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Wait, What? Ep. 58.1: The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

Jeff Lester

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[Stellar fixed image courtesy of Ron Salas]

Uh, yes.  I am running sorrowfully late again, so I’ll have to kinda dash through all this verbal hubbub and let you know the who’s who and the what’s what:

Basically? It’s Wait, What? Ep. 58.1.  It’s a little less than an hour.  In it, Graeme and I not only discuss new DC 52 titles like Blue Beetle, Catwoman, Red Hood & The Outlaws (which I called “Red Hood & The Outsiders” which makes more sense but it a mistake), Batman, and Wonder Woman (and more), but also Chester Brown’s Paying for It and initial “sweet jeebis, is it pretty!” pre-review impressions of Craig Thompson’s habibi. Oh, and there are lots of shrieks from children outside Graeme’s window.  (At least he told me they were outside his window….) We apologize about that.

Anyhoo, the ‘cast is in iTunes (probably) and you can listen to it here (definitely):

Wait, What? Ep. 58.1: The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

Part two is around the corner, so there’s that.

Oh! And, of course, we hope you enjoy and thank you for listening!

26 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 58.1: The Minor Fall, The Major Lift ”

  1. I’m surprised you seem shocked that the DCnU reboot seems aimed at 15 year olds who want to sneak into movies. That’s been the tone of Didio’s DC since Identity Crisis. I’ve read all the reboot books and the sex and violence just feels like business as usual to me.

  2. For some odd reason, the photo substitutes on the Catwoman page make the sequence feel dirtier than the actual illos. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

  3. I haven’t listened to the ‘cast yet, but I just had to say that the photoshop above made Mt. Dew come out of my nose…

  4. Whatever happened to the Miller DK2 debate? I reread my Absolute Dark Knight to be refreshed and then the reboot happened and you guys haven’t mentioned it since. I was really wanting to hear the differing opinions explored.

  5. I was looking forward to the DK2 debate, too. I reread that turd in anticipation of it.

  6. FYI, the Batman & Nightwing writers (Snyder & Higgins?) were co-writers on the recent Batman: Gates of Gotham mini-series, so I’m guessing those two talk to each other.

  7. I mainly want to hear about Graeme’s encounter with the Family Fraction at the reading. I think my fascination with y’all’s fascination with Fraction now exceeds y’all’s actual fascination with Fraction. Sometimes I really hate either the internet or myself, or possibly the combination of the two.

  8. Also in a recent Higgins interview he made it seem like he plans on picking up plot threads and themes laid down by Snyder in his Dick Grayson Detective Comics run, which is more evidence that those two, if not communicating, at least try to stay aware of each other’s stuff.

  9. What I find fascinating about this last week or two is how (a) the response to the Catwoman and Starfire has gone beyond ordinary “that’s distateful” to … something weirder and deeper, maybe (?), but also (b) how little DC has attempted to control the narrative or get in front of the story. This is their big launch– it’s mostly successful; I’d hope someone saw that there’d be some internet controversy coming for those issues, and yet… as far as I know, it feels like it’s been dead silence. And so the last week or so, the big story with their relaunch has been dominated by this internet– I don’t know if it’s an overreaction at this point. During the INITIAL month of the relaunch– supposedly a sucessful relaunch, where they should have a lot of ways to change the narrative. Did they try to do something to change the narrative and I missed it because I was reading some horrible person inflict DC’s cheesecake comics onto her daughter for no reason, instead? Or … how did that happen exactly, you know??

  10. Good ‘cast guys. Can’t comment on Catwoman as I didn’t read it. I did flip through it and thought it looked hilarious – but not in a good way, just laughably awful.

    I also dug Batman #1. The artwork was reminiscent of Todd MacFarlane (yes, I know, the guy used to work for him or something), but with better storytelling and without the excesses. So it was like MacFarlane, only good.

