June 10, 2009

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.
Classes underway, proceding normally.  Ish.  An archive can be found on my 
             homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 

     Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Booster Gold
#21 (only Recommended, but notable)

"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.

Late Books:
     These are comics that were not listed as shipping during the week they
were reviewed.  Sometimes someone recommends a book to me that's already out,
and I grab it over the weekend.  Sometimes it's a trade paperback I ordered
online rather than trusting Diamond.  Sometimes the store screwed up or I was
inobservant and I missed something I meant to get.  USUALLY, though, it's
because Diamond didn't ship what it was supposed to ship and I had to
scrounge around or wait on a reorder.

     Timestorm 2009-2099: Spider-Man One Shot: Marvel - Looks like the
Timestorm miniseries is spawning a bunch of side story one-shots to flesh
things out without making Timestorm into a maxiseries.  This one is set
between #2 and #3 of the miniseries, covering how a young Mig O'Hara ends up
in a Spider-Man costume and fighting his first serious threat.  Well, mostly
getting in the original Spider-Man's way, but it's a start.  All in all, it's
kinda fluffy, in the sense that it didn't really need more than 8 pages to be
told well, but even after you subtract out the "in case you didn't read
Timestorm #2" stuff it's still at least 16 pages.  Brian Reed's scripting
helps make the fluff a little more palatable, but there's only so much he can
do, and Wesley Craig's art isn't something I simply have to see more pages
of.  It might have worked better to just make Timestorm a 5 issue series and
fold in both this story and the Wolverine one-shot that's coming.  Mildly
recommended.  $2.99
     Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z vol1: Marvel - Yeah, this
came out last year.  But I found it on clearance at Hastings for $6.98, which
was certainly a good enough price.  It updates and expands on entries from
the 2003-8 guidebooks covering a few alternate realities (1602, 2099, etc)
and then all of A, plus B through Blackwing.  Effectively four times as much
material as in one of the floppycopy versions of A-Z...at six times the
price.  Yes, it looks nicer on the shelf, if you're looking to have books as
decor, but it runs smack into a fatal flaw as an information resource: it's
too expensive for something that goes out of date as quickly as this material
does.  For instance, it's already incomplete on 2099 and Aegis, and even at
the time of publication it was out of date in that it didn't include an entry
on the new Ant-Man.  At $4-5 a pop, it's worth keeping up with material that
will start being outdated the week it hits shelves.  But not at $25.
Especially since the official Marvel Wiki now exists, and seems to be more
complete and more up to date (although having the powergrid be up for fan
votes seems to be a Bad Idea on the Marvel Wiki).  So, $300 for an out of
date and incomplete version of what can be had online for free?  Not for me,
sorry.  If I find more volumes for $7 I may get them, since hardcopy isn't
susceptible to things like "we're going to remove the Wiki, it's not making
money," and I'm also just old-school enough to like rummaging through
physical pages.  But I can't recommend these hardcover volumes at anywhere
near full price.  $24.99/$40.00Cn cover price.
     Wolverine First Class vol 1: Marvel - A collection of #1-4 available at
Target, it's a floppy trade, basically.  The pages are slightly oversized,
and they're sold in with the kiddie books.  I grabbed this on a lark,
figuring $4.49 for four issues was worth a shot, given that I liked Van
Lente's last issue of WFC.  A few of the themes of the series get hammered a
little too hard, at least for reading stories as a collection, but it doesn't
begin to approach the levels seen in 1970s Marvel comics, and it does
demonstrate that the title's being written without the expectation of every
reader getting every issue.  There's two single-issue stories and one
two-parter in here, and unlike the Marvel Adventures books the First Class
ones seem to be set in the main "Earth-616" continuity, just in the gaps
between issues of Uncanny X-Men (if with some timeline sliding so that the
stories aren't happening in the 1970s).  All the original covers are
included, but the individual issue credits are taken out.  So I'm not sure if
Andrea DiVito and Salva Espin work together on all four issues, or if DiVito
draws some and Espin draws others.  Style looks about the same across all
issues, though, regardless of how the division of labor worked out.
Recommended.  $4.99 cover price, scanned for $4.49.

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.

     Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #2 (of 4): Marvel - Well, no one around
here got #1, but at least I have confirmation that the thing exists in
general terms.  :)  This seems to be a Marvel Adventures book, albeit without
the MA banner, but I suppose I'd need to see the first issue to be sure.  It
might just be under the MA editorial desk but set in 616 (among other
realities, since Lockjaw has a flashback to working with TechNet).  The gist
of the plot is summarized pretty early on, though, and I had no problem
keeping up.  I *did* get a bit tired of "Ms. Lion is a ditz" gags, though.
(I don't know if Ms. Lion ever appeared in an 616 book, she originated in the
Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends cartoon as Aunt May's dog, and I don't
really feel like wiki'ing to find out more).  Recommended.  $2.99
     X-Factor #44: Marvel - The three-way split on plotlines gets a bit
annoying here, especially how coy PAD is being about identities in the future
story.  The round-robin art isn't too jarring in transitions this time,
although one of the artists does eyes in an uncomfortably Gulacy-like way
(and it's not a feature of Gulacy's art that I like).  Mildly recommended.
     The Amazing Spider-Man #597: Marvel - Apparently, someone's been reading
the Evil Overlord List.  And there are clearly more agendas in this book than
there are people.  Oh, and ex-fiancees are always a pain.  Recommended.
     REBELS #5: DC - Lots of fighting and posturing and a little explaining,
although the explanations are more often than not deliberately non-
explanatory.  The Fatal Five homage is pretty slow in building, although I
have some amusing ideas on how we get Tharok's counterpart.  :)  Unless a
Dominator is going to be joining the regular cast, though, I think Bedard
spends a bit too much time on the Dominator scenes.  Mildly recommended.
     Booster Gold #21: DC - With Sturges-written Blue Beetle backup story,
woot!  The main story is more or less a Battle for the Cowl tie-in, if not
credited as such on the cover.  A decent one, as such things go, and well
founded in Booster's own storyline.  Gotta love the Beetle (Reyes) backup,
though, with a generational giant robot mad scientist sort of plot.  THINKO!
I wonder if the as-yet-unseen current generation of the family is blonde....
Recommended, but on the high end of that because of the backup.  $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 6/10/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger
Universe #22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #3, Ninja High School #169-170,
Justice Machine vol 1 TPB, Gold Digger Tech Manual #3, Farscape Strange
Detractors #2, Gold Digger v3 #105, Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1, Gurren
Lagann v1, Incredibles #2.  Add Doktor Sleepless #12.


"I Just Washed My Hair And I Can't Do A Think With It" Award to Timestorm
     2009-2099: Spider-Man One Shot

"I'd Forgotten How Painfully Bad Dave Hoover's Image-Wannabe Phase Was" 
     Award to Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z vol 1

"Frink!" Award to Wolverine First Class vol 1

"Clearly Ms. Lyon's Getting The Power Gem" Award to Lockjaw and the Pet
     Avengers #2 (of 4)

"Cortical Stimulator" Award to X-Factor #44

"Care To Upgrade To 'Too Stupid To Live?'" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man

"Not So Much 'Ciji' As 'C.G.'" Award to REBELS #5

"Sadly, No One Ever Reads The Manifesto Except The Forensic Linguists"
     Award to Booster Gold #21

     Dave Van Domelen, "But...instead of robbing banks, why didn't he just
market and sell his INCREDIBLY SOPHISTICATED ROBOT?"  "Who can say?  It was a
different time and he's long dead, so you can't ask him." - Brenda and Doctor
Alan Von Neumann Jr., Booster Gold #21
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