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!

walking_dead_dead_insideAs we have been for the past several weeks, we remain immersed in the process of moving to a new Home Office. This means that we have spent our week collating documents mundane and obscure, and hunting for documents demanded by Unseen Powers that are so obscure that they apparently Cannot Be Named.

So we welcomed the distraction provided by a universe where, if a man wants a new house, he need but clear it of shambling ghouls and defend it from traitors and raiders. That universe being that of The Walking Dead, which debuted its sixth season last Sunday. So we discuss this magic world that is so blessedly empty of lawyers, mortgage underwriters and real estate brokers. A world that provides not only some of the most stunning visuals this series has ever presented, but which also raises questions about the very nature of morality and the rule of law, in a world where a society’s members, circumstances and requirements can change by the second.

We also discuss:

  • Chewbacca #1, written by Gerry Duggan with art by Phil Noto, and:
  • Uncanny Avengers #1, also written by Gerry Duggan with art by Ryan Stegman!

And, the inevitable disclaimers:

  • We record this show live to tape, with minimal editing. While this might mean a looser comics podcast than you are used to, it also means that anything can happen. Like the avocation of financial, and perhaps physical, sanctions for late comics.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout warnings ahead of time, be aware that we may ruin the surprise as to who this season of The Walking Dead’s Carl is (fun fact: it might not be Carl!).
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. We talk a lot about “horrible biological sounds” this week. Think your boss would use that in a positive way in your annual review? Yeah, get some headphones.

Thanks for listening, suckers!

superior_spider_man_9_cover_2013Editor’s Note: Sorry, but this has to be. The spoilers of an old life must make way for the new.

At the end of 2012, Spider-Man writer Dan Slott got a lot of attention boosting attention to his long run on The Amazing Spider-Man by, well, killing The Amazing Spider-Man.

The move caused an uproar amongst long-time Spider-Man fans, who acted like Slott stole Grandma’s Thanksgiving turkey and then beat her with it about the nead and neck. It was interesting to watch: hundreds upon hundreds of long-time comic fans – fans who have seen almost every damn character of any prominence die and come back to life over the years – acting like they were incapable of understanding that Spider-Man’s death was obviously temporary. Of course Spider-Man’s gonna come back to life; Marvel would no more kill its flagship character than it would hand over the keys to the shop to slashfic writers for whom English is a second language.

However, the move got a lot of press and led to a lot of printings of The Amazing Spider-Man #700, so from a business standpoint, the move to kill Peter Parker was a success. So four months later, what does Dan Slott do for an encore?

superior_spider_man_2_cover_promoEditor’s Note: Let me go wild, like a spoiler in the sun…

The problem with The Superior Spider-Man #2 is the scene. The scene.

You will know The Scene when you see it. In fact, you will have some difficulty unseeing it. And given that Doc Ock is occupying Peter Parker’s body, and given that Ock, a former ugly duckling, is suddenly in the body of a guy that can allow him to do things that he has never been able to do, while not necessarily understanding how to do those things, the scene makes complete and total sense.

And yet The Scene overpowers almost everything else in the issue, and it does it unnecessarily. Sure, it serves a purpose in furthering a main plot point, but it does it in a way where you almost won’t remember the plot point it furthers. The Scene just about turns this issue into the comics equivalent of Vincent Gallo’s Brown Bunny: do you have any idea what Brown Bunny is about? Of course not, all you know is that Gallo got his cock sucked by Chloe Sevigny on camera.

And we will address The Scene, and how it affects the comic… which, in spite of the scene, gives us more Peter Parker than I would have expected even a month ago, and which finally shows some real signs that maybe, just maybe, Otto Octavius really has some elements to be a superior Spider-Man… and, in some areas, a superior Peter Parker.

You know, if you can get past The Scene.

superior_spider_man_1_cover_promoEditor’s Note: I’ve come to say goodbye to my old life. A life wasted on spoilers and ruined plot twists. A man whose sole victory was cheating comic readers… by switching – ah, screw it. This review contains spoilers. Many. many spoilers.

I’m done. Done accepting things the way we are. I swear to you… from now on… whenever I’m around, wherever I am… …No one dies!
– Peter Parker

Okay, that’s one way to end a comic book. But we’ll talk about that later.

So here we are: the first issue of a Spider-Man comic with Otto Octavius riding the peak seat, and our first chance to see how he handles the, well, power and responsibility. And coming out of the events of The Amazing Spider-Man #700, that was a serious question; sure, we’ve known what Doctor Octopus is like for the past fifty years, and it seems unlikely that an arrogant megalomaniac like that is likely to turn over a new leaf just because he can suddenly see his dick for the first time since Eisenhower was President. But still, we’ve seen that Ock obtained access to all of Peter’s memories and experiences, which could have an effect on Otto. So the question is: how does he behave as Spider-Man?

A lot like a supervillain, actually. But not in the way that you’d think.

So yeah – turns out they were talking about Spider-Man.

