In The Gutter

“The two of us, locked in eternal combat down through the years. Keeping each other miserable. What would we even be without the other?”

It’s all comics, only bangers as Lani and Josh launch their new podcast, “In the Gutter” with Ed Brubaker’s Captain America: Winter Soldier series.
In The Gutter is a Chipperish Media production by Lani Diane Rich and Joshua Unruh, and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Sharealike license. 

What is In The Gutter?

All comics. All bangers. All the time. With superhero scholar Joshua Unruh and story expert Lani Diane Rich.

S1.01 Captain Traumatica

Announcer: Welcome to In the Gutter, a podcast that is all comics, all bangers all the time with story expert, Lani Diane Rich and superhero scholar, Joshua Unruh. One of the hosts has read almost no superhero comics and the other is read almost all of them will let you sort out, which is which, and now In the Gutter.

Lani: Okay. It's so weird. It's so weird, Joshua. Okay. So I try to, like, first of all, you sent me this and you were like, this is the first issue that we're doing. We decide we're going to do it In the Gutter. It's a banger. It's awesome. I'm like, great, great. Just tell me what it is. So you tell me, and then I go and do a search and there's like 12 of them on Amazon that are Captain America, Winter Soldier.

And I, you know, so look, Brubaker because, and there's a whole bunch by Brubaker like

Josh: That's true.

Lani: And then, and then when we talked about this, we did a little kind of mini announcement on Twitter. And of course the very first response was like, Hey, I've got it. Is this it? You're like, Nope. But on the cover of what the Twitter person sent you is a picture of the Winter Soldier. Brubaker Captain America, Winter Soldier. I don't even know like. Was so worried until we actually, you know, like started taking notes and talking about this story. I had a worry in the back of my head that I had even gotten the wrong one. And you sent me the direct link to get that one. So like, what the hell is going on with having absolute there's no like volume number series number there's a year.

So like, you can, if you can find the year, but when you're trying to find this stuff, sometimes you don't see the, or sometimes the year, like I was looking at this and it was 2019, because that was when the omnibus volume was published. But when the original one was published and I have to say like, I'm into it, like I'm, I'm totally into it.

I think this is great. I don't understand how anybody ever finds a comic book that they're looking for specifically. How does it work?

Josh: With great difficulty, honestly? So this series is Brubaker's run is over a span of years. Right. And he, they actually gave him a new number one. So the issue we're going to read today is Captain America, number one, but it's volume five, number one.

Now that's not volume five. Like I have five books on a shelf that's volume five, like a magazine publishing thing. Right. Which with a lot of magazines, they will do it by year or something like that. Comic books started to get really excited, especially I should say, superhero comics got really excited about really big numbers on their covers.

Like at the point that you're like, this is the 343rd issue of amazing Spider-Man, you know, that's a big deal, right? Because a a lot of times the runs don't go that long or the characters not successful or whatever. So if you have a character, spidey is a great example. Batman's a great example where you have three plus titled.

That are all going into the several hundred issues. They don't always like reboot that volume on any kind of regular schedule. And so for instance, Captain America, as a character was in a book called Captain America in the forties. And then he kind of went away because of world war II ending and the house un-American activities committee making superheroes complicated, and then Marvel happened and they brought him back and he got another book and that's volume two, but that's in the sixties.

So between the 60s was in 2005, they went from volume two to volume five. It's not exactly.

Lani: So, so Captain America is that because Captain America was just not a big hit because when I think of, I mean, of course, you know, understanding that my understanding of Marvel happened, you know, like, like the big bang for me with Marvel was, was 2008 was iron man.

Right? So for me, I see Captain America coming out swinging, and I'm like, oh, this is a big character. Was it not a big character historically for Marvel?

Josh: In the forties. Absolutely. One thing that you and I talked about on our listener a-holes episode, our MCU podcast. When we were looking at Captain America, I was telling you how popular he was as a character that his individual issues were outselling time magazine.

And this is in the forties. When T you know, there's not TV, it's radio and it's magazine stands and he's out selling Time. He was super popular even before we were in the war. And then all superheroes took a big jump in popularity during the war because they got a little, you know, oh, let's charitably.

Call it Patriot. And, and and a lot of comic books were shipped to GIS on the front because they were easy to, they were quick and breezy and you could pass them around, you know, so superhero comics intensely popular, including Captain America through the end of the war, the fifties. And this is a whole history lesson, but the fifties with the house un-American activities, the comics code authority, red scare, all of that stuff comes together and just makes superheroes deeply unpopular.

So that for the most part, they basically go away except for Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. They stay in continuous publication. The sixties come around, DC reboots a bunch of its characters, Marvel shows up and does its thing. That's slightly different. And cap's not part of that original slate he's actually found in the ice, by the Avengers. And then he becomes an Avenger before he gets his own book. And then his popularity sort of waxes and wanes. I think what's going to shock you, is that the reason we got the Avengers and the reason we got the characters that we did is because they were so unpopular in the comics that other movie studios had not purchased them already.

I'm not saying nobody was buying Avengers, but I mean, nobody was buying Avengers compared to things like X-Men and Spider-Man sold to Fox and Sony respectively.

All right. So wait, explain to me just a second though. So there's volume one. That's the forties then there's volume two. That's the sixties.

What defines, and I know this is probably something gonna laugh at what defines a volume. Like if he was, if he was wickedly popular in the forties. So there were like hundreds of comics, but they were all part of one.

Yeah. And so in this case, and, and I am no expert on magazine publishing, so I'm going to do my best here, but this is, this is the difference between publishing arms, right?

Like when you say volume in novel publishing, you know exactly what you get, it's one book, right? It might be a collection of other books, you know, like it might be an anthology volume 1, 2, 3, or whatever, but that's what you get is a book in magazine publishing. It's really about the calendar most of the time, but also other vagaries, which like like I say, that's why, if you have a book that wants to have a magazine, I should say, and comic books, I will say a book because it's just title or book.

That kind of thing is interchangeable to me. But in this case, think of them like magazines. If you have a magazine that wants to celebrate the higher its numbers, You're going to have fewer volumes because when you get a new volume, it starts the numbering makeover. It can, and some of these rules are based on, and I'm not even kidding about this.

Some of these rules are based on, did you want to maintain your license for second class mail? Because to just pull a random Marvel example, the reason that four was in a journey into mystery is because journey and the mystery was the anthology book that they introduced him in and he became popular enough to become the main story.

And so they didn't have to get a new license for second class mail. Cause those costs a lot journey into mystery just becomes Thor. But if I recall they didn't change the number. Like, they just kept the journey and the mystery number. So that kind of thing will confuse this because nobody cared about volumes in a bookstore way until the 1980s.

And even then they didn't care a lot, but they care a lot more now, like the bookshelves at your Barnes and noble are a huge deal for comics in a way that they have never been before. It was all treated like magazine publishing. So a lot of this confusion is that kind of like we're doing multiple publishing arms at the same time.

On top of that comic book, companies are notorious for releasing multiple volumes that cover the same story. Like here's one that costs about $10. That's on paper you could use as toilet paper. Here's a really nice deluxe edition with hardcore. And glossy pages and stuff like that. And then they'll do an omnibus, which is frankly too big, in my opinion, like, yeah, it's like doing homework.

If I have an omnibus edition, I got to sit at the table, like I'm doing my math in eighth grade. I can't hold that thing up. It's terrible. And that's really what happened with this Captain America run. It was so popular that like they spit out a real quick edition and then they do a deluxe edition and then the movie happens and they do a whole different version.

