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Dave's Comicbook Capsules for February 2021 [message #406034] Fri, 26 February 2021 23:58
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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
Managed to get through Winter Storm Uri On Ice without losing power.

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Batman: Soul
of the Dragon

In this installment: Batman: Soul of the Dragon, Doom Patrol Season 2,
Harley Quinn Season 2 (partial), Overwatch Tracer - London Calling #5 (of 5),
Comicbook History of Animation #5 (of 5), The Outbursts of Everett True,
Iyanu Child of Wonder vol 1, E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams Part 1 and 2,
Windmaker Birth of a King, The Wrong Earth; Day and Night #2 (of 6?),
Vampirella #17, Sacred Six #7, White Ash Presents Glarien #1, Midnight Sky
#7, Transformers Beast Wars #1, Transformers Escape #2 (of 6)

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed
to order): Norse Mythology #5, Maestro War and PAX #2, USAgent #3, Snapshots:
Captain Marvel. (The first was a glitch, the rest were because the entire
Diamond comics shipment for the last week of the month got lost somewhere in
Texas and didn't arrive until March.)


"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.

Batman: Soul of the Dragon: DC/WB - Really, this is Richard Dragon,
guest starring Batman in a supporting role. Set in a grindhouse version of
the 1970s, and borrowing a lot of elements from the comics of the time (such
as Bruce Wayne living in a skyscraper with a nightclub at ground level), it
mixes flashbacks in with story progression as a team of martial arts badasses
are brought together to stop a world-devouring demon from being unleashed by
Kobra. A few post-70s characters are adapted to the era, and a few "oh, I
never heard of them, they are clearly going to die" characters show up in
early significant roles. But details aside...this is an awesome homage to
the kind of movies Bruce Lee might have made had he lived longer and gotten
bigger budgets and Batman to show up. Extras include the BTAS episodes Day
of the Samurai and Night of the Ninja and a decent selection of featurettes,
but no DC Showcase short. Strongly recommended. Price varies by store and
format (I got BluRay).

Doom Patrol Season 2: DC/WB - While this season had plenty of good
moments, it just didn't hang together as well as season 1. While it did have
a sort of season-long threat, the threat was "Dorothy's powers could destroy
the world if certain conditions are met," rather than a scenery-chewing
villain like Mr. Nobody. And the thread is too weak to hold things together,
the season is more like solo and duo adventures of various cast members who
occasionally meet over breakfast to swap partners for the next step. As in
the first season, a lot of Morrison story elements are mined, but they're
scrambled up more thoroughly. Any given episode is pretty good, but as a
season it sort of cuts itself off at the knees a lot. Definitely don't binge
it, enjoy each episode on its own merits and then wait a while. Mildly
recommended. Not much in the way of extras. Price varies by store and
format.

Harley Quinn Season 2: DC/WB - In the wake of the season 1 finale,
Gotham is basically a disaster area, but people still live there and the
President declares it to no longer be part of the U.S. (this is not legally a
thing that can be done, FWIW, but the setting is aggressively stupid on
purpose). The biggest names of the surviving villains carve up the city into
their territories and piss off Harley, who spends most of the season hunting
them down one by one and exacting revenge. Of course, the plot isn't any
more important than the setting, it's really just an excuse for over the top
violence and snark, plus a love triangle forming with Ivy at the apex. To
some extent it feels like they're trying too hard to top their first season,
but it was still enjoyable. Recommended, but serious content warning for
gore. Price varies by store and format.


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 #5 (of 5): Dark Horse - While Tracer
gets a chance to redeem her earlier mishap, this is definitely one of those
stories where the true impact of a hero is not what they do, it's who they
inspire. Recommended. Free on ComiXology.

The Comicbook History of Animation #5 (of 5): Evil Twin Comics - This
final issue opens and closes with the emergence and growth of computer
animation, from the original wireframe hand to the Pixar takeover. Along the
way, it delves into modern anime (using Starblazers/Space Battleship Yamato
as a turning point for the medium) and shows like Batman the Animated Series
and the Simpsons, plus the change from theaters and TV as the main media to
the proliferation of streaming media. Appropriately, it ends with a quote
from someone who's been around throughout most of the history of animation,
Miyazaki, who has started playing with computer animation. Recommended.
Kickstarter reward, hardcopy TPB coming soonish.


