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Issue 58: Spellbinders

Mike: [00:00:00] Self-control does not exist with Girl Scout cookies.

Mike: Hello. Welcome to Tencent Takes, the podcast where we hijack hexes and traumatize with thaumaturgy, one issue at a time. My name is Mike Thompson, and as always, I'm joined by my co-host, the bitchin' blasphemer, jessika Frazer.

Jessika: I am pretty bitching, aren't I?

Mike: You absolutely are.

Jessika: Thank you, Mike.

Mike: You're welcome. How are you doing tonight?

Jessika: Oh, I'm pretty good. How are you?

Mike: Hi. You know, I can't complain. You know, it's a Tuesday.

Jessika: Oh, is that what day of the week it is. I'm sorry I quit my full-time job.

Mike: You're not helping, Jessika.

Jessika: I'm the problem.[00:01:00]

Mike: Fair If you were new to the show, the purpose of this podcast is to celebrate comics in ways that are both fun and informative. We like to look at their coolest, weirdest, and silliest moments, and examine how they are woven into the larger fabric of pop culture and history. If you are enjoying the show so far and you wanna help us grow, it's always a huge help if you can rate and or review us an Apple podcast because that does help with discoverability despite what they say.

And so tonight we are discussing Spellbinders, a spooky, supernatural miniseries from Marvel, that is surprisingly solid. But before we get to that, what is one cool thing that you have read or watched recently?

Jessika: I actually read something really cool today, so it was a trade paperback called Heathen Town. The writer was Karina, Sarah Becko, artist was Gabriel Hardman, editor Kristen Simon, publisher was Jim Valentino.

Mike: Oh, so this is from Image?[00:02:00]

Jessika: It is, it is. It's a second printing of a trade paperback.

Mike: Yeah, Jim Valentino he is like one of the founders of Image and he wound up becoming like a publisher. I think he runs the Shadow Line imprint now.

Jessika: I was just gonna talk about yep. Shadow Line it is. Shadow Line.

Mike: Yeah. Well, which makes sense cuz we have discussed his Shadow Hawk comic

on the Dollar Bin Discoveries.

Jessika: We sure have. This one was a little bit better than

Mike: Oh good.

Jessika: than the experience you had.

Mike: I dunno, the, the experience I had was pretty good. It was entertaining.

Jessika: Oh, good.

Mike: It may have been traumatic for everybody else, but I had a good time talking about it.

Jessika: Okay. Maybe that's what I was remembering. It was my own trauma.

Mike: Fair.

Jessika: So I found this one at that stellar moving sale that happened almost a year ago at Outer Planes in Santa Rosa.

Mike: Was it that long ago? Good Lord,

Jessika: Yeah, it was June.[00:03:00]

Mike: man.

Jessika: June of last year. My friend, listen

Mike: Yeah,

Jessika: keeps on slipping.

Mike: it does.

Jessika: So this comic actually, it was really interesting. So, we start the issue with a grave desecration in action with the culprit being put behind bars.

So the woman is this brunette, she has glasses. Not gonna lie she kind of looked like me a little bit, but I'll send you a picture later.

Mike: Oh, I'm

Jessika: But it actually turned out to be a queer story. So we see Kit and Anna fall in love while they were both doing separate study abroad kind of things in Chad. But when Anna sees Kit die tragically in front of her, she escorts the body and brings Kit's belongings back to her family home, where she plans to attend the funeral.

It's clear that nobody wants her there, and that's prior to us knowing that they were more [00:04:00] than just friends. As it's sort of framed that way at the beginning. And after the funeral, she ends up back at the cemetery in the evening and sees Kit near her own grave and goes to investigate. It was then that she decided to make sure that the grave did in fact contain kit, but guess what? It didn't. So I don't wanna spoil it if anyone else actually wants to go check it out, but let's just say that there are a lot of things and other people who just won't stay dead in that town, including wooley Mammoths?

Mike: Okay. Yeah, this absolutely sounds like a comic. That would be my jam. Like I love stories like this.

Jessika: great. Yeah. The art was really neat. It was black and white and uses the Ben Day process of adding dots to differentiate darker objects and shadows.

Mike: Oh, okay.

Jessika: Yeah, it's also very good about showing instead of telling, which was refreshing [00:05:00] based on some of the ones that we usually read that are really heavy about

Mike: Oh man.

Jessika: narrating what the reader can fucking see.

This didn't do that. This did a good job of giving us the scene and moving on with the dialogue, actually being able to act as a vehicle for the plot instead of hindering it.

Mike: Nice.

Jessika: Yeah. So all in all, it was a great read. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a good, thrilling horror comic.

Mike: Yeah, this sounds rad. I'll have to see if it's on Hoopla cuz they put a lot of images books on there.

Jessika: You know what, friend? I'll do you one better. I'll let you borrow it.

Mike: Even better. Love it.

Jessika: Well, what about you? What cha been reading or watching?

Mike: So, the Barnes and Noble out here in Marin County down in Corte Madera closed recently, and so they had this giant, you know, basically liquidation sale where they were, they were selling anything that wasn't nailed down. And I mean, we almost bought some fixtures, like they had some cool things there.

But we, we, we didn't come home with any more [00:06:00] furniture, but we came out of there with, I want to say about $400 worth of graphic novels and, and some other books for the kids. And one of them was the graphic novel Lois Lane, Enemy of the People, which was published in 2020. It was written by Greg Rucka.

The Art was done by Mike Perkins, who also illustrated tonight's series. It was inked by Simon Boland, colored by Andy Troy, and edited by Jessica Chen and Mike Cotton. So this is a 12 issue maxi series that's all about Lois Lane being a badass journalist.

