Funnybook Babylon

February 29, 2008

Not Just For Kids: The Best Superhero Comics You Aren’t Reading

Filed under: Articles — Matt Jett @ 8:00 am

The Marvel Adventures imprint is Marvel’s latest attempt to get younger readers to start buying comics, something they don’t do very often these days. The books are set up as sort of an ancillary, less-edgy Ultimate imprint, with new, continuity-free takes on the characters everyone knows and loves, but above all, kid-friendly in content. The existence of the Ultimate imprint doesn’t really hurt the Adventures line. They both serve the same purpose (re-imaginings of classic Marvel characters) but they couldn’t be more different in execution. While the Ultimate books are aimed pretty squarely at either the early teen (Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Fantastic Four) or the late teen (Ultimates 1&2) markets, the MA stuff is for the pre-teen crowd.

The audience dictates the format: one or two issue stories, with the occasional minor subplot that runs through more issues. Marvel realizes that kids aren’t necessarily going to be able to get their parents into a comic book store once a month, so they don’t penalize them by having 6 part storylines that are incomprehensible once they miss an issue.

So what, if anything, about the Marvel Adventures books makes them worth reading to an adult, intelligent comic book audience? First and foremost, the format allows the authors to focus on fun, exciting storytelling. marvel-adventures-spider-man-04-page-17.jpgYou’ve got classic heroes fighting classic villains for 22 pages every month. There’s always a lot of humor in every issue, making the somewhat simple stories forgivable. The fun factor is the real selling point for the line, both for kids and adults. The jokes and subtle nods to Marvel continuity proper fly fast and furious, particularly if you pick up one of Jeff Parker’s issues of MA: Avengers. Where the Marvel Adventures line succeeds and many other all-ages initiatives failed is talent. Many old lines have consisted of, and I’m generalizing broadly here, work that was phoned in by pros who knew they could half-ass the job since 1) the books were aimed squarely at small children and 2) nobody was going to buy the books anyway. This has given all-ages books a pretty bad, but often deserved, reputation of being a sort of comic ghetto, where nothing produced is really worth reading. Marvel has totally turned this stigma around with this line, and it’s largely due to the work of Fred Van Lente, who’s writing two books, Paul Tobin, and the fine people over at Periscope Studio. I’ll weigh the pros and cons of each book after the jump. (more…)

Jeph Loeb Happy Hour: The Red Hulk Revealed!

Filed under: Blurbs — Chris Eckert @ 2:09 am

This is what happens when you decide to start drinking wine while writing Downcounting: crushed by the meaninglessness of it all, your mind wanders and you think, “whatever happened to that Marvel Indie Anthology? Wasn’t James Kochalka doing a Hulk story for it? James Kochalka on the Hulk, that’s a fun comic!” So you Google for it, and find no further information on the anthology (I thought you guys said it was coming out in “late 2007/early 2008!”) but you do find these pages:


Jeph Loeb, you’ve been nicked son! That’s clearly the rage-ohol fueled Red Hulk, and while his eye design has changed, that’s the blue Rick Jones “A-Bomb” Hulkomination too. It’s only a matter of time before White Power Hulk crops up. Probably in issue three, given Loeb’s love of the immediate payoff.

In Loeb’s defense, he’s already gone down the rainbow-colored strong guy road with his “Bloodlines” creation Loose Cannon, so perhaps Kochalka was tapping the same zeitgeist for the Hulk Squad.

Either way Marvel, where is my indie anthology?

February 28, 2008

Hits Off the Source, Part Three: ¡Lucha Libra!

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , — David Uzumeri @ 10:16 am

There have been a lot of new clues since the last time I rapped at y’all, so I’m here to set the record straight and share some insights I’ve had during the March on Road to Countdown to Final Crisis. What have we seen?

