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IT ALL COMES BACK TO SUPERMAN EPISODE 15 – CATHARSIS…2020

Episode 15 – Catharsis…2020

Back in late 2009 I recorded an episode of Views From The Longbox with my friend Scott Gardner where we talk about our feelings about how DC Comics was treating Superman.  It was a raw and honest conversation and I titled that episode Catharsis.  Well, it’s now 2020 and once again I find myself at a crossroads, of sorts, with Superman and I thought it might be time to once again take a raw and honest look at where I am as a fan of the Man of Steel.  Why am I walking away from the ongoing books?  Why is Clark Kent as a secret identity important?  What were things like back in 2007?  How have my opinions on being a Superman fan changed?  And what does Doomsday Clock #12 have to do with all of this?  Listen and find out.

Below are selected images from Doomsday Clock #12.

It All Comes Back to Superman is available on a variety of formats.  It’s on Apple Podcasts, the Google Play Store, and even Spotify.  If you like accessing the RSS Feed directly, you can do that here.  Feedback for the show can be left below or you can head on over to the It All Comes Back To Superman Facebook Page.  The email address for the show is [email protected].

Next Time: Another installment of Superman Is For Everyone.

 

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IT ALL COMES BACK TO SUPERMAN EPISODE 14 – SUPERMAN IS FOR EVERYONE: COSPLAY

Episode 14 – Superman Is For Everyone: Cosplay

This time out I’m kicking off a series that will be going off and on this year called Superman Is For Everybody.  The idea is that instead of talking about a Superman movie or television series or comic book I will be talking to people that channel their love and affection for Superman in different ways.  For this first installment I sat down with two friends of mine that cosplay as Superman.  David Simms and Joshua Jarmin (hosts of the very NSFW One More Round) have been cosplaying as Superman for several years at conventions and for charity.  They were nice enough to give me an hour of their time to talk about what got them into Superman, what made them want to dress like the character, what goes into getting a costume, the responsibility of dressing like Superman, and more.  It was a lot of fun and I’d like to thank them once again for appearing on the show.

(As if you needed to be told, I’m the guy in the middle.)

It All Comes Back to Superman is available on a variety of formats.  It’s on Apple Podcasts, the Google Play Store, and even Spotify.  If you like accessing the RSS Feed directly, you can do that here.  Feedback for the show can be left below or you can head on over to the It All Comes Back To Superman Facebook Page.  The email address for the show is [email protected].

Next Time: A very naval gazing episode where I give a State of the Union of my Superman fandom and also look at Doomsday Clock #12.

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NEVER ENDING BATTLE ORDER

When you co-host a podcast about the Superman books that were published between 1986 and 2006 it stands to reason that you might know something about that era.  This leads people to ask you questions and hands down this is one of the best things about hosting a podcast.  I start these things to share my thoughts and what I laughingly call my knowledge and I never get tired of it.

It’s keen.

Sometimes I can answer the question quickly.  Sometimes I have to do some research.  Sometimes I have to put something together.  A few weeks ago I got one of the Option C questions on Twitter.

Quick heads up for those coming in late; from 1991 to 2002 the Superman books had a little triangle on their cover.  See, there were three, then four, then five, then four Superman titles being published and the creative types decided to start linking each book so that even though the writers and artists were telling their own stories, the titles would be linked to make what became, ostensibly, a weekly Superman comic.  The triangle told you where the book you were reading fit into the overall story.

After making sure we were on the same page I had to admit that I didn’t have a list handy.  I own all of the comics we talk about on the show and I bought them as they were published, so I never had to get a list together to collect them and it never occurred to me to type out such a list.  The thing is, anal-retentive is hyphenated and I do have an inventory of all of my Superman books.  I use Excel for this and have the different titles in different workbooks and I just so happened to note the Never Ending Battle/Triangle Number next to each book that had one.  Some copying and pasting and sorting later I had what I believe is a complete list of the Never Ending Battle/Triangle Era books.

You can download the PDF here.

If you find something out of place let me know and I will fix and reupload the file.

Enjoy.

