Sure, our weekly comic book review podcast The Stack is an audio podcast – but what if it wasn’t? To provide better service to our listeners, here’s a transcript of the latest episode, featuring reviews for: Absolute Carnage #1, Justice League #29, Coffin Bound #1, House of X #2, Buffy the Vampire Slayer #7, Agents of Atlas #1, Batman #76, Tommy Gun Wizards #1 (out 9/25), Sea of Stars #2, Future Foundation #1, Ronin Island #5, Sinestro: Year of the Villain #1 and Thumbs #3.
If you like this, please let us know and we’ll aim to do it more frequently!
Alex: What is up, everybody? Welcome to The Stack. I’m Alex.
Pete: I’m Pete.
Alex: And on The Stack we talk about a bunch of books that have come out this very day. This is a big stack, Pete. You ready for this one?
Pete: It’s a stack attack is what it is.
Alex: Wow. Look at you, morning DJ. First one we’re going to kick it off with. This is a highly anticipated book from Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, Absolute Carnage #1 from Marvel Comics. Pete, Absolute Carnage.
Pete: Yeah, I would’ve thought there would be more carnage in Absolute Carnage.
Alex: Well, it was Carnage the character.
Alex: So if you haven’t been reading the Venom book, lots of stuff has been going on. Big thing you need to know and they do a nice job of recapping it in the book, but there is this ancient god of the Symbiotes called Knull who actually created all the Symbiotes, which includes Venom, Carnage, Shriek, I guess, and some others. And Carnage has been going around and collecting bits of Knull which are left behind in anybody who has been touched by the Symbiotes in order to potentially bring Knull back to life. Venom knows about this, he’s on the run with a dude who thinks he’s his brother but is actually his son. He’s been lost, he’s lost his alien costume, he thought, and he’s gone through a lot of stuff recently. A lot of stuff been going on. It’s all been leading up to this, or at least this part of this, because this is not even the end of the story. But Carnage is back and he’s bringing the pain to Venom. How did you feel about this book, Pete?
Pete: Well, what’s great is the stakes are very high, so when you have Absolute Carnage, yeah, it kind of sets this up as, “Holy crap, how are they going to get out of this? How is this going to go down?” I like this. I think it had a good amount of heart versus action and really kind of set up this story and it’s fun to have Venom be the good guy against Carnage here. I really liked that.
Alex: Carnage is a great villain because he’s absolutely reprehensible. There’s nothing-
Pete: I see what you did there, using the title again. That was smart.
Alex: Thank you very much. Reprehensible Carnage? We try so hard when we’re writing stuff and when we’re reading stuff as well to see into the villain’s world view. Here, what Carnage wants is just that. He just wants Carnage. He wants death, he wants destruction, bringing Knull back is going to achieve that. That’s the only thing he’s in for and I like that, I like the simplicity of that villain versus the complexity of what is going on with Venom right now.
Alex: The thing that I really liked about this issue is I’ve been enjoying the Venom run, but if you’re going to weave it into a big event, it has to get bigger and here, spoiler, but they immediately bring in Spiderman and there’s a point where Venom’s like, “I really do not want to do this. This is the one thing I don’t want to do, so this is the thing I got to do,” and he goes and he gets Spiderman. There’s a very funny scene in a diner with Spiderman and Venom and the kid where they’re all being assholes to each other. I think Donny Cates captured the different voices there absolutely perfectly.
Alex: So I really enjoyed that a lot. My one thing that I’m not 100% sold on yet is the new design of Carnage. I think there’s a simplicity to the old Carnage. Here, so much shit has happened to Carnage in the [inaudible 00:03:34] time. He’s lost the bottom half of his body, he’s died, he got sent into space. Multiple things have happened to him, so he’s gotten the shit torn out of him, so I understand why he has the different look. This is much more of … It almost feels like a Bernie Wrightson on Swamp Thing type horror look, which I think is what Ryan Stegman is going for in the book in general. But I’m going to have to read more to get used to it, is what I’m trying to say.
Pete: Yeah, I understand that. But also, what I like about the art is it is grotesque, it is kind of in your face and I think that’s perfect for a Carnage book. I also really liked how worried the Venom Symbiote is about what they’re going up against. That, to me, really, instead of just fighting and kind of quipping and stuff like that, even Venom’s worried so that makes me very worried.
Alex: Well, you feel what Venom feels. The Venom comic book is kind of like your Symbiote.
Pete: Yeah, exactly. Exactly, yeah. I don’t have to go to the store and buy it, it just attaches itself to me and I just read it so it’s great.
