On this week’s Stack podcast, check out reviews for: Seven Secrets #1, Dark Nights Death Metal #3, Something is Killing the Children #9, Empyre #5, The Flash #759, Adventureman #3, Marauders #11, Judge Dredd: False Witness #2, Wonder Woman #760, Big Girls #1, The Immortal Hulk #36, Stealth #4, The Amazing Spider-Man #46, Transformers: Galaxies #8 and Excellence #9.
Alex: What’s up, you all? Welcome to The Stack, I’m Alex.
Justin: I’m Justin.
Pete: I’m Pete.
Alex: And on The Stack, we’re talking about a bunch of books that have come out this very week. Kicking it off with a big new book from BOOM! Studios, Seven Secrets #1, written by Tom Taylor and illustrated by Daniele Di Nicuolo. Pete, I want to go to you first, because I was very surprised to hear, I think this was your favorite book of the week. Is that right?
Pete: It really was.
Pete: It is. It’s a great book, I love the art. It’s a very interesting idea, that there are seven secrets and they are highly guarded secrets. And people kind of like dedicate their lives to them. There’s this kind of like societies built around, protecting the secrets. I think it’s just a very creative idea, and fun, amazing art. A lot of action right out of the box. So, yeah, I think this is a great book. I’m very excited for more.
Justin: Yeah, I agree. This is really fun. It reminded me a lot of the Iron Fist run, that I want to say, Matt Fraction did which dealt with the…
Alex: I think it was Fraction and (Ed) Brubaker, right?
Justin: Yes, yes, that is accurate. Which got into all the different sort of fighting squads in doing battle throughout all of time. It has that same sort of dynamic art style, and feels like it’s very numerical, you’re chasing very specific things. So, I really like this.
Alex: Yeah, I thought this is great as well. I mean Tom Taylor is such, such a reliable writer and Daniele Di Nicuolo almost has like this Proto, Manga style in a way, where feels more detailed than that in terms of the fight, but the propulsive nature of the action suggests that a little bit. There’s also a really good emotional underpinning, that I won’t spoil for any or somebody who’s planning on reading of the book.
My only little quibbled with it…
Pete: Hey, watch yourself.
Alex: All that… It reminded me a little bit in pacing of Wynd from BOOM! Studios, another book we really liked a lot. But both of them felt like… Just to take like a very broad view, back in the day, you had these ‘done in one issue’, right? People still do aim for done in one issue, then you had (Brian Michael) Bendis came along with Ultimate Spider-Man and this whole decompression, and aiming for the trade thing. Both Wynd and Seven Secrets which I both like a lot, seem almost different in a way where it’s not decompression for the trade, so much as here are the first 20 pages of the story. Where they ended places, where it’s like not even the of a chapter, exactly, so much is it almost feels in the middle of a chapter. and I need to read the second issue to understand more of what’s going on. I don’t know if you guys got that same feeling for that.
Justin: No, I hear you. Especially in Wynd.
Pete: That’s a very weird thing to say, but, okay.
Justin: No, but I get it from a storytelling perspective, it’s like we’ve talked about writing for the trade for almost the entire run of our podcast, and this is taking it to the next level. It’s like literally writing the trade, and then chopping it up with like a butcher’s knife, and here’s the first issue.
Alex: Yeah, which is, it’s a good first issue, and I highly recommend picking it up. But it just, it needs more, for me.
Pete: I don’t… Yeah, I disagree. I think the ending was a fucking crazy ending and it’s a kind of fun place to leave it off until next time.
Alex: It’s good. It’s a good book. Definitely pick it up. That’s why we wanted to lead with it.
Next up, Dark Nights: Death Metal #3 from DC Comics written by Scott Snyder and art by Greg Capullo. Talk about wild. This is a wild ride to through the DC Universe. The heroes of the DC Universe are being completely beaten down by the Batman Who Laughs, who now is the Dark Knight, I think he’s called.
Justin: The Darkest Knight.
Alex: Yeah, there we go… Because he has Doctor Manhattan powers. They’re trying to stave off the death of the Multiverse as usual, as you do. And so, they’ve invaded Apocalypse to go and rescue Superman in this issue. Some other things happen. How’d did you feel about this?
Pete: Now this is just a fun comic. Like by the title it’s like, Dark Nights: Death Metal. Like let’s take this, what we know and love, and just turn it to 11. You got para Robins; you’ve got like insane crazy ideas. Everything is fun and over the top about this. You’ve got Superman with like knuckle-dusters on. I mean this is just crazy fun that like you know, just makes the young kid inside of you excited about what you’re seeing on the page.
Justin: The way you even structure your review, Pete, reminds me of Stefon on SNL, which is actually sort of a good description of this book. But it’s like you want to go to the craziest night club in the DC Universe.
Justin: You’ve got Batman a dinosaurs, you’ve got a dwarf riding another Batman. And that’s literally what this is, it’s like a million ideas jammed up in a blender and spread out over a crisis style storyline line. And I like it as well. It’s like they took a hammer to the Elseworld’s annual crossover from like the late ‘90s, smashed up all those bits, jammed them together, and we’re like, “This is an event we’re actually going to spend some time in.”
