Comics Shut up, shuts up!

Hello, and goodbye dear interwebs.

Although it pains me to say it, this will be the last ever post on my beloved Comics Shut up. Over the last year we’ve done our best to provide readable commentary on comic book and hopefully provide you with some laughs too. Sad face.

However, fear not! 

This is not the end. We’re simply moving onto bigger things, and we’re hoping you’ll join us. 

We’ll be posting the same kind of content, the same kind of regular and with even more people on the team. So things are going to be bigger, better and more dangerous than North Korea, all you need to do to get involved is head on over to our new site:

Deadcanarycomics.com

See you there!

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The Life & Times of Prat-Man!

When I was a youth, comics got a bum wrap a lot of the time. “They’re just for kids!”, “They’re sexist”, “The pages are too thin” or “There’s blood in the ink” were phrases you used to get shouted at you as you clutched your copy of ‘The Amazing Spiderman‘ to your chest. The comic book store used to be a bit like a SpeakEasy where you’d have to check around you before you entered for fear of a wedgie or being attacked with belts or panadols (I grew up in Gravesend, it’s a bit like Belfast but without the nice accents). Sure there were titles that were “cooler” than others, if you had ‘Spawn‘ or ‘HellBlazer‘ you wouldn’t get bullied you’d just get treated like a mysterious outsider who might unleash emo craziness at any moment. As a teenager anything that sets you apart from the norm opens you up for abuse but for some reason even into my twenties there was always a sense that comics meant I still attracted some abuse. I’d grown a thick skin and now held my comics aloft in the street, I no longer heard the cries of ‘Man-Child!‘ or ‘PratMan!‘ and had found other grown men and women who I could converse with about my secret childhood passion. What I’m saying is comics had been misunderstood for a while and I’d come to terms with that, then something happened…

Proud to be Prat-Man!

Proud to be Prat-Man!

Since 2001, in a post 9/11 and post Sam Raimi’s ‘Spiderman‘ world where Marvel movies are top dollar, event cinema while DC eats it’s own tail with poe-faced realism and comic book news like Captain America or Jonny Storm dying are front page news it’s a strange new world to live in. On the one hand it’s awesome, with people of all ages openly enjoying comics, titles like ‘Maus‘ & ‘Wolves in the Walls‘ being studied in schools and comic artists being accepted into the artworld to exhibit their detailed and beautiful work. Comics are the “Teensies” (Like the 90′s or Noughties) hot topic which shows no signs of stopping.

Last year I’d said to all my friends if ‘The Avengers‘ fails then we’ve seen the peak or crisis point of comics in the mainstream but after the resounding and enjoyable success of that film and with ‘Iron Man 3‘, ‘Man of Steel‘ and ‘The Wolverine‘ as the tent-pole films of this year it looks like I was wrong, this superhero boat shows no signs of stopping! In light of this onscreen success, actual comics seem to be flourishing too with loads of independent publishers coming out of the woodwork, exciting and original work at Marvel & DC with the likes of ‘A vs X‘, ‘Daredevil‘ and ‘Batman Inc.‘ as well as exceptional quality in continuing titles like ‘The Walking Dead‘ and ‘Unwritten‘. Comics as a medium have become recession proof by the sheer fact that they’re producing original and fun material whilst getting insanely high coverage due to all the Hollywood vehicles and merchandise, even if most of that money goes to Disney or Warner Bros. it’s keeping comics as a near constant trend in the news. Well executed adaptations and developments in how we read comics with tablets, online comics and moving comics mean that what could have become outdated and stale has actually flourished in the digital age. Sure there’s nothing better than an actual paper comic in your hand with a cup of tea and a biscuit but research and new methods are a necessity, OK some of the moving comics (Astonishing X-Men) are pointless and strange but you have to try otherwise nothing would progress. Who knows what we’ll be doing in 2020? Will we be reading comics through our glasses or potentially walking through the latest cross-over titles on a giant holo-deck? (not that far fetched, check it out at Project Holodeck) I’m not sure, but I for one can’t wait!

