The Stack: Locke & Key/Sandman, Batman, And More
On this week’s comic book review podcast:
Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone #1
IDW Publishing/DC Comics
By Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Batman: The Detective #1
Written by Tom Taylor
Art by Andy Kubert
Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #1
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Pasqual Ferry
Written by Julio Anta
Art by Anna Wieszcyk
Wonder Woman #771
Written by Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad and Jordie Bellaire
Art by Travis Moore and Paulina Ganucheau
Darkhawk: Heart of the Hawk #1
Written by Danny Fingeroth, Dan Abnett, Kyle Higgins
Art by Mike Manley, Andrea Di Vito, Juana Ramírez
Jenny Zero #1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Dave Dwonch and Brockton McKinney
Illustrated by Magenta King
Written by Tom King
Art by Jorge Fornés
Guardians of the Galaxy #15
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Juan Frigeri
Doctor Who: Missy #1
Written by Jody Houser
Art by Roberta Ingranata
American Vampire 1976 #7
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Francesco Francavilla, Tula Lotay, Ricardo López Ortiz
Jules Verne’s Lighthouse #1
Written by David Hine and Brian Haberlin
Art by Brian Haberlin
The Joker #2
Written by James Tynion IV and Sam Johns
Art by Guillem March and Mirka Andolfo
Home Sick Pilots #5
Written by Dan Watters
Art by Caspar Wijngaard
Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Sean Lewis
Art by Scott Godlewski and Sam Basri
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Andrei Bressan
Sweet Tooth: The Return #6
By Jeff Lemire
The Scumbag #7
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Francesco Mobili
Proctor Valley Road #2
Written by Alex Child and Grant Morrison
Art by Naomi Franquiz
By Guillem March
Black Hammer Visions #3
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Johnnie Christmas
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Full Episode Transcript
Alex: What is up, everybody? Welcome to the Stack. I’m Alex.
Justin: I’m Justin.
Pete: I’m still Pete and I was-
Justin: Still Pete.
Alex: I’m still Pete after all this years. Anyway, on the Stack, we talk about a bunch of books that have come out this week and we’re going to kick it off with a big one for us personally, Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone, #1 from IDW Publishing and DC Comics by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Now we should mention, before Pete says whatever he is going to say, that we had Joe and Gabriel Rodriguez and the editor Chris Ryall on the live show just this past week, just yesterday, if you’re listening to this immediately. So definitely check that out for some inside scoop about the issue-
Justin: And honestly some news potentially.
Alex: Yeah, Pete, what’s going on?
Pete: I was going to welcome Justin back, because he was away last week.
Justin: That’s nice. That takes care. That really acknowledges my absence, which I was upset about. Really sad to not be here as always.
Pete: Well, yeah, I mean, it’s one of those things where… sometimes when Alex is talking, I just zone out and think, “I wonder what Justin would be saying if he was here?”
Alex: Good lord.
Pete: So it’s nice having you back.
Alex: Anyway, this comic book feels real good. I like this comic. What did you think of this comic book?
Pete: Yeah. How many different ways can you describe how amazing something is? It’s bananas good. It’s off the charts, unbelievable. I mean, it makes other comics look like pieces of shit. It’s really fucking good. The sum of the spreads in there just absolutely floored me. The detail, the majestic nature in a panel. I think Gabriel Rodriguez made a deal with the devil and I don’t know how art is, just unbelievable.
Justin: I mean, this is fantastic in a lot of different ways. We’ve talked about this a little bit, but it’s a seamless sort of marriage between these two Titanic Comic book universes. This book both captures the dream-like nature of the Sandman series while also really sticking close to the sort of tense emotionally-driven storytelling of Locke & Key. The characters introduced here and recalled from the Sandman universe are so taken care of. Mary Locke is so great as a character. The whole thing is just great.
Alex: So to get into spoilers for the book, and don’t listen, obviously you don’t want to know, but this is picking up after the end of In Pale Battalions Go, which was the previous Locke & Key mini series. The son of Chamberlain Locke, John Locke, has died at [inaudible 00:03:01] in a big sacrifice, but he has never recovered from that. So he is metaphorically in hell. His daughter, Mary Locke, decides to figure out a way to get him out of hell by getting her brother out of hell.
Alex: So the way that she comes up with this is she’s going to take a side trip through the dreaming in order to get to hell, and to do that, she talks to Roger Burgess, who is the man who captured Morpheus right at the beginning of the Sandman series.
Alex: What was so wild to me, that I was not expecting, was how tied into Sandman continuity this was. We’ve seen a lot of stuff from the dreaming because there’s all the Sandman universe books. So I expected, “Okay, we’ll see Cain and Abel, we’ll see the house of mystery. That’s fine.” But for this to be set in such a specific time and place for Sandman, mind-blowing.
Justin: Well, and also it’s a little bit of a Sandman prequel in a way.
Justin: It gives us details about these characters, that is so exciting. It’s just exciting to explore a world that we have that scene with such a trusted team of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez on this. I said this on the podcast, but Mary Locke is such a great character. Unlike the other Locke kids and the other Locke characters, she is a little bit of a mischief maker. She has that innocent energy of so many of the other characters in Locke & Key, but she’s a little aware of it. So she’s able to be like, “I’m doing what I want here, and I’m going to find my way through this because I want to help my family.” It’s still Locke & Key storytelling with another sort of level to it.
Alex: And again, not to keep plugging the podcast, but we danced around spoilers a little bit. The other thing that I think is so wonderful is the idea that the dreaming becomes the way that Mary Locke sees it when she comes in, so it really is a Locke & Key universe. It’s using these characters, it is clearly the dreaming, but at the same time you have literal locks everywhere, you have literal keys everywhere. It morphs to become something that is in her story, in a certain way, it’s so cool. Even if you have never read these things, I think you could still get into it, but it’s certainly the sort of thing that it’s going to be so much [inaudible 00:05:27] if you know Locke & Key and you know Sandman.
