Dave's Capsules for September 2020

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Dave Van Domelen

Oct 1, 2020, 5:51:26 PM10/1/20
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
Amazingly, schools haven't been shut down again yet around here.

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Nothing this

In this installment: Superman Man of Tomorrow (BluRay), Overwatch: the
Cavalry #1, Adventure Finders Book 2 Vol 1 Chapter 11, The Way of the
Househusband vol 4, Maestro #2 (of 5), The Rise of Ultraman #1, Shazam #15,
Lady Mechanika FCBD 2020, Jack Kirby the Epic Life of the King of Comics
FCBD, Owly the Way Home FCBD 2020, Big Girls #1-2, Bill and Ted are Doomed #1
(of 4), The Orville Launch Day #1 (of 2), Sacred Six #2, Vampirella #13, My
Little Pony Friendship is Magic #90, My Little Pony/Transformers #2 (of 4),
Transformers '84 Secrets and Lies #3, Transformers Galaxies #9-10,
Transformers #23

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed
to order): Nothing. A few books were late, but still came out in September.

"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.

Superman Man of Tomorrow: DC/WB - With the nu52-based movie continuity
come to an end, the direct to video animated team is starting over again,
with a Superman origin movie. It's set when Clark and Lois are both
interning for the Daily Planet, Clark is secretly doing good deeds but
doesn't have a proper costume yet, and there's few if any open superhumans
yet. The inciting incident is that someone hired Lobo to bring them the
"last Kryptonian," and the Martian Manhunter reveals himself to save Clark
from the bounty hunter. The three aliens set up an effective triad for two
of the big themes of the story: what does it mean to be the last of your
kind, and to what degree can or should an alien "pass" in an attempt to keep
humanity from freaking out. In both themes, Superman straddles the extremes
(Lobo at the "Frag 'em if they can't handle the Main Man...actually, frag 'em
anyway, it'll be fun," end, and J'onn at the Survivor's Guilt and Hide From
The Humans end), although he sympathizes far more with J'onn. A literally
larger threat arises, though, and the three end up working together, with
Superman accepting that while Lobo is a horrible person, he's not always
wrong about things. It's a coming out story, with Superman coming out as an
alien on his own terms, rather than adopting either extreme position being
modeled for him. (Oh, it's PG-13, and obviously Lobo gets to say the one
Naughty Word...which felt weird, since he has his own words which are implied
to be far filthier but we're too unhip to understand them.) Recommended.
Price varies by store and format.

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.

Overwatch: Tracer - London Calling #1 (of 5): Dark Horse Comics - Dark
Horse has been doing 8 page free vignette comics for Overwatch for a while
now, this is the first time they've put together a single longer story, with
the first installment (and probably the rest) being 20 pages of story. Still
free, though. This is set after the end of the superhero era Overwatch, but
before the events of the game, with Tracer living in London with Emily and
trying to find some purpose in her life. A little light superheroics,
hitting the shops, and so forth. She stumbles across an Omnic (android)
literally underground subculture and bonds with some of them over music, but
the rest of the community mistrusts humans in general...and former Overwatch
members in particular. The art is decent, but better suited to a physical
page, as some of its looseness turns into scratchy and messy lines when
zoomed on by Guided View. Recommended, free on ComiXology.com.

Adventure Finders Book 2 Volume 1 Chapter 11: Patreon.com - More epic
battle time, with a pause every so often as Clari takes in the horrors of
war...even when you're on the winning side, it's pretty terrible. There's a
helpful "battlefield diagram" summary at the end, which also clarifies what
some of the stuff was even named (not much time for introductions in the heat
of battle, particularly when the Angry Miyazaki Spirits showed up).
Recommended. $1/month on Patreon.


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

The Way of the Househusband vol 4: Viz - Another good installment, but
it felt like Kousuke Oono is treading water a bit. It leans too hard on the
"He sounds like he's up to something horribly illegal while talking about
normal household chores" gag at the expense of some of the other good stuff
in previous volumes. I guess it's more a problem of balance, focusing too
much on one aspect of the ludicrous situation over others. (My favorite
story in this volume, the beach volleyball game, backed way off on the
"sounds like criminal activity" gag, as did the 100 Yen Store segment.)
Still a good read, just not as good as the previous three volumes.
Recommended. $12.99/$17.99Cn/#9.99UK


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.)

Maestro #2 (of 5): Marvel - A few more of the dramatic personae of
Future Imperfect show up as Hulk tries to find what's left of humanity. A
lot of brooding in ruins, but he stumbles across a dying community under the
ruins of Washington DC and finds out about Dystopia's existence, and its
leader (who is not yet him, but not much of a spoiler to say he'll take over
before the end of the miniseries). On the way there he stumbles across the
wasteland band led by Rick Jones, but doesn't meet Rick himself, and finally
ends up in Dystopia and meets its mysterious master. It's a bit convenient
who that master is, but I suppose it makes sense. And there's still some
suspense despite being a prequel story, since there's a number of ways Hulk
could become Maestro with varying body counts involved. Mildly recommended.

