March 25, 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.
Spring Break's over and I'm still tired, sigh.  An archive can be found on my 

"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.

     Disney's Bolt Comic Adaptation: Disney - This was a Walmart-exclusive
pack-in with the 2-disc DVD set (which itself was very good and worth getting
somewhere).  It has 48 pages to adapt the movie, and it does pretty much the
worst possible job in terms of preserving pacing.  To wit, there's NO pacing
to speak of.  Even a ham-handed "every minute gets half a page" system would
have worked better.  They'd have been much better off taking the opening
scenes of the Bolt TV show and just spending 48 pages adapting that.  In
short, this pack-in is no reason to buy at Wal-Mart as opposed to another
retailer.  In fact, checking the ads shows that the only other promotions are
discounts if you buy Bolt and the reissue of Lilo & Stitch, and both Target
and Best Buy are equivalent there.

     Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter DVD: Warner Premiere - I never
cared for, or about, the Black Freighter story in Watchmen.  Yes, I know
about the literary elements, yadda yadda yadda...don't care.  The animation
of this is decent, and the voice acting passable, but nothing about seeing it
in motion made me any more interested in it.  Admittedly, having it all in
one place does bring the parallels into sharper focus than when it was
scattered throughtout the comic (and in case you still don't get it, it's
spelled out in an featurette).  Anyway, the real reason I picked this up is
because it's also got Under the Hood.  In fact, Under the Hood is longer than
TotBF, but barely gets a mention.
     Under the Hood is done as a TV news magazine piece from 1975, replayed
in 1985 as a retrospective (so there's a framing piece), doing a good job of
evoking the look of shows like 60 Minutes from the era.  It's an interview
with Hollis Mason, giving him a lot more screen time than he was left in the
main movie.  :)  It also has advertising breaks for various in-setting
products, like Nostalgia or a vintage real ad for Seiko digital watches.
Putting the main stuff in 1975 has the advantage of requiring less-severe age
makeup, and it looks much more natural.  Well, except for Frewer, who's in
de-aging makeup.  It's a good interpretation of the material.
     Extras include the first episode of the Watchmen Motion Comic, a
featurette explaining how the features connect to the main story and a
preview of the upcoming Green Lantern DVD (it says exclusive, but it seems to
be the same one as on the Wonder Woman DVD).  Recommended.  $16.99 at Best

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): Mighty
Avengers #23, Larry Marder's Beanworld Wahoolazuma!

     Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Defiance #3 (of 4): IDW - Pretty much
all the "origin of the civil war" stuff is wrapped up here, with the
Decepticons getting named and the schism becoming unhealable.  All that's
left for the final issue is to have a big fight and then drop foreshadowing
for the movie.  It was a decent issue, though.  Recommended.  $3.99
     Transformers All Hail Megatron #9: IDW - Two artists this time out, Deas
and does the Earth scenes and the other the Cybertron ones.
Competent, but no great shakes.  The story, for its part, lurches ahead as if
McCarthy suddenly realized he needed to wrap things up by #12 and had pissed
away four of five issues on decompression.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
     Eureka #3 (of 4): Boom! Studios - Well, the dialogue is still great, but
this issue carries the burden of all the exposition, which slows things down
more than a little.  It's still good, but not great.  Recommended.  $3.99
     The Muppet Show #1 (of 4): Boom! Kids - Written and drawn by Roger
Langridge.  It's okay, but he seems to be trying too hard to make a carbon
copy of one of the classic Muppet Show episodes, and not all the gags
translate from moving pictures to static ones.  And a number of the jokes
come across as very forced.  Despite being a miniseries, it doesn't look like
it's going to have any sort of overall arc, it's just a miniseries because
that's what the popular kids sell anymore.  It has a strong ending, at least,
but the best I can give it is a mildly recommended.  $2.99 (seems that this
is the default price for Boom!  Kids).
     The Incredibles #1 (of 4): Boom! Kids - Waid does a slightly better job
than Langridge when it comes to adapting his property, but he leans a little
too strongly on sitcom cliches...yes, it's clear he means to do so in an
ironic manner or something, but weak cliches are still weak no matter your
motives.  Marcio Takara does a good job of evoking the Incredibles designs
without being a slavish copier.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99
     Batman the Brave and the Bold #3: DC - Well, this one's coming off my
pull.  Matt Wayne's writing is trying so hard to be camp that it hurts, and
he totally misses that the B&tB cartoon succeeds because it plays things
significantly more "straight" and subtle.  I gave it three issueds to get
better, but instead it's gotten worse every issue.  Avoid.  $2.50 
     Justice League of America #31: DC - One of the problems with a book like
Justice League is the question of whether to focus on the characters with
their own titles (in this case, the "trinity" for the most part, but also
Flash and GL), or focus on the ones without.  If you go with the B-listers,
people complain the book is full of characters they don't care about.  If you
go with the A-listers, though, you're at the mercy of their Big Event Crap.
The current League has been trying to play the B-list but can't ignore that
the Big Three are on the team...and now Batman is dead for tax purposes and
Superman is commuting to another planet.  Plus, the trio's been jerking Black
Canary around for ages, letting her take the title of leader while pretty
much playing secret cabal.  So, this is where it falls apart yet again, in a
Canary-focused issue that sounds like she's talking for McDuffie, frustrated
by being given the reins of the team but then getting cut off at the knees
repeatedly.  Of course, the book's not cancelled and the Big Three are slated
to still be in it a few months from now, so there's not a lot accomplished
here, but JLA fan-hitting never lasts anyway.  And there's a few good running
gags along the way (plus art by someone who isn't Ed Benes), so Recommended.
     Ms. Marvel #37: Marvel - Dark Reign banner.  THIS is the much-bemoaned
death of Carol Danvers?  PLEASE.  Even as comic book deaths go, this is
pretty obvious.  It makes Batman's death look convincing.  Sure, Carol's
going to be off-screen for a while, but Reed's clearly writing a birth here,
not a death.  And no, it hardly counts as spoilers to claim this.  :)  While
I strongly disapprove of the torture porn of a few months ago, at least it
was used to good purpose, finally dealing with one of Carol's longest-running
danglers.  Recommended.  $2.99
     Mighty Avengers #23: Marvel - Dark Reign banner.  Great issue from
Slott, both relying on tropes and cliches and subverting them.  I especially
look forward to Cho and Pym interacting on the new team.  This is definitely
going to be a B-list team for the most part, to reference the JLA issue
above, but the Avengers don't have as much of a history of being tied to a
Big, they do have at least one founder on this team.  Strongly
recommended.  $2.99
     Amazing Spider-Man #589: Marvel - Fred Van Lente jumps on board the
writing team and brings back the villain from the very first issue of
Spectacular Spider-Man that I read.  :)  Now, normally, trying to take a
comic relief character and make them Deadly Serious backfires, but once in a
while it can work, especially if the writer's not trying to make it a
permanent change.  And that's the case here.  The villain has a good reason
to change his tone, and it's a reason that won't prevent other writers from
using him in a lighter mode in the future...but it does remind everyone how
nasty his abilities can be when he takes off the kid gloves.  Recommended.
     The Incredible Hercules #127: Marvel - Dark Reign banner.  The whole
"Hera's Revenge" plot kicks into high gear, and plenty of nasties from Herc's
days in the Champions show up to help out.  Sadly, the "kill a minor
character to show how serious the villains are" card gets played, which drops
this down a notch.  Still, recommended.  $2.99
     Larry Marder's Beanworld Wahoolazuma!: Dark Horse - This hardcover
reprints Tales of the Beanworld #1-9.  Now, I started reading Beanworld when
I found #5 in a quarter bin and needed a couple more books to go from 35
cents each to 10/$2.50, so I grabbed it...and I've never regretted.  I have
all the Eclipse issues from #5 onward, and got the TPB that filled in the gap
before that, so getting this collection doesn't actually give me much in the
way of new content (just the preface, intro and cover art, really).  But
there's the occasional title where I will rebuy it just to have a nice
collection, and this is one of those cases.  It's a nice hardcover binding
without dustjacket, slightly smaller than regular comic size (so the art is
shrunk by 10-20 percent, but the printing quality is higher than the old
comics so no detail is lost).  Strongly recommended.  $19.95 (although I had
to order mine online, $15.99 with free shipping from, since
Diamond won't ship it to my store).

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 3/25/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger
Universe #22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #1-3, Transformers Revenge of the
Fallen: Alliance #2 and #4, Jersey Gods #1-2, Booster Gold #17, Gen13 v4 #27,
Dynamo5 #20, Cthulhu Tales #12, Essential Power Man/Iron Fist vol 2 (ordered
online), Gold Digger Maidens of Twilight #2, Ninja High School #168


"3-D Movie, 1-D Comic" Award to the Bolt pack-in comic

"Rorschach Just Dropped Andy Rooney Down An Open Storm Sewer Grate" Award to
     Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter DVD

"Come Up To The Lab, And See What'z In The Slab" Award to Transformers:
     Revenge of the Fallen Defiance #3 (of 4)

"Decepticon Pieta" Award to Transformers All Hail Megatron #9

"Hey, It's Not Fargo's Fault For Once" Award to Eureka #3 (of 4)

"Nice Pussywillows" Award to The Muppet Show #1 (of 4)

"Origin Story Of The Species" Award to The Incredibles #1 (of 4)

"The Brave And The Bald" Award to Batman the Brave and the Bold #3

"Why, Yes, The Characters ARE Complaining About How Stupid The Crossover
     Events Are" Award to Justice League of America #31

"Singing The Body Electric" Award to Ms. Marvel #37

"He Doesn't Have Issues, He Has The Entire Essentials Run" Award to Mighty
     Avengers #23

"At Least It Wasn't A Copy Of MacBeth" Award to Amazing Spider-Man #589

"Hera, The Dog That Bit You" Award to The Incredible Hercules #127

"Not So Jolly Anymore" Award to Larry Marder's Beanworld Wahoolazuma! HC

     Dave Van Domelen, "I'm sorry, Yellowjacket, but we don't have time to
deal with all of your baggage --"  "I'm NOT Yellowjacket anymore.  I'm the
Wasp."  "Wow.  Thanks for making my point." - Iron Man and Hank Pym, Mighty
Avengers #23
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