Alex: Let’s move on then and talk about Batman, The Detective #1 from DC Comics, written by Tom Taylor, art by Andy Kubert. This is obviously a new series from Tom Taylor taking on Bruce Wayne, but it’s picking up in the current continuity with an older Bruce Wayne, less resources, trying to take on a mystery, where people are specifically gunning for the people that he’s helped in the past. What’d you think of this one?
Pete: Oh, sorry. I thought we were going to talk about Locke & Key for another 20 more minutes. So I was ready to move on.
Alex: We could.
Pete: Yeah, I really love the kind of Constantine gloves aspect. That really blew my mind in the right kind of way. I think this is a cool bulkier, just more bad-ass Batman in a different kind of creepy kind of monster way that I think is very enjoyable. Yeah, it’s also such creepy, interesting idea of… Spoilers… but someone is killing everyone that Batman is saved and it’s just like fuck. It’s very specific and such a cool premise is set up in a first issue to see how this all unfolds.
Justin: Yeah. I mean, the Andy Kubert art really pops in this and it helps to really tell the story of a more aggressive Batman than maybe we’ve seen in a while and less concerned… It’s interesting that it’s called The Detective, because I really feel like he’s being less of a detective and being more of a hammer.
Pete: Yeah. It should be like Batman, The Goon Squad #1.
Justin: Batman is mad right now.
Pete: Yeah. #1.
Alex: Maybe this is because I’m thinking about another book that we’re going to be talking about later on in the Stack, but it definitely feels like Tom Taylor doing Dark Knight Returns, Batman in current continuity.
Justin: Yeah, I agree. And I do think the art really supports that. This feels like, in that world or Greg Capullo, if he was really juiced up writing a really juiced up Batman.
Pete: Greg Capullo is pretty juiced up and that guy is huge. I don’t think he needs to get any more juice.
Justin: I’m not saying he should get juice, I’m not saying he needs juice.
Pete: Okay. Well, just stop saying that.
Alex: Whether it’s orange juice, apple juice or grape juice, he’s got to get juiced up.
Justin: That’s right.
Pete: Oh man. I’m going to go with grape on that one.
Justin: When Alex [inaudible 00:08:04] two different kinds of juice in the morning, you got to watch out.
Pete: I live in an assortment of juices.
Alex: I call that a suicide.
Pete: There so much juice.
Alex: What are you talking about? No. That’s how you do it. You get an assortment of juices.
Justin: They call that a Long Island juice tea. [crosstalk 00:08:19].
Alex: Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #1 from Marvel written by Chip Zdarsky, art by Pasqual Ferry, this is an expansion of the what if line and in this one we’re getting, “What if Spider-Man hung onto the symbiote instead of giving it up?” We get random flashes… Not random flashes, but flashes of the events that happened in the comic books leading to him giving it up, but they go in a very different direction. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this going in despite liking the team, but I really went like, that they went in a very different direction for Venom here. I thought this was really well done.
Justin: I agree. The darkness, the way they use the suit influencing Peter Parker is in such a subtle way, has such a light touch to it, that it really keeps you guessing what he’s going to do and what little moves he’s going to do. Because it doesn’t just make him like a villain or a bad guy, it heightens a lot of his emotional reactions across the board. The way he talks to Ant-Man in this issue, I was like, “Whoa, really [crosstalk 00:09:27] conversation, dude.”
Pete: Yeah. The idea of it, is very interesting, and this is like creepy in a lot of different ways that Spider-Man isn’t. But I’m a huge fan of, not only Venom, but then when Peter Parker dawns the black outfit after Flash Thompson original dies in the series, I love that Spider-Man. But this is almost like too dark where it’s not enjoyable. It’s creepy, which is what they’re going for, which is cool. So it’s a very kind of like-
Justin: Real gamut of emotions there, Pete.
Pete: Yeah. It’s a little too much for me, but I think it might be interesting for some people, but when-
Alex: [crosstalk 00:10:10] real freaks out there.
Pete: Some of the people who are more fucked up than me, which… Congratulations to you, but it was real hard seeing a lot of this stuff, emotionally tough, especially when MJ comes in the room and he accidentally pushes her. I was like, “No.”
Alex: Good stuff anyway. Home #1 from Image Comics written by Julio Anta, art by Anna Wieszczyk, I didn’t know what to expect from this book going in. I thought, “Oh, okay, this is going to be an Image comic book about somebody with powers and whatever, and some weird sci-fi twist.” Most of it, is about a mother and her son who are separated at the border because of a new president. Things do happen at the end that up it up to Image Comics levels, but by the time you got there, you’ve really been run through the ringer emotionally, and it’s only helped by the art that really is this all ages aren’t yet dealing with a very serious subject. I was very surprised by this book.
Justin: Me too. It really positions it from a kid’s point of view in a way that… And it is told very directly, it’s sort of plainly and I mean, in a good way like it puts you there in a way that I was intense. And like you said, we get into some heightened reality near the end of the book, but the front half was just as regulatory and just as intense to read.
Pete: Yeah. It’s very powerful, very moving. Yeah, it’s absolutely heartbreaking like it’s supposed to be. And I do think the art plays a real interesting combo with a… If this was more realistic art, I wonder like how much harder it would be to read, but because it has a little cartoony light feel that makes it a little easier on the reader, and it also helps with the later stuff, but man, just watching the kid getting taken away from her mother’s fucking heartbreaking.
Justin: Well, and I think the cartoon, the sort of younger feeling art, enhances that to me. It feels like a kid’s… or more in the kid’s point of view here and it’s intense. Yeah.
Alex: It’s a good book. Definitely pick it up. Next step, Wonder Woman #771, from DC Comics, written by Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad and Jordie Bellaire, art by Travis Moore and Paulina Ganucheau. In this book, we are getting Wonder Woman still trapped in a weird dream state, or whatever’s going on with her over at Asgard, fighting with Thor and his compatriots. And in the backup story, we get a tale of a young Wonder Woman. We love the first issue of this, post future state reboot. I’ll tell you what, I think this held up in the second issue here.
Pete: Oh my God. I fell in love with this more and this issue. Yeah. I really love this adventure that Wonder Woman’s on, this kind of like, “Is the Squirrel on our side? Is it not?” I mean, should you trust squirrels? I don’t know. My brother won’t ever trust squirrels.
