The Stack: X Of Swords, Speed Metal And More
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On today’s packed comic book review podcast: X Of Swords: Creation #1, Dark Nights: Death Metal – Speed Metal #1, An Unkindness of Ravens #1, Spider-Man #4, The Last God #9, Voyage to the Stars #2, Wynd #4, Wicked Things #5, Low #25, Canto II: The Hollow Men #2, The Immortal She-Hulk #1, Undiscovered Country #8, MegaMan: Fully Charged #2, Juggernaut #1, Black Magick #14, Power Rangers: Drakkon – New Dawn #2, Maestro #2, The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides #3, Judge Dredd: False Witness #3, and Bliss #3.
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Alex: What is up, everybody? Welcome to The Stack. I’m Alex.
Pete: I’m Pete.
Alex: On The Stack, we talk about a bunch of books that have come out today. Oh boy, we have a packed stack for you today. This is a-
Alex: Too many. Too many books, Pete.
Pete: Yeah. What’s the deal here, buddy?
Alex: Why did you do this, Pete?
Pete: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Alex: Why did you do this?
Pete: Yeah. Yeah.
Alex: This is your fault. No, I really didn’t mean to do this. I feel like I looked through what was coming out. Every email was like, “Oh, here’s three or four from IDW. Here’s five from Image. Oh, no.” I didn’t realize what a snowball it’d become until the end when we were finally getting ready for it. I’m sorry, Pete. We read a lot of books, but we got to get into it.
Pete: We do.
Alex: This is important. People come to us as a resource.
Pete: I don’t know about that, but-
Alex: Let’s kick it off.
Pete: … we’ll do what we can.
Alex: This is a biggie. From Marvel Comics, X of Swords: Creation #1 from Marvel. Written by-
Pete: X of Swords for $7.
Alex: For $7. By Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard. That’s $350 each if you don’t give any money to the arts by Pepe Larraz, which would be rude. I wish you would give it to somebody.
Pete: That’s very rude, but it’s a part of either-
Alex: This is a monster, one of 22 right on the cover. One of 22, 68 pages long, huge story.
Pete: First, I just want to say, if we weren’t doing this show and this was life before COVID, I would walk into a comic book shop, say, “Fuck you” and walk out, because $7 part one of 22, what the fuck are you doing?
Alex: Think about it. When you buy a book, right?
Alex: You know it’s a certain amount of chapters. You’re paying about $7 per chapter, usually, for a book, if you think about it.
Pete: No. No, it’s like four bucks bro.
Alex: No, man. No, absolutely not. Yeah, it’s-
Pete: 22 pages.
Alex: It’s $154 per book for a 22-chapter book. That’s how much I pay.
Pete: Wow. You’re getting ripped off and maybe. It’s a lot, man. It’s a fucking lot.
Alex: It is a lot. Here-
Pete: I was hoping like, “Okay, if we’re going to pay this much money, hopefully, this will settle down. We’ll be able to deal with all the madness it has been having with X-Men.” No, it just takes it to an even crazier place because Hickman doesn’t like to deal with things. He just keeps building towards the sky.
Alex: Yeah. That is a fair way of poking it. I don’t disagree with you, but what I was so surprised about with this particular book, and I think we can get into spoilers here, so if you don’t want to hear them, obviously, turn away, is that for most of the beginning, it was definitely that a Hickman dense this, talking about Otherworld and Arakko and the original Four Horsemen and them tacking Otherworld, and laying out all this like, “Here’s the different level of Otherworld. Here’s a map of what the Citadel looks like,” and all these things. Wild terror readings and everything, but once it had all of the setup out of the way, I was stunned about how relatively straightforward and fun it was. That the plot of this crossover is, basically, Apocalypses’ even more evil children and grandchild are like, “Fuck you for joining the X-Men. We’re going to kill you. We’re going to destroy your island. We’re going to destroy the X-Men. Here we come.”
Alex: The only thing that is stopping them is the leader of Other world saying, “Hey, instead of doing that, why don’t you go find X of Swords and then beat the shit out of them?” If that’s the plot of the thing, that’s great. I felt such a weight lift off of me by the end of this issue that it was just like a good old fashion brawl to the death story. Obviously, there’s a couple more insane Hickmmanian flourishes on it, but that’s awesome. I went from being cautiously interested to the book to totally onboard by the end.
Alex: No? I tell you what, I was happy that it did kind of be like, “Okay, this event is about this kind of showdown of who’s more evil with the evil people of the evil worlds,” but it, also, was this kind of like weird like, “Hey guys, this whole portal thing, I’ve got a bunch of people invading. They’re going to probably kill some people.” I think I sit around and it’s a meeting. It’s like, “Well, why don’t we just shut the portal?” Well, you can’t do that. Well, why can’t you?” You know what I mean? That part grinded to a halt of like, “I don’t want my comic books to turn into my work where I got to explain to some asshole in marketing while there’s a fucking attack coming through a portal. You know what I mean?
Alex: Like, “Where do you work?”
Pete: I work in a startup, okay? It’s not-
Alex: No, I’m just saying that like attacks are coming through portals all the time. That’s not a normal thing, Pete.
Pete: Yeah. Well, you know-
Alex: Nobody can relate to that.
Pete: When you have an online job, things get weird.
Alex: Got it.
Pete: I just think that like, that part was a little kind of like, “All right,” but I did really like the island stance. I was happy that they were kind of like listening to the island, but I felt like Magneto the whole time where he’s bored out of his fucking skull just staring on this cool helmet being like, “When do we get to fucking fight?”
