May 2015

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, Area exploration plans called on account of tornados and toxic leaks. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. In this installment: Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts, Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire, The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, Gold Digger #220-221, Spider-Man 2099 #12, SHIELD #6, Ms. Marvel #15, Astro City #23, Kaijumax #2, Ragnarok #5, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #30, My Little Pony Friends Forever #16, The Transformers #41, Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #41 "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. I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron. I liked it. Not gonna go into more depth than that. Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts: DC - Wow. This is bad. Like, "writer resented working on an extended toy ad" bad. It's set in The Future for no readily apparent reason other than "it explains all the robot animals packaged with the toys". Loaded with idiot plot elements, costume changes every so often to justify more toys, dialogue that feels like it comes from a convention tabletop RPG session, etc. It has all the plot logic of kids playing with action figures, without the charm of actually being kids playing with action figures. Oh, and the version I got came with a free animal robot toy that doesn't look like the character model in the movie. The bonus features include some of the DC Nation shorts (the Batman of Shanghai ones, Justice League of Animals, a Plastic Man one) and a couple of Brave and the Bold episodes, and a 13 minute featurette on Penguin's history. Basically, though, avoid this turkey unless seeking out deliberately bad cartoons. $15-25 depending on store and format. 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. Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire: - This month, the new arc started running daily online, with the business model including things like Kickstarters to print hardcover collections, much as Girl Genius has been doing successfully for a while now. The story picks up with the Action Scientists left behind by the exploding Time Bomb, and then segues to a character from a FCBD story a few years later who is about to get caught up in Action Science again. As a bonus, Dr. Dinosaur's Amazing Dino Facts run below the strip (and can also be gound as amazingdinofacts on Tumblr). Bookmark this. Kinda disappointed that none of my digital-only books have come out lately. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy: Hill and Wang - Kevin Cannon uses a style slightly more cartoony than he had on Crater XV, but it works well with Michael Patton's scripting. Heraclitus takes the reader on a very (admittedly) shallow tour of philosophy, with an organization that is more thematic than historical, although within each theme it tends to follow the historical path. While I'd quibble with some of the presentation (especially the casting of skepticism as dogmatic naysaying, which is woefully incorrect and even implicitly backed off from later in the book), it makes a good complement to Ryan and Dunleavy's Action Philosophers on my shelf. Recommended. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: Pantheon Books - This is in part a collection of a webcomic. Like many such, it adds bonus material in the form of footnotes explaining or expanding on the strips. But author Sydney Padua takes it further, by adding endnotes to the footnotes... there are so many notes that keeping them all tied to each page would horribly break any sense of narrative flow. This is some dense, Jess-Nevins- level stuff. After the "origin story" strip, Padua switched to more of an infinite canvas style, which allows for more notes to be crammed in between panels when necessary, reducing the need for endnotes. Once in a while, Queen Victoria has to take a direct hand when the notes get out of control, however. (And then they come back with a vengeance in the Alice in Wonderland homage.) In short, it's a dense read, but very worthwhile. You can get most of the content at the website,, but profusion of notes and all it's easier to read in collected form. Strongly recommended. $28.95 cover price, cheaper at online booksellers. Note: Atomic Robo is reprinting all nine volumes so far as hardcovers via Kickstarter. While it's not pulling the insane levels of the Tesladyne Employee Handbook, it has more than met goal and unlocked some nice stretches. It runs out one week from today (May 29, 2015). Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Gold Digger #220-221: Antarctic Press - #220 is an amusing bit of fluff that stops being quite as amusing if you stop to think about the fact that the antagonist is a serial rapist and murderer assisted by her army of children. I chuckled while reading it, but when going back to review it felt that I probably shouldn't have. Neutral. #221 picks up in the aftermath, getting back to the mission that kicked off #220 before being derailed. The uberplot with Dreadwing is kicking back into gear, and this is the part of the arc where the heroes get utterly jobbed. Mildly recommended. Both issues $3.99 Spider-Man 2099 #12: Marvel - And, plagued by crossovers and ended by an event, the latest Spider-Man 2099 title comes to an end. Kinda throttled in the crib. Can't say I'll really miss it, except in the abstract. Neutral. $3.99 SHIELD #6: Marvel - This wraps up the first arc with a bit of mindless violence. Well, Mindless One violence. Waid is quite good at capturing the tone of Coulson's dialogue, and frankly that's the main draw of the book. I do like the new SHIELD magic analyst, though. Renaud's art is competent, but does have that Licensed Comic feel, where the art prioritizes making the licensed character faces look right, but is otherwise somewhat bland. Recommended. $3.99 Ms. Marvel #15: Marvel - The cover is REALLY misleading, and almost feels like it should have been the cover to #13. Anyway, the Inhuman intrigue plot wraps up pretty well, and if this were the last issue before Secret Wars cancellation it would have been a pretty good ending. But lo, the book is not cancelled for the duration! Kamala is getting an extended "Last Days" arc that will run during Secret Wars, and I presume it will be followed by her adjusting to the post-Secret Wars New Normal (which won't have to change too much, I expect). Oh, and while Miyazawa's art is a little tame compared to Alphona's, it is improving in that regard. Recommended. $2.99 Astro City #23: DC/Vertigo - There is a hidden gorilla city in the Astro City universe, because a Silver Age homage setting isn't complete without a hidden gorilla city, yes? This arc gets back to another recurring Astro City theme, that of the everyday average joe living in a fantastic world. And rather than being too old, this Joe is Young. (pause to duck hurled produce) Yes, an everyday average gorilla has come to Astro City to try to break into music as a drummer. But because even in Astro City a talking gorilla is going to get noticed, he has to put up with slightly more craziness than your usual aspiring drummer. Some ask nicely and take no for an answer, some don't, but can he pursue his dream when he's chased by his nightmares? Okay, got a little overdramatic there, but it's still not a great situation for Sticks the drummer. Recommended. $3.99 Kaijumax #2: Oni Press - No talking gorilla drummers here, although I might not have looked hard enough at the backgrounds. While Electrogor gets some screen time this issue, it's mostly about Gupta, corrupt prison guard and proof that whatever requirements the not-Ultraman process has, upstanding ethical purity ain't one of 'em. And what would a prison drama be without a guard who's on the take? Recommended. $3.99 Ragnarok #5: IDW - It's odd how quiet and contemplative this feels, despite having plenty of lightning and hammer-smashing. I suppose when your protagonist is nearly dead and everyone he's ever loved is extremely dead, that throws a damper over matters. Simonson is definitely getting into the groove now, though, and the promising parts of early issues are paying off. Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #30: IDW - Ugh. I wasn't even able to make myself read the whole thing. A horrible shaggy dog sort of story hinging on Twilight Sparkle being uncharacteristically short on information, with a resolution I could see coming on page 6 but which has nonetheless been shoved off to #31. Avoid. My Little Pony Friends Forever #16: IDW - The friends in this case are Diamond Tiara and Silver might think of this as an unofficial FIENDship is Magic #6. Told from the perspective of Diamond, it tries to cast the bratty duo in a positive light, but reality (and the CMC's run of unusually good luck) keeps them firmly on the villainous side. In a good subversion of tropes, the fact that the good ponies use the power of friendship doesn't keep the villains from victory. And at the end, the villains are cast as slightly sympathetic after all, because sometimes victory isn't the same as winning. Recommended. $3.99 The Transformers #41: IDW - Part 4 of Combiner Wars. Prowl explains his "Save the universe from the Cybertronians" ideas, which would be more interesting if Brainstorm hadn't beaten him to it over in MtMtE and done it ina more interesting way (and with better art). Meanwhile, Ironhide, Mirage, and Sunstreaker discuss how similar some of their personal plotlines have been over the years, and maybe it's something other than writers getting in a rut. The whole thing plays like a Xanatos Gambit that's come off the rails and is heading for Xanatos Roulette territory, but at least it's getting the toys out there. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #41: IDW - Speaking about writers getting into a rut, Roberts may be a little too in love with the "there's a monster on board" plotline. Fortunately, that plot is only background most of the time, and the bulk of the issue is explortation of interpersonal relationships as usual. We've seen a lot of odd friendships and romances in this book, but most of them have been positive or at worst awkward. This issue gives us a pretty toxic friendship, where you have two good people who are friends, but they're not really good for each other. And as often happens in such relationships, it's far worse for one than the other (in fact, one may not even realize that anything's going badly). Oh, we've seen some toxic relationships before...Getaway and pretty much anyone else, for instance. My Giant Robot: Friendship is Problematic. Heh. And yes, Nautica is an adorkable purple nerd. Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "Actually, you've been sulking in your quarters ever since we went back in time and created you and YES I'm aware how that sounds." - Rodimus, TF:MtMtE #41
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