The Rise of Ultraman #1 (of 5): Marvel - So, Marvel got the Ultraman
license. My Ultraman lore is pretty spotty, but I know just enough to get
the impression that this is a sort of "Millennium Godzilla" reboot, in which
the very earliest material is still canon to the new story, but the
intervening decades lacked all the other stuff. In this case, the original
Ultraman series started as a "science adventurers dealing with the strange
and monstrous" with more of a weirder Man from UNCLE vibe, with Ultraman
himself showing up in the sequel series, followed by a bazillion variants and
imitators. In this case, the United Science Patrol (Ultra Q) has been around
since the early 60s, but the incident that led to Ultraman fusing with USP
agent Moroboshi ("Falling Star") instead (apparently) killed both. Cut to
2020, and there's another Ultra incident, which a couple of USP agents and
the failed-the-USP-entrance-exam brother of one of them stumble across the
arriving Ultra alien. It's a slow build, although the USP agents do face a
kaiju (non-dai version, so only about human sized) around the middle of the
main story. There's a backup story set during the Ultra Q days, more of a
body snatcher horror sort of dark SciFi story, and then one-page gag "in
setting" comics featuring Pigmon and a hapless USP agent along the lines of
WWII army instruction comics. Didn't care for the Pigmon pages, to be frank.
Anyway, they're clearly aiming to play up the horror aspects of alien
invasions for now, even though the USP has handguns that can hurt a daikaiju
it's hard to shoot at what you don't know is there. I'll probably stick it
out for all five issues (unlike Maestro, it doesn't say anywhere on the comic
that it's five issues, but it is), mildly recommended. $5.99

Shazam #15: DC - I wasn't really interested in the big Seven Worlds
plotline that launched this series, but after reading a scan of this issue I
decided to pick it up. It's basically a done-in-one downtime story that
explores some of the conflict between Billy's lives, and what it means to
have a purpose, etc. Has this been done before, a lot? Yeah. But this is a
good implementation of the concept, even if it does seem to be trying to set
up a hella problematic love triangle (as bad as the Superman/LL/Clark ones
were, any with Shazam and Billy as two of the corners is gonna be a lot
worse). Recommended. $3.99

Lady Mechanika FCBD 2020: Benitez Publications - This is a reprinting of
Lady Mechanika #0, and while it does eventually set up the basic premise of
things, it still reads like something aimed mostly at readers who already
knew about the character and her general background. Grabbed this as part of
my general resolution to try to be a little more adventurous in my purchases,
but...this one ain't going on my pull. It's basically Wolverine as a
steampunk woman with a stereotypical T&A build. She's a powerful cyborg with
built-in extendable claws, no memory of her life before waking up as a
cyborg, searching for clues about who did this to her, etc. This story has
her run across a creature who may have been created by the same mad
scientist, but ultimately finding nothing useful (especially given that
volume 6 came out over the summer and I presume she still hasn't found her
mad scientist). While it's not bad per se, it also didn't inspire me to want
to read anything else about the character or by the creator.

Jack Kirby the Epic Life of the King of Comics FCBD Preview: Ten Speed
Press/Random House - Tom Scioli has always made it obvious that he's a big
fan of Kirby, and now he has the chance to tell Jack's life story. It's
written as an autobiography, although as far as I can find it's not adapted
from any prose form autobio done by Kirby himself (he did a ten page comic
autobiography once, but not a full book). Consider it an artistic conceit.
Another artistic conceit is that Jack himself looks like a young boy manga
protagonist even as an adult, which is kinda weird. Anyway, this excerpts
the first dozen or so pages, going from childhood through the creation of
Captain America. If you're curious about whether the full book is worth
picking up, this preview will definitely give you enough of a taste to tell
whether it's to YOUR taste.

Owly the Way Home FCBD 2020: Graphix/Scholastic - This is unlike most
previous Owly comics from FCBD in two major ways. The big one is that it's
not a standalone story or part of a sampler, instead it's the first part of a
graphic novel (which is becoming a much more common sort of FCBD offering).
The second is that it's a lot more wordy than I remember Owly comics being.
Owly himself still talks only in pictures, but a bunch of other characters
have regular word balloons...makes me wonder if Runton either got tired of
the wordless style, or if his new editors insisted on more words. Anyway,
this is clearly part of an attempt to get a broader audience than Top Shelf
could offer, and it starts off setting up the core conflict for Owly: he just
wants to be friends, but since he's a predator species, everyone runs (or
flies) away. It could be seen as an origin story for the Top Shelf version,
I suppose, as he establishes his circle of friends along the way to helping
newly-met Wormy (no relation to Trampier's) get home after a flood. Mind
you, aside from buying a few of the trades as gifts for my then-young nieces,
I've never really been interested enough on the Owly FCBD books to buy the
regular ones for myself, and something about the newer writing style feels
just off enough to me that I don't plan to get the full version of this

