BRZRKR #1

The Stack: BRZRKR, Stray Dogs And More

podcasts The Stack

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

BRZRKR #1
Boom! Studios
Written by Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt
Illustrated by Ron Garney

Stray Dogs #1
Image Comics
Written by Tony Fleecs
Art by Trish Forstner

The Amazing Spider-Man #60
Marvel
Written by Nick Spencer
Pencils by Mark Bagley

Two Moons #1
Image Comics
Written by John Arcudi
Art by Valerie Giangiordano

Future State: House of El #1
DC Comics
Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by Scott Godlewski

Future State: Aquaman #2
DC Comics
Written by Brandon Thomas
Art by Daniel Sampere

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2
DC Comics
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Riley Rossmo

Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #2
DC Comics
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Steve Pugh

Future State: Suicide Squad #2
DC Comics
Written by Robbie Thompson, Jeremy Adams
Art by Javier Fernandez, Fernando Pasarin

Future State: Dark Detective #4
DC Comics
Written by Mariko Tamaki, Joshua Williamson
Art by Dan Mora, Giannis Milonogiannis

Future State: Batman/Superman #2
DC Comics
Written by Gene Luen Yang
Art by Scott McDaniel, Ben Oliver & Steven Segovia

The Department of Truth #6
Image Comics
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Elsa Charretier

Faith #1
BOOM! Studios
Written by Jeremy Lambert
Illustrated by Eleonora Carlini

X-Men #18
Marvel
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mahmud Asrar

Something is Killing the Children #15
BOOM! Studios
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Werther Dell’edera

Nailbiter Returns #10
Image Comics
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Mike Henderson

Firefly #26
BOOM! Studios
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Pius Bak

Crossover #4
Image Comics
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Geoff Shaw

Skulldigger: Skeleton Boy #6
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Tonci Zonjic

Ice Cream Man #23
Image Comics
Written by W. Maxwell Prince
Art by Martín Morazzo

Crimson Flower #2
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Matt Kindt
Art by Matt Lesniewski

Post Americana #3
Image Comics
Story and Art by Steve Skroce

You Look Like Death #6
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Gerard Way
Art by Shaun Simon

The Scumbag #5
Image Comics
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Wes Craig

Rain Like Hammers #2
Image Comics
Written and art by Brandon Graham

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Full Episode Transcript

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

Justin:              I’m Justin.

Pete:                I’m Pete.

Alex:                 And on The Stack, we talk about a bunch of books that have come out this week, or do we? Or do we?

Justin:              Way to create some intrigue. That’s right.

Alex:                 Because the first book that we’re going to talk about is a book that doesn’t come out until next week, but we’re going to do a spoiler-free review of it. It is-

Justin:              A preview review.

Alex:                 Preview review. It is Berserker #1 from BOOM! Studios, written by none other than Keanu Reeves and Matt Kindt, illustrated by Ron Garney.

Pete:                Oh, no wonder.

Justin:              I’ve been following Keanu Reeves’s comic book work for a long time, and it’s great to see just a brand-new book with his name on it.

Alex:                 Yeah. It was great.

Pete:                That was driving me fucking crazy. I did not notice that he wrote this.

Alex:                 Wait. Really?

Pete:                That’s hilarious. Yeah. I was like-

Alex:                 You were like “Oh, it looks like Keanu Reeves in this book?”

Pete:                … “Why does the guy look so much like fucking Keanu Reeves?” Oh, that’s hilarious.

Alex:                 Well, I mean, I got to say, I mean, who knows how much he was sitting down at his typewriter being like “Scene one. Berserker. Open on me”? But a lot of times, I feel like there are these insert-style comics that just don’t work. They’re star vehicles. They’re trying to set up a movie, and they just … They’re not comics. They’re pitch sheets, and that’s pretty much it. That’s not what this is at all. Not only do you have Ron Garney’s phenomenal art throughout-

Pete:                Yeah.

Justin:              I love Ron Garney, and I feel like he hasn’t been doing enough stuff lately. So it’s great to see his work here.

Alex:                 So that’s great, but also you got Matt Kindt, who knows his way around an intrigue storyline, a sci-fi storyline. Again, we’re going to skirt spoilers but not get into any here. But even though the main character is clearly Keanu Reeves, this is a really interesting sci-fi story. It’s a great action story. A lot of times, they just step back and let Ron Garney do his thing. I was very surprised and very impressed by this book.

Justin:              Yeah. It’s one of those books that when you’re reading the first bit of it, it’s like “I see what this is,” and then by the end you’re like “I was completely wrong. It’s totally different, and I am excited by where it landed.”

Alex:                 Pete?

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, I’ve been reminded numerous times not to give away anything, but man, that ending. Am I right? Oh, shit. No, but yeah. The art and action is phenomenal. This is definitely in my wheelhouse, less dialogue, more action. Come on.

Alex:                 It’s really good stuff. I mean, this is already a huge selling comic book. I think they sold 600,000 copies, making it the best-selling original property comic book in like five years or a decade or something like that. I’m forgetting what the exact stat is.

Pete:                Wait. It hasn’t come out yet. What are you even talking about?

Alex:                 Well, the way comics book work, Pete, is that people pre-order them through their comic book shops in order to guarantee that they’re going to be there. So that’s what they’ve been doing. So they sold that many copies to comic book shops. So obviously, big deal. People are really excited. The thing that I think is not a happy accident, but happy surprise about it, is that they’re going to get what they paid for. They’re going to get a good, very cool comic book. So I’m excited for everybody to check it out when it hits stands next week.

Justin:              Exactly. Next week. If you love The Lake House, you’re going to love Berserker.

Alex:                 I’m sending that directly to BOOM! Studios. That’s their pull quote.