Justin: Not if you are chasing nuts on your own.
Alex: I once had a squirrel crawl up my pants.
Justin: Right? Yeah. You were briefly in a cartoon, right?
Alex: This is a real thing that happened though.
Pete: Do tell.
Justin: I think I remember [crosstalk 00:13:40] telling this story, but please, yeah, why-
Alex: It’s not much of a story. There was just a little baby squirrel on the backyard.
Justin: Where were you? Okay in the-
Alex: I was in my parent’s backyard, my backyard at the time as well. There’s baby squirrel, it is very cute and we’re like-
Justin: It was your parents’ backyard the whole time. Yeah.
Alex: I mean, I paid for it and maintained it but whoever’s it was, I don’t know.
Pete: I mean, maybe you did some half ass chores.
Alex: So the baby squirrel was there and I looked at it and we were looking at it and it was very cute.
Pete: Did it look at you?
Alex: It did. It looked at me and cocked his head a little bit and then ran straight towards me and just ran up my pants and ran around.
Pete: How far away-
Justin: Wait. And ran around? What do you mean? For how long?
Alex: Ran up, ran down, ran up the other one, ran down. You know how it is.
Pete: Wait, it ran up, each leg, and down?
Justin: Wait, when you say, ran around, like it was in there for like a couple of weeks.
Pete: Also. How could you keep standing there in between… leg one runs down the leg, you run, you don’t stay and wait to see if it’s going to run up the other leg.
Alex: I was frozen in fear. I know squirrels were coming for my nuts.
Justin: Oh my God. Wow.
Pete: How old were you?
Alex: I don’t know. [crosstalk 00:14:54].
Pete: I don’t know if this whole story holds up. Do you really think that the squirrel was going after your nuts?
Alex: No. It happened very quickly and it was very surprising.
Justin: Well, I mean, it makes sense because you left a little trail of acorns right up your [crosstalk 00:15:13].
Pete: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Justin: I always wear a couple of acorns on my legs and also it was the ’90s, so it was this very loose pants.
Pete: All right. Wow.
Justin: Yeah. Well, your Jnco jeans really [crosstalk 00:15:22] squirrel home.
Alex: Anyway this book is good. What did you think of it, Justin?
Pete: Yeah. I’ll wait-
Alex: Oh, you’re not done, Pete?
Pete: Yeah. Sorry. We got sidetracked. I really love this idea that Thor is a toolbox. It’s kind of fun to see DC’s kind of vision of Thor, but I also like the Doctor Psycho Cameo. We haven’t seen him a lot since the Harley Quinn animated series. So it was fun to see. I thought it was a really great use of Dr. Psycho and… Yeah, don’t trust squirrels. Go ahead, Justin.
Justin: I really like this book. It feels like just taking such a strong stance with with Wonder Woman going forward, is really exciting and all the sort of larger mythological underpinnings are going for here. It’s really good.
Alex: Next step. Let’s talk about a book that I put in the stack just for Justin, Darkhawk… Excuse me, Heart of the Hawk #1 from Darkhawk, from Marvel written by Danny Fingeroth, Dan Abnett and Kyle Higgins, art by Mike Manley, Andrea Di Vito, and Juana Ramirez. This is an anniversary issue for Darkhawk as well as teasing some of his future. As our Darkhawk expert, Justin take it away.
Justin: I mean, Darkhawk is one of those characters that there’s a lot of ’90s nostalgia for, and they often-
Alex: Very ’90s.
Justin: Very ’90s. They often bring Darkhawk back to be like, “Okay, let’s try to find a way for this character to be a part of the universe.” There’s the whole [inaudible 00:16:55] thing. They were like the intergalactic man hunters of the Marvel universe for a while. And it all hasn’t quite fit. So I appreciate, in this issue, they take it back to the basic premise and then just advanced that through the different ages and ended a place where I really… I thought the last story really heightened the very simple sort of ’90s ask-storytelling from the first story here to something that felt like, “Oh, this actually feels very modern, and it feels like they’re taking this in a direction.” It was satisfied, child me and me, who are in fact the same person.
Alex: Pete, what about you?
Pete: I don’t believe the child you and the person I see before me are the same person.
Justin: [crosstalk 00:17:38] dude, I just pasted this fake beard on.
Pete: You did a shitty job pasting that up.
Justin: You’re telling me brother.
Pete: Yeah, I mean-
Justin: That “take all this gray shit out.” You know, Pete?
Pete: No, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m all gray now.
Justin: What about you, Alex? Alex, we have a similar beard vibe here [crosstalk 00:17:58] patches.
Alex: I don’t like how we’re all slowly morphing into looking like the same dude. It’s freaking me out. All right, I-
Justin: That’s what they say. Pets and owners start to be like each other.
Alex: I don’t know which one I am, but I don’t like it. So yeah-
Justin: Oh, Alex, what were you about to say, but just didn’t?
Alex: I held it back.
Pete: Okay. Yeah, so I thought this was like a classic kind of collection, you got some interesting tales in here and it’s like, “Oh yeah, I remember the ’90s. This was a fun character.” I don’t got anything against Darkhawk. I think it’s cool, even though he bites Wolverine’s claws for some reason, but whatever.
Justin: That’s a grappling hook, dude.
Pete: Oh, okay. My bad.
Justin: He can shoot that out.
Alex: Excuse me. Let’s talk about Jenny Zero #1-
Justin: But Alex, we didn’t get your take on Darkhawk.
Pete: Yeah, well.
Alex: That’s a great point. Jenny Zero #1 from Dark Horse Comics written by Dave Dwonch, I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand what was going on-
Justin: Well, I guess you needed to do a little research and maybe call up your old pal, JT and I will walk you through Dark [crosstalk 00:19:03]… We’ll do a dark walk through Darkhawk.
Pete: But he probably won’t pick up the first time you call him, you got to call him twice.
