JLI Podcast – Meanwhile… A Case of Vertigo

We discuss the JLI appearances in Grant Morrison’s DOOM PATROL and ANIMAL MAN, as well as Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN! Mike Garvey, Bradley Null and Matt Ev join The Irredeemable Shag to discuss these darker corners of the DC Universe, which just might give you a case of Vertigo! Plus YOUR listener feedback!

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32 responses to “JLI Podcast – Meanwhile… A Case of Vertigo

  1. Great episode with some delightful guests. My nostalgia for all these books is soooo strong and I was buying all of 3 of these series in my early days of reading comics. I can’t believe it was 30 years ago, because they all feel fresh and new?!?

  2. If you look at these issues together, it makes for an interesting snapshot of DC’s Mature Readers books. Really crazy stuff. Although “mature” doesn’t apply to me.

    I was buying Kupperberg’s Doom Patrol, and kept right on into Morrison’s without missing an issue. I might not have picked up this comic as a brand-new series, so I count myself lucky to have gotten on board like that. These issues in particular were so great, and the stealth Animal Man crossover was delightful.

    Honestly, I didn’t buy Sandman trades until a few years ago, and I still haven’t finished the series. Yes, it’s on the to-read list. But I did read the first trade, and issue #5 was quite the trip.

    Oh hey, Animal Man! #9 was the first issue I bought of his comic! Yes, totally for the JLI connection and J’onn on the cover. I think the second issue I read was #5. So yeah, filling in the rest happened pretty quickly. (except #4 eluded me. finally read it digitally.) This issue was magic. First Morrison story. First Tom Grummett story artwork. Delightful intro to Buddy and his family. I just loved it.

    #16 really hit me in the feels. Just a poignant take on superheroics overly simplistic approach to conflict resolution. It took my second read for it to sink in, which was the beautiful thing about Morrison’s stories at this time. They were so different from the standard superhero fare, it was an effort for my expectations to switch. So good. I even didn’t mind how little Dmitri had to do.

    Dang, all the guests were so great. Thank you all!

  3. Scot-Free: completely free from obligation, harm, or penalty
    When I read the Sandman issue I didn’t think about it they way you did. My two thoughts were ok with Scott Free funy play on how he didn’t get away scot-free from his name and then wondering what naming conventions for New Gods are. For example Do they have a kids name and then their “real” name when they are of age like we see in some places or some other naming convention.

  4. What a great episode with fantastic guests! As much as I am a fan of the Bwa-Ha-Ha JLI, I really enjoy these episodes that explore all those comics I never read with a JLI connection. At the time, I didn’t pick up any of these titles because, even then, I knew I wasn’t smart enough for them. And now hearing your excellent coverage of them, I’m still not sure I’m smart enough for them, but they sound a lot more appealing now! It really makes me want to dip my toe in and try some of these classic titles like Sandman and Animal Man.

    Thanks again for covering these dark, weird corners of the DC Universe. Keep up the great work!

  5. First of all – boy, am I disappointed in the lack of “Animal Man!” and “Metaporpho! Meta-mor-pho!” musical stings! Shag, c’mon. You call that producin’?

    Other than that, terrific show, gents! Loved me that Morrison run of Animal Man and Doom Patrol. Shag, did you stick around on DP and AM after Morrison left? if so, how long did you last?

  6. I’m only halfway through because yesh this is long (but very good) but y’know Sandman was really one of those comics that got me into comics. Like I’ve mentioned before, and you kindly read out my drivel about it, I read through all the Sandman comics of a friend. The fabled unspoken off Issue #6 is the one I remember catching my interest, enjoy might be to strong a word considering, and made me follow the rest of the series. I was only Goth adjacent though I was going through my Vampire phase, and maybe one day I’ll completely grow out of it! 😀

    Somehow I remember knowing J’onn but not Scott, probably from where I got in mt JLI reading at the time. Still, it seems a good excuse to re-read the entire series again from the beginning, specially as not knowing that it wasn’t the done thing I bought all my Sandman as Graphic Novels,

    Well I’ve babbled enough, more in part two!

