Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Episode 23 - Ant-Man and Patty's new Birkes

This episode: Image Expo news, our Ant-Man movie review, and an exciting new purchase by Patrick! Special Permanent Guest Host Jake DeSersa returns with Amy Nunag, Tony Asaro, Patrick Clarke, and Matt Traverso, who, incidentally, co-produced this episode. This entire episode was recorded on Matt's iPhone 5S.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Episode 22 - Abuzz with comic book news

With SDCC and other big comic related events and news, geekdom is abuzz with lots of news. Permanent guest host Jake DeSersa and crew take you on an hour-long tour of the latest comic book news. Jake is joined by Amy Nunag, Patrick Clarke, Tony Asaro, Matt Traverso, and Cameron Mosbarger. This entire episode was recorded using Hindenburg Field Recorder for iPad.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Episode 21 - Studio Ghibli Conversation - Part 2

Parts one and two were recorded back to back, and you can tell. The energy is good. The conversation is bouncy. And one of the guests has not seen a Ghibli movie. We know, we know: genius idea. Thanks.

Permanent guest host Jacob is joined by wanna-be permanent guest Matt Traverso, semi-permanent, semi-host Patrick Clarke, newbie Elias Claude, the only-lady-in-part-two Amy Nunag, and piping hot Justin Piper.

Episode 20 - Studio Ghibli Conversation - Part 1

Jacob DeSersa asks tonight's Ghibli fans two questions: 1. Which Studio Ghibli movie was your first? 2. Which was your favorite?

Jake is joined by regular Tony Asaro. Special guests on this episode include Tony's sister, Katie Asaro, and husband and wife Beau and Sarah Straub.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Psycho bonkers for Psycho Bonkers

In Psycho Bonkers you'll meet Shine, Shiza, and Gabbo; driver, sentient car, and reliable robot friend, respectively. In the midst of racing on a futuristic, dangerous course, Shine's story unfolds. Her story is one of sorrow, triumph, friendship, and surprise (big surprise in issue 2!).

Life lobs challenges at Shine, and Shine hurls herself right back at those challenges.

As an all-ages book Psycho Bonkers addresses loss and overcoming adversity. Whether intentional or not, it works. Many a young reader -- and adults like myself -- will enjoy this book. The story moves quickly, the characters are delightful and the art and colors are like candy for the eyes.

Editor's Note: There's one issue left on the shelf here at Empire's Comics Vault as of this writing. If you want it, let Ben know and he can order more for you.

About Psycho Bonkers
Published by Aspen Comics
Story by Vince Hernandez
Candy, I mean, colors by Federico Blee
Pencils & inks by Adam Archer
Letters by Josh Reed

Move over James Bond, Hello Dick Grayson

By Ron of the Empire

Having read and enjoyed Convergence, I thought I'd give a few DC Comics titles a try.

I started with Grayson, issue 9. It reads like a spy thriller, codenames and all, and that's not a bad thing. With so many Robins around, this is a refreshing take on an old favorite. It also represents a refreshing break from heavy hero-villain storylines. Let's hope it stays that way for a while.

Not having read the first eight issues, I'm finding a few characters that are unfamiliar to me, however I'm certain I'll quickly become acquainted with them in the upcoming issues, which, incidentally, I'm looking forward to.

With this new take on Dick Grayson, suddenly his old school name fits perfectly (you may remember the tiring and now nearly three years old online conversation about whether his name should be changed). In fact, you can practically imagine him introducing himself in a Bondesque manner:

"Grayson. Dick Grayson."

My guess is that this spy prefers smokier spirit than martinis.

E3, 3D Holographic Minecraft, and Fallout 4 with Short Nerdy Guy

Get your E3 update right here with Sacramento's own Jay Wheeler, aka, Short Nerdy Guy. When he updates you on the 3D holographic Minecraft, you'll suddenly realize, "the future is now."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sacramento Superdad empowers girls to be superheroes

John Marcotte, founder of Heroic Girls, wants to "make the world a slightly better place" for his girls, Anya and Stella. What's more, he wants to empower girls to be the superheroes that they are.

His TEDxSacramento talk has been viewed more than 11,000 times. We're proud to call John one of Empire's Comics Vault's fans and customers; and even more proud of the ideas he shares. Please enjoy what John has to share and feel free to pay it forward.

For a list of references he used in his talk, visit his post at HeroicGirls.com.

Episode 19 - The Secret Convergence Wars

This episode's superstars include permanent guest host Jacob DeSersa, regulars Patrick Clarke and Tony Asaro, and first time guest (and DC fan) Matt Traverso.

Marvel's Secret Wars vs. DC Comics' Convergence

We from actors doing role research by reading comics to Secret Wars and Convergence. Then, we share our favorite comic book genres and what we're looking forward to reading this week.

Subscribe on iTunes and if you enjoy it, please rate us and leave a comment.

Short Nerdy Guy talks Game of Thrones and Black Widow merchandise

Short Nerdy Guy talks about Marvel skipping ComicCon and that baby thing on Game of Thrones.

#WheresNatasha? Right here

Then, in another SNG episode, Jay discusses the new Ant-Man poster, Constantine being cancelled, Butterfield's not in the running to be Spider-Man anymore and Black Widow and Scarlet Witch merchandise coming soon.

