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House to Astonish Episode 84

Paul and I have got a tight little episode for you this time out, with discussion of the sad passing of Tony DeZuniga, the unbelievable box office of The Avengers, Marvel’s digital exclusive deal with Comixology, Cullen Bunn taking on the writing of Venom and DC’s upcoming Phantom Lady  mini, as well as an extended chat about the value of new characters, reviews of Dial H, Mind the Gap and Trio and a grave undertaking from the Official Handbook of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. All this plus America’s own private Easter, Marvel’s relationship status and ’90s technobabble.

Our points of discussion from last episode got some good responses, so we’re doing it again this time round. This time, we’re looking to hear what you think about these topics:

  • How important do you think it is for Marvel and DC to generate new characters? Is it the lifeblood of a company in a creative industry, or is revamping existing properties enough?
  • Is there a place in the market for a series like Trio that’s unashamedly old-school, or has that type of series had its day?
  • What can the comics industry do to look after the generation who went before? Should a company like DC be helping out a creator like Tony DeZuniga when he struggles to pay medical bills, or should that be left to organisations like the Hero Initiative?

The podcast is here, on Mixcloud here, available through iTunes or via Stitcher Radio (via their website or their Android or iOS apps).

Or you can listen to it right here via the player below!

Let us know what you think, in the comments, on Twitter (I’m @housetoastonish and Paul’s @ifdestroyed), via email on housetoastonish@gmail.com or on our Facebook fan page.

6 Comments

First time listening to the podcast as I wanted to hear your thoughts on John Byrne’s Trio. I want to say number one, really enjoyed the show and I’ll be back for sure for more.

I was really looking forward to Trio as I’ve not been a fan of John’s recent work like Cold War or Next Men. John Byrne drawing superheroes, as a fan of his X-Men run how could I not be a little excited?

Well I’m afraid you enjoyed the issue much more than I did. Unfortunately having read John provide too many “lessons” over the years on his website made reading the issue not that fun for me. It was good, better than he’s done in a while but I’m not sticking around for issue 2. When it eventually gets collected I’ll likely buy the tpb as it will be cheaper and maybe read better but I’m out for now.

Like before, answering these right before I start listening to your podcast;

1.) It’s likely not going to happen, because everyone who can keep the rights to their original characters will do so. The most original characters we’re going to get out of Marvel and DC are fanfic-style OC spin-offs, such as Daken, Red Hulk, and the Sentry (the latter being a riff on the Distinguished Competition’s icon, but still in that limited breeding pool).

2.) There’s a place for it, as there should be. There should be a place for all types of comics. That doesn’t mean I’m going anywhere near that particular place, though.

3.) Legally, they have no responsibility. Ethically is a different story. I remembered this eulogy by Matt Seneca for Gene Colan…

http://deathtotheuniverse.blogspot.com/2011/07/wake-up.html

I really hope that the industry can provide its veterans with more than page rates. The Hero Initiative and similar groups do a valuable, laudable service, but if a large company can afford to help out an ailing old veteran who helped build them up, they should. (And I’m sure that they can afford to).

Also, as for your last podcast on Captain America and Hawkeye; you guys raised an interesting point about how an out-of-character portrayal can become that character’s defining trait through inertia. You mentioned Hawkeye’s immaturity around Cap and Cyclops’ nutty extremism as recent examples, as well as Wolverine’s maturation as a historical example. I’d also like to add Emma Frost to that list, who has retroactively been turned from an out-and-out villain to a repentant declawed heroine to a mix of both (re: total bitch with good intentions). We can thank Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison for that, but that Emma caught on because she entertained so many people and offered a more complex character than superhero teams usually see.

Travis Pelkie

May 12, 2012 at 9:06 pm

I gotta say that I liked Trio, and I think there should be old school comics around. If it had been available at the one store I was at, I would have pointed it out to the dad who was looking for comics for his 13 year old son. I did direct them to Hulk Smash Avengers 1, as I dug that one. But I was a bit bewildered that I couldn’t readily pick out a couple good “jumping on” comics that were appropriate for a 13 year old.

Actually, Trio had that (off panel) taking out of the boat guys, so maybe…

And too, I remembered that I was 13 when the Vertigo Preview book came out, and that was maybe not something age appropriate, but I think I’m ok.

As to the new characters issue, creators have a dilemma in that if they create new characters for the big 2, they won’t necessarily reap all the benefits from them (financially) that they might if they go creator owned, but if they work on WFH stuff, they’re benefiting from someone else’s creations.

However, I’d also argue that any revamp of a company character is in essence the creation of a new character. That new Dial H might reveal ties to previous iterations of the concept, but the main character is new and different. The new National Comics stuff coming out, like the version of Kid Eternity, that’s totally new and different. The new Phantom Lady might have the name, but with a completely different costume, how is it the same character?

sandwich eater

May 13, 2012 at 1:11 am

Sorry, I didn’t listen to the podcast, but I wanted to weigh in on the creation of new characters. If I was a comic book creator with a good idea for a character, I’d save it for a creator owned book to maintain ownership. I suspect that any new big 2 characters would be created by the editors and given to a creative team. I don’t think many people buy big 2 books for new characters, they buy them for the classic characters that they already love. The way I see it you only need new villains and supporting characters to keep the books fresh, I don’t see any need for new big 2 heroes especially since there are so many existing ones.

listened to the podcast now; interesting discussion about the fact that there’s no optimal starting place for the Avengers. But Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man have clear jumping-on points with the collections by Brubaker, JMS, and Fraction respectively. As for the Hulk… not so sure, since as you mention, the comic character is in a state of constant flux, and unless you count his appearances in the Red Hulk series, the Savage Green Hulk has been a bit of a no-show.

And yes, Avengers Assemble is hardly a good place to start. Marvel’s usually been good about putting forth top-tier material to coincide with movie releases (Fraction/Larroca Iron Man, Fraction/Coipel Thor, Brubaker/McNiven Iron Man, Aaron/Garney Wolverine: Weapon X), but this? it’s not exactly bad, but there isn’t any unique hook that goes beyond what’s seen in the movies.

I loved Trio, the throwback element to it makes it one of the most enjoyable comics I’ve read in a while. No stupid angst, no crossover, no questionable motives by the heroes…I think that the “throwback” style makes it an extremely unique comic in today’s market. The hipsters probably won’t like it but you can let a kid read it and enjoy it.

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