February, 2012

Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and Awards

Intermittent 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 Ah, the awkward doldrums period in hiring for physics positions. 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. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: Marvel/Lions Gate - Or, as I think of it, "Spirit of Raimi". Sure, the Raimi brothers don't have their names anywhere in the credits, but this movie is essentially a big budget homage to their body of works (and those like them, such as Full Moon). I watched Army of Darkness on DVD a few days before seeing GR:SoV, and Nic Cage's new movie is very much in the spirit of that Bruce Campbell movie. Just with a lot more money. It's even shot mostly in Romania, it uses the "Wilhelm" scream, it has Christopher Lambert's character try to behead someone with a sword, and there's a sequence that has to be a direct homage to a similar one in Army of Darkness. If you go into this movie with the Raimi homage aspect in mind, it's pretty enjoyable. Oh, not everything worked. The flash- animation-ish sequences that crop up every so often for flashbacks are pretty weak, and every so often the director shies away from selling a gag fully which leaves the movie hanging between camp and serious...always an awkward place to be. But then you'll be watching the villain whose touch rots all organic matter successfully eat a Twinkie without rotting it, and it's back in the zone. Recommended with the caveat that it is good "badfilm" and not actually a good movie per se. Oh, and I saw it in 2D, although 3D horror has its own fromage to homage, I presume. Digital Content: Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so, I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. I will often be reading these things on my iPod if it's at all possible. Turns out my problems with the Comixology app were due to my the iTunes store being progressively more wonky as I tried to change the email associated with the account and was not told in the system that this was impossible (my attempts spawned a second account without TELLING me it was a second account). And then, because doing things without telling me seems to be par for the iCourse, the iTunes store started rejecting my credit card in general without saying why. It was because my card was stolen via the Transformers Collectors' Club, and it took a few days for me to figure it out (since the card somehow failed to contact me and I got a letter in the snailmail a few days after I figured it out). Anyway, now it's all sorted out, the card I switched to isn't having any trouble buying via Comixology. Transformers: Autocracy #2 (of 12): IDW - In a series where it's pretty clear everyone is a dick, Zeta Prime comes on screen to demonstrate that his techspec reads "DCK 10+". Most of this 8 page installment focuses on Zeta Prime talking to the Autobot council (with Starscream around for reasons that are poorly explained...he doesn't seem to actually be ON the council right now, but neither is he openly a Decepticon yet, so this is probably yet another thing I'm expected to know from the comics I didn't read). There's a few bits with Orion Pax demonstrating a DCK 10 score and otherwise showing how horrible the Autobots were back then. Way back when, before I was online to do reviews, I once criticized Robinson's "Golden Age" DC series on the grounds that it was one thing to give heroes feet of clay, but Robinson was giving them entire bodies of clay. That's what IDW seems determined to do in their historicals, not just give the Decepticons a plausible reason for rebelling, but make them look like idiots for not doing so sooner. Still witholding judgement on the overall recommendation until I've read #3, since that's really the end of the first issue. 99 cents at Comixology. Transformers: Autocracy #3 (of 12): IDW - Okay, I got #3. The title of this chapter is "The Hunt for Soundwave," but it could just as well have been called "The Toy Ad for Soundwave" given the pacing of the chase scene and resulting short fights. Some of the designs are a bit odd, in that they look like Earth modes rather than Cybertronian, but since we don't get a clear shot of any of the Recordicons' storage modes at least the artist doesn't have to worry about making them look like cassette tapes. So, how do the first three chapters hang together as a single issue? Reasonably well. Orion Pax's unpleasant situation is established, along with his penchant for solving problems via violence. We see he serves a corrupt system, and then he runs into a problem that may be too big to punch into submission. Decent opening, although I get the feeling that 9 more chapters won't be enough to resolve much...at best, all 12 together will form a decent "part 1" to a story, rather than being a story in and of themselves. Mildly recommended. 