That's, you know more focused on just the Winter Soldier stuff. I mean, there's just a whole lot of different approaches. To make money. And that's, before you take into account that names like Captain America and Winter Soldier are also characters in the damn story. So for instance, our Twitter friend, that story was actually centered on Bucky and Natasha.

So it's centered on Winter Soldier and black widow. So it was called the Winter Soldier, even though we're also going to have a story called Captain America, colon the Winter Soldier,

Lani: but wasn't there more than one and this might be just, I got confused and I started running around in circles, but I remember doing a search and there was more than one, not just Winter Soldier, but Captain America, colon Winter Soldier, there was more than one.

So I was looking for the brew baker, but my understanding is there was more than one by brew Brubeck. Yes. Is that okay? So like when you have the same title and the same author, and there are no distinguishing characteristics, like our Twitter friend being a little confused about if that was the one we were reading, like how, how we distinguish this particular one aside from saying that it came out in 2004, which again can be confusing if you're looking at perhaps a volume or, you know, collection, omnibus, trade, paperback whatever because those are done years later.

How, how, how, how do our listeners find the issues that we're looking for? I mean, aside from there will be links in the show notes. We do have that available just that you get the right one, but, you know, ha ha ha ha. How does anybody know they're reading the same bond. If they've got the same name,

Josh: really difficult, it's really difficult.

I'm being honest. This very serious was the moment that I realized I was a little out of the loop because after the movie came out, I sent somebody to the comic book store who wanted to recap in America stuff. And I said, awesome. Winter Soldier is literally based. Bits of it are based on this long running thing.

I recommend starting at the beginning. So just look for Captain America, volume one with ed brew, Baker's name on the cover. And they said, okay. And then they got to the comic store and they called me and they were like, there are three of those. And they actually had the video call me and I had to do it from the cover, which I only knew because I had read it already.

So I don't have an elegant solution to this...

Lani: There's no way to make it make it make sense...

Josh: Yeah. One elegant solution: find a friendly local comic shop that is good. And ask for help. That's

Lani: it ask for help. Cause that is the only way to navigate. Yeah. All right. So here we are In the Gutter, right? What are, what are we doing today? What are we starting with now?

Episode one of season, one of In the Gutter. What are we doing?

Josh: However, you can get it. We are reading Captain America. Number one from its fifth volume in 2004, the first six issues are subtitled out of time. So we are reading Captain America out of time. Number one, and I'm going to run through the credits right quick.

Now I I'm, I did as much research as I could. I'm going to give you the like for the whole collection, the credits, because I'm having a hard time pursing out. Colored what? And for reference the one I'm probably going to link is the Winter Soldier ultimate collection, which itself is in multiple volumes, but that's the one I'm using.

And so our writer is ed Brubaker. We have two artists. Steve Epting is the main artist, but whenever there's a flashback, that's Michael Lark. Okay. The letterers are VCs, Randy Gentile, Chris Lee Apolis and Joe Carra Magna assistant editors are Nicole Wiley, Molly Lazar, Andy Schmidt, and Aubrey Stetson.

The editor is Tom revert, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention this is mostly for our listeners a-hole fans. That Captain America was originally created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

I do love Jack Kirby. So that'll cover us through the first six issues. We're also going to do the seventh issue, the lonesome death of Jackman RO whose artists are John Paul, Leon, and Tom Palmer, so that we will get to that eventually. But today it's issue one of out of time. Clear as mud

Lani: clear as mud.

So everyone listening, just follow along and and go to your comic bookstore and support your local comic book store because the experts there will hopefully be able to help you figure it all out. So let's talk a little bit about what everybody does, right? Because this is something that over on endless, which is the Sandman podcast that I do with Elisa Courtney, who worked at DC during the nineties, she was an assistant editor for for Sandman.

We have talked about all of the different roles that people play. And so I'm going to go through them as best I can. But for those of you who want the real expertise go to Alisa is that of course written by ed Ruby. That is straightforward. He writes the scripts. He's the one that directs the story is basically, you know, deciding where everything goes.

Penciling, Steve , Michael Lark penciling is the person who goes and draws like the the out. Right of like all, like basically draws it, but without the coloring and, and all of that stuff like draws the pictures,

Josh: right. If you can find some penciling examples, you can really get an idea of what anchors do they really add a lot of shading and depth, you know?

But yes, pencils are generally, they lay down the initial page layout and they do the, like I say, you can write. Downplay what anchors do, but pencils really late all of the foundation that the anchors and the colorists bring out

Lani: and they add like more nuance to what the penciler has put down. They'll bring in those like layers and dimension to it.

So they do add a lot to that artwork.

Josh: No, absolutely. The right inker and color can absolutely make or break otherwise. Awesome pens. And they can sometimes salvage really bad ones. There's plenty of anecdotes mixed in here. I will say in this case, from what I can tell both Epting and Lark are illustrators is how they're billed, which makes me feel like they're probably penciling and inking their own pencils.

And for the record, inking is usually digital now. Like it's not actually done with ink anymore, but we're still that's the job they do is so we haven't lost, you know, that you know, that , but a lot of times when you get an illustrator instead of a pencil, it's either they drew it digitally initially, you know, ink, or they eat their own pencils.

And it seems like that's what we have.

Lani: And the letter let's not forget is the one that goes in and puts in everything that's inside the speech, bubbles, which is also like, there's an incredible amount of art and artistry that goes into that when you're talking about how the letterer, you know, I'm sure the emphasized words are probably dictated by the, the script writer.

But still like there's emphasis on certain words. Sometimes there can be different kinds of font work, especially like Sandman. I've noticed a lot of that going on when certain characters are speaking, the way that they are lettered is actually different. So it gives you a sense of their of their voice and intonation and all of that.

So there is, there's a lot of stuff. There's a lot of creativity going along and I think the reason why. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the reason why the art needs to be split among all of these people is because we're on a timeline and that kind of art requires a lot of time. So if, if somebody comes in and you know, they pencil it, then while they is, well, somebody else inks and colors and does all that kind of stuff, they can then pencil and arrange the next one, you know, so they can then do that.

It's just the timeline on, on comics is so tight, but you have to have a number of people doing all of this artwork. It's just too much work to get done in that time.

Josh: That is a hundred percent true even now, today in serialized superhero comics. A lot of times when you have something that's coming out more episodically or you have an indie comic that is, that only comes out when they're done, you know, with all of it.

Yeah. Those duties will still be split up because the skills are just different. Like everybody who can pencil is not necessarily everyone who can ink, you know, and vice versa. So you'll still see that split up even in more episodic or more self-contained stories. But absolutely the splitting up of duties originally started with superhero comics because they've got to put out somewhere between 22 and 30 pages, every 30 days.

And I'm led to believe the average comic book page takes about a day to draw. So, oh

Lani: my goodness. Yeah.

Josh: Yeah. So you're sort of always laying track while the train is moving.

Lani: Exactly. All right. So now that we have laid our own tracks so that we understand all of the things, we're not going to have this discussion in every episode, we are going to get into the individual story that we're talking about.

The individual story that we are talking about this week, what do we have?

Josh: And if nothing else, friends, this is the moment where you can make sure you've got the right volume, because if this makes no sense to you, you read the.

In out of time, we begin with a flashback to five years ago, which to be clear would have been the year 2000, where we are introduced to Russian general Alexander Lukin, who is surviving the fall of the Soviet union by getting the heck out of Dodge with all kinds of experimental weaponry and technology, but not before he shoots the then current red guardian in the head and tries to sell some of the high-tech gizmos to noted Nazi shithead.

