On this week’s comic book review show:

King in Black #3
Marvel
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Ryan Stegman

Future State: The Next Batman #2
DC Comics
Written by John Ridley, Vita Ayala, Paula Sevenbergen
Art by Laura Braga, Aneke, Rob Haynes

Future State: Superman Worlds of War #1
DC Comics
Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Brandon Easton, Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad, Jeremy Adams
Art by Mikel Janín, Valentine de Landro, Gleb Mlenikov, Siya Oum

Future State: Catwoman #1
DC Comics
Written by Ram V
Art by Otto Schmidt

Future State: Shazam #1
DC Comics
Written by Tim Sheridan
Art by Eduardo Pansica

Future State: Nightwing #1
DC Comics
Written by Andrew Constant
Art by Nicola Scott

Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1
DC Comics
Written by Becky Cloonan & Michael W. Conrad, LL McKinney
Art by Jen Bartel, Alitha Martinez

Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1
Marvel
Written by Larry Hama
Art by David Wachter

Rain Like Hammers #1
Image Comics
Created by Brandom Graham

Rorschach #4
DC Comics
Written by Tom King
Art by Jorge Fornés

Abbott 1973 #1
BOOM! Studios
Written by Saladin Ahmed
Art by Sami Kivelä

Black Cat: King in Black #2
Marvel
Written by Jed MacKay
Art by C.F. Villa

Batman/Catwoman #2
DC Comics
Written by Tom King
Art by Clay Mann

The Scumbag #4
Image Comics
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Eric Powell

Once & Future #15
BOOM! Studios
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Dan Mora

Maestro: War & Pax #1
Marvel
Written by Peter David
Art by Javier Pina

Stillwater #5
Image Comics
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Ramón K Perez

Seven to Eternity #16
Image Comics
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Jerome Opeña

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Full Episode Transcript:

Alex:                 What is up y’all, welcome to The Stack, I’m Alex.

Justin:              I’m Justin.

Pete:                I’m Pete. We’re The Stack. What is up?

Justin:              Oh, he wants a little editorial time at the beginning.

Alex:                 Pete, do your what’s up section, go for it?

Pete:                Hey, everybody, what is up?

Alex:                 [inaudible 00:00:30].

Justin:              What a fun way to Kick it up? You sound like [inaudible 00:00:38].

Pete:                He’s my guy.

Alex:                 We’re going to talk about a bunch of comics that came out this very week. We’re going to review them, we’re going to talk about them, we’re going to offer up our unfiltered opinions. We’re going to kick it off with King in Black number three from Marvel written by Donny Cates and art by Ryan Stegman. This issue spoilers Venom is dead. And what remains to the Marvel heroes are going right up against Knull, that includes Venom’s son, but also includes Thor, who is finally come back to take on Knull. There’s some brutal stuff that happens in this issue. We’re almost through this event, I think at this point. We’re definitely at the halfway point. What do you think about it so far? Would you been thinking about this issue in particular?

Justin:              What I really like about this event is, it has a unique structure. I feel like so many events are built around the idea of heroes having normal lives, problem emerges, everything gets bad, heroes rally, they win. And in this, it was for everything is bad immediately out of the gate. And then now we’re seeing some things getting worse. We’re seeing little pops of different hero moments. And in this issue we get Thor popping, and it’s really good. I love the last page reveal, the arts fantastic in this issue. And it’s also funny how little knull, knull it’s just sort of hovering at the center of it, but we haven’t seen a lot of Knull doing stuff.

Alex:                 Yeah, I mean, this issue it definitely mixes it up though. I think this is just a lot of fun, a really a great kind of event. I’ve been really happy with the action and this, it keeps things getting worse, but there’s little glimmers of hope. I’ve been very much enjoying the over the top action adventure and fun that they’re having on this. This is just a really cool, very bad shit going on here, giant dragons and flaming monsters, and the last page reveal is just bad-ass. This might be the goop on the Chrysler building, but this is starting to remind me a lot of Inferno, the crossover from back in the day when demons took over New York. Partially…

Pete:                Wait, was that Ghostbusters II reference with ooze on the… What do you mean the-

Alex:                 100% absolutely not. It was a reference to the X-Men: Crossover Inferno. We just had… well, it’s very iconic thing of the Empire State Building to be taken over by the demons from LeBeau, and it just got bigger and bigger over time, and people would be like, hey, that’s weird. The Empire State Building is bigger than I remember it is. This reminds me a lot of that, but it also reminds me a lot of that because you have these disparate elements from these other mini-series and other things going on, and kind of starting to come together in this issue, different threads.

