It’s a big review Stack podcast this week as we discuss:
Star Wars: The High Republic #1
Written by Cavan Scott
Art by Ario Anindito
Dark Nights Death Metal #7
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo
With Yanick Paquette and Bryan Hitch
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Geoff Shaw
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Esad Ribić
Future State: The Next Batman #1
Written by John Ridley, Brandon Thomas, Paul Jenkins
Art by Nick Derington, Sumit Kumar, Jack Herbert
Future State: Superman of Metropolis #1
Written by Sean Lewis, Brandon Easton
Art by John Timms, Valentine de Landro, Cully Hamner, Michael Avon Oeming
Future State: Swamp Thing #1
Written by Ram V
Art by Mike Perkins
Future State: The Flash #1
Written by Brandon Vietti
Art by Dale Eaglesham
Future State: Wonder Woman #1
Written and art by Jöelle Jones
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Future State: Harley Quinn #1
Written by Stephanie Phillips
Art by Simone Dimeo
The Amazing Spider-Man #56
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Mark Bagley
The Last Witch #1
Written by Conor McCreery
Illustrated by V.V. Glass
Generations Shattered #1
Written by Dan Jurgens, Andy Schmidt and Robert Venditti
Art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Scott Hanna, Ferbabdo Pasarin, Oclair Albert, Aaron Lopestri, Matt Ryan, Emanuela Luppacchino, Wade Von Grawbadger, Bernard Chang, Yanick Paquette, Kevin Nowlan, Dan Jurgens, Klaus Janson, Paul Pelletier, Sandra Hope, John Romita Jr., Danny Miki, Doug Braithwaite, Rags Morales and Mike Perkins
Written by Brian Joines
Illustrated by Jack Elphick
Return of the Valkyries #1
Written by Jason Aaron & Torunn Grønbekk
Art by Nina Vakueva
Getting It Together #4
Co-written by Sina Grace & Omar Spahi
Art by Jenny D. Fine & Sina Grace
The Vain #4
Written by Eliot Rahal
Illustrated by Emily Pearson
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Ivan Coello
Created by Emma Kubert & Rusty Gladd
This week’s episode is sponsored by Shape & Foster. Visit www.shapeandfoster.com for your free 14-day trial.
Full Episode Transcript:
Alex: What is up everybody? Welcome to The Stack. I’m Alex.
Justin: I’m Justin.
Pete: I’m Pete. What it is.
Justin: What it is, he says.
Alex: What it is.
Justin: T I Z.
Alex: On The Stack, we talk about a bunch of comics that have come out this week. Lots of big stuff here. We’re going to have a big chunk in the middle to hold that all we’ll get to in a moment, but first, let’s talk a bit… A big kickoff that happened this week. Star Wars: The High Republic #1 from Marvel, written by Cavan Scott, art by Ariel Anandito. This is a comic, but this is also a megastory that is going to be told over comics, books, games, probably TV shows. I don’t know what else, but it’s all set at the height of the Jedi. They’re facing down a new threat. This is the first salvo hero. I believe the first two things that were released were this comic book today and, yesterday, Charles Sol, comic book writer, wrote a book called Star Wars: Light of the Jedi that touches on a lot of the same plot lines.
Alex: This is a big deal. This is [crosstalk 00:02:08] part of it again.
Pete: He also writes really good novels, okay? He’s not just a comic book writer, okay?
Alex: No, this is a novel that he wrote, that I was mentioning, Pete.
Pete: Yeah. Oh. I thought you tried to just pigeon-hole him as only a comic book writer.
Alex: No, I’m just trying to pigeon-hole him as a lawyer.
Justin: Pete hates pigeons, and he hates the holes that they live in.
Pete: You’re god damned right, I do.
Justin: He’s coming for you.
Alex: The thing that I’m curious about with this book is, does it work, first of all, as its own comic book, as its own thing? What do you think about it as part of this Star Wars: The High Republic megastory?
Pete: I just have a question real quick. The lizard guy with one arm, that’s not the guy from the bar who loses an arm?
Pete: Okay. Just making sure.
Justin: That would be a crazy coincidence.
Pete: Well, that’s the thing. It’s a lizard guy with one arm. I mean, I don’t know.
Justin: This takes place before that.
Alex: No, this takes place, yeah, hundreds of years before, I believe.
Pete: Oh, okay. All right. Just checking. Just making sure.
Justin: Let me throw out, I love just seeing the timeline infographic they did for the cover.
Alex: Oh, yeah.
Justin: That’s just fun. It’s just fun to see all those things and be like, “Oh, look at all the good stuff, and then look at all the bad stuff,” all on one page.
Alex: I stopped reading there, so I think we can move on to the next title. No, I actually like this. I was a little trepidatious, frankly, going into here. I think, sometimes, it’s a mixed bag with Star Wars books, particularly when you’re not focusing on the main characters that have an established voice, but I think this new character that we’re following, this young Jedi, this Padawan, who goes on a mission, gets elevated, spoiler, to the level of Jedi knight, gives you a really good setup for the stakes and everything that’s going on. There’s clearly some danger coming her way, but I enjoyed it. I thought it was a fun Star Wars book, independently of anything else that’s going on.
Pete: Plus the double-sided sabers. That’s always badass.
Justin: Yes, always badass. Never not successful.
Justin: I like this, too. My favorite parts were where I felt like there was some new ground broken. I feel like these new characters, it feels a little [Star Treky 00:04:20], a bit.
Alex: I think very much so
Justin: Which I think makes a lot of sense in that the height of the Jedi would be a much more organized society, like Star Trek is. I thought that was cool.
Justin: The parts that I don’t like are when they’re just referencing shit that we’ve already seen, like, there’s a lot of splash pages later on where the only species we see are species we’ve seen in Star Wars. I’m like, “I see why you did that, but throw some other people in there. I want to see some new stuff. I’d like to see the Force used in a different way,” was my takeaway here.
Alex: What’d you think about hot Yoda? Because we kind of get a hot, younger Yoda here, like a little more ripped.
Justin: He’s sort of a teen, like an angsty teen. This Yoda fucks, and I love that.
Pete: Yeah, but he’s still-
Alex: Yoda’s the kind of guy, Yoda, you’d want to grab an IPA with, like plug his mind, find out what’s going on there. What are his ideas?
