Wait, What? Ep. 112: A New Dope

PhotobucketWasn't able to find Ditko inking Kirby, but here's Dan Clowes inking Ditko! Ganked from Robot 6 and elsewhere...

Okay, and so but here is our latest episode about which I will provide you with more detail after the jump!

Sorry for the rush, crew:  running a little late (when aren't I?) and haven't quite figured out a way to do the show notes for the Q&A that didn't involve a ton of formatting inside the WordPress entry which is a bit of a headache so pardon me if I just start in, yes?

0:00-3:56: Greetings are exchanged!  Apologies are made!

3:56-13:56: Superior Spider-Man #1!…is a thing we are talking about.  Comic talk so early?  It can happen! Dreams can come true, it can happen to you, if you're young at heart.  Something I didn't think we would complain about?  Superhero fight scenes.  And there may or may not be subliminal messages via distant dog barking, I'm not really allowed to see.

13:56-20:21: Also, through the largesse of a Whatnaut, Jeff was able to read New Avengers #1 by Jonathan Hickman & Steve Epting.

20:21-23:31: All-New X-Men #5!  One of us liked it; one of us didn't.  To say more would give away….The Prestige! (I don't really know what that means, but it was remarkably enjoyable to type.)

23:31-46:39: Answering questions? Will we ever? Maaaaaaaybe, but we decide to talk about other books we read this week: Graeme has read Action Comics #16, as well as the entire run of Batman, Inc.--which Graeme has some really interesting ideas about; Buffy The Vampire Slayer #17; Earth Two #8; Fantastic Four #3 ;and  Iron Man #5.

46:39-47:14: Our sole intermission?  In fact…yes!

47:14-55:32:  On our return, we discuss Star Wars #1 by Brian Wood and Carlos D'Anda.  And, since that series is set immediately after A New Hope, we talk about that movie and what we've liked about that film and where it went afterward.

55:32-1:05:34: As for Jeff, most of what he's read has been digital: Thor #4; six weeks of Shonen Jump Alpha, The Phoenix Comic, and 2000 AD (with enthusiastic run-downs of his favorites in each).

1:05:34-1:10:22:  Then Jeff has a story about being retweeted he thinks is funny. Yes, people: this is why Jeff is terrible. He actually thinks you can tell a funny story…about being retweeted. Far funnier is how quickly and completely Graeme trumps the story.

1:10:22-1:10:30:  And then…questions!  For real, y'all, for real.

1:10:30-1:11:15:  The Dave Clarke Five! (By which I mean, five questions from our pal Dave Clarke.)  Dave Clarke asks:  "Is it fair to say that half the appeal of superhero comics is getting to talk about (and/or bitch about) them with your friends?"

1:11:15-1:14:10: Also, from Dave Clarke:  "Can loyal Whatnauts look forward to more 2000AD discussion in 2013?"

1:14:10-1:15:45:  Dave Clarke! "Would you ever do a crossover episode with House to Astonish?"

1:15:45-1:15:55: DC:  "Which is better: Glamourpuss or Holy Terror?"

1:15:55-1:21:13:  DC Implosion! "Last time you guys did a question episode Jeff promised to describe more things as ‘chill’. Is there anything Jeff has read/seen/tasted lately that he would describe as ‘chill’?"  

1:21:13-1:23:09: Question 1 of 2 from Jer:  "Waffles. Can the concept fly in other parts of the country? Or is it Portland specific for some reason — and why?"

1:23:09-1:34:02:  Question 2 of 2 from Jer:  "I’d like to know what comics media you guys generally consume daily/weekly/monthly (of course, Graeme reads 16 sites by only reading his own stuff, right?). Obv. you read Bleeding Cool at times; what about TCJ online? Etc.?"  [This is one of our classic 'Goofus and Gallant" moments.]

1:34:02-1:38:38: Steve queried: "What surprised you (positively or negatively) in the comics industry in 2012? Any predictions for 2013?(Unless you were planning to cover that sort of thing in your last podcast this year or first one next year anyway.)"

1:38:38-1:40:41:  Colbert said: "Opinions on best inkers for Kirby and Steve Ditko inking Kirby. And… damn. I can’t think of a waffle joke."

1:40:41-1:44:39:  A.L. Baroza asked:  "In light of the Sean Howe book and the brief discussion here a few podcasts back over just what it is that a comics editor does these days, what do you two consider a good or effective example of comics editing for Big Two corporate superhero IP? Keeping in mind that there’s always gonna be a tension between creator ambition, the company need to police and maintain a character’s brand, and a primarily nostalgia-slash-event-driven market. Is it even possible these days to navigate through all the competing demands and end up with something like “art”, or should we just write off the idea of lofty ambition for the genre at this point?"

