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Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et CeteraGenerally Monthly 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 month. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Took a while, but I'm mostly recovered from the surgery. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): The Great Cleric vol 1-6. In this installment: Loki Season 2, Blue Beetle (movie), Adventure Finders Book 3 Episode 15, Super Sons vol 1-3, The Great Cleric vol 2-6, Go Go Loser Ranger! vol 7, Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear vol 7, Unnatural Order #1,Moon Knight #28, Superman Lost #7 (of 10), Gargoyles #10, Gargoyles Halloween Special, Gargoyles Dark Ages #4, Draculina Blood Simple #6 (of 6), Charm City #2, Mech Cadets #3, My Little Pony Classics Reimagined: Unicorn of Odd #2 (of 4). "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. Loki Season 2: Marvel/Disney+ - Another short six-episode season, in which episodes 2-4 are basically demonstrating a step at a time just how hosed everyone is in the wake of Season 1. I've seen complaints that the middle episodes feel like padding and it could've been a 2 hour movie, but I found the "We have a plan! Okay, that didn't work either," escalation effectively sold the drastic measures that had to be taken in the finale, whereas compressing it into two hours would have made it feel too pat. Sure, the final solution is elegant in its simplicity (despite being very DIFFICULT), but it needed to feel like a last resort. A couple of hours of increasingly desperate plans made that clear. "It's not a science problem after all, it's a story problem!" or words to that effect. This does feel like a solid ending for our Variant Loki, where trying to undo or mitigate it would cheapen the series, but that doesn't mean Marvel won't retroactively trash a good series in order to make a movie (glares meaningfully at Wanda Maximoff's character "arc"). Despite bouncing throughout time and realities it barely expands on the S1 cast (Key He Quan's addition is definitely a highlight, the other significant character addition is a bit more take-it-or-leave-it despite being a character who's got history with Thor in the comics). I do hope that if they make a third season, it focuses on a different Loki (like Sylvie, perhaps), since this one has definitely gotten an ending that he earned...for better AND worse. Recommended. Streaming on Disney+, BluRay will probably come out eventually. Blue Beetle: DC/WBD - David Zaslav decided to let this one come out rather than burying it for tax evasion purposes, but was it worth seeing? For the most part, yes. I was really turned off by the opening scenes with Jaime in which they just piled on the "protagonist's life must suck as much as possible before they get the awesome adventure stuff" cliche that action/fantasy writers seem obsessed with, but by about 15 minutes in that was mostly unimportant. ONE of the Life Sucks plot points was important, they should've just used that one and left out the rest. Anyway, they took most of their cues from the John Rogers series, but added Ted Kord's evil big sister as the main villain, reskinned Ted's origin story villain Carapax as the nemesis figure, and made Jaime a fresh college grad (not just for the Life Sucks, it also let them shed non-family supporting cast without needing to explain why he had no friends). Probably for the best that they didn't try to work Peacemaker in, not only is Cena's version tonally very different from the one in the comics, but that'd be three stories in a row where Peace(na)maker's involved with alien symbiotes. George Lopez as Uncle Rudy was dead on, and Nana Reyes was a great addition. Oh, and everything was Reagan's fault. Recommended once you get past the first couple of scenes. (Technical note: the Reyes family mostly speaks Spanish, and not all of it is subtitled. The untranslated stuff is basically "incidental dialogue" and not plot-important as far as I could tell. Oh, and they slipped a LOT more profanity past the rating board by simply not subtitling all the cussin'.) Streaming on Max (which I don't get), otherwise price depends on format and store. Digital Content: Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so (such as a lack of regular comics), I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will generally be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. Adventure Finders Book 3 Episode 15: Patreon.com - In an interesting storytelling choice, the cover doesn't so much show an event from the issue, as it shows something that happened between episodes. The party reassembles after being split several ways for much of the Book (one reassembles rather more literally than others do), so there's a lot of reunions and glomping and introductions. Basically, a breather and an impending mook-stomp prior to the unresolved business back in town. Recommended. $2/month or more on Patreon. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Super Sons vol 1-3: DC/DC ZOOM - I found these for two bucks each at Ollie's, and to be honest they're not worth even that much. If you like Damian and Jon from the comics or even the recent animated movies...you won't find that here. Ridley Pearson makes up an entirely different world and different personalities, it really feels like he was given the character names and an index card's worth of family tree info, then went with memories of Superfriends and Adam West to make a faux Silver Age book. The pull quote on the cover says it "moves faster than a speeding bullet," which I suppose is one way to say the plot janks around and glosses over a lot of stuff when there isn't an action scene. It's particularly disorienting given that every location is made up, and what feels like a third of the landmass of the planet is underwater due to melting icecaps (yeah, it's a post-apocalyptic sort of setting where most