Funnybook Babylon

July 30, 2008

Text Messaging Is Destroying the Con Report as We Know It

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , — Chris Eckert @ 1:39 am

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Web 2.0 juggernaut as much as the next fellow, and I don’t want to go all Neil Postman/Luddite on everyone but:

The ready access to your text messages, twitters, mobile liveblogging and everything else has deleteriously affected convention reporting. Maybe I’m yearning for a bygone era that never existed, but it’s nearly a week later, and most of the big news sites still have little besides hastily cobbled together “liveblogs” from the San Diego Comicon floor, mixed with a few press-release type interviews. Many intriguing panels, like a creator spotlights on Geoff Johns and Keith Giffen or panels dedicated to imprints like DC’s Minx have apparently been passed over completely. The panels that have been covered have only been given cursory treatment, with on-the-fly reportage lacking context or any apparent copy editing. If congoers did any actual old-fashioned reporting, the type where you take notes and then compose a report that is fact-checked and carefully written, I have yet to see them.


July 29, 2008

FBBP #65 – Universal Resurrections

With Pedro risking his Dominican ass in Boston drinking Incredible Hulks, Chris, Jamaal and Joe discuss The Dark Knight. Seems like we miss having Pedro’s unabashed enthusiasm around, because we don’t really convey how much we all seriously enjoyed this excellent movie.

We also discuss news from the San Diego Comic Con, including two and a half superhero universes getting revived. So, keep your pants on as Chris tries to explain to me what is going on with Milestone, Impact and Image. Ill-informed idle speculation about the current careers of Christopher Priest, Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri and Robert Kirkman included!

July 28, 2008

Superman/Batman FIFTIETH ISSUE SPECIAL! Or, How to Make Money off Art You Already Paid For

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 4:23 pm

I understand DC’s sitting on this artwork, but if I were doing the 50th issue of Superman/Batman, I’d be kind of annoyed if this was the cover treatment the issue got:

Superman/Batman #50 covers

Superman/Batman #50 covers

Hey, these look famili–

Superman/Batman #23 solicited cover

Superman/Batman #27 cover given at announcement of Verheiden/Van Sciver taking over the book

Oh. (Note: Neither of these covers ended up actually being used, hence this.)

SDCC Link Blog News Round Up Extravaganza – What Should You Look Forward To?

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 8:57 am

Even though the San Diego Comic Con is the closest any of us will see to nerd nirvana, there’s also an overwhelming flood of product announcements. Some of these announcements, such as Neil Gaiman on Batman, or Kevin Smith . . . on Batman, have been amply covered by the ‘Big Two’ Comics News sites. Out of all the material that will be released, these are the upcoming releases that I’m most excited about.

BPRD 1947: Joshua Dysart/Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon (Umbrella Academy, Casanova) – This miniseries was announced by Dark Horse during the SDCC Horror Panel, riding on the crest of the success of the sequel to the Hellboy movie and the BPRD 1946 miniseries. According to Scott Allie, the Dark Horse editor overseeing the project, the series will mix some of the themes of the BPRD 1946 series with 19th century gothic horror fiction.

Creepy Magazine: Dark Horse hasn’t announced much about this series, save to note that it will be 48 pages, quarterly, and will basically have the same aesthetic as the classic magazine published by Warren in the 1960’s. This will come out in 2009.

Umbrella Academy 2: Same creative team (Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba), continuation of the popular mini that was released in 2007. I still have to catch up with the first Umbrella Academy, but this seems like something to look out for.

Electric Ant: I’m really excited about this. An adaptation of the Phillip K. Dick classic, it will be written by David Mack, with covers by Paul Pope, and art by Pascal Elixe. I’ve never seen any of Elixe’s work, but the outtakes I’ve seen look very cool. On an upcoming podcast, we express some concern about an overly literal interpretation of the story, which may be somewhat allayed by comments Mack made in a recent interview with Newsarama.

War Machine: This will replace the Iron Man: Director of SHIELD book. Does this mean that Tony Stark will no longer be the Director of SHIELD? I dunno, but it seems to mean that the subtly different perspective on Iron Man in Invincible Iron Man (which seems to be closer to the film version) will become the primary comic-book version of the character. Greg Pak will be writing, which I think is pretty cool, with pencils by Leonard Manco. At the Mondo Marvel panel, this was described as a ‘hardcore’ book, which should be pretty interesting to see, even though I’m more interested in it as a counterpoint to the whole Adam: The Legend of the Blue Marvel crap. Was that too judgmental of me? Time to move on.

