April 16, 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.
Happy 34th B-Day sis, and 62nd B-Day Dad!  Rants, Capsules can be found on my 
             homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 

     Irrelevant aside: I don't care what the pop-up says, there's no way
"Secret of the Omnitrix" comes after episode 52.  Lame attempt at a retcon to
wedge "Race Against Time" into a continuity where it clearly doesn't belong.

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 -

     Thor #8: Marvel - Lots of relationship stuff, both metaphorical and
literal (and not all of the combat happens in the metaphorical side).
Definitely a philosophy-dump issue, but a good one.  Recommended.

     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): Incredible
Hercules #116

     Prince of Heroes v1 #3 (of 3): Antarctic Press - Well, the first chapter
is over, and I feel like I've read about eight pages of story across the
three issues.  It looks lovely, and the worldbuilding might be impressive if
I could tell where the story was supposed to be set (I *think* that the first
scene of #1 and the entirety of #3 form a wrapper around a flashback, but the
total lack of narration boxes or clear in-story cues makes it hard to say if
we're looking at the same evacuation in #1 and #3, or two successive ones
without going back over both issues with a fine-toothed comb).  But the
aggressively cinematic and decompressed style leaves me unsatisfied.  Like he
should've waited and put this out as a series of three graphic novels instead
of 18 issues split into six chapters.  What makes it all the more
disappointing is that Espinosa's last big-arc effort (Neotopia) was so much
better paced, with each issue being a lot more substantial and the
worldbuilding and scene-setting so much clearer.  I think Espinosa may be
blinded by the knowledge of what's coming eventually, and not seeing how
little is *here now*.  Neutral.  $3.50/$3.50Cn
     Cthulhu Tales #1: Boom! Entertainment - Boom! has decided that the first
two anthology pieces did well enough to make the idea a continuing series.
This issue contains three short pieces, two serious and one slightly lighter
in tone.  The first is of the "revelation of horror" style of Mythos story,
written capably by Steve Niles.  Michael Alan Nelson's story plays with the
border between terror and horror, where a situation that would already
require SAN checks taking a left turn into the supernatural, and was probably
the strongest of the three.  Finally, Tom Peyer does a sports-related
vignette that I think stretches a little too far to get to its gag.  I like
this anthology style a lot better for Mythos than the long-form storytelling
of Fall of Cthulhu.  Recommended.  $3.99 (I got cover B, more vivid.)
     Badger Saves the World #5 (of 5): IDW - The story sort of meanders
around, tosses off a few weak pieces of social satire, and then falls
asleep.  Don't bother with this one.  $3.99
     Doctor Who #3: IDW - Uncredited Nick Roche cover.  The internal art is
by Stefano Martino, and it's a bit scratchy and indistinct, suggesting it
might have been done in a hurry to make deadline.  A few pages are dedicated
to the over-plot of "everyone vanishes save one", but mostly the story
focuses on the homeworld of the cat people from the New Earth episodes, and
their connection to the cat god seen previously.  Takes a while to gel, but
once it does come together it's pretty good.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
     Salvation Run #6 (of 7): DC - Vandal plays with his ladies, Luthor and
Joker fight again (and again it's not really conclusive), and then once
enough padding has been inserted into the story, the forces of the real
villain show up.  On its own, some decent bits, but it's largely repeats of
what we've already seen in the first five issues.  Neutral.  $2.99US/Cn
     Superman #675: DC - Extra-sized issue as Busiek wraps up his run, with
Daxamite priests and the Galactic Golem (who I'll admit is a bit more
impressive than the original version).  I like Paragon, though, he's a
self-absorbed jerk and knows it...this is harder to pull off well than you'd
think, and Busiek manages it.  Recommended.  $3.99US/Cn
     The Brave and the Bold #12: DC - Normal-sized issue.  :)  The Megistus
arc comes to a close with all the plot devices in play and what amounts to an
issue-long fight scene.  The ending is a touch cheesy, but it's a good kind
