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Wait, What? Ep. 115: Less Than Greek

Jeff Lester

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“It’s funny! It says ‘I choo-choo-choose you’ and then there’s a picture of Aquaman.”

Well, on the plus side? It is a Monday and we have a new Wait, What? for you–almost an entire day early!

On the minus side, we won’t be recording this week due to Valentine’s Day, so there won’t be a recording next week, I am totally behind the eight ball on my other projects, and I couldn’t get Graeme to draw a Don-Wan Kihotay for us.

After the jump, this week’s episode and some super-speedy show notes!


0:00-3:18:  Odd greeting! Neurotic confession! Bizarre Love Triangle! Can you tell which one of these is a description of our opening, and which one is a New Order single?
3:18-12:34:  Strange Press Release!  (Another unsung New Order single.)  Graeme and Jeff  discuss the recent press release announcing the Rogue and She-Hulk novels for female readers.
12:34-20:17: From arguing about mythologies in tie-in products, we move on discussing whether Disney is getting too crazy with their Star Wars movie plans or not.
20:17-31:37: Jeff isn’t sure how to he made the jump between Star Wars films and the twin legacies of Sylvester Stallone and Walter Hill. (The term “twin legacy” is used, and Luke and Leia are twins with a legacy?)  Nonetheless, if you were hoping to have a healthy dose of “Hey, you kids, stop misunderstanding the historical legacy of my lawn!”  YOU ARE IN LUCK.  (Please note: when Jeff says “Lawrence Silver” in his triade, he really means “Joel Silver.”
31:37-1:07:48:  And from a topic of nostalgia and misunderstood legacies, Jeff tries to look at Marvel’s Jack Kirby Captain America Omnibus and the hardcover collection of Neal Adams’ Batman Odyssey.
1:07:48-1:08:24: Intermission the First!
1:08:24-1:12:54: And we’re back.  Most of you probably know about my beard, but not many of us know about Graeme’s secret sideburns…or about his even more secret interview with SKY NEWS.
1:12:54-1:22:28: The battle for New Comics begins!  Graeme has read Young Romance: New52 Valentine’s Day Special and the first Jeff Lemire-scripted issue of Green Arrow.  Graeme didn’t like them much. Jeff saw the preview trailer for Injustice: Gods Among Us. Arguably, he liked that even less.  And then came…the dreaded tech problems.  We liked those least of all.
1:22:28-1:22:52: Intermission the Second!
1:22:52-1:36:05:  We are back, to continue with a bit of grousing about DC.  Graeme has read the huge DC: 75th Anniversary book by Paul Levitz, leading to a conversation about what made DC great in the past.  We are excited about the new digital Superman book, maybe not so much (or at all) about Orson Scott Card, but we are very excited about Jeff Parker, Chris Samnee, and others.  Graeme has also got a sneak peek at Superman: The Unauthorized Biography by Glen Weldon.
1:36:05-1:45:22:  Jeff talks a little about the fourth issue of Multiple Warheads, in a “I would really rather talk about it when we’ve both read it, but Graeme keeps asking me questions” sort of way.  Also, Jeff doesn’t wants anyone to think he’s super-high but he decides to compare Multiple Warheads to Zero Dark Thirty for some reason?  Graeme gives the low-down on the Netflix remake of House of Cards.
1:45:22-2:11:25: Questions! We do manage to answer some questions (honestly, we were supposed to answer more and once again we got distracted).  Here we are speeding questions from four Whatnauts:
Jesse M. on December 6th, 2012 at 7:08 pm asked: No way you’ll have time to answer all of these, choose one!  1) What’s the single issue of a comic that you love best?  2) I’ve been loving Journey Into Mystery From Gillen and Immonen. Once Immonen’s Sif run is finished, what team should tackle the Warriors Three? 3) Are there any current comics that would benefit from a JiM/BPRD style spinoff?
Ben Lipman on December 6th, 2012 at 7:22 pm asked:  Should Marvel bother with covers?  They print them on the same stock as the pages, the books are ordered months in advance and sell to an audience that actively seeks them out. Why not save the price of more pages/art and just have the title sit above the first page?  Is FATALE becoming an ongoing series a good thing?  I enjoy it though it’s not their best, but was looking forward to Bru and Phillips moving on to something else.  What was the best and what was the worst comic you read for each decade you have read comics?
Zomboner on December 6th, 2012 at 8:03 pm said:  What happens to Ross’ moustache when he turns into the red-hulk?
mateor on December 6th, 2012 at 9:28 pm said:  How about…  A) Has anyone, ever, done more for a comic than Eddie Campbell did for From Hell?  B) Could we expect a modern reader to get anything out of the big 2 comics “masterpieces” of our youth? I am thinking of in continuity stuff here, something like Simonson’s Thor here, a book that pretty much ruled my world growing up, yet something I will ever be able to properly explain to my son, even if he had the issues in front of him. I don’t have the same doubts about Romita’s Amazing or other earlier runs, there is just something about those eighties books that seem stuck in time.  C) If you gave 100 people on the subway issues of Bill Sienkeiwicz’s New Mutants (with the lovely painted covers removed) how many would tell you it was the worst looking comic they have ever seen?
and
D) What would happen if Robert Kirkman decided to spend his next month’s income and buy the publishing arm of Marvel? Not the IP, just the right to publish Marvel comics the way he wanted…which characters would die each month and by which blunt instrument? How sad would the Punisher be while he used his slowly diminishing appendages to get the rest of the Marvel U killed, one 100 issue spectacular at a time?  Who would he think was calling him while he cried into a disconnected telephone and would he still have the beard? Would Aunt May be the big bad?
2:11:25-end:  Closing comments! Many apologies! Graeme tells you something that would make him laugh! Nothing but exclamation points! Or…are there?

