Funnybook Babylon

July 12, 2012

What’s Going On With Marvel NOW!? Nine Thoughts About October 2012’s solicitations

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , — Chris Eckert @ 6:55 am

Marvel released their October 2012 solicitations earlier this week, with numerous mysterious gaps that will presumably be filled in this weekend at the San Diego Comic-Con. In the meanwhile, here are nine things about the information they did release that I apparently found interesting enough to blog about! These mostly boil down to complaints, but I tried to keep it balanced, and I am interested in reading at least half of the books I discuss. Expect a longer post about double-shipping titles after all the SDCC hoopla dies down. But for now, check out these Covers ‘N’ Comments!

UncannyAvengers 1 Cover

Uncanny Avengers #1: I’m not about to speculate on what will shake out of the Avengers vs. X-Men mega-event, nor am I going to crack wise about putting John Cassaday on a flagship monthly book — his track record shows that he’s one of the more prolific artists to get tagged with the “slow” label — but I do want to comment on one of the eight variant covers announced for the book: the “Deadpool Call Me Maybe” variant by “TBA”. I’m not the target market for variant covers or for Internet Meme Jokes, but I find it amusing that this is clearly a joke someone at Marvel came up with too close to deadline to actually commission the cover before soliciting it. (more…)

May 10, 2012

With Two Left Feet, It’s Hard To Walk The Straight Path

Filed under: Articles,Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 3:00 pm

I. Everybody Talking About Changing the World, the World Ain’t Never Gonna Change

In the summer of 2011, I came up with a plan. I would collaborate with Chris Eckert on a post previewing DC’s relaunch of its line of superhero comics, and write a series of brief posts in subsequent months that would discuss the creative successes and failures of the initiative. I was cautiously optimistic about the initiative in the first few months, despite some early disappointments. Even a month ago, I still cared about five or six of these books. I was going to write a post on Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins’ Wonder Woman and Francis Manapul’s Flash and follow that up with a post on the two stand-out miniseries of the post-relaunch period at DC – Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Jamal Igle’s the Ray and James Robinson’s Shade.

I’m not sure that I can do that anymore without acknowledging my growing concerns about reading books from either publisher. I don’t think I can pretend that controversies about DC’s attitude towards the creators who work on the books it publishes don’t have an impact on whether I will buy (or can recommend) their books.

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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.

February 8, 2011

Offered With Minimal Comment: Marvel Premiere #1

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 11:29 pm
marvel-premiere-001

Marvel Premiere #1 - Roy Thomas & Gil Kane - Marvel Comics, April 1972

Comic Book Hippies were really getting it from all sides, weren’t they?

November 27, 2009

Linkblogging for Black Friday

Welcome to another round of FBB linkblogging, brought to you by your friendly Jamaal. All opinions expressed below are those of the author, and do not reflect the official position of the FBB mob.

(1) True Stories of the Core Marvel Universe , in which Chris Sims points out that the Marvel Universe is wacky! I really like most of Sims’ work, but I don’t see the big deal here. I like the Frankenstein version of the Punisher too, but I think it’s okay if other people don’t. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that a segment of the superhero comics reading audience is obsessed with continuity. I’m not in that crowd, but I don’t begrudge people their preferences.

(2) A great interview with Farel Darlymple conducted by Nick Gazin of Vice Magazine (hat tip to the Beat). Darlymple is a brilliant artist who should definitely get more attention. His new project (“The Wrenchies”) seems pretty intriguing.

(3) A jaw-droppingly great meditation on J.H. Williams III by Charles Hatfield of the Thought Balloonists. You should bookmark their blog.

(4) Two potentially interesting corporate comics stories:

(a) Rich Johnston reports that Marvel is initiating a ‘special character policy’ to prevent intellectual property ownership disputes with creators.

(b) ICv2 notes that some Marvel execs will personally profit from the merger deal when it finally goes through, to the tune of millions of dollars in cash and stock. Tom Spurgeon writes what I think – ‘[t]he system works, sure, but for whom?’

