Batman Dear Detective #1

The Stack: Batman: Dear Detective, Alien And More

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On this week’s comic book review podcast:

Batman: Dear Detective #1
DC Comics
By Lee Bermejo

Alien #1
Marvel
Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by Julius Ohta

Antioch #1
Image Comics
Written by Patrick Kindlon
Art by Marco Ferrari

Poison Ivy #4
DC Comics
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Marcio Takara

All-Out Avengers #1
Marvel
Written by Derek Landy
Art by Greg Land

Shock Shop #1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Danny Luckert

Flashpoint Beyond #5
DC Comics
Written by Geoff Johns, Tim Sheridan and Jeremy Adams
Art by Xermánico and Mikel Janín

Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #4
Marvel
Written by Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly
Art by Carmen Carnero

The Dead Lucky #2
Image Comics
Written by Melissa Flores
Art by French Carlomagno

The New Champion of Shazam #2
DC Comics
Written by Josie Campbell
Art by Evan “Doc” Shaner

Punisher #6
Marvel
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Jesús Saiz & Paul Azaceta

Golden Rage #2
Image Comics
Written by Chrissy Williams
Art by Lauren Knight

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4
DC Comics
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Daniel Sampere

She-Hulk #6
Marvel
Written by Rainbow Rowell
Art by Luca Maresca

Once & Future #29
BOOM! Studios
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Dan Mora

Black Adam: The Justice Society Files – Atom Smasher #1
DC Comics
Written by Cavan Scott, Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Travis Mercer, Marco Santucci

Twig #5
Image Comics
Written by Scottie Young
Art by Kyle Strahm

MIND MGMT: Bootleg #3
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Matt Kindt
Art by David Rubin

Batman #127
DC Comics
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Jorge Jimenez, Belén Ortega

That Texas Blood #17
Image Comics
Written by Chris Condon
Art by Jacob Phillips

The Ward #4
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Cavan Scott
Art by Andres Ponce

Sword of Azrael #2
DC Comics
Written by Dan Watters
Art by Nikola Čižmešija

Survival Street #2
Dark Horse Comics
Written by James Asmus and Jim Festante
Art by Abylay Kussainov

Dark Knights of Steel: Tales from the Three Kingdoms #1
DC Comics
Written by Tom Taylor, Jay Kristoff, C.S. Pacat
Art by Caspar Wjingaard, Sean Izaakse, Michele Bandini

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Full Episode Transcript

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

Pete:                I’m Pete.

Alex:                 On The Stack, we talk about a slew of books that have come out this very week and we’re going to kick it off with a special one, Batman: Dear Detective #1 Batman from DC Comics written by Lee Bermejo. This is a very unique project, because it is covers that Bermejo has done for Batman, that he has organized into a story and added new text pages of a serial killer who is terrifying Gotham and trying to taunt Batman the entire time. What’d you think about this, Pete?

Pete:                Well, excuse me. I think it’s a cool idea, fun execution. I mean, the arts, the real good important part about this, and it’s a very goon-ish gritty take on Batman, very muscly and dark. I mean, he did the ropes around his hands, which is wutai type of badass thing to do that protects your wrist, but really hurts your opponent. I mean, it was banned. But I think it’s a great idea. I think it was cool that DC did this. I mean, comics are just still images anyway. So, just to have every panel be treated like a cover is an interesting idea.

Alex:                 Well, they were covers that he created that he organized into a story and that’s the thing that I think-

Pete:                I heard you. Yeah.

Alex:                 Oh, okay. That’s the thing that I think is really interesting because we’ve seen cover collections before. To be perfectly honest, even though it’s always nice to look at them as a comic book fan, I don’t always have an impetus to go and pick up a cover collection. Even if I dearly love the artist like I do Lee Bermejo’s work, particularly on Batman. It is gorgeous and detailed throughout, but this gives it that extra added value that makes it to a story. It’s psychological thing a little bit, but it really bumps it up a next level to feel a little more necessary, a little more important.

Alex:                 So, just for that calculated way, it’s very smartly done and very smartly executed. The other thing that’s fun, which I won’t spoil here, but there is a mystery villain who is taunting Batman. If you read the clues on the text pages carefully, you find out who that is at the end. You can go back, add in some of the clues, and figure it out. So, that’s a little added bonus puzzle as well, but overall, this is a really great package.

Pete:                It’s a reward for reading, which is nice.

Alex:                 Exactly.

Pete:                Because someone like me, who’s just going to read the covers and not just going to look at the covers and not do any of the reading, it’s too bad because you would be missing out on such a fun reveal.

Alex:                 They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but here, the covers are judging the book.

Pete:                Well, I was just going to say the covers are the book.

Alex:                 The covers are the book. Yeah, that’s better. Okay. I’ll take that again. They say you can’t judge a book by the cover, but here, the covers are the book.

Pete:                So you can judge it.

Alex:                 So judging it positively.

Pete:                You killed it.

Alex:                 I’m glad we script these out in advance.

Pete:                Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Alex:                 Let’s move on and talk about Alien #1 from Marvel, written by Philip Kennedy Johnson, art by Julius Ohta.

Pete:                This guy, Philip Kennedy Johnson, I mean, can he do anything wrong with this stuff? Holy crap.

