The collected editions we read for the podcast. Follow the link and purchase it and help the show at no extra cost to you. Good deal all the way around.
Let’s get this out of the way right at the top…Man-Bat is ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. The basic idea was to take the name Bat-Man, a man who dresses like a bat and reverse it to Man-Bat, a bat who dresses like a man. That is – as I said – ridiculous. But Man-Bat is one of those Silver/Bronze Age concepts that are so in your face silly it goes full circle and over time has become borderline sublime.
In the hands of good writers and realized on the page with a unique (and at times horrifying) design, Man-Bat has become one of the caped crusader’s more interesting villains. He’s been given a detailed back story, familial and romantic relationships, as well as a mentor-ish relationship with Batman, and has generally become a well-rounded and sympathetic character. Albeit one that looks like a bat wearing pants.
In the new 5-issue min-series from writer Dave Wielgosz and artist Sumit Kumar, we find Kirk Langstrom (Man-Bat’s alter ego) hitting rock bottom. His wife finds that he’s been secretly using the serum that turns him into Man-Bat and after confronting him about it, she leaves. This sets Kirk off on a mission of redemption, he will attempt to be a hero and show her what kind of a man he is. This goes horribly wrong.
Batman intervenes, attempting to reason with Kirk telling him that the serum is making him more and more feral with every use and that at some point he won’t be able to change back, he’d be too far gone to be saved.
Kirk cannot be reasoned with, however, and so is taken into custody (for his own good) but dramatically escapes in a closing cliffhanger.
As a first issue Man-Bat #1 admirably gets right to the point. There is no extended setup and introduction, rather it quickly explains the premise and goes straight for the action. And the action is pretty dramatic as only a leathery winged rodent-human hybrid in torn jeans can provide.
The obvious takeaway here is the metaphor of drug abuse and addiction. Langstrom’s use of the serum and the way it affects him are blatant in its symbolism but never going too far, walking the fine line that keeps the theme poignant without becoming a parody.
And there are some nice details with Batman serving as a kind of sponsor and initiating a sort of intervention. As well as Francine (Langstrom’s wife) telling him as she leaves that she’s been moving her things out for weeks without him even noticing, showing just how far gone Langstrom is by the time the series starts.
And while I won’t go so far as to say this is groundbreaking in any way, the story is told well and the art is engaging that it goes beyond its inherently silly premise and tells a story that has the potential to be a compelling tale of personal trauma and weakness. It remains to be seen if this will turn out to be a redemption story or a tragedy.
That alone is enough for me to come back for issue 2.
written by DAVE WIELGOSZ
art by SUMIT KUMAR
cover by KYLE HOTZ
variant cover by KEVIN NOWLAN
The Vision and Wanda Maximov (the Scarlet Witch) are two of the most intriguing characters in the Marvel Universe. They are fan favorites – they have unique designs and compelling personalities, rich inner lives, and dynamic power-sets. And their presence always brought something different and interesting to the stories they were involved in.
However, they are also two of the hardest characters to pin down as far as what their powers are exactly and how they heck did they come into being in the first place. Both characters possess fluid backstories that both compliment and contradict each other at the same time. To complicate matters further, someone decided they should be put together romantically. Now, this was either one of the most creative decisions in comic book history or a bat-shit insane idea that only caused massive problems and continuity errors for years and years to come.
Well, In 1985 the 12-issue limited series “The Vision and The Scarlet Witch” attempted to reconcile all the disparate backstories and origins while at the same time pushing their romantic relationship to a new level. Notice I say “attempted”.
Written by Steve Englehart with art by Richard Howell the series sees the titular characters resign from the Avengers to settle down and have a normal domestic life in New Jersey. Well, as normal as a synthoid man and a mutant witch can hope to achieve that is.
Because not long after starting their new life together the couple are beset on all sides by such threats as diverse as a wielder of hate, a voodoo master, zombies, an evil cabal of renegade witches, and – probably most horrible of all – Thanksgiving with the family!
From the suburbs of New Jersey to the habitable region of the Moon – Vision and The Scarlet Witch must deal with supervillains, magic, insufferable siblings, a mutant incel, nosey neighbors, and adultery.
And along the way, Wanda finds she has somehow become pregnant; a situation that will in no way cause any problems or have any ramifications in the future.
This series is essentially a soap opera, with all the stereotypical plotlines and situations you’d expect from a soap opera, albeit with supernatural and fantastic elements overlaid upon it. It is an 80s comic written with 70s sensibilities – that is to say, it can be problematic at times – but if you’re willing to put that aspect aside “The Vision and The Scarlet Witch” is a fun romp that borders on the ridiculous but also had surprising consequences for the Marvel universe still being felt today.
