October 31, 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.
Optimus Helmet + Trenchcoat = Matrix Prime  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 #2 (of 10): Marvel - Eh.  A bit more linear and
comprehensible, but pretty aggressive about pointing the camera away from the
action.  Not so much artistically pretentious as dull,n though.
$2.99/$3.05Cn (and they finally catch up with the exchange rate.)
     The Order #4: Marvel - Well, it's finally kicking into gear, and it
helps that the focus character this issue is a genuine Good Person, not a
hero with feet of clay or an attention whore or action junkie.  If this keeps
up, I may just get the first trade and start picking up the series.
     Annhilation Conquest #1 (of 6): Marvel - Getting the players from the
various minis together to try again to stop the Phalanx, and as a final page
reveal we see why they're so much more effective than they used to.
     Annihilation: Conquest - Starlord #4 (of 4): Marvel - Cleverly, they
left this group completely out of the main miniseries' first issue, so there
wouldn't be any hint whether there was a Total Party Kill.  :)  Ending's a
bit anticlimactic, but overall it's a decent read.  Mildly recommended.
     Ms. Marvel #21: Marvel - Well, the mystery alien is IDed on the first
story page, but its previous appearance made so little impact on me that I
still don't recognise it.  We finally see Aaron's "signing bonus" and it's
about as disturbing as one might expect.  At least the plot's tying back
together.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.05Cn
     Fantastic Four #551: Marvel - Guess I was wrong, McDuffie's still on the
book.  And from cosmic present he goes to time travel and the road Reed's
been traveling since throwing his lot in with the Illuminati.  Looks very
good at this point.  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): Weirdling GN

