March 31, 2016

Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et Cetera

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, Closing on a house (hopefully) at the end of April. Yay adulting! Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None. In this installment: Lego Justice League Cosmic Clash, DC Super Hero Girls, Daredevil S2 Eps 1-4, 1999 Book 5, Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga vol 3, Invader Zim #8, Marvel All-New All-Different Universe, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #5, The Totally Awesome Hulk #4, Ms. Marvel v2 #5, Ninjas vs. Aliens #1, Gold Digger #230, Astro City #33, Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs #1, My Little Pony Friends Forever #26, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #40, Transformers Deviations, The Transformers #50, Transformers More than Meets the Eye #50-51. Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Toil and Trouble #5, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #3 AND #4 "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 Cosmic Clash (Lego): DC/WB - I got the set with the Cosmic Boy minifigure, which came in an impulse bag stuffed into the box, rather than the usual display window trick. While the Legion was something of a big selling point here, they're not on-screen for a whole lot of time. The main plot, really, is your basic "need to learn to be part of the team" cliche, but somehow the Lego DC stuff manages to take the tritest of cliche plots and make them fun. THIS is the Batman vs. Superman we need. The Cosmic Boy minifigure is nice, too bad there doesn't seem to be an Imra to complete the trio (Lightning Lad was in a four-figure gift set at Target a few months ago). Recommended. $15 or so. DC Super Hero Girls: DC/Mattel - Just a few observations on the toy line (Target exclusive) and the show (on Boomerang). I picked up the Bumblebee (oddly no difficulty with Hasbro on that trademark) and Harley Quinn action figures, which are pretty good for $10 toys these days. 6" tall, universal joints on shoulders, elbows, hips and knees (but the knees are a bit limited), swivel wrists and ankles, ball joint neck. Soft hands, so while they can hold stuff, it's weakly. Fairly good paint apps, okay accessories. I watched most of the shorts (known as Season 1) and the first episode of the regular series. I was a bit worried based on the shorts that it would be about teen hijinks and saving kittens from trees and stuff, but Season 2 involves an invasion from Apokolips (no one will ever be a better Granny Goodness than Ed Asner, though), so the stakes will occasionally rise above high school comedy. Too bad it's on Boomerang and launched with nearly zero fanfare. Also, it looks like this is a one-shot, a single-episode "season." There's clearly setup for later stories, but they're not trying to make this a weekly series. Recommended. Daredevil Season 2, Episodes 1-4: Marvel/Netflix - Unlike season 1, which was a single extended origin story, this season is broken into a few different conflicts. The first four make up a single arc, Daredevil vs. Punisher, which is as far as I've gotten so far. I hear the remaining episodes try running multiple arcs in parallel rather than in series. The first four episodes (well, 3.96 or something, there's a stinger at the end of ep 4 to set up the next plot) form a strong arc that uses the Punisher as a Dark Mirror for Daredevil. The philosophical argument runs basically as "You don't fix problems by letting the scum live!" versus "You don't fix problems by killing people who might turn around!" And if the show answers the issue at all, it's by saying you probably don't fix problems at all, no matter what you do...the best you can hope for is to save the occasional innocent (or kinda-innocent) from drowning in the problems. Recommended. 1999 Book 5 (Episodes 37-40): Kindle - This is a relatively short installment because Priest landed the Deathstroke gig and needing to get ahead on a twice-monthly schedule kind of distracted from writing more 1999. This is the start of a new storyline, with a somewhat more traditional superhero bent (Episodes 1-36 were more of a pulp mystery with superhero elements), featuring the 1999-verse's versions of Superman and Batman. Four episodes isn't a lot, but it's enough to get a decent idea how the new supers are being set up. Warning: the very first sentence may offend, but keep reading, it's explained. Still offensive, but maybe a little less so. Recommended. $2.99 at The Justice League vs. Teen Titans movie is supposedly out, but I haven't seen it at any stores around here yet, so it'll go on next month's column. 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. Nothing this month. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga Volume 3: DC - And thus the series wraps up, with the last third of the translated stories (mostly from Shonen Gaho, rather than Shonen King) collected here. The endnotes include a list of all of the original stories that inspired, Kuwata changed a LOT. I'd thought these were completely original stories inspired by the American comic and occasionally using elements of DC villains (like Go Go the Magician being clearly based on Weather Wizard), but nope. But Kuwata tended to take single issue stories and more than double the total page count, adding in plot elements not present in the original. And sometimes the plot is modified pretty significantly. Anyway, while the previous two volumes tended to lean more on gimmick gangsters and semi-plausible scientific plot devices (well, by standards of the day), this volume goes all out weird, with robot criminals, travel to alien worlds, and of course the Matt Hagen version of Clayface (although, as usual, he has a different civilian name). Recommended. $14.99/$17.99Cn Ottaviani's "The Imitation Game" will be in next month's reviews. I got it on Amazon but waited until some other pre-order stuff was available to get free shipping. :) Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Invader Zim #8: Oni Press - They may not admit to it, but this is basically a Kill la Kill riff. While far from the weakest in the series, it's not particularly inspired either. It feels like Oni stopped caring after the first few issues and are just trying to milk the license and fulfil a contract with Hot Topic or something now. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Marvel All-New All-Different Universe: Marvel - This is an update handbook, with a few entirely new entries (like Battleworld) and a bunch of updates. They totally changed the format from the previous Marvel Handbooks, though, increasing the fog levels a bit. Still, if you only read a few Marvel books and are curious what sort of stuff is happening elsewhere, this will get you caught up (I suppose you could read wiki pages for free, but you have to know what to look for, and this collects it). Mildly recommended. $4.99 Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #5: Marvel - Well, finally got an issue shipped. Still waiting on 3-4, but I've read scans so I won't be lost. On the one hand, I appreciate not having to spend several issues with Moon Girl suffering through being grounded and "normal" and stuff, but I think Reeder whipped through that part of the story so fast it felt like he decided he never wanted to do that in the first place but changed his mind too late to fix the ending of #4. Some plot elements move way too fast, others just sort of hang there feeling like Gilligan trying to get off the island. Maybe my frustration with being unable to get the regular issues has cast a pall over my enjoyment of the book, but it just doesn't feel like it's living up to its premise very well. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Totally Awesome Hulk #4: Marvel - Pretty underwhelmed by the first arc. It really felt like it could all have been done in two issues, with excessive padding (yet another monster fight, another incremental advance of the flashback sequence that could have all been done well in three pages total, etc). Pak has earned enough slack from me that I'm not dropping it yet, but the next arc had better improve. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 Ms. Marvel v2 #5: Marvel - On the one hand, almost nothing happens this issue other than the obvious unfolding of the calamity established in #4. On the other hand, it does so in an amusing manner, so the predictability is acceptable. Recommended. $3.99 Ninjas vs. Aliens #1: Antarctic Press - Ben Dunn takes another shot at redoing the Ninja High School concept. This isn't a reboot, it's just a generation later with another batch of aliens and ninjas in high school. He's taking a vignette approach so far, with the issue broken into three chapters which each introduce some fraction of the cast (including three pages spent on a story-within-the-story). Salusians and Zardons on Earth are taken as a fairly normal thing at this point, and none of the original cast have shown up yet (one or two may have appeared in the previous series in minor roles, though, I'd need to go back through the backissues). A bit disjointed, but more readable than Science vs. Magic #1. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger #230: Antarctic Press - Fight fight fight sudden betrayal and apparently abandoning the multi-issue arc in favor of something else? Even re-reading the issue, I'm still not sure whether the same endgame is in place with different players, or if this was all a distraction. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 Astro City #33: DC/Vertigo - In proper noir fashion, an informant gets killed and an Obvious Suspect gets revealed by the end of the issue. However, even if the Obvious Suspect is the actual culprit, there's bound to be at least one "no he isn't, yes he is" double reverse to stay in theme. :) All in all, this is the sort of "middle and exposition" issue that will probably read better when the whole arc is done, though. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs #1: Lion Force Comics - I never watched this show as a kid, not sure I had even heard about it before seeing the solicitation for the comic, but I like Maighreed Scott's writing enough to give it a shot. Sadly, the anonymous studio artists have zero idea how to visually tell a story, frequently showing before or after an action but not actually showing things HAPPEN. This can lead to some confusing pages, where I had to infer from dialogue that something had happened between panels. The writing is okay, but the poor support from the art definitely hurts. Mildly recommended, hopefully either the artists get better or Scott starts writing scripts that are more art-proof. $2.99 Ragnarok #8: IDW - This is basically one scene, a fight with Thor and the dark elf Regn versus a horde of nameless voiceless fire demons, ending in a videogame-style boss fight against a much larger nameless voiceless fire demon. 