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Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et CeteraIntermittent 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 month. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Car's still in the shop, first replacement panel was damaged. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Wayne Family Adventures vol 1 In this installment: Justice League Warworld, My Adventures With Superman, Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3, Mech Cadets (Netflix), Batman: Wayne Family Adventures vol 1, Way of the Househusband vol 10, Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear vol 1, Go Go Loser Ranger vol 6, The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls vol 1, Fantastic Four #10, Moon Knight #26, Mech Cadets #1 (Boom), Gargoyles #8, Gargoyles Dark Ages #2 (of 6), Vampirella/Dracula Rage #1 (of 6), Charm City #1. "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. Justice League Warworld: DC - While technically Warworld is part of the framing device, this is much more of an Elseworlds anthology that has its final chapter on (and dealing with) Warworld and Mongul. To give them credit, they didn't go with the obvious choices, the Man With No Name story stars Wonder Woman, while Batman ends up a cynical Conan the Barbarian riff. This is in the same loose continuity as recent direct to video movies like the Superman-Lobo-J'onn "Man of Tomorrow" movie, although it's deliberately vague about what happened in between, and the only one who even makes a comment suggesting the previous stuff happened is Lobo (who once again gets the one allowed Naughty Word). It really does feel like it was meant as another fresh start, though. There's reference to the JLU Warworld episodes in the featurettes, but there's no episodes in the bonus content, just two featurettes. Recommended as long as you don't expect much continuity. Price varies by store and format, probably also available on Max. My Adventures With Superman: DC/Cartoon Network - So, this is basically Superman the Shoujo Anime. He even gets his costume in a Magical Girl Transformation (the first time, anyway...after that he just puts it on at superspeed). Unlike some modern re-envisionings, they don't try to get away from the newspaper offices setting, with Clark, Jimmy, and Lois all being interns at the Daily Planet. The issue of how much or even if they're paid isn't addressed, though, it's really just an excuse to have them at the Planet and so low on the totem pole that they're underground. This is a story of Becoming Who You Are...Clark is growing into both the Superman role and the reporter role (it's several episodes before he's even reasonably sure he's bulletproof, for instance), Lois and Jimmy both have aspirations but so far little validation, and Perry White...well, he still doesn't want to be called Chief. A lot of other familiar(ish) names show up, although often it's just trademark refreshing and the characters have little to do with how they appear in the comics. For the most part, they are building towards a Common Origin sort of thing for most of the other superhumans...with a notable exception, everyone except Superman has tech-based powers of some sort (either power suits or mutation from tech, or robots), with a season-long "where did all this insane tech come from?" arc. While not every classic Superman trope has aged well, they did a decent job with one of the thorniest, and managed to avoid making anyone involved look like a total dick. Or superdick. Recommended. First run on Cartoon Network, then rerun on Max. Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3: Marvel Studios - For all that this is his origin story, Rocket Raccoon spends most of the movie unconscious (lots of flashbacks to his youth while he's in that coma). The movie also ties together a few other elements from the previous movies, although it kinda throws away a lot of potentially interesting concepts after only brief visits. And by throw away, I mean blow up. This definitely follows the bad habit superhero movies are given to of killing off antagonists rather than just defeating them (although a deleted scene shows at least one of the presumed-killed antagonists survived)...mining the comics for ideas and then breaking the toys so no one else can use them. But all of that is "spirit of the staircase," and during the actual watching of the movie it was quite enjoyable. (Aside: while all the present-day scenes have to be set after the Christmas special, apparently not a LOT afterwards, based on a newspaper seen briefly in the mid-credits scene.) Recommended but full of bad storytelling habits. Price varies by store and format, also available on Disney+. Mech Cadets: Netflix - So, while this is based on the comics, it has made a bunch of changes, generally for the better. I get the feeling that the comic was largely "seat of the pants" plotting, and the cartoon goes back and sets things up more clearly both in terms of plot beats and characterization. They gave a lot more to Olivetti, who frankly was kind of a cypher in the comics. A few new characters are added to fill important roles as well, and the Robos got some additional distinguishing characteristics. In almost every way, this is an improvement, showing how revision can help a story. They also changed some of the climactic plot beats to give the threat more immediacy while also eliminating some of the "cadets go rogue...again" plot repetition. Visually, they went for somewhat more realistic character designs (especially how you can tell someone's general ethnicity without it being a caricature), as well as an animation style that feels like it was trying to evoke stop-motion claymation. Flashbacks for Important Formative Moments are done in a faux cel-animation style in black and white, as if this were a 1950s TV anime like the original Gigantor. Definitely worth checking out, regardless of whether you read the comics. Recommended. Digital Content: Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so (such as a lack of regular comics), I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will generally be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. Nothing this month. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Batman: Wayne Family Adventures vol 1: DC/Webtoon - A hardcopy collection of the first 25 strips from the amazing webcomic. While not really "in continuity" (to the extent anything at DC is lately), it's plausibly continuity-adjacent and mostly covers the sort of stories that happen between the crossovers and big events. Sure, you can just go read it for free, but work this good deserves support (plus generally supporting Webtoon's work at getting hardcopy collections into bookstores and major retailers). Strongly recommended. $14.99/$19.99Cn Way of the Househusband vol 10: Viz Signature - The mob boss's granddaughter is the focus of more stories than any other supporting character, so I guess you could say this is her chapter. Her bits don't always work, she sometimes feels more like a grandma pretending to be a little kid, but her presence does let Oono bring in some "Kids don't see the world the same way" elements without having to use a new random kid every time as has generally been the case. Recommended. $12.99/$17.99Cn/#9.99UK Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear vol 1: Seven Seas Entertainment - Okay, this is a manga adaptation of a light novel series (think "stuff sold for people to read on the train," a sort of spiritual successor to dime novels and pulps). While isekai-in-an-MMO-world stories are dime a dozen, this does stand out from the pack in a few ways. For one, it doesn't use the "people only read the spines, so the title is a summary" thing that's been popular with isekai light novels and manga. Instead, the title sort of translates to Bear Bear Bear Bear, although each of the Kumas is written with a different character in the original. Still, Ursus Arctos Arctos has met its match in the Most Bear category. Secondly, the premise is notably weird. A semi-emancipated teenager who's wealthy from day trading and only wants to retreat into virtual reality gaming (like Sword Art Online) is picked by someone calling himself God to live in his fantasy world...which works somewhat like an MMO, but it appears to be real. And Yuna, the protagonist, is gifted with an insanely overpowered set of gear as well as a transferral of her real world riches into gameworld currently. So far, sounds like your average Overpowered In Another World Thanks To My Real World Skills isekai, but here's the twist: all of her powers depend on wearing a cute bear suit. Like, plush sleep outfit with a bear hood. And bear-shaped gloves. She basically hits you with a hand puppet. Even though she has no desire for human company and places no value on the opinions of others, she's reluctant to be caught out in public wearing this bear suit. God has a twisted sense of humor. And possibly a kink, as Yuna herself notes. The first volume plays a lot with fantasy RPG tropes (adventurer ranking, literal pelt hunt quests, etc) both embracing and subverting them in amusing ways. Curmudgeonly as Yuna may be, she's not totally misanthropic, so when she cracks a smile or does something for someone else it doesn't really break character or indicate growth...just that (as the bonus text short story points out) she's grown up around a lot of gold-digging garbage people, and it's a refreshing change to be around the occasional non-garbage person. Anyway, I liked this enough to order the remaining available volumes (2-5), but I don't plan to get into the light novels...my prose backlog is already big enough! Recommended. $12.99/$16.99Cn Go Go Loser Ranger vol 6: Kodansha - Most of the issue is the big boss fight against Peltrola (who is like a cross between a many-winged angel and a chicken), split over several locations thanks to the fact that the boss monster had been growing himself clone bodies in the basement of the Ranger training base. Our protagonist (and I use the term loosely) comes to a motivational turning point here, because if his ambition wasn't already outstripping his ability, he's decided that his initial goal is just too small. However, to keep this from being a complete farce, he actually gets some substantial successes this volume, and so will begin the next stage of his career/plan in vol 7. Content warning, some (black and white) blood and body part removal, rated Teen 13+. Recommended. $10.99/$14.99Cn The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls vol 1: Yen Press - I stumbled across this title a couple months ago when going through Barnes & Noble's upcoming manga releases...with companies like Marvel and DC seeming determined to make comics that are Not For Me, I'm expanding more into manga. I initially thought this was, you know, an illustrated guide, like the guide to Yokai I got about 15 years ago. I am a sucker for that sort of thing. However, this is a School Story, featuring girls at a school for monsters (very very roughly like Monster High, I guess). Still, when I saw it on the shelf while going to pick up Go Go Loser Ranger, I flipped through it and decided to give it a try anyway. The setting is a bit more like Monsters Inc. (they go to the human world to collect fear and screams), and the protagonists are basically really bad at some important aspect of their studies. For instance, the Jiangshi (hopping vampire) protagonist of the first chapter is just bad at academics, and it doesn't help that her brains sometimes leak out so that she forgets what she spent time learning. The tone is very farcical, with death and dismemberment (which is not always permanent, but still painful) used as laugh lines. The designs of the protagonists of Class Z look like a magical girl team