Alex: [crosstalk 00:19:08] it was pretty good and like you said, I thought the last story, in particular, was interesting. I always lik Darkhawk. I don’t like the fact that I can’t pronounce Darkhawk.
Pete: Yeah, that’s really-
Justin: I think that’s a big part of it. Let me be honest.
Alex: Jenny Zero #1 from Dark Hawk Comics, written by Dave Dwonch and Brockton McKinney, illustrated by Magenta King. The concept here is, what if a Kaiju fighter… but she was wasted all the time. And yeah, I don’t know. I thought this is fun. What’d you guys think?
Pete: Yeah, I really liked the cover, fun kind of party monster with somebody just passed out, like they’re at a party. Yeah, I mean, that she brings up a good point, “Why aren’t we all just drunk doing our jobs?” You know what I mean? We could get away with it. Could we? Yeah.
Alex: What if we are?
Pete: Yeah. That’s what I’m saying.
Alex: Justin, what do you think about this one?
Justin: I like this a lot.
Alex: Pete stop taking.
Justin: Yeah. Real. [crosstalk 00:20:06], “What if we could all be drunk? Mic drop or more appropriately, bottle of beer drop?”
Justin: I like this a lot. I thought the art was very cool and the character, Jenny, that worries right from the jump, I was like, “Oh, this feels like a different book. This feels like a fun new take on Kaiju,” which is something we’ve talked about a couple of times lately.
Pete: Yeah. And it’s got a great kind of last page reveal. I think it’s a fun book. I’m excited to see what happens.
Alex: I like the art in particular on this. I was trying to place it because it reminded me of something else. It’s a little bit like Brandon Graham, but not exactly-
Justin: Yes. I was getting strong Brandon Graham vibes from this.
Alex: Yeah. It just feels a little bit like a European comic as well as Super Fun. Next step. I want to talk about what I thought was one of the wildest comics of the week, Rorschach #7 here we go. [crosstalk 00:20:57] Dc Comics, written by Jorge Fornes. In this issue, our main detective character sits down with the current guy who thinks he is Rorschach and that current guy is Frank Miller.
Pete: That shit got crazy.
Alex: And it’s not like a guy misspelling Frank Miller, no, it’s straight up Frank Miller in this universe. He has created a book called The Dark Knight Returns, based on the Pirate comic books of the Watchmen universe and he has gotten sucked into this Rorschach cult, and that’s what the detective is interviewing him about. There’s that, there’s reference to a basic fantasy-
Pete: Yeah. Exactly. It’s almost exactly the cover has the same kind of thing to little blurbs, and I was just like, “Holy…”
Alex: The thing that I liked about this book, I like what Tom King is doing here, talking about conspiracy theories, how we see whatever we want to see in them, how they take hold of people. I think that’s a really important and pressing issue to be talking about is just, what is he saying about Frank Miller, the comic book author, here?
Justin: Yes. And also, what does it say? I feel like this issue is examining the sort of Pirate Comics as the main form of comic books in this universe. And what does that say about this universe? I feel like he’s trying to make a point here. I don’t know.
Alex: And also, is that point actually about Spider-Man comics? Because it’s like the Pirate comic is a rip off of the Spider-Man comics, so it’s like… Yeah, are we actually talking about Marvel comics in this? What is going on?
Pete: I mean, I think the main thing that’s coming out of the Amazing Fantasy #15, I think it’s called like Astonishing Fantasy or something like that, The Pirate, in the same classic Spider-Man pose and also with Dark Knight Returns is what we get in that Frank Miller’s speech towards the end, where he says, “I released Dark Knight Returns [inaudible 00:23:00] something dark and moody and insightful about Prate comics and then a squid fell on New York and killed all these people, and what it even matter?” So, that, I think is the reason there to show us this parallel evolution of comics and that’s what he’s exploring. But to Justin’s point, I can’t really parse out certain bits of it in terms of what it all means versus just showing us this alternate history. I think the much stronger point is the main action of the thing, which is, they play just the scratchy tape recording and everybody hears whatever they want to hear [inaudible 00:23:36].
Alex: Yeah. And apparently that’s a real thing. If you want to talk to the dead, you just set up a tape recording and that works-
Pete: Or a podcast.
Justin: Yes. You might be missing the point here, Pete, but because I’ve been watching the QAnon Doc on HBO, and I think, to your point, Alex, this is-
Pete: Stop getting me to buy it in your pyramid QAnon scheme.
Justin: Yeah. But-
Alex: Yeah. Justin, we should mention there’s a multi-level marketing scheme based on QAnon.
Justin: Yeah. It’s based on HBO Max, more appropriately, where [crosstalk 00:24:12] sign you up for HBO Max.
Justin: The ultimate pyramid scheme. I do think using this tape as a way of people hearing what their secret desire, is like a perfect map to conspiracy theory in specifically QAnon world.
Pete: But it’s also like comic books in that way of like, we see ourselves in certain characters, and are drawn to certain things, and then feel like a part of what’s happening. You know what I mean? It becomes so personal these stories. So this comic is so meta in a lot of different ways and I can’t wait to have the full story to try to understand what’s happening. Right now, I am very much enjoying this ride. Tom King is confusing me in all the right ways, and this is just a crazy interesting comic book.
Justin: What I think Tom King, with this book, especially, but in a lot of his books, he writes for the end and often is a little spare with details, trusting that the story he’s presenting is interesting enough that you will be drawn through to find out what’s happening retroactively. And this is a big example of that, but I do think that the QAnon of it all, is such a thing because they absorb all of their conspiracy theories and they’re like, “We have everything for you. We want the most people to be here.” And that’s sort of a metaphor for comic storytelling as well, where it’s like, “Oh, you don’t like this Spider-Man? Well, there’s a Spider-Man in like four other books, doing slightly different things. So we have that flavor for you here. Please stay here.”
Alex: Comics the original QAnon. There you go.
Pete: Wow, yeah, just a way to ruin comic books for me, you fucking asshole.
Alex: Guardians of Galaxy #15 from Marvel Comics written by Al Ewing, art by Juan Frigeri. In this book, we’re getting a bunch of wild Guardians of the Galaxy action. I like this. That’s all-
Justin: Yeah. I know
Alex: I had a fun time reading this.
