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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 week. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Oops, forgot to put something here in the version I posted to Usenet. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Empowered and the Soldier of Love #3 (of 3). In this installment: Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 (movie), Teen Titans: the Judas Contract (DVD), DC Lego SuperHero Girls (TV), DC SuperHero Girls: Intergalactic Games (DVD), Schick Hydrobot and the Transformers, Stitched vol 1, FCBD books (DC SuperHero Girls Summer Olympus preview, Time Shifters preview, Captain Canuck Year One #1, the Tick), Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #19, Ms. Marvel v2 #18, Deathstroke #18-19, Teen Titans Lazarus Contract Special #1, Astro City #44, The Flintstones #11, Future Quest #12 (of 12), Invader Zim #19, Real Science Adventures #1-2, My Little Pony Legends of Magic #2, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #53-54, Optimus Prime #7, Transformers Till All Are One #9-10, Transformers Lost Light #5, Empowered and the Soldier of Love #3 (of 3). Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Cleared it out this time, either by getting the books or giving up hope. "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. Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2: Marvel - Well, I enjoyed it. It hammered on some of the themes a little hard at times, and it had the feeling of trying to cram in a few too many subplots (like, yes, they needed an external threat to overcome any misgivings they may have had about Kurt Russell's character, but I think it went a bit overboard time-wise). But definitely worth the time and money. Recommended. Teen Titans: the Judas Contact: DC/WB - In the same continuity as other recent DC direct to video releases, with Damian Wayne as Robin being sent to join the Titans as a way to give him more people skills, and Deathstroke as Ra's al Ghul's treasonous lieutenant. So there's a lot of moving parts that had to be shifted around to make the story work, but the core of it is still intact...mostly. But that would be a spoiler or three. It's definitely not the original story, but rather as close as this alternate continuity can get. There's been some complaints about the sex jokes, most of which were a running gag in which Starfire still doesn't quite get modern puritanical attitudes and speaks frankly among friends, but the "Terra/Deathstroke" creepiness is really no worse than in the original. (If anything, this version makes Terra's side a lot more undestandable and portrays Slade more as someone willing to string her along as leverage than a cradle-robber as in the original comics.) The pacing was pretty good, and if the subplots felt like they were getting out of hand initially, at least it all tied together in the end. Recommended. $15-25 depending on format, store, and whether you get the version with the Blue Beetle statuette. DC Lego SuperHero Girls: DC/WB - I watched this on Boomerang. It was not very good on any level. It lacked almost all of the wit of the regular DC Lego Superhero shows, and seemed to have been dumbed down and defanged. Avoid. DC SuperHero Girls Intergalactic Games: DC/WB - I got this more out of inertia than any expectation that things will recapture the quality of the original movie (I have hopes that Lauren Faust's presence as the new show- runner will turn it around next year, though). I was not disappointed in that I was right to expect to be disappointed. This really would have worked better as a three episode TV story, because it kept resolving the conflict and then dropping in a new "real" conflict, which made the last half hour a tedious slog of "Wait, here's the real real real threat!" Also, I've come to realize that I'm sick and tired of Starfire's cutesy broken English. As long as she's the only Tamaranian in the story, it's tolerable, but as soon as Blackfire shows up (which she does) speaking perfect idiomatic English (which she always does), it makes it pretty clear that Starfire has some sort of learning disability and has been the butt of "r-word" jokes all along. I'm trying to think of something good about this movie, but it's all either trite or insulting. (Aside: Garryn Bek shows up, sort of, but it's really just recycling his name and hairstyle for a generic stuffy diplomat character.) Avoid. 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. Schick Hydrobot and the Transformers: A New Friend One-Shot: IDW - Apparently the super-advanced hydro strip technology in Schick Hydro can create robotic life without needing the AllSpark. John Barber writes this movieverse ad comic, and it's okay. The usual "(Product) has such advanced technology that the bad guys must possess it!" thing also seen in the recent Hanes superhero comic, but without the total insanity of the DC KFC comics. Neither painful to read nor particularly worth seeking out for the sake of quality...I suppose there's room for a sequel starring the female Hydro robo. Unresolved dangler: what happens to the robot when his owner replaces the razor part? Available free online, but you'll need an IDW account: www.idwpublishing.com/product/schick-hydrobot-the-transformers-one-shot/ Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Stitched vol 1: Charmz (Papercutz) - So, Papercutz is launching a line aimed at tween girls, just as DC did a while back. And as with that line, Aaron Alexovich is there on the art. Mariah McCourt is the writer, in what's basically a "cute Universal monsters" setting. The main protagonist is a stiched-together girl (Frankenstein's Monster) who has no personal memories save for the occasional flashback, and figuring out her past is going to be the main metaplot of the series. The subtitle "The Firat Day of the Rest of her Life" is not quite accurate...more like the first two days. :) It's all about meeting the supporting