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Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et CeteraIntermittent 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 month. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants My summer course didn't get cancelled for low enrollment this time. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Nothing this month. In this installment: Justice League X RWBY Superheroes & Huntsmen Part One, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Asadora vol 3-6, Dinosaur Sanctuary vol 1-2, Go Go Loser Ranger! vol 4, 22-26, The Legend of Korra: Patterns in Time, The Throne of Fire, Moomin the Complete Tove Janssen Strip vol 1-2 (of 10), FCBD Mech Cadets, Clark & Lex and Fann Club: Batman Squad FCBD Special Edition 2023, Girl Taking Over: A Lois Lane Story FCBD Preview, Fantastic Four #6, Moon Knight #22-3, Black Adam #10 (of 12), Superman: Lost #3 (of 10), Astro Bots #1, Saturday Morning Adventures Dungeons & Dragons #1-2, Gargoyles #5, Draculina Blood Simple #3 (of 6). Mark Crilley's Lost In Taiwan would be in this month's column, but no stores in my area stocked it so I'm waiting on an online order. "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. Justice League X RWBY Super Heroes & Huntsmen Part One: DC/WB - While DC has a long history of multiple continuities, RWBY really only has the one (leaving aside the online comic and print comic crossovers with the Justice League, which are not related to this movie in any way that I can tell). So they had to be a little coy about where this fits into the series, and the plot device they used to put the two teams together managed to pull that off pretty well. Like, it has to happen after Pyrrha's death, but the rest is kinda vague and subject to swiss cheese memories (e.g. it probably happens before the fall of Atlas in the last season I bothered to watch, but not necessarily). Anyway, it's a mostly self-contained crossover mystery in which the RWBY+ characters have swiss cheese memory and the Justice Leaguers have it even worse because they don't even know about the world they're in and they're teenagers for some reason, with powers and abilities that don't quite match what they vaguely recall having (as opposed to the first comic crossover, where they were native analogues rather than visitors). The main villain is reasonably well foreshadowed, there's something for everyone to do, and the heroes win out in the end...but since it's very clearly labeled Part One there's obviously some danglers of the, "But who was the other villain in the alliance mentioned by the defeated villain?" variety. The animation is still a little wooden, but it's come a long way since the early seasons of RWBY, although maybe not as fluid as the Ultraman CG series. Recommended. Price varies by store and format, probably available on whatever DC's preferred streaming service is called this week. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania: Marvel Studios - Okay, the trailers got me, weaving together bits of different scenes to create a deceptive view of the story. Thing is, the trailers almost convinced me to NOT see this movie, because they made it look like they were going back to the "Parent will willingly screw up everything for the sake of their kid(s)," well. Fortunately, while Family Ties was a major theme and it was leveraged for plot reasons, it wasn't a repeat of the character assassination of Wanda. Fun strangeness, family bickering but never over the top or in lieu of a sensible plot, and I even liked how they brought MODOK into the MCU. The "deleted scenes" were a bit of a disappointment, being just non-deleted scenes with the CG not replacing a mocap actor. One of the short featurettes indicated that there were a LOT of unused lines from Bill Murray, I'd have much preferred to see those as deleted scenes. Recommended. Price varies by store and format (I got BluRay), also streaming on Disney+. Shazam! Fury of the Gods: DC/WB - Okay, THIS might be the last live action movie in the Snyder-ish-verse? Unlike Batwoman, it didn't get canned in the Night of Long Knives last summer. I wasn't sure about picking it up, partly because the reviews from people who saw it in theaters tended to be lukewarm, and partly because Zach Levi has reportedly been a poor role model lately (the Crisp Rat effect), but I ended up getting it and watching it. Overall I liked it, but the first half hour or so was a bit rough to get through, particularly the cringe high school sitcom humor (which somehow felt not as bad in the first movie). Oh, and the mid- and post-credits scenes set up two different sequels, no clue if either will get made now. One advantage the Shazam movies have in surviving the reorg is that they're not really tied to any particular events of the other DCCU movies (they're barely tied to the actors used). So if they decide to keep Shazam around, at worst they'd have not-Captain-Marvel comment on how someone looks different and then say something about their hairstyle or something being the reason. Anyway, most of the Marvel Family got something to do, but it was mostly "Billy is neurotic about losing his family" and "Freddy needs his own life out from under Billy's codependency." And gods being furious, of course. Mildly recommended, felt like it'd have worked better as a streaming series but the Big Name Actors would have made that difficult. Price varies by store and format, definitely streaming somewhere. Digital Content: Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so (such as a lack of regular comics), I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will generally be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. Nothing this month. I was kinda hoping that Beach WZRD #3 would be released, since it started serializing online this month, but I guess the creator didn't have the time or spoons to assemble it properly. Watch it show up the day after I post this. