June 27, 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, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants I have now been in Amarillo for a full year, whee! Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None. In this installment: Skin Horse Volume Five, Steampunk Snow Queen #2, Gold Digger #222, SHIELD #7, Ms. Marvel #16, Astro City #24, Kaijumax #3, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #31, My Little Pony Friends Forever #17, Transformers Windblade #3, The Transformers #42, Transformers Windblade #4 (order of crossover is important), Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #42 "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 month. Ant Man in July, though, releasing the day before my 45th birthday. 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. Definitely a digital-only drought here. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Skin Horse volume 5: Kickstarted - This volume marks the transition of the series from black and white to color, which of course meant that printing it was going to be a bit more expensive. There's two main storylines collected in this volume, searching for GODOT and saving WhimsyCorp, with a short "Nick drives the drone body" interlude in between. Exclusive to this volume is a ten page Baron Mistycorn story, in which the old Baron from the WhimsyCorp arc breaks in a new Baron now that the theme park is back up and running. Recommended, cover price $13.99 and available from the webcomic's store at http://couscouscollective.storenvy.com/?id=6848 (URL likely to change over time, go to skin-horse.com and poke around if link rot sets in). Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Steampunk Snow Queen #2: Antarctic Press - For the most part, this is an interesting alternate telling of the Frozen story, but it does kinda stumble when it tries to recreate the "Let It Go" sequence, which feels horribly forced. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger #222: Antarctic Press - Perry experiments with isometric perspective for this entire issue, in preparation for developing some Gold Digger computer games. It works fairly smoothly, his issue-opening apology was unnecessary. Story-wise, this is mostly a dungeon crawl during which Julia Diggers tries to keep her allies on task and away from each other's throats, but it ends on the climax of Gnolga's personal arc...this sort of focus shift is pretty standard for the title, though. Mildly recommended. $3.99 SHIELD #7: Marvel - Given the apparent contradictions with existing Marvel continuity in this issue, I have to wonder if it's set post-Secret Wars, so they can use the "because reasons" excuse to let things be more like the SHIELD show. Retcons abound as Quake is recast as an Inhuman rather than a mutant, and timeline issues with Hyde being her father are addressed. Greg Smallwood is clearly trying to make de-Hyded Zabo look like Kyle MacLachlan, but only maybe one panel in five or six pulls it off. A lot of struggle for a fairly mediocre payoff, kinda worried what next issue's Mockingbird focus will do. Neutral. $3.99 Ms. Marvel #16: Marvel - I joked on Facebook that the reason Ms. Marvel would take several issues to hit the point of picking up on Secret Wars (due to the Last Days arc that starts here) was that being in Jersey City it would be hard to tell the apolcalypse had hit. Turns out, it was a highly localized apocalypse, and Jersey City COULDN'T tell it was happening except for the streams of refugees from NYC. So, cover image aside, Jersey City isn't being dimensionally riven, but that doesn't mean everything's peachy. A number of previous plot elements pay off here, and Lineage isn't letting a little thing like apparent armageddon across the river slow down his plans. After all, this is Manhattan in the Marvel Universe...end of the universe is like a going out of business sale, it happens several times a year and the business is still around. Recommended. $2.99 Astro City #24: DC/Vertigo - So, Sticks can't be a musician without putting other musicians in danger, and in this issue he finds he can't be a superhero without putting his inner self in danger. The eventual solution is fairly predictable, but Busiek takes an interesting path to get there. Recommended. $3.99 Kaijumax #3: Oni Press - A rather important bit of worldbuilding is introduced here, as the issue focuses on Mechazon, the Mechagodzilla/Moguera homage (Mecha-G by origin, more Moguera by appearance). The role of the mecha here is certainly odd, because you'd think they'd be reprogrammed or dismantled rather than warehoused...so at some point they must have gotten recognized as persons, jailable but not reprogrammable against their will. And Mechazon is in prison for a rather surprising reason, a reason I suspect the authorities don't really believe (i.e. they think he's just being disobedient out of sheer cussedness and he's in jail on the equivalent of contempt charges). The rot in the system goes all the way to the top, as evidenced by a clear attempt to manipulate Mechazon into doing someone's dirty work. Oh, and the plotlines started in #1-2 also get some time, and we meet Zander Cannon's son Jin. Well, a G-movie homage kid who looks an awful lot like how Zander draws his son. Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #31: IDW - While this was marginally readable, the resolution was even weaker than I'd expected. Twi does some serious horse-trading and calling in of favors to cobble things together, and when they fail simply guilt-trips everyone via breakdown into getting over it and working with each other. I hope the next arc is better. Neutral. $3.99 My Little Pony Friends Forever #17: IDW - Twilight Sparkle tries to get help from Big Macintosh on the subject of being productive, and when talking to him works about as well as one might expect, she decides to go inside his head. Amusing short glimpse inside the heads of both ponies, even if it can't actually impact either character (i.e. Twilight Sparkle overcommitting is too popular a plot device for the writers to give up on it, no matter how many lessons Twi learns). Recommended. $3.99 Transformers Windblade #3: IDW - Combiner Wars Part 5, the end of the main arc. Livio gets replaced on art by two people, the somewhat Wildman-ish Marcelo Ferreira, and the very cartoony Corin Howell. Marcelo's art feels like a rush job and is lacking in backgrounds even when backgrounds would be a good idea. Howell's art is going to take some getting used to, and is mostly used on scenes not involving the combiners (he's also the new regular artist, apparently). Basically, Ultra Prime suffers brainlock as soon as he steps onto the scene, drawing out the Deus Ex Optimus by making him fight a psychic duel with Prowl for control of their shared body. In the end, Friendship is Magic and Prowl seems to be convinced of the wrongness of his "too big of a picture" position. The fight ends, but along the way several other lost colonies are contacted. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Transformers #42: IDW - Combiner Wars Epilogue. The reason I spoilered the end of Windblade #3 is because it's important to know that it gets ignored INSTANTLY. Prowl wasn't convinced at all, and most of this issue is a brawl between him and Optimus Prime (drawn by Livio), while Arcee chats with Galvatron (drawn by Andrew Griffith) and finds out some more of the Onyx Interface stuff. Meh. Not only is the fight between Prime and Prowl somewhat unconvincing and unresolved, this issue basically kills off what little resolution Combiner Wars Part 5 had. It's almost DC-level "that crossover didn't matter, because it's the NEXT crossover that will really matter" in its rapid self-repudiation. Neutral. $3.99 Transformers Windblade #4: IDW - Combiner Wars Epilogue. All Corin Howell art here, other than the Previously page. His style is fairly crude and cartoony and feels like a webcomic, but he does have one strength: characterization. Facial expressions and body language are very dynamic, sharing that in common with the vastly superior Sarah Stone. So, at least Howell can keep up with Scott's scripts in terms of visual storytelling, even if the rest of it looks...not very good. And the storytelling is diplomacy, dealing with the first of the colonies "contacted" by the running interdimensional fight scene of last issue. The theme of this arc seems like it will be, "Just because the other colonies didn't have millions of years of war doesn't mean they're utopias." Recommended. $3.99 Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #42: IDW - Backgrounds are important. In this issue, many panels have blank backgrounds, others filled with speed lines, and still others crowded with extreme detail. As a result, it's kinda hard to follow Milne's art, even in scenes where it's not intentionally confusing. Fortunately, Roberts is much more on his game here than over in Combiner Wars, and the Friendship Problem posed between Nautica and Firestar is nicely explained and resolved (seriously, More than Meets the Eye is doing a better job of capturing the tone of MLP than the MLP comics are, lately). The monster of the week seems rather highly specific, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it's later revealed that it (and several other threats they've encountered) was specifically engineered as an anti- Cybertronian weapon by the organic races of the universe. "The universe hates and fears Cybertronians, and is justified in this," is a running theme in the IDW comics, after all. Recommended. $3.99 (Also, I'm looking forward to the explanation for #43's cover, which suggests that Cyclonus's holomatter avatar is a stern Victorian governess.) Dave Van Domelen, "I guess my work here is done. Oh boy." - Swerve, just before Leaping out, Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #42
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