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Dave's Comics Capsules for September 2021 [message #411418] Thu, 30 September 2021 12:21
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Dave's Comicbook Capsules Et Cetera
Intermittent Picks and Pans of Comics and Related Media

Standard Disclaimers: Please set appropriate followups. Recommendation does
not factor in price. Not all books will have arrived in your area this month.
An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants
Looks like this COVID surge is ending, time for the next one?

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Way of the
House Husband vol 6, Wayne Family Adventures

In this installment: Black Widow (BluRay), Wayne Family Adventures, Way
of the House Husband vol 6, Earth Boy, Shang-Chi #4, Moon Knight #3,
RWBY/Justice League #6 (of 7), Vampirella #24 (of 25), Norse Mythology II #4
(of 6), Save Yourself! #4 (of 4), Scoot Frontiers #1, Impossible Jones #1,
Kaijumax Season 6 #3 (of 6), Transformers Halloween 2021, Transformers: King
Grimlock #2 (of 5), Transformers: Shattered Glass #2 (of 5), Transformers
Beast Wars #8, Transformers #34-5.

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed
to order): Soulstream GN. It didn't ship release week, so my store
re-ordered it...and got a copy of the $1.99 preview comic instead.


"Other Media" Capsules:

Things that are comics-related but not necessarily comics (i.e.
comics-based movies like Iron Man or Hulk), or that aren't going to be
available via comic shops (like comic pack-ins with DVDs) will go in this
section when I have any to mention. They may not be as timely as comic
reviews, especially if I decide to review novels that take me a week or two
(or ten) to get around to.

Black Widow: Marvel Studios - I keep calling this Red Widow, partly
because the BluRay box is red, but mostly because I wrote a faux-golden age
heroine named Red Widow for some of my amateur fiction. :) Anyway, some
have compared this to the Roger Moore era of James Bond in terms of "Spies
with all the wonderful toys" stuff, but really it's Steranko SHIELD on the
big screen. With a touch of Kirby. While it opens with a childhood
flashback scene and ends with a post-Endgame epilogue, most of the action is
between Civil War and Infinity War. It finally explores what Natasha and
Clint did in Budapest, but only as setup for a final-and-we-mean-it-this-time
confrontation with the Red Room project that turned Natasha into the (well,
a) Black Widow. It also brings in Yelena from the comics, the replacement
Black Widow that Marvel tried to push for a while before bringing Natasha
back, and a host of other Black Widows, thereby ensuring that even though
Natasha died in Endgame, they can still have a Black Widow in future movies.
Along for the ride is the Red Guardian, who is largely comic relief...a
counter to Captain America who has never met Captain America and who was only
a costumed patriotic hero for a few years in the 1980s when there weren't
really any other costumed heroes for him to encounter. So he's kinda bitter.
Overall, it's a pretty good Super Spy flick, ending in a sufficiently large
and explosive set piece battle to justify its budget. A few of the plot
points are a bit forced, but that's only a problem if you're expecting gritty
realistic spy thriller stuff (to the extent that the phrase isn't a massive
contradiction in terms). It also has a touch of heist flick structure in the
final act, where they flashback on the planning just before revealing how
things are actually going to plan. If I have one substantive complaint about
the movie, it's that they're reusing a Shock Reveal plot device from another
MCU movie. Once is clever, twice is starting to become a cliche.
Recommended. Price varies by format and store. Will be free on Disney+
streaming in early October.


Digital Content:

Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so (such as a lack of
regular comics), I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column.
Rather, stuff in this section will generally be full books available for
reading online or for download, usually for pay.

Wayne Family Adventures: DC/Webtoons -
https://www.webtoons.com/en/slice-of-life/batman-wayne-famil y-adventures/list?title_no=3180
As noted above, I don't generally review webcomics here. but this is a
notable exception. There's a lot of "slice of life" Bat-family fanfic out
there, and some of the best comes from a writer who goes by the Tumblr
username unpretty. Is the writer of this comic, CRC Payne, also unpretty? I
have no idea, but the feel is very similar, and that's a big compliment.
While maybe compatible with regular comics continuity, that's not really the
point of this strip. It's the Bat-Family being...you know...a family. If I
have a complaint, it's that the strip is too heavily optimized for reading on
a phone app, I have to manually shrink the tab to about 70% in order to see
an entire panel on screen at once. Updates Thursdays (or late Wednesdays).
Strongly recommended.


