supergirlLast week, we talked about how the future of the DC television shows, particularly the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, and how they might fit into the continuity created in Arrow and The Flash on The CW. And we mentioned over and over again that it’s hard to figure out the direction of the upcoming shows based only on trailers and not even a complete episode.

Well, clearly someone trusted with access to intellectual property at CBS or Berlanti Productions was listening, because the complete, hi-def pilot to Supergirl leaked to the Internet on Friday afternoon. And while normally one needs a little technical knowledge to find pirated videos online, this one leaked in a way where anyone with a mind to can watch it (although I’d use that link quickly, as CBS’s lawyers will be back from the Memorial Day holiday weekend bright and early Tuesday morning).

So we talk about the pilot, including how it uses the Superman mythos as shorthand to build Supergirl’s back story quickly (in ways both good and bad), how it’s potentially laying the groundwork for some continuity from the comics, possibly introducing an entirely new version of Lex Luthor, and creating questionable relationships between Superman and the government. We also talk about how the pilot wears its “girl power” themes on its sleeve, and whether that’s something that’s desirable or sustainable in the long run.

We also discuss:

  • Planet Hulk #1, written by Sam Humphries and Greg Pak, with art by Marc Laming and Takeshi Miyazawa,
  • Ultimate End #1, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Mark Bagley, and:
  • Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #1, written by Cullen Bunn with art by Matteo Lolli and Jacopo Camagni!

And now 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 the origin story of Trucker Klingon, a.k.a. Steroid Loki.
  • This show contains spoilers. Like, we spoil the entire pilot of Supergirl. Consider yourself warned.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. You want your boss to learn the filthy double meaning behind Deadpool’s 80s-style costume logo? Of course not; nobody needs a visit to human resources on a short holiday week. Get yourself some headphones.
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Enjoy the show, suckers!

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indestructible_hulk_6_cover_2013Editor’s Note: Hulk spoil!

Let’s start off with this: that’s a great cover. But since I am emotionally no older than 12 years old, all I keep thinking is that if you obscure Thor’s hammer, what you’ve got is a spectacular pin-up of The Hulk after a horrific night of Taco Bell.

Second: I really wanted to like Indestructible Hulk #6. I am generally a fan comics that are written by Mark Waid, and as a dude who was reading comics back in the 80s, I will buy damn near anything pencilled by Walt Simonson, particularly an issue that you can tell based on the cover features Thor. For a generation of comic geeks, having Simonson draw Thor is appointment comic reading second only to maybe seeing Todd McFarlane draw Hulk.

And having read through the issue a couple of times, it turns out that seeing Simonson draw Thor again is one of two good reasons to read the book, the other being the final panel, which I’ll get to in a minute. But otherwise, this is a decompressed first issue of a longer arc that asks more questions than it answers, but in many cases not teasing the mysteries well enough to make them compelling rather than incomplete and confusion. And worse: while, again, it’s nice to see Simonson’s Thor again, his storytelling choices take characters that are meant to be enigmatic and instead makes them cannon fodder.

This one’s only okay, guys. On a good day.

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logo_marvelAmanda reported earlier about Marvel’s new one-word teaser – part of what’s looking to be a new round for already-introduced comics from the Marvel Now relaunch (but not a reboot! Because Marvel doesn’t reboot! And Spider-Man has always had feet that looked like Mickey Mouse was crippled by polio!) – hinting that the Doc Ock version of Spider-Man is possibly going to lose his Avengers ID card and all associated rights, privileges, upgrade miles and punches toward a free six-inch sub.

That, however, wasn’t the only teaser up Marvel’s sleeve today. To wit: legendary The Mighty Thor artist Walt Simonson will be taking over art duties, at least temporarily, from Leinil Yu on Indestructible Hulk. And Marvel being Marvel, they had a teaser to go with the news…

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justice_league_dark_9_coverUpdate, 6:40 a.m.: The video after the jump is fixed. What can I say? That Benzedrine’s a hell of a drug.

Guillermo del Toro is finishing up work on Pacific Rim, which will be in theaters in July. And since between movies and books and comics, he seems like a guy who likes to keep busy… you know, in the sense that a methamphetamine addict like to occupy the day by disassembling the television in an attempt to find parts to improve the AK-47 they use to keep the Goddamned bugs away.

