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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 Whee, about half my books for the month arrived on September 28! Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Steven Universe the Answer. In this installment: Mastering Manga 3 Power Up with Mark Crilley, Steven Universe the Answer, Deadpool Annual #1, Totally Awesome Hulk #10, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #11, Ms. Marvel v2 #11, Gold Digger #236, Invader Zim #13, Blue Beetle #1, Deathstroke #2-3, Astro City #38-39, Kaijumax v2 #4, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #46, My Little Pony Friends Forever #32, Revolution #1, Revolution MASK #1, The Transformers #57, Transformers Till All Are One #4, Transformers More than Meets the Eye #57. Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Atomic Robo and the Temple of Od #1 and 2 (of 5), The Transformers #57 (store ordered it, Diamond didn't ship it, reviewing a scan). "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. Nothing this month. Note, Luke Cage starts September 30, I probably won't even get to watching it until October 1. 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 either. I may retire this section and fold digital-only stuff in with floppies, I just don't get enough stuff digitally these days. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Mastering Manga 3: Power Up with Mark Crilley: Impact - This book is a lot less coherent than the first two volumes, being largely a collection of odds and ends. If it has a theme, it's "Now that you have the basics down, time to decide if you want to specialize in something." So there's a few pages on cute monsters, a few on horror manga, a few on giant robots, etc. If there's a volume 4, though, I really hope he picks one theme and develops it, rather than another book of miscellany. Recommended for those looking for inspiration on where to go with their art, mildly recommended for those who have already decided. $24.99 Steven Universe: the Answer: Cartoon Network Books - Series creator Rebecca Sugar (with the help of artists Elle Michalka and Tiffany Ford) takes the flashback part of the story from the Steven Universe episode of the same name and adapts it in the style of a Little Golden Book (although it's neither little nor golden). Rather than the cartoon's framing sequence of this being a story told by Garnet to Steven, though, it uses an spatial framing sequence. To wit, the top and bottom margins of most pages feature Sapphire on top making asides to Ruby on the bottom, a parallel story around the story. The Sapphire telling the story is initially working from Future Vision, warning Ruby that the story is about to end...and then it doesn't. And the marginal characters freak the heck out, acting as the inner voices of the characters whose outer voices were all we got in the episode. As the adapted story continues, the marginal versions break out of their separate worlds and in the end interact directly with the main story. I've read a lot of adaptations of cartoons, from cel comics to newly drawn ones to text, and they tend to be fairly mediocre, if only due to the intrinsic pacing and focus differences of the media. This, however, was great. Strongly recommended. $9.99/$13.99Cn Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Deadpool Annual #1: Marvel - The lead story is basically "What if Deadpool got into the old Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends cartoon," no particular surprises or moments that stand out. There's a short following up on it that's in the vein of a 1980s PSA, also so-so. The reason I bought the book, though, is an Adam Warren/Ryan Kinnaird piece in which Gothic Lolita from Live Wires teams up with Deadpool. It's only ten pages, but feels like it packs in more story than the entire rest of the issue. Recommended. $4.99 Totally Awesome Hulk #10: Marvel - The inconsistency in Civil War's treatment of Banner is addressed at last, but it still feels like Pak got blindsided by things. Mostly a running chase across country, with Amadeus tracking Hawkeye and Black Panther tracking Amadeus...a few clever moments, but really felt like Standard Crossover Derail. Mildly recommneded. $3.99 Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #11: Marvel - Sigh. While I like the execution of individual scenes and character moments fine, the book is reaching bad rom-com levels of "protagonist's problems all stem from refusing to communicate meaningfully with others." Mildly recommended. $3.99 Ms. Marvel v2 #11: Marvel - Final fight between Kamala and "Judge Dredd Barbie," not to mention her personal "Mom and Dad are fighting" issues. Not her biological mom and dad, they're fine. Her superhero parents...having her looking up to both Captain Marvel and Iron Man really set her up for not just Standard Crossover Derail this time, but Event Destroyed My Premise fallout. Wilson does a good job of using this to set up what looks to be a "walkabout" arc, although it would have been nice if Kamala had been allowed another year of organically growing things before having them all burned down by editorial ego. Recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger #236: Antarctic Press - One of the long-running subplots, the idea that a bunch of the traps Gina and her friends have been running into over the years are the fault of a single person or group, gets pushed up to main plot with a trap that appears to have been tailored for the Diggers family. It does push a few personality traits dangerously close to self- parody territory, but is otherwise a decent read. (It may be connected to #235, but I still can't bring myself to read more than a couple pages of last month's issue.) Recommended. $3.99 Invader Zim #13: Oni Press - One of the core conceits of the Zim universe is that the Irken race is pretty good at invading, in spite of A) being fairly stupid in a lot of ways in general, and B) Zim. So it's natural to consider the idea that there's aggressive alien life out there that is even stupider, and that's what we get this issue. There's also a short backup story about Zim seeking resources for a new plot device, which could have gotten the same joke across in one page instead of four, meh. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Blue Beetle #1: DC - Man, all the promise of Rebirth #1 just got tossed in the trash. This feels like a random selection of deleted scenes from the one-shot, incoherently lurching around from plot point to banter scene to plot point. I'll give it a couple more issues to even out, but it looks like the one-shot may have been a fluke. Neutral. $2.99 Deathstroke #2: DC - Larry Hama draws the layouts for this issue, so in broad strokes the visual storytelling is very good. Unfortunately, the pencils and colors don't always support the fairly subtle story Priest is trying to tell (hint: the "pink haired teenaged girl" in one scene is supposed to be a white haired tween). This is mostly a problem for completely new readers, as anyone who knows even a little about Deathstroke will be able to figure out the iffy parts on their own, but still an issue. Anyway, with the establishing shot of the two #1's out of the way, Deathstroke and Wintergreen are investigating in earnest who nabbed Evergreen and what the heck is up with that. This involves tracking down some old teammates of theirs, including one who turned superhero (and whose technobabble I had a small hand in creating). Recommended with the usual conflict of interest caveat. $2.99 Deathstroke #3: DC - Yeah, the whole biweekly Rebirth thing is going to make for a certain amount of review redundancy. It also makes for art teams swapping in and out every so often, with Joe Bennett taking over pencils (he's worked with Priest before, so the weird art goofs are less likely on his issues). Rose "Ravager" Wilson is the main focus of this issue, although the flashback stories continue and we get to see Slade losing his eye. That...is certainly one way to explain why it didn't grow back. Ow. Anyway, I like how Slade expresses disappointment in Rose without ever lapsing into a "Kids Today" sort of deal. It's more like, "Kids Always, Sigh." Recommended. $2.99 Astro City #38: DC/Vertigo - Finally, the extended summary format gives way to an actual story that's told in more or less traditional pacing, rather than reading like Cliff Notes. I think we could have gotten a solid full issue story out of each of the previous music avatars, rather than zipping through several in #37, but that's not a fault of this issue in particular. Recommended. $3.99 Astro City #39: DC/Vertigo - Not a Rebirth title, just irregular shipping that put two issues out in one month. On to a new storyline, but the recent focus on origin stories continues. Marta, from the original Shadow Hill introduction story, has grown up and older and made a good life for herself in a rough part of town (although by the issue's end it's made clear that all parts of town are rough, it's really just what you're used to coping with). I think I liked the Hanged Man better as a mystery that would never be resolved...it's not that the origin is bad or anything, it just didn't seem necessary. Recommended. $3.99 Kaijumax Season 2 #4: Oni Press - One thing this setting has been missing until now in its extended metaphor is a home life for kaiju. We've seen isolated kaiju trying to make it in human-run society, we've seen the alien mobster bars on the Moon, and we've seen plenty of them in prison, but to complete the "kaiju as oppressed class imprisoned more often than other classes" metaphor we needed to see somewhere other than prison where they lived in large numbers and scraped to get by. This issue supplies that, with an undersea community of Lovecraftian horrors (and whorers) just trying to get by until the stars are right. Cannon builds a nice parallel structure where Chisato and Jeong are working vice while trying to find Electrogor, and Electrogor is trying to cross "O.G." territory to get home, each seeing a different side of the literal and metaphorical depths to which the old gods have sunk. Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #46: IDW - A failed public works project inspires someone to run against Mayor Mare for the first time in ages, and because apparently no one can resist being topical, the main opponent is Filthy Rich (Diamond Tiara's dad). Yes, there's some blatant (if kid-friendly) Trump references, plus a few other characters run for the sake of in-jokes (Lyra's campaign promises include installing more park benches). The problem with stories in tie-in media that shake up the canon is that you know they have to put things back where they found 'em, it's just a matter of how. At least there's a seemingly unrelated mystery to solve to provide some sort of suspense. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friends Forever #32: IDW - Fluttershy and Daring Do, so of course the theme is bravery and facing one's fears. Fosgitt's style really doesn't work for Daring Do's pony-pulp milieu, unfortunately, and I think he totally misread the script for the last scene, making the treasure just appear out of nowhere instead of as the result of Daring's actions. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Revolution #1: IDW - Well, IDW's joined the big leagues, with a crappy bloated mega-crossover with banners and one-shots and things out of order or mutually spoilering each other. This fits reasonably well into the ongoing All Hail Optimus storyline in The Transformers, and it certainly makes sense that human military and spy organizations would be mobilizing from all directions, not just the EDC that we've seen. But GIJoe comes across as pretty one-dimensional, seething with generic rage and twitchier than an undertrained and overarmed cop in his first guns-drawn incident. Some of this will probably be explained as Dire Wraith influence, but if you're not reading the Rom comic (and I don't blame you if you don't, it's pretty padded and works way too hard to wedge in stuff), he just seems to show up for no reason, shoot a guy to make sure things get worse, and leave. I've seen worse crossover core books, but this is definitely in the bottom tier. Mild recommendation to avoid, but I'm going to ride this turkey in for the no doubt hard landing. $3.99 Revolution: MASK #1: IDW - Well, launching as a crossover tie-in one shot is pretty inauspicious, but let's give it a try, eh? I ended up pleasantly surprised by the lack of garbage fire comparisons. It's a bit heavy on narration (provided by Miles Mayhem), and too many of the characters feel interchangeable (although the present vs. past story structure does suggest that most of the forgettable ones don't survive the flashbacks). Easton sets up a pretty good justification for both MASK and VENOM and how they can have roles in a world that already has GIJoe and Transformers. Vargas's visual storytelling could use some work...individual figures are okay, but I often had to go back and reread a transition to be sure what the heck was going on. Disclaimer: my nostalgia for the original series is almost solely based on affection for the toys. The cartoon was "eh, it's on, guess I'll watch it" for the most part, so I'm fine with Easton changing around the character-based stuff. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Transformers #57: IDW - I don't have the physical book yet, but I'm going to go ahead and review based on a scan, since this is the final issue. And because it takes place before More than Meets the Eye #56. Optimus Prime and Soundwave face down Sentinel Prime and Sovereign, lots of exposition and "join me and we will rule" stuff, not particularly helped by Livio's usual art style. Meanwhile on Earth, the EDC and GIJoe try to mop up the remaining Transformers, mostly inconclusively, but at least explaining how Blitzwing's head ended up in the Road to Revolution backups (yeah, this issue really should have come out two months ago for a whole lot of reasons). Very little actual resolution, just "welp, cancelling the book for the crossover, gonna relaunch with another new title in a couple months" termination. Very mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers Till All Are One #4: IDW - Finally got an issue on time, and it wraps up the first arc. The mysteries aren't all solved, but the immediate crisis peaks and resolves. Windblade and Chromia each make their own decisions about dealing with their secrets, there's no doinking, and while a combiner does get blown up it's well-motivated (if not well-drawn... took me a few read-throughs to figure out it was a weapon fired by someone and not a ramming speed attack). So, good story, occasionally murky and muddled art. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers More than Meets the Eye #57: IDW - Well, this is another book being cancelled and relaunched (as Lost Light), but it really ended with #55. This two-part arc is more of a Titans Return tie-in, but since they were already bannering everything for Revolution, a second event at the same time was too much even for IDW's ambitious editors. That said, Roberts does manage to tie this arc into some of the title's existing danglers and themes, while also somewhat indulgently bringing up a few of the series's running gags. (Seriously, Prowl's table-flipping ends up being a plot point.) The ending is at least something of a resolution for the characters involved. Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "He shot me! Red Alert! He shot me!" "Living the dream." "What?" "Nothing." - Prowl and Fortress Maximus, Transformers More than Meets the Eye #57