On this week’s comic book review podcast, we’ve got:
Beta Ray Bill #1
Written and art by Daniel Warren Johnson
Written by Joe Henderson
Art by Lee Garbett
The Other History of the DC Universe #3
Written by John Ridley
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Written by Maurene Goo
Art by Takeshi Miyazawa
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Geoff Shaw
Strange Adventures #9
Written by Tom King
Art by Mitch Gerards and Evan Shaner
Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing #1
Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Francesco Mobili
The Department of Truth #7
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Tyler Boss
The Flash #768
Written by Jeremy Adams
Art by Brandon Peterson, Marco Santucci, David Lafuente
Ghost Rider: King in Black #1
Written by Ed Brisson
Art by Juan Frigeri
Two Moons #2
Written by John Arcudi
Art by Valerio Giangiordano
Future State: Superman vs Imperious Lex #3
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Steve Pugh
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mike Huddleston
Written by Tom King
Art by Clay Mann
Full Episode Transcript:
Alex: What is up y’all? Welcome to The Stack. I’m Alex.
Pete: I’m Pete.
Alex: And on The Stack we talk about a bunch of books that have come out this week. Kicking it off with one I know that Pete is very excited about. Beta Ray Bill number one from Marvel comics, written and art by Daniel Warren Johnson. Now, D.W.J., As I like to call him, he is the creator of Murder Falcon, which is one of your favorite books ever.
Alex: I don’t know how you feel about Beta Ray Bill though. So how’d you feel about this book?
Pete: Well, yeah. I’m not the hugest Beta Ray Bill fan, but this was a lot of fun. This was really awesome. Art style [google 00:00:54] gave Beta Ray Bill a grittiness that was nice. Yeah, I very much enjoyed this. This was sad. This was not just badass Beta Ray Bill.
Alex: You okay? Did you die there for a second?
Pete: Yeah. There’s some real pain going on. And yeah. Also, Fin Fang Foom, one of my huge favorites in this as well. So, this was a real treat, this book. And the back matter is magical.
Alex: This very briefly and tangentially ties into the King in Black storyline, which has symbiotes attacking the Marvel universe here. They attack Asgard, Beta Ray Bill fights them off, kind of. And sparks up, or re-sparks up a little bit of a romance with Lady Sif. But I agree with you, as he did in Murder Falcon, he brings big action with big monsters, but also a deep well of emotion here. It’s very sad for Beta Ray Bill. Art is great, the writing is great, the emotion is great. I’m all in on this book. I am a sucker for Beta Ray Bill, and I think D.W.J. does right by him. So, I’m very excited to see this going forward. And like you said, there’s a great interview that he does with Walter Simonson in the back of the book, which is super cool as well.
Pete: Yeah. It’s nice to see him geek out about this and hear about New York in the seventies and the different kinds of people working on stuff. It was a pretty awesome interview that they put in the back and yeah. I mean, the art, the storytelling is really unbelievable, but Beta Ray Bill… Kind of a cursed character and they’re really tugging on that and playing with that. And he’s not cool with Thor. It’s not a fun relationship right now. So I’m glad they’re getting to air that out a little bit. I’m very interested to see how that all unfolds.
Alex: I agree. Next up, Shadecraft number one from Image comics written by Joe Henderson, art by Lee Garbett. In this new comic book, a girl finds out that shadows aren’t quite what they’re cracked up to be. It ties into an emotional thing from her past that you find out towards the end of the issue. I really liked the setup. I thought this was a good, fun horror book. The art from Lee Garbett was particularly good. The shadow creatures were interesting. I’m curious to see where this goes going forward, because it feels like it really gets to the setup by the end. But I’m in, what was your take Pete?
Pete: Yeah, I agree. I think the art and the storytelling is fantastic. Setting this up in a very interesting way. I really love the last page reveal twist. Very cool. And yeah, as this kid, I was scared shitless of… if you saw a shadow move by the… or a branch at the window or something. This really plays on that fear of moving shadows and how it’s hard, especially at night, to get away from shadows. I mean, that’s just… That’s tough.
Alex: I got to be honest, Pete, it sounds like that wasn’t just a problem when you were a kid.
Pete: I don’t think we have time to get into this, but-
Alex: No, Pete-
Pete: It’s a great book.
