November 3, 2010

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, Diamond missed several and it's STILL a heavy week, whoogh. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Serenity the Shepherd's Tale "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. Machete B'Wana Beast: Mattel - I've largely avoided the Brave and the Bold toys because they insist on sticking with the big hexagonal peg and hole system ("Snap Attack") that makes pretty much every figure look like they were mugged by someone with a giant allen wrench. On the more techy characters it almost works, but on a guy in a loincloth and a mask? Not too attractice. Still, it's not like we're drowning in B'Wana Beast action figures, and he did have a pretty good turn in the Starro story. Other than the allen wrench wounds, it's an accurate representation of the cartoon's version, including the one fang sticking out. Standard articulation for the line (neck, waist, swivel shoulders, hinge elbows, H-hips, no knees). Despite the "Machete" in his name, he comes with a spear-like weapon that secures nicely to his back using the peg there. At least they didn't try to give him a horribly inappropriate accessory just to pad out the package. On the more disturbing side, his chest is molded smooth but his nipples are drawn on as brown open ovals like sideways O's (i.e. not filled in). That may be show-accurate, but it's still weird. $6.97 at Walmart. Iron Man 2 Comic Series Silver Centurion (#34): Hasbro - This is actually a pretty good representation of the armor that debuted in Iron Man #200, if a little hurt by the "waist at the sternum" style of articulation the whole line uses. However, I had to go through five of them to find one that was free of obvious defects. Most had paint errors on the unibeam, and one was missing a shoulderpad. Interestingly, the back has the docking port for the old 6" Silver Centurion's rocket booster, shrunk down (I happen to have that one hanging from a lamp playing a guitar, because Iron Man is F'in Metal). Scanned and shrank, or maybe that older mold was done in computer in the first place. Worth picking up. $5 on sale at Walmart. Iron Man 2 Comic Series Arctic Armor (#33): Hasbro - This one looks to be a Mark IV armor with a head swap and done in purple and silver, maybe a few other minor changes. The head looks good and I like the way the purple works, so I bought it. Unfortunately, it's not a very good mold, especially next to the Silver Centurion. The hips are a much earlier version and don't work so well, the shoulderpads pop off (I've already lost one!), and there's loads of frozen joints. At least one of those joints on mine was totally floppy once I broke the paint lock. Pass on this one unless you just buy 'em to leave in the package. $5 on sale at Walmart. Also in the assortment with the above two Iron Man figures was "Advanced Armor," which is the Heroes Reborn suit with the smokestacks. I passed on it. Still trying to find the single-pack drones. Time-Shifting: Sometimes I get a comic a week or two late because of Diamond's combination of neglect and incompetence. If it's more than a week late, though, I won't review it unless it's very notable. Additionally, I will often get tradepaperbacks long after publication or even sometimes before Diamond ships them, and those will go here. If I'm reasonably sure I'm reviewing something that didn't ship this week, this is the section for it. Transformers Sector 7 #2 (of 5): IDW - Skip ahead to 1913, about a decade before the term "robot" came to be applied to mechanical men. This is an important point. :) It's another short snapshot (not exactly a Day In The Life, but close), of the day the AllSpark was first excavated and its powers revealed. A failing marriage is actually the main plot of the issue, wrapped around the inevitable fight scene. It's like Barber can't quite decide what comic to write, though, as neither the relationship story nor the cosmic plot get quite enough time to blossom. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #646: Marvel - The running chase wraps up as the last few villains come together in the endgame. The villains on the cover don't really enter into it, though. It's a good demonstration of why Spider-Man manages to survive despite his large rogue's gallery...not only are they difficult for even a genius like Doc Ock to wrangle, Spidey's pretty good at setting them against each other. Recommended. $2.99 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. Young Allies #6: Marvel - FINAL ISSUE. Oops. And they hadn't even actually become a team as of #5. The farewell message at the end makes it clear that a team was never the intent, but I don't think that message got through in the actual