November 17, 2011

Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and Awards

Intermittent 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, January will see my first journal publication with an UNK byline Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Atomic Robo: Ghost of Station X #2 and #3 (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. Batman: Year One DVD: DC/Warner Premiere - I got the single-disc version, as the extra content on the two-disc set was just a featurette and some DCAU episodes I already have on other sets. The main extra on the single disc is a Catwoman short. It's pretty well animated, but did they have to throw in a scene of Catwoman poledancing? Sure, the sex industry is part of the current Catwoman's background, but really. If nothing else, bad timing given all the criticism about NuDC turning so many female characters into fetish parodies. One of the problems of adaptation TO comics is that there's rarely enough pagecount to do the story really need at least a page per minute, if not two. Oddly, I think this 104 minute movie that adapts four issues of the comic may have needed an even "less favorable" ratio to work. Miller really crammed a lot of story into those four issues, and in the movie it feels like none of them is getting quite enough time. Most notably, it suffers from having three main characters: Jim Gordon, Batman and (to a lesser extent) Catwoman. Is this Jim's story? Is it Bruce's? Selina is obviously a subplot, but it would have made a stronger movie if it were clearer whether Bruce or Jim were the main character. And Jim's the obvious choice, because while it's the year Bruce became Batman, the real dramatic line is all on Jim Gordon. Bruce's own story is too weak to stand up against it, but gets a lot of screen time anyway. As a side issue, at a time when DC is trying so very hard to clean up their continuity, this story reminds us that Batman can't really do without a 20+ year backstory unless you're willing to jettison a lot of elements. Want Barbara Gordon as Batgirl? She's not even conceived yet during the Year One story. They even acknowledge the deep time aspect of this when Bruce leaps over the sign of a "VHS and Beta Rental" store (although did anyone really name stores like that back in the 80s and 90s? All the places around me just proclaimed movie rental in general). Still, a good story and a pretty good adaptation, it just shows its age in a lot of ways. Recommended. 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. Atomic Robo: the Ghost of Station X #2 (of 5): Red5 Comics - Yes, I've been staying a month behind to save a buck. :) It's mostly a protest against Diamond-caused pricing stucture, though, as I can certainly afford the extra dollar and the comic is worth it. The two main plot threads in this series haven't quite come together yet, but by the end of the issue it's becoming clearer how they MIGHT be. A few important questions about Robo are also answered, including the obvious "can he survive orbital re-entry?" The story is interesting, and the scripting is at Clevinger's usual high level. Strongly recommended. $1.99 at ComiXology. Atomic Robo: the Ghost of Station X #3 (of 5): Red5 Comics - To my delight (if mild suspicion), the new issue showed up at $1.99 instead of $2.99, so I read the issues only a day apart rather than a month. :) While it's not spelled out explicitly yet, there's enough clues to strongly suggest the culprit behind both the vanishing house and the plot against Robo. Meanwhile, there is a lot of shooting and exploding and Action Geekery. Even on a little iPod it's a fun read. Strongly recommended. $1.99 at ComiXology. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Nothing this time around. Floppies: If I actually pick up some monthly issues, they'll go here. Given my reluctance to put money in Diamond's hands, though, these would likely only be review copies or stuff found in oddball places. And 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. Young Justice #7-9: DC - Well, some friends who didn't drop this book recently assured me it had gotten better, and when I found that Hastings had all of the issues I hadn't bought, I grabbed the three by the new writing team of Weisman and Hopps. My guess is that since I recognize Weisman and I don't recognize Hopps, that Weisman provides the plot and some scripting, but Hopps does most of the actual writing. Christopher Jones does a good job of capturing the cartoon's look without making it look like a cel book. The story in #7-8 is more background on Artemis, providing the other side of the story for the Amazo episode. It gets a bit too coy, though, refusing to show the face of Artemis's's not like the art style would let us figure out anything about his identity from seeing the face, after all. A very good adjunct to the cartoon. #9 starts a new story in which Captain Atom uses the team to clear his name. Or, rather, to clear Nathanial Adam's name. He doesn't exactly tell the kids the full story. Most of the elements are the same as in the 1986-7 stories, adapted to make them a little more kid-friendly (as much as murder can be, anyway). I'm definitely interested enough to pick up #10 in some format, either digital or physical. Recommended $2.99 an issue. Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #18: Marvel - As long as I was buying the YJ issues, I picked this up as well. Van Lente-written Iron Man story in a timeline of uncertain origin (Pepper doesn't know Tony is Iron Man, Rhodey isn't War Machine yet, it's the first time Iron Man has faced Mandarin, etc). Despite the Avengers EMH-style cover art, the story inside doesn't seem to be related to that cartoon. It's a decent enough done-in-one story, although the plot device can be seen coming from high orbit, and Mandarin is pretty one-dimensional. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Dave Van Domelen, "Angering powerful people in charge of shadowy organizations is pretty much my HOBBY." - Robo Tesla, Atomic Robo: the Ghost of Station X #3 (of 5)
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