Alex:                 Justin, you mentioned this couple of issues back, but I think that one thing that Donny Cates is doing very well, is giving the spotlight to other characters. Like there’s a great Iron Man moments of this issue. Thor knocking Knull’s jaw off is very bad ass. It’s high octane thriller in the same way that Dark Nights: Death Metal was. And I think that’s fun. It’s fun to read right now.

Justin:              Agree. Donny Cates is a big used the whole Buffalo writer and he does it here. With a lot of the stuff he’s been setting up across all the titles he’s been working on, and just stuff that goes on with the other characters in the Marvel universe.

Pete:                Justin, I appreciate your Buffalo reference and go bills.

Justin:              That’s right. I’ve said use the whole Buffalo bills.

Alex:                 Now, as we were doing for the past two weeks, on to week three, let’s talk about Future State over at DC Comics.[crosstalk 00:04:33]. This is an interesting week because we bought a bunch of number one Future State issues, but we’re also getting our first number two with Future State, the next Batman number two. There’s also a lot of developing story at some big points that we start to get about what’s going on in this future world. As we have been doing, why don’t you guys call out the things that you particularly liked, that you thought were interesting? Pete, let’s start with you, at all offer up the writing to you as we go through.

Pete:                Alright, great. I really liked the next Batman. I think this is kind of a fun Batman in the future with tack and kind of shit that he’s up against. I’m enjoying this.

Alex:                 Well, let’s talk about that one first, because that is as mentioned the first number two of this Future State slate. This is written by John Ridley, Vita Ayala, and Paula Sevenbergen, art by Laura Braga, Aneke and Rob Haynes. Pete, what did you like about this one in particular?

Pete:                Well, I like where we’re kind of picking up here. This feels like a Batman book, kind of in the middle of things picking apart who’s doing what to whom, we’ve got some bad guys kind of closing in on Batman, and yeah, I also, Batman’s hurt. It’s nice to see it’s not this Batman that has no flaws, or can’t be hurt with the tech armor that he’s got on. So it feels like a Batman book. It’s a new kind of take on Batman. So I’m excited about it. I think it’s I’m enjoying it.

Justin:              Yeah, I agree. I mean, I like this a lot. It definitely, just the voice is different with Batman throughout here, and that’s just great to see. And it really feels like it’s paying off the promise of Future State. Like we’re doing new versions of these characters and let’s see. And then I also thought [inaudible 00:06:29] is it Gotham city sirens at the end which plays like a… The art is almost like Dan Parent Archie Comics, which I thought was really fun and just a different sort of vibe to the whole thing.

Alex:                 Is that, we read a lot of these, so forgive me if I got this wrong. Was that’s the one was Spoiler and Cassandra [Canaan 00:06:52] in jail, right?

Justin:              Yes.

Alex:                 That was great.

Justin:              I love that.

Alex:                 That was one of my favorite things this week. I thought that was really fascinating. That picks up on some of the threads that we’ve gotten on some of the other books with Spoiler in particular. And just this idea that the magistrate, whoever the magistrate is, who is running Gotham City now, is throwing good guys and bad guys in jail, just because of his zero-tolerance policy. I think it was a really fun idea. I mean, I don’t know if I completely buy this, but I’ll just throw something out to you that was my impression halfway through reading all these Future State books, I almost wish DC had gone for it and said, “This is the DC universe now, this is what we’re doing going forward.” Like to be-

Pete:                That would be too big of a shakeup, that would be-

Alex:                 It would be huge. I understand why they did it, but if you remember back in the day, there was the one year later stuff, I believe after 52, where there’s apocalyptic event that jumped forward a year, and then they kind of filled it and stuff later. The idea of doing that and just jumping forward in unseen unspecified amount of time later, I kind of loved that. Particularly because, well, a lot of what we got this week, was the idea that we’re told in week one Batman is gone, Superman is gone, Wonder Woman is gone. They’re not gone, they’re just in kind of different status quos at this point. So instead, it does feel like the DC universe just, there are some holes to fill it at this point.

Pete:                What I like about this event is, I feel like they are shaking things up. They’re getting different people on different projects, and you’re getting new takes on it. And it feels like a fresh take, which is great. I think they’re doing it smart. If things start to do well, maybe it takes over the regular title. I think that’s a smart way to do this.

Alex:                 They are continuing next Batman. I mean, that’s clearly seems like the one that they’re all in on, they have John Ridley on it, that’s a big deal. They’re continuing that title that you’ve heard of the universe. So to your point Pete, I think there’s a couple of others that could roll off of. Before we get two other leads here though Justin, any other titles that jumped out at you?

Justin:              I’m going to give it up for Superman – Worlds of War.

Alex:                 Yeah, gladiator Superman.

