Standard Disclaimers: Please set appropriate followups. Recommendation does not factor in price. Not all books will have arrived in your area this week. Spring is here, and with it giant monsters. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants "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. School House Rock! Earth: Disney DVD - Okay, not a comic, or a comic tie-in. But I figured a decent chunk of my audience might be curious about this, so here goes. This is a collection of new SHR installments with an ecological theme, done by the original crew (Yohe, Dorough, etc). It's about as preachy as I expected, which is to say, VERY PREACHY. They include a remastered version of Energy Blues on the disc, which I think was a mistake, given that every other piece on this disc compares unfavorably to it. Not as catchy, a lot more message-uber-alles, in every case. The one song that seemed to be backing off the anviliciousness (Windy and the Windmills) ended up dropping the anvil on viewers repeatedly after the halfway point. A lot of the songs recycle characters from older SHR pieces (Mr. Morton and his family learn about reducing energy use, Interplanet Janet preaches about solar power, the Energy Blues globe appears a lot, etc), although there are a few new characters. SOme tweeniebopper singer I've never heard of (Mitchel Musso) does a reduce/reuse/recycle revision on "3 Is A Magic Number" in a live video at the end, which is okay. There were a few attempts to work rap into the songs, but none of them worked well, IMO. Generally they stuck with the same blend of styles seen in the original SHR (i.e. not a lot of actual "rock" per se). All in all, about 45 minutes of material, and really not worth it even for what I paid, which was less than a lot of places seemed to be charging. Give this one a pass unless you have a high tolerance for sledgehammered environmental messages and really want some new SHR. $14.99 at Best Buy. Not sure if I'll keep it for completism or give it to someone else, but throwing it away would probably be counter to the message. :) 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 section. Books of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): None. Ninja High School #168: Antarctic Press - And now, the secret origins of Yuudai (which translates roughly as Big Damn Hero) as discovered by a much-matured Tetsuo Rivalsan. It might have worked better as a backup story, or split up and done as a meanwhile in the main action (i.e. revealing the role of the Red Ninja at the same time as Anna's own history with the group was being revealed would have been more powerful, I think), as it simply grinds things to a halt for an issue the way it is. It's a decent story, but not really enough to carry the entire issue. Mildly recommended. $2.99/$4.05Cn Jersey Gods #3: Image - Yeah, still haven't seen #1-2, and it's looking unlikely I ever will if I wait for Diamond to cough 'em up. I was attracted to this series by the preview piece that juxtaposed Kirbian New Gods pastiche with the mundanity of suburban life, but Brunswick made a mistake, IMO, in separating those elements at some point in the first two issues. The A-story is a pretty bog-standard New Gods story of ancient feuds, betrayal and implausible weaponry with only a few hints of snark. The B-story could be just about any modern city girl romance (with hints of Kirby romance homage to it), and there's almost no connection. Eh. Mildly recommended. $3.50 Farscape #4 (of 4): BOOM! Studios - And so Rygel's story gets a resolution, but there's plenty of mysteries left over to feed the upcoming miniseries. No outstanding great moments, but a lot of good ones. Recommended. $3.99 Justice Society of America #25: DC - You know, when Giffen et al had a dominatrix Mary Marvel in one of the Justice Buddies books, it was meant to be humorous exaggeration, not a preview of things to come. At least that particular abomination gets wrapped up here, although the "resolution" is essentially undone by the last page, because NOTHING CAN EVER END. Or even pause. Sigh. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Official Index to the Marvel Universe #4: Marvel - Amazing Spider-Man #147-197, finishing the Len Wein run and starting the Marv Wolfman one running up to October 1979; Iron Man #66-116 under various writers up through November 1978 (nostalgia note: Iron Man #98, brought home by my dad, was my first exposure to the character, and triggered a long-running affection for the Guardsman armor); X-Men #151-192 through April 1985 (the bunch of reprints in the 70s got this book ahead of the others). Assorted annuals and specials also included. Recommended. $3.99 Avengers/Invaders #9 (of 12): Marvel/Dynamite - And the third act kicks off after some delays. And wow, is the opening scene an anticlimax, it's like Ross knew he wanted the Red Skull to have the Cosmic Cube, but couldn't really think of a good way for him to get it, so just said to heck with it and took the easy way out. There's some cute use of obscure WWII Marvel- owned heroes, some of whom are in The Twelve now, but all in all a fairly disappointing issue. Mildly recommended. $2.99 The Invincible Iron Man #12: Marvel - Dark Reign banner. Tony is whiny. Against Namor he shouldn't be worried about being stuck using last year's armor, he faced the guy in the MkI! Meanwhile, Pepper gets to strut her stuff once before being jobbed, and Maria gets jobbed right out of the gate. Weak. $2.99 Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil #3: Marvel - Hm. A lack of competent comic relief hurts this issue (the Melter doesn't really do the job). It's all Serious Doom Plot Advancement, and not as good as the build-up was. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular #1 (of 2): Marvel - Back in the mid-80s, Marvel did something called Assistant Editors' Month, in which all (or at least most) of the titles were given over to the assistant editors, who did oddball yet still (more or less) in-continuity stuff with them while the editors were supposedly out of town. This microseries takes that idea but instead has assistant editors each pitching a title, three of which get their opening bits in this issue (along with a framing sequence), the other three next issue. This issue we get Dennis Dunphy in Iraq (with indy-cred style art from Xurxo Penalta and writing by Brian Patchett), American Eagle as law on the rez (Jason Aaron writing, Richard Isanove with semi-realist art), and Giarrusso doing a Mini Marvels story in which Hawkeye gets no respect. I suppose the Mini-Marvels was put in so there'd be some "name" work in the mix. The D-Man story was okay, American Eagle had its moment, and the Mini Marvels story was kinda disappointing. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #590: Marvel - Slott and Kitson this issue. And the cracks in Brand New Day start to show, woo. Of course, it takes teaming up with the Fantastic Four to elevate things to the cosmic level where this sort of thing could happen, since presumably the massive plot device normally prevents people from questioning things too much. Oh, and a good FF-type exploration story to boot. Recommended. $2.99 Essential Power Man/Iron Fist v2: Marvel - Reprints #76-100 of the series, plus a Daredevil crossover issue. Mostly Mary Jo Duffy and a new-to-the-field Kurt Busiek on writing, with Denys Cowan drawing much of it. The Duffy issues are aggressively written to the "every issue is someone's first" dictum, so I'd recommend not reading too many in one sitting, or you'll start dreading the next time "trained for ten years in the hidden city of K'un L'un" or "300 pounds of steel-hard skin and muscle" gets cited. :) As with all Essentials, it's just the inked art with no color, which can cause problems sometimes (i.e. Warhawk's blue skin, for instance), but the over-written style of the day blunts the effect. Recommended. $19.99 (although I had to get it from deepdiscount.com, where it was $15.99 with free shipping). 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 4/2/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #1-4, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen: Alliance #2, Jersey Gods #1-2, Booster Gold #17, Gen13 v4 #27, Dynamo5 #20, Cthulhu Tales #12, Gold Digger Maidens of Twilight #2, Transformers Spotlight Jazz, New Mutants Saga Awards: "An Inconvenient Music Video" Award to Schoolhouse Rock! Earth "Yuudai Man Now Dawg" Award to Ninja High School #168 "She's Been Waiting Millennia For Him To Grab Her Staff" Award to Jersey Gods #3 "But In The Morning I Shall Be Sober" Award to Farscape #4 (of 4) "He Must Have Been Reading DC's Books, No Wonder He's So Cranky" Award to Justice Society of America #25 "Killed By A Toy Tie-In, How Embarrassing" Award to Official Index to the Marvel Universe #4 "Um, If All Of This Gets Undone And It's An Alternate Timeline, WHO CARES IF THEY SEE YOUR IDENTITES?" Award to Avengers/Invaders #9 (of 12) "Between Their Secret Labs And Warehouses, Stark And Osborn Already OWN The World" Award to The Invincible Iron Man #12 "Derek Radner Would Approve" Award to Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil (alternate for those who have no idea what I'm talking about: "The Mighty Quinn" Award) "Yeah, Osborn's Not Gonna Like THAT" Award to Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular #1 (of 2) "Mephisto's Gonna Be SOOOO Embarassed By Who Broke His Spell" Award to Amazing Spider-Man #590 "Three Hundred Pounds Of Steel-Hard Exposition" Award to Essential Power Man/Iron Fist vol 2 Dave Van Domelen, "Whoa! WHOA! W H O A ! I CAN SEE MY HOUSE FROM HERE! AND YESTERDAY'S LUNCH. C-CAN DEFINITELY SEE YESTERDAY'S LUNCH.... Stomach contents departing in 3...2..." - Spider-Man on the Infini-Bus, Amazing Spider-Man #590
"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. DC Universe Classics Blue Beetle: Mattel - This wasn't late due to Diamond or anything, I just happened to get it in the mail on Thursday. Why did I get it in the mail? Because the seven figures in this assortment are shipping in half-cases...a friend in Montana only got the shipment that includes Ted, Booster Gold (scalpers beat him to it) and blue-suit Aquaman, while locally I've only seen the one that has Flash, Kid Flash, Captain Cold and Big Barda. I only want Ted and Booster, he wanted the Flashes and Len, so we did a trade. :) This is a Build A Figure (BAF) series like all the bigger DC Universe figures, with pieces of Atom Smasher (from current JSA) included. Barry gets the figure base, whee. Ted gets Atom Smasher's right leg...I have more BAF legs than any other piece, I think. Aside from the result of AS losing a fight with Damage, Blue Beetle comes with one