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Feb 19

House to Astonish Episode 197

Posted on Saturday, February 19, 2022 by Al in Podcast

We’re back once again with a full slate of comics news, remembering Ian Kennedy and Tom Veitch, and discussing the Hero Initiative’s JLA/Avengers reprint, DC’s upcoming Black Label titles, Marvel’s Wild Cards and Thunderbolts revivals, IDW’s Last Bot Standing and the Amazon/ComiXology disaster. We’ve also got reviews of Iron Fist and Nightwing, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe has a burnin’ love. All this plus an underground car park, trading cards with staples and Carnage, the most well-adjusted man in comics.

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud, or available via the embedded player below. Let us know what you think, in the comments, on Twitter, via email or through our Facebook fan page. And if you wanted to buy a t-shirt from our Redbubble store, then well, we wouldn’t say no.

Bring on the comments

  1. Taibak says:

    To be fair, Moore did have that Captain Britain run from back when comics were published on clay tablets. I liked it, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a lost classic. If nothing else, it seems to be fondly remembered in general.

  2. Taibak says:

    Re: MCU and Thunderbolts.

    I’m not sure that they’re setting up the Thunderbolts just yet. My sense is that they’ve seeded three different teams instead.

    The obvious one is Young Avengers. They introduced Wiccan and Speed in WandaVision, Stature in Ant-Man, Kate Bishop in Hawkeye, and Patriot in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hulkling shows up in Secret Invasion either.

    I think Valentina’s team is going to be the Dark Avengers instead. Yelena and the USAgent are pretty blatant replacements for Steve and Nat. That might turn into Thunderbolts down the line but it might be a while.

    And The Eternals may have set up MI:13, of all things. The post-credits scene had Blade visit the Black Knight and those Henry Cavill as Captain Britain rumors just won’t die. I’m not sure how likely that is, but if Marvel will make movie versions of Shang-Chi the Eternals, why not MI:13?

  3. Chris V says:

    I wouldn’t exactly call Captain Britain a top-tier comic book title…like Superman, Batman, JLA, Avengers,X-Men…
    It seems Moore was left alone by editors to tell the story he wanted to tell with the character.

    Thom and Mike make fair points about Moore and superhero comics. It does seem true, though, that Moore was more interested in superheroes than the other British Invasion comic writers, outside of Morrison.
    Moore and Morrison were recreating lesser-known characters like Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, or Kid Eternity…but also had interest in writing a “mainstream” superhero like Superman.
    Gaiman and Milligan seemed most comfortable with a character they could write in their own voice…Sandman, Shade, X-Statix (or creator owned books). Delano and Mills had no interest in superheroes. Grant was comfortable with a vigilante character which shared some aspects with characters he was already familiar from his 2000 AD work.
    While Thom is correct about Moore working on a title like WildCATs, I couldn’t see any of his other contemporary British writers other than Morrison wanting to touch a property like WildCATs.

  4. In fairness, Morrison can’t write anything. Let’s not forget their first stab at The Authority

    (No, in fact, let’s forget it. It’s safer that way.)

  5. Chris V says:

    Morrison’s Authority? The one issue they wrote uncredited to fill in for Mark Millar? The relaunch where they wrote two issues before getting bored and quitting? I mean, I wouldn’t judge Morrison’s career based on a comic they obviously were not interested in even writing.

  6. Not judging, just pointing out that even Morrison’s golden touch doesn’t work every time, all the time. 😉

  7. Mark Coale says:

    One thing that most people never seem to discuss is that, for the most part, Moore’s superhero stuff Re-imagining other people’s characters, either as pastiches or thinly veiled analogues. Miracle man, watchmen, supreme, 1963, Tom strong, Promethea, etc. even lost girls is taking public domain characters as protagonists. From Hell is probably the one that isn’t part of that of his creator owned stuff. Swamp Thing and the other DC stuff prob fall in the middle somewhere.

  8. Mark Coale says:

    If I was going to list Morrison’s duds, I’d prob start with Sebastian O and some of the lesser Remembered Vertigo mini series.

  9. Chris V says:

    thekelvingreen-Gotcha. Sorry, I misread your post. I thought you were saying Morrison could not write. I get you now, and it’s true.

    Mark Coale-I’d say Promethea stops being a simple pastiche fairly quickly and develops in to one of Moore’s most personal works. Otherwise, that is true though.

  10. Chris V says:

    You didn’t like Sebastian O? I enjoyed it. Not among Morrison’s best, but I wouldn’t call it a dud. It’s Oscar Wilde in a 1970s Michael Moorcock novel. I’d take that over a great deal of current comics.