“…a fun romp that borders on the ridiculous but also had surprising consequences for the Marvel universe still being felt today”
Today on the program we discuss the 1985 12-issue mini-series The Vision and the Scarlet Witch. Written by Steve Englehart with art by Richard Howell the series sees the titular characters resign from the Avengers to settle down and have a normal domestic life in New Jersey. Well, as normal as a synthoid man and a mutant witch can hope to achieve that is. This is the one where Wanda becomes pregnant…somehow. Magic we assume. This is a situation that will in no way cause any problems or have any ramifications on the Marvel universe in the future. Anyway, this is a very 80s comic with 80s sensibilities, so we have fun with that.
Also, we talk about the first two episodes of the WandaVision series on DisneyPlus. Spoilers: we think it’s pretty good.
“He opens up a brand new world of possibility,
juxtaposing his own creations within a larger context…”
Today on the program we discuss the 1989/1990 four-issue mini-series, The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman with art by John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, and Paul Johnson. This is a project that started as simply a travelogue of magical characters throughout the DC universe, nothing more, nothing less. But Neil Gaiman took that assignment and, in typical Gaiman style, put his own spin on things transforming what was essentially a way to keep IPs from going out of copyright into a little mini-masterpiece.
He introduces Timothy Hunter, a tweleve-year-old boy that in no way resembles Harry Potter, as he takes a Dantesque journey through the past, the present, the other, and the future to explore the magical world and find his place within it. With all his usual flair and poetic storytelling, aided by the unique and beautiful art styles of his collaborators, Gaiman weaves a wonderous and frightening tale that rises far, far above the assignment given to him.
We have a lot to say about this one.
No opening discussion this time because the main topic runs long. But this will be released as a bonus episode at a later date.
Alien is a 1979 sci-fi horror film directed by Ridley Scott. It is – on the surface – a basic, by-the-numbers, base under siege, monster movie – with one major exception – the HR Giger designed double-mouthed, psychosexual, phallic nightmare that would eventually be called the Xenomorph.
The Xenomorph epitomized the idea of “alien.” It was unlike any monster depicted on screen before – slick and greasy, animalistic but intelligent, and just off-putting in a way that you couldn’t quite explain.
The Xenomorph immediately fascinated audiences – its look, the way it moved, even its reproductive cycle – these became the subject of speculation spawning sequel movies, novels, and of course comics.
These stories attempted to explain – not always consistently – the monster’s origins, its life cycle, and the way the creature was used to nefarious ends. And the Alien mythology evolved into a sprawling epic encompassing multiple worlds, multi-galactic corporations, and thousands of years. And yet in the midst of all this grand storytelling and universe-shaking events, small intimate stories could still be told…
Alien: Salvation is a 1993 graphic novel from Dark Horse written by Dave Gibbons with art by Mike Mignola.
It follows the story of Selkirk, a deeply devout crewmember on the cargo ship Nova Maru, as he narrates (unreliably) the aftermath of a Xenomorph infestation.
After crash landing on an unknown planet Selkirk and fellow survivors must make their way across an unforgiving landscape; to find a way to communicate a distress signal and call for rescue. All the while they are meticulously hunted by the vicious aliens. And along the way, there is madness, death, betrayal, even a little cannibalism.
Through it all Selkirk struggles to stay true to his fundamentalist convictions, to find meaning in the horror around him – and to rationalize his own failings as he himself commits acts of violence and betrayal. He attempts to excuse his actions to God while at the same time asks forgiveness – in doing so the narration is formed not simply as a recounting of events but as a kind of confession and at times almost as a form of prayer.
In the long, long history of the Alien franchise, Salvation is lauded as not only one of the great comics but as one of the great stories. One that is able to convey the innate horror of the Xenomorph and the political machinations behind the scenes, while at the same time telling a personal character, driven tale. An early entry in the Alien mythos, Alien: Salvation is still one of the best.
“The narration is formed not simply as a recounting of events but as a kind of confession and at times almost as a form of prayer.”
Today on the program we discuss the 1993 on-shot Aliens: Salvation by Dave Gibbons with art by Mike Mignola. In the long, long history of the Alien franchise, Salvation is lauded as not only one of the great comics but as one of the great stories. One that is able to convey the innate horror of the Xenomorph and the political machinations behind the scenes, while at the same time telling a personal character, driven tale. Horror and faith collide in this classic story with an ambiguous lead character and fantastic art. Also, Brian and Paul get a little deep trying to figure out what a grey area is.
