Tim Drake Robin #1

The Stack: Tim Drake: Robin, Onyx, The Roadie And More

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On this week’s comic book review podcast:

Tim Drake: Robin #1
DC Comics
Written by Meghan Fitzmartin
Art by Riley Rossmo

Onyx One Shot
Image Comics
Created and Produced by Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez

The Roadie #1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Fran Galán

Dark Spaces: Wildfire #1
IDW Publishing
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Hayden Sherman

DC Horror Presents Sgt. Rock vs. The Army of the Dead #1
DC Comics
Written by Bruce Campbell
Art by Eduardo Risso

Flawed #1
Image Comics
Written by Chuck Brown
Art by Prenzy

Briar #1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Christopher Cantwell
Art by Germán García

DC vs. Vampires #9
DC Comics
Written by James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg
Art by Otto Schmidt

Old Dog #1
Image Comics
By Declan Shalvey

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #100
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Ryan Parrott
Art by Moisés Hidalgo and Marco Renna

The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #6
DC Comics
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Maria Llovet

Sins of the Black Flamingo #4
Image Comics
Written by Andrew Wheeler
Art by Travis Moore

Superman: Space Age #2
DC Comics
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Mike Allred and Laura Allred

Stillwater #15
Image Comics
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Ramón K. Perez

The Human Target #7
DC Comics
Written by Tom King
Art by Greg Smallwood

I Hate This Place #5
Image Comics
Written by Kyle Starks
Art by Artyom Topilin

Ant-Man #3
Marvel
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Tom Reilly

The Nice House on the Lake #10
DC Comics
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Álvaro Martínez Bueno

Eight Billion Genies #5
Image Comics
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Ryan Browne

Defenders Beyond #3
Marvel
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Javier Rodriguez

Action Comics #1047
DC Comics
Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by Riccardo Federici, David Lapham

The Department of Truth #21
Image Comics
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Martin Simmonds

Thunderbolts #2
Marvel
Written by Jim Zub
Art by Sean Izaakse

The Vampire Slayer #6
BOOM! Studios
Written by Sarah Gailey
Art by Sonia Liao

Skybound Presents Afterschool #3
Image Comics
Written by Jill Blotevogel
Art by Marley Zarcone & Lisa Sterle

The Amazing Spider-Man #10
Marvel
Written by Zak Wells
Art by Nick Dragotta

House of Slaughter #9
BOOM! Studios
Written by Sam Johns
Art by Letizia Cadonici

Lazarus Risen #7
Image Comics
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Michael Lark

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Full Episode Transcript

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

Pete:                Sup?

Justin:              I’m Justin.

Pete:                And I’m Pete.

Alex:                 On The Stack, we talk about a ludicrous amount of-

Pete:                Luda.

Justin:              I know. This is a lot of books.

Alex:                 This is a lot, this is a lot-

Justin:              I was supposed to be watching my children and I spent the day literally reading comics. I was like, “Whoops.”

Alex:                 Well, listen, lots of good stuff to talk about, maybe some bad stuff to talk about, let’s see what happens. But kicking it off with Tim Drake: Robin #1 from DC Comics, written by Megan Fitzmartin, art by Riley Rossmo. This is picking up on, I want to say, the short story that they had running in the back of maybe Detective Comics and spinning out of there. Tim Drake has come out as bisexual, he’s dating a dude, they are superheroing together a little bit. Now, he’s living on a boat on the dirty old pier and investigating mysteries.

Justin:              Living on a boat. Tim Drake, he needs WiFi.

Alex:                 I’ll tell you why-

Justin:              There’s no freaking WiFi.

Alex:                 I love this book. I love it, it’s so good. Go ahead.

Justin:              I feel like Tim Drake, great Robin, a Robin that I loved, especially growing up. He was the Robin when I first started reading and was all on board with Tim Drake and the fact that he is… Reading this book made think about the different aspects that each of the different Robins personify for Batman. Tim Drake’s the detective, he’s the Sherlock, he’s the one who can really break that down. Seeing that on display here, the Riley Rossmo art and really putting Tim Drake in a place the same way Nightwing has been able to really occupy Blüdhaven and different parts of the DC Universe when he was in Checkmate and all that. I feel like this is just a great flag put in the world for Tim Drake and I really loved it.

Pete:                You had me at R Squared. Rossmo’s art is just, I’m a sucker for it every time, but you never trust a person who has a boat.

Justin:              You don’t trust anyone who has a boat?

Pete:                Nobody. You don’t trust anybody. If they’ve got a boat, you can’t trust them.

Justin:              Interesting.

Pete:                But what is this just-

Alex:                 What about the US sailing team?

Justin:              Pete, what about someone-

Pete:                The whole lot of them are a collection of shady individuals.

Justin:              Someone who I know is a close personal hero, Captain Crunch. You’ve trusted him your whole life. How are you coming down on him now?

Alex:                 Sailing through a bowl of milk with his crunchy, old cereal. I just want to say real quick on that note, though, I love the idea of fleshing out Gotham’s pier. It was one of those things where when they introduced it to the book, and I think this is credit to Megan Fitzmartin’s writing here, the idea of, of course, Gotham would have a dingy pier that a bunch of weirdos live on. We haven’t really seen that before, but I love that as a setting. It’s great.

Justin:              Agreed. It can be a collection of not just crime people, criminals, also known as criminals, but also strange people, people from… It feels like these women who are murdered here are witches, in a weird way, Roald Dahl style witches in a weird way, so it’s a great place where it’s a nexus of different parts of the universe. Let me just say, when we get the shot of the pier from the overhead, it looks like shit.

Pete:                But it’s cool. That whole panel layout is really cool, the cross section of the boat is really cool. It’s bananas art, just absolutely bananas art. There is a ghost monkey type figure in this comic, so that makes sense.

Alex:                 It’s fun, it’s also very romantic. The relationship between Robin and his new boyfriend is very cute and I love, even though they’re six months in, they’re still giddy about each other. Really enjoying this book. I didn’t know what to think getting in, because there’s so many bad books, but this really already has found its own niche, even in the first issue and I’m very much enjoying it.

Alex:                 Let’s talk about another one-shot here. Onyx one-shot from Image Comics, created and produced by the OGs themselves, Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez. Now, this is introducing a guy who is in space armor who is investigating weird monsters who live on earth that are maybe hiding out, but is not Rom the Space Knight and not looking at the Dire Wraiths. I want to be very clear about that, it is not that, it is original property, even though I believe Chris Ryall wrote Rom back in the day, so knows his way around there. But the standout here, of course, beyond Chris Ryall’s steady writing is Gabriel Rodriguez’s art, always great to see him on a new property. Pete, I want to hear from you on this.

Pete:                Well, first off, you were confusing that because you were like, “Well this is not Rom, but it’s written by the guy who did Rom and there’s a lot of similarities-“

Alex:                 In a very similar way that Radiant Black is Kyle Higgins definitely not doing Power Rangers, Onyx is Chris Ryall definitely not doing Rom. It’s taking those ideas and then finding an original spin on it, is basically what I’m saying.

Pete:                Yes. Okay, cool. So, first off-

Alex:                 Had to clear the air there.

Justin:              Why are you mad, bro?

Pete:                I don’t know, a lot of reasons. It’s fun to see Gabriel Rodriguez’s art in different ways and also with different characters and the different takes he has on things, so really cool, especially the suit stuff and also the little navigation screen that they had it appear.

Justin:              That’s a very specific thing to call out, the navigation screen.

Pete:                There’s just subtle ways that his art pops and does amazing stuff. So, sorry for being specific and pointing stuff out that I enjoyed.

Justin:              I love it, I’m saying that, I’m here for it.

Pete:                I also really enjoyed the font and the type, if you want to get into that, as well. But cool first issue, setting up that there’s stuff going on that we don’t understand or know about. I’m always into that kind of stuff. So, cool, fun, solid first issue, gets excited for more. Yes, please, more.

Justin:              Yes. I’m curious, is there more?

Alex:                 This is a one-shot and if anything, this is a graphic novel in one issue that goes into the entire-

Justin:              It’s nice and long.

Alex:                 … arc, which is very cool, so I don’t know. I guess if it sells enough, there might be more.

