Funnybook Babylon

December 23, 2008

Remember That Secret Invasion Comic?

I know I’ve been hip deep in the Distinguished Competition’s “summer” event for a while, and I apologize to the House of Ideas. (I won’t even bring up everybody else; I’m still a goddamn troglodyte making my way through 100 Rooms in the first Maggie the Mechanic trade, so please speak to me in short sentences with easy words, I’m a bit slow.)

So – Secret Invasion! The epic culmination of Brian Michael Bendis’s years-long epic, building since Secret War and possibly all the way back to Alias! I remember being pretty goddamn excited when the first issue hit, and thinking it was a pretty great detonator for a summer crossover. Hell, I liked it to the point where I wrote an article about some of the Internet reaction to it that made Kevin Church hate me forever. I remember saying, and I can pretty thoroughly regret this now, “I have no idea how Final Crisis can possibly match this level of high-octane excitement.”

Why was I excited? Because what Bendis promised, and what I really, honestly expected to receive, was (I mean, he had eight issues to do this!) a fairly decent and smart balance of high-octane superheroic mass violence and reflection on what happens when our planet is invaded by a bunch of dudes who thoroughly believe they are correct and just and don’t come anywhere close to sharing a moral or ethical worldview with us.
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October 29, 2008

FBBP #77 – A Spidery Meta-Argument About a Single Panel

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 3:40 pm

Joe has returned from Korea to talk to Chris, Jamaal, and Pedro about Secret Invasion, Final Crisis, and the rumors that have been floating around the blogoverse. It’s followed it up with what was supposed to be a short discussion of Amazing Spider-Man #574, but became a long drawn out argument. Listeners Beware. Shockingly, Pedro comes in as the voice of reason. It is a troubling harbinger of the apocalypse.

As a side note: The new editors page is up with easier ways to contact us.

October 26, 2008

Managing the Event: Then and Now

Here in the Year of Superhero Event Comics, we’ve by this point become pretty accustomed to the yearly cycle. Every year there’s a point where all the books in a shared universe intersect and stake a common ground, then separate again for a while, then come together the next year. Events have stopped merely being important simply for the sake of providing a sales tentpole; the event comic has become the glue that holds a shared universe together. Every year, something big happens that affects everybody, and this provides a framework whereby the different stories can coalesce and characters can touch base while also providing most writers and books the ability to simply continue with their own stories if they so desire.

We’re seeing two very structurally different events right now – Final Crisis takes place in a time period entirely separate from the rest of DC’s line (with the exception of Green Lantern). Reading Batman or Superman or Checkmate, you’d have absolutely no idea that there’s a Crisis on if not for the house ads. While every book staking a common ground has been hinted as occurring after this event, for the most part, it’s entirely self-contained, not unlike Morrison’s previous Seven Soldiers. By virtue of this, its structure is small – a main series, two ancillary series that so far seem more like they’re pushing their respective writer’s ongoing DC Universe plots than really interacting with Morrison’s story, and a handful of oneshots (including the cleft-in-two Superman Beyond). And an unofficial #35.5 of Green Lantern, and a three-issue build-up to Flash: Rebirth (not to knock Rogues’ Revenge, it was awesome, and it was greatly informed by Final Crisis, but it didn’t in any way seem to really inform the main narrative itself). This tight and controlled creative approach has led to many people calling it the “arthouse” take on an event; while it certainly matches previous Crises in scale, it’s paced like a horror movie and I really can’t imagine any logical way ongoing books could have been tied into this without getting, well, completely fucked up.
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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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September 28, 2008

New New Avengers Lineup Leaked! Spoilers!

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 10:12 pm

Yeah, apparently the full roster and cover for the post-Secret Invasion New Avengers has been leaked thanks to what I assume is the Dynamic Forces section of Previews.

Kevin Huxford, eat your heart out. (I know I said I hated spoilers, but this lineup makes me so excited I can’t contain myself.)

LO! BELOW! (more…)

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!

August 16, 2008

Fun with Solicitations: DC Spoils the Crap Out of Their Books

A message board several FBBers frequent has been embroiled in a debate about what constitute “spoilers”: many posters feel like if something is revealed by official company promotional material (Nick Fury’s “Secret Warriors” will survive Secret Invasion and receive their own book, Darkseid successfully takes over Earth in Final Crisis, Character X will be appearing soon in Title Y) then those plot points don’t really constitute “spoilers”. Usually this sort of thing doesn’t constitute a “twist” or whatever, and so these topics are fair game for discussing upcoming comics. But DC seems determined to test this assumption with their November solicitations, as seen on Newsarama. So be warned, “spoilers” after the jump:

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May 15, 2008

FBBP #58 – Political Crossover

After the blockbuster Iron Man talk of episode 57, we return to the niche market of comics.

First up, we talk the Egyptian Comics Confiscationissue and the general lack of interest on the part of the blogalaxy.

Now, DC Decisions, there’s a story bloggers can sink their teeth into! Who will Superman vote for? Which senators are in the pocket of Big Meta? Judd Winick and Bill Willingham will give you the scoop this fall!

Finally, we try to shake off politics by talking Secret Invasion and its tie-ins. Wait, SI is a political allegory too? Damn you! Damn you, Election Year!

What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Infiltration?

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , — Funnybook Babylon @ 8:00 am

Hey all. Most of you will not know who I am, and shame on you. I’ve made a brief appearance during the NYCC podcasts, but the Secret Invasion has inspired me to actually write an article to help you all figure out whom to trust. So I took a break from drinking (ok, that’s a lie, there’s a scotch by my side), and would like to share some observations. I’ve been re-reading nearly all of Brian Michael Bendis’s Marvel comics from the past few years. While some series have been mostly dead ends (Alias, I’m looking at you, though it was nice to re-read it, just because it’s a good series), New Avengers and Mighty Avengers are, as expected, chock full of clues.

Veranke plans to replace Jessica Drew in NA #40

At first, some people seem to think that the ending of New Avengers #40 is misdirection. In a flashback, it shows Skrull Princess Veranke planning to infiltrate Earth disguised as Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman. But since it’s not explicitly shown that she does replace Drew, it does not necessarily indicate that Spider-Woman is a Skrull. It could simply be misdirection. I hate to be the bearer of bad news (ok, that’s another lie), but it’s not misdirection. “Spider-Woman” is a Skrull. I would like to point first at New Avengers #30. Most of the team is suspicious of Clint Barton, (who was thought to have died in “Disassembled”, and was apparently resurrected in House of M, as shown in New Avengers#26), and Dr. Strange casts a spell to prove that Barton is indeed who he says it is.

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March 4, 2008

FBBP #47 – A Date with Doctor Doom

Caution: The Funnybook Babylon Podcast contains mature language and content.

[00:00] :
Chris Eckert’s open letter to the New York Comic Con. He advocates the new FBB con dress code. – For further details view this educational clipmirror.

[03:50] :

This is the greatest idea that this podcast has formed.

Image provided by 4th letter‘s Hoatzin.

We expose the next big Marvel book spinning out of Secret Invasion. You better get your duct tape, Internet, cause we broke you like we were Iverson.

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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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