Dave's Capsules for June 2018

Archive of older reviews

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Nothing this month, sorry.

In this installment: Cloak & Dagger (TV), Luke Cage Season 2 (eps 1-2), The Phoenix #331, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #31-32, Marvel Rising Alpha #1, Ms. Marvel #31, Deathstroke #32, Future Quest Presents the Herculoids #11, Astro City #52 (of 52), The Tick #4, Invader Zim #31, Kaijumax Season 4 #1 (of 6), My Little Pony Ponyville Mysteries #2, Transformers Requiem of the Wreckers Annual 2018, Transformers Lost Light #18.

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Diamond royally fouled up just about every order this month, I got most of my books late, but somehow got everything from June's releases at some point in June. 


"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.

Cloak & Dagger: Marvel/Freeform - You know, even given the reputation of the network (teenaged melodrama), the pacing is lugubrious and melodramatic in the first episode.  The second episode doesn't improve things, and I had my fill of it about 2/3 through.  Ugh.  I'm not sure if this is lethal levels of padding out the season, or if they really think that the "life and times of two mostly normal teenagers in a corrupt city" is the interesting thing here.  In the comics, the pair hit rock bottom pretty quickly, to set up the central conflict of "how do you crawl back up when everything seems stacked against you?"  In the show, they luxuriate in the slow slide to rock bottom, apparently finding that more interesting than the climb back up.  I didn't finish the second episode and have no plans to watch the third.
DEFINITELY not crossing over with
Riverdale.  Okay, enough of that
running gag.

Luke Cage Season 2: Marvel/Netflix - The problem all of the Marvel Netflix series seem to be running into in their second seasons is "We covered the origin story...now what?"  Either there's too many iconic stories to choose from, or (in the case of Jessica Jones) too few.  I've only watched a few episodes so far (I'm not a big binger), but they're definitely in the rut in terms of undoing "I got my act together" elements of the S1 resolution in order to give the character something to overcome.  It's not too forced in this case, at least, since there were more built-in danglers at the end of S1 of Luke Cage, but it still feels a bit pro forma in places.  Particularly, it suffers from having to find reasons to keep Luke from hanging out with any of the other Defenders, because they apparently don't want to do more team-ups until they're ready for Defenders S2 or something.  (Mind you, does one really need an explanation for why no one wants to hang out with "trained to be a suicide weapon" Danny Rand?)

Still, it doesn't feel unduly slow or padded, and while the large scale plot is moving slowly, the small-scale zips along at a pace that had me surprised that I was only halfway through episode 2 when it felt like it should be just about over.  Some of this might be the influence of Lucy Liu in the director's chair, since Elementary regularly packs several twists and subplots into each episode, and she'd be used to that sort of fast-slow mixed pacing.  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 iPhone if it's at all possible.

Wolfram is more of a supporting
character than star of a strip.
The Phoenix #331: The Weekly Story Comic - This just popped up on ComiXology's Digital Firsts list, but I guess it's been going on for several years now as a print publication in England.  It's an "all ages" anthology, 26 pages per week with no one story getting more than a handful of pages.  I have seen some of the features involved showing up as solo publications, I guess collections of these weekly strips?  A mix of short gag strips, activity pages, and serials, it seems aimed more at elementary school kids than any other demographic, although the Robot Bros story pushes up against tweenagers a bit (I skimmed their origin story collection on the shelf at the bookstore once, but decided it wasn't something that I'd want to spend the time reading in full).  I wouldn't really recommend this series for adult readers, but if you have elementary school age kids you might give them a few issues of this to see if they like it.  99 cents for regular issues, $1.99 for double-sized catch-up issues on ComiXology.


Trades:

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

Nothing this month.


Floppies:

No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they are floppy, yes?  (And not all of them come out monthly, or on a regular schedule in general, so I can't just call this section "Monthlies" or even "Periodicals" as that implies a regular period.)

