March 5, 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.
Overshadowing with salience since 1992.  Rants, Capsules can be found on my 

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 -

     Annihilation Conquest #5 (of 6): Marvel - Penultimate part, so time to
reveal the Grand Plans and all that, and on the plotting level it's decent.
No great shakes overall, though.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Nova #11: Marvel - Well, there's an interesting guest appearance, at
least.  A bit of foreshadowing was also plunked down with a loud thud that
Nova managed to not hear, too.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     X-Factor #29: Marvel - Cute short-circuiting of cliches.  And then
things go to hell.  Well, not literally.  Probably.  But maybe elsewhere on
the Outer Planes.  Ah, some badfun times ahead in this arc.  Recommended.
     The Last Defenders #1 (of 6): Marvel - Cute use of the (more or less)
same logo style as the New Defenders from the 80s.  And using Stark's
established high-handed jerkitude to explain the arbitrary nature of the new
lineup.  But despite the "official" lineup, Casey's keeping the camera on the
New Defenders era cast as well.  And Blazing Skull is fun.  A promising
start.  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): Comic Book
Comics #1

     Secret Invasion Saga: Marvel - A freebie, intended to help set up and
sell the whole "who's a Skrull?" thing.  It's aptly named, using the old
Marvel Saga style of narrated clips from various comics to try to place
scattered events into a more coherent order (a task made tougher by all the
recent "unrevealed history" sort of retcons) under Iron Man's monologue.  It
does a good job of summing up all the various Skrull events in the Marvel
Universe, although it also drives home how strongly they're boxing themselves
into a corner on this'll be very difficult to resolve this without
a blatant deus ex machina.  Recommended.  $0.00
     Amazing Spider-Man #552: Marvel - Month three of Brand New Day starts,
with Bob Gale (who I don't know from Adam) writing and Phil Jimenez (who I
most certainly DO know) drawing.  Gale picks up on several of the threads
from the first BND issue's backups (soup kitchen, mayoral run, Freak) and the
Swing Shift special (the two cops, the bookmaking guy) while continuing the
"DB" arc and dealing with fallout from Guggenheim's issues.  Not sure what
Doctor Bong is up to, though.  :)  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn  [Later note:
several people have informed me that Gale is mainly known for his
     The Twelve #2 (of 12): Marvel - More alienation.  While Fiery Mask is on
the cover, he doesn't dominate the issue, it rotates pretty thoroughly
through about half the cast.  A sort or relationship is growing between the
Phantom Reporter and the Black Widow...a weird sort.  Recommended.
     Transformers Spotlight #13 (Mirage): IDW - It's labeled "Cover A" but
there doesn't seem to be a "Cover B", heh.  Writer George Strayton plays with
a variation of the "butterfly who dreams he's a man" conceit, while also
setting it up so you can't be sure if it's a dream or interdimensional
resonance of some sort.  To some extent, this is more of a Punch/Counterpunch
story, but it works reasonably well for Mirage too.  Guidi's art is sometimes
a bit rough in the story flow department, but otherwise good.  Recommended.
     Justice League the New Frontier Special #1: DC - Three main stories plus
a "making of the DVD" feature at the back.  The lead story is labeled
"Chapter 10" and is solo Cooke, expanding on the line about having a $70,000
rock to keep the one from Metropolis in line.  David Bullock, director of the
DVD, draws the second Cooke-written story, in which the NF-verse Teen Titans
get their start.  Cooke pulls off period lingo without sounding all Haney.
The third story, with art by DVD art director J. Bone, is the weak one of the
lot, an attempt at camp humor in which Wonder Woman and Black Canary go to a
Playboy Club to dispense some justice.  There's also a fake ad for other
NF-verse comics set in a 1962 that never was.  A good read.  Recommended.
     RASL #1: Cartoon Books - I totally missed this being solicited...if it
