Wait, What? Ep. 129: Idol Speculation

Wait What Punk photo waitwhatpunk_zps1cb5bdd6.pngA nifty piece of fan art from the crazily talented Adam P. Knave. Thank you, Adam!

We are back!  To do that thing to your ears that you insist you like!  (Really, you like it? Really?)

After the jump -- show notes!  That thing I do to your eyes that...maybe is helpful?  Even the way I do it, maybe?  Join us!

(Ugh, I'm so old: looking at photoshopped me with those shoes, I'm all, "Man, I look like Bob Fosse!"  Sad, sad, sad.)

0:00-18:54: Greetings! Apologies! Alternate theme songs! Prepping from SDCC!  Graeme tells us what kind of stuff he's looking forward to -- and, equally as important, dreading -- at this year's Con.  Also covered: the upcoming geek lifestyle program brought to you from a somewhat unlikely source; Blair Butler and more. 18:54-29:34: Is Marvelman coming back at this Con?  Will anyone care? Will Jeff be able to get halfway decent prices for his copies, or has he entered the greedy speculator phase of his comic reading career far, far too late?  Also, Jeff unburdens himself about his shady contribution to Internet discourse.  And that leads, in its odd way, to discussion of the latest Marvel event and the new Inhumans series. 29:34-41:34:  And that leads to us talking about Gaiman's changing credits on Guardians of the Galaxy, DC being less bitchy in public than Marvel, but still doing stuff like cutting Ales Kot loose from Suicide Squad. Is DC trying to bring back its Silver Age in the worst way possible?  Or do they just not know how to grow creators? 41:34-50:14:  Compare and contrast:  Graeme has read the two collections of Nick Spencer's Ultimate X-Men and has some things to report back on that experience.  He also read the Superior Foes of Spider-Man, also written by Nick Spencer.  Since Jeff hasn't read Morning Glories and Graeme has, Jeff grills Graeme about the A-B-Cs of N-I-C(k). 50:14-57:49:  Whoever had 49:10 in the holiday pool for when Jeff would want to start talking about 2000AD, pick up your winnings at Window No. 2!  We talk about Laura Sneddon's excellent article about Zenith, Hillary Robinson and Chronos Carnival, and giving Jeff a chance to vent about his obsession with the Leonard Zelig of the comics industry, Michael Fleisher.  And just as we talk about one of the best pieces to happen to comics in the last two weeks, things go a bit pear-shaped, leading us into… 57:49-58:10:   Intermission One! 58:10-1:04:54: Where we were?  Oh, right.  One of the best things to happen to comics in the last two weeks?  That would be Jim Steranko joining Twitter.  Are you following @IamSteranko?  You really, really should. 1:04:54-1:11:01:  Neither Graeme nor Jeff attended the Image Expo. Did that keep Jeff and Graeme from talking about it? Oh my, no. 1:11:01-1:17:53: What do Game of Thrones, Dead Snow, and The Fantastic Four have in common?  And what does all of that have to do with The Boys?  Jeff has a hurried, stammery story that will connect the dots for you! 1:17:53-1:30:14:  And to continue from that last talking point, Jeff (a.k.a., Mr. Up-To-Date) finally finished reading all of The Boys by Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson, John McCrea, and Russ Braun (who Jeff, because he is daft, refers to as Dan Braun at least once, much to his shame now). Spoilers ahoy! 1:30:14-1:52:01Batman, Inc. #12!  What'd we think? JLA: Tower of Babel! Which one of us has only now just read it? The second Prophet collection!  Which other one finally read that and what'd they think?  Bandette and Batman '66! Did one of us read them and love them, or did both of us read them and love them? The Private Eye!  Who's going to sound like a douchebag talking about the new they discovered to read the latest issue by Brian K. Vaughn and Marcos Martin?  Pick up your pencils and begin.  You will have slightly less than twenty-two minutes to complete this part of the exam. 1:52:01-end:  Closing comments! Promises to return that hopefully will not sound hollow to thy ears! And, of course, Exclamation points! Exclamation points for everyone!!

Um, what else?  I just saw Pacific Rim today.   I wasn't the only one  weirded out by how much that Australian dude looked like Geoff Johns when he put his baseball cap on, was I? No?  Just me?

Anyway, it was far from a great movie (like I don't even think there's bus service between where Pacific Rim ended up and a great movie) but it worked for me.  I had an okay time with a few minutes of genuine nerd joy.  Weirdly, it reminded me of Battleship, another so-very-far-from-great movie, that also spent most of its running time trying to justify its own premise and really was entertaining when it wasn't being terrible...the difference being that Peter Berg is just a tourist in nerd town and Guillermo Del Toro owns, like, a third of the shops there.

I mean there weren't enough fights in the city for my tastes, and I don't know how you can put Charlie Day in a movie and make him yell all the time and have it still be dull (because I think Charlie Day yelling is like one of the funniest things in the world). But, you know. As a bargain matinee on the big screen? Enjoyable.

Oh, right!  The podcast!!  I knew I almost forgot something!  It'll be on iTunes soon, it's in our RSS feed, and it's right below.  We hope you listen and enjoy!

Wait, What? Ep. 129: Idol Speculation

I Am Truly Happy That SAGA v2 is Being Released Tomorrow

This is partly twitter-bait (since the headline's here auto-post under my "personal" Twitter account), but man I really owe you a full post of just how well SAGA v1 sells for us.  I was sorta holding out for the end of the month, where I'll have the half-year of what's selling at CE, but I'll spoil the big reveal to note that v1 is now my second-best selling title in the store's history of point-of-sale.  Nearly seven years. It just passed into that spot a few days ago, where it passed the previous #2, THE WALKING DEAD v1.  Understand, that is for sales of TWD v1 OVER THE LAST SEVEN YEARS. Uh, yeah.

What's the most remarkable about SAGA is that it steadily sells even at this point.  When it crossed into #2 position, it was something like 243 copies sold in 248 days -- even at this point, months and months after it first came out, we're still selling 5+ copies a week.

Let me put this in perspective: this simply doesn't happen, normally.  We're generally selling less than 5 copies of TWD v1 or WATCHMEN (our #1 of all time) a month.

It really is the perfect "go to" book of the moment: there's not a person, male or female, older or younger, that's come back to me and said "that sucked!" -- usually it is them coming back and begging for v2!

So, yeah, Thanks so very much to Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples for giving me a comic that I can sell so well!! That's rare these days.




Wait, What? Ep. 119: Watching You

 photo 17e4d393-c4cd-4496-a866-8ba8fe4bd9fb_zpsb20a0bdd.jpg Yup, we talk about Action Comics #18!  And I think...we even have stuff to say? Maybe, kinda?

Behind the jump: show notes annotating the podcast commenting on the industry having one of its craziest weeks ever!  Action verbs! Jazz hands! Psychedelic Superman!