Pete: Well, first off, he’s still got-
Justin: Yoda, put away that joint! We can’t get high now. We have a big council meeting.
Pete: Yoda’s got a walking stick, so he’s not that young.
Alex: Smoke, you will.
Justin: Relax, we must.
Alex: Meeting dot 420 minutes, it is.
Pete: Oh my god. Nice. Nice. I mean, I can’t believe I’m not in on these bits, but really impressive, Alv. That’s the smartest 420 bit I’ve ever heard.
Pete: Yoda’s still got a walking stick, guys, all right? He’s not that-
Justin: But he’s not using it. He’s not leaning on it. It’s sort of more of a fun stick.
Pete: No, he’s not. Yeah.
Justin: That’s [crosstalk 00:05:53] a bowl.
Alex: It’s a pimp stick.
Justin: It’s a bowl.
Alex: That’s a pimp stick.
Justin: It’s a very long bowl that he smokes out of.
Pete: It’s a bowl. Yeah.
Pete: Yeah, it’s cool. It’s nice to see him. I also am more interested in the horned Chewbacca character next to him, like Justin said, that it’s like, “Oh, this is interesting. This is new.” Yeah, I think, with all the Star Wars, I agree. It would be nice to be like, “Let’s just go away from what we know for a little bit and really just kind of get lost in some new shit,” but I enjoyed this. I very much enjoyed this. The fun timeline with all the symbols in the beginning was great. Love the action. This is just some good stuff. I feel like it’s a great setup for this world to get into.
Alex: I’m not laughing at you. I’m actually laughing at us, the fact that we were like, “Love that timeline.”
Justin: We do.
Alex: First few pages. You open it up. Timeline. Close it back up.
Justin: Yeah. All I want, just the context. I love context.
Pete: Exactly. Just give me… Where are we?
Alex: Yeah, I also did love the timeline, though.
Pete: What are we doing?
Justin: Yeah, exactly. As I say, everybody loves a timeline.
Pete: [crosstalk 00:06:59] disagree with you. Wording wasn’t like-
Justin: I think what Pete’s saying is, he wants more of his comics, like the X-Men specifically, with pages in the middle, where they just have information.
Pete: Fuck you.
Justin: Especially symbols.
Pete: Fuck you.
Alex: Don’t worry. We’ll get there. We’ll talk about another Marvel book that has that, but first, from the beginning to an ending, let’s talk about Dark Nights: Death Metal #7 from DC Comics, written by Scott Snyder, art by Greg Capullo with Yonic Bucat and Brian Hitch. This is wrapping up this mega, wild saga of the DC Universe versus the Being, the Batman, I don’t know what you call him, who laughs. Here, as has been not wildly rumored but put out there, the entire DC Universe, the cosmology of it, gets completely redefined at the end, really characterizing this, in case you weren’t clear, as the level of a crisis in terms of redefining the universe, which is, I think, a big deal.
Alex: What’d you think about how this book wrapped up as a whole but also where it leaves the DC universe? Nobody say anything, please.
Justin: No, Pete, I thought that was yours. There was a perfect lane for you.
Alex: Yeah, you sort of bent back as if you were winding up for like, “Here it comes.”
Justin: A real haul-off. I thought a haul-off was coming.
Pete: It got kind of crazy in a way that I was like, “What is happening?” but I’m the first guy to get lost in stuff. The Wonder Woman mirror thing was a little weird. It got kind of meta. It was cool, the way it kind of started with Skeleton Head Rock, and then we got to see kind of like a young Sergeant Rock that was cool.
Pete: I think this event overall was a lot of fun. I wasn’t like, “Oh, shit! DC Universe is completely changed!” You did a thing about a hand that kind of shows up. It got weird in spots, but I thought this was fun. I like the Batman talking shit, calling somebody a punk. Yeah, this was a fun event.
Justin: What I love about this, and I thought this ended really strongly here. There were a lot of titles throughout Death Metal that felt like, if you were reading everything, it was like, “Wait. Where are we? We were off the main plot here.” This book really landed all of the planes together in a great way. It was funny, while at the same… Every character was really playing their character game, the thing that make their essence at a high potential the entire time. I love that the focus never shifted from Wonder Woman. I thought for sure it was going to shift back to Batman at some point in this, because it’s such a Batman-focused event, and I love that they didn’t. Batman and Superman had their fights, and they were sort of off, but it was all about Wonder Woman. I appreciated that so hard, because the themes of this crossover are her themes. It’s like truth, ultimate justice, be direct and simple to your truth. That’s where we end up. Wonder Woman wins by not knowing the consequences but still just doing what she thinks is the right thing. The fact that that paid off, I thought was great.
Justin: The philosophy at the end of this, where the DC Universe is landing, where it’s like, “Let’s bring these characters back to their cores but, at the same time, let everything go wild. Let’s push this universe into any direction we want.” I just love that creative potential. The event, from the premise to the endpoint, that was the idea. I love that it’s taking over the whole line now.
Alex: Yeah. I completely agree with you. My only two tiny, little quibbles that I don’t even completely agree with but I’ll say out loud anyway, one of them is that it felt like this was leading up to a point where Wonder Woman was going to die, right?
Justin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Alex: I appreciate the fact that they didn’t kill her off, which is why this is a dumb thing to bring up, because that would have been very frustrating, but it felt like they did the thing that they did with Tony Stark over in Civil War 2, where it was like, “Well, story-wise, we have to kill off Iron Man. That is the only option here. Instead, let’s come up with this weird middle point where he doesn’t die so we can keep him around, so we don’t just rely on, ‘Oh, and then we’re going to bring him back anyway.'” They do the same thing with Wonder Woman here, where it’s like, she should have died. That was the natural ending point of this thing. It would have been a huge bummer and frustrating, so instead, they did this weird middle point that’s going to lead to something else. A lot of that depends on whatever story they’re about to tell with Wonder Woman going forward, I guess.
