December 2012

Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and Awards

Intermittent 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, Still unemployed over the holidays, but at least I got some phone interviews. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Love and Capes: What to Expect #5 (of 6) In this installment: Love and Capes: What to Expect #5 (of 6), Transformers: ReGeneration One #85, Atomic Robo: Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #5 (of 5), Empowered Special "Hell Bent or Heaven Sent", DragonPro #1, Gold Digger v3 #143-144, Gold Digger X-Mas Special #6, Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #9, Young Justice #23. "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. 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 #5 (of 6): IDW - While the cover isn't literally "true", it's closer to honestly covering the story inside than most of the covers this series. To wit, it's a body-swap story, in which Mark gets to experience third trimester pregnancy and Abby has to readjust to having super-powers (Doc Karma did a power-swap on the couple as a gift a while back, so the first-timer stuff is out of the way). It's like all those wacky early Silver Age Superman stories, except with Lois being married to Clark already. :) Meanwhile, the Darkblade/Amazonia plotline gets resolved in this issue, perhaps unsurprisingly (especially given the character introduced earlier in the miniseries), but satisfyingly. This lets Zahler concentrate on the main plot for the finale. Strongly recommended. $3.99 at ComiXology. Transformers: ReGeneration One #84: IDW - Optimus Prime fights Megatron while Circuit Smasher tries to counter the doomsday deadman switch Megatron set up in order to "free" Optimus Prime from worrying about matter who wins, everyone dies, so fight to the finish. Eh. The problem is, "it ends now" fights between Megatron and Optimus Prime have been cliche for decades now. Even if it actually sticks in this continuity, there's a half dozen other versions of Megatron alive and well in other continuities. Kinda robs it of the drama. Especially since it once again comes down to "Optimus Prime won't kill a beaten foe because he's a superhero and not a soldier". Mind you, if anything, the conditions Megatron set up made it harder for Optimus to kill him, not easier, since there was no "only death can stop me" threat to even enter Prime's consideration. Just angsting over whether his own anger is enough reason to do it, or if he should die with a clean conscience. Yeah, I'm giving away more plot than I usually do, but it's not like anyone with even a passing familiarity with Transformers should be surprised at this. Drifting rapidly towards dropping this title. $1.99 at ComiXology. Atomic Robo: The Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #5 (of 5): Red 5 Comics - Big damn air battles as the seismic bomb gets ever closer to the California coast. Well-blocked and there's enough new characters who've gotten personalities over the past four issues that there's a genuine sense of menace...sure, Robo lives, but he could easily be a lone survivor of a furball like this. The last few pages involve the aftermath, and then a jump forward to the 1980s to catch up on the life of at least one of the new characters who made it through. Quite touching, really. (By the way, I don't have to be deliberately cagey about which character is being checked in on...I'm honestly not sure. I can narrow it down to two, one of which is a little more likely, but it might be that Clevinger and Speroni deliberately mixed some visual cues to introduce this uncertainty.) Recommended. $2.99 at ComiXology. Empowered Special "Hell Bent or Heaven Sent": Dark Horse - Well, I've broken my streak of having these in hardcopy. No local comic shop this time, and Hastings didn't order it. So I went for online. Dark Horse doesn't work through ComiXology, they have their own app using pretty much the same tech, but it does feel kinda like how I used to have to go to two different stores in order to be sure of getting all my comics. The story bounces between a B&W framing sequence/flashbacks drawn by Adam Warren and the main action tale drawn in color by Ryan Kinnaird. The tone is closer to the first volume stuff than later stories, because the in-depth character drama doesn't really work in one-shots. So it's more of a surface treatment of Emp's issues (and does a decent job of showing how she's a LOT less hindered by them than she used to be) mixed in with an exploration of one of the odder parts of Emp's world. Specifically, the fact that there's a sexually transmitted nanovirus out there that's responsible for more than a couple superhero