Pete: I do like this match up coming of like, “Hey.” It’s a little weird though when she was like, “Yeah, in three days, we’ll fight you.” I’m like, “Oh, something is going to happen before three days, but all right.”
Alex: No, that’s to give them time to find the sword. It’s just wild to me, at least, in terms of the setup. I was this good old fashion split into teams, find these secret things, come back together, fight some bad guys in a fight to the death. There’s going to be twist.
Pete: It’s just Apocalypse’s kids, so why does everybody have to fight his family’s bullshit? That will be weird if you called me like, “Hey, listen, my son wants to kill me. Do you mind like helping” …
Alex: Well, but also on a textual level because I know you’ve talked about this a lot, Pete. I appreciated the fact that they’re dealing with the fact that Apocalypse is there on Krakoa. That, to me, is the thrust of this crossover, at least, now. This idea that his children being like, “Yo, you’re not Apocalypse. You’re just hanging out with the X-Men. What are you doing?” That the X-Men are like, “Apocalypse, what are you doing?” It’s almost this fan conversation in a way that is bleeding through into the comic books. It feels so smart to me. It’s not just Apocalypse is on the team. It’s, why is he on the team? Why is he here? Why is he doing this? What does it mean that he’s here? Do we defend that he’s here? How do the X-Men, who have taken the stance of mutant stumper want always forever, deal with the idea of, “Do we defend the guy that is trying to kill us multiple times and take over the world, to destroy the world? How do we do that?” Again, that is a thrust for a big crossover idea. It seems so smart to me.
Pete: All right. Well, I’m glad you’re having fun, man.
Alex: I’m having a good time. Pepe Larraz’s art, just great superhero art, really fun, really clear stuff. Just good time. The horrible moments throughout big moments, Rockslide getting chopped in half, oh my God.
Pete: What a great panel, but man, that is heartbreaking. I did not like seeing that, but it was really well done.
Alex: Just to mention, the last page of the issue. Such a dumb, obvious, but smart move to have Cyclops, Jean Grey and Cable go off and be like, “Okay, the key to solving this and saving everybody is, we got to activate this thing. What’s this thing?” They go in. They activate the thing. They’re like, “Oh, good. We turned on the sword.” Of course, its sword, the organization, and they’ve turned on the gigantic space station that they used to operate in and it’s exactly the sort of thing like, “Oh, of course, you’re going to work in sword.” That’s so smart.
Pete: X of Swords. I get it.
Alex: X of Swords. There you go. Great stuff. I enjoyed it a lot. I just thought it was so much more fun than I thought it was going to be. I had a good time.
Alex: Let’s move to another one, another big event, Dark Nights: Death Metal-Speed Metal #1 from DC Comics written by Joshua Williamson, art by Eddy Barrows. We talked about this one a little bit on live show. Pete, you’re usually down on the Flash, but you seem super into this one.
Pete: Well, slow your fucking roles elves.
Pete: First of-
Alex: This is your favorite comic of the week is what I’m hearing.
Pete: No. No. First of, great title, Speed Metal. Hilarious. Love it. I love this idea of over the top Death Metal kind of fun things. Just amazing art, over the top characters. It’s fun to go back to this. Well, to see what they’re doing. What hurts about this issue a little bit is, you get all this amazing art, this cool concept to new characters and then this is a bunch of fucking Flash is talking about their life and their fucking trials and who gives a shit. That part really dragged into a slow stop for me, but overall, the art is amazing. I love the concept. I’m excited for more.
Alex: Yeah. I had a good time reading this book as well. I think there were some diggy things that happened as you mentioned. There was a lot of like, “Okay, there’s a whole army outside. Let’s just hang around and walk through the Flash Museum,” which Joshua Williams was going for. As usual, he is just very nostalgic about the Flash. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think, doesn’t is probably too strong, but having them walk around the Flash Museum was like, “Okay, I get it. I get what you’re going for.”
Pete: There were some funny bits.
Alex: On the other hand of such a sucker, seeing Wally West run and get himself back into the red costume, I lost it. I loved it.
Pete: Wow. Really?
Alex: He’s getting his whole history back and seeing his whole family. I love Wally West.
Pete: You do.
Alex: I love his family and I love that arrow, The Flash. That really got me emotionally when that happened. I think it really does come down to, what are you into? What are you excited about with the Flash because he just … Josh, again, just digs into that nostalgia factor. Then there’s that great moment where he’s sitting on the Mobius Chair and sees the darkest night coming towards him and just gives him the finger, great.
Pete: That was unbelievable.
Alex: I laughed out loud.
Pete: “Yeah, black label. Here we go. Yes, let’s do it.”
Alex: Yeah. Yeah, good stuff. It’s surprising and weird that everybody is looking for chairs in this series of our … because that’s also happening over in Justice League, but good, solid issue. I’m excited to see how to entice it.
Pete: If you’re going to have a black label, that’s what I want to see. I want to see super real straw on the bird around like, really having some fun.
Alex: Well, let’s talk about birds then and talk about what are the biggest surprises of the week for me. Unkindness of Ravens #1 from Boom Studios, written by Dan Panosian and illustrated by Marianna Ignazzi. This is about a girl who moves to small town, finds out that there is a girl missing who looks exactly like her, except with glasses.
Pete: Oh, man. That’s so creepy.