And this issue, especially, I thought was super fun. All the Superman stuff was great. The Mister Miracle escape, all that. I…
Pete: Yeah. The use of Mister Miracle is amazing. The dark side of Batman was crazy. Like seeing Wonder Woman with like a metal ass chainsaw. It was just so badass.
Justin: I could do with a few less Batman, let me just say that.
Alex: Yes, it is… We’re reaching critical mass with Batman, and I think they would kind of realized that to the point where Harley Quinn is like, “Man, he’s really good with branding”, and just calling that out. And I think like that’s the sort of cheeky self-awareness that makes this work, because it’s Scott Snyder realizing how ludicrously over the top it is. Everything that’s going on and leaning into that, versus saying, “No, no, no. This is serious stuff here. Okay, there’s a lot of Batman.” It doesn’t feel… The stakes are high, but it doesn’t feel serious at any point, and I think that’s good. Like that gets into you.
One of my favorite characters from Scott Snyder’s run, we get Jarro the pint-sized Starro [overlap talk] who think Batman is his dad.
Pete: Come on.
Alex: It’s great. It’s super fun, and cute.
Justin: It’s so funny.
Alex: That’s enjoyable. I do want to ask you guys…
Pete: The all hands in moment was fun.
Alex: Super fun. I did feel like this issue was a little more expository than I would’ve liked. There was a lot of standing around and be like, “Okay, real quick, here’s what we need to do, and here’s what’s going on. This is complicated. I’m just going to bring you up to speed”, in between the fun moments.
But there was a hint that there’s something else going on with both Batman and Superman, where they turn to each other in the middle, after they freed Superman. And I think it’s Superman says, “Does Diana know about you?” And Batman says, “No. Does she know about you?” So, what do you think’s going on with them? What is the deal?
Justin: I don’t know, that moment it stressed me out little bit because it… To me, not to be the Pete in the situation…
Justin: But it made me feel like it’s going to be like, “Did you tell her that this is all a simulation that’s happening?” “No, I didn’t tell her. Did you?” It felt like a ‘too cool for school secret’ that I don’t want to disrupt the flow just when I’m really getting into the flow of the book.
Pete: Yeah, yeah.
Alex: Yeah. I could see something like that. I mean my big thought is that Batman is already dead. That he died, that’s why he’s running around with the Black Lantern Ring. That’s why he was able to escape the omega beams, that hit him from the Dark Side Batman. I don’t know what Superman’s secret is, but to me that feels like the most reasonable thing that could happen to him, and that would be sad for Diana because they essentially have already lost.
Pete: Well, but like this is, it sort of exists in the dark Multiverse. So, it’s the flip flop of everything. So, maybe that’s the win, the fact that they’re already dead or there’s something, where it’s going to be something with emotional resonance, like them being dead, but that is actually the victory they find or the loophole they escape through.
Alex: I mean, I think you kind of just said this, but what if the whole thing is in the Dark Multiverse? What if they’re not in the Real Multiverse at all but this is just where the heroes have lost already, and this the flip side of the story to show them the way that things could’ve have gone horribly wrong.
Justin: Yeah, I mean that to me… Because all this hype about like this is the real continuity. I’m like, “I don’t need that.” This is just as good a story if it takes place in a Dark Multiverse, but I think what emerges from that I guess is what the lesson is. It’s are we going to get this Superman in the world or some version of these characters.
Alex: Good fun stuff.
Moving on, Something is Killing the Children #9 from BOOM! Studios written by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Werther Dell’Edera. If you happen to read this book Something is Killing the Children, it’s a bunch of monsters. They like to eat children. And there’s one woman who may or may not be able to stop them. In this issue, she trying to appeal to a young boy who has previously been attacked by the monsters to try and act as bait for them.
Man, this book is so good. So, well drawn, so well written. This is almost the opposite of what I was saying with Seven Secrets where it’s like not a lot happens every issue but it feels so weighted every single time.
Justin: Yeah, there’s just a creeping dread all the time, and we get little dribs and drabs of backstory each time. It’s really interesting, and also really horrifying, the stuff that happens. The adults feel like they’re crippled and stuck in place the entire time. There’s a whole section about like, “I’m just handing out beers, because I don’t know what else to do.” While the kids are either being murdered or trying to act against these monsters. And the sort of reveal, at the end, is interesting and maybe spins the story in a different direction.
Pete: Yeah, I mean this is a very interesting comic. Each issue has been a fun surprise of like, what’s kind of in store. In this one, we kind of get her back story, the main hunter’s backstory and it’s very cool the way it’s told. I really love the paneling and the art of this book. It’s just very unique and cool. And I think this is one of my favorites in this stack. It’s really great every time we get to read this.
