August 12, 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. Do Perseid meteors have long chins? An archive can be found on my homepage, Note, next Wednesday I will be doing new TA orientation in the evening, so I may not be able to get reviews done before I have to go back in to work. In that case, they'll be delayed to either very late evening or simply pushed to Thursday. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Larry Marder's Beanworld Book 2, Love and Capes #11 "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, although I'd like to point out that the General Hawk action figure from the new GIJoe movie line doesn't really look like Dennis Quaid. Rather, it looks like Late Show announcer Alan Kalter. 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. Gurren Lagann vol.001: Bandai Entertainment - I gave up on Diamond for this one and ordered it from (which has vol.002 on backorder and vol.003 on preorder). This is an adaptation by Kotaro Mori of the over-the-top anime series, but it's not slavish like a cel book. While this volume roughly covers the first three episodes of the anime, it omits the flash-forward scene from the start of the first episode and brings the Black Siblings into the story earlier than the anime does. Minor changes aside, though, it's a good thing it follows the anime pretty closely, since the storytelling verges on incoherence in places as it tries to get too much done in too few pages. If I were coming into this cold, I suspect I'd have been lost in several places. As a companion to having watched the anime, though, it's a decent read, and the format allows for some extra content to be slipped in via asides and background events. Oh, and for those who worry about such things, they don't mirror-flop the pages, so everything reads right to left and back to front. The fact that the cover is sideways doesn't help in figuring this out, though, nor is the placement of the credits at the end (some credits at the front, too). Mildly recommended. $10.99/$12.99Cn (200 pages, B&W with fold-out color mini-poster) Larry Marder's Beanworld (Book 2): A Gift Comes!: Dark Horse Books - This hardcover volume concludes the reprint material, covering Tales of the Beanworld #10-21. Well, not quite concludes, given that there's bits and pieces from other places, like Myspace Dark Horse Presents or the backup in that short-lived Image book, but this gets us to the end of the Eclipse run. The Total Eclipse crossover takes place early on in this volume, but isn't really explained beyond Beanish's in-story attempt at wrapping his bean around the events that Dreamishness describes as out of continuity. :) Marder's style had pretty much settled down by the end of book 1, so artistically all the issues contained in here are pretty unified. However, the complications of the real world do intrude here and there, what with the Total Eclipse crossover (which got used to good story effect) and some format changes that came during the death throes of Eclipse Comics (a zero issue, retrenching for a series of origin stories that were unfinished at the time the series ended), etc. Along the way, more of the Big Big Picture outside Beanworld itself gets involved in the story, hinting at things that may or may not ever be revealed. :) There's also a few cameos here and there, like Megaton Man, Charlie Brown (who is apparently the Hero of his world) and abstractions of the Fantastic Four. It all makes for an engaging read, well worth picking up, if you can find someone to sell it to you (I got mine from, Diamond's 0 for 2 now). Strongly recommended. $19.95 (hardcover, 328 pages) [Later note: Larry Marder explains some of the Total Eclipse stuff in his blog: (URL-shortened because his blog uses URLs longer than 80 characters).] Love and Capes #11: Maerkle Press - Okay, so Diamond finally coughed up a non-FCBD issue of this title, albeit a week late. This issue is one of those stories that *could* be done, more or less, with a "normal" world setting (replace alternate reality with foreign nation, etc), but it would feel pretty forced. However, the premise of Abby ending up spending the weekend in Amazonia's home reality as part of getting a wedding dress fits the setting quite smoothly, and there's loads of conflict that flows naturally from the setting and characters while not involving fistfights (which mainly happen off-screen). Oh, and love the Nick Castle reference. Strongly recommended. $3.95 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. Transformers