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Wait, What? Ep. 48.1: Talk Itself

Jeff Lester


Sometimes I think Graeme and I would do well to learn something like moderation. We took a week off — a week off during which we saw each other and hung out, mind you — and then when we got back together we talked for something like THREE HOURS, almost all about comic books.

Yeah, but so then. Here’s part 1 of Wait, What? Ep. 48, wherein Graeme and I talk roommates (briefly), the Marvel Architects (perplexedly), Tom Brevoort (awe-struckedly), and, of course, Fear Itself #4 and Flashpoint #3.  I’m trying to be a bit better about the context thing so that link for Mr. TB takes you right to the article quoted in our episode my G.McM.

You should’ve been able to find this sucker on iTunes by now, but if not (or should you prefer to listen to it directly on your web browser), you can certainly do so here:

Wait, What? Ep. 48.1: Talk Itself

Future installments be coming along in the next day or so.  And, as always, we hope you enjoy!  Thanks for listening.

23 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 48.1: Talk Itself ”

  1. Great podcast as always, gentlemen! Always enjoyable. I think, for me, the main problem with Geoff Johns’ take on Barry is that from the very beginning… way back in Rebirth, he started off on the wrong foot by retro-actively killing off Barry’s parents. The fact that we’re supposed to believe that his parents have always been dead (except that… we’ve read about them in his original series lots) is just the wrong tone for Barry. Every time the character starts whinge-ing on about how his dad was wrongly convicted for killing his mom, I flash back to those issues of his trial where we see them sitting there being supportive. And those scenes in Flashpoint, where Barry is so excited to have his mom back also ring false because she never should have been gone in the first place. At his heart, Barry is a family man. When you remove that chunk out of the character in order to make him more interesting… you’re missing the point.

  2. RE: Comments section of the mp3

    Yes. I see them. (I like episode descriptions in my podcasts, so I just copy and paste the blog post if they’re empty.)

  3. @Murray: I think you nailed it. I never bothered (much) with the original Barry Flash title–I really came onboard with the Mike Baron relaunch–so I never followed the Trial stuff. But the idea of family man is a much better idea than the “man without a family” angle. Wonder if we’ll get that changed back at the end of Flashpoint?

    @Michael: Ah, good to know! I’ll try to get a bit better about slapping in some actual explanatory text rather than just mumbled asides. Thanks!

  4. Could NOT agree more re: the homogenization of Marvel. Almost everything reads like Bendis (and, to a lesser extent, Millar) comics now. Guess that’s why I’m buying very few Marvel comics at this point.

    Brevoort’s comments re: editorial mandate (and the group think environment) are STUNNING.

  5. Saving the cast for tomorrow but i must say that Brevoort’s comment about Fear Itself being so chock full of incident that an extra issue might be needed had me agape. That spread you used as the image lead is a perfect example of fluff and filler. anti-life equation on the comics page. I know you both hold Immonen in high regard and looking back at some old Hulk issues with Bruce Jones I can see why but there is a serious disconnect here between the script and the art. The script as delivered in the final produnct is so thin you can see how Immonen might think to give two pages to this and mustache pete / serpent. Or Mean Thing saying “Ha” alongside inset panels of his Worthy companions in a two page splash…where Serpent raises his army. My limited understanding of comics has always intimated that the alchemy between art and script exists as two forces propelling and serving each other. When script gives nothing to serve the art is just so many pretty pictures and when the art is so blandly laid out the script is just words with no anchor. No hook to drive key points or hang moments. Page after page of bland faces and poses in thin 4 panel page width grids. To hear Brevoort pass this off as some sort of comics evolution is traumatizing. It makes it easier to churn out product. To chum the waters with a bland offal that will inevitably lure in some poor bastard by sheer volume. It is not an improvement and that’s kind of the problem. He truly believes it is.

  6. I think you hit the nail on the head. Flashpoint would make a great Marvel Crossover and Fear Itself would be a great DC Crossover. The reason for this is that the Flashpoint’s crossover is based around a personal issue. Its the Reverse Flash doing something petty because he hates Barry. Most of Marvel’s crossovers are personal conflicts along those lines (like Inferno or Dark Reign). Fear Itself, on the other hand, is all about aliens interfering with human life. Most of DC’s best crossovers are all about aliens coming down and DC heroes standing against them (like Crisis on the Infinite Earths or Invasion).