Alex:                 So, this is, even with the number one, still a continuation of the previous Alien book. Though it starts with a new arc. The spoilers here, since it slowly unfolds what the actual plot of the thing is, but we start off on an ideal community that of course gets ruined by Weyland-Yutani and then a bunch of elite Androids are sent to retrieve some information from there by the end of the issue. Even though I get annoyed with the renumbering thing, I thought this was great, just another great story in the Aliens that he is crafting. I’m loving reading these.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, numbering is a real pet peeve of mine, but this book is such a cool idea of we’ve seen a lot of different things, but setting up this super team to go in there is interesting and new. I’m interested to see how this goes. This does a great job of letting you know what’s up and getting you excited for what’s to come. Phillip Kennedy Johnson has been just absolutely killing it lately and this is just another example of him being an amazing writer. I mean, we’ve seen Alien everything at this point. So, the fact that we can still get great stories and fresh takes on this is pretty amazing.

Alex:                 Yeah. This is really expanding the mythology in a big way, which is something that I didn’t necessarily expect. A lot of the Alien stuff always used to play it safe with the same here’s the military. They come in and messes up with the alien. We got that in different unique ways for the first couple of arcs, but this is taking some big swings here in terms of the universe and I really appreciate that.

Alex:                 Let’s move on to talk about Antioch #1 from Image Comics, written by Patrick Kindlon, art by Marco Ferrari. This is a continuation of their Frontiersman series. They’re mostly focusing on a new character. Pete, what’d you think about this?

Pete:                I really liked this. I thought it was very cool. I liked this whole idea of maybe this person has a past.

Alex:                 Lots of people have a past.

Pete:                Well, I’m just saying maybe he could have been royalty and just lived up in a castle somewhere and collected money, but this guy’s like, “No, dude, I’m all about that pirate life. I want to go and wreck shit and make the world a better place.” So fun, great, very stylized and unique. I love the character designs. This is some great art, fun setup of the premise in a great way that is a first issue. It really gets you excited for more. I think this really totally delivers. Yeah, I was really impressed with this.

Alex:                 Yeah. I don’t know if it’s as clean of a break as going from say Ascender to Descender, but it feels like a very similar thing in terms of, “Okay, we had this one book Frontiersman and now we’re flipping it to the other side and showing you a new character in this world.” They do cut back to Frontiersman who is currently in jail and show you where he is and what’s going on with him.

Pete:                Yeah. Just in case you care, in case you’re a big Frontiersman.

Alex:                 But it works really nicely here. I enjoy this world and I’m excited to read more about this character. Here’s another character that I’m excited to read more about, Poison Ivy #4 from DC Comics, written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Marcio Takara. In this issue as with every issue, Poison Ivy is doing her incredible whole thing, going from town to town, solving mysteries, going out adventures. Here, she’s taking care of an abusive boss who has been sexually harassing his employees, maybe striking up a flirtation with somebody new. Pete, how’d you feel about this?

Pete:                Well, first off, this is so much fun seeing Poison Ivy roll out her big plan here. The art is bananas great. I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. It’s just absolutely bananas great. I mean, this is such a fun look at Poison Ivy and what this character can do and is about really enjoying this Poison Ivy artistic take. I think it’s just such a cool idea and they’re doing such a great job. Every issue of this so far has been a banger story, and yeah, evil bosses should die horribly. I think that this does a great job of embracing that.

Alex:                 Well, Pete, I got to say, damn your bananas. This is good. Okay.

Pete:                Hey, call back.

Alex:                 There you go. Yeah. This is a great book. Like you said, it’s very dark. It doesn’t shy away from that darkness. At this point, I don’t know how we’re going to get out of this situation with Poison Ivy and from a dramatic perspective.

Pete:                I’m worried.

Alex:                 That’s a great place to be. You don’t usually feel that with a Batman or Batman adjacent story. Loving what’s going on here. Loving the amount of emotion that G. Willow Wilson puts into the arc and the character. Harley’s being this dream supporting character going throughout this book is so great as well.

Pete:                Really fun kiss in this as well.

Alex:                 Good. You love a good kiss.

Pete:                There’s nothing like it.

Alex:                 All-Out Avengers #1 from Marvel, written by Derek Landy, art by Greg Land. It’s the Land team back together again. And in this book, we are plopped in the middle of a situation involving the Avengers taking down a new villain that we’ve never seen before, but that’s part of the concept. There’s a mystery going out of the background. Exactly what’s going on with the Avengers? Who was controlling them? I certainly have my suspicions about it, but was it Non-Stop Spiderman that came out recently. This is basically the all action all the time Avengers. That’s the idea here. So, Pete, how did this strike you?

Pete:                Well, like a good improv scene, you want to start in the middle of action. So, this was a great start to this where shit’s already gone down and we’re just catching up with our heroes mid-action. This was cool. It’s always tough to see somebody you like who’s maybe taken over or some evil thing is going on with them. So, that’s a little concerning, but loved all the action. Loved the cast of characters that we got on this. So, this is fun.

Alex:                 Next up, Shock Shop #1 from Dark Horse Comics, written by Cullen Bunn, art by Danny Luckert. This is framed as a Tales from the Crypt style anthology series with the promise that we’re going to see some continuing stories here. We had two of them in the first issue. They’re pretty horrific and I dug both of them. Pete, you’re the biggest horror guy though. How’d you feel about this?

Pete:                This is creepy, man. This is some creepy stuff, but I appreciate creatively what’s going on here. I mean creepy campfire stories. No, thank you. We’re out in the middle of the woods. Not the fucking time. All right.

