avengers_age_of_ultron_movie_logo_1301720927We are at peak Avengers: Age of Ultron backlash. The flick hasn’t been reviewed with nearly the nerd boner that the first Avengers movie got… and on some level, I agree. The first Avengers was better. That doesn’t automatically make AoU bad, but I can see how it would disappoint some people. You know, people who didn’t live through a time when, across a three-year span of time, the only comic book movie we got was Howard the Duck.

But the backlash has strengthened, for some, into legitimate anger. Consider this 4,200 word complaint that AoU is a failure on almost every level that one would want in a “popcorn movie.” Sady Doyle, the author, says she likes popcorn movies – big ‘splosions, giant robots, “pure, overwhelming spectacle.” She says she likes ’em big and dumb, kids. So then we’ll be on her side as she tears the flick apart, piece by piece, as useless.

She’s wrong, of course. Let’s figure out why! And I got my own 4,000 words to do it, so buckle up!

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avengers_age_of_ultron_movie_logo_1301720927Let’s not pussyfoot around: the only thing any superhero comics fan is talking about this weekend is Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was released in the United States this past week. And we have seen it more than once, so we are ready to discuss it… but this week, we are not alone. We are joined by Boston comedian Tim McIntire, and New York comedian Benari Poulten – old friends and fellow Travelers in The Way of The Longbox – to tear the thing apart.

We discuss the things we liked about Age of Ultron, the things we thought could have used some work, and some of the specific character work done in the flick. We also talk about whether Black Widow really loved Bruce Banner (or whether she was simply continuing her mission, as an expert liar and manipulator, to keep Hulk on the team), how crazy Scarlet Witch might actually be, where Ultron stands in the ranks of Marvel movie villains, and why the end of the movie stands with the traditions of The Avengers in the comics (when it comes to rotating memberships and heroes that might not exactly meet the definition of “World’s Mightiest”) throughout the years.

We also peel off on a tangent as to whether Man of Steel deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as even Thor or The Incredible Hulk. Or in the same breath as The Trial of The Incredible Hulk. Suffice it to say that that this show is a load of contentious, hysterical fun.

And here, now, on a day unlike any other, come the disclaimers:

  • We record this show live to tape. While this might mean a looser comics podcast than you are used to, it also means that anything can happen. Like a discussion about the sexual history of Captain America.
  • This show contains spoilers. Frankly, we spoil just about all of Age of Ultron. So if you haven’t seen the movie, go do that right now. And then listen to this podcast.
  • This show contain adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. If you don’t want your employer to hear about how Vibranium can apparently cure particular infestations, get yourself some headphones.
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Enjoy the show, suckers!

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walking_dead_dead_insideIt’s been a packed week here at the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office. We spent a lot of time watching, and rewatching, and re-rewatching the new trailer for Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and, like all good comic book enthusiasts, we spend a bunch of time dissecting what we saw, speculating on what we didn’t see, and ghostwriting what we’d like to see.

In addition, since we finally had our cable and Internet back online long enough for the Home Office TiVo to get the episodes of The Walking Dead that we missed, we binge-watched it and discussed what we liked, what we didn’t like, subtlety versus heavy-handedness, plot versus theme, and why it is more likely that AMC would kill Robert Kirkman this season than it is they would Daryl Dixon.

We also talk about:

  • All-New Hawkeye#1, written by Jeff Lemire with art by Ramon Perez, and:
  • Guardians Team Up #1, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Art Adams!

And now the disclaimers:

  • We record this show live to tape. While this might mean a looser comics podcast than you are used to, it also means that anything can happen. Like an argument over whether The Walking Dead is in dire need of a musical episode.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out warnings ahead of time, be aware that we might ruin everything from the ending to last week’s The Walking Dead to the fact that Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to be rated PG-13.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. You want your Mom to hear what we think about “sweet biscuits”? Get some headphones.
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Enjoy the show, suckers!

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avengers_age_of_ultron_movie_logo_1301720927In case you didn’t notice, this week was all about Marvel Studios. They released the extended trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron on Monday, and Tuesday they announced their Phase Three slate of movies to be released between 2016 and 2019, including Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Avengers: Infinity War.

So we talk about those things, along with a brief rundown of some of the news coming out of this weekend’s Rhode Island Comic Con (That news being that it was impossible to get in… less in the “I can’t get tickets!” way than in the “I have VIP passes and you’re telling me I can’t enter the building?” way), and an analysis of the greatest living threat to your comic collection: unsupervised little brothers.