    This may be how DC and Marvel are defining themselves. DC has done away with legacies and seem to be about (from what we’ve seen from the reboot solicitations) personal conflicts and heroes fighting eachother. Marvel has done away with heroes having conflicts with eachother and are all about the big icons doing battle against the opposition.

    DC is turning grey and Marvel is turning black and white.

    – l.k.

  7. I was interested in your discussion of Fraction and Casanova. I know that he did not like his job in advertising, so maybe he’s referring to that job in the preview pages and not his current work. I’m finally caught up with Fear Itself and see what you mean, but I’m still holding out a little bit of hope! Thanks for another great podcast. Made running in the 90+ temperatures tolerable.

  8. Another very enjoyable podcast. I hope you keep on keeping on with the Fear Itself/Flashpoint compare and contrast; since I’m reading neither I get to live vicariously through you two.
    I enjoyed your taking the piss out of the Marvel Architects thing. What struck me about it is the irony of Marvel adopting the concept, because I believe the “Architect” term was first coined in Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang’s wonderful Dr. 13: Architecture & Mortality series, and in that the DC Architects were squelching the spontaneity and imagination of comics by making everything conform to their limited view of what “mattered”. So, Architects – not a good thing, Marvel.
    Your mention of Green Lantern and Doctor Who in the same breath reminded me of how much the two are alike. Both involve big sci-fi alien concepts that always find a way to come back to Earth. Both have an ancient race of wise, benevolent overseers of the universe who are always bad news whenever they show up. Both have main characters who are, at times, seen as the “greatest” of their fold, but who invariably find themselves opposed to their mentors ideologically. I guess that’s why I’m kind of excited about the end of War of the Green Lanterns (which I did enjoy) and the DCnü relaunch, because if you’re going to have a renegade, who better than Sinestro?
    Dan makes an interesting point above: we know Casanova is autobiographical, but we don’t know which period in Matt Fraction’s life that he’s writing about. Autobiography has a bit more resonance with some time passed for reflection, so artistically he might do well to base Casanova on his past (Of course, if what you want is comics about how working in advertising will suck your soul out, you can do no better than Steve Gerber’s “Song Cry of the Living-Dead Man” from Man-Thing). Also, though I didn’t read it, I can’t help but think that Tony Stark’s “sacrificing his sobriety” isn’t Fraction commenting on his own documented sobriety choices.
    I don’t think it’s a big surprise that Geoff Johns’ Flash is a bit warmed over. As you allude to, bringing back Barry Allen was an editorial idea, and who better than the guy who made Hal Jordan’s return such a big hit? I remember reading an interview with Johns circa Flash: Rebirth where he’s trying to explain his handle on the character, and it’s basically: Um, the thing about Barry Allen, is he’s this guy, and he goes, like, really fast! I’m hoping his Aquaman is a bit more inspired.
    In closing, I think Tom Brevoort and Dan Didio are “Mirror, Mirror” versions of the same guy, with Didio being the one who knows when to shut up.

  9. My problem with Barry is the same one I have with Hal – neither or them want anything.

  10. I know its sort of bad to talk about other podcasts on someone else’s podcast site, but I thought you guys would be interested in the latest Word Balloon http://wordballoon.com/ with Martin Pasko. You have to fast forward through the Slott and Simone inteviews to get to it, but it is well worth your time because he really breaks down how DC Comics (with all the in-fighting and editorial issues) worked historically. It is really eye opening as how DC reboots occurred with a fairly lengthy examination of the editorial issues that lead to the reboot after Crisis and the Bronze Age revamps.

    It is a fascinating piece that seems to lead directly into your discussion about Flashpoint and the latest DC 52 Reboot.

  11. The key line buried in the exposition is how Barry *can* go back in time and change the past like Zoom does, only it’s tricky and so much can go wrong or different.

    That right there is setting up the DCnU in the same way Abrams rebooted Star Trek. It gives DC an out to revert back, and allows them to say their back catalog still matters while things are all new all different.

    Fear Itself is too cynical to take seriously.

  12. This may just be be Canadian nerd rage talking, but what annoyed the hell out of me in Fear Itself #4 was the sequence that supposedly took place in Salmon Arm, British Columbia. Salmon Arm is not on the Pacific Coast, it’s actually almost closer to Alberta than the ocean, so apparently Attuma/Nerkkod had been killin’ dudes while simultaneously travelling 500 km inland through connecting rivers and streams. This oversight must have been the work of Krussck, Breaker of Research.

