August 29, 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.
Oh joy, ragweed pollen is back  in force.  Rants, Capsules can be found on my 

     (Note: neither local McD's had this week's new Legion toys available.  I
suspect their managers have the new boxes locked up until the old toys sell
through, since I know other areas have 'em.)  (Correction: turns out the
promotion ends this week, so half the set didn't ship to my area at all.
That McD's sucks should surprise no one.)

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 - 

     Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin #1 (of 6): Marvel - Nice art deco cover, at
least.  This is a retelling and/or retconning of the first overt clash
between Iron Man and the Mandarin.  I suppose that with Ellis moving IM's
origin to Afghanistan that took Mandarin out as the puppetmaster behind the
warlord (as retconned IN during the 90s).  Casey's story is okay, and
Canete's art tolerable, but nothing to inspire me to buy it.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
     Amazing Spider-Man #544: Marvel - One More Day part 1, with semi-retro
cover layout.  Okay story, although it does no more than hint at what the arc
title portends.  Ends on a revised OHOTMU entry for Spidey.  $3.99/4.75Cn
     Ms. Marvel #19: Marvel - Aaron Stack continues to steal the show.  Oh, I
suppose the plot is interesting enough, but it's Aaron's interaction with it
that makes this book worth reading.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
     New Warriors #4: Marvel - A little closer to the Night Thrasher mystery,
but this is mostly about Sofia and a couple of fight scenes.  A decent read
all told, though.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
     She-Hulk v2 #21: Marvel - Slott wraps up his run and takes an en passant
shot at a hoary host of continuity fubars along the way.  The story itself
gets a bit lost in the chatter and speed to wrap up, but it's all good.
Strongly recommended.  $2.99/$3.75Cn

     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): Arsenic
Lullaby Pulp Edition, Rod Espinosa Masterworks Collection

