July 30, 2014

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 Been here a month, settled in, starting on lesson plans. Whew. This week's Humble Bundle (humblebundle.com) is a whole lot of IDW Transformers collections. Just the two volumes of More than Meets the Eye are worth $15 if you don't have 'em yet. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None, but I strongly recommend getting that Humble Bundle. In this installment: Batman: the Jiro Kuwata Batmanga #1, Atomic Robo vol 9 #2-3, Batman: Through the Looking Glass, Spider-Man 2099 #1, Gold Digger #212, Ragnarok #1, Transformers Robots in Disguise #30-31, Transformers More than Meets the Eye #31, Transformers Windblade #4 (of 4), My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #21, My Little Pony Friends Forever #7. "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 time around. I did buy the Atomic Robo RPG, but I'm going to wait until the hardcopy arrives before I try reviewing it. 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. Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga #1: DC - The whacked-out Batman manga from the 1960s got a collected release recently, but I think I misinterpreted it as being a book about the series, rather than a complete collection. But this month DC started serializing it weekly on ComiXology, so I decided to try it out, on the grounds that if I really like it after a few weeks, I can always order the collection online rather than waiting for the online version to finish. The first installment is 36 pages for 99 cents, the complete first Lord Death Man story. The story is an interesting read, but they went a bit too hipster on the tech: to wit, because the full pages were left in original right-to-left order, they decided to make the panel-advancement work in reverse too. Dude, if you're advancing panel to panel, it doesn't matter which way the page is laid out, keep a consistent user interface. #2 doubles the price and halves the pagecount, so I decided not to buy it. A paperback collection is due later this year, I'll get that. Atomic Robo: Knights of the Golden Circle #2-3: Red5 - These came out in consecutive weeks. It's a fairly slow build, and took a while to even reveal what the titular Knights are the antagonists, not Robo's side. There's a sort of ticking clock here, Something Bad is going to happen to Robo soon, but it's not clear what, or why (i.e. it seems like he's running low on power, but previously it was established that his power source is scary good and he's never really had a power shortage plot before, so it's still unclear what's up). It seems mainly to be there so that Robo can't just plow through the opposition trivially...beyond his other handicaps related to not wanting to damage the timeline and not being a killer if he can help it. I get the feeling that when this arc ends, I'm not going to be too satisfied with the plot. But at least the dialogue is up to Clevinger's usual standards. Recommended. $2.99 at ComiXology ($3.50 floppies). Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Batman: Through the Looking Glass: DC - Yes, this came out a while ago, but I got it as a birthday present (it arrived a bit late for birthday, but arrived exactly on Batman Day, so things worked out). While I've been largely ignoring mainstream DC for some time now, I'm pretty sure this is intended to be a pocket continuity. Basically, as long as you know the basic Bat-stuff, and don't assume anything about the antagonists or any other new characters, you'll be okay reading this. By that, I mean that while there's a Jervis Tetch Mad Hatter, this Batman has never dealt with the guy before. And while there's obvious Tweedle brothers, they have no relation to other versions that I'm aware of. And so forth. Jones wanted to do his own take on Batman in Wonderland (title and use of a mirror aside, it's really based on the Wonderland book and not the Through the Looking Glass sequel). Does it work? I expect it would work better for a new reader who only knows the general pop culture stuff about Batman. Even once I'd figured out it had to be a pocket continuity, I still kept thinking, "Wait, that character's wrong...oh yeah." But Sam Keith's art definitely fit the headtrippy story Jones wanted to tell, and they got across the core message that even when totally out of his head, Batman is still Batman and will get things down. Somewhere between mildly recommended and recommended, I guess it depends on how well you can disengage any Bat-history knowledge you have. $14.99 Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Spider-Man 2099 #1: Marvel - I've been loosely following some of the recent Superior Spider-Man stuff, so I knew about Mig coming back to the present in order to stop another time traveler from killing his grandfather (this does not constitute spoilers, it happened months ago). This series, written by Peter David, picks up on that thread and practically begs for Continuum comparisons. :) So far no apparent involvement from PAD's other time-traveling Spider-Man (from Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man), but this time he has the advantage of theoretically not having to deal with a bunch of other books competing for his star's time. No Peter Parker in this issue at all. It's a promising start, I'm going