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PopFilter Podcast: Best of the Year (So Far), pt. 2

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The exciting conclusion to the Taste Buds’ (TM) best of the year show from Monday! Do you remember Monday? It was great, but this is better. Don’t believe me? Listen and find out how completely wrong you are.

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

WEEK EIGHT PREVIEW

ROUND ONEBATTLE EIGHTEEN

RED SKULL #1

RED_SKULL_1

JOSHUA WILLIAMS (w) • LUCA PIZZARI (a)
• One of the most vile villains of the Marvel Universe gets his very own twisted Secret Wars series!
• Red Skull should be dead but his legend grows, so a team of villains that includes Winter Soldier, Magneto and Lady Deathstrike are sent on a dangerous odyssey to the Deadlands to prove it…but no one ever comes back alive from the Deadlands!
• Forced to overcome zombies, Ultron drones and the Annihilation Wave, the rag-tag team of villains will find that they may bitten off more than they can chew…

VS

1872 #1

18721cover

GERRY DUGGAN (w) • NIK VIRELLA (a/C)
DEAD MAN’S HAND!
• BULLSEYE!
• ELEKTRA!
• GRIZZLY!
• DOC OCK!
• ‘NUFF SAID, PARTNER!

 

ROUND ONEBATTLE NINETEEN

AGE OF APOCALYPSE #1

AGE OF APOCALYPSE

FABIAN NICIEZA (w) • GERARDO SANDOVAL (a/C)
• His war has been won. The few humans left alive are enslaved, the mutant rebellion crushed. EN SABAH NUR, the APOCALYPSE, rules his BATTLEWORLD kingdom without mercy, but the terrorist X-MEN plan to end his reign. Success means finding one very special mutant named CYPHER and unleashing a weapon that will kill Apocalypse — and possibly all mutants, too!

VS

CIVIL WAR #1

CIVIL WAR

CHARLES SOULE (w)
LEINIL FRANCIS YU (a/C)
• The Civil War never ended. Welcome to the Warzone, where six years of non-stop battle between the forces of the Blue and the Iron have split the nation down its center, utterly transforming it. In a world of new alliances and strange enemies, President Tony Stark and General Steve Rogers meet to make one last attempt at peace.

 

 

 

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 2, BATTLE 5

Follow the bracket here!

FUTURE IMPERFECT #1-2

FUTIMP2015001_VAR

VS

GS_LITTLE_MARVEL_2

GIANT SIZE LITTLE MARVEL: AVX #1-2

 

Round One of this tournament, which is a bunch of first issues fighting each other, is all about setting up the novelty, if not the storyline of each different title. This is fine, but then we NEED to get some sort of stakes in the second issues. I know it seems like the stakes should be set up immediately, or at least by the end of the first issue, but I’m being a little more forgiving here for a couple of reasons. One, every first issue is not only establishing an entire new world, but a new world inside a larger new world. That’s a lot to do. On top of that, comic book writers, especially the ones that work for Marvel and DC, are used to having their stakes built in. They are typically working with characters who have been in the middle of their Act 2’s since the early sixties. This comes with its own inherent stakes, and fans that have a pretty good idea of what’s going on with the characters, but it might take them a minute to figure out the short-form world building of the Battleworld books. So, it’s OK if the first issues of each story sell us on the world, and the second issues let us know why we should care. Or, in Battleworld terms, issue one is “DOOM IS GOD,” and issue two is “ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW WHAT? FUCK DOOM.” Now that more and more second issues are coming out, and based on what’s going on in the main Secret Wars book, it seems like God Doom is going to have his hands full pretty soon, not just with the characters that escaped the 616 unscathed, but also the citizens of a lot of the worlds he created.

 

This is how the first two issues of Future Imperfect work. They throw us into a world based on an event of the past. They show who is down with Doom. Then they show how us how no one is. And then they begin to work their way towards what will most likely be an anti-climactic showdown, thanks to too many books over too long a time putting too much pressure on the finale. But in addition to that, Future Imperfect is mostly OK on its own, too. It plays around with a smart Hulk. It shines a new light on the Thing/Hulk battle that has been raging for 50 years now.  And it tells the story of how hard it is to be an asshole when there’s a bigger asshole standing in your way. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is a tired cliche, but it gets more interesting when people go against some of their beliefs in order to stop something that is against more of their beliefs. It’s not totally clear yet why Hulk and Thing would put aside their fundamental differences in order to take down Doom, or even how exactly they can help each other. But that’s OK. That’s what issue threes are for. That’s the kind of conversation that can fuel how compelling this book can be, while attaching it to the larger Secret Wars world. Right now, that’s all you need to make it into Round 3.

