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!

Wait, What? 56.2: Let's Go Backwards When Forward Fails

Photobucket As our old pal Reid Fleming used to say: "Ungawa!"

We've got the gripping ninety-two minute finale of Ep. 56 available for you, with Graeme and I talking Action Comics #1, G. Willow Wilson's Mystic, the Wolverine: Debt of Death one-shot, IDW's G.I. Joe: Cobra series, Kirby Genesis #3, our worries about the conclusion to X-Men: Schism, and a pretty sustained discussion (which will come as no surprise to long-time listeners) of Casanova #3 by Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba.

In case you have no need for this thing puny hu-mans call "iTunes," you are hereby formally invited to listen to our fine audio programme right here, should you so choose:

Wait, What? Ep. 56.2: Lets Go Backwards When Forward Fails

And as ever, we thank you not just for listening, but also for the fine comments you contribute here at the website and at waitwhatpodcast [AT] gmail.com.  It is greatly appreciated!

Wait, What? Ep. 51.2: Nothing and All

Photobucket What's that saying? "A day late and a dollar short?" The Early Bird Gets the Podcast Entry?" I don't know...something like that.

In any event, the rousing conclusion to Wait, What? Episode 51 is here with Graeme and myself talking X-Force #12, Captain America and Bucky #620, Witch Doctor #2, Walking Dead #87, Criminal: Last of the Innocent #2, Kirby Genesis #2, Dan Slott's Spider-Man and Paul Levitz's Legion of Super-Heroes, and -- believe it or not -- more.

Itunes? Why yes, it's there (or should be) but it is also very much here, ready to be listened to and perhaps even loved:

Wait, What? Ep. 51.2: Nothing and All

As always, we hope you enjoy it and appreciate your patronage!


KIRBY: GENESIS #1, by Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross, Jack Herbert, Vinicius Andrade, Simon Bowland, with characters created by Jack Kirby, published by Dynamite Comics. This was just an impulse buy for me.  I think there was a #0 issue before it, but I didn't buy that. I don't really know what the deal is with this series-- I didn't read any interviews or promotional materials for it; I kinda knew that the pitch was "Kurt Busiek writing about unused Jack Kirby characters", but that was much as I knew-- or heck, still know. I haven't even listened to the new WAIT, HELLO-- IS IT ME YOU'RE LOOKING FOR? podcast where it's apparently discussed.

I just remember liking a comic with that same "Busiek writes Unused Kirby" premise that he and Keith Giffen had done for Topps's Kirbyverse, called VICTORY. Do you remember the Kirbyverse crossover VICTORY? It's understandable if you don't. Only one issue came out, with a cover date of June 1994.

(Tangent-- The Topps Kirbyverse was one of a dozen "superhero universes" launched a week after the success of Image and Valiant, and a week before the entire market went completely to shit.  The Topps Kirbyverse, the Milestone universe, Dark Horse's Comics Greatest World, the Malibu Ultraverse, Bart Sears's Brutes & Babes-verse, the Quesada-Palmiotti ASH-verse, the second (and better!) Fabian Nicieza-edited Valiant universe i.e. the Birthquake-verse; there was one "universe" that I always wonder if I made up, that I can't find any hint of on google, where all the superheros got their powers from a lottery...?  There were more superhero universes launched in the 90's than human memory can hold.

Everyone who works in comics now is hellbent on bringing the 90's back-- crossovers, title gluts, gimmick character deaths, gimmick costume changes. But who will stand up and say "I shall be the hero who brings the Brutes & Babes-verse back to comics." I feel like when that person rises up from our midst, it's going to be a lot like the final chapter of Frank Herbert's DUNE.)

Having not read the promotional materials, I don't know if VICTORY and KIRBY: GENESIS are linked in any way-- though there is this Busiek quote from the Wikipedia entry on the Topps series: "Victory was a crossover, bringing together all the established Kirbyverse characters and reintroducing Captain Victory."  Consistent therewith, KIRBY: GENESIS #1 flashes an array of Jack Kirby characters, 99% of whom I didn't recognize, until finally concluding with the reintroduction of CAPTAIN VICTORY.

