Funnybook Babylon

February 10, 2009

The Banality of Evil

Even now I curse the day–and yet, I think,
Few come within the compass of my curse,–
Wherein I did not some notorious ill,
As kill a man, or else devise his death,
Ravish a maid, or plot the way to do it,
Accuse some innocent and forswear myself,
Set deadly enmity between two friends,
Make poor men’s cattle break their necks;
Set fire on barns and hay-stacks in the night,
And bid the owners quench them with their tears.
Oft have I digg’d up dead men from their graves,
And set them upright at their dear friends’ doors,
Even when their sorrows almost were forgot;
And on their skins, as on the bark of trees,
Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,
‘Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.’
Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things
As willingly as one would kill a fly,
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed
But that I cannot do ten thousand more.

Titus Andronicus is a play so nasty that some scholars question whether the Bard could have lowered himself to write such venom. But it’s still pretty awesome, and Aaron is undoubtedly a Bad Dude. His hardcore BADNESS is exciting, almost refreshing when set amongst all of the more nuanced characters that populate Shakespeare’s other plays. But just like the kid who decides he would love to eat nothing but Fluffernutter, or the first man to edit together an All-Climax porno tape, the creative minds at DC have decided that it would be awesome if every antagonist in their comics were as evil and crazy as Aaron (or more likely the Joker).

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January 6, 2009

FBBP #85 – Pushing Fifty

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 9:58 pm

Hey, did you hear? We’re in a recession! How the will the coming year’s financial turmoil affect you? We don’t care about your mortgage or 401K, we want to know how this will affect your comic book habit: The FBB Symposium on The Future has convened!

And to keep you occupied in these austere times, we present a thought question: what is the best anglophone superhero/genre comic book/run done by a creator over the age of fifty? We don’t wish to draw any rash conclusions about super hero comics being “a young man’s game”, but it’s something to discuss. Here’s a helpful list to start out with:
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November 22, 2008

FBBP #80 – I Don’t Need Your Civil War

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 2:19 am

This week, the gang pours one out for the late, lamented Blue Beetle and takes a look at Marvel’s Civil War in the context of a big hardcover artifact. Both conversations pinwheel into the predictable larger “issues” like transmedia synergy and the marriage of James Carville and Mary Matalin

No podcast recording this weekend, but we hope to reconvene after Thanksgiving to kick off the Holiday Podcasting Season! Why not take this brief interlude to consider all that we have done right and wrong this year, and offer constructive criticism?

Do you prefer:
Longer or shorter shows?
Epic digressions or concision?
More Reviews? Fewer Reviews? Different Types of Reviews?

Should we try to have guests? What do YOU think? Let us know!

October 24, 2008

Minx Post Mortem: New York Four

Filed under: Blurbs,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 3:12 pm

You might be fooled if you come from out of town.
Snoop Dogg

9578_400x600Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly
New York Four
Minx

New Yorkers born in the outer boroughs live in a city unfamiliar to newcomers (in my mind, newcomers are people who’ve lived here for less than thirty years) and most native Manhattanites. To some, it’s a lost dystopia, a place where risk and uncertainty have been replaced by bland commercialism. To others, it’s not a unified city at all, but a loose collection of insular neighborhood tribes. You’ll hear a lot of different visions of New York from natives, but the one you’re least likely to hear from them is the one presented by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly in their contribution to the defunct Minx line, The New York Four.

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October 20, 2008

Re-Coloring Moebius

Filed under: Blurbs,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 2:58 pm

I saw this over at The Beat and was pretty disappointed. Les Humanoïdes Associeés have re-released all of Moebius & Jodorowski’s L’Incal with a completely new coloring style. Unfortunately, the new style removes much of what made Moebius’s line-work special.

Incal orginalIncal recolor
Colors by Yves Chaland                                        Colors by Valerie Beltran

Make sure you click on the images to see the large versions, at a glance thumbnails don’t tell the whole story.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Valerie Beltran’s digital color shading style used in these reprints; it’s a style that’s been used to good effect in plenty of books. The problem is that her colors obscure much of Moebius’s line work.

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September 17, 2008

FBBP #72 – [Expletive Deleted] [fixed]

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 10:55 pm

NOTICE: We had an export issue on our previous post of this podcast. If you have downloaded it, please listen to this one instead, the second half of the Achewood discussion on the previous one got garbled. I blame Apple, and their lack of support for Soundtrack Pro.

This Week: We review Chris Onstad’s The Great Outdoor Fight, discuss the All-Star Batman & Robin controversy, talk Final Crisis: Revelations and debut a new segment, “Yes, This is Being Published”.

