On this week’s comic book review podcast:
Story by Donny Cates
Art by Geoff Shaw
Sweet Tooth: The Return #1
Creator, writer, artist Jeff Lemire
Wolverine: Black, White & Blood #1
Written by Gerry Duggan, Matthew Rosenberg and Declan Shalvey
Art by Adam Kubert, Joshua Cassara and Declan Shalvey
Created by Arash Amel, Lee Krieger and Joseph Oxford
Script by Clay McLeod Chapman
Art by Jakub Rebelka
Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons #1
Dark Horse Comics/IDW
Written by Jody Houser & Jim Zub
Line art by Diego Galindo
Written by Brian Jones
Art by Jake Elphick
Written by Priest
Art by Georges Jeanty
That Texas Blood #5
By Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips
Mighty Morphin’ #1
Written by Ryan Parrott
Illustrated by Marco Renna
Spy Island #3
Dark Horse Comics
Written bye Chelsea Cain
Art by Lea Mitternique
Web of Venom: Empyre’s End #1
Written by Clay McLeod Chapman
Art by Guiu Villanova
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Carlo Pagulayan
Written by Kurtis Wiebe
Illustrated by Justin Barcelo
The Goddamned: The Virgin Brides #4
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by r.m. Guéra
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Nic Klein
Wicked Things #6
Created and written by John Allison
Art by Max Sarin
DCeased: Dead Planet #5
Written by Tom Taylor
Art by Trevor Hairsine
Written by Emma Kubert
Art by Rusty Gladd
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mahmud Asrar and Leinil Yu
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Stefano Caselli
Full Episode Transcript:
Alex: What’s up, everybody? Welcome to The Stack. I’m Alex.
Justin: I’m Justin.
Pete: I’m Pete.
Alex: And on The Stack, we talk about a bunch of comic books that have come out this week.
Pete: We sure do.
Alex: This is the main thing people are concerned about right now is new comics. That’s what we’re all talking about on this Wednesday morning. So let’s get into it. Let’s talk about new comics. Let’s just chill out and have a good time and not stress about absolutely anything else going on in the world. Kick it off with Crossover #1 from Image Comics, story by Donny Cates, art by Jeff Shaw. This is a highly anticipated comic. And I got to say, I feel like it was worth the wait. If you didn’t pick it up, mild spoilers here. But the idea of the book is it takes place in a world where a comic book crossover suddenly pops up in the real world, in Colorado, essentially changing the entire world. And a bunch of things reverberate off of there years later, as we meet various characters who have been affected by this comic book crossover. What did guys think about this book?
Pete: Well, from the cover, I really wanted to get blasted in the face with a rainbow. And I’m glad that they took the time to make sure that happened in the comic, so-
Justin: So you felt like you got blasted in the face?
Pete: Yeah, yeah. I felt like they did a good job of getting that across.
Justin: I like this book a lot as well. It’s one of those like, bang bang premise books where it’s just like, this is it. And then it’s like you slowly then start to meet the characters. And I do think in this book specifically, you don’t really get too much of a sense of the characters by the end of the first issue. But the premise is such a sort of satisfying idea that I think it sells it on that alone.
Pete: Can I just be the guy who says the thing we’re all thinking? That little girl in the comic, shitty artist, she’s probably not going to be able to get any work.
Justin: Wow. Because she’s got dots.
Alex: No, no she draws-
Pete: No, because of her artist skills.
Alex: Yeah, she draws a not so great drawing by the end of the book.
Justin: I see, I see, I got you. Oh at the end, yes.
Alex: What I really appreciate about this, like you’re saying Justin is, there’s so many things that are nicely set up in this book beyond the central concept of the book. It’s such, as usual, smart writings from Donny Cates. It also really stretches Jeff Shaw, in terms of multiple comic book styles. The promise here is that Donnie and Jeff have gotten characters that we know. This isn’t just them, creating a world whole cloth. This is also them bringing in characters from Image from other comic book companies, that this is legitimately a actual comic book crossover. And we haven’t quite gotten there yet. Because most of it, we’re spending outside of Colorado and the ground zero zone where it all goes down.
Alex: But the promise is, we’re going to get there soon. And I would be shocked if we don’t get things like Rick Grimes walking in front of a comic book store, Savage Dragon popping through. At least all of these Image Comics characters, and potentially some DC and Marvel characters through as well. As long as it stays grounded in those characters, the main characters of the book, I think it’s going to be a wild ride to take.
Justin: Yeah, and the revelation at the end of the first issue was like, “Oh, shit, can they do this?” And I think that’s a great feeling to have at the end of an issue. Like, can they pull this off? And feeling like, “Well, this issue is good.” So yeah, they probably can.
Pete: It’ll be interesting. I think it does a good job of being like, “Here is something that… We all know what a crossover means. Like, here’s the title that’s going to grab you and then kind of try to put a twist on it.” And it is that will they be able to pull this off? And that’s very exciting for a first issue.
Alex: Let’s talk about another book that probably shouldn’t work. But I think of course totally does. Sweet Tooth: The Return #1 from DC Comics creator, writer and artist, Jeff Lemire. As you can figure out from the title, this is Jeff Lemire, returning to a almost perfect comic book series, Sweet Tooth years later, that was about a young animal boy that pairs up with an old man journeys through a post apocalyptic world try to find Safe harbor. They eventually kind of found it. And this picks up as happens in the first panel of the first issue, 300 years later, except things are happening again. As they say in old Twin Peaks, it is happening again. And that’s definitely a lot of the vibe that I think we get here. Man, I loved this book and the audacity of it and the fact that I have no idea where it’s going to go. Particularly by the end, how’d you guys feel?
Justin: I agree with you like the idea of setting the premise like, oh, the story is starting over and we’re hitting very similar beats, but in a totally different world, means they’re going to just like totally throw that out of whack. Like very quickly, I think. And I love Sweet Tooth. It’s such a distinct book, and to be able to see it back on the shelves in a limited series though. Right. So that’s a totally different thing.