Justin:              Which yeah. And I really like this because it takes Superman, to your point you mentioned before, about how the main trinity are sort of off the board. Here we get to find out where Superman is. And he’s on war world, and there’s a bunch of bad shit happening there. And I thought-

Alex:                 It’s… Let me just interrupt with the creative team for this one, written by Philip Kennedy Johnson, Brandon M. Easton, Becky Clinton, and Michael W. Conrad, Jeremy Adams, art by Miquel Janine, Valentine Delondra, Glib and Melnikov and [inaudible 00:09:47]. Take it away Justin.

Pete:                I would, Justin, if I could interrupt you for a moment. I’m really hoping it’s going to be like planet Hulk, and Superman comes back and he is so pissed, and blows up New York.

Justin:              Yeah, that’s a solid guess. I really liked the Phillip Kennedy Johnson story that kicks it off is so great. Focusing on Smallville, he talked about this a little bit when he was on our show a few weeks ago, and just a great sort of retrospective about what Superman is, what he does, it’s so good.

Alex:                 I also really liked the Midnighters story in this book. This is great and very key to everything that’s going on in Future State, because unless I misinterpreted it, and this is a spoiler here, but we find out the identity of Trojan, the person who’s been running Metropolis in Superman’s absence, and it is none other than Apollo.

Pete:                Yeah.

Alex:                 What do you think about that Pete? You love Apollo and Midnighter, so what was your take on this twist?

Pete:                I was very a gasped, I clutch my pearls, I wasn’t ready for it.

Justin:              Those pearls look lovely by the way. You look gorgeous.

Pete:                Thank you. [crosstalk 00:10:55]

Justin:              They really accentuate your neck.

Pete:                You guys.

Justin:              Beautiful neck.

Pete:                Becky Cloonan is writing the crap out of this, this is… I really want more of this. This is a very, very cool kind of story that we have here in this book.

Justin:              I like this quite a bit as well. Like you said there, a bunch of them they’re really good. I like…What’s up Pete?

Pete:                I was just going to say the art across the board has been really impressive. It’s because for me, DC seems very certain style of art, and I’ve been really impressed with how they’re pushing that out a little bit. They’re not as cookie cutter as they normally are. So I’m really impressed with that.

Alex:                 I thought a mortal Wonder Woman was the one that I was really looking forward to, and art wise and in particular, I thought it was really gorgeous,

Justin:              Really nice art.

Alex:                 I like the stories quite a bit, written by Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, L.L. McKinney, art by Jenny Bartelle and Alitha Martinez. You have two stories, one about Wonder Woman kind of an end of time Wonder Woman thing going on, and then another one about Nubia, who is Wonder Woman’s twin sister. I thought this was a really solid book, particularly on the Wonder Woman story, which was really fascinating though I liked a Nubia as well. But the other one that a lot of call out that I was very surprised by it.[crosstalk 00:12:20]

Pete:                Justin before you say anything, I thought this was going to be your pick, because you were inside the head of Wonder Woman at the start of that, and you love that shit.

Justin:              I love being inside people’s heads. I’m still trying to crack my way into that [inaudible 00:12:39].

Pete:                [inaudible 00:12:39] this.

Justin:              I feel like in this story, it’s sort of positioning Wonder Woman, almost like Superman. Almost like Jor-El on Krypton in the last days trying to save it, while everyone’s like, “Nope, we got to do this other stuff.” And I thought that was an interesting sort of blending of Wonder Woman and Superman’s [inaudible 00:12:58].

Pete:                The ghost Batman moment with Wonder Woman was very touching. I thought that was very nice.

Justin:              Yeah. So good stuff but the other one I [inaudible 00:13:09] call was Future State Shazam number one written by Tim Sheridan, art by Eduardo Pansica. This is the one that really drove home for me. What I was saying earlier about feeling like, oh, they just could have done this. This doesn’t need to be Future State because there’s going to be a thing. This is what we get here is Neron, has separated Shazam and Billy Batson. Billy Batson is, big spoilers, but Billy Batson has been chained to the Rock of Eternity, to lock in some prisoner we don’t find out what it is, but it’s very bad. And Shazam has left on his own and basically spiraling out and becoming a merciless killer of villains. And this just feels like such a clear Shazam idea at a very different way. It’s something that’s like, you don’t need to do this 40, 50 day years down the road. This is just a good dark Shazamm idea, that I like quite a lot. Yeah, I also really liked Legion. I thought that was…

Alex:                 Legion?

Justin:              Yeah, Legion number 12. Was that not part of the Future State?

Alex:                 No, [crosstalk 00:14:18].

Pete:                No, but great that you’re reading.

Justin:              Yeah, sorry about that.

Alex:                 That’s all good.

