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Dave's Comics Capsules for September 2023

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Dave Van Domelen

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Sep 29, 2023, 11:05:40 PM9/29/23
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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
Probably had COVID over Labor Day weekend, been coughing since.

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Spider-Man:
Across the Spider-Verse

In this installment: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Adventure
Finders Book 3 Chapter 14, Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear vol 2-6, Dinosaur Sanctuary
vol 3, Final Fantasy XIV: Eorzea Academy, Magical Girl Incident vol 2, Iyanu
Child of Wonder vol 2-3, Fantastic Four Annual #1, Fantastic Four #11, Moon
Knight #27, Draculina Blood Simple #5 (of 6), My Little Pony Classics
Reimagined: the Unicorn of Odd #1 (of 4).


"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.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse: Marvel/Sony - Okay, so one of the
things I like about most versions of Kamala Khan (trust me, this is tying in)
is that her parents find out her secret fairly early on (Saladin Ahmed's
reboot sucks), changing them from deuteroantagonists to actual supporting
characters. I have really just gotten tired of "Oh no, my parents can't find
out!" secret ID shenanigans. And as a result, the first half hour or so of
this tends to grate on me, since it needs to set up the increasing alienation
between Gwen and Miles and their respective parents over the Secret. But it
does resolve (or semi-resolve) by the end of the movie, and even if this is
Part 1 ("Beyond the Spider-Verse" is the sequel) and the main plot ends on a
cliffhanger, the emotional arc of the movie does resolve pretty well. Yeah,
there's impending doom and Miles is in a very bad place, but at the same time
he and Gwen are both in a good place. Visually, of course, it's an amazing
tour de force, especially the insane chase sequence. Assuming y'all aren't
as bothered by "parents as deuteroantagonists" thing as I am, strongly
recommended. Price varies by format and store, it's probably streaming
somewhere too but not Disney+.


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.

Adventure Finders Book 3 Chapter 14: Patreon.com - And we're back! Took
a while for Espinosa's carpal tunnel to heal up enough to safely go back to
work on this. There's a little at the beginning establishing that Clari and
her group are on their way out of the underground, and a big boom at the end
fixing this chapter against the whole Arao emergence, but otherwise this
chapter is all about Herminia putting her long game into action. And just in
case the reader didn't think she was justified in ripping off her relatives
and setting out to create her own realm in the wilds...well, we get to see
that it's not just low-caste women who get treated horribly. The rich ones
just buy into their own abuse and tell themselves it's an honor.
Simultaneously a dark, "the world is even worse than we thought, and we
already knew it was largely run by worshippers of a demon dragon," thing, and
a moment of Hell Yeah. Recommended. $2/month or more on Patreon.com.


Trades:

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

Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear vol 2-6: Seven Seas Entertainment - Okay, really
enjoying this series. As with the cliche of a lot of modern isekai, the
protagonist's Modern World skills and knowledge let her rapidly accomplish
things in the bog-standard fantasy MMO world she finds herself in. But it's
not the big OP sort of skills and knowledge. It's cooking. And drawing.
And knowing that mistreating kids is Very Wrong (she basically takes an
entire orphanage under her aegis because she can't stand to see things
continue as they were). The physical threats do keep ramping up, to the
point that she's actually a little challenged, but the real conflict is
between her desire to do the right thing, and her desire to be left alone and
slack off. Gratitude and ceremony? What a DRAG. It's not quite social
anxiety or antisocial nature, just...Miss Bear needs her Me Time. Story
adaptation-wise, this is trailing behind a series of light novels, while the
anime adaptation got underway during the last few volumes of this set, with
some of the end of volume omake bits talking about progress with that...and
fixing the timing of these volumes as right in the middle of COVID.
Anyway, the farther I get in this series, the more I enjoy it. Not all
cross-media adaptations work, but in this case it does. Any bugs in the plot
and characterization can be revised, and the included text pieces convince me
that a lot of this works better in manga form than in pure prose.
Recommended. $12.99/$16.99Cn each. Rated Teen, but mostly for implied
stuff.

Dinosaur Sanctuary vol 3: Seven Seas Entertainment - As far as the main
protagonist is concerned, she keeps up the work she's been doing, spending
this volume with another of the sections of the zoo and managing to help
things out in small and medium ways. The focus does drift off her a bit,
with one side story focusing on a couple of regular patrons, and a flashback
to the first job of the guy who runs the department she's in this volume.
The running theme in all these zoo personnel stories is that the people who
work at Enoshima are all true believers in the education mission, which makes
them misfits in a world where it's mostly about entertainment. Recommended.
$13.99/$17.99Cn

Final Fantasy XIV Eorzea Academy: Square Enix Manga - If you don't know
who all the characters are and what their running gags or character beats
are, this is a pretty standard "check off the boxes" high school Class
Competition manga, if a bit more towards the Ranma 1/2 level than most. That
said, if you do know the characters (and some require having done some of the
optional and high level content, like Palace of the Dead or the Eden raids),
it's hilarious. Recommended if you know the lore, very mildly recommended if
you don't. $14.99/$19.99Cn

