Funnybook Babylon

September 29, 2009

FBBP #114 – Martha Shrugged

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 8:55 pm

This month, Dark Horse Comics released The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century, a behemoth six hundred page hardcover so balling only Pedro could fathom purchasing it.

So instead, we just read 1990’s Give Me Liberty, the four issue series that introduced Martha. This was one of the first projects Miller and Gibbons each worked on after their era-defining works on The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen respectively, and like those works, it has a uniquely Reagan/Thatcher Era vision of a bleak near future. The secret ingredient this time? Ayn Rand!

September 24, 2009

FBB Swipe File: Hey, Legends Comics & Books from Victoria, B.C.!

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , — David Uzumeri @ 2:40 pm

From this week’s Incredible Hulk #602, by Greg Pak and Ariel Olivetti:

Incredible Hulk #602

Incredible Hulk #602

versus

Legends Comics & Books

Legends Comics & Books

You know, if they just had Greg Land doing Ariel Olivetti’s backgrounds and Olivetti doing Land’s, at least then we’d get one readable comic and one hilariously horrific piece of shit rather than two painful comics.

September 23, 2009

FBBP #113 – The Trouble with Norman

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 8:00 am

With Dark Reign entering a new phase with the release of the first Dark Reign: The List one-shots, the gang looks at Marvel’s recent experiments with telling One Big Story, from Civil War to today. Of special interest in Norman Osborn: is he the Green Goblin, Super-Cheney, or the second coming of Hitler? Marvel’s stable of writers seem to hold different opinions, and we explore them all.

September 22, 2009

Pull List Reviews for September 16th

Daredevil: The ListDark Reign: The List – Daredevil
by Andy Diggle & Billy Tan

Bad art can ruin even the best of stories, but lesser known is its ability to obscure mediocre writing. Billy Tan’s art in this issue is bad: it’s static during action sequences featuring ninjas, masked superhero gymnastics and government agents rappelling from the roof. Tan’s talking sequences fail to display any emotion besides tension. As a result, at first glance, this art is terrible enough to hide a weak effort from Andy Diggle.

I wish Diggle had exercised some restraint here since the book’s “everything is rotten from the core” vibe already wears out its welcome by the time the corrupt judge shows up six pages in. When we finally see Norman Osborn, he is exhaling pure evil. It’s not as if Daredevil hasn’t tangled with some sinister dudes before, but the moral conflicts and ethical backsliding that had been the bedrock of Bendis and Brubaker’s Daredevil runs begin to feel less complex when Murdock is trying to take down the next Hitler.

Diggle’s overplaying of the systemic corruption moves Daredevil from a troubled man trying to straighten up a clan of killer evil ninjas to the leader of a band of freedom fighters. Regardless of if Murdock succeeds here, his goal becomes noble enough to the reader that he will be redeemed in their eyes. This isn’t Diggle’s intent and this will push Matt away from the tipping point that has been teased since the title was relaunched back in 1999. It’s a shame since there was just so much farther he could have fallen.

-by Pedro Tejeda

Dark Avengers #9Dark Avengers #9
by Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato, and Rain Beredo

In a week with a Grant Morrison Batman comic and a new volume of Pluto, somehow I think I enjoyed these 22 pages the most. Bendis’s recent work has gotten slagged on a lot – sometimes deservedly – but I think this is a solid crystallization of everything that makes his style work: Character, Character, Character. The cover promises Ares versus Fury in a glocks-versus-battle-ax contest to the death, and I’m glad the cover lied because the mature conversation inside is so, so, so much better. Then Bendis drops a shock ending bomb on you, one he’s clearly been waiting to drop forever, and one that works pretty well at eliciting an “OH SHIT!” from almost anybody invested in the Marvel status quo right now.

But Bendis isn’t even really the main reason. Mike Deodato fucking shines on this comic, with interesting but clear panel layouts, especially in the middle section. This guy has really evolved from a tits ‘n muscles artist in the ’90s to a guy who, despite his propensity for swaying hips, constantly tries to make his panel layouts interesting (and still clear) – check out the “Ares smash!” two-page spread to see what I mean. He’s good with balls-out action and talking heads (as displayed near the end with the Dark Avengers just chillin’ and chattin’), versatile enough to move from the everyday to the extraordinary and make it seem like it’s in the same world. I’m willing to take his (increasingly rarer) propensities towards T&A in stride as long as he keeps turning in superb storytelling like this.

