Back to the Main Rants Page.
Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and AwardsIntermittent Picks and Pans of Comics and Related Media 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 Still in employment limbo. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None. In this installment: Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore, Double Barrel #9, Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures #7, Bandette #4, Gold Digger v3 #147-149, Theremin #1, My Little Pony Micro-Series #3, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #6. "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. Iron Man: Rise of Technovore: Marvel - This is an OAV movie from the same creative team that did the Iron Man Anime on G4. The first bad sign is that the first 45 seconds or so are just white-letter credits on black background with no sound at all...a cheapo add-on sort of conversion. The second bad sign is that the default is Japanese with subtitles...catering to the Weeaboo/Waponese audience with "Hey, kids, this is that anime stuff you all like!" I guess for the Japanese audience the selling point was the movie tie-in, but frankly for all the glitz and technically well-done animation it feels like a cheap exploitation job. And that's just the first few minutes! Oh, and I didn't leave out a word in the title, it's "Rise of Technovore". Unfortunately, these omens play out. The entire middle part of the movie is pure Idiot Plot. Iron Man spends most of the movie on the run from SHIELD because he won't listen for more than five seconds and no one in SHIELD seems capable of getting to the point faster than that. "Tony, you need to listen, we have something important to (ZORCH)..." rather than "IMPORTANT THING IN FIVE WORDS" right away. Meanwhile, the baddie is turned into a pretentious git bishyboy...even moreso than he is in the comics, and that's saying something. He spends most of his scenes lounging around in an all-white room wearing white and reading Nietzche. Of course, in the end he's defeated by himself and it all spirals into yet another "fear of the future" Frankenstein plot. If you're going to do a Bubblegum Crisis homage this far after the fact, it needs to be done better than this was. Suffice to say, not recommended. About $15 most places. 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. Double Barrel #9: Evil Twin - A new creator and his new story start up this issue, but...meh. It looks and initially reads like a high school student drawing his wicked cool D&D campaign with lots of gore and a visual style reminiscent of some of the stoner cartoons on Adult Swim. While by the end there's the glimmers of a deeper story, it's just visually offputting and too much of the story is weak pseudo-Heavy Metal Magazine scribblings. The Heck story is not, as I'd thought, the final installment. It's the Dramatic Climax, though, the point at which Heck goes as low as he can, marking this as a comedy (Divine or otherwise) in terms of story structure. Similarly, Crater XV isn't the end, although it's certainly winding down for Army Shanks and Pravda...until he remembers that there's another plot thread, oops. Neither of these stories feels like it got short-changed space-wise, so either they simply cranked up the page count (certainly possible in a purely digital comic) or the storytelling is more compact. Or both. Recommended, but probably best to skip the brutal fantasy comic. $1.99 at ComiXology. Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures #7: Red5 Comics - The anthology format is abandoned here, with a full-length installment featuring the adventures of Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse prior to the birth of Robo. And while it's possible that Robo's creation will figure in the climax of the storyline, it's by no means guaranteed. Good steampunk-ish adventure comic, although neither of the leads is really given to the kind of dialogue that pushes most Robo comics up from good to great. Recommended. $1.99 at ComiXology ($2.75 hardcopy). Bandette #4: Monkeybrain Comics - This is mostly a fight scene between Bandette and Matador, with the fight occasionally drifting into the background as other characters discuss matters of plot importance. It's fairly amusing, but as with most stories of its sort, it's not much of a read on its own. There's some good bits, and important plot advancement, but a proper fight does kinda take away from other aspects. It's one of those issues that will read better when taken as part of a bunch, as opposed to on its own. Mildly recommended. 