Alex: Yes. Pete What do you think about this one? You’re a big Sweet Tooth fan.
Pete: Yeah, this was-
Justin: You got a real sweet tooth.
Pete: Yeah, it just… Don’t get me started, I eat so much fucking candy.
Alex: Hey Pete you got the sweetest teeth I’ve ever seen.
Justin: Hey it’s Sweet Pete. Who’s here? It’s Sweetie Petey. Looking for his little sugar lick.
Alex: Sweet Pete you want one of your meat treats?
Pete: When you guys are done.
Justin: Never done.
Pete: So Black Label’s putting this, which is interesting. It means they can kind of get a little crazier. So it’ll be interesting to see how much they push on that side. But I thought like the art was great. It really felt like Sweet Tooth. I thought it was very kind of weird world that he kind of woke up in. This inside, but kind of outside world. So I think they did a good job being like, “Hey, remember everything you love still here? New-ish kind of scenario. Come along for this ride.” And I think yeah, it does a great job of getting you excited for another story, with this team with this kind of gang that we know and love. So I think they did a great job of kind of returning to the well on this.
Alex: Yeah, I agree. Let’s move on to another one that I’m sure you like Pete. Wolverine Black, White and Blood #1 from Marvel Comics written by Gerry Duggan, Matthew Rosenberg, Declan Shalvey, art by Adam Kubert, Joshua Cassara and Declan Shalvey. As you could probably figure out from the title, I think this is an anthology all about Wolverine that uses black, white, and blood and that’s pretty much it. So-
Justin: Actual blood.
Justin: Human blood is what it’s printed in this book.
Pete: So, this is just the story that I need right now. With all the insane shit going on I just want a Wolverine story. Okay, I don’t want to have to think about Fuck Island or how many swords, whatever, who’s got and read a bunch of fucking menus or articles or whatever the fuck in between panels. Just give me a fucking comic book about Wolverine. Thank you. Yes, this is my favorite pick from the week. I loved it. Great use of red, and then the black and white coloring. This is just a lot of fun and good times.
Justin: Exactly. Pete, you’re right. It’s so simple. The first story is just a simple story about a man from the 19th century who is born a mutant, has a healing factor he falls in love with the red haired woman. Later he is absorbed into a Weapon X program which is run by a secret government organization. He’s experimented on, adamantium is added to his claws for some reason, in his skeletal system. He is then trained to fight using magnets, fight other monsters, that are built in this thing, and that people eventually feel pity for him because he does have some sort of conscience. It’s a simple story.
Pete: Yeah it’s simple. Just give me a Wolverine story. All right.
Alex: Classic. It’s like Dick and Jane, basically.
Justin: Yes. Exactly, you’re talking about of course, the Jim Carrey movie.
Alex: As usual with this sort of thing I think. Gerry Dugan and Matthew Rosenberg, Declan Shalvey, all good storytellers.
Pete: The Dugs.
Alex: The Dugs. So they’re all solid stories. For my money, the Declan Shalvey-
Pete: Rosenberg’s great.
Alex: … The third story is easily the best one. And I think part of that is that Declan Shalvey, as both the writer and the artist understands the challenge here and creates a story that plays to the strengths of the panels. It’s simpler, it’s more straightforward. It plays to those splashes, the small splashes both of blood but also the splash of the paddles. And I like that one quite a bit. Personally.
Justin: Interesting. I really like the Weapon X story from Gerry Dugan.
Pete: I loved the Rosenberg story the most. The Wolverine and a baby, I don’t need to see that. But [Zaubs 00:09:40] you do you. But what’s nice is three stories. If you pick this book up, probably like one of them. I thought this was great. You what you’re getting and it delivers.
Justin: One of my favorite movies was Three Claws and a Little Baby. So I get it.
Pete: I thought you were going to say and a little lady, but you didn’t.
Justin: No, I preferred baby.
Alex: That’s the sequel.
Justin: The sequel, yeah.
Justin: One claw’s played by Steve Gutenberg, one claw’s played by Ted Danson…
Pete: Come on, The Gute-
Alex: What do you prefer? Do you prefer Three Claws and a Baby or Claws Academy?
Justin: That’s though, or the Santa Claws? We’re getting to that season.
Alex: Origins #1 from Boom Studios created by Arash Amel, Lee Krieger and Joseph Oxford, script by Clay McLeod Chapman and art by Jacob Rebelka . I got to tell you I probably should have done some research here because I was very confused about the credits. Is this a video game or was this a previous property Why are there so many creators and a different script writer? What’s going on? But as it is the hero here I think is Jacob Rebelka’s art which is weird, set in a post-apocalyptic world, there’s a bunch of people wandering through. It seems very close to the Museum of Natural History but clearly isn’t. They pick up those strawberries but the strawberries are very bad for you. I needed more information personally in this first issue, but I still like the art quite a bit.
Justin: The strawberries are just filled with worms. It’s not like they’re…
Alex: Oh, okay. Gotcha. So normal strawberries.
Justin: A normal strawberry.
Justin: I agree with you, the art in this book is amazing. I’m very intrigued by the story. I don’t know exactly what’s happening. It feels like there’s a some sort of clone baby, but they talk about the baby, who is then later somewhat more of an adult, is named David. But they make it seem like he’s famous somehow. Is there a David that you think it is, like David Beckham?
Justin: Oh, yes. When I was five, David Copperfield made me disappear.
Pete: Yeah, you’ve told us that story.
Alex: Yeah, we know.
Justin: Have I told you that story? Yeah, well, just letting me know, it’s available-
Alex: Not to interrupt but when I was five, David Beckham made me disappear.
Justin: He bent you out of reality.