     Action Comics #858: DC - Ah, the joys of modern DC pseudo-continuity,
where everything is possible, but until you've bought a dozen or so issues of
a given story you don't know what elements of the past they're cherrypicking.
This ties in with the JLA/JSA crossover with a Legion of Super-Heroes that's
more or less pre-Crisis.  But, apparently, with a Things Went Horribly Wrong
event straight out of an old issue of Marvel's What If?  (i.e. What If the
Legion Failed To Stop Universo? or something along those lines).  Your basic
"suffer not a happy future to live" thing.  As you might have gathered, I'm
not terribly sanguine about how this is going or how it'll turn out, but the
Gary Frank artwork is just enough to pick it up.  Mildly recommended.
     Justice Society of America #10: DC - Speaking of continuity hash,
Earth-22 (Kingdom Come) fully crosses over with JSA this issue.  It's mostly
low-level angst and talking about Superman-22's background (interspersed with
painted pages by Alex Ross).  The main fight-like conflict near the end is
your basic Idiot Plot, unfortunately.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn 
     Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #35: DC - Still don't like
Calero's art.  Fun with Atom Girl, but otherwise it felt pretty padded, like
Bedard really only had 1.5 issues' worth of story for the Lallor sub-arc,
including interludes.  A fair amount of fan service (of the geek/reference
kind, not the nudity kind), but not a lot of story to speak of.  Mildly
recommended.  $2.99/$3.65Cn
     Dynamo5 #8: Image - Yay, Firebirds!  I've been expecting Faerber to
bring them into the story with actual lines ever since he had them cameo at
the funeral scene in #1, and it looks like he's put the original one-shot
back into print to boot (fans of the mother-daughter legacy hero type of
story may want to check it out, my original capsule for it can be found at
http://brrdd.com/?18).  Anyway, this is more of a fallout issue, dealing with
some of the personal problems caused by recent action (okay, being in a coma
may go a little beyond "personal problem"), and Faerber takes the opportunity
to flesh out his corner of the shared setting a little more.  Recommended.
$2.99 (new lower price)
     Sky Sharks #3: Antarctic Press - Okay, so I ordered this back when #1
was solicited, but my store never got #1.  But by that time I'd read that
issue on the Rod Espinosa DVD-ROM, and wasn't enthused enough about the
title to make a fuss.  #2 likewise never showed.  But #3 did, and it was
still sitting on my pull list, so I figured what the heck, and asked them to
try reordering #2 (yeah, like that's ever gonna show up from Diamond).  The
setting is reminiscent of Crimson Skies in some ways, an alternate past after
a great war in which pulp-style fighter pilots are the main protagonists and
antagonists.  However, it skews a little higher on the fantastical side,
given the Rocketeer pastiche in this issue.  Some of the aerial combat scenes
are a little hard to follow for someone jumping right in.  Mildly
recommended.  $3.50/$4.05Cn
     Ninja High School #154: Antarctic Press - Time for another threat to be
added to the mix, although it looks like this is more of a "here's a taste of
the Next Big Arc once we're done with the evil ninja clan thing" preview.
Aside from that, it's all about poor Ricky's inheritance of the Feeple
"Tenchi Field" that gets exotic and beautiful women throwing themselves at
him.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.45Cn
     Gold Digger v3 #89: Antarctic Press - The serious side of the story
delves into D'bra's past and teenaged angst, while the main part of it
involves Gina and Penny running away a LOT, including from some monsters that
almost merit this comic being shrinkwrapped.  ;)  Fun *and* charcacter
developing.  Recommended.  $2.99/$3.45Cn
     The Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe Sourcebook #10:
Antarctic Press - Natasha through...PEEBOS!  Yay Peebos!  The weird cover
effects I mentioned for a previous issue are largely gone, although the lack
of blur on the jets of Night Flight make them look like they're not much
bigger than the Peebos.  Oh, THAT'S a story I'd like to see...Peebos versus
miniaturized Night Flight!  ;)  Recommended.  $3.95/$4.55Cn
     Transformers Beast Wars Sourcebook #2 (of 3): IDW - Still no sign of #1
here, sigh.  Elephorca (Blentron recolor of Torca) through Noctorro.
Amusingly, since both the U.S. and BWII versions of the lion/elephant/eagle
combiner were named Magnaboss, the BWII version gets to be called Magnaboss
II.  Luck of the draw kept most of the "same name, many toys" characters out
of this set, and Megatron merited enough pages to at least get his original
two-pack and barneytron versions in art, although the Transmetal and
Transmetal II forms aren't shown.  Showing the "croc" (actually a gavial)
mode is an odd choice, though, as the bio note doesn't mention it at all.
The backgrounds aren't quite as empty as they looked in the CBR of #1 (I
still don't have the hardcopy of that), but there's still an awful lot of
empty space.  Even if they didn't want to go back and get the writers to
provide more text, they could have played with font size to fill the space a
little better.  Still, recommended.  $6.99  [Correction, gatorMegs gets one
line in the writeup.  And for that nearly half the space given for the entire
character goes to art for it.  Horribly bad editorial decision.]
     Biff-Bam-Pow #1: Amaze Ink - Man, this was solicited for JUNE.  So now
my "most delayed" book is Confessions of a Blabbermouth, assuming it didn't
pull a Gamma Files and come-out-but-not-here and I didn't notice it on the
release lists.  This is an anthology book of Dorkin & Dyer's more
kid-friendly stuff, dominated by Kid Blastoff's setting, plus a few other
short pieces.  The humor sometimes goes a little too "talking down to kids",
but usually avoids that trap (the worst offender was written specifically for
Nickelodeon Magazine).  Recommended.  $2.95  [Update: Yeah, Confessions of a
Blabbermouth did indeed come out MONTHS ago, but Diamond couldn't be arsed to
ship any, apparently.  Doesn't bode well for Kimmie66 next week.]
     Weirdling GN: Strange Fear - Creator Mike Dubisch contacted me with an
offer of a review copy, so this isn't necessarily the week you'll be able to
find this in stores.  But it's definitely appropriate for reviewing today,
and does a better job overall of evoking Mythos than Fall of Cthulhu did.
The premise is that Anna is a surgeon at Miskatonic University in Victorian
times and also a medic in an interstellar war in the far future, and each
identity dreams of the other, with it being left uncertain which was the true
Anna (and, frankly, it could be both).  Some of the future-setting infodumps
are inelegant, and it's pretty clear this was originally written for serial
release (there's occasional recaps that seem out of place) which causes a few
problems early in the story.  But, aside from a few stylistic quirks, it's a
good story.  Dubisch's art style is strongly reminiscent of Mike Gustovich,
and given that both have worked on Palladium books this may not be
coincidental.  :)  (And if Mike Adams isn't a pseudonym, that makes three
Mikes sharing the style.)  Aside from a color cover, it's all black and white
line art, no computer shading or effects aside from the occasional screentone
(and even those are relatively rare...there's a LOT of tiny little lines
inked in by hand).  http://www.dubisch.com/weirdling is one of the several
webpages he has set up with promotional materials if you want to see the art
for yourself.  Anyway, if you like your Mythos at the cosmic end of things,
and prefer protagonists who face horror without whining about it, you should
definitely check this out.  Recommended in general.  Some nudity.
$15.95/$19.95Cn  [Later note: looks like it's due out November 7.]

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 10/31:

     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.)  Add Sky Sharks #2 (which I guess I missed coming
out) and Gamma Files (which my store never got at all and I missed on the
release lists). 
     Cancelled by Diamond: Transformers Timelines (also covered in the CBR


"We Forgot To Mention, The Future Sucks" Award to Action Comics #858

"I Mean, REALLY Sucks" Award to Justice Society of America #10

"And It's Ugly" Award to Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #35

"What's A MILF, Dear?" Award to Dynamo5 #8

"Probably Not The First Guy In The Rig, Actually" Award to Sky Sharks #3

"Kin Of The Rumpled" Award to Ninja High School #154

"I Know She's A Leggy Blonde, But REALLY" Award to Gold Digger v3 #89

"The Perfect Disguise!" Award to The Official Handbook of the Gold Digger
     Universe #10

"Mantid Wars" Award to Transformers Beast Wars Sourcebook #2 (of 3)

"A Surprisingly Common Origin, Though" Award to Biff-Bam-Pow! #1

"It's Hard To Corner A Non-Euclidean Enemy" Award to Weirdling GN

     Dave Van Domelen, "FISH!  FISH!  FISH!  FISH!  FISH!  FISH!  FISH!
FISH!  FISH!" - Lucy, Biff-Bam-Pow! #1
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