July 30, 2022

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 month. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Dropped four grand on deferred home maintenance this month. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Happy Kanako's Killer Life vol 3 and 4, How To Be A Mind Reaver vol 1 and 2 In this installment: Page Punchers Black Adam, Ms. Marvel (D+), Baymax (D+), Green Lantern: Beware My Power, Kaiju No. 8 vol 3, Happy Kanako's Killer Life vol 3-4, How To Be A Mind Reaver vol 1-2, Monkey Prince #6 (of 12), Black Adam #2 (of 12), Moon Knight #13, Spectreman Heroes #1, Blue Flame #8, Vampirella Year One #1 (of 6), Norse Mythology III #6 (of 6), My Little Pony #3, Transformers: Last Bot Standing #3 (of 4). Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Moon Knight #11, Spectreman Heroes #2 (of 5), Vampirella/Dracula Unholy #6 (of 6), Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #1. "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. Page Punchers Black Adam: DC/McFarlane Toys - McFarlane Toys just got the DC license (non-exclusively, as far as I can tell), and in addition to some Super Powers retro toys, they launched Page Punchers as an early offering. The premise is that you get a clamshelled comic featuring the character whose toy is in there too. The figure is five points of articulation and the sort of thing that used to come packed with DC animated movies. Unfortunately, DC no longer makes standalone comics, so every toy comes with a tiny piece of a massive crossover. To wit, Black Adam comes with his Endless Winter Special, with the backup story removed and replaced with a whackload of house ads. Black Adam: Endless Winter is not the start of the story or the end of the story, although it does appear to wrap up a few plot threads at least...but it's not like the rest of the story is easily accessible. The figure itself is okay for what amounts to a $5 pack-in, with a non-removable cape and barely sufficient paint apps. I got this out of curiosity, but can't recommend anyone else get it. $9.99 at Target (I think $9.96 at Walmart). [Later correction: the original comic had no backup story, this version has everything that was present in the original, it just feels like they cut something because the original was so thin and this has so many house ads. Also, this uses the variant cover by "Bosslogic," which gets the lightning bolt on the chest backwards.] Ms. Marvel: Marvel/Disney+ - This definitely captures the spirit of the Wilson comics while changing a LOT of stuff around (e.g. no longer tied to Inhumans). At six episodes, it does at times feel a little off in the pacing, but it gets the core elements of the story in and also a new ongoing plot device. Ignore the neckbeard downvotes, this is good stuff. Watching it in maybe two three-episode chunks (if you're not up for a 4 hour binge) fixes a lot of the pacing problems, but not all. Recommended. Baymax: Marvel/Disney+ - This is also six episodes, but they're really short, to the point that binging the entire series is under 90 minutes. It's more of a movie with arbitrary breaks. The premise is that each episode sees Baymax trying to help someone with their immediate medical issues and ends up helping them with longer term emotional problems in the process (usually), with a final part in which those he has helped turn around and help him. Surprisingly touching and full of practical useful advice, although it might occasionally make some viewers uncomfortable (and we need to get over that). Recommended. Green Lantern: Beware My Power: DC/WB - More like beware this movie. Oh, it starts off decently. John Stewart is thrown into the superhero life when Ganthet (who is never actually named except in the credits) dies in the process of trying to give him a ring. He's thrown into an interstellar war, as he and Green Arrow (the rest of the League stayed behind) gather a motley crew of warriors and heroes, including Adam Strange. This does seem like it might be intended as a followup to the DC Showcase Adam Strange short. A little kill-happy, with a lot of major villains appearing only as goons (like, why have Kanjar Ro if he's never going to speak or even get a "created by" credit?) and getting jobbed. But then it throws in the Twist, and it's clear they're trying to do Kyle Rayner's origin with John Stewart instead, and there's more killing and John implausibly holding his own against the "I'm a GOD now" Real Villain until he inevitably refuses to kill the villain, the villain takes a cheap shot cackling about mercy making one weak, and gets killed by the guy who was complaining the loudest about everyone being kill-happy. Avoid. Price varies by format and store. Digital Content: Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so (such as a lack of regular comics), I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will generally be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. Nothing this month. Adventure Finders is on hiatus, and Comixology is increasingly useless. Amazon claims they'll fix it, but somehow I doubt that. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Kaiju No. 8 vol 3: Viz/Shonen Jump - The main plot thread of "How can Kafka manage to avoid killing or being killed by his coworkers" gets a little time at the start, with the middle of the volume mostly being aftermath of the big fight from vol 2, including Kafka making progress on his mundane personal struggles. And then there's a new super-kaiju to deal with to wrap up the volume. That does seem to be the pattern...start by resolving the previous Big Fight, then downtime and investigation and personal life stuff, then new Big Fight. I suppose it's a formula that can carry the series pretty far, although since these are actually compilations of Shonen Jump chapters, the pacing might just be coincidental so far. This continues to be an enjoyable read in a semi-serious setting with a tolerable (for me) level of sitcom-tropism along with shades of Magical Girl (except the hero turns into a spiky monster with fangs and not a delicate sylph in a sailor fuku). Recommended. $9.99/$12.99Cn/#7.99UK Happy Kanako's Killer Life vol 3 and 4: Seven Seas Entertainment - Volume 3 has Kanako having to lie low due to the police and underworld attention of Volume 2, so she stays with her mother. And that leads to introspection, which for Kanako is pretty dark. The panel where she's in her childhood bedroom, holding her old box cutter and surrounded by all the corpses of her "didn't kill herself that day but seriously considered it" selves from high school while imagining slitting her own past self's throat with the box cutter is pretty dark. Especially for a setting where one can be a successful assassin without ever having to kill anyone who doesn't on some level deserve it. Things get worse on a professional level when a rival assassin finds her anyway and she ends up getting shot and put in the hospital under police protection (and things get very soap opera as everyone notices that X is totally into Y except the for X and Y, lather rinse repeat for several characters). Volume 4 is an extended deadly dance between Kanako and the assassin from vol 3, who reveals his own romantic interest in her while posing as a friendly neighbor. Very messed up, very entertaining. Strongly recommended. $14.99/$18.99Cn each How To Be A Mind Reaver vol 1 and 2: Antler Studio - This is a Kickstarter project, compiling the webcomic that I have previously reviewed very favorably. The basic premise is that Monsters Are People Too (And Some People Are Monsters), with the kindly if socially awkward Cthu (who may or may not have once been human) helping those who come into his territory and ending up helping raise a number of children who were orphaned or driven from their homes for the crime of being magical. (In this setting, little kids who show magical talent have a strong tendency to end up highly destructive forces, so people aren't completely wrong to reject them.) In addition to reproducing the strips, these volumes also include bumper pieces filling in bits and pieces between the strips with single full page illustrations and text blocks. The webcomic is already strongly recommended, and this collection is recommended even if you've read the strips already. No price on the physical volumes. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? (And not all of them come out monthly, or on a regular schedule in general, so I can't just call this section "Monthlies" or even "Periodicals" as that implies a regular period.) Monkey Prince #6 (of 12): DC - A bit of backstory for those not familiar with Journey to the West, a little advancing of the undersea demon whatevers plot, and Marcus's parents try to be a little smarter about this demon essence. Frankly, the story felt a little rote in places, as if there was a narration caption saying, "Of course, since this is only the second part of this four issue arc, it can't be over yet." (Also, it would have been nice to have a caption translating the Silver Horn Demon's exclamation, my translation app said it was something like "Silver Horn King needs a body!") Mildly recommended. $3.99 Black Adam #2 (of 12): DC - Okay, flashback to a month ago, explaining what Black Adam was doing fighting not-Darkseid in the first place. So, now Theo Adam wants to do this big "pass on the power to a worthy descendant" thing, and Malik White (third year med student) ain't having NONE of it. The third