April 2, 2008

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.
Kinda quiet with everyone off at NARST.  Rants, Capsules can be found on my 
             homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 

First Look Comments:

     Books I read over the weekend as First Looks, but didn't buy, so can't
really say much in detail about.  DC has stopped having First Looks, so it's
just Marvel and Image...and there's word that Diamond doesn't want to bother
with the program at all anymore.

     Books for next week -

     Nova #12: Marvel - Big technarchy action, to be continued in
Annihilation Conquest.  So, yeah...there's some immediate payoff, but it's
just a step on the way to the crossover, etc.  And waht we do get is, pun
intended, a deus ex machina.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Amazing Spider-Man #556: Marvel - Eh.  There's a trick to mixing humor
and bloody murder, and Wells doesn't seem to have it.  The funny stuff is
good enough, but then clunks badly against the blood and death.  Mildly
recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn

     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): Iron Man movie

     Iron Man movie novelization: Del Rey/Ballantine Books - As often (but
not always) happens, Peter David was tapped to turn the latest Marvel movie
into a novel.  And as almost always happens, he does a great job of it, to
the point that one worries the movie won't be able to live up to it.  I had
some concern here, because PAD has never written Iron Man's own book before,
being limited to guest appearances and one-offs previously (in fact, a friend
pointed out that PAD rarely does the movie adaptations for properties he
hasn't written the comics for, at least when it comes to Marvel).  He's also
not really a MilSF writer, and this is a very military-flavored character,
especially in this origin story.  However, PAD does a good job of doing both
the tech and the MilSF flavoring, and he definitely grasps the essence of
Tony Stark's character.  To wit, he leads off the novel with that most
terrifying of phrases, "Anthony Stark is bored."  His (and Fergus & Ostby's)
Tony is driven by the need to never leave open spaces in his brain, to move
or die.  And while this re-re-revamped Iron Man origin acts as a proper
"coming of age" tale in which Stark acquires a deeper motivation, it's always
underlying his inability to let himself just be bored.  Now, there's a few
flaws here and there, of course.  The editing slips in places ("Shark"
instead of "Stark" once, and Rhodey's name placed on the wrong speaker in
another), and PAD's signature nod-and-wink stuff is present in several places
(which annoys some people).  But, all things considered, if the movie is even
half as good as this book, it'll be a very good movie.  Strongly
recommended.  $7.99/%10.99Cn ($5.97 at Wal-Mart)
     Iron Man Heart of Steel: Marvel - This is a Target-carried slightly
oversized collection of Marvel Adventures Iron Man #3-6, I grabbed it on a
whim on Tuesday.  As with other Marvel Adventures titles, each issue is a
self-contained story, and Van Lente does a pretty good job with them,
although the plots tend to wrap up a bit too "just so" for my liking.  The
strongest tale, though, is the last one...it may also turn around a bit too
quickly, but it hinges more on the dictates of a man's conscience than on any
scientific plot device, so it feels more natural.  Recommended.  $4.99
     Iron Man Movie Action Figures: Hasbro - As long as I'm on an Iron Man
roll, here's a few short comments on the toys I've picked up.  Iron Monger
with battle smash action is disappointing.  It's a good-looking mold, but as
often happens with action gimmick figures, the gimmick introduces numerous
flaws into the toy.  The arm joints are deliberately loose to let them thrash
around (which they don't do very convincingly), the right hip is totally
frozen and the range of motion in the left hip isn't very useful.  I'd
recommend waiting for the second wave version that opens up to show Stane
inside.  Iron Man Mk01 is pretty nifty.  Sure, the articulation is minimal,
but that's movie-accurate.  It has a nicely ad hoc look to it, obviously made
from spare parts and minimal resources.  My only quibble is that the
placement of the firing flamethrower missile launcher is weird...giving that
wrist a little range of motion would have helped a lot, but I'll probably end
up cutting the launcher away anyway (it's one of those "pull back the end and
let go" spring launchers).  Both this and the Iron Monger are shortpacked,
but it's worth digging around for this one.  Finally, I snagged the Wal-Mart
exclusive "stealth suit".  This is the Mk03 mold done in black and silver,
with flip-up racks added to the shoulders to accomodate a missile pod and a
vulcan machine cannon.  Yeah, it's War Machine, but they don't call it that
(although in the novel PAD has Rhodey referred to as part of the war
machine).  Good mold, although the shoulder armor pieces tend to pop off.
Once a Wal-Mart gets any of these, they get a couple dozen, so it shouldn't
be too hard to find, but unless you're a completist I wouldn't recommend
getting more than one of this general mold (the Mk02 is very similar in mold
as well, and Target has a store-exclusive red and silver repaint).  There's
