Podcast - Episode 109: Young Avengers (Marvel) by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung

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The 2017 Living Between Wednesdays Summer Book Club is nearly done! We'll be ending it next week with Spider-Man: Kraven's Last Hunt. But first: it's Young Avengers by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung!

I seriously can't believe how old these comics are. 2005?! Seriously?! Steve Rogers still thought Bucky was dead! He didn't know how much worse the truth is!

Obviously between this recording and the day it was posted, Disney announced that J.J. Abrams will indeed be directing Episode IX of Star Wars. But maybe a weekly podcast isn't your most reliable source for up-to-date entertainment news.

If you want to read the "article" about how "Leonardo DiCaprio" "told" Stan Lee that he "wants" to play him in a movie, it's here.

And if you want to see some adorable Pennywise illustrations by J.Bone, here you go!


And if you want to see a picture of Sebastian Stan in VERY tight pants at TIFF last week, here you go:

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He's gonna need help taking those off, I think...

See you next week for Kraven's Last Hunt!

Podcast - Episode 71: Favourite Comic Book Creative Teams

This week on the podcast we list some of our all-time favourite comic book creative teams! Because, just like Dave and me, sometimes it takes two awesome people coming together to create magic.

I should mention that we are aware that the Buckaroo Banzai news is now irrelevant now that Kevin Smith has removed himself from the project. That happened right after we recorded this episode.

Oh, and also, I can now confirm that it's Jeff Le-MEER, not Jeff Le-MYER, so I have been wrong all these years. Also, he is very nice.

Do I have anything to link to this week? Not really. 

Here's the link to that little Mark Waid/Chris Samnee interview about Black Widow and Winter Soldier, I guess.


Here's a picture of Sebastian Stan at a spin class?

Oh, to be on that bike behind him.

(Oh, to be that bike? Nah. That's weird.)

Thanks for listening!

How Has Sgt. Fury Lost His Shirt This Time?

Sgt Nick Fury is the toughest son of a bitch ever. His original comic series, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos is a Stan Lee/Jack Kirby triumph. The book is everything macho, with the Howling Commandos bravely following their fearless leader into battle after crazy battle. Usually a good percentage of the Commandos are pretty battle ravaged by the end of each issue, and Sgt Fury himself always, always loses his shirt completely. I don't know how many shirts would realistically have been issued to a WWII Sergeant, but Fury is definitely blowing through the U.S. Army's uniform budget.

I would say close to half the time Fury is just ripping his own shirt off and blaming it on battle. Sometimes he has a shirt on in one panel, and then is just wearing tatters in the next. No explanation. None needed.

Let's look at some great moments in shirt loss.

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #1

Cause of shirt loss: threw a grenade at a tank and got caught in the explosion.

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #2

Cause of shirt loss: It seems to just kind of disintegrate while he's firing a machine gun.

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #3

Cause of shirt loss: This is actually how the issue opened, Fury shirtless in the snow. So, who knows?

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #4

Cause of shirt loss: I would like to say it was related to the lion that shows up in this issue, but as far as I can tell Fury just takes it off at some point off-panel.

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #5

Cause of shirt loss: Fury voluntarily removes it so he can sword fight Baron Strucker.

NOTE: Fury doesn't actually lose his shirt in #6, even though he was in the desert the whole issue. On to #7!

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #7

Cause of shirt loss: Almost everyone loses their shirt in this issue, so I think he maybe ripped his open in solidarity. Unclear.

The shirtless shenanigans continue, and eventually he meets Captain America and Bucky:

It just never stops. Sadly, the shirt loss epidemic doesn't spread to Captain America.

Nick Fury possible goes through more shirts than Bruce Banner. It's definitely a close race.

Blackest Night: Wrestling Women

I brought home this quarter bin issue of Maxwell Madd and His Wrestling Women because, well, I like an easy target.

Maxwell Madd is your classic skeevy, 80's cool dude who looks like an emoticon. He hangs with a crew of muscly sexxxy ladies who wrestle bad guys, and each other. In this issue they have to hang out at Madd's rich (but sadly deceased) uncle's haunted mansion, and fight vampires.

I was ready to make a bunch of snarky comments about this ol' hunk o' junk, but then I read it, and it really wasn't so bad. Sure it's pretty dumb and gross but you get the feeling the creator really tried. And there were a few good jokes in there! For real! 