Alex:                 When is the time for creepy campfire stories?

Pete:                When all the lights are on and you’re in a sealed room that nobody can get in or out of it.

Alex:                 Okay. Okay. So, just to reiterate, if you’re ever with Pete, he would like to be at a hermetically steel room and start a fire with you.

Pete:                That’s the appropriate time to tell scary stories.

Alex:                 But you’re going to start a fire. How’s the smoke going to get out, Pete?

Pete:                I don’t know about the use of the fire. I don’t know. I mean, we got to have a way to make marshmallows and smores and stuff, but anyways, we’re getting sidetracked here. Collection of two creepy ass stories. The second one, I really appreciated the twist at the end, the reveal. Man, there’s nothing worse than a fucked up horror story, but the Bunn has been writing for a long time and has got a ton of ideas. This is well executed.

Alex:                 It’s like I always say, I don’t want none unless it’s got Bunn, hun. You know what I’m talking about, Pete?

Pete:                Yeah, that Cullen Bunn. He’s a good writer.

Alex:                 Flashpoint Beyond #5 from DC, co-written by Geoff Johns, Tim Sheridan, and Jeremy Adams, art by Xermánico and Mikel Janín. In this issue, we’re getting some big answers about what has been going on with this series. Why Flashpoint is back? What is potentially going to happen next? This is something that I’ve been waiting to see since the first issue and I was happy to see how it turned out. There’s still more mystery as an action to come, but like we would talk about every issue, not the biggest fan of Flashpoint, but I’m really digging what they’re doing in the series. The art in particular is gorgeous. Pete, what about you?

Pete:                Yeah. I don’t like this world, this Flashpoint world, but this is an interesting story and great art. And I think they’re doing it a way that is intriguing. So, even people like myself who have their arms crossed and being like, “Yeah, but I hate this,” I’m still reading the shit out of it. So, I’m interested to see how this is all going to wrap up or how this is going to unfold, whether I give it a full, “Holy crap, you got to check this out.” But so far, I’m enjoying it, which is very surprising.

Alex:                 The only quibble that I will throw out there with this issue, which is something that we’ve talked about enumerable amounts of times over the course of this podcast, is in this issue, it takes place after Dark Crisis, which is another one of those annoying quirks of the Non-Stop schedule that printing happens on. It’s happened with Marvel. It’s happened with DC. It always happens with these crossovers when things get held up or things change.

Alex:                 Of course, I know the heroes are going to come out fine from Dark Crisis, but I don’t want to read about that in another comic on the same week that Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 comes out. It’s like, “Yeah, we made it out of there. These things changed, but anyway, moving on.” So that was a point of frustration for me. That’s not necessarily a knock on the book so much as I wish comics didn’t work like this, but I’ve been reading them long enough and we’ve been talking about them long enough that probably I need to get over that.

Alex:                 Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #4 from Marvel, written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, art by Carmen Carnero. In this issue, Steve Rogers is grappling with the revelations he’s learned about his shield, that the shield has been the tool and signal of an organization who’s been working against everything that he holds dear. In this issue, he fights back against that in a big way. I love this book. I love this issue.

Alex:                 There are not only amazing action moments, but it gets to the core of what makes Captain America special and hits it in two incredibly emotional moments that happen over the course of the issue when I would say in most comics, you get that once every six issues, something like that. The fact that it nailed it twice here blew me away. I love this, like I said, but what about you, Pete? How are you feeling?

Pete:                I think this was a really smart thing that they did with this whole Steve Rogers knowing spoilers and knowing he’s being tailed and catering towards the fight before it happens, which is such an interesting thing that just raises the stakes of anything. Yeah. I think that there’s some really great emotional Cap stuff in here, which is always great. It’s also the thing of dissecting the shield and then the big bad that they’re fighting also looks like a little bit of a metal that maybe the shield was before it got painted. So, there’s a lot going on here and it’s interesting to see how it’s all going to unravel and pay off.

Alex:                 I also just love the metaphorical idea that they’re not too subtle about, about what we as Americans think of the American flag and think of the stars and stripes. The idea that they don’t really deal with this costume, but Captain America runs rounds of the stars of the stripes. That’s something that throughout his history that he’s dealt with. He’s rejected at various points, what America feels about it, and really digging in in this issue of, “What do different Americas that are feeling disillusioned about America the government feel about the stars and stripes? How do you stay hopeful about that?”

Alex:                 Again, that’s what Captain America is all about. So, the fact that they’re able to encapsulate that so brilliantly in an issue that looks really good, the art is smooth and clean, and the action is great, but also is heartfelt was very, very impressive to me.

Pete:                Cool.

Alex:                 Let’s talk about The Dead Lucky #2 for Image Comics, written by Melissa Flores, art by French Carlomagno. This is part of the massive universe that includes Radiant Black and others. Here, we’re getting the fall out of the big fight happened in the first issue with our Beck pilot and a couple of other characters. What’d you think about this?

Pete:                This is cool. It’s very stylized and very image in a way. I’m enjoying the different pockets that we’re getting to explore of this universe. I mean really great art and fun panel design. Yeah. I’m intrigued and I want more. Damn it.

Alex:                 I am very interested to find out how these all fit together and they seem to be heading towards some event down the road. The implication here is this may take place in the same world as Radiant Black and I’m not 100% sure how that works, but I’m enjoying all these books. They feel, like you said, classic image books. And if you want to get on board, something new that feels fun, Dead Lucky is one to check out.

