The Stack: Batman, Locke & Key And More

On this week’s Stack podcast: Batman #100, Locke & Key: …In Pale Battalions Go… #2, Amazing Spider-Man #850, Transformers/Back to the Future #1, American Vampire 1976 #1, Getting It Together #1, Wolverine #6, X-Force #13, Marauders #13, Sonic The Hedgehog: Bad Guys #1, We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #2, Far Sector #8, Adventureman #4, Backtrack #7, Black Widow #2, Exosisters #10, DCeased: Dead Planet #4, Inkblot #2, Champions #1, and Decorum #5.


Full Transcript:

Alex:                 What is up? You’re all welcome to The Stack. I’m Alex.

Justin:              I’m Justin.

Pete:                I’m Pete. And on The Stack, we’ve got it packed…

Alex:                 … stack for you today. We’ve got [crosstalk 00:00:17], use.

Justin:              It’s a packed stack.

Alex:                 Big issues is coming out, so let’s jump right into it. Talking about Batman number 100, from DC Comics run by James Tynion IV, art by Jorge Jimenez, Carlo Pagulayan and Guillem March. This is the culmination of the Joker world.

Justin:              Culmination.

Alex:                 It’s all been coming down to this. Big stuff happens here as the Batman takes on Joker [Mono-e-Mono 00:00:44], for all [crosstalk 00:00:49], translators. For all the [inaudible 00:00:52], there’s some twists, there’s some turns here, there’s backup stories. What [inaudible 00:00:56]… Oh God.

Pete:                Oh no, Alex.

Justin:              Oh, wow. Don’t die. [crosstalk 00:01:01].

Alex:                 That’s a [inaudible 00:01:01], Joker guest.

Justin:              Joker mist.

Alex:                 Joker mist.

Pete:                Oh, man.

Alex:                 Yeah, I’m a joker mystique myself.

Pete:                Smart.

Justin:              Oh, nice. Just to clear up your throat?

Alex:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative). No, you got to build up a tolerance, so that way… exactly.

Justin:              Yeah, that’s smart.

Pete:                Oh, yeah.

Alex:                 What do you guys think about this issue and what do you think about the storyline as a whole?

Justin:              I liked it. Especially the battle, the Joker, bat uniform and that Joker becoming Batman, I thought was a nice thing here. There’s some funny lines in here of Alfred’s Corp saying he wishes he was the [crosstalk 00:01:40], butler. Had it up for [crosstalk 00:01:42].

Alex:                 That’s not funny.

Justin:              No, man.

Alex:                 That was painful.

Justin:              An underwater butler, so fun. How do you make tea? All the waters. It’s all water.

Pete:                Yeah, I felt like, first off the art’s fantastic. I feel like the landing didn’t stick as hard as I would have liked it. Normally, when we have these big buildups, these huge fights. The wrap-up is great, but there was a lot of weird stuff that happened. I felt like there was this epic showdown and then it wasn’t between the Joker and Batman because Harley Quinn showed up and then made it be like, “Yo, one of us are going to die tonight,” which is holy shit, raising the stakes, but it wasn’t like the classic showdown. It was a real switch of status of Joker trying to be Batman. I did like the things that Joker was saying during the fight. I thought that was classic cool Joker shit.

Pete:                But the stuff I was a little disappointed with was the wrap-up and the Batman talking to the Clown Hunter, I felt like that could have been a little bit better. I had a weird feeling after that was over. Also, it was crazy to me that Catwoman seemed to be making moves, but then there was just a shot of her watching fights, which was weird to me. But I really think that overall, this was a really cool arc, very awesome twists and turns, a lot of fun. The Alfred shit to me was a little too rough, too soon. Seeing the corpse shit was really hard, but I-

Justin:              I was going to say, it’s great to see Alfred back in his good shape, in perfect form. This is the Alfred I want to see.

Pete:                The Nightwing shit was bad-ass. Nightwing got a lot to do a lot of respect in this. So that was cool.

Alex:                 I love the Oracle stuff. It was so much fun having Barbara back as Oracle. That was great. It just really shows the deep well of love that James Tynan has for DC Comics history that really came out on this issue. I agree with you that the execution of the ending felt a little asterisky, particularly given how big everything is built over the past couple of issues. But James Tynan came out on Twitter and said, “This was supposed to be as ending.” This was supposed to be his last issue of Batman, and then when he found out he would be ongoing on it, he had to scramble and change his plans and changes all outline to serve some other masters and serve some other storylines that are happening.

Alex:                 So I think it’s not purposeful, but that is a victim of circumstances, more than anything that rather than making it this big exclamation point, it became the dot, dot, dot in the middle of the ongoing Batman story. And I do like the place that he finds Batman at the end of this, I actually did really like Clown Hunter story. The idea that he-

Pete:                I like Clown Hunter story, for sure. I felt like Batman just lectured Clown Hunter in a weird way.

Alex:                 What I think was different about this, this almost pivots off of what Jeff Johns is doing over in three Jokers, is this idea that Batman keeps bringing in these orphans, breaking them, ruining their lives, and then being like, “Well, time for new orphan,” that he’s doing something different here, which is similar to what they did with the signal as well. Is I think smart, and it’s a progression of the character that personally I like. Yeah.

Justin:              I mean, I agree. I also think despite the change in plan for James Tynion, I feel like his point was rather than have Batman play Joker’s game the entire time in the end of this is like I haven’t been… I’m not going to take the bait. And I thought that was a nice… Batman’s usual tactic or at least for the past few years is he takes the bait and then suffers horrible consequences, but he endures because he’s Batman and I actually liked-

Alex:                 He got stabbed in the back-up bunch. That’s suffering.

Justin:              I know, but rather than be like, “All right, I’m going to give it all up for the corpse of my butler,” he’s like, “You know what? I’m not going to do that.” And I liked the different take on that for one. I agree the Clown Hunter stuff, I thought what was actually good. I agree with you, Alex. It’s nice if we’re going to walk away with this new character, I think that’s cool. Clown Hunter is a cool character. It’s like if Damian Wayne took the other path and didn’t become a Robin, it feels like. The one thing with the Joker little epilogue at the end, Joker, he’s become this chemist. Why is he such a chemist? I don’t know why that makes sense. It’s like [crosstalk 00:06:31]-

Alex:                 I appreciate your-

Justin:              … gas that perfectly turns you into a Joker so much so that no one will be able to tell the difference in my body versus your body.

