Funnybook Babylon

November 26, 2008

More Blogs about Batman and Food

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , — Chris Eckert @ 1:24 am

batmanandfood

 

Later this morning, the final chapter in “Batman R.I.P.” drops, so I need to get my crackpot theory out there tonight! THE MYSTERY DIES AT DAWN!

I’ll just lay it out here: I think Grant Morrison’s whole Black Glove mystery, the whole core of Bruce Wayne’s damaged psyche, all ties into a preoccupation of another famous orphan: FOOD! GLORIOUS FOOD!

I’m sure I’m not the only person who read Batman #678 and wanted to know why was Robin eating so much. Twice, he appears, investigating all the weirdness surrounding Batman and his Black Casebooks. Twice, he is stuffing his face with junk food. When I reread Morrison’s whole run to lend a hand in David’s annotations, I was really just looking for more “food” clues. Everyone wrote me off as grasping at straws, that I had gone as clue-crazy as Batman himself in the midst of a “Zur en Arrh” induced breakdown. But look at the evidence. LOOK AT IT! (more…)

November 2, 2008

Dissecting the Anatomy Lesson: Everyone Wants To Be Alan Moore

Over in a comment thread to Jeff Lester’s recent (and very funny) review of Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns, Chad Nevett points out that

it seems every hero that was unique and alone in the past five years has discovered “Oh no, there are tons of you guys!” Kind of lame.

It hadn’t really hit me on the head until now just how much this is true, and where the whole twist comes from. While the DC Universe has always honored and integrated the concept of the known legacy, the unknown or unexpected legacy has become a frequently used element in a lot of recent (like, past ten to twenty years) superhero comics. You know what I mean: that story where the hero finds out, or hasn’t thought about and is now forced to deal with, the fact that he’s not unique, and that many of his presuppositions and assumptions about his identity were askew or outright false.

We’ve seen it a few times in recent years:

  • The Last Iron Fist Story in Immortal Iron Fist
  • The current New Krypton arc in the Superman titles
  • The Spider-Totem legacy in J. Michael Straczynski’s Amazing Spider-Man
  • The Speed Force legacy in Mark Waid’s Flash
  • The emotional spectrum and rainbow Lanterns in Geoff Johns’s Green Lantern
  • Any fucking story that tries to deal with Hawkman’s origin
  • The current Last Stand of the Spirits of Vengeance story in Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider
  • The end of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men with the Phoenix
  • Possibly Batman R.I.P. with the threat of ultimate betrayal and the commentary about Gotham being “a machine to make Batman”

I’m sure there are tons more I’m not thinking of; isn’t Ron Marz doing stuff like this in Witchblade? It was used pretty early on in Spawn, I think. Either way, the point is this: guys, the shocking twist in Alan Moore’s “The Anatomy Lesson” from Saga of the Swamp Thing #21 rules. I think we all know that; it totally pulled the rug out from under the reader in every conceivable way, and used that as a springboard to redefine the scope and themes of the book from a horror story to a space-spanning Gothic romance, and significantly increased the stakes of Swamp Thing’s actions and significance.

But along with its kissing cousin the Story Where The Hero Disappears and Similar Dudes Take His Place, it’s been sorely, sorely, sorely overused over the years, and is now gaining speed like the Terence McKenna timewave into some sort of singularity of plot twist reuse. Hell, Geoff Johns even managed to make it work with Green Lantern – back in the ’90s, when every superhero was stuffing their ranks with variations and refractions on themselves like a hot dog vendor trying to meet a product variance statistic, “holy shit, there are MORE of them!” didn’t mean anything for Green Lantern because, well, there already were more of him, so they just inverted the twist and killed them all off. Johns, on the other hand, just employed lateral thinking – instead of the twist being that there are more Green Lanterns than Hal Jordan, it’s that there are more Lantern Corps than the Green Lanterns.

I mean, it’s a cool story, and I greatly enjoy every comic I just named above, and will hopefully continue to do so now that I’ve realized the reliance on this thread. And there are tons of stories that are nothing like this, from Secret Invasion to All Star Superman (although it had some elements of it), but it’d be nice to see more people try to come up with the next “The Anatomy Lesson” than just trying to tap into it (where consciously or unconsciously).

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 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

Final Crisis #4 – “Darkseid Says”

Quick Comments before the rundown:

1. Grant Morrison absolutely needs to take over Green Arrow/Black Canary, as all of his scenes with both of these characters throughout this series have been fantastic, especially any time Ollie even approaches a rant.

2. Make sure, if you got it, to read Submit before, not after, this issue. It’s a great book (albeit very straightforward and not especially begging to be annotated), and I know my experience (at least) was sort of lessened by reading #4 first.

With that out of the way, let’s get into the fourth issue of Final Crisis. Which is shockingly different from the original solicitation, now that I look at it, and I am really sad they did not actually go with the title “How to Murder the Earth,” because that rules.
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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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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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October 2, 2008

Batman #680 – “Batman R.I.P. Part 5: The Thin White Duke of Death”

Batman #680

Batman #680

I dunno what kind of overview to give here other than “holy shit, this issue was incredible.”

So holy shit, this issue was incredible. Annotations below, and Tim Callahan‘s got his take up on his site as well. (more…)

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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September 27, 2008

A. David Lewis Interviews Grant Morrison

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 11:29 am

If you haven’t already, check out this interview:

I got into magic to see if it was real. If someone says, “Ok, a demon will appear if you do this spell,” I just say, “Bullshit.” So, I did this spell, and then the demon appeared. So I had to revise my vision of what the world was and how it worked.

A. David Lewis, author of The Lone and Level Sands, interviews Grant Morrison about Magic, consciousness and comic books.

