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Apr 1

House to Astonish Episode 103

Posted on Monday, April 1, 2013 by Al in Podcast

We’re a few days late because of the Easter holiday, but we’ve got lots of chat for you this time round to make up for it. We’re talking about Angela joining the Marvel Universe, DC’s creative merry-go-round, Marvel’s new Avengers title, Jeff Parker’s Batman ’66, the return of Quantum & Woody, Marvel’s move into OGNs, Jim Rugg’s Supermag and various other bits and bobs. We’ve also got reviews of The Private Eye, Constantine and East of West, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe is spreading like a viral infection. All this plus two dogs dressed as a pirate, DC’s new Thai green curry book and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of Smash Hits.

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

Don’t forget we’ve also got our Redbubble store – making a fashion statement out of keeping your torso warm.


Bring on the comments

  1. Jim Connick says:

    Re: the Batman TV show, BBC and ITV have both had turns fairly recently of airing the show on their digital channels, at around 3 in the afternoon.

  2. Nick says:

    For me Hickman is the Fun Lovin’ Criminals: great first work and occasional dashes of near brilliance to remind you of what he is capable of and tease you, but you never feel the same level of love and excitement ever again.

    Then again, has anyone ever come into comics with a book as good as The Nightly News?

  3. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    No Aaron Stack in Avengers AI? I’m surprised.

    I’ve heard of Conquest instead of Pestilence before (Wikipedia says Revelation doesn’t name the horsemen except Death, but the one on the white horse is “a conqueror bent on conquest”). I think that version doesn’t get used as much because War makes him kind of redundant.

    (Personally, I like the Gaiman/Pratchett version, where Pestilence retired in the 19th century complaining about penicillin, and was replaced by Pollution.)

    Given the date, I was half expecting today’s Official Handbook to be a particularly lame Ant-Man villain who would turn out not to be a real Ant-Man villain at all. After hearing the description of Father Darklyte, I actually checked the Marvel Database wiki in case you were being more subtle about it.

  4. Ethan says:

    Has Josh Fialkov actually publically SAID that they wanted him to kill John Stewart? As far as I know he’s only said that he left because he didn’t agree with the direction, and everything else is according to ‘sources’. That doesn’t mean it’s not true but people shouldn’t go around saying ‘Fialkov’s saying this’ if he hasn’t publicly said it, and no one has publicly claimed they heard this directly from him.

  5. Max says:

    I assume (there’s that word again!) that Marvel benefits from Angela by getting Neil Gaiman press.

  6. “Ai (Japanese: in hiragana あい, in katakana アイ, in kanji 愛, 藍, 亜衣) is a Japanese feminine given name. It could mean love (愛), indigo (藍) or nothing.”

    A shoujo Avengers harem manga with that big-eyed bishie Aaron Stack at the heart of it would be fantastic, or 異形.


  7. Cassidy says:

    Paul was totally right about the Four Horsemen, fwiw. Conquest is the first horseman in the Bible (though none of them are given names in the Bible except Death). Pestilence is a later retcon that appeared in medieval art and then became much more popular among fantasy writers than his biblical predecessor.

  8. Dave says:

    At a time when Avengers books are so abundant, Jeff Parker isn’t writing any of them. And with plenty of DC’s current titles being…not great, they put him on a digital novelty. Not that I’m saying it won’t be good, or that he’s not a very good choice for it, but come on, use the guy for something high profile. Give him an X-book so there’s at least ONE I really look forward to each fortnight.

  9. Andy Walsh says:

    I know Al was making a joke, but that really is happening with breakfast cereals. For example, there are a currently 8 different kinds of Chex and a dozen flavors of Cheerios. I’m guessing the same logic is at play – if you have a new flavor concept for a breakfast cereal, it will be more successful if it is launched under an existing brand.

  10. The original Matt says:

    Im sure labelling 76 books a month avengers brings some people in, and drives others away, but I’m curious what the trade off is. Especially when they are double shipping at the price that they are.

    I’ve said a few times on this site that I’m not buying the Bendis x-titles because frankly, I don’t want to spend $20 a month on Bendis writing conversations between x-characters. But since those 2 books are the flagships for the line, it makes me hesitate about buying x-men titles at all, since at some point, the events in both those books are going to be “important”. And 2 unconnected x-force books?

