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Jun 23

House to Astonish Episode 208

Posted on Sunday, June 23, 2024 by Al in Podcast

It’s been a few weeks, but we’re back, and we’ve got a full basket of comics news which we’re dispensing left, right and centre. This time round, we’re remembering Don Perlin and Peter B. Gillis, looking at Jeff Lemire’s Minor Arcana, the finales of Jupiter’s Legacy and Marvel’s Star Wars, and the new Blade: Red Band mini, chatting through the ends of Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr’s run on Amazing Spider-Man and Joshua Williamson’s runs on Green Arrow and Batman and Robin, and drawing your attention to the Wicked & the Divine‘s covers collection Kickstarter. We’ve also got reviews of Destro and Self-Help, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe belongs in a museum. All this plus Blade: Special Vampires Unit, an alien goth and Spider-Man’s 1980s toy restoration hobby.

The episode is here, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments, on Bluesky, via email or on our Facebook fan page. And if you don’t have a House to Astonish t-shirt by now, then God, Jed, I don’t even wanna know you.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    I don’t always follow the comic book news, so I was unaware of Gillis’ death until reading this synopsis. I have fond memories of reading his New Defenders as well as Dr. Strange. In fact, it was a bad month for Defenders fans as Perlin had a lengthy run as regular artist on Defenders with DeMatteis and Gillis.
    I remember my excitement when I came across a reference to the Church of the SubGenius in an issue of Gillis’ Defenders.

    Steve Gerber’s been gone far too long, and will always remain the definitive Defenders writer, but Gillis’ run isn’t lagging too far behind. Kraft died a few years back. That leaves DeMatteis as the only worthy writer on the Defenders still alive.

  2. Matthew Murray says:

    Yes, you would think that the Star Wars comics would do well in bookstores, but looking at Brian Hibbs’ 2023 Bookscan article on The Beat, there is not a single Star Wars graphic novel in the top 750.

  3. Martin Smith says:

    Floor 17320: Cleggmania.

  4. Thom H. says:

    Gillis and Perlin’s New Defenders was an absolute favorite of mine, and a lot of it still holds up today. I’m sad to hear they’ve passed. Especially Gillis — 71 is too young to go.

  5. Steve Lacey says:

    Gillis was responsible for one of the best (and most underrated) issues of Marvel Two-in-One, issue 51, which guest-starred Nick Fury, Ms Marvel, Wonder Man, and Beast, had early artwork from Frank Miller, and introduced the idea of the Thing running a poker game for superheroes. Just magnificent stuff.

  6. Daibhid C says:

    It feels weird to hear that Zeb Wells is finishing up on Spider-Man after a long run, when I inhabit that parallel universe of UK reprints and I’m looking forward to it starting.

    (I’ve got to admit, I thought Spencer’s run was … mostly fine … especially once it turned out that one of the main criticisms of it I’ve seen here was based on a fake-out, and he wasn’t doing that at all. Although he still spent way too long looking like he was doing it.)

    Nobody’s told Marvel the Bermuda Triangle isn’t a thing anymore, because it was established as a gateway to Weirdworld as recently as 2015. But if anyone isn’t familiar with it, the key points are 1) It makes people disappear. 2) Don’t go too near.

    “Level 9,638: The Stone Age” reminds me of an episode of Time Team in which Mick Aston illustrated just how far back an artifact was by asking Tony Robinson to imagine that one end of a football pitch was the present, and the far end was when the artifact was. A single step brought you to the Neolithic. Presumably, Slitherogue didn’t spend all that Deep Time thinking “I’d better conserve space, just in case there’s a particularly busy couple of millennia coming up at some point.”

  7. Rich Larson says:

    Steve Lacey,

    I remember that 2 in 1 issue really well from back when i first started reading comics! There’s a great scene with the Beast waxing nostalgic about circuses while beating up the bad guys. It was a perfect blend of the intellectual Beast and the bouncing, funny Beast. It would make a perfect blueprint for anybody wanting to write Hank McCoy!

  8. Si says:

    I reckon the Bermuda Triangle and similar mysteries cop a double barrel of ruin from the existence of the web.

