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
The road work along my commute is finally done...at least for now.
Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Magical Boy
In this installment: The Eternals (movie), Magical Boy vol 1, Hilo vol
8: Gina and the Big Secret, Shang-Chi #8-9, Moon Knight #8, Vampirella
Dracula Unholy #3, Draculina #1, Arrowsmith Behind Enemy Lines #2, Norse
Mythology III #1 (of 6), My Little Pony Generations #5 (of 5), Transformers:
King Grimlock #5 (of 5), Transformers: War's End #1 (of 4), Transformers #40
Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed
to order): Monkey Prince #1
"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.
The Eternals: Marvel - I almost forgot that I watched this in February.
I was mostly reminded by discussions of why it failed so badly to be, you
know, GOOD. The essence, I think, is that it was too long and too short. It
definitely dragged, and included too many side scenes to work as a spectacle
movie of the sort Marvel normally manages. But it really wanted to be fair
to all of the Eternals and give each some time in the spotlight...and ended
up not really going far enough to work. As a result, the excess scenes were
too short to do their job and too long to let the movie MOVE. It also spent
a lot of time building up what ended up being a red herring, an opponent who
was neither a "final boss" nor an unexpected ally against the final boss, it
just took up time as a distraction. (While the toys gave it a name, it was
never referred to by name in the movie that I noticed, nor really given much
to say once it did finally speak.) The movie was too in love with its
Shocking Plot Twist to remember to make the plot interesting in the first
place. It had potential, but it needed to ditch about a third of the run
time and leave those elements for flashback-heavy sequels or later movies.
We didn't get a twenty minute digression in Avengers to explain the Budapest
line, after all. (And I'm still not sure what Makkari's side quest amounted
to, if anything.) There were some good bits, but the fact that I'd rather
watch the full length Bollywood musical that Kingo was making than rewatch
the Eternals movie says something. Neutral, needs a "Director (no not the
original, a new one)'s Cut" to have a chance of being good. Available on
Disney+, as well as on disk (with deleted scenes, as if this didn't already
feel like absolutely nothing was left on the cutting room floor).
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.
Nothing this month. And with the new changes to Comixology as Amazon
finishes digesting it, I'm even less likely to be getting e-comics.
Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever.
If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here.
Magical Boy vol 1: Studio Tapas/Graphix/Scholastic - I grabbed this on a
whim, and it turns out it's a compilation of a Tapas.io webcomic. I suppose
I could pay to read the rest of the story immediately, but I'm still feeling
annoyed by the last time I tried to give Tapas.io money...I hope they fixed
the system, but.... Anyway, here's the high concept: Max is a teenager who
has decided on his 15th birthday to come out as transmale. Max's mother has
decided to reveal the big family secret on that day as well: Max is the
latest in a long line of hereditary Magical Girls. The two pieces of news
mesh poorly, as one might expect. And now Max has to learn to be a Magical
Girl in time to save the world from the latest eldritch invasion, discovering
to his horror that the transformation puts him in his mom's old outfit,
including girly makeup and ribbons and poufs. While played for laughs in
places, it's an otherwise serious treatment of gender identity and familial
expectations, as Max slowly grows into the role and gathers a posse of
unlikely (except for Max's best friend) allies. Not really addressed overtly
in this volume is the looming problem of "What about the next generation?"
since the way the power is passed down means his mom can't just try again for
a cisgendered daughter. (Genre-savvy money is on "Max finds his own way to
deal with the enemy that ensures there won't need to be another generation,"
but there's a few other ways it could go.) Written and drawn by The Kao
(Vincent Kao, according to a little googling). Strongly recommended.
Hilo vol 8: Gina and the Big Secret: RH Graphic/Random House - So, in
volume 7, Gina helped some endangered magical critters go home, not realizing
that "home" was "Earth, in the distant past," and that in doing so she
totally screwed up the timeline and dumped herself and her few nearby friends
(Hilo included) into the new timeline where Earth is full of magical stuff.
In this volume, we find that while humans still exist (and a lot of the same
people still exist, improbably), humans are a persecuted underclass that is
forbidden to use magic. Aside from a brief respite early on, this is
basically an "on the run from the authorities" story, and while Hilo keeps
displaying weird new powers in his human body, it's mainly a Gina thing. Oh,
and there's magical Scottish cats again. Hazzah! Recommended.
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 #8: Marvel - Another issue heavy on the "make it match the
movie" flashback, bookended by some clever turnabout and then it not being
enough, in what is apparently supposed to be the end of the first arc but
really just feels like another cliffhanger on the way to the real end? It's
not so much that it feels padded, everything included is important to the
story. It just feels like it doesn't know when it's supposed to tie up
anything, if ever. Mildly recommended. $3.99
Shang-Chi #9: Marvel - And as I suspected, there's not really much of a
new arc feel here, other than Grandpa Kilin-Rider initiates a new plot
device. At least the flashbacks are over for now, so the story can move
forwards rather than continuing the "make it like the movie" patch job. Good
dialogue, withholding judgement on the actual plot. Mildly recommended.
