April 30, 2008

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.
Okay, I HAD a V8.  Meh.  What now, genius?  Rants, Capsules can be found on my 
             homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 

     In honor of the Iron Man movie opening this week, I made this:

First Look Comments:

     Books I read over the weekend as First Looks, but didn't buy, so can't
really say much in detail about.  DC has stopped having First Looks, so it's
just Marvel and Image...and there's word that Diamond doesn't want to bother
with the program at all anymore.

     Books for next week -

     Nova #13: Marvel - Annihilation is over for the time being, apparently,
and Nova's off to deal with some Chaos mani...er, a psyker, I mean, psychic
presence that follows in the wake of Galactus.  It's okay.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #39: Marvel - Sumerak writes.  Heh,
Kristoff the foreign exchange student from Latveria, viewing New York City
through the lens of his homeland...so, how often DOES the Statue of Liberty
come to life and attack, anyway?  He may be better prepared for living in NYC
than one might think, actually.  Of course, Things Are Not What They Seem
(although the Thing is pretty much what he seems).  Recommended.
     Avengers/Invaders #1 (of 12): Marvel/Dynamite - The Invaders get
introduced, tossed at a plausible time travel plot device, and the run into
the Thunderbolts.  Good "enter running" opening.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn 
     Invincible Iron Man #1: Marvel - Well, it's a good start from Fraction.
He sets up Stark's personal nightmares, some of which show him to be
something other than unreservedly futurist...and Zeke Stane is further set up
to be the very dark side Tony fears.  Where Obadiah was the evil businessman
counterpart to Stark, Ezekiel is the evil technologist.  This does tend to
create the awkward situation of making the "superhero as reactionary
maintainer of the status quo" theme come rather strongly to the front, and
"futurist" Tony Stark into a sort of "I got mine, now let's stop progressing"
neo-luddite.  Still, an interesting start.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Amazing Spider-Man #558: Marvel - Bob Gale's turn at bat.  The cover
shows pretty much all the plot complications so far in BND, and to his credit
Gale manages to work most of the into this story, service several subplots,
AND wrap up the Freak danglers for now.  On the strong side of recommended.

     Short, relatively spoiler-free reviews of books I actually bring home
(as opposed to reading in preview form in the shop or online).  If I get a
book late due to distributor foulups or whatever, I'll put it in the Missing

     Books of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Hulk
vs. Hercules #1 (of 1)