    I for one hope that the various Batman series-es are NOT tightly tied together, for a purely practical reason: I simply do not want to buy four (or even two) Bat-books. I like the notion that you have four books with somewhat different tone, content, and takes on the characters, and you get to pick your favorite. I know that that makes a hash of ‘continuity’, and I guess I don’t care.

    The reason I dropped the X-titles, lo those many years ago, is precisely because of the ‘all-or-nothing’ way the publisher ran them. You couldn’t just pick one and follow it, you had to get all of them or you just would not have any idea what the heck was going on half the time. That sucked. If they start making Batman ‘all-or-nothing’, I’m going to pick ‘nothing’. And that would be too bad. But I’m not going to buy 4 books if I really only like one of them.

  11. I’m with Matt T. above. If punches weren’t thrown and/or tears shed, I’ll be very disappointed.

    Yes, I’m a horrible human being, why do you ask?

  12. Man, I’d prefer if Graeme & Fraction just shook hands & discussion of Fraction’s (allegedly) fragile psyche is never heard again. Love this podcast, but weird psychoanalysis of a comic writer based on his writing made me cringe.

    Unless you guys are being sarcastic then by all means I hope there’s a story in the next podcast about Kelly Sue Deconnick roundhouse kicking Graeme into a dumpster for badmouthing her husband.

  13. I love the psychoanalysis of Fraction. There are so many other podcasts about “this comic was good,” “this comic sucked” and it’s nothing new.Why take away something that makes this different from other podcasts but at the same time deeper and more ambitious, just because it takes us to uncomfortable places from time to time? Yes just sticking to thumbs up, thumbs down comics commentary is more comfortable and safer and maybe even more tasteful, but it is a lot more dull and less thought-provoking too.

    Maybe it speaks to us as comics fans. We’re in this hobby that’s highly steeped in escapism from the real world, a sort of vacuum, and we want that fiction of an escapist vacuum to continue into our commentaries too. But I find it fascinating when the discussion veers into interesting places like how there are people like David Foster Wallace who seem to find enlightenment and transcendence and seem to gain maturity and are able to get enough awareness to own all their demons, yet still kill themselves, while there are some who remain stunted and bitter in some ways and never get over their demons yet still live long lives, and who’s to say which approach is really the better one in light of that? Or when Graeme said “This feels borne of pain, and is about pain, yet struggles to find something meaningful to say in regards to pain.” That criticism was incredible, much better than the usual “storytelling was bad” or the “characterization was off” critiques I’m used to.

    Those two insights are things I can carry into the real world and actually use in other areas. That’s impressive. All I care about is whether the insights are good, not whether they’re unpleasant, and if they are uncomfortable that just makes them braver to me.

  14. You guys, particularly Graeme, really articulated everything that is completely wrong about these depictions of Starfire and Catwoman. The only thing that perhaps you didn’t delve into is just how shitty these comics make the MALE characters look. Batman routinely hate-fucks Catwoman? Roy Harper has no problem screwing his teammate’s girlfriend, as long as she’s cool with it? Wow.

    The Catwoman scene, and Judd Winick’s subsequent defense of it, were especially perplexing to me. Count me as one who has gotten more than a bit uncomfortable with your psychoanalysis of Matt Fraction. I was actually surprised by your last podcast when you both said you didn’t know Fraction; I assumed there was some secret backstory where he’d stolen a girlfriend or kicked your dog. So I don’t invite psychoanalysis of the writer of Catwoman. AND YET …

    I have read very few of Judd Winick’s comics. A few issues of his Green Lantern, and one or two of Barry Ween. What I mostly know of him is from his stint on The Real World, which I will admit to having watched at the time. And THAT Judd Winick was the stereotypical liberal, touchy-feely, p.c., Alan Alda-model sensitive beta male, who was best friends with the gay guy with AIDS, dated the Alpha Asian med student, and was mortal enemies with the rude, crude, sexist, insensitive, adolescent, aggressively politically incorrect ‘Puck.’ And yet, THIS Judd Winick seems to be writing a comic book specifically FOR Puck.

