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Nov 4

House to Astonish Episode 94

Posted on Sunday, November 4, 2012 by Al in Podcast

Join Paul and I as we celebrate the four-year anniversary of House to Astonish, with discussion of the effect of Hurricane Sandy, the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney, Bryan Singer on X-Men: Days of Future Past, the next two Marvel Now! teasers and Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill. We’re also reviewing Joe Kubert Presents, Multiple Warheads and Bedlam, and answer questions we’ve solicited at the last minute on Twitter. All this plus the Maniac Consumer, utopian futuristic fly-y people and the most unexpected Ant-Man villain of them all.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available on the embedded player below. It’s also available through iTunes or via and their free iOS and Android apps. Let us know what you think, either in the comments below, on Twitter, via email or on our Facebook fan page.

Thanks for listening, and here’s to the next four years.


Bring on the comments

  1. Liam Tait says:

    Congrats on 4 amazing years!

  2. kris says:

    Congratulations on four years! I really do want to see Scottish Look Cows Talking now.

  3. odessasteps says:

    – sam glanzman also did uss stevens stories as backups back in the old days of the dc war books.

    – as paul can attest, comics needing new stars is another way the business parallels the wrestling business. Why push new workers when you just leave the old stars on top?

  4. Susi O'Brien says:

    Oh so that’s why there’s a decapitated chocolate caterpillar in the kitchen! I had been wondering.

    Congratulations on the four-year anniversary, and may I slice him (ie. Wiggles) up a bit more?

  5. Four years already? Wow.

    As a non-SW fan, I would say that Jar Jar Binks is the best part of Phantom Menace, if not Star Wars entirely.

    Presumably the Uncanny Avengers trade will have 60 pages of variant covers at the back.

    Dollar Bill, man! Dollar Bill! It’s that guy that I had to google to remember who he is! How can you not be stoked?!

    James Roberts writes More Than Meets The Eye. I finally got the first trade of that this week and it’s great. The kind of comic that I wanted to read again as soon as I finished it (and I did).

  6. Niall says:

    Congrats guys! Keep up the good work. Will you be re-numbering after issue 100?

  7. Paul O'Regan says:

    Congratulations on four years!

    I’ve picked up a load of great comics over the last few years that I wouldn’t have otherwise. The one that immediately comes to mind is Michael Kupperman’s Tales Designed To Thrizzle, which I’d never heard of until you reviewed #4 back in 2009.

  8. Diana Kingston-Gabai says:

    Congratulations to Paul and Al for four brilliant years – here’s to many more! 🙂

  9. Paul O'Regan says:

    That Ghosts Vertigo one-shot you talked about came out this week too, and it does have Kubert’s final work in it – a short story he wrote and did rough pencils for. There’s a preview here: I liked it.

    The other stories in the one-shot are decent too, especially the Al Ewing/Rufus Dayglo one. It also has a rare non-superhero Geoff Johns story.

  10. Congrats on the four years!

    Bedlam seemed to have fallen through the cracks in a few of the regular comic book review sites I frequent, so I was glad to hear one in favor of it here.

  11. Justin B. says:

    Congratulations on four years of podding! I’ve been listening from the beginning and look forward to the next four years and beyond.

  12. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    If anyone’s curious about seeing Wiggles the Caterpillar, there’s a picture here: Note that Wiggles is actually more dangerous than Paul and Al thought!

    The best online comment I’ve seen about Lucas/Disney is actually comic related: “Disney owns Marvel & Lucasfilm, both of which own Howard The Duck. Clearly, this was the masterplan all along.”

    Regarding whether Disney can make decent action films, what about the Marvel movies? Yes, they’re made by Marvel Studios, which is a specific subsidary, but as Al points out, so is Lucasfilm, so I don’t see the difference.

    Tim Drake. Yeah. Kid sidekick of Batman, wearing a Robin costume, but not Robin. So the only real difference this makes is that in Batman R.I.P. “No-one else believes Bruce is still alive! If I’m on my own here I must reinvent myself the way Dick did when he became Nightwing!” becomes “No-one else believes Bruce is still alive! If I’m on my own here I must wear a slightly different costume!” Which doesn’t exactly improve it.

