November 19, 2008

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.
Edy's Eggnog ice cream...awesome or ick?  Rants, Capsules can be found on my 

(Later note: the eggnog ice cream is okay.)

"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.

     Nothing this week.  The only DVD I got was Wall*E.  I just got the
latest Akiko novel in the mail (as in, in the middle of reading comics), but
I want to take the time to read it properly, so I'll cover it next week.

Comics Capsules:
     Short, relatively spoiler-free reviews of books I actually bring home
(as opposed to reading in preview form in the shop or online).  If I get a
book late due to distributor foulups or whatever, I'll put it in the Missing

     Books of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Atomic Robo
Dogs of War #4 (of 5)

     Transformers: Saga of the AllSpark #4: IDW - Finally found this in the
discount bin at Hastings, a regional media chain store.  And I'm glad I
didn't go to any significant effort to pick this up.  The two stories here
are set after the main action of the movie.  "Starscream's Militia" (yes, a
callback to G1 episode "Starscream's Brigade") takes place right after
Megatron's defeat, with Starscream using the sparks of Dispensor and other
AllSpark-created life to reanimate the fallen Decepticons as "zombies" under
his control, and features truly hideous art by "Boo".  The story doesn't
exactly make up for the art.  "Scorpion Sting" wraps up the loose end of
Scorponok out in the desert (and is therefore probably going to be
contradicted by the next movie), okay story and art.  Very mildly
recommended.  $3.99 (although I paid $2.00)
     Transformers Spotlight 3-D Edition: IDW - This is Transformers Spotlight
#9 (Optimus Prime) redone in color 3-D (where they filter out the red and
green and warp them around to create the illusion of depth when wearing
red/green glasses).  The idea's been around for a while...for instance,
normalman Annual used it back in the 1980s.  And for those who've been
reading since then, yes they got Ray Zone to do the 3-D process here.  The
main problems with color 3-D are saturation (which is fixed by modern
printing processes) and the fact you need to read under REALLY strong light
or it's murkier than a Dreamwave book (not fixed).  Under the right light,
it's a bit neon (in the "my eyes are bleeding!" sense), but the effects work
well.  As they should, considering that Ray Zone has been at this for
decades.  The issue itself got a rating of Mildly Recommended (see for more details),
and this is like a really nifty redeco of a mediocre toy.  Worth it as a
novelty, I suppose, but otherwise neutral.  $5.99.
     Monsterpocalypse #2 (of 3): Desperado - Desperado apparently has no pull
with their printers, resulting in perpetually delayed books.  That said, it
could have used a little more delay for another editing pass (stuff like
"simple mined" or a font where you can't tell A from R or D from O without a
magnifying glass should have been caught).  Since #1 came out, I've spent,
um, way too much on the Monsterpocalypse game and become an official "Press
Ganger" tournament organizer.  So you might say I'm predisposed to want to
like this book.  Fortunately, editing issues aside, it's a definite step up
from #1.  Some character background, a bit of "Hey, piloting a giant robot is
cool" that is often overlooked, and then a fight scene with Armodax and a
Zor.  Not sure which one, all them Zors look alike to me.  ;)  Recommended.
     The Brave and the Bold #19: DC - I'm on the verge of dropping this book,
but it looks like it's cancelled soon anyway, so I might as well see if the
final issues are any good.  David Hine and Doug Braithwaite bring us a story
of Hal Jordan and the Phantom Stranger.  The opening reads like Hine wanted
an excuse to show off how many medical conditions he could name, and then it
morphed into "Lotus-eaters in Space" looks like it might go somewhere
interesting, but it's kinda meh so far.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn
     Ambush Bug Year None #4 (of 6): DC - Pretty incoherent even by the
standards of this title, especially the opening scene with Didio.  This issue
mainly lambastes 52 and the "Guignol Age of Comics" that Didio's ushered in.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), I don't read enough DC to get some of the
gags, which veer into the extremely obscure, but I did like Batman's Secret
Space Prison for Embarrassments From His Past.  Coulda done without the Saw
scene, though.  No, it wasn't gross, just repetitive.  Mildly recommended.
$2.99 US/Cn
     Marvel Adventures Avengers #30: Marvel - Paul Tobin on writing, Matteo
Lolli on art, and a rather 70s-feeling cover by "Nolan" (although Arreola's
modern-style coloring misses the message).  A very good introductory issue,
both for the main cast and the new character Tobin brings in.  Recommended.
$2.99 (looks like they simply decided to stop printing Canadian prices)
     Avengers/Invaders #6 (of 12): Marvel/Dynamite - A somewhat conflicted
issue, whipping back and forth between the fairly quiet and subdued scenes
with the New Avengers and the Robot Revolution on the Helicarrier.
Individually they're good, together it loses something.  Mildly recommended.
     X-Factor #37: Marvel - Kinda weird seeing new artist DeLandro work with
characters that Stroman designed, trying to turn his stylistic quirks into a
more "standard" form.  PAD continues to blog on the Previously page (heck,
there's stuff here he didn't put on his actual blog).  Anyway, this is very
much a middle issue in terms of both of the running plots, ending with two
Big Shockers (and for the record, the Teresa shocker isn't the first time
that's been shown happening on-camera in an X-book).  Recommended.  $2.99
     Amazing Spider-Man #578: Marvel - Waid picks up the pen (keyboard,
really) this week, with art by Marcos Martin.  Generally a good story,
although the final page shocker is a touch implausible given the way voir
dire works in high profile trials.  I think it also may constitute a bit of a
retcon.  Amyway, those quibbles aside, a good issue.  Recommended.  $2.99
     Invincible #55: Image - Totally random thought...if Mark got a female
Viltrumite sidekick, would she be Invincibelle?  This issue is bookended by
surprisingly non-destructive "action", and otherwise a deliberately
narration-heavy Allen the Alien story fills the main part of the book.
There's a touch of the book's signature gore, those who are squeamish about
exploding brainmeats may want to skip over the second page after the
staples.  :)  The backup feature is a short New Jersey Gods story, promoting
an upcoming comic.  High concept: Giffen-style Kirby gods in southern New
Jersey.  The focus character has married a human and is trying to settle
down, but friends, relatives and enemies keep stopping by.  I may have to
give #1 a look.  Recommended.  $2.99
     Dynamo5 #18: Image - Guest Artist Marcio Takara does most of the pages,
and the story takes place mostly concurrently with #17's mind-dive.  The
Final Page Shocker is interesting in that there's at LEAST two ways this
could go, if not four, without being a total cheat.  :)  I mean, just
thinking about the powers of two of the characters running around offers a
couple of ways out (although it's certainly an...interesting move for one of
those characters if it's them).  The backup is Dodge's Bullets, a detective
adventure story in (as far as I can tell) a "real" world rather than a
superheroic one.  Written by Faerber, drawn by Joe Eisma (who has a nice,
clear style and knows how to draw a 'Cuda).  Recommended.  $3.50
     Gold Digger Peebo Tales #4: Antarctic Press - (Still no Gold Digger #100
or OHOTGDU #21.)  Okay, I will grant you that the "wacky time machine
infinite loop duplicates" plot has been done before (see, for instance, the
Brak Show), but rarely with such an elegant resolution.  :)  Recommended.
$3.50 US/Cn
     Atomic Robo Dogs of War #4 (of 5): Red5 Comics - If Robo were human, I'd
suggest he and Sparrow just cut to the chase and get a room.  :)  I continue
to love how this section of the series works...romantic comedy banter mixed
in with Nazi cyborgs, mecha and general super-science involving "brain in a
jar" types.  The backup is a short piece from 1950 involving what looks kinda
like a North Korean Evangelion.  Strongly recommended.  $2.95
     Twisted Toyfare Theater vol 9: Wizard Entertainment - More of the same,
really.  There's a certain amount of overlap with Robot Chicken, but that's
inevitable by now.  If you like crude humor involving action figures, you'll
like this.  $12.99 US/Cn

