Editor’s Note: My name is Spoiler, for we are many.

I’ve said a few times recently that the number of comic titles I was buying back in the early to mid-90s totalled about three or four, with most of them being Vertigo books. There was some reasons for that, one of them being that I was stone broke, and where the rubber hits the road, you can’t go out, drink a comic book and try to get laid.

But the primary reason was that, in the immediate post-Image Comics era, a lot of comics were simply and truly hammered shit. And they were crap for a lot of reasons, but most of them boiled down to the simultaneous rises of the Age of The Artist-Driven Comic, and the Swelling of The Speculator Who Didn’t Give A Shit About Comics Beyond Using Them To Pay For Little Austin’s College Education. So as far as I was concerned, I was seeing a fuckton of books with heavily-stylized covers, new publisher names I’d never heard of, a big ol’ “First Issue! Collector’s Item!” splashed in chromium… and, having read a bunch of these books before tuning out, no story inside whatsoever.

The point is that, when Shadowman debuted back in 1992, I had already begun my early 20s snobbish migration away from stylized superhero comics, and probably turned up my nose at it. Throw on top of that that I didn’t ever have the money for a videogame console until the first XBox came out, it means that I never played the Shadowman videogames by Acclaim, the company that bought Valiant to mine their intellectual properties for games and promptly ran the comics division into the ground. So I have no background whatsoever in the character of Shadowman.

This is kind of a problem when it comes to reading Shadowman #1

As you are more than likely aware, there was an election for the Presidency of The United States last night, which means that we at Crisis On Infinite Midlives put down our comic books for a single evening, turned on our television, flipped back and forth between whichever channel was most likely to be displaying inordinate amounts of results-driven hysteria for the current maximum entertainment value (basically we started with Rachel Maddow screeching about hacked voting machines, and switched to Karl Rove apparently sending Megyn Kelly down to the poll office for a slice of pizza), and then waited around to hear if one guy or another called uncle. That took until about 1 a.m., which means that we are exhausted.

Combine those circumstances with the first Boston snowstorm of the year and the fact that it is Wednesday, and it means that this…

 

…means the end of our broadcast day.

However, befitting an election week, we have a comics week of new beginnings and ending. Including the first Kieron Gillen / Greg Land  Iron Man #1, Brian Posehn’s Deadpool #1, Justin Jordan’s Shadowman #1 for Valiant Comics… as well as the lamented final twelfth issue of Matt Fraction’s Defenders.

But you know the drill: before we can review any of them, we need time to sleep off the electoral (read: Jack Daniels) hangover, as well as time to read them. So until that time…

…see you tomorrow, suckers!

It takes a bold man to introduce any form of pathos to The Tick, a character that two generations of comic readers automatically associate with the battle cry of “Spoon!” or perhaps with being trapped in a dinosaur’s wild moustache hair.

The concept of introducing any kind of sorrow to a character who has battled a man-eating cow and a dude with a chair for a face takes a lot of balls, because if you do it wrong, you’re running the risk of seriously fucking up a character that has worked for a quarter century on a very simple level: be a goofy, naive superhero parody who says silly shit while battling ridiculous villains with his fat, incompetent sidekick. Get your giggles, get out, and hope that some kind television suit forgets that underrated live action TV show so The Tick gets another chance on television somewhere.

The Tick #101 opens with Arthur having been killed. The issue deals, in large part, with how The Tick deals with that loss. And we get emotional internal monologue of how the loss affects The Tick, including how, without Arthur or someone to help guide him, he is simply muscle pointed in no particular direction. These are issues and character points that could go wrong on a light-hearted character like The Tick in a real fucking hurry; watching The Tick contemplate mortality and is own shortcomings could very quickly go the way of watching Honey Boo Boo try to redefine Pi while her mother’s held at gunpoint: morbidly entertaining, but out of place and uncomfortable if done incorrectly.

Well, not to worry, because writer Benito Cerino strikes one hell of a balance between addressing the relationship between The Tick and Arthur, while still commenting on the innate ephemeral nature of any superhero’s death in comics these days, and chucking in plenty of jokes about mimes. Douchebag, douchebag mimes. And he uses the guest appearance of Mike Allred’s Madman as a catalyst to get into the more emotional, touching elements of the story, while never forgetting that this is a Tick story, which means that we get plenty of bombastic catchphrases and liberal use of words like “dink.”

