June 30, 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 Time to make another order at antarctic-press.com's store. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Atomic Robo v4 #4 (of 4). "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. 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. Before going into the review of Spider-Man, I should explain a phenomenon that's been giving me problems lately. As sometimes happens, Marvel is doing alternate covers for a lot of books, a common enough occurrence I don't even bother commenting on it in reviews. But Diamond has also started shipping these alternate covers more than once, splitting my store's order into two shipments a week or two apart. This has led to me buying some books twice ("Well, Iron Man Legacy is on his pull, and I don't recall seeing this cover before, so in the pull it goes." "Huh, I didn't have Iron Man Legacy on my list this week, but Diamond often ships things on weeks it doesn't say it will."). So when I got home with Spider-Man #635 last Wednesday I took a closer look at the cover, saw "GRIM HUNT PART 2" and thought, "Oh, crap, I bought an alternate cover AGAIN, after joking about it with the store employee." And I set it aside to exchange. Only later did I realize that the "two issues in one week" bit from two weeks ago wasn't the first two parts of Grim Hunt, I looked inside, and saw it was a new issue after all. Gah. So, in a direct way, it's my own fault that this is timeshifted. But indirectly, it's merely a consequence of Diamond's incompetence and my expectations of same. The Amazing Spider-Man #635: Marvel - The best lies contain mostly truth. The same can be said about the best prophecies, and for the same reasons. In a world where magic and prophecy are demonstrably real, then, what better way to hide a lie than within them? And that's one of the main themes of this issue, part two of the Grim Hunt, capstone of the long Gauntlet storyline. It's not the only theme, though. The signature theme of Spider-Man, "with great power comes great responsibility," is hammered home pretty hard as well, thanks to Kaine providing both example and counter- example. All in all, while he's theoretically the focus of the story, Spider-Man isn't really who the story is about. The story is AROUND him. About everyone whose lives touch upon his and how they deal with him. Love him, hate him, hunt him, flee him, whatever. Okay, I now verge on excessive pretention, but so does Joe Kelly in several places. On the plus side, the pretention is well-leavened with snarky (albeit mostly dark) humor. The art doesn't particularly work for me, unfortunately...it has the right tone, but stumbles on the actual details. DeMatteis's Kaine backup is like a thematic and artistic distillation of the strengths and flaws of the main story. More pretentious, uglier (but still tone-accurate) art. Recommended. $3.99 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. Justice Society of America #40: DC - Okay, down to the wire, Willingham. Impress me or go off the list. And...whoops, this is a "you have one issue to wrap it all up and leave" story told mostly in narrated flashback, with just a few key scenes here and there. And some snarky comments that this old Legion of Net.Heroes hand can tell are thinly veiled slams at comic writers as a whole. Next issue is a Brightest Day crossover, but I won't be getting it. Bye bye, JSA. $2.99 [Later note: the cover is an homage to the cover of #29, Willingham's first issue and the start of the "Obsidian egg" plot. One thing that JSA has done well in the past year has been interesting covers, especially paired covers.] Wonder Woman #600: DC - Well, it's a slow week, and there's Internet Dramaz surrounding this issue (and the JMS interview about it), so I figured I'd give it a shot. It's pretty much a jam piece, though. In addition to a load of pinups, there's several short stories by various creators who have worked on Wonder Woman and a bare teaser of the New Direction. In fact, the interview on the last two pages tells more about the new storyline than the actual story does. And it's a "someone's changed the past so now the book is off in its own splinter reality for a while and no one gets to use Wonder Woman in other books" deal. Yawn. The Amanda Connor piece was pretty good, but there's really not enough in this to be worth five bucks and I'm certainly not interested in continuing with the New Direction. $4.99 Gold Digger v3 #119: Antarctic Press - Well, Diamond can ship AP books sometimes, at least. And it looks like missing #118 isn't a problem at the moment, as this is the start of a new story focusing on some non-core characters (a core character is on the cover, but not even mentioned in the issue, guess the pacing got away from Perry again). Even with all the exposition in this issue, I felt a little lost jumping back into the lives of characters who were backgrounded well before the post-#100 timejump, especially since most of their character development took place in, what, one issue back then? It's an amusing read, but felt a little too "you had to be there". Mildly recommended. $2.99 Invincible #73: Image - Well, Diamond can ship Image books sometimes, at least. Looks like I missed the big fight...this issue is a combination of the Nolans slowly recovering from the big fight, and snapshots of what's going on without them in the war, particularly Allen the Alien and TechJacket. Unlike the "wrap it up" narration story in JSA, though, this one is more organic, better paced, and better at natural-feeling character development. And I was able to follow it easily despite having missed #72. The TechJacket backup, unfortunately, was missing a pretty important chunk and was kinda opaque. Recommended. $2.99 Atomic Robo v4 #4: Red5 Comics - A very Mignola/Hellboy cover, I must say. In the end, the whole Vampire Dimension was just issue 1, and not a thematic connection for the series. Now, what we really got was "A Week In The Life". All four issues took place over the course of one week in 1999, just another normal weird week for Tesladyne. There's much less fighting and exploding here, which might seem odd from a "final issue" standpoint, but it actually follows a pretty clear arc: #1 was mostly a running fight, #2 had a goodly amount of fighting, #3 was largely banter with a little fighting, and this one is a mystery with only a little bit of wanton violence in the name of science. At the same time, the emotional investment has gone up with each issue. The vampires were just this thing. The sentai were led by a friend. Dr. Dinosaur seriously got on Robo's nerves. And this issue hits right at the core of Robo's past and his family...as the violence subsides, the caring (for good or ill) goes up. Interesting parallel, I wonder if Clevenger and Wegener planned it that way, or it just sort of happened. :) Oh, and there's some subtle but clear Ghostbusters references beyond, you know, the ghost. Maybe not the strongest Robo issue, but still the best comic I've read all month. Strongly recommended. $3.50 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 6/30/10: Gold Digger Peebri's Big Adventure #2, Invincible #72, Prince of Power #2, Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #3, Gold Digger v3 #118, Legion of Super-Heroes #2. Grabbing the AP books plus the complete Time Raft DVD online now. Awards: "Lies, Damned Lies, and Prophecy" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #635 "Of COURSE He Likes The Twins" Award to Justice Society of America #40 "So, How Much Does Power Girl Really Know About Hentacles?" Award to Wonder Woman #600 "Thundercat Ho?" Award to Gold Digger v3 #119 "Ah, He's A Little Touchy On The Subject Of Being Able To Grow A Beard, Tech" Award to Invincible #73 "Ninety Nine Percent Expiration" Award to Atomic Robo v4 #4 (of 4) Dave Van Domelen, "Reminds me of my parents at Passover. Uh, but also with a robot and a ghost." - Dr. Schaefer, Atomic Robo v4 #4 (of 4)
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