Punchline #1

The Stack: Punchline, Taskmaster And More

podcasts The Stack

On this week’s comic book review podcast, we’re chatting:

Punchline #1
DC Comics
Written by James Tynion IV and Sam Johns
Art by Mirka Andolfo

Taskmaster #1
Marvel Comics
Written by Jed MacKay
Art by Alessandro Vitti

Kick-Ass vs. Hit-Girl #1
Image Comics
Written by Steve Niles
Art by Marcelo Frusin

Resident Alien: Your Ride’s Here #1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Peter Hogan
Art by Steve Parkhouse

American Vampire 1976 #2
DC Comics
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Rafael Albuquerque

The Amazing Spider-Man #52
Marvel Comics
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Patrick Gleason

Scarenthood #1
IDW
By Nick Roche & Chris O’Halloran

G.I. Joe #10
IDW
Written by Paul Allor
Art by Chris Evenhuis

Dark Nights: Death Metal Infinite Hour Exxxtreme! #1
DC Comics
Written by Frank Tieri, Becky Cloonan, Sam Humphries
Art by Tyler Kirkham, Rags Morales, Denys Cowan

Marvel Zombies Resurrection #4
Marvel Comics
Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by Leonard Kirk

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem #2
Dark Horse Comics
Story by Gerard Way & Shaun Simon
Art by Leonardo Romero

Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp #2
IDW
Written by Marieke Nijikamp
Art by Yasmin Florez Montanez

Getting It Together #2
Image Comics
Co-creators and Co-Writers Sina Grace & Omar Spahi
Art by Jenny D. Fine

Marauders #15
Marvel Comics
Written by Gerry Duggan and Benjamin Percy
Art by Stefano Caselli

Excalibur #14
Marvel Comics
Written by Tini Howard
Art by Phil Noto

Wolverine #7
Marvel Comics
Written by Benjamin Percy and Gerry Duggan
Art by Joshua Cassara

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Full Episode Transcript:

Alex:                 What is up everybody, welcome to The Stack. I’m Alex.

Justin:              I’m Justin.

Pete:                I’m Pete, and I’m not looking forward to talking about the Marvel stuff today.

Alex:                 Oh, wow. Really?

Justin:              Wow. What a way to plant a flag, Pete.

Alex:                 Interesting.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 Well, that’s okay, because we’re going to kick it off with a DC comic first, Punchline, number one, written by James Tynion IV and Sam Jones, no relation I think. Art by Mirka Andolfo. This is, as you could probably guess from the title, focusing on Punchline, new girlfriend to the Joker who is brought to the forefront during the Joker war, finally getting her own one-shot. Should we get your own series? I think starting next year at some point.

Justin:              It certainly feels that way, yes.

Alex:                 Yeah, but this is picking up. She is in prison. And in this issue, we get one of James Tynion’s pet projects. Harper Row shows up again with her brother tracking down Punchline, is clearly setting her up as an adversary to her. We find out a lot more about her origin. I’ll tell you what, I personally have been feeling very much like Punchline is the Pucci of the Batman side of the universe.

Pete:                Oh, what? What the-

Alex:                 Hold on, let me finish. But this issue went a long way to selling me on understanding what their take on her is personally. Pete, you’re all in on Punchline, that is clear.

Pete:                Yes. I think this is a interesting kind of way to come at this character. What I don’t like is she’s like, “Oh man, don’t trust people of a podcast, they turn out to be psychos,” which, that’s fair.

Justin:              Truth.

Pete:                That’s fair. But I do think that this is an interesting villain. It’s one of those things where like, she was kind of forced in the situation, almost helped “the Joker” and then kind of Batman interrupted them and then felt like, oh man, I was so close to being a part of something bigger, and this is kind of her pursuit of that. It’s interesting. I feel like as a first issue, they do a good job of being like, okay, here’s this character, here’s a little bit of her backstory and what she’s about. And I think it does a good job of getting you intrigued for more to see how this is all going to unfold and to see if she does claim her kind of like all the bad stuff that she does or tries to hide.

Justin:              Yeah. First off, the art on this was great by Mirka Andolfo, really good stuff, and sort of had some flavor to it as opposed to just sort of getting it done which I thought was nice. But I think this issue made crystal clear what the whole idea here is, jumping off what you said, Alex. The whole thing with Harley Quinn was it always felt a little wild that Harley Quinn was the Joker’s psychiatrist. And then suddenly she became his partner or his just fully onboard. And in this issue we get to see-

Pete:                Wait, can I?

Justin:              Yes, sure.

Pete:                I just wanted to ask you, have you ever just really hated your day job before?

Justin:              No, I’ve never. What is work? Because when you love your job, it’s like you never work a day in your life.

Pete:                Wow.

Justin:              So don’t know what you’re talking about.

Alex:                 If you teach a man to fish, you never work a day in your life. That’s what I always say.

Justin:              That’s right. I’d rather be fishing says the seat of my jeans. What I like about this though, is it’s sort of, we see the progression and it very much mirrors how many people go from being a regular person on the internet to being radicalized in our modern world, through social media. And I think this does a really good job of using that very real issue in our country slash world. And putting it into the comic book world and bringing us a character that we believe, I believe the way this story is told and having Punchline land where she does, I’m on board. I think this is a really good issue for getting us to like the character.

Pete:                Yeah. I hope those punches do land, because it’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Alex:                 Yeah. Like you said, very smart, very well done. Particularly if you’ve been on the fence about the character like I have, I recommend reading this issue. Let’s move to another one that I know Pete is excited about, even though it’s a Marvel comic, Taskmaster number one written by Jed Mackay.

Pete:                I should have been more specific and said the X-Men stuff.

Alex:                 God. Art by Alessandro Vitti. This is a new take on Taskmaster. He is just chilling out on a golf course, in one the [crosstalk 00:05:05].

Pete:                Yeah, just like everybody else.

