The Stack: King In Black, Batman/Catwoman, And More

King in Black #1

On this week’s Stack we’ve got reviews for:

King in Black #1
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Ryan Stegman

Batman/Catwoman #1
DC Comics
Written by Tom King
Art by Clay Mann

Lumberjanes: End of Summer #1
Written by Shannon Waters & Kat Leyh
Layouts by Brooklyn Allen
Illustrated by Alexa Bosy & Kanesha C. Bryant

The Union #1
Written by Paul Grist
Pencils by Andrea Di Via w/Paul Grist

Justice League: Endless Winter #1
DC Comics
Written by Andy Lanning & Ron Marz
Art by Howard Porter

That Texas Blood #6
Image Comics
By Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips

Fantastic Four: Road Trip #1
Written by Christopher Cantwell
Art by Filipe Andrade

Unearth #8
Image Comics
Story by Cullen Bunn and Kyle Strahm
Art by Baldemar Rivas

Batman #104
DC Comics
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Ryan Benjamin & Danny Miki, Bengal & Guillem March

Backtrack #9
Oni Press
Written by Brian Joines
Art by Jake Elphick

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #1
Written by Jordan Blum & Patton Oswalt
Art by Scott Hepburn

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #20
BOOM! Studios
Written by Jordie Bellaire & Jeremy Lambert
Illustrated by Ramon Bachs

Far Sector #9
DC Comics
Written by N.K. Jemisen
Art by Jamal Campbell

Dryad #7
Oni Press
Written by Kurtis Wiebe
Illustrated by Justin Barcelo

Black Widow #4
Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Elena Casagrande and Jordie Bellaire

Strange Adventures #7
DC Comics
Written by Tom King
Art by Mitch Gerards and Evan “Doc” Shaner

Inkblot #4
Image Comics
Created by Emma Kubert & Rusty Gladd

Daredevil #25
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Marco Checchetto

The Boys: Dear Becky #7
Written by Garth Ennis
Illustrated by Russ Braun


This week’s show is sponsored by the Just Been Revoked podcast.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 in The Stack we talk about a bunch of big comic books that have come out right here at the beginning of December. Very exciting times to be alive in. Everybody is very happy, excited, doing a great job.

Justin:              We’re all doing a great job. Let’s take a second and chill.

Pete:                I don’t know. Let’s not pat ourselves on the back.

Alex:                 Pete, you’re doing a great job.

Pete:                No, don’t patronize me, all right? Fuck you.

Alex:                 No. Man, you are.

Justin:              Don’t patronize him.

Alex:                 Do you know who else is doing a great job? The King in Black. He’s really just really putting himself out there in the Marvel Universe, really inventing a bunch of stuff with his wet dragons, I like to call them.

Justin:              They are moist dragons.

Pete:                He’s not doing anything moist during-

Alex:                 King in Black#1 from Marvel written by Donny Cates, art by Ryan Stegman. This of course is the … I don’t know if it’s the final storyline, but it’s certainly the peak of everything that they’ve been building up over the past couple of years, through Venom and other storylines.

Pete:                … Venom.

Alex:                 As the King in Black, Knull, the god of the symbiotes invades earth. And man, it goes basically about as bad as things could go. And I don’t know that I have read a kickoff to an event where the heroes lose so thoroughly as they do in this issue, which in my mind was very impressive.

Justin:              Yeah, I agree. The way they go hard here. The Donny Cates goes hard with this story. It’s a ton of big emotional beats and then heroes just losing, every plan failing instantly. And setting up Knull as this like truly terrifying villain, despite the fact that he’s fighting with wet dragons.

Pete:                Yeah, what an entrance the King made here. I think it was a great start with the nicest building and everything that’s been going on. And then the twist where you think, “All right, he’s after Venom,” and it’s like, “No Venom’s kid,” and it’s like, “Oh, shit.”

Justin:              Oh, shit. Pete you’re riding with the King, is what you’re saying? You love the King and-

Pete:                Yeah, I’m riding with King.

Alex:                 Yeah, I got to be honest. Even though I’ve really enjoyed what Donny and Ryan had been doing on this title, I was a little trepidatious about this event just because Knull to be the design of it, it was like, “Ah, he was very big teeth.” I don’t like that. And the whole Venom thing I always feel reticent about in general just because Venom is not my favorite character, but I should have known better.

Pete:                Venom.

Alex:                 Venom.

Justin:              … You like a drier character like Sandman.

Alex:                 Yeah, like a nice dry character. Like a Sandman is more my style.

Justin:              Yes.

Alex:                 But I should have known better, because they’d been, like you said, Justin, they’ve been doing emotionally based work on this title throughout the entire time. This is based on Eddie Brock’s relationship with his son, that is the emotional crux of the issue, even though there’s a good Tony Stark stuff in here, there’s some good other character stuff in here. But it’s great. I am also fascinated to see what happens over the course of five issues because this is, like we said, as bad as it can get, and it seems like there’s four more issues where it’s only going to get worse.

Justin:              Yeah. What Donny Cates does a great job at is really including a bunch of other aspects of the Marvel Universe, like you were saying, Alex, and they feel very real. It feels very current. We get some X-Men in here and it feels like they just stepped out-

Pete:                Oh yeah, that was fun.