really only one other toy from this line (other than the better Iron Monger)
I want, and it's another non-movie character (probably appearing in the
inevitable video game tie-in, for which there are ads in this week's comics),
Titanium Man.  All of these are at the $10 price point.
     Amazing Spider-Man #555: Marvel - Zeb Wells starts his stint with a snow
storm.  And Mesoamerican pseudoninjas, always fun times with those.  :) Wells
has a good ear for banter both in civvies and in costume.  Bachalo's art gets
a little weird in places, but is otherwise good.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Young Avengers Presents #3 (of 6): Marvel - Wiccan and Speed, with a
leavening of Hulkling.  Speed apparently overestimates his uncle, claiming to
be "Quicksilver fast" while being able to circumnavigate the globe in
seconds.  We're talking Flash-level speed, the kind that Marvel speedsters
rarely exhibit (being generally limited to subsonic velocities).  The pair
basically take an afternoon off to look for Wanda, and obviously don't find
here since that would require a fifty part mega-crossover to showcase.  But,
as with the previous issues in this series, while they may not find what
they're looking for, they might just find what they need.  Urusov's art
varies between fugly and passable, and the story kinda meanders.  Mildly
recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     The Twelve #4 (of 12): Marvel - Laughing Mask gets the main action
scene, Rockman the origin flashback (and with Abyssia being listed in the
Marvel Atlas, the odds of him being delusional just dropped), Blue Blade gets
to demonstrate why his death will be cheered by readers, and Black Widow gets
to be creeeeepy.  It's somewhat slow-moving and aimless, but this seems to be
an intentional mood-setting thing on JMS's part, to get across how these
time-tossed heroes feel adrift.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Project Superpowers #2: Dynamite Entertainment - The cover this time has
"The Death-Defying 'Devil" (aka Nedor's Daredevil, the apostrophe being a
particularly clunky way of implying that he's still really called Daredevil,
even if Marvel owns the trademark now) and The Flame (who until now I've only
seen in Rovin's Encyclopedia).  Neither really has anything to do with the
main plot yet, though.  In your basic "split the team" cliche, when the Urn
returned all the lost heroes to the land of the living, it dumped 'em out in
random places around the globe, so we get a bunch of scenes as they show up.
Some of them may have been around and not in the urn, though, it's not really
clear.  In fact, "not really clear" continues to be a problem with this
series (I hesitate to give it the name "story" at this point), which more
than usual for Ross and Krueger seems just an excuse to draw the characters
fighting...and Ross isn't even doing the interiors.  Oh, it tries to ram
through the Fighting Yank's angsty storyline, but after only three issues
(including the #0) of that, it's already wearing thin.  Also, this is clearly
a case of writing for the trade, with little thought given to making
satisfying reads of the individual issues.  Mildly recommended, and that
mostly for a few good panels.  $2.99
     Action Comics #863: DC - The Legion arc wraps up, essentially a
denounment with fisticuffs.  Lots of nice pinups and warm fuzzy fannish
iconography, but two big things separate this from Project Superpowers.  One,
I suspect more people know who these people are and care about them.  Two, as
thin as the storyline may be, it's been held solidly on track and been
readable issue by issue, rather than being written for the trade.
Recommended.  $2.99US/Cn
     PS238 #30: Do Gooder Press - The Vegas arc wraps up, as often happens in
this title, with people acting like adults rather than just beating on each
other.  Some beating does go on, of course.  And some have perfectly valid
excuses for not behaving like adults.  While the story focus does bounce
around a bit, it does mostly orbit around 84's personal growth...a sort of
bildungsroman, or at least an important step along that path.  Backups
include the usual Full Frontal Nerdity, plus samples fom Aaron Williams's
newest webcomic, Backwards Compatible.  BC doesn't do a lot to distinguish it
from any other PVP Online clone, though.  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: Amelia Rules #20


"War And Pizza" Award to Iron Man movie novelization

"Briar Patch, Magnetosphere, Whatever" Award to Iron Man Heart of Steel

"What Am I Gonna Do With All These Translucent Drumsticks?" Award to the
     Iron Man movie action figures

"Mother Maya I?" Award to Amazing Spider-Man #555

"Not So Much The Last Person You Wanted To See, As It Is The Third Person"
     Award to Young Avengers Presents #3 (of 6)

"But Is She A Perky Goth?" Award to The Twelve #4 (of 12)

"Is That A Costume, Or Bodypaint?" Award to Project Superpowers #2

"His Real Power Is Super-Libido" Award to Action Comics #863

"He Should eBay 'Em" Award to PS238 #30

     Dave Van Domelen, "Do you have any toys that contain anything REMOTELY
RADIOACTIVE?"  "We did, but there was a recall." - Zodon and a retail peon,
PS238 #30
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