Justin:              Two great Keanu [crosstalk 00:03:36].

Pete:                I don’t know if I’ve seen that, but okay.

Justin:              It’s not a spoiler when I say the mail is in the mailbox with this comic.

Alex:                 Hold on. Hold on. Let me try this.

Pete:                Oh, my god.

Alex:                 If you love Always Be My Maybe, check out Berserker #1 from BOOM! Studios.

Pete:                Wow. Wow.

Justin:              The comic book club bump is coming for Berserker right now.

Alex:                 Has he done any other movies, Keanu Reeves?

Justin:              Keanu Reeves? I can’t think of any.

Pete:                A ton. A ton of movies.

Justin:              Well, there was Bill and Ted’s Excellent Lake House.

Pete:                Right.

Alex:                 Bill and Ted’s Excellent Always Be My Maybe.

Justin:              Yep. There’s that. I think that’s the whole thing.

Alex:                 I think that’s it. Anyway, this book is great. Definitely pick it up if you haven’t, or pre-order it if you haven’t already. Next up, here’s a book that’s actually out this week, Stray Dogs #1 from Image Comics, written by Tony Fleecs, art by Trish Forstner. So this is about, as you can tell from the title, it’s not like stray … I honestly thought, because it was an Image book and it was called Stray Dogs, and it’s like “What’s up? We’re a bunch of criminals called the Stray Dogs.” No. It’s literally stray dogs. There’s still a crime element. There’s still a mystery element, but I was surprised about this. I’m curious to hear what Pete thought in particular.

Justin:              Yes.

Pete:                All right. So first-

Justin:              Because he’s a cat guy. He’s a cat guy. So-

Pete:                Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. But I saw that cover, and I was like “Oh, this is going to fucking break my heart,” and it did. It’s got some feels in this thing, and I was really impressed with the story. I thought maybe it was just going to be cute dogs, which would have been fine, but yeah. I thought it really ended well. It sets up this whole arc. I’m impressed with this, and I can’t wait for more. I’m really on board here.

Justin:              This book also surprised me, and I did … The last third of it is so good. They assemble like an Avengers: Endgame level group of mid-period Disney dogs here. This is like your Fox and the Hounds, your 101 Dalmatians, your Lady and the Tramps. They’re all here, and I don’t think we want to spoil it, maybe, but I think there’s going to be some bad dogs in here. There’s going to be some good girls and some bad dogs.

Pete:                Oh, my god. Love it.

Alex:                 Yeah. Good stuff. Again, a nice surprise. Let’s move on with our next book, and I’m going to tell you what it is, and then I’m going to give you a little peek behind the curtain here. Okay? So our next book, before the shouting begins, is The Amazing Spider-Man #60.

Pete:                Oh, fuck you.

Justin:              Oh, no.

Alex:                 Hold up. Written by Nick Spencer, pencils by Mark Bagley. Now, we’ve been talking a lot about Amazing Spider-Man, the Last Remains storyline, this whole thing about Kindred, this villain that turns out to be Harry Osborn, who’s been [inaudible 00:06:18] Spider-Man in the background.

Pete:                But-

Alex:                 Hold on. Let me just finish what I’m saying, and then I’m going to allow you to shout, Pete. But I think we kind of agreed that it sort of started to fizzle at a certain point. They’re dragging out the Kindred reveal for too long. I’ve still been reading it. I’ve been reading each issue because I like Spider-Man and I enjoy reading it, but I haven’t felt like … We don’t need to talk about the same story [inaudible 00:06:43] again and again. So before I set down the stack for this week with the choices of issues, particularly Marvel, I was like “Well, let me just read and see what happens in Spider-Man,” because the cover of this is Mary Jane and Peter surrounded by the centipedes from Kindred, and I read this book, and I was like “Oh, we got to talk about this.”

Justin:              Yes.

Alex:                 We have to talk about this, because I want to hear Pete shout. Go ahead, Pete.

Pete:                Okay. So first off, to kind of peek behind the curtain a little bit, Zalben has been pushing the envelope for how many fucking comics we talk about, and he sends out this ridiculous list that we have to read all these comics.

Alex:                 Nobody is forcing you to do that.

Pete:                Hey. I love reading comics, but I got a full-time job. We got other stuff going on, and he keeps pushing the number. He said “Oh, we’ll cap it at 20.”

Alex:                 I never said that.

Pete:                Hasn’t been capped at 20 in a long time.

Alex:                 I never said that.

Pete:                So then he gives us this giant fucking list, and then goes “Oh, two more,” and guess what one of the fucking two is. Amazing Spider-Man, and I was like “You motherfucker. Always pushing.”

Justin:              This is not the shout I expected to hear, just FYI.

Alex:                 Not at all.

Justin:              Imagine tiny-

Alex:                 [crosstalk 00:07:50].

Justin:              Imagine-

Pete:                I was saying that “Oh, there has to be a reason he pushed this,” like “Oh, just these two Marvel. No big deal. We’re just going to just do two Marvel because we got so many other comics,” and I knew. I knew Spider-Man had to be a fucking doozy. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have fucking pushed it through, and yeah, and here we go again. Here we fucking go again. You want to open a fucking wound and fucking relive some nightmares? Well, guess what. We got fucking Mephisto, and it’s going to fucking relive some god damn nightmares.

Justin:              Here’s the thing though, Pete. First off, let me say, imagine little Pete LePage, Petey, as we call him-

Pete:                No.

Justin:              … dreaming of his future as an adult, and your biggest complaint right now is that your friend is making you read too many comics? Little Petey LePage would drive his little big wheel right into a brick wall if he heard that.

Alex:                 “You’re telling me this is my job?” I mean, well, let’s not go that far.