The creator, by the way, is one David C. Matthews (avoid confusion and note the "C." Although wouldn't it be awesome if it turned out Dave Matthews had created Maxwell Madd and his Wrestling Women?) David C. Matthews has a dumpy little website where he chronicles his stunted comics career, the highlight of which is Satin Steele, a porny comic about a lady body builder.

Satin Steele dips a bit too deeply into the psyche of David C. Matthews for me, thanks. (There's something depressing about sketches of weird creater-owned characters just hangin' and the Satin Steele site has a montage of those). But in his Satin Steele prologue, DCM kinda gets to the heart of what we need from comics.

"[Satin Steele is] not my earliest creation (that honor belongs to the afore-mentioned "Leenah"), but the one that I felt sure would become my "signature" property, as Batman was for Bob Kane and Superman was for Siegel and Schuster. And whereas a majority of my work is designed to appeal, firstly to me, and secondarily to my fellow fans of "femuscle", Satin was aimed equally to the "mainstream" reader - the "normal" person who may not necessarily like even the idea of "muscles on girls" but who'll respond to a well-crafted story that provides drama, humopr and strong characters"

It's humoprous, for sure. Typos aside, I think duder is right that comics can be about anything, as long as there's good characters and a good story. David C. Matthews is also wise to bring up Shuster and remind us that the comic industry was built by pervs. I keep forgetting to mention this, but Vice Magazine, in their comics guide issue, had a great piece about Craig Yoe's new book Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's co-creator Joe Shuster.

It features Shuster's pervy soft-core porn comics that star beefy dudes who look just like our favourite Kryptonian. The book looks amazing, and the pictures on the Vice site are strange and sexy and hilarious.

So what am I saying here? That given the right circumstances David C. Matthews could have been the next Shuster? No. That a stupid, porny comic isn't necessarily bad? Maybe. That my brain has gotten a little soft from too many ten hour days at the comic shop this week? Definitely. I'll be back next week to make fun of stupid shit.

Loki is cool with me.

Now that the role has been cast in the upcoming movie, I would like to put forward an argument that Thor's villainous brother Loki, the God of Mischief, isn't all that bad.

Take this early apperance in Journey Into Mystery #88, for example. Loki comes down to Earth and starts "terrorizing" humanity by...

...turning everything into candy and ice cream.


...diffusing Soviet nuclear bombs.

In fact, the only remotely frightening thing that he does is turn a bunch of people into blank white versions of themselves:

But even that isn't so bad because he has no intention of leaving them that way:

I ask you, wouldn't you rather have this guy around than the one who hurls a giant hammer around and makes lightning strike everything?

Review of Prose, By Johnathan

I think that I may have alluded to the fact that I was an English major in University a couple of times (though with the amount of theory that I've forgotten since then I basically have a degree in Reading Stuff, Forming an Opinion on it and Writing That Opinion Down, at length. Hey! That makes me perfectly qualified to have a comics blog, doesn't it?) and so it shouldn't come as too great a shock to find out that I'm not just a comics nerd and an Internerd, I'm a a prose nerd, too! Okay, also a mythology nerd (Classics minor, word), drama nerd, etymology nerd, history nerd, plant nerd, animation nerd and listener to nerdy music. And ladies, I'm available.

Comics and prose are the biggies, though. I love me some good fiction, yes I do. To that end, I just purchased a book entitled Who Can Save Us Now? (Owen King and John McNally, eds) which is an anthology of short stories about some brand new super-heroes. I haven't opened it yet, so the only solid info I have is that there's a story about someone called The Rememberer, but buying it got me thinking about other text-based tales of the super-hero and whenever I get thinking about things like this I feel compelled to share my thoughts with you lovely folks.

