Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) wrote,
Dave Van Domelen

Comics for November 3, 2010

                   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 
     Diamond missed several and it's STILL a heavy week, whoogh.

     Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Serenity the
Shepherd's Tale

"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.

     Machete B'Wana Beast: Mattel - I've largely avoided the Brave and the
Bold toys because they insist on sticking with the big hexagonal peg and hole
system ("Snap Attack") that makes pretty much every figure look like they
were mugged by someone with a giant allen wrench.  On the more techy
characters it almost works, but on a guy in a loincloth and a mask?  Not too
attractice.  Still, it's not like we're drowning in B'Wana Beast action
figures, and he did have a pretty good turn in the Starro story.  Other than
the allen wrench wounds, it's an accurate representation of the cartoon's
version, including the one fang sticking out.  Standard articulation for the
line (neck, waist, swivel shoulders, hinge elbows, H-hips, no knees).
     Despite the "Machete" in his name, he comes with a spear-like weapon
that secures nicely to his back using the peg there.  At least they didn't
try to give him a horribly inappropriate accessory just to pad out the
package.  On the more disturbing side, his chest is molded smooth but his
nipples are drawn on as brown open ovals like sideways O's (i.e. not filled
in).  That may be show-accurate, but it's still weird.  $6.97 at Walmart.

     Iron Man 2 Comic Series Silver Centurion (#34): Hasbro - This is
actually a pretty good representation of the armor that debuted in Iron Man
#200, if a little hurt by the "waist at the sternum" style of articulation
the whole line uses.  However, I had to go through five of them to find one
that was free of obvious defects.  Most had paint errors on the unibeam, and
one was missing a shoulderpad.  Interestingly, the back has the docking port
for the old 6" Silver Centurion's rocket booster, shrunk down (I happen to
have that one hanging from a lamp playing a guitar, because Iron Man is F'in
Metal).  Scanned and shrank, or maybe that older mold was done in computer in
the first place.  Worth picking up.  $5 on sale at Walmart.

     Iron Man 2 Comic Series Arctic Armor (#33): Hasbro - This one looks to
be a Mark IV armor with a head swap and done in purple and silver, maybe a
few other minor changes.  The head looks good and I like the way the purple
works, so I bought it.  Unfortunately, it's not a very good mold, especially
next to the Silver Centurion.  The hips are a much earlier version and don't
work so well, the shoulderpads pop off (I've already lost one!), and there's
loads of frozen joints.  At least one of those joints on mine was totally
floppy once I broke the paint lock.  Pass on this one unless you just buy 'em
to leave in the package.  $5 on sale at Walmart.

     Also in the assortment with the above two Iron Man figures was "Advanced
Armor," which is the Heroes Reborn suit with the smokestacks.  I passed on
it.   Still trying to find the single-pack drones.

     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.

     Transformers Sector 7 #2 (of 5): IDW - Skip ahead to 1913, about a
decade before the term "robot" came to be applied to mechanical men.  This is
an important point.  :)  It's another short snapshot (not exactly a Day In
The Life, but close), of the day the AllSpark was first excavated and its
powers revealed.  A failing marriage is actually the main plot of the issue,
wrapped around the inevitable fight scene.  It's like Barber can't quite
decide what comic to write, though, as neither the relationship story nor the
cosmic plot get quite enough time to blossom.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

     The Amazing Spider-Man #646: Marvel - The running chase wraps up as the
last few villains come together in the endgame.  The villains on the cover
don't really enter into it, though.  It's a good demonstration of why
Spider-Man manages to survive despite his large rogue's gallery...not only
are they difficult for even a genius like Doc Ock to wrangle, Spidey's pretty
good at setting them against each other.  Recommended.  $2.99

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.

     Young Allies #6: Marvel - FINAL ISSUE.  Oops.  And they hadn't even
actually become a team as of #5.  The farewell message at the end makes it
clear that a team was never the intent, but I don't think that message got
through in the actual stories...which might have been part of why it never
took off.  Of course, "non-team" team books have always had trouble,
especially when they lack Big Names (i.e. the Defenders once the original
quartet was gone).  This issue mostly focuses on Firestar, using her own
conflicted life as a way to at least emotionally wrap up the title, even if
dramatically it sort of fizzled out.  Recommended.  $2.99

