There’s a new Thor movie out. If history were a guide, this would excite us not at all. While we have been, and still generally are, fully in the tank for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have not seen any of the Thor movies in an actual movie theater, and that’s saying something considering we did see The Incredible Hulk in our local theater.

Thor: Ragnarok, however, promised to combine Thor with the most important elements of Greg Pak’s Planet Hulk, which we did like. So we made our way to the theaters this weekend, and we spend a good chunk of the episode talking about the flick. Did we like it? Was there more to it than just the thrill of seeing Hulk in full gladiator dress with his Warbound? Is there anything there to make us care about Asgard? Does the movie make the living envy the Doug? Tune in and find out!

We also discuss:

  • The Jetsons #1, written by Jimmy Palmiotti with art by XXXXX, and:
  • Captain America #1, written by Mark Waid, with art by Chris Samnee!

This episode was recorded live to tape, so if you want to know why Rob has the completely wrong idea about what it means to get romantic with a guitar, you’re in luck!

Thanks for listening, suckers!

x-files_season_10Sorry for last week’s unexpected absence, but something unexpected made its way into our home and made us feel terrible. And on a completely unrelated note…

A couple of weeks ago brought us the conclusion of the much-anticipated return of The X-Files. Presented as six episode miniseries meant to function as an official tenth season of the original series (down to the original, shot-on-video opening credits), the event was intended to satisfy both long time fans and newer viewers alike. Meaning that we were the entire target audience – Amanda watched the show from the first episode, whereas Rob has only seen the first couple of seasons on DVD and the movies.

So we talk about the things about the season that worked, the things that unexpectedly delighted us, the elements that were more distracting than anything else… and the things that were simply, truly, irrevocably awful. And while we didn’t agree on everything, there is one thing in which we are lockstep: of all the things that work in The X-Files, Chris Carter should be George Lucas’ed into the cornfield, Disney style.

We also discuss:

  • The Walking Dead #152, written by Robert Kirkman wih art by Charlie Adlard,
  • Green Lantern #50, written by Robert Venditti with art by Billy Tan and Vicente Cifuentes, and
  • Black Widow #1, written by Mark Waid with art by Chris Samnee!

And, the disclaimers:

  • As we said: we were sick last week. So you’re going to hear more coughing and sniffling than normal. We apologize.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to yell out warnings ahead of time, be aware that we will ruin the ending of The X-Files more thoroughly for you than Chris Carter did. Actually, that’s not possible.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. Do you want your employer to learn how to violate millions of television viewers with a move I like to call the Sudden Stem Cell Trespass? Then get some headphones.

Thanks for listening, suckers!

daredevil_36_cover_2014Editor’s Note: No one on the white hat side has ever hidden his or her spoilers with less than noble intent.

About 20 years ago, I worked in a job that put me in close proximity with many lawyers. And not the kind of lawyers who champion the powerless and regularly make the short lists for major federal benches, but the kind that advertise during the times of day and kinds of shows likely to be shown in hospital waiting rooms. The kind would chase an ambulance, fake a slip-and-fall, and then sue the ambulance. Real lowlives with cut-rate law school diplomas and Rolodexes full of the kinds of doctors who will certify, from their second floor walk-up offices, that their patients have no legs.

One time I saw one of these guy’s clients get busted for insurance fraud after claiming he had permanent debilitating neck pain, and then being caught fronting a thrash headbanger band for a two-hour bar set. I remember another lawyer for whom our standard operating procedure was to immediately counter-sue for frivolous litigation the instant he sent us a letter, not just because he represented the lowest form of Lawrence Brake-Stander, but because he’d lost frivolous litigation lawsuits repeatedly over the years.

Those weasels never got disbarred. In my (admittedly limited) experience, the only way a lawyer gets disbarred is if he wears a mask, but rather than going out to defend the innocent, he uses it to expose himself to the elderly. And even then, they might get a pass for psychological reasons. You know, if they just can find some doctor who will swear before God that, despite all evidence to the contrary, they have a medical condition.

So, while reading Daredevil #36, I had a little difficulty completely believing that Matt Murdock would be disbarred, even considering the extreme circumstances under which he became embroiled in ethics charges. But that’s my problem and not writer Mark Waid’s, who put together a hell of an issue to close out the third volume of Daredevil. This comic doesn’t just shake up the status quo, it puts two into the back of its head… while still remaining somewhat believable and, if you think about it, not being so outlandish that it will completely blow up the character as he has stood for the past half decade or so.

