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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 week. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Better pay good, new insurance plan that no one in town takes bad. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Nothing this month. In this installment: Guardians (movie), Batman and Harley Quinn, My Little Pony the Movie adaptation, Ms. Marvel #19-22, Ms. Marvel Generations #1, Inhumans Once & Future Kings #2 (of 5), Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #23, Deathstroke #23, Future Quest Presents: Space Ghost #2, Astro City #47, The American Way Those Above and Those Below #3 (of 6), Invader Zim #23, Kaijumax Season 3 #3 (of 6), My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #58, My Little Pony the Movie Prequel #4 (of 4), My Little Pony Legends of Magic #5-6, Rom vs. Transformers Shining Armor #3 (of 5), First Strike #3-4 (of 6), Transformers Lost Light #9. Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Nothing this month. "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. Guardians: Shout Factory - Over the last few years, you might have seen bits from "the Russian Avengers movie", featuring a speedster who cuts cars in half with his swords, a bear with a machinegun, etc. This is that movie, released by Shout Factory with a competent dub or (if you're a purist) subtitles. (The dubbed version does have subtitles in one sequence, because the character wasn't speaking Russian in the original.) It's...okay. Each of the heroes gets a bit of personal business, the story manages to avoid making the Soviet Union 100% squeaky clean but still blames most of the problems on a rogue scientist, and the effects are decent most of the time. The plot is pretty by the numbers, the token female hero has token female powers cranked to 11 (she initially can only turn invisible when underwater and naked, but she's only naked when invisible because I guess Russian film ratings rules are even more puritanical than American...dismemberments all over the place but no tiddies allowed), and there's a "give everyone new costumes and upgraded powers" sequence that is so lampshaded you'd think one of them had lightbulb powers. This is definitely one of those movies that utterly collapses when analyzed, but it was enjoyable enough while being watched. Mildly recommended. $9.96 at Walmart. Batman and Harley Quinn: DC/WB - Okay, this is something of an odd duck. Bruce Timm and several of the original BTAS voice actors return to make a movie that looks like it's in the BTAS universe, but...it isn't. Not quite. The tone is deliberately different, and in interviews the creators have said it's not explicitly in the same continuity. The opening credits make it clear that there's something different, for instance, as does deliberately casting Harley as someone other than Sorkin or Strong. It's...okay. I've seen some people call it Bruce Timm's fanfic, and that feels about right. The sort of thing that editors and corporate overlords usually protect us from seeing, because while they can stifle creativity they also stifle bad ideas. There's some good ideas in here, but also a lot of questionable ones. The tone is also all over the place, with serious "it's hard to get your life together when you're an ex-con" stuff shoved right up against sex jokes. It can't decide if it wants to be a farce, a satire, or a serious story. There's some good scenes, but as a whole it's not very good. Neutral. Various price points depending on format and pack-in stuff. (Will cover Inhumans next month, I want to give the show more than one episode.) 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. Scout Comics put out a digital comic, but it's really just a few page excerpt from existing comics, rather than new material done for this, so I'm not going to review it. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. My Little Pony the Movie: IDW - This is a...well, "cel book" isn't really correct anymore since it's all done in computer. Screenshot book? The art is movie stills, usually chosen well enough, although some of them are hard to figure out due to being picked from a bad point within an action. About 120 pages of story, so more than a page per minute, which is an okay ratio, although the pacing pretty much removes a sense of time between scenes. The scripting and lettering layout work well, though, and make it clear whenever a musical number is happening. Mildly recommended. $7.99/$10.99Cn Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Ms. Marvel v2 #19-22: Marvel - Okay, I said I'd wait for the arc to resolve, and so I have. There's a fundamental problem with taking inspiration for stories from the real world: sometimes people are specifically trying to distract themselves from that part of the real world by reading a story. It goes double when there's multiple stories based on the real world issue, so it just sort of infects everything. To be honest, I would have minded this arc less if it were condensed a bit and released as a 64 page Annual or something, because then the "Great, the fictional characters are stuck in the same crap" aspect gets resolved