Pete:                But also he’s really into newspapers and likes to get his news, old timey, just sitting down, stacking newspapers, go through each one, see that headlines, soak it all in. So it’s this mix of, he’s up to date on all the latest chemical stuff, but likes to get his news old school.

Alex:                 It’s crazy. It’s crazy stuff is what I tell you, but [crosstalk 00:07:06]-

Justin:              Yeah. A lot of fans are definitely going to identify with Pete’s point he just made the with the newspapers.

Alex:                 This is a very good issue though. And I think this whole arc was good. Definitely pick it up in trade or individually if you like.

Alex:                 Next up, Locke and Key in Pale Battalions, going number two from IDW storytellers, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. This is continuing a story of back in the day from Locke and Key as we follow John Locke. But a different John Locke, the last, as he goes to fight in the war, he has aged himself. Yup. He’s using one of the magical keys. And this issue, we see things from the German perspective of the war as they are tagged.

Justin:              Creating a way to put that.

Alex:                 But again, we talk about this every time. There were two different World Wars. One of them was the World War, the second one with Nazis. This is the first World War, which was also with the Germans, but it’s not creepy in exactly the same way. Pete [crosstalk 00:08:04]. Oh my God.

Pete:                Different Wars.

Justin:              DC, Wolverine one, Pete. The Balkans were powder gig. And then all of a sudden the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand really set off a series of chain of events within tangling alliances that led all of these different countries to declare war on each other. And then of course, a further countries guy, eventually entangled. And here we are with John Locke, [AGM 00:08:26], self up to take part.

Alex:                 There you go. So this comes from the German perspective, which is not a creepy thing to say. And we see John [crosstalk 00:08:33]-

Pete:                It’s a creepy thing to say.

Alex:                 Stop it. John Locke is attacking them. Just again as with the first issue, a bunch of classic Gabriel Rodriguez pages in here, this page with… and this is getting into spoilers, but there’s a page where he uses the crown of shadows to attack that is just terrifying in exactly the right way. The twist at the end, which I won’t spoil, it’s so smart, so well done and clearly points to not just where they’re going with this series, but also with Helen Gun, which is the Sandman Crossover. So I love seeing that path there. Pete, what do you think about this one?

Pete:                It’s really fantastic. I mean, the art is unbelievable. It’s crazy storytelling. I mean, the fact that I’m caring about these fucked up soldiers is way back to the days. It’s really impressive to the art and the storytelling. But this is really interesting what happens at the end and how it makes sense to why we are seeing this in such a cool way. I’m very impressed with this comic. It’s just so excited when there’s a new Locke and Key comic, because you’re like, “What the fuck is going to happen? How scared or freaked out am I going to get?” And it constantly delivers.

Justin:              And the fact that they were able to just tell a legit war story, I mean, this is a straight up war comic. There’s not a lot of Locke and Key bells and whistles to it. We get a little bit of that, but it really is just a war story being told from the Locke and Key perspective, and obviously the German perspective, which I think we all find totally normal. And it’s just a really good issue and the way they do find another, especially the art finds another angle on horror, war horror is so smart.

Pete:                And it’s interesting that, it seems like in this issue, we got to shout out to the TV show with that fire key that I don’t think was from the book. I think it was from the TV show, right?

Alex:                 Yeah. The matchstick key. I can’t remember honestly the continuity there. I think it was something they came up with, but didn’t use, that they ended up using on the TV show first, versus in the comic book itself. I could be wrong about that. But yeah, that is interesting to see. And it’s great, it’s just good stuff. Always-

Justin:              It’s great stuff.

Alex:                 … an incredible issue out of the gate every single time. Next up, one I’m very excited to talk about, Amazing Spider-Man number 858 AK number 49, from Marvel written by Nick Spencer, Kurt Busiek, Tradd Moore and Saladin Ahmed, art by Ryan Ottley, Humberto Ramos and Mark Bagley, Chris

Justin:              Bachalo, Tradd Moore and Aaron Kuder. So this is a conclusion of the Sin Eaters storyline, The Return of the Green Goblin and also a couple of backups stories. Justin, I’m curious to hear from you. You seem to really like the Sin Eater storyline in particular, but what’s your take on the ending here?

Justin:              It got a little muddled with the Green Goblin stuff. I thought the first couple issues of the Sin Eater Arc I thought were so good, so smart, felt very timely and responding to the world. It was such a total change from Nick Spencer jokey Spider-Man into this like very serious Sin Eater storyline. So it felt like a hard right turn into Peter Parker dealing with the Green Goblin stuff and so much more historical and it felt far less present to the modern world. And weird the way that he becomes like a juggernaut but with no… like a [crosstalk 00:12:24], hair.

Alex:                 Could you talk about that for a second? So the-

Justin:              Just a raged out, no neck dude.

Alex:                 Well, the weird thing is, so the Sin Eater, when he shoots people, now he gains their powers, right? So he shoots the juggernaut and then I liked generally speaking, just the voice of anything, the design of this, because he gets this juggernaut-

Justin:              Sorry to hear you [crosstalk 00:12:45]-

Alex:                 … Vini head, which is pretty gross. But the juggernaut doesn’t have a head like that. He has a normal head and he just wears a helmet. So what was going on there?

Justin:              I like the idea that maybe juggernaut just smooshed a little bit into his old-

Alex:                 Yeah.

Justin:              The clothes fit the man.

Pete:                I think that how he starts to… your body forms to the helmet after a little while, and then it’s like, you take a turtle and it looks like you still are wearing it a little bit. And I think that’s what happened here.

Justin:              Pete, at this point, your feet have taken on the shape of your punisher’s slippers, right?

Pete:                Yeah, exactly. Exactly, yeah.

Alex:                 I did like the Green Goblin’s stuff in this issue. I think Nick Spencer did a good job of driving up the, and I’m using this word appropriately here, creepiness of the character.

Justin:              Especially once all the other spider family characters were there, I was like, “Woof.”

Alex:                 Oh yeah. That whole Gwen stuff was crazy.

Justin:              Gross [crosstalk 00:13:40].

