August 27, 2008

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.
Urge to kill...rising.  PeopleSoft sux.  Rants, Capsules can be found on my 

First Look Comments:

     Invincible Iron Man #5: Marvel - Tony hunts for Stane, fights Stane, big
shocker ending that's fairly telegraphed in terms of how the cliffhanger will
resolve.  Not much in the way of new ideas, a sort of Inevitable Fight Scene
issue with the really clever stuff (or what Fraction hopes will be really
clever) held off for #6.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn

     Short, relatively spoiler-free reviews of books I actually bring home
(as opposed to reading in preview form in the shop or online).  If I get a
book late due to distributor foulups or whatever, I'll put it in the Missing

     Books of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Blue Beetle
#30, Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition No. Zero

     Doktor Sleepless #8: Avatar - Gentlemen, we have Cthulhupunk Sign.  The
rest of the Doktor's "secret origin" comes out (with a little from the sane
side of the story too) and the cosmic horror that he's been dealing with in
one way or another for most of his life.  Interestingly, he seems to be
caught in a sort of slowed emotional development, only recently hitting
teenage angst after an extended idealistic childhood.  It seems inevitable
that at some point he'll grow up a bit more, the dramatic tension comes in
the question of whether this will happen before he goes too far to call back
his demons.  Talky, but interesting.  Recommended.  $3.99  (Starting to get
tired of the wraparound covers, need to remember to ask the store to not pull
them for me, but I was in too much of a hurry today to wait around for stuff
to hit the shelves and pick a different cover.)
     Fallen Angel #29: IDW - The journey continues, Comicon and Women in
Refrigerators get referenced, and at least one character in the whole mess
seems to have a realistic view of his place in things.  So, you know, he's
probably highly doomed, poor bastard.  Karma DOES tend to accumulate even
when you DO know your role.  Oh, a little nudity, but just buttocks, for
those who have to worry about who might be reading over their shoulders.
Mildly recommended.  $3.99
     Igor the Movie Adaptation #2: IDW - Having established the premise and
complications, it's time for the protagonist to try to find ways around the
complications.  A decent mix of failure and provisional success, although
some of hte gags get pushed a little hard.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
     Transformers the Reign of Starscream #5: IDW - Final issue of the
miniseries.  Mowry does an okay job of establishing character names, but the
designs are still too hard to tell apart and the colors too low-contrast to
really follow any but a few examples.  So it'd kinda like watching a big MMOG
battle where you have a vague idea of who's involved, but the action doesn't
slow down enough to really tell who half of 'em are, even as they die.  It's
interesting seeing a Starscream who actually thinks he has honor, being
offended by traitorous underlings, but that alone isn't really enough to
carry it.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
     H.P Lovecraft's Haunt of Horror #3 (of 3): Marvel MAX - Adapts "Facts
Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" and poems "The Well" and
"The Window".  The Jermyn tale is framed a bit differently by Corben, to
provide some conflict that allows certain bits of the narrative to be hinted
at by dialogue, but it retains the core of Lovecraft's tale, a fear of
miscegenation (seen also in The Shadow Over Innsmouth).  "The Well" is the
longer of the two poetic adaptations, and along with "The Colour Out Of
Space" (not adapted) suggests that Lovecraft has a fear of wells as well.  :)
The last piece is very short, but it echoes events in this month's Doktor
Sleepless a bit too closely to be totally coincidental.  Recommended.  Some
hints of nudity.  $3.99/$4.05Cn
     Marvel - Your Universe Saga: Marvel - The first half is a summary of
what's been going on in Marvel for the past few years, mostly focusing on Big
Events, but with a few pages spared to individual titles as well.  The second
half is a sampler of pages from the 2009 OHOTMU...which will be released as a
series of 12 hardcover 200 page volumes.  Ow.  Forget cost, where will I even
*put* these?  A freebie, so grab one if they're available.
     SKRULLS! (one shot): Marvel - Not sure how long this has been out, I
didn't order it initially because I didn't know it was this month's OHOTMU in
disguise.  Basically has entries for most of the known pre-SI Skrulls and a
few characters with significant ties to the Skrulls (i.e. 3-D Man).  A nice
themed guidebook, with an "in-story" twist like the 198 book or the Avengers
Most Wanted.  Set as a dossier prepared by Skrull Chancellor Kal'Du (and yes,
a LOT of Skrulls have names starting with K).  Recommended.  $4.99/$5.05Cn
     New Warriors #15: Marvel - I think Turnbull's art actually managed to
get uglier.  The story does go somewhere, and despite being mired in Skrull
Invasion Stuff, Grevioux manages to service his main plotlines pretty well.
So, good story, iffy art (although, ugly as it is, the art does generally
tell the story and has a few bits of cute background).  Recommended.
     Avengers the Initiative #16: Marvel - Boy, Gage and Slott love the
Skrull Kill Krew, although I suspect it's more Gage than Slott in this case
(the macabre side of the humor seems more his bag).  And with normally "no
killing" heroes slaughtering Skrulls right and left lately, the Krew rises to
the occasion to distinguish themselves from the pack.  Heh.  A little bit
more "story to be continued in another comic" than I'd like, although
hopefully we'll at least get a summary of what happened elsewhere once the
dust settles.  Recommended, but not for the squeamish.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     She-Hulk v2 #32: Marvel - I have no idea why She-Hulk is portrayed on