In addition, we chat about DC’s Future State, what’s happening in Daredevil, and legacy characters in general. Do we ramble a bit? Of course we do.
“Hate stands as a very singular piece of independent work. That is both deeply personal and excessively caricatured. ”
Today on the program we discuss Hate.Peter Bagge’s early 90s independent comic featuring the trial and tribulations of Buddy Bradly. Please note: the themes and content of this comic are for mature audiences. While we are going to attempt to keep it clean there are subjects and situations that might not be suitable for all audiences. So fair warning to all – it might get rough.
This is an unflinching look at GenX life pre-grunge and starring people that you probably don’t want to know. Still, it is an important and influential comic that has the power to make you laugh and repel you at the same time. A fine line to walk for sure.
Also, talk about the second wave of firings at DC that has caused some to speculate on the direction of the company. And so, not to be left out, we speculate as well.
“…a noir style murder mystery.
It tells an epic story on a street-level scale ”
A special Halloween edition!
Today on the program Batman: The Long Halloween – the classic story written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale.
There have been many iconic and influential stories in the history of Batman. It seems that every decade we get a new definitive take on the Dark Knight. And in the 1990s that definitive take was The Long Halloween.
The Long Halloween is a 13 issue limited series published between 1996 and 1997. It follows close on the heels of Batman: Year One and is set in the early career of the Caped Crusader as he attempts to track down a serial killer called simply “Holiday” who kills once a month and only on a holiday.
This is a classic and influential story that was acclaimed upon its release and continues to influence the Batman mythos right up until today. But that doesn’t stop Brian and Paul from having a few critical things to say about it, while at the same time acknowledging why it’s great.
Also, we we give our recommendations for horror comics you should be reading, including: Hellblazer, EC Comics (in general), Horror Manga (in general) Junji Ito and Hideshi Hino (specifically), Red Mother, Something Is Killing the Children, and Gideon Falls.
“New life breathed into old clay.
Wonder Woman was wonderful again.”
Today on the program we will be discussing the 2008 four issue Wonder Woman arc – The Circle. Written by Gail Simone with art by Terry and Rachel Dodson.
In 2008, coming off her acclaimed run on Birds of Prey, Gail Simone was given the chance to write for Wonder Woman – a character she admitted she had a great admiration and affection for and a desire to do right by. The result was The Circle. The opening arc in what would be a fantastic run and a modernization of a classic character.
With The Circle Wonder Woman saw a new beginning, while at the same time embracing and re-imagining the past. Combined with the stunning art of Terry and Rachel Dodson, Gail Simone created the template for Wonder Woman that all creators who would come after would follow.
Also, we ramble quite a bit about movies and the lack there of.
Archie Comics is a mainstay of the comic book industry. It’s been plugging away for decades telling simple stories of the joys of youth and the teenage experience through a colorful cast of characters that have become infused into the cultural landscape.
Created in 1941 By John Goldwater, writer Vic Bloom, and artist Bob Montana as an alternative to the superhero story, they decided to base a comic on the character Andy Hardy from the young adult films that were immensely popular at the time. The comic focuses on the misadventures of one Archibald Andrews – a red-headed everyman teenager type. Immediately Archie struck a chord with readers and became an instant hit. So much so the name of the company MLJ Publishing was changed to simply Archie Comics in 1946, just five years after he first appeared.
Along the way Archie was joined by a roster of stalwart companions: Jughead Jones – Archie’s girl hating, food-loving, crown-wearing best friend, Reggie Mantle – Archie’s the devious nemesis, and Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper – Archie’s infamous love interests and two women who couldn’t pass the Bechtel test to save their lives. And many, many more of course, from other teenagers to parental figures, to faculty at the local high school – all of whom serve as instigators and foils for the wacky high-jinx that occurs.
Archie is set in the fictional town of Riverdale that exists in a nebulous region of the United States that at times seems to be in the Mid-West but often is on the coast, it could possibly be in the South but is also very Northern – Riverdale is Americana exemplified and could be considered a character in its own right – it is the backdrop of the wholesome shenanigans that Archie and his gang get up to.
And those shenanigans change depending on the era that they are taking place in. Archie has a chameleon-like ability to adapt to the period it appears – seeming both of its time and a relic of the past simultaneously. This has allowed it to endure right up to the present day and garner praise and a loyal fan-base comprised of multiple generations. It has grown and spun-off into dozens of titles, newspaper strips, TV shows, movies, cartoons, and even a top 40 hit. Archie comics have done something quite remarkable for a young adult comic – it stayed relevant.