cast and establishing the mysteries. Pretty light and fluffy, but not terribly compelling. Mildly recommended. $9.99/$13.99Cn Free Comic Book Day 2017: My store allowed four picks, and was already out of the Marvel ones by the time I got there (not that I was looking forward to them), so here's what I grabbed. DC SuperHero GirlsFCBD 2017: DC - Like last year, this is the first chapter of the next graphic novel release, "Summer Olympus". Wonder Woman has the opportunity to spend summer break in Olympus, and most of this chapter involves trying to find friends willing to come along. Nothing really inspires me to pick up the GN, though...Fontana really feels like she's spinning her wheels after the strong series start. Time Shifters: Graphix/Scholastic - Another chapter 1 deal. Kid stumbles into a time-travel conflict between two weird groups and gets shanghaied into helping the group that doesn't look like versions of movie monsters, so they're probably the good guys. Didn't interest me in reading more. Captain Canuck Year One Book 1 of 3: Chapterhouse - Captain Canuck is one of those characters I've been aware of for decades, but never actually read. This isn't his origin story, that's been told in another book from this publisher. Rather, it's how he went from getting powers to becoming a superhero, so he starts with no costume and no particular driving need to do the hero thing (he's a mercenary in Afghanistan, starting to see that he's Part Of The Problem). Moderately interesting, but not enough to get me to order the series. The Tick: Free Comic Book Day 2017: NEC - The lead story with a birthday party was pretty good, but the months-too-late and much-too-lame political parody second story was a waste of paper. About the only good thing about it was that the Red Scare was the voice of reason. It seems to mostly be promoting collections of previous series, rather than any new launches this year, so I guess it's not really trying to get me to buy anything? Just keeping the Tick in the public eye until the Amazon series can rev up, I guess. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #19: Marvel - What better way to keep Luna out of Secret Empire than to send her out into space? It also reduces the amount of time spent on awkward questions like, "If everyone knows Luna is a superhero genius with a mutant T.rex as a sidekick, why is she still in regular public school?" I mean, at the very least you'd think they'd send her to the local mad science school seen in Ms. Marvel's science fair arc. Anyway, she goes looking for someone on the Moon, and sort of does. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Ms. Marvel v2 #18: Marvel - Meanwhile, in Wakanda.... Kamala isn't actually in this issue, cover notwithstanding. It's Bruno and his roommate engaged in Wacky Hijinks in Wakanda. Recommended. $3.99 Deathstroke #18: DC - The end of Twilight, but not the end of the storyline. Loads of confrontation on personal issues, mostly verbal but some fisticuffs. Recommended. $3.99 Deathstroke #19: DC - Based on the end page of #18, I was expecting a Titans guest appearance. I was NOT expecting to find myself dropped into part three of a crossover with the two Titans books, and ending in Titans Annual. So, storywise this is almost a complete writeoff, and the art was pretty badly done in a storytelling sense. (Seriously, if you have someone time-travel, it needs to actually look like something happened.) I did go back and page through part 1 of the crossover, BTW, but there was no real resolution to Deathstroke #18...just jump ahead to a scene referring back to events that didn't happen on-panel. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Teen Titans Lazarus Contract Special #1: DC - AKA Deathstroke Annual #1, given that Priest writes it and it's pretty Deathstroke-focused. (Originally solicited as Titans Annual #1, and listing someone else as main writer.) Nothing like a crossover to highlight the redundancies between the Titans and Teen Titans teams. Definitely a "Damn It, Barry!" plot, but with Slade playing the part of the reckless idiot messing with time in order to save family. For all that he's a five-steps-ahead schemer, Slade has his weaknesses, and Wintergreen gets a few panels to explain why he hasn't been acting totally out of character. :) Mildly recommended. $4.99 Astro City #44: DC/Vertigo - Dial "M" for Monkey meets the Legion of Super-Pets. Sunshrike and Nightengale in 1982 acquire a super-pet that they don't realize is super, resulting in a mostly wordless story in which super-pets team up to save the day. Recommended. $3.99 Hanna-Barbera The Flintstones #11: DC - The social ill this time is the dreaded Neighborhood Association, both on a local level (Fred and Barney get new neighbors) and the cosmic (Gazoo deals with an interplanetary version that's deciding whether Earth would make a good neighbor). While the satire is as broad as usual, Russell doesn't make it entirely one-sided, and both Neighborhood Associations have valid points...just an overly rigid way of dealing with 'em. Recommended. $3.99 Hanna-Barbera Future Quest #12 (of 12): DC - Well, it was probably inevitable who would end up saving the day, but Parker did a good job of setting up why it had to be them and having it all hang together plausibly. If I have a complaint about the resolution, it's that it's so neatly done that it feels kinda anticlimactic. Mildly recommended in isolation, but if you're waiting for the trade, that's recommended. $3.99 Invader Zim #19: Oni - In order to support a spur of the moment lie (and not even his own lie, really), Zim has to build a zoo. Based on what GIR thinks Earth animals are like. So...yeah. Pretty much what you'd expect based on that premise. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Real Science Adventures #1-2 (of something): IDW - This series prints the She-Devils story that wrapped up on atomic-robo.com a while back, with a backup of the Sparrow feature that's just finishing in fits and starts. Decent enough stories, but both really distract me with the art. The She-Devils story looks like it was drawn exclusively with a fine-point Sharpie with some black fills added by computer. And the Sparrow art gives everyone big heads so they look like kindergarten kids playing dress-up. Neutral. $3.99 My Little Pony Legends of Magic #2: IDW - My main complaint about #1 was that by treading on material likely to be covered eventually in the show, they risked being contradicted. So I was glad to see them fleshing out stuff that's totally non-show, the kind of worldbuilding that will neither be confirmed nor denied. Sunburst finds an obscure tale of Rockhoof, an ancient Earth Pony legend from before Luna's time. Very much a nordic themed story, down to Rockhoof's Valknut (triangle knot) cutie mark. The story is an interesting counterpart to Rainbow Dash's overall arc, with Rockhoof working super hard to join what he considered an elite group...but in his case, the group is a lot less elite than he thought, and he lets his personal standards slide because he can (and because of slacker teammates). In proper MLP fashion, though, the solution to the problem at the end isn't "be tougher and stronger than anyone" (although he does have to get his act together), it's about cleverness and compassion. Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #53: IDW - The bookslayer arc wraps up, and our mystery antagonist turns out to be stuck in a fairly standard fantasy trope, complete with doing exactly the wrong thing to try to get out of it. It feels to me that Asmus was writing down to the audience, plus trying too hard to give everyone something to do in what would have worked better as a focused story with a smaller cast. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #54: IDW - In an unusual turn, they did a story take explicitly takes place behind the scenes of a recent episode. Specifically, showing what was going on back at the veterinary clinic while Fluttershy was occupied with the building of the sanctuary in "Fluttershy Leans In". Light and fluffy, with Fosgitt on art. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 Optimus Prime #7: IDW - Tramontano, who previously did some issues of Windblade v2, takes over from Zama and shift is pretty extreme. On the one hand, it's a lot easier to follow the art (she does her own colors and eschews the OW MY EYES aesthetic of previous issues), but on the other her style is still pretty "how to draw Manga" basic in a lot of ways. Prime with his faceplate down looks like a human wearing Optimus armor, for instance, and a lot of panels have gradient fills instead of backgrounds. Storywise, the basic theme is "keep trying even though it keeps giving you sorrow" in both the present-day and flashback scenes, with a side order of "just because they're the good guys doesn't mean there aren't lots of jerks". Pyra Magna is really turning into Optimus's very own Starscream, for instance. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers Till All Are One #9: IDW - Sometimes having a conscience means that you still do unethical things, but at least now you know you're being unethical and you have one or more Damn Good Reasons to cast aside the urgings of your conscience. That sometimes doing the right thing means doing the wrong thing, but being aware of that dilemma. At her heart, Windblade was (is? Still not entirely sure if she's dead or just on life support) an idealist who was horrified to find out how good she was at realpolitik, and Starscream is at his core a self-centered schemer who is horrified to find he has a conscience and really does want what's best for his people, not just for himself. With Windblade off the table, the focus shifts to Starscream as the star of the book, desperately trying to find a way to do the right thing. But not necessarily the right way to do the right thing, if you will. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers Till All Are One #10: IDW - All you need is love...and a willingness to manipulate love to your own ends. For all that this issue is essentially a series of one-on-one conversations, it's as engaging (if not moreso) than any big combat bash. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers Lost Light #5: IDW - Despite launching at the same time as Optimus Prime, this book has already fallen two issues behind, oops. Spoiler: this issue promised to reveal what Rung is for, but it doesn't answer the ACTUAL question that was posed many issues ago. His purpose is revealed, and it's a Big Damn Deal storywise, but it has nothing to do with his altmode. At best, a revelation about the functionist leadership suggests something about Rung's altmode. Of course, it wouldn't be Roberts if there weren't two new mysteries to replace one resolved one, and now everyone has to scramble back and re-read #1-4 to make sure one of the new mysteries wasn't messed up by an art error. :) Recommended. $3.99 Empowered and the Soldier of Love #3 (of 3): Dark Horse - Normally the Empowered specials are just side stories, perhaps revealing something about supporting characters or fleshing out the world, but ultimately skippable in terms of the main plotline. Not so this time. Ninjette finally has a LUCID moment of self-revelation, and that's going to have to impact her development down the line. And while Emp doesn't discover an important point about herself, the readers certainly do, and a sword of Damocles that's been hanging over her for a while now just had its thread fray a bit more. All this, and a takedown of "edgy" takes on the magical girl genre. Strongly recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "And...what do YOU turn into?" "A BORING VEHICLE." "Well, I think science can be EXCITING, you don't need to --" "No, a vehicle that bores. Into the GROUND. For RESEARCH." - Jetfire and Nosecone, Optimus Prime #7
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