Trades:

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

The Outbursts of Everett True: Underworld Amusements - If you've been on
social media lately, there's a good chance you've seen a few panels of this
century-old comic floating around. Everett True is a portly older man who is
willing and able to beat your ass if you give him a good enough reason. And
most strips involve him being given such a reason. Oh, violence isn't always
his response, he also has sarcasm, outrage, and the implied threat of
violence. The strip ran from 1906 to 1946 (although the last half done by
other creators working under the names of the original writer and artist,
most likely), but this collection seems to be a fairly continuous chunk from
maybe 1912 to late 1917 or early 1918. A.D. Condo only dated the 1913 and
1914 strips, but the final few clearly take place during America's
participation in WWI. Everett True is popular these days because so many of
his strips involve getting back at annoying people doing things that are
still done today (manspreading on the train, littering, being cruel to
animals, people trying to engage you in conversation when you want to be left
alone, ads running before a movie in the theater, etc). But Everett isn't
without his problematic side. He often derides men for things he considers
feminine (wearing cologne, certain styles of clothing, wearing a
wristwatch...man, he hates men wearing wristwatches), and for a big chunk of
the middle of this volume he goes beyond isolationist when it comes to the
"War in Europe" and simply wants to pretend it isn't happening. (He does
change his tune slightly at the end, telling people complaining about the war
that they should enlist and help it finish sooner.) So, basically, he's a
pretty horrible person, but usually aims his ire at people who are worse.
Recommended. $16.95

Iyanu Child of Wonder vol 1: Youneek - The first chapter of this was a
FCBD comic a while back, but it took longer for the full thing to be released
than I was checking, so I missed it for a while. (Also decided to order a
few more things while I was there, a sale was going on.) Youneek launched
most of its titles in crowdfunding campaigns, and it really feels like they
made a conscious decision to not hire anyone actually experienced in making
comics. Several pages in this painted-style art set at night or inside are
almost unreadably murky, as if the artist had no idea how bad things would
look on a printed page where you can't adjust the brightness of your monitor.
(They actually run stuff first online via a subscription service, then
collect stuff into trades.) They seem to have bought a lettering program and
just sort of figured it out as they went (this is even worse in the earlier-
produced E.X.O. comics). And just a host of other minor "reinventing the
wheel and getting something wobbly" pieces of comics crafting. The actual
story is decent, a sort of "the Singularity almost happened and then things
fell apart and now the scattered survivors live in relatively primitive
conditions" fantasy future based on African cultures and locations, but set
on a fictional landmass (maybe a massively altered Earth reshaped during the
techno-cataclysm, maybe another world entirely, it's not really important to
the story). It's just kinda hard to wade through. Mildly recommended.
$19.99

E.X.O. the Legend of Wale Williams Part 1 and 2: Youneek - This is one
of their core books, a sort of X-O meets Iron Man and the more unpleasant
versions of Vic Stone's origin story. While it has a more traditional
comicbook art style that's easy enough to follow, the lettering is really
bad. In some places, the balloon placement makes it look like they were set
up for an entirely different language and then the translation just crammed
in wherever...but if that's the case, they didn't give a translation credit
in the books themselves. (Mind you, with all the layout done on computer
now, there's really no excuse to have not laid out the bubbles to fit a
translation, if that is indeed what happened.) Set in a near future sci-fi
tinged version of Lagos, it's your basic Iron Man story, where the technology
is being abused by evil government/business types and the guy in the suit is
trying to stop that from happening, but the twist is that the tech was made
by the protagonist's father, who probably dies off-screen (told, not shown,
by someone who isn't trustworthy) as part of a plan to lure the protagonist
back to town so that his blood can be harvested for plot device reasons. I
splurged on two volumes in the hopes it'd be worth it...not really. Wale
whines through most of the first two books, wallowing in the cliche of the
reluctant superhero in the most annoying ways possible. Almost every cast
member who has lines early on ends up being a superhero or supervillain or
something, a really bad case of a lean cast. Mild recommendation to avoid.
$16.99 for Part 1, $14.99 for Part 2.


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.)