Alex:                 Ends up getting framed for a murder. I won’t spoil who gets murdered, but ends up on the run for that murder as usual. Particularly given that we revisited Fred [Valenti’s 00:05:18] excellent Taskmaster series just a few months ago here on this very show. What’d you think about this one? What’d you think about this new take here?

Pete:                I thought this was a lot of fun, having bulls-eyeing him in this kind of celebrity golf tournaments, I just didn’t expect this. I was really impressed with, just from reading comics and knowing this character like, okay, I know how this is going to go. But I was pleasantly surprised by the start of this and how different it felt from what I expected. And I think it was kind of a very cool story and also very interesting team up. I think this did a really great job of setting up this kind of new take on Taskmaster a little bit, and then kind of this arc of where this is going, and kind of laid out all the characters that are going to be involved. I think this did a great job of getting me wanting more and excited for this world.

Justin:              Taskmaster has this weird spot in the Marvel universe where sometimes it’s a little bit Deadpoolesque. But sometimes he’s meant to be a scary villain who is very hard to beat. And in this he’s sort of goofy dude who was fucking around. And that’s why I feel like Fred Valenti’s take we love so much because it really found the middle ground between those two. He’s someone with a tragic backstory where he can’t retain his long-term memory and because his brain is full of these fighting techniques that have overtaken his short-term memory. It’s a little … I don’t quite know where this book is going. Because I like the story and I like sort of the task that I hope he masters by the end of it. But the golf stuff felt a little, I was like, “Wait, what?”

Pete:                No, but that was fun.

Justin:              And I will say I loved that it was Black Widow. My guess was that it was Black Widow who was hunting [inaudible 00:07:24] and I love that it actually was by the end of the issue.

Alex:                 Yeah. I mean, this seems like a pretty clear tee up for the Black Widow movie, right. I don’t know when this was originally supposed to come out, but given that Taskmaster is going to show out there, Black Widow is going to show up there obviously. It seems like this is tying into that in a certain way, or at least going to be one of those things where, hey, now there’s a trade on the stands. The other thing, I’ll get into spoilers here.

Alex:                 I don’t love the idea of being ahead of a book, but I sincerely hope this is where this twist is heading. Because, again, spoilers, the thing is that Taskmaster is framed from the death of Maria Hill. And it feels like killing Maria Hill off screen is a very bad, very weird move. But what I think is going on here is Nick Fury Jr. recruits him to find the real killer of Maria Hill so he can get Black Widow off his back. It seems to be that it’s probably Nick Fury Jr. is not who he says he is. It is in fact somebody else, has lied to Taskmaster the entire time. And that’s the twist coming down the road. This is something that I felt very uncomfortable and sort of hated when they brought out, oh, Maria Hill is dead. When they get to that twist, say four issues down the road, I think I’m going to feel a lot better about this book. But as it is, Alessandro Vitti’s art is really solid and fun and there’s some funny bits in here. Jed Mackay, I think wrote the Black Cat book-

Justin:              I love that book.

Alex:                 [crosstalk 00:09:01] coming out, which is super fun. So he does comedy, so it’s good stuff. If you’re looking for a fun, silly one, this might be one to check out.

Pete:                Yeah. I just wanted to go back and touch on something Justin said, yes, Fred Valenti definitely did an amazing job. But I think other people should be allowed to do their takes, just because Fred did something that was so iconic.

Justin:              No, one take and one take only I say, leave me.

Pete:                I think there’s room for other kind of take some people. But I think-

Justin:              Pete, when you’re making a movie, you only do one take, they just turn the camera on and everything rolls. That’s how it works.

Pete:                Justin, you know better than that, come on.

Justin:              Then they just move the camera to different locations. The camera’s rolling, the whole time it’s traveling from Atlanta-

Pete:                Every film is filmed live, right?

Justin:              Yeah.

Pete:                Great.

Justin:              It’s why it’s really hard, actors really have to run very quickly to different places.

Alex:                 Kick-Ass versus Hit-Girl number one from Image Comics written by Steve Niles, art by Marcelo Frusin. This is following the new Kick-Ass who is in with some drug dealers and gangs. By the end of the book Hit-Girl is maybe coming for her. I got to tell you, I like Steve Niles. Though this art was very good, the violence was brutal. We were talking about this other live show a little bit, the idea that some number one issues don’t leave it off on the table that they sort of just like get to it at the end. Frankly, this is the issue that I was thinking of when we were talking about it, because not enough happens here in this first issue necessarily to make it work for me. But I’m curious to hear what you guys think.

Pete:                Well, I’m kind of like, you see it in movies and comics all the time, the person who killed somebody then goes to the funeral and that’s just so insane to me that you would go to somebody’s funeral that you murdered.

Alex:                 Pete, you’re going to come to my funeral, right though?

Pete:                Sure, I am buddy.

Alex:                 Okay.

Pete:                Yeah. Can’t wait to piss on your grave, it’s going to be great. I just think that-

Justin:              You don’t have to piss on the grave at the funeral, the graves’ going to be there, give it a day, come back.

Alex:                 The [inaudible 00:11:17] says that, right. If I’d [inaudible 00:11:19] I would like to piss on the grave.

Pete:                That’s right.

Justin:              Speak now or forever hold it in your bladder, hold it. You don’t want to be caught holding it.

Pete:                Well, yeah, I mean because we know these characters so well, so I feel like this isn’t a … new telling is just kind of like, these are where these characters are and pretty soon they’re going to clash. But it’s always tough when it’s Kick-Ass versus Hit-Girl issue one, but they don’t ever meet in the comic yet, so that’s a little like, meh.

Justin:              I have a feeling they will down the line.

Pete:                Oh, okay. So that’s it’s just setting it up. I do think the art here is great. Marcelo Frusin really takes on the Jr. vibe, but gives it its own sort of flavor in a nice way. That was cool. A lot of heads being cut off in perfect hot dog sections, which I was like, “Okay.”

Justin:              Well, if you’ve got a really sharp sword like that, it’s going to cut right through it.

Pete:                So easy to cut through the spine.

Alex:                 Well, that’s actually how they make hot dogs.

