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Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and AwardsIntermittent 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 week. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Requiescat in Pacem: City of Heroes, 2004-2012 - May there be a reboot Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Love and Capes: What To Expect #4 (of 6), My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1 In this installment: Love and Capes: What To Expect #4 (of 6), Double Barrel #6, Transformers: ReGeneration One #84, Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #4 (of 5), Action Philosophers #13, Sanctuary #6, Kitties, Marvel Super-Heroes Magazine #5, Young Justice #22, Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #8, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1 "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 month. The deleted scenes in the Amazing Spider-Man DVD are pretty good, though. 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. Love & Capes: What To Expect #4 (of 6): IDW - Definitely a fourth part of six, here, from Zahler. Abby dealing with a business crisis, Paul and Amazonia dealing with relationship crisis, Amazonia's sister liable to accidentally start a war or kill a fellow hero...about the only people for whom things are going smoothly are Darkblade's sidekicks. They get to practice being threatening, on some vandals. Yes, it's even a bad idea to commit PETTY crime in a superhero-patrolled city. Near the end, Amazonia pretty much spells out the theme of the miniseries, though: superheroes aren't really comfortable with genuine change, and all three of the main heroes are faced with some pretty real changes in their lives. Strongly recommended. $3.99 Double Barrel #6: Top Shelf - The latest installment of Heck is almost exclusively a dialogue between Hector and Geryon, who epitomizes the idea of a smiling, damned villain. The often-hinted-at reason Elliot is in bandages is explicated, and Heck placed in rather ironic position. Meanwhile, Crater XV starts to move towards some sort of resolution, revealing a few more secrets and setting up the next arc...we have a definitely penultimate cliffhanger going on here, so I expect #7 or #8 will find some significant resolutions, but in this installment Cannon sets up the natural next conflict. The How To segment this time is all about layout, the thing that separates comics pros from pinup artist wannabes. Recommended. $1.99 Transformers: ReGeneration One #84: IDW - While there's a little bit of Hot Rod back on Cybertron, almost the entire issue is fight scenes on Earth. One group directly attacking Megatron as a doomed distraction, the other attacking the Ark as a doomed main mission. It largely felt like it could have worked just as well as an 8 page sequence...Furman padding out the arc to make it to six parts or something. Very mildly recommended. $2.99 Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #4 (of 5): Red 5 Comics - So, it's time for the badguys to reveal their plans and origins, so we know where they're coming from and why they're a serious threat. And with that accomplished, time for a clever rescue and a last ditch attempt to save the day. One advantage of Speroni's looser style is that the rescue can be foreshadowed without having to be overly tricky about it...if you're not expecting something like that, the clues are hidden in plain sight. Recommended. $2.99 Action Philosophers #13: Digital Exclusive: Evil Twin - Okay, this is just the four new pieces done for the recent collection (Epicurus, Rumi, Comte, James) in a single e-comic, but at a buck I don't feel particularly burned for having re-bought it. And if you don't have the collected Action Philosophers (and why don't you?) it's a good sampler. Recommended. $0.99 Sanctuary #6: Slave Labor Graphics - This one managed to sneak in past me, so I don't know how late I am to the party. More of the various motives are revealed this issue, making sense of some of the odder behavior of the past couple of issues. Along the way, most of the villains are shown in a somewhat more sympathetic light, even the spiders, although one of the villains is revealed to just be a psycho who likes being able to kill and hurt while cloaked in a noble cause. Most of my quibbles about #5 are answered here, and while some new mysteries are raised along the way, the story as a whole is definitely hanging together more tightly now. Recommended. $0.99 Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Kitties: Couscous Collective - The latest oddball-sized anthology piece from Couscous, aka "The Narbonicverse people and guests." This time there's some color stories mixed in with the B&W, and there's no text stories. "The Grimmest Hour" by Pancha Diaz and Evan Waldinger feels like an excerpt from a larger setting, although the end credits don't mention an ongoing series from the two. It nevertheless does a decent job of explicating the setting without feeling awkward. "The Adventures of a Cat-Loving Girl" reads like a little kid's story...which it is, being written by 7-year-old Joselyn Ann Henry (no entry in the endpage biographies, I'm guessing she's related to Garrity) and drawn by Shaenon Garrity. It has that distinctive kid logic to it, although sometimes it's hard to tell that from Shaenon's usual writing style. ;) Lauren Davis contributes "Toxoplamosis" and gives the impression of having been roped into the anthology despite not liking cats. The second Narbon-crew story is "Cat Politics" written by Garrity and drawn by Farago, concerning the social life