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Wait, What? Ep. 54: The Men Without Talk Talk Itself

Jeff Lester


Yeahhhh…. so Wait, What? Episode 54 is…kinda long?  I’ve been trying to break these bastards up into two parts so they’re a little less daunting, a little more accessible (kinda), but this sonuvabitch presented no easy way to cut into pieces — the traditional breaking point at around an hour was right when we were in the thick of things — so I thought it was better, in the end, to just give it to you as one prime piece of just-under-two-hours of auditory real estate.

And what a fine patch of ear-land it is, I must say!  Graeme and I talk Black Panther: The Man Without Fear Fear Itself; the Internet backlash on Grant Morrison; whether creators are the new superheroes;  Justice League Dark;  The Ultimates; Steve Englehart and The West Coast Avengers, and a big discussion on both Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Strikes Again and his upcoming Holy Terror. (Do you think we could cover only those topics in almost two hours? If so, I regret to inform you that you are mistaken.  We actually talk about even more.)

Like some ignoble desire, this podcast has been lurking in the heart of iTunes, but you are also invited to listen to it here at this very destination:

Wait, What? Ep. 534: The Men Without Talk Talk Itself

And I’ve mentioned it before, but will mention it again:  if you would like to email us with gossip, links, stories, and/or pantsless pictures of Abhay Khosla, our super-secret email is waitwhatpodcast [.AT.] gmail.com.

And I guess I always mention this, but because it is always true: thanks for listening, and we hope you enjoy!

14 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 54: The Men Without Talk Talk Itself ”

  1. Re: Grant Morrison backlash

    I gotta disagree with the assessment that the backlash is from the people who didn’t like Final Crisis. It really seems to be from the dudes who REALLY liked Final Crisis. But here’s my theory:

    If you’re Grant Morrison, and you say A, write about B and do C while writing some poor-selling Vertigo miniseries and your work-for hire comics star neglected Jack Kirby characters, then you’re a Scrappy Revolutionary Outsider Who Is The Only One In the Industry Writing About Things People Care About.

    If you’re Grant Morrison and you say A, write about B and do C while writing a best-selling Batman and Superman ongoing and having been a massive influence on a lot of other creators, then you’re a Disgusting Corporate Stooge who Writes About Things No-one Can Relate To.

    I can’t wait until no one gives a shit about what he writes again – that way I can enjoy it without risking my hipster cred.

  2. Re: DKSA

    You guys pretty much got to everything I think about it, bar:

    1) It’s kinda fascist.

    2) Despite what people may think, psychedelia does not automatically make coloring great.

  3. In the case of Superhero comics I would have to disagree the coloring in DKSA makes everything jump off the page. It is still the best BIG DAMN SUPERHEROS book ever printed. It shows those characters doing exactly what they do turned up to 11.

    I also am mystified by Graeme’s take on it being about an old man yelling at the kids, if anything that book is about change and the Youth taking over in place of the old, DKR also had elements of that but this is where it really comes out.

    That book is still the best modern window in what Silver Age comics were because you look into that book and it doesn’t look like anything you have seen before and is full of people with crazy powers doing crazy things.

    Also isn’t the idea of Doom and Kang fighting throughout time what Bendis did in the opening arc of Avengers only you replace Ultron with Doom? Also I think that plot is still going on and tied to all the apocalyptic visions characters have been having.

  4. Don’t get me wrong, I much prefer psychedelia to the drab over-rendered swill we get today. Just not when it’s executed absolutely terribly.

    And if DKSA is about Youth overtaking the Old, why does it read like a Geoff Johns comic?

  5. I like pretty much all of Azz’s bibliography! I recognize that Superman is not that great, but it has some moments of shining brilliance.

    Oh man, I disagree with so many things on this one! I think we’ve already had all those conversations, though. Have some bullet points, you dirty rats:

    -I’m hoping against hope that Holy Terror is good, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a trainwreck. At the same time, 200+ pages of brand new (well, “drawn between 2005-2008”) Frank Miller art? Hard to argue against.

    -Jeff and I agree on the point of DKSA. I wrote a long couple essays about that, too: http://www.4thletter.net/category/features/sons-of-dkr/

    -Miller’s Eisner’s The Spirit was the ultimate in fanboy movies. It was so bad and awkward specifically because Miller wanted to make a movie out of all the comics he loved, rather than a good movie. It’s the comic bookiest movie since like… Dick Tracy.