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Asadora vol 3-6: Viz (Viz Signature) - All four of these volumes take place over a relatively short period before and during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The government is relying on Asa's flying company to deniably scout out and if necessary deal with the mysterious kaiju, because sending in the JSDF would at best cancel the Olympics and at worst tempt America to nuke the kaiju. On a stormy night off the coast of Enoshima Island, Asa finally confronts the monster, while at about the same time her two best friends from high school each nearly get raped in different parts of town...ah, parallel symbolism and stuff. A recurring, hit-you-over-the-head theme of these volumes is how the protagonists are just driven by a crushing sense of responsibility for others. Like, Peter Parker would tell them to relax a bit. Of course, to be willing to pursue a kaiju in a civilian monoplane on behalf of a shadowy government agency one does need to have one hell of an exploitable hook. On a lighter note, the kaiju is repeatedly portrayed in ways that suggest a guy in a rubber suit, complete with a zipper. The characters play it totally straight (e.g. the "guy on all fours" posture is taken as a terrifying possibility of the monster maybe being able to stand up, rather than drawing comparison to pantomime critters), though. Recommended. $14.99/$19.99Cn/#10.00UK each (rated Older Teen, most likely because of the themes of rape and sex work) Dinosaur Sanctuary vol 1-2: Seven Seas Entertainment - The premise is that during the pulp era a Lost Island with dinosaurs was discovered, leading to zoos featuring dinos. Genetic engineering allowed for the creation of species that were not living on the island, but the big dino fad died down after a fatal incident at a smaller zoo on Enoshima Island, which I guess is just a magnet for megafauna? An idealistic young dinokeeper with a family connection to the incident starts work at Enoshima Dinoland, and volume 1 focuses on her orientation and being shown around the place. Volume 2 gets more into the backstory and attempts to turn around the fortunes of the struggling park. While there's dinosaurs, it's more of a Zoo Drama than a Jurassic Park riff...less a disaster movie waiting to happen and more of a workplace drama that if anything is milder than some of the real world stuff that happens at zoos (seriously, the main accrediting organization for U.S. zoos is horrible in so many ways, the worst people so far in Dinosaur Sanctuary are not too bad by comparison). In many ways, this is a story about real world zoos...the importance of conservation and the dangers of any wild animal even a captive one...but with dinosaurs as a hook for the reader. It also has a scientific advisor who ends each chapter with a text piece generally related to the story. Recommended. $13.99/$17.99Cn (rated 13+, probably for the implied dino violence) Go Go Loser Ranger! vol 4: Kodansha - This entire volume is the final exam fight for a shot at joining one of the Color Squads, an exam that those administering it admit amongst themselves is unlikely to have anyone pass. After all, there's no REAL monsters anymore, the Sunday fights are staged, and it's not like they need fresh blood to replace squaddies injured or killed in action. On some level, most of the cadets seem to realize this too, but the ones who have made it this far are driven by motives that overcome rationality. To wit, they're mostly obsessed in one way or another, or just stupid. Okay, only one of them is really just stupid. But none of them is very wise. The focus does sometimes wander off Hunter D to get into the heads of other cadets or even squad members, but the driver of the plot is Hunter D's increasingly desperate attempts to win a game he doesn't even really understand. Recommended. $10.99/$14.99Cn (rated 13+ for violence, even if most of the dismemberment is temporary) 22-26: Viz Media/Shonen Jump - This is a collection of unrelated short pieces by the creator of Chainsaw Man, done before starting that series. Note, while the nudity in Chainsaw Man is pretty much Barbie Doll'ed, it's a bit more detailed here, so be careful where you are while reading it. There's short explanations for each tale, often involving the creator being dared to do something out of his usual ambit and rising (or sinking?) to the challenge. The cover story, "Nayuta of the Prophecy," does seem to have some proto-Chainsaw Man elements to it. An interesting if sometimes disjointed read (challenge writing can be like that), and not recommended if gore bothers you (no human gore this time, but a lot of dead animals in the Nayuta story). $9.99/$12.99Cn (rated Older Teen for reasons already discussed) The Legend of Korra: Patterns in Time - an Anthology: Dark Horse Comics - This was the book teased by 2022's FCBD offering, a bunch of short stories ranging from Tenzin's youth to more or