99 cents at ComiXology. Gold Digger v3 #147-149: Antarctic Press - The free PDF archive has gone live at http://www.antarcticpresslibrary.com/ for a limited time, so I grabbed the issues that were posted since I last looked. #147 is almost jarringly unrelated to the whole Jade Realm plot, as Gina and Brianna have to go rescue their boyfriends (who have had such minor roles to date that I'd forgotten they exist) from an episode of Futurama. #148 makes it pretty clear that the Jade Realm plot is back-burnered, and the focus is back on Gina's archeology students (plus the events of #147 aren't quite so done-in-one after all). Fred Perry's plotting style is, um, scattered at times. And the fact that a Big Deal Issue is coming up soon doesn't necessarily mean that there will be any build-up in the issues closest to it. ;) The story this time is reminiscent of Invincible or Love & Capes in that it's mostly about what happens before and after the adventure, rather than the adventure itself. It suffers a bit in having to introduce or re-introduce a pretty large cast of next-generation characters, and hammers pretty heavily on the "Gina's students are the terror of campus" theme, so in the end it's about 2/3 of a good issue and 1/3 "stuff that could have been done on a text page". #149 shifts back to the actual adventure, leaving the off-screen stuff from #148 as a teaser. Both the student plot and the one started in #147 interweave, but it looks like the latter is intended to be a background thing well past #150. Even the student plot may not actually be the focus of #150, since it has been all about exploring a Greco-Roman ruin and the cover to #150 (aka #200, doing a Marvel-style renumber to include previous volumes) has a Mesoamerican flavor (it looks largely symbolic and includes characters who might not actually show up, but the overall motif is likely an accurate reflection of the story inside). Mind you, following one of the sillier mysteries of #149 could certainly lead to Mesoamerica. All three issues do hang together pretty well, at least, even if it does feel like Perry realized late in the game that he either wrapped up the Jade Realm plot too quickly or ran long and wouldn't be able to get the next part done by #200 so pushed it back...either way, making #147-150 feel like Plan B rather than Plan A. Fairly fun reads, and you can pick up PDFs free right now if you want to check them out (or any of the previous 146 issues). Once I'm employed again, I'll probably just grab the Gold Brick that covers this range, rather than try to fill in all the floppies I'm reading for free. ;) Theremin #1: Monkeybrain Comics - To look at the cover sans title, you might think this was another Adventures of Nikola Tesla and his Electromagnetic Waistcoat, but not quite...it's about a different weird scientist known for electromagnetic stuff. But in this case, the scientist has discovered time travel and been plunged into a secret world of espionage. It all sounds like something I'd really like, so I picked it up on ComiXology. Unfortunately, the actual product managed to turn me off with the very first line, and never really recovered. I suppose my main criticism is that it doesn't feel like a story set in Leninist Russia, it feels like a generic modern spy story with people wearing masks of historical people, but not trying to act any differently. A secondary problem is that the author doesn't seem able to look past how impressed he is by Theremin the real person, and scenes that just felt flat to me probably worked a lot better when seen through Hero-Worship-Tinted Glasses. Not recommended. 99 cents at ComiXology. If you're wondering why there's no "Last month's ReGeneration One" here, it's because the price for old issues has changed from $1.99 to $2.99, and I frankly haven't been enjoying the series enough to pay even a buck more. If it drops again in the future I might pick it back up, but for now it seems like a good enough reason to stop. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Nothing this time. Floppies: 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. My Little Pony Micro-Series #3: IDW - "How Rarity Got Her Groovy Back" is fortunately just in it for the pun value, and the movie being referenced isn't particularly followed plot-wise. The premise starts as "Rarity needs to de-stress at a resort" thing, but slews sideways into a "save the farm" plot instead. As with Cook & Price's regular series work, it's chock-a-block with references aimed at people my age or even older (Fluttershy being annoyed by Two Wild And Crazy Colts, cameos by WKRP DJs, the whole hippie commune thing). Good callbacks to "Sweet and Elite" and the various "Twilight freaks out" episodes. The first backup is a two-pager drawn by Katie Cook (uncredited) looking at the background character Hayseed Turnip Truck, and there's a few pages of the "Crystal Heart" YA novel at the end (rather longer than the preview in iTunes). Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #6: IDW - Part two of Nuhfer & Mebberson's dream demons arc. Unfortunately, it's pretty weak, especially since it's going back to the "greatest fears" thing that is well-trod ground by now in MLP. That's not to say it should never be done again, but it does mean that if you're going to do it again it has to be a fresh take. And this ain't that. It feels hacked out, like Nuhfer wrote "greatest fears scenes here" in the original outline and never really came up with a better idea before the deadline came up. There's hints of something interesting yet to come, but only about four pages of the entire issue are worth the bother. Also has the "Crystal Heart" preview. Neutral. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "I think you might have a story to tell Princess Celestia! Spike, take a letter!" "Why? We're IN Canterlot. We can literally walk 40 feet and tell her about it. She's RIGHT over there!" "Letters are more personal and can also be saved and indexed according to subject matter." - Twilight Sparkle and Spike, MLP Micro-Series #3