    The same goes for avengers. I suppose at least there is only one title playing up as the flagship, and the rest are fringe titles, but should that mean they should have avengers on the cover?

    And then there is uncanny avengers and a+x, which keeps the franchises in perma-crossover. I know they play down continuity in a+x, but they’ve spent years training us to buy books that matter. What are sales like on a+x? Is continuity light trending?

    Comics require a lot of research into the books so you know which ones to buy. Thankfully, in This day and age, of a title turned out to be “important” or it had a story that you find out was up your alley, you can always pick it up in collected editions or as cheapies in digital. I love digital.

  11. Paul G. says:

    Thanks for finally asking “Who Is Charles Soule?” Marvel at least tries to introduce new talent. DC tends to push them out there without any explanation, and has for years. Remember Andersen Gabrych? Royal McGraw? Vito Delsante? All given issues of major headlining titles without any note of who they are. I’ve met Delsante–he’s a very nice guy, but DC did absolutely nothing to sell us on that fact. Shows how much they care about creators and how much they expect fans will just buy the characters regardless of who puts it together.

  12. moose n squirrel says:

    The first horseman – the rider on a white horse – has been traditionally identified as “Conquest,” but honestly that’s due to the vagueness of the original text as much as anything else. The second, third, and fourth horsemen are very clearly war, famine, and death (who kills with pestilence), but the description of the first is so opaque (and potentially redundant with War) that it’s been identified as everything from Christ to the Antichrist to “false peace.” Anyway, that’s John of Patmos and his usual stellar clarity for you.

  13. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    @Andy Walsh: Kellogs Crunchy Nut is another; a wide range of products very few of which are recognisable as being related to the original Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.

  14. Julia says:

    After hearing his takes on the Rapture and the Four Horsemen, I’m beginning to suspect that Al’s knowledge of Christian eschatology is derived solely from X-Men comics.

  15. Al says:

    The irony being that out of the two of us, I’m the God-botherer. In my defence, I’m not a member of a denomination that has any truck with notions of Rapture, and have tried to pay as little attention to Revelation as possible due to John of Patmos being a lunatic.

  16. Ethan says:

    No one seems to have any idea how or why Conquest became Pestilence. At a glance, I think it’s possible that the bow imagery reminded classically-educated types of the ‘arrows of sickness’ associated mainly with Apollo in Greek mythology.

  17. Brodie says:

    “Comics require a lot of research into the books so you know which ones to buy.”

    No they don’t, it turns out. They just need really good concepts and teams. I used toi think the same thing, but Marvel NOW! has my partner reading six titles a month or so. Before that it was difficult to get him to read a menu all the way through.

    Except the ads. He hates the ads and thinks there’s way to many and what kind of idiot allows the books to ship like that…

  18. I agree that DC’s writers turn-around is a symptom of a deep and troubling editorial malaise. Editors should be there to help creators tell the best story possible. Who cares about the overall arc of the universe if the comics are boring?

    I came to the New 52 with an open mind. I really wanted to like it. But nothing was good. And in the last 30 days, two things happened : Action Comics published its last issue by Grant Morrison and DC cancelled Hellblazer. And I was left with 5 mediocre series. Five years ago, I used to buy 25 series.

    So I stopped. I stopped buying comics. I told my retailer whom I was a client for the last 24 years, to cancel my reservation list. I’m not even buying digital. There is not a single title that is good enough for me to follow month after month. I was a hardcore DC fan, but DC right now produces crap. Maybe Marvel is better. But 3.99 for 22 pages is ridiculous. And they keep thinking Bendis is a good super-hero writer. He is not.

    So after 40 years of buying comics every week, I kicked the habit. With the help of the big 2. I’m not stopping reading them. I have this huge collection and there are series that I can’t wait to reread. And I will buy future trades of Fatale, Astro City, Stumptown and Phonogram.

    But… yeah. This is it.

  19. Matthew says:

    I know it’s not your style to dissect books beat-by-beat, but I think your review of Constantine would really have benefited from picking a scene and taking it apart to show why it was uninspired and why it was a very weak version of the character. As it was, the review came off like someone talking about a joke you haven’t heard. You went on and on about how it wasn’t a good version of the character, but you were so vague on specifics that it was hard to tell what the problem was.

