appear to be mostly the backstories of older incarnations of the characters. The only one with half a personality is Northstar, and his half is "he's a jerk, but a loving gay!", which... well fine, whatever.


Anyway, I think that who this comic is aimed at is "fans of John Byrne's Alpha Flight, but not fans of anything he DID with those characters" which is actually really probably fair enough when you think about it, but is not a well coveted demographic, really, but I guess it could work somehow?


So, yeah, no personalities, just page after page of each member running off to become Alpha Flight (and, no, "... and this one is actually a meter maid; no one likes meter maids!" isn't actually a personality!), then they fight the some silly enemies in the most illogical manner ever. First up half the team fights some generic "anti-government FANATIC in an adamantium exoskeleton" who isn't espousing any kind of understandable political position that I can ascertain, and he's beating them until... until... untillllllll.... man, I don't know what happens at that point -- Marrina says "come with me, LAND MOLLUSK", then Shaman has swirly things around him, but "Citadel" doesn't seem to be confined or in any trouble, in fact he's just spouting off more, and then they vaguely cut away from that team and the enemy with no explanation of what happens next.


Next,  it's Purple Girl, who was once a member of Beta Flight, and she's the daughter of the Purple Man with the mind controls and everything.


PG here, mindcontrols the crowd to form a giant person out of people, and, erm, Alan Moore stories notwithstanding (if you're going to steal, steal from the best!), that wouldn't actually, y'know, make any forms of propulsion or combat or anything because mind control doesn't *actually* change the physical laws of our universe or anything. But, whatev, lets go with it.


Finally, Snowbird comes along and Purple Girl can't actually control her mind because Snowie shapeshifts a bunch and "Gahh - transforming too fast -- too many minds -- can't-- " and kapow that's it -- but that's not how I understand PG's powers to work, but ah, whatevs!


The giant made out of people... well, we don't know what happens there, they didn't show it, but presumably it falls apart, and several people fall many stories to their deaths, but whatevs!


Alpha then poses for a picture, despite most of them not actually doing a thing here. Anne-Marie has her legs spread. No one mentions the other fight they had, or what happened to Citadel.


Then, suddenly there's an inset panel at the bottom of the group shot where Marrina (I think?) inexplicitly starts shouting that she's an alien, and "BITE ME, EARTH MEDIA!" Wait... what?


We cut away from that from-nowhere outburst to re-establish that Northstar is a good gay and he kisses his boyfriend, but uh oh, he forgot to vote. I think what they mean to imply by the final shot is that Gary Cody is the new... well, I'm guessing Prime Minister of Canada, but it's not actually made clear anywhere in the text what he's running for, so it could be Ottawa Dog-Catcher for all I know, but it actually looks like he's just finishing the speech he's started at the beginning of the comic, and not actually won an election, so I don't really know for sure.


Wow, lousy lousy comic. CRAP.



INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #504: That may be the most violent comic book I've read since that issue of Miracleman where KM destroys London while he waits for MM to return. Gross. Also very effective in actually conveying that horror, which is rarer than rare in a crossover issue, but, still mostly gross. OK


ROCKETEER ADVENTURES #1: Look, there's absolutely no reason whatsoever to try and do "more" of Dave Steven's fun little character... but IF you're going to do it, then doing it with John Cassaday, Mike Allred and Michael Kaluta is probably the way to go. Not one of those stories was of an particular weight or consequence, yet I very much enjoyed looking at them all. Pretty pretty stuff. Fluff, too, but sometimes pretty wins. GOOD.



IN the "I don't have anywhere else to put it" department, I want to publicly boggle at the Giant game of Telephone that the internet is.


Whenever a new tilting comes out, I always spend a few days googling "hibbs tilting" and "latest results" looking for blogs and message boards I don't normally read, but even I am kind of shocked by Comic Book Resources.


A member over there took the latest tilting and decided the point of wisdom to glean from it was to decide what books should be cancelled right now. He posted threads in both the Marvel and DC sections of CBR's forums that were "WHAT SHOULD BE CUT RIGHT NOW!" and linked to the column.


People then start posting, without, I believe, reading the underlying column.


4 or 5 pages into the DC one a user from Sweden says

"I dont care at all for some american comic shop owner and that he want to sell more of the big superheroes. I enjoy many of the smaller dc comics and if they were cancelled i would vote with my wallet,punish dc by buying less Batman type."


the next reply:

"I still don't see how canceling a bunch of books is going to help anyone other than this guy who doesn't seem like he can even run his own store."


the Swede again:

"Exactly but he isnt a reader who wants a good story no matter how small or big a comic is. He just cares about selling, he doesnt need smaller,acclaimed series for that."


Which is almost exactly the direct opposite of everything I think and believe, stand for, and present in my store... wrapped up in one comment thread. Yay Internet!




As always, what do YOU think?




So, Ben showed me his first real signs of higher intelligence yesterday. We got him some blocks a month or so ago, and he did a lot of the "raking claw" and mostly just knocked them around the room. Which is cool, and all -- he's still a baby.

But for the last week or so, everytime I've played with him I've tried patiently to show him how to stack the blocks. Didn't really work, he mostly showed interest in knocking down the stack, flinging the blocks all over the room. This might have been because he was so excited he couldn't control his fine movements, but I was starting to despair that he wasn't figuring it out.

