April 22, 2009

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.
Diamond finally coughed some stuff up.  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.

     Justice League Unlimited Booster Gold: Mattel - While JLU is long over,
the simplicity of the molds has kept Mattel making the line alongside the new
4" scale toys, and the last few waves have been labeled "Fan Collection".  In
theory, that means that these figures are being made to meet fan demand for
figures that either got underproduced or were not made previously.  Of
course, there has to be something that'll sell to the non-collectors, so some
overproduced figures go back in anyway.  This wave seems to have John Stewart
and Dr. Fate as the not-so-favorites, plus Superwoman (Earth-3 Lois Lane),
Parasite (mainly seen as part of sets) and Booster Gold (who was pretty much
an eBay exclusive when it first came out).  No Batman or Superman, which is
odd for a JLU wave.  :)
     Booster uses the standard medium-build male body with absolutely no
molded details, not even on his wristbands.  The only unique elements are the
head and the add-on collar.  The torso is made of rigid yellow plastic, the
limbs are soft yellow plastic (not quite the same shade) and the head is soft
light fleshtone plastic.  The main paint is dark blue, with yellow on the
goggles and hair.  Booster can actually stand without support, which isn't
exactly the default for JLU figures.  He has a right hand that can grip
things and a left hand fist.
     Skeets, the Billy West-voiced version, is the lone accessory.  Made of
rubbery yellow plastic with red, white and black paint on the optic region,
it has no means of attachment to anything.  You can jam one of his fins into
Booster's right hand, but it doesn't really look good.  Similarly, you can
sorta sit him on Booster's shoulder by jamming a fin under Booster's collar,
but the angle is wrong.
     In short, this is really only for the dedicated Booster Gold fans.
Sadly, there's no Ted Kord Blue Beetle planned for the line to go along with
him, and if the Brave and the Bold line gets a Ted figure it'd be the wrong
size.  $4.99 at Target.

     Wolverine and the X-Men Heroes Return Trilogy: Marvel Animated - The
title is a bit misleading, especially with the live action movie trilogy set
being released the same week.  It's three episodes of the new cartoon, not a
trilogy of movies.  Essentially it's the same "release the season in chunks
first, then much later release a season set, maybe" strategy that Spectacular
Spider-Man has been engaging in.  But since I don't get Canadian TV or
Nicktoons and generally wasn't interested in messing with downloads (even
with a bigger monitor, I dislike splitting my screen between media and other
windows, just a personal preference), I decided to pick this up to see if it
was worth further effort.
     Premise in a nutshell in case you're one of the handful of people who
don't already know: Professor X and Jean Gray got taken out of the picture,
Cyclops had his angst level cranked up to 22 (cranked up to 11 is his natural
state) and now it's up to Wolverine to lead the X-Men if there's any hope of
getting anything done.  Oh, and Mutant Registration Act Booga Booga.  They're
shooting for an animated style along the lines of the various Batman Animated
shows in terms of being neither 80s-Marvel nor total-anime-ripoff.  The
choice of team members is strongly influenced by the live action movies,
although not an exact copy (the whole Rogue/Logan dynamic is movie-like,
     The storytelling is confusing in places (several time jumps, flashbacks
and dream sequences) and the plot is shot full of logical inconsistencies.
The villains in the MRD (Mutant Response something or other I don't care
enough to double check) are practically mustache-twirling parodies.  And
that's just the first episode.
     The extras aren't much to write home about.  Mostly trailers and ads,
with some commentary tracks and a making-of featurette.  At least they didn't
go the cheesetastic route of adding another episode and calling it an extra,
like some partial-season sets have done.
     $10 give or take a few cents most places, I got it at Best Buy for
$9.99.  Worth a watch, even if the whole doesn't hang together very well
there's some decent pieces in there.  I don't plan to get any further DVDs of
this series, though.

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

     Books of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): The Amazing
Spider-Man #592, The Incredible Hercules #128