     Taskmaster #3 (of 4): Marvel - One of the intrinsic problems with
Mysterious Origins is that once you start messing with false/missing memories
and deep cover stories, it's hard to stop.  Just look at Wolverine.
Taskmaster's original origin, at least, was perfectly acceptable, if a little
dull.  Now, though, he's been dropped down the Logan rabbithole, with Nick
Fury of all people explaining his True Secret Origin...never a hallmark of
trustworthy backstories.  Still, it makes for an interesting bit of grist for
future stories, until such time as the next writer decides to re-retcon it.
And even if this origin is fake, some of the emotional entanglements could
easily have transcended their cover story basis.  Recommended.  $3.99  

     Chaos War #3 (of 4): Marvel - #1 was reprinted this week, and Diamond
didn't send the reprint to my store either.  This is the inevitable, "Well,
that didn't go as planned" part of the cosmic thingy, in which the best
efforts of the good guys come to naught or worse than naught.  And then pause
for a bazillion tie-in one-shots.  :)  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

     Amazing Spider-Man #647: Marvel - Another collage of villains not
appearing in this issue.  Kinda a bland cover for what's the final issue of
the Thrice Monthly "Brand New Day" uberarc.  Pretty much every one of the
writers gets involved as they bookend the hundred issues, with a few
callbacks (Overdrive, Jackpot, that one girl who was trying to get to Harry
through Peter) and some long-term payoffs.  It's not all endings, though,
with Bob Gale contributing a story of Mayor Jameson's latest attempt to abuse
his power to torment Spider-Man, or Guggenheim's Flash Thompson story.
Still, the bookend-y feeling is intentional and hammered home pretty
strongly.  All told, I've found it a worthwhile hundred or so issues, even if
it did come out of the ashes of one of the stupidest ideas to come out of
Marvel in a long time.  Recommended.  $4.99

     Avengers Academy #6: Marvel - Reptil spotlight.  And dude, Hank Pym uses
Technic gears in his lab.  There's only a few hints at the origins of
Reptil's powers, but they're verrrry interesting hints.  And Finesse
continues to be the prime threat the team faces, even if her path doesn't end
up in villainy directly.  Also, ill-advised matchmaking fun.  Heh.
Recommended.  $2.99

     Hawkeye & Mockingbird #6: Marvel - FINAL ISSUE.  Story claims to be
continued in Widowmaker, but more likely it'll just be concluded.  The main
theme of this issue is "I love you, but we're totally wrong for each other,"
although a number of other threads (such as Dominic Fortune's) get tugged
here too.  Hawkeye and Mockingbird are both exceedingly competent people,
each a hero in their own way, and deeply in love...but being together forces
one or the other to compromise too much.  That nagging voice that says
they're Doing It Wrong in order to keep the other happy.  As pointed out over
in Avengers Academy, Hawkeye deep down is a Big Damn Hero who only ever went
the villain route to get attention.  While Bobbi is a spook, a person willing
to become a monster in order to stop the bigger monsters, a hero only
incidentally.  Neither can be totally true to themselves while trying to let
the other do the same, making them star-crossed lovers in the deepest sense.
Recommended  $2.99

     Iron Man Legacy #8: Marvel - To me, "Tony Stark is trapped in that
equipment shed" translates to "run away very fast," but some villains never
learn.  But beyond blowing stuff up real good, this story continues to show
what Tony Stark is at his core.  Like Mockingbird, he's more a hero as a side
effect of his true nature.  And what Tony Stark is, is someone who fixes
problems.  Whether that means hitting the problem repeatedly until it lies
down, or inventing an inexpensive gadget that can help people like the
homeless man he befriended in #6 while also reinvigorating the entire
neighborhood via manufacturing it, Tony Stark finds things that need fixing
and invents something to fix them.  Even if he has trouble fixing himself
along the way.  Recommended.  $2.99

     Adventure Comics #520: DC - I've never read the original stories that
led up to the death of Lightning Lad, but I imagine that the "fleshing out"
pieces in Adventure recently outweigh the original story by a factor of two
or three in terms of pagecount, even considering that the main action is left
almost entirely off-screen (with JUST enough flashbacks to make it
comprehensible to hypothetical-if-unproven "new readers").  And, of course,
we get to see more of Brainy being schemey.  The Arom backup is finally a bit
more interesting, although it does so by playing Ray Palmer as more like
Chris Yost's version of Hank Pym.  :)  Recommended.  $3.99