The red skull, the red skull sees a person floating in a VAT, and he is very interested in purchasing that item, but Lucan isn't having it unless skull is willing to trade the reality. Altering wish drinking device known as the cosmic cube. The skull doesn't have the cube, but also says it'd be a cold day in hell before he traded it for her.

Flash to the present. That is 2005 where the red skull has pieced together a new cube from shards of previous versions. It's deep powered, but the red skull has plans to murder a bunch of people in several cities in order to power it up. He's in Manhattan so he can watch Captain America watch his hometown go down in flames before the skull uses the cube to take over reality.

Skull feels that cap is in a dark place because of everything that's recently happened, including the death of Clint, Hawkeye, Barton, good Britons, and the disassembling of the Avengers cut to Sharon agent 13 Carter visiting Steve, where we discover she has something in common with red skull. She thinks Steve should maybe find some chill before things get worse.

We flashback to a week previously where Steve went a little too ham on some aim, affiliated terrorists, Sharon points out. This is exactly the problem. And Steve is a wise ass and then talks about nightmares because he is extremely mentally. Obviously Steve see Sharon up without her benching him for some reason.

And we realized the red skull is spying on Steve and doing so from literally a foot and a half away sometimes. We cut to the skull musing over his impending triumph. He receives a phone call from Lukin who is offering to purchase the unpowered cube skull scopes, and the two of them swing their respective manhoods around for a minute.

Before someone shoots the skull dead, takes the cube and reports to Lucan that the job is done.

Lani: There's so much to talk about in this, in this issue. And I have to say just, it's not that I don't trust you. It's but it's just that, like, you know, here we are, we're going into this comic and I just wanted to go into it, like, you know, with an open mind that I wasn't going into it expecting.

Anything from the first issue that we're, you know, I knew that we were going to read this whole run and that the whole run itself was going to be great, but I was kind of like, well, sometimes things are only awesome when you've turned that last page and everything kind of flits into place and you realize how awesome it is.

So my expectations for the first issue were just that it was going to be the first issue of a story that I'm sure it was going to be great because I trusted you on that. But holy shit, by the end of this issue, I read, I was so like, I'm reading it and I'm like, okay, here we are. We're doing this thing at the red guardian person.

I didn't know who that was. So I was like, it just, this was a person that he killed, you know, that Luke and killed in the opening. And I'm like, okay, we have Luke. And who's kind of interested in on top of that a little bit. But there's, there's so much stuff. You know, like going on here and I'm like, yeah, this is pretty standard.

And then we get to that last bit and all of my expectations, which, you know, we're not that high are completely blown out of the water and I'm like, oh, we're doing something completely different here. And I have to say like, I've texted you. And I was all caps texting. I was like, oh my God. And Joshua was loving it.

He was texting back and with all these gifts of joy because he knew he'd gotten me. So this is of course my first time reading this, I didn't know what to expect. And I really, I think that the first the first issue here is incredibly strong. Now you've read it before. So when we're talking about response, responding just to this issue, I mean, what are your, what are your feelings on that?

Yeah, this

Josh: is only the third time that I've read this since 2005 or so, right. So I did know that things were going to pop off hard and I knew it would mostly be on the last page. So it is weird to talk about my expectations for a single issue. I think that this one does a phenomenal job. At hooking you, but it really does it in a very specific genre way, which we will get a little more into as we talk.

And just as a, a look behind the curtain for for our listeners, the other series that we're going to cover this season is another big favorite of mine. But as far as first issues go, it could not be more different than this one. Like, it's you think there's a lot going on in this one? Wait until you see the first issue of JLA it's all just madness and de CLO and look, here's the president and here's the old JLA like right away.

Boom, boom, boom. And so a lot does happen in this issue, but it's also like. A lot adjusted for the genre approach, you know? And so I was waiting for you. I was like, it'll be fine. Bonnie Lani loves a slow burn. This is going to, this is going to punch her in the fields in some ways that she loves from the MCU.

It's fine. And then, so I was not horribly shocked when I got the all caps text message from the last page.

Lani: Yeah, it was, it was pretty great. And what's so fun too, about this season and doing this new show is that like, you know, traditionally we've been talking about Marvel stuff and I'd be getting a lot of Marvel background and here we are opening with Marvel and Captain America.

But yeah, for the next thing that we're going to do after this, which is going to be a part of our, I dunno what we're planning now, 11 episodes season one of In the Gutter, right. Is we're moving into a DC story, which I think is going to be really fun because I've always had this sort of idea about what the differences between DC and Marvel and it is so.

Unbelievably uninformed. You know, now the only DC stuff that I've read has been the vertigo stuff, which you know, was launched under Karen Berger and is, is just different, like a different kind of feel from like your classic, you know, DC stuff. I'm very excited to be reading that and now, but starting with Captain America, a character that I love in this space from a writer who seems to me to be very assured in his, in his capabilities here, like I'm, I'm really looking forward.

I've never read anything by ed Brubaker, I've never engaged with any of this. But I'm really enjoying just being in this, in this comic space. I've, I've learned so much doing the Sam man podcast about how incredibly powerful this medium is and how often it gets just kind of dismissed. So I, I, I'm just really excited about it.

Josh: I am also excited. I mean, Our listeners that have followed us from listen up a whole's know that a lot of my frustration with the MCU is not that the MCU is necessarily doing anything badly. It's just that I know their source material. So a lot of times when something comes in kind of at a B minus C plus level, I'm like, but you were borrowing from a plus stuff, you know, and you heard that enough for me, that I'm excited to bring you into this A-plus stuff and be able to kind of ride on your shoulder with it because all of these stories are going on in the midst of a much larger story.

So, you know, you don't know about Avengers disassembled, you didn't know Hawkeye was kind of dead. I mean, you know, that kind of thing. So I'm glad I'm here to like, kinda. Spackle over that stuff so that we can really focus on how good this story is because you're absolutely right. Brew baker is a very shorthand as a writer.

You won't be surprised to know largely became known outside of superhero stuff for crime and espionage thrillers. So yeah, I mean, which you can see the DNA for the espionage. Thriller is all over his run on cap.

Lani: So one of the things that we like to do over on, I keep talking about the same man podcasts, but that is where I've been learning all about this stuff. Is, is kind of talk about the cover art and you know, again, I'm a little confused by all of the cover art and because it's just like an image, you know, that has like the body outline and the number one on it.

And I'm grateful for that because like I have, you know, the number I, you know, oh, no, no, no, because that's an inter yeah, that's a different thing. Okay. Forget it. Sorry, let me start this over again and we'll

Josh: keep it in because you're literally going to be the audience, right?

Lani: Yes. I'm the its viewpoint, but I'm also like much, much more easily confused because there's that one I was like, yeah, there's the one that has like the outline of the banana, but the cover art itself.

Is this the last page? Is that supposed to be the, because that's the one where we have the, the shot of or we have the image of red skull, murdered body splayed. It's got a pool of his own blood. Everything is black, except for the circle of light on the body. His head is at the bottom of the circle.

There's blood pooling around him. It's almost black. It's almost more shadow than blood. It's this very like, incredibly like visceral image that feels like a cover image and it has out of time on it, but it's also the last page. So does that count? That's not the cover image, is it the cover? It's the title page.

The last page of the thing I comics are confusing me, Joshua

Josh: at ho, and usually is doing a lot of heavy lifting when I say this, but usually your title page would come at the front of the book. You'd get like the masthead. You might get a little, like, you know, bitten by a radioactive spider or frozen in the ice of 1910s

Lani: come after like a cold open.

