Funnybook Babylon

May 19, 2009

FBBP #99 – Three Number Ones

Filed under: Podcasts,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 9:48 pm

Just one episode until the momentous Episode 100! This week we take a look at three first issues fresh off the rack:

Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #1 by Ivan Brandon & Marco Rudi
Astro City: The Dark Age: Book Three #1 by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson
Unwritten #1 by Mike Carey & Peter Gross

At least one of these is probably worth your time!

On the other side of worthiness, Chris presents a perfect storm of “Yes, This is Being Published” with a wrap-up of Oracle: The Cure, a culmination of some stuff that was Being Published in Birds of Prey, Teen Titans, Final Crisis and allegedly Batman: Battle for the Cowl! You WILL believe that a man’s heart can be licked back to life via Second Life when they’re not even near a computer!

Our big Hundredth Episode will feature our first Listener Q&A! This is highly dependent on Qs from Ls, so Q away!


  1. Wow, Unwritten “boring”? I could not disagree more. I thought this was the best Vertigo first issue I’ve read since maybe DMZ or Y: The Last Man. I think Joe’s got the right idea on this one. I thought for sure when I saw the topic of the podcast that Unwritten was the one that everyone liked. And I thought the surprises would be saved for episode 100!

    Comment by Justin B. — May 20, 2009 @ 12:29 am

  2. Justin:

    I think we did a good job of explaining why we found the story “boring”. What engaged you about it? What made it such a top first issue? I’m more open to reading the second issue than Jamaal and Chris were, maybe you can convince me on what you got and what I missed?

    Comment by Pedro Tejeda — May 20, 2009 @ 9:09 am

  3. Pedro, other than Jamaal saying it was boring a dozen times I didn’t really get a clear idea what turned you guys off (boring, too much like Harry Potter, sketchy art at the end is what I took away from the comments), but I’ll try to address why I liked it so much. As was the case with DMZ and Y, the basic one line hook is one that seems interesting, in this case the boy who may or may not be a fictional character come to life, and how that relates to literature in general. I was looking forward to it even before the issue came out just because it sounded like an interesting concept, and different enough from Fables because he’s not in on the joke. On top of that, the first issue delivered plenty of intrigue to follow up on, like what his agent has to do with everything, what happened to his father, is the chick who outed him also from his father’s books, who were those dudes on the last page, what’s up with the map at the back, etc. There just seems to be so much potential. It could go any number of different directions, and I don’t really care which direction it goes, any of them seem interesting and full of that same potential.

    As far as specifics of the issue, rather than being tedious I thought the interludes into Tommy-land, the newspaper article, the newscast, the blog/twitter stuff, all did a good job breaking up the action and helped sell the idea of just how huge the phenomenon of this character is, and what the main character has to live with. They weren’t just thrown in there haphazardly. They served a purpose, and I thought were woven into the story rather deftly. Sometimes those kinds of things feel superfluous but these were actually integral to the story. The convention scenes also play up the enormity of the Tommy franchise as well. I think for all the crap he’s probably had to put up with in his life (however much of a life that may actually be), he seems relatively well-adjusted and a pretty likable and believable character as well. One of the nice touches was when he wondered aloud to the agent if he really might be who the Bosnian couple say he is. He didn’t ask for any of this, he’s just coping and adapting the best he can. As I write this, he actually reminds me a lot of Yorick from Y, just less sarcastic. And like Yorick, this is a character I wouldn’t mind following for 60 issues (or more).

    To address the Harry Potter comparison, I’ve read all of the Harry Potter books (and enjoyed them), and I was definitely worried about this feeling like a Potter knock-off, but even the beginning few pages felt unique enough that it wasn’t even in the back of my head the rest of the issue. I guess if someone was assuming that this is all a Harry Potter rip-off that could color their opinion, but it didn’t feel that way for me in the least.

    Your comment about the art looking sketchy at the end baffled me. I’d be interested to hear specifically which panels you are talking about because I’m looking at the issue and the last pages seem just as good as the first pages to me. Gross is a great artist and I think his art is one of the main selling points of the series.

