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Wait, What? Ep. 51.2: Nothing and All

Jeff Lester

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What’s that saying? “A day late and a dollar short?” The Early Bird Gets the Podcast Entry?” I don’t know…something like that.

In any event, the rousing conclusion to Wait, What? Episode 51 is here with Graeme and myself talking X-Force #12, Captain America and Bucky #620, Witch Doctor #2, Walking Dead #87, Criminal: Last of the Innocent #2, Kirby Genesis #2, Dan Slott’s Spider-Man and Paul Levitz’s Legion of Super-Heroes, and — believe it or not — more.

Itunes? Why yes, it’s there (or should be) but it is also very much here, ready to be listened to and perhaps even loved:

Wait, What? Ep. 51.2: Nothing and All

As always, we hope you enjoy it and appreciate your patronage!

9 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 51.2: Nothing and All ”

  1. I like the Miles Morales move, and hope — probably vainly, but whatever — that this will move the Ultimate line to what it always should’ve been: a genuinely dynamic, growing Marvel Universe.

    That said, I’m with you guys in wishing that someone other than Bendis was writing him. Here are a few folks who I think could do better:

    Christopher Priest. No idea what he’s doing now, and part of my reasoning for including him is that I’d just like to see more Priest comics, but he’s handled both Spider-Man AND tricky racial topics and even the occasional teen character. Seems like a natural fit here.

    Bryan Lee O’Malley. I’m sure he’d rather do anything on earth than this gig, but … well, if I were trying to make a comic appealing to modern sensibilities, you could do a lot worse than the guy who wrote Scott Pilgrim.

    Joe Hill. Dude can flat-out write, and I think he could bring some uniqueness back to the Ultimate line.

    Mark Waid. If he could reach back for some of his Impulse-era tricks and tie them to his Daredevil sensibility, could be terrific.

    Aaron McGruder. Hey, I’d buy it.

  2. Listening to your comments re: burnout, Levitz’ style, Colin’s points about UXM and his subsequent discussion of the “Nudie” Spider-Woman Avengers issue, and Graeme’s explanation of drop-in drop-out readers definitely has me feeling the “herding cats” mentality.

    One serious flaw that all your talking points circle: As decisions come based on reader reaction and purchasing habits I fear a whittling of that already depleted reader base through fatigue, confusion, value perception, content choice and on and on.

    If writers now have no better weapon than to endlessly hammer us with – and this is important – what THEY think is the most pulse pounding, sense shattering, extremist spectacle until they think up the next most pulse pounding etc. etc. then we’ve reached an impasse.

  3. Liked your latest podcast, as usual.

    1) Jeff, I share a lot of your feelings about current superhero comics, not liking the way they’re structured but not really knowing what I do want from them. When you talked about the screenwriting challenge that “the stakes have to be personal for the hero,” it made me think of something that I’ve felt has been lacking in superhero comics for a long while. To me, it seems like the superhero genre is one in which the stakes DON’T have to be personal for the hero. The superhero’s essential job is to intervene on behalf of someone ELSE, to prevent a crime or avenge an injustice or save someone from peril. A lot of the Golden Age stories would begin with a superhero flying around and literally stumbling across someone in trouble. A lot of the Silver Age Teen Titans stories would begin with teenagers from some little town literally calling up the Teen Titans and asking for help with some problem. There was that period in Gruenwald’s Captain America where Cap sets up a 1-800 number for people with problems to call in!

    There were NO personal stakes for the heroes; they were just doing their job, which is to help a brother out. And that lent a metric shit-ton of weight to the few stories where it really was personal. The O’Niel/Adams Ra’s Al Ghul stories were so powerful because it was a really rare occurrence for Batman to have a personal stake in an adventure.

    I rarely see any hint of that in today’s superhero comics. It mostly feels like all these super-powered people having grudge matches and pissing contests with one another. The big cosmic threats are TOO big and abstract relate to. The threats of the Yellow Lanterns or the God of Fear or whatever are like the debt ceiling crisis to me. I’m like, “Yeah, that sounds like it’d be really bad, whatever it is.” And on top of it, what I’m supposed to be really care about is not this threat to the earth, but the fact that Black Widow is sad that Bucky died. (BTW, I didn’t actually read either Green Lantern or Fear Itself. I’m going strictly by youse guys’ podcast summaries!)

    2) If I were Marvel, you know who I’d try to get to write the Miles Morales Spider-Man? A guy from out of the field, but who is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and has serious Marvel fanboy chops, and is a Dominican-American immigrant. JUNOT DIAZ.

    Now, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has demonstrated that accomplished writers from other fields who are fanboys don’t necessarily make good comic book writers, true. But if Marvel were to get someone like Diaz to write latino Spidey, it would be an epic win in the news cycle. And who knows, maybe they asked. But I doubt it.

  4. I must be the only one who liked Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa MK-FF run. I thought it was fun, fresh and respectful. Re-“imaginings” rarely get more than one of those three things right.

  5. Man, I love that Junot Diaz idea. Love it.

    And, Corey, I also really enjoyed the first arc of the Aguirre-Sacasa MK FF run, but for some reason I can’t remember ANY of the rest of it. I know I read it, too. Weird.

