Funnybook Babylon

April 20, 2011

FBBP #134: EisnerWatch: Nick Spencer

Welcome to the New Look, New Technology Funnybook Babylon Podcast, powered by Skype and an overenthusiastic Chris editing the show so we all sound like we’re hopped up on amphetamines!

We’re taking a look at the Eisner nominees, starting with Nick Spencer. We read Morning Glories and Jimmy Olsen and… we apologize to his fans in advance.

Admittedly, we’ve been harsh to early works by creators like Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman before, and later came around to appreciating their talent. Why is this a pattern? We discuss that, pick apart Jimmy Olsen’s musical taste, try to remember what Rules of Engagement was, and much, much more!

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).

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.

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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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September 11, 2007

FBBP #28 – Review: Jason Aaron at Vertigo

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , — Funnybook Babylon @ 11:52 pm

theotherside.jpgThis weekend I was working on a cooking show, Jamaal and Pedro were watching the Flamingos win a championship and Chris was landing in Sunset Park. So we decided to treat you guys to a review recorded a few weeks ago. We discuss two books recent Vertigo titles by Jason Aaron: Scalped The Other Side.Scalped
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