    I liked the first issue enough to read some of the interviews Carey and Gross are giving and I’ll admit their enthusiasm for the project is a little infectious. I have no great loyalty for either creator, I was late getting on the Lucifer bandwagon (so Joe can rest assured it’s not just Lucifer nostalgia drawing him to the series) and Carey’s Crossing Midnight did nothing for me, but this just seems to have promise written all over it. It feels fresh, it feels different, and it feels like the kind of book that can be one of Vertigo’s new cornerstones that they are always in desperate need of.

    I really like that you guys offer a different perspective, sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t (Scalped comes to mind), but I guess at least in this case you got me thinking about why I liked this book so much.

    On a completely unrelated note (well, semi-related for one of my questions, I guess), should we email questions for the 100th podcast or post them here? Thanks, looking forward to the next podcast as always.

    Comment by Justin B. — May 20, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

  4. Great podcast guys! The March to 100 is finally going to end! Please put a link for the commemorative Funnybook coins when you get a chance.

    Comment by vince — May 20, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

  5. Cameron Chase had a fairly big role in the latest Manhunter series, and the Stepford Wives were a callback to the original OMAC series (that comes off hackneyed by how blatant it is). Also, I’ve heard the guy who’s name is [DELETED] and whose face melts off at the end is supposed to be Number Six.

    I don’t know, because of how little you guys knew about the characters the review seemed incredibly unfocused. I guess I wish you would’ve pointed this out as a major flaw of a comic that’s supposed be a #1, but you never really acknowledged it beyond I think one sentence about the lack of characterization. Really, that’s the book’s biggest problem; the plot (such as it is) and the art (generic with brief bits of inspiration) are at least there. But if you don’t know who’s who well before you go in, you won’t be able to get any feeling for them as you go.

    Where do I submit questions, anyway? Just submit another comment, e-mail any one of you guys, or e-mail one of you in particular?

    Comment by HitTheTargets — May 20, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

  6. are you guys podfading or what?

    Comment by Mike F. — May 20, 2009 @ 8:27 pm

  7. This was a return to form for you guys.

    I’ve not been such a fan of your recent focused reviews, much preferring your scattershot drive-bys.

    Keep up the good work. I’m totally stoked for your podcentennial edition.

    Comment by Paul Hicks — May 21, 2009 @ 5:46 am

  8. Questions can be emailed to editors@funnybookbabylon.

    HitTheTargets – I knew a lot about the characters, I just didn’t think knowing anything about any one was really that instrumental to the story. The story implies that the main character worked with them and that was enough for me. I didn’t need to know what his relationship was to Waller, Chase or Vertigo.

    Justin B. – I spoke to David U. about Unwritten, and I really think the premise just didn’t work for me and it made it hard for me to care for the rest of the work. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for later issues, because Carey and Gross have produced good work and I might change my mind about it. Thanks for explaining your POV. Sometimes, the 4 or us will get lockstep into something and we won’t be able to see the other side.

    Paul Hicks: Aww man, I was hoping more people liked the Thorcast. It was really fun to do and had more rape jokes than any of our other podcasts. Thanks though for the encouragement on this week. If you hadn’t done it yet, give us a review on Itunes.

    Comment by Pedro Tejeda — May 21, 2009 @ 11:37 am

  9. I liked the Thorcast. I’ve never read much Thor, but have been pretty interested in the character himself and reading something that would stand alone without getting caught up in an ongoing. This seemed perfect.
    Anyway, as for this podcast, very nice. The Oracle series was indeed awful….

    Also, that wasn’t Nemesis getting his face melted at the end of Escape. As for Nemesis’ recent history, he’s been a major character in Wonder Woman. They’re officially dating… or the Amazon equivalent, and he’s now officially an Amazon. Kinda odd and really just makes this series all the more akward as there is no lead in to what’s happening to him in Escape from any other book he’s been in as far as I can tell. Maybe we find out by the end of the book. Probably not worth sticking around that long to find out unfortunately.

    Comment by Fearing — May 21, 2009 @ 8:21 pm

  10. For what it’s worth, the Thorcast was easily one of my favorite podcasts you guys have done, and it convinced me to pick up the Ages of Thunder collection.

