The Stack: The Other History Of The DC Universe And More

The Other History of the DC Universe #1

On this week’s Stack podcast:

The Other History of the DC Universe #1
DC Comics
Story by John Ridley
Layouts by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Finishes by Andrea Cucchi

Monstress: Talk Stories #1
Image Comics
Written by Marjorie Liu
Illustrated by Sina Takeda

Power Pack #1
Written by Ryan North
Art by Nico Leon

The Department of Truth #3
Image Comics
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Martin Simmonds

Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse Who Laughs #1
DC Comics
Written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Patton Oswalt, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Saladin Ahmed, and Brandon Thomas
Art by Juan Gedeon, Chad Hardin, Scot Eaton, and Thomas Mandrake

Nailbiter Returns #7
Image Comics
Written By Joshua Williamson
Art by Mike Henderson

Daredevil #24
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Pencils by Mike Hawthorne

Undiscovered Country #10
Image Comics
Written by Scott Snyder & Charles Soule
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Leonardo Marcello Grassi

An Unkindness of Ravens #3
BOOM! Studios
Written by Dan Panosian
Illustrated by Marianna Ignazzi

The Last God #10
DC Comics
Created and written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by Riccardo Federici

Chu #5
Image Comics
Written by John Layman
Art by Dan Boultwood

X-Men #15
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mahmud Asrar

Excalibur #15
Written by Tini Howard
Art by Mahmud Asrar and Stefano Caselli

X of Swords: Destruction #1
Written by Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard
Art by Pepe Larraz

The Scumbag #2
Image Comics
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Andrew Robinson


This week’s show is sponsored by the Just Been Revoked podcast.

Full Episode Transcript:

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

Justin:              I’m Justin.

Pete:                I’m Pete.

Alex:                 And at The Staff we talk about a bunch of comics that came out this week, and we’re going to kick it off with a big one, The Other History Of The DC Universe #1 from DC Comics. Story by John Ridley, layouts by Giuseppe Cammuncoli, finishes by Andrea Cucchi. You could probably figure it out by the title here as well as the cover, but this is obviously an alternate look at the DC Universe mostly through the eyes of Black Lightning, at least in this first issue. We’ll see where it goes in subsequent issues.

Alex:                 As he slowly works through his career, sees himself and other characters of color kind of pushed to the side of the DC Universe in favor of other characters like Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, learn something about himself, learn something about history. And mostly it’s told through the images of course, but also told through prowess.

Alex:                 I don’t think there’s really any dialogue whatsoever in this issue other than the what’s told in the narration boxes. I thought this was pretty stunning, and almost across, this is probably too reductive, but across between a new frontier and the truth in a certain way.

Justin:              Oh yeah.

Alex:                 What did you guys think about this book?

Pete:                I thought it was really touching, very powerful, moving, which was great. I really love the little Halloween thing, that was beautiful. Yeah, I was really happy to see this comic. I’m glad that this comic was made. It’s a long time coming and I hope we get to see more of this. This is just great storytelling.

Justin:              Yeah. I mean, just the format, the art is so nice. It feels like such a statement. It feels like such a … It sort of has this silver age vibe to it, which I think gives it this historical precedent. It just feels so like something that will be on the shelf and in the conversation for a long time.

Justin:              And then like the otherness of it, like the way that Black Lightning story keeps getting told with the Justice League and the Glacier Heroes as a counterpoint, I think is really interesting. And like you said, Alex, the fact that he and just all the other black superheroes and black characters in this book get shoved to the side throughout, you really feel it throughout and feel that drive for what makes Black Lightning, Black Lightning.

Alex:                 I cannot even imagine what it is like to read this book as a comic fan of color necessarily, obviously because I am white. But speaking as a white comic book reader, it is very hard to read from the perspective of Black Lightning looking at the other characters. And I don’t know if you have this feeling, but I’m reading this and I’m like, “But Superman is not like that. That’s not what Superman is like. That’s not Batman.” I felt these walls kind of building in me of-

Pete:                Whoa. Look at you, you felt attacked.

Alex:                 … Well, not attacked. Attacked is absolutely the wrong word, but this feeling of trying to wrap your brain around how somebody else feels about these sort of things is hard to do, and that’s I think part of the point of the book. Because by the end you do get Jefferson Pierce starting to understand a little bit more of the wider world, bring down some of those walls himself and accept these things while still understanding that his experience is ultimately going to be intrinsically different from a lot of other characters in this universe.

Alex:                 So it really brings you in, in that way as well. And like you said, Pete, there are multiple times I got choked up, just almost hitched, like is the best word for it, when something just snuck up on you in the book, these moments of strong emotion throughout, which I was very surprised about. And then the other thing you were mentioning about the art, Justin, it feels almost Neal Adams-like to me without being exaggerated, which I thought was kind of neat.

Justin:              Yeah, totally agree. It’s a great book. And there I think there are what, four more issues? And this is coming up bimonthly, I want to say?

Pete:                We can’t wait.

Alex:                 Yeah, I’m very curious. I haven’t read ahead about it, but I’m very curious to see whether it follows Black Lightning story throughout, which would make sense. And it’s essentially a Black Lightning book, or if it’s going to switch perspectives in nature too.

Justin:              I think it jumps around a little bit and touches on different characters. Another thing about this, the amount of continuity that is touched on here, and really owning it when it’s like some of it is ridiculous, but really making it a part of this very real story I think is great. There’s this Reagan pin with the Watchmen blood splatter on it, which I thought was very cool.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 Great book. Definitely pick this one up. Next up, Monstress: Talk Stories #1 from Image Comics, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda. I’d admit I have not read Monstress in a while, even though I really enjoy this book. The art is consistently gorgeous. Plus it takes place at in a fantasy world with some half personas, I guess I would call them.

