Two Guys Talking Comics: X-Men, Spider-Verse, and Skitch joins the crew!

Maillaro: My name is Mike Maillaro, I am a certified geek and a bonafide nerd and you can’t teach that.  And this right here is Big Grey. He’s our editor-in-chief…and you can’t teach that.    Bada boom, realest guys in the room.


Grey: How you doin?!


Maillaro: We got quite a few comics to talk about this week, but I wanted to start with a more broad topic  I have a real love and hate relationship with weekly comics.  This month in particular has been brutal on the wallet. .  Edge of Spider-Verse…$4 an issue. Batman Eternal $4…Future’s End $4.  Not to mention my usual load of weekly digitals.  Batman ‘66 $2. Batman Beyond $1. Smallville $1. Injustice $1. Arrow/Flash $1. Sensation Comics $1.  You’re talking $19 right off the top.  Even Death of Wolverine ($5 an issue) was supposed to be weekly, though that got delayed.


Grey: You’re telling me, brother. Well, actually, Eternal and Future’s End are just $3, but for my list you have to add four $4 Marvel books and two $5 Marvel books. I did the worlds happiest happy dance when Death of Wolverine got delayed, because Superior and Thor were both five bucks this week. Ridiculous. At least with DC jacking the price up for the 3D covers they give you the option to get the standard price for the standard cover or for digital.


Maillaro: Kind of weird since I do everything digital.  I haven’t even seen the 3D covers.  I actually have them all, but am way behind on my DC books, so by the time I start them, we will probably already be at Blood Moon 😉


But I can’t understand how Marvel can possibly justify $5 an issue for their books, especially ones that are normal length.  It makes it impossible to follow these books.  And it’s not like they price drop the digital ones on a regular basis.  I really do love a lot of what Marvel puts out, but I don’t feel like taking out a second mortgage just to keep up…




All-New X-Men #32


Maillaro: Pretty cool issue, though it felt way too short.  Take the All New X-Men, drop them in the Ultimate Universe after an encounter with a young mutant girl who freaked out and sent them across the universe.  Kind of funny…we went like 12 years without the Marvel Universe crossing over with the Ultimate Universe, and now it seems to happen all the time.


Grey: I really enjoyed it, despite my open and admitted hatred of the Ultimate Universe. My favorite part was Laura and the massive panic she causes in the first thirty seconds of being there. I really think they missed out by having her running from the cops only take two pages, they could have made it epic! I also love how completely cool about it Beast was.


Maillaro: Yeah, if nothing else, Bendis clearly loves the Ultimate Universe.  It was nice to see Wolvie Jr. again.  Basically, the only real Ultimate book left is Ultimate Spider-Man.  Ultimates is cancelled….Ultimate FF is cancelled.  BUT neither of those books were all that great anyway.  It is definitely a universe on it’s last legs, and probably should have ended with Ultimatum…and then again with Cataclysm.  But I digress…


Grey: For me it ended when Blob ate Wasp, I didn’t need to stick around for Galactus to eat New Jersey. Miles just needs to hop over to the core Marvel Universe and get it over with.


Maillaro: Oddly enough, it seems like Miles actually exists in the 616 universe.  It was hinted at the end of Spider-Men.  When I heard Miles would be showing up in All-New X-Men, I kind of assumed it would just be that one.  But, I totally agree, salvage Miles by bringing him to 616, and put Ultimate out of all our miseries.  NOW.


Grey: All-New Ultimate Spider-Man NOW!


Maillaro: I can’t wait until every book starts with All-New.  I am also waiting for All-New, All-New X-Men.


Grey: All-New New Warriors.


Maillaro: Now I am sad.  Thanks for the reminder 😉


Grey: It’s what I do. Keep in mind, we’re in the midst of Spider-Verse and May’s only appearance is battle damaged on an upcoming cover. Marvel is making me sad and I’m sharing the wealth.