Alex: I agree. Let’s move back to Marvel for Empyre #5 story by Dan Slott and Al Ewing, written by Al Ewing, art by Valerio Schiti. And when I say move back to Marvel, this is the first time we’re talking about Marvel in The Stack. I thought here’s another on…
So, this is the second to the last issue of Empyre, Marvel’s big events, which is plants versus zombies. In this, the Cotati, a plant race, has been attacking Earth. They want to take over the Earth and the entire universe. The Kree and Skrull are trying to stop them. But in the middle of all of that whole Hulkling has been leading the Kree and the Skrull army, except not really. There’s actually somebody masquerading as him, Wiccan who secretly married him. Figured that out the last issue.
That’s where they pick up this issue, with both that, and the fact, that She-Hulk, who has been taken over by one of these plant creatures, and is supposedly dead is attacking the Thing. So, lots of stuff going on here. As we round up this event, how are you feeling about it?
Pete: Well this issue, I’m like, “All right now, things are happening.” Like things are really cooking now. I feel like I’m just starting to get into this event. But this was a great issue; a lot happened. It’s sad though we didn’t address the She-Hulk stuff yet, but I feel like this had a great amount of kind of like story mixed with action and the weight of everything happening. I really like this issue.
Justin: I like this issue too. It really is… I’m so surprised it’s ending already. It does feel like it’s just ramping up. It feels so short to go right into the final movement right here. I really like that they folded in the wedding between Hulkling and Wiccan, as sort of a main story point. Like that feels really good. But I feel like I need two more issues to really elevate the stakes. And if the She-Hulk death is like the whole thing here, it’s like… I don’t know, it feels a little disjointed.
Pete: I… Oh, I’m sorry…
Alex: All I was going to say is, this struck me over the past couple of issues but it really started to hit me with this one. And I know this isn’t a TV show, so it’s the wrong term, but there’s not enough sets in this book. Like it takes place…
Pete: Ha… Weird.
Alex: It takes place on the alien ship mostly, where they really haven’t left the throne room that Hulkling is in. And then there’s a couple of glimpses of other places that they go to that mostly seem motivated by what’s happening in the spin offs side stories.
So, we get a bunch of stuff at Wakanda, but it’s more like here’s an overview of what’s happening in other places, and then Tony Stark and Reed Richards are just hanging out in Avengers Mountain and putting together a suit.
So, like you guys are saying every issue of this is good and fun. Dan Slott and Al Ewing know what they’re doing. Valero Schiti’s art is very good superhero art, but there’s not a lot going on, which is surprising.
Pete: Yeah… So first of, I want to say I’m sorry Wakanda is not enough for you. Secondly, I love…
Alex: Hey, what can you, Wakanda do about that?
Justin: Oh, boy.
Pete: Anyways… I really love The Thing stuff in here like this. Like when you’re talking about a classic fight and this whole thing about giving up. I thought that was a perfect kind of monologue for The Thing to have. I really thought it was a cool bad ass moment.
Alex: Yeah, I agree The Thing stuff is good, the character stuff is good, like I was saying it’s well written, it’s well drawn. I just want a little more out of a big cosmic event.
Justin: Yeah, of course, the small moments are great and you would expect that out of these writers, but like when you think about the great epic crossovers like Infinity Gauntlet, every issue a massive event happened, and you really felt the movement of the book.
And to your point Alex, there aren’t a lot of sets; the movement has been very small. And you want those big sweeping moments like remember that… I want to say fifth issue of Infinity Gauntlet, when all of the beings of the universe showed up and it was like, “holy shit”. It felt huge, and this feels small.
Alex: Maybe part of it is the name. They’ve been selling it as this big event. They’ve been building up for a while. They called it Empyre, and so far, the Cotati haven’t done anything. Like they’re trying to take over Earth, but we don’t get to actually see them really taking over Earth. Not to armchair write this but I want to see them take over Earth in issue one, and then expand outward from that like what happens next how what happens when they start to actually take over the universe make this a big thing and it just I don’t know it feels small. Next up, Dryad #4 from Oni Press, written by Curtis Wiebe and illustrated by Justin Osterling. We launched this in a live show, but we are setting up an interview with the creative team. So, check for that in your local Comic Book Club feed.
But this book is great and wild, every issue. We talked about it as the heir to Saga very purposely. I think, in the promotional materials, they call it the Saga Continues for the next issues. But if you haven’t been reading, it started off as a fantasy story. It’s about two parents, take their kids, hide out in a fantasy style town. Turns out, it’s not really a fantasy world; it’s actually a tech world with some fantasy looking creatures. Magic has disappeared, except the dad actually has magic.
And last issue, they got picked up by a mercenary team, and taken back to the city that they’ve fled from, that’s where they had this issue. Things go terribly wrong for there. I just don’t know what this book is, from issue to issue, and I love it. I love it.
Justin: Yeah, it’s mixing up a lot of stuff in a good way though it’s moving through it very specifically in a smart way. I’m totally on board with it. The Saga comparison is great. I that we’ve made that… I think it also reminds me of Ascender and Descender as well; the image book. Because it is blending that science and magic worlds.
