October 22, 2008

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.
Almost time for car insurance bill, whee.  Rants, Capsules can be found on my 
             homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 

     Apparently so many stores opted out of the new higher price for First
Looks that Marvel has cancelled the program entirely...just what someone in
Marvel no doubt intended.

"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.

     Hulk Movie Digital Comic: Wal-Mart Exclusive - As usual with superhero
movies, Wal-Mart is packing bonus material in with the one-disc edition.
Normally this is a totally stripped-down version, and I'm annoyed that I
can't get the extra Wal-Mart content as well as things like deleted scenes.
But as with Iron Man, the one-disc does have some deleted scenes, and the
three-disc only has a couple things that interest me, so I decided to get the
Wal-Mart pack again.  Unlike the bonus disc for Iron Man, though, this is a
CDROM and not a DVD, with a flash player to view the comic.  A realllly
crappy flash player that seems to assume I have a 24" screen, took me a while
to get it to display in a readable way.
     The movie makes reference to previous run-ins with the Hulk in Canada
and the jungles of Brazil, and this comic tells that story intercut with a
longer version of the origin story, written by Peter David and with art by
Dave Ross and the Dalek...er, a couple of inkers.  Cute tuckerization of
Mantlo and Pak.  The story itself is so-so, and not helped by having to slog
through an interface that compares unfavorably to Marvel's mid-1990s digital
comics.  On a Mac, page down on the CD's folder until you hit a folder called
"Assets".  Open that, then open "Data", "IncHulk_Custom" and finally
"hi_res_col", which will get you the raw JPGs which you can view in a REAL
reader program.  Seriously, reading the JPGs in Preview took a quarter of the
time and the image quality was an order of magnitude better even without
zooming in.
     My computer also recognizes the bonus disc as an audio CD (it shows up
as two discs, heh), but GraceNotes has no listing for it, so I picked one
just called "Disc2 (Various Artists)" from the options given, and got a bunch
of unrelated titles.  But the three soundtrack samples played (and ripped)
just fine, and I went ahead and uploaded the titles to GraceNotes, so anyone
else should be able to get 'em.
     All in all, the extra $5 for the Wal-Mart bonus disc is...not really
worth it.  An okay comic that's inconvenient to read, three soundtrack
pieces, and a mediocre image gallery.  You're probably better off either
saving the money and getting the non-bonus one-disc for $15 (it'll go up
next week, though) or shell out for the three-disc.

Comics Capsules:
     Short, relatively spoiler-free reviews of books I actually bring home
(as opposed to reading in preview form in the shop or online).  If I get a
book late due to distributor foulups or whatever, I'll put it in the Missing

     Books of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Aetheric
Mechanics GN