Alex: The other day, actually, I came into Pete’s room and he was just slathered in Venom comic books. That’s really the only word that I can use. This is a great start. I’m excited to see how this spins out. I’m very curious about the spin-offs as well because again, one of my hesitations with any event, which we’ve talked about a bit on the show, is it can get too big too quickly. There’s a lot of stuff rolling off of this, but I am curious to check it out and see how they weave everything together.
Pete: I also think it’s a great first issue where it really sets everything up.
Alex: You don’t have to have read anything else to get into this, which for a Symbiote book is ridiculously impressive. There’s even a point to the book where Venom’s like, “I hate this [inaudible 00:05:23] shit. It’s too complicated,” and I appreciate that quite a bit.
Alex: All right, next one to talk about. This is from DC Comics, Justice League #29. Now, this is an issue focusing in on the character of Jarro, the little Starro who was broken off during the no justice storyline. He’s become kind of a friend, son, dude, something to Batman. I loved this issue.
Pete: Of course you did.
Alex: I thought it was great.
Pete: Of course you did.
Alex: Yes. Did you not like this issue?
Pete: No, I did not like this issue.
Alex: Oh, Pete. We’re different people.
Pete: Yeah, we really are. Any issue that ends with Batman hugging somebody is not my favorite issue.
Alex: Oh, but he was hugging Starro.
Pete: Yeah, Jarro just needed a hug.
Alex: You didn’t like the battle of Jarro dressed in the Robin costume being like, “I am vengeance. I’m the night,” doing that whole thing?
Alex: Super funny. You’re wrong.
Pete: Okay, cool.
Alex: So the idea of this book, they’re dealing with the Justice League, which is trying to turn the span of the multiverse towards justice and the Legion of Doom, which is trying to turn it towards doom in order to prepare for something else that is coming down the road. And this issue, what I liked about it in particular is there’s a microcosm of that. They really hammer home the themes of what they’re dealing with is can a person or a being change, are things inevitable, is there a way of fighting against destiny, and that’s what this whole arc for all of these issues and leading into this Justice League/Doom war that’s coming up in the next issue has all been leading up to and all been exploring, and I like that. I liked having that told through the story of Starro, who is a gigantic starfish normally, and have it make sense and be emotionally grounded.
Pete: I thought that Starro the conqueror was also a little weird. But that was from a, what was it called? Not Legion, I don’t know. There was some Legion book where he was the villain in that and it was great. But, let me ask you, what do you believe? Do you believe that it’s all destined, you don’t control it yourself, it’s all pre- or do you feel like-
Alex: Rather than answering that question let me say, I knew you were going to say that.
Pete: That’s a cop out.
Pete: I believe you can change destiny.
Alex: I knew you were going to say that as well. All right, next one to talk about, this one is from Image Comics, Coffin Bound-
Pete: Here we go.
Alex: … here we go.
Pete: Another Zalben classic.
Alex: What are you talking about?
Pete: Oh, we got to have one weird sex thing in here so you feel good about yourself.
Alex: So I feel better about myself, because I know I’d never stoop to those depths.
Pete: Oh my god this is so creepy.
Alex: This is a weird book.
Alex: This is a very strange, the pacing of it is very strange. I like the art quite a bit, it’s very Frank Miller-esque I think? I don’t know if you took that away.
Pete: Sure? Yeah could be, could be.
Alex: I don’t know. But, it’s about a girl who’s driving it around, there’s some other characters and other things that happen. The language is very poetic is seems like, almost?
Pete: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Alex: How did you feel about it Pete?
Pete: Well it was super creepy in a lot of ways, and also it went out of it’s way to be creepy. And, I was very much like, didn’t feel comfortable reading it. The art is great but it also has a Frank Whiteley feel to it.
Alex: Like the mushiness of the faces and stuff?
Pete: Yeah, and it was very interesting how calm the main character was with a half person, half skeleton of a vulture just rolling around with him. And then, there was the scene in a strip club where the stripper ripped off her skin to show her goods and I was just like, “holy fucking shit”.
Alex: So I’ve never been to a strip club, that’s what they do right?
Alex: They slowly peel off their skin?
Alex: Because, the thing is I have to-
Pete: You can’t do that.
Alex: … but I’d have to imagine you get to a point where she’s like (singing).
Pete: You can’t actually do that Zal, you can’t peel off your skin.
Pete: All right this is, you’re creeping me out.
Pete: For people listening at home Zalben is dancing around the room in a way that I don’t want to describe.
Alex: A seductive way.
Pete: Yeah, no.
Alex: That’s the word that I’d use.
Pete: I would not, you are in this nearly-
Alex: If you didn’t find that seductive, why are you currently slathered in Venom comics.
Pete: Stop it. You are the worst person ever.
Alex: All right, let’s move on. I do think that was a impressively gross visual, particular that scene.
