August 15, 2007

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.
Happy 38th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!  Rants, Capsules can be found on my 
   (Okay, the anniversary is the 16th, and I doubt they read this, but....) 

First Look Comments:

     Books I read over the weekend as First Looks, but didn't buy, so can't
really say much in detail about.  DC has stopped having First Looks, so it's
just Marvel and Image...and there's word that Diamond doesn't want to bother
with the program at all anymore.

     Books for next week - 

     Amazing Spider-Man #543: Marvel - Depending on how you look at it, the
cover is either deceptive or symbolic, but at least it has something to do
with the story inside.  :)  The story itself is okay, but not compelling.
     The Immortal Iron Fist #8: Marvel - It's martial arts tournament time,
so expect flashbacks to Dragonball.  :)  Speaking of flashbacks, we get to
see more about Danny's dad's life.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
     Thunderbolts #116: Marvel - Well, pretty much same old Ellis Tbolts
stuff.  And a powerful teke trolling for them.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
     The Order #2: Marvel - Some good stuff on top of a premise that still
fails to grab me.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
     Annihilation: Conquest Starlord #2 (of 4): Marvel - Run and gun, with
some good banter and plenty of pointless death.  Mildly recommended.

     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.

     Legion of Super-Heroes Happy Meal Toys: Mano and Lightning Lad:
McDonald's - I did have to argue a bit with the McEmployee to get both, they
don't all seem to be aware that there's more than one toy in the set, so as
soon as they grab one they figure that's it.  Just fair warning.  Mano poses
a challenge, given that these have to be molded from a single piece of opaque
plastic, and his head does look a little wrong as a result.  He also has a
very square butt.  However, his mini-diorama is good (he's giving Superman a
smack, although absent the scenery his pose looks more like a "NOT IN THE
FACE!" sort of cringing), and this is one of the few figures capable of
standing on their own.  Mano is also notable for having no text on the back
of his "book", since it wouldn't make sense to put the Legion oath on his,
and the Fatal Five don't have a similar bit of phrasing.  The spine of his
book has a "5" instead of an individual symbol like the Legionnaires have, so
expect Tharok and Validus to have 5's as well.  Lightning Lad is another
flying pose guy, and there's some sloppy paint application on mine.  Also,
despite the art showing his pupils, they decided to go with the blank eye
look on the toy.  Oddly, LL's base plastic color is black rather than dark
blue, and there's no highlighting in blue either.  Still, both are just a
buck each, worth snagging if you can avoid having to argue too much with
McCounterpeople for 'em.  (For reference, Lightning Lad is #3 on the baggie,
Mano is #4.)
     Fantastic Four: What Lies Between: Marvel Press/Pocket Star - Okay, this
came out a few weeks ago, but I didn't even start reading it until my
conference in NC (I tend to stockpile books in advance of travel), and then
didn't finish it before getting home, so it took a while to finish off.
Anyway, the main problem with this novel is the set of limitations that Peter
David had to work within...mainly the fact that he can't really make any
permanent changes, or even long-term changes (as he might if there was going
to be a trilogy or open-ended series in the offing).  So the reader knows
that various new plot elements will have to go away in some form, and while
there's still plenty of leeway in how they're made to go away, it casts some
of the plots in a bit of a downer light.  Within the limits, PAD does a
pretty good job, including casting doubt on which of two competing pictures
of reality is correct in the midgame.  Recommended.  $7.99/$9.99Cn
     Doctor Strange Animated Movie: Marvel/Lionsgate - As long as I'm already
going nuts with "other media" stuff, why not toss in the movie?  I picked up
the regular edition rather than either of the store exclusive bonus packs I
spotted.  Wal-Mart offered a pack-in mini-sized version of Illuminati #1, and
Target offered a CDROM with...Illuminati #1.  Bleh.  Yeah, just what you want
to pack in with a fresh new look at Doctor Strange: a tangled mess of the
original being turned into a villain.  Extras on all versions include "best
of" Marvel video game cinematics (aka cutscenes, from Ultimate Alliance and
X-Men Legends II), a featurette on Strange, a preview of "Avengers Reborn"
(sort of "children of Ultimate Avengers" meets "Go Teen Titans"), and some
other odds and ends.  Anyway, the retold origin stays fairly close to the
classic, but with the addition of an immediate mystic threat foreshadowing
(and replacing "drunk driving" with "mystically induced hallucination
freakout" to tie more closely into this threat).  I kinda like that Wong
starts out the leader of a sort of magical Sentai team (complete with
summonable swords, the obligatory female member, the hot-headed warrior who
chafes under authority...who happens to be named Mordo so you know he'll go
far).  Pretty good animation and voice acting.  Kinda a high body count,
though.  Overall, the story worked well, and while the ending was on the deus
ex magickae side, it was foreshadowed adequately.  Recommended.  $12.34
opening week at Wal-Mart, $15 or so most places otherwise.
     Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #23: Marvel - PAD resolves his
remaining big thread here, and while nothing is really sealed with a bow in
terms of long term plots, it IS a good short term resolution and catharsis.
Recommended.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
     Spider-Man Family #4: Marvel - Okay, I'm a sucker for Agents of Atlas
apperances.  And Parker and Kirk don't may not seem to fit
into Spider-Man's continuity, but it's firmly after the AoA miniseries.  And
the interplay among characters is great.  There's also a new (I think)
Eliopolous (the guy who does the Franklin Richards backups) story featuring
the Puppet Master in a somewhat "awwwww" tale.  The rest of the book is
reprints: Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #1, Amazing Spider-Man #178 (an odd
choice, since it is in the middle of a story), and a Spider-Man J piece
(manga in which Spider-Man J seems to be a kid whose parents work with Peter
Parker).  SMJ is kinda weird, even for a manga version.  A bit steep if you
want it just for the new stuff, but a decent 104 page package.  Recommended.
     Aquaman Sword of Atlantis #55: DC - Williams definitely has a handle on
the pacing now, plenty of stuff happens without feeling like any of it is
getting a short shrift.  And numerous questions are answered, notably about
Sub Diego.  Plus, Williams is pretty good at writing Vandal Savage.  :)
McManus's art is a little weird in places, and doesn't seem to suit Savage,
but is good in the broad strokes.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     The Brave and the Bold #6: DC - Well, I probably should have seen the
Big Reveal coming, but even if I had, it was pulled off great.  Waid does get
a little over-indulgent with the "yes, you know there will be a use of the
Cosmic Reset Button" stuff, but I suspect some of it was quite cathartic.
Especially what he did to Brainy.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Booster Gold v2 #1: DC - The tagline on the cover is, "The greatest hero
the world has never known."  This suggests a sort of JLU take on the
character...but that's not what happens (although at first it seems like it
might).  Johns and Katz set up a fairly elegant "have your cake and eat it
too" solution to let them write Booster they way they want without worrying
about how other writers might treat him.  There's definitely promise here,
and Skeets is as obsequiously snarky as ever.  Recommended.  $3.50/$4.25Cn
     tcapwodahS, er, Shadowpact #16: DC - Zatanna reversing the logo caused
some "fun" with the store trying to sort the book.  Oddly, the invoice had it
under C, probably because the T is easy to miss in their font.  The story
inside is combination of continued Doctor Gotham fight scene and rescue ops,
with a few asides to deal with Blue Devil's situation (which I like the
developments in).  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Ninja High School #152: Antarctic Press - The other side of the day seen
in #151, with a few pages here and there repeated exactly, which was a bit or
a weird experience.  I kept wondering if I'd accidentally bought the same
issue twice.  :)  Anyway, while a clear Bleach homage, it does have the
advantage of a pre-existing non-Bleach plot element to draw on (and that
Bevard has used before in NHS-Hawaii).  Recommended.  $2.99/$4.05Cn 
     Gold Digger v3 #88: Antarctic Press - Time to go back to the
dungeoncrawl thread.  Well, the dungeondrive thread, at least for this
issue.  And, of course, what sort of dungeon would it be without a kobold
ambush?  Perry's kobolds are significantly less cute than most, though.  And
more dangerous.  For the most part, a straightforward fight scene with
negative consequences, but there's one small bit with Brianna that may or may
not have been intended to reveal something important.  It can be hard to tell
sometimes what Perry thinks is a blatant reveal and what's supposed to be a
tiny clue anymore.  :)  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.45Cn
     Dynamo5 #6: Image - After an initial standoff, the story splits three
ways, and everyone in each thread generally acts in a believable and more or
less rational (where relevant) manner.  A fair amount of infodump happens,
reasonably smoothly, but it's definitely a talky sort of issue.  And Chekov's
gun gets fired.  Recommended.  $3.50/$3.70Cn (the Loonie's catching up!)