The flipside is, as a big comic fan who in the past had to seek out people like Smallimus, Dead Canary Comics or The Mindless Ones to converse with about who the coolest X-Men was? (it’s Beak by the way) or whether the end of ‘Y:The Last Man‘ was genius or a cop out? (genius IMO), now everyone and their dog’s talking about it. I was always the least knowledgeable guy in the group/message board but I’d make up for it with passion and a desire to learn devouring more and more titles to increase my wisdom and enhance my insights. Now I keep finding myself in conversations with people who have a new found love for the medium and are excited about characters, films and comic history but I keep going too far. I keep answering questions and then getting carried away whilst having to watch their eyes glaze over as I harp on about the myriad of literary characters in ‘LOEG‘ when they only wanted to know why there’s so much rape in the book. I joined in a chat at work the other day about Batman and was prattling on about the ‘Hush‘ arc when I realised they’d both started to walk away, I think the original discussion had been about  the Tumbler in ‘Batman Begins‘. Whoops!

I love the fact that comics are being recognised and hopefully we’ll see this continue because as a young boy I never dreamed we’d actually see Spidey swinging through Manhattan or The Avengers annihilating an alien menace and it would look real! I’m excited to see what they do with Supes and hopefully we can get a good ‘Spawn‘ film at somepoint but who knows? The most important thing though is that good quality comics continue to be published because without them the whole trend comes crashing down, without the writer’s and artists working on the comics, films and TV shows they wouldn’t be the successes they are and without titles like ‘Casanova‘ what have we got to live for?

Let’s just say it’s a fun time to be a comic book fan but Prat-Man need to remember to not be quite such a bore all of the time!

MK x

New beginnings: A look at Uncanny Avengers

With Marvel and DC both having wiped the slates clean. We decided to take a long and loving look at the first arcs from some of the titles in both publisher’s stables.

Warning. I probably won’t like all of them.

New Starts

Ever one to jump on the band wagon, as it now seems to be the fashion to simply wipe away years of continuity and start again, I’ve decided to make a fresh start in life myself. To be utterly selfless and devoted to being a better man than I was, wiping away all of the messy and awful continuity I’d built up.

To that end, I’ve just made a pact. A pact to end the R-Word.

However…

The people trying to stop the R-word are very vague about what the R-Word actually is. Everyone involved I presume having sworn not to use it. Therefore, until I have further evidence as to what word I’m not allowed to use, I am forced to avoid the use of any R-word.

An R-Less look at Uncanny Avengers

Uncanny_Avengers_Vol_1_1_Textless

Uncanny Avengers is drawn by John Cassaday and written by…*faceplant*. This is going to be tough.

BRAIN STEALING NAZI TELEPATHS MUST DIE!!

Uncanny Avengers is trashy sugar pulp horror fun, like dropping tabs of pure sherbet and watching B-Movies until your face starts legally trying to divorce itself from your body while you drink a combination of tea and wine gums straight from the boiling kettle.

Fresh from the humongous fist fest that was AvX, Cap’n Amerc’a has lovingly declared that the only solution to the mutant problem is inclusion, so he’s arranged a barbecue and affirmative action-ed himself up a Mutant/Avengers hybrid team consisting of whichever Avengers he was near and some Mutants he found in the bins. Also Mopey Wolverine.

Meanwhile…

A super nazi clone version of the Ferrarri 00105 Skull fresh from World War Two has woken up in a vat in present day with a corrosive hard on to smash in all those smelly muties. He straight up grave napped Charles Xavier’s brain, bonded it to his own, and is galavanting up and down main street being a good old fashion fascist twat with it.

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Do you like terror? Then you’ll love this book!

This is medical grade Japan gore future-neon Hammer Horror films with mutants. Christopher Lee with Arnie’s muscles and loads of heroin stabbing puppies. The tone is not set subtly, featuring a forced brain dissection and text from some bastard mutant focused version of Mein Kampf on the first page. From there we get all kinds of escalation: a mutant led disaster the size of Stanford, ordinary Humans straight up killing the X gene positive in the street for Nazi glory and then we get that final page! (I warn you, spoilers be at the end of this link.) This is Takashii Miike doing Marvel.

The writer of this book (curse you R-word!) is getting into something here that should not be ignored. He’s literally standing in front of a NASA issue fan slinging shit around like a crazed monkey. THINGS ARE GOING TO GO OFF. It’s hard to get into it without spoilers but the last page of issue 4 is a statement and that statement is “buckle the fuck up”. 