Flash Rebirth: The story of Barry Allen’s return and continuing adventures, as told by Geoff Johns and Ethan van Scier. Will it be as good as the Sinestro Corps or will it be as mediocre/navel gazing as Green Lantern: Rebirth? Will Pedro’s assertion that Johns is a rapidly improving writer be proven right? Or will my cynicism/skepticism win out? As Joe loves to say, time will tell.

N: A web 2.0 version of an unpublished Stephen King story. This will be written (or adapted) by Marc Guggenheim, with art by Alex Maleev. This is a joint project between Marvel Entertainment, Scribner, Simon and Schuster Digital, CBS Mobile, and the letter M. N will either be a brilliant strategy to maximize revenue through multiple platforms, or a clusterfuck. I can’t wait to see which it will be.

War of Kings: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Black Bolt and the Inhumans, and a big space crossover. I’m sold (even though Vulcan’s involved). Read an interview here.

Filthy Rich: An intriguing entry from the Vertigo Crime line of titles, Filthy Rich is written by Brian Azzarello, with art by Victor Santos. I hate 100 Bullets with the passion of a thousand suns, but I like many of Azzarello’s other hard-boiled fiction titles. Azzarello describes it as a story “all about the celebrity culture of wealth and why people find that so fascinating and how people get sucked into it.” Sounds cool.

Daytripper: A new Vertigo project by the prolific Ba/Moon brothers, Daytripper is “the story of a guy who wants to be a writer, and about how the things you do everyday can determine what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.”

I’m sure that there are some titles that I’ve overlooked that look interesting, but this is what initially caught my eye. If you’ve been following SDCC coverage (or if you were an attendee), what new projects are you looking forward to?

Ambush Bug: Year None Annotations: Part None

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 1:00 am

When I was a young man, my two favorite creators were probably Grant Morrison and Keith Giffen, and their most personal works, The Invisibles and Ambush Bug were definitely two of my favorite comic books ever. A few years ago, a comic called Identity Crisis came out, which was definitely not one of my favorite comics. People have used a whole lot of words to describe why it wasn’t a very good comic — I’ve done it myself — and this week, Ambush Bug Year None even gets in on the fun.

I’ll be putting up nerdy annotations about all the obscure junk in AB:YN later this week, but before that I want to post something even more incredibly nerdy and self-indulgent than Ambush Bug annotations. Nearly four years ago, there was a thread on The Something Awful Forums about Identity Crisis which became a communal effort to “solve the mystery”. It’s probably blocked off from public view at this point, but it was a big sprawling conversation that ended up spawning a separate message board, and it was the site where half of Funnybook Babylon made each others’ acquaintance. Everyone had their pet theory about Identity Crisis, and mine was derided as the most crackpot of them all. Well, I might have gotten a few details off, but four years later, all I can say is I AM VINDICATED. Excerpts below.

July 26, 2008

Harshest Countdown Criticism Ever Caught on Podcast

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , — David Uzumeri @ 3:45 pm

There’s apparently a hell of a quote that the panel reports for Final Crisis Management missed, that you can find if you look at the recordings on In the interest of public education, I’ve transcribed it for you all:

Um, I love what you do with your storylines, I found out this year that I was HIV+ and so working with Speedy means a lot to me. As hard as that news was, it was harder to get through Final Crisis – er – the Countdown to Final Crisis, so I’m hoping that – I know this will be better. And if I had one wish, besides a cure, it would be that the women of the DC Universe get their heels back.

Didio’s response was a bewildered “o-kay.”

SDCC Linkblog News Round-Up Extravaganza: Day 3, Quick Morning Edition!

Filed under: Blurbs — Chris Eckert @ 3:37 pm

I’ve got to go drown my Con-less sorrows at the Astoria Beer Garden and wish my friends well in their impending move to Providence. People will have to find their own SDCC news tonight! I’m already late! But first, here’s some stuff:

If you’re anything like us, you’re tired of confusing, incoherent panel reports – especially when they’re coming from some jerk like me on the other side of the country. Not to go all LeVar Burton, but thanks to DC you don’t have to take our word for it! Podcast recordings of DC’s panels! Be careful about the Geoff Johns one, though. It’s apparently EXPLICIT.