Alex: That was a standout scene. And, that’s the sort of thing, if they-
Pete: It was hard to move on from that.
Alex: … but if they lead into that more, I’d definitely be more interested to read the book.
Pete: I bet you would.
Alex: Well that sort of thing. Where it’s just like, “this is so fucked up and weird, I’m curious”.
Pete: You love shit like that.
Alex: Listen, the older I get the more I need things to be fucked up to get me going if you know what I’m talking about.
Alex: Buffy the Vampire Slayer number seven from Boom Studios. This is following up on the-
Pete: Who made this order of comics? This is such a fucking-
Alex: Man I don’t know, probably Justin. He’s not here, he probably sent it through I’d have to imagine.
Pete: Oh yeah.
Alex: Buffy the Vampire Slayer number seven, this is picking up, this is a solo issue for the most part focusing on Willow. In order to save Xanders life from turning into a vampire, she split her soul. So she has half a soul, he’s a vampire with half a soul. That’s where we are in this book right now, and Willow in this rebooted continuity is dealing with the dark Willow side of herself. This is a much dreamier issue of this book than we’ve seen recently. I like this a lot. I thought this was very cool and very different. How did you feel about it?
Pete: Oh it was kind of sad-
Pete: … and it was a little like. I don’t know man. This was a, the pacing for this book really changed and I don’t know if I was ready for it. But, I liked what they where doing in this issue, it just kind of creeped me out a little bit and also made me sad.
Alex: You where a little-
Pete: I don’t like seeing Willow without a soul.
Alex: You where a little mixed about previous issues of the book. How did you feel about this one now that we’re seven issues in?
Pete: I don’t know man.
Alex: You still don’t know?
Alex: Still on the fence?
Pete: Yeah, still on, I don’t know man.
Alex: Okay, we’ll check in again at like issue 30 and you’ll be like “still on the fence, still on the fence.”
Alex: If you’re, here’s the thing if you’re on the fence? You’re still on the fence. You’re not off the fence.
Pete: That’s a good point.
Alex: I get paid to do this. All right-
Pete: But you…
Alex: … moving on to, I don’t.
Pete: I was going to say.
Alex: Marvel Comics, Agents of Atlas number one. This is a rebooted take of the title, spinning out of the war of the realms. There’s two stories in this issue, one from Greg Pak picking up on his recent run on the title. And, the other one from Jeff Parker picking up on his old school team for Agents of Atlas. I was a huge fan of Agents of Atlas back in the day, by which I mean four or five years ago.
Pete: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Alex: And I also like this new team quite a bit, how’d you feel about this book Pete?
Pete: I really enjoyed it. Greg Pak is an amazing writer and just the cute, kind of like him starting conversation like, “hey, what do you think of…” and just-
Alex: Amadeus Cho.
Pete: Yeah, Amadeus Cho and then the other person freaking out and it being this whole thing. Then this other dude shows up. I really like the way they did that in between all the action. I think it’s a great way to tell the story and to show emotion and relationships and stuff like that. I was really impressed with it, I feel like this is a great start to something and a very interesting team. Now last time we saw Amadeus Cho he was the Hulk, now he’s just a strong super smart dude?
Alex: That changed in Champions I want to say.
Alex: Where he went through a whole thing with his Hulk personality, it was going out of control, it actually might, I don’t know if it was in Champions or the Hulk solo title, it was one of the two. But basically he integrated himself, so he’s not quite as strong now, he has his intelligence but that’s what he looks like all the time.
Alex: And he’s teaming up with a bunch of other characters, they are fighting a, I thought fascinating conflict. There’s a corporation that is offering the possibility of traveling instantaneously anywhere on the globe. You can try the first time free, after that you have to pay. Of course they’re going to have bad intentions down the road, but I thought this was a neat setup. It’s a fun sci-fi premise and I want to see where it goes.
Pete: Yeah, you always got to be wary when they say the first one’s free.
Alex: Yup, I found that out with cocaine the other night. The Agents of Atlas backup story is a ton of fun as well. Particularly if you’re a fan of the bizarre team. It just feels like a lost issue of Agents of Atlas from a couple of years ago and I thought that was fun.
Alex: Next one to talk about from DC Comics, Batman number 76, continuing the Bane storyline. You felt pretty fucked up about the first issue of this.
Alex: You feeling a little better after this one? Or still quite as bad?
Pete: Well, this one I’m very excited about because we’re finally starting to deal with the stuff that I want to deal with and that’s the bat and the cat.
Alex: Kite man. Oh okay, sorry.
Pete: Not Kite man.
Alex: Not Kite man?
Pete: Not Kite man.
Alex: We dealt with Kite man quite a bit this-
Pete: You love Kite man-
Alex: … I do love Kite man.
