Funnybook Babylon

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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January 23, 2009

Waited for the Trade: Spider-Man – New Ways to Die

New Ways to Die Cover
Spider-Man: New Ways to Die
collects Amazing Spider-Man #568-573
written by Dan Slott & Mark Waid
art by John Romita Jr. & Adi Granov
Marvel Comics

Fair warning: This review contains some spoilers, but nothing that will really ruin your enjoyment of the story. Be forewarned.

I’m in love with Harry Osborn. Not the Harry Osborn of the movies, although James Franco is a pretty funny guy. Not even the old Harry Osborn, the one who died back in 1993. I was seven when that story happened; I bought the comic because it had a shiny cover but the greater significance of it was totally lost on me. Catching up on Spider-Man through Essential volumes has given me a greater grasp on the character, but to be perfectly frank, old Harry pales in comparison to the current Harry written by Dan Slott.

He’s a nuanced character now, with fully realized relationships with Norman Osborn (another resurrected villain), Peter Parker, Spider-Man (in a completely different sense than his relationship with Peter) and the rest of the supporting cast. If you haven’t been following Amazing Spider-Man for the past few years this probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but stay with me.

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January 16, 2009

Waited for the Trade: X-Force v1 – Angels and Demons

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , — Matt Jett @ 3:22 pm

Spinning out of the events of Messiah Complex, X-Force follows a “black ops” team of X-Men, tasked with missions other mutant superheroes would find morally compromising. These missions invariably end up being incredibly violent, as X-Force is the sort of superhero team that doesn’t stick to the standard “no killing” type of heroics. The philosophy of the team (and the marketing of the title) is probably best summed up by the fact that Marvel issued variant covers for the first few issues that were simply changed to be much, much bloodier than the standard covers.
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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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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

eab1 1 sbl

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 24, 2008

Minx Post Mortem: New York Four

Filed under: Blurbs,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 3:12 pm

You might be fooled if you come from out of town.
Snoop Dogg

9578_400x600Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly
New York Four
Minx

New Yorkers born in the outer boroughs live in a city unfamiliar to newcomers (in my mind, newcomers are people who’ve lived here for less than thirty years) and most native Manhattanites. To some, it’s a lost dystopia, a place where risk and uncertainty have been replaced by bland commercialism. To others, it’s not a unified city at all, but a loose collection of insular neighborhood tribes. You’ll hear a lot of different visions of New York from natives, but the one you’re least likely to hear from them is the one presented by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly in their contribution to the defunct Minx line, The New York Four.

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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 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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August 29, 2008

FBBP #69 – Explicit Invasion

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , — Funnybook Babylon @ 2:01 pm

Jon, Pedro, Chris, and Joe got together on Wednesday to discuss the current status of Marvel’s (not-so) Secret Invasion.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend!

March 5, 2008

White Tiger

Filed under: Blurbs,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — Pedro Tejeda @ 8:41 pm

Don’t let the art trick you. This book is no good.
Tamora Pierce, Timothy Liebe, Phil Briones, Al Rio
White Tiger: A Hero’s Compulsion
Marvel Comics

White Tiger isn’t a little bad, or a book that was marred with a few missteps. It is an outright handbook on how not to write a superhero comic. It seems to relish in a obscene number of cameos that will confuse new readers as to who these characters are and confound old readers who wonder why these guest stars are appearing so out character. It switches between a hyper compression and decompression, never finding a comfortable pace to tell its story. The first 3 issues are semi packed with story, but the next two issues meander into page wasting cameos that force way too much story in the last issue. I won’t even get how offensive the resolution to the story is. The story takes everything unique and special about the character and her nemesis from the Daredevil arc that introduced them and replaces them with cliches and stereotypes. I feel that Pierce and Lieber thought since they were writing a comic, they wrote what in their minds they imagine comics are supposed to be like, full of hokey dialogue, awful and nearly racist characterization and bad plots. I can’t fathom how a book that misses the quality increase in the superhero medium over the last 10 years could spin out of the definitive series of the era. This book is only worth picking up in singles out of the dollar bin for anyone who loves train wrecks or for any writer entering comics from another media. To the latter, if you find this story to be competently written, go back to writing CSI and leave comics alone.

This didn’t even happen the way it did in the other book, and that’s one of the least awful things in the book.

Preview available here.

August 21, 2007

The War Zone is Everywhere

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 1:19 pm

Notes of a War Story
Notes of a War Story, produced by Gipi, and translated by Spectrum. Notes is published by First Second Publishing, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, and was originally published as Appunti per una storia di guerra in 2004 by Coconino Press.

Gipi doesn’t tell the kinds of stories that I usually enjoy in comic books. I tend to be a reader obsessed with information and detail, but that is not Gipi’s concern. Garage Band, the first book of his that I read, focused on atmospherics and minor character moments that were used to propel a plot that barely existed. At the same time, it was a revelatory experience. Gipi provided an insight into the interior lives of the characters in a way that I was unused to in comic books. With that experience, I highly anticipated his next work. As expected, the art is brilliant. Gipi’s work is deceptively simple, using relatively few strokes to create distinct and expressive characters.

Notes of a War Story is ostensibly the story of a group of friends coming of age in the midst of an unnamed European war taking place in an anonymous Balkan nation. The lack of specificity, in time or place, gives the book a allegorical, dream-like quality. The group of three boys is broken down into some familiar archetypes: the sycophant (Christian), the overly aggressive proto-criminal (Stefano, the Little Killer), and the bourgeoisie wayward one (Giuliano), who is our protagonist. The first two are representative of the lower class, both poor, one subjected to emotional (and probably physical) abuse. The third illustrates the middle class, the kid who grows up with a lawn and a bed. Of course, the crazy one is the leader, which sets in motion a series of events that culminate in a set of life changing choices for all three.
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August 15, 2007

FBBP #24.5 – Fun Home Review

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , — Funnybook Babylon @ 3:47 pm

Our review of the critically acclaimed Fun Home.

I’ve spent the morning dealing with, the post office, my landlord, and the housing commission so I don’t really have any smart quips for you all, they’ve stolen a bit of my soul.

So, here you go…

The file is back up…

July 7, 2007

MoCCA Reviews – First Second Books pt. 1 – Deogratias – A Tale of Rwanda

Every once in a while, I’m reminded of why comic books are one of the few mediums that I cherished as a child that I still love with the same fervor today. I stopped playing video games when I was ten, stopped caring about anime when I was sixteen, and only have an occasional interest in television. For me, comics are a unique form of storytelling that allows the reader to rely on his/her own imagination to propel the story and develop character, and that achieves an economy in storytelling (due to its visual elements) that is rare in prose. I forget this too often, especially when most discussions I have about comics are about the minutiae of the lives of super-heroes.

Deogratias

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May 2, 2007

The Unpopular Recommendation

The most recent incarnation of the Exiles

Am I wrong for liking Exiles? It’s one of those marginal books that Marvel releases for no comprehensible reason, except to keep some of their fill-in creators employed.
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