Alex:                 The exact right way though. The way that Norman Osborn is gross that I don’t think we’ve seen him this way in a very long time, but it’s weird. I’m curious to see what happens to the next issue, because it seems like we’re finally getting into all of the kindred stuff, which is this villain that he’s been building up over the course of all the issues.

Justin:              But I got to say the fact that the reveal wasn’t an issue. I was like, “Come on, man.”

Alex:                 Yeah.

Justin:              It really felt like now is the time to do it and it feels like we’ve missed our shot to finally get the reveal.

Alex:                 Particularly the way the end… sorry, Pete. I was just going to add that particularly the way the ending is paced and obviously the spoiler for the ending, but in the mix, everything that’s happening with Spider-Man, with the Green Goblin, with everybody, with Kindred walking towards this grave and walking up. And it definitely felt like this is the point where we see kindred walking, looking at a grave and now we know who Kindred is, and instead we still have no idea. What were you going to say, Pete?

Pete:                Oh, I was just going to say, yeah, there’s nothing like the old, “Hanging out next to a grave. You don’t know who I am, moment,” that everybody loves. Yeah, it’s a little frustrated. We don’t have more information, especially after all we’ve been through, but I also really liked the backup stories. I’m a sucker for Chris Bachalo’s art and also-

Justin:              [inaudible 00:15:06], wars are also very good.

Pete:                Yeah. The Ford shoes store with that art is so glorious and fantastic.

Alex:                 Pete, Doug Wizard. Do you love a good Doug Wizard?

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, come on, dogs and wizards together. What’s not to love?

Alex:                 No way. Could I throw out at you before we talk too much about the backup stories? Theories about the identity of kindred. Pete?

Pete:                I’m trying to think of… What was the care bear with the little cloud on it? That’s who I think it is.

Alex:                 Okay, great. Great. Justin, do you have any theories?

Justin:              I mean, what are the third rails we’re going to touch here? It’s been built up so much, it has to be a big character. Is it the dude who killed uncle Ben?

Alex:                 Hmm. I guess I can do that. I’ll throw out one. This is not my theory. I read this today. What?

Pete:                I think it’s Doc Cock.

Alex:                 Doc Cock? Joe Chill. It’s Joe Chill. I love this theory. I read this, I think it was on Nerdist or something today. They had a bunch of theories of who [crosstalk 00:16:22].

Justin:              I’ve heard of that.

Alex:                 The theory was, Pete, you are going to 100%, absolutely hate this theory, but I’m so excited about it. The theory is, it’s Peter Parker, but it’s Peter Parker from the pre one more day continuity because they fucked up the Mafesto curse by Maryy Jane and Peter Parker getting back together. So it split up the reality, and so Peter Parker who made that deal is now kindred tried to get it back.

Pete:                Wow.

Justin:              If we can finally undo that bullshit-

Pete:                That would be glorious.

Justin:              That feels so arch and unnecessary.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 [crosstalk 00:17:09]. But I love the idea. I love the idea of it being Peter Parker, baby. I think that would be interesting.

Pete:                Or Peter Porker.

Justin:              Ooh, interesting. But here’s the thing. So much of Kindred is like, “I was buried. I was under the ground.” It has to feel like it has to be a dead character come back to life.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 And it sounds graves.

Justin:              Maybe it’s their marriage. It’s like-

Alex:                 Yeah, there you go. The physical representation. As we all know, marriage is covered in giant centipedes.

Alex:                 Let’s move on to another title. Transformer is back to the future, number one from IDW, written by Ken and Scott, art by Juan Semeru. So this is exactly what you’d expect from the title. This is the Transformers, muck it up the back to the future continuity. And I’ll get into a huge spoiler here, but I was getting very worried that they wouldn’t do the thing that they do on the last page for most of the issue, but when they did, I was like, “Ah, thank you.”

Pete:                Yeah, glorious. Glorious last page reveal. This was fun. This was cool. I liked how they took the things that we know. We got different perspectives, a little POV and the mall scene. I thought that was really fun, and great use of clashing these two worlds together in a way that made sense.

Justin:              Yeah. I think this makes perfect sense. No one would ever be like, “This is an unnatural blending of two different properties.”

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, who doesn’t love seeing [crosstalk 00:18:45]-

Alex:                 Oh, go ahead.

Justin:              No, as they say in the famous line, “One point 21 megatrons.”

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 I do [crosstalk 00:18:54], think we’re doing a good job here. I think when they finally get to it, to spoil a little bit of the book, but they do a back to the future too, with the transformers weaving their way through back to the future continuity saying, “Ooh, we could use some time travel to really take down the autobots,” and then of course, they finally do. We get the classic view of Hill Valley Square, except transformers have taken over the entire world. Beef Tatton, of course, is working for them. And Marty has tried to get away. It’s just silly fun stuff. I had a much better time once they finally got to it, in the second half of the issue versus the first half of the issue-

Pete:                Don’t fucking do that. Don’t break it up [crosstalk 00:19:35].

Alex:                 But I do.

Justin:              It definitely felt like mashing up your toys when you’re a kid in a fun way.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 I agree. Next up, American Vampire 1976 number one, from DC Comics written by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque. And we talked to Scott Snyder about this when he was at our live show a couple of weeks ago. So definitely go and listen to that podcast. But this is, as you could imagine for the title continuing and finishing the saga of American Vampire now in the ’70s, there’s disco, there’s big Afros, everything that you’d expect going out on the title. This is also, I will say as much as I love this, and as much as I love Rafael Albuquerque’s art in particular, this is definitely a deep dive into my subconscious to be like, “Who’s that character from American Vampire?” I haven’t read this in a while. But I enjoyed it nonetheless, personally.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, speaking of the Albuquerque’s art. I mean, it’s just so nice to be back in his warm embrace. I mean, this art is glorious. They’re having fun. The classic, killing vampires with disco. I mean, you don’t get tired of that, that’s just fun stuff. Yeah, I think this was a cool wrap up. There’s a lot of tie ins that I didn’t remember, like you were saying solves, but I still enjoyed them. And yeah, I think it’s a great saying that comes out of this book, “Fuck history, shred it and forget it.” You know what I mean?

Justin:              Yeah. And that’s how you failed social studies, right?

Pete:                Hard, failed hard.

Justin:              Yeah, I agree. I mean, seeing this altogether, the team back together that is, is so nice. Skinner is such an iconic character, even though he’s not really in American Vampire anymore. It’s just great to have this book back. There are so many great shots, the moment where Travis Kid is looking over his shoulder, it’s just such a good blend, Scott and Rafiel working together, you don’t get anywhere else. Yeah.

