Funnybook Babylon

February 15, 2009

FBB Valentine’s Day Weekend: 25 Things Matt Loves About Comics

Filed under: Articles — Matt Jett @ 7:34 pm

All of the smaller images are thumbnails, so click if you’d like a better look.

1. Hellcat
Hellcat

2. Liver Blow!
liverblow

3. Thing’s Trenchcoat, Hat and Glasses
thingcostume-copy
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February 13, 2009

Waited for the Trade: Eternals – To Slay a God

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , — Matt Jett @ 8:43 pm

Eternals: To Slay a God
Collects: Eternals #1-6 and Annual
Writers: Charles Knauf, Daniel Knauf, Fred Van Lente, Jack Kirby
Artists: Daniel Acuna, Pascal Alixe, Jack Kirby
Marvel Comics

eternals1

Only slightly delayed due to NYCC!

The works of Jack Kirby are among the most influential ever produced in the comic book industry. He created characters as diverse as the New Gods, the Challengers of the Unknown, the Fantastic Four, and Black Panther, characters that have remained popular until the present day, though some of them have undergone several iterations. Marvel’s most recent re-imagining of Kirby’s work is the Eternals revamp, started by Neil Gaiman in 2006 and continued in their current series by Charles and Daniel Knauf, previously of Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
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February 6, 2009

The Banality of Evil: Prometheus

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , , , , — Matt Jett @ 11:32 pm

I was chatting with Chris Eckert and David Brothers about how a lot of villains in comics seem to have no plausible motivation for doing what they do. This seems pretty obvious; for every Dr. Doom, who has an overabundance of motivation, you have a Bullseye who is just CRAZY and HARDCORE. If you’ve listened to last week’s podcast, you’ve heard the crew talk about Prometheus, who got a revamp last week as part of the Faces of Evil pseudo-cover theme. Here’s why that revamp sucked.

Prometheus, in Morrison’s JLA, was the kind of one-dimensional badass that worked for that title. He was a murderer and a villain, but it was implied that there was something a bit deeper to him. prometheus1He, for example, knew enough super-science to build his signature goofy helmet and build a house in limbo. Morrison, for better or worse, never really got around to fleshing him out, so that job falls to Sterling Gates, writer of Supergirl.

Gates blames Prometheus’s parents for his character traits. They stole stuff and shot cops, so Prometheus does too. That’s what you get as far backstory goes. Being a part of this family made him irrevocably, completely crazy. So crazy that he spends years going on the exact same journey as Batman, meeting (evil) monks, honing his (evil) skills. Only he kills a bunch of cops first. And then kills a bunch of cops after he’s done with the journey. Why? Because they’re cops and cops shot his parents while they were resisting arrest and shooting back.
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January 30, 2009

Waited for the Trade – Doubleshot!

huntress1Huntress: Year One
collects Huntress: Year One #1-6
written by Ivory Madison
art by Cliff Richards
DC Comics

DC’s Year One concept has become something of an institution lately, with everyone from Metamorpho to Two-Face to Green Arrow getting miniseries under its banner, complete with a “Year One” logo. Each series fleshes out the character’s origin, usually by filling in the details of their pre-superheroic life. Huntress: Year One doesn’t deviate from this formula, following Helena Bertinelli from her 21st birthday through her getting the Huntress costume and meeting Batman and his allies for the first time, what seems to be a period of a few months.
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January 23, 2009

Waited for the Trade: Spider-Man – New Ways to Die

New Ways to Die Cover
Spider-Man: New Ways to Die
collects Amazing Spider-Man #568-573
written by Dan Slott & Mark Waid
art by John Romita Jr. & Adi Granov
Marvel Comics

Fair warning: This review contains some spoilers, but nothing that will really ruin your enjoyment of the story. Be forewarned.

I’m in love with Harry Osborn. Not the Harry Osborn of the movies, although James Franco is a pretty funny guy. Not even the old Harry Osborn, the one who died back in 1993. I was seven when that story happened; I bought the comic because it had a shiny cover but the greater significance of it was totally lost on me. Catching up on Spider-Man through Essential volumes has given me a greater grasp on the character, but to be perfectly frank, old Harry pales in comparison to the current Harry written by Dan Slott.

He’s a nuanced character now, with fully realized relationships with Norman Osborn (another resurrected villain), Peter Parker, Spider-Man (in a completely different sense than his relationship with Peter) and the rest of the supporting cast. If you haven’t been following Amazing Spider-Man for the past few years this probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but stay with me.

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January 16, 2009

Waited for the Trade: X-Force v1 – Angels and Demons

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , — Matt Jett @ 3:22 pm

Spinning out of the events of Messiah Complex, X-Force follows a “black ops” team of X-Men, tasked with missions other mutant superheroes would find morally compromising. These missions invariably end up being incredibly violent, as X-Force is the sort of superhero team that doesn’t stick to the standard “no killing” type of heroics. The philosophy of the team (and the marketing of the title) is probably best summed up by the fact that Marvel issued variant covers for the first few issues that were simply changed to be much, much bloodier than the standard covers.
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April 8, 2008

Creative Team Turnover and You: A Four Stage Healing Process

Filed under: Blurbs — Matt Jett @ 7:00 am

Whether it’s Greg Rucka leaving Checkmate, John Rogers leaving Blue Beetle, Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz leaving Booster Gold, or Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker leaving Iron Fist, nearly every comics fan has some loss to lament, and I haven’t even mentioned the numerous art changes that happen from month to month. In order to help you all through this grieving process, I’ve devised a four stage plan chronicling your feelings, to help you understand what you’re going through.

1. Shock: A total loss of emotion, due to the impact of the loss. You may find yourself looking at solicits wondering, “Is this real? Did DC really give Checkmate to Bruce Jones?”

