November 11, 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, Well, at least some of my TAs can get the H1N1 vaccine tomorrow. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None "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. None this week. 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. Assault on New Olympus Prologue One-Shot: Marvel - "Prologue" isn't on the cover anywhere, but it's in the indicia. And prologue is what it is, mainly. All the players get set into place, either accounted for on one of the sides or established as neutral, and some of the basics of both the immediate threat (Hera) and the long-term threat (Mikaboshi) are laid out. And then there's a big fight scene between Hercules and Spider-Man because Peter Parker had been set up on a blind date with Hebe by Aunt May (and trust me, this actually made sense and was built up to over several issues of Hercules). As a backup, the Agents of Atlas Venus vs. Aphrodite storyline picks up from X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas, as the AoA fight, um, Cthulhu. Well, okay, it's Phorcys, the creator of the Sirens, but he's drawn as Cthulhu. In my experience, superheroes vs. Cthulhu tends to end in dismemberment and devourings (I am an evil gamemaster). 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. Transformers Continuum: The Definitive Chronology: IDW - In theory, this is filling the role of the various "Saga" freebies Marvel has been putting out ahead of major events and launches, getting people up to speed for the upcoming ongoing TF comic. The tone, barring a few weaselly "that has faded into legend" bits at the start that are likely there to allow for later retcons, it pretty much hits the Saga tone and level of detail exactly. Like, as if writer Andy Schmidt had the last several Marvel event Sagas open in front of him as he wrote this. As far as being a definitive chronology, though, not so much. There's a recommended chronological reading order of the IDW books in the back, but it uses the "lost records" weaselling to avoid nailing anything down definitively. Now, taken purely as what it seems to have set out to be, it's okay. But anyone expecting something with hard data or new information will be disappointed. There are no revelations or even clarifications, merely summaries and a few obfuscations. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Jersey Gods #9: Image - Eh. The more the story focuses on Neboron, the less interested I am. Sure, Zoe's along to provide some contrast and all that, but we're drifting back into "weak New Gods homage" territory more and more. Mildly recommended. $3.50 R.E.B.E.L.S. #10: DC - Blackest Night banner. Being trapped in a forcefielded sector of space doesn't make one exempt from crossovers! Okay, maybe not exactly trapped when you have enough stuff trying to get in and out. A lot of this issue is dismantling the ongoing plot and bringing in the crossover, while repeatedly pointing out how insane it all is (not quite invoking DRHenry's Law, though). The Final Page Reveal has Bedard setting himself a rather tall task,'s the sort of opening move that is very hard to back up without being a poison pill for an entire setting, which means massive cop-out in the end since Bedard's not allowed to make the DCU unwriteable. Well, more unwriteable. :) Provisionally recommended. $3.99 Booster Gold #26: DC - Blackest Night banner. No backup story this time, but Reyes shows up in the main story. One annoying thing about this and REBELS is that there's an obligatory "here's the deal" scene where characters get everything about the Black Lanterns explained to them...but the READERS don't. If there weren't also an obligatory "life story flashback downloaded either from ring into corpse or corpse into ring it's not really clear" scene in each issue, readers who don't follow the main Blackest Night book would get diddly-squat. Unfortunately, while Booster's little side trip through time was pretty good, Jurgens really doesn't do anything interesting with the premise. Zombie Ted shows up, kicks butt, Booster's jaw drops, end of issue. At least in REBELS there was an interesting side element tossed into the mix. Mildly recommended. $3.99 SWORD #1: Marvel - Okay, I hadn't originally planned on getting this, but news that Death's Head 1 would be showing up piqued my interest. I've only seen artist Steven Sanders's work once before, on Five Fists of Science, but he's adopted a significantly different style here, reminiscent of Bernie Wrightson (especially in how he draws Gyrich). Writer Gillen I don't know from Adam, but a quick Googling reveals he's done work for Warhammer Monthly, and after reading this comic I