April 22, 2012

Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and Awards

Intermittent 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. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Got a job interview at TAMU-Galveston early next month, woot. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Nothing really stood out. "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. Nothing this time around. I will briefly note that I'm enjoying Ultimate Spider-Man, but can see where numerous elements of it would grate horribly on some people. Digital Content: Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so, I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. I will often be reading these things on my iPod if it's at all possible. Atomic Robo presents Real Science Adventures #1: Red5 Comics - This is the sort of anthology series you really only get in a medium like comics. Wegener writes all the stories, but different people draw them (Clevinger is not one of them). It's a mix of done in one vignettes and continuing serials, and while the cover doesn't indicate if this is a miniseries or an ongoing, the two serial stories are listed as part 1 of 6, so the series will last at least six issues. :) To Kill A Sparrow is the first serial, drawn by Ryan Cody. Set in WWII, it stars Sparrow and another female allied agent. This part is pretty much your standard action movie pre-credits action sequence, probably not tied directly to the main storyline. A decent start. The Revenge of Dr. Dinosaur is a vignette drawn by Yuko Oda, and it's chronologically third of the Doc Dino stories. Much of it is done in montage style, as Dr. Dinosaur assembles the components needed to wreak his horrible yet subtle revenge on Robo. Quite excellent shaggy raptor story. City of Skulls (Chris Houghton) is thematicaly the same as Ghost of Station X, but quieter and simpler, showing in only a few pages one of the harder parts of Robo's job. Leaping Metal Dragon drawn by John Broglia is the other serial story, in which Robo learns martial arts from Bruce Lee. It's also a prelude chapter, with Lee only appearing at the end, and it's a bit weaker than To Kill A Sparrow. Finally, Joshua Ross draws Rocket Science Is A Two-Edged Sword, a grayscaled tale from the 1950s in which Robo fights a technowizard aboard a rocket ship that's headed for a city. About the middle of the pack for this issue. Recommended. $2.75 cover price, $1.99 at ComiXology. Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition No. Zero: Arsenic Lullaby Publishing - Ironically, what was supposed to make this version of Arsenic Lullaby stand out was the larged page size and "pulp"-ish physical format...and I got it as an ebook. The ComiXology conversion is a little rough in places, with some panels that really should get the "full size, then pan across as you page- advance" treatment only existing as single very wide panes, but Paszkiewicz's lettering style makes most panels pretty readable even if they're a little small on the screen. The cover choice is good, because the "star" of this issue is the conflict between Tex Buckaroo (not his real name) and Issitoq (giant eyeball god) as they seek to guide a young boy through the vicissitudes of life as guardian spirits. In the girls' bathroom, where the boy is hiding from bullies. Oh, and Issitoq is an Iniut god, and Tex is a pretty horrible racist *and* embodiment of the 1950s idea of cowboys? Yeah. So, there's a fight scene. Despite his unpleasant personality aspects, Tex gives some pretty good practical advice (it's "good" in the "will keep the kid from being beaten up" sense, not in any moral/ethical sense), but things go downhill pretty fast once Tex and Issitoq come to blows. There's other shorts in here, that's pretty much the format of Arsenic Lullaby, but most are just long enough to set up the premise. Recommended, but pretty offensive in general. 99cents at ComiXology. Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition Omega Parts 1 and 2: Arsenic Lullaby Publishing - The physical Pulp Edition in this case is about 40 pages, so the ebook is split into two parts (17 and 24 pages, with the first part being the long Voodoo Joe story and the second being all the short subjects). I was a little worried that No. Zero would just be excerpts from these, but there's no intersection of sets. The same format issues mentioned above apply here, but for something intended for A4-sized paper it does pretty well on an iPod screen. In a regular comic, this big "all of Voodoo Joe's enemies gang up on him" story would probably have some sort of effect on him. This is Arsenic Lullaby, though, so...not so much. I suppose it has an effect on the enemies, and on Joe's erstwhile ally Chad. And by "effect" I mean "tire iron". The second part has all the shorter stuff, including a longer piece with the cow alien recurring characters. While their reason for not wanting to invade Earth is a bit implausible (good luck finding a planet without any spin, especially if you want it to be able to support life), but it's not like these cow aliens have ever been shown to be terribly intelligent. If you're not familiar with the ongoing stuff, you might want to skip Part 1 for now, since it presumes a lot of knowledge to make its payoff (or lack of payoff) work. But Part 2 is pretty solid material and more accessible to newcomers (although you kinda have to take Baron Von Donut's existence as read). As with No. Zero, recommended but offensive. 