Dave's March Missing Comics Catch-Up Capsules

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Dave Van Domelen

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Apr 6, 2022, 5:42:44 PMApr 6
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Dave's Late Comics Catch-Up Special from March 2022:
Books Diamond decided to not ship to my store at all that month
but I found them at a different store in early April.

So, due to Diamond wanting nothing to do with single-store
proprietorships unwilling to order fifty different variant covers at a time,
the change in ownership of my regular comic shop resulted in some ordering
issues. As in, the new owner wasn't allowed to make any backorders, and then
in March the old owner's orders were just cancelled outright. LCS was just
as bad if not worse, cutting things off immediately. Fortunately, another
store in town (which does get a gazillion variant covers a month) just barely
had everything I was missing still in stock, so here's my catch-up. All
floppies, since I tend to get other stuff via other sources (like all those
Kickstarter collections in the regular March column).

Monkey Prince #1-2: DC -The character first showed up in the DC Special
focusing on Asian characters and creators, but this steps back to set up the
origin story. Basically, this kid's real father is Sun Wukong, the stone
monkey, Great Sage Under Heaven. The fact he was even conceived indicates a
high level of magical shenanigans, but this is Sun Wukong we're talking
about. But his monkey heritage is starting to leak out through a big pile of
Batman-related trauma (unbeknownst to him, his mother and the man he thinks
is his father are rather unscrupulous scientists who regularly work for
supervillains...the comic's been out for over two months at this point, I
think I can get away with revealing that bit of business that's made clear
very early on in #1). So...the kid's caught between two worlds in more than
one way, made worse by his trauma-response behaviors and the fact his parents
keep moving around the country for work so he's always the outsider. Nor
does it help even a little that Damian Wayne goes to his high school. So
far, this is a very aggressive "refuse the call" story, as Marcus only wants
to live a normal life and avoid his plentiful trauma triggers...if it
continues in that vein too much longer it will get tiresome. Expecting him
to embrace his heritage is a bit much, but grudging acquiescence at least
would be a good direction (and it seems to be going vaguely in that direction
by the end of #2). Mildly recommended, feels like it might read better as a
trade paperback. Even two issues at once felt a bit slow. $3.99 each.

Vampirella Dracula Unholy #4: Dynamite - Okay, I'll admit that I'm not
really sure what was going on here, there's still a lot of seemingly
hallucinogenic stuff going on, but apparently it's all in-story real. Some
good stuff with the mothers, though. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Draculina #2: Dynamite - One bad caption can really throw off the reader
when there's multiple layers of flashback. In this case, "At That Moment"
might have worked better if it was on the page opposite the previous caption,
instead of another page later, so I got it mixed up with "right now".
There's a LOT of time and space shifting, though. Now, last week in wherever
Draculina goes when she's not out in "realspace", two other last week scenes
in different parts of San Francisco, flashback to Draculina's birth, and
several months ago just before Sacred Six got rolling in Georgia. Sometimes
the scene flickers to a different time and place more than once in a page,
and while "square borders for now, rounded for flashback" is usually helpful,
there's a LOT of different flashbacks going on here, to the point where you
almost need a khyron crawl in every panel to give it a date and place. Yeah,
Priest often offers up a challenging read, but I think this one got away from
him a bit. Mildly recommended. $3.99


Arrowsmith Behind Enemy Lines #3: Image - Mature content warning (sex and
violence). Fletcher and his contact manage to escape at terrible cost, take
a shortcut through the edge of Fae almost at terrible cost, and then hole up
briefly with the local resistance (okay, that one isn't so terrible or
costly...yet). Apparently shaved armpits caught on earlier in this universe?
Yes, it's a little nitpick, but Villarrubia otherwise does a good job of
evoking a "WWI yet sort of not" society, so the places where modern
sensibilities creep in tend to stand out. Plot-wise, it's similar to Astro
City in that we're getting a lot of montages of the big stuff, and then stop
and spend a lot of pages on small moments. I think that works better when
the audience can fill in more of the details of the big stuff from genre
tropes (e.g. show enough of the First Family to establish them as Fantastic
Four analogues, and the reader can fill in the blanks pretty well). This
setting may rely on a lot of well-worn tropes as well, but from different
genres than most comics buyers are going to be into. Mildly recommended.
$3.99

