The Stack: X-Corp, Time Before Time And More
On this week’s Stack podcast:
Written by Tini Howard
Art by Alberto Foche
Time Before Time #1
Written by Declan Shalvey and Rory McConville
Art by Joe Palmer
Wonder Woman #722
Written by Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad
Art by Travis Moore
Giant-Size Amazing Spider-Man: King’s Ransom #1
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Rogê Antônio, with Carlos Gomez & Zé Carlós
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #25
Written by Jeremy Lambert
Art by Valentina Pinti
The Joker #3
Written by James Tynion IV, Sam Johns
Art by Guillem March, Mirka Andolfo
Ice Cream Man #24
Written by W. Maxwell prince
Art by Martín Morazzo
Written by Tom King
Art by Jorge Fornés
Heroes Reborn #2
Written by Jason Aron
Art by Dale Keown with Carlos Magno, Ed McGuinness
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank
Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Sean Lewis
Art by Scott Godlewski and Norm Rapmund, Sami Basri
By Guillem March
Batman: The Detective #2
Written by Tom Taylor
Art by Andy Kubert
Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #2
Written by Chip Zdarksy
Art by Pasqual Ferry
Seven Secrets #8
Written by Tom Taylor
Art by Daniele Di Nicuolo
American Vampire 1976 #8
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Rafael Albuquerque
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Andrei Bressan
Justice League: Last Ride #1
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Miguel Mendonça
Written by Jed MacKay
Art by Ig Guara
Future State: Gotham #1
Written by Joshua Williamson and Dennis Culver
Art by Giannis Milonogiannis
The Silver Coin #2
Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Michael Walsh
Proctor Valley Road #3
Written by Grant Morrison and Alex Child
Art by Noami Franquiz
Black Hammer Visions #4
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mariko Tamaki
Art by Diego Olortegui
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Full Episode Transcript
Alex: What’s up, y’all? Welcome to The Stack. I’m Alex.
Justin: I’m Justin.
Pete: I’m Pete.
Alex: On The Stack, we talk about a bunch of comics that have come out this week and review them on our comic book podcast. Kicking it off-
Justin: That is it.
Alex: Yeah. That’s the concept. That’s the pitch, right across the plate.
Justin: That’s the take.
Alex: Yeah. X-Corp #1 from Marvel Comics, written by Tini Howard, art by Alberto Foche. In this book, we are very similar to Way of X, where that was looking at the religious side of what’s going on in the X-Men universe. This is looking at the business side. We’ve got Monet St. Croix and Angel, Warren Worthington, are leading up the X-Corp. They’re trying to monetize everything that’s going on with the X-Men. Well, there’s still some action, and there’s some Multiple Man ridiculousness going on in here. I already see Pete nodding his head, no, no, no. So why don’t we go to Justin. What’s your take on this one?
Justin: Because I’m saying yes, yes, yes. Do you think Monet is related to LaCroix, the LaCroix franchise?
Alex: She had a bit of a pamplemousse taste to her in this issue.
Pete: That’s some bougie shit right there.
Justin: Yes, and that’s what this issue’s all about, really. I like this book a lot. You know what it reminds me of? Perhaps a not-popular run of a comic on Wildcats. I think it was their V3 or their season three of Wildcats, where the team was running the corporation, and it was about building new batteries, but there’s something about it that really caught me, and this same thing. It’s about the machinations that go on. I love this very small team. Always love seeing Multiple Man. He’s in yet a new iteration that I don’t quite know how it works, because a lot of his-
Pete: Also, your boy Penance is here.
Alex: No. That’s Monet St. … Monet turns into something called Penance. It’s different.
Justin: Yes, but it’s the same name as Penance, but a different Penance.
Pete: Yeah. I thought it was like [crosstalk 00:02:13].
Alex: Justin just likes the concept of Penance.
Justin: Yeah. Exactly. I feel like my penance for interrupting Pete is to keep doing it.
Alex: I like this as well. I thought for sure you were going to call out Peter David’s X-Factor, because that feels like the primary inspiration behind this book, just in terms of tone and the humor and everything that’s going on, and like we talked about with Way of X, I like exploring other aspects of this world, because the first titles out of the gate … A lot of them are very good, but they all felt like they were struggling with the idea of “Yeah. These are different X-Men teams,” you know?
Alex: They weren’t calling it that, but that’s essentially what it was in different formats, and I think, with the second iteration here, we’re getting this writing team being much more comfortable with “Okay. People are established. They’re reading this. They understand this concept. We know it’s weird. We don’t have to coddle them anymore. Let’s take the guide rails off and just go for it,” and I know that’s your least favorite thing about it, Pete, and I get that, but I’d rather-
Pete: [crosstalk 00:03:19].
Alex: … see weird and interesting exploration of this X-Men side of the universe.
Pete: There is so much crazy shit happening in X-Men. We have no idea what’s going on in certain aspects, and instead of dealing with that, they’re like “You know what we should explore? The business side. Oh, man. Who doesn’t want to know about how business works?”
Alex: I do.
Pete: How are you making this worse? Oh, let’s do this. I don’t want to see people double-talking each other, just lying, doing business moves, bullshit going back and forth. Oh, wow. Flying island. Cool. We’re going to go pick somebody up. Great, but what are we doing? What are we doing?
Alex: I kind of skirt understanding your point, Pete, until you get to things like “Who would find a fucking flying island cool? Come on. That’s stupid, people.” That is inherently cool. It’s a flying island that floats over and attacks things.
Pete: Yeah, but it just goes to pick up one person, a whole island just to pick up one person.
Alex: Are you telling me, if an island came to pick you up, you’d be like “Whatever. Not interested”?
Pete: I’d be like “Guys, this seems like a waste of resources. We could have used any of the other fucking things we have [crosstalk 00:04:38].”
Justin: Pete, just imagine your great, great grandfather, if he knew that you had a car pick you up, an Uber, and drive you somewhere. Think about that.
Pete: Oh, okay. All right.
Alex: Man, that’s [crosstalk 00:04:48].
Justin: Our children or our children’s children might be being picked up by islands all the time.
Pete: Oh, I see what you’re saying.
Justin: “I’m ready to go home. Call the island.”
