November 28/29, 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.
Crap, Maximum Darkness is an audiobook.  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 - 

     Omega the Unknown #3 (of 10): Marvel - Largely more of the same as last
issue.  There does seem to be a bit more coherence to the plot, though.
     The Order #5: Marvel - The focus character this time is the team's media
handler, although she's not in the fight scenes.  :)  Some very good banter
and combat quips this time around.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     The Twelve #0: Marvel - One of two "dredge up unrevamped 1940s
characters" projects out this month.  This zero issue reprints stories with
Rockman, Laughing Mask and the Phantom Reporter, then shows the updated
designs for the whole team and the same preview pages that appeared in
Previews.  An interesting look at the lesser lights of the Golden Age.
Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Ms. Marvel #22: Marvel - Aaron is only in this for one page, but he
steals the show as usual.  The main story is head-trippy but not as
compelling as Reed probably hoped.  Mildly 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): Marvel Atlas
#1 (notable mainly for sourcebook geeks like me)

     Gargoyles: Bad Guys #1: Slave Labor Graphics - Wow.  Bad webcomic art
inside, black and white.  Reminds me of some of the 1980s B&W Explosion
comics, with inking (or in this case, photoshopping) skills far outstripping
the underlying line art that's being embellished.  It might be shooting for
animated-style abstraction, but what it hits is ugly amateur hour work.  It
does improve a bit by the end of the issue, suggesting the potential for
talent here, just really raw and inexperienced.  Sadly, the story isn't
really worth it either.  Team of misfits and supposedly redeemed villains
gets blown up on their way to a mission, cue flashback for assembling the
team, eh.  Avoid.  It's definitely off my pull.  $2.95
     Transformers Devastation #3 (of 6/TFG1 #19): IDW - While the Headmasters
plot gets some service, this is mainly about an extended chase scene.
However, the purity of plot looks to be about over, as the last page starts
throwing plot elements in right and left...planetkiller or even
dimensionkiller level threats (and mis-aimed word balloons).  It portends a
badly incoherent wrapup to this arc, I'm afraid, unless it's meant to be deep
foreshadowing for the next couple of arcs (in which case, the way it's all
dumped at once is simply bad pacing).  Just dealing with both Sixshot and the
Headmasters is a tad busy for a six issue arc, tossing in these other threats
is just messy.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99 (I got cover A by Su)
     Cable & Deadpool #47: Marvel - Dr. Strange is the guest in this latest
issue of Twisted Team-up Theater, and it's a grand tour of killing his way
across the Ditkorealms, whee!  Ron Lim art is much appreciated after getting
past yet another lame Skottie Young cover.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Marvel Atlas #1 (of 2): Marvel - This one seems to cover the Eastern
Hemisphere, more or less, chunked up by continent rather than straight
alphabetical.  Europe (giving new meaning to the term "Balkanized"!), Asia
and then the Pacific, which leaves Africa, the Americas and maybe the Moon
for #2 (which comes out in March, making this part of the monthly OHOTMU
cycle, as evidenced by its general appearance).  Pretty thorough, including
both real life info and stuff like "prominent superhumans", as well as
listing first appearances for the fictional nations that utterly warp the
borders of Europe.  Poor Bulgaria lost over half its real-life territory.
Oddly, it seems that at least one nation got cut for space, the fictional
Draburg gets no entry (although it does get placed in the map between Poland
and Belarus), even though Slorenia (which has only been in comics since 1994
and is a "permanently destroyed" nation) gets two pages.  One other oddity,
Monster Island is correctly placed on the north end of Japan, but in
Ms. Marvel next week it's placed in the Bermuda Triangle...guess they
should've passed the drafts of this around the office a bit.  Anyway, there
are occasional inset maps of locations of interest, such as Olympus or
Doomstadt, and every nation gets a flag.  There's no guarantee the info here
won't be contradicted regularly (heck, it doesn't even make it out of 2007
without being contradicted!), but it appeals to both my guidebook penchant
and my lifelong thing for maps (when other kids in gradeschool wanted to be
baseball players or firemen, I went through a phase where I wanted to be a
cartographer...until I realized satellites were going to make it moot before
I was old enough to do it for a living).  Recommended.  $3.99/$4.05Cn [Later
notes: As I read it in more details, I'm finding a number of contradictions
and oddities.  Transylvania is a separate nation on the maps, but most of
Romania's entry is really about Transylvania.  Carnelia is stated to be a
former part of Montenegro, but is drawn as part of Croatia without even a
border with Montenegro.  And some of the categories of entries are divided in
an unclear way...Nonhuman Population, Domestic Superhumans and Superhuman
Residents sometimes overlap inconsistently.  A friend tells me this was
originally supposed to be a three issue series, and there's enough other
missing nations to make that seem likely.]
     GIJoe the Data Desk Handbook N-Z: Devil's Due Press - Speaking about
guidebooks, here's another.  :) You know, some character designs
(i.e. Scalpel) just can't be made to look non-stupid, although I appreciate
the effort the artists make.  But when did Shipwreck become a blond hobo?  A
few characters shown in group shots last issue get individual entries here,
and as I hoped there's an "everyone we could think of" summary at the end.
First a list of reserves and dead lesser lights among hte Joes, giving
codename, specialty and status (Reserve, Deceased, and a couple of
Active/Advisory people...Gears and Hi-Tech got shafted on not getting full
entries.  But no "retired".  You don't retire from GIJoe).  Then there's the
Threat Matrix, which does the same "everyone who didn't get an entry" thing
for the bad guys, listing name, affiliation and status (At Large, In Custody,
Deceased or Unknown).  Poor Serpentor gets stuck in this section.  I am
amused that Dr. Biggles-Jones has an affiliation of "Cobra?"  After posting
my review of A-M I was told that these entries all come out of the backs of
DDP's regular GIJoe comics, making this a reprint series, but that can
explain some of the odd choices in who does and doesn't get full entries.
Some of them may just be planned for later, and we might get an update issue
of this down the line if DDP keeps the license.  Recommended.  $3.50
     Gen13 Armageddon #1: DC/Wildstorm - Jonboy Meyers is one of those
artists who clearly learned his "craft" by copying J.Campbell comics, and
missed the line between "inspired by" and "slavish copy of".  However, he
does seem to have some decent structural skills under that, and the overly
busy coloring isn't at the level of murkworks, so the art is tolerable.  Gage
repeats the formula of Tranquility Armageddon, sending a character into the
future post-oops to run around and fight stuff but ultimately not find out
what caused the disaster.  Unfortunately, he also chooses to keep the
annoying cursive-style narration boxes Simone created for Caitlin.  But while
the plot is something of a wash, the scripting is pretty good, making this
worth reading.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Superman Annual #13: DC - Weird timing issues.  This picks up from
Superman #667...and it doesn't say good things about my opinions of the whole
Arion storyline that I didn't even NOTICE it was interrupted three months ago
for the Third Kryptonian arc.  We get a flashback to soften the "the future
is doomed!" stuff from early in the Arion storyline, then a big slugfest in
which Arion turns into Cthulhu, then foreshadowing and some (not always
accurate) data file entries.  A lighthearted "picnic on an alien world" story
rounds out the Annual.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99/$4.75Cn
     Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #36: DC - Well, Bedard wraps up
his intermezzo here, and Brainy Explains It All.  This is the final issue of
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, it seems (not being cancelled, just
re-titled again), and it's sort  I mean, the overall plan was clever
and everything, but the Big Reveal to the mystery of "how can Supergirl be
stuck in the future and active in the present" was rather anticlimactic.  And
I still don't like Calero's art.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Teen Titans #53: DC - It feels like this storyline is spinning out of
McKeever's control just a tad.  Like we're about to find out that it's all a
big illusion or something, because he got told to change things in mid-
stream.  There's still plenty of good individual pieces, mind you, but the
story as a whole is starting to feel a bit cracked.  Recommended for the
pieces, but not the whole.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Blue Beetle #21: DC - Oops, warning sign on the cover...different
creative team (Peniston and Kuhn).  Fortunately, the credits clearly list
them as guests.  More fortunately, Peniston turns in a pretty good fill-in
story, and when Kuhn's trying to fit into Albuquerque's style his own stuff
looks a little better.  This issue picks up a few threads from various
subplots and manages to not feel like a complete sidetrack, more like a
breather.  Not up to the level of the usual creative team, but still
recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn

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 11/29:

     Still missing and might come in: Fallen Angel #15, Doktor Sleepless #2,
PS238 #25, Transformers Beast Wars Sourcebook #1 (all of these have been
covered in my CBR Special), Sky Sharks #2, Gamma Files, Official Handbook to
the Gold Digger Universe #11.


"Keenspace FCBD Flashbacks" Award to Gargoyles: Bad Guys #1

"Hunter, That Was SUCH A Straight Line" Award to Transformers Devastation #3
     (of 6)

"Nobody Here But Us Mindless Ones" Award to Cable & Deadpool #47

"I'm Surprised More Cartographers In The Marvel U Don't Become Insane
     Supervillains" Award to Marvel Atlas #1 (of 2)

"I Am Utterly Unsurprised That There's A Dreadnok Named Cletus" Award to
     GIJoe The Data Desk Handbook N-Z

"Yes, They Really ARE That Big" Award to Gen13 Armageddon #1

"Mmmm, Babootch" Award to Superman Annual #13

"Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These" Award to Supergirl and the Legion of
     Super-Heroes #36

"Inobvious Accessible Focus Are A Bad Idea" Award to Teen Titans #53

"The Gods Must Be Pissed Off" Award to Blue Beetle #21

     Dave Van Domelen, "Hey, Caitlin.  Touch your future self and see if the
world explodes."  "You are NOT getting me to feel myself up, Eddie." - Gen13
Armageddon #1
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