Alex:                 The New Champion of Shazam #2 from DC Comics, written by Josie Campbell, art by Evan “Doc” Shaner. Mary Marvel is now the new champion of Shazam. She’s trying to balance good and her family and new enemies attacking her all the while, having Evan “Doc” Shaner’s art, which is damn, your banana’s good to use the term again, Pete, right? Did I use it properly?

Pete:                Not really, but yeah. I mean, you didn’t give the right emphasis, but I really appreciate it. Yeah. Yeah. I would call this sups adorb. I mean, this is really great art and a fun dive into this character and the way they did the world building and the art to support it. It all really fits nicely together. So, yeah.

Alex:                 I’m really enjoying this. I had a blast reading this. There’s a light, fun tone to hear which you get from having a magic rabbit who’s talking to somebody as their sidekick. It’s just very enjoyable. And like I said, Evan “Doc” Shaner’s is unimpeachable. Let’s talk about the one you want to talk about, Pete. Punisher #6 from Marvel, written by Jason Aaron, art by Jesús-

Pete:                How much time we got left? Let’s go.

Alex:                 We got five hours. Art by Jesús Saiz and Paul Azaceta. And this issue, it’s the Punisher versus war, literal war, Ares the God of War as he flashes back through his history. Some big gross stuff goes down by the end of the issue. Take it away, Pete.

Pete:                All right. All right. Crazy, bananas, unbelievable. I mean, we’re learning so much about the Punisher in this Jason Aaron run. This whole thing about him being drunk at a bar when he was supposed to meet his wife is bananas information. I do love this whole thing about going up against the God of War and what the God of War thinks of the Punisher and how highly he regards him is such an interesting idea. Yeah. It’s just really, really cool and interesting to have all this happening at once.

Pete:                We’re learning about Frank in new ways. We’re having him fight battles that he is never fought before while we’re also seeing him, Natalie, when he was younger, but also when he just joined up. Very, very interesting. Each issue of it, just the anticipation before I read it is huge, and then just oh, shit. Oh, wow. This is so cool. So, I’m enjoying the crap out of this. The art is bananas great. Yeah, I can’t get enough of this. And it’s like as soon as I finish it, I wish there was more to read. So, I can wait though, because I’m enjoying it, every single issue of it. I’m not going to tell somebody, wait for the trade, because it’s too good to wait.

Alex:                 How do you feel about Ares wearing Punisher symbol in this issue?

Pete:                I think it’s hilarious and I think it’s a fun choice. It says a lot about everything that’s going on.

Alex:                 I thought this was great as well. Love this issue, love the plot.

Pete:                Because he’s mocking him of what he’s become a little bit.

Alex:                 A little bit. I love that. I love the art here. I love the flashbacks. Like I’ve said every issue, they’re doing a phenomenal job of reinventing the Punisher and the cliffhanger at the end was a total oh, shit moment. Can I spoil it actually? I want to give a spoiler warning here because I want to talk about something in specific with this. So, the end of the issue after Punisher has gone through this whole fight with Ares, lost, died and come back, thanks to the hand, and discovered that his children have been resurrected as horrible monsters and had to kill them off paddle, which is harrowing and emotional and horrifying. He throws up outside. Who shows up? No other than the Daredevil and says, “Frank, what are you doing?”

Pete:                Frank, what the fuck, bro? Which is a lot to say to the Punisher, because it’s like at any point, you could say that to him, but at this point-

Alex:                 Well, so here’s the thing. We’ve talked about this a lot on the podcast, the idea that Daredevil is taking over the… What is he taking over, the fist? No, there’s the fist.

Pete:                Yeah, I mean, Punisher’s in charge right now, but the Daredevil has also over the years been in charge of the hand before.

Alex:                 He’s taking care of his own ninja organization at this moment. So, he knew this was going to come eventually, but there’s something about this moment and the way that it comes in and the way that has Jesús Saiz draws it, that to me, it felt like this is the first time I’ve been excited seeing a character show up in another character’s book in a very long time. It’s the simplicity of the paddle. It’s the emotional weight of it. It’s the inevitability of this happening and the fact that Jason Aaron has held off on it for six issues now that makes it impact so hard that I absolutely love that. It was a great cliffhanger. It made me completely salivate for the next issue.

Pete:                Yeah, that’s a hard part. You got to be like, “Oh, my God, I can’t wait.” But also, what’s cool is this whole idea of the Punisher going up against the God of War and there’s this stalks of gods and devils and all this stuff. And then it’s the way that they drop. He has to have a deal with the devil and then Daredevil showed up. Just the way that that all landed and was put before us, it was just such a master stroke. What’s crazy about what’s happening right now as a Punisher fan is I’m getting all this new stuff about this character that’s been going on for years.

Pete:                So, I’m beside myself because part of me wants to just stop and process all this new stuff and what this means for the character, but then also the fight that’s currently going on, the one-two punch that Jason Aaron keeps hitting on, where I haven’t been able to catch my breath on everything that is happening. This buildup is just crazy and keeps building.

Alex:                 I only have a month between information to really sit in process. You go into that cave that you live in, where you just meditate on all of the plot points.

Pete:                Yeah, yeah, exactly. The Punisher cave, what’s wrong with that?

Alex:                 Nothing, nothing’s wrong with it. It’s beautiful.

Pete:                Thank you.

