September 25, 2014

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, Well, I survived my first month teaching here, and the outlook is good. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #33, Transformers: Robots in Disguise #33 In this installment: Gotham (Pilot), Meteor Men #3-5 (of 5), Spider-Man 2099 #3, Astro City #15, Transformers: Primacy #2 (of 3), Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #33, Transformers: Robots in Disguise #33, My Little Pony Friends Forever #9, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #23, My Little Pony Annual 2014. "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. Gotham (Fox TV): For a "Batman-less" Gotham City series, they're really pushing the Batman mythos stuff hard. Every other character seemed to be "before they became..." types (although I suspect a running gag will be "No, THIS guy might be the future Joker" with a different guy every time). Other than the almost painful namedropping, though, the pilot was a pretty generic "good cop in a corrupt city" crime procedural that threatens to drift into Gilligan's Island territory if it doesn't make peace with its Murdered Waynes subplot quickly. Because even though there will be no Batman, there's really no way they're going to go full Alternate Universe and let Jim Gordon actually solve the crime and give Bruce closure. They do set up an impending gang war to occupy the main stage, but Bruce will not be leaving the cast. There's some good performances and some pretty bad scenery-chewing ones, and the fact they're doing the 90s as a period piece makes me feel old (it's not blatant, but people have flip-phones, some of the fashions are subtly 90s, and so forth). I'll give it a few weeks, but I don't really go for generic crime procedurals, and I need more spice than name-dropping. Mildly recommended. 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 iPod if it's at all possible. Meteor Men #3-5 (of 5): Oni Press - Cutting to the chase, while it wallows in B-movie tropes most of the way through, Parker's story ends on a note more appropriate to the higher brow 1950s printed SF, with a resolution that is a mix of existential horror and singularity-style dreaming, much like Clarke's "Childhood's End". Recommended. $1.99 per part, collected series coming out in October in hardcover. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. None this month. However, I've ordered the Ms. Marvel TPB and also picked up #6-8 (I've been reading scans so far) and will probably do a Ms. Marvel special the week it arrives. Hopefully I'll also have my Tesladyne Employee Handbook hardcopy by next month...they sent the PDF along while waiting out some production/shipping delays, but I'd like to read the physical copy in that case. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Spider-Man 2099 #3: Marvel - Ah, Trans-Sabal, Peter David's favorite vaguely middle-eastern dictatorship, as previously seen in his Hulk and X-Factor comics. (And otherwise only in one story for Nicieza's New Warriors, plus the Marvel Atlas, if the Marvel wiki is to be believed, which means I have read every single appearance of this country.) In general arc, this issue runs a lot like the setup for Iron Man's current origin...except that it's Tiberius Stone who gets captured, he's slime, the terrorists are actually the good guys, and the tech that shows up at the climax was built in a factory. Specifically, the Spider-Slayers Alchemax is peddling to the dictator of Trans-Sabal (previously seen hijacked by Green Goblin and used against the Superior Spider-Man). So, basically, it's "What if in Iron Man's origins the only good guys were the terrorists?" (Okay, Miguel is a good guy in this too, but his motives are rather more muddled and he might actually go along with some of the bad guys at the end in order to protect the timeline.) It takes a couple of readings to really click, but is worth the extra few minutes. Recommended. $3.99 Astro City #15: DC/Vertigo - Well, things didn't *quite* go the obvious way, but neither were the revelations too surprising. And much like the stuntwoman arc, this draws from the basic premise of "person with incredible talents who'd rather not get involved in the whole capes&tights thing, but promises she can take care of herself when Samaritan et al offer to protect her." In fact, the ending was nearly a shot-for-shot repeat in some places. So what we need now is a contrasting case where the person decides they CAN'T just ask to be left alone. :) Otherwise it'll get to be a bit of a rut, yes? Despite the lack of surprises, it was a decent story. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers: Primacy #2 (of 3): IDW - Guh, plot whiplash. Yes, time passes, and we jump ahead to the return, just as I suspected last month, but this whole issue reads like a trailer for the real story...except where it lingers too long. Basically, the pacing is horrible, and the decision to try to do an epic centuries-spanning tale with multiple factions and dozens of major players was...unwise. My store's already ordered my copy of #3, so I'll be buying it, but I don't expect much. Mild recommendation to avoid. Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #33: IDW - A different kind of existential horror is examined here as the nature of the crisis is confirmed to be quantum twinning. While the science is a bit shaky, it's on firm ground compared to size-changing transforming robots, so I'll roll with it. On top of the main mystery plot, there's a great moment between Skids and Megatron, and more of the Nautica and Ravage show (he will either kill her or they will become a couple...or both). Strongly recommended. $3.99 Transformers: Robots in Disguise #33: IDW - And now for a break away from the plot on Earth, back to Cybertron for what is functionally Windblade #5. John Barber writes it, but he and Scott come much closer in tone when he's working on the Cybertronian storyline than the Terran one, and Sarah Stone provides the art for additional continuity with the mini. She also provides a background shot of Sky-Byte and Waspinator singing a duet, which is pure win right there. The story is from the POV of the newly revived Wheeljack, providing a convenient way to both do some infodumps for new readers and provide calibration of the agendas of those doing the infodumps for the benefit of existing readers. Strongly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony: Friends Forever #9: IDW - This one sort of cheats a bit on the "duo" premise of the series, by pairing Granny Smith with Flim and Flam. And while one could argue that they make up a single character together, the whole point of this story is that they've broken up over a woman, putting Granny in an awkward position: she has absolutely no positive feelings for the brothers at this point (having been burned twice by them), but at the same time she can't let a family fall apart in front of her eyes. It's a fairly strong core around which to build the plot, but Christina Rice weakens it a little by wedging it into a satire of ComiCon...which while nicely full of easter eggs and in-jokes (including the "Celestia likes bananas" meme) is a bit distracting. I mean, "ComiCon used to be about comics, but now it isn't" complaints are pretty old now, as are "ComiCon is too huge and has too many long lines" gags. At least Fleecs seems to be growing into his own style now. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #23: IDW - Jeremy Whitley's story here is "silent" in the same way the Owly comic is, and for the same reasons. It features all the critters, with some of them speaking in pictograms. The only proper dialogue is crammed into the final two pages with all the exposition that couldn't be gotten across in critterspeak (and it has some lampshading of the show's cliches in the process). A fun done-in-one. Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Annual #2: IDW - Power Ponies! Ted Anderson has a good starting point for this story: unlike the Mane 6, the "real" Power Ponies whose lives the Mane 6 inhabited in one season 4 episode are actually not friends at all. They have good teamwork on the field, but can barely stand each other during downtime. So when several of their regular foes realize that they should make their own team, the Power Ponies go down to defeat. Humdrum convinces them they need to use the power of friendship, etc. But the execution tried too hard to be Batman '66 camp, and as usually happens when a writer sets out to be campy, it falls flat. Nor is Anderson helped by the fact he has over a dozen characters who need to be established, so several of the heroes and villains end up being pretty one-dimensional or Obvious Copies (i.e. Zapp is just given some stock Marvel Thor lines). The backup story featuring Mane-iac and her Equestria Girls counterpart (so, parallel metafictional universes, comics published in the two worlds) is more interesting, in part because Anderson is able to focus on a single character. Mildly recommended. $7.99 Dave Van Domelen, "Where in my bail terms does it say - where PRECISELY does it say - that I have to risk my life to save a handful of strangers?" "(Points at Autobrand) Right. There." - Megatron and Skids, TF:MtMtE #33
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