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 8/15:

     Still missing and might come in: Fallen Angel #15, Transformers
Timelines (wasn't available on the retailer order form in the first place!).
Add Fallen Angel #18, which apparently was what was on the invoice last week
but didn't ship.
     Cancelled by Diamond (again): Dr. Debunko: the Short Stories, Devil's
Panties #7-8.


"Talk To The Hand" Award to McLegion toys

"It's An Ugly Life" Award to Fantastic Four: What Lies Between

"Where's The Mystic Titan Megazords?" Award to Doctor Strange DVD

"My Name Is Jonah, I Live On The Second Floor" Award to Friendly Neighborhood
     Spider-Man #23

"Trust Your Car To The Gorilla With The Star" Award to Spider-Man Family #4

"And It's Not Dolphin-Safe Tuna In That Sandwich" Award to Aquaman Sword of
     Atlantis #55

"Reading Is Fundamentally Dangerous" Award to the Brave and the Bold #6

"Inordinately Fond Of Beetles" Award to Booster Gold v2 #1

"In Loco Parentis" Award to Shadowpact #16

"Actually, Those Are PANDA Bears" Award to Ninja High School #152

"Meerp?" Award to Gold Digger v3 #88

     Dave Van Domelen, "Why is everything being reduced to undergarments
tonight?" - Suzume, Ninja High School #152
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