Pete:                Yeah, nice.

Alex:                 Yeah, absolutely.

Pete:                Great use of that word, that just came up. That was really organic and natural.

Alex:                 Thank you so much, Pete. I really appreciate it.

Justin:              Tip of the tongue.

Alex:                 In this book, we find a backstory on one of the characters. It’s sweet, it’s sad, it’s harry. The character designs are great. I like this book quite a bit. What did you guys think?

Justin:              I agree, I like this a lot. There’s some fun cooking. The cooking is really used as a great moment in this story. And this reminded me, I mean, it’s such a … When I was a kid, first, the sort of furry ears on a human head was in Super Mario Brothers 3. That was the first time I encountered that. And to know that, that’s such a thing, I was like, “What an interesting thing.” And to know that such a thing in Manga and everything was a revelation.

Alex:                 And now here we are, three guys sitting in our own Tanooki Suits recording a podcast.

Pete:                Wow.

Justin:              100%.

Pete:                Yeah.

Justin:              Metaphor.

Pete:                Well, they bring up an interesting question. What’s your favorite meal you’ve ever had? I mean, I think that’s a great question to kind of put out there. And also I-

Justin:              Yeah, I guess what garbage plate do you like the most?

Pete:                … Also the art and the storytelling is really superb. It is very-

Justin:              Art is great.

Pete:                … complicated, kind of cool story that we’re kind of thrown into here, and it’s really cool.

Alex:                 Let’s move on and talk about Power Pack #1 from Marvel-

Pete:                Okay, yeah. Very good.

Alex:                 … written by Ryan North.

Pete:                You can ignore my question, that’s cool.

Alex:                 Oh, you were asking about-

Justin:              Favorite meal?

Alex:                 … best meal we ever had?

Pete:                Favorite meal you’ve ever had. Yeah.

Alex:                 Favorite meal? Did you offer up your favorite meal or did Justin just say garbage plate and you’re like, “Yeah, fuck you.”?

Pete:                No, Justin just made a joke about garbage plates, but nobody’s answered it yet.

Alex:                 Oh, okay.

Justin:              Do you want me to go?

Alex:                 No, I can go. On my honeymoon, we went to-

Justin:              Woohoo.

Alex:                 … Yeah, on my honeymoon. We went to London and Paris. And particularly in Paris, we were like, “We’re not going to look at any guidebooks, we’re going to wing it. We’re just going to like … We’re not going to make any reservations, we’re just going to wander around, we’re going to find places.” And we consistently made the worst choices in terms of restaurants, just like absolutely … Just the tourist trap and just not good spots, and it was obvious-

Pete:                The [inaudible 00:07:42] of Paris.

Alex:                 … as soon as we sat there, we were like, “Oh, no, this is bad.” One of the last days-

Justin:              I heard Paris TGI Friday’s is actually one of the best ones.

Alex:                 Yeah, they actually call it TGI Friday’s.

Justin:              Yeah, wow.

Alex:                 I couldn’t think of any other French words.

Pete:                In other words, he wouldn’t have done that.

Alex:                 [inaudible 00:08:00] Friday’s.

Justin:              Yeah.

Alex:                 Anyway, so yeah, we were having a great time, but eating not great food, which you would expect in Paris. And one of the last days, one of the things that we really liked to do was just get some lunch and sit down at the Lourve in the park outside, which is this beautiful park and just eat the lunch. And we stumbled across this place called Maison de la Truffe, which is a ridiculously expensive black truffle restaurant.

Alex:                 And everything in there, insanely expensive. We could not afford to sit down and eat, but they had a to go thing outside. And the cheapest thing that they had was a baguette with some truffle butter and sausage on it, and then a tiny little thing of champagne, just like this big.

Alex:                 And there was a sack of things which we called basically fancy combos, because they were essentially just little wafers with cheese inside. And we took those and sat at the Louvre, and had this meal, and it was the best meal I had in Paris hands down. But also one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Just everything was ridiculously delicious. There you go.

Justin:              That’s a great answer. I’m going to-

Pete:                And you’re still married to this day?

Alex:                 No, we got divorced. That was my first wife.

Pete:                Aw, my bad.

Justin:              The French woman he married for lunch.

Alex:                 Hey, people married for all sorts of reasons.

Justin:              It’s true.

Alex:                 Lunch is-

Justin:              Lunch is a good one.

Alex:                 … Yeah.

Justin:              Yeah. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach maritally. I’m going to give it up for my mom’s taco dip. Very good. But just as-

Alex:                 I’m also going to give it up for your mom’s taco dip.

Pete:                Oh my God, what just happened?

Justin:              … Wow.

Pete:                Oh my God.

Justin:              But I’ll go international as well as Alex. I was in Japan. I was traveling by myself, and I was hiking. I got off the Shinkansen bullet train right near Mount Fuji and just wandered around. It was January, it was very cold. I was not dressed appropriately. There was a guy who was selling some sort of soup at a stand, just like on this side road. Got that soup, ate it sitting on a rock, great meal.

Alex:                 Nice.

Pete:                Wow. Nice.

Alex:                 Pete.

Pete:                I’ll share too a travel one, the regulation one.

Justin:              Regulation.

Pete:                There is this seafood place outside of Pawleys Island in South Carolina, and it’s called Frank’s. I don’t think it’s there any longer. And they named it Frank’s because three chefs went in to create this restaurant, and one of the chefs name was Frank. And when it was time to sign the deal, this guy Frank completely disappeared and left them, but they started the restaurant anyway.

Pete:                And they had this amazing blackened mahi mahi. And in the kind of bar area, where we were hanging out as a family, I played my dad for my dinner in this little ring game, it’s like a giant ring attached to a fish line. And I won the game and I got to order anything I wanted off the menu. So it was pretty cool, and it was really delicious. I don’t know if it was extra good because I won, but it was really quite good.

