As we move slowly into convention season, there is kind of a dearth of interesting comics news to work through some weeks. Oh sure, we could weigh in on Marvel’s comments at ComicsPRO that the reason their sales are down is because of DC shipping cheaper books, but that’s a little inside baseball even for us. And besides: we all know that the people at Marvel will say absolutely anything if it means Issac Perlmutter turns his Sauron doom-eye back toward Kevin Feige.

So this week, we stick with talking this weeks’ comics, including:

  • Justice League of America #1, written by Steve Orlando with art by Ivan Reis,
  • Darkness Visible #1, written by Mike Carey and Arvind Ethan David with art by Brendan Cahill,
  • The Old Guard #1, written by Greg Rucka with art by Leandro Fernandez
  • Hulk #3, written by Mariko Tamaki with art by Nico Leon, and:
  • The Amazing Spider-Man #24, written by Dan Slott and Christos Gage with art by Giuseppe Camuncoli!

However, the disclaimers:

  • This show contains spoilers. If you don’t want to know how many of this week’s comic books actually feature The Hulk (hint: it’s one fewer than you’d think!), then consider yourself forewarned.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. Let’s just say that Rob curses enough about The Clone Conspiracy this week to make the phrase “Ben Reilly” an obscenity by association. So consider using earbuds.

Thanks for listening, suckers!

doctor_who_capaldiThis week was the much-heralded premiere of Doctor Who season 8, with Peter Capaldi’s first turn as The Doctor. Like most geeks, Amanda and I watched the show, with our special guests, long-time Crisis On Infinite Midlives contributors Trebuchet and Pixiestyx, and spent some time talking about the episode itself, and Doctor Who as a whole. Between us all, we have a wide range of experience and interest in Doctor Who, from one recent and casual fan to one who’s been watching since Tom Baker was broadcast of UHF PBS stations in the early 90s, so it made for a pretty interesting conversation, even with our crippling, debilitating hangovers!

We also discuss:

  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 #6, written by Christos Gage with art by Karl Moline, and
  • Multiversity #1, written by Grant Morrison with art by Ivan Reis (and considering Rob is the only hardcore superhero fan with a soft spot for Morrison, this gets a little contentious)!

And now the disclaimers:

  • This show was recorded live to tape. While this might mean it’s a little looser than some comics podcasts, it also means that anything can happen! Including the rank mockery of Matt Smith!
  • This show not only contains spoilers, but it is supersaturated with spoilers. So while we try to throw in warnings ahead of time, consider this a big, blanket, spoilery-woilery warning.
  • Everyone involved in this show uses explicit, adult language, so the show is not safe for work. Even the BBC, which allows full frontal nudity, would bleep this show. So get yourself some headphones.

Enjoy the show, suckers!

justice_league_23_cover_2013Editor’s Note: But evil hasn’t been imprisoned, Pandora, only spoiled!

So here we are: with Justice League #23, and the final chapter of The Trinity War. Now, let’s take a minute and look back at how we got here.

Two years ago next week, DC Comic released the final issue of Flashpoint, which closed out the DC Universe as it had been since Crisis On Infinite Earths back in 1986, and ushering in the New 52 era. And in both books – and in every new first issue that DC released in September, 2011 – DC Editorial made sure that we were shown the mysterious hooded woman (who was eventually identified as Pandora), with the implication being that she had some major part in the implosion of the pre-rebooted (Pre-booted? The Old 52? Pre-52? Post-Crisis Trapped In The Body Of A – ah, fuck it) DC Universe, and that her story would give us the real skinny behind the whole shakeup.

Over the intervening two years, we learned that Pandora was part of a troika of supernatural beings, including The Question and The Phantom Stranger, and that she was trying to dispose of her box (this is the space where I deleted seven different childish jokes) to eliminate evil. Which led us to The Trinity War, where all the members of the various Justice Leagues (which means basically every hero in the DC Universe minus O.M.A.C.) came together with Pandora as a major player, and the hopes that we might finally get an answer about Pandora’s role in the reboot, once the story ended.