Alex: That’s been the long game on this podcast this whole time, is to finally get you to confront this fear that you have. Shadecraft number one, check it out. Next up, The Other History of the DC universe number three from DC comics. Written by John Ridley, art by Giuseppe Camuncoli. The first two issues have dealt with the black American experience in the background of the DC universe. Here, we’re dealing with the Asian American experience through the lens of Katana and her whole history. What did you think about this one, Pete?
Pete: This is very powerful, really amazing. I was very moved by it. I thought it was really done well. The storytelling is so powerful. The art… Yeah, just kind of the balance of these stanzas, these powerful stanzas, that really hit you versus the comic book art. Really creates this moving, powerful stuff that DC is doing with these books. I’ve been really enjoying this series. The Other History of the DC universe stuff has just been really impressive.
Alex: Giuseppe Camuncoli’s layouts in particular, are really excellent. John Ridley’s writing is great. It’s super, unfortunately, timely, given that we are discussing the Asian American experience and violence towards it, in particular, right now. But it’s a necessary-
Pete: Stop Asian hate.
Alex: Yeah, it’s a necessary read, like the other two issues of this book, but also very entertaining and weird in a certain way. I don’t know much about Katana’s history, necessarily. There are little bits here and there. I was like, “Oh yeah, I guess I do that kind of thing”. But what John Ridley is doing here is, like with X-Men: Grand Design, I think was the name of the book, he’s taking the entire history of the character and trying to make narrative sense out of it. Which is nearly impossible, but he does it here in a very emotional way. And that’s nice to see.
Pete: Yeah, Katana is one of my favorite characters. Always a big fan of Katana. So it was nice to see, all the different stories paid homage to, with this interesting narrative running throughout all of it. It was really well done.
Alex: Moving from one timely book to another, in a very different way. Silk number one from Marvel, written by Maureen Goo, art by Takeshi Miyazawa. This is a all-Asian team working on a Korean American superhero, which is something that I don’t think we’ve seen before for Silk, necessarily. I could be wrong. Nobody jump into my mentions if I got that incorrect. But at the very least, it’s great to see that, as Silk is in a new status quo here. Working for J. Jonah Jameson, at whatever his latest rag is. But I thought this was really fun. I don’t have too much affection, necessarily, for Silk as a character. I’m fine with her. She’s been fun before. There’s been some good storylines, but I thought this was a really nice, very clear setup with a good supporting cast. And I’m interested to see where it goes in issue two.
Pete: I completely agree. I feel like this is a great use of Silk, the character. I feel like they really do a great job of giving her a lot of fun action splash pages, as well as setting up a very cool, interesting story arc. And the fashion stuff is fun and pulled off well, and what’s not to like about sitting down to have tea with a giant cat like creature? I think this is a very interesting, cool book, and I’m excited to see where it goes
Alex: Next up: Crossover number five from image comics written by Donny Cates, art by Geoff Shaw. In this book, we’re getting towards the end of the first arc here, as Madman and Power… house. I don’t remember the name of the other team. Basically. It’s Donny Cates taking all of his books, mashing them up together with tangentially other books. They’re all heading towards this big dome where the crossover event has happened and it’s all coming down. What did you think about this issue?
Pete: Well, first off you got- bless you. You got Madman with a giant sword. So what’s not to love. This is-
Alex: A sword.
Pete: It’s a lot of action, it’s a lot of over-the-top stuff, but also, a lot of intense shit goes on here. Oh man, I don’t want to spoil anything, but man, it gets, it gets real dark, but-
Alex: I want to hear it. Spoiler warning. What was the thing that, you thought in particular, got really dark?
Pete: Where the guy shot the girl?
Alex: Oh, that hasn’t happened yet. That’s the cliff hanger at the end of the book. He hasn’t necessarily shot her.
Pete: Well… He’s crying. It says, “I can”. And it looks like it’s seconds before the bullet is released out of the chamber.
Alex: Yeah. Well, we’ll see what happens next issue, I guess.
Pete: Oh my God.
