Pick of the Week Podcast

Pick of the Week #774 – Beta Ray Bill #1

Show Notes

Let’s hear it for a convergence in Picks, and a celebration of another comic creator with three names, the last being Johnson. It’s an unanimous week, and sometimes fate gives you a comic book that is perfect for it. Praise Bill.

Running Time: 01:08:35

Pick of the Week:
00:01:24 – Beta Ray Bill #1

00:13:26 – The Flash #768
00:19:01 – The Other History of the DC Universe, Book Three
00:23 :27 – The Union #4
00:30:25 – Strange Adventures #9
00:35:36 – Silk #1
00:38:20 – Shadecraft #1

Patron Pick:
00:41:12 – Beta Ray Bill #1

Patron Thanks:
00:43:32 – Lars Pedersen
00:45:18 – Kevin Krull
00:46:03 – Mason Kerr
00:47:28 – Charlie Oliver

Audience Questions:
00:52:06 – Matthew P. is wondering about the ebbs and flows and ups and downs of comic book quality.

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“Sick of Myself”
Matthew Sweet


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  1. My sack has shrunk too. I wondered if Matthew P was referring to individual runs on books rather than the comic industry at large. In other words, Saga 1-10 were good, but you hit 11, 12, and 13 and they were pretty boring, and don’t live up to the first ten. Just now I wondered what is the longest run of good consecutive books by a team (artist & writer) might be? I might have to go with Miller’s run on Daredevil, Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing, or Byrne/Claremont on X-Men.

    • “My sack has shrunk too.” You might need to get that checked.

    • Don’t fret, this is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the colder months. Once it gets warmer, “The Big Two” will start to expand a bit.

      Traditionally Marvel and DC publish more titles in the summer. So my comments are in reference to comics. And nothing else.

  2. Skeet- Skeet-Skeetz!

    I think Conor is exactly right about one of the major causes of the industry ‘ennui’
    Lack of direction from the top.
    Lee- Kirby- Schwarts-Quesada- Johns- even Beevort.
    With ought a talented and artistic strong editor cohesiveness flounders.
    Top down inpsiration is often key to a big two’s success in a run.
    Maybe you get one or two standout books on individual talent alone but the big two are largely a universe wide effort.
    When it works that ‘synergy’ makes the whole and it’s parts better.
    We’ve been in an era now that maybe over celebrates the writer. Yes the writer is important and deserves to tell their story the way they need to but, over powering them leads to fracture.
    Most writers given the chance are going to want to make Their Mark on the character, they just can’t help it.
    The job at the big two is to innovate from within and most writer’s egos want to recreate in their image.
    Hickman with Secret Wars- Gillen with Iron man- Bendis with Superman and what unspeakable things Tom King did to Batman and The Flash.
    This kind of work disables the meshed gears of the machine.
    It’s awesome when a creator can add to the mythos- flesh out the character in a meaningful way.
    It’s hubris and dangerous when they try to take the whole car apart in their drive way and rebuild from scratch thinking they are going to build it better than the engineers who made it.
    And inevitably add neon ground efffetcs and a louder muffler.

    • Hickman with Secret Wars is an odd choice out of the ones you listed. Secret Wars was great and had an ending that tied info the beginning of Hickman’s New Avengers run. Other than bringing Miles’ mom back where he would have collaborated with Bendis and giving Reed, Sue, and the kids a vacation which wasn’t fully his decision either, it’s not like he tried to rebuild everything there. He just tied it into his great Fantastic Four run and made it ultimately a Reed vs Doom story. Marvel was the one that wanted the Fantastic Four comic cancelled. What he has done with X-Men makes more sense if you are going to choose Hickman. Even picking the Infinity event makes more sense than picking Secret Wars.