Alex:                 Golden Rage #2 from Image Comics, written by Chrissy Williams, art by Lauren Knight. In this issue, we are continuing to explore a world where menopausal women are exiled to an island to fight it out for dominance. Pete, bunch of grandmas fighting each other, what’d you think?

Pete:                I mean, this continues to be a ton of fun. I mean the title alone, if that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, don’t fucking pick up the book. You know what I mean? Yeah, I am very intrigued by what’s happening right here. Amazing art. I’m a sucker for a map. You get the cool map at the end, but here, it’s like a little bit of a Bitch Planet meets Golden Girls situation.

Alex:                 One of those.

Pete:                Yeah, one of that old chestnut, but I think this is really creatively unique. I’m very much enjoying spending time with the different characters. This is cool. This is very cool.

Alex:                 Yeah. I like how they’re fleshing out the world. I’m curious to see how much they can maintain it and keep pushing it, but I think they will. So, I’m excited to keep reading that. Let’s talk about Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 from DC Comics, written by Joshua Williamson, art by Daniel Sampere. Even though it was spoiled by an issue earlier in The Stack, we are getting to it here. As the heroes from the Justice League have been revealed to be alive and in their own pocket universes, we find out why in this issue and there’s some big ramifications for the DC universe as a whole. What’d you think about this one, Pete, now that we’re finally past the Rubicon with the plot of the series?

Pete:                Well, yeah, that’s the thing. It seems to me like it keeps building and getting crazier and crazier. We have this, for lack of a better word, double mint world where everybody’s got their twin. The cool bearded swamp thing that looks like skeleton blew my mind a little bit, but yeah, I’m intrigued by everything that’s happening. I’m like, “Oh, my God. This is so cool. I’m geeking out.” Amazing art and it’s always amazing to see the Hall of Doom. I’m a sucker for that anytime that shows up. So, yeah, as much fun as I’m having with this, it’s also very interesting to see what’s going to happen.

Alex:                 I think I’m having fun with this now for the reason that I stated, which is that finally we know what the series is about. Now that we know that it’s Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, they can get past it. They can stop playing coy about everything. We’re getting the big battles. We’re getting the big sacrifices. I’m curious to see where this keeps going again, given that we know where it all ends up thanks to Flashpoint Beyond. But I think Joshua Williamson is doing a really good job writing this big event. Daniel Sampere is doing some really good, really solid superhero. I believe the two Swamp Things are Alec Holland and also the new guy who was in the Ram V. series, that Ram V. and Mike Perkin series, but I could be wrong about that.

Pete:                Dude, there’s nothing better than a swamp thing beard, you know what I mean? Come on.

Alex:                 Yeah, come on. Let’s talk about another big green person, She-Hulk #6 from Marvel, written by Rainbow Rowell, art by Luca Maresca. In this issue, She-Hulk and Patsy Walker go on a fancy cake date and then She-Hawk sets up some new clients for her law service. And then some romantic things happen with Jack of Hearts. I’ll tell you what. Every issue of this book, I’ve said, “I really like what Rainbow Rowell does with the characters, always fun, really like what’s going on with the art. It’s very adorably done and well-drawn and cute and fun, but there’s not enough in every issue.”

Alex:                 This issue finally was a full meal for me. I loved everything that was going on here, had a great time. Rainbow Rowell knows how to write a romantic scene. So, I had a good time with that as well. Pete, what about you?

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, you get enough of Awesome Andy in this. So, that was great. I mean, yeah, this is a lot of fun. I liked this kind of She-Hulk where we’re having fun and she’s making her own moves, doing things that she wants to do. Yeah, the Jack of Hearts really seemed out of left field, but I was like, “What?”

Alex:                 Out of left field? That’s been building for six issues, Pete.

Pete:                Yeah, but I know. I’m not talking about in this series. If you would’ve said to me like, “Hey, Pete, guess what? In this She-Hulk series that’s coming out, you’re going to be all about Jack of Hearts and She-Hulk.” I’d be like, “Go fuck yourself. That doesn’t sound like a good team up.” But here I am in this issue going, “Oh, my God!” It’s great. What they’re doing is really fun and I’m hoping that the TV show is going to be like this. Bringing a little bit of She-Hulk’s heart and stuff we know from the comics to the show, because right now, the show is all over the place.

Alex:                 Where is this Pete on our podcast who keeps being the She-Hulk defender? What’s going on here?

Pete:                Well, someone has to defend the She-Hulk.

Alex:                 Wow, the She-Hulk. Wow, a rare admission from Pete that he’s trying to rile me and Justin up is I think what’s going on here. But I do agree with you. It’s funny. Not to get too much on a sidetrack. We’ve gotten a lot of criticism about the She-Hulk podcast, which I totally kept because we’re yelling at each other the entire time. But also, people being like, “Have you guys ever read a She-Hulk comic? Come on. It’s always like this.” And I’m like, “No, I’ve read every She-Hulk comic.”

Pete:                We’ve read all of them.

Alex:                 We’ve read all of them. And my issue is it’s not like those.

Pete:                Yes.

Alex:                 But anyway, this is not our Marvel Vision Podcast. Why don’t we move on and talk about-

Pete:                That’s the plug.

Alex:                 There you go. Once & Future #29 from BOOM! Studios, written by Kieron Gillen, art by Dan Mora. There’s the ultimate issue of the book, Pete. It’s the second to the last issue. It’s all going down here as finally, it is revealed who could pull the sword out of the stone, who is going to be the true Arthur to lead England forward. And meanwhile, our grandma and grandson are going down to hell at the same time. What’d you think, Pete?

