Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) wrote,
Dave Van Domelen

Comics for May 18, 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 
   A somewhat half-hearted Transformers movie toy street date this year.

     Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Rocketeer
Hundred Penny Press Edition (only "recommended" but worth checking out).

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 5/18/11: Shadowland Power Man #4, Transformers
Timelines G2 Redux, Gold Digger #127, Transformers Dark of the Moon Rising
Storm #3-4, X-Factor #218, Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #2, Transformers
Foundation #3, Time Lincoln Jack to the Future.  Add Science Dog Special #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.

     Nothing this week.  I got Thor: Tales of Asgard this week, but haven't
watched it yet.

     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.

     Nothing this week.

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 Dark of the Moon Foundation #4 (of 4): IDW - On the one
hand, missing #3 means I could very well have missed some critical piece of
the plot.  On the other, I get the feeling that there's not much "there"
there.  #1-2's flashbacks set up how things weren't like as described in the
previous prequel comics and in-movie flashbacks, and now this issue is about
breaking all of those toys, killing off or removing all the characters we
hadn't seen before, etc.  Barber's writing and Griffith's art are both
serviceable, but not otherwise very good.  Very mildly recommended.  $3.99

     The Transformers #19: IDW - Well, I guess Rodimus wasn't quite so jobbed
as it looked in #13, and he lands in what feels like a Transformers UK
setting with a tie-in to some of the old Spotlights.  Costa's definitely
trying to emulate the UK stuff here, that's for sure.  He does a good job of
it, at least, and this makes for a welcome break from the "Megatron is so
uber you can't do more than amuse him with your struggles" plotline.
Recommended.  $3.99

     The Rocketeer Hundred Penny Press Edition: IDW - This reprints the
original Starslayer backup stories, but with all new coloring (in part
because simply printing those 1981 stories on modern paper would look like
crap).  I will say, that back when I was trying to assemble the complete run
of Starslayer, those three issues were the most expensive and hardest to come
by.  :)  The storytelling moves at a brisk pace, inspired by Saturday
afternoon serials and relatively shallow in terms of sketching out
characterization and motivations.  It's definitely worth seeking this out to
see if you like Stevens's style, especially for only a buck.  Recommended.

     Rocketeer Adventures #1: IDW - What's weird about the Rocketeer is that
the original source material is so thin.  There's the story collected above,
and three regular issues (which I never did read).  That is IT.  One might
argue that the live action movie (which I liked, but tastes vary) added more
to the Rocketeer's story than the original comics.  Yet, to look at the
fandom, you'd think there were hundreds of obscure, hard to find indie comics
out there that only an elect few had read.  Non-Stevens stories done by pros
who are fans of Rocketeer both outweigh Stevens's own work and hint at such a
"secret canon", a fanon of sorts that I suspect is circulated at cons and was
in the old APAs.  Now, as much as I like the look and concept (heck, my first
City of Heroes character is a female Rocketeer pastiche), I never did get
into that fanon, and I think that hurt my appreciation of this comic that I'm
theoretically reviewing right now.  :)  John Cassaday's got the first short
story in this collection, which should surprise absolutely no one...the very
first time I saw his art it was all about the "jodphurs and pistols"
aesthetic that the Rocketeer trades on.  It's written as the final part of a
serial, but cleanly and simply and anyone who's read the 100 Penny Press
edition should be able to follow and enjoy it.  Not so much Mike Allred's
second story, which left me baffled.  I suspect it's meant to be an epilogue
to the three canonical issues, but it fails to stand alone.  Busiek and
Kaluta push the fanon side HARD in a piece from Betty's point of view, as she
gets letters from Cliff during WWII and reads between the lines to
Rocketeer's wartime adventures (which are well past the canonical era).  But
because Busiek is deliberately writing from the POV of someone with limited
information, it works well for someone who doesn't know the hidden histories,
and made for a good ending to the issue.  So, two out of three ain't bad.
Recommended.  $3.99

     Booster Gold #44: DC - Okay, so Flashpoint is House of M all over again,
every book ends up in an alternate timeline for a few issues, whee.  I don't
care how it got started, I don't care what the new timeline is about, and I
only barely care enough to keep reading Booster Gold through it (he still
remembers the old timeline).  And to be honest, the news I'm hearing about DC
restarting all its books once Flashpoint is over is a good excuse for me to
drop pretty much everything...might keep the Legion books, might not.  Not,
mind you, that I read a lot of DC books anymore, they keep cancelling the
ones I like.  Now, if this were an isolated thing, just an arc within Booster
Gold where he timeslips and has to figure things out, I'd be interested in
following along.  But it's a Big F***ing Event and I don't really think there
will be much of an explanation forthcoming unless I buy the Event
Miniseries.  Yes, I'm annoyed...nothing ruins a good idea like forcing it
upon the entire line.  $2.99

     Legion of Super-Heroes #13: DC - Mostly fight scenes on Colu, a few
short bits on other worlds.  The whole Blue Flame thing is still in the early
stage, so Levitz is throwing out threads without gathering many in yet.
Unfortunately, he seems to have gotten into the idea of writing for the
trade, and this is definitely that sort of issue.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99 

