September 16, 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. An archive can be found on my homepage, Is it wrong of me to want a computer that randomly vents steam? Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): The Amazing Spider-Man #605, Atomic Robo Shadow from Beyond Time #5 (of 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. Marvel Universe Union Jack: Hasbro - Just some quick comments on the 3.75" version of Union Jack. The package art got it wrong, but the actual toy does have his iconic .455 Webley automatic (which looks like a revolver), and both it and his Sykes-Fairborne knife are removable holstered accessories. They're a bit oversized, though, and only one of his hands can actually hold a weapon (the photo on the package clearly had help from adhesives). There were some paint flaws on the backside, but otherwise a decent toy. $8.44 at Walmart 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. Big chunk this time, thanks to a friend of mine who shops at a store that Diamond isn't trying to kill. The Incredibles #2: BOOM! Kids - Most of this issue is devoted to establishing that Mr. Incredible has lost his powers and his (eventually unsuccessful) attempts to keep this fact from his family. In fact, the other side of the plot (the growing friendship between the Parrs and their new neighbors) only gets a couple pages, and it's probably as important to the overall plot. Mildly recommended. $2.99 The Incredibles #4: BOOM! Kids - Big fight scene, bringing together of various bits of foreshadowing and Chekov-guns, fairly standard superhero fare of the retro-silver age style. A decent read, but it fails to stand up to the movie it derives from. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Farscape Strange Detractors #2 (of 4): BOOM! Studios - Pretty much just everyone going nutso on everyone else, as flashed-back in #3. Sometimes you get an issue that stands well on its own if read out of order, but this isn't one of those times. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Farscape Gone and Back #1 (of 4): BOOM! Studios - On the other hand, the emotional impact of the dimensional displacement is much stronger reading it all the way through than when just reading a summary, and this one works just fine read after #2. In fact, the story could have been told in this order without too much tweaking, to set things up as a flashback. :) Recommended. $3.99 Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1 (of 4): Marvel - Your basic "Gathering the Team" story, providing backgrounds on everyone except Ms. Lion (well, he's established to be Aunt May's dog, but since she has no dog in Amazing Spider-Man, that just raises more questions), who just happens to be around and annoying Niels at the time he's picked up. The origin of the new Throg gets several pages drawn by Colleen Coover, while Ig Guara (Marvel Adventures regular) does the rest of the art. It's a promising beginning, but sadly the story didn't really rise to the occasion afterwards. Recommended on its own, though. $2.99 Thor & Hercules: Encyclopaedia Mythologica: Marvel - This is organized by pantheon, with lesser groups just getting the pantheon page, but more active ones having half page entries for important members (the Warriors Three get one page for all three). There's a group shot on each pantheon page, mostly new art made for this book...and rather unhelpful. There's no key to indicate which image goes to what name, and on the more obscure gods it's not even possible to guess. Just rearranging the "Prominent members" listing to be in order of the picture rather than alphabetical would have been REALLY helpful. Another problem with this book is the large amount of redundancy, where the first paragraph of an individual's entry may be virtually identical to a paragraph from their pantheon's entry. Still, it's fairly comprehensive and does a yeoman's job at retconning together hundreds of mythic cycles into a single timeline. Recommended despite the flaws. $4.99 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. Reminder, I dropped Iron Man and GA&BC. I considered Thor Annual, but decided against it. Transformers All Hail Megatron #15: IDW - I got the Vitruvian Perceptor cover B. This issue of what would have been "Coda" is not so much coda as intermezzo, jumping back to explain how Kup and Perceptor got to where we saw them in the main action of AHM. It even explains the cigar, although in doing so it kinda undercuts the "what cigar?" moment from AHM #12, since Kup calls it a "Cy-gar". The Kup story is really a Prowl story, though, and it builds on Prowl's long characterization across the comic companies while giving him some additional facets. It's dangerous, of course, because it's hard to write the "Vril Dox" sort of hero without giving into the temptation to either de-jerkify him or retcon him into being an outright villain. The Perceptor story explains how he became the stony's Drift's fault. ;) Recommended. $3.99 REBELS #8: DC - Speaking of Vril Dox type heroes, here's one now! Well, just a little of him. There's plenty of plot threads running around right now, including the Khunds vs. the Starros and the Omega Men getting some upgrades and helping secure an old trademark