Dave's Capsules for May 2019

Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Unstoppable Wasp v2 #7

In this installment: Adventure Finders Book 2 #2, FCBD Books (Dear Justice League, Midnight Sky #0, Dragonfly and Dragonflyman #1, Cristiano Ronaldo's Striker Force, The Tick, Kodansha Comics, CBLDF Defend Comics, Vampirella, Hope #1), The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #3, Captain Marvel #5, Marvel Rising #3 (of 5),  Ironheart #6, The Unstoppable Wasp v2 #7-8, Deathstroke #43, Teen Titans #30, Beasts of Burden: the Presence of Others #1, Kaijumax Season 4 #6 (of 6), My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #77, My Little Pony Spirit of the Forest #1 (of 3), Atomic Robo Dawn of a New Era #5 (of 5), Transformers #4-6.

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. 

Nothing this month.  Technically Batman/TMNT is out, but not on DVD yet, or any place I can legally get it.  (And I try to only review stuff I can get legally.)

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.

Lightsaber aside, this has nothing
to do with the Star Wars Edge of
Empire property.
Adventure Finders Book 2 #2: Patreon.com - So, if the main characters can be likened to a party of D&D adventurers mostly in the Level 5-7 range, the character who joins them is closer to, um, a Solar Exalted.  She actually first appeared in two issues under the "Edge of Empire" banner, available to the higher tier Patreon subscribers (and in print at some point in the past, I guess).  The Edge of Empire books are set in the same United Kingdoms world as Adventure Finders, but involve the major movers and shakers of the world, "endgame content" characters if you will.  They see the injustices of the society they protect, but have the power to trivially crush the wicked.  What's made clear in this issue is that Clari and her friends are subject to those same injustices and very much lack the power to crush the wicked.  Or even hold their own against the wicked.  In that respect, this is sort of a cut scene for the party, in which a powerful NPC protects them from someone who they'll eventually be able to handle on their own.  (There's also a bit of political caricature in this issue, but unless you follow Phillipines politics or Espinosa's facebook account, you won't know it's based on a real guy.)  Basically, this sets up the idea that Clari and the others won't always be able to overcome the evils of their own "side," while letting them survive the attempt.  In Book 1, they always managed to get through that sort of thing without unusual amounts of help (a few men-at-arms siding with them, that sort of thing), but now they're in it deep.  On the one hand, this raises the stakes immensely...it's not just casual sexism and a few jerks, it's a very powerful force in their world.  On the other hand, by bringing in one of the nigh-demigods from Edge of Empire, Espinosa shows that there's very powerful forces on the other side too.  Recommended.  $1/month basic pledge.


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

Nothing this month.

Free Comic Book Day 2019 Books:

My store's pretty cool about letting you just take whatever interests you, no limits or hassle, so I grabbed some stuff I might otherwise have left on the table.  As usual, these are basically meant as teasers to get you to pick up the series or the full GN, so I will simply mention if it did that for me (or would have if it was a series I didn't already get).
Cover aside, Man-Thing does not
appear in this comic.

Dear Justice League: DC - A few chapters of a young-readers GN.  Pretty twee, and while I do get a fair number of "aimed at little kids" comics, I won't be getting this one.

Scout Comics Presents Midnight Sky #0: Scout Comics - As with a lot of the smaller publisher FCBD offerings, this has short previews of several books and one-page ads for a bunch of others.  Midnight Sky, drawn by my brother, gets the cover and the lion's share of pages.  It does a good job of setting up the premise and making the reader start asking questions, although I'd be getting it anyway for obvious reasons.  Gutt Ghost is just nasty, and Long Live Pro Wrestling was meh.  Didn't really inspire me to add anything to my pull that wasn't already going there.

Dragonfly & Dragonflyman #1: Ahoy Comics - Set before the recent miniseries, with similar tales told in both light and dark universes.  It definitely sells the flavor of the two homages, although as a prequel it might have worked better last year.

Cristiano Ronaldo's Striker Force FCBD Special: Graphic India - I only vaguely knew who this guy was, mostly from a TV commercial in which he gets locked out of his hotel room and ogled by the maid.  As "why they need a sports star to join a super secret agency" premises go, it's not totally stupid (they have a Plot Device that needs to be delivered accurately at targets but can't be launched mechanically, so they need someone really good at accurate kicking), but the book as a whole is...not inspiring me to pick up the series.

The Tick FCBD 2019: NEC - Three short stories and some pinups.  Decent for the most part, but given my disappointment with the 2017-18 ongoing, it's not good enough to get me to give that book a second try.

Kodansha Comics FCBD Special: Kodansha Comics - Short chapters of Witch Hat Atelier, Magus of the Library, and a "collector's edition" of Cardcaptor Sakura.  The two I hadn't heard of before are "D&D through the Japanese lens" fantasy with minor twists to them, and none of the three books convinced me to pick up a series.  But this was one of those really long shot FCBD books I grabbed on a whim.