    -I disagree that for Miller the crappiness of old comics is appealing. That just seems sorta weird to me. The kitsch isn’t the value–it’s the craft.

    -I don’t know enough to know if DKSA is punk or not, but I do think that Graeme is correct that DKSA is an older man’s idea of what angry youth should be like.

    -I don’t remember commentary on the internet in DKSA, especially not how it fragmented the culture.

    -I do think Miller wants these characters to be free, but not like they were when he was a kid. He wants to bring back the capes from a time when they were exciting and larger than life. He even made Barry Allen sorta cool.

    -There was a moment Miller put in for 9/11–the bit where Superman says goodbye to Lois.

    -No way did Baker ghost Miller. I think by the time DKSA got started, they’d become friends after Miller going to bat for Baker over Superman’s Babysitter. That’s my guess, anyway.

  6. Re: Morrison backlash. I think rather it’s a majority of people who feel that the compiled Morrison is no longer “their Morrison.” This feeds directly into the creators as characters point that Graeme and others have put out there. The cumulative effect is a progression of Morrison’s work as a result of his success. As he has been maneuvered further into the common comics culture he’s been taken (taking himself) away from what initially endeared him to us as a creator. Some people have a problem with that and some small personal comments have given people a window into which they can cram their suppositions about “the man he has become!”

    Re: Kirkman and creator owned properties. I responded to the thread on your Robot Six blog, Graeme. (MY little red string diagram rarely points to Newsarama but on occasion…) I just have to say I think it’s extremely wrong headed to place limits on creators and what they choose to do with their creations. If anything it should be encouraged. To illustrate my point just replace Kirkman with someone you REALLY care about. Say back in the 70’s Kirby had had the wherewithal to create his own publishing line. Five years later he wants to pass off various fourth world titles to other creators. Fifth World and Sixth World titles then go on to make tons of money for Kirby to ensure that he gets all that he deserves and leads a rich full life free from want and strife.

    Tell me that would be a bad thing.

    Tell me you feel comfortable “poo-pooing” current creators for actually learning the lessons of the past.

    I don’t think you can.

    Re: DKSA’s inherent old mannisms. I think Jeff was on to something with the whole “unshackling” of characters and returning them or fast forwarding them to a place no longer constrained by “marketability.” I think that these companies have clutched their successes so closely to the chest they’ve largely smothered them for the monthly market and it takes a run of issues by someone with a fresh direction to bring people around and up to speed. I think if you’re also into interpreting Miller’s thoughts here you can go so far as to say the reason for the second book at all was to show that the characters of Superman / Batman as they exist can’t really cope with the world but Kara and Carrie are certainly better equipped. I didn’t really care for it myself but at some point I found a place on my shelf for it. As with most things the longer you keep it around and think about it you tend to give it more of a chance.

    All in all a very enjoyable ‘cast. After a bit of a downer response on my part I feel I owe it to you to link to Phil Noto’s tumblr. http://philnoto.tumblr.com/

    1) He updates it almost daily.
    2) His likenesses are VERY good
    3) He’s got a sixties and seventies ad agency design vibe which is great
    4) On page three he starts a series of “candid” photos from “Hank Pym’s archives” that are just freaking gorgeous and thoughtful. Jean / Scott & Wanda / Vision at the Hamptons in ’68. Vision in a bathing suit seems right up your Englehart alley. It’s a nice little time waster.
    5) Some boobs, so watch yourself at work or whatnot but all pretty restrained. Maybe I should have put that first?


  7. Having actually listened to the ‘cast this time, I have to say, I think Mr Graeme McMillan is correct in that DKSA is more about Frank Miller wanting the heroes to go back to how they were. However, like Mr. David Brothers, I think Mr. McMillan is incorrect in Frank Miller wanting them like they were when he (“he” being Frank Miller, not Graeme McMillan) was young, rather, I think he wants them to go back to how they were when they were created. More in line with Mr Jeff Lester’s super-perceptive comments on HOLY TERROR possibly being a contemporary attempt at a throwback ‘30s comic with all the (in)appropriate shonky violent wierdness.