So did we? Nah! Turns out Geoff Johns had a surprise up his sleeve for the ending of The Trinity War! He didn’t write one!

Somewhere, Joss Whedon is thanking God he cast his lot with Marvel Comics.

justice_league_22_cover_2013-136196065Look: I am never gonna hate too much on a comic book that gives me Superman fighting with Captain Marvel. And yes, I know that DC wants me to call him Shazam now. But I am old and crochety, and frankly? I am proud of the self-education I gave myself, back in the days of the 1970s Shazam! Saturday morning TV show, to call the character “Captain Marvel” rather than “Shazam.” Because I didn’t want to look stupid to the older comic book fans who lived on my block. And they did call me stupid when I called that guy “Shazam.” You hearing me, DC Comics? You listening me to digress like a sonofabitch?

Anyway. Justice League #22, the opening of the long-teased The Trinity War crossover event, gives me a good couple of pages of Superman and Captain Marvel tuning each other up. And as someone who remembers, as a young kid, waiting feverishly for Justice League of America #137 to show up in the spinner rack of my local corner grocery store (where they knew me by name and asked me to stop pretending the lime Ring Pops were Green Lantern power rings if I wasn’t gonna pay for one), seeing that makes me remember my youth and makes me predisposed to like a comic book.

And I did like Justice League #22… up to a point. As a kickoff point for a big crossover, it gives us a few examples of solid and believable characterization (and a few that aren’t – would someone at DC decide what kind of person Superman really is in the New 52?), it drops enough groundwork to let us believe that we’ll finally get the full story on Pandora – the mystery woman from all the initial first issues of the New 52, remember? – and if gives some good, solid, hot, sweet, superhero-on-superhero action.

If it has an Achilles’ Heel, it is that it is currently 2013. Which means that any continuity-wide story that features half of its superheros kicking the crap out of the other half is doomed to feel kinda like a lift from Marvel’s Civil War, or last year’s Avengers Vs. X-Men.

constantine_1_cover_2013Editor’s Note: I’m the one who steps from the shadows, all trenchcoat and cigarette and arrogance, ready to deal with the spoilers.

Let’s start by talking about that cover. It is terrible.

It’s not terrible in a visual sense; it is a perfectly serviceable Ivan Reis cover with a sense of dynamism, and enough flashy lights to attract the casual browser’s eye as he or she wanders through the comic store. So from a pure advertising standpoint, the cover does its job. The problem with the cover is that, for a Hellblazer fan trying Constantine #1 in the hopes that this new title will deliver something even close to what they loved for about a quarter century in the earlier series, it delivers the worst message in the world.

Hellblazer’s John Constantine was a dude who worked in the shadows, mostly by reputation, braggadocio and ruthless cynicism, who used the traditional magics of sigils and binding when he needed to use it at all. The cover to Constantine #1 advertises Constantine as a refugee magic user from Diablo III, chucking force bolts around like there’s some pimply teenager driving him with a joystick while mashing the A button.

The cover promises John Constantine as fantasy action hero, throwing around “magic” ways that Gandalf would find ostentatious and flamboyant. It hints at the polar opposite of what Hellblazer fans like, and it gave me a sinking feeling in my stomach… particularly since I know that it wasn’t the first cover planned for the book. The original cover featured Constantine in a graveyard surrounded by monsters, before it was replaced by this monstrosity… and even then, someone made the decision to airbrush the cigarette out of Constantine’s mouth, further emasculating the character. Hell, based on that carefully-placed force bolt, for all I know they actually took John’s balls as well.

This was the wrong cover if anyone at DC editorial wanted to attract Hellblazer readers in the wake of that book’s cancellation. It is the equivalent of a bar pulling all the single malt scotch off their shelves and replacing it with Four Loco; sure, scotch isn’t a taste for everybody, but you ain’t attracting Islay aficionados with cans of Teenager-Punches-Cops juice.