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 11/19: Gold Digger #100 and Official Handbook of the
Gold Digger Universe #21.  Add Love & Capes TPB.


"Blackout Ate My Quarter!" Award to Transformers Saga of the AllSpark #4

"No, Not That Kind Of Zone" Award to Transformers Spotlight 3-D Edition

"I Hate You, You Hate Me" Award to Monsterpocalypse #2 (of 3)

"Does Circe Show Up Next Issue?" Award to The Brave and the Bold #19

"It Doesn't Make Much More Sense When You're Sober, Renee" Award to Ambush
     Bug Year None #4 (of 6)

"The Gelato Isn't Evil, It's Just Bad For You" Award to Marvel Adventures
     Avengers #30

"Maybe If Readers All Wish Really Hard..." Award to Avengers/Invaders #6 
     (of 12)

"I'm Surprised This Doesn't Happen To M More Often" Award to X-Factor #37

"At Least The Artist Resisted The Obvious Temptation" Award to the Amazing
     Spider-Man #578

"Make Love, Not War" Award to Invincible #55

"Has No One In This Book Heard Of Sports Bras?" Award to Dynamo5 #18

"And They Never Did Check The Pillow, Did They?" Award to Peebo Tales #4

"Grantsmanship Is Tough All Over, Babe" Award to Atomic Robo Dogs of War
     #4 (of 5)

"Sadly, Kirk Later Learned That In This Universe, Men Get Pregnant" Award
     to Twisted Toyfare Theater vol 9 (and yes, that IS a Red Dwarf ref on
     my part)

     Dave Van Domelen, "I like how you think I have any control over what's
happening right now." - Atomic Robo
Back to the Main Rants Page.

Check for Thanksgiving leftovers at the November 2008 Rants Page.