Show notes are truncated again, in part because I am again behind the eight ball, schedule-wise, and in part because I could've puffed out the notes and given away some of the rather amusing twists and turns the convo took...but thought it better to just play as it lays.  On the plus side, at no point do I refer to Stevie Wonder as "Steve Wonder." So, there's that. 0:00-54:08: Right into it as we deal with one of the news-heaviest weeks for comics in a while.  (Indeed, one is surprised we weren't actually taking a week off for a change.)  Andy Diggle officially off Action, Joshua Hale Fialkov exiting two Green Lantern titles, and the rumored death of John Stewart make for one eye-blackening week for DC.  In addition, we wonder about how superhero comics affect work relationships; Dr. Doom and the Internet; and if what we think of as DC is just one era and facet of a much bigger company; Jeff's theory of the curse of comic books; the coming out of Orson Scott Card; and who we would pick to replace Bob Harras. 54:08-1:03:55: Action Comics #18!  The big finale of Grant Morrison and Rags Morales' run on the title. Actions will undoubtedly vary but if nothing else, it gave Graeme and Jeff a lot to talk about. 1:03:55-1:04:15: INTERMISSION ONE! 1:04:15-1:08:30:  But first a salute to all the amazing and strong comics we were able to get our hands on last week!  Jennifer Blood! 2000 A.D.! Daredevil! Justice League! 1:08:30-1:15:08: On the other hand, there was also Constantine #1. Graeme gives Jeff the low-down and insprires some dynamite comic book pitches as a result. 1:15:08-1:38:59:  Neil Gaiman! Angela! Marvel!  (Or maybe more like: Neil Gaiman? Angela? Marvel?)  Plus, as a bonus, Graeme, being Graeme, expresses sympathy for a figure in the situation and Jeff, being Jeff, tries to talk him out of it.  And then there's some talk about Neil Gaiman and Age of Ultron and yakkitah-yakkitah-yakkitah, and then hijinks ensue. I feel compelled to point out that Graeme is especially hilarious in this section. 1:38:59-1:52:35:  But the good news of the week?  The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin available for download here as a pay-what-you-want comic. We talk about it here, although perhaps more from an industry analysis angle and not nearly as much from a "what a damn fine comic" angle. And as if to punish us for our oversight... 1:52:35-end: Onslaught:  The Return of Techpocalypse! And also closing comments.  We don't quite come out and say it in the closing moments so I should point out here:  next week is a skip week due to some bone-crushing deadlines on both our parts.

I got an email from Apple the other week letting me know how their podcast standards were changing and hoo-hoo, boy have I been too scared to even begin looking into that shit!  But hopefully this episode will be up there very soon (if not already).  And!  You can, as always, download from us right here in this very section of cyberspace:

Wait, What? Ep. 119: Watching You

As always, thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy.   We will see you in a fortnight!

Wait, What? Ep. 117: Sometimes Dead is Better

PhotobucketOne of Annie Wu's great covers from the interior of Hawkeye #8.

Yep, it looks like this posting on Monday thing might be our new podcasting schedule for the conceivable future.  I hope it is not a problem for everyone (including Hibbs, who just posted the shipping list a few hours ago, do go check it out and comment.

After the jump: our charming and trying-hard-to-be-respectable old chum--the show notes.

0:00-5:11:  Here's our opening, a bit more truncated than usual, just so we can jump in with the Bizarro talk and humor for children. 5:11-11:41:  This is definitely a full spoiler episode for the stuff discussed (although as Graeme points out, a lot of the stuff under discussion have discussed and spoiled by the mainstream press).  And although that sounds like the perfect lead-in to our discuss about Batman, Inc. #8, we actually end up talking a bit about Channel 52, DC's spoilery back-up feature currently in all its books, Dan Didio's writing which leads into Graeme's discussion of... 11:41-18:46:  the latest issue of Legion of Super-Heroes, by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen.  Graeme makes it sound pretty amazing, let's put it that way. 18:46-22:26: Graeme has also read Action Comics #17 (which Jeff read last week) and Graeme is far kinder about the work than Jeff was. 22:26-32:24: And so by comparison and contrast, there should be a discussion of Batman, Inc. #8  starting here…but instead we give a shout-out to Excalibur Comics in Portland, Oregon and grouse a bit about the Constantine preview currently popping up in DC books. 32:23-49:13: And then *finally* we get to Batman, Inc. #8.  A lot to talk about here, with Graeme bringing the hard questions and Jeff bringing the jabber. 49:13-1:05:55:  Also, in another round of DC Catch-Up, Jeff read Batman and Robin #17, that strange book that bridges the Morrison and Snyder sides of the Batverse, and what its future might be post-Batman, Inc. #8. 1:05:55-1:08:40:  Getting away from the Big Two books, Graeme and Jeff are both pretty enamored of Jennifer Blood, issues #22 and #23. We are very careful not to spoil any of the very big things going on in this book, but they are pretty darn good. 1:08:40-1:18:18:  Saga #10!  Although we start off by saying we will not spoil the end of Saga #10--Spoiler!!--we totally go on to spoil the end of Saga #10. 1:18:18-1:22:21: Jeff really liked issue #34 of Prophet, since he feels that Simon Roy really bring the "Space Conan" vibe to the issues he works on. 1:22:21-1:33:26:  Graeme and Jeff are apparently really out of the swing of answering questions, but we do have a few things to talk about that have been brought up by commenters in our threads recently about craft and intention and clarity. 1:33:26-1:42:37: It's been a while since we've digressed to cover other areas of pop culture, but Graeme has a recommendation for Jeff: The Following.  What does the show have to do with DC Showcase: World's Finest, The Strangers and Bad Machinery, both from Oni Press ?The answer may surprise you! (Probably not, but, hey, you never know…) 1:42:37-1:45:21: Jeff has a recommendation in his very-late-to-the-party kind of way.  If you like your comics in digital format, David Boswell has put up (nearly) all of Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman on his website for "pay what you like" downloads. Even Heart Break Comics, the amazing original graphic novel from back in the day (1984?) is available, and they're all fantastic. 1:45:21-end: Speed round reviews! From Jeff:  Witch Doctor Mal Practice #4, Black Beetle #2, Flash #17, and Avengers Assemble Annual #1 by Christos Gage and Tomm Coker.  Graeme has things to say about Brandon Seifert's other work, the excerpt from The Fictional Man, Al Ewing's latest novel, Angel & Faith #19, Young Avengers #2, and Hawkeye #8 by Matt Fraction and David Aja.  Do we also mention Hook Jaw?  Of course we do!  Also, we thank those who have supported this podcast by sending Jeff digital copies and other materials -- a topic about which Jeff was quoted in this article by Todd Allen over at Next Web -- and if you listen at the close at the ending, you can hear how Jeff COMPLETELY misunderstood what was happening at the beginning. That's, like, some serious circularity, man.