Right. So that's the title page? What

Josh: do we do this in this case? I feel like brew wanted us to yeah. We're pals. So I'm just going to say brew. I feel like Brubaker wanted to start us off running, right. So we're gonna just start with a scene and not worry about the title page. And so he does the title.

At the end on what is the most shocking image of the book, right? And

Lani: basically the we're not fucking around image. This is the image where you're like, okay, we did not come here to play. We are really doing something here. And here is that moment where you can pause on the dead body of the person that was set up this whole issue to be the antagonist really interesting, but

Josh: the actual cover and I'm don't want to, well, actually, this, because what I'm, what I'm saying is it's confusing, depending on which collection you're reading also, because sometimes they will use the cover to break up the individual issues.

Sometimes they will put all the covers at the end so that the story is not broken up, but you still get access to that art because the covers are almost always beautiful. Right? And in this case, I'm going to hold it up for you. This is the actual cover, which I will describe to our listeners. It's a, it's an Epping cover.

So it's very much of the style of the interior, which not every comic book does that. Sometimes you'll have a very different artist on the cover then than on the interiors. But in this case, it's, it's acting all the way. It's Captain America in the sort of extreme foreground running directly at your face in the background, the kind of extreme background you've gotten New York city and helicopters and jets and a hella carrier.

And in the mid ground, you have agent 13. Of course, she's going to be a big deal throughout this whole run. And you also have. For some reason. I mean, he is going to be around, but he's not in the first issue. So it's like, all right, I guess it's going to be

Lani: shield a little bit. And is Nick fury the head of shield?

And so there's yeah, so there's some of that. Yeah. Okay. So yeah, I had trouble identifying and this is because I'm reading it digitally in the, the version, cause you sent me a link and I'm like, okay, I am getting this because I don't trust myself to go and buy something anywhere else, if it is not the link that Joshua sent me.

So I got that. And I'm reading it online and that's fine. So we have these like interstitial images because okay. Now that being, that is the cover for the, the big book. That's also cover for the. Issue. All right. So we're using the cover for first issue to be the cover for the big book. And then there's these like little interstitials that will have the volume or the issue number on them.

There'll be like one. And so that was just the body outline. There was just a chalk outline of a body, basically the blue and the red and all that kind of stuff. It's, it's not that in depth in image, you know, it feels like an interstitial image as opposed to something that is, is really evocative of story and place and all that kind of stuff.

So we have some of those throughout. So I guess I'm going to try to find where the cover, but I will say that like the image that spoke to me the most in this read was that final page, that final title page that feels like a cover image to me, but of course would be full of spoilers we're at the actual cover art.

So yes, Really interesting. Everything is confusing me. Like I was confused. We went into Sandman and then eventually I got it and it has a system. And I understand the system. This is hodgepodge all over the place. I don't understand. I'm like what the system is, but the story itself and the art itself, I'm like, I'm completely in totally engaged.

I think the artwork here is really interesting. It is very. It's very smooth. It feels very polished to me. It feels like exactly what I'd expect from a superhero story, but the colors feel slightly muted. They're less bright than I would expect. There's a darkness that is just encroaching on almost all of it.

It's not in your face Nawara fish, but it leaves me with the feeling that I am in like a darker world, slightly gray. It doesn't like dive too deep into like a grunge space because it's still got this very clean, very polished kind of look to it. But I definitely feel from the art that there is a darkness, there is a grown up dark world that we're about to go into.

How does that make sense? As far as like the art goes, like what, what do you pull from.

Josh: The only thing that you said that does not make sense to me is that this is what you expect the average superhero comic to look like, because there's not enough color in here at

Lani: all. Yeah, no, I think what I expect from a superhero story is that everything is, is very I don't want to say in your face, but it is right here.

It's doing its thing. It's got the red and the, yeah, like it's less, the colors are more muted, but they are the colors. They're the red, they're the blue, you know, they're the, they're kind of like those, those classics superhero, you know, popping off of the American flag type colors. So we are using those colors.

It is very red and very blue, but it is also like less saturated, more muted. There's more darkness. You know, and, and so I found that like an interesting kind of, but it also has a very polished art look,

Josh: you know, I think when you say polished, let me see if I get where you're coming from. So I would describe Epping as a photo realist.

Yeah. Yeah. It's not, yeah. There are certainly artists who are even more, you know, photorealistic. Right. But I would say very realistic. Even Steve is a big guy, but he's not like, you know, cartoonishly large or something like that. The red skull is of course, like hideous to look at, but he is not like bright red.

It's more hideous in the crackiness you know of it. And from having said that Brubaker really is most well known outside of superhero stuff for crime, thrillers and espionage thrillers, and he wanted to do a cold war. What felt like a cold war espionage story with Captain America. This is the perfect art for that.

This is great for that. And also coloring as both at the pencil ink and coloring level, because it is dark. It is murky. It is a bright shining Sentinel of Liberty, ostensibly, who is inhabiting. A darker space than he usually does or where he's entirely comfortable being, you know, that kind of thing. Yeah.

If I have one sort of complaint about editing stuff, and this is actually an issue I have with a lot of photorealistic artists who do superhero stuff is that the action does not have as much life and movement in it as I would prefer. Right. And, and that's a little bit the realism and it also just seems like the people who drum and listen, I love acting nobody at me over this.

I'm just saying in comparison to a Howard Porter, like we're going to see in JLA or going back further to like, if you can find Kirby, Captain America stuff, you know, it's just a much less stiff, you know, the photo realistic people tend to be a little stiff when it comes to the action. But there's going to be a lot of reaction shots in this story and a lot of face acting.

And for that editing is a plus plus. Perfect. So. Excellent artistic choices all the way down, as far as I'm concerned for the tone and feel of this story. Yeah,

Lani: I think it's really neat. And yeah, when I, when I say polished, I think that is it, it almost feels glossy to me, you know, like it almost feels like there's.

And the thing is, is that, you know, coming from my, my first real deep read of comics has come from, of course Sandman, which, and I know, and as I've talked about in the Sandman podcast, like I know nothing about art. So when I talk, like, I don't know what I'm talking about and just giving like the impressions of somebody who doesn't know anything about art, that that the same man art is Is much more, it feels more impressionistic to me, I want to say, but I know that impressionism is a particular thing and I don't think that I'm talking about anything that you would actually learn, but it feels to me like it comes from this, this place of metaphor and myth.

And and it has sort of these the edges are not as sharply defined in the Sandman are beautiful art. Like I'm not saying anything bad about either of the arts, just different art styles here. All the edges are very clearly defined, you know? And I feel like there's a lot of definition to this that I, that I'm not used to because I've been reading Sandman almost exclusively as far as comic books go.

So I'm finding that really, really. And I do. I like the way, and that's where, like, it doesn't feel terribly grungy to me, the way that, that, that kind of darkness does. It's a really interesting combination of visual flavors here that I haven't seen a lot of. And I'm really enjoying that. I think that it's, it's grabbing me and I'm definitely into whatever the story is putting down.

But let's go ahead and talk about the story now, because here we are, you know we we've gone through the art and all of this kind of stuff. What, what are you getting from this issue? This story?

Josh: Well, I mean, at the highest level again, listeners who followed us from listener bay holes know that I am a big fan of Spotify, which is basically espionage stuff with science fiction elements.

