robobunny_batman_capulloWe are back, after a week spent upgrading various parts of our online infrastructure! Which was exactly as exciting as it sounds! Provided you are Lex from Jurassic Park and know Unix! Unlike us!

And we came back just in time for an almost complete comics news drought. This happens ever year in the couple of weeks leading up to San Diego Comic-Con; the publishers save their big announcements for the show, while leaking only little things, like TV casting announcements.

So the news about comics winds up being news about comics at SDCC. So this week, we discuss a couple of announcements about the convention itself, including some of the… shall we say, odder… convention exclusives that some vendors are making available, to the announcement that Marvel Studios won’t be having a Hall H presence this year, while Star Wars and DC / Warner Bros. (probably) will be having a big one.

And we took the opportunity afforded by a relatively slow news week to talk about more of this week’s comics than usual, including:

  • Starve #1, written by Brian Wood with art by Daniel Zezelj,
  • Starfire #1, written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Emanuela Lupacchino,
  • Constantine, The Hellblazer #1, written by Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV with art by Riley Rossmo, and
  • Batman #41, written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo!

And, as usual, the 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 learning why putting a cape on your office chair means Gotham City is doomed.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out warnings ahead of time, please be aware that we might ruin stuff for you.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. Unless you want your employer to hear multiple references to a sketchy, ten-dollar party, get some headphones.

Enjoy the show, suckers!

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c2e2_logoWe conclude our coverage of C2E2 2015 with a recap of the Caped Crusaders, Dynamic Duos and Darkest Knight panel (or just the Batman panel when it’s at home), featuring Batman writer Scott Snyder as moderator, with Batman Eternal writer James Tynion IV, Detective Comics writer Brian Buccallato, Gotham by Midnight writer Ray Fawkes, and the upcoming Robin: Son of Batman writer / artist Patrick Gleason.

So in this episode, we bring you a ton of audio clips of these guys (well, mostly Scott Snyder) talking about upcoming storylines in Detective Comics, Gotham by Midnight and Robin: Son of Batman… but at the time of this panel, we were only four days away from the conclusion of Batman: Endgame in the core Batman title, and only a week away from the debut of the new “RoboBunny” Batman in DC’s Free Comic Book Day offering, Divergence. So we feature a bunch of clips of Snyder and company talking about the new Batman, the process in creating him, the reasoning behind the new direction, and a few new tidbits about him that you might not have heard elsewhere, all from the mouths of the creators!

And, since Batman #40 has been released since this panel, we not only feature several clips of Snyder talking about what Batman: Endgame means to him, but we review and discuss the issue!

Thanks for listening to our C2E2 coverage. We return to our normal weekly schedule on Sunday, May 3rd, with an episode about Avengers: Age of Ultron, featuring a couple of very cool guests!

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blomkamp_alienThis was a big week of classic genre movie news for we members of Generation X: it was announced that not only will District 9 director Neill Blomkamp be directing a new Alien movie with Sigourney Weaver’s involvement, but that it will take place around the story timeframe of Aliens, and that there’s a possibility that it will disregard the events of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. You know, like most other Alien fans have been doing since 1992.

Further, Ridley Scott announced that he will be producing a sequel to Blade Runner, to be directed by Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve, and including Harrison Ford, who loved his experience making the original so much that he refused to talk about it for decades.

So Amanda and I discuss whether or not it’s a good idea for these actors to try to return to franchises they left behind 18 and 33 years ago respectively… but more importantly, whether either of these franchises even need a sequel or reboot, and what kind of stories set in these universes would be most exciting for we old school fans to see. And, ultimately, whether or not it is possible to ignore the Aliens Vs. Predators movies enough.

We also talk about:

  • The recently released Power Rangers fan film starring James Van Der Beek and Katie Sackhoff (and why it reminds us of Alan Moore),
  • Spider-Gwen #1, written by Jason Latour with art by Bobbi Rodriguez, and:
  • Batman #39, written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo!

