Funnybook Babylon

August 1, 2010

A Letter from Superboy #26: Fandom Still Pays

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , — David Uzumeri @ 2:00 am
From Superboy #26

From Superboy #26

And they say Geoff Johns doesn’t do long-range planning.

May 13, 2010

FBBP #125 – Geoff! Jeff! Jeff!

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 9:57 am

The Funnybook Babylon Podcast is back at full power and looking at a trio of books written by a trio of homophonic dudes!

Yes, This is Being Published: Brightest Day #1 (DC) by Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi and a Big Bag of Artists

Underground (Image Comics) by Jeff Parker & Steve Lieber (collected edition out this week)

Sweet Tooth Volume 1: Out of the Woods (DC/Vertigo) by Jeff Lemire (collected edition also out this week)

This was a happy accident, the Trio of [Geo/J]effs, and one we may follow up on in the future. What show would you guys like to see? The Briancast? The Petercast? The Sarahcast? The Bongcast? Let us know!

April 9, 2010

Avenging the Week, pt. 1 – The Origin Story

Do not imagine yourself a caretaker of any tradition, an enforcer of any party standards, a warrior in an ideological battle, a corrections officer of any kind. Never, never try to put the author “in his place,” making him a pawn in a contest with other reviewers. Review the book, not the reputation. Submit to whatever spell, weak or strong, is being cast. Better to praise and share than blame and ban. The communion between reviewer and his public is based upon the presumption of certain possible joys in reading, and all our discriminations should curve toward that end.

-John Updike

Hello. The quotation above is reflective of what I’d like to do with this column. It’s an idealized view of criticism that I plan to strive for in this this column. I expect to fail on a pretty regular basis, but it’s always important to have a goal. The plan? A weekly review and potpourri/linkblogging with commentary column. Warning: Spoilers below.

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July 29, 2009

FBBP #106 – Blackest Night Reviewed

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , — Chris Eckert @ 10:01 pm

The Dead Shall Rise!When there is no more room in Hell, the Summer Crossover will walk the Earth! DC’s Blackest Night has begun, the culmination of Geoff John’s multi-year run on Green Lantern. It’s everyone who’s alive fighting everyone who’s dead! Plus some people with different colored rings fighting too! Does it deserve a less reductive description? Listen and learn!

April 8, 2009

Building versus Writing: Geoff Johns, Hal Jordan, Barry Allen and the Rebirth

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 4:40 pm
Flash: Rebirth #1

Flash: Rebirth #1

I was pretty optimistic when I picked up Flash: Rebirth #1 out of the stack. It’s a hefty volume, and I’ve enjoyed almost everything Johns has done since the epic career misstep that was Infinite Crisis, so my expectations were pretty much that I’d at least thoroughly enjoy it – I mean, I’m the target audience here, right? A DCU fan who’s never really read a Barry story, enjoyed his return in Final Crisis, enjoyed Green Lantern: Rebirth, and has a considerable predilection towards epic, whacked-out stories of spacetime travel anchored by metaphor and human emotion. Which is largely what Johns has been doing in Green Lantern, taking the seemingly irrelevant character of Hal Jordan and integrating him into this very post-9/11 superhero parable about the importance of standing ideological and emotional ground and not buckling in to fear. It certainly faltered at times, and Johns’s flair for the bombastic sometimes got in the way of his character arcs, but Green Lantern: Rebirth and the arcs following it clearly did an effective job elevating the Green Lantern mythos into a story that resonated with a lot of people for any number of reasons. It sold a lot of copies, it got a lot of good reviews, and it really raised Johns’s game.
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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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November 2, 2008

Dissecting the Anatomy Lesson: Everyone Wants To Be Alan Moore

Over in a comment thread to Jeff Lester’s recent (and very funny) review of Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns, Chad Nevett points out that

it seems every hero that was unique and alone in the past five years has discovered “Oh no, there are tons of you guys!” Kind of lame.

