EDITOR’S NOTE: I am but a spoiler…

So after sixty years of history, today I learned that The Phantom Stranger’s superpower is to be a treacherous douchebag. Plus, he’s wearing Jesus’s pants.

Look, while I don’t agree with the recent DC editorial decision to make The Phantom Stranger’s identity as Judas Iscariot unambiguous – particularly since after the last big DC reboot, they went out of their way to make sure that the Stranger’s origin was as mysterious as possible – I have to admit that, as origin stories go, it certainly is one.

The Phantom Stranger #0, written by Dan DiDio with art by Brent Anderson, doubles down on the Judas-as-Stranger story, showing us the Stranger’s origin right from the moment after Judas took a long walk off a short length of rope. And while it accomplishes a great deal in 20 pages, from showing us exactly who the Stranger is to where he got that funky cloak to how he ties into early DC continuity, it does it by mashing up disparate pieces of Judeo-Christian and Shazam-Marvellian mythologies, adds to both of them in ways never before intimated that we just have to take on faith, and with some ham-fisted writing (not story, actual writing) to boot.

Plus, it includes the exciting origin of Jesus’s pants.

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Phantom Stranger is something to be excited about as long as you don’t think about the title too much. Sure, it’s meant to elicit images of mystery and the occult… but unfortunately, it has that two-and-two syllable structure, which these days elicits something a little different. In 2012, it’s hard to say, “Phantom Stranger” without hearing things like, “Dirty Sanchez,” or “Cleveland Steamer,” or “Kryptonian Armpit Gank” (sure, that one doesn’t scan, but I never get tired of saying it).

But regardless of how it scans, Dan DiDio has sprayed a Phantom Stranger right into my fucking face, which means that this…

…means the end of our broadcast day.

But Phantom Stranger #0 is a strong indicator of an exciting week of new comics, which includes a bunch of DC New 52 anniversary Zero Issues, including Green ArrowGreen LanternAnimal ManSwamp ThingDetective Comics and Action Comics! Chuck on top of that a new Garth Ennis The Boys, an issue of the best of Before Watchmen – Silk Spectre #3 – and somehow… somehow… a new issue of Fashion Beast by Alan Moore from the 80s… and you’ve got yourself one uniquely exciting week of comic books.

But before we can review any of them, we need some time to read them. So give us some time to recover from the Phantom Stranger by The Boys and wipe the Green Arrow off our upper lip, and until that time…

See you tomorrow, suckers!

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Previously best known for shining an irritating spotlight directly into my hotel window during San Diego Comic-Con this year, NBC’s new sci-fi show, Revolution, is scheduled to air its Jon Favreau-directed pilot on September 17th. The show extrapolates what would happen if we lost electrical power, forever (my guess? I swill warm Jack Daniels while pitiably weeping before finding a bridge to jump from), and is widely expected to be a hit with genre fans who have been slavering for a program that will meet their desires for something that will kill time until The Walking Dead season three starts on October 14th.

But if you’ve been wondering if it’s worth the sectors on your TiVo hard drive, fear not: NBC has made the entire first episode available for early viewing online… and you can watch it in its advertising-driven goodness (I don’t edit them, I just rip the embed code and post them) after the jump. Call it a way to kill your lunch hour while waiting to get to the comic store after work.

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We’ve known for quite some time that Brian Michael Bendis’s run on the various Avengers titles was coming to an end, and it was recently announced that current Fantastic Four writer Jonathan Hickman was going to be taking over the two main titles, Avengers and The New Avengers. But one of the burning questions leading into the transfer of power has been: after the Avengers Vs. X-Men event shakes out and Hickman takes over, who’s gonna be on which team?

Well, some of those questions have been answered, as Marvel has released the first three covers to Avengers, written by Hickman with art by Jerome Opena, picturing a pretty big gathering of superheroes (and, as did Pinocchio, I question the correct term for a gathering of multiple superheroes. For today, I will eschew “gaggle” and “pride,” and will go with “wad.”):

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There will be no new comic news or reviews today, because this is our one-year anniversary here at Crisis On Infinite Midlives. And after 366 days (thank you, Leap Year!) with at least some form of new content every… single… day, well, we figure we deserve at least one day when anything we read, watch or hunt down related to comics? We want to do it just for fun.

It has been one hell of a fun year, going from a blank spot on the Internet inspired by some dingbat in a Batgirl costume who fucked up a couple of panels we went to at San Diego Comic-Con in 2011 to a kinda established spot for comic reviews, interesting news, Brain Bleach and dick jokes. We’re read some good comic books and some epically shitty ones, seen publishers hit triumphant highs and ridiculous lows, and covered one or two exciting events along the way. And we’ve done all of it either half-drunk or cripplingly hung over, so take that, big comics press.