We’re having fun with the darkest, trashiest depths of the Marvel underverse and everyone involved is going to be brutally scarred before we emerge from the other side. This promises to be a tale in the same vain as Uncanny X-Force and as such should not be ignored.

The art is suitably schlock. You can feel Cassaday easing into the book slowly, it’s brilliant to look at and his storytelling is wonderful but I definitely get the feeling he’s still getting his look for a couple of characters down. However, things get properly down and dirty when needed, most of issue 4 is one beautifully drawn confrontation that literally had my jaw dropping throughout.   It’s 100% better than a lot of the stuff out there and once Cassaday gets his stride on I can see this looking just as good as X-Men or Planetary.

Uncanny Avengers is currently at issue 5.

Brian Michael Moore’s Age of Ultron

Spoiler alert: It should be stated that in Age of Ultron 2 no answers have been revealed and nothing has happened. Anything claiming to be a spoiler would be a drastic misuse of the word. What follows is assumption, free association and the product of someone undergoing mental duress. Please bear with me. Normal service will be resumed at some point.

Assumption alert: The previous statement was not an assumption, assumptions will follow, this is a fact.

age-of-ultron-2-cover

Age of Ultron 2 is bleak. It’s like the worldwide financial crisis finally came to comics, everyone’s had their house repossessed, Black Widow can’t afford a nice dress and Captain America stopped being proud a long time ago…now he’s just…sad.

The first thing Age of Ultron 2 does is hammer into your eyes with its seriousness. Then it punches you in the jaw with a double page spread of the most important place in the world in ruin, following it up with movie font credits, loads of characters with really short hair and dubious morals, before round-housing you with Black Widow with scars instead of an eye….

APOLOGIES READER: I was in the middle of a meta joke commenting on the fact that AoG 2 is just issue 1 with people you care even less about by reusing my review of issue 1 and changing some of the jokes. But I’ve deserted the idea as I found it restricting. Did BMB suffer the same issue? No..AS THE COMICS ARE FUCKING IDENTICAL!

Age of Ultron 2 continues to be depressing. Everything is awful. Point in case: Black Widow. She has scars for eyes and is not bawdy in the slightest. She doesn’t even whip out a Game Boy and have a game of Tetris! At any point! How do they expect us to believe she’s Russian?

And then comes her teammate…

You know who I can’t get enough of? Who I wake up at night in cold sweats thinking about? Who represents the Marvel Universe in such a unique way that no comic feels right without him?

Why it’s the easily forgotten breakout star of 1975′s hit, Werewolf by Night: This guy!

Moon_knight_inline_3

Seriously Mr. Bendis, who the fuck is this guy and why do you keep ramming him down my throat?

Wikipedia tells me his name is Moonknight.

Moonknight?

It must have been a bad day in the Marvel office,  they were just paying Mallets Mallet with the words “Bat” and “Man”, weren’t they?

“Bat Guy? Moon Dude? Night Knight? Moonknight?”

“Yes! But how can we make him different from Batman?”

“Um…Let’s make him wear white?”

As AoG 2 has given us even less information then AoG 1. All that is left for this blogger to do is make wild assumptions about the future of this tale. Three such assumptions follow, none are plausible.

Assumption 1: AoG is a recursive loop. The heroes are caught in an infinite recursion, destined to wander the barren cyberscape of AoG reducing in status until the final issue is filled with Blue Blade crawling in his own muck. Captain America will continue to alternate between standing and sitting. The cycle will eventually be broken by Bryan Hitch refusing to draw the same thing over and over again, thus breaking the fictional cyber prision. Issue 6 will see the Avengers move into alternate Ultron spaces (Day, Hour, Week, etc).

Assumption 2: AoG is just a dream. Apparently everyone was asleep when Ultron attacked.

Assumption 3: AoG is about America’s second depression. Ultron represents the movement of industry and the Succubus capitalist mentality: in short GM Motors. BMB is using his last great piece of work for Marvel to open our eyes to the dark side of the capitalist dream. Veiled references to artisan production and barter systems will slowly come as BMB promotes his politics of choice: Communism. The book even follows the flow of a documentary piece, the movement from hearing the stories of one band of people who’s lives have been destroyed to another, the fixation on the deserted and destroyed landscape. It’s all eerily reminiscent of Michael Moore’s Roger & Me:

I imagine the final issue will take place in a disused office building. Hawkeye desperately trying to get an unsolicited meeting with Ultron by appearing in the foyer and attacking him with anecodatel evidence of his misdeeds while he’s trying to have lunch.

