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Wait, What? Ep. 76: Dares, Wins

Jeff Lester


And Lo, There Shall Come…An Answering!

For most of you, anyway.  I fully confess Graeme and I did punt on a few questions that were either complex enough to take up a full podcast at a later date, or so good that it would require better men than us to answer it.  (Ah, yes: the old “It’s not  you, Listener Question, it’s us” strategy–never leave home without it.)

Anyway, as you might imagine with so many exceptional inquiries, it would take us a while to answer them–and of course us being us, we’re going to go egregiously off-topic, right?–so, yeah.  Two hours and forty minutes is what we’ve got for you. We talk so long Graeme turns into The Lord of the Flies at the end, and if I was less tired, I could make some sort of joke about me having the conch/gronch William Golding/James Stokoe free association/condo association…but obviously I am far, far too tired.

So lemme just say:  we talk scheduling and artistic teams on DC; new 52 titles and teams we would like to see; The New 52: Threat or Menace?; Marvel movies and costumes in superhero movies; alternative sexual relationships in comics; 2000 AD and Shonen Jump Alpha; our favorite books of the 80s; a moment in Defenders #3 I totally blew past; J.M. DeMatteis‘ run on The Defenders; The Shadow, The Red Circle, Milestone and other commandeered characters; X-Men franchises vs. Teen Titans franchises; speculation over the changes in the Marvel dancecard; real world landmarks in imaginary worlds; our favorite Superman; Dr. Who; John Byrne’s Fantastic Four; Rick Jones; Downton Abbey comics; the Shooterverse and, as you’re probably used to by now, much, much more.

iTunes? Hopefully.  Here? Most definitely:

Wait, What? Ep. 76.1: Dares, Wins.

Thanks for your patience with us and, as always, we hope you enjoy!

36 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 76: Dares, Wins ”

  1. Diff’rent Strokes and all, but I’m a little surprised you (JL) didn’t enjoy Defenders more. Three issues isn’t such a long time to get the band together and have a crazy adventure, and it actually felt pretty whiz-bang to me. (Whiz-bang being a positive in this case.)

    Maybe it’s because I don’t have a Fraction-shaped chip on my shoulder? That’s not a complaint/jab — I just feel like maybe your complicated feelings toward the writer is coloring your experience somewhat. I’m not automatically predisposed to love all the guy’s stuff, but with my mind wide open, this story is hitting a bonkers sweet spot that was absent in (frinstance) Fear Itself.

    Having said that, I’d like it even more if it was a three dollar comic book, but I feel that way about my car payments as well.

  2. Still listening, but Namor buying a movie studio with the goal of embarrassing the FF is still a great idea.

    Marvel and DC decided to take themselves so seriously so they could make mainstream movies. And then they looked at Chris Evans in the Avengers…

  3. RF: Thanks for the comment and I totally agree with you–my experience was definitely colored, though not just with Fraction: as you know if you’ve been listening, I currently have a tremendous amount of ambivalence about supporting Marvel, about paying $3.99 for a comic, *and* about Fraction’s “this is going to be totally awesome because it’s going to be me visiting Jeff’s most cherished Marvel memories and not being bothered to explain how a deathtrap works.” (See my complaints about the book’s second issue.)

    As I said, I liked the authorial voice Fraction was working out but clearly wasn’t willing to give him the time of day to connect Dr. Strange’s comment about Omega Prester John to the original Omega The Unknown. And I think that’s due to all the stuff written above.

    It varies a lot, though. If this was Fraction writing the same book as Challengers of the Unknown for $2.99 at DC, would I still be buying it? Probably…although in some ways, I’m just as weirdly proprietary of The Challengers of the Unknown as I am of the Defenders and might be similarly pissy there.

    Anyway, I appreciate you calling me on it (especially as kindly as you did) because I think that’s one of the most valuable things a critic can have–enough of a clearly expressed bias so readers/listeners can know when to take the comments and reviews with as much salt as necessary.

  4. I just started listening, and I have to say, I hope (that Daredevil editor) wasn’t listening to you two discuss the art team change-ups with Marvel.


  5. I don’t think that a Dr. Strange movie would work, but a Dr. Strange TV show would work really well if you followed the Dr. Who/Buffy the Vampire Slayer template. Every season you change Dr. Strange. Make him like the Doctor from Authority where the new doctor can consult the old doctor. But for the most part, keep Dr. Strange in the village where he’s a consulting mystic with manservant Wong. Every season he fights a little bad and a big bad. The Big Bad ends up killing him and his cloak finds a new Dr. Strange.