Justin:              … of the current X-Men books. It’s really good. And touching on continuity where all the characters know about what’s going on in their universe, which I think is rare in comics to have a real deep understanding of continuity for something that is a standalone event like this.

Pete:                I’m glad you brought that up, Justin, because I was very excited when I saw the X-Men show up and still be kind of like heroes. They’re not just island fucking. You know what I mean? They’re not just trading swords and half-assing a bunch of games, they’re actually still stepping up and being heroes.

Justin:              It would have been great if there was just a cutaway in this to a bunch of X-Men having sex on an island. I would have loved where they were like, “Wait, what did you say?”

Pete:                I would have lost it.

Alex:                 It’s weird that they saw that much black goo and do nothing. This is prime fucking material.

Justin:              “This is fucking material,” says Alex. A couple of follow-up questions I’m going to ask off-mike. Before we go too much further, I do think the fact that Pete and I are agreeing so hard on this book, there will be one book later on I predict where Pete and I will have a subtle disagreement.

Pete:                … Yeah, it will be very hard to tell.

Justin:              See if you can spot it.

Pete:                Yeah, it will be tough to tell.

Alex:                 Let’s wait and see. Next up, Batman/Catwoman #1 from DC Comics written by Tom King, art by Clay Mann. This is the continuation of Tom King’s abbreviated run on Batman, now focusing or continuing to focus on the Batman/Catwoman relationship. It’s a little hard to tell whether this is a direct continuation or they rejiggered it in any way to make a new title. But regardless, we’re jumping around in time periods here. Spoilers, we’re introducing the Phantasm from Mask of the Phantasm into the main Batman continuity.

Pete:                Yes.

Alex:                 That’s big stuff happens here. We talked about this a little on live show. I got to tell you, it took me a little while to hook into this because I could not remember the rhythm of the Batman book the way they did it. But there is a point, and this is a big spoiler, but the page, the reveal of the Joker about halfway, three quarters of the way through the issue was such a classic Clay Mann page. So terrifying that it immediately sucked me back in emotionally. And that was the point-

Pete:                You’re talking about-

Alex:                 … where I started to feel like, “Okay, I’m really on board with this book again.”

Pete:                … Yeah, but it wasn’t just regular Joker, that was Miami Vice Joker. Did you see the way the wind was taking his shirt and he had the over the kind of shoulder holsters rocking? Come on, that was like-

Alex:                 He could feel it coming in the air tonight, that’s all I’m saying.

Pete:                … Yeah, and that’s what I’m saying. People talking about three Jokers, there’s a fourth one and that’s Miami Vice Joker and he’s the best one.

Justin:              See, I would consider him more Miami-Dade County Retirement Home Joker. Sure.

Pete:                Oh wow, shots fired.

Alex:                 Trump voter Joker.

Justin:              Exactly, this dude votes Trump. Clay Mann’s art in this issue is so, so good. All of Tom King’s work I feel like is so writer-driven, but man, he works with such great artists, and this one, and this issue specifically I feel like is so, so good. And I love the pace and the way that he’s telling the story is really rooted in the romance.

Justin:              There’s so many big romantic splash panels in this, and it’s great, and it’s still setting up a bunch of mystery elements and great action. Just so much going on in a great way. And it’s romance, it’s sexy, it’s horrifying. And then the Phantasm reveal, it’s like … I feel like this book is just doing everything all at once in the best way.

Pete:                Yeah, I agree. I’m really just happy to have T King back on Batman.

Justin:              T King.

Pete:                I’m excited to see how this story unfolds. And I also was really impressed at how much was in this first issue. There was so much going on. But it was also cool the way kind of Nightwing gave us, instead of it being like flashbacks to see somebody’s story, to see kind of Nightwing telling the story of the Ghost-Maker was really kind of a cool discovery.

Alex:                 Ragnarok.

Pete:                Oh, my bad.

Alex:                 That’s Batman, this is Batman/Catwoman.

Pete:                Ah, my fault.

Alex:                 It’s okay.

Pete:                I’ll wait for it.

Justin:              Good idea.

Pete:                We talked a lot about the art. Just that first title page, really setting up the different cadence, the different kind of art that really focuses the story, I think it’s very interesting. And I’m very excited for Mask of the Phantasm, my favorite Batman movie of all times, so I’m very excited about this.

Alex:                 Not Batman Forever?

Pete:                No.

Alex:                 Hmm. All right. Let’s move on and talk about Lumberjanes: End of Summer #1 for Boom! Box, written by Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh, art layouts by Brooklyn Allen, illustrated by Alexa Bosy and Kanesha C. Bryant. I figured this was really worth talking about because of the last issue of Lumberjanes, a book that we’ve only sporadically reviewed, and I’ve always appreciated, but always personally had a little bit of a hard time hooking into. What did you think about this issue, and how do you think about it as a wrap-up to the Lumberjanes saga?

Pete:                I was really impressed with this issue. I thought they really did a great job of wrapping things up. But also we see so many different ways of characters struggling with the, “I don’t want to kill. This person should die, but why is it on me?” I felt like this was kind of handled in an interesting way. And the art does a great job of really telling this story. The art is so good. There’s a ton of action, but it’s a little cartoony to give it that heart that the kind of story has.

Pete:                I just really impressed with the characterizations. And it’s a lot of over the top fun, but also it’s got a lot of deeper meaning stuff going on. And yeah, I mean, just, it goes back and forth between these absolutely hideous, evil looking things and these adorable characters, and they all fit into the same realm. Lumberjanes is a great read, it’s really creative. I feel like there’s something for everybody. This is a good book.