    1. I might be going crazy but I remember that Animal Man, like the JLI, was printed here in the UK as part of an anthology comic line. I’m fuzzy on which I read then or later but I’ve definitely hit all the well-know issues either way. Though for “maximum creed” I ready Morrison’s when he wrote for Marvel UK’s Zoids comics, so I read him before he was famous! 😀

      1. Ah, Zoids. A friend gave me his entire collection of Spider-Man & Zoids around 87–88, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Zoids stuff. Aliens, Terminator and Godzilla all mixed up in a bucket? Sold! It was many, many years before I found out it was Morrison’s work.

        1. Zoids and Transformers was much better than they had any right to be really.

          If I can take a quick Marvel detour, I’m sure Shag won’t mind, because of him appearing in the Spider-man & Zoids comics Spidy was the only hero I followed before I went crazy and got into comic proper in the 2000s. So I knew about the whole Symbiot saga, but missed the entire Venom thing until then!

  7. Interesting episode! I don’t own any of these comics, having only perused trades during my comic shop clerk days, or at the library, so these moments with the JLI didn’t stick in my cluttered mind. It is interesting to see how deeply set in the DCU Sandman initially was. The fact that J’onn was so flippant about revealing where the powerful ruby was seems a bit odd, but the JLI was rather laid back, weren’t they?

    Great group of guests, and a nice sidebar to the main series!


  8. Nice episode. Obviously I read all those books (and Sandman was also a late addition, I started with Season of the Mists too), but the story I connect to the most is Doom Patrol’s and how it sent college me straight to the library, getting interested in Dada-ism specifically.

    I even self-published five issues of a mini-comic CALLED Dada, which was kind of an exquisite corpse collage kind of thing.

    Very formative.

  9. Many thanks for letting me invade your space again Shagg. Always a pleasure to chat comics. Fantastic insights from the other guests, which reminded me that I really must get around to reading the whole of Doom Patrol one day. Over the years I’ve read a good chunk of it in single issues, completely out of order, and therefore had precisely zero idea what was happening. Must remedy that. I became a bit obsessed with the Dada movement while at university studying Bunuel and the like, so the Brotherhood storyline sounds right up my street.

    One bit of my interminable rambling that got cut from the episode was that the unfortunate fate of the poodle in AM#16 is echoed in JLA: Earth 2, one of my favourite Morrison books, which I brought up elsewhere in the episode. There’s a sequence in which the one true Green Lantern (Kyle, obv) saves a dog who is being kicked in the street. However, as they are on a world where evil triumphs, we see in subsequent panels, way in the background, almost imperceptibly tiny, that the poor dog has been squished by a passing bus. That was a clearly a scripted moment in service of the wider story and theme, but I wonder if the less consequential dog-squishing in AM#16 was just a throwaway addition by Truog?

    Anyway, thanks for listening, guys! Much appreciated!

  10. “O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
    Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
    O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
    How can we know the dancer from the dance?”

    – William Butler Yeats, “Among School Children”

    Irish Embassy. Mid-morning. And thus the rackety-clack of noise on the keyboard denotes the musings of the representative of the Gaels in the eclectic gathering of those interested in the globalisation of metahumans with their simplistic metahuman ways and how they intrude in the real literature of graphic images with their disdain for the four-colour world of…….

    Oh, sorry, went over all dizzy there. Think I might have had a case of vertigo there – apologies!

    Excellent show showcasing the JLI’s incursion into the pre-Vertigo world. I enjoyed the discussion with Mike on the Doom Patrol issues. The Painting that Ate Paris was the first Morrison’ Doom Patrol story that I picked up in trade paperback form and just feel it is probably one of the most accessible Morrison DP tales. It was nice to see a little interaction between the JLI and DP and using Animal Man was a nice touch. I felt that Booster was a bit insensitive with his “Good News, Bad News” comment at the end regarding the fate of Crazy Jane however.

    Sandman was something I got into after the series had ended through the trade paperbacks. “Preludes and Nocturnes” is a curious mish-mash of that Vertigo horror and DC Universe with the Scarecrow, Dr. Destiny, John Constantine, Arkham Asylum, the Demon and the JLI all appearing in it. J’onn and Scott were the best people to interact with Dream in this story though and linking Dream with J’onn’s past was a good touch.

