Archive for February 2015

The Secret of Stewart Cadwall, by Douglas Wolk

In Episode 43, we talked at some length about Stewart Cadwall, the Steve Gerber caricature from Secret Wars II. As a follow-up, it’s our great pleasure to welcome Douglas Wolk for an extended look at the real-life context around the character. -R


As Episode 43 mentions, Stewart Cadwall–the whiny ex-comics-writer-gone-Hollywood who comes in for special opprobrium in Secret Wars II #1–is very clearly based on the late Steve Gerber. A little historical background is probably useful here. Gerber and artist Val Mayerik created Howard the Duck in 1973 (he first appeared in a Man-Thing story in Adventure Into Fear #19). Within a few years, Howard had become a pop-culture mini-phenomenon, getting his own comic book series and, in 1977, a daily newspaper strip. Gerber never actually won the Shazam Award that Cadwall brandishes (those were presented by the Academy of Comic Book Arts between 1971 and 1975), although he did win an Inkpot Award in 1978.

Marvel fired Gerber from both the Howard comic book and the daily strip in 1978; this article and its supporting documents go into extensive detail on that period. Subsequent Howard stories were written by Bill Mantlo, Marv Wolfman and a few other people, while Gerber went on to create the animated series Thundarr the Barbarian (of which Secret Wars II‘s Thundersword is a parody).

In 1980, Gerber wrote a graphic novel called Stewart the Rat, starring a Howard-esque character, drawn by former Howard artist Gene Colan and Tom Palmer (with permission from Marvel!), and published by Eclipse. The same year, he filed a suit against Marvel over the rights to Howard; the short-lived Destroyer Duck series, initially written by Gerber and drawn by Jack Kirby, was put together to raise funds for Gerber’s legal bills. By the end of 1982, though, Gerber and Marvel settled the case.

When Gerber returned to writing for Marvel a couple of years later, it was for a 1983 graphic novel and (what was to be a) six-issue 1984 miniseries published by Marvel’s adult-readers imprint Epic, Void Indigo, with Mayerik once again drawing. Void Indigo, set in L.A., was more or less the kind of “blatant gore” that the Stewart Cadwall character talks about; it was axed after two issues of the miniseries were published.

Secret Wars II #1, written by Jim Shooter, who’d become Marvel’s editor-in-chief in 1978, was published in March, 1985. (Shooter has noted that Stewart Cadwall’s last name was originally going to be Gadwall, as in the duck, and claimed that “Steve loved it. He even sent me a rave fan letter.”) Relations between Gerber and Marvel had by this point thawed to the point that Shooter asked Gerber to write a new Howard the Duck story in advance of the Howard movie that was then in the works–a planned two-parter called “Howard the Duck’s Secret Crisis II.” The script for the first issue appears here. It’s a very direct parody of Secret Wars II, involving the Brotherhood of Evil Prepositions: the Arounder, the Withiner, the Amonger, the Underneather, the Betweener, and Of.

Shooter admired it: he later called it “fitting, perfect revenge for Secret Wars II #1.” But he wanted to change the part of the script where Gerber savaged the Howard stories he hadn’t written. They couldn’t come to an agreement on it, and the new Gerber story was never drawn. The next Howard the Duck comic to be published, #32 (which appeared with a January 1986 cover date), had been written by Steven Grant, apparently several years earlier.

Gerber didn’t write anything else for Marvel until 1988, after Shooter had been fired as editor-in-chief. He eventually wrote a few more Howard the Duck stories, including an issue of Spider-Man Team-Up that unofficially crossed over with a Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck one-shot (here’s Tom Brevoort’s commentary on it and Gerber’s response), and a Marvel MAX miniseries in which Howard became a mouse.


340x340ddwDouglas Wolk writes about comics and music for a bunch of places, and recently wrote Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two.  His favorite mutant is Martha Johansson. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

As Mentioned in Episode 43 – It’s Not a Secret If It’s in the Title

Listen to the episode here!

 

43 – It’s Not a Secret If It’s in the Title

 

Art by David Wynne. Prints, cards, and travel mugs available until 2/15/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.

Art by David Wynne. Prints, cards, and travel mugs available until 2/15/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.

