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Wait, What? Ep. 118: Skypenet Techpocalypse

Jeff Lester

Why, yes, Stevie Wonder performing Superstition on Sesame Street is indeed relevant to this week’s podcast, thanks for asking!

After the jump, somewhat hasty show notes for our somewhat hasty episode (less than two hours?  What has happened to us?)

Yeah, so it’s funny.  Recently, we got an incredibly encouraging and generous email from a listener who was, unfortunately, fed up with listening to Graeme and I stumble about, complaining and crying out, whenever a tech problem popped up.  As a result, we made a promise to edit all that shit right out and do our best to master the arcane powers that control whether or not we’re able to podcast.

And then this podcast happened.  To which I can only say:  We tried, generous Whatnaut, we tried.

And with that foreboding note:

0:00-11:37:  “Something horrible is going to happen.”  Oh, if only we had known… Despite promising all of you (though some of you more than others), we would avoid tech problems talk, this episode was a bit of a challenge for us (as you’ll regrettably hear).  Anyway, our brief bit of non-comic talk at the opening includes the nature of consciousness, Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street (see?  Relevant!), the stomach flu (a discussion of which you might find it a relief the volume drops out once or twice), appendicitis, and finally…
11:37-30:23:  Comics talk!  We have two weeks of comics news and comics to catch up on–let’s start by talking about the first two issues of Age of Ultron. We are not down with it, but!  Jeff is enjoying both All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men by Brian Bendis. We talk about all of these things, in more-or-less a random order.
30:23-1:06:57:  Oh, and Doctor Timebomb asked us about doing  a post-mortem on Before Watchmen.  Jeff’s refused to read them so he’s not much help, but Graeme….well, Graeme is a different story altogether.  Operation: Blow Jeff’s Mind is in full effect!  Oh, and we also come up with one of the best marketing campaigns of all time.  You’re welcome, DC.
1:06:57-1:12:15:  And then for whatever reason, Jeff ends up talking about Bendis again.  Go figure.
1:12:15-1:17:35: Graeme and I speculate on what amazing seemingly passive-aggressive battle is being waged between Marc-Oliver Frisch and Heidi and/or the comics blogosphere at large over the monthly DC sales analysis over at The Beat.  Then, it’s time for our moment of admiration for House to Astonish, and that leads us to:
1:17:35-1:17:57: Intermission #1! (Oh, stinger music, how I’ve missed you.)
1:17:58-1:31:22: Marvel 700 on Comixology!  (Alternate title:  Jeff’s confession of self-abasement!)  We try to wrap our brain around what was intended with the giveaway, what was achieved, and Jeff links once again to Todd Allen’s article about digital comics codes in which Jeff is quoted. Because, yeah, that’s the way Jeff rolls.
1:31:22-1:36:36: Another way Jeff rolls?  With The Hulk.  With an eye toward maybe putting together a Tumblr that bites its style and charm from the FF 365 Tumblr, Jeff’s been reading a lot of early issues of the Hulk.  And Giant Man.  Oh, god.  Giant Man.  Lord, does he want to tell you about Giant Man.  But then…techpocalypse!
1:36:36-1:42:25: Okay, here we are trying not make a big thing out of twenty minutes of “WTF just happened there, it was like we were split into gatefold covers and then our goofy marketing initiative name was withdrawn…” and instead we just apologize at get back to Jeff trash-talking Giant Man and what he’d really intended to talk about with Graeme:  how long it really takes for characters to click. And then….
1:42:25-end: Techpocalypse Two! (I blame the number of times I said the name “Rick Jones” over and over right before the disconnect.) So we are reduced to me on Skype calling Graeme on his cell phone, having to apologize to everyone and then just sign off.  Because we have no idea what the hell to do.  So we’re putting out this call to our more tech savvy listeners:  if you happen to know who has put us under an evil curse? If you could talk to them and get them to remove it, we would be grateful.

Episode will be on iTunes shortly, unless that email I got a few weeks ago talking about iTunes’ shift in protocol has screwed us over entirely, in which case, uh, yeah.  Enjoy it while you can below, because the fiery post-tech world of the Age of Ultron has turned against us!

Wait, What? Ep. 118: Skypenet Techpocalypse!

Next week:  Hopefully more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff!