Magical Girl Incident vol 2: Yen Press - Okay, the worldbuilding is
getting a bit clearer. While they don't come out and say it definitively, it
looks like the protagonist's whole gender swap thing is standard for magical
people. We meet several other magical girls and guys, and every one of them
gender swaps. This lets the writer neatly sidestep some of the potential
pitfalls of the concept, since everyone else just sort of accepts that it's
the way things work and nothing to get freaked out about. Of course, the
protagonist is still Special, because of course they are. Just, not because
of the gender bending thing. The tone is a bit unsteady, mostly on the
farcical side but occasionally trying to sell existential horror or
supernatural terror. Recommended, if uneven. $15.00/$19.50Cn

Iyanu Child of Wonder vol 2-3: Dark Horse - At some point the title
moved from Youneek to Dark Horse, with Youneek becoming a subline, although
I'd have thought I'd have noticed it showing up in Previews (the Youneek
volume I got had to be ordered direct). Looks like vol 2 hit during my shop
transition of 2022 and fell through the cracks. Anyway, volume 3 just came
out this month, so I ordered both on Amazon. Fortunately, most of the "craft
of making comics" problems I had with volume 1 have been fixed. The layouts
are still a bit confusing (a lot of "make weird panel layouts to be Dynamic"
pages where the flow is unclear), but the coloring is less murky (still kinda
murky) and the lettering is up to professional standards. That leaves the
interesting ideas uncluttered by most of the production issues, and I'm
almost tempted to see if the Dark Horse edition of vol 1 fixed stuff.
Anyway, the plot structure is a fairly tried and true "group of companions
quest for the Plot Device that will let them Fix the World," although it
takes until volume 3 for the group to finish coming together. There's also a
lot of mostly talky scenes establishing how things got they way they are both
in a general "after the failed singularity" sense and the specific "how the
obviously evil guy ended up in charge" sense. A badge on the cover of volume
3 proclaims that this will soon be a series on Cartoon Network (and Max), one
hopes that the adaptation fixes some of the pacing. Again, interesting
ideas, but the craft of assembling them is often halting. Mildly recommended
but shows promise. $19.99/$25.99Cn each.

Note, I'm currently working through the Franken Fran Omnibuses, but
since it's a closed set I'd rather finish them all before reviewing any.


Floppies:

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 Annual #1: Marvel - One of the downsides of a purely mail
order pull is that I can't look at an Annual before deciding to buy it, and I
have to remember to check solicits for Annuals. If I had done either, I
wouldn't have bought this. It's part of some Annual-crossover "pit heroes
against each other for Magic Reasons" thing, and while Zac Gorman's Human
Torch snappy patter is amusing, the issue as a whole was basically a waste of
time...and this for a hobby where I'm deliberately wasting time. Don't
bother with this. $4.99

Fantastic Four #11: Marvel - A Thing focus, bringing back another
classic FF villain who needs to be beaten with brains rather than brawn.
From way back, we've known that Ben is no idiot, for all that he plays at
being the guy with rocks for skin and rocks for brains, but he tends to get
overshadowed by the sheer genius of Reed Richards outside of some very
specific and somewhat contrived circumstances, but a lot of North's issues
have been solo or duo stories anyway. Recommended. $3.99

Moon Knight #27: Marvel - The two Knights are back together, and on a
journey into the mind of Vibro, probably giving more depth to the guy than he
probably ever had. But that's kinda MacKay's jam on this title, digging up
and fleshing out characters who often only exist in the Obscure Characters
index. Recommended. $3.99

Draculina Blood Simple #5 (of 6): Dynamite Entertainment - Not quite as
involved as Spider-Verse, but Draculina and Vampirella get to continue
mucking about in alternate realities and timelines and stuff, including a
sequence that's in black and white inkwork except for Vampi's red swimsuit.
The question of Draculina's parentage is finally answered (as clearly as it's
gonna be, anyway, given how she's a multiply looping time paradox possibly
recycling some of Priest's ideas from his 1999 prose series). Part of it
refers to a past event that apparently came out in comics this month, so
Vampi's none to firmly attached to time herself. (Let's just sidestep her
whole Superpowers crossover stuff for the moment.) Recommended, if a touch
confusing. $3.99

My Little Pony Classics Reimagined: The Unicorn of Odd #1 (of 4): IDW -
The same art style and breeze "what fourth wall?" tone as the Little Women
adaptation, this is based on the original novel rather than the Judy Garland
movie, which combines with the ruthless digesting necessary to give a bunch
of story beats not familiar to people who only know the movie and missing a
lot of stuff expected by everyone with any knowledge of Oz. Breezy and
irreverent fun. Recommended. $3.99


Dave Van Domelen, "Besides, you only ever wear them when you're evil. I
think the shoes might be cursed." - The Good Princess of the North (aka
Celestia)
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