October 7, 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, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Non-squirrel-related power outage at work this afternoon, whee. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Atomic Robo Shadow from Beyond Time #4 (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. None this week. 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. Another batch sent by my friend who shops at a store Diamond's not trying to kill. Farscape D'Argo's Trial #1 (of 4): Boom! Studios - The framing sequence has D'Argo flying off to find Macton, his brother-in-law and the man who killed Lo'Laan (D'Argo's wife, Macton's sister), vengeance on his mind. This puts it likely somewhere in Season 3, and definitely before Season 4's "Mental As Anything" where D'Argo pretty much stumbles across Macton and resolves issues by episode's end. So, even if the framing sequence doesn't end up being a wild goose chase, it's really just a device for telling the flashbacks, since there's no way he can deal with Macton yet. The flashbacks pick up after the flashbacks of D'Argo's Lament, as he meets Lo'Laan while recovering from his torture, and cover the time through proposing marriage. It's a somewhat expositiony story, although some of that exposition clears up a few of the weirder aspects of Luxan biology. Generally decent writing from DeCandido, but Caleb Cleveland's art is a bit too sketchy in places. Granted, some of the washed-out look (no heavy lines, no shadows to speak of) is a deliberate contrast to the darkness of the framing sequence and meant to reflect a lighter time and the haze of kindly memory (aside from the red-colored Hyper Rage scene), but I think it went too far in places. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Farscape D'Argo's Trial #2 (of 4): Boom! Studios - This one goes from the conception of Jothee (and explains how that even worked) through Lo'Laan's death. The colors are more varied here, more darkness, but it's not a consistent indicator of mood. In a legal sense, there's been no trial yet, but a different sort of trial against Sebacean racism runs through the entire issue. The narrative style tends to wash out the impact of the scenes as much as the art does, though...it shoots for darkly contemplative, but it mainly ends up simply feeling neutral. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #14: Marvel - Featuring Hawkeye and the Blonde Phantom. Okay, the cover just has it featuring Hawkeye. A rather philosophy-heavy issue, especially for a title aimed at a younger audience. The "threat" is a bunch of amateur bank robbers with a too-clever gimmick, but we see a lot more of the "down time" during the investigation than is normally shown in a superhero book, including a concise examination of the issues behind the Superhuman Registration Act from Hawkeye's POV. Of course, in the Marvel Adventures setting, there's no SHRA, but it's clear that if there were one this Hawkeye would be against it too. Recommended. $2.99 Atomic Robo Shadow from Beyond Time #4 (of 5): Red5 Comics - Guest- starring Carl Sagan circa 1971. One of the intrinsic problems with portraying skeptical characters in a fantastic setting is that it's all too easy to turn them into strawmen who reflexively disbelieve in all the weird happenings around them, or into borderline lunatics like Doctor Thirteen who blind themselves to the unreal reality. Clevinger gets it right, however, showing that Sagan is certainly willing to entertain the occasional ridiculous claim provided there's evidence to be had. It's a good mix of proper skeptical debate about science and blowing things up with lightning guns and SCIENCE! (all-caps and exclamation point vital to distinguishing it from regular science). Wegener gives us a quite recognizable 1971 Sagan without looking rigidly photoreferenced. Strongly recommended. $3.50 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. Jersey Gods #8: Image - The plot kind of wanders a bit, although we do get the Not Very Surprising Revelation in the Grace Enterprises plotline before Barock goes haring off to Neboron with Zoe in toe. Mind you, while the story tends to wander, the theme of "family can be difficult" drenches every scene, so there's coherence on that level. Recommended. $3.50 Official Index to the Marvel Universe #10: Marvel - Amazing Spider-Man #402-435 plus various cloney things like Amazing Scarlet Spider and Maximum Cloneage; Iron Man #8 (Reborn version) through Iron Man #35 (Quesada/Tieri version); Uncanny X-Men #376-412. No crossover explanation boxes this time out. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #608: Marvel - I got the "EST. 1962" white-background cover. Guggenheim's turn comes up in the writing, and we're back to the story of the dino-powered guy who wants to kill Ben Reilly and dredge up all sorts of stories that were indexed in Official Marvel Index #10. Complete with at least one "refugee from the 90s" in-story reference. The Big Reveal apparently means something to people who read the Clone Saga, but that doesn't include me, so it's not so dramatic. I presume it's the character mentioned in the next issue title blurb. Recommended. $2.99 R.E.B.E.L.S. Annual #1: DC - The life and times of the new Starro, including why he wears a helmet. The florid narration is a bit irksome at times, and the revelation about Starro's true motivations is horribly emo. Mildly recommended. $4.99 Planetary #27: DC/Wildstorm - At long last. There's a quick montage of Changing The World, but most of the issue focuses on something both more personal and more cosmic...how to save Ambrose, and whether it's the right thing to do. As payoffs go, it's fairly mild, but it's only a problem when you consider the long time delay. The story taken as a story, rather than as a sequence in time, works pretty well. Recommended. $3.99 Ninja High School #174: Antarctic Press - I love it when a plan comes together. Recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger Tifanny & Charlotte Second Semester #3: Antarctic Press - Ah, puberty. Or something like it. Only slightly less feral and destructive. Plus a Willy Wonka parody that thankfully goes right off the rails (because, frankly, either original is sufficiently over the top that a parody is going to come off more like pale imitation). Oh, one clever little structural thing this issue. Each page ends with a little bloggy tagline from Tif, as if this were a webcomic she was making, or a video diary. But on certain pages, those taglines are absent, and the absence is Important To The Story. 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 10/7/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #22, Ninja High School #169-171, Gold Digger Tech Manual #3, Gold Digger v3 #105, Middleman GN, Farscape Gone & Back #3. Add Models Inc. #2 and X-Men/Agents of Atlas #1. Awards: "Slightly Different Rules Of Professional Ethics, I See" Award to Farscape D'Argo's Trial #1 (of 4) "Miscegeneration Gap" Award to Farscape D'Argo's Trial #2 (of 4) "I Mean, My Hands Aren't LITERALLY Registered As Deadly Weapons" Award to Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #14 "Clearly He Won't Appreciate Pi When It Comes Out" Award to Atomic Robo Shadow from Beyond Time #4 (of 5) "No, Your Mother Isn't A Rampaging Hell Beast, MY Mother Is" Award to Jersey Gods #8 "Claremont Comes Back In And Immediately Drops A Dangler That's Unresolved Nine Years Later...Typical" Award to Official Index to the Marvel Universe #10 "Stegron 2.0" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #608 "Oh My God, They Killed Kenny!" Award to R.E.B.E.L.S. Annual #1 "Damned Tourists" Award to Planetary #27 "It Is It Is A Wonderful Thing" Award to Ninja High School #174 "OM NOM NOM" Award to Gold Digger Tifanny & Charlotte Second Semester #3 Dave Van Domelen, "She's a bad guy, folks. You should stop giving her attention and use the internet for what it was intended for." "Viral marketing and online commerce?" "Nope. Using the googles to find Norman OsPORN. Everybody knows that." "Obviously, you haven't checked out the age- restricted pages on my site." - Spider-Man and Screwball, ASM #608 Bonus Quote: "When you return to your unobservable but empirically determined dimension of origin -- tell them CARL SAGAN sent you." - Carl Sagan, Atomic Robo Shadow from Beyond Time #4 (of 5)
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