Pete: Just call the island. “I’m too drunk. Call the island.”
Alex: I think this is good. I enjoy it. Let’s move on to another one though. Time Before Time #1 from Image Comics, written by Declan Shalvey and Rory McConville, art by Joe Palmer. In this book, time travel exists, and it’s mainly used for taking rich folks and moving them to safe places of the past, because the future is so bad, and predictably, things go very, very wrong with this concept, but I like this a lot. Loved Joe Palmer’s art. I thought this was really good. I thought the writing here was very interesting and a different take on time travel. What did you guys think?
Justin: This was fun. There’s some great twists and turns. I love the big conversation that happens. I won’t spoil what happens, but the big conversation that happens two thirds of the way through the book, I thought, was awesome and super sad but also very interesting. I think this is a great book. Great first issue.
Pete: Yeah. I really love the setup of this book. The art’s fantastic. Even though they’re kind of dealing with different times, the way they’re kind of dealing with it was interesting. Yeah. There’s a part in here that’s very touching, about getting old and shit and how … I thought it was very creative in a fun way that I think did a good job for getting you excited for more.
Justin: I’m going to say Bottle Rocket with a time machine.
Alex: Nice take. Wonder Woman #722 from DC Comics, written by Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad, art by Travis Moore. We have been loving this run so far that has taken Diana and put her in the Norse mythology. Lots of big revelations in this issue as we start to figure out exactly what’s going on here. I continue to think this run is great.
Justin: Love this.
Pete: I agree. It’s a really cool adventure. It’s weird how Wonder Woman needs help and keeps dying. That part bothers me, but I really love the art, really love the storytelling. Great use of Odin. Yeah. I’m having a lot of fun with this book.
Justin: Yeah. I agree. When Wonder Woman was sort of taken off the table after the last big event, I was like “Oh, they’ll probably just reintroduce her in a year or whatever,” and I think this is such a more interesting, fun, and smart way of doing it, and I can’t wait to keep reading it. I’m going to say Bottle Rocket with Valkyries.
Pete: Oh, my god. You’re the worst.
Alex: Next up, here’s Bottle Rocket with Amazing Spider-Man, Giant-Size Amazing Spider-Man: King’s Ransom #1 from Marvel, written by Nick Spencer, art by Roge Antonia with Carlos Gomez and Ze Carlos. This is, as you can probably figure out from the title … This is a one-shot spinning out of Amazing Spider-Man that is showing us what’s going on with the mysterious tablets that Boomerang and Spider-Man have been after, as well as the Kingpin. There’s a big surprise return at the end of this issue as well as twists aplenty. I have, as we’ve talked about here on the podcast, been a little down on Amazing Spider-Man because it’s been so caught up in that whole Kindred thing for a while. This, I thought, was more what I expect from Amazing Spider-Man. It’s fun. It’s enjoyable. It’s clearly Nick Spencer playing on his … What was it? … Superior Foes of Spider-Man book here and channeling a little bit of that energy, and I had a good time reading this.
Justin: Yeah. I mean, Nick Spencer’s in love with Boomerang and has been for years, and this is sort of the ultimate payoff of that. So it was good to see that. I like the return, the surprise return at the end. Feels very like Web of Spider-Man from the mid ’90s when I was-
Pete: Web of?
Justin: … really getting into Spider-Man comics. So that’s cool. To your point, Alex, Nick Spencer’s tone has been a little bit all over the place, and I would like some stabilization on that, because this is still a little bit in the middle where it’s fun stuff, fun stuff, fun stuff. I’m still as depressed about the bad stuff that happened like four issues ago, but fun stuff, and I’m like “Well, what is our status quo?”
Pete: Yeah. I hear what you’re saying, and that’s why I like this, like “Okay. This is number one, giant size. Let’s kind of get a fresh start. Walk away from that bullshit he’s doing before,” and so I kind of like “Okay, Nick Spencer. Not angry. Let’s do this,” and so I really like this first issue, and I felt like this is something I can get behind. So I’m happy with this, and I’m hoping he doesn’t piss me off.
Alex: Next up, Buffy the Vampire Slayer #25 from BOOM! Studios, written by Jeremy Lambert, art by Valentina Pinti. The big twist in this issue is that the characters in this reboot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer head to the continuity of Buffy the Vampire Slayer the TV series. So we’re getting both casts kind of but not exactly interacting. I love the idea here, and I love the joke that they have at the end that I’m not 100 percent sure I should spoil, but it’s a long-time running joke for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that pays off really nicely here, but I feel like the execution was a little bit muddled, to be honest. It was hard to keep track of which characters are which. So I’m engaged in the idea enough that I want to read another issue and kind of see where this goes, but this didn’t totally work for me. What about you guys?
Justin: I feel the same way. It feels like it’s like Sliders, but for Buffy, and they don’t really … It’s just complicated. There’s too much talking about how complicated it is and not enough just doing it.
Pete: Yeah. I hear you. I think this is some great art. They’re having a lot of fun. It’s clear there’s a lot of winking to things that I don’t get, but the characters and the kind of humor of this make it good enough to read and worth picking up. I’m just not sure. It feels like I should be having more fun than I am.
Justin: Very light on the actual vampire slaying.
Alex: Should be a little bit more of that, hopefully, in the next issue.
Justin: Almost haven’t seen a vampire slain in quite a few issues.
Alex: Let’s move on then and talk about The Joker #3 from DC Comics, written by James Tynion IV and Sam Johns, art by Guillem March and Mirka Andolfo.
Pete: If I remembered to write this down earlier, I would have said this was my favorite.
Alex: So we’ve been pretty high on this book, which is much more a Commissioner Gordon book than a Joker book. I think last issue I called it kind of Hannibal but with the Joker and Commissioner Gordon. That-
Pete: And Bottle Rocket.
Alex: … kind of comes to bear, I think, in this issue, but in a very different and surprising way. The tension here, the way that they’re building it up … So good. So much fun. Can’t say enough about Guillem March’s art. As always, just great stuff. What’d you guys think?
