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Dave's Comicbook Capsules for April 2021 [message #407775] Wed, 28 April 2021 22:48
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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
Gonna be teaching face-to-face again in the summer term.

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): The Way of the
Hive: A Honey Bee's Story

In this installment: Wonder Woman 1984, MechStrike Captain America,
Adventure Finders Book 2 volume 1 Chapter 15, The Way of the Hive: A Honey
Bee's Story, Primates, The Comic Book History of Animation TPB, Galactic
Rodents of Mayhem #1, Squadron Supreme Marvel Tales #1, Maestro War and PAX
#4, The Trials of Ultraman #2 (of 5), USAgent #5 (of 5), RWBY/Justice League
#1 (of 7), Sacred Six #8, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #96, My Little
Pony/Transformers II #1 (of 4), Transformers '84 Legends and Rumors 100 Page
Giant #1, Transformers Beast Wars #3

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed
to order): Nothing this month.


"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.


"In cinemas." Well, it was, but I sure wasn't.
Wonder Woman 1984: DC/WB - The basic premise is that a sort of monkey's paw
wish-granting artifact has destroyed numerous civilizations, and now it has
popped up again in the hands of yet another take on Maxwell Lord. The plot
device has a number of arbitrary rules to it, most of which seem to be there
just to drive plot conflict rather than for any sort of internal logic (if
refusing its gifts is supposed to be so hard, why introduce unnecessary flaws
like Diana's got, for instance?). As comic book logic goes, it's not that
bad, but it does raise the Hitchcockian question of Why Are You Doing It The
Way Things Are Always Done? Other than having to ignore the plot device
behind the curtain, though, it was generally enjoyable, and stylized in the
way stuff set in the 80s tends to be done. It doesn't happen in 1984, it
happens in how 1984 looks through the lenses of GenX nostalgia...lots of
pushing the neon and bad fashion choices hard (although the one thing they
didn't push past my lived reality was the big hair). It was enjoyable, but
its attempt to make it as impactful as the previous Wonder Woman movie mostly
fell flat. Mildly recommended. Price varies by format and store.

MechStrike Captain America: Marvel/Hasbro - When the MechStrike comic
came out, I was kind of confused...it was non-continuity, and there didn't
seem to be a toy line to go with it. Turns out the toys were just a little
late. There's a full line, with some roleplay pieces (notably a segmented
Captain America shield that expands), $10 action figures with mech-ish
shields, and $20 mech suits (not purchased, but seen: Iron Man, Thanos). The
suit is 8" (20cm) tall, the pilot figure is 6" (15cm) tall. These are
basically like a slightly better version of the old Transformers Pretender
shells, hinged at the top of the head and snapping at the feet. It comes
with some assembly required, and a lot of force needed to get the boots to
snap fully into place. The suit's arms have universal joint shoulders and
hinge elbows, but the suit is otherwise a brick. And it's a "Landmate" style
brick, with the inner action figure's arms sticking out the sides. The suit
has several sockets for attachment of accessories, but annoyingly they're not
all the same size. A wrist blaster has a larger peg that will go on either
forearm, but the shield (which can be used by the inner figure as well) uses
a smaller peg that only goes on the shoulder sockets or on the wrist blaster.
So he can't put the blaster on one arm and the shield on the other forearm
(um, and I can't get the blaster off anyway, so maybe it snapped into place?
Or I'm misremembering and it was never loose in the first place, I guess).
The inside pilot figure is comparable to most of the $10 Marvel action
figures of late (and the standalone $10 MechStrike figures appear to be the
same molds, albeit with altered colors). The knees have universal joints,
though, which is better than a lot of the $10 figures lately, and it has
forearm sockets for the shield (and a back socket that holds the shield or
secures the pilot inside the mech). Worth $20? Not really. A good
representation of the suits in the comic? Also not really, those were truly
giant robots where you'd have a pilot figure a centimeter or so tall to be at
proper scale with the suit. The aesthetics are okay, if kinda generic.
Neutral. $20 price point.


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.

Adventure Finders Book 2 Volume 1 chapter 15: Patreon.com - The cover
changes the title to "Adventure Found," to signal that the extended tutorial
is over and the PCs have hit the Main Plot in the Arao-dominated New
Elderbrass. There's a last round of gear-upgrades and prep before the core
cadre heads into town...just in time for the Arao-ists to lean hard on the
Daughters of the Crown. In an inversion of their dominant position in the
first issue, the Arao-ists are basically gnats posturing angrily at a
bugzapper. This is not to say that Clari et al can just cut a swath through
the entire patriarchal power structure, but the bad guys brought mooks to a
boss fight. Technically ends on a cliffhanger, but there's not a lot of
threat for Our Heroes. As with recent previous issues, it ends with an
exchange of letters among various antagonists reacting to the events we've
been seeing on screen. Recommended. $1/month on Patreon.


