Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) wrote,
Dave Van Domelen

                   Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and Awards
         The Week's 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 
  3m long tow straps + towed driver on cellphone = body work in near future

     Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Brody's Ghost
vol 1

"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.

     Iron Man 2 Comic Series Iron Monger: Hasbro - This is the version seen
in Iron Man #200, the blue armor with the shoulder antenna, rather than the
movie version.  And it's very nicely executed, with plenty of articulation
and good detail work.  It has no accessory, but the bigger toys rarely do.
About the only flaw (other than the fact it'll probably be scalper-bait) is
that the collar area isn't glued down properly so when you turn the head the
collar may turn.  Recommended.  $7-8 price point.  Oh, in case you were
wondering, the ironmancard.com site still redirects to marvel.com.

     Sometimes I get a comic a week or two late because of Diamond's
combination of neglect and incompetence.  If it's more than a week late,
though, I won't review it unless it's very notable.  Additionally, I will
often get tradepaperbacks long after publication or even sometimes before
Diamond ships them, and those will go here.  If I'm reasonably sure I'm
reviewing something that didn't ship this week, this is the section for it.

     Ben10 Alien Force Doom Dimension vol 2 (of 2): Del Rey - This one isn't
Diamond's fault, I never ordered it through them.  In fact, after the
disappointment that was vol 1, I didn't order this one at ALL, leaving it on
my mental "if I see it on the shelf, I might grab" it list.  Dan Hipp's art
is still a poor match (not that I really expected a lot of change, given that
this was probably all drawn in one shot), and while the story has a few good
bits here and there it really didn't grab me at any point.  The core conflict
was an ethical choice that was so far outside the realm of doubt (even
leaving aside the fact that this story fits somewhere before the end of Alien
Force, so we know he couldn't have chosen the "wrong" way) that it didn't
really generate any suspense.  Granted, it's hard to set up this sort of
thing when the reader knows how it has to end, but there's a big difference
between a choice you know for sure the character will make, and one where he
might actually lean towards the other side and only end up making the "right"
choice because circumstances force it, thus leaving him wondering if he
really would have made the right choice.  Anyway, there's not enough here to
recommend picking up the two volume story.  $7.99/$9.99Cn (digest sized, 80
pp of story)

     Brody's Ghost vol 1 (of 6): Dark Horse - Finally gave up on Diamond ever
shipping this volume and ordered it from deepdiscount.com.  While the Dark
Horse Myspace Presents stories bounced around in time, this opening volume is
strictly linear, starting with the day Brody met his first ghost (and ending
with the day he met his second).  Before I go into the story, though, I must
say I'd definitely buy a book that contained Crilley's worldbuilding notes,
all the sorts of deep backstory that can't come up in the actual tale
(because it'd be way too clunky) but informs the backgrounds.  Brody lives in
a sort of Blade Runner city, an indeterminate future in which many things are
still quite recognizable (20th Century vehicles still clatter along in the
poorer parts of town, people still read physical books, etc) while others
clearly mark this as being the future rather than an alternate present.
Brody himself lives so far down the social ladder that he rarely deals with
anything more fantastic than a weirdly-shaped car, and the city has been the
way it is long enough that he doesn't even have reason to think about how it
got that way.  As far as I can tell, it's an American or maybe Canadian city
which has seen a strong Japanese influx a few generations back.  Probably
west coast.  In addition to the Japanese signs all over (along with a lot in
Spanish), there's small Japanese cultural touches all over the place, despite
a clearly American core culture.  Granted, it's possible Crilley just mashed
together elements of the cities he's lived in and tossed in some cyberpunk
elements to make it stand out from the present-day Urban Fantasy stories, but
given how much time he put into the design sketching (which went up on his
deviantArt account over the course of several months), I'd guess the
worldbuilding was a little more in depth than that.

     As plots go, it's going to be pretty familiar to most readers of
escapist fiction.  Guy is at his low point, just a schlub with no prospects
who's let his life got into the toilet after a bad breakup.  And then he's
approached by a ghost who claims he's special and who needs his help to get
into heaven.  Cue the Hero's Journey, complete with denial, nearly getting
killed, and meeting the one who will train him to use his Special Powers.
Even if there's some twists along the way (and I think I can see where one of
the twists is coming up...the only question is whether the character in
question is deliberately misleading Brody or if they're also in the dark
about this).  But this is one of those cases where even a fairly standard
story is made well worth the read because of the art.  Crilley modified his
style yet again (claiming in the endnotes to have done a lot of referencing
from Death Note this time) to fit the urban decay of the new setting, just as
he changed his style to fit the rural and wilderness scenes that dominated
Miki Falls.  And for the most part, he resists the temptation to load the
backgrounds down with easter eggs (which, while fun, tend to kill any chance
of a serious mood), instead just giving them the sorts of details that make
them feel real.  (Okay, the boxes of Miki Falls on page 45 and the "Jill
T. Rox!" graffiti on page 73 are easter eggs, but they stand out for their

     While it's too early to say if the story is something special, this is
one of those rare cases where the art alone makes it worth the price of
admission.  And the story's pretty good so far, too.  Strongly recommended.
$6.99 (digest-sized, 89 pages of story plus several pages of design sketches
and notes)

New Comics:
     Comics and comic collections that I got this week and were actually
supposed to be out this week, as far as I can tell.  These reviews will
generally be spoiler-free, but the occasional bit will slip in.

