February 25, 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.
Pizza sauce can blister knuckles.  Ow.  An archive can be found on my 
             homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 

     Okay, in what's either their most astonishing display of incompetence
yet, or part of an attempt to drive my local store out of business, Diamond
not only shorted the store on the now-usual half dozen or so titles, it also
failed to send PREVIEWS MAGAZINE.  It's own catalog.  They sent the retailer
copy and that's it.

"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.

     Marvel Universe Iron Man action figure: Hasbro - Well, it was only a
matter of time, what with DC's entry into the "4-inch action figure for the
price of a 6-inch figure" field.  The Marvel Universe line is not quite the
same as the Superhero Showdown figures of a few years back, and they're a
little better than those cut-down versions of Legends molds.  The figures
include SHIELD files and SHRA registrstion (trading) cards for the
characters, although they can't decide who's in charge...Iron Man's dossier
has him as head of SHIELD, but the cardback shows Nick Fury.  There's also
online content I haven't bothered to check.
     Anyway, the Iron Man figure is pretty well articulated, with universal
joints on the shoulders, elbows, mid-torso, knees and ankles; ball joint neck
and hips; swivel wrists.  There's a clear plastic energy blast accessory that
clips on to the wrist and looks...so-so.  The joints are kinda loose, and
while there's peg holes in the feet there's no base included, so the figure
doesn't really stand well.  The paint job is mostly metallic yellow and red,
and looks pretty good.  While the shoulderpads simply clip onto the shoulders
(like the first wave Iron Man movie figures), they stay put pretty well.  All
in all, if this were a $5 figure I might suggest grabbing it, but at the
actual price ($7.99 at Toys R Us, $8.99 at K-Mart) I'd say to hold off.   
     As a side note, a Wolverine and the X-Men cartoon action figure line is
also out, same price and size, but a different sculpt style and several of
the figures lack significan articulation.

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): None.

     Ninja High School #167: Antarctic Press - The rest of Anna Feeple's life
story is presented as flashbacks in between Dimension X "present time"
scenes, emphasizing the hard choices she's had to make over the years.  Some
of the present time stuff is a bit disjointed, plus it looks like Dunn is
playing around with changing his style in the middle of the issue.  Not just
between time periods, but one of the present time scenes looked enough
different from the one before it that I wondered if we'd had some new
characters introduced at first.  Still, recommended for the Anna story.
     Dark Reign Files: Marvel - Another themed OHOTMU, this is more along the
lines of the 198 Files, with three entries per page covering a lot of
ground.  Unfortunately, it's also an "in story" piece, so it lacks
information like first appearances or anything that Norman Osborne would not
be expected to know.  Still, plenty of "where are they now" info, worth
picking up even if you're not really following Dark Reign.  Recommended.
     Wolverine First Class #12: Marvel - I was wavering on getting this,
especially given the heavy week I was supposed to have, but Diamond "helped"
by not shipping about 90 minutes' worth of potential reading material, so on
the strength of the preview in MA Avengers last week, I grabbed this.  Of
course, it's the last Van Lente issue, but next issue is Peter David, so I'll
keep it on my pull for a bit.  Anyway, this story is set during the X-Men's
time on R'yleh...er, the island Magneto pulled up from the depths and used
for his base in Uncanny X-Men #150.  And Van Lente has fun not only playing
around with the Mythos aspects that Claremont and Cockrum largely left as
color, but also doing a compare-and-contrast between Wolverine and Cyclops as
teachers.  Recommended.  $2.99
     Ms. Marvel #36: Marvel - Dark Reign banner.  Lots of flashing back and
forward and sideways, and the main action finally catches up to the last
scene of the final Secret Invasion issue of the title.  It also explains
several danglers and nagging questions, as is appropriate for the penultimate
issue of an arc.  The story's okay, the art is crap.  Mildly recommended.
     Avengers the Initiative #22: Marvel - Dark Reign banner.  It looks like
the guy doing the finished art over Ramos was trying to imitate Sienkiewicz
or something.  Mainly a big fight scene with the occasional "meanwhile" with
the Shadow Initiative team.  Some decent bits, but nothing special.  Mildly
recommended.  $2.99
     The Mighty Avengers #22: Marvel - Dark Reign banner.  A bit of infodump,
but mostly the ad-hoc team breaks down into bickering and generally has no
positive effect on things.  Slott's writing is a bit off his usual levels
here, and Pham's art doesn't really improve.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99
     She-Hulk v2 #38: Marvel - "DOUBLE SIZE FINAL ISSUE!" banner.  Peter
David manages to wrap up the short term plots and literally wipes the board
of the longer term stuff so that other writers don't have to worry about
danglers.  It's a bit heavy on the wink-and-nod in the last scene, though,
even for PAD.  Good art from Steve Scott.  Recommended.  $3.99
     The Incredible Hercules #126: Marvel - "DOUBLE SIZE!  THE ORIGIN OF
HERCULES!" banner.  The lead story weaves together various Hercules/Heracles
myths and tells a story of where he went from hero to godling, learning of
and accepting his divine heritage.  And getting his current costume.  :)
There's a short Saga-style summary after that, mainly focused on recent
events in this title.  Finally, Amadeus Cho has the backup position and a
coming of age story...of sorts.  :)  Recommended.  $3.99
     Justice Society of America #24: DC - Origins & Omens banner.  Big tie-in
to the old Power of Shazam GN, appropriate given that Ordway draws this
issue.  Stargirl also finally gets more than two lines, and her relationship
with Billy Batson gets front-burnered.  In other words, she's finally doing
more than carrying a spear.  Mary Marvel seems to have fallen prey to Zweig's
Law (with an upsurge of power comes a turn to the dark side and appalling
fashion sense) in a big way, though.  The O&O backup is yet another round of
"the old guys worry aboutt he younger generation and recruit more legacies",
whee.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99
     Batman the Brave and the Bold #2: DC - No grok-bokking crossover banner
at all.  Unfortunately, while this issue had so much going for it in
principle (some nifty ideas, Phil Moy on art, Blue Beetle in the story), and
it still manages to suck quite badly.  Matt Wayne's story is crap, and Moy is
trying too hard to draw like the cartoon, resulting in a bad imitation of
that style and a total loss of his own style.  Avoid.  $2.50
     Blue Beetle #36: DC - Final issue, no banner.  Big fight scene, a plot
device that happens more or less at the middle of the fight rather than the
end, and probably a bit more death and destruction than might have happened
were this merely the end of an arc rather than of the title.  It's a pity the
title has been cancelled and Jaime shuffled off to the Titans suckfest,
Sturges shows a lot of stuff here that would have made for interesting
setup.  Recommended.  $2.99
     Eureka #2 (of 4): Boom! Studios - I got cover B.  Plot-wise, almost
nothing actually happens this issue.  Characters find out a bit more of what
the reader already knows or suspects, but are still largely in the dark.  The
Joe/Taggart romantic dance is about the only thing that advances, and that by
only a little.  And the final page reveal is a bit weak for anyone who hasn't
seen the pilot episode enough to memorize it.  Really good banter, but it's
not in service of much that wasn't already shown in #1.  Recommended fluff.