And I'm only a little ways in, but it starts out with Lois Lane finding out that this journalist she knew in Moscow was murdered a photo of her and Superman smooching is out in the wild, and so people are all reacting to it and her differently. And meanwhile, she is uncovering massive corruption with the current presidential administration, which is, it's clearly an allegory for like [00:07:00] Trump's regime because they're talking about , how a metropolis court ruled that the president's social media posts can be used as evidence. And then also, uh, there's a whole thing about how the government was separating kids from their parents. And then, you know, basically allowing different corporations to profit from basically overseeing the process.

It's really good. I'm only basically one issue in, but there are already some really cool things that they're lining up. Like the question, who is Renee Montoya, I think is one of her agents who has been like working on gathering info as background for her stories. She has a whole thing where she sends in a story to the Daily Planet and Perry White and her getting into an argument because she's mad that he disabled her publish button.

And he was like, I'm sorry, but if we actually gave you the ability to publish without actually being copy edited, you would have to give back [00:08:00] every one of your Pulitzers because you can't spell for shit. It's,

Jessika: That's funny.

Mike: It's it, the dialogue is so funny. And Greg Rucka writes really good dialogue. He is one of the authors, like, I've got a short list of authors who anytime I come across something new by them, I'll just be like, yeah, I'll pick it up.

He wrote, the Old Guard. Which, was turned into a Netflix movie with Charlize Therone. The original meaning series that it was based on is fantastic. Like, it's beautifully written. He also did some really cool stuff with like Bat Girl, Gotham, I think he did Gotham Confidential, I think, or it was like a Gotham Police procedural series.

He writes really good, kind of like street level stories, and I really like that.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: yeah. But yeah, it's really good. Like I will absolutely put it on the borrow pile for you when I'm done with it. It's great.

Jessika: Thank you. That sounds awesome.

Mike: Yeah. And it further reiterates the fact that Lois [00:09:00] Lane wears the pants in the relationship with Superman.

Jessika: Of fucking course she does. Like, you

know what? Literally one of one of Superman's writers, Paul Kupperberg, literally told us that Superman is a 10 year old. Of

course he needs a mommy figure around, and that is Lois Lane. Lois is mommy. In so many ways.

Mike: Yeah. That episode just dropped at the time that we were recording this, and

Jessika: It's so good.

Mike: oh man, he is one of my favorite guests that I've ever had on the show. He was so

Jessika: so funny.

Mike: All right. Are you ready to, uh, talk about Spell binders?

Jessika: Let's go bind some spells or something.

Mike: Or something?

Mike: Okay. I came across this series when I was recently visiting San Diego for work, and I got to hit up this local chain called Comics And Stuff on my free night. [00:10:00] They had like so many back issues. It was just, I mean, they had so many back issues that if you put them all together, they would fill up my house.

It was wild. And at the end of the back issues, they had basically kind of collected sets and I was looking through them and they had collected this mini-series and they had it right next to the complete run of Spellbound, which we just talked about. So I was like, oh, that's a weird coincidence.

And I sent you a picture of that. And mainly cuz it's like, you know, it's got a very similar name and it also features a fresh group of magical characters existing in the Marvel Universe. And, you know, who also worked, never really seen again after their core mini series. And then I looked into it and I was like, oh, apparently I read this on Marvel Unlimited at some point in the last decade.

Jessika: Oh, there it is. That's happened to you a couple of times now.

Mike: It has. And especially like, I thought it was [00:11:00] machine team. Yeah.

Jessika: Machine Teen. See, I can't even remember it. I was the one who picked the damn subject.

Mike: Oh, it was such a forgettable series though. But the funny thing is that spell binders and Machine Teen were part of the same imprint that we discussed on that Machine Teen episode, it's part of Marvel Next. And so Marvel Next was like Marvel's short-lived imprint from 2005 that was aimed at like attracting younger readers.

Basically, it was running series featuring younger characters. The imprints logo was kind of haphazardly used, though several books didn't feature the Marvel Next logo consistently. In fact, Spellbinders only has it appear on the covers of issues five and six. It sounds like the Imprint was a successor to this other label that Marvel had right before it called Tsunami.

They used it a couple of years prior to publish books that were again, aimed at younger audiences as well as manga fans. And like the tsunami imprint, the results were definitely mixed. Like Marvel Next put out books like Iran, young Avengers, and the Second [00:12:00] Volume of Amazing Fantasy, which, you know, were weren't exactly home runs, but they were solid hits for, you know, what they were.

But we also got books like Machine Teen and Spellbinders and Live Wires and you know, like Machine Teen was not objectively great. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't good. But these were-

Jessika: Spellbinders doesn't feel like it should have been geared towards younger audiences

Mike: No, it's really interesting.

Jessika: I don't really understand what happened there.

Mike: Yeah, it's weird, right? And then, and Live Wires, which I had to look up and I was like, oh, this actually sounds interesting. And so I'm gonna try to read through it and see if it's any good. And maybe it'll be worth discussing. But like we never saw much, if anything, of any of these series after they ended. So this mini-series Spell binders was published in 2005. It was written by Mike Carey and illustrated by Mike Perkins. Both of these guys are [00:13:00] pretty big deals in the industry, and they got their starts in the UK comic scene. Carey's probably best known for writing the critically acclaimed Sandman spinoff Lucifer, which is absolutely deserved.

It's one of my favorite series ever. But he's also had long runs on things like Hellblazer and X-Men, as well as being an incredibly accomplished novelist. He wrote a series of basically ghost story novels starring a guy named Felix Castor, and they're really great spooky adventures. I've read all of them.

He also wrote the book, the Girl With All the Gifts, which was adapted into a movie a couple of years ago, and Perkins meanwhile is an anchor and penciler who's worked on a lot of cool properties. He actually did inks on one of my favorite series, which is called Ruse from CrossGen. It's kind of like Sherlock Holmes set in this universe where it's similar to earth but not quite earth, like you've got like dragons and shit flying around and, and it's written by Mark Wade.