Alex: I guess we’ll see what happens. One thing that I really… that I thought was super fun in the book, is Donny has come up with this concept, where all of these different superheroes have been cut apart and mashed back together by scientists on Earth, quote-unquote. And they’re called amalgams, which is very funny to anybody who knows about the Amalgam universe. He’s having a blast here and it’s so creative and so fun. There’s a great splash page laid out that mashes up panels from God Country and Madman comics. Very neat. I liked it quite a bit.
Alex: Next up, Strange Adventures number nine, from DC comics written by Tom King, art by Mitch Gerads and Evan Shaner. Here, a report has come out about Adam Strange from the Justice League. Not exactly indicating that he is a villain, but certainly not precluding that fact. That’s what we’re dealing with here. As the Pykkt invasion of Earth continues and lots of questions swirl in the background. I’ll tell you what, I think we talked about this with an earlier issue. It’s interesting this is coming out now, but it seemed very clear to me that, at least tangentially, King is writing about the Mueller report in this issue. Did you get that sense as well?
Pete: I have no idea what’s going on and when it comes to King, ever. But it was crazy to see Superman and Batman in this issue.
Alex: So, this report comes out and it’s the vague sort of indictment that Mueller did in the heavily anticipated Mueller report. Where there were a lot of crimes mentioned, but ultimately there said, “Well, it’s up to the people who prosecute to do it”. Right. And that’s exactly what happens with Adam Strange here. It’s very interesting, particularly given now we’re past the Trump presidency, though, obviously not the aftereffects of it. To see him take Adam Strange and put him in that place. To the point… there’s a panel late in the issue where they zoom in on Adam Strange’s face on a TV screen and it looks almost exactly like Trump on the television. So that was kind of fascinating to me. I think it’s sort of part of the publishing schedule that has gotten pushed back so far. But I am curious to see where this hits on, given that it is skirting those ideas. You’re looking at me like I’m a crazy person right now.
Pete: I am looking at you like a crazy person, because we’re on issue number 9 of 12 and we still don’t know what the fuck is going on.
Pete: Nine issues deep.
Alex: I mean, that’s how a mystery works Pete.
Pete: Yeah, but let’s talk-
Alex: Unless it’s Columbo, in which case they reveal it first and then he figures out how it happens.
Pete: Okay. But, regardless, just thinking about how great of a writer you have to be that, for nine issues of a story, you have no fucking idea what’s going on. That is very impressive.
Alex: Well, I just got one more question for you, Pete.
Pete: Oh my God.
Alex: All right. Next up, Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing number one from Marvel. Written by Steve Orlando, art by Francesco Mobili. In this, we are getting a new threat to Man-Thing who, spoiler, beats Man-Thing right at the beginning and the Avengers have to take him down. This is one of these new formats, limited series that Marvel has been doing, where a new hero is going to interact with Man-Thing or this story in a different way. Here we get the Avengers. Next issue is going to be Spiderman, presumably the X-Men after that and other things. But this is also Steve Orlando moving over to the Marvel universe. What was your take Pete?
Pete: Well, Orlando is always a fun, crazy creative person. So this book, I thought did a great job of representing himself here. Man-Thing, getting ripped apart here was so over-the-top and very interesting. Especially because you realize, these chapter things are like parts of his skin that maybe was ripped off. But I think this is a very interesting, unique kind of cool event that’s happening and I’m digging it.
Alex: I like it too. I thought it was super fun. And it’s Orlando doing his regular weird ideas, but infusing them into the Marvel universe. He brings in some fun stuff from Jonathan Hickman’s run on X-Men and mixes it in here in a fun way. This is good. I like this.
Pete: I agree.
Alex: And he seems to be redefining what Man-Thing is in the Marvel universe. That should be interesting to see going forward. Next up, The Department of Truth number seven from Image comics, written by James Tynion IV, art by Tyler Boss. In this-
Pete: You think we should even talk about this, because Justin’s not here? You know what I mean, maybe we should-
Alex: Justin does love this book.
Pete: Maybe we should skip it.
Alex: So we’re getting another flashback this issue as Lee Harvey Oswald continues to find out more about the Department of Truth. Here, we find out about the foil guy, the doc who wears foil on his head. We find out about the men and black and the little gray men and their play into the history of the secret history of America. As usual, great stuff in this book. I am loving it. Pete-
Pete: Yeah, I agree.
