August 2016

Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et Cetera

Intermittent 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 week. An archive can be found on my homepage, Yeah, this one is a little late, August 31 was a Wednesday and I teach nights. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Deathstroke Rebirth and Deathstroke #1 with the disclaimer that I have some behind the scenes knowledge here. In this installment: The Tick pilot (Amazon Prime version), DC SuperHero Girls: Hero of the Year, Atomic Robo Hardcover Regalia set, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #10, Ms. Marvel v2 #10, Gold Digger #235, Invader Zim #12, Blue Beetle Rebirth one-shot, Deathstroke Rebirth one-shot, Deathstroke #1, Hanna Barbera Future Quest #3 and #4, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #44, My Little Pony Friends Forever #31, The Transformers #55 and #56, Transformers: Till All Are One #1 and #3, Transformers More than Meets the Eye #56. Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Toil and Trouble #5, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #4, Transformers: Titans Return (one shot), Atomic Robo and the Temple of Od #1 (of 5). Going to give up on ever seeing T&T #5 and Moon Girl #4 in physical form (and I've already read Temple of Od #1 online in MWF webcomic form). I read a scan of Titans Return, it wasn't very good, I won't worry too much if it never shows up. "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. The Tick (Pilot): Amazon - If the original Tick comic was Ben Edlund looking ahead to midlife crisis and using superheroes as a metaphor for that, this new series seems to be looking back on the end of childhood's innocence instead. I was a little worried by some of the buzz before I got a chance to watch this, it was sounding like Edlund was going full on "I hate the one thing I'm famous for and want to tear it down" as some creators get, but fortunately I didn't get that from actually watching the pilot. It's definitely not the original comic universe, or the Warburton version (although Warburton is on as a producer), or the Fox cartoon, or the post-Edlund comics. On the effects side, you can see the budget limitations, but they do at least try to make things not look campily cheesy (like, say, Electra Woman & Dyna Girl)'s more of a character-driven camp, and even that not as much as most Tick versions. Promising. Cost is "being an Amazon Prime member" or "knowing someone". DC SuperHero Girls: Hero of the Year: DC/WB - On the other hand, this really felt like the creators started phoning it in. Loads of tired cliches without even the benefit of an interesting take on them. The original hour-long movie still isn't available on DVD, and it's much better than this. Although, between Hero of the Year and Finals Crisis, I'm starting to wonder if the one good movie was a fluke. Neutral. $15 or so. Digital Content: Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so, I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. I will often be reading these things on my iPhone if it's at all possible. Nothing this month. I considered grabbing any recent free stuff on Comixology, but all I could find from the last several weeks was what amounted to an ad from Caliber, and it didn't interest me. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. ALL THE ATOMIC ROBO: Tesladyne LLC - Okay, I went in on the Kickstarter for the big hardcover Atomic Robo collection set, nine volumes in nice binding with a load of bonus material in each one (the files of Dr. Dinosaur, design sketches and other similar material). While the first dibs go to the KS, now that these are set up I'm pretty sure they will also be available in stores (if in slightly different trade dress, through IDW perhaps). Most issues of Atomic Robo have gotten recommended or strongly recommended ratings from me, so consider this a general recommendation for any and all of these. $25 each cover price, if I'm reading the UPCs correctly. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #10: Marvel - Ms. Marvel guest stars in the unusual-for-her role of the older mentor figure who has been through the same stuff and has it more together. Mind you, Kamala managed to get access to a lot of resources very quickly for helping her figure stuff out, and Luna is well behind that particular curve (especially since Kamala at least managed to finish dealing with regular puberty issue before also dealing with Inhuman puberty, Luna's getting both at once). Everything about Kid Kree still comes across as a little too trying-too-hard camp, but at least he's not a one-dimensional antagonist anymore. Recommended. $3.99 Ms. Marvel v2 #10: Marvel - So...does Kamala make a stand, or is this another issue of her letting hero worship string her along as Predictive Justice turns into internment camps? Well, Wilson is still writing this and has not acquired an alien brain parasite yet, so a turnaround had to be coming at some point, not a huge spoiler to say it happens here. There's a bit more conflict than I'd expected, physically speaking, and Kamala might come out of this with a brand new arch-nemesis who, like Parrot Edison, believes they're doing everything for the Greater Good. As an aside, the art is a mix of Alphona and Miyazawa, and the Alphona-drawn flashback sequence is worth poring over with a magnifying glass. Kamala went to a very weird gradeschool. Recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger #235: Antarctic Press - Ugh. So, the entire issue is Charlotte telling about an adventure in faux Blaxploitation style. After the first page I started skimming in hopes that she'd have the narration duties taken away soon, but no luck. I do not have a high enough tolerance for parody-level jive talk to read this issue. Avoid unless you do. $3.99 Invader Zim #12: Oni Press - Alexovich's final issue (doing layouts only), this is a time travel story in which Zim ends up in a future where he