Alex: Finds out even weirder stuff is going out in the town. If you are a fan of the craft, very specifically, you are going to love this book.
Pete: Yeah. I also think it’s more than that. This, I was really impressed with this book. The art is unbelievable. I love the storytelling. We kind of, “Okay, here’s the story of this girl and did whatever, whatever. Okay, go to new town and start a new high school,” but just like they give us little magic, they give us little teen drama, the karate moment was badass. I’m very excited for this book moving forward. Love the last page. I think this is going to be a really good book and I’m very excited about it. Boom Studios put together a great-
Alex: Yeah. This feels like exactly … If you’re a fan of the modern Sabrina books, in particular, I think this fits right into that niche as well, but this feels like one of those ones that just got to bubble below the surface and maybe explode, because it really is that good. It feels like it had such a mythology setup to it. Also, Marianna Ignazzi’s art is great in this book. The characters are so good. The designs are so good. It’s something, and this is necessarily the only thing she’s been before, but if I was a Netflix executive, I would be snapping this up in a second for a TV show.
Pete: Yeah. Yeah.
Alex: Great stuff. Let’s move on to a belated comic book, Spider-Man #4 from Marvel. Surprising, it’s only had four comic books so far given that it’s such a popular character, but it happens. Written by J.J. Abrams and Henry Abrams, art by Sara Pichelli. This is continuing the Abrams father and son story of the young, new Spider-Man fighting a guy named, Cadaverous in the future. After Peter Parker, Spider-Man, has been broken. I will tell you, I continue to really like Sara Pichelli’s art because Sara Pichelli is amazing at art.
Alex: This is, maybe, suffering from the slow release time, which isn’t entirely their fault. By the time I read this, it felt like just such a small snippet of the story. I needed more. What do you think, Pete?
Pete: Yeah. The art is the real hero in this book. It’s really fantastic and worth it just for the sprawling pages alone and the creepy spiders, but especially like the first couple of opening panels, holy shit. Anyways, yeah, I think this is interesting Spider-Man story. I’m excited to see where this goes. The problem is, so long in between, like you said, I just got back into it and now it’s over. It’s a little tough, but I’m excited to see what this father and son is going to do with such a legendary character like Spider-Man. I’m trying not to judge it yet until we kind of get more into it.
Alex: Yeah. It doesn’t really feel like they’ve got into their mission statement yet.
Pete: Yeah. Yeah.
Alex: Like the thing they want to say about Spider-Man.
Pete: They’re just moving pieces and getting things setup.
Alex: It does feel like it’s getting to that and we’re towards the end here. We’ll see what happens. Next up, The Last God #9 from DC Comics. Written by Philip Kennedy Johnson and art by Riccardo Federici. Man, every issue of this book is good. The end. It just really is. In this issue, again, they’re heading through their, I guess, Helm’s Deep. I don’t know. I’m forgetting my Lord of the Rings references, but they’re heading through the underworlds in the past and present, different things are happening. There’s a big cliffhanger at the end, but as usual, even with a smaller character driven issue like this, it’s still a very, very good book.
Pete: The art is really worth picking it up alone, all right? I tell you-
Alex: I just drank. I just drank, Pete.
Pete: Good. Speaking of cliffhangers and that kind of stuff, there is a fun, really kind of cliff moment that says a lot about the characters. I just think that the storytelling and the art is so at a next level in this book. It’s very interesting what they’re doing and yeah, I can’t wait for more.
Alex: Yeah. Great stuff. Next up, Voyage to the Stars #2 from IDW. Story by Ryan Copple and James Asmus, art by Connie Daidone. Now, we talk about the first issue of this book, which is based on the podcast, I believe, with the same name. That is fun, enjoyed it. I figured we check in on the second issue and see how it’s doing. Pete, what’s your take?
Pete: Yeah. This is the old weekend to burn this issue. This is cool. It’s very creative characters, fun, a lot of nice bits and comedy stuff in here with the classic proponent dead guy up trying to get away with some stuff, but yeah, I think this is an interesting book. The characters’ voices push this thing through. Yeah, I’m enjoying this. I think it’s definitely worth picking up. They seem to be having a lot of fun with it and that comes through in the comic.
Alex: Yeah, I agree. As we mentioned the last time, James Asmus knew how to do bits. They’re just well-paced out here, whether it’s him or the artist or collaboration of the booth. It’s just fun. It’s dumb, fun, stupid, purposely stupid space jokes. It just works out really well. I like this issue much more than the first one even. I felt like I want to follow this. Maybe I’ll listen to the podcast. Who knows.
Alex: Yeah, I know. That’s the next step in a relationship. First step is the comic book step and then when you get really serious, you’ll listen to their podcast.
Pete: Yeah, it’s serious stuff.
Alex: Then third step, you move into a house with them in Philly.
Pete: Yeah, the source.
Alex: Next up, WYND #4 from Image Comics. Written by James Tynion IV, art by Michael Dialynas. Dialynas. Dialynas? Dialynas? I don’t know. I’m sorry.
Pete: Dialynas. I don’t know.
Alex: Dialynas. Maybe. There we go. Well, regardless, this book is very good. Another fantasy book. This is a mildly all ages book. A kid who think he is weird. He’s traveling out of town with the prince he has always had a crush on. Some bad things happened to this issue, but also, some wonderful things. I love the fact that, finally, it feels like widening open the world of this book, finding out more about the outside world, about what’s really going on. Great stuff. This is the issue that I have been waiting for.
