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Sep 22

House to Astonish Episode 91

Posted on Saturday, September 22, 2012 by Al in Podcast

We’re back with another episode of House to Astonish, where we’re discussing Greg Rucka’s views of Marvel and DC, Marvel’s “Superior” teaser, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Jerry Ordway’s Human Bomb, Ultimate Captain America as US President and the Dredd UK box office success, as well as taking a run through December’s solicitations. We’re also reviewing Team Seven, Ghost and Sword of Sorcery, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook is close to ending it all. All this plus people who sound like Crayola crayons, the optimum way to not watch Arrow and the return of a certain vaguely London-y comics creator impression.

Please be aware that there was something very strange about the audio this time round which we didn’t discover until after we recorded, which makes us sound like we’re sitting about ten feet away from the microphone, so you might have to turn this one right up. C’est la vie.

The episode 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 through our Facebook fan page. We’re also available on or through their free iOS or Android apps.

For those of you who make it through to the end, What The Fox can be found here. Enjoy.

Bring on the comments

  1. Reboot says:

    It’s worse than merely “quiet”, the levels are bouncing around all over the place. Especially on Al’s mike, it gets really really quiet then bounces back up. Quite difficult to listen to.

  2. Al says:

    There only is one mic. As I say, it’s unintentional, apologies.

  3. Al says:

    (Ironically, we do have two mics, but one’s in storage at the moment.)

  4. Billy says:

    Even worse than bouncing around is when it bounces back at the same time someone raises their voice.

  5. Al says:

    It’s far from ideal. Without re-recording the whole episode, there’s not much we can do, unfortunately. Apologies again.

  6. It’s fitting that DC doesn’t give a toss about trade-waiters like me. It makes me feel better about not giving a toss about their comics any more.

  7. Brian says:

    Just send Siena Blaze off with one of the dimension-hopping teams: destroy Earth-3574 or something one month and just hop off to Earth-8743! Good way to get rid of old What If?s and such!

  8. Marvel could have made a fortune selling her to DC for one of their Crises.

  9. Daibhid Ceannadeach says:

    Talking of grinding gear-shifts with the Punisher, I’m suddenly struck with the realisation I don’t know when and how he stopped being an angel back in the 90s. Unless that was something I halucinated due to flu and exam stress.

    “Written by the writer of the most controversial comic of 2012” sounds like a competition. “Well, we counted up all the complaints, and the winner of the Superior gig is…”

    Cockney Frank Cho never stops being funny. Belfast Nick Lowe is cool as well.

    Anyone want to bet what they’re replacing GI Combat with? Our Army At War? Star Spangled War Stories? Somewhere, DC believes, they already own the title of a war comic that sells.

    I hadn’t heard about the Teen Titans thing, but I googled it and it’s hilarious. Maybe in the Batman & Robin TPB including the “Damian challenges the past Robins” story, the entire fight with Red Robin will be replaced with a panel where he says “Drake, you don’t count.”

    Haven’t read Sword of Sorcery, but interesting about the stylistic clash. Because there was an interview with Christy Marx where she said the original Amethyst was all girly and 1980s, and her version was going to be more gritty and real like her creator-owned swordswoman book, and I thought I could hear Dan Didio in the background going “But … but I hired the creator of Jem and the Holograms for a blatant nostalgia cash-in!” But now, yeah, the gritty bit does seem to be firmly in DC’s distasteful ballpark.

    I’m pretty sure DC’s previous Beowulf was a regular Viking; he was in that story where Wonder Woman visited various fantasy worlds DC had lying around for reasons I forget.

    Random AU characters from “The Cross-Time Caper” would have met Rachel, and are therefore clearly Phoenix-related.

    Miranda Richardson as Elizabeth the First in Blackadder, surely?

  10. Joe S. Walker says:

    Never heard of the Upstarts before, but this came to mind:

  11. Dave says:

    If Tim Drake WAS Batman’s sidekick, and he’s got Robin in his name, then what’s gained by saying he wasn’t just Robin to start with???

    Every time I hear about rape in comics (seems like it’s usually DC), I get that feeling of ‘No, does not belong’. I’m glad the comics I was reading when I was 8 were rape-free (then again, kids used to read comics back then).

  12. Michael R says:

    The rape scene in Sword of Sorcery actually isn’t that out of place. In the original Amethyst comic, where Amy was just a 13 year old, she was nearly raped by a pair of demon guards in the first six, seven pages of the very first issue, so maybe they were simply trying to be faithful to the original? The cover funnily enough even had the official comics code approved seal, so nearly twenty years ago the prospect of a 13 year old girl being nearly raped didn’t seem to bother anybody.

    The original Amethyst series was also rather dark in tone, in contrast to what the colorful look of the character might make you believe, so there has always been this rather weird crash of a colorful and gentle premise designed to appeal young girls and dark and mature storytelling. But I suppose that’s partly what makes it so fondly remembered in the eyes of the fans?