leg of this table of incongruity is diplomatic corps handler "Shep," who agrees that it's all kinda stupid but also incredibly important to world stability so he'll roll his eyes on his own time of which he has none lately. To his credit, Malik rolls with it and gets on with trying to save Theo's life anyway. Make no mistake, this is not a comedy, other than some darkly humorous elements. It's a story about being in denial and how Theo and Malik each deal with things that Should Not Be. Recommended. $3.99 Moon Knight #13: Marvel - So, one of the things that was just sort of there at the start of this series but not delved into a whole lot except for occasional bits of Reese characterization, is the whole "Vampires in New York City" plot point. With Zodiac dealt with, Moon Knight has decided it's time to step up his efforts against whoever's been making so many vampires in town, something kinda interrupted by Zodiac. And not coincidentally, whoever's been making so many vampires in town wants to deal with Moon Knight decisively. But the star of this issue is really Taskmaster, who explains in painful detail why this is not a desirable gig. Recommended. $3.99 Spectreman Heroes #1: Electroid Zaborger: Antarctic Press/Phase 6/P-Productions - Not sure why this cost $9.99 when the issues are supposed to be $4.99, maybe it was a premium for the B cover, which was the only one Diamond shipped. After being very late, I got this a week before #2 was due...and of course #2 didn't ship on time either. Anyway, the premise of this series is retro-styled comics featuring several of the more obscure tokusatsu shows from the 1970s, all produced by P-Productions. Matt Frank draws and writes a one-page introduction featuring Spectreman, and the rest of the issue is a translation of Hiroshi Kanatani's work. The story adapts the origin episode(s) of 1974's Denjin Zaborger. The art style looks like it was supposed to be in black and white, and in color it's a bit awkward in places. There's nothing in the book to indicate the art has a pre-2022 copyright, so I guess it's just retro-styled, but it sure feels like a restoration of a 1970s manga. 30 pages total. Mildly recommended. $9.99 The Blue Flame #8 (of 10): Vault - The book continues to refuse to commit to which version is real, to the extent that matters...the mundane guy having psychotic breaks as he tries to cope with trauma, the cosmic guy flashing back on his own past or on an alternate reality, two realities somehow entangled, etc. Both versions of the Blue Flame take drastic last-ditch efforts to try to keep their worlds from falling apart, and in both streams we see characters take actions outside of Blue Flame's perception to try to help. Still, it feels like the writer is stretching the premise and being too coy with the structural stuff. This might have made for a better read all at once. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Vampirella Year One #1: Dynamite - I sort of get Tuckerized, and probably killed off-screen, ah well. This book is framed as Vampirella narrating her life to her unborn child, and I suppose that's something important I'm missing in that Unholy issue Diamond won't send my shop. The bulk of this issue takes place when Vampi is a schoolgirl, both shortly before and shortly after the revolution that overthrows her mother. Recommended. $3.99 Norse Mythology III #6 (of 6): Dark Horse - Well, they went with Snurri's happy ending. Yeah, almost everyone dies, but compared to how the real Ragnarok story likely ended, the "almost" is what makes it a happy ending. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony #3: IDW - Time for a side story. Well, it's not like they're tossing in a story that's set before or after the main plot in some nebulous Inventory Story Land, the characters are trying to advance the main plot...they're just not getting to do so, and end up chasing a side quest instead. It's okay, but it suffers from basically spending half the issue failing to advance the main story and half the issue telling a very short side story. The side story needed a bit more pagecount to feel like anything but filler. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers: Last Bot Standing #3 (of 4): IDW - Sigh. This really feels like the sort of thing that could have been done well as a single 22 page story in the 80s, padded out massively. It's not that the core idea is inherently bad, it's just not good enough to support four oversized issues. Very mildly recommended. $5.99 Dave Van Domelen, "On a scale of one to ten, how do you rate your pain?" "I love all my pain equally!" - Baymax and a reluctant patient (I might be slightly misremembering Baymax's line).
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