It hadn’t really hit me on the head until now just how much this is true, and where the whole twist comes from. While the DC Universe has always honored and integrated the concept of the known legacy, the unknown or unexpected legacy has become a frequently used element in a lot of recent (like, past ten to twenty years) superhero comics. You know what I mean: that story where the hero finds out, or hasn’t thought about and is now forced to deal with, the fact that he’s not unique, and that many of his presuppositions and assumptions about his identity were askew or outright false.

We’ve seen it a few times in recent years:

  • The Last Iron Fist Story in Immortal Iron Fist
  • The current New Krypton arc in the Superman titles
  • The Spider-Totem legacy in J. Michael Straczynski’s Amazing Spider-Man
  • The Speed Force legacy in Mark Waid’s Flash
  • The emotional spectrum and rainbow Lanterns in Geoff Johns’s Green Lantern
  • Any fucking story that tries to deal with Hawkman’s origin
  • The current Last Stand of the Spirits of Vengeance story in Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider
  • The end of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men with the Phoenix
  • Possibly Batman R.I.P. with the threat of ultimate betrayal and the commentary about Gotham being “a machine to make Batman”

I’m sure there are tons more I’m not thinking of; isn’t Ron Marz doing stuff like this in Witchblade? It was used pretty early on in Spawn, I think. Either way, the point is this: guys, the shocking twist in Alan Moore’s “The Anatomy Lesson” from Saga of the Swamp Thing #21 rules. I think we all know that; it totally pulled the rug out from under the reader in every conceivable way, and used that as a springboard to redefine the scope and themes of the book from a horror story to a space-spanning Gothic romance, and significantly increased the stakes of Swamp Thing’s actions and significance.

But along with its kissing cousin the Story Where The Hero Disappears and Similar Dudes Take His Place, it’s been sorely, sorely, sorely overused over the years, and is now gaining speed like the Terence McKenna timewave into some sort of singularity of plot twist reuse. Hell, Geoff Johns even managed to make it work with Green Lantern – back in the ’90s, when every superhero was stuffing their ranks with variations and refractions on themselves like a hot dog vendor trying to meet a product variance statistic, “holy shit, there are MORE of them!” didn’t mean anything for Green Lantern because, well, there already were more of him, so they just inverted the twist and killed them all off. Johns, on the other hand, just employed lateral thinking – instead of the twist being that there are more Green Lanterns than Hal Jordan, it’s that there are more Lantern Corps than the Green Lanterns.

I mean, it’s a cool story, and I greatly enjoy every comic I just named above, and will hopefully continue to do so now that I’ve realized the reliance on this thread. And there are tons of stories that are nothing like this, from Secret Invasion to All Star Superman (although it had some elements of it), but it’d be nice to see more people try to come up with the next “The Anatomy Lesson” than just trying to tap into it (where consciously or unconsciously).

September 30, 2008

Pull List Analysis for October 1, 2008

I figured we might try doing these again. Here are some potentially interesting books hitting the shelves tomorrow!

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June 18, 2008

Long Summer Days

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 2:24 am

Wow, I haven’t written anything in a while. I need to adopt Dave’s work ethic, but work is all consuming at the moment. Since I missed the recording of the podcast this week (a compelling discussion of the Bill Jemas era at Marvel), I decided to put some thoughts together in a typically long-winded (and hopefully somewhat coherent) fashion. Come join me for the DC Pile-on!

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May 16, 2008

“Last Son” – A Sentimental Journey

A little over two years ago, DC launched their “One Year Later” revamp/relaunch, with a year-long weekly series 52 as its centerpiece. Layout artist Keith Giffen described the book’s appeal to fans:

I call [it] the NASCAR book, because nobody goes to a NASCAR race to watch the cars go around in circles. You go for the crash. You hope for that blistering, horrifying crash. People are going to be watching 52, waiting for us to screw up… it’s not going to happen.