less the "present" of the Korra timeline. No strong theme ties them together, although the Airbenders get a bit more time than the others (specifically Meelo), they're just the sort of thing that might get done as backup stories if the Avatar comics were published like 1970s Marvel/DC books instead of coming out solely in trade format. Some of the ideas felt like they needed more space, others like they'd been stretched out, only a few got Just Right. Mildly recommended. $12.99/$17.50Cn The Throne of Fire: Disney Hyperion - I found this at Ollie's for $3 and figured I'd see if it was comprehensible on its own, being as it is the second book of the series. Adapter Orpheus Collar does a good job of making sure it works as a first exposure, although compressing an entire novel into a single about-100-page (no page numbers) graphic novel means that a lot of scenes get the montage treatment. Did I get my $3 worth? I suppose. Does it make me want to read more of Riordan's takes on mythology? Eh, no more and no less than before I read this. I suppose if you're curious about something other than the Percy Jackson stuff, and you can find this for $3, it's worth the time to read. Moomin: the Complete Tove Janssen Comic Strip vol 1-2: Drawn & Quarterly - Before getting into the actual content, I do have two objections to how this collection was put together. One, there's no volume information on the outside, at all. You have to open it up and page through a bit to find out which of the ten volumes each is. Secondly, and more substantively, there is zero indication anywhere I could find that the strip started in 1954 (according to Wikipedia). All the copyright info is for the printings of these volumes (starting in 2006), and there's absolutely no introduction or discussion. If you don't know anything about the history of the strip or its creator...this book will not help you find out. Maybe the bigger 2-megavolume version has more info, but this feels like a bare bones $1 DVD of the sort grocery stores used to carry in the 00s, albeit of better physical quality. And while it claims to be the complete strips, Wikipedia tells me there was a late 40s strip that didn't quite take off, and is considered a sort of "chapter zero" for the 1954 strip. Anyway, the fact that there was about a decade's worth of Moomintroll stuff in media before the British-market strip collected in these volumes even started helps explain the somewhat "dropped into the middle" feeling I got...readers were likely expected to be a little familiar with Moomin and his friends already. Or Janssen just didn't care about whether readers felt at sea, that seems likely too, since "at sea" is a fairly common mood here. Anyway, it's weirdly amusing if something of a product of its era. I enjoyed it well enough, but don't feel a burning desire to pick up the remaining volumes...might just leave it as a thing to get from convention vendors. $25 per volume. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? (And not all of them come out monthly, or on a regular schedule in general, so I can't just call this section "Monthlies" or even "Periodicals" as that implies a regular period.) Unlike most months, this has a fair number of May comics, between my FCBD acquisitions and the fact my current store got behind on mail orders due to FCBD so I got about half of May from them in May. FCBD Mech Cadets: Kaboom - This is a reprint of Mech Cadet Yu vol 1 #1, in anticipation of an upcoming Netflix show. It feels like a sort of cross between Johnny Sokko and Ultraman, with giant robots arriving from space and bonding with kids. By the time the story starts, the Mech Cadets program has become very formalized, with elite students competing for the right to be among those chosen to bond. Yu is not elite. He's not even a cadet, his mom works in janitorial at the Mech Cadet academy. Of course, even if the comic hadn't originally been called Mech Cadet Yu, it's obvious that this is going to be one of those "someone who wasn't supposed to bond with the plot device stumbles into doing so" stories that goes back at least as far as the Sword in the Stone. This, of course, puts a lot of noses out of joint and sets up the obvious initial conflicts within the Mech Cadets between Yu the Undeserving and the Candidates who Worked For It. I was interested enough to put the three trades on my shopping list, and ended up putting them on the same order as Lost in Taiwan. Clark & Lex and Fann Club: Batman Squad FCBD Special Edition 2023: DC - Two short previews of upcoming non-continuity GNs. The first has Clark having won a competition for a LexCorp thing that will let him spend the summer in Metropolis, and as the title implies he meets Lex Luthor, who entered the same contest under an assumed name in order to prove he's not just his father's son. The preview is mostly about Clark's nerves and Lex casually being filthy rich and almost blinded by his own privilege, and nothing about it really gets me interested in the full book. Fann Club is trying to get in on the Captain Underpants sort of niche, I think, it didn't interest me at all. Girl Taking Over: a Lois Lane Story: DC - A preview chapter of another upcoming non-continuity GN. Lois Lane has her first real taste of Metropolis, but has to fight both a dying media landscape and her own overbearing Asian mother. Granted, this is all setting up the obstacles that the story will be about overcoming, and no payoff, but I'm not