Pete: Yeah. This book keeps getting better with every single issue; the art, the storytelling. It’s next level. This world that they created really feels like its own very unique kind of thing. It’s just great. There’s a lot of heartfelt stuff. It’s action. It’s adventure. There’s just so much stuff kind of all wrapped up. They’re really killing it. This book, really, is one of those ones that stays with me and then when we kind of look at it the next time around, it keeps getting more and more built up and more and more exciting. Camera come out and it’s enough. This is a lot of fun.
Alex: Next up, let’s talk about one of my favorite books currently running. Wicked Things #5 from Boom Box. Created and written by John Allison, art by Max Sarin. I got to tell you, I was super bub to find out the next issue is the last issue of the book.
Pete: What? Because I know. It should be concluded at the end.
Alex: No. I know, man. It’s such a blast with it. This is about a teen detective, frame for murder, ends up teaming up with the police department after she is arrested. It is-
Pete: They have so much more they can do.
Alex: Just so much fun. Every issue. Max Sarin’s art is so great. Everybody is so charming. This is a compliment. It’s almost the opposite of Voyage to the Stars where it’s like, it’s not even bits. It’s more character situations that are causing the comedy throughout. It’s great. It’s just, I enjoy. I want to read these adventures forever. I want to just read an odd-going detective series with these characters.
Pete: Yeah. It’s such a fun character. I feel like I’m just, now, really getting into it and understanding the voice and cadence of everything. It’s really clicking for me and I’m sorry to see that it’s going to be wrapping up because I feel like there’s so many different places we can go. I love this world so much. I feel like we can kind of put this on a lot of different situations, but man, yeah, they’re really killing it right now or hitting the stride, that’s next level. It’s just fun. It’s coming from such an earnest kind of cool place. The main character is kind of starry-eyed, but still, there’s a lot of greatness to her. I really enjoy it.
Alex: The mysteries are fun too. This issue, there’s a bunch of casino robberies happening throughout London. She ultimately figures it out in absolutely ridiculous way, but in a way that proves that she is the smartest one in the room, anyway. It’s fun. Pickup this book. Definitely check it out. Great, great stuff. Next up, another penultimate issue, Low #25, from Image Comics.
Pete: Oh, man, too bad Justin is not here.
Alex: Written by Rick Remender, art by Greg Tocchini. Yeah, I must have put this in here because I want to talk to Justin about it because I know how into this book he is. This is the second to the last issues of the book. Huge battle issue as everybody is fighting for the future of the human race. The phenomenal thing about the pace of this book is the entire issue. People are just being blasted apart by this helm suit. We don’t see it the entire time until the very last paddle. It’s the pacing of that, just is this jaws pacing almost where the monster is off screen the entire time until the very end is great. This issue is one of my favorite issues of Low in a very long time.
Pete: Yeah. I can’t agree with you more. It’s such a unique, weird, creative book. It’s so intense. The reveal is so insane. Remender is just killing it. Justin knew it early and called it, but yeah, I didn’t really figure it out until the last couple of issues, so how crazy good this was. Really impressive. Makes me want to go back and start over again.
Alex: It’s good stuff. Next up, Canto II-
Pete: The art. Come on.
Alex: The art. Pick it up for the art alone. Canto II: The Hollow Men #2 from IDW. Story by David M. Booher, art by Drew Zucker. It was continuing the adventures of little Clockwork Man as he tries to save the entire world.
Alex: I like this issue quite a bit. I think this is a very engaging character. It’s a weird, pretty dark world, but good stuff. Pete, what do you think about this one?
Pete: Yeah. I really like the art and the storytelling in this. It’s very imaginative. These like little, fun creatures that were following around. It’s interesting the way they battle and the way they go about things. It’s definitely unique and stuff like that, whole town of scarecrows was so crazy. They do a great job of not only storytelling through action, but also giving you a lot of the creativity behind different character designs and ideas. It’s a nonstop thrill ride with a little bit of heart and fun because they’re so small and cute.
Alex: Yeah. That’s a nice way of putting it. Let’s turn to something I’m sure we’re going to definitely agree on. The Immortal She-Hulk #1 from Marvel Comics. Written by Al Ewing and art by John Davis-Hunt. Man, this issue is so good. I love this issue so much. Pete, I’m sure you agree with me, but this is showing what has been going on in the She-Hulk side of things as she, like the He-Hulk I believe it is called, has come back to life and discovered that he is immortal with the whole thing with the green door and he who lives below and all of these horror elements. What happens with She-Hulk? She’s come back to life a couple of times as well. That’s when this one shot deals with and it’s as creepy and as alarming and as upsetting as anything Al Ewing has been doing in the main title, except with her fave Jen Walters. I love that this comes off of Empyre, where she died, yet, again. I love the pacing of the story.
Alex: Particularly, if you’ve been reading Immortal Hulk, you’d be wondering what’s going on there. This really pulls the veil back quite a bit and shows you a lot more information about what’s going on. I thought it was great. Pete, of course, you agree, but I’ll turn to you anyway and take a big sip of this beer that I’m drinking for when you agree. Here we go.