Follow Jay on Twitter at @ShortNerdyGuy, FacebookYouTube and Google+ at +Jay Wheeler.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Episode 18 - The Pros, the Comic Cons and Limited Series Comic Books

Talking about the Pros at the Comic Cons and also Limited Series Comic Books

Limited series comic books are all the rage and completely accessible. You get in, you get out, and if all turns out well, you get a good story. Plus, what's this "Con Madness" all about? You'll find out right here with permanent guest host Jacob DeSersa and regular guests Patrick Clarke and Tony Asaro.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fallout 4 trailer and SacAnime with ShortNerdyGuy

Jay Wheeler of ShortNerdyGuy brings you two new episodes for your viewing pleasure.

Fallout 4 trailer

Also in this video:

  • What kind of plush toys did Jay have as a child
  • Netflix news


Also in this video:
- SacAnime guests
- Lots of gushing about Power Rangers, of course. I mean, it's Jay.

Check out ShortNerdyGuy on YouTube.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Episode 17 - Reviewing 2015 Eisner Nominees

Hear some of the highlights from this year's Eisner nominees. Get predictions from Permanent Guest Host Jacob DeSersa and podcast regular Tony Asaro. And the winners are...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

KungFury Kickstarter movie impresses

KungFury looks KungAwesome

Jay brings you some news from the indie and non-indie movie world as he talks about KungFury and Justice League.

We can't wait to see KungFury!

Thanks, Jay.

Episode 16 - #Name3Artists on Empire's Comics Podcast

Time to #Name3Artists

Gail Simone asked fans to #Name3Artists comics work they buy even if they don't know or like the writer or subject matter. Permanent guest host Jacob DeSersa and guests share their favorite artists. With Jake are Tony Asaro, Patrick Clarke, John Thomason, and Cameron Mosbarger.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Introducing Short Nerdy Guy Jay Wheeler

We've been admirers of Jay Wheeler's YouTube channel, Short Nerdy Guy, for a while now. Jay has consistently produced geek related content for two years.

Currently, three times a week he shares news and views on what he's reading and watching. His show is about 5-6 minutes long -- about as long as our attention span, haha!

We enjoy the show, and we think you will too. So, for the month June, we will feature his Jay's quirky brand of cool here at Empire's Open Vault.

To get you started, here are two episodes for you to get a feel for the show.

Legends of Tomorrowland leak

Fox, calm down!

Episode 15 - Mad Max Fury Road and Supergirl trailer

Back for more are Jacob, Patrick and Tony. The gents talk about comic book TV, especially the new trailer from Supergirl. Then they get into Mad Max for the ultimate geek gush session. Lastly, as it is to be expected, they dish on what new books they're most excited about for the week.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Episode 14 - Death in comics

The topic is "death in comics," and Jacob, Patrick and Tony answer the question, "does anyone really die in comic?" Plus, an update on Archie Comics' Kickstarter campaign and what's new in comics this week.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Episode 13 - Archie Comics new Kickstarter plus fave all-ages books

Permanent guest host Jacob D. hollers "Podcast Avengers Assemble!" (not really), and they talk about Archie Comics' new Kickstarter, their fave all-ages books, and how they got their start as comic book readers. This episodes' "Podcast Avengers" are Kris SaldaƱa, Tony Asaro, and Patrick Clarke.
From left: Tony Asaro, Kris SaldaƱa, Jake DeSersa, Patrick Clarke

Episode 12 - Guardians of the Galaxy after-movie review

On August 1, 2014, the Guardians of the Galaxy movie came out. Then we "lost" the episode. Now, here it is, restored for your auditory pleasure. Ben hosts with members of our Movie Crew: Minnie, Andrew, Ian, Mitchell, Cheyenne, and Mystery Guest.

Subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher.
If you'd like to podcast with us in the future, join our FB group, Empire's Comics Podcast Crew.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Episode 11 - FCBD Mini-Con and books you gotta gotta read

Guest host Jake and Patrick Clarke and Tony Asaro cover highlights from our Free Comic Book Day Mini-Con, discuss under-appreciated comics, and ponder why Marvel and DC don't market their comic books at any point in their movies.

Subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher.
If you'd like to podcast with us in the future, join our FB group, Empire's Comics Podcast Crew.

West Coast Avengers' cosplayers at Free Comic Book Day Mini-Con 2015

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Ms. Marvel - Issue 12 - Scream-from-the-rooftops Great

By Paul Webb

Every once in a while, a review is published that would seem to just be beating a dead horse. Everyone knows that Patrick Stewart is going to deliver an outstanding performance in whatever he does. Everyone knows what the next Call of Duty game is going to be like.

Ms. Marvel is Scream-from-the-rooftops Great

Sometimes though, you just need to scream it from the rooftops. Sometimes something is so good, that even if you know everyone is going to buy it anyway, you tell them anyway.

Ms. Marvel #12 is that kind of book.

Ms. Marvel has probably been one of the biggest success stories in recent history for Marvel. The mix of a fresh new take on a title, mixed with G. Willow Wilson’s pitch perfect writing of main star Kamala Khan, and Adrian Alphona’s great art, that I would put as some of the best of the past year (when he’s actually on the book).

The first and second story arcs are collected in the first and second trades trade out now. Issue 12 serves as a great jumping on point if you haven’t had a chance to check out the book. The recap page gives you just the info you need to know the character, and the issue is a fun one-off that doesn’t require much, if any knowledge, of the first arc.

A Fun, LOL Comic Book

Loki “Agent of Asgard” Laufeyson has been sent to Jersey City to investigate reports of evil at the Coles Academic High School, which just so happens to be where Kamala goes to school. What follows is one of the most fun, laugh out loud comics I’ve read in a while.

Fill in artist Elmo Bondoc does a serviceable job replacing Alphona for the time being, and continues the Ms. Marvel tradition of fantastic facial expressions. Wilson’s story gives us young love, fights, Asgardian truth elixir, and horse manure: pretty much everything a great comic needs.