And…there you have it…if by “it,” you mean “the show notes.”  If by “it,” you mean “the show,” then in fact, you do not have it…unless you look below, and then you will indeed have that, too:

Wait, What? Ep. 115: Less Than Greek

We hope you enjoy, thanks for listening, and we hope you have a grand Valentine’s Day.

24 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 115: Less Than Greek ”

  1. Daggers. Daggers to my heart! That is what Jeff’s Walter Hill-bashing felt like for me.

    Was Streets of Fire perfect? No. But I think it’s a wonderful film, with a an ambition I admire greatly. Any film that embraces its theatrically with such gusto, it is a “rock ‘n’ roll fable” after all, gets my heart. While I wish the rest of the performances would have hit the level that Defaoe and Moranis did, I see what Hill was going for and I love the film for it.

    And yes, I do forgive Hill a lot because of The Warriors, that and The Driver (also, his contribution to the Aliens franchise). Do I sit around watching Red Heat all day? No, but my respect, and hope that Hill will come back with something great, will never be extinguished. I choose to live in this optimism, for it is the finest way to go through life.

    Also, did you mean Joel Silver when you said Lawrence Silver? Maybe you were thinking of Lawrence Kasdan due to the previous Star Wars talk. You are right about Shane Black and (the, sadly, imprisoned) John McTiernan.

  2. Nnnng– no no no this is all wrong, Jeff Lester…

    This is all wrong!

  3. I gotta say I totally disagree with the critique of the new Marvel novel line. The generic-seeming quality of the plots outlined in the press releases will probably end up being a huge benefit to the books. The whole objective is to hook new, young female readers. I’d say the best way to accomplish that is by meeting them on familiar ground, easing them into the shared universe. Because let’s face it, if you haven’t been reading them all your life, there’s a lot that’s alien about continuity and monthly serialized comics.

    Also, being right in the middle between the two, I feel qualified to point out a difference between how young people see things and how middle-aged people see them. Middle-aged readers see the press release for Rogue Touch and say “This is just Twilight, but with Rogue.” Young readers see it and say “Oh shit! It’s Twilight with Rogue!”

    Anecdotally, the book that got me back into comics after a four-year hiatus was The Long Halloween, when I was 18 years old. I’ve since come to see that book as a rather unabashed ripoff of the Godfather and an earlier Batman annual, but at the time, I was just psyched to be reading a mobster movie starring Batman.

    So while I agree that the novels don’t sound original or even good, I think they sound bad in exactly the right way to achieve their goals.

  4. I think these ‘romcomcapes’ novels are perfect for comicbook obsessed parents of Twilight and Vampire/Carrie Diaries obsessed teenagers, since now they can seek out these things and thrust them at their kids: “You’ll love this book! It’s just like Twilight but it’s about Marvel, which is both less and more horrifying”. The real question is whether or not it’s more evil to buy and support Stephenie Myer or Marvel Comics.