Pete: Yeah. This is completely insane and then falls down of a whole of insanity through a green door. Then we get a very-
Pete: … unlikely conversation with Wolverine, which I didn’t appreciate. Later, we get Thor stuff, which I felt like it was a little bit better character voice-wise, but the reveal at the end, again, is hitting home. The leader is really fucking shit up as he is an immortal hulk right now. It was really cool to see that tie in, but man, alive, this is just so crazy and creepy. Like, “Oh yeah, you think hell is easy. We’re below that.” I don’t want to know that. I don’t want to know what gets worse than hell.
Alex: Yeah, there’s a hell below hell.
Alex: It’s all good.
Alex: I think it’s-
Pete: Wait. What are you going to say?
Alex: I think this is insane and a little too scary for me, and I’m looking forward to, maybe, trying to get things back to normal.
Pete: Like a happier Hulk but-
Alex: Yeah. Like just someone gives me a little hope Hulk.
Pete: The happy Hulk?
Alex: The happiest Hulk. Yeah, we’ll see that pretty soon. Undiscovered Country #8 from Image Comics. Written by Scott Snyder and Charles Soule, art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Leonardo Marcello Grassi. I don’t even want to say heroes of this book, but characters in this book have made it to the second ring of the walled-off America, called it Unity. They have discovered in this issue that it is a tech wonderland, seemingly, but of course, not everything is how it seems. I love how much this new arc has changed things up. It’s great. It’s exciting. It feels weird and nerve-racking. We had Scott Snyder on our live show a couple of weeks ago. He talked pretty heavily, not just about this book, but about how they’re adapting it for the movies, which I think revealed a lot of information about how this book is going to go. It’s fascinating to read this book through that lens.
Pete: Yeah. I also think that, now, this book is really cooking in a way that I can follow or before, I was very much confused to how this all works, but now, it’s like, we’ve got more of a sense of this world and where they are in it and how they’re trying to navigate. Yeah, I really like that whole coin bit. I really liked the introduction in some of the newer characters in this arc. I think this is very, very interesting. It’s been a while since I’ve been excited about a writer’s take on an idea, and this take of America and what it is and what it is in this very interesting, especially in this post Apocalyptic world.
Alex: I also can’t believe that we’re eight issues in and they’re still coming up with new America jokes.
Pete: Yeah. It’s very impressive.
Alex: Very impressive. Yeah. Next up, Mega Man: Fully Charged #2, from Boom Studios. Story by A.J. Marchisello and Marcus Rinehart. Written by Marcus Rinehart. Illustrated by Stefano Simeone. I think you like this issue a bit more than I did, the first issue of the series, Pete. I figured, again, let’s check in with issue #2 here. This is a darker, more modern take on Mega Man that gives it more of serial overtone. What do you think about this issue?
Pete: Yeah, I very much liked it. It’s like this idea of, okay, Mega Man, how do we deal with this in technology? What’s too much? Who has control? That kind of thing. I feel like it’s dealt with, in this issue, in a cool, unique way or really inside Mega Man’s head as Justin likes to get inside character’s heads. We get a lot of what they’re thinking about, why they’re doing what we’re doing. We’re meeting all the players as we move forward in an interesting way. I think it’s cool. I’m very much enjoying this great, kind of like last page hype up for next issue. This is just fun. To me, Boom is just taking something that’s cool and spitting it out in a way that’s fun.
Alex: I like this as well. I like this a little bit more than the first issue, but I still, as somebody who is not totally into Mega Man, I’m a little lost in some of the continuity stuff. The things that I liked or the things where Mega Man is out of costume and himself, it made me feel like not to backseat write it, but it made me feel like I would love to see a Mega Man ultimate Spider-Man type of reorigin of him.
Alex: That feels like they’re skirting up against, but they’re also leading into what fans know. That’s the part where it confuses me a little bit. I like the parts when he’s out of costume and he’s finding out more about this world. That’s very interesting. The other parts are a little too deep divy for me, personally.
Pete: All right.
Alex: Still, the art, very good in here. I enjoyed that quite a bit. Let’s move on to one of the big surprises for me in The Stack. Juggernaut #1 from Marvel Comics, written by Fabian Nicieza and art by Ron Garney. I thought this was great. I was completely surprised. This is Juggernaut working for damage control. Some stuff has happened to him in the past where he lost his powers. He’s regained them again. We’re slowly getting information about that. He is mixing it up with who he thinks is a new mutant named D-Cell. This is just so good. I should’ve known, but like Ron Garney, of course, amazing on art. Fabian Nicieza knows his way around the story, but this character with the issue of Juggernaut is so interesting to me. I was fascinated in the entire issue.
Pete: Okay. Nonstop action, like the cover looks insane. All right, let’s do this, and then it gets into this touching story about Juggernaut and what he goes through and what he has to deal with. It’s very interesting. Also, the introduction of D-Cell, very cool. I like this. I’m very impressed by this #1. I also just got to say, the red on Juggernaut’s-
Alex: Yeah, I agree.
Pete: … uniform is tops and Garney is killing it with this black and white with the splashing of red.
Alex: It’s a very good redesign-
Pete: Yeah. It’s like a little Sin City.
Alex: … for the coloring on this book. I should’ve-
Pete: Having a black and white and then popping with colors, but man, it really works great.
Alex: Yeah. Again, I was very surprised about this book. There’s something about reading a scene of the Juggernaut in a hospital and a nurse being like, “Okay, Juggernaut, you could go now.” I was like, “What? What am I reading? What’s happening here?” It totally fits. It makes sense for the character and the way that Fabian sets him up. This is a very good issue and the cliffhanger at the end is super fun. It’s a good setup. I’m excited about this book. I just sort or randomly threw it on here because it was #1, but I’m real glad we did because I loved reading it.