First off, I think I'd list a lot of old pulp yarns as fantastic examples of what superhero text should be: action-packed, character-driven and fairly short. That's not to say that a long, introspective novel about international diplomacy as seen through the eyes of UN goodwill ambassador Courage Lad wouldn't potentially be great, just that I'd likely read a few novellas about the Mighty Turbine giving robotic aliens the business in between volumes. I haven't read nearly as much pulp fiction as I'd like, but for my money I'd have to recommend Doc Savage and the Spider - the Shadow is great and all, but I prefer the radio show. Of course, if we're travelling back through literary history here we could talk about Gladiator (Alas, I haven't read it), The Invisible Man and other such late Victorian proto-science fiction or my man Sherlock Holmes. Heck, we could pull in Arthurian legend, Greek and Norse mythology and the original Dynamic Duo of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, but then this would turn into a much longer and much less focused post. Because it's so incredibly focused right now.

Harry Newberry and the Raiders of the Red Drink, By Mel Gilden. Man, I loved this book when I was a lad. Come to think of it, I still love it. It's a young adult novel written in an absurd style reminiscent of the incomparable Daniel M. Pinkwater. The titular Harry Newberry is a comic-obsessed kid who ends up discovering that the seemingly boring world around him is actually jam-packed with complete weirdness. There are a lot of fantastic touches like people running around in completely thrown-together costumes and... man, I don't want to spoil this one at all. Most libraries seem to have this one on hand and I say: go read it! It's got the best idea for a pizza restaurant ever, I swear, and some of the best brotherly interactions in youth fiction.

Chance Fortune and the Outlaws, by Shane Berryhill. I picked this one a few months back. Judging by the study questions at the back it's also aimed at young adults, but it's a solid read. The title character, though he's been highly trained by an old-school superhero, has to lie about having luck-based super-powers to get into hero school. The Outlaws, his in-school supergroup, are a bunch of engaging characters - there's lots of good teen drama (as opposed to the all-too-frequent bad teen drama) and a rivalry with another, super-douchey team and a sinister plot to foil. Plus, the school's department heads are a pretty good JLA pastiche. Oh, and there's a highly entertaining training battle against a team composed of anime-style super-heroes!

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon. Not strictly a super-hero novel, but enough of the reality of comics creeps into the characters' regular lives to be good enough for me. I can't say too much about this one that hasn't been said before and better, but I'll put it in here anyway because I know a lot of comic fans who haven't read it. Read it! It's a good, good novel, with lots of delicious character development. Stan Lee makes a brief appearance, proving my theory that his super-power is an incredible ability to make cameos.

The Wild Cards Series, Gerorge R. R. Martin, ed. I've read maybe seven or eight of the eleven million or so volumes in this series, and while they were none of them terrible I definitely liked the shared-world collections of short stories more than the later "mosaic novels", partly because I liked some of the contributors more than others and the shifts in prose style got kind of jarring at times but also because the whole thing got so damned dark after a while. The basic story was great: aliens decide to test an experimental mutagen on Earth and it gets released over New York in the late Forties. Most people who are exposed to the stuff die and most of those who survive are radically mutated (these are called Jokers, thanks to a running card-based naming convention). A very small percentage ed up with very super-heroey powers (these ones are called Aces) and part of the series' mandate is exploring how the presence of all of these guys shapes subsequent human culture and history and such. There are a lot of neato characters, like Croyd Crensen, the Sleeper, who falls into years-long comas and wakes up each time with different powers and a new appearance and lives a cycle of sleep and increasingly desperate and stimulant-fueled wakefulness. Or there's Captain Trips, a super-duper hippie who has multiple powered identities accessed through hard drug usage, or Kid Dinosaur, who can turn into dinosaurs and is basically a fanboy who follows other Aces around and annoys them. The first couple of collections are highly recommended, ayup.

Of course, there are all of the books that are about characters that originated in comics, but frankly, I haven't read too many of those. I remember a book of Spider-Man short stories that I enjoyed (the Internet says that it was called The Ultimate Spider-Man), especially one called "Kraven the Hunter is Dead, Alas", though what it was about escapes me these many years later. Marvel books were always fun to read because they always had some nice original artwork inside - I especially remember liking What Savage Beast by Peter David, which had the Maestro and a neat picture of all kinds of possible alternate Hulks (Scaley Hulk! Hairy Hulk!).

Okay, that's it. There are a lot more books that I wish that I could read (say, Superfolk) and others that I have read and subsequently forgotten the contents of (Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask, for example). And I can't seem to even find the damn Hellboy novels. Do they actually exist? Perhaps in the future I will expand on this rambling, unfocused entry. Feel free to clue me in to things that I should check out.