Justin:              Well, and let me say as much as Rom is the direct reference, I feel like, I got a lot of Aliens. If a Predator was on their side and there was another menace, which I feel like is what the Onyx… Onyx has that Predator energy, if they were on the good side, so it was cool. Just to shout-out Gabriel Rodriguez, his art, a little bit harder, who does better faces in comics besides Gabriel? The expressiveness of the characters, every character down to random dude on the spaceship who’s just a… You look at him, you’re like, “That’s a full human who lives their own life and they’re not part of this story, but they have their own story,” and that is something that most artists just do not do. I always appreciate looking at any Gabriel Rodriguez panel.

Alex:                 If you’re looking for something that is a crazy space action story that feels right out of the ’80s or ’90s and is its own complete package in the one issue, definitely check this out. Next up, all the guys are coming home to roost this week, we’ve got The Roadie #1 from Dark Horse Comics, written by touchy-feely Tim Seeley himself, art by Fran Galán. In this issue, we meet The Roadie of the title, who is working for a bunch of rock bands, lamenting the rise of rap, and also fighting demons in his spare time. Great concept, right in Tim Seeley’s wheelhouse. I had a blast reading this. This feels like a nicer version of The Scumbag, the Rick Remender book, a little bit, with some demon-inflected stuff at the same time, and I had a fun time reading this.

Pete:                I definitely got that.

Justin:              I also felt some Rick Remender vibes. Advisor. Pete, you’re the closer. If this were at a concert venue, I’m the opening act, Alex is the announcer, I’m the opening act, you’re definitely the closer here, so just give me a second. First off, touchy-feely Tim Seeley, their backstory on that nickname, which we should explain, because that’s a heavy-handed nickname.

Alex:                 It’s a little upsetting to hear it if you don’t know what we’re talking about.

Justin:              100%. That extends back to our days on the con floor interviewing folks. Pete, huge Hack/Slash fan, we all are Hack/Slash fans, but Pete may be the number one, gets up with Tim Seeley, we get a camera on them, and they can’t stop hugging. They can’t stop hugging. Touchy-feely Tim Seeley is born, which was great. But I agree, if you’re a fan of Fear Agent from Rick Remender or The Scumbag, more recently from Rick Remender, it shares a little DNA there, but it’s definitely rooted in the Tim Seeley world of like, “Hey, Satan’s around, what’s up with this group of people?” Definitely in the music scene, strong takes on what music is cool in here, which I appreciate, because no one does that.

Pete:                So, first off, Tim Seeley’s history or past or whatever aside, what’s great about this is the layering of the story. You think, we’re going to get this scumbag set up of a roadie, the guy’s been on the road, seen all the stuff, and knows how to deal with groupies or whatever, and then there’s this big reveal, which I think is great, and gives it the real push of what this story is about. Really impressive, the use of music in this comic. Zalben likes to talk to writers and artists about the layering of music in comics and how that’s hard to do.

Pete:                There are panels here where it’s just the lyrics of the song that are playing over what’s happening, which is a very cool, creative take that I really appreciated.What was cool about this was it was Tim Seeley, but the art really elevated it. It really brought this to a different place than I was expecting. As someone who is a huge fan of Tim Seeley and very used to his work and his wheelhouse, it was nice to see him do something that felt different and it was cool. I’m very interested to see how this is all going to play out. It was such a crazy introduction of the devil coming out of the television in such a-

Justin:              I want to highlight that I feel like Seeley, a huge horror fan, it seems like. This moment where a demon presence comes out of the TV, I would have loved to see Tim Seeley’s face when that page came back to him, because that’s straight out of a horror movie, just killer page. The Fran Galán art is excellent.

Pete:                You can tell The Roadie has been through so much shit, because nothing phases him. If I was watching TV and someone crawled out of it, I wouldn’t still be in that room, but a Roadie’s like, “Oh-“

Justin:              What if it was Ted Lasso crawled out of your TV and was like, “Hey, Pete, believe.”

Pete:                I’m still running, bro.

Justin:              You’re out of there? Ted Lasso comes through, he has a little cocktail with you, your buddy.

Alex:                 In seven days, you’re going to feel great. Anyway, this book is also great. I just want to, one last little note here, this is 100% definitely for adults. There’s nudity, there’s violence, there’s a lot of sexual content going on here, but definitely excited to see how this continues. Next up, Dark Spaces-

Justin:              Well, you just sold that to a lot of kids, Alex, nice job.

Alex:                 Oh, these were my first titties. Dark Spaces: Wildfire #1 from IDW Publishing, written by Scott Snyder, art by Hayden Sherman. In this issue, a bunch of firefighters who are, I don’t know if this is technically accurate, but on parole.

Pete:                My first titties.

Alex:                 They’re basically a work group that is allowed to leave prison in order to fight fires in the forest, hatch a plan to rob a house. We already know that it’s going to go horribly wrong from pretty much the first page, so that’s weighing over them. I love this. I think Scott, this is right, keep tall and keeps in his own-

Pete:                This guy’s a good writer.

Alex:                 … wheelhouse, but this is definitely, it is wheelhouse down to like, “Here’s how forest fighters work,” right at the first couple of pages, which seems like a very classic Scott Snyder setup, before it starts to get dark and horribly wrong. But Hayden Sherman’s layouts are-

Pete:                Yes.

Justin:              Really cool.

Alex:                 … phenomenal here. So good, so much experimentation going on. I just love the looking at this book.

Pete:                Agreed.

Justin:              Agreed. This Scott Snyder superhero teams, real-life forest firefighting here in this book, giving us the breakdown, I could just see him diving in, licking his lips, and just getting into how firefighting works. Yum, yum, give me that forest firefighting facts. The great twist, the parentheses on the story from the beginning and the end, I thought was super effective, really got me. I’m definitely on board. The idea, if we could just rebake the premise for you, it’s a heist story set in the middle of a forest fire and that’s fun.

Pete:                This is just such a interesting setup, because you’re already like, “Holy crap, I can’t imagine somebody who’s badass enough to run into a fire,” but then you have this different presence of these people who are these badass women team of firefighters and what their deal is, and then this pitch of, “Hey, I know about this house,” and all this stuff. It does such a good job of getting you new information as the story’s going to ramp things up and get you more and more excited and more and more into this world. I can’t say enough about the art and the page layouts. This is some really great comics.

Alex:                 Well, just to mention, the way that Scott steps back and allows Hayden Sherman to lay out information only visually. Essentially, the idea of the people thinking about this, them remembering this as they’re narrating other things, I thought was really phenomenal, just in terms of visual storytelling and very unique and not at all what I expected from this book. I believe this is the first book from IDW Originals, which is their new line that has been tasked to create original stories and create things that are not licensed, because IDW very much has become known for their licensed properties, at this point. This is a great first start. I’m very excited-

Justin:              Great launch.

Alex:                 Great launch. Good job, IDW Originals. Next up, DC Horror Presents: Sgt. Rock vs. The Army of the Dead #1 from DC Comics, written by none other than Bruce Campbell, art by none other than Eduardo Risso. This does exactly what the title tells you, it’s Sgt. Rock fighting zombies in World War II. Pete, this seems right up your alley. What did you think of this one?

Pete:                This is a great setup for a huge showdown. They do a great job of this issue just being like, “Here are the good guys, this is what’s coming, this is how this is all going to play out.” I think it’s such a cool like, “Oh yeah, let’s see this verses, let’s see how this goes down.”

Justin:              Let me just lay out, Pete, are you on the Sgt. Rock side or the undead Nazi side? Because I feel like-

Alex:                 That’s a great question. Do you like the Nazis or do you like-

Justin:              … you haven’t really defined which side.

Pete:                I’m not going to be the team zombie Nazis, sorry to disappoint you guys.

Justin:              I’m not disappointed. I just wanted to be clear, because you didn’t really define it. You said that you knew who the good guys were, but you didn’t say who.

Pete:                It’s not the zombie Nazis, they’re not the good guys.

Justin:              That’s your take.

Alex:                 That’s our review of-

Pete:                It sounds like you guys are disappointed.

Justin:              No, I love it. Bruce Campbell, you can almost hear his voice in the narration. It’s written sparingly, the way Bruce Campbell talks in his movies. The Eduardo Risso art, while I was reading this, I was like, “How did they work this deal to get Eduardo Risso on board?” Because it’s so good, it fits so well. It’s a really nice Pete LePage package.

Alex:                 Well, I want to throw out there, also, it is more restrained than I would’ve expected from Bruce Campbell. It’s not non-stop jokes and quipping or anything like that, the sort of thing that I expected coming in-

Pete:                Or long monologues about-

Alex:                 … it’s a legitimate story that pits Sgt. Rock and his troop against these zombies. Obviously, there’s some big, bold, crazy flourishes there, but I don’t know, this worked for me much better than I expected. I thought it would be a [inaudible 00:18:21], but it’s more than that.