Which, as analogies go, certainly is one, but my point is, del Toro probably has another project in mind. And it seems that he does. Is it the adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness that del Toro was working on before the project went tits up? Well, apparently maybe; supposedly he thinks he can get one more bite at that apple, hard R rating and ridiculous budget or no:

“I’m going to try it one more time. Once more into the dark abyss,” he laughed. “We’re gonna do a big presentation of the project again at the start of the year and see if any [studio’s] interested.” And yes, Tom Cruise is still game to be on board if they can find a home for it. “Yeah, Tom is still attached. I think it would be so fantastic to make it with him. He’s been such a great ally of the project.”

Okay, that’s pretty good news… certainly better than the news about the Hulk TV show that del Toro was supposedly working on a few months ago:

“After ‘The Avengers’ there’s been complete radio silence,” he said. “I had one more meeting after ‘Avengers’ with Jeph Loeb from Marvel and he said, ‘We’re working on it, we’re waiting for a writer,’ he gave me the name of the writer and their resume and I said, ‘That sounds great, let’s wait for him’ because we had delivered a teleplay and I haven’t heard since then.”

So yeah, those sound pretty good… but that’s not the good shit. The good shit is that del Toro is apparently working on a project with Warner Bros. A movie including Swamp Thing, John Constantine, Zatanna, Etrigan… pretty much all of the cast of Justice League Dark. And it’s actually in preproduction, with a writer attached and everything.

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new_years_ballIt is New Year’s Eve of the first complete year of the existence of Crisis On Infinite Midlives. We have all the comics we’re going to get in 2012, so it is time to publish my list of the best comics of the year… mostly because with no new comics, there isn’t much to review, and the biggest comics news we’re likely to get between now and Wednesday is likely to be “Frank Miller Publicly Intoxicated, Yells At ‘Hippies.’ Must Be Tuesday.”

So here’s my list; Amanda’s will appear later today. It is in no particular order, it encompasses everything from single issues to multi-issue story arcs to series that started in 2011 and ended this year. And I know what you’re thinking: “Rob,” you’re thinking, “Why don’t you organize things a little more? And use some consistent criteria for your list?” Well, because fuck you, that’s why. Look: it’s New Year’s Eve, and I intend to be recklessly intoxicated within about 90 minutes from the time I press the “publish” button.

So without further (or any) ado: here’s my list!

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One thing I have learned over 36 years of reading comic book is that, for a character who has been a linchpin of Marvel Comics and who has had some of the greatest crossover success of any comic book character, appearing in cartoons, a prime time television show and three major motion pictures just in my lifetime… nobody ever seems to like The Hulk all that much at any given time.

There is no other major comic character that I can think of that has been rebooted, retrofitted and overhauled more often than The Hulk. Just off the top of my head, Hulk has been green and stupid, grey and stupid, grey and smart, grey and smart and a mafia enforcer, green again and a genius, green and stupid again, green and a gladiator, green and a world conqueror, and one time, green in white clown makeup getting his ass kicked by Batman. And when it comes to Bruce Banner, he has been Bruce Banner, David Banner, a wimpy genius, a tactical master, an abused child, a mad scientist, an itinerant wandering hobo, and the leader of government agencies. If a creator came into, say, Superman and said, “You know what would make Superman better? If Clark Kent was a street hustler, and if Superman wore doilies and shit napalm,” there would be nerd riots in the streets around every comic store… but when it comes to The Hulk, the attitude seems to be, “Fuck it. Can’t be any worse than what the last guy did.”

It seems that every time a new creator gets his hands on The Hulk, his or her first action is to look at what came before, boldly state, “Nah, that ain’t right,” and start slapping together a new current status quo. Just a month or so ago, Jason Aaron finished a run where Banner had been separated from Hulk, Banner went nuts and spent a while doing fruitless genetic experiments, a reasonably intelligent Hulk boned Red She-Hulk, Banner and Hulk reunited to fight Dr. Doom, all in a storyline that was packed with big, goofy action and fun. But that was a month and a creator ago, which in Hulk terms means it might as well have never happened.

So yes, the new creative team on Indestructible Hulk #1 has, indeed, looked at Aaron’s run and seemingly said, “Nah, that ain’t right,” and is taking Banner and Hulk in a different direction. Normally, this would be so much the norm it almost wouldn’t register; just another case of a new guy fucking around until he gets bored or sales tank and the next guy comes into to fuck around. However, this time around the writer is Mark Waid – you know, the guy who looked at 25 years of noir stories in Daredevil and said, “Nah, that ain’t right,” and turned the book in a direction that has generally been as entertaining as any Daredevil story since Frank Miller made Daredevil a noir character.

