February 2, 2014

Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and Awards

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 Not gonna do a Best Books compilation, just look at the year's entries. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None. In this installment: Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #4-5, Bandette #6, Nova Phase #1-2, Gold Digger #206, Astro City #8, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #15, My Little Pony Friends Forever #1, Samurai Jack #4. "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. Oops. I meant to pick up the Target-exclusive Justice League direct to video movie, despite hearing it was pretty bad, but I didn't notice it on the rack and forgot to look more carefully when I was in Joplin. 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 iPod if it's at all possible. Atomic Robo the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #4-5 (of 5): Red5 Comics - Due to the vagaries of small press release schedules, the final two issues both came out in January. Lots of running fights, both at Tesladyne and underground, with Dr. Dinosaur expositing in his own inimitable (and inimical) way. Not necessarily the strongest plots seen in an Atomic Robo book, but good implementation. And a great twist ending that turns a recurring assertion about the setting on its head. Recommended. $2.99 at ComiXology. Bandette #6: Monkeybrain Comics - I think this'll be my last issue. While it had a strong start, a lot of things that were initially amusing quirks are now just annoying. Kind of like a relationship on the verge of a breakup, I suppose. If you really like Tintin and other series of that style, you'll probably enjoy Bandette. But I came in because of the creators rather than the homage, and...well, let's just say I don't read Tintin either, and it's World Acclaimed as a great title. Neutral. $0.99 at ComiXology. Nova Phase #1-2: SLG - First issue was free, and I was just interested enough to shell out a buck for the second. The story is fairly standard space opera stuff: starry-eyed young woman wants to get off her backwater world, but her good nature always sabotages her attempts to be mercenary and make enough cash to do so. She stumbles into an interstellar plot involving a highly placed figure with something to hide and a plucky (if potentially amoral) group of criminals/rebels/malcontents. What sets it apart is the 8-bit art, the sort of thing that makes me feel REALLY old when I realize it's aggressively retro. Heck, I still remember Shatter being heavily advertised as the first computer-generated comic, and if anything Nova Phase has more advanced art than Shatter did. Despite the somewhat pedestrian nature of the plot, there's just enough bits and pieces here and there to keep me interested enough to pick up #3 when it comes out. Chief among them being that the main character clearly lives in a metropolis of at least a few million people, and still thinks of her homeworld as a podunk backwater...unless that's just bad art direction, it says something about how people live in that setting. Mildly recommended. First issue free, second issue $0.99 at ComiXology. Gold Digger #206: Antarctic Press - Taking a while for my new store to start getting copies of this in stock. They were supposed to get #207 by now too, I'm going to see if they can get it in by my next trip to Joplin before going for the digital copy. #206 continues the "Brianna protecting her new holdings" storyline, but the main conflict is between her and Cheetah's ideas of what it means to be a proper mother. While each is a warrior, Britt's experiences and separation from Tif have left her a much more protective sort, more traditionally maternal. Brianna has the "hasn't been hurt yet" confidence that she can do it all, and here she has to convince her big sister to let her do it her way. Recommended. $2.99 at ComiXology. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. None this month. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Astro City #8: DC/Vertigo - One of the problems of an implied backstory is that it makes it hard to set up a mystery, because the culprit is bound to be someone the reader has never heard of before, whether it's a new threat or an old rival. This issue is split between trying to figure out who's behind Winged Victory's troubles and providing more background for how she became a hero, with a break so Samaritan and Confessor can have a Superman vs. Batman fight. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #15: IDW - Another Nuhfer/Mebberson issue. In some ways, it feels like it was inspired by a two-line description of the Power Ponies episode, but without any other significant knowledge of Season 4. It generally doesn't seem very well-thought-out, a cute premise with loads of, "Hey, wait..." moments while reading it. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friends Forever #1: IDW - The conceit of this one is to follow up on the solo-spotlight series with duets. This premiere issue is drawn by Carla Speed McNeil, whose work I generally really like, but I think here she made the mistake of sticking too closely to the animation models. There's very little of her own personality in the art, making it feel like a fan creation using vectors taken from the show. DeCampi's story is okay, but it defuses its own conflict way too early. What looks like it will be a cooking competition between Applejack and Pinkie becomes them collaborating to help someone else win. The problem with such a shift is that there's no longer even the pretense of suspense: even if Pinkie or AJ wins, you know they'll give the prize to the third pony, so it becomes a matter of going through the motions. At that point, the gags become a lot more important since the plot went out the window, and the gags are merely okay. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Samurai Jack #4: IDW - The problem with a thread like this binding the arc together, is that it removes the mystery. Gosh, this new setting has someone with a mysterious ability...I wonder if it could be due to a Thread of Time? Yep, it is. I think I'm going to stop commenting on the individual issues until the arc ends, then evaluate any I skipped over in light of that. But this one feels like padding. It could have been done as a two page summary in the "And it was during the strange case of the ageless queen that..." style, and lost nothing. Neutral. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "Yeah, well, MOST problems I work with don't have BULLETS as a variable." - Tesladyne scientist, Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #4 (of 5)
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