When this comes out in trade, I implore you to rip this issue out. You only need the bookend scene with Cap in it.

Remember in the last review I said “Let’s hope it stays this good“?

Age of Ultron has already let us down.

Mark Waid will eat your kids and wear their skin as a necktie

That’s just the sort of thing he does.

Then he’ll tell the world it was your fault because you raised them wrong and that this was the only way he could make them contribute to society positively.

And the world will believe him. Because he’s just that good at telling stories.

Gaze into the face of your destruction:

mark waid

Necessary preamble!

Here’s a secret I bet you don’t really care about: I hate Daredevil.

I mean just what the hell is there to like about him? He has the super powers of being a bat. He’s a smarmy lawyer fuck, everyone he loves ‘accidentally’ dies, he’s never sure whether or not he’s having a breakdown and nobody in any Daredevil Comic I’ve ever read has ever smiled, unless they’re cutting someone up.

So yeah, I hate Matt Murdock.

It could be because he is now irrevocably paired with Ben Bad Face Affleck in my mind, but then again it could also be the relentless fucking misery that he attracts. I don’t care what you say, reading a comic book should not feel like an episode of East Enders. It’s not even for a lack of reading ‘the good stuff’. Miller, Bendis you name it, I’ve done it. But in both of those runs I’d argue that the main draw is the story, how the tale was going to be told. Even when I’m reading great writing I still feel like I hate the character. It could be because I hate blind people, but then again it could be because I hate people with more than one dead girlfriend.

The thought of reading a monthly Daredevil book makes me sick. Sick like a dog with a strong stomach and weak legs. Dirty, like a pigeon with diarrhea. If you were to tell me you followed Daredevil on a regular basis I’d probably just burn your face a little bit.

Then Mark Waid rocked up and ate my metaphorical kids, just as I’d learned to love them as much as I love my real kids.

Daredevil-1_swashbuckling-daredevil

I had to be talked into picking up the first trade by everybody on the comics internet, and even then I sort of regretted it. It’s almost like I didn’t know what to do with it. I remember thinking ‘am I supposed to look at this thing?’ and so it sat on the shelf and everyone was embarrassed to talk about it, like when the dog accidentally wanks himself off. It went on for months with us not really acknowledging each other until, bored, I picked it up and actually opened it.

Comics internet you were right. I am forever sorry.

daredevil-2

The first thing that’s going to make tears leap from your tiny face like Tom Daley is the art. It’s just staggering.  Paolo Manuel Rivera, Marcos Martin, words leave me. The visual language these guys are creating for Daredevil, the use of his powers, sound effects, his thought process, all of it is amazing. It’s so good in fact that I can’t understand how it hasn’t been done before, it’s so natural and feels exactly right. I just want to splatter superlatives at the page like some complimentary Jackson Pollock. I’ve even forgotten about the Ben CrapFlick connection, the art is that good. Even if Mark Waid filled each issue with Daredevil not being able to find his remote control or his keys or any other item that doesn’t make a noise, I would still urge you to buy this book.

The very good news is that Mark Waid is writing this book like it was a kid he was gobbling down.

DDradar

 The second thing about this book that will make tears jump from your eyes like tiny versions of Felix Baumgartner (all screaming ‘I’m coming home’ in tiny voices) is Mark Waid. Not just any old version of Mark Waid, but this is the Mark Waid that is stupid good at writing comics. This is the Mark Waid of The Flash, Fantastic Four and Kingdom Come. THE MARK WAID.

The entire tone of this comic is completely different to any Daredevil book since Frank Miller. Gone is the procession of dead girlfriends, gone is the wondering aloud how it all went so wrong. Instead Daredevil is a y’know…Daredevil. He does courageous things, and he does it while cracking a goddamn smile, he swings, he dances, he jokes, he laughs. It’s upbeat, it’s swashbuckling, it’s wham bam action. It’s everything you want from those pamphlets with 4 colour heros in them.

