RANT: Dave's Capsules for May, 2012

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Dave Van Domelen

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May 26, 2012, 2:18:33 PM5/26/12
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Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and Awards
Intermittent Picks and Pans, plus Awards of Dubious Merit

Standard Disclaimers: Please set appropriate followups. Recommendation does
not factor in price. Not all books will have arrived in your area this week.
An archive can be found on my homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants
Still waiting to hear back on the results of a job interview.

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Avengers
(movie), Atomic Robo FCBD 2012

In this installment: Avengers (movie), Rocketeer Adventures vol2 #1 (of
4), Atomic Robo FCBD 2012, Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures #2, Eldritch
#5 (of 6), Spider-Man Season 1 FCBD #1, DC New 52 FCBD #1, Green
Lantern/Young Justice/Superman Family Adventures FCBD, Valiant 2012 FCBD #1,
Top Shelf Kids Club FCBD 2012, Brody's Ghost Book 3, Beards, Voltron Force
Shelter from the Storm FCBD Edition, Image FCBD 2012, Avengers Earth's
Mightiest Heroes #2, Ultimate Spider-Man (TV) #1-2.


"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.

Avengers (Movie): Joss Whedon engages in a number of his usual stylistic
tics, including probably the only big minus of the movie (which may just be
mor of Fury lying for the greater good)...but otherwise it's as close to the
perfect "get the superhero team together" movie as one can get in this
imperfect world. Strongly recommended.


Digital Content:

Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so, I won't be turning
this into a webcomic review column. Rather, stuff in this section will be
full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay. I
will often be reading these things on my iPod if it's at all possible.

Rocketeer Adventures vol2 #1 (of 4): Dark Horse - "The Good Guys" by
Guggenheim and Plunkett is a solid, unexceptional story. Didn't really
thrill me, but I didn't feel like I wasted my time reading it, either. On
the other hand, Peter David gave in to his worst impulses in "The Ducketeer,"
pushing things past bending and into breaking...and who thought it'd be a
good idea to have Sienkiewicz draw a Daffy Duck parody? Bleh. I mean, I can
see where the idea might have been attractive as a proposal, but the results
were pretty bad. A lame duck, if you will. "A Dream of Flying" by Stan
Sakai did a pretty good job of taking a premise rife with overdone camp and
telling a solid story that resisted veering into excessive nod-and-wink. Art
Adams contribues a pin-up involving a T.rex, and does a good job of
presenting it in period style (rather than the modern-understanding designs
Adams is known for using a LOT). Recommended, mostly for the Sakai piece.
Currently down to $1.99 at Comixology.

Atomic Robo FCBD 2012: Red5 Comics - I didn't get my hands on the
hardcopy, so I don't know if the full version was another three-story
sampler, although I presume it was. I just got the Robo part, though. Robo
and Doctor Dinosaur team up to save the world from a runaway Large Hadron
Collider, which ends about as poorly as you might expect (well, world saved,
but...). I made the mistake of reading this while giving an exam, and it was
hard to avoid laughing out loud at times. Get this, make a ComiXology
account to do so if you have to, but get this. (They have a good online
reader if you don't have a smartphone or tablet.) Note, it's filed under the
Real Science Adventures series on ComiXology.

Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures #2: Red5 Comics - Looks like $1.99
week of release is a regular thing for this book, huzzah! The continuing
stories are okay, but I get the feeling I'll really need to sit down and read
the entire story in one sitting in both cases to really get them. They move
a little slowly for serials, especially since they only get four pages
apiece. The 8-page "Monster Hunters" is the cover story, with a rather
familiar-looking team of TeslaDyne operatives trying to capture the Yonkers
Devil. A bit of a shaggy cryptid story, and if you aren't up on your online
culture you might not get the main joke, but it seems to hold up decently as
foreshadowing for a more serious later story. "Atomic Robo vs. Rasputin" is
a 5-page story set in 1924, more wacky antics of the early days. It felt a
little too much like Clevinger was reworking an old "Jameson sics a
supervillain on Spider-Man" story, though (which he might have been doing on
purpose). Not Clevinger's strongest outing, but still good. Recommended.
$1.99 at ComiXology.