I don't remember anything about VICTORY other than (a) Keith Giffen drew it in that 90's style of his-- the cool PUNX one (Birthquake-verse forever, you guys!) not the less "commercial" TRENCHER one-- and (b)(1) that I liked it and (b)(2) that I was super-bummed there was never an issue #2. That is everything that I remember.

Besides the appeal that this may be a book that's been marinating in some cobwebbed node of Busiek's brain for the last 17 years, and the curiosity factor that has, here's what my experience of KIRBY: GENESIS was like:

1) As the comic began, I despised it. I hated the main character. I hated the world the comic was set in.  I hated what I perceived it was telling its audience. I hated the storytelling.  I thought it was just terrible.

2) As the comic ended, I was totally entertained, and totally on board for more.

I guess how I explain that is that I ultimately enjoyed KIRBY GENESIS because I was receptive to how its structure played to my conservatism.  Because it starts with everything I hate about Modern Comics, but as it proceeds, all of that hateful shit gets pushed aside as the better, more colorful, more fun Comics of an Earlier Era invade that awful reality.  I like to think this was intentional, maybe even obvious-- again, I haven't done any "due diligence" so maybe this is something about the comic everyone already knows and is taking for granted... But take a look at those first 6 pages:

(1) I spent a long time staring at the main character and asking myself, "Is that supposed to look like Jay Baruschel on purpose?" (Note: Jay Baruschel is an actor from She's Out of My League, Undeclared, and Knocked Up).    This is why I can't stand most of the "big-name" artists in comics right now-- there is nothing about photo-referenced actors in comics that I don't loathe. I'm sure someday a comic critic will rise that will set forth a sterilng essay defending this practice-- but that essay will probably be like Frank Herbert's GOD EMPORER OF DUNE, in that I will never read it out of total disinterest.

(2) I spent a long time staring at page 3 of KIRBY: GENESIS which featured a lift from the SCOTT PILGRIM comics. I love SCOTT PILGRIM but seeing anything reminiscent of SCOTT PILGRIM in anyone else's comics, especially anyone older than Bryan O'Malley is... not a good feeling that I want to describe to you using words instead of drawings of frowny faces.

(3) Jay Baruschel breaks the fourth wall to addresses the reader and tell them what a fucking loser he is. Despite being a loser, there's a female character who loves spending time with him...? I've become very suspicious of this kind of material-- no other word for it than suspicious. I just spent the first six pages of this comic suspicious that it was presenting this very noxious idea that pretending to be a pretty girl's "best friend" so that a relationship can somehow be perpetrated onto the poor girl is something that decent guys do, instead of assholes. Internet commentators  refer to this move as the "Nice Guy" move and they are not kind about it; see, e.g., XKCD's depiction of the Nice Guy. Modern comics... I want to say that I can think of recent comics that communicated dull "this hero is a nerd just like you, dear fans" messages in a way that struck me as being pandering. I want to say those exist. But maybe the comics I'm thinking of are like Frank Herbert's BONER VIXENS OF DUNE, in that they regrettably don't actually exist outside of my imagination. (Oh shit, man, that's entirely possible -- no specific examples are coming to mind tonight, at least...)

(4) The caption boxes are filled with dull nonsense about school slogans. At the end of the six pages, even the caption boxes are sick of themselves-- quote:  "I'm sorry, am I babbling? I'm babbling. I do that when I don't know what to say."

And (5) NOTHING cool happens for the first 6 pages. Nothing cool at all.

(Tangent-- Oh wait, I almost forgot-- the 90's also had the Tangent Universe, if you want to count that one, an "experiment" by DC in giving brand new characters the same names as old, iconic characters, none of which caught on.  There's an analogy lurking here to be made, but ... ).

Those first six pages of KIRBY GENESIS are a laundry list of things I am most snide about in Big Two comics right now. Until... until the Kirby characters show up. Then, all that shit stops, and the comic turns into a blast. Because it's a COMIC BOOK again. Suddenly, there's no time for Jay Baruschel and his shitty life because some lady is screaming out "You're in the presence of a Galaxy Green Apprehension Squad." Yay! And the lady from the Galaxy Green Apprehension Squad doesn't look like Pam Grier-- she looks like a fucking comic book character instead! Yay! No more attempts at pretending to be hip and young just by doing nothing else but imitating SCOTT PILGRIM. Yay! There are still caption boxes but now they have things like "An unknown codex, found in a viking treasure hoard on the Orkney Islands in 1914" in them. Proper comic book bullshit! Yay!  Old comics values save us from shitty modern comic storytelling!  Yay!!!