Posted in From Crisis to Crisis, Reference | 2 Comments

IT ALL COMES BACK TO SUPERMAN EPISODE 13: SHAZAM TIMES 3, SUPERMAN TIMES 2

Episode 13: Shazam Times 3, Superman Times 2

J David Weter (but we can call him Dave) joins me to talk about two team-ups between Superman and Captain Marvel (but DC calls him Shazam).  Why?  Ostensibly it was to tie into the Shazam film that came out earlier this year and if I had released this episode earlier this year it would have.  Now it’s just a fun excuse to talk about Superman and Captain Marvel meeting up.  First up in our discussion is DC Comics Presents #49, where Superman fights Black Adam, there’s a Billy Batson on Earth-1 who isn’t Captain Marvel, and then Captain Marvel shows up.  After that, David and I talk about DC Comics Presents Annual #3, where Sivana steals the power of Shazam and fights the Earth-1 Superman, the Earth-2 Superman, Captain Marvel, Jr., Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel, who has a crisis of faith during the battle!  Mixed in with all of this is commentary on Captain Marvel in general, his other team-ups with Superman, why Dave loves the Golden Age Captain Marvel adventures, and some of the ads that appeared in these books.  After that, I go through some feedback on the previous issue.

Below are the covers and selected pages from the books Dave and I discussed.

It All Comes Back to Superman is available on a variety of formats.  It’s on Apple Podcasts, the Google Play Store, and even Spotify.  If you like accessing the RSS Feed directly, you can do that here.  Feedback for the show can be left below or you can head on over to the It All Comes Back To Superman Facebook Page.  The email address for the show is [email protected].

Next Time: Either a year end episode or the first part in a series where I talk to Superman fans that express their fandom in other ways than blathering on about comic books.

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FCTC EPISODE 227: TRIAL OF SUPERMAN PART 1

Episode 227: Trial of Superman Part 1

Welcome to the two hundredth and twenty-seventh episode of From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast!  This podcast has a simple premise; examine just about every Superman comic published between Man of Steel #1 in 1986 to Adventures of Superman #649 in 2006 in an informative and hopefully entertaining format.

THE TRIAL OF SUPERMAN BEGINS…

…halfway through the episode.

That’s right, folks, it’s time to answer the summons for jury selection, because the Man of Steel is going on trial.  Why?  Well, you’ll have to listen to the episode to find out, but it’s…interesting.  We ain’t sayin’ what it is.  Just, trust us.

(Mike and Jeff stare out of the plane at Superman flying where the engine should be.)

Anyway, the action starts, appropriately, with Action Comics #715.  In this issue we are introduced to the all new, all different Parasite!  Who is he?  How did he come to be?  Well, some of that was answered last time, but you get the full story here.  Then, just as Superman is at his lowest, Superman: The Man of Steel #50 happens and things get even weirder!  Why are aliens looking to arrest Superman?  What terrible crime could he have committed?  Are Mike and Jeff too hard on the art?  Listen and find out!

Below is a gallery of covers and selected pages from the comics discussed.

As promised, here is a scan of The Trial of Superman house ad!

You can subscribe or listen to the show in a variety of ways. First there is the RSS Feed and then there is the Apple Podcasts link.  You can also find the show on Spotify and the Google Play Store.  Are you on Facebook? Be sure to “like” the official FCTC page, which you can find by clicking on this link.

You can email the show by clicking this link. All questions, concerns, fears, trepidations and cheap shots are welcome.  Also be sure to give us a review over on iTunes and feel free to comment on the show here at the site!

Next Time: The Trial of Superman continues with Superman #106 and Adventures of Superman #529

This episode of From Crisis to Crisis was brought to you by Jason Sandberg’s Jupiter!  Check it out today at Comixology!

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VIEWS FROM THE LONGBOX EPISODE 268: SEMI-RETIRED

Episode 268: Semi-Retired

Over the past few years I have been selling off the majority of my comic book collection and back in August I sold the final, giant chunk all in one lot.  At the same time, I have felt myself moving farther and farther away from the modern comic book marketplace.  Since Views is all about my history with and opinons on comics I thought it would be interesting to sit down and talk about those two developments.  I tried doing it solo, but it never worked.  Around the same time, Andrew Leyland (he of Palace of Glittering Delights and Listen to the Prophets: A Deep Space Nine Podcast) was going through a similar set of circumstances, so we got together and spent about two hours discussing our feelings on collecting and comics and how things are different now.

