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Apr 18

House to Astonish Episode 198

Posted on Monday, April 18, 2022 by Al in Podcast

We’re back, with more news and reviews and the usual nonsense. We’ve got chat about Archie Comics’ NFT shenanigans, IDW’s Originals line, DC’s Pride special’s lineup, the new Batman and Detective Comics creative teams, Superman: The Space Age, X-Terminators, All-Out Avengers, the relaunch of Shang-Chi and Grant Morrison’s debut novel Luda. We’ve also got reviews of The Wrong Earth: Fame and Fortune and Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe doesn’t have a leg to stand on. All this plus a fictional Scottish king, an unexplained vendetta against Sussex and Fleem Blomfom, the character find of 2022.

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 on our Facebook fan page.

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Bring on the comments

  1. Josie says:

    I just watched the Shang-chi movie for the first time last week. Keep in mind, despite being a fan of these properties, I generally dislike most Marvel movies.

    The first hour of Shang-chi had a lot of strong points, and all those strong points were when I forgot I was watching a Marvel movie and was introduced to characters and situations I’ve rarely seen before, at least in a Hollywood production.

    All the worst parts were the gratuitous cameos and Marvel-style plot points (read: pointless fight scenes) that derailed anything interesting the movie tried to do.

    And then the second half just became Chinese Black Panther, but the very very boring last third of the Black Panther film.

    Bleh.

  2. Joe says:

    I once remember hearing how contracts will somehow move onto the blockchain, making contract lawyers redundant. Isn’t that one of you out of a job? No wonder you’re so skeptical.

    Mild sarcasm aside, I can’t remember where I heard that. I’m rarely given to listening to podcasts about irrelevant nonsense.

    Now, onto snake tails. There’s so much random weirdness in the marvel universe that I’d believe a woman with a snake tail was an assassin. Someone has perform assassinations. May as well be her, or the guy with four arms, or an alien or whatever else.

  3. Taibak says:

    Yeah, but the big problem with Marvel assassins is that they tend to be characters like Bullseye or Elektra. Where are all the assassins who rely on telepathy or telekinesis? I mean, we know they don’t exist because their powers make them borderline unstoppable, but the characters don’t know that.

    And it’s why Claremont had the right idea with Emma Frost training Firestar to be an assassin. Her ability to microwave someone from a distance makes her perfect for the job.

  4. Joe says:

    “Where are all the assassins who rely on telepathy or telekinesis?”
    That’s a good point. Babylon 5 had a telekinetic who was being trained to manipulate small objects. To close windpipes long enough to kill.

    But you’re right that that’s OP. Furthermore, not really the marvel style. Better to have the woman with the snake tail shoot people with uzis.

  5. Omar Karindu says:

    There’s a really terrifying idea in there: maybe the telekinetic and telepathic assassins are quiet professionals who never get on the heroes’ radar at all.

    The flamboyant assassins seem to me like folks you hire so that everyone “knows” you had a professional hit done, but can’t prove it. Like, that was the whole bit with Bullseye and Elektra as the Kingpin’s “chief assassin.” The idea wasn’t that they were quietly taking people out, but rather that “everyone” would know this scary person would get you if you challenged the Kingpin.

    Notably, in the “Born Again” storyline, the Kingpin does quite well using much subtler operatives, and his defeat happens because he gets mad and sends in a highly public, flamboyant, costumed guy — Nuke — out of sheer obsession at Daredevil.

    Outside the story, I think an assassin who was not only unstoppable but also undetectable just wouldn’t make for that interesting a story. It would be a big shift from superhero widescreen action to, say, something more like a procedural investigation genre with paranormal elements. It’s the kind of thing that would work better as an indie sci-fi comic, maybe from Image.

    And I think, in fact, there have been some series like that.

  6. Taibak says:

    It could work in the Marvel universe. It would have made for a good X-Factor Investigations story or a District X story. Hell, it might even be an interesting J. Jonah Jameson mini.

  7. Danny says:

    OK, I get to be That Guy today 🙂
    “Uhm, actually…” Cottonmouth is indeed the Serpent Society member who could elongate his mouth/jaw and swallow large objects. It was Bushmaster, however, whose body ended in a snake tail. He also had a large retraclable claw on each forearm, in case we need another Wolverine-ish villain.

  8. Martin Smith says:

    I was reading the first trade of Strikeforce Morituri recently and there’s a back-up strip about the creation of an issue, showing a mock poster of Chris Claremont behind the writer and the words “Claremont sez: is there any reason it can’t be a woman?”.

    Presumably, Greg Rucka had a similar poster with “Gruenwald sez: is there any reason it can’t be a snake person?”

    But I think it’s good that French half-snake people are finally getting chance to be gun-toting mercenaries.

  9. Si says:

    There was that Warren Ellis character from X-Force (I think) who made telekinetic bullets, and could shoot people without a gun. Which is one of those typical Ellis concepts that seems cool at first glance but is actually pointlessly overcomplicated when you think about it.

    I can’t remember his name, or almost anything about him or the story he was in, except the mind bullets and the one panel where he got in a fistfight with a mammoth to prove his badassitude.

  10. Peter Singer says:

    I’m just here to point out that Elynas, Melisene and Pressyne are all public domain characters from medieval legend.

