July 14, 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 I had an opthalmic migraine last week, it turns out. Sparkly! Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Avengers Academy #2 "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. Nothing this week. 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. The Transformers #9: IDW - The timeline skips ahead a few months, to let any aftermath of Wreckers happen in the gap. Despite opening with several pages of combat, it's mostly another talky issue with the biggest threat to the Autobots being not the Combaticons but instead Stupid Politicians HUR HUR. Takes a promising, if slow, start and rather dampens it, as if Costa regrets having ended the "Autobots in hiding" plot element and wants it back NAO. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 The Brave and the Bold #35: DC - The Inferior Five and the Legion of Substitute Heroes, I had to give it a try (and hope JMS didn't mess either group up too much). And...it's okay. The Subs come off as more petty than they were in the original stories, and the I5's breaking of the fourth wall meshes poorly with the Silver Age Subs we see here. The Giffen-ized Subs would have fit a lot better. Mildly recommended. $2.99 R.E.B.E.L.S. #18: DC - Mind you, Vril regained control of L.E.G.I.O.N. several issues ago, so the title doesn't really make sense anymore. I suppose it could again soon, if Lyrl has his way. The main plot is a sort of family reunion of Doxes, but the only member of the family who doesn't actively want at least one of the others dead is Brainiac 1...because he really doesn't care about his offspring enough to bother. But he'll still give it a go if it looks like he might benefit from the results. The Captain Comet/Starfire subplot bumps along, ably demonstrating that not all societies equate love and sex. Recommended. $2.99 Booster Gold #34: DC - Set before Maxwell Lord returned to being known to the world, I suppose, I'm not following enough other parts of the event to really be sure. But Booster gets sidetracked into a "JLBWAHAHA" adventure involving Ted, Scott and Barda along with a villain straight out of those old days. But Giffen and DeMatteis don't make the mistake of trying to pretend like those days didn't end, and a LOT of Booster's internal monologue concerns how much he's changed since then, and as nice as it might be to wallow in nostalgia, it's not really who he is anymore. Fortunately, it's less of a heavy-handed indictment of the comics industry than my summary makes it sound like. :) Recommended. $2.99 Adventure Comics #516: DC - "Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes the Early Years" as the lead story, the Atom as backup. Strictly speaking, the lead story takes place in the "current" Legion time, but with young Clark Superboy along to watch a message from beyond the grave from R.J. Brande. Yep, it's time for the latest round of retcons on Brande's origins. The art's kinda wobbly and it's rather talky, but a decent story under the surface flaws. The Atom backup is very short, and notable to me only because the art is by Mahmud Asrar of Dynamo5. I don't even know what the Atom's current status is...it's Ray Palmer, but is he de-aged, rebooted, whatever...dunno, don't really care, story doesn't make me interested in finding out. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Astro City Special: Silver Agent #1 (of 2): DC/Wildstorm - Most of this issue fleshes out the origin of the Silver Agent, told in flashback from the future that he was pulled forwards to save. (The less said about the menace he saves it from, the better. Sometimes hokey retro-cliche archness falls utterly flat.) The setup for his backwards journey of The Dark Age is established, but it's implied that his execution at the end of that trip isn't actually the end...or at least, that we didn't see the whole trip. It's...okay. I can't really say that I've been eagerly awaiting this and that my high expectations have been unmet, because the story never really grabbed me anyway. And it's still just sort of...there. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #637: Marvel - Grim Hunt part 4 of 4. Several characters get their "dead/not dead" status flags flipped this issue, some of whom just had them flipped already during this arc. This isn't to say there's no permanent changes as a result of the arc, nor that all the changes are as trivial as Arana's costume change (making Young Allies #1 set after this arc, as if that wasn't already clear). The Kaine backup's art combines with excessively symbolic storytelling to make a muddied mess, unfortunately. Recommended. $3.99 Avengers Academy #2: Marvel - Heroic Age banner. Finesse gets the focus this issue, and does the narration. And Gage does a very good job of making her one scary young lady...a regular Villain's Apprentice. It's not that she's evil, per se, but rather she's the classic "my morality isn't your morality" villain type. She has her goals, she will attain them, and while she won't go out of her way to hurt anyone along the way, neither will she hesitate to do so if she thinks it's necessary. Unless she finds a reason to stay firmly on the side of the good guys (and, to be anything but treacly, it'll have to be a REASON, not some sort of emotional breakthrough), she has the potential to be one of the most dangerous villains in the Marvel Universe. Why? Because she not only has the talent to do just about everything, she's able to look at the world coldly and pierce the genre conventions and societal blinkers. Being genre savvy is usually played for comedic effect, but it can be pretty chilling as well, and Finesse is running that angle. The story itself clunks a bit in places, but the character study is very good. Strongly recommended. $2.99 Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #4: Marvel - Nova on the cover and his logo meant my store (like may others, no doubt) shelved this in N rather than M. Not that this is a Nova focus issue, mind you. Not that this seems to matter to whoever's been in charge of picking the covers for this series. Anyway, it's far more of an ensemble issue than most of Tobin's Avengers stories, with the focus (and plots) split pretty evenly among the characters. It IS kinda weird seeing Kraven as "jerkwad bounty hunter" here right after reading Amazing Spider-Man, though. Recommended. $2.99 Gorilla-Man #1 (of 3): Marvel - I greet this with mixed feelings, having found out that Parker is ending Atlas at #5 rather than submit to another round of crossovers and sales stunts to keep it alive. Anyway, Parker writes a rollickin' tale with a good mix of 50s weirdness and modern "things should probably make SOME sense" sensibilities. There's a Bond-movie-ish opening teaser fight before getting into the main plot, which is itself interrupted by some flashbacks of Ken Hale's youth. Caracuzzo's art has some of that EC Comics feel to it (and more than a little Joe Staton flavoring, especially in the women) and once I got used to it I could see it was a pretty good fit for the story as well. There's two backups. In the first, Ken twitters with fans, while the second is a reprint of the cover story of Weird Wonder Tales #7, which itself was a reprint of a story from Mystery Tales #21 from 1954 (where it wasn't the cover story, so they used the reprint so they could have the cover too), the origin story of Arthur Nagan of the Headmen. I guess it never sank in for me that Nagan was an expat from the horror comics, I thought he was just another weird Defenders creation. (Yes, all the original Headmen were horror transplants, with their origins reprinted in Weird Wonder Tales #7...Ruby Tuesday was a 70s creation to give them their pink ranger.) Recommended. $3.99 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 7/14/10: Invincible #72, Prince of Power #2, Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #3, Legion of Super-Heroes #2, Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #2, the Thanos Sourcebook. Brody's Ghost vol 1 was listed by Diamond as shipping, but Mark Crilley tells me Dark Horse just got their copies from the printer today, so for once it's not Diamond's fault. Awards: "North Korea Is Ruled By A South Korean Actor, Apparently" Award to The Transformers #9 (Kim Jong-Il has many kids, none of whom are named Kim Jong-Du) "Dots And Dox" Award to R.E.B.E.L.S. #18 "But Does Scott Free Have A CD Full Of Designs Using Swing Sets?" Award to Booster Gold #34 "In Soviet Durla, Shape Changes YOU!" Award to Adventure Comics #516 "If Only They'd Thought To Grab It With Their Left Hand!" Award to Astro City Special: Silver Agent #1 (of 2) "To Be A Dentist, You Need A Talent For Causing Pain" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #637 "Tigra Obviously Doesn't Check The Right Dating Boards" Award to Avengers Academy #2 (or the really, really WRONG ones, I suppose) "Maybe Reed's Right To Worry" Award to Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #4 "There's Inbred, There's Redneck, And Then There's Borgia Omega" Award to Gorilla-Man #1 (of 3) Dave Van Domelen, "But I LIKE complex death traps!" "I KNOW you do, dear. And I'm SURE we'll find ourselves stuck in one before the day's OVER." - Mister Miracle and Big Barda, Booster Gold #34 Bonus Quote: "I liked it when she was just HOT. Hot and mysterious is gonna be trouble." - Spider-Man
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