Wait, What? Ep. 142: Out Like A Lamprey

 photo 1689016f9c1f2ba72103fec82fad0441_zps335fcd6b.jpg Not mentioned in any way in our podcast but I do love how it captures what's most important about the holidays -- conquering and invulnerability.

Ho, ho, ho! Hoist high the Jolly Roger and all that! It is Christmas, when boys become men and Boy II Men become headliners at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  (As always, I wish Graeme was doing this entry as the holiday spirit comes terrifyingly easy to him and is a much more uncomfortable fit for me.)

Oh, and before you read any of this, go read Abhay's post first because it is undoubtedly a million times better.  Really, I can't wait to stop writing this entry so I can go back to reading his...

After the jump, I leave coal in your stocking! And also show notes for our two and a half hour end-of-2013 episode!  Come, sit uncomfortably on my knee and realize you're close enough to smell what I ate for lunch! And other holiday tradition-like things!

First, because the show notes are sooooo extensive (well, really my poorly formatted, hastily assembled best-of list as mentioned in the show), let me do you a holiday solid and put the link to the show first, okay?

Wait, What? Ep. 142: Out Like a Lamprey...

Okay, now that you've got that revving, you can dig into these, our show notes for the last episode of 2013. We gave you something like 32 episodes this year--that's not so bad, right?  I don't even think that counts our lost episode, our minicast, or the number of hours or whatever.  I mean, we gave you well over sixty hours of entertainment--that's worth celebrating, right?  I mean, admittedly it may have been more like "entertainment" than entertainment but...

[Christ, I get needy during the holidays...]


00:00-3:21: Greetings! Graeme is happy that it’s almost Christmas; Jeff is happy he is one year closer to death!  So, yeah, we’ve got a lot of common ground there, as always.  Opening comments include: us talking about our lost episode, us trying to touch on the year on comics, but mainly doing a very good job talking about why we were so poorly prepared to talk about the year on comics. 3:21-39:05: We do, however, get around to talking about a certain Marvel editor’s move to a certain Marvel Animation on a certain West Coast. We also talk about the move of Will Moss to Marvel, the upcoming DC move, and more topics in which I can mindlessly use the word “move.” Unsurprisingly, discussions include the fates of Daredevil (and its relaunch), Captain Marvel, Hawkeye (and Hawkeye’s publication schedule), and Avengers: Endless Wartime (okay, maybe that last one is a little surprising). 39:05-58:53: On a related note, did Marvel in 2013 become DC in 2011 without anyone caring?  Graeme lays out the case.  Mentioned:  David Morell, Matt Fraction, Zeb Wells, roving feral gangs of art teams setting upon defenseless books and completing them, etc.  Also mentioned: a really good piece by The Outhousers, the importance of corporate narratives, and how those narratives change. 58:53-1:02:43: Graeme has read Harley Quinn #1 by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Chad Hardin and has hope for it as an outreach book, as well as good things to say about the Green Lantern books.  And yet he has nearly no faith in DC?  Explain, Graeme! 1:02:43-1:26:23:  Graeme starts to talk about the “Best of 2013” as refracted in part through his picks for Wired’s Best of list, but we quickly change topics to discuss the recently released Slayground, the latest adaptation by Darwyn Cooke of Richard Stark/Donald Westlake’s Parker novels. Spoilers ahoy, as we try to figure out why our reactions to the book are what they are (including spoilers for Lemons Never Lie, because we are crazy out of control that way). 1:26:23-1:40:52: What else did Jeff buy this week (actually, closer to a month since he hadn’t been to the store since before Thanksgiving)?  Jeff quickly runs down the list because, um, I don’t know, I guess I thought we were squeezed for time?  Discussed in at least a sentence or two (although sometimes at most):  Batman #26 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo; Batman & Two-Face #26 by Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray; Lazarus #5 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark; Velvet #2 by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting; Saga #16 and #17 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, the latest issues of The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard; Mars Attacks Judge Dredd #4 by Al Ewing and John McCrea; and issues #2 and #3 of Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios. 1:40:52-1:48:40:  Jeff’s very incomplete, incredibly biased Best of 2013 list, reprinted here only with the proviso that there was so much great stuff in 2013, I didn’t even know about a lot of it, much less read it.  But from what I read, here's what I liked:

Bought at the store, loved in the home: Works by G-Mo: Batman Inc. and Action Comics Works by Al Ewing: Zombo, Jennifer Blood, Mars Attacks Judge Dredd, The Fictional Man. the Avengers Assemble one-shots I read Works by BKV: The Private Eye (with Marcos Martin) and Saga (with Fiona Staples) Works by Brandon Graham:  Multiple Warheads and Prophet (with Simon Roy, Giannis Milogiannis, and Farel Dalrymple) Works by Adam Warren:  Empowered Animal Style (with John Staton), Empowered Nine Beers with Ninjette (with Takeshi Miyazawa) 2000 A.D. (Stickleback! Zombo!) Copra by Michel Fiffe

Stuff I really dug on digital:

2000 A.D. and Judge Dredd Megazine, by various:  god, yes. Probably my most overall pleasurable reading experience of the year Kikaider by Shotaro Ishinomori Works by Akira Toriyama:  Sachie-Chan Good!! and Jaco the Galactic Patrolman. Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover Batman ‘66 by Jeff Parker (and various including Jonathan Case although it was really that Joker story with Joe Quinones that rung my chimes) Double Barrel by Zander Cannon, Kevin Cannon, and Tim Sievert (whose Clandestinauts was really a grotty shot of energy to the last third of the run) Chris Weston’s story in The Adventures of Superman...boy, that looked amazing. Jack Kirby’s Kamandi reprints (which looks as if they’ve finally been discontinued... which breaks my fragile heart)

Trade paperbacks or books or whatever: My Dirty Dumb Eyes by Lisa Hannawalt TEOTFW by Charles Forsman Zombo:  You Smell of Crime…And I"m The Deodorant, by Al Ewing and and Henry Flint Sin Titulo by Cameron Stewart Jack Kirby Omnibus Vol. 2 by Jack Kirby Superman: The Phantom Zone by Steve Gerber, Gene Colan, and Rick Veitch

Least favorite comic book movie of the year: Man of Steel (just saw it a few days ago and it bummed me out that the film had the best evocation of superpowers on film, but the worst evocation of Superman in just about any medium ever.  Jesus, that was depressing.)

Favorite comic book movie of the year: Fast and the Furious 6  (not as good as 5, but it was still pretty great. Some of those actions only make sense if you believe in Jack Kirby physics, which of course is my baseline)

[Oh, and the above two are bonuses for show notes readers as I had them on the list and didn't get a chance to mention to Graeme).

Weirdo one-shots: Avengers Assemble Annual #1 by Christos Gage and Tomm Coker Ant Comic by Michael DeForge Supermag by Jim Rugg Masters of the Universe: The Origin of Hordak by Keith Giffen in a Kirby homage that just felt oversized and stunning Optic Nerve #13 by Adrian Tomine Satan's Soldier by Tom Scioli (thank you for not leaving comics, Tom!)

The solid b-level books that keep me on the hook: Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard Fatale by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Batman & Robin by Pete Tomasi & Patrick Gleason Batman by Snyder & Capullo Archer and Armstrong by Fred Van Lente and...various?) Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios Zero by Ales Kot and various, including Morgan Jeske Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark Superior Spider-Man by Dan Slott and various, whenever anyone would give me the code

Not this year but just the best: Hook Jaw by Pat Mills, Ken Armstrong and Ramon Sola Shako by Pat Mills, John Wagner, Roman Sola, and Juan Arancio Rogue Trooper by Gerry Finley-Day, Dave Gibbons, Colin Wilson and others Cat Shit One/Apocalypse Meow by Motofumi Kobayashi Chronicles of Conan by Roy Thomas and various The “White Zero” issue of 2001: A Space Odyssey (#5) by Jack Kirby Steve Ditko Archives: Shade The Changing Man by Steve Ditko The Boys by Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson, John McCrea and Russ Braun Yakitate!! Japan by Takashi Hashiguchi The Secret Society of SuperVilllains by a bunch of pitiful bastards including Gerry Conway, Bob Rozakis, Rich Buckler, Bob Layton & more Torpedo Vol. 1 by Sanchez Abuli, Jordi Bernet and Alex Toth

Whew! So yeah, like I said, there's a metric shit ton of great stuff that came out this year that I didn't read.  But that was a list of stuff I did.

