December 4, 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.
Not as light a week as I thought it'd be.  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.

     Wolverine: Election Day: Pocket Star Books - Like a lot of Marvel
novels, this exists in a sort of "not quite Earth-616" setting, to the extent
that while all the stuff starts as being able to fit into 616, the story
itself isn't acknowledged by the comics, making this a divergence.  (Speaking
of not quite fitting, while the painted cover is nicely dynamic, I'm pretty
sure it rarely snows that deeply in Washington D.C. in early November.)  It's
a pretty good read, and I had no trouble reading most of it in one sitting
yesterday (got about 80 pages in the day before, but was kinda busy and
couldn't give it much time).  The law of character conservation does make
certain plot twists a bit obvious, although PAD's tendency to bury easter
eggs cast a little doubt on some of the otherwise-obvious bits.  He also
managed to work in one of his recurring things, the thought processes of
sharks.  The ending is a bit disappointing, in that we get the equivalent of
those video game cut scenes where you get to see but not actually fight the
final boss, leaving things open for the villain's reuse.  Recommended.

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): None

     Transformers Timelines #3: FP Comics - I am astonished!  Diamond
actually shipped this one, more or less on time!  I never did get last year's
through Diamond.  The story picks up directly from...somewhere else.  It
never says where, and it's not Timelines #2 (I did finally get a CBR of that,
and doublechecked it just now).  Maybe something in the Collectors' Club
magazine, which I don't get.  [Later note: I've had this confirmed.
Cliffjumper chased the clear-plastic Club Exclusive toys through a plot hole,
and while they landed in the main Club setting, Cliffy got dumped in
Shattered Glass.]  Anyway, how Cliffjumper got into the Shattered Glass
universe isn't too important, as the story mainly focuses on how he deals
with being there (in and among the worldbuilding infodumps).  Figueroa's art
is pretty good, and Ben Yee's story is okay, burdened by a G1-like need to
trot all the toys on-camera in one issue (for those who don't follow TF
fandom, most of the characters in here were BotCon 2008 convention exclusive
toys).  [Later note: the story continues in Club-Exclusive text stories.]
There's also character data pages for evil porn-stache Rodimus and heroic
Starscream.  But what really makes this issue worth picking up is the
inclusion of the three page April Fool's gag "leaked preview" of the
Shattered Glass story, by M "Insert Quip Here" Sipher and Trent Troop.  Tally
ho!  Recommended.  $4.95
     Transformers Animated The Arrival #5: IDW - Eh, fairly weak issue.  The
lead story treads pretty familiar ground and doesn't really spend enough time
on it to go past the cliche.  The much longer second story with art by Boo
(ick) takes place during the first Lockdown episode and milks a gag rather
too long.  Reversing the relative pagecounts of these might have helped.
Neutral.  $3.99 (I got Cover B)
     Marvel Zombies 3 #3 (of 4): Marvel - This issue is fairly evenly split
between Aaron fighting zombies and various zombies explaining the Big Plan
(most of which was fairly obvious as soon as Morbius was revealed last
issue).  Jocasta gets a couple of pages to angst, though.  Mildly
recommended, mainly for Aaron's clever carnage.  $3.99
     She-Hulk: Cosmic Collision One-Shot: Marvel - A fairly thin premise, but
it works to get a bunch of female heroes together and let them interact for a
bit before fighting a Big Damn Menace, tying in somewhat to PAD's Captain
Marvel run.  Asrar's art is pretty good for this, although I don't much like
his version of the prime mover of the plot.  Plenty of cute dialogue, such as
when Jaz is introduced to Phyla-Vell.  PAD also demonstrates that he could do
a good Guardians of the Galaxy should A&L leave.  Recommended.  $3.99
     Amazing Spider-Man #579: Marvel - Fairly simple plot, "escape the trap
while chatting to keep everyone's mind off impending doom."  Waid does a good
job with it, while also advancing a few subplots for other writers to play
with.  Recommended.  $2.99
     Justice Society of America #21: DC - Lots of fighting and referring back
to (supposedly) interesting things that happened in various Kingdom one-shots
in the past week or two.  So much carnage that you know there's gonna be a
reset button of some sort.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99
     Ninja High School #165: Antarctic Press - Well, the issue title is
"Finale", but it's more of a penultimate issue.  Things get a bit confusing
as everyone's fighting Yuudai and appearances are occasionally changing (for
a panel or two I thought Super-Saiyan Yuudai was actually Ricky, for
instance).  The Two Ricky mystery is resolved, at least.  In an interesting
format choice, the frontispiece splash is reproduced with color as the rear
non-flip alternate cover.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn
     Gold Digger v3 #101: Antarctic Press - Cute cover copy, a burst
proclaiming "101st Issue!" but with the "10" really tiny.  We get a Three
Year Gap after the events of #100, which I suppose works fine since the past
three years realtime of the comic probably fit into a few months.  :)  The
returning on-screen cast is pared down to just Gina and Brit, with a half
dozen or so new archaeology-heroes introduced along with a new villain or