For those who missed them:
Hits Off the Source, Part One: Kirby, Evil and the Invisibles
Hits Off the Source, Part Two: Hyper-Crimes in Hyper-Time with Superboyman-Prime

1. The Source exposed in Death of the New Gods #5
tdotng-04-030.jpgWell, a lot of my thinking on Morrison’s faux-manichaean outlook is confirmed in this issue, which basically consists of the world’s first Bond villain speech conducted by a MAYA 3D effect. Good Source is a fickle God and wants to reunite with Bad Source, who’s out there somewhere in the Bleed, to regain full power, unmake the New Gods, and usher in the Fifth World, because he thought the Old Gods were backstabbing douchebags (which, well, they were, but Source doesn’t seem to have a magnetic personality) and the New Gods were kind of pussies. In the comic it’s way more complicated than this, but as far as I can tell, this is the real skinny. It’s also revealed that the Source and the Bleed are two totally separate things, and that the Source Wall always was a total misnomer and actually just ‘holds back’ the Bleed. This isn’t as offensive a retcon as it seems at first because, despite how important to the mythology it’s become, the Source Wall actually isn’t a Jack Kirby invention; believe it or not, you can blame Walter Simonson in, of all things, the Teen Titans/X-Men crossover. It surprised me, too.

We also discovered, despite all logic and silhouettes inserted by artists, that Infinity-Man was not the killer of New Gods; it was, in fact, kindly old Himon! This doesn’t make any sense, and kind of stinks of an Armageddon 2001-esque retcon, but maybe Starlin’s got a fakeout planned. Meanwhile, over in Countdown, Brother Eye ate Apokolips, everyone’s getting iced and I have no idea how this fits in with what’s going on in DONG. There’s a semi-believable theory running around that Solaris from DC One Million is an older Apokolips/Brother Eye hybrid, and I kind of buy it, but it doesn’t seem consistent with established history. (more…)

February 27, 2008

Downcounting – A Guide for the Perplexed: Gutting It Out pt. 2 – Jimmy Olsen

Filed under: Downcounting — Chris Eckert @ 9:00 pm

I’m only delaying the inevitable, putting off the Multiversal stuff. It was the focus of these past couple of months, very much to the expense of some of these other stories. But hey, now they’re all hurtling towards their epic conclusion of shit going down, so let’s check in on everyone’s favorite thirty year old cub reporter, Superman’s Pal…

Jimmy Olsen, Bugfucker!

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…)

Wizard Check: Still Punks

Filed under: Articles — Jonathan Bernhardt @ 8:30 am

You know what’s passé? You know what’s been done? Making fun of Wizard Magazine. Specifically Wizard Online, because fuck if I’m going to shell out bills for a print version.

But sometimes you click a link, and you read a thing, and then you got to write a thing, even though your first reaction is, “Wow, a company dedicated to having a profit margin allowed this to run on their site,” and your second reaction is, “But it’s Wizard. Everyone complains about Wizard. The internet is killing Wizard. They’ll be irrelevant soon enough, and there’ll be no one left to mourn them.”

Here’s what’s up. Wizard does a piece about the top five books with a lead female in comics. The results are predictable:

There’s no shortage of superheroines running through the paneled pages of your favorite monthly fare, but there isn’t an excess of books headlined by the women of the comic world either. We at Wizard know how to treat a lady and it’s about time these titular titles with female leads got their due! We shuffled through stacks of books to bring you five comics headlined by heroines that you really shouldn’t miss, so read the recommendations and then head out and buy the books!


February 26, 2008

Why Do People Say There’s Nothing Interesting About Batwoman?

Filed under: Blurbs — David Uzumeri @ 1:06 pm

9122566.jpgI’ve been embroiled in a discussion on another blog regarding DC’s attitudes towards lesbians and the continuing vaporware of the Batwoman book, which is rapidly becoming the comics industry’s Duke Nukem Forever. The one thing I keep hearing, all the time, is that Batwoman is boring, that she’s a cipher, that she has no personality, that there’s no good reason anyone would want to read a comic about her.

I also hear, fairly regularly, the cynical observation that she only exists as a Bat-character to push a lesbian agenda; or that her sexuality is the sum total of her character. (more…)

Downcounting – A Guide for the Perplexed: Gutting It Out pt. 1 – The Pied Piper

Filed under: Downcounting — Chris Eckert @ 8:00 am

Maaaan, Countdown. I know it’s been forever. I know that there are only nine issues left, and shit is about to go down, I suppose some people might want to know what has happened in the past eleven issues. Half the cast blew up and died, and the other half are all on Apokalips for some reason, and shit is about to go down!