Pete: Yeah, I just think it’s very interesting the way each issue is so different. This one is very action packed and a lot of crazy stuff going on. So, it’s very cool when you pick up a book and you think you’re like you have an understanding of it and it still surprises you.
Alex: Good stuff. Let’s move on to The Flash #759, from DC Comics, written by Joshua Williamson art by Rafa Sandoval and Scott Kolins. This kicking off finish line, which is technically Joshua Williamson’s, I believe, last arc on The Flash. Something he teased way back when he was on our live show. So, this is something he’s been building to for a really long time. Reverse Flash, Professor Zoom, has taken over Barry Allen’s body, stranded him in the Speed Force, and meanwhile, he’s trying to turn all of his friends against him.
I know you guys aren’t really into the speedsters. I, of course, enjoyed this issue because I love the speedsters. Love Bart Allen, like seeing him interacting with Barry and everybody else. What’d you guys feel about this one?
Pete: Well, I felt like we had, the art’s unbelievable. And then, we had like an evil Flash messing with a younger big haired Flash, and then all old timey Flash was like, “Leave them damn kids alone.”
Alex: Oh, it was great, what a great cliff-hanger.
Justin: Yep, what a great summary of the book. Almost like a live reading of it.
Alex as such a fan of the speedsters, does this make you like do wind sprints or does this make you sort of speed up in your own life.
Alex: I never stop moving when I read this book.
Alex: Like I’m just, I’m going, going, going, the entire time.
Justin: Always on your treadmill that doesn’t travel through time. Your very terrestrial…
Alex: My comic treadmill. [overlap talk]
Justin: Ah, that’s good stuff.
Pete: Oh, boy.
Justin: I like this. I love Impulse, one of my favorite characters in the original comic, way back in the day. So, it’s great to see him here and sort of getting a little bit of an emotional moment, which I think is something that’s been missing from the character of Bart Allen for a while.
It’s sad to see Barry Allen being such a jerk.
Alex: Yep. There you go… Next up, Adventureman #3 from Image Comics written by Matt Fraction, pencils and colors by Terry Dodson, inks by Rachel Dodson. This about a woman who discovers that the old timey pulp hero, she loves and obsessed with, was actually real. She becomes the heir to his power and his mysteries and everything else.
In this issue, she’s dealing with that in some very weird ways.
As it turns out, she’s just getting real buff and larger. And getting information that is powered by the pulp stories that powered Adventureman. This is great. I love seeing Matt Fraction just having fun and also clearly just leaning into letting the Dodson’s do their stuff.
Pete: Yeah, yeah. This is what, I mean if you’re going to say… The art is worth picking this up alone. I mean this is definitely…
Alex: If I was going say that Pete?
Pete: If anybody was going to say it. I’m just saying…
Justin: If any one of the three of us were to hypothetically say that…
Let’s call it a catch phrase.
Pete: Yeah. I feel like… This story is good, but really, it’s just fantastic art, and it’s so weird the way we’re kind jumping between worlds and stuff. But I’m very interested in the story. I think it moves really well. We’re kind of finding things out with the main character, which is cool. But yeah, it’s interesting. I’m curious to see how this kind of unfolds.
Justin: The main character grows 15 inches in her time. What would happen with you guys if one of you or both of you grew 15 inches
Alex: Whew. I would probably scratch against the ceiling, first of all, in this basement where I’m taping right now.
Justin: [chuckle] That’s right, because you’re already six two, right?
Alex: Yeah, I’m very tall, as you guys know.
Justin: Maybe you have grown this much. We don’t even know.
Alex: That’ll probably hurt a lot, right? Justin, you probably know this, but when my kids grow, they go crazy, like literally, insane.
Justin: Yeah… When children grow, they scream the entire time, right?
Alex: Yup, pretty much.
Justin: That’s what happening with my kids… Pete, if you grew, you’d be mad, though, because you like to be Wolverine sized.
Pete: Yeah, I like to be short. But I would say if I would’ve have grown 15 inches maybe like during high school, that would’ve been glorious. Really could’ve changed my volleyball career.
Alex: Too many inches… Too many inches, I don’t like it.
Justin: Also, I’d like a longer definition of volleyball career, eventually, but that’s cool… It’s cool for now.
I like this comic a lot. I think we’ve given sort of the crown of cleanest comic to a TV or movie adaptation to Kieron Gillen’s Once and Future. I think we can share that crown with this book. It feels like very much writing it for the eventual TV show or movie that this would become.
Alex: Yeah, and Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick have that TV production arm, Neutral Milk Hotel or whatever it’s called…
Justin: [chuckle] Whoa… Hipster slam…
Pete: Hipster slam…
Alex: Yuhhh… Got you guys, know I love you. I think you’re amazing. We’re happy over your house, once. It was very nice.
Marauders #11 from Marvel Comics, written by Gerry Duggan and art by Stefano Caselli.
Pete: The Duggs!
Alex: This is… Man, this cover, so nervous with this cover. You know I love the Kate Pryde, man. I was really nervous, man,
Pete: Yeah, man.