  13. Diana Kingston-Gabai says:

    On the subject of new characters, I think Al overlooked something: the trouble with Alpha – and, by extension, characters who have similarly evoked a “why oh why are these authors shoving their pets down our throats” reaction among readers – is that at best, they’re not written with any nuance at all; at worst, they’re Mary Sue types whose positive attributes are informed rather than displayed. We all remember Araña, don’t we?

    What Marvel needs is a character who isn’t The Next Big Thing, because characters designed to be The Next Big Thing fail more often than not. Just write them with a measure of competence and skill, and they’ll do well enough on their own (assuming editorial mishandling doesn’t sabotage their momentum, as was the case with the Runaways and the Young Avengers circa Heinlein).

  14. Martin S Smith says:

    Drift was very much a Transformer Mary Sue (or Poochie as a TF board I go to dubbed him) and over-egged by his creator, but Roberts has managed to make good use of him in MTMTE (admittedly by making him faintly ridiculous and a target for the other characters to get annoyed with). Which shows that no character is irredeemable. Arana worked fairly well as Spider-Girl even.

  15. Paul O'Regan says:

    “We all remember Araña, don’t we?”

    Sure, but it’s not like Araña was irredeemably bad. Not many people read it, but I remember Paul Tobin’s Spider-Girl run with her being well-received.

  16. Ethan says:

    If Heinlein had been involved in Young Avengers than Marvel would have had a whole host of other problems. I can’t imagine the necromancy involved would have been cheap.

  17. Hmm says:

    Alpha was purposely written as an annoying character. People hated him because they were supposed to, helped by the natural hatred of Slott’s mediocre Spider-Man run post-Ends of the Earth.

  18. Andy Walsh says:

    Congrats on the anniversary!

    Oh, and caterpillars, being insects, ought to have 6 feet.

    (Oh dear. Have I become _that_ guy?)

  19. Reboot says:

    Thing is, there are genuine pet characters who only one guy is interested in – look at Captain Marvel II (Photon) in the Avengers. The second Stern (her creator, who’d introduced her and then made her team leader) left, Walt Simonson wrote her out and apart from a couple of trademark-renewal one shots (can’t let DC have “Captain Marvel”!) she wasn’t used in a starring role until Stern wrote an Avengers mini. And then wasn’t seriously used *again* for another decade until Warren Ellis asked for some characters he could do what he liked with because no-one cared for Nextwave. And this was the central character of a lengthy Avengers run, pre-internet even!

  20. Happy fourth!

    To all the Jar Jar Binks haters and lovers, I recommend this article published in Entertainment Weekly, early 2012:,,20566981_20570668,00.html

    It’s fascinating to see how everyone involved in The Phantom Menace, EVERYONE, thought that Jar Jar would be a smash hit.

    Finally, your reviews surely help me in my search of quality comics. Paul’s X-Axis got me to read Queen & Country and Phonogram, and I can’t thank you enough for that.

  21. Sorry, the EW Jar Jar article links doesn’t want to work. This one should do it:

  22. Reboot says:

    I think you’ve got James Roberts and Nick Roche, his former writing/artist partner, mixed up.

    James Roberts writes Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye, BTW.

    And the last story in Empowered v5 is one of the few comics to make me properly cry. And Maidman is Frank Miller’s Batman, if the “goddamn”s weren’t clue enough.

  23. Reboot says:

    Incredible Herc fell off drastically after “Love & War” for me (the very next arc seemed to forget the REASON Delphine dumped Cho) and ended fairly crap with Chaos War.

  24. Billy says:

    I can think of a way that might allow Marvel to launch new characters. The problem is that it relies on planning and organization, which are things that Marvel have shown little desire to pursue.

    There are several things that kill new character attempts:

    1) The new character is pushed heavily, to the point that it annoys readers.

    1a) If you don’t push the character, then people will never care about the character.

    2) When a new writer comes along, they tend to write out (or simply never mention again) the previous writer’s pet characters.

    The counter to 2 is to get writers to work together. Get them to talk to each other more about plans. When changing writers on a title, require the new writer to pay more than lip service to the status quo that they are inheriting. If you know a writer is going to be short term, then start preparing for their departure in advance.

