How Lee & Kirby's "Fantastic Four" Birthed the Marvel Universe, Part 1
Random Thought! I’m back and I’m bringing with me a new feature: the Random Joe Casey Question and Answer. From now on, every week, I will ask Joe Casey one question and he will answer it. It’s Random Thoughts time! Get excited!
Random Thought! So, it’s been a couple of months. During that time, I announced that GraphiContent will end on January 29, 2013 and that I’ve resigned from the CBR review team. The two aren’t unrelated and I’ve explained them elsewhere (or come as close to explaining them as I’ll get). Both reflect where I am right now and my general state of tiredness with how I’ve been doing things. I need a change. I wasn’t sure if I’d return to Comics Should be Good necessarily. Then, two things happened. First, Before Watchmen was announced and Brian Cronin agreed to join me in a weekly discussion of whatever new issue comes out. Second, Joe Casey sent me an e-mail last Wednesday after reading I was leaving CBR on the Comics Reporter (which was news somehow). To paraphrase, he congratulated me on a good run and offered to mark the occasion with a big interview for Comics Should be Good, which he assumed I was leaving as well. I usually forget that people think that CBR and CSBG are the same thing because CBR hosts CSBG, but I never think of them as the same. CBR hosts CSBG, but, otherwise, they’re pretty separate. So, I told him that I was only leaving the review team and he offered to do the Q&A anyway, but on a weekly basis with one question in each new Random Thoughts. And here I am. Everyone say “Thank you, Joe Casey!”
Random Thought! On another semi-personal note, during my break, I handed in my edits for Shot in the Face: A Savage Journey into the Heart of Transmetropolitan. It’s currently being worked on by Sequart’s crack team and shouldn’t be too far from seeing shelves. No official timeline yet, but sooner rather than later, hopefully.
Random Thought! In the past two months, Mile High Comics has gotten me to place two orders because of big discounts and the offering of free trades. My first order was a big stack of Brian Michael Bendis comics that I didn’t own: his Ultimate X-Men run, Ultimate Team-Up, Elektra, and few random things, and I got House of M: X-Men for free. My second order was the remaining Starlin Dreadstar issues I didn’t own and Gilgamesh II with Captain America & The Falcon: The Swine for free. They are the official online comics retailer of Random Thoughts.
Random Thought! Gilgamesh II is an odd little book. Kind of funny, but the end is a killer…
Random Thought! I received the Jack Kirby OMAC hardcover for my birthday and it kind of diminished my love for the current OMAC series.
Random Thought! Sorry, Marvel, but if I see the word ‘infinity’ and it doesn’t have the name ‘Starlin’ somewhere near it then you’re doing it wrong.
Random Thought! While I’m on the subject of Jim Starlin, I was rereading some of my writing on his work and I came to the realisation that he’s probably the best big event crossover writer in superhero comics. Even something that was a weaker story like The Infinity Crusade was still structured incredibly well and made excellent use of the tie-in books he was writing. The main series told the main beats of the story, Warlock & the Infinity Watch had a slightly more comedic tone and focused on Pip the Troll, and The Warlock Chronicles put the spotlight on Adam Warlock. Each book had a specific purpose and, while there were overlaps, they also managed to tell their own stories. More than that, all three of those big events were, at their core, simple stories about Adam Warlock usually with the regular superheroes playing no significant role in any way. Their stuff was filler that went nowhere… and, yet, it never felt padded or stuffed with filler. Anyone writing an event book should study what Starlin did, because I can’t think of anyone that has done it better.
Random Thought! I have really liked the way that Brian Michael Bendis has structured the current Avengers/New Avengers crossover, each title telling a different part of the story and showing how wide-ranging Norman Osborn’s attacks are. They really do function on their own and come together to tell a bigger story.