In which we cover 21 issues in one episode; Secret Wars is a toy commercial; Jim Shooter’s X-Men are not the X-Men to which we are accustomed; Doctor Doom makes a surprisingly benevolent god; Secret Wars II is neither secret nor a war; The Beyonder learns to poop; and Boom-Boom is the best thing to come out of Secret Wars.

X-Plained:

  • Secret Wars
  • The not-particularly-secret origin of Secret Wars
  • Binary morality
  • Battleworld
  • The Wrecking Crew
  • Klaw
  • The Beyonder
  • Molecule Man
  • Doki-Doki Universe
  • Titania and Volcana
  • Zsaji
  • Secret Wars II
  • The Passion of Jim Shooter
  • Stewart Cadwall
  • What people do
  • Tie-ins
  • Pooping
  • What it means to be Spider-Man
  • Boom-Boom (Tabitha Smith)
  • The time a bunch of superheroes saved the universe by killing a baby

NEXT WEEK: Legion, with Si Spurrier!


You can find a visual companion to this episode on our blog!

Find us on iTunes or Stitcher!

Support us on Patreon!

Buy prints of this week’s illustration at our shop, or contact David Wynne for the original!

Rachel and Miles Review the X-Men, Episode 24

Week of February 4, 2015.

In which Wolverines is extraordinarily pretty, the Guardians of the Galaxy play D&D, and we disagree about Mister Sinister.

Reviewed:

  • The Black Vortex #1 (0:24)
  • Wolverines #5 (2:41)

Pick of the Week: Agent Carter, S1E5 (5:20)


These video reviews are made possible by the support of our Patreon subscribers. If you want to help support the podcast–and unlock more cool stuff–you can do that right here!

February 2015 T-Shirt of the Month: What Would Peter Corbeau Do?

WWPCD_announcement

 

Who’s the man who holds the Marvel Universe together while the superheroes are out gallivanting around the galaxy?

Super Doctor Astronaut Peter Corbeau, that’s who.

He’s got two Nobel prizes. He built his own space station. He survived splitting rent with the Hulk, swam across the Atlantic Ocean, snuck the X-Men into space, and is the namesake of the most unimpeachably legitimate award in comics.

And when you hit a moral or personal or scientific dilemma that will only stand for the most awesome possible solution, there’s only one question you need to ask: What Would Peter Corbeau Do?

In that spirit, it is our great pleasure to debut February 2015’s t-shirt of the month, designed by the ever-splendid Dylan Todd!

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 8.44.33 AM

As the name implies, this is a LIMITED RUN: T-shirts and hoodies (including kids’ and infant sizes!) will be up in the shop through March 1, 2015, then DISAPPEAR FROM THE SHOP FOREVER. (Tote bags and travel mugs may persist, depending on interest. We’ll see.)


T-shirts of the month are made possible by the support of our Patreon subscribers. If you want to help support the podcast–and unlock more cool stuff–you can do that right here!

As Mentioned in Episode 42 – A Firestar Is Born

Listen to the episode here!


42 – A Firestar Is Born

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 2/1/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available until 2/1/2015 in the shop, or contact David for the original.

In which Miles has a brush with nostalgia; Angelica Jones is secretly a Thomas Hardy protagonist; it doesn’t need to make sense if it’s awesome; and Emma Frost really needs a mustache to twirl.

X-Plained:

  • Trevor Fitzroy
  • Firestar (Angelica Jones)
  • Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
  • Nostalgia
  • X-Men, if sometimes the main characters were bears
  • Inexplicably Australian Wolverine
  • Ms. Lion
  • Marvel Divas
  • Sudsy fun
  • Superhero sitcoms
  • Firestar #1-4
  • Basic palmistry
  • Generic mean girls
  • Coen Brothers YA
  • The reinvention of Emma Frost
  • Some epic gaslighting
  • Butter Rum
  • Mutivac
  • Miles’s favorite star-crossed ‘ship
  • Why Thunderbird I has stayed dead
  • Contextual definitions of “organic”

NEXT WEEK: Secret Wars


You can find a visual companion to this episode on our blog!

Find us on iTunes or Stitcher!

Support us on Patreon!

Buy prints of this week’s illustration at our shop, or contact David Wynne for the original!