    I have more hope though for Disney’s Star Wars really, and disagree with Graeme’s continuity blues. Firstly I think that those of us deeply ensconced in geekdom should not be quite so haughty when it comes to the general audience and what they can and cannot handle: I listened to another podcast today, on The Hobbit film, in which the hosts kept dismissing the inclusion of plot points from the book carrying into the later films because a general audience just can’t understand something as complicated as a children’s book.
    If Disney decides to make an Old Republic or Dawn of the Jedi movie, the general audience will be bombarded by marketing proclaiming “BEFORE SKYWALKER, BEFORE QUI-GON, BEFORE YODA… THE DAWN OF THE JEDI, 3’000 YEARS BEFORE STAR WARS.” for months leading up to the film. Or perhaps the filmmakers will go for the Young Han Solo Chronicles and have Harrison Ford shoot a framing sequence or maybe we’ll get a Boba Fett movie set in the same timeframe as the new trilogy. Whatever spin-off they go for, I’m sure it’ll outsell The Clone Wars animated film anyway.

    Speaking of Clone Wars, I forgot to mention on the thread last episode that the beloved Jaxxon appeared on the show this season. Or rather, the corpse of Jaxxon – sent backwards through time and dumped on a Moebius-inspired planet – appeared on the Clone Wars. No, this isn’t one of Neal Adams’ Richard Shaver knockoff conspiracies ripped from the pages of Amazing Fantasy Magazine, this season saw the end of Jaxxon: http://www.theforce.net/latestnews/story/Was_Jaxxon_In_The_Latest_TCW_Episode_149269.asp

    QUESTIONS–!
    I just have two questions for Graeme:
    I) Bun Heads*, why?
    II) If you were a Gilmore Girls fan, did you ever feel sorry for Dean? Will you feel sorry for Dean this Valentine’s Day? I know I will.

    *or as I call it when it’s on here, “Bum Heads”.

  5. I know, I know, this is one of those damned double posts but I just need to correct something from my rant: I mistakenly said that Dawn of the Jedi is set 3’000 years before Star Wars when it’s actually set in the period 36,453 – 25,793 years before the Battle of Yarvin (BBY).
    This continuity stuff is kinda complicated.

  6. Apparently coffee has Black Kryptonite properties over one Jeff Lester.

    Destroying the 80’s action genre?!

    Roughing up his beloved Jack Kirby?!?

    Or…perhaps the beard is exerting its influence (brain slug)?

    At any rate, point definitely made about the power of going home again when the heart just isn’t in it. While Adams may have failed at a technical / choices level it’s pretty clear that his juices were at least flowing for the attempt. Forgive my vague Kirby hand waving but by this point his heart was just broken for property work, yes?

    Regarding Multiple Warheads: For me the series hit its peak with the back cover to issue #3. Sunshine makes a joke about funny looking love children and his companion replies with a worried look and, “but they’ll still love them, right?” That says it all for me about Graham’s work here. This is sure a funny looking love child that came out of a story about a dude getting a werewolf dick but he damn sure still loves it. That’s the “there” I needed. It was in the characters – not the story.

    RE Robert Kirkman: I urge you all to listen to Nerdist’s Writer’s Panel series of podcasts. Kirkman’s one on one is most recent and it has never been more clear to me that he is “one of our people.” There’s a healthy bit of winging it present in his working style and decision making. The trains have run on time for a long time. He understands the gift of Image (the company) and you can be sure that these decisions to do the Extreme relaunch titles at least crossed his “desk.”

    Most importantly. Critically so. He said “No,” multiple times until it was right to say “Yes,” over The Walking Dead because he learned the lesson that so many great creators fell under tank treads to teach today’s pros. You only have control until you say “Yes.” Once you’ve said, “Man I’ll write anything, do anything, be anything you want as a creator to get a check,” you’ve given up your control. You’ve given them license to do what they want instead of what you want.

    Brandon Graham either learned or knew that lesson from the start. Mark Waid learned it and paid an awful – awful price but I’ve never loved his work (personal or for hire) more. It’s now informed by not wanting to “grow old” with a company and get a gold watch but by burning it up and displaying his prowess and convictions.

    That kind of work and material is going to find an audience REGARDLESS of delivery system. Kirkman, Graham, Waid, Millar…These examples and scores more artists and writers are learning the lesson of getting outside the box. The only way to win is to change the conditions of the test.

  7. Regarding the Arrow/Green Arrow not matching, DC has a digital Arrow comic, after the TV show.

  8. Nicely said, J_Smitty.

  9. @Ian: Yup, you’re absolutely right: Joel Silver, not Lawrence. I almost literally headdesked when I heard that slip during editing. Unsurprisingly, since you are a generous fellow, you are being far too generous with Streets of Fire. By far.

