July 21, 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 think my uninterruptible power supply is dying, and killing my Mac. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): The AllSpark Almanac II, PS238 #45 "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. The AllSpark Almanac II: IDW - Okay, so Transformers: Animated only got three seasons, but that didn't stop them from putting out a second volume of the AllSpark Almanac just as big as the first. It helps that season 3 involved a lot more Cybertronian stuff, so there's loads of background characters that need entries. But they stretched even further, adding material like a galactic map (that spans all three seasons) or creating identities and profiles for all the characters who only showed up in the 2009 April Fool's gag (such as Slapper). The phrase "wealth of detail" is certainly appropriate here. Of course, some of the details have already caused FANDOM SHATTERING ARGUMENTS (like the implication that the Sideways who was an extension of Unicron in Armada is the same guy as the Sideways who got jobbed in Revenge of the Fallen), but that'll happen. I am also amused that in at least one case a bit of disputed trivia got settled by the simple fact that one of the arguers wrote this book and put his view down as canon. ;) Anyway, the Season 3 material is about two thirds of the book or so. The last third of the book is all about process. Design sketches, script development, animation models, toy models, voice actors, deleted scenes, etc. There's even a couple of pages that lay out what would have happened in Season 4 had it not been scrapped, plus toy designs that will never come to shelves (along with an official note from Hasbro apologizing for the fact that these prototypes will never be made into actual toys, implying that for every toy we see there's a bunch of these protos in limbo). I particularly appreciated the section in which full, clean versions of all the package art for the toys are shown. I've been bothered on occasion when trying to reference package art (either to draw that character, or to steal some of their design elements for a different character) by the fact that the legs are often cut off, or an arm covered by the logo, etc. But it's all there now. As an added bonus, one three-page section addresses the whole multiverse thing, giving a place to things like Tonka's GoBots, the Inhumanoids, Starriors and other properties that Hasbro either always owned or has since acquired. And a little bit of Armada/Energon business gets taken care of along the way, giving Alexis a canonical last name. :) If you have even a passing interest in Transformers: Animated, you want to get this book. If you're not at all interested in Transformers, you might want to at least page through it on the shelf should you see it, because this is a rather unique design aesthetic for the line and it may surprise you (although AllSpark Almanac I would be better overall for the uninitiated). With those caveats, I give it a Strongly Recommended. $19.99 cover price, cheaper at most online sources. 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. Thanos Sourcebook: Marvel - This is a mix of "Marvel Saga" summary and rosterbook. The two summaries are a biography of Thanos himself and a recap of the various Cosmic Marvel storylines from Annihilation onward. There's some overlap, of course, and some groaners of editing errors. The roster part gives half-page entries written by Richard Rider to most of the important players, although it leaves out all of the X-book-specific characters like Vulcan or Lilandra. I haven't really been following the cosmic stuff, so I was a bit surprised by some of the characters in here. Recommended. $3.99 Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #2 (of 6): DC/ABC - It's exposition time, as Tom Strong's son explains how he conquered the world. Then a plot device happens and gives Tom a shot at fixing things. Hopefully the rest of the series will be more about the Robots of Doom (which seem moderately interesting) and less about another Nazi-world time travel story. Sorry, but Willingham poisoned that particular well pretty badly over in JSA. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Legion of Super-Heroes #2: DC - Something of a spacer issue, dealing with the aftermath of Titan's destruction without quite yet dealing with the "Earth Man as Green Lantern" thread beyond a few "Hey, how does this thing work?" musing on his part. One niggling annoyance is that despite the plethora of explantory captions and narration boxes in this issue, it's not explained here or in #3 why Tyroc's sonic powers are working in space. Okay, I know they're handwavy plotdevice powers in the first place, but even a line about how their handwaviness lets them work in space would have been nice. A decent issue, but I don't particularly regret not getting to read it right away. Mildly 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 Nefarious #5: IDW - You know, Surprise Reveals work a lot better when you don't mangle the designs so far that the character being revealed is nigh-unrecognizable. I think this is the penutimate issue, although IDW's refusal to label miniseries as such and the bad pacing so far means I can't really be sure. Eh. Neutral. $3.99 Time Lincoln Fists of Fuhrer #1: Antarctic Press - Okay, there's time travel Nazi conquerors here too, but they're DemoNazis led by MepHitler granted power from alternate timelines and faced by the Void Powers of Time Lincoln. So, you know, different. :) Another one-shot, but we're starting to get a sense of an overall storyline here, the story hinted at in the overly summary-full first Time Lincoln comic. Recommended. $3.99 Legion of Super-Heroes #3: DC - Hm. Three issues in, and it feels like Levitz's just shotgunning plot points then dropping them once he's gotten them on the page. Oh, there's an overall plot that seems like it probably ties together the missing twins and the destruction of Titan, but a lot of the other stuff gets wrapped up awfully quickly, before the ideas can really be developed past the surface level. Mildly recommended. $3.99 X-Factor #207: Marvel - Whew, the crossover is over, back to focusing on homegrown plots. Or, you know, maybe get tangled up in two or three other crossovers in passing. :) (Oh, not really, just a weird couple of guest characters, including one I didn't see coming and have no idea the current disposition of, so he COULD be dragging a crossover behind him, I suppose.) Oh, and normally showing the sort of cover that #208 has as a teaser would be kinda spoilery, but after the last page it's not only not a spoiler, it's not even the least bit unexpected. ;) Recommended. $2.