Alex:                 Yeah. It’s great. Yeah, they’re really getting it together. And so is our next book, Getting it Together, number one from [crosstalk 00:21:59].

Justin:              How did you come up with that? Wow.

Alex:                 I mean, it was just up here. It was just up here in my brain and it came out of my mouth co-created and written by Sina Grace and Omar Spahi, art by Jenny Define and Sina Grace. We of course had Sina Grace and Omar Spahi on our live show.

Justin:              Oh, when?

Alex:                 Just this very week.

Justin:              Oh, weird.

Alex:                 So go back to this [inaudible 00:22:20], interview, despite the unfortunate tech problems. But I really enjoyed this book. If you did miss our live show, it’s basically a more modern friend set in San Francisco. That’s a little sexier and a little more inclusive, both from a cultural and sexual standpoint. And I thought it was fun. I enjoyed this book quite a bit. What do you guys think about it?

Justin:              I agree [inaudible 00:22:46], a lot. I talked about this my comparison on the podcast of, Being a Bit Like Scott Pilgrim, a more modern and more, I guess, real, version of Scott Pilgrim where the characters are fun and interesting. They’re making jokes and they’re dealing with their mistakes in their lives. And I liked it a lot.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, unlike Friends, this is a little bit more, less shiny and more real, they get into things. So it’s enjoyable. It’s nice to just see a great image comic that focuses on relationships and the ebbs and flows of life and how we’d put up with each other’s shit or don’t and yeah, I think it’s really well done. You got some interesting characters, some really fun, cool moments. Yeah, it’s a solid book.

Justin:              And who’s your favorite friend? Real quick.

Pete:                Oh, yeah.

Alex:                 Good question.

Pete:                Favorite friend on the TV show [crosstalk 00:23:49]-

Alex:                 Go with Joey on this.

Pete:                I’m going to say Alex.

Alex:                 Gunther?

Pete:                Nice.

Alex:                 Wow.

Justin:              Again, makes sense. You’re the Gunther of this podcast. I got to say Pete was right. It’s Joey. Joey is the best friend. [crosstalk 00:24:00]. Also, the seasons, he’s the only one that isn’t deeply unlikable by the end.

Pete:                Well, I do like the Power of a Good Hug here. It’s a nice thing that’s in this book here, and [crosstalk 00:24:15]-

Alex:                 I mean, I just want to follow up though what Justin said, that’s why Joey was the perfect spinoff and works so well.

Justin:              Yes. I can’t believe it’s still going strong, 15 seasons later.

Alex:                 Incredible. Just a quick shout out before we move on. Jenny Define’s art is great. In particular character designs are very good in this book. They’re very unique, they’re very different. They seem more realistic than your typical character designs and I think she does a good job here.

Alex:                 Let’s move on to our 10 of Swords Block. Three books came out today. We are going to talk about them as a little bit of a block, because this is an interesting event. And Justin, you haven’t really been here to talk about this too much yet.

Pete:                Wait-

Alex:                 Yes, Pete, what’s up?

Pete:                Wait, I just wanted to point out, it’s important that you read these in order. I fucked up the order [crosstalk 00:25:00].

Justin:              Like a lot of things, it’s important you do them in the correct order, like breakfast, lunch, and dinner, putting-

Pete:                No, you can have breakfast any time, mother fucker. Don’t pull that shit.

Justin:              Okay.

Alex:                 Matter of life, death?

Justin:              That birth, life, death.

Alex:                 Yeah. Man, I’m very excited to hear what order you read these in. But just to read off all three titles right now. Wolverine number six written by Benjamin Percy and art by Viktor Bogdanovic. X-Force number three, also written by Benjamin Percy and art by Viktor Bogdanovic. Marauders, number 13 written by Vita Ayala and art by Matteo Lolli. So as you can probably tell here, the first two issues are basically one story. They’re showing how Wolverine gets his sword. He’s going after the Muramasa blade, which of course is the only thing that can kill him, as we learned from that very weird storyline, where he comes back from hell all the time. But that’s sword he needs to go and battle for other worlds. And then Marauders 13 is a little more of a one-shot as it’s showing how Storm gets her sword from Wakanda, which of course is a very personal mission for her. What do you think about the storyline so far? How’d you feel about these issues in particular? And Pete, what order did you read the bid?

Pete:                Well, I’m just noticing now there’s the part three of 22, part [crosstalk 00:26:20]. If I would have taken the time, I could have paid attention and then not read it, but I read it.

Justin:              You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can read the cover to know what you’re doing.

Pete:                Yeah. I read part five first. I did the Marauders and then I did Wolverine and then I did Acts of Swords.

Justin:              So that’s all right. [crosstalk 00:26:44]-

Alex:                 Not as bad as it could have been. You could have read Marauders in the middle or X-Force first and then Wolverine.

Justin:              The Last page of Marauders gives it away a little bit for Wolverine and then you [crosstalk 00:26:56].

Justin:              Yes. Wolverine, it does get it together. See, I read the fifth panel on the sixth page of Marauders and I jumped over to X-Force and read the seventh panel on. [crosstalk 00:27:05]. Yeah, I know.

Alex:                 Now, wait. Do you want to hear from Pete because you’ve been pretty dead on the exponent general and down on that storyline for the first two parts? Well, I think pretty positive about everything so far. I’ve been really enjoying this storyline. But you like these issues, right, Pete?

Pete:                Yeah. So yeah, I guess what you wanted to talk about how you’re a more positive person than me and you can see the sunshine.

Alex:                 Yeah, I’m like ray of sunshine and you’re not.

Pete:                Yeah. I got a clouded like a ping pang thing going on. So yeah, what I like about this is, it’s not 80 different fucking things happening at once. It’s not fuck Island and you can’t kill anybody anymore and golden eggs of humans, as well as the fact that you’re no longer a part of everything. You give humans drugs on the side. It’s just dealing with this 10 of Swords, like, “Okay, there’s a showdown coming up, you’ve got to go get your weapon of choice and go get in your spot so that when it’s go time, you’re ready to go.” So it’s like, “Great, this is what I want. I don’t want this.” There’s so much shit happening in X-Men right now we can just deal with this side story. And I was so happy, we just got three stories that make sense, that kind of like, okay, it’s each person’s journey to get to their place, so the raid to try to save the world.