Justin: It’s fun.
Pete: Yeah. Al just can’t do no wrong. I mean, what a different gear this is, from the creepy ass Hawk book. Yeah, this is really fun, a completely different tone, but still such a great intricate story. Yeah, I was really impressed with this. I thought the art and the action was just fantastic. Yeah, really impressed with this book and amazing last page kind of reveal. Very happy about that. One of my favorite villains of all time.
Justin: This book, to me, is like sort of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band of Guardians of the Galaxy in that-
Alex: Wow. Very specific.
Justin: All the guardians are like, they’ve let themselves get a little weird. They’re all being a little like Star-Lords, like, “I do this now.” Quasar is like, “I’m this now?” Everyone’s just getting into their own little thing and it’s still coming together… It’s shaking it up in a fun way.
Alex: Here’s one that I am curious to get your guys’ take on, in particular Doctor Who: Missy #1 from Titan Comics written by Jody Houser, art by Roberta Ingranata. In this book, we’re getting a new adventure of Missy, AKA, The Master, as she goes and, spoiler, visits herself in prison. As a Dr. Who fan, as a fan of Missy, the character, I really enjoyed this. I had a lot of fun reading this, but I have no idea if this works at all for people who don’t know Dr. Who, and I know both of you don’t really watch Dr. Who, so what was your take?
Justin: Yeah. What’s this [inaudible 00:27:50] Mary Poppins book like?
Pete: Yeah, I did not get that she was visiting herself in jail.
Alex: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Pete: I also didn’t believe that she was Dr. Who, because she kept saying it and she seemed not on the level. So yeah, I was very confused by what was going on, but I thought it was very interesting and very cool art.
Justin: I was just going to say, yeah, this is definitely-
Alex: I feel like I’ve inflicted something on both of you.
Justin: No. Dude, this is great. I love when you bring your interests to the table. This is a sort of a little mousetrap for us and I’ll tell you what, it’s good, but I’m not interested in that [inaudible 00:28:33].
Pete: Oh wow.
Alex: Way to hold your ground on that. I will say if any of you listening or watching, or… Dr. Who fans, this is enjoyable. They do a really good job of capturing Michelle Gomez’s voice-
Justin: [crosstalk 00:28:51] Very Michelle Gomez, I think that is great.
Pete: Wait, who is Michelle Gomez?
Alex: She is Madam Satan from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Pete: No, I know who that Gomez is. I didn’t know that was also… Oh shit, yeah. Oh, I just saw the-
Alex: What a journey you got on.
Pete: Wow, cool.
Justin: A conversational journey with [crosstalk 00:29:14].
Alex: Yeah. So Jody Houser does a great job of capturing her voice here, which is really fun. And again, as a fan of the character, is enjoyable. Like we’ve established, I think if you don’t know what’s going on, it might be a little bit of a heavy lift, but fun stuff. Next up American Vampire #1976… You know who has that, right? American Vampire 1976 #7 from DC Comics written by Scott Snyder, art by Francesco Francavilla, Tula Lotay, Ricardo López Ortiz. In this one, we’re taking a little bit of a break from the main storyline and getting three flashback stories that have taken place, not necessarily in 1976, which is a huge bummer.
Pete: Yeah. Because it’s right in the title and that’s the year that we’ve been having all the action and stuff take place. But wow, what an amazing story to go back and show us how actually George Washington died. So that was crazy.
Alex: Yeah. And this is a true story as well. Yeah.
Pete: Yeah. I mean, we’re going to have to rewrite all the history books, man.
Alex: We might solve a mystery.
Pete: Might solve a mystery.
Alex: There you go. He took that cheese.
Pete: Yeah, I did.
Justin: Pete loves cheese and he loves taking cheese.
Pete: Yeah. My mustache started freaking out, so I had this-
Justin: What’s this cheese in this little metal shelf here? No problem. I’ll just put my head and now, and I’ll remain here. Nibble. I mean, Scott Snyder is just meticulous in his storytelling. So of course we’re going to get a little bit of flashback. We’ve just had a lot of bits-
Pete: Yeah. You really walked away from all the action. I was kind of like, “Come on.”
Justin: Perfect. But I think just in the right time, just in the right space where we need to get a little bit more, gets to have some other artists come in and do the jam sesh. It’s great. It’s what you want.
Alex: Good staff. Next up, Jules Verne’s: Lighthouse #1 from Image Comics written by David Hine and Brian Haberlin, art by Brian Haberlin. In this book, a woman and [inaudible 00:31:11] robot are going on adventures. I think-
Justin: It’s like Dark tales.
Alex: Which is sad. I don’t know. I had a little bit of a hard time following this book to be perfectly honest with you, but I like the art.
Pete: Oh, yeah. I really like this idea of a space lighthouse and all these people traveling and they’re just stuck. And then when the kind of action comes to them, what’s going to happen? What’s going to go down? Yeah. I thought this did a really cool job of setting up this bigger art and there was a lot of attention and action. So I think as far as setting things up, I think they did a great job. Like you said, the art’s great. Some really interesting characters. So yeah, I very much enjoyed it.
Justin: This so hard reminded me of Lost in Space Netflix series, just like sort of across the board.
Justin: You? Alex, I know you watched that show.
Alex: I love that show.
Justin: Me too.
Alex: I always feel bad about this, because that show is so good, and I always forget that show exists.
Justin: Oh, interesting. Why?
Alex: I don’t know.
Justin: Here’s what I think, because I often forget it as well until I’m reminded by this book, but it comes out at odd times of the year where you just… or, at least I just binged it and it was like, that was great. And then you go back to other stuff.
Alex: Yeah. That’s probably it. I could see the relationship as well, but again, art is good. Pete seems to like it. So that’s great. The Joker #2 from DC Comics, written by James Tynion the IV and Sam Johns, art by Guillem March and Mirka Andolfo. In this book, we’re continuing former commissioner Gordon, excuse me…
Justin: Yeah. Please.