CBLDF Defend Comics 2019: CBLDF - Their yearly anthology is back, a sort of grab bag of pieces from various publishers (Oni, Boom, Abrams ComicArts).  There's no real theme this time, that I can discern, it feels more like CLBDF had a slot open and just asked around for submissions.  The only one that even sort of interested me was Bill Griffith's autobio comic, "Nobody's Fool," from Abrams.  The excerpt shows how in 1963 he first saw the movie Freaks!, which obviously helped inspire his most famous character, Zippy the Pinhead.

Vampirella v5 #0: Dynamite - So, I was a bit surprised to find out that Christopher Priest was going to be writing Vampirella, and the lead story in this issue sets up his basic hook: Vampirella's existence has become public knowledge (I guess in v4?) and now she has groupies and imitators to worry about.  The second story is a reprint of a Kurt Busiek/Art Adams story from 1993, which may or may not be in the same continuity.  (Vampirella's origins suffer from a bit of retcon churn, as far as I know...and the reprint makes it clear that this has been a problem for her for a while now.)  Definitely intriguing, if nothing else.  Will be adding to my pull.

Hope #1: Source Point Press - This one looked promising, with a non-sexualized female hero on the cover and a title like Hope.  But the actual story is about everything falling apart, evil government agencies, and the destruction (literal and figurative) of hope.  Pass.


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.)

The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #3: Marvel - Narrated by Kamala's mom, it takes most of the edge off the status change seen in #1 (hint to Too Cool For Captions writers: getting inside someone's head often helps!).  The actual plot is fairly standard: hero asked to help, things aren't what they seem, maybe both sides are bad guys, etc.  But what makes it different is that she's got her parents along for the ride.  Recommended.  $3.99

Captain Marvel (2019) v(something) #5: Marvel - Yeah, that's it for me.  Four issues in a pocket universe and now the book is diving into War of the Realms in #6...not a lot of chance that the stuff that interested me in #1 is going to get addressed any time soon, if at all.  Dropped.  $3.99

Marvel Rising #3 (of 5): Marvel - A decent middle part.  A lot of fighting, some exposition, the villain's goals are clarified, etc.  It does feel more like a tabletop RPG session than a single-writer story, though.  And while Quake's narration does get inside her head, it's more annoying than helpful.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Ironheart #6: Marvel - A done in one story in which Ironheart checks in on Miles Morales, who has been in too many books and needed to take a break after replicating one of Peter's biggest mistakes while over in Champions.  The villain appears to be new, and has no Grand Plan to worry about, but that doesn't mean he won't show up again (or hasn't shown up before, he could be just too obscure for me).  Decent character building issue.  Recommended.  $3.99

"You got me a cancellation for my birthday?
You shouldn't have.  Seriously."
The Unstoppable Wasp v2 #7: Marvel - Of COURSE the book's already been cancelled, with #10 slated to be the final issue.  This is Nadia's birthday party, with a huge crowd scene of heroes and supporting cast, many of whom Nadia is related to in some way or other (Viv Vision tries to explain all the family tree stuff, but throws an error message when she gets to Wiccan and Speed).  There's a little fighting, some of it Obligatory Marvel Misunderstanding, and some "you got me a fight scene for my birthday!"  Strongly recommended.  $3.99

The Unstoppable Wasp v2 #8: Marvel - Time for the science expo!  Of course, it's a trap, but it's not yet clear who set it and who's working with whom on it.  Also, there's more than one trap at more than one location, but given that the book is working towards a climax (which will now have to be the series finale), it's about time for all the traps to spring.  Throw in a bunch of new girl geniuses and some unpredictable supertech, and...maybe it would have been a better idea to hold this thing outside of city limits?  Recommended.  $3.99

Deathstroke #43: DC - The Terminus Agenda: Part 4 of 4.  Damian's always been torn between the examples set by his father and his mother, at least since meeting his father.  Deathstroke, whose own mask screams duality (a point not-Two-Face focused on in a recent arc) wants to help Damian just pick a side...preferably the one he considers sane, which is to say not Batman's.  Mostly a running fight throughout the Titans' home as the inmates of Damian's secret prison run amok and seek payback, but plenty of time for ethical debate.  Recommended.  $3.99