And now the disclaimers:

  • This show is recorded live to tape. While this might mean a looser comics podcast than you’re used to, it also means that anything can happen. Like the speculation that Harrison Ford’s copy of the Blade Runner 2 script read: “We’ll pay you 30 million dollars.”
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out warnings ahead of time, be aware that a spoiler could come at any time. Like the revelation that Alien: Resurrection is truly horrible.
  • This show contains profane, adult language and is therefore not safe for work. Your boss doesn’t want to hear about how we want to slap around “Sigourney Weaver’s bald convict”, so get some headphones.
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trumpWe here at Crisis On Infinite Midlives live in Boston, and it is the week of a large football contest (so we are told). So we decided to spend this episode talking about an organization and its members who were recently accused of malfeasance, dirty tricks in the face of their fans, and a general betrayal of the public trust.

That organization is, of course, the Ghostbusters.

This week, Ghostbusters director Paul Feig announced his intended casting for the franchise reboot, and the Internet exploded. And not in a good way. So we discuss our feelings and opinions about this reboot, how it works with our feelings toward a franchise that literally changed one of our lives, and why it is arguably the best possible solution for continuing the property. We also talk about how this announcement affected our feelings toward the other recently-publicized reboot: Marvel’s Secret Wars.

We also talk about:

  • Batman #38, written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo, and:
  • Quantum And Woody Must Die #1, written by James Asmus with art by Steve Lieber!

And now the legalese:

  • 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 whether Barbie Princess Power’s super ability has to do with Ken’s genitals.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out warnings ahead of time, assume that you will learn that Barbie Princess Power’s super ability has to do with Ken’s genitals.
  • This show contains profane, explicit language, and is therefore not safe for work. You want your boss hearing this much about Ken’s genitals? Didn’t think so. Get some headphones.
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batman_37_variant_coverIt’s the week before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring… including anyone who might generate much in the way of comics news.

However! DC sneaked a bunch of cancellations into their March solicitations, including a few books that have been around since the start of the New 52. And since it is a slow news week, and since March is the last month before the Convergence event brings all of DC’s eras into the spotlight, and since we are comic geeks who like to speculate, we take the opportunity to review the cancellations and talk about what DC might have in mind post-Convergence.

And since Christmas is right around the corner, we take the opportunity to reminisce about the geek and genre-related toys that we were given as children back in the 70s and the 80s. We hit some of the biggies, like Maskatron, the Millennium Falcon playset, Energized Spider-Man, Magnetic Batman and Robin… and in Amanda’s case, everything a child might need for a life on the Hobo Trail.

And finally, we discuss:

  • Justice League #37, written by Geoff Johns with art by Jason Fabok, and:
  • Batman #37, written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo!

And the disclaimers:

  • We record this show live to tape. While that mean a looser show than you are used to from other comics podcasts, it also means that anything can happen. Like an unexpected reminiscence about a shattered childhood.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout a warning ahead of time, proceed with caution.
  • This show contains adult, explicit language, and is therefore not safe for work. However, there’s every chance you’re on vacation for Christmas this week, and if not, maybe Santa will bring you a new set of headphones.
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Enjoy the show, suckers!

Oh, and here’s that sweet, sweet Rob Liefeld jeans ad from the early 90s:

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batman_21_cover_2013I bought Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, back when it was just Batman #404 through #407, from the spinner rack at my local supermarket for 75 cents a piece.

That story was a stone classic from the word go, right from the first issue, which opened with James Gordon telling us what a hell on Earth Gotham City was, and ending with Bruce Wayne not only bleeding out, but willing to bleed out unless he found some inspiration to make his war on crime more sustainable and effective than just trying to stomp out local goons. You know the images; we all know the images: the giant bat crashing violently through the window, the smile on Bruce’s face, and the bloody hand on the bell to call Alfred, with the caption, “Yes, Father… I shall become a bat…”

I can spin that sequence of panels off from memory because Batman: Year One is Frank Miller, in 88 tight pages, telling one of the greatest Batman stories ever told (on the tails of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which is the greatest Batman story ever told, and I’ll fight any man what says different), and cementing his position as one of the greatest comic storytellers ever, regardless of any future paranoid writings or rantings.