Alex: Next up, I know this is one of your top picks, Pete. Black Magic #14 from Image Comics. Written by Greg Rucka and art by Nicola Scott. Picking up out of that cliffhanger for the last issue where one of our main witches is driving through a creepy little girl while the other main witch is sleeping with a girl in her house and thinks a little bit-
Pete: Okay. Well, all right. Well, first of-
Alex: What do you think, Pete?
Pete: Don’t put extra creep on things, all right? Yeah. Sleeping with a aged person, it’s not a little girl that she’s sleeping with as well. It’s not some kind of weird-
Alex: A woman. It was two beautiful responsible women.
Pete: Okay. All right. You just sound so creepy. All right. First of, yeah, we got the car driving-
Alex: Some lovely ladies.
Pete: Why? Why are you so creepy?
Alex: Lovely ladies.
Pete: Stop being creepy. Yeah. We have … the art is the real hero of this book. These ghost kind of Ghoul, creepy kid things are unbelievable. Just the way it’s like they’re drawing the ghost and the shading, it’s just next level art in such a cool way. I was so scared of this girl in the car accident even though it’s a comic book. When she twisted doll’s leg and then the lady’s leg twist like that, oh, that is so creepy.
Alex: Yeah. This book is very good. Like you were saying, Nicola Scott’s art and the way things are drawn throughout this book are the real hero. Greg Rucka, always good, but Nicola Scott’s just designs of everything, a very creepy and exactly the right way.
Pete: That cover is so creepy in all the right ways too. Yeah. I also really love a black cat in this book. Really cool. I like that it’s a character. I’m really hoping it stays a character in the book. Every once in a while, we get a little bit more from that. It’s a nice little side thing that keeps happening.
Alex: Next up, Power Rangers: Drakkon New Dawn #2, from Boom Studios. Written by Anthony Burch, illustrated by Simone Ragazzoni. We have talked about the last couple of Power Rangers books, which takes places in this apocalyptic future where everything has been destroyed and the Power Ranger’s last hope to save everybody. I’ve been pretty open. I have been hiding the fact that I don’t care about Power Rangers at all, whereas, I didn’t love two issues back the one shot. I did like the first issue of New Dawn. I was curious to check out the second issue. I liked it even more. This is good. This is a good, dark, adult’s reinvention of the Power Rangers. I really enjoyed it. I’m onboard and I’m very surprised.
Pete: I’m also very surprised because I liked Power Rangers and this is not like Power Rangers … I haven’t really read a lot of the comics, but the TV show. I’m very impressed that how much I’m onboard with the story and what’s going on. The writing is doing such an amazing job of sucking you into this world and giving you these characters in such a great way that’s such a compelling kind of thing that gets you very excited for this kind of big fight that’s coming up. Yeah, I’m very impressed with this book.
Alex: It’s basically like stripping all the things from them that make them Power Rangers and finding out what make them tick as heroes, right? I feel like, most of the time, you watch a Power Rangers episode and the deal is, should we use our swords? Yeah. All right. Let’s use our swords. We did it. We won. That’s the main conflict of Power Rangers versus this, they’re dealing with actual real human issues, there are actual conflicts, there are actual problems they need to deal with and big overwhelming things, but they’re not losing the sense of humor at the same time. It’s just so much more fun to read. This is great. I’m very excited about this even if it’s … I’m actually going to get back to the status quo. I think this is very good and I’m very surprised that I’m saying so.
Alex: On the other hand, I do want to talk about an issue that I’m a little disappointed in for very specific, very stupid reasons. Maestro #2 from Marvel. Written by Peter David and art by German Peralta. This is the origin of the Maestro, the Dark Hulk by Peter David. Love the first issue of this book.
Pete: Yeah. You’re going nuts.
Alex: I thought it was great. Yeah, this issue-
Alex: … I had some problems with, honestly.
Pete: I love this.
Alex: Yeah. Here’s my problem, and I’m going to spoil some of the plot stuff, but Peter David’s writing, good as always. German Peralta’s art, great. The idea and-
Pete: You got problems with colors?
Alex: Here’s what happens.
Pete: What are you … what’s your-
Alex: Last issue, Hulk wakes up, finds the world has been destroyed. It’s like, “You know what, I’ve given up on humanity.” They’re like, “Ooh, this is good. We’re going to go on a slow progression to finding out how it became the Maestro.” What happened her? How did he build up a civilization? What is going to happen? Then in this issue, he finds the civilization and Hercules is the Maestro and it’s already happened.
Pete: Dude, that’s a fucking last page reveal you just did.
Alex: No, I know. I said I was going to talk about spoilers, but my point is that it’s like I waitlisted to the fact that he became the Maestro because somebody else was the Maestro and he took over that stuff versus the Hulk going in his descent to the darkness. I’m still going to read this. I like the art. I like the Maestro. I like Peter David, but it was a real bummer of an issue.
Pete: Your problem was, you have a better idea than what the comic did. That’s what your problem is.
Alex: No, I don’t have a better idea. It just felt like it was going in a different direction after the first issue than what happened in the second issue. It felt like we skipped all of the work.
Pete: I think you got to wait for it, man. I think you’re judging it too fast.
Alex: What do you think then, Pete?
Pete: I think I should like it.
Alex: Do you like it?
