Funnybook Babylon

August 3, 2010

Number Crunching: Why Spider-Man Needed a Brand New Day

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 10:08 am

By now I assume most of our readers have heard about the upcoming changes on Amazing Spider-Man: “Brand New Day” will be replaced with “Big Time“, in a clear power-shift from Sting to Peter Gabriel on Steve Wacker’s iPod.

“Big Time” sees Dan Slott take over as sole Amazing writer, and the book’s frequency will drop from thrice-monthly to twice-monthly. Some have seen this as a repudiation of the whole “Brand New Day” paradigm, whether that means “a thrice monthly book doesn’t work” or “the creative teams have disappointed” or, most colorfully, “JOE QUESADA IS A BIG DUMMY AND PETER WOULD NEVER MAKE A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL AND I AM VERY ANGRY ABOUT EITHER THE DISSOLUTION OF THE MARRIAGE OR POSSIBLY ALSO SPIDER-GIRL BUT MAINLY I JUST HATE MARVEL”.

I can’t speak to the last group, but personally I think BND has resulted in some very enjoyable characters, and several of the main BND players (Slott, Marcos Martin, Zeb Wells) are sticking around, so I can’t imagine this change was spurred by a perceived failure of the creative teams. Many people have pointed to the sales numbers on Amazing this year as proof of that, as sales are down considerably from the lofty heights of a few years ago. Brand New Day, they have argued, has seen Amazing drop from selling over 100,000 copies a month to under 60,000.

While that isolated data point is true, it doesn’t give you the whole picture. Sales have dropped considerably from the point they were at immediately before BND, but there are many factors:
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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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February 14, 2009

FBB Valentine’s Day Weekend: 25 Things Pedro Loves about Comics

On the worst day of the year for single people and absent-minded married men, Team FBB stood back and thought of the things that we love about comics. We capped it at 25 so that this series of articles would be completed sometime this year. One interesting thing that I came across while compiling my list was how many of these selections were based on visual storytelling moments. I’m starting to realize that I enjoy the art side of comics more than the writing.
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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 20, 2009

FBBP #87 – Ripped from Last Week’s Headlines

Happy Inauguration Day, everyone! Now that President-Elect Obama’s inspirational address has been delivered, we expect you’re primed to listen to more eloquent uplift. But if you’re tired of that sort of thing, why not check out this week’s FBB podcast?

Obamamania
is on everyone’s mind and we’re no exception, but we can’t let other Big Stories get lost in the swirl of Hope and Change: we also discuss Batman Actually R.ing I.P., and a fresh “Yes, This is Being Published” from two reliable purveyors of YTiBPs.

Check back later in the week for a belated birthday appreciation of Sam Kieth!

January 16, 2009

Obamamania Update!

So, hey, people sure are excited about this whole “Spider-Man Meets Barack Obama” thing. Here’s a few things I wanted to address about the excitement.

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January 12, 2009

FBBP #86 – Presidential Power vs. Wingnut Welfare! Fight!

Chris, Jamaal & Joseph discuss the implications of Barack Obama’s appearance in this week’s Amazing Spider-Man. Should you be happy about having a “Nerd-in-Chief” or should you be sick of this sort of discussion? The FBB Crew decides for you! In Obama’s America, We Decide, You Report!

Also, stay tuned after the main event, because there’s an extra Wrestling Babylon segment. The mics were hot when Chris & Jamaal reminisced about wrestling in the late nineties, as they discuss one of the most postmodern storylines in wrestling history.

December 7, 2008

Alex Ross and Paolo Rivera: Painters Turned Pencillers and Storytellers

This is some stuff I started writing a few weeks ago, when Amazing Spider-Man #577 and JSA Kingdom Come Special: Superman had just hit. It’s a bit late now, but I sort of like where I was going with it, so I’m gonna finish it off anyway.

The week of November 12 was pretty lackluster, but there’s one thing I noticed that I think is worth talking about: we had not one but two painters making their debut with traditional pencil & ink comic book art, which is a significant shift in style for one and… well… we’ll talk later about the other.

