Funnybook Babylon

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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August 14, 2008

Batman #679 – “Batman R.I.P. Part 4: Miracle on Crime Alley”

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 12:15 am

Oh hell yeah. This issue was incredible.

Batman #679

Batman #679

Page 1: Batman’s fully enveloped himself in his new persona. Note his weapon, the baseball bat, making him a literal bat-man. (I can’t believe I had to have this pointed out to me.)

Pages 2-3: The tailor doesn’t seem to be Paul Gambi, the Crime Tailor. As an aside, as I stated on Tony Daniel’s blog, I utterly adore Bat-Mite’s little cheering expression while Batman gets his interrogation on. Fantastic.

Page 4: This is where things, obviously, start getting weird. Batman’s always been associated with perching next to gargoyles; however, the rapport with the city here is new. Le Bossu’s gargoyle henchmen go along with his Hunchback of Notre Dame theme.

Page 5: “A machine designed to make Batman.” This is perfectly in standing with Morrison’s assertions about the nature of urbanism from The Invisibles, as well as the The Magus/The Game-inspired aspects of this whole arc. How deep does the rabbit hole go? Is the entire city of Gotham a playground designed to create such a wonderful human creature, or is Bruce Wayne fucked up and listened to his imaginary friends? The way Morrison’s managed to make it so it could really go either way is fantastic. (more…)

August 13, 2008

FBBP #66 – Interim Crisis

FBB is at full power, discussing the relaunches of The Authority, NYX: No Way Home, and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane as a nice appetizer platter. We cleanse the palate with a quick Jeph Loeb Happy Hour toasting the Hulk before our main course:

Final Crisis #3 gets the full treatment as we discuss the philosophical issues therein and whether or not Joe can possibly understand what the hell is going on. For a more focused discussion of FC, please refer to David U’s awesome annotations here.

August 8, 2008

Downcounting Backwards: Overman

At some point Downcounting became too much of a chore to bear; it was a struggle to write something more cogent than variants on, “NO REALLY, WHAT IS ANYONE INVOLVED WITH THE PRODUCTION OF THIS BOOK THINKING?” Once it became obvious that Countdown to Final Crisis and its related titles weren’t really counting down to Final Crisis or anything else, I made peace with the fact that I had developed intimate knowledge of something with no real significance or worth besides being DC’s life-imitates-art “Great Disaster”.

But now that we know that Grant Morrison had literally nothing to do with the hundred-or-so books that were meant to lead into his Final Crisis series, picking through these books becomes a fascinating exercise in reverse-engineering. There are clearly threads that someone with access to Final Crisis’s plot decided to pick up on, though it seems much was lost in translation.

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August 7, 2008

Final Crisis #3 – “Know Evil”

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 12:41 am

Before I launch into the annotations for this issue, a few corrections regarding my previous stuff and other interesting things from the Director’s Cut:

  1. The evil Monitor isn’t Solomon from Countdown, it’s “Rox Ogama.” The Monitor we first see in FC #1 is “Zip Hermuz”.
  2. The Monitors’ world was supposed to seem largely like a dying civilization, and the number of worlds wasn’t specific in the script. It’s also mentioned that New Earth is suspended in a mercurial substance reminiscent of the supercontext from The Invisibles.
  3. Hal’s scar is a clue – it’s specifically mentioned in the script.
  4. Morrison mentions that the Tattooed Man will play a major role nearing the end; I can’t help but wonder what would happen if you tattooed Metron’s sigil on him…

So. Yeah. Forward! Douglas Wolk has the annotation/”Who is this?” part of this pretty damn down pat, so I’m gonna focus largely on analysis and speculation here.

Page 1 – Frankenstein, from Seven Soldiers, raids the Dark Side Club with a group of SHADE (Super Human Advanced Defense Execute – originally SADE but modified by DC, so I wonder if that played any significance regarding Desaad) agents. Inside, they find the mummified shell of the human Darkseid resided in as Boss Dark Side, and left back in #1.

Page 2 – I love the panel layout here, with the Dark Side Club scenes taking place inside the building on the street in the greater picture, both within the story and on the page. The fissure in the sky is Overgirl entering the New Earth universe.
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July 28, 2008

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.
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July 26, 2008

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!

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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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July 8, 2008

The Morrison Batman Notes Part 2 – The (Aunt) Agatha Christie Period

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 10:55 am

Going forward with part two!

Don’t forget to read yesterday’s part one as well.