Pete: I like the idea of sad Hulk in the wastelands talking about humanity. He took some fair shots, man. You know what I mean? He’s not lying. Poor animals.
Alex: I like all of that stuff. I think that’s good.
Pete: It’s like, “Okay, he stumbles across people” and now, it’s like, “Okay, what’s going to happen? Can he go see this Maestro.” Okay and then Maestro isn’t who you think it is. Great reveal. Classic comic. Boom. I don’t know why you’re mad. I think it’s interesting to see how this is going. I think this is a solid second issue of ramping up the story. I’m sorry, you had a better idea. I would like to just quickly, while we’re talking about our Marvel book, the rest and power, Chadwick Boseman kind of things at the top of the comics. I think we’re really classy and well-done. I’m happy that they did that because it’s fucking really nice.
Alex: Yeah. Me too. I agree. Man, it is very hard to read Marvel books with Black Panther right now, which I know is such a weird thing and I keep checking myself of the emotional reaction there because it’s not like he wasn’t actually Black Panther. The Black Panther in comics is a different thing than Black Panther in the movies, but whenever Black Panther comes into a comic book panel into a comic book story, it’s crushing because it feels like it’s Chadwick Boseman coming into the scene. I know it’s not. Intellectually, I know it’s not, but emotionally, it feels that way. I agree with you. It is nice to have that acknowledgement on the front cover. It’s so sad. Let’s very diligently transition into talking about The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides #3 from Image Comics. Written by Jason Aaron and art by R.M. Guera. This is continuing the story line of two versions we’re trying to escape from. Not where angels have their way with him. It’s horrifying.
Alex: Pete loves this book. Cannot stop talking about it. We get off camera and off the podcast and Pete is like, “Let’s talk about The Goddamned” in an open voice. It’s very impressive, but another great issue of this book, R.M. Guera draws the crap out of it as our girls continue to escape for the mountain and find out things are not quite as they seem, of course, but it’s so dark and it’s so sad. It just brings you further and further down every issue.
Pete: Yeah. This is really impressive. What’s nice is, and this issue we’re not really dealing with the angels raping. We can move past that a little bit, which is good. We’ve got these two heroines fighting for their lives as they’re trying to make it out of this mountain range, but the reveal at the end is a little crushing. Man, it can say enough about the art. Just the whole part where you thought, maybe, she was going to die and they later rest and then like, it’s the action, the storytelling. This is really a great story even though a lot of the story makes me uncomfortable. I’m still very much impressed with the product that they’re putting out.
Alex: Yeah. That’s Jason Aaron writing about faith, writing about religion and making it dark, making it realistic but not throwing it away entirely. He’s not like, “Fuck you. You’re stupid for believing this stuff.” It’s more about what do we believe in if the things we believe in are evil. That’s a great thing to drill into right now and he’s doing such a good job with it. All right. Let’s move on then. Judge Dredd False Witness #3 from IDW. Story by Brandon Easton, art by Kei Zama. Oh my gosh, I really mess this one up, but we finally get what we’ve been asking for with this series. We got a meeting between our two main characters between a guy on the run for a murder he didn’t commit and Judge Dredd who is tracking him down. This title continues to over perform in my mind. It’s a good Judge Dredd story. There are some really good, interesting class and race stuff that’s played with right here. It’s very smart and well done while, still, being a good action thriller.
Pete: Yeah. It’s just hard. I don’t want a Judge Dredd Comic right now. I don’t want a story about cops fucking all powerful cops that are judged, jury and executioner right now. I didn’t really feel it as much with the other issues, but right now, I was just like, “Fuck this, man.”
Alex: I see what you’re saying. Not to interject and to cut you out, but I do think … I guess, we’ll see where it goes, but it does feel like the story is doing the opposite thing. The story is presenting Judge Dredd with a case that is not cotton dry. I could be wrong with the coloring, but we get a case of a black dude getting plastic surgery to look like a white dude and become basically like a proponent of the rich. There’s that thing going on. He gets murdered. His former friend is framed for it. Judge Dredd is tracking him down. I think we’re getting a story here where Judge Dredd having to confront the idea that things are not cotton dry, that I cannot be judged jury and executioner right now. If that is the way the story is going, that’s an incredibly timely thing to happen.
Pete: Yeah. I hear you. It’s just a little painful to just see … Just the panels where they’re so imposing over people, the judges. When they walk by and there’s all these people lined up in attention and it’s very, very intimidating. It’s heading me in a different way right now that, normally, it can be like, “Okay, this is comic book. This is fun. Judge Dredd is great. I love Judge Dredd,” but it’s just like, right now, it’s just a little bit … I agree with you that it is trying to do that. It’s hard to see the uniform and not flinch a little bit.
Alex: All right. Last one we’re going to talk about is Bliss #3 from Image Comics. Written by Sean Lewis and art by Caitlin Yarsky. We love every issue of this title, but this is pulling off some big things, some very big things. Specifically picking up the cliffhanger where a kid has been telling the whole history of his dad. We find out that his dad is not as clean and doing much worse things than we thought he was. Also, welcome to Justin who popped in the last time of the podcast.
Justin: You got to choose your angles. I think, just really, Bliss is the comic that I really wanted to weigh in on. Because I’ve actually been here the whole time. Really great reviews.
Alex: Oh, wow.
Justin: I didn’t want to chime in because you guys, I think, really covered the basis, especially the X and sword stuff.
Pete: Oh. Well, thanks yeah.