     Transformers Drift #2 (of 4): IDW - At last, the truth is revealed!  Hot
Shot failed to become a major player in the neo-G1 continuity because his
head was blown off in one of Drift's flashback sequences millions of years
ago!  ;)  Anyway, while it's not obvious because of the similar designs of
all the Milnebots, Drift himself is not actually on the cover.  In fact, most
of the characters on the cover are never named in this issue...we only get
Wing, Axe and (not on the cover) Dai Atlas.  Unless, of course, the guy with
two swords on the cover is supposed to be Drift but the design changed
between the cover art and the interior.  He's a lot like Wing, so maybe he's
Waver as long as they're mining late-G1 Japanese characters.  Inside, at
least, you can tell Drift and Wing apart easily enough by eye color (Drift's
eyes are blue, Wing's are yellow), which is pretty important given how much
of the issue is dialogue between the two.  Story-wise, there's a lot of
flashbacks in what's already a flashback series, establishing the reasons
Drift had for joining the Decepticons and why he still doesn't get along with
Autobots even after leaving the 'Cons.  McCarthy's inconsistent approach to
introducing characters continues to synergize badly with Milne's tendency to
reuse certain design elements, making it hard to tell who a lot of the
characters are.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

     Dynamo5 Sins of the Father #4 (of 5): Image - Still no #3, whee.
Goodness, things got crowded in the issue I missed.  At least some of the
characters showed up at the very end, so they introduce themselves here, but
the recap paragraph is a bit inadequate (Savage Dragon has kids?  And
electrical powers of some kind?  Or is the lightning Savage Dragon actually
one of the kids?  Clearly some rapid aging or time travel is involved here,
even if Dragon's been on a "one year real time equals one year story time"
slider, the kids are too old).  The fight scene expands, Menagerie pulls a
Broadside, and the trio of alien warriors seems no closer to defeat than they
were at the end of #2.  The Notorious backup is even less interesting than it
was previously, plus the pacing feels like the story is just going through
the motions.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

     Legion of Super-Heroes v6 #5: DC - Most of the issue involves Earth
Force making its big move on the Titanian refugee camp, giving Earth Man a
chance to show whether he's really changed his stripes.  There's some
subtleties to the layout of the cover that become clearer once you've read
the issue regarding who's looking at Earth Man and what their expressions
are.  :)  The Green Lantern subplot continues, and you'd think Dyogene would
know enough to not offer a ring to someone from the Time Institute...after
Rond, it's not like any of them would be blind enough to accept Dyogene's
lantern.  Oh, and the Durlan extremists plot gets a couple of pages, to the
detriment of a long-time supporting cast member.  Recommended.  $3.99

     Avengers Academy #4: Marvel - Final part of the "Scared Straight"
crossover with the Thunderbolts (who have moved on to a different crossover
already, unsentimental crooks that they are).  This issue we get a focus on
Mettle, although Hazmat probably gets the best line of the issue.  As for the
plot, it's a pretty standard "tempted by the dark side" deal, but it's not
unreasonable for such callow youths to be taken in by a smooth lie (or a
dangerous truth).  Recommended.  $2.99

Gone Missing:

     Stuff that came out some places this week and that I wanted to buy, but
couldn't find for whatever reason, so people don't have to email me asking
"Why didn't you review X?"  (If it's neither here nor in the section above,
though, feel free to ask, I might have forgotten about it!) 

     Current list as of 9/22/10: Invincible #72, Tom Strong and the Robots of
Doom #3, Transformers Ironhide #4, Gorilla Man #2, Welcome to Tranquility One
Foot In The Grave #2, Atlas #1 (store only got one copy) and Official
Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update #3 (which I probably won't bother
reviewing if it ever comes in), Guarding the Globe #1, Astro City Silver
Agent #2, Dynamo5 Sins of the Father #3 (although that was only on Midtown's
list, not Diamond's) and Science Dog #1 (ditto), X-Factor #209 (my store
got only one copy, and someone else with it on his pull got to the store
before I did), Women of Gold Digger #1 and Gold Digger Books of Magic #2.


"The Head Isn't Removable, So It's Not Comic-Accurate" Award to Iron Man 2
     Comic Series Iron Monger action figure

"Well, No One Really Expects A Bounty Hunter To Be Good At Empathy" Award to
     Ben 10 Alien Force Doom Dimension vol 2 (of 2)

"You Know It's America Because Of The Deep-Fried Cheeseburgers" Award to
     Brody's Ghost vol 1 (of 6)

"Don't Blow A Gasket" Award to Transformers Drift #2 (of 4)

"The Focused Totality Of His Shoulder Chip" Award to Dynamo5 Sins of the 
     Father #4 (of 5)

"It's Mallor Time" Award to Legion of Super-Heroes v6 #5

"Even Knowing He's The Devil Doesn't Stop You From Making A Deal" Award to
     Avengers Academy #4

   Dave Van Domelen, "Get back in your cell. Or I'll give you CANCER." (pause) "Okay, okay. Jeez. Used to be they just smacked you in the mouth..." - Hazmat and Grizzly, Avengers Academy #4
Tags: comics, legion of super-heroes, transformers
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