And on the actual printed comics front, we talk about:

  • Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #3, written by Kyle Higgins with pencils by Jonathan Marks,
  • Death of Wolverine: Deadpool and Captain America #1, written by Gerry Duggan with pencils by Scott Kolins, and:
  • Thunderbolts #32, written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker with art by Kim Jacinto!

And here be disclaimers:

  • This show is recorded live to tape. While it might lead to a looser comics podcast than you are normally accustomed to, it also means that anything can happen. Like trying to cast Benedict Cumberbatch as Squirrel Girl.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out warnings ahead of time, be aware of it before going in.
  • Amanda and I use adult, profane language, and therefore this show is not safe for work. You want your boss to hear a conversation about whether the final shot of an adult video is better shot in 24 frames per second or 60 frames per second any why? Didn’t think so. Get some headphones.
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Enjoy the show, suckers!

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avengers_age_of_ultron_movie_logo_1301720927Not gonna lie to you, we have a busy day today: I need to run a few errands before heading to the day job, and this evening will be spent preparing and drilling for our multi-pronged assault on the Internet to navigate the San Diego Comic-Con preregistration process tomorrow morning – there are multiple locations, redundant IP addresses, and multi-faceted communications involved, because we don’t like to screw around – so I don’t have a lot of time today, but I did see this one little tidbit that I wanted to share.

Apparently Paul Bettany, who is the dude who does the voice of JARVIS in the Avengers and Iron Man movies, has been cast as an actual walking, talking, physical presence in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Notice I didn’t say he was cast as a person. Because he hasn’t. He’s been cast as The Vision.

Actually, wait – I didn’t mean to imply that an android can’t be a person. I don’t want to be offensive to robosexuals. If “robosexuals” is, in fact, what you want to be called; this isn’t addressed in the Associated Press Style Guide. I’m sure your love for the RealDoll is as pure and innocent as the driven snow. Or as filthy and kinky as between any two perverted humans. I don’t want to offend anybody. I’m just trying to talk about Paul Bettany as The Vision.

So yeah, let me do that.

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avengers_age_of_ultron_movie_logo_1301720927There’s been a lot of news about Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man recently (including the recent revelation that, in the face of the delay of Batman Vs. Superman until 2016, Ant-Man’s release has been moved up two weeks to take Batman Vs. Superman’s original July 17, 2015 date), to the point where it might be easy to forget that, about two months before that movie’s release, we’ll be getting Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Which means that Age of Ultron is firmly into pre-production, and director Joss Whedon is beginning to talk about what we can expect in the movie. Not in the sense of any actual spoiled plot points or anything – Whedon is a professional, after all, and even rank amateurs know better than to say something that would set Kevin Feige gnawing on their doorknobs and hissing for revenge – but more in the sense of story and plot structure and inspiration.

But Whedon, being no fool, explained his general inspirations to a French publication, probably knowing that they would roll over and surrender the instant Avi Arad hurled himself out of a tree at them, screeching like a rabid were-wombat.

Which, honestly, would be overkill in this case. Because Whedon’s great revelation is that he’s modeling Avengers: Age of Ultron after another classic sequel.

No, not The Empire Strikes Back; Whedon hates that (maybe there’s a little rank amateur still left in the man). I’m talking The Godfather: Part 2.

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mighty_avengers_1_cover-468210056Editor’s Note: This story contains spoilers for upcoming issues of Mighty Avengers. So if you’re digging the mysteries that were presented in the first issue last month, please feel free to pretend that we are still upgrading our Web server, and that I am still shrieking impotently at our Web caching software, which apparently only accepts upgrading when it is convinced that you are who you say you are, and that game four of the World Series is safely past the third inning.

We really enjoyed the first issue of Mighty Avengers, written by Al Ewing with art by Greg Land. It was, unlike many recent Avengers titles, a more human, character-based story, with an interesting mystery at the code: who is the “muscular” and “intense” dude who has a history with Monica Rambeau and wears, at least for now, a rotten “Spider Hero” costume into battle?

There was a lot of speculation that it might turn out to be Miles Morales behind that mask, giving that character a place to go if the upcoming Ultimate Universe Cataclysm event does, as it appears it will, fuck all that Universe’s holes and leave it for dead. But regardless, it was meant to be a fun little guessing game for a few months before Ewing pulled back the curtain sometime in the next few issues.

Yeah, I said that it was “meant to” be a mystery. Past tense. Because Marvel went and gave the whole thing away.