Pete:                I mean, come on. This is so much fun and so just unbelievable, the insanity that is happening in this. The art is bananas good. The storytelling is amazing. You got a badass grandmother. You got fun twists, evil knights all over the piece. The king’s dying. This is just epic and I’m loving it. I’m sad to seeing it go, but I’m happy with how things are panning out so far.

Alex:                 I know you’re going to hate me saying this out loud, but after-

Pete:                Then don’t say it. Don’t say it.

Alex:                 I’m going to say it anyway. After a bunch of issues where I enjoyed this title but really felt like it was spinning its wheels, we were finally getting to the end and it’s speeding up so exponentially in this issue. I was like, “Oh, okay, we’re wrapping up all the stuff. Okay, here we go. Let’s get to the final issue.” But that’s great. Love the beginning of the series. Felt like a lot of stuff happened over the past 10, 15 issues, something like that, but that we’re getting to it now is very fun. I’m excited to see how it wraps up.

Pete:                I’m hoping the last issue is just like grandma, just all grandma.

Alex:                 I don’t know. You should read a book called Golden Rage, Pete.

Pete:                I do.

Alex:                 I’m just throwing that all there. Black Adam: The Justice Society Files – Atom Smasher #1 from DC Comics, written by Cavan Scott and Bryan Q. Millet, art by Travis Mercer and Marco Santucci, continuing the prequel books that are leading into the Black Adam theatrical feature that’s coming out in a few short months. Here, we’re focusing on the character Adam Smasher played by Noah Centineo.

Pete:                Giant naked guy.

Alex:                 Giant naked guy. I’ll tell you what, the character of this book does not look like Noah Centineo, but I do like Adam Smasher and these books continue to be just great one shots about Justice Society characters.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, I think the art’s really great here. I think the shock of a giant naked guy, whatever, but I think I’m interested to see-

Alex:                 You’ve seen a lot, right, Pete?

Pete:                Yeah. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen a lot. It’s a lot of different shadows that are perfectly covering up junk. I just think it’s one of those things where-

Alex:                 Oh, I’m sorry. You wanted to see Adam Smasher’s giant junk? Is that the issue here?

Pete:                No. I’m glad that there is in comics well-timed little clouds that go by and cover things up.

Alex:                 He’s called Adam Smasher because he calls it the Adam Smasher when he flunks somebody with his penis. You know what I’m talking about?

Pete:                I wish you wouldn’t have done that.

Alex:                 Do you know what I’m talking about though?

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 I don’t know if I was clear enough.

Pete:                No, no, I got it.

Alex:                 It was very heavy with metaphor.

Pete:                No, no, it wasn’t. It wasn’t at all.

Alex:                 Yeah.

Pete:                Well, man, I really don’t know about you.

Alex:                 You messed up 15 years ago.

Pete:                Yeah. I don’t know. I mean, it was all right. This hasn’t been my favorite of all the one shots. I agree they’ve been great. But this one was like, “Eh, a giant naked guy, whatever.”

Alex:                 Yeah. I think just in terms of movie tie-ins, I’m surprised how solid they are every outing out, because I can’t be expecting it to be like a cash grab type thing, but Cavan Scott knows what he is doing. Bryan Q. Miller and Marco Santucci, the backup staff, know what they’re doing. So, good stuff. Let’s talk about Twig #5 from Image Comics, written by Scottie Young, art by Kyle Strahm. This is the final issue of this book as Twig finally achieves his goal or does he? Pete, take it away.

Pete:                Well, this has been just such a crazy cool adventure that has such an awesome and interesting twist as to what Twig is doing. He’s not the superhero.

Alex:                 Hold on. Just spoiler warning here, but go ahead.

Pete:                Oh yeah, sure. Sorry. Yeah, he’s not the superhero. He’s setting up for the superhero, which was such a cool reveal and so awesome and still just as gratifying as if we were watching the whole time, the Mushroom King there with the sword at the end. But I just think, man, what a great idea, how it’s so well executed. I mean the art, come on, Scottie Young is writing it, but if he’s going to be a part of something, the art’s going to be like epic. The world’s that has been created in this is just really impressive.

Pete:                The awe of some of these page spreads and the panels that they’re able to encompass is really impressive what they’re doing in this book. This is just really great. People are always asking us, “What’s an all ages book that I can read?” This right here. Unbelievable. Really well executed. What an arc in five issues. This is something to hold up to say, this is great comics.

Alex:                 I totally agree with you. Love the twist here, so much fun, and really recontextualizes everything else that has happened in the book. Kyle Strahm’s art has been gorgeous and the character design throughout is gorgeous. Love the casual tone that Scottie Young brings to this huge adventure epic. I really enjoyed this book. Like you said, definitely check it out. MIND MGMT: Bootleg #3 from Dark Horse Comics, written by Matt Kindt, art by David Rubin. In this issue, our new MIND MGMT team is finally together and fighting back against big stuff that is going down in the world. Pete, take it away.

Pete:                Well, first off, I love the Bazooka Joe that they’re starting each issues with. It’s such a fun little throwback moment. Just awesome. I mean we start with an epic sword fight and then get into stuff. It’s really tripped down and amazing in all the right ways. I am having such a blast with this book. We were talking about the corporate bullshit here in our main Tuesday night podcast, but here’s another example of that. This is such a cool creative book that every time I pick up, I’m not sure what to expect, but it always delivers.