Hm. That's, this is a Spotify story. Like there's a cosmic cube in it. You know, there is a person in a tank with a robot arm. And I mean, you know, it's clearly not a standard mid seventies, espionage thriller, no matter how it looks, which is kind of how it looks to me, you know? So it's got all of that Spotify elements, but they they're kind of like, yeah, but.

Right. I would, my general taste run more to something like man from uncle or the British Avengers, but this looks like John Le Carre wrote a superhero story and I would be a fool to say that that's a bad idea, you know? Well, it's

Lani: funny because like you come from. I haven't read that many of those superhero stories.

So for me, like, this is my, like, probably aside from you had me read like the mighty Thor at one point, all of the comics that you told me to read all throughout, listening to bales. I never read any of them. And I will, I will, I will cop to that. I woke up to that. So for my first experience, you know, I'm this is my first experience, like really of, of true superhero comics of actually getting into it.

So like my, you know, expectations are not set. This is setting the expectation for me. So it's going to be really interesting, I think to compare it to, but as we move into different kinds of stories, like I'm really interested in going to the DC side and the JLA 17, that

Josh: crazy. I can't wait to see. I cannot, honestly, this is all going to be great.

These stories are great, but also these preliminary conversations, as you see the sort of length and breadth. Of art style and writing style and story style that you can get in. What is honestly, I mean, superheroes, just as a concept, pretty narrow. If you, until you start adding, well, now it's a superhero spy story.

Now it's a superhero fantasy story. Now it's a pure superhero story. What exactly does that mean? I mean, you know so yeah, we're, I am on some levels setting a baseline so that I can blow it up with.

Lani: I'm very excited about that, but I love, I love that this is kind of a, like, I love fusion stories where you're taking genres and you sort of smashing them together and seeing what comes out of that.

So I'm very interested in, in seeing how the fusion of all of these different kinds of stories sort of pulls together in this particular one. But one of the things though that like, you know, I thought was just amazing is this setup within the story for who our antagonist is going to be, right.

We go through this whole thing and it's just, we open up with with, you know, Lukin, right. Who is kind of interesting because here they are, they're being invaded, you know, by this red guardian character who, I didn't know who it was, it was just a guy in a

Josh: suit. The short version is he is Russia's response to Captain America.

Awesome. There've been several of them over time, but that's the short version is if you see a red guardian, the roots are Russia looked at Captain America and was.

Lani: All right. So we have this, you know, Russian Captain America comes in and he's going to arrest general Luke and general looking as clearly, you know, he hangs out with bad company, you know, he kills the guy. The guy's like I'm here for Boris Yeltsin and the guy has clearly been through some shit because by the time he gets there, he's already on his last legs.

So Lucan like kills him without a second thought, but then says, you know, bury him, honorably, treat him like he's one of our men. And so instantly within the first few pages, you're getting the sense of this guy as being a complicated. Bad guy. He's clearly a bad guy, but he's a complicated, bad guy. And he has a sense of right and wrong.

It may not match everybody else's but he does have one, there are things that are right. And like, yeah, I'll murder the guy, but I'm going to bury him with honor. Like that kind of thing is an interesting, really crunchy thing. Then we go into, he's talking to red skulls. You know, and red skull is just evil for evil sake.

Like just bad, not concerned with anything he's like, I'm going to enjoy watching you torture this guy. He's like, I am not going to enjoy it. And Lukin is clearly not impressed with that shit, you know? And he doesn't torture the guy. He kills him out. Right. Which, you know, in a circumstance like that can be seen, especially through, as an act of pity rather than, you know, torturing this guy and putting him through all this stuff will just kill him and end it and all that kind of stuff.

So you see this complete contrast and then it feels like Lukin, just hands the Baton over to red skull who will be waving it out throughout the rest of the story, just like this is the antagonist Baton. I have it. And all I'm doing is obsessing over Steve Rogers. And I've got, you know, people who are watching him all the time.

I know where he is all the time and I just want him dead. He is villain monologue. Through the whole thing so hard that honestly, I forgot about the interesting layer dimensional character of Lukin. Cause I thought that was just our opening character and, you know, whatever. So, so, you know, we go in, we spend some time with Steve, we see that Steve is, is handling some trauma, which is, I also think really interesting.

And we'll talk about that in a little bit. And you know, and he's walking through all this stuff and he's in this, you know this like fake house that is, has a hologram over it. So it looks dumpy, but inside it's where Steve Rogers lives. And he's just trying to figure out his life. He's lost Bucky.

He's lost all these people. He lives in the forties, which is where the source of his trauma was. And that is a very real experience. When you are experiencing trauma, you live in that space time does not go by, you still live there and when you go back, you revisit it in that moment. So I loved all of that.

No, we're going through all the stuff. We go back to red skull, red skull is continuing to villain monologue. It's two years after no one he's just obsessed with Steve. And then he's, you know, there's this really interesting part where it's like, well, who are we without each other? And you're, and I'm thinking, oh, by the end of it, You know, they're going to lose each other and we're setting that up and then boom done red skull on the ground, bleeding out, dead, dead, dead.

And Lukin is the one who's standing there. Like, yeah, we're going to be doing this my way. And it felt to me like a meta commentary on that kind of villain as well, this like evil monologuing taking up all the space in the room villain. When you make room for a villain or an antagonist, not necessarily the same thing who will will have that, that crunchy, layered dimension while still pushing against our hero or protagonists again also not necessarily the same thing.

So yeah. I loved it. I was so in love with it at the end, when that happened, because I would've, I would've written with red skull and been like, okay, let's see where this goes. But the fact that he came in and just shot him dead in the middle of the villain monologue game, I

Josh: loved it. Yeah. So generally speaking, I feel like superhero stories should be pretty broad, right?

I do not have a problem with a bad for badness sake or evil for evil illnesses. Say in these types of stories, mostly because anyone who's heard me talk about this stuff, it's heard me say it. Like, I want superhero stories, externalize the heroes, internal conflicts, right? Cause this is a story that needs to tell its story punching.

So I want them to be torn up on the inside and then that thing that's tearing them up to be embodied in this villain that they can punch. Right. But I I'm with you, like a more nuanced, Dillon is more interesting. And so I'm this whole, like you start the book and you think that Lukin is going to be like a window into the red skull.

And then it turns around and red skull is actually a window into Lukin and I am extra good with that in this situation, both because I know skull is not as far outside of this story, as you might think at the last page, I'm going to leave that hanging for the moment. But the other part is that like, and, and let me say, this is actually a moment.

I'll put a small trigger warning because we are going to have to talk about Nazis. And so if you do not want to hear her discussion of Nazis, this may not be the best issue. This may not

Lani: be for you to

Josh: make a choice. It's a choice, right? In this case, though, we got to remember red skull is a top to bottom Nazi, and I.

Do not under any circumstances, want those fucks humanized at a story anymore, punch them in real life, punch them whenever you see them and then punch them because they made your knuckles hurt. I don't want a nuance to Nazi villain, fuck all that noise. So we set them up because we can't do a sort of Seminole Captain America thing without red skull, but then we shuffle him off to the, to the rafters for a bit.

And his touch will be felt as we go. But he is clearly not going to be the focus of this nuanced espionage thriller for that. We need Lukin, a man who considers himself the last good rush. Right.

Lani: Yeah. And that he feels like he has, you know, a mission, like, you know, he believes in something, he believes in what he's doing and that's why he's doing it.

Generally, like overall, generally, I'm usually going to prefer a more nuanced villain over somebody like red skull that said, I know enough about comic stories to know what to expect there. And having somebody like that, who again, is representative of something, you know, who is, you know, yes. Evil for evil.

