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Dave's Capsules for January 2023

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Dave Van Domelen

Jan 28, 2023, 5:51:14 PM1/28/23
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,
And now time for the shift to comics arriving a month late.

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Cursed
Princess Club vol 1

In this installment: Black Adam (movie), Beach WZRD #2, Adventure
Finders Book 3 Chapter 13, Kaiju No.8 vol 5, Galaxy the Prettiest Star,
Cursed Princess Club vol 1, Santiago!, The Illustrated Al, Fantastic Four #3,
Shang-Chi: Master of the Ten Rings One-Shot, Ultraman Mystery of UltraSeven
#5 (of 5), Moon Knight #19, SCP Comics Series: We Who Poke With Sticks, Giga
#5 (of 5), My Little Pony #8.

Books that I'll review next mont after I get my mail shipment: MLP
Classics Illustrated #3, Gargoyles #2, Black Adam #7, Monkey Prince #12.

Going forwards, the only books I have left on "pick up the week they
come out" are the last two issues of Vampirella Year One, any issues of
Entropy that actually come out (if any), and manga collections that I get
from various non-comics stores. I suppose I might pick some stuff up off the
shelf as well, but I'm leery of starting any more floppies on a whim.

"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.

Black Adam: DC/WB - Ah, the bold new direction of the DC Cinematic
Universe, utterly kneecapped by the new owners. But, even if they're going
to scrap just about everything and reboot it (still not entirely sure WHAT
they plan to do), is this movie worth watching as a standalone story? Eh,
it's decent. I think my main problem with it is a lack of focus. It's not
even really that there was anything that clearly could have been cut without
hurting the rest of the story, more that it was interweaving stories that
needed more time to breathe. The two main stories are "Khandaq is run by
Intergang and is in want of liberation," and "Black Adam is his own
antagonist, but let's throw in a fight scene at the end anyway." However,
without the freedom fighters, there's no real reason for Adam to pull a face
turn, and without Adam's giant-sized issues there's no need to pull a face
turn. And I don't even think that doing it as two movies would have
worked...maybe a miniseries on streaming would have been better for this
story, but the DCCU has been marked by impatience and a desire to skip the
groundwork, this movie is no exception. So the groundwork gets kinda rushed
through, and while the main beats work, there's a lot of "spirit of the
staircase" realization of how things don't quite fit. Maybe it'd have helped
if Intergang was introduced in a previous movie? Maybe not. The extras on
the BluRay are kinda embarrassingly optimistic about where the DCCU is going
next (although Priest is mostly talking about the comic, since he wasn't
involved in the movie but they interviewed him anyway). Mildly recommended.
Price varies by format and store.

The animated Way of the Househusband got a second 5-episode season on
Netflix this month, adapting another couple of dozen stories from the more
recent volumes. Worth watching.

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.

Beach WZRD #2: - The still-unnamed wizard (she has a name,
but it hasn't been revealed in the actual story as of the end of this
installment) takes another stab at making a tower, and finally the much
put-upon witch lets her have it. "It" being a curse. This does not make
anyone particularly happy. Well, the lifeguard maybe a little. Fun magical
weirdness. Recommended. $4 on the creator's website.

Adventure Finders Book 3 Chapter 13: - Ah, lucky number 13.
We're still not quite caught up to the emergence of Arok/Arao, as far as I
can tell, but more of the crew are coming together and dealing with a few
last little hassles between them and the endgame. There's a few pages of
"Can't we catch a break?" but then things break. A lot. Mostly in favor of
the heroes, although when you break enough stuff it'll be bad for everyone.
Recommended. $2/month on Patreon.

Also, while there isn't another completed ebook ready to go yet in the
Justice Wing setting (I've Strongly Recommended the 4P novel in the past, and
its sequel is in first draft form), if you sign up for the Banter Latte
Patreon at, you can access a rather large
quantity of very well written works in progress, and updates-as-they're-
written stuff on the Discord server linked to it.


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

Kaiju No.8 vol 5: Viz Media/Shonen Jump - I was a little worried that
the fight against his boss would take up the entire volume, but fortunately
it isn't. Long enough to be important, but then the story moves on with the
consequences. It's made pretty clear in this volume that most people aren't
ready to consider kaiju to be people, even with an obvious example in their
faces. Of course, centuries of kaiju being pretty much mindless monsters
will give society one heck of a load of cultural inertia and prejudices.
Recommended. $9.99/$12.99Cn/#7.99UK

