Dave's Capsules for December 2018

Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

In this installment: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Venom, Kanako's Life as an Assassin, Adventure Finders Chapters 6-16, Adventure Finders vol 1 TPB, The Hidden Witch, Breakfast of the Gods TPB, Spider Force #3 (of 3), Spider-Geddon Handbook, Ironheart #1, Deathstroke #38, Catalyst Prime Astonisher #13, The Wrong Earth #4, My Little Pony Nightmare Knights #3 (of 5), My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #72,  Star Trek vs. Transformers #3 (of 4).

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order)Bumblebee: Go For The Gold.  I also realized that the GN "Bumblebee: Win If You Dare," that this is a prequel to, never shipped to my store, so I ordered that from Amazon...and the day it shipped I saw it on the cardboard displays for the Bumblebee movie at every Walmart.  Oops.

"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. 

"You don't get to like my hair."
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Marvel/Sony - While it takes the Spider-verse conceit and a bunch of the alternate Spideys from the comics, this is really the origin story for Miles Morales.  The middle-aged Spider-Man seen in the trailers and ads does get a character arc, but otherwise this is not an ensemble story...the others are mainly background, to make the final fight scene more crowded and raise the stakes.  But that's fine, it's a very good Miles story about finding one's own place in the world.  Visually, it does a lot of stuff that modern animation seems to shy away from, embracing the more extreme comicbook-y aspects (Ben Day dots, occasional use of panels), and also the old green/red 3-D processing...even when seeing it in 2-D, backgrounds are often split up as if intended to be viewed through red/green glasses.  And yet, for all the stylistic flourishes, it doesn't get in the way.  (I was a bit concerned by some of the ads using what looked like faux stop-motion jerkiness, but I guess that was just something they tried for the ads, not a part of the actual movie.)  As usual for a Marvel movie, be sure to stay until the end.  Strongly recommended.

Venom: Sony/Marvel - I didn't see this in theaters, but it's gotten so much positive word of mouth since then that I decided to pick up the DVD.  It was definitely worth a watch.  It's cheesy, the effects are a little iffy, but it embraces the cheese.  It takes the later retcon about the Symbiotes and uses it for a Spidey-less origin, using an Eddie Brock who retains echoes of the comics version while still being his own hot mess.  Recommended.  Price varies by store and format.

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.
Aggretsuko would have been a
very different series if it took
this path instead.

Kanako's Life as an Assassin: BOOTH - This is something I first saw slowly building shared around Tumblr, but it's now available as a PDF compilation (with a chapter not seen on social media), from https://tsure2-children.booth.pm/items/1120807.  The basic premise is that a put-upon and meek office worker in finally quits her job and goes looking for work...only to discover she applied for a job as an assassin.  And through a series of unusual events, she accidentally becomes really good at it.  A bit of a basic joke repeated four times, but done well.  Recommended.  324Yen.

Adventure Finders Chapters 1-16: Patreon.com - After finishing the Adventure Finders TPB below, I subscribed to Rod Espinosa's Patreon to get the rest of the story, since Book 1 was just about to wrap up.  (I did review the opening chapters in Digital Content a while back when Antarctic made it a free book online, but at the time it didn't grab me...seeing Rod post more bits and pieces to Facebook over the months changed my mind.)  Tracking down all the chapters through Patreon posts was a bit of a challenge, as several had been revised, renamed (sometimes an episode got redesignated as two chapters), and not all the links were still valid as a result.  Still, they're all there now.

Adventure Finders is your basic "Let's form a dungeon crawling group!" storyline set in a standard fantasy RPG world with various customization applied.  The main character is a strong female protagonist in a world where sexism is pretty institutionalized, and many of her allies are non-humans who suffer from racism.  Still, while many of the early antagonists are parts of the human power structure, these are more complications than villains for the most part.  Espinosa doesn't bog down in having the protagonists fight their own side (yet), instead presenting a more traditional Rampaging Evil Army as the main threat.  Oh, the bigots make things rough on the heroes, but are only really a problem when added on top of the Rampaging Evil Army.

