Dave's Comicbook Capsules et cetera for May 2018

Archive of older reviews

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Ms. Marvel #30 

In this installment: Batman Ninja, Deadpool 2, Sparks!, Economix: How Our Economy Works (And Doesn't Work), The Manga Guide to the Universe, Ms. Marvel #30, Deathstroke #31, Future Quest Presents the Herculoids #10, Invader Zim #30, My Little Pony Ponyville Mysteries #1, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #66, Transformers vs. Visionaries #5 (of 5), Transformers Unicron #0, Optimus Prime #19

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Transformers: Requiem of the Wreckers (I've read a scan, but won't review it until I have hardcopy in hand...I will say it really needed to be about twice as long to work).

"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.

Batman Ninja: DC/WB - Wow.  The most charitable thing I can say about this is that it contains a lot of cool set pieces, and a few absurd ones.  In fact, it feels like they had a brainstorming session for scenes, decided to do every scene proposed, and then spent ten minutes figuring out how to stitch them together.  The writing is SOOOO BAD.  Like, not even amusingly bad, just bad bad.  This is best watched in a language you don't understand, with subtitles turned off...because at least you can pretend a better story than what was delivered.  Avoid otherwise.

That's bullet casings, but it might
as well be money.
Deadpool 2: Marvel Studios - Quite profane, as one might expect, although they do use "imply, don't show" for some of the more extreme stuff.  While the gore levels are really really high, and the swearing is deliberately gratuitous, there's a solid story and all the R-rated stuff makes perfect sense in the context of...he's ****ing Deadpool, man.  The red band trailed for The Happytown Murders shown before this provided a good contrast: Happytown (at least the trailer) goes for crudity and gratuitous "bump it up to R" stuff for shock value, it really felt like they were pushing it way past the point it was funny.  But even the most cringeworthy scenes of Deadpool 2 feel like they belong, rather than being forced for a cheap laugh.  (Well, cheap laughs are still a goal of the movie, but they fit well into the story.)  Definitely watch all the way through the credits, not just for the scenes inserted between the "prestige" credits and the regular ones, but also for the final piece of music.  I really enjoyed the movie, but you do need a high tolerance for blood, limb removal, splatter, foul language, and highly flexible morality to enjoy it.

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.

Looks like nothing this month.     


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

Sparks!: Scholastic - I got this because of the first chapter being a FCBD book.  It's basically, "What if Pinky and the Brain were cats who wore a mechanical dog suit to be a superhero and fight off an alien invasion?"  A lot of plot and character elements don't make a lot of sense, but that's on purpose, because no one involved on either side is what you'd call a totally rational adult.  Or any kind of adult, really.  Otherwise a fairly standard bildungsromans, but with a superintelligent cat protagonist.  Recommended.  $12.99/$16.99Cn 
No one understands the economy,
but this at least clarifies the
lack of understanding.

Economix: How Our Economy Works (and Doesn't Work): Abrams Comicart - This came out several years back, I picked it up at a local convention.  The team of Goodwin and Burr do a good job of distilling centuries of economic thought into a comprehensible presentation, emphasizing the core point that all economic theories are models that come with assumptions.  Sometimes the models work decently even when the assumptions aren't met, but most of the time not so much.  Or, worse, they work well enough for a while, making people rich enough to convince them that the model will always work...and then the crashes happen.  A bit of a depressing read towards the end, especially since it was written in 2011 and ends on a bunch of "here's some things that might help us forestall collapse," and we kinda did the opposite of most of them.  (There are updates available on www.economix.com to cover the last few years, but as a work in itself it ends on a Cassandra-like tone.)  Recommended.  $19.95/#23.95Cn

The Manga Guide to the Universe: No Starch Press - Another convention purchase.  The basic premise is that a high school drama club wants to update the "moon princess" fairytale (the one that was adapted for Kubo and the Two Strings, among other movies), but put the kingdom somewhere more plausible now that we know the Moon is uninhabitable.  With the help of one character's brother (a physics major in college) and the brother's astronomy professor, they learn about the cosmos in ever-widening gyres.  It's a mix of manga storytelling and more textbook-style pieces (which are, sadly, a pretty dry read in the translation...can't say if they were dazzling prose in the original, though).  The goal is to liven up the learning via the storytelling, but it tends instead to just grind to a halt once the text pieces start.  Now, the content itself is accurate and reasonably well explained in factual terms (although, thanks to being a 2011 translation of a 2008 book, it's stuck with Hubble images of Pluto rather than the much more stunning New Horizons imagery).  Mildly recommended.  $19.95/$22.95Cn


No, I don't have any particular disdain for the monthlies, but they are floppy, yes?  

Not going to do a separate FCBD listing this time.  Sparks! resulted in a purchase above, I'll cover Unicron #0 down with the rest of the TF books, and the only other FCBD books I picked up (the CLBDF anthology and the :01 First Second all-ages anthology) didn't really impress me with anything.