Maillaro: Yeah, that is kind of annoying.  I would definitely rather see Mayday than Gwen Stacy…which brings me to…




Edge of Spider-Verse 2


Maillaro: As much as I think the idea of Gwen Stacy as Spider-Woman is cool (NOW THAT IS AN ALTERNATE REALITY), I cringed when I saw it was written by Jason Latour.  He has been so boring on Wolverine and the X-Men.  I actually have no idea why I still buy that book, beyond brand loyalty…


Grey: I rage quit that book after three issues, Mahmud Asrar wasn’t enough…and now he’s drawing All-New X-Men, so Wolverine’s X-Men doesn’t even have that going for it! That said, this book was…weird? I mean, I liked it…much more so than last weeks Noir Spidey, but it was weird. The Noir issue really did feel like a Spider-Man book with a different Peter. This issue, though, it has all the themes of a Spider-Man book, but it was just…more fun? Like I would buy this book regularly and be happy with it while still openly lamenting the loss of May.


Maillaro: I did think they make Rhino REALLY annoying with the mock Russian dialogue, but other than that I really enjoyed a lot about this book.  Peter Parker trying to emulate Gwen and turning himself into the Lizard (which resulted in his death) was a real inspired touch.  And evil Matt Murdock came out of nowhere to me.  I also really loved her costume.  It was a very unique look that I thought worked well.


Yeah, I am with you, I could totally read this regularly.  This is sort of what I would love to see in a line like Ultimate.  Go full balls to the wall different.  Not just minor updates and shock value.


Grey: My first thought when I saw Gwen was the drummer in a band called “The Mary Jane’s” I was like “This is going to be dumb”, and then I loved it. From the art style, to the dialog (outside of the awful Rhino stuff you mentioned), to the interplay between Spider-Woman and the police…this was a gem. If Marvel wants to make a push for female readers, this is the sort of book they should be producing.


Maillaro: Agreed.  Though She-Hulk and Ms Marvel have been pretty similar in tone.  Definitely exactly the type of book I want to read.  DC’s Gotham Academy seems to be very close too.  Which of course reminds me that I miss Bryan Q. Miller on Batgirl.  Man, this column is just depressing on all sides…


Grey: I bought the Future’s End Batgirl issue because Steph was wearing her Batgirl outfit. No other reason.


Maillaro: If nothing else, the lead ins for Spider-Verse have been pretty cool. I like seeing all these alternate reality Spider-Men (and Women).  I like that Doc Ock is the “leader” of the Spider-Men.  And I am glad that some of the lore JMS tried to establish has survived.  I can’t wait to see what happens when Peter finds a Gwen that happened to survive and be Spider-Woman.


Grey: I think the best Spider-Verse related part about this issue is that they avoided bringing in the Spider-Hunters. We just got a full Gwen story without having to cut it short to bring her into the fold.


My biggest problem with Spider-Verse is something that really shouldn’t matter given that, well, comics, and obviously they aren’t getting rid of Spidey. Because otherwise Superior Spider-Ock as the leader just completely cuts the potential balls off. I mean, he lives though Spider-Verse and all is well enough for him to go back and finish up his time in Superior and let Pete go back to being Amazing. That means that, while he’ll be front and center, nothing bad can happen to him.


Maillaro: You haven’t watched the Doctor Who episode “The Wedding of River Song,” I assume… I am sort of hoping for that kind of ending.  Doc sends back a clone or something and lives the rest of his life in peace in the future.  BUT, I suspect you are probably right. Maybe Morlun and family don’t even bother killing him because he’s not a real Spider-Totem.


Grey: I got through the David Tennant run of Doctor Who with my ex, but then she got royally on my bad side and I never picked it back up again. She was OBSESSED, I mean, like if you were a fangirl.


But he is a Spider-Totem! He’s Peter! Different mind, but that’s the body that was empowered by the totem!



The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1


Maillaro: What I have always admired about Grant Morrison is that even when I read something he wrote and I am not quite sure I got it, I still enjoyed it.  I felt that was about Seven Soldiers, and I have definitely felt that way about Multiversity so far.   I especially love the idea of a haunted comic…though I assumed they were talking about Lost Girls.  Zing!


