batman_the_killing_joke_first_print_coverLast week, in Batgirl #49 – a comic with an apparent target demographic of Millennials – writer Cameron Stewart and artist Babs Tarr told a story that could be seen as retconning the events of Alan Moore’s and Brian Bolland’s 1988 one-shot, Batman: The Killing Joke.In the wake of that story, Stewart argued that his story could be seen as a retconning of The Killing Joke, or not, depending on how you interpret the story… as if the plot of a story that is intertwined in almost 30 years of DC history and countless dozens of titles and stories could be considered subjective to “your own personal truth.”

During that same week, another comics podcast – one hosted by Millennials – that we greatly respect did an episode calling The Killing Joke problematic due to its treatment of Barbara Gordon, and arguably overrated and unnecessary.

These attitudes toward The Killing Joke are somewhat understandable, given the concept of “women in refrigerators” that arose in comics fandom in 1999, and the fact that Moore chose to have Joker sexually assault Barbara Gordon in the story. Because of these elements, it’s easy to dismiss the story as dated and problematic… especially if you weren’t alive and actively reading comics in 1988.

Which we were. Which means that we remember that Barbara Gordon wasn’t Batgirl at the time of The Killing Joke. And that The Joker wasn’t really defined as a character at all after Crisis On Infinite Earths until The Killing Joke. And that comics fandom was, at the time, strongly against even Robin, let alone any character from the 1966 Batman television show.

So we decided to, at least up to a point, defend The Killing Joke. Not just from a historical standpoint, but from one of story, questioning whether Barbara was, in fact, fridged in the classic sense… while still agreeing that the sexual assault aspect of the story is completely unnecessary, and asking once question we’ve never seen asked: why didn’t Moore just have Joker kill Barbara?

We also discuss:

  • Escape From New York #15, written by Christopher Sebela with art by Maxim Simic, and
  • Doctor Strange #6, written by Jason Aaron with art by Chris Bachalo!

And, the disclaimers:

  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out warning ahead of time, be aware that we’re going to ruin the ending of a story written 28 years ago that has been referenced in literally hundreds of comic books since then.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. If you don’t want your significant other to learn why Alan Moore could have sold a million photocopies of his butt in 1988, get some headphones.

Thanks for listening, suckers!

fly_outbreak_1_cover_2015It has been, bar none, the crappiest week in comics news in recent memory – when the high point of the week’s news is that Larry Wilmore hosted a nationally televised round table discussion on how comics aren’t diverse enough (bookended by nerds-in-basement gags), it’s probably best to just pretend the whole thing just didn’t happen.

So that’s what we pretend. Instead, we took the occasion of the release of IDW’s The Fly: Outbreak #1, written by Brandon Seifert with art by Menton3, as an excuse to revisit one of our favorite movie franchises. Sure, The Fly might seem like simple Cronenberg body horror, but if you take a few steps back, what you really have is, starting with the original short story, a series of classic tales of science gone wrong, with unintended circumstances that imbue someone with extraordinary abilities in the face of terrible tragedy. Sure, it’s presented as horror… but if Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko had drawn it, we’d be arguing over which actor should be playing Seth Brundle right now.

We also discuss:

  • The Amazing Spider-Man #16.1, written by Gerry Conway with art by Carlo Barberi, and:
  • Batgirl #40, written by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, with art by Babs Tarr!

And now the disclaimers:

  • We record this show live to tape. While this might mean a looser comics podcast than you’re used to, it also means that anything can happen. Like a discussion over why real superheroines know to avoid a stack overflow error (and why that isn’t a reference to a wardrobe malfunction).
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out warnings ahead of time, be aware that we might ruin the ending of a 29-year-old horror movie (that’s based on a 57-year-old short story).
  • This show used adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. You want your boss to know how many Godzilla wangs worth of snow we got this winter? Didn’t think so. Get some headphones.

Enjoy the show, suckers!

multiversity_pax_americana_1_coverThe world of comics is big, complex, and sometimes even literary… and we are not. So we open this show talking about the return of Underoos. Which might sound frivolous, but when you consider that those underwear packs were the only place we middle-aged geeks could get a decent superhero t-shirt in the late 70s, it means something to us.

In addition, we also talk about the radical change in Batgirl to appeal to younger readers, we talk about whether that re-imagining of the character was the right way to go, and what other efforts the Big Two publishers might use to attract readers who aren’t middle-aged white guys with massive disposable incomes. We cover reboots like Batgirl’s, new characters in old costumes like Ms. Marvel, and the good old days, when Avengers and Justice League were places where new and B-List characters could get a fair shake at building a fanbase that could maybe carry a solo title for them.

We also go over the recently announced week two books of DC’s Convergence event, speculate on which titles seem most likely to hold hints about the permanence of this event, and again despair why some creators are on books that don’t seem like the best possible fit (why is Keith Giffen not writing Justice League International, for the love of God?).