Dangerously close to a FLCL
reference in this issue.
Ms. Marvel v2 #30: Marvel - Several plot threads come to satisfying and sensible (well, where possible) conclusions, a few are put on a bus for a while, and Wilson shows how to do correctly one of the truncated plot threads in Requiem of the Wreckers.  Some of this is likely because Wilson is leaving the book soon (or so I hear), and she doesn't want to leave too many danglers.  But in many ways, if the book were over as of this issue it'd be a satisfying end...I suppose clean arc endings are so rare these days that we only ever get them when a book is cancelled, eh?  The fight scenes may be a bit overly chatty, but that's okay in a slightly trope-tweaking book like this.  I suppose you could view it as seeing only snapshots of a longer fight but getting to hear all the dialogue.  Strongly recommended.  $3.99

Deathstroke #31: DC - Okay, I missed the teeny note on the title page last month, but this whole arc takes place "prior to the current events of the DC Universe."  Shortly after the Batman guest shot about 25 issues ago, in fact.  I'd been wondering how Deathstroke got out of Arkham.  Maybe he's doing an extended flashback, since being in Arkham is reminding him of all things Bat.  Anyway, Batman won't let this matter drop, so Deathstroke has to stay involved if only to make sure nothing blindsides him, but the two have very little direct interaction, dramatic cover aside.  In fact, it's mostly Bruce Wayne here, rather than Batman per se, because having seemingly failed to bait the Bat, the mysterious person(s) behind this go after Bruce more directly.  And he gets some wonderful BS bits as he investigates things.  Also, Wintergreen and Alfred are best teamup ever.  Recommended.

Future Quest Presents: The Herculoids #10: DC - The middle part of Animan's temptation of Dorno, mostly involving Dorno and the surviving non-humanoid Herculoids dodging disaster after disaster as their planet dies.  It's not so much that it feels particularly padded, more that while stuff happens and character development progresses...I never really felt engaged.  I didn't care.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Invader Zim #30: Oni Press - The Poopocalypse is nigh, and unless Dib can get Zim's help, the world is doomed!  The high concept is promising, but the execution feels kind of defanged, turned into the blandest level of Nickelodeon content.  Poop jokes and petty spite.  Meh.  Neutral.  $3.99

My Little Pony Ponyville Mysteries #1: IDW - Based on the series of young reader chapter books written under the pseudonym Penumbra Quill (but NOT written by G.M. Berrow).  I did read the first book in case I'd need to know backstory, but there's really just a couple panels of "Gee, I'm glad things worked out with (characters from the first book)," and "I kinda like this mystery-solving thing."  Unfortunately, while the chapter book was able to put enough twists in to keep things from being too obvious, a single issue isn't really enough to go into more depth than an Encyclopedia Brown mystery...and Rice isn't Donald Sobol.  I think they'd be better served by two issues per story, so that there can be a cliffhanger, time to speculate, etc.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #66: IDW - The published diaries from the episode of the cartoon in which the writers complain about the fandom are turned into a movie.  Each of the Mane 6 is invited to direct their own segment of the story, which ends up like Rashomon meets Duck Amok.  One interesting bit at the very end is the implication that any comic story that can't be reconciled with the cartoon anymore is just something Pinkie Pie remembers having happened...but didn't necessarily.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99 

Transformers vs. Visionaries #5 (of 5): IDW - I really get the feeling that the series was rough-plotted before the hammer came down on this continuity, but by the time #2 or #3 was being scripted they knew what was coming.  So the wrap-up here is clearly has what was intended to be a "there's a lot of potential in this" ending, but the increasing body count as the series progressed spoke to the fact that everyone who survived this series was still likely doomed in some fashion.  And the villain of the piece, Merklyn, is recast as probably having the right plan, and now that he's lost they're all doomed.  A rather bittersweet ending, with a big emphasis on the bitter.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Unicron #0: IDW - A FCBD teaser for the "end of the IDW continuity" series.  Timing is going to be really dicey here, given that both Lost Light and Optimus Prime need to hit #25 simultaneously with Unicron #6, and this issue already gives up several important plot points from Optimus Prime #19 and onward.  Especially since no issues of Lost Light came out this month, and only one of Optimus Prime.
Most of this short story focuses on trying to save Elonia, the capital of the Solstar Order, with some last minute revelations tying things together and explaining why Unicron would go after Elonia anyway (and explaining the plot device of Rom's armor).  Obviously, Unicron isn't stopped or even slowed down much, else there wouldn't be Unicon #1-6, but it's still the sort of loss that could be recovered from if we didn't know that, you know, the continuity is being cancelled.  (Yeah, it could end on "and everyone left survived and there was a new golden age of peace among those who banded together in the face of Unicron," but at best we'll get a panel or two of Elonia's survivors rebuilding.)  
The back cover has a checklist of all the remaining tie-in stuff, which skips June entirely and picks up in July with Lost Light #21 (they're gonna have to get out three issues in June to make that), and Optimus Prime #22 in August (that one is a realistic goal).  Free comic.

Optimus Prime #19: IDW - This is mostly The World According To Starscream, who apparently wasn't as resigned to his punishment and guilt as shown in Windblade Annual...to the point it feels like Barber disagreed with Scott and wanted to undo that story as soon as possible.  Optimus himself appears only in flashbacks prior to the last couple of pages, and other than "Starscream retcons his life" stuff there's not a lot of story here.  Maybe 8 pages.  So I can't shake the feeling that the primary purpose of this issue was to undo Starscream's character growth so that he could be back in Barber's preferred mode at the end.  Very mildly recommended.  $3.99

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, has jury duty on the first day of his summer night class, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.

"The biometric scanners you touch here use an inverting amplifier to alter a supply voltage.  This active current on your hands reacts with esters of low molecular weight commonly used as fragrances -- like those in antibacterial soap.  This combination interacts with the butadiene in the nitrile gloves you used to handle Suds' cash -- and left a crude signature on the hundreds' 3-D security ribbon."
"Bull.  I missed a camera somewhere, didn't I?"
"34th and Broad.  Got your license plate."
- Batman and Adeline Kane, Deadpool #31
Dave's Comicbook Capsules et cetera for May 2018 Dave's Comicbook Capsules et cetera for May 2018 Reviewed by Dvandom on Friday, June 01, 2018 Rating: 5
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