Justin:              Yeah, it’s very fun. It dips into some wild sort of fantasy realms in a series of different ways. And I’m sort of in the Alexa’s boat where I’m like, “Oh, right. Oh, yes. Okay.” And then the way it’s sort of, to Pete’s point, is sort of everything at once. Sometimes it’s a little flashy, but it is also very fun and a great read.

Alex:                 I agree. And I appreciate the fact that it exists, even if I don’t quite get it all the time, because I know so many people who love this book so much. I believe it’s also being adapted into an animated series by Noelle Stevenson who also did the She-Ra series that was phenomenal, so I’m very excited to see that. Even if I don’t quite get the comic, I’m glad it exists, and I’m excited that it wrapped up on its own terms.

Alex:                 Next up, The Union #1 from Marvel, written by Paul Grist, pencils by Andrea Di Vito with Paul Grist. This is a bunch of British superheroes getting together and then ultimately crashing straight into the King in Black event. This reminded me a lot or felt a lot to me like a Garth Ennis book that was not written by Garth Ennis. And I made that complimentarily. What did you guys think about this one?

Justin:              Yeah, this reminded me of, and I feel like maybe I made this comparison already recently, of the Ultraverse book, The Exiles. Do you remember that back in the day, where a team of superheroes gets just straight up murdered in the first issue and then reforms in a sort of different way? And this has that same vibe of like a doomed team. And the fact that it’s crashing into a big event makes me wonder what this book actually means. It’s a fun book that’s a good story. I like the characters. Union Jack is very cool. And there’s a little bit of a mystery here. I was surprised by how much I liked this in relation to what kind of book it is.

Pete:                Yeah, I agree with Justin, this is a fun book. Some great action, some cool stuff is happening and it ties in. Not like a must read for everything that’s going on, but very cool kind of dealing with stuff kind of from the fallout of the X of Swords or 10 of Swords.

Alex:                 Wait, what? How is this a fallout of 10 of Swords?

Pete:                Because of the Britain, the choosing of the kind of who’s going to be the next kind of-

Alex:                 It’s a different character. It’s a different character, Pete.

Pete:                … Cool.

Justin:              You’re killing his vibes.

Pete:                I’m killing it today.

Alex:                 You’re doing a great job. Yeah, it is interesting that it ties in, particularly given we had Dennis Hallum on the live show last week, I think at this point. And he was talking about how Spider-Woman was stuck in the Spider-Verse event, and I couldn’t help but think about this the entire time where I was like, “You’re launching a book, but it ties into King of Black, kind of, but not really.”

Alex:                 But it was cheeky enough and sort of skewering of superheroes enough that I’m intrigued to check out a second issue of this. Next one, Justice League: Endless Winter #1 from DC Comics written by Andy Lanning and Ron Marz, art by Howard Porter.

Alex:                 A bunch of seasoned vets getting together for a Justice League event, where as you could probably tell from the title they fight a frost giant and the entire world is plunged into non-stop winter. I liked this kickoff a lot more than I thought I would, and I think that is all to the fact that Andy Lanning, Ron Marz and Howard Porter all know what they’re doing around a superhero event.

Justin:              Yeah, I agree completely. There’s a bunch of stuff in here where they’re like, “How do you really manage your work-life balance?”

Alex:                 Yeah, that was weird where the flashing Green Lantern and like, “Work-life balance is a hard thing, right?” In the middle of this event, we got time to talk about it.

Justin:              But I appreciated it. It felt like a Marvel book featuring DC heroes in a good way. And I got to the end and I was like, “Oh, this is an event. Right. Where is this going to go?” Because to me it felt a little bit like a one-shot, like a classic DC one-shot for the holiday season. And I do think that DC goes to the whole the earth is freezing a lot, where the sun gets extinguished, was a few years ago, so I was like, “Oh yeah.” But it was a good read for this again.

Alex:                 I mean, I don’t want to jump on your spot and everything, but the whole sun gets extinguish thing was several decades ago.

Justin:              That was a long time ago, but I feel like there was another thing after that. There was like-

Pete:                Stop not flexing on us. Jesus Christ.

Alex:                 Yeah, that’s true. Let’s … Oh, go ahead, Pete.

Pete:                I was just going to say I really loved the last page. I think this does a good job of really getting you excited for more. And yeah, the kind of reveals of who else is in this is very exciting.

Alex:                 Also fun stuff with like Secret Six types super villains that could feel disposable in terms of like they could have brought in the Royal Flush Gang and just have them do their thing where they get beat up in the Justice League, but more fun that. I had a good time reading this comic book, much more fun than I thought I would have. What happens when a robotic overlord imprisons a rant god and a humble narcissist?

Alex:                 You get this week’s sponsor of the Comic Book Club, The Just Been Revoked Podcast. Join Chris G, Tom Legaci 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. Looking for a film podcast that has fun and doesn’t take things too seriously, then check them out at

Alex:                 Next up, That Texas Blood, excuse me, #6 from Image Comics, by Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips. This is the end of the first arc. It is as bloody and as sad as you might expect. I really liked how this tied up. How did you guys feel?