  13. Hmm says:

    The Upstarts were supposed to replace the Hellfire club weren’t they? Shinobi Shaw killed his dad (for about a year), Fitzroy put Emma Frost in a coma (and killed most of the Hellions), Fabian Cortez claimed he killed Magneto etc. Then Lee/Portacio sodded off.

  14. kelvingreen says:

    Al’s Siena Blaze reboot reminds me of the premise of (SPOILERS) The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

  15. Dave Clarke says:

    Forgive me for being thick but I’m not entirely clear on the complaints about the rape threat in Amethyst.

    Sure it’s a perfect kids cartoon premise, but from your descriptions and what little else I’ve seen of the comic I doesn’t look like its trying to be a kids comics. And given the way DCs behaved over the past few years, its hard for me to really buy into a “I can’t believe that the wholesome publisher of colourful children’s comics would produce such shocking material”, then again I didnt have comics as a kid. Isn’t this just what DC does now?
    Don’t get me wrong, it sounds like an ill-informed, lazy, boring choice (havn’t read the comic) just not one that seems out of place or shocking at DC.

  16. Billy says:


    “it sounds like an ill-informed, lazy, boring choice (havn’t read the comic) just not one that seems out of place or shocking at DC”

    I haven’t made it through the podcast yet to hear Paul and Al’s thoughts, but the quote above probably describes a good portion of what has bothered others.

    DC has turned rape into a/the go-to gimmick for female trauma and female badass-ness. Writers at DC can’t seem to think of anything else besides rape and fridging. Worse, DC tends to portray it badly.

    There is the other complaint of DC’s disconnect between its “mature” comics and how it markets those characters in other media. Such as aiming for a gritty Amethyst book while planning a quite probably much less gritty Amethyst cartoon. (This is an iffier issue on the grounds that the era when kids watching a cartoon were fertile ground for buying comics has arguably long passed.)

  17. Alex says:

    After trying 2 or 3 times to listen to the pod, what worked best was bluetoothing it from my ipad to the car sytereo. Had no problems hearing either paul or al.

  18. Ian says:

    (Content Note: Rape, Rape Culture)

    Thinking about the scene in Amethyst again, I do think there’s a rather key difference between rape as its used here and how it’s usually used in fiction. When scenes like these are usually written–and I’ve been guilty of this–rape is presented as something that is only done by strangers in dark corners. Here, however, it’s done in a school, by people whom Beryl knows, and whom she’ll undoubtedly have to interact with again. It is, to a degree, a far more realistic illustration of how rape happens than the usual comic book take.

    Now does this mean that this particular element should have been in this particular story? I’m not sure yet. I wish it hadn’t been there, since it does indicate that this isn’t a book for kids, which seems like a missed opportunity, given the new Ameythist animated shorts and the potential for a crossover audience based on that (even though the premises for both takes seems as different as they can be). And if Beryl turns out to be someone we don’t see again then yes, I’d agree that it’s creatively bankrupt. However, if that’s not the case, and Beryl does turn out to be a recurring character, and this is followed up on, I think this has the potential to actually be a good story on what rape culture is and how it affects women*, and while I’m not taking bets on that being the case, I’m not embracing hopelessness either.

    * This is were I bring up the fact that one in six women in the U.S. are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, so it’s not like the threat is overblown.

  19. The original Matt says:

    Hi guys, I would’ve said I’d try and remaster it for you but I’m in the isle of man and my gear is in Sydney. Next time, ja?

  20. Paul O'Regan says:

    As well as the rape stuff, I find the idea of tying Amethyst into Justice League Dark to be bizarre. I get that they want to connect it to the DCU, but it seems an odd direction to take the character.

  21. Paul O'Regan says:

    On the “Superior” tease, the problem with it tying into Spider-Man is that #698, the big game-change issue, isn’t out until a while after NYCC. It’s possible Marvel will spoil it though, so who knows.

  22. Si says:

    I don’t think the problem is that writers are going to keep new characters from Marvel and DC, after all, how many truly original characters are there in superhero comics? Artists might keep their best costume designs back I suppose, but I don’t know how transferrable they’d be anyway. The problem is that writers might keep their best *stories* for themselves. It’s been remarked on before that a good chunk of people would buy X-Men and Batman no matter who wrote them. And your epic X-Men story these days is going to go one of two ways: 1) It’ll be forgotten in the huge ongoing churn of X-Men stories, as mentioned in the podcast 2) It’ll be loved, and so inevitably revisited by another writer who probably doesn’t understand the original story and so ruined, then forgotten. If not with the first revisit, then it’ll be revisited over and over until it eventually is 3) It’ll be deleted from relevance within a couple of years with the many crossover events, all-newisms, and so-on. If it happened to Grant Morrison, it’ll happen to Johnny B List.