Justin:              Well, not technically a job, but it’s like-

Pete:                You get paid to do a job, asshole. All right?

Alex:                 That’s what I’m saying.

Pete:                We’re not … Yeah. So I do have a job where I work and get paid, and then we go this out of the love of our hearts, and then one person keeps fucking pushing the envelope by overloading us.

Justin:              I love comics. I would read more. Give me more.

Alex:                 I agree, and to clarify, we said we would cap it at 50 to 75 books a week, tops.

Justin:              Let’s talk about this Spider-Man book, because let me see-

Alex:                 No. I don’t think so. Can you also give us a peek behind the curtain, Justin?

Justin:              Yeah.

Pete:                Yeah. Give us a peek behind the curtain, Justin.

Justin:              Sorry. The only curtain I’m behind is a shower curtain, and it’s sheer. It’s invisible. I’m nude in front of you all, all the time. I’m [crosstalk 00:09:33].

Pete:                Gross.

Justin:              Just a little imagery to preface this review. So this book though, Pete … It’s got Peter and Mary Jane being as close as they’ve been in a decade.

Pete:                Yeah, and then it does the classic bullshit where Peter leaves and then Mary Jane’s got some weird shit going on with the villain.

Justin:              Well, here’s the thing. To your point, Alex, I actually didn’t really like a lot of the lead up to the reveals here. I feel like Nick Spencer used to have a really good Spider-Man and a really good Peter Parker. It felt like it was back to the very core of the character, struggling to get by, has a bunch of roommates that he shouldn’t be hanging out with, messing up all the time, and now it’s like it’s so sentimental. It’s this sort of sanctimonious Peter Parker that we see a lot over the course of the years, but it’s not the fun Peter Parker, and it’s too melodramatic for me, and then by the end of it, I was excited about the reveal at the end of the book and even the stuff that Pete’s talking about with the villain. At least that’s interesting, because this Peter Parker’s not a person I’m loving right now.

Alex:                 Well, and that’s the point of the book, right? I think they’re taking a really long time to get around to it, but what is nice about this issue is it feels like one of those classic Ultimate Spider-Man issues that Brian Michael Bendis would do, where it’s just a conversation, and in this case, it’s Peter talking to Mary Jane. She’s trying to help him through the stuff he’s going through, and he says exactly what you’re talking about, where he’s like “Why is my life like this? Why am I still in this place that I’m in? What is going on here?” and by the end … Spoiler, but we’ve already spoiled it. The revelation is it’s probably Mephisto all over again fucking with Peter Parker’s life. Probably, there’s no way around. If they don’t loop back to One More Day at this point, I don’t know what he’s doing in this storyline, but that’s fascinating to me, what direction they’re going in. It’s nerveracking, but it’s fascinating.

Pete:                Yeah. Well, I’m not fascinated, but I did really like the part of MJ talking about this exercise that helps you kind of work through shit, and I thought that was very cool to have a superhero kind of do a therapy exercise and be like “Hey. Therapy’s okay. It’s okay to talk about your feelings in a safe space and get it out and see what it feels like to say these things out loud.” I thought that was very powerful and very cool, but then you got to fucking ruin it with Mephisto shit, and it’s like, either we’re moving on and that bullshit happened and somehow we have to live with it and move forward, or you better fucking undo that bullshit and then we can get back to our lives. Fucking make a choice, man, because I’m sick of this shit.

Alex:                 All right. Well, let’s move on to Two Moons #1 from Image Comics, written by John Arcudi, art by Valerio Giangiordano. This is set in the Civil War following a soldier who starts seeing some demons or something. We’re not 100 percent sure what’s going on, but the art in here is terrifying and scary.

Pete:                He sees the monster from Critters is what it looks like.

Alex:                 But it’s just somebody’s head, to be clear.

Justin:              Yeah. He’s got a critter on his head.

Pete:                Yeah. It’s a critter head.

Alex:                 Classic critter head. Yeah. Yeah.

Justin:              You guys both sort of felt like you were saying something that you shouldn’t be saying, for a second.

Alex:                 I mean, in my family, when I grew up, we were never supposed to say critter head.

Justin:              Yeah. Say it three times, and then you have yourself a critter head. I like this book as well. This was a good sort of scary story in a time we don’t see very much, especially from this perspective.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, the art’s really unbelievable. This is a very interesting story. It’s also the take about the nurse getting upset about the fact that when you run out of ammunition, they’ll use whatever scraps of metals they can, and then kind of her reaction is very interesting and very intense. So I think this is a really kind of interesting, original idea set in a shitty time period.

Alex:                 Sure. There you go. Couldn’t disagree with that. Let’s move on to our Future State block, as we’ve been doing all the past couple of weeks, talking about everything that’s come out from Future State. I’ll list the books, and then we’ll talk about some of our highlights. We’ve got House of El #1, Aquaman #2, Legion of Superheroes #2, Superman vs. Imperious Lex #2, Suicide Squad #2, Dark Detective #4, and Batman/Superman #2, and to give you a little peek behind the curtain here, it’s interesting that Pete was complaining about too many titles being in our stack, because at least the past two weeks we’ve talked about the Future State block, Pete has read extra titles from DC and then talked about them on the show.

Justin:              Yeah, and dropped them in.

Alex:                 There you go. So Pete, any extra titles you want to talk about here?

Pete:                No. No, but if we would like to peek behind the curtain, I think you’re a piece of shit.

Alex:                 All right. That’s fine.

Justin:              Again, here’s me, nude behind a very crystal-clear sheer curtain.

Alex:                 Pete, what jumped out at you? What did you like this week?

Pete:                All right. Well, I liked a lot of things, but the one book I didn’t want to like, but then the sappy ending kind of got me in the feels, was the House of El #1. Sometimes we get in the house of stuff. I don’t know.