19 pages of the two named characters arguing while fighting mooks, then 8 more pages of pencils and inks of 4 of the pieces. Very indulgent, but then this really has always been Simonson indulging himself, yes? The Thor story he could never tell at Marvel. It looks cool enough, but ultimately that's about all it does this issue. The story content could have been done in four pages. Mildly recommended. $4.99 My Little Pony Friends Forever #26: IDW - Shining Armor and Prince Blueblood. Whitley's story has a thematic similarity to Raiders of the Lost Mark, in that Blueblood is clearly someone who leans a little too hard on his special talent without developing some of the mundane skills that should go along with it. But where Diamond Tiara was a boss rather than a leader, Blueblood is a boor and a twit...until he turns on his talent for diplomacy. When in what he considered a position of power (Grand Galloping Gala) he sees no need to be diplomatic and treats other ponies as unimportant. But when tasked with being a diplomat, he knows just what to do. However, since the comics can't make major changes to characters who might reappear in the cartoon, this is more of an explanation of why Blueblood remains an Important Person, and not a Comeuppance In Which He Learns The The True Value Of His Talent like Diamond Tiara got. Still, recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #40: IDW - Reading this was kind of weird, because it focuses on a bit of backstory that has also been developed by one of the more professional-quality fan comics I follow...and as a result it feels less canonical than the fanwork. :) But while that fan comic focuses on Twilight's schooling experience as itself, this issue is more concerned with the trials and tribulations of Twilight trying to raise Spike while also being a student. Without help. And if you think making the equivalent of a gradeschooler raise a child of a different species with no guidance whatsoever is a bit too much, then you've never met Princess Celestia. Her teaching style has always been "throw them into the deep end...of a pool full of monsters which are also on fire." I mean, looking back, this is pretty much how Twilight has been taught all along. Is Twilight Sparkle worthy to become an Alicorn? Well, let's see, Nightmare Moon is scheduled to break free, let's see if Twi can solve that. She managed that? Cool. Hey, there's this horribly dangerous spell no one ever figured out, let's give it to her and not tell her it's horribly dangerous. That should be a good learning experience. And so forth. So...yeah. In that light, this issue is a perfect depiction of how Twi's first months in school must have been like. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers Deviations One-Shot: IDW - This is like a Third Party toy in comic form. Cling tenaciously to the 1984 properties, but redo them with better technology and a higher price. In this case, it's a "What If?" sort of story in which somehow the only survivors seem to be 1984 season 1 Autobots, and all the icky "newbies" die. The most "Geewun" thing I've ever paid to read, and that includes Regeneration One. (The actual original Marvel comics aren't Geewun, in fact they run counter to the Geewunner attitude in that they move forward and actually bring in new characters and new ideas.) And I haven't even addressed the actual writing, which reminds me of bad fanfic from the 90s, in that it rushes through ideas and is more interested in establishing who lives, who dies, and who gets a kewl new set of powers than in telling a story. Avoid. $4.99 The Transformers #51: IDW - Spike is now more of a cartoony villain than any in G1. That's really the main take-away from this issue. He's been bitter and a jerk for a while now (not without cause), but now he's practically cackling over how having ethics makes Optimus weak. Really, the rest is just more of the "We want to talk" "Die robot scum" stuff from last issue. Meh. $3.99 Transformers More than Meets the Eye #50: IDW - Another double-sized extravaganza with backup story. The main story lets the other shoe drop regarding the resentment over Megatron's pardon, although as others have pointed out, some of the people who joined the mutiny have very strong reasons to not go along with the methods no matter how much they may agree with the goals. Still, compared to The Transformers #50, the "it all goes to slag" storyline here is a bit more palatable. But it shoots for Epic Disaster but is too riddled with "Wait, what?" moments to carry the mood. The backup story is aimed squarely and solely at the people who have read the entire series so far, and even then it's a bit confusing on first read. Mildly recommended. $7.99 Transformers More than Meets the Eye #51: IDW - Y'know, shortly after #50 came out, someone did a fan comic where Ratchet showed up, glared at everyone, the DJD surrendered and everything was fixed. That's not what happens here, but almost good enough. :) Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "There's a DIFFERENCE, isn't there. Between mechs and organics. I used to think there were MANY -- I used to think there were ONLY differences -- but now I realize there's just ONE. The sound we make when we're in PAIN." - Megatron, TF:MtMtE #51
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