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Jan 14

House to Astonish Episode 76

Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 by Al in Podcast

New year, new podcast, with loads of chat on the launches and cancellations of the New 52, DC’s unusual late shipping and potential new logo, Rob Liefeld’s new assignments, the Omega Effect crossover, Walt Simonson’s upcoming Avengers run, the new Captain America team-up book and Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s new Icon series. There are also reviews of Fatale, Scarlet Spider and Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe could be underwater love. All this plus chin-straps, boobs on dinosaurs and Captain Bum.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, either in the comments below, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page.

Bring on the comments

  1. Jim says:

    I’m disappointed that there was mention of Frank Cho without there being a cockney Frank Cho impression.

  2. PPP says:

    To be fair, Mackie write the first 60+ issues of Ghost Rider vol 2 with Dan Ketch…I thought that was pretty good (at least the first 50 issues or so)

  3. Marc says:

    I think my favorite Mutant X reviews was of Issue 31 here:

    Where Captain America and Havok have an energy beam fight that inadvertently destroys the moon. “Oops”. It doesn’t beat some of Paul’s, Chuck Austen reviews (in terms of him nearly giving up and being hopeless, and way more funny), but is still good none the less.

  4. kelvingreen says:

    I also love Simonson’s work, but even that’s not enough for me to put up with Bendis’ awful writing.

    As you began to describe the Transformers comic, I immediately thought of Furman’s comics, in particular the Earthforce stuff with the Grimlock/Optimus split, and the strange and diverse cast we saw in the Survivors.

  5. kelvingreen says:

    I’m disappointed that there was mention of Frank Cho without there being a cockney Frank Cho impression.

    There was another instance of this a few weeks ago too. Perhaps Cho’s army of Cockney solicitors got in touch.

  6. Pleased to hear Transformers is good again. Couldn’t stand any of it since IDW kicked Furman to the kerb. Roche isn’t doing any more of MTMTE though, which seems odd. Will you guys be reviewing the Furman/Wildman Marvel continuation Transformers: Regeneration 1 when it launches?

    I was trade-waiting Grifter after somewhat liking the first issue, but if Rob Liefeld’s being dumped on it, I probably won’t bother.

  7. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    I also liked Paul’s review of the annual and final issue, which not only added even more things that didn’t make sense, but the art was worse. D-.

    (To be fair, I think I read somewhere that the bizarre Lethal Legion wasn’t directly Mackie’s fault. He just wrote “A bunch of weird alternate characters” or something, and left James Fry to decide that Devil Dinosaur, Son of Satan and his sidekick Moon Knight Boy would be an appropriate choice…)

    (There was also the period when Mutant X was so dull, Paul had a stock review he posted every week while he looked at something else instead, saying he’d stop doing this if the book at least became “interestingly bad”. Careful what you wish for…)

  8. I largely agree with your assessment of Mackie’s work, but to be fair, I thought his pre-“Chapter One” stint on PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN (mostly with John Romita, Jr.) was reasonably solid. Nothing to write home about, certainly, but no worse than most mainstream comics at the time — and certainly nowhere near as dreadful as his X-FACTOR, MUTANT X or post-“Chapter One” SPIDER-MAN.

  9. Zach Adams says:

    I haven’t read much of JT Krul, but I actually quite enjoyed the first two issues of Captain Atom. It weirded me out to think that the same man was responsible for China Cat

  10. Paul says:

    In fairness to Mackie, you’re right, GHOST RIDER was the stand-out commercial hit of his career. I’ve never read that run, and while I’ve heard that it has the same problems as most of his work, it was enough of a success to suggest that some people disagreed.

    Martin: I don’t see us doing two Transformers comics in quick succession, unless there’s something really noteworthy about the later one.

    Nick Roche is apparently taking a break from WFH to do some creator-owned projects, so I assume IDW persuaded him to do one last issue before moving on. Still seems a slightly odd call, I admit.

  11. Tdubs says:

    The run of X-Factor prior to Mutant X was so bad. Bishop’s hologram sister and her team mates of the future. Every roster change was hyped as being a mutant Suicide Squad.