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #31: Marvel - "The Smoking Issue" proclaims the cover, with Luna disgustedly snapping a cigarette in half.  Is the story inside as preachy as the cover implies?  COULD IT BE?  Well, no...it's mostly an interesting man-bites-dog sort of mystery that uses an obscure villain (without noting that he's a Nazi, likely a research omission on Montclare's part), and it doesn't get too nails-on-chalkboard preachy until the last couple of pages where Luna narrates the denounment and rubs our faces in the Moral Of The Story.  Still, pretty eminently skippable without missing any important plot elements.  Neutral.  $3.99

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #32: Marvel - This is probably not a good day to be reading a comic about how a known criminal in a position of political power uses that power to destroy public education...hell, it's been a bad few years for that.  I'm also getting tired of how relentless this book has been lately about Luna being sullen and angry (i.e. a stereotypical tweenager) and at best grudgingly admitting to needing friends and so forth.  I find myself more annoyed by this issue than interested in seeing what happens next, so I'm not going to bother finding out.  Dropping the book.  $3.99
Pum-SPAK!  (Yeah, I know he got brought back as
an undead or something by Gary Stu...er, the Hood,
but he's dead again at the moment, so whatevs.)

Marvel Rising Alpha #1: Marvel - Kamala takes a game design class from Doreen, setting up a four issue miniseries in which every issue is a #1 (this will be followed by Squirrel Girl/Ms. Marvel #1, and then Ms. Marvel/Squirrel Girl #1, then Marvel Rising Omega #1).  The villain is from the "victim of bullying gets power and abuses it" school of relatable antagonists, and it's gonna take a lot of squirming around to keep this going for four issues, given how both protagonists are excellent at talking down that sort of foe.  (Actually, I can see the initial antagonist getting talked down in part 2 of the story, only to find that someone more sinister was planning to use them and won't let go.  Particularly given the antagonist's similarity to Megatak and their vague enough personal background that could allow for a family connection to the old Thor villain.)  Unfortunately, the tone is a bit inconsistent, with light-hearted romp scenes clashing badly with the bullying victim scenes.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Ms. Marvel v2 #31: Marvel - There's a small "LGY#50" under the issue number, they apparently decided to not go with full on legacy numbering, but wanted a reminder other than the "OVERSIZED 50th ISSUE SPECTACTULAR!" banner under the issue number.  Anyway, with all the creators listed, I was kinda expecting an anthology issue, but...not exactly.  Oh, it's sort of an anthology, in that most of the creative teams pitched in 4-8 page pieces that mostly stand on their own, but it's all in the context of Kamala trying to have a normal night with friends, and other than the Lockjaw story it all feeds into her coming to an important decision in her life.  Well constructed quilt rather than ragged patchwork, if you will.  Recommended.  $4.99

Deathstroke #32: DC - Part 3 of 6, so I'm afraid things are only getting more confusing as the onion gets peeled back to reveal more onions and an artichoke or two.  We're basically watching a duel of Xanatos Gambits, in which at LEAST three absurdly complicated ten-steps-ahead plans intermesh, to the point that Deathstroke himself may just be eschewing obfuscation entirely and figuring everyone else's plans will explode around him while he goes on with his business.  This sort of story would be easy to tell as a parody or a deconstruction, but Priest is playing it pretty straight...the situation itself is ludicrous enough without needing to arch an eyebrow at the reader.  Recommended.  $3.99

Future Quest Presents: The Herculoids #11: DC - Fairly predictable resolution to a fairly by-the-numbers story.  Meh.  At least this series has rotating creative teams, or I'd be dropping it now too.  $3.99 

Astro City #52: DC/Vertigo - Cute, a Crisis/52-evoking string of Earths on the cover.  A quiet end to the current series, with the Michael taking stock of why he does what he does...and probably more than a little of Kurt thinking the same sort of things himself.  (It's not the end of Astro City entirely, just like it switched to miniseries for a while, now it's switching to graphic novels.) 

To quote from Cicero,
"Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure.  To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it?  But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?"  
Michael has carried the pain of his memories around for decades, even though the Hangman has offered to erase those memories of a timeline that no longer exists.  Does he really hold onto the pain for its own sake, dolorem ipsum, or does the pain make him a better person, grant him a better role in the world, provide a sort of pleasure in its own way?