Alex: … hunt for the Joker, some big revelations of this issue about the world of Gotham City. And then we get a back-up with more punchline stuff in jail. One thing, more than anything else, that I was struck about with this book, and this is a big spoiler for the book. So don’t listen if you don’t want to, but it turns out that Gordon has always known, or at least known for a very long time, that Barbara Gordon is not just oracle, but also was, and is kind of bad girl. The narrative leaps that James Tynion goes through to justify that and make it work with the crazy continuity of any comic books company, is very impressive.
Alex: That’s all.
Justin: And I was just big upping Scott Snyder’s meticulousness, but James Tynion is like right there with someone who-
Pete: James Tynion IV. Dude don’t fuck up-
Justin: Of course. But came up in the very much the Scott Snyder vein in DC Comics and it’s just as meticulous, if not more, and really wants to make sure that every little story point is shuffled into being aligned in making perfect sense.
Pete: Yeah. I very much been enjoying this Joker book. I’ve been very interested at how different it is than I thought it was going to be. And Joker isn’t really in this issue a lot, but the Jim Gordon stuff is really intense and that whole line where he’s just like, “That clown has taken so much from me,” I was like, “Oh my God, this is very cool.” There’s a lot of different premises being set up in this, but doesn’t feel like a kind of middling issue or where things are kind of, “We’re just building these ponds to get them in different places.” I feel really enticed on where this is going. I’m really liking this whole clown hunt thing that is coming up. It’s very cool. And then there’s like a Lady Bane now, very exciting.
Justin: It really is a Jim Gordon book that is just titled Joker.
Alex: Right. Well, I think, the thing that struck me with this issue, to the point, you guys are both making, it feels like what James is doing is Hannibal set in the DC universe because the main character there is Will Graham and then you have Hannibal on the-
Pete: Wait, so Joker’s going to eat Jim Gordon’s…
Alex: No, that’s the thing. Hannibal would never eat Will Graham because they’re in love, they’re doing a dance of death type thing. And I think the same thing is happening with Gordon and Joker, is they’re locked in this dance of death where one is going to destroy the other, but more likely they’re both going to destroy each other simultaneously.
Pete: Or Jim has been the Joker the whole time.
Alex: Sure. That’s my-
Justin: And let me also say like, Hannibal is a cannibal because it rhymes. So Joker is a smoker or a midnight [inaudible 00:36:14].
Alex: Next up, Home Sick Pilots #5 from Image Comics written by Dan Watters, art by Caspar Wijngaard. Man, this book is so good. This is the end of the first art. We get our… speaking of Kaiju, Kaiju house fighting tape, Kaiju thing. The images in this book are so wildly insane. I know we’ve said wonderful things about every issue, but a good portion of the time, I’m not 100% sure what is happening in the book, but it doesn’t matter because it’s so engaging the entire time.
Justin: This book to me is like just great commitment, commitment to the premise, commitment to the characters and commitment to me like… I don’t know. This is what I want this to be. I want it to be a big house fight. And we just get to see these little elements that were put on the table early, heightened every issue to the point where we’re here and it feels totally earned. This book is great. One of my faves.
Pete: Yeah. I really love how it’s tying everything in, the action, the artwork, it’s all just amping up as we go in all the right ways. It really is so much more than just the kind of monster fight that’s being set up. There is just a lot of different things happening and it’s really impressive how well done it’s happening as it’s going. The character designs are unique, the paneling is really unique. It’s really impressive, the coloring and all the different stuff that is going into this. It’s a really top notch comic.
Justin: And we get a nice strong pivot at the end of this issue that I’m like, “What is this next chapter going to be?”
Alex: Yeah. Great stuff. Next up Superman #30 from DC Comics written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Sean Lewis, art by Scott Godlewski and Sami Basri. In this issue, we’re getting a flashback, I guess, to at adventure that Superman and his son went on an outer space, and then the backup story is all about ambush bug. Justin, you’ve been a big fan of all PKJ has been doing. What’d you think about this one?
Justin: Yeah. PKG is really carving out his own corner of the Superman mythology here and really pinning it on the father son stuff. It’s something that I really loved that was happening before we got into the Bendis era, which moved to hard away from that. And so, I really like this. It feels like a return to that form from before, but then adding this sense of just dread hanging over everything that I… You don’t really get in Superman very much. Superman is very much like bright, shiny, going out and doing stuff. To have it be an anxiety above Superman the whole time, I think is really different and interesting.
Alex: Pete, what about you?
Pete: Yeah, I think it’s an interesting story and cool art.
Alex: Sounds like you don’t like it, Pete. Who could ask for anything more?
Pete: Oh yeah. No, I mean, I don’t know. There’s a lot of different Superman stories. Sometimes Superman’s like, [crosstalk 00:39:29] and sometimes it’s like right on. So I don’t know. Maybe it was just the mood I was in or something where I wasn’t feeling a Superman story. I do think this is an interesting story and amazing art, so I don’t want to undercut something just because maybe I’m feeling like shit or something, but like-
Justin: Wow. Really taking it personal. You’re saying this is a Superman story, man-
Pete: Well, yeah. I mean, you’ve read stories or seen movies at different times in your life and-
Alex: Just not to interrupt, Pete. Justin, have you ever read stories or seen movies?
Justin: Oh, do you mean, Alex, at different times in my life?
Alex: Yeah, different times of your life.
Justin: Let me think back, I guess, it was different times. No, I think I watched all movies [inaudible 00:40:13] one time. There’s one time I watched all movies and this other time I read all stories.
Pete: Glad you guys are having fun.
Justin: I just tried to get to the bottom of what your take is. Pete said a lot of comics, we have a lot of different ideas and thoughts and takes, and you’re saying like you read a lot of different stories and you seen a lot of different movies, as you said, truly at different times in our lives.
Alex: Yep. All right. Let’s move on and talk about Birthright #48 from Image Comics, written by Joshua Williamson, art by Andrei Bressan. We’re getting to the end here. There are two more issues after this of Birthright. In this issue, Mikey is tracking down his magic brother abroad and I’ll tell you what. I mean, I’m getting a better sense of how this is going to end based on this issue, but it’s wild that this book has gone on so long past beating the main enemy of the series.