Sometimes you can hear the dice rolling in the background, as it were, with game mechanics impinging on the story, but mostly it's an engaging set of interlocking coming of age stories.  The art is Espinosa's usual mix of hand-drawn (well, on a tablet these days) and CG, but better integrated than in the Neotopia days.  Recommended.  $1/month gets access to all the story posts, $5/month for bonus material (such as Espinosa's other series like DinoWars and Battle Girlz).


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

Adventure Finders vol 1: Antarctic Press - Covers episodes 1-4, or chapters 1-5, because of the earlier mentioned ongoing revision process.  You can actually get all of this by subscribing to the Patreon as well, but I mention it here for those who want to have a hardcopy.  Recommended.  $19.99

"#247 has got to be out there
somehere, we'll find it!"
The Hidden Witch: Graphix/Scholastic - Sequel to Molly Ostertag's "The Witch Boy."  The first book's main conflict involved how deviating from your society's expectations can cause significant problems, with family and friends pressuring someone to be something that they aren't.  This time, Ostertag flips to the other side of the coin, examining the problems that come with total freedom, with a lack of family and friends to support and guide you.  It's an effective contrast, because it helps reinforce the idea that it's extremism that's the enemy, in either direction.  Too much or too little society and there's problems.  More characters are brought into the gray area between magic-users and normals, and if there's still a lot of resistance among the older generation on both sides, the protagonists seem set on copying the old scientific adage: you don't change the minds of your opponents, you outlive them.  Recommended.  $12.99/$16.99Cn

Breakfast of the Godshttp://breakfastofthegods.com/ - This is a compilation of a webcomic from the 00s, plus bonus material Brendan Douglas Jones did before setting out on the epic storyline.  I was reminded of it this month, and in looking around for a current location (my bookmarks for it were long-since victims of link rot) I found that the hardcopy compilation was available, so I got it.  This collects the original three chapters, plus several one-page origin story bonus features done in the years since the webcomic completed.  This is a sweeping epic of a struggle fought for the heart and soul of Ceralia, the land of breakfast cereal mascots.  Sometimes it gets a bit sweary or gory for shock effect, but it's otherwise a solid tale of flawed heroes overcoming their own weaknesses to save the day.  Recommended.  $25.00


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.)

Spider-Geddon Handbook: Marvel - Basically an overall Spiderman-books update since the last handbook.  I don't recommend reading the main Spider-Man entry in one sitting, it's several years of plotlines all crammed together, throwing into harsh relief how questionable some of the storylines really were.  Generally useful and informative, although it has a glaring omission: it never actually says that Spider-Man from Earth-1048 is the video game character.  It just says he's from "Marvel's Spider-Man (2018)."  In fact, it's generally bad about noting when something came from a non-comics medium.  Mildly recommended.  $4.99

Spider-Force #3 (of 3): Marvel - Okay, I guess it didn't catch up to the opening scene of #1 until this issue.  Unfortunately, even as event tie-ins go, this was notably deficient in closure, just saying to see Spider-Geddon #5 (which I read a scan of, and it doesn't really connect cleanly, there's several pages' worth of bridging content missing).  It's also clear that Priest didn't consult anyone about science for this issue.  Very mildly recommended for some snappy patter.  $3.99

It's okay, it's an ironic selfie.
Ironheart #1: Marvel - Now that Riri has established her own identity independent of the Iron Man name, gotten her own lab, and generally gotten what she thought she wanted out of life...she can finally catch her breath and wonder what she actually wants out of life.  This is mainly a thematic setup issue, with writer Eve Ewing focusing on the "Why am I doing this?" matter.  The main villain presents an alternate take on the "genius armor-maker kid" in the form of relatively recent continuity implant Clash.  He actually comes out of the Spider-Man books, rather than Iron Man, but otherwise is a very good Dark Mirror to Riri herself...his failures at being a hero could be mapping out her future if she doesn't figure out why she wants to be a hero herself.  Or even if.  Where the usual Iron Man motivation is atonement (Tony became Iron Man before Iron Man really became a hero), Riri has been acting more out of a sense of responsibility and obligation.  She has a moral core, but it's unexamined.  Is she doing good to make others happy?  Because it's expected?  Because it's less hassle?  Ewing is definitely aiming at making that conflict the core of the series, with the actual fight scenes just providing context for her to regret her decisions.  Recommended.  $4.99

