July 24, 2013

Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and Awards

Intermittent Picks and Pans of Comics and Related Media 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 And now it's back to Missouri, but the other corner of it from last time. Uncertain when my next review post will happen, as I expect to be pretty busy in August settling into a new job in a new town. Sadly, MLP #9 was delayed to next week, so unless Books-A-Million in Joplin has a copy when I get around to visiting it, looks like digital for me. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None, although if like me you managed to miss that The Twelve finished, it's worth going back for. In this installment: Beware the Batman (ep1), Bandette #6, Batman '66 #1-3, Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #1 (of 5), The Twelve #9-12, Double Barrel #11, My Little Pony Micro-Series #6, Astro City #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. Beware the Batman: DC/Cartoon Network - I gave the first episode a try. Rather odd to see a completely unfamiliar villain in the very first episode (I was later told that he's a Morrison creation from the recent comics), but the novelty of that didn't really compensate for an animation style that's basically Green Lantern but dark. The same sort of plasticky look to everyone, riding an uncomfortable boundary between cartoony and textured. The story also seemed to be riding a similar boundary, with equally unsatisfying results. Oh, it wasn't bad, and some of the choices were different (although one or two felt like differences just for the sake of being different), but nothing that inspired me to watch any further episodes. I expect to see the new Wolverine movie, although I'm not sure it'll still be in theaters by the time I get around to the next Capsules post. Digital Content: Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so, I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. I will often be reading these things on my iPod if it's at all possible. Bandette #5: Monkey Brain Press - Really nothing to say about this one. Fluffy light entertainment, but it was very decompressed on the plot, to the extent the plot felt somewhat extraneous to the banter. That'd be okay if the banter grabbed me, but the affected tone Tobin is using here doesn't quite click. Mildly recommended. 99 cents at ComiXology. Batman '66 #1-3: DC - Speaking of affectations, the colorist's decision here to randomly drop faux-screentone dots here and there really jarred. It wasn't a consistent attempt to replicate 1960s color separations, it was totally out of place on a property based on a color television show, and it ended up just feeling like a hollow attempt to feel "mod" in some way. Seriously, colorists are often neglected when it comes to praise for a book, but it doesn't take much for them to grab blame, which happens here. Parker's story is okay. He has the tone of the Adam West series down pretty well, but as with a lot of comic adaptations it simply can't capture the other side of the equation: the actors. Whether it's Batman or Firefly or Farscape...the writing is only part of it, the timing and delivery of the cast is a necessary component. So, we have a decently written piece of camp, marred somewhat by bad coloring choices, and that's about it. Oh, and it uses the same basic style as Marvel's "infinite" comics, where the art may stay the same for several "pages" while the dialogue bubbles change (although there's a print version, unlike the fully "infinite" comics). Mildly recommended. 99 cents an issue, weekly. #1-3 are collected as a single $3.99 floppy. Atomic Robo and the Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur #1 (of 5): After a replacement artist and a flashback arc, we're back to Clevinger and Wegener picking up right after the end of the Station X series. The series subtitle kinda gives away the big reveal at the end of the issue, but...well, it's DR. DINOSAUR. Serious drama need not apply. And that's an interesting choice, given that the first half of the issue is loaded with serious drama and the fallout (albeit not literal) of Robo's struggle against Station X. Dr. Dinosaur exists to take the piss out of SRS PLOTZ, which is probably necessary at this point. Station X ended on one of the most downbeat notes of any Atomic Robo stories (matched only, maybe, by the backup in which Robo confront's Tesla's killer), and even taking a flashback break wasn't going to fix that (especially since the whole Majestic-12 thing is definitely an ongoing problem now). So, BEHOLD! DR. DINOSAUR! Hopefully next issue things will get more into the swing of the good doctor's stories, because this time did suffer a bit from needing to play emotional whiplash. Still some good bits, of course, even before DD enters the fray. Recommended. $2.99 at ComiXology. The Twelve #9-12: Marvel - These came out last year and I either didn't notice or didn't care enough to pay full cover price for digital comics (and Hastings didn't get the paper copies). But with the digital version of #7-12 coming out this month, I was reminded to go see what issues were available on ComiXology and grabbed 'em for $1.99 each. I'm just going to review the final third of the