July 31, 2017

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 Remember when a miniseries would have "of 6" or the like on the cover? Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Spider-Man: Homecoming. In this installment: Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Lego Batman Movie DVD, Mickey's Inferno, Empowered vol 10, Larry Marder's Beanworld vol 4, KFC: Across the Universe #3, Snickers Comics #2, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #21, Deathstroke #21, The American Way Those Above and Those Below #1 (of 6), Invader Zim #21, Kaijumax Season 3 #1 (of 6), Smoketown #3, Korgi Short Tails, My Little Pony Legends of Magic #4, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #56, My Little Pony the Movie Prequel #2 (of 4), Optimus Prime #9, Transformers Till All Are One #11 (of 12), Rom vs. Transformers Shining Armor #1 (of 4), Transformers Lost Light #8. Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Nothing that I haven't given up on, but it was a near thing. Getting Diamond to cough up trades is HARD, according to my store's owner. "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. Lego Batman Movie (DVD extras): DC/WB - So, it turns out that there's a version of the DVD that comes with a second DVD containing extras, but all the Walmarts in my area got the no-extras DVD. There's four Lego Batman shorts, all of which are pretty good, and an amusing Lego Ninjago Movie (with Jackie Chan voice work) involving a chicken. The deleted scenes range from storyboards with voiceover to nearly complete final renders...one or two of them might have helped with continuity if left in, but most of them belonged on the cutting room floor. Recommended if you can find the version with the extras, or if you go for BluRay. Price variable. Spider-Man: Homecoming: Marvel - There was an origin story in this movie, but it wasn't Spider-Man's...finally. We got the tail end of a discussion of the origin, and that's it. On the down side, Peter's motivation tended to drift towards "this is fun" rather than "with great power comes great responsibility," but that's been somewhat played out with all the Spider-Man reboots anyway. If this movie does have a strong motivational message, it would be "You don't have to do big things to make a big difference." They deliberately mixed things around in this movie, keeping the trademarks active but doing different things with them. Flash Thompson is still a bully, but he's an academic bully rather than a sports bully. The cast of Peter's high school better reflects actual NYC demographics. Familiar names pop up, and they keep a lot of their original thematic hooks, but in different ways. The first season SHIELD theme of "alien tech is dangerous in the wrong hands" is used quite well here, as is the idea of youth and strength losing to age and experience (until the youth gains some experience). I particularly liked how the fourth act took a turn into low-key psychological thriller territory, as a plot point usually given to the Green Goblin instead goes to the Vulture...who has a much stronger reason to act on it the way he does. Ultimately, this Vulture is a perfect mirror villain for this Spider-Man: both are basically decent people with great power trying to do right by those who depend on them, but Peter views "those who depend on him" as being everyone, while the Vulture is far more concerned with his family and employees and is willing to let strangers go hang. Strongly recommended. (P.S. to counter the "hot young Aunt May" jokes, Marisa Tomei is 52. That still makes her pretty old for "parent of a teenager," in keeping with the traditional "May is significantly older than Peter's parents" thing, if no longer in the grandmother range. She just also happens to still be damn hot.) There wasn't a convenient-to-me 2D showing of Valerian, I guess I'll see it on DVD. And while Atomic Blonde is based on a comic ("The Coldest City" from Oni) it's not really a "comic book movie" in the sense that I generally review. (I did like it, but be warned there's lots of violence, nudity, and twisty plot points.) 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. KFC: Across the Universe #3: DC - Yes, it's that time again, the annual free KFC/DC crossover comic. This time, the Colonel gets the GLC's help to spread his "food" to all corners of the universe, but is foiled by Larfleeze, who insists on keeping all of it to himself. Basically a full-length Hostest Fruit Pie ad in terms of its conflict and resolution, and nowhere near as over the top insane as the previous installments. Free on ComiXology. Snickers Comic #2: DC - Why stop the promotional madness with chicken when there's also candy? I guess #1 came out last year, I have no memory of it, although I might have reviewed it. Comixology doesn't have #1, though. Supergirl and "I guess she can't fly in this continuity" Jesse Quick have a foot race around the world and at the end of it have to defeat the Parasite with the help of candy bars. But rather than giving the candy to Parasite to sate his hunger (which is basically what KFC did), they use it to power up a crowd of people beyond Parasite's ability to drain. Yes, that's a spoiler, but now you don't have to waste time reading this...it was boring. But free, I suppose. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Mickey's Inferno: IDW - This is a translation of a story that appeared in Italian-language "Topolino" around 1950, but the translators decided to modernize it...a bit jarring in places, where obvious 1950s-style Mickey Mouse characters talk about blogs and whatnot. Or the football (soccer) referee who was changed to being a basketball referee, down to recoloring the soccer ball orange. I would definitely have preferred a straight translation. The retelling tries to fit in as many circa-1950 Disney characters as possible, and not all of them are a good fit for levels of Hell. Additionally, every so often they just skip a canto, probably because of page limits rather than lack of ideas. So, not a substitute for reading the real thing if you're assigned it in class, but an amusing take on the story for those already familiar with it. Recommended. $13.99/$19.50Cn Empowered vol 10: Dark Horse - In the wake of Emp's really long day in vol 9, she finally gets to be a full-time member of the Super Homeys, over some strenuous (and mostly sexist) objections. So, life is great! Except, of course, there's still plenty of bad stuff on the horizon that we already knew about or suspected, not to mention the Demonwolf's constant "Oh, you're doomed and don't know it" (only more rugosely) pronouncements. This volume is where it doesn't quite hit the fan, but we see the fan, we see the ****, and it starts its attack vector in the final pages. Recommended. $19.99/$25.99Cn Tales of the Beanworld vol 4: Dark Horse - And now for something just as ominous but much more light-hearted overall. In its own way, the Beanworld is just as full of undropped shoes as Empowered (i.e. the Mystery Pods, which are actually insect eggs), but they're more change than pain. While Marder is writing only in trades now, rather than floppies, he's careful to make sure readers can drop in just about anywhere and understand at least some of what's going on (to the extent any reader can, that is). The infodumps are extensive, but not excessive, covering the basics of life and those mysteries that are relevant to this volume's revelations. For instance, the Goofy Service Jerks aren't mentioned, because no part of this volume's story involves their role in the overall tale. Recommended. $16.99/$22.99Cn Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Ms. Marvel v2 #20: Marvel - As noted last month, I am holding off on reviewing this book until the arc ends. My irritation with anything that even reminds me of Secret Empire means I'd rather be silent than risk unfairly tarring the arc if it turns out to redeem itself. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #21: Marvel - Luna faces her evil alternates in Devil Girl and Moon Dinosaur in the ethical climax of this arc. Of course, since Moon Girl may have trouble really getting the core of this hero thing, her mirror isn't all that much of a villain either. It's nowhere near the level of Wonderella, of course, but it still helps her see that she's been doing a lot of the going through the motions...if her evil double isn't very evil, is she really all that good? Recommended. $3.99 Deathstroke #21: DC - "The Dark Titans" arc kicks off, with Deathstroke apparently trying to be a good guy, but not really getting how that works. It's like a reprise of the Triumph character arc, but with a more competent (in general) protagonist who is no more competent at this good guy thing. Unlike Moon Girl, though, Slade isn't a kid who hasn't learned better yet, making his efforts even cringier when he's missing the point very very very badly. Plus, while Luna's allies are a mutant T.rex and a Doombot head, Slade's allies include some much more unsavory types...even if he's honest about this face turn and it's not a long con, the knives are already sprouting from his back. Recommended. $3.99 The American Way Those Above and Those Below #1 (of 6): DC/Vertigo - The story picks up about as long after the first series as the actual comic does, leaving me a bit confused in a lot of places as the writing assumes I still remember the first series freshly. But I went in cold, and muddled through. Three survivors of the first series each get arcs this issue, with Jason "New American" Fisher having the A-plot as he struggles with trying to walk a fine line of serving justice in a racial warzone in the making (Baltimore 1972 rather than Detroit 1967, though). Amber Waves is present as a contrast, a super who picks the path of war (not yet directly in conflict with Fisher), while Missy "Ole Miss" Deveraux faces a similar choice on the field of politics rather than overt combat. So, the subtitle has plenty of places to apply...above and below in terms of supers/normals, in terms of rich whites versus poor blacks, in terms of above and below the moral mire, etc. Promising start, but as noted at the start a bit rough of a read coming in cold. Provisionally recommended. $3.99 Invader Zim #21: Oni - Another "what continuity?" issue, they seem to like these "and then it ended, good night" stories in the comic. Like #20, this was basically a 4-8 page idea padded out to a full issue. Unlike #20, writer/artist Dave Crosland didn't make the padding all that entertaining. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 Kaijumax Season 3 #1 (of 6): Oni - The Creature from Devil's Creek (the goat cryptid) takes over as the main character and the focus of the series goes back to the prison itself after a season on the outside. Elements of previous seasons are around and influencing things, but it's almost entirely the Creature's struggles to survive prison despite deep down being a good boy and faithful servant of Satan. Well, okay, put some heavy quotes around that "good" in the previous sentence, but by comparison to the rest of general population he's a creampuff. The inciting event for the main plot complication comes at the very end, and it sets up the sort of story that almost never goes well for its protagonist. Recommended. $3.99 Smoketown #3 (of 8): Scout Comics - Another layer of flashback, this time focusing on the local crime boss and how he took over both the overt and covert family businesses. The transition is a little rough given the two month realtime gap between issues, the sort of thing that would work much more smoothly in the eventual trade collection. A story-so-far or cast list on the indicia page would help, though. Technical pacing issues aside, it was a well-done look at the sort of thing that makes a badguy tick. He lacks the trauma and guilt of issue #1-2's guy, his motivation being due to a more insidious damage. Marcus became a monster in war and hated it, Jamie just realized one day he was a monster and liked it. Recommended. $3.99 Korgi Short Tails: Top Shelf/IDW - This is a collection of shorts, some of which I recall from FCBD issues. Unfortunately, the introduction page is wasted, because it fails to say what the character's names are! Korgi is a species, the dog on the cover is named Sprout...something I eventually guessed from some of