July 28, 2016

Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et Cetera

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 I had my wisdom teeth out this week, less unpleasant than Civil War II. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Lego DC Comics Super Heroes Justice League Gotham City Breakout, The Drawing Lesson: A Graphic Novel That Teaches You To Draw. In this installment: Orchid, Lego DC Comics Super Heroes Justice League Gotham City Breakout, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, Overwatch #7-8, KFC: Crisis of Infinite Colonels, Transformers Titans Return: the Power of the Titan Masters, DC SuperHero Girls Finals Crisis, Dreamjumper Book One: Nightmare Escape, The Drawing Lesson: A Graphic Novel That Teaches You To Draw, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #9, The Totally Awesome Hulk #8-9, Ms. Marvel v2 #9, Gold Digger #233-234, Invader Zim #11, Astro City #37, Hanna-Barbera Future Quest #2, Kaijumax Season 2 #3, Ragnarok #9, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #44, The Transformers #54, Transformers Till All Are One #2, Transformers More than Meets the Eye #55 Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Toil and Trouble #5, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #4, Transformers Til All Are One #1, Hanna-Barbera Future Quest #3 (Diamond reported the shipment was damaged), Transformers: Titans Return (one shot). Transformers #55 also apparently came out some places, but wasn't on Diamond's own shipping list, so that just may be weird international distribution. "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. Orchid: Kindle Store - A novella set in the same world as The Adventures of Jack & Miracle Girl, a year or two later. A tighter story with a smaller cast, it does suffer from being a mystery with a really obvious villain (the significantly higher pagecount and sprawling nature of tAoJ&MG allowed for a greater number of suspects and a larger chance that Big Al would be no one else we'd seen before, Orchid's story doesn't have the space for that sort of thing). Blake Nelson doesn't assume the reader has picked up the previous books, taking advantage of the existing worldbuilding but not leaving new readers at sea. Having all the scenes be from the POV of a neophyte hero from another city helps, since the reader will be no more confused than Orchid, and may well know more than she (very slight spoilering if you read this first and then the other two books, though). An engaging enough read, despite the predictability. Recommended. $2.99 Kindle edition. Electra-Woman and Dyna-Girl: Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures - Ugh. Two main problems with this. One, it feels like a handful of 3-5 minute skits that they decided to expand into a full movie...and then realized it was a horrible mistake after they'd committed to it. The actors deliver a lot of padded, cliche-ridden scenes with a sort of teeth-gritting committment to their craft, but the enthusiasm doesn't seem to be there. Two, it's not a superhero story, it's an "indie rockers make it big" story that is clearly embarassed by its own superheroics. The FX are cartoonishly gory (unpowered human hero "accidentally" pulls a guy's arm clean off, superhero gets killed by a bar shot through his torso that leaves a faintly dripping hole, etc) and looks like something the Sharknado people would be unwilling to sign their names to. There's a few okay bits, probably the original skit ideas, but I actually skipped over much of the middle because the cliche density was getting toxic. Avoid this turdburger. $10 on Amazon or at Walmart. Lego DC Comics Superheroes Justice League: Gotham City Breakout: DC/Lego - The latest Lego DC movie, and a welcome antitode to EW&DG. It's really two stories told in parallel: Batman is convinced to take a vacation, but it goes sideways at the first stop; meanwhile, Superman takes care of Gotham City in Batman's absence and his overconfidence leads to comical disaster. While there's a few flubs in the voice casting (Joker most tellingly), a lot of the characters aere voiced by their "normal" VAs, such as Tara Strong as Harley Quinn, Will Friedle as Nightwing, Khary Payton as Cyborg, Scott Menville as Robin, and others. I got the version with the Nightwing minifigure, which is pretty good if simple. Strongly recommended. $15 or so. 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 iPhone if it's at all possible. Overwatch #7: Dark Horse - Gramma Ana gets her spotlight. It's thematically a mirror to her daughter Pharah's story...both start out being all about the professionalism, being a cold killer, etc. But where Pharah's break from that is a character redemption, here it's Ana's downfall. A bit by the numbers, and if you don't know who Widowmaker is the final pages are a bit "Why is that important?" But hey, it's free, worth a look if you're curious about the Overwatch setting. Overwatch #8: Dark Horse - Ana has the cover again, but it's more of an Ana/Reaper/Soldier 76 triple feature. Unlike most of the free Overwatch vignettes, this one is really just a snapshot of a larger story, turning #7's mostly standalone piece into part of an arc. KFC - Crisis of Infinite Colonels: DC/KFC - Yes, they're doing it again, this time with Colonels from across the multiverse, plus a LSH version. Flash from the gender-swap reality does the honors this time. And yes, it's as deliberately baaaaad as you'd expect. But hey, it's free, because it's an ad. Worth seeking out on Comixology purely for the "scare your friends" value. Transformers: Titans Return: The Power of the Titan Masters: IDW - This was actually a free PDF available from Hasbro.com, akin to the pack-in comics that came with Armada toys. Not to be confused with the Titans Return one-shot my store didn't get. One-page "comics" mainly existing to have everyone call out the names of the others on the page, then the stuff from the backs of the trading cards of the first wave or two of toys. Horribly bad writing, but worth picking up if you want the techspec info on toys you haven't bought yet or won't buy. It doesn't have entries for all of the first wave toys, and covers some second or even third wave toys. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. DC Superhero Girls: Finals Crisis GN: DC - Wow. I mean, I read Empowered, and I think this may have an even higher density of Damsel In Distress shots than Emp. The plot is that a mysterious figure is kidnapping the star students one by one on the day before finals, but almost every chapter ends with a teenaged girl tied up or netter or otherwise in restraints (Batgirl's chapter ends in pitch blackness, so her being tied up is implied). What's really weird about this is that the author also wrote the cartoon, so it's not like this is some outsider who doesn't get the characters or the principles of the line. Is it possible this made it all the way to production without anyone pointing out that showing almost the entire cast tied up, even if they later break free and beat the bad guy, may have been a questionable idea? Other than the DiD, there's some good storytelling here, including the use of interweaving chapters: they get captured in rapid succession, so later captives tend to have bits of previous chapters happening in the background, etc. Mildly recommended, but parents might want to be prepared to explain things to their kids about why so many people get tied up. $9.99/$11.99Cn DreamJumper Book One Nightmare Escape: Scholastic - The first chapter was a FCBD book, and interested me enough to give the full thing a try. It's written by the actor Greg Grunberg (who can be seen in theaters right now as the security commander on Yorktown in Star Trek Beyond) based on dreams his son had. It's your basic Monomyth startup, in which the young hero discovers his power, gets some aged mentors who will probably not make it to the final book, and gets some heavy foreshadowing that the main villain is his dad. This might be a red herring, but intricacy of plot isn't really a strong point in this book. There's fun character stuff and good art from Lucas Turnbloom (Axe Cop), and it's worth reading even if the plot twists are obvious. Recommended. $12.99/$16.99Cn The Drawing Lesson: A Graphic Novel That Teaches You How To Draw: Watson-Guptill Publishing - This is probably the first time a How To Draw book has brought a tear to my eye. It tells a story, and a touching one at that. It's essentially a series of dialogues between a young student and his reluctant-at-first teacher, and by giving personalities to the two roles it really helps drive home the various points. Strongly recommended. $18.99/$24.99Cn Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #9: Marvel - The whole issue of Luna's powers is kinda backburnered this issue, and the plot shifts to Mel-Varr's attempts to arrest her for genetic treason against the Kree or somesuch. It really feels like this issue should have come before the discovery of the body switch thing, since a lot of it is focused on Luna trying to figure out where she's going in life, and "trading bodies with a dinosaur" hardly comes up. You'd think that would loom larger, yes? A good introspective issue, it just doesn't feel like it happened in the right spot. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Totally Awesome Hulk #8-9: Marvel - Okay, I've been reading scans of Civil War II, and it's pretty clear that Bendis isn't really looking at the comics being impacted by his "who do I have to kill off to get the heroes fighting this time?" hamfisting. Hulk #8 does a really good job of showing that Bruce Banner is really cured, really at peace, finally no longer a danger to himself or the world. Then Civil War II #3 pretty much ignores that for more cheap dramaz. Hulk #9 tries to repair the damage, but requires that CWII #3's events didn't quite happen the way they were shown, etc. As good as these two issues are, I'm on the verge of dropping the title unless Civil War II retcons itself out of existence, because Bendis is just pissing on too many other books to get his stupid Heroes Fight Heroes event. $3.99 each. Ms. Marvel v2 #9: Marvel - Not a whole lot better here. Oh, Kamala doesn't really appear in the main CW books, but it feels like plots that were going to get developed more organically (such as the classmate of Kamala's who is tagged by FutureCrime) are being rammed through with the power of Bendis's Hamfists. Wilson is doing damage control around the edges, but I just wish Bendis would go away. Give him an alternate reality to play around in again like Ultimate Marvel, and keep him the hell away from books I actually like, lest I stop liking them. Feh. $3.99 Gold Digger #233: Antarctic Press - Another "Gina's Students" one-off in which Kylie and Elroy find their way into someone else's trap and have to avoid being tricked into opening it. It feels like there's a video game or anime reference hidden in here (Majora's Mask, maybe?) but that could be said of most of Perry's work. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger #234: Antarctic Press - And now, a sequel to Gina Diggers: Warnerd of Mars. Of course, since this is a regular issue, everyone is clothed (more or less...but more so than the trapped entity in #233, so). There's a lot of summarizing and exposition since regular readers can't be expected to have read the Kickstarted book, so there's really only about half an issue's worth of actual story. It does manage to pretty definitively close off the possibility of any other Martian revenge plots, tho. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Invader Zim #11: Oni Press - Zim discovers that Dib is allergic to cats, which pretty much goes in the way one might expect. With a detour for a failed experiment in robotic cats. Nothing hilarious, but amusing, and feels like it would have made a decent original series episode. Recommended. $3.99 Astro City #37: DC/Vertigo - The Broken Man is back, to tell us about more stories of Astro City. This time the theme is music, apparently there's a musical spirit that has empowered various superhumans over the decades, perhaps the ghost of a wanderer who died in the area, or maybe he was just a host too. Nice vignettes, but the book is really getting into a rut here when it comes to narration-heavy glimpses at pieces of bigger stories that we'll never get to see play out in full. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 Hanna-Barbera Future Quest #2: DC - Awwww, looks like Parker's not afraid to kill off named characters here. The story backs up a little to show what happened on the other side of the portal that Space Ghost emerged from at the end of #1, and then most of the issue involves everyone on the run from Zin's agents in one way or another. For all the action, it's a bit of a breather in the storyline. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Kaijumax Season 2 #3: Oni Press - Lots of parallel storytelling going on in this issue, even without Electrogor. We get a beginning, middle, and end of life story, with the beginning and ending being the same person (via flashbacks) and the middle being Chisato's growing-up crisis. Chisato is being forced to struggle with the issue of right versus expedient, while high-ranking official Dr. Matsumoto has spent most of her life convincing herself that the "hard" choice (aka the easy choice, the deadly choice) is the right one. Matsumoto's flashbacks are basically the Warren Ellis version of the "Gamera, Friend To All Children" movies...normally I'd look askance at that sort of Feet Of Clay revisionism, but it fits perfectly into the metaphorical setting Cannon has created here. (Perhaps a bit more disturbing is the revelation at the end that there's a planet out there whose ring is entirely made of kaiju bones.) Recommended. $3.99 Ragnarok #9: IDW - Mostly a recuperation issue, counting the cost, reviving those who can be revived, etc. There's one scene not from Thor's location, a bit of foreshadowing for later, but otherwise it's a pretty talky issue. But that's okay, since last issue was almost solid sturm und drang. And despite the generally dour mood, there's a bit of lightness at the end. Recommended. $4.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #44: IDW - Zahler's "Evil Ponies" story continues, mostly showing how various other ponies express their dark sides and spreading the infection. It feels a bit padded, though, like the three-parter was really a two and a half parter or something. A little too much time is spent lingering on the evil aspects, almost belaboring them in some cases. About 10-12 good pages in there. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Transformers #54: IDW - Um...okay. Superion plot devices the plot device and unplotdevices himself in the process, or something along those lines. A definite Jet Jaguar "he reprogrammed himself to grow!" vibe here. And then Soundwave plot devices himself into surrendering, and a really big plot device emerges that looks exactly like a character who's stuck on Cybertron and is probably supposed to be someone else but the artist didn't get correct reference and...meh. Barber is trying really hard to be epic, but it just feels goofy. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers Till All Are One #2: IDW - So, the regular cover wouldn't come up on the order form, so my shop ordered the Subscription cover, which did show as available. And then they got the regular cover anyway. Yay monopolies! Anyway, if The Transformers is shooting for epic, and MtMtE is about the deeply personal stories and time travel weirdness, Till All Are One is taking over the political thriller niche. On top of the various council machinations seen in the short-lived Windblade ongoing, Onslaught is running his own game now, and there may or may not be another hidden actor trying to manipulate events in order to cast Starscream's "Badgeless" law enforcers in a bad light (Onslaught might be behind this too, might not). Oh, and Swindle may or may not be alive. Definitely an interesting read. Recommended. $3.99 Aside, in this month's issues there's a short backup story leading up to the Hasbroverse "Revolution" event, in which they're trying to thread together other properties without contradicting all the trauma inflicted on Earth since All Hail Megatron. It's very narraty, but is making a decent effort to explain how there could have been a GIJoe without them showing up in Transformers, etc. Transformers More than Meets the Eye #55: IDW - Well, the main Dying of the Light plot resolves, but the larger plot that got them stuck on the Necrobot's world does not. I get the feeling that Roberts pulled a Monarch on us here, although it's not as implausible as "Hank Hall is Monarch" was, at least. LOTS of time travel and Xanatos Gambits pay off here, and there's some definite cases of tragic futility. And then Roberts gives us one of his becoming-cliche final pages which probably looks a lot worse than it really is. A lot of mysteries are resolved, at least, although some of the answers are underwhelming. Still, recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "If anyone can find a way, it's Megatron. He's not dangerous because he's STRONGER than everyone else. He's dangerous because he's SMARTER than everyone else." "Present company excepted." "YOU? HA! You're not even the smartest person in this CONVERSATION." - Ravage and Brainstorm, TF:MtMtE #55

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