 

Sometimes, however, books can start to feel like the whole Battleworld event was set-up so the publisher could tell their writers and artists “Hey, do whatever you want with whichever characters you want.” I loved Giant Size Little Marvel: AVX. It wasn’t just the nice vaycay from the rest of what Marvel was doing, nor was it just the opportunity – any opportunity – to get some more of Skottie Young’s cartooning. It was the perfect blend of world introduction and forward progression, and all of that came to a screeching halt with issue two. After this latest one, it seems more like Marvel would have been better suited putting one-page stories about this world in the back of every Battleworld issue, as opposed to dedicating an entire title to it. It’s still a lot of fun, and the art will always be worth the price of admission alone, but this far into the event, we need some sort of hook to get us to keep buying. There are so many titles. It’s exasperating, and I can imagine that even readers who don’t have to write about every book that comes out are looking for any reason to cull their lists. GSLMAVX finds itself stuck in some sort of purgatory between telling a long-form story and a bunch of tiny skits. Neither one is working right now. The end of this issue finds two twins (basically Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) watching the Avengers and the X-Men fighting over which team they are going to be on (Get it? It’s like Fox and Marvel Studios). The two try and predict who will win one of the battles, one predicts wrong, and then it ends. It’s weird, and abrupt, and highlights what it’s missing. It’s missing the thing that I think the stories need at this point: the reason, either on a micro or macro level, to get us to keep tuning in. Future Imperfect has a long road ahead of it if it wants to take this whole tournament down, but the first two issues begin a story that can stand alone AND connect itself to the bigger world. That’s going to be one of, if not the, secret to winning.

– Ryan Haley

 

COME BACK MONDAY FOR MORE ROUND ONE ACTION!

RED SKULL! 1872! AGE OF APOCALYPSE! CIVIL WAR!

 

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 2, BATTLE 1

Follow the bracket here!

A FORCE #1&2

a-force-female-avengers.0

VS

Planet-Hulk-2015-teaser

PLANET HULK #1&2

In a battle as fun as it is enormous, A Force takes us on a journey to explore exactly why a utopian society is being felled by mysterious attacks and how its leaders deal with balancing the threat and their unwavering commitment to Doom. Planet Hulk takes us on a ride to discover how to take down the leaders of a dystopian society so that Captain America and his dinosaur can find their best friend and be free. Like I said, this battle is as fun and big as can be. The questions, however, is which comic deserves a spot in the sweet 16. This is the question that keeps me up at night. This is the question that plagues my waking hours.

Comics: Ruining my life.

Comics: Ruining my life.

In looking at both books, the ideas of allegiance and the all-crushing hand of Lord Doom are front and center. How are you supposed to answer to a man that you believe in, however incompletely? Knowing his power and understanding his position only takes you so far before you have to contemplate exactly how just his policies are. With A Force, we see She-Hulk fumble with loyalty to her God and loyalty to her team, resulting in everyone questioning her position. In Plant Hulk, we see a man decide that loyalty, however facetious to his God, is a worthy deceit if it will allow him the freedom to fight back. The battle, then, breaks down to how well each book does or does not make the reader believe in motive, action and consequence. And though both are absolutely tremendous reads, the edge goes to A Force.

I don't know. This seems to be some pretty fantastical shit.

I don’t know if I believe this shit. I mean, “X-Ray” spectacles???

In A Force, we see She-Hulk put herself in the very real situation of having to decide between her personal satisfaction and the greater good. Relenting to the demands of an angry Doom, She-Hulk and her team are forced to lose one of their own for the sake of keeping their creator content. Her motive for doing so is clear and her actions logically follow. She has nothing but difficult decisions to make and she does her absolute best to appease everyone, resulting, as always, in almost no one being appeased. Half way through the second book, I found myself shouting, “Fuck you, Dazzler! If you think you can do better, why don’t you try leading the A Force?! Oh, because all you can do is disco light bullshit? Exactly! Shut up, all of you!”. Then I remembered I was reading a comic book. And I was in public. My day off was out of control.

And the day only got weirder from there.

And the day only got weirder from there.

And so, A Force is able to win me over with an incredible story as well as drama and tension that is so completely relatable that you almost forget that a sentinel may come down at any moment and try to step all over your main characters. And while Planet Hulk does an equally great job at presenting wacky shit, the character moments are fewer and farther between. It’s a fun, adventurous romp through jungles and dunes with giant everythings jumping out of everywhere, but the Captain’s motive for justice at all costs is simply mishandled. As virtuous as the Captain is and as important as it is to get to the titular planet ASAP in the books, the time we spend with our hero is brief and hollow compared to the amount of desolate destruction we are hurled into before the end of the first book. Believe me when I say that I’m not asking for a 3-page soliloquy detailing the Captain’s every emotion and thought, but A Force gives me that little something extra to keep me wanting more. By the end of the second book, it felt like Planet Hulk would be fun battle with external forces. By the end of A Force’s second book, I could not wait to see more of its battle with a team’s internal struggle.

Internal team struggles.

Internal team struggles.

