February 10, 2010

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. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Yes, I STILL have that cold. At least it's not strep throat. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None. "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. Planet Hulk DVD: Lions Gate/Marvel - Okay, I never read the original comics, most of what I know about the plot is summed up nicely in the pre- credits sequence of this movie ("Hulk, you're too dangerous, we're sending you somewhere with no intelligent life so you can be alone...hey, stop breaking the guidance system!"). If it weren't for the toy line, I wouldn't even know they did a substitution (Silver Savage is out, probably due to licensing entanglements, but a cleverly retconned retold Journey Into Mystery #83 in one of the flashbacks sets up the replacement nicely). All in all, it's a Flash Gordon/Edgar Rice Burroughs style story told with the Hulk in the protagonist slot (and everyone's general level of toughness ramped up to let them survive being around him). It moves briskly, and if it leans a bit too hard on cliches sometimes to fill in for things that aren't told explicitly, that's what cliches are for. They do NOT try to set up World War Hulk in here, which is a good thing...I'm not sure it'd even be a good idea to try to adapt that monstrosity to a single movie or even a series of movies, so just telling Planet Hulk on its own is the best move. I got the 2-disc edition at Target that includes a CDROM with Hulk #92 (Planet Hulk part 1), I believe the Best Buy exclusive has a hardcopy digest sized version of the same issue. The non-store-exclusive bonus disk has the usual featurettes (although the two featurettes share a distressingly large amount of footage), the episode of Wolverine and the X-Men where Logan and Hulk fight, a preview of the upcoming Thor: Legends of Asgard cartoon and several motion comics (meh). Recommended. I paid $15.99 at Target, but that was first week sale, price will vary. Time-Shifting: Sometimes I get a comic a week or two late because of Diamond's combination of neglect and incompetence. If it's more than a week late, though, I won't review it unless it's very notable. Additionally, I will often get tradepaperbacks long after publication or even sometimes before Diamond ships them, and those will go here. If I'm reasonably sure I'm reviewing something that didn't ship this week, this is the section for it. Amelia Rules! A Very Ninja Christmas: Atheneum - This is a smaller digest-sized book that looks like it was intended to be given as a stocking stuffer (for instance, there's a gift tag as part of the back cover). I think it says something about Diamond that I ordered this through them, never saw hide nor hair of it, and ended up ordering a copy through a reseller in ENGLAND and getting it with less hassle and at about cover price after shipping. This book is mostly reprints, with the "uncover the secret of Santa" story from the first collection (with a flip-animation of Amelia and Pajamaman dancing in the lower right corners), plus the "origin of the group" story from the "Funny Stories" book. For once, they identify previous printings, probably because they can stick with other Atheneum books and don't have to mention the dreaded floppies. The very end has a bunch of design sketches and process stuff, interesting to those of us who like that sort of thing. Recommended. $7.99/$9.99Cn Iron Man vs. Whiplash #3 (of 4): Marvel - In recent years, by which I mean since the 1980s, a recurring theme in Tony Stark's life has been trying to protect his intellectual property. Prevent the abuse of the children of his mind, even though you can't practice safe inventing and he's had a LOT of mind-kids. You simply can't keep track of all that data, no matter how hard you try. Biometrics are certainly a start, but as Braga and Guggenheim set up in #1, they're hardly infallible. And this issue makes it explicit that maybe there's code out there of Tony's that he hasn't been at ALL careful about. Heh. Interestingly, rather than Evil Overlording, the villains of this piece are giving Tony credit for being as smart as he's supposed to be, plus they're not underestimating Whiplash either. Oh, sure, given that this is set months ago we know they can't win in any significant way, but it won't be due to being overconfident. Smart, inventive villains making Tony's life hell WITHOUT requiring Tony's brain be shut off at key moments. Recommended. $3.99 New Comics: Comics and comic collections that I got this week and were actually supposed to be out this week, as far as I can tell. These reviews will generally be spoiler-free, but the occasional bit will slip in. Marvel Boy: The Uranian #2 (of 3): Marvel - Agents of Atlas Under Different Names continues (they get their own regular book back in May). The main story progresses pretty rapidly, covering one spy-smashing adventure, then Uranian intrigues that keep him off-planet for a year, followed by a return with new powers and a more "traditional" superhero mission. Along the way, the real life Astonishing stories are brought into the story as the stuff that Timely Comics sells based on Marvel Boy, fictions written to compensate for the "dullness" of his actual activities. Nice way to have one's cake and eat it too...the retconned history is firmly in place without