Okay, so since this is getting posted at the same time I upload to iTunes, there's a chance it's not out in the wild yet, but you can find it below, ripe for the plucking (I'm not the only who finds that phrase a little on the obscene side, am I?):

Wait, What? Ep. 117: Sometimes Dead is Better

As always, we hope you enjoy and thank you for listening!

Wait, What? Ep. 98: Gorilla With An Eyepatch

PhotobucketGorilla with an eyepatch/ I know, I know/ It's really serious... from Boom!'s Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman

We are creeping ever-closer to magic number 100, as you are probably aware.  But, hey, why fixate on the future?  There's every possibility the world could be thrown into cataclysmic upheaval, giving rise to a world of intelligent rifle-wielding apes that, as here, look cooler than all hell.

So let's just pay attention to where we're at, and what's happening now, and also...show notes!

0:53-3:53:  Some tough work engagements for Graeme this week!  Let him tell you about it.
3:53-11:23:   For example, Graeme talks the Siegel-Schuster lawsuit and the recent article written about the Schuster side of the lawsuit.  For those of you who like Mr. McMillions when he's having ambivalent feelings, these seven and a half minutes are for you.
11:23-19:48:  And then in this corner... Rob Liefeld vs. DC, just weeks after aggravating Marvel's editors. Are you on Team Rob or Team Big Two? (Or is there no Team Big Two?)
19:48-22:41:  And then one of those wacky tech problems pop up and necessitate a call back.  Minor slight delay and then minor chitchat about the Internets.
22:41-38:18: Back to Rob Liefeld vs DC:  Graeme talks about why this story will blow things open wide for DC, while Jeff is not so sure.  It moves into a conversation about emotional attachments to creators, companies, and concepts.
38:18-42:28:  Challenged about what comics can be read in five minutes, Jeff talks briefly about the twelfth issues of Flash, Batwoman, and Wonder Woman, and compares them a bit with Batman, Inc. #3.
42:28-49:08:  Also, Jeff has lots of good things to say about the Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes trade paperback with gorgeous art by Gabriel Hardman (see above) and a strong script by Hardman and Corinna Bechko.  As an Apehead who's late to this book, I have to say it's pretty darn great.
49:08-56:26: And as we are on a recommending roll, Graeme recommends the first issue of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee's Rocekteer: Cargo of Doom.
56:26-1:05:04:  And then, just to keep the balance, Graeme reviews Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1.  He... is not pleased. The phrase "eye-bleedingly bad" may end up being used.  A bit of stuff about BW: Rorschach is included for your enjoyment.
1:05:04-1:14:08:  Also under Graeme's four color microscope, Amazing Spider-Man #692.  (Jeff requests you ignore most of his comments in this section as they are even more befuddled than usual. Thx.)
1:14:08-1:37:21:  Invited to talk about stuff he's read and liked this week, Jeff declines and instead chooses to complain about...movies.  More specifically, Captain America The First Avenger which is on Netflix Watch Instantly. Also discussed: The Bourne Legacy and Battleship.
1:37:21-1:42:30:  Of course, that trifecta of movie cannot help but inevitably lead to Graeme talking about...Bunheads.  Well, sure.  Of course.
1:42:30-1:54:22:  And then, because somehow we end up out of time, we mention more comics we also find noteworthy SAGA #6, Fatale #7, Batman Inc. #3, Mind MGMT #4, and Glamourpuss #26.  Also some speedy head-scratching from Jeff about the Butcher Baker blow-up.  What does it mean to be a critical darling? Is there a "tastemaker" for comics on the Internet?
1:54:22-end:  And here is where we open up the question to you, our listeners:  have you ever bought a book based on something we said?  If so, what and how'd it go?  Who are the people in the comics blogosphere you consider tastemakers?  We want to know!  So you know...sound off in the comments, please.
Maybe this auditory apparition has haunted the forlorn witch-house called iTunes, perhaps not.  But you can cross the streams, so to speak (not recommended, I know), and also listen below:
And, as always, thank you for listening!

Wait, What? Ep. 91: Trip

Post1 Okay, super-super short here as I am in the process of, even now, packing and panicking like a full-fledged fool in preparation for the upcoming vacation to Portland. (And, yes, if it is not a waffle-filled one, I will be very, very pissed.)

We actually talk a little bit about that in this episode so I won't bore you with it now.  Instead, I will bore you with a fast list of the things Graeme and I talk about in good ol' ep. 91:  a long discussion about Casanova 3.4; Zaucer of Zilk by Brendan McCarthy and Al Ewing; Matt Howarth, Lou Stathis, and Those Annoying Post Bros. (from which the above image has been lovingly nicked); why the song remains the same; copied characters, satire, and analogues; the point of a first issue in modern comics; Spider-Men #1; that old Parker luck and the Spider-Man movie franchise; the evolution of Marvel's edgier heroes; Saga #4, Avengers Vs. X-Men, and more!

It's....probably on iTunes?  In fact, hell, let's just go ahead and say yeah sure it's definitely on iTunes.  But let's also make an amazing leap of faith and say that it is also right here, just below, and available for your listening pleasure:

Wait, What? Ep. 91: Trip

As always, we hope you enjoy and thanks for listening!

Ten Things: SAGA

It's the periodical-type comic I'm most excited about right now-- SO, THAT MEANS 10 THINGS about SAGA by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, human beings who work for or with or under the name of Fonografiks, and Eric Stephenson; copyright Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples. There are SPOILERS because it's the internet and spoiling life is what we do here.

(P.S. two weeks in the "10 thing" conceit is already falling apart! Two weeks, it didn't even last. But ... oh well, "10 Things" still sounds better to me than "boring rambling mess because Abhay is too lazy to try to write essays lately". Other ones can't be this long because the whole point of doing this was to not do something long; I'm going to spend 5 minutes on the next one; sorry about this one. Feel like I get a little pompous in this one, too, like I guess I do sometimes aka all the time; sorry about that. Or I'm too complimentary, and six months from now that book could just go completely into the toilet and this'll all be completely embarrassing-- or let me rephrase that as "more embarrassing" because ha-ha, writing about comics on the internet, whee. But. You doing okay? I don't ask enough; I hope you're doing okay. Anyways, let's get into character...)

The plot of SAGA is ... Well, I don't really know how to complete that sentence with too much certainty.

So far, so far, it's been a story narrated by a baby, about the baby's parents, on the run. But: is SAGA the story of the baby or the story of the parents? The baby is narrating so how long do the parents live? Could the parents die at any moment? Could the comic skip ahead 15 years next issue and show us the baby's teen years, if it wanted to? I'm going to wild, wild guess the comic ends with the baby-character being an adult who has her own kid-- everything inbetween though I couldn't even begin to guess; still is totally up-for-grabs.

