February 4, 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.
Got a chicken pox vaccine today, in case.  Rants, Capsules can be found on my 
             homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 

     Warning, it's a long one today.

"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.

     Iron Man Captain America Armor: Hasbro - This is one of those oddball
inter-wave toys that was originally shown as a co-sell along with the second
wave of Iron Man movie figures, but as far as I can tell didn't actually get
released until the "Concept Series" in the third wave.  Unfortunately, in
delaying the figure, they didn't retool it...the third wave Mk03 armors are
MUCH better figures, and this is the cheaper version of the first wave Mk03,
with shoulderpads that fall off, a head that's loosely atop a single big ball
joint and tiny hands.  It comes with the Q-Tip missile launcher endemic to
the first wave toys, and a fairly badly made Captain America shield.
     The visuals are meant to evoke the Cap/Iron Man armor seen on the cover
of "What If? Civil War", but the details don't match up.  Additionally, they
swapped the blue and silver on the thighs.  The biceps have an odd light
pinkish silver instead of regular silver, I'm not sure what's up with that,
unless the silver paint reacted badly with the underlying red plastic.  The
torso, launcher, thighs and some joints are bright blue plastic.  The head is
white plastic painted over bright blue and silver, the missile is light ice
blue clear plastic, the limbs and shield are dark red plastic.  There's a
black clip on the shield that's supposed to work with two elastic bands to
hold the shield on, and the combination barely manages it.
     According to the package back, the purpose of this armor is to give Tony
a simulated version of Captain America's fighting skills, and it claims the
two men are friends.  Not that they were on very good terms before Steve's
death in the comics, or Steve's even walking around in the movie continuity.
Ah well.  Avoid this toy.  $10.44 at Wal-Mart.

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): Eureka #1 (of
4), Farscape #2 (of 4).

