Dave's Capsules for August 2019

Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus,

In this installment: Avengers Endgame, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, Lego DC Batman: Family Matters, Adventure Finders Book 2 #3, Agents of Atlas #1, Ghost Spider #1, Ironheart #9, Death's Head #2 (of 4), History of the Marvel Universe #2 (of 6), Deathstroke #46, Vampirella vol 5 #2, My Little Pony Spirit of the Forest #3 (of 3), My Little Pony Feats of Friendship #1 (of 3), My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #81, Transformers #10-11, Transformers/Ghostbusters #3 (of 5), Transformers '84 #0.

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. 

Avengers Endgame: Marvel - I finally bought a Blu-Ray player (DVD recorder was starting to go wonky) and bought this on Blu-Ray at the same time...but because I'd hurt my back and installing the player would require some contortions, I watched the Vudu version instead (I did watch the extras later on the BR).  The movie runs in three main chunks: pointless vengeance against Thanos, the Time Heist, and then a huge running battle against Thanos and all his armies.  They only really lightly brush against how the world was affected by The Snap...sure, lots of people mourning at memorials, some mention of how the remaining heroes are holding things together, but there's a lot of stuff that just gets ignored (e.g. "Did all the accounts of Snapped people get frozen, or are they liable for five years of late fees?").  Sure, most of that is unimportant to the plot and frankly kinda boring to most people, but a few throwaway lines from the more comedy-aligned characters would have gone a long way to at least showing the issues existed.  ("The good news is my probation ended while I was gone, the bad news is that they sold my Twitter handle," Scott Lang sighed.)  Once the time heist segment gets underway the pace picks up, and the brain-mangling begins (others have written in an attempt to hash out the issues there).  Frankly, I would have preferred if this were split into two movies, not just because three hours is a bit long...the first movie would have had the vengeance bit and then expanded on the Half A World setting, ending with the "We can fix this!" setting up the time heist.  Then the second movie would be the Time Heist and Big Damn Battle.  Still, lots of good bits, and closure to the overall Avengers arc.  Recommended.  Price varies by store and format.

Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus: Nickelodeon/Netflix - Technically, Zim isn't a comics property per se, but the opening sequence of Enter the Florpus adapts the opening arc of Oni's Zim comic (or the comic was used to test out the planned opening act, depending on how long Florpus was in development).  While it didn't pick up on all the threads from the show, it was very much a worthy successor.  Strongly recommended.  (Part of Netflix subscription, presumably will be out on disc at some point.)

Lego DC Batman: Family Matters: DC/WB - While I did recently buy a BluRay player as noted above, I decided there was no extra benefit to the BR version and a seven dollar difference, so I got the DVD...with Batmobile Lego set.  It's one of those 3-in-1 sets, with instructions for the main Batmobile (as seen in the movie), plus online instructions for the Tumbler and Batwing (also seen in the movie).  And yes, I'm a bit more enthusiastic about the included Lego set than the actual movie.  This is not the same Batman as in the Lego Movies, nor the one in the direct to video Lego Justice League movies...this Batman seems to exist in a world where only the Bat Family and their villains exist, no other heroes or villains.  And this is one of the worst Batman versions outside of those who are actively evil...he finds being Bruce Wayne such a burden that at the first opportunity he sells Wayne Industries so that he can be Batman full time, and this focus causes most of the problems in the movie.  They also try to do the Jason Todd as Red Hood thing in a kid-friendly way, which is...really awkward.  Ultimately, the plot is pretty weak, but there's plenty of good bits along the way.  Mildly recommended.  Price varies with 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.

Adventure Finders Book 2 #3: Patreon.com - (Action Lab is now publishing it in floppy form.)  Most of the "hometown" plot threads get some level of resolution in preparation for the heroes setting out on the road again, although a few are very clearly just temporary solutions to problems that are only going to get worse.  The Hundred Kingdoms are clearly headed for some sort of revolt as the misogynistic, racist, and generally "only our demographic are really people, the rest of you are animals" church of Arao continues to squeeze into public and private life.  While Clari and her friends get some small victories this issue, and we see several instances of how not all men are Arao-ist garbage, the hopeful atmosphere as they set out on another quest is very brittle.  In real life, the common folk in favor of tolerance and inclusion almost never beat off the rising tide of intolerant supremacy once it has gotten to the point it has armies, it takes being smashed by another state.  But this is fantasy, so maybe Clari and her friends have a chance....  Recommended.  $1/month level on Patreon, or it'll eventually come out in paper form. 


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

Nothing this month.


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.)

