miracleman_annual_1_coverThere are two types of people in this world: superhero comic fans who love Miracleman by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, and superhero comic fans who haven’t read all of it yet. Rob is in column A, and Amanda is in column B. Which means that they had very different reactions upon hearing that Marvel has announced that they will be publishing a Miracleman annual, with stories by Grant Morrison and Peter Milligan. This announcement begs the question: should new creators be allowed to jump into a story like Miracleman, which is a combined yet singular vision between two epic creators? And being two different types of people, Amanda and Rob have differing views on the announcement.

But there is more to comics than a couple of new short stories tacked onto a 30-year-old narrative. So Amanda and Rob also discuss:

  • The Death of Wolverine #1, written by Charles Soule with pencils by Steve McNiven,
  • Original Sin #8, written by Jason Aaron with art by Mike Deodato and
  • Big Trouble In Little China #4, written by Eric Powell and drawn by Brian Churilla!

And now the legalese:

  • We record this show live to tape. While this might mean a slightly looser show than your normal comics podcast, it also means that anything can happen.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to throw out a verbal warning before we cut loose, consider this fair warning.
  • Amanda and Rob use adult, explicit language, and therefore this show is not safe for work. The janitors portrayed in Miracleman had Walkman headphones for work, and that was 1984. What’s your excuse?
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walking_dead_dead_insideThis 4th of July weekend, we got sucked into the AMC marathon of The Walking Dead, and were surprised how binge-watching the whole thing from the beginning changed our opinion of the show. So we talked about that extensively, along with:

  • The NBC Constantine pilot leaked to the Internet this week. Amanda and I saw it, and have some fairly strong opinions as to what worked (Matt Ryan as John Constantine) and what didn’t (writing, pacing, too much exposition, not enough mystery, no local flavor, and some other stuff),
  • Original Sin #5, written by Jason Aaron with art by Mike Deodato, and:
  • Rocket Raccoon #1, written and drawn by Skottie Young!

And now, the legalese:

  • We record the show live to tape. That means a few stuttered words more than you’re used to in a comics / genre culture podcast, but it also means that anything can happen.
  • The show contains spoilers. Some weeks it’s a few, some it’s a lot. This is one of the latter. Be forewarned.
  • Amanda and I use explicit, adult language, so this podcast is not safe for work. Unless your boss likes phrases like, “Preemptive dribble of patriotism,” wear headphones.
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twilight_ruined_comic_conIt is Sunday, which means another episode of the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Podcast! This one recorded after the depths of a sugar coma!

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The recent Slate article by Ruth Graham condemning young adult literature as being something adults should be ashamed to read… and which pretty much out-and-out condemns genre YA fiction as “transparently trashy stuff”
    • During the conversation, we reference a novel called Submergence, by J. M. Ledgard
    • Further during the conversation, I maintain that David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is a genre sci-fi novel. This may anger those who like to haul their copies around college coffee houses in an effort to look smart and try to score coed tail, but I am not the only one who thinks so.
  • MTV’s announcement of the MTVu Fan Awards during the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, MTV’s genre and comics cred (which they utterly ignore in the announcement of said event), and whether Linkin Park is the right band to play SDCC when Anthrax (who did a song about Judge Dredd) will be right around the corner
  • Original Sin #3, written by Jason Aaron with art by Mike Deodato, and
  • Big Trouble In Little China #1, written by The Goon‘s Eric Powell with art by Brian Churilla!

And, as usual, our disclaimers:

  • This show is recorded live to tape with no editing, and as such may contain more pregnant pauses, looping logic, repeated assertions, and references to “Diarrhea Island” than you are accustomed to in a comics / pop culture podcast
  • This show contains spoilers. We make an effort to announce them ahead of time, but as to whether we are successful, well, see the point about “no editing.” Be particularly careful when it comes to our discussion of Original Sin #3.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is not safe for work. While I might personally think Beats By Dre are an abominable waste of money, I will ignore their use in the listening of this show.
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x_men_days_of_future_past_posterIt’s Sunday, and even though it’s the long Memorial Day weekend here in the States, it’s still time for another episode of the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Show!

In this week’s episode we talk about:

  • X-Men: Days of Future Past! We discuss how much we enjoyed the movie, some of the cooler moments in the flick, but most importantly: we try and take apart where the film fits into the X-Men movie franchise continuity, and whether or not any of the other movies can even exist with this one stuck at the end!
  • The recently announced title Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice! We talk about why the title makes sense, how a desire to make The Dark Knight Returns might have led to decisions director Zack Snyder made in Man of Steel, and how this title could have come directly from the name of one of our earlier podcasts!
  • Forever Evil #7, by Geoff Johns and David Finch
  • MPH #1, by Mark Millar and Duncan Fegredo
  • Original Sin #2, by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato, and:
  • Why if 3D movies are bad, falling asleep during an IMAX 3D showing of Godzilla is worse (spoiler alert: it involves waking up to Godzilla shrieking at you through 100 subwoofers.