And finally, this cover is a huge misfire because it commits the cardinal sin of comic covers: it in no way reflects what’s happening in the actual comic book. Constantine #1 has no force bolt slinging action hero in it. Sure, there’s some more straight-up action in the book than you’d find in Hellblazer, including more ostentatious magic of the force bolt variety than you’d find in the original title. But none of it comes from John Constantine, who writers Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes seem to have a pretty decent handle on.

My point is, for an old Hellblazer fan, there is enough good character stuff in this book to make it worth checking out, despite that Godawful “Pew! Pew! Pew!” cover.

justice_league_15_cover_2012Since last year’s New 52 relaunch, Geoff Johns has made it his personal mission to rehabilitate Aquaman’s reputation. Which is a somewhat Quixotic task, since Aquaman never had much of a reputation to begin with. I remember years ago, when superhero Underoos were finally released for sale, my mom brought me to the store late enough that all that were left were Aquaman Underoos… and I told her that I would rather parade around the schoolyard in tightie-whities than suffer the indignity of having to pretend to be Aquaman. I was 28. But that’s not the point.

But hey, everyone has an unlikely dream that they harbor deep in their hearts, and I don’t begrudge Johns his, even though I don’t think he’s quite delivered on it thus far. Hey, I have the secret fantasy that someday I, a bloated and drunken 41-year-old, can smack the home run that wins the Boston Red Sox their third World Series victory since 1918 despite never having played even Little League baseball, so I’m not gonna rank Johns out too much for his dream to make Aquaman cool, despite it arguably having a lower chance at success than mine.

After fifteen months of chasing the dragon, Johns has begin phase two of his unlikely Aquaman resuscitation (actually, given Aquaman’s inability to carry his own book for longer than seven years despite more than 70 years of history, perhaps “presuscitation” is a better word) by making Aquaman the focus of a big Justice League event, Throne of Atlantis. So finally, Johns has his main chance to give Aquaman some relevance, not only in his own title but in the DC Universe proper, by making the poor, fishfucking sonofabitch the focus of a story… but for it to work, the story better be a good one.

The Sudafed finally mixed with the Jack Daniels and made a mellow, Earth-friendly body-meth, which gave us enough energy to complete Episode 3 of the Crisis on Infinite Midlive’s Podcast: The Fistula of Justice!

Thrill to two drunk sick people as they talk about the impact of the New 52, DC Comics’ new Neilsen Survey (Which sadly didn’t include the obvious question: Orange nip slip: horrifying moment or the most horrifying moment?), the overriding post-Catwoman question: are superhero comics sexist (“What’s wrong with being sexist?” “Not sexy, sex… Jesus, you really are a monster, aren’t you?”), and our sleeper favorite books of the week!

And to answer some questions from the show that are enigmas, wrapped in riddles, covered in mucous:

Enjoy the show, sucker! And if you don’t, just hit that “Don’t Look” link up there!

Promo image for DC Comics Aquaman 1, by Geoff Johns and Ivan ReisToday marks the last drop of DC’s New 52, which includes Aquaman #1, written by Geoff Johns with pencils by Ivan Reis (Who penciled Johns’ scripts on Green Lantern and the Blackest Night event). Which means yesterday Johns was making the rounds of the reputable comics sites (Hello? Is this thing on? It is? Fuck you, then!) trying to drum up hype for the book. Why? Because the book is fucking AQUAMAN. Without Johns’ hype? There would BE NO HYPE. None more hype. Hypeless.

So lay it on us, Geoff: why should we give Aquaman a shot?

…we just talked about [Aquaman] himself and why he does everything, how he feels about it, what he thinks when people crack the Aquaman jokes that are extremely easy to make. It’s all about responsibility and standing tall for what you believe in and not worrying about what other people think. It’s all about being an underdog. I think it’s much more based on stuff we deal with than any old comics.

Ah, yes. Because if I had a nickel for every time I was mocked for my green spandex pants, orange shirt and public affinity for “Sending a telepathic summons to the sperm whale,” well… I would have a nickel, because once would be enough to convince me that suicide was the only viable option.

Okay, all kidding aside, Geoff: what do you have in mind for Aquaman?