     Gen13 v4 #27: DC/Wildstorm - Yeah, I've already dropped this one, but
the store reordered the missing issue so I bought it when it came in.  Very
little happened that wasn't obvious from reading #28, though, aside from a
rather good two page cameo by Doctor Sin.  Mildly recommended, mostly for the
Sin bit.  $2.99
     Justice League of America #32: DC - In last issue's review, I commented
on the out-of-story reasons why it's dangerous to hook a book to the big guns
of a setting.  This issue, McDuffie provides plausible in-story reasons why
having either Batman or Superman leading the JLA is a bad idea anyway, and
why Black Canary should have the job.  A new seven-person regular team is
shaping up, and it's notable that none of them solo-headlines another ongoing
book right now.  McDuffie's trying very hard to make lemonade out of the
editorial mandates he's been handed (which are less "lemon" in the fruit
sense and more in the automobile sense), and generally succeeding.  I still
can't take Starbreaker seriously, though.  Recommended.  $2.99
     Transformers Maximum Dinobots #1 (of 5): IDW - Well, definitely not
gonna bother ordering the TPB now that I have the first and last issues.  :)
This issue is mostly about picking up threads from Spotlight Grimlock and the
Scorponok plotline running through Spotlight and the -tion minis, not leaving
a lot for new plot...I suppose you could say it's more of a 4 issue
miniseries with a transition issue.  It's exposition-heavy even for Furman,
and about the only really good thing about it is Roche's depiction of the
pre-dinosaur Dynobots.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
     Transformers Spotlight #21 (Jazz): IDW - This is cast in the framing
device of Tracks telling a story to other Autobots during the exile on
Cybertron in All Hail Megatron, making it as much a Tracks spotlight as
Jazz.  A good use of the series to get in a side story, though.  I got Cover
B, with the Meister deco.  Recommended.  $3.99
     Transformers Spotlight #22 (Drift): IDW - Ah, the darling fanfic
character of IDW's G1, one or two short steps form being someone's Gary Stu.
And MAN does he hit all the notes.  Just picking one detail to start with is
impossible, it's such a target-rich environment.  All he needs is some
romantic conquests to complet his trip to the Mary Sue Side of the Farce.
Gag, ptui.  The art's okay, but some of the transitions are distracted, like
they were done out of order and not spliced together correctly.  Do not buy
unless you're looking for something to MST.  $3.99
     Transformers All Hail Megatron #10: IDW - Deus ex Machina in full swing
on the Autobot side.  Not only was Optimus Prime brought back to life out of
left field in #9, they don't really explain how that works this issue, and
another character makes an awfully convenient entrance.  The last of the
betrayal mystery is resolved in a bit of obvious "we should probably explain
this" dialogue, and various plots come to a head.  Lots of fighting among the
exposition, and a general feeling that the writers are finally realizing that
decompressed storytelling can be taken too far and maybe it's time to wrap up
what could have been done as a 6 issue story.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
     Cthulhu Tales #12: BOOM! Studios - The first story is another "we seem
to be missing most of the panels" Arkham police story by Messner-Loebs, with
some interesting ideas but reading more like an outline of a real story.  The
second is your basic Innsmouth-ish life story, decent.  Overall, mildly
recommended.  $3.99
     Ignition City #2 (of 5): Avatar Press - More of the backstory comes up,
including a bit more on how the world went to hell in a chamberpot, and the
mystery of Rock Raven's murder deepens.  Well, the mystery behind the
mystery, anyway, as the reader finds out who the killer was...and that Rock's
death wasn't really the Whole Story anyway.  Oh, and there's an appropriate
use of the phrase "Ke ke ke ke ke" as well.  Crude and rude, but
interesting.  So, recommended.  $3.99
     Gold Digger/Ninja High School Maidens of Twilight #3: Antarctic Press -
The "story so far" bit on the inside front cover helped a bit in getting past
the fact I still don't have #2, although the "character development time" I'm
still missing made it a bit harder to follow things than I'd like.  #2 was
all fight scene, apparently, with only a little bit of fight this issue and
then loads of recovery and prep (and some shipping).  There's also OHOTGDU
style entries for Seance and Suzume at the end, although both get plenty of
exposition and background in this issue, rendering the entries fairly
redundant.  :)  Recommended.  $3.50 US/Cn
     Gold Digger Tech Manual #2: Antarctic Press - This issue is dominated by
Agency Zero's gear (they're a mix of Battle of the Planets G-Force,
Superfriends, Thunderbirds and a bunch of other 60s and 70s hero type groups,
so there's a wide variety of tech in there), with a little bit left over for
General Akbar's mostly parody-style stuff and then a few pages for the
Artificers.  None of these groups has gotten loads of exposition in the
actual stories, so plenty of the information here is brand new.  Cute geek
girl cheesecake cover.  Recommended.  $3.95 US/Cn
     Jersey Gods #2: Image - Oh dear, now I'm reading the series backwards.
The weird part is, I think it works better this way.  Start with the
disconnected "standard New Gods homage" and "working girl romance" stories in
#3, flash back to the connection in #2, then presumably to the first meeting
in #1.  :)  Recommended.  $3.50
     Dynamo5 #20: Image - Hee.  War Chest.  And it looks like Scrap is
staring in disbelief into her cleavage on the cover.  A very special
Valentine's Day issue that would have worked better if Diamond had deigned to
ship it back in February, but them's the breaks.  Recommended.  $3.50 
     Dynamo5 #21: Image - There's a little super-action here, but it's mostly
another romance issue, plus various simmering subplots.  Two very different
approaches to skewed romance, one a little kinky in a sweet way and the other
quite geeky...okay, both are geeky, but the grammar-banter is REALLY geeky.
Not sure I like where Myriad's plotline is going, although given how
Faerber's run things so far it's just as likely a dodge of some sort.
Recommended.  $3.50
     Invincible #61: Image - Invincible War Aftermath banner.  Lots and lots
of angst over the devastation wrought by the alt.Invincibles (Alt.vincibles?)
last issue, plus the focus character of #59 makes a return to twist the
knife.  I half expected the last page to be totally different, though, given
the social norms of the antagonist in it.  :)  Recommended.  $2.99
     Wolverine Weapon X Files: Marvel - Yes, even in a $60 week, I'm a sucker
for guidebooks.  A lot of the entries in this one are purely Wolverine
characters, like Tyger Tiger, but there's a few "we wanted an entry soon for
this person and they met Wolverine at least once" types like the Blob or
Mastermind, who have less specific links to Logan.  It follows the normal
OHOTMU pattern of the full page and multi- page entries mixed together in
alphabetical order, followed by all the half- page entries on lesser lights.
Wolverine himself gets 6 pages, although Wolverine Saga makes for a better
entry.  :) Recommended.  $4.99
     Thor #601: Marvel - No tie-in banners, notably.  Pretty much fallout as
people start to look for where to go and what to do in the wake of Thor's
exile.  JMS doesn't really capture Doctor Doom's tone, unfortunately.  I like
his "drunk and bitter Volstagg," though.  Recommended.  $3.99
     Wolverine First Class #14: Marvel - A fairly fluffy ninjas and demons
story wraps up.  It was okay, but given the onslaught of books this week not
really worth going into further, sorry.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99
     The Amazing Spider-Man #592: Marvel - Waid and McKone are back on duty.
And with them comes an overwhelming need for brain bleach, at least on the
last page.  UGH!  Poor Peter's gonna need a therapist.   Ahem.  The lead-up
is great, though, and even the nasty is good from a storytelling point of
view.  Strongly recommended.  $2.99
     Avengers the Initiative #23: Marvel - Dark Reign banner.  And MAN,
there's some continuity whiplash here, with HAMMER just being announced as
part of the festivities this issue.  The main plot is all about things
falling apart, coming into the open, and benefitting all the wrong people.
The subplot is about things falling apart, going into hiding, and running
into loads of old Wolverine supporting cast and villains.  I still don't care
for how Delgado's finishes work over Humberto Ramos's pencils, though.  Yeah,
the darkness fits the mood of most of the issue, but it's like he sets out to
magnify all of Ramos's stylistic quirks to an almost parodic degree by use of
shadow and shade.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99
     The Incredible Hercules #128: Marvel - Dark Reign banner.  Big Damn
Fight Scene, Amadeus Cho being terribly clever as well as heartbroken, and
creeeeeepy immortal stalker action.  And I don't mean the Huntsman.  Strongly
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 4/22/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger
Universe #22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #2-4, Transformers Revenge of the
Fallen: Alliance #2, Jersey Gods #1, Booster Gold #17, Gold Digger Maidens of
Twilight #2.  Add Ninja High School #169, but that falls under the "plus or
minus a week" caveat.  Oops, and missed that I was even missing Mighty
Avengers AGAIN. 