Alex: I was really freaking out, it was tweaking here.
Justin: It’s game over man.
Alex: Game over, Red. So, Kate Pryde was killed off a couple of issues back, by Sebastian Shaw on a boat. She wasn’t coming back. She wasn’t allowed to Krakoa. They couldn’t reincarnate her in a new body. That’s what this issue is dealing with. I’ll spoil it right here… Three, two, one… Kate Pryde comes back!
They figure out how to get her back. It turns out that she wasn’t able to phase through their eggs, and all that Emma needs to do is pull her through. I’ll tell you what, I love that Gerry Duggan is pushing the ‘frenemy-ship’ or whatever you want to call it between Emma Frost and Kate Pryde. So much fun, I’m glad she’s back. I know there’s more mysteries to figure out but this a good book. I enjoyed it.
Pete: I got some questions.
Alex: Yeah, what up, Pete?
Pete: So, we get kind of, she has like a Viking funeral, do they purposely kind of make her look like Michael Jackson… In the boat? Or is that just me…
Justin: Let me ask you, Pete…
Pete: Like it was a weird choice, for she has like the kind of red jacket, and then the quarters over eyes or half dollars…
Alex: Oh yeah, like how Michael Jackson always had half dollars over his eyes?
Pete: No, but I mean it looks like a Michael Jackson outfit.
Justin: Like Captain Eel?
Pete: Yeah, I’m just… Maybe it’s just me…
Pete: But anyways…
Justin: Let me argue… Maybe say, Pete… I feel like maybe you’re looking… If you guys have an X-Men book, you’re maybe looking for something to… I believe it’s called nit-pick?
Pete: Oh, interesting.
Justin: Or Pete-pick?
Pete: You know, I don’t… Yeah, I mean, so we see a funeral, and then it’s like me really like, “No, no… “ It was just the we didn’t figure out the eggs part, right? Which, “Okay, cool, cool” but then there was this weird moment where it was like, “Yeah, it took 18 eggs.”… “Oh, so she’s 18 now?” Like that was a weird pervy moment.
Alex: Hold on. First of all, A) definitely misinterpreting that. But I did want to ask about that moment just because it’s Nightcrawler calls out that they tried to resurrection her 18 times. I did a quick search for that because it seemed to me that was like some sort of religious thing that I wasn’t picking up on. I couldn’t find anything on it. I don’t know if you guys know if there’s anything from non-Judaism? I want to say Christianity or Catholicism… But something that is about 18 resurrections? Is there anything about that?
Pete: No. Not that I know… That’s just why I thought it was something about her age or something because she’s always been younger.
Alex: No, it’s not about the age. It’s definitely about like the 18 resurrections. So, I don’t know if it means that there’s like 18 Kate Pryde bodies out there that Nightcrawler’s going to find, or if that is a specific reference to something. It was definitely a weird moment, but it was not a creepy age moment.
Pete: Okay, well it’s definitely a weird moment that stuck out to me.
Justin: I would say we’re not the most theological podcast hosts, when it comes to doing a deep dive on a religious reference.
Alex: Sure… Pizza priest though.
Justin: Pizza priest… No, pizza, pizza priest.
Alex: Yehey, pizza priest.
Pete: Yeah… Have a pizza priest. I’m not a regular priest.
Justin: Nice… I don’t know the reference. I did like this book. I liked the position Kate Pryde had in the X-Men world where she was sort of ‘outsided’ and not allowed. It’s a good mystery. I don’t know if that’s over now, or what the deal is going forward. But I think this book is a fun sort of side book to the X-Men universe right now.
Alex: Yeah, I agree. Stefano Caselli’s art is always good.
Let’s move on to Judge Dredd: False Witness #2 from IDW, story by Brandon Easton, art by Zei Kama, excuse me, Kei Zama. I think we have some pretty nice things to say about this book last time, which is why I thought it would be interesting to revisit. This is somebody on the outskirts, who lives in the wastelands outside of Mega-City One, comes into the city finds out that him and other people like him are being harvested. And that’s where we pick up this issue.
He continues to run very parallel to the storyline with Judge Dredd. But I like this book. I think, I’m surprised how much I like this book because I’m not the usual Judge Dredd fan. But I think it’s doing a good job of channeling social commentary storytelling character along the way, even though you do have these two characters that really have not met yet at all.
Justin: I feel like a lot a book we’ll talk about in a little bit, Transformers book, and a lot of like books that have been around for a long time that maybe need a little reinvention. I think there’s been a lot of smart takes, and this feels like right in that line where it’s like, “Let’s look at these characters from a different angle and find a new story here.” I don’t know what… so I like this. It remind me of a show called Exosquad… You guys ever watch Exosquad back in the day?
Alex: No… I’ve heard the name.
Justin: Pete, no?
Pete: Nothing. Yeah, I don’t know what you’re talking…
Justin: Cartoon… Very cool.
Pete: What’s it about? Help me out.