 

37 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 118: Skypenet Techpocalypse ”

  1. I’m surprised Graeme didn’t bring up the part about how BW Nite Owl also shows the story behind Rorschach’s “The End is Nigh” sign. Because if there was one thing we needed to know from Watchmen, we needed to know how he got that sign!

  2. Re: Marvel NOW continuity: Has Remender addressed Cap’s disappearance to Dimension Z in Uncanny Avengers? I’m not reading any of the team books, but can it really be that 616 Cap is in the standard MU, Dimension Z, and Age of Ultron Earth all at once?

    Also, if we’re to understand that Spider-Man is Otto in Age of Ultron, then the theory that it takes place before Marvel NOW makes no sense.

  3. @Cass: I imagine the Dimension Z thing will turn out to be one of those “time moves weird in other dimension so Cap returns five minutes after he left, despite being gone for years” things.

    I’m not clear on the theory that the NOW stuff is some kind of post-reboot continuity. What gaping holes are there that need to be filled in? Some books (Uncanny Avengers, Uncanny X-Men) pick up pretty directly from AvX; others like Daredevil aren’t technically part of Now but guest-star Superior Spidey or whatnot.

    Seriously, when was the last Marvel event that *didn’t* have some people expecting a reboot? If people keep guessing it’s going to happen, maybe they’ll be right eventually. (Even though a reboot probably doesn’t make sense for Marvel IMHO.)

  4. The distinction between folklore and mythology in relation to superhero comics is brilliant well done sirs.

    “The problem isn’t that it (Before Watchmen) wasn’t good enough, the problem was that everyone hated them (already)”
    If you’re speaking from the perspective of DC as a corporate entity, then sure, ok.
    The books being above average doesn’t make them any less of a indicator of DC attitude toward creators and quality, and the fact that a company with the largest bookstore sales for last year can do that is kinda scary.

    Re: confusing Jeff and Graeme’s voices.
    Graeme starts every episode by going “JEFF LESTERRRRRRRR” which caused me to associate Jeff’s name with the scottish voice. Took a while to undo that.

    Re: Jeff defending the integrity of his Marvel boycott
    Ha ha, classic Jeff

    Re: Books back in the day got to try out multiple concepts.
    Are we talking about Marvel and DC books? Cos between the number of new series that Dark Horse, Image, Boom, etc. put out now Im sure comics is putting out new concepts and takes on things faster now than it has possibly ever.

  5. Got a kick out of the Age of Ultron vs. Ultron UNLIMITED comparison, and now I’m digging up back issues.

  6. Re: Tech issues.

    Guys, I think as listeners our relationship to your tech issues can best be explained by a vague and misinformed comparison to Schrödinger’s cat. We don’t know if you have tech issues unless you inform us of that fact.

    (Wheels within wheels, fellas.)

    Re: Ultron magilla

    It’s funny that we still expect to be thrilled by something that is built off the original Secret Wars “Event” blueprint. Slamming things together for the sake of bombast rarely has a lasting impact. Shocking in a shellshocked world.

    Re: Cap’s crying.

    Best reversal of this that springs to mind is Christos Gage’s Union Jack four issue. Best run of a hero acting like a hero I’ve read since Millar completely muddied the waters with Civil War. It’s a testament to measured stakes and a character aspiring to his apex. Seek it out if you’re suffering mainstream malaise. Really nice Mike Perkins art to boot.

    Thanks!

  7. Almost forgot. Added to your pantheon of “Jesus, we had it good as children of the ______”

    Buddy Rich drum battling Animal on the Muppet Show.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_BmeBfV-O4

  8. Oh, J_Smitty — there was also a “Put Down the Duckie” jam that featured, among other things, Jeremy Irons tap dancing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiQsaEdJ1aI).

    Graeme, glad you’re feeling better. Great podcast, both of you, as always.

    Can’t comment on the poor understanding of physics in “Doc” Manhattan, but maybe I’ll sneak a peek. And have Jeff’s aneurysm for him.

    Loved the irony of this podcast…

    Jeff: “What do you mean, ‘tech’ doesn’t work?”

    Skype: LET ME SHOW YOU

  9. Thank you for the BW retrospective. I found the project distasteful at first, but I will admit the line-up for artists, although not writers, got me interested. Hmmm, perhaps a book entitled The Art of Before Watchmen could be made, where we get to enjoy Jae Lee and Adam Hughes’ work without worrying about the stories.

    As for tech issues, the Scriptnotes podcast records via Skype but also each host records themselves in Garage Band. It would require editing those two audio tracks together but it may also help the podcast.

