March 18, 2009

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.
Ah, first allergy season of the year.  Bleh.   An archive can be found on my 

     Turns out Diamond has been cancelling reorders from my store without
comment.  And shorting the store but being pissy about crediting them for the
missing books (hiding behind creative interpretation of agreements) and
generally begging to get hit by a lawsuit.

"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.

     PS238 Role-Playing Game: Hero Games - Quick disclosure time: I used to
be HUGE into Hero System.  I bought pretty much every book they put out, even
the ones that turned out to be total crap.  I've run campaigns with as many
as 12 players at once (which, um, I would not recommend).  But when Fifth
Edition came out, I got the core rules, read 'em...and decided that I didn't
need to follow the system anymore.  Most of the changes to the system were, I
thought, not for the better.  So I just stopped.
     Anyway, while this game uses Fifth Edition (or "FRED") as a basis, it's
a stripped down and simplified version that resembles 4th Edition a LOT more
than it does FRED.  A lot of things were left out in the name of simplicity,
but it's not a lot less detailed than 4th, to be honest.  Oh, there's a
shorter list of Talents and a few powers and advantages were left out, but
it's still a fully-featured RPG.  There's also a few campaign-specific rules
(like kids starting with lower stats for no price break, having to pay 5
points for enough Growth to get up to adult size...although they don't get a
"free" level of Shrinking), some of which are kinda buried.  There's some
contradictions and inconsistencies (in one place characters are 100+50, but
usually they're 150+50, for instance), but the error rate is low for a Hero
product.  And there's a number of pre-made power chunks for beginning
     The main reason a non-gamer would have for buying this is that it's also
a setting sourcebook.  It only officially covers through issue #29 (the game
theoretically came out months ago, but the Alliance Game Distribution` side
of Diamond isn't a whole lot more reliable than the comics side), so it's
missing some things like Cecil's special senses, but it also has a lot of
info that hasn't come out in the comics at all yet, such as the secret origin
of the Praetorian Academy.  The book is full of art taken from the comics as
well, so no worries about Hero's stable of artists and their wildly variable
quality's all Aaron Williams.  :)  A bit pricey if all you're
after is a sourcebook, but well-made.  Recommended.  $31.99

Comics Capsules:
     Short, relatively spoiler-free reviews of books I actually bring home
(as opposed to reading in preview form in the shop or online).  If I get a
book late due to distributor foulups or whatever, I'll put it in the Missing

     Books of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Amazing
Spider-Man #588, Marvel Adventures Avengers #34

     Transformers All Hail Megatron #8: IDW - Got this last Thursday, but
with only one late book showing up at the newsstand I decided to just wait
for the next batch rather than put out a one-book post.  :)  A lot of ground
gets covered this issue, and part of the Traitor Subplot is revealed (along
with pretty good reasons why the guy turned traitor), although only part.  In
other words, there's still another traitor, or other plot device, so the
suspicion can still go on.  My favorite part, though, was a spark-to-spark
talk between Kup and Ironhide on the burden of command and the sergeant's
lament.  Recommended.  $3.99
     Mysterius the Unfathomable #3 (of 6): DC/Wildstorm - Okay, if the goal
was to create a feeling of chaos and madness, Parker succeeded.  However, it
also makes for a rather disjointed read, as it feels like the plot has become
easily distractable by shiny objects.  One of the central gimmicks of the
issue is interesting, but the story's a bit too scattered to really take
advantage of its potential for quiet creepiness.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99
     X-Factor #41: Marvel - Plot threads are flying all over the place this
issue, as last issue's big spoiler plays out, a (maybe) new threat or three
pop up, and Guido once again demonstrates that he does have a brain.  The art
by DeLandro and Santucci (some pages by one, some by the other) is okay.
Recommended.  $2.99
     Amazing Spider-Man #588: Marvel - A whole bunch of arcs wrap up (or at
least climax) this issue, with plenty of action, snappy patter, character
development and even a nicely ominous ending.  Strongly recommended.  $3.99
     Marvel Adventures Avengers #34: Marvel - Heh, Spider-Man all but invokes
Zweig's Second Law* here.  There's a few places I think Tobin should have
dialed it back a little and let the humor speak for itself, but otherwise
another very good issue.  Strongly recommended.  $2.99
     Invincible #60: Image - Oooh, a gatefold cover.  90s nostalgia!  Also,
line-wide crossover.  Although this does not seem to be the threatened Image
United, rather it's a done-in-one mob scene issue in which all the Image
heroes who could conceivably participate fight a legion of cross-time, Invincibles.  There's even a TechJacket appearance, with Kirkman
poking fun at his own creation's relative obscurity.  Of course, because it's
done in one, we get snapshots rather than following any of the fights from
start to end...heavily compressed, if you will.  A "summer event in one
issue" as Kirkman puts it in the lettercol.  I'd say the gore quotient was
high, but it's about the usual level for this series.  Loads of deaths, and
the world is heavily blowed-up, which may or may not affect other titles in
any meaningful way.  Recommended.  $3.99

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 3/18/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger
Universe #22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #1-3, Transformers Revenge of the
Fallen: Alliance #2, Jersey Gods #1-2, Booster Gold #17, Gen13 v4 #27,
Beanworld volume 1 hardcover, Dynamo5 #20, Cthulhu Tales #12, Essential Power
Man/Iron Fist vol 2.  Add TFRotF Defiance #3, Gold Digger Maidens of Twilight
#2, Eureka #3 and Ninja High School #168 (although the two Antarctic books
could just be a case of the weird way Diamond ships stuff from that
publisher, often a week out of phase with Midtown's list here).


"If Familiarity Breeds Contempt, What Does Binary Bonding Breed?" Award to
     Transformers All Hail Megatron #8

"One Fish, Two Fish, Yellow King, Squamous Thing" Award to Mysterius the
     Unfathomable #3 (of 6)

"Never Underestimate The Power Of Internal Monologue" Award to X-Factor #41

"Not Even The Proportionate Agilty Of A Spider Can Overcome Peter's Lack
     Of Driving Skills" Award to Amazing Spider-Man #588

"Tigra Doesn't Control Cats, Spider-Man Doesn't Control Spiders, And Hulk 
     Doesn't Control Himself" Award to Marvel Adventures Avengers #34

"As Long As Invincible Doesn't Run Into Any Cannibalistic Skatepunks" 
     Award to Invincible #60

     Dave Van Domelen, "This is long before recorded time."  "Quick!  Record
it!" - Ant-Man and Spider-Man, Marvel Adventures Avengers #34

* "The way time travel works: Barring divine intervention, a time jump has a
90% chance of taking you to the twentieth century, and a 9% chance of taking
you to the time of the dinosaurs." - Zweig's Second Law
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