You may have heard Grant tell some similar stories in the past, but this interview is a good primer on some of the ideas that inform his work.

September 22, 2008

FBBP #73 – Superman Loves Us All

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , — Pedro Tejeda @ 11:33 pm

Pedro, Jamaal and Joseph get together for a chat on Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely’s freshly concluded All-Star Superman. Is Superman prophet or messiah? Unsurprisingly, Joseph ends up the contentious dissenter on this matter, though he loved the book as much as anyone else. The first half of the series is available now, if you can’t wait for the inevitable Absolute Edition.

September 16, 2008

Final Crisis Shipping Schedule: Huh?

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 9:49 pm
Final Crisis: Submit

Final Crisis: Submit

So yeah, Final Crisis isn’t shipping on time. I’m sure someone, somewhere, is shocked, but I can’t fathom it – #3 was a week late, #4’s three weeks late, and we’ve got an extra skip month in December with a Secret Files. (On a side note, I’m incredibly curious to read that Secret Files, since it sounds like he’s getting Frank Quitely of all people to help him in his quixotic quest to reconcile this with Countdown.) However, despite the considerable delay on #4 and the total lack of a delay on subsequent issues, I’m forced to wonder if this quote from Morrison himself isn’t pretty telling:

Submit is designed as Beyond’s complete opposite number – a straight down the line, street level, Hollywood action book about a family in trouble and on the run in Darkseid’s Hell on Earth. It features Black Lightning, gives us a look at the world in the early stages of Darkseid’s takeover and loops straight back into the first scene on the opening pages of Final Crisis #4.

So wait, if Submit takes place before Final Crisis #4, why was it solicited to come out two weeks afterwards originally? And now, it’s delayed (according to the latest DC Direct Channel) until the 15th right alongside FC #4. People may be annoyed if they don’t put a notice in #4 to read Submit first, assuming this was the reason for the delays. This also leads to a single day with no less than five new Final Crisis books, which, I mean, is sort of a lot of a good thing at once: Final Crisis #4, Legion of Three Worlds #2, Submit, Rogues’ Revenge #3 and Rage of the Red Lanterns. Isn’t this sort of a deluge where major books (like Submit itself) might get lost in the shuffle? I never understood why Paul O’Brien complained about this kind of thing regarding the X-books until now.

So this poses the question: Are #4 and #5 actually coming out two weeks apart? It seems pretty unlikely, but if Submit was the cause for #4’s delay it’s not impossible. It seems odd that they took a month off, and production problems, not JG Jones, were blamed for #3’s lateness, and still couldn’t get the book out on time.

It’s just a theory, so if they announce #5’s being delayed until the end of November or whatever I still won’t be especially surprised.

September 2, 2008

FBBP #70 – The Last Will and Testament of the Third Dimension

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 11:25 pm

For the second week running, we’re missing Jamaal. We miss Jamaal so much that we want to remind everyone that we’re still taking suggestions for what we should make him sing on next week’s podcast. A BET IS A BET!

Two books of the week this time out: one for its importance, and another for its je ne sais quoi:
Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1 by Grant Morrison & Doug Mahnke (annotated here!)
DC Universe: Last Will & Testament by Brad Meltzer & Adam Kubert

Speaking of Last Wills, Virgin Comics has joined the dustbin of comics history alongside CrossGen, Tekno Comix and countless others. What lessons can be learned? What went wrong? Just how many different things has Richard Branson slapped “Virgin” on?

We also begin our discussion on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Most of the discussion is Joe introducing the Nausicaa and its creator Hayao Miyazaki, so anyone wanting to catch up still has time. We’ll be doing the second (and final) Nausicaa book club discussion in a couple weeks.

The whole series is translated in seven volumes (Volumes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) and you can buy them through Amazon for $10, supporting the site at the same time.

August 28, 2008

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1Hh. Spoilers within. This is actually the first thirty pages of a sixty-page script; I imagine Morrison still did a bit of work to modify it, though, since it ends on a pretty satisfying cliffhanger (if that makes any sense). I assume the second issue won’t hit until at least December, either along with or in place of Final Crisis #7.

The 3-D “gimmick” isn’t really used for any particular narrative purpose just yet, it just looks cool (or distracting/annoying, depending on your outlook). Still, it does distinguish the extradimensional elements from the mundane ones.

After these annotations, I’ll include a few observations regarding FC: Rogues’ Revenge #2. In the absence of Granddaddy Wolk I don’t know if anyone will be covering this issue, but I really haven’t read Johns’s Flash run recently enough to do a full annotation. Last Will and Testament is out too, but it pretty much totally fails to match up in any way with Final Crisis and is really just a vehicle for Brad Meltzer to do his Meltzer Thing. Something else regarding that might be in the works, though…

Anyway.
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August 20, 2008

FBBP #67 – Manifestos Never End Well

…except for the the one Joe wrote when we started this site. But then, everyone else seemed to ignore it and it never saw the light of day, so probably that was for the best. Look at the track record for public manifestos, it’s not pretty.

This week we review:

Batman #679: The fourth chapter of Grant Morrison & Tony Daniel’s “Batman R.I.P.” storyline

Punisher MAX #60 – The conclusion of Garth Ennis & Goran Parlov‘s “Valley Forge, Valley Forge”, as well as the capstone to nearly a decade’s worth of Punisher stories by Ennis.

We also discuss the big story in the blogosphere this week, new Image Comics partner Robert Kirkman’s video manifesto on “saving the comics industry”. If you listen to Kirkman’s follow-up interview on Wordballoon, you’ll learn that at one point the plan involves creators to literally tell fans to “go fuck themselves”. But there’s so much more to it. Listen and learn!

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