     DC Universe #0: DC - Well, it's fifty cents.  Also, the Surprise Reveal
made it onto the mainstream news (to the extent that the local light rock
radio station is mainstream news).  This is essentially a jam book,
artistically, with various artists (and some old art taken from previous
works, but not a lot) contributing to a sort of trailer for the Next Big
Stupid Event Crossover.  The narrator starts out seeming to be some sort of
personification of reality (a la Marvel's Eternity), but while it's not 100%
nailed down by the end, it's pretty clear he's meant to be the Big Reveal.
Anyway, it's a valuable book in giving a quick Sampler (anyone remember DC
Sampler?  This is kinda like that) of upcoming plotlines to read or (mostly,
in my case) avoid.  Oh, and Night Girl's costume just got a little more
risque.  Recommended, not really on the merits of the storytelling (which
tends towards purple and tedious) so much as in terms of seeing what's
coming.  50 cents.
     Action Comics #864: DC - Essentially a lead-in to the upcoming Legion of
Three Worlds series, with Batman coming to bring certain issues to Superman's
attention as a premise for letting the reader know where the current version
of continuity stands vis a vis the LSH.  Or LSHes, as the case may be
(LsSH?).  The villainous narrator of the piece is pretty obvious to anyone
familiar with the Legion, and the Big Reveal means little to anyone NOT
familiar with it, a bit of pointless coyness that is apparently not limited
to Sumerak (who did a similar thing over in Marvel Adventures Avengers
recently).  I can take or leave Prado's art, but it's fun seeing Batman and
Lightning Lad provide opposite poles to Superman's social circle.
Recommended.  $2.99US/Cn
     Legion of Super-Heroes #41: DC - The "bureaucratic nightmare" plotline
continues, along side the "mysterious killing machines" one.  And it appears
that Imra likes it rough...and if Timber Wolf is gonna pursue anything with
Projectra HE'D better like it rough.  The art by Lopresti and Ryan is a nice
change from the regular artist, although they go off-model a bit.  There's a
backup feature about the flight rings with some pretty bad art by Sanford
Greene.  Recommended.  $2.99US/Cn
     Teen Titans #58: DC - Long-time readers may have noticed that I tend to
read books more or less in the order "worst to best" within a publisher, at
least my expectation of that quality gradient.  Of five DC books I'm reading
this week, the fact that this is #4 does NOT mean I expect much of it.  It
just means this is a pretty weak week for DC as far as I'm concerned.
Anyway, more Terror Titans stuff, but the main villain is the Future Megan
left over in Miss Martian's head.  It gets a bit needlessly gory (seriously,
even in a fantasy sequence, do we NEED to see someone's spine ripped out in
detail?).  Mildly recommended.  $2.99US/Cn
     Blue Beetle #26: DC - The post-Rogers series of fill-ins commences, and
sadly it looks like he won't be back as the regular writer any time soon
(Sturges is listed in Previews as the next regular, which I suppose is okay
since I've been liking his Shadowpact).  The high concept here is that the
entire issue is in Spanish, with translations at the end.  Well, ALMOST all
in Spanish, there's a few bits here and there in English.  I remember enough
Spanish from high school that I could mostly follow it without the script
(although the art is a let-down...there's a bit where I only knew Traci was
in astral projection because of the script).  Annoyingly, the Scarab is back
to its cypher font, and the script just says "Scarab speak" for all of its
lines, so I'll have to dig out the translator for THAT.  Gimmicks of language
aside, it was a decent light done-in-one story.  Recommended.  $3.50US/Cn
     Hulk vs. Hercules #1 (of 1): Marvel - Didn't realize this was part of
Pak & Van Lente's regular story until someone asked me why I hadn't picked it
up last week.  It's set during the cross-country beer run shown at the start
of the most recent regular Herc issue, but told mostly in flashback by
Athena.  After a few pages of various-artist deep flashbacks, we get an
untold story of Hulk during his "Crossroads" days (not the failed comic
company, the arc that followed Hulk #300), where the near-mindless Hulk spent
some time in Olympus.  This story serves two purposes...the in-story one
being to point out to Amadeus Cho that as genial as Herc may be, he's still a
hero in the ancient Greek sense of the word, capable of atrocities.  The out
of story one is to remind people who Demogorge is, since he's showing up soon
in the regular book.  As a back-up, the Hulk/Herc fight from Tales to
Astonish #79 is presented, along with the original lettercol.  Oh, and the
main story has FOOTNOTES.  Ah, nostalgia.  Strongly recommended.  (That thing
I mentioned a few reviews back about review ordering?  I put this first in
the Marvels simply because it's from last week...I never said I followed
SIMPLE patterns.  Or consistent ones.)  $3.99/$4.05Cn 
     Avengers the Initiative #12: Marvel - Uy's art is rather foggy and
squishy this issue, not sure if he was shooting for a "filmed through cotton"
look for mood purposes, or just had an off day, though.  The KIA fallout
wraps up, we establish who died, who didn't, and who did but it warn't no-how
permanent.  And the issue ends pretty much as #1 began, with Cloud 9, who has
graduated and gotten a new costume and all that...and lost a piece or two of
her soul along the way.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     The Order #10: Marvel - Looks like this is the final issue, not #12 as I
thought it'd be.  The art is a rushed-looking mix of creators (Kitson
breakdowns, Saltares pencils, inks by a trio of people) and there's generally
a feeling of "Eh, shut it down, neither of the original creators wanna do
this anymore."  A pity, and the series wraps up on a big downer to boot,
likely to have its danglers continued over in Invincible Iron Man (where
Fraction went).  Zeke Stane gets some fun bits, but it all feels phoned in.
Neutral.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     New Warriors #11: Marvel - I suppose this issue could in part be
considered foreshadowing for some stuff in Avengers the Initiative, except
it's about four months too late to be *fore*shadowing.  :)  The other two
plotlines this issue focus on the down sides of the new New Warriors setup,
from public opinion to Thrash's "mushroom farmer" style of management.  Still
got some problems keeping everyons straight, though...they could stand to use
the intro page like Initiative does and put headshots of everyone in there
with names and power descriptions.  I mean, I've been reading this for 11
issues and still don't know who all of them are, not reliably.  Recommended
despite that flaw, $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Gold Digger Tangent #4: Antarctic Press - The Ayane story wraps up in
three pages, leaving the balance of the issue to resolve the Contessa story
in Northern Edge Guard.  As usual, the art is very rushed, as this is from a
webcomic Fred Perry does in his copious free time, but the stories are fun.
It's a good idea to read the "what has gone before" page carefully first,
though, since the pacing assumes you can archive-trawl at any time to figure
out what's going on.  :)  Recommended.  $2.99US/Cn

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 4/30: Amelia Rules #20.  Sigh.  At least the FCBD
version shipped (I asked the store, all the FCBD stuff I wanted in advance
did show up, yay!).


"Still Not As Creepy As Ocelotina's Costume, Though" Award to DC Universe

"Guys, No One Uses Chalk Outlines Anymore" Award to Action Comics #864

"Polymorphic Perversity" Award to Legion of Super-Heroes #41

"Megan And Cham Should Date" Award to Teen Titans #58

"Como se dice 'cute gimmick' en espanol?" Award to Blue Beetle #26

"Big Brother Is Watching You...Hungrily" Award to Hulk vs. Hercules #1 (of 1)

"For J.T. Marsh, Flying Isn't About Freedom, It's About Responsibility" 
     Award to Avengers the Initiative #12

"Don't Get Out Of The Car, Dummies!" Award to The Order #10

"A Turn In The Starr Chamber" Award to New Warriors #11

"Not Excelling So Much This Time, Saga" Award to Gold Digger Tangent #4

     Dave Van Domelen, "Feh.  The RED SKULL did not appreciate me either."  
- Baron von Blitzschlag, too verdammnt old to angst, Avengers the Initiative
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