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 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 - 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. $2.99/$3.05Cn 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 Capsules: 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 section. 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 of...eh. 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. Awards: "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 #1Back to the Main Rants Page.
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