Justin:              Yeah, I think the meal you had that day was victory.

Pete:                Yes. But in Costa Rica, I had gone through a lot of crazy events where I was dating this person, or I wasn’t dating, we were kind of there together on this trip. And then she got robbed, and then I went to go meet up with my other friends and we went on this kind of tour of the sanctuary, and these monkeys robbed this couple that I was with, and I had to … They were going to kind of pay for me for a little bit, because I was low on funds, I’d spent a lot of money early drinking. You know what that’s like, Justin?

Justin:              Yeah. Get the all inclusive.

Pete:                Yeah. And so I was kind of just I had nothing to do, so I was just kind of walking around Costa Rica, and I stumbled across this place called the Sunset Hotel. And I walked around the corner, and there as the sun is setting is this Italian dude, and I was like … I walked around the corner and this guy goes, “Hey, how you doing?” and he made me a fresh pizza and it was phenomenal.

Alex:                 Man, there were so many different places that story could have gone. I was not predicting the end of it.

Justin:              Costa Rican pizza.

Alex:                 There was a point where I thought maybe your thing was going to be you ate the monkeys for vengeance.

Pete:                Oh, wow.

Justin:              Yeah.

Pete:                I’m not [crosstalk 00:12:53]

Justin:              The meal you had that day was vengeance.

Pete:                Yes.

Alex:                 I think that reviews that comic book.

Pete:                Yeah.

Justin:              Definitely.

Alex:                 Next step, Power Pack #1 from Marvel, written by Ryan North, art by Nico Leon. This is how you get to the much bladed outlawed event where all the teen heroes in the Marvel Universe are not allowed to practice superheroism. But it’s also bring back together Power Pack for the first time in a while, in their new iterations.

Alex:                 I do think very smartly they age them down quite a bit in this book. They’ve been aged up to be like, “We’re cool teens, and some of us are adults and it’s a little unclear.” Bring them back to basics while not ignoring the continuity is very smart. And this Ryan North is very funny, it’s fun, it feels like a old Power Pack. It’s better and winky throughout. I enjoy this book quite a bit, but I’m also definitely in the tank for it. What was your guys’ takes?

Pete:                My favorite part is, “We interrupt this broadcast of jazz for middle-class dinner parties to bring you breaking news.” That was really funny.

Justin:              Ryan North is a funny writer, it’s great to see him on this book. I put him in the same bucket as Mark Russell. As like anytime you see them on the book, it’s consistently funny, which is hard.

Alex:                 Yeah. Yes.

Justin:              Sorry I interrupted you, Pete. You can finish your view.

Alex:                 No, that was the only positive thing Pete wanted to say. Justin, what did you think about this one?

Justin:              No, I loved it. It was great, super fun. Power Pack kids are fun, especially with the comedic angle. The art is very good. I’m curious how this outline event is going to play out. It does feel super disjointed. And it’s sort of the same thing over and over again where these teen heroes suddenly are arrested, so I feel like this will be a fun version of it.

Alex:                 Yes, I agree. Next step, The Department of Truth #3 from Image Comics, written by James Tynion IV, art by Martin Simmonds. This issue we’re continuing to follow our conspiracy fighters, is I guess what we can call them. Basically conspiracy theories aren’t real, but if you believe hard enough, they will become real. In this one, they’re tackling gun control and crisis actors, and false flags and things like that. And man, it’s very well done, very hard to read at points. But just like the main characters find it themselves, there’s a lot of conflicting emotions that go on here, I think.

Justin:              I love this book so much. I agree with you completely, Alex. And this issue especially, there’s so much reality in this comic. And the hard part is I don’t know how many people who read this know about all these conspiracy theories, and the insanity that is spun around them. This one I happen to know a lot about, because I worked on a show called The Opposition with Jordan Klepper, which was about this …

Justin:              Jordan was playing this conspiracy-driven host, and so we dealt a lot in this world. And Alex Jones who this book is, this issue is sort of like drawing upon, who’s like a very bad grifter person. We had to do so much paying attention to him as he descended into this madness. So this was especially, I was like reliving all of the actual news stories that were happening back like three, four years ago.

Pete:                Yeah, this is really cool. It’s very interesting. Artistically, it’s really, really impressive what they’re doing here with the different art styles meshing. It is a little tough to kind of understand what is happening a little bit. But I didn’t appreciate the kind of like, “Oh, I took improv classes, so I’m good at lying,” I thought that was a little heartbreaking, but-

Alex:                 Just to clarify what’s happening is, probably as far as we can tell in real life, this woman’s son was killed in a school shooting. Then this organization, Black Hat, which we don’t know why, but it’s a tease that we’re going to find out a lot more next issue, is trying to make conspiracy theories come to life.

Alex:                 They drop off a film that whether it’s a fabricated or it’s real or whatever it is that seems to convince this woman that not only is her son alive, but she may actually be an actor who was an improv actor, so the entire thing was faked, and it starts to change the reality around her. She doesn’t know what’s real and she doesn’t know what’s fake. And what I think it does really nicely emotionally, particularly through the art, as you mentioned, is it plays on this idea of this fractured psyche that I imagine you’re going through when you deal with unimaginable tragedy like the death of a child.

Pete:                Yeah.

Justin:              Yeah. And the fact that the premise of the book that this group is able to manifest these conspiracy theories when she gets this flash drive with these facts, these alternative facts on them. This book is so smart, it’s so current, it’s just one of my favorites on the stands right now.