2. Denial: Being unable to accept the situation. You may find yourself thinking, “This can’t be happening. Iron Fist is Fraction and Brubaker’s baby, they’d never give it up.”

3. Anger: Wanting to lash out at everyone you think shares in the blame. You may continually ask, “Who gave Dan Didio/Joe Quesada their job? Does anybody actually buy Bruce Jones comics?”

4. Resolution: Feeling like there is a way past the grief, an end to the sadness. You remind yourself that you’ll always have the Trades. The creators are working on new, exciting books. You may say to yourself, “John Rogers writing the JLI would be really cool.” or “At least Criminal has longer stories now.” You might even find yourself giving the new creative team a shot. Sure, it’s not the one you know and love but that doesn’t mean they won’t do a great job (unless it’s Bruce Jones).

Eventually your Iron Fist hardcovers will gather a fine layer of dust, and you’ll forget the run ever happened until you glance at your bookshelf and all the memories come flooding back. But in time, these feelings too will fade.

February 29, 2008

Not Just For Kids: The Best Superhero Comics You Aren’t Reading

Filed under: Articles — Matt Jett @ 8:00 am

The Marvel Adventures imprint is Marvel’s latest attempt to get younger readers to start buying comics, something they don’t do very often these days. The books are set up as sort of an ancillary, less-edgy Ultimate imprint, with new, continuity-free takes on the characters everyone knows and loves, but above all, kid-friendly in content. The existence of the Ultimate imprint doesn’t really hurt the Adventures line. They both serve the same purpose (re-imaginings of classic Marvel characters) but they couldn’t be more different in execution. While the Ultimate books are aimed pretty squarely at either the early teen (Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Fantastic Four) or the late teen (Ultimates 1&2) markets, the MA stuff is for the pre-teen crowd.

The audience dictates the format: one or two issue stories, with the occasional minor subplot that runs through more issues. Marvel realizes that kids aren’t necessarily going to be able to get their parents into a comic book store once a month, so they don’t penalize them by having 6 part storylines that are incomprehensible once they miss an issue.

So what, if anything, about the Marvel Adventures books makes them worth reading to an adult, intelligent comic book audience? First and foremost, the format allows the authors to focus on fun, exciting storytelling. marvel-adventures-spider-man-04-page-17.jpgYou’ve got classic heroes fighting classic villains for 22 pages every month. There’s always a lot of humor in every issue, making the somewhat simple stories forgivable. The fun factor is the real selling point for the line, both for kids and adults. The jokes and subtle nods to Marvel continuity proper fly fast and furious, particularly if you pick up one of Jeff Parker’s issues of MA: Avengers. Where the Marvel Adventures line succeeds and many other all-ages initiatives failed is talent. Many old lines have consisted of, and I’m generalizing broadly here, work that was phoned in by pros who knew they could half-ass the job since 1) the books were aimed squarely at small children and 2) nobody was going to buy the books anyway. This has given all-ages books a pretty bad, but often deserved, reputation of being a sort of comic ghetto, where nothing produced is really worth reading. Marvel has totally turned this stigma around with this line, and it’s largely due to the work of Fred Van Lente, who’s writing two books, Paul Tobin, and the fine people over at Periscope Studio. I’ll weigh the pros and cons of each book after the jump. (more…)

August 30, 2007

Autopsy Report – The Immortal Iron Fist: The Last Iron Fist Story

Filed under: Reviews — Matt Jett @ 2:09 am

Ladies and Gentlemen, Danny Rand

Written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction
Drawn by David Aja
Collects The Immortal Iron Fist 1 – 6.

The Last Iron Fist Story is not about the Iron Fist, nor Danny Rand. Rand may be the protagonist but the story, and the series to date, is about the rich legacy of the Iron Fist itself, not simply about those who have wielded it. The name, passed from warrior to warrior, generation to generation, is brought fully to the fore and given a rich character and history all its own.

The genius part about this is that for the first thirty-plus years of the character’s existence, there was no grand Iron Fist history. Danny Rand existed, K’un L’un was there, but everything else about the Iron Fist concept was a fairly bland mish-mash of martial arts genre tropes and ill-thought out attempts at character development. Once the Brubaker/Fraction team took over and launched The Immortal Iron Fist, that all changed.

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August 16, 2007

Autopsy Report – Essential Dazzler

Filed under: Reviews — Matt Jett @ 3:51 am

Even the cover has guest stars
Reprints: X-Men 130-131, Amazing Spider-Man 203, and Dazzler 1-21 Creative Teams include: Chris Claremont/John Byrne, Marv Wolfman/Keith Pollard, Tom DeFalco/John Romita Jr. and Frank Springer, and Danny Fingeroth/Frank Springer. Fingeroth/Springer are responsible for the bulk of the work in the TPB.

Yes, they’ve printed an Essential volume staring Dazzler. Not a dream, not a hoax, not an imaginary solicitation.

Dazzler is an interesting character not only because of her exploits on the printed page, but also because of her origins in the Marvel offices. Introduced to comics in 1980, she was created as a cross-promotional tie-in between Marvel and Casablanca Records by a committee of Marvel staffers, most notably Tom DeFalco and John Romita Jr. Approached by the Casablanca record company in the late 70’s, the Marvel staffers were basically asked to come up with a singing character, who Casablanca would then use as an identity for one of their artists. Dazzler isn’t the first example of this cross-marketing focus at Marvel, joining luminaries such as ROM Spaceknight, the Micronauts, and eventually, NFL Superpro. The difference between Dazzler and those characters is that Casablanca pulled out of the deal before she was introduced in her solo title, leaving Marvel with a character that had little reason to exist. (more…)

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