This is my anti-catharsis episode.  We’re not here to yell at clouds (though a little of that does happen).  We’re here to talk about how it is to be a semi-retired comic book reader, fan, and collector.  Discussions include my collecting history, the different reasons Andy and I have sold our books, adventures in eBay selling, what we’re currently enjoying, and why it’s okay to walk away.

Warning: There is political talk in this episode.  Not a lot, but it’s there.

Next Time: No clue.  I haven’t decided on an episode yet.  Stay tuned.

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VIEWS FROM THE LONGBOX EPISODE 267 – JUSTICE LEAGUE: DARKSEID WAR

Episode 267 – Justice League: Darkseid War

Hey!  It’s an episode of Views!  Wonders never cease.

Anyway, this time out I am joined by Stephen Lacey (of Fantasticast fame) to finish some business we started a few years ago.  Way back in episode 191 of this show, Stephen and I talked about Forever Evil in specific and the New 52 version of Justice League in general.  Now we finish that conversation by discussing the final three story lines of Geoff Johns’ run on Justice League.

We begin with the stories packaged in Vol. 6 of the trade paperbacks.  Injustice League continues from where Forever Evil left off with Lex Luthor joining the Justice League whether they like it or not.  We see the early days of Jessica Cruz, Lex confronting Bruce Wayne with the fact that he’s Batman and a zombie outbreak that ended up being really good.  Then, Stephen and I get into Darkseid War by looking at the two trades that collected that story and the trade collecting nearly all of the one shot specials that served as the mid-point of this epic as well as being a pretty decent cash grab.

Keep an ear out for the point in the show where I make a pretty big mistake and leave it in because that’s how I roll.

Special thanks to Stephen for coming back to the show.  We had a lot of fun discussing these comics.

Next Time: Andy Leyland joins me to do a state of the union of our comic collecting.

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I QUIT or MY THOUGHTS ON DC AND BENDIS TAKING AWAY CLARK KENT AS A SECRET IDENTITY

Back in 2010 I stopped collecting the Superman titles.  I think it was around August or so. I’m sure if I scoured Facebook I could find the exact date, but it really doesn’t matter.  I went from buying all of the various Superman titles to buying none of the various Superman titles.  

The reason was simple; I wasn’t enjoying the books.  I could go into the laundry list of reasons, but that would just bog this down even further, but I will mention the main reason, which was I just wasn’t enjoying the books like I used to.  DC went in a direction that I didn’t like and I was tired of hating everything I read, so I felt it was better for everyone if I just walked away.

It wasn’t easy.  I started buying the Superman books in 1987 and by 1996 I was getting everything associated with Superman on a monthly basis.  It was part of my identity. To a certain extent it defined me. I even had a running gag to explain why I bought stuff that might have been of less than stellar quality; I would say that I had signed a contract to be a Superman fan.  

Why did you buy all of those Elseworlds specials in the late nineties?  It was in the contract.

Why are you still collecting the books when they aren’t as good as they used to be?  It was in the contract.  

Superboy just isn’t a good title anymore, but I “signed the contract”.

The truth was I bought them because I wanted to.  There was a bit of feeling like I had to and when I did consider dropping the books it became a tug of war between stopping and keeping up with the collection.  This is something a certain contingent of fans deals with from time to time. I have such a long run. Why break that now?

From a thousand foot view it seems silly.  From the ground level, it feels very real.

When I walked away in 2010 it was hard.  Ultimately it proved to be beneficial on an emotional level.  I was spending all of my time being angry at this hobby that I supposedly loved and that wasn’t healthy.  I realized in my time away that my real problem was DC had moved away from what I considered to be “my” Superman.  I use quotes because the phrase “my Superman” or “my Batman” can be weaponized to justify terrible behavior. “That’s not ‘my Batman’, so I can call you names or worse because you disagree with me.”  Still, there was an era of Superman that I felt at home in, that defined my views of the character, and that I was a part of and that era had ended. It was freeing in a way. I came to terms that things end and had a better appreciation for the generation before me that left when John Byrne’s Man of Steel hit the stands.  Suddenly, I was in their shoes and understood where they were coming from.