Alex: You took off your headphones, what is going on right now?
Pete: Hey man, sometimes you wear headphones for too long. It can start to get like… Feel like you’re [crosstalk 00:14:37]
Alex: Are you listening to me through your forehead. What is going on here?
Pete: Dude, it’s a podcast. Take it easy, all right. I can hear you just fine.
Alex: All right.
Pete: All right. So I really am like… This is such a kind of thing we’ve heard about the men in black, we’re familiar with this kind of tinfoil thing, but this is done in a way that makes sense. I really appreciate all the details and all this stuff going on in this book. I think it’s done in such a kind of way with the stylized flashbacks, with the shading and the info. I think this is really a great mix of genres and telling the story. I’m continued to be impressed with this. It’s too bad Justin’s not here to get his thoughts on it. I’m having a blast and I might just start wearing a tinfoil hat.
Alex: Hey, speaking of which, this is more of a note for Pete’s forehead than his ears. And Pete’s forehead, you’re looking great. Don’t tell his ears, okay? Because they’re looking a little busted, to be honest.
Pete: Don’t you say shit about my ears.
Alex: You couldn’t hear that. That was through your forehead man. All right. Moving on to the Flash 768 from DC comics. Written by Jeremy Adams, art by Brandon Peterson-
Pete: Here we go.
Alex: Marco Santucci… What does that mean, “Here we go”?
Pete: Here we go. The fucking Flash.
Alex: Well… So we’ve been talking about these books that have come out of DC Future State. A lot of the teams from Future State were giving previews of what’s going on in their main books of their return. So I think it has been interesting to talk about them as they have come back. This one is weird.
Pete: Yeah. Yeah. We’re still talking about it. Flash and that tricky Speed Force, man. [crosstalk 00:16:28] Sometimes you run so fast, you run out of your clothes and then that’s a whole thing and-
Alex: It happens. So here’s the deal with this book. So the thing that confused me for the first half of this book, is we have the setup of Barry Allen is giving up being the Flash. So we could work with the new multi-verse people and explore what’s going on with there, after the fallout from Dark Nights: Death Metal. All makes sense. Now, Wally West is the new Flash, he’s been promoted. The first half of this book, reverses on that in a very weird way, where Wally says, “Nope, actually… Forget about that tease. I don’t want to be the Flash. Barry Allen. You’re the Flash”. Barry’s like, “Sounds good. Let’s have a race. I’ll take all of your speed”.
Alex: So that’s fine, but very confusing, given everything that’s happened previously. It isn’t until the second half of the book that we get to the real concept. That’s where things, in my mind, start to get really fun, where Wally West is lost in time. We basically get this quantum leap thing, where he’s jumping to major points in the Speed Force, he’s inside of their bodies.
Pete: How are they-
Alex: And Barry Allen is the Iggy. Is it Iggy from Quantum Leap? Pete?
Pete: I don’t know.
Alex: Ziggy. Ziggy. The Ziggy, Dan Hedaya. Who’s like, “Oh man, you’ve got to turn back, Wally. What are you doing? Ah, if you change this, that’ll change everything”. And then Wally says, “Oh boy”.
Pete: That show came out in the fifties, I think, bro.
Alex: It’s a great show, with a perfect finale, and you watch your mouth Pete.
Pete: I’ll have to take a time machine back. It was just insane to me that these, all these fucking Flashes and there’s the Speed Force, but nobody can figure it out. And it’s so tricky yet. They’re running the whole time and you got a fucking treadmill, but… I don’t know, man.
Alex: I enjoyed the second half of the issue because I am a sucker for Quantum Leap and I want to see more of that. So we’ll see how it goes. Next up, Ghost Rider: King in Black number one, from Marvel. Written by Ed Brisson, art by Juan Frigeri. This is also a very weird, interesting issue because, technically, it’s a King in Black tie-in, but really it’s tying up everything that’s been happening in Ghost Rider for the past couple of years and wrapping a bow on that. It’s much more about that to the point that, the Ghost Rider characters, at certain points, are standing in the middle of symbiote-stricken Manhattan being like, “Eh, let’s figure out this other stuff instead”.
Pete: Yeah. There’s still a crazy amount of standing around talking for all the demons that are trashing the place.