Justin:              It’s like a prequel to the Choose Your Fighter screen on Street Fighter II.

Pete:                Exactly. You’re choosing what weapon and why. [crosstalk 00:28:49]. Yeah, I love it.

Alex:                 I liked that you refer to this Wolverine story as nice and simple and straightforward where it’s just classic Wolverine goes to Japan, goes down to hell, burns all of the flash off of his skeleton, meets a guy from other worlds who killed people who were the children of apocalypse. And has come back to getr an immortal blade that contains a person’s soul that is also wanted by the beast who runs the hand, who wants to give them as wedding gifts, except the beast also hates Wolverine and Muramasa, so wants to eat their souls. Just classic which is very simple [crosstalk 00:29:31].

Pete:                Yeah, give me straightforward story that I can fucking follow, man.

Alex:                 Totally. All you need to do is read every expert book and every Daredevil book, and you got it.

Pete:                But if you don’t know that Wolverine, when he dies, goes to hell and have to be reborn every time. I like the fact that they were picking up on that and playing with it a little bit here and… yeah, it sounds insane, but with Hickman’s, all the stuff that he’s changed, it’s nice to just have a simple and say [crosstalk 00:30:02]-

Alex:                 Go back to basics. Yeah.

Justin:              Let me ask you, how many of the text pages did you read?

Pete:                None.

Justin:              Yeah.

Pete:                Not a fucking one.

Justin:              I actually liked a lot of the text pages, especially in the Marauders book, which feels like a good way for them to keep the more fantastical aspects of the Hickman, X-Men world in these books. These much more straightforward titles where we are just assembling the Circle of Swords characters back on Krakola. And yeah, it’s like these are two shot in a one shot where fun stuff happens.

Alex:                 I enjoyed these. I had fun. I still like this crossover. My only little qualms-

Justin:              Wow.

Alex:                 … with the Wolverine one-

Justin:              Of course, I like something you fucking [crosstalk 00:30:55].

Alex:                 No. I mean, here’s the thing. Is that, I don’t like the Wolverine Goes to Hell thing at all. I do not like that as a part of Wolverine mythology.

Justin:              I don’t like that he can be-

Pete:                I also don’t like that Spider-Man made a deal with the fucking devil. [crosstalk 00:31:09]-

Alex:                 Hold on. Wait, Justin, are you to call out the skeleton thing?

Justin:              Yes. I don’t like that either.

Alex:                 What is that?

Justin:              He can’t just go back to skeleton and grow back. He’s not Lobo, another Wolverine.

Pete:                You don’t know, that’s not true.

Alex:                 Yeah. That bothers me as well. I think Benjamin Percy, a great writer, the art is great.

Justin:              I’m sorry about this [crosstalk 00:31:27]-

Alex:                 I love having this new, a [oracco 00:31:32], opposite to Wolverine. This person, new has adamantium skin or armor or whatever is going on there.

Justin:              Let’s just say it’s a microfiber.

Alex:                 It’s a great Wolverine villa. It’s just a really good setup there. But those little things are just like, “Oh, this is so annoying to be,” but I pushed past them. Anyway, the Storm story I thought was very good. It’s such a very smart thing to have her be like, “Goddammit, I got to go back to Wakanda with my ex-husband and ask for a sword somehow.” Vita Ayala puts great history of Storm in there. The art is excellent to the change of [inaudible 00:32:07], styles are great. I thought this was a very, very good issue in particular. So overall I’m a big fan of this storyline so far.

Pete:                Yeah, me too. Yeah, and-

Alex:                 Moving on… Oh, go ahead, Pete.

Pete:                It was really cool to find out about the sword and the way they gave us the story. And yeah, and it was also tough because we’re in Wakanda, rest in peace, Chadwick, Bozeman. There was that still, the amazing tribute thing. And then he didn’t show up till later was cool and well placed and just caught her red-handed in the worst possible moment. But the conversation they had was great, and then the ending of the book with the other two waiting there was really fantastic, really setting things up and again it’s excited for this 10 Swords event. I’m very excited for this and I hope this event can propel the X-Men into a place that is, I don’t know, a little cleaner and less insane.

Alex:                 I 100% guarantee you they’re going to celebrate winning the 10 of Swords challenge with a big old fuck party at both ends.

Justin:              Yes. And oracco fuck party is wow.

Alex:                 That’s fucked up.

Justin:              I just hope they’re not bringing 10 knives to 10 different gunfights.

Alex:                 Oh man. That’d be bad. Son of a Hedgehog Bad Guy is number one from ITW story by Ian Flynn and art by Jack Lawrence. This is well outside of my wheelhouse.

Justin:              What do you mean Alex?

Alex:                 What I mean is Son of the Hedgehog is one of those characters, I was like, “What is he doing? He’s running fast and spitting rings out of his body. This is dumb, and I hate this game. I’m not going to play.”

Justin:              You don’t like… because were an Nintendo person?

Alex:                 Yeah, I was a Nintendo guy.

Justin:              See, I was Nintendo too, and I feel the same way, because I was like, “He’s just so fast.” Mario is not fast. He jumps, that’s his whole thing.

Pete:                First off, I was a Nintendo guy as well, but Sonic was fun. It was crazy, but it was a fun game. You all are [crosstalk 00:34:18]-

Justin:              Alex and I are like Sonic, too fast, slow down. [crosstalk 00:34:22]. Why are you obsessed with rings? Be happy with the simple life, be happy with the simple life Sonic. [inaudible 00:34:29], all these golden rings,

Pete:                All that aside, I felt like this was a very clean, fun idea of like, “All right, let’s set up some villains. Let’s set things up in a way that makes sense and moves things forward.” And I thought it was cool to see this team come together.

Alex:                 Yeah. Ian Flynn knows what he’s doing with these licensed properties. And like you said, taking a bunch of bad guys, even if I don’t know a lot about them, he writes them well, he delineates them. Jack Lawrence’s art is cartoony in front of the right way.

Pete:                Perfectly, yeah.

Alex:                 I’m just getting fun, all ages title. Even if I don’t personally feel a connection with Son of the Hedgehog.

Justin:              Now, Pete, how do you like this hedgehog when he’s basically the flash with spikes?

