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CSBG Archive

House To Astonish Episode 83

We’re a day later than usual, but we’ve got loads of great chat to make it up to you with – this time round we’re talking about Chris Roberson leaving DC and the fallout from that, the return of Devil’s Due and lots and lots of film and TV chat as we look at the impending X-Men: First Class sequel, the Daredevil and Fantastic Four reboots and the potential New Mutants movie, the animated Flashpoint direct-to-DVD flick, Fox’s Axe Cop animated show and the Lobo film. We’ve also got reviews of Popeye, Captain America and Hawkeye and Reset, and the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe does the robot. All this plus Hank Pym’s secret vendetta, the Avengers Personality and Little Cabin In The Woods.

This time round, we’re also doing a little something different for the gang here at CSBG. There are a few things that Paul and I have discussed on the podcast that we’d like to get your thoughts on, so please chime in on the comments thread with our discussion topics:

  • What do you think has the better prospects of success – Image’s revival of the Extreme line, or the relaunched Valiant titles?
  • What has Jeph Loeb written in recent years that you’ve enjoyed – or is there anything you’ve found to be particularly bad?
  • Has Chris Roberson’s stance on DC’s treatment of creators made you more or less likely to check out his work in future?

The podcast is here, or here on Mixcloud

or use the player here:

It is also available on Stitcher.com or via their Android or iOS apps or through iTunes. Let us know what you think, in the comments thread, on Twitter (I’m @housetoastonish and Paul’s @ifdestroyed), via email or on our Facebook fan page.


Looking through Loeb’s bibliography, the last thing he did that I really liked was Dark Victory, and that was 12-13 years ago.

The Axe Cop TV series is only picked up for 6 15-minute episodes (like Adult Swim shows) so far, so they probably don’t need a big writing staff.

Haven’t listened to your podcast yet (though I do follow you guys regularly), but to answer your questions and get the discussion going;

1.) I haven’t followed either, so I don’t know of their actual chances, but my personal preference goes to the Valiant line. If only because they’re getting Joshua Dysart back and writing comics.

2.) For me Jeph Loeb has moved into the So Bad He’s Good category. The shallow characterization, childish taunts posing as witty banter, and contrived and unstable plots make any book he writers like the equivalent of Marvel hiring Malachi Nicole. I laughed really heard reading Ultimates 3 and Ultimatum, if only to avoid weeping at what became of the 21st century’s greatest superhero franchise.

3.) I already love iZombie, and while I respect what he’s saying, his comments haven’t changed my existing appreciation Roberson’s writing. For better or worse, a creator has to say something really radical for them to alter my opinion of their work; what I’m concerned with is the quality of their storytelling output.

Paul: that’s good to hear on the Axe Cop front – I think it could work like that, though they’re still presumably going to be trying to do a Malachi pastiche.

Neil: I’ve been swayed by more of the Extreme books myself (particularly Prophet and Glory), mainly because they’ve been taken a surprising approach to the subject matter of each of the titles. On the Valiant front, the one I’m really looking forward to is Archer & Armstrong, partly due to Van Lente’s writing and partly because it was always my favourite Valiant book back in the day.

Loeb’s not written anything that I’ve really enjoyed since Daredevil: Yellow, and hasn’t written anything that I’ve enjoyed at all since Spider-Man: Blue. He’s one of the few creators whose involvement will actively get me to not pick up a project (though his involvement in so many high-profile books that I need to read/review for the podcast means I can’t just stop reading his work, which would be the preferred option).

Man, I want to rush out and buy that Popeye comic for the cover alone. That’s fantastic.

1. I can’t comment on the Extreme and Valiant stuff, because I’ve never read any Valiant comic, and any Extreme titles I only know from the Alan Moore issues, and I’m not really interested in checking them out now. (Although I did pick up the Supreme issue with the “lost” Alan Moore story.

2. “In recent years” lets me out for Loeb, because the last thing he wrote that I liked was Challengers of the Unknown, and that was in 1991.

Although, wait, he did Superman/Batman, right? I enjoyed the couple of issues that had Chibi versions of the JLA. Annnnnd, I just liked it up, and those were long after he stopped writing it. So OK, never mind. The Challs it is.

