Dave's Capsules for September 2018

Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Nothing really stood out this month.

In this installment: Freedom Fighters: the Ray DVD, Iron Fist Season 2, Ms. Marvel v2 #34, Marvel Rising Omega #1, Deathstroke #35, Catalyst Prime Astonisher #10 (v3 #1), The Wrong Earth #1, Kaijumax Season 4 #2 (of 6), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Tempest #2 (of 6), Real Science Adventures: The Nicodemus Job #3 (of 5), My Little Pony Ponyville Adventures #5 (of 5), My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #70, Transformers Lost Light #23-24, Optimus Prime #23, Transformers Unicron #4 (of 6), Star Trek vs. Transformers #1 (of 4).

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order)Nothing.  League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Tempest #2 had to be reordered, but arrived in the last week of the month.

"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. 

Punching Nazis is always in style.
Freedom Fighters: the Ray DVD: DC/WB - This is more of a prequel to Crisis on Earth-X, meant in part to explain one of the throwaway lines from the end where Ray talks about where he's from.  Unfortunately, it ends up making no sense anyway, since there's an extended period where Ray trains with Ollie and the gang, so wouldn't they have already known where he was from?  Ah well.  Ignoring continuity issues, it's a decent if suspiciously parsimonious story with some decent action beats.  Nothing to write home about, though, and you're not really missing much if you skip it.  Frankly, I think they'd have been better served with a sequel that had a few brief flashbacks to pre-crossover, because as a pure prequel you know that the heroes can't really win, and strongly suspect that anyone not mentioned before on the live-action shows will die.  Mildly recommended.

Iron Fist Season 2: Marvel/Netflix - A tighter ten episodes this time, and not only is it an improvement over Season 1, there's several scenes that feel like implicit apologies for the problems of that season.  The general theme of the season is that power corrupts, but more in the "ruin your personal life and make you into a jerk" fashion than any grand Acton Lord sort of deal.  Lots of attempts to pick up the pieces of broken lives, get one's due now that the Hand crisis seems to be over, and so forth.  I found Joy's motivations a little harder to swallow than those of the rest of the cast, but with Danny growing as a person I guess someone has to carry the idiot stick.  I did like that the resolution to "power corrupts" wasn't merely abandoning power, but finding ways to become a better person (if only slightly better in some cases) and resist the corruption.  Well, okay, the main antagonist had to be stripped of the corrupting power, but this IS a superhero story.  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.

Nothing this month.


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

Well, I did get a Kickstarter fulfillment on a webcomic collection TPB set, but nothing I feel like reviewing.


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.)

Ms. Marvel v2 #34: Marvel - More running battle between a wonky-powered Kamala and "oh yeah he's kinda a mad scientist" Shocker, while Bruno actually RTFMs and figures out what's going on. There's even a good callback to the Secret Wars "surviving universes ruled by Doom" crossover. Recommended. $3.99

Marvel Rising Omega #1: Marvel - Almost nothing happens. I mean, the bulk of the issue is "the heroes fight thinly veiled knockoffs of computer games with a plan that's essentially hit things until they find a door," followed by a brief climax and denounment. It literally would have worked better in 8 pages. Neutral. $4.99

Deathstroke #35: DC - Having finished beating the crap out of each other, Batman and Deathstroke are forced to actually figure out what was going on to set them at each other's throats, while their friends and allies are left to clean up the mess. Since it was obvious going in that a non-Bat book was never going to be allowed to retcon Damian Wayne's parentage, the reader knew going in that it was a ploy, but the mystery becomes "whose ploy, and why?" The problem becomes that there are too many Obvious Suspects, but I found the resolution made sense and opens up new possibilities rather than being a one-off. Recommended. $3.99