    Wikipedia tells me that he was a cartoonist for the San Francisco Examiner and that ARMISTEAD MAUPIN spoke at Winick’s wedding! He’s the one who did that famous gay-bashing issue of Green Lantern. So it’s not like it’s at all possible that he would not be cognizant of gender issues in media representation.

    It’s just weird. I also haven’t read very many Scott Lobdell comics, and he was never on a TV show, so I don’t know anything about him. Maybe this sort of portrayal of women isn’t surprising coming from him. Maybe he really isn’t cognizant of gender issues in media representation. But I honestly wouldn’t have expected it from Judd Winick.

  15. Maybe because I know matt a tiny bit and am aware that there’s a genuninely nice guy under all that asshole bluster and old Savant Magazine editorials, but Graeme’s double standard with Fraction, who he believes is doign all this subconsciously and is a real jerk as opposed to Johns, whose very real grief over his sister’s death is a matter of public record, why, he’s just not doing enough drafts, he’s really an okay guy under all of that, well, that’s not fair, Graeme. It’s not fair.

  16. @Dan Coyle: I’m unclear as to why you feel it necessary to repeatedly bring up Geoff Johns’ personal tragedy. Mr. Graeme McMillan has been quite vocal in the past about how he feels Geoff Johns is inadvertently revealing himself to unflattering effect in his work (see/hear his comments about the last Flash series.) With Flashpoint though, I’d say, Mr. MacMillan clearly feels the problem is primarily with a lack of polish/thought.

    With regard to Matt Fraction and Casanova; Mr. Graeme MacMillan is discussing a work the author is all too clearly intending to be some kind of grand personal statement. The book is all about the author and I feel that as long as the ensuing conversation is all about the author, wherever it may go, that’s probably okay with the author. I mean that’s the point isn’t it? Hey, everybody! Let’s talk about me! So Mr. MacMillan did.

    I’m pretty sure Mr. MacMillan has said that both writers would benefit from doing more drafts. A feeling I’m sure is shared by many readers of both Flashpoint and Fear Itself. And Thor.

    But then I don’t know Matt Fraction, Geoff Johns or Graeme McMillan. So I guess what I’m saying is ultimately worthless. But I will say this about Casanova: it is really nicely drawn and coloured. Anyway, Graeme McMillan, who is fast becoming the Will Graham of the Comicsverse, should have his hands full saving Chester Brown from himself.

    I understand the DKSA portion had to be edited out when Graeme McMillan broke down weeping with the realisation that he was totally wrong in every way about that particular masterpiece. It was truly humbling, I hear. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    Nice ‘cast, Mr. Jeff Lester and Mr. Graeme McMillan, thanks as ever!

  17. @cbrown: It’s probably relevant to note that Judd actually spent the Real World season PINING over the “Alpha Asian med student” while she was involved in a relationship, and only started dating her after the fact. From what little we know of him at the time, he pretty epitomized the classic Nice Guy model of dating.

    @Dan Coyle: Hey! I still like Fraction’s Savant essays.

  18. There’s a big reason why I don’t feel comfortable calling Judd Winick sexist in regards to the Catwoman story. It’s because the men come off looking pretty awful as well. The men come off as scumbags, slime, users, rapists, abusers, etc, and even the one good guy, Batman, seems to come off somewhat (no double entendre intended) impotent and wishy-washy, and at the end of the day he is like the other men in the book: a slave to his penis. He comes over with a specific purpose and gets easily sidetracked by her vagina. And it apparently has happened before, making him kind of her plaything. He, like the criminals at the party, is easily manipulated by sex.

    So to me, the problem with Winick’s Catwoman is the problem I have with all Winick’s work: it seems like an indictment against HUMANITY, regardless of gender. It’s vaguely misanthropic; it simple degrades people, not women particularly.

  19. There’s a dozen “big name” people working in mainstream comics who could have had their name on either of those comics– it’s just 11 of them are lucky enough to be fooling themselves thinking otherwise, right this second. It’s not Winick– it’s the culture.