  20. Mark Clapham says:

    I think Paul Smith drew some of the Aragones and Evanier DC issues of The Spirit, post-Cooke but before it relaunched as part of DC’s short lived pulp universe.

    I suspect DC editing traces of Batman 66 out of Allred’s Solo was more to do with the legal issues, which split the rights to the show between Time Warner and the broadcast network, iirc. Those must be sorted, as the Parker comic is just part of a large wave of Batman 66 merch.

  21. kingderella says:

    on “redundant” horsemen: i always thought Death makes the other three pretty much redundant.

  22. kingderella says:

    “Comics require a lot of research into the books so you know which ones to buy.”

    i tend to think that this is the one big hurdle that keeps new readers away. a kazillion books all called the same, constantly being relaunched, renumbered, renamed and rebooted.

  23. Si says:

    kingderella: Not so astonishing. I mean, take the band Nirvana. Dave Grohl’s an awesome drummer, one of the best, but with Cobain up front you could have a clapping monkey keeping the beat and people would barely notice.

  24. Billy says:

    Late to the podcast, but on Quantum & Woody, if they are getting a new creative team, then I’d rather that they just create a new book.

    Quantum and Woody aren’t an amazing idea on their own. The book was sold by Priest’s writing.

    A new team would pretty much have to relaunch the series anyway. How many years has it been since Q&W’s last short run? That itself came after years of not being around. It isn’t even like the Quantum & Woody name is worth much. New characters in a new book might actually draw more attention that trying to revive this particular title without the parts that interested people.

  25. AndyD says:

    Paul really sums it nicely up, why Milligan’s Hellblazer was so disappointing. There was not much there which differentiated him from superheroes. And if Constantine as a concept was one thing, it was the exact opposite to a superhero.

    @Pascal: I have made a similar experience. From buying a lot of monthly superhero comics I am down to zero. And I don’t miss them with their mostly constant idiotic re-imagining,re-numbering, re-whatever. 3 to 5 different Wolverine books for 3.99? No thanks.

  26. Diana Kingston-Gabai says:

    @Pascal: As AndyD has already indicated, you’re not alone – my list of Big Two monthlies has also steadily shrunk to zero (though I’ll at least give Kieron Gillen the benefit of the doubt and try the first trade of “Young Avengers”). Luckily, there’s no shortage of good comics elsewhere: “Saga”, “Fatale”, “Supurbia” and “Thief of Thieves” are all interesting reads, and unlike the Big Two they’re unlikely to be derailed by Big Damn Events every two months…

    For me, the problem is creative turnover: the current batch of Big Two writers just don’t measure up to their predecessors. Simon Spurrier’s all right, but Mike Carey was brilliant on “X-Men: Legacy”. Rucka’s “Batwoman” was clearer and more grounded than JH Williams’ sprawling, incoherent urban fantasy. Jason Aaron’s good for spectacle and not much else, Greg Pak lacks Tony Bedard’s or Judd Winick’s imagination when it comes to alternate realities, adn Bendis’ style hasn’t changed at all in ten years.

  27. Odesasteps says:

    The only monthlies i’m buying now are non big two: saga, fatale, chew, 47 ronin.

    The marvel stuff i read in the bookstore since Barnes and Noble still carries issues or bum off friends and only buy the trade later if i like the story (JIM, etc).

  28. Chris McFeely says:


    Cahmaaaaaan, you can’t look me in the eye and tell me that Aaaron’s Thor isn’t better than Fraction’s, or that Hickman’s various Avengers titles aren’t better than Bendis’s final work on them.

  29. The original Matt says:

    Marvel are producing the best titles they have in a loooooong time. Hickman, Aaron and Remender all have me hooked.

  30. Diana Kingston-Gabai says:

    @Chris: Having never read Fraction’s “Thor”, all I can tell you is that Aaron’s is very much playing to his strengths – it’s a bombastic epic that doesn’t require much in the way of character work (was there anything original or innovative at all in Gorr’s origin story?).

    As for Hickman, to say that he’s better than Bendis is damning with faint praise, IMO. I mean, well done for improving on the man who made the Sentry an Avenger and gave a government position to Norman Osborn…

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