October 29, 2016

Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et Cetera

Intermittent 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 Oops, I forgot to put something on this line in the version on RACM. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Transformers Revolution One-Shot In this installment: Luke Cage (Netflix), Overwatch #9, DC SuperHero Girls Yearbook, Halloween Fest 2016 Freebies (Mickey's Inferno, Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl, DC SuperHero Girls), Champions #1, Totally Awesome Hulk #11, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #12, Ms. Marvel v2 #12, Gold Digger #237, Invader Zim #14, Blue Beetle #2, Deathstroke #4-5, Astro City #40, Hanna- Barbera Future Quest #5-6, Kaijumax Season 2 #5 (of 6), Ragnarok #10, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #47, My Little Pony Friends Forever #33, Atomic Robo: the Temple of Od #2-3, Revolution #2-3, Transformers Revolution One-Shot. Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Atomic Robo: the Temple of Od #1 (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. Luke Cage: Marvel/Netflix - Well, I didn't binge, per se, but having Fall Break this month helped me get through the whole season before the end of the month. The general online consensus was that this was a bit padded, maybe 8 episodes' worth stretched to 13. While considering that point and trying to figure out what could be cut, though, I came to a realization. The "padding" mostly seems to consist of repeated setbacks, places where a chapter could have wrapped up, but now it runs for another episode or two because the rug got pulled out from under someone. And that's not padding, that's a theme. The theme of "no one wins." Seriously, by the end of 13 episodes, everyone is worse off than they were at the beginning, except MAYBE one or two supporting characters. Whether you think Luke himself is better off at the end is very much a matter of personal beliefs, but it's definitely ambiguous. Whenever it looks like someone is about to win, be they protagonist or antagonist, they suffer a setback (sometimes a lethal one). While definitely a valid theme to run through a "street level vigilante" story, it's not going to be for everyone. As TMBG put it, "No one in the world ever gets what they want, and that is beautiful." The casting was very good, and some of the acting was terrific (no one does "You have GOT to be kidding me" like Rosario Dawson). Definitely worth watching, just don't expect a happy ending for anyone. 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. Overwatch #9: Dark Horse - Another 8 page freebie, this one setting up the Dr. Junkenstein's Monster Halloween event on the game. Reinhardt tells a "scary story" that generally fails to scare anyone, predictably. Amusing fluff. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. DC SuperHero Girls Super Hero High School Yearbook: DC/Random House - This is a pretty good piece of "in universe" merch, although it doesn't have entries for all the students (several backgrounders get entries, but a lot don't), and it gives extra emphasis to the students who have speaking roles in the cartoons...some make sense because they're Heroes of the Month or Year, but not all. Most of the entries are signed, the only exceptions being Elasti-Girl (who, ironically, is one of the few female students who isn't supermodel slim) and El Diablo (described as easygoing but having the tattoos of the angst bomb of the Suicide Squad movie). The setting gets a bit of expansion beyond the yearbook entries of backgrounders, as Apokolips Magnet School and Korugar Academy get spreads, giving us a few of the students at Korugar Academy for the first time. Recommended. $9.99/$13.99Cn Halloween Freebies: It gets less press than Free Comic Book Day, but a lot of companies put out special editions for stores to give away free for Halloween. Some are existing pieces with new cover, some are short previews of for-pay books, others are made specifically for Halloween. Great Parodies: Mickey's Inferno: Papercutz - This is a preview of a reprint of a 1949-50 adaptation of Dante's Inferno, covering through Canto IV (full thing due in December). The premise is that Peg Leg Pete has Morty the Mesmerist hypnotize Micky and Goofy after they finish a performance of the Divine Comedy so that they think they really are Dante and Virgil, and when they fall asleep they dream their way through the Inferno. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: You Choose the Story #1 Halloween Comic Fest 2016: Marvel - This is a new-cover reprint of Squirrel Girl #7, the Choose Your Own Adventure riff issue where Squirrel Girl tries to deal with Swarm (who I suppose is spooky enough to qualify for Halloween). DC SuperHero Girls Halloween Fest Special Edition 2016: DC - Another preview piece, it's the first chapter of the upcoming "Hits and Myths" GN, and the cover is a bit misleading because they don't actually get far enough into the story to show Trigon, despite him being the cover threat. There's also some profile pages and activity pages, so it's not entirely an ad. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Champions #1: Marvel - One of the few books with a "#1 NOW!" banner that's actually a #1 issue. Something like this book was pretty much bound to happen in the wake of CW2, considering that Tony Stark's Avengers were put through the wringer by the crossover (CW2 isn't over yet, but thanks to several post-CW2 books that weren't delayed the same way CW2 was, we know some of the characters are totally out of the picture, and ones like Kamala and Miles had a lot of their reason for being Avengers messed with). So this is a Young Justice for Marvel in many ways, a team of Legacy Heroes or other underage versions of useful trademarks teaming up to find a better way than the previous generation. However, to avoid giving away too many details of the "Waid probably knew or suspected CW2 would never finish on time" events, the first scene of this issue provides a "last straw" that gets Kamala to quit the Avengers. The middle of the book is somewhat "what do we do now?" followed by a time-honored emergency that throws the core of the team together. But where the Avengers were kicked off as a team by ham radio operators, the Champions are launched as a twitter hashtag. Plus la change. It was a decent read, and Waid knows how to provide a solid superhero story. Hopefully he learned from reactions to the Legion of Bite Me Grandpa and will avoid pushing the generation gap stuff to the point of parody here, though. Recommended. $4.99 (oversized first issue) Totally Awesome Hulk #11: Marvel - On the one hand, this is almost entirely fight scene, and most of that is Amadeus doing the "I'm the strongest there is, don't you get it?" sort of thing (and the whole "crush Hawkeye" motif on the cover is almost totally absent), but Pak does manage to give the story a point and hang it on a significant character moment. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #12: Marvel - Part 2 comes to an end, resolving (at least for now) the romantic subplot that exists only in Kid Kree's head. Reeder does a good job of fleshing out Mel-Varr, making him very much a fitting companion for Luna while also representing a lot of stuff she wants nothing to do with. Recommended. $3.99 Ms. Marvel v2 #12: Marvel - AKA NOW #1, a buck more expensive and padded out with a Red Widow backup story I didn't bother reading. Kamala goes to visit relatives back in Pakistan in an attempt to get her head back on straight in the wake of Civil War II, but since she's already back in Champions she was going to have to figure things out pretty fast. Wilson does a good job of balancing the complexities of Kamala's situation without making things seem hopeless...it's just really hard and will take a lot of work, but she's going to try. (As an aside, apparently a scarf over the face is the vocal equivalent of the Mask Principle, because I'm pretty sure the local Karachi hero that Kamala meets is someone she spends a time talking to in both of their civiilian IDs.) Recommended. $4.99 Gold Digger #237: Antarctic Press - A heartwarming tale of dealing with bullies, avoiding becoming as bad as they, and making friends with ancient ambulatory playground equipment in a city full of deadly traps. Recommended. $3.99 Invader Zim #14: Oni Press - Another Dib & Gaz issue, with Zim dumped in a hole for the duration of the issue. The premise is that due to a plot device, Gaz has to keep Dib from getting too sad, or he'll explode. She doesn't like him all that much, but she doesn't want him dead, so the long-running subplot between Dib and one of his online nemeses gets brought to the fore, as Gaz tries various ways to help Dib find some contentment in that particular battle. Not that she cares, dummy. One of the running gags gets pushed a little too far, but even the writer seems to realize that as it's happening, and while the requisite status quo is mostly restored at the end, a particular conflict introduced in the comic does get to have a proper resolution. Recommended. $3.99 Blue Beetle #2: DC - Ugh. A little mystery stuff as Blue Beetle doesn't get into a fight with the local meta-vigilantes, and things are looking good, but then about half the issue is a running fight with one of the vigilantes, who is being a psycho stalker girl trying to get into Blue Beetle's armor for a little nookie. While this is the sort of plot development