Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) wrote,
Dave Van Domelen

Comics for February 16, 2011

                   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 
    Today's high was 65F higher than last Wednesday's high temperature.

     Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): None.  A lot
of good, but no great.

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 2/16/11: Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #8, Chaos War
Dead Avengers #1, Shadowland Power Man #4, Transformers Timelines G2 Redux,
Gold Digger v3 #123, Widowmaker #3, Time Lincoln Apocalypse Mao, Invincible
#77, Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #11, Widowmaker #4, Gold Digger #125 and
Atomic Robo Deadly Art of Science #3. 

"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.

     Transformers Crossovers Ghost Rider: Hasbro - This is the only new mold
in its wave, with the cosells on the package being the race car Iron Man, a
black redeco of the race car Spider-Man, and a red and black singlepack
redeco of the Spider-Man helicopter.  "This battle suit was built
specifically to take advantage of the magical energies that give GHOST RIDER
his powers.  It is the perfect fusion of technology and sorcery, enhancing
the arcane flame that GHOST RIDER uses as a weapon."  Yeah, that had to be a
project that Tony Stark was eager to take on.
     There's not too terribly much robot stuff visible in vehicle mode,
although the head doesn't really hide all that well behind the windshield and
the chain weapon's storage is kinda awkward.  Transformation is fairly
straightforward (the instructions neglect to mention stowing the handlegrips,
although the final step does have them in the correct place).  Well-
proportioned mech mode, although the big flaming boots do look a little off.
The ratcheting hip joints make it hard to stand the figure outside of two or
three poses, though.  And the neck just doesn't want to lock into a stable
position, giving the mech a very floppy head.
     If this could be found in stores for $15, I'd probably suggest picking
it up.  At the least it's a motorcycle transformation not used much before,
and it looks pretty good in both modes.  But given that inflation has hit the
Crossovers line pretty hard (stores aren't inclined to make them loss-leaders
like main-line Transformers), it's questionable whether it's worth the $20
you'd probably have to pay.  At $18.33 with free shipping from Amazon (it was
part of a larger order), I found it to be marginal.  Mildly recommended.

     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.

     The Amazing Spider-Man #654: Marvel - JJ Jameson hates Spider-Man.  It's
one of those things like the existence of Aunt May or Peter's rotten luck in
his personal life that is considered an iconic part of the Spider-Man
mythos.  As a result, while JJ can soften his attitude towards Spidey once in
a while, he'll always go back to the hate (just like Aunt May always survives
somehow, Peter's love life always ends up in the crapper eventually, there's
always someone close to Peter dressed up in a goblin mask, etc).  That's what
makes this issue somewhat...dangerous.  The goal is clearly to give Jameson a
reason to stop drinking the Haterade, and it's certainly plausible that this
is what will happen...for a while.  But the sacrifice that Slott made in
order to pull this off involves a character who *isn't* part of the iconic
Spider-Man story, so their return is hardly guaranteed despite being a part
of Jameson's life for decades.  So, in a year or three years or whenever
Editorial decides that a Jameson who doesn't hate Spidey would be too
confusing to the licensing people, we'll be back to THREAT OR MENACE and
still be out a supporting character.  In the sort term, it's a good story and
a plausible way to change Jameson's personality.  In the backup, the new
Venom they've been advertising in all the house ads lately gets his origin,
going in the direction I had initially thought American Son would (before I
knew the arc name and it became obvious it'd involve Harry).  Recommended
with caveats, $3.99.

     Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #4: Marvel - They break format this
time and have one full-length story.  However, Wegener and Scherberger still
split the art chores, through the device of Wasp trying to take a group
photograph.  So Scherberger's contribution is in the form of splash pages
that represent Wasp's photos...taken during battle.  Failed Wisdom check,
there, Wasp.  While this still can't be as "big" of a story due to being
between the scenes of the cartoon, Yost manages to give it a good sense of
importance on both large and small scales.  Recommended.  $3.99.

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 Justice #1: DC - I didn't actually order this one, but I had to
get two books this week at Hastings and they were running a "buy 2 get one
free" sale so I grabbed this as my freebie.  This issue starts four minutes
after the end of the #0 issue (which I didn't buy, but have seen a scan of,
hence being able to compare the timestamps) with the introduction of Miss
Martian as seen in the final scene of the pilot episode.  I'll say this for
them, despite having multiple writers involved (#1 was written by Art
Baltazar, #0 by Kevin Hopps) they're being pretty careful about continuity
and fitting between the episodes.  So, of course, it looks like we've got a
timeshifting story once the "moving in and angsting" is done with.
Basically, either Superboy has come unstuck in time, or he is being seriously
jerked around by the League as a test of some sort.  :)  It's okay, but I'm
not going to try adding it to my pull...if I see it on the shelf again, I may
pick it up next month.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99

     Booster Gold #41: DC - Yeah, they're pretty much ignoring the fact
Booster was already tried and sentenced to death in his own era (the only
reason his sister was even in the present day is that she helped bust him out
of jail before he could be executed and had to flee with him to the 20C).  It
would have been simple enough to have Rip bring that point up, but I guess
that whole arc simply got retconned away either intentionally or via
sloppiness.  The problem with "let's finally resolve that element of his
origin" stories is that sometimes a writer decides he wants to re-resolve
something that was resolved a generation ago, so needs to ignore the past in
order to mine the past.  Aside from that core problem it's a pretty good
story, but the problem is a big one.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99