Go buy this comic. Not only will you be getting yourself $2.99 of great entertainment, but helping to make sure this comic continues to be published. Plus, you can witness the birth of Loki’s new nickname: Hipster Viking.

Episode 10 - Avengers Age of Ultron after-movie chat

We watched Avengers: Age of Ultron. Then we rushed back to the store to talk about it. Some of our favorite patrons gather around the microphone, including Patrick, Alana, Joey, and Kris.

Subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher.
If you'd like to podcast with us in the future, join our FB group, Empire's Comics Podcast Crew.

Empire's Comics Movie Crew -- after watching Avengers 2

Friday, May 8, 2015

Conan Red Sonja - A winning combination

By Paul Webb

Bringing together two big characters or ideas can work out really well. You can end up with your classics, like Batman and Superman, pizza and beer, or cats and the internet. On the other hand, you can get something like Rob Liefeld and drawing or orange juice after brushing your teeth.

As a fan of the original Robert Howard Conan stories, and the classic Marvel comics from the 70s and 80s (especially Buscema’s run), I was a little apprehensive about “Conan Red Sonja” by Jim Zub and Gail Simone.

I didn’t really know anything about Red Sonja and had never read anything by Simone. I ended up buying the first issue based solely on my love of Conan and Zub’s great track record with fantasy and action (Skullkickers and Wayward are two of the best books out right now).

Despite a couple of small qualms with the art, I’m glad I gave this a shot.

Instead of trying to shoehorn the series (planned as a 4-issue mini) into the current Conan or Red Sonja runs, the title acts as a first act for the characters: both are experienced and have more than a few heists and fights under their belt, but have yet to reach legendary status in the Hyborian Age.

While normally I would roll my eyes at yet another origin story for yet another established character, Zub and Simone wisely dispense with all of that. They know that if you’re reading this book, you probably already have a pretty good idea of who they are. If not, all the info you need is given to you as the story progresses*.

Feels like a classic

The plot of the first issue is nothing spectacular, but it doesn’t need to be. This issue is all about getting the characters together, introducing the evil plot they’ll eventually have to stop and getting them to fight.

What shines though is the overall tone and feel Zub and Simone along with the artists Dan Panosian and Dave Stewart set. From the opening and closing narration, to the little details, like the off-white tint to the gutters, almost everything about this book feels like a classic, well-loved Robert Howard story. Zub and Simone’s characterization of the title characters feels fresh and a bit familiar at the same time.

The “almost” I mentioned comes to a couple nit-picks about the art. For the most part, I like it. Panosian and Stewart mix into something like a combination of Francis Manapul and Sean Murphy. Not as smooth as Manapul, not as sketchy as Murphy.

It is mostly a winning combination. I only have two qualms. One is Conan’s face. In my opinion, Conan is rugged, blocky, not-quite-handsome, but not an ugly guy. He can get the ladies when he wants, but he’s no Dwayne Johnson or Chris Hemsworth. Panosian’s pencils make Conan look too pretty, as if Christopher Reeve packed on some serious muscle, or Gaston moonlighted as a barbarian before meeting Belle.

The other qualm (as tiny as it is), is Sonja’s lips. It seemed like every other facial expression she had involved slightly pouting her lips like a cover model. Again, these are relatively minor problems I had. Nothing to not buy the book over. Everything else about the art (character design, coloring, the fighting), I loved.

If you want more, just check out the original Robert Howard stories from your local library. They’re quick to read and fun.

Episode 9 - Drooling over Avengers 2 and Daredevil

Guest host Jake DeSersa and his Podcasting Avengers, Patrick Clarke and Tony Asaro, discuss Avengers 2, Netflix' Daredevil, and Free Comic Book Day.

Subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher Radio.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Episode 8 - Star Wars: Fanboy Gushing Awakens

Ben and Jake sit down to gush over the new Star Wars trailer 2. This is what it sounds like.

Subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher.
If you'd like to podcast with us in the future, join our FB group, Empire's Comics Podcast Crew.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ben and Jake review hot sauces Made in Hell and Liquid Arson

"Second Thoughts..."

Comic Books and Hot Sauce

If you Empire’s Comics Vault owner Ben Schwartz, then you know he loves hot sauce, among other things.

So, hot sauce reviews make total sense. 

Ben is joined by comic shop fan Jacob “Jake” DeSersa, or @JakeFatal on Instagram, who, it turns out, loves music.

And what do you know? Many bands put out their own hot sauces.

So here we go!

We’re reviewing two hot sauces in this video:
1. Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein’s (link to music) Made in Hell Hot Sauce (link to sauce)
2. Tony Foresta’s (link to music) Liquid Arson Hot Sauce (link to sauce)


Thursday, March 5, 2015

On: The Casting of Pods

On: The Casting of Pods, or How I Learned to Stop Nay-saying and Begin Enjoying Listening to Strangers from The Interverse Geek Out for Hours at A Time

I'm a little bit obsessed with podcasts. As recently as, say, two years ago I would’ve readily dismissed the notion of listening to a podcast (oh two-years-younger Me, what a fool thou were’t), but in only that cosmically-miniscule heartbeat, my proverbial tune: it did change.