That’s really all you need to know! Come back in May! We good?

…No? Damn. So what have these forty-two issues, these eight hundred and forty-two pages of story, this $125.88 plus applicable taxes and ancillary books established so far? Let’s leave the C-List Monitor Posse and Multiverse Clusterfuck on the table for the moment, what about all our other plotlines that have discovered that All Roads Lead to Apokalips?

The Pied Piper was shocked to discover that his homophobic shackle buddy Trickster was brutally murdered by Deadshot. He was even more shocked to discover that their shackle was programmed to self-destruct twenty four hours after either prisoner was killed. What possible purpose did this feature have? Why, to have someone in a book called Countdown yell:



February 25, 2008

Forget JLA, I got the next big DC Movie right here.

Filed under: Blurbs — Pedro Tejeda @ 3:11 pm

I was flipping through the previews for JSA on Newsarama. It was cute to see Johns point out that character count on JSA may be a tad bit high, but I was quite in love with this comedic bit featuring Jakeem Thunder, Black Lightning, and Lil’ Lightning (Sparkess?). It was a combination of something straight out of Cosby Show episode, featuring Jakeem dressing and acting like a black kid from the 1980’s.

Look at this.

I wish I had links to video of Trippin’You know, Late 90’s classic starring Deon Richmond.He was Kenny from the Cosby Show. Bud?

I can see it now. Martin Lawrence as Jefferson Pierce, Ray J as Jakeem Thunder, and Raven-Symoné as the other Pierce who isn’t Thunder. Have Tyler Perry produce and you can easily make 30 Mil opening weekend. I’m telling you Warner Bros., don’t miss out on this financial opportunity.

Dear David Lapham: I Have Been Slowly Dying Since 2005, and It’s All Your Fault

Filed under: Articles — Tags: — Jonathan Bernhardt @ 1:19 pm

Podcast is running a bit late (Technical issues? Joe is sick?? I was wondering why you took my JMS crap seriously, Joe, and now I know!), Pedro wanted some words for the web, and since David Lapham put out a comic recently, I’m gonna write about that.

The fifth and final issue of Lapham’s Terror, Inc., a reimagining of the Dan Chichester/Margaret Clark/Klaus Janson creation that graced the pages of titles such as St. George, the 13-issue first volume of Terror, Inc., and Robert Kirkman’s Marvel Team-Up before making its way to the MAX imprint, came out last week, and as far as I know, I’m the only one who noticed. Except maybe David. It was a good series, and it delivered spectacularly on what the MAX line promises its readers. And if you’re not familiar with what goes on with MAX: it’s an imprint that literally owes its continued existence to a Punisher book where Garth Ennis is allowed to do whatever he pleases. Guess. (more…)

Damn DC, why you got to fuck with my favorite books?

Filed under: Blurbs — Pedro Tejeda @ 10:13 am

At first glance, this solicit made me pause.

Written by Will Pfeifer;
Art and Cover by Rafael Albuquerque

Hold me closer, tiny demon! Blue Beetle and Traci 13 are just trying to have a normal date, but when that old black magic kicks up, there can’t be anything normal about it!

However, I have heard John Rogers had plans for another year, so I didn’t give it too much mind. He’s busy doing a TV show and they needed Will for a fill in. Cool as Ice. I don’t love Pfeifer but I do like a bit of his work enough not to mind a little pit stop. It’s not enough to make me drop a book from my pull like the sight of Bruce Jones is.

However, I saw this post.

Sigh. I know it’s for a better gig, but Rogers work on Blue Beetle is one of the few things I love at DC. I heard that I’m not the only one who loves Jaime and what Rogers does on the title, supposedly Geoff Johns is a fan. I wonder if there are any books Johns is leaving soon that may have ties to what Rogers is doing now?

I’ll tentatively keep this on my pull for now and hope it’s one of those situations where editorial lays off instead of leaning hard on him.