Alex: Pete, what do you think about this one?
Pete: I think the art’s are unbelievable. I love the kind of like, seeing the subway entrance in the middle of the grass was kind of really cool.
Justin: It’s lush.
Pete: Yeah, it’s very creative. It’s a cool story. I’m excited to see where this goes. But as of now, it’s like, there’s this baby named David. And so it’s like, is this…
Justin: Oh, David Schwimmer.
Pete: Oh, it’s a friend’s reference. Because David Schwimmer did have that scene where he got it on in the museum.
Justin: Yes, he worked in a museum and it’s in New York.
Pete: Yeah. So that’s it, right there.
Justin: And if you’re going to need to clone a human to restart the population. You’re going to want a Schwimmer. You’re going to want to get a Schwimmer.
Pete: Yeah, you’re going to want a Schwimmer.
Alex: You got to yell “Get me the pall bearer.”
Justin: Yes, definitely. Iconic film.
Alex: Stranger Things Dungeons and Dragons #1 from Dark Horse Comics and [crosstalk 00:13:16]-
Alex: Written by Jody Houser and Jim Zub. Line art by Diego Galindo. This is something that Jim Zub plugged on our live show many, many weeks ago at this point. I still kind of didn’t know what to expect going in this. But I was surprised how much I enjoyed this. There are less of the Stranger Things and more as an homage, a loving tribute to the history of Dungeons and Dragons is what kind of comes through here. And that’s kind of nice.
Pete: Yeah, that’s what the Zub-hub was talking about. Like he was really talking about how this really is a love letter to D&D, and kind of really gets into it. And I thought that was a cool kind of way to come at it. You can tell from this, the passion kind of just comes through in the pages. At first when he was telling us on the show, I was like, “Okay.” But this really works in this comic, I thought this was a lot of fun. And I love the kind of little pages at the end where you can kind of start your own. I thought this was great. I thought this was a lot of fun.
Justin: It felt like regular things. It felt like, just things. They were just going about their business as kids. That’s not a criticism per se it’s just I think this is a hard prequel to the TV show Stranger Things. Bringing in how they got into D&D, which is very cool. And I like this book a lot better than the other Stranger Things book that we read, I think last week, because it feels a little more true to the characters and it feels like in line with the story of the TV show.
Pete: It’s going to get strange. All right, they’re just kind of starting things out first.
Alex: Yeah, they’ve started with Dungeons and Dragons. They’re going to move to Advanced Dungeons and Dragon and that’s when things are going to get real fucked up.
Pete: Real strange.
Justin: That’s crazy.
Alex: Let’s move on to Backtrack #8 from Oni Press written by Brian Joines and are by Jake Elphick. This is, as we’ve plugged in many, many times, about a Cannonball Run style race but through time. Here mysteries are slowly starting to unfold about the racers who are all tied to the race in different ways. They also end back in pirate times, which is a fun era to put them in. I, as usual, had quite a blast reading this issue. How’d you guys feel about this one?
Justin: It’s fun. We’re getting into a lot of like, specific character, small moves. And I feel like we’re building up towards sort of some big revelations here pretty soon. And yeah, I like them being in pirate times. It’s a fun, iconic place for them to be.
Pete: Yeah, it’s interesting, because it’s like this crazy race throughout time. So you’re like, “Oh, Fast and Furious meets Back to the Future.” But like, what’s great is we’re getting as we’re in this insane race, we’re getting little kind of windows into people’s backstory, why they’re here, why they are the way that they are. And it’s nicely layered, like some comics issues are more focused on the race. This one’s a little bit more focused on the kind of story, which is good. This comic continues to be really great, the art is fantastic. And it really adjusts to what time period it’s in such a great way.
Alex: I also like that we’ve finally gotten to a point with this book where it feels like Well, you can’t eliminate any of these characters. But of course, they’re going to and that’s going to make it hurt that much more. We’re not quite there yet, but in the next couple of issues, it feels like that’s coming. And that’s a good emotional place for the book to be in. Still a blast to read. If you haven’t read it, definitely pick it up.
Alex: Next up US Agent #1 from Marvel Comics written by Priest, art by George Jeanty. I was very excited personally to see George Jeanty on this book. I’ve really liked his art a lot since he was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other things. He’s good stuff. Of course priest, always reliable. And this is a bonkers book about the asshole Captain America going through the heartland, fighting who even knows why. But I really really enjoyed this quite a bit just for how best up it was. How’d you guys feel about it?
Justin: Yeah, if you’re looking for sort of a Hawkeye style comic. I feel like this has some strong like Hawkeye vibes back when he was living in Brooklyn with the Russian tracksuit dudes. That whole thing feels very much in line with what this book is. Except he’s a little bit more of a shit head. Sort of in the Scott Lane Ant Man style and constantly being mistaken for Captain America which that’s going to burn.
Pete: Yeah, I was really happy when that one pizza delivery guy kicked the shit out of them. That was great.
Justin: It is a weird… Like the story, like USA Agent. There’s a pizza delivery man who becomes his sort of sidekick. He’s keeping all these other pizza delivery people in the basement. Like I don’t quite know what the whole thing, the whole deal is here. But it’s fun. And it’s super unique, I feel like.
Alex: Yeah, that feels like typical Priest stuff to be where it’s just these details thrown in. Where you’re like, “What I can’t quite get a handle on this, but it’s still fascinating at the same time.” Let’s move into a very dark turn for a book that we’ve been enjoying quite a bit. That Texas Blood #5, from Image Comics by Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips. Again, when we had Chris Condon on the show a couple of weeks back, he promised that things were going to get real bad real soon, and oh, boy, they got real bad as our main character is losing his mind down in Texas doing some very dark stuff. In the name of his brother being killed. This is definitely the most brutal issue of this yet. I would say.