1:44:39-1:45:06: J_Smitty_ asked: "What do you think of the new Ke$ha record?"

1:45:06-1:51:18:  Jerry Smith asked: "(1) Spider-Man: Ditko or Romita?  (2) Do you buy $4.00 comics? What is the highest price you would pay for a 22-32 page floppy?  (3) Karen Berger as head of creative development at Image Comics. Please consider and comment."

1:51:18-1:55:38:  MBunge asked: "The internet – the future of comic books or comic strips? It seems to me that the web is not really a delivery or economic format that lends itself to producing a blob of words and art once a month/two months/whenever lazy ass pros or guys who have to work real jobs to support their comics hobby can squeeze some work out."

1:55:38-2:03:38:  Mike Walker has a couple of questions: "The “make your own waffle station” at the hotel complimentary breakfast: Good idea or bad idea?  What’s your opinion on Bagels? Are frozen bagels out of the question? Fruity cream cheese or regular cream cheese? Describe your ideal bagel (if there is one.)  What was your most successful “cleanse?” Can we organize a “Wait, What: Cleanse Week?” Because I would like to see the comments after that week. Are you looking forward to a podcast where you aren’t answering questions, possibly sometime in 2014? What was your favorite Dave Clarke question? Least favorite?"


And, lest I forget, here's the link:

Wait, What? Ep. 112: A New Dope

Hope you enjoy; there is more where that came from, coming soon!  Until then, thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy!


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...

Wait, What? Ep. 71: Funk, Soul, Brother

Photobucket Yep, a bit of a delay but here we are, more or less as promised: Wait, What? Ep. 71, featuring our new theme song courtesy of the hyper-talented Graeme McMillan. This done-in-one episode is not quite two hours and forty-five minutes and covers, um, lots of stuff.

Stuff like OMAC and the other cancelled new52 titles; the current state of George Perez's career and what Marvel's marketing team could do with it; Mark Millar's Trouble and Spider-Man; comments by Charles Vess and Ariel Olivetti about Marvel; Mark Waid's Amazing Spider-Man/Daredevil crossover, Jason Aaron's Wolverine and the X-Men as well as Wolverine #300.

Plus, a lot of babbling from Jeff about PunisherMAX #21; a debate how many "good" issues a creator might have in them; Secret Avengers, Astonishing X-Men, Warren Ellis, and in-canon behavior; James Robinson and Shade; the preview issue of Shonen Jump Alpha; and Marvel Two-in-One vol. 4.

See? Worth the wait. (Probably.)

We would like to think it is on iTunes, but we are all but certain you can listen to it here, thanks to the handy link below:

Wait, What? Ep. 71: Funk, Soul, Brother

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

Wait, What? Ep. 18.2: "A Ponzi Scheme with Costumes"

Photobucket This installment was actually ready to go on Friday, but I thought Abhay's post was so impressive and awesome, I figured it was better to let it stand on its own.  (Also, I've been besieged with pants-optional pics since then.)  But here's ep. 18.2, recorded right before the opening weekend for Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.  I don't know if you saw Graeme's great little piece about the show's history over at Techland, but if not, the podcast covers a good chunk of it with additional goodness thrown in.

We also cover news about the Lone Ranger, grouse about Battlestar Galactica and Caprica, and kvetch generally.  It should be available on Itunes now or super-shortly, and you can also hear it here, below:

Wait, What?, Ep. 18.1: A Ponzi Scheme with Costumes

We should have more for you (much, much more) for you soon, and remember: When a problem comes along--Order code:  DEC100215.  Before the cream sets out too long--Order code:  DEC100215.

Thanks for listening!

Spider-Man And His Amazing Three Year Comeback

It's odd to think of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #647 as the end of an era, when the Big Time creative reshuffle is pretty much the same editorial team as Brand New Day editing a creative team that consists of the longest-surviving member of the Brand New Day braintrust and a revolving art-team that consists of Humberto Ramos and some surviving Brand New Day artists. It's really more of "a shift into an only-slightly different era," in a lot of ways, but saying that doesn't really allow for 64-page finale issues like this one. It's Good, I should say that now, but it's also not as good as BND at its best; there's too much of a sense of both, oddly, playing for time and rushing things, and a forced sense of occasion - Something that also plagued Mark Waid's "Origin of The Species" arc, I thought - and the result is something that's oddly unsatisfying despite all the different ingredients. One of the (unintended?) consequences it does have is making you realize how much writers like Fred Van Lente, Joe Kelly and Zeb Wells will be missed on the series, with their ability to balance making things seem fresh and also respectful of everything that's come before (Waid's talent on the series was something similar but different: The ability to use continuity in unexpected ways - I think Dan Slott, the new ongoing writer aims for somewhere between the two, but gets overwhelmed at times by the fact that he's working on a series that he clearly loves as a reader, and loses his nerve or lapses into fan service... even if he is the fan in question. Spider-Man brings out both the best and worst in him as a writer, which is both frustrating and exciting to see); their contributions are by far the best thing in the issue, surprising and silly and scary and sweet as needs be, showing off the versatility of the character.

