Marvel Studios’s latest Netflix series, The Punisher, dropped all at once a couple of weeks ago, and it was, in a lot of ways, very different than the series that have been delivered up until now. Sure, the other series dealt with adult themes – Jessica Jones tackled being a survivor of abuse, Luke Cage dealt with racism, and Iron Fist took on the perils of being a boring rich white guy no one likes – but none of those series featured a protagonist who stabs people in the neck just to watch them die.

So we spend a chunk of the show talking about The Punisher, how it handles themes of PTSD and how war destroys not only soldiers, but also their families… and how those weighty issues map to a story that delivers the cheap thrill of watching Jersey mooks having their legs broken by a man sometimes known as “Shooty Batman.”

But the money of the week is the release of the first issue of Doomsday Clock #1, written by Geoff Johns with art by Gary Frank. This is the real beginning of DC Comics not only sequelizing Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen, but putting characters from the DC Universe onto a collision course with that universe. While we’ve both been enjoying DC: Rebirth, Rob is a huge fan of the original Watchmen, and thus has been DREADING the release of this book. So we break it down, and come to a couple of surprising conclusions.

This episode was recorded live to tape, with minimal editing, so if you’re looking for a podcast where the hosts are pretty convinced they came up with the moniker, “Shooty Batman,” you’ve come to the right place!

Thanks for listening, suckers!

sebelaheadshotWe’re joined this week by Eisner Award nominated writer Christopher Sebela, who was gracious enough to spend well over an hour talking to us about his upcoming Boom! Studios comic We(l)come Back (with art by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer), as well as his work on High Crimes, Dead Letters, and Escape From New York.

Christopher talked with us about not only about the books themselves, but about some of the personal experiences he brought to the characters in them, some of the storytelling methods he favors in some books (and why he doesn’t use them in others), and how he feels lucky to have worked with the artists he has. He also explained to us why it’s so expensive to get vomiting drunk in Chicago, why we were suckers to get vomiting drunk in Chicago, and why he favors writing about damaged people like the kind who like to get vomiting drunk in Chicago. It was an interesting and wide-ranging conversation, and we’re pleased to bring it to you.

(And by the way: the first issue of We(l)come Back is excellent, and you should really add it to your pulls. Trust us on this. The Diamond order code is JUN151070).

Amanda and Rob also discuss:

  • Star Lord And Kitty Pryde #1 by written by Sam Humphries with art by and Alti Firmansyah, and:
  • The Punisher #20, written by Nathan Edmondson with art by Mitch Gerads!

And, the usual disclaimers:

  • We record this show live to tape, with minimal editing (Although in this case, we recorded and edited the interview before the rest of the show). While this might mean a looser comics podcast than you are used to, it also means that anything can happen. Like a discussion of the phrase “sentient fedora.”
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out a warning ahead of time, be aware that a book titled The Punisher: Final Punishment might feature the Punisher’s final punishment.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. If you’ve read Christopher Sebela’s work, you know that he knows some swear words. If you’ve listened to our show, you know that we arguably know a few more. Get some headphones.

Thanks for listening, suckers!

c2e2_logoWe’re a bit later than we originally intended, but proud to present the first part of our C2E2 2015 panel recaps. But these aren’t your normal panel rundowns; these are chock full of audio from the panels, including quotes direct from Dan Slott, Brian Azzarello, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Charles Soule, and a bunch of other creators!

We start by going through the Secret Wars: Last Days panel from Marvel, where the panel talks about the Last Days miniseries leading to Secret Wars for characters like Ms. Marvel, Black Widow, Silver Surfer, Punisher, Ant-Man and the Inhumans. While there’s not a lot in the way of revelations in this panel, there are one or two really interesting new tidbits… as well as the name a of supervillain that, by the end of the episode, will haunt your nightmares.

We then recap the New DC Universe panel, where the post-Convergence storylines of books including Harley Quinn, Starfire, Bizarro and Catwoman, as well as some details about the upcoming We Are Robin, are laid out. This was the panel where Dark Knight 3: The Master Race was made, and we have that audio (and our opinions) as well.