    The Animal Man was very well done. The JLI had a cameo appearance earlier in Animal Man 1 with Buddy reading an article about the JLI contributing to heroes against hunger and commenting that if the Blue Beetke can get into the League, there is no reason why he couldn’t. It is interesting to see how Buddy develops from wanting to be in the League from issue 1, getting into it in issue 9 and wanting to disengage himself from it by issue 16. I first read Buddy’s adventures as part of the UK anthology and then got the Morrison trade paperbacks covering his run.

    Very cool episode and looking forward to the next one.

  11. Jimmy and Symbol Pending both mentioned the UK anthology reprints of Animal Man, which I didn’t know about. Turns out was in a title called DC Action, which also reprinted New Teen Titans and the Creeper. Honestly, I’m shocked and appalled that these never crossed my path at the time. Even as a devout Marvelite, I’d definitely have snapped up an issue or two of DC Action if I saw it down the newsagent’s.

    1. Hi Matt – DC Action was a bi-monthly book published in 1990 and was quite good. They had articles in it as well one gave a brief history of the Manhunters and another on DC heroes in Film and TV (This was where I found out Superman, Green Lantern and Hawkman appeared in a UK TV comedy series in the early 80s called Whoops Apocolypse – well, it was actually members of the UK cabinet dressed up as them!).

      DC action only lasted 6 issues and Animal Man 1-6 was reprinted in those. It then moved to another title called Shockwave which only lasted 4 issues and reprinted Animal 7, as well as Book 1 of Black Orchid, issue 1 of the Catwoman series, and two issues of Hellblazer written by Morrisson.

      1. See I knew I wasn’t going completely mad! I don’t remember anything about them apart from Animal Man so it obviously made an impact. Unfortunately for me my copies live in the dark recesses of my parents attic so no nice trips down memory lane for me!

        I’m sure this has been mentioned before but did anyone else ready the JLI in a similar anthology seires?

  12. I was just looking at the recently released Sandman audio-book and it looks like they’ve including the segment you were talking about. You did it much better than them obviously! 😀

  13. Impressive Podcast. Most Impressive. Yeah J’ohn does fit well in Vertigo. Not sure why the Man Hunter never had a comic in that line. I’m sure Frank will have lot to say about that. Still The Man Hunters real look. Tragic Back Story would have fit great. And his weakness to fire. Him and the other Sand Man would have made a great team up to go investigate crimes. I mean Black Dalih type crimes or the torso killer. Would have worked great with these too. There ya go ladies and guys whom like men. A butt shot of Booster and Animal Man.

    Yeah Cliff is not gonna be buying Animal Man a beer any time soon. Geez they took is gruff every man persona and upped it to 11. I like how he is on the TV show. And Man they git the right actor to voice him. I didn’t read much about him in the Vertigo run. Liked him in the comics. Though he was a nicer guy in reg DC. He was chummy with Dick and Victor in Teen Titans. No idea what bee got in his bonnet here. Wasn’t he dating Jane at the time? Before he started dating Dorothy? He’s got James Bond luck and still he’s POed. Oy. Again this wasn’t a book I picked up much.

    Sand Man Mystery Theater was one of the few Vertigo lines I picked up at the time. The Anxti Teens made me avoid them at the time. To many of them were butt hurt about Super Heros. So I stayed with Team spandex. Invisables was a book I picked up since it was close enough. Since My aunt had picked me up Judge Dreddd. And I grew up on Gurbers defenders run. So none of this was that out of left field. Not sure why Rebus thinks there such a contradiction. If I had become a personality of Janes. Lets see Call her Artistic Lienees. With Gween Pool powers. I’d look at them and go.