This is a banner weekend for Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba: not only did they clean up at the Eisners, they’ve got a new Vertigo series Day Tripper coming out next year! Also on the Vertigo panel, revamps for DC properties Unknown Soldier and The Haunted Tank. Between this, the new Madame Xanadu and House of Secrets books, and the revelation that Ian Rankin’s VERTIGO CRIME novel is going to be about John Constantine, it makes me wonder if someone at DC/Warner isn’t getting nostalgic for that early halycon day when all of the Vertigo books were corporately owned. They’re certainly nostalgic over at Vertigo, otherwise they wouldn’t be saying stupid things like this:

You could give this comic [Johnathan Ames and Dean Haspiel’s The Alcoholic]to anyone who doesn’t read comics!

Yeah! You know, as opposed to every other book on the shelves, with its big FOR NERDS ONLY, KEEP OUT NON-FANS! banner. Maybe tonight someone will bust out “Comics aren’t just for kids anymore”!

Speaking of comics ANYONE COULD READ, Del Rey has announced a new raft of pretty nice looking acquisitions.

“The Black Panel” was held this morning with a pretty cool line-up of people. The recap seems to focus heavily on CPT jokes and descriptions of costumes so I don’t know exactly what was announced/discussed, but it sounds like Walter Mosely might be doing a comic? That’s pretty neat. Maybe a a podcast of this will turn up too, so I can figure out what the hell Method Man was trying to say about Wayne and airline food.

SDCC Day 2: 2008 Eisner Award Winners!

Filed under: Events — Tags: , , , — Chris Eckert @ 2:49 am

Thanks to the wonders of the Web 2.0 Crowdsourcing Social Networking Personality Spam Zeitgeist, FBB is getting Eisner Awards results as they happen thanks to Matt Fraction’s iPhone! And we’re passing the savings onto you! I am going to go out on a limb and guess that every link in this information chain has been drinking, so apologies if there are any errors. There are tons of other people twittering from the Eisners, but most of them seem to be talking to each other. Only Fraction has the resolve just to report the winners. My hat’s off to him!

Winners after the jump:

SDCC Linkblog News Round-Up Extravaganza: Day 2, Evening Edition!

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 12:55 am

I guess everyone is out drinking tonight, so not a lot of news trickling out of San Diego. Here’s what we have, though. Eisner results and grousing coming soon!


July 25, 2008

SDCC Linkblog News Round-Up Extravaganza: Day 2, Morning Edition!

Yes, I know that it’s practically quitting time here on the East Coast. But out in San Diego, our decadent western cousins are barely done with lunch right now. To keep the lists from becoming leviathan-like, here’s a rundown of what people have said this morning.


July 24, 2008

SDCC Linkblog News Round-Up Extravaganza: Day 1!

Filed under: Blurbs — Chris Eckert @ 11:48 pm

All the cool kids are out in San Diego, but that doesn’t mean we can’t link blog with easily digestible San Diego news!


July 23, 2008

Fun with October DC Solicts – The rise and fall of Checkmate

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , , — Pedro Tejeda @ 1:50 pm

CHECKMATE #31 Written by Bruce Jones. Art and cover by Manuel Garcia. All the pieces on the Checkmate board have converged on China. Is it the end of the world as we know it in this series finale issue? Or will Chimera save the day? On sale October 29. 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US FINAL ISSUE

Scrolling through the solicitations I came across this doozy. It looks like DC finally did what I jokingly asked them to do a couple of months ago. What has the book been doing since you and I dropped it? Why, it has been building up the sensational character find of ’08, Chimera! Who is he? He’s pretty much a super soldier who can turn into his enemies’ worst fears. His ongoing story has hijacked everything I found interesting and wonderful about the spy thriller Checkmate was before Jones got on to it.

John Rogers in an interview stated that some sort of Magic Event would be spinning out of Checkmate post Final Crisis. This event has to be why they decided not to go with the collaborator of the original writer and with Bruce Jones instead. Chimera has been the only thing the book has been about since the switch. So now that Chimera has been introduced and established,  they can turn off the lights on the book so he can move on to what ever great things they have planned for him. I guess Checkmate as an organization will languish in the background, used the same way SHIELD was pre-Civil War. Great Job DC!