We plan to tape and release our recap episode about the Batman panel (where Scott Snyder talks openly about the Bat-Bunny) tomorrow or Friday, so stay tuned!

Thanks for listening, suckers!

tmp_punisher_1_cover_2014-383018811So it’s only been about a year or so since the conclusion of Greg Rucka’s run on The Punisher – a run that we very much liked here at Crisis On Infinite Midlives. And in the meantime, we have had Punisher running around with The Thunderbolts, which has been fun but not exactly the natural habitat for a lone killer based on those pulp mercenary novels of the 60s and 70s where a lone man with a gun killed as many scumbags as it took for the writer to make his contract’s word count.

And sure, we’ve had a few tastes of the old loner, killing-criminals-alone-is-my-business-and-business-is-good Punisher in the meantime, but for every one of those, we’ve also had something like Space Punisher – fun, but not exactly The Punisher that long-time purists probably want to see. Sure, I like a fun guy wth a gun blowing shit up now and again, but in general, I like my Punisher like I like my steak: bloody, homicidal, and likely to kill not only you but your whole family. Which is why I am not welcome in finer dining establishments. Well, that and the obvious public drunkenness. But I digress.

So now, more than a year after Marvel Now started, we finally have a new solo Punisher title, written by Nathan Edmondson and drawn by Mitch Gerads. And it’s a Punisher that doesn’t include Venom or Elektra, that doesn’t have him out fighting weird supervillains, and instead has him back on the streets, fighting street-level crime with deadly force again. So a guy like me, who likes old-school Punisher, should be happy as a pig in shit, right?

Well, kinda.

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.

Editor’s Note: One last review of the comics of 12/5/2012 before the comic stores open…

Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way: the chick with the purple hair who doesn’t speak and is the only apparent member who isn’t asked to volunteer in Thunderbolts #1? That’s Mercy. She debuted back in Peter David’s and Todd McFarlane’s run on The Incredible Hulk – issue 338 to be exact, a couple of issues before the arc collected in the Ground Zero paperback. If I recall correctly, she shanks people who she thinks are down on their luck… and she thinks everyone is down on their luck. You’re welcome.

Thunderbolts #1 is yet another Marvel Now book that is, despite Marvel’s protestations, a complete reboot (but, but, Marvel doesn’t reboot! Which is why The Punisher is still a superpowered avenging angel! And he’s still a black guy!). We’ve gone from the team being the standardized government-sponsored team staffed by former supervillains hoping for redemption that it’s been for years (but don’t let it make you bitter; if you miss that idea, DC’s still publishing Suicide Squad), to apparently just General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, former Hulkbuster and current Red Hulk, out on his own, building a team out of the darker, more edge heroes of the Marvel Universe. You know, like DC’s Team 7.

So now our Thunderbolts are apparently Red Hulk, Punisher, Deadpool, Elektra, Venom and Mercy, which is a lineup, except for Mercy, that should be familiar to anyone who has seen twelve-year-olds playing Heroclix (although you probably heard them referred to as “The Asskickers,” or perhaps “Team Awesome”). However, this lineup is being written by recent Deadpool writer Daniel Way instead of a runny-nosed punk jacked up on Red Bull and his first boner over imagining Elektra naked, so we can expect a little more from this team, right?

Truth be told, I can’t quite tell yet.

I missed the first issue of Space Punisher for a few reasons, the biggest of which being that it was a book called Space Punisher.

Seriously: if all you know about the book is that it’s called Space Punisher, why would you buy it? At face value, it sounds like someone decided to fire the 616 Universe Frank Castle into space so he could try to kill the Guardians of The Galaxy or something, probably in the service of trying to get someone to give a tin shit about the Guardians of The Galaxy before Marvel Studios spends a hundred million bucks making a movie about them. It wasn’t until I saw Space Punisher writer Frank Tieri talking about the book at the Amazing Spider-Man panel at SDCC that I understood that this was an Elseworlds-style book, about an entirely different version of Frank Castle, who happened to be a starship captain. “Think Buck Rogers if Buck Rogers really screwed up,” Tieri said at the panel.

