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Dave's Capsules for June 2023

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Dave Van Domelen

Jun 28, 2023, 10:48:22 PM6/28/23
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,
It was only 103F today, so no heat emergency. Technically.

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Cursed
Princess Club vol 2

In this installment: Secret Invasion (D+), Beach WZRD #3, Go Go Loser
Ranger! vol 4, Magical Girl Incident vol 1, Lost in Taiwan, Spider-Man
Animals Assemble, CosmoKnights vol 2, Mech Cadet Yu vol 1-3, Cursed Princess
Club vol 2, Fantastic Four #7-8, Black Adam #11 (of 12), Saturday Morning
Adventures Dungeons & Dragons #3, Gargoyles #6.

"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.

Secret Invasion: Marvel/Disney+ - Meh. While I do enjoy some espionage
thriller stories, this didn't grab me. Probably because it feels like a
gratuitously Dark And Gritty turn for the MCU, copying the kinds of comics I
avoid and the sort of Shock Plot Points that turn me off. I suppose I'll
read a summary when it's over, maybe even watch the final episode, but I
don't have the patience to sit through more than that of Dark Paranoid Double
Crossing And World Burning stuff. I got too much of that from Winter
Soldier, and this looks even darker and more paranoid.

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 #3: - After her notable setback in #2, the WZRD
deals with it in the manner of her ilk...massive denial and egocentrism. She
deigns to explain her motives (sort of), and backhandedly admits that the
witch might be not completely useless. Also, torches and pitchforks (or
something close enough) are brought out, and efforts are made to impress a
small child (spoiler: the child is VERY impressed). Recommended. $4 at (click the banner at the top).

(Rod Espinosa is recovering from carpal tunnel surgery, so Adventure
Finders continues to be delayed.)


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

Go Go Loser Ranger! vol 5: Kodansha - The qualifying test for unassigned
ranger candidates just sort of blurs into fighting the mysterious boss
monster revealed last time to have survived. Fighter D's secret is outed
pretty blatantly a few times, but I think he's saved by the fact that the
observers are idiots. Story-wise, this is one of those cases where it's
fairly clear the creator was NOT "writing for the trade," in that the opening
bit is kinda awkward and it doesn't feel like this was planned to be a chunk
on its own. It does END on a very good story beat, even compared to how
almost every chapter ends on some sort of cliffhanger this time around.
Rated Teen 13+ for some black and white blood and severe injury. Recommended.

Magical Girl Incident vol 1: Yen Press - If I had a nickel for every
magical girl setting I've read where the protagonist has gender issues I'd
have three nickels, which isn't a lot, but it's weird that it seems to be
turning into a subgenre. However, unlike Magical Girl Holy Aura or Magical
Boy, the gender swap is (so far) entirely played as a gag. A
twenty-something salaryman finds he can turn into a magical girl, and
apparently this is a world where that sort of thing (well, magical girls in
general, and maybe super sentai) happens. It's not entirely clear in the
first volume if wanting to grow up to become a Power Ranger is actually a
viable career path (unlike in Go Go Loser Ranger, where it's very much a
thing one can try to do). His work friend, a rich guy putting in time in the
cubicles because dad wants him to learn what real work is like, very quickly
gets in on the secret and produces rather a lot of resources that seem to
have been prepared well in advance for this sort of thing. In short, this
volume is almost entirely WTF with no indication that explanations will be
coming real soon. I did worry it'd be a train wreck of misogyny or
something, but so far...not ruling out that it'll go bad directions in the
future, but I'm willing to give it another volume. $15.00/$19.50Cn

Lost in Taiwan: Little, Brown and Company - A self-absorbed teenager and
nascent Ugly American ends up getting lost in Taiwan, as it says on the
label, but instead of coming to a Bad End he's lucky enough to meet some
people willing to help him find his way back to his brother's apartment. A
mixture of travelogue and growing the hell up, with occasional cringe that is
the point of the journey. Note, a fair amount of dialogue is in untranslated
Chinese (Taiwanese version), but most of it clear from context. I cheated
and used a phone app, which did fine on the speech balloons, less well on the
hand-drawn signs (which do tend to be more stylized). Recommended.