Teen Titans #30: DC - The Terminus Agenda: Epilogue.  For the most part, this is the inevitable "team has found out about the leader's dark side, and it's going to tear them apart" story, but it never quite reaches the "we quit" stage, as everyone's too busy fuming and fussing and occasionally fighting.  The indication is that while at least half the time finds Robin's actions morally repugnant (and aren't too keen on Red Arrow's actions), they've still become close enough in a short time that they're not quite ready to throw it all away without making an effort.  Unfortunately, they don't get a chance to find a resolution, as another complication shows up at the end.  Also unfortunately, I'm not interested enough to keep buying the book now that the crossover is over.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Beasts of Burden: the Presence of Others #1: Dark Horse Comics - This is another of those books I picked up after seeing a bunch of pages posted to Tumblr (although I haven't yet decided if I want to go back for trades of the previous volumes).  The basic premise is that a group of housepets are part of a network of protectors, keeping their territory safe from supernatural threats (and keeping an eye on supernatural stuff that's not really a threat, just in case).  This one opens with a group of mystically sensitive humans...who near as I can tell from a bit of dialogue here are the sidekicks when they work with Wise Dogs (and cats).  Not only can they understand animals, the animals can understand them (I guess previous volumes establish that normally the mystic animals can't understand human speech).  Interesting enough to keep up with, although horror isn't my usual thing.  Recommended.  $3.99

Kaijumax Season 4 #6 (of 6): Oni Press - In light of how Oni handled the "merger" with Lion Forge (more of a disembowelment) I'm rather less enthusiastic about the company, but I'll try to compartmentalize that and not let it color my review here.  Fortunately, adorable little Dinobot EMTs go a long way towards sweetening my mood.  (Little by kaiju scale, still not too much smaller than the Transformers ones.)  The two main plot threads (prison takeover by Goat, Chisato's pregnancy) both resolve in parallel, and frankly the second one is a lot more satisfying even though it doesn't involve any combat.  Lessons are learned, growth happens.  In the prison-side plot, much of what could have been learned is not (for plot device reasons), but at least the doctor regains her ethical agency.  Recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #77: IDW - The retconning of Discord continues, and the plot devices are all brought together so that things can get worse.  Some good schtick here and there from Cook and Price, but otherwise fairly predictable (and as noted last month, there's just too many Worse Than Discord cosmic entities running around in the comics lately).  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony Spirit of the Forest #1 (of 3): IDW - This is basically The Lorax retold in Equestria, with Filthy Rich in the role of Onceler.  Anderson's story is a touch heavy-handed in the "talking down to the kiddies" way, but not obnoxiously so (I'm looking at you, G.M. Berrow).  And while Brenda Hickey isn't as good as Andy Price, she's getting close in terms of visual storytelling and adding depth to the backgrounds.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Atomic Robo Dawn of a New Era #5 (of 5): IDW - The ALAN plotline dominates the issue, with the crystals of the hollow Earth one just getting a few pages to firmly establish that last issue's epiphany was the beginning, not the end.  Lots of character development (or at least character establishment) via debates about ALAN.  And the impending vampire invasion.  Oh yeah, that's sort of a problem on the very near horizon too.  It's always tricky to balance this sort of conflict without making someone out to be clearly wrong, but Clevinger manages it...everyone's right (except maybe whoever decided to see how fireproof ALAN is), but no one agrees.  It's just a matter of how everyone prioritizes the various stances.  Is the danger more important, or someone's rights?  Which danger is more important?  Whose rights?  And so forth.  Recommended.  $3.99

Transformers #4-6: IDW - It's made very clear in these issues that the solicitation bit about "a world that has never known violent death" was definitely an exaggeration.  There was a big war in living memory, but few of those who fought in it are still alive to remember it.  The Nominus Edict (which is frequently referenced, but finally spelled out in #6) is a reaction to that war, an attempt to bring security and stability through ethical means.  And it IS ethical...while many cracks are appearing in Cybertronian civilization, it's not because there's some secret "energon is made of people" sort of deal.  It's just that a growing number of Cybertronians find it stifling, and that's leading to unrest.  Now, it's still possible that Brainstorm was killed over some Horrible Secret At The Core Of Society, but Ruckley does seem to be going for something a little more subtle than that.  He probably did find something that would tip the delicate balance, but not necessarily away from the Edicts.  One of the big points made in the flashbacks is that Megatron thinks all equilibrium is unstable, and requires only the tiniest of pushes to upset, so Brainstorm's death was probably over something seemingly tiny.  Oh, and Rubble gets in over his head in #5, but #6 is mostly Optimus Prime remembering stuff, so we don't see how Rubble fares yet.  Recommended.  $3.99 each.

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), doesn't watch Game of Thrones but found the Star vs. the Forces of Evil series finale to be pretty satisfying, 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.

"PRIYA IS ALSO VERY EXCITED!"  "I AM WEIRDLY INVESTED IN THIS RELATIONSHIP!  I JUST WANT YOU ALL TO BE HAPPY AND HAVE LITTLE ASSASSIN ENGINEER BABIES!" - Nadia and Priya, The Unstoppable Wasp v2 #7 (and yes, they're jumping up and down and shouting gleefully)
Dave's Capsules for May 2019 Dave's Capsules for May 2019 Reviewed by Dvandom on Thursday, May 30, 2019 Rating: 5
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