Trades:

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

The Way of the Hive: A Honey Bee's Story: Harper Alley - This is an
update of the Clan Apis collection, in full color and with a new section in
back discussing more of the science that didn't fit into the narrative.
Hosler says that there's also minor updates here and there, but it's been
about twenty years since I read the original, nothing really jumped out at
me. Anyway, it was Strongly Recommended then, it's Strongly Recommended now,
just in color. $21.99/$26.99Cn (hardcover edition)

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute
Galdikas: Square Fish (MacMillan) - I continue to catch up on the last few
years' worth of Ottaviani's science comics (reading them slowly, Hawking is
almost done and Naturalist is still in the stack). This one has art by Maris
Wicks, who also did Astronauts, and it's structured in a similar fashion: it
follows more or less chronologically the careers of three prominent women in
primate studies. Their lives touched upon each other's and had Louis Leakey
in common, but each studied a different group of primates in a different part
of the world (Chimpanzees, Gorillas, and Orangutans). As with Astronauts,
each woman has a distinctive caption box style to keep the narratives
distinct, and while a lot of things were fudged for the sake of the story,
there's ample primary sources used to craft the tale. It's a bit darker than
Astronauts, but given that space exploration is inherently more hopeful in
tone than the battle to understand and conserve species, that's to be
expected. Recommended. $13.99/$19.50Cn

The Comic Book History of Animation Exclusive Kickstarter Backer
Edition: Evil Twin Comics - So, I've been reviewing the individual
installments as we got them, but now I have the collected edition, and a
non-exclusive version should be available to non-backers soon enough, so it's
worth commenting on just the physical presentation of the completed story.
The consistently black gutters make it all the more striking on the rare
occasion when an image violates panel boundaries, and give the impression of
viewing a screen in a darkened theater. While the early parts are mostly
black and white or grayscale, even they do have occasional spot colors for
emphasis, so the transition to full color is a little less jarring...probably
so people know to expect color later? Anyway, worth picking up once it's
available to the general public. Recommended. (No price on this edition.)


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.)

Galactic Rodents of Mayhem #1: Scout/Nonstop! - I grabbed this on a whim
as part of my "Try to expand my reading" plan. Unfortunately, it's one of
Scout's TPB preview deals, where there will never be a #2, just rebuying this
issue as part of a trade. It stars anthro capybaras in space, and in case
the TMNT homage wasn't obvious enough, the fight scene at the end rubs our
noses in it by having ninja turtles show up to collect a bounty on the capys.
Even if this was going to be something I wouldn't have to own two copies of
to get the rest of the story, I'm gonna pass. While the very beginning is
interesting, most of the rest of the issue is trying too hard to be a "30
years late to the party" TMNT riff. Neutral. $3.99

Squadron Supreme: Marvel Tales #1: Marvel - A squarebound floppy reprint
collection of Avengers #69-70 (first appearance of the Squadron Sinister) and
#85-86 (first appearance of the Squadron Supreme). Somewhat annoyingly, #70
ends on a cliffhanger, but I guess the Squadron didn't appear in #71? (The
Squadron barely appears in #69, I'd rather have seen 70-71 than 69-70.) I
picked this up because I'd never read the original stories, all written by
Roy Thomas in full "No, this isn't the Justice League, whatever do you mean?"
mode. Worth picking up if you haven't already been getting all the
Masterworks or Essentials volumes that contain these. Recommended. $7.99

Maestro War and PAX #4 (of 5): Marvel - The Pantheon's inevitable defeat
is kinda boring, unfortunately. Yeah, as a prequel to a story where Maestro
is the only real power left on Earth, you know anyone other than Rick Jones
who might oppose him gets dealt with, but...eh. There was a good bit with
Doctor Doom trying to take over Dystopia, but the citizens have gotten bored
with that sort of thing. Mildly recommended. $3.99

The Trials of Ultraman #2 (of 5): Marvel - Even in a world where
daikaiju stalk the streets, there will be conspiracy theorists who have it
totally wrong...and yet somehow have the resources to be a problem anyway.
They mostly manage to give the protagonists a hard time by consistently being
so badly wrong that they end up being dangerously effective by accident,
though. Mildly recommended. $3.99