     Monsterpocalypse #3 (of 3): Desperado - Well, very few surprises here.
The expected redemption arc plays out, complete with last ditch efforts and
heroic sacrifice that's pretty much telegraphed by the cover.  There's a
Final Page Shocker/Question Mark, of course, more in keeping with the Western
giant monster tradition, and probably left as a lead-in to volume 2 (which
will hopefully have better luck keeping to a monthly schedule).  Mildly
recommended.  $3.99
     Transformers All Hail Megatron #7: IDW - The only TF title that Diamond
seems willing to ship to my store.  This issue is almost entirely flashback,
showing how we got from the end of the previous main-story series to the
start of AHM.  And, of course, in nearly the driest, least emotionally
impactful way possible.  The only interesting bit is a different flashback
that explains what the Swarm is.  Very mildly recommended.  $3.99
     Gold Digger/Ninja High School Maidens of Twilight #1: Antarctic - Genn
and Seance (GD) end up by Convenient Coincidence with a couple of the NHS
cast who are on the run since recent events in NHS (and stuck in a Poverty
Plot).  Toss in some furry semi-competent bounty hunters and Wackiness
Ensues.  Written by Perry, Bevard and J.L. Anderson (who does the art), it
doesn't really feel like a jam piece, but neither is it all that compelling.
Mildly recommended.  $3.50
     Legion of 3 Worlds #3 (of 5): DC - Yay, huge and probably unnecessary
delay between issues to try to make Final Crisis stuff synch up, which is a
sisyphean task.  Speaking of such tasks, good luck following everything
that's going on here.  Especially when they start tossing in retcons along
with genuine history without really indicating which is which (and,
apparently, there's now more than 52 Earths, since Reboot Legion is from
Earth-247).  Worth a read for Legion fans for the Perez crowd scene art, but
the story's not that great.  I do like the interaction between the three
Querls, at least.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
     Secret Six #6: DC - The cover looks like it belongs on #7.  Most of this
issue is dominated by backstory, both revealing who hired the Six for this
run and then going into the backstory of Jeannette.  There's an "Origins &
Omens" banner on the cover, which goes with a backup tale in which a new
Ominous Threat ponders the backstory of the team.  They're chain-smoking
Cosmic Threads at DC, apparently.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99
     Invincible Iron Man #10: Marvel - One of the few Marvel books not at
$3.99 this week.  I'll grant Fraction this much, he does manage to include
all the relevant Dark Reign stuff in this issue that's needed to follow
what's going on, even if it's pretty abbreviated (i.e. Osborn becoming Iron
Patriot, etc).  There was, unfortunately, a bit of a disjoint feel to the
issue, like the cliffhanger of #9 was put on hold for a while.  Meanwhile,
Pepper gets something else in common with her ex-husband, heh.  Mildly
recommended.  $2.99
     Official Index to the Marvel Universe #2: Marvel - Amazing Spider-Man
#53-102 and assorted Annuals; Tales of Suspense #74-99, Iron Man and
Sub-Mariner #1, Iron Man #1-11; X-Men #51-108 (the all-reprint issues in the
middle there get very abbreviated entries).  Recommended.  $3.99
     The Amazing Spider-Man #585: Marvel - The issue is dominated by Spidey
getting kicked around by Menace, who's having a bad day.  Spidey's day is
worse, mind you.  The identity of Menace is finally revealed, though, and a
somewhat ominous revelation about the Spider-Tracer Killer seems to be in the
offing.  Recommended.  $2.99
     Mighty Avengers #21: Marvel - Well, at least I got ONE title off my
"Diamond is full of screwups" missing issue list today.  Slott picks up a
bunch of threads from various titles to forge an all new team, given that the
old Mighty Avengers are now mainly the Dark Avengers.  And putting the band
back together is Amadeus Cho, the seventh (or maybe eighth) smartest person
on the planet.  :)  The plot is your basic "massive mystic threat that's so
huge you know it has a reset button", but that's fine...I doubt any reader is
expecting things like a blood-flooded Manhattan or a vanished Oklahoma to
actually last past the end of the arc.  It's rather talky in between the
vanishing states and such, but Slott does good banter.  Khoi Pham's art does
a pretty good job of supporting the mix of exposition and explosition.
Strongly recommended.  $3.99
     Agents of Atlas #1: Marvel - Heh.  On the front page, Ken "Gorilla Man"
Hale sums up the last several company events in terms of what they got rid
of.  Rather telling, isn't it?  That they can be defined so easily in terms
of what they subtracted from the Marvel Universe...but did they add anything?
Anyway, the main story sets up the premise for the title, although I'm kinda
sad that Parker made a somewhat minor villain kinda cool before killing him
off.  Carlo Pagulayan is no Leonard Kirk, but he does a pretty good job
overall.  Characters spend a bit too much time talking about what happened
rather than doing things, though...true, there's a big infodump they have to
get through, but it felt a bit too dry in places.  There's a backup set in
1958 with nicely retro art by Benton Jew, most or all of which was made
available online as a serial (I read the first two parts, but forgot to check
for the third, but I presume it was posted).  Recommended.  $3.99
     Cthulhu Tales #11: Boom! Studios - Four pieces this time, if you count
the splash page "chocolate assortment a la HPL".  The first story,
"Incorporation," is a fairly straightforward updating of a Cthultist story.
"The Invention" reads like the tip of an interesting story but doesn't really
get the space to develop it nor does it really work as just a tip.  Finally,
"Where Am I?" wraps up and feels like it's missing a page or two.  Mildly
recommended.  $3.99
     Eureka #1 (of 4): Boom! Studios - I'd like to lead with a comment about
the art by Diego Barreto.  One thing that tends to irk me about licensed
property comics is that they almost always hire someone who's really good at
making the faces of everyone look just right, but whose actual visual
storytelling skills are at best wooden.  Barreto, however, gives just enough
likeness to tell who they're supposed to be and otherwise doesn't worry too
much about that part of the art.  His style reminds me of Chris Sprouse inked
by Keith Giffen.  In a good way, usually.  Okay, on to the story.  Andrew
Cosby has the story credit, with Brendan Hay on scripting, and they manage to
capture the pacing and spark of the TV show.  Managing that, given the
radically different needs of the medium, is no mean feat.  Additionally, they
manage to establish all the important relationships and premises pretty
smoothly, no awkward infodumps or important bits left for later.  Boom's
definitely got a knack for getting the writers who can write good tie-ins.
Strongly recommended.  $3.99
     Farscape #2 (of 4): Boom! Studios - My store gave me the limited edition
cover C (inked art only)...which has no price on it.  "Limited Edition" takes
the place of that information.  Maybe it's intentional, to let the store mark
it up, but they sold it to me for the regular version's $3.99.  Anyway, while
Patterson's art is a little wobbly in places, the story by O'Bannon and
DeCandido continues to be very good.  Strongly recommended.  $3.99.
     Dynamo5 #19: Image - The big "new Dynamo5" fight scene wraps up,
although I'm not sure if all the questions (i.e. who is Vigil, really?) get
answered.  And it IS made obvious to the readers that one of the pat answers
is at best not the whole story and at worst a total lie.  Slingshot gets a
backup solo story set during the team breakup period to wrap up one of the
loose ends from an earlier story.  The art is kinda odd in its
proportioning.  Recommended.  $3.50
     PS238 #37: Do Gooder Press - A sort of breath-catching issue, dominated
by several of the students reading their "creative writing" assignments, most
of which are thinly disguised autobiographies (or autohagiographies in some
cases).  But there is some plot advancement here, and it's a significant
Character Moment.  Recommended.  $2.99

