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Jul 9

House to Astonish Episode 156

Posted on Sunday, July 9, 2017 by Al in Podcast

In case you’d forgotten, we do actually do a podcast about comics occasionally. And here it is! This time round, we’re remembering Joan Lee, trying to work out what Legacy actually is, chewing over the controversy surrounding Howard Chaykin’s current Image work, and chatting through Titan’s upcoming Dan Dare series, DC & Archie’s Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica, and Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight. We’ve also got reviews of Diablo House and Green Arrow, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook is a man of letters. All this plus a supervillain who controls milk, the forceps of DC Rebirth and some monkeys waving jawbones at Marvel’s marketing department.

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

And even though we forgot to mention it, we do actually have lovely T-shirts for sale. We’re a bit out of practice at this. Sorry.

Bring on the comments

  1. mark coale says:


    When I originally heard there was an image cover controversy over a lynching being depicted, I was expecting it to be Southern Bastards.

    I was a big fan of Chaykin in the day (teenage me loved Flagg), but other than Satellite Sam, not sure I’ve gotten anything he has done since Challengers.

  2. Martin Smith says:

    The Hulk Legacy adding up includes all of Tales to Astonish, but not his own original silver age solo series and by its count, #600 (from the last time Marvel pulled this stunt) was #599.

  3. Steve Lacey says:

    The most egregious thing about the Iron Man numbering isn’t the shilly-shallying about if the current runs count towards it… it’s that to make sure that Bendis can have the big 600th issue, they’ve completely discounted every appearance of Iron Man from his creation to 1968. Specifically, all the issues of Tales To Astonish!

  4. Mark coale says:

    Didn’t Tales of Suspense become Cap? Presumably, you couldn’t double dip and have it and Iron
    Man both start at 102? You could now, of course, but not in the news stand distribution era.

  5. Si says:

    If you typed “two in one” into Google, I don’t think the comic would be anywhere on the first page. Don’t try this at work.

  6. Chris V says:

    Well, to be fair, when Tales of Suspense ended in 1968, Marvel relaunched Iron Man from #1, while Captain America got the legacy numbering from ToS.
    So, it’s not unprecedented.

    They are playing fast and loose with a lot of the numbering.

  7. Jon Blackworth says:

    Hey guys, love your podcast.

    A few comments:
    I think that Kirby + Lee = Fantastic Four, Hulk, Avngers, etc. Kirby – Lee = Devil Dinosaur, Machine Man, and Eternals. You get the style and the big concepts, but not the polish that Lee brought to their collaboration. I think that it is telling that Lee and Kirby creations have been running almost continuously for 50 years, while Kirby solo creations have not been nearly as successful.

    RE: Iron Man numbering – The numbering DOES include the RiRi Williams series, which debuted in 2016. Why would it include spin-offs? At this point, all Marvel numbering is silly and too gimmick-ridden to be taken seriously.

    RE: Marvel Legacy – Marvel tends to make its comics in a bubble… meaning that they ignore pretty much all negative criticism. And why shouldn’t they? All they hear online is a constant stream of how terrible they are. I would ignore that too. The problem isn’t with replacing characters with “SJW” replacements (or whatever nonsense people online keep spouting)… the problem is that they replaces all their marquee characters period. And the ones they didn’t replace, they made into villains. How many characters has Marvel “ruined” in the past few years – really since “Avengers: Disassembled” – by making them into borderline supervillains?

  8. JD says:

    Marvel’s math does include the Riri Williams book in their count ; it’s the 2016 volume. (The first Bendis one was the 2015 volume.)

    It’s just International and Infamous they are ignoring… as they’ve always done with B-books.

    (Interestingly, the previous renumbering for #500 in the middle of the Fraction run ignored the last three issues of the 2004 Ellis/”Director of SHIELD” book, as those were technically repackaged as a War Machine book. Now they’ve been reintegrated, for whatever reason.)

  9. Lessons learned: Al Kennedy has not read Divided States of Hysteria, but he does not like it.

    Al Kennedy has also not read The Punisher Meets Archie but he does not like it either.

    Stay informed with House to Astonish!

  10. Joe S. Walker says:

    I’ve read Divided States and thought it was rather ugly and boring. But a lot of the outrage about it seems self-serving; not only were Bleeding Cool making the story run as long as they could, but some of the protesters were frankly using it to get attention.

  11. Al says:

    Well, to clarify, when I saw DSOH solicited I had the same reaction as Paul (i.e. “I’m not going to read this, it’ll probably be rubbish”) but I’ve read the first issue in the last week because I thought I should know what I was talking about before I talked about it. In retrospect I should probably have been clearer about that.

    Not sure where you get the implication that I’ve not read Punisher vs Archie, though – I’ve had a dog-eared (second-hand) copy of that for *years*. It’s just not very well done and doesn’t live up to the promise of the joke.

    (Happily admit that I’ve completely miscounted on volumes of Iron Man, though.)

  12. Al – thank you for the clarification. The jump from talking about #4’s cover to the contents of #1 was so abrupt I was as taken aback as Paul in the recording. You do tend to get very excited about certain topics and jump into them without framing it for we listeners.