Batman #667

Batman #667

Batman #667 – “The Island of Mister Mayhew”

(art: J.H. Williams III & Dave Stewart)

NOTE: Rather than recapitulate it here, I’d just like to point everyone towards J.H. Williams III’s commentary on the Club of Heroes and the particular artistic style associated with each one.

Page 1: The Black Glove, named for the first time. Note the roulette wheel, red and black, good and evil – it’s clear here that Mayhew, strung up, is making a bet. Judging by the actual wearing of black gloves, it seems clear this is the same character we saw at the end of 665. A friend of mine who for some reason wants to remain anonymous because this idea is fucking brilliant thinks that this might be a sort of retelling of the story of Job, with Hurt acting as Satan and Alfred as God, which fits in perfectly with the question raised by this bet – which is stronger, good or evil? It also fits in perfectly with Morrison’s use of the blind chessman figure in Invisibles.

Page 2-3: I just want to mention I love the look Tim gives Bruce for asking a question to which he himself is the answer.

Page 4: Tim mentions that Alfred is staying at home rebuilding Wayne Manor, which seems to place this after the Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul crossover – which is after this arc, so I have no idea how that works. Anyway, that’s his alibi for now.

Page 5: The Knight was last seen in JLA: Classified #1-3 by Grant Morrison & Ed McGuinness, and before that in Morrison’s JLA run.

Page 6: El Gaucho, respected crimefighter from Argentina; Legionary, past-his-prime Roman-themed crimefighter from Italy; the Musketeer, French crimefighter who, as he says here, just got out of prison; and Chief Man-of-Bats, the Batman of the reservation. All members of the Club of Heroes.

Page 7: More details about Mayhew’s life. Just as all of the Club of Heroes are alternate takes on where Batman may have gone, John Mayhew represents a directionless, unfulfilling life for Bruce Wayne without a cause and a mission. This is where we first see the poster for the Black Glove film, which comes into play later during R.I.P.; Mangrove Pierce and Marsha Lamarr are both names worth remembering, both within and after this arc. The group shot of the Club of Heroes is new, and lacks Superman, whom the original story (Detective #215) featured.

Page 8: The Native American vigilante is an alcoholic? Seriously, Grant?

Pages 14-15: Someone wearing Mayhew’s face, presumably taken off with the switchblade at the start of the issue. However, considering Mayhew shows up safe and sound later on, it seems likely this is simply a parlor trick (which raises the question of what the use of the blade was). “Place your bets” again digs in the gambling angle, and Morrison really loves to use the wearing-skin concept.

Page 16-17: We later find out the explosion originates from Wingman’s ship, where he planted the bomb as an accomplice to Mayhew and the Glove.

Page 20-21: Mayhew, wearing black gloves, kills Legionary.
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July 7, 2008

The Morrison Batman Notes Part 1 – This Is Your Brain On Drugs

Filed under: Annotations — Tags: , , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 12:01 pm

I’m seeing a whole hell of a lot of confusion about Batman R.I.P. out there, which is perfectly understandable – it’s a pretty damn opaque story, even more so than Final Crisis. In the interest of art appreciation, I’ve decided to try to go through Morrison’s recent Batman work and see if I can help shed some light on this fairly byzantine plot, as well as point out the myriad continuity references Morrison makes.

Also of considerable interest are Tim Callahan’s annotations and musings about this run – as always, this article is just one dude’s opinion. Apologies to the numerous people I’ve talked about this run with over time whose ideas and comments I’m probably about to partially steal, but thanks to you anyway, especially Chris Eckert.

This was originally going to be all in one go, but when I finished I realized I somehow wrote 8500 fucking words, and nobody in their right mind wants to read that. So I’ve split this up into the Kubert issues (655-658, 663-666), the Williams/Daniel issues (667-669, 672-674), and the R.I.P. issues (672-678) (which are jam fucking packed). I’ll have it serialized out throughout the week.

