February 18, 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.
I am typing this on my new iMac, woot.  An archive can be found on my 
             homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 

"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.

     None this week.

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): Amazing
Spider-Man #587, Marvel Adventures Avengers #33, Gold Digger v3 #103

     The Brave and the Bold #22: DC - Last issue before a hiatus of some
sort, although given that the putative next arc involves the HERO dial I may
stick around.  The current arc ends on a pretty treacly note, which surprises
me not at all.  Neutral.  $2.99
     Justice League of America #30: DC - Mostly a big fight scene and vague
foreshadowing for, well, the villain who got his backstory dumped on us in
#29, so the vagueness was kinda unnecessary.  Cute use of science trappings
in the final plot device, though.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99
     Adventure #0: DC - I broke down and got this at a local media store
(Hastings, for those familiar with it).  The lead is a reprint of Adventure
#247, the first appearance of the Legion, complete with "wrong" names and
costumes, although adding in the more recent coloring retcon to place Brainy
on the scene.  Believe it or not, I think this is the first time I've read
the entire thing.  The backup is an Origins & Omens piece where Lex Luthor
wheels around Brainiac 1 and is all ominous while in jail.  Eh.  Anyway, if
you don't already have a reprint of Adv247, it's worth a buck to grab this.
     Mysterius the Unfathomable #2 (of 6): DC/Wildstorm - ("stealth"
miniseries, solicited as such but not listed on the cover)  Two or more plot
threads wind through this issue, and the reader can see some of the
connections, but the characters can't yet.  There's also a thinly veiled
pastiche of Anton "Fear My Scary Hat" LeVay in the 60s flashback sequence.
:) The writing's a little heavier on the "move the plot along" than in #1,
but still a good read.  Fowler continues to do good work in the Bernie
Wrightson mold.  Recommended.  $2.99
     X-Factor #40: Marvel - Well, this here's about how Madrox deals with the
Shocking Events of last issue.  And since angst is a natural part of the
Mutant Experience, it's not much of a spoiler to say he deals with it...
poorly.  Along the way, a few niggling details are resolved, one of which is
rather gross if you think about it too much.  :)  DeLandro's darker style is
certainly appropriate to the mood of the issue.  Recommended.  $2.99
     The Amazing Spider-Man #587: Marvel - Great scripting from Guggenheim,
and the Spider Tracer Killer mystery is finally let into the light, although
the plot has hardly resolved.  Certainly the month for revelations in ASM,
yes?  Strongly recommended.  $2.99
     Marvel Adventures Avengers #33: Marvel - BWAHAHA!  Tobin manages to work
the running gags just right and avoid them becoming tedious, while Guara's
art supports them well.  Also, there's a preview of First Class #12 at the
end that has me strongly tempted to pick that up as well, curse you Van
Lente!  Strongly recommended.  $2.99.
     Dynamo5 #0: Image - A little bit of downtime in civvies followed by a
short fight scene that shows off everyone's powers and resources, wrapping up
with ominous foreboding.  In other words, while short, the story does what a
promotional 99 cent issue should do.  There's also a text piece summarizing
the storyline so far, something that more promo issues should do.
Recommended.  $0.99
     Gold Digger v3 #103: Antarctic Press - Smaller company print job
batching can cause weird scheduling.  :)  The hidden city in chains plot gets
backburnered for a bit (well, sort of backburnered, they're doing research on
it this issue, but it's not really the PLOT plot) so that some bits of
pre-#100 business can get looked at.  The overwhelmingly overriding theme of
this issue is "blowing opportunities and getting second chances," and there's
at least three characters who get run through that particular wringer, form
scales grand to personal.  It starts a little shakily (as in, I read #102
last week and still felt like I had missed something), but finishes very
strongly.  Strongly recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn

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 2/18/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger
Universe #22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #1 and 2, Transformers Revenge of
the Fallen: Alliance #1 and 2, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen: Defiance
#1, Jersey Gods #1, Booster Gold #17, REBELS #1, Gen13 v4 #27.  Add
Invincible #59.


"Yes, Being A **** Is In Character For Him" Award to The Brave and the Bold

"When The Moon Hits Your...Asia" Award to Justice League of America #30

"Superdickery Survives 1000 Years" Award to Adventure #0

"Admit It, You've Wanted To See That Happen To David Blaine Too" Award to
     Mysterius the Unfathomable #2 (of 6)

"Nun Shall Pass" Award to X-Factor #40

"His Sense Of Sarcasm Is Superhumanly Heightened Too" Award to The Amazing
     Spider-Man #587

"Someone Alert Randall Munroe" Award to Marvel Adventures Avengers #33

"Janitors Get All The Cool Powers" Award to Dynamo5 #0

"LOLgods" Award to Gold Digger v3 #103

     Dave Van Domelen, "We're starting with FRENCH FRIES?  This ALREADY makes
no sense." - Wolverine, MA Avengers #33
     Bonus Quote: "'TEACHING MOMENT' usually means 'Let's try and get Kitty
KILLED'..." - Kitty Pryde, X-Men First Class #12 preview

Dave's "Diamond Comics Distribution Can Bite Me" Capsules Special
February 19, 2009

     Okay, "normal" Diamond errors tend to involve the little companies, from
Antarctic on down in size.  I'm used to that.  But lately, they've been
neglecting to ship stuff from Marvel, DC, Image and IDW, all supposedly major
companies.  And they haven't shown any real sign of reshipping to stores that
got shorted.
     Hastings, a regional media chain (i.e. books, music, movies, etc) has a
decent newsstand comic section, and since they buy directly from the
publishers (as far as I know) they don't have to worry about Diamond.  On the
other hand, they don't do pulls or order a given title every month.  Still, I
was able to make a dent in my missing stack.  Sadly, by the time I decided to
do this, they'd already sold out of TF:RotF Alliance #2, so I'm still missing
that.  I read it from the rack last month, though, so I'm caught up.

     Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Movie Prequel: Alliance #1 (of 4):
IDW - One of two prequel minis.  Both presumably four issues, but being IDW
they don't say so anywhere on the comic...wait, what's this?  On the inside
front cover they actually say "of four," wow.  Also, henceforth, "TF:RotF"
will stand for everything before "Alliance" so I don't have to keep typing
it.  Maybe Diamond's computers simply choked on the title, explaining why
they never shipped it or its companion series.  Anyway, this series picks up
from the end of Reign of Starscream and takes some of the threads laid down
both there (the human-built Landmine et al, Starscream's faux AllSpark) and
in the first movie's prequel comic (Wreckage, who got horribly jobbed, is
back).  Of course, to do all this, it actually starts a few months before the
main action of the movie, since there's a lot of Wreckage retconning to do.
And Dispensor, perhaps the most sinister of the AllSpark Babies, gets a brief
appearance.  :)  The Dispensor scene makes it clear that the Legends of the
AllSpark miniseries is not in the same continuity, since that had a different
fate for Dispensor.  And a lot more of this issue involves establishing how
the end of the first movie wasn't necessarily what it appeared to be, thereby
opening up some wiggle room for the sequel to go in slightly different
directions.  Mowry's writing and Milne's art are both passable, although I'm
starting to think that no one can really write Ratchet without it sounding
like they're trying way too hard to be funny.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99.
     TF:RotF: Alliance #3 (of 4): IDW - Well, Wreckage got shelved again in
#2, too bad.  He served his purpose, however, of showing how an AllSpark
fragment can Do Stuff, like in TF: Animated.  Also, it gave a better reason
for Sector 7 to be officially disbanded...namely, Wreckage busting loose and
wreaking havoc.  This issue finally catches up to the end of the first movie
and the deep sixing, then moves into intermezzo territory.  The coloring
drifts into murk, although several scenes are at night, so it's excusable.
Loads of toy-but-not-movie characters show up and start trouble, so I think
it's safe to say that #4 will rack up something of a body count.  Again, the
writing and art are okay, and they do a decent job of stitching together the
gaps.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99.
     TF:RotF: Defiance #1 (of 4): IDW - The other prequel series.  And this
is VERY prequelly, being set before the Autobot/Decepticon split, at least
initially.  A new threat is introduced, along with implications of a sort of
proto-Decepticon culture lost in archaeological history.  Mowry writes this
series too, with Khanna on breakdowns and Griffith on finishes.  There's
definitely a different sort of Cybertron here, and it seems like the friction
between Megatron and Optimus Prime would have remained merely that save for
the introduction of a Plot Device.  Given that this is billed as a prequel to
Revenge of the Fallen, it's not too big a stretch to posit that this plot
device involves the Fallen.  :)  The writing tends towards the expositiony in
places, with characters relating to each other what they already know, and
the visual blocking is more in the style of pinups than storytelling much of
the time.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99.
     REBELS #1: DC - This is actually the second REBELS series, the first
being a followup to LEGION, which also started with Vril Jr. on the run from
his own organization.  Some of the people on the cover haven't shown up yet,
and most of the ones who have spend this issue fighting each other or running
from each other.  So, we're looking at a team of rivals, I suppose.  :)  Much
of the issue leads up to a sort of Rube Goldberg where way too much effort is
taken just to deliver a message, suggesting two possibilities: 1) Bedard was
too in love with a clever idea to see the overwrought nature of it, 2) the
gizmo has other functions that will be revealed next issue, and therefore the
simple way wouldn't have been enough.  Still a bit excessive even in case 2,
though.  Bedard's one of those writers where I'll generally cut some slack,
but I've been burned before...so this had better improve markedly in the next
couple issues or I'm gone.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99
     Invincible #59: Image - A done-in-one story told from the POV of the
antagonist as he drifts from the role of misguided hero to that of tragic
villain.  A nice breather before the big crossover thing coming next month,
to be sure, and a good examination of the sort of fallout Invincible's high-
power adventures can have.  Recommended.  $2.99


"Brand Loyalty" Award to TF:RotF Alliance #1 (of 4)

"What, Exactly, Made Fracture Think That Was A Good Disguise?" Award to
     TF:RotF Alliance #3 (of 4)

"The Shadow Over Cybertron" Award to TF:RotF Defiance #1 (of 4)

"But Can He Toast Muffins?" Award to REBELS #1

"The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions And Conductive Plating"
     Award to Invincible #59

     Dave Van Domelen, "You know, the last thing I expect from you is
sanctimony." - Querl Dox, showing an astonishing lack of self-awareness about
his genepool, REBELS #1
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