Catalyst Prime Astonisher #10 (vol 3 #1): Lion Forge - Other than the FCBD launch issue, I haven't read any Catalyst books prior to this, but with Priest taking over the writing I decided to give it a shot. Near as I can tell, Catalyst's core conceit is "What if the Fantastic Four didn't steal the rocket, but were sent up to stop a meteor, and in so doing triggered the White Event?" Astonisher's high concept, in turn, is "What if Elon Musk were Nightmask, but wasn't limited to the sleeping mind?" I'd add, "and what if he were a jerk," but I think that's already implied. In fact, almost everyone in the cast is some level of horrible. Astonisher himself takes on the task of using his unlocked powers to remake the shattered remains of Weehawken (the space rock did land on some cities despite being broken up some) as a utopia...but admits eventually he'll get bored and stop bothering. So, what if ultimate power got into the hands of those who were already so close to absolute corruption as to make no real difference? Not mustache-twirlingly evil, just sort of...assholes. Save the world for the acclaim, not because it's the right thing to do. That sort of person. The time jumping is a bit confusing, especially since "one year ago" happens after Astonisher #9, so Priest has given himself a One Year Gap to play with. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Neither seems to be in any sort of
alliance of super-heroes, though.
The Wrong Earth #1: Ahoy Comics - So, Ahoy is launching a bunch of new books with a lot of established talent, in this case the writer/artist team of Tom Peyer and Jamal Igle. The high concept is "What if the Adam West Batman and the Frank Miller Batman switched universes?" It sticks a little too close to that, in my opinion, with Dragonflyman being little more than a reskinned Adam West character with little to nothing setting him apart beyond surface details. Dragonfly, the grim and gritty version, feels a little less like a specific knockoff, if only because there were so damned many like him in the Miller-imitation era (but the murdered sidekick does tie him a little more closely to Batman). The plot device that switches them is pretty arbitrary, and none of the switched characters seem to be surprised that something happened, merely the details of the new worlds they find themselves in...I figure that works for Dragonflyman (as the gimmick had a helpful sign on it), less so for the "no whimsy, no weird superhuman stuff" Dragonfly. I'll give Peyer and Igle another issue or two to develop the concept, though. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Kaijumax Season 4 #2 (of 6): Oni Press - Cannon weaves a few more threads into the stories happening at the women's prison for kaiju, and while the not-Mothra faction leader's new recruit gets a few pages, this issue is mostly about three arcs: the transferred Kaijumax and his new bride, the fallen doctor who is now a prisoner, and a new thread involving a Korean kaiju who's mostly on the side of good but tends to "go 1954" sometimes and end up imprisoned while her husband keeps his nose clean and gets to be the acclaimed hero of Seoul. So, in order, we basically have "good person continuing to slide into 'harmless' corruption," a redemption arc, and "short-timer who wants to keep her nose clean and not get involved in any of the factions." This being a prison drama series, all three are probably doomed, it's just a matter of time. An extra underlying theme in this season seems to be motherhood, something that the previous seasons couldn't address as fully. Like, Electrogor's whole arc was about protecting his children, but now there's pregnant kaiju in the prison, mothers separated from their children, and so forth. Recommended. $3.99

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Tempest #2 (of 6): Top Shelf/Knockabout - Well, the cover date of the faux newspaper that makes up the cover us August 22, 2018, looks like they missed deadline by a few weeks there. The three main plot threads continue, although the "hero from the future finally remembers her mission" thread so far has not dovetailed with the other two (Mina and the survivors of Century seek out the current Nemo, and James Bond decides MI5 needs to do things differently in the wake of Century). The JLA-pastiche team thread retreads some ground stomped on by Marshall Law many years ago, if a bit gently, in portraying the surviving elderly generation of heroes in a somewhat pathetic light...but that's been something of a theme for all LoEG books, yes? Our heroes of literature, both highbrow and lowbrow, are rarely as impressive once you look past the surface and see who they really are. Even the ones who aren't outright frauds (the LoEG-verse version of Superman was a cinematic fake) are disappointingly all too human. Also, there certainly were a LOT of Captain Marvel/Shazam ripoffs, weren't there? The other two plots end up bringing up the Blazing World, and that's the one LoEG book I never did read, but what happens there in this issue can't be good, can it? Anyway, while the "everybody is a jerk" message runs fairly strongly through this issue, it's more along the lines of, "yeah, he's a jerk, but he's OUR jerk." Affectionate disparagement, if you will. Recommended. $4.99 (contains some nudity)

Real Science Adventures: the Nicodemus Job #3 (of 5): IDW - And now the actual job gets underway (and the print version gets ahead of the web version), with naturally lots of things going wrong, but nothing fatally wrong...yet. After all, it's only the middle of the heist plot, gotta save the truly horrible foulups for the end of #4! While I generally dislike anxiety-based humor, the pacing doesn't allow the reader much time to stew over any given setback before it's been resolved (more or less) and something else has come up...so it's more madcap than typical sitcom. In the backup, the team continues to come together, no new major characters in this flashback, but meetings among existing ones. Recommended. $3.99

My Little Pony Ponyville Mysteries #5 (of 5): IDW - Well, I suppose they couldn't get out of this without a more extended homage to a mystery/noir movie, and we get the Maltese Falcon for a final issue, complete with a Sydney Greenstreet pony. It's not a beat for beat riff, mind you, and Rice resisted the temptation to use "The stuff that dreams are made of," in the resolution. It works reasonably well, despite the poor match between noir and Cutie Mark Crusaders. Mildly recommended. $3.99

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #70: IDW - Followup to Grannies Gone Wild, an early season 8 episode. This story is essentially an attempt to redeem Applejack's almost villainous role in that episode, by showing that maybe going full Rainbow Dash in activities is a bad idea too. I wonder if the reason for the delay is that they didn't originally plan to do a comic tie-in to the episode, but after realizing how badly AJ came off, someone decided there needed to be a rebuttal story. Mildly recommended. $3.99