It started with boardgaming podcasts; a bit of a game-review here, a Top 10 List there; just a nibble at first, but that initial shot did things to my brain. Scaaaaary things. Soon enough I was mainlining whole episodes one after another, binging on years of archives, reveling in the wealth of that particular, peculiar, black-lit corner of nerd-dom that I’d not even known I’d been denying myself. “It’s like sitting-in on a super-interesting conversation with extremely knowledgeable friends that I never knew I had!” I exclaimed more than once (note: “super interesting” and “friends” are, in this case, without a doubt wildly subjective), “Granted, I can’t join in, but if this was happening right in front of me in a shop, or on a couch, or at a summer bbq or whathaveyou, I’d be absolutely riveted and clamoring for more! This is The Stuff!” I trend a touch excitable; mea culpa.

My newly-born enthusiasm only escalated, episode after episode. I listened while cooking, I listened while driving, I listened during bike rides, I listened at night before I went to sleep. And still, I wasn't entirely sated.

In a fit of insatiable Galactus/Darkseid/Thanos-esque megalomania, I hungered for more, and thus more it was to be. On the heels of the first love, the benchmark boardgaming podcast The Dice Tower, came the just-the-right-amount-of-witty London-town equivalent Shut Up & Sit Down, followed by The Fighting Cock (as in the mascot of The Pride of North London, the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur, the club that some time ago and forever-more won my heart).

At that point, with a steady couple of new episodes per week on my plate, I thought I’d just about reached optimal podcast saturation; there are only so many hours in the day, after all, and there was still music to listen to, and long stretches where earbuds couldn't be in for whatever unholy reason, time when actual human interaction would be required for whatever X, Y, and/or Betazed situation. “That should just about do me,” I mused, smugly, “Tons of episodes loaded up, weeded-out the boring stuff, can’t think of too much else I need to explore, podcast-wise; job well-done, Self.” OH, HOW WRONG I WAS.

Which brings us to comic books, and Empire’s Comics Vault. Shop stalwart and good friend Jacob DeSersa mentioned to me one day that tripped-out Scottish auteur Grant Morrison had discussed such-and-such fascinating thing on something called Fatman on Batman, and had I heard this? Did I know about this? “I have not,” I replied, “Whassis, now? A fat . . mannn? Grant Morrison, you say? And Kevin Smith? I love Kevin Smith! He does podcasts? This, I did not know! Sounds interesting; I’ll have to check it out.”

A massive, long-time fan of Smith’s movies, from Clerks on up, I soon discovered that he runs not just ‘A’ podcast, but a truly gargantuan (“you know, I've always liked that word . . ‘gargantuan’”) network of them, many of which he appears on if-not hosts. And, as befitting an entertainer of his talent, he’s really, really good at it. While I found that some of the shows on this so-called "Smodcast" network aren't quite my speed or taste for one reason or another, I also found, as Jake had oh-so-correctly asserted, that Fatman on Batman, on which Smith, as host, talks to various Bat-celebrities and luminaries of comicdom about Batman and how the Platonic Dark Knight has both micro and macro-cosmically affected and changed lives and the world in which we live, is outstanding, and right up my alley; quite, and then some. So on went dozens of archived Fatman episodes, loaded to the iPod, and the absorption and ratcheting-up of my already-stout Bat-love did’st then begin.

Of course it wasn't long before I’d caught up to current (I go on a lot of bike rides), and had to wait for another week or month for the next episode (*gasp*), and as such I began to venture deeper into the web in search of more comic-related podcasts. There were missteps and misses among those I checked out, but I’m not writing this to pan anyone or and I have no interest in being a Critical Christopher here, so those shall remain anonymous and blessedly-forgotten. Besides, there was, indeed, more gold to be found at the end of that Asgardian Rainbow Bridge-trope, not the least of which is the Empire’s Comics Vault podcast, oft-titled Empire’s Open Vault (what it lacks in quantity and regularity, it more-than makes up for in quality, says I).

And here we now find ourselves, at long last, at the point of this post:

My Favorite Comicbook Podcasts

Are you ready? Feel like a swim? Goggles firmly affixed? Fun. Let’s dive on in, ‘cause the water? She is so very fine:

Empire’s Open Vault: You already know and love the shop, or you probably wouldn’t be here, eh? So, turns out, sometimes they do in-store podcasts! Boom! Just like that!! They’re fun! Why am I using so many exclamation marks!?! I really ought to knock that off, now!!! Empire’s Open Vault is always a good listen; topics have included new comics, The Big Two, indies, comic movies and TV, local creators, cosplay, Free Comic Book Day, and most of all: et cetera. Do it to it. [Subscribe to Empire's Open Vault on iTunes]

Fatman on Batman: “Babblin’ ‘bout The Bat, with ol’ Kevin Smith,” as it goes. As far as I can tell, if comic-book-podcasting were an industry, and if that would-be industry had a standard, this would be it; seriously outstanding stuff, and wildly-popular. Guests have included the likes of Mark Hamill, Joe Quesada, Denny O'Neil, Paul Dini, the cast of Smith’s AMC show Comic Book Men, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Kyle Higgins, Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Stan The Man, Jeph Loeb, Geoff Johns, Adam West, Burt Ward, Kevin Conroy, Bruce Timm, Tara Strong, Arleen Sorkin, and “The World’s Biggest Neal Adams Fan” the one, the only, Mr. Neal “Himself” Adams. Ridiculous, yeah? If any of those names sound familiar to you in a good way, or if you have any interest in or love for Batman in any form, this show is a gold mine, though it must be mentioned, as with everything Kevin Smith’s ever made, it’s also very, very adult. So . . you know, heads up on that; sense of humor required, and this is probably not one for the kiddies. Also, sadly, in the last year it’s become much, much less regular than it once was for reasons unknown, essentially grinding to a halt as far as new episodes go (likely due to Smith putting his filmmaker hat back on, which, as an unabashed fan of his, I’m certainly never going to complain about), but hopefully that’s merely a hiccup, and with over seventy episodes to catch up on, there’s plenty of buffer to hold you over ‘till Kevin gets back on his Bathorse, proper.