Justin:              Yeah. You don’t like houses.

Pete:                Yeah. I don’t like houses. I don’t like the kind of historical Superman shit where everybody is talking about their logos and all the weird shit. It doesn’t get me excited, but I was really impressed with this book because I read it like “Harumph. I don’t want to like you,” and then it won me over. I would say one of my favorites was Batman/Superman-

Justin:              Here. Wait. Can we talk about that real quick?

Pete:                Sure. Sure.

Justin:              Sorry. Sorry, but I loved this book. I know I feel like I’ve been on a Phillip Kennedy Johnson love fest, but man, this is another great book by him that is just a hundred percent fun. It’s mixing a lot of the stuff he does in The Last God with a Superman-focused version of the Legion, and it reads like just a great Legion book with all these different version of Superman kin that are out there trying to just save the world and maintain their household and mix in with these sort of light fantasy elements. It’s just a great book.

Alex:                 Pete, what about you? You were about to call out Dark Detective, I believe.

Pete:                Well, I have been enjoying that, and yes, I did love Dark Detective #4. Very intense. I love this no more shadows, like “Oh, shit. What does that mean?” Also, great backup story. I thought this was a very intense, cool Batman book. I’m very excited to see where this goes. Anybody else want to jump in on this one?

Alex:                 Yeah. Sure. Was that not the one you were going to call out? I thought that’s what you started saying.

Pete:                No. It was Batman/Superman #2.

Alex:                 Oh, okay. Sorry to put you on the spot there, but I do really like the backup. We talked about this last time, this Joshua Williamson and Giannis Milonogiannis, and they’re doing basically Red Hood, but Akira, and it’s super fun. I had a blast reading that. But you want to talk about Future State Batman/Superman #2?

Justin:              Real quick.

Alex:                 Oh, yeah.

Justin:              It’s very funny seeing the Red Hood hood on him, where it just goes right to the … It’s just such a weird looking thing, but this has been one of the best version of Bruce Wayne that I feel like we’ve seen in Batman comics in a long time, this Dark Detective series.

Pete:                Yeah. Yeah. It’s really cool. But Batman/Superman #2, really unbelievable action. I really am loving the kind of mystery and the kind of who-done-it with this team up. I love it when Batman and Superman get along, but I also like it when they fight, and I feel like this was a really cool, great kind of fight between Superman and Batman, and I thought this was really cool.

Alex:                 Yeah. It’s a good book as well. For me, man, it’s tough. Again, a very good week for books from Future State. All of this stuff has been really good. It’s a little bit of a tie. There’s one that eked it out a little bit more. Future State Superman vs. Imperious Lex #2 is kind of my number two here, written by Mark Russell, art by Steve Pugh. Super fun. Great Lois Lane in this book. As usual, just hilarious and pointed satire from Mark Russell. So really enjoyed that book, but the one for me that killed it was Aquaman #2.

Justin:              A hundred percent. That was mine.

Pete:                Yeah. That’s what I was going to … Yeah.

Alex:                 Everybody was leading up to that, written by Brandon Thomas, art by Daniel Sampere. Again, like I said with the first issue, I am not an Aquaman fan. I don’t usually like an Aquaman story. This is god damn amazing, and if you didn’t tune in to the first book, the first issue of the book, it was all about this confluence of oceans from the universe that former Aqualad, now Aquaman, and Aqualass, who by the end of the book, spoiler, is Aquawoman, have gotten trapped in. They get separated. Aquaman is imprisoned most of the last book and then finally finds out that Aqualass is alive at the end, and then we loop back and find out what happened with her. The action is so big. Everything that happens is so emotional and creative. I was blown away.

Justin:              I agree. This book was so good. Of all the books in Future State that I would want to replace the main title going forward, it’s this. I want to see these characters going forward and seeing where they go next, because it’s so good.

Pete:                The let go moment was so nice.

Justin:              Yeah.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, I don’t know how cool a water leg would be, but man, they really sold it in this book.

Alex:                 It’s a fish leg. It’s not a water leg. It’s a fish leg.

Pete:                Oh, okay. My bad.

Justin:              I mean, a fish leg would be much worse, because that shit … You’ve only got like two days max on that things.

Pete:                Before it starts smelling?

Alex:                 Yeah.

Justin:              Yeah.

Alex:                 Don’t microwave it. Not in the office. That’s all I’m saying.

Justin:              Oh, definitely.

Alex:                 That would be gross.

Justin:              [crosstalk 00:19:49] case of scallop-

Alex:                 All right. Let’s move on and talk about some other books.

Justin:              One last thing I want to shout out.

Alex:                 Oh, yeah. Please.

Justin:              We didn’t talk about Legion of Superheroes #2. Want to shout out Riley Rossmo’s art on this. I’d love to see a Legion book with Riley drawing it.

Alex:                 Absolutely. Moving on, one of your favorites, Justin, The Department of Truth #6 from Image Comics, written by James Tynion IV, art by Elsa Charretier.

Justin:              Oh, what an accent.

Alex:                 This is a switch up of artists for the book-

Pete:                Yeah. I was going to say.

Alex:                 … and also a switch up of time periods, as we jump back in time and find out the origins of The Department of Truth. This is a awesome issue that continues, personally, to remind me of a vintage Vertigo book, where it’d be like five issues, take a break, show us some times passed thing, and then go forward with the ongoing story. So good.

Justin:              So good. This book is doing just such a great job of fleshing out the world of the series sort of slowly and really easing into it, and this book does a great job of sort of bringing into focus in the sort of micro with the flashback story. It’s sort of a double flashback. We flashback to right after the Kennedy assassination, and then flashback to Doubting Thomas and sort of the origin of rewriting the world with a new truth, and this book is one of my favorites on the stand right now. If this were a religion, I would believe in it.

