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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 week. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Starting to see how well my new house handles cold weather. Decent. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None. However, while it's a reprint of Comic Book Comics #1 with the addition of color and some other production tweaks, I strongly recommend you pick up The Four Color Comic Book History of Comics #1 if you don't have the original printing. In this installment: Doctor Strange (movie), Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader, Supermansion Season 1, Vixen Season 2, DC SuperHero Girls Hits and Myths, John Aman: Amazing Man #1-6, The Extraordinary Miniature Man #1, Champions #2, The Totally Awesome Hulk #12, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #13, Ms. Marvel #13, Invader Zim #15, Blue Beetle #3, Deathstroke #6-7, Hanna-Barbera Future Quest #7, Mega Princess #1 (of 5), Kaijumax Season 2 #6 (of 6), My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #48, My Little Pony Friends Forever #34, Atomic Robo the Temple of Od #4, Revolution #4-5 (of 5), Transformers: Till All Are One Revolution One-Shot, Transformers: Till All Are One #5, The Four Color Comic Book History of Comics #1 (of 6). Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Atomic Robo: the Temple of Od #1 (of 5). "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. Doctor Strange (Movie): Marvel - Fairly by-the-numbers hero's journey, but they avoided a few places where it could have really dragged. A plot device was introduced and then largely ignored ("Don't lose this or you're doomed!" Proceeds to lose it and is fine save for a few seconds of worry), there's some Acting Appropriately Stupid, but Cumberbatch has the chops to carry it through some of the weak patches. Recommended. Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader: DC/WB - A cartoon reuniting as much of the cast of the Adam West series as they could manage. I had fairly high hopes for this but...meh. It's as if the writers were working from old memories of the show from childhood, including extreme versions of show staples in an attempt to parody what was already a send-up. And given how the show has been out on DVD for a few years, that's inexcusable. The animation was okay, even if the writing felt like a slapdash attempt to cash in on nostalgia. Mild recommendation to avoid. SuperMansion Season 1: Sony - Not really a good sign that the first I knew of this series was seeing the "UNCENSORED!" DVD on the shelf at Walmart. Looks like it was "broadcast" on Crackle, an online free-with-ads site I had likewise not heard of before now, although apparently they were responsible for Joe Dirt 2. So, before I even open the shrinkwrap on this set, I'm expecting train wreck. I was pleasantly surprised to find it fairly watchable and a lot less reality-show than the packaging suggested. It's still clear that the Robot Chicken writers work better in short bits, the longer plots tend to drag when they aren't just an excuse to string together half a dozen short skits. I watched the entire first half, but the second half will have to wait until I've chipped away at more of my DVD backlog. Mildly recommended, lots of crude language and some male full frontal nudity (well, stop motion puppet nudity). Vixen Season 2: CW Seed - Well, another half hour or so of story split up over several weeks, but this time I kinda forgot about it for a while and watched eps 2-6 in one sitting. It's set before Atom left to join the Legends of Tomorrow, and guest-stars Flash, Arrow, Atom, and the Laurel Lance version of Black Canary. The other four siblings to the Tantu Totem are brought into the story (I hadn't heard of there being more totems before this, but it does provide her with some home-grown antagonists) and two of the four show up. Like "season" 1, there's a cliffhanger in the first installment that gets resolved fairly boringly and predictably in a later installment, and things are wrapped up enough to explain why we never see any of this stuff in the live action shows. It's free online, and probably worth the half hour it takes to watch. 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 iPhone if it's at all possible. Nothing this month. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. DC SuperHero Girls Hits and Myths: DC - Wow, just begging for a review to call this hit and miss, aren't ya? Because that's what it was. While there were several good scenes, trying to bowdlerize Hell and make Trigon the lord of Hell instead of his own thing really felt weak. Supposed to be based on the Odyssey, but the connections are very slender and mostly surface features. Very mildly recommended. $9.99 Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? John Aman Amazing Man #1-6: Gallant Comics - This was a Kickstarter, but unlike AP's Science vs. Magic (which still hasn't shipped #3-4) they waited until everything was done and shipped them in a chunk. While Butler's art was decently retro and less wooden than his style often ended up being 20 years ago, the writing is...not good. The author Barry Gregory seems to also be shooting for a retro style, but fails to capture the energy of a Doc Smith or even a Roy Thomas. It's just overwrought, wooden, and way too enamored of flashbacks (all but a page of #5 is flashbacks, for instance). The author also makes the mistake of trying to kitchen sink things, throwing in a bunch of other public domain characters to make the world feel bigger, but it only results in a mess. By 1940s standards it might have been considered an acceptable mess, but these days, not so much. It's like it's halfway between an actual story and a Who's Who entry (Jason Tondro's Super Villain Handbook did a better job of telling stories about several of these characters, and it was just trying to be a handbook). Neutral. $3.99 an issue except for #6, which is double-sized for $5.99. The Extraordinary Miniature Man #1: Gallant Comics - A bonus add-on for the Amazing Man KS, a 12 page comic that introduces the title character, cameos a guy from Amazing Man, and introduces another (I suspect) hero for Miniature Man to fight on the cover of #2. Not as clunky or overly complex for its own good as Amazing Man, but no great shakes either. Very mildly recommended. $2.99. Champions #2: Marvel - Everyone goes camping for a new-team-bonding experience. That's basically it. Oh, there's a fight with Cyclops, but unsurprisingly it's nothing like what's on the cover, because Waid is doing his best to do Silver Age Fake-Out here. :) I think he may be overplaying the "Amadeus as Hulk is a total jerk" card, but team books do tend to distill characters down to how they differ from the rest of the team (i.e. despite her protestations, Kamala ends up as Team Mom, Miles is even more "nerd in the shadow of a more experienced nerd" than usual, etc). Recommended. $3.99 Totally Awesome Hulk #12: Marvel - So, the first year ends with at least one book getting something good out of Civil War II. This is Amadeus's rock bottom, hopefully. As Maddie points out, he's been "learning his lesson" over and over but never REALLY changing, like (and this is my comparison, not hers) some episodic kidvid protagonist from the 80s. This is where he realizes that the 8th smartest person on the planet can be very clever about fooling himself. Recommended. $3.99 Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #13: Marvel - AKA NOW #1. So, the premise of this arc is "If Luna really is the smartest human alive, what does that mean for her future?" Literally, in one case, as she has what might be a future vision. Showing less of his jerk side than in Champions, less self-awareness than in his own title, and appearing in three of my four Marvel books this month, the Hulk proves himself to be maybe not a great mentor. In some ways, you'd think he'd be perfect...usually the smartest person in the room, worried that he's also a monster, walking embodiment of puberty anxiety, etc. But those same traits mean that he needs the same sort of help Luna does, and can't offer what she needs. What she needs is someone level-headed, used to dealing with moody geniuses who might turn evil out of frustration or boredom. Be careful what you wish for.... Recommended. $3.99 Ms. Marvel v2 #13: Marvel - This issue is all about the power of getting out the vote and changing things for the better on the local level and DAMN IS IT DEPRESSING AS HELL THAT IT CAME OUT A MONTH TOO LATE. I mean, a single comic with a circulation in the few tens of thousands (30,000 in February) isn't going to leverage a lot of elections, but at least if it had come out a month ago I could have read it with a sense of hope rather than one of crushing futility. A month ago I would have recommended it, but now? We can probably blame Civil War II for this coming out too late to be worth reading. Neutral. $3.99 Invader Zim #15: Oni Press - Left in the care of a substitute teacher that is a ham, the children in Zim's class speculate upon the origins and nature of their teacher, Miss Bitters. Reminiscent of the "Legends of the Dark Knight" episode of Batman, each is drawn by a different artist and tells a different sort of childhood campfire tale. Only without the campfire. And in a school. They are all wrong, of course, as Miss Bitters is clearly a snake people, or sneeple. Recommended. $3.99 Blue Beetle #3: DC - For a book in which the main character actually tells his parents about his secret identity, this sure has a lot of "keeping secrets for no good reason" plot points. While not the unmitigated