Some weeks, you don’t record a podcast when you’re ready. You record when you’re awake.

Rob had a long weekend of late nights being on call for his day gig, leading to a slim, two-hour window where he’d had enough coffee to be able to say something longer than his own name, yet not enough liquor to actively slur those things. And this strange state put him in a mood to rant. About the golden days of Marvel after the bankruptcy and before Civil War, when they were willing to take chances. About acceptable Mark Millar stories. About how Batman’s most driving personality trait might be hoarding. And, God help us, how there might be redeeming qualities to Secret Empire.

So strap in: this is a weird one, and we talk about all of those things, plus:

  • Old Man Logan #25, written by Ed Brisson with art by Mike Deodato, Jr.,
  • Secret Empire #4, written by Nick Spencer with art by Leinil Francis Yu,
  • Dark Days: The Forge #1, written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with art by Jim Lee, Andy Kubert and John Romita Jr., and:
  • The Defenders #1, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by David Marquez!

Ah, we have disclaimers:

  • This show contains spoilers. If you don’t want to know Captain America’s political affiliation on Secret Empire, well, you’re not alone, but you have also been warned.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. We talk about Batman being a Howard Hughes style hoarder. That involves Mason Jars. You want your mom to know what’s in those jars? Then get some earbuds.

Thanks for listening, suckers!

doctor_who_christmas_special_2015While we originally planned to list our 2015 Crises awards for the best and worst of the year this week, we were stymied by a combination of holiday travel for Rob, and a crippling cold (and cold medicine high) by Amanda.

So after spending some time talking about what we got for Christmas, and best Christmas memories from childhood (spoiler: none of Amanda’s childhood memories are anything but heartbreaking and hilarious), we talk about the Doctor Who Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song. We talk about the episode’s weird mix of farce and heartstring plucking, how it might mean some solid writing on showrunner Steven Moffat’s part to tie River’s character closely to her first appearance, and how it paints the Doctor as a remorseless and opportunistic genocidal monster. Really.

We also discuss:

  • DK III #2, written by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello, with pencils by Andy Kubert and inks by Klaus Janson,
  • Teen Titans #15, written by Scott Lobdell and Will Pfeifer with art by Ian Churchill and Miguel Mendonca, and:
  • Darth Vader #14, written by Kieron Gillen with art by Salvador Larroca!

And, the usual disclaimers:

  • We record this show live to tape, with minimal editing. While this might mean a looser comics podcast than you are used to, it also means that anything can happen. Like the tragic tale of a girl, pseudoephedrine and a busted Etch-A-Sketch.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out warnings ahead of time, just assume that we will explain, in detail, why The Doctor is history’s greatest monster.
  • This show contains adult, profane language and is therefore not safe for work. You want your employer to know what it means when things go “testacularly”? Then get some headphones.

Thanks for listening, suckers!

tmp_damian_son_of_batman_1_cover_20131224441896Editor’s Note: Don’t overlook anything. Spoilers will be hard to find in this amount of carnage.

I don’t think I’ve made it a secret over the years that I was never a fan of Damian Wayne. He was a mouthy douchebag who was designed to irritate, and usually delivered. He was a ten-year-old in all the worst senses of the word: impulsive, opinionated for no good reason, and often disrespectful to his family… and any person with the unmitigated gall to be disrespectful of The Goddamned Batman? He and I can never be friends. So I didn’t shed too many tears when his creator, Grant Morrison, had him whacked a few months ago.

The thing is that Damian was that much of an irritant as a ten (or so) year old, and everyone knows if you want someone truly insufferable, you need yourself a teenager. That’s when kids take their original irritating personalities and add moodiness, mopeyness and just general emo. They start listening to Joy Division (or whatever the 21 Century version of Joy Division is; I’m old and picked all my bands years ago. Do kids go through a Doors phase anymore? Or are they truly fucking hopeless and deserving of being written off? No, I don’t have children, why do you ask?), and they cut their hair all funny and they yell stuff like, “You’re not my real dad!” and “No I won’t get in your fucking van!” and “Who the fuck are The Doors?”