Alex Ross wrote, pencilled, and sort-of-inked-but-really-washed-and-shaded the interminably-named Justice Society of America Kingdom Come Special: Superman. I was actually pretty surprised by how decent the scripting and dialogue were; Ross certainly has a huge leg up on Dan DiDio in that department. However, to be completely honest, it’s really only through realizing the story-based context (painted pages are Earth-22, other pages are Earth-0) that I can tell which parts are painted and which parts are colored by Alex Sinclair; while his work here is certainly more kinetic than his work on Marvels and the original Kingdom Come, I don’t know if that’s a function of the switch to pencil & ink as much as it is the passage of time and perhaps him learning from painting over Doug Braithwaite’s dynamic pencils for Justice. (As a side note, I actually like his non-photo-referenced faces in the back thumbnails more than the photoreferenced finished work; the faces are more expressive, and Ross clearly has the chops to be an above-average penciller if he ever wanted to drop the painting and reference and go that route.)

On the other hand, we got Paolo Rivera on Amazing Spider-Man #577. And, uh, damn.
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November 4, 2008

FBBP #78 – Election Day Special

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 3:43 pm

This week, Chris, Jamaal, Joe and Pedro bring you something to listen to while waiting in line for the polls.

On the table this week are Joe Kelly & Chris Bachalo’s Amazing Spider-Man #575 and Brian Azzarello & Lee Bermejo’s Joker.

And as an election special, Chris brings us a new “Yes, This is Being Published” about DC Decisions: “a master class in how not to publish a mini-series”.

Enjoy.

October 29, 2008

FBBP #77 – A Spidery Meta-Argument About a Single Panel

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 3:40 pm

Joe has returned from Korea to talk to Chris, Jamaal, and Pedro about Secret Invasion, Final Crisis, and the rumors that have been floating around the blogoverse. It’s followed it up with what was supposed to be a short discussion of Amazing Spider-Man #574, but became a long drawn out argument. Listeners Beware. Shockingly, Pedro comes in as the voice of reason. It is a troubling harbinger of the apocalypse.

As a side note: The new editors page is up with easier ways to contact us.

October 14, 2008

Pull List Analysis for October 15, 2008

Going to try to skip past the obvious “big books” this week — if you’re following Astonishing X-Men, Final Crisis tie-ins or Amazing Spider-Man I bet you’ll notice the big stacks of them at your local shop tomorrow. Here are some things that might not be so well-stocked:

Are you excited for Halloween? Publishers sure are! Marvel’s gearing up for round eighty-two of ZOMBIE COVER VARIANTS, and DC is putting out the ridiculously titled Superman & Batman vs. Werewolves & Vampires mini-series, and I’m going to be uncharitable and assume the title is the first and last thing you need to read about that book. Here are two slightly more palatable haunts:

monster-hulkHulk Monster-Size Special by Jeff Parker & Gabriel Hardman (Marvel Comics): Yes, this is Superhero Property vs. Universal Monster Property, just like S/BvW/V. But HMSS is a standalone one-shot rather than a six issue mini-series, which gives me hope for a punchy fun story light on exposition and high on goofy slugfests. It also helps that it’s written by Jeff Parker, who has shown a knack for big goofy fun in various Marvel Adventures books. Hopefully everyone will overlook the lack of Red Hulk, who according to Jeph Loeb is “the most popular character since Wolverine”!

Dear Dracula by Joshua Williamson and Vinny Navarrete (Image Comics): Image/Shadowline is rolling out a series of all-ages/children’s graphic novels, starting with Dear Dracula. Everything I know about the book and its creators can be found alongside a preview of the book at Newsarama. Looks cute, and the timing of the release is right.

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March 20, 2008

FBBP #49 – Secretly Wishing We Could be Paul Pope Characters

This week show barely gets into comics until about 15 minutes in, but when we do we go over the Wizard World LA announcements, the lack of quality books, Vixen’s tone in JLA, the importance of what comic creators do outside of the industry and the fact Radical Comics still fucking sucks.

Sorry this one is up late, but it took me ages to think of a name. Podcast Notes after the jump.

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