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Our Top 9 Podcasts of 2012

Through the use of highly scientific calculations (a.k.a. vague podPress statistics), we here at the AudioShocker are proud to present a curated selection of our most popular podcasts of the past 12 months!

Here's how our stats work: podPress ranks our mp3s by Feeds (how many listens we got via RSS), Downloads (people who saved the files to their computers), and Plays (listeners who streamed our podcasts from our site). It looks like this:

So when you see the number in bold next to an episode on this list, it's a combination of all three factors. And, to be totally fair, the fact that only some of our podcasts get posted to the Comics Podcast Network and the Comic Related Podcasting Network means that our stats are skewed towards podcasts about comics.

And (final disclaimer!) this isn't simply a list of our most listened episodes. It's a list of our most listened episodes from each of our seven series. But first...

Honorable Mention! - A Podcast with Ross and Nick #120

While this wasn't one of the most listened of 2012, it was the most commented! Kelly Thompson joined Ross Campbell and I to discuss a fascinating question: what do creators owe fans? Our debate spilled over into the comments section and finally stopped with 50 posts from hosts and listeners alike. Thanks to all of you who joined in on the discussion!

9. AFI 100 Years 100 Movies Podcast #19 - 333

A common theme you'll notice on this list is that episodes from early in 2012 tend to be most listened. That's because they've been out the longest! Our most popular episode of the AFI 100 Movies Podcast featured some brisk conversation between Conrad and I as we discussed West Side Story and North by Northwest.

8. HyperComboCast #26 - 336

Kenny landed a K.O. with this solo episode of HyperComboCast. He dropped fighting games knowledge and teased topics for upcoming 2012 episodes. Also, he drank some Courvoisier.

7. Gello Shots #4 - 369

This year, Shawn Atkins launched Gello Shots, a new podcast series focused on his webcomic Gello Apocalypse. In this episode, I played Ed McMahon while Shawn gabbed about his latest Gello story and reviewed The Zombie Hunters webcomic.

6. Destruct-O-Cast #7 - 531

2012 also saw the debut of the Destruct-O-Cast, a series going behind-the-scenes of my superhero satire webcomic, Super Haters. The most popular podcast was an oddball installment featuring a very sleepy yours truly giving a confused explanation of the quasi-conspiracy theory that inspired my Fast Cash story.

5. AudioShocker Podcast #211 - 548

Ironically, our 2011 recap was the most listened AudioShocker Podcast episode of 2012! Justique, Neal, and I delivered YOU DON'T SUCK Awards in the categories of movies, TV, watch instantly, music, comics, and podcasts. Soon we'll be gearing up for our next awards podcast, so keep an ear out for that in early 2013.

4. Sequential Underground #38 - 555

Our second most popular Sequential Underground episode focused on the first ToonSeum Minicon, a Pittsburgh comics event organized by Juan José Fernández in April 2012. Dan Greenwald, Shawn, and I teamed up with Juan to promote the con and get people psyched for the two day par-tay. Did it work? Turnout was awesome! Wanna see proof? Pics of the event are here.

3. Sequential Underground #36 - 575

Our most listened episode of SU centered around acting locally and taking advantage of what your comics community has to offer. Dan, Shawn, and I welcomed our friend Virginia Shields to the show. She shared her experiences about creating Pittsburgh-focused comics and dipping her toes into the Steel City's comics scene.

2. HyperComboCast #39 - 606

Our fighting games podcast logged a high score this past April when my cousin and I reviewed Justice League Task Force, a cheesy forgotten 90s console release.

1. A Podcast with Ross and Nick #140 - 677

Our most popular podcast of the year was an 2012 NYCC recap featuring guest Heather Nunnelly. Ross, Heather, and I covered everything from show floor experiences to what we did once the con closed up shop each night. All in all, I think this was a pretty deserving top episode of 2012!

The Top 9 Time-Traveling Superheroes

Time travel is big business again. The kids who grew up on Bill & Ted and Back to the Future are now cash-carrying adult consumers, making Looper over $65 million in less than two months.

Superheroes are no exception to this time travel resurgence. In the past few years, time travel comics have had a bit of a renaissance, from Johns and Jurgens's Booster Gold to Duane Swierczynski's Cable...

...and Time Log right here on the AudioShocker! (no superheroes in it, though)

Most recently, time travel superheroics leveled up and became the primary focus of the revamped X-Men publishing slate with All-New X-Men... no doubt inspired by FOX's upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past film, set to drop in 2014.

