July 8, 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 Whee, spent most of the week with a summer cold. Blegh, hack. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None "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. Gold Digger the Movie: Antarctic Press - This is an OAV adaptation of the original Gold Digger "Time Raft" story, animated by Fred Perry. Fortunately, he doesn't try to do the voices (I've seen fandubs back in the day where guys did the female voices, so it's not outside the realm of the possible). Gina's voice actress is pretty good, but Brit's VA is constantly sounding like she's trying to do some sort of accent and failing. Doug Dlin is surprisingly good as Dreadwing, although it's obvious there's a lot of processing involved in making his voice sound draconic (he's not exactly possessed of a deep and booming voice, you see). :) Sticking with the audio for the moment, the background music manages to feel like the blandest BGM of 1980s kidvid, with lots of looping. And while there's sound effects for focal things, there's pretty much no ambient sound not connected to a foreground object...no wind, no waterfall splash, no rustling of trees, there's not even footstep sounds most of the time. And you don't realize how important these background noiss are until you watch something that's totally lacking in them. Going back to bad fandubs, it reminds me of how those would be lacking in sound because the dubbers lacked the tech to separate out voice and BG tracks. In general, most of the time it doesn't feel like the sounds are coming from the scene, but rather are outside of it. Visually it works pretty well, which is unsurprising given how strongly Perry's comic art is influenced by 80s and 90s anime. Only once in a while does it look terribly Flash-animated. The linework is at the sketchy end of Perry's style, and I think it would have benefitted from some heavier line weights on the figures. Things do improve over the course of the three 20 minute episodes, though, as one might expect, and it's much less scratchy by episode three. The line weight is still pretty thin, but that's endemic to Perry's art. The story is the story, largely the same as the original comic, but tweaked in small ways (topical references, mainly) and medium (changing scenes that didn't make as much sense as they could have), plus there's later elements brought in that Perry probably didn't have planned out at the time he first wrote it (i.e. who really made the Time Raft). The Outtakes in the extras have various bits of vocal outtake animated sketchily with the characters standing in visually for the actors (i.e. Dreadwing in sunglasses rather than a cartoon of Doug). Chapter 3 has a commentary track by Perry, with the commentary totally replacing the existing sound rather than having the regular track faintly audible underneath. I don't know if this is a problem on all copies or just mine, but the audio on the commentary track goes all wobbly in the last minute. All in all, for something done by animation amateurs with limited resources, it's pretty good. The worst problems could be fixed simply by redoing some of the sound tracks (and finding a new VA for Brit') and adding some proper foley. Considering the economies of scale work very strongly against them, the high price is unavoidable...but it does mean that you pretty much have to buy this to support AP rather than because you think you're getting your money's worth. $29.95 at antarctic-press.com (includes shipping and tax). 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. Gold Digger v3 #118: Antarctic Press - There's a little "arc" stuff at the beginning that doesn't directly pay off in #119 (since the action shifts to Jade in #119) but ties into the whole "Age of Wonders" thing that's run through the book since #101. The main story is actually a subversion of the usual GD formula, a the Diggers sisters spend most of their time a step behind the actual action...there's one short fight scene, but it's just mopping up after the real fight's passed. The focus is less on the adventure and more on the fact that the sisters have grown apart. In many ways, Gina still acts like she did back in the Time Raft days, while Brit' had years on the run between realities to change and forget how the surface and the interior of Gina aren't necessarily the same thing. The emotional climax is a "there but for the grace of God" moment involving a throwaway Lara Croft pastiche. It doesn't really feel neatly resolved, but it doesn't seem like it's supposed to. It's a start at the sisters finding their shared groove again, not the finish. Recommended. $2.99 Gold Digger Peebri's Big Adventure #2: Antarctic Press - Four short stories told in the usual vertical-strip format, all starring Peebri of course. The first story is sort of a combo, leading with "learning life lessons from Zelda" and then turning into a sort of jailhouse piece. Starts strong, ends okay. The short chopsticks piece is good, and shows the dangers of engrish. I have a soft spot for Tom Lehrer, so naturally I loved the "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" parody. Finally, the cover story does have some Tron action in it, but it deliberately peters out before any real action. A common theme in most of the stories is "Peebri never learns her lesson, but everyone AROUND her learns THEIR lesson...don't trust Peebri's schemes!" 