the cover as a chimpanzee (with human-style breasts and cameltoe), as it has
nothing to do with the story inside.  Not that this title's painted covers
really mean anything most of the time.  The story is essentially part 4 of
the 3 part X-Factor crossover, with the Talisman in tow and Jazinda's past
coming home to roost.  But there's always time for a quick "Shulkie gets
pantsed again" gag.  Vincenzo Cucca's art for GG Studio is pretty good,
although it has a definite "house style" feel.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
[Later note: I've been informed that the chimp cover is part of a promo for
the upcoming Marvel Apes series.]
     Amazing Spider-Man #569: Marvel - Aha, cute feint last issue, but at the
same time we still get one of the few semi-explicit references to One More
Day to happen so far.  Fun dance between Spidey and Osborne, with lots of
extra steps that could go completely off the floor, and extra dance partners
galore.  One is even dancing with himself.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Marvel Adventures Avengers #27: Marvel - A pair of stories slightly
linked together, splitting the team up for some fairly low-threat
adventuring.  There's also some true power fantasy wish-fulfillment as a
couple of the Avengers get to beat up on fraudulent telemarketers!  Bun-Bun
would be proud.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn 
     Justice Society of America #18: DC - Pretty much more of the same as
#17, to be honest.  Little bits of character development here and there,
mostly focusing on Hawkman this time, and more of Gog being friendly and
ominous, although the balance tilts to more ominous this issue.  I liked the
brief catching up with Power Girl, though, if only because the Earth-2-ish
place she's on seems stuck in the 80s in more ways than continuity...brick
cellphone, heh.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Teen Titans #62: DC - Okay, who replaced McKeever with a DiDiDrone?  I
mean, wow...this issue for most of it seems like another clever updating of
nostalgic story elements, and then it *literally* tears the throat out of
things.  Sure, it could go interesting places, but it seems to show a gleeful
hatred of "more innocent times".  Dropping title now.  It's been teetering
for a while, but while I've never had a huge fondness for the characters
mangled this issue, I find this to be beyond what I'm willing to pay money
for anymore.  Maybe it's just editorial directive and not McKeever's own
idea, but I'm not sticking around.  $2.99 US/Cn
     Legion of Super-Heroes #45: DC - A mix of "recovery from the last
adventure" style story and "avert new impending doom" story, with plenty of
handwavy Legion Science to stitch it all together and a certain amount of,
ah, shipping.  Recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn
     Legion of 3 Worlds #1 (of 5): DC - Yes, I know the official title
includes some rubbish bit of crossover nonsense, but I'll have none of that.
Pfeh.  Picks up in the aftermath of the recent Superman arc with the
more-or-less Pre-Crisis Legion recovering from Earth Man's depredations while
a new threat is tossed into the matrix.  This issue it's pretty much just the
Legion of one world, but the concept of three is brought in as the final
splash reveal.  Loads of easter eggs for the annotations-oriented, thanks to
the Perez art.  Also a lot of Geoff Johns's odd mix of love and hate for the
Silver Age.  And Jimmy Olsen dooms the world.  Recommended, but mainly for
the art and the fanwank...story's nothing special.  $3.99 US/Cn
     The Family Dynamic #1 (of 3): DC - Torres and Levins are back together
on a creator-owned project for the first time in, well, a while.  It's set in
its own world, with the Family Dynamic being an elementally-themed analogue
to the Fantastic Four (more or less), with both a Superman analogue and a
Batman & Robin pair around as well.  Amusingly, yesterday I was walking over
a mosaic in the chemistry building with the four alchemical elemental symbols
and realized that I no longer remembered which was what element, but that I
knew I could easily look it up.  And here the symbols have come to me (each
Family Dynamic member incorporates the relevant symbol into their costume).
The story starts after all the new heroes have gotten to know each other
some, then flashes back to a month ago when they met.  Nothing outstanding
here yet, but a good solid start.  Recommended.  $2.25 US/Cn
     Ambush Bug: Year None #2 (of 6): DC - Rather incoherent, but not in a
good way.  Giffen and Fleming don't even stay with an idea long enough to get
it anywhere before flickering on to the next one.  Some are good, some could
be good with a little more attention, and the rest are sort of eh.  Very much
a letdown after #1.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn
     Blue Beetle #30: DC - Fortunately, this one isn't a letdown.  The story
by Sturges and Albuquerque features Paco's home life in one scene and a cameo
by Optimus Prime.  Also, SCIENCE!  And weaponry options with disturbing
theological implications!  Strongly recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn
     Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition No. Zero: Arsenic Lullaby Publishing -
Arsenic Lullaby moves to a twice-yearly magazine-sized edition, 48 pages in
slightly smaller than "looseleaf" page size.  As usual, a mix of one-page
gags and longer stories, including a "cow alien" story, a surprisingly
touching (if still fundamentally absurd) Baron von Donut story, the
Department of Things Not Yet Tried, and the cowboy guardian angel
versus...DUDE, ISSITOQ!  It's Floating Eyeball time!  Anyway, if you're not
familiar with Arsenic Lullaby, Warren Ellis counts it as something of a
guilty pleasure, which should tell you quite a bit.  Offensive as hell (when
Hitler isn't the most offensive character in a book, you know it's out
there), but funny as hell too.  Strongly recommended if you don't mind the
price.  $9.99.

