November 26, 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.
Due to typo at Diamond, we got 134 Hulks.  Rants, Capsules can be found on my 

"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.

     Iron Man Stealth Striker Armor: Hasbro - Just some short comments on
this.  While at first glance it looks like just another tweak of the Mk03
armor mold from the first wave of Iron Man movie toys, it is in fact a
COMPLETELY new mold.  No reused bits at all.  And it's a vastly superior
mold, too.  Better plastic, better-engineered joints (i.e. the neck is a
swivel and hinge, rather than a simple ball joint like the original), less
spindly hands, and the shoulderpads are pinned on rather than clipped.  The
backpack accessory (meant to look kinda like an F-117 strapped to his back)
doesn't work properly, but it's pure gravy anyway.  Next to this, the
original movie Iron Man mold looks and feels like a knockoff.  Recommended.
$10.44 at Wal-Mart.
     Akiko and the Missing Misp: Delacorte - Normally, despite being a 38
year old male, I enjoy Mark Crilley's Akiko Young Adult novels.
Unfortunately, this time he stumbled a bit.  I think the main problem is that
he runs afoul of the law of character conservation (in short: when the Scooby
gang pulls the mask off the monster, it'd better be someone you've already
seen somewhere in the story).  The main action of the book takes place 25
years in the past, which automatically makes any newly- introduced characters
suspect (i.e. if they were important 25 years ago and we've never heard of
them before, why weren't they still around?).  Plus, of course, the word
count on these novels isn't exactly huge, so Crilley has to be careful not to
waste too much space introducing extraneous characters who won't be recurring
in later novels.  But of the new characters who appear on screen in the
25-years-ago scenes, all but one are involved with the badguys!  I mean, it
was obvious at least one of them had to be the Mysterious Villain of the
piece, but there really weren't any red herrings to speak of, which weakened
the central mystery plot.  And even when I was the same age as the target
audience for these books, I had some idea how the law of character
conservation worked, as well as the need for misdirection.  And no, it really
didn't feel like a double-misdirect here.  I never got the feeling that
anyone who the lens of suspicion dropped on was actually innocent.  Anyway,
it was still an engaging read with lovely art interspersed with the text, and
I look forward to how the Earth-side stuff is going to develop, but I found
the plot to be on the weak side.  Mildly recommended.  $12.99 (hardcover)

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): Blue Beetle

     Galaxy Quest Global Harming #4: IDW - Mostly a "dreamscape" issue, the
sort of thing that's cliche enough that you have to do a really good job just
to overcome the "Oh, not again" reaction.  Lobdell does an okay job.  Mildly
recommended.  $3.99
     Transformers All Hail Megatron #5: IDW - Decepticon fans will be
disappointed, as they barely show up this issue.  The opening sequence shows
how the neo-Wreckers got trapped on Cybertron (man, Roadbuster's huge), and
then it's popping back and forth between the human army's plans (shades of
Big Broadcast of 2006 in here) and Kup/Jazz interaction.  The "Five Year Gap"
information is slowly doled out, but this issue feels more than a little
padded.  (Note to Transformers-only fans: the Five Year Gap is a Legion of
Super-Heroes thing...the book got shoved ahead five years with the heroes in
a crappy situation, and information on how they got there was revealed slowly
or never.  All Hail Megatron risks this, hopefully the fact that it's a 12
issue maxi-series means they'll try to get all the info out before it ends.)
Mildly recommended.  $3.99  I got cover B.
     Gold Digger v3 #100: Antarctic Press - Running fight scene followed by
another running fight scene...your basic Boss Fight issue.  Perry focuses on
getting the long-running Britt-in-exile plot resolved, really no other
plotline gets even a single page here (although there'll probably be some
spillover resolution).  There's a couple of little mysteries posed and
resolved, but nothing big.  A decent big explody resolution, but despite a
few flashback revelations it's a light read.  Recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn
     Ms. Marvel #33: Marvel - After the torture porn of last issue, I'm
reluctant to even crack the cover on this one.  Fortunately, this one is more
of a generic spy movie sort of thing, more flashbacks to Carol before she
became Ms. Marvel.  But, speaking of Five Year Gaps, there's a definite sense
of "we're not going to tell you what happened between Secret Invasion and the
current story, just hint once in a while" going on here.  So either it's a
Five Year Gap in the making, or even worse, this info has been spelled out in
some other book they're assuming I read and it's just really lazy writing.
Neutral.  On the verge of dropping this book.  $2.99
     New Warriors #18: Marvel - At least this book has a good reason to have
a Five Year Gap...they jumped ahead in time.  :) And Grevioux manages to pull
off not one but two Shocker Reveals...even though the second one seemed
obvious after the first, he put a twist on it too.  Hopefully the arc
resolves in a non-hurried fashion before the cancellation hits.  Recommended.
     She-Hulk v2 #35: Marvel - Yes, I've heard about the cancellation.  A
good mix of global geopolitics and all-out brawling.  Qualano and Acunzo's
linework mesh oddly with Ciardo's colors to look like overcolored animation
cels, an effect that's too bright and cartoony for the sometimes heavy
story.  Still, recommended.  $2.99
     Incredible Hercules #123: Marvel - The big plot device is explicated and
set in motion, making this a bit talky and diluting the humor as well.  Still
good, but not scintillating.  Recommended.  $2.99
     Legion of Super-Heroes #48: DC - Another dead title walking.  On the one
hand, Shooter spends a lot of time here setting up new things...Legion
tryouts, a new team, etc.  On the other, he sets up a fairly easy way to
resolve the long-running arc without needing loads of time, so he should be
able to wrap this all up by #50 without it feeling lame.  And I did notice a
potential Scorch/Channel sort of pairing in this issue.  ;)  Recommended.
$2.99 US/Cn
     Blue Beetle #33: DC - And yes, I heard about THIS cancellation too.
Sigh.  And having him shift over to Teen Titans just adds insult, given I've
dropped that book in disgust.  But I suppose I'll just have to cherish the
few issues we have left, and this one's a good one.  If the Titans were
written half as well in their own book as Sturges does here, I wouldn't have
dropped it.  The last line of the book is a bad place to have a typo, though.
Strongly recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn

     Yes, it's a bad week for titles I get.  Four books on the chopping
block, whee.  (And two miniseries, and one that I may drop.  That puts a lot
of pressure on Herc and Gold Digger to survive and stay good.)

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 11/26: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe
#21, Love & Capes TPB.


"No, The Arm And Leg Fins Don't Make It More Stealthy, They Just Look Cool"
     Award to Stealth Striker Iron Man action figure

"Back To The Smoo-ture" Award to Akiko and the Missing Misp

"What Happens If You Suicide In A Dream?" Award to Galaxy Quest Global 
     Harming #4

"Exactly What Is Kup Smoking?" Award to Transformers All Hail Megatron #5

"You Gonna Finish That Donut?" Award to Gold Digger v3 #100

"Mason's Marvel Mob?" Award to Ms. Marvel #33

"Wanna Bet This Wasn't Actual Time Travel?" Award to New Warriors #18

"And He Never Did Get Any Hunny" Award to She-Hulk v2 #35

"Amadeus Got A Little, Though" Award to The Incredible Hercules #123

"Probably Best She Fights In The Dark" Award to Legion of Super-Heroes #48

"Khaji Da Might Be Old Enough, PM" Award to Blue Beetle #33

     Dave Van Domelen, "Yes, but only because I'm naturally curious about
science." - Blue Beetle
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Check for Thanksgiving leftovers at the November 2008 Rants Page.