Justin:              Yep, a 100%. And I won’t tell you what body parts of what animals are doing that. But otherwise it was a real quick read.

Alex:                 Yes, I agree. Resident Alien Your Ride’s Here, number one from Dark Horse Comics written by Peter Hogan-

Pete:                Oh, my rides here.

Alex:                 … and art by Steve Parkhouse. I have not been a religious Resident Alien reader, but as far as I can gather from this issue, it’s about an alley that just kind of hangs out with people and I love-

Justin:              He’s a resident.

Alex:                 Yeah. I kind of [crosstalk 00:13:05] casual it is. I thought there would be more alien stuff in this book, there’s not. He’s just going to hang it out.

Justin:              It’s very chill. No one even talks about how he’s an alien.

Pete:                No, guys, we’ve read this before. This is a thing where he doesn’t look like that to other people. He kind of wears the disguise, but he revealed himself to that girl that’s getting the haircut in the book. This had previous arcs before, and this is a really kind of cool thing.

Justin:              Yeah, I know.

Pete:                Okay. All right.

Justin:              This reminded me, and I think this is perhaps why you like it, Pete, remind me a little bit of Concrete.

Pete:                Yeah.

Justin:              The old series back in the day. And it is fun. It is almost too like Slice of Life for the first two thirds of it. I like the vision quest stuff at the end. And I would be curious sort of where this opens up to, but man, this issue ends with sort of like, oh, that’s just it.

Alex:                 It is funny though. I mean, even if you’re not totally familiar with the series, and like Pete said, we’ve read a couple of issues here and there, but just kind of picking this up and not necessarily having a media reader call of what we talked about before. There’s still good solid jokes characterization here that make this very engaging. I enjoyed it even if most of the time I felt like, I don’t know what they’re talking about.

Pete:                Yeah. I’m very into this comic. I really am invested in this relationship. And yeah, I’m excited for more. This is kind of an interesting new arc. I’m hoping that the alien and this lady can work it out.

Justin:              How invested in the relationship are you, Pete?

Pete:                I’m very, very invested.

Justin:              Heavy?

Alex:                 10K, he put 10K on it.

Pete:                Yeah.

Justin:              I like those odds.

Alex:                 American Vampire 1976 number two from DC Comics written by Scott Snyder, art by Raphael Albuquerque. As you could probably figure out from the title, this is picking up on the first issue set in 1976 as Skinner Sweet and his gang were trying to take over a train that holds all of the relics of America, feels almost like a little bit of a leftover from Scott Snyder’s undiscovered country’s ideas in a certain way. But Skinner Sweet is forced to team up with his brother who he thought was dead. We get a little bit of flashback that explains that here. Man, it is so good to have this book back. I am loving every issue of it so far.

Pete:                I really like the start of it. The fun recap of like, gather round kids, uncle Skinner’s going to catch you up. I thought that was great. I really appreciated kind of the walkthrough, their history there. I mean, you can’t really say enough about the art, it’s really unbelievable. And I love the Butch Cassidy and Sundance reference.

Justin:              See, Skinner Sweet is such a great character. It’s just great to be able to read new stories where we can follow him around. I like these series as a culmination point of a lot of the American Vampire dangling threads and the tongue is gross and the tongues that we see in this book are gross and it’s great. It’s a truly daunting villain for a title that’s been able to maintain such quality over the years.

Alex:                 Great stuff, definitely pick it up. Next up, The Amazing Spider-Man number 52 from Marvel Comics written by Nick Spencer and art by Patrick Gleason. Finally Spider-Man is facing down Kindred, the villain who has been taunting him pretty much all of Nick Spencer’s run. We have gotten the reveal of who Kindred is, or at least who we think Kindred is. Personally I have some doubts there that the reveal is actually what we think it is. But in this issue, Spider-Man gives up, surrenders to Kindred to save all of his friends, all the men and the rest of the spider family. And it ends in a moment that I felt like such a sucker because I know this is not going to be permitted, but I legitimately gasped out loud at the end of this issue. I thought this was great. Pete is nodding his head. Yes, yes, yes, I can see him. [crosstalk 00:17:31].

Justin:              Yes, give me more.

Alex:                 He loves it. Give me more. Justin, let’s go to you first. What did you think about this?

Justin:              We have never been closer to finding out how Kindred is than we are with this issue. And yeah, you could have said that for many issues in this run of 52. I really want to know now.

Alex:                 Well, they’ve revealed that Kindred is Harry Osborn. That’s been the thing that they’ve come out and said.

Justin:              Yes. And was that the last issue or? Yeah, it was.

Alex:                 There was two issues back, yeah.

Justin:              And that feels, it feels weird to me.

Alex:                 It feels wrong. It feels like a fate.

Justin:              And I think you had the theory that it’s Peter Parker from the future, like a dead Peter Parker or something who is very bitter about his life perhaps. And I think this issue I was thinking about theory a lot because it feels that Kindred is sort of like, you’ve wasted your life fighting for these people. And that’s sort of the point. And I think that’s a nice counterpoint for Peter, our present day Peter, to fight back and say, “It is worth it. You just took the wrong path or whatever.” My theory was that it was the robber who kills uncle Ben, the thief. That would be cool too, but I sort of like your theory a little bit better at this point, feels more on track with what the story they’re telling. Because I don’t know what Harry Osborn, while he is a big part of Spider-Man [inaudible 00:19:00], Norman overshadows him so much. And I don’t know what the point of having Harry there does.

Alex:                 I’ll tell you also on that note, there’s a big scene in here that is very reminiscent of what Scott Snyder did in death, not death in the family, Death of the Family.

Justin:              Death of the Family.

Alex:                 Joker, Hulk, where he gathered the Joker, gathered everybody around the dinner table. In this instance, what Kindred does is he digs up the skeletons of everybody who Spider-Man has let die and gathers some around. And the moment, it’s so well paced and so horrifying because it goes around and it’s like, here’s captain Gwen Stacy, here’s Jean DeWolff. Here’s, what is it? Marla Jameson. Then he gets to Gwen-

Justin:              Flash.