Before we begin, I just want to mention many of the recurring themes/phrases/ideas throughout this story, that you’ll see me pointing out:

  1. Hallucinogenic drugs/through isolation: Batman tripping balls is the overriding concept throughout this entire run, and the seed from which almost every other aspect and plot development takes place. Drugs, and their effect on the human psyche, especially in combination with living an iconic fantasy life, have brought Batman to a very fragile point. None of this is new, half of Batman’s enemies use hallucinogenic poisons (especially the Joker and Scarecrow), and he’s been poisoned or on drugs like every third Batman story since 1960.
  2. Nature vs. nurture: This is especially evident in the rivalry between Tim and Damian for the right to be Batman’s son, as well as the ruminations on Batman’s own upbringing. This theme generally extends more into the Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul crossover, which I won’t be discussing here since it seems to have little relevance to R.I.P., and I’ll also probably feel like an idiot when it becomes important and I have to do an appendix, but ah well.
  3. Red and black: These two colors show up everywhere representing good and evil, with special relevance to the colors on a roulette wheel.
  4. Zur en Arrh: self-explanatory after the latest issue, this is Batman’s implanted Manchurian Candidate codeword and the identity of a planet from Batman #113 that Bruce was abducted to (no wonder Morrison is referencing that story; he loves alien abductions) and on which he had the powers of Superman. The guy who summoned him was the “Batman of Zur en Arrh”, who had on that horrendously/hilariously ugly costume Tony Daniel reintroduced at the end of 678.

Throughout, I’ll also be taking a look at the various suspects for the identity of the Black Glove, whose identity Morrison calls “the most shocking Batman revelation in seventy years.” Taking a look, then, at the likely suspects:

  1. Bruce Wayne: Batman’s fucking with himself, a la Len Wein’s seminal Untold Legend of the Batman miniseries, where he got hurt in an explosion and started blacking out and being his own worst enemy, in a very personal and similar manner to the Black Glove. He’s supposedly cured by the end of the story, which was also a rather excellent round-up of his origin and life up to that time in continuity, and contained a lot of elements Morrison seems to be reusing (Thomas Wayne’s original Batman suit, for instance).
  2. Thomas Wayne: Batman’s father is alive, actually a con man, and out to reclaim Wayne Manor. I personally think this is actually going to be an issue four or five fakeout Morrison employs, a la Jason Todd in Hush, and it was hinted at in Batman #677. However, I just think this would be too crazy to stick, and would also harm Greg Rucka’s (in my opinion underrated and brilliant) Death and the Maidens, a story Morrison’s expressed fondness for.
  3. Dick Grayson: Pretty damn unlikely, considering recent events in R.I.P..
  4. Tim Drake: See above.
  5. Alfred Pennyworth/Beagle: Anyone who’s been reading my stuff on this site knows that this is who I think it is, and I’ll be pointing out instances of his absence and evidence of his guilt. I’ll be taking a look at the reasons against, too, but I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty damn sure this is the culprit and recent issues have only backed that up.

So. Let’s go.
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July 1, 2008

FBBP #63 – Image and You

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , — Funnybook Babylon @ 11:00 am

We’re back from a Mac-induced hiatus (Can you believe an Apple product had the gall to break on us?), and we talked about Marvel’s massive week (thirty-four books!!!) and whether any of them were worth your money. Marvel’s tidal wave didn’t stop us from talking about DC’s big book, Final Crisis #2. Have Jamaal and Pedro warmed up to Morrison’s Epic Event?
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June 19, 2008

She Used To Love Y.O.U.

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , , — David Brothers @ 8:30 am

NRAMA: And so you were left with a handful of continuity issues as result – – why didn’t the Guardians call a 1011 when all the other New Gods died? Why didn’t Superman recount his experiences in Death of the New Gods when he was talking about the New Gods to the JLA? How did the villains capture J’onn? Obviously, if you dealt in all the minutia of every storyline since Identity Crisis or earlier, you’d go nuts – so what was your personal line in the sand that you used in writing Final Crisis in regards to what “mattered” and what didn’t?

GM: What mattered to me was what had already been written, drawn or plotted in Final Crisis. The Guardians didn’t call 1011 when Lightray and the other gods died in Countdown because, again, Final Crisis was already underway before Countdown came out.

Why didn’t Superman recount his experiences from DOTNG ? Because those experiences hadn’t been thought up or written when I completed Final Crisis #1. If there was only me involved, Orion would have been the first dead New God we saw in a DC comic, starting off the chain of events that we see in Final Crisis. As it is, the best I can do is suggest that the somewhat contradictory depictions of Orion and Darkseid’s last-last-last battle that we witnessed in Countdown and DOTNG recently were apocryphal attempts to describe an indescribable cosmic event.

To reiterate, hopefully for the last time, when we started work on Final Crisis, J.G. and I had no idea what was going to happen in Countdown or Death Of The New Gods because neither of those books existed at that point. The Countdown writers were later asked to ‘seed’ material from Final Crisis and in some cases, probably due to the pressure of filling the pages of a weekly book, that seeding amounted to entire plotlines veering off in directions I had never envisaged, anticipated or planned for in Final Crisis.