And he was right; people came to 52 looking for blood, but the series never “crashed” off its weekly schedule and was generally well-liked. Its weekly successor, Countdown [to Final Crisis] may have not been as successful or well-liked, but no one could argue that it wasn’t on time! But while both 52 and Countdown kept running on time, these bastions of punctuality served as a smokescreen for the fiery wreckage that was DC’s Demolition Derby of Scheduling, a/k/a “Pretty Much Every Non-Weekly Book DC Published”. A lot of books have had production problems in the past two years, but when the history books are written the “Last Son” storyline in Action Comics will likely go down as The Didio Era’s biggest disaster. And trust me, there have been plenty of other candidates.
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April 16, 2008

FBBP #53 – Superman’s Foreign Policy Regarding Tensions between Tehran and Kandor

This week we talk Criminal #2, The new Howard Zinn comic book, and Pedro comes clean about JSA. Chris got his hands on some preview copies of some Minx Books, and relates his experiences.

We also have a deeper conversation of the about the ign Geoff Johns interview, and I ask “Why should we care?” This inevitably goes into the continuous continuity conversation.

Bringing in a topic that me and Jamaal usually have everyday over beers, this Superman foreign policy article made the rounds of the podcast.

Finally we wrapped up with a discussion of Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker’s decision to leave Iron Fist, and the implications of short vs. long runs on title characters.

March 13, 2008

FBBP #48 – Secrets of the Costume Party

This week we discussed new books from David Lapham and Terry Moore, Darwyn Cooke’s new New Frontier, Jamaal’s take on Stabby X-Men (a.k.a. X-Force, and more! Plus, a discussion of Michael Chabon’s great article in The New Yorker .

Podcast Notes after the jump:

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February 27, 2008

Pull List Reviews for 2/27/08

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 5:33 pm

This… is going to be long.

Before I begin, this week has three Ed Brubaker books, two Geoff Johns books, two Mike Carey books, a Mark Millar book, a Brian Michael Bendis book, a Greg Rucka book, a Grant Morrison book, a Frank Miller book, and a Jeff fucking Smith book. The new releases shelf is a dizzying array of talent this week.

All Star Batman & Robin #9All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder #9: This is a really fantastic comic that, with this issue, really starts to show its range. As a matter of fact, I’d say this issue serves as a good breather after eight issues of high-octane insanity – but not before the first half of the issue, which, as anyone who’s checked out the preview can attest, is one of the funniest scenes in recent memory and certainly cements this Batman as an updated version of his trickster self from the Silver Age. The second half starts off like a record stopping, as the book changes mood dramatically in a way that’s perfectly consistent and finally brings some humanity to these loonies after Batman has a much-needed moment of clarity. It’s taken a while to get there, but this is easily in the pantheon with Miller’s other Batman work.

Action Comics #862: The highlight of this Legion arc so far as a few issues I had were brought to the surface, especially the fact that the whole Legion-reject thing was kind of dickish of the Legion, as well as Gary Frank continuing to settle in and get comfortable and typically cool (without being senseless) action that you’d expect from Geoff Johns. Not a masterpiece, but better than basically anyone’s come to expect from a monthly Superman comic.

Batman #674Batman #674: Tony Daniel has improved immensely over his stay on this title, and Sandu Florea’s inks raise the game as well. I’m a huge fan of Daniel’s creepy new depiction of Bat-Mite, who Morrison is reintroducing brilliantly. Anyone who’s read the recent Newsarama interview knows just how much thought Grant has put into Batman’s life and character, and that love and understanding oozes from every pore of this page to the point where my only complaint is that it almost might be too jarring and confusing for non-longtime Batman fans. It certainly has more impact if you’ve read all the wacky ’60s shit it’s referencing. That said, it’s a fantastic issue that continues to raise the bar on this run. (more…)

January 9, 2008

Hits off the Source, Part Two: Hyper-Crimes in Hyper-Time with Superboyman-Prime

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 3:59 am

In August 2002, on the middle of his run on New X-Men, Grant Morrison did an interview with the always-insightful Sequential Tart that had what was, at the time, a discussion of a project unlikely to see the light of day. The entire excerpt is relevant to this discussion, so see below:
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May 13, 2007

FBBP #11 – 52 Fallout

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , — Funnybook Babylon @ 1:57 pm

This week’s podcast presents a late-night Modelo-and-bourbon-fueled discussion of DC Comics’s 52, breaking down our thoughts on the recently completed series as we yell at each other in the Mighty Marvel FBB Manner!. This episode is in STEREO, so tell us if you like this format better, or if you’d prefer smaller file sizes.

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