April 29, 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.
Fear my all-capitalized job title, MUAHAHA!  An archive can be found on my 
             homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 

     Time for a bit of a reorganization, since the "Other Media" section
seems to be getting populated pretty regularly (which is good) and my "late
books" list is also getting populated pretty regularly (which is bad).  After
the disclaimers, I'll now just have "Items of Note", then Other Media, then
Late Books, then New Books.  The spacing also means that there's plenty of
spoiler space, so if I do a little spoilering along the way, at least there's
a buffer before the new books.  :)

     Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None.

"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.

     Marvel Universe Ms. Marvel Figures: Just quick notes here.  There's two
versions of Ms. Marvel available, the original costume (now worn by Karla
Sofen) and the modern costume (worn by Carol Danvers for most of the current
run).  Both are listed as being Carol, and both have the same secret file
paperwork (including a psych evaluation by Dr. Sofen), but they do have
package art and trading card art matching the costume in question.  Neither
has any molded costume details, they differ only in heads (which are both on
the small side, but at least have molded masks), hair (rubbery) and the scarf
on 70s Carol or sash on modern Carol.  They come with energy blast things
that fit over the hands.  Good articulation, with bending forward and back at
the ribcage, double hinge knees, etc.  About the only missing articulation
compared to other MU figures is that the elbows are simply hinges, with no
     The paint jobs are pretty mediocre, and it hurts the modern costume a
LOT more, since there's more places where a molded piece has to be split in
color, with paint boundaries being less sharp.  Of the two, I'd say the 70s
costume version looks better overall, although neither figure is a stellar
example of the line.  On the other hand, they're also the first female
figures I can recall seeing in the line, so I suppose some slack needs to be
cut for growing pains.  $8 price point most places.

Late Books:
     These are comics that were not listed as shipping during the week they
were reviewed.  Sometimes someone recommends a book to me that's already out,
and I grab it over the weekend.  Sometimes it's a trade paperback I ordered
online rather than trusting Diamond.  Sometimes the store screwed up or I was
inobservant and I missed something I meant to get.  USUALLY, though, it's
because Diamond didn't ship what it was supposed to ship and I had to
scrounge around or wait on a reorder.

     Buck Rogers #0: Dynamite - I've pretty much given up on Dynamite as a
publishing entity, but when I was buying Mighty Avengers I figured I'd pick
this up too.  It seems to be set up as a "end of career framing sequence"
story, letting Buck think back on a few things during a mission before going
back to the start of his story in #1.  It's okay, but not enough to convince
me to get the regular series.  Scott Beatty's story is about as good as you
could expect for a short teaser, but not better.  The art by Carlos Rafael
looks to have some Bart Sears influence to it, and is okay but sometimes the
visual storytelling is muddled.  Worth grabbing for a quarter, but I'm not
going to recommend the series in general on the strength of this.  25 cents.
     Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Alliance #2 (of 4): IDW - Wreckage is
revived by an AllSpark fragment (but does not change to an Animated style
design), fights Starscream just long enough to erase the last lingering
inconvenient bits of plot device from Reign of Starscream, and then gets
jobbed since he's not in the movie.  It's not so much that things happen here
as they UN-happen, erasing any bits of continuity from previous comic tie-ins
that might fit poorly with Revenge of the Fallen.  Neutral.  $3.99
     Transformers Maximum Dinobots #2 (of 5): IDW - Heh, we're working from
outside in on this title...got #5 first, then #1, and then #2 and #4
together.  In this issue, Grimlock fights the mind-controlled Dinobots,
Sunstreaker angsts and Scorponok gloats.  The whole Shockwave/Soundwave plot
gets some setup as well.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
     Transformers Maximum Dinobots #4 (of 5): IDW - Well, more players have
come on the field, and some of the sides have changed, but Sunstreaker is
still angsting and Scorponok is still gloating.  I'm guessing there's one
heck of an infodump in #3, given how much background I'm still missing after
having read all but that issue.  Tag-team art is in full effect this time
around, apparently Roche couldn't make deadline on his own, and it's kinda
muddled.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99  
     Booster Gold #17: DC - Weird...when I read #18 without reading this, I
was generally able to follow what was going on.  Now that I read this a few
months after #18, it's hard to follow.  It's not only a kinda padded middle
of the story, it's aggressively the middle of the story.  In fact, it's
mostly a side piece involving Barry Allen, although it does eventually tie
back into the main plot.  Neutral.  $2.99
     Gold Digger/Ninja High School Maidens of Twilight #2: Antarctic Press -
Some fun with the hedgie-thrope and a bunch of exposition, but I didn't
really learn much that I didn't pick up from the What Has Gone Before page in
#3.  The tone is generally light, which makes Suzume's angstbombs feel out of
place.  Mildly recommended.  #3.50
     Jersey Gods #1: Image - (Second printing) And now my voyage backwards
through the first three issues is complete.  The inverted New Genesis setting
is laid out pretty well (badguys in the floating city, goodguys on the
ground), the two leads and several supporting cast sketched out, and the
reason for the opening conflict (well, the prime mover of it, anyway, even if
his actual motives are left vague) is laid out.  Recommended.  $3.50
     Mighty Avengers #24: Marvel - Oops.  My store messed up and didn't put
this in my pull, and I was sloppy and didn't check the shelf carefully enough
(although with 20 books already in hand, I didn't have a lot of motive to
grab more off the shelf).  In this issue, Loki's plans unfold and we get a
number of reaction shots from the rest of the new Illuminati, but this is
mostly set up as a montage...lots of short scenes showing the Mighty Avengers
traveling the globe and saving people, while the mysteries of the setup
interweave as subplots.  Recommended.  $2.99