Wait… what’s this?


July 22, 2008

FBBP #64 – Transmedia, the “Synergy” of 2K8

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Funnybook Babylon @ 4:25 pm

Back from a long hiatus due to birthdays, movings, and sheer laziness, the Funnybook Babylon crew discusses two recent standout books:

Geoff Johns and Scott Kollin’s Final Crisis: Rogues Revenge #1 has some kinetic art that Joe loves, but does Chris warm to Johns’s new treatment of the Flash Rogues? We also discuss the recently completed Omega the Unknown series by Jonathan Lethem, Farel Dalrymple and Paul Hornschemeier.

We end the podcast with a round-up of Paul Levitz’s speech on Transmedia, The Watchmen Trailer, the “Moving Comics” initiative, and whatever crazy ideas DC decides to shove into another medium.

After SDCC, we are totally going to work FBB into a video game like Def Jam Fight for New York. All your favorite comic bloggers will be in it.

Finally, please vote for a song for Jamaal to sing in three weeks. Try to pick something from the Batman Soundtracks or Celene Dion related. He’s totally gonna have to do it.

July 11, 2008

Dark Knight, the Film Critic Community and a River in Egypt

Filed under: Blurbs — David Uzumeri @ 11:33 pm

I think most fans of nerd-based movies have been sitting and watching as the fresh tomatoes come in on The Dark Knight. And, you know, it’s pretty fantastic news – it’s close to universally agreed that this is a goddamn good, if not truly great, movie. I’m hearing “better than Batman Begins“, and since that’s my high-water mark, I’m pretty happy.

However, what truly baffles the shit out of me is the critical attitude towards liking it. I mean, I know that the superhero genre has a bad rap in the overall groupthink, and considering some of its representatives in the past (Helen Slater’s Supergirl, Batman & Robin, Daredevil) it’s hardly lost on me why that would be the case. But, guys, come on:

In its rethinking and transcending of a schlock source, The Dark Knight is up there with David Cronenberg’s 1986 version of The Fly. It turns pulp into dark poetry… The Dark Knight is bound to haunt you long after you’ve told yourself, Aah, it’s only a comic-book movie.
Richard Corliss, Time Magazine

Nolan wants to prove that a superhero movie needn’t be disposable, effects-ridden junk food, and you have to admire his ambition. But this is Batman, not “Hamlet.” Call me shallow, but I wish it were a little more fun.
David Ansen, Newsweek

In other words, you expect moralistic underpinnings in a Martin Scorsese movie; in a Batman movie, they hit home with renewed vigor.
Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter

Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” is another unforgettable offering from the visionary that defies all expectations by creating a serious “superhero” movie for grown-ups, one so grounded in a brutal reality you’re left in a cold sweat by its stalwart refusal to cater to escapist fantasies.
Edward Douglas,

This is not a Batman movie… this is a 2008 version of The Untouchables with The Batman as Elliot Ness, The Joker as Al Capone, much better toys, and, it seems, a topper.
David Poland, The Hot Button

What is this, the denial hour?

Is there nobody on staff at fucking Time and Newsweek to point out that their reviewers are praising the film for ‘transcending’ limitations that don’t exist? Dark Knight certainly looks more intellectually stimulating than the Burton/Schumacher flicks, which were just audiovisual spectacles with varying degrees of commercial success – design masterpieces without soul. (Well, at least the first two.) As an object to compare The Dark Knight favorably to, it does the job just fine.

However it’s just astonishing, although I really shouldn’t be surprised, to see the film critic community react in such a bewildered fashion to an interpretation of Batman that challenges their minds as much as their senses. While I admit that I have not yet seen The Dark Knight (although if anyone has some sweet preview passes for Toronto I would be your friend forever) the aspects of the film commonly praised – the focus on moral quandaries, the intelligent and reasonable approach towards cause and effect, the thematic unity, the roots in crime fiction – for God’s sake, these aren’t new to the character. They aren’t anywhere close. The modern conception of Harvey Dent and the theme of violence escalation in Gotham came from current fan community whipping boy Jeph Loeb. I can’t even imagine how reviewers would react if presented with The Long Halloween, never mind Death and the Maidens or The Killing Joke or, shine on you crazy diamond, Batman R.I.P.