with a monster theme and occasional aesthetic scarring. And occasional deadly head wounds. Overall, it's darkly amusing, although the art can sometimes be hard to follow even when it's not trying to be. Rated Older Teen. Mildly recommended, probably won't be picking up the next volume, though. $13.00/$17.00Cn Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? (And not all of them come out monthly, or on a regular schedule in general, so I can't just call this section "Monthlies" or even "Periodicals" as that implies a regular period.) Still kinda shifted, getting my books mid-month from the mail order place, but most of my books for the month seem to come out in the first two weeks of the month anyway. Fantastic Four #10: Marvel - So, it looks like every Marvel mainline book this month has "Who are the G.O.D.S." on the cover somewhere. I don't know if this is some sort of theme for the actual issues (I mean, it kinda fits this comic, and obviously fits Moon Knight) or just like when they have variant covers to push something or other...but I don't actually care. Anyhoo, this is a mystery from the point of view of the caretakers of a cryosleep starship, each of whom spends their lives dealing with mysterious invaders that the reader recognizes as the FF. There's a final scene from the FF's POV that sort of debriefs the reader and assures us that Things Get Fixed. Decent retro-SF-feeling issue. Recommended. $3.99 Moon Knight #26: Marvel - Meanwhile...well, not exactly. But as part of the psychiatrist visit framing sequence, we get to see what Hunter's Moon was up to during the events of last issue. MacKay brings back another somewhat obscure villain from back during Rhodey's first run as Iron Man, although somewhere along the way either he got un-deformed or the artists forgot about it (not Sabbatini's fault, the guy is on-model to the most recent appearance I could find online). Anyway, he's just a mook, the core conflict is Hunter's Moon versus Hunter's Moon, and signs that Hunter Moon might be losing that fight. Recommended. $3.99 Mech Cadets #1: Boom! Studios - This picks up from the previous series (Mech Cadet Yu), a year after the invasion got repelled. They keep the character designs from that series, though, rather than going with the designs used by the Netflix show (the backmatter of this issue does discuss those redesigns, though). Interestingly, Olivetti's cousin is introduced and he looks like the cartoon version of Olivetti...I guess that gets the character into the comics without needing to retcon the "original" Olivetti. There's other bits here and there that suggest that the comics might be converging on some of the other changes made by the cartoon without doing retcons to the comic, so eventually they'll match up (which does not say good things about the fate of original Olivetti, TBH, although he could just get reassigned to another part of the world). Thematically, though, the comic is definitely continuing with the "cadets disobey orders" thing as a go-to plot point. Recommended. $4.99 Gargoyles #8: Dynamite - I apparently mislabeled #7 as #6 last month, but in my defense things have kinda run together with this title. Coldfire is the main "get inside the head" character this time (one of the cyborg Gargoyles), although she's mostly just hanging around while things happen. And unlike some issues, something of import DOES happen this issue, involving Goliath's surrender to the justice system in which he hopes to demonstrate a Measure of Man or whatnot. I still can't shake the feeling that this comic came about because Dark Horse approached Weisman and asked him to write the comic, not because Weisman had more stories he wanted to tell about the characters (other than some of the human mob figures). Mildly recommended. $3.99 Gargoyles Dark Ages #2 (of 6, I think): Dynamite - Basically a battle scene, lots of action and chaos and a death or two, but only such characterization as can be conveyed through shouting and fighting (and a bit of mourning). Mildly recommended. $4.99 Vampirella/Dracula Rage #1 (of 6): Dynamite - A bit of the cliffhanger from last month's Draculina is messed with thanks to publication date issues. Not that anything involving Lilith's actions can be taken at face value. Or Dracula's. Or much of anyone in this continuity, really. Definitely a "see where this goes" sort of issue, though, spinning out the threads and the red herrings in equal measure. Unfortunately, the art makes it look like every scene happens at night in a driving rain, when only some of the scenes do. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Charm City #1: Scout Comics - My brother is the main artist on this, so no overall recommendation due to conflict of interest. An excommunicated witch working as a music columnist in Baltimore gets dropped into the middle of a series of mass-murders of witches, just what she needed. The layout is a mix of old-school and new, with captions that include narration and a little internal thought process stuff, but also texting exchanges, and the occasional QR code that links to a soundtrack for the story. Not the first time I've seen a recommended soundtrack for scenes in a comic, but this is the first time I can recall there being QR codes for it. I guess you CAN get the sound from a story in a magazine these days, Mr. Joel. There's also a four page backup done in a deliberately cartoony style by the series writer, setting up some of the background elements (such as why she got excommunicated, presumably) without needing to infodump into the main narrative. Content warnings for harsh language and some moderate gore (rated "Teen Plus"). $4.99 Dave Van Domelen, "It's not that I don't know the answer! I was just trying to cover up that I wasn't listening in the slightest." - Devil Girl Rin-Chan, The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls vol 1
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