Except yeah: the real New York Bar would just put a strongly-worded letter in his file if he showed up for his hearing sober, speaking English and without the blood of innocents dripping from his Cthuhlu fangs.

tmp_daredevil_31_cover_2013-146449185Editor’s Note: We find the defendant guilty on the charge of Premeditated Spoilers.

It would have been really easy for Mark Waid to have fucked up Daredevil #31.

This was the first comic book I remember seeing that in any way tackles the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman murder trial, and that is a subject that is just playing with dynamite. And it is playing with dynamite just because it is so Goddamned easy to pick one side or another, based on a few snippets of facts gleaned from various news accounts one might have half-paid attention to while working or drinking beer or surfing for porn. You write a book that takes the side of the shooter, and you’ve alienated everyone who knows that ACLU isn’t a lolspeak acronym. You take the side of the shootee, and you can experience your first mainstream media crossover attention by being mentioned on Sean Hannity’s show, possibly accompanied by your home address.

And yet if any comic book is the perfect one to reference the case, it’s Daredevil, what with its protagonist being an actual officer of the court. But still: it took a lof of balls for Waid to even consider making that case part of a mainstream comic book story… and he generally nails it. Because he’s smart enough to reference the case without the story being about the case. Instead, it’s about the people who made a snap decision about one side or another, based on a few snippets of facts gleaned from various news accounts one might have half-paid attention to while working or drinking beer or surfing for porn.

And that’s most of us, Bubba.

daredevil_25_cover_2013Editor’s Note: Amateur. You carry your spoilers like a blind man. Leaves you vulnerable in seven ways.

Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil has been pretty universally solid, with a few missteps along the way – whether we needed another “drive Matt Murdock insane” story like we got a few months ago is an open question, and that whole “throw Foggy out a high window… as a faint to have some schmo with a scalpel kill him in front of witnesses” plan probably could have used an extra day or two on the drawing board. But in general, those moments are outnumbered by good, and sometimes great, moments and stories.

But then there are times when Waid just fucking outdoes himself. I’m not sure how into this whole greater Unknown Mastermind With A Master Plan To Break Matt Murdock greater storyline I am – again, it’s something that’s been done by at least three Daredevil writers I can think of off the top of my head – but the particular story of Daredevil #25, with this particular antagonist, has a progression and an arc and a final twist reveal that is simply magnificent.

Don’t get me wrong, the antagonist himself is only okay – every writer of superhero comics ever has at least toyed with the idea of a villain who is the evil version of the hero (Bizarro / Owl-Man / Kaine / Sinestro / Faith anyone?) – but that final twist reveal? Man, that’s enough to forgive going to that villain well.

Editor’s Note: Kingpin left me with ten spoilers in my pocket. I found a comics Web site that makes change.

Whether purposefully or accidentally, Marvel and writer Mark Waid have put themselves into a difficult position by putting the first chronological appearance of The Superior Spider-Man – that is, whoever Spider-Man will wind up being after the events of next week’s The Amazing Spider-Man #700 – into this week’s Daredevil #21.

Because with all the hype and anticipation surrounding what will happen with Spider-Man (as an example: once we published an article about the leak to the Internet of the ending to The Amazing Spider-Man #700, our Web traffic doubled… and we didn’t even publish the actual spoilers), what he does and how he acts in Daredevil #21 will be almost as important to readers as the story about Ol’ Hornhead. It’s kinda like casting the Octomom or John Wayne Bobbit in a porno flick; you’ll get a lot of rubberneckers not watching the thing for its intended purpose.

So even though Spider-Man’s appearance in Daredevil #21 makes complete and total sense with regards to the greater story – not only the story of some still unknown party trying to drive Matt nuts, but of Matt’s conscious decision to lighten up that goes back to Waid’s earliest issues – his appearance here, before the resolution of the current arc in Spider-Man’s home title, means the issue (not the story; there is a distinction there) has a massive, nearly crippling distraction that I doubt Waid originally intended. It makes the reading of this individual issue, during this particular point in pre-Amazing Spider-Man #700 time, an almost schizophrenic experience, where what Spider-Man does and says in two pages is almost, if not more, important to the comic reader than the actual Daredevil story in the preceding 18 pages.