Justin:              But I liked the end, the reveal and Catwoman, I thought they also had great art and I liked the last page reveal very much.

Alex:                 That was super fun as well. That was written by Ram V, art by Otto Schmidt and that is just Catwoman going on a great train robbery in this magistrate run Gotham City, super fun.

Justin:              I agree, I really liked the Catwoman one. It was a good use of genre to really tell an interesting story. And the other one we haven’t talked about yet is the Nightwing, which I also thought was cool as well. A lot of different takes.

Alex:                 Yeah, written by Andrew constant, art by Nicola Scott, and this finds Nightwing kind of getting fed up with the status quo of Gotham City and decided to make a big move there. I’m more excited for the second issue of this one. I think that the first issue, but very solid done the less.

Justin:              Yeah, I really, I thought all of these books from Future State this week really had something to really enjoy in them. And that was exciting.

Alex:                 Yeah, I think what they’re trying to do is cool, it’s fun to mix things up.

Pete:                I’m definitely at the point and I know I’ll change my mind in a couple of weeks, but I’m definitely at the point where I’m like, I kind of don’t want to go back to whatever the status quo is.

Alex:                 Oh, wow.

Pete:                I’m enjoying it, I’m having a fun time.

Justin:              Maybe there’s no status quo ever again, in the world.

Alex:                 There’s no status quo baby. Let’s move on to shock one that I think is probably a gimme for Pete Iron Fist, heart of the dragon number one from Marvel written by Larry Hama, written by David Wachter, Pete, what’d you think about this?

Pete:                First off, the Hamas writing this book is really fantastic. Touches my heart in all the right ways. Hama, who famously writes a ton of G.I. Joe, this makes a lot of sense, putting him on this book. And this the issue was just glorious. Really a lot of fun, some cool characters. I loved it. Plus anytime you got Luke Cage and Iron Fist together, I’m a happy camper. Art’s unbelievable. This is just a really cool bad-ass story, and I want more.

Justin:              I mean, is there any more G.I. Joe type story than this with guys named Iron Fist, Taskmaster? It’s right over the gate. If we’re going to get snow jabbing here, I think we have a full set.

Alex:                 Yeah, this is fine. This is Taskmaster is stealing a bunch of dragon hearts and messing up the seven kingdoms. So Iron Fist has to go after him. There’s a bunch of other things-

Pete:                Heart of the dragon.

Alex:                 Yes. Lady Bullseye is in there, like you mentioned, Luke Cage, yeah, it’s fun.

Justin:              Yeah, and I will say it did take some fun turns. I liked seeing Luke Cage in here really getting up and doing some fighting here.

Pete:                Yeah. Also daddy Luke Cage, he starts off so lovable, but he’s not scared to throw down, you know what I mean?

Alex:                 Exactly. Justin, let’s move on to one of I believe your favorites of the week, Rain Like Hammers, number one for, which comics created by Brandon Graham. This is a, I don’t even know if it takes place in the future. It’s definitely a sci-fi book but…

Justin:              This is present day.

Alex:                 It follows a guy… its present day. Follows a guy who works, he watches TV, he eats, then things go terribly wrong.

Justin:              This is the prequel to Wally, is what this is.

Alex:                 This book is gorgeous, but Justin, you go ahead. You talk about it.

Justin:              I love Brandon Graham’s art and storytelling. They’ll… One of the books that really first turned me on is, he was doing the art on profit, the image book that it used to be just like a Rob Liefeld, like a knife and pouch situation, and then took on this trippy Sci-fi space take in the latter issues. And this sort of feels very much in line with that. This could be a stand-alone issue. And what’s the other book that Brandon Graham did, is it Warheads? Something Warhead? Also very good, but this, in the back batter, he talks about this was inspired by him sort of being at home and feeling a little like just in a rut.

Pete:                Yeah, bro.

Justin:              So it’s, in the end talking about healing Manga, a processing comic and how this sort of is-

Alex:                 Yeah, multiple Warheads.

Justin:              Multiple Warheads. This comic is a little bit about processing the stuff that he was going through when he was writing it, and I love that. To be able to take something you’re going through and really make a beautiful piece of art out of it is great.

Alex:                 It reminds me a little bit, it’s almost like sad idiocrasy in a way. It’s not funny, it’s just sort of people sitting, ingesting TV, eating things, honestly things have pretty good that the guy’s eating, but he’s just living his life-

Justin:              They did sound good.

Alex:                 Right? And being a drone and kind of going through it, but gorgeous, gorgeous book. Highly recommend picking it up. Yes Pete?

Pete:                The art alone is worth it. It’s just the way it starts off, and like sets this tone, and the paneling of just this kind of vast thing that he’s on, is really just, it’s very moving and powerful.