      Tom King was told to use Wally, Harley Quinn, and Booster Gold by editors for the horrible Heroes in Crisis. That wasn’t his decision, but the execution was incredibly poor. His Batman run overall wasn’t good, but he didn’t want to kill off Alfred since it was supposed to be a Scarecrow toxin induced fake out. He was also told to make Thomas Wayne the big bad at the end when it was supposed to be Bane. Thomas Wayne would be Vader to Bane as the Emperor. Then Nightwing was supposed to be fully recovered in one issue with Zatanna helping, but editorial wouldn’t allow it. He gave them the idea to have Tim replace Dick as Nightwing for just 5 to 6 issues instead if they wanted it to last longer and was shot down. He never want rev Ric to be a thing. It caused Ben Percy to quit writing Nightwing and Lobdell wanted Ric to last as long as possible.

      Editorial at very specific points got involved in King’s Batman run to make it worse where then he got the blame for decisions by ignorant fans when certain decisions weren’t what he wanted. DC has completed empowered Tynion now which is a huge mistake since a writer shouldn’t be essentially running the Batman line. That’s the point of editors, but so many were fired.

    • *never wanted Ric. I don’t know know why it switched to “never want rev.”

    • *Completely, not completed in that second to last sentence.

  3. Vacur005,
    That’s a lot of assumptions about why I took exception with those runs.
    And not what I was talking about.
    Although you make some good points about further things that went wrong there.
    Maybe those were editorial ideas but it was writer execution.
    No- what I was referring to was Hickman’s need to change Everything.
    He wrote a story in which every single cosmic entity was killed, he killed the Whole universe.
    He negated every cosmic higher force, anything that held consequence.
    What was the point of anything anymore in Marvel what did the struggle matter- the victory?
    Think about that, all so as you say he could tie the whole universe to His FF story and then he dropped the mic.
    Yeah- no ego involved at all.
    And then it was up to every other writer to make sense of it. Thank goodness for writers like Al Ewing who are ‘smart’ as Hickman but recognise the importance of continuity in GOSH comics, in the Marvel universe. It was largely Ewing who was tasked with taking what Hickman did and making it work in a way that gradually distanced the current universe from that story bc that’s what you would have to do in order to use this universe again. It’s not a story one writes for the health of the whole it’s a story one writes to say- Yeah I did that.

    As for Tom King it was his idea to make Wally a crazy killer. And it was his idea to take a character like Batman and make him an insecure, PTSD riddled, second guessing victim and then turn the book into a romance novel.
    Listen- nuance in characters is great and to a certain degree of course even Batman would have doubts. In fact some exploration of that could only serve to strengthen his resolve.
    But is ‘some’ what we got with that run? Or is fu*k ton a more accurate unit of measure for that?

    And for the record I don’t think of Dan Didio and his choices as a good example of strong artistic editorial top down decision making.

    I appreciate this debate.

  4. Al Ewing isn’t the best example honestly with the very lame Empyre event he did with Slott and especially what he has done in Immortal Hulk. The amount of things he changed has become ridiculous in that run, but a lot of people quit paying attention. Other than The Ultimates 2, I can’t say he is a shining example of GOSH comics where he added to the universe well. He’s not exactly Kurt Busiek or Peter David. Hickman didn’t kill the Watcher in Original Sin and he didn’t kill off every cosmic force and the universe. He brought the universe back. It would be like saying House of M or Age of Apocalypse killed the universe. There were a ton of consequences and Hickman is a far better writer than Al Ewing who stomped all over the Hulk lore. Donny Cates created his own Venom lore and relied too much on Knull just like Snyder did with the Batman Who Laughs. Snyder’s Metal and later Death Metal is much more egregious than anything Hickman did with Secret Wars. X-Men makes more sense as an example of changing everything as I said.

    Hickman gave everyone a blank slate after Secret Wars and did drop the mic. He was done with Marvel and went out with a great story at the time. Doom was the ultimate villain as he should have been for that story. Making it Doom vs Reed at the end made sense. Anything could be done at that point where most writers just continued their stories from before Secret Wars. He didn’t change that much honestly in that story. Marvel wanted to get Miles in the 616 universe for such a long time and we got Infamous Iron Man. Jason Aaron has done a bad job with his Avengers run where no one notices that either with his reveals. Thankfully Chip Zdarsky is doing Daredevil right now. I never said Dan DiDio was a good example of being a strong editor, but editors do matter. DC is a complete mess right now and more editors would help. The lack of continuity is now a big problem. All writers have egos which isn’t shocking. Some are better writers than others. That’s just how it is.