Justin: It’s a lot like, sort of pilots of these mech-suits. They have cool haircut. There’s a lot of good relationships in it. It’s fun.
Justin: It’s in the world in the sort of the style of Starcom, you ever watch that?
Pete: No. No.
Justin: I guess maybe I grew up in a different Multiverse.
Pete: Yeah. I guess so.
Alex: This does feel like stuff that is right across to play for you, Pete. I’m surprised you don’t know it.
Pete: Yeah, yeah. I mean you can’t watch every cartoon, I guess.
Justin: That’s true.
Pete: Yeah, I would like to try, I would like to try, yeah. I just want this to kind of get going. I thought this was really cool comic I do like this, but I wanted the main characters to kind of come together a little bit it. It seemed a little too side story, but I really think it’s very cool. Art’s great.
Alex: Let’s move on to something that was a huge surprise for me in a very pleasant way. Wonder Woman #760 from DC Comics, written by Mariko Tamaki, art by Mikel Janin. So, Wonder Woman is, at least initially, going up against Maxwell Lord, thinks Maxwell Lord is brain washing a bunch of people in the city. By the end, things seem to be going at a very different direction. Mariko Tamaki is… On such a roll.
Alex: Just with writing, with her storytelling, with every that’s going on. This is one of the better Wonder Woman arcs I think I’ve read in a very long time.
I love that it’s not mining the Greek Gods stuff anymore, or anything like that. But it still feels very emotionally grounded. And man, Mikel Janin’s art is gorgeous.
Pete: So good.
Justin: Yeah, the art is so good in this. How about that cute rabbit… I mean damn.
Justin: Yeah, Melanie the Rabbit, I believe is the name.
Alex: Yeah… I also want to call out the cover, which is one of the best covers I’ve seen in a really long time.
Pete: Yeah, I just Wonder Woman, like kind of talking shit to robots. I loved it.
Justin: Well what I liked about this and a lot of Mariko Tamaki’s work is, rather than… I feel there’s such a trend in trying to scoop up every aspect of the characters and trying to like mash it up and be like, “This is what it all means.” and I think that’s just, it’s so much work when this is just a great story that is like scoping up some aspects, and being like, “Here are the things about Wonder Woman I want to talk about,” and then telling that story. And I think this is great.
If you’re a fan of Alias, the (Brian Michael) Bendis book from back in the day, the Jessica Jones character… I think feel like there’s a connection point there, especially with the Purple Man stuff, in this book.
Pete: Yeah, yeah. You got the creepy mind control guy. But yeah, I really think the art is great. We get the pair of demons, there’s a lot of fun stuff going on. But yeah, the writing is the real hero. This is very interesting. I’m excited to see where this goes.
Alex: Let’s roll out to a new book from Image Comics, Big Girls #1, story and art by Jason Howard. This is about a world where some children are growing to gigantic size, men grow into monsters, women usually grow into gigantic helpful people… There’s one…
Justin: That’s such a true statement.
Alex: Yeah. A gigantic helpful woman who is trying to hold back the monsters. And that’s basically what you get in the first issue, as well as some moral quandaries. I overall like this, but had some concerns about it. Curious to hear what you guys think though.
Pete: Yeah, there was a kind of a real fucked up moment in the book.
Pete: That I was like, “Yeah, I don’t know if you can come back from that.” But it’s a fun premise. It’s cool. The art’s great. I’m excited to see where this goes but it’s an interesting enough story that I’m definitely going to pick up the next issue.
Justin: Yeah, I agree that. It felt like, of all the comics we read and cite, it’s so hard to have a premise that feels super fresh, and then executing it in a way that invites you in with the characters. And I think this book does a good job of that and it’s a fun surprising idea, and it’s such a visual idea that I think is well done. And the emotional hit that… I guess we’re not spoiling… It was sort of harsh.
Pete: Yeah… It was very harsh
Justin: Especially, the way the story was told where that harsh moment happened, and then the reason why it happened came after, which I think was smart from a storytelling perspective, but a little more difficult to read.
Pete: Yeah. It was tough on the reader.
Alex: I’m curious to see where they go with this one, because my big concern about it was, I love the idea that men grow up to be monsters, women are the only people who could protect us… Like there’s so much metaphor that you can mine there, and I think it hasn’t quite gotten there yet and it also muddies the ground a lot with the reveal at the end of the issue, which again, I won’t spoil here.
So, it’s going to be interesting to see what Jason Howard has to say with this comic, and how he says it. Particularly, because he is a man saying something about misogyny, so I don’t know. There’s a lot of opportunity with this book, and I’m very excited to see where it goes. Jason Howards aren’t always very good, but again, I’m a little concerned/nervous about what direction it might head in.
Justin: I really thought earlier on, that you’re going to say, “Oh, it’s like men are from Mars and women, they’re from Venus.”
Alex: Yeah. Have you thought about that?… Have you thought about it?
Immortal Hulk #36 from Marvel, written by Al Ewing and art by Joe Bennett. Man, this book is fucked up bad. Oh my god.