What's remarkable isn't that all of the moving parts feel so colloidal after four issues-- a lot of other comic creators pad their fucking comics; that's not remarkable at all. It's that it's so easy to imagine the version of what I'm describing that doesn't work, that feels slow, aimless, adrift, and yet ... "FAMILY ON THE RUN" and the total confidence of Vaughan's voice, that's been enough so far. I went in to SAGA with that chip on my shoulder of "everybody quit vamping, learn how to cut from panel to panel, old comics had reasons for putting a lot of narration or expository dialogue, and you not knowing or acknowledging what they were doing makes you ignorant, not sophisticated, i read manga you're not manga"-- but with SAGA, haven't cared yet, anyways. They can take their time; I'm in.

It's worth noting that I haven't really dug Vaughan as a comic writer before SAGA.

EX MACHINA lost me early-- when the politics kicked in, it had the reek of Aaron Sorkin to it, of Sorkin's desire to write about politics but by bullshittily ditching everything truly political and replacing the political with its exact opposite, the romantic. Maybe it got better later on, though-- yay, criticizing serial comics.

And sure, Y THE LAST MAN? Again, not my book-- I had an Uncanny Valley problem of just constantly sitting there going, "Nope, that's not how the world would be." What an asshole! I was That Guy. But it started with a question of what the world would be like if all the men died, and almost immediately, had the main characters battling homicidal lady-hobos or... something. If all the men died, women would become homicidal hobos, right away, like lickety-split...??? Damn, ladies, damn. Maybe that's what we'd find out if some of you fellas passed the Bechdel test more often, the Secret Hobo Fantasies of the Fairer Sex.  Y THE LAST MAN certainly persuaded me as to Vaughan's skills with a cliffhanger, but I was less persuaded by his skills with extrapolation which seemed of a more paramount importance with that book's premise.

And so, SAGA. And yes, I've noticed those of you not persuaded by SAGA, complaints that it echoes occasionally certain deficiencies of those earlier works. Vaughan's sensibility sometimes leans cute-- I don't think SAGA is actually a cute book, but SAGA has enough surface cute to be fooled about that. The way he names characters, sometimes-- that. Plus, Vaughan's dialogue leans to a "geek-friendly" style which sometimes reminds of Joss Whedon-- I don't mean that as a compliment. The desire of the clever to show off their cleverness, to celebrate it, lacks much appeal, suggests a lack of anything deeper, greater, richer than clever.

That pride sometimes bleeds through with Vaughan's dialogue-- it's not as soaked in it as a Whedon thing, but it's there, sometimes, I suppose. So, I note the various concerns I've seen people express with SAGA, and I note the moments in the book that I would guess have caused them those concerns. But I would say that I went in knowing those moments would be there, and knowing that, was more able to move past them and see around them to SAGA's merits...?

Let's stop a moment and note the context that these SAGA comics are being published in.

Posit, for a moment, a fantasy world where you yourself live in a slave state. In this slave state, let's say that... the freedom you receive from your "elected" governments is an illusion allowed to you by the moneyed interests that plainly control them, that the spiritual institutions one might flee to are themselves visibly bureaucracies long corrupted, that even your ability to perceive your enslavement has been eroded by underfunded education systems or for-profit university factories seemingly designed to chain enough debt onto young people to keep them in a state of permanent life-long servitude, that any true discussion of this is drowned in a noise machine whose colors and sounds you are helpless to admire-- a slave state where the only true master, religion, God in heaven is the market, capitalism, the corporate.

Just daydream that fantasy universe, if you can-- maybe get some 20-sided dice, if that helps.  Got in your head? Good. Okay.

Now, quick: devise an escape route.

[Come back when you've finished].

How'd you do? Add 5 points to your score if your escape route included nitroglycerine-- that stuff's pretty awesome. Except... Except: here's the tricky part about all that escape route jive, which I left out, which is the conditions under which you are devising the escape route.

In the slave state I described, do you even want an escape route? If your answer is yes, then understand that desire for an escape route is not special to you because, really, nothing that goes through your head, least of all your desires, is special to you. You're part of this bigger organism of humanity-- whatever you feel, however you hurt, it's the same for everybody. And thus those feelings are only another lever. Industries orient themselves towards capitalizing upon that human longing, just as they do for any other human longing, and your desire to escape the market already long ago just became its own market of distractions, right? Before your parents were born, a market of spectacles. Loud music about "rebellion," sold to you by old men with ponytails. Death stars being blown up by womp-rat-murdering teenagers, sold to you by chinless action-figure billionaires.  Etc.

And so, skip ahead to today, and we have the big corporate superhero film-- multi-national conglomerates selling massive crowds on the Individual that can be unique, can triumph, can escape from even the laws of science themselves. Here comes the market's latest round of the fucking Amazing Spider-Man product-- already!-- that tells the individual that he can be special, special so long as he remains poor and happy to stay poor and "responsible" to the Powered Moneyed Elite that rule over us, OR ELSE "CRIMINALS" WILL MURDER OUR FAMILIES, OH NOES UNCLE BENS. Here are millions spent on another "savior" product, another individuality product, really just another fear product-- at least when Christians were the biggest business selling that shit, sometimes brown people living somewhere impoverished got themselves some fucking soup, but.

And what of that escape route? What are you going to imagine one with? In what condition is your imagination after stories we tell one another, stories meant to communicate, communicate the essential, the transcendent, even the mundane, after those become indistinguishable or less than to the products of "franchises"-- which like the product of any franchise is a product robbed of any nutrition. "This lump of shit is called a quarter pounder. This lump of shit is called Spiderman Beats Up an Old Men Angry About Being Mistreated by Deceitful Big Businesses. This lump of shit used to be Watchmen, once. Bon Appetit." What good's a little tiny old story in a world where goliath franchises stride the earth?

And so into that context, SAGA-- a comic about characters on the run. From what? A space opera universe at war with a fantasy universe-- both of which the parents apparently find unsatisfying, don't want to raise their daughter in. Maybe someday these will resolve themselves into something humdrum (e.g. Vaughan's anxieties about raising children in a world where "science and spirituality are at odds"-- fucking blech), and that'll be the unmistakable way to read that comic.

But right now at least, with that comic still liminal, what the oppressive universes our heroes are fleeing  resemble for me more is the franchise, the narrowly defined, suffocating genre franchise where the greatest crime is any human feeling. Characters who take one look at Star Wars, at Harry Potter or Lord of the RIngs, and turning and running the other way-- I know that feeling because I had it 5 minutes into that piece-o-shit JOHN CARTER movie...