1:48:40-2:00:59:  Graeme embellishes upon the list with some Marvel stuff Jeff justifiably overlooked including:

Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie Mighty Avengers by Al Ewing and Greg Land Iron Man by Kieron Gillen and Greg Land (and others?) Iron Man Final Frontier cowritten by Kieron Gillen and Al Ewing (digital) All-New X-Men by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen (and others) Wolverine and the X-Men by Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw (and others)

And non-Marvel stuff too: Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps by Robert Venditti and others Flash by Manapul and Brian Buccellatto Bad Machinery by John Allison American Barbarian reprints on Comixology by Tom Scioli (co-signed) (and this is where Jeff finds out Scioli is writing and drawing a cosmic Transformers/G.I. Joe miniseries and makes a high-pitched noise incapable of being recorded) various Valiant titles Works by Chris Roberson:  Code Name: Action and The Shadow Kings Watch by Jeff Parker and Marc Laming (Graeme didn't mention Amelia Cole by Adam Knave, D.J. Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire but probably only because he didn't have an actual list, and was mostly riffing off mine.)

2:00:59-2:07:46:  As mentioned above, it was a really good year for comics.  Jeff talks about the Comics Alliance Best of List which had stuff he is now eager to read. (In fact, I just grabbed that Ōoku: The Inner Chamber from the library just this afternoon.)  Graeme goes on to talk a bit about 2014 and titles he thinks are worth looking out for, including Action Comics by Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Red Lanterns and more. 2:07:46-2:27:20:  Because you requested it!  We talk Matt Fraction being pulled from Inhumanity and the way Marvel addressed it,  Image books vs. Marvel books, what Grant Morrison is up to these days, the Affordable Care Act, and more. 2:27:20-closing: Closing comments!  With an important HEAD’S UP: we are transitioning to a fortnightly (week on/week off) schedule in 2014 in order to keep us a little more sane, fresh, and feisty as we head into another year of podcasting.  We are thinking of seeing if we can synchronize our schedule with House to Astonish, maybe?  Please watch this space for details!

Whew!  Okay, hopefully you won't mind if I play fast and loose with the tags for now?  I've got my holiday shopping done but would not mind a chance to sit down and read a few comics after a busy day of running around crazy.

As we say in the podcast -- thank you to everyone who listened to us, sent us emails, sent me comics, recommended things, argued with us and each other in the comment threads, and did so much more (or nothing more than just continuing to let us blab our ever-loving hearts out).  We look forward to doing it again in 2014.  Please have a wonderful holiday season, a happy new year, and, as always, thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy.


Remember Brevity: Jeff Tries to Jam in A Best Of/Shopping Lists.

I like "best of" lists, particularly before the holidays when people have a bit of cash and trying to figure out what to get loved ones. So I'm gonna do one even though (a) I've been more than a little out of the loop since I left the store in May; (b) my brain is still like well-chewed taffy after writing this week's reviews; and (c) my tech karma just took a massive hit, with my external hard drive unresponsive, my alphasmart wiped, and my image search for book covers (because everyone loves images) hit a snag when a page tried to install a fuckin' trojan horse on my laptop. (Oh, and what's up with our sidebar?) So I'll try to make this as quick and coherent--and as non-crabby--as possible for all our sakes. Sorry about the lack of graphics. Maybe next year, provided my laptop isn't too busy sending out Jamaican porn spam. In sloppy alpha order:

AMERICAN ELF VOL. 2: These two years of James Kochalka's cartoon diaries may be so brightly colored they'll make your eyes water, but they're also funny, sweet and profane. I hope we continue to get book collections of these even though Kochalka's cartoon vault is now open online.

AZUMANGA DAIOH OMNIBUS: I read and loved all four volumes of Kiyohiko Azuma's comic strip tales of a batch of high school girls, and hope this collection of the four volumes finds all the new readers the series well deserves. ADV Manga didn't really put themselves out throwing this omnibus together--the translation notes from vols. 3 and 4 don't reflect the new pagination, for example--but the price break and convenience of having them all in one spot still make it a great buy. Plus, it's an excuse to re-read everything all over again, which I did, and I enjoyed them just as much the second time around.

LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN BLACK DOSSIER: Black Dossier probably suffers by dint of authorial over-ambition, publisher politics, and audience expectation, but it's still a helluva book. Even though it failed to move me emotionally, I frequently took delight in the clever formalistic shenanigans, and Kevin O'Neill does landmark work. Plus, you know, a Tijuana Bible version of Orwell's 1984--how can you knock that?

BUFFY SEASON EIGHT VOL. 1 TPB: Joss Whedon brings the Buffyverse back for a TV season on paper, and it's a delight for those of us who still carry tremendous affection for the characters. While I worry the "unlimited budget" of comics may keep Whedon away from the limitations on TV he ably turned into strengths, or that the work will get farmed out the more other projects occupy Whedon's time, the first storyline was a tremendous amount of fun on its own, and a great gift for a Buffy fan (if you can find one that doesn't already have this, of course).

CRECY: I think this may be in the top five things Ellis has ever done, if not the top three--a dark, smart, rowdy educational history lesson where the author's predilection for technical knowledge and street-smart narrators meshes perfectly in showing us the battle of Crecy and its impact on how cultures make war. It's as perfectly executed as it is conceived, tremendously engaging and deeply enjoyable. Great stuff.

CRIMINAL: COWARD and CRIMINAL: LAWLESS: Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips produce two exceptionally strong stories that nail the grit, seedy glamor and understated desp all great crime stories have. Phillips' extraordinary knack for visual characterization enhances Brubaker's ability to bring exactly the right amount of information to a scene; I can't think of a current writer-artist team who play to each other's strengths nearly as well as these two.

DR. 13: ARCHITECTURE & MORTALITY TPB: Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's playful metafiction tackles current comic book policies, the nature of belief and disbelief, and is a gorgeous-looking repudiation of what superhero books can and cannot do. It'll make you think, but it'll also make you laugh--a lot.

DRIFTING CLASSROOM: Kazuo Umezu's manga classic about an elementary school transported to a hostile dimension is bracing in its bleakness, touching in its melodrama, and masterful in its cartooning. It is also, in the very best sense, ape-shit crazy. Imagine if Lost starred the Little Rascals and somebody was dying or suffering gruesomely every fifteen minutes, and you get a slight idea of Drifting Classroom's ghastly, loopy charms.

EXIT WOUNDS: Rutu Modan's extraordinary graphic novel about a young man in Israel trying to discover the fate of his father is still the book of the year for me. The cartooning is great--detailed and evocative and open--but the writing is extraordinary, deepening the characters and the situations on every page. I really loved this book.

FLOWER OF LIFE, VOLS. 1-3: Fumi Yoshinaga's witty story of high school students and manga fans is always moving in directions you won't expect, but, really, it's the mix of light comedy and deep characterization I find so compelling. Like Yotsuba&! or Azumanga Daioh, this stuff makes me happy when I read it--it's heartwarming, which is something I'd never thought I'd enjoy in my reading material, but when it's done as well it is here, I'm helpless to resist.

FOURTH WORLD OMNIBUS, VOLS 1-3: Near-masterpieces of presentation, these collections of Jack Kirby's classic Fourth World material choose to reprint the work in order of publication. And while that has its drawbacks, particularly in the Volume Two where an extended storyline in The Forever People loses momentum as issues are spaced eighty pages apart, it pays off in Volume Three where Kirby begins to pull the threads of his stories together, and brilliant sequence after brilliant sequence begin to follow each after the next. Stunning.

KAMANDI ARCHIVES VOL. 2: In fact, reading the second volume of the Fourth World Omnibus, Marvel's Devil Dinosaur collection and this second volume reprinting Kirby's Kamandi stories in a row rendered all other comics completely uninteresting for about two weeks there. Whereas part of the delight of the Fourth World books is seeing how someone as distinctive and as regimented as Kirby was during that period still brings subtly different rhythms to each book, Kamandi entertains because it is constantly moving, keeping the title character (and the readers) from one crazy situation to the next. As far as I know, it's the closest Kirby ever got to the breakneck pacing of the great newspaper strips, and it makes for an intoxicating read. I really hope DC gets around to collecting all of these.