  6. I’m always late to the party – finishing up the previous week’s podcasts when the new ones come up and rarely bothering to comment, since I am behind – but to hell with it. I’m going to throw my two cents in (two cents that are probably not terribly original, but there you have it).

    So . . . craft.

    It seems as if this is the term brought out when we don’t enjoy a comic but really want to say something good about it. But it seems to me that part of the “craft” of creating a comic should also include the ability to engage the readership and make them want more. Craft should also incorporate enjoyment into the mix. Personally, if I don’t enjoy the comic, I couldn’t care less about the craft, regardless of whether Alan Moore is writing or Tom DeFalco.

    As an example, I am finally reading Grant Morrison’s JLA run, which I’ve wanted to do for years. Thanks to the inter-library loan department (it’s the bee’s knees, Jeff) here at the library where I work, I’ve read the first two collections – along with a number of other good, and not-so-good, books I missed the first time around.
    I’ve written about it at my blog, but the abridged version is:

    I found it difficult to get through New World Order. I thought it was appalling, and much of that was due to the art of Howard Porter (his Liefeldian portraiture an example of “non-craft,” I’d say). It also didn’t help that the mystery of the White Martians was printed on the freakin’ back cover, so even that bit of redeeming storytelling was ruined for me. In the end, I could see – and Morrison made sure he explained it for us – how he set up the White Martian plotline, but I just didn’t give a damn at that point, and no manner of craft could have made me appreciate this book at all.

    But, with the second volume – American Dreams – I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Maybe I was becoming acclimated to Porter’s art, and having Oscar Jiminez drawing the two final issues in the collection certainly helped, but there seemed to be a lot more to grab onto storywise in this collection. The dialogue between Superman blue and the minister at Metamorpho’s funeral, the triumph of T.O. Morrow when Tomorrow Woman actually developed a moral compass and did not kill the JLA, the Key’s plan to have the JLA discover they were in a dream-like state and use their “victory” over him to successfully complete his plan of conquest, and other similarly wonderful bits that made this second volume so worth reading. I enjoyed the hell out of it, and was able to appreciate the craft that went into creating these stories by Morrison, because I found them so enjoyable.

    For me, craft is the thing I notice and appreciate when I’ve already been emotionally invested in the story. It’s similar to something Stephen King wrote in the afterword to his collection Full Dark, No Stars – he doesn’t write to make people think; he writes with the intent to have readers engrossed in the tale, and if they find something to ponder once the book is closed, he’s done his job well.

    -chris

  7. Corey, I shouldn’t have singled out Aguirre-Sacasa. I didn’t love that FF run, but I didn’t hate it, either. I could have used any one of a number of examples of out-of-comics writers who came into comics and disappointed.

  8. @Matt T: Yeah, Lauren Davis mentioned the Junot Diaz idea right after we posted, and I’ve been kicking myself for days for not thinking of it. I love your other suggestions as well, especially the Bryan Lee O’Malley one. Waid, of course, is another good one, but it reminds me of how great IMPULSE was, especially with its way of conveying another place. Having Waid on USM would almost seem like a past glories kinda deal…

    @J_Smitty: Very good point, and I think the really scary part is, a la Watchmen, that whittling has already happened.

    @CBrown: *Thank you* for that point about superheroes; it’s been bugging me forever and I’ve never been able to articulate it in exactly that way. I think the modern screen conception of drama has been arguably incredibly detrimental to superhero comics and you perfectly nailed why. The comparison to the debt ceiling and the hilarious “Yeah, that sounds like it’d be really bad, whatever it is” are also spot on. Well done!

    @Corey (Ottawa) @MattT and @CBrown: To be fair, I think Aguirre-Sacasa has come up for a drubbing by me a lot lately so it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s leading some of the cues. I totally don’t mean to hamper anyone’s enjoyment of those previous issues (and, as always, I’m glad they worked for somebody) but I was frustrated at how much they didn’t work for me.

    @Chris Beckett: These are pretty good points on craft, although to be fair, I think you were robbed of a chunk of enjoyment on that first JLA trade with the White Martian spoil–that reveal was actually a perfect example of craft, since Morrison joins it to showing why Batmman is the deadliest member of the League. It was one of those moments I remember people talking about in the comic shop for the next few weeks.

  9. Jeff,

    I expect you’re correct in your assumption that, without that spoiler, I could have enjoyed the book better. I really couldn’t believe it when I read it. I’d just finished the first issue of the collection, turned the damn book over, and there it was – the @#$*ing reveal! It reminded me of the trailers for the LOTR: TWO TOWERS film where they included Gandalf in the ads. Most of the people watching the films had never read Lord of the Rings, and the return of Gandalf in The Two Towers was one of my favorite parts of the book and so well done. I don’t understand why they felt the need to ruin the surprise, but what do I know?

    Anyway. Coupled with the Porter art, I think reading that spoiler on the back cover just soured me completely on New World Order. I’ll have to return to it, once I’ve finished the run.

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