(Waid's contribution, a one-page riff on the much-delayed Spider-Man musical, does manage to feature my favorite joke in the entire issue: "Fastest ticket lines on Broadway!" What can I say, I like the dumb/smart ones.)

The other thing that this issue makes you realize is how good BND has been for Spider-Man as a character, and as a series. Compare this to the JMS-era, and it's stunning to see how quickly the book has repopulated Spider-Man's supporting cast (and with mostly new creations!), and brought the tone back from the dark melodrama it was left to begin with; as much as BND was initially dismissed as retro, the three year run made changes that will hopefully stick as Big Time begins - I want to see more of Norah, Vin and Carlie, and Jonah as NYC Mayor, and Jonah Snr, and so on. It may not be the familiar characters - and I can't be the only one who notices that Harry Osborn is written out with the last issue of BND, just as he was written back in with the first, and after so much of the larger BND mythology revolved around him. Hopefully, he'll stay gone for a bit, to let the book move on - but Amazing Spider-Man has finally become the ensemble book it used to be, again, after far too many years of too many writers forgetting that part of its charm.

So, yeah. It's a good issue, and a weird capper to a three year run that started out weak but found its footing soon enough, and went on to make the mainstream MU version of the character the strongest he's been in more than a decade. As a prelude to Big Time next week, though, maybe it's a challenge: "We've built the book back up, Dan. Don't screw it up."

No Sacrificing, Strike Like Lightning: Tucker on 6/16

Hey, I'm into single issues of things that come out on a weekly basis in a paper format that I can purchase with American currency. Here's a few of them.

Amazing Spider-Man # 633
I’ve enjoyed quite a few of these short story arcs that Amazing has been doing since “The Gauntlet” started, but Shed was the first one where I felt like what I was reading was living up to what I was seeing. The Marcos Martin issues, that Javier Pulido Rhino short, Paul Azaceta’s Electro, cosmic Lee Weeks--all of those were really beautifully drawn comics. But behind the art, I could tell they were supposed to be building towards a broken down Spidey (ala Knightfall), and it never seemed to get there. (Here's some advice: steal Jim Aparo's old "draw some stubble" trick. That's how we knew Batman wasn't at his best.) That might be more tied into the way the comics constructed (the ever-changing writer) than any specific creative failure. Being the last chunk of pain before the big finale, Shed was able to push the point further than the rest, but it’s probably selling Zeb Wells short to imply that his spot in the rotation is responsible for the stories quality. 

More than any of the rest of the stories leading up to Grim Hunt, Shed was sad, a dark story that concluded with Spider-Man rejecting self-preservation when it demanded that he hurt innocent people. (He survived, blah blah blah, the drama of that moment had nothing to do with “how’s he going to get out of this”, it was a showcase for determination, a flipped version of the standard Spidey “whatever it takes” moment.) Visually, 633 suffers from the same Bachalo-didn’t-draw-it-all problems that hampered 632, and the only real arguments that can be made in defense of that is that 1) the work that is here is incredible, and 2) it’s not as hard to stomach as that Sinister Spider-Man mini-series where he only drew the fight scenes. (Did anybody else read those comics? Not-Bachalo draws Venom jumping off of a building, and Bachalo draws the landing? Not-Bachalo draws Venom walk through a door, Bachalo draws what’s inside? That didn’t work.)

The most memorable moments in Amazing in the last few months have all been visual--Azaceta’s catching-the-ceiling moment, Marcos Martin’s Family Circus casino fight and his inset square of a Ghost World style Carlie, Javier Pulido’s repetition of the seated Rhino while a jailbreak goes down--and Shed had at least two more, the first being when Curt Connors “died” in 631 and the second being when Spidey got buried at the bottom of a pile of crazies in this issue and chose not to fight his way out. Problems? Yeah, 633 has some. VERY GOOD nonetheless.