Pete:                I’ve really been loving this book, but they’ve been giving us like little bits. It was crazy to get so much in this issue. I almost felt like, “Whoa, this is too much information,” because it’s been so little, but now we really kind of get the who done it kind of stuff behind it. So it was a little bit of a shell shock for that. But you can’t say enough about the art and writing, this continues to be a really great series. I’m excited to see where it goes.

Justin:              … Yeah, I agree. This is good. It feels very … I mean, there’s a bunch of sort of mentions of this in the back matter. It feels very of the place of Texas where the story takes place. It’s right in the title. And it’s just a series of sort of tragic mistakes by so many different people. A lot of the characters feel very real, there’s some nice emotional moments here. It’s a great first start.

Alex:                 Very good stuff. Either pick up the individual issues or pick up the collection when it comes out. And it should be back next year. I’m very excited and intrigued to see how they continue it, particularly given Chris Condon told us this was initially a movie script that now he is doing into, not an ongoing, but at least continuing it for a little while, so that will be curious to see. Next up, let’s talk about my favorite book of the week, Pete. Fantastic Four: Road Trip #1-

Pete:                Come on.

Justin:              Yes.

Pete:                You are not serious.

Alex:                 … from Marvel. I’m 100% serious.

Pete:                This was-

Alex:                 Written by Christopher Cantwell, art by Filipe Andrade. This is a one-shot that shows the immortal Hulkazation, I think, of … Hulkamania if you will-

Justin:              Yeah, [crosstalk 00:18:01]

Alex:                 … of the Marvel Universe, as we get a absolutely horrific story involving the Fantastic Four taking a road trip to the Grand Canyon of the [crosstalk 00:18:09] title gone horribly wrong. They literally start falling apart. Love the metaphor here, love the art. I screamed out loud several times reading this book, it was so horrific, but great. Just fun to read, horror story involving with Fantastic Four like nothing that I had read before. So exciting.

Justin:              This was also one of my favorite books of the week. Agree with everything you’re saying, like we get to see all of the tropes of the Fantastic Four used against them in the best way, especially Read. The art was fantastic. It’s truly I was worried for the gang here. The cover I-

Alex:                 This is-

Justin:              … was like, “Oh, that’s a fun sort of horror cover.” And then you read the book and it’s like, “Holy shit, this is way more horrifying than you ever saw it before.” It was great.

Pete:                … This is everything I hate about the Fantastic Four all in one issue. The things that happen to our characters are just awful to watch.

Justin:              No, they really come together as a family to save the day.

Pete:                They literally like glue together, and it’s creepy. I don’t want to see two kids melting into each other, that’s so creepy on so many levels.

Alex:                 … My kids do that all the time. You don’t have kids, you don’t understand.

Pete:                Nobody asked you about your goddamn kids, all right?

Alex:                 They do that, and I respect them and their choices.

Pete:                Wow. That’s good for you.

Justin:              All right, unmelt, it’s time for bed. You sleep in separate beds.

Pete:                Now, and then it’s just Reed Richards is being a fucking awful father, an awful husband, the shit is just ridiculous. At one point even as soon as like, “Yeah, you’re a horrible person. I’m going to go do the good things in life while you sit there by yourself just ignoring your family and making something worse.” Just, ah, this issue drove me nuts because the art amplified how much I don’t like this family in the way they’re kind of put together in all the wrong ways. And it was just not only a stressful read, but horrifying. Don’t pick up this book. Don’t encourage this shit.

Justin:              You hate how this family is put together?

Pete:                I hate the fact that you have-

Justin:              They’re the first family of the Marvel Universe.

Pete:                … you have someone who’s very smart, but then treats his family like shit. And then you’ve got a beautiful person in Sue Storm, who’s ignored mostly by her husband and post aside. And then you’ve got-

Alex:                 Okay. I see where this is coming from. You think you could be a better husband to Sue Storm than Reed Richards.

Pete:                No, I’m not trying to-

Alex:                 And you want to marry Sue Storm.

Justin:              Exactly.

Pete:                … No, that’s not … Don’t try to shrink me you fucking piece of shit.

Justin:              Don’t shrink me. Let me say this, Pete, let me put it in this perspective. Don’t you think that to your cat you’re the Reed Richards who’s too busy recording his podcasts to spend time with the cat, and maybe the cat needs a little bit more attention? How does it feel to be the Reed Richards of your cat?

Alex:                 It is kind of interesting not to backup Justin’s point, but your goopy arm is in a bucket right now, Pete. What do you have to say about that?

Pete:                I think you guys are assholes and I can’t believe I’ve done a show with you for this many years. That’s what I have to say there.

Justin:              We’re the first family of the Comic Book Club Universe.

Alex:                 I’m the Valeria.

Justin:              Oh, interesting choice.

Pete:                Wow.

Alex:                 Great book, definitely pick it up. Next up, Unearth #8 from Image Comics, story by Cullen and Kyle Strahm, art by Baldemar Rivas. I think we talked about the first issue of this which was like, “Ooh, going into cave and other monsters of the cave,” it’s evolved since then.

Justin:              Yes. There’s a lot of different things happening in this book, really like the art. It’s just like a series of vignettes from a horror TV show or like an outer limits type TV show.

Alex:                 Yeah, it feels very like Clive Barker Books of Blood to me.

Justin:              Yeah. But it’s good, I’m into it.

