doctor_who_christmas_special_2015While we originally planned to list our 2015 Crises awards for the best and worst of the year this week, we were stymied by a combination of holiday travel for Rob, and a crippling cold (and cold medicine high) by Amanda.

So after spending some time talking about what we got for Christmas, and best Christmas memories from childhood (spoiler: none of Amanda’s childhood memories are anything but heartbreaking and hilarious), we talk about the Doctor Who Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song. We talk about the episode’s weird mix of farce and heartstring plucking, how it might mean some solid writing on showrunner Steven Moffat’s part to tie River’s character closely to her first appearance, and how it paints the Doctor as a remorseless and opportunistic genocidal monster. Really.

We also discuss:

  • DK III #2, written by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello, with pencils by Andy Kubert and inks by Klaus Janson,
  • Teen Titans #15, written by Scott Lobdell and Will Pfeifer with art by Ian Churchill and Miguel Mendonca, and:
  • Darth Vader #14, written by Kieron Gillen with art by Salvador Larroca!

And, the usual 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 tragic tale of a girl, pseudoephedrine and a busted Etch-A-Sketch.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out warnings ahead of time, just assume that we will explain, in detail, why The Doctor is history’s greatest monster.
  • This show contains adult, profane language and is therefore not safe for work. You want your employer to know what it means when things go “testacularly”? Then get some headphones.

Thanks for listening, suckers!

teen_titans_23_cover_20131823838286I’ve had a lot of fun at Scott Lobdell’s expense over the past couple of years, mostly due to his tendency to turn any comic book he puts his hands on into an adolescent soap opera. After all, one doesn’t turn Starfire into a takes-all-comers fuckpot with the memory and morals of a goldfish because he likes writing tales of adult sexuality. He does it because nobody reads Penthouse Forum anymore. Jesus Christ, I’m three sentences in and I’m already getting off point here.

The one title Lobdell has been working on that I still read and enjoy on a semi-regular basis is Teen Titans, and I think it’s because it’s right in Lobdell’s wheelhouse: it’s supposed to be an adolescent soap opera. There’s nothing remarkable about a bunch of good-looking teenagers trying like hell to bone each other and treating every little misstep like it’s the biggest dramatic affront in the world; that’s just high school. So Teen Titans has been a particular place where Lobdell’s weaknesses have actually been a virtue… but still, it’s not been for everybody. As a soap opera, it has a ton of characters, it has featured longer-term stories, and it has, almost more than any other New 52 title, embraced the fact that all the characters are different than they’ve ever been. So we’ve got a book with new and unfamiliar versions of old characters, with constantly-shifting and volatile relationships, and that doesn’t really equal a title that’s friendly to new readers jumping in at any random point.

Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news, at least for potential new readers, is that Teen Titans #23 is a perfect entry point for new readers, specifically and carefully introducing every character, their relationships with each other, and, as befits a long-running team book like Teen Titans, even features a fairly significant personnel change.

The bad news, at least for long-time readers, is that not a hell of a lot actually happens in this issue.

teen_titans_15_cover_2013Editor’s Note: And one last review of the comics of 1/2/2013 before the comic stores open with this week’s take…

Teen Titans #15, written by Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza and drawn by Brett Booth, is a strange read. It’s part of the Death of The Family crossover going through the Batman Family books, and it features the same Joker as those books, with his skinned face strapped to his head, and ostensibly more terrifying than ever, but it doesn’t feel of that crossover. Where most of the other issues in this crossover put the focus on how Joker is more modern and direct and personally violent in many ways, this issue feels almost… quaint. Sure, it has several characters talking about how deadly Joker is, and how frightening it is to face off with him, but the overall feeling is that it comes from another era. An era of death traps and convoluted master plans and big primary colors and crappy gag lines.

This is a 90s comic book, from the plotting to the scripting to even the art style. It is a strange fit with the terror and brutality that has been the stock in trade of the rebooted Joker in other issues of Death of The Family, and it therefore feels… odd. It is like being in line for an Odd Future concert and seeing someone roll into the parking lot in a neon blue Dodge Neon with flames and a spoiler, and seeing the driver jumping out with Hammerpants and a Kid-N-Play fade haircut. It is retro where retro is not needed – or necessarily wanted – and therefore the instinct is to beat the perpetrator like a rented goalie.

And make no mistake: I will be throwing some punches at Teen Titans #15… however, there is some good stuff in this issue, and that deserves some attention, too. After all – M. C. Hammer and the Houseparty movies didn’t make a billion dollars twenty years ago because they were always reprehensible to everyone everywhere.

You ever had a low-grade toothache? You know, the kind where you feel a little zip when you suck cold air past it? The kind of thing where you find yourself constantly inhaling sharply, trying to see if maybe its gone away, or if maybe it’s getting worse? And you find yourself worrying that maybe it actually is getting worse, and you just wish the damn thing would go away so you could concentrate on something else?

Over the course of the past year, Scott Lobdell has become my toothache.

Superman #0 is a pretty bad comic book. It wallows in exposition, alien cliches, and stilted dialogue. It tries to turn Superman’s parents into some kind of asskicking science heroes for some reason, and it implies that Oracle is now some kind of all-knowing, all-seeing space jerk, which should win back all the female readers Lobdell lost with Red Hood and The Outlaws. And it does all this with art that, while pretty enough in a stylized way, serves in places as examples of some of the worst visual storytelling that I have seen in a comic book in 36 years.