in the time it takes to read, rather than dragging out over several months. Anyway, the premise is that totally independent of Secret Empire, the Hydra forces that failed to subvert Jersey City last year managed to sneak in the back door and take over anyway, via a combination of bribery, Michigan-style state override of municipal government, and tired citizens thinking they'd won and letting their guard down. It's very much Secret Empire in microcosm despite having nothing directly to do with Secret Empire (and apparently taking place before it?). The freckled DanversJugend girl from Civil War 2 leads the public face of the jackboots, who go after suspected Inhumans but forget what a metaphor is and end up raiding an Islamic community center. That's not to say that the entire arc is a blunt instrument, there's some good character stuff, especially regarding the Mystery Villain of the arc, but in sumamry it can't help but sound like something rushed out in anger and frustration. I definitely don't recommend reading it a bit at a time, but taken all at once it's mildly recommended. Generations: Ms. Marvel & Ms. Marvel #1 (one shot): Marvel - I haven't read any of the other Generations books, and Wilson (via narrator Kamala) takes the approach of, "Look, it's not important how this happened, just roll with it, this sort of thing happens to superheroes." I guess from some comments here and there that at the climax of Secret Empire a bunch of characters get Cubed into other times and places for otherwise impossible teamups. In this case, it seems to be less "the past" and more "an alternate timeline where the 1970s Ms. Marvel comics actually took place in the 1970s or mayyyybe the 1980s" as opposed to the rolling "less than 10 years ago" thing. The exact date is never really nailed down, and some of the fashions look more Reagan than Carter, while the antagonist is very late-80s or early-90s in design. Stuff is still typed on typewriters rather than computers, though...it occurs to me that this is more of the kind of melange any of us picture when we think about "before my generation". 70s, 80s, and 90s all kind of rolled together in a ball of "stuff Mom and Dad talk about when they say my generation has it so easy" combined with images plucked from various TV reruns. Maybe it's less time travel and more fantasy world meant to help the heroes sort out their personal issues? That would seem like something Kobik could do. (I suppose some of this counts as spoilers, even though I've said almost nothing about THIS story.) Anyway, getting to THIS story, it's another "Kamala gets her head together" piece, but given her age and situation it's going to take a lot of head-togethering to make it stick, yes? (I also suspect there's a deliberate Teen Vogue parallel going on here.) Recommended. $4.99 Inhumans: Once and Future Kings #2 (of 5): Marvel - In sharp (and to some readers on Priest's blog, annoying) contrast to Generations Ms. Marvel, this is definitely sticking with the rolling timeline, meaning that as teenagers the Royal Family is kicking around in New York City circa 2000, rather than the 1960s or 1920s or whatever. This is definitely a series with a complicated relationship to continuity, though. Things like the Unspoken are relatively recent retcons, but there's also the little retcons needed to make the sliding timeline work. If you know no continuity, things are explained well enough to move the story, but it's still possible for the "next issue" picture to spoil the surprise about the identity of the guy who made the plot device tech seen in #1. If you know all the continuity, you know who the guy is as soon as he enters the scene, but it only raises other questions, such as how this fits in with other characters, etc. Still, this is one of those stories whose tone makes it VERY VERY clear that betrayal lurks around every corner and under every table. Almost everyone lies about their motivations and intentions, and does so without tipping off the people they are lying to. Yes, bad people lie, but so do good people. "Heavy is the head that wears the crown" doesn't just refer to the weight of responsibility, it also refers to the weight of one's sins should one last very long on the throne. Okay, Lockjaw is innocent and will tell you no lies, because he's a good dog. Heckin yeah. Recommended. $3.99 Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #23: Marvel - Final part of the "Do I need friends?" arc, involving the "Not how Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 did Ego's offspring" plot thread and the "Maybe leaving your army of Lunabots alone with a Doombot head wasn't the best plan" plot thread. Along the way, Moon Girl gets a sort of subtle Generations story despite not being involved with any of the Secret Empire stuff (that I noticed, anyway). Things are left fairly unresolved for a "part five of five," but given that we're two issues from the Magic Number 25, that's kind of to be expected. Still fairly weak for a claimed ending. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Deathstroke #23: DC - The only real problem I have with the cover is that Jericho should be rolling his eyes, not looking horrified. :) Lots of threads get advanced in short bits here, and despite the dramatic cover image being reasonably representative of an actual event in the book, this is definitely a Between story. Build-up, rising action, Act II, whatever you want to call it. It's not the climax yet, and it certainly doesn't resolve anything, although it makes some of the questions clearer. Individual scenes good in isolation, but they don't make a whole yet. Still, recommended. $3.99 Future Quest Presents: Space Ghost #2: DC - Puttering about in spooky caves with strange alien life, then running into Metallus and getting an infodump on his problems, after a brief flashback to how Jan and Jayce ended up on Space Ghost's care. It strikes a reasonably good balance between the original cartoon's sensibilities and those of more modern science fiction, although Metallus does deflate his own menace a bit too often. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Astro City #47: DC/Vertigo - Busiek's definitely been doing the animal hero thing more lately, although this one is a bit of a twist on the idea. Mostly it plays into the common "criminal who isn't that bad of a person other than being a criminal stumbles into power, ends up being a hero" origin story that goes back at least to Plastic Man, but with an adorable twist. Not many origin stories feature a "boop," for instance. As with a lot of Astro City issues, it compresses most of a hero's career into a few pages of montage before setting up the Important Turning Point that will provide the conflict for part two. But it dwells on enough actual scenes to avoid the too common trap of being all montage. Recommended. $3.99 The American Way Those Above and Those Below #3 (of 6): DC/Vertigo - The three protagonists start to more directly enter each other's spheres of influence, and Ridley continues to forget that readers don't have the previous series memorized. Sure, there's captions giving the names of characters as they enter the stage, but that's not helpful if they didn't go by that name in the previous series. Would it be too much to ask that the captions add a few words? Like instead of just "Tannis Darling," have "Tannis Darling, friend of Pharos" or something like that. This is worse than writing for the trade, especially given the decade that passed since the previous series! Other than the whole "neither show nor tell" problem with characters, this is an okay issue with serviceable art. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Invader Zim #23: Oni - Journey to the center of GIR's mind! At least one part of GIR's mind works, sort of, but its hates its job and spends a lot of time explaining things while Zim is not paying attention, as will happen. I suppose this plotline could pick up next issue, but the way this one ends makes it possible for the thread to be dropped for an arbitrarily long time, especially if the next several issues were being worked on by different creative teams in parallel, as seems to be the MO for this book. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Kaijumax Season 3 #3 (of 6): Oni - Some of the survivors of season 2 show up back in lockup, reshuffling the status quo a little, although we don't really see how this impacts the leadership level of the factions yet. This issue is mostly Daniel's, as the return of old acquaintances and continued interaction with his parents pushes him to make a decision that will probably lead to as much devastation as ended Season 2, if on a more... is "subtle" even an applicable word for a prison island full of daikaiju (and some non-dai kaiju)? Well, a more subtle level, I guess. If not, I suppose the island can handle some map-redraws. Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #58: IDW - Something of an awkwardly told issue from Zahler. There's a new character who gets almost no introduction at all, although a couple weeks later he showed up in the cartoon. A bit of a scheduling oops. Other than the "who is this guy everyone seems to know" issue, though, this isn't particularly reliant on having seen "A Health of Information," just accept that he exists and move on. With the immediate emergency taken care of, the rest of Mage Meadowbrook's journals are pored over and a mcguffin hunt begins based on one of the entries. Zahler flirts with some possible romantic subplot stuff, but never solidly commits (just as well, the present-day couple might be cousins). Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony the Movie Prequel #4 (of 4): IDW - Part of Tempest Shadow's origin story, reportedly only part of the story told in one of the prequel kidnovels. Cute Star Trek: the Motion Picture poster homage for the cover. The Misfortune Malachite continues to be the element binding the stories together, like a less spherical Loc-Nar (I suppose it brings with it just as much nudity, but it matters a lot less since ponies don't normally wear clothes anyway). We get enough of Commander Tempest's backstory to see why she'd ally herself with the Storm King, but also enough to make it pretty obvious she does a face turn at some point later. There's also important information in what is not shown...Price sometimes goes to extreme lengths to avoid showing a particular piece of information, thereby making it clear that the information will be important in the movie. Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Legends of Magic #5: IDW - Related to Season 7's "Daring Do Retires" episode, wherein the famous legend is related, and now we see a less famous one. In the cartoon, Somnambula got no real characterization, as the story was told in broad strokes. Here, though, she's the main character and something of a ditz. She's the Pinkie Pie of the "Justice Society Mane Six," as it were (not that they all lived in the same era, so it would take time travel or magic statues or something to make them all into a team), somehow aware that she has plot armor. Some good goofy bits, but definitely a departure from the more "realistic" previous issues. I liked the contrast in those, seeing how a historical view of a mythic character would work. This was simply another mythic telling, for the most part. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Legends of Magic #6: IDW - Not only do we get two Legends issues this month, we also get two issues connected to the "A Health of Information" episode. Probably would have made sense if this issue came out at the beginning of the month and FiM #58 came out at the end, though. This issue does sort of explain why it was so hard to find information on the plot device of that episode, though...Sunburst had the only book with the full story! D'oh. Other than Whitley invoking a bit of DRHenry's Law when Sunburst complains about the story he just read, it's a decent piece, with some Night of the Living Dead homages that still fail to be half as creepy as the "these spores turn you into a tree" body horror of "A Health of Information". Mildly recommended. $3.99 Rom vs. Transformers: Shining Armor #3 (of 5): IDW - The Duly Appointed Enforcer of the Tyrest Accord gets to do a little enforcing as both sides learn that neither is as monolithic as they thought. There's almost a taxonomy of ethics on display as well, as if the whole thing were arranged solely to provide Stardrive with examples of behavior to either emulate or shun. Of course, when you get two properties defined by eternal wars crossing over, that's going to happen. We already know that other than Stardrive, no one is going to learn anything from this experience, since they're all pretty much the same in this story as they are 200 years later in the presence...and we haven't seen Stardrive in the present yet, but it's pretty obvious she doesn't go back to Cybertron (else females would have been represented by more than just Arcee), and her absence in contemporary Solstar/Cybertron interactions suggests she doesn't stay with them either. All this lines up to suggest the story is building up to either her death, or "A pox on both your houses" as she goes off to be Somewhere Else until Barber or Roberts decides to bring her into a present-day story. Historicals are always fraught with that sort of problem...you can't do anything that would contradict the existing stories, so you're limited to filling in gaps (i.e. we know Optimus Prime was a cop for a while and it shaped his personality, what sorts of things did he do?) or introducing entirely new characters who have to go into quarantine somehow. Mildly recommended. $3.99 First Strike #3 (of 6): IDW - Mostly a pretty slow-moving chase scene. Well, tracking scene...chase implies the quarry is occasionally in sight, and Scarlett's team is waaaaay behind Coulton's. Good banter along the way, even if some of it comes across feeling like tabletalk at a RPG session rather than something said "on screen". Mildly recommended. $3.99 First Strike #4 (of 6): IDW - We're still solidly in the phase where the antagonist's plan is working perfectly, something that gets lampshaded by Scarlett outlining what she expects the plan will be, then her words cropping up in narration as the elements happen, AND characters pointing it out on-screen. A touch on the olfactory sensor, there. OTOH, Colton is a former protagonist, so he's fully aware of how no plan survives contact with the enemy, if only he wasn't surrounded by people who never read the Evil Overlord List. Meanwhile, Starscream's in charge, so in the immortal words of Rattrap, "We're all gonna die." I mean, honestly...when a heel-turn takes on a face-turn, all the tropes hunger for death. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers Lost Light #9: IDW - Well, I suppose that's one way to bring back some plot thread danglers sneakily. Semi-sneakily, anyway...people who didn't stop reading the comics when I did probably figured out the double Big Reveal by the first page of the Anode part of the story. Nautica's side is more of a quiet ethical conflict, which gets a bit overshadowed by the big shooty stuff dragged in from Anode's side. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "I think 'bad luck' is SUPERSTITION. I don't blame CURSES. Everything bad that's happened to me...has been SOMEONE'S fault. Sometimes MINE." - Commander Tempest, showing more self-awareness than most people, MLP Movie Prequel #4