Pete:                Yeah, it’s scary. The arts, the real hero, very cool issue, kind of sets things up. I thought it was solid.

Alex:                 All right. Let’s move on to a book with the thing that happened that Pete mentioned earlier, Batman 104 from DC Comics written by James Tynion IV, art by Ryan Benjamin and Danny Miki, Bengal and Guillem March. This is the book where Nightwing fills in Bad Girl about everything that’s been going on with Ghost-Maker. Pete, what did you think about this one?

Pete:                Yes, thank you. Sorry about earlier, but I thought it was-

Alex:                 No, it’s all good. It’s funny we talked about in the live show, how do you keep all the books straight, sometimes it’s hard.

Justin:              Sometimes we don’t.

Pete:                … Sometimes we don’t. Yeah. Sometimes you think you’re talking about one book, but you’re actually talking about another. But yeah, like I had mentioned, I thought it was really cool the way we kind of got Ghost-Makers backstory from the perspective of Nightwing. Also really cool, kind of scary moment where Batman wakes up in Arkham.

Pete:                And I love the kind of like moment where they’re like, “The plants told us …” I loved that. I love the Bad Girl’s joke. Yeah, and I also liked this kind of trap. Our heroes get stuck in the trap and you’re like, “Ergh,” but this is very interesting to see how this is going to work between Clownhunter and Harley Quinn, and how this is all going to kind of go down. But yeah, great issue of Batman, amazing art. This whole kind of Ghost-Maker thing is very interesting.

Justin:              I have a question for you, Pete. There are so many different artists in this issue, does that bother you? That often bothers you when a single issue has multiple artists.

Pete:                Yeah, but when they’re woven into the story in a way where it’s like if you’re kind of showing something that’s back in time or whatever, I think it can work if it’s done well and it doesn’t feel too jarring.

Justin:              I agree with you. And it’s done really well here, because I do think it works. And when I read the number of artists on the page, on the title page, I was like, “Huh.” And then it really flowed nicely, which is weird because these artists are pretty distinct when stylistically. But I thought it really worked. And I agree, this book is fun.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 Good stuff. Next up, Backtrack #9 from Oni Press, written by Brian Joines, art by Jake Elphick. We’re getting towards the end here, I believe this is the penal explanation of the book. If you haven’t been picking it up, it is a car race through time here. We’re leaving pirate times and finally getting some answers about what’s been going on in the back. Definitely a exposition issue, but I think it was well done and tied into the characters. I continue to enjoy this book. This is going very well in my mind. How did you guys feel?

Pete:                Yeah, I really am impressed because a lot of times, sometimes I feel like when characters are standing around talking about their feelings and past and stuff, it can get a little not enjoyable, but this has done really well. And I really liked where we have a character kind of talk about the stuff that she’s going through and she’s like, “You know what? I’m going to stay here. I’m going to live the life that I want to lead.” And I thought that was really cool, and I thought this issue ended really well. I’m very excited to see how this all wraps up. So far this has been a really fun book.

Justin:              Yeah. I mean, every issue of this, I feel like this feels like a movie, it feels like sort of a sci-fi Fast & the Furious just ready to be made and-

Pete:                Too fast.

Justin:              … Too fast.

Pete:                [inaudible 00:25:59]

Justin:              Oh, interesting. Jump right to the sequel. That’s the move, it’s to make the sequel first.

Pete:                First. Yeah, exactly.

Justin:              But yeah, this feels ready-made for that.

Alex:                 I 100% agree. Let’s move on to something that is going to be a TV show, kind of. M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #1 for Marvel, written by Jordan Blum and Patton Oswalt.

Pete:                Head Games.

Alex:                 Art by Scott Hepburn. This is very clearly setting up the new M.O.D.O.K. show that’s going to be coming to Hulu with Patton Oswalt doing the voice of M.O.D.O.K. I don’t know how much it ties into that necessarily, but this is a fun lack with MODOK. He’s having some weird memories that are popping up in him, and he is fighting with the rest of A.I.M. As the same time as I say it’s a fun lack, much more serious than I expected personally.

Justin:              Yeah, I liked that M.O.D.O.K. is really given some emotional underpinnings in this, and he’s … The sort of premises that he’s struggling with some memories, because he has a bunch of different memories from all the different lives that he’s had because he’s a genetically engineered being. And there’s this one where he seemed to be a happy family man, and I’m curious where that’s going to go. I really liked that sort of heartfelt background to this, and it feels like M.O.D.O.K., you have sympathy for him and he’s trying to just his shit figure out.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, first off the title made me think there was going to be maybe some Locke & Key tie in, but that didn’t happen so I was a little disappointed. But I thought this was fun. I really liked the kind of M.O.D.O.K. falling into an armory where he gets to kind of play with all the cool, that was really fun. But because we see Patton Oswalt’s name on it, I wanted it to be funnier, I wanted it to be heavier on the jokes. It was a good story, so maybe I kind of put that on that too much. But yeah, I thought it was good.

Alex:                 I bet Patton Oswalt listens to this podcast and says, “I wish Pete was funnier and more on jokes.”

Pete:                He could say that and that would be fair. That man is a professional comedian.

Justin:              But you would say, “I’m a journalist and I don’t … I’m not some sort of clown.”

Pete:                No, I would never, never say that.

Justin:              Huh.

Alex:                 You write an editorial every week for the New York Times, Pete. What are you talking about?