Trades:

Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever.
If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here.

Way of the House Husband vol 6: Viz - The world around the Immortal
Dragon is starting to get a bit more Yakuza-flavored, but it's hard to say if
that's just his perceptions coloring the storytelling or if his presence in
the story is starting to affect his community. Anyway, the rough patch of
vol 4 is well behind us, and I laughed out loud many times while reading this
volume. Strongly rcommended. $12.99/$17.99Cn/#9.99UK

Earth Boy: Dark Horse - Okay, I decided to pick this up because it was
advertised in Dark Horse's FCBD offering, and because I usually like Paul
Tobin's work. The basic story, a sci-fi version of the experiences of a
quota student, is solid. But there's a lot of sloppy science in places where
it's not even needed for the plot. A frequent problem I have with space
travel comics is that the writers have no sense of the scale of things, and
while eventually the story settles down into talking about vague numbers of
megaparsecs, early on it's implied that a mere fraction of a light-century
would get one out of the galaxy entirely (one light-century won't even get to
all of the stars visible with the naked eye in a suburb). And then he tosses
in a fantasy element of "Oh, and time flows differently on every planet,"
which never actually has narrative relevance. It was...irksome. It's like
Tobin remembered some science from other reading, but didn't bother with any
research before writing this, as if kids interested in space won't know he's
getting it wrong. Ron Chan's art is okay, if a bit crowded at times. I'm
not sure who I'd recommend this to...people who like thinly veiled allegories
for surviving racism and like sci-fi but don't worry about science? I mean,
I at least managed to finish it, which I wasn't sure I'd do after the
quarter-way point. Neutral. $12.99/$17.50Cn


Floppies:

No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they
*are* floppy, yes? (And not all of them come out monthly, or on a regular
schedule in general, so I can't just call this section "Monthlies" or even
"Periodicals" as that implies a regular period.)

Shang-Chi #4: Marvel - It's #4, that means Fantastic Four as Shang-Chi
finds reasons to end up at loggerheads with various Marvel heroes. This
time, he needs to rescue someone he has reason to believe is in the Negative
Zone, but by this point he's put enough noses out of joint that Reed Richards
won't just let him use the portal (if that seems hypocritical, this IS Reed
Richards we're talking about). So, fight scene to get in, fight scene once
inside, surprise rescue, and more heroes Have A Concern. Structurally, I can
see why this arc needs to be as long as it is, but it's starting to feel
draggy. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Moon Knight #3: Marvel - MacKay has definitely decided that his hook for
Moon Knight is "Interesting," very much in the "Oh god oh god we're all gonna
die" sense. Embracing his problematic past and present, as it were. Last
issue he faced a pawn of one of his two new antagonists, and he initially
thinks that Hunter's Moon (the other priest of Khonshu introduced in #1) was
behind it. In an inter...um, amusing subversion of the usual "heroes fight
over a misunderstanding, then team up" trope, Moon Knight and Hunter's Moon
fight over a misunderstanding, clear up the misunderstanding, and then fight
harder because HM is your stereotypical "stick up the butt" Paladin type who
considers Marc to be evil for consorting with vampires and other bits of
ethical flexibility. To some extent, this series so far has been about
clarifying what Moon Knight is NOT. He's not just regular crazy (but he is
that too). He's not an uncompromising moral terrorist (but he is
terrifying). Recommended. $3.99