Pete:                No, he’s nothing like that. There’s no bullshit speed force or a fucking one of the treadmills-

Alex:                 The screen force is like a bunch of rings that he spits out when he’s hit. It’s the same thing.

Pete:                No, it’s not true.

Alex:                 Same concept.

Pete:                No.

Alex:                 Okay.

Pete:                Yeah. I have no problem with Sonic, unlike you guys. I think this is a fun book, really well drawn. It’s cool.

Alex:                 We don’t have a problem with it. It’s a problem with you, Pete.

Justin:              Yeah.

Alex:                 We Only Find Them When They’re Dead. Number two from Boom! Studios, written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Simone Di Meo. This is continuing the story of a bunch of salvagers who fly around the universe, carving meat off of gods. They want to find a live god, they only find dead gods. I got to say that carving meat thing is probably my favorite part of the book right now, just in terms of how weird and gross it is. How are you guys feeling about it, two issues in?

Pete:                Well, I’m definitely going to change my will. And I want people to carve meat out of me and eat it.

Justin:              Oh yeah. I can’t wait for a filly Pete steak.

Pete:                It’s going to be fun.

Justin:              Suck it up at Pete steak.

Pete:                Oh boy.

Justin:              Suck it up on Pete Steak.

Pete:                Yeah. The art is fantastic in this book, it’s very interesting as we piece together what’s going on and this world where they live off dead gods. Yeah, this is very interesting different fun, space book, cool characters, good relationships. It’ll be interesting to see how this goes, but I’m on board. I think this is a fun book.

Justin:              Pete, when we do eventually eat you because you asked in your will, would you mind if I use regular cheese instead of cheez whiz?

Pete:                No. You got use whiz. Also, I’ll have a specific condiment, like the old country suite, [inaudible 00:37:20], dipping sauce, you know what I mean?

Justin:              And that’ll be made from your hair or something?

Pete:                No, from the country [crosstalk 00:37:28]-

Alex:                 No, of course, you’re going to be a French dip. You got the [foreign language 00:37:30]

Pete:                Oh, yeah.

Justin:              Yeah.

Alex:                 Nothing like the good old you.

Justin:              This reminds me, I’ve been watching the show, Raised by Wolves. [crosstalk 00:37:41]-

Pete:                God, how many times are you going to talk about [crosstalk 00:37:44]? What the fuck?

Alex:                 No, keep bringing it up, I want to talk about it every time. Let’s do it.

Justin:              [crosstalk 00:37:46]. I haven’t quite finished it yet. Very excited. Two episodes left. This reminded me of that in a good way, a nice-

Pete:                Save it for a weekend geek, you asshole.

Justin:              Okay. But anyway, this is very similar. Totally, I think.

Alex:                 Yeah, this is good stuff. This is just a big, hard Sci-Fi and I’m very impressed with this new world here. It’s sometimes difficult to get through exactly what’s happening, but I’m always intrigued to find out what’s next.

Alex:                 Talking about another hard Sci-Fi book, Far Sector, number eight from DC comics written by new MacArthur, genius grant recipients, N.K. Jemisin, art and color by Jamal Campbell. Yeah, take that other DC comics writers. This is tying up the storyline, but opening up some new mysteries. We have Green Lantern on this planet. She is fighting some digital beings. Finally, shuts them down, but as mentioned, it opens up new histories here. Every issue is just very good. How do you guys feel about this one?

Pete:                Yeah. I mean the art is amaze balls. Every issue is very impressive. I love the aliens reference, little George Carlin quote. I mean this book continues to impress. The main character is fantastic. You root for the whole time. This is a fun mystery, who done it thing, that’s slowly unraveling. I just constantly impressed with how different this is from Green Lantern books and how much more I like it than Green Lantern books.

Justin:              Yeah. I think, in this issue, it occurred to me just the sense of place and characters is so unique in this book. You really feel like this city is difficult for the characters to understand or the main character to understand. That’s as much of a part of the mystery as anything else. And I think it’s very rare for a comic book to give that off.

Alex:                 Yeah. Particularly when you have a Green Lantern comic book where they’re usually flitting from planet to planet or going to [OA 00:39:54], and they’re going somewhere else and then back to OA and then over to earth, that we’re sitting here and living in this place is I think very smart and very good. This is a don’t miss book every month.

Alex:                 Next up, this is what I know you were excited about Justin, Adventure Man, number four from Image Comics. Script by Matt Fraction, pencils by Terry Dodson, inks by Rachel Dodson. In this issue, we’re having our new adventure man, is dealing with the fact that she is much larger than she was previously.

Justin:              And denser.

Alex:                 And denser.

Pete:                Denser.

Alex:                 And we find out a lot more about the history of what went on with the previous Adventure Man. How’d you feel about this one?

Justin:              I like this book a lot. Obviously, the art by the Dodsons is fantastic. And the way the story really takes its time, I said this on the main podcast as well, it really takes its time-

Alex:                 You sure did.

Justin:              … and we get to really explore the powers and origin of the character that so many books have to blow pass in one issue. And with this series, we get to really be like, to her discovering her powers. It reminds me of the first couple of Spider-Man movies and really like languishing in the origin and enjoying it, which is something that I’ve missed in a lot of new comic books.

Alex:                 Yeah. I mean, some people might just say, “Get to it already,” but I see what you say.

Justin:              I hear you on that. But with this, it feels like we get to see the characters really enjoying the world that they’re in and enjoying this. This is moment of discovery of-

Alex:                 Enjoying the journey.

Justin:              Yeah. And enjoying the beginning of the journey. As for this character, I think it’s cool.

Alex:                 I agree.

Pete:                The arts, fantastic. You’ve got some great action, some fun storytelling, great character development. This is a really pro comic that is just taking it’s time and being confident in the art and the storytelling.

Alex:                 Well, and it’s also, I don’t know if it’s going to pan out this way, but it’s a really good all ages comic book at the same time. This is something that you could read with kids and have no problem. It’s a little complex, but it’s fun stuff. It gets a little dark, but good book across the board. Next up, Backtrack, number seven from Oni Press written by Brian Joines, art by Jake Elphick. We had Brian Joines on the live show a couple of weeks back. [crosstalk 00:42:20]-

Justin:              Wait, did you did you say Backtrack or Backstack?

