May 5, 2010

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. An archive can be found on my homepage, Feliz Cinco de Antartico! 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. Iron Man 2 Movie Series 6" War Machine: Hasbro - While the main Marvel toy lines have shifted to the 3.75" scale, they apparently still have a few retooled Legends molds around, or are willing to do minor retools for store exclusives. This line appears to have a fairly large number of new pieces, although it's possible the tooling was done before the decision to axe the size class came down. I passed on the Mark VI armor, because it has the same lame wrist-mounted missile launcher seen on the Mark III armor from a couple years ago. The cosells on the back indicate a Mark I and Deep Dive as well for this exclusive line, but the only store I've seen 'em at so far only had the Mark VI and War Machine. War Machine is the only toy in the assortment that doesn't have the wrist launcher accessory, instead having multiple snap-on weapons and alternate hands. [Clarification: the Mk VI also has option hands, but the only other accessory is the big launcher.] This is a pretty impressive action figure, all told. The main gun is on a rail on the backpack, so it can slide back and forth to be over either shoulder, although the ammo belt needs to be unplugged and replugged. The optional right shoulder missile pod can be replaced by an armor panel, a fairly Revoltech-ish way around the problems of stowing weapons. The figure comes with open repulsor-blasting hands, with options for gripping hands and closed fists on each side. The hands peg in and have a hinge where the peg meets the hand, much like Microman option hands. Articulation in general is very good, and the shoulderpads are on hinges to avoid getting in the way. There's also hinged armor panels on the backs of hte hands, although these tend to pop off a bit too easily. About my only real problem with the articulation, though, is that it uses that funky universal joint in the hips that so many Marvel toys do, so the leg can either go out to the side or lift to the front but you have to spin around the hip joint (which is awkward) to switch between options. It definitely justifies its shelf price, though. Recommended. $12.97 Time-Shifting: Sometimes I get a comic a week or two late because of Diamond's combination of neglect and incompetence. If it's more than a week late, though, I won't review it unless it's very notable. Additionally, I will often get tradepaperbacks long after publication or even sometimes before Diamond ships them, and those will go here. If I'm reasonably sure I'm reviewing something that didn't ship this week, this is the section for it. I got a bunch of Antarctic stuff direct from their online store, having given up on Diamond for the older stuff. Most of it is beyond the "more than a week" limit mentioned above, but I still have a couple of comments on the older stuff. It's worth noting that orders from the AP online store charge cover price but include shipping in that (and if you're not in Texas, there's no sales tax). So, if your store keeps getting shafted by Diamond on AP books but doesn't sell enough to want to make a direct order from AP (there's no store minimum, but there are minimums for discount levels), the online store is a good alternative. Gold Digger Sacred Library #3: Antarctic Press - #1-2 covered all of the first two volumes and the first 72 issues of the current color volume. This issue covers #73-85. Looks like Perry and Dlin are giving in to the temptation to "summarize" more and more loquaciously, since I'm pretty sure the plot density of the series didn't increase by an order of magnitude. :) #4.95 The Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #22: Antarctic Press - This is a "Realms and Dimensions" issue, and mainly covers the big brush stuff...astral rifts, Beta Phase, Ethereal Realm, Quasi-Space, etc. But there's a few rather specific locations in the mix, like the Mage Council Chambers. $4.95 Gold Digger v3 #105: Antarctic Press - A lot of the stories since #101 have been one-off archeological digs in which the stuff they encounter looks suspiciously like 1980s kidvid properties, and this is no exception. The homage du jour is Cobra's Weather Dominator. On finishing it, I had to go back and doublecheck the issues since then, because the issue's close looked like it was meant to be continued. But neither the new characters nor the locations from this issue have shown up since, unless it was a blink-and-miss moment. $2.99 Gold Digger v3 #116: Antarctic Press - Okay, I haven't exactly been waiting a LONG time on this one, as it's the current issue, but it's been longer than the usual "half the country gets it one week, the other half next week" slosh that Diamond does with AP books, so I went ahead and added it to my online order. Anyway, absent a few short arcs like the Skippy story, the other main thing Gold Digger's been showcasing besides one-off kidvid homage digs has been one-off "catch up with the supporting cast" stories, and that's what this one is. It follows recurring villain Natasha Volstov and reformed villain Madrid on a bit of conflict in the Astral Rifts (which, according to OHOTGDU #22 has had no recorded events since Lynn escaped, so good synchronicity on my order, eh?). Madrid's arc has been slowly unfolding in stories like this for a while now, and the general theme is that she finds herself facing down people who are a lot worse than she ever was, in one way or another. As much as she may angst in this issue, it's pretty clear that Madrid's worst side is merely selfish and pleasure-seeking. If she inflicts pain, it's in a thoughtless way, because she didn't care about people who got in her way. Natasha, on the other hand, inflicts pain because it gives her pleasure. So there we have contrast and conflict. Mind you, her big Moment of Realization at the end is a little mood-killed by the framing of the upskirt shot of the panel. Heh, how's this for a Gold Digger tagline: "Gold Digger - Psychodrama and Cheesecake, both in ample portions!" 