February 16, 2011

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 Today's high was 65F higher than last Wednesday's high temperature. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None. A lot of good, but no great. 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 2/16/11: Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #8, Chaos War Dead Avengers #1, Shadowland Power Man #4, Transformers Timelines G2 Redux, Gold Digger v3 #123, Widowmaker #3, Time Lincoln Apocalypse Mao, Invincible #77, Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #11, Widowmaker #4, Gold Digger #125 and Atomic Robo Deadly Art of Science #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. Transformers Crossovers Ghost Rider: Hasbro - This is the only new mold in its wave, with the cosells on the package being the race car Iron Man, a black redeco of the race car Spider-Man, and a red and black singlepack redeco of the Spider-Man helicopter. "This battle suit was built specifically to take advantage of the magical energies that give GHOST RIDER his powers. It is the perfect fusion of technology and sorcery, enhancing the arcane flame that GHOST RIDER uses as a weapon." Yeah, that had to be a project that Tony Stark was eager to take on. There's not too terribly much robot stuff visible in vehicle mode, although the head doesn't really hide all that well behind the windshield and the chain weapon's storage is kinda awkward. Transformation is fairly straightforward (the instructions neglect to mention stowing the handlegrips, although the final step does have them in the correct place). Well- proportioned mech mode, although the big flaming boots do look a little off. The ratcheting hip joints make it hard to stand the figure outside of two or three poses, though. And the neck just doesn't want to lock into a stable position, giving the mech a very floppy head. If this could be found in stores for $15, I'd probably suggest picking it up. At the least it's a motorcycle transformation not used much before, and it looks pretty good in both modes. But given that inflation has hit the Crossovers line pretty hard (stores aren't inclined to make them loss-leaders like main-line Transformers), it's questionable whether it's worth the $20 you'd probably have to pay. At $18.33 with free shipping from Amazon (it was part of a larger order), I found it to be marginal. Mildly recommended. 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. The Amazing Spider-Man #654: Marvel - JJ Jameson hates Spider-Man. It's one of those things like the existence of Aunt May or Peter's rotten luck in his personal life that is considered an iconic part of the Spider-Man mythos. As a result, while JJ can soften his attitude towards Spidey once in a while, he'll always go back to the hate (just like Aunt May always survives somehow, Peter's love life always ends up in the crapper eventually, there's always someone close to Peter dressed up in a goblin mask, etc). That's what makes this issue somewhat...dangerous. The goal is clearly to give Jameson a reason to stop drinking the Haterade, and it's certainly plausible that this is what will happen...for a while. But the sacrifice that Slott made in order to pull this off involves a character who *isn't* part of the iconic Spider-Man story, so their return is hardly guaranteed despite being a part of Jameson's life for decades. So, in a year or three years or whenever Editorial decides that a Jameson who doesn't hate Spidey would be too confusing to the licensing people, we'll be back to THREAT OR MENACE and still be out a supporting character. In the sort term, it's a good story and a plausible way to change Jameson's personality. In the backup, the new Venom they've been advertising in all the house ads lately gets his origin, going in the direction I had initially thought American Son would (before I knew the arc name and it became obvious it'd involve Harry). Recommended with caveats, $3.99. Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #4: Marvel - They break format this time and have one full-length story. However, Wegener and Scherberger still split the art chores, through the device of Wasp trying to take a group photograph. So Scherberger's contribution is in the form of splash pages that represent Wasp's photos...taken during battle. Failed Wisdom check, there, Wasp. While this still can't be as "big" of a story due to being between the scenes of the cartoon, Yost manages to give it a good sense of importance on both large and small scales. 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. Young Justice #1: DC - I didn't actually order this one, but I had to get two books this week at Hastings and they were running a "buy 2 get one free" sale so I grabbed this as my freebie. This issue starts four minutes after the end of the #0 issue (which I didn't buy, but have seen a scan of, hence being able to compare the timestamps) with the introduction of Miss Martian as seen in the final scene of the pilot episode. I'll say this for them, despite having multiple writers involved (#1 was written by Art Baltazar, #0 by Kevin Hopps) they're being pretty careful about continuity and fitting between the episodes. So, of course, it looks like we've got a timeshifting story once the "moving in and angsting" is done with. Basically, either Superboy has come unstuck in time, or he is being seriously jerked around by the League as a test of some sort. :) It's okay, but I'm not going to try adding it to my pull...if I see it on the shelf again, I may pick it up next month. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Booster Gold #41: DC - Yeah, they're pretty much ignoring the fact Booster was already tried and sentenced to death in his own era (the only reason his sister was even in the present day is that she helped bust him out of jail before he could be executed and had to flee with him to the 20C). It would have been simple enough to have Rip bring that point up, but I guess that whole arc simply got retconned away either intentionally or via sloppiness. The problem with "let's finally resolve that element of his origin" stories is that sometimes a writer decides he wants to re-resolve something that was resolved a generation ago, so needs to ignore the past in order to mine the past. Aside from that core problem it's a pretty good story, but the problem is a big one. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Legion of Super-Heroes #10: DC - Apparently Brainy solved the whole Durlan assassin thing several issues ago, but decided it wasn't worth wasting his time trying to convince anyone of what was going on until now (when, as acting leader thanks to Mon-El being out of town, he didn't have to convince everyone, just tell them where to be). It had the feeling of a caper story coming together, with all the oddball actions making sense in retrospect. Mostly, anyway. Some of them you're still stuck with the "Brainy is a jerk" explanation for now. Recommended. $2.99 Hawkeye Blind Spot #1 (of 4): Marvel - Still no Widowmaker #3 or #4, hopefully McCann isn't assuming I read those. :) Fortunately, the only important thing that happened is recapped sufficiently, and it sets up the main conflict...the fallout of being essentially a normal guy who gets beat on by superhumans for a career. Superscience can only do so much, and McCann manages to set up a threat that can be taken seriously. Oh, by the end of the issue Hawkeye's got a stopgap in place and a reasonable expectation that the underlying problem can be fixed. In a way, that particular conflict is resolved as soon as he swallows his stupid pride. But someone with a mad-on for Hawkeye has figured out he has a problem and is determined to take advantage of it, hence this being a four issue story and not a one-shot. (As an aside, the Big Reveal of the someone in question is...dubious. I suspect it's someone else entirely, just taking advantage of another's identity and costume.) As an aside, absolutely nothing regarding Bobbi's role in Widowmaker is mentioned here, so I guess I'll still need to find those issues. Recommended. $2.99 Spider-Girl #4: Marvel - Matt Southworth "with" Paul Azateca takes over the art, and it looks like Southworth maybe did breakdowns and that's about it. Ana Kravinoff looks to have picked up abouf four years in age, although I'm not sure if that was editorial mandate (i.e. they decided Ana was just too creepy drawn looking like a 13-year-old) or simply that Southworth is ignoring her previous appearances. As for Tobin's writing, he does saddle Anya with a "hide the secret ID" cliche, but so far it's not too onerous. And he does a decent job of playing up contrasts between Spider-Girl and Spider-Man even while remolding her into more of a copy of young Peter circa the "rooming with Harry" years. Azateca's finishing is pretty ugly in places, and that's going to turn a lot of people off, but it's worth putting up with. Recommended. $2.99 [Later note: Southworth informs me that Azaceta did two pages start to finish, otherwise it's all Southworth. And he's not too happy with how it turned out, having had to rush it.] The Amazing Spider-Man #654.1: Marvel - Diamond didn't ship any of these to my shop, and I was the fifth person in twenty minutes to ask about it. Hastings got two copies. Anyway, Peter Parker appears in a couple of panels, this issue is all about the new Venom and his first serious mission. Naturally, given that the cover shows him in Slobber Mode, it doesn't exactly go to plan. Humberto Ramos does the art, and I got the impression that he was just biding his time waiting until he could do Slobber Mode. :) Oh, and there's a two page spread at the end teasing some coming developments, I thought it could have used a Little Nemo ending. Recommended. $2.99 Thunderbolts #153: Marvel - Those other four people also asked about Thunderbolts, which wasn't shipped to my shop either. Hastings only got one copy, which I snagged. There's some kaiju action here, but mostly it's Hyperion versus everyone else. And Juggernaut gets to repeatedly demonstrate that he's a child of the 70s (Muhammad Ali and Jim Croce references). Recommended. $2.99 Avengers Academy #9: Marvel - And we're back to Finesse as the focal character, although there's a strong B-plot about whether to actually kick the offending kids from #8 out of the academy. And while it's not presented with the emotional kick of the Taskmaster miniseries, Gage does acknowledge that bit of character development and give Finesse a view of where she could be headed. Even if she never develops an actual ethos, bloody-minded pragmatism could cause her to use Taskmaster as a "what not to do" example and at least emulate heroism. Recommended. $2.99 Awards: "Hell's Bobble-Head" Award to Marvel Transformers Ghost Rider "Photo (O)Op(s)" Award to Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #4 "Beaten Senseless" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #654 "Superboy's Not Ready To Come Out Of His Closet" Award to Young Justice #1 "For Once, Can't We Just Jump Ahead To Time Served And NOT Have A Prison Riot Plot?" Award to Booster Gold #41 "When You're A Coluan, You Don't Have To Think Five Moves Ahead, But You Can't Help It" Award to Legion of Super-Heroes #10 "Hardly Any Dain Bramage At All" Award to Hawkeye Blindspot #1 (of 4) "Something Like 95% Of Spider-Girl Fanfics Probably Start Like The Last Page, But Don't End Like Next Issue" Award to Spider-Girl #4 "Oh, It's Not Like He's The Original Anyway" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 "Ghost Wins" Award to Thunderbolts #153 "Someone Might Be Getting A Call From Mercedes" Award to Avengers Academy #9 Dave Van Domelen, "You -- you're a monster. A cannibal!" "PTUH! What? Doesn't count. We didn't ssswallow." - Yusef Kassim and Venom, the Amazing Spider-Man #654.1
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