Eldritch #5 (of 6): Heartshapedskull.com - The penultimate chapter
involves all the weird powers coming out to play as Anya fights against the
cultists (maybe to save the world, but probably just because they piss her
off) and things get nasty. And then her brother stops waffling, and things
get nastier. And the father of the abomination hasn't even made the scene
yet.... Recommended. 99 cents (I got the PDF direct from the publisher
website, but it's available in a bunch of formats for the same price).

Spider-Man Season 1 FCBD #1: Marvel - Yes, another retelling of
Spider-Man's origin, updating it for modern times. A few things get shuffled
around, and in a full issue they only get as far as, "Hey, I'll become a
wrestler," but it does a decent job of setting the scene. Still, between
Ultimate Spider-Man (show) and this summer's movie, I expect to have more
than my fill of Yet Another Spider-Man Origin Story, so this doesn't tempt me
to pay for the next part.

DC New 52 FCBD #1: DC - This has one "complete" story setting up the
Trinity War event, and then a bunch of one to three page teasers for upcoming
second wave nu52 comics. None of the teasers tempt me, and there's no way
I'm getting wrapped up in a mega-event, but the premise of Pandora as
unjustly punished for a mistake and given immortality in which to suffer is
at least kinda interesting. Although it does make her into a sort of cosmic
Derpy ("I just don't know what went wrong...").

Green Lantern/Young Justice/Superman Family Adventures Flipbook FCBD #1:
DC - Given that it has two covers, I'm presuming it was a flipbook. The
media tie-in side has a short (and pretty bad) Green Lantern tale and what
appears to be the first few pages of Young Justice #16. The other side has a
short bit with Superman Family Adventures, which seems to be taking the
Silver Age Superman Family concepts and feeding them through Tiny Titans art
aesthetics (although less sketchy and crayonic). If the sample story is
typical of the writing in the GL show comic, I'm glad I didn't waste money on
the hardcopy of #1.

Valiant 2012 FCBD featuring X-O Manowar: Valiant - Yes, Valiant is back
again. This has short (6-8 page) previews of X-O Manowar #1 and Harbinger
#1, a pinup and a bunch of interviews. The X-O story shows that they intend
to go back to the old "barbarian in alien armor" version, but we don't
actually see the "good skin" yet...this is where the barbarians fight the
aliens and lose. And that's about it. Kinda a Legions of Bronze feel to
it. The Harbinger story focuses on Harada's youth...never really cared about
Harbinger, and this doesn't make me start.

Top Shelf Kids Club FCBD 2012: Top Shelf - The usual bunch of short
stories, led off by their flagship Owly. The moral of the Owly story seems
to be "don't set up your soccer field in a flood-prone area". Korgi's
contribution is...weird. My only exposure to Korgi is these FCBD
collections, but I don't recall there being robots. The ending is kinda hard
to follow, one of those cases where a wordless format can be a problem. The
Johnny Boo story was moderately amusing fluff. None of the new stories (Okie
Dokie Donuts, Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken, or Upside Down) interested me
at all. Yes, I know I'm not the target audience for anything in this book,
but it felt like the new ones were trying too hard to be "kiddie".



Trades:

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

Brody's Ghost Book 3: Dark Horse - The training phase, at least
thematically, comes to an end here. There's a few scenes that wrap it up,
and that might have fit better in Book 2, and then it's on to beginning the
investigation in earnest. Brody follows the well-worn path of breaking the
law to uphold what is right, impersonating a cop and even breaking into
Police HQ in his search for the identity of the Penny Killer. The book ends
on a "big shocker" which is more of a, "Well, yeah, that makes a lot more
sense than what we'd been told" thing. The art continues to be lovely, and
Crilley does some good stuff with making Brody's visions feel otherworldly.
Recommended. $6.99