origin stories. And the operating system doesn't adapt itself to the language of the infected. So it's a case of handing insanely powerful nanotech to a typical End User who mashes buttons until something acceptable happens. This also serves as a comparison to Emp's own supersuit, which likewise lacks instructions...but in her case it seems to be smart enough to avoid fatally disastrous outcomes. Embarrassing and mortifying it allows, of course, but Mechanismo's nanotech isn't quite as safe, it turns out. Also, Mechanismo seems to have bought the Praetorian content from City of Heroes and used it extensively in his body design. ;) On a purely technical note, while the iOS app uses the same guided view (TM) tech as ComiXology, the read-on-a-webpage system is far less user-friendly than ComiXology's. The pages don't let you resize them to suit, they're full size period. I did find a panel-zoom mode, but there's no option to see the entire page at once if the resolution makes the page taller than your monitor screen (which it does in my case). Sometimes you do want to just take in the layout of a full non-splash page. While it may not capture the tone of the main series, it's a good read on its own. Recommended. $3.99 at Note, I didn't drop Double Barrel, they simply took a month off. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Nothing this time. 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. DragonPro #1: Antarctic Press - So, AP was doing a Black Friday sale, and after grabbing all the new Gold Digger since my last order, I poked around to see if there was anything new to try out. I generally like Rod Espinosa's work, so I added this to my order. Meh. Really, it's an 8 page joke padded out to a full issue, and packed with cheesecake. It's not that Espinosa has never (Battle Girlz) done cheesecake before, but it's not really what I like about his art. It felt added on for the sake of having cheesecake, not because the gag required it. It's a good 8 page joke, mind you, but when I find the presence of well-drawn and under- dressed women in a story *annoying*, something is being done incorrectly. Very mildly recommended. $3.50 Gold Digger v3 #143-144: Antarctic Press - Lumping these together because it's more of a short epilogue to #142 and then a 1.5-issue-long single story. The epilogue sets up that the opening strike was merely that, an opening, and that Dreadwing's strategy seems to be focused on attrition for now, staying away until his opponents are broken. But D'bra's arc gets into high gear and she tries to use the second attrition assault (by Harry Potter parodies) to her advantage. Pretty good gambit/counter-gambit writing from Perry, and a bunch of other threads get spun out in the beginning of #143 for later fun. Recommended. $3.99 each. Gold Digger X-Mas Special #6: Antarctic Press - The opening story by Perry featuring two of Gina's students is pretty good, and the short bit by Will Terrell at the end was decent, but the middle Peebos getting humanoid bodies has a lot of potential, but it wasn't really used in their story (in fact, the story itself could have been done without the new bodies), Rosen's Krampus story didn't grab me (and I continue to find his art a poor fit for the characters), and Zicari and Dunn's "Night Before Christmas" pastiche was tiresome. Mildly recommended. $3.50 Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #9: Marvel - Well, the show is over, but the comic is continuing, at least for a while. Louise Simonson and Ramon Bachs contribute the lead story, in which Ms. Marvel and Thor team up (and one-up) to deal with an ancient alien autonomous war machine...okay, but really felt like it was plotted out first, and then characters found to fit it second. Jen Van Meter and Luciano Vecchio do another two-character focus story, this time Black Widow and Wasp. This one is a better character study than the lead story, highlighting the differences in the two while showing off the strengths of both. Mildly recommended. $2.99 Young Justice #23: DC - Thanks to Cartoon Network being poozers about the DC Nation block, this arc may actually get to finish up before we see another episode of the cartoon. Weisman juggles a LOT of plot threads in this issue, although as far as I'm concerned the most important one to the overall storyline is the revelation of how Lagoon Boy and Miss Martian ended up together. Kylstar's attempts at manually reprogramming his defective weapons were amusing, tho. Recommended. $2.99 Dave Van Domelen, "YOU ordered in pizza?" "Don't be absurd, Master Richard. I ordered the BOXES. I MADE the pies." - Dick Grayson and Alfred, Young Justice #23
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