Pete:                It still doesn’t count.

Alex:                 All right, fair enough.

Justin:              Yeah, when people write a letter to the editor of the New York Times, Pete’s the one that reads it.

Alex:                 Buffy the vampire Slayer from Boom! Studios, written by Jordie Bellaire and Jeremy Lambert, illustrated by Ramon Bachs. I just realized I didn’t mention the number of the issue here.

Pete:                20.

Justin:              20.

Alex:                 20. Thank you very much. There you go. But in this issue, the Scooby Gang is dealing with multiple new slayers, Xander who is a vampire and lots of other things going on. We’ve checked in on this book now and again. Justin, I know you’ve been a little back and forth on it. So what do you think about this one and where we are at now?

Justin:              I do think I’m sort of on the downside of it a little bit. I like when they get away from the sort of continuity a little bit in a deliberate way, and this feels a little like all over the place to me. But again, I’m not a crazy Buffy head that is like, “I got to know what happens,” I just want to read a fun story and this feels like it’s a little lost in the middle.

Pete:                Yeah, I agree. I’m not sure if it’s in between seasons or trying to touch on something and be its own thing. I kind of was hoping we’d be past this little bit, but I feel like it’s interfering with the storytelling and I just kind of want to get this thing off and running. It feels like a lot of standing around talking and then people kiss, and I’m like, “Who are these people? What is happening?” Yeah.

Alex:                 It sounds like I liked it a little bit more than you guys. Particularly I think what they’re doing with Xander is interesting, turning him into a vampire. The emotional step between him and Willow is really nice. Also the twist at the end is cool, there’s a new villain that I don’t think we’ve seen before. That’s pretty interesting, given a motivation that is very different than we’ve seen on the TV show, which is good.

Alex:                 The one downside to your point is there are a lot of slayers going on at this point, which potentially needs to downsize. But maybe they’re being set up as cannon fodder, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Next up, Far Sector #9 from DC Comics, written by N.K. Jemisin and art by Jamal Campbell, AKA the best Green Lantern title going on.

Pete:                Hell, yeah.

Alex:                 We have kind of wrapped up the first mystery of the book or at least part of it and are moving on to a new mystery evolving the digital world that our Green Lantern is finding out more about. Pete, what’s going on?

Pete:                Well, I just wanted to say I love this book, but one of the negative things I have to say about this is I was really grossed out by this digital food. If this is what’s going to happen in the future where people are eating food digitally and not real food, I’m not going to fucking do it. All right? I’m not going to be a part of your fucking evil future with your fucking robots running shit. Go fuck yourself. That was really upsetting to watch that happen. Other than that though-

Justin:              Oh, sorry, Pete. We’re actually we’re downloading lunch today. If you’re not going to have any, then I guess you just won’t get to eat anything.

Pete:                … Yeah, because you’re-

Alex:                 Yeah, I downloaded you a cobb.

Pete:                … Yeah, well, you can fuck your cobb salad.

Alex:                 All right.

Justin:              Actually don’t worry too hard about it, Pete, because I feel like subway meatball sandwiches will be one of the last downloaded foods.

Alex:                 I will say I loved the joke that they’ve created downloadable food that feels like food and stimulates your taste and so it tastes like food.

Pete:                Awful.

Alex:                 But it tastes terrible because it’s made by robots that don’t know what things taste like. So fun.

Pete:                No, it’s not fun. This is where we’re headed and it’s awful.

Justin:              Well, we’re a couple of beats away from that, I think, as a culture, as a people. But I think that example is so indicative of just how imaginative the series is, and how there’s so many great details, and the world itself is so fully understood by the writer and the artist that it makes for just such a great read. Especially, this issue goes off on a totally new place that we don’t-

Pete:                Yeah, it’s a new read, it’s very exciting, a crazy last page. I can’t say enough about the art, it’s the real hero of this. And the story just keeps getting better. It doesn’t kind of set in a pattern and stay there, it keeps exploring it, it’s as creative as it looks. I’m just constantly impressed by this. It was great.

Justin:              … It reminds me a little bit of the comic book Die, the Kieron Gillen book in a good way. So if you’re a fan of that book and aren’t reading this, which seems crazy, you should come check it out.

Pete:                Yeah, read more comics.

Alex:                 Let’s move on to another fantasy sci-fi book, Dryad #7 from Oni Press, written by Kurtis Wiebe, illustrated by Justin Barcelo. This is dealing with the massive twist from the last issue, turn away if you don’t want to know, that the kids that we’ve been following the entire time are in fact adopted, is to put it lightly. Basically they were discovered in tubes by their parents and then speared away from there. They’re dealing with that ramification. The parents are dealing with the fallout as well. In particular what I loved about this issue is the kids finally embracing and moving on with their lives and finding a fun time in the cyberpunk city. I thought-

Justin:              Finding other teens.

Alex:                 … And finding other teens. Just a fun montage sequence that I enjoyed quite a bit.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, it’s tough to find out you’re a tube kid, that’s got to be tough. I felt like they handled it well. But yeah, this continues to be like every time you get an issue of this book, you have no idea where it’s going to go, what it’s going to do, it’s very creative. The storytelling is very interesting and fresh. Yeah, this continues to surprise in a good way.