– by David Uzumeri

Vengeance of the Moon Knight #1Vengeance of the Moon Knight #1
“Shock & Awe Chapter 1”
by Gregg Hurwitz & Jerome Opena

I haven’t paid attention to the Moon Knight book for years, and viewed him as a third-rate Batman suffering from mental illness. But sometimes a comic doesn’t have to be original to be entertaining. We’ve all become familiar with the use of the super-hero narrative to explore identity and mental illness. Not only that, but the story of a lone man who must do battle with a crazed totalitarian state is older than John Galt. So what sets Vengeance of the Moon Knight apart from the crowd? The art. Gregg Hurwitz turns in a competent script, but Jerome Opena transforms what could have been a banal book into an entertaining romp.

The first issue sets the status quo – Moon Knight is a hero who is in the midst of an identity crisis. Will he be the restrained old-school hero who avoids unnecessary violence or a brutal vigilante close to the edge? We see MK elegantly dispatch armed bank robbers and escape from the authorities with ease in the first half of the book, which unfolds like a slick action movie filled with bright colors and unambiguous victories. In the second half, we begin to see the cracks in the facade – the criminals from Heat have been replaced with the degenerates in Taxi Driver, Moon Knight’s resolve is tested, and his instability becomes more apparent: the voices in his head/ghosts that haunt him become clearer. There are shadows everywhere, and triumph is replaced with temptation. An atmosphere of fear lurks in the background, with the visage of Norman Osborn staring at us from billboards and video screens. And that’s without even looking at the words.

– by Jamaal Thomas

September 18, 2009

Jamaal Reviews Amazing Spider-Man #604

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 7:00 pm

Amazing Spider-Man #604Amazing Spider-Man #604
“Red-Headed Stranger pt. 3: The Ancient Gallery”
by Fred Van Lente & Barry Kitson

I’m one of those fans who opposed the One More Day storyline because I think that characters should always be allowed to develop and grow. In the great conflict between those who view mainstream superhero comics as a continuing narrative and those who view them primarily as part of a broader strategy to manage valuable intellectual property, I thought OMD was a victory for the latter camp: a victory of commerce over art. Why? It’s not the decision to end the marriage between the characters of Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson, but the rationales offered, many of which were based on returning to a more ‘classic’ portrayal of the character (that would also make him easier to market and package on different platforms). Although there have been a handful of strong arcs in the months following the “Brand New Day” soft reboot of the Spider-Man family of titles, they only reinforced my ambivalence about the new direction. Dan Slott, Marc Guggenheim, Mark Waid, and Joe Kelly’s fun take on the book would have been equally effective before the reboot. However, with the three-part “Red-Headed Stranger” arc, I think that Fred Van Lente has written a fun, light, compelling story that actually benefits from the new status quo.
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David Reviews The Shield #1

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 2:00 pm

The Shield #1 cover
The Shield #1
“Kicking Down the Door pt. 1”
by Eric Trautmann & Marco Rudy
“Burning Inside pt. 1”
by Brandon Jerwa & Greg Scott

The first thing that struck me about this was how much it differed – in a good way – from J. Michael Straczynski’s lead-in that capped off his Red Circle series of one-shots. Where Straczynski combined the traditional Captain America super-soldier origin with stock scenes heavily inspired by Generation Kill and added on a layer of military conspiracy to tie it in with the other Red Circle stories, Trautmann creates an early-career super-soldier who isn’t fighting as morally convincing a war as Captain America was, and as a result, is forced to operate a bit more cynically.
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Pedro Reviews Models, Inc. #1

Models, Inc. #1Models, Inc. #1
“Models, Inc. pt1” by Paul Tobin & Vicenc Villagrasa
“Loaded Gunn” by Marc Sumerak & Jorge Molina