    The key to this interpretation, for me, is the Wonder Woman/Superman rut of revivification. Not only does their smoky super love action fix Superman’s costume it also pretty much leaves him looking far more like the original Siegel & Shuster Superman than the knackered old chap the book starts with. The “S” insignia is the giveaway. That and the last line of the book. Also: Captain Marbles farewell scene with Wonder Woman is beeping incredible. I just like to point that out at every opportunity.

    As for the art I’m with Mr. Jeff Lester here. Tons of Kurtzman in there, tons of cartooning (big foot? Oh, yes, big hands too.) but also I think a heap of Kirby? Sometimes I like to think of DKSA as Frank Miller’s SUPER POWERS. And that, despite what anyone sane thinks, is, for me, in no way a bad thing. Geeze, I have absolutely no idea how Mr. Graeme McMillan can claim the art is lazy but I have no doubt the next episode will leave me in little doubt as to how Mr. Graeme McMillan can claim the art is lazy. Sheesh, Mr. McMillan read the Absolute so I guess he has seen the pencils in the back? That is some super-tight and detailed pencilling action going on there. The end result is artistic bravery of the genius kind in that it dares to present images that appear incredibly simplistic but are in fact informed and supported by decades of honing and buckets of talent. Actually that might just be proper drawing.

    Hey, remember when DC were talking about a mini-line of comics based in Frank Millers’ DKR/DKSA Universe? Do you remember that? Bet that turned your hair white, guys.

    I’m looking forward to HOLY TERROR a great deal indeed. Every image I have seen just amazes me. The fact that Frank Miller continues to keep his art moving into new and untested areas amazes me. He’s The Tank, sweetmeats, he’s built to off-road! His writing, okay, not so much these days, but, golly, that art. I am so, so glad Frank Miller is back drawing comics. Pull on your capes and saggy old man y-fronts, people! Comics is about to get honked off!

    Oh, yeah. The Ultimates is bad but The Ultimates 2 is just godawful. “Ooh, this isn’t working wait: Light sabres! BoOmSplOde! Lord of The Rings! BllAAaaaaAArgh! Gatefold dullness! WaaaAAArgle! There. Job done.” Pitiful. But Awesome=“The Graeme McMillan of Africa”.

    Thank you very much once again.

  8. Graeme, it looks like you might be the last man standing for your anti-DKSA stance! I would love to support your argument, but I haven’t read it in 8 years or so.

  9. Wait– did Jeff say he never saw COMING TO AMERICA?? If you haven’t… shit, I remember it being a pretty good movie, if you like Eddie Murphy. I mean, I don’t think it’s his masterpiece– I like Boomerang a lot more, and The Golden Child makes me laugh more. But I think Coming to America is about as good as Beverly Hills Cop, which I would guess is most people’s favorite. Plus, out of all of his movies, it easily, no question, has my favorite Eddie Murphy movie character in it, that being Randy Watson, the lead singer of Sexual Chocolate.

    Also: I obviously thought your “Grant Morrison backlash” conversation was just silly. The idea that there’s a “backlash” is just ridiculous to me– Morrison’s been around for, what, coming up on 30 years in comics…? JLA was in 1996. That’s the slowest “backlash” I’ve ever seen.

    He expressed stupid opinions … while promoting a book FILLED with his opinions! That’s what he was trying to sell– and people rightly pointed them out as being stupid, including people plainly WITHOUT axes to grind — the idea of Paul Gravett having axes to grind is exceptionally silly to me… How is that a backlash?

    The idea that he gets a pass because he puts anti-corporate messages into comics is… I don’t even know how to comprehend what you were saying there. Putting cute little anti-corporate messages into comics is the easiest move ever. People have built entire CAREERS in comics doing that. I don’t even …

    Because comics is surrounded by “fandom” instead of an actual audience, the default mode is ALWAYS going to be deference to opinions about comics expressed by comic creators, however half-baked or noxious. I don’t see anything wrong when that deference gets disturbed or people get pushed out of their default for 5 seconds. Plus, the current generation of mainstream comic creators are inheriting SO MUCH that other people earned for them, or at least helped earn for them. It’s not okay for them being unappreciative of that to become popular. Morrison getting a book deal that’s being promoted– he didn’t get that just on his own, by wishing it would happen on a sigil, and it’s not okay for him to use that spotlight to shit on other comic creators whose shoulders he’s standing on.