Big Girls #1-2: Image - I read a scan of #1 in August and was interested
enough to buy it, but my store was out by that point and I had to wait until
September (I prefer to wait and review stuff after getting a physical copy in
my hands). The high concept here is that humanity approached singularity and
then failed, with various disasters reducing civilization to scattered bands
of civilization and one remaining high tech enclave. No one's quite sure why
some people are born with the mutation of turning into giants, but since all
men born with that mutation eventually become ravening giant monsters, it is
a Problem. Fortunately, women who become giants retain their intelligence
and human appearance (aside from, you know, being huge), and are enlisted to
protect the city from the monstrous men. Not really a subtle social
commentary, but it's a kaiju story, eh? The protagonist is a reluctant
warrior, and has doubts about the official line that all men become monsters.
And there's hints that the main antagonist is the reason all men so far have
turned monstrous, but so far just hints. That's good, though, because it
gives the plot room to breathe...is the protagonist right that some giant
little boys can be saved? Is the government lying to her, or are they also
victims of an evil plot? Or is the evil plot just taking advantage of the
fact that the official line is RIGHT? Dunno yet. It's on the darker and
more morally ambiguous side of kaiju stories, but is so far still spending a
lot of time on the kaiju battling and not shifting more heavily to the social
metaphors like Kaijumax does. (Kaijumax tends to assume you've seen the
fights and is more interested in telling about the "not so happily ever
after" part.) Mildly recommended, but interesting enough to keep up with for
now. $3.99 each.

Bill & Ted Are Doomed #1 (of 4): Dark Horse Comics - Rather than just do
an adaptation of Face the Music, Evan Dorkin and artist Roger Langridge are
filling in some of the time between movies, with this story set in the year
2000. They're running out of money, they are considered has-beens already,
and they're making no progress on The Song (unsurprisingly, given that by
2020 they've still made no progress). Station and the good Bill & Ted robots
are still part of the cast, as is the Grim Reaper (although he's drawn to
look more like the movie version, as opposed to the actual skeleton Dorkin
himself drew in the short-lived Marvel series). Given its premise, this is
likely to be a bit of a bummer, but hopefully darkly humorous along the way.
It starts okay, it feels like Dorkin is still getting back into the swing of
the characters, though. Mildly recommended. $3.99

The Orville Launch Day Part 1 of 2 #1 (of 2): Dark Horse Comics - I'm
always leery of comics adaptations of TV shows or movies, especially when the
acting is a big part of why I like them. Sometimes it turns out well (Bill &
Ted previous series, My Little Pony in general), but it often falls flat for
me. In this case, it does help that the writer David A. Goodman is the
producer of the show and wrote three episodes, and it shows in how he
captures the voices of the characters. Unlike a lot of TV writers, though,
he does seem to grasp the pacing needed for a comic, he's not trying to
squeeze a full Orville episode into this two issue series (or if he is, all
the squeezing comes next issue). Mind you, I could be wrong, #2 is solicited
for the first week of October and it's listed as "Part 1 of 2 #2" so maybe
the story is being told in two miniseries? The Orville wiki says that it's
just the second part of the issue, so maybe the cover layout was oopsed.
Anyway, this issue feels paced about the same as a single 11 minute act for a
TV show, which is about right. This is the first story of "Season 2.5" that
takes place between the last broadcast episode and the first streaming
episode, about a year after the end of season 2. As stories go, it's a rather
blunt allegory...Orville once again homaging Star Trek in that way. But
since Orville plots have a tendency to subvert expectations and cliches, I
trust that the payoff will be interesting, even if it doesn't quite work on
all levels. Recommended. $3.99

Sacred Six #2: Dynamite - Well, it's more coherent than #1, but that is
faint praise. More maneuvering for position as the players take the field or
vice versa, and it might make a little more sense to read after Vampirella
#13 (the origin of a macguffin is explained there). #1 would have been
better placed after Vampi #13 as well, since it introduces Ashthorne in the
main book. Mildly recommended, but I strongly suspect that this whole first
arc will cohere better if read in a single sitting...Priest does not
generally Write For The TPB, but that's the feeling I'm getting here,
combined with some bad timing in terms of release schedules. $3.99

