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Dave's Comics Capsules for August 2023

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Dave Van Domelen

Aug 31, 2023, 5:27:53 PM8/31/23
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,
Car's still in the shop, first replacement panel was damaged.

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Wayne Family
Adventures vol 1

In this installment: Justice League Warworld, My Adventures With
Superman, Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3, Mech Cadets (Netflix), Batman: Wayne
Family Adventures vol 1, Way of the Househusband vol 10, Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear
vol 1, Go Go Loser Ranger vol 6, The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls vol
1, Fantastic Four #10, Moon Knight #26, Mech Cadets #1 (Boom), Gargoyles #8,
Gargoyles Dark Ages #2 (of 6), Vampirella/Dracula Rage #1 (of 6), Charm City

"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.

Justice League Warworld: DC - While technically Warworld is part of the
framing device, this is much more of an Elseworlds anthology that has its
final chapter on (and dealing with) Warworld and Mongul. To give them
credit, they didn't go with the obvious choices, the Man With No Name story
stars Wonder Woman, while Batman ends up a cynical Conan the Barbarian riff.
This is in the same loose continuity as recent direct to video movies like
the Superman-Lobo-J'onn "Man of Tomorrow" movie, although it's deliberately
vague about what happened in between, and the only one who even makes a
comment suggesting the previous stuff happened is Lobo (who once again gets
the one allowed Naughty Word). It really does feel like it was meant as
another fresh start, though. There's reference to the JLU Warworld episodes
in the featurettes, but there's no episodes in the bonus content, just two
featurettes. Recommended as long as you don't expect much continuity. Price
varies by store and format, probably also available on Max.

My Adventures With Superman: DC/Cartoon Network - So, this is basically
Superman the Shoujo Anime. He even gets his costume in a Magical Girl
Transformation (the first time, anyway...after that he just puts it on at
superspeed). Unlike some modern re-envisionings, they don't try to get away
from the newspaper offices setting, with Clark, Jimmy, and Lois all being
interns at the Daily Planet. The issue of how much or even if they're paid
isn't addressed, though, it's really just an excuse to have them at the
Planet and so low on the totem pole that they're underground. This is a
story of Becoming Who You Are...Clark is growing into both the Superman role
and the reporter role (it's several episodes before he's even reasonably sure
he's bulletproof, for instance), Lois and Jimmy both have aspirations but so
far little validation, and Perry White...well, he still doesn't want to be
called Chief. A lot of other familiar(ish) names show up, although often
it's just trademark refreshing and the characters have little to do with how
they appear in the comics. For the most part, they are building towards a
Common Origin sort of thing for most of the other superhumans...with a
notable exception, everyone except Superman has tech-based powers of some
sort (either power suits or mutation from tech, or robots), with a
season-long "where did all this insane tech come from?" arc. While not every
classic Superman trope has aged well, they did a decent job with one of the
thorniest, and managed to avoid making anyone involved look like a total
dick. Or superdick. Recommended. First run on Cartoon Network, then rerun
on Max.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3: Marvel Studios - For all that this is his
origin story, Rocket Raccoon spends most of the movie unconscious (lots of
flashbacks to his youth while he's in that coma). The movie also ties
together a few other elements from the previous movies, although it kinda
throws away a lot of potentially interesting concepts after only brief
visits. And by throw away, I mean blow up. This definitely follows the bad
habit superhero movies are given to of killing off antagonists rather than
just defeating them (although a deleted scene shows at least one of the
presumed-killed antagonists survived)...mining the comics for ideas and then
breaking the toys so no one else can use them. But all of that is "spirit of
the staircase," and during the actual watching of the movie it was quite
enjoyable. (Aside: while all the present-day scenes have to be set after the
Christmas special, apparently not a LOT afterwards, based on a newspaper seen
briefly in the mid-credits scene.) Recommended but full of bad storytelling
habits. Price varies by store and format, also available on Disney+.

Mech Cadets: Netflix - So, while this is based on the comics, it has
made a bunch of changes, generally for the better. I get the feeling that
the comic was largely "seat of the pants" plotting, and the cartoon goes back
and sets things up more clearly both in terms of plot beats and
characterization. They gave a lot more to Olivetti, who frankly was kind of
a cypher in the comics. A few new characters are added to fill important
roles as well, and the Robos got some additional distinguishing
characteristics. In almost every way, this is an improvement, showing how
revision can help a story. They also changed some of the climactic plot
beats to give the threat more immediacy while also eliminating some of the
"cadets go rogue...again" plot repetition. Visually, they went for somewhat
more realistic character designs (especially how you can tell someone's
general ethnicity without it being a caricature), as well as an animation
style that feels like it was trying to evoke stop-motion claymation.
Flashbacks for Important Formative Moments are done in a faux cel-animation
style in black and white, as if this were a 1950s TV anime like the original
Gigantor. Definitely worth checking out, regardless of whether you read the
comics. Recommended.