     Hawkeye Blindspot #4 (of 4): Marvel - Well, the ending is a touch
contrived and convenient, but McCann does do a decent job of putting his toys
back in the box when he's done.  The level of flashbackitis is fairly low
this time, as one might expect from the final part, but flashbacks are still
there.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99

     X-Factor #219: Marvel - Well, still missing #218, but between the What
Has Gone Before box and elements within the text, it's not too hard to figure
out what happened, and what it bodes for Guido.  Also, this issue, we get the
shocking secret origin of JJJ's hair!  Recommended.  $2.99

     Captain America First Vengeance #2 (of 4): Marvel - As the fight scene
against Hydra continues, we get a bunch more flashbacks.  This time it's the
origins of the Red Skull, at least as far as 1935.  I suspect #3 will finish
off Cap's origin and #4 will finish Red Skull's.  The parade of artists is a
little distracting, but Van Lente does a good job of making short snapshot
scenes do the job of fleshing out a lifetime.  Recommended.  $2.99

     Thunderbolts #157: Marvel - Okay, gothy German ghost kaiser is nicely
spooky, but his main attack a bit cliched.  The B-plot with the new team
feels a bit rushed, and then the final scene just sort of pops up out of
nowhere as if Parker felt he had to rush to get it over with before Fear
Itself impinged on the book.  Given that there's a Raft breakout in Fear
Itself (something I know from reading Herc #3), T-bolts can't really sit this
one out.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99

     Herc #3: Marvel - On the other hand, Pak and Van Lente do a pretty good
job working with the Fear Itself event here, probably because they knew it
was coming when he started plotting the book.  It's perhaps a bit too
convenient that all of the Greek-Myth-Monster-Themed escapees from the Raft
team up and go against Herc, but one must allow for such things.  Especially
since it might have ben subconsciously manipulated by the fourth member of
their party.  A few of the bits start to get tired, but none stays long
enough to really wear out its welcome.  Recommended.  $2.99

     Alpha Flight #0.1: Marvel - With a 7 issue miniseries coming next, I
have to wonder if it was originally an 8 issue series with #1 repurposed for
this Point One gimmick.  In any case, this does stand alone reasonably well,
introducing all of the Alphans and grounding them in their setting, while
also establishing a potential new threat (the face of which is an old
antagonist of sorts, but who is almost definitely a figurehead or patsy).
Recommended.  $2.99

     Avengers Academy #14: Marvel - Thanks to the helpful footnote in
Spider-Man #660, I know this issue took place before Spider-Man #658, but no
such helpful context is provided in this issue, oops.  After the Korvac arc,
a story like this is necessary, in order to show that the kids still have a
lot to learn.  It also helps establish that the Sinister Six, while
definitely Bad Guys, aren't 90s-style psychos.  Recommended.  $2.99

     The Amazing Spider-Man #661: Marvel - So, after fighting a giant
monster, Spider-Man gets to do a day of substitute teaching for the Academy,
and the horribly dated elements of his own origin story are fodder for a
rather uncomfortable (for him) sequence in the classroom.  It's not terribly
fair, of course, since most of the things in his origin were fine back in
1963.  But elements of Peter Parker's high school years really didn't age
well (something the MTV Spider-Man cartoon lampshaded when Peter tried to
explain how he went to look for a phone booth and was asked why he didn't use
his cell).  The backup is a short "typical day in the life" vignette that may
not actually fit in with the current continuity visually.  Recommended.


"And That's Why We Can't Have Nice Things" Award to Transformers Dark of the
     Moon Foundation #4 (of 4)

"Need A Few More Boyz" Award to The Transformers #19

"A Real Page Turner" Award to The Rocketeer Hundred Penny Press Edition

"Is That A Rocket Pack Or Are You Happy To See Me?" Award to Rocketeer 
     Adventures #1

"So Many Questions, So Little Caring About The Answers" Award to Booster 
     Gold #44

"Not Exactly Breaking Land-Speed Records" Award to Legion of Super-Heroes #13

"We Get It, Zemo Is A Jerk" Award to Hawkeye Blindspot #4 (of 4)

"Pew Pew Mind Bullets" Award to X-Factor #219

"Well, His Face Wasn't ALWAYS In His Chest" Award to Captain America First
     Vengeance #2 (of 4)

"No Subtext In There At All, Nooooo" Award to Thunderbolts #157

"In The Name Of The Moon, I Punish You!" Award to Herc #3

"Skinky" Award to Alpha Flight #0.1

"ACTING!" Award to Avengers Academy #14

"Someone's Been Buying Off Limitations" Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #661

   Dave Van Domelen, "HEY, INDIAN! What has the regime done for your people? YOU should UNDERSTAND!" "What I UNDERSTAND is the nearly overwhelming desire to PUNCH the HELL out of anyone who yells, 'Hey, Indian' at me." - Citadel and Shaman, Alpha Flight #0.1
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