February 28, 2014

Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and Awards

Intermittent 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 Back in the job search again, sigh. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Action Presidents #1. In this installment: Justice League: War, Action Presidents #1, Transformers: More than Meets the Eye vol 1-2, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #1, Astro City #9, Revolutionary War: Death's Head II "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. Justice League: War - I'm told this is a fairly faithful adaptation of a story from the comics, but I never bothered to read the original. As a standalone piece, this is a decent enough movie, although when it comes to "Apokolips invades Earth" stories it's hard to beat the Superman: the Animated Series version. And this doesn't even bat in the same league as that. It has some cute bits, but the overall story is weaker and Darkseid is treated like a video game end boss. Mildly recommended. I did buy the Target-exclusive Justice League Adventures: Trapped in Time DVD in February, but haven't gotten around to watching it yet. 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. Action Presidents #1 (Washington): SLG - This actually came out a few months ago, but I was hoping to find a hardcopy before buying it digitally. Turns out the series won't be put out individually, though, just trade collections, so after the free Jefferson story went up for President's Day I picked up this installment. Van Lente and Dunleavy do a very good job here of both demolishing the usual hagiography of our first President while also showing that the story's more interesting than the National Legend anyway. Strongly recommended. $1.99 at ComiXology. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Transformers More Than Meets The Eye vol 1 and 2: IDW - Having read enough bits and pieces via the pack-in comics in the Generations toy line, I stuck the collected editions in my Amazon wishlist and started using them to pad out orders to the free shipping level (although in the last week of February the ComiXology edition of vol 1 went on sale for $3.99, so I probably would've snagged that if I hadn't gotten the hardcopy already). Volume 1 includes the "Death of Optimus Prime" one-shot, which is in turn a sort of epilogue for the previous Big Event in IDW's Transformers universe. Enough is presented that I didn't feel particularly lost, and the new status quo is set up fairly clearly (to the extent it's possible, since lack of clarity for the characters is part of the new status quo). Oh, and Optimus Prime isn't so much dead as giving up being a Prime, returning to his old Orion Pax name and pulling a "Captain America as Nomad" deal. But this isn't really his story (he's off in the other main title after this). MtMtE follows the crew of the Lost Light, a bunch of disaffected or idealistic or plain foulup Autobots (and non-Autobots) who choose to follow Rodimus in search of the Knights of Cybertron. In feel it's much like the spacefaring stories of season 3 of the original cartoon, with lots of strange new worlds and a rotating subset of a large cast, but updated for an audience they know is college aged or older. A good mix of horror and humor, angst and whimsy. Both volumes are recommended. Price varies depending on where you get them and in what format, but $20 is the MSRP. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? As usual, there's stuff that came out in the month that I don't have yet, because I don't visit the comic shop weekly anymore. Also, Diamond totally lost the box containing MLP #16. (They did finally cough up some Gold Digger, but only the issues I bought online and reviewed the past few months. I still bought the hardcopies so as to not leave the store with unsellable product.) Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #1: Dark Horse - This isn't the first official Firefly comic from Dark Horse, but it *is* the first one set after the events of the movie. As is fairly cliche for a sequel, the happy ending is partially undone, but it makes sense to have worked out that way, and the small bits of happiness aren't snatched away from the crew, just their Big Victory. Zack Whedon goes to the "quotable catchphrase" well a little too often in trying to write the characters, but artist Georges Jeanty usually avoids the licensed comic pitfall of "good facial likeness at the expense of storytelling because every face is traced from a photo". Once in a while, you can tell there's photoref, but usually Jeanty lets the composition determine the expression, not the availability of reference material. Mildly recommended, hopefully it picks up once Zack finds his own voice. $3.50 Astro City #9: DC/Vertigo - Not much to say, really. This is a very "middle" issue, reinforcing themes already present without actually resolving anything yet. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Revolutionary War: Death's Head II: Marvel - Part of a big crossover about which I care not a whit, but featuring all three versions of Death's Head. Lanning (without Abnett) does a pretty good job of writing his own characters (DHII, Tuck, Dr. Necker) as well as the original DH. He even finds a way to integrate the ill-fated Death's Head drones from a few years ago. Along the way, Lanning sneaks in what appears to be a subtle retcon to remove Transformers and Doctor Who from the personal timeline of Death's Head (a human-scale original DH mentions having just gotten a new body after a recent encounter with Iron Man, where he was last seen as a giant). Because this is the middle of a crossover, there's no resolution to speak of, and the next part of the crossover doesn't even involve DH (I checked, it's also rubbish, avoid it). But this isn't really about advancing that storyline anyway: it's really done like the old Secret Origins comics from DC (yes, my peers, books from the 80s are old, as are we). An excuse to provide infodumps and establish character. And in that, it does a good job and feeds a little nostalgia. Heck, Secret Origins comics also tended to include retcons, so this issue fits the pattern there too. Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "Hrm. That's me? Bio-organic? Droopy horns? NO CAPE?! You're right -- I REALLY do need saving!" - Death's Head I, to Tuck, about Death's Head II - Revolutionary War: Death's Head II
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