I like that the theme is there, on a "tickles the brain" level, though I guess I'm a little embarrassed that I enjoyed it so much, that I was so receptive to it.  What I'm describing is too conservative to get much glee out of without any hesitation. The Vaunted Past vs. the Decayed Present is a manipulative meme worth being suspicious of.  And... I, uh-- I got a little older the other day, and I've been... I've been anxious about my advancing years lately.  Like-- just anxious.  It's a silly thing to be anxious about because... It's not like I have any say, or any control over the whole aging matter. I mean, I'd greatly prefer to say that I try to  subscribe philosophically to a "time is an illusion of the senses" philosophy-- I think that'd sound way, way cooler than, you know, being anxious about arbitrary dates on calendars invented by people I've never met.   But nevertheless, the whole time / aging "thing" has been weighing on me, I guess, even though... Even though I think I'm having a good year actually, knock on wood.  It's just-- age and time, you know?  What a motherfucker that shit is, huh?  I guess this review is kind of about that actually because "old styles  triumph over new styles" isn't a theme I'd probably have been okay with trumpeting before, and so it kinda bothers me that I am now and... And yeah, this paragraph's not one I intended when we started this dance; just started rolling downhill here, guys, but... But shit, 17 years between VICTORY and GENESIS so it was probably going to come up... 17 years, dude...

There's other reasons to like the comic, though:  (1) Jack Kirby sure could make up a character, that fucking guy. KIRBY: GENESIS doesn't seem to include Skanner or Alexander the Greatest, nor the CAMAFLOUGE CORPS. Not yet, at least, though fingers crossed. None of the characters go to Jack Kirby's SCIENCE FICTION LAND, the theme park Kirby designed to help free hostages in the Iran Hostage Crisis. There's a lot a person might hope to see in future issues, with the comic.


If this comic ends with HIDDEN HARRY murdering Jay Baruschel, there will be NO END to our celebrations, you and I. Consult the final chapters of Frank Herbert's KEY PARTIES OF DUNE, to find out what I have in mind.

And of course, (2) if Busiek & co. reminding people about Kirby could also somehow remind them of what was essential about Jack Kirby, remind them how this type of comic is always going to be at its best when filled with people spitting out as many bullshit ideas as they've got in them, if it can remind them not just of the surface of his life's work but the lessons of it as well, well, hell-- maybe that'd be another debt we'd all owe, another debt to the guy we'd never repay.

Wait, What? Ep. 46: Sympathy for the Mephisto Analogue

Photobucket So much time! So little to do!

(Wait a minute. Reverse that.)

It's the latest episode of Wait, What? wherein Graeme McMillan and yours truly talk about those comic books what need talking about: Wolverine #9; Flashpoint tie-ins The Superman Project #1 and Reverse Flash #1; James Robinson's JLA; Earth X; Green Lantern Mosaic; Kirby Genesis #1; Steve Englehart's Captain America and much more. You might even discover the true identity of that cute little tyke up there.

It should be available on iTunes by now, and it is also the sort of thing that you could be listening to here and now, if that's the sort of thing that kung-pao's your chicken:

Wait, What? Ep. 45: Sympathy for the Mephisto Analogue

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

Burble Burble Burble, Hibbs fufills a promise to review

I said I was going to review, so here's a few quick hits. I've been spending a lot of time this week on the back end of the site, you'll notice some of the real estate has changed. That "uncategorized" number will shrink over the year as I go through the older, blogger-era posts (sheesh, we have nearly 2000 posts here at this point!), but the tag cloud will really only be utilized properly going forward from here.  

If you have any mechanical/aesthetic suggestions for the site, now is the time to do so.


Putting that aside, what stuck with me in the last two weeks?