Anyway, I'm reading last night, and Ben is playing in the living room, and I popped my head out every few minutes to check on him, and what do I see? He's sitting quietly, in the middle of the room, all alone, happily stacking and unstacking his blocks, gently grasping them and carefully placing them on top of one another.


Here's some comics from this week:

JLA #103: "Everyone Cries" continues. This time, John Stewert cries. Apparantly everyone up at DC has forgotten that JS already cried a bunch considering he was responsible for the death of an alien planet, but, hey, that's OK, I guess, isn't it? ISN'T IT? Eh.

LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #182: "War Games" part 2. There's some running, and some shouting, and lots of gunfire, and I can't really keep all of the characters straight, but that's OK, I guess, because it's just act one, and half of them will be dead before this is all over. But on the bright side, this is polybagged with a CD, and the extra pound of shipping costs per 3-4 copies doesn't have a credit issued to retailers, and our sales will be cut because the stupid things are bagged, and you probably can't find a mint copy... wait, that's not good, is it? Eh.

NIGHTWING #96: "War Games" part 3. Probably should be called "The Adventures of Tarantula, guest starring Nightwing", but who am I to complain? I like the info dump scene where Dick finds out stuff we already know, but, structurally, it should probably have happened before the halfway point, y'know? I'm not a big fan of these kinds of crossovers, can you tell? Eh.

GREEN ARROW #41: "War Games" part... wait! This isn't a "War Games" crossover... which is funny, because the plot looks almost exactly the same. Planning! At least this one is easier to follow... OK.

PUNISHER #10: "War Games" part... nah, that jokes not funny a second time. Hell, it wasn't funny the first time. Loathsome people being loathsome, and lots and lots of cursing! I liked this better when it was a comedy... Eh.

LEGION #37: I'm still not at all sure what anyone's motivation or reasoning here is, but Karate Kid and Timber Wolf came off pretty cool. Eh.

ACTION #818: Hitting! Shouting! Exploding! It's all action, all of the time! Supes acts like a big jerk, and no one thinks twice about it, and I keep flashing back to Kingdom Come and thinking "We've forgotten the cautionary tale, already?" It's hard to picture a universe where this is worth two-dollars-and-fifty-cents, isn't it? It took me, maybe 120 seconds to read this. 2 cents a second? Now that's a deal! Awful.

BMW's THE HIRE #1: This also took almost no time to read, but the difference is, it was at least a complete thought, had several vividly drawn characters, as well as a contemporary plot. This Matt Wagner kid can really draw, he might be going somewhere! On the other hand, it's sorta a commercial (even if the car doesn't actually exist), so I can't be as enthused as I might otherwise be. OK.

DC COMICS PRESENTS: THE FLASH #1: Two cute uses of the cover image, but there's nothing woodmaking here. OK.

ALPHA FLIGHT #6: Comedy super-heroes don't really work -- at least not as a team book, because everyone needs to be in on the joke. The worst part is how badly Marvel missed the bet -- there really is an actual audience for a good AF book. We sold like 40 copies of #1 in 3 days, and by issue #5 we're down to like 11. I can't imagine this is going to make it past the first year, can you? Hell, Marvel's even tried to disassociate it from the X-Men line (It's now a "Marvel Heroes" book), which is smart, because this is Awful.

X-FORCE #1: No, Liefeld still can;t draw, but it looks K3wl, and it has lots and lots of scratchy little lines, the kind boys like! Having said that, actually, this wasn't as horrible as I thought it might have been -- the plot lurched forward adequately, and it probably is what people want. Have fun, people! Eh.

AUTHORITY #14: The "last issue"... except that it's going to be rebooted by Brubaker is like 2 months. Have we learned nothing from Star Trek, people? If a concept if dying/dead, you should take a WHILE off to recharge the DESIRE of the audience for it. Six months, a year maybe -- Authority V3 #1 isn't going to sell any better than V2 #14 when it's coming out in October, fercryinoutloud! Anyway, this was slop -- revenge revenge revenge with a slight (and cynical!) attempt to be uplifting there on the last few pages. Too bad the Coup D'etat concept when nowhere... Awful.

TEEN TITANS #14: Solid, if non-exceptional, superhero stuff -- as an attempt to give Gar an "Arch Villian" it seems to work fine. Let's call it a low Good.

HULK #75: Except for all of the "The Helicopter will just fly itself!" stuff, I kinda liked this -- certainly better than the first 3 years of Jones' run. Darick Robertson's Hulk is kinda fun looking, too. Call it a high OK.

BLOODHOUND #2: I really quite enjoyed this. Good solid police story set in the DCU, with strong characterizations, a "gritty" hero who actually seems complex, and nice art. It won't make it past issue #12, though. because I think we sold all of 7 copies of #1, and that's not a big enough base to decline from. Gotta give this a chance though, folks -- I thought it was a very solid Good.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #30: "At the (thanks) of Batroc"? Even Kirkman can't make Batroc seem like an even slightly credible threat. Sheesh. Still, while it's the Chinese menu syndrome ("I'll have the Red SKull from Column A, and the Serpent Society from column B"), I enjoyed this enough to give it a low Good.

CHOSEN #3: Hahahahahaha! I know Lester will bag on this, but I liked the "twist" at the end (though I figured it out around page 5) -- I sorta want to put up a "spolier warning", but now that you know there IS a twist, you know what it is, right? Anyway, this isn't great comics, no, but at least we can't make Ultimate Jebus jokes any longer. Good.

And that's it for today. More later, as I read them.....