Ultimate Comics X # 3

I don’t think anybody was expecting Jeph Loeb to come riding in on a white horse with a new African-American super-hero right when Heidi Macdonald needed one most, but hey, here he went, and look what he brung. Art’s art is EXCELLENT.

Hellblazer # 268

This is the second part of “Sectioned”, which is probably the scariest Hellblazer story since that Warren Ellis issue about a room that made people commit suicide. It’s got a similarity of tone to one of the earlier Milligan stories, the one that achieved all of its drama by behaving exactly like one of those “i’m going to save the girl” soap operas right up until the point where it ended by saying that no, you dummy, the girl is dead and will always be dead and you’re as dumb as John for thinking that dead doesn’t mean dead forever. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that most of the tension right now in Sectioned is wrapped up in wondering whether or not John Constantine actually did beat a woman so badly that he chipped her teeth, split her lips and broke her nose. I’ll admit, it’s pretty fucked up to have the primary importance in a story that involves a woman being beaten to be about ensuring that the male hero of the story isn’t responsible for doing it, but I'm hoping that’s an accidental casualty of the serialization of the story more than it is a reflection of what “Sectioned” is really about. I hope it is. This guy wrote Enigma, you know? I can’t see him busting up ladyfaces as window dressing.

What’s unsettling about "Sectioned" is how its taken John and turned him into one of those crazy/doomed side-characters in a Shade The Changing Man storyline, and now Milligan’s bringing the actual Shade on board as fellow protagonist. It’s scary because the story--like all of Milligan’s so far, except for the India arc--is about breaking John down, about attacking every aspect of the character’s historical behavior. What’s John done since Milligan took over? Failed, consistently. He hasn't saved most of the people he was trying to save, he very nearly raped a girl who didn’t want to date him anymore--get somebody else to explain that--and now Milligan’s bringing the story closer to Delano’s old threat (mental collapse) than any writer has since Ennis.

Not to encroach on Brian’s territory, but most Hellblazer readers have to be aware that the comic has a shitty trade program and low single issue sales, that its continued existence stands in stark opposition to the business model that every other Vertigo comic follows. Hellblazer is the one nostalgia hold-out that Vertigo publishes, and Vertigo’s gotten pretty merciless in the last few years. (Regardless of their quality, Air was a comic that they wrote about in Elle fucking magazine, and Unknown Soldier got a sales-jump write-up in the New York Times, and those comics still got shut down.) So when somebody like Peter Milligan comes along and starts writing Hellblazer stories that keep slamming against what-Hellblazer-is-usually-like, and then he starts doing thematic callbacks to the way the series began (with John’s fearing a return to straitjackets and suicide attempts), and when all of that is coming after two failed Hellblazer graphic novels (Dark Entries and Pandemonium), there’s an added measure of “this could be for real” attached. I’m not trying to imply that “Sectioned” is scary because “oh shit they might cancel Hellblazer”, but the fact that they very well might cancel Hellblazer gives Peter Milligan--one of the original writers that helped establish Vertigo in the first place--a gravity of consequence that the series hasn’t had since Azzarello figured out how freaked out he could make readers by making John into the factual bisexual Delano probably always intended him to be.

Anyway. “Sectioned”. It’s a GOOD story right now, Camuncoli’s still draws some of the most fluid bodies-in-motion panels of anybody right now, Vertigo’s gotten over their early decade fear of non-rust coloring, and Simon Bisley’s covers are goofy perfect. Blah blah blah, I like this one.

20th Century Boys Volume 9, VERY GOOD

This relates, but it's still tangential and you have to guess why.

I had to go to this mega-life-important meeting at this out-of-my-income-bracket hotel recently, one of those kind of meetings that you show up an hour early for because being late for it is a non-option. Being early fucks me up though, because that means I spend an hour milling around in the nearby vicinity getting myself more worked up until I’m as nervous as I get, which is a decent amount, although not as much as some. I was listening to “Chase Scene”, which is the only song on the new Broken Social Scene album that I’ve fallen in love with as much as I fell in love with that song “Atlas”, which was what I used to listen to when I’m nervous and needed to pump myself up a bit. Anyway, I walk towards the hotel, take a deep breath, walk inside the hotel, hit the marble staircase, and right then, at the height of my anxiety, I look up and see this totally-out-of-place guy standing at the top of the marble staircase: he’s wearing a brown t-shirt, one in that  bleach-washed style that Old Navy probably has a patent on, and it says something about “always being in a Florida Keys state of mind”, and its tucked into his jeans, which are stone-washed, lycra-tight with hand-rolled cuffs (!), and yes, because he’s a real person who lives like a cartoon character, he’s wearing a gigantic fuck-you-heroes fannypack right over his junk. Rocking some glasses like they came from mail order. He’s looking past me as I hit the marble stairs, and there’s somebody behind me that he knows, because he straightens up, claps his hands and goes Bang Bang with his finger guns, and then he--i’m not making any of this up--he spins on his the ball of his right foot and starts walking toward the front desk.