PUNISHERMAX #14: I wrote up #13, but #14 compels me to speak again. Jason Aaron has found this astonishing sweet spot to tell the origin of the Punisher that neither directly involves 'nam nor that fateful day in Central Park. I had thought that all veins of the Punisher were as mined out as could be, but Aaron has found a genuinely new place to get us into Frank's head that feels resoundingly realistic to this reader. What's great is just how well Aaron has mastered the language of comics here (ably aided and abetted by Steve Dillon) -- at least I'm assuming that all of the awesome scene transitions and juxtapositions are in Aaron's script. The story is centered around what must be Stock Punisher Cliche Story #1: Frank's in Jail! and yet at no point am I thinking "Damn, been here before". This is possibly the weirdest recommendation coming from MY lips, but I think that this book is one of the five best appearing on the stands "monthly" these days, and, certainly and BY FAR the single best title that Marvel is publishing today from a perspective of craft. This is seriously bravura work on this storyline -- Eisner level work, in spite of the character -- and should be selling 4 or 5 times what it is currently. Flat out EXCELLENT.


FEAR ITSELF: FEARSOME FOUR #1: Is really everything that Graeme said in his review, but, damn it, he didn't bring up the fact that half (or so) of the issue is drawn by two wicked awesome illustrators: Michael Kaluta, and Simon Bisley. And each of those sections are gorgeous looking (for wholly different reasons). I mean, talk about two tastes that don't even remotely go together -- soaring, delicate fine linesmanship of Kaluta bouncing against the explosive putrid grunge (and, hm, I mean that in a good way) of Bisley. There's a third artist involved (Ryan Bodenheim) who looks like the same artist that drew the last Howard mini (or was it a one shot? It blurs) in that strange small-bill version, but Kaluta and Bisley are drawing the "real" Howard (mostly). I wonder if it is now more important or less important at Disney HQ that HTD properly looks like Donald? Serously, there could not be a more jarring looking book that makes no visual sense of any kind, but you have to admire the king size stones of an editor that's commissioning pages from such disparate sources and thinking for a second that it might work. It's really and truly an AWFUL comic to try and read, but as a curious-ass artifact of how comics are made? I'll say GOOD. This is something ten years from now you'll kick yourself for not having this issue.


GHOST RIDER #0.1: For a "and this is how Ghosty becomes a chick!" comic, I thought this was remarkably entertaining (even though the chick-ing comes in #1, I think, and this is just a way to get Johnny Blaze to not be Ghosty any longer) (is it just me, or is this a really short second run for JB?) -- even though I wouldn't want to hazard a guess if the series to follow this might be any good or not, since it won't be about these characters. I had low-to-no expectations here, and, yeah, I thought it was a low GOOD.


KIRBY GENESIS #1: As you will recall I was so-so on #0, but I thought this one was a tremendous comic. Part of it is that the Kurt Busiek that is writing it is the "Astro City Kurt", and the choice is made to squarely focus on the human character. I know that Jack Kirby's worst ideas are probably more compelling that many guy's best ideas, but I'd generally suggest there's a reason that most of these concepts on display didn't go anywhere. I mean, the market has had a few chances to decide it didn't want Silver Star, right? I really didn't care much about the JK characters running around, and yet I still thought that KIRBY GENESIS #1 was the best comic I read the week of 6/15 because of the human heart centering it. So, yeah, a strong GOOD.


AVENGERS #14: plot-wise, I dunno, it's really just a bunch of punching, but I thought that Bendis was really smart here by counter-pointing the big stuff with the little-insets-of-oral-history-interview technique that I've previously thought was kind of cloying. This time it worked pretty well, as Romita JR really does excel at the two-big-guys-punching stuff -- it is just wonderfully kinetic -- while the insets let the pacing to work out so that it isn't a 30-second read. I don't find a Worthy-fied Thing nor a Red Hulk at all compelling, and I kinda moaned when the new Avengers Tower came crashing down (plus, like, how does it have force fields that can protect the people inside, but not protect the building itself? Buh?) since that just seemed so cliche, but this was a rare issue of AVENGERS that I thought was (if on the lower end of) GOOD.


OK, I have to get back to editing old posts, and getting ready to go into work... what did YOU think?