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.

Nothing this month.


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

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures vol 1: DC/Webtoon - A hardcopy
collection of the first 25 strips from the amazing webcomic. While not
really "in continuity" (to the extent anything at DC is lately), it's
plausibly continuity-adjacent and mostly covers the sort of stories that
happen between the crossovers and big events. Sure, you can just go read it
for free, but work this good deserves support (plus generally supporting
Webtoon's work at getting hardcopy collections into bookstores and major
retailers). Strongly recommended. $14.99/$19.99Cn

Way of the Househusband vol 10: Viz Signature - The mob boss's
granddaughter is the focus of more stories than any other supporting
character, so I guess you could say this is her chapter. Her bits don't
always work, she sometimes feels more like a grandma pretending to be a
little kid, but her presence does let Oono bring in some "Kids don't see the
world the same way" elements without having to use a new random kid every
time as has generally been the case. Recommended. $12.99/$17.99Cn/#9.99UK

Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear vol 1: Seven Seas Entertainment - Okay, this is a
manga adaptation of a light novel series (think "stuff sold for people to
read on the train," a sort of spiritual successor to dime novels and pulps).
While isekai-in-an-MMO-world stories are dime a dozen, this does stand out
from the pack in a few ways. For one, it doesn't use the "people only read
the spines, so the title is a summary" thing that's been popular with isekai
light novels and manga. Instead, the title sort of translates to Bear Bear
Bear Bear, although each of the Kumas is written with a different character
in the original. Still, Ursus Arctos Arctos has met its match in the Most
Bear category. Secondly, the premise is notably weird. A semi-emancipated
teenager who's wealthy from day trading and only wants to retreat into
virtual reality gaming (like Sword Art Online) is picked by someone calling
himself God to live in his fantasy world...which works somewhat like an MMO,
but it appears to be real. And Yuna, the protagonist, is gifted with an
insanely overpowered set of gear as well as a transferral of her real world
riches into gameworld currently. So far, sounds like your average
Overpowered In Another World Thanks To My Real World Skills isekai, but
here's the twist: all of her powers depend on wearing a cute bear suit.
Like, plush sleep outfit with a bear hood. And bear-shaped gloves. She
basically hits you with a hand puppet. Even though she has no desire for
human company and places no value on the opinions of others, she's reluctant
to be caught out in public wearing this bear suit. God has a twisted sense
of humor. And possibly a kink, as Yuna herself notes. The first volume
plays a lot with fantasy RPG tropes (adventurer ranking, literal pelt hunt
quests, etc) both embracing and subverting them in amusing ways.
Curmudgeonly as Yuna may be, she's not totally misanthropic, so when she
cracks a smile or does something for someone else it doesn't really break
character or indicate growth...just that (as the bonus text short story
points out) she's grown up around a lot of gold-digging garbage people, and
it's a refreshing change to be around the occasional non-garbage person.
Anyway, I liked this enough to order the remaining available volumes (2-5),
but I don't plan to get into the light prose backlog is already
big enough! Recommended. $12.99/$16.99Cn

Go Go Loser Ranger vol 6: Kodansha - Most of the issue is the big boss
fight against Peltrola (who is like a cross between a many-winged angel and a
chicken), split over several locations thanks to the fact that the boss
monster had been growing himself clone bodies in the basement of the Ranger
training base. Our protagonist (and I use the term loosely) comes to a
motivational turning point here, because if his ambition wasn't already
outstripping his ability, he's decided that his initial goal is just too
small. However, to keep this from being a complete farce, he actually gets
some substantial successes this volume, and so will begin the next stage of
his career/plan in vol 7. Content warning, some (black and white) blood and
body part removal, rated Teen 13+. Recommended. $10.99/$14.99Cn

The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls vol 1: Yen Press - I stumbled
across this title a couple months ago when going through Barnes & Noble's
upcoming manga releases...with companies like Marvel and DC seeming
determined to make comics that are Not For Me, I'm expanding more into
manga. I initially thought this was, you know, an illustrated guide, like
the guide to Yokai I got about 15 years ago. I am a sucker for that sort of
thing. However, this is a School Story, featuring girls at a school for
monsters (very very roughly like Monster High, I guess). Still, when I saw
it on the shelf while going to pick up Go Go Loser Ranger, I flipped through
it and decided to give it a try anyway. The setting is a bit more like
Monsters Inc. (they go to the human world to collect fear and screams), and
the protagonists are basically really bad at some important aspect of their
studies. For instance, the Jiangshi (hopping vampire) protagonist of the
first chapter is just bad at academics, and it doesn't help that her brains
sometimes leak out so that she forgets what she spent time learning. The
tone is very farcical, with death and dismemberment (which is not always
permanent, but still painful) used as laugh lines. The designs of the
protagonists of Class Z look like a magical girl team with a monster theme
and occasional aesthetic scarring. And occasional deadly head wounds.
Overall, it's darkly amusing, although the art can sometimes be hard to
follow even when it's not trying to be. Rated Older Teen. Mildly
recommended, probably won't be picking up the next volume, though.