Pete:                Yeah, I was surprised.

Justin:              The Pizza Poppa and Bubba Ho-Te cameo was a little over the top for me, but sure.

Alex:                 That was a little much.

Pete:                Oh my god.

Alex:                 Good stuff, though. Flawed #1 for Image Comics, written by Chuck Brown, art by Prenzy. This is a new vigilante who is going after people that have done the dirtiest deeds imaginable. What’d you guys think about this one?

Pete:                The dirtiest deeds-

Justin:              The dirtiest deeds imaginable.

Alex:                 The dirty deeds done dirt cheap, if you will.

Pete:                Oh my god.

Justin:              You could say that.

Pete:                Well, first off, I love the hero in this book. I thought she was badass in all the right ways. I think that they do a really good job of showing the action, the angles and stuff like that, it’s very cool. They do a good job of giving you that wide shot and then coming in and stuff for all the fights and showing all the fun brawls.

Alex:                 She’s a psychologist or a psychiatrist-

Justin:              Psychiatrist, I think.

Alex:                 Psychiatrist, okay.

Justin:              Well, and I feel like the difference maker in this book is it’s rooted in psychiatry, which is something I haven’t seen, a psychiatrist superhero is rare. The way the story spins into the supernatural, I thought, was surprising. I didn’t expect it and it led me to really lean in and be like, “What is this world that we’re seeing?”

Alex:                 Yes, I agree. I wanted a little more of it. This definitely felt like pilot episode Image Comics to me a little bit. I read some of these books where it’s like, “Here’s the concept, tune in for next month.” But I like the art, I like the concept enough that I am willing to pick up issue 2 and I just want to delve more into the characters, at that point.

Alex:                 Let’s move on and talk about Briar #1 from Dark Horse Comics, written by Chris Cantwell, art by Germán García. You can probably figure this out from the title a little bit, or you get it pretty quickly, but it is a twist on the Sleeping Beauty story, where Sleeping Beauty was never woken up and what happens after that. It spins out very quickly into this wild fantasy, post-apocalyptic journey thing that’s going on. This is awesome. The writing was not what I expected, the art is phenomenal, it spins out in wild ways. Justin, it looks like you want to jump in here.

Justin:              Yeah. I’m a-

Pete:                Justin, jump in.

Justin:              I was a huge fan of this. I think this Stack episode especially, we have a ton of great writing on display. We’re going to talk about a lot of great books, we already have talked about a lot of great books. This book, in that moment, still stands out for just really catching me off guard with how great the actual just text is. And then the premise of a Sleeping Beauty that didn’t wake up for political reasons, which I thought was really cool, and then, suddenly, we’re in a post apocalyptic fairytale, essentially, by the second half of the book, I think, is such fertile ground. I want to explore this whole world. I love this first issue.

Pete:                I was really impressed with the jumping off point here. They’ve taken something we’ve seen and know very well, and then just the different twists and turns that happens and how the art really tells a great story and how this character really would react to all this, I thought it was very creative, super fun. Also, love the map we got at the end. I’m a sucker for a good map.

Justin:              This guy loves a map.

Alex:                 You should check out an atlas or Google Maps, perhaps.

Justin:              Oh, you’re going to love Waze. I’m going to get you Waze for your birthday this year. You’re going to love it.

Alex:                 Here’s my one question about this, and this is maybe a little bit of a concern, but I love this issue enough that I’m more than willing to give the second issue a chance, is how much does this connect to Sleeping Beauty as it continues? Because by the second half of this issue, it’s not really Sleeping Beauty anymore, it’s gone off in wild directions. I love the directions it goes into, but in order to continue the concept of the book, I feel like you’ve got to be revisiting that a little bit, in some ways. So, I’m curious to see if they were going to do that or if it’s just going to spin into a beautifully drawn post-apocalyptic tale, in which case, that’s also fine.

Justin:              Well, I think there are some elements that we’re going to see continued here. Sleeping Beauty is awoken by a mysterious stranger’s kiss, so I think that’s part of the mystery that will continue to be unfolded here. And then we also get a new prophecy-

Pete:                Who’s walking around just smooching skeletons, what kind of creep does that?

Alex:                 I’m always doing that. I live by Greenwood Cemetery. Every night, I’m out there digging up graves and kissing skeletons.

Pete:                Why would you do that?

Justin:              Just in case you get a wake up.

Alex:                 Yep.

Pete:                Just in case you get a wake up?

Alex:                 Yep.

Pete:                That’s what you say to your wife, you go, “Eh, sorry about this, but I kissed and skeleton and now-“

Alex:                 She knows.

Justin:              True love.

Alex:                 I’m doing a service, man. I’m doing a service.

Justin:              If you got a true love wake up, you’ve got to do it. If you kiss a bunch of frogs and one of them turns into a prince or princess, you can’t be doing that.

Alex:                 Case closed.

Pete:                You shouldn’t be doing that.

Justin:              You shouldn’t be kissing frogs?

Pete:                That’s right.

Justin:              Because that’s cheating? Are you saying that’s cheating?

Alex:                 I’ll just change my life, I’ll stop kissing frogs and kissing skeletons.

Pete:                I wish you would. You’re married, you can’t do those things.

Alex:                 I guess I can’t kiss frog skeletons, either.

Pete:                That’s correct.

Justin:              Well, that’s the last time I kiss you awake, Pete, if that’s the way you want to be.

Pete:                I wish you would stop doing that. It’s a horrible way to wake up.

Justin:              It’s expensive, just an expensive commute for me, but I thought it was nice. It was a little romantic alarm clock between me and you.

Alex:                 DC vs. Vampires #9 from DC Comics, written by James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg, art by Otto Schmidt.

Justin:              There it is.

Alex:                 Always surprises me every time.

Justin:              You paused and then he didn’t do it and then he did it right when you moved on, that’s friendship. This is chemistry.

Alex:                 They’re trying to get Supergirl to a place where she can see the sun again so she can become super strong. Meanwhile, a bunch of other things are going on in the DC Universe that has been taken over by vampires. Pete, you’re stoked about this one, take it away.

Pete:                First off, you’ve got Bergy and JT IV together on one project. Come on, what more do you want? This is just-

Alex:                 I don’t want shit, that’s what I want. The art is good.

Pete:                The art’s bananas good. I just think that this is just such a fun heightening of things that we already know. The fun matchups, the crazy conversations, the fun reveals, they do such a great job of pitting these characters against each other in such a cool way. The Black Manta reveal, not to spoil anything, was so great. I’m having such a blast with this. This is just over the top fun with characters that we already know and love. It’s like the best of playing with somebody else’s toy box. I can’t recommend it enough.

Justin:              First off, shout-out, this is one of four JT IV books we’re talking about this week, so shout-outs to that guy.

Pete:                Four to the IV, bro. Come on.

Justin:              Yeah, exactly. He’s always got four bangers every week. And then this book has gotten to that point, you know in an action movie where it’s just quips? You’re in such a climax where it’s just lines like, “Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker,” and then just banger lines back and forth, that’s what this issue felt like to me. It’s just jumping to different seeds, it’s just intense, awesome things. Aquaman, when you become a vampire, you take off your gold fish scale shirt and you put on a badder ass outfit, makes sense. We get a great scene there, great stuff with Green Arrow. This is the most badass Green Arrow has ever been.

Alex:                 It really is. I could read a whole spinoff about Green Arrow in this world. That was absolutely my favorite part, that was killer, loved following him. I love the idea of just a regular human who’s just very good at arrows trying to navigate a post-apocalyptic world, this particular [inaudible 00:26:40].

Pete:                If only there was a great TV show called Arrow that went on for eight seasons.

Justin:              Sorry, you’re out of time to talk. I just want to shout-out, also, the use of Loose Cannon in this book, I thought, was also very good. Just a shitty character to bring back and then dispense with in a shitty way, beautiful.

Alex:                 Next up, Old Dog #1 from Image Comics by Declan-

Pete:                Hey, didn’t we already talk about that one?

