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Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et CeteraIntermittent 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 month. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Okay, had my second shot, I'm as protected as I'm gonna get. Still masked. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Nothing this month. In this installment: Adventure Finders Book 2 volume 1 Chapter 14, My Little Pony Manga vol 3, Hilo book 7: Gina the Girl who Broke the World, The Other History of the DC Universe #3, Marvel Snapshots: Captain Marvel, Maestro War and PAX #2-3, The Trials of Ultraman #1 (of 5), USAgent #3-4 (of 5), The Wrong Earth; Day and Night #3 (of 6?), Norse Mythology #5-6, Vampirella #18, Giga #3, Heroes of the Golden Age #5, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #95, Transformers #28, Transformers Beast Wars #2 Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Nothing this month. "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. Nothing this month. I picked up WW84 on BluRay, but it'll go on next month's reviews. Netflix is the only streaming service I subscribe to, so WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier reviews will wait until they come out on disc as well. Digital Content: Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so (such as a lack of regular comics), I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will generally be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. Adventure Finders Book 2 Volume 1 chapter 14: Patreon.com - The end of the downtime interlude, in which it turns out Clari and some of the others "caught something" from their time with the sylvan elves, but not what last issue might have suggested. ;) I suppose that's one way to explain how D&D characters bump up their stats every four levels.... Fairly slow-paced, as everyone prepares to split up into several missions, although most of the original core group continues on to New Elderbrass. In terms of "things happening," that's mostly the province of the text pieces at the end, being a series of letters exchanged by powerful people reacting to what the protagonists have been doing. Recommended. $1/month on Patreon. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. My Little Pony the Manga vol 3: Seven Seas Entertainment - The premise is that Discord is challenged to create a memorable scavenger hunt, and goes predictably overboard, breaking the timeline and forcing the Mane Six to go to alternate realities in search of the Elements of Harmony. (While the Matrix of Leadership makes a cameo appearance, none of the chapters involved Transformers.) Sometimes they interact with their alternate selves, sometimes those selves are conveniently out of town, but generally the whole "double from another universe" thing doesn't cause much fuss. Some of the gags go on a little too long, but it's a solid addition to the extended pony universe. Recommended. $10.99/$13.99Cn Hilo vol 7: Gina the Girl who Broke the World: Random House Graphic - In the wake of the first arc, Hilo is (more or less) human and living a (kinda) normal life, but Gina still has her magical skills...and that's a problem. You see, once magic enters a world, it tends to keep coming, and that's not an unalloyed good thing. In fact, it's usually pretty bad. And while much of this installment is dominated by a sort of macguffin hunt, it ends on a serious "Uh-Oh" point, on account of the whole breaking of the world. More broken than it had been, that is. Hilo is still a significant part of the story, but as Gina's name added to the title indicates, this arc is hers. Recommended. $13.99/$18.99Cn The Other History of the DC Universe #3: DC Black Label - This issue focuses on Katana, another literal and figurative Outsider. Ridley takes a generally "street level" view of the character, brushing aside all the mystic elements of the character as rumors spread by others. While the previous two issues could fit reasonably comfortably in with their characters' main story canon, this is a repeated rejection of most of what is "known" about Tatsu. The sword is not magic. She's not formally trained in martial arts. She did not battle on a mystic plane when mortally wounded, she just hallucinated and gritted it out. And so forth. Essentially, while the previous two issues could be seen as different perspectives on the comics we saw at the time, this story takes place in another universe entirely, one in which all the stories about Katana were basically lies...or the Katana narrating this has convinced herself that everything about her past was a lie, even things shown as objectively happening. As such, while there's been some talk online about some of Katana's claims about characters like Deathstroke reflecting changes in DC editorial stance, she's such an unreliable narrator that I kinda doubt her statements represent the position of DC Comics (to the extent they even have a stance anymore). I'm not sure why Ridley went so far out of his way to contradict all of the more fantastic elements of her life, given that she still worked along side magicians and aliens and the like, it doesn't really seem necessary for the main emotional thrust of the story...unless he wanted her alienated not just from the world around her (the "outsider" theme is strong here) but even from her own life. As with the Black Lightning issue, the story basically ends in the mid-90s, although there are a few pages of montage covering the 25 years after that rather than stopping completely at that point. It's a decent story, but the repeated hammering of "Everything you know about me is a lie, a rumor, or a vast exaggeration," got annoying after a while. Mildly recommended. $6.99 Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? (And not all of them come out monthly, or on a regular schedule in general, so I can't just call this section "Monthlies" or even "Periodicals" as that implies a regular period.) Marvel Snapshots Captain Marvel: Marvel - Technically Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel. This is one of those stories that on a first read or at least quick skim seems decent, with a nonconformist girl getting some perspective on life from a pair of heroes who had their own problems with fitting in with parental expectations. But on closer examination, it feels...not quite right. Ms. Marvel's story is a bit tilted to fit the plot, although I guess it might be more in line with the recent writer's views than with Wilson's. And while Captain Marvel's background as presented is true to earlier stories, it also feels a little forced to fit the desired narrative. Maybe the almost-but-not-quite bits won't