Superman #0 made my hangover worse this morning. After reading it I needed to watch my Blu-Ray of The Avengers again too recover any hope for the superhero genre. It made my stool loose and burny. If it had come out two and a half months ago, it would have caused riots in downtown San Diego.

It’s really not very good, you guys.

Editor’s Note: I acknowledge that these pictures suck. We’ll upgrade our cameras once we receive your subscription check. Oh, you don’t pay for this? Then fuck you and enjoy the pictures you got.

Last year we kind of wandered into the panel for Scott Snyder’s American Vampire, mostly to make sure we’d have a seat for the DC New 52 panel that followed directly afterwards. Don’t get me wrong, we were following American Vampire in kind of a general way, but I had fallen away; the initial hype around one of the early stories being written by Stephen King hadn’t been enough to keep me in the book except in a “flip through when I happened to see it on the shelf” way. The point is that last year, we were able to walk right into Snyder’s panel without having to wait around in a line.

That was 2011. This year, Snyder’s writing Batman, which has consistently been one of the best books of DC’s New 52 and the source of the first post-reboot DC crossover event. So this time around, for the Batman panel yesterday? Yeah, we waited in line.

The Batman panel covered all the Batman family books, from Batman to Red Hood And The Outlaws… meaning walking in Amanda and I steeled ourselves for exciting news running the gamut from Batman’s post-Owls Joker encounter to Starfire’s post-Red Hood stranger’s penis encounter. However, weird former Teen Titan sex revelations or no, Snyder started the panel off with a laugh: “Avengers Vs. X-Men, who wins? Batman.” I hate it when my comic writers are funnier than I am. But I digress.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you want to see Jason Todd spoiled, dial 1-900-SPOIL-ROBIN! If you don’t want to see Jason Todd spoiled, dial 1-900-FUCK-OFF-DUDE-ROBIN-SUCKS-WHERE’S-MY-TWO-DOLLARS-DIDIO! Either way: I’m a-spoiling this book!

I am sick. Deathly sick. Like, “Wow! I think I must have obtained spider powers somehow because every 30 to 45 seconds, I appear to be horking up webbing!” sick. And I can confirm that Peter Parker was wrong; with great power seems to come great chills, fever and runny stool.

As such, I have very little energy to do anything, and am desperate for a solution that will make me feel better. So I decided to read Red Hood The The Outlaws #6. Which, based on Amanda’s experience reading the first issue, might mean that I’m am not just sick, but also very, very stupid.

I purchased the issue before I became quite as ill as I am now, so I can’t even blame antihistamines or brain fluke or whatever. No, I bought it because the cover proclaims that this issue contains the first meeting between Red Hood and Starfire, meaning that despite skipping issues 2 through 5 (Yes, I bought one in between, but didn’t have the heart to put myself through reading it), maybe I could get an explanation about Starfire’s post New 52… priorities.

So let’s get it out of the way: is this issue any good? Well honestly, it is better than the first issue. That doesn’t mean it’s good, per se; I recently put out something better than Red Hood And The Outlaws #1, albeit being somewhat runny.

Well, we knew it was coming – the DC brass all but told us it was – but DC’s New 52 is now the New 46.

DC has announced that they are canceling Men of War, Blackhawks, O.M.A.C., Mister Terrific, Static Shock, and, in the interest of at least some justice, Rob Leifeld’s Hawk & Dove, after their respective eighth issues.

But since DC’s multiverse includes 52 worlds, and because the only words that rhymes with “46” are “ticks,” “dicks,” and “pricks,” they will be releasing six new regular books in May, including:

We’ve had a lot of fun at Scott Lobdell’s expense here at Crisis On Infinite Midlives because, well, if you’re gonna relaunch a tentpole character of the DC Universe as an blank-slated set of jugs trolling for cock, you kinda deserve what happens to you. Just because Starfire happens to be Snooki-orange doesn’t mean you need to write her that way. We’re just sayin’.

Lobdell’s writing on Red Hood and The Outlaws was such a juvenile misfire we almost dropped his Teen Titans book because, well, if a man opens up with a blatant Southern Trespass, you don’t stick around to see what he has in mind after he gets comfortable fucking you and decides it’s safe to try the weird stuff. Frankly, we only held onto it because Amanda liked Brett Booth’s art, and while the story did seem like it was born from the pitch, “X-Men! Only in the DCnU!” it had enough potential to at least see where it was going.

Well, we’re four issues in now, and I have to give credit where it’s due: it’s been a while in coming, but I actually enjoyed this issue. Lobdell might be a juvenile writer, but on a book about juveniles, it’s finally working for me.

The Sudafed finally mixed with the Jack Daniels and made a mellow, Earth-friendly body-meth, which gave us enough energy to complete Episode 3 of the Crisis on Infinite Midlive’s Podcast: The Fistula of Justice!

Thrill to two drunk sick people as they talk about the impact of the New 52, DC Comics’ new Neilsen Survey (Which sadly didn’t include the obvious question: Orange nip slip: horrifying moment or the most horrifying moment?), the overriding post-Catwoman question: are superhero comics sexist (“What’s wrong with being sexist?” “Not sexy, sex… Jesus, you really are a monster, aren’t you?”), and our sleeper favorite books of the week!

And to answer some questions from the show that are enigmas, wrapped in riddles, covered in mucous:

Enjoy the show, sucker! And if you don’t, just hit that “Don’t Look” link up there!