am utterly not surprised. At least Marvel's alien race situation is more amenable to a 40K outlook than the LSH is, but on the other hand consider what Abnett & Lanning did to Death's Head. Ah well. On the plus side, Gillen definitely has a handle on Henry Peter Gyrich, the man who's doing what he (correctly) knows is right and doesn't really mind stomping on people along the way. Sanders doesn't quite have Death's Head down, by the way, and I'm not sure if he's portraying "pre- Doctor Who" DH or just having trouble with perspective in the last page of the main story. The backup story plays damage control with the infamously dumb (as in, I avoid most X-books and even I knew about it) "cosmic bullet" thing that was used to remove Kitty Pryde from the playing field. All in all, a decent start. Recommended. $3.99 Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #17: Marvel - Featuring Thor, Iron Man and Captain America. Plus Invisible Woman and Vision, who don't get cover credit. The story feels off, and it seems like it's supposed to be pre-Avengers since Iron Man is reluctant to refer to himself, Cap and Thor as a team. But Tobin wrote this and writes MA Avengers, so it's not like the trio isn't a team. A footnote to the effect of "this takes place before the founding of the Avengers" would have been nice, since the more I go over this the more it seems like it's supposed to be pre-Avengers. But it's also very much present is this not in the same setting as the other Marvel Adventures books, or even previous issues of this title? There can be such a thing as too much stand-alone. Ig Guara seems to be giving somewhat loose pencils directly to SotoColors with no inker in between, and I don't much care for the result. Mildly recommended. $2.99 The Amazing Spider-Man #611: Marvel - Spidey and Deadpool have both teamed up with Herc recently, now it's time to complete the triangle in this Joe Kelly tale. Well, okay, less "teaming up" and more "fighting" in two legs of the triangle, but hey. I don't like Ganette's art, but Kelly's story does a good job of being a (relatively) light-hearted interlude before the (apparently really NOT light-hearted) Gauntlet storyline gets started. Recommended despite the art. $2.99 Comic Book Comics #4: Evil Twin Comics - What Van Lente does when he's not writing half of Marvel's non-mutant books. :) Oddly, the original UPC was covered up by a sticker with a new UPC (the last four digits changed). The cover is an homage to Fantastic Four #1, with Stan Lee as the monster, Jack Kirby as the Thing, Steve Ditko/Spider-Man as the Invisible Girl, Herge/Tintin as Human Torch and R. Crumb in Mr. Fantastic's cover position but not his pose. The opening six pages chronicle the rise and fall of Crime Does Not Pay, but then it's into the Marvel stuff, and a crossover with Action Philosophers! (Page 17, panel 1, is taken from AP!'s Ayn Rand story, the slight differences in Dunleavy's style between now and then are pretty noticeable.) The Marvel segment focuses mainly on Lee/Ditko/Kirby, so naturally wraps up after both Ditko and Kirby had left Marvel by 1970. Meanwhile, in Independent Comics.... The last piece backs up to cover the European comics market's history, pretty much all of it in a few pages. Recommended. $3.99 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 11/11/09: 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, Official Marvel Index #11. Add Farscape D'Argo's Trial #4, because Diamond hates BOOM! Studios, and I had to get Spider-Man #611 and Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes #17 at Hastings because Diamond hates my store. Awards: "No, It's Too Perilous" Award to Assault on New Olympus Prologue One-Shot "Legend Recounts That I May Have Had Bacon For Breakfast, But Sadly All Records Have Been Lost" Award to Transformers Continuum "No Glove, No Love...Wait, Even Less Love With The Glove" Award to Jersey Gods #9 "Yeah, Like THAT'S Not Gonna Backfire On Starro" Award to REBELS #10 "Funeral Rongs" Award to Booster Gold #26 "Lockheed Is Not Allowed To Say 'Frottage'" Award to SWORD #1 "I Suppose The Giant Neon 'IT BEGINS NOW' On The Cover Could Be Considered An Editor's Note Too" Award to Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #17 "Waiting For The Team-Up With Guy-With-A-Gun Girl" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #611 "Crime Does Not Pay, Unless Ther Crime Is Ripping Off Other Publishers" Award to Comic Book Comics #4 Dave Van Domelen, "So that's Venus' old boss? At least the ancient freak speaks perfect English." "It speaks 'god.' Everyone can understand it." - Ken Hale and Namora, Assault on New Olympus Prologue
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