Standard Disclaimers: Please set appropriate followups. Recommendation does not factor in price. Not all books will have arrived in your area this week. I watched Puppy Bowl more than Super Bowl. Rants, Capsules can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 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 - Captain Marvel #3 (of 5): Marvel - It's always fun when someone writing a superhero story reveals their disdain for the tropes by having a mouthpiece character say something like, "Nobody over the age of twelve cares about super people punching one another. Not when there's something bigger going on here." Yep, good on Reed for mocking his audience. It's the "over the age of twelve" part that separates it from merely pointing out that "something bigger" is afoot. Sure, I'm not saying it's an invalid opinion (even beyond the whole "you can't argue with taste" thing), but it's just as valid to opine that "representational art is barren and without merit"...but if the guy I hired to paint my portrait says that, I'm going to think about hiring someone else for the job. That little bit of business aside, the dramatic pacing is good, we hit a solid Act III climax, and it ties into the whole Skrull thing without feeling the need for a banner. Mildly recommended (the contempt thing knocks it down a notch). $2.99/$3.05Cn X-Factor #28: Marvel - Yay, stupid X-over is done! Now to explain what the frell was going on, at least from the viewpoint of the regular cast. Except that it doesn't, much (although it does make a plot point of the lack of explanation of one plot point in the Messiah Complex, amusingly). Mainly loads of High Density (i.e. justified) Angst. Still, a good read, and PAD certainly writes a lot of Catholic Confession scenes for a non-Catholic. :) (Aside: even when I was a kid the move was away from the privacy screen sort that movies like to use, though.) Recommended. $2.99/$3.05Cn Capsules: 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 section. Books of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): None. Doktor Sleepless #5: Avatar Press - Well, there's still a fair chunk of seemingly random philosophical rambling, but most of the issue hangs together on its own (as opposed to "writing for the trade" coherence), and it's more story, less violence-porn and philowank-porn. Yes, I just made that last term up, so what? Patterns are starting to emerge from the seeming randomness, although we've already seen a big monkeywrench tossed into the pattern. Oh, and the epithet this time is "Your Imaginary Friend". Recommended. $3.99 Scud the Disposable Assassin #21: Image - After dumping the book when they got real jobs in Hollywood, Schrab and company have come back to do four more issues to wrap up the whole war-in-Heaven plot. I got rid of #1-20 eight years ago during the Great Purge...dead series that just sort of petered out at the end weren't high on my list of priorities for keeping around, after all. The first page of this issue VERY briefly summarizes those issues (and some side projects and tie-ins). The rest of the issue is largely pulling a Captain America on Scud...he's "frozen" for ten years just like the series was on hiatus for ten years, and various characters catch him up on what he missed, via a number of flashbacks. Of course, that leaves us three issues for the actual plot resolution, but given how close Schrab got to that in #20, it shouldn't be a problem. :) I suspect this issue might be a touch opaque to a totally new reader (I remember a lot more about Scud than I thought I might), but to be honest it was kinda opaque back when it was still going on. Deliberately so, at times. It's profane, it's random, it's messy...but it's still fun. Recommended. Transformers Beast Wars Sourcebook #4 (of 4): IDW - Wrapping it up with Scourge (Transmetal II) through Wolfang, no appendix or anything like it. Musso, Milkovich, Williams and Frank dominate the artwork, with just a few by Isenberg and Khanna, and one by Figueroa (who has apparently departed IDW for reasons unknown to me at this time, but I've heard loads of speculation (Update: He just wanted to try other things, and parted ways amicably with IDW. Not that fandom's gonna believe that.)). An oddity of ordering puts Silverbolt (Fuzor) in #3 and Silverbolt II (Magnaboss component) here. In fact, Scourge should have been several pages from the end of #3, suggesting someone dropped the ball (either Williams was late on the Scourge art, or the editors misplaced it). Milkovich's Skywarp, by the way, is even weirder than his Silverbolt I. I continue to like the variety of art styles (although I would have picked a different artist than the blocky Milkovich to do Transmutate), but I have serious issues with the editing. Why does Sling get a two page spread? Bad toy, not very good art, very minor character. Same with Mutant Soundwave...it's like the editors realized the weren't going to make it to a full fourth issue, and rather than adding more content (like an appendix, a timeline, am illustrated glossary, any stuff that fell through the cracks when the book changed editors, etc.) or putting out a cheaper and smaller #4, they just padded out some arbitrary entries. And characters who might deserve two pages, like Tarantulas or Terrorsaur, get three. Where were these extra pages back in #1 and #2 where characters who could have easily filled three pages productively got crammed into one? Overall, this issue gives the impression of the editors just throwing their hands up in disgust, saying, "Just stretch the stuff we have left to fit and get this turkey out the door, maybe we'll just fix the whole thing when we do the TPB. Or maybe I'm just going to go have a very large, very strong drink. Hold my calls." Feh. $6.99 they utterly failed to earn. JSA #12: DC - All the cool kids are doing Golden Age character revivals this month, and so is Johns...with an Alex Ross cover, to boot. Some pre-existing revamps like Jakeem Thunder, plus a bunch Johns has brought in during the past 11 issues of this title. I'll admit that I was worried about the new Amazing Man, but he