    Jane,” So your a bi reseal . Gender nutral person. And? We’ve lived in the big city. Your not even the biggest contradiction on main street. Race is well of minor importance at best. diffent skin tone zippy. And the difference between men and women are parts. Heck Mr. Steel here is an athlete that is now a brain in a computer home. I’m a ton of people in one body. Ego Much? Geez no wander they use to call you Negative. Hate to break it to you Bi racesal has existed for ever. Heck Lance a lot had a kid whom was African And white. And Gender nutral was even metioned in Greek myth. Ware Hermses had a kid whom was Gender neutral. Wont say there name since it became a slar to Transgender people. Lets think of an honest pollution there that’s a contradiction. ”

    Then I’d just slip threw the pages remove Quiz Masters speech bubbles. If he can’t talk he can’t use powers. Beat him over the head with them. Replace the 5th horse man with a stuffed toy horse. And then jump out the panel and dance on Morsones computer as he’d look at me like Schroder does at snoopy when he dances on his piano. But, I’d still be in Jane form.

    Moving on. It’s fun seeming The JLI here. I’m guessing Morison likes Supes. He has good taste. And 50s Supes fits his love of that time line. He looks 35 to 40 hear. Like this would be a Wayne Boring Supes if the artist could swing it. And the Crisis pose with Jane is cool. Oh as for a Morison stand in… nope these too aren’t it. King Mob from Invisibles pretty much is. Even when Billy Zane played him.

    On gto Sand Man. He thought he was Wessly Dobs? Interesting. I thought it was the Jack Kirby Sand Man from the 70s. Seems we were both wrong. Ah Destany… that wich is for the foolish and the unimaginative. Though that was in the JLA Dark movie I just watched with Constantine. Scott working with Dream is interesting. Speaking of writers character inserts. Neil Gaiman is defiantly putting him self in as Dream. Also the inker does not work for Sam Keith. He would be the perfect Sand Man artisat. Yet the ink… not fiting his style.

    If you look at the Maxx or his Wolverine work. It looked better than this. Not an insult to the inker, but his style isn’t fitting what I’ve seen Keith do. Hmm, Shagg your sliping why wasn’t Frank your co host? Hos was great, but ll these issues have the Man Hunter. And no Frank…. weird. Though the Revran Knoll did a grerat job. And his thoughts on Morpheus were cool.

    Next Animal Man. (Yeah I am hearing ya’ll sing his name every time I type it.) J’ohn looks great on the cover. He works well in the comic. I never thought of J’ohn as a beefy guy so I like Tom Grummet’s verson better. It’s like with Supes. I don’t need them to look like Connan. Doesn’t fit them. There Super Strong. But, don’t look great when drawn like Prime. Shazm would fit with a Prime build. Sice he’s a teen. And that in his mind would be how a grown BAMF would look. Neither J’ohn or Supes would care. J’ohn lives on Mike Hamer books. And Supes is built cause he’s a farm boy that moves planets.

    Neither would want to look like Scott Stiner. Yep the wife is hot. Though this is her cloths? Gurl. I wouldn’t even dress this badly. I guess she’s house panting or painting a picture. So it’s not her sunday finest. But, oy. She should be mad her man dresses better than her. And she has guests. Buddy is all business causal. And she looks like a stage hand. Like she’s about to get the Gels for the Parcam lights so they can rehearse for La Cabaret. So is Animal Man. I’m not even gonna call him Buddy. To much fun hearing the song. Was cool seeing J’ohn help him with his powers.

    Ah next issue. Ah good their out fits now match up. And they booth look ready to shop at Wal Mart. Though cool she got a book published. Ah so their going to celebrate in Paris. Cool. Yah Morison didn’t get Sue And Ralf. This is more of the Young Ropers. Buddy’s out fit is fine. Though maybe pull the pants down an inch. He’s not 60 years old. He’s going to crush his… any way. And his wife. Ah look she dressed up…. Does Maude know she raids her closet? This explains the hair.

    Or is she trying to look like Orphan Annie? And in town she has new cloths. So if the Wasp had no taste. She would Be Animal Man’s wife. Fine her top and pants work. I’ll give her a one out fit. Though it explains Animal Man’s costume. He asked his wife what to ware. And this… this is what she picked. Cool Dinosaur sadly it is not on a Space ship. I don’t know. I’d have to ready this issue. Not sure if Rex is right or Buddy. Maybe Buddy could have talked the Time Commander down. Maybe Rex was to impulsive. But, he just wants to save the day. Though Ralf and Dimiti booth look disappointed.