The stories we will be discussing today are from the Silver Age – and they are a travelogue of the fads and fashions of that time – from the swinging mods and rockers of the 60s to the groovy hippies and disco dancers of the 70s. And it tackles hard-hitting topics like: how to be a beatnik, the proper way to protest, and probably most important of all – what’s the deal with hot pants?
Archie Comics tells their stories in short narratives using sight gags, puns, one-liners and always culminate in vaudevillian punchlines – usually with a nod and wink at the reader. These are not – sophisticated – tales. But they’re not meant to be. They are not striving for any deeper meaning other than “kids be kids” and “parents don’t get it, am I right?” These stories are meant to appeal to younger readers at the moment; there is no far-sighted speculation on what the future will hold – no, it simply takes whatever is drifting through the pop culture zeitgeist at the time and crafts an easily digestible snack to chew on a sunny afternoon in a non-descript, non-threatening way.
Reading Archie comics is like sifting through a time capsule of ancient relics – pop-cultural artifacts of slang and music, fashion trends, social movements and causes, even politics – albeit on a very surface level.
And that may be the secret of Archie’s success. Archie comics never shied away from any topic – be it social, political, or even supernatural. And yes, all of these topics are treated with a certain innocence – even naivety – but they were always sincere and wholeheartedly earnest.
And that innocence is charming. That earnestness is refreshing. And even if the topics aren’t as topical and the punchlines don’t pack the same punch, Archie’s spirit remains simple and sincere. And that’s just kinda nice.
“Archie’s spirit is remains simple and sincere.
And that’s just kinda nice.”
Archie Comics is a mainstay of the comic book industry. It’s been plugging away for decades telling simple stories of the joys of youth and the teenage experience through a colorful cast of characters that have become infused into the cultural landscape.
The stories we will be discussing today are from the Silver Age – and they are a travelogue of the fads and fashions of that time – from the swinging mods and rockers of the 60s to the groovy hippies and disco dancers of the 70s. And it tackles hard hitting topics like: how to be a beatnik, the proper way to protest, and probably most important of all – what’s the deal with hot pants?
Also, we talk about Mark Waid returning to DC Comics and speculate on what Brian Michael Bendis will be doing in the future. And we find out Brian does not like Hamilton – which is just wrong.
“The ethereal vs the gritty…
the common vs the fantastic.”
On this episode we discuss the first volume of Kurt Busiek‘s magnum opus – Astro City: Life in the Big City. In these six issues we get to know the titular city, it’s super powered inhabitants, and the regular folk who have to deal with the day-to-day life of living with super villain shenanigans. With beautiful art by Brent Anderson and covers by the great Alex Ross, we are invited to get to know the people and the places that make up the bright, hopeful world of Astro City.
Also, we talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of recent DC Comics news. From the firings to the anticipation of DC Fandome (this was recorded just before it started).
So join us for a rollicking conversation about a great, great comic.
Hello everyone and welcome to the Collected Edition. This is just a quick news episode to give everyone an update on what has been happening with the show. We haven’t released episodes in a while and that is going to change real soon – next week in fact. But in the meantime we put together a couple quick outtakes from previous episodes that got cut for time and just didn’t fit into the flow of the episode.
The first is out thoughts on the passing of Fred Willard that happened a couple hours before we started recording and the second is our thoughts – well Brian’s actually – on the firing of Dan Didio earlier in the year.
Also, we still want you recommendations for episodes!! So if you’d like Brian and I to talk about a particular series of character let us know and we will attempt to sound interesting as we discuss it. Let us know on Titter: @CollectedEdPod
Thanks everyone for your patience and we’ll be back next week with Astro City volume 1: Life in the Big City.
Today on the program we’re going to do a quick, short episode to talk about a sad topic – and that is the recent death of comic book icon – Denny O’Neil.
Denny O’Neil passed away recently at the age of 81. His contributions to comics are immense – and that is not an understatement. Denny O’Neil started writing for comics in the 1960s and continued working for Marvel and DC among others on through the 1990s and eventually became an editor on till his retirement. Known for his impressive and innovative run on Batman, the iconic storylines in Green lantern/Green Arrow, and so much more – not to mention the name Optimus Prime – Denny O’Neil was one of the most innovative and important writers in the history of comics, and was one of the architects of how the industry progressed and developed and matured. His voice will be missed.
On this short episodes Brian and Paul share their memories and thoughts on this giant of the comics industry.
Today on the program will be a short bonus episode to discuss some breaking news: DC has announced that it will be cutting ties with Diamond Distributors.