Alex: But still, pretty fun, I thought. What did you think about this one, Pete?
Pete: Yeah, it was fun. I mean, they’re having fun discussions about their names. Mephisto blows, but still, some fun stuff in there with that. Yeah. It was nice to see Ghost Rider up in this… the Penance Stare, with the old damnation stare. That was cool. Fun little twist on trusting, not trusting the devil. It’s just fun. It’s a good book. You know what you’re going to get into with it. And it’s over-the-top in all the right ways.
Alex: Next up, Two Moons number two from Image comics written by John Arcudi, art by Valerio Giangiordino. This book, we love the first issue of. I might be getting this wrong, but I believe it’s basically taking indigenous myths and mixing them with the Civil War for a very horrific, supernatural tale. How do you think the second issue held up to the first one?
Pete: It’s really tripped out in all the right ways. It’s very magical. Spooky, cool. The Native American stuff is amazing. It’s very, very well done. Some interesting storytelling stuff. And I really loved where it ended too.
Alex: This is a absolutely gorgeous book. Absolutely gorgeous. I like the writing, but really, the art in particular and the designs of the… I don’t even want to call them monsters. They’re more mythical creatures, is stunning throughout. Highly recommend picking this up. This is one that, it feels a little bit like, I don’t know. It’s very Vertigo to me, I think. And it’s the sort of thing that I think would be good to jump in on in the early issues to really get a sense of it because it’s that good.
Alex: Next up, Future State: Superman VS. Imperious Lex, number three from DC comics written by Mark Russell, art by Steve Pugh, not Florence Pugh, like I initially thought. It’s Steve Pugh. This is the very last, I believe, of the Future State books. Probably cutting in a little late here, but so fun and such a good story. Love Mark Russell. This is a future Superman, as you could tell, from the title. Battling Lex, who has taken over a planet, as usual. It’s very satirical as you’d expect from this team. If you read the first two issues, you know exactly what to expect here, but I loved it. This is one of my favorite Future State books. I’m so glad they got to finish it off, even if it was a late. Pete, you’re nodding your head. What’s going on?
Pete: I mean, this is just like, what if Lex Luther was stuck in the Wall-E movie? It’s a little too crazy for me, but I appreciate what they’re doing.
Alex: It’s so funny. The characters are so funny. Louis Lane is so funny. Lex is so funny. It’s great. He just sets up these Rube Goldberg machines of ridiculous satire and pays them off in such a fun way. I like it quite a bit. Next up, Decorum number seven, from Image comics. Written by Jonathan Hickman and art by Mike Huddleston.
Alex: This is really bringing together everything that’s been going out in the book in a big way that these weird crystalline creatures that showed up that seemed, at first, unconnected from the Assassin’s Academy that was going on in the other side of the book. Last issue, that finally came together, where the crystalline creatures gave a mission to the assassins to find this egg that was being hidden, which I believe was the third element, that was just thrown in there. Here, our main character stumbles on that egg, opens up the egg, finds a hot dude with no head. Very funny. This is great. I can’t believe how well this has come together. And Mike Huddleston’s art is stunning across the board. The way that he’s bringing all of these different art styles together, often on the same page, is ridiculously impressive.
Pete: I agree with you, Alex. It’s worth it alone for the art. It’s really unbelievable. Sometimes… Just a dude with part of your face. But I think this is really tripped out, weird, in all the right ways. And it’s really telling a very interesting story, but the real hero here is the artist. The pages and everything are just amaze balls.
Alex: And in classic Pete fashion, I got to bring up a book that we didn’t throw into the stack, because I didn’t want to get into a fight about it. But, X-Men number 19. Also by Jonathan Hickman, it is a master work. It is so good. It’s one of the best issues of the series ever, it’s amazing. You get the X-Men trapped in this vault, traveling through time. This incredible X-23 Laura story throughout. So good. Read it. Just pick it up right now. Don’t listen to whatever Pete has to say. And moving on to our last book-
Pete: Wait, that’s so unfair that you didn’t even put it out there. Like it was something we could read-
Alex: Here’s the thing, Pete. [crosstalk 00:24:25] I’ve got to be honest. I’ll pull back the curtain here. I got to be honest. I read the book because I was like, “Ah, I want to read it anyway because I liked the X-Men books, but I’m not going to send it out to Pete because Pete’s just going to be like, ‘Fuck X-Men. These islands are having sex. Stupid. What’s going on? I don’t like it'”. That I would just set it out. It would just be a big argument. So I was like, “I won’t send it out”, but then I read it. I was like, “This is legitimately one of the best issues of the series ever. Would Pete like this, because it’s about Laura X-23, who he loves”. And I was like, “I don’t know. I got to weigh that against Pete just yelling because it’s X-Men. What do we do here?”