    To counter 1, don’t push the character so hard or so fast. If you’ve got the writers working together, then you’ve got time to do a slow burn character.

    Its kind of like pro wrestling. (Wrestler have an advantage in that they can continue to hang around, improve, and gain fans even as their characters are abandoned and repackaged.)

  25. TheKidNixon says:

    Few and foremost, congrats on four years of the single best comic book podcast, by a mile, around.

    Now on to some points:

    1) James Robinson of Starman fame and Cry for Justice infamy has gone on record several times that Hawkman is his favorite character.

    2) I find that new characters often work better in bunches rather than stand-alone fill-ins where they glaringly demand to be paid attention to. I quite liked New X-Men: Academy X, Runaways, Avengers the Initiative and Avenger Academy, because they offered a broad swath of new characters to enjoy and see interact with each other. Granted, none of those books sold gangbusters, so it becomes difficult to argue for their continued existence.

    3) Well done breaking down Ultimatum stands as the worst story of the last four years. It forced Paul to STOP reading an X-book. IT WAS THAT BAD.

    4) I believe Paul should be forced to watch all of Star Wars and blog his thoughts on each individually.

    Again, congrats on four fabulous years and here’s to many more. Thanks for all the laughs, insights and fantastic comic suggestions.

  26. Andy Walsh says:

    Question for the group: Why is Deadpool considered the last significant character Marvel has introduced?

    X-23 has been prominently featured in several books by several writers, and has be the lead in miniseries and an ongoing that lasted nearly 2 years.

    Pixie has been a major character in story arcs of both “Uncanny X-Men” and “X-Men”, and was the lead character in a miniseries.

    Despite how you might feel about the Sentry’s fate, his initial premise would be perfectly serviceable for a movie that would inevitably ignore all that Dark Reign/Siege material anyway.

  27. Billy says:

    X-23 tends to get discounted from such arguments because she is a variation of Wolverine. The other argument is that she was first created outside of comics.

    Pixie is… Well, she’s not exactly headlining books. There isn’t yet an indication that she’s a money maker character. She’s had a mini, but Marvel sometimes tosses minis out almost at random. Pixie could make that popularity jump, but I don’t think it has happened yet. I haven’t been reading X-books for a while, but when I did stop, Pixie was in that problematic “not quite established” position, where her appearance could feel forced (when she appeared at all).

  28. Andy Walsh says:

    I forgot that X-23 first appeared in a cartoon; that’s a reasonable point. The notion that she doesn’t count because she’s derivative of Wolverine seems less compelling if we’re counting Deadpool as an original creation.

    I don’t disagree with anything you said about Pixie. I’m just struggling to figure out which of those observations (beyond the “not quite established” one) doesn’t apply equally to someone like Colossus who I imagine is indisputably an established mainstay of the Marvel Universe.

  29. ZZZ says:

    The problem with thinking of a “major new character” that Marvel or DC has created recently is that no one can agree on what constitutes “major” or “new.” If a character is more than five years old, someone will insist they’re not “new,” and if you name one less than five years old they’ll claim they’re not “major.”

    If we’re just looking for major Marvel characters newer than Deadpool, I’d say X-23, Jessica Jones, Songbird (yes she’s supposed to be Screaming Mimi, but she doesn’t look or act like her and has different powers), Hope Summers, Wiccan and possibly Hulkling all count. And there are plenty of new characters Marvel’s really tried to make “major” characters but the readership would have none of it: Pixie; Hellion; Gravity; the entire casts of Avengers Academy, Generation Hope, Avengers: the Initiative, Secret Warriors and the Runaways; the rest of the Young Avengers; all the students in WatXM plus Warbird; Fantomex; Amadeus Cho; Echo; Layla Miller; Miss America and the Ultimate Nullifier; and Jackpot. Belive me, if Marvel knew why Quake didn’t become the new Wolverine, they’d rectify that situation.

  30. Andy Walsh says:

    Excellent point. It’s not that Marvel and DC aren’t creating new characters. It’s that we don’t know yet which ones of them will stand the test of time. We know Deadpool will stick around for more than 20 years, because it’s more than 20 years since he was created.