won. Time to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, of course. Future Zim is slightly more mature and competent, but not enough to be implausible. More the difference between a 4th grader who doesn't even realize he's clueless and an 8th grader who at least recognizes he used to be clueless even if he still thinks of present-himself as great. A decent read. Recommended. $3.99 Blue Beetle Rebirth #1: DC - Giffen and Kolins are going back to the basic idea of "strange scarab fuses to Jaime Reyes" along with much of the supporting cast Jaime started off with, but now he has Ted Kord as a mentor instead of Peacemaker, and the origins of the scarab get changed pretty early on. Also, Giffen brings back his personal cliche, the hired killers based on Alphonse and Gaston (or as most people know them, the Goofy Gophers from Looney Tunes). Anyway, either Kolins is more in charge of things than Giffen (and is steering Keith away from the worst bits), or Giffen has gotten over his writing funk, because while this isn't Instant Classic territory, I didn't wince at any point either (which is NOT true of things like Giffen's Sugar & Spike stories). Kolins manages to capture the feel of the original Reyes run without specifically copying anyone's art style. Also, since they're reusing some old plot points, I'm glad they're not trying to be all mysteeeerious about La Dama and pretend like readers won't look things up. Whether the new mysteries are any good has yet to be seen, but at least they're not trying to totally redo the old stories and pretend it's fresh. Recommended. $2.99 Deathstroke Rebirth #1: DC - Huge neon flashing disclaimer up front, I've been corresponding with Priest over this book (along with a few other people) for months, and he even stopped by to visit me on his way elsewhere a few months ago, so I know a lot more of the Big Picture than will become apparent for a while, and that can't help but color my perceptions. So, if you've been reading the previous nu52 Deathstroke series, you have my pity. It was bad. But Priest is going with the Rebirth permission slip to just pick whatever old continuity works for his story and run with it, and we're mostly seeing the original Wolfman-era Deathstroke updated and given more depth. Someone with all the skills and abilities of Batman plus Captain America but none of the moral center. He is a mercenary. He may occasionally be a little choosy about his clients, but if he does good it's more of a side effect. This issue bounces between a present time story of Thigns Getting Complicated on a job in Africa, and flashbacks to Slade making a doomed attempt at being a good father to Grant and Joseph. (Note, in nu52, there are two versions of each of the Wilson kids, one set of which is dead IIRC, so even without Rebirth the continuity was going to be a royal mess.) While the story is continued in Deathstroke #1, it ends at a clear chapter break, rather than just writing to the trade and ending because there's no pages left. Recommended. $2.99 (I did like it more than the other Recommended books this month, but due to the conflict of interest I feel the need to be a little restrained in my praise.) Deathstroke #1: DC - Has Rebirth in the banner, so nice and confusing, so people who don't hit the comic shop every week might think it's a variant cover of the above title. Mind you, thanks to the reduced page count of the Rebirth titles, this and Rebirth #1 make a proper Special Launch Issue's worth of story. Picking back up on the cliffhanger of the Rebirth Special, we get your basic dueling Xanatos Gambits plot, with at least three players springing traps and surprises on each other and solidly setting the tone for the book as that of byzantine plotting. Priest even managed to bring a seemingly inappropriate-for-the-tone Silver Age villain into the mix in a way that works pretty well (rather than having super-science-fantasy power like he usually does, most of it is messing with perceptions and having a solid gimmick to distract people from the stage magic parts). The art does a decent job of supporting the story, usually managing to avoid tripping over the deliberately complex narrative style, although some of the Dramatic Pages are less dynamic than they could have been. (In the Rebirth special, the artist forgets to put a beard on someone in a scene, making it unclear if there's a third timeline being woven into the Present and Very Old Flashback scenes, but that's the only place I'd say the art by Pagulayan really hurts storytelling as opposed to insufficiently supporting it.) Recommended. $2.99 Hanna-Barbera Future Quest #3: DC - Purely flashback issue, setting up what some of the other characters were doing before the end of #1. The first half is setting up Birdman and how he came to be involved, which also fleshes out the threat a bit more, both from the interdimensional side and the F.E.A.R. side. The second half gives the origin of the Herculoids, which is rather darker than I'd expected (think "losers of the Robot War"). It doesn't actually connect up to the present as well as the Birdman story does, so it's still not made 100% clear if the dead Tundro in #1 is the Herculoid or just another of his species. The stalled forward motion of the plot is getting a little tedious, and as interesting as the new backgrounds may be, if the plot doesn't more forward at least a little in #4 I'm likely to start losing interest. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Hanna-Barbera Future Quest #4: DC - Ah, good, the plot moves forward again, if haltingly and in several split threads. The first half is mostly Main Plot, with a little Mightor flashback before segueing into the Quest group heading for a potential clue source. There's a very short interlude at FEAR HQ that foreshadows a potential plot twist, and then it's on to updating another of the Hanna Barbera properties, Frankenstein Jr. Interestingly, the darker new origin is also more touching and positive. (In the cartoon, young Buzz built Frankie in order to fight supervillains. Here, Buzz's mother built Frankie so her son could have a friend after they had to go into hiding following the death of Buzz's dad in Dr. Zin's supervillain origin story.) Future Quest is still reading more like an anthology series with a very loose conceptual common thread than anything else, a shift in tone from the first issue's "here's a big threat, now we need to fight it!" premise. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #44: IDW - Zahler's "Evil Ponies" story comes to an end without completely relying on the usual "evil protagonists" plot device of "what makes the protagonists truly powerful is their friendship." Yes, the fact the evil Mane 6 weren't united made it possible to defeat and cure them, but none of them was treated like they were suddenly useless on their own. If anything, each of them was stronger alone than as part of the group, and Zahler cleverly has the still-good characters take advantage of specific weaknesses (or turn strengths into liabilities). Some bits were a little confusing because I'd forgotten the details of one of the plot devices from part 1 and we weren't reminded of it until the very end, so a touch of "writing for the trade" there. Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friends Forever #31: IDW - Rainbow Dash and Little Strong Heart. The core conceit of the issue involves the legend of the rainbow crow, which is an actual Lenape legend (not credited as such anywhere I could find in the comic, gives a summary). The conflict of the story is basically "Dash keeps trying to do things the easy way, and the universe smacks her down in different fashions." On the one hand, sigh. On the other, at least it's not ALWAYS that her "easy way" is always the hard way, sometimes the old way is just better for other reasons. Mildly recommended, but a bit problematic for appropriation over and above the "buffalos as Native Americans" thing. $3.99 The Transformers #55: IDW - While the larger Titans Return thing is dealt with in the bookend scenes (and yes, it really is Metroplex on Earth, and no, no one has any idea yet how that even works), this issue is mostly devoted to Dealing With Galvatron. And, frankly, I think Barber did a good job of it. Recommended. $3.99 The Transformers #56: IDW - This actually comes before MtMtE #56, but shipped afterwards, leaving the Big Reveal of this issue with its thunder well and truly stolen. Raimondelli's art is particularly frustrating this issue because there's several places where he shows he CAN draw clearly with easy to follow composition...meaning that all the other times he's just choosing to turn in a muddy impressionistic inksplatter. Storywise, this issue is doing a lot of heavy retcon lifting in order to let the new Revolution Hasbroverse fit into the existing Transformers timeline. GIJoe is there, but their absence in All Hail Megatron is explained. Titan Masters are retconned in as always having been around, just secretly (I'm not entirely sure if they're saying Sentinel Prime was always just Infinitus driving a transtector like a Load-bearer tenth-of-a-percenter, or if Infinitus saved Sentinel after the guy's apparent death, or what...the characters are meant to be confused about this, but I'm not sure if Barber wanted the readers to have a clear answer here). It's not as Exposition Bomb as it could have been, but it's still an awful lot of "everything you know is wrong" for one issue to support. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers Till All Are One #1: IDW - Scott picks up the general themes of the two Windblade books here, introducing a new mystery that threatens to tear apart the still-fragile Council of Worlds and bringing the Combaticons (well, the surviving ones) in as a major player in the intrigue. A lot of establishing stuff, and Ironhide learns the reward for maintaining strict neutrality and avoiding politics is getting dragged into politics the first time they need someone known to be neutral. OOPS. Anyway, a good start, series shows promise. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers Till All Are One #3: IDW - This almost had to go on the missing list, I got it a couple weeks later than other people I know who follow it. Anyway, the mysterious shifting motives of many of the players in this intrigue become clearer, much to the disillusionment of several people on multiple sides. In a way, that makes for a stronger story...we're not being expected to believe that previously marginalized characters have suddenly gained huge hidden resources and are suddenly in a position to take over the world. Instead, their plans and powers are far smaller, and I actually have some pity for one of the prime movers (who isn't a Prime mover, although I suppose he might be willing to shove Optimus really hard). Next issue the desperate Plan B (maybe C or G) will be enacted, and given the events in The Transformers it can't possibly go well for anyone involved. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers More than Meets the Eye #56: IDW - Wanna know what happened to the Lost Light crew after #55? Tough turbines, it's time to do a Meanwhile on Luna-2. Anyway, this new arc looks like it's primarily about explaining how there can be a Fortress Maximus at "normal" size on Luna-2 and also a Titan toy of Fortress Maximus that needs flogging in the comic. While Sentinel Prime shows up for the shooty sort of conflict, the main conflict is between Red Alert and Prowl, and Roberts does a good job of establishing how we can't just assume one of them is right and the other is wrong. Even with the Final Page Shocker, enough doubt has been planted to make pretty much any twist reveal next issue plausible. Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "Adeline: velociraptorous as always." - younger Wintergreen to the soon-to-be-ex Mrs. Wilson, Deathstroke #1
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