July 10, 2008

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.
Less then two weeks until Edmonton, AB.  Rants, Capsules can be found on my 
             homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 

First Look Comments:

     Books for next week -

     Captain America #40: Marvel - The cover promises a fight between
Bucky-Cap and 50s-Cap, but in New York rather than Miami.  A lot more angst
than "Two Into One Won't Go," though.  Between this and the B-plot, the
issue's almost all one-on-one conflict, although there's some amusing peanut
gallery chatter from the villains.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Captain Britain and MI13 #2: Marvel - The cover lists this as a second
printing variant, but since I never read the first printing, what the heck.
Big running battle as Skrulls invade our imaginations, and only Butters
can...wait, that's not quite right.  :)  Some amusing bits from Cornell and
the usual good work from Leonard Kirk.  $2.99/$3.05Cn 

     Short, relatively spoiler-free reviews of books I actually bring home
(as opposed to reading in preview form in the shop or online).  If I get a
book late due to distributor foulups or whatever, I'll put it in the Missing

     Special DVD Section: I don't normally review DVDs, but I got a couple
this week that I actually managed to get watched before comics (helped by the
holiday delay in comics), so figured I'd say a few things about 'em.

     Gurren Lagann 01: Aniplex/Bandai - This is a subtitled release, the dub
is a ways off yet.  You can really REALLY tell it's a Gainax job pretty much
from the word go (aka there's a reason "gainaxing" is a verb gerund).  You
could look at it as a parody of super robot shows, or simply as an exuberant
celebration of super robot shows, depending on your mood...I go for
celebration.  It's gleefully over the top yet also full of drama (and not
cheap and cheesy melodrama...despite some of the odd dialogue, it's actually
rather good drama).  The first nine episodes of the series are on this
two-disc set, a somewhat odd choice given that there's not much in the way of
bonus features to fill up the rest of the space (just some 'clean credits'
sequences and previews).  There'a little nudity, a LOT of blood, and plenty
of kick-splode action.  Also, now I know where "Gespy" in Gold Digger is
from.  :)  I just got the basic set, the special version with a CD single of
the opening and closing themes wasn't worth the extra $15 to me.  Strongly
recommended.  $19.99 at Best Buy, also available online at Amazon.com (but,
oddly, not at DeepDiscount.com, my usual online source).
     Batman Gotham Knight: Warner Pictures/DC - I've heard this nicknamed
"The Anibatrix", and it's apt.  Numerous creators take shots at portraying
the Christian Bale iteration of Batman as he progresses from the end of
Batman Begins to (presumably) the start of the Dark Knight.  There's a sort
of loose arc linking the pieces, but they don't worry about trying to tell a
single story.  None of the segments struck me as bad, fortunately, although
none of them *really* wowed me either.  It was nice to hear Conroy as Batman
again, though, and some of the setting ideas were interesting (like turning
the entire Narrows into a sort of Escape from New York extension of Arkham).
There's also a ten minute preview of the upcoming Wonder Woman animated movie
(no finished animation, but a lot of storyboard stuff and design sheets),
which looks promising.  If we can't have DCAU, letting Timm and Romano mess
around with stuff like Gotham Knight or Wonder Woman is a nice consolation
prize.  I got the Target version, which includes the Batman Beyond "movie"
(the first couple of episodes) on the disc as an extra, rather than tossing a
second disc into the mix.  (Best Buy's offers concession stand cash that I
wouldn't use, and Wal-Mart's is two bucks more expensive for a lenticular
gimmick sleeve.)  The two-disc special version didn't tempt me, as it was
mainly interviews and some BTAS eps...and I have all of the BTAS/NABR/etc
season sets.  Recommended.  $12.99 during the first week at Target, will go
up to $14.99 if you wait.

     Books of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Booster Gold
#1,000,000, Transformers The Ark II