Alex:                 … and Spider-Man and he’s like, “Oh no, Gwen.” And then Flash, the last one was uncle Ben. And it’s so upsetting to see that happen. Very well done in exactly the way that it should feel. I thought, Pete, again, nodding his head, yes, yes, yes, could not agree more it seems like. And Pete-

Justin:              Before we go to Pete, who’s opinion will no doubt really crown this review of the book. I want to give a shout-out to Patrick Gleason’s art, it’s so perfect for this run. To your point, we’re seeing how horrifying this dinner scene is, Patrick Gleason’s art is the perfect companion to this story.

Pete:                I just can’t wait for Nick Spencer to get the fuck off this book. It’s just, he writes these fucked up twisted things and really fucks with you as a fan, who’s loved something for many years and then makes you question that. I mean, to dig up these people and have their corpses sitting at a table, fuck you. And then have Spider-Man be like, “Fucking, I give up, kill me.” Fuck you, I’m sick of this shit. This just over the top fucking just bullshit to … It’s grotesque.

Justin:              I hear you Pete.

Pete:                It’s all ridiculous. Give me a fucking Spider-Man story, man. This is bullshit.

Justin:              I want to see Spider-Man do something important, like catch a pulse snatcher. Has he done that? Has he stopped a purse snatching at any point?

Alex:                 I think this is good. I’ll also mention I know we did include this in The Stack.

Pete:                You were like, when that moment happened, I yelled boo, and I closed my laptop and I was just like, I had to walk away for a little bit.

Justin:              Boo. Good day.

Alex:                 They’re also releasing these 52.LR books, which I know I didn’t send over for The Stack. But they’re kind of taking place between the stories and focusing on the characters that are on Spider-Man. Also really good, really dark, this one focuses on Norman Osborn teaming up with Mary Jane, which is wild, and she hates it. Pete, don’t worry, she does not want to work with him at all. But really good stuff. It just a very dark, it definitely feels like-

Pete:                Spider-Man shouldn’t be this dark.

Alex:                 What is almost unequivocally the best Spider-Man story of all time, Pete?

Pete:                I don’t know.

Alex:                 Kraven’s Last Hunt. I think-

Pete:                That’s your opinion. I don’t think-

Alex:                 No.

Justin:              What’s your?

Alex:                 I think if you ask almost anybody, if you asked what is the best-

Pete:                I like a couple of Rhino stories, that are great.

Alex:                 Sure. There’s great Spider-Man stories, but the best one of all time is probably, obviously arguably Kraven’s Last Hunt. Spider-Man dies, he’s buried in that, Kraven takes over. He’s covered in spiders, it’s dark. And I think that’s what Nick Spencer is going for here, and I think he’s [crosstalk 00:22:49].

Pete:                Nick Spencer is just doing shock value shit.

Justin:              I don’t think so. And also like Spider-Man’s origin is dark. His uncle dies and he lets him go. It’s like guilt.

Pete:                He doesn’t know that at the time though.

Justin:              Yeah, I know.

Alex:                 Sorry. Justin, are you familiar with Spider-Man’s origin story?

Justin:              Yeah, he was there as a thief and he was like, “Should I stop this guy?” And then the guy was like, I’m going to go kill your uncle. And he’s like, “Go ahead.”

Pete:                Go ahead.

Justin:              Get out of here you scum.

Alex:                 As long as Caterpillar man finds my uncles corpse later, I’m good with it. [crosstalk 00:23:28].

Justin:              I’m just saying there’s been a darkness to Spider-Man from the jump. I think this is well within the range to tell this.

Pete:                No.

Alex:                 Let’s move on then to something that is perfectly purposely dark, Scarenthood number one from IDW by Nick Roche and Chris O’Halloran. We had Nick Roche on our live show this week. Let’s be honest here. Let’s be true to ourselves. What do we really think about Scarenthood? I’ll come out and I’ve got to say it, this is the truth. I like this book.

Justin:              Nice, bold. I mean, I raved about the book on the live show. But to boil it down, I really like how this book feels very like Slice of Life. It’s about a father in Ireland, and I don’t know what town it is, but in Ireland, he struggles with just the stress of being a dad, tries to connect with the parents. It’s really funny. And then there’s … we slowly get peppered in a couple of details about how the school is maybe a little haunted and it builds and builds and builds to a legit scary moment that combines the fear of the supernatural with the regular fears of being a parent in a way that I thought was a real great step forward. I’m very excited for more of this.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, this is more in you guys’ sweet spot a little bit, because I was like, “I get it. You’re a real dad in real life.” Okay. All right.

Justin:              But Pete you’re a cat dad. Think about it if it’s a cat.

Alex:                 Yeah. Your Twitter bio says cat daddy, right?

Pete:                Yeah. That’s exactly what it says.

Justin:              I believe it’s catty daddy if I remember correctly.

Pete:                Oh my God. Anyways, I’m really-

Justin:              The original catty daddy.

Pete:                All that aside, I really liked the kind of horror ghost story elements. I thought it was really cool. I very much enjoyed this book, even though I’m not a parent and don’t know the struggles that you guys deal with. But I thought it was really well done and interesting. And I’m very excited to read more. I think this is kind of like a cool team on this book. I think it’s rich enough that I really want to kind of delve into it more.

Justin:              Pete, being a parent is like your life, but with fewer cheesesteaks and fewer romantic comedies.

Pete:                Boo, that doesn’t sound fun.

Alex:                 I really like this as well. The pitch that I didn’t give on the show.

Justin:              Wow.

Pete:                Oh my goodness. I thought that was part of the pitch.

Justin:              Oh, okay. You seem to be allergic to the pitch.

Alex:                 Yeah. That was not part of the pitch. I just sneezed. This is like single parents meet stranger things is the way that I’d put it.

Pete:                Oh, wow.

