Dave's Capsules for August 2018

Archive of older reviews

Items of Note (strongly recommended or otherwise worthy): Nothing, sorry.  One of those months with some good stuff, but nothing I read or watched was great.

In this installment: Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Aquaman Rage of Atlantis, Marvel Rising: Initiation, Gravity Falls Lost Legends, Rolled & Told Free Issue, Ms. Marvel #33, Marvel Rising: Ms. Marvel & Squirrel Girl #1, Deathstroke #34, Real Science Adventures: The Nicodemus Job #2 (of 5), My Little Pony Ponyville Mysteries #4 (of 5), My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #69, Transformers Bumblebee #3 (of 4), Transformers Lost Light #22 (of 25), Optimus Prime #22 (of 25),  Transformers Unicron #4 (of 6).

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Nothing this month either, huzzah.

"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.
They do seem to miss the
intrinsic nobility of
Dex-Starr, though.

Lego DC Comics Superheroes: Aquaman Rage of Atlantis: DC/WB - I saw the title in a release list as just "Rage of Atlantis" and decided to pass on it, thinking it was part of the nu52 adaptation series.  But nope!  It's Lego, so I got it.  The rage part comes from the Red Lanterns being the featured villains, you see.  The slapstick levels are turned up higher than even the normally high levels of the Lego DC Comics direct to video releases, mostly at Aquaman's expense, and too many of the early jokes are of the "ha ha, Aquaman sure is lame, isn't he?" variety.  It does get better, but it still ends up being one of the weaker installments in the Lego DC series.  A major secondary arc involves Green Lantern Jessica Cruz dealing with a comically exaggerated version of the performance anxiety suffered by the comics version, and that goes over a little better than the "Aquaman is the butt-seamonkey of all the jokes" stuff.  (Some versions come packaged with a Jessica minifigure.)  Mildly recommended.  Price $10-20 depending on store and format.

Marvel Rising: Initiation: Marvel/Disney - Basically this is a regular 22 minute episode split up for release as 4 minute shorts on YouTube, but released immediately as a compilation anyway.  Related to but not the same as the Marvel Rising miniseries, it's set in its own universe.  Mildly recommended.  For more, see my review previously posted to Fifth World.

The CW-universe Ray cartoon came out the last week of August, I'll review it in the September post.

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.

Nothing this month. Okay, technically Marvel Rising was online content, as it's on YouTube.


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

Gravity Falls: Lost Legends: Disney Press - Written by Alex Hirsch (series creator) with art by a baker's dozen of artists and one letterer.   (Most of the artists seem to be used in one particular story that takes the characters through various comics-art realities.)  The framing sequence is that Shmebulock is enjoying his one day every thousand years where he can say something other than his name (a conceit also used in a fake toy ad aired on Disney XD) and he reveals that he's been stalking the Pines and generally fanboying them.  Each of the four tales is a "lost legend" that he knows about because of his stalkery behavior.  The first three take place during the last season (Ford is around), and the last is a tale of the Stans as kids.  Ow...I just realized that Shmebulock is a Stan stan.  Anyway, since Hirsch wrote these, you can consider them canon, but since Shmebulock may not be a reliable narrator, you can also consider them non-canon or deuterocanonical should you so desire.  While sometimes the cheap meta joke is gone for, Hirsch generally has a good ear for making even those work reasonably well.  Recommended.  $19.99 (hardcover)


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.)

Dex check (DC5) to avoid papercut.
Rolled & Told Free Issue: Quillion/Lion Forge - This is a free preview of the upcoming series, and is about half the pagecount.  Hard to say if the regular issues will be just twice as much in the same proportions, or if there will be additional kinds of features, more weight given to the comic part, etc.  The basic idea is that this is a successor to Dragon Magazine, with 5th Edition D&D scenarios and articles, plus some comics.  In this case, the comics pages are a setup for the scenario, rather than being an independent serial fiction.  There's two pages of narrated comic, two pages of map (which could stand to give up a little visual zing in exchange for more clarity), most of the issue is the adventure, then there's four pages of an article on Mimics and four pages of pregen characters for the adventure.  If this is the balance of material to be expected from the regular issues (which IIRC promise two short scenarios), then it's more like Dungeon Magazine than Dragon Magazine, or even just a module with an article or two.  If you don't actually run D&D5 games, it's probably not worth getting the regular series, but if you're on the fence?  Hey, this one's free, and has a useful idea worth stealing for other games...steal the Danger Room from superhero games and set it up for fantasy.

Ms. Marvel v2 #33: Marvel - Mostly a running fight and chase scene between Ms. Marvel and the Shocker (who does feel reasonably true to his portrayal in Superior Foes), while Bruno tries to figure out what the krunk is going on with MM's powers.  Good introspective moments along with slapstick (a giant Mousetrap game figures prominently), and a suggestion that something a lot bigger than Shocker's vacation-from-Manhattan is going on.  Recommended.  $3.99

Marvel Rising Ms. Marvel & Squirrel Girl #1: Marvel - AKA Part 3.  Or parts 4 and 5, since it's another double-sized issue.  Annoyingly, there's a printing error that replaced one of the pages with a copy of a later page, although it's technically incorrect to call it a printing error since the mistake had to have been made before printing.  Cut and paste at the page level can be hazardous to your coherence.  The first story has somewhat rushed and scratchy art by Ramon Bachs, and is mostly a running fight against zombies as they try to figure out a way to turn off the game that has emerged into the real world, before being banished into the second story.  The second story has better manga-style art and dumps everyone into a grindy MMO world while the Real Villain (who makes sense, but eh) makes their move.  While the second half feels less padded and grindy (ironically), the issue as a whole still feels like they realized they didn't quite have enough story to fill out the required pagecount.  Mildly recommended.  $5.99

