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Every now and then, I listen to the Word Balloon podcast. It's pretty low down on the list of comic podcasts to listen to (behind IGN when it comes out, iFanboy and House to Astonish) and even further back on the list of podcasts overall, but if there's a creator that I like being interviewed, then I'll download it and have a little listen. The interviewer, John Siuntres slightly gets on my nerves as he just sounds insincere, but there aren't that many other podcasts that have the same sort of turnover and range of interviewees.

And so, when Matt Fraction appears for an hour and a half fireside chat to talk about Iron Man #500 (Imagine that we didn't renumber this book... what would the book be like in 467 issues time?), Fear Itself, Thor and some other stuff, I'm interested. There's also a fair bit of Q&A from iFanboy readers.

This post is inspired by one such question, namely What Fraction sees in Tony Stark that makes him a character that is interesting for him to write (or words to that effect). Fraction responded that to him, Tony Stark was an alcoholic that didn't go to meetings and that that was a hook for him (though it's much better for you to listen to the podcast and hear Fraction explain it rather than my week old half-remembered manglings).

So, I had a little rummel through my bookcases and shortboxes to find how Fraction's handled Stark's relationship with booze so far in his Marvel work. I only got as far as the end of Most Wanted in my hunt, so don't expect to see him talking to Maria Hill about how "Hef's a visionary"

The Sponsor or The Next Right Thing )
Five Nightmares #1 )
Most Wanted )
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At the request of Jazzypom, here's Kate Kildare's contribution to Awesome New Female Character Week. You might know her from her recent stint in Uncanny X-Men, where she was hired to represent the X-men (the Astonishing X-men shared a publicist with Captain America, but there's no news on what's happened to her.)

Kate came from The Order where she was introduced to the title in #2. )

But who is Kate Kildare? #5 goes into her backstory )

If you haven't already, go out and buy The Next Right Thing. I swear, it is the best Marvel team book published in the last five years. And I say that as a man who is reading Hickman's Fantastic Four.
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It's a bit of a hodge-podge of a book, with a mishmash of artists, art styles, lead characters and stories, but The Book of the Iron Fist is worth a buy. Why? Because it has the tale of Wu Ao Shi, the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay (last seen in the Iron Man Annual).

Now, regular readers will know that Wu Ao Shi, the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay is one of my favourite characters. There's two reasons for this. a) Fraction/Brubaker tells her story really well and b) she's fucking ace. She's a female Iron Fist, but she's hard as fuck and yes, her fist has been plunged into the chest of Shou-Lao the Undying to make it Like Unto a Thing of Iron.

For background, Wu Ao Shi was saved from a beating by Lei Kung the Thunderer of K'un L'un and trained, but harshly. taught that life did not care if she thrived or starved, Wu Ao Shi met a fisherman who gave her fish. It was the first time that she was given anything. He later proposed to her using two silver rings that he found in a fish. She trains more, becomes the Iron Fist and their paths diverge for they are too different people.

Our story picks up just after she has taken on the mantle of the Iron Fist )

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