Alex:                 We talked about this live show a little bit, but I was really impressed, particularly given we read a lot of first issues with how packed this was with details, and the fact that things slowly build to the supernatural, but it isn’t the last page reveal. It’s about halfway two thirds of the way through the issue that we get some weird supernatural stuff. We get even weirder supernatural stuff as it goes. And the character signs are really terrifying in the right way. This is a great debut. I was very happy to read this and I was glad that we got to chat with Nick for so long about it.

Pete:                I agree.

Alex:                 Let’s move on to another title that we’ve been enjoying quite a bit. GI Joe number 10 from IDW written Paul Allor, art by Chris Evenhuis. Pete-

Pete:                Yo Joe.

Alex:                 … you got to like this one, because there’s a bareness appearance in this one. But for the most part, this is about a secret lab that is trying to create half human half robot cyborg bats for a cobra-

Pete:                Classic.

Alex:                 … and how they end up taking it down. After being-

Pete:                Classic Dr. Mindbender stuff, I mean-

Alex:                 Classic Dr. Mindbender stuff.

Justin:              Dr. Mindbender.

Alex:                 After not being so crazy about the last issue, I was glad to personally just see this return to form for this issue. What’d you guys think about this one?

Pete:                Yeah. I’m enjoying this. I’m having a lot of fun. Also kind of a crazy reveal because I’m used to … I’m sure you guys are the same. Lady Jaye, she used to roll with Flint or Snake Eyes.

Alex:                 You don’t need to tell us.

Justin:              Yeah, we’re right there. [crosstalk 00:27:56]. She used to roll [inaudible 00:27:58] with Flint or even Snake Eyes.

Pete:                Yeah. Right. But then to see her with this new guy, and I know he’s new because I was like, I’m not wrong in this. I went to the Hasbro website to look this up.

Alex:                 We all did, you don’t need to tell us. We all headed to the Hasbro website.

Justin:              It’s where I get my news.

Pete:                Because I was like, wait a second, I wasn’t … I don’t remember [inaudible 00:28:19].

Alex:                 First stop, OAN. Second stop, [inaudible 00:28:22]. Third stop, Hasbro website. That’s where I get my news.

Justin:              Exactly. Especially if I’m like, what’s my brother doing? I’m like Hasbro.

Pete:                But yeah, I continue to have a lot of fun with this book. Some interesting stuff. Great art. I think they do a good job of sometimes doing fun stuff with names, sometimes holding it back a little bit more.

Justin:              Yeah. I mean, I think I’ve said in the past, I was never a G.I. Joe kid.

Pete:                Yeah. You weren’t allowed to watch as a kid, and we feel bad for you.

Justin:              We’re not allowed to watch because they used guns, yes. But these stories I like, I like the way they’re sort of one-offs story of the weeks with different tones. This one sort of has more of the action figure animated show feel, I think. But they treat the characters in a realistic way and I appreciate it.

Alex:                 It also feels like with this issue that this is starting to build towards something, even though we’ve been focusing in on these individual characters, maybe I’m wrong, but issue-

Justin:              Castle fall.

Alex:                 What?

Justin:              I think there’s something called castle fall coming up.

Alex:                 Yeah, that’s coming up. And that certainly seems to be a tease that we’re just going to start getting all these individual plot points mixing together in some way. And that’s exciting. I mean, if they’re really doing, focusing in on one, two characters every issue and that it’s building something bigger, that’s very cool storytelling. I’m excited to see where it goes. Next up, another one that I’m sure was in Pete’s wheelhouse, Dark Nights: Death Metal Infinite Hour Exxxtreme, with so many Xs, number one from DC Comics, written by thank Frank Tieri, Becky Cloonan, Sam Humphries, and of course, Lobo. Art by Tyler Kirkham, Rags Morales, Denys Cowan, and again, Lobo. As you can guess, this is what Lobo’s been doing during Dark Nights, Death Metal, what’s been going on with him. It kicks off with a very Frank Tieri story.

Pete:                Yeah, Frank, come on. I mean, this is the guy-

Justin:              Perhaps the most Frank Tieri stuff.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, this is the guy you want on this book. You want this kind of goon squad guy to tell a story about one of the biggest goons there is, Lobo. And let’s not forget we should make a Lobo Batman. And yeah, I think this was-

Alex:                 The Batman man.

Pete:                Yeah. The bat, who frags. Yeah, I think this continues to just be a ton of over the top fun, just taking the DC Universe and being like, let’s throw a bunch of Xs on it, say it’s extreme, death metal, yeah, turn it up to 11. And the whole headbutt joke was hysterical, it was just great. Bat Grundy, I mean, what more do you want?

Justin:              Let me just say it was probably a lot to read three back-to-back Lobo stories. It’s like getting just a bowl of a hot fudge sundae after the hot fudge sundae served in a bowl that’s also made out of hot fudge sundae. And so it’s not as … I didn’t need that much Lobo.

Pete:                Come on man.

Justin:              I will say I liked the back-end of the second story. The other heroes being Lobofied.

Pete:                Superman Lobo or are you talking about Wonder Woman Lobo or?

Justin:              All of them. I thought those were funny.

Pete:                Okay.

Alex:                 Lobo gets his hands on some death metal and remakes the universe to reimagine everybody’s origin stories as all being Lobo. I think that was the Sam Humphreys, Dennis Cowan section, I could be wrong.

Justin:              It’s hard to tell, it’s the one that’s called, it says it’s by Lobo. I can’t tell if it’s the second story or the beginning of the third story, sort of flows. And then I’m curious, it does feel like Lobo is going to play a large part in the resolution of Death Metal, which I find-

Pete:                Well, he has been popping up. [crosstalk 00:32:24].

Alex:                 Go ahead, Pete.

Pete:                No, no.

Alex:                 All I was going to say is he’s been popping up almost every issue of Dark Nights Death Metal doing something in the background. And this is to explain what he has been doing.

Pete:                And also if you’re going to do a Death Metal book and not talk about Lobo, I mean, you’re not really talking about Death Metal then.

Justin:              If you’re going to have a Wolverine who just has a longer cigar and shorter claws, then yeah, have him be in this space I guess.

