December 2014

Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et Cetera

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, Due to construction down the hall, the heat is OFF in my office. Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Transformers More than Meets the Eye #36. In this installment: Nova Phase #4, Batman: the Jiro Kuwata Batmanga vol 1, Q2: the Return of Quantum & Woody #3 (of 5), Gold Digger #216, Astro City #18, Deadpool's Art of War #3 (of 4), Ms. Marvel #10, Ragnarok #3, Transformers #36, Transformers More than Meets the Eye #36, My Little Pony Equestria Girls Holiday Special 2014, My Little Pony Friends Forever #12, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #26. "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 time. 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. Nova Phase #4: Slave Labor Graphics - The Macguffin finally gets explained, and last issue's awkward "why the alien babes have big breasts" plot device is fortunately ignored. The story gave me a few "Wait, who is that, and what's their motivation?" moments that might not have been so bad if I was reading #1-4 all at once, but were awkward for a serial installment. Still, I'm interested enough to see where it goes next. Mildly recommended. $0.99 at ComiXology. Trades: Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here. Batman: the Jiro Kuwata Batmanga vol 1: DC - The first 19 chapters (the digital release is already up to the mid-20s). You can definitely tell this was something done in the wake of the Adam West show, but at the same time it's by no means a copy of the show. For one thing, the license only seems to have included Batman, Robin, and their civilian IDs. Maybe a few supporting characters. But all the villains are new, and there's more of an Astro Boy or 8 Man (unsurprising given that Kuwata co-created 8 Man) feel of facing international spy rings and criminal conspiracies in addition to the outlandish villains like Lord Death Man. One oddball exception is Go Go the Magician, who's basically Weather Wizard with a new name. They helpfully number the panels for cases where the right-to-left flow is unclear (or the artist just made an iffy layout), and translate the sound effects as subtitles instead of trying to write over them as some manga translations have done. Recommended for the sheer weirdness of the cultural mashup. $14.99/$17.99Cn Floppies: No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? Q2: The Return of Quantum & Woody #3 (of 5): Valiant - This is the "things go to hell" part of the story. Stories. Three separate timeframes hit low points in this issue. Young Woody becomes a fugitive, 1990s Woody has his falling out with Eric, and the wheels start to come off present-day Eric's plans because of, well, Woody. For the most part, the uneven art from Bright didn't get in the way of the story, although there was one transition that I initially thought was to a dream sequence because it felt so off, visually. (Transition from the first to second page of the "Party of Two" scene, in case you're wondering.) This issue doesn't really stand on its own very well, although I'm told the script was oroiginally written as a GN rather than a miniseries, so that's gonna happen. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Gold Digger #216: Antarctic Press - As often happens on this book, the cover is really more appropriate for next issue, as the implied rematch doesn't start until the final page. :) This is more of a worldbuilding infodump issue, as the origins of the Living Statues are explored and a villain gets a chance to shift into the "more or less friendly rival" column. Not really a good issue to jump in on, this is of more interest to longtime readers, since it fills in a number of mysteries that a new reader wouldn't know about anyway. Mildly recommended. $3.99 Astro City #18: DC/Vertigo - This starts off as a "we're getting too old for this" sort of story, with Crackerjack and Quarrel (the Rule 63'd Hawkeye and Mockingbird of the setting) having aged in real time and well into middle age. But the meat of the issue is Quarrel's backstory, growing up as the daughter of a small time supervillain and learning to use his gear to redeem the name. Combined, the two parts of the story feel like they're leading up to Quarrel finding a protege to carry on the name, and the story is To Be Continued, after all. Recommended. $3.99 Deadpool's Art of War #3 (of 4): Marvel - Aside from the somewhat forced-feeling Avengers movie references, this was a fun romp. The sort of Big Damn Brawl that used to be able to happen fairly often *without* requiring a 30-book crossover and 8 issue bookend series. It may be a touch bloodier than Jack & Stan would have done, but Peter David and Scott "Not Sal Buscema But A Credible Copy" Koblish capture the feel of 1960s Marvel pretty well here. Recommended. $3.99 Ms. Marvel #10: Marvel - The penultimate part of the Inventor arc! Why end the plot on #11? Well, there was sort of a #0, so it's still a year-long story, so that works. The sociopolitical messaging is a touch heavy-handed, but certainly fits with where the book has been all along. One of the side effects of the eternally