But regardless of the current fad, if you're a die-hard superhero comics fan then the phrase time travel conjures to mind a specific set of characters who're notorious for their chronology-defying exploits.

9. Shard

Who in the fuck names their kid Shard?!? Apparently somebody interred in a mutant concentration camp in the mid 21st century, that's who. Shard grew up with her older brother Lucas (see #3 on this list!) and became an officer in Xavier's Security Enforcers. Then, uhhhhh, things get confusing. She was killed in the future but somehow brought back to life as a hologram in the present? I don't get it.

But what I did get back in the 90s was X-Factor by Howard Mackie and Jeff Matsuda, featuring a holographic time-traveling Shard as a team member. She had a thing for Wild Child, which was weird and kinda gross and especially kinky considering that she wasn't made of flesh or even solid.

Read about Shard's earliest years in The Life and Times of Lucas Bishop section of the awkwardly named X-Force/Cable: Messiah War collection.

8. Waverider

I dunno who this guy is. But he looks pretty cool, right? Wikipedia told me that he's a time traveler dude from DC Comics and that his powers allow him to time travel.

Seeing as how most of the time traveling characters on this list are 1. X-Men and 2. not able to time travel without some kind of technology, I figured that Waverider would be a good inclusion since he actually has time travel superpowers.

Waverider shows up in Time Masters: Vanishing Point miniseries. What does he do in it? I have no fucking clue.

7. Deathlok

I'm a little bit hazy on the details of Deathlok, mostly because I've only read random issues here and there. But I know enough to say that the original Deathlok was a post-apocalyptic anti-hero in the year 1990.

However, that was just the original version. See, there have been a shitload of Deathloks. Frankly, I can't keep up with all of the different iterations. Sometimes Deathlok is a cyborg, sometimes it's a virus, and sometimes it's America's most trusted brand of padlock. (Errrrr, wait... no, it's never that last one.)

Anyway, Deathlok was pretty much the first gun-toting cyborg anti-hero fighting for humanity in post-apocalyptic America, which is cool.

Read Deathlok's earliest adventures in Marvel Masterworks: Deathlok v1.

6. Rip Hunter

Speaking of being the first, I'm pretty sure Rip Hunter was the first time traveling comic book hero. Not the first character to time travel but rather the first recurring hero who's entire schtick is that he's a time traveler.

Anyway, he's become a bit more of a proper superhero since Dan Jurgens revitalized him over the past decade. I'm not gonna play like I actually know much about his adventures, because I don't. But I know he exists!

Regardless of my ignorance, you gotta check out some of these campy silver age Rip Hunter comic book covers. Those covers alone land him a spot on this list.

Own an old school dose of the original Time Master by picking up a copy of Showcase Presents: Rip Hunter, Time Master v1.

5. Rachel Summers

Soooooooo Rachel first appeared in Days of Future Past, the titular X-Men post-apocalypse story. But it was an incomplete appearance because the character that exists today is sort of a retcon of that initial character.

Lemme try and make some sense out of this for you -- Rachel's the daughter of Scott and Jean from an alternate timeline. She's gone back in time AND jumped dimensions to join the X-Men in the mainstream Marvel Universe. During the mid 80s, she was known as Phoenix and literally bonded with the Phoenix Force.

There's a lot more to it than that, to be honest. Rachel's shit is very complex. But the basic thing to know is that she was a "Hound" or a mutant used to hunt other mutants in her timeline.

I have no fucking clue how she made it into the 616 Universe, but she did. After serving as an X-Man during the Magneto era, she kicked it with Excalibur and the Nu Starjammers (led by her uncle, Havok). And now she's back with the X-Men proper and known as Marvel Girl.

Read Rachel's adventures as Phoenix in the X-cellent Essential X-Men v6.

4. Kang

Okay, so he's not a superhero. Or maybe he is. Ugghh I CAN'T DECIDE!! The thing about Kang the Conqueror is that throughout his long, long life, he's managed to occupy just about every position along the spectrum of good and evil.

Yeah, he's one of the greatest foes of the Avengers as Kang. But he was also an amazing hero as Iron Lad. Plus, he was Scarlet Centurion, Immortus, Rama-Tut, and more. Kang might be the most famous identity of Nathaniel Richards, but Kang is just one of his identities among many others.

In fact, the only consistent thing about Nate Richards is that he's a master of time travel. Whether he's good or bad or somewhere in between, chances are that he's doing something crazy with time. Rip Hunter may call himself a Time Master, but Kang is literally the master of his own timeline and many more!!