View From The Gutters: One of my tippy-toppmost favorites, View is a weekly podcast from some most-knowledgeable and affable peeps in the Olympia, WA area, the format and role of which is best summed up as (to quote the ‘about’ section of their page, because I’m a horrible person, totally bereft of creativity and the capacity for original thought), “. . a weekly round-table discussion about comic books. In each episode we focus on one graphic novel or collected volume of a series. We review the week’s topic work (with frequent digressions to jabber about other comics and creators, discuss the state of the industry, or just bash on Geoff Johns for a while), and then each host nominates a new comic to discuss on the next episode. At the end of each podcast we vote to select which nominated work we’ll be talking about next time, so you can read along with us.

The cast of characters who host the show rotate a bit, week-in and week-out, depending on availability and whatever other personal circumstance, but you can usually find Messrs Andrew Chard, Tobiah Panshin, and Joe Preti at -or near- the helm, and they always manage to strike that particular, enviable, friends-sitting-around-a-campfire/coffee-table vibe, and no matter the lineup or the book of the week, there’s always thought-provoking dissent and discussion, and a great deal of fun and laughter to be had (they even managed find one or two nitpicks with Saga, which I’d previously assumed lay at a theoretical absolute-zero-level of nitpickability, because: SAGA). The format alone makes this a unique and always-interesting listen, and sets it apart in a very good way; everyone’s always up on and for the book being discussed (which is refreshing), having just read or re-read it, and the show serves as a fantastic reading guide/list of books to check out as well, walking you through an astonishingly-diverse tour of famous, infamous, notorious, and even relatively-obscure comic runs new, old, and everywhere in-between. I can’t seem to nail-down exactly how many great books and runs View has turned me on to so far, but assuredly that number is well past three dozen by now. Roughly four times a year they put out an episode categorized as a Long Run, which is exactly what it sounds like, covering several substantial volumes of a comic or character’s history instead of the usual single trade or graphic novel.

View is, to me, a Ye-Olde-Book Club of sorts, minus the Earl Grey and canned-fruited scones, and even when I’m not hugely-fond of or familiar with the book being discussed, or even when I mildly-to-strongly disagree with some of the opinions of one or two of the hosts, I always come out of their discussions smiling -beaming, even-, and feeling a little wiser, like I've just partaken in an eminently worthwhile chat, which in and of itself is an impressive feat. This show is highly recommended, to say the least.

FYI, as with Fatman and nearly all of the podcasts I’m listing here, this show often contains adult language, and it’s always spoiler-heavy for the book being discussed, so unless spoilers bother you not, make sure you've read the book being discussed before you listen. You've done been warned.

  • Back Matter: In addition to the regular weekly episodes and the Long Runs, every now and then various members of the View crew sit down for a more traditional “chat about a particular topic/what you’ve been up to or are excited about” sort of bull-session; these episodes they put out as Back Matter. Sometimes these episodes are on a particular overarching/general topic or question (ex. “Art vs. Artist”, “Comic Events”, “The Birth of Image”), sometimes the episode is an interview, sometimes it’s about a con they just attended and what all went on there, etc; every time it’s worth a listen. If you decide to check out the View flagship show, and then find yourself wishing they’d do a more standard-format/less-structured podcast, this is the droid you’re looking for. There aren't a ton of episodes of Back Matter out yet, but I've been assured that there are more on the way. Adult language warning, still in effect.
Out of The Fridge: This is another one that I simply cannot get enough of. A sibling show of sorts to View From The Gutters, with some personnel crossover, and also based out of the Olympia, WA area, Out of The Fridge is hosted by three comic-shop coworkers and friends, Alison Poppy, Kelly Okler, and Eric Manix; in recent months that three has grown to four with the addition of aforementioned View’s host and former co-worker Andrew Chard. They've done episodes on such topics as Emerald City Comic Con, Thor, Superman, Brubaker’s run on Captain America, Edmonson and Noto’s current Black Widow series, Mike Carey’s run on Hellblazer, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Young Avengers, Afterlife With Archie, Sailor Moon, Rat Queens, magic in comics (as revealed through discussions of Madame Xanadu, Zatanna, and mah boy Dr. Strange), Peter Panzerfaust, Fables, Saga, Miles Morales/Ultimate Spiderman, Runaways, not-one-but two Halloween specials (in which they discuss Revival and the phenomenal Rachel Rising, among other things), a Jim Henson special, as well as a trio of episodes focused on sexism in comics featuring a variety of guests (a focus and angle that very much helps define the tack that they apply to all of the topics and books they discuss, thus: the moniker of their podcast, and a four-part series on the X-Men covering The Dark Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past, God Loves/Man Kills, and From The Ashes.

The camaraderie, hilarity, dropped-knowledge, and love-of-comicdom that they put across, combined with the particular lens that they view these topics through, hits me right in the sweet spot; honestly, I can’t possibly properly express how much I enjoy every single episode of this show. It’s never anything less than informative, enlightening, and riotously funny. At the risk of becoming detrimentally repetitive, here too there be adult language, but as with the rest, please, pleasedon’t let that deter you. When a new episode goes up, it’s a race against my ever-more-formidable impatience to get it loaded and playing, tout de suite.