And there you have it; that Marguerite Bennett did it again! She refuses to write boring characters and she is a master at fusing real world relationships and drama with the insanity of storylines that only exist in comic books. Sorry everyone else, Marguerite Bennett is fucking killing it right now and her books move on to fight another day in the sweet 16 of the Battleworld Battleworld bracket. May Doom have mercy on whomever she faces next.
With Love,
Jason R. Noble

 

PopFilter Podcast: Best of the Year (So Far), pt. 1

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It’s finally here! Your Taste Buds (TM) finally tell you the 5 best albums, television shows and films that have come out so far in the year 2015! Which do you like, which do you love and which do you think they should all be lined up and shot in the face for picking? Let them know with violent emails!

Also, please do be sure to tune in on Wednesday when the other shoe drops. It is quite good.

Super Hero Hour Hour 7/3/15

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This week, Ryan and Mike discuss Daredevil‘s penultimate episode as well as another episode of Dark Matter, starring Captain Mark Datter, king of the idiots. They also talk all the news about comic books and are just generally great.

Listen in, buckle up, sit down, jump around and go nuts.

PopFilter Versus: Non-Marvel/Non-DC Superheroes

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With the glut of superheroes drowning all of pop culture right now, it’s surprising the dual-monopoly Marvel and DC have. Sure they’re the BIG TWO, and have ruled the longest, with the most successes, but there are countless other companies and characters out there. We’ll soon hit third and fourth tier characters hitting TV and movies, but will they have the same lasting power in the new frontier? There’s only one way to find out, but until then listen to Ryan and Mike rattle of their top 5 favorite non-Marvel/non-DC superheroes!

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

WEEK SEVEN PREVIEW

 

ROUND TWOBATTLE ONE

A-FORCE #1-2

AFORCESW2015002_NOTFINAL

MARGUERITE BENNETT & G. WILLOW WILSON (w)
JORGE MOLINA (a/C)
• With monsters appearing on the utopian island of Arcadia and threatening its inhabitants, She-Hulk and her team of Avengers set out to discover the source.
• But when they stumble upon a conspiracy that reaches far beyond Arcadia, She-Hulk may just find herself on the wrong side of the law!

VS.

PLANET HULK #1-2

Planet_Hulk_2

SAM HUMPHRIES (w) • MARC LAMING (a)
• Gladiator STEVE ROGERS, his trusty steed DEVIL DINOSAUR and the mysterious DOC GREEN go deeper into one of the most dangerous domains of BATTLEWORLD, the HULK infested territory known as GREENLAND!
• WILD HULKS in the jungle! GIANT HULKS in lakes of fire!
• But is the journey the most perilous part of this hellish mission or is it one of the travelers?

 

ROUND TWOBATTLE FIVE

FUTURE IMPERFECT #1-2

FUTIMP2015001_VAR

PETER DAVID (w)
GREG LAND (a/C)
MONSTER SMASH!!!
• A BATTLE ROYALE between THE MAESTRO and the THING!!!
• But is it the BEN GRIMM we know and love under that rocky hide?
• What X-FACTOR member will show up as an unexpected ally of the rebels?

VS.

GIANT SIZE LITTLE MARVEL: AVX #1-2

GS_LITTLE_MARVEL_2

SKOTTIE YOUNG (w) • SKOTTIE YOUNG (a/C)

• Our heroes may be little, but boy are they fierce!  The land of Marville brings you the best of Marvel as they face-off in a battle of the fittest, in a slightly smaller package.
• Super-powered dodgeball, high-tech hideouts and eye-puns a plenty, Marvel’s most adorable heroes aren’t pulling any punches in this larger-than-life, fun-size adventure.




 

 

 

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 1, BATTLE 17

Follow the bracket here!

KORVAC SAGA #1

SW_KORVAC_SAGA

VS

X-MEN ’92 #1

XM92_HIRES.0

 

I wanna say up top that I’m not too impressed with either of this weeks offerings.  And that’s ok.  In any massive, visceral fight to the death, there’s gonna be a few stragglers who just…don’t seem to be on board.  You know?  The ones that just stand in the arena corners, waiting for enough bodies to drop so they can crawl under them and pretend to be dead already?  But it’s like, we know what you’re doing and it doesn’t even work.  Of course we’re going to check under the bodies for cowards and make them face each other down.  It’s like they think we haven’t done this before.  Whatever – the point is that it’s my job as the announcer/writer to make even their cowardice interesting.  I have to describe their shaky posture and frightened little faces so well that it’s like that becomes the main attraction.

kid-with-gun

but if we taught our children to fight to the death responsibly, from a young age, stuff like this wouldn’t happen in the first place.