And now the legalese:

  • This podcast uses adult, vulgar language, and is not safe for work. This week’s hook joke is about penis tinting, and things really go downhill from there. Wear headphones. You are warned.
  • This show was recorded live to tape, and may contain awkward pauses, the use of the word “f**k” as a comma, and truly vile humor that any reasonable show would edit out.
  • This show is chock-full of spoilers. We try to warn you ahead of time, but there’s no getting around it: we are ruiners.
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tmp_original_sin_dead_watcher1782629803We are well and truly into a new year, which is a downer on a few fronts. All the holiday vacation time is burned away, which means we will be forced to go to work in this shitty weather (it is currently eight balmy degrees outside the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office, and that’s degrees Fahrenheit, not those wussy degrees Centigrade that you whimpering pleaders overseas use to try to convince people you’re not wandering blithely through simple sweater weather). And further, it means that the Big Two are gonna start announcing their big summer crossover events.

And, since we have been publishing over the last two and a half years or so, this has not necessarily been great news. Just in the last year, we have been hyped for, and then had to all but suffer through, Age of Ultron and Infinity from Marvel and The Trinity War and Forever Evil from DC, and they have not particularly grabbed us when they weren’t busy actively irritating us with arbitrary epic plots that often seemed more interested in involving everyone in the universe than making it clear why we should give a fuck about anyone involved (With God as my witness, I began pulling for Thanos about 2/3rds of the way through Infinity because at least I knew what he was trying to accomplish and why).

So I have been waiting without any particular enthusiasm to start hearing announcements about the upcoming big events that will change everything… so imagine my surprise when I heard about Marvel’s first big plans for 2014, and actually got a little excited, in spite of myself. Because while yes, the upcoming Original Sin four-month event involves a huge cast and some cosmic elements, at its heart, it’s a simple murder mystery.

A simple murder mystery written by Jason Aaron, who has been writing some of the most fun and character-driven books at Marvel over the last couple of years, and drawn by Mike Deodato, Jr., who is one of my favorite artists working for Marvel today.

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avengers_11_cover_2013 Avengers #11 has all the components of an interesting, short-term change in direction to keep the book from getting bogged down in giant international and even cosmic events. A one-and-done that still services the longer story Hickman has been spinning out, this issue has several members of the team go undercover in an overseas resort to find out what AIM is up to and discovering that they are getting ready to auction off a superpowered weapon in a particular form. It allows the characters to show some humor, demonstrate how they play off each other when they’re out of costume, and try to deal with an independent nation-state that has diplomatic immunity when the team is not in a position to just use their powers and let loose.

So Avengers #11 really has all the hallmarks of a cool, quirky, one-of-a-kind issue, and that is good after several issues of giant stakes and a lot of bombast. However, it is also bad, because Avengers #11 also bears the hallmarks of Justice League International #16 from August, 1988. Where members of the team go undercover in an overseas resort to find out what Bialya is up to and discovering that they are getting ready to auction off a superpowered weapon in a particular form. And they show humor while demonstrating how they play off each other out of costume. And they try to deal with an independent nation-state. That has diplomatic immunity.

Seriously: there are about a half-dozen obvious parallels between Avengers #11 and Justice League International #16 and #17. And hey: these things happen. There are no new ideas under the sun, and I take it as a given that any similarities between these two books is either a matter of parallel thinking or simple homage, because while I think Hickman’s writing is often clinical and bloodless, I have never seen it be anything but relentlessly original. And I will therefore try to review Avengers #11 on its own merits as much as I can… but that will honestly only go so far. Because the fact of the matter is that my entire experience of reading this book was colored by that feeling of familiarity, to the point where the first thing I did after finishing it was to dig out my Justice League International trades to find the issue to see if my instincts were right (if you’re curious, the issue is in JLI volume three).

So yeah: I’ll try to review Avengers #11 on its own, but it’s gonna be like reminiscing about a high school misadventure with an old buddy over beers: it’s fun to revisit, but it’s not like you can forget living it the first time, when you were young.

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miracleman_1_eclipse_coverBack in the halcyon days of 1993, (not the Halcion days, at least not that I’ll admit on a public Web site), when Kurt Cobain was alive (if you can call cohabitating with Courtney Love living), a man could light a cigarette in a bar where people were disintegrating their livers with cheap domestic bourbons without someone getting all self-righteous about their health, and Eclipse Comics was still a going concern. A going concern with, on paper at least, the free and uncontested right to publish Miracleman.

Back then, Neil Gaiman had blessed a miniseries to fill in some of the gaps as to what happened between the end of Alan Moore’s run and the start of Gaiman’s The Golden Age arc. The miniseries, Miracleman Triumphant, was to be written by Fred Burke – the writer of, well, some stuff you’ve never heard of –  with art by recent New Avengers artist Mike Deodato and inks by Jason Temujin. Here’s what the story was to cover:

Miracleman Triumphant #1, entitled “Oracles,” begins where Miracleman #22 leaves off, focusing on the aftermath of the annual Carnival memorializing Kid Miracleman’s slaughter of London in Miracleman #15. The opening pages were to show Miracleman, disguised as an ordinary human, surveying the closing moments of the Carnival, wondering to himself if the changes he has brought to the world were the right ones. While ruminating, he stumbles onto a flier advertising a family of fortune-tellers and, interested in their opinion, seeks them out.