KING CITY VOL. 1 TPB: Speaking of intoxicating reads, King City by Brandon Scott Graham is, like Kirby's work, fast-paced and jammed with ideas, and unmistakably the work of a single idiosyncratic creator. It's deeply, deeply goofy, more than a little cocksure, and lord only knows when we'll see Volume 2, but this book reminded me of the first Scott Pilgrim book in its ability to take disparate influences and effortlessly marry 'em. I was so impressed with this book, I bought three copies to give to friends and lend out.

MISERY LOVES COMEDY HC: Somehow, by compiling the first three issues of Schizo--letter pages and all--under one cover and including an introduction from his therapist, Brunetti made me look at his comics in a new light. I already thought they were brilliant--Brunetti embodies every cliche of the unhappy indie cartoonist and transcends them through talent and fearlessness--but here they seem even more impressive, a radically brave act of self-expression. Plus, it's all funnier than hell.

MONSTER: Naoki Urasawa's sprawling suspense story is a deeply satisfying page-turner. Kinda reminds me of Dickens in its sheer narrative drive, and Urasawa's cartooning also has a love of expressive caricature. These can't come out fast enough for me.

PARASYTE VOLS. 1 AND 2: The first two volumes of Hitoshi Iwaaki's Parasyte remind me of both DC's Focus line and Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man as a teen gains great power via the alien creature that's replaced his right arm. It might be a good book for superhero fans looking to branch out; it's certainly a great book for those of us who already have.

THE PROFESSOR'S DAUGHTER: Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert's turn of the century farce about an animated mummy king on the lam with the professor's daughter is everything you'd want in a graphic novel--funny, action-packed, beautiful and surprisingly moving.

SCOTT PILGRIM GETS IT TOGETHER: The fourth volume in the series, and arguably the strongest since the first. Creator Bryan Lee O'Malley gets it together even more than Scott, taking his storytelling and his cartooning to a new level, and giving us a perfectly paced and satisfying book.

ANYTHING BY TEZUKA PUBLISHED BY VERTICAL: In the space of a week and a half, I read Apollo's Song, Ode to Kirihito and MW, and was dumbstruck by Osamu Tezuka's utter genius. MW is a crazed crime novel in which a homosexual crossdressing crime lord matches wits with the priest who is his lover with the fate of the human race at stake; Apollo's Song is a psychedelic coming of age novel in which a potential psychopath is taught the power of love thanks to cross space/time scenarios, and Ode to Kirihito (published late last year) is a surreal world-spanning medical thriller that reads a little bit like if Jodorowsky had directed a Dr. Kildare movie after Dostoyevsky did a pass on the script. They're all brilliant and insane, buoyed up by Tezuka's wide-ranging mastery of the cartoon medium and open-armed embrace of melodramatic directness. I enjoyed Ode to Kirihito the most, but I loved all of them. I guess I'm finally ready to tackle Buddha.

YOTSUBA&! VOLS. 4 AND 5: Like Azumanga Daioh and Flower of Life, a light comedy I find both heartwarming, well-observed, and mostly perfectly timed. I never thought I'd champion a cute kid comic book, but Yotsuba&! has exactly the right amount of cute, avoiding the all-too-standard saccharine crud that usually comes with it.

STUFF NOT ON THE LIST BECAUSE I (STILL) HAVEN'T READ IT: Alice in Sunderland, Pulphope, other stuff I'm sure you'll point out.

STUFF I REALLY ENJOYED THAT DIDN'T MAKE THE LIST BECAUSE I WAS EITHER TOO LAZY OR THERE WERE MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES: Jason Shiga's Bookhunter (brilliant but a bit pricey for me); Rick Veitch's Army At Love Vol. 1 (enjoyable but uneven); Empowered Vol. 1 (I thought Vol. 2 was disappointing enough to taint Vol. 1 for me); Iron Man: Hypervelocity TPB (great fun in the singles; haven't checked to see if it holds up in the trades); The Escapists HC (ditto); Devil Dinosaur Omnibus (too pricey); JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (not for everyone; haven't I mentioned enough manga?); Brubaker's Captain America and Daredevil TPBs (I'm behind); Sgt. Frog (not enough volumes this year); Beck Mongolian Chop Squad (wait between volumes hurts the pacing; otherwise brilliant); Fart Party; probably many others I'm forgetting.

Anything that came out this year (in trade format) I missed?