Alex:                 There’s a panel towards the end of the book where the main character is standing outside finally at the place that he’s living in, there’s sort of a massive tank or whatever it is. It’s double page spread, and it’s so sad and awesome, and just so many things at the same time. It’s wonderful to see, definitely pick up this book. Next up, Rorschach number four-

Pete:                It’s just like a cruise ship that has elephant legs on it.

Alex:                 Sure. Rorschach number four, from DC Comics written by Tom King, art by Hore Fortes. In this issue, we’re getting a bit more of the origin of the kid. And if anything, this used to be pivoting to be less about Rorschach, and more about the kid, this kind of cowboy character that we met over the course of it. In here we find a man that she-

Pete:                Muscle man.

Alex:                 I mean, it’s arguable, I think. But tricked into thinking he was the reincarnated soul of Rorschach after Dr. Manhattan destroyed him, a lot of what we were dealing with in this title and also here, is about conspiracy theories, which I think really gets to the theme of what Tom King is doing. Another fantastic issue, I don’t know what the thrust of this title is, and I don’t think we will know until the last issue, but man, every issue individually is so impeccably done.

Justin:              You go ahead Pete.

Pete:                I was just going to say, if Tom King wasn’t a good writer, I’d be so pissed. Because I have no fucking idea what is happening, but I’m still having a great time. And part of me is like maybe muscle man was, I mean, how do we know?

Justin:              I think that’s part of the take here, and what my… I’ve really loved reading this series and really love sort of thinking about it after I finished each issue. And with this one, it feels like Tom King is taking some of the Rorschach stuff that’s happened since Watchmen ended, where Rorschach is sort of being put in as like, oh, he was a precursor to a lot of the way people are feeling now politically. Like isolated, believing conspiracy theories, and just chasing them up all that kind of stuff.

Justin:              And so to take that sort of version of Rorschach and then remix it again for our age where she makes this guy believe that he is Rorschach, believes this sort of fake news, this conspiracy stuff, and then he acts on it. I mean, it feels so prescient given the politics that have been happening in the last couple of weeks with the January 6, insurrection and all that. This feels like it’s all speaking to these same issues and to be able to write something that feels that topical when it comes out, is amazing to me.

Alex:                 Pete?

Pete:                Yeah, I just think that, I kind of said how I feel about it as far as it’s impressive, but it’s also confusing. But the way that the kid is portrayed is very, very interesting. And I think it’s really great kind of personification of somebody in this way, but also as I was kind of reading it, I wrote down in my notes. I think I’m crazier now after I’ve read this book.

Justin:              Yeah, you’re next. I mean, the kid is like a charismatic sociopath who believes in this stuff and convinces other people to believe in it.

Alex:                 And it’s funny too, because there’s a line in here where it’s like, What’s the kid’s name?” And it’s like, “I don’t know, we call him the kid.” And I have a friend like that, if they knew that I didn’t know his actual name, we just call him the kid. He’d be pretty upset. I will say, and I don’t know if I can completely believe this premise, but I do feel like there’s a certain hesitance on King’s part to touch Watchmen. And I say that fully knowing there is a scene in here, that shows the characters and Watchmen interacting in a new way. But there’s something about it that feels like you have a book called Rorschach. You’re not actually focusing on Rorschach. What exactly is going on?

Pete:                Is it all about Rorschach?

Justin:              See, I disagree. I think what this book does, it takes the ideas of Rorschach, and really puts them on the table, and looks at them with a modern eye, in a way that I think gets deeper than just having Rorschach be like, hey, what’s up? Hey, what’s up blue guy?

Alex:                 Classic Rorschach line. What’s up dudes?

Pete:                What’s up? It’s me the Rorschach, [crosstalk 00:24:25].

Alex:                 I’m hanging 10 in here with you.

Pete:                Yeah, I just think it’s like a classic inkblot scenario. We’re all bringing our own things to the story and it’s just reflecting our own bullshit.

Alex:                 I don’t know how that connects it anyway to what we’re talking about.

Justin:              Yeah, exactly. What is that in relation to?

Alex:                 What are you even talking about Pete?

Justin:              Are you trying to test us?

Alex:                 [inaudible 00:24:53]. 1973, number one for Boom! Studios written by Saladin Ahmed, art by Sami Kivela. This is pick it up, of course, on previous series of Abbott. She is an investigator, She’s got some supernatural powers. I feel like I’ve only read one or two issues of Abbott, but this was a good jumping on point anyway. And I felt like as a pulpy, 1970s, supernaturally inflected mystery, it was very enjoyable to read.

Pete:                Abbott.