Pete: I loved this. I thought it was so great. The fact that we’re kind of dealing with Gordon and all the shit that he’s been through in Gotham and how he deals with it and how he reflects on it and just his description of Joker driving him mad was so intense, and I really felt this issue. I though it was just really, really fun. I got very excited. I think this is definitely worth checking out.
Justin: Yeah. The character exploration of Commissioner Gordon … You really haven’t seen him done like this before, and it’s dark but breaking new ground in a great way, and then the twist at the end is really good. The issue’s like a long march toward what’s going to happen, and then boom, the door opens, and it’s definitely not what you thought.
Alex: Yeah. Great stuff. This book is so good. I can’t wait to read the next issue. Next up, one of our favorites, Ice Cream Man #24 from Image Comics, written by W. Maxwell Prince, art by Martín Morazzo. In this issue, we’re getting a fundraiser for a guy, and that’s it, just a random guy. His life is bad. Things go bad for him. Nobody is raising money for him, but the smart concept here that I think they’re really playing with is the idea of how complicit we are in the suffering of comic book characters merely by being readers who flip the page. Maybe not the absolute strongest or most mind-blowing issue of Ice Cream Man, but still very well done, very smart. Great art, as always.
Justin: Yeah. I mean, even good ice cream is still great, Alex. You would love ice cream.
Alex: Thanks, Stephen Baldwin from Threesome.
Justin: Wow. Okay.
Justin: I got what you’re saying. I got you.
Alex: Sex is-
Justin: I think he said about pizza.
Alex: He was talking about pizza, not ice cream.
Justin: He was talking about pizza and sex. I’m talking about-
Pete: Wow. The fact that you know that is unbelievable.
Justin: Ice cream and comic books.
Alex: Ice cream is just cold pizza …
Justin: Oh, yes. That’s right.
Alex: … that’s sweet.
Pete: [crosstalk 00:14:14].
Justin: Yeah, and all-
Alex: They’re both milk based.
Justin: … and mushed up, and all mushed up.
Pete: Pizza’s not milk based.
Justin: There’s a truck that drives around and says “Cold, mushed-up pizza in a cone.” Ding-a-ling.
Pete: With sprinkles. [crosstalk 00:14:28].
Alex: Cold, mushed-up pizza man. Pizza here.
Pete: Anyways, the comic-
Alex: Ice-cold pizza. Pizza man.
Pete: Stop. Please stop.
Alex: Can’t wait to go back to the ballgame and have the pizza man toss me an ice-cold pizza.
Justin: Pete’s a pizza man. Pizza. Pete’s a pizza man. Right, Pete?
Pete: Oh, my god.
Justin: Pete’s a pizza man.
Pete: I wish I was in the same room with you guys. I would smack you guys.
Justin: What would you do if you were in the same room?
Pete: I would-
Justin: I wish we were in the same room. I miss seeing you guys.
Pete: [crosstalk 00:14:55].
Justin: We were just talking about when are we going to see each other in person again.
Alex: Pete suggested a lovely trip to London, which I thought sounded pretty nice.
Pete: Yeah. Let’s do it.
Justin: Which made no sense. It was-
Pete: Why not? It was an option on the email, you fuckers. Anyways, here’s the thing-
Justin: What option?
Pete: I’m not going to stand for this. Ice Cream Man is fantastic. I love this whole thing about when and where people choose to care about people, how they choose to care about them, and then I like the way it ended, and they’re like “Oh, we’re going to raise money for his funeral,” and I bet that would have made more money than to save his life, because that’s how fucked up we are, but I really think it was a cool … That’s why I’m really impressed about Ice Cream Man is you don’t know what you’re going to get, but it’s always interesting. It’s always very cool and creepy and really interestingly done, and I continue to be impressed by these.
Alex: Life is like a box of cold pizza. You never know what you’re going to get. Right, Pete?
Justin: This one tastes like pizza.
Pete: Are you Cajun? What accent was that?
Alex: I don’t know.
Pete: Oh, my god.
Alex: This book is great. Pick it up regardless of any nonsense we just talked about.
Pete: Thank you.
Alex: Rorschach #8 from DC Comics, written by Tom King, are by Jorge Fornes. In this issue, we have our main investigator is looking deeper into the mystery of what went on with our comic book author and cowboy kid. Also in this issue, Frank Miller is arrested for conspiracy for murder. Lots of stuff going on. I thought this issue was great.
Pete: It’s Justin’s favorite.
Justin: This book is fun.
Justin: This book is so fun. I mean, and it’s weird what is really compelling in comics, but when I was like … Frank Miller’s being dragged out. He’s causing all these problems. That’s very good.
Pete: Yeah. I have no idea what’s happening, but I’m having a really great time with this book. This issue’s very segmented based on the different people, but they’re all kind of being questioned. It’s very creepy, cool, interesting, intriguing. It’s just great, great storytelling in a very interesting way, and it’s very impressive.
Alex: I mean, in particular, we’ve talked about this a little bit with Batman/Catwoman, which honestly-
Pete: [crosstalk 00:17:17].
Alex: … I have a little bit of a problem following exactly what’s going on in terms of the time period. Here, I believe it’s Dave Stewart is on the colors, and that delineates the three different interrogations we’re getting over the course of the issue, and that makes it very easy to follow. So you have this progressive story that’s happening over three different time periods, but it all makes sense. I think the place that we’re heading towards here is this guy, this investigator, is becoming Rorschach slowly over the course of it. Just as whatever you see in a Rorschach is about yourself, the same thing is happening to him. I think we talked about that a couple of issues back, and that keeps striking me issue after issue. Like with a lot of Tom King stuff, like we’ve talked about before, I think it’s going to become more clear as we head towards the end, but this is great. This is a really good book.
Pete: I think-
Justin: But I think-
Pete: I think … Oh. I think they’re all Rorschach, because if you sat in a therapy session with a Rorschach mask on, I think the therapist’s head would explode.
Alex: Fair enough.
Justin: Something to think about. I think the book feels like it’s sort of about the seductive nature of conspiracies, and I think you’re right, Alex. We’re seeing this investigator sort of fall down it, and now we’ve introduced much more quote-unquote normal people who are been tied up in this conspiracy, and then there’s a great reveal at the end of this issue that pushes it forward yet another … or ratchets it up another level, and there’s so many ideas here, and it just feels like it’s just poking you a little bit harder each time.