    Comment by Munch — May 21, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

  11. I enjoyed this a lot. A lot more than the Thorcast and your conversation on Astro City brought up something I’ve been meaning to ask. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Comics that are (for all intents) doing well for their genre, but still seem under the blogger radar – Phonogram, Umbrella Academy, Casanova (other than IronFist I haven’t enjoyed any other Matt Fraction offerings), 100 bullets, etc…

    Comment by Vivek — May 22, 2009 @ 6:40 am

  12. Vivek –

    I personally think all 3 are getting really good press on even mainstream sites like Newsarama.

    We reviewed Casanova – and didn’t like it, but David Brothers of 4L offered a solid counter point in the comments. It may be worth a revisit. I personally like both Umbrella’s and will lobby to do a podcast for it when the second trade comes out in October. I fear Phonogram could join Transmetropolitian in the “do not talk pile”. Maybe when this mini wraps up, we’ll revisit it.

    Comment by Pedro Tejeda — May 22, 2009 @ 7:29 am

  13. Pedro –

    Man, I did not hear that podcast, shame on me! I only hopped on FBB from 27 on. I realize quite a few titles do get a fair bit of coverage elsewhere, but I’m mostly interested in what you guys have to add to that conversation, since I enjoy your point(s) of view all the more than most. And the “do not talk pile”!!! Damnit, here I was hoping someone with Chris’ mastery of obscure hipster trivia would really take off on that.

    But I’m looking forward for 100 and my Q – Would being the third flatmate to Harvey Bullock and Dum Dum Dugan rock, or simply rule?

    Comment by Vivek — May 22, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

  14. Who the hell doesn’t like Transmetropolitan?

    Comment by Justin B. — May 22, 2009 @ 11:15 pm

  15. Pedro: It’s already out of the Do Not Talk pile. Funnybook Babylon reviewed PG:Rue Britannia here…


    Comment by Kieron Gillen — May 25, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  16. Kieron:

    Joe and Chris did talk about in on the podcast. The Do Not Talk pile is for work that we so vehemently disagree upon that we can’t have a civil conversation that doesn’t descend into one person screaming, “YOU ARE FUCKING WRONG AND I HOPE YOU BURN IN HELL”.

    Jamaal probably would want to talk about it eventually. I liked your Beta Ray Bill and your Namor short story in Dark Reign, so it would be nice to give your non-Marvel stuff a try.

    Justin B:

    No one hates Transmetropolitan. The sticking point in that conversation is the Smiler. I personally feel Joe is completely wrong in this matter and that he burn in hell for believing the Smiler is anything approaching an interesting antagonist / villain.

    Comment by Pedro Tejeda — May 26, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

  17. JustinB:

    I think that my reaction to Unwritten was partially based on the fact that I don’t particularly care for the genre (so I’m not interested in run of the mill efforts to subvert or otherwise slyly comment on it). The high concept selling point of the book never appealed to me, and Carey’s writing (at least this issue) wasn’t strong enough to overcome my apathy. That said, I can totally understand why you might like it, although I maintain (contra Joe) that it is nothing like Lucifer.

    I’m glad that our half-assed discussion got you to think about why you liked the book, I always think that’s a fun exercise.


    I knew a tiny bit about the characters, but there was absolutely nothing in the story that inspired me to refresh my memory. I really regretted reading that book. I get your point re: the confusing story, but my preferred solution would be for us to stop reviewing poorly conceived, derivative books. This was one of those issues that really made me sympathize with Joe’s plight when we make him read B and C list DC books.


    You are a little wrong re: Smiler.

    I also think we should revisit Casanova. I still haven’t read Umbrella Academy. I really, really hate Scalped. And I’m down for another Rue Britannica review, but fear that Chris may impale me with his superior knowledge of British pop music.

    Comment by Jamaal Thomas — May 27, 2009 @ 9:37 am

  18. […] Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 at 09:13:07 PM As a follow-up to our theoretically award-eligible podcast Three Number Ones, Funnybook Babylon planned to look at Four Number Ones, the Billboard #1 singles on our respective […]

    Pingback by Funnybook Babylon · Archives · FBBP #126 - Four Number Ones — June 9, 2010 @ 12:27 am

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