So let’s start with X-Men ’92, which is based on the original ’90s cartoon.  X-Men ’92 was an infinity comic – that’s one of those fancy digital comics where it hides the panels from you and zooms out and stuff.  It’s like close-up magic for comic books.  And it will help me demonstrate my beef with X-men ’92 perfectly.  One of the first pages is the typical “here’s the team” introduction with pictures and a little blurb below them.  Because it’s an infinity comic, the panels are being revealed one-by-one, building up the tension.  So you click and see Rogue, a little blurb about Rogue, you click again, and there’s Storm!  You remember these guys, right!? Oh what fun.  But we know the whole time that this is Battleworld and most people are at least bracingly familiar with the X-Men cartoons, so the expectation is that the last panel revealed is going to be some sort of crazy twist.  There’s Logan, but he’s got blue skin! Or whatever!  Just something fun and different.

People love it when you randomly change stuff around!

People love it when you randomly change stuff around!

It seems like what’s happening with X-Men ’92 is that there’s some kind of extreme loyalty to the original cartoon going on, and then some very minimal changes are being made to make it fit into the Battleworld canon.  So like, Senator Kelly is Baron Kelly now, and then we’re done.  It left me in a place where I felt like I would just watch the cartoons again if I missed them.  It’s nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake, which is fine, but doesn’t lend itself to good writing.  Especially in the context of a giant event where the whole point is to put strange twists on all the old characters you’re familiar with.

It literally can't go wrong!

It literally can’t go wrong!

Korvac Saga fits a lot more comfortably within the scope of Battleworld.  I guess what made it feel lackluster is that at this point in the game, Battleworld’s separate storylines should be building up and creating an overall emotional tone even when they’re not directly intersecting.  And it’s not that Battleworld as a whole hasn’t done that – it’s very clear that this is a world full of 1) strangeness and 2) intrigue.  Really the problem is that each series has hit on these notes so heavily and dogmatically that they’ve sort of lost their impact.

This is how Marvel plays piano.

This is how Marvel plays piano.

I have a feeling that I’d be more kind towards Korvac Saga if it came earlier in the cycle.  There’s nothing wrong with the storytelling, and I’d even be on board to read the next issue.  It’s just a meta game call at this point – it’s floating in a tank full of other mysterious, strange stories that feel an oppressively strong need to remind the reader of their own mysteriousness/strangeness.  That said, it still clearly takes the win over X-Men ’92, which felt like hanging out with old high school friends that want to prove so hard that they’ve changed but still listen to Papa Roach and wear Abercrombie and Fitch.

Battleworld Battleworld

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 2, BATTLE 4

Follow the bracket here!

SECRET WARS JOURNAL #1-2

Secret_Wars_Journal_Vol_1_2_Textless

VS

WHERE MONSTERS DWELL #1-2

Where_Monsters_Dwell_Vol_2_2_Textless

And now we get into the pure silliness that comics have always been driven by. On one side we have 2 mini-stories in Secret Wars Journal, where Misty Knight and Paladin are dirty cops trying to score the same payday as all the villains in Killville, and the second story where a cabal of Sinisters keeps a version of Matt Murdock and Elektra as slaves. Where Monsters Dwell continues the adventures of Flying Ace Karl Kaufmann and Clemmie Franklin-Cox, two turn-of-the-century screwball archetypes stuck in the Savage Land. Shit’s bananas, and so much fun.

This_acead1_944371

Given that one of the books is an anthology, it has to rely much more heavily on the fact that you know these characters and want to see the alternate versions of them. Versus Where Monsters Dwell, which has the luxury to slowly build its story, and let the readers get o know the characters on their own terms. Both experiences can be enjoyable, but one is inherently hamstrung. I’m fine with alternate versions, some of my favorite books in general are Elseworlds; I feel I have to state that since in past articles I’ve talked down on the alternates quite heavily. The issue is when there’s nothing behind the gimmick, other than that moment of, “Oh, that’s how Spiderman’d be if he was a State Senator…” In the first story of SW Journal, that’s exactly what we get. Here are a couple of D-list characters fighting through a swath of bad guys. It’s loud, dumb, pretty fun, and in the end doesn’t really matter. It’s like a pop-tart comic book. You’re not disappointed you’re consuming it, but instantly forget you did. The second story has much more meat on its bones, and not just because it has a darker tone than the Killville story. But a setup where Matt Murdock is the best chef in Battleworld due to his heightened senses, and is enslaved by a group of Mr. Sinisters? That’s an alternative we can dig into. There’s room to grow, and see how this specific world works with these specific versions of the characters. A mute Elektra as Matt’s forbidden love (and Sinister’s assassin) adds a tragic underpinning to the tale, as does Murdock giving her lemon pie every night as the only bit of affection allowed to them. This shit is heartbreaking, and well written to boot.

img_70442ba

The key to any assassin’s heart. 