Justin:              Abbott. I agree. I mean, we don’t get much of the supernatural side of it. Just little gestures to it until the very end, but I really love the table setting in this issue and the sort of, just the vibe, it’s got a good sort of irreverent vibe throughout.

Pete:                Abbott. Yeah, I think that first off give a nod to, this is the year [inaudible 00:25:56] was born. So just want to give a shout out to that there.

Justin:              Not true.

Pete:                I know, I’m just messing with you [crosstalk 00:26:02].

Justin:              Pete loves telling lies about us. That’s what his bit for quite some time.

Alex:                 Pete was born in 1942. Yeah, that’s right. Sailed the ocean blue. But what I do… What’s nice is it’s an interesting way to deal with this kind of the creepy feeling of someone. I liked the Reveal at the end, and it kind of made sense with the things that happened. It’s one of those things where you’re like, you read it and you’re like, oh, okay. So I’m enjoying it. It’s weird, but I like it. Let’s move on to talk about Black Cat, King In Black, number two from Marvel, written by Jed McKay art by CF Villa. Of course, we had Jed McKay on our live show this week. So definitely-

Pete:                We did?

Alex:                 We did Pete, you were there and everything. So Black Cat is been tasked with stealing Dr. Strange from Knull, the king in Black, we get to see that heist this issue, this is so much fun.

Justin:              So much fun. I’ve said this, I said this a lot on the live show. I love this book. This book is so smartly done. It’s rare for me to see a character where she has multiple sides. So many superhero characters are… It’s like they do their one thing and we just see it a bunch of different ways. But the Black Cat really gets to be different things to different people, she gets to feel things, be very serious, be a little bit more lighthearted. And then just the heist of it all, is just so well done. Throwing on an antivenom suit to dive into the goop is such a smart idea, and it’s dramatic, it’s tense, there’s some spider immobile stuff.

Pete:                Really plugging the hell a lot of goop on the show. Yeah, I really… There’s also a lot of fun nerd stuff in here. Like the fact that she gets to fly on the goblin glider, and then the spider-buggy later. This is just… They have a lot of fun with this character, which is great to see. I love the baby bjorn with the Ghost Dog. I mean, this is just good shit. And it’s cool to kind of see this. I’m not a huge Black Cat fan, but I’m having a lot of fun.

Justin:              You love cats.

Pete:                It’s true, it’s a good point.

Alex:                 Speaking of which, let’s move on and talk about Batman/Catwoman number two from DC comics, written by Tom King, art by Clay Mann, and this issue, we’re jumping through multiple timelines here. We’re getting to see Batman and Catwoman do some stuff where the tracking down the Phantasm, I believe, who is killing the edge man of the Joker. In the future timeline, Cat woman has come to kill the old Joker. And maybe there’s another timeline in there. I got to be honest with you. Clay Mann’s art, gorgeous. Tom King’s write, good. I like reading this book. I am having a very hard time following what is happening in these issues.

Justin:              Well, it’s only the second issue. So, because I do sort of agree with you. It’s hard to connect the plots as it’s going.

Pete:                No, it’s too early. I don’t try to do that, this is Tom King guys. Just let’s lay off a little bit, enjoy the ride.

Alex:                 The thing is like, there’s not enough of an artistic or textual indicator for the timelines right now where, I understand part of the idea is that all of this mashed together. It’s all happening at the same time. It all connects to each other. But just from a reader perspective, there are some pages where it’s jumping between three timelines, and it takes me a second or two to realize, oh, okay, this is taking place at the middle timeline. This is duplicate of the first timeline. And that takes me out of the story a little bit.

Justin:              Well a second or two, you don’t have that kind of time to spare [crosstalk 00:29:58]. You were born in 1973.

Pete:                Easy speed reader. You don’t have to just plow through everything. Sometimes you got to stop and think about what’s happening a little bit.

Alex:                 I was a child of the love generation man.

Justin:              It’s true. Conceived in wood stack, born in the back of the Crosby Stills Nash and Young van.

Pete:                [inaudible 00:30:21] with all due respect, I disagree. I’m having a lot of fun on this book because I miss that Catwoman/Batman relationship.

Alex:                 This is a bizarre mirror world that we’re in, but go ahead, Pete.

Pete:                Yes. And so also I thought it was touching the way Joker wish Catwoman a Merry Christmas. I thought that was very nice. But yeah, we’re getting a lot of different worlds and different timelines mashed up. We’ve been getting an old villain from Batman, the animated series. But Tom King does an amazing job on Batman, and I’m going to let this breathe a little bit before I start getting to what timeline are we in. I’m just enjoying the ride, and the artwork and man is it great?