Alex: Yeah. Next up, Heroes Reborn #2 from Marvel, written by Jason Aaron, art by Dale Keown with Carlos Magno, and Ed McGuinness on the backup story. This is a really weird second issue of this book. The first one set up that the history of America had been changed. Captain America was never rescued from the ice, or maybe died. Blade is the only one who remembers the real history, while Squadron Supreme is in charge. In this issue, we get two stories set in this world, the first one about Hyperion to the point where I kept checking the cover just to make sure I wasn’t reading Heroes Reborn Hyperion one-shot or something like that. Still good stories and good art. It’s just surprising to read this in an event. Did you guys feel the same way?
Pete: I …
Justin: Go ahead.
Pete: I wasn’t confused by the title, but I definitely was like “We’re spending a lot of time with Hyperion,” but I thought-
Justin: Alex, if you just read the title, that’s what the book’s about.
Pete: Yeah, and then it states-
Alex: Pete says “I’m not a dumb idiot like you, Alex.”
Pete: That’s not what I was saying.
Justin: Didn’t have to keep flipping back like some sort of tiny brain.
Pete: I didn’t go to Cornell. So I’m not that smart, but I was smart enough to read the title and then hold it while I read the comic, but I do think that-
Justin: Yeah. Where are you at, crouton? You can’t hold on to that info?
Pete: I did like the way it ended, and it got me excited for more. It got a little weird, but I thought it was interesting. The art and the action is fun enough to kind of keep me interested, and the team is going to keep me coming back for more. So I’m still on board.
Justin: I like this a lot as well. It’s interesting to me. It almost feels like this book is an indictment of DC Comics in a weird way. Did anyone else … It feels like Hyperion, the Squadron Supreme, and that team are … It’s obviously a Justice League analog, but it also feels like they’re being told in this unemotional way. They don’t really have normal emotions. They’re sort of sociopaths, and I think that might be sort of like a nod to the fact that a lot of the criticism of the DC heroes is that they aren’t down to Earth, they’re gods, but they’re not people, and Marvel Comics characters are always people first and heroes second. So I don’t know. That’s what I was thinking as I was reading this.
Pete: I feel like you got to watch who you’re calling a sociopath. I mean, it looks like you’ve got a bunch of empty beer bottles and then a giant knife behind you. So just be cool.
Justin: That’s a drill.
Justin: Also, those two-
Pete: No. I see the drill, but that knife sheath hanging in the background is a little-
Justin: Oh. That’s a pool cue in a-
Pete: Oh, okay. That’s Lucille wrapped up, ready for-
Justin: It’s a pool cue with barbed wire on the end.
Alex: So Pete, the fact that you saw a bunch of innocuous tools in a basement as knives, do you think that says more about Justin or about you?
Justin: Yeah. You’re Rorschach. This is your Rorschach, you crazy dude.
Pete: I failed.
Justin: You just got Rorschached.
Alex: Let’s move on then and talk about Geiger #2 from Image Comics, written by Geoff Johns, art by Gary Frank. This is picking up in a post-apocalyptic world where there is one man who is radioactive. There are a bunch of folks alive in Vegas. One is going after them. There’s a big time dash here from the first issue to the second issue, which you must have hated, Pete.
Pete: Yep. Vegas, baby.
Alex: But I’m curious to hear from you, Justin, because I think we talked about the first issue when you were not here on the podcast.
Pete: Yeah. That’s true.
Alex: What was your take on this one?
Justin: I really love the Gary Frank art. Always great to see Gary Frank out there making it happen, and then it’s fun. I don’t know. I wasn’t crazy for this, I guess. The radioactive man … It feels a little bit like-
Pete: The Glowing Man.
Justin: The Glowing Man. It feels a little bit like this is a TV pitch, in a way.
Alex: Your voice went very high there at the end.
Pete: Yeah. Are you okay?
Justin: In a way.
Pete: In a way, I’m freaking out.
Alex: What about you, Pete? What was your take?
Pete: I like this. We’re kind of getting to know the world a little bit more in this issue and what’s going on and who the players are. Glowing Man was kind of just like “Oh, shit. What’s happening?” So I’m glad we got a little closer interaction with him, and he seems like a solid dude. So anyone’s going to save people from-
Justin: He likes to read.
Pete: … those giant scorpions and stuff. Yeah. He’s a reader. I would have asked for a graphic novel, not a book, but that’s just me.
Alex: No. I think that’s a good take on it, because like we were saying, Gary Frank’s art is gorgeous and so well drawn, as usual. There’s a reveal of a character’s face about halfway, three quarters of the way through the issue, which is really terrifying and upsetting in exactly the right way, but it doesn’t feel big enough for this team yet, you know?
Alex: I think they had a shot across the bow with the first issue, not quite as much with the second issue, but it’s setting up a lot of stuff. We’ll see, I guess, how it plays off in the long term. Next up, Superman #31 from DC Comics, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Sean Lewis, art by Scott Godlewski and Norm Rapmund and Sami Basri. In this issue, we’re continuing the story of Superman and his son in space, fighting a weird alien menace. Justin, you’ve been the number-one fan of the PKJ era. How’s this holding up for you?
Justin: I love it. I mean, it’s still the father-son stuff. Despite all of the wild stuff they’re doing and just … They have a lot of tasks. The series right now is all about the connection between Superman and his son and how it’s a little bit flipped, where the son is trying to protect Superman so much, and I think that’s a great dynamic. It really is paying off, all the stuff I loved about the earlier run before John was moved forward, aged up, when he was with the Legion. So I like this a lot.
Alex: Pete, what about you?
Pete: Yeah. I’m excited to see how this unfolds. Feel just like this issue was just kind of like-
Justin: Did you get a little sleepy there, Pete?
Pete: No. This issue didn’t grab me like the other issues. I really felt the father-son dynamic more in other issues, and I feel like this was just kind of like “All right. We got to move some stuff around, get it ready for the ending.” So I was like “All right.” I’m still into this. I’m excited to see how this unfolds, but this wasn’t my favorite ish.
Alex: All right. Fair enough.
