October 28, 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 My oregano is flowering. Didn't realize it would do that. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): The Incredible Hercules #137 "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. Astro Boy the Movie: This is an example of compressed storytelling. Very few of the plot elements are explored fully, they tend to get brought up with just enough screentime to establish they're there...but no more. Loads of storytelling shorthand, characters set up with hooks, backstory hinted at in short strokes. However, this is not one of those times where I'm particularly familiar with the source material, so I wasn't just papering over gaps in the movie with prior knowledge. It's all there, but it does rely on knowing how story structure works, or you might not realize what's been thrown at you at high speed. All in all, it was a pretty good bildungsroman, a story of growing up. There's a lot of side stories, but none of them really derail the plot (in part because they get so little screen time). Recommended, but it did poorly enough at the boxoffice in its opening week you'll need to see it soon or wait for the DVD. 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. Transformers Tales of the Fallen #3: IDW - This issue is Jetfire's backstory, which fills in a lot of gaps but also makes it harder to make sense of the overall timeline. It does at least explain how he acquired his Blackbird altmode. Mildly recommended. $3.99 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. Ignition City #5 (of 5): Avatar - Well, while there's a fair amount of shooting, it's more along the lines of executions than fighting, and it's a talky "here's the big bad secret" wrap-up. Not a lot of impact to be had, really. Now that it's done, it feels more like an excuse for exposition and worldbuilding than an actual story, like Ellis had a nifty "cocktail napkin" idea but never got a hook for a proper story to go with it. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Justice Society of America #32: DC - On the other hand, plenty of fighting here, and angsting, and some talking and infighting...a lot of stuff in general. Not a lot of depth, but Willingham seems to be shooting for building depth slowly, advancing a lot of elements a little at a time. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Astra an Astro City Character Special #2 (of 2): DC/Wildstorm - Where last issue was largely about the juxtaposition of normal and abnormal (and how "normal" is very much a relative thing), this one is more about the clash of wonderment and disillusionment...both of which have become somewhat depressingly normal for Astra. Recommended. $3.99 Wolverine First Class #20: Marvel - Eh. Too full of nod-and-wink to Secret Invasion, too empty of, well, much that interested me. This title's teetering on the edge of being dropped. Neutral. $2.99 X-Factor #50: Marvel - And the countdown to #200 is on! (No, seriously, they're doing the "go back and count all previous volumes in order to jump to the next multiple of 100" trick in a couple of months.) Anyway, the whole time loop plot looks like it gets resolved, but I made the mistake of actually reading Previews today so I know it's not actually over. Still, plenty of elements do get tied off, Layla's origins are explained, and there's an awful lot of narration to spackle over the gaps. A lot of Big Shockers that didn't particularly impress me. At least the preview of #200 looks interesting. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Ms. Marvel #46: Marvel - Dark Reign banner. A deliberately weird battle in and out of multiple heads. Given that Reed's probably not allowed to be the one to kick Sofen out of the Ms. Marvel role, this is about as much resolution as we can expect to get from the War of the Marvels. Recommended. $2.99 Models Inc. #3 (of 4): Marvel - Yeah, they never shipped #2 to my store. I read #2 as a CBR, though, so I'm caught up. Two pages of "story so far" at the beginning would have done the job otherwise, though...it's as if they expected people to jump in on this book in random places. More costumed action this issue, in part due to Chili's decision last issue to make herself a superhero ID. Hopefully she doesn't swear off the idea in #4, that'd be too cliche. I like the idea of her sticking with it a bit longer, despite the absurdity of the idea. The Marvel Universe could stand a little more light-hearted absurdity, after all. There's a short backup involving zombie fashion week, perhaps a little TOO absurd. Recommended. $3.99 Avengers the Initiative #29: Marvel - This title really isn't central to Dark Reign in terms of plot, for all that in-setting it's a vital part of Osborn's plans. As a result, with the wheels starting to come off Dark Reign, we mostly get the side effects and personal stories here...which is just fine, to be honest. Even the worst Big Events can be mined for some good side stories, and so it is here. Plus, it's not like Gage has been neglecting the book's own main plotlines just to service the Big Event, and the wheels are blown off a great number of plot vehicles with high explosives this issue. Recommended. $2.99 Dark Reign Young Avengers #5 (of 5): Marvel - Big fight scene, more of the Dark Avengers just not having a very good day (the running theme this month at Marvel, apparently...Dark Avengers show up, get at least a little humiliated and taken down a few pegs), and not much really gets resolved. It's an interesting read along the way, but not much closure. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Incredible Hercules #137: Marvel - And so the Pythagoras story wraps up, but Cho's quest is far from over. Sometimes even when you know you're in a script of someone else's devising, and can directly complain to the writer, you still choose to stick to the plot because it's the only viable path. Oh, a little improvisation here and there, tweaking the details in places, but accepting the overall destiny. At least for now. If hanging out with Herc has taught Amadeus Cho anything, it's that intelligence won't solve everything any more than brute strength will. Strongly recommended. $2.99 Dynamo5 #25: Image - Oversized issue, but rather than have an extended Big Damn Fight the cliffhanger is resolved fairly quickly. The rest of the issue is devoted to vignettes with guest artists setting up the new status quo for each character before the book goes on hiatus (sigh) in order to let them build up a backlog and try to avoid the erratic publication schedule that I actually hadn't noticed because Diamond has me accustomed to random release dates even when the publisher hits deadline. Anyway, a good cap to the series-to-date. Recommended. $4.99 Gold Digger v3 #111: Antarctic Press - Well, at least something from AP showed up. The Annual also arrived, but I don't get those. Anyway, Fred Perry often will start up some plot element and then let it simmer for years before touching it again, and this is one of those times, picking up on the Skippy/Ace thing. More of a thing on her side, mind you, but she's working on that, and demonstrates this issue that she's a lot more clever than she acts. Recommended. $2.99 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 10/28/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #22, Ninja High School #169-171, Gold Digger Tech Manual #3, Gold Digger v3 #105, Farscape Gone & Back #3, Models Inc. #2. Add Gold Digger Tech Manual #8, Gold Digger Peebo Tales #6 (nooooooo!) Awards: "It's The Giant Robot That Says Badass Mother****er!" Award to Astro Boy "Axe, Cane, Whatever" Award to Transformers Tales of the Fallen #3 "Well, Could Have Been Worse, It Could Have Used A Copy Of The Weekly World Schmooze As A Plot Device" Award to Ignition City #5 (of 5) "Poor Mr. America" Award to Justice Society of America #32 "Hard Sell To The Very End" Award to Astra an Astro City Character Special #2 (of 2) "In His Defense, They Were All Kidnapped By Aliens A Few Times Fairly Recently" Award to Wolverine First Class #20 "Out Of The Loop" Award to X-Factor #50 "The Wrinkled Costume Is Probably A Metaphor Of Some Sort...Unless Takeda Just Likes Drawing Wrinkles" Award to Ms. Marvel #46 "Might Wanna Put Concealer On The Freckles Before Putting On The Mask" Award to Models Inc. #3 (of 4) "Finally Free Of That Damned Dog!" Award to Avengers the Initiative #29 "Wish Ya Had The Rung Of Retcon, Eh Normie?" Award to Dark Reign Young Avengers #5 (of 5) "Curse You, Matthew Broderick!" Award to The Incredible Hercules #137 "So, When Does Franklin Richards Join The Team?" Award to Dynamo5 #25 "The Very Long Game" Award to Gold Digger v3 #111 Dave Van Domelen, "I think the little girl's creeping me out." "That's only 'cause Layla was before your time." - Darwin and Madrox, X-Factor #50
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