Early next year, Marvel will release Avengers: The Once and Future Kang. In the meantime, you can check out Kang's first battle against Earth's Mightiest Heroes in Essential Avengers v1.

3. Bishop

Lucas Bishop resides at the intersection of trendy cliche and inspired post-modern storytelling device. He appeared at the height of the long-haired anti-hero craze. But despite his giant guns and flowing curls, Bishop was an evolution of the ominous time traveler persona that was introduced with Deathlok and The Terminator, and later popularized in comics by Cable.

Bishop hails from the latter half of the 21st century. He traveled through time to stop Trevor Fitzroy, his former co-worker and Shard's boyfriend. Fitzroy was, I dunno, trying to do something bad. I fucking forget what the deal was... but Bishop had a hard on to stop him!

What makes Bishop so great is that he comes bearing ominous warnings from the future. He speaks of The Witness and an X-Traitor (both potentially Gambit), and his relatives may or may not be Storm and Gateway. His background is a fun mix of mystery and character hints that give him a confusing and suspenseful presence. All-in-all, Bishop is my favorite time traveling superhero on this list.

Read Bishop's uncanny debut in the X-Men: Bishop's Crossing hardcover.

2. Booster Gold

If you haven't already noticed, I don't know much about time travel in the DC Universe. In fact, I don't know much about superhero time travel outside of the X-Books. But I'm aware of Booster Gold, enough to know that he's an important character on this list and he's the focal point of time travel in modern DC Comics.

While characters like Marvel Girl and Bishop represent the grim The Terminator vision of time travel, Booster Gold stories tend to rep a lighter view of the future, akin to the playfulness of Back to the Future.

Gold himself is a future celebrity, a star quarterback that was busted for throwing games. As an extension of that mischievousness, "Buster" is often portrayed as a money-hungry glory hound, something uncommon for most DC superheroes.

I dunno what else to say really except that he's popular among fans and had a pretty successful run of stories pre-New 52. He was traipsing around with Rip Hunter and doing multiverse and time stuff for a while. Uhhhhhhhhhhh and he's also in a bromance with Blue Beetle. And he was a part of the BWAHAHA Justice League. So, yeah, he's a popular time-traveling superhero. There ya go.

Showcase Presents: Booster Gold v1 is the best place to start learning about Michael Jon Carter and his computerized companion, Skeets. (Yes, his nickname is Buster and he has a robot named Skeets.)

1. Cable

OKAY! Finally we make it to the biggie. The numero uno time traveling superhero... none other than Nathan Dayspring Askani'son Summers!!

Cable is great because he represents more than just time travel in comics. He represents the insanity of a shared universe and the tension generated by creative egos in a corporate storytelling environment. Created by Rob Liefeld, Cable was touched by many others over the ensuing decades that followed. Now he's a veritable IP powerhouse of a character, reaching beyond comics and becoming notorious in other mediums, most notably video games like Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

But it all began as a confusing and ambiguous crashlanding into an X-spinoff, New Mutants. In short order, Cable (and Liefeld) sold millions of comics and helped revolutionize comic book storytelling in the early 90s with X-Force. The character symbolizes both the unlimited imagination of superhero tales and the awful, mindless tropes that often bog down stories featuring time-traveling characters.

He wasn't intended to become linked into the massive Summers family from the X-Books. But that's what happened as the months and years passed. And so the sick baby that was sent into the future in X-Factor was revealed to be the hulked out, gun-toting grumpus with scars and cybernetics. These qualities are, of course, staples of the genre now... and Cable's the reason why. (Wanna learn more about how to create a character like this? Check out my rules for "How to create a superhero from the post-apocalyptic future"!!)

So, yeah, Cable travels back in time to the 20th century and proceeds to fuck shit up for the X-Men. It's pretty rad how it all goes down. Now that doesn't mean I love all Cable stories. Like I mentioned earlier, I prefer Bishop. But Cable takes the cake for being both individualistically iconic and a campy cliche at the same time. BRILLIANT!!

You can experience old school big guns and grimaces in Cable Classic v1 or witness the carnage of Cable's recent tangle with Earth's Mightiest Heroes in Avengers: X-Sanction.

Yes, Cable, you are the hardest.

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Want Your Comics Reviewed? Don't Do Dumb Shit.

If you're trying to get your comic book reviewed on a podcast or blog like the AudioShocker, lemme give you a few tips...

1. I know you're sending out review requests to a lot of different people. And I understand that you're probably copying and pasting your message to get the job done faster. But would it kill you to at least make it look like I'm not receiving an impersonal form letter?