Alex: Moving on to Karmen #3 from Image Comics, by Guillem March. This is his solo title. This is about a woman who has died by suicide. She is traveling around the city revisiting key moment in her life along with an avatar of death. We find out a little bit more of this world this issue. I really find myself liking this more and more every issue. I mean, the thing that sucked me in was Guillem March’s art to begin with, but this is the one where it really starts to pay off emotionally and really crisp in in a certain way. I thought it was really good.
Pete: Yeah. I was really impressed. I mean, it got away from the things that Zalben liked, like a naked lady floating around a city, and got into a little bit more-
Alex: Yeah. My least favorite part is when she put on a jacket, Pete. Thank you for pointing that out.
Pete: Yeah. Yeah. But just what she was willing to do for this stranger who was proposing … This is heartbreaking stuff, and then to have the other person who’s working this job of helping these souls move on to the next thing … Very cool idea. Very creative, and just such a issue that hit you in the feels, man.
Justin: Yeah. It was really emotional in the back end. To your point, Alex, everything came into focus a little bit more. I feel like the first couple issues, we were definitely sort of in this dream state, just caught up in this beautiful art and this woman floating around the city. It felt very like an untethered soul, and then here, reality sort of comes back into sharp relief, and we get some great details. The March goes on, the Guillem March.
Alex: There you go. Next up, Batman-
Justin: It’s like Bottle Rocket … Oh.
Pete: [inaudible 00:27:47].
Alex: Next up, Batman: The Detective #2 from DC Comics, written by Tom Taylor, art by Andy Kubert. Like we talked about with the first issue, this is a not actually older Batman, but sort of writing it as an older Batman. He is going up against an organization that is trying to kill everybody that Batman has ever saved, because they don’t deserve to live, I guess, is the idea. This is great. Tom Taylor is always reliably good. Andy Kubert’s art is great. This is a very different-feeling Batman book, and I’m really enjoying it.
Justin: Yeah. I feel like I just sort of wider view. There’s a lot of good Batman out there right now. The Batman universe is just really great with a lot of very different types of stories being told right now, from The Joker we just talked about to this and everything in the main title, but yeah. I agree with you. I like this a lot. We don’t ever get to see Batman in a weak place, and we get a little bit of that here. It’s good.
Pete: Yeah. I really agree. I think it’s a fantastic story that they’re exploring through Batman, and the art’s unbelievable. It feels like a really great Batman story. I’m excited to see how this unfolds and who’s behind the undoing of everything that Batman has done. So I’m very excited.
Alex: Pete, I actually have a question for you.
Pete: Oh, wow. Okay.
Alex: Tell me. Do you bleed …
Pete: Wait. Are you quoting that shitty fucking Batman v Superman movie at me right now?
Alex: … when you shave your balls?
Pete: Fuck me with this shit.
Alex: Huh? Pete?
Pete: Oh, man.
Alex: Do you?
Alex: Do you bleed? Tell me.
Pete: Oh, my god.
Justin: This is good, but what I want to say is … Sorry. I hate to interrupt, but-
Alex: Oh, yes.
Justin: … Alex is trying to set up that if you want to get a nice smooth shave, unlike Batman’s facial stubble that we’ve just talking about, you should try the just-released Lawn Mower 4.0 trimmer from manscaped.com.
Pete: This is the worst setup of all time.
Alex: The good people of Gotham deserve to know this week’s episode is brought to you by manscaped.com and the new Lawn Mower 4.0.
Pete: Are you doing Christian Bale right now?
Justin: Sort of a breathier Bale. There’s a lot of-
Alex: It’s a breathy Bale.
Justin: He’s in a high-altitude area. So he’s breathing really heavy.
Alex: My oxygen’s very low.
Justin: But I think what breathless Alex is referring to is the area below your utility belt when you take advantage of the new advanced ceramic blade and SkinSafe technology in the Law Mower 4.0.
Alex: The Lawn Mower 4.0. Am I still doing the-
Justin: Nope. Not necessary.
Alex: No? Okay.
Justin: Nope. I don’t think so.
Pete: Nope. Nope.
Alex: The Lawn Mower 4.0 has a 4000k LED spotlight, allows you to use different guard lengths if you’re going more Batfleck than Kilmer, and it’s even waterproof.
Pete: Okay. All right. Justin was just talking about how great Batman is, and we’re kind of insulting Batman right now with this bit.
Alex: No, no, no. I’m saying, like Batfleck, he always had the stubble going, and Kilmer was more a clean-shaven Batman-
Justin: Yes. [crosstalk 00:31:19].
Alex: … and the Lawn Mower has the different guard rails so you can get both lengths if you really want to.
Justin: What a great way for us all to think of these different Batman stars. It’s just a couple of big old balls, and let me just say, if you want your balls to be smoother than the pearls that fell of of Martha Wayne’s neck-
Pete: Oh, my god. What are we doing right now?
Justin: This is the copy. They wrote that. That was their idea.
Alex: Yeah. They demanded this.
Justin: Yeah. A hundred percent. Just think. As each pearl plink-plinks down to the Crime Alley street, that’s one very cleanly shaved ball with the Lawn Mower 4.0, and good news. You can 20 percent off and free shipping with the code FANSIDED20 at manscaped.com. That’s 20 percent off with free shipping at manscaped.com. Use the code FANSIDED20. You can unlock your confidence and always use the right tools for the job, just like Batman does, with Manscaped.
Alex: Oh, yeah. I guess I could have gone for a whole utility belt thing instead for the script.
Justin: No. No. This is the right choice.
Pete: I’m sorry.
Alex: The other right choice is to get back to The Stack and the reviews that we’re doing. Let’s talk about Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #2 from Marvel, written by Chip Zdarsky, art by Pasqual Ferry
Pete: Moving on.
Alex: This is a retake on the Venom symbiote story. At the end of the last issue, we-
Justin: It’s like a what-if.
Alex: Yes. It’s a what-if. It’s an extended what-if though, and at the end of last issue, we saw Spider-Man kill Hobgoblin for killing Aunt May. That’s where we pick off here, and it just gets worse. I really like this story. This is very dark.