It's really excellent. He also was part of the team that worked on Ed Brew Baker's acclaimed [00:14:00] Captain America Run, which gave us the character of the winner soldier. So, you know, he's, he's been involved with some pretty legit stuff. And then finally, Spellbinders was inked by Andrew Hennessy. It was colored by Guru E F X and lettered by Randy Gentile.

So, I've got the plot distilled as much as I can into a fairly succinct summary, but it's, you know, it's a lot, it's a dense story.

Jessika: Yeah, it is.

Mike: Not in a bad way, but it's just there's a lot going on.

So, issue one begins with two students, Knox and Foley, at their high school library. They are casting a spell to summon the Ful crum. The spell seems to be working until Knox suddenly dissolves into a pile of lizards.

And then we cut to Kim Vespa, whose family is in the process of moving from Chicago to Salem, Massachusetts. Kim wakes up from a nightmare, which was actually a vision of Knox's death as she and her parents settle into their house, which is, like, almost literally falling apart. Kim starts setting up [00:15:00] her power tools for sculpting in the garage and meets Chad Barrow, the neighbor boy who gives her the lowdown about Salem and John Hathorne High.

He tells her that the school let everyone know she was coming into welcome her since she's joining the student body in like the middle of the year. But the overall experience should be fine as long as she's not a nerd or a Wic. When she asks about what a Wic is, Chad's like, oh, I like, forget I said anything about it.

You know, not ominous at all. And the next day at school, Kim shows up and is basically kind of being studied by everyone. Foley approaches her, and he's trying to say that he thinks that she is the Fulcrum, but she's attacked by an air elemental and has to be rescued by two other students. And when she gets home, Kim and Chad talk a bit more and we learn that Wic are Magic users.

It's like slang for Wicca. We also have Sparkle Hags, which is the name for non-magical people who hang out with the Wics. And then we have blanks, which are non-magical people in general. [00:16:00] And after Chad leaves, Knox's Ghost tries to warn that she's in danger. We see hands appear out of the wall and attack her, like grabbing for her and grabbing tools from her workbench.

And then she manages to banish them, but winds up as a spirit outside of her body. And Knox's Ghost tells her. Nice going.

Jessika: Yeah, that sounds about right.

Mike: Which, I mean, it's a lot for one issue, but you know, it's fine. So issue two begins right where issue one left off. Kim is spirit walking. Her body is basically comatose. Her parents find her body in panic while she watches, and while that's happening, there is a hoard of ghosts that arrive on the scene and wearing costumes that suggest they lived during all periods of history.

We see people dressed in like old West gear to like Puritain kind of clothing to more modern stuff. The spirits tell her that they heard her call out and they thought that she had called to them. Kim is like, I don't know what you're talking about. Get out of here.

And so [00:17:00] basically they're dismissed and they all fade away. But one of the ghosts, who is a young woman, tells her not to go to the pillar of smoke as she thinks that it's what he wants her to. The next day, Kim returns to school, and when she's in her science class, the Bunsen burners explode and set the entire room on fire.

Kim is trapped, but she uses the available chemicals to make a morra poltus, which is normally used to clean stone and metal, but is also the same thing that is used to extinguish forest fires and has dropped out of airplanes, and she knows how to do so because of her background and sculpture and metal working.

I actually thought that was kind of a cool detail.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: I, I liked that. I like

Jessika: I liked how she was very witty.

Mike: She like, that was something that I really appreciated throughout the book, is that she's not a damsel in distress. She's never presented that way.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: So, and then while the students are all being seen to by EMS workers, Chad invites her to a party.

Like, it's basically like the [00:18:00] paramedics are talking to her. He brings her a hot chocolate and then is basically like, Hey, uh, you wanna come to a party with me this weekend? Which he promises her, they're only gonna be attended by blanks, and she agrees. Kim also reveals that she is adopted, which is overheard by some of the other wics who talk about how Kim might actually be a witch and basically start working to secretly protect her from magical attacks.

And when Kim goes to Chad's house to meet them for their date, she meets his mom who is like very weird.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: We never see her again outside of like this one page. Where she basically lets Kim into the house and she's like very disengaged with her kid. She's like, oh yeah, like, you know, he's around, he lives here.

But like the house itself is kind of like a low rent version of gray Gardens. Like, it's just trashed. And it's not like, it's not like a hoarder situation, it's just, it looks like what a 12 year old would have in his house if he didn't have to clean up. Like it's just like, you know-

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: -pizza slices [00:19:00] left around and stuff like that.

Let's see. Kim spots a photo of Chad and the girl whose ghost told her not to go to the pillar of smoke, and when he's asked, Chad reveals that her name is Sally, but she's dead now. The issue ends with Kim and Chad arriving at the party, followed by a final shot of someone in Sil.

Pulling out a knife while Kim is going upstairs with some of the other girls. But I mean, like, you know, they're trying to be like, oh, someone is like mysteriously, you know, wanting to harm her. But the problem is, is it, it looks like Chad, right? Like, like, because he's the only one wearing like a black jacket and they showed the knife being pulled out of a black jacket, even though keeping everything else out in silhouette.

I'm like, mm.

Jessika: Yep.

Mike: I was like, I don't know. Like she's only met one person who is like, you know, disarmingly charming and okay whatever. So

Jessika: Mm-hmm.

Mike: Issue three picks up right after that, while Kim is at the party, the wics are all hanging out across town and they realize that while they've protected Kim from magic attacks, they haven't [00:20:00] actually done anything to protect her from physical ones.

So they all panic and rush to the party, but the dude with the knife has already cut the house's lights and he is trying to kill Kim. Sally's ghost shows up and starts helping Kim kind of like hide from the attacker. And when she finally gets the drop on the guy, he suddenly turns out to be a shape shifter and just transforms into like a werewolf.

And as Kim gets out of the house, the wic shape shifter, Renata shows up just in time. Like she basically taken the form of a bat to rush across town, and then she turns into kind of like a wear bat and starts fighting the werewolf. When the killer sees the rest of the wics have also gotten there. He dissolves into a flock of birds and then he just bounces.