Alex:                 What happens when a robotic overlord in prisons a rant god and a humble narcissist, you get this week sponsor of comic book club, The Just Been Revoked Podcast. Join Chris G., Tom legacy and Mr. Rhace, as they discuss the origins, the ends and everything in between of all things film. Episodes are released weekly on Apple, Spotify, and all other major podcast platforms.

Alex:                 Looking for a film podcast that has fun and doesn’t take things too seriously, then check them out at Let’s move on and talk about Dark Nights: Death Metal: The Multiverse Who Laughs #1 from DC Comics, written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Patton Oswalt, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Saladin Ahmed and Brandon Thomas. Art by Juan Gedeon, Chad Hardin, Scott Eaton and Thomas Mandrake.

Alex:                 This is anthology that Robin King is telling, basically saying, “Blah, blah, blah. You’ve heard all of these dark versions of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman before. How about a couple of other dark multiverses? What would you think about that?” So we get to see three of them in this book. What did you think about this comic?

Pete:                Well, it’s a collection of stories. Some of them are a little better than others, but it’s fun. It’s like The Coming King and all that kind of stuff. I thought that it’s interesting enough. It’s definitely turning it up, like the Dark Metal stuff has been doing, so Death Metal stuff has been doing. I thought this was kind of a cool a book to put out as far as like, “Hey, we’re going to kind of let some other writers do some stuff on this,” and yeah.

Justin:              Yeah, it’s a good mix. I really liked the first bit, the Scott Snyder sort of just bucket of random worlds where bad things happen to our favorite heroes. And the Patton Oswalt story I thought was great. Fun sort of Mr. Zsasz, right, is he villain here? And what it’s like for him trying to be the cool villain in Arkham, and the consequences of that was. It was cool.

Alex:                 This is definitely in my mind one of the lesser books in this event, everything else feels so necessary and interconnected. I love the idea of having else worlds that follow not the big three, that follow just more side stories, and I’d love to see more of that. But overall, I thought this comic book was fine. I think to your point, I liked the Robin King stuff. I thought Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner of course put together a fun story. But just so you know-

Pete:                They usually do.

Alex:                 What? They usually do.

Pete:                They usually do.

Alex:                 But it does not feel like something you’d necessarily need to read to understand the main act.

Justin:              It’s a little bit of the lighter side.

Pete:                Yeah, it’s just a fun-

Alex:                 Yes, exactly.

Pete:                … Yeah, it’s a fun collection of ideas and stories-

Justin:              It’s like a little Dave Barry novel.

Alex:                 Great. That’s what I’d say as well. Nailbiter Returns #7 from Image Comics, written by Joshua Williamson, art by Mike Henderson. Here were literally getting into the beat of the issue as they delve further into Buckaroo, into this game that’s being played by the new Buckaroo Butchers. And we get a bunch of psychedelic stuff, a trip to the past, some revelations, some promise of future revelations. I’m really enjoying what they did with this series, and it feels entirely different from what they did with the previous one.

Justin:              Yeah.

Pete:                Yeah, I agree. I think it’s really creative, the art’s fantastic. They do such a good job of pulling you into this world and kind of like with their storytelling, and I just was really impressed with this. It does a good enough job or moving the story enough where you know a little bit about what’s happening to kind of follow along and not feel like, “I don’t get it.” It walks that kind of crazy line really well. But man, just the art and the characters are just insane in all the right ways. The use of blood rain and then that skull who’s just like puking blood on the pyramid is just insane.

Justin:              Yeah, I love the sort of dream sequence aspect of this book, it feels so deliberate to become right now, sort of seeding out a bunch of wild ideas that then they can call upon going forward. The art’s so good. I’ve been a huge fan of Birthright also by Joshua Williamson, and this feels like if you read that and haven’t read Nailbiter, it’s definitely worth getting in on Nailbiter.

Pete:                Ah man, that’s what I should’ve said for that lock and key question.

Alex:                 On the live show?

Pete:                Birthright would have been great. Yeah.

Alex:                 Messed up, man. Messed up. Next step, this is what I put on the stack to make Pete feel a little bit better. Daredevil #24 from Marvel, written by Chip Zdarsky, pencils by Mike Hawthorne. Pete, you’re not in your head. No. Do you not feel better after this comic book?

Pete:                Well, this is a rough issue, man. I was so excited that we got Daredevil in our stack, but then of course it’s a sad issue and I was like, “Oh, well, this is why his album put this in.”

Alex:                 No, 100% not.

Pete:                Foggy is fighting and-

Alex:                 Foggy is bad at his job. What’s different about the usual? It feels like pretty status quo for our man, Mr …

Pete:                No, this is not status quo. Also there’s too many people look like Daredevil. I don’t know what the fuck-

Alex:                 It’s only one other than his twin.

Pete:                … is going on.

Alex:                 Sure. Daredevil is on trial for murder, something that he is willingly doing. We also get, which I thought was interesting and I want to get your beat on, a Kingpin shower scene in this issue. How did you feel about that? That’s something fans have been asking for, for a long time.

Pete:                A long time.

Justin:              You got to truly see the Kingpin here.

Pete:                Oh boy. I mean, they always do that in the comics with the well-placed steam or fog-

Justin:              It’s a little fancy.

Alex:                 I do that in my shower.

Pete:                … or whatever. I don’t see any of the-

Justin:              Yeah, in my shower, Foggy Nelson is standing in front of my genitals all the time.

Pete:                That’s smart.

Alex:                 I thought this was really good and I loved where this ended up. Justin?

Justin:              I agree. Chip Zdarsky is really bringing all of the Daredevil characters that sort of have the most emotional stakes here together. You’ve got your Typhoid Mary, your Kingpin. We don’t see many other of Daredevil’s love interests, but only because they’re dead. But his current love interest, we see Elektra here, Foggy his, I guess, friend, frenemy in a lot of ways.

