Dave's Capsules for April 2019

Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): The Unstoppable Wasp G.I.R.L. Power TPB, The Unstoppable Wasp Fix Everything TPB, The Unstoppable Wasp v2 #6

In this installment: Aquaman (movie), Justice League vs. the Fatal Five, Adventure Finders Book 2 #1, The Unstoppable Wasp G.I.R.L. Power TPB, The Unstoppable Wasp Fix Everything TPB, Marvel Action Black Panther #1, The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #2, Captain Marvel #4, Marvel Rising #2 (of 5),  Ironheart #5, The Unstoppable Wasp v2 #6, Teen Titans #28, Deathstroke #42, Teen Titans #29, Synergy: A Hasbro Creators Showcase, Tangled The Series Hair and Now #1, Atomic Robo Dawn of a New Era #4 (of 5), Transformers #3.

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

"Eye have a clever plan."
Aquaman: DC/WB - I didn't see this in theaters due to there being just too many movies coming out over the holidays and too little patience for local theaters, so it marks my first new theatrical movie in a few months.  In some ways, this follows the standard Monomyth storyline...hero finds out about his past, needs to take up a Great Destiny, travels to various exotic locales and comes into his full power in time to face the Big Bad.  But it has critical differences...Aquaman is no callow youth, he already knows about and rejects the basics of his heritage, and he doesn't need to learn to be a hero.  He already is one, his gruff demeanor notwithstanding.  Ultimately, the lesson he learns is that he doesn't have to accept his Great Destiny in full, he can make his own version of it, an interesting twist on the Campbellian structure.  Recommended.  Price varies by format.

Justice League vs. the Fatal Five: DC/WB - This is another DCAU-style PG-13 direct to video movie like the Batman & Harley thing from 2018.  What does PG-13 mean in this case?  More cussing, and a partial view of Thom Kallor's naked butt, basically.  Well, more seriously, it does delve more deeply into Jessica Cruz's PTSD issues than a made for kidvid show might, and Thom's modern-day mental illness problems.  And ultimately, this is Jessica and Thom's fight, the rest of the Justice League is barely more involved than the Legion of Super-Heroes is.  The climactic fight does feel a little deus ex machina, though.  Mildly recommended.  Price varies by 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.

Adventure Finders Book 2 #1: Patreon.com - Espinosa didn't let a little 6.1 magnitude earthquake keep him from getting this out in April.  Book 1 ended with Clari pretty beat up from all of the combat and running and combat and betrayal, so Book 2 starts with her finally finishing her recovery and finding that things are...unsettled.  All little things at the moment, providing conflict and perhaps some foreshadowing without totally undermining the well-deserved respite the crew got.  Of course, all good things must come to an end, and for all the everyday petty problems with petty solutions, the greater world won't stay at bay forever.  Recommended.  $1/month for access.


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

The Unstoppable Wasp: G.I.R.L. Power TPB: Marvel - So, I'd heard talk about this series for a while, usually in the context of "Why does Marvel keep cancelling great books like _____?" discussions.  But last month I saw a big chunk of pages from the then-current issue (v2 #5) posted to Tumblr, and liked what I saw.  So I checked out a scan of the full issue, and then looked up how much the TPB would cover (#1-5, conveniently!), so put the series on my pull starting with #6 and started ordering TPBs.  Now, the original series turned out to have three TPBs, with this one collecting the whole series but the other two being four issues plus backup material.  This "omnibus" (minibus?) edition of all 8 issues of the previous series uses a slightly smaller page size, 6"x9", not quite a digest but not full comic page size either.

"Someone removed the Fourth Wall!"
Anyway, on to the content.  Those parts of the Pym family tree that aren't robotic are retconned, or at least that's the impression one has to get after a while.  His first wife was killed as part of his backstory, then in West Coast Avengers revealed to be alive and turned into SODAM (later MODAM), and then later that was revealed to not be Maria Pym after all, and she was dead.  The core conceit of the new Wasp is that while she did die, it wasn't when Hank thought, but long enough afterward that she gave birth to the daughter he never knew and never met.  (He is currently dead again, death being nohow permanent is also part of his family tree.)  Nadia was raised in the Red Room (Soviet-era spy training program that thanks to the sliding timeline had to be active for quite some time after the fall of the USSR) to be a combination assassin and super-scientist, which gives her a great skillset for being a superhero.  But she quickly realizes that her biggest and best contribution would be to help mentor the next generation of girl geniuses, leading to Genius in Action Research Labs, or G.I.R.L.  While Janet Van Dyne and Bobbi Morse act as mentor figures (and funding source, in Janet's case), Whitley puts his money where his premise is by recruiting a group of complete unknowns to join Nadia in her efforts.  While there's plenty of fight scenes, a lot of the conflicts are social, or at least Nadia tries to make them social rather than resorting to asskicking.  Nadia's external past comes knocking, and is eventually dealt with in a way that looks like a win for now.  Charretier's art on the first six issues has a vaguely indie flavor to it, while still being suitable for superhero stuff.  The last two each have different artists, who have a more standard superhero comics style, but they manage to keep the character designs consistent.  Fleshing out the TPB are a cover gallery, design pages, and the FCBD Marvel Rising story.  Strongly recommended.  $12.99/$16.99Cn