Just to prove dumb fun can win over heavy-feels, Where Monsters Dwell is obviously the clear winner today. As strong as the Sinister/Murdock/Elektra story is, it has to balance with the Misty Knight/Paladin/Kraven story. WMD is having a ball fleshing out its characters, and making the reader despise Karl Kaufmann. Not only does he come off as a rake and a bastard, but they’re doing a splendid job of showing how shitty all of the romantic leads from the 30s really were. Clemmie is a stone-cold badass, and her manipulations of Kaufmann are a joy to watch unfold as she guides him through the hellish jungles of the Savage Land. Fans of any sort of screwball have to know, that at some point these two crazy kids are going to end up together, but even with that foresight it’s a pleasure watching them bounce off of each other and the natives and monsters surrounding them. There are few books in this bracket that I giddily wait for the next issue to drop to see what will happen, and WMD is at the head of that pack. It moves on, though I really hope we get more of the Sinister story at some point.-MG

TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR SOME ROUND 1 ACTION, AS KORVAC SAGA TAKES ON X-MEN 92!

PopFilter Podcast Episode 202

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This week, the Taste Buds (TM) all discuss the new HBO show The Brink and really dig into Noah Baumbach’s latest in While We’re Young. They also build a mountain to the world’s most Stiller-y actor; BEN STILLER! If that’s not enough, they also say mean things to each other and try to induct another round of nouns into the PopFilter Hall of Fame.

Your eyes are jealous of your ears right now.

Battleworld Battleworld

BattleworldBattleWorld

Round 1, Fight

Welcome to battle 16 of Round One!

Follow the bracket here!

 

Where E is for Extinction

4430991-1+e-is_for_extinction_sw

vs

 Age of Ultron vs Marvel Zombies

age_of_ultron_vs_marvel_zombies_1_cover-jpg

E is for Extinction is about the X-Men. We open with a class of X-Men sometime after Professor X is murdered and Scott Summers has been relegated to the role of aging boy-scout. The mutants are still at odds with the humans, but the tables have turned. Mutants are the oppressive majority with a few rogue humans who are running around constantly trying to steal mutant powers. If that weren’t upsidedown enough, Magneto is the leader of the X-men.

magneto

In this future world where Doom is God, couples go to fertility specialists (Beast is some kind of OBGYN in this world, I guess?) to make sure their children are of superior stock, a.k.a mutant.

Buried within the story is the idea that evolution can evolve.  Magneto is still trying to make the world a better place for mutants. He believes the only way to do this is to eradicate humankind. So, in this comic, rather than being a genocidal maniac, he would like to see human simply bred out of the population. A couple goes to see Beast, the mutant fertility specialist (groan.) They want to be able to genetically manipulate their unborn child into being a mutant. Beast explains how rare sperm with the mutant gene used to be. Ten years ago, one out of every 20 men had any sperm with the mutant gene. In the present day, Beast admits that he hasn’t found a fertile male without them. That is some speedy evolution. Not only is that a change in the genetic makeup of mankind, but the social sector. In a single generation, mutants went from being the outcasts to being the fittest and most desireable race. That’s a big swing in a relatively short amount of time. Even Cyclops is conflicted.

scott

He looks like a combination of Hank Hill and John Wayne

E for Extinction is a pretty interesting take on an old X-men theme. I especially like the focus on Scott Summers, besides the fact that he is teaming up with Wolverine. #Dream-team.

 

Next up we have Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies. It is so hard to keep up with this comic. This world is very dangerous. People are caught between an army of robots that people stopped caring about once Jurassic World came out versus a team of zombies people stopped caring about a decade ago. Of course there are some interesting questions raised. What happens if you drop a human in between a group that hates imperfection (humans) and a group that loves things that have delicious heads made up of delicious fruitcake (humans). Wackiness? Sure. But it’s the kind of wackiness you’ve been getting every God damn Wednesday from half a dozen other Secret Wars comics. It’s not bad. It’s not great. It went up against E is for Extinction. If someone had thought to name their comic MZVAOU is for Marvel Zombies vs Age of Ultron, maybe they would have fared better. But E takes advantage of the fact that it is in a whole new world, where the rules of who your characters are or how your art is supposed to be drawn don’t apply. So, good job MSVAOU, but in the meantime, E moves on to Round 2.

 

Super Hero Hour Hour 6/26/15

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On this episode of The S.H.H.H., Ryan and Mike finally get to the pen-penultimate episode of Daredevil. Have you guys noticed that sometimes on Daredevil, Wilson and Matt seem sort of similar? Is that a thing with this show? Is that a thing with other shows? Do they make horse socks? Is anyone listening to me? Also Dark Matter. Tune in. Tune on. Tune out. Don’t tune out. Period.

Tune in. normal talking people talk.

PopFilter Versus: Summer Songs Bracketology

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It’s the first week of summer, and you know what that means! Time to roll down those windows, and crank that fun summer tunage! Sure, you don’t really like the music, and the lyrics are sophomoric and trivial, but there’s something so fuckin summer about summer songs. Listen in as Ryan and Mike force the top 16 summer songs to battle out bracket-style, until only one reigns supreme. Who will it be? You decide!*

 

*You don’t actually decide. They already did.