disaster of #2, it's still not living up to the potential of the Rebirth issue, and bringing in the adult Sugar & Spike from Giffen's Legends of Tomorrow run isn't helping matters. I'll give it one more issue, since #4 promises to explain What The Deal Is This Time, but it'll have to be astoundingly good to save this book. Neutral. $2.99 Deathstroke #6: DC - You gotta give Priest credit for doing his research. If he departs from a classic portrayal of a character (as he does in some ways for Jericho), it's not because he couldn't be bothered to do his research. As evidenced by the really obscure origins revealed about one of the supporting characters, who was last seen as a little kid and I only knew wasn't an entirely new character because someone mentioned their origins on Priest's board. :) Arc-wise, this is sort of a breath-catcher after the Batman two-parter, still dealing with Slade's family issues in general and the hit on Rose in specific, but peeling back a few more layers of the rather rotten onion. Also, a seemingly disposable character from the first couple issues is back and may well steal the fan spotlight. ;) Recommended. $2.99 Deathstroke #7: DC - And now, having left Batman behind, it's time to run into Superman. It would seem to be a totally different sort of fight, but it looks like it'll be almost exactly the same sort of fight, just with the excessive power on the other foot. In both conflicts, the outcome of a fair fight is pretty much a given, but there's no way a fair fight is going to be allowed to happen. The scene shifting is getting a little hectic at this point, especially since there needs to be more setup for a Superman fight than "go to Gotham, he'll know you're there" is for Batman. Recommended. $2.99 Hanna-Barbera Future Quest #7: DC - They look to ALMOST be done with origin stories and setups, only a few new characters get introduced this issue and none of them is really dwelt upon (the Galaxy Trio gets a background cameo, and if Gargantuan is actually an old H-B character and not meant to be a riff on Gigantor I can't find any reference to him). The actual plot, particularly Zin's machinations, takes center stage at last, getting us to where we probably should have been three issues ago (with maybe an Annual or a #0 collecting all the side story origin stuff). Parker is doing a good job updating the characters and fitting them into a shared universe, but too much of the worldbuilding is showing up in the middle of the story, making it feel almost like a David Weber novel. But now it's getting moving with actual story. Recommended. $3.99 Mega Princess #1 (of 5): Kaboom - No one at my store remembers ordering this, it just sort of showed up. But they said it was good, and on the day after the election I was in the mood for something cute and snarky, which this appeared to be. It does try a little too hard to be quirky at times (a fantasy princess who wants to be a detective, okay, but making her explicitly a fan of Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple pushes it a bit hard). She gets a visit from her equally hip and quirky hoodie-wearing fairy godmother and is granted the powers of All Princesses. All the stereotypical stuff like grace, poise, talk to animals, etc. Hence the title, Mega Princess. Along with a few other random magical gifts, she's determined to take the lemons she's been handed and make a hip flask of bourbon or something. She's also pretty genre-savvy about being a princess (this seems to be pre-existing, and not a part of her magic powers), but this just lets her get in trouble faster. Naturally. Reocmmended. $3.99 Kaijumax Season 2 #6: Oni Press - And thus, the second arc ends as all the best kaiju stories do, with involuntary orbital insertion and the deploying of citykiller weaponry. Prison dramas rarely end well for the prisoners, and kaiju movies rarely end well for the kaiju, so it's not exactly a spoiler to say that the ending isn't exactly uplifting. Other than the literal "punched into orbit" sense, of course. But it does address a number of important plot threads from the first season, as well as explain why Jin (an otherwise nice guy) goes so ballistic against kaiju. Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #48: IDW - Ted Anderson writes, Andy Price draws. A cosmic plot device personality-switches Discord, making him as staunch a defender of order as he once was of chaos. Naturally, this is a bad thing. And naturally, no one realizes it's a bad thing until it is too late. The script doesn't give Price much to work with, so there's a lot of background bits that are just side business...amusing, but not exactly serving the story. Guessing this is a three-parter, with the third part being oversized for #50. Mildly recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friends Forever #34: IDW - Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich get trapped (along with some children) in a magical house and have to figure out what its deal is if they're ever to escape. Despite the cover being an homage to "Weird Al in 3-D," I don't really feel that writer Zahler or artist Garbowska really take advantage of the guest star. In part because this is meant to be a story that's equal parts touching and scary, neither of which really fit Pinkie or Cheese. But it's also just hard to get Weird Al's persona across in a silent medium...Andy Price could probably pull it off (and maybe swapping artists on this month's pony books would have helped both), but this issue falls kinda flat. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Atomic Robo: the Temple of Od #4: IDW - This issue is all about clever plans blowing up in one's face, and I don't just mean Robo being stuffed in a bag full of dynamite. This is one of those places, though, where I'm particularly annoyed that IDW gives no indication on the actual comic of the size of a miniseries, because from the webcomic it feels like this might be 6 issues rather than the usual 5, making it hard to tell if this is really meant to be a penultimate chapter. Pacing matters. There are some good bits with Robo and the bandits, plus useful backstory for the no doubt doomed antagonist. Recommended. $3.99 Revolution #4 (of 5): IDW - Ah, fun with scale. Micronauts versus humans, humans versus Transformers, Transformers versus combiners, etc. Complete with a two page splash of everyone in a "scale can go hang" piece. Artist who I've never heard of Fico Ossio does a decent job with the humans and the action blocking, but his robot faces are basically human faces with some lines added, even moreso than Andrew Wildman's style was. As is practically mandatory for overblown company-wide crossovers (And Digimon Fusion), the apparent main villain of the piece is defeated by the REAL main villain, setting up the final issue to be a big slam-bang battle against an unstoppable etc etc etc. Mildly recommended, and that mostly for some decent fight scene blocking. $3.99 Revolution #5 (of 5): IDW - This issue is almost half roll call, as everyone shows up for the big slam-bang battle, Optimus threatens to turn himself around RIGHT NOW if everyone doesn't behave, and the nerds team up to save the day and awkwardly use the series title in dialogue. Ossio continues to deliver mostly decent art, but his Windblade goes from "off" to "disquietingly wrong." Well, at least it's over, although it continues into Revolutionaries. Mildly recommended. $3.99 The Transformers Till All Are One Revolution One-Shot: IDW - Windblade tries to use her Cityspeaker talents to connect to the Microverse and see what's up on that side of the crossover, only to get trapped in a plot device and tortured by Baron Karza's psycho wife as the anime tropes get turned up to 9000. The story parts of this could have been accomplished in a couple pages, the rest is long-winded internal monologue and torture scenes, and it feels like Scott didn't really want to even do this. Has very little impact on Revolution, or on the ongoing Till All Are One book (it's summed up in a single panel in TAAO #5). Neutral. $3.99 Transformers Till All Are One #5: IDW - After rapidly brushing aside the whole Revolution crossover and summing it up as "Maybe I shouldn't put so much faith in Optimus Prime," a plot thread from the end of More Than Meets The Eye gets picked up with a vengeance as the horde of zombie Titans arrives. This puts the ongoing political intrigue on hold in a pretty dramatic fashion, and the focus of the storyline shifts to Starscream: will he lead like a Prime, or run away and Unicron take the hindmost? On a side note, the regular cover features one of the most awkwardly pasted in faction symbols I've seen since the Infiltration miniseries. There's a few more paste-ins in the main book art, but they're not very obtrusive, mostly standing out because Pitre-Durocher's style is on the loose side and the pasted in symbols are slightly too crisp to fit in. Recommended. $3.99 The Four Color Comic Book History of Comics #1: IDW - This is the Comic Book Comics series that Van Lente and Dunleavy self-published under Evil Twin Comics imprint in 2008-2011, issues 1 and 5 of which got Best Book nods from me. But now they're in color (and not the four color process implied by the title either) with a few tweaks to production values here and there. Same core, nicer peel. So, if you missed that series or its TPB collection, you'll definitely want this. Even if you do have the original series, it's nicely colored, and worth picking up if you have the budget space. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "LEADERSHIP is about knowing the RIGHT people to KILL." - The Red Lion, Deathstroke #6