    First, in my day all you had were TimeLife books and Leonard Nimoy TV shows to go by. You had about three facts and unless you were a researcher with enormous funding, those three facts were all you’d get. Now we have the net, and it takes about five minutes to find out that the number of missing craft in the Bermuda Triangle is about average for tropical waters, and nothing much happens there.

    Second, you have creepypasta. Exciting new urban myths, fresh-cooked and tailored to the zeitgeist, every other day. an old plane going missing is nothing compared to Slenderman. Did you know there’s a whole thing now about 3:00am and Grimace the McDonalds mascot coming to murder you? We had to make the Bermuda Triangle credible for generations, these new myths can hit and run before a kid is old enough to even see 3:00 for themselves.

    This rant brought to you by my recent revisit of the lost colony of Roanoke, which has absolutely zero actual mystery to it. I’m still cranky about everyone knowing exactly what Kroatoan means all along.

  9. Chris V says:

    CROATOAN. Kroatoan reminds me of Krakoan.
    If Neil Gaiman wrote a prequel to 1602, he could retcon the Roanoke colony’s survival by explaining they had “gone to Krakoa”.

    On the other hand, some mysteries/conspiracies have been given additional life or new life by the existence of the internet. The Hollow Earth is probably believed in by more people today than it was since after the original conception of the Earth being hollow was disproven by science. Yes, there are facts online to disprove it, but you know that’s just the elite pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes (like the Four from Ellis’ Planetary), and there are just as many websites claiming reasons for why the Earth is hollow and inhabited by aliens/Nazis/moloids (pick one).
    The “ancient astronaut hypothesis” was huge in the 1970s after Chariot of the Gods became a major success. I remember how fun it was when I discovered a copy at a flea market as a kid in the ‘80s. Even in the internet age though, the History Channel managed to milk that subject for like eleven seasons worth of TV shows.

    Anyway, it’s the Marvel Universe. The Bermuda Triangle really is a supernatural hotspot opening a doorway to other dimensions. Just ask Skull the Slayer. The internet is very different on Earth-616.

  10. Si says:

    You’re right, I totally got Croatoan mixed up with Krakoa. Oops.

  11. Michael says:

    And just to tie this in to current comic stories, one story claimed that Varnae, the mastermind behind Blood Hunt, was responsible for the disappearance of the Roanoke colonists.

  12. Si says:

    I can neither confirm nor deny that reading up on Varnae is what sent me down the Roanoke rabbithole in the first place. Varnae was calling himself Croatoan at the time, don’t you know.

  13. Thomas Deja says:

    I actually own an original page of art from the NEW DEFENDERS run that you talked about–it’s part of the debut of Andromeda–so I have a particular fondness for that weird-ass run. The coincidence of both creatives passing on did not go unnoticed.

  14. Corey Dvorkin says:

    I think the libertarian jerk self-help guru in the eponymous comic is meant to be a take on Canadian self-help guru Jordan B. Peterson.

  15. Mark Coale says:

    Funny how with all the talk of Lemire books, no mention of Black Hammer.

  16. Adam says:

    Had to check, but Owen King, writer of SELF-HELP, is indeed Joe Hill’s brother and Stephen King’s son.

  17. I mentioned this to Al on Bluesky, but there’s a reason that when they rebooted Hank McCoy in the last days of the Krakoan era, the replacement is from the NEW DEFENDERS era: that’s simply the best version of the Beast.

    The other really good writer of DEFENDERS was Steve Englehart; the Defenders/Avengers War was, for the time, extremely ambitious and still reads very well.

    Re: Gillis, I also am a huge fan of that Doctor Strange story from STRANGE TALES–I’ve been on the record for 30+ years that it might be the single best Doctor Strange story. And it has the first significant art by Richard Case, who went on to be main artist on the Grant Morrison DOOM PATROL.

    Adam, yes, Owen King is Steven King’s other writer son. He’s been off-and-on involved with superheroes and comics for pretty much his entire writing career–his first major work was as editor of an anthology of superhero stories, WHO CAN SAVE US NOW, which included his own brilliant novella “The Meerkat” and an early story by Scott Snyder.

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