And better, it lives up to any "let's get away from the shit you've seen enough already" theme, texturally. Despite Brian Vaughans' resume, and all the reasons he'd have to think of himself as the book's star, the true joy of the book is that it feels like it belongs as much to Fiona Staple as Vaughan, if not moreso her. It's a science fiction comic-- the art, the design, has to be the star-- (I think the PROPHET comics get that, too, say).  Her character designs, her world building, her fantasy images all feel center stage-- her performance so far has been so... enthusiastic? Maybe she was what was missing with Vaughan before; I don't know. I don't know that I'm even especially in love with how she renders things, even, but it's a performance I'm enjoying watching.

Brian Vaughan could have been a Marvel architect.  He could probably go today and get just about any book at that company he wanted.  Or he could've been one of those people just on-the-margin of that.  And he escaped that, through historical circumstance, maybe through talent.  He was 27 when he gave Marvel the RUNAWAYS. What do you figure that all feels like?  Is SAGA a hint?

Granted, this "escape from franchise" way of looking at SAGA has its own obvious pitfalls. You want to be the guy talking about "then Morrison wrote X-Men comics about how superhero comics had to embrace change then after that he wrote 100 years of Superman and Batman comics then Casanova escaped from genre comics into the real world except in real life oh wait whoopsy-daisy"...? You be that guy; you go do that; best o'luck to you, sir and/or maa'm.

Plus: Image has extra-hard invited its fan this year to flatter themselves for reading their comics, under the delusion that doing so allows the reader a measure of moral satisfaction. Ads bellowing unknown viewers to "embrace" the creativity of pudgy middle-aged men. Image's ads can't say "Embrace Co-creators" because Image partners fuck over their co-creators and end up getting sued, like, on the regular. Fuck it; It's comics-- there's no money; everybody gets paid in self-congratulation.

In a context where the Corporate Character is Everything, what a meager alternative they're selling: "If the Character isn't everything, why then I must be Everything." Ok Cupid photos of schlubs with paeans to how thrilled with their fucking lives they are-- that'll sell books. Characters running from franchises, creators running from franchises-- these are meaningless unless they're running somewhere worth going. "Character goes into the dark, dangerous woods. Then he jerks himself off in the woods. Then sometimes he comes out of the woods occasionally to make some fucking Batman miniseries. Then he goes back in the woods and jerks himself off more. Embrace creativity." My wild guess is that story could be improved on...

(My favorite of the ads shows a photograph of Todd McFarlane, with the following quote: "Once you turn that creative switch on, it doesn't go off 'til you die." McFarlane is shown drawing Spawn, who first appeared in 1992. Tragically, the evidence thus suggests that Todd McFarlane died halfway through 1991. Our condolences. This ad is especially enjoyable if you happen to purchase CREATOR OWNED COMICS #1 which comes with a Neil Gaiman interview where Mr. Gaiman references Mr. Mcfarlane, within the pages of an Image Comic, as follows: "Comics has a solid 80 year history of exploitation of the creators, and one huge legal case to force a publisher to keep promises was enough for me"--!).

My favorite thing so far? The Sextillion.

(Note: this is the # with spoilers in it-- spoiler images so if you're scrolling... scroll both fast as well furious for this one). The Sextillion is a scene at the opening of the #4 where these malformed caricatures of women come to the book's Heroic Man of Action and promise him outrageous sex. Any darkness to the "character visits whorehouse" character beat is defused by Staples-- she hyper-exaggerates the female form, such that the whores are all legs, giant heads. Because that's what comic artists do, after all-- they take the sex characteristics that they obsess over and then inflate those, beyond any point of recognition. The Man of Action hasn't just gone to a whorehouse-- he's gone to a whorehouse that might as well have been run by Judd Winick. Staples does that but without choosing the same sexual characteristics-- invokes the grotesque, without accidentally titillating us with breasts, ass, camel toe, hormones, shame. Staples's approach resembles that Frank Miller took in Dark Knight Strikes Back, his own assault on mainstream comics. Unlike Miller, though: Vaughan/Staples's deformed women seem to build to something resembling a fucking point.

Because at the heart of this whorehouse, its secret, buried desire? At its core is a young girl. Like van candy young.

That at the heart of the desire to malform women, to misshape them, to refuse to see them as human-- to describe what others dismiss as "cheesecake" as not just gross, but pre-sexual, anti-sexual, evidence of a retarded sexuality...? "It made me feel like a 10 year old again," said the Venn diagram overlap of a review of the Avengers and some creepy fucko molesting a little kid. Dear comics: pretty sure Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples just called you all pedophiles. Co-signed, but have a summah.

The other thing I dig about SAGA: it doesn't even have a high concept really.

I mean, maybe you could cram SAGA into a one sentence elevator pitch but you'd be leaving out .. well, everything because you'd be leaving out Staples, right? I don't think that's a small thing because I think of the "Comics with One-Sentence High Concept" to be a thing with Vaughan, a marker of his early career. EX MACHINA was "superhero becomes mayor"; Y THE LAST MAN was "world without men." SAGA doesn't have that. I don't think that's because Vaughan couldn't think of one-- he writes screenplays now; that's part of that gig.

I didn't like Y THE LAST MAN and I didn't like EX MACHINA, but I would never dream of missing the first issue of SAGA because the first issues of Y THE LAST MAN and EX MACHINA were two of the best first issues I've ever seen, technically. From a technical perspective, I'm not sure who has ever written first issues as well as he did, as consistently as he did: everytime, he (1) laid out a concept in its entirety, that (2) seemed like retailers wouldn't have to struggle too much to describe to their customers, but also (3) introduced all of the key characters, (4) told a complete story, (5) most significantly, teased future stories that sounded like they might be pretty interesting, and (6) ended with a cliffhanger for the next issue.

Would Y THE LAST MAN have stuck for people without that first issue being what it was? We've had 10 years of consistent failures from Vertigo after that suggest the answer might be no.

But since those issues were published, I think what Vaughan did with them may have gotten deconstructed, but only in that sloppy way things do. I think Vaughan has been wildly influential, but for comics maybe he'd want to disown if he were aware of them, for that horrid formula of "here's the first issue that lays out some ordinary schmoes, then end with the big cliffhanger that sets out the high concept." Go look at any movie-pitch independent comic.

Let's a pick a specific example because I like being a jerk because no repercussions, thanks internet-- go look at the first issue of that SAUCER COUNTRY comic, from Vertigo. Not a bad first issue-- I like Paul Cornell, I like Ryan Kelly; see above, re Sorkin multiplied by a very, very big number, but not a wholly unlikable thing. But: did you hear an echo of Vaughan in that? Regardless of what it's contents were, the first issue of SAUCER COUNTRY is written the same way a million bad independent comics have been written in the last few years-- first page is nothing interesting happening (how this become a fucking omnipresent feature of modern comics, I have no idea), build to an opening splash, a bunch of dialogue scenes teasing and hinting at some greater story, MAYBE one "action scene," maybe so the creative team can pat themselves on the back about comics not having a budget, and then end on a full-page splash setting out a cliffhanger premise, and congratulations-- you now know exactly what you already knew if you read any of the promotional material, and not one tiny inch more.