So while this is yet another reboot for Hulk, whether we needed it or not, Waid gives us an interesting new start, with a fresh take on Banner and some of his motivations, a good take on the tension that being around Banner can cause straight out of the Avengers movie, and a fresh “relationship” between Banner and The Hulk… not that it doesn’t have some problems.

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I don’t know what writer Jason Aaron has been drinking, smoking, snorting or inhaling recently, but I want some. Because with The Incredible Hulk #14, Aaron is two-for-two this week on producing some of the biggest, most fun comics I’ve read in recent memory.

I have run hot and cold on Aaron’s run of The Incredible Hulk; at times it has been an different kind of character study of both Banner and Hulk, using the gimmick of separating them, and then making them enemies in the same body in an active way that I’ve never seen before, that has been generally unique and somewhat fun. At other times it has, in my opinion, grossy misjudged the relationship between Banner and Hulk, leading to a cuddle scene in issue 7 that damn near put me off the book. But regardless of the variations, The Incredible Hulk has always been interesting, which has been enough to keep me around for long past the “next couple of issues” I figured it would when the book debuted last October, even despite the constantly rotating tag team of artists that have drawn the book since originally solicited artist Mark Silvestri apparently discovered that the term “monthly comic book” hadn’t become just a playful suggestion between 1997 and now.

Well, it all comes together in The Incredible Hulk #14, where Aaron gives us big, stupid, violent fun, from clingy Doombots, to horny mercenaries to monkey pilots to a feared mercenary known only as The Vegetable. Alternating between tension and silliness and violence and humor, this issue is just a Goddamned blast.

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We’ve known for quite some time that Brian Michael Bendis’s run on the various Avengers titles was coming to an end, and it was recently announced that current Fantastic Four writer Jonathan Hickman was going to be taking over the two main titles, Avengers and The New Avengers. But one of the burning questions leading into the transfer of power has been: after the Avengers Vs. X-Men event shakes out and Hickman takes over, who’s gonna be on which team?

Well, some of those questions have been answered, as Marvel has released the first three covers to Avengers, written by Hickman with art by Jerome Opena, picturing a pretty big gathering of superheroes (and, as did Pinocchio, I question the correct term for a gathering of multiple superheroes. For today, I will eschew “gaggle” and “pride,” and will go with “wad.”):

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In most of the ways that matter, The Incredible Hulk #8 is not a bad comic book at all. It’s a decent opening to a story told from Hulk’s point of view, where Banner makes moves neither Hulk nor we are privy to, with a reasonably effective guest spot by The Punisher, an interesting, if short-lived new villain, and fun violence inflicted in new and exciting ways. There’s a lot here that works.

However, the stuff that does work is somewhat hamstrung by a couple of significant weaknesses, including a general plot that is taken from the annals of Breaking Bad, if Giancarlo Esposito’s mother was actually an Alsatian Wolf Hound, and, well, the artist. In short: Steve Dillon is an excellent artist. An excellent artist who should be tazed in the groin before he even thinks of drawing The Hulk ever again.

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I know what you’re saying: “Rob,” you’re saying, “It has been a month since Amanda’s and your last podcast. What’s the occasion?” Which would be an excellent question had Avengers not opened in American theaters last Friday, so asking it makes you look foolish. So stop it. You’re better than that.

Here is the pure hell of being editors of a comics Web site: Amanda and I watched Avengers together Saturday afternoon, and rather than discuss it, we agreed to see it again on Sunday… and still not discuss it until we got home and did it into microphones. And discuss it we did; in this Avengers podcast, we discuss:

  • The Avengers 3D vs. 2D Experience from the point of view of people getting old with slowly failing vision!
  • The Hulk: Great Avenger or Greatest Avenger?
  • The Hulk can lift tanks, so why can’t he carry his own movie?
  • Our Friend, The Thrice-Nightly Screening, or: Why Can’t Johnny Edit?
  • Black Widow as best developed Avenger (insert your own boob joke here)!
  • Hawkeye: Redundant Avenger or Redundant Avenger?
  • I Can Has Justis Leeg Moovee Nao?, and:
  • AAAvengers: who do we want to bring up from the minors?

As always, if you intend to listen to this at work, we recommend you wear headphones unless you want your boss to hear phrases like, “Lokif***er,” “Mjolnir… is not the hammer,” or, “You just want a Dirty Ruffalo!” Besides, with headphones, if you listen really close, you can hear two grown comics geeks misidentifying S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Sharon Carter as Ms. Marvel!

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Enjoy the show, suckers!

(Avengers Booty Ass-emble via Kevin Bolk)

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