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. Transformers Nefarious #3: IDW - Heavy on action, as the prisoner transfer inevitably goes sour. For the most part, it's a rematch of the characters seen in the past two issues, but with the powerhouses off the field. The Initiative plot is mostly independent of this, although the matter of Ravage is definitively cleared up (I suspect Furman meant it to be more obvious in #1, but he DOES have a penchant for elliptical writing). Probably the highlight of the issue for me, though, is the character who shows up on the last page, and the way Furman explains his presence. Recommended. $3.99 Official Index to the Marvel Universe: the Avengers, Thor & Captain America #1 - Avengers starts with Avengers #1, Captain America covers the 1940s Captain America Comics and then skips to Captain America #100, as the shared book stories with Iron Man were already indexed. Thor is all Journey into Mystery issues in this volume. There's some bonus "here's how the retcons work" blue boxes after Avengers #4 (Bucky's retconned death) and Cap #109 (expanding on the origin story told there, including stuff like the Marvels Project). Before the Thor stories start, there's a full page blue box outlining Thor's appearances prior to Journey into Mystery #83. Recommended, particularly for the concise explanations of the retcons. $3.99 Iron Man 2 Public Identity #2 (of 3): Marvel - A prequel series to the new movie, ISTR it was solicited as Iron Man 1.5. Diamond claims to have been shorted by Marvel on #1, hence my store (among others) getting no copies of it. Mind you, I'm not sure what needs to have been in #1, since aside from the Howard Stark flashback there's almost nothing here that couldn't have led off a series...perhaps #1 was mostly self-contained. The story feels like it's trying to do three different things at the same time, though. Set up background for the movie that opens this week (mostly in the Howard Stark scenes), establish the new status quo for Iron Man as of the start of the movie (freelance do-gooding) and also tell a more or less self-contained story with beginning, middle and end. I'm not feeling much thematic tie-together, though. I wouldn't be surprised if you could recut the miniseries into three stand-alone issues simply by reshuffling the pages and lose nothing. The whole is not greater than the sum of the parts. On the artistic side, seeing Ron Lim inked by Barry Kitson is...weird. Their approaches to faces, for instance, are almost opposite each other. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #630: Marvel - Wells and Bachalo take over for the Shed arc that was previewed last week. Well, previewed is too strong a word. Teased, perhaps. Information that should have been in #629 is instead first presented in the Bugle Girl recap page at the start, for instance. Anywa, Spider-Man himself doesn't interact with the Shed story at all this issue, instead being tied up by his Girl Troubles (including a reminder that Mr. Negative's whammy on Aunt May hasn't worn off yet). The Shed story is unfortunately riddled with cliches. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Secret Six #21: DC - Catman continues his hunt, with plenty of flashbacks to his childhood, emphasizing his similarities to and differences from Batman. Meanwhile, there's two other major plot threads going on, so the focus does tend to drift a bit. Still, as weak and forgettable as the other stories are, the main Catman thread is strong enough to carry the issue. Recommended. $2.99 Astro City Dark Age Book Four #4 (of 4): DC/Wildstorm - At long last, in an oversized issue, it comes to a conclusion. The last part of the story is normal sized, albeit full of explosions and fire and all sorts of special effects. But then there's an extended epilogue set years later, as it's revealed that the whole story is actually a fictionalized account of events told by a historian/novelist who changed a few details to protect the viewpoint characters (i.e. they're not really named Charles and Royal Williams). So...if the pacing sometimes felt like a coffee table book? Well, it probably was one. The issue ends with a censored version of the original pitch, back when it was going to be a sequel to Marvels. So if it seemed an awful lot like Charles spent time as a SHIELD agent, it's because he did in the original story pitch. :) A decent ending, though. Recommended. $4.99 Gold Digger v3 #117: Antarctic Press - It's the return of the leprechaun ninja pirates! O'Yarrrrr! Ahem. The Shun Leep students (Gar, Luan and Carla) run into the ninja pirates and there's a great deal of exposition. Like, the characters exposit at each other for pages. Normally, Perry's pretty good at working in necessary backstory when minor characters pop up, without it becoming an infodump. But this time, well...big steaming infodump dominating most of the first third of the issue. Good action in the middle, but the plot device at the end is a little tired (although at least there's a little variety in the execution). Mildly recommended. $2.99 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 5/5/10: Iron Man 2 Public Identity #1. Add Gold Digger Peebri's Big Adventure #2, but since the Midtown list didn't have Gold Digger #117 on it, I'm guessing it's a case of random warehouse roulette. Awards: "Bishies in the Bushes" Award to Gold Digger v3 #116 "I Can Haz Kitty, LOL" Award to Transformers Nefarious #3 "A Friendly Reminder That They Were Retconning Cap In The 60s And 70s Too" Award to Official Index to the Marvel Universe: the Avengers, Thor & Captain America (I think I'm going to just call it Official Index v2 from here on out) "The Treads Didn't Do It Much Good, Eh?" Award to Iron Man 2 Public Identity #2 (of 3) "Taking 'Acting Appropriately Stupid (And Horny)' To A New Level" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #630 "Now I Want A DVD Of That Per Degaton Movie" Award to Secret Six #31 "I Just Got The Ganzfeld Joke" Award to Astro City the Dark Ages Book Four #4 (of 4) "Ghosts Have Trouble Blocking View" Award to Gold Digger v3 #117 Dave Van Domelen, "'Tis foreign technology. (What do they call the mechanical golems of Earth?)" "'Robots'...and sometimes 'minivans.' THIS might be of THAT SORT." "It's NOT a 'minivan.'" - Luan, Carla and Gar, Gold Digger v3 #117
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