Dave's Capsules for January 2021


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

In this installment: Monster Force Zero, Overwatch Tracer - London Calling #4 (of 5), The League of Regrettable Superheroes, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, The Other History of the DC Universe #2 (of 5), Maestro: War and PAX #1 (of 5), The Rise of Ultraman #5 (of 5), Shang-Chi #5 (of 5), Marvel Action Avengers 2020 #3 (of 12?), The Wrong Earth; Day and Night #1 (of 6?), Sacred Six #6, Kaijumax Season 5 #6 (of 6), Big Girls #6 (of 6?), My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #93-94, ROM Dire Wraiths #3 (of 3), Transformers #26-27.

Yeah, a lot of "is this a limited series, and if so, how many issues?" lately.  And five issue miniseries are definitely the new hotness.

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Nothing, although I got a few things too late to really give them proper attention before review time.

"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.

Monster Force Zero: Wild Eye Releasing - I'd never heard of this before seeing it on the shelf for ten bucks at Walmart, but looking it up I found that it was a GoFundMe project...and man, it really shouldn't have been funded.  About the only good thing I can say about this is that the writer/producer didn't put himself in it as the star.  I couldn't even make myself watch most of the first half, which was trying to hard for camp and missing so badly.  The premise...I hesitate to call it a plot...is that two rival groups of cosplayers (one established, one new and cosplaying characters out of their indie comic book) are approached by Mysterious Forces and compete for superhuman powers which they will use to save the world from evil aliens, and the protagonist group are characters from their comic Monster Force Zero.  Lots and lots of footage shot at an actual convention floor or after-hours in the same hotel or some nearby woods.  There's an obligatory "isn't that the guy from the thing?" cameo probably picked because he was at the convention, some pretty bad fight choreography even by the standards of grade Z movies, and lots of trying to be "so bad it's good," but missing out on the second half.  Ugh.  $10 and not worth it even a little.

I picked up Batman: Soul of the Dragon and Doom Patrol S2 in the waning days of the month, I'll review them next month (hopefully I can get through all of DP by then!).

Digital Content:

Unless I find a really compelling reason to do so (such as a lack of regular comics), I won't be turning this into a webcomic review column.  Rather, stuff in this section will generally be full books available for reading online or for download, usually for pay.

Punk will rise again.

Overwatch Tracer - London Calling #4 (of 5)
: Dark Horse - Lena's harness is malfunctioning badly, causing her to slip in and out of time, and it's implied (if not clearly stated) that her blip that led to Mondatta's death was not an intentional dodge but instead was an early sign of the malfunction.  The main thrust of the issue, though, is that Omnics are too human in every way, including the bad ones.  Lena's punk friend starts to let go of her anger and start looking for the truth, but finding it makes things even worse.  A lot of angst and sneaking around, a deliberately bleak tone for just before the resolution.  Mildly recommended, but it's free in this format, so give it a shot.