The first trade only hints at the wider story that Waid is moving into, but that’s not what this is about just yet. It’s about setting a tone. It’s about providing some optimism, it’s about letting the character heal. Which would only be natural if someone had just had a girlfriend die, been outed in the press, had another girlfriend leave him, get put in prison, taken over by a demon, started leading an army of evil ninjas blah blah blah. In fact I’d just want to give him a hug and slowly tap him on the shoulder whispering ‘let it all out big guy’.

Everyone in this book is having fun, including the ginger guy who’s normally moaning. It’s cliche, but they always say you have to learn to love yourself before other people can learn to love you, and Waid is doing just that. Letting Matt Murdock smile at himself and remind us all that he isn’t a fucktard is the best and biggest story decision he could have ever made.

Daredevil is shaping up to be an amazing book, you can literally smell the Eisners on the pages. It is drawn by Paolo Manuel Rivera and Marcos Martin and written by Mark Waid. You should go and buy it. Or Mark Waid WILL eat your kids.

Love & Rockets – An Ode to Women

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD). I started the day by making tea and breakfast for my partner like you do on Mother’s Day but I’m not sure this ties into the themes of the day. Today is about the empowerment of women and awareness of the political rights of women around the world which you’d hope in 2013 would be significantly different from when this was started in 1909. Sadly it’s not and after 2012 with the news in Delhi and more recently with Liberian sex degrees, media backlash at Hilary Mantel and even the highlighting of women’s stature at the Oscars it does appear we’re not much further on after a hundred years. I’m not sure if there’s a signature dish for today like on Shrove Tuesday or if there is a particular vegetable you wear in your buttonhole like on St. David’s Day so I’ve done the only thing that made sense to me, I read Love & Rockets.

Love & Rockets

Love & Rockets is written by two men, Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez, it’s a stark, funny and poignant series that spans five decades which means the characters, plots and storylines are so detailed you’ll know more about them than you do your own family. The artwork is simple, black and white style but conveys so much emotion not only because it harks back to nostalgic classics like ‘Peanuts‘ and R.Crumb but also, despite it’s perceived simplicity you can still manage to differentiate every character throughout the series (no mean feat when you’re dealing with 6 generations of the same family). It’s a beautiful comic that deals with such a range of emotions, politics and situations but despite some harrowing content and sickening truths it’s always fast-paced, intelligent, satirical and bizarrely fun. Now I’m not describing miscarriage or rape as fun, it’s presented as horrifying but because of the serial nature and the connection you have with these characters when something horrific does happen the character is bolstered by their tight knit, Latino community and life goes on. The longevity of the piece means that you see the ramifications of ill deeds, you see the psychological damage or heroic strengths of a character who has suffered, you feel the pain and joy and heartache and beauty of life because it shows just that, life. I’ve never visited Palomar, or South America even, but because the characters are drawn (literally) from reality you can relate to the raw power of humans existing together. The depiction of life from the Hernandez brothers is impressive but it’s the women who leap out from the page, it’s the women who will stick in your brain, from Luba and Chelos to little Carmen and one-armed Casimira, it’s the women who run the world.

Some might take umbrage with the fact that I’m discussing Women’s rights and talking about male written depictions of women but that’s the most impressive thing about Love & Rockets, the female characters are the backbone, the brain, the brawn and the balls of the series. The men are merely various shades of black, white and grey penile shafts who clumsily traipse through storylines and the women’s lives acting, most of the time, like dicks. This isn’t a feminist propaganda piece, it’s magical realism, the way the men act is, unfortunately, quite close to the truth, with an elevated opinion of themselves whilst being slave to raging hormones within them and the constant, irrepressible rush of blood to the cock. We are a strange bunch and as Louis CK so eloquently and ashamedly points out, “For men sex is such a constant thing it’s not even sex to us, it’s just pussy! It has nothing to do with women”.

The women in the town of Palomar are Mayor, Sheriff, Mother, Maiden, Nurse, Business Women, Physiatrist, Projectionist, Genius, Scientist, TV presenter, Activist and every other true depiction of women in society that is rarely portrayed in comics or the media in general. Marvel may have a roster of female superheroes but they always seem to need the “big guns” help when there’s a real threat and any of the supporting characters like Betty Brant are woefully under represented or usually bought in as a “love interest”. In the community of Palomar this couldn’t be further from the truth, everyone is represented as human with foibles and everything else that comes with being a person. Then there’s the sexuality, the women in Love & Rockets are masters (is there a female equivalent of the word master?) of their own bodies and rather than just using it as a way to have power over men it’s shown as being something that a woman can actually want or need in their own way, dare I say it, for themselves.