Pete:                This is not Wolverine.

Alex:                 Okay.

Justin:              No?

Pete:                No.

Justin:              What are some of the big differences?

Pete:                All right. First off-

Justin:              The healing factor?

Pete:                … Wolverine doesn’t talk this much. And Wolverine isn’t as in love with himself as Lobo is.

Justin:              Wolverine doesn’t talk as much, got it.

Pete:                You’re just a [inaudible 00:33:09].

Alex:                 Let’s move on and talk about Marvel Zombies: Resurrection number four from Marvel Comics written by Philip Kennedy Johnson, art by Leonard Kirk. This book has been, I say surprisingly great. Except Philip Kennedy Johnson has been consistently delivering excellent stuff across the board. Here, the main thing that I’ve talked up to multiple people who are like, “Ah, I don’t want to read a Marvel Zombies book,” was the twist last issue, or at least the plot reveal last issue, that the excuse, the reasoning for the zombies is that it’s a bunch of brood who have infested Galactus. So you get the reason they’re infesting superheroes is they’re the brood. The reason they have a cosmic hugger is because of Galactus. And here our heroes led by Spider-Man with the two Richard children and a bunch of other random folks are attacking the Galactus hive in limbo. It all ends here or does it? I really like this resolution quite a bit. What’d you guys think?

Pete:                Yeah. This was just really unbelievable. Continually impressed with the twists and turns that this is taking. I didn’t see any of this coming the way it is. Just action galore, some great story, a really impressive balance of story and action. And the art is just phenomenal. This book is one of those ones that I look forward to when I see it’s on our kind of pool list, and it continues to impress.

Justin:              Yeah. I mean, I agree. There’s a lot of smart choices in this story, like smart, creative uses of different Marvel characters. And Pete, you must have loved how this is a fun Spider-Man.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, well, he gets emotional and it’s nice. But also love the magic stuff and the Wolverine blade stuff. I don’t want to spoil stuff for people. Man, just really cool.

Justin:              I was being sarcastic because Spider-Man is just so sad the entire time, he’s not having any fun. [crosstalk 00:35:23]. But I love the end as well.

Alex:                 And I really enjoy the fact that we’re getting both DCs from Tom Taylor and Marvel Zombies: Resurrection from Phillip Kennedy Johnson. They’re both smart reinventions of zombie mythos. We’re not just getting the zombies in the Marvel Universe, zombies in the DC Universe. They’re coming up with canonical reasons for why they exist based on what the specific universes could bring to the table. And that’s great, they’re both very different stories as well. They’re not just zombie stories. And I look forward to hopefully more to come. I was surprised, it seemed like it was tying into whatever that Thanos story that Donny Cates had been teasing is. But I guess we’ll see down the road.

Alex:                 Next up, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem number two from Dark Horse comics, story by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon, art by Leonardo Romero. This is picking up obviously on the first issue. But as everybody is slowly regaining their mojo and fighting against the live type characters who are infesting the world specifically through the lens of cops who have been taken over by whatever is going out in this world. What’d you think about this one? I think we’re really complimentary of the first issue. How’d you feel about the second?

Justin:              I love the art on this book. It has such a good tone and vibe for the whole thing. And I mean, it’s a little, like with a lot of Gerard Way stuff, you’re not a 100% sure with what’s happening. But it has a very musical vibe. This feels like a music montage from The Umbrella Academy TV show or something like that, very much like the action feels like there’s a lot happening underneath it.

Pete:                Yeah. I think the art is the real hero here. It’s very stylized and kind of switches back and forth, which is really impressive and still feels about the same story. But yeah, this is … we don’t know exactly, but we’ve got enough to kind of follow. It’s interesting, action packed. You can kind of understand why the people are doing what they’re doing. Yeah, I’ve been really impressed with this and I’m going to continue to keep reading it. I think it’s great.

Alex:                 Particularly with this issue, it feels like it’s sort of thing that if you have acab in your Twitter bio, this is the comic for you. Let’s move on and talk about Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp number two from IDW, written by Marieke Nijkamp, art by Yasmin Florez Montanez. You two in particular were particularly complimentary of this. This is a werewolf tale for the Goosebumps universe, I guess. You liked the first issue quite a bit as two girls teamed up to try to track down some werewolves. What’d you think about the second one?

Pete:                Yeah, I was really impressed with the way this relationship kind of moved, because what I was worried about in the first issue is you have two characters who kind of force into this crazy scenario. And I was worried they were going to just fight the whole time and not be able to kind of move throughout the story and kind of take care of business. And I think they handled that in such a good way. I’ve been really impressed with the Goosebumps. This is a fun story. Art is unbelievable. I liked these depiction of werewolves and I thought it was endurable how that one werewolf just kind of curled up. I think this is very cool and interesting story. I’m excited to read more.

Justin:              I have a feeling these werewolves are going to be people eventually.

Pete:                What?

Justin:              Not a ton habits in this issue as far as driving the story forward. It’s mostly like we’re scared in the swamp. But yeah, I’m curious to see, it feels like another shoe will drop next issue.

Alex:                 Yeah. I still feel like it’s not quite bringing all the elements together. The essential idea of two girls who are super into fantasy role-play games, tracking down real werewolves in the woods is a really smart idea, but it’s not necessarily paying off with that premise. I hope we see more of that the next issue. Though, I do like the art. I think the characters designs are very nice. And I’m enjoying reading it. It’s a nice light read. Next step, Getting it Together number two from Image Comics, co-creators and co-writers Sina Grace and Omar Spahi, art by Jenny D. Fine. We had Sina Grace and Omar Spahi on the live show a couple of weeks back talk about the first issue, which we like quite a bit. This is like Friends, but set in San Francisco and real. This second issue is picking up on that. As things only get more complicated for everybody’s relationships. What’d you think? How did it pick up from the well-received premier issue of the title?