     Legion of Super-Heroes #10: DC - Apparently Brainy solved the whole
Durlan assassin thing several issues ago, but decided it wasn't worth wasting
his time trying to convince anyone of what was going on until now (when, as
acting leader thanks to Mon-El being out of town, he didn't have to convince
everyone, just tell them where to be).  It had the feeling of a caper story
coming together, with all the oddball actions making sense in retrospect.
Mostly, anyway.  Some of them you're still stuck with the "Brainy is a jerk"
explanation for now.  Recommended.  $2.99

     Hawkeye Blind Spot #1 (of 4): Marvel - Still no Widowmaker #3 or #4,
hopefully McCann isn't assuming I read those.  :) Fortunately, the only
important thing that happened is recapped sufficiently, and it sets up the
main conflict...the fallout of being essentially a normal guy who gets beat
on by superhumans for a career.  Superscience can only do so much, and McCann
manages to set up a threat that can be taken seriously.  Oh, by the end of
the issue Hawkeye's got a stopgap in place and a reasonable expectation that
the underlying problem can be fixed.  In a way, that particular conflict is
resolved as soon as he swallows his stupid pride.  But someone with a mad-on
for Hawkeye has figured out he has a problem and is determined to take
advantage of it, hence this being a four issue story and not a one-shot.  (As
an aside, the Big Reveal of the someone in question is...dubious.  I suspect
it's someone else entirely, just taking advantage of another's identity and
costume.)  As an aside, absolutely nothing regarding Bobbi's role in
Widowmaker is mentioned here, so I guess I'll still need to find those
issues.  Recommended.  $2.99

     Spider-Girl #4: Marvel - Matt Southworth "with" Paul Azateca takes over
the art, and it looks like Southworth maybe did breakdowns and that's about
it.  Ana Kravinoff looks to have picked up abouf four years in age, although
I'm not sure if that was editorial mandate (i.e. they decided Ana was just
too creepy drawn looking like a 13-year-old) or simply that Southworth is
ignoring her previous appearances.  As for Tobin's writing, he does saddle
Anya with a "hide the secret ID" cliche, but so far it's not too onerous.
And he does a decent job of playing up contrasts between Spider-Girl and
Spider-Man even while remolding her into more of a copy of young Peter circa
the "rooming with Harry" years.  Azateca's finishing is pretty ugly in
places, and that's going to turn a lot of people off, but it's worth putting
up with.  Recommended.  $2.99

     The Amazing Spider-Man #654.1: Marvel - Diamond didn't ship any of these
to my shop, and I was the fifth person in twenty minutes to ask about it.
Hastings got two copies.  Anyway, Peter Parker appears in a couple of panels,
this issue is all about the new Venom and his first serious mission.
Naturally, given that the cover shows him in Slobber Mode, it doesn't exactly
go to plan.  Humberto Ramos does the art, and I got the impression that he
was just biding his time waiting until he could do Slobber Mode.  :)  Oh, and
there's a two page spread at the end teasing some coming developments, I
thought it could have used a Little Nemo ending.  Recommended.  $2.99

     Thunderbolts #153: Marvel - Those other four people also asked about
Thunderbolts, which wasn't shipped to my shop either.  Hastings only got one
copy, which I snagged.  There's some kaiju action here, but mostly it's
Hyperion versus everyone else.  And Juggernaut gets to repeatedly demonstrate
that he's a child of the 70s (Muhammad Ali and Jim Croce references).
Recommended.  $2.99

     Avengers Academy #9: Marvel - And we're back to Finesse as the focal
character, although there's a strong B-plot about whether to actually kick
the offending kids from #8 out of the academy.  And while it's not presented
with the emotional kick of the Taskmaster miniseries, Gage does acknowledge
that bit of character development and give Finesse a view of where she could
be headed.  Even if she never develops an actual ethos, bloody-minded
pragmatism could cause her to use Taskmaster as a "what not to do" example
and at least emulate heroism.  Recommended.  $2.99


"Hell's Bobble-Head" Award to Marvel Transformers Ghost Rider

"Photo (O)Op(s)" Award to Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #4

"Beaten Senseless" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #654

"Superboy's Not Ready To Come Out Of His Closet" Award to Young Justice #1

"For Once, Can't We Just Jump Ahead To Time Served And NOT Have A Prison
     Riot Plot?" Award to Booster Gold #41

"When You're A Coluan, You Don't Have To Think Five Moves Ahead, But You 
     Can't Help It" Award to Legion of Super-Heroes #10

"Hardly Any Dain Bramage At All" Award to Hawkeye Blindspot #1 (of 4)

"Something Like 95% Of Spider-Girl Fanfics Probably Start Like The Last
     Page, But Don't End Like Next Issue" Award to Spider-Girl #4

"Oh, It's Not Like He's The Original Anyway" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man

"Ghost Wins" Award to Thunderbolts #153

"Someone Might Be Getting A Call From Mercedes" Award to Avengers Academy #9

   Dave Van Domelen, "You -- you're a monster. A cannibal!" "PTUH! What? Doesn't count. We didn't ssswallow." - Yusef Kassim and Venom, the Amazing Spider-Man #654.1
Tags: comics
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