99 cents at Comixology. In any case, I'm not going to be buying more issues of this. Justice League Beyond #1-2: DC - While the day-and-date digital cost of 99 cents demonstrates that this series is digital-first, it's not digital-only, with a collected edition print version coming out later on. According to Comixology, each issue is 22 pages, although it's hard to be sure when reading on the iPod/iPhone app panel-by-panel. The cover is definitely designed for digital presentation in landscape mode, and I wouldn't be surprised if the hardcopy version stacks the covers of the included installments for either its cover or title page. Regardless of whether each digital issue is meant to contain the content of a regular $2.99 physical issue, though, is suffers pretty badly from decompression. #1 is a fight scene, starting out between two of Gotham's gangs (clowns and splicers) and then bringing in the JLU. Unfortunately, for all the information we get about the characters, an old-fashioned one-page team shot with captions would have gotten as much across. And worse, while the solicitation material I could find states that Batman joins the JLU in this issue, he actually joined off-screen before the story started (perhaps in one of the other Beyond-verse comics I haven't read). #2 isn't a big improvement. The fight wraps up, some supporting cast are brought in, and then it's finally time to finish the opening credits sequence (that's essentially what the story so far has been) and move on to the actual plot of the arc. There's no hint that the issue-and-a-bit fight scene just concluded will have anything to do with the main story, a serious case of writing for the trade paperback. (A good comparison would be how a lot of James Bond movies start with a vignette in whcih Bond faces some threat totally unrelated to the main movie, wraps it up, roll opening credits. But in movies you pay your money up front for the whole thing.) The scripting by Dustin Ngyuen is decent enough I'll give it a few more installments, but you could probably skip #1 entirely without affecting understanding or appreciation of the main story. Even if it's revealed to tie in to the main plot, the bit of the opening fight that wraps up in #2 is enough to establish what needs establishing. Mildly recommended, 99 cents an issue at Comixology. Love and Capes Valentine's Day: IDW/The Mary Sue - A free six-page sotry (plus cover and co-sell ads) at http://www.themarysue.com/valentinesandcapes for free, at least for now. It's a nice little vignette putting the romantic shoe on the other foot, now that the title's Batman-analogue and Wonder Woman-analogue are dating...when you and your partner are both fabulously wealthy and very self-actualized, what do you get each other for Valentine's Day? Recommended. Free. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Bone Quest for the Spark Book 2: Scholastic - This book is very much a middle-of-the-story piece. Roughly the first half is devoted to escaping from pursuers, then the second half involves seeking another piece of the Shikon...er, the Spark. And there are giant bees involved. It's a decent read, but not as compelling as Book 1. Recommended. $10.99 Floppies: If I actually pick up some monthly issues, they'll go here. Given my reluctance to put money in Diamond's hands, though, these would likely only be review copies or stuff found in oddball places. And no, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? And like floppy disks they may be a doomed format. Transformers Collectors' Club Magazine #43: FanPro - Not a comic per se, or even readily accessible unless you pony up forty bucks for membership (buying individual issues as a non-member is more expensive than just joining). But there's a short comic in each issue, as well as some strips. Given how online news sources outpace print these days, the magazine is definitely better served by focusing on original fiction, since it's easier to gate access to that and demonstrate harm caused by violation of copyright. The first several pages of the issue are dominated by interviews, one with a Hasbro employee (I didn't read that one, I generally don't like reading interviews) and the other with LeVar Burton, voice of Doc Greene in the new Transformers: Rescue Bots show. The main comic tells the story of the invasion of Autobot City in 2005 from the perspective of the new Generations timeline, in which Devastator got driven off by Ultra Magnus and a bunch of Autobots who weren't present in the original movie at the time. It turns out to be a tale told by an idiot, well, TWO idiots (Runabout...er, Overrun and Runamuck) to the Jetstorm-redeco Jhiaxus, explaining why they were notably absent from Decepticon dealings in recent years. Two sets of creators worked on this (one for the 2005 sequence, one for the 2012 pages), and it's...okay. All it really succeeds in doing is making the retold events of the 2005 attack seem insignificant and mundane. There's G1-style and AllSpark Almanac-style bio entries next (G1 style for Ultra Magnus and Runamuck, AA style for a trio of redeco femmes), a fake ad for a TFA Rosanna concert, and then strips and trivia on the back page. David Willis's Recordicons demonstrates that while Shattered Glass Ravage may be pretty easygoing, even he has a line you better not cross. This month's Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes didn't interest me, and I haven't seen a hardcopy of Young Justice #13 (I might get the digital if I can't find the hardcopy after a few more weeks). Dave Van Domelen, "Am I going to regret bringing you along?" "Probably." - Nadya and Johnny Blaze, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
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