Justin: It has become different things. This issue, it’s becoming a story about the brothers, which is something that it wasn’t for a long time. It was about a kid, it was about a grownup sort of not ready, sort of like Tom Hanks big style story for awhile. Then it was a family story at different times, and it was a relationship story, and there was a fatherhood story. And now it becomes this brother story, which actually makes a lot of sense for where it started, that lost childhood, and here now, they’ve both arrived at this point of having lost their childhoods in a way that… That’s why I’ve loved this title from the jump. The way it’s been able to just be so many different things and still, at the very end, just like a bad-ass magic fantasy battle story.
Alex: Pete, what about you? What’s your take?
Pete: Yeah. I mean, brothers are tough. You got to go through a lot with your brother and… But I do like the way they’re tackling this in this book and the fact that one brother went out of his way to buy that kind of figure, and then the other brother was like, “Hey, thanks, give it to your kid.” Was such a heartbreaking small, but huge moment and in a way that really represents a lot of what brothers can be to each other. Sometimes you’re just really off with communication and different things hit you differently. It’s impressive to see that in a comic when there’s all this unbelievable action, and magic, and crazy shit going on. And it’s not just like my brother’s a dick and I got to kill him now, there’s just more to it. So I really appreciate what they’re doing. And Justin talks incessantly about this book. So I don’t want to step on his shoes a little bit here, but it’s really impressive how this book started and where it is now.
Justin: We’re brothers, but-
Pete: No, we’re not brothers.
Justin: I’m your dad.
Alex: Next step, Sweet Tooth: The Return #6 from DC Comics by Jeff Lemire. This is the final issue of this series that has rebooted Sweet Tooth in a new era. We’ve been, I think, enjoying but hesitant on this book until we saw how it wrapped up. Now that we know how it wrapped up, what’s your take? How are you feeling? Is this sweet or is it tooth?
Justin: It’s a lot of tooth.
Alex: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Justin: I don’t know. Reading this issue, it’s interesting. It feels like, the idea here is that humanity sticks together in the end and doesn’t want to kill everything for the sake of one madman’s belief system, despite the fact that he’s in charge. The whole thing feels like it’s a different shape of story or its… There’s not a protagonist here. It’s more like things are happening to these characters in a way that felt a little less… it was harder to enjoy this throughout out, I think.
Alex: Pete, what did you think?
Pete: So first off, I love the whole kind of elephant, kind of like, “Is this good guy, bad guy?” kind of like… I really love how it states a good guy, that really made me happy. I thought like ended in a very cool way. I also liked how the bad guy got undone. You know what I mean? So I was very happy with it, but I also wanted more because I know so much about Sweet Tooth and everything like that. So it was short and sweet, but I still loved it.
Alex: Short and Sweet Tooth.
Pete: I always liked Jeff Lemire’s art. It is so lovely in its simplicity, but I agree with you, Justin, there was something that I couldn’t quite get a handle on with this series. I think it’s worth reading, but it feels like a weird sequel that I’m not 100% sure what it was saying. Maybe it’s worth rereading the original series to compare it to it. That’s something that I haven’t done. I don’t think it detracts from the legacy of Sweet Tooth by any means.
Justin: No. And like you’re saying, the art’s really good. It’s a good story. It just felt like when you come back from a story as epic as the original Sweet Tooth, I just felt that there was going to be more of a… just a swing here. And it feels like it was just like taking up some of the leftover themes of Sweet Tooth to being like, “Well, here’s another theme that’s in that world with an elephant.”
Alex: There you go. The Scumbag #7 from Image Comics, written by Rick Remender, art by Francesco Mobili. This issue we are getting, our Scumbag is on the moon, battling people, finds out about a new cult. It is as usual raunchy and in your face. I thought this was a very fun issue of this book, but I’ve also been enjoying pretty much everyone across the board. What’d you guys think?
Justin: It really feels like, with this issue, it’s like, “Oh, this could just go on forever.” This could be just a real touching on a ton of superhero worlds and other genre worlds with this character that is always fun and funny, and always fucking up in new and interesting ways. And in that way it feels like a lot of Remender’s… Great. Like a fear agent for the modern age.
Alex: Pete, your take.
Pete: I’m sorry. I was texting Gabriel Rodriguez. Well, which one are we talking about?
Justin: Jesus, Pete. That’s a weird flex.
Alex: Scumbag #7. It was the one with all the [dongs 00:47:16], so you didn’t like it.
Pete: Right. No, I-
Justin: That’s why need more dongs.
Pete: Yeah. I think that-
Justin: More dongs [inaudible 00:47:26], Spider-Man, spider shadow.
Pete: What I like about this, is this thing that we’ve known has been coming, right? Is Scumbag going to be able to save the world or-
Alex: We doing an audio podcast, feel free to come into the microphone, Pete.
Pete: It’s these types of things that make me hate you with a fucking red hot passion.
Alex: Listen man, I refrained from making a joke about Spider-Man shadow is because of his dong. So credit where it’s due.
Pete: Great. So anyways, yeah, I feel like… I don’t even remember what I was saying.
Alex: Is this driving you nuts like the squirrel that went for my nuts?
Pete: No, boy.
Justin: Where are the squirrel really? When you think about it.
Alex: We’ve been crawling up your pants for like 14 years, Pete.
Justin: I’ve been living in a dong shadow.
Pete: Yeah. It’s one of those things where, “Is he really going to be able to save the day or is he going to just be…” It’s this back and forth. And I want him to be the good guy that I know is in there that we’ve seen glimpses of. And so, hopefully it can happen-
Alex: [crosstalk 00:48:40] Pete, you think?
Pete: I hope so. It was funny, his discovery of every call is really just about orgies, which I think is an interesting idea. But it’s like this thing of like, will he be able to keep it in his pants to save the world? So it will be interesting.