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 2/25/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger
Universe #22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #1 and 2, Transformers Revenge of
the Fallen: Alliance #2, Jersey Gods #1, Booster Gold #17, Gen13 v4 #27.
(Diamond didn't come through on any of the missing titles from last week, I
got them at Hastings.)  And because they must have known I was able to pick
up some comics they didn't want me to have, add the following titles to the
missed list: Transformers Maximum Dinobots #3, Beanworld volume 1 hardcover,
Dynamo5 #20, Cthulhu Tales #12, Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil #2.


"Now With Energy Dunce Cap!" Award to Marvel Universe Iron Man figure

"Time To Found A New Tradition, Then" Award to Ninja High School #167

"Galactus Is Rated As Extremely Expendable?  Good Luck With THAT" Award to
     Dark Reign Files

"Code Of Uniform Justice" Award to Wolverine First Class #12

"Well, Norman Gets A Good Line, At Least" Award to Ms. Marvel #36

"Baron Grin It" Award to Avengers the Initiative #22

"Repair Me Some More, Baby" Award to Mighty Avengers #22

"You Just Can't Keep Ignoring The Elephant In The Room" Award to She-Hulk  
     v2 #38

"Argeia Could've Warned Megara, At Least" Award to The Incredible Hercules

"Seriously, What Part Of J-Pop Hell Did Mary Marvel Sink Into?" Award to
     Justice Society of America #24

"By Next Week, Everyone Will Have That Cap" Award to Batman the Brave and 
     the Bold #2

"Blue Beetle Screen Of Death" Award to Blue Beetle #36

"But How's The Fantasy League Going?" Award to Eureka #2 (of 4)

     Dave Van Domelen, "But I'm a busy man, and I can't be micromanaging
details, like whether or not she's still breathing." - Norman Osborn,
Ms. Marvel #36
Back to the Main Rants Page.

Eat clearanced chocolate hearts in the February 2009 Page.