January 23, 2008

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.
Should be done ruining lives for the week.  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 America #34: Marvel - Well, the new Cap is revealed, and the
reasons behind the costume change.  Plus a big side order of "can you punch
socioeconomic ills?"  Very dark in tone, and the art reflects that (while the
new costume reflects everything else, badumpbump).  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Fantastic Four #553: Marvel - the end of McDuffie's run, and of my
interest (I shun Milllar).  I am amused that time travel ideas I've been
messing with lately are also brought up here, albeit in a slightly different
way, but with the same storytelling purpose: how can a time travel story have
any drama if it can only either branch off a parallel or it's doomed to
linearity?   Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn

     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): Damage Control
#1 (of 3), Blue Beetle #23, Amelia Rules #19 (YOU NEED THIS BOOK), Amelia
Rules! Volume One: The Whole World's Crazy, Amelia Rules! Volume Two: What
Makes You Happy
     Incredible Change-Bots GN: Top Shelf - This digest-sized full color GN
was first printed back in July, but I didn't notice it until it was already
out, and given Diamond's back order track record, I decided not to bother
trying to get one.  It was resolicited, though, and this time I noticed it in
Previews.  ;) Anyway, it's a pretty broad parody that mixes elements of the
original Transformers "More Than Meets The Eye" storyline with bits of modern
American politics and tells it with a deliberately crude "indie comics" art
style.  There were some chuckles to be had, and the jabs were generally not
mean-spirited, but all in all I wasn't that impressed.  Neutral.  $15.00
     The Scream #3 (of 4): Dark Horse - At least, I *think* it's a four issue
miniseries.  The pacing certainly doesn't feel right, unless we're in for a
"to be continued in volume two" ending next issue.  In any case, it's just
not gelling for me, it's like Peter David's trying to play around with
cliches and forms and so forth, but it's just not working out.  Neutral.
     Transformers Spotlight #11 (Blaster): IDW - They're throttling back, the
only alternate cover this time was a retailer incentive.  Kinda narration-
heavy, and the plot is a fairly basic "who tried to kill me?" mystery, but
taken as a spotlight story, it does the job admirably.  It establishes who
Blaster is, both his public face and his inner self, and why he's important.
The art by Santalucia is good, and he manages to capture Silverbolt's creepy
lips exactly.  :)  Recommended.  $3.99
     Amazing Spider-Man #548: Marvel - The first month of Brand New Day (yes,
it's a day that not only feels like it lasts a month, it really does) is
done, and Slott's definitely warming up to the new storyline.  Plenty of good
Spider-Man action and patter, while various complications in his life do
somersaults.  I especially like the way his situation with Mr. Negative does
flip-flops.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     She-Hulk v2 #25: Marvel - Jen bitches and angsts a lot while weirdness
rains down all around her.  In the backup, PAD digs up an obscure old Shulkie
foe and puts him on a quest for meaning or somesuch.  :)  Finally, a second
backup has Jen beating the crud out of the fourth wall.  This oversize issue
wraps with a revised OHOTMU entry for Jen, which is extensive but not quite
up to date (it runs to about two or three issues before the end of Slott's
run).  Recommended.  $3.99/$4.05Cn
     Young Avengers Presents Patriot #1 (of 6): Marvel - Brubaker and Medina
on this.  The story here is mainly about two angry young men trying to figure
out what it means to uphold Captain America's legacy, and neither is sure if
they're on the right track, but that doesn't stop them from trying.  I guess
each issue will focus on one member of the team (I didn't read the solicits,
but since the title in the indicia is just "Young Avengers Presents" that
would seem to make sense), before a hopeful eventual relaunch of Young
Avengers.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Damage Control #1 (of 3): Marvel - On the one hand, McDuffie's writing.
On the other hand, Damage Control as a property has been seriously messed up
lately.  Fortunately, the first order of business seems to be "fix Damage
Control."  And it's looking great so far.  I do kinda suspect that McDuffie
has written himself into the series as one of the characters, though.  :)
Strongly recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Gold Digger v3 #92: Antarctic Press - This one is a big reveal issue,
but I had to read it twice to pick up all (I think) of the reveals.  Mainly,
it ties several major series villains together, and delves more into the
background of Ayane (although it's unclear if we're seeing Ayane herself, or
a namesake ancestor).  Recommended.  $2.99/$2.99Cn (Yes, they list both
prices on the covers despite the numbers being the same now.)
     The Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #13: Antarctic Press -
Were-rat clan leader Sherisha through a REALLY extensive entry on
Stryyp'Gia.  And it seems that the weird poodle is the one from a recent
"childhood flashback" issue, only now much older.  Recommended.
     The Prince of Heroes v1 #1 (of 3): Antarctic Press - Rod Espinosa's
launching another epic, this time in his Chronicles of Universe/Battle Girlz
