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Aug 28

House To Astonish Episode 45

Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2010 by Al in Podcast

Our new podcast episode is online now, and we’re talking about Scott Pilgrim vs the World‘s problematic box office, Iron Fist‘s new screenwriters and the November solicitations. We’ve also got reviews of Guarding the Globe, Namor: The First Mutant and Dracula: The Company of Monsters and we’re gunning for the supernatural with the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. All this plus a hungry skeleton, a little-known ’70s punk band, a cheap, non-brand generic Thor that’s probably been made in China and a photograph of Geoff Johns in shorts.

The podcast is here – let us know what you think, either in the comments below, on Twitter, by email or by spelling it out in the letters of a falling, broken sign on the cover of Justice League of America.

EDIT: We’re also now streaming on Mixcloud – if you don’t like dealing with iTunes, or if Podomatic is being a hissy little thing again, you can listen to the show there:

Bring on the comments

  1. I agree with Paul about Scott Pilgrim, which is supported by Al’s failed attempt at a synopsis (which is reasonable, because the synopsis isn’t a clear one at all).

    It’s not that I think a movie should be easily described in a single sentence, but Scott Pilgrim isn’t easy to describe in a single paragraph. It’s about a sequence of fights over misguided love. The entire concept follows video game logic, which at least fits the themes within the story (and it’s not like video games, such as any Final Fantasy, are easy to describe either).

    But that’s just not really marketable to a wide audience at all.

    That’s not a statement about the quality or execution of the movie or comic. It’s just that the premise (and even the title) isn’t one that lends itself easily for promotion and mass consumption.

  2. I think Scott Pilgrim would have benefited from being split into two films (filmed together to assure their release the face of the potential box office flop it’s looking to become). It certainly would have allowed for more space for the interesting supporting cast who get a bit of a short shrift (like Wallace and Kim mainly), made the relationships between Scott and Ramona feel stronger and made the fights with the exes weighter. The one with the twins in particular, while fun and visually impressive, completely undermines the twins as characters.

    That said, the biggest problems are that Michael Cera isn’t that good as Scott (he does ADD, where Scott should have ADHD) and the advertising. The TV ads that say ‘In a musical, when characters want to express emotion, they sing. In Scott Pilgrim’s world, they fight’ are dreadful. Here’s how you sell this film. Slow, typical rom-com style montage of shots of Scott and Ramona meeting, dating with ‘Scott Pilgrim’s just met the girl of his dreams. But if he wants to be with her-‘ kick in some rock music, speed up the edits and show footage from the fight scenes ‘he’ll have to FIGHT FOR HER.’ Smash cut to title card. Which would certainly be a lot truer to the reading experience of the first book.

  3. Paul Wilson says:

    @Martin I don’t think you can say Wallace got short shrift. Ok, they left out the psychic boyfriend stuff, but he was definitely one of the more active supporting characters in the film. I kinda lamented them removing the dimensions from Envy more tbh, and doing nothing with the Twins.

    As for making two movies, that was never going to happen. Wright just doesn’t have the clout to make that kind of demand, especially not for a cult property like Scott Pilgrim.

    They made the best movie they could with the elements available. It kinda falls apart in the third act since that’s where they had to wing it. I’m going to have to watch it again, since the first time was spent just comparing it to the books rather than enjoying it for what it was.

  4. Maxwell's Hammer says:

    I’ve never read the printed version of Scott Pilgrim, but did see the movie and loved the hell out of it. And it was the initial ads I saw that won me over, with the overly-stylized video-game fighting and sound-effects. It was all rather old-school and really pushed all the right nostalgia buttons.

    When I started seeing the more toned-down romance oriented trailers, I was actually kind of disappointed.

    As for the movie itself, I just thought it popped off the screen in some incredibly new kinds of ways, and hearing all the old video game sound effects and tunes (i loved hearing the “Legend of Zelda” theme playing at one point) and the cut-scene style fights…it just clicked with me in a way movies seldom do.

    It’s a shame the average American movie goer has to have everything categorized and pigeon-holed before they’ll even consider going to see it.

  5. You’ve saved me the price of that Ult’Spidey comic. I hadn’t realised they were reprinting the Special, and I’m not paying for it twiced!

    Batwoman #0 – I think that cover shows a younger Kate Kane, so it’s probably a flashback/reintroduction issue.

    Yesterday’s Tomorrows – The DARE comic is prett – wait, are they adding more comics to this new edition? Aww…

    Hmph. You know, I shouldn’t say this, but the REAL cherry of that collection is the Chandler adaptation at the back.

    Scott Pilgrim – I didn’t like it anywhere near as much as the comic. Not enough meat, too much fluff. The story compression works really well for one (secondary) character, but ends up failing Scott himself, maybe. And it only ends up making Ramona’s “arc” feel weaker. I suspect I might enjoy it more second time around, but I have no money left for repeat viewings. It was good, I liked much of it, but I’m going to wait for the DVD (to be reduced).