Alex: Proctor Valley Road #2 from BOOM! Studios, written by Alex Child and Grant Morrison, art by Naomi Franquiz. In this issue, our teens, I guess, are trying to figure out what happened last issue with the seeming werewolf attack, maybe a ghost attack off the road, things get weirder of this issue. What’d you think?
Justin: Another example of using different type of art to highlight the horror of this, we talked about that a little bit last issue, but continues on in this issue and just a good compelling story. It feels like a different version of Grant Morrison is here, doing this thing.
Pete: Yeah. I feel like this one is a little bit more Grant Morrissey. It gets a little bit drag tripped out with the cult and stuff like that. But yeah, it’s also nice to see Grant Morrison be a little bit more straightforward in this way, in this kind of story. I really like all the individual characters on this team. Everybody gets their moment and they showcase them in different ways, which I appreciate. Yeah, this is a very creepy, interesting story. I’m on board, so I’ll be interested to see how this all folds out. And, of course, the last page, if you read comics, is kind of knew what was coming. And I feel like they delivered it really well.
Alex: Next step, Karmen #2 from Image Comics by Guillem March. This is-
Pete: Oh man.
Alex: Picking up on the first issue where, trigger warning here, but a woman seemingly has committed suicide and she is in a place between life, between death, being ferried by this very death type character called Karmen, who is allowing her to fly naked around the city and revisit her old haunts. We get to see a little bit of more of Karmen, this issue, whatever else you want to say about this, this is a stunning looking book, absolutely stunning.
Justin: And so dreamy, dream-like, it feels like the point where she’s spotted by the kid, she thinks for a second, felt like such a dream moment where you’re like, “I’m having this great dream. I’m flying around naked.” And someone’s like, “Wait” And you’re like… And then you wake up. And this is, like you’re saying, beautifully drawn. I’m really interested in this story. And this issue is just something to really let wash over you as you read it.
Pete: I’ve seen a lot of comics and television and movies that try to capture dreamlike things, but the paneling here does it in such a really cool, interesting way that really does feel like she’s swimming through the air in this dreamlike state and it’s really well done. It’s very interesting, and the nudity aside, it’s very artistic and cool. I think that-
Justin: I think that nudity is also artistic.
Pete: Sure. But some people might be tuning in just for the nudity or whatever, so that’s why I was saying that.
Alex: So here’s one thing, and not to make you uncomfortable because I know you don’t love these aspects, but I appreciate the fact that the main character has a normal body that hangs in a normal way. It isn’t a superhero comic body with breasts that defy gravity. It is something that clearly Guillem March, who is known for his sexy women in the DC universe, is instead trying to reach into more life model territory. And I appreciate that. That’s part of what leads to the dreamlike… This is a sexy lady flying or naked around. It’s somebody who has forgotten their clothes in dream logic, like you’re saying.
Justin: Care is taken here to your point. That really makes it a unique story.
Pete: And speaking of care, Karen is a very… To see the way Karen interacts with different people. Very-
Alex: I’m sorry, Carmen, sorry.
Pete: Yeah, Carmen, it’s very interesting to see how… like that dude on the plane, oh my God, and her… It’s her day job. You know what I mean? So she’s invested, but not really caring. You know what I mean? It’s very interesting the way it’s portrayed in the comic book.
Alex: I love my day job.
Pete: Oh, okay.
Alex: Every bit of it.
Justin: Oh, really?
Pete: All right, great.
Alex: It’s wonderful.
Pete: I can tell by the fucking cool shit you get shipped to you in the backdrop, all right?
Alex: I’m just saying I need the [inaudible 00:53:47].
Justin: Is this your night job?
Alex: Yeah. This is my day job. [inaudible 00:53:53]. Okay?
Justin: Yeah. All right.
Pete: Wow. Pretty cool day job.
Alex: Speaking of things that are dark like night, Black Hammer Visions #3 from Dark Horse Comics, written by Chip Zdarsky, art by Johnnie Christmas, we’ve been loving this anthology series on the show that is telling different stories from different creators of the Black Hammer universe. This is telling one of Slam Bradley, I want to say.
Justin: That is a character from-
Alex: Abe Slam.
Justin: Abe Slam, Abraham Slam.
Alex: Abraham Slam. And this is wildly like the plot of Falcon and the Winter Soldier. This issue [crosstalk 00:54:33] surprising to me. What did you guys think of this one?
Pete: Yeah, I think it’s tough getting old. Some young kid comes up trying to take your job.
Alex: What do you know about that?
Alex: What do you know about tough getting old?
Pete: I’m old.
Alex: You’re 16 years old, Pete.
Pete: Oh, wow. That’s nice to you to say. I’ve got a drinking problem for 16. Yeah, I like what the character is going through. It’s very relatable. This is very interesting. There’s a lot of high stakes, which is cool. It’s nice to see a character grow and it gives me hope that maybe I can get over my own bullshit.
Alex: Justin, what about you?
Justin: Like you said, I’ve been loving the anthology nature of this series and being able to touch on these different characters and have the stories be so different and be about just totally different things. And this was cool in different… like the guy doesn’t get his girlfriend back at the end, he just figures out his life a little bit, which I didn’t see coming.
Alex: It’s really good stuff. Even if you haven’t been reading the Black Hammer books, I think you could pick this one up and-
Alex: That is it. If you’d like to support us, patreon.com/comicbookclub. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday night.
Pete: We sure do.
Alex: At 7:00 PM, Crowdcast and YouTube, come hang out. We would love to chat-
Pete: It’s my day job.
Alex: … 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. Until next time, we’ll see you at the virtual comic book shop. See you there. (singing).
3 thoughts on “The Stack: Locke & Key/Sandman, Batman, And More”
Why can’t I download the show from this page? I just found your show a couple of months ago, ans I really enjoy it, but now I have to click over to 3 other pages just to download it. Why are you making it so hard to enjoy your show? And I don’t want to stream it, I don’t want to subscribe, I just want to listen.
Hiya! Thanks so much for listening, and it is super easy: click the arrow in the upper right corner of the player, then click “download.” Bam! Done. Let us know if you have any issues.
Thank you. I am old and not familiar with the new fangled ways you kids have.