    I think that would work as a nice gimmick and keep each season different by virtue of having a new Dr. Strange.

  6. RE: Landmarks I’d like to see in comics.

    I would love to see the Lex Luthor Presidential Library, or the Presidential Library of the Marvel U Nixon who committed suicide when Captain America unmasked him.

  7. My god, it was like Graeme became Swarm from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

  8. I can see how Jeff, if only exposed to nu-Who, might see that connection between Doctor Who and Superman, particularly since the RTD relaunch explicitly framed him in the mold of American superhero stories, Superman and Buffy in particular. But Jeff – if you really want to get the appeal of Doctor Who, you need to see Classic Who. Check out Tom Baker. Rent The Deadly Assassin, City of Death, or Genesis of the Daleks. It’s a very different show with a very different character – it’s far less “all-powerful alien who loves everybody” than it is “your mad uncle who putters around the universe in a broken time machine.” The entire thing looks like shit, but it has, to my admittedly nostalgia-afflicted eyes, a rubbery, shoestring-budget charm, held together by Baker’s performance as a sometimes friendly, sometimes unnerving haphazard alien anarchist.

  9. HAHA, why didn’t I ask what you thought of Indigo Prime, Graeme? I have no idea. If you’d like to share your opinion of those issues, I am all ears because I still haven’t bought them.

    Thanks for the comments on buying anthology comics, it is a weird sort of comics-buying algebra that goes into deciding if they’re worth the cash.

  10. On costumes, I think movie creators should try and aim for the bride in Kill Bill volume 1 look. The yellow jump suit seems like the closest thing to a comic book costume that I have seen work in a movie (at least it worked for me).

  11. On costumes as well, does the inverse hold? When comics end up pushing the pragmatic real-world looks in the pages of the source material?

    It bothers me. Is that picking a nit or does anybody else feel that way.

  12. On costumes, I think movie creators should try to aim for the seventies-era period dress that Wes Anderson characters typically find themselves attired in. Hawkeye in a faded orange sweater vest, the Vision in a rumpled corduroy jacket with leather elbow patches, etc.

  13. ah yes, the Smallville method. Regular clothes used for symbolic and prismatic effect. The Hulk wears green and purple, Iron Man: red and yellow, Daredevil: all red.

    Any style of dress so long as the characters possess the correct color ensemble.

    And plenty of hoodies.

  14. Next time, on WAIT, WHAT?

    Jeff: Oh, interesting, interesting.
    Jeff: Right. Right, right, right.
    Jeff: [eating sounds]

  15. What do you guys think of Steven Wacker’s online-troll personality since you think highly of his abilities as an editor?

  16. If you guys think a horse possessed by car is wonderful insanity, the film Ninja 2 will blow your minds. It’s all about a psychic breakdancer possessed by the ghost of a ninja. I never thought I’d describe anything like that, but I always hoped I would.

  17. The end of this podcast is kind of amazing.

  18. Jeff you are correct One Piece is nowhere near ending.

    Also the Hickman wanting to do Iron Man makes total sense. Beyond the futurist angle he has already used Howard Stark as one of the people in Shield and all Hickman’s books except for Nighty News & Transhuman have been about family and specifically fathers and sons.

  19. Isn’t Hickman’s dream project his creator owned stuff?
    He has two series coming out from image and doesnt he have another 1 or 2 in the chamber?

    Also, crazy prediction for new Avengers writer: Joss Wedon.

    Its funny that DC doesn’t put more care into how it treats other lines of characters it acquires. Seeing as nobody is knocking on their door with new ideas after 75 years of not being great about creator rights, its pretty much the only place they are going to get new characters from.

  20. Damn, posted this in the wrong thread- the perils of posting while looking after a seven month old! But here it is again:

    Jeff, your observations on Doctor Who are interesting, as they’re very similar to a conversation I had with a friend once who had grown up with the 60′s and 70′s Superman. While talking about childhood heroes, both of us agreed that the core concepts are the same: an alien who prefers not to fight trying to make the world a better placed and who does not kill, unless you’re a robot (or Dalek, in Doctor Who’s case).

    Which brings us to the Jack Kirby version of an existing character that I’d have loved to see. After seeing his pages from the Prisoner reprinted a year or so back, I’d have loved to see him be responsible for a Doctor Who comic strip. The core character (a god like alien with the ability to change his appearance, but only when he “dies” and his time machine against alien robot creatures who are the ultimate nazis) already sound like a Kirby Kreation.

    Add Grant Morrison writing it, and I’d be in heaven.