Yeah, we fixed it (sort of; give us some more time)… and just in time. Because after a week of writer Joe Hill hinting coyly about it on his Twitter feed, it has just become official: Universal Pictures has optioned Hill’s and artist Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key comic for development as a movie.

The comic was developed as a television pilot a year or so ago for Fox, who decided not to pick up a series order (although if I recall correctly, the pilot, starring Nick Stahl from Carnivale and Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines was screened to good reaction at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con… which I missed, due to a prior commitment to an alcoholic blackout). It is now under development by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who wrote the 2009 Star Trek reboot (Yay!), as well as the first Michael Bay Transformers movie (Boo!), with an eye toward turning it into a possible trilogy.

We are experiencing some unexpected technical difficulties this evening; I suppose this is what one gets when he drunkenly tries to write about a new superhero he invented on the toilet named “DROP TABLE”.

So please bear with us while we try to fix the issue. In the meantime, you can take this opportunity to start digging through couch cushions and in the lint trap for nickels and dimes. You’ll need them to start your complete collection of the upcoming Justice League of America. Because if you want to be able to tell the regulars at the comic store that you have the whole run, you’ll need to get the variant covers for the upcoming first issue.

All 52 of them.

Yup, it’s one issue for every state in America, plus an extra couple for the territories that we keep kicking around. Which means that if you want them all, it would cost you around, oh, $200 or $300 bucks. Assuming you can get them at face value.

Yeah, we’re gonna pass. We can use that money to hire a database guy.

Thanks for your patience.

Busy day here at the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office… much if it involved with trying to figure out what the hell time it is (we don’t handle time changes well here, particularly not on a day coming after a day we started drinking at about 1:30 p.m.). 

But the big news of the week continues to be the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney, and the ramification of that purchase, including the announced new movie for 2015. It was actually the topic of conversation amongst the regulars at the bar yesterday (here’s a hint: if you’re looking for a new local bar to talk comics and genre stuff, find one where the head bartender has a Rebel Alliance logo tattoo), and whether or not the movie would follow any of the comics or novels that have come up since the early 90s.

Well, the announcement has been made that, whatever the movie is gonna be, it won’t be based on any existing released stories… but whatever it is, it might have been percolating for a while. And here’s some evidence: an interview between Mark Hamill and Maria Shriver from 1983, before the release of Return of The Jedi, where Hamill freely talks about a third trilogy… and that he might be back for the final, at-the-time theoretical ninth movie, “sometime in 2004.” Proving that Mark Hamill has no better sense of time than we do.

Then again, he might have just been addled and contact-intoxicated by the volume of mousse in Maria Shriver’s hair.

If you have any questions about the kind of story you’re about to read when you open up the first issue of Lot 13, written by Steve Niles and drawn by Glenn Fabry (in a rare turn on interior art), you’ll get an inkling once you see the first panel after the prologue, which features a helicopter shot of a vehicle being used by a family in the process of moving. And you’ll damn well know what kind of story it is when you see that family enter a mysterious, empty hotel. Cue ominous synth music. Press the button to summon the blood elevator. All work and no play make Jack yell here’s Johnny! Slow zoom to an old-timey television showing oh God that’s Steve Niles walking with Nicholson through the hedge maze – smash cut to black. Fin.

So yes: this comic book is – shall we say an homage – to Kubrick’s The Shining. If it wore its influences any more obviously on its sleeve, it would come packed in a “REDRUM” polybag. But that isn’t inherently a bad thing; after all, The Shining itself is an homage to The Haunting of Hill House and that turned out okay except for Danny Lloyd’s career. What matters in any haunted house story – and to be fair, it’s too early to tell if the hotel will be the primary setting, or if things will move sometime in the next four issues – is whether or not you care about the characters and their predicament. After all, what made The Shining so effective was watching Jack struggle against the power of the hotel, while if, say, Justin Bieber walked into the Overlook Hotel, I’d roll a Molotov Cocktail in after him, bar the door and pop some corn.

So that’s the overriding question: does Niles do a good enough job making characters that inspire enough emotion to do the heavy lifting to make readers forget that they’re a pair of twins and a phantom bartender away from conversing with their finger? Well, kinda… in the sense that while I found I really didn’t give much of a fuck one way or the other about four of the characters, at least one of them engaged me enough to make me want to kill them with an axe.

Hey, everyone! Marvel knows some more mysterious single words! And so do I: “Overload!”