  • Top of The Stack: Though not a podcast, I would never-the-less be remiss when talking about View from The Gutters or Out of The Fridge if I didn't also recommend their related weekly comic-review Youtube show, Top of The Stack (link to old Youtube page). Usually out by Thursday night, Chard and Manix (plus the occasional guest) go over pretty much every comic and trade/OGN/omnibus/deluxe-sparkly-ultimate-edition/whathaveyou.now that came out that week, starting with the #1s and wrapping with the new trades and picks for Books of The Week, discussing what they like, dislike, or are intrigued by about the various books. Much longer, more thorough and in-depth, and later in the week than the “these are the books that are coming out this week” shop-vids that go up on Youtube every Tuesday/Wednesday (and thus in a slightly different category than those, and not, to my mind, in direct competition with, let’s-say, Empire’s Comics own thoroughly-enjoyable, always-informative, weekly “what’s new this Wednesday” show, EmpiresCV.tv, which I would of course also encourage you to watch on the Regs McGeggs if you're not already doing so, I look forward to this show every week to the point that I’m genuinely grumpy when it’s delayed or when I can’t get to a computer in a timely manner on Thursday to devour it. They’re opinionated and amiable, panels and pages splash across the screen giving you an idea of what’s being discussed, they don’t hold back, and their enthusiasm is utterly contagious. Love it. The pre-2015 Top of The Stacks can be found on the View from The Gutters Youtube page, and the new entries (going forward) are now being posted on a new Youtube page named Gamma Bomb. Go. Watch. You’re welcome. 
Rachel & Miles X-plain The X-Men (Because It’s About Time Someone Did)Ooohhhhhhh man. Oh man, oh man, oh man, ohmanohmanohmanohMcManaman. So . . ok, I understand that at some point all of the superlatives and overly-flowery language that I’ve been Rip Taylor-flinging around in here like so much pastel confetti is going to begin to desensitize anyone reading this to the point of dull-nerved apathy, but I beg you, do yourself a favor and download or stream the first episode of Rachel & Miles. Just . . just go, and do that. Right now. I’ll wait.

. . done, yeah? Dazzling, no? Didn't even take very long, did it. There are comic podcasts, and then there are Comic Podcasts, and then there’s Rachel & Miles X-plain The X-Men. They only started last April, barely a tik-tok ago, but they've just put out their 43rd episode, each and every one an unadulterated treasure to behold (to be beheld? Beheld-en? Eh, roll with it). Unlike any other podcast of any sort to which I've listened, they favor (and presumably work very, very hard to attain) a compact, somewhat-scripted, rapid-fire format that tends to run about 45 minutes, or “short enough to listen to on your lunch break,” as is their aim, and the compressed, witty repartee that they achieve never fails to sweep me up, utterly, and set itself apart by its pace, professionalism, energy, and comic-book-history-lesson format. Plus, cards on the table, I just plain-ol’ adore the X-Men, and have since I was a wee lad, so I’m admittedly square in their target demographic.

The topics are what one might expect, given the title. Ever been confused, intimidated, or prohibitively-daunted by the prospect of trying to make any sort of sense at all of the giant-sized, impossible, Gordian Knot of infinitely-convoluted yarn that is the last 50 years of X-history, but you’d really like to try to get a handle on it, all the same? Then this shall, henceforth, be your jam. Episode 1 starts with the very beginnings of the X-Men, the original five from 1963’s X-Men #1 (the “first class” proper; are you paying attention Bryan Singer? No, of course you aren't), and, bit by bit, Rachel and Miles try their damnedest to work their way up to and through every nook, cranny, and roundabout Lee-and-Claremont’s (and co’s) crusaders have found themselves entangled in since, criss-crossing through all the various related X-properties as well, including annuals, crossovers, events, New Mutants, Excalibur, X-Factor, and such. It’s an indelibly wild, fast-paced, dizzying, and joyously-wacky trip to follow along with; at once mirthful lecture, series of running gags, and childhood story-time. Not to be missed or dismissed if you are at all interested in any of the X-families. New episodes drop on Sundays, and are followed by an "As Mentioned In This Episode" post with pictures, panels, doodles, and links.

(Incidentally, and unrelated to comics or podcasting in any way, I not long ago found out that the mad-clever Twitter account The Worst Muse is written by this very Rachel. If you use Twitter, and you’re not following Worst Muse, you’re doing your laugh muscle a grave disservice.)

  • Rachel & Miles Review the X-Men: It’s very much worth noting that several months back Rachel & Miles hit a support milestone on their Patreon that “unlocked” this new side-project, now in it’s 24th week and posted every Friday on their Youtube page, in which they review all of the new X-books that just dropped that prior Wednesday. It’s delightful, and as someone who generally can’t deal with Brian Michael Bendis’ mode of operation and thus finds himself not super-into today’s X-storylines but still wants to stay in the loop, I find it invaluable as a way of mostly keeping abreast of what’s what in X-Mens right this moment and keeping tabs on those beloved characters without having to sink money into books that I’m not particularly currently enamored with. It very much accomplishes what it sets out to, and serves as a wonderful supplement to the audio show.
Talking Comics: In several very real ways, Talking Comics is one of the biggest of the big-boys on this particular block. Not only do they put out a clockwork-regular, uber-thorough, extremely well-done comics podcast every week, with a massive back catalog already in the bank (they've done over 170 episodes at last count), the four regular hosts of which form a wonderfully-dependable, cohesive, round-table crew that represent a colorful carousel of living nerd archetypes (which I pigeon-hole with the utmost affection, The Emcee/Fast Talker, The Gen-Y/Philosopher, The Eminently-Wise/Nostalgic/Encyclopedic Baby Boomer, and, by no means the least, The Cute-Quirky/Oft-Fiery/Always-Bubbly Canadian), they also offer a Talking Games podcast, a Talking Movies, podcast, yet another show called The Misfits (which features exclusively as hosts the ladies of the Talking Comics family, Bubbly Canadian included), as well as sporting an impressive site which offers not only those shows but also a news section, a reviews section, a videos section with regular segments (including Comics and Coffee, a regular, live, Youtube “what’s up this week” current-events chat-style morning show/discussion), a blogs section, and a dedicated forum.