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For the second time in as many days, I am opening a comic book and diving into a mythology I know absolutely nothing about. I’ve never seen the British TV show The Avengers, I never saw the movie with Ralph Fiennes and Sean Connery, and I never read the Grant Morrison Steed and Mrs. Peel miniseries from back in the 80s. All I know about the British Avengers is that it is about super spies in the 60s, and apparently Diana Rigg used to wear a leather catsuit that made men out of every straight male genre fan older than me who isn’t already dead. Which I can understand, but as a child of the 80s with access to Skinemax, I never felt the need hunt up reruns on PBS to dive in and see for myself.

So I can’t address whether or not Boom Studio’s Steed and Mrs. Peel, by writer Mark Waid and drawn by Steve Bryant, is true to the original TV series or the movie or some purely theoretical Stud and Mrs. Kneel porn parody or anything else. I can say that, having seen similar shows like The Prisoner and Department S (of all things), Waid and Bryant capture the general feel of British television shows from the 60s and 70s, including wildly optimistic visions of the future, cheapjack-looking “special effects”, and about 50 percent more Nehru jackets than a 21st century man should have to contemplate.

So it feels authentic enough… but is it any good? Well, that all depends on if you actually like that sort of thing.

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Captain America didn’t see *this* coming.

Ok, it’s Labor Day here in the States, which makes it a pretty slow news day. If you’re looking for the remotest chance of anything highbrow, perhaps you’d like to read some stories about how Jim Carrey has signed on to the Kick-Ass 2 movie (that’s it Jim; embrace the cartoon character that you are); how Mark Millar and others are working to rid the Internetz of an online bully; or how robots ruined the live streaming from the Hugo Awards. But, if you’re more like me and spent the day nursing a hangover because you spent the night before finally watching the G4 coverage of Comic-Con, pausing to take a shot of Jack Daniels every time Candace Bailey or Sara Underwood said something stupid (which was…every time they said something…whatever G4 paid John Barrowman to help out this year, it wasn’t enough), then you’re looking for something low brow and distracting. Fortunately, Bleeding Cool has you covered. Behold, The Avengers Burlesque:

Hotsy-Totsy have a history of producing eccentric geek-centric burlesque tributes, most recently creating a Game of Thrones and Mad Men show, as well as an upcoming Doctor Who Parody…To further stake their clam in the land of nerd, overheard backstage were some of the burlesque dancers discussing the merits of seaQuest DSV versus seaQuest 2032.

Check out a trailer for the show, after the jump.

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(Ed. NoteThis review will be spoily woily, which is like timey wimey or explodey wodey or whatever, but with more spoilers. Starting pretty much immediately. You’ve been warned.)

Last night was the premiere of Doctor Who season 7. Last night was also the night I discovered that Layer Cake Wines makes an excellent, if powerful, Grenache that will knock you on your ass and make it very difficult to post a review in real time, let alone live tweet it. This is probably just as well, given the number of folks I saw in my Twitter stream threatening to do awful things to those who might post any hint of spoilers that might ruin their own personal viewing experience when they get around to finally watching it themselves, in their own good time. For example:

But, it’s a whole new day and I’m sober. Therefore, I feel I should dispense with the niceties and warn everyone up front that last night we learned that The Doctor regenerates and comes back as Raptor Jesus. Also, the Ponds discover they can assemble themselves into Voltron. Oh, and The Doctor’s new companion is a Dalek.

One of these things may or may not be true.

Read the rest of my actual review, after the jump!

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I’m gonna have to start out this review by admitting that I haven never read Joe Hill’s and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key series, which is a point of shame for a serious comics fan… particularly one who’s read and enjoyed Hill’s novels Horns and Heart Shaped Box… and before you start: yes, I can read books without pictures, smartass. I simply generally choose not to, which means that Hill’s novels must be pretty fucking good for me to break that habit. Either that, or I didn’t feel comfortable waiting for job interviews with a big Howard Chaykin trade paperback. But I’m getting off point here.

The point is that I knew nothing about Locke & Key other than its good reputation when I picked up the Locke & Key: Grindhouse one shot. I imagined that there were probably locks and keys involved, but whether they were of the door or the canal transit and-Florida-homosexual-mecca varieties, I had no fucking idea. And for all I know, the original story arcs are about either, both or all of those things. But this story is a period piece about criminals on the lam with nothing to lose, which is an effective and engaging throwback to EC Comics horror and crime stories from the 50s. And it’s really pretty damn cool.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This review is based on a review copy of Pinocchio: Of Wood and Blood Part 2 provided free of charge to Crisis On Infinite Midlives by pubisher Slave Labor Graphics and writer Van Jensen.

Pinocchio is a bad motherfucker.

Pinocchio: Of Wood and Blood is the concluding chapter of Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer, which Amanda and I came across completely by accident at San Diego Comic-Con in 2011 at the Slave Labor Graphics booth. We picked it up based purely on the title – how can you not give a book named Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer a try? If we’d seen a book titled Cinderella: Street Vigilante we’d have bought that too – and were delighted to find an action-packed, funny story about Pinocchio and his puppet crew hunting down vampires by telling lies (think along the lines of, “I will take no joy in staking your dead ass and dragging it screaming into the daylight”), which grows his nose and gives him a handy, on-demand wooden stake for bringing the stabby.

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