  13. i agree, Flashpoint reads as unambitious and is now eclipsed by it’s already established result.

    and Fear Itself is perfunctory and as it pertains to Fraction’s involvement, very sad.

  14. “They think that they’re being creator-led because their committee includes creators.” That’s some good stuff.

  15. Also: Jeff’s sighs in this one were kind of epic.

  16. Man, I’m fascinated by Brevoort’s thumbnail description of the Ultimate Comics summit, or whatever the hell it was…. I can’t help picturing it as a little chamber drama, evoking that scene in OF MICE AND MEN when the geezer succumbs to the pressure to let Carlson kill his dog. With the whole psychotic alpha dog pissing undercurrent… “That dog ain’t no good to himself… I wisht somebody’d shoot me if I got old an’ a cripple.” Pretty obvious who Ultimate Top Dog is now: Millar run Bartertown. Embargo lifted.

    I mean — Bendis obviously had a lot of love for ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. 160 issues, cranking out at a regular clip, with none of the fits and starts and prima-donna-ism of the higher profile Ultimate projects.

    I was just glancing at a run-down of ALL the Ultimate titles since day one, and in terms of issues — SPIDEY had to be, what, at least a *THIRD* of them? And in terms of Ultimate titles, it was the HIT, right? So possibly, like HALF of all the actual Ultimate sales were Spidey? Not to mention it was probably a significant re-seller too — it seemed like the trades, the B&N omnibus, etc. were all doing great business.

    So one of your top writers on the line’s tentpole book is willing to keep going for two more years, and Mark Millar has a “better idea” because — what? — it’s going to magically reanimate the Ultimate corpse? Was Bendis finally burnt out on the project and didn’t feel like fighting for it?

    An odd move on every level, creatively AND businesswise — and it’s hard to believe that anybody ever really believed it was going to be anything more than a blip of a non-event.

  17. The hilariousness of ‘you know Bendis was on board because he didn’t turn the pay down’ aside, I’m more amused by the descriptions of all the stories killing Spider-Man apparently opens up ‘How will the world react? How will his Aunt and girlfriend react? How do the kids at his school react?’.
    Seriously, how could that ‘story material’ go for longer than a single issue?
    And even if you can drag that out for longer, how can that be more interesting that the two years of stories Bendis had already planned out?

  18. I think Dan Jurgens said in the early 90s they’d start every Superman summit by saying “Let’s kill him”, and then one year they basically ran out of ideas and decided to see where that storyline could go. I can’t imagine Brian Bendis really had two years of *fantastic* stories planned out and then decided to scrap them on a whim. I’m guessing they ran out of ideas for the character – a character who has been interpreted in multiple comics titles during it’s 50 year existence along with various movies, cartoons, video games, novels, etc. – and probably decided the book would sell about the same number of copies based on A) the title B) the writer C) the speculation.

    Ultimatum felt like the “President Doom” storyline from Marvel 2099 – a reshaping of the landscape that moves the key pieces around while keeping them mostly recognizable. The Death of Spider-Man stunt and the subsequent “re-imagining” of the Ultimate Universe from Spencer and Hickman reminds me an awful lot of the Marvel 2099 World of Tomorrow story/title – a last-ditch effort to keep the line relevant. Maybe this will have a different result from that book (which was cancelled after 8 issues), but maybe not…

  19. […] and concerns about grant morrison and rags morales’ upcoming run on action comics, episode 48.1 of the excellent wait what? podcast, the death of spider-man storyline (ultimate spider-man #155-160) by brian michael bendis and mark […]

  20. The American guy’s mirthless laughter while the Scottish guy reads an interview from a website made me deeply, deeply sad. Otherwise, an interesting conversation with many good points about the confounding Fear Itself.

  21. This bugged me too Cory…
    Did none of the Editors realize that Salmon Arm British Columbia is not a coastal town but in fact close to 800km inland, in the middle of the rocky mountains. It is on a lake which would explain the dead Atlantians as i don’t think they can breath “fresh” water

  22. […] grant morrison and rags morales’ upcoming run on action comics, episode 48.1 of the excellent wait what? podcast, the death of spider-man storyline (ultimate spider-man #155-160) by brian michael bendis and mark […]

  23. […] about grant morrison and rags morales’ upcoming run on action comics, episode 48.1 of the wait what? podcast, the death of spider-man storyline (ultimate spider-man #155-160) by brian michael bendis and mark […]

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