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

The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Quirk Books - This is from 2015, I hit a "new" local used bookstore (extension of a store in the next town over, with mostly stock bought from a used book store that used to be in the same strip mall as my comic shop) and picked up this and the Black Dossier below.  This is one of those "coffee table books but smaller" deals, heavy on pictures and a little "clever" writing.  It's split into eras, with an attempt to show that every era has some bad ideas, but a lot of it feels like it was edited by whim, or that the writer wasn't that familiar with some eras so just looked up other people's ideas of bad superheroes until there were enough to fill the section.  It's also notable that a few of the "regrettable" heroes, like Phantomah, actually have a small fanbase these days.  Mildly recommended, no price on back as mine was a LootCrate edition.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier: America's Best Comics - I don't know why I didn't pick this up when it came out in 2007, it's not like I was unemployed or without a comics shop.  Maybe I was turned off by the 3-D glasses gimmick and the text-heavy nature, not realizing that it was meant to be a sourcebook...as I am a sucker for sourcebooks.  (The 3-D is still super annoying, though.  I had to use a strong flashlight to get enough light on it to read the pages, and it gave me a headache.)  Anyway, there's a 1950s framing sequence in which Mina and Alan are breaking into Fauxhall (MI6) to see what the government knows about their recent activities, having severed ties before the postwar Big Brother government took power.  In between sections of their flight from James Bond, Bulldog Drummond, and Emma Night (Peel), they and we get to read sections of the Black Dossier.  It sometimes breaks character, such as the inclusion of a bit of porn for the proles that has nothing to do with the League, but mostly it's stories about various extraordinary folks throughout the ages.  It introduces Orlando, who figures heavily in the later League books, as well as Prospero, the Blazing World, and a bunch of other stuff that didn't fit into the regular stories of the previous volumes.  It's an interesting if sometimes dense read (and the Kerouac riff is particularly off-putting), best read in a well-lit but private location thanks to the 3-D, the nudity, and the 3-D nudity.  Recommended with those caveats.  $29.99 new.
The Other History of the DC Universe #2 (of 5): DC Black Label - This issue focuses on Bumblebee and Mal.  While Bumblebee's gotten a lot more visibility in recent years thanks to the decision to include her in the Teen Titans cartoon and then the DC Superhero Girls cartoons, Mal and his concept flail have been largely ignored.  While this bit of meta was touched on a little, Ridley focused more on how the two grew up and found a life outside of being superteam tokens.  It's told as a sort of dueling narrative, with Mal getting a few pages, then Karen breaking in to point out how she saw that and pick up the story for a bit, then back to Mal, etc.  Karen is cast as a bit of a straw skeptic, especially in the matter of Mal wrestling the angel of death (she can accept stuff like Superman or Raven, but not that Mal actually encountered an angel?), and also tends to cast herself in a better light than Mal casts himself, while the combined narrative makes it clear that he's better than he thinks and she's not as rational or sensible as she thinks.  It ties the events to the real world dates of publication, which makes some of the aging weird, running from 1970 through the late 80s (the last comics event referenced was the Wildebeest Society thing in 1987-88).  It also touches on some of the Black Lightning timeline, but mostly sticks with Titans.  As with #1, it feels less like a story told from the position of the endpoint and more of a collection of conversations had at several times, because the attitudes in the narration evolve over time.  When they're young and jumping to conclusions there's little or no indication that they realize that they're doing so, only admissions later on that their previous positions were unfounded or outright bad, just like Jefferson's bitterness in earlier scenes was PRESENT rather than PAST.  But despite that minor stylistic quirk, it's a good fleshing out of some characters who didn't really get much depth at the time.  Recommended.  $6.99

I got an order of Youneek trades at the end of the month, but I'd rather not rush reading them (especially since they all came out last year or earlier), so I'll cover them next 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.)

Maestro: War and PAX #1 (of 5): Marvel - Picking up not too long after the previous series, Maestro is looking to bring the benefits of his rule to the entire world, introducing it to PAX - Post Apocalyptic eXistence.  The "War" part of the title comes because no one really wants PAX.  PAD brings back the Pantheon (what's left of them) as well, and given that they played no role at all in Future Imperfect I rather doubt they'll do very well in this story....  I got the Skottie Young alternate cover, which doesn't really apply to this issue, and is more suggestive of the final issue big fight.  No backup story, just an extra-length main story.  Mildly recommended.  $4.99
The Rise of Ultraman #5 (of 5): Marvel - Dominated by the "Giant Ultraman vs. Bemular" fight, with a little bit of drama in the middle as one of the supporting characters briefly interferes on justifiable grounds before doing a rapid face turn to help beat the daikaiju.  The Dark Secret the good guys had been hiding since the 60s ends of faced head-on and this sets up the next miniseries, the Trials of Ultraman.  It's straddling a line between classic Ultraman type action and a more gritty "there are no heroes and everyone is doomed" stance, but so far manages to fall off the line and into the abyss.  Recommended.  $3.99

Shang-Chi #5 (of 5): Marvel - "Nor is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain."  That's the translation of the line that got chopped up into "lorem ipsum," and it applies to the wounds Shang-Chi has been carrying for the last issue.  They're not for the pain itself, but for a purpose, and that purpose is revealed in his climactic confrontation with Sister Hammer.  In the end, Shang-Chi comes to terms with his unwanted legacy and sets up future miniseries, but I think I'll follow those based on who's writing rather than just ordering them because of the character (the next one starts in February).  Mildly recommended, the pacing is a bit iffy.  $3.99

Marvel Action Avengers (2020) #3 (of 12?): Marvel/IDW - Katie Cook wraps up her three issues with White Rabbit managing to steal the Cloak of Levitation, leading to a chase scene through New York that brings in bits of the previous two issues and generally wraps up any loose ends that might have been left.  It's okay, working on its own as an alternate universe take that doesn't really need to connect to prior or subsequent issues.  Recommended.  $3.99