2. If you're using Gmail, you should know that it has ways of showing me that you've sent this text to other people before. It does things to forwarded and/or copied text. What you need to do is paste that text into a plain text editor and then copy it into a fresh email. Otherwise, it'll look something like this:

3. Did you even check to see if we review comics? Just because we talk about 'em doesn't mean we review 'em. Here on the AudioShocker, we'll occasionally spotlight comics that we really enjoy, but we haven't done proper comic book or graphic novel reviews in a loooooong time. Take a few minutes to browse the website that you want to contact before you assume that they'll be receptive to your review request.

4. Using phrases like "we follow your site or magazine or have heard that you are extremely reputable people with great sites and fan bases" are bogus!! C'MON! Take 20 seconds and replace that text with "we follow the AudioShocker" instead.

5. If you insist on sending me a form letter or some other kind of generic email, why even waste time complimenting what I do? I mean, how am I supposed to actually believe you like what I do if there's nothing specific in your email that acknowledges the content I create?

6. Don't email me over and over. Send it once. If you don't hear back, email me again in a few months. And don't assume that I remember the first email you sent! If I don't write you back, it's nothing personal. Sometimes I get busy working on multiple projects and maintaining my website. Covering your book or webcomic might not be at the top of my list. Sorry!

7. For the love of god, please fucking proofread your emails! I can guarantee you that "questoon" isn't a word and it makes you look kinda stupid.

8. Why email me at all without mentioning the name of your project? Please don't make me do a web search to learn the name of the comic you want me to check out.

9. Finally, if you fail to personalize your message in anyway whatsoever, then it's a damn sure bet that you haven't researched our website. If you can't be bothered to take a few minutes to personalize your email, why should I take the time to read and review your comics?

I feel like this stuff is common sense, but the vast majority of review requests that we receive here at the AudioShocker do this kind of shit!

Click here to visit the AudioShocker Store!

9 Ridiculous Action Comics Covers

These Action Comics covers from 1968-1977 showcase Superman at his weirdest, encountering all manner of ludicrous situations while attempting to go about his usual business of being the world's greatest superhero.

Action Comics #359

Why even go through with this mockery of a trial? Superman would just bend the goddamn jail bars and walk out if he was convicted.

Action Comics #374

There are so many great things about this cover. First off, why even wear the fucking mask? It looks exactly like Superman only his hair is slicked back and he's got a scar on his face. Second, what could Supes have done between the last issue and this issue that made him Public Enemy no. 1? And most importantly, why is he addicted to the mask???

Action Comics #397

At first glance, there's the obvious "Superman in the closet" joke. But upon closer inspection, there's so much more. Why is closet Superman a robot? There's another Superman on the floor... two robots?!?? And "Jimmy's a big wheel"? What the fuck does that even mean? Has he literally turned into a Big Wheel???

Of course, that all goes without mentioning the "Wheel-Chair Superman" of the future, who continues to wear his costume (along with the cape) despite the fact that he's confined to a wheelchair.

Action Comics #418

Superman gang bang?

Action Comics #434

Hahaha a toothpulling so bad that the nurse has to avert her eyes?? Plus, that dentist totally looks like a supervillain. That would be a hilarious new arch-nemesis for Supes... THE EXTRACTOR!

Action Comics #438

Monster Lois would also be a sweet new supervillain. "Once his most passionate lover... now his most monstrous enemy!"

Action Comics #453

Again with the rubber masks?!?! Also, I like how you know faux-Superman is a really, really bad dude just because he has stubble.

Action Comics #457

This classic leaves me with two questions: 1) Is this pre- or post-coitus? 2) If the answer to #1 is post-coitus, then are those tears or something else???

Action Comics #477

Those robots... are they making Superman really obese? Is that their goal -- super-fat Superman? Also, why in the fuck do they wanna become the "Land-Lords of Earth"?? Are they planning some type of insidious galactic rent scam??? Seems like a shitty reason to conquer a planet.

Sadly, I can't find reprints of any of the following comic books. However, Superman in the Seventies does reprint stories from this era. Same goes for Superman: From the Thirties to the Seventies. Finally, there's a chance a few of these covers made it into Mark Waid's The Silver Age of Superman: The Greatest Covers of Action Comics from the '50s to the '70s.

The Top 9 Havok Costumes

Havok is slated to return to the Marvel Comics superhero spotlight in Uncanny Avengers. In honor of the occasion, artist John Cassaday redesigned his costume.

Being the Havok mega-fan that I am, I decided to draft this epic list ranking Havok's previous costumes from worst to best... with cheeky commentary!