And finally, we talk about:

  • Multiversity: Pax Americana #1, written by Grant Morrison with art by Frank Quitely, and:
  • Spider-Verse #2, written by Dan Slott with art by Olivier Coipel!

And now the disclaimers:

  • This show is recorded live to tape (There is one edit in this week’s episode to cover when I nearly revealed my secret identity). While this might mean a looser show than other comics podcasts, it also means that anything can happen. Like mangling the name of a classic comic to make it sound like Green Arrow is a gentleman of leisure who favors baseball bats.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to yell out warnings ahead of time, be aware that they can come at any time.
  • We use adult, profane language, and therefore this show is not safe for work. Unless you, like Green Arrow, are a gentleman of leisure, consider wearing headphones.

Thanks for listening, suckers!

all_new_captain_america_1_cover_variantThis week we added and installed a ton of new studio equipment for the show… and then used it to spend a few minutes laying in movie sound clips like middle-market Morning Zoo jocks.

Once we got that out of our system (and it is out of our system, we swear), we spent some time discussing the Doctor Who season finale, Death in Heaven. We talk about how the finale resembled a big comic book crossover event, whether the season theme of The Doctor-as-aristocrat really held water, the missed opportunity of Clara insisting that she was The Doctor, and why the English put so much stock in Christmas specials.

This week also brought us the solicitations for the first week of DC’s Convergence event on April 8th, so we go through each of the books and talk about what looks good, what looks great, and what it would take for us to even remotely care about some of the returning pre-New 52 characters (hi, Damian Wayne!).

On the comics front, we discuss:

  • Captain America and The Mighty Avengers, written by Al Ewing with art by Luke Ross,
  • Captain America #1, written by Rick Remender with pencils y Stuart Immonen, and
  • Superior Iron Man #1, written by Tom Taylor with art by Yildiray Cinar!

And now the warnings:

  • This show is recorded live to tape. While that might mean that this is a looser comics podcast than you are normally accustomed to, it also means that anything can happen.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out warnings ahead of time, just assume that the spoilers you fear most will be uttered as the punchline to a dirty joke.
  • Speaking of dirty jokes, this show contains adult, profane language, and is not safe for work. Having just bought a crate of recording studio gear, I can state with some authority that headphones are cheap. Get some.

Enjoy the show, suckers!

BatgirlNewCostumeThere has been another creative team change on Batgirl, by all reports due to editorial edict. So Amanda and I talk not only about the proposed new direction for the character, but we about the increasing influence over story and tone that editorial seems to have been gaining over creative teams as opposed to the early 2000s, when comics were doomed and writers and artists could seemingly do any damn thing they wanted if the sales numbers this month were higher than the ones from last month.

We are also just over a week away from San Diego Comic-Con 2014, so we talk about some of the scheduled panels, and how the wealth of content can make it infuriating, if not impossible, see everything you want at the show.

Finally, we discuss and review The Walking Dead #129, and Grayson #1!

And now the usual legalese:

  • We record this show live to tape. While that might mean some parts are a little rough around the edges compared to your regular comics podcast, it also means that anything can happen.
  • This show contains spoilers. We try to give a shout-out ahead of time, but we drink while recording. So tread lightly.
  • This podcast contains adult, explicit language, and is not safe for work. If you don’t want your boss hearing us talk about how superhero costumes contain compartments for each boob, wear headphones.

Enjoy the show, suckers!

godzilla_and_godzookyIt is Sunday, which means it’s time for another episode of the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Show, or as we like to call it: that thing we do as an excuse to not write for one day so we can devote more time to drinking whiskey, watching Game of Thrones, and babying the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office Mascot, Parker The Kitten.

On today’s show, we tackle:

  • Godzilla! We went into it thinking it would be a movie filled with Walter White battling a giant lizard, walked out of it thinking it was a pretty enjoyable reboot of the property… and then we talked about it. And sometimes, that’s the worst thing you can do to a movie…
  • Wild-assed and variant covers – Marvel announced this week that the covers of each issue of The Death of Wolverine would be something called “Weapon Etched Holo Foil,” and DC is planning to release their Futures End (Mistakenly called Five Years Later in the show) September one-shots with another series of 3D covers. As a couple of people who lived through variant covers and how they helped kill comics in the mid-90s, we don’t have a lot to add about it, but man do we like to complain about them.
  • Batgirl #31, written by Gail Simone with art by Fernando Pasarin
  • The United States of Murder Inc., written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Michael Avon Oeming
  • The Walking Dead #127, written by Robert Kirkman with art by Charlie Adlard, and:
  • Cat nutrition, or: taking care of a stray animal for only $47 a day

And one show note for the week:

  • The Island of The Mushroom People is an actual movie, actually called Attack of The Mushroom People in America and Matango in its native Japan. I wish I was making that up.