Deathstroke #38: DC - Some of the layers of gaslighting peel away, but more get thrown on.  Some things Deathstroke believes to be true are...well, the reader gets more reason to expect they happened, albeit via some unreliable narrators.  And a lot of what Deathstroke is still experiencing directly contradicts what other characters are experiencing, which suggests strongly what might be happening in Arkham.  Given how much the Bat-editorial office limits how much other titles can use anything Bat, Priest has managed to build a pretty impressive Arkham story.  Recommended.  $3.99

Catalyst Prime Astonisher #13 (vol 3 #4): Lion Forge - Speaking of layers of gaslighting, Priest is questioning the fundamental premise of the character he has inherited, and to some extent perhaps of the entire setting.  At the same time, there's finally a harsh contrast between what Astonisher can do in the Astral Realm and what he can't do in the real world.  On the plus side, from the coherence viewpoint, the flashbacks seem to be largely over.  Recommended.  $3.99

The Wrong Earth #4: Ahoy Comics - While Dragonflyman is surprisingly effective at detective work on Earth-Omega, the main thrust of this issue is to point out how dangerous the Earth-Alpha villains are in their own right...being grim and gritty and willing to kill doesn't necessarily make you the winner of a fight.  Good main story.  The backups are still having a hard time deciding if they want to be homage or farce, and end up being no good at either.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Rolled & Told #4: Lion Forge - I decided to give this another shot after the deliberately limited free issue #1.  Not really an improvement, and this one is outright missing the new monsters from one of the adventures.  The provided pages of counters print both sides but the instructions assume they're single-sided...generally badly edited.  I was hoping this could be a good successor to Dragon Magazine, but it's not managing that.  Neutral.  $7.99

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: the Tempest #3: Top Shelf/Knockabout - Comes bagged with 3-D glasses for a few pages of Blazing World fun.  Note, the lenses are on the dark side, you need very bright artificial light or just sunlight to really read the 3-D pages with the provided glasses.  Anyway, the story splits up to follow two groups of protagonist while letting James Bond stay mostly off-panel this issue.  The often-hinted-at Big Brother era gets its own story featuring a young Emma Night (aka Emma Peel), and the Seven Stars/future catastrophe plot gets more emphasis.  A perfectly followable story without needing annotations, although I'll be sure to read those once Jess gets to it.  Recommended.  Warning, contains 3-D nudity.  $4.99

My Little Pony Nightmare Knights #3 (of 5): IDW - In which the plan is put into action, and starts to go off the rails, but isn't COMPLETELY destroyed yet.  The cover teases a number of characters who don't actually appear...it's kinda disappointing that most of the interactions are with mooks or one of the two main villains.  Yeah, there's a need to tell a tight story here, but the "fight on the casino floor" set piece could have been set off by interaction with a known villain, rather than a generic.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #73: IDW - A fairly straightforward Magical Plot Device story, given a bit of a twist by letting the characters trying to solve the problem be a bit genre-savvy (see end quote).  Fluff, but well-done fluff.  Recommended.  $3.99

Star Trek vs. Transformers #3 (of 4): IDW - A mix of fighting and stalling while the Autobots and Federation get their own plot device in place to counter the Klingon/Decepticon alliance.  Not a lot of depth to this one, it's basically checking off the boxes to get to the climax at this point.  Mildly recommended, mostly for the fan service.  $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), owner of a new 1.25hp garage door opener, a long time online reviewer of comics, an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.

"What's easier to believe?  That she's just tired and acting strange, or that she's under the influence of some weird magical spell?  (everyone just gives her a 'you're kidding, right?' look)  Magical spell, you're right." - Twilight Sparkle, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #73
Dave's Capsules for December 2018 Dave's Capsules for December 2018 Reviewed by Dvandom on Friday, December 28, 2018 Rating: 5
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