FW Presents: Find Your Joy: STERN TALK

Because one of our patrons demanded it!!!

On this special FW Presents, Ryan Daly, Chris Franklin, Siskoid, and guest Tim Price find their joy in the many wonderful comics written by Roger Stern. From Spider-Man to Superman, the Avengers to Legionnaires, Doctor Strange to that version of Starman with the stupid costume, Roger Stern has scripted some awesome and legendary tales of the greatest superheroes from Marvel and DC. The guys recount what Stern's work has meant to them over the years, and then share a favorite issue from his long career in comics.

This episode was suggested by Tim Price, one of our Patreon donors. If you'd like to support the FIRE AND WATER PODCAST NETWORK on Patreon, go to https://www.patreon.com/fwpodcasts

This podcast is a proud member of the FIRE AND WATER PODCAST NETWORK.

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Additional music: “Money" by Pink Floyd.

Thanks for listening!

23 responses to “FW Presents: Find Your Joy: STERN TALK

  1. I love these writer/artist spotlights for Find Your Joy and it was great to hear Tim on the show….. even if he did buy his way on.
    Tim, I remember getting that Amazing Spider-Man issue as a kid and I cried as well. Such a well done story. I felt like it was a heavy story but not heavy-handed, if that makes sense. It really changed my world view as a kid realizing other kids could get cancer, it wasn’t just an “adult problem”. So good.
    Thanks again for another great spotlight. Keep up the great work! I can’t wait to hear who’s next! No, wait, that’s the wrong podcast…….

    1. That makes perfect sense, Mike, because Stern didn’t make it a “cancer story”. It was a story about meeting your hero, and being a hero. I’m glad to hear it touched you, and that you enjoyed the show!

  2. I mostly know Stern from the Superman era and was a fan.

    While he didn’t create the Matrix Supergirl, he did put her on a character arc where she went from naive dupe of Lex Luthor to hero in her own right. That alone makes him a winner in my book.

    Thanks for all the coverage of the other books. I have heard about that Spidey story a number of times but have never read it. I think I need to remedy that.

    1. Very true, his handling of Supergirl changed her from a post-Crisis gimmick into a legit character. In some alternate universe, Stern writes a Supergirl ongoing series, and it would have been amazing! (Loved seeing your signed issues on Twitter. Thanks for sharing those!)

  3. Thanks for a terrific episode, nice one for instigating it, Tim. I’m a big Roger Stern fan, he could always be relied upon to produce solid, enjoyable stories which respected continuity but didn’t depend upon it. ‘Jobber’ isn’t a term you ever hear here in the UK and I’ve only heard it in a US context as an insult; on this show it’s not used as an insult, but it still seems to understate how good he is, it makes him sound nothing more than a better-than-average journeyman. I suppose I’m bringing my own preconceptions, pre-loading the terms. Really, though, I’ll take someone who can turn their hand to anything over an ‘auteur’ any time; they’re less pretentious, less-ego-driven, less predictable.

    The picks were excellent. I was especially glad to hear some love for Power of the Atom, such an underrated book – a superhero soap that did interesting things with Ray Palmer’s character and powers after his unfortunate, but happily brief, turn as a teen.

    To mark this show I decided to get random, so reread an old issue of Doctor Strange, #48, by Stern, Marshal Rogers, Terry Austin. Bob Sharen and Jim Novak, I’ve not looked at since it came out in 1981, and it was hugely enjoyable. It showcases Stern’s experience as an editor (especially one working in the Jim Shooter era) , making sure the script – in this case a Brother Voodoo guest shot – has everything a first timer needs to enjoy it – introductions of every character featured, context for the action, a real sense of New York as a place, and oodles of action and wonderment. And the artists bring out the best in the script. The only thing wrong with it is that it’s a terrible showcase for a Jericho flannel, he’s about as useful as a chocolate fireguard.

    1. Stern’s Doctor Strange run is on my to-read list. I’ll keep an eye out for that issue in particular.

      I’m actually not that familiar with “jobber” myself. That’s more from Siskoid, but I get his point, as in Stern gets the job done, and does it well. I agree completely with your take. Stern’s an excellent writer and storyteller, but not really an “auteur”, which is great because I personally don’t want to read “auteurs” all the time. It can be exhausting. Give me a well-told story that I can just roll with anytime.

      Glad you enjoyed the show!

  4. Always nice to listen to a show dedicated to the great Roger Stern. I’m kind of with Tim on the idea of dedicating an entire show to him, as it seems like his career writing comics could be a virtually inexhaustible topic.
    The choices of stories to highlight were all excellent, either because I enjoyed discussion of stories I love myself, or learning about stories I haven’t read. Personally, I would have put more emphasis on his run on Captain America with Byrne and Rubinstein, as those 9 issues are my all-time favorite run of Cap issues ever. And Triumph & Torment, by the way, is truly a fantastic story. It may very well be my single favorite story by Stern, and it’s definitely my favorite Dr. Doom story, and probably my favorite Dr. Strange story as well. Speaking of the latter, Martin Gray touched on it, but Stern’s entire run on Dr. Strange is also incredibly good.
    I would also point out some of the stuff when he started doing work for Marvel again in the late 1990s, like the brief series Marvel Universe (the first three issues contain an untold Invaders story, followed by Monster Hunters, which is basically a tribute to Marvel’s 1950s monster books) and the Lost Generation (with John Byrne).
    Stern is truly a master storyteller. As for the whole matter of journeyman/jobber vs. auteur: what Martin said above.

    1. Having just read Stern’s Cap run, I couldn’t agree more, it is AWESOME, but it does suffer from being so short, so there’s less stories to talk about. Still, if you tilt your head sideways a bit and squint, it kinda-sorta is a prequel to Stern’s run on Avengers. The next time I do a re-read of that run, I’ll definitely include those Cap issues as setup.