series all at once, rather than try to break it up by issue. Finally, JMS wraps up a story after a delay and it's more than worth the wait. The mystery builds to a crescendo quite nicely, and while the "who" was fairly clear from early on, the "how" was the real mystery, and it ties together pretty well in the climax in #11. #12 is denounment and getting the survivors set up for potential future use (which doesn't seem to be happening, but them's the breaks). By the end, we have the True Origins of all of the Twelve, which are often quite at odds with the original Golden Age stories told about them...but at least one is left uncertain. Was the new origin really the truth, or was the "lie" it exposed the real story? But in the end, all twelve get some sort of resolution, if only a new direction To Be Continued in. The series as a whole is a bit too talky, and despite the one aforementioned uncertain case, JMS is too enamored of the Everything You Know Is Wrong school of modernization, but it works well in the end. Recommended. $1.99 an issue at ComiXology, or $11.99 for each six-issue Trade Etherback. Double Barrel #11: Evil Twin - Okay, NOW we're on the penultimate chapters of Heck and Crater XV. Oh, and a side thought that came to me while reading Heck, but not really related to the plot: if Hell is for punishment, every so often a hero must be allowed in so that the devils can be punished as well. There was no Penny From The Front this time, although it was referenced in the "No Regrets" strip that ran under the lettercol. Heck: Almost entirely a big fight scene with Heck versus the serially numbered underlings of Satan, intercut with thin slices of flashback. Of course, since this is in Hell, Heck doesn't stand a snowball's chance, but it's Satan's game, and he plays a looooong game. A good read. Crater XV: Where Heck's penultimate chapter has a pretty singular vision, this one is all over the place. Half a dozen or so main plot threads still flailing about, criss-crossing and making me unsure they'll even all tie up properly. Yeah, at least one I can see being left deliberately dangling as the hook for the next Army Shanks story, but I suspect a couple might "resolve" via the involved parties getting shoved off-stage in some fashion, either fatal or non-. Clandestinauts: After splitting up all over the place, the stories are starting to converge again, but the large cast and deliberately messy style continues to make it hard to follow the action. Like, which burly pile of grotesque muscles is this one again? Jin: The usual cuteness, and a side benefit of how YouTube doesn't really filter for languages very well when you search on videos. As in, sometimes giving you the German-language version when you were looking for English (or vice-versa, I suppose). How To: This time was about creating distinctive characters, aka "Avoiding the Bruce Wayne Effect." Or the "Everyone is Hank Pym" effect someone once observed about the head shots in the OHOTMU books. Most of it is focused on making up characters for your own work, but there's a section on specific issues that arise when designing for someone else (i.e. keep the character from regressing to the mean without making them a Jack of Hearts type that no one wants to draw). Overall, a decent issue. Recommended. $1.99 at ComiXology. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Nothing this time. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? My Little Pony Micro-Series #6: IDW - Finally, the iconically overshadowed Applejack. As in, even in the TV episodes that are supposed to spotlight her, she's upstaged by her nominal supporting cast. And as one person on the AllSpark board quipped, in this story she gets upstaged by a pair of dentures! Well, not really, but artist Hickey does demonstrate that equine dentures are very freaky. Part of the problem with AJ-centric stories is that, really, she doesn't have much of a dramatic hook. Her primary flaw is actually an excess of virtue, she's just too responsible. And being a grind doesn't lend itself to a whole lot of plotlines, with Applebuck Season and the family reunion episode using up most of 'em. As a result, this story feels like a lot of it has been done before, just with different details...because it has. Still, Curnow and Hickey do a good job putting a fresh coat of paint on it. Recommended. $3.99 Astro City #2: DC/Vertigo - While #1 felt like it was going to be directly continued...it isn't. This is a totally separate story, focusing on other characters. It's thematically tied to #1, though, in that it explores the difference someone who is mundane and below the radar can make. But I can't really say more without giving away the Big Reveal early in the issue, which is a bit more spoilery than I want to go. :) On the down side, if #3 is also another completely different story, it's going to get annoying pretty fast, because this issue ends on a significant emotional cliffhanger. Well, also a regular old "stuff blowing up" cliffhanger, but that's kinda secondary. Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "How is it you can go around saying things like that like they're NOT insane?" - Lang, Atomic Robo v8 #1
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