  20. @Abhay 1st point – It’s like sales cover up everything and all anyone can hear is the sound of hearty slapping of backs and zippos sparking up to light victory cigars.

    2nd point – What does that mean? It’s his writer credit so unless the issue was written and handed to him the criticism of HOW he got to that last scene and the state those characters were in when they got there is something he owns.

    Even if the company line was “Alright, writer guy, you’re gonna gives us a Catwoman who does Batman on the final page and is treated as an object” there are still any number of ways to tell that story that A) aren’t horrifically degrading and B) poor representations of comics.

    A given direction doesn’t just turn into a final product, otherwise why have writers?

  21. “What does that mean? It’s his writer credit so unless the issue was written and handed to him the criticism of HOW he got to that last scene and the state those characters were in when they got there is something he owns.”

    Focusing on Winick misses the forest for the trees. If you hire the same kind of guy over and over and put them in a boy’s club and insulate them from criticism and tell them that their audience are all fanboy shitheads, you’re going to get lame Catwoman comics, these foul Starfire comics, [various other examples deleted because meh, let's not bother].

    Nobody’s necessarily a bad person– nobody means ill, probably. Dudes by and large are good dudes– there are a few bad apples but. Winick as “bad guy”– maybe he’s a great dude. Who knows? But a weird, sick culture is just going to produce weird, sick art– that’s just gravity. DC can relaunch the books, all they want, but … we all need to relaunch our hearts!!!! (Sorry…)

    Winick and Lobdell didn’t just make those comic– they’re not Crumb. Those were team efforts. A LOT of other people who had done a lot of work writing comics for DC got booted out of that relaunch at the last minute… but not them. Either nobody thought about what they were putting out into the world *during the FIRST MONTH of the relaunch*, or someone did think about it and think it was okay to put that kind of material out *during the FIRST MONTH of the relaunch*. Either scenario is just… it’s bigger than Winick, and I don’t know why I should think it’s just a DC problem…

    It’s the craziness of this whole megilla– comic creators trying to fix characters. The characters are the thing that’s NOT broken. Or at least, weren’t…

  22. Re: “Psychoanalysis of Fraction”

    It’s not outright psychoanalysis. It’s criticism, which, you may have noticed, is in the title of this website. Criticism isn’t saying a few surface statements about a work and then assigning an arbitrary score to it. Criticism is delving deep into a work, examining what’s being said on the page and also what’s being said beneath the page. If a work is considered “art” the motivations of the creators must be examined. So, analyzing Matt Fraction through a work he himself says is semi-autobiographical is not only understandable, but required to be criticism.

    Jeff and Graeme’s analysis of artists (not just Fraction but also Johns, Kirby, and Ditko to name a few) is my favorite part of the podcast and I’d hate to see it stop.

  23. [...] 2100 comments.  (If we could match that on this post, I would be pleased.)  Next I heard about Catwoman on the Wait, What? Podcast with Jeff Lester and Graeme McMillan.  They mentioned that Judd Winick made a statement about [...]

  24. Great episode. The junxtaposition of Paying for it vs Catwoman and the Starfire comic made for compelling listening. Well done, although I have been looking forward to Habibi and now I am a bit nervous…

  25. Re: the “Fraction Analysis”

    Anyone who’s read Casanova in singles has read the backmatter that Fraction includes (for the record, I haven’t read Avaritia #1 yet). He delves into very personal matters that informed the issue at hand, even going so far as to discuss, in very specific detail, the miscarriage his wife experienced when she was first pregnant. That was heart-wrenching, but Fraction put it out there for anyone picking up the issue in question to read. So, I see the analysis as well-founded, and I too find it an interesting part of the podcast.

    -chris

  26. Graeme said it best: “your truth is creepy”

    Soon to be available at a “Wait, What?” T-Shirt Emporium and Waffle Hutt near you.

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