April 6, 2022

Dave's Late Comics Catch-Up Special from March 2022:

Books Diamond decided to not ship to my store at all that month but I found them at a different store in early April. So, due to Diamond wanting nothing to do with single-store proprietorships unwilling to order fifty different variant covers at a time, the change in ownership of my regular comic shop resulted in some ordering issues. As in, the new owner wasn't allowed to make any backorders, and then in March the old owner's orders were just cancelled outright. LCS was just as bad if not worse, cutting things off immediately. Fortunately, another store in town (which does get a gazillion variant covers a month) just barely had everything I was missing still in stock, so here's my catch-up. All floppies, since I tend to get other stuff via other sources (like all those Kickstarter collections in the regular March column). Monkey Prince #1-2: DC -The character first showed up in the DC Special focusing on Asian characters and creators, but this steps back to set up the origin story. Basically, this kid's real father is Sun Wukong, the stone monkey, Great Sage Under Heaven. The fact he was even conceived indicates a high level of magical shenanigans, but this is Sun Wukong we're talking about. But his monkey heritage is starting to leak out through a big pile of Batman-related trauma (unbeknownst to him, his mother and the man he thinks is his father are rather unscrupulous scientists who regularly work for supervillains...the comic's been out for over two months at this point, I think I can get away with revealing that bit of business that's made clear very early on in #1). So...the kid's caught between two worlds in more than one way, made worse by his trauma-response behaviors and the fact his parents keep moving around the country for work so he's always the outsider. Nor does it help even a little that Damian Wayne goes to his high school. So far, this is a very aggressive "refuse the call" story, as Marcus only wants to live a normal life and avoid his plentiful trauma triggers...if it continues in that vein too much longer it will get tiresome. Expecting him to embrace his heritage is a bit much, but grudging acquiescence at least would be a good direction (and it seems to be going vaguely in that direction by the end of #2). Mildly recommended, feels like it might read better as a trade paperback. Even two issues at once felt a bit slow. $3.99 each. Vampirella Dracula Unholy #4: Dynamite - Okay, I'll admit that I'm not really sure what was going on here, there's still a lot of seemingly hallucinogenic stuff going on, but apparently it's all in-story real. Some good stuff with the mothers, though. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Draculina #2: Dynamite - One bad caption can really throw off the reader when there's multiple layers of flashback. In this case, "At That Moment" might have worked better if it was on the page opposite the previous caption, instead of another page later, so I got it mixed up with "right now". There's a LOT of time and space shifting, though. Now, last week in wherever Draculina goes when she's not out in "realspace", two other last week scenes in different parts of San Francisco, flashback to Draculina's birth, and several months ago just before Sacred Six got rolling in Georgia. Sometimes the scene flickers to a different time and place more than once in a page, and while "square borders for now, rounded for flashback" is usually helpful, there's a LOT of different flashbacks going on here, to the point where you almost need a khyron crawl in every panel to give it a date and place. Yeah, Priest often offers up a challenging read, but I think this one got away from him a bit. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Arrowsmith Behind Enemy Lines #3: Image - Mature content warning (sex and violence). Fletcher and his contact manage to escape at terrible cost, take a shortcut through the edge of Fae almost at terrible cost, and then hole up briefly with the local resistance (okay, that one isn't so terrible or costly...yet). Apparently shaved armpits caught on earlier in this universe? Yes, it's a little nitpick, but Villarrubia otherwise does a good job of evoking a "WWI yet sort of not" society, so the places where modern sensibilities creep in tend to stand out. Plot-wise, it's similar to Astro City in that we're getting a lot of montages of the big stuff, and then stop and spend a lot of pages on small moments. I think that works better when the audience can fill in more of the details of the big stuff from genre tropes (e.g. show enough of the First Family to establish them as Fantastic Four analogues, and the reader can fill in the blanks pretty well). This setting may rely on a lot of well-worn tropes as well, but from different genres than most comics buyers are going to be into. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Astro City: That Was Then: Image -This is about the original Teen Titans, and the end of the age of innocent teen heroes in the Silver Age. Sure, the Jayhawks aren't really one for one versions of the original Titans unless you go fairly broad (a girl with a mythic/magical origin, an unpowered brawler, a water-based hero, a weapon schtick guy, and a fast guy...although Rally is a roller skater gadget type, not a Flash type). The story focuses on a random cluster of other teen heroes who got together after the funeral for the Jayhawks and decided to take a road trip to get their heads together and process what this all means. They're not a team, but they did know each other at least somewhat beforehand, and we get the usual Astro City style montage of the adventures they had on the way to where the main non-action happens. Anyway, to ease back into the new era of Astro City (they still plan to do a series of GNs rather than floppies), it's the story of the turning of an age. The old days are on their way out, but no one's quite sure what shape the new days will take...apropos. Anderson and Sinclair get pretty experimental at times (at first look, for instance, the first page looks like it has water damage or a printing error...until you notice that the gutters are totally clean), giving me the feeling that this book was also meant as a place to try out some visual tricks for later. Recommended. $3.99 Norse Mythology III #2 (of 6): Dark Horse -The story of Hymir was almost done at the end of #1, and they don't try to pad it out here, it comes to an end pretty quickly to make room for the next story: the death of Balder. Colleen Doran draws this one, and it's hard to think of someone better suited to depicting Aesir prettyboy Balder than her. Mythology is full of "character tries to rescue a beloved dead person from the halls of the dead, only to fail for socially instructive reasons," stories, but as we'll see next issue, Balder's case doesn't quite go there. It's no fault of Frigga's or of Hermod's that dooms Balder. No tragic flaw in an otherwise good person. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers Beast Wars #14: IDW - "Oh, he's been infected with a rage thing, let him go, he should be fine." Basically, the entire plot of this issue hinges on multiple characters behaving very stupidly. Mild recommendation to avoid. $3.99 Transformers: War's End #2 (of 4): IDW - This issue overlaps with Transformers #41 in such a way that there's really no correct order to read them in. Transformers #41 seems to be mostly chronologically first, since the main overlapping scene occurs later in that issue than in this issue. It ends up feeling a bit muddled, though, as if some of the events take place in different orders in the two titles. Anyway, a LOT of characters complain about the plot, or at least their role in helping Exarchon, and there's some side-switching or stepping-aside, but not enough to prevent random fight scenes. Jumpstream angsts about predestination paradoxes and ends up creating one anyway, ah well. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers #41: IDW - Extended anticlimax to start the issue, and then Buckley finally remembers that the Insecticon clones (who are apparently very small now) have been menacing the refugee caravan since the end of Escape, however the heck that fits into the timeline. Y'know, if they want to split stories up across multiple books with uncertain overlap of production schedules, they really should've committed to a datestamp system to blunt the effect of "Hey, Road Rage has been swatting bugs for a few months now in the background, is she dead yet?" issues. If the story were compelling and vibrant enough, I could put up with the dislocation, but it feels more like running through a checklist to try to get all the plot points in place before the license expires. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "Well, I've thought about it, MR. ZHU, and I've decided that I LIKE my fear! It keeps me out of situations where I might get my head CHOPPED OFF!" - Marcus, Monkey Prince #2
Back to the Main Rants Page.

Back to the 2022 Rants Archive.