And not only is there a ton of content, but in no way is quality sacrificed in favor of the absurd abundance. Their titular flagship show often comes with a truly hefty running time (as is so often the case with all manner of podcasts), and the breadth of the material that they manage to cover never ceases to astound. They each do quick overviews and reviews of the books they've read that week, first in a timed Lighting Round, then as a more lengthy Book of The Week segment (again, each of them does this in turn), followed by whatever other weekly topics they've decided to hit, and listener questions, follow-ups from previous discussions, monthly sales numbers, the full list of what’s coming out this week (oft featuring the ever-mysterious “what subtitle is this week’s Transformers book sporting” game), and occasionally interviews from a list of comic who’s-who that will blow thy dainty little mind clean up and out (this is how I discovered their site and their shows to begin with, having googled for podcasts featuring Scott Snyder, or Kelly Sue DeConnick, or Jonathan Hickman, or whomever else I was looking to hear more from at the time).

Warning: This one in particular is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s not wholly unusual for it to run a full three hours or thereabouts, which I’d imagine is bound to put some people off. But if the prospect of that runtime doesn't frighten you, then give this one a shot. Also, again, there is adult language here and there on Talking Comics, worth noting so my recommendation doesn't put anyone in a tight spot, but certainly no reason not to listen up and listen good.

The Hot Comics Plopcast: There once was a girl; this girl had a robot; this robot was obsessed with comics from the '90s. Together they started a comics and film themed Youtube channel for newblers (sic) and geek enthusiasts. It was funny, and clearly-authentic, and generally good times, and enjoyed a more-than healthy following as Youtube channels go. Comics and movie talk begat “epic” histories of the various houses of George R.R. Martin’s now-ubiquitous A Song of Ice and Fire, which begat much clamor, many “hits”, and much "hotness" as the kiddies say. By April of 2013 this then begat The Hot Comics Plopcast featuring the girl in question, Comicbookgirl19, and her cohorts, T-Bone (aka the fellow behind Robot), and their friend “Captain” Kirk (not that Captain Kirk, obviously, nor the guitarist for The Roots Captain Kirk, but a third, still-entirely-worthy fellow). Occasionally everyone’s favorite Geek & Sundry comics-expert/pixie Amy Dallen (of Talkin’ Comics Weekly, among other things), also joins the mix. They talk movies, they talk escapades, they talk TV, they talk books, they talk internet trolls, and -yes- they do sneak a smidge of talk into the show about comics news, favorites, what they've been reading, and what they’re excited about.

T’would be a vast understatement to claim that I’d been mostly out of touch with the comic world for a good spell before I first tuned-in to the The Hot Comics Plopcast all that while back (two years seems like forever ago), and their musings, ramblings, and varied recommendations for their favorite new-ish books played a substantial role in reigniting my interest in the art-form. It was through this podcast that I first found my way to an enormous number of what have since become my favorite-ever books, not the least of which include Saga, East of West, Hawkeye, Y The Last Man, Pretty Deadly, Sandman: Overture, The Wake, and Black Science. It was on this show that I first heard mentioned the mostly-hallowed names Hickman, Brubaker, Phillips, Aja, Fraction, DeConnick, Gillen, Keatinge, Soule, Ellis, Remender, Snyder, Straczynski, and Brian K. Vaughan, and was then able to begin to take my first steps back towards the proverbial yellow brick road after such a long time lost in the woods, plunging from the world of Stan The Man & King Kirby, The Neals: Adams, Gaiman, and Denny O’, Loeb & Sale, Claremont & Cockrum, Jim Lee, Alan Moore, and Frank Miller, into the oft startlingly-poetic and shockingly-nuanced world of grown-ass modern and current comics. Needless to say, I am most grateful for the assist.

They don’t record or release episodes regularly, so stow those expectations of regularity somewhere you won’t miss them, and the percentage of their content that’s devoted to comics isn't consistent, but do not let that dissuade you; it’s a fun, loose show to listen to, and for the debt I owe these fine people as much as for anything else, I can do naught but recommend it, fully, as a very entertaining nerd-culture podcast. They’re straight shooters, here (as such, once more you’ll find some adult language hereabouts, as one might expect), it has a real “friends a-few-shots-in having a healthy rant/rave chat about whatever’s been on their collective minds” aura about it, and it’s always a treat when I find a new episode’s been put up. Unfortunately, they've struggled to get their foot in the iTunes door, so this is definitely the toughest of the podcasts on this list to download (generally I rip the audio of the show from their Youtube channel so I can put it on my iPod, which is by far the most convenient way for me to listen), but even if you have to stream it, I can vouch for how worthwhile it is to go that extra mile.

Well that's the list! All finished.

Overwhelmed yet? That’s fully fair a response; sane and reasonable. But if your interest in comic book related podcasts is at all piqued, don’t be shy. Start slow, pick one or two that sound like your cuppa, search through the episode lists and find one on a book that you already like, maybe listen to one of your favorite writers do a guest spot or interview, take your time and try out various shows to see what fits and what flops in the amphitheater betwixt thy ears; the back issues (so to speak) aren't going anywhere. No harm in trying an episode or three out, yeah? I hope you find a few that tickle your fancy. And if you do end up a fan, please go give whichever show you're listening to a review or rate them on iTunes (I've been assured that this helps immensely), or support them on the Patreon pages that several of them have started-up. All of these fine shows can be found at the links I've provided, or on iTunes (except where otherwise noted), and/or elsewhere on these here interwebs (Stitcher, Podbean, Soundcloud, whathaveyou, as well as their own sites, in addition to the predictable Facebooks, Twitterverses, Tumblrings, and such). Happy listening!