     Transformers All Hail Megatron #4: IDW - While there's a short scene or
two back on Earth, this is mostly showing what's happening now to the
Autobots.  Not really how they got there, mind you, just occasional
references and allusions.  No wrapping up of the prior plotlines, lots of
unexplained status changes, etc.  As the sort of thing to see in #1, I'd
expect that.  But by #4, I'd kinda hope for less tease and more info.  A two
page bit involving Cliffjumper is about the only really worthwhile part of
the issue.  Neutral.  $3.99
     Thor: the Truth of History #1 (of 1): Marvel - Alan Davis and Mark
Farmer, so my expectation is for mediocre writing and lovely art surrounding
a clever conceit.  And that's pretty much what gets delivered, but the
conceit is clever and the art is lovely.  Recommended.  $3.99/$4.50Cn
     X-Factor #36: Marvel - You know, cultivating a beard that resembles a
Skrull's chin folds may not be the wisest fashion move these days on
Earth-616.  Just sayin'.  The main Darwin plot moves along nicely, plus one
or two other subplots get serviced.  If you don't mind Stroman's art,
recommended.  $2.99/$3.50Cn
     New Warriors #17: Marvel - The Dark Thrash Returns, basically.  Oh, I
can see what Grevioux is shooting for here, but it just doesn't gel.  Part of
the problem, I think, is that the plot is too tied to trying to undo a Major
Event that no one short of Bendis is allowed to undo...so you know it'll be
ultimatey futile.  And Grevioux is trying to set up an alternate "victory
condition" here, but it doesn't convince.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.50Cn
     Ms. Marvel #32: Marvel - Rather than go into the post-SI status quo, we
get a flashback to Carol's days as a test pilot.  The first half is redundant
pseudo-military chatter, the second half is torture porn.  Avoid.
     She-Hulk v2 #34: Marvel - Lightly dances around the post-SI status quo
(it's a character bit, but not a major plot point) and veers into Real World
Relevancy.  Fortunately, She-Hulk's current battered cynicism lets Peter
David avoid making it too preachy.  Thundra threatens to steal the show,
though.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.50Cn
     Amazing Spider-Man #574: Marvel - Back to Guggenheim, with Kitson and
Farmer on the art.  Speaking of Relevancy, having a story that focuses on the
Iraq war when a global alien invasion mega-event is still wrapping up tends
to feel unreal.  Like, why are any soldiers still clearing neighborhoods in
Mosul when the entire planet is swarming with chin-jobs?  If you can put that
aside, it's a pretty good parallel/parable for Flash Thompson, as his actions
in Iraq are informed by his past.  But it's a lot to put aside.
Recommended.  $2.99/$3.50Cn
     The Family Dynamic #3 (of 3): DC - Ooookay.  Sure, the "Never the end"
bit on the last page argues for a continuing series, but this fails at story
closure.  It deflates its own cliffhangers, dances around issues, and ends on
a new cliffhanger that is unlikely to be particularly threatening.  Nor do
the emotional danglers get resolved in any significant way, and it feels
padded out specifically to avoid resolution.  Disappointing.  Neutral.  $2.25
     Blue Beetle #32: DC - Backstory time, both the origin of the new Doctor
Polaris (I guess Emerson got killed off in some book I don't read) and a bit
more about Jaime's family history.  A good resolution of the immediate
"magnetic punks" plotline while advancing the immigration issues plotline
(Relevancy works better when the characters have a natural hook, mind you).
Recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn
     Invincible #54: Image - The second time travel story of my week's haul.
There's a third, but it's a spoiler, so I won't say which one it is.  :)
Like New Warriors, it involves travel to a future where one man rules the
world and it's a shiny dystopia.  Unlike New Warriors, Kirkman doesn't have
to worry about the inertia of someone else's stories, so he can resolve
things pretty well and use it as grist for moving forwards as well.
Recommended.  $2.99
     Aetheric Mechanics Graphic Novella: Avatar/Apparat - 44 pages, black and
white line art.  So, emphasis on the -ella part there.  However, Ellis mines
enough tropes that he can compress the story quite effectively and rely on
the reader filling in the blanks hinted at by a line here or an image there.
The ending is a touch talky, but that's where it strays into areas the reader
isn't necessarily going to be able to follow, so that can be forgiven.  The
high concept is steampunk Sherlock Holmes in an alternate 1907, but it teases
apart into much more interesting bits.  Be warned, you may need to consult
the works of Jess Nevins to fully follow this.  Strongly recommended
nonetheless.  $6.99

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 10/22: Atomic Robo v2 #2 (Diamond now lists it as
"Backordered, not stocked", but a friend of mine who shops at the same store
as the artist should be able to grab me a copy), Transformers Saga of the
AllSpark #4.  Add Ninja High School #164 (store was charged for it, but
didn't get any copies).


"They Had To Leave Trimpe Back At Base" Award to the Hulk CDROM Comic

"It's Not Like He Had Cable To Distract Him" Award to Transformers All Hail
     Megatron #4

"Exactly How Many Copies Of The Sphinx Exist In The Marvel U, Anyway?"
     Award to Thor: the Truth of History #1 (of 1)

"Does He *Ever* Go For Subtle?" Award to X-Factor #36

"Stark Reality" Award to New Warriors #17

"And Yet, If One Nipple Slipped Out, It'd Go From T+ To Mature Content
     Warning" Award to Ms. Marvel #32

"But I Thought Thundra Liked Men (So Long As She's On Top)?" Award to 
     She-Hulk v2 #34

"Ain't Nohow Permanent Anyway" Award to Amazing Spider-Man #574

"About As Awkward As Every Birthday Party, Really" Award to The Family
     Dynamic #3 (of 3)

"The Power Of Positive (And Negative, Hence Dipolar) Thinking" Award to 
     Blue Beetle #32

"And Fully Ninety-Five Percent Of Those Stories Are Told By Zaphod
     Beeblebrox" Award to Invincible #54

"Nothing Is Quite So Dangerous As An Active Imagination" Award to Aetheric
     Mechanics GN

     Dave Van Domelen, "This isn't really a dating situation.  There could be
danger."  "And this is different from all our other dates HOW, exactly?"
"You make a valid point." - Jaime Reyes and Traci 13, Blue Beetle #32
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