August 5, 2009

Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and Awards

The Week's Picks and Pans, plus Awards of Dubious Merit Standard Disclaimers: Please set appropriate followups. Recommendation does not factor in price. Not all books will have arrived in your area this week. AC fixed = $40 less on electric bill. An archive can be found on my homepage, Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None "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. Batman the Brave and the Bold Action League Plastic Man & Blue Beetle: Mattel - DC gets into the "cute little PVC figures" schtick that Hasbro's been milking with lines like Super Hero Squad and Robot Heroes, and they've picked the Brave and the Bold cartoon for it. Like the Hasbro lines, they're sold mainly as two-packs, so you can't just get the one or two characters you want unless you're lucky and want both characters in the set. The first wave has the BB/Plas set, plus Batman with wing cape vs. Kanjar Ro, Aquaman vs. Black Manta and regular Batman with Red Tornado. Figures are generally 2-3 inches (5-7cm) tall. The aesthetic is deliberately different from Hasbro's lines, of course, but it's also significantly warped from the base material. They seem to be shooting for more of a grafitti-style anatomy rather than the less stylized chibi style of Super Hero Squad. For instance, the lower legs are almost conical with only slight protrusions for the feet. Most of the figures are half-kneeling so that one shin is on the tabletop to add support (of the 8 figures, 4 are in this pose, two are close, and Red Tornado has a whirlwind for a lower body). There's four points of articulation: shoulders, neck and waist, all swivels. Very few straight arms or straight legs, but at least the heads aren't cocked at odd angles that negate the point of having a neck joint. Blue Beetle from this pack (ISTR there's multiple versions of him in the pipeline) has both hands transformed to cannons, and is made mostly of black plastic. His backpack is bright blue, a little brighter than the blue paint that covers much of the toy. The cannon apertures and eyes are red, with yellow highlights on the eyes and a white smile. The head's a bit oddly shaped, one could detach it and paint it purple and it'd pass as Poog of Toog. Plastic Man has his left hand stretched into a vaguely shovel-ish shape and the right fist close to but not exactly a cylindrical hammer, with both arms skinnier and more elongated than the standard for the line. His head is up on an elongated neck, but the legs and torso aren't distorted significantly. The joint for the neck is at the base. He's made of fleshtone plastic with red, black, yellow and white paint as appropriate for the design. His belt is part of his lower body, so turning his waist at all makes the belt buckle come out of alignment with the deep v-neck of his top. Both figures have the identifying numer 1459 EA printed on the bottom (right foot on BB, left shin on Plas). A bit expensive where I got it at Toys R Us, although it'll be a buck cheaper at other stores. Still a bit too expensive if you only want one of the two figures in a pack, though. Mildly recommended. $7.99 at Toys R Us (spotted it for $6.99 at Target a couple days later). Late Books: These are comics that were not listed as shipping during the week they were reviewed. Sometimes someone recommends a book to me that's already out, and I grab it over the weekend. Sometimes it's a trade paperback I ordered online rather than trusting Diamond. Sometimes the store screwed up or I was inobservant and I missed something I meant to get. USUALLY, though, it's because Diamond didn't ship what it was supposed to ship and I had to scrounge around or wait on a reorder. None. The missing list just grows, it does not shrink. New Comics: Comics and comic collections that I got this week and were actually supposed to be out this week, as far as I can tell. These reviews will generally be spoiler-free, but the occasional bit will slip in. Jersey Gods #6: Image - With the "origin story" out of the way, the book now settles down into trying to settle down in New Jersey, with a god and a human as a couple in the burbs. This is the premise that attracted me to the title, not the New Gods pastiche part, and it's going fairly well so far. There's also a new threat, who may end up the sort who becomes an uncomfortable ally once he finds out the truth of things. Artistically, the Kirby homage occasionally breaks down and McDaid's other style shows through...and to be honest, I