February 21, 2008

Pull List Reviews for February 20, 2008

Filed under: Reviews — David Uzumeri @ 12:47 pm

It’s Thursday morning, so here’s the reviews. With no further delay, and more below the jump:

Batman and the Outsiders #4: This book is actually getting more interesting than I initially gave it credit for, although I’m really confused about how this lines up with Countdown (although this is hardly Chuck Dixon’s fault). That said, this is a smart use of Brother I as a continuing villain, and the book’s quality is basically in line with the best of Dixon’s work – it doesn’t blow your mind, but it’s consistent and entertaining and intelligently constructed. Julian Lopez’s art maintains the same quality of the first and third issues.

Brave and the Bold #10: Christ, this book is old-school. Despite the creative heavyweights behind it, I can understand why its sales are sinking – it’s really for people who totally, utterly love bizarre and obscure strands of DC continuity. I understand that it’s supposed to be introductory for these characters, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of the charm is only there if you know the history, the pencils are incredibly busy and the colors are muted and frankly lifeless. I love the book, but I kind of get the feeling that despite Waid’s best efforts, it’s not for everyone. That said, this is a fun issue where the fight against Megistus continues through time and space. The plot is incredibly convoluted, but makes a lot of sense when you put together the pieces – it’s just that that’s really hard to do without a really solid background in DC continuity. I guess I’m torn.

February 19, 2008

Damn DC, why don’t you just cancel the book?

Filed under: Blurbs — Pedro Tejeda @ 6:09 pm

Written by Bruce Jones
Art and cover by Manual Garcia
“Chimera, ” by Bruce Jones (Hulk) and Manuel Garcia (COUNTDOWN) begins! Left for dead on a Middle East minefield, one soldier’s only chance to survive is as a test subject of a dangerous-but-invaluable project run by the Black King. Both the King’s wildest hopes and fears will be realized when the project takes a wrong turn, creating a fighter remarkably well-suited for supernatural battles!
On sale May 21 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

So, swapping out Young Liars for Checkmate. Shoot, is Trautmann busy or something? Bruce Jones? UGH. I got 3 months to warn my guy, but I hope this is just one issue of this guy.

Edit: And it looks like the team that I care for, Rucka, Trautmann, and Bennett are all off. Shit, there is only one thing to do after issue #25….

The Business of Marvel.

Filed under: Blurbs — Joseph Mastantuono @ 2:34 pm

The Marvel shareholder’s conference call was released today, and I decided to take a listen… As a lay person, this is what I gleaned from it:

1) The publishing division is less important (financially at least) than their toy/merchandising division.

2) Interactive is really taking a back burner because…

3) They are betting the farm on Marvel Film Group. To the point of buying out previous licensing deals, which I think they bought back film deals to be able to do it themselves. The self-financing is only going so far, and they are borrowing to pay for post, and the studios are handling the advertising/distribution. They also mentioned “profit participation deals” cutting into profits a bit.

Other things of note. 2009 will only maaaybe have 1 film as opposed to the 2 outlined, due to the writer’s and possible actor’s strike. These possibly include Cap, Thor, Avengers. 2010 should have 2 as their schedule of 2 films per year.

They also mention a few other things, a stock buyback program, and a bullet point that seemed to be re-iterated. They want to be at the helm of all their franchises, and protect themselves from buyouts, which makes perfect sense. Studios have never really had any long term interests (i.e: beyond the sequel) in the longevity of any of these franchises, and therefore could be seen to maximize short-term profits, this was more apparent in the late eighties’ mid nineties, but Ghost Rider, Elektra and Daredevil’s seems like cash-out on capes short-term decisions taken in their developments.

Sounds like Marvel want to change that. However, *if* the Marvel Film Group is a success, what will it mean for the publishing division? What will failures mean? What about the fact that all of these characters are 40-60 years old? Shouldn’t the fact that there aren’t that many new characters coming out of the ranks worry them?

February 18, 2008

FBBP #46 – Baby Historical Figures

Filed under: Podcasts — Funnybook Babylon @ 11:18 pm

Pedro’s out of town, We talk the latest, go over Tiny Titans and discuss the Obits.


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