November 14, 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.
Whoog, lotta stuff shaking loose today.  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 - 

     Thunderbolts Breaking Point #1: Marvel - A busy week at Marvel for
Gage.  A one-shot that drifts about a bit, okay enough story but it lacked
focus.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Penance: Relentless #3 (of 5): Marvel - Pretty much a middle chapter.
Some conflict and restatement of the plot points, but very little actual
development beyond firing Chekov's pistol.  Penance certainly doesn't have a
problem with massive overkill, though.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Captain America #32: Marvel - Well, Faustus seems to know straitjackets,
but needs to learn about leg restraints...some people are as dangerous
without use of their arms as they are unrestrained.  Okay issue otherwise.
     She-Hulk v2 #23: Marvel - Extended fight scene with a few twists, but
very little new or even particularly interesting.  At least the mystery of
Shulkie's partner isn't dragged out past this issue.  Mildly recommended.

     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): Avengers the
Initiative #7, Kimmie66, Atomic Robo #2 (of 6), From the Desk of Septina
Nash: The Penguins of Doom

     Gargoyles #6: Slave Labor Graphics - This is a reissue with the error
page fixed to have the correct dialogue layer.  Makes a little more sense
this way, although the error was the main thing of interest in the issue.
Mildly recommended, and I wish I'd been paying closer attention, I don't
think I would have bothered rebuying this issue if I'd realized it wasn't new
(and it's not exactly a ringing endorsement of the title that I didn't
remember #6 vividly enough to realize this wasn't a new one!).  $3.95.
     Badger Bull!: IDW - I didn't even notice this one-shot in Previews,
oops.  Fortunately there were enough to make it to the shelf, since I *did*
order the upcoming miniseries, and would like to know before that hits if
we're closer to the Mike Baron who wrote the First Comics (and earlier)
Badger, or the Mike Baron who put together the disappointing late 90s
version.  Fortunately, it seems far more the former than the latter.  It's a
pretty good introduction to the character and his cast (much of that cast
being inside the character), and while it tends to mine older stories for
plot (i.e. Badger's done the bull seed plot at least once before), the
endnote makes it clear why.  Baron's trying to get movie producers to bite,
and the first issue of Badger Saves The World wasn't Hollywood-friendly.  So
this was crafted to take the place of BSTW #1 (which might be why I didn't
see it in Previews) as something a little better for introducing things.  As
opposed to opening on an exploding dog.  The art is...okay.  A bit too
scratchy and blocky at times, although that might be explained by a rapid
retrench to make deadline, hopefully Caron's stuff improves next time out.
Recommended.  $3.99 (I got Cover B)  [Later note: a friend who knows the art
team confirms that this was a rush job, and says the quality does improve on
the non-rushed issues.]
     Thor #4: Marvel - It's kinda odd at Marvel these days...sometime they
use real world locations and events, sometimes they project them onto
existing fictional places, but every so often they fall back on the old trick
of making up an entirely new fictional nation onto which things are imaged.
JMS does that here, making what, as far as I know, is a new fictional African
nation in order to tell a Darfur-like story with Thor.  It all feels kinda
shoehorned, like the goal was to talk about African genocide first, and tell
Thor's story second or even third.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Captain Marvel #1 (of 5): Marvel - Okay, this one feels VERY "written
for the trade".  Yes, there's a sort of self-contained dramatic arc within
it, but it's very clearly focused on being Act I rather than on the immediate
semi-plot.  Reed tosses out a number of threads that may or may not be
resolved in five issues, conflicts both external and internal, so at least it
works on a craft level.  It just didn't...connect, I suppose.  Mildly
recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Avengers the Initiative #7: Marvel - Well, it TOOK long enough, but
Slott seems to be back in his usual fine form, after six issues of not really
feeling like this was actually his work.  And while it seems unlikely that
his little contribution to the ongoing Spider-Man saga will be allowed to
have any effect, I liked it anyway.  Strongly recommeded.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     X-Factor #25: Marvel - Unfortunately, unlike the previous X-over, this
one's not limited to backups, oops.  At least PAD's able to make things
comprehensible to readers who aren't picking up the other chapters, and this
issue mainly involves the regular cast's actions.  Eaton's art is okay, if a
bit over-colored and generally kinda stiff.  Mildly recommended.
     Titans East Special #1: DC - The first half of the issue is a "Neo-Pre-
Crisis" tale (i.e. it's not Pre-Crisis, but it's a backstory implant that's
supposed to bring Pre-Crisis-like elements back into the post-Infinite Retcon
timeline of New Earth) of the Titans (more or less the Wolfman version,
pre-Nightwing-changeover) versus Bizarro and the Joker.  The rest is Winick
being told to kill off a bunch of minor characters, and demonstrating that he
actually likes one or two of them before he carries out the hatchet job.
Others, though, don't even really get introduced properly before they're
whacked, showing a certain amount of contempt on the writer's part (either
for the characters or for any mandate he may be operating under).  Churchill
contributes bland Jim Lee imitation art.  Give this turkey a pass.
     Salvation Run #1 (of 7): DC - Suicide Squad meets The Running Man?
Well, that was sort of the high concept initially pitched.  Although it's
more like Suicide Squad meets Harry Harrison's Deathworld (actually, I
suspect this is the planet from Blue Beetle last year, the one with the evil
pygmies).  Lots of crowd sceneage, suggesting Willingham will be killing at
least a few extraneous characters off, but he shows admirable restraint in
not whacking anyone this issue just to show how dangerous things are.  :)
Nice Sean Chen art.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn  [Later note: the planet is
reportedly the one Devilance attacked the space team on during 52.]
     Green Arrow and Black Canary #2: DC - I can only assume that the Amazons
have been doing a lot of recruiting, and the average Themiscyran these days
is nowhere near Wonder Woman level, otherwise a lot of this issue doesn't
make a whole lot of sense.  That caveat aside, Winick writes a good story,