Alex: This is very upsetting. Pete, I’m not saying I like Spider-Man killing people. I’m saying it’s well done.
Pete: It seems like that’s exactly what you’re saying.
Alex: I’m actually surprised that you don’t love it.
Pete: Well, that’s the thing.
Justin: I think what we’re saying as a podcast-
Pete: Here’s what we’re-
Justin: We’re saying as a podcast that this is our Spider-Man going forward.
Pete: Oh, my god. No. That’s not what we’re saying.
Alex: In continuity. This is our base continuity.
Pete: Okay. First off, I did like when Spider-Man got pissed off, wore the black and was not as quippy and was more about kicking butt, but him straight up ripping people’s arms off in this and then just murdering people … This is hard to watch. This is hard to see Spider-Man … Even Mary Jane is like “Yo, guy.” Yeah. This is hard. I don’t like this. There’s stabbing going on. There’s all sorts of fucked up shit, and this isn’t Spider-Man. This is a different character.
Alex: I agree.
Pete: [crosstalk 00:33:53].
Alex: Classic Spider-Man would have ripped off somebody’s arms and then said something like “I got to hand it to you,” or something quippy like that.
Pete: Oh, my god.
Justin: Now that’s a fun line.
Alex: That would be a fun line.
Justin: You know, I got to say-
Pete: You know what? I just want to say, if you’re continuing to listen after all the balls stuff and then this, I thank you for your support. I apologize.
Justin: That’s the spirit. I got to say I think there’s something up with this suit, Venom suit.
Alex: Yeah. I don’t know what. Yeah. I think Reed Richards is going to figure it out.
Justin: He’s investigating, and I think … So we’re going to learn that it’s not just … I think Peter Parker is a pretty decent guy, and there’s something up with the change as he’s got this goopy suit.
Alex: I’ll read the next issue, and I’ll be the judge of that.
Justin: I like this a lot too. I think it is dark in a great way. It’s a real Chip Zdarsky universe that we’re living in this week, and this guy is killing it.
Alex: Next up, Seven Secrets #8 from BOOM! Studios, written by Tom Taylor, art by Daniele Di Nicuolo. In this issue, one of the big questions that we’ve had all along … What are even these secrets? We find out at least one of them, what they do and what they’re all about, this issue. It is big and weird and a good payoff. I was worried that this wasn’t going to be something interesting or surprising, but it absolutely is. I like this issue. I like this series. How about you guys?
Justin: Who’s mad at Switzerland? Why are we after Switzerland in this issue?
Alex: I don’t know.
Pete: Because they’re neutral. I feel-
Justin: So it’s like choose a side?
Pete: Yeah. Yeah. I think I agree. This is a fun kind of like … I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying this, because it’s a lot of buildup with “Oh, secrets. Oh, secrets,” and we don’t get one until the eighth issue, and agreeing with Zalben here, it’s worth it. It’s worth the wait. This is very interesting. These have been a lot of fun, and I’m continuing to enjoy the art and the world that this has.
Justin: Part of keeping a secret is not telling it for a while.
Alex: Next up, American Vampire … Excuse me … 1976 #8 from DC Comics, written by Scott Snyder, art by Rafael Albuquerque. In this issue-
Alex: … we’re getting the fallout of the big twist from two issues ago at this point, where our main heroes were betrayed and left for dead. Skinner Sweet makes a big decision in this issue, and it’s very classic Skinner Sweet. What more can we say about this other than this is a great creative series that is marching towards its endgame in an absolutely fantastic way?
Justin: Yeah. The fact that it’s coming back down to Skinner … There was a while there where we were sort of wobbling away from him a little bit, and then now it feels like it’s back on him again, and it’s just like when you write a character as compelling as Skinner, to have him really carry the story for all of this has been … It’s been a great journey, and it’s great.
Pete: Yeah. This continues to just kick ass, the art, the storytelling. Yeah. This is really fun. I mean, we kind of got away from the main focus in the last issue, and I was worried how long it would take to get back, but with this issue, we’re right back in it. So very happy.
Alex: All right. Next up, Birthright #49 from Image Comics, written by Joshua Williamson, art by Andrei Bressan. This is the second-to-last issue of this book. We’re dealing with some big stuff here and some-
Alex: … big changes for the main family. Justin, over to you.
Pete: … how you feeling, buddy?
Justin: The core of this book has always been about family and trying to get the family back together.
Pete: Just like the fast and the furious.
Justin: Nope. That’s not what I was going to say. That is-
Pete: Birthright is Fast & Furious with-
Justin: That’s not a hundred percent accurate.
Alex: Yes, and this issue deals with family. Next issue is going to finally wrap with who’s going to drink those Coronas. Let’s find out.
Pete: Oh, man.
Justin: Yeah. Fast & Furious is about cars though mostly.
Pete: No. It’s about family. It’s about family.
Alex: I’ve never seen a car in that series.
Justin: I haven’t heard them talk about family too much in those movies. It’s mostly squealing tires and stuff.
Pete: You must have-
Justin: Am I not watching them as closely as I need to?
Pete: Yeah. You must have the volume down or something. No. Yeah. What’s crazy is how long this has been going on with this story arc, and you think like “Okay. This is it. We’re going to-“
Justin: That’s not a nice thing to say.
Alex: What’s crazy about this is this shit has been dragging on forever.
Pete: It’s not dragging on.
Justin: Dragging ass.
Pete: It’s been impressive. It’s all one giant story arc, and it’s impressive that it’s been able to go like this and go as hard as it’s gone and also have these tender nice moments.
Justin: In the same way that Alex had a hard time reading and remembering the title to Heroes Reborn, I think, Pete, you need to notice the numbering when you can’t believe it’s been going this long. It’s all one story. It’s called a series. So I think that makes a lot of sense.
Pete: Fuck you, man. You know as well as I do that some comic arcs are three issues, some art eight or whatever, and when you’re dealing with 40 issues, there’s a bunch of arcs, and this is just one. So fuck yourself.
Alex: Could you imagine if somebody tuned into this podcast? They’d be like “Wow. These guys have never reviewed comics before.”
Justin: “These guys are the experts?”
Alex: “This is new for them.”