Pete: … so you had to have loved this issue.
Alex: I did.
Alex: I think this storyline is great. For those of you who haven’t been reading it, Bane has taken over Gotham City. But, he’s so effective in keeping order in Gotham City that the rest of the country has said, “okay we’re going to back off”. So it’s a very classic Batman setup where Gotham is cut off from everybody else. But in this case it’s a different riff on it, it’s not anarchy, it’s order that Bane is bringing to the place. Meanwhile, Batman is unconscious, Catwoman is trying to nurse him back to health and meanwhile we find out more about what’s going on in the city. Which is villains who essentially have decided not to join with Bane are being hunted down and changed by the psycho pirate. This is-
Pete: This is so intense.
Alex: … it’s so intense.
Pete: There is so much going on.
Pete: There is so much going on. Gotham Girl beating the crap out of somebody and she’s trying to guess his name.
Alex: Captain Atom, yeah.
Pete: It was so awesome.
Alex: He’s with his-
Pete: He’s like, “aw what was it again?” She’s pounding him, oh my god it was great.
Alex: Well I love that, I love that because there have been so many enormous- over the top Batman events it seems very hard to come up with one that is going to create any level of danger whatsoever for the characters at this point. But this has, this has put Bane in a situation where there is basically no way to beat him. To the point where Damian, I think it’s Damian and….
Pete: Is it Drake? Or Robin? Or, I don’t know.
Pete: It’s basically two Robin’s fighting on a roof.
Alex: Tim. I think it’s Tim and Damian.
Alex: Tim and Damian being like, “we can’t stop him”.
Pete: What are we doing? They’re fighting each other because they don’t know what to do.
Pete: And then the fact that, and it’s still creeps me out to see Batman with a gun even though I know it’s not Batman. It is so weird to see that.
Alex: Thomas Wayne?
Pete: Yeah. And then the fact that they’re just scanning looking for trouble and there’s nothing.
Pete: Gotham is just quiet because everyone’s scared shit-less to do anything.
Alex: Yeah, it’s crazy. I love this storyline so far. Let’s move on to an advanced review, this is coming out from Dark Horse Comics on September 25th.
Pete: Don’t spoil it.
Alex: Tommy Gun Wizards number one. We actually looked at the first two issues of this comic book, but only the first one comes out at the end of September. I had no idea what to expect going into this other than the title. I love this book.
Alex: I thought this was so good. This was, I’ll give you the pitch line. What if The Untouchables, but instead of liquor, magic?
Alex: That’s basically it.
Pete: I’m in. That’s a great pitch and it’s Chicago 1930’s, booze is illegal so there’s all these prohibition type places. And it’s like magic and booze they’re dealing out of it and it’s-
Alex: Oh, so good. And it is, to be clear, it is The Untouchables. It’s Elliott Ness and everybody else, it is fantastic. I cannot recommend this highly enough, the art’s great, the characters are great. It’s not even as straight forward as you think it would be necessarily, you get The Untouchables setup and then there’s a bunch of twists, even in the first issue and bigger ones in the second issue that change it in such fascinating, weird ways. This is great, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Alex: Up next from Image Comics it’s Seeing Stars number two. Jason Aaron, Dennis Hallum not Dennis Hopeless, take a son and a father, send them into space. They’re trying to find each other again, or at least the dad is trying to find the son. I love the first issue of this book. How did you feel about the second one?
Pete: I liked this, it really picks up right where we left off.
Alex: You love that, you love it when there’s no space.
Pete: Yeah I love when there’s no space. Also it’s in space.
Pete: But yeah, I think it really handles the freakout that a dad would have. I mean losing your son’s got to be insane, but losing your son in space is extra stress. But yeah, and of course-
Alex: Yeah for Pete’s sake, can I interrupt just as a father? That just sort of in the rankings there’s like, grocery store is at the bottom. Amusement park right above that.
Pete: That’s got to be the top.
Alex: Is at the top and then above that is like a Krispy Kreme.
Alex: Well because if you’re in the Krispy Kreme you’re like, “oh my son is lost, this is really bumming me out while I’m trying to enjoy my doughnut”.
Pete: You’re ridiculous.
Alex: That’s the worst feeling.
Pete: You’re ridiculous.
Alex: Its just a bad feeling.
Pete: You shouldn’t be in charge of humans.
Alex: I just think they should use that in this comic book.
Pete: Also what’s fun is you get to see the kid and he’s having the time of his life.
Pete: He does not give a shit that, he doesn’t know he’s lost.
Alex: I love the world building in this book because, you can see it right in the title that they’re treating space like almost a ocean fantasy.
Alex: It works a little bit differently obviously because they’re in space.