    I haven’t seen any discussion anywhere of the fact that Batman Inc is set in the past of the old DC. I think they also spoiled the end of the Huntress mini with the description of World Finest.

  12. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    If the crew on Captain Omen’s submarine were crushed by the immense pressure, why wasn’t he?

    Also, I’m now waiting for Ordnance Survey to unleash the second stage of their evil masterplan…

  13. Paul says:

    Batman Inc exists in both continuities, surely. Batwing presupposes that it still happened.

  14. Tdubs says:

    I don’t mean that Batman Inc was erased but this NEW 52 title is taking place in the past and leading up to the status we have now.

  15. Billy Bissette says:

    In fairness to Marvel Two-In-One with its strange list of guest-stars, the series appeared to be having fun with its mandatory crossover design and its desire to not repeat the same title.

    It was mostly a Thing solo series, where he bounced from story to story running into other Marvel universe characters, and if someone was in the book for at least a panel then they were fair game to be listed as the titled guest.

    Other than some special crossovers, I doubt people bought the book for its guest-stars. They bought it because it was a fun Thing series and a decent way to see a wide variety of Marvel characters.

  16. alex says:


    Based on a couple comments in this weeks pod, do you have any idea of your listener demographics?

    You often wonder if people listening remember characters or books from the 90s and i just figured most people that listen are d enough to remember them from the first go-around.

    (Of course, im old enough to be reading pre crisis comics, so i could be projecting.)

    Some other writer/artists team i would put up against brubaker/phillips:

    Willingham/buckingham on fables
    Shanower/young on marvel oz books
    Aaron/gurea on scalped

  17. Thomas says:

    I really didn’t care for the cynical nature of GHOST RIDER…but I will admit to a guilty love of BLAZE, the spin-off series that followed Johnny Blaze and the traveling carnival he owned. It was bad, but it was bad in an amazingly entertaining way.

  18. Paul accurately voiced my exasperation at DC’s decision to bring back Mackie.

  19. Chris M. says:

    Say what you will about Howard Mackie, his reinvention of Ghost Rider in the early 90s was absolutely brilliant. He also was not the writer of Brotherhood, I interviewed him years back and I asked him point blank if he was “Writer X”. He said he wasn’t and didn’t know who was, and I don’t see a reason for him to lie. His Spider-Man and X-Factor may have been rubbish, but his work wasn’t ALL bad, lol.

  20. Chris M. says:

    My apologies, I hadn’t realized that Mackie’s GHOST RIDER had already been brought up and acknowledged in the comments. Sorry, sorry!

  21. Is it just me, or does it look like Mackie wrote his own wikipedia page? I mean, who else would refer to Ghost Rider/Wolverine/Punisher as a “cult classic”?

  22. Hmm says:

    Howard Mackie… hmm. Who’s next on Bob Harras’ recruitment list? Terry Kavanagh? Ron Zimmerman?

    Also surprised that Spider-Man chapter one was mentioned without the best retcon, Sandman and Norman Osborn are related… because they have a similar haircut.

  23. Paul says:

    As I said in the podcast, I doubt whether Mackie wrote BROTHERHOOD. So far as I’m aware, there was never any evidence for that beyond the assumption that “X” must be somebody with a bad reputation among fans, and the fact that the book was a bit of a mess. But for all its flaws, BROTHERHOOD was way better than stuff like MUTANT X that Mackie had written at around the same time.

    That said, he’s always been the favoured choice of the rumour mill. I believe Peter Milligan and Devin Grayson have also been suggested as possible candidates; both arguably fit the bill as writers whose superhero work combines interesting ideas with infuriatingly variable quality. (It also features the only non-cameo appearance by X-Statix outside their own book, interestingly enough.)

  24. shagamu says:

    Over at CBR, artist Chris Burnham said the second Batman Incorporated series will be set in the current DC continuity, but Morrison will try not to use any elements that were drastically changed by Flashpoint, so that his whole Batman run reads like a seamless story.