kind of prefer the non-Kirby version of McDaid. Recommended. $3.50 Dynamo5 #23: Image - Resolution for both the brain guy and Whiptail plague plots, of a sort. Lots of fighting along the way, and some ethical dilemmas, but it mostly felt like treading water while letting the Synergy plotline simmer. Mildly recommended. $3.50 Astro City the Dark Age Book Three #4 (of 4): DC/Wildstorm - And so, the cosmic background plot grabs the foreground, with the Williams brothers pretty much reduced to spectator status for most of the issue. Of course, with this being book three of four, they couldn't exactly get revenge on the killer of their parents here, but it still felt like an issue-long digression into a plot that would likely get backburnered again for a while. There's also a four page preview of Magog #1, yawn. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Secret Six #12: DC - I don't read Simone's Wonder Woman, so I really don't know what's up with Diana's "Don't call me an Amazon" deal, but for the most part it's not meant to be all that relevant to this story. Wonder Woman's there to be unreasonable and an obstacle, and she fills that role adequately. I don't really get the Last Page Reveal, though, it's made to look like we're supposed to recognize the figure there rather than just be shocked by the nasty appearance...which isn't really that nasty, even by regular standards rather than the standards of this book. Mildly recommended. $2.00 Official Index to the Marvel Universe #8: Marvel - Amazing Spider-Man #328-366, Iron Man #260-299, Uncanny X-Men #304-337 (ending with Annual 1996). All of these runs are well within my collecting days, some of them even in my online reviewing years. The X-Men section includes the Age of Apocalypse time, which is when I dropped the few X-books I was still reading at the time thanks to Megacrossover Fatigue. I suppose I could read the AoA and later entries more carefully to catch up on what happened in those issues, but I suspect I wouldn't care. :) Again, not much to say that I haven't said about previous issues, a solid recommended. $3.99 The Invincible Iron Man #16: Marvel - I'm considering doing a cull of my pull list soon, and this is definitely one of the titles in danger of being culled. Not that it's been bad, per se (although I know some of my readers would disagree with that assertion), but neither has it been all that good. Oh, and Dark Reign banner. World's Most Wanted Part 9 under-banner. If you just list the ingredients of the story here, it looks pretty good...lots of psychodrama stuff. But Fraction puts them in with the wrong proportions, the wrong pacing, the wrong...something. It comes out as a muddled mess, and I'm not sure I'll hang on long enough to get to the arc conclusion. Neutral. $2.99 eXiles #5: Marvel - On the other hand, I don't have to worry about whether to cull this one, Marvel's doing it for me, as per SDCC announcement. The Robot World story wraps up here, with a double-sized #6 to deal with remaining danglers. On the plus side, Parker apparently had enough warning to get things tied off before the cancellation, but on the minus side it ends up like a two minute drill. Rushed, talky, and maybe a little bitter. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Amazing Spider-Man #601: Marvel - Waid takes his turn at the writing wheel as Peter Parker has his own Hangover story, trying to piece together what happened after M.J. showed up at the end of #600. Apparently superhuman recuperative powers max out around the 11th glass of champagne. Most of the issue involves Peter trying to remember details and find a new place to live since he's pretty sure he doesn't get to stay in his current apartment, based on what he CAN remember. Heh. It's also a good excuse to have Peter hit up all the existing supporting cast for crash space, catching any new readers up on things. There's also some super-powered action, mostly as foreshadowing. Bendis writes a backup story about how Jessica Jones was inspired by Spider- Man, as she gets Forrest Gumped into some old stories. It's mainly to push whatever new arc is starting up in New Avengers, though. Recommended for the lead story. $2.99 Agents of Atlas #9: Marvel - Terror of the Jade Claw banner, Dark Reign is still part of the logo. Interesting that Dan Panosian is drawing now, given how much work he got on tie-in merchandise for the new GIJoe movie and how Cobra-like the "Great Wall" organization is looking. If I knew more about Joe lore I might even make some sort of comparison to