Tales of the Fallen #1: IDW - I got cover A, which I think is supposed to show some (okay, a LOT of) Alfons Mucha influence. This story is set between Alliance #4's main action and the start of the movie, spackling over a few of the minor continuity issues (i.e. Bumblebee is active with the Autobots at the end of Alliance, but has been with Sam for a while at the start of the movie) and largely focusing on a rematch between Bumblebee and Barricade. The fight is a bit drawn out (and at one point one of the "POLICE" decals on Barricade is mirror-flopped, but not the other, weird), and the dialogue tends to be somewhat stilted. Still, it does a decent job of splicing Alliance onto Revenge of the Fallen, which is what it set out to do. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Adventure Comics #1: DC - The lead story this issue is Kon-El Superboy back to growing up in Smallville after a brief hiatus due to being lightly dead, while the short backup involves Starman (neo-preCrisis) on his quest in the present day. The backup will rotate among various Legions, probably to see if anyone bites enough to justify a return to a regular Legion title. Back to the main story, Johns and Manapul make a very deliberate parallel between Kon and young Kal, to the point that Kon's diary includes a checklist of "thinks Superman did" that he checks, while it's not in his diary, he gets his own Lex Luthor frenemy character. It's okay, but the checklist feeling is a bit strong. The backup is mildly amusing, but doesn't go much of anywhere aside from another Legion character showing up. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Green Arrow Black Canary #23: DC - New logo removes any connecting word and shrinks the title to a tiny corner of the top of the cover. Backup feature is Black Canary, wrapping up the focus on her with a "present time" story in which Wildcat verbally slaps some sense into her. :) It's nice to see some superheroes who don't angst. The main story involves fallout from Cupid's origin and is penciled by Bill Sienkiewicz over fairly tight layouts by Mike Norton. Not much of Bill S's style really gets through to be worthwhile, it ends up just looking like sloppy inking. Kriesburg sets up a good parallel structure to the story, though, and Norton's generally up to the task of executing it. Norton does full pencils on the backup, with Rubenstein inking it in a nice clean style that complements Norton much better than Bill S. Recommended. $3.99 Booster Gold #23: DC - Backup feature continues to be Blue Beetle, and Norton's certainly getting around lately (he draws the BB story too). The main story is part III of IV, so of course we're seeing things as bad as they can get (and I'm not talking here about how Trigon looks unimpressive as drawn by Jurgens, although that's pretty bad too). The photo cover of a young woman in a Booster Gold t-shirt actually ties into the story, amusingly. In the backup, the android trilogy wraps up with a Big Revelation or two, and plenty of great dialogue from Sturges. Recommended. $3.99 REBELS #7: DC - Mainly "looking for allies without much success" now that the initial Starro invasion has been blunted. Of course, all the various space-based Events running around lately (i.e. Blackest Night) make the quest for allies pretty badly doomed even if it WASN'T Vril "Mr. Congeniality" Dox doing the asking. In fact, one of the most sympathetic characters in the book is a Dominator. Recommended. $2.99 Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #4 (of 4): Marvel - Big fight against Thanos, a demonstration that angst seems a prerequisite for proper use of the Soul Gem, and setup for the ongoing. It's okay, but I'm not sure I'll pick up the ongoing. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Ms. Marvel #43: Marvel - Dark Reign banner. The colored art by Ikari Studios looks like bad 1980s watercolor work, pretty distracting. As for the story, it's made pretty clear to the readers (as in, insultingly clear) what's up with the woman in California who may or may not be Carol. Things are fairly scattered, though, dragging in more Dark Avengers stuff and even some plotlines from Amazing Spider-Man...interconnectedness is good, but incoherence isn't. Mildly recommended. $2.99 The Marvels Project #1 (of 8): Marvel - As part of the 70th anniversary celebrations for Marvel, they're once again going back to revise the details of the origins of the 1939 Marvel Comics heroes and their immediate successors, linking things together a bit more tightly as is the tendency. Thomas Halloway, AKA the Angel, is the main narrator in what's mostly a series of vignettes this time around, setting up the origins of the Human Torch, Namor the Submariner and Captain America...along with Halloway's own origin story. The storytelling is a bit choppy and dry, and it retcons even more tarnish into the Golden Age (although I think in Cap's case, it's just reinforcing The Truth's retcons), but it's still a decent read. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #602: Marvel - Van Lente picks up writing (Waid seems to mainly to single issues), with Kitson art (Adi Granov's cover is kinda disturbing). Speaking (albeit parenthetically) of disturbing, there seems to be a definite move on to recast or reimage Spidey's rogues as far more creepy...mouthparts-boy Vulture, Octavius in #600, and now the Chameleon is made even more weirdo than he had been, and he'd already gotten a few bizarro makeovers. Meanwhile, the Bugle crew is slowly reassembling around its Axis Mundi, JJJ, much to Pete's chagrin. Recommended. $2.99 The Incredible Hercules #132: Marvel - "The Replacement Thor" banner. Looks like the book will be alternating between Hercules and Amadeus for the next few months, and we kick off the Herc/Kid Zeus storyline with the return of some old faces and more fun with mythology. Looks like Zeus regressed only as far as puberty, though, much to Athena's chagrin. Yes, Van Lente is causing much chagrin for the characters under his pen this month. And probably a little rueing. Recommended. $2.99 PS238 #40: Do Gooder Press - Tsk, letting kids play with a giant Ultimate Nullifier. Von Fogg gets a lot more screen time this issue, fleshing him out a bit more than the "Phil Foglio as Doctor Doom" premise he started with, and establishing Zodon's MacGyvery street cred along the way as a means of further distinguishing the two young evil geniuses. A goodly chunk of the issue seems to be an excuse to level up a few of the other kids, though, giving them more offensive punch. It's as if someone tried playtesting the kids in the RPG and found that they were unsatisfying to play as written. :) Not quite a done-in-one story, however, as it's also a prelude to a new Cosmic Threat. Recommended. $2.99 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 8/12/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #3, Ninja High School #169-171, Justice Machine vol 1 TPB, Gold Digger Tech Manual #3, Farscape Strange Detractors #2, Gold Digger v3 #105, Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1, Incredibles #2 and #4, Empowered v5 (DeepDiscount claims it shipped today, though), New Mutants #3, Encyclopedia Mythologica, Farscape Gone & Back #1, Thor #602. Add Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes #14, Farscape: D'Argo's Trial #1, and I think I'm going to drop New Mutants so no need to get #3. A friend has dug up the following for me, so I should have them soonish: Farscape Strange Detractors #2, Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1, Incredibles #2 and #4, Encyclopedia Mythologica, Farscape Gone & Back #1, Thor #602. Awards: "The One TRUE GL Corps!" Award to Gurren Lagann vol.001 "I've Always Suspected Reality Was Run By A Bunch Of Goofy Jerks" Award to Larry Marder's Beanworld Book 2 "Frontloading The Bridesmaid Dress Humiliation" Award to Love and Capes #11 "Think Of The Poor Kitties" Award to Transformers Tales of the Fallen #1 "Chicks Dig The Cape" Award to Adventure Comics #1 "It's Even Better If You Hear Him Talking In R. Lee Ermey's Voice" Award to Green Arrow Black Canary #23 "With His Luck, He'd Have Hit On Her In Her Leather Straps And Four Eyes Phase" Award to Booster Gold #23 "Okay, Who Let Scar Answer The Phone?" Award to REBELS #7 "Not Particularly Penitent" Award to Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #4 (of 4) "Meet My Better Half" Award to Ms. Marvel #43 "Thus, A She-Hulk Dangler Gets Wrapped Up" Award to The Marvels Project #1 (of 8) "Extremely Forced Perspective" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #602 "Come To Think Of It, That's About The Only Amorous Line Zeus DIDN'T Cross" Award to The Incredible Hercules #132 "Ace!" Award to PS238 #40 Dave Van Domelen, "You may worship me by whatever name you choose. But I prefer ZEUS. And I just found out I control the WEATHER. Which is AWESOME." - Kid Zeus, The Incredible Hercules #132
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