Pete: But there’s also a giant space whale so…
Alex: Exactly, the creatures are fantastic. We get the introduction of a new character at the end and a little bit of an explanation about what’s going on with the kid. This is a very cool book, I’m excited to read more of it.
Pete: Yeah, definitely.
Alex: All right, next one to talk about, this is from Marvel Comics, Future Foundation number one. Now, I don’t know if you read the last issue of Fantastic 4 which set this up, this is by Jeremy Whiteley. This is following the members of the Future Foundation who decided to continue traveling through the multi-verse and space after the regular Fantastic 4 decided to go home. They are led by Alex Power of Power Pack, in the last issue of Fantastic 4 he picked up his sister so now they’re co-running the Future Foundation. I thought this was super fun, I really enjoyed this. I know this is much more my speed than yours Pete because nobody bloodily died, but how’d you feel about it?
Pete: Yeah it’s just a cute kids book.
Alex: Oh my god that’s so dismissive.
Pete: What? It is though.
Alex: Yeah but the way that you say that. You’re like, “it’s just a cute kids cook”.
Pete: Yeah, it’s you know-
Alex: I know I said a cute kids cook.
Alex: But, just stick with it.
Pete: Okay cool.
Alex: I just think that is a little bit dismissive to say that because there’s good character work in here, the action is fun, it’s creative. And, spoiler alert, but kids read comics sometimes, so having something that’s a kids book, that doesn’t make it a side thing that’s not important. That, if anything, makes it a more important thing because we, you and I and the rest of our generation are going to die sooner and stop reading comics. So it’s actually more important, it’s “oh, a kids book. Thank God that they are bringing new people into this industry.” Pete.
Pete: Cool dude, when you get off your soapbox let me know and then we can talk about comics again.
Alex: I am constantly, my shoes are made out of soapboxes.
Pete: All right, cool.
Alex: Because, I can’t afford anything else.
Pete: Yeah, no. I’m happy there’s something-
Alex: I spent all my money on comics.
Pete: … right. I’m happy there’s stuff for young readers. That’s great for them, and I hope young kids read comics. When I was a kid, I didn’t want to read stuff that was obviously kids stuff. I wanted to read the Wolverine’s, Punisher’s, Captain America. That shit.
Alex: And look how you turned out.
Pete: Yeah. I turned out great. I’m not a psychopath.
Alex: You’re just the dude who slathers yourself in Venom comics.
Alex: No big deal, totally normal.
Alex: It’s all good.
Pete: It’s totally great.
Alex: Yeah. Here, I’m going to dance around again, take off some of my skin.
Pete: Aw come on.
Pete: Stop it. Stop it.
Alex: All right, I really like this book a lot. I’m excited to follow it, I do hope it sticks around though. I’m certainly, already by the first issue worried about it’s future based on your statements. Let’s go over to a Boom Studios book, Ronin Island number five. We’ve been following this book a lot, this is also by Greg Pak. This is part of our Pak picks.
Pete: Pak picks.
Alex: That’s what we like to call this section of the show. This is about an island where there’s Samurai, there’s monsters, there’s Ronin. They’re all fighting, we find out more about the mythology, we flash back in time this issue, yes? Pete?
Pete: There’s also some little seeds of maybe romance.
Alex: You’re a weird dude.
Alex: Do you know why you’re a weird dude? Because you’re like, “I wish there was more blood and guts in this kids comic book/ I’m very excited about the romance in this blood and guts comic book”.
Pete: Well that’s the thing, I want my action. But I like when they throw in some stuff, you know?
Alex: Right. This is why, Pete and I went out for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, as we are one to do, the other night. And, I ate the whole peanut butter cup and Pete peeled the chocolate off and just ate the chocolate and threw away the peanut butter in the center.
Pete: No fuck you I didn’t do that. Don’t fucking paint me as some kind of psychopath.
Alex: Well you where like, “no too much peanut butter”.
Pete: No, fuck you man.
Alex: I just want the peanut butter that’s touching this chocolate.
Pete: I ate my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups like every other person. You just mow, until you hit the foil and then you know to stop.
Alex: Wait, what?
Pete: Also, do you know that the-
Alex: No, no don’t move on from that.
Pete: … the mini, because my office gets the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, the minis?
Pete: And now I feel like they’re better than regular king sized peanut butter cups.
Alex: Really? Why do you think that?
Pete: Because the ratio-
Alex: Because you want to peel off the chocolate?
Pete: No the ratio, it’s too much peanut butter in the regulation size. I like the mini, the chocolate to peanut butter ratio is better.
Alex: How do you feel about the pumpkins at Halloween?
Pete: Too much peanut butter.
Alex: Too much peanut butter?
