Black Ops Episode 9 – You Are Not a Mistake [DECLASSIFIED!]

[As we continue our show hiatus, it has been decided by the fine people who support us on Patreon that we are going to make public — or ‘declassify’ — one of our Patreon-exclusive Black Ops episodes every month. This month, our patrons have personally selected this episode to help fill the gap! Consider it a look back at the ‘Before Times’]

Original Patreon release date: July 26, 2018

In what is an ultra-MEGA-sized two-and-a-half hour episode, we really run the gamut.

First, we talk about popular culture we loved as kids, but are afraid to revisit, because we fear it won’t survive adult scrutiny. In Mike’s case that means a series of epic fantasy novels that he suspects both really hold up in some way, and really really really don’t in other.

We then talk about the evolving nature of stand-up comedy and the divergent attitudes of comics like Jerry Seinfeld, and Hannah Gadsby — and how many older comedians seem to desire to be “above” politics or social commentary. Is that even possible or desirable?

Do genre stories like science fiction and superheroes have a responsibility to touch on questions of social and cultural importance? Why do the calls for political neutrality usually seem to mask a right-wing agenda?

We get into bad movie theater experiences that stretches Mike’s aversion to confrontation to the breaking point, and dive into the thorny issues of intellectual property and online piracy.

And finally, things get a bit emotional when we talk about how profoundly powerful and deeply intimate the new documentary about Mister Rogers is.

Mike Makes a Guest Appearance on Midnight…the Podcasting Hour!

Mike makes his first appearance on Ryan Daly‘s Midnight…the Podcasting Hour to wreak bloody vengeance upon a tale of DC’s favorite murdery ghost! We dissect Adventure Comics #435‘s 1974 horror tale, The Man Who Stalked the Spectre” by Michael Fleisher and Jim Aparo.

Hunting a gang of rabid killers, undead detective James Corrigan finds that both he and his ghostly alter-ego are being investigated by a relentless and naive magazine reporter. Add one-part Death Wish to one-part Freddy Krueger and mix liberally until the bad guys have to hosed off the walls!

Check it out!

Fun Size Episode 49 – Tales of the Quarantine Titans

We continue our remotely-recorded conversation with David Gutiérrez, and grapple with the seedy underside of professional wrestling, and the strange corporate strange-hold that Vince McMahon has on the industry, in the wake of his XFL’s second collapse.

We also talk about the relative quality of children’s media franchises from the point of view of parents. Is refreshes itself much more frequently than stuff aimed at “grown-ups,” but is any of it any good? And what will the art these kids make look like in 20 years?

Hide your clouds, because we’re gonna yell at them!

Fun Size Episode 48 – The New Quarantine Titans

As time bends and brains melts in the heart of the “Quar,” we’re joined by longtime friend of the show and writer for Emmys.com, David Gutiérrez… and things get weird.

We get into everything from circumcising our children to wanna-be movie theater comedians. We try to understand the confusing relationship of rockstar film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and try to figure out when Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford stopped trying to be good at their jobs.

Finally, we try to retroactively fix the Rambo franchise (and action/revenge films in general) into something a bit less racist and burdened with conservative “white guy baggage.”

Mike Joins Ryan Daly on his Showcase Gene Colan Podcast!

Crom and Mithra! Mike returns to the Hyborian Age of Robert E. Howard on Ryan Daly’s Showcase Gene Colan podcast on the Fire and Water podcast network! This time, we’re looking at the legendary comic book artist’s work in Savage Sword of Conan #33‘s tale, “Curse of the Monolith”

It’s a tale of treasure, betrayal, bloody revenge, and a barbarian who just absolutely refuses to die. Seriously, do not fuck with Conan.

Check it out!

Hex & Violence Episode 4 – The Latest in Pickling Technology

“That’s Jonah Hex, his own damn self. He’s killed more men than Hell has souls.”

After a long absence, we return with our fourth episode! This time, Mike and Casey claw our way through Jonah Hex’s 1993 Vertigo makeover as a weird western horror character in the five issue mini-series Jonah Hex: Two Gun Mojo by writer Joe R. Lansdale and artist Timothy Truman!

After being falsely accused of murdering a fellow bounty hunter, Jonah Hex runs afoul of short-tempered townsfolk, embittered Apache raiders, and Doc “Cross” Williams, a murderous snake oil salesman, grave robber, and conjurer who raises the bodies of the dead and bends them to his will — including the corpse of famed Western folk hero, “Wild” Bill Hickok!

JONAH HEX CONFIRMED KILL COUNT: 65 (+24 this episode)

Black Ops Episode 17 – Ask Us Anything: 2019 [CLIP]

In our new nearly two hour episode, exclusive to our Patreon supporters, we’re answering your questions in our first Ask Us Anything episode!

We start by sharing three facts about ourselves that you might not know, then we tackle your questions!

We talk about our musical obsessions, past political activism, strange retail job stories, how we met, our adventures with conspiracy theorists on public access television, our respective parenthood and non-parenthood, Al Pacino impressions, Mike’s cancer treatments, desert island selections, and how we first fell in love with our favorite pop culture fandoms. And so, so many digressions.

Included in this episode are questions by David Gutiérrez, Grant Richter, Wesley, Tim Batson, and Gem Newman.

To unlock this episode in its entirety — and many episodes more! — just support us on Patreon with at least one measly dollar a month!

Join us!