I’d love to see someone explore both of these stories in more detail, especially the first one, which leaves a ton of unanswered questions: What’s are the terms of these Special Character Agreement contract? Does Marvel discourage/encourage creators to consult with attorneys prior to signing? Are any of these terms negotiable?

(5) Read this great interview with Eddie Campbell, conducted by The Rumpus. As always, Campbell’s views on publishing, comics, and art are fascinating to read.

(6) The Onion A/V Club brings you a list of the best comics of the aughts. This article has been poked at a bit for having some gaping holes, but to be fair, these kinds of lists always have some kind of glaring omission. They are always deeply personal, and reflect the evolution of ones’ tastes, expectations, and preferences over a decade. Some of the books that I’d put on my personal list, like Planetary, Authority, or the New Frontier, reflect a period in which I was excited that mainstream superhero comics could tell a truly intelligent story. Others, like Box Office Poison, or Bob Fingerman’s work, represent a time when I was still surprised to read good middlebrow comics. If those comics were published this week, would they still hold a cherished place in my heart? Probably not. But I’d still put them on the list.

With all that said, Heidi MacDonald, Sean Collins and David Pepose are totally correct about the absence of manga. That’s a pretty glaring omission. I’m embarrased to admit that I couldn’t put manga on my list either. Why? Because I don’t read manga, which is the one part of the comics universe that I know almost nothing about. I’ve heard Pluto is brilliant, and plan to start picking up volumes over the winter holiday. Any other suggestions?

Note: I do not like anything that’s even remotely cute.

October 8, 2009

FBBP #115 – Deadpool for President

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 1:50 pm

For nearly twenty years, Deadpool has been a cult favorite Marvel character, beloved on the Internet for his scan-ready quips and pop culture references. But lately — whether it’s because his increased presence in movies and video games, change in market demographics, or just some sort of Yellow Word Balloon Zeitgeist — he’s a bonafide fan favorite, with a third ongoing series forthcoming and his current two series outselling the likes of Superman and Wolverine.
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September 23, 2009

FBBP #113 – The Trouble with Norman

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 8:00 am

With Dark Reign entering a new phase with the release of the first Dark Reign: The List one-shots, the gang looks at Marvel’s recent experiments with telling One Big Story, from Civil War to today. Of special interest in Norman Osborn: is he the Green Goblin, Super-Cheney, or the second coming of Hitler? Marvel’s stable of writers seem to hold different opinions, and we explore them all.

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

September 18, 2009

Jamaal Reviews Amazing Spider-Man #604

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 7:00 pm

Amazing Spider-Man #604Amazing Spider-Man #604
“Red-Headed Stranger pt. 3: The Ancient Gallery”
by Fred Van Lente & Barry Kitson

I’m one of those fans who opposed the One More Day storyline because I think that characters should always be allowed to develop and grow. In the great conflict between those who view mainstream superhero comics as a continuing narrative and those who view them primarily as part of a broader strategy to manage valuable intellectual property, I thought OMD was a victory for the latter camp: a victory of commerce over art. Why? It’s not the decision to end the marriage between the characters of Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson, but the rationales offered, many of which were based on returning to a more ‘classic’ portrayal of the character (that would also make him easier to market and package on different platforms). Although there have been a handful of strong arcs in the months following the “Brand New Day” soft reboot of the Spider-Man family of titles, they only reinforced my ambivalence about the new direction. Dan Slott, Marc Guggenheim, Mark Waid, and Joe Kelly’s fun take on the book would have been equally effective before the reboot. However, with the three-part “Red-Headed Stranger” arc, I think that Fred Van Lente has written a fun, light, compelling story that actually benefits from the new status quo.
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Pedro Reviews Models, Inc. #1

Models, Inc. #1Models, Inc. #1
“Models, Inc. pt1” by Paul Tobin & Vicenc Villagrasa
“Loaded Gunn” by Marc Sumerak & Jorge Molina