And so the wics get Kim out of Dodge, and then they fully explain what's going on In Salem. Wics these days are descendants of refugees from somewhere else who came to Salem when they were fleeing from something called The Thief. And these [00:21:00] refugees brought something called the pillar of smoke with them.

And when a wic touches it for the first time, it awakens their power. The wics offered to take her to the pillar. Kim says she doesn't want to, since Sally's ghost told her not to. She goes home and finds out that someone has vandalized her sculpture area in the garage and trashed her tools, which then gets her pissed off and she basically reconsiders the offer to go to the pillar and activate her powers.

And then the final shot reveals that Chad is the guy who is trying to murder her all along. Like I

Jessika: Dun. Dun dun.

Mike: I was sitting there and I was like, I guess it's supposed to be a shocking reveal since he's supposedly a blank, but like they really kind of dropped the ball with that final panel on the second issue.


Jessika: But also I was like, who's this white dude creeping around? Like I kind of forgot that's who that was.

Mike: Yeah, like, I feel, I feel if they'd done it a little bit [00:22:00] differently, it would've kind of like maintained the mystery a little bit more.

And I mean, like, you know, here's the thing is the first half of the series, it feels like it was all set up to get us to where we needed to be for the last half of the series, which is when the book really just picks up and starts just whipping along.

And it's, you know, it's great, but it's like, you know, you gotta sit there and introduce the readers to the characters in a meaningful way so that we understand who they are, what their personalities are, like everything. You know, and like the various wics that she ends up hanging out with, I didn't bother writing down most of their names because most of them, they're all full characters and all that.

But the thing is that their identities aren't actually all that central to the. They, it's like, you know, they're not, they're not badly written or anything, but it's just kind of like, oh, okay, they all have these different powers and that's why you need to have all these characters.

Jessika: Yeah, yeah. Precise.

Mike: Anyway, issue four. Kim and her other wic friends go to the woods outside Salem, where they [00:23:00] meet Apo, Leadin, Apokolean, I don't know how to pronounce the name. The guardian of the pillar who looks basically kind of like a crankier version of Swamp Thing.

Jessika: Yeah, I agree with that. Absolutely.

Mike: However, they basically, he shows up and he threatens Kim and he's like, I don't like to smell all this and like, relax. We brought you snacks. And it turns out they brought him a backpack full of like candy and Doritos and he got very excited about Snickers, which I thought was a nice Dutch,

Jessika: Mm-hmm. That was really funny. He was like right in the middle of saying something really like, blah, blah, blah. Ooh, Snickers. Excellent.

Mike: So good. So once they get past him, they are hiking and then Kim and the others, as they're sitting there and kind of swapping information, they figure out that other wics have been dying, like Knox, and they've been dying in a way that's kind of weird. And then they realize that it's because the wic Magic is being used against them.

[00:24:00] Chad crashes the party and reveals he is the new version of the Thief, which is basically, a witch who can like copy or steal nearby witch's powers. Foley gets Kim to the pillar while the rest of the group gets the snot kicked out of them by Chad. And

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: Kim touches the pillar, but she doesn't have any powers awaken. Chad instead shows up after he has defeated the rest of her friends. And he consumes part of the pillar so that he can take its magic with him wherever he goes. And then he destroys the rest of it. And it buries Foley and Kim before Chad Teleports back to the high school.

Issue five, shows the rest of Kim's friends waking up in this strange wasteland with a giant blood red sun in the sky, and their magic doesn't work right there.

Meanwhile, Chad is now using the pillar's power to summon local teenage witches to the high school where he takes mental control of them by kissing them, like forcefully kissing them, and then having them go out. [00:25:00] It's a really interesting, uncomfortable scene. I actually, I kind of recoiled a little bit because the whole thing is that he sits there and he kisses the, like two kids show up in their siblings, he kisses the girl and then he forces her to kiss her brother and it's really uncomfortable.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: And as we continue to learn more about Chad, I think it's actually really in keeping with who he is as a person. But I dug the way that it was presented overall because I liked the concept of how violating this was with him, taking over people. Like, everything about it was just a violation,

Jessika: It really was.

Mike: Yeah, like , I was uncomfortable with it in the moment. And then as I like, you know, as I finished out the series, I was like, no, that's actually, I think a really smart way to depict it. Like, based on who this guy wound up being.

Jessika: That's fair. That's fair.

Mike: Meanwhile, Kim and Foley crawl out of the pillar's wreckage, and Kim finds Sally's ghost waiting for [00:26:00] them. Sally reveals that she and Chad were dating, and then Chad killed her after she broke up with him. Basically, he got so angry that when she dumped him, his magical ability activated and he turned her own temperature control powers against her.


Jessika: Mm-hmm.

Mike: Sally then says that she's basically being pulled away by Chad. And before she goes, she says that Kim should apologize to the pillar and ask it to trust her one last time. After that, we see Chad causing more chaos at the high school.

We cut back to Kim's trapped friends. They figure out that they're in the world their ancestors escaped from, which has been ruined because the original thief drained it dry. They managed to pool their powers together and escape back to their world, right as the original thief manifests and starts to attack them, they teleport to the high school. Kim apologizes to the pillar and asks it to help, and then she suddenly finds herself and Foley teleported to this kind of like blank, formless realm where there were flying [00:27:00] skeletons, standing guard over an endless line of dead people.

Chad meanwhile successfully channels the power of his brainwashed minions, and he brings Sally back to life. And then Kim's friends blow open the doors to the high school's gym just in time to be threatened with an epic showdown.

And that brings us to issue six. Things kick off with Kim and Foley still in the realm of the dead and the skeletons all fly over to demand who the two are.

But then there's the twist where they reveal that Kim is not just a witch, she's a necromancer, which is kind of a one of a kind position that allows her to serve as the gatekeeper. And she's meant to serve as a guardian between the realms of the living and the dead, as well as mending breaches between the two worlds.