"Needs A Legion Flight Ring" Award to Booster Gold JLU action figure

"Wolverine In Woodcrest" Award to Wolverine and the X-Men Heroes Return 
     Trilogy DVD

"Nuts To Soup" Award to Gen13 v4 #27

"Aren't They Busy Over In REBELS?" Award to Justice League of America #32

"It's Like The Best Mini-Spy Collection Ever" Award to Transformers Maximum
     Dinobots #1 (of 5)

"I Didn't Recognize Him Because He Has A New Voice Actor Now" Award to
     Transformers Spotlight #21 (Jazz)

"He's A Pretty, Pretty Princess Too" Award to Transformers Spotlight #22

"I Am" Award to Transformers All Hail Megatron #10

"He's Got The Look" Award to Cthulhu Tales #12

"I Suppose If I Wanted A Respectful Homage I Could Get Back To Writing
     New Exarchs" Award to Ignition City #2 (of 5)

"I Like Squirrels" Award to Gold Digger/Ninja High School Maidens of
     Twilight #3

"I Like Forklifts Too" Award to Gold Digger Tech Manual #2

"Fashion Apokolips" Award to Jersey Gods #2

"She Was On Work-Release At White Lightning" Award to Dynamo5 #20

"Now, A Date Arguing Grammar While In A Danger Room?  That Would Be 
     PERFECT!" Award to Dynamo5 #21

"This Fight May Leave The City LESS Of A Mess, Actually" Award to Invincible

"And Then The Entry Was Mysteriously Erased" Award to Wolverine Weapon X

"Does 3M Make Uru Duct Tape?" Award to Thor #601

"KANEDAAAAAAA" Award to Wolverine First Class #14

"MY EYES" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #592

"The Truth Can Be The Best Lie Of All" Award to Avengers the Initiative #23

"Counting The Days Until December 27" Award to The Incredible Hercules #128

     Dave Van Domelen, "Wanna go steady?" - "Hawkeye" (Bullseye) to Delphyne,
The Incredible Hercules #128
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