Funnybook Babylon

January 24, 2012

FBBP #138 – Daredevil Discourse with David Brothers

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , — Chris Eckert @ 10:00 am

We’re joined this episode by David Brothers, and he brought with him a classic Marvel run: Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr. on Daredevil!

This isn’t the gritty noir Daredevil modern readers have grown to expect:

It contains a critique of factory farming!
dd-pigs

Philosophical (and physical) fights about feminism! (And DD joking!)
dd-feminism

The Inhumans! (And philosophical fights about societal ethos!)
dd-gorgon

Ultron!! (And fights about the notion of free will and perfection!)
dd-ultron

And that’s before everyone literally Goes to Hell.
dd-demons

It’s an awesome read, though the issues we dug up to discuss (DD #270-282) are largely out of print. That shouldn’t stop you from seeking them out of the back issue bins, or reading the earlier part of this epic run collected in Typhoid Mary and Lone Stranger. A decent portion of the run is also up on Marvel’s Digital Store.

This is a long one, but chock full of things to discuss: we drifted off into conversations about the heady topics hinted at above, the terrible implications of Inhuman society, why Quicksilver is better as a turbo-dick, Alan Moore’s Supreme, recent issues of Secret Avengers, and Nocenti’s upcoming run on Green Arrow.

Coming up: more podcasts! Got something (or someone) you think we should have on the show? Let us know in the comments.

January 27, 2010

FBBP #122 – 2009 in Review

In our first podcast of 2010, FBB looks back in love, not in anger at 2009. For regular listeners, our favorite books are pretty easy to guess, but we try to throw some praise at some unsung funnybooks too.

Will we remain so positive all year? Are there still ring giveaways coming up? The two are likely related in some diffuse way.

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

March 9, 2009

Page Appreciation: David Aja and a Damn Amazing Piece of Storytelling from Daredevil #116

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 10:39 am

Gonna go ahead and say it: David Aja is the best thing to happen to comic book art since J.H. Williams III.

His technical and formal inventiveness is off the goddamn charts, and recently my co-Savage-Critic-ite Tucker Stone brought up what was a really damn great piece of storytelling from last week, Ed Brubaker and David Aja’s Daredevil #116. He liked it a lot, but he omitted one portion, one page that blew the brain out of my head and really made me want to contribute to the panel/page dissection initiated by those geniuses over at Mindless Ones – this little masterpiece. I’ve cut out the narration for the purposes of both avoiding spoilers and focusing purely on the art.
(more…)

October 22, 2008

Pull List Analysis for October 22, 2008

It’s a big week for known quantities at Marvel and DC, as their respective Summer Blockbusters stretch into sweaterweather.

finalcrisis4

After last week’s Rogues’ Revenge and Legion of Three Worlds tie-ins, the fourth issue of the core Final Crisis title by Grant Morrison and JG Jones (and Carlo Pacheco, and Doug Mahnke… what up’s, Jonesy?) drops, its “gap month” extended to ten weeks. We’re also getting Submit, a one-shot by Grant Morrison and Matthew Clark. David will be stepping up with annotations later today.

(more…)

December 18, 2007

Random Bits and Pieces

They are owned by huge, creativity-deadening corporations and operated by lawyers and marketing executives who lord over the worst creative decline I have witnessed in a long time, particularly in films. In television, companies like GE view properties like NBC the way realtors view square footage. GE does not care what is on NBC. So long as the programming is relatively inoffensive, they want to earn as much per square foot as they can.
Alec Baldwin

It’s a slow, slow time in the comics blogosphere, so when I decided to take a break from writing memos and preparing for meetings, I had to write about some completely random things. Two of them are related and all are tangentially connected to the comics industry.

1. Newsarama posted the first part of a wide-ranging interview with Paul Levitz, publisher of DC Comics, about the state of the company. Some interesting quotes:

In response to Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited program:

I wish Marvel well with it. I hope they’ve figured out something that a bunch of fans like at a price that the fans find appropriate, and that it’s a workable model for them. If it is, we’ll certainly look hard at it over time.

I think we have a few different views of the area than Marvel, one is if we’re going to do something where we’re distributing our material online, then we would certainly want to have figured out how the talent was going to participate in revenues that we were going to make. And that’s an extraordinarily complicated nightmare. If you set out to say…we’ve published probably 40,000 comic books in the course of our history…so if in one extreme you sat there and said, “I’m going to put 40,000 comic books online for people to read, the prospect of sorting the rights out for that, writing checks to the talent is pretty nightmarish.

