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Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et CeteraIntermittent Picks and Pans of Comics and Related Media Standard Disclaimers: Please set appropriate followups. Recommendation does not factor in price. Not all books will have arrived in your area this month. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Managed to get through Winter Storm Uri On Ice without losing power. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Batman: Soul of the Dragon In this installment: Batman: Soul of the Dragon, Doom Patrol Season 2, Harley Quinn Season 2 (partial), Overwatch Tracer - London Calling #5 (of 5), Comicbook History of Animation #5 (of 5), The Outbursts of Everett True, Iyanu Child of Wonder vol 1, E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams Part 1 and 2, Windmaker Birth of a King, The Wrong Earth; Day and Night #2 (of 6?), Vampirella #17, Sacred Six #7, White Ash Presents Glarien #1, Midnight Sky #7, Transformers Beast Wars #1, Transformers Escape #2 (of 6) Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Norse Mythology #5, Maestro War and PAX #2, USAgent #3, Snapshots: Captain Marvel. (The first was a glitch, the rest were because the entire Diamond comics shipment for the last week of the month got lost somewhere in Texas and didn't arrive until March.) "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. Batman: Soul of the Dragon: DC/WB - Really, this is Richard Dragon, guest starring Batman in a supporting role. Set in a grindhouse version of the 1970s, and borrowing a lot of elements from the comics of the time (such as Bruce Wayne living in a skyscraper with a nightclub at ground level), it mixes flashbacks in with story progression as a team of martial arts badasses are brought together to stop a world-devouring demon from being unleashed by Kobra. A few post-70s characters are adapted to the era, and a few "oh, I never heard of them, they are clearly going to die" characters show up in early significant roles. But details aside...this is an awesome homage to the kind of movies Bruce Lee might have made had he lived longer and gotten bigger budgets and Batman to show up. Extras include the BTAS episodes Day of the Samurai and Night of the Ninja and a decent selection of featurettes, but no DC Showcase short. Strongly recommended. Price varies by store and format (I got BluRay). Doom Patrol Season 2: DC/WB - While this season had plenty of good moments, it just didn't hang together as well as season 1. While it did have a sort of season-long threat, the threat was "Dorothy's powers could destroy the world if certain conditions are met," rather than a scenery-chewing villain like Mr. Nobody. And the thread is too weak to hold things together, the season is more like solo and duo adventures of various cast members who occasionally meet over breakfast to swap partners for the next step. As in the first season, a lot of Morrison story elements are mined, but they're scrambled up more thoroughly. Any given episode is pretty good, but as a season it sort of cuts itself off at the knees a lot. Definitely don't binge it, enjoy each episode on its own merits and then wait a while. Mildly recommended. Not much in the way of extras. Price varies by store and format. Harley Quinn Season 2: DC/WB - In the wake of the season 1 finale, Gotham is basically a disaster area, but people still live there and the President declares it to no longer be part of the U.S. (this is not legally a thing that can be done, FWIW, but the setting is aggressively stupid on purpose). The biggest names of the surviving villains carve up the city into their territories and piss off Harley, who spends most of the season hunting them down one by one and exacting revenge. Of course, the plot isn't any more important than the setting, it's really just an excuse for over the top violence and snark, plus a love triangle forming with Ivy at the apex. To some extent it feels like they're trying too hard to top their first season, but it was still enjoyable. Recommended, but serious content warning for gore. Price varies by store and format. Digital Content: Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so (such as a lack of regular comics), I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will generally be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. Overwatch Tracer - London Calling #5 (of 5): Dark Horse - While Tracer gets a chance to redeem her earlier mishap, this is definitely one of those stories where the true impact of a hero is not what they do, it's who they inspire. Recommended. Free on ComiXology. The Comicbook History of Animation #5 (of 5): Evil Twin Comics - This final issue opens and closes with the emergence and growth of computer animation, from the original wireframe hand to the Pixar takeover. Along the way, it delves into modern anime (using Starblazers/Space Battleship Yamato as a turning point for the medium) and shows like Batman the Animated Series and the Simpsons, plus the change from theaters and TV as the main media to the proliferation of streaming media. Appropriately, it ends with a quote from someone who's been around throughout most of the history of animation, Miyazaki, who has started playing with computer animation. Recommended. Kickstarter reward, hardcopy TPB coming soonish. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. The Outbursts of Everett True: Underworld Amusements - If you've been on social media lately, there's a good chance you've seen a few panels of this century-old comic floating around. Everett True is a portly older man who is willing and able to beat your ass if you give him a good enough reason. And most strips involve him being given such a reason. Oh, violence isn't always his response, he also has sarcasm, outrage, and the implied threat of violence. The strip ran from 1906 to 1946 (although the last half done by other creators working under the names of the original writer and artist, most likely), but this collection seems to be a fairly continuous chunk from maybe 1912 to late 1917 or early 1918. A.D. Condo only dated the 1913 and 1914 strips, but the final few clearly take place during America's participation in WWI. Everett True is popular these days because so many of his strips involve getting back at annoying people doing things that are still done today (manspreading on the train, littering, being cruel to animals, people trying to engage you in conversation when you want to be left alone, ads running before a movie in the theater, etc). But Everett isn't without his problematic side. He often derides men for things he considers feminine (wearing cologne, certain styles of clothing, wearing a wristwatch...man, he hates men wearing wristwatches), and for a big chunk of the middle of this volume he goes beyond isolationist when it comes to the "War in Europe" and simply wants to pretend it isn't happening. (He does change his tune slightly at the end, telling people complaining about the war that they should enlist and help it finish sooner.) So, basically, he's a pretty horrible person, but usually aims his ire at people who are worse. Recommended. $16.95 Iyanu Child of Wonder vol 1: Youneek - The first chapter of this was a FCBD comic a while back, but it took longer for the full thing to be released than I was checking, so I missed it for a while. (Also decided to order a few more things while I was there, a sale was going on.) Youneek launched most of its titles in crowdfunding campaigns, and it really feels like they made a conscious decision to not hire anyone actually experienced in making comics. Several pages in this painted-style art set at night or inside are almost unreadably murky, as if the artist had no idea how bad things would look on a printed page where you can't adjust the brightness of your monitor. (They actually run stuff first online via a subscription service, then collect stuff into trades.) They seem to have bought a lettering program and just sort of figured it out as they went (this is even worse in the earlier- produced E.X.O. comics). And just a host of other minor "reinventing the wheel and getting something wobbly" pieces of comics crafting. The actual story is decent, a sort of "the Singularity almost happened and then things fell apart and now the scattered survivors live in relatively primitive conditions" fantasy future based on African cultures and locations, but set on a fictional landmass (maybe a massively altered Earth reshaped during the techno-cataclysm, maybe another world entirely, it's not really important to the story). It's just kinda hard to wade through. Mildly recommended. $19.99 E.X.O. the Legend of Wale Williams Part 1 and 2: Youneek - This is one of their core books, a sort of X-O meets Iron Man and the more unpleasant versions of Vic Stone's origin story. While it has a more traditional comicbook art style that's easy enough to follow, the lettering is really bad. In some places, the balloon placement makes it look like they were set up for an entirely different language and then the translation just crammed in wherever...but if that's the case, they didn't give a translation credit in the books themselves. (Mind you, with all the layout done on computer now, there's really no excuse to have not laid out the bubbles to fit a translation, if that is indeed what happened.) Set in a near future sci-fi tinged version of Lagos, it's your basic Iron Man story, where the technology is being abused by evil government/business types and the guy in the suit is trying to stop that from happening, but the twist is that the tech was made by the protagonist's father, who probably dies off-screen (told, not shown, by someone who isn't trustworthy) as part of a plan to lure the protagonist back to town so that his blood can be harvested for plot device reasons. I splurged on two volumes in the hopes it'd be worth it...not really. Wale whines through most of the first two books, wallowing in the cliche of the reluctant superhero in the most annoying ways possible. Almost every cast member who has lines early on ends up being a superhero or supervillain or something, a really bad case of a lean cast. Mild recommendation to avoid. $16.99 for Part 1, $14.99 for Part 2. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? (And not all of them come out monthly, or on a regular schedule in general, so I can't just call this section "Monthlies" or even "Periodicals" as that implies a regular period.) Windmaker Birth of a King one-shot: Youneek - When I went to checkout, this was suggested in a sort of "Would you like fries with that?" manner and pushed as being somehow core to the YouNiverse. After reading all four of the books I bought, I can't see how anything connects together, much less to this. I mean, thematically it connects just fine, with afrofuturism mixed with low-tech cultural elements and stuff. It's mostly a story of centuries ago when a guy got magic wind powers and fought off an evil Chinese invasion force (led by a "rouge Ming general"). It suffers the same sort of overly dark shadows mixed with overly bright lights that Iyanu does, but they did finally get a proper letterer who knew what he was doing, so that part is fine. This one has no cover price, and seems to have been printed as a stretch goal or something. Neutral. The Wrong Earth: Night and Day #2 (of 6?): Ahoy Comics - Now the two versions have met in a third reality, which for them is basically a series of pipes. Their conflicting methods complement well at first, but lead to the inevitable friction between them, which seems to lead to their defeat...but there's two much of Batman in both of them for the reader to discount a ruse. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Vampirella #17: Dynamite - Most of the issue is a flashback to Vampi's ("Stop calling me that") first days on Earth, meeting up with Pantha and a few other mystic-ish rogues and learning how the world is different. Some interesting artistic choices here, most of the art is in grayscale and deeply shadowed, except for shades of red and occasionally purple (Pantha's accent color when she's in panther form). Given how little pre-Priest Vampirella I've read (nearly none) I can't tell if there's any retconning going on here, but at least the interpersonal dynamics are tweaked to fit with what they evolved into fifty years later. At the very end, she heads back to Drakulon (not even remotely a spoiler, the "present" scene is a flashback too). Recommended. $3.99 Sacred Six #7: Dynamite - After a little flashback to get Nyx's origin and the issue's quota of almost-nudity, the "not even a non-team" tries to split up and go its separate ways. Well, Vampi is more literally split up, which is a bit of a mystery in light of interactions seen in Vampirella #17. The ongoing mystery of "Who is REALLY Draculina?" continues...sure, it seems to have been answered, but there's still a possible dodge around it. At the end, a new plot complication rides into town, but one wonders how many fights the "Sacred Six" will have to get in before they even consider themselves an ad hoc team. Mildly recommended. $3.99 White Ash Presents Glarien #1: Scout Comics - A trio of short stories featuring significant moments in the life of Glarien, the mother of the rebellious "young" elf lass from White Ash. Basically, she's a sociopath even among her own people, let alone around humans, who she doesn't even really consider to be people. And she has a penchant for fighting while nude or nearly so, I guess. A little depth is added to her husband, Thane, but all these stories do is show that she personally has no depth and is not very relevant to the story so far. Just an excuse to show a naked elf lady covered in blood. Neutral. $3.99 Midnight Sky #7: Scout Comics - While there's some bloodshed (and animated blood flying around and killing aliens) this issue, it's more of an expository interlude, answering a number of questions, if perhaps raising bigger ones. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers Beast Wars #1: IDW - This is a sort of "obligatory minor changes" reboot, not connected to any previous IDW comic, and based on the 1996 cartoon's opening minutes. It fleshes out more of the "How Megatron and his gang got the Golden Disk" and why the Axalon was tapped to go after him, plus adds one new cast member on each side for the sake of being different, I guess. Most of the good character development is on the Predacon side, the Maximal stuff gets crammed into an Overdialoguing Alert sparring scene between Optimus and Rhinox. The art style, which feels like late 90s graffiti styling, doesn't really grab me. Mildly recommended. $5.99 (padded out by a bunch of design and sketchbook pages) Transformers Escape #2 (of 6): IDW - Negotiations with Straxus for the use of his Arks commence, and Shockwave has his machinations underway, but the real threat is the Insecticons. They upgrade from hungry thugs into hungry thugs with an agenda and some sneaky planning. The art sometimes looks rushed, but is otherwise good. Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "For once I agree with Cliff. What the ****?" - Negative Man, Doom Patrol Season 2