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 2, BATTLE 3

Follow the bracket here!

INFINITY GAUNTLET #1-2

4451966-infinity_gauntlet_2

VS

OLD-MAN-LOGAN-2-2435e

OLD MAN LOGAN #1-2

 

There’s a reason why Spider-Man remains Marvel’s company mascot, the character that is clearly their favorite among a stable of thousands of characters. It’s not just because he happens to be the most popular, and Marvel loves whoever is the most popular (see: Wolverine). No, Marvel loves Spider-Man because Marvel is Spider-Man. He’s an upstart punk. He’s a little less serious. He wears his heart/melodrama right there on his sleeve. He’s a hero, while still trying to be a hero. He tries to be funny, and although he rarely is, he’s Richard fucking Pryor compared to everyone else around him. This is why you see Marvel kicking down doors just to get Peter Parker to cameo in their movies, but you don’t see them doing shit about Wolverine and the Human Torch. Peter Parker’s story may not be the greatest fictional story ever told, but it’s the most Marvel story, and they have been chasing that high since August 10th, 1962. Some of those have been garbage, sure, but some of those have been great. Some of them have even led to movies you’ve seen, or will see soon. And if you act fast enough, you might be able to catch another great one before it blows up into a TVvideogameMOVIEbedspread.

Infinity Gauntlet #1 wasn’t my favorite issue of Battleworld so far. It was a little all over the place, almost like it was trying to hard to be an average first issue, full of exposition and set-up. It was able to make it out of the first round, though, and now it kind of doesn’t matter how many information dumps there were, because now we have the second issue. Now everything is already starting to pay off, or develop the extreme stakes for the rest of this series. “High stakes” doesn’t necessarily mean the world is about to end; each story sets up its own levels, and then tries to deliver on them. If the stakes were the world ending, I wouldn’t really care, because we’re reading about a temporary world that was built to end soon anyway. What’s the best way to create stakes, then? Making us care whether or not the lives of characters are about to end. In the case of Infinity Gauntlet, it’s the Bakian family. The father, who is leading and protecting his daughters through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, one of Doom’s favorite backgrounds. The mother, who ditched her family years ago to become a Nova, but is now back. The youngest daughter, a scared little kid. And then there’s the oldest daughter, Menzin. Menzin is a street-wise smart ass. Menzin is tired of being told she’s too young. She’s ready to grow up. She’s quick and witty. She’s ready to prove to everyone else that she’s the hero she knows she is destined to be. And she just became a member of the Nova Corps. And then we get a quick training montage. Any of this sound familiar?

Don’t think that this is Marvel desperately trying to recreate the success that they had fifty years ago. It’s not desperation. It’s knowing a slam dunk recipe for a story when you see it, and it’s knowing the types of story you’re great at telling. You watch this family (who all became Novas by the way – it just feels mostly like Menzin’s story) slowly fly for the first time together, and your stomach drops a little bit, because one of these characters isn’t coming home. Then you get to the end of the book, and see that at least one Thanos is marching his way towards the Bakians. So we’ll get to watch Menzin thrive and fail at learning how to be a hero, wondering if she’ll get her shit together before god damn Thanos finds her. It’s a different world than we’re used to, full of characters we’ve never heard of, but that sounds pretty Marvel to me.

So, it is with great regret that I must tell Old Man Logan that his journey stops in Round 2. The slick greatness of the first issue is ground to a halt in the second one, where we get all of that exposition we avoided initially. If you are reading the main Secret Wars book, and just want more information about that, as opposed to the great tangential stories the world has set up for us, then go Old Man Logan. There’s some interesting things regarding what would happen if all of these characters (which would mean like 30 Wolverines) got thrown into the same world. If this book is cruising toward a battle royale with 30 Wolverines, then it might pick up some steam. But based on the first two issues, it’s Infinity Gauntlet who makes it into the Sweet 16.

 

– Ryan Haley

 

 

TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR MORE ROUND 2 ACTION, AS SECRET WARS JOURNAL TAKES ON WHERE MONSTERS DWELL!

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

WEEK SIX PREVIEW

 

ROUND TWOBATTLE THREE

INFINITY GAUNTLET #1-2

 4451966-infinity_gauntlet_2

DUSTIN WEAVER & GERRY DUGGAN (w)
DUSTIN WEAVER (a/C)
VARIANT COVER BY TBA
• Thanos vs. Nova!

VS

OLD MAN LOGAN #1-2

OLD-MAN-LOGAN-2-2435e

BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (w) • ANDREA SORRENTINO (a/C)
• He may be an Old Man, but never before has the world needed Logan as much as it does now.
• The people he loved have become mere memories. The world that he loved has decayed, becoming a festering Wasteland.
• But in a world devoid of heroes, even someone who is the best there is at what he does may find themselves overmatched by evil.