Pete:                Yeah, I like this. I think being in a band is hard, there’s a lot of moving pieces. I like how they’re kind of diving into that a little bit, but mainly focusing on the relationships. The art’s fantastic. You care enough about the characters to care about this story. It’s relatable. I think it’s very cool. I liked how they kind of handle it, going back and forth between the different people and their kind of sizes and stuff. I also thought it was very cool the way the art kind of pulls out and pulls in. Sometimes you see wider shots and other things going on and sometimes it’s very close up. I think that’s very cool storytelling. I also really liked the drinking that was going on there. I can relate to that as well.

Justin:              I agree. I think this is a great second issue. First off, just reading this comic from a pandemic point of view, it is like reading science fiction. I’m so jealous of these characters.

Pete:                Yeah. Oh my God. Imagine being able to go into a bar and just get a drink.

Justin:              Oh, I know. That scene at the bar was like, yes, please, tell me more. How was it? What was it like? What did the bar smell like?

Pete:                I even drove by like [inaudible 00:41:55] I was like, “Oh my God. I want to go in.”

Justin:              I’ve never fallen that far. But outside of that, the relationships are really well done in this. And I want to say there are so many great standalone panels where you really see like a perfect encapsulation of a real human action in the moment.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 I like this titles willingness to make the main characters unlikable, which is not an easy thing-

Justin:              I like that about us as well.

Pete:                Shut up.

Alex:                 No, I think that’s really good. I mean, you have this main relationship that’s broken apart. And the fact that you read both of these characters as they’re talking about the relationship, they try to be friends. It just doesn’t work. They’re both really not very good at it. And there’s always this temptation to make those sorts of characters come to some sort of resolution or one character to be better than the other, but it feels like a real relationship right at the middle of this where nobody’s right, they just broke up. They are both assholes to each other. They shouldn’t have been together. Things went horribly wrong and they continue to go horribly wrong. It feels very realistic in terms of the characterization. And I think that’s very nice to see. Let’s get to-

Pete:                Also fun little story in the back as well.

Alex:                 Absolutely. Last bit to talk about, let’s get to our extra storage, [inaudible 00:43:27], which I know Pete has been eagerly awaiting. We’re just talking about three issues this week. Marauders number 15 from Marvel Comics, written by Gerry Duggan and Benjamin Percy, art by Stefano Caselli. Excalibur number 14 written by Tini Howard and art by Phil Noto. Wolverine number seven written by Benjamin Percy and Gerry Duggan and art by Joshua Cassara. In the first issue, we get a resolution of what happened with the Wolverline after she stabbed. Let me just run through the plot here then you could complain to [inaudible 00:43:56]. Hold on.

Alex:                 We get a resolution of the cliffhanger last week was that Wolverine decided to shut down the conflict between Arakko and Krakoa with other worlds stuck in the middle, by stabbing Saturnyne to death, we get [inaudible 00:44:11] to that, turns out she knows what was going on. She shuts it down. We could see the rest of the dinner party as everybody kind of feels each other out and figures out what the straights are. Excalibur 14, we finally get the first of the fights, and spoilers here, I’ll go through these, but just to give you the rundown of the fights, the first one, Betsy Braddock, Captain Britain gets beaten up immediately. Pete has taken off his headphones, he is done, he is out of here. Betsy Braddock gets beaten immediately, then I believe the second fight is Doug Ramsey, which he is terrified about. Turns out the fight is to get married at [inaudible 00:44:51].

Justin:              The ultimate fight.

Alex:                 The ultimate fight. The third one is a wrestling match between [inaudible 00:44:58] I believe, she loses that, which totally makes sense. At the beginning, drinking contest between Storm and Wolverine. That’s a little bit of a tie over there. But then Wolverine gets sucked into a fight, a three-way fight. Pete, put on of your headphones, put on your headphones, Pete, you can hear what we’re saying. Come on.

Pete:                Can I rant now? Can I please?

Justin:              Listen to what we’re saying.

Alex:                 [crosstalk 00:45:21]. Why are avoiding spoilers? You got to at least hear what I’m saying.

Pete:                I can’t relive this bullshit again, that you’re telling me and not react to it. It’s so fucking painful the state here, and you recount the shitty fucking story.

Justin:              You love sword fights.

Alex:                 Here’s what I think is phenomenal about this. I was going into this. Pete is taking off his headphones again. What I think is great about this, that I was not blown away by is probably too strong, but really impressed by, is I was going into this expecting, okay, then we’re going to go through 10 sword fights, right? They start off with a sword fight that ends almost immediately. I was like, what the fuck is happening here? Why are we not getting a sword fight? This is, honestly, Pete put back the headphones. Put back on the headphones, Pete. I want you to hear this part.

Pete:                Can I rant now please?

Alex:                 No, I want you to hear this part that I’m talking about because my feeling when I was reading this, when Betsy Braddock immediately loses it like two pages, I was furious. I was like, “What is happening here?” And then when the second fight was marriage, it was like, where are the sword fights? I was promised sword fights. But by the time they get to the third fight and the fourth fight, I was starting to get really impressed by the structure of the storytelling here.

Pete:                Oh, fuck you.

Alex:                 Hold on. I was impressed by the structure of the storytelling here, because it’s a total swerve. They’re going for like, what are your expectations? It’s going to be this gauntlet of Ted fights. Instead, we’re coming up with different ways of hitting this, definitely getting into spoilers here, but it becomes clear through the storytelling what Saturnyne is doing. But our whole plan is not to have Krakoa beat Arakko, but to have Arakko realize, wait, we are the same as Krakoa and we need to join together. And we’re not quite there yet, but that’s such a fascinating, interesting, different swerve for the storytelling. I am very excited for where this is going, going forward. Pete, go ahead.

Pete:                All right. Well, first off to address what you’re saying. If you’re going to do that, fucking do a fun issue where they’re playing fucking volleyball or whatever, or having a barbecue and they can fucking get along or whatever. But you set up for fucking 14 issues, there’s going to be this epic fucking battle. And the first epic battle is shit. The second battle is a marriage. What the fuck are you talking about? The third, fourth, fifth, they’re not even fights, they’re bullshit fucking side things that don’t make any sense. People who won don’t get points. Other people are getting random points. What the fuck is going on? You’ve teed this up for fucking, there’s going to be 22 issues of this bullshit, and you’ve done nothing but rob us of good story with this bullshit where there’s actual story that could be happening, but you’re not addressing, not just sitting across from each other going, “Oh, you’re doing well raising our children.” Fuck you.

