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 Still no job lined up for the Fall. Bleh. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Atomic Robo: Real Science Adventures #3 (of 6), Empowered v7 In this installment: Superman vs. the Elite DVD, Double Barrel #1, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century #3 2009, Atomic Robo: Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #1, Atomic Robo: Real Science Adventures #3 (of 6), Empowered v7, Gold Digger v3 #138-139, Young Justice #17, Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes #3 "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. Superman vs. the Elite: DC - This is an adaptation of yet another comic I didn't read, although I'm vaguely aware of how it went down because I did read some of the later stories about the survivors of it. While I would have preferred an animation style a little more like the current Young Justice series, the slightly cartoony style didn't bother me like it did some others. And it definitely earned its PG-13 rating, but without being gratuitous (people die on screen, and there's blood, but they don't go all Shaw Brothers). The story is pretty solidly put together, hitting all the necessary plot points to create character arcs for both Superman and Manchester Black (the rest of the Elite are pretty much just extensions of Black, there isn't enough time to develop any of the other three past a single note each). Also, you get to hear Superman say "wankers". Recommended. $15-20 depending on vendor. 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 iPod if it's at all possible. Double Barrel #1: Top Shelf - By Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon (no relation). The premise here is to create a digital comic that's a satisfying read, in a world where it costs $3-4 for a full comic and most of the stuff you can find for 99 cents is about 8 pages' worth. Well, including covers, chapter bumps and various text features, this is 122 pages (not panels, actual pages) for $1.99. The first piece is a short explanation of concept starring the two (unrelated) Cannons, and it does get you into the swing of the art styles you can expect (more on that later). This covers pages 9-11. Pages 12-39 is the full length first installment of Heck, by Zander Cannon, making up the first three chapters. All of these pages have appeared already in webcomic format at zandercannon.wordpress.com, so you can go see what style he's using here...it's definitely unlike his Replacement God or Chainsaw Vigilante work, that's for sure! Given that it was last updated in November 2010, though, you can be pretty sure if you want to keep following the story, it'll be in Double Barrel. The premise is "hard boiled detective meets Dante's Inferno", although Heck is more of a "realistic" detective in the sense that the assignments would be pretty mundane (deliver messages, find someone and ask them something, etc) if it weren't for the fact that they all send him to Hell. Pages 40-107 are Crater XV by Kevin Cannon, a sequel to a comic I hadn't heard of prior to reading this issue. The style is vaguely Herge-ish in that it's a slightly cartoony adventure story with characters who range from almost realistic to walking caricature. It does a so-so job of getting unfamiliar readers up to speed with the setting, which is basically a pulp adventure Arctic that doesn't take itself too seriously. For a while, I thought it was simply set in the early 1900s of a more or less real world with slightly different politics, but then there's that manned mission to Europa helping drive the plot. o_O It's intriguing, but I kept feeling like I needed to go refer to an alternate universe's wikipedia to keep up with things. "True Tales of Jin" demonstrates that as hazardous as it can be to date a webcartoonist, it's far worse to be the child of one. The worst my generation had to worry about in the parental embarrassment arena was old baby pictures being dragged out to show my friends. Kids today had better hope Facebook goes bankrupt and all their files are destroyed by a particularly thorough virus. Jin Cannon says the usual sort of adorable things that made Bil Keane famous, but he has a father (Zander) who is a very fast artist and can turn them into webcomics by bedtime. And some of those are collected here. I'll admit to having skipped over the ten page "How To get Off Your Butt And Draw A Graphic Novel" piece, since I'm not really interested in doing that. But some of you may find it useful. Then the issue wraps up with short bios of the authors and a Next Issue page. Definitely worth picking up. I liked Heck a bit more than Crater XV, but I got my money's worth (and my time's worth) and will be back for #2. Recommended. $1.99 at ComiXology. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 2009: Top Shelf - Well, I still haven't read the Black Dossier, and Moore doesn't try too hard to make things easy on those who haven't, but it's a reasonably satisfying end to a story of death, apocalypse and hopelessness. There's a bit more American media culture in the mix than most LoEG stories, but that's in part because American media culture is pretty insidious these days. Even things originally from British references are fed through American interpretations (i.e. the James Bond is the Hollywood version, not the Bond of the novels). It's always hard to be sure of the flavor of the times when you're in the middle of them, especially since the flavor an era is remembered for is often a distortion of what really happened. So it's difficult to say how much of the tone of this book is reflective of current media, and how much is just how Moore thinks the world would likely be running if the Antichrist has been alive for a few decades. Or it could just be Crotchety Old Man syndrome catching up with Moore, in the repeated protests from Mina that while things have always been bad, but now they're hopeless and bad. For the most part, the climax is a deus ex machina. All the protagonists really do is send a signal and then survive long enough for someone else to sort it. Being an immortal sucks, being a hero is a fool's obsession, and being an immortal hero is the worst of