The Unstoppable Wasp: Fix Everything TPB: Marvel - And just under the wire, I get to be fully caught up on Unstoppable Wasp.  And this one has regular comic size pages, covering #1-5 of the current series.  The various social conflicts and their resolutions continue this issue (and this may be the first time I've seen a comics caption describe someone as "tiny gay disaster"), but there's also a strong theme to the new threats in this edition.  Where Nadia's physical upbringing formed the main threats in the previous volume, this time around it's all about the Pym Legacy as the real threat...both internal and external.  It starts with an external threat, but Nadia's overreaction to it leads her into her first serious manic episode...which the Gurihiru studio artists portray with haunting effectiveness.  Strongly recommended.  $15.99/$20.99Cn (yeah, more cost for fewer issues)


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.)

Marvel Action Black Panther #1: Marvel/IDW - This is my first Marvel Action book, part of a line of titles Marvel is farming out to IDW.  I ordered it on the strength of Kyle Baker being the writer, but I'm a bit disappointed in how the story could be told with almost any superhero with decent connections in government or industry.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #2: Marvel - Looks like another "get 'em out of the way during the crossover" arc like Captain Marvel.  However, between last issue and this, Ahmed does a decent job of establishing who Kamala is and how others relate to her, even if the interactions are fairly short and heavy on expository dialogue.  The problem I had with last issue has been put on pause, and will probably get resolved in some fashion by the trip to somewhere else.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Captain Marvel (2019) v(something) #4: Marvel - Throwing characters into an unfamiliar environment can be a good way to explore sides of their personality that don't normally emerge.  The thing is, you really need to establish the regular personalities first, otherwise it's just a bunch of unfamiliar characters who may or may not deal with this sort of thing on a regular basis.  Yeah, a shared universe means you get to assume a certain level of knowledge on the part of the reader, but the load placed on the reader in this story just ends up making everyone feel generic.  It really should not have been the first arc in a new "get readers who saw the movie to buy the comic" series.  There should have been several more issues in the mold of #1, introducing Jessica and Jennifer and Hazmat and so forth, so that the Makhizmo storyline could then be used to show new sides of those characters.  Even Carol barely gets back from another world before being tossed into another world.  I strongly suspect this was done so that she could have a non-War Of Realms storyline to kick off her new title, but in the old days you could just put a caption, "This issue happens before the events of Big Crossover That Messes Everyone's Storylines Up" or something.  Neutral.  $3.99

Marvel Rising #2 (of 5): Marvel - A lot of fighting and bickering (sometimes at the same time), more of the characters in the merch show up and a lot of the dialogue is catching everyone up on each others' relationships and histories.  I mean...I guess the plot advances a little, but so much of this issue is treading water while everyone gets onto the same pages.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Ironheart #5: Marvel - Ah, good, a break in the angsting.  Only a minor victory, perhaps, but Riri is back to being an active participant in her life instead of bouncing around from obstacle to obstacle, which formed a sort of malaise for the last three issues.  It's not entirely a "sudden badass conversion" plot device, fortunately, but she's stopped coasting and started processing...whatever happened to her in an issue visually referenced but never actually named.  (Yeah, I'm still annoyed that they've decided to mix tight continuity with a total lack of editor's notes.  Readers who missed important stories should be told where to find 'em, not expected to have already read everything.)  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

To the Justice Mass Transit!
The Unstoppable Wasp v2 #6: Marvel - Okay, I did kinda read things out of order here.  Like, WAY out of order (#5 scans, v1 TPB, this issue, THEN the v2 TPB).  But unlike Ironheart, I never really felt left behind.  Whitley definitely does a better job than Ewing at making sure important stuff gets brought up often enough that new readers aren't lost (Nadia does a lot of narrating to herself via captions, but there's also nametags and short info bits on important characters when they first appear in an issue, a manga/anime touch that nicely replaces the old school comics caption style in terms of keeping readers up to date).  I don't know if Gurihiru decided to stop identifying as just a studio or if maybe that was just a thing for the TPB, but Alti Firmansyan gets specific art credits this issue.  They have the standard manga-inflected style of most Gurihiru stuff, with a bit of a Totally Spies feel to it...except where Shay's mom is concerned.  Weirdly, she doesn't fit the style at all, looking more like something out of J. Scott Campbell's Gen13 work.  I wonder if this was just a weird happenstance (maybe Firmansyah was working from someone else's model sheets on the rest, but had to come up with their own design for Mama Shay?) or if it was a deliberate comment on her personality?  Anyway, a very enjoyable read, and a great thematic followup to the "Fix Everything" disaster, in which honest attempts are made to fix things the right way.  Strongly recommended.  $3.99