Pete:                If you’re going to get into it, get into it, don’t just fucking give us one piece of something to walk away. I’m so frustrated on so many levels with this fucking story. I’ve had it up to here. I was so pissed. Captain Britain, that whole thing … It’s very upsetting when you build us something and then don’t come close to even delivering it. You fucking piss in my face when it comes to the delivery and then walk away and go, “Yeah, this shit doesn’t even matter.”

Justin:              Pete, spoiler, the next issue is the two X men each other’s faces for the-

Pete:                Yeah, might as well.

Justin:              That’s the X.

Alex:                 Pissing contest.

Justin:              Oh, Pete, I feel like you might need to catch your breath for a second.

Pete:                The art is very enjoyable.

Justin:              Oh, nice. That’s great.

Pete:                Took a lot for me to say that.

Justin:              I agree with Alex. This was such a surprise, but reading these three issues in particular, it really felt like, oh, they’re doing like … even though it’s not explicitly this, it feels like the fairy realm where nothing is what you expect. And so of course the battle is not going to be just a bunch of random sword fights. Everyone is being tricked. But I think what’s smart about that is the Arakko.

Pete:                We the reader are being tricked.

Justin:              But in the same way that the best stories surprise you.

Pete:                Out of our money.

Justin:              You’re not being tricked out of money. But let me say-

Alex:                 Can I pull that [crosstalk 00:50:14] for a second.

Justin:              The handful-

Alex:                 You’re getting these issues for free.

Pete:                Yeah. I’m just saying, I’m talking about for the people who pay money for comic books, don’t fucking shell out money for this book. You’re going to be fucking pissed because-

Alex:                 Hold on. Because this is … Obviously I have not read the issues beyond this week, but this is a build, right. And what we’re building up to and I could be wrong is we’re going to get a actually epic sword fight between apocalypse and annihilation, his wife. But if there were nine issues of sword fights before that, it wouldn’t hit as hard when you finally get to that.

Pete:                Well, then give me story and then just give me that last fight. Don’t fucking promise me great battles along the way, and then fucking be like, no, two people are randomly going to get married for no fucking reason. And all of a sudden, a guy who all he does is talk to things can’t talk. And that’s the reason he falls in love with her. Are you fucking kidding me?

Justin:              Here’s what I was trying to say before.

Pete:                Sorry Justin.

Justin:              It is much more interesting to feel, to have these stories be surprising and interesting, especially at the beginning when like … especially Doug Ramsey, he goes in, either he’s going to be straight up murdered or he’s going to win randomly. Instead, it’s something completely unexpected and I appreciate that. And it also like, as we’ve met the Arakko warriors, they’re so intense, there’s so much more, they’ve been raised in, they fought their entire lives for millennium. One of them has legit never lost a thing. The odds are stacked against the X-Men. And I think the X-Men, they’re in one of these issues, they talk about this. They have had a happier world, a happier life. I think they can sort of figure out these games and win this without it being just a brute battle between different people that we’ve seen a hundred times in a hundred different comics. I think this is actually makes for some better storytelling. The fact that Wolverine issue, where he wins and also loses is fun. It’s funny. Wolverine is outplayed twice in these issues.

Alex:                 I love the Storm Wolverine drinking battle. That’s great.

Justin:              Did you see Storm leans in for a kiss?

Alex:                 She does. There’s so much … who did the art for that one? That was Joshua Cassara. The way that is laid out in that issue and it slowly builds until Wolverine disappears as they’re about to kiss because they’re completely wasted and they’re going to hook up. That’s great. I love the tension and inherited that scene. And the fact that Wolverine ends up in this three-way battle where he’s just plastered the entire time is so much fun. It’s good. Pete, you’re upset.

Pete:                Yes. I’m very upset because who the fuck … I don’t understand why Wolverine is not acting like Wolverine. Wolverine, you know you can’t just drink in the middle of a sword battle. You know you’re going to have to fight. And also why are you trying to cheat beforehand? I have [crosstalk 00:53:34].

Justin:              They say that it’s a drinking game is the battle, so he does it.

Pete:                Listen, yeah, you know you can’t smell, you’re going to get fucked on that. I saw that coming a mile away.

Justin:              I’ve never been fucked during a drinking game or I guess afterwards.

Pete:                I don’t know. Anyways, I just think that, hey, if you want to tell stories, great, but don’t promise me one thing and then deliver another thing. I like a swerve, I like interesting stories. Yes, the marriage is surprising, whatever, great, great for you guys. But when you put me through these fucking origin stories of getting a sword and, oh, man, I got the baddest sword I can get. And now I’m going to go into a battle, the fight for my fuck island. Oh my God, and then you don’t do that. You don’t even come close to a battle. We haven’t gotten one good one yet. And the scoring is all wrong.

Justin:              You’re really concerned with the score.

Alex:                 Yeah, this is-

Pete:                If you’re fighting to the death and that-

Alex:                 The title of the event is called X of arm wrestling. I don’t understand what the problem is.

Pete:                Fucking arm wrestling.

Justin:              It’s called ten of marriage.

Alex:                 Well, clearly we have a disagreement here, and I think that’s a great-

Justin:              Two to one, we win. Later.

Alex:                 There you go, Arakko wins. That’s it for The Stack. [crosstalk 00:55:04]. Arakko, sorry, Justin. That’s it for The Stack podcast. If you really like to support us, patreon.com/comicbookclub. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 PM to Crowdcast and YouTube. I choose Android and Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice to subscribe and listen to the show at comic book live on Twitter, comicbookclublive.com for this podcast and many more. Until next time, keep getting married everybody.

Justin:              Get out there, the ultimate sword fight.

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