Grey: *Shudder*….I never even finished that book and it STILL haunts me! Stupid Alan Moore…stupid Alan Moore writing Crossed…wait, what was I supposed to be talking about? Multiversity is awesome, weird, confusing, completely original, and making me wonder if I shouldn’t just be scoping it in trade. I love your Seven Soldiers comparison, because that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling. I could also toss Final Crisis into that boat, actually. It’s very much Grant’s thing to give us a disjointed story that pieces together spectacularly, and honestly, the most frustrating part this time around is that it’s five bucks an issue.


Maillaro: My biggest problem with this book is that I wish it was a little more clear about what makes this an alternate reality.  I think that is probably petty, but I really love alternate realities where it is clear WHAT is alternate about it.  Exiles was great about this.  Other than a few characters identities swapped around here, this just felt like a pretty standard JSA story in a lot of ways.


Grey: It has all the makings of one; everything is pretty pulpy, the book takes place in the early fifties (or so I took out of it), you had a bunch of classic Earth 2 characters, but at no point did I ever grasp the key detail of any alternate reality story…”what is really different”. The first issue gave us actual teases of worlds that were drastically different, like the Earth Superman is from where everyone is black, or Captain Carrot’s Cartoon Earth. This issue just felt like one of the old fashioned Elseworlds one shots, it was fun, but it never really left you with a sense of something major happening/mattering.


Maillaro: The funny part is when I started reading it, I thought the main character was Vandal Savage…which would have been kind of cool.  Instead, he ends up being the bad guy of the book.   And was it just me, or did the main character seem to vanish for most of the issue for no real reason?


Grey: I thought it would be Immortal Man, so I was also confused. When did this become the Doc Fate show? I mean, he was the only consistent presence. I kept thinking about Resurrection Man throughout the issue, the original run, where everyone thought he was Immortal Man and he joined the Forgotten Heroes to fight Vandal Savage. I kept expecting Mitch to show up!


Maillaro: I actually don’t think I ever heard of Immortal Man before this issue..  I had Vandal Savage on the  Ibrain since I was just reading an issue of Pandora with him.  Always loved Vandal…


Grey: Res Man was the first I’d heard of him, everyone thought Mitch was IM, and then IM showed up and was evil…or something. It’s been a while.


Maillaro: I am pretty sure I read Rez Man, but I don’t remember that at all….maybe I never read it.  You would be surprised how often I think I read something and haven’t…or forgot I read something and re-read it again and say “This looks real familiar…”


Grey: I do that too, though my memory gaps have better excuses than yours, what with my particular vices. My only knowledge of the Forgotten Heroes is their appearance during Crisis, and the arc during Res Man, and I still don’t understand why Dolphin was on the team.


Maillaro: I am really curious if this is going to tie in to DC’s big events next year as part of the 30th Anniversary of Crisis.  I really hope the team from Multiversity #1 ends up getting a big role in that.  THOUGH I also hope Morrison is not writing it.  I like him on big side projects, but not big sweeping crossovers.  Definitely not his strong suit.


Grey: He goes too big for his own good and everything sorta implodes. Honestly, if I’m DC, I just let Geoff do all of the events and trust that he won’t screw it up. I mean, he hasn’t yet, and he’s brought far more stability to event comics than Marvel’s ‘architects’ and their hot messes. Bendis and his flavors of the week, Hickman and his “I’m not going to explain this to you, you just have to get it”, Remender with his “Everything must feel like Uncanny X-Force and involve time travel”, or Aaron and his love for obscure characters that make no sense. Or, the worst, when Marvel just throws all of them together on a book and let them co-write it.


Maillaro: Yeah, I agree that Johns is the master at these types of stories.  Blackest Night, Flashpoint, and Sinestro Corps War come to mind as some of the best crossover stories I’ve ever read.


Marvel definitely tries to do too many events at the same time, and like you said, they are often by creators who don’t really work well in that environment.  My favorite Bendis stories are his “smaller” things like Alias and Ultimate Spider-Man.