Justin: Yeah, I like this book a lot. I feel like the art in this issue specifically is so good. Some hard boiled crime I’m sure this book gets compared to Criminal a ton. And if you’re a fan of that, like this is right in line. I do think it’s strange that they use the same interior monologue lettering as a Criminal. And Jacob Philips is Sean Phillips’ son. I would move away from that because I think this book really stands alone on its own right. It doesn’t need to feel like it’s drafting off of Criminal’s success.
Alex: How do you feel about Pete?
Pete: Yeah, I think the art’s unbelievable. This is some real great storytelling, very intense. This book moves at a very interesting pace. It’s sometimes very fast, sometimes it seems like slow. But this is a really kind of great storytelling. Great character stuff. I’m very much enjoying myself.
Alex: Let’s move on then and talk about Mighty Morphin #1 from Boom Studios, written by Ryan Parrott, illustrated by Marco Renna like that Texas blood This is a brutal issue for the Power Rangers. Just devastating, it’s a lot of blood.
Justin: Devastating. Oh, Power Rangers. That makes sense, now. They must have left the other two words off the title.
Alex: Yeah, well, that’s how you know they’re being serious. Unlike the other actually very dark Power Rangers books that we’ve been reading recently. This is a return to form. This is like classic Power Rangers. The Green Ranger is evil is he not? We don’t even know who he is. Doesn’t matter. You got all the villains here. You got all the Power Rangers. But with a slightly more modern style. How did you people feel about this one, particularly given that we’ve been quite enjoying the other Power Rangers books that have been coming out from Boom.
Justin: This book felt like when you’re at a party, when we used to go to parties, and you end up talking to someone you don’t really know. And they tell you a very long story and you’re like, “I don’t know you. Why are you telling me this crazy involved story about your life? Like where are we going with this?” It felt like, “Oh yeah, I guess I see how that relates. Oh, the mighty Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Yeah. Oh, I see like we’re dealing with Zed and all this stuff.” But I will say I enjoyed reading. Despite the fact that it’s definitely feels like not my wheelhouse. Pete, how did you feel? Got to shoot your Bulk and Skull?
Pete: Yeah, I mean, this is great. This is just fun. This, to me was like a animated version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers kind of like the new update of Voltron. I very much had a lot of fun. We got some great fighting, some badass panda stuff. It was fun to see them talk about making the villains and that kind of stuff. Yeah, I thought the reveal at the end was great. I think this was just fun, Mighty Morphin comic stuff.
Justin: It checks out. That’s the title and he said stuff at the end. So that’s what it is.
Alex: I did like the reveal at the end. I think what I have been responding to and the other Mighty Morphin books that have been set in this post apocalyptic world where the Power Rangers mostly lost in the villains that are trying to just kind of hold on to what they have, is this idea of playing with the continuity. Which the shows could never do because they’re mostly working off of what the Japanese versions, right? Of Power Rangers then remixing them. So they’re all very kiddy and very silly and badly dubbed on purpose and all of these things. That just I never liked, this splits the difference between those two things. So to your point Justin, I also actually had a fun time reading this even if it is not quite my thing. But definitely more of my thing is those other books I would personally lean towards those.
Justin: I agree and obviously I’ve always been a Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog. But it’s especially funny the way that… I was surprised by how all their animals, the animal machines they ride are like saber toothed tiger and all that. I was like, “They all look exactly the same, but they’re all different.” The mythology of the Power Rangers is so weird and convoluted.
Alex: Yeah, I just can’t get a handle on it.
Pete: Yeah, if that stuff made sense to you won’t be pulled out of the story like that I think.
Alex: I’ll tell you, not to pull back the curtain too much but at my day job I got offered this exclusive clip for I want to say Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Dino Thunder or something like that.
Pete: Oh, wow.
Alex: Yeah, I know. And they sent it to me. And it was the casts from like four different Power Rangers shows all getting together. So clearly we’ve done enough stuff that I could watch it I was like, “Okay, this is like Avengers: Endgame for Power Rangers.” But it was such a deep dive to understand what they were talking about at any point in that clip. Normally a clip I’m like, all right, I could write this up and half an hour tops. That’s it. But this one I was like opening up wikis and looking at casts, and debut dates and everything. I was like “What is happening here? This is weird.” But there you go. Deep dives.
Alex: Let’s move on to another one. Which is a one of my favorite books that is coming out right now, Spy Island #3 from Dark Horse Comics written by Chelsea Kane art by Lia Miternique. So this is set on an island in the Bermuda Triangle that is filled with spies of different types. In this issue our mean spy is starting to figure out that her father, who is also on the island hiding out as a mime may have a bigger plan at work. We also find out more about what happened to the first two issues in terms of what she laid down. This book is fantastic. In my mind, it is like a perfect mix between Mind Management and Superior Foes of Spiderman with a flavor of his own. And I am loving every single issue of it. How are you guys feeling?
Pete: Well, I was waiting for you to go. This is really kind of crazy, but it’s also a lot of fun. I also like the kind of art. The way the art changes throughout the book. The whole like a series where she’s dating different dudes and the kind of like the way the father sees the dudes, very interesting. Yeah, I think this is a very creative, cool book and the art matches it perfectly in such a cool way. Yeah, I’m not always understanding what’s happening, but it’s very interesting and very creative. So yeah, I think this is a great book.
Justin: Yeah, I agree. It’s really funny. It reminds me a bit of Mark Russell’s Flintstones, I guess all of Mark Russell’s stuff. If you’re a fan of that, like this book is like legitimately funny, it has sort of an irreverent tone. The way they do full page sort of jokes, visual jokes is really awesome. But it’s still has like some… I’m very interested in the story as well. Like, these characters are fun. Like I don’t quite know what’s happening with the mystery itself. But it’s just a smart world and universe this book creates in every issue.
Alex: Yeah. I just wanted to reiterate what you said Pete about Lia Miternique’s art which collages in so many different styles throughout the book, it’s so impressive.