accessory, his BB Gun. It fits nicely into a snap-closed holster attached to his belt, and he has enough range of motion to rest his hand on the grip while it's in the holster. Ted is 6.25" (16cm) tall, and Atom Smasher is likely about 9-10" (23-25cm) tall to judge from the leg size. The paint job and sculpt are very good, with clear yellow goggles glued onto the mask over well-painted eyes. The only marring on mine is a sprue mark on the top of the abdomen piece that is visible when the figure leans back all the way. Articulation is very good. Universal joint neck and shoulders, with vest-style torso borders that allow the hands to touch in front when the arms are straight (although the hands aren't molded to allow a two-handed grip on his BB Gun). Hinged elbows, swivels at upper arms and wrists. The hands are molded into open fists, and hold the BB Gun a bit loosely. There's a forward-and-back hinge between chest and abdomen and a swivel waist. The hips are a combination of the traditional "H-style" swivels and hinges that swing outwards, although using these hinges results in some weird-looking gaps in the legs. They do let him do the Van Damme Splits, though. There's swivels above the knees, but the muscle sculpt gets all misaligned if you use them (unlike the upper arm swivels, which take advantage of how the shoulder muscles wrap into the biceps and triceps). Hinge knees and ankles, and the pegs on the soles of the feet are about 1/8" diameter. Other than the head and the glued-on belt, all the costume details are printed on a generic mannequin, which is probably reused heavily throughout the line, but I don't own any others to compare. There's a rectangular panel on the back which looks like it's meant to accept a backpack or cape peg when the mold is repurposed for other figures. Atom Smasher's leg clearly fed the same sculpt into the computer and scaled it up to 150%, then added boot detail molding. It has the same articulation, the same muscles, etc. It has a hexagonal peg for attaching to the torso piece, though. Compared to the $5 scale figures, it's definitely superior, not just a scaled up version of those molds. Of course, at more than twice the price, it had better be! Recommended. $11.88 at Wal-Mart. 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 section. Books of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): None. Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Alliance #4 (of 4): IDW - Well, it IS a prequel. For the most part, the story arc of this series was resolved last issue, with a short fight scene starting this issue to make sure that the non-movie characters introduced in the series don't make it TO the next movie, and then it's montage time. They establish the forces that will be available in the opening fight of the next movie and close on shots of the enemy in that fight. Competent, but doesn't really exceed expectations. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Wolverine First Class #13: Marvel - Peter David starts his run here. It actually came out two weeks ago, but I forgot to look for it so it may have shipped and escaped my notice when I do my "is there anything else interesting?" scan of the rack. Or maybe Diamond shorted us. Anyway, this doesn't really follow from #12, jumping into a new story and dropping in a supporting character who has probably been in the book before, but not in #12 (and other than her first name, she doesn't get introduced). The art by Cliquet has some problems, such as whether or not one of the villains is human sized or a giant, and the choice by Arreola to make Matt Murdock's sunglasses lenses red muddied the waters of his introduction...oh, I suppose he actually had red lenses around that time, but in a book where Cyclops was in the previous issue, red glasses mean something else. The story's okay, but not as good as Van Lente's piece last issue. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Agents of Atlas #3: Marvel - Dark Reign banner. Diamond did ship this one, just not as many as the store ordered, and the store filled pulls in alphabatical order this week. Fortunately, Hastings had one copy left when I checked today. The dual-timeline stories continue with no real signs of dovetailing, and there's an interlude for Namora to deal with some of her angst. The cover's kinda spoilery, though, giving away the Final Page Reveal, oops. Recommended. $2.99 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 4/2/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #1-4, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen: Alliance #2, Jersey Gods #1-2, Booster Gold #17, Gen13 v4 #27, Dynamo5 #20, Cthulhu Tales #12, Gold Digger Maidens of Twilight #2, Transformers Spotlight Jazz, New Mutants Saga Awards: "Now My Brave And The Bold Blue Beetle Can Feel Even MORE Inferior!" Award to DC Universe Classic Blue Beetle "They Need A Red Flashy Thing" Award to Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Alliance #4 (of 4) "Kitty Has A Bad History With Masks Like That. Or Future. Whatever." Award to Wolverine First Class #13 "Nah, He Can Go Soak" Award to Agents of Atlas #3 Dave Van Domelen, "Maybe Bob can send a probe in and test for -- or, we can charge on through like a robot." - Gorilla Man, observing the Human Robot's actions.Back to the Main Rants Page.
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