September 30, 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, My cold virus seems to have mutated and taken another go at me. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Cthulhu 101 "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. Cthulhu 101: Atomic Overmind Press - My excuse for this being in here is that various Mythos comics are mentioned occasionally. :) As the title implies, this is a brief overview of what's known as the Cthulhu Mythos, plus guidance in learning more. It's a fairly quick read, being large print and small pages, and helped along by Kenneth Hite's brisk style. And in places it's *hilarious*. Strongly recommended. $8.95 Iron Man Armored Adventures Mandarin and Crimson Dynamo Action Figures: Marvel/Hasbro - The cartoon's been out for a while, albeit only on the high-numbered digital cable channels (in most U.S. markets, anyway), so I was a little surprised to see it was even getting toys. Another 3.75" line, this is more like the Wolverine and the X-Men line in terms of limited articulation. But the IMAA animation style lends itself less well to the production values of Hasbro's recent 3.75" figure lines, and the figures are further hobbled by gimmicks that range from merely ugly to utterly useless. The Mandarin is at the useless end, having the absolute worst "sword slash" gimmick I can recall seeing, and I've seen a LOT of bad sword slash gimmicks. The sculpt looks nice, though, and while the paint job is minimal it seems in keeping with the animated design. Crimson Dynamo is a powersuit of the "pilot is scrunched up in the torso, all the limbs are waldos" variety, with a nicely menacing aesthetic and an "arm smash" gimmick that is only moderately intrusive (and only moderately interesting). I didn't get any of the Iron Man figures, the lack of elbow articulation and the general lack of crispness in the mold lines was offputting. Crimson Dynamo is mildly recommended, avoid the others. $7.99 at Toys R Us (currently on a two for $9.99 sale, though). 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. Invincible #66: Image - Not, strictly speaking, late. My store did get it on time. But it wasn't on their invoice, and it was in a box that wasn't supposed to have any new comics in it, so it wasn't found until after closing on Wednesday. This issue picks up on Allen the Alien's arc and is corner- bannered as a prelude to the "Viltrumite War" arc...what would be a 450- comic mega-crossover event at Marvel or DC, undoubtedly. The original series artist Cory Walker returns for a guest stint, and as a latecomer to the book I must say his work looks odd on some characters. :) Recommended. $2.99 The New Justice Machine High Gear Edition vol 1: Millennial Concepts - This came out a while ago, but surprise surprise, Diamond not only didn't ship it to my store, I don't recall ever seeing it on a release list. I ended up getting it online at Amazon. While it never says so anywhere that I can find, this is a reprint of the Innovation series from the 90s and if volume 2 ever comes out it'll include the two Millennium Comics issues as well. Taking the color art from those issues and grayscaling it results in some pretty murky work. And the 80s-style costumes that Ellis talks about being so bad in the endpiece get upgraded into painfully 90s costumes for, IMO, a net loss. I will confess to taking several influences from the Innovation series, though, in my Legion of Net.Heroes writing. The System Corruptors anthology title was a deliberate inversion of "Justice Machine", and stationing my villain Acton Lord on Andale Atoll is a reference to the Ariba Atoll of this title. Mildly recommended. $16.99 The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Companion: TwoMorrows Publications - I think this one was actually out even longer ago than the Justice Machine book. This one I got from rather than Amazon. Really, it's at the point where if I want a TPB or other book-sized publication related to comics, it's best to just ignore Diamond and go straight to the online places. Anyway, this is a guide to the whole history of the THUNDER Agents (typing in all the dots is a pain), including a lot of false starts, such as a recent relaunch that made it to solicitation stage but never actually shipped. There's the expected issue guides and fan art, but is otherwise VERY heavy on interviews. It ends with a Paul Gulacy-drawn story from one of the more recent failed relaunches. Mildly recommended, unless you like interviews (I don't particularly) in which case recommended. $24.95 [Two later notes: the Gulacy-drawn story was from OMNI Comix #3, and recent developments (post-dating the publication of the Companion) make DC's attempt at a relaunch look a little more likely to happen.] Wolverine First Class #6: Marvel - For some reason, Diamond kicked loose some extra copies of the Marvel Apes variant cover and it got put in my pull. But since I hadn't been buying the book back then and it's a slow week, I decided to go ahead and buy it. A "girls' night" issue with Kitty, Siryn, Amp (a new character for this series) and little Illyana. Light fun, but with some drama (or Teh Dramaz, more like, but these ARE teenaged girls, mutants or not) worked in between the cracks of the Cockrum-Claremont UXM issues. The Wolverine Chimp cover has nothing to do with the story inside, but