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #638: Marvel - The Grim Hunt is over, now it's One Moment In Time, aka OMIT. I've been avoiding the advance press on this, so all I knew was that it was going to look back at the wedding that didn't happen, so I was pleasantly surprised by how they chose to do it. The framing story is Peter and MJ finally sitting down and talking about the failed wedding, and the flashback is a mix of pages (sometimes tweaked) from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (the wedding issue) and new art. Magic works best when it works least, and we get to see the subtle changes Mephisto set in motion in order to steal the marriage away. I'll even give Quesada the benefit of the doubt and allow that he may have had the general idea worked out back before One More Day. The mix is a little jarring in places, due to the rather dated topical references in the original piece (like a telegram being sent to MJ at one point) and the rapidly becoming dated references ("...but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express.") added by Quesada in the new material. Paolo Rivera might not have been the best choice for the new scenes, because he has a hard time meshing with Paul Ryan's style...and I'm pretty sure Ryan himself is still available. Quesada draws the framing sequence with some pretty shameless photoref and a LOT of downcast faces. Anyway, remarkably stupid initial idea, but still a good story coming out of it. Recommended, if you can abide by "tainted fruit". $3.99 Thunderbolts #146: Marvel - The Heroic Age banner. Last issue's mystery and cliffhanger gets wrapped up rapidly (although it might lead to a new team member later) and it's off to the next mission, which ends in another cliffhanger which may well get resolved equally quickly next time. Parker's in danger of falling into a formula here, hopefully he breaks the pattern soon. The art is still ugly, although it worked well in the panel where Moonstone asks if the nose filters she's being handed had a previous owner. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Atlas #3 (of 5): Marvel - Speaking of ugly art, Hardman's work is not only not growing on me, it's un-growing on me. Withering on me? Eh. The parts that worked for me in #1 aren't working as well, and the parts that didn't work are not-working even more thoroughly. The story feels a little scattered, although that may be a side effect of not wanting to look at the art. I much prefer the M-11 backup story with much cleaner and clearer art from Rosanas. The facts of the story have been told before by Parker, but this is a slightly different point of view and all in one place. Recommended mainly for the backup. $2.99 Dynamo5 Sins of the Father #2 (of 5): Image - The rest of the flashback gets told this issue and the heroes assemble to fight the sons of the old worldbeater baddie, with a vintage explanation for why most of the shared universe heroes are indisposed. (Seriously, in the old days if you wanted to do a major earthshattering event, you didn't have to sell it as a crossover through twenty books, just come up with a rationale for everyone else to be unable to participate, have a few guest stars so that the rationale didn't have to stretch TOO far, and have at it.) Julio Brilha's art is a bit uneven in places, and I miss Asrar's work on the team, but Brilha does have his moments, like the opening splash page. The backup is essentially the origin story for Notorious, Faerber using pretty economical storytelling after the fashion of silver age backup stories. Recommended. $3.99 PS238 #45: Do Gooder Press - The plot is largely wind-down as the various Argosian stuff gets dealt with one way or another and the PS238-verse gets its version of Arcade (with a bit of the Fan.dom of the Alt.ra thrown in). No great shakes there. But the dialogue had me consistently laughing out loud, and that's more than enough. Strongly 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 7/21/10: Invincible #72, Prince of Power #2, Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #3, Brody's Ghost vol 1. Add Prince of Power #3, Tranquility One Foot In The Grave #1, Phoenix Force Handbook. Awards: "So Much For My Version Of Sky-Byte" Award to The AllSpark Almanac II "Does Thrash Know Jack Stole His Mask?" Award to Thanos Sourcebook "How Hard Can It Be To Totally Reprogram Something That Can't Have More Than 10K of RAM?" Award to Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #2 (of 6) "Soon, Every Afro-Wearing Hero Of The 70s Will Be Bald!" Award to Legion of Super-Heroes #2 "Coffee Will Be The Death Of You Yet" Award to Transformers Nefarious #5 "Did Pinkerton Give Lincoln The Konami Code?" Award to Time Lincoln: Fists of Fuhrer #1 "Under The Aegis Of The Corps" Award to Legion of Super-Heroes #3 "Yeah, She's Hot, But She Looks A Lot Better Clothed Than Unclothed" Award to X-Factor #207 "Now I Have Freddie Mercury's Voice Running Through My Head" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #638 "On The Internet, Nobody Knows You're Half-Tro...Er, Wait" Award to Thunderbolts #146 "He Ain't No Chimp Nor Chump" Award to Atlas #3 (of 5) "Just Because It Doesn't Hurt Doesn't Meant It Can't Suck A Lot" Award to Dynamo5 Sins of the Father #2 (of 5) "That There Is A 25 Point Psych Lim, Forak" Award to PS238 #45 Dave Van Domelen, "Good plan. Now what?" "I didn't know I HAD a plan. I'm just used to OBEYING DEMANDS." - 84 and Forak, PS238 #45
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