to add it to my pull. $3.99 Gold Digger #212: Antarctic Press - Diamond may be shorting my new store on Transformers books (which I have to go get at Hastings), but somehow they willingly coughed this up with only a couple weeks' notice. This is a bit of a respite before going into the cosmic plot uncovered in #211, dealing with one of the title's longer running danglers (which is kinda spoilered by the cover). A nice light read, recommended. $3.99 And now for all the IDW stuff.... Ragnarok #1: IDW - Walt Simonson tells a tale set after Ragnarok, during the eternal twilight in which the great enemies of the gods hold sway. Basically, the part of the whole tale that tends to get very little attention (the D'Aulaire edition I first learned it in skipped ahead to a reborn Earth borrowing elements of the Flood Myth to repopulate it). Simonson does a good job of setting up the protagonist: she's an enforcer of the evil order so you know her success will be a bad thing, but at the same time she's just sympathetic that you'd like her to at least avoid too many bad consequences of her failure (or that she finds a way to succeed without it being as evil). Recommended. $3.99 Transformers: Robots in Disguise #30: IDW - Derp. So, this one came out the week I moved, but the regular comic shop had already sold out by the time I first visited it. So I went to Hastings, and picked up a copy...of #29. Again. It bodes ill for Barber's scattered implementation of the flashback format that I didn't realize I'd bought the same issue twice, a month apart. And mostly it's incremental advancement of the threads from #29, although with a different Big Reveal at the end. Mildly recommended. I have some hope that it'll turn around soon now that the secret of Megatron's trial has been revealed and the flashbacking might be settling down. $3.99 Transformers: Robots in Disguise #31: IDW - Not sure I'm going to be following this title much longer. The flashbacking ISN'T settling down (although there's a clever bit of using a G/SOL trick to realtime flashback one scene), I don't really enjoy Barber's style of using asynchronous storytelling (he's no Priest), and while I like his Thundercracker that's about the only character I do particularly like. I don't even enjoy his Manipulative Bastard Prowl, and I do generally go for that kind of character. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #31: IDW - A bottle episode aboard one of the shuttlecraft that bailed out last issue, with a new mystery for Nightbeat to chew on. The mystery is sufficiently solved by the end of the issue to count as a decent short-term story resolution, but enough remains to drive the arc forward. In the process of trying to figure things out, Roberts gets to do a lot of deep worldbuilding, but it comes out in a way that feels organic to the story rather than just an infodump. I suppose one of the bits (the hand language) was a bit clumsy in how it became immediately important to the present plot right after coming up in a flashback. Oh, and I finally noticed that the Rod Pod looks like an Angry Bird. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers: Windblade #4 (of 4): IDW - Scott did a good job with the reveal of who was behind the real issues. On the one hand, it wasn't someone I would have suspected after reading #3, but by the time of the reveal she'd made it plausible. My only real problem with it was that the resolution was a bit unsatisfying, the consequences for the villain nearly nonexistent. Basically, the real villain got a G1-cartoon-Starscream ending, even though it wasn't actually Starscream. Recommended despite that. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #21: IDW - Ted Anderson starts a mystery story in which Trixie gets in trouble and drags several Ponyvillers along with her. While it did acknowledge the Friends Forever story in Diamondia, way too much of the story felt generic. Yes, a lot of MLP plots are generic, but the goal of the writers is to make them feel specific. And Anderson doesn't really manage that. It felt like a spec script for "Kids Adventure Series" with a few quick search and replace jobs. It also runs afoul of the "How can the Mane 6 not be well-known by this point?" problem. I mean, you'd think that if the one-time bearer of the Element of Honesty makes a claim, the police would be inclined to believe it, yes? Garbowska got some decent visual humor in there, but as others have noted, tended to put the ponies in bipedal poses too often. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friends Forever #7: IDW - Pinkie Pie teaches Luna how to be funny. The story would have made more sense if Fleecs had drawn Twilight Sparkle without wings, because it feels like a season 2 story, especially with Pinkie's initial reaction to Luna. It's a small thing, perhaps, but enough to sour me on the story. Nor did I really care for the hallucinatory friends from "Party of One" making a return appearance, another thing that felt wrong. Neutral. $3.99 Wondering why no review of Transformers vs. GI Joe #1? I just don't care for the Kirby-homage art or the retro-camp feel they're shooting for. Dave Van Domelen, "I've got ANOTHER plan. Don't worry, it's better than the one that got us here. Also it's WORSE." - Atomic Robo
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