  11. Mike Loughlin says:

    I don’t remember much about Sebastian 0, but I didn’t actively dislike it. There were two early Morrison comics I didn’t like. The first was The Mystery Play, which was pretentious as hell. I don’t like when people use “weird” or “pretentious” to dismiss Morrison’s work, but reading The Mystery Play was like listening to an 18 year old tell you why religion is,like, actually so bad.

    The second Morrison series I didn’t like was Invisibles. I bought the first trade, read it 1 and a half times, and gave up. I like a lot of psychedelic music, but reading and watching “trippy” content isn’t my thing.

    I felt kind of dumb liking JLA, Aztek, and Skrull Kill Krew but staying away from Morrison’s more personal and challenging Invisibles. At least I dug Kill Your Boyfriend, probably the most subversive comic I read in my early teens.

  12. Mike Loughlin, I know how you feel. I may be the only person in the world that thought Vimanarama was better than We3. 😉

  13. Chris V says:

    thekelvingreen-I wasn’t going to bring it up, but yeah, I think WE3 is one of Morrison’s duds. I just didn’t understand why people loved it. It didn’t stand up next to Morrison’s more experimental or challenging works.

    I can’t say the same about The Invisibles. It’s one of my favourite comic series. Robert Anton Wilson is also one of my favourite writers, so I don’t see how it’s possible for me not to love The Invisibles.
    I did use The Invisibles as one of the gateway drugs in order to get my fiancée to fall in love with comic books (and Grant Morrison too) when she was never a comic book reader beforehand.

    As far as The Mystery Play, I might be more won over by the art. I didn’t dislike it. I didn’t find its main theme to be “anti-religion”. On the other hand, it’s been a long time since I read it. Hey, at least it isn’t as bad as some of Garth Ennis’ juvenile attempts to mock religion. Those comics annoy me.

  14. Thom H. says:

    We3 is a good enough story for what it is. And it’s fun to look at. I reread Vimanarama more often, though.

    I want to like Sebastian O more, but if your main character is based on Oscar Wilde shouldn’t he be gay? It really bugs me that Sebastian isn’t (even though I know dandy-ism and queerness aren’t the same).

  15. Chris V says:

    Isn’t Sebastian O bi? To be honest, I think Sebastian O is more simply a knockoff of Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius. It’s the time period setting and the fact that O went to prison for his “transgressive Uranian writings” which makes one connect him with Oscar Wilde.

  16. Suzene says:

    @thekelvingreen – You are not. Reading WE3 was like getting bricked by a 15-year-old PETA brat and about as pleasant. The only thing I took from it was that I finally understood why some folks are gaga for Quietly’s art – there were page layouts in there that were literally breath-taking. But the story…nah. Had to revisit Plague Dogs to get the taste of that one out of my brain.

  17. Mark Coale says:

    I think it’s great we have people liking and disliking so many different books that Morrison has written. And I don’t think anyone has mentioned Sea Guy or St Swithins Day or Dan Dare yet.

    For me, given my love of metatext and C level DC characters, it’s hard to put anything but Animal Man, even if some of the issues are not that great viewed thru a modern day lens. Fortunately, Coyote Gospel and all the stuff from the last 4 or 5 issues hold up for me.

  18. Chris V says:

    Yeah, Invisibles, Animal Man, and Doom Patrol are my three favourite series by Morrison. They may be my favourite comics of all.

    St. Swithins’ Day is fine by me. It’s topical, but I have a fondness for reliving the 1980s. I enjoyed seeing Morrison venture in to the realm of slice-of-life, even if it was early in his career.
    His Dan Dare probably also has to be read in the context of Thatcherism also, but I still find it worth a read also.

    I didn’t enjoy the original Sea Guy mini when it was published, but I need to reread it someday. I loved the sequel. I wonder if I just didn’t grok the original, but did grok the sequel (as they say), so maybe I’ll enjoy the original more with the context of the sequel.

  19. Josie says:

    “But I keep coming back for more King. There’s something about those books that makes me want to see for myself how they turned out this time.”

    Right? He’s nothing if not consistently interesting. His failures are very interesting too. We all can’t stop talking about Heroes in Crisis. It’s such a baffling book.

  20. Josie says:

    “In fairness, Morrison can’t write anything.”

    I’m curious as to who’s behind these wonderful Seven Soldiers and All Star Superman collections I own.

  21. Josie says:

    “The second Morrison series I didn’t like was Invisibles. I bought the first trade, read it 1 and a half times, and gave up.”

    I also keep trying . . . it’s Morrison’s only series I just can’t get through. I even got through both seasons of Green Lantern, which I thought was pretty awful. I do intend to give Invisibles another stab at some point. There must be something to it, if so many people swear by it.

  22. Josie says:

    I’m not sure why people are down on We3. It’s not about the meaning of two-dimensional comic book characters or the potential of the human race, or the reincarnation of Odin as a Monitor. It’s a slight, simple, straightforward story, and one that’s well told for what it is.

