Some weeks, you don’t record a podcast when you’re ready. You record when you’re awake.

Rob had a long weekend of late nights being on call for his day gig, leading to a slim, two-hour window where he’d had enough coffee to be able to say something longer than his own name, yet not enough liquor to actively slur those things. And this strange state put him in a mood to rant. About the golden days of Marvel after the bankruptcy and before Civil War, when they were willing to take chances. About acceptable Mark Millar stories. About how Batman’s most driving personality trait might be hoarding. And, God help us, how there might be redeeming qualities to Secret Empire.

So strap in: this is a weird one, and we talk about all of those things, plus:

  • Old Man Logan #25, written by Ed Brisson with art by Mike Deodato, Jr.,
  • Secret Empire #4, written by Nick Spencer with art by Leinil Francis Yu,
  • Dark Days: The Forge #1, written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with art by Jim Lee, Andy Kubert and John Romita Jr., and:
  • The Defenders #1, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by David Marquez!

Ah, we have disclaimers:

  • This show contains spoilers. If you don’t want to know Captain America’s political affiliation on Secret Empire, well, you’re not alone, but you have also been warned.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. We talk about Batman being a Howard Hughes style hoarder. That involves Mason Jars. You want your mom to know what’s in those jars? Then get some earbuds.

Thanks for listening, suckers!

BatmanVsSupermanVsDarkKnightSan Diego Comic-Con was this week, and for the first time in nine years, we were not there. And not being at SDCC is a weird experience for us, so we spend a little time talking about how technology like Twitter and YouTube have made it possible to learn most of the big, important news from the show floor, while not in any way reproducing the little experiences that you can only get straight from the scene. Like being accosted by evangelicals, or getting intoxicated on local beers. Sometimes at the same time.

However, we did have our own personal lifeline to the show floor: Los Angeles comedian Gariana Abeyta, who guested on our favorite SDCC 2014 episode, and who managed to snag four-day passes to this year’s convention. Gariana was good enough to call into the show this morning, and it is a short glimpse not only into some hard news about some Hall H events, but into how the mind starts to go after four days of non-stop spectacle.

One of the big items to come from Comic-Con was the first full Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, which was officially released just hours after the Warner Bros. panel. And Amanda and I spend some time breaking it down, discussing the implied backstory of Batman (including the fate of at least one Robin), Superman’s questionable upbringing, and Lex Luthor’s terrible, terrible Kip Winger-pelt toupee.

We also discuss: Civil War #1, written by Charles Soule, with art by Leinil Francis Yu!

And, as usual, the disclaimers:

  • We record this show live to tape, with minimal editing (although this episode, we cut Gariana’s call in from an earlier recording). While this might mean a looser comics podcast than you are used to, it also means that anything can happen. Like figuring out where Superman likes to whip out his Codex.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out warnings ahead of time, you should assume that we will ruin the fact that in Civil War, what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. Unless you want your employer to learn the word that we’ve decided will keep us from mainstream fame and fortune, you should get some headphones.

And, in case you missed it, here’s that SDCC 2015 Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer:

Thanks for listening, suckers!

tmp_trial_of_the_punisher_1_cover_2013-628953696It turns out I missed The Punisher. Go figure.

Sure, we’ve had a monthly dose of The Punisher in Thunderbolts, but I think we all know that, as fun as that book sometimes is, that’s not really The Punisher. Sure, The Punisher is a member of the Marvel Universe, and we have seen him work briefly with Spider-Man and Daredevil over the years… but The Punisher doesn’t really work with anyone. Sure, it’s a guy named Frank Castle with a machine gun, but it’s not really The Punisher. The Punisher works alone; he sits in a grimy apartment or in some van with a pile of guns and a list of names – a lot of those names are crossed out already, but names – and when he’s gone, you only know he was there from the pile of corpses and shell casings. You certainly don’t find Frank Castle’s name on some government paycheck dated any later than 1969.

Greg Rucka knew how The Punisher was supposed to be, and that’s part of why he left his run on the book. And it’s been a while since we’ve seen that version of The Punisher… but we’ve got a short dose of it now.

The Trial of The Punisher #1, written by Marc Guggenheim with art by Leinil Yu, is The Punisher that I’ve been missing for a while. Not that this team has Punisher running around in a skull shirt smoking bad guys, but instead they have him in lockup, awaiting trial for the murder of an Assistant District Attorney, with criminals all around him and not a single teammate in a red and black spandex costume in sight.

And it is more refreshing than I thought it was gonna be.

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.