Random Thought! I really wish that The Ultimates creative team of Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic, and Dean White could stick around for longer. Nothing against Sam Humphries or anyone else (I am loving Sacrifice by Humphries right now), it’s just that that team has been absolutely killing it on that comic. They’ve really taken advantage of the Ultimate Universe being its own thing separate from the regular MU…
Random Thought! DC has been slowly losing my interest lately. From creative team changes to cancellations, I’ve found myself less and less enthused. Men of War is basically done since Ivan Brandon has left, OMAC has two more issues, JH Williams III is off for this arc of Batwoman, Jeff Lemire is leaving Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, Justice League Dark‘s first arc was an argument for why that comic shouldn’t continue… The bloom is off the rose it seems…?
Random Thought! In the Avengers vs. X-Men preview book, all of the characters have assigned roles. I love that the Black Widow’s role is ‘rogue,’ while Rogue’s role is ‘multi-purpose.’
Random Thought! I got The Wall Experience Edition this week and really enjoy the bonus disc of demos. “Young Lust” underwent a pretty big change. So, I’ve now got the three Experience Editions they released and my favourite is probably the one for Wish You Were Here, if only because of the Waters/Gilmore vocal version of “Have a Cigar” and the demos of “Sheep” and “Dogs” that later turned up on Animals.
Random Thought! Whenever I listen to “Have a Cigar,” I think of Marvel for some reason…
Random Thought! Captain Marvel is now Shazam. That seems problematic. “Hey, what’s your name?” “Shazam!” *KA-BOOM!* “What the hell was that? Where did this kid come from? Where’s the big guy? I’m so confused.”
Random Thought! Image seems to be the ‘hot publisher’ right now and it’s hard to disagree given some of the great comics they’re putting out right now. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow King City collection, for example. My only issue is that it’s a publisher that seems to struggle with lateness more than most. Books will show up on initial shipping lists and then disappear for weeks… It’s hard to know when something will come out. Sure, Marvel and DC have issues with lateness, but, with Image, it’s more widespread (from the books I buy). I know, that goes to its publishing model and the creators themselves, but it can be frustrating — and could kill the enthusiasm and good will the publisher is currently building.
Random Thought! A big week of comics. I think I have 12 comics to buy and two trades. I didn’t pre-order the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Ultimate Collection, but, if my shop has a rack copy, I think I’ll buy it. I have the first Earth’s Mightiest Heroes mini, but never got the second one. I can’t remember why exactly either. The other trade is King City, while the singles are things like Fatale #3, the first issues of Hell Yeah and The Manhattan Projects, various DC books (since the first week of the month seems to be their big one), Defenders, a couple of X-books… a solid week.
Random Thought! Two reasons why I’m not the biggest fan of Marvel’s trade program: 1. The second Uncanny X-Force trade was a dollar more expensive than the latest Hellblazer trade… for three issues less. 2. Essential Black Panther vol. 1 stops two issues shy of collecting all of Jack Kirby’s run.
Random Thought! I have enjoyed the double-shipping Marvel has been doing. As I said when it was announced: it’s more comics that I enjoy.
Random Thought! The Unwritten has really found its groove over the past year. I’m especially enjoying the issue of ‘.5′ issues to expand upon the world and the past. I’m a little sad that those issues won’t continue after the current storyarc, because they have provided a great balance to the book. In the ‘whole number’ issues, Mike Carey can continue the regular plot, while the ‘half’ issues can go off on all sorts of different tangets.
Random Thought! Since the new year began, I haven’t been watching How I Met Your Mother. I just don’t care anymore. From what I can tell, I haven’t missed much. On the other hand, Happy Endings is a show that you should all be watching. It’s pretty awesome.
Random Thought! Top five quotes I wish I’d seen creators of Before Watchmen say when the news broke: “Fuck Alan Moore. He had his chance. It’s my time now! IT’S MY TIME, MOTHERFUCKERS!” “Yeah, I’m writing more Watchmen… so what?” “I’m not just pissing on the best comic book of all time… I’m getting PAID to piss on the best comic book of all time!” “Haven’t read it, not a fan.” “Alan Moore is buying me a house whether he likes it or not.”