it. More of a 1990s feel than 2009, to be honest. Oh, there is a secondary story point regarding the Antichrist, but I can't really say anything about that without being a terrible spoiler. Some have called it rather petty on Moore's part, but I found it a natural outgrowth of Haddo's disposition at the end of 1969. Mildly recommended, and be careful where you read it, as it has the usual random nudity. $4.99 at ComiXology. Atomic Robo: the Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #1 (of 5): Red5 Comics - Set in 1951, as the fighting of WWII continues. WWII ended the same time in the Roboverse as in the real world, but in a setting with mad science and pulp adventurers, the leftovers from the war are going to be more than a few sad remnants huddled on skipped-over islands. A very 1930s-feel air pirates environment is established, but with jetpacks. This issue is dominated by a fight scene in the first half, and then a lot of introduction and setup, so it doesn't have as much room to be funny, but it's still a decent read. And it avoids the standard trap of a flashback story (we know that Robo comes out of it just fine) by establishing characters we have no reason to have heard from before in the present-day...so they could get wiped out in the final issue, or still be around in 2012 (well, as an organization, most of them would be dead of old age by now). Recommended. $2.99 at ComiXology. Atomic Robo: Real Science Adventures #3 (of 6): Red5 Comics - Sparrow story continues to not really grab me, but the Bruce Lee installment is decent. The first of the one-shots is a tale of the days before Robo, when Tesla along with Charles Fort, Annie Oakley, George Westinghouse and a few others fought the invincible war zeppelin created by I.K. Brunel (not really clear if Brunel is a bad guy in this universe, or if his zeppelin was simply under the control of bad guys). I want to see more of this group! The other one-shot is a battle inside Robo's mind against a hack attempt, and this apparently happens often enough that he's bored with it. Strongly Recommended. $1.99 at ComiXology Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Empowered v7: Dark Horse - Oooh, glossy paper. This issue is pretty ambitious from a storytelling point of view, as most of the scenes are flashbacks within the framing sequence of an extended ninja fight scene. And sometimes there's flashbacks within the flashbacks. And not all of the flashbacks are events that the main players in the fight scene were present for. Oh, and another theme Warren plays with a lot this issue is the counterfactual (although in this case it's more of a counterfictional), in which various characters envision how things would happen if they let themselves say or do what they really felt. Demonwolf sets the tone in the first scene, with his nonlinear view of events, so you know what you're getting in for. There's some major character revelations here, and while the focus is on Ninjette perhaps the most shocking revelations involve other characters. Probably not the best place to start, given that a lot of the weight of this issue depends on knowing something about the characters, but it's definitely a great payoff for those who have been following along. As if you needed more reasons to read the series. Strongly recommended. $16.99 cover price (I got mine from Amazon for less than that). Floppies: If I actually pick up some monthly issues, they'll go here. Given my reluctance to put money in Diamond's hands, though, these would likely only be review copies or stuff found in oddball places. And no, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? And like floppy disks they may be a doomed format. Gold Digger v3 #138-139: Antarctic Press - #138 required a second read-through for me to pick up the main thread, since it's layered underneath a couple of origin stories and an obligatory fight scene, but it SEEMS to be mainly about Dreadwing's plans proceeding unsteadily and the efforts of some of his minions to make the alliances necessary to be free of him. #139 is a lot more straightforward, although I'm not sure what its cover has to do with anything inside (it's another case of looking like maybe it was intended to go with a plot point that's actually in the next issue, which seems to happen to this titled every so often). Taken together, the two issues are mainly about Dreadwing putting a new plan in motion while other plans fester within it, plans he may not be aware of already. All rather twisty, but Perry usually manages to resolve this sort of thing well. Recommended. $3.99 each. Young Justice #17: DC - Kinda weird reading what is still a season 1 series while season 2 is so far along. A done-in-one story in which Kobra enacts an apotheosis plan, it's decent enough, but the only real hook to it is that it helps advance the Wally/Artemis relationship on-screen, fleshing out some of the progress made from bickering to pairing off. There's no subplot stuff this time, and anyone just reading the comics without having access to the show is probably going to wonder what happened to the elemental androids stuff. Mildly recommended. $2.99 [Correction, it's the second part of a two-part story, I missed #16. I may grab the digital version of #16 and review it next month.] Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #3: Marvel - The lead story by Yost and Bachs has Nick Fury and the Avengers fighting the Zodiac, and it really depends on reader turnover because the Big Reveal is the identity of Scorpio...and it's pretty much exactly who anyone even vaguely aware of Marvel history expects it to be. Yost and Bachs also work together on the second story, a Buddy Flick story of Hawkeye and Black Panther trying to retrieve King Solomon's Frogs from Ravonna. This one at least doesn't rely on a surprise revelation (okay, the characters are surprised, but the story structure makes this just another swerve in a very swervey tale), and is a more entertaining read. Recommended. $2.99 Dave Van Domelen, "My tombstone will say, 'Put GUNS on the PROTOTYPES!'" - Robo Tesla, Atomic Robo: Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #1 (of 5)
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