Pete: Very impressive. They’re straight flexing. It’s unbelievable in this.
Alex: It’s great. Yes, straight flexing is actually a really good way to put it. It’s definitely a book to be like, “Here’s what we could do. Here’s what we can show off.” It’s awesome. Definitely pick it up. Next up Web of Venom: Empyres End #1 for Marvel Comics, written by Clay McCloud Chapman, art by Guiu Villanova. This is as you can probably tell from the title, following up on the End of Empyre as a bunch of the Skrull and Cree leave Earth at run directly into the King in Black, the next event, and have literally like a crossover, while one of them is heading one way the other is heading the other. And ends up like aliens on a Skrull ship. I like this, I was a little hesitant, just because it wasn’t Donny Cates ready to get and he’s been such a mastermind behind this event. But I thought this was a very good, scary book.
Justin: That’s such a funny way to put it, Alex. Because it really does feel like it’s we’re backstage at Marvel and one event is like, “Hey, we finished our performance. Thank you so much.” And another event is like, “Oh, we’re up next. We’re going to… Sorry. Oh, did we sorry, we bumped into you and made a big mess with all of our symbiont juice. So sorry.” Because it is like, when I saw this I was like, “Empyre. No way.” But it is actually a great story and it does have that sort of Aliens. Like it’s game over man for everybody in this issue. And the King in Black is terrifying. Like I’m excited to see this event the more I see of sort of the insanity. Reminds me of the insane Adam Warlock from back in Infinity Gauntlet days, as the villain here. And it’s a good read even though it feels unessential from the title. It’s worth picking up.
Pete: Yeah, I mean, they got some space vampire bats in here. This is just some crazy, fun stuff that’s going on. Yeah, I mean, it’s just kind of like alright, space aliens. Cool. There’s not too much more going on but it’s definitely a cool comic and worth checking out.
Alex: Next up Batman 102 from DC Comics written by James Tynion IV in art by Carlo Pagulayan. This is the intro of Ghost-Maker who of course, is the guy who builds ghosts. We all know that in the DC Universe.
Pete: No, no, because when he makes ghost by killing you and then you’re a ghost. That’s how that’s…
Justin: Oh no, I think he makes the ghost in the original Pac Man game. He made Inky, Blinky, Dot.
Pete: And also just in case you’re wondering he doesn’t like crochet little ghosts either makes them. No. Okay, he kills people turning them into ghosts.
Justin: I guess we have different takes.
Alex: So this introduces that character. And Ghost-Maker, well, he got introduced before, but this is his official introduction. He is going directly for Clownhunter. So we got two new additions to the Batman mythos, going head to head with Batman, of course stuck in the middle. As it turns out, though, Ghost-Maker has a deep tie to Batman’s origin. Pete you got to like this right? There was a lot of fighting.
Pete: Yeah, this was a great issue. I love the action. Also fun reveal. Well, all right, let me back up the truck a little bit. Love the Batman like punch entrance. Nice when you can like make your entrance and punch someone in the face. I mean, that’s like-
Justin: Yes. I’ve seen you walk into a lot of weddings.
Pete: Yeah, anyways. But I think this was a ton of action, which is great. But also the way they kind of knew each other, the way it was like, “Ghost-Maker.” “Batman.” And like right into it. It was really cool. Also very interesting how Clownhunter is still hanging on like still a thing. I thought Clownhunter would have kind of like faded away after Batman gave him his talking to. But not the case. And now we’re also dealing with Grinners which is interesting. Talking to Oracle on the old earpiece there “Okay, that’s cool.” But I think that they also had some funny moments like when Knife Guy was like, “I hate teenagers.” That was hilarious.
Justin: Because you hate teenagers?
Pete: No, no, I just think that it was like a funny line, where he’s like, “Teenagers.” But yeah, I think there’s some interesting stuff happening in this. And instead of kind of like a cool down from such a big event that we just had. The fact that they kind of ramped it right back up into that it’s very kind of interesting. And also cool name, Ghost Stories part one.
Justin: I feel like James Tynion got sort of his first big story out of the way. And now he can really settle in and create his bat universe. And I think Clownhunter, Ghost-Maker are a big part of that. Really leaving his mark on Batman as a character and the whole world there. And I like that. I’m excited that we’re sort of in that point in his arc here.
Pete: And it’s also interesting to have a villain that’s like, “Yo, Batman, do your fucking job. Gotham is a shit show. It’s constantly on fire. Like What’s your deal?” That’s an interesting way to come at it.
Alex: A lot of the discussion in this book is about what Gotham is now that the Joker War is done and what it’s going to become next. I’m excited for what’s going to become next. And I trust James Tynion enough to bring it there. But to your point, Justin, he thought he was only going to be on until Issue 100 and he’s continuing from there. So in my mind definitely feels like “Oh, okay, I’m going to keep going. Alright, I’m going to set up the next 15, 20, 30 issues, however long I’m on for.” Versus what I was doing before, which was my definitive Batman story.
Alex: So I’m curious to see what this sets up and where it goes. Because again, I trust James Tynion’s storytelling, he has certainly proved himself more than capable. Let’s move on to Dryad #6 from Oni Press written by Kurtis Wiebe, and illustrated by Justin [Barcello 00:33:49]. This issue our main family is still hanging out in cyberpunk Tech City, trying to figure out what’s going on. Trying to figure out if they should help the kids who are currently in a coma. Turns out they don’t need help, they do wake up by the end. We find out another huge revelation about our family. I got to tell you, I was not totally into the cyberpunk stuff in this issue. But I definitely turned around by the end. Love the twist there. I thought that was so great for the series going forward. What was your guys take on it?