the story titles, but had to look up on Wikipedia to confirm. Like Owly, this is a wordless book with only a few pictographic thought bubbles and the like. It's charming, but this particular selection is a bit confusing for something that tries to be a low-ish cost entry into what's otherwise a graphic novel series. Mildly recommended. $4.99 My Little Pony Legends of Magic #4: IDW - (Aside: news has come out that the stars of these issues will show up in the cartoon, but the conceit of "not the story everyone knows" still protects this book from direct contradiction.) So, we've had an alicorn, a unicorn, and an Earth Pony so far, which means it's time for a pegasus. The two morals of this story are a bit on the grown-up side: you should do the right thing even when it's politically troublesome, and success forgives a multitude of sins. One can definitely see the Mane 6 having absorbed such lessons in their youth, to judge from about half the plots of the cartoon. :) Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #56: IDW - This is the sort of conflict that it's relatively hard to set up in MLP, in which the alteration over time of historical records leads to misunderstanding. It's hard because, well, you can usually just ask Celestia what the treaty really meant. But by taking it to the Yaks and Dragons, neither of which have had a whole lot of contact with Equestria until recently, "good people go to war over a misunderstanding" becomes more feasible. (Okay, they DID do this plot in the cartoon with the buffalos, but that was more a cultural than historical misunderstanding.) Felt kinda drawn out, though...not sure it could have been done adequately in one issue, but there wasn't really enough for two without it feeling padded. Maybe a backup story would have helped? Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony the Movie Prequel #2 (of 4): IDW - The origin story of the movie's new cast members continues, with the sky pirates/parrots (not griffins) coming into play. Most of the issue takes place during #1, showing the other side of the pirate attack that taught the Storm King to trust no one. As with #1, it seems mainly concerned with softening the edges of the antagonists, so we're likely looking at a resolution where the antagonists are convinced to mend their ways in the movie, rather than a magical whammy. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Optimus Prime #9: IDW - The final resolution of the Sideswipe subplot that's partially driven a lot of the action in the present day action. A good day in the life sort of story, letting newer readers use Sideswipe as a proxy for "how have things changed?" Recommended. $3.99 Transformers Till All Are One #11 (of 12): IDW - I sure seem to read a lot of comics lately about people trying to do the right thing but sucking at it, don't I? In this case, of course, I refer to Starscream...who is perfectly aware of his incompetence at being good, thanks. And yet, he really really wants to be in charge, and it turns out that sometimes that requires doing the right thing, even if he really really doesn't want to do that. Unlike the brief flirtation with this at the end of the G2 comic, this is a much more organic thing, and Till All Are One is really his book for all that it started out looking like Windblade's. There's some other plot threads in this issue, but they mainly serve to set up Starscream's big choice in #12: how will he convince himself to do the right thing for the right reasons? Recommended. $3.99 Rom vs. Transformers Shining Armor #1 (of 5): IDW - The story starts "centuries" before the present, although given the general scale-awareness of Transformers writers, they could really be thinking in larger or smaller terms than that. Suffice to say, the Autobot/Decepticon war is still on, the Dire Wraiths have recently lost their homeworld, and nobody thinks much of Cybertronians. A Galactic Council ship has chased a Cybertronian probe into Solstar space, Rom tells them to back off and recovers the protoform who is the only survivor. This issue is mostly about the protoform (Stardrive) growing up amidst significant prejudice but still becoming a member of the Solstar Order. Some of the lines were taken right out of "White Man's Burden" sort of 19th Century stuff (appropriate if TFWiki's claim this is set in the mid-1800s is correct)...the idea that other starfaring races hate and fear Cybertronians has been a part of the comics lore since the Dreamwave days, but this really cranks it up a few notches. Of course, leave it to "not even trying to be good at this stage in his life" Starscream to screw things up for Stardrive. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers Lost Light #8: IDW - The ladies go shopping, and buy themselves a lot of trouble. Nautica, Velocity, Anode, and Lug travel to a trade world where Cybertronians are typical in size and at least kinda tolerated (so, not a Galactic Council world, as they have not really mellowed in the past two hundred years). The plot is some fairly light information gathering and shoplifting, and it does look like the Knights of Cybertron plot is going to get significantly advanced soon, but that's not really what makes this issue notable. The big worldbuilding has to do with gender roles, continuing to rehabilitate the damage Furman did in his Arcee origin. Essentially, not all Cybertronians are actually male, but the ones who would have identified as female were given no context to realize that was an option. Not so much coercively assigned male at birth, as contextlessly assigned male at birth...those who lived on Cybertron forgot "female" was even an option. Thus, not all female Transformers have to come from colonies like Caminus or Eukaris (where they either never forgot, or rediscovered it), Cybertron natives can also realize there's a better fit. Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "--your FOOTWORK is an apology no one believes, and your TIMING...you're a one-woman war on tempo! I mean seriously, what has rhythm ever done to you?" - Firestar critiquing Nautica's dancing, flashback in Transformers Lost Light #8
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