    Happy funtime superhero stories? I don’t know where you might find any more of them. 8I

    Namor – maybe they should make Atlantis more like Bikini Bottom?

    ¡Feliz Vacaciones, Paolo!


  6. bird says:

    I assumed Kirkman had to rename his series because of DC’s Global Guardians. I didn’t know it was worry about Marvel. I love your coverage of the business, for lack of a better word, side of the comics world.

    Many thanks for another great podcast!

  7. Ben Johnston says:

    I thought the movie was much stronger than the comic, in that it pared the comic down to the core idea: a self-absorbed 20-something has to grow up in order to win the girl of his dreams, as portrayed through the metaphor of video games.

    It nailed the over-the-top zaniness and absurd plot twists that I thought were the strongest parts of the comics; in fact, the effect is even stronger in the movie, because the fight scenes can be presented more effectively. It also greatly pared down the roles of Envy Adams and Gideon, who I thought were the weakest parts of the comic; they work as part of the overall thematic arc, but I thought they were too goofy to take seriously as antagonists. In the film, they (like the rest of the supporting cast) are defined solely by their relationship to Scott, and frankly they work better in a smaller role.

    The disadvantage of stripping a major work down to its core ideas is that you lose a lot of the details, and certainly the supporting cast loses a lot of their depth. I thought that Knives Chau and Kim both suffered especially from this. But the flip side is that Scott’s character arc is tighter and more focused; in particular, the climactic fight is infinitely superior to the comic version, which goes on for something like 80 tedious pages and just becomes wearing (IMO, obviously).

    With some works (Harry Potter, for example), the transition to film is a killer, because the big appeal is the sense that there’s a detailed and interesting universe in which the main story is taking place. If you have to cut all that out, you might as well not bother. But with Scott Pilgrim, the heart of the story comes across more clearly, the style (which was already very good in the comics) is even better, and the only part that suffers is the supporting cast’s subplots and characterisation (which were nice, but ultimately secondary to Scott’s journey).

    Frankly, I’d recommend the film over the digests as a starting point for the series. Then, if you want more…well, there’s always the comic.

  8. The announcement of Batman, Inc. gave me pause for thought. I mean, the notion of super-identity as franchise is pretty close to the surface. It can sometimes seem as if every character of note either has, or is, a sex-swapped, junior, evil or animal counterpart of another hero. Off the top of my head:

    Thunderstrike (author insert – OH WHO SAID THAT)
    Ms. Marvel
    Ace the Bathound
    Uncle Marvel

    And that doesn’t even include so-called “legacy characters.”

    It can often seem like, above and overpowering everything else, the superhero genre is about Family.

    Which is fine when you’re talking about Batman, Robin, and associated hangers-on. But when you formalise and codify the Batification of urban superheroes, that’s another thing entirely.

    That’s market dominance.

    That’s capitalism.

    That’s Empire.

    In Gotham City, it always used to be the case that you wouldn’t be allowed to hero unless you got the nod from the Knight. In fact, that was always one of the things that marked the Grim Munter era of the character, and it often led to friction with other heroes at best, massive nervous breakdowns and retreats into Substitute Batman at worst.

    So what is Grant Morrison doing here? Making the metatext of superhero proliferation text? Batman isn’t narrow-focus enough, you need a Young Batman, a Girl Batman, a big fat French Batman. And a hero isn’t a REAL hero unless he’s part of a family, right, so El Picopuñeta gets the hard word put on him until he puts on La Capa de Murcielago.

    And if not, then what? Somebody parachutes in one day and says, “Bu, mənim şəhəri, artıq, kahretsin-qutusu! geri regional newsreading üçün, alın və yeni bat onun şey etsinlər!” And then what have you got? Bat-Mafia.

    I think it’s an interesting idea, is what I’m saying.

    And yes, I have listened to the podcast twice. I am supposed to be working/dog-sitting; what ELSE am I going to do?

    (El Picopuñeta TM and ©, obviously)


  9. Didn’t Kick-Ass do rather poorly over in the US, in comparison to its box office here? Could a similar thing be happening with Scott Pilgrim?

    Slow, typical rom-com style montage of shots of Scott and Ramona meeting, dating with ‘Scott Pilgrim’s just met the girl of his dreams. But if he wants to be with her-’ kick in some rock music, speed up the edits and show footage from the fight scenes ‘he’ll have to FIGHT FOR HER.’ Smash cut to title card.
    But that was the first trailer, more or less.

    Hang on… Thunderstrike? Isn’t he dead? The last time I saw him was as a dead Avenger (!) back at the beginning of Busiek’s run. Then again, Mockingbird was there too, although she’s since never died because she was a Skrull. Or she was a dead Skrull who thoguht she was a dead Avenger. Or something.