The skeletons note that while they obey her and she's kind of their boss, sort of. The skeletons note, that while they obey her and she can travel freely between the two realms, Foley can't, and he isn't allowed to go back to the world of the living.

Back in the real world, Chad manages to trap Kim's friends [00:28:00] within the glyphs of one of their own spells, which was actually kind of a neat moment, like, especially once they figure out what's going on and you can see them like existing within like the cliffs of a spell in the air.

I thought that was kind of cool.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah, it was just, it was neat way of thinking about it because he basically channeled a couple of their different powers and then teleported them into a spell.

Jessika: Yeah, yeah. That was really interesting, like a little pocket dimension.

Mike: yeah, it's, it's very, in keeping with the way that Mike Carey writes, he often sits there and thinks of very interesting ways to spin powers and things like that. He did a lot of that in the X-Men, which I really liked.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: Back in the realm of the dead, Kim tells the skeleton angels that if they don't let fully go back with her, she'll just quit. She'll resign as the gatekeeper and the skeleton's like, well, shit, that's not an acceptable outcome. And so they show Kim how to take herself and Foley back to Salem, which I actually really liked.

They're like, mm, fuck. All right, fine. They're like, I guess you're the boss.

Jessika: Exactly. Oh my gosh.

Mike: No, I [00:29:00] thought it was great. And then Chad has this moment with Sally where he, after having brought her back to life, he apologizes for how he killed her, but that he made it so he can never hurt her again, because their life forces are now tied together and they can live forever. Sally, bless her heart, says, you did a lot of harm.

You can never put right, you really think I'm going to forgive you for that? Which A, I thought was such a great moment. And B, it makes the mediocre white guy have an absolute meltdown. And she also notes that she never asked him to like kill her or bring her back, which just makes him even nastier.

Jessika: Yeah,

Mike: I thought that was such just a good, simple breakdown of why everything that he was doing was wrong.

Jessika: Absolutely.

Mike: Yeah. And then, yeah, Kim and Foley arrive right at the same time as the other witches managing to bust out of the Magic spell. Everyone throws down with Chad, and then Kim opens a gate back to the realm of the dead [00:30:00] and frees Sally from Chad's control and then Sally drags Chad through the gate, and on the other side, the skeleton angels announced that since Chad fished in the river of souls, he pays the price. And then they tell Sally that they will shepherd her into the afterlife.

Jessika: That was his fuck around and find out. Prize.

Mike: it was actually really good. And the skeletons, like, they're not, they're not bad or anything, but they are really kind of horrific looking.

They, they have like human bodies, but animal skulls and then, and then wings, and they all have sides. It's really cool. Like I loved that character design.

Jessika: Yeah. Same.

Mike: Yeah. And then back at the ruined School gym, the group gets ready to leave and Kim finds one of the lizards that Knox turned into when he died. She tells Knox to hang in there as she thinks they're on a roll. And that's it. That's where the series ends. It mostly wraps everything up, but it leaves a couple of things hanging, which, you know, I think was a smart way to do it.

[00:31:00] But, after that, we really didn't see much. Since the series came out. It was published in both trade paperbacks and a digest size collection, but we have never seen the story continue. A couple of years ago, Marvel launched the series Strange Academy, which is set in New Orleans, and it features a bunch of supernatural teens from across the Marvel Universe learning magic from teachers like Dr. Strange and Brother Voodoo. But honestly, that's like the closest we've ever got to a return to John Hathorne High, and that's kind of where everything ends.

Like Marvel Next went away pretty quickly. Mike Carey and Mike Perkins said that they'd be interested in coming back to continue to kind of tell these stories set in this setting, but nothing ever happened. So.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah. So tonight's a little bit more of a book club thing, so.

Jessika: Yeah,

Mike: Yeah. So like, my first question is, how did you like the story?

Jessika: I actually thought it was an interesting take on magic and heroism. I like that each of the different people had a different power, that many [00:32:00] parts of a whole trope thing. But, it was fun, I think. I also really liked that the strong witch was female, and it was really neat to see her with that type of power.

And like you said, unmitigated, like she was just powerful throughout, wasn't a damsel.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: It was also a huge time capsule, like you could tell it was written 2005. I felt awful for Sally, like her ghost outfit was horrendous. Extreme low-rise jeans and a fucking bucket hat??

Mike: Oh yeah. No, it uh, man, that

hat, it was like a fuzzy hat, wasn't it?

Jessika: I don't even

Mike: I, I think it was like a

white fuzzy bucket hat. It was just like,

Jessika: It's awful.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: And Kim's party outfit, she had a nice dress on over jeans. Like it just screamed Hillary Duff.

Mike: Yeah, it really did, man. Ooh. And some of the hairstyles too, and like, there were a lot of low-rise jeans. There were [00:33:00] a lot, especially on the female characters.

Jessika: There were a lot of, exactly. There were also a lot of like really thick headbands that matched perfectly to whatever shirt they were wearing.

Mike: Mm-hmm.

Jessika: That was really, yeah. By the way, all of that fashion is coming back.

Mike: I hate it.

Jessika: Yeah. Me. Me too. Hate that. But also I feel like there were queer-coded characters where they're not like LB and Mason had to be queer.

Like not necessarily together, but come, come on. They were part of the Alphabet Mafia, right?

Mike: I'm pretty sure they were. There was also how Foley made a comment about how he had a tough time maintaining eye contact. And like that felt coded, like someone who was on the spectrum.

Jessika: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.


So that was interesting for being a 2005 comic.

Mike: Yeah. I mean, you know, Mike Carey is a, a very good writer. And he, I feel is pretty queer friendly based on, you know, his extended run in Lucifer and, and Hellblazer. [00:34:00] So that, that wouldn't surprise me. You know, I'm like you, I enjoyed a lot of the ideas, for a short mini-series. I think it had a lot of really fun original takes on stuff.