Alex: I’ll tell you what, actually. We talked about a lot of books on The Stack today. I think, it would be worth before we finish up talking about Bliss. Why don’t you just give a thumbs up or thumbs down, like a yay or nay to all the titles. I’ll read through all the titles, okay?
Justin: Great. Yeah.
Alex: Here we go. X of swords: Creation #1.
Justin: Perfect. No notes.
Alex: Dark Night: Speed Metal #1.
Justin: Fast as I wanted it to be.
Alex: Wow, and Unkindness of Ravens, number one.
Justin: More ravens.
Alex: Spider-Man #4.
Justin: You know how I feel about this. This guy should be making more quips.
Alex: The Last God #9.
Justin: Good fight.
Alex: Voyage to the Stars #2.
Justin: Yeah, get off earth. Earth sucks.
Alex: WYND #4.
Justin: Good. Not enough wind. It’s very still.
Alex: More wind. Wicked Things #5.
Alex: Low #25.
Justin: Oh, no. Fun. It was fun.
Alex: Yeah. That was fun. Wait. Okay. Low #25. Can we actually stop for a second? I know we’re very much versed in the podcast, but the whole reason I put that in The Stack was to get your take on it, Justin. Low #25, penUltimate issue of the series. What do you think?
Justin: We look at this as a whole. My review of the last issue was, I can’t believe he’s willing to take us here and I bought it and then it was like, “Oh, no. Rug-pull everything is terrible.” I don’t know where we’re going to go with this at the end of the day.
Pete: How about that reveal though? That was fucking bananas.
Justin: Everything about this book is bananas. They push everything in every direction all the time. That’s why the series is one of the richest series we’ve reviewed in this. Maybe top Remender. Maybe top Remender.
Alex: Yeah. This has really blown me away as for what Remender is doing in this comic. I didn’t really, really appreciate it until this second to the last issue, like everything that he’s doing.
Justin: Yeah, 100%.
Alex: It’s making me feel like we should probably do a separate podcast about Top Remender.
Pete: We just got to determine like break it down, top 10.
Justin: The remaining Remenders. The Remenders that remain.
Pete: Right. Yeah.
Alex: Getting back to the list, Canto II: The Hollow Men #2.
Justin: Really, Canto? Can? No.
Alex: The Immortal She-Hulk #1.
Justin: Legit. Love this book. I can’t believe they’re making She-Hulk terrifying now too.
Alex: Yeah. Yeah. Undiscovered Country, number-
Justin: I’m worried that this is going to become my job from here on now. Don’t say anything and then just give us the one liner nonsense thing.
Alex: Yeah. We’re almost through it. There’s a lot of titles though. Undiscovered Country, number eight.
Justin: Perfectly clear of what’s happening all the time.
Alex: Mega Man: Fully Charged #2.
Justin: Playing the video game, except my fingers are not sore.
Alex: Nice. Yeah. Juggernaut, number one.
Justin: This guy is unstoppable.
Alex: Yeah. Black Magic #14.
Justin: Somebody stop him.
Alex: I’m definitely getting the impression that you’ve read all this book.
Alex: Black Magic #14.
Justin: Great to see this book back. I’ve missed this book.
Alex: Yeah. Power Rangers: Drakkon New Dawn #2.
Justin: Once again, surprisingly into the Power Rangers. Time to do a rewatch.
Alex: Great. That was my reaction too.
Pete: Go, go Power Rangers.
Justin: I [crosstalk 00:51:58].
Alex: Maestro #2.
Justin: This guy, I wanted more music. I feel like he’s not doing any conducting.
Alex: The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides #3.
Justin: This book really makes you want to get back into the bible.
Alex: Judge Dredd False Witness #3.
Justin: I’m not prepared to be judged.
Justin: This book was judging me.
Alex: Great. Finally, that brings us to Bliss #3. Once again, this is a great issue of this book. This really flips the premise in a certain way. We spent the first two issues knowing and loving this dad. In this third issue, we find out he is not all, he’s cracked up to be. It’s real dark, real sad, but I thought real good. Pete, what was you takeaway from this one?
Pete: Yeah. I was really impressed with this issue. A lot of things click into place in this issue. We get a lot of forward movement and a way we can all follow, which is great. Yeah, it went from being like tripped out stone or what’s going on to like, “Oh, shit. There’s a lot of evil fucked up shit going on in a way that is very much pointed at this family.” I think that really grounds it in the son-mom stuff was just so touching and powerful. The panels of the mom’s face are just unbelievable.
Justin: Yeah. The art on this book, I think, really crushes. It adds some air, this air of tension in fantastical remorse and just loss throughout the book. It reminds me of like the dark crystal a little bit or-
Justin: … especially with the non-human creatures. Even Neil Gaiman’s Coraline a little bit. It feels like a more adult version of it. The scenes at the end where the dad reveals what he’s capable of are just tough.
Justin: The coloring as well throughout is just beautiful.
Pete: Yeah. It’s really intense.
Alex: Great. Great book. Definitely pick it up. That is it for The Stack. If you like to support us, patreon.com/comicbookclub. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. to Crowdcast and YouTube. iTunes, Android, Spotify, Stitcher or the app of your choice. To subscribe and listen to the show, did I say pateron.com/comicbookclub to support the show?
Pete: You did now.
Alex: Okay. There we go. At Comic Book Live on Twitter. Comicbookclublive.com for this podcast and many more. We’ll see you next time on The Stack.