That was in 1987. It is now 2013, and we have the first issue of Zero Year, written by Scott Snyder, on the tails of Death of The Family, one of the best Batman / Joker stories in recent memory. Just based on the title, Zero Year is meant to elicit in us memories of Year One. And based on the events of this first issue of Zero Year, it covers some, if not all, of the same period of Batman’s career that Year One did.

Look, don’t get your hopes up here. Zero Year #1 / Batman #21 isn’t on the same level as Batman: Year One #1 / Batman #404, and I think we all knew that it wasn’t gonna be. After all, there is only one first love of your life, and when it comes to Batman stories, Frank Miller and Batman: Year One got to anyone old enough to buy comic books with their own money long before Scott Snyder ever put a word in Batman’s mouth. So I could sit here all day and compare the new book – or pretty much any other modern comic book – negatively to the old one, but that really doesn’t matter.

What matters is: does Zero Year #1 hold up on its own as a good Batman story?

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batman_20_cover_2013Dear creators working in DC’s Batman office: there is a product available on the Internet called Skype. It is free. And it allows you create a virtual conference room, where you can invite any number of people to join, and then, you know, talk to each other.

I say this because there is obviously no communication happening about how Bruce Wayne is handling the death of his son. The writer of that death, Grant Morrison, has Bruce sucking down Man-Bat serum and going on a revenge rampage over in Batman Incorporated. Peter Tomasi has Batman scouring the world looking for a way to bring Damian back to life, including the psychological torture of the last Robin to get killed on his watch this month, and making an attack on fucking Frankenstein for answers last month.

And Scott Snyder, the writer of the main Batman title? Well, as a guy who has to turn in a comic book during this whole, sudden, “Damian’s-Dead” shitstorm, he has Batman affected by the event in the margins, while making the meat of the story a decent, if workmanlike, two-and-done featuring an antagonist no one really cares about, and a big Easter Egg in this week’s Batman #20 to delight the rubes (I was certainly delighted). However, as a guy who has reached A-List status at DC in the past year and a half, with arguably as much pull as Morrison, Snyder has clearly said, “Um, yeah: I’ll give you a couple issues mentioning this death, but this is Grant’s problem. I think I’m gonna scrap my Riddler plans and do a year-long story set in the past while you guys deal with the fallout from the whims of that crazy Scottish fucker.”

So if it seems every Batman writer has picked a different stage of grief to stick Bruce Wayne into over the death of his son, Snyder has clearly chosen “Acceptance.” Which means, at the very least, that it is the less histrionic of the two Batman titles on the stands this week. But the question is: is that enough to make it any good?

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batman_19_gatefold_cover_2013Editor’s Note: Your have eaten Gotham’s wealth. Its spoilers. From now on, none of you are safe.

Is there anyone who saw the teaser for the WTF cover of Batman #19 and didn’t know pretty much automatically that it was probably Clayface impersonating Bruce Wayne? And more importantly, is there anyone in the comics reading world who really gives a tin shit about Clayface?

I mean, the concept of Clayface has been around 1940, and even after all that time, it’s not like Clayface is anybody’s idea of a classic character. Because even though there is clearly enough behind the concept of a shapeshifting supervillain to keep Clayface popping up now and again for the past 63 years, let’s face reality: there have been eight different Clayfaces since Detective Comics #40. The only reason to revamp a “classic” villain on an average of every eight years is if there is something fundamentally wrong with it.

The fact of the matter is “Clayface” is nothing but a set of powers behind a grotesque body, with next to no personality behind it. Hell, I’ve been reading Batman comics for 37 years, and I couldn’t tell you any of the Clayface’ origin stories, or what motivates them to crime as opposed to, say, looking at my dripping, earthy face and attempting suicide. Or maybe shifting into Brad Pitt and trying to impersonate myself into a better life (although if you’re old enough to remember Angelina Jolie back when she drank blood and was married to Billy Bob Thornton, you might think she’d be more into the whole monster thing).