Note: I originally wanted this to be "The Top 9 Havok Stories" but I couldn't do it! Alex Summers is too much of an ensemble character to easily pick nine defining storylines. So you're getting this costume countdown instead.

9. The Fugly Super-Armor

This hideous navy blue suit debuted in Uncanny X-Men #423. Look, I love Ron Garney's art. The guy's a beast when it comes to storytelling. But this thing is @#$%ing ugly!! It got even worse when Philip Tan jumped on the series a couple of issues later and added a ludicrous amount of detail to the shoulder pads.

If you're feeling brave, you can read the first appearance of the super-armor in Uncanny X-Men v3: Holy War.

8. Prelate Summers a.k.a. 101 Pouches and a Headset

The Age of Apocalypse was kind to some, but not to all. This 90s-tastic outfit is ripped from the pages of Factor X #1 by Steve Epting. If ya ask me, I think Roger Cruz had a better interpretation of it in the X-Men: Alpha one-shot.

There are a @#$%load of different AoA collections featuring Havok as Prelate Summers. Personally, I think your best bet is either the Age of Apocalypse Omnibus or the Factor X Gold Edition.

7. Tron 1.0

Fans have taken to calling Havok's mid to late 00s look the "Tron costume" and rightly so. Salvador Larroca's redesign debuted in the pages of 2005's X-Men #166. While Havok's return to the head sock was a step in the right direction following the super-armor eye sore, it's still too unnecessarily detailed for me.

You can read the spooky adventures of this costume in X-Men: Golgotha.

6. Mutant X

In the late 90s, Marvel gave Havok his own solo title called Mutant X. It was a fun comic book series that took place in an alternate universe where Havok led a team of former X-Men known as The Six. While I'm not crazy about the navy blue color, I do think Tom Raney's alternate reality redesign is pretty damn snappy!

Sadly, Mutant X has never been collected. You can learn more about it here.

5. Tron 2.0

Billy Tan updated Larroca's electric bodysuit in Uncanny X-Men #475. He simplified the glowing lines and stripped off the metal attachments just in time for Havok to head into outer space.

Get the full story in Uncanny X-Men: Rise & Fall of the Shi'ar Empire.

4. Magistrate Summers a.k.a. the Birth of the Head Sock

Jim Lee first drew Alex Summers as a Genoshian Magistrate in the X-Tinction Agenda crossover. And it was this cover to Uncanny X-Men #270 that completely captured my imagination as a child:

Why is Havok dragging Storm around by her shirt? How is he able to punch the X-Men logo? And where did he get those sweet cargo pants? Get answers to these questions and more in the X-Tinction Agenda collection or Essential X-Men v10.

3. The Government Stooge a.k.a. Head Sock 4ever

In 1991, Peter David put Havok in charge of a government-sanctioned X-Factor team of mutant heroes. The sensational Larry Stroman carried over Jim Lee's head sock and fitted Havok with a fresh blue jacket that seemed to constantly add and subtract chunks of yellow from the shoulders on every other page.

A couple of years later, a young Joe Quesada took over the series and continued Havok's trend of making angry faces while managing to only zip the very bottom of his wonderfully padded super-coat.

You can read Larry's Havok in X-Factor Visionaries: Peter David v1 and Joe's Havok in X-Factor Visionaries: Peter David v4.

2. Alex Summers: Mutant Terrorist

Before he became the chief character designer for Jackie Chan Adventures and The Batman, Jeff Matsuda cut his teeth on a relatively obscure run of X-Factor issues in the mid to late 90s. In #125, Havok went from insecure superhero to brainwashed supervillain, gaining a cool new black costume and some big red gauntlets.

Like Mutant X, this era of Havok's adventures has never been collected.

1. Nothing Beats Old School

Neal Adams introduced Havok to the world in X-Men #58. This new superhero identity was bestowed upon Alex Summers -- the long-lost baby brother of the X-Men's Cyclops -- who had debuted only five issues earlier.

With Havok, Adams introduced one of the most stunning and unusual superhero costumes of all time. And to make matters more interesting, the walking silhouette known as Havok possessed an unforgettable power signature.

When discharged, Havok's energy blasts turned his his pitch black bodysuit into bright white as overlapping concentric circles were released from his hands:

Frankly, I don't think there's a more visually compelling superhero design than Havok's original look. It's a testament to Neal's groundbreaking costume that it lasted for over 20 years without a single alteration!

You can read the debut of Havok in Essential Classic X-Men v3 or Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men v6.

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