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Jan 5

House to Astonish Episode 169

Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2019 by Al in Podcast

2018! What? A year? What a year! It’s a brand new year and time for our traditional look back at the books, creators and moments that made 2018 such a good time for comics, in the form of the Homies awards. Paul and I have both picked our favourites in each of our traditional categories, and are handing out the gongs on this retrospective episode. We’ve also tallied our listener vote – what have the Housemates chosen as the most deserving in each category? Find out here! All this plus the procedure for landing a light aircraft, a very nice back door and the Slovakian manga scene.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us have your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, via email or at our Facebook fan page. And hey, it’s a new year, so why not make a new year resolution to look as amazing as you can in one of our incredible t-shirts?

Bring on the comments

  1. Moo says:

    Won’t have time to listen to the podcast until later today, but can I quickly ask did you guys get around to talking about Stan Lee this time around?

  2. Al says:

    No, sorry – if we had managed to do an episode in early December as we’d intended, we would have done. Unfortunately various personal life things stopped that from happening and by the time we got to record this, there wasn’t much we could add to what had already been said so eloquently by others. Suffice to say that neither of us would be comics fans without Stan Lee.

  3. Moo says:

    @Al – Perfectly understandable, and I’m aware that HtA was so obituary-heavy last year that you could have renamed the podcast “Tales from the Crypt” for the entirety of 2018.

    Still, I am interested in what you and Paul have to say about Stan’s career and legacy, good and/or bad, even if you think there’s nothing else you could add. But if you feel that train’s already sailed, I understand. Just throwing it out there.

  4. mark coale says:

    For a fun Mr Miracle book, I heartily recommend this weeks Scooby Doo team up, with daphne and velma as brain washed female furies.

  5. Michael Keloisim says:

    LONG LIVE THE LEGION! Brian Michael Bendis just recently hinted that 2019 is the year the Legion will be coming back.
    The Legion of Super Heroes is set 1,000 years in the future and have dozens of already established characters which would make a fun sandbox to play in for a writer; a ‘Big 2’ title essentially free of tie-ins and crossovers.
    The Most Wanted…has been found.(Just hopefully NOT by Bendis…)

  6. Thom H. says:

    I cannot begin to tell you how sad I would be if the Legion was revived by Brian Michael Bendis. Ditto Geoff Johns. Tom King, on the other hand…

    And I think the Legion could be a very appealing book if it stayed away from nostalgia (alienating for new fans) and future politics (so boring).

    I, for one, love a huge cast, multiple plot lines, and sci-fi superheroics. I honestly think Tom King could knock it out of the park as long as he didn’t make it too much of a downer (looking at you, Heroes in Crisis).

    Thanks for the shout out during this episode!

  7. Voord 99 says:

    One thing I wonder is, does the Legion really work as 1,000 years in the future any more? I’m not saying that we need hard SF realism in superhero comics, obviously, but the Legion strikes me as a case where its view of the future was a little dated even in the ‘60s, and really doesn’t have much purchase on our imaginations in 2019. But if you redo it from scratch, is it actually the Legion of Super-Heroes?

    I agree with Thom H. that it can’t be a nostalgia act. I think the writer needs to take a good hard look at the Legion and ask, “If this was a new concept being created right now, what would it look like?” But I tend to think that any adequate answer to that might end up being so different that it might as well not be the LSH at all. Waid’s answer, that the Legion themselves are a conscious nostalgia act, was an ingenious way to evade the question, but was, you know, evading the question.

    I do hope that someone can prove me wrong, though, because I think a compelling and optimistic Legion that’s not hobbled by nostalgia could be a great thing at this exact moment. Definitely not Johns, I think – is there a less appropriate property for his patented blend of nostalgia and grimness?

  8. mark coale says:

    I know he is polarizing (esp by our hosts) but I would like to see Hickman finally get his chance with the Legion.

    At it’s most successful, the book was probably when it was very soap opera in the levitz/giffen era, emulating the x-men model in many of the same ways wolfman and Perez did with the titans.

  9. Thom H. says:

    A focus on interpersonal relationships, the right tone, tight plot mechanics — and possibly a compelling villain — could sidestep some of the issues with the setting in a Legion book.