 

ROUND TWOBATTLE FOUR

SECRET WARS JOURNAL #1-2

Secret_Wars_Journal_Vol_1_2_Textless

KEVIN MAURER and SI SPURRIER (w)
CORY SMITH and JONATHAN MARKS (a)
• It’s Kraven’s Last Hunt in KILLVILLE…and Detectives Misty Knight and Paladin are the hunted!
• Lord Sinister’s secret weapon is his top shelf chef, MATT MURDOCK! But what happens when Sinister comes between Murdock and his love, rare food scout COLLEKTRA?
• The BEST SECRET WARS ANTHOLOGY continues! YOU HEARD US, SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD!

VS

WHERE MONSTERS DWELL #1-2

Where_Monsters_Dwell_Vol_2_2_Textless

GARTH ENNIS (w) • RUSSELL BRAUN (a)
• Karl Kauffman, a.k.a. The Phantom Eagle, is in way over his head and he is only just scratching the surface of the Valley of Flames.
• This new terrifying area of the Marvel Universe is full of suprises!

 

ROUND ONEBATTLE SIXTEEN

AGE OF ULTRON VS MARVEL ZOMBIES #1

age_of_ultron_vs_marvel_zombies_1_cover-jpgJAMES ROBINSON (w) • STEVE PUGH (a)
THE ULTIMATE DEATH SENTENCE IN BATTLEWORLD
• There’s a place that’s so dangerous it’s walled off from the rest of BATTLEWORLD…
• …where WILD ZOMBIES feast on those who’ve been banished for crimes against the state.
• …where cold, mechanical ULTRONS destroy anything that’s human.
• Pity those who get caught between the two, for their death WON’T be fast and painless!

VS

E IS FOR EXTINCTION #1

4430991-1+e-is_for_extinction_sw

CHRIS BURNHAM (w) • RAMON VILLALOBOS (a)
• What happens when mutants prove they really are Homo SUPERIOR?
• What will happen to the X-Men when they fight for a world that wants to be them, rather than hate and fears them?
• And what exactly is Magneto doing running the Xavier institute??

 

ROUND ONEBATTLE SEVENTEEN

KORVAC SAGA #1

SW_KORVAC_SAGA

DAN ABNETT (w) • OTTO SCHMIDT (a/C)
• Lord Michael Korvac governs the Forest Hills, but his domain is threatened by rival lords, chaotic threats from beyond the Wall, and, worst of all, a dark madness that is spreading through the population.
• Led by the noble Major Victory, Korvac’s loyal Guardians must find the source of the evil before it corrupts the world as they know it.

VS

X-MEN ’92 #1

XM92_HIRES.0

CHRIS SIMS & CHAD BOWERS (w) • SCOTT KOBLISH (a)
• Everyone’s favorite version of the X-Men from the ’90s is back!
• When Baron Kelly charges the Clear Mountain Project and it’s mysterious new director with “mutant rehabilitation,” it’s up to the X-Men to investigate!
• PLUS: Free Range Sentiels?!?

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 1, BATTLE 14

Follow the bracket here!

WEIRDWORLD
Weirdworld_1_Cover-600x911

VS

Runaways-1-Cover-260b7

BATTLEWORLD: RUNAWAYS

If there’s one thing that Battleworld: Runaways makes clear it’s that intro comics have a lot of groundwork to cover.  Even without having to explain the twists and nuances of the Battleworld setting, you’ve got like 24 pages to introduce the characters, introduce the setting, introduce the plot, set the plot in motion, resolve the plot within the issue while establishing the next plot’s issue…it ain’t easy.  And you’re always going to be drinking from the firehose.  But Battleworld: Runaways handles all this with a certain grace, hitting you with a barrage of one-note characters whose roles are clearly established and setting their inter-relationships into motion.  The one-note-ness of the characters is completely palatable because the writer also makes it clear that these are the beginning notes of a character and not their whole summation.

Sometimes it's about the single notes that you don't hit

Sometimes it’s about the single notes that you don’t hit

Runaways, more than any other series I’ve read, also slots amazingly into the intrigue/batshit insanity/secret agenda-filled nature of Battleworld.  The original series follows a bunch of marginally powered teens as they discover that their parents are a secret cabal of super villains.  You’re watching their teenaged, drama-filled lives get turned upside down and in Battleworld you’re seeing the same thing.  It’s just that the whole world has already been turned upside down and now it’s just being shaken further.  It really is a seamless transition.

at this point it's just...nice to recognize things.

at this point it’s just…nice to recognize things.

Weirdworld is putting itself in a fairly delicate position.  It’s…called Weirdworld, and it’s kind of about how Weird this one World is.  But given everything else that’s going on in Battleworld, is that really a great way to brand yourself?  Do you want to stand toe-to-toe with Reed Richard’s Dr Doom fantasy land full of hulks and thors and zombies and pride yourself on how weird you are?

Is this really the lot you want to cast for yourself?

Is this really the lot you want to cast for yourself?