    Bloody Bendis.

    On the other hand, that Ultimate Spider-Man/Fantastic Four team up drawn by Jim Mahfood was brilliant, and the only thing by Bendis I’ve genuinely liked.

    Crimson was, like Battle Chasers, part of the Cliffhanger! imprint, which was part of Wildstorm, which was part of Image, but then moved with Wildstorm over to DC. So you’d get early Cliffhanger issues which had that little speech bubble logo taking the part of the dot in the Image “I”. Quite a clever design, I thought.

    Anyway, Gorilla was another sub-imprint of Image from around the same time, although it didn’t move over to DC.

    Battle Chasers got to #7 or #8 as I recall, only one or two issues past the existing collection.

    If Red Arrow/Arsenal carries a dead cat around with him all the time, he’d not be far off from Hitman‘s Dogwelder.

    Regarding modern mopey vampires, that Preacher one-shot about Cassidy’s trip to New Orleans is still, to this day, a fine antidote to the sparkly undead.

  10. Joe S. Walker says:

    Don’t mean to make fun of Al’s accent, but I kept thinking he was saying “the Puncher.” It’d be a good name for a golden-age character.

  11. maxwell's hammer says:

    Again, as someone who never (and doesn’t intend to) read the Scott Pilgrim digests, I was highly entertained by the on-screen version of Knives Chau and thought she was one of the highlights of the movie. Maybe she was fleshed out more in the books, but I thought the film more than gave her a chance to shine.

    Same thing with the uber-cute freckled drummer chick who I would LOVE to have seen more of, but I thought Alison Pill totally maximized her screen time and delivered a satisfying performance even though she had to do it through quick little moments every here or there.

  12. yeah! ho! wah! says:

    i agree than namor is a pretty bad comic, but i can see why they would start the series as a part of the current x-event, rather than making it about what the series will be about. clearly, they are trying to make namor a part of the x-universe – hence “namor: the first mutant” – and the first issue is supposed to lure in x-men readers. it worked with me! but the terrible quality of the issue (and my general lack of interest regarding the character) also made sure that i wont stick around after the crossover.

  13. Paul C says:

    “Scott Pilgrim vs The World” performing poorly is disappointing considering it has on the whole gotten really positive reviews. Although a number mentioned that Michael Cera is a bit mis-cast and perhaps he kept some people away given that they might have expected a similar performance from him they have seen about 74 times before in all his previous films.

    The film was caught between a rock & a hard place place: can’t split it up into say 1 or 2 Boss fights per film in case the first one tanks, or if they go balls-to-the-wall action some characters will get overlooked. I’ll definitely be checking it out in the near future though.

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they continued on with “Ultimate Spider-Man #151” next month knowing Marvel. The Ultimate relauch has been definitely been a failure – Millar’s “Ultimate Avengers” books have got practically zero buzz about them and reviews have suggested they are nowhere near a patch on his “Ultimates 1 & 2”, this “Ultimate Enemy/Mystery/Doom” saga is pretty clearly a stalling/decompression exercise by Bendis for them to bring back Dr. Doom, and Jeph Loeb is allowed to bring out his books only every other month. Marvel just don’t seem to care either, especially with regards clamping down on Loeb’s schedule as I’d imagine it would be hard for readers to care/get excited for a book that only shows up once every 2 months. Wonder how much moving the imprint to $4 a book has really affected things. Sure Marvel are probably making more money, but the core reading audience for the Ultimate universe is definitely much smaller.

    Also one strange thing that stuck out in the solicits is that Mike Deodato is drawing both “Avengers” and “Secret Avengers” in the same month. Surely must be some mistake.

    Oh, and here is that classic panel detailing Penance’s cat:

  14. That’s a terrible name…

    Kitty-Cut, the Macerating Mog?
    Lenore, the Lack of Lol-Cat?
    Aneilsus, the Anhedonic Housecat?
    Barren, the Barely-Hanging-On-In-There Kitty?
    Smiles. the Self-Harm Serengeti?

    And so forth?

    Ah, now, I was actually won over by Cera’s performance. I thought he was pretty great in the role.


  15. […] No X-Axis for the next two weeks either, because I’m off on holiday.  I’ll probably do some sort of midweek round-up when I get back.  In the meantime, don’t forget that there’s a new episode of the podcast, waiting for you just one post down. […]

  16. Gorilla Comics!

    I actually own all the issues of this imprint. Which was not really hard to do, since there were only 14 of them.

    – Shockrockets by Busiek and Immonen (6 issues)
    – Superstar by Busiek and Immonen (1 extra sized one-shot)
    – Empire by Waid and Barry Kitson (2 issues and than the rest of the series was published by DC years later)
    – Crimson Plague by George Perez (2 issues)
    – Section Zero by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett (3 issues – a kind of Fantastic Four-type team book)

    So, quite a good group of talent. And interesting concepts. It’s really a shame that they got screwed like that. But in my opinion, Shockrockets and Empire were the strongest titles of the lot.