Pete:                Fuck you. That’s his friend [inaudible 00:24:52]

Alex:                 I’m excited to see where this goes going forward, because it has the potential to really redefine the Marvel Universe.

Justin:              How do you feel about Daredevil wearing a suit and his costume?

Alex:                 That’s pretty weird, right?

Pete:                Yeah, that was weird, right?

Alex:                 Just like when Nightwing wears a mask over his mask, and I’m like, “Choose one, buddy. It’s fine.”

Justin:              Unnecessary for both. The suit over the suit feels, in a very serious issue, it feels goofy.

Pete:                Mm-hmm (affirmative). It does.

Alex:                 Also, how much is he sweating? He’s got to stink real bad.

Pete:                Wow.

Justin:              Yes.

Pete:                Yeah. Well, I wonder if it’s like a fake turtleneck situation where he doesn’t have the full suit underneath.

Justin:              Keep the suit, just that top part.

Alex:                 I thought that, I thought he was just wearing the mask, but he’s wearing the gloves as well.

Pete:                Oh, wow.

Alex:                 It’s the full suit, man.

Pete:                Yeah.

Justin:              It’s the full suit.

Alex:                 Yeah, double suit.

Pete:                Double suit is a lot.

Justin:              Slow down on the suits.

Alex:                 Undiscovered Country-

Pete:                No double suit.

Alex:                 … #10 from Image Comics, written by Scott Snyder and Charles Soule, art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Leonardo Marcello Grassi. In this issue, we find out a whole lot more about UNITY, the second zone of America, as well as what happened to the past as things rapidly start to fall apart there. It was a pretty horrific reveal at the end of the issue. It makes a lot of sense. This is great. And I think we’ve been saying this a lot about this arc, but I finally feel kind of like I understand what’s going out of this book and that makes me feel a lot better.

Justin:              And it’s interesting because I don’t quite know … The story is just as complex. There’s even more happening because our characters have split up a little bit. But what I think makes more sense is this arc is using more of like a metaphor in describing America. So I feel like that gives us a baseline to really understand how the different aspects are coming together.

Alex:                 No, I mean, you’re absolutely right. I didn’t really think about it until you said it like that, but thinking about it was like, “What does Destiny, the first zone mean to me?” Well, join other men, ride on sharks. Versus here, the idea that everybody is joining together, finding unity through the shared belief in science. Yes, that works a lot better. It’s a lot easier to hook into even if it’s-

Pete:                Yeah, but there’s also giant whale sharks in here too.

Alex:                 There’s still giant whale sharks.

Justin:              Yeah. That’s what I’m saying, there’s just as many crazy specifics-

Alex:                 And also-

Justin:              … but it’s all under this one narrative line I feel like, it’s a little cleaner.

Pete:                Yeah, under one nation. I love the man-at-arms shout-out, a little He-Man love in there. That was just great. It was fun to see. Yeah, I do. With each issue, I become a little less confused, which is great. The art and the character designs are just phenomenal, great kind of like last page reveal. This continues to be a very interesting, very well done book. I’m just happy now that we’re kind of getting a little bit more of a grasp on what’s actually happening.

Alex:                 I don’t want to call you out, Pete, but I feel like you’ve been confused about every issue that we’ve talked about in The Stack this week. Was there any we talked about that you were not confused about?

Pete:                Huh.

Justin:              We should say you got hit on the head with an anvil right before you read The Stack, right?

Alex:                 Right.

Pete:                Oh, that’s true. You think that affects?

Justin:              You think that affects?

Pete:                I wasn’t affected by Chew. I was confused by Chew.

Alex:                 Oh, okay. All right. Well, we’ll get to that one in a moment then, that’s good. An Unkindness of Ravens #3 from Boom! Studios, written by Dan Panosian and illustrated by Marianna Ignazzi. This is another one we’re getting to kind of the meat of everything that’s going on. We have a new kid-

Pete:                You’re really hungry.

Alex:                 What?

Pete:                You’re really hungry. You keep talking about meat.

Alex:                 Sweet, delicious, savory meat. Yeah. No, we’re getting to the heart of the issue. How about that? Is that better?

Justin:              I love eating hearts.

Alex:                 There we go. Where we’re finding out more [crosstalk 00:28:44] about this town that our main character has moved to, the warring factions, what’s going on behind the scenes. I continue to really like this book.

Justin:              I agree. I said this on the live show this week, but this feels like such a … If you’re a fan of the Sabrina TV series on Netflix, which is not coming back for a little bit and you want something to fill the gap, this book is great. It also feels like a good, if you’re a fan of Lock and Key, which we talk about a lot, this feels like a nice spiritual successor to that book.

Justin:              It’s just the characters are really fun, the art is great. There’s this sense of dread hovering over everything. And I don’t really know … It’s hard to predict where their story’s going. It’s witchy in the right ways and sort of arty in the right ways as well.

Pete:                Yeah. Art’s great. It’s really fun. It’s kind of nice that we’re getting into this world and what’s going on. I think in a cool way that doesn’t make me frustrated or confused about what’s happening. But I think it’s very cool with hinting at what happens and then the kind of reveal. The whole part where we’re seeing these crows and then one is shot, and then we kind of get to see that. Really impressed with that. I think this is a very cool story. I’m excited to see how this is going to unfold, and whether or not it’s going to be like a really great comic that will hold up, stands the test of time.

Alex:                 Well see. Next up, Last God #10 from DC Comics, written and created, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, art by Ricardo Federici. This issue, we find out some big revelations about what happened back in the day at the Black Stair. We find out more about what’s happening in the present. And it looks like the bad things are coming for our heroes or maybe are already there. What did you think?