setting.  Three issues not an epic, you say?  Well, according to the inside
front cover, this miniseries is merely chapter one...of eighteen.  So this
will be longer than Neotopia.  I go into this with some trepedation, though.
While Rod's usually golden, his Chronicles setting shows its "childhood
writings" origins rather strongly, and like Ted Nomura's Altered Wars setting
suffers from huge hidden backstory being required to follow the actual
published material.  Battle Girlz wasn't so bad, but the Chronicles TPB was,
well, not good IMO.  So, trepidation.  And, well, it's not off to a great
start.  I'm not sure if the opening scene happens before the rest of the
issue, or if the bulk of the issue is a flashback.  Initially I wasn't even
sure if the viewpoint character was the same PERSON, despite looking the same
(i.e. setup for a Prince and the Pauper sort of thing).  The "hidden
backstory" issue also crops up, although it's not so much hidden as simply
not presented anywhere in this comic (the Darem are the setting's ruling
super-race, very long-lived and physically superior to almost everyone...this
is merely hinted at here, and not knowing it makes the story even MORE
confusing than it already is).  Oh, it looks lovely, and if I went onto
princeofheroes.com to check the online pages I might get more information,
but this isn't a viral marketing campaign!  All these pages given over to
lovely but wordless cinematic scenery are nice, and a little mystery is
always okay, but I was frustrated at how coy Espinosa is here.  It's like I'm
being expected to not actually read the book until I have all 3 issues of the
chapter (if not more) in hand.  Given all the hype Antarctic sunk into
launching this book, it's disappointing how poorly it launched.  I'll be
getting the rest of this chapter, but I'm worried sales will tank.  Neutral.
     Teen Titans #55: DC - An aftermath issue, after the big and somewhat
pointless arc, in which the various costs are counted.  I like how McKeever's
working together with Rogers in using Blue Beetle (it shows up over in BB's
book too), and Igle's art is better than I remember.  The story's a touch on
the soap-opera-y side, but a definite improvement over the muddled mess of
the Future Titans arc.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Legion of Super-Heroes #38: DC - Mostly one long fight scene intercut
with Lightning Lad crumbling under the weight of leadership.  Some nifty
tricks, but I think the points of this issue could have been well conveyed in
half the page count...in other words, it all felt redundant and padded.
Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Blue Beetle #23: DC - Such a Peter Parker Angst cover.  :)  Big
penultimate chapter of the Reach conflict (or at least this phase of it),
although if an acquaintance hadn't mentioned that a friend of his was working
on art for #28 (I think that was the issue) I'd be worried that it'd be the
penultimate issue.  Yes, Rogers has ramped up the stakes so high I'm actually
worried it's intended to be a swan song, which says something about the high
quality of the writing.  Albuquerque continues to do well on the art, too.
Strongly recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Amelia Rules! #19: Reinassance Press - Wow.  Just...wow.  It starts out
light and fluffy with a new game to play in convenience stores (a game that
gets a couple of callbacks through the issue), then moves into an exploration
of family history using fake news clippings and comic strip styles from
across a century's worth of newspapers...and then manages to tie everything
together on the third to last page in an absolutely masterful way.  Sure, the
actual story is pretty much a "regular" generationl family summary, but
Gownsley tells it incredibly well.  Strongest possible recommendation.  $2.95
     Amelia Rules! Volume One: The Whole World's Crazy TPB: Renaissance Press
- Last time I tried ordering Amelia Rules TPBs to fill in my back collection,
Diamond never bothered to ship them.  So when Gownley solicited the new
"bookshelf editions" I jumped at them.  Unlike most small publishers, he does
everything in full color, and these TPBs have glossy pages too.  They're
between digest size and regular TPB, with 6" by 9" pages.  This issue covers
#1-5.  I think.  There's no mention anywhere I can find what the original
issues were, it just labels the stories "Part 1" through "Part 5".  And I
don't have the original issues to compare against.  All the indicia says is
that portions of the book have appeared in the comics previously.  This is a
tad annoying.  Maybe later I'll go through and compare the stories to the
issues I have and try to figure out a pattern, but I've been reading and
reviewing comics for nearly five hours straight, I think it's time to give it
a rest.  :) Strongly recommended unless you have all the original issues (as
in, every issue ever, since I can't tell which ones you might need).
$11.99/$13.99Cn (176 pages)
     Amelia Rules! Volume Two: What Makes You Happy TPB: Renaissance Press -
Same deal, six more parts with no indication what issues they were
originally.  There's also a third volume, "Superheroes," but I didn't get
that as I think I have all the original issues.  But who knows, given the way
these are put together?  Ah well.  Another one I strongly recommend unless
you have all the original issues.  170 pages (a few blank sheets to fill out
the signatures).  $11.99/$13.99Cn