Beards: Couscous Collective - Another oddball-sized themed trade from
the Couscous Collective, this time with the unlikely theme of beards. It
leads off with another Narbonic tale (that has pirates), and also has a short
piece from Jason Thompson, the Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath guy. It's
interesting to see how Dave Davenport has become a responsible businessman
and father now that he's over the initial rush of madness. Of course,
"responsible" is extremely relative, given his business (selling mad science
doomsday weapons to unstable people). The Lovecraft adaptation by Thompson
very effectively conveys how the greatest horrors need not be cosmic or
unnatural, merely the result of our own imagination run wild. And there's
not one, but two stories focused on Lincoln's beard (Farago's is okay, Lauren
Davis's runs way too long). Recommended. $12.00

Floppies:

If I actually pick up some monthly issues, they'll go here. Given my
reluctance to put money in Diamond's hands, though, these would likely only
be review copies or stuff found in oddball places. And no, I don't have any
particular disdain for the monthlies, but they *are* floppy, yes? And like
floppy disks they may be a doomed format.

Voltron Force Shelter from the Storm FCBD Edition: Viz - Basically the
first 27 pages of a pocket-sized GN. It's set in a fairly narrow range of
the Voltron Force cartoon, after the Haggarium-infection telepathy started
but before any of the cadets graduated to lion piloting. It's also
digest-sized, but that's true of a lot of Viz's output, it was probably
cheaper just to run it off from their digest printer. The art does feel a
little crowded at this size, though...it's standard Western comics layout and
panel-blocking. On the plus side, Chabot's art captures the characters
without trying to be a slavish imitation of the animation style, always a
danger when you're adapting a CG-heavy show in linework. If you really like
the new Voltron Force, you might want to pick up the GN. But since I mainly
watched the show because it was preferable to the other stuff in its time
slot and was the lead-in to Iron Man Armored Adventures, I won't be getting
the full story.

Image FCBD 2012: Image - An anthology of short pieces from a bunch of
titles. Absolutely none of them inspired me to pick up the books. Yes, I'm
something of a tough sell right now, but I do sometimes pick up something.

Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #2: Marvel - The lead story, by Yost
and Koi Pham, is pretty lampshady. As in, when the way to defeat the Wizard
is pointed out, it's pretty much saying, "No, superheroes really don't ever
think about the obvious solutions that every reader out there is screaming at
the page, do they?" The scripting is fun, though. The second story, by Yost
and Bachs, relies on another clever plot device that makes you want to scream
at the page...because it's just pretty dumb. As in, the plot device used on
the second to last page was shown on the page JUST BEFORE IT to not be that
much of an impediment. Now, the limited page count does mean things have to
move pretty briskly, but even a single speech bubble indicating it was
supposed to be just a momentary distraction would have helped. Mildly
recommended. $2.99

Ultimate Spider-Man #1: Marvel - A tie-in to the show, not the
long-running Ultimate universe thing. The lead story is credited simply to
Man of Action as writer, and it's...not very good. It leads in to the first
episode of the show, so we see how Spider-Man gets the cake he's trying to
bring home. It tries too hard to mimic the manic style of the cartoon's
narration, and it just doesn't translate well to the printed page. Dan Slott
writes the second story, involving a Peter Parker LMD (well, "Mandroid"), and
it's much better. Worth the price of admission on its own...a good thing,
since the rest of the book is kinda a waste of paper. There's also a few
Marvel Mash-Ups using Ditko pages, and they very accurately capture the feel
of the animated versions: they are truly awful. Recommended for the Slott
story, you might want to avoid looking at the rest. $2.99

Ultimate Spider-Man #2: Marvel - Neither writer on this issue was
familiar to me, but I decided to give the book a second issue to see if the
concept can carry a book in the absence of a Writer I'll Follow. And it's
another mixed issue. Eugene Son's "Notes from Underground" worked really
well. A few clunkers here and there when he tried too hard, but I'll have to
remember to keep an eye out for his name on other books. Jacob Semahn's
"Look Ma, No Webs!" is the downside of the issue (well, leaving aside the
bottom of the infinitely deep barrel that is Marvel Mash-Ups). Almost all
trying-too-hard clunkers, epitomizing what people DON'T like about the
Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. Mildly recommended. $2.99


Dave Van Domelen, "Are we there yet?" "In the history of mankind's
existence, has the answer to 'are we there yet' ever once been 'YES'?" -
Ultimate Spider-Man #2
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