Fun Size Episode 41 – Clown Ronin

We sit down some more with Patrick Johnson to share our mixed feelings about Todd Phillips’ bleak and controversial Joker film.

We dig a bit into the film’s strong lead performance by Joaquin Phoenix and its very on-its-sleeve cinematic inspirations from films like Taxi Driver, Death Wish and the King of Comedy, and try to figure out whether it actually works or not. Does it transcend both its pastiche elements and its comic book origins, or is it a well-made and ambitious mess?

The answer is…complicated.

Mike Makes an Appearance on Rob Kelly’s Mountain Comics podcast!

Mike makes his first appearance on Rob Kelly‘s nostalgia-driven Mountain Comics podcast! We pour over one of the comic books of Rob’s youth, vacationing as a child in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

This episode, we delve into ancient tombs and battle demi-goddesses and ape monsters with Robert E. Howard’s famous Cimmerian hero in November 1984’s Conan the Barbarian #164 from Marvel Comics.

We explore Conan’s unique brutish morality, the comic’s impressive art by Gary Kwapisz, and reminisce about how these comics often pushed the envelope of what you could get away with in a Code-approved comic book of the time!

Check it out!

Black Ops Episode 15 – What Do You Think Alan Moore Did? [CLIP]

In our new episode, exclusive to our Patreon supporters, Greg Hatcher rejoins us for a free range conversation.

We chat a bit about Trek, the character of Captain Kirk and why it can be a gift when fictional characters age along with their actors.

We try to navigate the labyrinth of public domain laws to fruitlessly try to figure out what you can and cannot do with with new adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, the Lone Ranger and the Land of Oz, and whether being public domain has produced better material.

And finally, we wax nostalgic for a bygone time when “grim and gritty” was new, and when Alan Moore blew the comic industry’s collective mind by doing a post-modern adult interpretation of a British superhero aimed at children.

To unlock this episode in its entirety — and many episodes more! — just support us on Patreon with at least one measly dollar a month!

Join us!

Mike Appears Again on the View from the Gutters podcast!

Avengers Assemble!

In honor of the release of Avengers: Endgame, Mike is back on the temporarily-out-of-retirement View from the Gutters podcast, to participate in their first ever, Avengers Fantasy Draft!

Mike joins Tobiah Panshin, Joe Preti, and Brant Gillihan-Eddy to draft our own five-member Avengers line-ups.

Check it out and let them know which drafted Avengers team you think is the best (hint: it’s Mike’s!)

Fun Size Episode 36 – Peak Clown

In our latest fun-sized chat with Tobiah Panshin, we dig into the topics that really matter to working people, like the media depiction of Clowns, and how it’s affected their public perception. Is the happy clown character now a totally dead concept?

We briefly dive into the phenomenon of the Simpsons, and how what was once a controversial program has survived long enough to see an entire culture change around them. We pick at how the experiences of comic book stores and video arcades have fundamentally changed since we were children.

And finally, in a reaction to a recent Rob Kelly podcast, we ask: how can we make obnoxious people shut up in a movie theater?

Episode 39 – Spider-Man

“Spins a web, any size. Catches thieves, just like flies.”

This month, we’re web-slinging through New York with the Fire and Water Network‘s Ryan Daly and Tobiah Panshin of the House of Jack and Stan podcast. We’re climbing the wall over Marvel’s revolutionary and relatable comic book hero: the Amazing Spider-Man!

From his beginnings in a cancelled anthology comic by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962, Spidey has exploded into multimedia superstardom, and changed the superhero genre forever. He’s headlined literally thousands of comic book issues, seven feature films, and countless animated shows. He’s been a company mascot, a parade balloon, a breakfast cereal, a cartoon pig, and even the star of his own failed Broadway musical.

We dig into all things pertaining to the web-head, try to figure out if the Daily Bugle is a reputable news source, and try to answer that question: is Spider-Man hero, or menace?

Music: 
“Main Titles/Costume Montage” from Spider-Man (2002) by Danny Elfman

Black Ops Episode 10 – Meet Your Parents. Make Money. Kill Hitler. [CLIP]

In our latest episode, exclusive to our Patreon supporters, a trip to a computer museum prompts a mind-breaking discussion about the mechanics of time travel in the Back to the Future movies.

When we return to a present that we’ve created by altering the past, are we killing our alternate selves and inserting ourselves into their lives? Was the elderly Biff Tannen’s master plan with the sports almanac actually pretty stupid? And is Biff in the new timeline George McFly’s “Reek”? What about how time travel works in Looper, Star Trek, Lost or in Marvel Comics?

All this and Mike tries to explain the chronology of the X-Men character Cable to Casey. Deep breaths, everyone!

To unlock this episode in its entirety — and many episodes more! — just support us on Patreon with at least one measly dollar a month!

Join us!

Episode 36 – Uzumaki by Junji Ito

“Spirals…This town is contaminated with Spirals…”

In our latest Single Serving Selection, we descend into a mind-bending and stomach-churning modern classic of Japanese manga horror with librarian and friend of the show, Kit DeForge, but perhaps you’ll wish we hadn’t. Because this month, we’re descending into madness and body horror with Junji Ito’s Uzumaki.

What begins as a series of episodic tales of a small seaside town being driven to death and insanity by ubiquitous spiral shapes soon becomes a tidal wave of ancient apocalyptic destruction, lunacy, and unavoidable doom.

Apologies for the inevitable nightmares.