    But I’m honestly way more upset about Jeff not having seen Coming to America. Did you not see it because of Arsenio? Arsenio’s really pretty good in it– he’s just the sidekick anyways. And Eddie doesn’t do his motormouth thing if you’re not into that. It’s just … It’s just… SEXUAL CHOCOLATE! SEXUAL CHOCOLATE! (Which you don’t understand, fine, and… It wouldn’t have been funny if you had seen the movie but… I just really really like that character…)

  10. When you guys disagree on something, I usually tend to be a lot more in tune with Jeff, but re: DKSA I am totally on Team Graeme. I’m also sort of surprised that there’s so much DKSA love, as I mostly remember the vast majority of people hating it.

    I’ve heard the “DKSA-is-punk rock/underground comix-Batman” idea many times, and I just don’t buy it. I mean, what? After 20+ years in the business as one of the most commercially successful and artistically influential creators in comics, and transitioning into a career in Hollywood, Miller suddenly transforms into an underground punk rocker? Please.

    Still, your podcast made me go to the library and borrow a collection of DKSA, and I’m going to try to keep an open mind as I re-read it this weekend.

  11. I can’t be counted amongst the Morrison backlash, since he’s always run hot and cold with me – I’ve always thought Invisibles was superficial crap, for instance – but I think part of where this is coming from is, yeah, Morrison’s always said crazy stupid shit, but he used to be saying crazy stupid shit while putting out pretty solid books on a semi-regular basis, whereas for the past several years he’s done… what exactly? Final Crisis? This unending slog of mediocre Batman comics? I know some of these have their fans, but it’s not exactly Animal Man, y’know? For as many years’ worth of stupid interviews Morrison gave, he had a decent well of good will to fall back on. Now, though? It’s looking pretty dry. It’s a long, long way from Seaguy, We3 and The Filth to that issue of Batman Inc. that looks like it was crapped out the back end of Digital Justice.

  12. found that old jeff lester DKSA review. http://web.archive.org/web/20030106155307/http://comixexperience.com/savcrit073102.htm

  13. I’ve re-read Dark Knight strikes back recently and it is still one of the most embarassing examples of the genre.

    And the coloring is not psychedelic it’s just very basic and over the top.

  14. @hugs: God bless you for hunting that up! I’m gonna have to bookmark the crap out of that page…

    @Abhay: I should really respond to your very insightful comments, I guess? Because they’re god-damned smart and I appreciate it when super-smart stuff gets said in these comment threads.

    The problem? I’m in a poor position to defend Morrison, in part because the few comments I had read (like some of that shit in Rolling Stone’s excerpts) seemed like dumb off-the-cuff stuff that didn’t have a ton of context to them.

    I guess what I think I was surprised by–and I’m probably wrong here–is that Morrison is, for some reason, being chided on the Internet for openly discussing his bad faith approach to creating work-for-hire comic books for companies that screwed the actual creators. I have problems with this because at certain point all of us are aware that we are engaging in bad faith behavior by buying superhero comics.

    I am very aware that if I were to actually behave as my conscience dictates, I should stop supporting the fucking things and/or do so while trying to apply a certain amount of political action to, at the very least, make people aware of what they’re supporting when they buy this stuff. That is something I wrestle with–I’m really uncomfortable that people are judging Morrison on whatever bad faith reasons he uses to continue participating in the industry if they’re not addressing their own.

    And, again, this is ignorance talking, but I don’t see how what Morrison said is any more company stooge-like than what has been coming out of Brian Bendis’ mouth for close to a decade now. So, you know, if there’s something that Morrison said that’s markedly more monstrous or ignorant than that, I guess someone should point me to it? And if not, then maybe what’s noteworthy about what Morrison is saying isn’t what he’s saying, but the fact that *he* is saying it? And if that’s the case, that suggests to me either a backlash or the idea that people held Morrison to a different standard–and both of those ideas are worth exploring (although, admittedly, probably more thoroughly than Graeme and I did in our discussion).

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