of the couple's cat. It's in color, but not really enhanced by that, I think it would have worked better left in B&W. Karen Luk's "Moon Hunt," however, definitely needed the color, having been digitally painted with nary a black line to be found. The story is okay. The main draw (for me, anyway) of this installment is "Career Day" by Wells and Garrity, featuring Leo Panthera from Skin Horse talking at career day for Artie Narbon's elementary school class. It says something about the setting that the kids don't find it terribly unusual to have a talking lion in class, although Leo does have to fight some significant speciesism. The final tale, "The Cats of Ulthar," is a Lovecraftian Dreamlands adaptation by Jason Thompson, showing that this anthology is totally up his twisted alley. All in all, it has the usual uneven quality that indie anthologies are known for, but there's enough good stuff in there to be worth the price of admission. Recommended. $10 Floppies: 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. Marvel Super Heroes Magazine #5: Marvel - The comic story is by Paul Tobin again, featuring Spider-Man facing off against five of the Sinister Six over a lie told by someone else. Mainly interesting for seeing the Six in three piece suits...and masks. Mysterio's bubble helmet requires a rather larger collar than you're going to find in an off-the-rack suit. Definitely on the farcical side of things. Most of the activities pages focus on Spidey and the Six, but the Fantastic Four get a few pages. Anyway, not one of Tobin's better stories. Very mildly recommended. Young Justice #22: DC - While there's a few pages set after the end of season 1, the main plots have gotten going enough that most of the issue pops between various scenes in the "just before season 2" stuff. A very good read, although probably best enjoyed by people who have been following the cartoon, so that some of the subtler stuff will make sense. Weisman isn't afraid to leave some things unexplained, trusting that the reader will pick up on how they fit into the animated continuity. Recommended. $2.99 Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #8: Marvel - In an unusual step, the cover story is the backup. The lead story involves MODOK hitting Hawkeye and Iron Man with the body swap cliche, and while I think Karl Kesel overplays the one-upmanship between the two Avengers, it's otherwise a decent execution of the trope. Elliot Kalan writes the cover story, in which Hulk and Black Panther have a bit of friction in terms of different strategies. It also features the Madbomb, which has particular nostalgic resonance for me, being the plot device of one of the first comics I ever read (Kalan makes it a Hydra plot, though, rather than trying to explain the original plotters behind the device). Interestingly, it shares a plot twist with part of the one full-length Xxxenophile story. :) Recommended. $2.99 My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1: IDW - I got cover B (Applejack and Vinyl Scratch). The Jill Thompson cover was kinda disappointing, and while the Hastings retailer exclusive cover was good (and cleverly had the use of a giant foam hoof instead of a foam finger), they wanted an extra dollar for it. When I heard that it was written by Katie Cook, I went looking for other stuff she'd written, and found Gronk (www.gronkcomic.com) which assured me she knew how to write at this level. The art is by Andy Price, who's done this and that here and there, but doesn't have a webcomic to check (that I could find, anyway). Price CAN do a spot-on imitation of the animated style (as seen on his deviantArt account), but chose to imbue this book with a little something different. While Hasbro's got to make sure that the primary audience (i.e. little girls) will be okay with this issue, you can definitely see that both creators involved are aiming the book at older fans as well. For instance, I'm 42 and I'm barely old enough to get the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" visual reference on page 6, panel 3. The plot is pretty transparents (concession to the kiddies) but wallows in being aware of that fact (concession to the bronies). It's definitely a much more arch story than they can get away with in the cartoon...as if the cartoon were Sesame Street and the comic is the Muppet Show. Since Cook is also an artist, she contributes a little on that front as well, writing and drawing a two page backup with Pinkie and Rarity and a Carol Burnett gag. As an aside, Thom Zahler (Love and Capes) is writing the six issue "Microseries" pony comic coming out in a few months. I have understandably high hopes for that. All in all, if you're already a fan of the current incarnation of My Little Pony, you've probably bought this comic by now (it's sold over 100K copies, which doesn't happen a lot these days, and that's not even counting digital copies). It's a bit continuity-dense to make a good introduction for the uniniatiated, though...but if you like subversive humor cloaked in kiddie frills, it might be worth giving this a try anyway. $3.99 for most covers, retailer exclusives vary by retailer. Dave Van Domelen, "Next question, troops. Why do we leave them to confess to the police, rather than walking them in?" "Because staying out of sight helps build our legend?" "No, because guilty must confess themselves to be redeemed." "Security cameras?" "All true statements, but none of them are why. If we linger -- then we get stuck doing paperwork." - Darkblade and his three sidekicks. Also, "none of them IS why," DB.
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