March 16, 2011

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. An archive can be found on my homepage, Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): X-Factor #217 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 3/16/11: Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #8, Chaos War Dead Avengers #1, Shadowland Power Man #4, Transformers Timelines G2 Redux, Widowmaker #3, Invincible #77, Widowmaker #4, Atomic Robo Deadly Art of Science #3, Transformers Foundation #1, Love & Capes Ever After #2, Comic Book Comics #5, Legion of Super-Villains one-shot and Gold Digger #126. Add Adventure #524 (store got shorted), Transformers Foundation #2 (at this point I may just yank it from my pool and tell them not to bother), PS238 #49, Time Lincoln Cuba Commander (might not bother here either, the series really hasn't "taken off" for me). "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. Mega Bloks Marvel Microfigs: Mega Bloks - These are blindpacked minifigs at $2.50 each. Given that Mega Bloks microfigs are generally pretty good, I decided to grab some when I saw these. If you only know from Lego figures, Mega Bloks microfigs have ball joints for neck, shoulder and hips, plus hinge knees and elbows and swivels for waist (on most of them) and wrists. Where Lego minifigs can only stand with feet together, microfigs CAN'T have their feet on adjacent pegs. I bought 8 packs, and got one Spider-Man with two right arms (they come disassembled, presumably to make it harder to feel for shapes)...and SEVEN regular Iron Man figures. Like, okay, there's only eight figures in the assortment (Iron Man, damaged Iron Man, War Machine, Spider-Man, old-style armored Spider-Man, black Spider-Man, Venom, Green Goblin), but they must not randomize these at all in the box. So if you don't want to play the package-feel game (which really only works with Gobby and War Machine), shuffle the pile first. The quality is...okay. These are all molds that they've sold before (including some odd bits... Spider-Man's web shield is taken from an orc figure from a few years ago), and the paint jobs are a little weaker than on the playset versions. They do take care to make sure there's differences between the Iron Man figures and the ones released last year, though. I did go back and use the feel-test to get Green Goblin, War Machine and Venom. Gobby doesn't come with a stand that will support his glider. Mildly recommended. $2.50 Invasion: Book One of the Secret World Chronicle: Baen Books - This is the start of a new anthology series, spearheaded by Mercedes Lackey and using City of Heroes characters (hers and those of the other authors) ported over to a similar setting on the eve of an invasion by extradimensional Nazis. I got the ebook version from for $6, although I'm sure hardcopies exist for those of you who prefer that format. The tone is more even than I'd have expected from an anthology, although the fact that they're all working from the City of Heroes tone as a starting point probably helps. In some cases, I could practically tell you what level and powersets the characters are, in others the authors scrubbed things a bit more thoroughly. Because they have to build up a new-ish world, there's a lot of exposition involved, especially since different characters come from sometimes radically different backgrounds so they each bring their own exposition, but it was generally a smooth read. Recommended. (As an aside, Baen's ebooks are DRM-free and available in a bunch of formats, including HTML to read online. Their philosophy is that anyone who's going to pirate their work wasn't going to buy it anyway, and why make things hard on the paying customers? Naive, perhaps, but has gotten me to send a lot more money their way than I would have if they stuck to a closed format.) Time-Shifting: Sometimes I get a comic a week or two late because of Diamond's combination of neglect and incompetence. If it's more than a week late, though, I won't review it unless it's very notable. Additionally, I will often get tradepaperbacks long after publication or even sometimes before Diamond ships them, and those will go here. If I'm reasonably sure I'm reviewing something that didn't ship this week, this is the section for it. Nothing this week. I did get Halo & Sprocket vol 2 in the mail today, but I'm gonna read it over the weekend and add it to next week's column. New Comics: Comics and comic collections that I got this week and were actually supposed to be out this week, as far as I can tell. These reviews will generally be spoiler-free, but the occasional bit will slip in. Young Justice #2: DC - Well, with so many more books missing this week from my actual pull, I decided I had room to pick this one up. Unfortunately, while my suspicions about how the story would play out were incorrect in detail, they were essentially right in theme, and Baltazar doesn't really bring anything new or interesting to the old cliche. Mildly recommended. $2.99 R.E.B.E.L.S. #26: DC - When the artist doesn't even give Starro the right number of arms every time, you have to wonder if his heart is in it (especially when there's a fill-in artist on half the issue). The story is similarly inconsistent, as if the main plot is an unwelcome distraction and most of the characters would rather do something else. Okay, Lyrl would always rather do something other than what's going on around him, but the whole plot smells like "reconnaissance in force" and everything will reset in an issue or two with no real defeat on either side. Eh. Neutral. $2.99 X-Factor #217: Marvel - J. Jonah Jameson is a blowhard and a jerk, but he's also a guy who managed to keep a newspaper going well into the New Media Age, and who got himself elected Mayor of New York. Once in a while, a writer undertakes to remind us how he can manage these things. And sometimes even does it without running counter to his usual personality. This is one of those times, with JJJ getting a really good speech on the topic of "taking the country back". Oh, and there's mutants around too. Lupaccino's art is adequate to the task of illustrating PAD's story, but no great shakes on its own. Strongly recommended. $2.99 Thunderbolts #155: Marvel - It's a recruitment drive, Thunderbolts style. Songbird and Fixer take one route (a short, but dangerous one) while Cage and guest star Dr. Strange take a longer and rather sexier (but probably MORE dangerous) path. Parker also subtly draws a parallel between Strange and Juggernaut, who are in fairly similar situations mystically speaking. Recommended. $2.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #656: Marvel - As long as he's speaking true things, JJJ hangs a lampshade on Spidey's "no one dies" pledge. The parade of specialty suits continues, this time the disad is "no wall-crawling". Recommended. $3.99 Avengers Academy #11: Marvel - Raney and Hanna are the new regular artists. And Veil should have known better...look at the sort of thing that comes out of Pym's lab when he's in "control" of things! Setting one of his experiments running was never a good idea. :) LOTS of exposition here, to bring readers up to speed on the cosmic stuff that Veil unleashed, but it goes past pretty smoothly. Recommended. $2.99 I considered getting Young Avengers: Children's Crusade, but the fact that it's part of the launch for a mega-event I have no interest in mitigated against it. Awards: "So Yeah, Technowarriors TetsuRanger Kitbashes Are On The Way" Award to Marvel Microfigs "The Costumes Say Superhero, The Body Count Says MilSF" Award to Invasion: Book One of the Secret World Chronicle "MONKEY MONKEY MONKEY" Award to Young Justice #2 "I've Pretty Much Used Up All The Starfish Gags" Award to R.E.B.E.L.S. #26 "When JJJ Looks Reasonable Next To You, You Have Already Lost The Argument" Award to X-Factor #217 "Fixer? I 'Ardly KNOW 'Er!" Award to Thunderbolts #155 "Pretty Much The Legal Definition Of Insanity There" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #656 "The Shiny, CANDY-LIKE Button!" Award to Avengers Academy #11 Dave Van Domelen, "Um...I think you have us confused with somebody else. You've got THOR and IRON MAN out there. Living LEGENDS. We're not even in any of the CARTOONS." "REPTIL is. Pfft...I need a new agent." - Mettle and Striker, Avengers Avademy #11
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