that can be done without being inherently a bad idea, the first issue where the character appears for more than a page is NOT the place to do it. Neutral. $2.99 Deathstroke #4: DC - Ah, father-daughter bonding. In case it wasn't clear yet, Priest's Deathstroke is not a basically good person who does horrible things in service of a greater good. He's a horrible person who nonetheless is capable of going good in the service of a greater paycheck. Wintergreen tries to help Rose understand her father, but her fundamental worldview may not be compatible with ever understanding Slade. Recommended. $2.99 Deathstroke #5: DC - Wheels within wheels within wheels, some of which have bat logos on them. Batman isn't even remotely a surrogate father figure for Rose (although he is for Nightwing, who trained Rose), but he gives her a slightly more patient version of the father-daughter talk that Slade has been trying to get through to her for several issues now. Meanwhile, Priest accidentally recreates the Ransom of Red Chief as Slade holds Robin hostage in order to get Batman to do what Slade wants...or not do it, or something. The driving theme of this issue is, "Really, why are you doing what you're doing?" Motivation matters, the wrong motivation can get you killed, and even the right motivation can get you killed. Recommended. $2.99 Astro City #40: DC/Vertigo - The Marta from Shadow Hill story wraps up, and it can be summed up as "magic spells are contracts" and "discorporates are people too." It does kinda require that the not-Doctor-Strange character be kinda clueless in some important ways in order to let Marta shine, but that's not too implausible if the current holder of the role is still kind of new or had to figure out a lot of stuff on her own. Still verges on Idiot Plot, though, given that there's no real reason to expect Marta's solution would never have occurred to anyone else in the history of magic. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Hanna-Barbera Future Quest #5: DC - The main plot does advance a little, but then sidetracks for even more origin stories that update obscure old characters to fit into the new HB-verse. I'm pretty sure I never actually watched any episodes of the superpowered musicians who get an update this issue, and have only vague memories of reading about them in the Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes. Parker's got experience in dusting off old characters and breathing new life into them (Agents of Atlas, for instance), but I think he may be taking on too many things at once. More time should be spent on the main plot and a smaller core group of recognizable characters before expanding into the "who the heck is that?" stuff. At least Mightor gets brought into the main plot, so his origin rework helps the story rather than distracting from it. Oh, I'm sure everyone we've seen so far will eventually show up for the last battle, but way too many of them will just be seat-fillers. Unless some sort of licensing precluded it, this project would have worked better as a pair of comics: the main storyline and the revamped characters vital to it, and a second anthology series to fit in all the rest. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Hanna-Barbera Future Quest #6: DC - Okay, back to actually moving the story along, even if it's split between the main action and finishing the Impossibles backup (which get a cute link via some shared phone dialogue). Still kind of annoying that the story really should have gotten to this point by two issues ago. Mildly recommended, but better than #5. $3.99 Kaijumax Season 2 #5: Oni Press - The theme of the day is loss. Loss of parents, loss of children, loss of home. Because even if life goes on, pieces of it are always being lost along the way, regardless of which side of the law or which side of the prison bars you are on. Some of the storytelling gets a little confusing when Electrogor finally gets home and the view strobes between memories and the present, although I can understand why the "flashbacks in black and white" motif used in an earlier issue wouldn't have been appropriate here, as the past was a happier and more vibrant time and B&W or sepiatone would have run against that. Recommended. $3.99 Ragnarok #10: IDW - Simonson continues to wander slowly through this world he's built from pieces of myth and previous comics. But at least most issues have some sort of point to them, and this one is no exception. The point this time is that faith in the gods can persist even after the gods are dead, because what is faith but hope in the absence of proof? The delivery is probably not as emotionally or philosophically powerful as Simonson may have planned, but at least it was clear and unambiguous. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #47: IDW - Fortunately, the Mayor Rich arc is a 2-issue story rather than 4. It's pretty by-the-numbers, following the usual kiddie lit politics outline in which over-promising gets you the victory but then you can't deliver and end up begging the previous person to take the job back. It spent a little too much time on side issues like taxation (which shines a little too much light on the questionable economy of Equestria) before getting back to the collapsing building problem that got Filthy Rich elected, though. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friends Forever #33: IDW - Applejack returns to Cherry Jubilee's cherry ranch to help out a bit, and provides a bookend to the episode that introduced Cherry, with AJ now counseling someone on getting over excessive pride. I think Rice went a little too far in flipping Cherry from "decade-long grudge" to "all is 100% forgiven" as quickly as he did...not that the story needed to be a two-parter, but rather have the ending be more of a "I forgive you, but I still need time to get over it" thing. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Atomic Robo: the Temple of Od #2-3: IDW - The present-day plotline goes on hold again for a tale from the past. This time it's in 1939, where the Japanese have gotten their hands on research relateed to Edison's Odic Force and Robo has to team up with an old flame to stop them from doing something like destabilizing reality in the local galactic group. This is a fairly mature Robo, competent in many ways but not yet the world-weary polymath of the present-day stories, so there's still plenty of room for humor based on inexperience and ignorance (i.e. he doesn't speak Chinese, so negotiating with some Chinese bandits is amusinly tricky). Unlike Ring of Fire, the comics are consistently coming out after the material appears online, which is probably for the best. And he IS experienced enough at this point for several jokes to be of the, "AGAIN?" variety. Recommended. $3.99 Revolution #2-3: IDW - In comparing the Marvel movies to the DC movies, much is made of how Marvel spent several movies developing the individual characters before putting them into a team-up, letting the team-up movie focus on the Big Bad and not forcing it to also carry all the character development, where Dawn of Justice suffered badly from splitting its focus between the team-origin and the individuals because DC wanted to jump into Avengers-level money without spending time on as many solo projects. Revolution is basically Dawn of Justice, in that it's taking one or two established properties, then tossing in a bunch of new stuff and trying to do both Big Bad and character development at the same time. And it's working about as well. MASK is starting pretty much from ground zero in Revolution, Action Man, Rom, and Micronauts didn't even finish their first major arcs before jumping in, and while GIJoe is sort of established, IDW did very little nailing down of how they work in the combined world before tossing them into the blender too. And man, does it ever show here. It strains under the burden of developing four or five properties almost from scratch while also trying to provide a threat that couldn't have been dealt with in just one book. In this, it's like Future Quest, which also suffers from a split of focus, but it's much more sprawling and not the work of a single writer. Basically, I'd suggest waiting to see what actually survives out of this shared world, then go back and read this in trades if it seems necessary to understand the titles you end up buying in 2017 (or just wait for the next Humble IDW Bundle). $3.99 each. The Transformers Revolution One-Shot: IDW - Forget Transformers: Optimus Prime, Barber should be given a Transformers: Thundercracker regular series to write. Teamed up with the non-verbal Buster, Bob (Insecticon) and DOC, TC makes up for it by trying to write his own narration. This issue is mostly him and Marissa Faireborn dealing with a Dire Wraith infestation of the White House, and this makes for a great (if ultra-violent) buddy film story. Knowing the rest of the plot of Revolution isn't really necessary, what little is actually important gets brought up reasonably smoothly. Strongly recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "Actually, you know what? You picked the WRONG DAY to mess with me, buddy. I'm going to throw you into the Sun." "RASHGH - FOOL! IT WOULD TAKE THE HEAT OF A MILLION STARS TO BURN ME!" "Then I'll through you a MILLION TIMES -- get ready for a LONG WEEKEN- Huh? Oh, man. I just GOT this arm." - Thundercracker and Dire Wraith, Transformers Revolution One-Shot
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