This brings two things to mind. The obvious one is that I think that Levitz should hold company workshops on communicating a message to the media. He’s saying things designed to resonate with every audience. If you’re a fan, he implies (in his discussion of the administrative difficulties) that when DC figures out an online initiative, it is less likely to limit the amount of material available to the degree that Marvel has. If DC wanted to release limited portions of its archives for an online service, working out talent payments would not be particularly overwhelming. I would imagine that a publisher would be able to track the number of people who are accessing particular issues/runs, and develop some kind of pricing system. If you’re a creator, he’s telling you that DC will not take any rash actions before figuring out your compensation.

His patience and deliberation could also be seen as a positive for management/shareholders (to the extent they know that DC is part of Time Warner).

There’s no question that people are willing to read some comics online if they don’t have to pay for them. The question is: does anybody have a value proposition where a reasonable number of people are willing to pay for them? Will people ultimately want it all to be ad-supported, which seems how most online entertainment is being delivered these days? And is there an ad-supported methodology that makes sense for flat comic book pages?

Owners/managers of traditional i/p companies don’t want to hear about non-monetized technical innovation. The truth is, that on some basic level, no one knows whether online ad support is or will be sufficient to fully replace present revenue from print ads. In the end, we all know that it’ll have to, but that’s in the future. Managers want to keep their job now. Shareholders want a return in the next few months. This kind of hard-nosed skepticism is great for them.

His responses are also candy to the media:

NRAMA: Has DC done any kind of study or estimate in regards to how much money it feels it has lost due to online piracy?

PL: I haven’t a clue.

This is the kind of ‘honesty’ that makes journalists wet. If you don’t believe me, look at John McCain. Phony straight talk is like manna to the media.

But the more interesting, less obvious point made in the interview is this:

If you set out to say…we’ve published probably 40,000 comic books in the course of our history…so if in one extreme you sat there and said, “I’m going to put 40,000 comic books online for people to read, the prospect of sorting the rights out for that . . . is pretty nightmarish

I read a good article a couple of weeks ago about this, but I assumed that since Time/Warner employed so many attorneys, someone would have been working on this. It’s kind of sad.

2. Dick Hyacinth was right about the Trader Joe’s Gorgonzola Walnut Tortellini. It is really good, especially for a Lazy Man’s dinner.

3. Tom Brevoort on the Marvel Creative Retreat:

For the next 48 hours, we’ll be brainstorming on the overall direction of the future of the Marvel line, from the end of 2008 and the climax of SECRET INVASION well into 2009 and beyond. There are a bunch of ideas and plans already buzzing through the halls, but inevitably everything is going to change before our metting time is done. The only real certainty is that there’ll be some moment somewhere within the two days when I’ll change color.

Like in the past, it’ll be an interesting combination and collision of any number of creative mindsets, and virtually nobody’s storylines will escape completely unscathed–but hopefully better for having come through the experience. For myself, the two big areas of interest will be in getting to know Matt Fraction, who’s been doing some outstanding work lately, and who’s really a guy to watch, and spending some time picking the brain of Allan Heinberg, who’s one of the best guys in the business when it comes to breaking stories and making sure that character motivations and reactions remain true to the characters. This is the first Marvel summit that either of these guys has attended, so it’ll be interesting to see how they interact with the rest of the group (and how the group functions without Mark Millar or J. Michael Straczynski in the room this time, both of whom had other commitments that prevented them from attending.)

This is the moment when the future gets decided, so look for updates as things progress.

Even though I like quite a bit of what Marvel publishes, and think that the quality of the writing, art, and editing has undergone an amazing improvement since the 80’s – ’90’s, these kinds of corporate retreats kind of make me nauseous. The older I get, the more my enjoyment of comics is connected to an appreciation of the craft and creativity that goes into them (1). I really don’t care about the strategy and the coordination. When I read Bendis’ Daredevil, Brubaker’s Captain America, or Pak’s Incredible Hulk, I’m interested in their work, and not its relationship to an intricate larger universe. I guess that the shared universe aspect of the genre (at least as practiced by the Big Two) doesn’t really appeal to me anymore. Or maybe it’s just that I used to work for a big corporation, and got cheery e-mails like this for company retreats that made me want to stick pencils in my eyes.

(1): I wouldn’t say that this is a maturity issue, just a personal one. There’s nothing worse than when people link maturity to appreciation of a genre. You didn’t ‘grow out’ of it, you just stopped liking it. And there is a real difference.

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