Alex:                 … Shalvey, who we had on our live show just last week to talk about Old Dog. Now, we’ll do spoilers here, since we didn’t get to really talk about that on live show. But in this book, we meet a spy who is going on a mission. Here’s the big spoiler, it isn’t abundantly clear until the end of the issue that you’re seeing him in two different timelines: the mission that led to him being in a coma and the mission that picks up later when he is already rolled and has basically Wolverine style healing abilities. But like I mentioned on the live show, I love that. I loved getting to the end of the book, seeing those two timelines coalesce, realizing what was happening and going, “Wait, what?” And then going back and reading the entire issue again with that knowledge, I thought that was so well structured. Of course, you have Declan Shalvey’s immaculate art, which is perfect for this sort of thing.

Justin:              First off, it’s fucked up that you age in a coma. That should be a pass, you should get to chill.

Alex:                 Hard pass.

Justin:              Not into it. You’re not Rip Van Winkling underneath an apple tree or whatever, if you’re in a full on hospital coma, you should be able to maintain the pure, pristine, wrinkleless face.

Alex:                 100% agree. Good comments, everybody.

Justin:              And that’s it.

Alex:                 That’s it.

Justin:              Like we talked about this with Declan, this book is cool. The fact that, just from a look at the cover and you just see the intensity and emotion across the board there and that is extended through the book and we get a nice reveal, beyond what Alex just said, at the end of this book. It’s just the beginning of setting the stage here, I think.

Pete:                The art is just absolutely fantastic. I loved the action. It’s a really fun reveal that does make you want to go back and read it. Everything we said when we talked to him was true and spot on, so this is an impressive book. I’m happy it’s out and other people get to check it out.

Alex:                 We actually have a sponsor for this week’s episode, so to talk about that a little bit, Frankenculture Presents the Frankenculture podcast, a biweekly video game podcast hosted by three friends, sounds familiar.

Justin:              Nice. We’re friends. We’re confirming that. Pete, we have to be friends for this commercial, Pete, so get out of the corner.

Pete:                See, we’re friends.

Alex:                 Okay, there we go. Based out of Vegas, they’ve got weekly news coverage, video game reviews, live streams, and-

Pete:                Vegas, baby.

Alex:                 … they end each episode with arousing game of video game 20 questions. If you love video games and hearing people talking about them, then check out the Frankenculture podcast wherever you get your podcast from, Twitch, YouTube, dead drops, and remember, Frankenculture was the podcast, not the monster.

Justin:              Oh yes, love it.

Pete:                Oh wow.

Alex:                 I wrote that line. I wrote that line.

Justin:              Nice.

Pete:                Did you really?

Alex:                 Yeah, I did.

Pete:                I like it less now.

Alex:                 Oh. Why don’t we move onto the comic book reviews, then? Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #100 from Dark Horse Comics, written by Ryan Parrott, art by… Oh, actually, sorry, this is from Boom! Studios, written by Ryan Parrott, art by Moisés Hidalgo and Marco Renna. This is bringing Ryan Parrott’s on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to an end. We talked about this book pretty sporadically, but what’d you guys think about this one?

Pete:                Yeah, it it Boom!.

Alex:                 Great, thanks.

Justin:              Nice. Great.

Pete:                Doing the research.

Alex:                 That’s our review, again, just really sums things up very nicely.

Pete:                This feels like a 100 issue. A lot of crazy things happen, there’s a real ramp up here. It feels like a really good Power Rangers book. You hope it’s going to be when you see something like this and they really deliver on it. There’s a lot of cool character moments, some real badass villain stuff going on here. I very much enjoyed it.

Justin:              They are morphin at different points, they’re pretty powerful. They cover all the words they need to in this.

Alex:                 Nice.

Justin:              I also think it’s very funny, there’s so much mythology that’s been added to this world, in a good way, and I think it works and there’s great emotional beats in this issue, but it’s very funny to me that they even call out, they’re like, “Wait, your gun is a Cretaceous cannon,” or whatever and they’re like, “I know we have to say this dumb stuff.” That feels like what the whole thing is like, “We still have to call this Morphin’ Time and get in your Zords real quick.” So, that part, it pulls me out of it a little bit, despite the fact that I thought the story was good.

Alex:                 I’m kind of with you, Justin. I will say Ryan Parrott has done a great job. Every issue that I’ve read of his run on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers has hit way above its weight-

Justin:              100%.

Alex:                 … in terms of what I expected. Also, the design of the evil Power Rangers here is pretty cool and kind of scary. I really loved the sharp teeth over their mouth, I thought that was very neat.

Justin:              The way that they resolved the story, I was like, “Oh, that’s cool,” going through to the technology into their personal life and popping out-

Pete:                Don’t spoil it.

Justin:              … almost rebooting the system in a way. I feel like that’s not spoiling much, because I’m describing a very technical aspect of it. It was cool.

Alex:                 It’s always a very pleasant surprise reading these books. I will go back to my frequent refrain about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, though, which is just do the Megazord first. Stop wasting time and just get to that first, because you always end with that. They’re always like, “We’ve run out of every possibility. Wait a second, can’t we form a big Zord and we have a Zord there, and if we just did that once, wouldn’t that solve the problem?”

Justin:              Well, you have to wait and see-

Alex:                 I just thought of that, off of the top of my head.

Justin:              … if Rita Repulsa is going to throw down the bomb-

Pete:                Exactly.

Justin:              … and cause the monster to grow to be tall.

Alex:                 That’s true. I guess I’m not really-

Justin:              I guess you could argue maybe Rita Repulsa should start by throwing a big monster down there and not a tiny monster.

Alex:                 Tell you what, if I’m ever sucked into this world, I have notes.

Pete:                Wow. You’re going to be the first guy killed.

Justin:              Alex, you’re going to be squished, you’re going to be squished by a foot.

Alex:                 100%. I’m not going to have time to get my notes. Next up, The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #6 for DC Comics, written by, once again, James Tynion IV, art by Maria Llovet. This is not a one-shot issue, but this is an issue that takes a turn a little bit to somebody who looks very like James Tynion IV, who is named James.

Justin:              Named Jamie and talks about being a writer who had a sample that-

Pete:                It gets a little meta.

Justin:              … was about kids being lost in a forest, which was what JT IV’s first book was, if we remember.

Alex:                 Yeah. He is tasked by Hollywood with writing a story about what happened in the first five issues. He encounters Thessaly, the nearly immortal witch from The Sandman. I’ll tell you what, the first four issues in this book, I was like, “This is great. I love how they’re bring in the Corinthian, but mostly creating this new stuff.” And then the fifth issue, which we talked about, was this very like, “Oh, shit this is a Sandman book. Oh, there’s all the Sandman stuff going on.” And then the sixth issue continues that, where I was like, “Ah.” So, it’s just hitting on this very endorphin rush, visceral level of giving me what I want as a Sandman fan, while still doing these phenomenal stories that delve into horror. I love this book.

Justin:              This was a mighty endorphin writing strangers.

Pete:                Oh boy. So, this was really intense. I was blown away by how intense and creepy this issue was. It’s doing a great job of building and heightening on everything that was happening before. It’s also really tripped out and took some crazy turns with the art. I was super impressed by the writing and blown away by the art. This is a heck of a package that continues to deliver.

Justin:              I love it. When you get a writer like James Tynion IV in here, because he really-

Alex:                 JT IV. You can just say JT IV.

Justin:              …. he can really weave a story in The Sandman universe that can still be a story on its own, it isn’t just hitting the marks. He’s a meticulous writer and so he’s the perfect person to have doing this book. I agree, it’s great.

Alex:                 You mentioned the art piece. This is by Maria Llovet, who is from, I believe, one of your favorite, you would say, fucked up sex books-

Justin:              Yes, we loved this book.

Alex:                 … Faithless. She did such a great job there. You always wanted us to talk about every issue of that and Justin and I were like, “I don’t know. That’s a little messed up. You can’t read it on the subway,” and you’re like, “No, no, I love it.”

Pete:                No, that’s exactly how it went down, Alex.

Alex:                 “It really floats my boat.”

Pete:                You’re not changing the story at all.

Justin:              Pete would crawl into the conductor’s booth on the subway to read it and still be creeped out.

Alex:                 Because the conductor was there and it was very tight, but he was-

Justin:              Very intimate, honestly. If you’re crawling into that room and you’re reading a lightly pornographic comic, you’re making a move.

Alex:                 You’re like, “Hey, check this out. She’s doing an entire painting that’s made out of period blood. What do you think? Anyway, does this get off at 23rd?”

Justin:              I’ve bumped into that conductor when I’m kissing Pete awake in the morning a bunch of times.

Pete:                Oh boy.