Alex:                 I agree. Just really good across the board. All the material that is placed throughout the book is so good. I think of the three from the first issue is still my favorite. The one that Pharrell Dalrymple did, but I love this project. I love how Matt Kindt is putting it together. And if you’ve never read MIND MGMT before, you could jump right in with the issue one. If you have read MIND MGMT before, which you should, this is mind-blowing for fans, just having a great time.

Pete:                It’s just one of those things where I wish we could have had somebody on to talk to them about this book.

Alex:                 We did. We had Matt Kindt on the live show. We talked to him.

Pete:                I have so many things I would love to talk to him about.

Alex:                 It’s physically painful to be when you do this bit. Batman #127 from DC Comics, written by Chip Zdarsky, art by Jorge Jimenez and Belén Ortega. The front story Batman is dealing with Failsafe, the robot he created to take down himself back in the Tower of Babel days if you remember that storyline from Justice League, classic storyline, where Batman was revealed had Fellsafe to take down each member of the Justice League. Here, we get Superman asking, “Hey, what about you? Do you have something to take down you?” It turns out he does in the most F-ed up Batman way possible.

Alex:                 What I love about this story that Chip Zdarsky is telling is Batman’s not going to die. He’s not going to lose, but this is like the Punisher story that is really redefining Punisher, maybe not as hardcore, but it’s really bringing Batman to a point where I don’t know how Batman’s going to get out of this one. That is a near impossible place to get Batman to at a storyline, but they’re really getting him here and it’s great to read.

Pete:                Yeah, it does. For me, it brings me back to that Batman Court of Owls, where I was like, “I don’t know if Batman can get out of this, man. I don’t know, man.” Yeah, this is intense, man. This is just really cool and very intense fun and it’s over the top. It gets meta at some points, but I’m still having a blast with this. Hey, I know this is weird, but check out Batman comics. Pretty cool.

Alex:                 It is ludicrous that there is so much Batman coming out of DC. The fact that we start with a Batman, we have several Batman titles in between The Stack, and we’re going to end with a Batman story at the end. It should be too much, but they’re all good.

Pete:                I know. How does they keep doing it?

Alex:                 It makes me a little annoying to be honest.

Pete:                What’s crazy is they make all these amazing Batman comics and then they’re like, “Huh? Another Batman movie. I don’t know what we should do.”

Alex:                 Yeah. [inaudible 00:42:44]. The backup story as well, really good, great twist to the Catwoman story. It seems like we’re going to be moving on to something new in the next issue, but very fun, very good. Let’s talk about That Texas Blood #17 from Image Comics, written by Chris Condon, art by Jacob Phillips. Back in the day, a serial killer is terrorizing our town. We’re getting more of that story here. I continue to love this arc just particularly Jacob Phillips’ art here.

Pete:                Come on.

Alex:                 The way these snowy background is playing against the blood and the grit of the serial killer is so good. I love delving into these characters. Really, really enjoying this. What about you, Pete?

Pete:                This is just the tension that a horror movie has in a comic book form. I mean, you’re getting these still panels with the snow and then the approaching car where you’re like, “Oh, shit!” It just leaves you there. Yeah. It’s so intense. This continues to just be an award-winning impressive as fuck comic. The justification of having this bad guy with this smiley pumpkin face is such a fun, creepy choice. I’m worried. I’m worried about what’s going to happen, but man, every issue is a banger.

Alex:                 The Ward #4 from Dark Horse Comics, written by Cavan Scott, art by Andres Ponce. This is I believe the final issue of this miniseries. Maybe it will continue.

Pete:                I hope so.

Alex:                 But here, we’re getting a couple of medical cases that are happening. Some big changes come for the world by the end of the issue. Man, I’ll tell you what, I was very bummed that this was the final issue for now, because like we talked to Cavan Scott about on our live show, pretty much in an unlimited concept, it’s something that could just keep going forever. It’s such a great idea for a comic, for a TV show, anything. If you’re looking for a supernatural fantasy inflected ER, this crushed it. As is, pick up the first four issues please. So, we can get more.

Pete:                It sucks when you ruin my bit with your intro like that.

Alex:                 Oh, did I?

Pete:                Oh, did I mention the fact that he was on the show? So, you can’t do that. You review it. One of us went to Cornell. All right. Yeah, you want to talk about every issue being amazing, such a cool idea. Also, fun way to end it with their reveal to the world to save the day. Hey, you know what, maybe in comics, at least people aren’t assholes. So, he gives us hope, man, gives us hope that maybe we can be better, but yeah, I really love this. I love all the different characters, that ghost lady who runs it. It was so cool. Yeah. Just really fun, great execution, crazy stuff with the mom and her family in this issue. Amazing art, well done story. Please don’t stop making this comic. This is really great. Thank you, Dark Horse, but more please. More please, Dark Horse, more.

Alex:                 Sword of Azrael #2 from DC Comics, written by Dan Watters, art by Nikola Čižmešija. In this issue, Azrael has found a lady Azrael.

Pete:                Lady.

Alex:                 Lady. That’s definitely not what she’s called, but she has gone through the same program as Azrael and he is trying to take care of her. As you could imagine, things go horribly wrong by the end of the issue. I’ll say up front, Azrael is not a character that I care about at all. That is not an era of Batman that I read at the time. Whatever he’s popped up, I found him annoying and weird, but I love what they’re doing in this book. And I think a lot of that is down to the art that’s cartoony and exaggerated, but also really delves into the action. And at the same time, the way that Dan Watters is structuring it. It’s really breaking apart what Azrael is or what he should be and reflecting it in a really interesting way.