YTiBP’s debut topic is Vertigo’s forthcoming Haunted Tank series. You can read a special preview of it on this toilet seat. No, really.

After cutting this podcast, I realized that yes, I am a Hater. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate! I got Silky Johnson and Buc Nasty on lock, I’m gonna be Hater of the Year!

We go into a lot of detail about the Great Outdoor Fight, so if you aren’t a regular Achewood reader and don’t want your experience “spoiled” you can read the whole story online before listening. Or don’t, just don’t come crying if we reveal the final fate of The Latino Health Crisis.

September 10, 2008

FBBP #71 – Back to School with a Song

Jamaal is back and it’s time for him to pay the piper! What song must he sing? Stay tuned to the end, true believers!

In the spoken word portion of the podcast, we discuss the new Secret Six, Marvel Apes and Sub-Mariner: The Depths mini-series, and spin off into a larger discussion of Depths author Peter Milligan’s other recent series Infinity Inc. and The Programme. Milligan has built up a lot of goodwill with series like X-Statix, Human Target and Shade the Changing Man, but how do his newer books stack up? Listen and learn!

Finally, our resident canary in the mineshaft Chris has decided to join the MARCH ON ULTIMATUM, and gives a recap of Aron Coliete’s initial Ultimate X-Men arc. In this metaphor, the canary has died and had its corpse repeatedly defiled.

September 9, 2008

Tough Love Tuesday Breaking News: Insufficient Censorship

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 3:48 pm

We interupt our regularly scheduled nitpicking about proper grammar and usage to bring you this breaking story:

The reason behind All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder‘s recall revealed! The censor bars didn’t print properly a whole bunch of times! Cusswords are visible! Look out! Don’t click through if you don’t want to see Batgirl being super-sassy:

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September 2, 2008

FBBP #70 – The Last Will and Testament of the Third Dimension

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 11:25 pm

For the second week running, we’re missing Jamaal. We miss Jamaal so much that we want to remind everyone that we’re still taking suggestions for what we should make him sing on next week’s podcast. A BET IS A BET!

Two books of the week this time out: one for its importance, and another for its je ne sais quoi:
Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1 by Grant Morrison & Doug Mahnke (annotated here!)
DC Universe: Last Will & Testament by Brad Meltzer & Adam Kubert

Speaking of Last Wills, Virgin Comics has joined the dustbin of comics history alongside CrossGen, Tekno Comix and countless others. What lessons can be learned? What went wrong? Just how many different things has Richard Branson slapped “Virgin” on?

We also begin our discussion on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Most of the discussion is Joe introducing the Nausicaa and its creator Hayao Miyazaki, so anyone wanting to catch up still has time. We’ll be doing the second (and final) Nausicaa book club discussion in a couple weeks.

The whole series is translated in seven volumes (Volumes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) and you can buy them through Amazon for $10, supporting the site at the same time.

August 27, 2008

FBBP #68 – Out of Nowhere…

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 9:29 am

With Pedro and Jamaal doing adult things, we brought in a ringer. Jon Bernhardt came up from Baltimore to chat about the first issue of Air, G. Willow Wilson & M.K. Perker’s new Vertigo ongoing.

Then, a surprise visitor arrived just in time for our discussion of Captain America #41 by Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting. I bet if you whisper “Captain America” three times in your bathroom mirror, Pedro will show up at your house too, looking for beer.
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August 18, 2008

Quick Rant on Criticism

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 8:51 pm

I wanted to add my 2¢ to the current debate about “Comics Criticism” that David Brothers over at 4th Letter has already covered.

I believe that the creators repudiating critics haven’t experienced much actual criticism; they seem to be responding to reader mail and message board threads. To paint critics as message board posters is absolutely ridiculous.

If Scott Kurtz feels it’s necessary to ignore all criticism of his work, more power to him, but to frame the discussion as a question of “Which is superior? Artist or Critic?” is silly. I wouldn’t care if this concept wasn’t getting spread around in the blogosphere.

Good criticism isn’t about saying “This sucks!” or “Go buy this thing!” Good criticism is an examination or mediation of its subject. It’s disassembling the pieces to see how the work affects you. A good critic can provide context, illuminating a piece of work that may otherwise be opaque.

A good critic is one whose work you can read after reading the book critiqued to get additional perspective on what you experienced.

Criticism is not a mandate on what an artist’s work should be, even when seems like it is.

To all these creators that feel like they need to tell critics to fuck off, my suggestion is to go read some Pauline Kael. If you want a sample of similar criticism apllied to comics, Chris enjoyed Douglas Wolk’s Reading Comics. Wolk cites Kael as a significant influence.