Ferrin Colos isn't using right now. Bedard is more or less trying to do something on the scale of Annihilation (and with much the same flavor) but confined to a single book, meaning that no one plot thread gets to advance very far...but it also means a lot less temptation to pad things out. Interesting, but slow. Mildly recommended. $2.99 X-Factor #48: Marvel - Speaking of moving a whole bunch of threads forward a little at a time, at least things are starting to dovetail (with a vengeance, in at least one case) in the lead-up to #50. And after significant time off-screen, one of the book's main antagonists steps back on the stage, although I wonder how many readers reacted to the Big Reveal with, "who?" Doom steals the show in his few scenes, as is Doom's right. Recommended. $2.99 The Mighty Avengers #29: Marvel - Lotsa fightscenes in the two main plots, but there's still time for Pym to be creepy off to the side. The cover's a bit misleading, although I do admit I like Ronin's methods of figuring out the truth. Recommended. $2.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #605: Marvel - The first half of the issue is a flashback to show how Mary Jane got back to NYC and back into Peter's life, plus more of the retconned past explaining why she got out of his life in the first place. The second half is split into two shorter chapters that form a nice transitional arc. Chapter two blends Mary Jane's story into the main cast and some ongoing plotlines, and then chapter three addresses Peter's lovelife or lack thereof. Van Lente does a very good job with the serious chapter 1 and the less serious chapter 2, while Brian Reed is aces on the schtick of chapter 3. Strongly recommended. $3.99 Agents of Atlas #11: Marvel - Terror of the Jade Claw part III, wraps up this plot AND this title. AoA get a two-issue mini with X-Men in the title in hopes of selling better, and then they become a backup in Incredible Hercules for at least a while because Marvel apparently lacks faith that the X-branding will help. Things do wrap a little quickly, as to be expected when a book gets canned, but it doesn't feel too badly rushed. A few subplots that probably would have lasted for months get an offhand line or two to at least partially resolve them, which is better than nothing. Recommended. $2.99 [Later note: I'm told that an AoA relaunch after the Herc arc is confirmed, they want to try relaunching without the Dark Reign baggage.] Atomic Robo Shadow from Beyond Time #5 (of 5): Red5 Comics - I considered waiting until my friend gets me #4 (same friend responsible for the backlog-clearing chunk above), but decided against it. :) #4 is apparently another more or less self-contained story ending in a cliffhanger (like #2 and #3 did, with Robo ending up inside the belly of the beast), so I shouldn't have any trouble appreciating it on its own merits when I do get it. Anyway, on to this issue. Function follows form, especially in high-drama universes, and Robo learns an important lesson in keeping a closer eye on what he funds. And then gets to blow something up across time and space, yay! Strongly recommended. $3.50 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 9/16/09: 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, Gold Digger v3 #105, Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes #14, Farscape: D'Argo's Trial #1-2, Middleman GN, Atomic Robo Shadow From Beyond Time #4. I ordered Middleman and Justice Machine from Amazon (but Amazon just cancelled my Middleman order as being not only out of stock but utterly unfillable, so re-ordering from DeepDiscount although they say it's out of stock too) and I'm giving up on Maximum Dinobots. And it turns out I already had Thor reshipped and since I didn't have #603 yet ( claims it will finally come out September 30) I assumed it was the new issue. Awards: "Stabbity Plastic Death" Award to Marvel Universe Union Jack "Who Ate All The Cookies?" Award to Incredibles #2 (of 4) "Maybe She Should Have Tried Scrapbooking Instead" Award to Incredibles #4 (of 4) "Actually, It Might Not Be Immediately Obvious Anything Was Happening" Award to Farscape Strange Detractors #2 (of 4) "Kids Learn Fast" Award to Farscape Gone and Back #1 (of 4) "Syncrete Wars II" Award to Thor & Hercules: Encyclopaedia Mythologica "Sometimes A Cigar Isn't Just A Cigar" Award to Transformers All Hail Megatron #16 "But Do They Cover The 'Dead?" Award to REBELS #8 "Oh, Good, An Evil Twin" Award to X-Factor #48 "He Owes It All To Cher" Award to The Mighty Avengers #29 "Something Squirrelly About That Show" Award to the Amazing Spider-Man #605 "They'll Make Beautiful Dynastic Babies" Award to Agents of Atlas #11 "At Least No Maudlin Poetry Was Involved" Award to Atomic Robo Shadow from Beyond Time #5 (of 5) Dave Van Domelen, "Kids, don't try this at home. I am a TRAINED damsel in distress." - Mary Jane Watson, The Amazing Spider-Man #605 Bonus quote: "Computers that SOLVE problems don't look like this. They're unassuming boxes on a desk. They're refrigerators without the exciting brand names. Computers that ARE EVIL have all kinds of unnecessary ornamentation. This thing's VENTING STEAM! Why's it doing that?" - Atomic Robo
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