  5. LIke Empyre of not what were the lasting Universe wide changes?
    I’m guessing you weren’t reading what Ewing was doing in the various sub Avengers books and Guardians after Secret Wars or you would get what I am saying. He did some subtle rebuilding from the ‘blank slate’ Hickman left.
    Not glamorous work maybe- but needed.

    I myself am not impressed with Immortal Hulk but there is an argument to be made that all Ewing has done is bring the character back to it’s original roots. I disagree with that direction, but it can still be said that the monster who comes out at night is nothing new for the Hulk.

    I don’t care who killed the Watcher- Hickman killed Fate- Entropy- Oblivion- Eternity- Infinity itself and every other fundamental force in existence.
    Do you get my point?
    He didn’t just score the most points in a game he made sure he scored all points possible.
    He infinity-ied x Infinity.
    I bet his dad is also stronger than every other kids’ dads.
    Sure he reset the universe -albeit on one page at the end of the series with a lame last 5 minutes of sitcom wrap up with the FF basically talking over organ music and a laugh track.
    Franklin just needs to go through the entire universe and recreate all life one Wham-O blow bubble at a time right?

    I wasn’t huge into Death Metal but I think you missed the Entire point of the series. Where as Hickman’s story was to knock it all down for the fireworks of it. Death Metal’s whole reason was to make All stories matter to to re-enable the Multiverse. To enable other writers to have the freedom and tools to create whatever story they wanted to, any character they wanted to.
    Again this isn’t about personal preference, whether you liked it or not, it’s about the design and purpose of the story.

    Aaron’s Avenegers has been sub-par. But it’s not a good example of a writer trying to re-define everything to make Their mark over service to the characters. It’s just a book that isn’t that spectacular.
    A better example would be Spencer’s Run of Captain America on an on-going title. What should have been a What IF or limited series was almost two years of political masturbation
    And you raise a good point about the X-men.
    I will say it’s impressive how Hickman manages to make those books both Arrogant And Dull.
    There isn’t a single individual voice in any of those characters and the self importance that oozes off every page is gross.

    • I read Ewing’s work which was mostly bland other than The Ultimates 2. With the Immortal Hulk, he changed things significantly and invented other nonsense where we have the real first Hulk debuting. People ignore it though. Empyre was just another useless Marvel event and not all of them need to be these earth shattering events, but they need to be good. I would strongly disagree with Jason Aaron not trying to put his stamp on the characters with the Odin and Phoenix nonsense along with the prehistoric Avengers. No one is reading it though and no one cares. Avengers: No Surrender was a good weekly series that Ewing was involved in with Waid. That was back to basics, but wasn’t a great story. It is the best Avengers story of the past few years by default though.

      That wasn’t supposed to be the point of Death Metal and the ending was changed which Scott Snyder discussed with Sal from Comic Pop. You can even see in the final issue with editorial getting involved and the forced Future State references. Dan DiDio wanted the Tales from the Dark Multiverse to lead into another Crisis and then 5G while Death Metal would be its own thing. You obviously had the forced 5G reference in the final issue of Doomsday Clock with that ending change. Then DiDio was fired and Snyder was essentially forced to make Death Metal do many different things at the end to set up Infinite Frontier and Future State. The last Tales from the Dark Multiverse issue was all about Duke being the hero of the Dark Multiverse which was not DiDio’s intention by Snyder. Snyder just ends it completely. I was in at the beginning of Hickman’s run up to issue 7. Then I fell off and nothing really happened. X of Swords with inventing the Apocalypse family wasn’t necessary. Keeping Evan dead from an event no one read and not using him as part of it was stupid. The latest issue was actually good. Kurt Busiek years ago said about Hickman that he stretches 2 issues of story into 6 issues. I would agree with that except with Secret Wars and his Fantastic Four run.

  6. loved the pick this week, but wondered if there was any significance that i didn’t’ catch regarding what is broadcast on the spaceship monitor on that last page

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