U.S.Agent #5 (of 5): Marvel - Yes, that's me getting a credit down at
the bottom of the title page. I helped Priest figure out how to get a Kaiju
into the story (and researched a few other things that didn't work out). Too
bad the fight-heavy issue is so hard to follow, thanks to Jeanty's art.
Thinking back to my previous Jeanty experience, The American Way, there was a
fair amount of questionable visual storytelling there too...he seems to
specialize mostly in people standing around talking or sitting at vehicle
controls (e.g. Firefly comics). When your final issue needs to combine kaiju
fighting with a high stakes melee in a crashing Helicarrier, the artist needs
to be able to pull off the action, and Jeanty does NOT. Priest does seem to
have adjusted to Jeanty's failings by this point, though, as the dialogue
spells out a lot more of the stuff that the art would normally carry. And
Priest's USAgent is clearly someone who does his homework...the very opposite
of the "low information" type the Saint calls him. He may have come into
this situation pretty clueless, but he puts the pieces together on the
literal fly. Mildly recommended, would be recommended with better art.
$3.99

RWBY/Justice League #1 (of 7): Rooster Teeth/DC - This is one of those
books that started as short installment ComiXology releases, then collected
into regular-sized comics for hardcopy release. It seems to be set around
Season 2-3 or RWBY, the academy is still doing fine and Yang has her natural
arm. This isn't a crossover in the sense of dimensional travel, rather it's
a sort of Elseworlds where there's versions of various Justice Leaguers on
Remnant (e.g. Clark has a solar-powered semblance, Bruce is a bat faunus,
etc). This issue introduces two of the pseudo-JL and sets up the mystery
driving the series, and is...okay. Marguerite Bennett's writing is okay, and
clearly written for the half issue stories (as she did back on Bombshells).
Aneke's art is passable, but occasionally favors splashy FX over clarity of
storytelling. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Sacred Six #8: Dynamite - Holy roller redneck bikers attack, so a lot of
the issue is a fight scene, with most of the character moments going to Nyx.
That's not to say the others get ignored, but their bits tend to be shorter
and tied more directly to the fight scene, rather than getting extended
flashbacks. Mildly recommended. $3.99

My Little Pony #96: IDW - Back to the diplomatic ventures, this time in
Abyssinia. Rather than the warm welcome Zecora's group got, the greeting
awaiting in the capital city of Panthera is...not warm. At all.
Technically, this is the Capper-focused arc, but the big character moment to
me is how Discord reacts to his predicament in Panthera...he's used to facing
consequences for his own actions, but for once he behaved himself and STILL
got in trouble, and he doesn't care for that one bit. Recommended. $3.99

My Little Pony/Transformers II #1 (of 4): IDW - Fingers crossed that
this one will be better-planned than the first series. But it's not looking
good. As with the previous series, there's two stories in an issue, the
first one sets up the new conflict (Megatron tries to raid Equestria for
magic, awakens Sombra, who decides to conquer Cybertron), and the second
looks at one of the events during the attempted conquest. Thing is, the
second story requires that Scootaloo was captured in the first story, and
Scootaloo doesn't even appear in the background...no real editorial
oversight. Again. As for Cybertron itself, move over Axion Nexus, this is a
cynosure of all cartoons and comics. G1, IDW1 and IDW2, Prime, Cyberverse,
even Armada. Looks like another, "Do whatever you feel like, don't worry
about it making sense," series. Meh. $3.99

Transformers '84 Legends and Rumors 100 Page Giant #1: IDW - Another
reprint omnibus, but this time I actually have all the issues, oops. It has
#1 of the Marvel Transformers comic, the Man of Iron story (Marvel UK
Transformers #9-12, later reprinted with modifications in the US series), and
Transformers '84 #0. The seams show badly in the three tales, but this is
basically a way to get all the background needed for the current Transformers
'84 books without buying a bunch of trades. I am not really the target
audience for this book, mildly recommended for people who got into
Transformers comic later on. $7.99

Transformers Beast Wars #3: IDW - Onyx's short term purpose is revealed,
and while it's not exactly fridging, it's not far off...she isn't killed, but
is tortured and that's motivation for a male character to change his ways
(okay, not really a spoiler, this whole series has been written on the
assumption that every reader watched the original cartoon...it's Dinobot's
face turn). That said, it does more effectively drive home why Dinobot might
switch sides and stay switched than the cartoon did at the time. Still don't
like the art. Mildly recommended. $3.99


Dave Van Domelen, "You're with him -- 'Angarr the Self-Loathing'?" -
Morrie, USAgent #5 (of 5)
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