    So Animal Man can’t blame the JLE. Rex went out doing what he thought he needed to. He guessed wrong it happens. Still can’t let all of time just go on. It hurts to lose loved ones. We all have,m but time marches on. Messing with it has bad points. See the Butterfly effect. Heck I just lost my Granny to all that goes on. But, bringing her back would not be the thing to do. One must grieve their loss. And move on. Time is a lovely moment to visit. But, changing it on a whim. Dr. Who and fixed points comes to mind. What if Time Commander went threw with what he was planning? Looked like he was about to.

    Were talking Zero hour problems. Rex had to stop him. Now that I think of it. Buddy wasn’t getting threw. Yeah it’s sad. I wish Buddy could have gotten threw, but he was about to mess with time. See the movie the Butter fly effect. Or That Ray Bradberry book. If he4 undid all those peoples deaths and what not. What would happen next?

  14. Thanks for another epic effort. I bought Sandman from the start and much preferred it as a dark horror book, with strong DCU connections. It was fascinating seeing the likes of J’onn and Scott through Morpheus’ lens. I loved Preludes and Nocturnes, The Doll’s House and Dream Country but after that it became far too airy-fairy-fantasy-flaccid. Ever the optimist, I read to the end, when I really should have given up after the turgid A Game of You. Or the first time they printed a goth girl’s poem in the lettercol.

    Animal Man’s costume ridiculous? It’s just a superhero costume, and a pretty decent one; and of course, he had the old leather jacket – Buddy Baker, my friend, invented the Nineties.

  15. Despite letting episodes pile up so I can binge them later I went ahead and listened to this one first since it was a side episode and boy am I glad I did. I never followed Vertigo back in the nineties due to the combination of being roundly judged by Vertigo readers for liking those silly super-heroes and the fact that my sister, who made fun of my comic collecting started picking up Sandman before the imprint began. I was young and prone to rash, final decisions unlike now when I am older and prone to rash, final decisions. Anyway, long story short (too late) I have come to terms with all of that and keep meaning to dive into these titles. This episode nudged me closer to that and for that I thank all involved.

    Good job, everyone!

  16. Late to the game … funny how a brief vacation interferes with leaving comments on podcasts!

    I was with Animal Man and Doom Patrol from the beginning and so liked seeing these brief interludes with the main DCU. The Time Commander issue is particularly solid given that the weird shadowy figure seen in the background in places is Buddy himself traveling back through time in hopes of saving his wife and family.

    I love Morrison so all these issues are beloved. I can’t believe you met him Shag. And I agree that Coyote Gospel is a perfect issue.

    As for Sandman, I got the first issue and thought ‘meh’. Then much later I was sort of bullied into reading it because everyone told me how awesome and intelligent it was. I started to read it and then read my buddy’s trades to catch up. Solid book with solid writing. But it never wowed me to the point that I would tattoo a sigil on my body or write a letter saying how Sandman impacted my life in a crucial way. I suppose I was set up by all the lofty expectations … doomed to be let down. But I would read those letter columns of people who were writing sonnets about Despair and talking about quitting their jobs because of Sandman and I’d b thinking ‘It’s a comic book people’.

    I know, I am hating on Sandman …

  17. I’m going to have to go into storytime to cover my history with these books. I know Shagg loves an origin story.

     In the UK in the late 80s comics distribution was very different to the USA. Every newsagent would carry a selection of UK comics. Approximately 1in3 newsagents would carry Marvel US comics. They’d only get newsprint titles with no Star or Epic books (but they did get New Universe books) and no annuals. Of these Marvel-stocking newsagents about half would also sell DC books. Again it would just be the newsprint titles.

    But there would be the odd, rarer newsagent that got all DC titles including new format and prestige format books and even books which were only available in comic shops in the US.

    The first time I discovered this was when my family moved to the nearby town of Hoddesdon so my parents could run a bed and breakfast for some friends who had gone to Thailand for the winter. During this period I was able to pick up loads of comics I’d never seen before including Animal Man 6&7. I was impressed. I’d enjoyed Morrison’s work on Zoids for Marvel UK and this was clearly even better.