    (I do hope to find a copy so I can read it for myself; the online articles are frustratingly vague on what exactly happens and at this point I just want some bloody context)

    I maintain you must not have read that comic, Al. You often bring it up on this podcast as an example of a terrible comic and it’s just not. It’s pretty much the same joke as Archie Meets Predator but it has the once-in-a-lifetime combo of Batton Lash/Stan Goldberg/John Buscema. I admire the cleverness of that comic in having Buscema draw all of the Punisher art against Goldberg’s ‘house Archie’ style and how Lash attempts to do justice to both worlds – that is, it doesn’t turn into a killspree like Archie Meets Predator and it’s not a simple jokey Archie comic either – it stands as a legitimate Archie comic and a legitimate Punisher. That’s one heck of an achievement. It gets my vote as best intercompany product, full stop. There is a level of commitment to that ridiculous idea that you don’t often see in intercompany works, especially in the 90s.

    Lash even finds the time for Punisher to reflect on how Riverdale is the kind of utopia he longed to raise his family in. And Millie the Model cameos! Please read it again (or for the first time). Stop scaring people away from this book. Or must I remind you how much of the New Warriors’ 1st run was not actually that great?

  13. Martin Smith says:

    So if someone disagrees with you, they must not have read the comic?

  14. SanityOrMadness says:


    When you talked about Aquaman being good right now briefly, did you not mention Stjepan Sejic’s name because you couldn’t pronounce it? :p

  15. Voord 99 says:

    When Mr. O’Brien claimed that the depiction of Barry Allen was “out of character,” my immediate response was “I don’t think that Barry Allen has this ‘character’ thing that you’re talking about to begin with.”

  16. Martin,

    I mean to be kidding a little, but while I could see someone reading it and going ‘not to my taste’ it’s hard to accept the designation of ‘rubbish.’ It’s far too good for that, hence challenging to see if he’s actually read it or is just judging it by its title.

  17. Steve Lacey says:


    If there’s any pre-judging of DSOH, then it’s quite literally from its cover. Being a book and all…

  18. S says:

    Al, you keep talking about a submarine, but that’s not an acronym. I think you mean SCUBA?

  19. Al says:

    The acronym in that bit isn’t the submarine, it’s the SONAR.

  20. The Prowler says:

    So, does Al Kennedy honestly believe that Howard Chaykin, by virtue of being white, is more powerful in the comics’ industry than, for example, DC *co-publisher* Jim Lee? Or mega-hot cover artist Frank Cho? Or don’t Asian-Americans count as ‘people of color’?

    I’m sorry, as a long-time listener and fan of the podcast (wish you guys recorded more often!) I don’t want to cast aspersions. But I have to say I find the tenor of Al’s commentary vis-a-vis the latest Identity Politics shitstorm rather dispiriting, especially since I know he’s not a dumb guy.

    I mean, there is a lot of hemming and hawing about ‘showing the proper level of understanding and awareness’ and ‘listening to every complaint’ not to mention appeals to the authority of ‘virtually every black or trans reviewer I’ve spoken to’. But who exactly decides when a proper level of understanding and awareness has been shown? Are the loudest voices on Twitter, claiming the greatest degree of moral outrage and personal offense, supposed to be the new Comics Code Authority? Is every complaint lodged on Tumblr truly worth taking into account? And why is the utterly discriminatory notion that “if you’re not part of group X, you have less right to create art about group X” given so much credence by otherwise intelligent people (see also: the recent bullshit about the Emmett Till painting at the Whitney Biennial)?

    I swear, when it comes to the cultural climate in the arts this decade, it all too often feels like we’ve gone through the looking glass into topsy-turvy land. One wonders on which side today’s liberal culture warriors would fall if Mike Diana were prosecuted today. Personally, I applaud Howard Chaykin for telling modern-day puritans to go suck an egg: the freedom to create art, even deliberately crass, sensationalist, shocking and brazenly offensive art, is more important than any narrow-minded appeal to the morality du jour.

    (apologies for the rant, but you guys did talk about this for quite a bit – solid show otherwise and, again, please record more often!)

  21. PersonofCon says:

    Honestly, considering the medium’s history towards using violence towards women and other marginalized groups as a chief way towards easy sensationalism and shock, I don’t have a problem with anyone who wants to push back–even if that push back is loud, derisive, and, as is my personal preference, features Simpsons-like hooting.

    The first google search sample turned up was in German, and on reflection, I prefer it that way.

  22. jpw says:

    Yeah, Al has gotten super-woke during the last few episodes

  23. some bloke says:

    “So, does Al Kennedy honestly believe that Howard Chaykin, by virtue of being white, is more powerful in the comics’ industry than, for example, DC *co-publisher* Jim Lee? Or mega-hot cover artist Frank Cho? Or don’t Asian-Americans count as ‘people of color’?”

    I took him to mean the power differential when creators talk about social issues like issues like race.

  24. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    The thing about the Arrow/Flash personality clash is that it could have worked perfectly, if instead of “I don’t know why a guy with a bow is even a superhero”, they’d gone for “The last time we met, you were a member of a group which called itself the Justice League, and which turned out to have been set up by Amanda Waller in case she had to kill the actual Justice League.”

    Of course, the real reason is for ironic “Barry and Ollie might be best mates on TV, but this ain’t them!” effect.

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