of cheesy, and Waid gives props to a heretofore hanger-on sort of character.
Recommended.  $2.99US/Cn
     Captain Marvel #5 (of 5): Marvel - Well, five issues' worth of beating
around the bush, all to retcon away a retcon made only a few years ago,
whee.  Mind you, in theory this could lead to some good stories, certainly
better than what could have been done with Captain Marvel for too much longer
(once they exhausted the obvious bits), but the execution was pretty weak,
and I have no faith at all in Marvel editorial to approve any such good
stories.  Neutral.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Amazing Spider-Man #557: Marvel - The end of Wells's first month.  Some
cute bits where godlike power is presented via violation of panel boundaries
(although it's been done before...heck, I did it myself in a piece too big
for the scanner back in grad school), and nice payoff with one of the
supporting players.  But it was a little too dark, and a little too cosmic,
for the "classic" Spider-Man they seem to be trying to recapture in Brand New
Day.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Marvel Illustrated the Iliad #5 (of 8): Marvel - You know, I can
definitely see why most adaptations of the Iliad are seriously trimmed down.
Issue after issue of mortals being little more than pawns for the gods gets
tiresome after a while.  The gods are too capricious and unknowable to care
about, and the mortals too much their playthings to get invested in.
Neutral.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     X-Factor #30: Marvel - It's kinda unclear what's going on at first,
although some of that is mood-setting, some of it is probably unintentional
obfuscation.  Very much a middle part of the story with lots of hitting but
very little setup or payoff.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Marvel Adventures Avengers #23: Marvel - Sumerak on writing.  Sometimes
the mining of old Marvel continuity leads to the sort of excessive coyness I
try to avoid in my own writing...to anyone who knows Marvel history, the
villain of this piece is pretty obvious well before the Big Reveal, while to
the target younger audience there's no mystery to be preserved, since they
don't know who the villain is in the first place.  As an aside, I'm pretty
sure the final page involved some cameos by Marvel employees.  Mildly
recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Avengers the Initiative #11: Marvel - Big ol' climactic battle against
KIA (and Slapstick does make the inevitable car joke), plenty of guest stars,
a bit of a revelation about War Machine, and a bit of very dark
foreshadowing.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn 
     Incredible Hercules #116: Marvel - It seems they stopped for beer
between last issue and this.  Just a hunch.  Meanwhile, Athena has some
wisdom for Amadeus Cho, but he's still enough of a kid to probably not take
it to heart.  The main action is a fairly classic "misunderstanding battle",
but Pak and Van Lente effectively make use of various existing plotlines and
continuity to get it to work, even weaving foreshadowing that seems to point
at one crossover so that it might just point at an entirely different one,
whee!  Plus, Thena/Athena fight?  Dude.  Strongly recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn

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 4/16: Amelia Rules #20.


"LOLyenas" Award to The Prince of Heroes v1 #3 (of 3)

"Go 'Pods!" Award to Cthulhu Tales #1

"The Black And Blue Carpet" Award to Badger Saves the World #5 (of 5)

"No Heavy-Handed Environmental Message To See Here, Please Move Along" Award
     to Doctor Who #3

"They Should Get A Room Already" Award to Salvation Run #6 (of 7)

"It All Depends On How You Deliver The Lead Poisoning" Award to Superman

"Fear My Mustache!" Award to The Brave and the Bold #12

"Suspense?  What Suspense?" Award to Captain Marvel #5 (of 5)

"Bearding The Foul Beast In Its Lair" Award to Amazing Spider-Man #557

"Now Men Know Who To Blame" Award to Marvel Illustrated the Iliad #5 (of 8)

"A Hair-Raising Experience" Award to X-Factor #30

"At Least No One Got Slabbed" Award to Marvel Adventures Avengers #23

"You Take My Breath Away" Award to Avengers the Initiative #11

"Amadeus Tell Overture" Award to The Incredible Hercules #116

     Dave Van Domelen, "Morons.  In their natural habitat." - Athena, several
times, Hercules #116
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