Alex: The other part is just the idea that everything matters, which is the same as, I think, the Hyper Time idea that they tried a little while ago, that is confusing to think about. I think the way to approach it and the way that I’m approaching is, don’t worry about it too much. We’ve been reading comics for years. None of it makes any sense when you lay it out linearly, so just allow yourself to remember the stories you like and ignore the things that don’t necessarily make it cohesive. That’s fine. That’s how I’m getting past it, but there’s certainly times when I’m reading this book where I felt like, I don’t know how everything can matter. That just doesn’t jive up in any sort of way. What does Superman remember that happened right now? What was his life like in a linear fashion? You know?
Justin: I think that what I like about this is, that’s the problem anyway. Continuity is a fluid thing. You believe enough parts of it so you’re like, “This is the story,” but every specific detail isn’t important, because they start to conflict. Then you’re left with mush, so I like the idea that they were able to play a little bit faster and looser with it, where it’s like, “Yes, he was married. He has this kid. The kid was aged up in the future. All those things are true. Then, now, we’re shifting into Future State, where we’re really exploring extrapolations on those themes. Then we’ll see where the main stories land,” but the fact that there are lanes where new stories can be told are great.
Justin: I just want to say to your point, Pete, how did you feel…? I thought Alfred looked great in this comic.
Pete: Fuck you, you fucking fuck, bud.
Justin: I think he looks better.
Pete: This comic brings up an interesting point. I’m wondering if you guys have thought about this at all. If you see a different version of yourself, the mirror version of yourself, do you just assume that it’s you, because it looks similar? Do you kind of quiz yourself to make sure it’s you? How do you react to seeing kind of like a different version of you in the mirror there?
Justin: You can always tell with a kiss.
Pete: You’re going to kiss yourself?
Alex: I agree. I agree.
Pete: You’re going to kiss yourself?
Alex: Exactly what I was going to say.
Pete: Why would it…? How would…? Kissing yourself, you would know it’s you? How would that…? That’s…
Justin: It is intimacy. You just know.
Justin: Sometimes, you just know with a kiss.
Pete: What? Oh my god.
Alex: You can just feel what’s in the other’s heart.
Pete: Oh my god. All right.
Alex: Let’s move on to another crossover, [inaudible 00:14:11] Crossover #3 from Image Comics. [crosstalk 00:14:12] Shaw.
Pete: Oh, I see what you did there. I see what you did.
Alex: In this issue, a lot of the story threads are starting to come together as our main characters are trying to bring a comic book character back to the dome that is over Denver. They run into some trouble along the way. We get a reveal at the end of a character they’ve been teasing that is a big deal at the end of this issue. I thought the reveal was great. I cackled out loud when I got to it. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I don’t know if we want to spoil it necessarily, but what did you think about this issue and the story as a whole?
Pete: We shouldn’t. I thought this was great. I really love the reveal. I thought it made a lot of sense. You kind of get a hint of stuff along the way, which is cool. Yeah, I’m really impressed with the writing and the creativity on this book. It’s very interesting. It’s really cool to see how things are going to unfold. I love the kind of action stuff that happens here. I think I’m completely on board. This has been a lot of fun.
Justin: Yeah, I like it, too. It’s amazing how meta and comic book [insidery 00:15:27] this book is, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s just a book for a very specific audience, and that’s because-
Pete: Your review is, this book doesn’t bother you. That’s what you’re saying?
Justin: I guess what I’m saying is, my expectation was that, if someone was like, “Hey, we’re going to do this book where we reference all this very insidery things and sort of call a character Dr. Strange in a very winky way and then back off of that idea, I would be like, “I don’t know if I would like that,” but I thought it’s really handled in a very smart way. The reveal on the last page, I thought, was very fun. A couple characters, the guy’s dad is the male love interest, is drawn like John Goodman from The Righteous Gemstones, like so hard.
Alex: Yes, 100%.
Justin: Which I thought was fun.
Alex: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Justin: It’s good. It’s really striding a line that I think is difficult to stride.
Pete: I just don’t understand, if you have a comic book, why you wouldn’t put John Goodman in it. You know what I mean?
Alex: Exactly. I completely agree. I think he was in Dark Nights: Death Metal somewhere.
Alex: I also like the fact that Donny works in, I think it’s The Paybacks, which is a book that he wrote back in the day, that he very cheekily is like, “Well, nobody read it, but it was very good,” which I thought was a fun, little detail. Again, you get that character at the end that I think is definitely a swerve but is perfectly-
Pete: Did it bother you, though?
Alex: Should we just talk about it?
Pete: No, no. I just want to know if it bothered you at all.
Alex: What bothered me?
Pete: Some things didn’t bother Justin. I just want to know if you wanted to say, anything didn’t bother you.
Alex: What? No, nothing bothered me.
Justin: Yeah, do you want to talk about the reveal at this point?
Alex: Yeah, sure. Let’s talk about the reveal. Spoiler if you haven’t read it already, but Mad Man shows up at the end. We got this tease in the first issue. The character drew somebody who has been taking people, helping get in and out of the dome. It looks like it’s a picture of Superman, so the implication is, “Holy shit, did they somehow get Superman?” No, they did not get Superman as of yet, but it turns out, it’s actually Mad Man, Mike Allred’s creation.
Alex: That is just a perfect character for this sort of dimension-hopping weirdness sort of thing. That’s the thing that I really liked about the reveal, is it’s not the biggest swerve you can think of from Superman, but it’s certainly something you’re like, “I never would have predicted that character would be coming here, but it makes perfect sense for the story they’re telling.” It definitely doubles down on, “Okay, we’re going for this. Here’s the crossover. This is not just original characters that we’re doing here.”
Justin: That’s what I think. It really served the crossover premise so strong.
Pete: Yeah. I think my big takeaway is, this comic doesn’t bother me.
Justin: Good. Go ahead and throw that on the cover.
Alex: Let’s move on-
Justin: One quick thing in the credits.
Justin: Mark Wade worked on this book, as a… It says, “Story edits.”
Justin: Yeah, interesting that he’s there, helping craft the final book here.
Alex: That is very interesting.
Alex: Let’s move on to one that may or may not have bothered Pete. Eternals #1 from Marvel, written by Kieron Gillen, art by Esad Ribic. As Justin mentioned on the live show, we talked to Kieron about this on our podcast a couple of months back. He teased this. I still think, even based on his teases, I didn’t know what we were getting into here. This is a wild ride. This seems very clearly influenced or perhaps just parallel to what Jonathan Hickman has been doing over on X-Men in this book. There’s a lot of back matter and integrated matter. We’ve certainly talked about how that works sometimes with the X-Men books, sometimes does not. Here, in my mind, it definitely does. I thought this book was great. Again, great last page reveal. I loved it.
