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Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and AwardsThe 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. An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants Last Diamond shipment of the year, last chance to fix things. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None. 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 12/29/10: Invincible #72, Transformers Ironhide #4, Gorilla Man #2, Atlas #4, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update #3 (which I probably won't bother reviewing if it ever comes in), Guarding the Globe #1-2, Dynamo5 Sins of the Father #3, Science Dog #1, Chaos War #1, Taskmaster #2, Transformers Drift #4, Official Index to the Marvel Universe v2 #7, Tron Betrayal #2, Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #8, Chaos War Dead Avengers #1, Shadowland Power Man #4, Transformers Timelines G2 Redux and Gold Digger v3 #123, Hercules New Prince of Power TPB. No new books to add, and a bunch of the older stuff I had a friend pick up for me, they'll come off the list once I have 'em in hand. "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 week. Time-Shifting: Sometimes I get a comic a week or two late because of Diamond's combination of neglect and incompetence. If it's more than a week late, though, I won't review it unless it's very notable. Additionally, I will often get tradepaperbacks long after publication or even sometimes before Diamond ships them, and those will go here. If I'm reasonably sure I'm reviewing something that didn't ship this week, this is the section for it. Avengers the Ultimate Character Guide: Marvel/DK - I don't know when this came out, other than "fairly recently," I stumbled across it at Barnes & Noble. It's a hardcover book, 208 pages long, 204 of those pages being devoted to one-page guide entries to pretty much everyone who's been called an Avenger or a major Avengers foe, from Amadeus Cho to Yondu. The entries are fairly terse, and definitely pitched for a younger audience (i.e. Starfox is described as having had "close friendships" with many female superheroes), but it's a pretty well-made overview. They include a power rank bar but don't really explain what the numbers mean or how high they go, but the fact that Galactus is all 7s suggests the scale is 1-7. :) It's odd that Firestar has a higher energy projection rating (7) than Firelord does (5), these might be numbers taken from Marvel.com's fan voting. Obviously, when Spider-Man and Cloud 9 both get the same amount of space, there's going to be problems, but within that restriction it's a pretty good reference. Recommended. $16.99/$19.99Cn. [Later notes: One big flaw is a total lack of art credits. Granted, just listing them in small type would take a few pages, but still. Also, I am amused that it calls Morgan le Fey the aunt of Mordred, sidestepping the whole incestuous element of Mordred's parentage. Technically, she IS his aunt, but also his mother.] New Comics: Comics and comic collections that I got this week and were actually supposed to be out this week, as far as I can tell. These reviews will generally be spoiler-free, but the occasional bit will slip in. Transformers Sector 7 #4 (of 5): IDW - Turns out that what Midtown had listed last week was *just* the retailer incentive cover, so this is actually on time. Set in WWII, the story advances to the next generation of the Simmons family in a sort of Sgt. Rock tale but with a much higher mortality rate for the good guys (and replace War Wheel with reverse-engineered Cybertronian tech). It does in many ways feel like a deliberate attempt to take those old fantastic WWII stories and make them more "realistic," by which I mean more deadly and horrific. Lou Kang goes with pretty standard comic art, no stylistic filips to make it hard to follow (or outright messes like Jae Lee's WWII TFs). Recommended. $3.99 DC Comics Presents THUNDER Agents 100-Page Spectacular: DC - This perfect-bound but still kinda floppy collection reprints #1, #2 and #7 of the original THUNDER Agents series from 1966 (actually, I think it's just the Menthor story from #7, not all of that issue). THUNDER Agents is one of those properties that looms a lot larger in the fannish lore than its actual newsstand impact would suggest. Every few years, someone announces or even launches a revival, but so far none have lasted. And, frankly, I wasn't exactly intrigued by what I saw of DC's revival, which is why I haven't been getting it. But I never did read the full copies of these original issues, hence ordering the 100-Page Spectacular. The stories, despite their age, hold up rather well, building a fairly complete world in the space of two oversized issues (although the jump from #2 to #7 is pretty jarring, since a bunch more world-building happened between those issues). Recommended. $7.99 Widowmaker #2 (of 4): Marvel - The cover image of Black Widow playing dominatrix with Ronin on a leash is either a major spoiler or runs counter to the situation as seen in #1 (and is just there because someone wanted a bit of BDSM sneaked in). That aside, the main action is a deliberately confusing fight scene in which many of the participants aren't what they seem, but the writer doesn't seem too clear on when they figure it out, as if he lost his notes halfway though. Swierczynski is not up to the task of telling a muddle like this properly, unfortunately, and it shows the seams in the storytelling. The change in art also makes it blatant that this was originally a crossover rather than a mini. When you come down to it, almost nothing happens here that you'll need to know in order to follow #3, except maybe two pages' worth. Neutral. $3.99 Spider-Girl #2: Marvel - Wow, talk about thematic whiplash. #1 was mainly about how cool it can be to be a superhero, despite the danger. How Spider-Girl had the sort of supportive family that teen supers rarely have, didn't need to hide her activities from her father, and if there'd been setbacks in the past she was still seeing things through a positive lens. This issue is about none of these things. It's all about cost and loss and pain and turning Spider-Girl into yet another Haunted Hero. Even the scene at the end, which pulls Anya out of her tailspin, doesn't change the fact that a lot of what made the character interesting to me just got tossed into the trashcan. I have enough faith in Tobin's writing that I'm not immediately dropping the book, but it just dropped WAY down in my estimation. Tying it in with the stupid Red Hulk thing (which I now know about thanks to OHOTMU, and find utterly uninteresting) is just twisting the knife. $2.99 Awards: "And Yes, Squirrel Girl Defeated Thanos, It Says So Right Here" Award to Avengers the Ultimate Character Guide "Jetfeuer Ist Veraergert, Ja?" Award to Transformers Sector 7 #4 (of 5) "Poor Menthor Doesn't Even Get To Be On The Cover" Award to DC Comics Presents THUNDER Agents 100-Page Spectacular "Of Course, Just Because Natasha Recognizes Him Doesn't Mean He's Ever Appeared In A Comic Before" Award to Widowmaker #2 (of 4) "Fail Whale" Award to Spider-Girl #2 Dave Van Domelen, not a particularly quoteable week, although I was amused by the gigantic computer in THUNDER Agents that was nonetheless easily tipped over to become a fatal threat.
Retrograde on back to the December 2010 Page.