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.)

Still kinda shifted, getting my books mid-month from the mail order
place, but most of my books for the month seem to come out in the first two
weeks of the month anyway.

Fantastic Four #10: Marvel - So, it looks like every Marvel mainline
book this month has "Who are the G.O.D.S." on the cover somewhere. I don't
know if this is some sort of theme for the actual issues (I mean, it kinda
fits this comic, and obviously fits Moon Knight) or just like when they have
variant covers to push something or other...but I don't actually care.
Anyhoo, this is a mystery from the point of view of the caretakers of a
cryosleep starship, each of whom spends their lives dealing with mysterious
invaders that the reader recognizes as the FF. There's a final scene from
the FF's POV that sort of debriefs the reader and assures us that Things Get
Fixed. Decent retro-SF-feeling issue. Recommended. $3.99

Moon Knight #26: Marvel - Meanwhile...well, not exactly. But as part of
the psychiatrist visit framing sequence, we get to see what Hunter's Moon was
up to during the events of last issue. MacKay brings back another somewhat
obscure villain from back during Rhodey's first run as Iron Man, although
somewhere along the way either he got un-deformed or the artists forgot about
it (not Sabbatini's fault, the guy is on-model to the most recent appearance
I could find online). Anyway, he's just a mook, the core conflict is
Hunter's Moon versus Hunter's Moon, and signs that Hunter Moon might be
losing that fight. Recommended. $3.99

Mech Cadets #1: Boom! Studios - This picks up from the previous series
(Mech Cadet Yu), a year after the invasion got repelled. They keep the
character designs from that series, though, rather than going with the
designs used by the Netflix show (the backmatter of this issue does discuss
those redesigns, though). Interestingly, Olivetti's cousin is introduced and
he looks like the cartoon version of Olivetti...I guess that gets the
character into the comics without needing to retcon the "original" Olivetti.
There's other bits here and there that suggest that the comics might be
converging on some of the other changes made by the cartoon without doing
retcons to the comic, so eventually they'll match up (which does not say good
things about the fate of original Olivetti, TBH, although he could just get
reassigned to another part of the world). Thematically, though, the comic is
definitely continuing with the "cadets disobey orders" thing as a go-to plot
point. Recommended. $4.99

Gargoyles #8: Dynamite - I apparently mislabeled #7 as #6 last month,
but in my defense things have kinda run together with this title. Coldfire
is the main "get inside the head" character this time (one of the cyborg
Gargoyles), although she's mostly just hanging around while things happen.
And unlike some issues, something of import DOES happen this issue, involving
Goliath's surrender to the justice system in which he hopes to demonstrate a
Measure of Man or whatnot. I still can't shake the feeling that this comic
came about because Dark Horse approached Weisman and asked him to write the
comic, not because Weisman had more stories he wanted to tell about the
characters (other than some of the human mob figures). Mildly recommended.

Gargoyles Dark Ages #2 (of 6, I think): Dynamite - Basically a battle
scene, lots of action and chaos and a death or two, but only such
characterization as can be conveyed through shouting and fighting (and a bit
of mourning). Mildly recommended. $4.99

Vampirella/Dracula Rage #1 (of 6): Dynamite - A bit of the cliffhanger
from last month's Draculina is messed with thanks to publication date
issues. Not that anything involving Lilith's actions can be taken at face
value. Or Dracula's. Or much of anyone in this continuity, really.
Definitely a "see where this goes" sort of issue, though, spinning out the
threads and the red herrings in equal measure. Unfortunately, the art makes
it look like every scene happens at night in a driving rain, when only some
of the scenes do. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Charm City #1: Scout Comics - My brother is the main artist on this, so
no overall recommendation due to conflict of interest. An excommunicated
witch working as a music columnist in Baltimore gets dropped into the middle
of a series of mass-murders of witches, just what she needed. The layout is
a mix of old-school and new, with captions that include narration and a
little internal thought process stuff, but also texting exchanges, and the
occasional QR code that links to a soundtrack for the story. Not the first
time I've seen a recommended soundtrack for scenes in a comic, but this is
the first time I can recall there being QR codes for it. I guess you CAN get
the sound from a story in a magazine these days, Mr. Joel. There's also a
four page backup done in a deliberately cartoony style by the series writer,
setting up some of the background elements (such as why she got
excommunicated, presumably) without needing to infodump into the main
narrative. Content warnings for harsh language and some moderate gore (rated
"Teen Plus"). $4.99

Dave Van Domelen, "It's not that I don't know the answer! I was just
trying to cover up that I wasn't listening in the slightest." - Devil Girl
Rin-Chan, The Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls vol 1

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