So I’m gonna review it that way: in two parts.

First of all, no matter how you feel about Daredevil #18, you’ve gotta admit: that is one hell of a cover. If the goal of a comic book cover is to get someone not already predisposed to the book to buy it (and that is the goal of a cover, no matter what the prevailing wisdom of “What can I get for the original art on the collector’s market” might say), then this one by Paolo Rivera  succeeds. If you’re in a comic store and you see this cover and you’re not interested? Just ask the guy at the counter if you can use his bathroom, because clearly you didn’t go into the comic store because you like comics.

Trouble is, you put a cover like that on a comic book, particularly when the cover is hyping that the creative team just won an Eisner Award for making Daredevil the best continuing series of the year, and you are writing a check that the book itself had better Goddamned cash. So does the story, by writer Mark Waid with interior art by Chris Samnee, deliver the goods?

In general, yes it does. This issue continues Waid’s examination of Matt Murdock’s long relationship with, shall we say, “stress-related personality issues.” It was a trait that dominated the character for so long that Waid has been almost required to address – if you’re gonna decide that a character has simply decided to be less intense and crazy, you almost have to put him in a situation where he would once, well, go bugfuck nuts to see if he can stay less intense and crazy. And Waid is doing that, in a methodical and well-built way… with a couple of nitpicks. Because Matt Murdock might have decided to be less apeshit crazy, but I have promised no such thing.

I had mixed feelings about Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom going into it, because as much as I love the character, it really belonged almost totally to creator Dave Stevens. Sure, I’ve been enjoying the Rocketeer Adventures books over the past few months, but many of those stories took place around the Rocketeer universe, featuring other characters and how the presence of The Rocketeer affected them. These short stories felt like tributes to Stevens’s character and work, allowing the original to stand on its own without new creators jumping right into that sandbox.

Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom, however, is a full-length miniseries focused firmly on The Rocketeer and his friends themselves. This puts the creative team of writer Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee right onto Stevens’s turf, and when it comes to Dave Stevens, we’re talking about a guy who was such a perfectionist that he only came out with two long form Rocketeer stories between 1982 and 1995. So for a long-time Rocketeer fan, who owns the original movie poster and who still carries his keys on a Rocketeer keyring, a poorly-done Rocketeer story would be a catastrophe; a rotten cash grab on the level of the worst of Before Watchmen, only with an added distasteful element of necrophilia thrown in to boot.

Thankfully, Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom is a generally worthy addition to the Rocketeer canon, that continues Stevens’s own addition of period-appropriate pulp canon to the original aviation-based story, with a healthy dose of flying action, a respect toward the vocation of pilot in the early days of flying, and the most dysfunctional relationship since Judd Winick said, “okay” to Catwoman. Of course, being a period pulp adventure story written after 1982, it also borrows some elements heavily from Raiders of The Lost Ark, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

We’re now seven issues into Brian Michael Bendis’s new Ultimate Spider-Man, and Miles Morales is in his costume, Peter Parker is in his heaven, and there is finally superhero action in this superhero action comic book. Man, I’m liking this book a lot more now that something’s actually happening in it. Who woulda thunk it?

However, the book gets a rough start thanks to Kaare Andrews cover. Sure, it’s beautifully rendered with pseudo 3D / photorealistic backgrounds, and unlike the cover in the last issue we reviewed here, it doesn’t look like Spider-Man’s so excited to have superpowers that he’s double-ejaculating like some kind of pornographic Chow Yun Fat while busily sucking his own dick. No, in this cover, Spider-Man is overlooking the city, demurely and quietly squatting… and apparently crapping a giant golden dook. Right on top of the American flag. Look, I really like Kaare Andrews work – his stuff on Spider-Man: Reign was excellent – but the man draws these Ultimate Spider-Man covers like he’s trying to see what weird shit he can sneak into them. I’m guessing that either we’re two issues away from a cover where Spider-Man sprays webs onto Black Cat’s upper lip, or that I just have a filthy, dirty (sanchez) mind and should stop reading perversion into these covers.

Things, however, are a little more plain vanilla between the covers (Ha! Get it?).