the MARS/Cobra internecine struggles, but I don't. Yao's reasons for being a drake-head are made clearer this issue, though, setting up the prime movers behind the conflict, in which Jimmy and Su Wan are really just pawns. Recommended. $2.99 Ninja High School #172: Antarctic Press - Man, even with the Story So Far piece on the inside front cover, I definitely missed out a lot thanks to Diamond taking a two month break from shipping this book. Wait...I never got #171 either, although I don't recall seeing it on any shipping lists. No wonder I was so confused, I missed three whole issues! Gah. There's plenty of exposition and flashbacks to catch me up, so I suppose "dislocation" better describes my situation. I suppose it says something about Bevard;s writing that despite the Big Events in the issues I missed, by the end of this issue I was pretty well caught up on things. I expect that if I'd read those issues, though, I'd have a better idea whether the current plot is meant to be a Reboot Season 3-4 homage or if it's just coincidence. :) There's a secondary cover on the back, which is pretty much just one of the 2/3 page splashes done in color with a full background. Recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger Tifanny & Charlotte Second Semester #2: Antarctic Press - Tif and Charl are more in the way of supporting characters this issue, it's all about Erwin "Peewee" Talon. Like many members of Gina's Rogue's Gallery, Peewee's not really evil, just something of a self-centered jerk, abetted by the fact that he's exactly as old as he looks and therefore immaturity is to be expected. He doesn't seem to have aged as much in the post-GD100 gap as others have, but he could simply be one of those guys cursed to not get much of a growth spurt (and he always had a leering interest in female flesh, even pre-puberty, so you can't read much into his attitude in that regard in this issue). All that as prologue, this issue's focus on him makes sense from a storytelling point of view. He's never been a Zodon type, it's always been hinted that he just needed to do a little growing up in an environment where he'd be forced to *mature* rather than just aging...and APS #001 is the right sort of place for that. APS is like what PS238 might become with another couple of decades of institutional experience (and without having to worry about power levels being quite as high). Oh, he's still a jerk by the end of the story, but he's a jerk on his way to being one of the good jerks rather than a fist-shaking supervillain. Recommended. $3.99 Gone Missing: Stuff that came out some places this week and that I wanted to buy, but couldn't find for whatever reason, so people don't have to email me asking "Why didn't you review X?" (If it's neither here nor in the section above, though, feel free to ask, I might have forgotten about it!) Current list as of 8/5/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #3, Ninja High School #169-170, Justice Machine vol 1 TPB, Gold Digger Tech Manual #3, Farscape Strange Detractors #2, Gold Digger v3 #105, Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1, Gurren Lagann v1, Incredibles #2 and #4, Empowered v5, New Mutants #3, Encyclopedia Mythologica, Farscape Gone & Back #1, Beanworld v2, Thor #602. Apparently also add Ninja High School #171. Awards: "I Thought There Was A Law That All Plastic Man Toys Had To Be Bend'Em?" Award to Batman the Brave and the Bold Action League Plastic Man and Blue Beetle "Keep Your Feet On The Ground, But Keep Blasting At The Sky" Award to Jersey Gods #6 "A Person Named Scalera Pinch-Drawing An Issue Full Of Scaly People? I Smell Conspiracy!" Award to Dynamo5 #23 "If It'd Kept Its Safety On, It'd Still Be Innocent" Award to Astro City the Dark Age Book Three #4 (of 4) "Taz?" Award to Secret Six #12 "Operation Acts Of Apocalypse" Award to Official Index to the Marvel Universe #8 "Beauty Is Skin Deep, Crazy Goes To The Bone" Award to The Invincible Iron Man #16 "No, I'm The Real Brad Pitt!" Award to Exiles #5 "The Real Fun Is That She Can Tell For Sure, And He Can't" Award to the Amazing Spider-Man #601 "Spidey's Not The Only One With Ex-Girlfriend Problems" Award to Agents of Atlas #9 "Fear The Meow-Meow Brigade" Award to Ninja High School #172 "Can I Take The Minions Home For The Weekend?" Award to Gold Digger Tifanny & Charlotte Second Semester #2 Dave Van Domelen, "TELL me you got a plan." "Stand here and try not to BLEED on her, I guess." - Deadshot and Catman, Secret Six #12
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