Agents of Atlas (2019) #1: Marvel - So, during War of the Realms, they decided to relaunch Agents of Atlas in order to make the world-wide conflict a little more world-wide.  The only connection to Parker's Agents, though, is that Jimmy Woo is in ultimate charge and Atlas is backing this.  Otherwise, it's "Pan-Asian Avengers," basically.  Amadeus "Brawn, not Hulk" Cho is kinda leading the team, Silk is on it despite being a New Yorker, and the rest of the team are all fairly recent creations.  I'm getting flashbacks to Contest of Champions here, but at least most of these characters appeared somewhere at least once before being recruited into AoA.  (There is a backup story with the "real" Agents of Atlas going on a rescue mission and meeting one of Mr. Lao's rivals, one Mr. Thong, written by Parker.)  Anyway, the main story is about how useless Cho is...wait, no, that's just a running theme.  It's about someone trying to create what amounts to an Inner Kingdom connecting cities all over the world, a backdoor sneakernet if you will.  Mildly recommended.  I'll give it the first arc.  $4.99 (full sized main story, plus backup)

Ghost Spider (2019) #1: Marvel - Speaking of ways to get around from city to city via plot device level tech, Ghost Spider has decided that the best way to have something resembling a personal life in the wake of her ID being revealed at the end of her previous series is to make a deal with Meph...er, to enroll at Empire State University in Earth-616.  They have a robust program for extremely non-traditional students, funded by Tony Stark.  I've only been occasionally skimming stuff from the previous series, but Seanan McGuire does a good job of catching the new reader up on all the situations (including the fact her costume is made of spiders...ooookay).  I'm a little leery of the choice of the next main villain (and the scene transition at the end is a bit unclear, so at first I thought she was still in 616), but it's an otherwise strong start.  Recommended.  $3.99

Ironheart #9: Marvel - Okay, so I knew going in that the comics Shuri is not the movie Shuri.  She's grown up, has spent time as the Black Panther, etc.  But I haven't really read much with her to this point, so I still think of the MCU Shuri as the "real" one.  So it's kind of a shock when Ironheart is 1000% more "Shuri" than the actual Shuri is.  Irreverent tech genius with a real mouth on her, who understands all the formalities but just doesn't think they're as important as everyone says.  Comics Shuri really gets her back up when facing what amounts to her much younger self.  Fortunately, before the two can blow up half the planet in their shouting match, the main plot intercedes and they have to fight it off, in the grand Marvel tradition of "first they fight, then they team up against the real threat and become allies."  Recommended.  $3.99
Kids, yes?

Death's Head #2 (of 4): Marvel - I was a bit worried that there'd be a rush to get Death's Head into the new emo body, but Tini Howard has better plans.  For the longest time, the standard Death's Head reboot story has involved the original somehow coming afoul of some sort of machinations and getting replaced, or the writer just invoking time travel and sorta-rebooting the original by saying this one hasn't run into those machinations yet.  Howard does something different, and the machinations get all up in DH's machinery, but as yet he's not replaced.  Not pleased, yes?  But not replaced.  No, the replacement this time is on the other end of the spanner.  The new Mark V version, nicknamed "Vee," is still a bit annoying, but he's just a kid, I'm sure with a role model like the original, he'll be just...hurm.  Well, it'll be entertaining, at least, yes?  Recommended.  $3.99

History of the Marvel Universe #2 (of 6): Marvel - Early 1900s through the launch of Reed Richards and friends in their rocket, whatever year that happened to be.  The Galactus/Franklin framing device doesn't directly appear, and they continue to follow the narrative version with an annotated out-of-setting summary of the events in question.  The big thing this issue is making official a retcon that had been creeping in over the years: Sin-Cong (originally Siancong), a fictional country between Vietnam and China that often stood in for Vietnam, is now the site of a generation-long simmering conflict that contains all the Korean War and Vietnam War experiences of various Marvel characters who couldn't be old enough to have actually fought in those conflicts...and also the WWII service of Reed Richards and Ben Grimm.  So, unless the character was very long-lived (Nick Fury, Wolverine) or somehow skipped over much of the intervening time (Captain America, Winter Soldier, Red Skull), any experience in any war can now be assumed to have taken place in Sin-cong.  A useful resource on top of the retcon elements.  Recommended.  $4.99