and even occasionally trusts the artist to set up something, rather than
expositing it right away every time.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn  [Later
note: People who endured Amazons Attack inform me that yes, the Amazons
you're seeing now are mortals recruited to the island, and the original
super-powered ones are mostly unavailable for reasons I won't spoiler.]
     Booster Gold #4: DC - The tour of "saving JL members" continues, and
Supernova is revealed (or so we're led to believe).  Skeets also gets a
nemesis, fun times had by all.  A good issue all around, although the Final
Page Shocker tends to overshadow it more than a little bit.  And it
definitely sets up a "can he DO that?" reaction in readers.  (Aside: I think
a certain gentleman of my acquaintance may detonate in a shower of ire, in
fact.)  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Gen13 v4 #14: DC/Wildstorm - Simon Oliver picks up writing chores, I
give him a few issues to impress me (rather than insta-dropping like I would
whenever an Adam Warren run was over in the past).  So far...okay.
Definitely setting up a "velvet glove" sort of threat that looks like it
might work well, but there just isn't that zing that Simone's better issues
(and all of Warren's issues) had.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Welcome to Tranquility #12: DC/Wildstorm - The issue title is "No More
Crossovers", and it does wrap up the whole zombie apocalypse thing so that
Gen13 can get out of town.  There's some hints at the events in the
Armageddon issue, which might have worked better as hints had the two issues
come out in the opposite order from what they actually did.  :)  Anyway,
while it doesn't peter out as badly as Simone's Gen13 run, it does just sort
of run out of steam at the end.  Perhaps Simone's dealing with general
burnout.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Confessions of a Blabbermouth: DC/Minx - Part of DC's line aimed at
teenaged girls, but I try not to hold that against it.  :) Normally, when I
follow a creator around, it's a writer, but Aaron Alexovich is one of the few
I'll pick up even when he's just the artist, on the strength of his Serenity
Rose work.  He's a very strong visual storyteller, with varying amounts of
Jhonen Vasquez influence (given that he worked on Invader Zim, this should
come as no surprise).  For this book, AA generally stays at the less freaky
end of his artistic spectrum, since this is a tale set in present day England
without fantasy elements...your basic high school family drama wrapped around
a mystery.  Mike and Louise Carey write a good story for Alex to draw,
although the slang sometimes gets a little too thick on the ground,
especially since it seems to be UK teen slang and not necessarily something
that most of the target audience would use (granted, most of it comes out in
context, but it's weird to see people talking about "grassing" if you're not
familiar with its origins - apparently rhyming slang "grass in the park" from
"nark/narc").  Anyway, it was a fun and engaging read, and even broke briefly
out of the fluff plot mold here and there.  The main conflict of the book
takes on a particularly creepy tone in light of the fact that main characters
Jed and Chloe see to be versions of the two writers.  The last signature of
the book is a bunch of short previews of other Minx books, including Kimmie66
(which is way at the other end of Alexovich's weirdness scale).  Recommended.
$9.99/$11.99Cn (good luck squeezing it out of Diamond as a reorder, I bought
it at for $8 with free shipping)
     Kimmie66: DC/Minx - And speak of the devil, no sooner do I get
Blabbermouth than this one hits shelves (and my pull list, for a change).
(Aside to writer: it's called the Photic Sneeze Reflex, and I've got it too,
about 1 in 6 do.)  Anyway, while the art style is way at the "disturbing
chibi" end of Aaronovich's range, the story is very good futurism.  I've seen
its elements before in many places, but I could say the same about almost any
story, and he assembles them well here.  It mixes virtual reality with
extropianism, interstellar exploration and, well, teenage angst.  But that
last one seems to be something of a requirement for Jinx.  :)  Like
Blabbermouth, the core plot is a mystery.  Unlike Blabbermouth, it's a sort
of mystery that requires elements of the fantastic (or super-science, of
course), and it balances the implausible with the possible very well.
Strongly recommended.  $9.99/$11.99Cn 
     Atomic Robo #2 (of 6): Red5 Comics - Booyah.  Nested flashbacks
involving giant ants and Flying Tigers (the pre-WWII fliers, not actual
felines in the air...although that would certainly fit the tone of the book
too).  It continues to be wonderfully snarky without actually descending into
bad camp (i.e. there's a serious debate among the support crew about the
nigh-whimsical science that could possibly be causing giant ants, since Them
don't make no real-world sense).  Strongly recommended.  $2.95
     From The Desk Of Septina Nash: The Penguins of Doom: Blooming Tree Press
- Okay, not actually a comic.  But it's an illustrated story, and set (more
or less) in a superhero universe, so that's good enough for me.  Greg
Fishbone, whose previous foray into prodom was the short-lived superhero
prose magazine Mythic Heroes, has mined his Superguy (see for
an eventual wiki) stories here, with Septina Nash being the daughter of Sal
the Garbageman and one of the Serially Numbered Underlings.  As the seventh
child of a pair of seventh children, Septina has a Mysterious Heritage that
is revealed (sort of) over the course of the letters that form this book.
It's a collection of letters from the desk of Septina Nash, mostly done on
special stationery she gets between the first and second letters, and spot-
illustrated with drawings by Fishbone that definitely look like a 13 year old
might have done them.  :)  Now, one thing about the way this story progresses
is that while Septina presents all sorts of weird events with a straight face
(metaphorically speaking) in these letters (mostly excuse letters written to
various teachers), it doesn't seem like any of it could be true.  And to a
totally uninitiated reader, that makes the later events something of a
surprise, but since I knew going in that this was at least partly based on
the Superguy setting, it was much murkier to me how much of Septina's letters
could be taken as true (after all, even if you live in the same world as
Sporkman, it doesn't mean he's going to be responsible for your missing
homework).  In any case, Fishbone has extensive experience writing about
weird tweens and teens, and it shows here.  Strongly recommended.  $13.95
(might be hard to find in brick and mortar just yet, supports it,
and you can also find it at, but not the signed-by-author