Grey: X-Men is the first time I’ve liked Bendis consistently on something with a core cast larger than three people. He always has this nasty habit of either completely losing his voice, or just giving everyone the same one, and it tends to tear apart his work with larger casts. Like his Avengers, where pretty much any character was interchangeable at any time except for Luke Cage and Clint Barton. His events were just clusterfucks, though I could usually blame that on Marvel’s insistence that nothing be shorter than eight issues, even when it really shouldn’t be more than four.


Johns won me over with Infinite Crisis and everything since then has just reaffirmed it for me. Though I do think that Flashpoint was flawed in that it should have just followed the Age of Apocalypse example and not had a core miniseries, instead having two bookend issues with an oversized one shot in the middle, and let the minis set the table for you.


Maillaro: Definitely a fair point.  I liked the minis more than the core series for Flashpoint.  I honestly don’t remember too much specific about the core series, but I have read each of the minis many times over.  Fun fact, those were the first comics I ever bought on Comixology and I own them all digital.


Grey: I have them all in print…because there was a button promotion. I bought them all for buttons. I had a problem.



Uncanny X-Men (vol. 3) #26


Maillaro: Yey for Firestar being the voice of reason.  I have always wondered exactly why all the X-Men hated Cyclops for the death of Xavier…at the end of the day, it wasn’t really something he had control over, and it is something he has blamed himself for every since.   Don’t get me wrong, I love the split in the X-Men, but I’ve always thought Schism and Avengers Vs X-Men required HUGE suspension of disbelief.


Grey: I am shocked it took Firestar to finally have a member of Wolverine’s X-Men acknowledge that Scott isn’t some piss evil super Magneto. They keep trying to push on us that Scott is the bad guy, and Scott is a murderer, but they don’t ever really show it to us. Yes, Xavier is dead, but they also gave Scott every excuse in the book for why it wasn’t his fault, yet the characters still act like he did it maliciously. Even here with Firestar pointing out the complete insanity of blaming him like he’s proud of what he did, you still get Iceman wanting a pound of flesh.


Maillaro: And I was glad to see Exodus.  I always loved him…though he seems to be a lame good guy now.


Grey: Exodus jobbed like a bitch. Why the hell was he even there? Why was he working with SHIELD? Did Bendis really just throw him in there as random psychic to kill off as fodder?


Maillaro: I had stopped reading X-Men for years, so I had just assumed this happened some time while I was away.  Even sadder if he Alpha Flight’d Exodus (made Exodus appear for the first time in a long way to just kill him off).


I know Bendis is known for this, but damn has this story been drawn out.  This issue had some great character moments, but I don’t think the story was really moved all that much.  It basically took an entire issue for Beast to confirm what we already knew from last issue “THIS IS THE NEWEST, MOST POWERFUL MUTANT EVER!  IT ALL ENDS HERE!  DOOM!  DOOM!”


Grey: This issue was a complete bridge, it didn’t really cover any new ground, but it did a great job of covering up the fact that the story hasn’t really moved forward, and will help with reading it in trade later. That said, reading it issue by issue, this was a fun issue that felt like it could have been distributed over the previous ones.


Maillaro: I really hope they get back to this “Xavier married Mystique” thing soon.  I like that someone mentions it every issue, but no one seems inclined to go find Raven and ask her “What the fuck?”


Grey: I like how Raven wasn’t mandatory for the reading of the will.


Maillaro: And that is why we call him “Love em and Leave Em Chuck.”


Grey: Still waiting to know why he lobotomized this guy, but left Legion as a crazy Super-Omega for so many years.


Maillaro: Yeah, there are a lot of flaws with this story when you think about it.  We talked about this some on Facebook over the last issue.  I am so battered by Xavier’s past “DARK SECRETS” that I found this one relatively mild, and was much more willing to go with the flow.


BUT, you are 100% right. If Xavier could have done this, why didn’t he do it a little more often?