Deathstroke #46: DC - Rose and Shado spar while Jericho gets a little visit from Acton Lord...er, Lex Luthor.  Power corrupts, but no special green ink on the cover this time around.  Priest has been at plenty of rodeos by this point, and knows how to take advantage of a Mega Event Crossover to advance his story, rather than letting it get derailed...all you need to know about Year of the Villain is contained here, in a few lines, and it's the impact on these characters that's far more important than whatever Lex's big plan might be.  Oh, and Hosun gets a job offer in the Hague, for a rather low salary.  Recommended.  $3.99

Vampirella vol 5 #2: Dynamite - More therapy for Vampi, flashbacks onto her attempts to find a direction to her life.  A little vigilante justice, a little speed dating, a little mayhem alongside gun-toting nuns...you know, as one does.  The second woman seen in the FCBD issue wearing Vampirella's costume shows up in this issue, and one wonders if she's an even bigger stalker than the first, or if maybe she was after Vampi for other reasons before they even met.    A bit of "late night basic cable" level nudity here and there, so you might not want to read it in church.  Unless your church employs gun-toting monster hunter nuns.  Dr. Chary continues to believe exactly none of this.  Recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony Spirit of the Forest #3 (of 3): IDW - Yeah, pretty much ended the way they should've started off trying to solve it.  And, to some extent, they DID try it this way in the first issue, but it didn't work.  After trying all the wacky hijinks and circling back, they tried again and it worked, I guess.  Mostly because a supporting character decided that after a few issues mostly off-screen, she was ready to help.  So...could have been a decent one-shot or annual, but as a three issue mini it felt padded and made the protagonists seem like observers.  Very mildly recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony Feats of Friendship #1 (of 3): IDW - Okay, I don't have high hopes for this one.  It's basically repeating Cozy Glow's "make the Student 6 stop being friends" plot from Season 8, but with a new antagonist who is a servant of someone else.  I think we'd have been better off with a straight adaptation of the Cozy Glow story.  Neutral.  $3.99

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #81: IDW - Another done-in-one story, this time by Thom Zahler.  It's about the only Earth Pony to be a Wonderbolt, and...well, let's just say it almost has to take place after the last canonical appearance of Scootaloo, otherwise there's no plausible reason she wouldn't emulate the plot device.  Which appears to just be DaVinci-level tech, rather than using some magical materials...although it's never really explained.  Involving Scootaloo at all in this issue without letting her take advantage of the plot device really muddles any attempt at a Moral To The Story, though.  "It's okay to use technology to compensate for a broken wing or a lack of wings, but if you just have a birth defect you just get to stay on the ground"?  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Transformers #10-11: IDW - The Autobot senators dither and are useless, Orion Pax is mostly useless, but at least most of the behind the scenes stuff gets laid out clearly in these two issues.  No, (character) isn't really on the side of the bad guys.  No, (other character) isn't an innocent idealist.  And so forth.  I presume #12 will mostly be a big fight scene...or maybe a big parliamentary boondoggle involving proroguing.  But the mysteries are all laid pretty bare at this point.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99 each.

Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Issue
Transformers/Ghostbusters #3 (of 5): IDW - Optimus comes to Earth and gets a new paint job, but it's not the SDCC-exclusive one.  Maybe he'll get that next issue.  This is mostly moving pieces around and getting a breather from the whole Kremzeek main plot (although some bits show up that seem related), the highlight is Venkman.  Especially his chat with Starscream.  Recommended.  $3.99

Transformers '84 #0: IDW - A prequel to the Marvel series.  It is very fanficky, in that it's all about two things: explaining away stuff that someone wasn't willing to just roll with, and making noble characters less noble.  It's also Furman at his most kill-happy, resulting in this prequel being incompatible with the ReGeneration One sequel (which, yes, was explicitly an alternate timeline, but now it has to have diverged before Marvel Transformers #1, rather than diverging after #80 as was mostly assumed).  Basically, he kills several characters who were important in ReGenOne.  And a few more he saw on the way there.  The art tries to look kinda G1, which mostly means distractingly busy inking and flat colors with fake Ben-Day Dots.  It also keeps jumping around in time without a good visual cue to what era is being shown, so the story ends up very disjointed.  It's not a good nostalgia book, because visually it's in the uncanny valley between modern and 80s comic art, and the story goes out of its way to essentially say, "The heroes of your youth had feet of clay."  This is more of a 1990s "learned the wrong lessons from Watchmen" Iron Age comic.  Meh.  $4.99

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 "Badger Beginnings Champion 2019" at work, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.

"Two exposition-heavy minutes later." - Caption in Transformers/Ghostbusters #3 (of 5)
Dave's Capsules for August 2019 Dave's Capsules for August 2019 Reviewed by Dvandom on Friday, August 30, 2019 Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.