  17. Ethan Hoddes says:

    Sub-Mariner’s run in the Silver Age was pretty long. It lasted from ’65-’74, and it was the longest-lasting of the half-dozen or so Marvel Silver Age superhero comics that got cancelled eventually. (of those I think that X-Men was the only one to be successfully permanently revived). Not that that says anything about his ability to sustain an ongoing. Was the last time they tried to bring him back the Bill Jemas romance thing?

    Of the Marvel Illustrated titles, the Odyssey was one of the ones that made a lot of sense, I thought. I mean, it is a fairly action-heavy story, just a very old one. The one I can remember that made me go “huh?” was The Picture of Dorian Grey.

  18. Michael Aronson says:

    I’ve begun rereading Scott Pilgrim – I only got somewhere in the middle of volume 3 the last time I tried – and I’m having the same problem again, as I just finished volume 2 and am bored to tears.

    The concepts and characters are interesting, but a cohesive plot and smooth momentum are nonexistent. Characters just keep talking on and on about anything, which could be considered character development, except much of what they say is redundant to their characters. Do we have to see Wallace steal Stacy’s (?) boyfriends? It’s a cute idea, but it doesn’t add anything to the character of Scott or move the plot along, and Wallace’s character is already portrayed as thoroughly gay by, like, everything else he says and does while with Scott.

    And so volume 2 winds down by introducing a ton of characters, very few of which we need to know about.

    I’m sure the movie streamlines this much better, although I haven’t seen it yet.

  19. andrew says:

    I really fucking hated Scott Pilgrim Vs the World.

    It had some really good ideas and moments but as a cohesive whole it failed to hold together as a film.

    It’s characters were almost entirely ciphers, dull at best (Ramona) and actively loathsome at worst (Kim, who came across as a complete and utter bitch).

    For all its “cool” moments, it just wasn’t much fun.

  20. AndyD says:

    Hmm, a person dressed like Tarot reading Tarot in public, now that sounds like a good idea 🙂

    I like a lot of Morrison´s work, but I can´t stand his Batman. It was one of the last superhero comics I bought, and I dropped it rather fast. Batman Inc.? No, thanks.

  21. JD says:

    About BATWOMAN #0 : it’s an introduction issue published to ride on the November Bat-titles relaunch’s momentum, but the actual series will only launch next February or something.

  22. Chris McFeely says:

    Ha-ha, GREAT Official Handbook this week! I love how you unconsciously slid from the usual comedy dissection of a character into some seriously good ideas that would genuinely work!

  23. If anyone cares, I just finished reading Scott Pilgrim book 6, and man . . . the series really had no direction the whole time, and the ending felt like a giant copout, except it copped out and became something out of a Disney production. Lame.

  24. Valhallahan says:

    I couldn’t get past the first trade of Scott Pilgrim. Enjoyed the film though, for me a lot of things worked better with actors onscreen than drawn in O Malley’s style. The audience I saw it in clearly didn’t get it though, hardly anyone was laughing apart from me and my mate.

  25. Daibhid Ceanaideach says:

    The most interesting review I’ve read of Scott Pilgrim was one that played up the fact the director was long-time Simon Pegg and Nick Frost associate Edgar Wright, and said it felt a lot like a very long episode of Spaced. The reviewer felt this was a bad thing, but I’m undecided.

    Here’s hoping the new Thunderstrike series leads to him teaming with War Machine and USAgent in Not Actually The Avengers Three, But They Work Cheap.

    Batman Inc. sounds like the next stage of the Batmen of Many Nations, which presumably means more of Beryl “Squire” Hutchinson and her comedy accent. Sounds good to me.

    It occurs to me Marvel are hardly in a position to complain about Guarding The Globe‘s Avengers-alike logo, given that Great Lake Avengers had a logo reading “GLA” in chunky 3D letters. (I think they forgo the shield, though.)

  26. The new Thunsderstrike comic – and it’s a kid hero – means that we’re only one more day away from American Dream appearing in the main Marvel Universe.

    And then we’re only one moment in time from CAPTAIN AMERICANS.


  27. “And then we’re only one moment in time from CAPTAIN AMERICANS.”

    Captains America.

  28. Yes, but Incredible Hulks.


  29. Addison Godel says:

    Paul, have you guys considered indexing the Official Handbooks of the Official Handbooks at all? They’re on the whole great entertainment and I would happily listen to a compilation podcast of just them.

    Which isn’t to say I don’t also listen to and enjoy the reviews – just that the Handbook entries lend themselves more to bite-sized “oh, just one more…” listening as opposed to the reviews, which I put on while cleaning or suchlike.

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