Justin:              Clay Mann, is he great? I do think part of it was, I think this book was, the expectations for this book were fun romance between Batman and Catwoman. It’s just not that, it’s like a whole new storyline and-

Pete:                No, but they’re dealing with stuff though. You can tell the [crosstalk 00:31:26] back and forth.

Justin:              Of course I think they are…

Pete:                Well, if you make it, it’s not always sunny, beaches, you know what I mean? Sometimes relationships get real. You got to have tough conversations man.

Justin:              I’ve never had a difficult conversation with anyone. Its all smooth sailing for old JT. No, my point is, you’re walking into this book and it’s just a different, it’s a whole different thing. There’re multiple timelines. There actually is very little romance in this. It’s about the Joker pretty exclusively so far, and the introduction of the Phantasm.

Justin:              But what I do think is amazing about this, it feels like Tom King is really writing toward Clay Mann. Every panel in this book feels like it’s so specific, it’s so curated. And it is just something to behold. Even the small panels are just perfect. There’s this section where the… It’s a close-up on the Joker with a candy cane, everything is so deliberate. And I think it’s great.

Pete:                Now I don’t know about you guys, but the part where the subway scene and getting a little spoilers, someone dies in the subway. I was like, oh man, that is the worst. You finally get a subway car all to yourself, and someone murders you, oh man, classic New York.

Justin:              You sound almost nostalgic for it, Pete. But I actually don’t think you live, you’re a new Yorker anymore, so you get that name out of your mouth.

Alex:                 The Scumbag, speaking of Pete, number four, [inaudible 00:33:02]. Its written by Ric Remender, art by Eric Powel. In this issue, our main Scumbag is heading on a discreet mission to eyes wide shut style orgy that is going on, things go predictably wrong. We had Remender on the show last week where we talked about this title. So it was fun to get his input, but what’d you think about this issue?

Pete:                Yeah, this is just insanity. But I do like how everybody’s skeeved out by The Scumbag, and that’s kind of funny how he can’t get himself into the one place he wants to be. But yeah, this continues to be amazing storytelling, fantastic art, creepy ass fucking dude that I don’t know why we’re rooting for, but we are. And just kind of this scenario keeps getting more and more intense.

Justin:              Yeah, I mean, I think the Pete bag is sort of one of Remender’s real good another great book from him. The art is fantastic and the way that he is just, you could tell, he’s having such a great time writing The Scumbag, for who he is. And I think Ric Remender with this, and another book we need to be talking about very soon, Seven To Eternity, it’s really playing with, why does the protagonist have to be good? And why is the villain bad? Maybe we can mix those. And I think he just does that really well. And same thing here. This guy’s a scumbag, but we still root for him. But he does a bunch of bad stuff, but he seems inherently good. And the bad guys seem like they’re just trying to do what everyone’s doing, getting by as best they can. It’s interesting storytelling.

Alex:                 Once & Future number 15 from Boom! Studios written by Kieron Gillen.

Pete:                Sorry, Justin.

Alex:                 Sorry Justin?

Pete:                Yeah, he was clearly teeing up Seven To Eternity, but you were like fuck that, we’re going Once & Future.

Alex:                 So I said out a list.

Pete:                Here we go, behind the scenes. You can’t stray from the list. If something comes up organically, we got to stick to the list here.

Justin:              Looking back, I don’t think we should have given Pete that much power at the beginning to have his little what’s up corner, because I think it’s really gone to his head.

Pete:                Yeah, I think the vodka is what-

Alex:                 You wanted to talk about Once & Future, I’m sure Pete, because the grabba is in this a lot. In this issue we find out about Lancelot, we also find out more about the backstory of what was going on, a great issue, fun as always, high octane drama and action, with some terrifying things going on as usual. Just another good issue of Once & Future.

Pete:                Good is an understatement man, this is great. The art’s unbelievable, the action is over the top, this continues to be one of the must pick ups of the week. Every time there’s an issue of Once & Future, it’s just continues to be phenomenal. The drama keeps getting more and more bad-ass, and we get to kind of see the other half, the why we’re kind of in this mess, in this issue. And I also really love the, I’m going to tell you a story, you’re going to tell me a story moment, and that first story is fucking really powerful, especially when you reveal scars.

Justin:              Yeah, I do… I like that we’re getting to really learn the rules of this comic as it’s going on. And this is your especially where, it’s a story about stories. But in this it’s about sort of who’s taking power, and who’s the storyteller, and which story are they telling? It feels like that’s the hat that everyone continues to pass over. Like, wait, who are you? Who are you in this story? Oh, I’m this? I started telling this story. I think that refreshes that sort of trope of a story about stories in a fun way. And the artists fantastic. Lancelot screaming in French, I mean, I’m here for it.