And if people really need to play the “Which is more important? Critic or Artist?” I’d like to mention Roland Barthes. This guy was a critic that developed a whole new language for talking about visual art, from newspaper advertisements to classical paintings. Barthes revolutionized the way we currently think of images and their meaning, and contributed as much to today’s art as any artist.

But this whole debate feels like a thinly veiled way for certain artists to say, “I’m a better person than you.” Making Good Art does not make you a Good Person. Making Bad Art does not make you a Bad Person.

Case in point: RICHARD WAGNER. Or on the flipside, Jeph Loeb. I’ve heard Loeb in interviews and he seems like a genuinely nice guy who’s trying really hard to make good comics. This doesn’t make him a bad person. It just makes him a person who created a bad comic. And criticizing his book doesn’t mean you’re attacking him as a person. If everyone, from “critics” to “artists” to “fans” could remember this, we’d all be better off.

August 16, 2008

Fun with Solicitations: DC Spoils the Crap Out of Their Books

A message board several FBBers frequent has been embroiled in a debate about what constitute “spoilers”: many posters feel like if something is revealed by official company promotional material (Nick Fury’s “Secret Warriors” will survive Secret Invasion and receive their own book, Darkseid successfully takes over Earth in Final Crisis, Character X will be appearing soon in Title Y) then those plot points don’t really constitute “spoilers”. Usually this sort of thing doesn’t constitute a “twist” or whatever, and so these topics are fair game for discussing upcoming comics. But DC seems determined to test this assumption with their November solicitations, as seen on Newsarama. So be warned, “spoilers” after the jump:

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July 28, 2008

SDCC Link Blog News Round Up Extravaganza – What Should You Look Forward To?

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 8:57 am

Even though the San Diego Comic Con is the closest any of us will see to nerd nirvana, there’s also an overwhelming flood of product announcements. Some of these announcements, such as Neil Gaiman on Batman, or Kevin Smith . . . on Batman, have been amply covered by the ‘Big Two’ Comics News sites. Out of all the material that will be released, these are the upcoming releases that I’m most excited about.

BPRD 1947: Joshua Dysart/Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon (Umbrella Academy, Casanova) – This miniseries was announced by Dark Horse during the SDCC Horror Panel, riding on the crest of the success of the sequel to the Hellboy movie and the BPRD 1946 miniseries. According to Scott Allie, the Dark Horse editor overseeing the project, the series will mix some of the themes of the BPRD 1946 series with 19th century gothic horror fiction.

Creepy Magazine: Dark Horse hasn’t announced much about this series, save to note that it will be 48 pages, quarterly, and will basically have the same aesthetic as the classic magazine published by Warren in the 1960’s. This will come out in 2009.

Umbrella Academy 2: Same creative team (Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba), continuation of the popular mini that was released in 2007. I still have to catch up with the first Umbrella Academy, but this seems like something to look out for.

Electric Ant: I’m really excited about this. An adaptation of the Phillip K. Dick classic, it will be written by David Mack, with covers by Paul Pope, and art by Pascal Elixe. I’ve never seen any of Elixe’s work, but the outtakes I’ve seen look very cool. On an upcoming podcast, we express some concern about an overly literal interpretation of the story, which may be somewhat allayed by comments Mack made in a recent interview with Newsarama.

War Machine: This will replace the Iron Man: Director of SHIELD book. Does this mean that Tony Stark will no longer be the Director of SHIELD? I dunno, but it seems to mean that the subtly different perspective on Iron Man in Invincible Iron Man (which seems to be closer to the film version) will become the primary comic-book version of the character. Greg Pak will be writing, which I think is pretty cool, with pencils by Leonard Manco. At the Mondo Marvel panel, this was described as a ‘hardcore’ book, which should be pretty interesting to see, even though I’m more interested in it as a counterpoint to the whole Adam: The Legend of the Blue Marvel crap. Was that too judgmental of me? Time to move on.

Flash Rebirth: The story of Barry Allen’s return and continuing adventures, as told by Geoff Johns and Ethan van Scier. Will it be as good as the Sinestro Corps or will it be as mediocre/navel gazing as Green Lantern: Rebirth? Will Pedro’s assertion that Johns is a rapidly improving writer be proven right? Or will my cynicism/skepticism win out? As Joe loves to say, time will tell.

N: A web 2.0 version of an unpublished Stephen King story. This will be written (or adapted) by Marc Guggenheim, with art by Alex Maleev. This is a joint project between Marvel Entertainment, Scribner, Simon and Schuster Digital, CBS Mobile, and the letter M. N will either be a brilliant strategy to maximize revenue through multiple platforms, or a clusterfuck. I can’t wait to see which it will be.