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, this really starts off amazing. We got some great actions, some cool ass dragon shit.

Justin:              Cool ass dragon shit.

Pete:                And then there’s a lot of talking, and then feelings and then stuff. But it starts off really good. I’m excited to see where this goes. I think this is a very creative cool book.

Justin:              I like this book a lot. The art is so lush and just beautifully done. It feels like a classic fantasy story. You’d get like one little drawing on the cover or something. This feels like it’s that full art and that same style for the whole story, which is great. And what I love about it it was really placed with the tropes of legacy and fantasy books where it’s like the great heroes from the past, and now it’s this generation’s turn to fight. And this says, oh, maybe what if the first generation wasn’t great, how does that influence everything? And it’s just a smart take and a beautiful book.

Alex:                 I agree. Next step, the books that did not confuse Pete. Chew #5 from Image Comics, written by John Layman and art by Dan Boultwood. This is the end of the first arc here as the two Chews are facing down, all of Saffron’s crimes have been revealed. And things do not go necessarily how you might expect. Yes, Pete.

Pete:                What’s great is they picked up right where they left off last issue. This is not the worst than when you kind of build up to the standoff and then you cut away from it to have backstory or some shit. So this was really great-

Alex:                 Was that you, Pete? Are the continuity police coming for you?

Justin:              Yeah.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 Oh, shit. Book it.

Justin:              Get out of [inaudible 00:32:20]. They’re going to have a good questions that I think he might be confused about answering. Let me be honest.

Alex:                 Oh, boy.

Pete:                Yeah, I like this. This is great kind of standoff, brother, sister stuff. This is really cool. Art is fantastic. And it’s nice because it still feels like in the two world-

Alex:                 The Chew-universe.

Pete:                … and it also feels a little different.

Justin:              The Chew-universe. Good.

Pete:                Yeah, the Chew-universe. Also, did you guys see the … It looked like a country monkey riding a smoking lizard walking by when she got out of jail?

Alex:                 No, I missed that.

Justin:              I think that was actually in your apartment beyond the edge of the comic book.

Pete:                No, it’s there. I had to double-check it. And also it looks like Sonic the Hedgehog was just shot outside the prison. It’s really cool if you look at the background stuff.

Justin:              RIP.

Alex:                 Huh. Wow.

Justin:              I like this book a lot. I was not a Chew reader of the original series, and this is … I’m not a Chewer.

Pete:                Yeah, you weren’t a Chew head.

Justin:              I really like this though. It makes me want to go back and maybe read Chew, because this is very good, very fun. And I really like the character Saffron. The way that this story sort of positions the next move going forward, I think is great.

Alex:                 I agree. Next up, we’re going to get into it here. We’re going to talk about our final X of Swords block as this big event. 22 part event is wrapped up here with three issues.

Pete:                Can we …

Alex:                 What Pete?

Pete:                Can we just finish off this stack before we get into this giant argument here?

Alex:                 Sure, we can jump ahead. I put the scumbag up last to space out the image comics, but let’s talk about the Scumbag #2 by Image Comics, written by Rick Remender-

Pete:                Okay, my bad.

Alex:                 … art by Andrew Robinson. This is about the worst man of the world. He’s the only one who could save the world. We find out more about him and his powers. He injected himself with some stuff so he can save the world here. This is very much positioning that there is no right way to go as we have a terrible guy, who needs to stop some potentially more terrible guys from doing some terrible stuff. It’s just a fun book stuff. Just a fun book. Doing some light political commentary here.

Justin:              Yes.

Pete:                Yeah.

Justin:              So good. Rick Remender-

Pete:                Oh, go ahead.

Justin:              … writes people who fuck up better than anybody. This feels like a great successor to Fear Agent, one of Rick’s first books that we loved way back in the day. And the art by Andrew Robinson is so good, it’s so sort of 1970s animated, influenced, it feels like to me. And I think it’s just a fun book that has some real, like a lot of Remender’s book, has some real commentary underneath, a bunch of jokes and characters just screwing up.

Pete:                Yeah. It’s a lot of fun. The art is like gross, but also light. It’s really interesting the way they kind of walk this line of like you hate this guy, but you’re also rooting for him. Yeah, I think it’s very well done, very creative. Rick Remender does a fun balance of tripped out, but also not too tripped out, where you kind of feel like that’s all it’s doing. I’m just really impressed with … There’s a lot going on in this comic. There’s a lot being kind of dealt with, and it does it seamlessly in a way that’s fun and moving the story forward, and it doesn’t feel rushed. Yeah, I mean, I’m impressed with this book. I’m excited to see how Rick Remender is going to break our hearts with some of these characters, because he always does. And yeah, it will be fun to talk to him about this next week.

Justin:              Yes.

Alex:                 Yeah, there you go. All right. For real now, we’re going to wrap up with our X of Swords block. X-Men #15 from Marvel, written by Jonathan Hickman and art by Mahmud Asrar. Excalibur #15 written by Tini Howard, art by Mahmud Asrar and Stefano Caselli. And finally, X of Swords or 10 of swords: Destruction #10, written by Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard, art by Pepe Larraz.

Alex:                 Now, before we talk about this, we should really talk about how hard everybody worked and how we never want to put down the amount of work that people put into it. They drew this, they wrote this, there were editors who we really like who worked on this, assistant editors, people who printed it, the staples were very nice in the book and somebody had to put them in there.

Pete:                Yeah, this came together fast, and they got it all done on time. There wasn’t any delays. It’s pretty impressive what they put together.

Alex:                 There you go. And that’s our review of X of Swords. I like this event. I thought it was fun and good, and I love where it turned up. We talked about this before, but a lot of this was Saturnyne in the background, manipulating the situation to get into a place where she got almost everything that she wanted as we find out about the end.