New Comics:
     Comics and comic collections that I got this week and were actually
supposed to be out this week, as far as I can tell.  These reviews will
generally be spoiler-free, but the occasional bit will slip in.

     Justice Society of America #26: DC - Johns closes out his run by
focusing on Stargirl, and the fact that she's not exactly a newbie but also
not exactly a veteran in the JSA.  She's a legacy hero, but at the same time
has been a mentor of sorts to several of the other legacies.  And rather than
focus on the "neither fish nor fowl" isolation that could result from that,
Johns instead concentrates on how she's part of both groups.  She still gets
a little more of the Kiddie Table treatment than I'd like (especially the
punch line built into the final scene), but if he'd been writing her more
like this all along it would have been much better.  Recommended.  $2.99
     Legion of 3 Worlds #4 (of 5): DC - Was starting to think I'd need to
wait for the 31st Century to see this issue (insert rimshot here).  The
undoing of recent events continues, a sort of buyer's remorse on the part of
Johns, perhaps.  At this point, I half expect Slobo to show up in #5.  :)
Lovely Perez art as always, but for a book that's trying so hard to undo
pointless deaths of past events, there's certainly a LOT of pointless death.
Mildly recommended.  $3.99
     Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectactular #2 (of 2): Marvel - This issue has
the reason I got the series, "Galacta" by Adam Warren.  Although the Power
Man story by Wyatt Cenac of the Daily Show is a secondary attraction, and
comes out pretty well given that Cenac's not exactly a veteran here (the Todd
Nacuk art doesn't hurt).  The third piece, an Elsa Bloodstone story, is
mediocre at best, though.  There's a poll to see which of the six stories
should get continued...obviously, if it's to be continued by the existing
creators I want Warren to get more work.  :)  But if we're just voting on the
story with no guarantee the talent will remain attached, I like the premise
of the Luke Cage story a bit better (Galacta's a touch too gimmicky for me to
want to see it continued by someone other than Warren).  Recommended.  $3.99
     Avengers/Invaders #10 (of 12): Marvel - Okay, so they're still back in
the 1940s, and didn't get vaulted into an alternate present-day.  Goes to
show how clear the storytelling was last issue.  As for the art by Sadowski
and Berkenkotter, I find the odd mix of 40s anatomy and modern linework to be
really distracting.  Especially on the female characters.  Neutral.  $2.99
     Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil #4: Marvel - This was almost in next
week's Late Books section, along with MA Avengers below.  Diamond didn't ship
'em (yeah, way to go, fail to ship two all-ages books during FCBD week), but
I had to be over by Hastings later in the afternoon and grabbed this and MAA
off the shelf.  I'm still not sure if this is a miniseries or not, but the
arc wraps up here as Dr. Doom goes after his true goal, one worthy of him and
certainly better (in his case) than mere immortality.  Recommended.  $2.99
     Ms. Marvel #38: Marvel - Okay, this is the Important Issue, at least as
far as continuing to follow this book goes.  With Karla Sofen taking over as
Ms. Marvel, will we see the return of the Brian Reed that wrote the torture
porn story a few months, or keep the Brian Reed who's written most of the
series so far?  Unfortunately, it seems to be leaning towards the torture
porn Reed.  I'll give it another issue or two to see if I'm wrong (and to see
if there's any progress on Carol's subplots), but I'm not sanguine.  $2.99
     Marvel Adventures Avengers #35: Marvel - Zut alors!  Eet ees Batroc ze
leapaire's most fiendish plot yet!  Okay, some of the guest characters are
written so off-model (to the extent they can be considered to have a model in
the MA-verse) that I wonder if Tobin even told Casey Jones who to draw or if
Jones picked whatever he felt like most of the time.  Jones's art is rather
rougher than the norm for MA books, mostly in his harsh inks.  Recommended.
     The Muppet Show #2 (of 4): BOOM! Kids - This time the focus is on Fozzie
being worried he's lost his edge.  Yes, Muppet angst for the second issue in
a row.  And trying to copy the format of the show is really not working for
me.  They'd be better off trying to fit the story to the medium rather than
trying and failing to bend the medium to fit the existing story styles.
Neutral.  $2.99
     Eureka Dormant Gene #1 (of 4): BOOM! Studios - I think this is set
somewhere in season one.  Before Zoe got any real character development
beyond "rebellious teen who is the lone non-nerd".  Which makes the arc I
sense coming for her doubly pointless...not only aren't writers Cosby and
Paglia able to make any real changes, in this case it looks like they're
trying to presage developments the have to be left for the actual show.  On
top of that, there's a lame Twilight parody running through everything.  Not
an auspicious start.  Neutral.  $3.99
     Farscape D'Argo's Lament #1 (of 4): BOOM! Studios - O'Bannon and
DeCandido continue writing the Farscape comics on this "flashback" story.
Unlike the other two minis, though, being set in the spaces between episodes
(somewhere early in season 2, after Zhaan's death but not too long after as
Jool mentions being on the first flight of D'Argo's newly adopted ship: a
footnote or an inside the front cover note nailing it down would have been
nice) means it has the same limitations that made the first Eureka mini fall
flat for me...can't make any real changes to any established characters, and
any new characters might as well be wearing red Starfleet uniforms.  It
doesn't help that all the new characters have gimmicky names (the names of
various people spelled backwards, like the crimelord Xocgerg).  Nor does it
help that Jool could almost be replaced by Chiana for all that she does in
the story.  Suffice to say, it's not as good as the other Farscape comics.
Mildly recommended.  $3.99