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 8/27: Nothing that I haven't utterly given up on.


"If I Hit You With A Memetic Hammer Which Then Vanishes, You've Still Been
     Hit With A Memetic Hammer" Award to Doktor Sleepless #8

"Um, Moloch, She Might Be Enjoying That" Award to Fallen Angel #29

"Truly He Has Created Evil" Award to Igor Movie Adaptation #2

"Oh No, They Killed Signal Flare!  Wait, I Thought *I* Was Signal Flare?"
     Award to Transformers the Reign of Starscream #5

"Humans Are Ashamed Of Their Ancestors, And Rarely Invite Them Around
     To Dinner" Award to H.P. Lovecraft's Haunt of Horror #3 (of 3)

"Groot Demands Two Pages" Award to Marvel Your Universe Saga

"Yes, The Skrull Kill Krew's Origin Is Just That Icky" Award to SKRULLS!

"Yarrr, Slapstick Knows Where The Booty Is Kept!" Award to New Warriors #15

"Did I Mention The Krew's Kinda Icky?" Award to Avengers the Initiative #16

"Exceedingly Tough Love" Award to She-Hulk v2 #32

"Don't Stare Into The Hypno-Hair!" Award to Amazing Spider-Man #569

"Some Pig!" Award to Marvel Adventures Avengers #27

"Life?  Don't Talk To Me About Life" Award to Justice Society of America #18

"Mars Nodens Was Here" Award to Teen Titans #62

"The Power Of Positive Snarking" Award to Legion of Super-Heroes #45

"Fear The Fanboys" Award to Legion of 3 Worlds #1 (of 5)

"If You Suggest She's 'Heart' She Will Feed You Your Spleen" Award to 
     The Family Dynamic #1 (of 3)

"Out Of Butane Indeed" Award to Ambush Bug Year None #2 (of 6)

"Almost Holmesian Powers Of Induction" Award to Blue Beetle #30

"The Little Engine That Could...Be Traumatized" Award to Arsenic Lullaby
     Pulp Edition No. Zero

     Dave Van Domelen, "Viviana, take off your sister's sweater before I'm
FORCED to kill you as an example to the others." - Paco's mom, Blue Beetle
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