Deathstroke #34: DC - Heh.  Batman and Deathstroke spend the entire issue psychoanalyzing each other (and most of it also fighting each other), being oh so clever in the process...and yet each misses at least one very important detail about the other, without which their analyses fall apart.
Batman probably comes closer to the core truth of Deathstroke than vice versa, if only because editorial demands certain secrets not be known outside the Bat Family, but the end result is a lot of physical and emotional blows that never quite hit the mark.  Recommended.  $3.99

Real Science Adventures: the Nicodemus Job #2 (of 5): IDW - Casing the joint and weighing plans for the job, which gets its name in this issue (they will need to work around the arrival of the Nicodemus Gospel).  The backups, which are less obviously so in the webcomic version, continue to be "how they met" stories, in this case how the leader met the scribe.  Recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony Ponyville Mysteries #4 (of 5): IDW - This title continues to feel more like G.M. Berrow is writing it than Christina Rice, given the "writing down to kiddies" obvious non-mysteries.  I mean, the culprits in this one might as well have signed their work, and yet no one figured it out until near the end, despite at least Apple Blossom having enough experience with the culprits that she should have figured it out on page four.  And yet, there's a Chinatown reference...so does Rice even have a particular audience in mind?  Neutral.  $3.99

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #69: IDW - Kind of a retread of the "Pinkie Pie gets control of Discord's realm" story, only now she gets magic wishing power.  Basically an 8 page story at best, padded out to a full issue, in which Pinkie has to learn that satisfying immediate whims isn't the same as making people happy.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Transformers Bumblebee #3 (of 4): IDW - Mostly a chase scene through parts of London (and London being broken into parts), followed by bringing in another new human character (a Shaft reference, mostly) and a nod to what little continuity the movieverse has before dumping everyone into a trap.  Artistically, they're trying to balance the sameness and inhumanity of the movieverse character style against the splash and color and high-recognizability of characters in the homaged spy and blaxploitation movies.  Personally, I think they should have released this series after the movie, so that people had a more solid idea how much of a retcon is underway...as it stands now, it barely feels like it's connected to the movies at all.  Very mildly recommended.  $3.99

No doorbell, so he Rung the door.
Transformers Lost Light #22 (of 25): IDW - The cover says "UNICRON IS HERE," but that's only true in the sense that Unicron is around somewhere in the universe...as usual, the Lost Light crew is off doing its own thing with its own entire cosmology, involving the Guiding Hand.  The current dispositions of all five members (Adaptus, Mortilus, Solomus, Epistemus, and Primus-no-not-that-one) are revealed.  It's kinda hard to sort out the cosmology, especially with Shockwave all up in it, but the Guiding Hand do seem to post-date the Primes, but are similarly lost to legend and even their own memories in some cases.  Meanwhile, Rodimus is utterly sick of all this legendary cosmic stuff and he hasn't even rejoined the Unicron storyline yet.  I imagine he'll arrive, see Unicron, and say something like "Aw HELL naw," before turning around and leaving again.  Now, granted, some of this resolution feels a little too pat, and I suspect some of the things were originally intended as red herrings but had to be made the real answers now that there's no more time.  But if ass-pull it is, it's an engaging ass-pull.  Recommended.  $3.99

Optimus Prime #22 (of 25): IDW - This cover also proclaims UNICRON IS HERE, but he's actually over there, eating other planets, as he was last issue.  Unicron #0 happens during this issue, so that's only what, three and a half months out of synch?  Mostly, this issue is recovering from The Falling and catching (mostly metaphorical) breaths before the direness of Unicron's arrival becomes obvious.  A few of the ongoing subplots get rapidly tied up or at least back-burnered, and the colonist bunch gets marching orders for how they're going to be spending the final three issues of this title (looks like they might take the foreground, since Optimus himself will be kinda busy in the Unicron book).  Basically, Barber is not as good as Roberts when it comes to cancelling plans and rearranging on the fly in the face of sudden and imminent cancellation.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Transformers Unicron #3 (of 6): IDW - Meanwhile, in the future, they make another pass at trying to explained Shockwave's timeline mangling plan while Unicron just sort of politely gives them some time to realize how doomed they are, I guess.  I mean, there's a LOT of fighting and huge crowd scenes, but Unicron starts the issue looming above Cybertron (well, he's so big it's more like he's about to hug the planet) and ends the issue having maybe moved one arm.  I guess he wanted to give them time to quake with fear, or he wanted to hear the exchange between Bumblebee and Aileron I quote below.  Mildly recommended for a few good short scenes amidst the bloat.  $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, is surviving the Fall term so far, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.

"I thought Omega Supreme was supposed to be on OUR side."  "Maybe he needed to do a genocide to figure out it's BAD?  I feel like that happens with Cybertronian guys sometimes."  "You are ALL gross." - Aileron and Bumblebee, Transformers Unicron #3

Dave's Capsules for August 2018 Dave's Capsules for August 2018 Reviewed by Dvandom on Thursday, August 30, 2018 Rating: 5
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