Part of me wishes that I would have come to that conclusion earlier or through actual enlightenment.  I kind of feel bad that I had to go through their struggle it to know what the other side went through, but there I was.

When DC started promoting the release of Action Comics #900, I started to have second thoughts.  I kind of felt like Dallas towards the end of the movie The Outsiders (based on the S.E. Hinton novel, not the DC comic); there was no way they were going to have an anniversary issue of Action without me.  Not as dramatic as Dallas and his rumbles, but the theory held. I was there for 600, 700, and 800, so it only felt right to be there for 900. So, I came back.  I started getting the books I missed and catching up on Black Ring and Grounded and the Reign of the Doomsday stories. It was nice to once again be buying the books, but I told myself that the decision to come back was mine and that if I started to not like the books that I knew where the door was.

And then DC dropped The New 52 on us.

My timing with these things has always been spectacular.

The New 52 was a bad time for Superman.  Despite the occasional bouts of good writing and/or art it seemed like DC just didn’t know what to do with Superman.  Their idea to make him younger and edgier did not translate into better sales or a consistent audience and over a four year period they stripped more and more away from the character until finally they took away the Clark Kent identity and de-powered him for nearly a year.  You would have thought that this was the moment that would have made me walk away but, for some reason, I didn’t.  

I can’t explain why.  I was thinking about it and there would be months where I wouldn’t read an issue I wasn’t reviewing for The Superman Homepage, but right around the time I was thinking of leaving the books DC announced Rebirth and that the dynamic of Superman and Lois being married again was coming back.

It was glorious.

Rebirth was the opposite of The New 52.  Over the course of a year DC brought back everything I loved about the character.  Dan Jurgens and Peter Tomasi were producing four amazing books a month between the two of them.  It wasn’t exactly “my” Superman, but it was close enough that I was satisfied. 

I was so satisfied that when it was announced that Brian Michael Bendis was going to take over the writing of both Superman and Action Comics I was legitimately excited.  He was saying all the right things in the interviews. He was talking about how important Clark Kent was as a character. He was glowing in his praise of Lois. This seemed like a good fit.

And, for the most part, I liked what he was doing.  He aged up Jon, which was a little weird but I actually was behind the change because, while I liked the character I also saw the pitfalls of keeping him young.  Lois was kept away for awhile, but the explanation for why worked for me. It was all going so well.

Until it was announced that DC was once again getting rid of the Clark Kent as the secret identity for Superman.

At first I was annoyed, but decided to keep my cool until I read the New York Times article where Bendis went into why this was happening.  “On some level, this is what DC brought me here for,” he is quoted as saying. After reading that I had several very strong and angry thoughts all at once.

Thought #1: I was lied to.

Thought #2: DC brought Bendis to undo just about everything that had been done during Rebirth.

Thought #3: I WAS LIED TO.

I’ll go into Thought #2 first since Thoughts 1 and 3 are the same.  Looking back at Bendis’ run thus far, it suddenly feels like the best parts of Rebirth (the return of Clark Kent as Superman’s secret identity, Jonathan Kent as he and Lois’ son, and the marriage) were all being systematically undone.

Jon was aged and is now a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.  That might be good for the Legion and the issues dealing with his aging were enjoyable, but it takes him off the table in the present.  While Lois and Clark will probably miss him, he’s not going to be part of the ongoing continuity. All of the stories of Clark and Lois raising their super powered son are no longer a thing.  At first I was onboard with the aging, but now that it was all a plot to get him to the future makes me feel like I was duped.

The marriage?  It’s still there, but Lois was away for a few issues and when she came back Bendis had her living in her own place.  They were still married, but it seems like Superman spent most of the Bendis issues away from Lois. Lois being one of the driving forces of Event: Leviathan was great, but she wasn’t much of a presence in Superman, so it suddenly felt like Bendis was trying to have his cake and eat it too.  They were still married, but they didn’t seem to be as much of a team as they were in Superman: Lois and Clark and the Rebirth issues.

And now Clark Kent as the secret identity is being taken away.  

“On some level, this is what DC brought me here for.”   