Justin: Yeah. Great. I mean, the art by Esad Ribic is just stunning. It really… I think it serves sort of the tone of this book, which feels very postmodern superhero book that’s owning, like a lot of books we’ve talked about, about continuity. This owns all this continuity. It feels like these characters, these Eternals, have been alive forever. They have done everything. They’re a little bit cold about everything. It’s still the world. Iron Man shows up here. It feels like a comic book reader. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of stories. Where’s the new ground? It feels like we’re going to get there. It’s sort of like the, “God is dead at the end of the world. Who did it?” I love that.
Pete: Yeah. I mean, I’ve never really been a big Eternals fan, and I’m wondering if this movie’s going to be any good or not, but-
Alex: Did you say, “Eternals,” or, “A-turtles?” Never been a big a-turtles fan, huh?
Pete: No, Eternals.
Alex: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They love the pizza.
Pete: I don’t know what’s going on, but you know I’m a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, so I wouldn’t say that.
Alex: Oh, okay.
Pete: Yeah, I have a hard time where the characters are eternal. They live forever. They’re these all-impotent beings that have lived life forever, whatever whatever. Nothing’s new for them. They get bored and do stupid shit.
Pete: I was impressed with the head butt. I thought that was glorious, calling your shot, which was great, but other than that, the art’s fantastic. There were some weird pages of symbols that I didn’t check out on purpose, but we’ll see how this wraps up.
Pete: Last page, saw that coming a mile away.
Justin: What? No way.
Pete: Yeah, dude!
Justin: Wow. Okay.
Pete: Get to the planet, and it’s basically his name. I mean, what the fuck?
Alex: All right.
Alex: One of the things, just to-
Justin: Why did you call the ending of the second issue, then?
Pete: What’s that?
Alex: Yeah, Pete. If you know it so well, what’s happening at the end of the second issue.
Pete: He gets the fucking gauntlet. I don’t know. I don’t fucking know what that’s going to happen in the next one.
Justin: All right. The thing with Pete is, it probably will happen.
Pete: I mean, they dropped him. [crosstalk 00:21:36].
Alex: One thing that I wanted to respond to, that I think Kieron Gillen does so well here, is deal with the idea that these are Eternals. These are immortals. They think they have this purpose, and they found out their purpose is not necessarily wrong but just doesn’t mean anything, so what do they do next if they’re never going to die but their lives don’t mean anything? What does that mean for the lives they continue living? To me, he almost treats it like office worker drones, right? Like you’re going into work every single day. You’re doing the same thing. What is the end result? For them, there is no end result. There’s nothing, so what is their purpose? I think that’s the setup here. We’re going to find out, do they have a purpose? Who has a purpose? What do their lives mean going forward? I think that’s a very exciting and interesting and very esoteric, mind you, thing to talk about.
Alex: The other thing that I really loved about this book was the description of Deviants.
Alex: That really popped for me, because there’s this setup at the beginning of, the Celestials came down. They created 100 Eternals. They created 100 Deviants. They left. Then there’s a little shruggie emoji beneath that. That’s the perfect setup for the book. What he talks about with the Deviants in there, there’s this comparison of like, yeah, not all Deviants are bad. Some of them just go bad, but they look at human beings as like, “Well, some of you are serial killers.” You know? I thought that was just such a good sequence of dialogue, aligning us with Deviants when the rest of the book is aligning us with Eternals. Just great writing, great art across the board. I really like this book quite a bit.
Justin: Now, one follow-up I know we talked about. Do you think, if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lives under, in the sewers of other cities, they would like different stuff?
Alex: Yeah, sure.
Justin: Like if they lived in the sewers of Seattle, would they just be like coffee drinkers?
Alex: Yeah. They live under St. Petersburg, and they’re like, “I love being a turtle, and I love borscht.”
Justin: Yeah. “Borscht time!”
Alex: If they lived in Rochester, they would love garbage plates.
Pete: There you go.
Justin: Wow. If they lived under Philadelphia, they’d be sucking on a cheese stick.
Pete: Ah man.
Alex: Wrong podcast.
Alex: Let’s get into our Future State block here with a ton of books that were released off of the end of Dark Nights Battle from DC this week.
Pete: Here we go!
Alex: They all take place in an indeterminate future of the DC Universe. However, as we found out when we were talking to Phillip Kennedy Johnson on our live show, they’re all interconnected in some way, and they all do matter in some way as well. They’re going to take elements and work them back, so this isn’t just Elseworlds. This isn’t just like what if or anything like that. It’s something else. We don’t know fully yet, but I figured the best way of approaching this, I’m just going to read through the titles. We don’t need to talk about each of them individually, but I’m curious to hear you guys shout out. Then I’ll read off the creative teams as well.
Alex: We’ve got Next Batman, Superman of Metropolis, Swamp Thing, The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Harley Quinn. Justin, you were super into the Swamp Thing one, which was written by Ram V, art by Mike Perkins. You want to talk about that?
Justin: Yeah. This one is sort of post-apocalyptic Earth. Swamp things are the only things alive, at least at the beginning of the issue.
Pete: I like what you did there. I like what you did there. That was nice.
Justin: Yeah. It’s just really nice. It’s an issue about, oddly, like being a parent here. Swamp Thing intermittently walks us through the construction of a body of his children, basically, as he’s going. Then bad things start to happen. This is the kind of story that I hope DC does more of with Future State and beyond, where it does feel like an Elseworlds that matters.
Pete: The art’s glorious. I thought it was okay.
Justin: Great. You weren’t bothered by it?
Pete: Yeah, it didn’t bother me. I think there were other ones in the stack that I really like more, but you know. I’m not a parent, so I didn’t really-
Alex: I will say, reading these in the order of Next Batman, Superman of Metropolis, Swamp Thing; Next Batman brings up this new villain for Gotham city. Superman of Metropolis brings up a new villain for Metropolis, so I started to feel like, “Okay, we’re getting kind of this interconnected thing.” Swamp Thing, I could not figure out how that gelled with that, so it took me a little while to get into it because of that, but I agree with you, Justin. I thought this was really nice storytelling and very interesting and weird. It reminded me a little bit of a Jeff Lemire take on Swamp Thing, almost like Sweet Tooth in a certain way.