hadn't been reviewed by the Howling Curmudegons, I'd still be ignorant.
Fortunately, my store got a second batch in today (having sold out of the
first batch last week) so I snagged one.  This is Jeff "Bone" Smith's latest
project.  It's definitely a darker piece than Bone or Monster Society, with a
protagonist who's definitely one of the bad'uns, at least to start.  There's
a somewhat opaque in media res followed by flashbacks sort of structure that
lets us know from the beginning that things are going to get rough for our
viewpoint character, possibly the impetus for changing his ways.  This didn't
grab me that strongly, and I've seen the tropes used before ("What Rough
Beast" being a prime example), but I'm willing to keep reading for a few more
issues.  Mildly recommended.  $3.50 (no actual price on the book itself, just
on the invoice)
     Scud the Disposable Assassin #22 (of 24): Image - Big slobberknocker of
a fight, but since this is all build-up to the apocalypse, "merely" having
dozens of heavily armed robots fighting outside a portal to Hell is just an
appetizer.  Where #21 spent a lot of time setting up the premise and the
changes to it, this issue gets down to the business of blowing stuff up and
ratcheting up the emotional stakes (the only stakes you really CAN raise when
your opening premise is armageddon).  Recommended.  $3.50
     Dynamo5 #11: Image - Three main conflicts this issue.  The kidnapping
plot set up last issue is resolved, the supervillain team-up that's been
building for a few issues sets up for action, and Visionary's mom battles
against common sense.  The scattered focus hurts the kidnapping plot, which
feels like just an excuse to get the team out of the way while the
supervillain plot advances.  And should we really be rooting for one of the
main characters to become an orphan?  Mildly recommended.  $3.50Cn
     Comic Book Comics #1: Evil Twin Comics - Billed as a history of comic
books told as a comic book, this issue by writer Fred Van Lente (Marvel
Adventures Iron Man etc) and artist Ryan Dunleavy (name not ringing a bell
for me, sorry) starts with the Yellow Kid and ends with Jack Kirby choosing
his famous pen name.  Multiple threads weave together, from newspapers to
cartoons to pulps as the roots of comics are laid down, and Van Lente sticks
to a more thematic organization (like Gonick uses in his Cartoon History of
the World/Universe/etc) with the timeline rolling back and forth to follow
coherent pieces.  Artistically, it's a sometimes deliberately mixed bag, with
Dunleavy imitating various styles.  The most obvious unevenness is in the
choice of how to portray real people...sometimes they're simply abstractions
of themselves (like Will Eisner or Joe Simon) while other times they're
modifications of their most famous icons (Disney as Mickey Mouse with Walt's
face, Dave Fleischer as the inkpot clown he rotoscope-modeled for).  Still,
despite some minor quibbles, this quarterly (tri-monthly?  #2 is blurbed as
coming in July) book is well worth reading, even if you think you know all
about the history of comics.  Strongly recommended.  $3.95

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 3/5:

     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. 


"Sucks To Be The Skrull Assigned To Infiltrating The Marvel Zombies   
     Universe" Award to Secret Invasion Saga

"Just Say NooOOOAAAAAGH!" Award to Amazing Spider-Man #552

"Someone Get That Man A Faraday Cage" Award to The Twelve #3 (of 12)

"It's Either Real Or It's A Dream There's Nothing That Is In Between,
     Twilight" Award to Transformers Spotlight #13 (Mirage)

"Finally, A Reason For Fishnets" Award to Justice League the New Frontier
     Special #1

"Wanna Arm-RASL?" Award to RASL #1

">>>>> >>>>> >> >>> >>>> >>>>>>>>>>>" Award to Scud the Disposable Assassin 
     #22 (of 24)

"Airbags Deployed" Award to Dynamo5 #11

"Maybe You CAN Eat Medals" Award to Comic Book Comics #1

     Dave Van Domelen, "Phony editors trying to hire fake artists...welcome
to the comic book industry!" - Comic Book Comics #1, on Victor Fox
pseudonymously trying to hire away Will Eisner's pen names thinking that they
were real people.
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