It's interesting, it does feel at the beginning, like it's a Marvel story by way of a CW TV show, and then it gets like, pretty dark in an intimate way. Like, you know, the villain is a shitty dude who murdered his girlfriend because he couldn't stand how she dumped him. And then he's not even trying to bring her back to life to like, make up for what he did to atone or anything like that.

He's just trying to bring her back because he feels like they needed to be together forever. Like I,

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: I liked how, how there was that theme of like a lack of consent at the core of his shittiness. Like everything about what he did was driven by a lack of consent, like the way that he spread his mind control throughout the other teen witches and how he A [00:35:00] murdered Sally and then brought her back without ever actually asking, being asked to do so.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: I thought it made for a much deeper villain than you typically would get in a comic, or I guess a much more believable villain.

Jessika: Yeah, I believe that I, I see that. Absolutely.

Mike: Yeah. I dunno. What did you think was the most interesting form of magic in the series?

Jessika: So for me, it has to be a tie between turning into an animal and manipulating heat. Like Animorphs, come on. First of all, Animorphs. But secondly, it would be so nice not to have to worry about what temperature it was outside. You're always

Mike: Oh my

Jessika: just comfy.

Mike: God. Yeah. That sounds amazing. I,

Jessika: But, turning into a giant bat and flying away from an awkward situation.

Come on. I, I see. I really don't know.

Mike: Yeah, and that was actually something that wasn't explicitly spelled out, like it wasn't really explained if she could just turn into one form or like variations of [00:36:00] one form, because Chad on the other hand, sat there and turned into a bunch of different forms. But shape shifting seems pretty rad too.

Like, I don't know, like I thought they were all really interesting in their own ways, but I was, I was sitting there and I was like, man, imagine how pleasant exercise would be if you could control temperatures. Cuz I, I went for my first run today in months after, you know, the long winter rains and then breaking my toes and like,

Jessika: Oh.

Mike: And oh God, I was so gross. I was like, hmm. I would, I would like for it to be just much more pleasantly chilly right now.

Jessika: Yeah. I feel that.

Mike: Yeah. So one thing that I found was that this book is technically part of the Marvel Universe, but would you have known that if I hadn't just told you?

Jessika: You know, honestly, I actually might have given, it's the same type of recognizable magic that Dr. Strange uses.

Mike: Hmm.

Jessika: The only other Easter egg that I noticed was fully wearing a Captain America polo shirt, which A fucking polo shirt, good God.

Mike: Yeah. I mean, [00:37:00] so when you say it's the same type of Magic, you mean like how it's like the rings of like glyphs around the

Jessika: Yes. Yes.

Mike: Yeah I didn't think about that.

Jessika: Yeah. So that, that for me is what gave it away. That kind of tied it in for me.

Mike: Mm-hmm.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: I don't think I would've, like even with that, because that feels sort of generic enough with how they present Magic a lot of the time. But yeah, I mean, if you were in charge, what character or characters would you have had cameo in this series?

Jessika: Well, it certainly makes the most sense to have Dr. Strange in there. For me, at least that's what makes the most sense. I mean, I would think that he could do some sort of a reluctant mentor thing, kind of like we see him with Peter Parker in the M C U, you know, so I think that would probably do nicely in my opinion.

Mike: Yeah, I was trying to think about who would've been a good, like, kind of like magic user cameo [00:38:00] if, you know, if we weren't gonna do Doctor Strange. I actually think it could have been really interesting if they'd had Dr. Doom show up, because bear with me. Right around the same time as this series came out, there was a whole storyline that Mark Wade wrote about how Dr. Doom sacrificed his first true love to basically gain incredible, arcane knowledge. And also he got a new suit of magic leather armor, which I think was actually made out of her skin.

Like it was very dark, but then, another big thing in Doom Story was that he would battle Mafisto every year to free his mother's soul from hell. But like imagine if like somehow he and Chad crossed paths and Chad like tried to steal his Magic and Doom basically was just kinda like, I see what you're doing, you little gnat, and nothing good is gonna come from this.

Like just kind of, you know, have one of those moments where it's like, you know, connecting with the larger Marvel universe, but also like one of the biggest villains in the Marvel universe just being like, [00:39:00] yo, this is fucked up.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: I think it

Jessika: Yeah, I could see that. Yeah, definitely. I can see that for sure.

Mike: Yeah. Like, so also the book stars high school students. Did you think that Perkins Depiction was realistic or was this like one of those CW shows where we've got like hot 20 somethings portraying teens?

Jessika: Yeah, no hot 20 somethings portraying teens, it, they were able to do whatever they wanted. They truly acted like adults, like she was holding like a full ass, like, and not to say that this doesn't happen from time to time, but I don't know a ton of kids who are just given free reign to use like large power tools like a chainsaw.

Mike: Yeah. No, and like, we're talking like serious hardcore power tools. Like when, when we first see it being put out and Chad comes over, he is like, oh, I guess your dad's really a car guy. Huh? She's like, no, they're mine. Fuck off. Like.

Jessika: My shit.

Mike: yeah. I mean, same like, [00:40:00] like her parents were there just to kind of be props and, you know, and then there's the whole bit where she's like, well, they're just my adoptive parents. I'm like, all right, whatever. Like, who cares.

Jessika: Yeah. Right. It's like, okay.

Mike: It was, it was fine. It also her parents. Well, first of all, like the adults weren't really much of a presence throughout this entire story. They just occasionally popped up to kind of be like, kind of like bumbling idiots or, you know, just, just to remind you that these were teenagers theoretically.

But I mean, her parents also did not seem like they were very happily married, like, let's be honest.

Jessika: Yeah. No, it was a little strange. It was a little tense, felt a little tense.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: So

Mike: I like, would you wanna see another series continuing the adventures of the Spellbinders, or would you wanna see an M C U adaptation?