Alex:                 Backtrack.

Pete:                Okay, [inaudible 00:42:25].

Justin:              Backtstack.

Alex:                 So this is a car race through time. And in this issue, they find their [inaudible 00:42:30], cells not back in time, but forward in time, in the future, dealing with some big stuff here. I really like this issue a lot. This is a big mythology issue, building out exactly what’s been going out of the background while they were doing this race. And I enjoyed finally getting to that stuff, as well as this glimpse of this future timeline. How did you two feel about it?

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, this is just over the top fun, the art is unbelievable and it’s nice to see even in the future, you can just cocky robots, you just shoot them down. You know what I mean? Don’t let those robots talk shit to you. Just shoot them in the face until they fall down. It’s good stuff.

Justin:              Wow. Bad attitude when it comes to [inaudible 00:43:18]. You’re the kind of guy that would shoot up C-3PO in Empire Strikes Back.

Pete:                No, come on. Oh, well 3CPO, yeah. [crosstalk 00:43:26].

Alex:                 As will Smith said in the classic movie, I, Robot, “Oh, hell no.”

Justin:              Yeah. That’s what we were all thinking. Thanks for saying it, Alex.

Alex:                 Anytime.

Justin:              When we had Brian on the show, we talked a lot about how the racing, the balance between the racing and the other side of the story is really well handled. And even in this issue, where there’s so much about the mythology and just developing the world around these characters, we still have a lot of time for the energy of the race. And I think that the momentum behind the book is really part of that and I appreciate that.

Alex:                 Yeah, they do-

Justin:              The colors in this book are also really exciting.

Alex:                 Yeah, they do a great job of bouncing my story and action and it keep things grounded, even though it’s such a chronic crazy over the top idea.

Justin:              It makes me, just when I’m driving my kids to school in the morning, I just feel the same way. I’m just going crazy. Pulling to a stop at a red light and slowly, getting in traffic and then stopping again.

Alex:                 Oh, man. That’s really cool. You should try going through time. Next up, let’s talk about one of my favorite Marvel books that is rapidly going to the top of my stack, Black Widow, number two from Marvel, read by Kelly Thompson, art by Elena Casagrande. We’ve got a little hint of what’s been going on with Black Widow in the last issue as something happened to her. And now she’s being manipulated by Arcade. This issue Hawkeye, and with the soldier tracking her down. They find out she’s living a happy family life, but of course, Black Widow still got a Black Widow with some hero stuff. This is great. This is such a great twist on Black Widow. This is such a different story for her, and I’m very excited to see where this goes.

Justin:              Yeah, I agree. Our expectations that we talked about at the first issue where it’s like, “Oh, it’s not the Black Widow book. Oh, she’s dealing with her past, she’s being taken advantage of. She’s going to kill people to get back on top,” and to find that new spin on it like this. And I love the perspective shift, switching to Hawkeye and Bucky, Winter Soldier, just like trying to figure this out. And I do hope they get to the Winter Soldier Black Widow over relationship that was such a great relationship back in the Edward Baker run, and was just untimely dispatched with at the end of that run. And I would love to see that become a thing again, despite the fact that she has no memory at all.

Pete:                What do you guys think? This is the kind of the question. Do they interfere here or do they literally let her live this happy life that she seemed so pleasant and content with?

Alex:                 Well, since she’s being manipulated by Arcade and the Kabbalah villains, I would say they probably should get her out, but they don’t know that part yet.

Pete:                They don’t. I just wanted to go on record here and say if you guys see me living a brainwashed life, please don’t hesitate to pull me out of that.

Alex:                 Oh, I thought you’re going to say let you stay in it.

Pete:                No.

Justin:              Do you think some of the younger henchmen that deal with Arcade are like, “What are you named after, dude?”

Pete:                Yeah, definitely.

Justin:              What is it? Core quarters? You put quarters in the machine?

Alex:                 Apple Arcade. Come on, that’s a thing. Everybody loves Apple Arcade. We are all subscribers.

Justin:              That’s 100% true.

Alex:                 Yeah. What’s your favorite game on Apple Arcade? Real quick. Don’t even look it up. Just mention one.

Justin:              Sorry. I’m just running through my favorite quippy shows. Let me just list those.

Alex:                 Exorsisters, number 10 from Image Comics written by Ian Boothby and art by Gisèle Lagacé. This is the culmination of illustration [crosstalk 00:47:18], of the firsthand issues. We talked about this series on and off. This is about two sisters, as you probably figured out from the title. One of them is real, one of them is not. And they’re battling forces of heaven and hell. Great climax in this issue. I thought just like a big, fun battle that didn’t lose the sense of humor that it has throughout. I enjoyed this title quite a bit. How do you guys feel?

Justin:              Yeah, I feel the same way. The art has the classic Betty and Veronica, Archie vibe to it, well dealing with these big demonic characters, heaven and hell coming together around these sisters, these not technically sisters, sisters. It’s very fun.

Alex:                 Yeah, it’s fun. Even in the middle of the fight, she’s like, “Do you want to tag in?” It’s just, they’re having a good time, even though there’s big stakes and things happening and I really liked the sister’s relationship. Yeah, I think this is really a fun book that makes an interesting turn at the end. But yeah, this is well done, well drawn. You can run those ones when you look at the cover, you’re like, “Oh, I get what this is.” And then you’re pleasantly rewarded for that.

Alex:                 Next up, Deceased, Dead Planet, number four from TC Comics written by Tom Taylor, art by Trevor Harrison. If you haven’t been following along, we’ve been loving this title. This takes place in a world ravaged by the anti-life equation. They have found out that cyborg holds maybe the cure to the virus that it has going around. So this issue they’re tracking down, Metron trying to get information from him to put it all together. Another great issue of this title. What’d you guys think about it?

Pete:                I mean, this comic is insane. This is so much fun. It’s nonstop action and fun moments between heroes, great kiss. Some bad-ass reveal at the end, last page. Tom Taylor is killing this book.

Justin:              Yeah, I really liked the way the Superman and Batman are done in this storyline. It’s one of the rare Elle swirled these storylines where I really think the heroes stand on their own. I could see these characters continuing on outside of this comic or just really living in this deceased world for a long time.