manages to fit into his chosen image without being an annoying stereotype (and there's *several* annoying stereotype traps he could have fallen into). Hm, they also recycle the visuals of a pre-existing "Legacy Update" into a new person, odd. Anyway, this is a "meet the new kids" sort of issue, pretty talky and vignette-y. Not to mention retconny (both "hidden history" type, and "what you thought you knew was wrong" type). There is a little plot wrapped around it, though, the whole Kingdom Come To Visit thing. Mildly recommended. $2.99/$3.65Cn Ultimate Secrets: Marvel - Oops. This came out last week, and I had it ordered, but I forgot I'd ordered it and it didn't get pulled for me (I was more busy trying to make sure I got Project Superpowers). Anyway, a good gloss on what's been going on with the Ultimate universe, with a few pages of minor updates for characters who haven't changed much since the last Ultimate OHOTMU. Ultimate Spider-Man gets a full page update, of course. Lots of half page entries too, to fill in the nooks and crannies. Recommended. $3.99/$4.05Cn Amazing Spider-Man #549: Marvel - On to the next writer in the arc, Guggenheim. One of the many problems this new "thrice monthly" schedule is that the conventional wisdom is that it takes a new writer six issues to really get into the groove on a title, and with each writer only getting three at a shot before letting others take nine issues that might prevent anyone from ever getting into that groove. It also means that readers only just manage to get an idea whether a writer's any good on the book before it switches out. That puts Guggenheim in an unenviable position...anyone finding Slott uneven may write it off to happenstance, but if Guggenheim can't step up, it'll be seen as confirmation that the format isn't working. And those who really liked Slott may hold Guggenheim to an unfair standard. If he doesn't step up, those readers (like me) might decide to only the Slott issues and ignore the other three writers, deciding that the experiment is a failure. So it falls upon the shadowy Fifth Writer to make damned sure things hold together well enough to keep readers around. All that voluble prelude aside, while we're definitely shifting to a different plot (Jackpot and Menace take center stage), the transition is reasonably smooth and the story is good. Larroca's art is a bit too muddy at times, though. Recommended. $2.99/$3.05Cn Ms. Marvel #24: Marvel - The Brood arc wraps up reasonably well, and Stack gets one good panel. Then we dive into the very implausible (in light of the arc JUST FINISHED) Secret Invasion tie-in revelation. However, since initially reading it as a First Look I've seen that this very implausibility seems to be the core plot point Reed will be wrapping the next arc around, so I suppose it's provisionally okay. Depends on where he takes it, I guess. Also, Aaron Stack gets his sexy back. Recommended. $2.99/$3.05Cn The Twelve #2 (of 12): Marvel - This one is about settling in. Not everyone gets focus, and a lot of it shows how Golden Age heroes could be jerks (not talking feet of clay revisionism here, just Superdickery kinds of things). Presumably we'll get the rest of the cast next issue. It IS driven home how this isn't a team, though. Not yet, and maybe not ever. Just a bunch of extreme people thrown together by fate and then stranded in a future none of them are really ready for...although some think they are. Recommended. $2.99/$3.05Cn Doctor Grordbort's Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory: Dark Horse - Another late purchase, I saw this on the shelf a week or so ago but passed because I had a heavy week. Ended up picking it up over the weekend. This is a relatively short book made up of 32 heavy cardstock pages bound up in a hardcover. Most of it is a catalog of Victorian steampunk mad science products like armored suits, mechanical men, and clever brackets. There's also a short comic story at the end, and a number of pinups. The writing sometimes pushes the broadly farcical thing a bit too far. Writing and art are all done by Greg Broadmore of Weta (the NZ effects house), and some of the featured pieces (mainly the rayguns) are available for sale at http://www.drgrordborts.com, but we're talking several hundred dollars a pop. The catalog is also kinda expensive, more a coffee table book than anything else, but a nice dingus to have around. $12.95 MidKnight #2: Red5 Comics - The art and the storytelling are both a little rougher this time around, and the villain's manifesto feels a bit canned, but it's still a fun book. Recommended. (Hey, they're not all going to be epic posts today.) $2.95 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 2/6: Still missing and might come in: Fallen Angel #15, PS238 #25, (both of these have been covered in my CBR Special), Sky Sharks #2, Gamma Files, Official Handbook to the Gold Digger Universe #11. Finally got BW Sourcebook #1 from someone whose store got extras, nice to see Bump's entry is consistent with his portrayal in Ascension #4. However, Diamond didn't ship Transformers Devastation #5 (of 6). Awards: "Bad Timing" Award to Doktor Sleepless #5 "Zippermouth Somewhat Less Cute On An Adult" Award to Scud the Disposable Assassin #21 (of 24) "Dropping A Ball The Size Of Unicron" Award to Transformers Beast Wars Sourcebook #4 (of 4) "Living A Far Side Cartoon" Award to JSA #12 "Giving Ellis The Middle Finger" Award to Ultimate Secrets "So, How Many Band-Aids Does Jackpot Have On Her Hips?" Award to Amazing Spider-Man #549 "30% Pinup By Weight" Award to Ms. Marvel #24 "Dynamic Tension" Award to The Twelve #2 (of 12) "Jiggery-Pokery Triumphant" Award to Doctor Grordbort's Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory (and should I be scared at how easily the word 'Contrapulatronic' flows from my fingers to the keyboard?) "Against The Fall Of Knight" Award to MidKnight #2 Dave Van Domelen, "You're...calling dibs...on a super-villain...?" "That's not how it's done?" - Spider-Man and Jackpot, Amazing Spider-Man #549Back to the Main Rants Page.
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