Grey: I’m with Cyclops. Xavier condemned people who didn’t do what he said/preached, but when ahead and did it all himself. And now Wolverine’s group is all like “Yeah! Xavier lobotomized him, so what? YOU KILLED HIM!”


It’s kinda pathetic how they’ve turned into the Avengers with their “Scott is the bad guy, more so than the actual bad guys!”


Maillaro: I did like that they sort of suggested that Bobby Drake was being unreasonable…but what about everyone else?  McCoy?  Wolvie?  Storm?  And on and on.  He is far from the first X-Men to kill someone…and many of them did it INTENTIONALLY…not possessed by the Phoenix.


One thing I noticed about X-Men…they have had some ridiculous plot contrivances over the years to get to some really good stories.  “Evil” Cyclops is just the latest in a very long line of them…


Grey: It’s the Mighty Marvel Method. Square peg in a round hole? It’ll fit! It’s why we got Wolverine and the X-Men instead of Cyclops and the X-Men. Cyclops is THE X-Man (well, Nate Grey is, but you get my gist), but Marvel works their asses off to devalue him so they can justify pushing the characters that survived X-Men 3.


Bobby’s all consuming rage bothers the hell out of me. This is a guy who went back to being best buddies with Archangel after Warren’s transformation because “Warren snapped out of it”, but never took it personal that Warren had to believe that he’d murdered Iceman to do so. Because mind control. But Scott being possessed by Phoenix? Totally not a valid excuse. Drives me insane.


Maillaro: The sad part is that Scott’s team has been MUCH more interesting to read about than Wolvie’s team, but I guess a big part of that has been writing team choices.  Uncanny and All-New continue to be my favorite X-Men books…both about Cyclop’s team…both by Bendis.  Though Amazing has been pretty fun with this Wendigo arc.  X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men are basically unreadable at times.


Grey: Amazing has been so much fun since Kyle and Yost came back. I dumped X-(Wo)Men and Wolverine and the X-Men without looking back.


Bendis has been a revelation for the X-Men books, the breath of fresh air I never thought I would want, but now I don’t know what I’d do without.


Maillaro: Like your button addiction, I have an unhealthy X-Men addiction.  I want to drop those books, but I keep hoping they will get better.  So far…not so much.


Grey: I totally understand, the cutting X books is harder for me than anything. I was so fortunate that I actually missed a few issues of X-Factor and could use that to justify dropping it. X-(Wo)Men was easier. I’m not really a Brian Wood fan, definitely not a Jubilee fan, and after ten issues nothing had happened.


I didn’t even try the new run of X-Force. Lesson learned.


I still buy New Guardians every month. The Future’s End one shot was the first time I’ve actually read it since I dropped GL and GLC. I want to drop it, but I can’t abandon a Kyle Rayner book. DC will just kill him.



Superior Spider-Man #33


Maillaro: Last on the list is Superior Spider-Man #33, another Edge of Spider-Verse issue.  I did like that we finally got a little background on this mysterious attacker who has been stalking Spiders across alternate reality.  Turns out his Morlun’s brother and the whole family hunts Spider-Totems.  He’s kind of the outcast brother because he feels sorry for his victims…or something like that.  I will admit, it was kind of dull…


Grey: This issue needed a body count. I mean, yes, I acknowledge that I crave violence like any good child of the nineties, but this issue desperately needed some sort of edge to make us feel like things could all go wrong. As it was, I learned that Cyborg Spider-Man can be easily repaired.


Giving Morlun a family works for me because it means we can get a Morlun type villain without necessarily needing to have Morlun come back yet again. That said, the divers mask is stupid and so was the reason the Hunter wears it.


Maillaro: You hit it right on the head.  The problem with this issue is that the stakes just don’t seem all that high.  Yeah, we are told that these badasses have hunted spiders across the universe, but yeah, at the heart of it, Ock and company have been able to basically fight them off with no real issue.