He immediately tripped, hit the ground.

He hopped up real quick, didn’t need help from the bellhop or his friend, both of whom came running. I silently thanked him over and over again while I was waiting for the elevator to take me to the 18th floor. That guy saved my life.

It's Just Another: Very Quick Commentary from Jeff about (sigh...) One More Day.

Not really a review or anything, just a bit of (very late) Monday morning quarterbacking: in finishing up the first three issues of "Brand New Day" and finally reading the last issue of "One More Day," it struck me J. Michael Straczynski is either a far more gracious man--or a far more thick-skinned professional--than I could ever hope to be. Despite the last issue of "One More Day" being dedicated at the very end to JMS, and a back page filled with hosannas by fellow professionals, the two-page recap of Spidey's status at the end of the first part of "Brand New Day" suggests a company eager to sweep eight years of the man's stories under the rug.

I mean, I can't imagine Grant Morrison co-writing a last issue story arc on New X-Men that would remove Xorn, the Midwich Cuckoos, Mutant Town, Cassandra Nova, and the destruction of Genosha. Yet JMS's final story on ASM not only removes Mary Jane as Peter Parker's wife, but retcons away anyone knowing Peter's secret identity, and brings back the mechanical web-spinners. That last one in particular struck me: I wasn't a big fan of the Spider-Totem idea, but if it's waved away with some fancy-dan Mephisto hand magic, the bulk of JMS's run is removed. No Ezekiel storyline; no mystical wasp queen; no "The Other." Considering the emotional highpoint of JMS's run--Peter revealing his identity to Aunt May--is mooted by the removal of anyone knowing Peter's secret identity, and it's hard to see what's left. That 9/11 story; Norman Osborne's "o" face; that gamma radiation gangster; and maybe the lame Molten Man impersonator who burnt down Aunt May's house (except she's back to having her house, so maybe not). It's not "putting the toys back in the box," so much as "throwing most of the toys into the fire and watching 'em shrivel up and blacken."

(And not that it's pertinent to this discussion, but is the end of "One More Day," where Mephisto talks about the daughter Peter and Mary Jane could have had but will now never have and will never exist, some sort of swipe at the Spider-Girl title? If so, I only wish I had the chops to examine what might've been running through Editorial's head when that went in.)

Mind you, I'm not upset that a lot of this material is taken off the board: I don't think this retcon invalidates the enjoyment I got from the issues I read, and there was stuff (a lot of stuff) in JMS's run I felt screwed pretty strongly with the iconic appeal of Spider-Man. But I find it all very strange. Maybe when Straczynski first came on and made it clear he wasn't interested in having editorial vet his work, he and Marvel editorial had an explicit understanding that everything he did could (and probably would) be undone. And, of course, any savvy freelancer toiling for the big two is aware their work can be retconned, invalidated or turned on its head whenever Editorial sees fit. But as a way to handle a heavyweight creator with whom one would want (I would think) to continue a working relationship, it seems like very, very odd behavior: "Thanks for all the great work, Joe! It'd mean a lot to us if you'd put your name on this story that invalidates the vast majority of it! If not, we're gonna do the story, anyway. Love ya!"

You know what? I'll break my thoughts about "Brand New Day" into a different post, so as not to dilute my point: J. Michael Straczynski, you got what looks like a raw deal to me.

Some more from 8/11

INVINCIBLE #14: Top notch super-fun here -- I really liked the teleport gag. A few captions are pretty radically overwritten, but, ah, so what? Very Good IRON MAN #432: Ah. Add another Dead Girlfriend in the Fridge to the list, Gail. This is taking the easy path to drama, but at least no one got raped.... Eh

SPIDER-MAN #5: Nice Frank Cho art, but, blech I don't like Millar's characterizations of anyone here. Why is MJ calling Felicia "Babe"? Or insisting she's an idiot over and over again? "This is supposed to be the HOBBY"? No, sir, I don't like this. I don't want "gritty" Spider-Man! Awful.

I mentioned the other day that people should pick up BIRTH OF A NATION, but I've finally read it now. Wow, excellent stuff. A modern "The Mouse That Roared" (sorta), and it's wickedly funny, and touching, and insightful all at once. I really loved this, and give it an unreserved thumbs-up, HC or no. Excellent.