So I decided to give Space Punisher #2 a day in court, and sure enough: it’s about a version of The Punisher who happens to be in space. But the space setting is really the only thing different in the story, which is simultaneously a strength to the story, as well as its biggest problem.

There was one minor, eensy, tiny problem with Marvel Comics’s Amazing Spider-Man panel Sunday. The panel wasn’t really about Spider-Man.

Oh sure, the panel opened with news about the Amazing Spider-Man and Avenging Spider-Man comic books, but those updates took about seven or ten minutes of an hour long panel. After that, we got updates on Carnage, Venom and Scarlet Spider, which are at least Spider-Man related… but we also got status reports on Captain Marvel, Punisher War Zone, Space Punisher, and last but not least, Daredevil, whose status report was, in effect, “Yeah, we have no idea what’s going on with that triple-Eisner Award winning book! But Eisner Awards are cool! And Daredevil won three of them! So who doesn’t love Daredevil?”

Which actually brings to mind another minor problem with the Spider-Man panel, and with every other Marvel panel we went to: Moderator Arune Singh, who is Director of Communications for Marvel Comics and possibly the most irritating and repetitive public speaker on the planet. Here are some of my notes from the panel, verbatim from my notebook:

  • If I hear Arune Singh say, “How many of you are loving X” again, I will shit.
  • At least 4 “How many of you love…” so far. Fuck.
  • Fifth. Fucking. “How many of you LOVE…”

We are back in the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office with wretched reverse jetlag and crippling hangovers. And while I am working on my recap of Sunday’s The Amazing Spider-Man panel by Marvel (Teaser: it wasn’t really about Spider-Man!), I have learned that, while we were frittering around in actual comics panels on Sunday, Thomas Jane, the actor who played The Punisher in the 2004 movie adaptation and therefore had the unique joy of blowing John Travolta’s head off, ran a panel to promote his Raw Studios project that he started with cover artist Tim Bradstreet.

And at that panel, Jane debuted a new Punisher movie. Not an authorized Marvel Studios picture, and not a true sequel to his Punisher flick, but a ten-minute long fan film. Which rumor has it is better than, frankly (“Frank.” Ha!) both Jane’s original edition and the Punisher: War Zone move that came out a couple years ago. The dude fronted his own money, and got a cameo from Ron Perlman, to put it together. Why? Who knows? Maybe he’s courting Marvel Studios to get the nod for another round at the front of a full-on Punisher movie. Or maybe he’s just a giant comics geek (I’ve read that the dude went to the Rocketeer anniversary screening wearing a full Rocketeer costume) who wanted to make something really fucking cool. Regardless, I’m bummed I missed that screening.

What’s that, Internet? We have the video? And it’s right after the jump?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way right now: Untold Tales of The Punisher Max #1 isn’t about The Punisher. Sure, The Punisher’s in it, but only in nine out of 34 pages, which is a ratio that makes calling this a Punisher comic like calling Fight Club a tale of handling insurance claims, or Deep Throat a medical thriller.

No, this is not a comic book about The Punisher. What it is is a reasonably crackling and profane – if not particularly original – little near-noir crime tale about a degenerate gambler in over his head and trying to solve the problem by loading his pockets with lead ingots. It is about organized crime as seen by way of the wrong side of its customer service department, with an engaging protagonist and a compelling plot… provided you don’t stop and think about it too hard.

This is the story of gambling addict Jimmy Frisco (someday I’ll read a crime story about a degenerate scumbag named Quincy Madison Worthington IV… or at least one who hasn’t run for President of The United States) who is twelve grand into a bookie named Shelly, who has an idea for an interesting and novel way for Jimmy to work off his debt. And despite Shelly’s goon’s early question to Jimmy vis a vis which hand he uses to jerk off, it does not involve Old Fashioneds through a glory hole. No, Shelly wants Jimmy – a regular guy who works in an auto body shop – to kill a jockey for him. Otherwise, Shelly’s taking the twelve large out of Jimmy’s ass… which loops us straight back to the glory hole imagery. But I digress.