that's normal for the Ape Month variant covers. Recommended. $2.99 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. X-Factor #49: Marvel - Hm, the "When Last We Left Our Heroes" blurb actually reveals something that was not made clear last issue (i.e. it was only established who Cortex was in general, not specific, but the When Last clarifies the specific). A big chunk of the issue is flashback to getting Guido, Rictor and Shatterslut, er, Shatterstar back to Detroit, and most of the rest is Doom stealing the show (and the plotline) in the future. Recommended. $2.99 Thor #603: Marvel - I wonder if the long delay was done to retrench in preparation for JMS leaving, or just a result of JMS or Djurdjevic falling massively behind. In any case, it looks like JMS's plot is wrapping up in a one-shot, with a new team coming on for #604. This issue kinda meanders, poking at a few plot threads here and there and then swinging the camera back onto Bill's adventures in Latveria. I liked the short Warriors Three scene, but otherwise it was kinda coasting. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Marvel Mystery Handbook: Marvel - An OHOTMU for the characters introduced in Timely's first year of superhero comics, an odd mix of Marvel regulars (like Namor or the Human Torch), recent revamps (the Twelve, among others) and plenty of obscure characters who haven't been revamped yet. And a few that probably shouldn't be. The lesser lights get half-page entries at the back, and many get new art because there's apparently no suitable pieces left that could be used. Recommended. $4.99 Amazing Spider-Man #607: Marvel - More from Kelly and McKone. I was reading the Spider-books back during the heyday of the Spidey/Black Cat romance, and Kelly's definitely retconning certain elements of it, but some of that is probably in-story "memories are always a little skewed from the way things happened" changing of things. Still, I like the way it recasts the relationship...and while McKone is no Mark Beachum, he definitely brings the heat. Recommended. $2.99 Justice Society of America #31: DC - Well, Sturges and Willingham are doing a good job of making this look like an "open" mystery to some extent, but with just a few hints here and there suggesting that it might be quite closed after all. Fortunately, the Magog fight featured on the cover is only a few pages and not all that big a deal, all told. It's more of a tense waiting game sort of story. Recommended. $2.99 Astra an Astro City Character Special #1 (of 2): DC/Wildstorm - The cover is done up as a supermarket checkout line gossip/style magazine. Last time we saw the First Family in the "present" rather than a flashback story, Astra was your basic Franklin Richards character, a little girl with powers. This issue takes place the night of her college graduation...and it struck me that enough real world time has passed for that to be dead on. Anti-Franklin in that sense, she aged a year per year. A decade of her life is mentioned here and there in passing, just part of what passed for normal for her, with her perfectly normal boyfriend standing in for the reader in his reactions to all of this craziness. Given the track record of these character-based Astro City specials, though, I don't think much of the chances of him still being her boyfriend at the end of #2...but I can still hope to be pleasantly surprised. Recommended. $3.99 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 9/30/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #22, Ninja High School #169-171, 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, Farscape Gone & Back #3. Pull Adds: Comics sorting is running late these days because of staff cutbacks, so I spent the time waiting by going through Previews. Here's what I'm adding to my pull that's solicited for December: Thunderbolts: Just for #139-140, written by Jeff Parker and sounding more like Agent of Atlas take over the book for two months. Empowered One-Shot: Like this would surprise anyone. Serenity Rose vol. 2 GN: Collecting the almost-but-not-quite-done webcomic sequel to the short-lived comic. It's good. Transformers Bumblebee one-shot: Written by Zander "Chainsaw Vigilante" Cannon. Awards: "Squamous AND Rugose" Award to Cthulhu 101 "You'd Think Mandarin Could Afford Newer Swords" Award to Iron Man Armored Adventures action figures "Least Romantic Planetary Ring Ever" Award to Invincible #66 "Third Gear, Maybe" Award to The New Justice Machine High Gear Edition vol 1 "I Think One Of The Relaunches Had More Creators Than Readers" Award to The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Companion "Bored Now" Award to Wolverine First Class #6 "You're Far Too Trusting" Award to X-Factor #49 "Hasn't Doom Been There, Done That?" Award to Thor #603 "No, Not That Human Top. The Other Human Top. Okay, The OTHER Other Human Top" Award to Marvel Mystery Handbook "Amazingly, Absolutely No 'Getting Lucky' Jokes That I Noticed" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #607 "Also, He Has Super-Dickery Powers" Award to Justice Society of America #31 "He Should Be Glad She Didn't Take After Her Father's Side" Award to Astra an Astro City Character Special #1 (of 2) Dave Van Domelen, "And the ironic phrasing just keeps comin'." - Guido, X-Factor #49
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