January 21, 2009

Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and Awards

The Week's Picks and Pans, plus Awards of Dubious Merit

Standard Disclaimers: Please set appropriate followups.  Recommendation does
not factor in price.  Not all books will have arrived in your area this week.
Done calling roll for the semester.   Rants, Capsules can be found on my 
             homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 

     Diamond's distribution point for us is apparently moving, which has
raised their incompetence levels to new heights.  Something like a dozen
titles simply didn't get shipped to my store this week.  Another missed
Transformers comic in the mix, although they successfully shipped all the
NON-Transformers books IDW is releasing this week.  Hastings, a regional
media chain, has been getting the first TF:RotF prequel comic in, so I'm
reading it on the shelf while I wait, but I may have to order the TPBs online
to get a chance to see 'em.

"Other Media" Capsules:

     Things that are comics-related but not necessarily comics
(i.e. comics-based movies like Iron Man or Hulk), or that aren't going to be
available via comic shops (like comic pack-ins with DVDs) will go in this
section when I have any to mention.  They may not be as timely as comic
reviews, especially if I decide to review novels that take me a week or two
(or ten) to get around to.

     Bug Zapper Blue Beetle: Mattel - This is a "Deluxe" figure, which is to
say it's two bucks more expensive and comes with a missile launcher.  But
it's also the only single-pack version of Blue Beetle as far as I can tell,
and the only one with the proper backpack spikes/legs.  A 5" (12cm) figure,
pretty close to the Brave and the Bold animation model and made of softer
plastic.  There's big (7mm) hexagonal peg-holes on the shoulders, calves and
back for attaching modular accessories, which is the B:B&B toy line's main
gimmick.  Articulation at neck, shoulders (swivel), elbows (hinge), waist and
hips (H-type).  No knees, ankles or wrists.  The backpack sits a bit too far
back from the figure due to the docking peg mechanism, but otherwise looks
right.  It also has a secondary piece with fold-out wings, but the wing piece
cannot be attached in any way that looks even remotely non-stupid.  A missile
made of sky blue plastic launches from the backpack (which can be repurposed
as an arm-mounted launcher), or can be held as a sort of club.  It would take
extensive modification to make the backpack look show-accurate, and the
aggressive childsafeness of the pieces makes modding harder.  Additionally,
the figure can't stand up while wearing the backpack, and lacks any sort of
stand to stabilize it.  Basically, unless you're a huge Jaime Reyes fan or
under 8 years old, give this figure a pass.  $9.87 at Walmart*.

Comics Capsules:
     Short, relatively spoiler-free reviews of books I actually bring home
(as opposed to reading in preview form in the shop or online).  If I get a
book late due to distributor foulups or whatever, I'll put it in the Missing

     Books of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Marvel
Adventures Avengers #32

     Fallen Angel #33: IDW - Listed on the cover as the final issue, which I
guess resolves my wobbling over whether to drop the title.  Mind you, it's
not really cancelled, as "Fallen Angel Reborn" is on the slate for July, so
it's probably just going into the IDW Mandatory Miniseries Plan, but that's
good enough for me.  I don't plan to get Reborn.  The story wraps up here,
with plenty of poetic justice and some of Woodward's murkiest art.  Mildly
recommended.  $3.99
     The Brave and the Bold #21: DC - Speaking of wobbly titles....  The
cover lists Green Arrow rather than Phantom Stranger, but he's barely more
than a cameo this issue.  The moral of this issue's story is that one can
take Buddhism too far, I guess.  Neutral.  $2.99
     X-Factor #39: Marvel - There's a plea not to spread spoilers on the
"what has gone before" page.  And given the contrary nature of fandom, that
pretty much guaranteed that the spoilers will be spread far and wide.  And
yeah, there's a Big Shocker, but the existence of a Big Shocker is not, in
itself, terribly shocking, if you follow.  :)  The Big Shocker also answers
some "out of story" issues I'd been wondering about, and has interesting
implications for one of the title's danglers, in addition to the obvious
effects on the team.  Recommended.  $2.99
     The Amazing Spider-Man #584: Marvel - The cover promises revelations,
resolutions and romance.  Well, one out of three ain't horrible.  It does
deliver some pretty good humor and action from Guggenheim and JRjr, though,
including a discussion on civic responsibility between Shocker and Boomerang
and a nice bit of irony (although they hang a sign on it).  Recommended.
     Marvel Adventures Avengers #32: Marvel - Okay, I have decried what I
call the Poverty Plot before, using a financial bludgeon to get characters to
do things they might not otherwise do (in fact, I have essayed on it, in a
way: http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Hatrack/LNH/Files7).  But Tobin manages to
pull off the taxman variation of it with panache, including a great scene
between Hulk and Bullseye.  Strongly recommended.  $2.99
     Love and Capes #8: Maerkle Press - Okay, cost me a bit more to buy
online (i.e. no store discount, plus shipping, although Zahler did sign the
issues :) ), but I doubt Diamond would ever cough the issues up.  Especially
now that Diamond is bumping up minimum publisher orders again.  Anyway, you
know you read too many comics when you wonder if it's supposed to mean
something when someone in a comic is wearing a pretty close copy of the
bowling shirts Harley Quinn's gang used to wear.  :) Most of the issue is the
same sort of "between the fights" stuff that Zahler excels at, as the main
romantic relationship shifts gears from dating to planning a wedding, but
just as Invincible sometimes brings the big stuff to the front, so does L&C.
Okay, to the middle.  The actual fight scenes are still off-camera, but the
non-mundane crisis is more prominent.  This is also the first time there's a
cliffhanger that doesn't solely revolve around the romantic plotlines.
Fortunately for me, I have the next issue right here.  Recommended.  $3.95
($4.90 with S&H from www.loveandcapes.com)
     Love and Capes #9: Maerkle Press - The cliffhanger resolves in such a
way as to avoid the annoying elements of the tropes bound into it, which I
greatly appreciate.  :)  It's not so much turning cliches on their head as
simply knowing how much time to spend on them and when to move on.  #10 will
be a FCBD comic, so I'm reasonably sure Diamond will ship THAT (after all,
they shipped the last two FCBD issues of L&C).  Of course, that also means
waiting until May for the resolution of THIS issue's cliffhanger.  :)
Recommended.  $3.95 ($4.90 with S&H)