     By the way, this week it's 8 books in the late pile, 10 in the new.
Almost an embarrassing balance.

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 4/29/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger
Universe #22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #3, Ninja High School #169.  Add
Justice Machine vol 1 TPB.


"Space Jodphurs!" Award to Buck Rogers #0

"Not So Much A New Paint Job As Bad Lighting Effects" Award to Transformers
     Revenge of the Fallen Alliance #2 (of 4)

"Who Wants A Stoopid Tape Player Anyway?" Award to Transformers Maximum
     Dinobots #2 (of 5)

"Smugmaster Technology" Award to Transformers Maximum Dinobots #4 (of 5)

"OMG, He's Turning Into Post-Crisis Mopee" Award to Booster Gold #17

"A Nosicle For Trouble" Award to Gold Digger/Ninja High School Maidens of
     Twilight #2 

"She Doesn't Want A Man, She Wants A Ken Doll" Award to Jersey Gods #1

"Can LOLSkrulls Be Far Behind?" Award to Mighty Avengers #24

"Who Let Thom At The Mustache Wax?" Award to Justice Society of America #26

"If He Had Little Success, That Implies He Got SOMETHING" Award to Legion
     of 3 Worlds #4 (of 5)

"They Can't Wait Until The Kid Develops Invulnerability" Award to Marvel 
     Assistant-Sized Spectacular #2 (of 2)

"All Those Public Domain Heroes Nailed To A Wall Is A Metaphor For Something
     Or Other, I Think" Award to Avengers/Invaders #10 (of 12)

Derek Radner Seal Of Approval to Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil #4

"Didn't Actually Explain Why The Hulk" Award to Ms. Marvel #38

"Bed-Hopping" Award to Marvel Adventures Avengers #35

"Will He Become A Wedge Of Spite?" Award to The Muppet Show #2 (of 4)

"The Giant Teenager Was More Interesting" Award to Eureka Dormant Gene #1 
     (of 4)

"Providing The Name Of A Short-Timer Character Only On The Second To Last
     Page Is Bad Writing, Guys" Award to Farscape D'Argo's Lament #1 (of 4)
     (seriously, I almost had to go googling for Jool's name, as I'd 
     forgotten it and her name only appears once in the entire issue!)

     Dave Van Domelen, "Kree = YUMMY!" - Galacta, Marvel Assistant-Sized
Spectacular #2 (of 2)
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