Jessika: You know, I really would be interested to see what happens next in the series. I think they left it on not a cliffhanger necessarily, but I definitely [00:41:00] would like to see if they were able to get other guy back, you know, Knox back.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: And I think there's a lot that can be done with the groundwork that's already been established during this series, and we only got to see a fraction of what the town could do.

There are a ton of other kids in the high school that were deemed to be witches that didn't play any role in the storyline. So it also might be interesting to do some of these events from a different point of view, or do that in the continuation, have just a different kind of viewpoint.

Mike: Yeah, I actually would've been really curious to see where Carey would've taken the story now that we've got kind of like the basic foundation laid down. But,

Jessika: Yeah, absolutely.

Mike: You know, like I said, I know Carey and Perkins said that they were interested in continuing it, but nothing ever happened.

I'm honestly like really kind of bummed that we haven't gotten to see them come back and work on a sequel.

Jessika: Yeah. That is too bad.

Mike: Yeah. Okay. So I've got one other question [00:42:00] for you, which is-

Jessika: Okay.

Mike: Remember how Chad asked Kim out when she was basically recovering from almost being burnt alive?

Jessika: Yep, yep. That happened.

Mike: I was sitting there and I was like, no, that is absolutely something that a shitty white guy would do. And like I was wondering what is the most inappropriate time that you have ever been asked out? And I'll tell you mine later on.

Jessika: Oh my goodness. So this is gonna take some context. up.

Mike: right. I'm, I'm ready-

ready. My body is ready.

Jessika: yeah, so, so I lived in France for about a year, and while I was there, I was actually working, I was a student assistant teacher kind of a thing where I would just kind of be in an English class, and I was there kind of like just helping.

I was helping the other teacher and I, I did some lesson planning, but really it was lightweight. I mean, in my school I only [00:43:00] worked eight hours a week. I love France. It's great. So, and I, I got paid enough to live there, which is wild. So, yeah. But there was this guy who worked at the school, I thought he was a science teacher cause he always walked around with a lab coat and his name was Norbert.

And all of the teachers were l Norbert, by the way. It's spelled Norbert, but his name is


Right. So all of the teachers are like giving me their phone number. Hey, you need anything? I was homeless for the first two months. I was two and a half months. I was in France. And so I was staying with teachers.

I was like getting a lot of help from people. So yeah, I was getting phone numbers, I was getting contact information so that I had places to kind of stay and land and whatever else. And so I had just moved into my apartment that one of the other teachers had, like, helped me get, like she cosigned for me, knowing me two and a half months.

And that night I've just moved in, I'm [00:44:00] exhausted. It's probably like 11:00 PM or 12:00 AM and I get this phone call from Norbert. And he's just like, okay, I, you just moved into your new spot, can I come over? And I'm like, dude, it's like, um,

it's like midnight. What are you talking about? And you know, I was just like, what is going on?

And I was super tired and I was just like, dude, I don't even have sheets on my bed. I literally have a blanket I've thrown over my body. I'm gonna figure it out tomorrow. Like, I cannot have, I don't even have glassware. I cannot have anybody over here. And I was like, no, I just got, and he just kept going, oh, blah, blah, blah, oh, blah, blah, blah.

And I was like, no, my guy, no. And so I was like, just, it was weird. I don't like being pressured. And I just was like, no, thank you. And I just was like, I don't wanna be around this guy cause I'm getting bad vibes. Right? So that was just super strange. And so it was like, he kind of followed me around. At the school a lot and like they do this thing where like for New Years they like do bisous, [00:45:00] where they'll like kiss you on either side of your face, but like, I don't want this motherfucking coming anywhere near my face.

Right. He like cornered me and bisou'd me at one point. So super awkward. Um, I forgot to mention that I was 21 years old and he was 34. Oh and by the way, by the way, he was not a science teacher, he was the lab assistant and he just happened to wear his mother fucking white jacket everywhere on campus. Yeah. It was pretty rough. It was, it was. Yeah.

Mike: Oh man.


Jessika: So that was Norbert.

Mike: Oh man,

Jessika: I did not need to be having a teacher's fucking 34 year old assistant calling my 21 year old ass at midnight.

Mike: Man.

Jessika: He was really like, booty call. [00:46:00] Let's do this.

Mike: Oh man. I think mine was a friend of mine from co like, I need to provide some backstory too. So a friend of mine from college, her brother died and I was one of the few people that was within driving distance of her and her family, you know, location wise. And so they had a memorial service for 'em, not long after.

And I mean, it was, it was a really lovely service and all that. And I was there with her and her family, and one of her and her brother's mutual friends talked with me for a bit and I was like, oh yeah, okay, cool. Whatever, you know? Seems like a nice guy. No, apparently he like haranged her into giving me his contact info because he thought I was super cute.

And I was like, what? I was just like, I, uh, I don't know who to respond to this. Like, how do you, how do you like.

Jessika: That's

Mike: How, what, what is the mentality for going up to someone and being [00:47:00] like, I am so sorry for your loss? Also, who was that hot piece that you were just talking to and like, can you give, can you slide them my digits?

Jessika: Good Lord. What?

Mike: Yeah. It was.

Jessika: That that, yeah. I don't know, man.

Mike: Yeah,

Jessika: It's a little rough.

Mike: It was, it's one of those things where I'm like, you know, like I made a lot of terrible decisions when I was in my twenties, but at least I never did that. At least I never sat there and harassed someone at one of the lowest points of their life into asking out their friend for me.

Jessika: Yeah. Oh my goodness gracious. That's, that's rough. That's, that's arguably rougher than Norbert calling me the second I got a private flat surface.

Mike: Uh,

Jessika: Which was really the low down.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. The lab assistant, [00:48:00] the 34 year old lab assistant.

Jessika: Fucking hell man. I was, I was shook.

Mike: All right. Are you ready to move on to Brain Wrinkles?