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 2/4/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe
#22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #1 and 2, Transformers Revenge of the
Fallen Prequel #1 and 2, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen: Defiance #1.
Add Comic Book Comics #3, Adventure #0, Jersey Gods #1.


"The Extremely Vincible Iron Man" Award to Captain America Iron Man figure

"Moo?" Award to Monsterpocalypse #3 (of 3)

"Not Only Are We Going To Summarize What Happened, We're Going To Pointedly
     NOT Talk Anout Some Of It, Because That Always Makes For Scintillating
     Storytelling" Award to Transformers All Hail Megatron #7 (of 12)

"Death Takes (A Job Working At A) Holiday (Resort)" Award to Gold Digger/
     Ninja High School Maidens of Twilight #1

"Querlousness" Award to Legion of 3 Worlds #3 (of 5)

"Incorrective Surgery" Award to Secret Six #6

"Going Out With A Bang, So To Speak" Award to The Invincible Iron Man #10

"Und I Vill Form Der Kopf!" Award to Official Index to the Marvel Universe
     #2 (specifically, to the Third Sleeper story indexed therein)

"Get A Room Already" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #585

"Eight's Enough" Award to The Mighty Avengers #21

"Explosions Tend To Screw Up The Org Chart" Award to Agents of Atlas #1

"So Do Tentacles" Award to Cthulhu Tales #11

"Isn't Empathy From Stark A Sign Of The Apocalypse?" Award to Eureka #1 (of

"Diapers And Explosives, One Stop Shopping" Award to Farscape #2 (of 4)

"A Nerd Dating A Hot Chick?  That WOULD Be Wish-Fulfillment Fiction" Award
     to Dynamo5 #19

"Sidekick Costumes In Tubes Have Clearly Jumped The Shark" Award to PS238

     Dave Van Domelen, "So...HOUSE OF M got rid of mutants...CIVIL WAR got
rid of Captain America...WORLD WAR HULK got rid of Hulk (kind of)...SECRET
INVASION got rid of the Wasp, and...DARK REIGN got rid of people liking Iron
Man." - Gorilla Man's mega-event wrapup, Agents of Atlas #1
Back to the Main Rants Page.

Eat clearanced chocolate hearts in the February 2009 Page.