Astro City: That Was Then: Image -This is about the original Teen
Titans, and the end of the age of innocent teen heroes in the Silver Age.
Sure, the Jayhawks aren't really one for one versions of the original Titans
unless you go fairly broad (a girl with a mythic/magical origin, an unpowered
brawler, a water-based hero, a weapon schtick guy, and a fast guy...although
Rally is a roller skater gadget type, not a Flash type). The story focuses
on a random cluster of other teen heroes who got together after the funeral
for the Jayhawks and decided to take a road trip to get their heads together
and process what this all means. They're not a team, but they did know each
other at least somewhat beforehand, and we get the usual Astro City style
montage of the adventures they had on the way to where the main non-action
happens. Anyway, to ease back into the new era of Astro City (they still
plan to do a series of GNs rather than floppies), it's the story of the
turning of an age. The old days are on their way out, but no one's quite
sure what shape the new days will take...apropos. Anderson and Sinclair get
pretty experimental at times (at first look, for instance, the first page
looks like it has water damage or a printing error...until you notice that
the gutters are totally clean), giving me the feeling that this book was also
meant as a place to try out some visual tricks for later. Recommended.
$3.99

Norse Mythology III #2 (of 6): Dark Horse -The story of Hymir was almost
done at the end of #1, and they don't try to pad it out here, it comes to an
end pretty quickly to make room for the next story: the death of Balder.
Colleen Doran draws this one, and it's hard to think of someone better suited
to depicting Aesir prettyboy Balder than her. Mythology is full of
"character tries to rescue a beloved dead person from the halls of the dead,
only to fail for socially instructive reasons," stories, but as we'll see
next issue, Balder's case doesn't quite go there. It's no fault of Frigga's
or of Hermod's that dooms Balder. No tragic flaw in an otherwise good
person. Recommended. $3.99

Transformers Beast Wars #14: IDW - "Oh, he's been infected with a rage
thing, let him go, he should be fine." Basically, the entire plot of this
issue hinges on multiple characters behaving very stupidly. Mild
recommendation to avoid. $3.99

Transformers: War's End #2 (of 4): IDW - This issue overlaps with
Transformers #41 in such a way that there's really no correct order to read
them in. Transformers #41 seems to be mostly chronologically first, since
the main overlapping scene occurs later in that issue than in this issue. It
ends up feeling a bit muddled, though, as if some of the events take place in
different orders in the two titles. Anyway, a LOT of characters complain
about the plot, or at least their role in helping Exarchon, and there's some
side-switching or stepping-aside, but not enough to prevent random fight
scenes. Jumpstream angsts about predestination paradoxes and ends up
creating one anyway, ah well. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Transformers #41: IDW - Extended anticlimax to start the issue, and then
Buckley finally remembers that the Insecticon clones (who are apparently very
small now) have been menacing the refugee caravan since the end of Escape,
however the heck that fits into the timeline. Y'know, if they want to split
stories up across multiple books with uncertain overlap of production
schedules, they really should've committed to a datestamp system to blunt the
effect of "Hey, Road Rage has been swatting bugs for a few months now in the
background, is she dead yet?" issues. If the story were compelling and
vibrant enough, I could put up with the dislocation, but it feels more like
running through a checklist to try to get all the plot points in place before
the license expires. Mildly recommended. $3.99


Dave Van Domelen, "Well, I've thought about it, MR. ZHU, and I've
decided that I LIKE my fear! It keeps me out of situations where I might get
my head CHOPPED OFF!" - Marcus, Monkey Prince #2
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