of the consequences are reduced to a few refugee camps and some resentment of "flood runners" in the places still above water). Authors parachuting in from other media (YA novels in this case) have a pretty spotty track record, and this trilogy is tossed on the bad side of the scales. $9.99 each cover price, but even if you see them on the shelf for $1.99 each...leave them there. The Great Cleric vol 2-6: Kodansha - I agree with some reviews I saw that said the first couple volumes were a bit of a slow start, but by the time I hit volume 3 I was regularly laughing out loud. As I've noted in other reviews, I'm not exactly deep into Isekai, so I can't really say if this is a standard approach or a subversion, but like Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear this is definitely following the path of "The protagonist is overpowered, but the interesting thing about them is how they try to just live a quiet life with creature comforts and wow does that not go to plan." Anyway, in looking for more volumes, I found that this started its U.S. release as an online exclusive on Kindle, so if I really wanted to read further ahead all I'd have to do is go to...ComiXology's hollowed out corpse. As much as I'm enjoying this series, I'll wait, thanks. (I suspect that this Kindle exclusivity might be part of why the local B&N only stocks vol 1 on the shelf.) Anyway, on top of themes of "the salaryman grind and the MMO grind are much of a sameness," and "being a minimally decent person by modern standards can make you a saint on certain historical issues," I'm pretty sure there's a general condemnation of the for-profit American health care system despite this being written originally in Japan for a Japanese audience. Anyway, the former Luciel's number one motivation in his previous life was to get promoted, and in this chunk of the story he finds out the truth of the old adage, "Let him be promoted, and thereby removed." He's too well-loved by too many dangerous people in the Adventurers' Guild (and Assassins' Guild) for the local crooked Healers' Guild head to touch him, so this early baddie gets rid of him by sending him to work as an exorcist for the Pope. The job basically involves keeping a spontaneously generated dungeon's undead from growing too numerous (by the end of vol 6 we know exactly why this dungeon exists under the equivalent of the Vatican), and the bald baddie whose name I can't be bothered to check figures that'll kill him in days...or at worst keep him out of the way for the term of service. Of course, Luciel has been grinding his combat skills along with his healing skills, and while he doesn't completely OP his way through things (the dungeon bosses give him significant trouble), he's a once in a generation find for the job. Volume 6 is definitely a proper "end of an arc" book, as a lot of mysteries get resolved (but not all...and I doubt the "who shot him with a sniper rifle in JAPAN?" question will be answered any time soon). This is a good time to get into the manga, since you can binge it and get past the two volumes of slow burn setup. Strongly recommended. Rated Older Teen 16+ (volumes 4 and 6) or Teen 13+ (the rest...I think it's the rather violently hacked up undead in vol 4 and 6 that bump the rating a bit). $12.99/$16.99Cn Go Go Loser Ranger vol 7: Kodansha - Now that the series has made it past the first boss fight, a number of facts about the setting are revealed to Fighter D and the reader (and by revealed, I suspect "changed so that the series can go longer" might be the case), such as how many Bosses actually survived the battle that saw the Rangers win...and how many didn't make it to the present day. Otherwise, the majority of the volume has the rather understrength Green squad investigating where the rest of the squad went, and finding them...unfortunately. Another Boss, this one with a rather more indirect approach. It lets the writer indulge in some High School Comedy tropes while making sure D is kept off-balance as much as possible. Recommended. Rated Teen 13+. $10.99/$14.99 Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear vol 7: Seven Seas Entertainment - The first half of this volume covers the details of Yuna setting up a bakery in her adopted hometown, because getting the creature comforts turns out to be a lot more WORK than she anticipated. Where Luciel aka Saint Weirdo over in the Great Cleric has a pathological work ethic, Yuna really REALLY does not. At all. But she has more of a conscience than she expected herself to have (we see her grandfather saw it in her, though), and sees a lot about the world that needs fixing if she can get back to her primary goal of slacking and snacking. Once she has her home area in enough order to salve her conscience, she sets out for the rest of the volume to explore some other regions...in search of food, of course. She has a hankering for seafood, so sets out over the mountains for a seaport. Unfortunately, the town has many troubles, not the least of which are caused by a greedy guildmaster (trade, not healing, in this case). She also may have finally run into a monster-based problem she can't just blow to meaty chunks (although that WOULD get her some seafood in this case!). I remain dubious...it doesn't feel like Yuna has actually come close to hitting her limit in being totally OP, but at least she's not letting it go to her head. Recommended. Rated Teen 13+. $12.99/$16.99Cn Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? (And not all of them come out monthly, or on a regular schedule in general, so I can't just call this section "Monthlies" or even "Periodicals" as that implies a regular period.) Unnatural Order #1: Vault - My current store got a shipment of free copies of this, so put it in everyone's pull. The premise is interesting, but both of the previous Vault books I followed had two things in common: very irregular publication schedules, and an interesting