    Let the time and place get fleshed out in little details instead of spelled out in exposition and attempts to make the Legion understandable. I thought part of the problem with Waid’s LSH was just how much he wanted the team to make sense. They’re superheroes in the future, inspired by superheroes in the present. I think it really can be that simple.

    Throw in some references so old fart Legion fans like me feel included, and you’re done. King accomplished something very similar with Mister Miracle and the New Gods, another set of characters no one understands or (usually) wants to read about. I’m sure he or Hickman could do the same with the LSH, even if just for a limited run.

    I’ll stop now. I have a lot of feelings about this subject. 🙂

  10. Martin Smith says:

    Given Bendis is flavour of the month at DC, I suspect he’ll relaunch Legion, which given he does every team book as a set of solo stories, would be horrendous.
    When you were saying about how to improve/refine the concept, the Logan’s Run premise sprang to mind for me. Not sure it’d actually help any but at least justify them being teens.

    I still hope James Roberts does something for Doctor Who in the future. Maybe not the show now, given how it’s gone, but a self-contained maxi-series for Titan maybe?

  11. Moo says:

    I never really took to the Legion. I know there are exceptions, but aren’t the abilities of the Legionnaires, for the most part, racial traits? The heroes they’re meant to be inspired by actually are exceptional beings when compared to ordinary people. But the Legion always struck me as a sample platter of ordinary people (by their individual homeworld’s standards). Like a glorified UN or something.

  12. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    @Tom H. ‘A focus on interpersonal relationships, the right tone, tight plot mechanics — and possibly a compelling villain […] I’m sure […] Hickman could do the same with the LSH’

    Alright, so this is definitely my personal bias here, but… that doesn’t sound like Hickman to me. Tight plot mechanics – maybe. Compelling villain – that’s debatable and highly subjective. But a focus on interpersonal relationships is something that – for me – is the most lacking in any Hickman book I’ve read. (Though I haven’t read his non-Marvel stuff, so I might be missing out on something).

  13. Thom H. says:

    @Moo: Yes, many of the Legionnaires’ abilities are shared by their entire colony/planet/what-have-you. To be fair, those members of the team tend to be the *best* at using those abilities among their people. Shadow Lass and Cosmic Boy spring to mind as good examples.

    @Krzysiek Ceran: Fair enough. King would no doubt be better at that than Hickman. But the relationships in Manhattan Projects at least approximate real human emotion. Probably more than his Avengers work, honestly.

  14. Chris says:

    Legion of Super-Heroes is basically a club of different planets’ respective teenage Batmen.

    Also the Sub-Mariner is an Atlantean whose mutant power is to breathe air

    And fly

  15. Michael Keloisim says:

    The Legion of Super Heroes was once upon a time DC’s top selling book,and in the 90’s supported two titles simultaneously. I find it hard to believe that no creator hasn’t had a decent pitch for them in over six years.
    As long as DC doesn’t put some C list creator on the title,it should be fine.I personally would not want a Tom King.Since he doesn’t seem to understand the characters he writes, I don’t consider his work to be ‘canon’-more like a long drawn out What If?.

  16. Mo Walker says:

    @Thom: I hope the Legion book of your dreams debuts in 2019. A Legion title at DC is long overdue.

    The LoSH concerns Al and Paul raised during the episode are understandable. However I do believe a hybrid (adult and teen) version of the Legion can exist in 2019. There have been several eras in which this has occurred. DC should not reinvent the wheel and allow core Legionnaires leave the team. Thom and the other previous respondents are absolutely correct, the next iteration of Legion should not be a nostalgia act.

  17. A late voice of support for HIGHEST HOUSE. In addition to being probably the best-looking book Peter Gross has ever done (and that’s saying a lot), the story is clever and rich and deep in a way that a plot summary simply doesn’t capture. Yes, it’s the “farmboy comes to castle and discovers magic” plot but it feels *fresh*.

  18. Karl Hiller says:

    Let me try to contextualize what my experience as a fan of LSH is/was, and why I’m not sure I want it back.

    Imagine you were reading Claremont and Byrne’s Uncanny X-Men run as it came out during your personal comic book reading golden age. Then, instead of becoming a behemoth franchise, the X-books stayed limited to 1 or 2 titles, written by a series of progressively less talented writers. You stayed with it through Liefeld and even Chuck Austin, and then it all got cancelled, and the cast was so distant from mainstream continuity that you never even saw them in other books.