Transformers Lost Light #23: IDW - Things are happening, and happening fast. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the phone didn't ring. ... I was right, it didn't. Functionist Primus is busy destroying copies of Cybertron while Guiding Hand Primus starts to remember who he is and all the deep backstory gets laid out, including why nobody even remembers any of this. The beauty of it is that as frantic as the revelations are, all the pieces have been in place for a long time. Maybe this wasn't how Roberts originally planned all the pieces to come together, but it all fits, it all makes sense, and true to the tone of the book, there's a massive anticlimax to one of the long-simmering danglers. (Unicron still isn't here, no matter what the cover says. Just a surplus of Primuses. Primera?) Recommended. $3.99

Transformers Lost Light #24: IDW - Well, at least one of the two titles is in position to wrap up before Unicron #6. It's time to light our darkest hour and stop Primus from getting loose to destroy the entire universe before Unicron can get around it (Unicron is STILL not here). Mind you, any plan that depends on Swerve being worthy to open the Matrix is a pretty desperate one, but as a story it works pretty well. It even provides a little back door assuming everyone doesn't just die in Unicron #6, to allow things to continue, even if we don't get to see more comics in this universe. Recommended. $3.99

Optimus Prime #23: IDW - A pretty forgettable issue, full of the dregs of stuff that didn't go into Unicron, more or less. A bunch of good guys fight another bunch of good guys and a lot of good guys die in the process, because apparently there's nothing better to do while Unicron is roaming about eating worlds. And in case "sometimes we gotta do a genocide to figure out it's wrong" from Unicron #3 didn't get the point across, there's a scene showing how the Devisuns were just horrible British-style colonizers who eradicated the native culture and ecosystem in the name of improving and enlightening it. So, I guess it's to help us feel less bad that an entire world that barely got any development since its introduction has now been eaten? Meanwhile, I've never really liked Tramontano's art, but Burcham's super-saturated colors do it no favors, especially with the Junkions. Neutral. $3.99

Transformers Unicron #4 (of 6): IDW - Huh, I just noticed that Shockwave is almost exactly in his Cyberverse design now, just need to add a cable to his gun arm and tweak the chest plate details. Anyway. There will be no last minute save for Cybertron this time, and they just got it resurfaced only a few years ago, sheesh. It will all end on Earth, all the scattered survivors of the Hasbroverse that was launched with such fanfare reduced to a handful in defense of a seemingly doomed world. At least they can die knowing that Shockwave's plans got fouled up, there's some satisfaction in that. In a big gotterdammerung event like this, one takes pleasure in the small victories, the personal moments, the punching Starscream in the face. That sort of thing. It's mostly confusing sound and fury, signifying nothingness, but it's not without good parts. Mildly recommended. $4.99

Hi, Arex!
Star Trek vs. Transformers #1 (of 4): IDW - I think of this as the first of the post-Unicron projects, even though the Bumblebee movie prequel came first and Unicron isn't technically over. But it answers the question, "What will IDW do while waiting for a new main continuity to come along?" with CROSSOVERS! (There's also a GoBots/TF crossover coming.) The surprise twist of this crossover is that it's the Star Trek Animated Series that gets crossed over with Transformers. Artistically, they did a very good job of capturing the look and feel of STAS. I've only watched a handful of episodes (I have the entire series on DVD, but after a few eps I decided I'd had enough), but clearly Barber, Johnson, and Murphy have watched plenty. On the Transformers side, they aren't as careful about emulating the G1 cartoon, they just add too many details of the sort that never would have made it into 80s kidvid animation, like shiny surfaces and little scratches and dings straight out of Pat Lee. They keep the Transformers cast small enough that it doesn't get overwhelming, although for some reason decided to throw in...Airachnid, I think? They never actually give her name, but since she turns into a helicopter and has spider eyes in robot mode, I'm guessing that's who it's supposed to be. Bad storytelling technique there...you can get away with not naming Megatron or Spock (who do both get named) thanks to their iconic stature, but you've got to make sure to name anyone in the second (or fifth) tier. Arex and M'ress do get named on-screen, at least. Maybe they were expecting to get a cast page that was cut? Ah well. The premise is interesting even if the delivery is writing for the trade. I wonder how they plan to explain the Earth vehicle modes? I saw someone suggest that the Transformers cartoon events took place on one of those "law of parallel development" worlds Kirk was always running across, but I'm thinking you could hide a lot of robots in disguise in the chaos of the Eugenics Wars. Mildly recommended, but has potential. $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 glad it's finally cooling off some, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.

"Took you far too long to figure that out." "The delay was complicated by the fact that I didn't give a damn." - (spoiler) and Slade, Deathstroke #35.
Dave's Capsules for September 2018 Dave's Capsules for September 2018 Reviewed by Dvandom on Friday, September 28, 2018 Rating: 5
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