sliding timescale is that there's an ever- increasing number of "new kids" wedged in under the not-very-old old guard, and Ms. Marvel is the strongest example of the current crop of n00bs. (The original New Warriors debuted almost 15 years ago, most of them are now considered grownups...or are dead.) Anyway, Kamala manages to level up this issue in that she manages to do the "Superheroes inspire people" bit, but then because inspiration doesn't help normal people much against giant mecha, she goes back to the "Superheroes hit stuff" bit for a while. ;) Recommended. $2.99 Ragnarok #3: IDW - I still find it strange that Simonson has decided to go with "long blonde hair" Thor in this book, rather than the more mythologically standard redhead. The lack of beard can be excused by the lack of lower jaw, at least. Yes, the protagonist of #1 is dead, and now we have the adventures of zombie Thor in the post-apocalyptic Nine Worlds. If this is planned as a closed series, I can certainly see Thor helping end the twilight and bring on the dawn of the new world (the original protagonist's husband and child could end up becoming the first new mortals, I suppose). Also, Ratatosk has a speaking role, which is always a plus. Recommended. $3.99 Transformers #36: IDW - Wow, talk about your Shaggy Dog story. Or Scruffy Human story, in this case. While some of the subplots get served, this is mostly a chase through city and countryside as Prowl pursues Spike Witwicky, Galvatron pursues Spike Witwicky, and other Autobots try to keep either of the previous from making Witwicky puree. While I won't give away the plot twist, I think we can add another schtick to "flips tables" on Prowl's wiki entry: he really sucks at communicating his intentions. This is, what, the third "Prowl's gone off the reservation!" plot since Dark Cybertron? And the last couple ended with Prowl having A Plan and being in complete control of his actions. I think Barber's going back to the "Hey, he was controlled by the Decepticons for a while, no one trusts him" well a little too often. Mildly recommended. $3.99 (annoyingly, the price was on the back, and my store bags and boards everything) Transformers More than Meets the Eye #36: IDW - After last month's timey-wimey story, this is a fairly straightforward time travel tale, with the Lost Light crew traveling back to the time when pre-Prime Orion Pax was a rebel on the run from Zeta Prime. Through some handwaving (well, hand-clasping) jiggerypokery they avoid contaminating the timeline while potentially being an instrumental part of their own timeline, or not. Even they're not sure what the slag is going on with this time travel stuff. Probably the best part of the issue, though, is when Megatron-in-the-future uses a time phone (don't ask) to have a chat with Orion. It's only two pages, but it's definitely the heart of this issue. Strongly recommended. $3.99 (also on the back) My Little Pony Equestria Girls Holiday Special 2014: IDW - This is essentially an adaptation of one of the cartoon episodes, but set in the Equestria Girls world and with Sunset Shimmer taking the brunt of the unintended consequences. I thought Ted Anderson did a good job of ramping up the stakes and the problems, so that even though the other girls are willing to give Sunset the benefit of the doubt, eventually even they give up on her. (Hard to say if this is set before or after the main action of Rainbow Rocks, while the opening scene with the Sirens was contemporaneous with the end of the first movie, some time had to have passed before the Sirens came to Canterlot High. The willingness to see the worst in Sunset makes more sense if this story happens before the battle of the bands, though.) There's also a pretty good After School Special sort of message about cyberbullying. Recommended. $7.99 [Correction: the use of the diary to communicate with Twilight Sparkle places this firmly post-Rainbow Rocks.] My Little Pony Friends Forever #12: IDW - Pinkie Pie needs Twilight Sparkle's help to keep from over-indulging in a devilishly sweet dessert that's only available once a year, and which even Pinkie's super-stomach can't endure. Hijinx ensue. An amusing bit of fluff from Barbara Kesel and Brenda Hickey. Recommended. $3.99 My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #26: IDW - Cook and Price's homage to 1930s cowboy comedy serials concludes, with all sorts of goofy plans and more Blazing Saddles references. They don't build a fake Rock Ridge, but they do plot to move the bulls' camp over the property line to invalidate their squatter's rights. Yes, the "why doesn't Twilight magic up a solution" excuse does come across a bit forced, but no more so than a serial's lawman saying, "No, I can't just arrest 'em, Jimmy, they ain't done nothin' wrong yet." As a MLP story, it's a bit awkward. But as an homage to the old matinee stuff, it works pretty well. It did leave a rather big dangler, and I wonder if Cook plans to pick up on it later. Recommended. $3.99 Dave Van Domelen, "Although some friends could have done it without the locks and chains. I worry about you, Twilight." - Pinkie Pie, MLP:Friends Forever #12
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