March 7, 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.
Yes, I know about Captain America.  Sigh.  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 - 

     None.  Image didn't ship any, and the Marvel ones were late again.

     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): Iron Man
Hypervelocity #3 (of 6)

     Fall of Cthulhu #0: Boom Studios - This is mostly a few scenes from the
last day in the life of Abdul Alhazred, the Mad Arab, and what he did after
that.  :)  Considering the setting and apparent intent of the story, it's
fairly straightforward and coherent, and I like how the artist shifts styles
radically between the three main settings (Abdul's lifetime, the Dreamlands,
modern day)...although I expect the colorists had a lot to do with that.
Amusingly, the "other stuff this month" page at the end shows #2.
Recommended.  $3.99
     Transformers Official Movie Prequel #1 (of 4): IDW - I got the
wraparound cover B.  Don Figueroa almost makes the movie designs work, but
the drab sameness of them all (yes, they differ in a lot of little details,
but it all runs together) combiner with an obvious intent to NOT name the
viewpoint character makes it annoyingly hard to follow.  Co-written by Ryall
and Furman, I'm guessing that it was Ryall who created the location
"Simfur".  :)  Anyway, both the art and writing are oppressively dark, murky
and obfuscated, and I really hope the movie doesn't continue with that tone
throughout.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
     52 #44 (of 52): DC - Another single-focus issue, bringing the Khandaq
plotline to a head and killing off more people.  Even the couple of Montoya
pages at the end tie into the main plot.  Giffen's art shows through more
strongly than usual, either his breakdowns were more detailed then normal, or
Barrows's style just doesn't have much strength to it (or he copies Giffen).
Anyway, it's starting to look like they have a mandate to kill off everyone
who hasn't already been seen One Year Later, which is kinda annoying.  Mildly
recommended.  $2.50/$2.99Cn
     Outsiders #46: DC - One Year Un-Later still, or something.  There's a
bit of a disconnect between writing and art (for instance, at one point, the
narration says everyone in the prison stays in costume as a reminder of their
hubris, but no one's in costume).  Roughly equal parts of intra-team
argument, prison drama and snarky love story.  Recommended despite Barberi's
art.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Shazam! the Monster Society of Evil #2 (of 4): DC - Jeff Smith continues
to build an all-new world for Captain Marvel, picking and choosing from
various previous incarnations plus stuff he brings to the party himself (and
I was right about Talky, heh).  A bit gruesome despite the seemingly kid-safe
exterior, although that's perfectly in keeping with classic Captain Marvel
stuff.  I'd advise not looking at the back cover until you finish, though, as
it gives away a few major plot points (okay, one of 'em is no real surprise
overall, but it could have happened later).  Recommended.  $5.99/$7.25Cn
     Welcome to Tranquility #4: DC/Wildstorm - Googe does a very nice job of
showing on the first page that his stylistic quirks are just that: style.
He's perfectly capable of a classically attractive human figure when he wants
to draw one.  :)  Story-wise, we're in the commonly-seen phase of a mystery
where things simultaneously come together and fly apart.  The investigator
starts to put pieces together into a fairly coherent whole, but at the same
time, other players in the drama get pushed too far and start taking drastic
action.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Dynamo5 #1: Image - Cute background cameo from one of Faerber's
early Image books.  Anyway, I've seen the basic concept of this book many
times before: hero dies, powers are split up among several new heroes in some
fashion, and they carry on the fight (Power Pack, Villains & Vigilantes, for
instance).  But this is a new twist, and it does lead to some interestingly
messed up team dynamics.  It's set in the Image shared universe (Invincible
and the Savage Dragon have cameos) but in a Silver-Age-ish isolated corner.
There's a strong Superman homage involved, but not slavishly so.  Definitely
promising.  Recommended.  $3.50/$4.05Cn
     Bullet Points #5 (of 5): Marvel - Well, this is definitely a classic
"What If?" in the sense that the body count is pretty massive.  The
resolution is pretty good within that constraint, though, even if the art
continues to be cruddy.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
     newuniversal #4: Marvel - Well, one of the key events from the original
Starbrand series happens here, but without all the beating around the bush
and "no, this is what we really mean this time" stuff.  Things otherwise just
sort of edge forward at a typically Ellisian pace, so it's a good thing this
is actually monthly, rather than slipping to a "whenever" schedule.  Mildly
recommended.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
     Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #18: Marvel - Well, the whole fugitive
from injustice thing is still going on, but it's mostly background, with
PAD's own plotlines getting to drive the story.  With the hype machine for
Spider-Man 3 ramping up, it's interesting to see elements of that movie used
to do something almost totally different, yet still with the core element of
Uncle Ben's death.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
     Iron Man Hypervelocity #3 (of 6): Marvel - This is a step back and
exposit issue (much like #2), but nonetheless very fun.  It also has that
"coming together and coming apart" thing I mentioned in the Tranquility
review, although there's really just one player making things go boom.  A
definite treat for technotaku types (and there's a quick cameo from Gothic
Lolita and Social Butterfly).  Warren takes dialogue and monologue that might
otherwise be dry and makes it sparkle.  Strongly recommended.  $2.99/$3.75Cn
     Dork Decade: the Dork Tower Ten-Year Anniversary Color Collection: Dork
Storm - Would you believe 11th Anniversary?  Seriously, this was solicited
for last November.  Anyway, this is a collection of all the Dork Tower (and
Shop Keep) strips from Shadis and Dragon Magazine (up to the point of going
to press, anyway), complete with end notes.  Most of the notes could have
been put at the bottom of the page (Penny Arcade collection style), except
some of the pages are too long for this (as noted several times), so they
went with the Finder/Devil's Panties/etc style of putting all the notes at
the very end, so you have to flip back and forth.  Recommended.  $15.99

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 3/7:

     Still missing Gold Digger Tangent #2, Fred Perry's S-Guild #1,
Dr. Debunko: the Short Stories, Roy Thomas's Anthem #4, Devil's Panties #7,
#8 (Diamond cancelled the reorder on Devil's Panties #7), Thunderbolts
Presents: Zemo Born Better #1.


"Strange Days Indeed" Award to Fall of Cthulhu #0

"Primus Is A Cenobite?" Award to Transformers Official Movie Prequel #1 
     (of 4)

"Crocodile Tears" Award to 52 #44 (of 52)

"Permanent Bedhead" Award to Outsiders #46

"Genius, Genius Rat-Creatures" Award to Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil
     #2 (of 4)

"XD" Award to Welcome to Tranquility #4

"Anonymous, Faceless Nookie" Award to Dynamo5 #1

"A Grimm Ending" Award to Bullet Points #5 (of 5)

"The Ability To Resist" Award to newuniversal #4

"Extreme Makeover, Jailhouse Edition" Award to Friendly Neighborhood
     Spider-Man #18

"Theft Of Intellectual Properties" Award to Iron Man Hypervelocity #3 (of 6)

"Is Maxwell Based On A Pentagon?" Award to Dork Decade

     Dave Van Domelen, "Upwards of $500 billion in S.H.I.E.L.D. hardware...
is pursuing $150 million worth of Stark Enterprises hardware...which is
fleeing in $18,000 worth of Honda hardware.  Then again, no one ever said
that posthuman conflict was cost-effective." - Tony 2.0, driving Johnny
Storm's stolen ricer, Iron Man Hypervelocity #3 (of 6)
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