Justin: I agree. I love the way the story is unfolding. I think the way they’re able to capitalize on this two pronged like fantasy side of the story and the technological side of the story. In a way that it’s a tough trick to pull off. And I think it is working on both fronts. I like the sort of Blade Runner vibe to the front end of the book. And then when we shift generations to the kids for the back end, I like all these characters. I’m curious to hear… It feels like this is sort of like a mission went bad a long time ago and we’re dealing with the fallout is what this series is actually about. So I want to know What that is. I feel like that was a reveal in this issue that we didn’t really know from before.
Pete: This book continues to be very, very creative. Each issue kind of comes at things a little differently. It’s fun to see what you’re going to get with every issue. Yeah, and we keep getting deeper into the story. They’re doing a good job of kind of piecemealing information while still giving us a lot of action. Fun reveal at the end. I think this is very interesting. And also it’s cool the way they kind of swap around styles. So I continued to be impressed by this book.
Alex: Cool. Next up The Goddamned: the Virgin Brides from Image Comics written by Jason Aaron and art by R.M. Guera. Pete, I know what you’re going to say it’s creepy. So Justin, what did you think about this button?
Justin: This is a book you want to leave out for your grandparents, they’re going to love the fighting, they’re going to love the very short tops that expose all of your breasts. It’s a good stuff for the older generation. But I like this book a lot. The R.M. Guera art is unbelievable. It’s so detailed. It feels like it’s in the style of Prince Valiant, but with a exciting, much more irreverent story. And the twists and turns, it’s also written from the point of view where like, I don’t know… We have our protagonists who are on the run. They’re virgin brides who are supposed to mate with this like monster basically, that is the god here. And they escaped, we’re on the run. And then things aren’t going well, basically. And I feel like this book could be very harsh with its character, so I really don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Alex: Yeah, I agree. That’s one of the biggest things about the book is it’s very dark, and it’s a super gritty, I hesitate to say realistic but that probably gives the best sense of it take on the Bible and biblical mythology. But if you look at the Bible, lots of people dying all the time, or almost dying or horrible things happening to them almost constantly. So it’s actually very-
Justin: Not a fun read. Not a fun read.
Alex: Yeah. Not a beach… I don’t usually take the Bible to the beach, to be honest, like to read it, to just chill out. But like you said, R.M. Guera’s art is fantastic. This is very dark. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next issue at all. But there’s a crazy cliffhanger that happens that was awesome. Good stuff. Let’s move on to talk about Thor #9.
Pete: I just wanted to say.
Alex: Yeah, yeah.
Pete: I agree with you. The ending was really kind of amazing.
Justin: You do like it, you love it.
Pete: No, it’s creeptastic in all the wrong ways.
Justin: But do you like the art Pete? Because this is R.M. Guera, same artist on Scalped? Which you like.
Pete: Yeah, amazing artist.
Alex: Would you say it’s worth it for the art alone?
Alex: You’re very wrong.
Justin: Can’t get past it.
Alex: Yeah. Thor #9 from Marvel Comics written by Donny Cates art by Nick Klein. So this is kicking off a new crazy story arc. Donny Cates doing his Donny Cates Marvel thing as he goes back to an old part of Marvel continuity, lifts it up again and makes it as fucked up as possible. In this case, we’re exploring what happens to Donald Blake when Thor comes out. Something that we haven’t touched out in years. Where does he go? And it ends up being pretty messed up. But I love where the storyline is going. And Nick Klein’s art of this book is phenomenal. So good. What did you guys think?
Justin: Totally agree. Like I love… This is my favorite book of the week, the way that finding this little bit of Thor mythology that has been just legitimately ignored. Dr. Blake was the character that was Thor’s human form and he would tap his walking stick and become Thor. And Thor just hasn’t transformed out of him. It’s like Bruce Banner has been the Hulk for so long that like what’s Bruce Banner up to? And we get to explore that side of that here. And it is fucked up. And it’s super smart the way we get there and to have Donald Blake become this new aspect of the Thor mythology I think is super exciting.
Pete: I don’t know man. Like this is to me, it’s like, it’s okay if we’re out of ideas, guys, we can just maybe…
Justin: Harsh take.
Pete: What it’s like, “Hey, remember how I turn into this guy? Well, when I turn into him, he just kind of walks the earth. What if he got angry about that?” And it’s like “Wait, what is happening? What are we doing right now?”
Alex: That’s what’s happening, you just described what’s happening.
Pete: Yeah, I know, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.
Justin: It’s fun though. It’s like when Wolverine when he died he had to fight a sword dude. Like that was cool.
Alex: Was it?
Pete: Yeah, I don’t know if it was.
Justin: I liked the fighting this sword dude. I didn’t like the fact that he came back from just a little speck of blood Lobo-style.
Alex: I do love… I don’t know, just I love the visual of what happens when Donald Blake finally comes out of his reverie, the way that Nick Klein draws him. I don’t know if Nick Klein specifically designed him
Pete: The art’s unbelievable.
Pete: The art’s unbelievable.
Alex: Yeah, it’s great. It’s worth it for the art alone, I would say.
Alex: The that Nick Klein designs the new Dr. Donald Blake is great.
Justin: What a cool turn of phrase.
Alex: It’s a great new villain for the Marvel Universe. Spoiler, obviously, but I think in the same way that Donny introduced Cosmic Ghost Rider. And it immediately became like, “Oh, it’s this thing. Like that exists. That’s fun. That is a fun thing to look at.” Yeah, it’s the same thing with whatever Dr. Donald Blake has become. It’s a fun clear visual and I love it. And I’m excited to see what this means, it ties into the overall mythology that he’s building for Thor, with what’s happening with Mjolnir. It just feels very smart across the board.
Alex: Next up, Wicked Things #6 from Boombox created written by John Allison and art by Max Sarin. We’ve been very complimentary of this book, which follows a teen detective who is framed, probably for murder, as she ends up teaming up with the police department in I believe London. Not 100% sure, but I’m going to say yes. And she is pretty much smarter than him. This is a weird ending for this book I got to say. It feels like there were supposed to be more issues. And then it got cut short, personally, which is disappointing, even though I enjoyed this issue as well.