Random Thought! I love Lemmy. On The World is Ours, a two CD/one DVD live album by Motörhead, he introduces one song like this: “This is a rock ‘n’ roll song. You like rock ‘n’ roll, don’t you?” *faint cheers from the crowd* “Say yes!” *bigger cheers* “Thank you!” The lesson: love what you love and don’t worry about looking cool while doing so.
Random Thought! Also, Motörhead should play Triple H down the ramp at WrestleMania again this year… AND THEY SHOULD DO IT ON TOP OF THE CELL.
Random Thought! I recently got Thor and X-Men: First Class for less than ten bucks each. I saw Thor in theatres, so I’m not in a big rush to rewatch it, and haven’t seen X-Men: First Class yet. All of you who praised it best not have been lying!
Random Thought! My old student paper editor Mark Polishuk is doing a Wire March Madness tournament that puts Grantland’s to shame. Go read his first round results.
Random Thought! At first, I was upset that only the first six seasons of King of the Hill are available on DVD. Then, I read the episodes that come after the sixth season and, well… it’s as good a place to end as any.
Random Thought! The more I think about it, the more the Ennis/Robertson Fury mini-series seems like the perfect Nick Fury movie. Fuck what George Clooney thinks.
Random Thought! I hope Marvel continues its practice of using coasters as promotional devices. If they do, I won’t need to buy any coasters for the rest of my life…
Random Thought! Aside from the final couple of pages Punishermax #22 was as close to a perfect send-off for Frank Castle as you’re likely to find. I own the entire series, but I think I may just buy a hardcover of the whole thing if Marvel releases one to go with my hardcovers of Ennis’s Punisher MAX… because it deserves to sit next to that run. (Also, Marvel, you got lucky with Jason Aaron managing to follow Ennis… don’t push that luck.)
Random Thought! This week is my final week of CBR reviews and I will be reviewing Hell Yeah #1 (which I’ve already read the PDF of), Uncanny X-Men #8, and The Boys #64. That last choice was purposeful. If you look back, you’ll see that the first review I did for the site was of The Boys #24. 40 issues later…
Random Joe Casey Question! What’s the hold-up with the finale of Gødland?
Random Joe Casey Answer! I’ll have to take the bullet on this one. As we zeroed in on the big finish, I became a little concerned about exactly how it was all going to wrap up. It wasn’t writer’s block, it was simply that the series thus far had been a real improvisational jam… which is great fun while you’re in the middle of it but doesn’t lend itself to crafting a solid, satisfying ending. I knew there was one buried in there somewhere, but I had to dig it out. So it took me awhile — and Scioli was a big help in this regard — to figure out exactly how everything would (and should) play out. Now that it’s all worked out, it’s full steam ahead. Scioli is currently drawing #36 and I’m writing the FINALE issue and between the two of them, this is going to be, as Howard Chaykin used to say, a “major league motherfucker” of a conclusion. With #36, which is titled, “GOTTERDAMMERAGNAHABHARATA”, we’re actually going to tie up all of the various plot threads that have been unraveling since the series began (a monumental feat in and of itself), and then with the FINALE, we’re throwing our cosmic hat into the ring of fire and attempting to, in our own small way, actually try to change the form. Or at least evolve it forward a little bit. Superhero comicbooks — the manner in which they deliver stories — have been so formulaic for so long, they’ve succumbed to either the perfectly balanced, three-act structure of movies (Zzzzzzzz…) or the endless middle act of dramatic television (Zzzzzzz…). It’s all so played out. I think it’s one of the reasons there’s such a sense of apathy in the air, when it comes to mainstream superhero readers. The structure of the GØDLAND FINALE is all about what Kubrick called “non-submersible units”, but even morphing that concept in a way that even Kubrick couldn’t have imagined (because he didn’t create comicbooks, natch). It’s really the pinnacle of everything I ever wanted this series to be, a significant step toward the New Narrative. And, as far as I know, both issues will be out in the stores this year.
No Random Comments! this week, but they will return next week. That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading. Later.
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