really interested in whatever the payoff might be. Fantastic Four #6: Marvel - Reed realizes the problem caused last issue, the Four find a solution, and in doing so piss off even more people and the government finally realizes that they might be capable of ending life on Earth. I'd have thought that point became obvious within a year of their origin story. Otherwise, this story reads like something that would have worked best as a one-page "flashback" told inside a more engaging tale, rather than being something to flesh out to an entire issue. Mildly recommended, and while it's getting clear what North wants to do with the book, I am less and less convinced I want to read that. $3.99 Moon Knight #22-23: Marvel - MacKay manages to make what look on the surface like one-off stories (one a focus on Tigra, the other a sort of semi-crossover event thing with Venom) tie into the ongoing plotline. #22 is told from Tigra's POV complete with copious narration captions (since thought bubbles are passe or something), and a pretty good character study as well as a catch-up on some of the crap she's been put through in crossovers. #23 is more of a traditional "heroes team up and go beat up bad guys" deal, although with Moon Knight explaining himself to the new Venom (I guess I missed the whole passing of the Klyntar) it's helpful to any readers lured in by the Venom appearance. #22 is recommended, #23 is mildly recommended. $3.99 each. Black Adam #10 (of 12): DC - The layers of plot and timelines get really thick, and at least one of the villains doesn't even wanna BE there. I may need to go back and sit down to read #7-12 in a single sitting to figure things out, because there's players who just sort of pop in as if they're Norm on Cheers and everyone knows them. Some good individual scenes, but I'm having trouble following the overall story, and I'm USED TO Priest's storytelling style. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Superman Lost #3 (of 10): DC - This issue is largely Priest putting a lampshade on the casual way the JL members seem to jaunt about the universe, while also bringing back some space stuff that hasn't been used a lot lately (AFAIK) and a clever homage to a classic 70s Superman arc. As usual, since I'm in the credits I'm not going to make a recommendation one way or the other. $4.99 Astro Bots #1: Whatnot Publishing - This is a comic released to promote a toy line. I've you've never heard of it, then you're probably not deep into the world of prestige toy robot lines and Transformers riffs. I only knew about it because Simon Furman's writing it, and many in Transformers fandom still wanna talk about him. For me, the bloom came off that rose a while back, and I wasn't planning to get this, but it was on the shelf on FCBD and I figured I'd buy it so I wasn't just coming in for free comics. Don't expect a review of #2 from me, though...I just wasn't really impressed by any aspect of this. It has potential, sure, but it also looks like it's teetering on the edge of a number of tired cliches. If it gets decent buzz going forwards, I might pick up the trade collection of the first arc/miniseries. Neutral. $3.99 (And no, I'm not interested in the $60 robot toys either.) Saturday Morning Adventures Dungeons and Dragons #1-2: IDW - Definitely a limited series, but IDW doesn't actually mention that on the actual comics. So, this features the characters from the 80s D&D cartoon, retconning them into having explicitly and knowingly being in the Forgotten Realms. Not that they stay there, ending up in Waterdeep by the end of the first issue. Is Waterdeep in the Forgotten Realms? The comic doesn't say, and I don't care enough to check. I haven't really been into the official D&D settings since the mid-80s. Anyway, the entire first issue feels like it would have taken place in the teaser before the opening credits, pacing-wise. The art's okay, and it's not too obviously padded out, it's just...running fight and they get dropped in a new location and meet someone. Issue two, that someone explains more or less what's up, they agree to help, and get dropped somewhere else, cliffhanger. The art is okay, it doesn't try to hew to the cartoon's style but does keep everyone recognizable, a lot of extreme foreshortening views as if this were being filmed in 3D. Mildly recommended. $3.99 each. Gargoyles #5: Dynamite - Um, okay? It feels like Weisman really would rather write the mob war plotline, with the actual gargoyles just sort of getting in the way. It also keeps feeling like we're an issue or two away from the real story starting, as I've noted before. If FF #6 would have worked better as a flashback page, the entire Gargoyles series so far would have worked better as an OHOTMU-style guidebook. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Draculina Blood Simple #3 (of 6): Dynamite - Two of the main threads (the formerly joined Draculinas, and Mother Severest leading Don't Call Me Draculina around) join up, although the whole angel versus demon gang war is still lurking around in the background. This is also the turning point in the story in which the reader is cued in on why Draculina is being so seemingly stupid (not gonna say which one, they all got issues). Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "SO THERE'S NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT! PROBABLY...!" - Kenji, 22-26 "Nayuta of the Prophecy"
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