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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 week. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants IDW books delayed by the West Coast dockworker strike. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Lego Justice League vs. Bizarro League, Gronk: a Monster's Story vol 1. In this installment: Lego Justice League vs. Bizarro League, Gronk: a Monster's Story vol 1, Rocket Queen and the Wrench #1, Q2: The Return of Quantum & Woody #5 (of 5), Gold Digger Holidays Special #4, Sherlock Holmes Steam Detective #1, Astro City #20, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2, Spider-Man 2099 #9, Spider-Gwen #1, Ms. Marvel #11-12, SHIELD #3, Transformers More than Meets the Eye #37. "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. Lego Justice League vs. Bizarro League: DC - Sequel to last year's Lego Batman Be-Leaguered special (which is included as an extra on this disk, so if you never saw that, watch the extra first). Pretty much what it says on the package. Bizarro creates a Bizarro League to protect Bizarro World, misunderstandings happen, etc. Lots of good physical and verbal humor. And a bonus Bat-zarro minifigure. To heck with uniting the seven, assemble this League. Strongly recommended. $15-20 price point. 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 iPhone if it's at all possible. Gronk: a Monster's Story vol 1: Action Lab - This is a compilation of the first few dozen Gronk strips (www.gronkcomic.com) by Katie Cook, done up in color. Basically a digital version of the trade collections that Action Lab has been putting out (I ordered the first few, but they haven't come in yet). Anyway, even if you've read the strips for free, 99 cents isn't too much to ask to get 47 pages of strips in color plus a few pages of bonus material. And it's a fun all-ages strip that's honestly good for all ages, not just little kids. Strongly recommended. 99 cents at ComiXology. Rocket Queen and the Wrench #1: Space Goat Productions - The high concept here is "What if the Bat-Family were actually power armored heroes, and their Alfred had a family, including a son who stumbles onto his dad's secret life and ends up a sidekick?" That doesn't all quite happen in the first issue, it stops short of the son becoming The Wrench, but since he's on the cover in heroic gear, it's pretty much a given. Justin Peniston delivers a solid superhero story in the Astro City reconstructionist mold, with good art from Ramanda Kamarga. $1.99 at ComiXology (Digital First, dunno if a hardcopy is available or planned). Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. None this month. Was hoping to have a few hardcopy Gronks to review, ah well. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Q2: The Return of Quantum & Woody #5 (of 5): Valiant - Wow, the entire art team was totally out of (insert preferred expletive)'s to give this issue. Not only did Bright continue to be pretty hack-ly, but now the colorist is in on the apathy. (Woody2 is wearing a blue dress early on, and another character is wearing a red dress. When Woody2 takes off the dress, though, it has become the shade of red worn by the other. Not even the editors were caring at this point, apparently.) Bright's increasing level of hackery makes it a bit hard to follow the resolution of the story, and while the ending suggests the possibility of future stories, I kinda doubt that'll happen. Mildly recommended, and a disappointment, since it feels like the only one who cared about making this a good comic was Priest. $3.99 Gold Digger Holidays Special #4: Antarctic Press - Another mix of Halloween and Christmas tales, although I'm pretty sure only one of the stories is new to me. The new story is almost worth the price of admission on its own, a vignette about a choice of fighting costumes that manages to establish several running gags in only a few pages. And if you haven't seen the other stories before, they're pretty good too. Recommended. $3.99 Sherlock Holmes Steam Detective #1: Antarctic Press - Robert Bevard and David Hutchison adapt the Doyle story "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" into a steampunk-flavored version. And most of it is just flavor, but the ending takes a sharp left turn away from how Doyle's story went. Hutchison's art is a little uneven in places as he tries to affect a more Victorian style. Similarly, Bevard seems to be struggling occasionally with how and where to depart from the source material. It's an intersting effort, though, and if they continue this I can see both creators settling into their comfort zones. Recommended. $3.99 Astro City #20: DC/Vertigo - One of the longer arcs in recent Astro City, it's not over yet! This issue gets closer to the present day, though, and explains why Quarrel and Crackerjack make such a fitting couple, just in time for 'Jack to potentially remove himself from the relationship in a very permanent and messy way. I'm getting the feeling this story's been kicking around in Busiek's idea file for a while, as it plays like one of the 4 issue miniseries that Astro City was doing prior to the Vertigo relaunch. And as such, I'm starting to think I'd like it better if I'd waited for all the issues to come out and then read them in a single sitting. Mildly recommended, mainly because this one feels too much like repeating the same stuff, a parallel structure that works better when not stretched out over several months. $3.99 The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2: Marvel - Y'know, in outline this issue sounds pretty good. And there's several good bits in there. But I'm still reaching the end of the issue and feeling...meh. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Spider-Man 2099 #9: Marvel - Hm, I guess maybe the final issue of X-Factor takes place after this new complication is resolved and Mig gets back to 2015. Basically, Mig gets back to his own time after Spiderverse, but despite everything being fine when he was there LAST ISSUE, suddenly it's a variant on Future Imperfect. To someone just reading this title, it makes absolutely no sense, even with the explanation in mid-issue of how things went all Dystopian. I doublechecked the "story so far" blurb I normally skip, it makes no mention of Superior Spider-Man's actions in the climax of Spiderverse, which might explain the sudden timeline shift. Ah well. I'll give it a couple more issues, but I suspect Secret Wars will only make things worse. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 Spider-Gwen #1: Marvel - One of the Spiderverse spinoffs, Hosun told me to get it so I gave it a shot. The first page briefly summarizes (in comic form, not text) the important bits of her backstory as seen in various Spiderverse books. It's more than a simple "what if Gwen got bitten instead of Peter?" since loads of other characters have different lives (Matt Murdock works for Kingpin, Ben Grimm became a beat cop, etc), but the core idea is that she got the Spider-totem powers and Peter died to provide her with angst. This issue sets up an ongoing story for Gwen (who is "Spider-Woman" in-story), but spends perhaps a little too much time playing "Look what role this character you know from Earth-616 has here!" games. Not in terms of panel space, mind you, since the characters would have to be drawn whether they were new or reimaginings, but there's a certain narrative clunkiness to "And hey, it's Frank Castle!" stuff. And while I chuckled at the Ditko slam, it also felt a little too hammered in. I'll give it another few issues, though. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Ms. Marvel #11: Marvel - The Inventor arc wraps up. Pretty much more of #10's stuff, an extended climax. Not much more to say, really. Recommended. $2.99 Ms. Marvel #12: Marvel - Guest shot from Loki, establishing that this book hasn't caught up with Axis...gonna be a big time jump if Ms. Marvel is going to be tied into Secret Wars. Wilson has a lot of fun with Loki, Agent of Asgard, and fill-in artist Elmo Bondoc manages to preserve the general feel of Kamala's world without being a simple copy of Alphona's style. Recommended. $2.99 SHIELD #3: Marvel - Oooooh, Alan Davis art and a bunch of Dr. Strange stuff. Doc's out right now, so when something goes horribly wrong in his home, Coulson recruits Spider-Man and mega-obscure Dr. Strange villain Pavel P. Rasputin (no relation to Colossus, appeared as Mr. Rasputin in Strange Tales #145 in 1966, according to the Marvel Appendix). Waid plays dirty pool here, though, introducing an entirely new character but making it seem like he's another obscure pre-existing one. Tsk. Anyway, a fun read with good art and characterization. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers More than Meets the Eye #37: IDW - More time travel and deliberately confusing bits, but Roberts manages to keep it just enough under control to be follow-able. While there's a lot of irons in the fire, this is really Whirl's issue, despite Impactor being on the cover. Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "Gentrification. Next year it'll be Viking dudes from here to Newark Ave." - Vick, Ms. Marvel #12 Bonus quote: "I'm an optimist by nature...but in no way does that sound like a positive development." - Ultra Magnus
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