Justin: For sure, yeah.
Alex: I like this one quite a bit.
Justin: Swamp Tooth.
Alex: Swamp Tooth. If you weren’t into this one, what was your jam? What did you like of the Future State books?
Pete: I thought The Dreaming was cool. Batman was great.
Alex: We’re not talking about The Dreaming. Let’s talk about Next Batman, though, written by John Ridley.
Pete: The backups were great as well.
Alex: Hold on. Let me just say the writing staff on Next Batman.
Alex: You got John Ridley, Brandon Thomas, Paul Jenkins, art by Nick Derington, Sumit Kumar, and Jack Herbert. This is the big deal. This is like their shout across the bow, because this is a black Batman. This is Luke Fox, I think? Lucius Fox’s son who was taking over, I think.
Alex: Am I wrong about that?
Justin: I think you’re wrong about that, because Luke Fox-
Alex: Maybe it’s his brother?
Justin: Yeah, Luke Fox was the other Batman family character.
Alex: Okay. All right. I think it’s part of the Fox family.
Justin: Definitely that, yes.
Pete: Yeah. Agreed.
Alex: It’s probably like the Simpsons.
Justin: Oh, no, you’re right. It is Luke. It’s Luke. It’s Luke. It’s Luke.
Alex: It’s Luke Fox. Okay. This is a big deal. We get a couple of backups to show us other things that are going on in the world of Gotham City as it’s under this tyrannical rule, this fascist rule. Pete, what did you like about this book?
Pete: Well, first off, the villain that kind of gets attacked has some sweet knives. You don’t see the combination of like brass knuckle and knife very much anymore, so that was great, to see that again. Some good action sequences. Then also liked the kind of like bubble that we got inside Batman’s head a little bit, and Justin really likes that. Then we kind of got a little of the Fox residence. Then there’s this kind of interesting thing about masks and putting on masks in Gotham, which is cool. Yeah, there was some really cool ideas going around here, so it got me very excited to see where this is going to go. I really like the design of Batman. The action of Batman in this comic was really great. This had a real cool feel to it, and I liked it very much.
Alex: Yeah, I thought Nick Derington’s art in particular was very good here. It feels like a classic Batman tale, which is probably transgressive in and of itself, that it’s not a Batman who is black first and foremost, but it is a Batman first and foremost. Then it has these other layers to it. I think it was very purposeful on John Ridley’s part and works really well.
Alex: The one that jumped out to me, Future State: Wonder Woman #1.
Alex: This was written and art by Joëlle Jones, colors by Jordie Bellaire.
Pete: Before we move on, we should talk a little bit about the backups in the Batman issue.
Alex: Sure. Go ahead.
Pete: Okay. Katana was great.
Pete: The design was really awesome. Sometimes, Katana is done not too well. This was really great. I really appreciated all that we got from this character. I’m very excited to get more. I hope these cool backups continue. Then we kind of got these team-up stuff as well. We got the Outsiders stuff in there. That was done well. I’m very excited to see, in this future state, how the Batman team is going to work, so I feel like they did a great job of getting us excited in this Next Batman Future State issue for the, not only Arkham Knights but the Outsiders as well.
Justin: Yeah, I agree. I hope this is the format of these books, where we get to see little snippets of the other characters. Great take on Outsiders and just really great across the board.
Pete: Yes. Sorry, Alex. I didn’t mean to cut you off there.
Alex: No, that’s fine. Back to Wonder Woman. This Joëlle Jones art alone, to heat it up a little bit, on this book is so phenomenal.
Justin: Yes. Yes. [crosstalk 00:30:42] alone!
Alex: This is a book that… I definitely went into it with preconceptions, only because it isn’t out yet. It’s already in develop by the CW as a TV show, so I was like, “All right. How is this going to work? What is this TV show about?” That was the critical lens I was looking through it. I still have no idea, having read the book, but once I was able to get past that, this is the boldest reinvention of the Wonder Woman mythology since Cliff Chiang and Brian Azzarello, and I love it. Love it. So good. It’s a completely a different character. It feels consistent with the name Wonder Woman as she goes down to the underworld on a mission. We get to see different aspects of it. It’s funny. It’s weird at points. There’s interesting mythology that’s mixing different mythologies than just the Olympic mythology that we’re used to, with Diana. This is so good. I think it is, actually, but this is one that I hope is ongoing, beyond the two to three issues that they’re going to be doing over the course of these months.
Justin: Yeah, I mean, I agree.
Pete: Yeah, this… Oh, go ahead.
Justin: It’s a young, brash Wonder Woman. Just comparing this Wonder Woman to the Wonder Woman from Wonder Woman 1984 is just like… This is so much more exciting. This is just all in one issue.
Pete: Yeah. This is just a great version of Wonder Woman, who is very action-forward, which is great. The kind of villains and the cool characters along the way doesn’t feel like Wonder Woman, but it works in such a nice way that it makes it feel fresh. Yeah, I was like, “Okay, what’s this going to be?” and then didn’t want to leave this world. I loved the last splash page at the end. This is very exciting stuff.
Alex: Let’s touch on some of the other ones real quick, sort of do little capsule reviews of them. We got Future State: Superman of Metropolis #1 from DC Comics, written by Sean Lewis, Brandon Easton, art by John Timms, Valentine De Landro, Cully Hamner, Michael Avon Oeming. One thing that I really liked about this one is how weird it was.
Justin: It was very weird.
Pete: It was super weird.
Alex: Yeah, this is weird, sci-fi Superman tales, something that I don’t think we’ve seen in a very long time, and I appreciated that.
Justin: Yeah, I agree. It was almost a little too… I wanted more of like, “Oh, I see what this story is, and I see where it’s going.” It was very grim also. It felt like I was… I’m not confident things are going to work out, which is an odd tone for a Superman book. It’s funny. In the Batman book, I thought the first story was the strongest, and in order, that’s how I liked them. In this, I feel like it was the reversed order.
Justin: I liked the Guardian story at the end the best.
Justin: Then, second, the Mr. Miracle, and third, the Superman [crosstalk 00:33:51].