99 cents each at ComiXology. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. None this time. Floppies: If I actually pick up some monthly issues, they'll go here. Given my reluctance to put money in Diamond's hands, though, these would likely only be review copies or stuff found in oddball places. And no, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? And like floppy disks they may be a doomed format. Young Justice #14: DC - Huh, guess Hastings is still ordering this, just got it late this time. Aqualad brings Superboy and Miss Martian along with him to Atlantis, and gets a lot more character background and development. Kaldur does seem to get the short shrift in the cartoon, something the comic writers work to correct. A lot of aquatic characters get versions introduced here as schoolmates of Aqualad (including King Shark), and there's a fairly transparent mystery (well, transparent for anyone with any Aquaman lore knowledge...if Orm comes in screen in act one, he'll be Ocean Master by act three, count on it, regardless of continuity). In the backup plot, Red Tornado's siblings are being brought together, a plot point that won't make any sense if you haven't seen the cartoon, and will feel needlessly mysterious if you have. Recommended. $2.99 Young Justice #15: DC - Well, when you review about once a month and get an issue late, this tends to happen. :) The Tornado sibs get a page of plot this time too, but it's mostly about wrapping up the Ocean Master story. "Wrapping up" may be a bit strong, though...the specific Sinister Plot is foiled, but there's so many danglers that it's obviously meant to be a teaser for the full story. I'm curious whether Ocean Master will be a major threat in the next season of Young Justice, or if they decided to make him a Big Bad that's specific to the comic? He's been on screen in the cartoon, just never with a significant role. Generally a good issue, although I do have one quibble: if you're going to use Greek characters in speech bubbles, it's only polite to readers to provide some sort of footnotes or endnotes translating them. (I'm also not entirely sure they were using the Greek correctly, some of the gammas seem to be meant to be hard c sounds.) Recommended. $2.99 Marvel Universe Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #1: Marvel - The Marvel Adventures line has been hung up, as Marvel seems to have given up on having a stand-alone all-ages line, replacing it with tie-ins for their Disney XD shows. Written by Christopher Yost, so expect it to have the feel of the cartoon. Chris Jones keeps to the animated style, unlike the backup stories in the the previous cartoon tie-in miniseries. The lead story involves the Avengers fighting a Mandarin-controlled Fin Fang Foom. Then there's a short Fury Files on Iron Fist (Ultimate Spider-Man). The issue wraps up with Assembly Line, a summary of the first season written by Yost and drawn by DeKraker (although his Maria Hill isn't quite on-model). Recommended. $2.99 Gold Digger v3 #135: Antarctic Press - Oops, if I'd waited a few days to make my latest AP order, I could have taken advantage of their Tax Day Sale. Ah well. This issue wraps up the big Dynasty Resurgence arc, but immediately relegates it to secondary status as merely a herald of the REAL threat. Lots of big splash-page art and overwrought dialogue (although the Amarans are the worst offenders there). Recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger v3 #136-137: Antarctic Press - A two-part more or less self-contained story involving the sorts of things that can happen when your family gets a little too involved in time travel. Unfortunately, it looks like the covers might have been scrambled by mistake, as the cover for #136 would really work better on #137. Probably the biggest weakness of these issues is that it highlights Perry's tendency to jump between plots like a kid with attention span issues. Sure, there's a wrapup for #135 early on, but then it's off to an entirely different Big Cosmic Plot which may or may not tie into the thing the Dynasty was worried about. Because of the resulting plot dump, the story felt kinda thin...I think it would've been stronger if Perry left out the details of the interloper's true story and just left it as a mystery for the future. The important plot point was simply that the interloper was related to someone in the present, and we didn't need to know the details for that to shake things up. Mildly recommended. $3.99 each. Dave Van Domelen, "The Mandarin? You know this nut?" "Yeah. Old friend from China." "Then it is SETTLED. You are disliked on every continent." - Captain America, Iron Man, Black Panther, MUAEMH #1
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