Gone Missing:

     Stuff that came out some places this week and that I wanted to buy, but
couldn't find for whatever reason, so people don't have to email me asking
"Why didn't you review X?"  (If it's neither here nor in the section above,
though, feel free to ask, I might have forgotten about it!) 

     Current list as of 1/21/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe
#22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #1 and 2, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen
Prequel #1 and 2.  Add Transformers Revenge of the Fallen: Defiance #1,
Justice League of America #29, Mighty Avengers #21.


"I Don't Suppose They're Moving To A Reality Where They Give A Damn?" Award
     to Diamond Comics Distribution

"The Reward For A Job Well Done Is Another Job" Award to Fallen Angel #33
     (P.S. a nicely Masonic issue to end the story on)

"Or Maybe It's Taking Jainism Too Far" Award to The Brave and the Bold #21

"Is It Too Late To Return To The Womb?" Award to X-Factor #39

"Spider-Man Versus The Red Herring!" Award to the Amazing Spider-Man #584

"Actually, I Need To Get My Taxes Done This Week" Award to Marvel Adventures
     Avengers #32

"To An Elder Of Reality, The 1980s Were An Eyeblink Ago" Award to Love and
     Capes #8

"I Bet Darkblade Figured Out The Fifth Cylon" Award to Love and Capes #9

     Dave Van Domelen, "Hulk says pay taxes.  I pay taxes." - Bullseye,
Marvel Adventures Avengers #32

Dave's Capsules Addendum - Books I Grabbed On Thursday

     Well, my Monsterpocalypse game was a bust tonight (the shop shifted to
only five days a week, so now there's no completely open night to schedule
it, and it's everyone's second choice game), so while I waited around to see
if anyone was interested in giant monsters instead of L5R or Heroclix, I
browsed the shelves for a few things I'd heard about on Wednesday.

     Mysterius the Unfathomable #1: DC/Wildstorm - Jeff Parker's not quite on
my "if he writes it, buy it," but he's pretty close.  Still, I wasn't
interested enough by the solicits for this book to pre-order it.  I gave it a
shot and decided to buy it.  The art by Tom Fowler has a very Bernie
Wrightson vibe, appropriate for a story about snarky mysticism.  The setting
is a "masquerade" sort, where magic exists and is pretty common, but somehow
avoids being publically known by simply behaving impishly around skeptics.
And there's the prerequisite Stupid Skeptic character who's clearly wrong
because he foolishly thinks he lives in the real world rather than fiction.
These elements tend to annoy the crap out of me.  But Parker's scripting is
up to his usual standards, and Mysterius as a character is interesting.
Think of him as being like the crankier versions of Doctor Who, but using
magic and spiritualism with no pretense of science.  Or maybe Doctor Strange
meets House.  Anyway, I found the issue entertaining enough I'll give it a
few more issues.  Unless Wildstorm has gone all IDW on us, it's not a
miniseries, and it does seem to be set up to be episodic rather than using a
strong arc (although that could develop later).  Provisionally recommended.
$2.99 [Later note: stealth miniseries, it's solicited for 6 issues even
though there's no indication on the cover or indicia that it's a mini.  I
hate it when they do that.]
     Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil #1: Marvel - This seems to be set in
the Marvel Adventures world, although it lacks the red banner across the top.
It does have the All Ages label and shares ads and promos with the MA
Avengers issue I got the same week, though.  It's also written by Paul Tobin,
who wrote MA Avengers, and shares the sort of house style MA books seem to be
developing.  Anyway, this definitely fits in with MAA in tone, a sort of
"it's fun to be super-powered, even if we ARE evil" vibe.  This issue mainly
focuses on the Sinister Six, and while Zemo et al show up in a photograph I
sort of suspect that "Masters of Evil" in this case is more of a generic "any
really strong supervillain," making this book hearken back to the 1970s
Super-Villain Team-Up book.  Doctor Doom going around the MA-Universe and
manipulating various supervillain teams for his own ends, that sort of
thing.  One might argue that the book's a little TOO light-hearted for a
villain book, but if you liked the dynamics of Priest's Deadpool, you'll like
this too.  Strongly recommended.  $2.99  [Later note: Another stealth mini,
this time of 4 issues.]

Books of Note Addendum: Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil #1

"But I Don't WANT A Toilet That Opens Onto The Cosmos!" Award to 
     Mysterius the Unfathomable #1

"Doc Ock Rocks It Old School" Award to Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil #1

     Dave Van Domelen, quoting a visual this time: on a subway train,
Mysterio disguises himself and the Sinister Six as a bishie boy and five
Japanese schoolgirls.  Harem Powers Activate!  Um, and I really don't want to
know which of the Six was cast as the slutty girl.
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