Alex:                 This book was so good. It’s very amazing to have Maria Llovet on this one-shot and it seems to be spinning off into the Dead Boy Detectives book that’s coming out. Honestly, this is the most excited I’ve been about Sandman Universe stuff in a very long time and I can’t wait to read the spinoff, as well. Next up, Sins of the Black Flamingo #4 from Image Comics, written by Andrew Wheeler, art by Travis Moore. This is the second to last issue of this book as our main character, the Black Flamingo, recovers from being killed and stuff and tries to figure out what to do with the angel that he has found that is being coveted by a bunch of demons. Love the art of this book. Travis Moore’s art is, I think we’ve said this before, but Greg Land, but good and Andrew Wheeler is-

Justin:              Greg Land, but when you see the Entertainment Weekly article that Greg Land ripped off, you’re not mad about it.

Alex:                 Yeah, exactly. Entertainment Weekly?

Justin:              Is that what I said?

Alex:                 AVN Awards, I think is what-

Justin:              Wow. Nice.

Alex:                 I say this as somebody who enjoys Greg Land’s stop, but Travis Moore is doing it, but doing it the right way. Andrew Wheeler’s writing is very nuanced and funny and it has stakes at the same time. Loving how this book is going and I’m very sad that it is ending next issue.

Pete:                I thought you were going to say, “I watched the AVN awards for the awards.” The story is great. There’s really amazing characters in this. They do a great job of building the action. There’s nothing worse than someone wakes you up from a really nice sex dream, so this is a fun book.

Justin:              Sorry, Pete. Sorry. So sorry. I agree.

Alex:                 By the way, you didn’t specify where you kiss Pete, right, Justin?

Justin:              Stay tuned. What I love about this book is that the mythology that’s being constructed here is really good and done at a pace, not like, “Here’s what’s happening, it’s all that’s fighting between these different…” It’s teased out over the course of the whole series. I think that it’s rare to have that patience and I think this book is doing a great job with it.

Alex:                 Next up, Superman: Space Age #2 from DC Comics-

Pete:                Oh boy, here we go.

Alex:                 … written by Mark Russell, art by Mike Allred and Laura Allred. This is a monster of a book at more than-

Pete:                It’s a monster.

Alex:                 … 80 pages, I think, as we continue to follow the Superman during Space Age, as mentioned. But it is essentially Mark Russell recontextualizing Crisis on Infinite Earths in a very similar way to the way Marvel did the… Oh my gosh, I’m forgetting what it’s called, but they did the Fantastic Four and the Spider-Man books.

Justin:              Oh yeah. I think Mark Russell did one of them.

Alex:                 Yeah, he did the Fantastic Four one. It feels very similar to that, where it’s taking it and grounding it in a semi-realistic perspective, but then spinning it out in a new way. This is phenomenal. I know I said this in the live show, I know I said this is the first issue, but I’ll read anything that Mark Russell writes, I’ll read anything that Mike Allred and Laura Allred do the art for, putting them together is a home run, in my opinion.

Pete:                This comic was so emotional and so well done. You get a lot of bang for your buck here. This is quite a cool, not only take, but just you spend some time with Superman inside his head a little bit. It’s just really impressive comics and worth picking up.

Justin:              Emotional moment for Pete. What I love about this, we talk about a lot of writers here who… We’re about to talk about Tom King and his work on the Human Target, and James Tynion IV, masters of putting characters and putting them against each other. Mark Russell is a little bit the flip. If Tom King is writing chess pieces, Mark Russell is writing the board. He’s laying out this world and premise that is a perfect space for all these things to take place, in the way that he brings in Batman, the rest of the Justice League.

Pete:                Oh man.

Justin:              Written with humor, but at the same time, getting into the pathos and the real emotional details of all these characters. It’s really great writing and it’s rare to find that blend of great superhero storytelling and humor and leaving you with a real philosophical point and an emotional message at the end. This book is great and there’s more to come.

Pete:                Plus, you’ve seen Superman and Lois so many different ways, this doesn’t feel like any of that. There’s so much to the writing, as well as the art.

Justin:              There’s some heat there, you’re saying, there’s some romance.

Alex:                 Great stuff. Stillwater #15 from Image Comics, written by Chip Zdarsky, art by Ramón K. Perez. In this issue, we’ve taken a little bit of a time jump, I believe, as the town of Stillwater has taken over the neighboring town of Coldwater, things are not going great. Into it is our main character, who’s now becomes a profit/revolutionary against everything that is going on in Stillwater with the town that lives forever. As usual, there’s big changes going on here. What’d you guys think about this one?

Pete:                15 issues in and then we get a real big swerve that could topple all the other swerves, it’s impressive. It’s impressive that this still, after 15 issues, is still making such huge creative choices. This town that won’t die is going through so much and it’s a real interesting take, amazing art. You want to talk about great faces? The last panel face is pretty legendary. This continues to be a powerhouse of a comic and it delivers every issue. It’s been a fun read. I’m excited to see where this thing’s going to go and how it’s going to land.

Justin:              For the last couple issues, I felt like the story is almost in danger of flying off the tracks. This town that where people then die expanded into another town, it feels like it’s too much to organize. The characters in this issue are talking a lot about, I don’t know, how to turn off their social media. There’s a low-level stress and tension that we’re feeling. And then you get a reveal at the end of this issue that flips it back and turns the control knob back up on the story in a great way, so I think this is-

Alex:                 Are you crying now?

Justin:              Yeah, I am crying.

Pete:                Oh my god.

Justin:              Vomit. I’m vomiting. I feel like there’s just such a control here that I think is really great.

Alex:                 The Human Target #7 from DC Comics, written by Tom King, art by Greg Smallwood. In this issue, Fire is testing the Human Target to find out if he’s good enough for Ice and we get some sequences to that effect, and then we also get a big reveal, in terms of the future murder mystery of who killed the Human Target a couple of days from now. Every issue of this is great, I don’t know what else to say.

Pete:                This is just so cool, so suave. It feels like this noir, but the color and the art in this is just so well done. There’s a rhythm to this comic. There’s just such a vibe and feel. It’s really, really impressive and continues to be really impressive. This was one of my favorite issues, if you can have one of all this, but I was just really enjoying the romance check or the reality check that Human Target had to go through here, so very cool.

Justin:              This is the sexiest comic. This comic, it’s not aggressively sexual, but this comic is just hot. The sexual tension in every issue is wild. Everyone talks about, “Oh, James Bond, man, he really turns women on,” and I’m just like, “In those movies, not a lot of that.” This comic has that to the absolute most amount in any sort of medium I’ve seen lately. It’s really well done, the art and Tom King’s writing just blends so well. I want to read more of this. We’ve just had a little break and we’re coming back to the main title for the last run, I want to read hundreds of issues of this.

Alex:                 Totally agree. Next up, one of my favorite books on the stands currently, I Hate This Place #5 from Image Comics, written by Kyle Starks, art by Artyom Poplin. In this issue, we’re dealing with the fallout of the last issue, where our antagonist robber-murderer dude has seemingly been sucked into the center of the earth from this crazy house where literally everything horrible that can happened, happens. Things take some twists and turns here, we get some new information that’s going to kick off the next arc. It’s great. Like I’ve said, every issue Kyle Starks is finding the perfect mix of insane horror and humor. Artyom Poplin is the perfect partner for this. Good book.

Pete:                Also, we get the title in this issue. One of the characters say the titles, so that’s always fun.

Alex:                 Yes, very fun. They say the actual title, too, which is, “Fuck this place,” not I Hate This Place, but it’s still good stuff.

Pete:                I loved this comic. It’s really dark in all the right ways, you get some cool characters, and the action’s insane and over the top. This is just great Image Comics making great Image Comics and man, I hope this continues.

Justin:              I feel like aren’t a lot of comics out there where I’m like, “Ah, I don’t know if these main characters are going to make it. The odds are stacked against them. There are too many ghosts in this world, let alone the human threats.” But this comic manages, on top of all this horror, to put some great, like Pete’s saying, great romance and a great relationship at the center, and by the end, builds up the next phase of what’s coming. I Hate This Place, I love this comic.