You know, fine, but also like there's, there's much more going on in that commentary and yes, I'm not interested in humanizing any Nazis. So if we have somebody who is a villain who is a Nazi, then I'm going to ride with that person being just all that. Like, I'm fine with that. And the thing is, is that narratively that also works narratively evil for evil sake is not a problem.

You know, as far as like putting together a story and making it work, what you need is you need an antagonist who is blocking a protagonist from getting what they want. And in the end of winter has to be decided that's, you know, to make it work narratively, that's all you need. But overall, generally I like an antagonist that makes me love them a little bit.

That makes me feel a little internal conflict about how I feel about that. Antagonist see spike from Buffy. So So for me to be able to see someone who is so clearly bad, I mean, let's not forget in the very opening and has a human person sitting in suspension in a tube. Like this is not no way is this a good dude, but he is really interesting in that he believes in something and that he does have a sense of what is right and wrong.

He does have a sense of mercy, you know, and that he's not going to make this guy suffer and he's not going to enjoy torturing anybody. Like all of that I think is really, really interesting. And we have, you know, like red skull, they're practically drooling at the idea of torture as a nice, you know, kind of foil for what we're going to end up with Lukin.

So I absolutely love all of it. I was gonna ride with red skull, but I love it. I think this is really interesting and very unexpected, you know, to

Josh: me, I think I can actually bring up a theme that I think we're going to see play out in different ways throughout a lot of this story that. Give a little nuance to red skull in terms of the story, not as a character, but in terms of what he is to other major players in it.

Because if we look at Luke and we'll start with him, he says himself, I'm all that's left of the true mother Russia. Right? He's convinced that the end of the USSR is a huge sort of moral failing of his nation and his people, right? Red skull, not sadly the last Nazi fuck head, but he is the apotheosis of Nazi fuckheads, you know, and we have Captain America, an ostensible Sentinel of Liberty, right?

So these are our three guys, last of Russia the apotheosis of Nazi jerks and a Sentinel of Liberty, you know flag. Yeah, Star-Spangled man with a plan, right? But the USSR was not a grand execution of Marx's idea. Hell it wasn't even really great based on linens. And while the Nazi ethos is sadly still alive and well in the world, I would bet you that red skull does not consider toothless crackers as his people, regardless of how many swastikas they have tattooed on them.

And let's be honest, if you grant, if you grant that cap is part of the greatest generation who fought the last good one. Which I think is a bit of a stretch, historically speaking. But even if you grant that he's still living in modern America, which is fundamentally corrupt in feckless and based in white supremacist ideology, more than they would like to admit, considering there's a Nazi standing right over there and it's colonial, if not fully Imperial expansionist, I mean, all three of these men fight for ideals that were tarnished the day they got handed to them and are even worse off today.

And that's not accidental. Like that's that grit is going to be, we're going to be faced with that constantly from these three characters.

Lani: Yeah. I mean, I love it because when we talk about cab, you know, here we have cab and he is representative of that, like deep down home, American goodness. And once again, I completely totally co-sign and rubber stamp you know, your argument that, that was fucked when we got it.

Josh: It's complicated. It's complicated in a way that, that not all Americans are comfortable with it being complicated and pointing to him as, like I say, great. G greatest generation last good war. Yeah. That's a very uncomplicated. What ought to be more

Lani: competitive. Exactly. But then what we get here in cap is extremely complicated.

We open up with Sharon coming to see him being like, what the fuck, dude? Like you, you, you know, like, he's like, I did my job, you know, but he did it in a way that was that was clearly not okay. And especially because we have that contrast right here, we have kind of a cap reflection of red skull, not of Lukin, right.

Of like he's kind of enjoying, tearing the shit out of these guys and maybe doing his job a little bit too much and getting a little bit too into it. Which of course is a, is a clearly like a trauma response for him because he's, he's very traumatized. And I gotta tell you, I love that we're having him process his trauma, but.

You know, going back to, to your point here, we have cab who is behaving in like, you know, kind of a, on the, on the ride to red skull. Like we're talking about cap spectrum at one end and red skull at the other caps, moving a little bit more toward the middle.

Josh: It's true. I actually really like that bit, actually, that he is overly brutal that he treats, I mean, these are terrorists and they're trying to set off a dirty bomb in Coney island.

I'm not saying buying a cookie, you have agent 13 going. Yeah, it's a little much Steve. And while there are some, there are some complicated, ethical and moral conversations to be had about the superhero concept and how superheroes act in stories. And I feel like a lot of the time, these are frigging cartoon characters for kids.

Like they're not going to hold it up. They're not going to hold it up. Right. But if we're going to look at it, I really like setting a baseline of. Cap is too brutal. And that is a red flag instead of it being system's normal, you know it's come up. This is a trip that comes up now and then they used it on Batman.

After the second Robin died. Like that's how people knew there was a problem. He was way over there. Like we watch Captain America and Batman beat people up on every page every month. Yeah. It's worthwhile, I think. Cause we want them to still be heroic characters. It's worthwhile that when they do kind of like put a toe over the line that somebody goes, you're not okay.

I love that.

Lani: Yes. Well, and we had that complaint often in our MCU podcasts that like people are doing these things. And they're saying that because of the, the, the, the reason why they're doing them means that they have licensed to do them in whatever manner they want. And they're still the good guy. And the fact of the matter is that no, that's not true.

And that we're willing in here to shine a spotlight on that while we're processing has his trauma, which by the way, hello to that.

Josh: I love it. I

Lani: love it because what we do is we put our characters in a lot of these kinds of stories through just unbelievable shit. And then they bounce back and they're just fine.

And they're ready to fight another day. And you're like, no, you just went through a thing, you know? So we've got Steve. He's suffering. He is living in 1944 where he lost Bucky, where he lost people, where there were people that he couldn't save. And he is really feeling that trauma. And I mean, honestly, to see characters processing their trauma and fiction is more important now than it has ever been, but it's always been important and we don't do it enough because what we do is like in stories where people go through all these terrible things, and then they're fine.

That is, is reinforcing a message. You know, if you were tougher, if you were better, if you were cap, you could handle it. When we think about our own trauma, when we see our heroes processing trauma, that opens up a space for us to be like, okay, I went through a thing and I know what Steve's talking about when he says he lives in that moment that he hasn't left it yet because that's what trauma does.

You have a flashback. You are not in the moment. Now you are in the moment. Then you are reliving that experience and it takes time and it's. Fucking therapy and it takes everything to like walk through that, understand it and process that trauma. And when we see these characters, we put our characters through so much because that's what makes good fiction.

But we don't often do the cleanup on the backend, which is, yeah, I've put this character through this, like as writers, you know, I put this character through this. Now I have to work through what I put this character through. Because that is also part of what that story is. So as soon as we have Steve there talking to Sharon about his trauma and showing that overreaction, I mean, I had a therapist who told me once that when people overreact to something that is a trauma flag, that means that there is trauma there.

And it's one of those things that, you know, I was saying, I had this reaction to something that I don't understand why I reacted this way. It's so over the top, it's more. And I was holding that on me. Like, I can't behave. Like, I don't know how to behave like this is, you know, she's like, no, it's a trauma trigger.

And just explain the whole thing to me. And I was like, oh my God, that makes so much sense. You know? And so to have that, like actually laid out. In the fiction is so incredibly meaningful to me. So like that, in addition, like, you know, here, we've got this, you know, more nuanced villain and, and red skull getting shot in the middle of a villain monologue.