Alex:                 Yeah, absolutely. Let’s move on, talk about Maestro: War and Pax, number one from Marvel written by Peter David and Javier Pina. This picking up on the first Maestro mini-series here, the Hulk finally fully as the Maestro, but he hasn’t consolidated all of his power as of yet. So he’s going past the remnants of the Marvel universe. I think we talked about the first issue of the Maestro mini-series previously. So I thought it was worth checking in with this one. How do you think it’s holding up?

Pete:                Well, it’s kind of upsetting to see kind of a evil Hulk. So,

Justin:              Really?

Pete:                Usually I’m on the green guy’s side, so this is, it’s a little tough to see how this guy goes about business.

Justin:              Wow, heartbreaker. I like this a lot. I really like seeing the Pantheon from Peter David’s run way back in the day, characters that no one else has really touched since. And I like them. I also liked that the Hulk and… The Maestro and his squad just jump onto the Staten Island Ferry, and drive down to DC to go confront them, which is just a fun visual choice. And it’s great to see that the Maestro sort of messes up. You expect him to just dominate and it’s about him sort of not doing so had.

Alex:                 Yeah, I mean, Peter David is a baster of the comic book form. Just everything is perfectly paced out. His jokes work, everything works. The action works. It’s always a joy to read one of his books because they’re just, they’re firing on all cylinders every single time, even decades into his career as is at this point, and it’s great. Let’s move on talk about StillWater number five from Image Comics written by Chip Zdarsky, art by Ramón K. Perez.

Pete:                He’s really going to make you wait, Justin. Sorry buddy.

Justin:              I’m fine, I wasn’t [inaudible 00:39:14].

Alex:                 Oh my God. I mean, for those of you listened to the podcast, Justin is furious right now. You can see it just like flames coming out of his head. StillWater number five from Image Comics, this is a big issue here, as our main character has taken residence in StillWater, the town where nobody dies. Everybody has taken this as an opportunity to let the judge, the guy who rules the town know that, hey, they want to change things. They want to leave, they want to let the outside world know about stuff. Things go terribly wrong, and then they get more wrong from there. Then even then there were five issues in, it feels like this is whipping through story at this point.

Justin:              Yeah, but I think it’s really coming into its own. It’s starting to remind me a little bit of Southern Bastards. [crosstalk 00:40:12]. I think the judge has some coach boss vibe to him, and I just think the energy has that Southern Bastards is a great book by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour from years ago, that to sort of think was left open-ended, that I just wish we could see more of. But this is fun, it really is like, I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s feels like bad stuff is happening all around in this town that [inaudible 00:40:37].

Pete:                Yeah, it’s unfortunate that at this town, there’s a kind of a power hungry judge who’s not willing to hear the people. I think that this book continues to, with the twists and turns. We’re kind of finally getting everything all out on the page here in this issue. So we kind of know where everybody stands and what the kind of moving forward is going to look like. But man, even with all that, the kind of twists and turns that happen in this comic, we’re still pretty powerful and pretty crazy.

Alex:                 Yeah, last and definitely least.

Pete:                Sorry, Justin.

Alex:                 Seven To Eternity number 16, from Image Comics written by Rick Remender art by Jerome Opena. This is the second to last, I believe issue of this title as we talk to Rick Remender about. Here, we’re starting to wrap things up at an enormous battle way. This feels to me, I mean, they’re obviously very different stories, but it feels to me very much like the end of low, where we’re just getting these insane over the top battle scenes with all of our characters as he starts to wrap things up. But it’s great. I mean, in particular Jerome [inaudible 00:41:53] art is stunning on every page.

Justin:              Very good. And he’s managed to tell a story, like following up on what I was saying, honestly so long ago, but to flip the hero and the villain here and still surprise us. And at the same time telling like an epic Avengers or justice league style, like cosmic stakes battle with all original characters, it’s just really excellent comic making.

Pete:                Yeah. I mean, I can’t stop paging through the art. I mean the splash pages with the kind of waterfall, fallen giants thing is just, it’s really unbelievable. The monsters, it’s just really, really impressive. Yeah, the twists that happened, man, what a great book. I cannot wait to see how this wraps up. This is really, really great comic book, right here where we get to read.

Alex:                 Well, and I’ll tell you how The Stack is going to wrap up. It’s going to wrap up right now. If you’d like to support us patrion.com/comic book club. Also, we do a live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 PM to Crowdcast and YouTube, come hang out. We’d love to chat with you about comic books. iTunes, Android, Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice, just subscribe and listen to the show at Comic Book Live on Twitter, comicbookclublive.com for this podcast and more, until next time, we’ll see you at the Digital Cottage Book Shop.

Pete:                What’s up?

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