That miniseries was in the works when Eclipse Comics choked on its own debt, going down with all hands and throwing the rights to Miracleman into a legal black hole that would make Stephen Hawking scream in existential horror were he to contemplate it.

And that was pretty much that; sure, the odd partial page has popped up now and again, but not much in the way of completed art… that is, until this morning. That’s when Temujin posted the latest of four pages that he had finished inking before Eclipse went out of the comics business and into the asset auctions business. There’s no dialogue attached, but considering that these are pages from one of my favorite comic sagas, drawn by one of my favorite comic artists, I figured they’re worth making note of. And you can check them out after the jump.

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Editor’s Note: Those spoilers are some bad mother – shut your mouth! I’m just talking about spoilers…

Well, that’s it. With New Avengers #34, Brian Michael Bendis is (for now) finished with the Avengers books. And, as he did in the core Avengers book, he uses this issue as an opportunity to repair all the toys he played with and damaged during his time on the floor, and clears the decks for Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting to give New Avengers its third first issue in less than ten years, making New Avengers only one comeback short of Lindsey Lohan in that same time period.

With multiple comic series, crossover events, and an Avengers movie under our belts since Bendis started on Avengers, it’s easy to forget that this all really started about a decade ago, when I walked into my local comic store where they know me by name and ask me to stop yanking at my belt and screeching, “Avengers Disassemble!”, and saw a book named Alias that I bought for Amanda, thinking it was a comic adaptation of the new Jennifer Garner ABC TV series. It most certainly was not. It was a crime story taking places on the dirty fringes of the Marvel Universe, involving B-Lister Scott Lang and the first real rehabilitation of Luke Cage since his introduction (we’re gonna claim convenient amnesia about Brian Azzarello’s attempt to turn Cage into a mix of 50 Cent and Leone’s Man With No Name).

Bendis brought Jessica Jones and Luke Cage with him into The New Avengers, and it is somewhat fitting that he closes out his run with them here… with a pretty exciting and well-drawn mystical battle thrown in to boot.

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Editor’s Note: With great spoilers, comes great douchebaggery. I learned that lesson from my Uncle James. Yup. Good old Uncle James Beam. Died sticking up some old fart at gunpoint.

The final four pages of New Avengers #27 are amongst the most affecting and most emotional of the entirety of the Avengers Vs. X-Men event to date. It humanizes Hope in a way that has been missing in the event in favor of showing her alternate between a willful little whining brat and a cocky willful little whining brat, and it gives Spider-Man not only a logical and effective (if small) role in a cosmic apocalypse that should be completely out of his league, but it distills, in just a few short panels, the essence of the character and what he’s about better than six hours of Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies did. And it is Goddamned gorgeous to look at, besides.

Unfortunately, this is a 20-page story. Which further unfortunately means that what we got here is sixteen pages of decompressed life support for those spectacular closing four pages, that spins out a story conceit based purely on what was probably a simple lack of costume and coloring design communication between John Byrne and Gil Kane back in the mid-70s. On the fortunate end of the equation, those are sixteen pages of decompressed life support written by Brian Michael Bendis, meaning that they are filled with entertaining dialogue and some decent character beats… even while the best part of the book could have been presented as an interlude in the main event’s title.

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UPDATE, 3/3/2012, 9 a.m.: Via Twitter exchange with Mike Deodato on the division of art labor between him and Will Conrad:

@mikedeodato – FYI: @willconrad didn’t ink me on NA#22. He drew these awesome pages: 5,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17 and I did the rest. Thanks, buddy!:)

@InfiniteMidlife – Thanks, @mikedeodato. I’m curious: did @willconrad pencil those pages with a common inker for the book? I couldn’t see a difference in style

@mikedeodato@InfiniteMidlife We ink our own stuff.

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Here’s the ugly and sad truth that DC Comics will not want to hear and will ignore even if they do: when it comes to superhero team books, The New Avengers is, bar none, the most consistently good one you can currently put your hands on. From the plot to the characters to the dialogue to the art, this book blows Justice League out of the water… and I say this despite the fact that New Avengers #22 continues the Dark Avengers 2 storyline, which just by existing makes me so crazy with rage that I want to catch a flight so I can chloroform writer Brian Michael Bendis and draw a misshapen Norman Osborn wavy haircut on his lumpy bald noggin.

This issue continues the aftermath of Osborn’s and his Dark Avengers’ public relations assault on our heroes, which has led to a bunch of very expensive power-armored New York SWAT cops (Hey, it’s New York in the 616; let’s assume Mayor Jameson’s reduction of the Moustache Tax hit the sweet spot on the Laffer Curve) waiting outside Avengers Mansion to arrest the crew. Luke Cage, however, has some obvious and understandable issues with police authority, so fisticuffs ensue. Meanwhile, various members of the Dark Avengers are engaged in a race to see who can sneakfuck Osborn the fastest, and some members of the New Avengers have realized that S.H.I.E.L.D. liason Victoria Hand – former right-hand woman for Osborn in the Dark Reign days – might have been giving the team a Victoria Job. Wait, that’s not right…

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