Pete: Exactly, man! The Guardian was badass! It was really great! I was surprised how much I loved that. Yeah, Superman was all right, but what are we doing with Superman? You know what I mean? Are we changing things up, or is this just like anime Superman? What are we doing?
Alex: I don’t know. I can’t get too mad at a ball of teeth. That’s a pretty weird, cool villain.
Alex: Let’s talk about Future State: The Flash #1, written by Brandon Vietti, art by Dale Eaglesham. Love Dale Eaglesham’s art, one of my favorite artists ever, so great to see him draw the Flash family.
Justin: Yeah. Dark take. Alex, are you saying you don’t love this?
Alex: I didn’t love this.
Justin: Because it’s so dark.
Justin: Flash, mostly a bright-
Alex: No, I don’t know. There was something a little stilted about the language, to be honest. Just the writing, the dialogue was a little weird to me. It didn’t feel like as bold of a swing as some of the other books that we read in some of the Future State stuff.
Alex: It felt like, if the assignment was what happens in 40, 50 years down the road in the DC Universe, this was what happens two, three storylines down the road.
Pete: [inaudible 00:35:09].
Alex: You know what I mean?
Alex: I wanted something bigger and weirder with the Flash, and that’s not what we got here.
Pete: I read this-
Justin: Interesting, because-
Pete: Oh, go ahead.
Justin: Go ahead.
Pete: I was just going to say real quick, I read this one. I was like, “Well, I hope that Alvin liked this.”
Justin: I read it, and I was like, “Oh, I think Alex won’t like this,” because I do think it’s a bold swing, because it’s a very not… The Flash is so bright and shiny and, “I’ll fix this by running.” This is the opposite of that.
Pete: That’s his move.
Justin: I think you also don’t like it, Alex, because Wally’s the bad guy.
Alex: It makes no sense.
Pete: Shots fired!
Alex: He’s the good guy. Come on!
Pete: Shots fired.
Justin: He’s the bad guy in this one, Alex. I want to pick up the next one, because I really was surprised by the tone and the vibe of this. I like the way that the heroes change. Heroes die, and the heroes change their tactic in the middle of this book. I thought that was interesting.
Pete: I think one of the things I realized reading this is like, I’ve tried doing the Flash philosophy, just run harder, and it doesn’t always solve your problems.
Alex: Oh, go ahead. Oh, really?
Pete: Yeah. I think this book kind of falls short.
Justin: Pete, maybe you need to run a little harder.
Pete: I’ve tried. I’ve tried that.
Alex: Okay, but run even harder.
Pete: Yeah, I-
Alex: Last, we’re going to talk about Future State: Harley Quinn #1, written by Stephanie Phillips, art by Simone Di Meo. This one, to me, almost had the clearest setup of a book. The rest of them felt like they were cutting in in the middle, but here we get, Harley is captured. Scarecrow is basically working as her Charlie-style, from Charlie’s Angles, style handler, sending her off on missions to take down other villains in Gotham City. I thought this was a fun setup. I liked it. In particular, I thought Simone Di Meo’s art was very good on the book.
Justin: Yeah, I agree. I like the setup here. It is the most… I see what this book is, and we’re going to see more of this style story.
Pete: Yeah, that’s what I liked about it, was like, “Okay, this is what it’s going to be.” It gets you excited for what’s going to happen next, so I feel like it does a good job of, “All right. Here’s our take on Harley Quinn. This is her new look.” Cool, great. Awesome. I don’t hate this at all, but I felt like I wanted a little bit more, but I feel like I’m excited to see where this could go, because it has a lot of possibilities.
Alex: Let’s move on to talk about some non-Future-State books, starting with The Amazing Spider-Man #56 from Marvel, written by Nick Spencer, art by Mark Bagley. Somehow, we’re done with the Last Remains storyline and have moved on. We see here how the Kingpin and Norman Osbourne captured Harry Osbourne, AKA Kindred, and what starts to happen next.
Alex: I know we talked about this with the last issue. Mark Bagley’s are always good. He’s always a good Spider-Man writer. I am starting to lose my patience with this storyline, to be perfectly honest with you.
Alex: I always hesitate to say things like this, but we need to get to it. What is Kindred’s deal? He can’t stand in the corner and be like, “You know what you did,” for another 15 issues, because I am going to go insane.
Justin: It’s funny you say that, because I think the story is sort of moving on. There’s a ton of setup in this book for what the next things that are going to be happening. I will say, I liked the little moment where Kindred has little tears running down his weird eyes, his empty, pumpkin head eyes, but I think I’ve shifted… The coin, I think, is just part of this. We’re getting some story. I think what the issue is for me now is, Spider-Man is not the main character in this book, and we’re not in Spider-Man’s head. Spider-Man is a side character. We’re just observing him. It’s about the Osbournes, Kingpin. We’re in all these other heads. We need Spider-Man to be the center here. The Sin Eater story was about Spider-Man and Sin Eater and what was happening there, and I feel like we’ve been on Kindred’s side of it, and I hope we’re going to flip back as we go forward.
Alex: Also, sorry Pete. The one thing I was going to say about the Sin Eater thing is, so much of this issue is consumed with talking about how cool the Sin Eater storyline and how interesting it was and the fallout of that, to the point where I’m like, that was more interesting. I like that. That was fascinating, and that really brought Spider-man to the brink, in the way that I just don’t understand what Kindred means to him, even though he’s a character that we’ve known for decades at this point.
Pete: I kind of, as Alvin said, might be a little bit nicer. When you’ve got a character talking about cool shit that happened before, that’s not a good comic book. You’re not in the moment in a way that’s exciting. You’re like, “Man, you know what was really cool? Couple issues ago. That’s when shit was exciting. I don’t know what’s happening here, but I’m going to monologue as I walk circles around this cubed villain. Cool.” Yeah, I didn’t like this at all. I want Nick Spencer to be off this book so I can go back to enjoying fucking Spider-Man.
Justin: Not necessary.
Alex: No, you don’t want to take somebody off of a job. That’s mean, Pete.
Alex: Let’s move on, though, talk about The Last Witch #1 from BOOM! Box, written by Connor McKeery, illustrated by Vivi Glass. In this book, we meet a young girl who is very interested in sneaking up on, maybe, a witch’s castle on her birthday. She is stymied because of a couple of different things.