two.  Well, okay, three returning characters, but Gespie is new enough that I
don't really think of him as returning cast in the same way as, say, Charlie
or Genn would be.  :)  In a few places it tries maybe a little too hard to be
a Jumping On Point, but it's not like excessive exposition is out of
character for Gina.  In fact, LACK of excessive exposition is out of
character for Gina.  Recommended.  $2.99 US/Cn
     I Hate Gallant Girl #1 (of 3): Image - This is an interesting concept
let down by a few problems in the execution.  First the concept, courtesy of
Jim Valentino.  This is an "old growth" superhero universe, and Gallant Girl
is a sort of a cross between Wonder Woman and Miss, not the
Invaders heroine, the pageant queen.  Every ten years, there's a pageant and
a new Gallant Girl is chosen to join the nation's elite superhero team, the
Fellowship of Freedom.  Renee Tempete, the protagonist, grew up wanting to be
Gallant Girl, confident that her elemental powers would let her win when she
was old enough.  Of course, given the title, it's not surprising she doesn't
win.  And the winner is a bimbo who barely has powers beyond filling out the
costume.  So Renee is caught in a potential "Singing in the Rain" situation,
but a veteran hero (who is not fully named in the actual of those
execution things I mentioned, I know know his full codename thanks to the
editor's page teasers thing on the inside back cover...this is also the only
place in the actual book that it's made clear this is a 3 issue series, which
I suppose at least puts this a step ahead of IDW) gives her a chance to do
something else.  
     Interesting premise, and aside from a few minor mistakes like the name
thing, scripter Kat Cahill does a good job with it.  But the art by Seth
Damoose is a problem.  Oh, it's good in general, and he's a competent visual
storyteller.  But based on the scripting, Renee is supposedly unattractive
and at least a little hefty (one character calls her a "troll", although he's
not exactly reliable...but even a more reliable character admits she fails on
the physical beauty standard).  But in the art, she at *worst* gives up a cup
size on the actual Gallant Girl, and is slimmer in the hips...the costume
would have to be taken in, not out as stated.  She's shorter, and brunette
rather than blonde, but otherwise looks nearly as attractive as Gallant Girl.
There is, in fact, a striking mirror image layout in the scene transition
between Renee and Gallant Girl that shows they could almost be twins.  
     Sure, there's probably some "glasses ugly" going on here (i.e. put
makeup and nicer clothing on Renee and she no longer looks frumpy), but I had
a hard time believing that everyone in the book would accept that Renee
wasn't good-looking enough to be Gallant Girl.  (And yes, this is going on a
lot longer than my usual reviews, but I got this issue on Wednesday so it was
the only book I had to review that day.)  Anyway, I've added this to my pull
on the strength of the story and the potential it has, but I hope the artist
does a better job of showing why Renee fails to meet the GG ideal other than
being a brunette (all seven previous ones had been blonde).  Recommended.
     I Hate Gallant Girl #2 (of 3): Image - The main theme of this issue is
that there's rot at the core of the Fellowship, something not terribly
surprising for a team that's been around for several generations.  Cahill
does a pretty good job of keeping it up in the air who exactly is dirty,
though, only confirming at the very end which side of the equation is
negative.  I actually think this would have been a stronger issue if they'd
left off the last couple of pages and let the reader stew for a month over
the possibility that they'd figured wrong on who the villain was, though.
The art continues to not show a whole lot of difference between Gallant Girl
and Tempest (yeah, she just happened to get a press-assigned codename that
was the English translation of her given last name, although I suppose Blue
Thunder could have slipped the codename to a tame reporter in advance).  A
friend pointed out the other week that this story could easily fit into the
Empowered universe, and those parallels get even stronger this issue.  But
without anyone ending up in bondage (sorry, certain types of Emp fan).
Recommended.  $3.50 (Aside: the cover for #3 is shown on the back cover, and
it hasn't been corrected to replace "Galaxy Gal" with the final name "Gallant

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 12/4: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe
#21, Love & Capes TPB.


"Sharks Are Shockingly Ill-Read" Award to Wolverine: Election Day

"Cut The Jibba-Jabba!" Award to Transformers Timelines #3

"You Can't Teach A Sneech" Award to Transformers Animated the Arrival #5

"Fatal Stack Error" Award to Marvel Zombies 3 #3 (of 4)

"Who Knew?" Award to She-Hulk: Cosmic Collision

"And Starring In 1984 The Musical..." Award to Amazing Spider-Man #579

"Root Of All Evil?" Award to Justice Society of America #21

"Captain Katana II?" Award to Ninja High School #165

"Self-Aware, Gendered Gloves Are SUCH A Bad Idea" Award to Gold Digger v3

"That Same Month, Fifty Caped Children Plummetted To Their Dooms" Award to
     I Hate Gallant Girl #1 (of 3)

"But Will She Win A Capey?" Award to I Hate Gallant Girl #2 (of 3)

     Dave Van Domelen, "Mantis tends to do that.  You get USED to it.  Or at
least I'm TOLD you do.  Actually, it still pisses ME off royally." - Gamora,
She-Hulk: Cosmic Collision
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