My point is, I don’t think anyone really cares about Clayface. And Clayface is the antagonist of Batman #19. So the question is: does writer Scott Snyder finally do anything interesting with the character?

Short answer: nah. Not really.

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batman_19_partial_cover_2013Several months ago, DC Comics announced that April would be their official “WTF Month,” in which every issue would include a special gatefold cover and a guaranteed moment to make readers say, “What the fuck?”

We here at Crisis On Infinite Midlives did not report on this exciting new development in the implied use of the word “fuck” when it was announced back in January because:

  • We are busy people with a limited number of hours in the day to write about comics news, and not every marketing move by a major publisher is exciting news just because it implies the use of the word “fuck.” We are not immediately impressed by the word “fuck.” We fucking use “fuck” all the fucking time, for fuck’s sake.
  • There have been plenty of moves by DC Editorial that have made us say, “What the fuck?” without requiring a special stamp on any special cover.
  • The whole thing sounded pretty fucking contrived. We could just picture scripts being sent back to writers with “bigger fuck!” written in classic “Harras Red” ink.
  • Fuck it.

Well, despite our initial feeling of, “meh,” DC has continued with their plan, and today they released the first complete gatefold “WTF” cover, for Batman #19, by artist Greg Capullo. And you can see the full cover, gatefold and all, after the jump.

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batman_17_cover_2013In the history of Batman and The Joker, there are only a couple of iconic story endings that I can think of. There’s the end of the third issue of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, where Batman pursues Joker with the intent to kill him, finds himself unable to pull the trigger, and Joker takes one final shot at Batman by killing himself to frame Batman for his murder. And there’s the end of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, where Joker and Batman share a laugh when Batman finally understands how connected he is to Joker… and really, that’s about it. Sure, you’ve got Jim Starlin’s Death in The Family, but I really don’t remember how that actually ends; all I remember is Joker swinging the crowbar and Batman carrying Robin’s body. And yeah, there’s the Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers Joker Fish story, but all that easily comes to mind on that one is Joker with the fish.

When it comes to endings, there aren’t a whole hell of a lot that you can really point to as classic. Most Joker stories wind up one of a couple or three ways: Batman stops Joker in the middle of whatever his plan is in the nick of time and slaps him into Arkham, Batman stops Joker in the middle of whatever his plan is in the nick of time and Joker escapes, or Batman stops Joker in the middle of whatever his plan is in the nick of time and Joker appears to die and disappear. Some combination of these endings have been popping up in Batman / Joker stories literally since the first one, and none of them are particularly memorable… particularly since there are rarely any lasting consequences to the story. That’s part of why The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke stand out – as, for the most part, standalone stories, the ending is, you know, the ending. In the regular monthly comics however, it’s hard to have one of these conclusions stand out since the events of the story are never permanent; hell, the most “permanent” Joker effects have been the killing of Jason Todd and the crippling of Barbara Gordon, and both of those have since been retconned.

All of which is a long way to go to start talking about Batman #17, and the conclusion of Scott Snyder’s Death of The Family crossover. In some ways, this ending isn’t really particularly special, in the sense that the actual mechanics of it are as familiar as color superhero comics to anyone who’s been reading them for longer than a month. However, Snyder does one thing that some of the best Batman stories do: create a lasting set of consequences for Batman as a result of Joker’s actions. But Snyder also does something that normally doesn’t happen in a Batman / Joker story, and it’s something that not only confirms something that most of us who have been reading these stories for years have always suspected, but it creates a situation in the Batman / Joker dynamic that I don’t recall ever having seen before… and while it is all doomed to be reconned and forgotten, right now, it makes it one of the best conclusions to a Joker story in recent memory.

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