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 11/14:

     Still missing and might come in: Fallen Angel #15, Doktor Sleepless #2,
PS238 #25, Transformers Beast Wars Sourcebook #1m (all of these have been
covered in my CBR Special) Sky Sharks #2 and Gamma Files.     


"Well, At Least They Noticed" Award to Gargoyles #6

"Sucks When Your Enemies Know Your Psych Lims" Award to Badger Bull!

"Sifting The Wheat" Award to Thor #4

"You'd Think A Little Returning From The Dead Would Be Passe By Now"
     Award to Captain Marvel #1 (of 5)

"Red And Gold Is The New Black" Award to Avengers: the Initiative #7

"Needlessly Messianic" Award to X-Factor #25

"Okay, One Of 'Em I Don't Mind" Award to Titans East Special #1

"Some New Definition Of Safe I Was Heretofore Unfamiliar With" Award to
     Salvation Run #1 (of 7)

"The Things You Do For Family" Award to Green Arrow and Black Canary #2

"A V.I.N.CENT Moment" Award to Booster Gold #4

"Fifteen Minutes Of Frame" Award to Gen13 v4 #14

"Fifteen Minutes Of Flame" Award to Welcome to Tranquility #12 

"Daddy Issues" Award to Confessions of a Blabbermouth

"MUCKing About" Award to Kimmie66

"How About 'Looks Like This Is Your Turn!'?" Award to Atomic Robo #2 (of 6)

"Frink!" Award to From The Desk Of Septina Nash: The Penguins of Doom

     Dave Van Domelen, "Automobiles have been the best melee weapons against
giant monsters since the '50s.  It's science FACT." - Atomic Robo
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