I have no proof of this and I could be wrong, but it now seems like when the Powers That Be at DC knew Bendis wanted to write Superman that they used that as their chance to once again strip Superman of the Clark Kent identity and all of the lip service Bendis gave to the character was just a smoke screen.

Do the Powers That Be at DC have something against Superman?  Maybe. It sure feels like it most of the time, but, again, I have no proof, so it remains a theory and nothing more.

Which leads me to Thoughts 1 and 3.

I was lied to.

At least, that’s how it feels.  DC didn’t have the guts to undo Clark Kent again right away.  Oh no. They let us think that it was still going to be a thing for a year and then hit us with this paradigm shift and because Bendis is behind it, we should be happy for it.  It feels like I’m talking about some vast conspiracy.  I’m probably wrong. But this feels like a huge slap in the face.  I defended Bendis again and again. I told people he liked Clark Kent, so he wasn’t going to pull a Daredevil and out Superman to the world.

And yet…here we are.

So, I’m done.  I’m dropping the titles.  I’m doing what I told myself I would do if I didn’t like what was happening in the books.  I know where the door is and I am going to use it. As of this moment I am no longer buying Superman or Action.  If DC publishes a Superman book that has what I want, I’ll buy it. If they issue a trade or omnibus from an era I like, I’ll buy it, but until Clark Kent is back as the secret identity in a meaningful way, I’m out as far as the regular titles are concerned.

It’s been a great three plus years of reading Superman.  It was a good run. I guess it had to end at some point. I hope that those that are enjoying the current run and don’t have the same feeling as I do continue to read and enjoy the comics. I am not calling for a boycott.  I’m not asking anyone to join me. I’m not here to yuk someone else’s yum.  

I’m also not quitting Superman.  He remains my favorite character.  I have hundreds, if not thousands, of stories that I haven’t read yet and I always have the books that I loved.  They aren’t going anywhere. I’ll continue to podcast about the Man of Steel and his world. I just can’t support a regime that isn’t giving me what I want to read.  I don’t owe them anything. It’s not in me anymore. I’m not so invested in the current DCU that I feel like I have to stay and I’m not going to support people that told me one thing and then, a year later, did the opposite. 

This doesn’t make me less of a Superman fan.  It just means I am a more discerning one. 

I’m just done.  

If you feel the same way, you can join me.  If you don’t, then don’t. But this is what I’m doing.

And I feel pretty good about it.

Posted in Editorials | 12 Comments

R.I.P. BILL SCHELLY

Back in the early 2000’s I was shopping at Oxford Comics in Atlanta, GA and stumbled across a copy of a book titled The Golden Age of Comic Book Fandom.  Oxford had a great selection of non-fiction books about comics, but this one stood out.  I finished reading The Comic Book Book and All In Color For a Dime, which collected articles and essays from the early days of comic book fandom, and was eager to learn more about the era those articles and essays were written in.  Here was a history of those early days, so it seemed like the thing to buy.  I devoured the book in a day or so and was fascinated by the stories of my cultural ancestors.  See, I am one of those people that believes in knowing where you came from.  I considered myself a “serious” comic book fan with an interest in the history of the medium and that history extended to the fans that actually started this whole fandom thing.

The book was written by a man named Bill Schelly.  On a subsequent trip to Oxford I picked up another book by Bill called The Comic Fandom Reader, which contained samplings of stories and articles from comic book fanzines of the 1960’s.  It was another fantastic read and even though the bits of business printed in The Comic Fandom Reader weren’t all written by Bill, his name stuck in my mind.  This is why sometime in 2001 I was excited to see a solicitation for a book written by Bill called Sense of Wonder: A Life in Comic Book Fandom.  I ordered it and when it arrived eagerly read the whole book in a day.

It was (and is) a fantastic book.  Bill talked about his family and growing up in the sixties and becoming a comic book fan.  Through his writing I felt connected to Bill, especially since we had something in common; we both started seriously collecting comics because of Superman.  The book also detailed how he became involved in the comic book fandom of the 1960’s and the fanzines he produced.  I had recently started this website called Views From The Longbox, where I wrote essays similar to those I read in The Comic Book Book, so I felt like I was a kind of descendant of Bill and the other men and women that channeled their love of comics into articles, essays, and comic strips that they then made copies of and sent to like minded people.