Alex: Really like the art here. There’s some good all-ages stuff. I wanted a little more in the plot, and we finally get there by the end, so I am excited enough to read issue two.
Justin: Yeah, I thought this was a sock-fixing book for a good portion of it.
Pete: Oh man.
Justin: Like, “Yeah, fix these socks.”
Pete: You can’t have your fun until you’ve fixed some socks, Justin. Everybody knows that.
Justin: Darn those socks. Darn, darn those socks.
Justin: I will say, I liked this. I think the dread that is set up throughout the story is good. It really pays off at the back end. It feels very Blair Witch, if I may reference an old movie.
Alex: The movie we talk about on this podcast is Blair Witch: Book of Shadows.
Justin: Yeah. That’s the bummer. We refuse to mention any movie but the current sequel that’s out there. It really makes a lot of our movie conversations horrible.
Alex: What’s more current than Book of Shadows?
Justin: I thought this was good. Definitely going to pick up the next issue. Yeah.
Alex: Yeah. Good stuff.
Pete: I agree that I thought this was a lot of fun. The art’s fantastic. You got a badass grandma who’s smoking a cigar. That’s good times.
Justin: Is there anything you like more, Pete, than grandmas?
Justin: All you talk about is grandmas on this podcast.
Pete: Plus you got a little kid, uses gap tooth well. I’m excited to see where this goes. There was a lot of kind of walking in place, if you will, a little bit, but I’m glad we got to see the tower and what’s going to… I’m excited to see what happens after that.
Alex: Yeah. I agree with you. There were a lot of points where they weren’t focusing on the grandma, but then, there were a couple of pages where they focused on the grandma.
Justin: Yes. That’s what Pete’s interest… Really, Pete?
Alex: Let’s move on and talk about one more DC book here, Generations Shattered #1 from DC Comics, written by Dan Jurgens, Andy Schmidt, and Robert Venditti, art by… Are you ready? Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Scott Hanna, Fernando Pasarin, Oclair Albert, Aaron Lopresti, Matt Ryan, Emanuela Lupacchino, Wade van Grawbadger, Bernard Chang… I like that you’re both taking drinks of your beer. Yanick Paquette, Kevin Nowlan, Dan Jurgens, Klaus Janson, Paul Pelletier, Sandra Hope, John Romita Jr., Danny Miki, Doug Braithwaite, Rags Morales, and Mike Perkins.
Alex: This is a book that I included here on the stack, because it certainly seems like, okay, you go Dark Nights: Death Metal. You go Generations Shattered. Then we’re into Future State. It even says on the cover, “Spinning out of the pages of Dark Nights: Death Metal.” It doesn’t have anything to do with that.
Justin: No. This book is a bit of a fever dream.
Alex: Oh, yes. I didn’t mind it once I got past realizing, “Wait, this has nothing to do with anything else going on in the DC Universe,” because there’s just a fun thing about Kamandi building a team to take down another time-threatening villain. There’s some good, fun art in it. There’s a weird team that he puts together, has Dan Jurgens leading into his Booster Gold stuff, which…
Justin: Loves Booster Gold.
Alex: That’s cool. Loves Booster Gold.
Justin: I know people love Kamandi. I’ve always just been like, his only thing is he’s the last boy. It’s sort of like, “Well, he’s just the last one.”
Alex: No, man, he has long, blonde hair.
Alex: He wears cut off jean shorts and no shirt.
Justin: I feel like he’s cold. He’s traveling through time with no shirt on. It’s got to be cold.
Alex: Yeah. Put on a shirt.
Justin: Yeah. Put on a shirt, Kamandi.
Justin: I do like Wave Rider. I like a lot of these weird characters that they pulled together for this. There’s a lot of fun, weird… Like fighting Hector Hammond’s big head in this middle bit, the young Booster Gold versus old Booster Gold.
Alex: I think the problem is the timing of how this comes out more than anything. This feels like there’s this weird, other event that’s been going on during the big event, that is trying to do a lot of the same things that Dark Nights: Death Metal is doing but in a more conventional way. It’s fun to read but confusing to read this week.
Justin: I think that’s fair.
Pete: I really love the Remuter Jr. bit. That was enjoyable, but the other shit was really kind of fucked up.
Justin: The other shit was fucked up. The woman’s doll in the fridge, I was like, “Is that…? Are you recalling out fridging here?”
Alex: Oh, I don’t even remember that. I think I missed that entirely.
Pete: Oh, yeah. Batman, yeah. Yeah, it was kind of crazy.
Justin: It was a weird thing.
Justin: Then the very end, I liked the last couple pages, but I don’t know what it means.
Alex: The black and white?
Alex: Yeah. Who even knows? No idea.
Alex: Next up, Backtrack #10 from Oni Press, written by Brian Joines and illustrated by Jake Elphick. We’ve been following this title all along. This is the last issue, I believe, of this death race through time-
Justin: Yes, for now.
Alex: For now, death race through time book. It ends on a little bit of a question mark note, but how’d you feel about how it wrapped up?
Pete: I really liked the emotional choices that were made in this. It’s really interesting how great the relationships are. There’s this insane race going on, but then as the story goes on, we get little pieces of people’s lives in such an interesting way. I thought this was a great somebody sacrificing their wish for somebody else, a classic thing but done really well, kind of in the backdrop of Fast and the Furious. I think this is a great book from start to finish. I was really impressed with this insanity, but it was done in a way where you could follow.
Justin: Fun art. Cars. If there was one of us on this podcast that loves cars, you know it’s JT Sizzle who is really always checking what’s under the hood and kicking the tires.
Alex: What?! Yeah, you’re a real gearhead, man.
Justin: That’s exactly right. This guy gets cars. That’s why I mentioned a Ford truck earlier tonight on another podcast.
Justin: I agree. This is a fun… I did like the emotional-
Alex: Do you just want to flex about how you do other podcasts, too?
Justin: With you. It’s not a… It’s with you. It’s not a flex to say that.
Justin: I like the emotional turnaround we got at the end of this. It’s fun.
Alex: Yeah, good stuff. This is one that I think is going to read really well in trade in particular.