    The reason OHOTMU says that it’s uncertain if Yith knows about her ancestors is probably because they just wrote some version of the legend…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melusine

  11. Si says:

    Yes but Maralith is a snake lady from D&D.

  12. Paul says:

    I had Quality of Life… actually I think I still do in storage. It was a gimic miniseries built around goofy-looking 3D CGI art. In its defense, the creators leaned into the cheese of it and I remember liking it. The story was set in some nebulous Spidey ‘golden age’ of Pete as a photographer for the Daily Bugle (Romita, Sr.-esque). I remember Rucka and I remember Yith, but I don’t remember her having an origin. She was just some mysterious corporate assassin, very professional, whose snake-theme worked in the story as a contrast to Lizard’s… uhm, Lizard theme. Like an Untold Tales sort of… tale. Tail. TailS. Also, Spider-Man needs more villainesses and she’s got an animal theme, she’s serious as a foil to his silly, seems a bit more competent and functional compared to the usual Dopiest Foes of Spider-Man. God that origin, though! Yeesh, where did that come from?

  13. Mark Coale says:

    Presumably, any Batman comic related to Opera will eventually get to Pagliacci, which I’d guess been done before. I think it might have even been done on the TV show, as you often see stock pictures of Cesar Romero wearing that costume.

  14. Daibhid C says:

    Honestly, when I heard Batman + opera, my first thought wasn’t Die Fledermaus, as it clearly should have been, but “masked figure who lives in an elaborate underground structure he had built beneath a big fancy building.”

    Marvel Wiki lists Yith as “Named only” in everyone’s favourite mystic crossover Marvel Tarot, along with a whole bunch of other mythic monsters who are also, apparently, the “Get of Set”, so I’m prepared to bet that this is where her “What If All The Snake People In Mythology Had Babies?” origin came from, which would also explain why it’s not clear if she’s aware of it.

  15. Paul says:

    In the Adam West tv series, Cesar Romero dresses as Pagliacci (wearing virtually the same mask Ledger wears at the beginning of Dark Knight) in the episode ‘The Joker is Wild’

    In The Animated Series, the Penguin on parole attends Pagliacci on a date with society maven Veronica Vreeland in ‘Birds of a Feather’

    Young Bruce gets his parents killed because the comic operetta Die Fledermaus freaks him out in Batman Begins

    Harley Quinn crashes Pagliacci where Bruce, Selina, and Leslie Thompkins are in attendance in Hush: Chapter 6

    So, the idea has been done. Rigoletto is the story of a vengeful jester, so it has Jokerish themes like Pagliacci, which I predict might come into play

  16. Mark Coale says:

    I was a little surprised that One Star Squadron didn’t come up when discussing Russell. I know I had briefly talked to Al online about it when issue 1 came out but don’t know if Al or Paul are reading it.

    I’m of mixed minds about it. (If I can plug, we discussed on our new pod with Friend of HTA Joe Sposto.)

  17. Josie says:

    I’ve had multiple people explain to me what One Star Squadron is about and I still don’t get it, and I am genuinely interested in the book and want someone to sell me on it. This seems like a complete marketing fail.

  18. Mike Loughlin says:

    One-Star Squadron: Small-time super-heroes (mostly) work for a company like a cross between Cameo and Taskrabbit. They make a living doing live appearances and performing security gigs. Red Tornado is the manager, but it’s owned by a shady corporation. One day, the corporation decides to downsize…

    I like Russell’s comics, overall, even though I know I’m being told things I already agree with. I think that criticism is a bit reductive, as the guy has a knack for writing sad sack characters and his satire is sometimes quite poignant. Subtle, he ain’t.

    One Star Squadron is funny sometimes, but hits a little close to home. The latest issue, 5, was more rooted in tragedy than humor. Steve Lieber’s art on the series is great, as usual. He’s made a second career out of drawing super-hero comedies, and he shines in this weird sub-genre. His grounded figures and skill with facial expressions keep the stories grounded instead of overly-wacky.

    Not recommended if you make a living through the gig economy and/or don’t want to read about that kind of thing; if you’re a Power Girl fan, as she’s a real jerk in this series; if you’re someone who just wants either straightforward super-hero comics or straightforward comedy.

  19. Mark Coale says:

    I described it as a cross between the JLI and the Fraction Jimmy Olsen.

    I want to like it, since its full of C and D listers, but I’m not really a fan of Russell’s writing.

  20. deworde says:

    I really enjoy Wrong Earth, but everything you described about Fame and Fortune makes me not want to pick it up, and worried it’ll work its way into the main series.

  21. 1. Grant Morrison published a collection of short fiction, *Lovely Biscuits*, back in 1998. As far as I can tell, that and *Supergods* are their only non-comics books.

    2. Riverdale is based loosely on Haverhill, Massachusetts, which has a population around 68,000. So presumably we could be looking at an NFT for every denizen.

    3. “Yith” is an important term in Lovecraft; Greg Rucka is on the record as not being a huge fan of HPL, so it’s likely the name is a coincidence, but I will say my ears perked up.

    4. The most subtle of Mark Russell’s political satires is his two-year run on *Red Sonja*, which still isn’t *very* subtle. But it’s helped by having stuff that isn’t overtly political surrounding the questions of kingship, empire, and so forth.

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