    Not everything needs to be the Invisibles.

  23. Josie says:

    Since we’re on the topic of Morrison, anyone read Nameless and Annihilator?

  24. Chris V says:

    WE3 isn’t a terrible comic, I just don’t understand the amount of praise. It’s not very original. I just expect more from Morrison. It’s not an objectively bad comic, by any means.

    Nameless should be on my list of favourite comics also. It was the last masterpiece written by Morrison. It’s such an amazing trip in to nihilism.
    Annihilator is also very good, although not at the level of Nameless. Annihilator was Morrison returning to the type of comics they were writing in the 1980s again. I’ll always have a place for that sort of storytelling.

  25. Thom H. says:

    I always liked The Filth more than The Invisibles. They’re very different books, I realize, but they had a similar cathartic feeling to me. Like Morrison was exorcising something from their psyche.

    I mostly dipped into The Invisibles when Phil Jimenez was drawing an arc. So pretty. Otherwise, I thought it took too long to get where it was going. The Filth was compact and weird and gross and just got to the point.

    Morrison’s Doom Patrol reignited my love of comics after I had become disillusioned with the X-Men. I read and reread and dissected and studied and obsessed over it for so long that I don’t know if I can revisit it again. But it will always have a special place in my collection.

    That run contains just as much weirdness and mysticism as The Invisibles, but manages to also be funny and heartwarming. And we got to watch Richard Case become a better and better artist, which was fun.

  26. Mike Loughlin says:

    I liked We3 for the art and because HE WAS A GUD DOG!!! I’m a sucker for dogs. We3 was like if Morrison wrote a live-action Disney movie under the impression that Disney movies were supposed to have guns.

    I’m a big fan of most of the big Morrison comics: Doom Patrol, Animal Man, JLA, New X-Men, Flex Mentallo, 7 Soldiers, All-Star Superman. The rest of his DC work varies between very good and meh. Seaguy hit me pretty hard. I was alternately into the comic and alienated by it. St. Swithin’s Day was a decent read, even if I didn’t have the cultural context.

    Never read the Filth, it looked very much Not My Thing. Still haven’t read Vinerama, Nameless, or Annihilator. They’re on my “when I get around to it” list. Oh, and haven’t read Klaus. I’ve heard that series is fun.

  27. Chris V says:

    I found Klaus to be ok. The original mini-series is the best, but it never quite lives up to the premise, I felt. I don’t want to discourage you from reading it, and you may react totally differently to the comic, but I’d rank it as one of Morrison’s lesser works.

    If you didn’t read The Filth because it seemed too dark or depressing than I would avoid Nameless. Nameless is a completely different level of negativity. I love it and absolutely recommend it, but if you want to avoid a plot that is going to leave you in a state of depression as you read it, I’d say to avoid Nameless.

    Thom-Yes, both The Invisibles and The Filth were very personal works. I always read it as The Invisibles is what Morrison wished they could be, while The Filth is what Morrison feared they could have ended up in life.
    The Invisibles contains the personal philosophy and beliefs of Morrison, similar to Moore’s Promethea, more than any of Morrison’s other work.

  28. Mike Loughlin says:

    Chris V: thanks for the heads up about Nameless. There are times I want a depressing comic and times I don’t. I think Morrison comics are usually more hopeful and optimistic, even when they contain horrific events (with the caveat that I haven’t all of their work).

  29. Taibak says:

    Chris V: I’m not saying Captain Britain was ever a big deal. I mean, even in the UK he was demoted to being a sidekick for the Black Knight. My point was just that it was the only extended run Moore ever had on a superhero title for Marvel and/or DC.

  30. Josie says:

    “Never read the Filth, it looked very much Not My Thing.”

    I still don’t love the Filth, but structurally it feels like an inverse All Star Superman, if that makes any sense. There is an overarching plot and single-issue mini plots, but it’s frequently dark and gutwrenching. I would recommend reading it, if only because it fits consistently into the themes Morrison was exploring around that time.

  31. For what it’s worth, my favourite Morrison comics are Zenith, Vimanarama, All Star Superman, and most of Seven Soldiers, The Invisibles, and New X Men. That early Zoids run was also far better than it should have been.

    (To my enduring shame, I have never got around to Doom Patrol.)

    A lot of people talk about We3 like it’s a work of staggering genius and…it’s fine? I just never understood the hype.

  32. Mike Loughlin says:

    Josie: thanks for the appraisal of The Filth. I might check it out someday, if only to see compare it to other Morrison comics.

    thekelvingreen: if We3 doesn’t get you right in the feels and/or interest you on a formalist level, it’s probably not going to impress. The plot, dialogue, and characterization are not the book’s strengths.

  33. jpw says:

    Obviously, what we need is an Official Handbook of “The Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.”

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