Windmaker Birth of a King one-shot: Youneek - When I went to checkout,
this was suggested in a sort of "Would you like fries with that?" manner and
pushed as being somehow core to the YouNiverse. After reading all four of
the books I bought, I can't see how anything connects together, much less to
this. I mean, thematically it connects just fine, with afrofuturism mixed
with low-tech cultural elements and stuff. It's mostly a story of centuries
ago when a guy got magic wind powers and fought off an evil Chinese invasion
force (led by a "rouge Ming general"). It suffers the same sort of overly
dark shadows mixed with overly bright lights that Iyanu does, but they did
finally get a proper letterer who knew what he was doing, so that part is
fine. This one has no cover price, and seems to have been printed as a
stretch goal or something. Neutral.

The Wrong Earth: Night and Day #2 (of 6?): Ahoy Comics - Now the two
versions have met in a third reality, which for them is basically a series of
pipes. Their conflicting methods complement well at first, but lead to the
inevitable friction between them, which seems to lead to their defeat...but
there's two much of Batman in both of them for the reader to discount a ruse.
Mildly recommended. $3.99

Vampirella #17: Dynamite - Most of the issue is a flashback to Vampi's
("Stop calling me that") first days on Earth, meeting up with Pantha and a
few other mystic-ish rogues and learning how the world is different. Some
interesting artistic choices here, most of the art is in grayscale and deeply
shadowed, except for shades of red and occasionally purple (Pantha's accent
color when she's in panther form). Given how little pre-Priest Vampirella
I've read (nearly none) I can't tell if there's any retconning going on here,
but at least the interpersonal dynamics are tweaked to fit with what they
evolved into fifty years later. At the very end, she heads back to Drakulon
(not even remotely a spoiler, the "present" scene is a flashback too).
Recommended. $3.99

Sacred Six #7: Dynamite - After a little flashback to get Nyx's origin
and the issue's quota of almost-nudity, the "not even a non-team" tries to
split up and go its separate ways. Well, Vampi is more literally split up,
which is a bit of a mystery in light of interactions seen in Vampirella #17.
The ongoing mystery of "Who is REALLY Draculina?" continues...sure, it seems
to have been answered, but there's still a possible dodge around it. At the
end, a new plot complication rides into town, but one wonders how many fights
the "Sacred Six" will have to get in before they even consider themselves an
ad hoc team. Mildly recommended. $3.99

White Ash Presents Glarien #1: Scout Comics - A trio of short stories
featuring significant moments in the life of Glarien, the mother of the
rebellious "young" elf lass from White Ash. Basically, she's a sociopath
even among her own people, let alone around humans, who she doesn't even
really consider to be people. And she has a penchant for fighting while nude
or nearly so, I guess. A little depth is added to her husband, Thane, but
all these stories do is show that she personally has no depth and is not very
relevant to the story so far. Just an excuse to show a naked elf lady
covered in blood. Neutral. $3.99

Midnight Sky #7: Scout Comics - While there's some bloodshed (and
animated blood flying around and killing aliens) this issue, it's more of an
expository interlude, answering a number of questions, if perhaps raising
bigger ones. Recommended. $3.99

Transformers Beast Wars #1: IDW - This is a sort of "obligatory minor
changes" reboot, not connected to any previous IDW comic, and based on the
1996 cartoon's opening minutes. It fleshes out more of the "How Megatron and
his gang got the Golden Disk" and why the Axalon was tapped to go after him,
plus adds one new cast member on each side for the sake of being different, I
guess. Most of the good character development is on the Predacon side, the
Maximal stuff gets crammed into an Overdialoguing Alert sparring scene
between Optimus and Rhinox. The art style, which feels like late 90s
graffiti styling, doesn't really grab me. Mildly recommended. $5.99 (padded
out by a bunch of design and sketchbook pages)

Transformers Escape #2 (of 6): IDW - Negotiations with Straxus for the
use of his Arks commence, and Shockwave has his machinations underway, but
the real threat is the Insecticons. They upgrade from hungry thugs into
hungry thugs with an agenda and some sneaky planning. The art sometimes
looks rushed, but is otherwise good. Recommended. $3.99


Dave Van Domelen, "For once I agree with Cliff. What the ****?" -
Negative Man, Doom Patrol Season 2
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