Alex:                 Nice. Ant-Man #3 for Marvel, written by Al Ewing, art by Tom Riley. In this issue, as we are continuing to jump through the history of Ant-Man, we focus on Scott Lang and his daughter Cassie, as well as the I did not realize was a robot second version of Eric O’Grady, I must have missed that issue, at some point, when that happened. But they go up against each other and then we get some weird time madness in the middle there, as well as the reveal of maybe what the big villain of this series has been. Like we’ve said in every issue here, I think this is such a delightful jaunt through the history of Ant-Man that I wasn’t expecting. Al Ewing continues to do very mind-bending, but classic stuff and Tom Riley’s art is awesome throughout here.

Pete:                I just think this is a great package. This team-up really kills it on Ant-Man. This is a really not only fun run, but also the twist and turns that this story takes, it’s very interesting and very cool. It’s a very enjoyable book.

Justin:              What I love, in addition to all of that, because I agree, I really like this book, there’s a little bit of breaking the fourth wall at the end here about climax building, there’s a computer voice saying that. It’s just refreshing to see a Marvel project break the fourth wall. When have we seen that happening currently? Great to really see it working. This is fun.

Alex:                 Next up, The Nice House on the Lake #10 from DC Comics, written by James Tynion IV-

Pete:                JT IV.

Alex:                 … and once again, art by Álvaro Martínez Bueno. In this issue, we’re finding out a lot more about how this whole society works and we get to see, what I would suggest is the moment when it all breaks, that we’ve been teasing from the very first issue, so this is a very big issue for this comic. Justin, I know you’ve been enjoying this. What did you think about this one?

Justin:              Love this comic. This is great, standalone sci-fi. This feels like, it would be maybe hard to cram all the ideas into a movie, but a limited series, I think this would be amazing. It feels so slick and the dramatic turns that feel so disparate when we start reading the issue and come together in a way, by the end, is really great.

Pete:                I feel like this is creepy in weird, amazing ways. The design and the layouts, the slow reveal of more and more information as we’re going along here, the pace of it’s really impressive, and we get a big mic drop here in this issue, so I’m nervously excited about where this is going.

Justin:              I have a similar app for you guys that’s actually discussed in the book, so I can-

Alex:                 Oh, that’d be great.

Justin:              … just change [inaudible 00:50:27].

Alex:                 You’ve been controlling us. You have that weird head that-

Pete:                Well, we’re going to talk about how weird Justin’s head is right now.

Alex:                 I’s very weird. He just got a haircut, right, Pete?

Pete:                Hey.

Alex:                 That’s a very inside joke. Eight Billion Genies #5-

Justin:              Subscribe and follow us on Facebook.

Alex:                 Eight Billion Genies #5 from Image Comics, written by Charles Soule, art by Ryan Browne. In this issue, well, I finally realized that we were going multiples of eight every issue. We were going from eight hours to eight days to eight weeks to eight months, something I just didn’t pick up on-

Pete:                You didn’t think of-

Alex:                 … because I’m very stupid.

Justin:              That’s okay.

Pete:                Cornell didn’t get it.

Justin:              That’s not stupid.

Alex:                 They didn’t teach that at Cornell. But anyway, everybody on Earth has genie, but we are down to 50 million people on Earth at this point. We’re getting some reveals, in terms of what people are doing, both of the bar that we’ve been following, as well as in the outside world. There’s some big changes there. Every issue is great. I love the unlimited creativity on display.

Pete:                Yeah, I agree, that’s a great way to put it. It continues to build this. I really enjoyed this issue because of the fact of we’re really exploring this idea what would happen to the world if everybody got wishes and what a fucking shitshow it would be. Now, we’re seeing the people who are waiting this out and what’s going on in the little pockets of different people and how that’s going to all affect everybody that we know here. So, this continues to be crazy creative, super fun to read. Every time it’s in The Stack, I’m always like, “Oh crap, where are we going with this? How is this going to…” It’s something that I really look forward to and they’ve been really delivering on.

Justin:              I love the bit we get here that feels like a little bit of a standalone issue, this cold open into the character reveal, who I guess we met at the end of last issue, really interesting character. Like everyone’s saying, the amount of ideas on display here is awesome and moving so quickly. This is the same team that did Curse Words, right?

Pete:                Yeah, sure did.

Justin:              I feel like this book is just, and Curse Words is great, but this feels like it’s just moving so much further and faster at the same time.

Pete:                We don’t have to put something down to enjoy-

Justin:              I’m not putting it down, I’m basically

Alex:                 Curse Words is bad is what you’re saying and Eight Billion Genies is good-

Justin:              I’m saying if you’re a fan of Curse Words and somehow haven’t found this book, you’re going to want to check it out.

Pete:                But let’s talk about it, peas and milk. Are you guys going to…

Justin:              I’ll tell you, I made peas for dinner for my kids and so this, honestly, it really hit me.

Alex:                 The first time you saw yourself on screen. Defenders: Beyond #3 from Marvel, written, once again, by Al Ewing, art by Javier Rodriguez. This issue, a bunch of crazy things are happening.

Justin:              What else do you have to say about this? It’s funny, we talked about Al Ewing early on in the Ant-Man book, which feels like is still wildly creative and all over the place in a good way, but there are guardrails there. This feels like do whatever you want. And then there’s so many characters in this issue eating a sandwich, being like, “Oh, you think that’s crazy? Watch this,” and then they do something crazy. So, it is a wild, almost just jam session of superhero ideas and characters who we don’t get to see a lot of. I love that Tigra, a character I love, is maybe a linchpin here.

Alex:                 I love the scene, I just want to mention the seed where Tigra is like, “You think that I’m just somebody who looks like a tiger? I am a tiger god,” and turns into this tiger god. I was like, “I don’t know what’s happening, but I enjoy looking at this.”

Pete:                The tripped out art is what I’m excited to talk about in this. The panels, they just took away the panels and let the artist draw these huge, big, creative things that are not only just beautiful, but tripped out and weird and crazy. It’s just one of those comics that I wanted to hold in real life to really get a sense of, because seeing it online, I don’t know, it doesn’t feel as big as it should. But man, really tripped out fun. The art’s really impressive in this.

Alex:                 Action Comics #1047 from DC Comics, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, art by Riccardo Federici and David Lapham. Kal-El is back on Earth and fighting, who else? Lex Luthor, though he may or may not know that yet. This is dealing with the fallout of the Warworld Saga as Kal-El reassimilates himself to the planet and assures the planet that it’s not a big deal that Warworld is hanging outside of their orbit. What did you guys think about this? I know we were very big on the Warworld Saga, but now that we’re past that, how do you feel about this new arc?

Pete:                Well, I do love the Superman and Lois in the air stuff. I thought that was really very touching and very cool. But I’m excited to see where this is going to move and what’s going to happen. But after that huge arc, what’s going on next? This is all setting this up and it’s got a little creepy feel to it.

Alex:                 What about you, Justin? Can you feel it coming in the air tonight?

Justin:              Oh my god, 100%. I feel like the Warworld story was a Superman story, but it was about Superman and we weren’t with Superman. It was almost mythological about Superman rising up and winning Warworld. This issue feels like it’s a Lex Luthor story, almost. We’re with Metallo for a part of it, a broken down Metallo that I think is going to become a big threat to Superman. Love that, I love that part of the story. But the rest of it, even the Superman side, feels like it’s Lex Luthor’s worry about Superman made good. He’s like, “This person is coming here and he’s going to only cause problems for Earth. He’s brought a place called Warworld in our orbit problem,” and then Lex Luthor is like, “Let me poke around and see what’s up.” So, it feels like Lex Luthor is going to become a little bit more prominent and maybe… We are a little bit riding with Lex in this issue, so I’m curious how that will play out going forward.

Alex:                 Department of Truth #21 from Image Comics, written by James Tynion IV-

Pete:                JT IV.

Alex:                 … art by Martin Simmonds. In this issue, we are exploring the vault in Fort Knox, which not only exists, but is a hidey-hole for a bunch of things the Department of Truth just wanted to hide away-

Justin:              Hidey, hidey, hidey hole. Got you. We got you.

Alex:                 We’re going even further into the origins of the Department of Truth and how it pivots with the similar department over in Russia in this issue. As usual, I love these mythological issues that really delve into the origins of Department of Truth, while not ignoring our main characters. That’s where I feel like this series is strongest.

Pete:                This is a great issue. The cut-out art and the really big swings that they take artistically is just so impressive and so cool. It really fits this whole conspiracy world so well. That whole Fort Knox thing is a fun thing to explore and done in such a weird, crazy, impressive way. This comic is as creative as it is weird and impressive, so this continues to be this fun juggernaut that is definitely worth checking out.

