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Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et CeteraIntermittent 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 Diamond got hit with ransomware, now have an excuse for fails. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None this month. In this installment: Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings, Adventure Finders Book 3 Chapter 5, Justice League of America the Silver Age vol 3, Shang-Chi #6, Moon Knight #5, Good Boy vol 1 #1-3 (of 3), Getting Dizzy #1, Vampirella #25 (of 25), The Blue Flame #5, Norse Mythology II #6 (of 6), The Orville Artifacts #2 (of 2), My Little Pony Generations #2 (of 5), Transformers: King Grimlock #4 (of 5), Transformers Wreckers: Tread & Circuits #2 (of 5), Transformers Beast Wars #10, Transformers #37. Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Nothing this month. Probably. The ransomware damage makes it hard to be sure. "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. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Disney/Marvel - This had some heavy lifting to do, no doubt about it. I mean, they could have just done a Shang-Chi movie, hard enough to manage without the "chop socky" racism of the character's origins in comics. But they also decided to rehab the entire "ten rings" thing that got so thoroughly mangled in Iron Man 3. Rather than being Fu Manchu (problematic on SOOOOO many levels, not least legal), Shang-Chi's dad is...not the Mandarin. He has the ten rings, but he never called himself Mandarin. Thus dodging the "Mandarin is just Fu Manchu with the serial numbers covered with masking tape" issue. He even mocks the Mandarin name at one point. Anyway, this movie is a love letter to Hong Kong action movies, from brutal urban combat on public transit or on the obligatory bamboo scaffolding, to ancient mystical warriors in a hidden village. Simu Liu needed to learn to fight for this movie, but the rest of the cast and the stunt directors (some of whom worked with Jackie Chan) did a good job of making him look good. And, again, it's HK actioner direction rather than western shakycam. A solid movie, recommended. (Watched it on Disney+) Hawkeye had a promising start, gonna wait until it's done to review it though. 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 Chapter 5: Patreon.com - While the good guys are rallying outside, the situation inside gets quite dire. Basically, this is the "heroes get jobbed" bit, and I have mixed reactions to it. Mildly recommended. $1/month on Patreon. Overwatch put out another free comic, but I wasn't interested enough in it to read it. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Justice League of America the Silver Age vol 3: DC - Covers Justice League of America #20-30. This has been out for a while, but I got it for $5 at Ollie's. And WHAT THE EVERLOVING FRAG? The Silver Age had some really whacked out stories. I mean, this volume has the super-important "Crisis on Earth-2" and "Crisis on Earth-3" arcs that constituted major worldbuilding for DC...but the actual plots are often at the level of playground "Bang, you're dead!" "Nuh-uh, I have a forcefield!" "Well, this is an anti-forcefield gun times infinity!" stuff. Stuff that actually makes the Still Force or rainbow of Lanterns seem like solid storytelling by comparison. Sometimes nostalgia is better left unrevisited. Gardner Fox had some good ideas, but they're drowning in a sea of bad ones. Almost every story has a new cosmic force (the Victory Force, the Robber Force, Cardiac Waves, Disaster Energy Radiations, whatever), and plot holes that even the target audience of gradeschoolers must've been able to see through (e.g. Superman defeats an alien by hurling him deep into space...an alien that arrived in the form of a SPACESHIP). I mean, if you can find it at Ollie's for $5, it's worth it to see some of the early Silver Age art with its bizarre editorial constraints (like "no foreshortening"), but disengage brain before actually reading the stories. 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.) Shang-Chi #6: Marvel - So, the opening arc comes to an end with all the heroes Shang-Chi had as guest-stars teaming up to call him on the carpet for keeping the Cosmic Cube, with Thor brought in just in case things got dicey (so he could make them worse, of course). Shang-Chi is confirmed to be "trusting and naive" rather than "knows what's going on and is letting it unfold according to a master plan," though, which doesn't bode well for his next opponent, the shadowy (well, persistently face-off-panel) mastermind who's been building forces against him for a few issues. It feels like they're setting him up to just hand the Deadly Weapons off to a sibling and go back to soloing, rather than having him step up and actually dismantle the society. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Moon Knight #5: Marvel - Speaking of shadowy masterminds, Moon Knight's mysterious foe finally shows his face (and gloats, because of course). Mind you, his actual motives aren't really revealed, because we cannot in any way trust his stated "for the fun and challenge" motives. In the other archenemy plotline (Marc is his own), the progress made with Tigra last issue is extended with his therapist, although she has to fight through several layers of "video game character" BS from him to get at it. Recommended. $3.99 Good Boy vol 1 #1-3 (of 3): Source Point Press - Only #1 hit stores this month, but I backed the Kickstarter so I got the entire first arc. The high concept is "What if John Wick died and his dog went on the revenge spree?" but with dogs being mostly anthropomorphic in adulthood and the names changed slightly ("Jon Sparks" instead of "John Wick," for instance) because this isn't licensed. It doesn't worry too much about making sense of the setting, it's really about just barely enough premise to move from one set piece to another, and does an okay job there. I