It’s Friday 8th March 2013, I could go on for hours but I think I’ve taken enough of your time already when you should be out there raising awareness for IWD but I’ll just say two more things because you’ve got a few minutes left of your lunch break. Firstly, Love & Rockets is a sublime work of art, it’s a beautiful work of fiction filled with magical mishaps and fantastical fantasies but anchored by unflinching and unbiased portrayals of real people. Secondly, Love & Rockets is, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant portrayals of women in mainstream comics, it dares to do the one thing which so many pro-feminine works of fiction don’t, it portrays the women as individuals. I count myself as a feminist and the only way that feminism is going to achieve it’s goals is if it works towards equality which means getting men, women and children involved and unfortunately some feminist novels can alienate male audiences. To be honest that’s fair after years of having to write under pseudonyms and persecution at the hands of religions, publishers and governments so there’s room to write material for women only but to make a difference it has to be across gender, across nations and across all art forms that the message is heard.

Read Comics, Respect Women! that’s pretty much it for today, let’s make sure in a hundred years time we’ve moved on a bit. See you in 2113 xx

What kind of idiot brings a bow to a robot fight?

Help! a robot repossessed my face

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Age of Ultron 1 is bleak. It’s like the worldwide financial crisis finally came to comics, everyone’s had their house repossessed, Stark can’t afford enough tin to shave his face and The Hulk stopped being angry a long time ago…now he’s just…disappointed.

The first thing Age of Ultron does is hammer into your eyes with its seriousness. Then it punches you in the jaw with a double page spread of the most important place in the world in ruin, following it up with movie font credits, loads of characters with really short hair and dubious morals, before round-housing you with Hawkeye silently killing horrible men who are horrible to horrible women. Yeah, this is serious, as serious as that Spike Lee documentary about Hurricane Katerina.

Before we get into the plot or anything, it needs to be said that Bryan Hitch is a fucking revelation. Age of Ultron is a road to Damascus moment, Jules in the coffee shop at the end of Pulp Fiction. Remember when you picked up The Ultimates for the first time? This is that good. I didn’t know you could miss art, but opening this book was like coming home. I’m not nearly qualified enough to talk about his line or composition or any of that, but I just want to drink those pages in. He seems to be drawing with the frantic energy of a man who has nothing to lose, probably because he’d already decided by this point that he’d never work with Bendis again, but it absolutely shows. I don’t know what it is, but this comic pops. I would absolutely do terrorism all over New York if I knew the final product would look as good as Hitch makes it seem.

AgeOfUltron_01_Preview2

Bendis, for his part, is…different. We’re still playing with high concepts, but instead of Back to the Future with The X Men on Acid this is Age of Apocalypse with the Avengers plus Robots on Acid. But beyond that, he’s stripped back, it feels like he trimmed 15 pages of Ellen Degeneres references from the original script. I can just see him hunched over the keyboard sweating and thinking ‘but how do I examine the major themes of this book without She Hulk stating that she is sooo totally over ninjas?’.

This first issue is dirty, it’s a street level rescue mission starring Hawkeye and the destruction and morally destitute environment of AOU. And it rips along. We’re straight into the muck, the death and the leftovers. No preamble, no ’50 years later’, no ‘this is the day the heros fell’. Bendis gives us the ‘Broken Avengers’ and it’s presented as the absolute, this is the way it has always been here. There is no world left to save. I’m sure we’ll eventually get to a time machine fail-safe that undoes everything and the whole world will go back to normal, but it really has got me excited about reading a book about Avengers with nothing left to save. It’s a great first issue. AOU is a cinematic, engaging and well written comic…I just wish it had a fucking joke or two.

I don’t know how to feel, the overall concept is a little bit dull but issue one is well written and drawn by a man possessed by art gods. Let’s just hope it stays this good.

Bonus content bitches!

We contacted Brian Michael Bendis to discover his thoughts about AOU now that it’s out. Read on for our exclusive Twintterview.

BMB interview

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