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Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et CeteraIntermittent 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 month. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Turns out nuts have Too Much Magnesium for me. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): The Little Trashmaid vol 1 In this installment: Batman: the Doom that Came to Gotham (movie), Asadora vol 1-2, Go Go Loser Ranger! vol 1-3, Kaiju No. 8 vol 6, The Little Trashmaid volume 1, Fantastic Four #5, Moon Knight #21, Monkey Prince #12 (of 12), Black Adam #9 (of 12), Superman: Lost #1-2 (of 10), Gargoyles #4, Draculina Blood Simple #2 (of 6). I also ordered Dungeons & Dragons: Saturday Morning Adventures #1, but it didn't come in my shipment and I didn't notice for a week. "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. Batman: the Doom that Came to Gotham: DC/WB - This is an adaptation of the three issue prestige format miniseries from twenty years ago, but with an art style more in line with the majority of recent direct to disk DC animation. The "bog standard comic book" art style does tend to undercut the atmosphere of cosmic horror, even if working from Mignola and Nixey's designs. Pacing-wise it worked pretty well, getting close to the "22 pages = 15 minutes" ratio I've observed in adaptations I've liked in the past. It does cycle through characters kinda quickly, in an attempt to fit as many classic Batman friends and foes into the story, but high body counts kinda come with the Lovecraftian territory. The horror tends towards the weird and abstract rather than bloody and visceral...like, some CW body horror here and there, but more at the "squamous" end than the gory end. Recommended. Price varies by store and format. More Moon Girl S1 dropped this month, they seem to be doing it in chunks. Still good, still full of clever bits. I got Justice League X RWBY part 1 at the end of the month, didn't get it watched in time for posting this column. (It is not based on the comic from a few years ago that I reviewed, but it might be based on the current comic that I'm not reading.) Digital Content: Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so (such as a lack of regular comics), I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will generally be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. Nothing this month. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Asadora vol 1-2: Viz (Viz Signature) - This is a fairly ambitious series covering multiple generations in the life of a girl named Asa and a mysterious Kaiju that emerges from the sea every so often, plus various people whose lives touch Asa's. It starts, briefly, in 2020 Tokyo, before rolling back to 1959 to tell the story of how Asa grew up and into herself. Other than that opening, volume 1 happens during the impact of the Isewan Typhoon (Typhoon Vera) in late September 1959, and the immediate aftermath, with the 1959 story also taking up about 2/3 of volume 2 (suggesting that the series was NOT written to be published in this size of collection). Asa, an oft-forgotten daughter in a large family, goes out to summon the doctor because her mother's giving birth again, and on the way back spots a looter and gets kidnapped for her troubles. A kaiju is implied, but dismissed as the howling of the typhoon at first, but eventually a tentacle or tail is spotted (and Asa is told to dismiss it as "seeing things"), reminiscent of the first appearance of Shin Godzilla. Asa finally finds a way to stand out, "legally" acquiring the airplane she'd been using and setting her on the road to...whatever she's going to do in 2020. Volume 2 only scratches the surface of the 1964 chapter, adding a lot of elements for Asa to juggle while also putting some more spotlight on a secondary character from Asa's old neighborhood who has his own connection to the Tokyo Olympics. Despite all the stuff Asa has to juggle, she still manages to literally stumble into a much larger set of plans for dealing with the "real after all" kaiju she blames for the destruction of her home and the loss of much of her family. The art style is a little on the retro side, with exaggerated features on most of the people, without being outright cartoony. Page size is slightly larger than the usual manga volume but smaller than American comics, which could make for awkward storage. Very slow burn monster story, but recommended. $14.99/$19.99Cn/#10.99UK per volume. Go Go Loser Ranger! vol 1-3: Kodansha - Pretty much every wish-fulfillment-for-kids kind of story spawns "monkey's paw" versions. Evangelion for "kid with a giant robot," Madoka Magica for magical girls, etc. One of the milder ways this sort of monkey's paw story takes place is to look at what happens to the heroes after the war is won, often leaning hard on "Gifted Kids become Troubled Adults" tropes when