stories...which might have been part of why it never took off. Of course, "non-team" team books have always had trouble, especially when they lack Big Names (i.e. the Defenders once the original quartet was gone). This issue mostly focuses on Firestar, using her own conflicted life as a way to at least emotionally wrap up the title, even if dramatically it sort of fizzled out. Recommended. $2.99 Taskmaster #3 (of 4): Marvel - One of the intrinsic problems with Mysterious Origins is that once you start messing with false/missing memories and deep cover stories, it's hard to stop. Just look at Wolverine. Taskmaster's original origin, at least, was perfectly acceptable, if a little dull. Now, though, he's been dropped down the Logan rabbithole, with Nick Fury of all people explaining his True Secret Origin...never a hallmark of trustworthy backstories. Still, it makes for an interesting bit of grist for future stories, until such time as the next writer decides to re-retcon it. And even if this origin is fake, some of the emotional entanglements could easily have transcended their cover story basis. Recommended. $3.99 Chaos War #3 (of 4): Marvel - #1 was reprinted this week, and Diamond didn't send the reprint to my store either. This is the inevitable, "Well, that didn't go as planned" part of the cosmic thingy, in which the best efforts of the good guys come to naught or worse than naught. And then pause for a bazillion tie-in one-shots. :) Mildly recommended. $3.99 Amazing Spider-Man #647: Marvel - Another collage of villains not appearing in this issue. Kinda a bland cover for what's the final issue of the Thrice Monthly "Brand New Day" uberarc. Pretty much every one of the writers gets involved as they bookend the hundred issues, with a few callbacks (Overdrive, Jackpot, that one girl who was trying to get to Harry through Peter) and some long-term payoffs. It's not all endings, though, with Bob Gale contributing a story of Mayor Jameson's latest attempt to abuse his power to torment Spider-Man, or Guggenheim's Flash Thompson story. Still, the bookend-y feeling is intentional and hammered home pretty strongly. All told, I've found it a worthwhile hundred or so issues, even if it did come out of the ashes of one of the stupidest ideas to come out of Marvel in a long time. Recommended. $4.99 Avengers Academy #6: Marvel - Reptil spotlight. And dude, Hank Pym uses Technic gears in his lab. There's only a few hints at the origins of Reptil's powers, but they're verrrry interesting hints. And Finesse continues to be the prime threat the team faces, even if her path doesn't end up in villainy directly. Also, ill-advised matchmaking fun. Heh. Recommended. $2.99 Hawkeye & Mockingbird #6: Marvel - FINAL ISSUE. Story claims to be continued in Widowmaker, but more likely it'll just be concluded. The main theme of this issue is "I love you, but we're totally wrong for each other," although a number of other threads (such as Dominic Fortune's) get tugged here too. Hawkeye and Mockingbird are both exceedingly competent people, each a hero in their own way, and deeply in love...but being together forces one or the other to compromise too much. That nagging voice that says they're Doing It Wrong in order to keep the other happy. As pointed out over in Avengers Academy, Hawkeye deep down is a Big Damn Hero who only ever went the villain route to get attention. While Bobbi is a spook, a person willing to become a monster in order to stop the bigger monsters, a hero only incidentally. Neither can be totally true to themselves while trying to let the other do the same, making them star-crossed lovers in the deepest sense. Recommended $2.99 Iron Man Legacy #8: Marvel - To me, "Tony Stark is trapped in that equipment shed" translates to "run away very fast," but some villains never learn. But beyond blowing stuff up real good, this story continues to show what Tony Stark is at his core. Like Mockingbird, he's more a hero as a side effect of his true nature. And what Tony Stark is, is someone who fixes problems. Whether that means hitting the problem repeatedly until it lies down, or inventing an inexpensive gadget that can help people like the homeless man he befriended in #6 while also reinvigorating the entire neighborhood via manufacturing it, Tony Stark finds things that need fixing and invents something to fix them. Even if he has trouble fixing himself along the way. Recommended. $2.99 Adventure Comics #520: DC - I've never read the original stories that led up to the death of Lightning Lad, but I imagine that the "fleshing out" pieces in Adventure recently outweigh the original story by a factor of two or three in terms of pagecount, even considering that the main action is left almost entirely off-screen (with JUST enough flashbacks to make it comprehensible to hypothetical-if-unproven "new readers"). And, of course, we get to see more of Brainy being schemey. The Arom backup is finally a bit more interesting, although it does so by playing Ray Palmer as more like Chris Yost's version of Hank Pym. :) Recommended. $3.99 Secret Six #27: DC - More skullduggery in Washington and skull-diggery in Skartaris. Ragdoll and King Shark make for the darkest comedy team EVER. And Bane gets to ride a dinosaur while wearing Frazetta stuff, so even if the plot's a bit thin in places, it's worthwhile. If, um, you're okay with images of eyeballs being pulled out and stuff like that. Recommended with the gore caveat. $2.99 Invincible #75: Image - Oversized Big Damned Space Battles issue! 54 pages of story (36 in the main story, then two backups), although there's a lot of two-page splashes in there. Oh, and it's not even over yet, although there's plenty of Big Screen Boom. Even the backups have a lot of boom, although it's hard to top the opening act. Recommended. $5.99 PS238 #47: Do Gooder Press - Nobody's home. Well, okay, a few are still on the right planet, but most of the plot takes place either in deep space or in an alternate reality. More of the background stuff revealed in the RPG is coming out in story form, regarding both Zodon and the Praetorian Academy (but not both at the same time). Recommended. $2.99 Serenity the Shepherd's Tale: Dark Horse - So. 52 pages, hardcover for fifteen bucks. And it ended up allocated by Diamond anyway. Dark Horse knows they've got their target audience by the short'n'squirrleys here. Promises of the last big mystery of Firefly being answered drove sales to the point I'm honestly worried before opening it that it's a disappointment, they KNEW it would be a disappointment, and wanted to grab all the profit they could (seriously, the producer cost on a hardcover isn't a LOT more than on a good squarebound softcover) before word got out. Normally, I put books very roughly in the order of expected ascending enjoyment, but I decided to put this one last so I'd go into it with as positive a frame of mind as possible, to avoid being prejudiced by the ominous elements of the physical package. Of course, if you happened to glance at the "Books of Note" at the top, you'll already know that my worries were not borne out (I should also cop to writing the sentences before this one before I read the book, so I wasn't just being melodramatic for effect...I was honestly worried). The story is told backwards, as Book flashes back to important moments in his life, both big and small. Along the way, we get part of the history of the rebellion, since as many fans suspected, Book was in it up to his ears in a number of interesting ways. Good storytelling in general, so Recommended even if you're not a Firefly fan (although it's a bit pricey for a non-fan) and Strongly Recommended if you are. $14.99 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 11/3/10: Invincible #72, Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #3, Transformers Ironhide #4, Gorilla Man #2, Atlas #4, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update #3 (which I probably won't bother reviewing if it ever comes in), Guarding the Globe #1-2, Dynamo5 Sins of the Father #3, Science Dog #1, Women of Gold Digger #1 and Gold Digger Books of Magic #2, Chaos War #1, Taskmaster #2, Transformers Drift #4. Add Tron Movie Adaptation #1, Official Index to the Marvel Universe v2 #7, Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #6 (if this doesn't come in next week, I'm cancelling my orders for it and #3). Awards: "Scary Nipple Man" Award to Machete B'Wana Beast "Iron Man Is F'in Plastic?" Award to Iron Man 2 action figures "Hoover? I 'Ardly KNOW 'Er!" Award to Transformers Sector 7 #2 (of 5) "Post-Partum Obsession" Award to the Amazing Spider-Man #646 "That'sh PSYCHIC, Kei Dear" Award to Young Allies #6 "Actually, At One Point His Official Rank Was Equivalent To A One-Star General" Award to Taskmaster #3 (of 4) "Galactus Called Dibs On Who Lives And Who Dies" Award to Chaos War #3 (of 4) "I Wonder If Mary Jane Suggested Carlie's Costume?" Award to the Amazing Spider-Man #647 "No, No, He Literally Wants To Eat Her" Award to Secret Six #27 "In Space, No One Can Hear You...EWWWWW!" Award to Invincible #75 "For the Smoot-Hawley Tariff!" Award to PS238 #47 "And In Every Age, Scary Hair" Award to Serenity the Shepherd's Tale Dave Van Domelen, (Ragdoll pulls out King Shark's eyeball and points it at himself) "Can you SEE me in there?" "No, I CAN'T you freak! How'm I gonna watch Avatar now?" - Ragdoll and King Shark, Secret Six #27
Back to the Main Rants Page.

Gobble on over to the November 2010 Page.