RWBY/Justice League #6 (of 7): DC/Rooster Teeth - The big fight begins,
seems to be going well, then it all goes horribly wrong and a desperation
Plan B is enacted. So, you know, the usual. Very little actual character
stuff...a moment of bonding over speed powers between Flash and Ruby, a
perfunctory "messing with everyone's heads over past trauma" scene, but for a
big climax is kinda feels like padding. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Vampirella #24 (of 25): Dynamite - Welp, looks like #25 is the final
issue. This whole wedding arc does feel like it was supposed to be built up
over a longer time, but was always intended to be Priest's endgame...it just
sort of gets sprung on the reader hot on the heels of the Drakulon arc. A
lot of this issue is flashback (with kinda iffy art) to backfill the
motivations of all involved, and it feels a bit clumsy. Ah well. Mildly
recommended. $3.99

Norse Mythology II #4 (of 6): Dark Horse Comics - The second half of the
Utgard story, pretty well executed. Recommended. $3.99

Save Yourself! #4 (of 4): Boom Box! - In classic Saturday serial
tradition, the cliffhanger is resolved by rolling back the clock and showing
how the heroes (and villain) got out of it in the nick of time. From there,
it's almost entirely denouement, with a strong implication that if there's
going to be a volume 2, it'll need to start from scratch. No particular
danglers, it's happily ever after. The climax ends up being pretty
anticlimactic in terms of an action story, but it works out okay in terms of
a romance story. Recommended. $3.99

Scoot Frontiers #1: Scoot! (Scout) - I debated putting this up with
trades, since it's magazine-sized. 72 pages on thick matte paper, a mix of
TPB previews (part of the standalone Soulstream #1 is reprinted here, for
instance), introduction stories, and standalone shorts, plus activity pages
aimed at the kindergarten age range, give or take a year. The coloring pages
are a bit high-detail for little kids, maybe more for the 7-9 range? The
stories themselves mostly skew older, I suspect that any kids engaged by the
activities will find the stories a bit advanced, and kids whose level is even
with the stories will find the activities to be boring kiddie stuff. Anyway,
it's hard to say much based on the first issue, since I'm aggressively
outside the target audience and my pedagogical training does not extend to
early childhood and grade school. Still, I'll give it another issue to see
where it's going, and see if it settles on a niche. If you have little kids
it's worth checking out. $9.99 (72 pages)

Impossible Jones #1: Scout - This was another of those impulse buys I
try to make each month, spurred by Karl Kesel (and several of my friends)
flooding my facebook feed with it the day it came out. My rough impression
of the title character is, "Plastic Man, but a woman, and with her origin in
Physics rather than Chemistry." I'm sure some parallels to the Mask will be
drawn, in the sense that she's a Toon in a standard superhero setting (see
also Slapstick). She's still basically a crook, but recognizes it's more fun
to do the hero thing than be on the run from the heroes. The story bounces
(pun intended) between the "present day" in which Jones foils a heist by a
Christmas-themed villain, and her origin story. Jones exists in a world that
has had superheroes and villains for a while, but the reader just has to
catch up along the way...no Silver Age style captions or even thought bubbles
to fill in the background. In a weird inversion of the otherwise
pseudo-Silver Age tone of the book, the cover is matte and the pages are
glossy. Overall, it feels like I was expected to have already read the
Kickstarted graphic novel before picking up this comic, and I'm more annoyed
by that feeling than interested in picking up the GN. Mildly recommended. I
may or may not pick up #2, I didn't add this to my pull. $3.99

Kaijumax Season 6 #3 (of 6): Oni Press - Whoogh, a lot of irons in the
fire, not just advancing the multiple plot threads (fighting the invasion,
Electrogor's personal life, the heist by the cryptids, Taekwon and his
girlfriend's not exactly healthy relationship), but also tossing in some
flashbacks to the last big war against these invaders, during which several
of the series regulars got to develop bad PTSD. Certainly, on its own this
is a bit too scattered to make for a good read, but when you're tying up six
volumes' worth of plot threads, a bit of "writing for the trade" is
unavoidable. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Transformers Halloween Special 2021: IDW - Starscream hunts down an old
ghost story, and finds a ghost from his own past in the process. It's hard
to place it exactly in continuity, since it's pretty much all Decepticons and
the main comic focuses on the Autobots (well, I guess Bumblebee isn't an
Autobot yet, but neither is he really a Decepticon). While the actual horror
part doesn't really kick in until near the end, that's not too unusual for
horror vignettes, where it's the twist at the end that turns them into
horror. Recommended. $5.99 (30 pages of story, 14 pages of ads and variant
covers.)