Justin: No. What I was going to say is this comic from the jump has been about family, and this issue really pays that off with the family photo they take, and-
Pete: Yeah. That’s really a fantastic and great moment.
Justin: I guess I should just say we know what we’re talking about. We’re journalists, and this is-
Pete: We’re not journalists.
Justin: We are. We are journalists.
Pete: No way.
Justin: I’m very excited for the last issue. This issue felt like a last issue up until the last page, and I think they do a good job of being like “But wait. There’s something probably bad.”
Pete: That’s the thing. It’s almost ended a couple of times.
Justin: Yes. It’s almost like this is the end, and then there’s a post-credits sequence, which is the last issue.
Alex: To that point, here’s a little pluggy-poo for all of you out there. Next month, when Birthright #50 comes out, we’re going to have Joshua Williamson on the live show that Tuesday-
Pete: Wow. Justin’s-
Justin: I’m so excited.
Pete: … going to lose his shit.
Alex: … to talk about the whole series and break it down and chat about everything. So that should be super fun.
Justin: Can’t wait.
Alex: Next up, Justice League: Last Ride #1 from DC Comics, written by Chip Zdarsky, art by Miguel Mendonça. This was originally supposed to be a digital first title, but now it looks like it’s going directly to print, which is kind of interesting. This is a, I guess, out-of-continuity story about the last Justice League story. So similar to how Chip Zdarsky is doing a what-if for Spider-Man, here, this is kind of a what-if Elseworlds type thing for Justice League. The Justice League has fallen apart. They’re brought back together for one last battle. What’d you think about this one?
Pete: Yeah. I mean-
Justin: It’s like the Justice League is in therapy a little bit. Everyone’s struggling.
Pete: I like the Batman and Superman back and forth. I really enjoyed that. It was a lot of fun. I think this was a really cool setup for a big event, and I feel like it did a great job as a first issue, kind of like “All right. Here’s the deal. Here’s where everybody is. There’s a lot of shit that’s gone down, but they’re going to do it one last time,” and I don’t want to spoil the last page, but it’s a fun reveal.
Justin: It’s a little bit what I was talking about before, where the DC heroes don’t have these human characteristics that are the focus for them, and this issue is sort of giving them that and sort of grounding them with … Superman has this great anxiety. Batman is too busy. He’s a dick. All these qualities that I think regular people have, we get to actually see them play out amongst the Justice League.
Alex: Yeah. I thought this was really nicely done. It took me a little while to figure out where this was in continuity until I realized “Oh, wait. It’s not actually in continuity,” but art is good. It’s a nice solid Justice League story and almost feels like … What is it? Tower of Babel, the one where Batman betrays everybody?
Alex: It feels in line with that tonally a little bit, which I liked. So good stuff. Next up-
Justin: It’s funny that you bring that up. I feel like that story of … That was where Batman had all the ways to take down the other heroes. I feel like-
Pete: Oh. Wasn’t that Batman Doom, the animate movie?
Alex: Might be.
Justin: Maybe they used that, because I think that was in the comics first, but I feel like that has resonated so hard. Every Justice League story since then has been like “Batman, are you fucking with us? Are you trying to kill us secretly?” and that’s where we are here with this issue as well.
Alex: Yeah. It’s great. Magic #2 from BOOM! Studios, written by Jed MacKay, art by Ig Guara. We read the first issue of this and liked it, despite not knowing much about the Magic or Magic: The Gathering world. This one gets a lot more complicated. So it took me a little while to get into it, to be honest, but I like where it ends up here, and of course, Jed MacKay is always a reliable writer. What’d you guys think?
Justin: Yeah. I really love Jed MacKay’s work on the Black Cat series that he’s been doing. We had Jed on the show, and the amount of research and deep-dive stuff he talked about doing for this book is amazing. So if you’re a fan of Magic at all, I think you got to check this book out. Like Alex, I haven’t done a lot of that. I haven’t experienced a lot of that, but they say a good game of Magic is like ice cream sex. It’s like fucking ice cream.
Pete: Oh, wow.
Justin: So I think you really got to experience it.
Pete: It’s cold, but it’s worth it.
Alex: Yeah. You got to fold it like this if you’re in New York and you’re walking down the street. Fold your ice cream.
Justin: That’s how you fold your ice cream cone. You crush it in your hand. You fold it up. Eat it that way, running down your hand and getting all over your sharkskin suit.
Alex: In New York, we eat our ice cream hot and our pizza cold.
Pete: Oh, my god. You guys are the worst. Yeah. The art and the action in this book are great. A lot of really cool characters and character designs. Yeah. Over-the-top kind of blood and guts stuff. Yes, please. This is great.
Justin: Yes, please. When I read this comic, I fold the iPad in half, and then I throw it in the trash, because it’s broken.
Pete: [crosstalk 00:44:31].
Alex: Future State: Gotham #1 from DC Comics, written by Joshua Williamson and Dennis Culver, art by Giannis Milonogiannis. This is continuing the anime … Sorry. Manga, actually … style Red Hood storyline set in the future. I thought this was really fun. I think we all really like the Future State Red Hood stuff. I like this as well. What was your take, Pete?
Pete: Yeah. I love the black and white art. I’m a sucker for that. Yeah. This is just really a fun story, over the top. Yeah. I thought it was just big action, badass, and a fun backup story as well.
Justin: Yeah. Didn’t see this coming, and it’s great. I love the art in this. It felt like such a nice break form all the other books we’ve been talking about today, and shout out to the pinup by Moebius in the back. Did not see that coming either.
Alex: Very cool stuff. Next up, The Silver Coin #2 from Image Comics, written by-
Pete: Oh, here we go.
Alex: … Kelly Thompson, art by Michael Walsh. This is a horror anthology about a weird mystical silver coin that drives people to do things or gives them powers. We don’t exactly know yet.
Pete: Or fucks their shit up.
Alex: The first issue was by Chip Zdarsky. This one is a riff on Sleepaway Camp massacre type stories. It’s completely different from the first issue but, I thought, a very well done, very dark story from this team. I liked it quite a bit. Justin, I feel like you were not here also when we were talking about-
Alex: … Silver Coin #1. So what did you think about this one?