    I wish the whole series could be set in the pre-Flashpoint continuity, but the fact that Damian is still Robin in the current books would take the whole suspense out of it.

  25. Dave says:

    I’m another fan of the early Dan Ketch Ghost Rider. I kept up with it all the way through to the point where they started ret-conning everything and gave him a futuristic re-design?!? Some Googling suggests that was after Mackie finished, though.

    I put my comics habit largely down to the original Transformers title. That and Secret Wars. Not too pleased to hear that they’re still taking Optimus out of circulation all these years later.

  26. Paul O'Regan says:

    On Millar and Icon, Jupiter’s Children is actually an Image title.

    I think the other books announced so far are all Icon, but I think the ones he’s going to announce from here on will probably be from Image.

  27. Thomas says:

    Hmmm….I have two words for you and anyone else who wonders if DC can sink any lower in their ‘new’ talent search…



  28. Marilyn Merlot says:

    Well, hey, according Bleeding Cool Chuck Austen was slated to write Blackhawks when it debuted.

  29. Stephen Dowell says:

    Another strong episode.
    On the matter of Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s run on The Authority. Their final arc together was indeed interrupted by a four-part fill-in by Tom Peyer – a fill-in that was initiated by Wildstorm/DC, mindful of people’s sensitivities after 9/11.
    When it returned though, Quitely was nowhere to be seen, with art being handled by the equally meticulous Art Adams. Quitley I think had used the unplanned hiatus to jump ship to Marvel and Morrison’s run on X-Men.

  30. Tdubs says:

    Austen wrote an arc of JLA before Infinite Crisis and wrote a story in Action about Magog. I think this was the same time Harras was writing Breach freelance for DC.

  31. Al says:

    Alex: We know numbers, and a bit about locations, but nothing on ages etc. Mackie’s Marvel heyday was 15-20 years ago, though, so it’s not inconceivable that there would be a portion of our audience who had never had the dubious pleasure of experiencing his work.

    Dave: Optimus stepped down as leader, but continued to be in the book up until last month’s final issue. He seems to be gone (for the moment at least) now, though. I agree on Furman’s Transformers series, though – it’s one of the earliest comics that both Paul and I ever read.

    Paul: Good catch on the Jupiter’s Children Image thing – in a way, it’s heartening to see Millar place his projects where he genuinely feels they would be best served, rather than just flinging everything out there via Icon out of some kind of sense of duty or perceived ease.

  32. Zach Adams says:

    Snagged the digital version of More than Meets The Eye after hearing the review. Loved it…throwing in two of my favorite Autobot science team members (Skids, though he doesn’t appear in #1, and Chromedome) was a sure way to get me interested, and the story did a good job of keeping me that way.

  33. AndyD says:

    Mackie, Raab and Kavannough – this is a no-win-contest. Under no circumstances is their work worth 3.99 an issue. Or 1.99, come to think of it.

    Is there any business more incestous then american comics? After being EIC Harras got fired by Marvel, went to work for DC somewhere in the cellar a couple of years and now is EIC again and calling all (justly) forgotten buddies on deck. While Alonso and Wacker have become good Marvel soldiers. It is a bizarre merry-go-round in management circles.

    Only Chuck Dixon must really have pissed the wrong people off to be forced to work for fringe outfits.

  34. I’m guessing Paul is judging Been Raab’s work on Excalibur relative to some of the terrible, terrible X-Men comics he’s read and so it seems not as bad.

    But to someone who (thankfully) hasn’t read more than an issue of Mackie’s X-Factor/Mutant X, Raab’s Excalibur was incredibly bad.

  35. Mark Clapham says:

    I’m surprised I’m the first person to pedantically mention that Denny O’Neill named Optimus Prime:

  36. Max says:

    Raab did a pretty good Union Jack mini-series from what I remember. His Excalibur didn’t set the world on fire, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as some say.

    Mackie’s X-Factor was dreadful. Characters’ motivations shiftly wildly.

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