Transformers: King Grimlock #2 (of 5): IDW - Okay, it's going beyond
just recapitulating the G1 episode here, and Grimlock ends up in the odd (for
him) position of trying to be a balance point rather than being the most
bloodthirsty jerk on the block. The art still bugs me, though, in part
because the style seems to be "if there's an open space, throw in some random
scratchy lines and call it texture." Like a super lazy version of the
Dreamwave-era "armor plating cracks like rotten concrete" style of surfacing.
Very mildly recommended. $3.99

Transformers: Shattered Glass #2 (of 5): IDW - Starscream finds Megatron
and they chat about old Starscream finds Megatron and they chat about old
times and future plans. While everyone else is different from their "regular
universe" counterparts, Megatron is the same person he started out as in the
IDW1 continuity: an idealistic rebel determined to win freedom for the common
Cybertronian. But just about everyone else is different. Starscream is
loyal. Shockwave suffers from too many emotions. Orion Pax is hopelessly
corrupt, but manages to hide it from Megatron in the early years.times and
future plans. While everyone else is different from their "regular universe"
counterparts, Megatron is the same person he started out as in the IDW1
continuity: an idealistic rebel determined to win freedom for the common
Cybertronian. But just about everyone else is different. Starscream is
loyal. Shockwave suffers from too many emotions. Orion Pax is hopelessly
corrupt, but manages to hide it from Megatron in the early years.
(Presumably this continuity lacks all the weird time loop stuff that
Shockwave did in IDW1, since this Shockwave is such a nice guy.) So, a more
nuanced setup than just "everyone has flipped ethically," although most
characters are still just jerks Because. (Also, coloring error, Bumblebee is
portrayed in Bug Bite colors in one flashback which is meant as a sort of
reference to movie continuity...Megatron blows BB's face off, resulting in
the Goldbug rebuild.) Recommended. $3.99

Transformers Beast Wars #8: IDW - Speaking of bad art, now that the
relief over getting rid of the previous artist has faded, the new artist is
starting to bug me too. Is IDW trying to save money by no longer hiring
anyone with experience? Art aside, this is very much Blackarachnia's issue,
as she deals with both the Maximals and the Predacons, to her own advantage
(or so she hopes). Optimus Primal complains a bit about how stupid the plot
has been so far, and swears to not do more idiot plot...good luck with that.
Mildly recommended. $3.99

Transformers #34-35: IDW - The two regular covers are similar in
composition, with Termagax rising behind the foreground, and the foreground
indicates the struggle for the Enigma of Combination (which is very much a
Chekov's Gun since Pyra Magna and her girls are involved in the story).
Basically, the Autobots send a mission to make contact with Termagax
(spiritual mother of the Decepticon cause, but she renounces what they
became) in her high tech Baba Yaga's Hut and try to convince her to do more
to keep the Decepticons away from the Enigma. #34 is more talky aside from
swatting an Insecticon swarm, but then the Decepticons arrive in force in #35
and it's more fighty. Along the way, some Deep Lore is dropped about how the
galaxy at large seems to see Cybertron as a cancer that needs to be excised,
and at least some of their big problems historically may have been sent by
hostile aliens. Mildly recommended. $3.99 each.


Dave Van Domelen, "But know THIS. Before you decide to come after
FRIGHTENED CHILDREN under my protection AGAIN -- whomever and WHATEVER they
might be -- you better have what it takes to KILL ME FOR GOOD. Because when
I COME BACK -- AND I ALWAYS DO -- I'll DO YOU like they did OSIRIS. They'll
NEVER find all your pieces." - Moon Knight, Moon Knight #3
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