As a former expatriate from comics fandom, I understand the tendency towards ambivalence in the public mindset regarding the artistic merit of superhero properties. But, when presented with evidence to the contrary, don’t try to pass it off as something else – justifying its quality as saying it took more cues from crime films, or being disappointed for not falling within its predetermined boundaries, is a mistake. Above, Honeycutt essentially states that, due to the fact that The Dark Knight is a Batman movie, the bar is lower with regards to intellectual stimulation – so, essentially, a smart Batman movie is a greater achievement than a smart crime film, like the Bat is some kind of horrendous creative albatross.

So, I mean, let’s stop this ridiculous notion of treating comic book movies differently because, you know, they’re just comic book movies, right? Stop giving things you don’t think are that great a free pass on characterization and theme because of their origins. Simultaneously, don’t try to decontextualize works that don’t fit within the expected boundaries. And don’t be surprised when other established franchises start getting adaptations this good.

I’m looking forward to seeing the public reaction to the first truly thematically intact and intelligently constructed Superman film.

July 9, 2008

The Morrison Batman Notes Part 3 – From Here We Go Sublime

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 12:48 pm

Part one

Part two

Part three is HERE:

Batman #676

Batman #676

Batman #676 – “Batman R.I.P. Part 1: Midnight in the House of Hurt”

(art: Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea & Guy Major)

Page 1: We shoot forward in time for a page. The background, with red skies and lightning, fairly definitely dates this page as being during or around Final Crisis. Batman and Robin’s identities are vague; Robin looks smaller, like Damian, and seems to have a white cape, while Batman is completely ambiguous (but, given Final Crisis itself, is likely Bruce).

Page 3: Hurt’s description of their coverup for Le Bossu’s murder sets a clear precedent for the Black Glove’s methodology, falsifying documents and destroying reputations. It’s certainly in line with the framing of Mangrove Pierce for Mayhew’s murder of his fifth wife, and the way they destroy Bruce Wayne.

Pages 4-5: We meet the rest of the Club of Villains – Charlie Caligula (Legionary), King Kraken (Wingman), El Sombrero (the real one this time – El Gaucho), Pierrot Lunaire (Musketeer), Scorpiana (El Gaucho) and Springheeled Jack (the Knight). Dark Ranger appears to be unrepresented by a nemesis in the group.

Pages 8-9: Finally we see the new Batmobile, under construction since #655. It’s shockingly functional.

Page 11: The hobo with the shopping cart is Honor Jackson, who plays a very important role in #678. The money Bruce gives him is used to buy heroin, which he overdoses on. The Green Vulture is yet to reappear, but may; he could simply be a representative of what Alfred calls on the next page “the American Idol era of equal opportunity supercrime.”

Page 13: “Miss St. Cloud” was Bruce’s love interest from the Englehart/Rogers Detective run; much like Jezebel, she was a smart lady who figured out who Bruce was, but ended up driven away. “Miss Bordeaux” is Sasha Bordeaux from Greg Rucka’s Detective Comics run, who similarly found out but got burned (by taking a murder rap) and ended up becoming the Black Queen of Checkmate after playing a huge role in 2005’s OMAC Project.

Page 14: Here, Alfred’s manner of speech becomes much more learned and curious – not subservient, but especially the “His is a mind like NO OTHER” speech seems to evoke Hurt’s scientific study of Batman.

Page 15: Note, also, how he practically goads Tim on to feeling insecure about Damian, sowing discord in the ranks of Batman’s trusted.

Page 17: Establishes the Black Glove as a group of “incredibly rich and mysterious people”, in line with Mayhew’s comment about how the wealthy are beyond law and morality.

Page 18: Arkham Asylum.

Page 19: This is all a creepy fantasy in Joker’s head.

Pages 20-21: Joker is utterly insane, surprise surprise. It’s shown this is his fantasy lookin gat a Rorschach blot held by an in-disguise Le Bossu, who’s apparently infiltrated Arkham (so this must take place a while after the opening scene ‘six months ago’ with Simon Hurt) and is inviting the Joker to work in the Glove’s plans.

Page 22: The blood on the Joker is a coloring error, according to Morrison; this is the real world, and the Joker hasn’t actually killed anybody. He’s still stuck in Arkham. Also notice his obsession with flowers, his instruments of death in #663.

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