Reality television has probably taught me more about modeling and fashion than any other source. Maybe it’s this skewed vision that makes Models, Inc. feel like such a throwback to times past. I feel like Tobin’s story takes place in a world that hasn’t existed in ages. Even though several aspects of the story — like Chili Pepper’s outing — are obviously modern, Villagrasa’s art evokes the Mod 1960s, when the idea of modeling was more fresh, glamorous and fun. The book has none of the eating disorders, fierce competitiveness, or other aspects that seem to populate the seedy underbelly of modern modeling. It’s a decision that fits the tone of the book, even if I wasn’t fully engaged with the plot. I didn’t connect with any of the characters as they felt too light. Only three of the characters seemed to have any conflict and Millie being accused of murder was the only conflict I was remotely interested in. The art itself was adequate, but one of the two inkers was clearly stronger and detailed than the other. I did enjoy Tobin’s dialogue, which kept the characters, especially the models, from being flat. But I’m not sure that’s enough to make me come back to see what happens next.
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September 10, 2009

FBBP #111 – Strange Tales of Corporate Acquisitions

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 1:52 pm

This week’s recording session unexpectedly expanded out to two podcasts, as we discuss the blockbuster announcement of Disney purchasing Marvel! Will Pluto join the Pet Avengers? Will Goofy be denied the same privilege? Will Punisher be forced to practice “Hanuka Matata”? Or will this just be another corporate merger that involves using the word “synergy” as if it were the wizard’s magic word?

Shifting back to empirical reality, we also take a look at Marvel’s Strange Tales anthology, which gives “indie” creators an opportunity to play in the superhero sandbox. Will Johnny Ryan make jokes about bodily functions? Will Peter Bagge slip in creeping references to Libertarianism? Will Nick Bertozzi somehow make M.O.D.O.K. an oddly touching tragic figure? Spoilers: Yes, yes, and yes!

We’ll be back later this week for a characteristically contentious chapter in our Young Liars Trilogy!

August 11, 2009

FBBP #108 – The World’s Greatest?

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 5:42 pm

Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Fantastic Four was meant to return “The World’s Greatest Comics Magazine” to a position worthy of such a lofty byline. The book’s sales didn’t reflect a return to glory — their first issue was the only one to crack the Top Ten, and by the end of their run it was selling less than Dwayne McDuffie and Paul Pelletier’s lead-in issues.

But none of that should matter to people not holding stock in Marvel. The real question is, was it a good read? This week we review Millar and Hitch’s full sixteen issue run. We also take a brief survey of Jonathan Hickman’s forays into the Marvel Universe, as he prepares to take over Fantastic Four later this month.
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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.
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February 13, 2009

Waited for the Trade: Eternals – To Slay a God

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , — Matt Jett @ 8:43 pm

Eternals: To Slay a God
Collects: Eternals #1-6 and Annual
Writers: Charles Knauf, Daniel Knauf, Fred Van Lente, Jack Kirby
Artists: Daniel Acuna, Pascal Alixe, Jack Kirby
Marvel Comics

eternals1

Only slightly delayed due to NYCC!

The works of Jack Kirby are among the most influential ever produced in the comic book industry. He created characters as diverse as the New Gods, the Challengers of the Unknown, the Fantastic Four, and Black Panther, characters that have remained popular until the present day, though some of them have undergone several iterations. Marvel’s most recent re-imagining of Kirby’s work is the Eternals revamp, started by Neil Gaiman in 2006 and continued in their current series by Charles and Daniel Knauf, previously of Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
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January 30, 2009

Waited for the Trade – Doubleshot!

huntress1Huntress: Year One
collects Huntress: Year One #1-6
written by Ivory Madison
art by Cliff Richards
DC Comics

DC’s Year One concept has become something of an institution lately, with everyone from Metamorpho to Two-Face to Green Arrow getting miniseries under its banner, complete with a “Year One” logo. Each series fleshes out the character’s origin, usually by filling in the details of their pre-superheroic life. Huntress: Year One doesn’t deviate from this formula, following Helena Bertinelli from her 21st birthday through her getting the Huntress costume and meeting Batman and his allies for the first time, what seems to be a period of a few months.
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