Alex: Very interesting. I would put them number one on the hierarchy personally. Just below Ronin Island number five which is a very good comic that we definitely talked about just now.
Pete: Wait, wait. We should definitely talk about this. So we’re ramping up, we’re kind of getting to know more and more about the people on this island and what’s going on. What’s fun is the monsters are becoming a less part of the story. The threat’s still there, but we’re getting to know the people in a way. I just feel like Greg Pak knows how to tell a story in such a cool way. He’s just really good at it, the art’s really unbelievable, I like the stakes, I love the character development. This is a great book.
Alex: Next one to talk about from DC Comics, Senestro Year of the Villain number one. This is a one shot by Mark Russell, following a member of the Legion of Doom as he goes out on a mission. I thought this was so enjoyable, so creative, so much fun.
Pete: This was a lot man.
Pete: It really makes you think about your life and what you’re doing with it and how much time you’re spending on it.
Pete: This book is kind of like a, “hey man, you only got so much time on this earth. Is this really what you want to be doing?”
Alex: This is what Mark Russell I think does so well in his books right now, is he works actual societal issues into super hero comic books. Puts them through the lens of satire, but still makes them fun to read as super hero books. And here, Senestro is sent out to do this mission by Lex Luthor, who essentially is sending him to his death, or trying to send him to his death, to try and stop these unstoppable beings who are destroying planet after planet on their way to earth. It turns out that these beings are filled with billions, if not trillions, of other tiny beings who live milliseconds of life and repair these beings which is how they’re so unstoppable.
Pete: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Alex: So Senestro has to figure out a way to stop these beings by appealing to the even tinier beings who live inside of him. It’s so smart, it’s so funny, it’s perfect for Senestro as well. Just his calculated, evil order that he’s always pushing? Such a smart book. I did not know what to expect going into this one shot, but I ended up loving it.
Pete: Yeah, the only thing I would disagree with you is when you said, “so funny”. I don’t know if it’s really funny, but it’s definitely a cool book.
Alex: Was it not funny because it hit too close to home?
Pete: Well, what part were you laughing at? These little micro people are wasting their lives.
Alex: I, the satire of it all. The idea that they’re so easily swayed by what they see on TV and then swayed back? I thought that was smart and funny and well pointed. Usually the stuff ends up being very blunt in comic books, and I think Russell and company hit it exactly the right way. I like that quite a bit.
Alex: All right. Next one to talk about from Image Comics, Thumbs number three.
Pete: Oh man.
Alex: Now, we have the writer of this, Sean Lewis on the show the other week.
Pete: I wish we could have had this guy to talk about this book man, I’m really upset.
Alex: We had him, on our live show Pete.
Pete: Oh, I should have talked to him
Alex: You were on the show.
Pete: I should have talked to him.
Alex: You did.
Pete: I really blew it.
Alex: No you didn’t, you were on the show.
Alex: With him.
Alex: You can listen to it in our podcast feed Pete.
Pete: Yeah, I just wish. Yeah, I have so many things I want to talk to him-
Alex: Oh, you have questions about this issue. That’s what you’re saying.
Pete: … yeah.
Alex: That was unclear to me.
Pete: I blew it.
Alex: Yeah. You really blew it not asking him about something you hadn’t read yet.
Pete: Yeah, exactly.
Alex: So, in Thumbs, this takes place in a dystopian world where video games have taken over, or VR has taken over the world. And, there is a VR revolution happening versus the theocracy that is in charge. We learn more about the world and the setup. I said it earlier, book was a little Frank Miller-esque. The art in here is very Frank Miller-esque-
Alex: … particularly this, I keep wanting to say episode. This issue, I really liked it a lot though.
Pete: This book is amazing. The art alone is worth picking this up, the art is so fantastic. What an amazing world it brings to life. Yeah, and there was this interesting thing about the power of moms that I would love to talk to the writer about. But, the first issue started off so crazy and intense. This one really slows down and deals with things in a better way. I really love the pace of this issue. I’m very excited for more for this, this is such a creative cool book. Very glad that we’re talking about it. Such a good book.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. Definitely pick it up, it’s really not like anything else on the stands.
Alex: Last book to talk about. This is from Marvel Comics, this has been promised to be the issue that changes everything for the X-Men. House of X number two. Now, if you haven’t been picking it up, there’s two series that work as one. House of X and Powers of Ten, aka Powers of X. First issue showed us the new status quo for the X-Men, that they are, not taking over the world but pushing forward in evolution, forming their own society on Krakoa. The second issue shows how that all goes to shit in the future, jumping forward 10, 100, 1,000 years in the future where eventually machines take over and the machines and humans and mutants fight. And, basically the entire world is destroyed and recreated in the robots image, so, the mutants have lost.