Galaxy the Prettiest Star: This was a FCBD preview last year, although
oddly they excerpted chapter 3, so they kinda blew the reveal. This is aimed
at the teen readers, but is similar to a lot of the younger reader GNs
(Primer, Anti/Hero) in that it's an origin story technically set in something
resembling the DC Universe (Metropolis and its alien scene are mentioned, but
you could search and replace Metropolis for a generic superhero city name and
not change the book at all), and I have zero faith that the character will
ever appear again. Still, I decided to give it a shot. I'd say it's an
extended metaphor for being trans, but it's also a literal story about being
trans...the protagonist happens to be an alien hiding as a human (the
metaphor) but also a girl disguised as a boy (the literal). The multiple
layers do tend to cause narrative problems...the anti-alien prejudice pretty
much takes over after the outing, with barely anyone batting an eye at the
whole gender issue, which makes me wonder why they even bothered with the
literal layer. Mildly recommended. $16.99/$22.99Cn

Cursed Princess Club vol 1: Webtoon Unscrolled - I stumbled across this
at Walmart, skimmed it and decided to pick it up. It collects Season 1 of a
Webtoons strip, "unscrolled" because the strip is an infinite canvas deal but
they weren't about to sell a scroll in paper form. (I have since started
archive trawling, there's about another three volumes' worth of strips up,
and this is not like Magical Boy where you need to mess with Webtoon's weird
token system to unlock strips.) The basic premise is that the protagonist,
Gwen, is a princess who looks like a witch or half-orc or something, but was
raised in a very sheltered family where everyone thinks she's beautiful
because they know her inner beauty. But the first time she encounters an
outsider who thinks she's ugly, she flees into the forest and stumbles across
the titular Cursed Princess Club, which exists to help cursed princesses (and
one prince) learn to love themselves despite their curses. That alone is an
interesting starting point, but what gives the series legs is how utterly
INSANE just about every character ends up being. Yes, her oldest sister is a
stereotypical lovely princess who is followed by animals...but she's a total
fangirl for a neighboring prince and when scared she vomits rainbows. The
other sister has flowers grow around her...and is one of the most dangerous
unarmed combatants in the world. Gwen's brother is often mistaken for a
princess, since he's sooooo pretty (to the point that his beauty can blind
people, handy since he has a penchant for ditching his clothing). It's goofy
and occasionally disgusting (not all of the curses are photogenic). Strongly
recommended. $18.99/$23.99Cn

Santiago!: Margaret Ferguson Books - Jay Hosler gives arthropods a rest
(mostly) to join Ottaviani in the "comicbook adaptation of scientist
biography" game, featuring Santiago Ramon y Cajal, an artist and scientist
who was the first to really give us a look at how the brain is put together.
A disreputable sort as a child, Santiago is drawn like a swarthy Calvin (of
"and Hobbes") with hair like black flames. A disproportionate amount of the
book is devoted to his childhood, but that's because a disproportionate
amount of Santiago's shenanigans happened then. And Hosler does a good job
of tying it all together in adulthood, showing how all the rebellion and side
interests positioned Santiago perfectly to unlock the structure of the brain.
However, it's not all fun and games and home made cannons, the story doesn't
shy away from the fact that Santiago was physically and emotionally abused by
SOOOO many authority figures in his childhood, starting with his father.
Recommended. $14.99/$19.99Cn

The Illustrated Al: Z2 Comics - This one was significantly delayed, and
I suspect it was originally planned to come out during the buzz around the
"Weird" mockumentary. Various artists illustrate Weird Al's non-parody
songs, such as Hilary Barta leading off the volume with Dare To Be Stupid and
Bill Plympton drawing One More Minute. Most of the artists are pretty
obscure, and are pretty recognizably "indie" in style. (I suspect if I went
back over my back issues of The Nib I'd see a lot of names from here show
up.) In between the adapted songs are pin-ups, and that's where the parody
songs show up...I wonder if they were concerned that doing comics of the
parody songs might lead to clearance hassles, or if it was just a creative
decision to focus on the originals? Anyway, the results are somewhat uneven,
and a lot of them feel like they've been abridged to fit the page count
(although it may just be an effect of a heavily musical piece being
compressed down to just the lyrics). Various collectors' editions with
prints and trading cards are also available, but all the art from them is
included in the regular hardcover. Anyway, an interesting concept, but I'm
afraid the translation to a new medium didn't work very well overall.
There's a few gems, and a lot of rocks. Mildly recommended. $29.99/$34.99Cn


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.)

Fantastic Four #3: Marvel - Having looked in on the other three, it's
time for Johnny Storm to get a spotlight, in which he tries to maintain a
secret identity while hiding in more or less plain sight. Whatever it was
the FF are accused of, though, it's not bad enough that his really bad
disguise is called out. Just as I felt North kinda flanderized Reed as "out
of touch academic" at times, Johnny as "well-meaning goofball" is perhaps
leaned on a little too hard. Also, the dilemma of "What do you do when you
can't just burn the badguy to the ground" feels forced, this can't be the
first or even the tenth time Johnny has had to deal with someone like that.
I have to wonder if North is pulling a characterization reboot here, taking
everyone back to how they behaved during the early 60s. Mildly recommended.