Recommended.  $3.99

The Tick #4: NEC - I read this a week before writing this review, and I already can't remember how it resolved.  The creator whose presence got me to try the book out (Pasckiewicz) vanished almost immediately, and the book otherwise feels like it was the result of feeding old Tick comics and cartoons into a blender and picking out the shreds to inspire the stories.  Not even good fanfic.  Another dropped book.  $3.99
   
Invader Zim #31: Oni Press - Another Dib issue, it feels like they've run out of ideas for Zim himself, save to have him show up randomly to be a problem for Dib.  The Dib story this issue is self-contained and tighter than the Poop-pocalypse, but still...it's my final issue of the series.  I've given it almost a dozen second chances, and it has always gotten juuuuust good enough for an issue or two to stay on my list, only to sink into mediocrity again.  Neutral.  $3.99

Kaijumax Season 4 #1 (of 6): Oni Press - Time for a look at the prison for the female kaiju, on this world's version of Infant Island (home of Mothra).  This lets us follow Dr. Zhang (who can't return to human size due to damage), and also gives the main facility time to repair the damage done in Season 3.  I suspect I'm missing some references because I haven't seen Orange is the New Black, but nothing too important.  If I have one criticism, and it's one that may turn out to be a flaw that the plot is aware of, it's that the facilities seem to have pretty crappy recordkeeping and information sharing, people at the women's prison seem rather underinformed about their prisoners.  Recommended.  $3.99

Yes, this is canon.  At least the pony based on Turturro's
character didn't show up in any later stuff.
My Little Pony Ponyville Mysteries #2: IDW - Mystery at the bowling alley, which means a very high density of Big Lebowski references...to the point that this issue is bound to be kinda confusing for anyone who hasn't seen the movie.  (Oddly, no Maud Pie, given that she seems to be based on Maude Lebowski.)  The actual mystery isn't that much more involved than last issue's (they lampshade the simplicity of last issue this issue, though), but the sleuthing is a bit more competent and they do seem to have learned not to hurl accusations around too early in the investigation.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Transformers: Requiem of the Wreckers Annual 2018: IDW - Even without reading the making-of stuff at the back, it's PAINFULLY clear that this was originally planned as another 4-5 issue miniseries, then hacked down to half the size.  That wouldn't be so bad, but Roche didn't want to eliminate any of the plot points (which would have required significant plot alteration), so a lot of stuff gets very short shrift.  Hard to care about the slaughter of a bunch of new characters if they appeared for the first time a couple pages before their demise and got one or two lines each.  Hard to comprehend the final "goodbyes" scene when half the characters being said goodbye to were mentioned in passing in a wall of exposition page and never seen before the goodbye page.  Frankly, the Wreckers storyline was better off left where it was at the end of Sins of the Wreckers, this just rips open a bunch of stuff and then resolves most of it sloppily.  Yes, it was cool to see the flashback story drawn by Geoff Senior, and a dangler from the very first appearance of Verity Carlo gets resolved, but...this needed more issues or no issues.  Very mildly recommended.  $7.99

Transformers Lost Light #18: IDW - Well, that was a somewhat elegant explanation for a lot of danglers, elegant enough that Roberts probably had it planned as a contingency since quite some time ago ("In case of early cancellation, break glass.").  It's probably not the ending we'd have gotten three years ago or three years from now, but it does tie off the Knights of Cybertron thread pretty well.  Of course, this also undid a bunch of other resolutions that seemed to have been made in the last few issues, but hey, there's still seven issues to go and (checks calendar) oh dear.  They're really not going to get this train wreck into the station in any sort of coherent order, are they?  Still, it will be an amusing train wreck on the part of Lost Light.  Recommended.  $3.99

(Yeah, dropping a lot of stuff this month...but also adding a few titles, and I did try out Phoenix Comics even if I won't end up getting it regularly.  Just a month for a little churn, I guess.)

Dvandom, aka Dave Van Domelen, is an Assistant Professor of Physical Science at Amarillo College, maintainer of one of the two longest-running Transformers fansites in existence (neither he nor Ben Yee is entirely sure who was first), long time online reviewer of comics, got out of jury duty but then the defendant died of old age during the trial, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.

"Probably best not to tamper with it."  "Er...what are you going to do?"  "I'm going to tamper with it." - Ratchet and Drift, Transformers Lost Light #18

Dave's Capsules for June 2018 Dave's Capsules for June 2018 Reviewed by Dvandom on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 Rating: 5
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