It’s been an speedy week, from the threat of yet another government shutdown, to calling other nations ugly names, to a 30-something minute span where it seemed like a large chunk of the population of Hawaii might be on deck to have a chance at their own Silver Age superhero origin stories. It was the kind of week when you just want to escape into a fat stack of comics books. You know, books about a disintegrating monarchy, the mistreatment of prisoners, and the literal vanishing of the Earth.

Okay, that sounds dire, but there were actually some interesting books this week, including the opening to a new Marvel event (you know, as part of Marvel Legacy! Which was supposed to mean an end to constant events!), a strong and surprisingly intriguing opening for one book’s new creative team… and a Tom King book, which always means some spirited conversation on this show. So we break down a few of the bigger books this week, including:

  • Mister Miracle #6, written by Tom King with art by Mitch Gerads
  • Avengers #675 (Part 1 of theĀ No Surrender event), written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub, with art by Pepe Larraz
  • Old Man Hawkeye #1, written by Ethan Sacks with art by Marco Checchetto, and
  • Suicide Squad #33, written by Si Spurrier with art by Fernando Pasarin!

As usual, this show contains spoilers, and was recorded live to tape with minimal editing. So if you’re looking for a comics show that ranges from speculation about meta-narrative in a comic about super villains to a story about one of the hosts eating a bug, you’ve come to the right place!

Thanks for listening, suckers!

anniversaryIt is the Labor Day long weekend here in the United States, and considering there was little comics news this week, we strongly considered taking a pass on a show this week. However! A quick peek at our Web site archives reminded us that today, September 4th, is the fifth anniversary of Crisis On Infinite Midlives on the Internet.

And we couldn’t let the occasion pass by unmarked. So we did a very brief show (at least a brief show for us) to reminisce about where and how we started, and how we wound up where we are.

And since that story isn’t a long and involved epic tale that will ring down through the ages to eventually become a three-hour Charlton Heston movie, we also talk a little bit about some Spider-Man: Homecoming casting news, The Attack of The Mushroom People (for some reason), and some of this week’s comics:

  • Suicide Squad Special: War Crimes, written by John Ostrander with art by Gus Vasquez,
  • Thunderbolts #4, written by Jim Zub with art by Jon Malin, and:
  • Uncanny Avengers #13, written by Gerry Duggan with art by Ryan Stegman!

Oh, by the way: that Jeph Loeb / Ed McGuinness Avengers title Rob was looking for was Avengers: X-Sanction from back in 2012.

And, as always, the disclaimers:

  • This is a shorter-than-usual episode, and it’s a little bit loose. We assure you: we’ll be back to spending two hours acting as if in love with the sounds of our own voices next week.
  • This show contains spoilers. If you don’t want to know that John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad is about a black-ops team of supervillains… well, you’re already screwed. But you are also warned.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. Your boss is already upset that the next long weekend is three months away; don’t go making them angrier by listening to this without headphones.

Thanks for listening (and reading) for the past five years, suckers!

pathfinder_7_cover-155712338Dear Dynamite Comics: please reconsider the font you use to number issues. With God as my witness, I thought Pathfinder #7 was actually a #1. It’s the only reason I bought it.

Because normally I would never buy a sword and sorcery book, at least not sight unseen. I have a mental block when it comes to genre stories about quests and swords and paladins and magic users. You can give me a story about a hero in spandex attacking a giant monster, the same story with a hero with a laser pistol and a giant robot, and the same story with a dude with a sword and a dragon, and I will pick stories one and two almost every time. I’m the same when it comes to role playing games: Shadowrun and Call of Cthuhlu, yes; Dungeons & Dragons, no.

But I review comics, so I bought what I thought was a first issue, because frankly, I need to file copy almost every day, and hey: you never know. But while I was disappointed when I saw that it was actually a seventh issue, my spirits were lifted when I saw it was written by Jim Zub, the writer of Skullkickers, a sword-based adventure story that is a favorite outlier in my eyes due to the presence of a gun, and metric buttloads of solid humor.

Pathfinder #7, however, is no Skullkickers. It is a far more conventional D&D-style story, by which I mean it is very much like a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Zub gives us the well-balanced party of adventurers, cast as if by a demanding DM, with modern-style dialogue and some of the classic obstacles and antagonists of that game.

It is also a well-executed entry point for new readers, introducing a new adventure for the party, demonstrating internal conflict, and teasing one of the great battles one can find in a game of D&D.

You know, if you like that sort of thing.

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?

We haven’t talked a lot about Skullkickers here because frankly, it flies a little under our radar despite being one damn fun comic book. It’s a story about two fantasy adventurers – one an alcoholic dwarf, the othe an alcoholic classic Conan type, only with a foul mouth and a gun – for hire to the highest bidder. Or any bidder. Think Lord of The Rings with a quualude habit. Or a messy, serialized Uwe Boll film that’s actually fun to watch.

The Image book became a hit quickly, selling out its early issues quickly enough that for a while it could be hard to find those comics to catch up… not that you need a lot of backstory to understand “Drunks… monster(s)… FIGHT!” The difficulty in hunting down back issues is, however, no longer an excuse for not checking the book out, because creator Jim Zub is releasing the book from the first issue on the Web. A page a day. For nothing. Gratis. Bupkis. Which is not a business plan that the protagonists of the book would embrace.

What the hell, Jim?