Reality television has probably taught me more about modeling and fashion than any other source. Maybe it’s this skewed vision that makes Models, Inc. feel like such a throwback to times past. I feel like Tobin’s story takes place in a world that hasn’t existed in ages. Even though several aspects of the story — like Chili Pepper’s outing — are obviously modern, Villagrasa’s art evokes the Mod 1960s, when the idea of modeling was more fresh, glamorous and fun. The book has none of the eating disorders, fierce competitiveness, or other aspects that seem to populate the seedy underbelly of modern modeling. It’s a decision that fits the tone of the book, even if I wasn’t fully engaged with the plot. I didn’t connect with any of the characters as they felt too light. Only three of the characters seemed to have any conflict and Millie being accused of murder was the only conflict I was remotely interested in. The art itself was adequate, but one of the two inkers was clearly stronger and detailed than the other. I did enjoy Tobin’s dialogue, which kept the characters, especially the models, from being flat. But I’m not sure that’s enough to make me come back to see what happens next.
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September 16, 2009

Batman and Robin #4 – “Revenge of the Red Hood Part One: Red Right Hand”

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , — David Uzumeri @ 6:04 pm
Batman and Robin #4

Batman and Robin #4

Again, a link to what’s come before.

The immediate interpretation of the issue title is the Nick Cave song of the same name, but its use within the issue makes it pretty clear that while that may have been an inspirational source, the context in which it’s used in the issue relates more to Milton’s “Paradise Lost” – which isn’t to say the song doesn’t eerily parallel the promises Red Hood is trying to sell Scarlet.

Philip Tan comes on as artist for this arc, and it’s certainly very different from Frank Quitely; losing Alex Sinclair as colorist gets rid of the posterized sky effects, and Tan’s art style owes way more to his time on Spawn than any precedent Quitely set, all stark shadows and straightforward panel layouts. This is a much darker look than what Quitely offered.

But anyway: new story, new start. Let’s go!
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September 15, 2009

FBBP #112 – Young Liars: The Final Chapter

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 3:35 pm

As promised at the end of episode 111, we present a contentious look back at David Lapham’s Young Liars, a frequent podcast topic. In the end, did anyone change their mind? Were any of us Spiders? We may never know!

Batmannotation Catch-Up: Batman and Robin #2-3

First off, a link to what’s come before.

With #4 hitting this Wednesday, I figured it was high time to get back into the game and take a look at the latest two issues of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Batman and Robin. I just reread Morrison’s entire Batman run to refresh my memory, so I’m good and ready – here goes!

Well, maybe I *do*, asshole!

Well, maybe I *do*, asshole!

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September 10, 2009

FBBP #111 – Strange Tales of Corporate Acquisitions

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 1:52 pm

This week’s recording session unexpectedly expanded out to two podcasts, as we discuss the blockbuster announcement of Disney purchasing Marvel! Will Pluto join the Pet Avengers? Will Goofy be denied the same privilege? Will Punisher be forced to practice “Hanuka Matata”? Or will this just be another corporate merger that involves using the word “synergy” as if it were the wizard’s magic word?

Shifting back to empirical reality, we also take a look at Marvel’s Strange Tales anthology, which gives “indie” creators an opportunity to play in the superhero sandbox. Will Johnny Ryan make jokes about bodily functions? Will Peter Bagge slip in creeping references to Libertarianism? Will Nick Bertozzi somehow make M.O.D.O.K. an oddly touching tragic figure? Spoilers: Yes, yes, and yes!

We’ll be back later this week for a characteristically contentious chapter in our Young Liars Trilogy!

September 1, 2009

FBBP #110 – Parker without Spiders, Spiders without Parker

The word of the week is “adaptation”, as we take a look at two pieces of media with roots in a different form.

First up, Marvel debuts Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. #1 as a “Motion Comic” on iTunes, over a month before the plain ol’ paper version hits the stands. Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev are an all-star creative team, but can they transfer the magic of their Daredevil run onto your iPod? Will there be Clutch Cargo lips? We tackle these questions and more!

Then, we take a look at IDW and Darwyn Cooke’s Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter, the first in Cooke’s planned series translating Stark’s 1960s crime novels into funnybook form. Not every one on the podcast is in love with The Hunter, but do those flaws lie with the Cooke’s adaptation or the source material? Could Parker just not be made for these times? Or, if the rest of the blogosphere is any gauge, are we objectively wrong?

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