Moon Knight #8: Marvel - Due to a crossover I'm ignoring, Moon Knight is
unavailable this month. Fortunately, Marc now has a spare protagonist to
fill in for him, in the form of Dr. Moon aka Hunter's Moon, the other Fist of
Khonshu. And because this version of Moon Knight is all about embracing the
mystical, an old school Moon Knight foe returns in a new incarnation as a
primal god of vengeance. Recommended. $3.99
Supermassive 2022: Image - I skimmed the first issue or two of Radiant
Black and was unimpressed, but it's been getting some praise lately, so I
figured I'd see if this Annual-style issue would grab me. It's a crossover
between Radiant Black, Rogue Sun (solo book started this month I guess?) and
another similarly-powered hero from another dimension, because they're
setting up a multiverse. As far as "jumping on point" goes, it's so-so.
Some exposition as the three heroes introduce themselves to each other, but I
really didn't get the feeling this was aimed at new readers, but was a payoff
for existing readers. It was an okay read, but I don't plan to add any of
the "massiveverse" to my pull. $5.99
Vampirella Dracula Unholy #3: Dynamite - We have entered the phase of
the shadowplay in which there's really no visual cues anymore whether
something is "really" happening or is part of some sort of illusion. While
it does set the mood well, it's also a bit tough to read...it feels like the
whole first arc might work better as something read in a single sitting,
especially since Hadiwidjaja's character designs are significantly different
from those in the previous volume and I'm still having trouble getting the
hang of identifying major characters visually. Mildly recommended. $3.99
Draculina #1: Dynamite - So, the basic premise is that Draculina and
Katie are the same person in different potential lives (an idea Priest
explored in his 1999 prose series). Basically, for all her flaws, Katie is a
decent if broken person, while Draculina is very much her mother's daughter.
Both would be thrilled to go back to living completely separate lives, but
Katie really doesn't have the tools to accomplish that, and Draculina's
methods mostly involve killing Katie so that won't be mutually acceptable
either. Some of the Lilith/Vampirella dynamic is recapitulated here, but
with the twist that they can never meet face to face, and the timeline itself
ripples around the changes so that when one is "out," the other doesn't
actually exist. This issue is basically setup, and only hints at some of the
complications that will ensue. Provisionally recommended. $3.99
Arrowsmith Behind Enemy Lines #2: Image - Hm. Some intriguing things
going on plot-wise, but I kept feeling like I should have read a wiki or
Official Handbook sort of title before getting back into this series, with
all of its "nothing is named the same even though society is suspiciously
nearly the same as real life 1910s" stuff. Kind of distracting, pausing to
mentally translate the new-but-based-on-real-history place names (like Albion
or Tyrol) as I read. This might be another of those books where it's better
to wait for the trade and read it all in one go, rather than forgetting from
month to month the little worldbuilding differences. Mildly recommended.
Norse Mythology III #1 (of 6): Dark Horse - Well, they gave up on trying
to indicate anything about which volume this is on the cover. This issue
focuses on Thor's Fishing Expedition, in which he goes fishing for whales and
accidentally catches Jormungandr. But it's really about the gods being
really horrible dinner guests and making one wonder if the giants are the
good guys in this whole thing (well, the giants are horrible too...really,
almost everyone in Norse myth is at least something of an ass, insert Loki as
a horse joke here). Recommended. $3.99
My Little Pony Generations #5 (of 5): IDW - Kind of a fizzle-out ending.
The main villains all pretty much just decide they don't want to be evil
anymore, so the only remaining source of conflict is an accidental side
effect summoning, which everyone gangs up on and deals with in a few pages.
For all the planning and practicing done in the first half of the issue, it
really just came down to the original antagonist deciding to take it all back
and be good. Because of cake, I guess. A fairly unconvincing face turn that
wasn't really set up in the previous four issues. Neutral. $3.99
Transformers: King Grimlock #5 (of 5): IDW - I was cleaning up dead
titles on my comics pull list and crossed this one off as being over...and it
wasn't yet. Again, one of those "not a great sign" things. And most of this
issue was superfluous, Grimlock just re-defeating the villain who was
functionally defeated already. The "cliffhanger" threat at the end of #4 was
just sort of set aside in favor of a different fight that was full of
handwavy "because I'm Grimlock" plot device-ness. What a waste of a great
elevator pitch. And twenty bucks, in my case. $3.99
Transformers: War's End #1 (of 4): IDW - This happens as a meanwhile
during #40, but doesn't really give away anything about it aside from
"there's a big attack going down," so reading it first won't mess things up.
This really feels like an attempt to return to the original twice-monthly
schedule of the current main Transformers title, just splitting the Exarchon
threads off into this book for four months while the main book deals with the
big Autobot/Decepticon battles. But, since it's technically a new #1, it's
very talky in laying out all the backstory. This is good from a storytelling
perspective, since some people are bound to pick this up without having read
the forty issues of the main book, but it just leans into Ruckley's pacing
issues. Mildly recommended. $3.99
Transformers #40: IDW - I feel like Ruckley has been saving up quotable
quotes for this issue. Annoyingly, a really good one (see below) isn't
clearly attributed. I think it's Kup, but he's never named on-panel and the
page the quote's on has him miscolored (he later appears, still unnamed, in
closer but still not right colors). This kind of exemplifies Malkova's
art...it's decent, but in places looks rushed and off-model, depending too
much on the colorist to keep things straight. And if you think that all this
nitpicking is a bad sign, you're right...the substance is okay, but not
enough to distract me from all the little things. There's more to a good
story than good dialogue. Mildly recommended. $3.99
Dave Van Domelen, "You can't make miracles, but sometimes y'can make
LUCK. Sometimes you can even make it out of FIREPOWER." - Probably Kup,