totally denying the original stories. And in the Marvel Universe, where comics often tell modified versions of the truth (and are usable as legal references, as per She-Hulk's comic), it's reasonable to think that anyone researching Bob would mix up the "real" and the "fake" stories. There's two reprints from Astonishing, both with a mystic twist that's understandable given the horror comics Marvel Boy was competing against. Recommended. $3.99 The Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Jackpot #2 (of 3): Marvel - A good mix of Jackpot continuing to learn the ropes, and the villains of the piece not being chivalrous enough to let her rookie mistakes slide (although I'm a little surprised Spider-Man didn't point out the rookie mistake of her costume design). The cliffhanger at the end is high on shock value, although I don't really have a good enough read on Guggenheim to predict if he'll pull out a Happy Ending plot device or simply let Jackpot wallow in the suffering set up by the cliffhanger. Provisionally recommended. $3.99 Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #20: Marvel - Cover-featuring the Vision, although Diablo could make a case for being the feature character. It's hard to be sure, since the "emotions going nuts" arc has been rife with seemingly independent causes, but we might have seen the root of it all here. Or, at least, a player high up enough to know who's the true root. Tobin keeps several other subplots rolling, including hints at a Captain America/Sue Storm romance, something that could get REALLY messy even in an all-ages book. The art is cobbled together from three different listed artists, and although I think it may be two main artists and a finisher (no inker is listed separately), it still feels scattered. Recommended. $2.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #620: Marvel - Demented Looney Tunes. Seriously, there's plenty of real death and dismemberment among all the fakery, but at the same time the issue's loaded with Daffy Duck moments. Normally, I'd complain about incoherence, whipsawing between silly and serious, but Slott manages to balance it quite well, resulting in very dark humor. The art is credited to Martin and Pulido, but there's no obvious style disconnects, so either one is finishing over the other, or Martin works in the same style as Pulido to a close enough tolerance that it's not obvious who did which pages. Recommended. $2.99 Adventure Comics #7: DC - Blackest Night banner. This is fairly disconnected from #6 and likely from #8, a side story in the big Blackest Night finale. It's a good intro to Superboy/Connor for anyone who might be picking up the book for the crossover, summarizing his life and times (and time travels) in such a way as to not make it TOO obvious what the plot device at the end will be. :) And there's been enough Black Lantern stuff in Adventure already that anyone not following the event will still be able to figure out what's going on. Recommended. $3.99 Secret Six #18: DC - Blackest Night banner. Lots and lots of fighting against Black Lanterns to not much effect, followed by Amanda Waller generally being clever and...Wall-ish. The biggest revelation of the story, though, is made almost off-handedly...then again, since it concerns the new Mockingbird who seems to have materialized out of nowhere in #16 when I wasn't paying attention, perhaps off-handedly is the right way to deal with it. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Booster Gold #29: DC - Second feature Blue Beetle ends with this issue (they're going back to $2.99 regular issues with #30). The main story is VERY talky, with everybody debating back and forth over the morality of dealing with Hank Henshaw while simultanously setting him up to be the Big Villain of some future Event (keeping it vague enough that I doubt they have concrete plans, just recognizing that as long as he's in play he's gonna end up a weak Darkseid stand-in again and kill loads of people in an attempt to make readers take him seriously). Also, I wonder if we've now met Rip Hunter's mom. Family reunions will be a hoot. The Blue Beetle story wraps up fairly cleanly, if abruptly and somewhat ironically self-awarely. -ly. Recommended. $3.99 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 2/10/10: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #22, Gold Digger v3 #105, Marvel Index #13. Add SWORD #4 and REBELS #13. Awards: "Sometimes A Miracle Needs A Hand" Award to Amelia Rules! A Very Ninja Christmas "Maybe You CAN Kill Him More Than Once" Award to Iron Man vs Whiplash #3 (of 4) "Come Back To My Place, I Can Show You My Rocket" Award to Marvel Boy: The Uranian #2 (of 3) "Nekra Should Sue For Idea Theft" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Jackpot #2 (of 3) "No, 8th Grade Poetry Is A Lot Worse Than That" Award to Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #20 "I Do This Sort Of Thing To Him All Through The Picture" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #620 "Always Carry A Spare" Award to Adventure Comics #7 "Even Her Fingernails Keep Operational Security" Award to Secret Six #18 "Kids Today And Their Angst" Award to Booster Gold #29 Dave Van Domelen, "The government is messing around with TIME TRAVEL? That is the single scariest thing I have ever, ever heard." - Booster Gold
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