    So, aside from keeping your A game for a title where you can profit more directly, you’d also want to showcase it somewhere that it would actually be able to leave a lasting impression. Once Marvel and DC nurtured epic storylines even if neither actually required them. Now the whole business model ensures there will never be another lasting epic. Which is a sad thought.

  23. alex says:

    If I remember right, Amethyst got tied into LSH continuity, I think, because of Mordru.

  24. Si says:

    Rape aside, I always find the use of descriptive names funny. Without actually reading the comic, I can imagine Amethyst tracking down the twins, Ruby and Jett Stone, only to eventually discover that they don’t actually have anything to do with Gemworld and the names are coincidence (or lack of coincidence I suppose).

  25. ZZZ says:

    @Ian: A beryl is a type of gemstone, so she’s probably going to be connected to Gemworld in some way.

    It’s a Teen-Rated book so they probably weren’t even considering it a negative to include elements that should mark it as unambiguously not-for-kids, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see something similar to that scene pop up in a book that’s … maybe not explicitly FOR kids, but at least one that’s not marked as not for kids. It happens all the time in kids’ media. Children just aren’t supposed to think too hard about what Bluto wants to do to Olive Oyl or what Bowser wants to do to Princess Peach or what Pepe le Pew wants to do to any random cat who walked under one of France’s surprisingly common low-hanging wet paintbrushes. (And I know that those things weren’t necessarily originally made for kids – hence my “not marked as not for kids” comment – but they ARE shown to kids without a second thought by most adults.)

  26. AndyD says:

    The original Amethyst was a nice fantasy comic. At least as long as Gary Cohn did it. Of course it wasn´t particulary deep, but it was a good alternative to the Conan-type fantasy,some years before the Vertigo approach of fantasy. With some nice art. When they dragged the character into Crisis it was over.

    It wasn´t especially marketed for children back then, maybe they should have. Maybe it would have lasted longer then. I thought Paul´s (or Al´s?) remark very fitting, it truly was a series in search of merchandise. Would have made very good YA novels. (Of course in 1985 there wasn´t even a YA market, not in the sense it is done today after Harry Potter created it.)

    But it was done at a time when DC did try new stuff. Not like today. The idea to make the character grim’n’gritty, basically remake her as a superheroine, sounds very wrong. And deeply uninteresting.

  27. Andy Walsh says:

    On the topic of Avengers Arena promotion: I agree that it has been a significant misfire, but I do think there was a kernel of not-entirely-unreasonable thinking behind it.

    If they downplay or sidestep the Battle Royale/Hunger Games comparisons in the promotions, then when the book comes out there is the chance people will read it and dismiss it as a shameless ripoff, regardless of its merits or whether it actually is one.

    Whereas if they get ahead of the comparisons and poke a little fun at themselves from the start, then it gives people a chance to come to terms with the premise and see where the book stands on its own (if, indeed, there is more to it than a Battle Royale retread). I think this is what they were going for, but perhaps did not succeed.

  28. odessasteps says:

    It reminds me of that dc book a few years ago where they had various versions of a character fight in gladiator-style combat.

  29. […] episode 91 of their House to Astonish podcast, Paul O’Brien and Al Kennedy discuss the return to Amethyst to comics and her debut in Sword […]

  30. ZZZ says:

    You know, Marvel actually has a decent place to use Sienna Blaze: Make her a recurring villain for the X-Treme X-Men. Just say that any time here powers actually do destroy a world, she and anyone not native to that world (i.e., the dimension hopping X-Men) get shunted off to another dimension (though not necessarily all to the same one), and have her cross their path every few worlds to give them a time limit on their mission and some stakes to failing their mission other than “everyone dies trying” (which isn’t going to happen) or “wait and try again.”

  31. […] I don’t think it is at all unfair for people like Sue or Chris Sims or Arielle Sorkin or Al Kennedy to expect that single comic to actually serve that role, or for them to feel disappointed or angry […]

  32. The original Matt says:

    ZZZ says:
    September 25, 2012 at 2:51 AM
    You know, Marvel actually has a decent place to use Sienna Blaze: Make her a recurring villain for the X-Treme X-Men. Just say that any time here powers actually do destroy a world, she and anyone not native to that world (i.e., the dimension hopping X-Men) get shunted off to another dimension (though not necessarily all to the same one), and have her cross their path every few worlds to give them a time limit on their mission and some stakes to failing their mission other than “everyone dies trying” (which isn’t going to happen) or “wait and try again.”

    That would assume that the book won’t get cancelled… Ahem… Be labelled a miniseries and finish after 12 issues.

  33. Mark Clapham says:

    “Talking of grinding gear-shifts with the Punisher, I’m suddenly struck with the realisation I don’t know when and how he stopped being an angel back in the 90s.”

    There’s a throwaway line in the first issue of Welcome Back Frank about Frank getting sick of his deal with the angels and telling them where to stick it.

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