June 9, 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, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Real periodicals distributors actually ship what they list as shipping. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Hawkeye & Mockingbird #1 (for exceeding expectations by quite a bit) "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. None this week. 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. The Transformers #8: IDW - This would be more accurately titled Spotlight Spike...the lone Transformer to even appear in this issue doesn't come on-panel in the story until page 16 (okay, another Transformer shows up in flashback for one panel a few pages later). Now, if Javier Saltares's humans weren't so ugly (and obviously influenced by McFarlane on many pages) this would be less of an issue. Of course, Costa resorting to the cliche "show character A is a badass by killing character B" plot doesn't really help. Yes, I can see what Costa's storytelling goal was. But I think he undercuts the setting more than he had to...he swings the pendulum way too far back the other way. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Secret Six #22: DC - The dual themes of this arc, borne out most strongly in its completion, are "the pain of losing family" and "the limits of power", especially on how the latter impacts on the former. Not just the main plot with Catman's son (BTW I like how Simone resolved that), but also the side plot with Black Alice. Recommended. $2.99 Booster Gold #33: DC - This sort of crosses over with Justice League Generation Lost, but there's sufficient exposition and flashbacks that I'm not punished for not reading that. Anyway, in one way the "age of MWAHAHA" does return here, but only in the most literal sense...time travel. The tone is still rather more serious and grown-up (in the "mature adult" sense rather than the "mature content" sense) as Booster works on his own to try to solve the mystery of Maxwell Lord's heel turn. Y'see, while the facile explanations and retcons that made him a villain made some sense at the time, there's just too many stories where both characters and readers got inside Max's head that contradict the Official Story. So, Booster's trying to figure out how that could have happened, and given that the schtick of his current career is "someone's been messing with history" in-story, dealing with editorial futzing out-of-story fits too. :) Recommended. $2.99 Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #1 (of 6): DC/ABC - Written by Peter Hogan, but drawn by Sprouse so at least it's somewhat "classic". :) A few years back, when Promethea ended, it could be considered to have put a bit of a coda on the ABC Universe. A happy-enough ending...if not Singularity, a reasonable facsimile. But in serial fiction, endings rarely stay ended if there's interest in seeing more adventures of the characters. Sure, you can also go back and tell untold tales...sometimes it seems like half the Tom Strong stories were set in the past. But Hogan moves forward, has the Shazam analogue character mourn the ending of a too-brief utopian age, and then jumps into the new dramatic conflict. For the most part it's well done, although there's a few minor missteps (including an art reference that Sprouse should have made clearer...a poster changed, but you barely see it before the change so it's not the clue it should have been). Still, a promising start. Recommended. $3.99 Avengers Academy #1: Marvel - Heroic Age banner. This is essentially Avengers the Initiative retitled and renumbered. Except for Reptil (who got brought into 616 in the recent Initiative Special) they're all new to this book, although I suppose it's possible they were carrying spears in the background of HAMMER-era Initiative issues before this. In addition to continuing the Initiative mandate (with Justice, Tigra and Robbie Baldwin carrying over from that book) there's a touch of Mighty Avengers as well (Pym, Quicksilver, the Infinite Mansion) and the combined "black sheep of the Avengers" feel of both books. The specific group dynamic of the new class is definitely more X-Men/New Mutants than most Avengers lineups, though, between the age of the characters and the powers that range from quirky to downright nasty. Oh, and the angst. Gage brings Mutant-level angst here. Even the happy shiny Super Hero Squad refugee has been given some angst. Still, with the proviso that angst could get toxic, it's a promising start. The extra pagecount that justifies the higher price bracket is used for profile pages on the Academy members plus an interview with Gage. And yes, you can expect Academy of Super-Heroes references from me when discussing this title. Recommended. $3.99 Young Allies #1: Marvel - Heroic Age banner. If Academy follows more of an X-Men group-formation model where powered youngsters are intentionally gathered by someone for training, Young Allies hearks to the usual way of forming new Avengers teams: a menace arises, whoever happens to be in the area responds, and they form a team. Of course, despite the ad-hoc nature, it's naturally pretty well balanced in combat terms (to use City of Heroes parlance, they have two Scrappers, a Tank, a Blaster and a Deftroller). The menace they rise to meet is pretty derivative and for the most part cardboard cutout evil types, but I suppose their purpose in the story is less to be recurring foes and more to be something that can be stomped next issue. Like Academy, the backpages provide info on the characters, although this time out they all have backstories (except one, who only gets one page summing up his origin from this issue and noting that he's the 616 version of someone) and each entry save the last guy's ends with an "essential reading" list. Recommended. $3.99 Hawkeye & Mockingbird #1: Marvel - Heroic Age banner. I wasn't originally going to get this...writer McCann didn't ring a bell, both characters are rather messed up by recent events, and it felt like a riff on Green Arrow & Black Canary. But I got to see a preview copy and rather liked it, so on my pull it goes. :) I like that the way Bobbi was brought back wasn't used to negate all her character conflicts...in fact, her divergence point is arguably where she had the MOST personal issues to deal with, and then she got them reinforced while she was presumed dead. In a way, the team here isn't Clint and Bobbi, it's Bobbi and her fellow SHIELD ex-pats (who shared her missing years fate to some extent) in the new WCA (not West Coast Avengers). Clint is along to lend a hand. Like the other new titles this week, it ends with a "who are these people?" feature, which is jointly narrated by Clint and Bobbi. This is the only place the reversion to Hawkeye is mentioned, passed off as nostalgia. No indication what this means for Kate Bishop (Hawkeye in Young Avengers) though. Anyway, it looks like McCann is positioning this to be more of a caper book, where the good guys do some shady things (i.e. Leverage, Burn Notice, etc) but ultimately ARE the good guys. Recommended. $3.99 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 6/9/10: Gold Digger Peebri's Big Adventure #2, Invincible #72. Add Prince of Power #2, Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #3, Gold Digger v3 #118. Awards: "One Of The Ingredients Is A Nigh-Mythical Substance...WATER" Award to The Transformers #8 "The Term 'Daddy Issues' Doesn't Even BEGIN To Cover This" Award to Secret Six #22 "Who Knew The Sexy French Maid Actually Cleaned Bathrooms?" Award to Booster Gold #33 "No, The Universe Isn't Billions Of Years Old, It Just Looks That Way" Award to Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #1 (of 6) "Are You Sure Finesse's Real Name Isn't Danielle Tracey?" Award to Avengers Academy #1 "Actually, There's Two Illegal Aliens On The Team, IIRC" Award to Young Allies #1 "So That's How Rain Of Arrows Works!" Award to Hawkeye & Mockingbird #1 Dave Van Domelen, "Do you have any idea the kind of coronary my DAD would have if I started dating a SENIOR?" "Seriously? Your dad LETS you FIGHT CRIME. In a VENOM COSTUME." - Arana and Nomad, Young Allies #1
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