I always disliked the Long Halloween, and I know that’s remembered as his “good” phase. I couldn’t stand his Hulk run, but it’s hard to top his Ultimates stuff for sheer ridiculousness.

3. More likely, definitely. Especially because I already really liked iZombie.

@buttler: totally get that Popeye issue. It’s awesome!

And asking about Jeph Loeb’s good comics is asking for T to come by and have fun. Please, T, come on!

Man, I made a lot of typos in that comment. That’ll teach me to post while my attention’s elsewhere.

1. For me, Valiant has the pedigree but the Extreme revamps/reboots have been quite intruiging.
2. I didn’t mind some of the Superman/Batman stories, even though some characterisations were off kilter. I really liked Toyman.
3. I doesn’t really matter for me – if what he writes is good, I’ll read it.

Ugh. Since you asked…

Jeph Loeb is horrible. I thought nothing could be worse than his Ultimates work, but the new Spider-Man cartoon might be the worst show I’ve ever seen, and that includes reality TV.

Everything he touches turns to garbage. Even that short Nova story he did in the Point One issue made me want to burn the whole book. “Epic fail”? That’s what heroes say when a whole planet dies? Jesus Christ, he makes Bendis look like David Simon.

And has anyone explained where Ross’s mustache goes when he turns into Red Hulk?


I haven’t been that interested either in Extreme or Valiant coming back (although I do plan to check out at least Archer & Armstrong), but I feel like Valiant definitely has the better stable of characters, by far. I mean, by a landslide. Extreme is just analogues of old characters. So Valiant definitely has far more potential. On the other hand, they’re not bringing back their coolest creation – Quantum & Woody – so I’m less excited than I might be. And I don’t like that their announcements have focused on the titles/characters without telling us who the creators involved are going to be.


I haven’t seen Jeph Loeb write anything decent in years and years. He’s capable of it. He was never a favorite of mine but he used to tell a good story. I think the last six years though, it’s been nothing but crap.


I don’t know that his stand has influenced me ’cause I’m always inclined to check out a Chris Roberson book, but I was impressed that he came out so publicly against “Before Watchmen” (without the kind of anti-social tirade Alan Moore gave us). He’s got integrity.

What do you think has the better prospects of success – Image’s revival of the Extreme line, or the relaunched Valiant titles?
The Extreme books appear to be going for something very different to what’s previously emerged from Liefeld’s studio, and the buzz on Prophet and Glory has been very positive. Apart from the massive banner on this very website right now, I wasn’t really aware that there was a new Valiant line in the works.

What has Jeph Loeb written in recent years that you’ve enjoyed – or is there anything you’ve found to be particularly bad?
Enjoyed? Not much. I tend to follow artists so picked up some of his Hulk issues (Adams/Cho) and they were light and fun. I bought Ultimates3 for Joe Mad’s art and feel I got what I wanted from it (despite the poor plot and script). I’d probably buy the “Cap: White” mini if it ever emerged.

Has Chris Roberson’s stance on DC’s treatment of creators made you more or less likely to check out his work in future?
No change – I’m not familiar with his work bar the first issue of iZombie (didn’t grab me), but I respect his position on DC’s practices.

to be fair, the blame for the new Spider-Man cartoon can be spread throughout various parries on the writing and production staff..

1. I think the IMAGE revival has a better shot because the Valiant stuff already had a shot at a revival and failed. And in today’s market? A tough battle. That said, Van Lente on A&A is inspired.

2. I’ve always believed Jeph Loeb was vastly overrated. His stories are riddled with plot holes and utter nonsense. I did shockingly enjoy his BUFFY issue based on the “animated series”– an enjoyable done-in-one. I think that’s the only story of his I’ve read that I can say I enjoyed.

And his recent track record… good God, it’s a wonder he gets ANY work at all. And that ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN show is horrifically bad.

3. Roberson’s recent stance makes me respect him more. Whether you agree or not, you have to respect a guy taking a stand and doing so without wholesale-bashing. Very articulate and honest, and it makes me more apt to check out his work.

Oh, and, also… LOVE the show, Al. Best podcast in the biz. Fantastic analysis… and the combo of Paul’s dry wit with your rascally sense of humor is pure gold.

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