Alex: It’s fucked up… Hulk is now, Dumb Hulk, and Rick is evil, and turned into to a horrible monster. Absorbing Man is getting ripped into pieces. Horrible things are happening all the time.
Pete: I can’t take this anymore… I’m tapping out. I want my Hulk back. I can’t… This was cool for a little while, guys. But it’s getting weird now.
It’s getting really weird now, guys.
Justin: I still love this book. I’m very excited for the story line coming with a leader; I feel like we’re leading up to.
Alex: Well, I think the leader is inside of Rick, right?
Justin: Yeah, but it’s like… Well the trap hasn’t been fully sprung; I feel like.
Justin: But I also think another title for this book would be, Everybody’s Clay Face…?
Justin: In a lot of ways… And to Pete’s point, how does Hulk come back from this and go back to being just a regular old dude?
Pete: I just… Yeah… I can’t anymore.
Alex: I feel like they’re already doing it though, right? Like there was no way they were going to keep Hulk out of crossovers and showing up in other books. I wish they had. I wish they could’ve kept it in this own pocket thing. But they’ve already had him show up, and be like, “Yeah, I’m the Asshole Hulk, let me help you.”
It just doesn’t quite work at all. But to your point, Justin… Like particularly, Joe Bennett’s art is… Shade. The splash page towards the beginning that reveals the twisted monstrous Rick…
Pete: No… no…
Alex: Is nightmarish like literally out of a nightmare and it’s… amazing. It’s great stuff.
Pete: It’s too much.
Alex: Stealth #4 from Image Comics.
Pete: They’ve gone too far.
Alex: [chuckle] Stealth #4 from Image Comics written by Mike Costa and art by Nate Bellegarde… I don’t know why I can’t pronounce that name. So, this is starting to wrap up. This story about a man who has this powerful like Dark Hawk-esk armor, the stealth armor. He is suffering for dementia. It may be because of the armor, maybe not. His son is trying to track him down and save him/help him/slash stop him
Meanwhile, there’s a two-faced… Half-faced, I guess, gangster…
Pete: Half a face.
Alex: Half a face, who’s trying to kill him. This book is so good. And particularly, Nate Bellegarde’s pacing…
Alex: That’s between like amazing action and hilarious moments. Particularly in this issue, that are wonderful.
Justin: And just, there’s a couple of panels… This guy gets shot, sort of halfway, maybe in the two thirds away through the book. And it’s just… It’s so surprisingly done that it really sticks with you. A lot of the angles that that he chooses to draw the characters from are so good. It’s just a great book.
Pete: Yeah, it’s really awesome. There’s some real cool fight sequence stuff like this one guy gets his leg kicked in, that was really brutal. But also, what’s tough for me is to see a sweet white Lincoln get destroyed. And that was that was tough. That was tough to watch.
But this is a great book. Fun design on the villain, it keeps getting more and more interesting, and yeah, I’m very, very much enjoying this book.
Alex: Great stuff… Amazing Spider-Man #46 from Marvel written by Nick Spencer, and art by Marcelo Ferreira. It’s continuing with the Sins Rising storyline where the Sin-Eater is back. Turns out the Sin-Eater is maybe not exactly what you think he is, and he is attacking villains. And in this issue, maybe be making them better, maybe making them worse, not entirely clear.
Justin, you were very excited about this issue talk about it a little bit.
Justin: I can’t believe the turn that Nick Spencer’s taken this book on. After doing such a light hearted Spider-Man, and then now the Sin-Eater story, the set-up issues, and then getting here, it’s like so much more topical, so much more like satirical. And it’s just, these panels where Sin-Eater kills this villain and then we get this moment where the crowd starts clapping… It was devastating, and it felt like it just, it activated all of my stress about our world in a way. And Pete, to you, I don’t know what you think about this. But it feels like an indictment of the Punisher, and that whole… His whole world…
Pete: Yeah, yeah. I mean they’re like basically booing people who clap at violence. You know what I mean? But it’s also tough because it’s like there’s violence in comics, and there’s real life. But this is supposedly real life and they’re saying that like people would enjoy killing in real life, which I don’t think, if you like the Punisher that’s not what you’re saying in life. I mean there might be people out there like that. But I think it’s nice to have a person like the Punisher fighting a good fight, instead of like going through things in normal way. It’s a creative outlet for things and your anger, or this is saying people are too dark…
People are too fucked up, the world is too fucked up. And this is very depressing. I’m very surprised that you like this issue. This is my least favorite.
You got Spider-Man kind of shaken to his core being like, “I can’t believe everybody clapped. What kind of world this is? I don’t feel like the quippy self, happy go lucky Spider-Man.” And it’s kind of like the darkness of the world is affecting Spider-Man here.
Justin: I love that though. I think that is what… It feels like Nick Spencer is channeling the world around him, and being like, “This world feels darker than I ever thought it was.” And Spider-Man doesn’t have a place in that world, in this world. And he’s showing that in the story, and using this Sin-Eater as a way of talking about that, I think, is just so smart. I really love this story.