Marvel is back to releasing one-word teaser images to hype upcoming books in the Marvel Now initiative to release a ton of new first issues over the next several months (but it’s not a reboot! Marvel doesn’t reboot! A reboot is something that happens all at once! Whereas Marvel will boot you repeatedly over the course of weeks!), and this one is just as baffling as some of the other, more recent ones…

What. The. Hell.

Superman: Earth One, Volume One, when it was released in October, 2010, was a damn exciting development in Superman’s history, albeit alternative history. It was the first modern reimagining of Superman’s origin since John Byrne’s The Man of Steel in post-Crisis 1986, and it was the first version to posit Clark Kent as a somewhat modern 20-something – a modern 20-something circa about 1996, but still, better than a young man fresh out of college in a pristine blue suit, dress fedora and no stench of alcohol. Sure, it had some story issues – for example, if I could somehow finagle an interview for a job for which I was, on paper, grossly unqualified, and I then said I wanted to fuck around with their infrastructure, I would be less likely to be offered six figures than 60,000 volts from a stun gun – but I generally found it to be a refreshing take on Superman’s origin, especially considering that the alternate universe conceit allowed writer J. Michael Straczynski to be bold with things without needing to come up with some outlandish, what-if-Superman-landed-on-a-cocaine-farm Elseworlds scenario to tell it. It was a recognizable Superman story, non-beholden to continuity, and thus it felt fresh.

That, however, was two years ago. Superman: Earth One, Volume Two was released yesterday, and between the two volumes was a small event in the DC Universe called the New 52 Reboot. Which means that, for good or ill, Straczynski’s alternate universe early Superman stories are no longer going to be automatically compared to a miniseries written when newspapers were viable, homeland security involved a deadbolt and a shotgun, and “blog” was a regional reference to a particular consistency of bowel movement.

So the question here not only is whether or not Superman: Earth One, Volume Two is a good story and worth the 23-buck cover price, but how well it holds up now that it’s presenting itself as an alternative to an in-continuity Superman with an origin that’s more modern than the one presented in Volume One. And the answer? Well, like the first volume, it presents a pretty entertaining and generally emotionally engaging story, with a bunch of logical problems and character choices that seem to be made more based on convenience than realism… but it is definitely affected not only by comparison with the recent DC reboot of Superman, but with some older, near-classic comics that tackle similar themes.

However, Straczynski clearly knows that he is writing a comic for the Internet age, because there is also a cute kitty and underboob shots. So it’s got that going for it.

Today has been a strange day. First of all, it’s Halloween, which means I’ve spent a large part of the day resisting the urge to go door-to-door in a clown costume and pretend that the courts have ordered me to introduce myself as a sex offender, if only to make the exchange of candy all the more awkward and horrific. Second, with yesterday’s announcement of the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm and a new Star Wars movie in the works, it’s decidedly difficult to put aside the excitement and trepidation behind that announcement and focus on comics. And finally, it’s a couple of days after Hurricane Sandy hit the Boston area, and while we have our Internet service restored here at the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office and are therefore, for all intents and purposes, back to pre-storm normal, the heart of the comics industry in New York is certainly not, which gives our personal triumph of speedy electronic pornography delivery a decidedly bittersweet tang.

But strange day or not, it is Wednesday. And even though the storm delayed the delivery of new comics until 2 p.m. today to my local comic store, where they know me by name and ask me to stop offering to show the paying customers my high-pressure microbursts, the new comics were delivered. Which means that this…

…means the end of our broadcast day.

But while it might be a weird day, it’s a good day for new comics. There’s Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s second issue of Happy, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s new issue of Hit-Girl, a new Ultimate Spider-Man, the first issue of Marvel’s A+X, Ed Brubaker’s and Sean Phillips’s new Fatale, and perhaps most prominently, J. Michael Straczynski’s and Shane Davis’s original graphic novel Superman: Earth One, Volume Two.

But before we have time to write about them, we need time to read them. And we have the time, since being on the northern end of the brunt of Sandy, I only had to deal with the harsh reality of about 36 hours of being forced to jack off using only my imagination. A lot of people in New York and New Jersey are being forced to jack off to the memories of when their comic collections weren’t six feet under water, seven miles away. So if you have a minute and a few bucks, please consider texting the word “redcross” to 90999; it’ll show up as an extra ten bucks on your cell phone bill next month, which is when Grandma starts sending you your Christmas money anyway.

However, considering we already done done it, it means we can focus on the new books. So until we do…

…see you tomorrow, suckers!