Justin:              Yeah, I liked this book a lot too. It’s a common, it’s almost a cliche at this point that, oh, science and magic, they’re the same thing, man, just different energies man. And-

Pete:                Yeah, everybody knows that, man.

Justin:              … I feel like it’s all tubes, man. Everything is a tube. Your body is a tube.

Pete:                Sweeping tubes earlier, man?

Justin:              A sub is just a tube. A beer can is a tube with beer in it that you open on one end and drink out of the inner tube of the outer tube.

Pete:                What?

Justin:              So anyway, what was I talking about? No.

Pete:                Dryad #7.

Justin:              Yes. No, this book really walks the walk of science and magic being the same thing in a way that other books sort of tell, but don’t show. And this book really feels like one of the first books I’ve read where science and magic are the same thing, and these characters are trying to use them and control those two, those singular forms of energy and failing a lot.

Alex:                 Yeah. Great stuff, definitely pick up this book. Next up, Black Widow #4 from Marvel, written by Kelly Thompson, art by Elena Casagrande and Jordie Bellaire. This title has been phenomenal from the get-go.

Justin:              So good.

Alex:                 … As Black Widow had her memory wiped, we finally find out exactly what happened in the past in this issue. She’s been captured by Arcade working for shadowy cabal of Black Widow’s enemies, given a husband, given a baby. And this issue she’s finally trying to take it all back. As usual, Kelly Thompson’s book equal mounts of characterization and absolute heartbreak by the end. This has been a Banner run on Black Widow and I cannot get enough.

Justin:              It’s a Bruce Banner run and I-

Alex:                 Yes.

Pete:                Come on.

Justin:              … I agree, this is my other favorite book of the week. So good. The art’s fantastic. The covers by Adam Hughes, both the cover of this issue and the next issue cover, I was blown away by. And yeah, the story is just excellent. It’s-

Pete:                I mean, this is just-

Justin:              … You really feel for the characters.

Pete:                … It’s just Marvel being smart, like, “Okay, we got Black Widow movie coming out, let’s put some great talent on the Black Widow book and get people excited.” It’s just a phenomenal story. The art’s unbelievable, storytelling is fantastic. It’s really great.

Alex:                 Such a good book. Next up, Strange Adventures #7 from DC Comics, written by Tom King, art by Mitch Gerads and Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner. In this issue, we’re dealing with a little bit of the fallout that it turns out that Adam Strange’s wife might not actually be the bad guy of the story as we have suspected for most of this time. It turns out it might actually be Adam Strange himself.

Alex:                 And in this issue, we get the usual dual timelines for the book. We see Adam Strange being tortured by an agent of the Pykkts. And in the present he reveals that he’s made some mistakes, but maybe doesn’t reveal all his mistakes. Man, again, such a great issue, gorgeous art throughout, but it really changes a lot what I personally thought about what was going on in this series. And like a lot of Tom King’s stuff, it makes me feel like, “Okay, I’ve got to have to read this and then go back and read the entire thing again to really get what has been going on.”

Pete:                You got-

Justin:              Yeah, this is my other favorite book, I think. I feel like this issue really sort of pops the cork on the series, I think. In a way, Tom King is often … You don’t quite know what sort of emotional or psychological area he’s exploring for a bit, it’s like, “Oh, this person is dealing with some sort of trauma.” This gets compared to Mister Miracle a lot, where Mister Miracle was sort of depressed, but his adventures gave him the next emotional truth that he needed.

Justin:              And it feels like this is almost the opposite where Adam Strange has been so hardened by his adventures that he may have become a villain. And I think it’s about trauma, it’s about what it’s like to actually be in war. This feels like it takes some of the themes from Heroes in Crisis and maybe uses them in an easier to deploy way, a more clean way as opposed to that book which a lot of people criticized for being a little obvious, I guess.

Pete:                … Yeah. I mean, a lot of crazy things happen in this issue. You want to talk about the tubes, this gets real trippy in this issue. And-

Alex:                 I would love to talk about tubes. Yeah, let’s do it.

Pete:                … Well, make sure they’re milky. If you’re going to do it, make it a milky tube. But yeah, the Batman, I don’t care, the tyranny line was unbelievable.

Justin:              Are you talking about an ice cream cone? The milky tube?

Pete:                No, I’m not talking about an ice cream cone.

Justin:              Rocket pop.

Pete:                No. And I’m not talking about Choco Taco either, just to cut you off there.

Justin:              But yeah-

Pete:                Are you talking about Choco Taco … Oh, yeah. Got you.

Justin:              … But yeah, there’s a lot of snapping necks in this issue, which I appreciated, a lot of action that we finally kind of get some information that really turns the story on its head, if you will. That’s a snap a neck joke. This continues to be weird in all the right ways and keeps you wanting more, that freaking T. King, I tell you.

Alex:                 T. King. “Spill your tea, King,” that’s what I always say. Next up, Inkblot #4 from Image Comics, created by Emma Kubert and Rusty Gladd. I got to say, I’ve been warming to this book after not initially liking it that much. Love the art. Thought that the character design of the cat was great. But understanding that each issue is kind of its own adventure involving the cat has made me appreciate the book more. And in this one, a bunch of dudes are fighting as fags, I guess. But it’s fun. It has a nice, weird light tone throughout. And I know it took me four issues to come around, but I’m enjoying quite a bit more.