     Fall of Cthulhu #5: Boom Studios - Well, the arc is over, and about as
much of a downer as one could expect from a non-goofy Mythos tale.  All in
all, it was okay, but I think I'll be calling it quits on this title,
assuming that there's going to be a #6.  Other than a few pages of Dreamlands
each issue, it really hasn't been grabbing me.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
     Fallen Angel #19: IDW - The Shi guest stint wraps up, with a running
fight scene with shifting sides and loads of theological argument.  Shi
avoids coming across as one of the blindly faithful, but Liandra sounds like
a bitter teenager most of the time.  Which, in the scheme of things, she may
well be.  Woodard's art is deliberately murky as befits the land of the dead
revealed as such, but it did tend to put a damper on the action.  Mildly
recommended.  $3.99
     Transformers Spotlight #9 (Optimus Prime): IDW - A number of familiar
names show up here, with new backstories.  This is only nominally Prime's
spotlight, though...he's practically an observer for much of it, and the
listener to someone else's tale for other bits.  His main contribution is to
angst about it all.  The main purpose of the tale seems to be establishing
that the great Autobot leaders of the mythical past weren't necessarily all
that pure and noble, something that Megatron: Origin is doing with what
amounts to the bronze age of Cybertron.  Furman seems dedicated to showing
that Optimus Prime really is the best, most noble leader that the Autobots
have ever had, regardless of what Optimus himself may have thought.  The
backup story is a preview chunk for Devastation (hmmmm, given one of the plot
devices in this Spotlight, I wonder what character might be appearing at the
climax of the next main-story arc?).  There's also a couple of sketchbook
pages from Figueroa, showing some of his Prime designs.  Nova Prime is sort
of like Hero Prime in the cab and Laser Prime in the trailer, made all
organic and rounded.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99 (I got Cover B by Rodriguez)
     Conan #43: Dark Horse - A somewhat plodding installment, focusing mainly
on a character who cannot speak for himself, with lots of talking about
what's happening, and Conan generally standing around being annoyed.
Necessary infodump, I suppose, but the sort of thing that doesn't read as
well on its own as opposed to collected in a trade.  Mildly recommended.
     Avengers the Initiative #5: Marvel - Rather than picking up from the end
of last issue, we shift to picking up the pieces.  :)  Slott's still not up
to his usual level, but it's good (one odd bit slipped past editing,
though).  Still not really keen on Evil Government plots, but Gyrich and "not
a jerk" don't really go together, I guess.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
(Note: my store got horribly shorted on a bunch of titles.  They were able to
shift around to get me some stuff, but I'll have to wait until next week to
get this one.)
     Fantastic Four #549: Marvel - Love the resolution to the Frightful Four
part (careful what you seed on Bittorrent in the MU, BTW), but then it's back
to the cosmic plot, which is still in warmup phase.  Nifty cosmic threat, at
least.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
     Teen Titans #50: DC - Four writers, four pencillers, five inkers, three
colorists...on the one hand, the parts are clearly laid out in the credits by
who does which page.  On the other hand, there's NO PAGE NUMBERS.  Brilliant
move, there.  Amyway, as you might expect from such a patchwork creative
team, this issue is all over the place.  McKeever's framing tale combines
reminiscences and a wake for Bart with foreshadowing of a New Threat.  Johns
and Wolfman each tell short stories focusing on a Kid Flash (Johns on Bart,
Wolfman on Wally's KF days).  McKeever also works in a slightly different
version of the Lobo fight scene from Blue Beetle #18 (which isn't quite as
fun a read as the original).  And DeZago does a one-page bit with Nauck
looking back at Young Justice stories that never happened and wouldn't have
been very interesting anyway, IMO.  It ends with a Big Shocker that is so
heavily foreshadowed that you know it can't be what it seems, even if it was
the sort of thing you could take at face value in any case.  Mildly
recommended.  $3.99/$4.75Cn
     Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition (Summer 2007): Arsenic Lullaby Publishing -
This is a magazine-sized square-bound book, but otherwise pretty much the
same sort of stuff as previous regular comic issues: numerous one-page very
dark gag strips and the occasional story running for a few pages.  I almost
didn't notice that Paszkiewicz had switched to a lettering font, but caught a
" versus ' typo at one point that twigged me to it, and after that it was
pretty clear.  :) Anyway, in among all of this are the answers to three
questions: what happens to old movie cowboys (and their horses) when they
die, when will Voodoo Joe discover the extent of his physical changes, and
what sort of comic could make Warren Ellis say, "God help me it made me
smile"?  If you're not offended but this, Paszkiewicz will try harder next
time.  And in the meantime, you'll definitely be laughing.  :) Strongly
recommended, but only to the thick-skinned.  $7.99/$8.50Cn
     Rod Espinosa Masterworks Collection: Antarctic Press - This is a 2-DVD
collection of, well, if not everything Rod Espinosa has drawn, darn near
close to it.  The two discs aren't labeled and there's not a table of
contents paper insert (although, amusingly, they put this together upside-
down...the clip for an insert is on the right side), but at least the images
on the two discs are distinct.  Unfortunately, the labels have some bubbling,
hopefully not bad enough to throw off the balance over time.  Disc 1
(Neotopia and Courageous Princess images on the disc) has Adobe readers (Mac
and PC formats, if you're on any other OS you're likely more than clueful
enough to get a reader on your own), and folders for Alice in Wonderland,
Battle Girlz, Chronicles, DinoWars, For Eternity (a 1997 book I never heard
of), MetaDocs, Neotopia and Espinosa's NHS issues.  Disc 2 (DinoWars and
Alice in Wonderland images) has the Alamo story comic adaptation, Herc/Thor
(which Espinosa wrote), 2006's DragonPro, I Hunt Monsters, Espinosa's
contributions to How To Draw Manga, a Misc folder with various pinups and ads
he did, and a preview of upcoming Prince of Heroes.  There's also copies of
seven other AP comics that Espinosa didn't work on (S-Guild #1, Gold Digger
v3 #85, NHS #150, Sky Sharks #1, Beowulf #1, Final Firl #1 and the FCBD
Pirates vs. Ninjas comic).  Each individual issue has its own sub-folder,
which contains the PDF of that issue and then another subfolder that has all
the pages as JPGs.  Anyway...even if all this contained was the complete run
of Neotopia, it'd be well worth the price.  But it's absolutely loaded with
content (over 1600 pages, making it the equivalent of buying a stack of 22
page comics for 50 cents each), and enough new stuff that I may need to
dedicate a weekend just to reading the stuff I've never seen before and maybe
review it.  Strongest possible recommendation.  $34.95.

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 8/29:

     Still missing and might come in: Fallen Angel #15, Transformers
Timelines (wasn't available on the retailer order form in the first place!).
Add Avengers the Initiative #5.
     Cancelled by Diamond (again): Dr. Debunko: the Short Stories, Devil's
Panties #7-8.


"Did I Use 'Thinking Inside The Box' Yet?" Award to Fall of Cthulhu #5

"Not Exactly Like A Mustard Seed" Award to Fallen Angel #19

"Arms (And Legs And Torsos) Race" Award to Transformers Spotlight #9

"Parlor Tricks" Award to Conan #43

"Facing Your Fears...And Beating Them To A Pulp" Award to Avengers the 
     Initiative #5

"Curses, Foiled By DRM!" Award to Fantastic Four #549

"Make Your Own 'Horny' Joke" Award to Teen Titans #50

"Knock The Piss Outta Him!" Award to Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition (Summer 

"Now, Let's See The Complete NHS!  Doug, Are You Okay?" Award to the Rod
     Espinosa Masterworks Collection

     Dave Van Domelen, "We can't all die pretty." - Tex Buckaroo, cowboy
guardian angel, Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition
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