CosmoKnights Book Two: Top Shelf - As with volume 1, I read this as a
weekly strip for about a year (2-4 page chunks each week). It definitely
feels like a solid middle of an epic, by the end of it the sides are pretty
much firmed up and the world is changing whether people want it to or not.
Several personal arcs are moved forwards in meaningful ways, with both
expected and unexpected connections. Recommended. $24.99/$33.99Cn

Mech Cadet Yu vol 1-3: Boom Studios - I presume these will be reprinted
under the Kaboom imprint soon, but I got older stock. The overall plot arc
is standard Heroic Journey, with Just Some Guy being thrust into the middle
of things and helping save the world because of Heart and Guts, although in
this case also because of some of his non-martial (and somewhat sneered-at)
skills. A recurring theme is that the "hard choices" made by leadership are
really just hard on the grunts while being easy to the point of laziness for
the leaders themselves. Related is a secondary theme of those in power
mistrusting any source of power other than their own...specifically the alien
mechs who have come to help protect Earth from alien invaders. The three
volumes are basically a single novel or movie, so I kinda expect the upcoming
streaming series will move past the end of volume 3 (there's plenty of plot
danglers, for all that the personal growth arcs are pretty solidly
completed), unless they pad things out with a lot of extended action
sequences. Or, you know, do the "a season is six 22 minute episodes and one
writer had three weeks to adapt the comic into a script" sort of stunt that's
part of why writers are justifiably on strike. Current events aside, a solid
series and all the volumes are easily accessible online. The Boom editions
have cover prices of $14.99/$19.99Cn/#10.99UK, but I got a couple of them for
less than cover price online.

Cursed Princess Club vol 2: WebToon - Okay, so after getting volume 1 I
caught up with the strip online, and am currently in the agony of yet another
hiatus (episodes come in bursts of a few weeks) as the endgame of the final
volume is underway. This hardcopy volume collects episodes 35-61 (episode
length is not uniform), covering the sisters' first big outing, the
revelation that each of the Pastel Princesses has at least one rival involved
(in two cases, rivals for the Plaid Princess, in the third a rival for the
princess's affections), plus Prince Jaime continues to be mistake for a girl
except when he's naked, which is once in a while. The volume wraps up with
the origin of the Cursed Princess Club, and Prez's deep dark secret. Fun
semi-farcical take on fairy tale tropes and romance stories. 346 pages,
full color. Strongly recommended. $18.99/$23.99Cn


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 #7: Marvel - This is an oversized special issue because
in Legacy Numbering it's #700. Anyway, the first half is another Weird
Science Mystery, followed by the revelation that Dr. Doom was behind it and
then Doom speedruns an entire volume's worth of What If? in an attempt to
undo the plotline. By which, I mean he repeatedly uses time travel to try
various "If I'd been there when things happened, events would have unfolded
differently" tactics, and always gets a worse result, since a core conceit of
What If? is that the main timeline comics as published were always the best
possible world. At least Doom comes up with a reasonable Watsonian surmise
for why this is so in the current situation, but it still feels like spending
an oversized issue just to let North thumb his nose at critics of the
plotline. Mildly recommended. $5.99

Fantastic Four #8: Marvel - After the memory-related Weird Science
Mystery of the first half of #7, another memory-related Weird Science Mystery
feels like it's going back to that well too soon. Throwing in an homage to
Kirby's 1950s monsters helps a little, but it really feels like the FF needs
to invest in mental firewalls. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Black Adam #11 (of 12): DC - In which we discover that Teth-Adam's
soul-self wears a trenchcoat and three piece suit. The Akkadian space virus
pseudo-gods are in full "jerk everyone around" mode here, and the fact that
Adam is aware of this doesn't really help at all. Gonna take some high speed
weaving to get all the plot threads together in the single remaining issue,
though. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Saturday Morning Adventures Dungeons and Dragons #3: IDW - Some random
act two monster fighting, plot twist, revelation of the real villain...kinda
by the numbers. About the only interesting parts are a few very short
character moments, but all in all this reads like a lost episode of the TV
show, and not in a good way. Very mildly recommended. $3.99

Gargoyles #6: Dynamite - AKA The Dracon Family Adventures guest starring
Gargoyles. The gargoyles are basically just reacting, Goliath's "Measure of
a Man" sort of subplot seems mostly an excuse to get everyone on edge and
acting appropriately stupid. The book continues to feel like Weisman really
wanted to write crime drama but they offered him enough money to put the
gargoyles in it. Very mildly recommended. $3.99

Dave Van Domelen, "I mean, how did Black Panther even get a panther UP
here?" - Spider-Man talking to a pigeon, Spider-Man Animals Assemble!

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