August 19, 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. Truckload of suck coming at work, whee. An archive can be found on my homepage, Reviews actually being up on Wednesday brought to you by Diamond deciding not to ship several of my books, including the Middleman GN. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Super Stupor #2, Empowered vol 5 "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. 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. Transformers the Battle of Star Gate: BN Comics - This is a collection of comics first released about five years ago, and is only available in Japan. A fan translation is available online, but I just went with the summaries on's not a lot of nuance here to miss, I expect. It starts from the premise that the first two seasons of G1 cartoons constituted a secret war, and the Autobots only revealed themselves to the public after driving the Decepticons off Earth in the 1990s. But the Decepticons aren't that driven off after all, and the battle goes public. It tries to set up some elements for the 1986 movie, but it got cancelled before it got very far, so there's just the beginnings of the Human/Autobot alliance that led to the EDC. The visual storytelling is so-so, pretty standard hyperkinetic boys' manga action stuff. Models are often simplified to the point it can be hard to tell who's who without color (and the few original color pages are reproduced as graytones here). Frankly, if you're not a rabid fan, don't bother paying the markup to import this (I got mine from a friend in Tokyo who I trade with, so I didn't pay importer markup, just postage markup). Mildly recommended. 1571Yen. Super Stupor #2: - This is more of a convention special than a regular comic, as the oddball size (6"x9"/15cm x 23cm) attests to. But it's in full color on slick paper, so it's hardly a knocked together minicomic. There's two new stories in this issue, each using an existing online strip as a launching point. The lead story is a rather deep and involved story about relationships and what makes a hero...while also irreverent and quite funny (yay, Luchathulhu!). The backup is a somewhat unexpected followup to its source piece, and plays with an oft-repeated Something Positive theme...namely, that people who are wastes of oxygen often find surface reasons to explain why they're not more successful. And it's a good transition, since we first see the waste of oxygen through her own eyes, and it seems like she really is put-upon for superficial reasons, but as the story progresses she proves more and more that even without the plot device of the story, she'd have turned out pretty rotten. :) Mature Audiences warning, mainly for foul language and some "adult situation" but no actual nudity or explicit gore. Strongly recommended. $5.00 Empowered vol 5: Dark Horse - At last, this is mine! This is definitely the mind**** issue as well as being the Mind**** issue, and marks what might be a significant turning point in the antagonistic relationship between Emp and Sistah Spooky (although with some foreshadowing that it might turn right back once certain secrets about the suit's self-preservation tendencies come out). Even the pause for gratuitous Damsel In Distress stuff isn't totally gratuitous, as it becomes relevant during the Serious Action Sequence near the end. Very good advancement of both main plots and subplots, character arcs and Big Damn Superhero Action arcs. Strongly recommended. $14.95 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. Farscape Gone and Back #2 (of 4): BOOM! Studios - To be honest, none of the BOOM output has been good enough for me to put up with the continued crap I'm getting from Diamond in trying to buy them. At least DeCandido does a decent job of recapping everything on the first page so I'm not totally lost, although I'm sure I'm missing some stuff what with not seeing #1 yet. I may just give up on the floppies, though, and start hoping they all get collected as trades and sold on deepdiscount or Amazon. Anyway, the story here has Crichton dumped into an alternate universe (if his counterpart gets put in his universe, we don't see it in this issue) and desperately trying to put things back the way they're supposed to be...even though his current life seems to be generally better than the old one. Intriguing, although it's more a premise than a plot. Most of this issue is "meet person, confuse them due to universe differences, move on" stuff, with a brief breakaway to see what's going on with some characters John can't yet meet. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers All Hail Megatron #14: IDW - As with last issue, this is two short stories. The lead story fills in a few gaps in Sunstreaker's story, and I got Cover A which features his severed head. Shane McCarthy seems to be trying to partially redeem Sunstreaker by showing what a crappy deal he got, but it doesn't really work. The B story has Galvatron pick up a few of the threads left over from the whole Nemesis Prime arc in Spotlight, recapitulating old continuity as best as he can without having Unicron on-screen. All prologue, though, almost no actual story and very little character development. Mildly recommended. $3.99 X-Factor #47: Marvel - Another issue of a half dozen plot threads each getting a few pages each, with the present-day fight scene against Cortex getting the biggest pagecount and the most nudity. There's a big last page reveal on Cortex, but it's left a little vaguer than I'd like, depending on DeLandro's pencils to make things clear. There's several amusing moments, but it feels too much like writing for the trade. Mildly recommended. $2.99 The Mighty Avengers #28: Marvel - The two plotlines continue to not dovetail at all, so we get several pages of retconned in Inhuman boogeyman and Pointless Fightscene Man in action, then over to "Scarlet Witch" getting discovered and trying to hold her plans together, only to have things end up in another fight scene with the Young Avengers. Eh. Maybe six good pages and a lot of filler. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Amazing Spider-Man #603: Marvel - Creepy Chameleon continues to be creepy and effective, narrating the issue and thereby making himself seem a lot more talented than he really is. He's essentially faking his way through things, and that does indeed hold up pretty well if you only have to impersonate someone for a day or two. It's a good excuse to walk any new readers through all the current elements of Peter Parker's life, though, something that's necessary in the expectation that the hype around #600 might have roped in new readers. Recommended. $2.99 Dark Reign Mr. Negative #3 (of 3): Marvel - All the cards get laid on the table, although it's a bit too "let me tell you a tale"-y in places, and Mr. Negative's origins get neatly slotted into existing Marvel continuity in ways that make sense and explain his powers pretty well. Recommended. $3.99 Marvel Adventures Avengers #39: Marvel - Another "the big guns are off doing something else" issue so that Spider-Man can demonstrate his mental muscles. The Avengers occasionally drift off-task and act like people roleplaying the characters in an RPG, though, which gets a little irritating. It's not so much that they drift in general, but that they do it when the stakes are pretty high, as if they're not taking a citykiller threat very seriously. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Invincible #65: Image - Convalescences and funerals, a bit of exposition here and there, and Cecil being Cecil. The realization Invincible comes to on the last page threatens to radically change the character of the series, though, and in ways I'm not exactly keen on. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Gold Digger Tech Manual #7: Antarctic Press - Gina only takes up about half the issue, mainly Hurtbots and a few other pieces of personal gear. The Leprechauns are the other big chunk, with Vaultron itself (and its various support mechs and Supaa Powah Up modes) grabbing a big chunk of real estate. A not-Ace jet and the megalithic plot device from the "fishing for Scarface" story round out the issue. Recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger v3 #110: Antarctic Press - Snrk. A done-in-one hyper- archaeology story featuring Gina's students and some ancient powers that should be recognizable to any child of the 80s or fan of Robot Chicken. :) Mostly wrapped up in the conceit of recasting kidvid as deadly warriors in a death struggle, though, along with contrasting the oddball styles of the students. So not a whole lot of actual story there, but still an amusing read. 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 8/19/09: 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, New Mutants #3, Encyclopedia Mythologica, Farscape Gone & Back #1, Thor #602, Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes #14, Farscape: D'Argo's Trial #1. Add Transformers Animated Almanac, Middleman GN, Atomic Robo Shadow out of Time #4. 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. The Drop List: I've removed the following things from my pull, not because they're bad, but because they're kinda coasting right now and I've decided to be a little more picky about leaving books on just because they used to be good. The Brave and the Bold, Doktor Sleepless, Eureka, Green Arrow Black Canary, Invincible Iron Man, Justice League of America. Farscape books are fact, all of Boom's licensed stuff is borderline as a general class in perpetuity. (I also removed a lot of stuff from my pull list this week because the series in question is over (i.e. Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers) or likely never coming out (i.e. Wanderlust).) Awards: "At Least There Were No Kiss-Players" Award to Transformers Battle of Star Gate TPB "Something Tells Me He Looks Like Davan Under That Mask" Award to Super Stupor #2 "Karma's A Bitch" Award to Empowered vol 5 "The Cardinal Rule Of What If? Stories: Things Usually Turn Out Worse No Matter How Well They Start" Award to Farscape Gone and Back #2 (of 4) "Into The Hatbox With This Jerk" Award to Transformers All Hail Megatron #14 "Yes, Always Best To Apologize For Attempted Murder" Award to X-Factor #47 "Her Only Biological Offspring Has 8 Legs" Award to The Mighty Avengers #28 "Chameleon Is Clearly A Comicbook Writer" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #603 "Miss Li Ding" Award to Dark Reign Mr. Negative #3 (of 3) "The Man Probably Knows What Donkey Tastes Like, Actually" Award to Marvel Adventures Avengers #39 "Silly Rabbit, Smart Atoms Are Plot Devices" Award to Invincible #65 "I Want Those Glasses. But In A Different Frame Style" Award to Gold Digger Tech Manual #7 "Who Invited Leeroy?" Award to Gold Digger v3 #110 Dave Van Domelen, "This is APPALLING GEEKERY, baby." - Thugboy, Empowered vol 5, discussing how many hit dice Willy Pete should have as an Elemental.
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