Vampirella #13: Dynamite - Lilith continues to relate her origin to Doc
Chary, who is believing none of this hoodoo crap. He doesn't quite fall into
the "straw skeptic" category, since this is not a setting where the typical
person has run into supernatural stuff...it mostly stays hidden. But his
denial is going to reach a point eventually where he has to abandon it, or it
becomes its own sort of pathology. Anyway, we finally get Lilith's
motivation spelled out clearly: she is trying to find her first daughter, and
all her other children (Vampirella most of all) are just tools in the search.
It's hinted that the goth teenager dancing around the edge of the storyline
might be that daughter, but Vampirella's recently-dumped girlfriend seems to
want the role as well, and I have my own spoilery theory about who it really
is as well. A bit of a slow burn, but it is burning. Recommended. $3.99

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #90: IDW - Ah, the secret origin of
Zecora continues, with rather strong parallels to Twilight Sparkle in that
she buried herself in studies and grew apart from her friends. Their
attempts to include her were interpreted as mockery (and there was some
actual prank-playing that was not appreciated), while her reaction to that
was seen as snubbing them, further driving a wedge between childhood friends.
But rapprochement must wait, as there is a giant monster. There is always a
giant monster. I suppose that's part of why Zecora felt at home in
Ponyville? There's a few places where the art and story seem at odds, such
as "Equestria is a nearly mythical place that might not really exist" within
a few panels of scenes of playing Ogres & Oubliettes (which suggests stronger
cultural ties, unless a lone traveler from Equestria claimed to have made up
the game and sold it in Zebra lands). Mildly recommended. $3.99

My Little Pony/Transformers #2 (of 4): IDW - Oookay. So, any chance
that this is a unified story went into serious doubt in the Spike/Grimlock
story, and totally out the window with the Pinkie/Gauge story. I mean, if
the first fits into the same setting as the framing story of #1 at all, it
takes place after Chrysalis has been defeated and regular travel between the
worlds established. And the second story is purely a one-off, no-continuity
gag piece. This series was originally supposed to be serialized weekly
online and only come out in print at the end, and I guess the creators
weren't given any sort of guidance other than maybe a dibs list on
characters. The Spike/Grimlock story is okay, but the Pinkie/Gauge story is
just stupid, and not in a fun way. Neutral. $3.99

Transformers '84 Secrets & Lies #3 (of 4): IDW - While I was initially
setting up the framework for this month's column, I didn't think #3 had come
out this month, because I couldn't recall having read it. That is never a
good sign. Anyway, part of that is because the big fight this issue is
forgettable, a dazed Grimlock versus mindless shells of several Autobots
under the control of the Ark's computer, AUNTIE. There's also some warfare
on Cybertron, with the triumvirate of Straxus, Thunderwing, and Scorponok
carving up Cybertron amongst themselves and Star Saber and Ultra Magnus
trying to hold the line against them. In a series already written like a
timeline checklist, this one is particularly bad about it. Very mildly
recommended...it's not bad, it's just sort of...there. $3.99

Transformers Galaxies #9: IDW - Fun with printing delays led this to
come out in September even though it hit ComiXology in August. This wraps up
the Reversionist arc, and I think artist Beth McGuire-Smith was running into
deadline pressures because the art gets pretty sketchy in places. The story
feels kinda sketchy as well, as if it was originally planned as four issues
but the last two had to be compacted into one. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Transformers Galaxies #10: IDW - Also suffered a delay that made the
print version lag a couple weeks behind the online version (TF #23 had this
happen too), but at least it made it out in September. This picks up a new
arc, focused on Ultra Magnus and what he's been up to while Cybertron
descends into war. It has a lot of the usual, "Such an honorable warrior,
blind to the corruption you serve," stuff that characters like Magnus tend to
attract. IDW1 Minimus Ambus was such a strong take on the character that
it's going to be hard to come up with something different that isn't just
Stoic Soldier with maybe a little angst. Several other familiar faces with
new personalities show up, and it's hard to avoid thinking of this as "the
boring Lost Light". Mildly recommended. $3.99

Transformers #23: IDW - "Rise of the Decepticons" subtitle. It's coup
d'etat time, and while the Senatorial Guard and Orion Pax are aware something
is up, stupider and oranger heads prevail and the Senate sets itself up
perfectly for Megatron to seize control while also maintaining a veneer of
righteousness. This is mostly the "oh crap" installment leading into
(depending on how Ruckley wants to pace this) a climax in #24 or #25. Given
that the next miniseries coming out in a few months focuses on fleeing
Cybertron, it's safe to say that history plays out in its usual path and
Megatron wins. Given the fairly slow burn and the inevitability of the
outcome, this book lives or dies on the character moments, and they're a bit
sparse in a fight-heavy issue like this one. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Dave Van Domelen, "You have sat too long for any good you have been
doing. So let us HAVE DONE with you! I say you are no Senate WORTHY of the
name! In the name of Primus, GO! NOW." - Megatron, Transformers #23
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