Alex: The other thing that we got to see last issue, is we got to see a very brief scene between-
Pete: Very brief.
Alex: … Professor X and Moira MacTaggert, where she said, “read my mind, this has all happened before.” Now this issue goes back and fills in the gaps there and shows you what happened. Completely, this is massive spoilers, completely redefines Moira MacTaggert, the history of the X-Men, the history of the Marvel Universe, everything. I don’t want to get to hyperbolic here necessarily. But, this is a mind blowing issue, particularly if you are a fan of the X-men. This is the sort of issue where I kept looking back at it and reading it again and checking things. I ended up in a deep Wiki hole of history to make sure that things matched up. But, what Jonathan Hickman has managed to do here is weave through the entire continuity of the X-Men, Simplify it and add a new detail that doesn’t contradict anything, but also redefines everything. And that’s huge. Pete, what did you think about this book?
Pete: Well first, we got to back up the truck a little bit here and just say we had a stack, we had to read a bunch of stuff. And then, last minute you threw this thing at us, so I had to read this. Not a fan of this series-
Alex: You’re crazy.
Pete: … Hickman’s stuff is so dense. This guy was like, “you know what’s great about comics? Is the merging of words and pictures. You know what? Fuck pictures, I’m going to give you a fucking book that you got to read in the middle of this.”
Alex: Oh that’s crazy. The art is so good in this book.
Pete: Yeah well apparently he hates the artists because he’s not-
Pete: … he’s taking away work-
Alex: It’s also an extra long book-
Pete: … he’s taking away-
Alex: Extra long book.
Pete: … he’s taking away work from the artists.
Alex: No, count the pages.
Pete: He’s taking money out of the children of the poor artists who are trying to make a living in this world and he says, “fuck you”.
Alex: I will say-
Pete: Hey Hickman, write books if you want to write books.
Alex: … I will say, showing the artists children, a picture of them at the end? And them saying, “please sir, I’m hungry” that was a weird move.
Pete: That was bold.
Pete: That was bold, borderline dickish.
Alex: But, if you count the pages, it’s the same number of pages for the artists. You get additional pages of backstory that help flesh it out.
Pete: Yeah, it’s like, “hey I got this great pitch for you. If you ever thought what happens in between panels and then I’m going to go on a fucking crazy tangent, that fucking means nothing-
Alex: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Pete: … and will have no ramifications whatsoever. Fuck all this.”
Alex: I don’t want to to be rude. You are bat-
Pete: Hey you want me to take characters that you though you knew and loved and ruin them? Cool I’ll do that for you.
Alex: You loved Moira MacTaggert?
Alex: So, all right calm down Pete.
Pete: Yeah I know I’m going [inaudible 00:33:03].
Alex: Also, this is one of those books that if you are ignoring the word portions? You are missing massive chunks of exposition. So if you say that they don’t mean anything and they have no ramifications? They have massive ramifications for everything happening in the X-Men and the Marvel Universe.
Pete: I continue to not like this series or this idea.
Alex: I just want to mention, as he-
Pete: And I hope that it ends sooner rather than later.
Alex: It’s not, it’s going to go on for months and this is the new status quo. Now, our co-host Justin couldn’t be here.
Pete: Don’t read something from that piece of shit.
Alex: No, no, no, I’m not going to read it. I’m not, I promise I won’t read anything from him. I promise, okay? He just wanted to say something about this book though, okay?
Pete: So why? Why are you rewarding this guy for not being here?
Alex: Shh, shh.
Justin: No Pete, this book is great.
Alex: There you go. He just wanted to let you know that he agrees with me. So there you go.
Pete: Cool dude.
Alex: From beyond the grave. So actually I feel like I should change that to my ring tone.
Pete: Yeah. Anytime someone calls it says, “no Pete, this book is great.”
Alex: Yeah, just, Pete, say what you think of House of X again.
Pete: It’s a waste, I don’t like it.
Justin: No Pete, this book is great.
Pete: Aw look you’ve got a new toy.
Alex: This is great, I love it.
Pete: Alex is happy guys, he’s having fun.
Alex: I’m goin to sell this. I’m going to sell this in stores. I really, really like this a lot.
Pete: I just don’t like the idea of the X-Men being villains. I like them as super heroes, not villains. These books are painting them as bad people and this woman, cool interesting power, very unique. I like the way this started, but then she just kept doing weird, she was all over the board. You couldn’t tell who she was, she doesn’t know who she is. So she hooks up with Charles Xavier, great now I’m going to be super evil and then I’m going to go back and ruin Charles Xavier’s life.