  10. Hope the health issues continue on the upswing for the coming months. It’s refreshing to know that instead of sitting around and sulking how Skype tech is doing your podcast in, you both RISE UP and continue podcasting.

    I was wondering your Wait, What? opinion on the other Comixology news: the indy Submit section that’s up and running.

  11. Hey Jeff, I’m pretty sure there already is a Hulk 365 Tumblr page, in case no one’s mentioned it yet.

  12. Hey Jeff, I’m pretty sure there already is a Hulk 365 Tumblr page, in case no one’s mentioned it yet.

  13. @A.L. Baroza: Ahhhhhhh…dammit! Thanks for the head’s up. Guess I’m just reading them for fun, then. I wonder if all of the Marvel GIT Corp. DVDs have similar Tumblrs? (and by “I wonder,” I mean, “I should google and see”.

  14. The meandering, the rambles, the side-tracks, all of it, are definitely part of your charm, you should never change! House to Astonish is really slick but that style totally wouldn’t fit you two.
    It would be great though if you could get a tech-head friend to sort out your various technical problems. Maybe change your ISPs and try something other than Skype. We don’t want anything getting in the way of that crazy flow of yours’.

  15. My favorite part of this show, no lie, is the stress you guys cause yourselves whenever you do a 4 month Q&A session. Fuckin great. I can’t wait for your next one.

  16. I can’t wait for Sleepwalker 365.

  17. PODCASTERS–! I made the mistake of listening to you two -and your poo talk- on the train: I blame this podcast for having such a laxative affect on the Universe that it resulted in my arriving at the station platform to find that someone had just explosively defecated all over it.
    Anyway, speaking of combustible shit, how about that kerfuffle with Marvel and their technology partner? I can’t quite agree with Jeff’s conspiracy theory, it doesn’t seem like having headlines linking Marvel with massive server and content delivery failure is what they need when they’re trying to get that Marvel U streaming comics service going.
    However, I do have a Watchman conspiracy theory for you:
    I couldn’t help but notice that, in a recent Word Balloon episode, James Robinson mentioned that he’d just been at a DC summit and then accidentally called Before Watchman “Beyond Watchmen”. I’m not saying that this is anything, just that someone should probably let Rich Johnston know that DC is launching the following books in 2014:
    “BEYOND WATCHMAN: OUTRAGE” by Orson Scott Card,
    “BEYOND WATCHMAN: DIMINISHING RETURNS” by Geoff Johns,
    and “BEYOND WATCHMAN: 365″ by Jeff Lester and Graeme Green (Lantern).

  18. Jeff is right, Graeme is wrong. Before Watchmen does nothing to harm the Watchmen brand because the value of that brand is based upon the huge extant audience who has no idea — and never will have any idea — that Before Watchmen exists.

    It seems like a big deal to those of us in the comicsinternet bubble, but Before Watchmen has approximately zero impact on the property in the real world.

  19. RF,

    Well, it’s certainly minimized post movie debacle. If Watchmen had remained strictly a comics “property” I think they would have had an even more uneven reception in the larger world as well as the bubble.

    Now, however, the movie had pretty well knocked the pristine vase off the pedestal. It was no longer absolutely sacred ground and being the second disaster to come from the original text it was much less formidable a presence in the larger world.

    Like you said, this was DC looking to exploit the existing market and if it hit big maybe expand on it.

    I thought Graeme made the point that in 5 or so years they’ll just roll out some random anniversary edition of Watchmen and brush the dirt off their shoulders?

  20. I can’t believe Graeme said “The Azzarello comics are the worst Before Watchmen comics” and Jeff actually asked “Really? Why?” Even without reading the books, I already knew the answer: everything that guy does is incredibly cynical and out of character. And everything he does is way too pleased with itself and convinced of its own genius. It just surprises me how many people are still just coming around to this.

  21. Alan Moore may think that’s pee he’s feeling on his head. But in truth, it’s just the prelude to a torrential downpour.

    http://www.mycomicshop.com/graphicnovels/item?IID=24166735

  22. That “Marvel 700″ thing was an amusing clusterfuck. I happened to be reading something on the Comixology ipad app when it started, so when I went out to the homescreen I saw the banner and took a look. I figured I’d get a few, and clicked on a few of the Shanower OZ first issues and FF ANNUAL #1 and SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 (I just love the back-up features in those). And saw they were just giving download errors, and then the whole app became sluggish and unresponsive.