Justin: I really liked it. From the first couple of pages, I was like “Ooh, this is going to be cool and horrifying,” and then it builds tension throughout, and then it goes so hard at the end that I was like “Oh, god.” Summer’s stressful, and summer’s coming up, so-
Pete: Be careful of those camps.
Justin: I love the way the coin just gets to roll on.
Pete: Yeah. I kind of forgot about the coin until we saw it at the end, and then I was like “Oh, shit. That’s right,” but man. Really-
Alex: You got to look back at the first page. The first page usually has the title, and that lets you know kind of what book it is. I know that from reading Heroes Reborn #2
Pete: Okay. Cool. Yeah.
Justin: That’s the good thing is you learn a lesson each time. See, I get to the end of the book, and I keep trying to take the back cover and slice it into an even smaller piece, because I’m like “I want more. I want more. How does this-“
Pete: Smart. Smart.
Justin: “… Where does this go next?”
Alex: Scott McCloud wrote about that in Understanding Comics. He has a whole section on “You can’t rip the back cover into two tinier pages.”
Justin: We should read that, because-
Pete: Yeah, and don’t try to fold it in a tri-fold fashion and [crosstalk 00:47:18].
Justin: New York style. See, the thing is this is our first time reading comic books. So we’re all learning a lot about them.
Alex: Yeah. This is a true story, actually. Alfred E. Neuman came into the Mad Magazine offices and tried to eat a magazine like a pizza, and they were like “Wait a second. I think we have something here with this back cover. We can tri-fold it. Let’s do it.”
Justin: Yeah. The New York way. Fold one side of the pizza in halfway, and the other side, you match up your pepperonis, and you make a funny image. That’s the New York way to eat a pizza.
Pete: I really did feel like they kind of got the vibe of a new person at a camp where a lot of people know each other and how kind of fucked up it can feel when you’re the odd person out.
Alex: Similarly, Pete, and I agree with your point, absolutely, what did you think about the side doodles on a pizza? Because that was always my favorite part.
Justin: I liked pepperoni versus pepperoni, where the black pepperoni would try to kill the white pepperoni. Pete, let me give you a shout out here at the end too, because literally we’re doing a bit, and I thought you were going to jump on the bit, and you literally ignored every single word that Alex and I said and seamlessly picked back up with your thoughts on this book.
Pete: Yeah. Some of us are trying to keep this ship moving forward.
Justin: You truly are. The fun thing about ships-
Pete: This shit show of a-
Justin: The fun thing about ships is they often park in fun little islands, and they have a little fun.
Pete: Yeah. I don’t like-
Justin: Remember when were talking about that floating island like two hours ago?
Pete: I don’t like island fucking, so …
Justin: You don’t like going to an island and having sex on it, which is, as we’ve proven tonight, like a broken-up ice cream cone in your hand? It’s like when you take an ice cream cone and lay it on a pizza and tuck it into bed and be like “Go to town, you little snacks.”
Alex: Goodnight, ice cream. Proctor Valley Road #3 from BOOM! Studios, written by Grant Morrison and Alex Child, art by Naomi Franquiz. This is continuing the story of these kids who have discovered, as you can probably tell from the title, a very weird, very terrifying road. They keep going back there and more horrifying things happening. This is the most Grant Morrison-y issue, I felt, of this title, where-
Alex: Yeah. I just had a little trouble hanging on to everything that was going on, but it sounds like maybe you didn’t, Pete.
Pete: No. Every time I read this book, the Proctor Valley Road, I keep being like “Oh, man. I can’t believe Gran Morrison is writing this,” because it’s really kind of like the art makes it seem like it’s very oriented towards these kids, and he does a great job of getting their voices … I don’t know. There’s heart there, and it’s not like weird tripped-out shit in a way that I don’t understand. I’m able to follow the story in a way that I can’t normally do with Morrison, so I feel like this is … Even though it’s not as straightforward with this issue, I’m appreciating this new side of Morrison in this.
Justin: Yeah. It got crazy at the end, I feel like, classic Grant Morrison. He was like “Well, let me throw a couple zingers in here to button it up.” Love the flaming wagon wheel, but yeah. I think I sort of in between the two of you, where I like all this stuff, and the complexity, the Grant Morrison-ness of it … I’ve missed that. It’s been away for quite some time.
Pete: The art’s unbelievable.
Alex: Last but not least, Black Hammer: Visions #4 from Dark Horse Comics, written by Mariko Tamaki, art by Diego Olortegui.
Pete: Okay. All right.
Alex: There you go.
Justin: I think that’s right.
Alex: This is an anthology series set in the Black Hammer universe. This is definitely, in my opinion, the wooliest of them, but I still really enjoyed reading it, as the Black Hammer crew jumps through a bunch of different alternate realities, some of them filmed, otherwise. I still liked it. I like the art. I like the characters, but it was definitely the weirdest one of this series so far for me.
Justin: I liked the weirdness. To me, it felt like a comment on just the way all of our media has just … There’s so much versioning of different things, like “Oh, I like the comic book,” then it’s developed into a TV show, then a movie, and then back into an adaptation of the movie becomes the comic book. That feels like what they’re doing here and in a great way that like … This anthology series just gets to play so hard with these characters. No other series gets to do so much with their characters in such a poetic way to get weird, and I really like this book.
Pete: Yeah. It got a little too tripped out for me with the TV show inside the comic book inside the TV show thing, but I thought it was the best version of the tripped-out old guy that I’ve seen yet. So I’m excited that that’s finally going to start making some sense, hopefully, but man, this book continues to be very creative, very well drawn, and always interesting.
Alex: I completely agree, and that is it for The Stack. If you’d like to support this show and other shows we do, patreon.com/comicbookclub.
Pete: We did it.
Alex: What, Pete?
Pete: I thought we were going to go off about more dick freeze and fucking pizza fucking or whatever you guys were doing.
Alex: No. That’s for the after show.
Justin: Pete, what are you talking about? You’re sick. Sick, Pete.
Alex: Comicbookclublive.com for this podcast and more. iTunes, Android, Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice to subscribe, listen, and follow. @comicbooklive on Twitter. Until next time, we’ll see you at the pizza ice cream fucking shop.