Alex:                 And the one thing that hitches me up a little bit is I don’t care about Otherworld that much, just as comics continuity and comic book fan. So having everything pivot on that, brought it down emotionally for me a little bit versus having a pivot on the X-Men themselves.

Alex:                 But I do like the moves they made here. I like where Apocalypse ended up. I thought the big battles were good. The art was phenomenal, just like huge, big battle scenes, enormous monsters. The scale of it was great, and just individual characterizations. Both Tini Howard and Jonathan Hickman write a great Ariana. I don’t know who specifically was scripting her dialogue, but just super fun throughout this entire event. Just a really good event for her. And it’s good stuff.

Alex:                 I know Pete’s going to disagree with this, but really good Cyclops stuff towards the end here. And I love the idea of holding Cyclops and Marvel Girl in reserve until the end and then be like, “No, fuck you. We’re getting there. We’re going to solve this problem.” And it really positions them in the place they should be at the lead of the X-Men. I enjoy this quite a bit. I don’t think it was a perfect event by any means, but I had a lot of fun. I had a blast reading it. Justin, what did you think about it? Pete, we can get your haterade later in a second. Let’s get adjusted first, a little more positive.

Justin:              The hater goes later is what we’ve always said. I agree, I do like this event. Art across the board is great. But yeah, I mean, it’s a weird event. It’s so weird as the first big event to have it be so fantastical, have it be so sort of like goofy at points. I agree with you, the Cyclops and Jean Grey stuff, it really felt like their ascension at the end of this event is what’s important here.

Justin:              And to see them sort of outside of just the bureaucracy of the Quiet Council and maybe they can actually make some moves is exciting. Really establishing them as a family with Young Cable I think is very cool. Ariana also stepped up a lot. The Apocalypse fight, I don’t know. I thought it was going to be a little bit more about Apocalypse and it felt like just a fight.

Alex:                 Yeah, it was like, “What was that?”

Justin:              I mean, we talked about this, we sort of predicted this, that, excuse me, Arakko would be coming through to Krakoa. And with it hundreds of mutans, I believe, from around-

Alex:                 Millions, I think.

Justin:              Millions?

Alex:                 Millions.

Justin:              Oh, wow.

Alex:                 Yeah.

Justin:              That’s a lot of people hanging out on earth, which I think I’m curious how that will affect the continuity. It feels like a lot to add. A continuity that’s already pretty wild.

Alex:                 Well, I think the thing that, that adds, and maybe I’m wrong because who knows what is going on with the X-Men stuff? They can set up that Arakko is coming through and then not deal with it for 30 issues or something. But to me it feels like suddenly millions of mutants show up, you suddenly have a destabilized world situation that is already on the edge because of Krakoa.

Alex:                 When you bring the mutant population up to potentially pre-Genosha levels, what does that do? What nations does that put on alert? And that puts the mutant state in a really, really bad place. As for Apocalypse, the thing that I did like is it ultimately got to this place, even though I feel like we didn’t get enough fleshed out about the annihilation helmet, the idea that ultimately Apocalypse; A, is fundamentally changed by Krakoa enough that he can surrender, but also that it is Apocalypse’s will that manages to win the day felt like a smart decision. Even if it wasn’t maybe an action-wise satisfying decision. Pete, I know you’re a champion of the bid here. Go ahead.

Pete:                Okay. Yeah, please. All right. Explain this to me, okay? They had, “You got to get your sword, you got to get to the fight.” Okay? So then we learned that none of that matters because it’s about this helmet that speaks to you and makes you annihilate everything. But once Apocalypse puts on the helmet, he realizes that he’s not going to let a helmet control him, so he’ll take a knee and then that solves everything. And then, oh, Apocalypse you won, and okay, I’m going to banish a whole Island of people. Great.

Pete:                And then Scott Summers and Marvel Girl, who started this kind of whole thing with a bunch of weird meetings through time, decided this whole island that they helped create doesn’t matter and fuck all you all because I got to go save my son, which I understand, that’s cool, but they had like a whole Quiet Council meeting and it didn’t matter. So it was kind of like this-

Justin:              But-

Pete:                … whole thing that we’re trying to do, they threw it all-

Justin:              If-

Pete:                … out the window. Hey, I’m trying to finish here.

Justin:              If Wolverine did that you would have loved, and just because it’s Scott, you don’t like it.

Pete:                That’s a bullshit thing to thing.

Justin:              It’s 100% true.

Pete:                No, it’s not.

Justin:              Wolverine does that every time.

Pete:                I’m trying to wrap my head around this whole detour of the X-Men world that we just took and why we did it, and the only thing I can come up with is giant alligators and dragons are cool, and fighting with swords would have been cool, but it didn’t happen. We got drinking games and playing softball. And people will say that they will get married at the drop of a hat in the X-Men world.

Alex:                 The Cyclops thing I do think a lot of this is about … A lot of this story so far has been about the X-Men … And we’re not supposed to call them the X-Men, the mutants. They specifically state that in the book. They’re like, “The mutants-“

Justin:              There’s a whole big paragraph.

Alex:                 There’s several of that. I know.

Pete:                Yeah, I don’t read the paragraphs.

Alex:                 You should read the paragraphs, they’re kind of important. The mutants have made this big move to become one mutant state. And from the writing perspective, I think what they’ve done is how much stress can we put on that? How many things can we do to fracture that? And Saturnyne says by the end, “Two people have left the Quiet Council. They’re going to have to replace it, it’s going to be the non-ideal picks.”

Alex:                 And now, not just Scott Summers is leaving with a small team to go save everybody, but everybody comes with him, which means, yes, it’s the mutants united, but it also means as it states in those paragraphs, which I do think are really important. They’ve tried to ditch the X-Men name because it’s something that’s pre-Krakoa. It’s an idea of like, it’s a moniker taken by Charles Xavier. It’s not an example of-

Pete:                The Lollipop Man.