And yes, I found it hilarious that the diver’s mask was a sign of disgrace.  “Ha Ha!  You have compassion, so now you have to look like a total wanker for the rest of eternity.”  He really needs some flippers or a fin on his back to finish the look.    Hey!  I know!  They should have just gone full Tenta:


More than anything else, I think a big mistake that Marvel is doing lately is TOO MUCH build up to their big events.  Prelude to Schism…Edge of Spider-Verse…Road to Axis….Countdown to Death of Wolverine….Countdown to Time Runs Out.  Bad enough everything needs to be an event….but everything that is not an event is leading in to an event. By the time the event gets here, I have already stopped caring.


Grey: Remember when preludes to events weren’t obviously preludes? Like, when the trade hit, it was labeled as such, but when the single issues dropped it was a pleasant surprise that it was leading into an event? I miss those days. Now, at Marvel, it’s either an event, a prelude to an event, or an epilogue to an event.


As it stands, right now Marvel is banking on Time Runs Out, but I’m not even going to give it a look because the last time Hickman did an event it was that Infinity abomination. There are people who still swear that I just ‘didn’t get it’, and that it was ‘fresh and original’, and all I remember is that it was an awfully presented, horribly drawn event that required every tie-in be read to follow the plot. So, really, it was Secret Invasion IN SPACE, which is ironic since Secret Invasion was all about aliens.


Spider-Verse gets a free pass from me because Spider-Island is the best event Marvel has done in years.


Maillaro: I am very much with you on Times Runs Out.  Hickman’s work is very overrated to me.  I didn’t like Infinity…I didn’t like his work on Fantastic Four….and I couldn’t get past his first few issues of Avengers and New Avengers.  I think it is great that he has these ideas for massive epic stories…but he needs to be able to write the characters in an interesting way to make me care.  Instead it’s just big ideas without any hooks.  He’s sort of the anti-Morrison, I just can’t bring myself to care about anything Hickman writes.


I love Slott’s Spider-Man, so I will buy Spider-verse, but I can’t help but think that Spider-Man shouldn’t be in these massive sweeping multi-universe stories.  My favorite Spider-Man stories are typically much smaller in scope and scale. Though I did like Spider-Island, but it all took place in Manhattan, so I don’t think that is a  huge contradiction.


Grey: I actually loved Hickman’s Fantastic Four, my second favorite run ever, and I loved him on Secret Warriors, but that’s it. I can’t even stand most of his Image stuff.


At least Spider-Verse is Spider contained. That’s the biggest positive.


Maillaro: I haven’t read Secret Warriors.  I don’t know what it was about his FF, I just found it real boring.  To be fair that is true of most people and Fantastic Four for me.  Love the concepts, love the characters in guest appearances, rarely find myself enjoying the series when I try it.  Waid was about the only exception to that rule…OH!  And I liked Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on 4.


Grey: Waid is my favorite run ever. Aguirre-Sacasa made me a fan with Afterlife with Archie. Talk about an awesome book!


Maillaro: Sadly, Archie has DC’s policy of “not price dropping their books until 60 days after they release” so I always end up forgetting to check out Archie books I want to read.  I was like a year behind on Mega Man until about a week ago.  Afterlife with Archie is definitely one I want to read!


Grey: It’s the first and only time in my life I’ve given them money…unless that Sabrina poster I had in middle school counts. Though that crush was more growing up watching Clarissa as she explained it all.


Maillaro: I had to buy Archie meets Kiss.  I am odd that way.


Grey: Kiss Army since when. exactly?


Maillaro: As long as Chris (my brother in law) and I have been friends…so like 15 years?

Grey: I’m torn on Chris. On one hand, he’s awesome and Wrestlemania and Axxess were a great time and I actually have no real beef with him, on the other, he hates my May. He hates her like Joe Quesada hates her. And we both know that someone has to defend her…more often than not me, but that’s because Marvel wants the internet to forget she was a thing!


Maillaro: LOL!  Like you, he is very stubborn on his opinions.


All right, I think we’ve managed to wander a little far from the point, so we should probably wrap this up!  I had a great time and we need to do this again!


Grey: Amen to that! Until next time, loyal readers!

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