be a problem for others, it's a sort of storytelling uncanny valley that's not going to be universal. But it did kinda get me in the spirit of the staircase. Mildly recommended. $4.99 Maestro War and PAX #2-3 (of 5): Marvel - The Pantheon plans and carries out a mission to deal with Maestro before he can put his PAX plan into motion. As this is a prequel, we know they eventually fail, but PAD puts some decent twists into the path along the way. Mildly recommended. $3.99 each. The Trials of Ultraman #1 (of 5): Marvel - As with the first issue of the previous miniseries, this has a couple of Pigmon humor strips and a side story backup (which seems to be setting up a future Ultraman miniseries). The main plot picks up during the "new normal" in which Ultraman tracks down and destroys daikaiju that were released from the prison dimension. In between fights, Hayata once again has to defend his choices, and then comes out as Ultraman to his father (who is something of a jerk). So, a decent mix of the k-fighting action and character beats. Recommended. $4.99 U.S.Agent #3-4 (of 5): Marvel - #3 suffers from some serious art problems, in that two characters who are supposed to be recognizably the same guy...aren't. Like, at all. And the narration and dialogue appear to have depended on the artist carrying some of the storytelling load, I couldn't tell from anything in the issue that these two guys were indeed the same, and not two different guys working together. Or even that the first guy was actually supposed to be Battlestar. All kinda confusing. #4 gets significantly clearer, perhaps because by this point Priest was getting a better feel for the storytelling limitations of the artist and started compensating for it. Still a lot of moving parts that require more exposition than is comfortable to keep track of, though. Priest does a good job of threading the needle of Walker being a Guy Gardner style jerk while still having enough of a moral compass to be a hero. Mildly recommended. $3.99 each. The Wrong Earth: Night and Day #3 (of 6?): Ahoy Comics - In which the Prime Number One explains his master plan and the basic cosmology of the local multiverse (albeit through a biased lens, villains tend to be unreliable narrators). Of course, unsurprisingly, Dragonflyman-Alpha was running the old "get captured and learn their plans" gambit, and was prepared to break free at an opportune time. For the most part, this series has had Alpha outshining Omega pretty regularly, which made the emotional twist at the end of this issue all the more effective. Recommended. $3.99 Norse Mythology #5-6: Dark Horse Comics - #5 finishes off the tales of Loki's children with the tragic tale of the binding of Fenris, then starts off a tale finished in #6, in which Thor's hammer is stolen, Freya wants nothing to do with being married off to a Jotun (seriously, the choice of stories makes one wonder why Freya even stuck around these jerks), and Thor has to go in drag pretending to be Freya. Plus more magical genderbending from Loki, although this time Loki doesn't get pregnant. Both stories were part of my childhood reading thanks to the D'Aulaires, and these are good adaptations. Recommended. $3.99 each Vampirella #18: Dynamite - Vampi reconnects with some old acquaintances back on Drakulon, meets some (pun intended by me) new blood, and falls right into a tangled web of Drakulon politics and intrigue. The enormity of her self-appointed task really smacks her in the face hard...even with a year of subjective time to work with, she's probably not going to succeed unless it's a very pyrrhic and messy victory. Recommended. $3.99 Giga #3: Vault - The story is shaping up, but the transitions continue to be rough, jumping to a new location in ways that make it feel like a page or two was missing. At least the lone flashback sequence was clearly separated. Mildly recommended, it's an interesting premise but the level of storytelling craft is lacking. $3.99 Heroes of the Golden Age #5: Temporal Comics - This series abandoned claims of being public domain a few issues ago, and while the versions they cover may technically still be public domain, several of them got adapted later into trademarked versions (e.g. Quicksilver who became Max Mercury, or Ferret who was the Wolverine of the Protectors comics line). This batch is pretty heavy on "no powers, but trained in fighting" sorts. Not much in the way of "WTF?" characters this time, but a few cases of secret identities that have major problems with ethics (a police chief who moonlights as a vigilante, and a judge who does so as well). The entries are fairly terse, which in some cases is natural...one or two appearances and then nothing beyond that doesn't lend itself to wordy entries. Malgrain's Byrne-style art continues to do justice by the characters. Recommended. (no cover price, I got it as part of the Kickstarter, so paid rather more than the eventual print on demand price) My Little Pony #95: IDW - A largely silent issue, if not wordless (people write stuff down once it becomes clear there's no sound anymore), dealing with a sound-dampening threat. Pinkie and Cheese don't so much figure out the solution as stumble into it, but that's kinda on-brand for them anyway. Once the monster of the week is dealt with, the Actual Plot resumes as Pinkie tries to express her feelings for Cheese Sandwich...and there's some decent tension there, because even though the final episode of the cartoon showed them married with a child in the flashforwards, that doesn't mean that THIS TIME worked out. Kuusisto's art is serviceable and on-model, but I think a silent story like this really called for someone like Andy Price, who's really good at telling wordless stories in the backgrounds. Still, recommended. $3.99 Transformers #28: IDW - Ruckley's starting to bring some of his threads together after letting them dangle for a while. The Decepticons are trying to solidify their control, and having a lot of key victories in the process, but a lot of other things are slipping through Megatron's fingers whether he knows it or not. Cyclonus gets a fair amount of screen time, and Ruckley's version of him as tormented veteran is one of the better things about this book. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers Beast Wars #2: IDW - The art is continuing to not grow on me. At all. The story is okay, putting some focus on new character Nyx (I presume Skold will get some spotlight next issue or the issue after). Burnham is going all out with assuming the readers know the original story, bringing the Vok on-panel already. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "Mister -- they's COWS. They's not STUPID cows." - "Smokey," U.S.Agent #4 (of 5)