  21. I want to see Simonson on Hardware but have Hardware sharing the book with Steel, and the name of the title can be Black Metal.

    The negative controversy of the title alone should be good for some sales.

  22. If Grant Morrison ever did a Doctor Who comic, I’d like it to be like LEVIATHAN STRIKES, where half the comic is PG-13 schoolgirl porn, and half the comic is just the protagonist struggling to walk across a room while being yelled at by an inexplicably omnipotent-yet-dead supervillain who can only be defeated by sheer willpower and gumption.

  23. If Graeme had a cult around him, it would be a cargo cult where everyone sounds sort of auto-tuned like space crickets and wore crude Galactus helmets as they huddle around an IPOD that fell from the sky with all of the most recent episodes (including this one) of Wait What on it.

    And anyone who could make this into a T-shirt design would probably help out Jeff with justification that Wait What is important part of his livelihood.

    – l.k.

  24. RE: moose n squirrel

    Not if they had Vernon Reid from Living Color write the book. I’d definitely read that book.

    But I think a Hardware/Steel book would be interesting. They have very different philosophies, even if they have similar methods. Steel is very much a good guy. Hardware is a “by any means necessary” sort of guy. They would be the post-Crisis Batman/Superman relationship of the nuDCU.

    – l.k.

  25. To pick at a nit that’s come up a couple times in the podcast (including this one), I’m not so sure that Marvel would be able to significantly bump their sales long-term even if they did do a reboot. We’ve kind of already seen a Marvel reboot already – back when Marvel launched the Ultimate line. And while that line was pretty strong to start with, it pretty quickly devolved from its original intent (a slimmer, trimmed-down Marvel Universe that would be more welcoming to new readers) to the spectacle of watching Bendis, Millar, et al trot out Ultimafied retreads of old characters (it’s Dazzler again… but now she’s a punk! It’s Gwen Stacy again… but now she’s a punk!). We’re already seeing some of that with the DC reboot: less an urge to tell stories than to adapt pre-existing ones. That’s an exercise that gets real old, real fast for existing readers, and probably isn’t terribly compelling to those mythical new readers, either, since it so often relies on the frisson generated by re-interpretation (Colossus is gay now! Kitty Pride is fucking Spider-man!).

    I can theoretically imagine a Marvel reboot that doesn’t turn into a retread of the Ultimate line, but I can’t imagine such a reboot coming out of this editorial/publishing/corporate environment, in this climate of economic panic and the creative conservatism that generates, managing to do so. And I can’t imagine such a project succeeding creatively or financially in the long term.

    (For that matter, I don’t think the DC reboot has proven itself to be a creative or financial success yet, either. What I think it’s proven is that a line-wide reboot is a more effective stunt than a line-wide crossover – but whether anything will have actually changed eighteen months from now remains to be seen.)

  26. “If Grant Morrison ever did a Doctor Who comic, I’d like it to be like LEVIATHAN STRIKES, where half the comic is PG-13 schoolgirl porn, and half the comic is just the protagonist struggling to walk across a room while being yelled at by an inexplicably omnipotent-yet-dead supervillain who can only be defeated by sheer willpower and gumption.”

    So, Russell Davies Doctor Who then?


  28. You guys know that Morrison has done Doctor Who comics right?

    I havn’t read them so cant comment on how insane they are. Wonder if any listener here has?

  29. That’s a lot of podcast! I’m only about an hour in so far.

    But re: the franchising of X-Men versus New Teen Titans … I was a big fan of both books in the 80s, and had an unexplainable fondness for the Silver Age Teen Titans even before the Wolfman-Perez run debuted. It seems to me that the appeal of the Titans at that time was that it was almost by definition tied to the concept of the shared DC universe. Without the backstories of those sidekick characters, backstories derived from multiple separate characters, the whole idea of the book makes no sense. (The Teen Titans cartoon sidestepped the issue by focusing on the NON-sidekick characters, except for Robin. Did the cartoon ever acknowledge Robin’s connection to Batman?)

    The X-Men, on the other hand, always seemed sort of separate from the rest of the Marvel Universe, to a degree. They created their own X-Universe, which you didn’t need the Avengers or Fantastic Four to explain.

    That is, subtract Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash, and the rest of the JLA from the world of the New Teen Titans, and the Titans make no sense. But subtract just about all of the Marvel U, and you can still have an expansive X-Men universe.