And, our usual semi-legalese:

  • This show was recorded live to tape, meaning that you might hear more than the normal number of “ums”, pregnant pauses, and references to Bukkake
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is not safe for work. That line just above about references to Bukkake? I didn’t pull that out of my ass. Be smart: listen with headphones.

Enjoy the show, suckers!

dc_comics_logo_2013What the fuck is going on over at DC Editorial?

Back in November, when Vertigo announced they were cancelling Hellblazer, they tried to lessen the blow by hyping up the new DC Universe-based book Constantine, with Robert Venditti as the announced writer. Just a few weeks later, when they announced that Duane Swierczynski would no longer be writing Birds of Prey, they made a big deal of the fact that they had brought in Skullkickers writer Jim Zub to take over, trotting the poor bastard out to do interviews where he espoused how excited he was to have the opportunity, and talked about all the ideas he couldn’t wait to bring to the book.

That, however, was then. Today, DC released their April solicitations, and yeah: neither of those guys are going to be writing those books.

Somewhere along the line, someone between DC Editor In Chief Bob Harras and the individual titles’ editors decided to replace those writers with pretty much no notice (at least to the reading public) until the solicitations dropped today, with those solicitations indicating that Constantine will be written by Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes (who was originally to replace Gail Simone after she was fired from Batgirl… you know, before she was rehired), and Birds of Prey to be taken over by Amethyst writer Christy Marx. Apparently. At least for now. At this point, my co-editor Amanda is frantically hitting F5 on her email, checking to see if perhaps she is the next writer of Birds of Prey.

Between these moves and the aborted firing of Gail Simone, I can’t personally remember a case where, at the editorial level, a bunch of last-minute creator changes were made on books where the replaced creators were reasonably well-publicized, and all before their first issues even came out. Sure, you see it with artists sometimes, but normally only after deadlines start to become an issue (hi, Mark Silvestri!). So what the hell is going on at 1700 Broadway, guys? Did Robert Venditti nail the wrong guy’s wife? Did Jim Zub leave an Upper Decker in the Editorial Department men’s room? Or the ladies’ room? Or maybe Geoff Johns’s Aquaman cap?

Well, Harras and DC Editorial Director Bobbie Chase did an interview with Comic Book Resources to try to explain some of the reasoning behind the sudden moves. So… what the hell, guys?

teen_titans_15_cover_2013Editor’s Note: And one last review of the comics of 1/2/2013 before the comic stores open with this week’s take…

Teen Titans #15, written by Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza and drawn by Brett Booth, is a strange read. It’s part of the Death of The Family crossover going through the Batman Family books, and it features the same Joker as those books, with his skinned face strapped to his head, and ostensibly more terrifying than ever, but it doesn’t feel of that crossover. Where most of the other issues in this crossover put the focus on how Joker is more modern and direct and personally violent in many ways, this issue feels almost… quaint. Sure, it has several characters talking about how deadly Joker is, and how frightening it is to face off with him, but the overall feeling is that it comes from another era. An era of death traps and convoluted master plans and big primary colors and crappy gag lines.

This is a 90s comic book, from the plotting to the scripting to even the art style. It is a strange fit with the terror and brutality that has been the stock in trade of the rebooted Joker in other issues of Death of The Family, and it therefore feels… odd. It is like being in line for an Odd Future concert and seeing someone roll into the parking lot in a neon blue Dodge Neon with flames and a spoiler, and seeing the driver jumping out with Hammerpants and a Kid-N-Play fade haircut. It is retro where retro is not needed – or necessarily wanted – and therefore the instinct is to beat the perpetrator like a rented goalie.

And make no mistake: I will be throwing some punches at Teen Titans #15… however, there is some good stuff in this issue, and that deserves some attention, too. After all – M. C. Hammer and the Houseparty movies didn’t make a billion dollars twenty years ago because they were always reprehensible to everyone everywhere.

I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night. Although I have taken the form of Gaius Caligula, I am all men as I am no man and therefore I am a God.

So. After firing Gail Simone as writer of Batgirl a few weeks ago, and then quietly weathering the ensuing shitstorm from fandom on the Internet, DC chose the Friday before Christmas to allow the name of the next Batgirl writer to leak out.

And who, praytell, will be the poor fucker trying to follow in the footsteps of Gail Simone?

Gail Simone.

There have been rumors going around for a couple of weeks that Gail Simone, in the face of her exclusive deal with DC Comics coming to an end recently, would be leaving Batgirl, which she has written since the DC New 52 relaunch. Simone has been denying those rumors pretty consistently, to the point where just one week ago, she publicly and flatly stated that “I have not left Batgirl” on her Tumblr blog.

That, however, was a week ago. About 90 minutes ago, on her Twitter page, Simone announced that she would no longer be writing the book… and that her earlier statement was technically true: she did not leave Batgirl. She was replaced.