Alex: Here’s, okay to give you the layout if you didn’t happen to read the book. What we find out is that Moira MacTaggert, spoiler 3-2-1, is in fact a mutant. Something that has been danced around in continuity, they’ve been very clear to have been like, “no, no, no she’s a human, just she hangs out consistently with mutants all the time.” Also, she’s the only human to contract the legacy virus, isn’t that weird? So this is something that is very well supported by everything that’s gone on. But, what I think, and it keeps changing every issue, and this is what I’m really liking about this series, is I wasn’t totally sold on the first issue of House of X. It felt like, to your point, I as an X-Men fan feel uncomfortable about the X-Men being villains or whatever is going on here, there’s something wrong. Like there’s something different, but there’s something wrong.
Pete: I don’t like paying off the humans to leave them alone. That’s a villain move.
Alex: Right, and I think that’s fine. I think that is the feeling you get from the first issue. The second issue you find out oh, whatever’s going on, they lose completely and the earth gets ruined.
Pete: Yup. Not cool X-men.
Alex: Not cool, but I like that a little bit more because that seems very consistent with the X-Men where they always put the earth in a situation where it gets more fucked than they left it. [crosstalk 00:36:25] they try to be heroes and things only get worse and worse. That’s one of the things that is intrinsic to being the X-Men comic books.
Alex: And then, this third issue. The reason that I am now all in as of this third issue is it is becoming clear to me, and I’m sure it’ll change by next issue, but what Jonathan Hickman is doing, is he is focusing on the different aspects of the X-Men and fleshing them out and building them into this uber story. And the thing here is evolution, he is taking it back to it’s base where Moira MacTaggert, every time she dies, she goes back and has the chance to evolve and change. And nine times, she completely fucks it up. Which, again, very classic X-Men. But she keeps doing these things where she’s like, “all right, I’m going to try it with Xavier” nope, it gets fucked up. “I’m going to try it with Magneto” nope, it gets fucked up, “I’m going to try it with Apocalypse” nope, it fucked up. And then she says, “you know what? I’m going to break the rules, I’m going to do something different” we don’t know what that thing is yet. We still don’t know what it is that she did differently that not sets them on this path that we now see them on in the quote unquote present.
Alex: That is what is exciting to me. Is that he is looking at evolution and mutant powers in a different way in this issue. The previous issue he’s looking at the whole Age of Apocalypse, Days of future past, playing with that. The first issue was playing with the whole Genoa, Krakoa, giant sized X-men thing. So he is touching on all of these things throughout X-Men history, finding new riffs and new ways of exploring them. And listen-
Pete: He’s also-
Alex: … hold on, it might all be too much at the end and completely fall apart. But this is, right now, three issues in, so ambitious and so fascinating it’s exciting.
Pete: Plus he’s working really hard to make Nimrod relevant.
Alex: I mean Nimrod is always relevant.
Pete: Fuck Nimrod.
Alex: He’s pink, he’s white, he looks like a big old crystal. I love that guy. He’s not in this issue. So thank you for bringing-
Pete: Yes he is.
Alex: … is he?
Pete: Yeah, you missed him. He was in the corner getting his ass kicked.
Alex: Oh, right. Yes, when they did the robot montage. There was Master Mold, there was the sentinels, there was Nimrod. Okay, yes. Absolutely. I cannot say enough good things about this, I am loving it.
Pete: I can’t say enough bad things about this.
Alex: You’re, hold up one second I fucking-
Pete: No, don’t pull that bullshit up again.
Alex: No, no. I think I have, just when you say-
Pete: Stop rewarding a guy who’s not even here.
Alex: All I’m saying is, what did you say? You said something about it-
Pete: I’m not going to tee you up you piece of shit.
Alex: You said it-
Pete: No. No.
Alex: … you can’t say enough bad things about it?
Pete: Ah la la la.
Justin: … this book is great.
Alex: I don’t know, my sound file-
Pete: No, no, no. It’s cool dude, reward a guy who doesn’t even show up to do podcasts. That’s a great way to live your life.
Alex: Thank you. I really appreciate you saying that Pete. And I’m going to take it at face value. Guys, thank you so much for listening into Pete and Alex fight about the X-Men. If you’d like to support this podcast, Patreon.com/comicbookclub. I’ll also be doing a live show every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. at The People’s Improv Theater loft in New York. Come on down, we will yell at you about the X-Men. Pete, what do you want to plug?
Pete: Friend us on Facebook so you get to know about the amazing guests we have on our live shows.
Alex: Follow us on Twitter at comic book live. Comicbooklive.com for this podcast and more. You can subscribe and comment on iTunes, stitcher, Spotify, android or the app of your choice. And we’ll see you next time. Real quick before we go (sings).
Pete: No, stop it. Stop, that’s not cool.
Alex: Pete stop slathering yourself in Venom comic books.
Pete: That’s not cool man.