  30. To go off of CBrown’s re: the franchising of X-Men versus the Teen Titans, I think the reason why the Titans worked when it did was that it was part of the shared universe, but also that each of the main newish characters (Cyborg, Raven, Starfire) each had a foothold in a specific DC Universe. Cyborg allowed you go to any sci-fi tech sector of the DCU. Starfire allowed you to go into space opera. Raven allowed you go go to the mystic horror. They were new windows into different sectors of the DCU. The returning Titans also had their entry points too: Dick Grayson’s story is all about growing up, Donna Troy’s story is all about knowing where you came from, and Wally’s story is all about falling for the wrong person, and Changeling’s story is all about dealing with childhood trauma. So while the new character provided a window into different parts of the DCU, the older characters provided a place where you could discuss teen issues about growing up.

    Wolfman was very skilled at layering these subplots together. That’s why the Teen Titans Go TV show worked really really well because each season was basically a “growing up” story (season 1 with Robin), a “falling for the wrong person story” (season 2 with Terra/Changeling), a sci-fi superhero story (season 3 with Cyborg), a horror story (season 4 with Raven), and another “dealing with childhood trauams” (season 5 with Changeling). It was all about each character creating a story vehicle for which the team can physically and emotionally attack. This, more than anything else, strikes me as Joss Whedon’s true inspiration for Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the metaphor of growing up and fighting villains that are personifications of bad relationships just seem more of Titans territory than X-men territory.

    In the end, what ends the Teen Titans is just that these people grew up and faced/defeated their problems. There’s only so much you can stir up the pot before it just doesn’t work anymore. When they introduced the Team Titans is sort of like Season 6 of Buffy where everything just felt “off.”

  31. @moose n squirrel

    You managed, in 3 paragraphs, to explain exactly what’s wrong with the New 52, and why a Marvel reboot would be creatively DOA.

    Marvel is in a tougher position because so many of their characters are high profile in other media. But DC, outside of Superman and Batman, really had carte blanche to truly start over with brand new takes on their core concepts. I wish they’d done that instead of this warmed-over version of the past we’re currently seeing (some exceptions apply, of course).

  32. Listened a bit more today and more Titans Talk! Re: the ‘breakout’ Titan . . . Jeff almost said it, but I would have to say it would be Nightwing. Nightwing has never reached Wolverine-levels of popularity, but he does have a big fan base, has supported his own book for a long while, and has been appeared in other media. He’s a character who is now seen as a core member of the Batman universe, but remember, it was Marv Wolfman who turned Robin into Nightwing, in the pages of New Teen Titans.

    If you haven’t guessed, I’m one of those people who thinks that New Teen Titans is secretly awesome. I didn’t know it was a secret, though.

  33. After thinking about Jeff’s Superman/Doctor Who comments i realized that my favorite incarnation, the 9th doctor (obviously) was more like Batman: dark and moody, with signs of PTSD and survivor’s guilt, brilliant but very human-scale, who finds new purpose and meaning with a young protege (a Robin, i suppose).

    Part of my enjoyment of that season was that that this re-imagining of the Doctor after so many years had some particular resonance with me; and partly it holds up as a single, stand-alone season of adventure. I must admit i have lost interest in the show itself as it has gone in its current direction.

  34. This was fun; thanks for this.

  35. (For that matter, I don’t think the DC reboot has proven itself to be a creative or financial success yet, either. What I think it’s proven is that a line-wide reboot is a more effective stunt than a line-wide crossover – but whether anything will have actually changed eighteen months from now remains to be seen.)

    I agree, except I think a line-wide reboot is pretty much the same as a line-wide crossover, except on steroids. You need to buy every title to get a full picture of the new DCU, so many people felt the need to (and did) buy every single issue of DC that month. Not to mention there was a theme of the Pandora cameo appearances, lending to that interconnected crossover feel (“Red Skies” anyone?). But the best part of it is it’s open-ended. When does this crossover-in-disguise end? When the first six months is done? After a year? When the significance of Pandora is revealed?

    Some people praise DC for its reboot by claiming it shows a willingness of DC to move away from the recurring crossover model and experimenting with someting new when they did the reboot. I on the other hand think DC with the reboot actually pushed the crossover to an absurd extreme.

  36. Very interesting on the whole Titans X-Men evaluations. Jeff’s point is very well-taken, however: Titans doesn’t hold up because now every book is people out of uniform talking about their feelings. At the time, that was new. Now its so old it hurts.

    And maybe Titans didn’t franchise as they were effectively ALREADY a franchise of the JLA…..

    I’m going to take this moment of Titans nostalgia to link to Brad (Threat or menace!) Meltzer’s essay on Tara/Terra Markov.


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