The Wrong Earth: Night and Day #1 (of 6?): Ahoy Comics - Okay, after some flashback stories that didn't really grab me, they're back to the main plotline of the first series, in which Dragonfly and Dragonflyman are stuck in the wrong Earths, have new allies, and there's some sort of interdimensional skullduggery going on that threatens the benign Earth Alpha.  And that means crossover time!  Of course, each has spent enough time in the other's world that they might be conflicted about permanently going home...each sees how they could improve their counterpart's world thanks to a different point of view.  (No, that's only hinted at so far, not angsted about at length yet.)  Promising.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Sacred Six #6: Dynamite - We open with a few rounds of "Aha, you've fallen into my trap!"  "Actually, you fell into MY trap!" etc.  At the end of it, and a lot of red ink later, Lilith's endgame for the town is finally revealed, and it turns out she's about as good at planning as she is at childrearing.  She gets results, sure, but maybe not the ones she wanted.  A bit more gory than usual for Priest's Vampi stuff.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Kaijumax Season 5 #6 (of 6): Oni Press - Sometimes appealing to higher principles fails, but poking at personal trauma does the trick.  All three of the main threads of this season come to a climax, but at least two of them are left with a lot of questions and can't really be said to have been resolved. I think one was meant to be ambiguous, but another felt like it was supposed to have been adequately explained but I just don't get how all the pieces fit.  Recommended, but contingent on Season 6 clarifying some of this stuff.  $3.99

Big Girls #6 (of 6?): Image - Pretty much a continuation of the fizzle-out climaxing of #5, in that the new fight is over almost immediately, then another fight starts and it lasts a little bit but ends without direct agency of the protagonist...more of an indirect "the benefits of mercy" thing.  In the end, it's set up to mostly be an okay series finale if the book doesn't continue, but a few clear plot hooks for #7 or v2 #1.  Mildly recommended, I think it kinda flubbed the landing.  $3.99

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #93
: IDW - This is a done in one issue focusing on Scootaloo and her parents...while she finally HAS parents (and cool probably-lesbian aunts who she lives with) the show didn't really do much with them in the limited time it had left.  The conflict in this story arises from the fact that while her parents have a seemingly cool career (basically the Steve and Terri Irwin of Equestria), it turns out Scoots isn't really interested in living that life...she finds it by turns terrifying and boring...or boringly terrifying in some cases.  And she feels rotten for not being interested in what her parents are interested in.  Kenney does a decent job of setting up the conflict, having Scootaloo angst about it, and then resolving it.  Recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #94: IDW - Another thing Season 9 did but didn't develop at ALL was the whole "rivals to lovers" angle between Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich.  So, at least initially, this arc is about the two of them making that transition, nudged along a little by the Princess of (Friend)shipping.  Of course, it gets interrupted by some sort of magical crisis so that there can be both a romantic cliffhanger and a regular cliffhanger.  Thom Zahler wrote this one, and I was kinda surprised I didn't see obvious pony versions of his cupid comic characters in the background.  I guess Zahler didn't want to put it in the script and artist Kuusisto didn't know about them or decided against the easter egg.  Recommended.  $3.99

ROM Dire Wraiths #3 (of 3): IDW - Man, I'd forgotten this hadn't come out yet...it was delayed something like nine months?  And ultimately, it felt like I gained nothing from reading it.  The body count was slightly lower than I'd expected, but it took the boring way out of the prequel problem.  Don't bother.  $3.99

Transformers #26: IDW - "War World" arc trade dress.  The main fighting as died down and the newly minted Decepticons are sweeping the streets for stragglers, most of whom have had the sense to get out of Decepticon territory.  A rather lot of the issue is devoted to assembling Pyra Magna's team and lampshading the birth of Victorion herself, plus some time from Termagax's viewpoint as she makes one last forlorn hope attempt to talk the Decepticons off the ledge and back onto the Ascenticon philosophy.  (Oh, and she's Baba Yaga, I guess.)  A fair amount of World, but not a lot of War at the moment.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99.

Transformers #27: IDW - Okay, NOW the cliffhanger from #24 gets more than a throwaway line.  It's like Ruckley assumes no one is reading these in monthly form, and everyone's waiting until the entire story is completed in a few years before starting to read.  The pacing is really bad for serial fiction.  This really would have worked better as #26, and in a world where plotlines aren't laid out in solicitations three months in advance, I'd have suspected Ossio blew the deadline on the art and the two issues were swapped.  But no, Ruckley just blew the pacing.  Anyway, leaving aside the arc-level problems, it's a decent issue on its own legs, with a bunch of engineers trying to keep a group of soldiers from overrunning them, like a version of Montgomery Scott's Kobayashi Maru.  Recommended, but the series as a whole is having problems.  $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), cancer-free for a year now, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.
"Oh, good.  Something WHEELJACK thought was too risky." - Huffer, Transformers #27
Dave's Capsules for January 2021 Dave's Capsules for January 2021 Reviewed by Dvandom on Friday, January 29, 2021 Rating: 5
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