     Secret Six #27: DC - More skullduggery in Washington and skull-diggery
in Skartaris.  Ragdoll and King Shark make for the darkest comedy team EVER.
And Bane gets to ride a dinosaur while wearing Frazetta stuff, so even if the
plot's a bit thin in places, it's worthwhile.  If, um, you're okay with
images of eyeballs being pulled out and stuff like that.  Recommended with
the gore caveat.  $2.99 

     Invincible #75: Image - Oversized Big Damned Space Battles issue!  54
pages of story (36 in the main story, then two backups), although there's a
lot of two-page splashes in there.  Oh, and it's not even over yet, although
there's plenty of Big Screen Boom.  Even the backups have a lot of boom,
although it's hard to top the opening act.  Recommended.  $5.99

     PS238 #47: Do Gooder Press - Nobody's home.  Well, okay, a few are still
on the right planet, but most of the plot takes place either in deep space or
in an alternate reality.  More of the background stuff revealed in the RPG is
coming out in story form, regarding both Zodon and the Praetorian Academy
(but not both at the same time).  Recommended.  $2.99

     Serenity the Shepherd's Tale: Dark Horse - So.  52 pages, hardcover for
fifteen bucks.  And it ended up allocated by Diamond anyway.  Dark Horse
knows they've got their target audience by the short'n'squirrleys here.
Promises of the last big mystery of Firefly being answered drove sales to the
point I'm honestly worried before opening it that it's a disappointment, they
KNEW it would be a disappointment, and wanted to grab all the profit they
could (seriously, the producer cost on a hardcover isn't a LOT more than on a
good squarebound softcover) before word got out.  Normally, I put books very
roughly in the order of expected ascending enjoyment, but I decided to put
this one last so I'd go into it with as positive a frame of mind as possible,
to avoid being prejudiced by the ominous elements of the physical package.
Of course, if you happened to glance at the "Books of Note" at the top,
you'll already know that my worries were not borne out (I should also cop to
writing the sentences before this one before I read the book, so I wasn't
just being melodramatic for effect...I was honestly worried).  The story is
told backwards, as Book flashes back to important moments in his life, both
big and small.  Along the way, we get part of the history of the rebellion,
since as many fans suspected, Book was in it up to his ears in a number of
interesting ways.  Good storytelling in general, so Recommended even if
you're not a Firefly fan (although it's a bit pricey for a non-fan) and
Strongly Recommended if you are.  $14.99

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 11/3/10: Invincible #72, Tom Strong and the Robots
of Doom #3, Transformers Ironhide #4, Gorilla Man #2, Atlas #4, 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 #1-2, Dynamo5 Sins of the
Father #3, Science Dog #1, Women of Gold Digger #1 and Gold Digger Books of
Magic #2, Chaos War #1, Taskmaster #2, Transformers Drift #4.  Add Tron Movie
Adaptation #1, Official Index to the Marvel Universe v2 #7, Tom Strong and
the Robots of Doom #6 (if this doesn't come in next week, I'm cancelling my
orders for it and #3).


"Scary Nipple Man" Award to Machete B'Wana Beast

"Iron Man Is F'in Plastic?" Award to Iron Man 2 action figures

"Hoover?  I 'Ardly KNOW 'Er!" Award to Transformers Sector 7 #2 (of 5)

"Post-Partum Obsession" Award to the Amazing Spider-Man #646

"That'sh PSYCHIC, Kei Dear" Award to Young Allies #6

"Actually, At One Point His Official Rank Was Equivalent To A One-Star
     General" Award to Taskmaster #3 (of 4)

"Galactus Called Dibs On Who Lives And Who Dies" Award to Chaos War #3 (of 4)

"I Wonder If Mary Jane Suggested Carlie's Costume?" Award to the Amazing 
     Spider-Man #647

"No, No, He Literally Wants To Eat Her" Award to Secret Six #27

"In Space, No One Can Hear You...EWWWWW!" Award to Invincible #75

"For the Smoot-Hawley Tariff!" Award to PS238 #47

"And In Every Age, Scary Hair" Award to Serenity the Shepherd's Tale

   Dave Van Domelen, (Ragdoll pulls out King Shark's eyeball and points it at himself) "Can you SEE me in there?" "No, I CAN'T you freak! How'm I gonna watch Avatar now?" - Ragdoll and King Shark, Secret Six #27
Tags: comics, firefly
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