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Dave's Comicbook Capsules for January 2021 [message #404922] Thu, 28 January 2021 20:14
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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
And so begins another semester of "tech-supported" teaching.

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): nothing this
month.

In this installment: Monster Force Zero, Overwatch Tracer - London
Calling #4 (of 5), The League of Regrettable Superheroes, The League of
Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, The Other History of the DC Universe
#2 (of 5), Maestro: War and PAX #1 (of 5), The Rise of Ultraman #5 (of 5),
Shang-Chi #5 (of 5), Marvel Action Avengers 2020 #3 (of 12?), The Wrong
Earth; Day and Night #1 (of 6?), Sacred Six #6, Kaijumax Season 5 #6 (of 6),
Big Girls #6 (of 6?), My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #93-94, ROM Dire
Wraiths #3 (of 3), Transformers #26-27.

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed
to order): Nothing. A few things I got late enough in the month that I
didn't want to rush a review, though.


"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.

Monster Force Zero: Wild Eye Releasing - I'd never heard of this before
seeing it on the shelf for ten bucks at Walmart, but looking it up I found
that it was a GoFundMe project...and man, it really shouldn't have been
funded. About the only good thing I can say about this is that the
writer/producer didn't put himself in it as the star. I couldn't even make
myself watch most of the first half, which was trying to hard for camp and
missing so badly. The premise...I hesitate to call it a plot...is that two
rival groups of cosplayers (one established, one new and cosplaying
characters out of their indie comic book) are approached by Mysterious Forces
and compete for superhuman powers which they will use to save the world from
evil aliens, and the protagonist group are characters from their comic
Monster Force Zero. Lots and lots of footage shot at an actual convention
floor or after-hours in the same hotel or some nearby woods. There's an
obligatory "isn't that the guy from the thing?" cameo probably picked because
he was at the convention, some pretty bad fight choreography even by the
standards of grade Z movies, and lots of trying to be "so bad it's good," but
missing out on the second half. Ugh. $10 and not worth it even a little.

I picked up Batman: Soul of the Dragon and Doom Patrol S2 in the waning
days of the month, I'll review them next month (hopefully I can get through
all of DP by then!).


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.

Overwatch Tracer - London Calling #4 (of 5): Dark Horse - Lena's harness
is malfunctioning badly, causing her to slip in and out of time, and it's
implied (if not clearly stated) that her blip that led to Mondatta's death
was not an intentional dodge but instead was an early sign of the
malfunction. The main thrust of the issue, though, is that Omnics are too
human in every way, including the bad ones. Lena's punk friend starts to let
go of her anger and start looking for the truth, but finding it makes things
even worse. A lot of angst and sneaking around, a deliberately bleak tone
for just before the resolution. Mildly recommended, but it's free in this
format, so give it a shot.

Trades:

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

The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Quirk Books - This is from 2015,
I hit a "new" local used bookstore (extension of a store in the next town
over, with mostly stock bought from a used book store that used to be in the
same strip mall as my comic shop) and picked up this and the Black Dossier
below. This is one of those "coffee table books but smaller" deals, heavy on
pictures and a little "clever" writing. It's split into eras, with an
attempt to show that every era has some bad ideas, but a lot of it feels like
it was edited by whim, or that the writer wasn't that familiar with some eras
so just looked up other people's ideas of bad superheroes until there were
enough to fill the section. It's also notable that a few of the
"regrettable" heroes, like Phantomah, actually have a small fanbase these
days. Mildly recommended, no price on back as mine was a LootCrate edition.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier: America's Best
Comics - I don't know why I didn't pick this up when it came out in 2007,
it's not like I was unemployed or without a comics shop. Maybe I was turned
off by the 3-D glasses gimmick and the text-heavy nature, not realizing that
it was meant to be a sourcebook...as I am a sucker for sourcebooks. (The 3-D
is still super annoying, though. I had to use a strong flashlight to get
enough light on it to read the pages, and it gave me a headache.) Anyway,
there's a 1950s framing sequence in which Mina and Alan are breaking into
Fauxhall (MI6) to see what the government knows about their recent
activities, having severed ties before the postwar Big Brother government
took power. In between sections of their flight from James Bond, Bulldog
Drummond, and Emma Night (Peel), they and we get to read sections of the
Black Dossier. It sometimes breaks character, such as the inclusion of a bit
of porn for the proles that has nothing to do with the League, but mostly
it's stories about various extraordinary folks throughout the ages. It
introduces Orlando, who figures heavily in the later League books, as well as
Prospero, the Blazing World, and a bunch of other stuff that didn't fit into
the regular stories of the previous volumes. It's an interesting if
sometimes dense read (and the Kerouac riff is particularly off-putting), best
read in a well-lit but private location thanks to the 3-D, the nudity, and
the 3-D nudity. Recommended with those caveats. $29.99 new.