Justin:              I feel like this comic has officially become what it’s like to hang out with your highest friend all the time, who I guess is Pete, technically, in my life. It’s constantly reestablishing the premise while also being like, “Yeah, but what about the Mothman? Have you ever thought about that?” And then in this issue it’s like-

Pete:                It all ties back.

Justin:              … “Yo, what if his boyfriend was also part of it?” It’s like, “What?” So, it does a good job of constantly reminding us of what’s going on while pushing, not in one direction, but in four directions, all the time. That’s a difficult tone to strike and it maybe isn’t for everyone, but I certainly like it and I think it’s doing well.

Alex:                 Thunderbolts #2 for Marvel, written by Jim Zub, art by Sean Izaakse. In this issue, the New Thunderbolts are dealing with their second mission and taking on a new member. I think we generally enjoyed the first issue and were curious to see how it played out in the second issue, so given that, what do you think?

Pete:                This, to me, was really all about, what was he? Eegro here, he was hysterical. I loved him, I want more. I’m paging through it right here to try to get to… The Unbreakable. Eegro the Unbreakable, really funny-

Alex:                 He’s short, he breaks stuff, you love him, dude.

Pete:                It’s my wheelhouse.

Justin:              What do you like about those qualities? Short, break stuff, what are your favorite parts of that?

Pete:                My two favorite things.

Justin:              Do you identify with those at all?

Pete:                I identify with one of them, for sure. But I just-

Justin:              Wait, which one?

Pete:                The short one.

Justin:              You break stuff, too.

Pete:                I know I do, but it’s not my favorite thing. But I think it’s fun. We’ve got arrow guy just stumbling through things, it’s fun to see Luke Cage upset at him. This is just fun. It seems like they’re having fun with Thunderbolts, which sounds like a good time.

Justin:              This is bearing the standard of West Coast Avengers, Hawkeye even lists all these teams. There’s some good jokes in here. Secret Avengers, what’s Secret Avengers? Oh, that’s a secret, you don’t know about it. All that stuff is fun. The characters each have their own little mysteries going on and there are some characters who we don’t know anything about them, so I do think this is doing a good job. This reminds me of reading New Warriors back in the ’90s or any comic that was like, “Here’s a fun team with a little bit of mystery, but a lot of fun and they’re going to go on some adventures and have some fights,” and I’m here for that.

Pete:                Cool.

Alex:                 The Vampire Slayer #6 from Boom! Studios, written by Sarah Gailey, art by Sonia Liao. In this issue, we pivot to the perspective of Xander, who has been training with Spike, who may or may not have some nefarious designs on the Vampire Slayer, who is now Willow in this continuity. I’ll tell you what, and maybe this is a little hyperbolic, but with this issue, I feel like I could confidently say this is my favorite Buffy thing since the TV series.

Pete:                Whoa.

Justin:              Well, it’s funny you say that, because when I was reading this, I was like, “This feels like it really has captured the tone of the show better than any of the other comics.” Even though it’s the twist of Willow being the Slayer and everything being a little bit different, it’s still able to just capture the comedy meets the drama meets the vampireness of it all in a way that… It’s a hard formula to crack and the comic has done it.

Alex:                 Yeah. Pete?

Pete:                Yeah, I agree.

Alex:                 I’m really enjoying this. I love all this stuff with everybody knowing something is wrong with Buffy. I’m super into the mystery of why she is no longer the Slayer, why Willow is the Slayer. Like you said, I think the tone is absolutely correct. They’ve figured out the soap opera of it all. I really like the last Vampire Slayer book that Sarah Gailey wrote, as well and I think she’s absolutely crushing it with these books. I’ve been very happy with this. Next up, Skybound Presents: Afterschool #3 from Image Comics, written by Jill Blotevogel, art by Marley Zarcone and Lisa Sterle. This is a horror/sci-fi/fantasy anthology that Skybound and Image Comics are running. In this issue, we get yet another done in one tale. Pete, I feel like you might have liked this one, maybe.

Pete:                Yeah, I did. I did. I liked it a lot. I was a little upset that it took this murderer to break in the house before this lady finally spent some time with her sister, but that’s what it’s like being the youngest. Nobody takes you seriously, you try to explain that the person you’re talking to is a murderer, but they don’t hear you, so you’ve got to prove it.

Alex:                 Well, to be clear, this is a autistic kid and her sister who is babysitting her, the parents are very absent at not paying attention.

Pete:                Classic parents.

Alex:                 The older sister has been talking to somebody remotely and in the midst of that, a masked killer comes in and starts stalking them and killing them.

Justin:              Scary. This book was scary.

Pete:                I think I made that all clear.

Justin:              Basically, you said the same words. This book was scary. What I like about this anthology series, it is targeted to afterschool stories, almost like afterschool specials elevated to the horror element. This one does the classic babysitter trope, but done really well. There are a couple good twists and turns, horrifying deaths, at points. All three of the stories in this series have been really good.

Alex:                 The Amazing Spider-Man #10 for Marvel, written by Zeb Wells, art by Nick Dragotta. In this issue, we are tying into the current Judgment Day storyline, which has found a Celestial judging everybody, not just on a planetary basis, but appearing to them individually, potentially as people they love. In this issue, of course, who shows up at Spider-Man’s door than Gwen Stacy, or rather the Celestial in the form of Gwen Stacy to judge him. This issue is a emotional atom bomb [inaudible 01:05:24].

Justin:              This is my favorite read of the week. We’ve talked about this crossover as something that is not really operating in the right way. It’s super heady and high-level and not giving us any sort of character perspective on what’s going on, and a premise that we like, the idea that a Celestial is judging every single person in the Marvel Universe is super interesting, especially from a hero perspective, but we haven’t really been in any of the hero’s heads. This issue gives us the most intense gut punch after gut punch of all here, and then Nick Dragotta’s art just capitalizes on that. We get just so much wide-eyed Peter Parker, wide-eyed Gwen Stacy. If I had to choose all the Peter Parker relationships, I’m more of a Mary Jane guy. I don’t know if anyone else on this panel really agrees with me, but-

Pete:                You can’t say you’re a Mary Jane Guy and then talk about how much you love the Gwen Stacy comic, bro.

Alex:                 I’m more Carlie Cooper over here, but go ahead.

Justin:              Oh good, strong choice. Betty Brant, anybody?

Alex:                 Yeah, sure.

Justin:              The girl from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that lives in the apartment next door?

Alex:                 Ursula Ditkovich. 100%. I know you’re joking about that, but that is the proper girl for Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man.

Justin:              That’s hitting on Twitter lately. I feel like everyone’s talking about that, for some weird reason.

Alex:                 I love Ursula Ditkovich.

Justin:              No, of course, Me too. As far as a character-

Pete:                She was great in 30 Rock.

Justin:              Great. But let me say, more realistically, this Gwen-Peter moment, the series of moments that happen here is so emotionally intense and it’s just the best version of that that I’ve seen in so long. Some great reveals of other characters along the way in what character they see judging them. This issue caught me off guard and is, by far, the best thing that’s come out of this crossover that I’ve read.

Pete:                I feel like Jordan D. White is fucking with me, because it feels like Marvel knows that Spider-Man fans are fucking upset at what the fuck they’re doing. The fact that they’re not only dragging their feet to get this character back to where it belongs, but now, they’re doing a fucking romance issue with Gwen, is just like, “I don’t want this. It’s beautiful, it’s very touching, it’s very moving, but I don’t fucking want this shit. I don’t want this shit at all.”

Alex:                 I want you to clarify for our listeners that Jordan D. White does not edit this book, nor have anything to do with this book.

Pete:                He works at Marvel, goddammit.

Alex:                 That’s true.

Justin:              So does the janitor.

Alex:                 Somebody yells at him, too.

Pete:                Somebody better start fucking talking and making some goddamn moves.

Alex:                 We need some answers. My big reaction, other than this legitimately made me tear up when I was reading this book, which I 100% did not expect, also, it made me very frustrated, because this shows the power of these crossovers when they go line wide and the fact that we’re not getting that. We’re getting that in some respects in some books, but the idea of exactly what we’re talking about, a Celestial judges everybody in the Marvel Universe, that should be a slam dunk for every single title in the entire Marvel line for this week or month or whatever they’re talking about when this issue of Judgment Day comes out, they should be doing the same thing for every one of these issues. I know that’s not how modern comics work, but at the same time, being able to do this, I would love to see that as Daredevil is presented with Karen Page or whoever. Do it in Punisher. He already has his wife, so who shows up in Punisher when the Celestial comes?