Alex:                 Wow.

Pete:                Oh, shit. Wow.

Justin:              I’m not a religious guy, but this is the closest. I’m like “I could buy this. I could buy this fully across the board.”

Pete:                Wow. That is crazy. I think it’s really impressive that this book can look so different from kind of book to book and still feel like a part of the same story. It’s really impressive what they’re pulling off here creatively, artistically. They’re taking some big swings at some big ideas, and they are killing it. It’s really impressive. Yeah. The paneling, the art, the way this story flows. This is a really, really impressive book that is tripping me the fuck out.

Alex:                 This employs a technique that I usually hate in storytelling, but it completely works here, where they have a story in a story in a story. In this book, Lee Harvey Oswald, who in our current time is the head of The Department of Truth goes to his first day there, finds out the origin, so you have one … I think this is the reason it works is the art style changes with each level of the story, where it goes back in time, he’s reading the origin of the story of The Department of Truth, and then one of the characters in the story starts telling the story to the other character, and then the art style changes again. It’s just these multiple layers that feel very purposeful versus the usual accidental employment of that technique. Fantastic book. Definitely pick it up.

Alex:                 Let’s move on and talk about Faith #1 from BOOM! Studios, written by Jeremy Lambert, illustrated by Eleonora Carlini. This is a weird book that I was no expecting-

Justin:              This is a weird book.

Alex:                 … that follows Faith as she’s trapped in a movie theater, and there’s some Watchers watching her, strange stuff going on. What’d you guys think of this one?

Pete:                Yeah. It’s fantastic art. It was a little confusing because we kind of had this shadowy figure behind the main character. So I was having a hard time follow what’s happening, because I was so worried about her present, in-the-movie-theater self. So it was hard to kind of let go of that and follow the story, but yeah. This is interesting. Unbelievable art. Some great action. I’m not quite sure what’s happening though.

Justin:              Yeah. I mean, I agree. Really expressive art, I thought was … There were so many good little horror moments, and Faith’s reactions throughout are great. I don’t know much about Faith in the background. I don’t have faith.

Alex:                 You got to have faith.

Justin:              Yeah. That’s the thing.

Pete:                The faith, the faith, the faith.

Justin:              But I believe in the comic book we just talked about before this one. So yeah. I didn’t know much about the character, but it was a good read.

Alex:                 Yeah. Moving on, X-Men #18 from Marvel, written by Johnathan Hickman, art by Mahmud Asrar. Give you a little peek behind the curtain. I felt like Pete would be pretty mad about Amazing Spider-Man. This one involves Laura, Wolverine, which Pete likes a lot. So I thought this would be kind of like a gimme, like balance the scales a little bit. So this is as three of the X-Men characters wander into a weird future place, as they usually do in this run of X-Men. What’d you think about this one?

Justin:              The Vault.

Pete:                Well, I’m curious about something. So why is she called Wolverine now? You know what I mean? I know Wolverine died for a little bit, and I know she was X-23, and that’s cool, but then when they were referring to her as Wolverine, I was like “Why? What’s-“

Justin:              Well, because Wolverine doesn’t … He’s on the moon popping something else besides claws. So he’s not really …

Pete:                You don’t have to be an asshole when I ask a question. You could just answer it.

Justin:              I mean, I think there’s some truth to that.

Alex:                 There’s more than on person named Pete.

Justin:              Wow.

Pete:                Yeah. Yeah.

Justin:              That’s true.

Pete:                Got that, and there’s also more than one person named Pete LePage, but what’s your fucking point?

Alex:                 My point is, when I search for Pete LePage, the other one comes up.

Pete:                Okay. So it’s okay that she’s called Wolverine is what you’re saying?

Alex:                 Yeah. It’s fine. It’s not a problem.

Justin:              I like it. I like her as a character. I like her as the Wolverine. I think Logan can just be Logan now, and he can go do all of his Logan stuff.

Pete:                That’s cool. I just didn’t know. I was like “Maybe I missed something,” like the passing of the Wolverine mantle or whatever. I love X-23. I have no problem with her being Wolverine. I was just like “Oh, they’re straight just calling her Wolverine now.”

Justin:              Well, I think they’re both called Wolverine. I think it’s just like they’re both Wolverines. There’s no reason to differentiate.

Pete:                Then I was like “Is Wolverine a title of the fucking muscle when you going on …” I don’t know. I was just wondering if maybe I’d missed something that you guys knew about, but usually, as usual, I ask you something and you just make fun of me. So all right.

Alex:                 Oh, Pete.

Justin:              I’m not making fun of you. We’re explaining an important plot point in the X-Men universe right now that Wolverine fucks in the moon.

Pete:                Cool. Cool.

Alex:                 It did stand out to me too, to be totally-

Justin:              The gravity’s only one-sixth. So he’s floating a little bit. You know what I’m talking about?

Alex:                 To be totally fair, it stood out to me too as son as they called her Wolverine, and then I was like “All right. They’re calling her Wolverine,” and I kind of moved on from there rather than sticking with it. This is a good story. It’s crazy that they introduce this whole villain team to eliminate them in one issue, but that’s classic Johnathan Hickman at this point.

Justin:              Well, these guys have been around. The Vault was introduced a while ago. In fact, I feel like Hickman is oddly … He keeps sort of edging on the Vault. He’s like “Look. The Vault. Watch out for them,” and then in this issue, they go in there and wreck shit. So it’s weird what’s happening here. I thought this issue was great. This issue reads like an annual standalone issue where they’re just like “Let’s have a fun mission,” and it’s a great tactical mission. I love Darwin and Synch. Great. It’s all so smartly done, but I think, in general, I’m like “What’s the next move here with the X-Men?” and there are no clues. It’s hard to read the tea leaves.