That's not just SAUCER COUNTRY-- that's... that's a LOT of "independent comics," right? Is it just me? I feel like that shit is to Vaughan what TWO DAYS IN THE VALLEY is to PULP FICTION.  How much does SAGA reflect Brian Vaughan making a comic responding to years of independent comics that were trying to be Brian Vaughan comics? How much is SAGA to Brian Vaughan what the post-WATCHMEN America's Best Comics apology-comics were to Alan Moore?

Vaughan doesn't seem like an angry guy, in letter pages or what have you, but despite the surface cute... SAGA feels angrier than his other comics. ... Or maybe angry isn't the right word-- upset, anxious, rattled?

The lovey-dovey new parents: by issue 4, the father's admitting to the mother the details of other girls he fucked before her. The Sextillion sequence I mentioned above: that all happens because the Man of Action wants to be dominated sexually. Issue 3: dead kids, butchered kids. The cute robot-magic war at the book's core feels like it's been going on too long to be too adorable; we haven't seen much of the war in SAGA, but from the book's margins, it feels war-crime soaked. Other Vaughan comics I've seen have had violence in them, but they haven't felt violent in the way SAGA has. Whatever its detriments, parental anxiety makes for good comics, I guess.

And if you've read about SAGA, you've invariably heard about the lettering, but yes, yes, the lettering. Vaughan went to Hollywood, but came back from it with a comic book with comic book pleasures to it. Instead of a broken thing.

How often does that happen? Kyle Baker came back different, but Kyle Baker 2.0 (and 3.0 and 4.0) were all pretty great. Besides that... anyone want to rep Frank Miller 2.0 being > Frank Miller 1.0? Some people make a case for Chaykin, and... good luck to them on that. Anyone want to read Neil Gaiman's Marvel comics? It's not a long list.

What interested me by the earlier issues of SAGA is that it seemed like Vaughan came back from LOST believing in the magic of arbitrary bullshit. If SAGA's universe has a lot of rules to it, they're not super-apparent so far, let's say.  And good, fine-- I don't want rules  getting in the way of Staples, of the designs.  And I guess I have to admit arbitrary bullshit works. I watched LOST; I watched stupid-ass BATTLESTAR GALACTICA; I'm watching GAME OF THRONES-- didn't learn my lesson. LOST was a saga of sorts by creators who sure didn't/don't seem very interested in being bound by any system of logic, and who ultimately seemed hostile to having wrap things up with any kind of bow. "Throw Sayid in a pool of water that resurrects people. I know-- the Alien comes from a pool of black water . I have an idea for a sequel to DO THE RIGHT THING-- spoilers, it involves Danny Aiello wading into a pool of water..."

With Y THE LAST MAN, with EX MACHINA, Vaughan's first issues posed "Big Questions" for the series to answer. I think it's interesting Vaughan's first comic after working on that show is not a thing with any great road map announced up front-- no one's asking what's making sounds out in the jungle, or where the island is-- but one more totally committed to Arbitrary Bullshit, upfront. I don't like to admit I like Arbitrary Bullshit, but I just started watching PERSON OF INTEREST over the summer anyway and oh my god it's pablum yaywheewhazoo...

My favorite Vaughan thing was during his Hollywood period, a screenplay he wrote-- used to float around the internet back when screenplays floated around the internet more-- called ROUNDTABLE. ROUNDTABLE was a modern-day action comedy that nailed the tone, the appeal of something like GHOSTBUSTERS: ordinary schlubs, forced to face down a supernatural darkness way out of their league. I thought it was a heck of a good time. The appeal of ROUNDTABLE is the same as the appeal of SAGA, the bedrock appeal, an appeal that other comic creators of Vaughan's generation seem to keep missing: people connecting with one another.

I'm not loving getting older-- getting old sure seems kinda shitty, you guys.  But what I do like, what I have enjoyed is that reveal of things that seem complicated as a younger person becoming boring and things that seem simple becoming more interesting. People getting married? People starting families; people forming communities; people finding one another. It's nice. It's a nice thing. Those things might sound simple, but they're not, they're not terrible things for stories to be about, they aren't undramatic things.

SAGA seems interested in those things, and I don't know I can say that's very common for this kind of serial adventure comic.  They're not subjects that SCARLET is interested in, CASANOVA is interested in, FATALE is interested in, any Mark Millar comic ever, ever, is interested in, any of the lame Jonathan Hickman Image comics I've read recently are interested in (p.s. jes-us, people, come on, COME ON); and so on and so forth.

Whatever escape route you devise, I don't think it's going to work without a team. Unless you can get nitroglycerine-- that stuff's pretty awesome.

Maybe you're saying, "You like SAGA because you're deluding yourself into believing it's on your side in some nonsensical war that exists only in your head," right about now.

I'd cop to that. But I don't know-- that's what great comics all feel like to me...? Is that weird? I was rereading Ann Nocenti DAREDEVIL's and Walt Simonson THOR's these last few months and that's what those all felt like to me back when they first come out and that's what they still feel like me now. I guess that's what it looks like when I dig comics...? Do you do this? I do this.

I guess it's a little ugly, an ugly thing to do, but ... you should see what it looks like with how I feel about 7-11 creme-filled cookies. It looks like me getting fat and dying alone. They're so fucking delicious, though-- the key is that 7-11 doesn't care if you live or die so all the stuff you shouldn't eat if you care about your life, ends up in that creme and making that creme all tasty.

In conclusion, I just want to be pretty, but I'm too weak. Awwwww.


Not next week but anyone have a preference what to cover, when I do another one of these? I've read a lot of Image books-- if anyone's got a preference on one of those, let me know. Should I be reading anything from anyone else?


You can buy SAGA #1 through #4 (and beyond) at Brian's digital shop if you don't have a comic store in walking distance-- there's previews and stuff, too.  Contrary to anything you might have heard, I assure you that at least as far as I know, none of the money generated will be going directly to human trafficking. I can almost very nearly maybe guarantee-ish that we're running a human-trafficking free operation, so if you hear otherwise, those are probably, probably just vicious lies, probably.

Wait, What? Ep. 87: Tiny Yellow Boxes

Untitled It's funny. I keep thinking we're going to hit our "proper" hundredth episode any minute now and we're still only eighty-something percent of the way there. (It's probably the high-weirdness of having 145 entries accessible on iTunes that's throwing me off...) But we will get there!

Yes, neither rain nor snow nor sleep, nor screwy Skype, nor half-maintained hardware, nor early morning airport visits, nor crazy screeds by prominent webcomic cartoonists where the phrase "we won!" really means, "stop harshing my mellow," can keep us from our appointed rounds...unless we decide to take a week off.