Alex:                 That’s great. I agree. Next up, Inkblot, number two from Image Comics written by Emma Kubert and art by Rusty Gladdest. Pete, you’re a big fan of this one.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 It’s a fantasy book with a tiny little black cat. This issue takes a very different bed. Introduces subdue characters, keeps the same cat. How do you feel about this?

Pete:                This is fun book. I don’t know what it is about this adorable cat, but-

Alex:                 Is some of the cat is very… I can’t stop looking at it.

Pete:                I don’t know if it’s the eyes or the cuteness or just the way it’s drawn.

Alex:                 It’s probably the eyes, because the eyes are the only distinguishing features.

Pete:                But I really love it. I know it’s ridiculous, but just seeing this guy who just says ‘Meow,” is just great and saves the day. Guys, just because dragons are big and scary doesn’t mean they have big and scary problems. Sometimes you just have a small problem kike your old rat stuck in the nose.

Alex:                 You worshiped the cat? The weight of the cat.

Pete:                Let’s weigh the cat guys.

Alex:                 You’re a cat guy though, Pete. That’s the thing. That’s a secret that nobody knows.

Pete:                Well, I was a dog person my whole life, but now I have a cat. And so it’s just me and Inkblot living the dream.

Alex:                 I like this issue. I just want to know what’s going on with this book, because as far as I can tell the second issue wasn’t really connected to the first issue, [crosstalk 00:51:24]-

Pete:                Yeah, one and done type of scenarios.

Alex:                 Yeah. But the first issue ended in a cliff hanger where they were going to continue the story. So I’d love to get back to that. No, that’d be cool. I think the art is very good. I like the world. There’s a glorious picture of a bunch of [ellis 00:51:42], standing in front of this, I don’t know if it’s a portal or what it is in these tree branches that is gorgeous. So I want to know more about this world, but I feel like we’re two issues in, and it’s not quite giving me enough information at this point.

Justin:              Yeah.

Alex:                 Well, I don’t know what more you need. You got adorable cat who’s solving crimes and helping people out. I mean, what the fuck else you want, man?

Justin:              [crosstalk 00:52:08]. Getting that rat.

Pete:                Got to get that rat.

Justin:              Got to get that rat. That’s what I said to my coffee mug in the morning, I drink my cup of coffee and I’m like, “Ah, time to get that rat.” Champions, number one written by Eve L. Ewing, art by Simone Di Meo. This is picking up on the champions outlawed storyline that I think began 35 years ago. I’m not 100% sure, but the champions have been… they’re not allowed to be superheroes anymore. Kids aren’t allowed to be super heroes and being a little mean, but this is obviously a victim of the pandemic where things have gotten very, very delayed.

Justin:              Finally, we are picking up on this though. What do you think about this take on Marvel’s Young Heroes?

Pete:                I mean, it just sucks that they’re no longer allowed to be heroes and they’re trying to be… there’s sting operations to get them. I mean, it’s heartbreaking stuff, you know what I mean? They earn their stripes, they should be a part of the team.

Justin:              Exactly. If I were in living in this world, I would want to [crosstalk 00:53:14]-

Pete:                You are living in this world.

Justin:              … 11, 12 year olds running around, shooting stuff through lasers.

Alex:                 Yeah, being in charge of things, making big time decisions. I love it.

Justin:              Once the team comes together and this book starts moving, I like this a lot. I’m the Van [Astervicks 00:53:32], formerly Marvel boy, former new warrior. The fact that he’s the bad guy here, now he’s called Justice. I don’t know if he’s just this way now. That was interesting. And I guess, I’m not super familiar with the dynamics of this team. I like the way the reveal at the end, and I’m curious how, if this book does have that same vibe of the new warriors that I liked back in the ’90s.

Alex:                 Yeah. It’s not quite there yet. It feels like the middle of whatever happened previously, whatever’s coming next, but once it comes together, I am interested to read it as well.

Alex:                 Last but not least, Decorum, number five written by Jonathan Hickman and art by Mike Huddleston. This might be my favorite issue of Decorum, so far personally.

Justin:              100%. I like how we always save this book for last.

Alex:                 All right, so at this book, who knows what really is going on? But in this issue, we are following our former courier character was now training at a school for assassins. And we follow her as she trains at that school over the course of many, many years. Man, this issue was great. Just a ton of fun, perfectly relayed out by Mike Huddleston phenomenal. Like I do, it’s taken us a while to get here, but just a joy to read from beginning to end.

Justin:              Yeah. I agree. I think Hickman, especially on his non big to work really pops when there’s a very clear format to the story so that he can live in that format and tell the wildest stories he can think of. I like to imagine that right after Krakola finishes, making love to a neighboring Island, Krakola falls asleep and dreams the comic book, Decorum.

Alex:                 Wow.

Justin:              Hmm, wow.

Alex:                 There’s some-

Justin:              Delilah will be here all night, listening to your heartbreaking story.

Pete:                There’s some amazing art, some amazing coloring and shading in this book. Really beautiful stuff, but it’s also repetitive and it’s also like you’re getting these symbols, the graphics, the [crosstalk 00:55:56]-

Justin:              There’s some amazing shading. There’s some amazing shading right there for people to pick.

Pete:                I get it, man. You like symbols now, and now every book has to have these little pages, in between pages that don’t have much, but have a little bit whatever-

Justin:              Dude, dude, dude, it is not now. He’s been doing that same shit for years.

Alex:                 Yes.

Pete:                Okay, cool. I guess I’m just catching on to it, but I don’t know. I guess if you like it and it’s in every book, you get used to it or grow to expect it. But I think the art is glorious, especially with… even though it’s repetitive of the same shit, the kind of goriness of it is fantastic. And then you get the, okay, she finally steps up and what that means and the aftermath. So interesting, cool storytelling, but really took its time and art’s great.

Alex:                 Alright, there you go. No better place to wrap up than that. If you would like to support this podcast, book club, also do a live show every Tuesday night at-

Justin:              We sure do.

Alex:                 … 7:00 PM to Crowdcast and YouTube. Please come check that out. Hang out, tell Pete he’s wrong about Decorum or whatever you want. I mean, and whenever you want to talk about this, it’s absolutely fine. I choose Android, Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice to subscribe and listen to the show @comicbooklive on Twitter, for this podcast, and many more. Until next time, we’ll see you at the virtual comic bookshop.

Justin:              Dreams, sweet dreams. You beautiful little islands. (singing).

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