Alex: It’s definitely very surprising and going in different directions.
Let’s move on and talk about Transformers Galaxies #8 from IDW, written by Sam Maggs, art by Beth McGuire-Smith and Umi Miyao. This is something that I think we were very surprised about the last issue. This is about a young Transformer on a ship that is escaping from Cybertron, turns out things are not exactly what they seem. This issue where he… He? She? I don’t know, bro?… Yep…
Pete: It’s a robot.
Alex: A robot has met up with Arcee and Greenlight to the Transformers, who revealed the truth about what’s going on. And course, everybody is being brainwashed, they’re trying to… they’re the baddies, and yeah, that’s kind what it follows. Another really good issue of this title just because it grounds the emotion of the Transformers which I am very impressed by.
Justin: Yeah, I agree. I love this. This feels like a Twilight Zone or a Black Mirror version of a Transformers story. It’s tense. It’s sort of stressful. It gets into like philosophy, religion, and it’s just really well done.
Pete: Yeah, it’s very interesting. It’s cool, this kind of series, characters kind of find this information struggle within stuff. I think this as, it’s hard because I keep wanting there to be more Transformers that I know, you know what I mean?
They talk about Cybertron, and all that kind of stuff, and Primus… But like I keep wanting to see like a different Transformers that I know from the ‘80s, and from the cartoons, and stuff like that… But the fact that they’re telling this kind of more original story is very cool.
Justin: You want them to turn into cars.
Pete: No, I just want like Laserbeak to be in the background, spying on them or you know something else.
Justin: Would you say there’s more than meets the eye here?
Pete: Oh yeah, there is more.
Justin: One more question…
Alex: The thing I…
Justin: Oh, go ahead… You go ahead…
Alex: No, no, please I want to I hear your question.
Justin: No, it’s just definitely unrelated [chuckle].
Alex: My question is also unrelated, so you go ahead.
Justin: Okay, great. Well then, let me ask you… Pete, as a pizza priest, are you marrying slices back together or how does that work? Are you a priest, two slices of pizza? Or are you bringing the good word of pizza to the people?
Pete: I’m doing both. I am bringing slices together. I’m am also, trying to make sure that people know about the good pizza, are partaking in some good pizza.
Alex: Do you ever take two slices of pizza, and hold one on each hand, and say, “I now pronounce you”, and then slapped them together and say, “Calzone!”
Pete: No no, I wouldn’t do that. That’s sacrilege.
Alex: Got you… Back to the Transformer book, the main thing that I was thinking about the entire issue, do Transformers kiss? And when they kiss does it sound terrible? Like because they’re two like…
Justin: Metal on metal.
Alex: Yeah, like two cars smashing into each other.
Pete: Yeah, but it doesn’t sound bad to them.
Alex: Right, but would it sound bad to us humans?
Pete: Yes. Yeah, sure.
Justin: Like when cars kiss, we call it an accident.
Pete: Yeah, it’s loud.
Alex: That’s true.
Last book we’re talking about Excellence #9 from Image Comics created and written by Brandon Thomas, created in art by Khary Randolph. I know we have talked about every issue of this book. But every issue of this book is absolutely insane.
Alex: Oh my god, so good.
Justin: So, good.
Alex: This issue we have our main character who’s been trying to start a magic revolution. Travels to a library to gather information, and finds out he is way out of his depth. He is doing this way to soon, but now it is too late because he has already started the revolution.
God, I love how direct every issue is in terms of the story it’s telling.
And also, of course, Khary Randolph’s art is out of control.
Pete: It’s bananas. The character designs are fantastic. It’s got like an old-school hip hop vibe to it. It’s glorious. The panel work is… This is just such a fun book.
Justin: Yeah. This book… We talk about it so much, please check this book out it is… I’m trying to think of… Because the art isn’t like reminiscent of a particular other style, it just encapsulates so much of just great comic book art from very still, emotional panels to super dynamic action panels. It’s just a real textbook book on great comic book art, as on the writing and art side.
Alex: There’s a thing that happens… I will now spoil something that happens in the issue, but as he comes into the library, he sees a bunch of grannies who were looking at him, and he’s like, “That’s weird they never looked at me before.” When he messes up, they all pop up and they’re like, “Oh, that’s it. You fucked up. We’re taking you down son.” And there’s a panel where there’s just all three of them floating in the air about to attack him that I think I shouted, “Oh, shit!”, out loud when I was reading it.
It’s great. The action in this book is great. It’s so tense. It’s so creative. Definitely picking up.
And that’s it for The Stack. If you like to support us, Patreon.com/comicbookclub. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday to Crowdcast and YouTube. Come, hangout, and chat about comic books with us… iTunes, Android, Spotify, Stitcher or the app of your choice, to subscribe and listen to the show. ComicBookClubLive.com for this podcast or at Comic Book Live on Twitter. Come chat with us.
And that’s it. We’ll see you next time at the Virtual Comic Book Shop.
Pete: I now pronounce you, pepperoni and mushrooms.
It’s a good combo.