premise that nosedived into an ending that felt like contempt for people who want things like resolution. The Interesting Premise this time is that somehow a druid taps into power from Elsewhere (or Elsewhen) and breaks the back of the Roman Empire and conquers much of the world. A rag-tag group of PCs...er, heroes from various lands seek to destroy the druid's power, and the whole thing shifts from Fantasy to Sci-Fi on the last page. Neither the art nor writing grabbed me, and while I admit the Interesting Premise is interesting, I think I'll pass on this series. $4.99 Moon Knight #28: Marvel - "The Last Days Of Moon Knight!" proclaims the cover banner. Yeah, it's renumbering at #1 in a few months, already been solicited. Anyway, Moon Knight and his ablative supporting cast go after Black Spectre, who clearly has a History with Moon Knight, but we don't yet get to see what. This has some decent character moments (mostly Tigra's moments), but otherwise hews to the "invade the Tower of Death and leave behind allies one by one," cliche. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Superman Lost #7 (of 10): DC - Well, I'm not in the credits this time, so you can't blame any technobabble on me. ;) The planet of exile part of the arc is basically over here, and the "Lost" part of the book shifts to a heavier focus on Superman being emotionally lost, even going to see Kara's therapist. Lois also goes to see someone for help, and of course it's a monkey's paw wish. Recommended. $3.99 Gargoyles #10: Dynamite - More legal drama, which continues to be the sort of thing that works better with sound and motion. I'm guessing this is an un-labeled 12 issue limited series given the new title launching in a few months and how Dynamite is largely allergic to ongoing titles. I guess I'll ride this into a landing, but I'm not picking up the followup title. Neutral. $3.99 Gargoyles Halloween Special #1: Dynamite - Gargoyles go trick-or-treating, set after Gargoyles #10. It has an explicit October 31, 1997 datestamp, something the main series doesn't generally bother with (although based on a newspaper seen in one flashback panel, Goliath was taken in back in mid-May 1997). This mostly features Brooklyn and Katana's kid Nashville with some support from Bronx and Foo-Dog, as he makes friends, engages in trick-or-treating, and deals with a resurgent Quarrymen plot. It's decent, and definitely better suited to the medium than the somewhat tedious main book plot. (Another downside of getting Dynamite books by mail order, other than having to get two months' worth after deciding to drop, is that I get random covers, which for Dynamite means high odds of random pinup that has nothing to do with the story inside.) $4.99 Gargoyles Dark Ages #4: Dynamite - The battle over, the story shifts to the building of Castle Wyvern, and the focus is split between getting surviving characters where they need to be (such as Demona learning magic), and fleshing out a bunch of Gargoyles who don't make it to the 1990s. The sinister acting troupe makes me think that some of them won't make it to the completion of the castle. Overall, though, the issue feels very thin, and not just because the actual comics pages barely make it past the staple (more text story, then loads of house ads). $4.99 Draculina: Blood Simple #6 (of 6): Dynamite - While there's a bunch of angels versus demons versus Lilith going on here, the title characters are mostly sidelined while the power players posture at each other, and while the issue is told out of temporal order I'm not sure doing so in strict chronological order would have changed much...old players, old beefs, arguing as much in shorthand as anything. To the extent there's a resolution, nasty Draculina accepts that she's not completely amoral and if she won't admit to being suicidal she does seem willing to sacrifice herself for something other than an end to it all. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Charm City #2: Scout Comics - This issue is built more around fleshing out more of the magical underground of Baltimore, and while some stuff is revealed about the killer (or killers), mostly we learn about the magical community and the protagonist's links to it. The backup continues to show the transgression she committed to get kicked out of the community (and which landed her forbidden normie boyfriend in a semi-vegetative state). Some of the pacing does make it feel like there's going to be at least a few more layers under the overt mass murdering. Recommended with the usual disclaimer that my brother draws it so I'm a touch biased. $4.99 Mech Cadets #3 - Boom! Studios - Yeah, I'm starting to feel the pacing issues here that weren't as apparent when I binged the first three volumes in TPB form. Some deliberately confusing space combat, then back to Earth for the cadets to face the music only not really because they've got plot armor and they know it. Some definite writing for the trade here, and the art is a lot scratchier, suggesting there might have been a rush job here or there. Mildly recommended. $4.99 My Little Pony Classics Reimagined: the Unicorn of Odd #2 (of 4): IDW - While they don't QUITE show how the Tin Woodsman lost her flesh and blood parts in her introduction here, they definitely describe it as graphically as the original novel does. It's been a lot longer since I read the book compared to the last time I saw the movie, so I can't swear the beats line up (I honestly don't recall Kalidahs at ALL, I guess they were replaced by "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!" in the movie). Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "Darling, don't take this the wrong way, but you're hardly A.K. Yearling. A Diamond Dog with a thesaurus could do better." - Tinmare Rarity complaining about the narration, My Little Pony Classics Reimagined: the Unicorn of Odd #2 (of 4)
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