Whatevs: we have a two hour episode for you, full of complaints about some of the above, but also delightful discussions of Reverse Aquaman, Saga #3 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Avenging Spider-Man #7 by Kathryn and Sturart Immonen, the history of kitty cats, Saucer Country #3, Wolverine by Jason Aaron, Bakuman, Batwoman, Watchmen Toasters, the fabulous oral history of DC's Countdown to Final Crisis over at Funnybook Babylon, The Zed-Echs Spectrum, Thor, Thanos, fanfic, Fraction, Bendis, and the perennial favorite:  more, more, more.

It is on iTunes (let's assume for the sake of argument) but it is also here, for you to download and listen to, and to raise as if it was your very own child, albeit one that chatters on endlessly and never really seems to hear what you say (yes, very much like your very own child, indeed!):

Wait, What? Ep. 87: Tiny Yellow Boxes

And as always, we hope you enjoy and we thank you for listening!

Wait, What? Ep. 83: As Good As A Feast

Lovely Hoo boy.  Did not think I was going to make this particular deadline.  I won't bore you with the blah-blah-blahs, but let's just say: papa needs a new microphone and he needs one bad.  I apologize in advance for all the not-especially-discreet cracking and popping going on at various points in the background of this.  We are maybe two weeks away from a solution to both it and the mild echo chamber effect that's afflicted us ever since Graeme managed to transcend this corporeal realm.

Buttttttttt, anywayyyyyyy... Gotta keep this short and snappy so lemme just say this:  Wait, What? Ep. 83 is two hours and twenty-seven minutes long, and Graeme and I do not spend all that time trying to remember if the boss at the end of Crazy Climber was a gorilla or not!

No.  Instead, we do our best to cover a lot of lost ground by jawing about Iron Muslim and Zombies vs. Fanboys from Boom Comics, Kirby: Genesis, the current state of comics and the comics internet including Chris Roberson quitting DC and David Brothers' amazing article over at Comics Alliance, Before Watchmen, Grant Morrison, Brian Bendis and Avengers Assemble #2, as well as the Oral History of the Avengers.

Also?  The eighth issues of Wonder Woman Justice League, OMAC, and Batman, Casanova #3, The Shadow #1, The Boys by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, Alabaster Wolves, Saga #2, Archie Meets KISS, Prophet #24, more issues of Glamourpuss, and much, much more.

This show was pretty late making its way to iTunes, but if it's not there yet, it will be there soon.  But even so!  You can also listen to it here and now if you would prefer.  Behold:

Wait, What? Ep. 83: As Good As A Feast

As always, thanks for your patience.  I gotta go jump through hoops for the next ten hours or so, but we'll have more for you next week--and, of course, thank you for listening!

The train keeps rolling: Hibbs' 4/11

Christ the truck with the NEXT batch of comics will be here in just an hour or two, I best get started writing....


Though, actually, like the latter example, I had some real problems with the set-up as presented: COULD a society evolve the way they posited?

Here's a factoid for you: there are more dog owners in San Francisco, then families with school age children -- and SF proper doesn't have a high birth rate (I think it is one of the lower in California), with what looks like just about 8k kids born annually in SF county. Since the book posits every child in any state of in utero in SF being born "instantly" and overnight, and with superpowers, we might assume this being 9/12ths of that annual number, or something along the lines of SIX THOUSAND super powered children, all the same age.

So, how do you convince parents and/or the kids to do this for what feels like a few years in the story? Since they were 13 maybe? I don't think it spells it out exactly? Certainly long enough to build a giant stadium that appears to connect to Alcatraz island (!) -- though, really how they do that and not devastate shipping into Oakland, I'm not entirely sure...

I don't know, I think if I'm 13 years old, I'm not so inclined to use my awesome superpowers to fight my peers, actually -- I think we (since what 13 year old doesn't think they know better) use it to set ourselves up for something better. Sure, SOME kids go along with it... but anywhere near the majority?

And even those? When they start using robots with live fire against us?

Jonathan Ross' writing is crisp, and Bryan Hitch's art is as nice as ever, but it would seem to need to be some other check or balance going on here to have even the slightest chance of this working as posited. Ultimately, that breaks my Suspension of Disbelief, and made me think this was merely OK.


SAGA #2:  Well, I liked the second issue here even better than the first one, so that's a good sign. I really liked Alana's willingness to sacrifice her child, rather than giving it over to the freaky topless spider-chick. Yeah, this is VERY GOOD comics, I think.


SECRET SERVICE #1:  Mark Millar is hardly subtle, but I thought the neat class juxtapositions here, coupled with the thinking about government austerity programs and the "super spy" was actually a fairly trenchant piece of social commentary. Doesn't hurt to have Dave Gibbons drawing it, either. VERY GOOD.


Ugh. three books? That's all I have time for, and two of them are only semi-reviews? Sorry... but I need to check in this Baker & Taylor box before the truck arrives with the new Diamond books... more on (I hope) Thursday, getting me more recent...

What did YOU think?


Wait, What? Ep. 79.2: Power of Ones

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App Hey, guess who did it wrong?

Yeah, I had an incredibly busy Wednesday and it wasn't until my head hit the pillow that I remembered I'd forgotten to upload this podcast.

And create this entry.

So, despite my fond reveries about providing extra content and blahblahblahblah, that will probably have to wait until next week because, well, I'm tired and dumb.

But I wasn't (entirely) when Graeme and I talked now comics for our conclusion to Episode 79!  Nope, I was more or less lucid and we reviewed the latest issues of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Faith, Frankenstein, Agent of Shade, Batwoman, and a whole mess of first first issues including Saucer Country, Crossed Badlands, Saga, Avengers Assemble, and of course Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man (which I'm sure some of you were unfortunate enough to realize from the above excerpt).

"A candy-colored clown they call iTunes tiptoes to your feed every night just to sprinkle podcasts and to whisper "Go to sleep, everything is all right."


Wait, What? Ep. 79.2: The Power of Ones

As always, we hope you zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Hibbs says "Heeellllo 3/14's comics!"

Two weeks in a row, yeah, baybee. AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #1: Yeowch, that was rather poor. Part of it is just how inconsequential the story felt (and part of that is having the stupid "Zodiac" characters as the antagonists... ugh, have they EVER been interesting?), part of it was the need for "Marvel Continuity" to now reflect "movie continuity" (despite the fact that this kind of material DOESN'T BRING IN A MEASURABLE NUMBER OF NEW READERS from the films to comics), so we've got "Dumb Hulk" running around here (And I think Bendis totally doesn't "get" his voice, sorry), despite that not being the Status Quo in the Marvel universe, or in any currently published "Hulk" comic, oops. I guess this entire comic is a spoiler? Weightless, flabby, and, of course, $4 for the privilege. Ew, this is absolutely EH work.

