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Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and AwardsIntermittent 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 Had a good Skype interview for a position last week, fingers crossed. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None. Kinda a blah month. In this installment: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1, Love & Capes: What To Expect #3 (of 6), Double Barrel #5, Transformers: ReGeneration One #83, Ultimate Spider-Man Infinite, Gold Digger v3 #142, Gold Digger Halloween Special #8, Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #7, Marvel Super-Heroes Magazine #4, Young Justice #21 "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. Batman: the Dark Knight Returns Part 1: DC Comics/WB - My normal rule of thumb is that one issue of a comic translates well into anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes of movie or cartoon, depending on how wordy it is and what sort of timing the story calls for. By that logic, the entire DKR miniseries should work as a single movie, but they decided to break it up into two parts instead, this one covering #1-2 of the miniseries. While Miller did have a lot of small-panel and talky sequences, they're also fleshing out a lot of vignettes and even adding some scenes. They don't try to update it, leaving it as an alternate late 80s/early 90s (Gordon's still a WWII veteran, for instance, and Carrie's parents are still ex-Hippies). The designs are definitely Miller's, but pulled closer to "standard comic book style" rather than fully stylized as in the DKR segment of the 90s Batman cartoon. Sometimes the Miller look is strong (as in the Mutants), other times it's dialed way back. Peter Weller does a pretty good world-weary Batman. Frank Welker uses his Fred Jones voice for Deputy Mayor Stevenson, although he only got one line in this part. Amusingly, Rob the Mutant was played by Rob Paulsen (Dee Bradley Baker played Don, though, they didn't get a Don to voice that one). Pretty light on the special features, really just sneak peeks of part 2 and Public Enemies. And trailers for other movies. All told, it holds together pretty well as an adaptation of a decades-old story. And other than Gordon's speech about WWII, it doesn't even feel like it has to have been placed anywhere in particular other than "the near future". Recommended. $14.99 or thereabouts most places. 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 iPod if it's at all possible. Love & Capes: What To Expect #3 (of 6): IDW - Darkblade has put it off for years, but it took relationship friction to get him to finally break down and get a sidekick to help cover things so he can spend time with Amazonia. ;) As with last issue, the cover is thematically correct, but not literally so...all of the sidekick candidates are trainees with the same group of mysterious monks that trained Darkblade, rather than random superhumans. This actually takes up less than half the issue, but it definitely dominates the feel of it for me. The sequence with the ultrasound for the baby is important, but not exactly gripping, and while there's more oomph to the talk Abby has with Mark's mom, again it doesn't stand out. Of course, part of this is because the Darkblade/Amazonia relationship not only gets the cover, it gets the Page 22 Splash. Well, it's actually on page 24, but I'm talking a trope here. Recommended. $3.99 Double Barrel #5: Top Shelf - Man, the Heck story just continues to pound home the message that the afterlife is a cruel and arbitrary thing. They could stand to get some sort of replacement god. In Crater XV, the plot thicks on all fronts, although the main macguffin (the mysterious space shot) is barely touched. On the one hand, some of the elements are starting to converge, but on the other it doesn't look like Crater XV itself can really tie into the main plot unless there's an unrevealed macguffin yet to come. "The Dead Living" is a profoundly creepy story where the skeeviness has nothing to do with the zombies that are the windowdressing. And the How To section covers tips on dealing with 24-hour Comic Day. Double Barrel is definitely positioning itself as being a zine for would-be comickers that happens to feature some stories to show that it can be done. :) Recommended. $1.99 Transformers: ReGeneration One #83: IDW - This issue is mostly about how Earth got so messed up, and why Spike is now a Circuit-Breaker-style cyborg instead of a binary bonded cyborg. Otherwise, there's a few pages in which Optimus recognizes he's been playing the fool, and some advancement of both Soundwave's and Bludgeon's sinister plots. It ends up feeling like defeating Megatron will just be the opening act, a way of tying a ribbon on the old storyline (and it practically screams "Optimus and Megatron kill each other" at this point), leaving Rodimus and Kup to deal with the far more complicated plots waiting in the wings. Mildly recommended. $1.99 Ultimate Spider-Man Infinite: Marvel - This is set in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon universe, not the Ultimate Spider-Man comic universe. This is a gimmick comic, and a freebie. The gimmick is that every panel is a full page at the iPad/iPod aspect, and it uses that to do some limited animation tricks. As in, a sequence of panels where the background stays the same and a character moves through it. Moderately clever, but hardly the groundbreaking thing they try to make it sound like. And the story is a pretty pedestrian "alien device tests humanity" thing. Worth picking up and playing with to see the gimmick, but not something to pay for. Free at ComiXology. Looks like no Atomic Robo #4 this month. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. None this time. Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? And like floppy disks they may be a doomed format. Gearhearts Steampunk Glamor Revue #4: Antarctic Press - AP decided to give away copies of some of their titles to the first few to reply on particular facebook posts, which is how I got this issue. It's a mix of glamor photography of models wearing steampunk fashion (along with interviews), some short fiction and steampunk artwork. Mainly cheesecake of a totally safe-for-work variety, although #5 will apparently give equal time to beefcake. Not really something I'd buy, regardless of the gender of the models. $3.99 Gold Digger v3 #142: Antarctic Press - I did pay money for this, though. :) The opening battle of the war wraps up, with some important character development for several secondary or even tertiary characters, although the primaries are mostly just fightin' stuff. Pretty impressive fightin' of stuff, mind you. Recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger Halloween Special #8: Antarctic Press - Perry's lead story is an office Halloween party at the secret superheroes agency, but it mostly focuses on some in-vino-veritas examination of the ongoing romantic tension between Xane and Crush. Could have stood some screentones or something, though, Perry's thin line work is a bit hard to follow even when he fills in all the details, and without any color it can be hard to tell some of the giant muscley women apart. Espinosa contributes a trio of pinups that are a progression in time for Gina and Brit's trick or treating days. David Hutchison doesn't spare the screentones in a four page piece that shows the perils of ToT when your mom is a perfectionist cosplayer. Ben Dunn's four-pager kinda meanders and really only needed one page to pull off its gag, while Mike Rosen's four-pager didn't need any pages. The rest of the book is pinups of moderate quality. I'm not going to call it the worst of the Halloween Specials, but it's definitely not one of the better ones. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #7: Marvel - The lead story brings the Micron(aut)s into the AvEMH universe, as fall-out from (IIRC) the To Steal An Ant-Man episode. Basically, Psycho-Man was sick of Pym dropping crap into the Microverse, so launched an invasion. We come into the story after the tiny invaders have Gulliver'ed "Cap", Iron Man and Wasp (it's set during the alternative costume period for Captain America, that we now know was the Skrull replacement). Wasp gets help from all the Microns that Marvel still has the rights to, but finally saves the day by turning the "ditz" switch to the off setting, if only temporarily. A decent effort from Yost. Elliot Kalan writes the second story, in which a flu-ridden Iron Man has trouble dealing with the Unicorn. And sneezes in his helmet. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Marvel Super Heroes Magazine #4: Marvel - The story in this issue is by Paul Tobin, and has Hawkeye and Tony Stark versus a rogue suit of Iron Man armor. The various profiles are mostly Iron Man foes, although Doctor Doom grabs some of the spotlight. Doom is due the respect, after all, for is he not Stark's superior in every way? Pah. The Where's Waldo-ish page this time is based on the Armor Wars arc, and has some pretty obscure armored and mechanical characters in it, including a pre-Minion Death's Head, and Master Menace from the Squadron Supreme universe. Mildly recommended. Young Justice #21: DC - The Brainiac plot splits into several directions, and contrary to my expectations the two plot threads started last issue (Beetle's recruiting and protecting Harjavti) aren't abandoned, although they do get demoted in terms of pagecont. It says something about how forgettable the new villain was in his original appearance (back in 1990) that I did read that story but didn't remember it at all, and had to look up the guy's name. Although the easily-defeated plot device that held the heroes captive did seem familiar. Recommended. $2.99 Dave Van Domelen, "And do not trust the Wonder Girl. She triggers BIO-CHEMICAL CHANGES to your system." - Blue Beetle's scarab, not quite getting "teenaged hormones" yet, Young Justice #21
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