Pete: Why wouldn’t you trust me to appreciate a good X-23 story?
Alex: Trust you? I’ve known you for 15 years, Pete.
Pete: Oh my God. You’re the worst. You didn’t believe in it enough to put it out there for us to review. You were like [crosstalk 00:25:20] yeah, you didn’t believe in it. So it’s hard to take your recommendation after you didn’t believe in something enough to send it to me and just-
Alex: I’ll tell you what. I will send it to you. You could read it, and then you can tell me off-air what’s going on.
Pete: Okay, great. That’ll be great for everybody.
Alex: I think so. Tell you what, check out our podcast off-air, where you visit me and Pete in person and ask us comic book recommendations. Last but not least, Batman/Catwoman number four from DC comics. Written by Tom King, art by Clay Mann. Pete, sounds like you’re loving this. You got to explain to me what’s going on. I feel like the Pete of this particular book, because I’m lost.
Pete: Okay. First off, love the bat and cat double page, spread title page, mansion, advent calendar thing, that just sets up the mood for this creepy, fun world that we’re in. And then starting off with Batwoman beating up Penguin and wanting to know where mom and the Joker are. What an interesting start, just grabs the reader all the right ways. But bat and cat are fighting. You know, cat’s been doing some things without bat’s knowledge, she knew he was going to get mad, but she didn’t tell him until last minute. Now bat’s mad. So how are we going to move forward? I also really loved how the Penguin is drawn like Danny DeVito. That makes me very happy. What do you want to know? I think it’s great.
Alex: Listening to you talk about it is my experience reading it, because I just cannot keep track of the timelines.
Pete: There’s like three different timelines happening at once.
Alex: No, and I know that. You’ve got the Mask of the Phantasm timeline. You’ve got the very early bad cat stuff going on.
Alex: And then you’ve got the future cat stuff where she’s killed the Joker and is dealing with it, with Penguin. And there was their kid, who was the new Batman. So I get all that.
Alex: There’s the transitions between them that just throw me, and I’m sure there’s a point to it. Maybe they’re doing something about memory and how memories are very fluid and go from one time period to another-
Pete: Yeah, because it’s also like cat and bat always have this thing about a disagreement about when they first met.
Alex: Yes. So I get all that, but you look at a book like Strange Adventures, also from Tom King, where you have-
Pete: Also confusing.
Alex: But, even if it jumps between timelines of the same page, you’ve got Evan “Doc” Shaner and Mitch Gerads. So there’s a delineation between the timelines. So you’re able to follow, okay. Here’s where we are at any given point. It is disorienting for me to read this book, and I still, and I know I’m harping on this. I don’t know what the Phantasm has to do with this.
Pete: That’s going to be the fun, but also it is going to make sense. And I think it’s going to be one of those things where it will be very interesting to get the trade, because there could be… it could make that much more sense, reading it all together.
Alex: Absolutely. And I’m more than willing to follow it until the end. It’s just-
Pete: And you should follow it, because it’s amazing art and writing and like such a fun, interesting story with these two characters we know and we’ve heard stories… for all time about them.
Alex: I trust these creators. So I’m going to follow it until the end. I’m just having a hard time comprehending it as of now, that’s what I’m saying.
Alex: And that’s it for The Stack. If you’d like to support our podcast and other podcasts we do, patrion.com/comic book club. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday night to Crowdcast at YouTube.
Pete: Sure do.
Alex: Love to chat with you about comic books. iTunes, Android, Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice to subscribe and listen to the show. Comic book club live.com for this podcast and more. Until next time, we’ll see you at the virtual comic book shop. But I’m saying that just to Pete’s forehead, not to his ears.