* written by Tony C. Asaro, Esq, of Sacramento, CA.
Knight of Mars, Listener of Shows
email: tgaucho@yahoo.com

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Netflix Tuesday

In eager anticipation of Marvel’s Avengers Age of Ultron (coming this May!), we’re revisiting the Marvel universe via our favorite armchair tour guide: Netflix.

From time to time, we’ll share some of the top subscriber rated Marvel shows available for streaming, add our spoiler-peppered two cents, and invite your input in the ready and waiting “Comments” section. It’s gonna be Marvel-ous!

Okay, okay - we’ll try to keep the corny puns to a minimum.

We kicked off our Marvel-by-way-of-Netflix adventure with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 1. The premier season of this big-show-that-could garnered 5 stars from streaming subscribers.

While we initially felt that the show didn’t quite live up to its hype, or to our own sky-high hopes, what gradually won us over were its moments of crackling, Whedon-esque humor and — another Whedon staple -- the earnest, yet realistically developing sense of familial camaraderie that the disparate agents build over the course of the season.

Those strong points, coupled with the fact that we unconditionally love Agent Coulson, want to know exactly why Director Fury went to such extreme lengths to save him, and whether or not what was done to him will keep on messing with his little balding head, will be enough to make us quickly click “Add to My List” and start binge watching Season 2 as soon as it becomes available for streaming.

Honestly though, there are other winning characters on the show that we’ve come to root for, and about whose secrets and mysteries we’d like to learn more; Skye’s 0-8-4 origins, May’s ambiguous feelings for Coulson, and (spoiler alert!, but c’mon, it’s already Season Two in real-time!), can Agent Ward ever be trusted again?! We’re not so secretly hoping he can. We’re also eager to see Fitz alive, well and awkwardly nerding his way around with the team again.

What do you think?

What did you think of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Season 1? Did you watch it in real-time or catch up with it on Netlflix? Is it a meaningful addition to the Marvel Universe? Or just a shameless exploitation of the Avengers movie popularity?  Are you watching Season 2 now?  How’s it compare with Season 1? Don’t shield (!) us from your thoughts, give them a share below in the comments section.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Ben's Top Marvel and DC Titles from 2014

Are you ready for my favorite Marvel and DC titles for 2014?

Harley Quinn
My first pick for the Marvel and DC is Harley Quinn. If you’re not reading this, it is probably the funnest book on the shelf! Palmiotti and Conner just knock it out the park with the writing and Hardin is a fantastic artist. But one of the beautiful things about it is that you always get an Amanda Connor cover, so you can’t go wrong there.

Justice League 3000
Justice League 3000 is one of the books I’m afraid is going to land on the
butcher’s block. This book is set — obviously — in the year 3000. The Justice League has been cloned, they’re sent to fight five uber powerful beings that have set out to take over the galaxy. And Giffen has his typical humor, great storytelling, super heroics and you get some Booster Gold and some Blue Beetle, written by the man who knows how to do it.

We’ve also got Batman. I don’t think much needs to be said about this. Snyder and Capullo have taken the character that grew kind of stale and given it a fresh spin — they don’t just go to the well. Well, he sort of does, we’ve got Joker, we’ve seen Clayface, but he’s created villains that I believe are going to stand the test of time and become one of the rogues' gallery and prominent ones at that.

Trillium. Although this looks like an indy, this is a Vertigo title. Jeff Lemire
is someone to watch. If you haven’t seen some of his other stuff, you’ve got Lost Dogs, you’ve got Underwater Welder and Essex County. Trillium is a time-crossed love story about a woman at the end of time, where the human race is almost extinct, and a man who’s an explorer from the 30s. They come head to head. They switch places. The book makes you flip back and forth. You feel just as lost and disoriented as them. It’s a really emotional, really powerful story and it’s well worth reading.

On to Marvel. I said “Top Five” and four of them were DC – imagine that, I’m a Marvel kid! But, Avengers and New Avengers go hand-in-hand. I count these both as one because they’re both written by Hickman; they’re both the core of the Avengers Universe and, quite honestly, the core of the
Marvel Universe. You know, you’ve got your X-men section, you’ve got your Spiderman section, you’ve got your space section, but this is everything that’s been happening, everything that’s bled into Infinity. You’ve got the Illuminati trying to stop the builders who are destroying earth after earth after earth. Making choices like destroying earth to save ours, and then you’ve got the Avengers who are good guys, who ultimately find out about it and have to do something. This is stuff that’s going to spin into the big event here in 2015 and Hickman’s doing a fantastic job!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Comic shop owners' anthem rocks

This came out two or more years ago. How did we miss it? Well someone finally shared it with us and we love it. Plus, this video really gets the word out about how cool comics are. You think they really read comics?

The song is by Canadian Band +Courage My Love.

Find Courage My Love online:

Website: ILoveCourageMyLove.com
Twitter: @CourageMyLove
Facebook: ILoveCourageMyLove
Instagram: @CourageMyLove
Soundcloud: CourageMyLove

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Comic Books This Week

Ben covers the highlights from new comic book week. There's some great stuff in here, including sexy Lobo.

New Comics for Wednesday, January 7, 2015