Alex:                 Yes, Lollipop Man. It’s not an example of the United Krarkoa State, but the fact that Scott Summers is reclaiming this and then everybody’s like, “Yes, we’re X-Men. Let’s go. It’s go time,” creates this friction there that’s only going to get bigger. Once you suddenly have billions of mutants who have been slaves up to this point, who we’ve never met before suddenly showing up, so it means bad things for the outside world. It also means bad things for Krakoa and Arakko. And dramatically, that’s a really good place to be putting everybody.

Justin:              Yeah, I agree with that. This crossover feels a lot like Chris Claremont-esque. Like mid-Chris-

Alex:                 I mean-

Justin:              … Claremont run, where it’s like epic stuff that involves things that are sort of far flung from actual X-Men and mutant world stuff. Like getting with Lilandra and all that stuff, where it’s like continuity heavy, where it’s like, “Wait, what was that about that?” I feel like this will hold a similar place to a lot of that Claremont stuff, especially the other worldness of it, which I agree with you, I don’t love all that.

Justin:              And this whole like captain … I know Excalibur was the second to last issue so that they’ll have an outsize effect on it. But the Captain Britain Corp and all that, I was like, “I don’t … ” This feels like such a side quest that so much of this event landing on that felt like, “Oh, I don’t know about that.”

Pete:                It was just a lot just so Cyclops could have a Jerry Maguire moment of like, “Who’s coming with me? Who’s coming with me?”

Alex:                 What did you think about the part where Cyclops said, “Show me the money,” though? That was pretty cool.

Pete:                Yeah, that was touching. It was sort of touching.

Alex:                 Yeah.

Justin:              And what about Wolverine played by Jonathan Lipnicki? I know.

Pete:                Too tall.

Justin:              He’s too tall? He’s very short.

Pete:                I don’t know about Jonathan Lipnicki so-

Justin:              He’s tiny.

Alex:                 You just referenced Jerry Maguire.

Justin:              He’s the kid.

Alex:                 He’s the little kid that said, “Did you know the human head weighs eight pounds?”

Pete:                Oh, he’s the kids with the spiked hair?

Alex:                 Yeah.

Pete:                Oh, that’s great. Yeah, he’s a great [inaudible 00:46:41]

Alex:                 Okay. What would you think about Renee Zellweger playing Jonathan Lipnicki, is what it was?

Justin:              Renee playing Jonathan Lipnicki?

Alex:                 Yeah.

Justin:              Oh, interesting.

Alex:                 Playing Wolverine.

Justin:              Oh, wow. That’s great.

Alex:                 With the little lemon face.

Justin:              Ooh yeah, just a pursed lip.

Alex:                 She got the little lip. Suck on a lemon.

Justin:              I’m the best there is at what I do, and what I do is this little face. She’s a good actress. Yeah.

Pete:                I don’t know what you guys are doing.

Alex:                 All right, that is it for The Stack. If you’d like to support the show and other shows we do at patreon.coms-

Pete:                Wait.

Alex:                 … What?

Pete:                Do you guys think this whole thing was worth it for that ending? You guys didn’t feel let down at all by the fact of like this fight wasn’t a fight, it was just a, “Can we make Apocalypse kneel? And then having Cyclops just ditch everyone because he wanted to go somewhere else.”?

Justin:              I liked it.

Alex:                 Yeah, I liked it too. I think there were enough big moments particularly in these last couple of issues that I really just enjoyed from an artistic, from a big action perspective, literally using the S.W.O.R.D. Space Station as a sword to pierce a wormhole and attack these evil armies. Just the huge armies attacking everybody, the X-Men jumping through directly at the screen, the fairy soldiers or whatever it was jumping through.

Justin:              The screen?

Alex:                 Good stuff. Just a lot of people coming from the sky and heading straight towards camera was a lot of fun.

Justin:              Yes, and it’s surprising. A lot of Hickman big storytelling, you can’t predict it. It’s sometimes a little weird and wooly, but it’s like in the end, it’s really well thought out and smart, and very difficult to predict, which I like in storytelling in general, especially comic book storytelling.

Alex:                 It’s also something that relatively speaking felt like a complete story, which I don’t think we’ve gotten in a really long time with events. It’s usually by the latter half, it’s all about setting up what’s next. And certainly we get a fair amount of setup, but this started with the story of Otherworld, ended with the story of Otherworld, and that’s what it was in between. It went on a bunch of side trips, but ultimately it all came together that way, and that is pleasing to me from a story perspective.

Justin:              It was pleasing, we say.

Alex:                 It was pleasing to be … If you’d like to support the show at We also do a live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 PM. Podcast ahead on YouTube. We would love to talk to you about X of Swords, that’s going to be our big topic of conversation. Over the next I would say-

Pete:                It’s 10 of swords, but there’s going to be no fighting. Oh, you’re going to love it. It’s going to be smart.

Alex:                 … There is a bunch of fighting.

Pete:                There’s going to be a lady who-

Alex:                 Wolverine cutting a man’s arm off. Really?

Pete:                … you get confused with the ice queen the whole time. But then it’s not her, even though it looks exactly like her, but ah, it’s going to be great.

Alex:                 Oh, I’m sorry. Are you being racist towards white, blonde women, Pete?

Pete:                Yes, Karen. I am.

Justin:              This took an odd turn at the end, just like the X of Swords.

Alex:                 There you go. iTunes, Android, Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice to subscribe and listen to the show. @comicbooklive on Twitter, for this podcast and many more. Until next time, checkout my mom’s taco dip.

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