January 2015

Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et Cetera

Intermittent Picks and Pans of Comics and Related Media Standard Disclaimers: Please set appropriate followups. Recommendation does not factor in price. Not all books will have arrived in your area this week. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Getting my gall bladder removed over spring break. Yay. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): SHIELD #2 In this installment: Blink So Far TPB, Super Zombie Girl Stories, Q2: the Return of Quantum & Woody #4 (of 5), Gold Digger #217-8, The Multiversity Guidebook, Astro City #19, Deadpool's Art of War #4 (of 4), The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1, Spider-Man 2099 #7-8, SHIELD #1-2, Transformers #37, My Little Pony Friendship Forever #13, My Little Pony #27. (Due to a combination of "almost no one ships the last week of December" and picking up SHIELD #1 late, I have a bunch of double-ups this month.) "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. Nothing this time. I decided not to bother with the Aquaman nu52 animated movie, the commentary I was seeing from people who got it was not promising. Digital Content: Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so, I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. I will often be reading these things on my iPhone if it's at all possible. Nothing this time. Having a convenient, reliable store does tend to cut into my digital-only buying. Note, Atomic Robo is shifting to digital-first, with new material starting up in May. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Blink: So Far: Point Media - This is actually a few years old. I backed the crowdfunding that launched this, and reviewed the Wonka Wonka Kochalka story that I got from that, but the actual trade coming out coincided with my unemployment, so it kinda fell off my radar. But when Max Ink did the IndieGoGo campaign for Super Zombie Girl (see below), I pitched in at the level that also got me a copy of Blink, so I could catch up. Blink is a slice of life thing, a series of vignettes featuring a group of friends in Columbus OH. The title character is an aspiring webcomic artist who hasn't quit her day job, so writing what you know and all that. Others in the circle are more into music or other arts. The tales are generally fairly light in this volume, despite two of the main characters being homeless, looking for small moments of friendship or beauty. His site, MaxInkComix.com, is a bit on the un-updated side, but you can also find him posting somewhat darker "artist's struggle with himself" comics at thinklingscomic on Tumblr. Recommended. $10.00 cover price. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Super Zombie Girl Stories: Ribbit In Peace Press - Sort of a Blink spin-off, and the conceit is that it was written and drawn by Blink herself, although it was actualy written by Max Ink and drawn by Liz Valasco. The IndieGoGo campaign around this was a "rent is due" thing...Max had printed up a bunch of these in anticipation of slowly making his money back at cons and stuff, but Life Happens. (In case you're wondering, it made goal and then some.) The bulk of this magazine-page-sized black and white comic involves the title character helping a ghost try to find peace, your basic "creepy cute" kidlit story. Then there's four sketchbook pages introduced by Blink, but finally the fourth wall falls and there's a profile page for Max and Liz. I think I'll pass this on to my nieces, I expect they'll enjoy it. Recommended for younger readers, $5. (Although probably sold out now, thanks to the IndieGoGo.) Q2: The Return of Quantum & Woody #4 (of 5): Valiant - Well, Bright's art gets a bit worse this issue, and his refusal to draw Woody 2 as anything but a young version of Quantum 2 tends to make some of the flashbacks more confusing than they need to be. (Mind you, the colorist shares some of the blame, could've at least given the two different hair colors.) If #3 was about things falling apart, #4 is about cover stories falling apart. But while it has some good bits, it really doesn't read as well on its own as the previous parts (the script was written as a GN, the fact that it could be split into five issues without totally falling apart is a sign of good writing, but this is one place where it's not enough). Mildly recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger #217: Antarctic Press - And thus, the latest Ace vs. Roxy duel comes to an end, an end never really in doubt. Where this issue gets its dramatic tension is from Trixie, Roxy's big sister. Gold Digger has been following the usual anime trope of "former enemies eventually become allies" (something we're reminded of in #218), but Trixie seems set on subverting that trope. Where last issue it was still kind of up in the air if she'd really make a face turn, it's made QUITE clear that she's faking it. A face turn is not out of the question down the road, but it's certainly not in the cards in the short term. Recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger #218: Antarctic Press - And with the Honeymoon in Venice arc over, it's time for a done-in-one (which nonetheless has ties to #217). At first blush, this feels like Perry had an idea for messing with some C-lister supporting characters, so went ahead with it without any firm plans for it making a difference down the road. :) Of course, as often happens in this title, the plot twist is spoilered by the cover. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Multiversity Guidebook #1: DC - Okay, I'm a sucker for guidebooks. I'm a bit annoyed that the big mappa mundi splashpage is messed up by sloppy production values (misaligned pages, so the halves are offset and some content is lost in the fold). There's also a storyline in here, so only about half the pages are actual guidebook. My main impression from this, though, is that DC is almost definitely going to be rebooting soon. Only 7 of the 52 Earths are left undefined, and a lot of them are one-off Elseworlds or even parodies (like the one that's a riff on Image and Supreme). Why such a rush to fill in all the potential worlds that could be used later? While some have suggested DC is just letting Grant Morrison do whatever he feels like because he's Grant Morrison, I still think it's a sign that they're no longer worried how things get damaged, because a reboot is coming. (And probably a half-assed reboot that once again preserves a bunch of stuff while erasing others and making it unclear for a while what can be trusted.) Otherwise, it's an interesting read, in "detailed examaination of the train wreck" way. And I am amused that where Yale Stewart got a C&D for "Little League," a nearly identical concept here uses the name. Mildly recommended, $7.99. Astro City #19: DC/Vertigo - Quarrel's backstory continues, from her debut as a costumed vigilante up through an important turning point in both that career and her relationship with Crackerjack. There was one bit that invoked time travel, but I kinda wish it hadn't...because the alternative would have been to give her cirminal father a bit more depth. Still, despite occasionally lapsing into excessive narration, it does a good job of establishing why Quarrel puts up with Crackerjack. Recommended. $3.99 Deadpool's Art of War #4 (of 4): Marvel - And things wrap up, ending with a jab at the publishing industry (well, another one), and an indication that this might have been planned as a GN rather than a miniseries. Or maybe it'll just be a GN in the Earth-616 version. Fun and educational, if a bit bloody. Recommended. $3.99 The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1: Marvel - I like Squirrel Girl. I like other stuff by Ryan North. But this comic didn't really click for me. I suppose part of it is that North rushes to wallow in superhero cliches like "I need to get a secret identity!" which I've seen done quite a lot over the decades. It's not that there's no humor potential there, just that it's been kinda wrung out for me. And while the footnotes were a nice touch, could they please be in slightly darker colors? This isn't hovertext I can make more readable by cursoring over it, it's tiny type in light brown on white gutters. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Spider-Man 2099 #7-8: Marvel - These I'll clump together, because they're an extended Spider-Verse crossover bit. Spider-Verse has so thoroughly displaced this book's own plots that one subplot had to be exported to X-Factor. Basically, while other Spider totems are running around fighting and fleeing and stuff, Spider-Man 2099 and Lady Spider are in 2099 (which shouldn't exist because of the time travel reasons that brought Mig to the present in the first place, oh well) doing science. Well, they go back to her home reality for more science in #8, so they're doing science across realities. Unfortunately, since this is a crossover tie-in, the results of all this science will be seen elsewhere, and at most get some flashback panels in this book. Mildly recommended. $3.99 each. SHIELD #1: Marvel - While a straight adaptation of the SHIELD TV show wouldn't fit into the Earth-616 version, Mark Waid puts together the next best thing, focusing on Coulson and many of the show regulars. Right off the bat, it establishes that Coulson's strategic role is that of OverGeek, knowing everything about every super, so as to better call in the best possible reinforcements, etc. Nice big gollywhomper battle against darkness, and Coulson engineering victory by being smarter than the bad guys. Recommended. $4.99 (oversized issue). SHIELD #2: Marvel - No issue of Ms. Marvel this month, but having her in SHIELD is the next best thing. Geek-off with Coulson! Also, Humberto Ramos paired with Waid. The only downside is that Coulson doesn't really strike me as the kind to use textspeak. He'd have made sure his phone expands things into proper words. Strongly recommended. $3.99 Transformers #37: IDW - I'm starting to agree with the "enough with Prowl whipsawing back and forth" sentiment. When Galvatron's claims seem to have validity, you know you're in trouble. The good part of the issue, though, was showing that Arcee can go toe-to-toe with Galvatron and fight him to a standstill. Otherwise, it's ticking forward to the start of the Combiner Wars, doing a competent but not brilliant job. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friends Forever #13: IDW - Rarity and Babs Seed. Whitley and Garbowska spend most of the issue having Rarity being her usual somewhat oblivious self, trying to show Babs the world of high fashion and how wonderful it is, before learning that it can't be a one-way street, etc. A few good sight gags, but otherwise a pretty weak story. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #27: IDW - Another two-parter from Cook and Price. The Everfree Forest is invading again, but this time it's not the marauder vines, just regular flora and fauna. By the end of the issue it's pretty firmly in Lorax territory, with Cook pushing the modern end of the elements used in Equestria (which is normally more Victorian in the cities and Mythical Small Town America of the same era out in the sticks). I suppose there's precedent in canon for minotaurs (who are involved here) being closer to modern humans in their outlook and social structures. In the middle, I am amazed Cook resisted the temptation to make explicit an implied heart/hart pun. That's a lot of self-control, there. (Deer in the Everfree are very much Tolkein-style elves, including their architecture that feels cribbed out of Lord of the Rings Online's Caras Galadhel.) Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "The things kids do for MONEY these days, right? When I was a boy, I sold GRIT." "What's Grit?" "A newspaper. For farmers." "How OLD are you?" - Agent Coulson and Ms. Marvel, SHIELD #2
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