    Then, over the years, you got excited every time you saw a relaunch. But every single time, it started with a ponderous retelling of the Silver Age stuff. Maybe 6 issues in, the O5 would meet up with Kid Storm or something. Or the writers would accelerate, and try to pack everything from Claremont’s run into a dozen issues, so it became about as compelling as browsing the Official Handbook. Even with good writers, it was never the same.

    And I don’t think it can be. I don’t care all that much about Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy being the founders, or the fact that they’re all teenagers, or any of the other “fundamental” stuff. I liked *that* specific bunch of characters as developed by Levitz and Giffen, with *those* dynamics and history. It’s basically wanting a writer as good as Claremont to pick the X-Men at the point where Claremont left. And for the Legion, that’s simply not going to have the broad appeal to succeed.

    Maybe you could get Ed Piskor to summarize and streamline the old LSH continuity and pick it up from there… I don’t know. The thought of Bendis spending the whole first issue of a new LSH title with the 3 founders getting ready to board a spaceship puts me into a coma.

  19. Voord 99 says:

    I might suggest why I think the Legion has possibilities, from my perspective, which is the opposite: I never read any of the Levitz/Giffen stuff at the time, and have read very little of it since then. So I have no very strong attachment to the characters.

    But imagine that the LSH had never existed, and someone were pitching the idea now as a new idea:

    “It’s a bright shiny optimistic future of interstellar co-operation between different species across the galaxy. Our heroes are a big sprawling cast of young people — it’s really important that they’re young — each from one of the member worlds, who represent that: they’re from all sorts of different cultures and backgrounds, but they respect each others difference, work together to save the universe, fall in love… And get this: they’re inspired by the heroes of the present, i.e. Superman and all the rest in our main books. It’s not just a story about how we can have a better future, it’s a story about how things we can do now can contribute to that better future, even if it’s not obvious to us right now.”

    I mean, it’s a bit on the nose, isn’t it? If the concept hadn’t been around since the Silver Age, you might accuse anyone who described it of having tailor-made it to suit our current moment.

  20. mark coale says:

    I think one issue with recent iterations of the Legion is being set in a dystopic future.

    I agree that setting it in a positive future would be a nice change of pace from the Waid or DNA or even 5 years later versions, as good as those all might be.

  21. Thom H. says:

    @Voord 99: I love that vision of the Legion, and I agree that it has real resonance in the current political climate. At the same time, I share Karl’s concern that a young Legion would simply rehash the same ground as many of the previous reboots.

    Perhaps the best of both worlds would look something like the 5 Year Later version of the team by Giffen and the Bierbaums. The team is older (and importantly the same characters from the Silver Age) who are a source of inspiration and optimism in a universe that has fallen on hard times.

    You get the same surge of good will and cooperation without sacrificing years of character building. And, importantly, without retelling the origin of the team. I have faith that readers can catch up, as long as the writing isn’t incredibly dense with insider knowledge (which is where the new book would have to diverge from the 5YL version).

  22. mark coale says:

    I think my pitch would basically be a LSH:TNG using the kids of the Legoinnaires and then some brand new members.

  23. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    So, I’ve been listing to this in 1/2 hour doses and wait, there’s another one up already? Anyway, some random comments…

    Re Snagglepuss: Honestly, I think you can divide most of the Hanna-Barbera Beyond books into “Someone at HB signed off on this, what a surprising but good decision” and “Someone at HB signed off on this, what the heck were they thinking?”

    I think the schedule for Doomsday Clock is that an issue is published every time the actual Doomsday Clock ticks closer to midnight.

    Let me know when I can subscribe to The Year of Our War.

    I saw some publicity art for Archie: 1941, and I find it hilarious that they’ve put Jughead in a flat cap. That stupid trademark hat actually fits the period! That was when they gave it to him in the first place!

    @Thom H: Wasn’t that basically what the last attempt to relaunch the Legion did? The actual Five Years Later version was thrown in the discontinuity bin, but we still had adult versions of the Silver Age Legion in a galaxy that was otherwise torn by racial strife, especially on Earth.

    I can’t remember how much insider knowledge was required; I remember one story that required the audience to have the details of The Great Darkness Saga fresh in their minds, but that may have been an exception.

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