Alex:                 No. It’s definitely the sort of thing that I think we’re going to look back at it in 15 to 30 years when Johnathan Hickman is done with this run and be like “Okay.”

Pete:                Yeah. “Oh.”

Alex:                 “I get it it.”

Pete:                “I see now.” Yeah. Yeah, but-

Justin:              “Oh, The Vault.”

Pete:                The art’s amazing, and the kind of thinking-man Sentinel thing was really awesome to kind of see as well. Yeah. I think it was really cool to kind of like “Oh, we’re going to send you on this mission. You guys sweep the Vault,” and you’re like “Okay. No big deal. How long will that take?” and then they realize a Vault is a whole fucking city. Pretty cool kind of “How are we going to do this?” moment. I don’t know how any of this makes sense, but I thought it was a cool issue.

Alex:                 I agree. I’m glad to hear that too, Pete, because you’ve been very down on the X-Men. Let’s move on and talk about another James Tynion book, Something is Killing the Children #15 from BOOM! Studios, written by James Tynion IV, art by Werther Dell’Edera. Justin, I’m curious to hear from you because this is the end of the story that they’ve been telling for 15 issues at this point. They wrap things up. They leave things open for the next story, but that’s kind of where we are, and you’ve been very back and forth about it. So how do you feel about this as a whole?

Justin:              James Tynion’s a great storyteller, but I guess I still have the same feeling where I’m like “Oh, that was the whole story.” I thought there was going to be, I guess, more of a crescendo in here. I like all of the storytelling. The art in this book is fantastic. The eating of gummy worms has never been so gross.

Pete:                Oh, man. Yeah.

Alex:                 Maybe you want some gummy worms, I’ll tell you what.

Pete:                Yeah. You’re so creepy, dude.

Justin:              Yeah, but you see regular worms, you’re like “Yum, yum, gummy.”

Alex:                 Put those in my mouth. Give me some of those sweet dirt dudes. That’s what I call them.

Justin:              But yeah. That’s my-

Pete:                I don’t know. This felt like a ending that wasn’t an ending. It felt like an ending that’s like there is a bigger story to tell here-

Justin:              For sure.

Pete:                … and hopefully they will get to tell it, because this is a really great world. I’ve loved every single issue of this. Art’s unbelievable. Love the character designs, and this cool … I feel like this is what our life is going to be like eventually. Since we’re all going to be wearing masks, it’s going to be just down to what does your mask say, and that’s your gang affiliation or your kind of tribe, if you will. So I feel like this is a book of the future before we even know it.

Alex:                 It’s surprising to me because a lot of this specific issue was them talking about houses, which you’ve already got on record as not liking in this very podcast.

Justin:              Yeah. This guy hates houses. You want to see the apartment of El, the condo of El.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 Nailbiter Returns #10 from Image Comics, written by Joshua Williamson, art by Mike Henderson, another surprising ending for a series here as we wrap up Nailbiter returning with some big revelations for the series. How’d you feel about this one?

Pete:                I loved it. I thought this was a cool kind of end but also tease to the to-be-continued thing at the end. That was pretty neat, but I mean, you guys have kids. So you tell me. When you guys sit around the fire to tell stories, do their faces go blank like that? Is that a normal thing that happens?

Justin:              Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Pete:                Oh, man. That’s got to be tough.

Alex:                 Every parent knows that. When you’re about to have the kid in the hospital, they talk you through the birthing process. They also talk you through the fact that, hey, when you sit around a fire, kids are going to have no faces.

Pete:                Oh, wow. Well, I’m glad that you had the heads up on that, because as somebody who didn’t know that, that was pretty scary.

Justin:              Well, that’s because they’re listening so hard, and so the rest of their features just fade away because the ears are really the focus. It’s just using your resources.

Alex:                 This book was fun. I had a blast reading it. It’s definitely a big action movie versus the overall dark mystery that the first one was. Super fun, and I’m glad that they kept it to 10 issues and pretty much done, kept the story really focused. I had a good time.

Pete:                Yeah.

Justin:              I agree, and it really got into some dream logic dreaminess that I really appreciated throughout this whole series and in this issue as well.

Pete:                Also, it’s great for people who collect eyeballs, you know?

Alex:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Justin:              Yes, which I think we all do, and great nail biting. We got some biting of nails.

Alex:                 Good stuff.

Pete:                Finally got some nail biting in this one. Yeah.

Alex:                 Next up, Firefly #26 from BOOM! Studios, written by Greg Pak, art by Pius Bak. The last issue we called a fresh new start for Firefly. It was taking us after Serenity, the movie, moving us forward here. The cliffhanger at the end of the last issue was it looked like Wash was alive. Here, spoiler, not exactly. There’s a good twist on it. I loved the twist with Wash, actually, and I think this is a great … Without spoiling exactly what happens, this is a great way of pushing the story forward, and it feels like a tried-and-true sci-fi idea that’s going to pay really good dividends with the characters. I think it’s neat.

Justin:              It’s so-

Pete:                I’m going to go out … Oh, go ahead.

Justin:              You go.

Pete:                I was just going to say I’m going to out on a limb and just say Greg Pak is a fucking phenomenal writer. He makes great choices. I’ve just not yet read something from him and not been impressed by it. Even though we knew what kind of happened, the whole thing needed to be explained to us. I was really impressed. I thought this was a fun book. Amazing art. Really cool.

Justin:              How is it on that limb, Pete? Because I feel like you’ve been out on the Pak limb for years.