And then we've got cat processing his trauma. It was like, this issue was made specifically to delight me. And I absolutely love all of this stuff that we're doing. I have my reservations about

Josh: sharing them. Oh, tell me.

Lani: I think that Sharon as a character in and of herself is fine, but there is something about her being Peggy's niece.

That feels to me like we are replacing Peggy, like Peggy was Peggy. Peggy was back in the forties. Peggy is in the past. We got to move on from that cap, Scott and move on from that. Totally get it by making the girlfriend. And this is they've broken up at this point. So they've kind of gone through that process by making the girlfriend, her niece.

It just feels like we're just, she's just as good as Peggy shut up. That's what it feels like to me rather than processing the fact that Peggy can not be replaced. Cap is allowed to move on, but Peggy can not be replaced. And there's something about her being her niece that just bugs me aside from that agent 13, Sharon, she's fine.

Like I got no problems with her. It is purely that conceptual space where I'm like, don't tell me that she's just as good as Peggy because her last name is Carter. She is. Know, this

Josh: is interesting because, because one page on page, Steve has so much more history. With Sharon than he ever had with Peggy.

And honestly, some

Lani: of the stuff that

Josh: the shows you've seen the movies. Right. And so much of what was done with Sharon is in the comics is fed backwards to Peggy in the movies. Not necessarily like in a one to one, but they just, that, that, that level of competency and how important Peggy is, like, she was 11 interest in those, a wartime cap comics.

But I mean, they were war time cap comics, like they were, it was the forties and they were being shipped to GIS and it was written by two guys, two guys who had invented romance comics, but nevertheless, still two men. Right. So she basically, Peggy was just like, sort of elevated to the point that it made any sense for her to be on the battlefield with cap.

Right. Like she's great and important, but I mean, as far as the amount of screen time, Paige time that we get it's Sharon all day. And let me tell you, let me tell you a thing. That'll make you even sicker about this niece business. Remember that originally it was the mid sixties when cap came out of the ice, which means it had been all of 20 years, which means he comes out of the ice still physically, you know, 23 basically.

And Peggy would only be in her forties.

Oh, originally Sharon was her niece, not her.

Lani: Great-niece right.

Josh: Yeah. And that's yeah,

Lani: it is. But it's so funny though, because I'm going to be there a lot of these presumptions that I'm going to have, based on my experience with the MCU that are not relevant to the story. And that's funny because as I'm talking about Peggy, I am talking about our agent Carter series.

The one, yeah. That is super, super interesting. All right. Well, let me stand corrected on that because we are in a different, but we're in a different,

Josh: your reaction and you bring whatever you already have with you to it. But that's why I just find that absolutely fascinating that like, and I think, you know, the comic book, sliding timescale makes it complicated to say, but I mean, I think at this point, However the time works in fiction.

CAPP has way more of a relationship with Sharon than he ever had with Peggy, even in the 606 fiction, just because of the sheer amount of time that he's been an Avenger in the present, as opposed to the fairly limited amount of time that he, we can't, we can only expand that war time stuff so far. Right?

Like the war went from here to here. It's not like mash. That was three times bigger than the actual, you know, Korean war. So even, even with the kind of weirdness of comic book time, yeah. We, we try, try and get your head around the idea that, that Sharon. Way more vital to caps mythology than Peggy is by far.

Uh Huh.

Lani: All right. Yes, no, I absolutely will wrap my head around that and that makes me like it better. That makes me like it better. But anyway so I have questions that I come up with at the end because I'm trying to do this transition from everything I know to MCU and all of that stuff. And one of the things that we've referenced here, we've referenced a couple of things.

We we've kind of body floating in a solution in a tube. I'm presuming that that is going to be Winter Soldier. I don't want you to spoil that for me, but that is my presumption as this time that that is Bucky. The cosmic cube that we're referring to with red skull, we have a reference to it. A couple of times.

I am seeing that as being the Tesseract from the MCU. Is that analogous or is that something else entirely? The Tesseract

Josh: is absolutely the poor man's version of the cosmic cube. Now the main reason I say that is. That we come to find out that the Tesseract is the space stone, but what did we ever see?

It used as a battery, boring, not into it. The cosmic cube is an eventually sentient, not at first, but eventually sentient reality, altering wish granting machine, dude. Think big guys think big.

Looking forward.

Lani: Yeah. I've got to get used to the you know, the always dialed up to 11 newness of comics of comics, so, okay. So the other thing and I know, I know we talked about aim. I know we talked about it when we were doing agents of shield listening to bay holes podcast. But I'm going to need a refresher because I'm trying to remember like aim was shield.

They're good guys. Right?

Josh: Good God. No, no bad guys. Okay. Okay. This is as close as we'll get to a little four-color fact kind of feel right. Little real quick, very short little history lesson. So aim is advanced idea mechanics. They are a group of science terrorists who believe in a meritocracy based on scientific brilliance.

So the better a scientist, you are, the more important you are in aim and in AIM's vision of the future, their their leader. Well, they, they have a leader that you're familiar with. We'll talk about that, Phil in a minute, but underneath that guy is the scientist Supreme. Like that's what he's called, right that's pain.

Now they started out as a subdivision of hydro back during the war, they were created by bear instructor to create super advanced weapons for Hydra. But when Hydra falls. Aim grew beyond that remit, although Strucker and Hydra sometimes show up and start going. No, but we were here first. You have to work for us.

There's a contention there like that. They've grown beyond where they started, but they can't deny where they started. Right. Aim is actually pretty decent at their job. Science terrorists they have made at least three very dangerous things. One of them being the original earthbound cosmic cube the first cosmic cube made on earth was created by AME.

They also created an Android called the super adapt toy that borrows superheroes powers. So you just get beat up by your own gimmick and perhaps the pinnacle of their work. They created everyone's favorite mobile organism designed only for kids. Mo doc is the leader of,

Lani: oh my God. All right. I think I got AME confused with maybe is it sword?

There's there's a prodo shield organization. So the

Josh: SS MCU wise, the what is it? The something scientific reserve. The SSR is the photo shield,

Lani: right?

Josh: Sword in the comics is like shielded and space sword in the MCU. Something to do with artificial intelligences and robots. That's why they were involved in one division. Right. They have very different remit. I'm trying to figure out who you might have you know, gotten twisted around by, but yeah, that's, that's, the aim is bad guys all the time and, and they're actually, this is a fun one for this.

It is. Okay. That's so Hydra is not an acronym, but they often treat it like it is like they put it all in caps and stuff. This is because the roots of that stuff is in like 60 Spotify where I had an uncle UNC, Ellie, it stands for stuff. Right. Am I mission impossible for us is, you know, IMF like that kind of thing.

So that's, that's where the roots are. That's why shield, you know, shield is a big, long acronym. Like uncle is a hundred percent what's going on there. So they have some roots in that. I get

Lani: confused by all of these organizations and which one is which so I'm glad that I asked

Josh: about it buckle up a little bit, because one of the things that's going to happen during this story is you're going to see splinter groups of aim.

Because again, this is sort of treading in some realistic espionage area, right? So the idea that a once very powerful consolidated terrorist organization would have a massive setback. Splinter off because they're cells anyway. Right. So you're going to see some other splinter organizations connected to aim that are, you have to ask the question, are they AME or are they something else entirely?

And that's, and I mean, we've done that, you know, the in our, you know, never-ending war on terror, we've, we've literally seen this happen with actual terrorist organizations. So it's kind of funny, you know, to see that reflected in a really over the top superhero way. So I want to ask you something, you have a note in here that I wanted to follow up with you on, cause I'm curious exactly what you meant.

