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War Rocket Ajax #6: CA’s Podcast Talks to the Legendary Mark Waid!

This week on War Rocket Ajax, Chris Sims and Matt Wilson strike up a conversation with the legendary writer of Flash, Impulse, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Empire, Gatecrasher, JLA, Ruse, Kingdom Come, Legion of Super-Heroes, Superman: Birthright and a dozen others about… well, about everything, including his upcoming run on Daredevil! And you can listen to the whole show right here at ComicsAlliance!War Rocket Ajax v.2, #6: You Can’t Go Back to 1967 with Mark Waid
(WARNING: Contains NSFW language)

In our new episode, Chris gets a little jittery — he’s always jittery! That’s part of his charm! — when he learns how to make coffee for the first time, Matt returns to some super-villainous ways, an argument breaks out over highbrow shaming, and the crew offers up their dream casts for Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!: The Movie.

In the interview, Mark Waid takes the opportunity to offer a pretty thorough rebuttal to Chris’s thoughts on Superboy and Lex Luthor:

The greatest enemies, the most tragic enemies, the most stirring enemies are always the ones who were friends first. I don’t know how much it brings to the Lex Luthor myth, but I’ll tell you I feel like it brings a lot to the Superman myth that, this addition that they made in the early 1960s that Clark, that Superboy and Lex Luthor had known each other as kids and Luthor was a pretty good guy until Superboy made one stupid mistake that twisted everything forever. And the reason I’ve always fallen in love with that angle of the myth is becausse I think that Superman is often characterized as a character who everything went right for, and everything is happy, and he has no tragedy in his life. His parents are alive, at least his Earth parents, he’s got all these powers and stuff, and I never bought that.

There’s some truth to that. He’s not necessarily the sole survivor of Krypton when he’s got Supergirl around. There’s not as much inherent or obvious tragedy to the character. But I think if you dig deeper, there is real tragedy to the character, and I think the more things you can add onto it that add on to the character and give it a sense of pathos or tragedy, that are different things than you would add to Batman or Spider-Man, the more unique, I think it makes him a more well-rounded, more interesting character.

So all of this is to say that I think Superman’s inherent loneliness is a critical, critical, critical part of what makes that character tick.

Waid also takes the time to debunk what he thinks of as a popular misconception about super-hero comics:

The thing that is said most often about super-heroes that makes me crazy is that they’re modern-day myths. Guess what? They’re not myths. I mean, they’re amazing stories, but they’re not myths, because myths have an ending. Robin Hood shoots an arrow into the air. King Arthur goes down. The great myths have conclusions, and as long as we’re doing our job right, as long as there’s life left in these characters and as long as there’s still an audience for it, there is no end to these characters.

Then we move on to one of our favorite comics, Impulse:

Well first off, I’m working with Humberto Ramos. How can that not click? How can that not be the right combination? Humberto can draw your grocery list and it’s going to be a thing of beauty.

But gosh, I loved working on Impulse. I was so happy working on Impulse because nobody at DC gave a rip. When the first issue came out, and the director of marketing up there at the time, and this is not a lie, strode up and down the hall talking about how it was the worst thing we had ever published and he couldn’t imagine why we would publish this book, and 97 issues later, I guess I got my revenge. But it was kind of nice being under the radar. We’re just doing Impulse, it’s a sitcom. It’s not a super-hero book, it’s purely a sitcom. I had a brilliant artist and I had a great editor in Brian Augustyn, and we just did what we wanted to do.

And eventually, we make our way to his next project as the writer of Marvel’s Daredevil:

I don’t think I have to tell you that, especially in the past couple of years, every issue has been about grinding Matt Murdock down to hamburger. He never wins, he never gets a good day, he never gets a break this poor guy. You’ve got to drink a bottle of Scotch every time you read an issue of Daredevil, and I think that’s an interesting approach for other people, but that approach doesn’t work for me. It’s a calculated gamble, and it may blow up in our face, and if it does I’ll be off the book in no time at all and I’ll be replaced in no time at all by somebody who’s going to take Matt Murdock’s left arm off and make him deaf as well. He’ll be blind and deaf. And he won’t be able to smell anything.

But if I don’t lose the gamble, then what I’m gambling is that it’s time to do something as unique and as much a departure from what Frank [Miller] did 30 years ago as Frank’s approach was. I’m very curious to see what people have to say, I think people expect it to be lighter-hearted than it is, because it’s not. It’s funnier than it was, but it’s not Spider-Man. It’s not quippy. It’s not a jokey book.

In fact, it has a real darkness to it, but it’s a subtle kind of darkness, because the darkness is in Matt. Matt knows that he’s done all these horrible things, or these horrible things have happened to him. He’s been possessed by demons, he’s now divorced from his wife who’s gone insane, and it’s like all these things that have happened to his friends and family because he’s Daredevil, it weighs pretty heavily on him. But he kind of woke up one morning and realized “I can’t keep feeling bad about it without just putting a gun in my mouth. My choices are, I just jump off a bridge and end it all, end the misery, or I just take a different tact and I just live in the moment and stop wallowing in the past and stop wallowing in the misery of the past.”

All that and more — including why you can’t just turn the clock back to 1967 — in this week’s interview!

Show Notes

Check out Mark Waid on Twitter!

Matt’s International Society of Super-Villains has returned. Rejoice and/or tremble, depending on your alignment!

WWE commentator Jim Ross’s JR’s BBQ Sauce comes in both original and hot, but sadly he has yet to use Main Event Mustard as a base.

Buy This Back Issue: Chris’s favorite single-issue story of all time, Impulse #3:

For more information about King Hippo, visit your public library or Wikipedia.

Chris’s Rec: Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated on Cartoon Network.

Matt’s Rec: The Dungeon Family’s 2002 hip hop classic, Even In Darkness.

Comics Reviewed: Chris is crazy excited for Jason Aaron and Carlos Pacheco’s portrayal of Cyclops and Wolverine’s bro-ness in X-Men Schism #1, kaboom!’s Uncle Scrooge: The Mysterious Stone Ray and Cash Flow is the perfect format for Carl Barks and Don Rosa classics, and we both try to get our heads around the time-bending launch of Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitarra and Rachelle Rosenberg’s Red Wing.

For more show notes, check out WarRocketAjax.com, and review and subscribe to the show on iTunes!

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