      Now I want to reread the Cap vs Mister Hyde/Batroc issues, immediately followed by Under Siege. Oooooh yeeeeeessssss.

  5. I agree with everything y’all said. I know Stern from Spider-Man, Captain America, and Superman, pretty much in that order chronologically. I know I’ve enjoyed many other stories that I don’t remember are his, but those are the specific runs I reveled in. I still get excited when I pull reading material out of the boxes and see his name on it, because his work was consistently enjoyable and often great.

    Thank you for doing this while he’s still alive. I hope he hears it and gains some inkling of how much joy he added to our lives.

  6. Impressive pod cast. Most Impressive. A few years I did get to talk to Mr. Stern in a AOL chat room (When AOL was a thing.) thing. Him and Bryne were in it, but I opposed and up set Bryne. But, Mr. Stern was pretty cool. I wouldn’t call him a jobber. More Like an Arn Anderson. The guy who makes a great story, but you don’t see his figure prints. Irony with Ryans jokes I had joined a group that was a Roger Steirn fan group that folks kept confusing the page with other people. Including Howard Stein… back when he was a thing.

    His WAKO run was great. But, there were a few good ones here and there. Including Brynne’s run. Sadly Byurne. Had started Wanda as a villain. Back to Steirn. His work on Monaca Rambo CM latter Photon. was pretty cool. And His Avengers run was great. Under Seauge was great. As was when he had the Avengers fight the Olympian gwads. His Spider Man was great. Not a fan of when he set up who Hobgoblin really was. Sorry, but Kingsly wasn’t a thing any more. Baldona going after him was all I knew. Leeds was a bigger shocker. Sorry.

    Cause, I knew who he was. And his Super Man run was fun too.

  7. I love every one of the comics you guys talked about. It took me a while to realize how much I appreciated Roger Stern, as, like Siskoid, I didn’t pay that close attention to the writers on comics, but once I realized that my favorite guy on the Superman books I was reading (My golden age and Chris’s are the same age) was the same guy who wrote the Avengers and Spider-Man comics I loved so much, I started to pay more attention to him. If I’d been on this one, I’d have brought Superman #30, from the middle of the Exile story, which was the first Post-Crisis Superman book I read, and the one that made me a lifelong fan. It’s a quiet story about Superman building a home on a seeming paradise planet, and Superman spends as much time in his own head as Spidey usually does, so I really got a sense of the character, especially the sadness that you don’t usually get to see. Great stuff, guys.

    1. Oooo, that’s a good one, Jon. It was bizarre to see Superman basically being a farmer. Of course, we expect him to do chores with his superpowers on the Kent farm, but there was something fascinating about him starting from scratch to make his own farm. Great pick, and thanks for listening!

  8. Glad Ryan is still workshopping those comedy bits!

    I feel like Stern is underrepresented in my collections. Thanks for these highlights.

    1. You’re quite welcome, David! There’s plenty of Stern comics to choose from, and as you can tell from the group’s enthusiasm, there’s no way to go wrong. Happy reading!

  9. I was fairly successful at missing Roger Stern more often than not, except the odd Stern n’ Byrne Captain America. I had a Twitter debate with Kyle Benning about which writers were DCs and which were Marvels, and based on my broad disinterest in Stern’s ’90s work, I’d say he was definitely a Marvel. Anyway, I look forward to reading more of his ’80s work, like the stories you mentioned, at some point in the future when I can forget that you spoiled the endings of every one of them.

  10. Excellent show and a great tribute to Mr. Stern. I know him mainly from his work on Superman, the Atom and Legionairres, but I have read his Avengers “Under Siege” story and thought it was excellent. I would say his greatest achievement was to take the whole “Doomsady/Funeral for a Friend/Reign of the Supermen” stories and make a fine prose novel out of that. He could have taken the easy route and cut out a lot of information that was not needed, but he brought in all of the elements, like the back stories of the Eradicator and Cyborg Superman, Superman’s membership of the JLA, Lex Luthor II, and more, and did it in a seamless fashion so that non-comic readers could understand the whole story. Clearly, Stern’s writing abilities are amazing.

    Excellent show and well done to Tim for suggesting this. Looking forward to having more of these retrospectives in the future (with of course, the caveat that they are not coming out as a result of someone passing).

    1. You’ve read some great stories there! Loved them myself. And glad to see so much positive interest in this episode. Thanks, Jimmy!

  11. Thanks for finding joy with a still-living creator! Like Edo, I associate Stern with his Captain America and Doctor Strange runs. (I was out of most comics when he was at DC.) Those Cap tales need no more praise, but limited run or not, it’s an excellent run! As is his Doctor Strange! I started buying it because of the Marshall Rogers/Terry Austin reunion art, but I kept with it because Stern had developed some great things with Doc’s supporting cast. I was also reading both solo Spider-Man titles when he was scripting. However, I felt that whatever was going on on PPTSS, was being ignored in ASM, and vice versa. When Stern was writing PPTSS, he was doing a lot with Peter’s pals and gals, but it felt so inconsequential because of the gap between the books. His time on Amazing was spent carefully laying the groundwork for his Hobgoblin story, and…well, there you are.
    Nicely done, Time Priest! Good job of putting your mouth where your money is!

    1. Oh by all means, feel free to praise those Cap tales. Sometimes a limited run can be more appealing for a read (or a re-read) as it’s not a huge “project”. When I saw how short it was, “heck yeah, I’m doing it!” And even though longer, Dr Strange is definitely on the list for the near future.

      Thanks for writing, WHT! Glad you liked the show!

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