Pete:                Wow, that’s funny because it’s like the reveal on this was kind of almost a letdown for me because it was like, we kind of got a little bit more of what the cat stealer is in this issue. And I liked it kind of being its own thing, so I was almost a little disappointed when it made a little sense, so that’s funny that it got better for you. But yeah, the art is unbelievable. The cat is just super cute and fun to watch go on adventures.

Justin:              Pete, do you think, and I’m theorizing about your cat a lot, but do you think that this is what … When you’re ignoring your cat and being like a bad cat husband-

Pete:                First off, how dare you? I am a fantastic cat husband.

Justin:              … No, you’re being the Reed Richards. Your cat looks over at you and is like, “Oh, there he goes again with his podcasting experiments, trying to solve the podcasting mysteries.”

Alex:                 His goopy arm is in a bucket, as usual.

Justin:              His arm in a bucket. And then your cat travels through time and encounters different adventures of their own.

Pete:                It would be quite amazing. I mean, it would explain why my cat is so tired all the time.

Justin:              There you go. I like this book as well.

Alex:                 Great. Moving on to Daredevil #25 from Marvel, written by Chip Zdarsky and art by Marco Checchetto. Daredevil is in prison and Elektra is not happy about it. We’re kicking off the next arc here as Elektra has a plan of her own of course as to what she needs Daredevil for. Big stuff goes down here. Pete, I know you were a little mixed about the last issue, how did you feel about this one?

Pete:                I like this. I really like getting the kind of Elektra Natchios side of things and like … Sometimes when she’s written, it feels like it’s not a real person, but I kind of liked this perspective in her trying to be Daredevil for Daredevil. I thought that a was very cool take. I mean, of course the art’s unbelievable, but I’m really getting into Daredevil more, and I’m hoping Chip does Foggy right.

Justin:              Foggy seems to be losing his spot, and I think the sun is finally coming up and drying up the fog, which I’m fine with.

Pete:                No.

Justin:              Marco Checchetto’s art is excellent. You got that wild Elektra hair. This lady’s hair is going every which way.

Pete:                Yeah.

Justin:              She’s got zero-G hair. It’s a lot of flyaways, which she needs some Pantene Pro V. This podcast, as always, is brought to you by Pantene Pro V.

Alex:                 By Pantene Pro V.

Pete:                Wow, dude.

Alex:                 You got flyaways, Pantene Pro V.

Justin:              What I give Chip Zdarsky credit for with the writing of this book is moving past the parts we’ve sort of done a bunch before. Like Daredevil putting himself in jail and going into court and all that, we’ve seen that a lot in the past couple 15 years say. So he sort of moves past it and Daredevil is in jail, leaving Elektra on the streets to become sort of a new Daredevil, and setting up this new sort of hand mystery, getting back with Stick. There’s a [crosstalk 00:43:47]

Pete:                Yeah, the Stick comeback.

Justin:              This is a lot of fun. Great pivots, and a book I’ve really been enjoying lately.

Alex:                 Last but not least let’s talk about The Boys: Dear Becky #7 from Dynamite, written by Garth Ennis, illustrated by Russ Braun. This is the last issue of this new The Boys series focusing on Wee Hughie as he finds out an unknown tale of Butcher’s past, specifically the death of Becky, his wife, as you could probably figure it out, and how he dealt with that and how he became the Butcher that we know when The Boy starts. What did you think about this wrap up here?

Pete:                It’s an interesting take on Thanksgiving.

Justin:              Yeah.

Pete:                Really kind of like I know I’m not the only one who’s kind of felt that way of like you just wish you could take an axe to a table full of people you don’t like. But I think The Boys does a great job of giving you a little bit of heart and then fucking around and being insane. And Garth Ennis is twisted in all the right ways, and this is kind of a crazy fun read.

Justin:              That’s a life motto I think we all stick by, a little bit of heart and fucking around. All right, Pete? It was very chatty. I was surprised by how much of this book was about exploring the backstory of Butcher in a way that didn’t feel … Maybe watching the TV show has sort of tried this territory already that we’re covering here. Not necessarily in the content, but in the performances and the way they sort of play these roles, that I wasn’t surprised by but I love the information in it. I wanted a little bit more out of just the storytelling in general, I wanted more to happen.

Alex:                 Yeah, I could see that. I think as usual with Garth Edison stuff, he writes great dialogue, he does good characters. I don’t think this takes away from The Boys in any way. It’s not one of those sequels, prequels, whatever that feels like, “Ah, why did you go back to the [inaudible 00:45:53]?” It’s something that if I read through The Boys I would be happy to read this volume as well.

Alex:                 And in fact, it might read better as a complete story verses in the individual issues. And Russ Braun’s art is very good, it fits in well with Derek Robinson’s art. So that was nice to see. All in all I think this was a solid series. To your point, not 100% necessary with The Boys, but it doesn’t take away from it either.

Justin:              Indeed.

Pete:                Agreed.

Alex:                 All right. We’re all-

Justin:              Agreed. Indeed. Agreed, agreed, indeed.

Alex:                 … Agreed. Indeed. Agreed, agreed, indeed. And if you want to hear more of this song that we’re singing-

Pete:                No.

Alex:                 …

Pete:                Don’t.

Alex:                 … to support the show and other shows we do. We also do a live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 PM at Crowdcast in YouTube. Come hang out, we’ll chat with you about comic books. 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, this has been Comic Book Club, goodbye.

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