The Other History of the DC Universe #2 (of 5): DC Black Label - This
issue focuses on Bumblebee and Mal. While Bumblebee's gotten a lot more
visibility in recent years thanks to the decision to include her in the Teen
Titans cartoon and then the DC Superhero Girls cartoons, Mal and his concept
flail have been largely ignored. While this bit of meta was touched on a
little, Ridley focused more on how the two grew up and found a life outside
of being superteam tokens. It's told as a sort of dueling narrative, with
Mal getting a few pages, then Karen breaking in to point out how she saw that
and pick up the story for a bit, then back to Mal, etc. Karen is cast as a
bit of a straw skeptic, especially in the matter of Mal wrestling the angel
of death (she can accept stuff like Superman or Raven, but not that Mal
actually encountered an angel?), and also tends to cast herself in a better
light than Mal casts himself, while the combined narrative makes it clear
that he's better than he thinks and she's not as rational or sensible as she
thinks. It ties the events to the real world dates of publication, which
makes some of the aging weird, running from 1970 through the late 80s (the
last comics event referenced was the Wildebeest Society thing in 1987-88).
It also touches on some of the Black Lightning timeline, but mostly sticks
with Titans. As with #1, it feels less like a story told from the position
of the endpoint and more of a collection of conversations had at several
times, because the attitudes in the narration evolve over time. When they're
young and jumping to conclusions there's little or no indication that they
realize that they're doing so, only admissions later on that their previous
positions were unfounded or outright bad, just like Jefferson's bitterness in
earlier scenes was PRESENT rather than PAST. But despite that minor
stylistic quirk, it's a good fleshing out of some characters who didn't
really get much depth at the time. Recommended. $6.99

I got an order of Youneek trades at the end of the month, but I'd rather
not rush reading them (especially since they all came out last year or
earlier), so I'll cover them next month.


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.)

Maestro: War and PAX #1 (of 5): Marvel - Picking up not too long after
the previous series, Maestro is looking to bring the benefits of his rule to
the entire world, introducing it to PAX - Post Apocalyptic eXistence. The
"War" part of the title comes because no one really wants PAX. PAD brings
back the Pantheon (what's left of them) as well, and given that they played
no role at all in Future Imperfect I rather doubt they'll do very well in
this story.... I got the Skottie Young alternate cover, which doesn't really
apply to this issue, and is more suggestive of the final issue big fight. No
backup story, just an extra-length main story. Mildly recommended. $4.99

The Rise of Ultraman #5 (of 5): Marvel - Dominated by the "Giant
Ultraman vs. Bemular" fight, with a little bit of drama in the middle as one
of the supporting characters briefly interferes on justifiable grounds before
doing a rapid face turn to help beat the daikaiju. The Dark Secret the good
guys had been hiding since the 60s ends of faced head-on and this sets up the
next miniseries, the Trials of Ultraman. It's straddling a line between
classic Ultraman type action and a more gritty "there are no heroes and
everyone is doomed" stance, but so far manages to fall off the line and into
the abyss. Recommended. $3.99

Shang-Chi #5 (of 5): Marvel - "Nor is there anyone who loves or pursues
or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain." That's the
translation of the line that got chopped up into "lorem ipsum," and it
applies to the wounds Shang-Chi has been carrying for the last issue.
They're not for the pain itself, but for a purpose, and that purpose is
revealed in his climactic confrontation with Sister Hammer. In the end,
Shang-Chi comes to terms with his unwanted legacy and sets up future
miniseries, but I think I'll follow those based on who's writing rather than
just ordering them because of the character (the next one starts in
February). Mildly recommended, the pacing is a bit iffy. $3.99

Marvel Action Avengers (2020) #3 (of 12?): Marvel/IDW - Katie Cook wraps
up her three issues with White Rabbit managing to steal the Cloak of
Levitation, leading to a chase scene through New York that brings in bits of
the previous two issues and generally wraps up any loose ends that might have
been left. It's okay, working on its own as an alternate universe take that
doesn't really need to connect to prior or subsequent issues. Recommended.
$3.99