Weirdworld tells a fine story – it’s sort of an Odyssey-meets-Marvel-Mashup kinda deal and there’s some decent twists in there.  What it honestly comes down to is that there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on, but the series just really wants to focus on this weird angle.  Like does it even make sense that there’s a place called weirdworld on Battleplanet?  What the fuck could there possibly be about this place that made everyone go “Ok well THIS is just too much.”

I mean what kind of weirdo just traipses around in wolf fur??

I mean what kind of weirdo just traipses around in wolf fur??

Runaways is where it’s at.  The series looks primed to go places, and if it cashes in on even a bit of the original comic’s potential you’re in for a show.  And as an added bonus, they won’t all be walking around and pointing at how weird everything is while they do it.

PopFilter Podcast Episode 201

Play

This week, the Taste Buds ™ get right back to work discussing the best of pop culture! They build their usual mountain, this time in honor of actors that got their start with Disney and then get right into TBS’s newest sitcom Clipped as well as the much lauded Timbuktu! They do some other stuff, but it is solely for entertainment purposes. Please do not attempt these stunts at home.

BATTLEWORLD BATTLEWORLD

BATTLEWORLDBATTLEWORLD

ROUND 1, BATTLE 15

Follow the bracket here!

THORS

Thors_1_Cover

VS

Squadron1-01

SQUADRON SINISTER

Holy fuck! Another battle in the Battleworld Battleworld bracket and this shit is getting even crazier. This particular battle sees Thors (an hilarious new sitcom coming to NBC this Fall) and Squadron Sinister (a slightly less hilarious sitcom) go head to head in a known-down, drag out street fight. Let us get to the meat and all of the potatoes.

And I mean ALL of the potatoes.

And I mean ALL of the potatoes.

In an odd choice, Thors is basically an episode of Law and Order with superheroes as all of the characters not matter how big or small they may seem. There are crime scenes, latex gloves, rookie cops being fucking idiots, veteran cops talking about how they’re not as young as they used to be and a whole host of other procedural bullshit. That said, I have to admit that the best way to make a show like Law and Order more interesting is to make people with super human strength and crushing responsibilities act out the painful dialogue. It might not be enough to make a book stand out as excellent, but it certainly elevated its source material. For all of the “single panel page” moments of superhero badassery however, this book gets mired in weird cop minutia that makes it kind of a paint-by-numbers bummer. Thors was basically a battle of flying hammers and talking frogs going up against paperwork and pouring over missing persons reports. Almost unbelievably, the latter won.

THORS!

THORS!

And then we have Squadron Sinister, which is, in a word, bonkerz (WITH A Z!). When a group of bad guys are your protagonists, your script, for better or for worse, will always be given a little bit more leeway. Your cheesiness is allowed to be a little cheesier and your hand needn’t be as deft as is usually expected. And even with those graces, Squadron Sinister kicks the fucking balls off of Thors. That’s not to say that Thors is a bad book, but this Squadron Sinister shit is fucking great. All of the drama, all of the passion and all of the suspense that you wanted from the Thors book is just plainly done more effectively here and with much more fluidity than it has any right to. Squadron Sinister never forgets that a comic book needs to have as much explanation as it has action and a little bit of levity goes a long way. They were making a stew and they nailed in with a perfect balance of comic book flavors.

Most prominent flavor: ink.

Most prominent flavor: ink.

So yes, Squadron Sinister is going to take down the mighty Thors, and that is a sentence that would have meant nothing to me 2 years ago. The thing is though, I have been reading up on these “comic” books as they’re called, and I have noticed that this Jason Aaron guy is pretty fucking good at what he does. Scalped, Southern Bastards and a number of his other works are incredible. My concern was that his more mainstream books would either be elevated by his incredible voice or the iron fist of Big Comics would force his square peg into a round hole. Unfortunately, with Thors, Aaron’s edge and nuanced character work I have grown to love is all but obliterated. Again, he shits better stuff that most guys can hope to write, but when you go against a book like Squadron Sinister “good enough” is, quite simply, not good enough.

Honestly though, I will never be able to stay mad at that beautiful, bearded face.

Honestly though, I will never be able to stay mad at that beautiful, bearded face.

And so it is that I must say goodbye to my dear Jason Aaron (pictured above) and Thors and say congratulations to Squadron Sinsiter. You were both worthy adversaries but when a dude rips a guy’s arms off and flies away saying “weakness is a capitol offense”, you fucking take note and call that book the winner.

With Love,
Jason R. Noble

Super Hero Hour Hour 6/19/15

Play

On this, the absurdly newest episode of The Super Hero Hour Hour, Mike and Ryan introduce themselves to the world of Dark Matter, a show they’re forced to watch based on the fact that it itself was based on a Dark Horse comic book. They also review the 10th episode of Daredevil and give out the Hourie for Best Guest Performance in a TV Show Based on a Comic Book.

Be there. Be quere. Get used to it.