May 18, 2011

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, A somewhat half-hearted Transformers movie toy street date this year. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Rocketeer Hundred Penny Press Edition (only "recommended" but worth checking out). 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 5/18/11: Shadowland Power Man #4, Transformers Timelines G2 Redux, Gold Digger #127, Transformers Dark of the Moon Rising Storm #3-4, X-Factor #218, Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #2, Transformers Foundation #3, Time Lincoln Jack to the Future. Add Science Dog Special #2. "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. Nothing this week. I got Thor: Tales of Asgard this week, but haven't watched it yet. 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. Nothing this week. 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 Dark of the Moon Foundation #4 (of 4): IDW - On the one hand, missing #3 means I could very well have missed some critical piece of the plot. On the other, I get the feeling that there's not much "there" there. #1-2's flashbacks set up how things weren't like as described in the previous prequel comics and in-movie flashbacks, and now this issue is about breaking all of those toys, killing off or removing all the characters we hadn't seen before, etc. Barber's writing and Griffith's art are both serviceable, but not otherwise very good. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 The Transformers #19: IDW - Well, I guess Rodimus wasn't quite so jobbed as it looked in #13, and he lands in what feels like a Transformers UK setting with a tie-in to some of the old Spotlights. Costa's definitely trying to emulate the UK stuff here, that's for sure. He does a good job of it, at least, and this makes for a welcome break from the "Megatron is so uber you can't do more than amuse him with your struggles" plotline. Recommended. $3.99 The Rocketeer Hundred Penny Press Edition: IDW - This reprints the original Starslayer backup stories, but with all new coloring (in part because simply printing those 1981 stories on modern paper would look like crap). I will say, that back when I was trying to assemble the complete run of Starslayer, those three issues were the most expensive and hardest to come by. :) The storytelling moves at a brisk pace, inspired by Saturday afternoon serials and relatively shallow in terms of sketching out characterization and motivations. It's definitely worth seeking this out to see if you like Stevens's style, especially for only a buck. Recommended. $1.00 Rocketeer Adventures #1: IDW - What's weird about the Rocketeer is that the original source material is so thin. There's the story collected above, and three regular issues (which I never did read). That is IT. One might argue that the live action movie (which I liked, but tastes vary) added more to the Rocketeer's story than the original comics. Yet, to look at the fandom, you'd think there were hundreds of obscure, hard to find indie comics out there that only an elect few had read. Non-Stevens stories done by pros who are fans of Rocketeer both outweigh Stevens's own work and hint at such a "secret canon", a fanon of sorts that I suspect is circulated at cons and was in the old APAs. Now, as much as I like the look and concept (heck, my first City of Heroes character is a female Rocketeer pastiche), I never did get into that fanon, and I think that hurt my appreciation of this comic that I'm theoretically reviewing right now. :) John Cassaday's got the first short story in this collection, which should surprise absolutely no one...the very first time I saw his art it was all about the "jodphurs and pistols" aesthetic that the Rocketeer trades on. It's written as the final part of a serial, but cleanly and simply and anyone who's read the 100 Penny Press edition should be able to follow and enjoy it. Not so much Mike Allred's second story, which left me baffled. I suspect it's meant to be an epilogue to the three canonical issues, but it fails to stand alone. Busiek and Kaluta push the fanon side HARD in a piece from Betty's point of view, as she gets letters from Cliff during WWII and reads between the lines to Rocketeer's wartime adventures (which are well past the canonical era). But because Busiek is deliberately writing from the POV of someone with limited information, it works well for someone who doesn't know the hidden histories, and made for a good ending to the issue. So, two out of three ain't bad. Recommended. $3.99 Booster Gold #44: DC - Okay, so Flashpoint is House of M all over again, every book ends up in an alternate timeline for a few issues, whee. I don't care how it got started, I don't care what the new timeline is about, and I only barely care enough to keep reading Booster Gold through it (he still remembers the old timeline). And to be honest, the news I'm hearing about DC restarting all its books once Flashpoint is over is a good excuse for me to drop pretty much everything...might keep the Legion books, might not. Not, mind you, that I read a lot of DC books anymore, they keep cancelling the ones I like. Now, if this were an isolated thing, just an arc within Booster Gold where he timeslips and has to figure things out, I'd be interested in following along. But it's a Big F***ing Event and I don't really think there will be much of an explanation forthcoming unless I buy the Event Miniseries. Yes, I'm annoyed...nothing ruins a good idea like forcing it upon the entire line. $2.99 [Later note: actually, all the other books are simply spawning tie-in minis set in the alternate universe, I'm told. Shows how many DC books I still read, though.] Legion of Super-Heroes #13: DC - Mostly fight scenes on Colu, a few short bits on other worlds. The whole Blue Flame thing is still in the early stage, so Levitz is throwing out threads without gathering many in yet. Unfortunately, he seems to have gotten into the idea of writing for the trade, and this is definitely that sort of issue. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Hawkeye Blindspot #4 (of 4): Marvel - Well, the ending is a touch contrived and convenient, but McCann does do a decent job of putting his toys back in the box when he's done. The level of flashbackitis is fairly low this time, as one might expect from the final part, but flashbacks are still there. Mildly recommended. $2.99 X-Factor #219: Marvel - Well, still missing #218, but between the What Has Gone Before box and elements within the text, it's not too hard to figure out what happened, and what it bodes for Guido. Also, this issue, we get the shocking secret origin of JJJ's hair! Recommended. $2.99 Captain America First Vengeance #2 (of 4): Marvel - As the fight scene against Hydra continues, we get a bunch more flashbacks. This time it's the origins of the Red Skull, at least as far as 1935. I suspect #3 will finish off Cap's origin and #4 will finish Red Skull's. The parade of artists is a little distracting, but Van Lente does a good job of making short snapshot scenes do the job of fleshing out a lifetime. Recommended. $2.99 Thunderbolts #157: Marvel - Okay, gothy German ghost kaiser is nicely spooky, but his main attack a bit cliched. The B-plot with the new team feels a bit rushed, and then the final scene just sort of pops up out of nowhere as if Parker felt he had to rush to get it over with before Fear Itself impinged on the book. Given that there's a Raft breakout in Fear Itself (something I know from reading Herc #3), T-bolts can't really sit this one out. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Herc #3: Marvel - On the other hand, Pak and Van Lente do a pretty good job working with the Fear Itself event here, probably because they knew it was coming when he started plotting the book. It's perhaps a bit too convenient that all of the Greek-Myth-Monster-Themed escapees from the Raft team up and go against Herc, but one must allow for such things. Especially since it might have ben subconsciously manipulated by the fourth member of their party. A few of the bits start to get tired, but none stays long enough to really wear out its welcome. Recommended. $2.99 Alpha Flight #0.1: Marvel - With a 7 issue miniseries coming next, I have to wonder if it was originally an 8 issue series with #1 repurposed for this Point One gimmick. In any case, this does stand alone reasonably well, introducing all of the Alphans and grounding them in their setting, while also establishing a potential new threat (the face of which is an old antagonist of sorts, but who is almost definitely a figurehead or patsy). Recommended. $2.99 Avengers Academy #14: Marvel - Thanks to the helpful footnote in Spider-Man #660, I know this issue took place before Spider-Man #658, but no such helpful context is provided in this issue, oops. After the Korvac arc, a story like this is necessary, in order to show that the kids still have a lot to learn. It also helps establish that the Sinister Six, while definitely Bad Guys, aren't 90s-style psychos. Recommended. $2.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #661: Marvel - So, after fighting a giant monster, Spider-Man gets to do a day of substitute teaching for the Academy, and the horribly dated elements of his own origin story are fodder for a rather uncomfortable (for him) sequence in the classroom. It's not terribly fair, of course, since most of the things in his origin were fine back in 1963. But elements of Peter Parker's high school years really didn't age well (something the MTV Spider-Man cartoon lampshaded when Peter tried to explain how he went to look for a phone booth and was asked why he didn't use his cell). The backup is a short "typical day in the life" vignette that may not actually fit in with the current continuity visually. Recommended. $3.99 Awards: "And That's Why We Can't Have Nice Things" Award to Transformers Dark of the Moon Foundation #4 (of 4) "Need A Few More Boyz" Award to The Transformers #19 "A Real Page Turner" Award to The Rocketeer Hundred Penny Press Edition "Is That A Rocket Pack Or Are You Happy To See Me?" Award to Rocketeer Adventures #1 "So Many Questions, So Little Caring About The Answers" Award to Booster Gold #44 "Not Exactly Breaking Land-Speed Records" Award to Legion of Super-Heroes #13 "We Get It, Zemo Is A Jerk" Award to Hawkeye Blindspot #4 (of 4) "Pew Pew Mind Bullets" Award to X-Factor #219 "Well, His Face Wasn't ALWAYS In His Chest" Award to Captain America First Vengeance #2 (of 4) "No Subtext In There At All, Nooooo" Award to Thunderbolts #157 "In The Name Of The Moon, I Punish You!" Award to Herc #3 "Skinky" Award to Alpha Flight #0.1 "ACTING!" Award to Avengers Academy #14 "Someone's Been Buying Off Limitations" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #661 Dave Van Domelen, "HEY, INDIAN! What has the regime done for your people? YOU should UNDERSTAND!" "What I UNDERSTAND is the nearly overwhelming desire to PUNCH the HELL out of anyone who yells, 'Hey, Indian' at me." - Citadel and Shaman, Alpha Flight #0.1
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