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. Transformers Ironhide #3: IDW - Being as it is the second last issue, some answers are in order. And answers there are, if a bit prosaic. I am reminded of a transporter accident plot from Star Trek Next Generation, but at least plot threads get dealt with reasonably well before sending Ironhide out to beat stuff up for the final issue. Also, yet another canonical explanation for Transformers in capes. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Secret Six #23: DC - Another Ostrander guest-written issue, a one-off set before the recent arc. It involves disposable and disposed of antagonists and yet another retread of the "Most Dangerous Game" plot that has not a scintilla of suspense to it. The art by Silva is notable only because of his tendency to draw tiny faces on big heads. Give this one a pass. $2.99 Official Index to the Marvel Universe v2 #3: Marvel - Avengers #80-116, which includes the Kree-Skrull War. Captain America Comics #10-13 (early 1940s), Captain America #159-187 (covering the period of time of my very first Cap comics, as well as the Secret Empire/Nomad arc). Thor #145-191. No special "blue box" notes this time. $3.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #636: Marvel - The layout makes it look like Grim Hunt is the series title. So, Kraven the original is back, more or less, and only NOW does anyone point out that he didn't exactly die unwillingly...does he really want to come back? There's some Saturday Matinee Serial-style retconning to explain why Spider-Man isn't actually dead, although the "I'm too artistic for comics" art fails in its attempt to convey the timeshifting that happens between panels. The Kaine/Kraven backup continues to look ugly but at least you can tell what's happening. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Iron Man Legacy #4: Marvel - Yay, I managed to make it without buying a second copy of #3 by accident! (I double-bought #1 and #2 due to reships of alternate covers.) Much of this issue is Action Philosophy as Iron Man and Radioactive Man blow stuff up while arguing points of ethics and personal responsibility, as well as the essential nature of humanity. Then a couple of goons in Titanium Man and Crimson Dynamo armors show up and try to do pro wrestling or something. Doesn't work too well for them but they're saved by the arrival of the plot device that's here to wrap up the arc next issue (I suppose this is a spoiler, but not much of one...the Russkies are practically comic relief). Recommended. $2.99 Young Allies #2: Marvel - Wow. What a hideous cover. Fortunately, the interior art isn't by the same guy. This is an "aftermath" issue as everyone on the hero side tries to track down the Bastards of Evil and those on the villain side bicker and plot and act mysterious and stuff. It's okay, but a fairly weak follow-on to the first issue. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Hawkeye & Mockingbird #2: Marvel - You know, the fact that each has been credibly declared dead at least once and come back from it may not even be in the top five most complicated things about Hawk & Mock's relationship. And with this issue's hints about the Morse family history, it might even get pushed out of the top ten. Most of the time, the shocking attack at the end of this issue would almost definitely have happened in order to hurt one of the main characters, but the last few pages make it plausible to have been done for its own sake. Innnteresting. Speaking of which, I think we may be looking at the original Dominic Fortune in this series, having undergone some sort of rejuvenation. Or clone and brainswap, or something. Of course, this could be something that happened in another comic and McCann is being needlessly coy about Fortune's background. :) Recommended. $2.99 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 7/8/10: Invincible #72, Prince of Power #2, Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #3, Legion of Super-Heroes #2. Add Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #2 (not shipped to my store) and the Thanos Sourcebook (I forgot to put it on my pull, only one copy made it to the shelf and someone beat me to it). Awards: "The Commentary Doesn't Mention The Obvious Debt To Gainax" Award to Gold Digger the Movie "Everyone Should Have Co-Op Mode" Award to Gold Digger v3 #118 "DU DU DUU!" Award to Gold Digger Peebri's Big Adventure #2 "Pages Don't Get Cloaks" Award to Transformers Ironhide #3 (of 4) "The Least Dangerous Game" Award to Secret Six #23 "We All Know It Was Supposed To Be Nixon" Award to Official Index to the Marvel Universe v2 #3 "When Chameleon Is The Voice Of Reason, YUR DOIN IT RONG" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #636 "At Least It Didn't Translate As F.A.T.B.O.Y." Award to Iron Man Legacy #4 "Reverse-Temporal Lysenkoism" Award to Young Allies #2 "And Nick Fury Probably Knew All Along" Award to Hawkeye & Mockingbird #2 Dave Van Domelen, "If you ask me if all this made me feel better, I swear to God, I will punch you too." "You feeling any better? (WHAM) Heh. How about NOW?" "Surprisingly, no." - Mockingbird and Dominic Fortune, Hawkeye & Mockingbird #2
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