In a statement from DC”:
“After 25 years DC and Diamond Comic Distributors and are ending their long-standing relationship. Moving forward, comic book retailers can obtain their DC books from Penguin Random House, or their books and periodicals through Lunar or UCS comic book distributors.”
This is a incredibly complex and nuanced subject and Brian and I attempt to get to the bottom of it with a) very little information and b) a reluctance to actually take a side. So you know, a typical conversation for us.
This will be the first of several Bonus episodes to help bridge the gap between main episodes. Due to events happening in the world Brian and I have had our schedules shaken up a bit and because of that our free time does not quite sync up the way it used to and that has led to long gaps between episodes. We are very aware of this so in order to fill in those gaps we decided to do shorter bonus content like this just so there is some kind of content coming out – and not to mention we just like to chat from time to time. And I hope this is somewhat entertaining.
Hello everyone and welcome to the collected edition – a comic book podcast where we discuss the famous and infamous runs and story arcs throughout the history of comics.
Today on the program: Squadron Supreme, the 1985 12-issue limited series by Mark Grunewald, with art by Bob Hall and Paul Ryan.
The Squadron Supreme is of course the group of characters created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema as a pastiche of the Justice League. But in this ground breaking series Grunewald – aided by the art of Bob Hall and Paul Ryan – began the exploration into the implications of how super heroes could affect personal freedom and free will a full year before such titles as Dark Knight Returns and Watchman would put a gritty spin on these ideas. And you can bet a young Mark Waid was already taking notes.
Also on the program Paul and Brian discuss some of the back tiles they’ve been reading during lockdown.
So join us as we discuss the Justice League homage that is the Squadron Supreme.
Today on the program we will be discussing Doom Patrol: The Painting That Ate Paris written by Grant Morrison with art by Richard Case. This is our second listener request, this one was requested by Herman Louw of the Into the Weird and Longbox of Darkness podcasts – go listen to them they are wonderful. It’s been a while since the request was made so I hope this lives up to expectations.
This is the second volume in the acclaimed and influential and bonkers run of grant Morrison and we will be getting into all kinds of subjects like literary references, art theory, and philosophy. All the while gushing over the psychedelic fever dream of absurdity that is Doom Patrol.
Also, we discuss the possible ramifications to the comic book world in the wake of the lockdowns as well as the recent news BOOM! has signed a deal with Netflix. And a cat gets involved at some point.
So join us as we discuss the glorious insanity that is the mind of Grant Morrison!
Today on the program we will be discussing the Avengers classic and highly influential epic space adventure The Kree Skrull War. This is 70s comics at its crazy, goofy best. Plus there’s a smattering of political and social commentary for good measure. Written by written by Roy Thomas, with art by Sal and John Buscema along with Neal Adams (how’s that for a creative team?) the story was originally published in Marvel Comics comics and includes Avengers issues #89 thru 97. Just so much to talk about from androids in love, to cows secretly being aliens, a thinly veiled McCarthy stand-in, mandroids, and so much more!
Also, Brian is going through the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time (how did it take him so long to get around to these movies? Its a mystery) so we discuss his progress so far and initial thoughts.
So join us for a rambling discussion of wonderful 70s comics weirdness!
Today on the program we will be discussing Doctor Aphra Volume one – by Kieron Gillen with art by Kev Walker.
Dr. Aphra was the breakout character from the original Darth Vader run and became so popular a spinoff series was created. Doctor Aphra is an archeologist/adventurer – much like Indiana Jones, if Indiana Jones was morally fluid and ethically challenged – and is one of the most interesting and dynamic characters to come out of the new Disney/Marvel era of Star Wars. Plus she travels with murder droids and a Wookie bounty hunter so wacky highjinx will always occur.
In addition, since this is a Star Wars centric episode, Brian and Paul also discuss the most recent entries into the Star Wars cinematic/televisual worlds – The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian. Not exactly timely but what are you gonna do?
So join us for a rousing discussion of all things Star Wars!
And this week we are discussing King Arthur…in spaaaaaaaace!
That’s right we’ll be tailing about the first maxi series Camelot 3000 from DC Comics written by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland. This is a highly influential comic that paved the way for things like Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns and many others. It also deals with several controversial topics like sex and gender and race. Does it still stand up almost 40 years later? Well…I guess you’ll just have to listen.
Also, Brian and Paul give their top five picks for best/favorite comics of the year (2019 that is).
NOTE: This episode was recorded quite a while ago and was meant to be the end of year/holiday episode but do to illness things got delayed. But now all is well! And new episodes will start arriving next week.
So join us for a rousing discussion of knights in space! You’ll be glad you did.