The Wrong Earth: Night and Day #1 (of 6?): Ahoy Comics - Okay, after
some flashback stories that didn't really grab me, they're back to the main
plotline of the first series, in which Dragonfly and Dragonflyman are stuck
in the wrong Earths, have new allies, and there's some sort of
interdimensional skullduggery going on that threatens the benign Earth Alpha.
And that means crossover time! Of course, each has spent enough time in the
other's world that they might be conflicted about permanently going
home...each sees how they could improve their counterpart's world thanks to a
different point of view. (No, that's only hinted at so far, not angsted
about at length yet.) Promising. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Sacred Six #6: Dynamite - We open with a few rounds of "Aha, you've
fallen into my trap!" "Actually, you fell into MY trap!" etc. At the end of
it, and a lot of red ink later, Lilith's endgame for the town is finally
revealed, and it turns out she's about as good at planning as she is at
childrearing. She gets results, sure, but maybe not the ones she wanted. A
bit more gory than usual for Priest's Vampi stuff. Mildly recommended.
$3.99

Kaijumax Season 5 #6 (of 6): Oni Press - Sometimes appealing to higher
principles fails, but poking at personal trauma does the trick. All three of
the main threads of this season come to a climax, but at least two of them
are left with a lot of questions and can't really be said to have been
resolved. I think one was meant to be ambiguous, but another felt like it was
supposed to have been adequately explained but I just don't get how all the
pieces fit. Recommended, but contingent on Season 6 clarifying some of this
stuff. $3.99

Big Girls #6 (of 6?): Image - Pretty much a continuation of the
fizzle-out climaxing of #5, in that the new fight is over almost immediately,
then another fight starts and it lasts a little bit but ends without direct
agency of the protagonist...more of an indirect "the benefits of mercy"
thing. In the end, it's set up to mostly be an okay series finale if the
book doesn't continue, but a few clear plot hooks for #7 or v2 #1. Mildly
recommended, I think it kinda flubbed the landing. $3.99

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #93: IDW - This is a done in one
issue focusing on Scootaloo and her parents...while she finally HAS parents
(and cool probably-lesbian aunts who she lives with) the show didn't really
do much with them in the limited time it had left. The conflict in this
story arises from the fact that while her parents have a seemingly cool
career (basically the Steve and Terri Irwin of Equestria), it turns out
Scoots isn't really interested in living that life...she finds it by turns
terrifying and boring...or boringly terrifying in some cases. And she feels
rotten for not being interested in what her parents are interested in.
Kenney does a decent job of setting up the conflict, having Scootaloo angst
about it, and then resolving it. Recommended. $3.99

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #94: IDW - Another thing Season 9 did
but didn't develop at ALL was the whole "rivals to lovers" angle between
Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich. So, at least initially, this arc is about
the two of them making that transition, nudged along a little by the Princess
of (Friend)shipping. Of course, it gets interrupted by some sort of magical
crisis so that there can be both a romantic cliffhanger and a regular
cliffhanger. Thom Zahler wrote this one, and I was kinda surprised I didn't
see obvious pony versions of his cupid comic characters in the background. I
guess Zahler didn't want to put it in the script and artist Kuusisto didn't
know about them or decided against the easter egg. Recommended. $3.99

ROM Dire Wraiths #3 (of 3): IDW - Man, I'd forgotten this hadn't come
out yet...it was delayed something like nine months? And ultimately, it felt
like I gained nothing from reading it. The body count was slightly lower
than I'd expected, but it took the boring way out of the prequel problem.
Don't bother. $3.99

Transformers #26: IDW - "War World" arc trade dress. The main fighting
as died down and the newly minted Decepticons are sweeping the streets for
stragglers, most of whom have had the sense to get out of Decepticon
territory. A rather lot of the issue is devoted to assembling Pyra Magna's
team and lampshading the birth of Victorion herself, plus some time from
Termagax's viewpoint as she makes one last forlorn hope attempt to talk the
Decepticons off the ledge and back onto the Ascenticon philosophy. (Oh, and
she's Baba Yaga, I guess.) A fair amount of World, but not a lot of War at
the moment. Mildly recommended. $3.99.

Transformers #27: IDW - Okay, NOW the cliffhanger from #24 gets more
than a throwaway line. It's like Ruckley assumes no one is reading these in
monthly form, and everyone's waiting until the entire story is completed in a
few years before starting to read. The pacing is really bad for serial
fiction. This really would have worked better as #26, and in a world where
plotlines aren't laid out in solicitations three months in advance, I'd have
suspected Ossio blew the deadline on the art and the two issues were swapped.
But no, Ruckley just blew the pacing. Anyway, leaving aside the arc-level
problems, it's a decent issue on its own legs, with a bunch of engineers
trying to keep a group of soldiers from overrunning them, like a version of
Montgomery Scott's Kobayashi Maru. Recommended, but the series as a whole is
having problems. $3.99


Dave Van Domelen, "Oh, good. Something WHEELJACK thought was too
risky." - Huffer, Transformers #27
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