But Damian was safely killed before he could hit those difficult years… which clearly disappointed writer / artist Andy Kubert, because in his new book Damian: Son of Batman, he gives us not only a teenaged Damian, but one with a marked lack of adult supervision. And while that story is generally beautifully illustrated, it is also a little exposition heavy where it’s not needed, exposition light where it really is needed, and retracts an important plot conceit almost as soon as it’s introduced.

The problem we’ve run into a few times in the Before Watchmen books, and which I think we’re destined to keep running into and being annoyed by, are changes in character and established plot from the original Watchmen story. It’s been popping up since the first issue of Darwyn Cooke’s Minutemen, where we saw professional wrestler and noose enthusiast Hooded Justice suddenly able to disappear into shadows like the ghost of Bruce Lee. The worst offender (so far) has been Brian Azzarello’s Comedian, where Azzarello apparently decided that when Alan Moore wrote that Eddie Blake was working with Nixon in Dallas during the Kennedy assassination, what he really meant was that Blake was off somewhere fighting Moloch and whimpering over the shooting like a woman or some common hippie.

J. Michael Straczynski’s Nite Owl isn’t the worst offender in this vein – frankly, it would probably take seeing Rorschach gathering intel to take down Big Figure by going undercover at a glory hole outside a Chippendale’s to beat seeing The Comedian get all weepy over a millionaire Boston liberal – but JMS makes a fundamental mistake in Rorschach’s characterization that conflicted completely with Moore’s original work, and which popped me right out of the story. But we’ll get to that in a minute. Because despite that fundamental flaw that will be glaring to any hardcore fan of Moore’s original, there’s actually a lot to like about this comic book.

A hair late on this news, but DC Comics has announced the release dates for the first four issues of Before Watchmen. Minutemen by Darwyn Cooke, Silk Spectre by Cooke and Amanda Connor, Comedian by Brian Azzarello and J. G. Jones, and Nite Owl by J. Michael Straczynski, Joe Kubert and Andy Kubert will all drop on June 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th respectively… although if DC really wanted to announce that kind of decisive action, they should have gotten Dan DiDio to stand in front of a bank of flat-screens and say, “I released them thirty-five minutes ago.”

The books will be $3.99 a pop, or $4.99 for the digital combo pack if you want your childhood… shall we say affected… on your tablet, phone or computer. You can see the covers to these first four issues after the jump.

Well, it’s official: DC’s putting aside the wishes of Alan Moore and their own long-time policy, and they’re putting out a prequel to Watchmen sometime this summer… either because they want to give some high-toned creators a chance to play in a legendary playground… or possibly because it would be unseemly to send Dan DiDio to stand outside the DC offices jingling change in a styrofoam coffee cup.

The story, called Before Watchmen as a whole, is gonna be released in seven different titles on a weekly basis, by some of the bigger names in comics today, and all with a backup pirate comics story called Curse of The Crimson Corsair, written by original series editor Len Wein and original series colorist John Higgins… which ties this new series to the original on a creator basis, but in a way similar to casting Die Hard 5 starring Reginald VelJohnson and that weasel who played Ellis.

So what are the books, and who’s doing them? Glad you asked:

Yesterday Marvel announced that their big crossover event for 2012 will be: Civil War! Wait – I mean: Avengers Vs. X-Men!

In a streaming press conference with Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso, SVP of Publishing Tom Brevoort, Senior Editor Nick Lowe, and Marvel’s Architect writers Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker and Jonathan Hickman, they gave the gist of what we’re in store for: about 300 clams to read the whole story! Wait, that’s not right

…the seeds for this story have been growing for a while. When [the 2007 X-Men event] “Messiah CompleX” introduced the so-called “Mutant Messiah,” a little girl with green eyes and red hair named Hope, it raised the obvious question, “Who is she?” and, of course, the specter of the Phoenix.

So if I had to hazard a guess, the Phoenix Force is returning to Earth, probably to infect the little girl who looks just like Jean Grey, if Jean Grey were redrawn by commission for loathsome perverts. The X-Men will want to protect their messiah, The Avengers will want to stop a potential extinction-level threat to Earth, stuff will explode, and dudes will get kicked.