And we've talked a little bit about this because the, the differences in history, right between the MCU and the 6 1 6 for those playing at home, the 6 1 6 is the mainline. Marvel universe, whatever the hell that means we're just doing our best friends. Right. And you're absolutely right. That there's a lot of MCU history that kind of gets pulled from or borrowed from, or re-imagined, but for, from this story, but also, you know, the 6 1 6 as a whole, but I was curious when you said that, what specific stuff did you have in mind?

Like what resonances are you really seeing? Other than some of the obvious there's a red skull. There's a Captain America.

Lani: Well, you know, this is winter. Right. So here we are, we're in this Winter Soldier story at this point. You know, I don't know what happens, but I know that we all believe that Bucky is dead and so does cap.

But there is a man in suspension and yada yada. So I think that like you know, cause of the note that I have, which is a ridiculous note is, Hey, this is the MCU. What are the differences like that? Isn't a 14 hour master class in and of itself. But I think that what my main question is, is how I would say, give me a percentage of how much the MCU, Winter Soldier story is pulling from this vision by Brubeck Brubeck and that we're reading now.

Josh: That's tough. I would say that it is more inspired by then based on okay. I think that's the, I think that's the best way that I can put it from where we're at right now, but I bet that that's a conversation that we revisit as you get deeper into this story.

Lani: Oh, we'll be revisiting all of these conversations quite a bit.

Josh: Yeah. They come up, they come up themes or not just for eighth grade book report. Sometimes they're also for really complicated superhero espionage stories.

Lani: Okay. So like, you know, I I've, I've said a million times, I love at the end of every conversation to talk about our favorite things and to end on what it was that we enjoyed the most. I really love that In the Gutter is all bangers all the time. So this is always going to be like the easiest part of the show to do.

But I wanted to, one of the things that at least that I've been doing in endless, which is the same amp podcast was we would pick our favorite page or a favorite piece of art. And then go into what our favorite part of the story is because the art itself is definitely like, it's all part of the story.

It's all part of the same thing, but sometimes there will be a panel or a page that just is so beautiful. And so I always like to look at what is my favorite art from it visually. And so we're going to start with that. And then we're going to go into our favorite part. But my favorite page I, I love what we've got going on with the reflections we see at various times that like red skull be looking, you know, through a window and we'll see this reflection, you know?

And, and we have kept looking through windows and we see reflections on there. And I think that given the fact that we have you know, we opened with red skull being this like cartoonish, enjoyer of torture, you know, for other people and watching people be tortured way over the top for whatever it is that he's trying to, you know, achieve.

He's also just really, really enjoying the process. And then we have Steve struggling with maybe, you know, expressing some of his feelings on terrorists that, that he doesn't need to express with terrorists that possibly therapy might be a little bit better for. So he is getting to where, you know, maybe a part of him is also sort of enjoying that.

Torture like really, you know, like hurting people more than necessarily, they need to be hurt in order for you to stop the bad thing from happening. So then there's this one page where we have red school, he's looking out the window and we see the reflection of cap superimposed over red skull's face.

And I love what that does the magically. I think it's, it's a really interesting you know, kind of analog to make visually in that space. And I just thought it was beautifully done. So that's, that's my favorite piece of art in in this issue.

Josh: I don't mind telling you that reflections are going to continue to be a thing.

Yeah, he may in a more robust way. I am not at Liberty to discuss, right. This instance. So so I love that you took this really deep thematic look. I think my favorite page, as far as the art goes is the first full page that we're introduced to agent 13. This is a place where that face acting. The editing is so good at really comes through because she is clearly not here for caps bullshit.

Like she's just like, can you stop jumping around your fucking toddler and trying to have a conversation with you? Right. But she can't, that's what she wants to do this Peggy's niece after all. That's what she wants to do. But she knows she can't do that because he's a big stubborn man from the forties.

So she's got to like, kind of mollycoddle them through it, you know? And she's just like annoyed about it the entire time, but she's also like, like catch it soften. Why do you think that is Steve instead of just, you know, like fuck sake, what is wrong? You know, so there's just a lot going on with Sharon on that page.

And again, like I say, when the action, there's some good action in this scene, this issue, but it's a little stiff to me and if, but is doing the thing that we really need editing to do. And that's that page, because I know a little bit more about their history and how she's just like, fuck, I could just choke you out.

You know, just talk to me like a human, you know so good. I love

Lani: that. No, I think that if I had that understanding of Sharon as a character, you know, I think that would probably say that to me a little bit more too, but I love that. Okay. So my favorite start, like story moment is Amy it's when Lukins assassin takes out red skull, red skull, who has been like, you know, sitting there bragging about all of the spots that he has watching.

He's, he's just taken off the fake face that he has. He walks by Steve and looks over his shoulder and he's so proud of himself. And then, and I love too that it's not Lucan, but it's Lukins assassin. Luca has been doing the same thing to the red skull has taken him out. So it's another reflection, right?

Where we're red skull's own tactics are then used against him and he thinks he's so smart, you know, but then he ends up getting taken out. So I just. I loved it. And that moment, of course, oh my God. Like I wasn't expecting, I was expecting this to not like follow through with that nuance that they set up, even though they set it up.

And that's one of the things I love too, when you look back at what you did not expect and see that all of the clues were right there for you, that you shouldn't have expected exactly this. And yet they still get one past me. I love when that happens. I

Josh: mean, God bless him for doing a game changer on the end of the page of the first issue.

I mean the first issue and it's like, ha, it's completely not what you thought. So we have the same favorite part, but you love it for story reasons. And I love it for character reason. It's just fascinating to me. So like I said earlier, I have zero problems with a villain that's evil for evil sake.

I believe those people exist in real life. So please put them in my adventure fiction, especially when I want to focus on my protagonist, my hero, but at the same time as mentioned red skulls and Nazi fuckhead with delusions of grandeur. But the thing is in order for us to maintain stakes, the delusions of grandeur can't be as delusionary as we would like them to be like he has to win some, you know, in order to over, over the course of, you know, issues in decades and things.

I mean, but here we have him monologuing for an entire issue about how truly evil he is. And if I had a mustache twirling, the whole, my destiny, and this was, this was the line that stood out to me. I could put a bullet. He's saying, he's thinking to the cap. I could put a bullet between your eyes at any time I want, and you'd never see it coming, but that would be too easy.

And then that's what happens to him. So I say, welcome to your welcome to your ignominious death. You Nazi fuck may the tribe of dead boring Nazis increase.

Lani: Well, I think on that note, we can probably. Talking about. Okay. So, so now that we have anchored ourselves in the first issue, and I don't have to wander through endless fields of captains, America, Winter Soldier and I know what we're doing, what are we doing next week? And, and what is like, do we have a little bit of a hint of what's.


Josh: absolutely. We're going to spend next time looking at Captain America, volume five, number two out of time, part two, which I will sum up as Steve gets the news about the red skull and takes it poorly.

Lani: Ooh, interesting. Well, I can't wait to, to blah, blah, blah. Read that. Okay. I'm just whatever, it's the end.

It's been an hour and a half. It's all fun.

Josh: It's fantastic. I went to the music with who and be in great shape. I said,

Lani: No, I'm going to leave all this stuff in. Are you kidding me? This is what it's like to hang out with me and Joshua, where I just slammed blind bag.

Josh: Thanks for listening to In the Gutter with Joshua Nouriel and Lani, Diane Rich. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider talking about it with your friends, leaving a review somewhere or supporting chipper ish media Rish.