they aren't outright dealing in PTSD from being a Child Soldier. After all, if you peak in high school and there's no longer any monsters to fight, what next? Power Rangers generally made sure we knew that former Rangers (especially the large number who lost their powers outright) went on to live fulfilling lives, because they're still about wish fulfillment. The comic Mega Centurions (which I haven't read) seems to take the monkey's paw angle of most of the former heroes being stuck in dead end jobs since they never really developed marketable skills while being busy fighting monsters. Go Go Loser Ranger goes a bit darker than that while seeming to be a much better deal for the former Rangers, and has their Ranger group the Dragon Keepers create a whole false front built around forcing the surviving mooks to fight them weekly for the cameras. Now grown up and pretty unpleasant people, the Dragon Keepers can barely stand to be around each other, and they relish the petty power they have over both the surviving "Dusters" and over their legions of fans and followers. It's the old "die a hero or live long enough to become the villain" thing. The protagonist in volume 1 is a Duster, Fighter D, who has decided he's had enough of the mummer's farce and is going to kill the Dragon Keepers. Unfortunately, he's pretty incompetent. Fortunately, a couple of lower ranking members of the Dragon Keeper organization figure out his secret and want to help him. Unfortunately, they're both probably at least a little insane. Fortunately, Dusters are hard to kill so he manages to survive a few oopses. Unfortunately, if he survives anything that should have killed him, it blows his cover. Fortunately he finds another Duster ally. Unfortunately she's more insane than his human allies. And so forth. There's something of an air of "How did we lose to these idiots?" about the story, while at the same time emphasizing, "Oh yeah, the plot device artifacts," whenever it looks like Fighter D is relaxing too much. By the close of volume 3, the author apparently decides that letting the whole corrupt enterprise fall apart under its own weight of lies isn't enough and a new complication arises, oops. Recommended. $10.99/$14.99Cn per volume. Kaiju No. 8 vol 6: Viz - This is mostly a running battle against Kaiju No. 9, but interspersed with some flashbacks that help explain why the Annoying Kid Prodigy is both annoying and a prodigy. Kafka has to get over a serious mental block...the characters don't immediately recognize it as being a Him thing and think that 9 is suppressing him, but since the reader gets Kafka's thought bubbles it's been obvious since vol 5 what was going on. Storywise a bit of a slow issue, since spending most of the pages on fight scenes means that the actual STORY doesn't go much of anywhere. It's decent fight scenery, but there's maybe two or three plot points. Recommended. $9.99/$12.99Cn/#7.99UK The Little Trashmaid volume 1: Silly Studios - This started as a few one-off gag pieces posted around social media (I found 'em on Tumblr first) and then graduated to the Webtoons roster. The premise is that merfolk are real, and they're adapting to human pollution of their environment...more or less. It's a wordless comic (occasional symbols in speech balloons), with a good mixture of humor, pathos, and a deft hand at bathos (humor to undercut tragedy), and a strong environmentalist message without being preachy. Strongly recommended. I got it in hardcover through crowdfunding, but it's available for 25 Euros from sillystudiosofficial.com or just read it on Webtoons and maybe kick in on the Patreon. Note, I have a stack that I didn't get through in time for the April review column. That includes the rest of Asadora through vol 6, Go Go Loser Ranger vol 4, Dinosaur Sanctuary vol 1-2, and Moomin vol 1-2 (of the 10 volume set, not the big slipcover set). Yeah, getting a stack of books at a convention during the second last weekend of the month is pretty much a guarantee of not getting everything read in time. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? (And not all of them come out monthly, or on a regular schedule in general, so I can't just call this section "Monthlies" or even "Periodicals" as that implies a regular period.) Fantastic Four #5: Marvel - So, the Four (plus Alicia) are back together on the road, and Salem's Seven just sort of attack them during a traffic jam. Sort of, because Nicholas Scratch zorts them with some purple light that doesn't seem to do anything, and then leaves smugly. As with most of North's FF issues, it's a Science Puzzle, although weird Tesseract Reed art aside I didn't find it all that interesting, although it's implied to just be setting up the real threat (which the FF accidentally caused...sensing a theme here). Mildly recommended. $3.99 Moon Knight #21: Marvel - So, a night out on the town turns into a riot, as tends to happen when you have a superhero in your life. It starts with trying to get Soldier to adapt to his new unlife, although it turns out he may not have had much of a life in the first place. But before things can get too awkward, he's saved by a plot device similar to the one used on the Harlequin Hit Men, resulting in aforementioned riot. This is your basic, "drawing a line from two points" development where the heroes get just enough evidence to convince them that Something Is Up, although not enough to tell who's behind it (Zodiac is admittedly an obvious suspect). Some decent short Jake Lochley bits, but otherwise the whole thing felt like it could have been done in eight pages. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Monkey Prince #12 (of 12): DC - So, the first big arc ends, but in a way that implies and expects a Next Issue. Sure, the driving villain behind the series is Dealt With (although apparently he got pretty badly Dealt in a crossover issue I didn't read), Monkey Prince learns his true origin and deals with the resulting existential crisis, and he picks up his own gender-swapped version of Sandy for the posse, but it otherwise reads like part of an ongoing rather than the end of a planned limited series. And as Shang-Chi demonstrated for Yuen, the next miniseries is never guaranteed. Overall, just disappointing enough that I'm not going to be on the lookout for when or if there's a followup. $3.99 Black Adam #9 (of 12): DC - A new player (or is she?) comes on the stage as the retelling of Teth-Adam's origin continues. It's the kind of retcon that mainly only requires that the original teller of the tale have lied by omission or commission, and Theo has been known to do both. From simple bluster and namechecking people who he couldn't possibly have met (e.g. the writers of those comics couldn't be bothered to check dates and make sure Black Adam wasn't in exile at that point in history), to concealing darker and deeper secrets that he himself would rather forget, Teth-Adam has always had a tenuous relationship with the truth. Of course, the new revelations over the last three issues aren't necessarily 100% reliable either, although Theo is treating them as valid even when they make him look bad. History may be written by the winners, but victory is transitory and even the motives of the winners can change over time. A bit convoluted, but will probably make sense in the end...so you might want to wait for the trade. Recommended. $3.99 Superman Lost #1-2 (of 10): DC - Really just mentioning this to say I won't be reviewing it...since I'm in the credits and my bias would be pretty obvious. :) In case anyone's curious, my role was general science advising, being a sounding board for technobabble (e.g. "Does this sound science fictionally plausible or is it laughable garbage?"), and some brainstorming on various setting stuff. One warning, while this did not set out to be "out of continuity," DC hasn't been great lately about keeping things consistent on the editorial level, so there's going to be contradictions. #2 does suffer a bit from overexplaining a particular bit of technobabble through repetition. $4.99 (I got #2 earlier than my other April comics because I got comps.) Gargoyles #4: Dynamite - Here's where the story really begins, folks. And it seems to tie very heavily into stories that were either very forgettable or were in the previous comic series, because I have very little memory of any of the major players...I most clearly remember someone who is named but not even on panel. The story itself is pretty by the numbers, trying to juggle a cast that's way too big for a single comic while insisting on more modern storytelling technique, so there's a definite feeling that not much really happens. Waffling on whether to pull the plug on this one, although my current store's pull policy requires two months' advance warning on that so I'd get at least one more issue even if I decided now. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Draculina Blood Simple #2 (of 6): Dynamite - The cosmology just keeps getting weirder, with a bunch of "on sabbatical" angels running a mob operation, and one of Belial's sons trying to implicate him in interference with said operation for Reasons. Meanwhile original issue Draculina is causing problems for Kid Draculina and New Edition Draculina by being easily the most immature person in the entire book, which is frankly saying something. Still a lot of "who these people are for new readers" stuff, but the actual plot is getting going, and it is not simple, blood or otherwise. Still kind of in "where is this going?" mode, so just mildly recommended for the nonce. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "How do you survive the vacuum of space?" "... Very carefully..." - Victor and Superman, Superman Lost #2 (of 10)
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