Yesterday was the retailer’s breakfast at New York Comic Con where The Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott announced what the hell “Superior” stood for, and apparently he then turned right around and told USA Today that, following the sooper seekrit events of the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man #700 – which will mark the end of that title, at least until someone at Marvel realizes there’s money to be made in releasing a book with the words “Spider-Man” and “800” on the cover – he will be writing a book titled The Superior Spider-Man about… some guy in a Spider-Man suit.

A guy who might, or might not, be Peter Parker.

“I’ve always been the omniscient hand that’s been protecting Peter Parker and Spider-Man, and not letting anything too bad happen to him,” [Slott said]. “And now I’ve become this cruel god. There’s something exciting about that, about going, ‘Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha, here is what’s going to happen to you, Spider-Man!’ And it’s drastic and it’s big and it’s exciting and it’s never been done before.”

So here’s what we know: Slott says that in The Amazing Spider-Man #700, Doctor Octopus has only one day to live, and he knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, and he is going to do something unfriendly to Pete. And whatever that thing is, it is going to lead to a somewhat darker Spider-Man.

So what do you have in mind, Dan?

Marvel has released a new one-word Marvel Now teaser… kinda. And, well, so much for that Miracleman theory.

There’s still no specific word as to what Marvel’s “Superior” tease from a couple weeks back means, but thanks to Marvel releasing a new version of the image to USA Today, we at least have a creative team attached… which you can see after the jump.

Okay, I finally get it. Scarlet Spider is for people who want to buy both Spider-Man and Wolverine, but only have three bucks a month to throw around.

Make no mistake: this isn’t me screeching that Scarlet Spider is a bad comic book, because it isn’t; it is reasonably well-executed with a decent story, plot, characters, and pretty good art. But in its DNA, this is a book for the rare and nihilistic comics reader who says – presumably while listening to “classic” Limp Bizkit – “You know what would really make Spider-Man an ageless comic book hero? If someone would just write him as a stab-crazed, nearly-remorseless dickhead.”

This issue finds out protagonist being attacked by a bunch of ninjas out for revenge over the fact that, in his past as a lone, non-affiliated killer, he refused to pay allegiance to their clan. The ninjas have a bunch of superpowers, the fight goes public, the hero fights dirty, stuff explodes, dudes get kicked, and a lot of people get maimed in a visceral yet entertaining manner. All of which makes for an exciting comic book, but it makes an exciting Wolverine comic book. All of this feels a little weird when it’s happening with a guy in a Spider-Man suit.

Scarlet Spider is going to be a hard book for anyone who read comics for a long time before the Spider Clone saga to read with any level of objectivity. I’ve just now written and deleted a bunch of reasons why that is, but what it comes down to is that if you spent your 1980s adolescence reading books like The Dark Knight Returns, Mage: The Hero Discovered and Watchmen, the logic in the 1990s was simple: if ($_spider + $_clone) {($_comic == shit) && ($_comic_dollars_spent == 0)}. Sure, there are people crawling out of the woodwork now defending the Spider Clone saga, but there were also people who begged for conjugal visits with Ted Bundy; we call whose people cranks on a good day and apeshit crazy on a bad one, and we don’t generally entrust either with important things like firearms, or the editors’ desks of major comic books.

Long story short: I have not been looking forward to Scarlet Spider.

So I was prepared a few weeks ago to pick up the first issue, summarily review it and probably discard it… except by the time I got to my local comic store, where they know me by name and ask me if I’m such a hotshit writer about comics how come I don’t rank free advance review copies, it was already sold out… and this was by Wednesday evening. Which proves that despite my personal prejudices, someone was looking forward to this book.

So this week, I was able to get my hands on Scarlet Spider #2, and even at face value, I wasn’t excited about it – I mean, look at that cover. The center focus is the hero’s crotch with a bisected stone behind it, making it look like Scarlet Spider either has The Thing’s wang or that he is literally shitting a brick.

With all that said: Scarlet Spider #2 is actually a decent comic book. The character work is engaging, and I actually enjoyed it… even if I think it’s all presented in a way that isn’t going to be sustainable in the long term

We here at Crisis On Infinite Midlives have decided that, no matter the cost, hardship or obstacle, we will attend and report on next year’s New York Comic Con. Because we feel that we have a responsibility. A responsibility to you, to us, and to every comic book reader who lived through the last 35 years of comics publishing. To prevent anything like THIS from every happening again:

Marvel then showed off the teaser already seen of the burning hoodie of the Scarlet Spider. “What’s this?” [Manager of Sales & Communications Arune] Singh said for [Spider-Man Editor] Wacker to respond “The worst costume ever!”

…and when they came for the people who fucking hated the Clone Saga, there was no one left to speak up.

Sorry, that was unnecessarily pessimistic. Hell, they made FUN of the Scarlet Spider, right? Maybe things’ll be okay, right? RIGHT?

That exchange prompted the announcement of a new “Scarlet Spider” ongoing by writer Chris Yost and [penciler Ryan] Stegman.


*deep breath*

Okay, let’s all calm down. Maybe this isn’t all bad. Maybe they’re bringing the Scarlet Spider back to make fun of him. It could happen! Maybe they’re making Ben Reilly the Forbush Man of the Spider-Man books! It’s a light-hearted gag! They can’t possibly be taking this seriously, right? RIGHT?