Shang-Chi: Master of the Ten Rings One-Shot: Marvel - This really
doesn't feel like it was meant to be the capstone it got resolicited as.
It's a mostly standalone story in which Shang-Chi is hurled back in time to
the 1800s and helps out his father and uncle before not-Fu-Manchu turned
evil, and was originally solicited as Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings Annual (as
a result, I ended up with two copies, because I wasn't careful and missed
that the new title was not a new book, so I ordered under both titles). As
an Annual, it's decent. As a "that's all, folks," it's rather wanting.
Still, recommended. $4.99

Ultraman the Mystery of UltraSeven #5 (of 5): Marvel - The resolution to
the three-way Ultra fight makes sense in a general way, but feels like it
doesn't fit the kaiju-fighting genre as well. Then again, I've only seen the
first season of Ultraman, a couple of the later movies, and the animated
series, so this resolution might be perfectly in keeping with the tone of
some seasons. In many ways, this issue doesn't just resolve the immediate
Mystery of UltraSeven, it also acts the end of the beginning in terms of the
sinister leadership of the science patrol. Whether that gets wrapped up in a
single 5 issue mini or this is the midpoint of a longer overplot, I dunno. I
guess a lot of it depends on how long Marvel keeps the license, though.
Mildly recommended. $3.99

Moon Knight #19: Marvel - When I saw the cover in solicitations, my
reaction was, "Why is a doorman beating up Moon Knight?" Turns out this is
Commodore Donny Planet, a criminal who showed up in two Marvel comics during
one month in 1982 (Moon Knight and PM/IF) and then not again until now. He
even gets beaten the same way as last time the two tussled. But he's really
just a side show, the main plots of this issue involve the two Fists of
Khonshu debating the dangers of serial resurrection, and Zodiac chatting with
a psychiatrist while in prison. MacKay likes to mix things up just enough
that it's not obvious if Zodiac will be staying in prison long term or coming
back before the end of the current arc, though, and that's a good thing.
Recommended. $3.99

SCP Comics Series: We Who Poke With Sticks: Parabooks - I got this as
part of a Kickstarter on a reprint of the SCP (Secure, Contain, Protect)
books, dunno when or if it'll be available on its own. If you're not
familiar with SCP, it's a collaborative fiction and worldbuilding thing that
claims the SCP Foundation works behind the scenes to protect the world from
anomalies. Sort of Warehouse 13 meets Call of Cthulhu. This comic adapts a
text story set in the SCP, told from the (self-serving) point of view of
someone who coordinates the "poke it with sticks" stage of many
investigations, with the sticks being death row convicts who are sent in
dressed as cops or other local authorities to mess with things until they
find the anomaly. The comics format makes it easier to contrast the
self-serving narration to what Actually Happened, giving the whole thing a
bit of a "Paranoia Troubleshooter post-mission briefing" feel. Recommended.
No actual price on the book.

Giga #5 (of 5): Vault - Man, this took forever to finish. Seriously, #4
came out in 2021. Two issues in 2020, two in 2021, none in 2022. It's
something of a fizzle of an ending, and I'm not just saying that because the
year delay built things up. Lots of death and blood and stuff, society
collapses, and then the secret about it comes out...which is usually
something that happens to make society collapse, but here it was the mere
quest for the secret that blew up society. At least there's no hard to
follow time jumps, the only narrative shifts are quite clear and linear.
Anyway, this was the sort of Deep Mystery Of A Post-Apocalyptic Society story
that comes along pretty often and is hard to do in a refreshing way, but at
least the reader can hope for a good recycling of ideas. This one feels like
a "profound" Tweet got turned into a five issue comic. It's not that there's
nothing there, but like the other Vault book I read (Blue Flame) it just
didn't come out as cleverly as it looked in the writer's head. There's a
Tumblrweed that comes onto my feed every so often that suggests outsourcing
our ethics to our machines would lead to a radically different outcome than
"civilization reduced to a tiny number of people huddled around dormant war
machines," and that feels a lot more mature than this comic's take on the
matter. Mildly recommended. $3.99

My Little Pony #8: IDW - Nested flashbacks. The goal is to show why
Izzy is so much more motivated by loneliness and alienation in the comics
than in the cartoon and get her back onto show model, and I suppose they
manage that. The art could have made it clearer what layer of flashback we
were in, and the story wasn't engaging enough to make me want to go back over
it to puzzle things out. I've decided to get this through the end of the arc
in #10, then drop it. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Dave Van Domelen, "Well, I think it's pretty clear that we should go
punch this prince in the throat." "No punching, Abbi. I've got a machete in
the house, I can go now and --" "Oh, good call." - Abbi and Prez, Cursed
Princess Club vol 1
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