    Look the guy did genuine, amazing classics and I’m not arguing that. But I think it is worth arguing that the ’80s wrecked that guy, and Stallone, too…and the time to argue it is now.

    @Abhay: I think this is the second time you’ve said exactly this same thing to me…but weren’t we, like, nude and covered in somebody’s blood the first time?

    @Cass: I am with you. It may not have come through well in the podcast since I am wishy-washy, but I think Graeme was being a little harsh about, at the very least, the ability of a press release to accurately convey a final product. I would like these to succeed (as would he).

    @JLB: Thank you for blowing my mind with that fun little fact. I’ve got a bunny and “easter egg” joke but my brain is refusing to let me make it…

    @J_Smitty_: This a very lovely post, overall, and interestingly, you nailed precisely my favorite moment and page of Multiple Warheads. I guess my problem is waiting for a moment in issue #4 that would equal that… In fact, in some ways, I think it might’ve made a better grace note for the end of issue #4. Hmm…

    As for Kirby/Adams, I think you inverted my point (which means I didn’t make it well at all). Adams does have his juices flowing, but it reads much worse than Kirby. Of course, at least for people like me, most creators are going to suffer in comparison to Kirby.

    But even though his heart was probably broken, and not especially interested in going back to Cap and Black Panther, his Devil Dinosaur, 2001, and Eternals work is pretty exceptional while still ostensibly being “property work.” While I think it’s tempting to say “Don’t go back,” I think the better lesson might be, “if you go back, you’ll probably fare better if you’ve continued to draw comics every day at a prolific rate, as opposed to having mostly moved into the realm of advertising work long ago.”

    anyway, your post was so intelligent and enjoyable, I had to chime in. Thank you for it.

    @Alin: Yes, but doesn’t that point even more strongly to “after the fact bandaging,” rather than a cohesive cross-platform plan that was supposedly a reason for all the shake-up in the first place?

  10. So, i’m guessing you recorded this before Geoff John’s announcement that he was leaving Green Lantern, and with a skip week you won’t get to it for another 2 weeks? Seems a shame after the interesting conversation you two had a week or two ago about what his “endgame” must be, and whether he was ever going to get to it.

  11. @bad wolf: Yep, recorded before! And I agree, kind of a shame … but maybe there will be more news and context for us by the time we next record so we end up with more stuff to discuss.

  12. Jeff: Have you read this NYT piece on the decline and fall of American action movies? The author is more fond of the 80s action movie than I am (though I share most of his picks for the creme de la creme), but I suspect you’d find a lot to agree with.

    (The article is basically the action movie counterpart of his jokeless comedy piece from a year earlier, which I liked a lot.)

  13. 1. That description of the new DC video game made me ill.
    2. I really want to read a good Green Arrow comic. Hell, I’ll settle for Not Terrible. DC doesn’t want my money, apparently.
    3. It’s okay to say that not all ’70s Kirby is gold. It’s even kind of liberating.
    4. The only times I can remember a writer returning to a comic he’d made successful and the results not being disappointing are Alan Davis’s return to Excalibur and Peter David’s second X-Factor run.
    5. Coffee-fueled Jeff describing ’70s Kirby comics was spectacular.

  14. @Marc: I hadn’t read either and they were both great. Just as you suspected, I did indeed find a lot to agree with. Though I think his jokeless comedy piece was actually much better argued and interesting.

    @Mike Loughlin: Good call on Peter David’s second run on X-Factor! I’m actually woefully underschooled on Davis and Excalibur but PAD’s X-Factor is a great pick.

  15. That was a great episode – Jeff should always drink coffee before recording. Seemed like Graeme just had to sit back and cheer him on.
    I was totally on board with the nostalgia tirade, particularly with old comics. I really like good 70’s comics, but not being around back then I have to do guess work and take some risks to discover new works I like. And sometimes, due to attempts at repackaging crap, I pay the price. Hence I own a hardcover Marvel Premiere of “The Search For Galactus” by Wolfman and Pollard, and also “The Secret Society Of Supervillains” by the editors drinking buddies.Terrible shite the both of them.
    I’ve recently read the Kirby Cap omnibus most of the way through, and it was the Zola storyline that stopped me getting to the end, after loving The Madbomb, so I’m glad to hear it’s not just me who didn’t dig it. My fave in that collection is the first annual in there – the farmer who teams up with Cap to fight aliens is hilarious. I really hadn’t expected Kirby to play a comedy angle, and really enjoyed it.