     Ninja High School #161: Antarctic Press - The Rumplestiltkin plot
bounces to the fore (some elements of it bounce more than others, mind you),
and things go boom.  Nice character arc work for Sora, and to a lesser
extent, Ricky.  Recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn
     Invincible Iron Man #3: Marvel - Well, they can't make Tony not be
Director of SHIELD, but Fraction does what he can to evoke the Iron Man movie
in this issue, with an extended flashback on the Stane/Stark conflict of the
1980s (realtime) and waving around a piece of tech that looks like the Arc
Reactor movie-Tony put in his chest.  And, as long as we're having 80s
flashbacks, they update the Raiders (those guys in lame blue and gold armors
from the Hammer/Stane days).  Recommended, largely on nostalgia.
     The Last Defenders #5 (of 6): Marvel - Yandroth spends most of the issue
sort-of explaining things to Richmond, although it's a sort of "I have
trouble even thinking DOWN to your level" explanation that doesn't
particularly enlighten our hero.  Still, if you're going to commit to a
plotline that in-story invokes retroactive continuity, a certain amount of
"damn the sensemaking, full speed ahead" attitude is necessary and even
commendable.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Amazing Spider-Man #565: Marvel - The "Brand New Day" banner is finally
gone (although I did a doubletake when I noticed "Brand New May" on
Spider-Girl's cover), giving way to "Kraven's First Hunt".  Mind you,
Guggenheim spends the entire issue being coy about the identity of the perosn
hunting Spider-Man, not even giving it away on the last page, which makes the
banner a bit of an editorial OOPS.  Jimenez plays around with the visual
storytelling more than he usually does, and it doesn't always work.  Still,
it's an interesting start, and while there's only limited twists possible in
what Guggenheim set up, he does a decent job with them.  Recommended.
     Marvel Adventures Hulk #13: Marvel - Peter David picks up the reins this
issue, hence my starting to buy it.  :)  They really should have found a way
to give Bill Mumy a listing in the credits of this one, though.  The story's
a bit too cutesy in its "here's some foreshadowing, now here's the payoff"
structure, and it feels a little too much like writing down.  Still amusing,
but not really PAD's best work.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn 
     Justice Society of America #17: DC - More Happy Gog.  Happy (and
suspicious) JSA.  Flying monkeys.  Mr. Terrific seems to have the power of
super-atheism.  :)  Recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn
     Green Arrow and Black Canary #10: DC - Big brawl with the League of
Assassins.  Lots of fun banter and interesting combat...Winick is enjoying
himself and it shows.  Recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn
     Booster Gold #1,000,000: DC - Leave no event un-referenced!  The One
Million stuff is really just a cameo, though, another thing to make Booster
feel like crap so that Jurgens can make his day as bad as possible before
turning it around.  And turn around it does, quite nicely.  In fact, the
issue wraps up so well that if the book were cancelled it would have made a
perfectly satisfying final issue.  Strongly recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn  (Oh,
and I did check Previews, #12 is coming out next month, don't worry.)
     Number of the Beast #7 (of 8): DC/Wildstorm - A bit more infodump, more
fight sceneing, and setting up for the big explosions of the finale.  Some
echoes of Project Superpowers, convergent thinking at work.  Recommended.
$2.99 US/Cn
     Transformers All Hail Megatron #1: IDW - While the Autobots go running
off to deal with the plot in Spotlight (and we see in the final scene a
little of how that might have turned out, along with some Classics 2.0
cameos), the Decepticons are left behind to do whatever they feel like on
Earth.  And that, this issue, is mainly "blow stuff up".  McCarthy's story is
a bit predictable and by the numbers, but a decent read, and at least he
knows which numbers to run.  Recommended.  $3.99 (I got cover B, but didn't
really get a choice...no copies made it to the sheld, so I got what was put
in my folder.)
     Transformers Saga of the AllSpark #1: IDW - Furman writes, Senior and
Roche draw (two stories), setting is the 2007 movie continuity.  Between
Senior's art and the odd choice of page dimensions (large bottom margins as a
result) it had a very TF UK feel.  Both stories are set about the time the
AllSpark was launched from Cybertron, with Prime's story (Senior) dealing
with the launch and Megatron's (Roche) with the start of the chase.  And to
further muddle matters, Brawl gets called Devastator here.  There looks to be
a time travel element being tossed in as well, hopefully it won't end in too
much of a Cosmic Reset Button (i.e. certain characters may need to lose parts
of their memories to avoid conflict with the movie).  There's a couple of
movie-continuity Mosaics, neither of which is all that good.  Provisionally
recommended.  $3.99  (I got cover A, but same deal, not really a choice.)
[Later note: I'm informed that these are reprints from a UK TF magazine,
which explains the dimensions of the pages and the use of "Devastator".]
     Transformers the Ark II: IDW - This time out it's the control art for
all the Japanese TF cartoons, from Headmasters through the un-produced Star
Convoy and Battlestars material.  I'll be covering this in more detail in a
separate review, but suffice to say this is a very good resource for fans and
artists despite the lack of color or even color references.  There's more
text this time, since it's expected American fans won't be as familiar with
the Japanese continuities.  Also, while volume 1 was brought to us by
Budiansky's basement, Hydra Darkwings (a major player in bringing fan
translations of the Japanese stuff to fans) is the main source of material
here.  Recommended.  $19.99 (208 pages).

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 7/10: Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #40.


"Magma Hot" Award to Ninja High School #161

"Well, He Finally Gave Her A Ring" Award to The Invincible Iron Man #3

"Listen To The Man, He Knows From Angst" Award to The Last Defenders #5 (of

"Sniper's Triangle" Award to Amazing Spider-Man #565

"Cry Havok?" Award to Marvel Adventures Hulk #13

"Um, Rapport Is The Word You're Looking For" Award to Justice Society of
     America #17

"World's Ballsiest Identity Thief" Award to Green Arrow and Black Canary #10

"World's Most Complicated Family Reunion Picnic" Award to Booster Gold

"Who Watches The Watchers Who Watch The Watchmen?" Award to Number of the 
     Beast #7 (of 8)

"We Come In Peace, Shoot To Kill" Award to Transformers All Hail Megatron #1

"Is He Even Smart Enough To HAVE An Identity Crisis?" Award to Transformers
     Saga of the AllSpark #1

"Hall Of Head(master)s" Award to Transformers the Ark II

     Dave Van Domelen, "Well...it looks like we have -- what is the
expression? -- 'A MEXICAN STAND-OFF'?"  "Minus the Mexicans."  "I'm Mexican."
"Get out!  REALLY?  Tough to tell with all the, y'know, FUR."  "PLEASE shut
the hell up." - five different members of the League of Assassins, Green
Arrow and Black Canary #10
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