Pete:                Yeah. Yeah. It’s just me out here. Loving the Pak.

Justin:              I think your parents conceived you out on the Pak limb, and you’ve just been birthed there. Your parents heard about the facelessness around the fire, out on the limb, and now here you are, still living on the limb.

Pete:                Nothing like limb living.

Justin:              Limb living. I think it’s so smart that they did a long story in the past. It was great. Greg Pak really understands the characters and really put them out there, and then to jump forward in time where we get to sort of collect them again is super fun. Well done.

Alex:                 Yeah. I agree. Next up, Crossover #4 from Image Comics, written by Donny Cates, art by Geoff Shaw. In this issue, we’re picking up with our adventurers who met Madman, the character, from Mike Allred and Laura Allred, last issue. He is going to help them get inside the dome that has covered Denver, I believe, if I remember correctly, and locked in a bunch of comics characters. We again get a bunch of cameos and fun stuff in this issue. We also get some shout outs to Donny Cates and, I believe, Geoff Shaw’s own work as well. This is great. This is a blast to read, and even Donny Cates self inserting himself here is super fun.

Justin:              I mean, it’s great to see Madman in action. That guy can yo.

Alex:                 Yeah. Yo, yo. Pete, you got to be happy. There is a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in this issue.

Pete:                Oh, yeah. You got to love that. I also impressed with the art here, because it has the kind of dot, kind of old-timey kind of comic book style, which is really interesting with Madman, with kind of more vibrant characters as well. It’s just really cool to see them all standing in a room. So I’m glad we got that moment. The kind of torture shit freaked me out a little bit, but man, really great story. Fun stuff.

Alex:                 Good stuff. Next up, Skulldigger Skeleton Boy #6 from Dark Horse Comics, written by Jeff Lemire, art by Tonci Zonjic. We’ve been talking about a lot of the Black Hammer books. We kind of missed this one in terms of reviewing. So I figured it was worth catching up with the last issue here. I’ll tell you what. I … This is all me … forgot about Tonci Zonjic. Amazing artist.

Justin:              Yeah. Great art.

Alex:                 I was so happy to read this again. I was like “Oh, my god. I’m sorry I forgot you. You’re so good.”

Pete:                Yeah.

Justin:              Yeah. It’s so dynamic. It almost has a little Darwyn Cooke to it, but a little bit of just great, I don’t know, Greg Capullo style action. Really good, and the story was great. I feel like the Black Hammer universe is just prime time right now.

Pete:                Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I agree. The panels, the layout, the way the action flows. Really, really fun and impressive, but also some really touching moments, like the look on the kid’s face. They just keep just showing the kid’s face, so different in each panel in the way that it’s just kind of colored. Really impressive, the way they can kind of show emotion through this still panel here. Yeah. I was just really kind of moved by this. I thought it was a really solid issue.

Justin:              The last page, which is almost like an epilogue to the book, just a standalone splash page, was so emotional and great.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 We’re not really talking about the plot here, because we didn’t read the previous five. This is the last issue, but the fact that they can get across enough of the emotion and story in one issue that is the last one to people who have not read the previous five is very impressive.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 Next up, let’s talk about it, Ice Cream Man #23-

Pete:                Oh, here we go.

Alex:                 … from Image Comics, written by W. Maxwell Prince, art by Martín Morazzo. I know Pete is scared of this one.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 Yeah?

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 So another standalone issue of Ice Cream Man, as a lot of them are, mind you, but in this one, it’s text pages interspersed with splash pages of essentially our main character, the Ice Cream Man, going on a talk show with a bunch of animals, until a snake bites the shit out of the talk show host’s face. The thing that is so terrifying about this is the text pages takes place after it. So you’re reading the story of the horrific things that happen to him, and you’re like “Oh, we’re going to see this. We’re going to see this at some point. It’s coming. It’s coming. It’s coming-“

Pete:                I was like “Don’t show me. Don’t. You wrote about-“

Alex:                 “… It’s coming. It’s going to happen,” and the entire issue, and finally they pulled the lid off, and it’s great. Another incredible one-shot issue of Ice Cream Man. Not enough good things to say about this book.

Justin:              I feel like W. Maxwell Prince is just sitting at home tactically trying to break down how to engineer scares in the paper and the printed medium. It’s wild that he is able to continue to find new ways to stress us the fuck out.

Pete:                That’s what’s so impressive about this is each comic is so different but has that same tension, and they’ve done so many different creative ways to scare the shit out of us, and you think “All right. Well, how’s this going to stack up? It can’t be as great as the last issue.” It continues to deliver. Unbelievable, and I don’t know. It seems like shots fired at Jimmy Fallon in these, but this is a crazy book that made me read, and I don’t want to read, and it’s still so well done I read and didn’t hate it.

Alex:                 It’s good stuff. Moving on to Crimson Flower #2 from Dark Horse Comics, written by Matt Kindt, art by Matt Lesniewski. Pete, you seem to like this book.

Pete:                Oh, my god.

Alex:                 This is about a bounty hunter, I guess, who is going crazy, something like that?

Pete:                Well, yeah. It’s about a lot of things, but it’s mainly about this person trying to get revenge, trying to find out who killed their father, I believe is what she’s freaking out about, and just the fact of she’s just driving angry, just chomping pills and half seeing reality, half seeing this tripped-out evil shit is really crazy but also very impressive what goes down, and then the whole fact of she’s not going to do well but keeps kind of playing this trickery and then kind of reveals, throughout, she’s telling a story within the story … I was just really impressed with this. Very creative. Very fun. Amazing art. Just really fun story.

Justin:              Yeah. I really liked this as well. It feels like fairy tale stories. She’s like a Little Red Riding Hood but who grew up to become an-

Pete:                A badass.