The way I see it readers can choose to spend the rest of the year fixating on the plot quirks of a series which has ended, or they can breathe a sight of relief, settle back and enjoy the shiny new DC universe status quo we’re setting up in the pages of Final Crisis and its satellite books. I’m sure both of these paths to enlightenment will find adherents of different temperaments.

Grant Morrison, 2008

Oh, Grant. This sounds like trouble in paradise. Let’s see what wrong, okay? We’ll talk you through this.

I met her last week, this insane tart
We been swimmin’ in each other with the same heart
I mean, I think we might be sections of the same part
And we don’t separate at all until the day’s dark

–El-P, “Oxycontin Pt 2”

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June 18, 2008

Long Summer Days

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 2:24 am

Wow, I haven’t written anything in a while. I need to adopt Dave’s work ethic, but work is all consuming at the moment. Since I missed the recording of the podcast this week (a compelling discussion of the Bill Jemas era at Marvel), I decided to put some thoughts together in a typically long-winded (and hopefully somewhat coherent) fashion. Come join me for the DC Pile-on!

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June 3, 2008

FBBP #60 – Attack of the Scots

This week’s podcast featured more Scotsmen than a Mel Gibson fight scene!

  • Grant Morrison! (All-Star Superman! Batman! Final Crisis!)
  • Frank Quitely! (All-Star Superman too!)
  • Mark Millar! (1985!)

Joining us on the podcast is FBB’s own David Uzumeri, an expert on this exotic species.

Back in America, Marvel is pushing Fred Van Lente and the Periscope Studios Crew. Under Mark Paniccia, they’ve been all over the Marvel Adventures line, Incredible Hercules and the newly announced Marvel Zombies 3 and The Age of the Sentry, We talk about the different style they bring to the Big Two, and what kind of fans that might be attracted by their books.

Finally, FBB proudly announces a new sister corporation, FBB Publishing! Listen to learn the terms of our “pact”, and its advantages over our competitor’s contracts who want to take advantage of impressionable youth! Deviant Art creators, join us! We pay $20.25 for a finished page: just enough to keep your self-respect.

May 29, 2008

Final Crisis #1 – “D.O.A.: The God of War”

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 5:06 pm

Well, it’s finally here. This took a bit longer than I expected to get up, frankly because there was just a Hell of a lot more to digest in this issue than I expected. I’ve gone through this page by page trying to bring up all the stuff I’m seeing below the surface, and hopefully clarify a lot of the more confusing points for newer readers/people not masochistic enough to read Countdown.

Without further ado.

NOTE: For an alternate take, Douglas Wolk has his annotations up – you probably know him from Reading Comics and the 52 Pick-Up blog, so check it out; he catches stuff I didn’t.

Pg. 1 – Establishing shot, as Anthro faces the reader from Metron’s perspective. While Anthro is holding his weapon in a defensive stance, clearly confused, he distinguishes himself in doing so from the animals, lesser beings fleeing this harbinger of knowledge.

Pgs. 2 and 3 – That first shot of Anthro and Metron from the original Christmas 2007 Didio interview, now colorized by Alex Sinclair. Metron, in what I presume is his new look due to the color scheme change, is wearing the same pattern on his outfit (this circuit pattern is important) and riding a slightly modified Mobius chair from Kirby’s original design. And, of course, he’s a smooth silver and enamel white – which implies that this is Metron in his Fifth World form, traveling back in time. Or maybe it isn’t, since the examples in the Sketchbook had Metron with the New Gods symbol on his chest – which seems odd, since the other pattern plays a part later. We’ll see.

Pg. 4 – On this page, Metron does the Prometheus routine. This is interesting, because in the Sketchbook, Morrison equated him to Mercury, even asking for the new design to have wingtips on the feet. Still, this kind of meddling is definitely in character for him, especially considering Turpin’s later statements and what this meddling causes. Either way, this page starts the issue’s longrunning fire motif, something we’ll get back to later.

Pg. 5 – Aw shit, Powers, eat your heart out. There’s really not much to say about this page other than “cavemen beating the shit out of each other.” That said, something I’m not sure about – I suspect the caveman in the center of this page might be Vandal Savage, but his eye color is blue, which seems to conflict with Savage’s orange eye color later on in the issue. (more…)

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