    I should also say that since I posted the questions, way back when, I sat down and read Fatale’s second arc in one go, and my opinion of the series rose considerably. It touched on a setting the Brubaker is more comfortable with, much like Scene Of A Crime, yet the 70’s setting felt less mined than 50’s noir.

  16. So Jeff’s missing ’80s action movie creator has to be Paul Verhoeven, right? Robocop alone should put him there, let alone Total Recall. (I know Total Recall was technically 1990, but it’s very much of the ’80s action movie genre.)

  17. Matt T,

    I can’t remember if he mentioned Spielberg but two Indiana Jones flicks really hits a high water mark. Then again it kind of depends what your definition of “action movie” happens to include…

  18. @Marc: thanks for those links, got a lot out of those articles

    Re: Rogue Touch = Twilight w/ Rogue.
    If they are taking popular books and subbing in Marvel characters the best thing to do next would be a Harry Potter style book set in Xavier’s School for the Gifted. In fact when I started reading comics, even after having seen the first and second X-men movies, I was expecting the comics to be roughly like Harry Potter with a focus on the kids and the teachers coming and going as the story demanded it.

    Re: comics w/o covers.
    Following up on your comments about the internet effect covers, I remember Seth Godin did a book with zero typography on the front which he justifed by saying something like “whenever you see this book online its going to have a description next to the image of the cover, so its redundant”.
    When you look up an issue of Batman on comixology it shows 1)an image of the cover which says BATMAN, usually with a giant image of Batman,
    2)a navigational history which reads “Comics >DC — The New 52>Batman (2011-)>Batman (2011-)#4″
    3)the title “Batman (2011-) #4″ with a short description
    4)A box titled “Batman (2011-)” containing covers of other issues in the series, which have the title on it and usually a giant image of Batman.
    5)Mousing over each of the images of the other issue displays a box which reads “Batman (2011-) #1″.
    6)Mousing over the image of the current issue you are on also caused the an alt-text to come up saying the issue.
    Maybe not leaving the covers off, but there may be something to leaving the title off.

  19. If we’re bringing Verhoven into the discussion than we are moving on to sci-fi. Indeed in the 80s things were very muddy between what was action, sci-fi, or horror. Oh, the arguments that video store clerks must have had on what movie goes into what section. But if we are bringing sci-fi into it then I say John Carpenter must be included because of Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China.

  20. I am glad I am not alone in regarding Kirby’s ’70s era CAP as kind of a trainwreck (and this is from somebody who just read THE ETERNALS and CAPTAIN VICTORY and loved, loved, loved ‘em).

    I think in a lot of his work from this period, you can tell when Kirby is not emotionally invested… which happens a lot when he’s forced to use other people’s characters or his own “old” ideas. In Jimmy Olsen, Cap, Black Panther, and the later (post-4th World) Mister Miracle, there’s kind of detached, restless, maniacal invention — as if he can’t work himself up to really care about the protagonist or the story, so he’s just going to keep throwing insane ideas into the meatgrinder.

    Sometimes it works — Jimmy Olsen has a madcap glee, and I kind of love Black Panther, though admittedly the book’s nutty strengths have damned little to do with the established character of T’Challa — to me, it works because the Panther ends up acting as the grounded straight man about whom whirls a colorful gallery of grotesques and surreal situations.

    In Cap, it’s kind of like he knows he’s stuck with a boring lead and can’t figure out anything to do with him besides speechify. I don’t think it’s a mistake that the Falcon comes across more strongly — Kirby wasn’t bored with him yet!

  21. @Ian Brill – Although it is an action/sci-fi, I always consider Veerhoven’s Robocop to be one of the first good superhero films. It does the superhero origin story much better than most.
    Whether he counts as action or not, Veerhoven is one of my fave 80’s/90’s directors.

  22. I’m always surprised by how down people are on Jimmy Olsen. I thought it was some of the strongest stuff in Kirby’s Fourth World. Probably the biggest burst of creativity comes in those first few Jimmy Olsen issues, and later chapters benefit from Kirby’s obvious affection for the Newsboy Legion. For me, Mr. Miracle was always the weak link. I mean, why would you want to read about a guy who wins his fights by cheating, and cheating in the same way every time?

  23. @Ben Lipman: I agree, and direct you to my appearance on the podcast Battleship Pretension where I talk about comic book films, and invoke Robocop as a great comic book film not based on a comic: http://battleshippretension.com/?p=10290

  24. trolling for lulz? I don’t even know what that means.

    And, what paucity of African-American creators? WE GOT OWLSLEY!

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