Alex: Moving on, Return of the Valkyries #1 from Marvel, written by Jason Aaron and Torunn Gronbekk, art by Nina Vekueva. As the title implies, this is Jane Foster, slowly, potentially building the Valkyries back up. In this case, she is ferrying the sentry to the Underworld after the events of King in Black and runs into some trouble. We start to bring in a character that is not exactly but very similar to Tess Thompson in the MCU and hook back up with her. As usual, they just do a great job of the Jane Foster book. This is more of the same. If you like that, you’re going to like this.
Justin: Agree. I love the sentry stuff. There’s so much nice, down-to-earth stuff where his life flashes before his eyes with the good parts. He remembers a good joke with his wife. Really good stuff.
Pete: Yeah, there’s nothing like a good bit. You know? I think this is a lot of fun. A lot of cool stuff going on. Art’s fantastic. Some good storytelling. Yeah, I think this is solid.
Justin: I really hope, when my life flashes before my eyes, it goes back to this moment, when I said that Yoda fucks.
Alex: Getting It Together #4 from Image Comics, cowritten by Sina Grace and Omar Spahi, art by Jenny D. Fine and Sina Grace. This is also the last issue of this, at least for now. This issue, we get to watch one of our main characters travel out to LA, find her solo music career.
Alex: I got to say, I like this last issue in the story. They told quite a bit, but I was bummed that it only included one of the main characters for the most part.
Alex: Bless you, Pete.
Pete: Agreed. Yes, was very cool that we got this, but you did miss the rest of the band. You know? You did want to know what was going on with them. I think this is a great book, a cool take on what it’s like to be in a band, where all these people with different ideas and what they want to do and how you manage that, but I think the art and the storytelling in this is just really nice.
Justin: I hear your criticism, Alex, but what I liked about this book in general is that it’s about a time in your life ending or a time in these characters’ lives ending. When that happens, especially when it’s a group, when you’re young and you have a group of friends, and everyone just sort of splits off and goes in their own separate way, I felt like it was spot-on to only follow one character, because that’s what happens. Everyone falls away, and you then go on with your life. For this book, we ended up just following her as she went to LA and sort of sorted out her solo music career. I appreciate it, but I do agree. I wish there was more. It felt like it ended right when I wanted to just hear her just go. I hope they do more of this, because I really love the tone and the setting of this book and the humor, the way the characters are built. It’s really good.
Alex: I agree. Next up, The Vain #4 from Oni Press, written by Elliot Rahal, illustrated by Emily Pearson. In this issue, we’re in the ’60s with our vampire criminals. They are building up a cult. Some of them are on board with it. Some of them are not.
Alex: It is wild to me how much this book jumps forward every single issue, time-wise.
Justin: Yeah. Yeah, it jumps around in a wild fashion. It’s funny. I feel like we compared it to American Vampire a lot. It’s just such a different-type book. The pacing’s wildly different. I still like it. I like the way vampires are rising, then they’re falling, then they’re all killed. The story is just innovative takes on what being a vampire is.
Alex: Yeah. Pete, what do you think about this one?
Pete: I’m not sure. It’s okay.
Alex: Thanks, Pete.
Pete: I liked other issues more than this one. I don’t know what to tell you, man.
Alex: Great. Thanks for coming on the podcast.
Alex: Venom #32 from Marvel, written by Donny Cates, art by Iban Cuello. Here, we get to see what happens after Eddie Brock hits a car and dies. Turns out, Eddie Brock, his body is dead, mind not quite dead because he’s part of the hive mind that has been created by Knull, the god of the Symbiotes, starts to fight back here in a certain way. What do you think about this?
Pete: I love the message here. When you’re falling to your death, you just got to stop falling, okay?
Alex: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Pete: That’s a good message, guys. Just don’t continue to fall. You should stop falling.
Justin: Yeah. Listen to the Road Runner.
Pete: I thought this was a great book. Really intense splash pages. A lot of over-the-top fun. I liked their reveal later. I’m not sure if we’re going to spoil it or not, but it got me excited for more. I think this is a very fun, over-the-top look at Venom, and I’m excited for the team-up that we’re going to have.
Justin: I mean, my review is always just focused on the car. The way he lands on this, obviously, it’s a Chrysler LeBaron, where the windshield smashes. Great stuff. Really great choices all across the board.
Pete: Chrysler LeBaron.
Alex: Anything else?
Justin: I do like this book. I think Donny Cates does a great job of moving the story forward with a lot of great ideas in a very clean, easy to understand way, and he does it again here.
Alex: Yeah. It’s a bunch of great mythology. Iban Cuello’s art is also excellent.
Alex: Last but not least, Inkblot #5 from Image Comics, created by Emma Kubert and Rusty Gladd. In this issue, our cute, little cat jumps to another place. Pete, take it away.
Pete: All right. We’ve got Cutie Patootie just moving through time and space in a kind of cat-like curiosity but also doesn’t give a fuck. You know? This is just kind of insane. The characters are really over-the-top but kind of fun combinations of different animals and monsters. It’s adorable and moves and… I don’t know. It’s cool.
Alex: It is cool. I still want a little bit more connection from this book, but in terms of done-in-one stories, particularly the designs of the creatures and the worlds and everything, very interesting and very weird and fun to check out, even though I don’t understand the thrust of this book, where it’s going at this point.
Justin: Yeah, this book is weird, but I think it’s written in the story here. “Oh, she moves through time like a cat, wanders around, doesn’t care, lays in the sun a lot.” I think this is just going to be a little, weird-
Alex: A lot of naps. I do like the fact that, whenever the cat comes in, everybody’s like, “Oh, there’s that time cat. Well, anyway, back to this thing we’re doing.”
Justin: “Back to our normal things.”
Alex: Good stuff. All right.
Alex: You are all good stuff as well. If you’d like to support us, patreon.com/comicbookclub. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. to Crowdcast and 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, comicbookclublive.com for this podcast and many more.
Alex: Until next time, we’ll see you at the virtual comic book shop.
Justin: See you there.
Alex: Good stuff.
Justin: Let us know if you’re fucking Yoda, for God sakes.
Alex: Fucking Yoda, I am.
Justin: Yoda fucks Yoda. Yoda kiss Yoda when he saw the other Yoda.
Alex: No, man. “That’s how I prove it me.” (singing)