Pete:                Fun fact, when you said the title, I thought you were saying, “This is sort of Azrael.”

Alex:                 A little bit.

Pete:                This is really fun, and also creatively, I love the art style with Azrael and what they were doing with the colors and stuff. I thought it was really unique and different. It ends a little bit of a downer, but I thought this was such a cool, interesting story. Yeah, I was impressed with this.

Alex:                 Let’s talk about Survival Street #2 from Dark Horse Comics, written by James Asmus and Jim Festante, art by Abylay Kussainov. Now this book is about a world where puppets are the only people fighting against the corporations that have taken over the world.

Pete:                Somebody’s got to fight them.

Alex:                 I’ve got a lot of questions about this and I wish we had somebody we could have talked to ask the questions to Pete, right?

Pete:                Yeah. If only we hosted some podcast and talked to them about this comic book, we could get some answers.

Alex:                 Anyway, James and Jim were on our live show this week if you didn’t check it out, but were we blowing smoke up their asses or did we like this book? Pete?

Pete:                I don’t blow smoke, man. Well, never mind.

Alex:                 What were you going to say? Now, I have to say what you were going to say.

Pete:                No, no, I don’t. I don’t.

Alex:                 I don’t blow smoke. I suck dick. Is that what you’re going to say?

Pete:                Wow. That’s not anywhere near where-

Alex:                 That’s the classic expression.

Pete:                That is not a classic expression.

Alex:                 Everybody says that.

Pete:                Nope. Nope. Nope. Anyways, if we could please talk about this book because it is great.

Alex:                 Absolutely not.

Pete:                It is a great book and I love the creativity behind this. I also love what they’re saying. This is just a fun idea in a depressing world and they’re pulling it off. I mean the art and the character design is really a lot of fun, even though it’s dealing with depressive shit and a world where the corporations take over. Taco Bell doesn’t win the fast food wars. So, what’s going on? So yeah, I am really impressed.

Alex:                 Sorry, just for people who don’t know what you mean, you’re talking about Demolition Man.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean always. I’m always talking about Demolition Man.

Alex:                 I really got to listen back to our podcast, because that might explain a lot.

Pete:                Yeah, yeah, it does. Yeah.

Alex:                 Definitely would explain something about the three seashells, I’d say.

Pete:                Oh, there it is. And we’re done with the Demolition Man. That’s all we got. Oh, Sandra Bullock. You’re magic. Anyways. I think it’s one of those things where this is an impressive creator-owned mission that they set out to do that they’re really accomplishing and it’s impressive to see. So, please support and get behind it because this is a cool project and they’re doing something really unique here.

Alex:                 I’m really enjoying this as well like we talked about on the live show. I think it’s really hard to do political commentary and comic books just based on the timing, but sadly, the stuff that they wrote months, if not years ago, is still relevant today. So, in terms of that, it really hits the nail on the head, but also, it’s very funny and fun at the same time. I love the mythology stuff that they build out in this issue. So, if you haven’t checked it out yet, definitely do go check it out.

Pete:                They have a comedy background so that you’re going to get some real stuff in here.

Alex:                 There you go. Last but not least, Dark Knights of Steel: Tales from the Three Kingdoms #1 from DC Comics, written by Tom Taylor, Jay Kristoff, and C.S. Pacat, art by Caspar Wjingaard, Sean Izaakse, and Michele Bandini. As you could probably tell for the title, this is three stories from the world of the medieval DC universe. I don’t know if it’s medieval, it’s a little later than that, but whatever it is, we are focusing on the younger versions of these characters and focusing in on them. I’ll tell you what. No, no, no, no. I was worried about this because Tom Taylor knocks it out of the park. Casper Wjingaard, who we know from Homesick Pilots, was the artist there. Phenomenal. So, I was not worried about the first story.

Pete:                Phenomenal.

Alex:                 But I was worried about how a new team coming in would do on the second story and third story. I loved them. All three of these stories were straight up bangers and captured the world. And if anything, the third story about the Bane type character mentoring a young Bruce Wayne was maybe my favorite thing of the entire issue. It was awesome. What about you, Pete?

Pete:                I agree. This was awesome. I read this and I was just like, “Wow, this is great fun.” Amazed bananas art, just a really fun story, great use of these characters. We read so many comics. This was a refreshing read. I really had a blast with this.

Alex:                 Yeah, really good stuff. Honestly, you could pick it up, even if you haven’t been reading the main title.

Pete:                Yes, you can.

Alex:                 They are all just short stories. Obviously, they’re going to tie in in some way to everything that’s going on there. But if you want to read it as like an Elseworlds story about medieval DC universe, that’s really all you need to know. That’s all you need to know from The Stack as we’re going to ramp up here. If you want to support us, patreon.com/comicbookclub. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 PM to Crowdcast YouTube. Come hang out. We would love to chat with you about comic books. Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice to subscribe and listen. Follow the show, @ComicBookLive on Twitter, comicbookclublive.com for this podcast, and many more. Until next time. We’ll see you at the Comic Book Shop.

Pete:                Or Taco Bell.

Alex:                 Yeah. How do you use three seashells?

Pete:                Oh, come on, man.

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