April 29, 2016

Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et Cetera

Intermittent 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 And starting to move to the new place, fixing stuff, etc. Adulting! Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded (not strongly recommended, but otherwise worthy) In this installment: Daredevil S2 Eps 5-13, The Justice League vs. Teen Titans, The Imitation Game, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #6, Totally Awesome Hulk #5, Ms. Marvel #6, Gold Digger #231, Astro City #34, Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs #2, My Little Pony Friends Forever #27, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #41, Transformers Sins of the Wreckers #4 (of 5), The Transformers #52, Transformers More than Meets the Eye #52. Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Toil and Trouble #5, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #3 AND #4 "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. Daredevil Season 2, Episodes 5-13: Marvel/Netflix - In many ways, the first four episodes were like a pre-credits teaser (albeit a 4 hour long one), setting up the theme for the rest of the story. And that theme is, "Daredevil versus Doing It Wrong." The Punisher, Elektra, Stick, Kingpin (who returns), the Hand...each is trying to make the world a better place in a way that can be considered similar to Daredevil's way in some fashion, but is ultimately at best misguided and at worst evil. But doing it the right way carries a cost, paid not just by Daredevil, but also by several of his allies. Could it have been told a little more tightly? Yeah, there were certainly bits where it rambled on, especially Karen Page's stuff. But it's still a pretty solid thematic arc. (And I am amused at how Foggy seems to be getting shuffled off into Jessica Jones S2.) Recommended. The Justice League vs. Teen Titans: DC - Actually didn't come out until about mid-month, I was misled about the release date last month. Anyway, these pseudo-nuDC direct to video movies have really felt lately like they should be done like Daredevil if they can't get 'em on TV. Sure, there's one overall story, but very clear episode/issue breaks, whether they're adapting comics (Bad Blood) or going their own way (I'm told that at least one significant spoilery plot element in JLvsTT is new to the cartoons, not something in nuDC comics). The basic premise is that Batman has decided he can't make Damien stop being Damien, and ships him off to join the Teen Titans in the hopes that being around kids with something closer to normal socialization might help. And them being super-powered would let them survive Damien's personality. Maybe. And then Trigon happens, because you really can't introduce the Teen Titans anymore without Raven's dad becoming a problem. A new bit of business about Ra's al Ghul helps tie Damien to the Titans more solidly, and while it's a major retcon in the grand sense, this is a new (if nuDC-inspired) continuity, so okay. Recommended. $12-20 depending on store (more if you want the BluRay with the Robin figure). 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 iPhone if it's at all possible. Nothing this month. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded: Abrams ComicArts - The latest science bio-comic from Jim Ottaviani, this time with art by Leland Purvis. This is partially fictional, with Ottaviani having to fill in some of the gaps in the historical record in order to tell a compelling tale. The narration weaves about, a series of ghostly houseguests in the framing set-up telling their tales of Turing's life, with Turing's own narration woven in among these stories. Other than the occasional "of course, I didn't know then" sort of digression, it's pretty much told in order, childhood through death. Purvis does a good job of varying the layouts to emphasize when things are normal-everyday and when they're, well, NOT. Recommended. $24.95/$29.95Cn/#15.99UK Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #6: Marvel - End of the first arc. Fortunately, the "enforced normality" grounding is only a minimal hassle this issue, and by the end Moon Girl has made it clear to her parents what is important to her. Things aren't exactly resolved (in part because the arc ends on a cliffhanger...yes, it's still the end of an arc, but while the immediate plot resolves, the uberplot does not), but it's firmly established that we're not going to have to worry about the "Luna's parents won't let her do her thing" plot device intruding to an unreasonable degree. Recommended. $3.99 Totally Awesome Hulk #5: Marvel - The theme continues to be "evil but hot women try to corrupt Amadeus" apparently. I suppose I wouldn't mind the "Amadeus versus his own Id" plot if it weren't being strung out like this, and I wouldn't mind a slow burn for a plot I liked more, but meh. Neutral. $3.99 Ms. Marvel v2 #6: Marvel - Like Moon Girl, this marks the end of an arc, although it was a bit fitful in getting underway. The main theme is Kamala being a victim of her own success and her own desire to say yes. The "Army of Me" issues were not just literally Kamala versus (clones of) herself, but also Kamala versus her own personal self...once she defeats her own flaws, the actual giant monster stuff is dealt with almost casually. Because the first step in nuking it from orbit is admitting to yourself that it needs to be nuked from orbit. Recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger #231: Antarctic Press - And now for something low-stakes, with Dreadwing seemingly out of the way at the moment. The giantesses from a while back are brought to main Earth to keep them from environmentally devastating their own pocket dimension out of boredom. Lots of pro wrestling gags and large butt gags to be had. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Astro City #34: DC/Vertigo - And the Steeljack arc concludes, with the Fan.dom of the Alt.ra getting his comeuppance and Steeljack ending up kinda hosed as seen in the opening scene of the arc (like this season of Arrow, it's all been flashback since then). It does depart a bit from the noir feel at the end, tonally speaking, but that's part of the point of the arc: you don't need to stay defined by the same sort of story you've been living, you can switch genres. Recommended. $3.99 Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs #2: Lion Force Comics - Well, the unnamed studio artists this time are a bit better at layout-based storytelling, although they develop a new problem: blank eyes. Are they a cue to someone being mind-controlled? Or just a stylistic choice being applied inconsistently when someone is angry, sometimes? The story is more "gather the team, build towards Big Evil Plot Device," nothing too special. Mildly recommended. $2.99 My Little Pony Friends Forever #27: IDW - Pinkie Pie and Granny Smith. Granny gets injured, Pinkie wants to help, and Granny spends most of the issue being cranky and only grudgingly accepting it. Rice avoids taking the easy way out of having Pinkie's cheerfulness break, while giving Granny an appropriate point to Learn An Important Lesson. (I say easy way out, because not only is the "cranky old person hurts the young'un's feelings and feels bad about it" cliche kinda weak, but "let's make a canon character behave in a way that's supposed to be unusual for them" is also a cheap trick to make weak plots stronger.) Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #41: IDW - The cover is an homage to the style of the Little Golden Books, but Cook and Price bounce around among various kiddiebook styles fairly manically as Zecora narrates the take of Rainbow Dash's dreary day. And since disharmony has been established to have a creature that feeds upon it (Windigoes), why not crabbiness? This is definitely more of an experimental issue, much like the recent holiday special, a bit more concerned with storytelling form than the story being told (which is pretty pedestrian). Still, it's amusingly told, and gives Cook and Price an excuse to bring back a lot of their comic-creation characters ahead of Cook departing the title to work on other things (like Gronk). Recommended. $3.99 Transformers: Sins of the Wreckers #4: IDW - Never underestimate the ability of a determined idiot to do the impossible. And with loads of determined non-idiots in the mix too, at least one reality is likely to be destroyed. This issue is interesting and amusing, although the mood tends to whipsaw around between horror and farce. And it has a definite plot-tease at the end, a false climax that gets turned around for what feels like just padding. Granted, at this point getting a satisfying resolution into 4 issues would have been hard, but there was a certain amount of padding in previous issues as well: this is a four issue story stretched to five. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Transformers #52: IDW - Looks like Arcee's origin is being retconned some more. On the one hand, her original background (made female by Jhiaxus as part of a sick experiment, just to see if he could "invent" gender, and she's hunted him down ever since) did the canon few favors, equating as it did femaleness with insanity and abomination. But I don't think Barber's solution implied in this issue is all that great either. As for the rest of the issue...kinda forgettable. Optimus tries to get the Council of Worlds involved, tries to get guidance from various people, and it largely feels like it goes nowhere. A little revelatory soliloquy from Starscrean, at least. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers More than Meets the Eye #52: IDW - Ravage is Keyboard Cat. Well, control-panel cat. Same pose. Like Sins of the Wreckers, this issue feels somewhat padded out, but Roberts manages to make it work better in my opinion. The extra time is used for character development that feels more solid AND more tonally consistent, as various characters come to painful realizations about themselves without the realizations being coerced by some Evil Invention plot device. High-density angst, as opposed to SotW's low-density angst, if you will. Oh, and meanwhile any illusions people may have had that the DJD were sympathetic? Boom. Still totally horrible, for all that they have internal codes annat. Sure, Tarn won't kill his own people to curry favor with a potential ally, but he'll kill his own people in a nanoklik if they violate his own rules. Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "So...embarrassing..." - Carnivac, TF: Sins of the Wreckers #4 (of 5)
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