Flash forward to 2016.  By this point I have nearly a decade of podcasting under my belt and one of the shows I was part of was called Radio K.A.L. Live, which was part of The Superman Homepage.  Steve Younis, the webmaster of The Homepage, messaged me that we were going to be doing another interview, this time with a man named Bill Schelly.  I think my reaction was, “REALLY?  We’re going to interview Bill Schelly?”  I was so excited.  Here was my chance to talk to a man that I respected.  A man that, as I previously alluded to, felt was one of my fore bearers in discussing comic books.

The interview went great and I connected with Bill on Facebook and two years later interviewed him on Views From The Longbox about a new edition of Sense of Wonder.  He had recently updated and expanded the book and was making the rounds of comic book websites and podcasts to promote it and I was lucky enough to be one of them.  He sent me a preview copy and right before the interview I read it.  The first edition ended with Bill in his early twenties.  This edition expanded on the previous chapters and then went forward through Bill’s life.  I learned about the comic shop he briefly co-owned, his life as a gay man in the late seventies and early eighties, the birth of his children, and more.

The interview (more of a conversation really) went very well.  We had a good rapport in the first interview for Radio K.A.L. Live and at the end Bill said it was nice to have a new friend in comics fandom.  I was hoping one day to meet the man face to face and shake hands with him.

Sadly, I’ll never get that chance.

I am glad I was able to interview him on two occasions and tell him how much his books meant to me.  History is important.  I am part of a community that discusses comic books and other pop culture nonsense through audio and video and occasionally in print.  We don’t agree about everything, but we’re all connected and through this community I have made friends literally all over the world.  Bill Schelly was part of the dawn of that community.  He was there when you communicated through snail mail, over the phone, and at conventions.  He created his fanzines before the advent of desktop publishing and when making copies was a laborious and often messy process.  He was part of a group that built the foundations of what we take part in today and he continued to write books about the giants of the comic book world.

It’s up to us to continue that legacy.

Rest in peace, Bill.  Thanks for calling me your friend.

If you are interested in reading the books I mentioned above as well as Bill’s other works, click on this link.  There isn’t a bad book in the bunch.

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FOB SHOWCASE PRESENTS – MIKE AND RACHEL VS MARVEL PHASE 3 PART 4

Mike and Rachel vs Marvel Phase 3 Part 4 – Spider-Man: Homecoming

Welcome to the fourth installment of a Fortress of Baileytude Showcase Presents mini-series… Mike and Rachel vs Marvel Phase 3!  The premise of this series was simple; Mike and his wife Rachel watch one of the Marvel Phase 3 films and then talk/argue about them.  This is all a part of the Fortress’ desire to catch a few new listeners based on the upcoming release of Avengers: Infinity War.

At least that was the theory.  Then real life got in the way.  But the recordings are still there, so I can release them whenever.

Like when a new Spider-Man film comes out.

This time out Mike and Rachel discuss Spider-Man: Homecoming and as opposed to the previous episode where things were wrapped up in a little over twenty minutes this one run well over an hour.

Apparently the Baileys had some things to say about this one.

One of those things was Iron Man’s involvement in the movie.  Mike has a very particular opinion about this and goes into detail about why he didn’t have a problem with it.  Rachel liked the movie but had some quibbles and most of those issues had to do with Peter jet setting around the world with little to no repercussions.  There’s also a discussion about how the movie Spider-Man came to be compared to his comic book roots and why certain problems people had with this film don’t matter in the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The Baileys also gush over Michael Keaton’s performance.  Because it was awesome.

And there is a discussion involving self-love towards the end.  Heads up.

You can subscribe to the show in two ways. First there is the RSS Feed and there is also the iTunes link. Are you on Facebook? Be sure to “like” the official Fortress page, which you can find by clicking on this link.

You can email the show by clicking this link. All questions, concerns, fears, trepidations and cheap shots are welcome.  Also be sure to give us a review over on iTunes and feel free to comment on the show here at the site!

Next Time: Thor: Ragnarok.  When I get to editing it.

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