    It seems like the only real knock against the likes of X-23, Jessica Jones, Wiccan, etc. is that they can’t yet claim such longevity. But that’s just a matter of time.

  31. Somebody says:

    If we include Cable & Deadpool, the only extended time since the Joe Kelly Deadpool #1 that DP has *not* headlined an ongoing series was during the Agent X run, which was headlined by an ersatz DP.

    None of the alternative “recent major characters” posited above have had ongoing series that lasted more than three years, let alone a continuous run beyond that.

  32. Dave Clarke says:

    What about Bunker? That new character introduced in the nu52 Teen Titans. He was suppose to be gay or something.
    New Batwoman?
    The new villains Morrison created in B&R seem to be getting some play in the upcoming Batman cartoon.

    Personally I don’t think superhero fans want new concepts. Otherwise they would be reading Invincible, Glory, Danger Club, Marineman, that weird Oeming Superhero thing he’s doing at Dark Horse, Bedlam which you reviewed and thats just the current non-DC/marvel superhero stuff I can remember off the top of the top my head.

    If you’re a casual fan and you want to read a superhero comic, why wouldn’t you just reach for something Batman or Spider-man. The same way how someone who just wants a soda is just going to reach for a coke.
    If you’re an obsessive fan into superheroes then you want comics about the characters you know and love.

  33. ZZZ says:

    @Somebody – They’re definitely not as prominent as Deadpool, but if a character has to continuously headline their own book since their creation to be considered “major,” Marvel only has about four or five “major” characters in total. Without looking it up to be positive, I’d bet X-23 and Jessica Jones have each had more issues of solo books published in the last few decades than Hank Pym, the Wasp, the Vision, Mr. Fantastic, Cyclops, or lots of other characters that would indisputably be considered “major” Marvel characters, simply by dint of the fact that those characters almost exclusively appear in team books.

  34. Somebody says:

    ZZZ – see, here’s the thing, by including Vision in that list you undermine your own case, since he’s a perfect example of how not being rooted in your own series can see you tumbling down the order shortly. The Vision & Scarlet Witch maxi was intended to retire both characters, and when it was undone, John Byrne took the shot to turn him into a non-character. And by the time Bob Harras reversed that, the damage was done – for the whole of Avengers v3, he was mostly written out or a minor character, and then Bendis killed him off so Heinberg could replace him with a younger version. He’s back now (the younger version having been killed off to make way in return…), but does anyone really believe that he’s a major character any longer?

    Reed & Cyclops I might give you – Reed because the F4 are a special case in that they have a small (basically) fixed lineup and so function a lot more like a solo book than something like Avengers, and Cyclops for being the team leader and as such getting a lot more spotlight than “random team member”.

    And DP hasn’t “headline[d his] own book since [his] creation.” His debut was in late 1990 (New Mutants v1 #98, cover-dated Feb ’91), he got a miniseries in 1993 and a second a year later, and it was another three years after that (1997) before the Joe Kelly ongoing started.

  35. Paul G. says:

    Re-reading the Claremont/Byrne run, it’s incredible the degree to which they push Kitty Pryde. She’s introduced in the Dark Phoenix Saga, and two issues after joining, she’s shown married to Peter in the future. Were that to happen today, the calls of her being a pet character would be resounding (and accurate). She just happened to catch on, so in retrospect, it seems inevitable.

  36. alex says:

    If they had made Maria Hill the star of the SHIELD TV show, she would have been a candidate.

    Same if they had made the ALIAS TV show.

  37. ZZZ says:

    Including the Vision clearly undermines my use of the word “indisputably,” but I think my larger point still stands: there are characters that the general consensus would agree are “major” characters who have never headlined their own books. Similarly, there are characters whom most people would consider “major” but who, while they may at one point in time have had long-running, popular series, haven’t been able to sustain an ongoing in recent years, like Namor, Dr. Strange, She-Hulk, the Silver Surfer and Black Widow.

  38. […] jollier news, comics podcast House to Astonish celebrates its 4th birthday this week, and I’m sure they would love you to pop over and join […]

  39. kelvingreen says:

    Thing is, there are genuine pet characters who only one guy is interested in – look at Captain Marvel II (Photon) in the Avengers.

    Or the Sentry.

    Congratulations on four years!

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