found the art a little too aggressively...I dunno exactly how I'd describe it. It's not exactly cartoony, per se, it has that level of abstraction but also elements probably intentionally borrowed from Frank Miller. I guess "Looney Tunes through a Frank Miller filter" gets close enough. I dunno if I'll stick around for the second arc, this was kind of an impulse Kickstarter backing, since the price for three issues and extras in hardcopy form was $10 plus shipping, well below my "Hey, that sounds kinda interesting" threshold for backing. My copies don't have prices on the individual issues, but the version of #1 that hit stores was priced $3.99. Mildly recommended. Getting Dizzy #1: Boom! Box - This was an impulse buy. The premise is that a girl who's always wanted to be Important finds herself a Destined Defender who fights nasties who only she can see...which plays into her reputation of daydreaming and mixing up dreams and reality. It just didn't grab me, though, and I won't be sticking around to see if they go in a cringey direction or not. Neutral. $3.99 Vampirella #25 (of 25): Dynamite - Technically the final issue, but they're relaunching next month with a new title, but still written by Priest. So...figure this is the first really long arc. It opens with a dream sequence to get in all the insane stuff that would not actually make sense (to the extent anything about Vampi can make sense), then settles down for the "Are you doing the right thing for the right reasons?" debates. These aren't resolved, of course, because finding out the answer to that question is going to be the focus of the new title. Recommended. $3.99 The Blue Flame #5: Vault - The lines between the two Blue Flames continue to be blurry, each version aware of what's happening to the other, to the point that thought captions sometimes cross over between them. The easy way out would to be accepting that the Milwaukee scenes are reality, with the cosmic ones being part of a delusion in which he tries to lend some meaning to his struggles, but it feels like it if were that simple there'd have been clarity for the reader by now. Unless the writer himself hasn't decided which is real yet either, and is stringing it out...that would be disappointing. I do suspect that Cantwell has the old "Does the man dream he is a butterfly, or does the butterfly dream it is a man?" poser in mind here, though. And it is a bit refreshing that neither side of the Blue Flame is letting this dichotomy paralyze him. Both worlds are real to both sides of him, and if the stresses of his life in Milwaukee make it harder to concentrate on the galactic trial and vice versa, no one said being a hero would be easy. Provisionally recommended. $3.99 Norse Mythology II #6 (of 6): Dark Horse Comics - The conclusion of last issue's story is pretty short, leaving the rest of the issue for Frey's pursuit of his own beloved. He takes after his dad in terms of ending up with a giantess, amusingly. The ending implies that Norse Mythology III might focus on Ragnarok and its lead-up. Recommended. $3.99 The Orville: Artifacts Part 2 of 2: Dark Horse - You can be right and still be wrong. That's basically the moral of most "obsessed academic" stories, especially in science fiction. While this two issue microseries format does seriously restrict what they can do with each story (figure it'd be about a half-hour show with commercials and assuming a lot of effects shots taking up time), making it mostly about Gordon and the two new characters, the voice of the other cast members does get a chance to show through. Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Generations #2 (of 5): IDW - The adorably incompetent witch-kids from the G1 universe set loose their evil plans which are...kinda adorably incompetent, as one might expect. While the evil "Smooze Ponies" do sow a little chaos and get some ponies upset, by issue's end it's not really a big deal. So they're told to ramp it up...which strikes me as something they're going to fail at, since there's three more issues. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers: King Grimlock #4 (of 5): IDW - I mean, I think some stuff happens this issue that represents important character development and worldbuilding, but the art is SOOOO bad at actually storytelling that I'm not really sure what happened in some of the scenes. Neutral. $4.99 Transformers Wreckers: Tread & Circuits #2 (of 5): IDW - Mariotte seems to like plot twists, perhaps a bit too much. A lot of the issue involves jerking Circuit around and then making him unable to tell anyone what he saw...kind of a cheap way out of a mystery. Keep the protagonists in the dark until the one who knows what's going on wakes up, Just A Bit Too Late no doubt. The character stuff is good, but the plot hobbles along on too many crutches. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers Beast Wars #10: IDW - After nine issues of turtling, the Maximals decide to finally take the battle to the Darksyde, just in time to interrupt some internal Predacon politics. While the Maximals are traveling, there's some more backstory about how the Golden Disk was found, what makes it important, etc. Burcham is still on art, meh. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Transformers #37: IDW - Guido Guidi does some scenes during a chat with another Immersant, and the contrast between his style and the looser and more cartoony style of Winston Chan is a bit jarring. I mean, taking purely on its own merits, Chan's art is acceptable...but next to Guidi's pages it looks like a try-out book from a fan artist. The story similarly jumps around, mostly keeping Exarchon in focus but the focus gets blurry at times. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "And then the 'giant crazy dog assassins' fought to the death?" "I don't know why y'all are acting so suspicious of me! You know anthropomorphic characters exist in this literary universe." - cop and witness, Good Boy #1 (of 3)