Another Editor’s Note: Spoilers will follow after the jump. Last chance to bail, turn on the TV and watch the Red Sox show St. Louis how we do things in Boston…

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tmp_avengers_assemble_20_cover_20131359336571Avengers Assemble #20 does a lot in 20 pages. First of all, it’s a rare one-and-done, which is refreshing in the middle of the Infinity event that has been going on for a couple of months but which sometimes makes me feel like we have always been at war with The Builders. Second, it gives a spotlight to Wonder Man, Wasp and Scarlet Witch, who have been inveterate second stringers recently (when one character has become a pacifist and another who just about a  year ago was valiantly fighting to remain dead. Third, it gives us a taste of what we can expect from the Great Terrigen Mist Release of 2013 (the fact that what we can expect is a bunch of people with new superpowers all reliving the first season of Heroes is beside the point). And finally, it wraps all of this in a relatable story about side characters who were damaged long before they were affected by the Terrigen Mist.

But this is not a perfect story. In order to fit everything into a single issue, writer Al Ewing has Wasp make a couple of quick and significant leaps in logic to get the story from Point A to Point B. Further, in order to balance Wonder Man’s out-front and obvious pacifism, Ewing contrasts it with a child gleefully stomping bad guys to death.

So there’s a lot here, some of which works and some of which doesn’t. But is does it work as a coherent whole?

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avengers_endless_wartime_coverAvengers: Endless Wartime, the new original graphic novel written by Warren Ellis with art by Mike McKone, is, for all intents and purposes, an effective sequel or side tale about The Avengers from the Joss Whedon movie. It is a sequel to The Avengers that, unlike Marvel Studios, has no rights issues or special effects budget constraints to deal with, and therefore can include fan favorite characters, like Wolverine and Captain Marvel, that the movies can’t. And it is a sequel that is printed on really shitty paper.

Seriously: I got my copy shrinkwrapped and therefore never opened before I got it back to the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office, and the pages in the front and back third of the book were wrinkled to hell and back. And on top of that, a couple of panels had printing errors that smudged the shit out of the lettering. It’s not the worst thing in the world – it doesn’t make the book unreadable or anything, and I lost all my resale value, defects or not, the minute I stripped the shrink wrap to read the thing – but when you’re dropping $25 clams on a piece of shelf porn, you expect the thing to be printed at least as well as it would have been had it been broken into a six-issue miniseries. Your mileage may vary, and God knows you won’t spend the full $25 if you buy the thing off of Amazon or something, but I bought it at my local comic store, where they know me by name and ask me to stop threatening to demand $25 if they don’t let me strip off my shrink wrap for a close inspection.

But let’s forget about the printing issues and go back to the story, which takes place pretty much outside of current Avengers continuity, includes all the players from the Avengers movie – and they are far more recognizable as the characters from the movies than they are most modern versions of the characters in the comics –  and has the global scale of a major motion picture. And while it feels like there are a couple of stories jammed together that make things a little confusing now and again, it’s packed with familiar character notes, catchphrases, and Warren Ellis dialogue. Dialogue that would jeopardize a PG-13 rating if it actually was a movie.

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avengers_age_of_ultron_movie_logo_1301720927While we did attend this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, we were not able to attend the big Marvel Studios Hall H panel that hyped Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and, most prominently, Avengers: Age of Ultron. We weren’t able to get in for a variety of reasons, the most important being that we didn’t even try. Seriously: have you seen the line to get into the Big Room for the past several years? It looks like the aftermath of one of the battles from Kingdom Come, only with a significantly higher body fat percentage. It’s easier to break into the comic industry proper than it is to get into Hall H, for Christ’s sake.

So despite being among the lucky few to even be at the convention, we were not amongst the few thousand hardy (and sweaty. And exhausted.) few who saw Joss Whedon introduce the first teaser reel for Avengers: Age of Ultron. And for two months, I have consoled myself by trying to remember that, while those people were watching that video, I had access to unclogged toilets and food that had a surprisingly small amount of cheez dust.

Well, to hell with that small consolation. Because that video has finally made its way to the Internet. Which means that you can watch it from the comfort of the device of your choice… but if you want a truly authentic experience, I recommend going without showering before sitting in your least comfortable chair for several hours, and then watching the video on your cell phone… which you have placed on the other side of the room, preferably behind a volunteer wearing either a Batman cowl or a Heisenberg hat.

Regardless of your viewing preferences, you can check the video out after the jump.

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