Funnybook Babylon

January 6, 2009

This Is Not A Review

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 11:31 am

Why? Because I’m far from qualified to review anything this good. I almost want to hire Kakutani or Hitchens for this one. One of the things that I tend to forget when innundated by the flood of mediocre or terrible comics that will always have a disproportionately large place in our discussion is that we (as comics fans) are blessed with access to a wider array of amazing work than ever before. In earlier eras, ‘mainstream’ creators may have had more latitude to be formally innovative, or introduce themes and concepts that were unfamiliar to most comics readers of the time. Nowadays, the comics industry has become far more professional, and this kind of experimentation is far less common, especially in superhero books. There’s a romance that’s just not there anymore. But at the same time, I also remember an era when most books published by any non-Marvel or DC company were almost completely unavailable to the average reader. All of this is to say that an era that produces Berlin: City of Stone can’t be all bad.
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December 13, 2008

Lasting Legacies

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 3:45 am

If you think you can leave any sort of lasting legacy, you’re deluded. And I was deluded for a long time. But we live and we learn.

Mark Waid

I really, really love Superman: Birthright.

More than any other story, to me, it defines what Clark, Kal, the Kents and the House of El represent and the beacon they’re meant to be to humanity; far more than the dyslexic Lois Lane and meek Clark of the 1970s, the overconfident football jock of the 1980s or the po-faced stoic of the 1990s, Birthright illuminated and really crystallized, to me, who and what Superman is. I owe Mark Waid that forever.

So I was pretty damn surprised to see that he feels he hasn’t left a legacy. I don’t know if this is some kind of momentary lapse of reason or what, but dude, snap out of it – who gives a shit if your story got thrown out of continuity a few years later? It’s not like a whole generation of comic nerds didn’t read it, many of whom will re-enter the industry. Remember Len Wein’s Untold Legend of the Batman, perennial favorite of cereal box tie-ins, and how it got tossed out of continuity (just like Birthright!) a few years later by Crisis? And how basically the past two years of Batman stories have centered around reincorporating its “let’s compress the entirety of Bat-history into X number of years” method to dazzling effect?

Nobody’s deluded for thinking people are going to be inspired by a really damn good Superman story, personally or creatively, and that’s what Birthright was. It may not be THE OFFICIAL BACK STORY of the ONE TRUE SUPERMAN OF NEW EARTH right now, but these things embed themselves in the soil of continuity to take root and grow; they’re percolating in the back of the minds of the readership, and a few years from now some guy’s applauded take on Superman is going to be based on this story that’s getting “bulldozed over.”

The short-term decisions can always be short-term with the wave of a magic wand. Nothing is permanent, and the whims of editors will always be overriden by popular consensus in the long run, even if it takes a little bit too long. Perhaps I’m channelling Adam Smith a little bit too much in my vision of the the equilibrum of comics continuity, but I really think that in the end the shit falls to the bottom and the cream rises to the top no matter how long it takes, and if the work is solid – and especially if it’s a highly marketed story that’s likely to remain in print and available, like most of Waid’s material – there’s no telling what effect it could eventually have, or what kind of legacy it could inspire.

October 28, 2008

Pull List Analysis for October 29, 2008

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3 by Brian Michael Bendis & David Lafuente (Marvel Comics): There comes a time in every young superhero’s life when someone decides to do an issue about their sex life. These “very special” issues have come with a range of tasteful comments from the creators:

static25

I understand that teenage sexuality is a difficult subject for a lot of people. And, as is the custom, I won’t even mention black sexuality. But I don’t think that the people who read Static are afraid to explore storylines ground in the issues of contemporary life.

Dwayne McDuffie on the publication of Static #25

petenkitty

I called Bob Harras and said, “Excalibur #90, Kitty Pryde gets fucked.” He went deadly silent, then he said, “Just try and keep it tasteful.”

Warren Ellis on the publication of Excalibur #90

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Where will USM Annual #3 fall along the axis? Who knows, though it has the “added bonus” of being part of the MARCH ON ULTIMATUM, though I’m still not entirely sure what that means besides having a really ugly banner along the top.

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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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