War of Kings: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Black Bolt and the Inhumans, and a big space crossover. I’m sold (even though Vulcan’s involved). Read an interview here.

Filthy Rich: An intriguing entry from the Vertigo Crime line of titles, Filthy Rich is written by Brian Azzarello, with art by Victor Santos. I hate 100 Bullets with the passion of a thousand suns, but I like many of Azzarello’s other hard-boiled fiction titles. Azzarello describes it as a story “all about the celebrity culture of wealth and why people find that so fascinating and how people get sucked into it.” Sounds cool.

Daytripper: A new Vertigo project by the prolific Ba/Moon brothers, Daytripper is “the story of a guy who wants to be a writer, and about how the things you do everyday can determine what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.”

I’m sure that there are some titles that I’ve overlooked that look interesting, but this is what initially caught my eye. If you’ve been following SDCC coverage (or if you were an attendee), what new projects are you looking forward to?

July 8, 2008

(Greg) Land Ho! Uncanny X-Men #500 Cover Revisited

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 9:22 pm

CBR just put up a (quite sweet-looking) preview of some new Dodson pages from Uncanny 500, and in the process also put up the final Greg Land cover (original here). Besides compressing a lot of the figures to make it fit on two pages (I gues it’s not a gatefold anymore), there was just one thing that had to pointed out and, frankly, publicly approved of:

After and Before
landpixie

Whoever was responsible: thank you! It’s nice to see Pixie not represented as being midcoitus anymore.

The Morrison Batman Notes Part 2 – The (Aunt) Agatha Christie Period

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 10:55 am

Going forward with part two!

Don’t forget to read yesterday’s part one as well.

Batman #667

Batman #667

Batman #667 – “The Island of Mister Mayhew”

(art: J.H. Williams III & Dave Stewart)

NOTE: Rather than recapitulate it here, I’d just like to point everyone towards J.H. Williams III’s commentary on the Club of Heroes and the particular artistic style associated with each one.

Page 1: The Black Glove, named for the first time. Note the roulette wheel, red and black, good and evil – it’s clear here that Mayhew, strung up, is making a bet. Judging by the actual wearing of black gloves, it seems clear this is the same character we saw at the end of 665. A friend of mine who for some reason wants to remain anonymous because this idea is fucking brilliant thinks that this might be a sort of retelling of the story of Job, with Hurt acting as Satan and Alfred as God, which fits in perfectly with the question raised by this bet – which is stronger, good or evil? It also fits in perfectly with Morrison’s use of the blind chessman figure in Invisibles.

Page 2-3: I just want to mention I love the look Tim gives Bruce for asking a question to which he himself is the answer.

Page 4: Tim mentions that Alfred is staying at home rebuilding Wayne Manor, which seems to place this after the Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul crossover – which is after this arc, so I have no idea how that works. Anyway, that’s his alibi for now.

Page 5: The Knight was last seen in JLA: Classified #1-3 by Grant Morrison & Ed McGuinness, and before that in Morrison’s JLA run.

Page 6: El Gaucho, respected crimefighter from Argentina; Legionary, past-his-prime Roman-themed crimefighter from Italy; the Musketeer, French crimefighter who, as he says here, just got out of prison; and Chief Man-of-Bats, the Batman of the reservation. All members of the Club of Heroes.

Page 7: More details about Mayhew’s life. Just as all of the Club of Heroes are alternate takes on where Batman may have gone, John Mayhew represents a directionless, unfulfilling life for Bruce Wayne without a cause and a mission. This is where we first see the poster for the Black Glove film, which comes into play later during R.I.P.; Mangrove Pierce and Marsha Lamarr are both names worth remembering, both within and after this arc. The group shot of the Club of Heroes is new, and lacks Superman, whom the original story (Detective #215) featured.

Page 8: The Native American vigilante is an alcoholic? Seriously, Grant?

Pages 14-15: Someone wearing Mayhew’s face, presumably taken off with the switchblade at the start of the issue. However, considering Mayhew shows up safe and sound later on, it seems likely this is simply a parlor trick (which raises the question of what the use of the blade was). “Place your bets” again digs in the gambling angle, and Morrison really loves to use the wearing-skin concept.

Page 16-17: We later find out the explosion originates from Wingman’s ship, where he planted the bomb as an accomplice to Mayhew and the Glove.

Page 20-21: Mayhew, wearing black gloves, kills Legionary.
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