Teen Titans #28: DC - The Terminus Agenda: Part 1 of 4.  I haven't really been following Teen Titans since the last crossover, but it looks like Damian's latest obsession has been "I won't kill, but I will lock criminals up forever in a secret prison in my basement."  Yeah, no way that could backfire on him with former Deathstroke teammate (and got no more time for that kinda stuff) Kid Flash on the Titans again.  Anyway, after being manipulated into some pretty hard to excuse actions recently, Deathstroke has shot to the top of Damian's basement guest list, and in this issue the team helps him capture Slade.  It's fairly well captioned and exposited for anyone just coming on board for the crossover (like me), and while Priest's name isn't on the cover he's in the credits as co-writing.  It definitely shows in some of the structure, and Deathstroke's voice (and virtual Wintergreen's) is on point.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Deathstroke #42: DC - The Terminus Agenda: Part 2 of 4.  Interestingly, Glass doesn't get any writing credit here, but Priest doesn't get any in part 3, so maybe they only felt the need to collaborate more closely on the first part (or upper editorial decided they didn't like split writing credits).  Way back near the beginning of this series, Deathstroke discovered that capturing Damian was much like the Ransom of Red Chief.  Time to return the favor.  Well, technically he's helping Damian deal with his displaced father (and grandfather) issues, but his helpfulness is suspect.  Oh, and Jericho has a few pages, because this issue is all about dysfunctional family ties.  Recommended.  $3.99

Teen Titans #29: DC - The Terminus Agenda: Part 3 of 4. Everyone wallows in their suspicion and unease except Roundhouse, who helps several characters come to a decision about what they need to do.  In one case, definitely a good thing.  In another case...maybe a bit painful for everyone.  But definitely for Damian.  Okay, both cases might cause Damian problems, but one is a lot more immediate.  An interesting read, but not really enough to keep me buying the book after this issue.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Synergy: a Hasbro Creators Showcase One-Shot: IDW - Delayed from last month, and honestly kind of disappointing.  Very heavy on the pin-ups, a lot of which are from existing covers, and a handful of short stories (two of which are basically autobiographical).  Katie Cook's autobio piece was amusing, and Maighread Scott's autobio piece was interesting.  The other three vignettes (Arcee, new Snake Eyes, Jem's Stormer) were each three pages and could have used more pages taken away from cover reprints to develop their concepts a little better.  Mildly recommended.  $7.99

Disney's Tangled The Series Hair and Now #1: IDW - I picked this up on impulse because it's written by Katie Cook, whose work I usually like (MLP, Gronk, Nothing Special).  But this just didn't grab me.  Technically a mystery, but pretty straightforwards, and without any real side stories going on in the background to liven things up.  Artist Catalano stays on-model, and I was able to follow everything despite having only watched the first few episodes of the series, but...eh.  A few decent gags, but it felt a little too bland.  Mildly recommended, but I won't be picking up any other issues.  $3.99

Atomic Robo Dawn of a New Era #4 (of 5): IDW - As the penultimate issue of the arc, it is appropriately loaded up with "OH S***" moments.  I mean, there's enough build-up for another two arcs, which I guess is Clevinger's plan.  The first half is fairly light "find a job for Jenkins to keep him and the new recruits out of trouble," which has some good gags in it, but then it's all "YOU DID WHAT?" and "NOW I SEE IT ALL!" reveals.  Recommended.  $3.99

Transformers #3: IDW - Technically twice a month, but this month only one shipped.  The overly utopian backstory promised in solicits gets a little more plausible this issue, at the cost of a LOT of infodump.  (It's more of an extended interbellum, plenty of Cybertronians have known full on warfare, but not the majority.)  One of my big concerns with Ruckley was that he'd set up such an idyllic Cybertron that most plots would be extended cases of someone carrying the Idiot Ball because they'd never done this sort of thing before, but it's more comparable to the extended periods of relative peace and stasis in many Egyptian or Chinese Dynasties.  Although, given the brief mention of the Nominus Edict (which the Ascenticons are protesting), perhaps the Pax Romana might be a better analogy, complete with firmly established boundaries to stop any growth.  Still somewhat slow-moving, but the Last Page Reveal suggests things might start to move faster soon enough.  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), won't get on anyone's case for Endgame spoilers even though he won't see it for a few months, is 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.

"Well, what's [Jenkins] do in his spare time?"  "Intensifying isn't really an answer, is it?" - Foley and Robo, Atomic Robo Dawn of a New Era #4 (of 5)
Dave's Capsules for April 2019 Dave's Capsules for April 2019 Reviewed by Dvandom on Monday, April 29, 2019 Rating: 5
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