January 2016

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 So, turns out my new tax bracket is what payroll tax is tuned to. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None this month. Maybe I was just in a bad mood when it came time to review. In this installment: The Adventures of Jack and Miracle Girl, The Totally Awesome Hulk #2, Ms. Marvel v2 #3, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #2, Invader Zim #6, Gold Digger #228, Astro City #31, My Little Pony Friends Forever #24, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #38, Transformers Robots in Disguise #6 (of 6), The Transformers #49, Transformers Sins of the Wreckers #3 (of 4), Empowered Special Pew Pew Pew!, Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire #5 (of 5). Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Toil and Trouble #5, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #3. "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. The Adventures of Jack and Miracle Girl: (self-published?) - There's a "Signal Comics" logo on the cover, but no actual publisher information or Library of Congress data inside. I was a bit worried early on that this would turn into a heavy-handed metaphor (Miracle Girl is part of CrossGuard, for instance), but it settled into fairly standard superhero universe stuff, albeit in text form. While interesting enough to keep me reading to the end, it's not too ambitious. It doesn't go too far beyond the idea of "gender- swapped Superman and Lois Lane," and Jack barely notices the role reversal aspects. So, entertaining fluff, but not much more. Mildly recommended. (No cover price, but the Kindle version is $4.) Quick notes about some comics-related action figures I got this month: Superman vs Batman's $10 6" figures are decent if massively overburdened with Batman figures as is usual. I got Wonder Woman (pretty good) and Aquaman (likewise), a bit miffed that they decided to make the shoulders be just swivels while the elbows are universal joints. Also picked up the Ultimate Spider-Man Sinister 6 version of the Rhino, which is also $10 but an inch shorter and lacking knee joints (and the paint apps are pretty bad). So, SvB figures are better. 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 month. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Nothing this month. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Totally Awesome Hulk #2: Marvel - More premise-building and slooooowly revealing what happened to Banner. The presumed antagonist from the end of #1 has her motives muddied a bit...even if her statements can be taken at face value, the big reveal at the end of THIS issue of her true target creates definite ethical issues beyond the ones raised during the dialogue parts within the issue's body. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Ms. Marvel v2 #3: Marvel - 3-D printers can't make proteins, they make stuff out of plastic. Yeah, minor plot point, but considering it would have been easy enough to fix, it annoys me. The whole issue feels like an attempt to capture the early Silver Age feel of how heroes would Do Science in a quick scene to thwart the villainous plan, but...eh, doesn't really work for me. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #2: Marvel - Diamond doesn't seem to want to actually sell this book. Took a month after official publication to get this one, and #3 wasn't shipped either. Anyway, maybe the repeated waits are draining my enthusiasm, but this issue didn't really grab me. It felt like about half an issue padded out to a full issue, even though a quick re-read doesn't really identify any specific places where it's padded. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Invader Zim #6: Oni Press - Wow. This issue really sucked. It feels like the sort of gag they'd have been scraping the bottom of the barrel for if the show lasted another ten seasons or something. Avoid. $3.99 Gold Digger #228: Antarctic Press - More Deep Cosmology, with a B plot of "Fred wants to get more mileage out of a gag from last issue". Interesting, if a bit dry. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Astro City #31: DC/Vertigo - The conceit here is that the Living Nightmare inflicted the same dream on everyone in the city, and the narration is people remembering the dream all the same way. You'd think that the narration would notice how odd that is at some point...the device did get wearisome after a while. I think I'd have liked it better if the narration was getting handed off, rather than told to seem like everyone remembered the whole thing. Different people recalling different slices would ring more true. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friends Forever #24: IDW - Perhaps the most interesting thing about this issue is the implication that not only is Equestria not the be-all end-all of the world, but that in some ways it's parochial and out of touch with the rest of the world. Rarity helps Gilda with a couple of problems, only one of which is what was requested of her. Of secondary interest is the fact the one must be licensed to operate a spangle gun. And that spangle guns are a thing. The actual plot is pretty much bog standard "sports underdogs" in its beats, but Georgia Bell tells it amusingly. Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #38: IDW - Pretty forgettable first half of a "kids get lost" story, set before Crusaders of the Lost Mark, so Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara are still unreconstructed jerks. One of the big problems of deuterocanonical works like this is that you can't actually have character development for canonical characters, and this plot is the sort that is bleh and flat without that potential. (Friends Forever mostly used non-canonical characters, so they could grow or fail to grow and it wouldn't be any more inevitable than the plot structure made it.) Rice and Garbowska put in a few cute gags, but that's about all the issue has going for it. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers Robots in Disguise #6 (FINAL ISSUE): IDW - This really feels like a last minute patch job. The whole Optimus and Windblade subplot was clearly not meant to tie into the Vehicons plot, but rather be a setup for the next arc or even later on. Instead, it becomes an excuse for a quick cameo and a Convenient Discovery (that neither of them even know the relevance of until they show up with it). It would have been nice to read the original ending to this arc, the story had potential but clearly got nipped in the bud. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Transformers #49: IDW - "Conquerors" ends, but it really wasn't a thing on its own. It's more like a subplot that got pushed to the front and wrapped up quickly so that #50 could start an arc. In fact, for all of the sturm und drang and the "Gilgamesh had Cybertronian tech" stuff, it ends up feeling like the pre-credits part of a story. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers Sins of the Wreckers #3: IDW - Roche is juggling a LOT of stuff here, including multiple flashbacks which the art doesn't always make clear AS flashbacks right away. Seriously, guys, there's a visual language for this sort of thing. Rounded panels. USE THEM. Captions to establish location don't help if you don't use them to indicate time as well. Yes, yes, a tangled web is the theme of the story, but untangling the story is needlessly hard. Good pieces, badly assembled. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Empowered Special: Pew Pew Pew!: Dark Horse Comics - The tale of a plot device trying to up its game. The framing device makes it clear that it's mostly three encounters spread out over maybe a few days or a few weeks, with the narration switching around or turning off depending on the situation. Recommended. $3.99 Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire #5 (of 5): IDW - Better timing this time around, the webcomic version wrapped up a few days before the paper copy hit shelves. And thus, the first new-era story wraps up in typical kaiju fashion, with relief and a question mark visible only to the audience. The half-page daily originals were certainly an interesting experiment, but the limitations do stand out. (They won't be doing that next time, gonna do a full page MWF instead, more like Girl Genius.) Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "I'm the last griffon who's been to training camp and it's kind of important to know the difference between a pileblitz and a blitzpile -- (whispered) Hint: they're both very painful." - Firegem, My Little Pony Friends Forever #24
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