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 1/23:

     Still missing and might come in: Fallen Angel #15, PS238 #25,
Transformers Beast Wars Sourcebook #1 (all of these have been covered in my
CBR Special, I have someone sending me a BW Sourcebook though)), Sky Sharks
#2, Gamma Files, Official Handbook to the Gold Digger Universe #11.  Add
Clockwork Girl #2 (store got shorted), Transformers Animated vol 1 (ditto).


"Optimusdickery" Award to Incredible Change Bots GN

"I Have No Scream, And I Must Mouth" Award to The Scream #3 (of 4)

"No, Everyone Wants To Shoot At Talk Radio" Award to Transformers Spotlight
     #11 (Blaster)

"Well, At Least SOMEONE Appreciates Him" Award to Amazing Spider-Man #548

"No Need For Jen-Chi" Award to She-Hulk v2 #25

"Awfully Young To Have Steve Rogers Angst" Award to Young Avengers Presents
     Patriot #1

"We Don't Do Thought Bubbles Anymore Either" Award to Damage Control #1 
     (of 3)

"Recycling Can Be Bad For The Environment, Too" Award to Gold Digger v3 #92

"Insert Your Own Joke About Skippy And Spreadability" Award to The Official
     Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #13

"And I *Liked* Cloverfield, So It's Not Just Lack Of Info" Award to The
     Prince of Heroes vol 1 #1 (of 3)

"Bitch-Whore Much?" Award to Teen Titans #55

"Quite Much, Yeah" Award to Legion of Super-Heroes #38

"Geez, And Just As I Learned To Read The Scarab's Old Font, Too" Award to
     Blue Beetle #23

"Thank Goodness You're Open" Award to Amelia Rules! #19

"Well, My Childhood Memories Are All Jumbled Together Too, So I Guess It
     Fits" Award to Amelia Rules! volumes 1 and 2 collectively

     Dave Van Domelen, "*It's all true, but we can't tell you about it.  We
don't do Editor's Notes anymore. --Editor" - Damage Control #1 (of 3)
Back to the Main Rants Page.

Or slide on the ice back to the January 2008 Page.