    So I checked out the website, which was still working, and added a few things to my basket, but before I could check them out the site blinked for a second and the basket was empty. Decided it would be easier just to click the one button to load all of a category into the basket, and decided to try with the “Marvel Cosmic” section, since it had that THANOS FINAL THREAT reprint of some 1970s annuals by Starlin that I’ve never read (the category with the OZ comics had too much Oscar Scarred Curse comics). Got almost through the checkout on that and the site stopped working completely. And I checked the next day after they stopped the sale and there was no sign of any of the purchases on my account, ipad or website.

    And now I just opened the app for the first time since then, and found they were all there some 40 or so comics, lots of ANNIHILATION/WAR OF KINGS/REALM OF KINGS stuff (with no hint of what order to read them in). Should make for some interesting reading.

    By the way, Marvel’s weekly selection of free comics right now includes ULTIMATUM #1 and AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #1. How much will I hate myself if I get those? They also have GRAVITY #1, which I’ve heard is a decent enough series. And a Simonson THOR from the middle of the Frog of Thunder storyline, weirdly enough.

  23. “That ‘Marvel 700′ thing was an amusing clusterfuck.”

    Seems like everything worked out. You got your comics after a brief delay.

    Which is what happened to me, as well. I’m really not sure why this is being portrayed as such a fiasco.

  24. I have to agree with Steve, constantly theorizing that every Marvel event will lead to a reboot is getting tiring and less credible every time. AvX was going to be a reboot. Then (and I know Graeme was quoting an iFanboy post) there was talk that Marvel had secretly rebooted things. Now Age of Ultron is going to be a…retroactive reboot? For a line of books that don’t feel rebooted at all? This is starting to feel like a friend who keeps saying a slang phrase, hoping it’ll take off but never does. Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen!

  25. RF, well, if the point was to get someone like me, who already knows print comics and digital comics, a few free comics, then yes, it was a resounding success (though if I’d had time to actually browse the selection, I’d have ended up with maybe 30 comics I actually want, instead of maybe 10 comics I want and 30 I’m mostly indifferent towards). In terms of getting new readers, both print readers who haven’t gotten into digital and people who don’t read comics at all, not so much. The website and app were so unresponsive (at times completely unavailable) that I doubt very many new people were able to create accounts and figure out how to use the site to actually buy stuff before the whole thing went down. And if I tried a new app, and within a few days it still wasn’t working, I’d have just deleted that thing by now, not logged on a week later to find the comics magically appearing.

  26. I guess I just don’t see what was so amusing about it. Or clusterfucky.

    That day I was able to purchase but not download, so I got some things and came back after they “paused” the giveaway and everything worked great. In other words, I had to wait approx. 24 hours for my free things.

    Of course the crash wasn’t ideal, but I’m certain that both Marvel and their technology partner will recover from this public relations catastrophe.

    Also, it’s worth noting: the Comixology tech support team is kind of amazing. Whenever I’ve had issues (twice), they’ve responded and fixed the problem almost immediately, including late at night and over the weekend. Maybe that’s why I’m sticking up for them.

  27. Speaking of clusterfucks, looks like this is a great news week for DC. Can’t wait to see you guys talk about the recent DC departures.

  28. Aargh! Just when you were talking about the early Hulk comics! Essential Hulk vol 1 is fascinating reading. What happens when a Kirby character becomes a Ditko character? The plotting tightens, the supporting cast shines, and the character shrinks. What happens when he goes back to being a Kirby character? The action takes over the plot, aliens pop up, and the character gains some physical heft. Too bad the Kirby layouts were drawn over by other artists. Oh, and Gil Kane shows up to breathe some life into the strip once it’s gone stale. Reading Essential Hulk vol 1 gives you whiplash.

  29. Which is what happened to me, as well. I’m really not sure why this is being portrayed as such a fiasco.”

    Because that’s how it’s always been, for the 25 years I’ve been reading comics. Marvel’s always pure evil, never acting in good faith, and DC’s the ones who mean well. This isn’t a Hibbs/Lester/McMillan/Kane thing, it’s a generalized thing I’ve noticed. Marvel is ALWAYS the bad guy, always worse than DC. hell, I’m half expecting Jeff to somehow spin the massive creative beatings at DC as somehow Marvel’s fault.