Justin:              … assassin out for revenge, who crosses over with some other dudes who are sort of giants, maybe, but also just shit-head other assassins. It’s really fun.

Pete:                What’s awesome is it starts off and it kind of reminds me a little bit of Locke & Key, the paneling and just the different kind of character designs, but then just kind of goes off into its own completely different thing, and yeah. I just think it really worked on a lot of levels.

Alex:                 Next-

Justin:              That art’s sort of reminiscent of … Sorry … of Black Hole.

Alex:                 Oh, yeah. I can see that.

Justin:              In a good way.

Alex:                 Next up, Post Americana #3 from Image Comics, story and art by Steve Steve Skroce. As we’ve been talking about with the last couple of issues of this book, this is a satirical, post-apocalyptic tale about a guy who’s kind of trying to save the world but mostly messing it up. Continues to be gross and funny in exactly the right way. I’m enjoying this book. I’m having a fun time reading it. How about you guys?

Justin:              I agree. The art, I feel like, really took a step up in this issue. We get a lot of close-ups on the characters, and it really … I think the earlier issues were a little wild, and it’s like cannibals fucking around. So it was a little loose. Everything really tightens up in this issue. We get a lot of back story, and I think the art mirrors that in a way that I thought was just very smart.

Pete:                Yeah. I agree. I think the art is great. There’s amazing action, and the story does tighten up, and things start to kind of make more sense, and we’re able to kind of follow things a little bit easier, which is great, but the classic … When somebody comes to visit unannounced, you almost kill them. So you really got to be careful when you go to somebody’s house, guys.

Justin:              Yeah. By the way, Pete, we’re coming to your house at 4:04. So put your ax down when we stop by.

Pete:                Yeah. You might want to text me, because I just want to not accidentally ax you.

Justin:              Ax-identally.

Alex:                 Ax-identally. Thanks for [crosstalk 00:42:27] audio podcast.

Justin:              It’ll work in court.

Pete:                Yeah. No problem.

Alex:                 You Look Like Death-

Justin:              Joke heard and acknowledged.

Alex:                 You Look Like Death #6 from Dark Horse Comics, written by Garard Way-

Pete:                You look like death.

Alex:                 … art by Shaun Simon. This is a tale from the Umbrella Academy. We are wrapping it up of Klaus’s time in Hollywood. It wraps back to the beginning. You had to love this, Pete, another mention of relish, your favorite topping.

Pete:                Well, I don’t know about that, but I do love the characters in this. Klaus is one of our favorites. So it’s just very kind of interesting to kind of see it in this kind of art style, and I’m just so used to the show. It’s almost weird to read the comic, but yeah. This is a really cool story, really fucked up. Spiders scare the fuck out of me. So this is kind of a nightmare, but yeah. This is just great Umbrella Academy fun.

Justin:              I love relish. I love-

Pete:                Really?

Justin:              Yeah. Relish is one of my favs.

Pete:                Have to have it on a hot dog? Or what’s up?

Justin:              A hundo percent.

Pete:                Really?

Justin:              Yeah. I’m a mustard-

Pete:                Get that shit away from my dog, bro.

Justin:              Mustard, relish. I’ll do sweet. I’ll do dill.

Pete:                Oh, wow.

Justin:              If you pickle anything, JT’s there. If you want me to pop by, pickle something, and this book is fun too.

Alex:                 Yes. It’s like the pickles of comic books. Moving on to the The Scumbag #5 from Image Comics, written by Rick Remender, art by Wes Craig. Get the old … Oh, my god … Deadly Class team back together again for this issue, so a switch up of the artist, but we’re still following the same old Scumbag as maybe he finally grows a little bit of a heart this issue. This is super fun. I really liked seeing Wes Craig’s take on this book in particular. I enjoyed that quite a bit. Yeah. This book is a blast. It’s fun to read.

Justin:              It’s very fun. The characters, our main characters … I love watching their relationship between the Scumbag, his handler, and the sex android who drives them around and refuses to have sex with him no matter how many times he asks. It’s all very fun stuff in that sort of reverent Remender tone.

Pete:                Yeah. I think what’s nice is I was getting a little tired of Scumbag being a scumbag. So it’s nice to see the Scumbag evolve a little bit so we can have somebody to root for in this, but man, Remender, dude. Holy shit. You think you’re like “Okay. I know what this is about.” Nah. He loves the twists and turns. He loves to keep you guessing, and then when you’re not ready, he’ll break your heart if you’re not careful, but man, guys, don’t listen to magical Christmas trees that smile way too much. All right?

Alex:                 Very fun bit though.

Justin:              Good advice.

Alex:                 Last but not least, Rain Like Hammers #2 from Image Comics, written and art by Brandon Graham. I’ll tell you what. I was very surprised to find out this was an anthology with this issue. That’s not what I was expecting.

Justin:              Well, I feel like a lot of Brandon Graham’s stuff are loose anthologies where there’s some connection, there’s a lot of tonal overlap and everything. I definitely like sort of the rules of the world are the same. Man, I love this book. Of any issue this week, this was the most just transporting book that I read. It’s so funny. It’s beautifully drawn. It’s so interesting. There’s just a ton of ideas at play here all the time. Great, great book. Can’t recommend this highly enough.

Alex:                 That’s it. If you can’t recommend us highly enough, then hey, support us on patreon.com/comicbookclub. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 PM to Crowdcast and YouTube. iTunes, Android, Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice to subscribe and listen to the show. @comicbooklive on Twitter. Comicbooklive.com for this podcast and many more.

Alex:                 Until next time, we’ll see you at the virtual comic book shop.

Justin:              Just pull back the curtain, and we’ll be right there, fully nude, as usual.

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