Justin: Well, that may be true. It does feel… It could also just be a cliffhanger that they’re really pushing. I think the last page makes it feel like there was truly like a page ripped out of the back of the book. And I was like, “Wait, what?” I wanted to know how this conversation ends. But in general, it’s fun. This main character is such a fun… I love her energy. I like the world this is in which is like this detective, 14 to 16 years old, the best detective in the world. And there’s a moment where she’s being held hostage and you expect her to like elbow the guy and get away. But it doesn’t happen because she’s just a regular teen detective. And I think that’s fun that they’re really keeping within the storyline.
Pete: Just a regular teen detective?
Justin: Yeah, like a…
Pete: Like a normal teen detective.
Justin: Because like, surely you were a teen… You solved some crimes in your small town, right Pete?
Pete: Oh definitely. Definitely did. Yeah, I agree. This is a ton of fun.
Alex: Sorry, Pete, what did they call you? They called you Thesaurus LePage?
Pete: No they didn’t.
Justin: He was really good with saying other words that were like words.
Justin: He didn’t solve a lot of mysteries but he was like, “Oh, I think you mean sweaty.”
Pete: Yeah, I think it did feel a little rushed. Every issue up until this issue didn’t feel that way. But man, this is still a great story. Really creative, fun, main character. I could definitely see a lot more with her. I hope they keep going in some iteration or whatever. But yeah, this has been a lot of fun and I hope this doesn’t end.
Alex: I agree with definitely worth picking up in trade whenever it’s collected and hopefully we’ll get a second series of it. Moving on to DCeased: Dead Planet #5 from DC Comics, written by Tom Taylor and art by Trevor Hairsine. In this issue John Constantine is launching a desperate mission to fight back against the anti life plague. And it’s predictably dark but with moments of real humanity and humor, everything that we’ve come to expect from this series I think so far.
Justin: This book has really migrated to the top of my stack like I love reading a book. It’s a good book. The characters are fun. The Damian Wayne Batman is great. Constantine still a dick. Just a straight up dick.
Pete: Oh man.
Justin: There’s some fun jokes here.
Pete: Constantine is great in this book, this book continues to impress. And I think this was a really great Constantine, hilariously messing with Dr. Fate and Swamp Thing even getting in on the joke. Batman doing father jokes, I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel about that. But Batman getting a punch in at the end, liked that. That was good. But yeah, this continues to be a very creative, very funny, well done comic that does like a lot of cool things. The Shazaam moment in this is so badass. That was so cool. Yeah, I thought this was a great, great issue.
Justin: And there’s a lot of dread here still where like any character could die and everything could go wrong at any moment. And I believe on the last page at the bottom they say things get worse.
Alex: There we go. Next up Inkblot #3 from Image Comics written by Emma Kubert, art by Rusty Gladd. I got to tell you I keep throwing this book in the stack because I can’t wait to figure it out. Like what’s going on here. There’s a little bit more of a hint in terms of this is a cat that can jump through universes?
Pete: That’s the thing.
Alex: I guess that’s the idea of the book that they establish at the beginning here. Pete, you’ve been enjoying this book. What did you think about this issue?
Pete: Yeah, I don’t know what it is. It’s just the two eyes are so adorable. It gets me.
Justin: You’re a cat guy.
Pete: I’m a cat guy now. So like I get it, cats are very mysterious. They have a lot of things going on that they don’t share with us. And yeah, I think that this makes sense of how the Loch Ness Monster came into fruition. I think this is just a crazy kind of creative book. And the art is phenomenal, some adorable storytelling. This is just fun.
Alex: I just wanted to mention Justin before you get into your comments if you are a cat who would like to share something with us. Please email us at ComicBookClublive@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you. Justin over to you.
Justin: Yes. I always pick up after the cat call out.
Pete: After the cat plug.
Justin: Cat plug. We’re looking to meet some single cats. There’s something about this book. The art is really cool. And I think changing gears a little bit with this issue, for the few issues it was like what’s the big story here? But I think reading this issue it was like, oh maybe it’s just like fun little romps with this cat.
Alex: Yeah, yeah I think so too. I felt a lot better about this one that I did for the first two because I was trying to figure it out. But I had the same sense as you did Justin. I reserve the right to be robbed with issue #4. But the art is so good and it is a fun little pirate adventure with a cat and the Loch Ness Monster, enjoyable stuff.
Justin: I reserve the right to be wrong.
Alex: Last thing here we’re going to end with our X of Swords, X of Swords block, talking about two issues that came out from Marvel. We got X-men #14, written by Jonathan Hickman art by Mahmud Asrar and Leinil Yu. Marauders #14 written by Gerry Dugan and art by Stefano Caselli, two very different issues. So I do think actually, if anything, we kind of need to talk about them differently. But so far, the champions of Arakko and the champions of Krakoa and they gathered in Otherworld for a dinner. In the first issue and X-men we find out about Apocalypse and his wife, what went on there we find out about her secret history. Pete’s got to love that one because there was a lot of text and confusing things that happened.
Alex: And then in Marauders everybody gets together for dinner and things go predictably badly. Would you think about these chapters of X of Sword? And Pete I know you’re upset they’re not fighting with swords yet. That aside, how’d you feel about these books?
Pete: Alright, so first off you know what’s better than having a huge battle that we’ve been building to taking the time out to have a dinner first.
Alex: Agreed, agreed.
Pete: And let’s just talk at the dinner table.
Justin: When you’re hungry.
Pete: And really just kind of talk things out and have a walk? “Hey, Apocalypse, why don’t we hold hands and talk about the past and not fight. And get into a giant action sequence like maybe some people would enjoy?”