  30. The other weird thing is, not only is Marvel the bad guy always getting beat up more for diing the exact same stuff, but Marvel is also always the one accused of receiving favorable treatment by people online as well. I always see bloggers and podcasters accused of having anti-DC vendettas and being Marvel apologists, even though reality is nowhere close to that.

  31. Although in this case, with Comixology, I think they would have treated DC in the exact same way. I mean more in terms of things like Jeff’s boycotting of Marvel, while DC continues to drive away talent in droves (two more this week)

  32. Dan,

    I think the easy answer is that in the entirety of the “internet reporting era” the core buying group has never substantively changed.

    DC has / had a rep based on relationships with retailers and fans.

    Marvel has / had a rep based on bad distribution choices and being so “tyrannical” that the Image guys (and the ‘long hairs’ before them) were forced to seek greener creative pastures. I mean, in the Howe book, Marvel is painted with a sh*t brush they held in their own hand.

    All through that the same people have been buying the books. Anyone new coming in (especially since the dissolution of the newsstand) had to pass through the gateway of an established retailer / reader who had concrete opinions shaped by previous experiences. Newbie goes, “Ok, guess that’s how it is.”

  33. I think the easy answer is that in the entirety of the “internet reporting era” the core buying group has never substantively changed.

    DC has / had a rep based on relationships with retailers and fans.

    Marvel has / had a rep based on bad distribution choices and being so “tyrannical” that the Image guys (and the ‘long hairs’ before them) were forced to seek greener creative pastures.

    I think this is kind of a circular argument.

    Q: “Why does Marvel have such a bad rep and suffer from such negative double standards from online reporters while DC often gets the benefit of the doubt for the exact same behavior?”

    A: “Because in real life they have a bad rep and suffer from negative double standards while DC gets the benefit of the doubt for the exact same behavior.”

    That still never explains the origins of the double standard and why DC seems to get a pass a lot. I’m not attacking you, because you even admit in your comment that you’re giving the “easy answer,” but I’m really curious about what the “hard” answer is.

    I mean, in the Howe book, Marvel is painted with a sh*t brush they held in their own hand.

    Well, the book is about Marvel, not DC, so of course most of the shitty behavior in the book will be done by Marvel. That doesn’t mean that Marvel had a monopoly on or was doing most of the shitty behavior. For example if you read books that cover DC’s history as well, like Gerard Jones’s book, you’ll see plenty of shitty, exploitative behavior by them as well. Look at how it treated Superman’s creators for decades.

    Right now though, just in recent months, Gail Simone’s firing and rehiring, Rob Liefeld’s shots at DC, Nick Spencer opening up more about his problems while at DC, Fialkov’s exit, Andy Diggle…it’s weird how many shows we’ve gotten about Disney/Marvel’s abusive sweatshop ways but have gotten so little DC abuse and boycott discussion in comparison. Dan Didio even just publicly admitted at a convention that they had a problem with how they treat creative and promised to stop, which obviously hasn’t happened.

  34. Graeme, I’m not sure if you have any pull on the Newsarama “Top Ten” lists, but I would love for someone to write the “Top Ten Superhero Resurrections” in time for Easter.

  35. Gary, there is no Top Ten that Newsarama hasn’t already covered:

    http://www.newsarama.com/comics/10-best-comic-book-resurrections.html

  36. T. I think a large part of it is a holdover from the Levitz/Kahn era. Those two had a reputation of being creator friendly (they were allegedly giving the Siegel’s and Shusters more money than the original settlement called for, they retroactively gave Kirby participation rights in Fourth World, they refused to allow Watchmen to be touched) DC also always came across then as a fan-friendly company. Even early in the Lee-Didio publishing tenure, moves like'”Holding the Line at $2.99″ seemed received by fans as a “decent” move (even if said fans continued buying $3.99 Marvel titles instead) For Marvel’s part, they’ve always, it seems to me, tried to project a clubhouse atmosphere, and have often tried to cultivate that image by engaging in juvenile jabs at DC (from minor things like renaming a miniseries “Identity Disc” and releasing it simultaneously with DC’s “Identity Crisis”; naming their online comics service “DCU”, to offering rare variant covers in exchange for the ripped off covers of DC’s Blackest Night comics) I think those two different personas have been well-established and imprinted on fandom; they’re hard to shake.

  37. RF and Graeme: How about…ummm…”Top Ten Judases in Comics?”

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