CROSSED BADLANDS #1: Gahd, what a horrible title. Well, at least Garth's back on the book he created, but I seriously think that this comic isn't sustainable 24 times a year, and that by June we'll be selling under half of what we might sell of this first issue. Anyway, it's Crossed, and it's Ennis, and so it's filled with all kind of depraved stuff you can just hear that naughty little boy giggling over, and while I like it, I don't really love it, and it's effectively an anthology series now, so we'll see what happens going forward, but for now: I like it, but don't love it. OK

FANTASTIC FOUR #604: I strongly liked this issue, even with it's fairly heavy Deux Ex Machina (even if that's an established plot point) -- I like it's message of Hope and family, even if I'm not exactly sure why the plan worked, or even how it got came up with or anything like that. Still: GOOD.

LUTHER: Hey, not at all a print comic, but Mark Waid's free "proof of concept" for his vision of Digital comics, where you advance through it with the arrow keys.  I liked the story quite a bit, but there's something that's not quite "comics" to me about the whole process.

Sometimes it is overt, like the panel where the shovel suddenly appears in frame, where I think "well, that's just animation, just only two frames, isn't it?"; sometimes it's more covert like all of the times where Waid is actually controlling the reading experience by forcing when balloons or panels actually appear.

I think that comics are, in some ways, as much about time and space as anything else, but all of those elements really should remain in the hand of the reader -- it's my choice if I want to read all of the captions on the page first, or which elements of the illustration I choose to believe are the most significant and deserve my focus.

One last consideration is that this story is all of 33 panels long. Just over 3 pages, if it was a Watchmen-style 3x3 grid. (This is, of course, a stupid thing to say -- if this same story was told on a print page, even if it was 3x3, the rhythm of it would be ENTIRELY different; this same story would, of necessity, be a different size and shape) And while it was a well told and reasonably engaging story, I can't really see spending (let's say) 99 cents for 33 panels of comics.

Having said that, I did very much like the story, and judging it entirely on the basis of the content, I'd call it GOOD. Sadly, it also has the tech issues, and those distracted me, rather than drawing me in, and that reduces my grade, ultimately, to an OK. Still, can't beat the price, go give it a read.

SAGA #1: Now this, on the other hand, I loved.  So much so that we've put a copy is (almost) every subscribers box and are offering it 100% money-back guarantee. "Star Wars meets Game of Thrones" is the easy log-line, but the more important thing is the characters are rich, the world intriguing, the dialogue crisp, and the art really swell. There's kind of this weird "MOONSHADOW" vibe going on with the narration, but, thankfully, without the hippies. Either way, this is a wholly wonderful start to a series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, and I thoroughly recommend this book as one to read. EXCELLENT.

SAUCER COUNTRY #1: Hrm. On the one hand, I find a lot compelling in here (especially the ghosts [?] of Pioneer 10), on the other hand I'm not sure that the lead thrust of the book is adequately established. It's weird when the supporting characters make more of an impression than the protagonist. I'll most certainly give this another issue (or two) to grab me, but this first one didn't GRAB me all by itself. I want to give it a low GOOD, but I'm having a really hard time actually doing so... it's more like an extremely high OK.

SECRET HISTORY OF DB COOPER #1: Here's the thing: the charm of the title rally depends on you know WHO "DB Cooper" is, and based on a bunch of informal polling virtually none of my customers do (Or, perhaps, some do once you explicitly say it to them -- "oh, yeah, I've heard of him"), which means that a huge chunk of the high concept is immediately swept away. The second problem is that this issue kind of just stops, and I could not, if you put a gun to my head and forced me to jump out of an airplane with $200k, tell you whatsoever what the premise of this book ACTUALLY is, other than the vague notion from the title. There just isn't anything here to get me to come back for issue #2, I'm sorry, which is the only real goal of a first issue. So: I liked what I read, and I liked the surreal concepts I saw, but I don't know why I would spend $4 for it exactly, or why I would want to come back for #2, unlike SAUCER COUNTRY which intrigued me JUST enough to say "Sure, give me another dose". So, yeah, this is merely OK, despite my enjoying the ride as I sat on it. I'd just never stand in line for a second go, y'know?

SHADE #6: I hate this comic because the art from Javier Pulido is SO good, and yet I don't give a single wet fart about any of the not-Shade characters, or what the superhero situation in Barcelona is, at all. It's "The Atlantis Problem" for me (I care about Aquaman and Namor; I DON'T care about "Atlantis". I care about Black Bolt and Medusa; I don't give a fuck about "The Inhumans". I very much love Wonder Woman; I'd rather like the street clean than read about Amazonian culture or what the Greco-Roman gods are doing in modern America. And so on). Y'know, I think that STARMAN worked because Jack was a fine "everyman" of a protagonist; and Shade was a TREMENDOUS foil/friend for him... but I think I only care about Shade in the context of Jack's world, because every issue I sit down, eager to read, and I walk away feeling "Man, that was just OK"

WOLVERINE AND X-MEN #7: Have I said this already? If every Marvel comic was at least as good and dense and humorous as this, then maybe people would be happy to pay $4 for it. But because so many Marvel books just aren't worth the four bones, nowhere enough people are buying this book in my store, and there's this (wrong, so far, in this case) feeling like you can't just read "one" X-book. Well, you can, and it should very much be this one -- it's action packed, it's hilarious, it's incredibly energetic. Jason Aaron is one of the very few writers in comics that I can think of that seems to be able to equally handle "dense, gritty narrative" and "light-hearted romp". I love Nick Bradshaw's art, too -- it's got this nice Art Adams-y thing going on without being derivative. This is probably my favorite superhero comic being published today, and I thought this issue was VERY GOOD.

That's me, this week -- what did YOU think?


Wait, What? Ep. 73: Thicker Than Forget

Photobucket We didn't even come close.

Don't get me wrong--we certainly tried.  But give Graeme and I more than four dozen questions with an amorphous time deadline and you're not going to get the bulk of those questions answered even with us putting in two and a half hours to get it done.  [Though we do so at the expense of Haruki Murakami's 1Q84: if you are currently reading that book, please skip over the 20-25 minute section of the podcast to avoid some ship-sinking spoilers.  (Sorry again, Luke.)]

So consider this Part 1 of our answers to your questions, with Part 2 to come next week.  If we go to Part 3, I give you permission to begin hunting us as the most dangerous game.  (Although, really we're a far cry from that: I'd say I'm about on par with hunting sloths or maybe opposums, and Graeme might be at the level of a squirrel, though the squirrel might be rabid, maybe.)

The Ancient Prophecies foretold this episode would be found in the land of iTunes. But lo, also shall ye find it here:

Wait, What? Ep. 73: Thicker Than Forget

As always, we thank you for listening, and for your questions, and for your patience.  We hope you enjoy!