    When we moved back home I again lost access to this expanded DC. This means I read Doom Patrol 18 with it’s text page heralding the new era but couldn’t find it.

    Fortunately a few months later we went to spend a weekend with some friends who had moved to Doncaster up in Yorkshire. This time I was able to pick up Animal Man 10&11 and Doom Patrol 22&23.

    A few months later we pop to Hoddesdon for the day and I get Animal Man 19 with the “I can see you!” Splash. I loved these comics and was desperate to read every issue but I was having to accept that it was impossible. I didn’t have access to a comic shop and I couldn’t find a local newsagent that sold the full range of DC Comics.

    16th June 1990 my family went to Devon for a week-long caravan holiday. I remember the date as it was my 16th birthday. Seaside towns always had loads of comics in every newsagent (a bit like Rob’s Mountain Comics) and it was in Devon that I got ahold of Doom Patrol 33 and Sandman 16&17.

    On returning home I decided to scour my hometown for comics. I visited nearly every newsagent in town eventually finding one that sold the extra books and from the next month I was able to get every subsequent issue of these 3 books.

    Within the year I’d found a part-time supermarket job that allowed me to earn while I studied and I started visiting London to visit comic shops and fill in my missing issues of these series. I nearly managed it but I never got the earliest issues of Sandman (TPBs were my friend). And I only got the early AMs via UK reprints in a comic called DC Action (thanks to Martin Gray).

    It’s weird I can recall the details of amassing my early collection and yet I don’t always remember the names of relatives. I think I might be slightly broken.

    The specific issues you reviewed are all classics. I particularly love the way Sam Kieth evokes Jack Kirby in Scott Free’s dream. Whenever I reread it I wish that Sam would do a Fourth World project. I’m reminded of Sam’s description of working on Sandman. He said he felt like Jimi Hendrix in the Beatles. I read that description in an issue of Comics Interview decades ago and it stuck in my head because this was pre-Maxx and I couldn’t see him as equivalent to Gaiman but now it seems so apt. Sandman really clicks with the following issues when Mike Dringenberg took over as penciller because everyone was pulling in the same direction.

    I’ve always wondered if anyone picked up that Dr Destiny’s ruby is a key plot point in Sandman 5 (28th March 1989) and Dr Destiny’s materioptikon is a key plot point in Doom Patrol 25 (27th June 1989). They’re too close together to be referencing each other so I guess it’s a coincidence but it seems particularly odd as both have old JLA stuff stored in very different places.

    I still think Animal Man is the best thing Grant Morrison has done. I think there is an urgency to it that I find exhilarating. He doesn’t know how long his career will be and he wants prove himself. Stunning work.

    I also feel I should mention that both Chas Truog and Richard Case are hugely underrated on these books. Grant Morrison gives them a lot to do and they both excel.

    1. I love how this one comment section has somehow turned into the British (and Irish) Invasion!

      Personally I’d say the Invisible has some better single stories, but Animal Man is probably his most consistently good run on a comic.

  18. Guys! I discover this podcast a few weeks ago….what a great discovery!! I have been a JLI fan since my childhood in Chile. I used to buy the edition published by Argentina, that was yeeears behind from the USA version….The first time I bought the JL I had no idea how were these characters, and what had happened with the more classic ones as Superman o Wonder Woman. Then I started to understand the whole DC Universe and fell in Love with this JL version.
    Is not easy to find JLI fans, so to find you guys really make me happy. I hope you also cover the JLI Origins comics….. and maybe in the future the Generation Lost numbers? But please do not cover the JLI from the new 52 (Dan Jurgens), thats just garbage!
    Do you think we will gonna get a new JLI in the future? Hugs!!

  19. I know I’m a few weeks late, but just wanted to say that I appreciated this episode on a different level than usual. Normally, I read the comics before I listen, but with the variety here and the fact I have them all in trades and have read them multiple times over the years, I thought I could skip the rereading. I was not wrong. The conversations were just as enjoyable as always and the context was always made clear. Excellent work by all!

  20. Hey- the audio drama on Audible of Sandman is incredible- I’m listening to the issue I was talking about fright now!

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