Jessika: Let's wrinkle it out.

Mike: All right.

Mike: We are now at Brain Wrinkles, which is the part of the show where we talk about one thing that is comics or comics adjacent that we just haven't been able to get out of our skulls the last couple of days. So I've been talking a lot, you're up first.

Jessika: Well, guess what?

Mike: What?

Jessika: I'm going to Disneyland.

Mike: Did you win the Super Bowl when I wasn't looking?

Jessika: No, I'm taking myself because it's my 37th birthday.

Mike: Oh, there you go.

Jessika: So I'm going solo and I'm going to be Disney bounding as Belle, and I'm setting up my costume. It's not really a costume cuz it's not a, you can't be in costume. But

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: I'm also [00:49:00] excited because I'm going to California Adventure park for the first time.

Mike: Oh, nice.

Jessika: I've never been, I haven't been to Disneyland since I was 19, so it has been, everyone do the math. It has been almost 20 years.

Mike: So you, okay. That's interesting because California Adventure opened in 2002.

Jessika: I just didn't go when I was 19 because I ended up going, God, this the things that I could do when I was 19 that I could never do now, because we drove up at night, we got to LA we got to Disneyland Park when it opened, well, a little bit before we had breakfast across the street, we went into the park all day.

We did Disneyland all day. We stayed in a hotel just overnight, and then that early the next morning we jammed back to the Bay Area, and that's an eight hour drive, seven to eight hours.

Mike: Mm-hmm.

Jessika: So.

Mike: Yeah, I remember, I [00:50:00] remember doing stuff like that in my early twenties. Yeah. It's funny because Disney Adventure when it opened was not a good park because I worked there the summer after and they were like desperate to get people to go. They could not get people to attend because there just wasn't much to do.

Jessika: Yeah, yeah, no, that makes sense.

Mike: Yeah, it's really interesting because now they've just, they've got so much stuff there and like, and the park is so different from when I worked there. It's like, you know, it's wild. I'm, I'm really jealous actually. I haven't been to Disneyland in about 10 years.

Jessika: Ooh, they have Avengers campus,

Mike: I know.

Jessika: But I'm also making a droid and I'm making a light saber because it's my birthday and I'm going by myself so nobody can tell me what I can and can't do. And I get in the solo rider lines.

Mike: Nice. That's awesome. I'm so, I like, you're gonna have such a great time.

Jessika: I'm so stoked and I'm gonna wear a birthday pin so everyone knows it's my motherfucking birthday.

Mike: Do it, get the [00:51:00] special treatment you deserve.

Jessika: Yes. Well, what about you? What's wrinkling?

Mike: It's nothing nearly as epic. My big thing is that, like, I posted photos of this a couple of days ago, but basically over the last month or so, I was working with Jeff Smith from the Canadian comic shop, the comic hunter to put together like a lot of weird Comics that he was just finding when he was sorting through collections that he bought.

And all of them have finally arrived and , like, it was this giant box that arrived in the mail last week. I cannot begin to describe how happy that box made me when I opened it up because it's like about 75 or so comics. It's a bunch of weird shit. It's. You know, it's largely the equivalent of dollar bin stuff based on the exchange rate and all that.

And, but I got like a bunch of like cool complete sets. I've already told you about one where I'm like, you need to buy this. like, I'm like, it's super cheap. Just buy it and we're

Jessika: I [00:52:00] already bought it.

It's already on the way. I get it next week.

Mike: Fantastic. Uh, there, you know, there was also some stuff that I've been looking for for a while that like he had.

And so I was excited about that. Like when I tweeted out a Dollar Bin Discovery, just one of our little kind of, you know, like show off something that you bought, he was like, oh, I have two of the three other issues of Kray which we're gonna be talking about soon. And I was like, and my response was, I think it was from Lucifer and it was Lucifer going, you know what to do.

And he is like, all right, I'll put him in the pile for you.

Jessika: Oh, that's awesome.

Mike: Yeah, no. So like, I've been thinking a lot about it because it's just been kinda. Sitting in the middle of our, dining room table, this giant pile of comics, and it's kind of weirding out the kids because there is definitely some stuff in there that looks kinda scandalous, like the Outer Space Babes.

Jessika: Yeah,

Mike: Yeah. So, yeah, like I'm, I'm jazzed about it. I'm excited to have a very large supply of dollar [00:53:00] bin issues and also other weird fodder to talk about in deep dives.

Jessika: I'm stoked about that too. I think it's gonna be awesome.

Mike: Yeah. Well, on that note, I think that's it for us tonight. We will be back next week to have another Dollar Bin Discovery, and then in two weeks we will be back to talk about something else that I don't think we know what we're gonna be discussing yet.

Jessika: It's a mystery.

Mike: Yeah. Well, until then, folks, we will see you in the stacks.

Jessika: . Thanks for listening to Tencent Takes. Accessibility is important to us, so text transcriptions of each of our published episodes can be found on our website.

Mike: This episode was hosted by Jessika Frazer and Mike Thompson, written by Mike Thompson and edited by Jessika Frazer our intro theme was written and performed by Jared Emerson Johnson of Bay Area Sound. Our credit sound transition music is Pursuit of Life by Evan MacDonald and was purchased with a standard license from Premium Beat.

Our banner graphics were designed by Sarah Frank, who you can find at

Jessika: If you'd like to get in [00:54:00] touch with us, ask us questions, or tell us about how we got something wrong, please head over to Tencent or shoot an email to Tencent takes You can also find us on Twitter, for now, the official podcast account is tencenttakes, Jessika is jessikawitha and Mike is vansau, V A N S A U.

You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, Mastodon, TikTok, and Hive. A full list of our socials will be listed in the show notes.

Mike: If you'd like to support us, be sure to download, rate and review wherever you listen.

Jessika: Stay safe out there.

Mike: And support your local comic shop.

Jessika: Do it.


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