Justin: Well, let me give you a quick breakdown of the way the story. They teleport to this strange dimension. Dinner, dinner, sleep, midnight snack, brunch, coffee, sword sharpening and shining.
Alex: You’re forgetting something in the middle there Justin, there’s several times when they get handed cards.
Pete: What’s not to love.
Justin: That’s right. Let’s not forget about the…
Pete: [crosstalk 00:49:38].
Justin: So I feel like there’s some like magic happening, some light table magic. I think someone’s going to eventually have a yo-yo and other like juggling tricks. It’s just a fun day out. Anyway, where was I? Okay, then it’s going to be lunch. And then they’re going to have like a baseball game.
Pete: Don’t forget to show the menu. They’re going to show the menu a couple times.
Alex: The menu was fun. It was a fun menu.
Justin: The menu was very fun. Well, let me say so Pete’s criticisms aside, and let’s put them far, far aside. I love this. I think that the X-Men issue by Jonathan Hickman is a full take down of Apocalypse. It’s like a subtle takedown of Apocalypse. Apocalypse went to earth and he like had these like piddling battles with the X-Men, claiming that he was like survival of the fittest. We need to all be better. The mutants must rise.
Justin: Meanwhile, the world he left behind had everyone literally fighting for their lives, constantly. They became the fittest and he has to come back hat in hand, sword in hand with this woman that he left behind that he maybe still loves and be like, “Oh, you’ve been literally becoming the best fighters in the universe while I have been shitting the bed on Earth. Okay, cool, cool, cool. Let’s go have a little day off.” And then the Marauders issue I feel like is a little bit more focused on the Wolverine side of it, but I do think this series-
Pete: Had time for a nice dance. Did you like the dance?
Justin: Some dancing. Wolverine likes to get fucked up. And I think he feels like he really gets to drink in this issue, which he never really… He’s always like, I drink. But then the healing factor eradicates everything.
Pete: Yeah, Wolverine gets real fucked up in this issue.
Justin: Yeah. But I do think a lot of this arc, this whole storyline is about repositioning Apocalypse and I’m curious what the landing point of that is. And I do feel like the Marauders issue definitely had that sense of dread. Like an Agatha Christie story where you’re like, “Fuck, some of these people are going to die.”
Alex: Yeah, it really does feel like… And this is something that was a big point of conversation when the X-men introduced resurrection. It feels like these people are a danger. It feels like all of these characters are not actually going to make it out of this or at least in the same way at the end of the day. And that’s great that they went in what has it been, a year, something like that. From everybody being like the exploiter just come back to life whenever, to positioning them into a place where they are in actual danger. And bad things may happen to them maybe for the first time at a really long time. That’s super smart.
Alex: And the Marauders issue in particular plays with that with Storm dancing with the literal personification of death, and mentioning “Hey, you’ve never actually died. You’re one of the few X-men that has not died and come back. So let’s talk about that. Isn’t that interesting?” I thought there was such smart character work in the Marauders thing, the X-men issue as well. Both with Apocalypse and Annihilation I love as usual the insane world building. I do know where he pulls it out from with Jonathan Hickman there.
Alex: I do think there are touches of East of West going on with the apocalypse, Annihilation stuff. Particularly in the relationship that’s popping up there. But that’s fine. That’s a great book. So I’m okay to skim some of those ideas a little bit. And of course, the art. Mahmud Asrar, Leinil Yu, Stefano Caselli. Awesome. I know I said this the last time. But this is one of, not just with Marvel, but one of the best crossovers I’ve read in years. At this point.
Pete: Oh shut up. That’s just… Shut up.
Pete: Awful, just awful.
Alex: Years. Decades.
Pete: First off-
Pete: … X of Swords, are we even going to get 10 individual issues, like we got to see how they fought… If we don’t get to see like 10 issues of fighting after all this fucking lead up. Oh, if we get no… I’m worried, we’re getting close. We’re past halfway, we still don’t have any fighting yet.
Justin: Would you be disappointed Pete if we only got this fighting from the source perspective? Like it was just like metal banging another metal.
Pete: Just clang clang?
Justin: Clang, clang.
Alex: And you don’t actually get to see it. It’s just the interior monologue of the swords. “Wow this hurts.”
Pete: I got to say in the Marauders ep, seeing magic like sizing everybody up. That was pretty cool.
Justin: She’s a badass.
Alex: Super fun.
Justin: You mentioned it before, but the menu at the top of the Marauders issue was super fun. Like I love that, the detail there was great.
Pete: Waste of a page.
Justin: I’d eat that shit.
Alex: Pogg Ur-Pogg, very fun character. I’m just-
Justin: Marinated in urine. I’m here for it.
Alex: Yeah, all of the Arakko characters also, I think are great and super fun. They’re just… I don’t know, I don’t know if it’s Jonathan Hickman in conversation with other people. I don’t know if he’s necessarily driving the rest of the X-Men team to this but it’s just he comes in just and he’s like, “Here’s these new additions to Marvel continuity. They totally make sense. You love them know.” They are just these perfect things that absolutely work. And the greater part about all of these new additions from Arokko is only one or two of them are completely black and white, which I think is very cool. And a way of Jonathan Hickman really stretching himself as a creator.
Justin: Yeah. Wow, what a blistering takedown. That’s the harshest I’ve ever heard you speak, Alex.
Alex: These issues are great at that same for The Stack. If you’d like to support us, patreon.com/comicbookclub. Also we do the live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 PM to crowdcast and YouTube. Come hang out. We would love to chat with you about comics at Comic Book Live on Twitter, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice to subscribe and listen to the show. Also leave us comments on iTunes. Those help out quite a bit. Comicbookclublive.com for this podcast more. Until next time, we’ll see you at the virtual comic book shop.
Justin: And remember the door is always open for any stray cat looking to wander in.