Justin:              Microchip.

Alex:                 Microchip, right.

Pete:                Nah, his gun. His gun.

Justin:              His gun. Judged by his own gun.

Alex:                 There’s certain restriction in doing these line wide crossovers, but at the same time, these restrictions open up possibilities for storytelling that are really interesting. It also creates, for fans, comparison of that Punisher issue didn’t work, because just Microchip showed up and it didn’t really have the emotional connection versus this Gwen Stacy issue with Spider-Man, but that’s what makes comics, and particularly the big two comics, so great. I wish they would just go for it, I miss it. I know I’m lamenting something that’s not going to come back again, but this issue really made me feel that of do that for all of these. I want to feel this all-encompassing, this event is so big, it can’t be contained in one book, it’s spilling out into all of these other things.

Pete:                Well, I appreciate your frustrations, though, because it’s like, “When are they going to right this ship with Spider-Man? When are they going to put things back to where it fucking belongs and stop fucking around?”

Justin:              I know you’re pissed, Pete. In the issue, it’s referenced that Peter gone through an emotional thing.

Pete:                I know.

Justin:              So, I know you want everything immediately, all the time, in the moment, but I think if you just wait, that’s the story that this comic is telling.

Pete:                It’s been years, bro, I’ve been waiting years.

Alex:                 Well, that’s the other thing that I’ll shout-out about this book, is even as a crossover with Judgment Day, it still gives these enormous teases for whatever happened with Spider-Man-

Justin:              100%.

Alex:                 … which is still this ongoing mystery. It was like, “Oh my God, give it to me now. I want to know.” So well done, so good, such a great issue, even if you haven’t been reading Spider-Man. Amazing stuff with Norman Osborn, too, and got me so excited for the next-

Justin:              Everybody. Great Aunt May moment, J. Jonah Jameson moment. We get everything.

Pete:                Great moment, dude.

Alex:                 This is phenomenal. This is a phenomenal issue.

Pete:                She better pass, man.

Justin:              What? She’d better pass?

Pete:                Yeah.

Justin:              You’ve been broken, Pete. Your brain is broken.

Pete:                Yep.

Justin:              That’s fine, but you should know that.

Alex:                 She better pass, so that… I don’t have time.

Justin:              That’s not how a logic works, that’s what a sociopath-

Alex:                 I kind of want to know, but also I don’t want know at all.

Justin:              How would you know?

Alex:                 I know. House of Slaughter #9 for Boom! Studios, written by Sam Johns, art by Letizia Cadonici. In this issue, we’re delving further into the mystery of this arc as we delve into the backstory of our main character, who is part of the House of Slaughter. What’d you guys think about this one?

Pete:                This is so fun, because we’re branching out. We had this amazing main story that we know about and now, we’re exploring different houses and how it all works and how people are selected and all this kind of stuff. This is just such a creepy, artistic issue, it’s very cool and it also raises the stakes moving forward. I’ve been eating up this series and really enjoying it and can’t wait for more, because anytime I see a House of Slaughter book or anything associated with it, I’m all in.

Justin:              I love these books, as well. This chapter or this arc has been a little bit hard to understand exactly what’s going on all the time, but I think the art’s great and I really like a lot of the moves. I just want it to really crystallize and I think we’re getting there, maybe next issue.

Alex:                 Last but not least, Lazarus: Risen #7 from Image Comic, written by Greg Rucka, art by Michael Lark. This is the final issue of this book, that I believe is nine months in the making, something like that.

Justin:              I think a full year, maybe.

Alex:                 It’s been a while. We do have one more mini series to go with the Lazarus books, but this is a huge one, if you’ve been picking it up, huge revelations, huge changes for the world of Lazarus. We find out, honestly, the origin of everything, why everything that has been going on has been going on here. So, even with the absence, it was so phenomenal to have this back.

Pete:                I think they made it a little bit of an easier jumping-on point, because it’s been so long. But man, love this issue, love the tension. The sipping of the coffee, getting the message as she keeps drinking, so intense, delivered on so many levels, and then that gut punch towards the end there. Oh man, this was an unbelievable issue, just love the tension, the art. This is just really impressive comics making here.

Alex:                 I just want to mention real quick, this is the seventh issue of, I want to say, the fourth or fifth mini series in the Lazarus series. This is not a good jumping-on point.

Pete:                You can just jump right in on this issue.

Justin:              Definitely not.

Pete:                You don’t need to read anything else, you can jump right in, we can pick right up, and pick everything that’s up.

Justin:              There’s literally too much. This series went, I believe, quarterly and took on a different format, and it’s still been a year to get it out. I want to say how hard it would be to actually write a message on the inside of a coffee cup. How would you do that? Would you have to have a marker that had a curve in it, an angle in it?

Alex:                 I think you have to print it, but also, you need to know how much the person is going to sip each time to go to a different line, so-

Pete:                Oh, you’ve got to practice the sipping. It’s a whole thing.

Justin:              But how do you practice someone else’s sip? Well, I guess it’s hot coffee, so you’re not going to take a gulp.

Alex:                 I do sometimes. I don’t know.

Justin:              You take a hot gulp?

Alex:                 I like a hot gulp, man.

Pete:                Or you could write the message on the clay and then make the tea cup.

Justin:              I don’t know if you know… You should rewatch Ghost, because I don’t know if you know how pottery works. That’s the best way to understand pottery is watching the movie Ghost, in my mind.

Alex:                 You told me to rewatch Ghost, since I don’t know how pottery works.

Justin:              I’ve been wanting to see that for a while. I’ve been wanting to see that for a while.

Alex:                 Pete makes all of his mugs in art class in elementary school and then he was like, “I’m good.”

Pete:                Fire up the kiln. Let’s get it going, bro.

Alex:                 He drinks all his coffee out of an ashtray.

Justin:              I want a made by Pete mug. Could we do this for the holiday party, which is something that [inaudible 01:15:59]?

Alex:                 You believe that, though? Obviously, I’m aging myself here, but the fact that, you guys probably have this in art class, too, they’re like, “Yeah, make an ashtray, everybody smokes.”

Justin:              I don’t know if I ever made it an astray, but I don’t know-

Alex:                 Oh, you’re too young. You’re too young.

Justin:              I didn’t do it. Honestly, I want to get on board with your old shit all the time, but this one, I don’t know. I love Lazarus, it’s one of my favorite series. The entire run, I’ve been a fan of. This is huge revelations. Michael Lark’s art is great. It’s a little more polished, in a way. I had to look back and make sure it was him, especially for the first bit of this book, so I was sort of surprised by that, but really great. They’re going to take a year off out of this, which is pretty wild, if you read the backmatter, to really get ahead and then release the book monthly, going back to its roots as just an Image Comic. So, it’ll go back to a more standard format and come out monthly sometime in the future. But this book is so thoughtfully made, from a writing and a drawing perspective, it’s very good.

Alex:                 The other thing, if you haven’t read it, it’s very anti-corporation and anti-corporate culture, and the fact that the ideas that are present here are still so valid and vital today, even though the book has been coming out for, I don’t know, five years, six years, maybe even-

Justin:              Longer, I think.

Alex:                 … a decade, something like that.

Justin:              Honestly, if you go back and read the backmatter that Greg Rucka has done for years, he predicts a ton of conglomeration and bad shit happening in our world. He even says in the back, “You want to know why this took so long? Sure, COVID was part of it, but the world has been stressing me the fuck out.”

Pete:                Wow. Oh man.

Alex:                 Great book. That is it for The Stack. If you’d like to support our-

Pete:                Oh, wait, are sure there isn’t any more-

Alex:                 We only have five board books.

Pete:                Oh, I was just saying.

Alex:                 If you’d like to support us, patreon.com/comicbookclub. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 PM though Crowdcast on 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, listen, and follow the show @comicbooklive on Twitter, comicbookclublive.com for this podcast and many more. Until next time, we’ll see you at the comic bookshop.

Pete:                I hate to break to you, Zal, but when you mess up the bowl, then they say to you, “Oh, you could just turn it into an ashtray.”

Alex:                 Oh no.

Justin:              Wow, slam. Pete, what time tomorrow, 8:45 tomorrow morning?

Pete:                Yep. That’s great.

Justin:              Wake up, kids awake.

Pete:                No, I got it.

Alex:                 The dick is. I’ll leave that out.

Justin:              Nah, leave it in.

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