Dave's Capsules for February 2022


Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Magical Boy vol 1

In this installment: The Eternals (movie), Magical Boy vol 1, Hilo vol 8: Gina and the Big Secret, Shang-Chi #8-9, Moon Knight #8, Supermassive 2022, Vampirella Dracula Unholy #3, Draculina #1, Arrowsmith Behind Enemy Lines #2, Norse Mythology III #1 (of 6), My Little Pony Generations #5 (of 5), Transformers: King Grimlock #5 (of 5), Transformers: War's End #1 (of 4), Transformers #40.

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order)Monkey Prince #1 (victim of ownership change, DC distribution has Problems)

"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.

THIS I could have done with more of.

The Eternals: Marvel - I almost forgot that I watched this in February.  I was mostly reminded by discussions of why it failed so badly to be, you know, GOOD.  The essence, I think, is that it was too long and too short.  It definitely dragged, and included too many side scenes to work as a spectacle movie of the sort Marvel normally manages.  But it really wanted to be fair to all of the Eternals and give each some time in the spotlight...and ended up not really going far enough to work.  As a result, the excess scenes were too short to do their job and too long to let the movie MOVE.  It also spent a lot of time building up what ended up being a red herring, an opponent who was neither a "final boss" nor an unexpected ally against the final boss, it just took up time as a distraction.  (While the toys gave it a name, it was never referred to by name in the movie that I noticed, nor really given much to say once it did finally speak.)  The movie was too in love with its Shocking Plot Twist to remember to make the plot interesting in the first place.  It had potential, but it needed to ditch about a third of the run time and leave those elements for flashback-heavy sequels or later movies.  We didn't get a twenty minute digression in Avengers to explain the Budapest line, after all.  (And I'm still not sure what Makkari's side quest amounted to, if anything.)  There were some good bits, but the fact that I'd rather watch the full length Bollywood musical that Kingo was making than rewatch the Eternals movie says something.  Neutral, needs a "Director (no not the original, a new one)'s Cut" to have a chance of being good.  Available on Disney+, as well as on disk (with deleted scenes, as if this didn't already feel like absolutely nothing was left on the cutting room floor).

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.
Nothing this month.  And with the new changes to Comixology as Amazon finishes digesting it, I'm even less likely to be getting e-comics.


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

Yeah, he gets a mentor mascot.

Magical Boy vol 1: Studio Tapas/Graphix/Scholastic - I grabbed this on a whim, and it turns out it's a compilation of a Tapas.io webcomic.  I suppose I could pay to read the rest of the story immediately, but I'm still feeling annoyed by the last time I tried to give Tapas.io money...I hope they fixed the system, but....  Anyway, here's the high concept: Max is a teenager who has decided on his 15th birthday to come out as transmale.  Max's mother has decided to reveal the big family secret on that day as well: Max is the latest in a long line of hereditary Magical Girls.  The two pieces of news mesh poorly, as one might expect.  And now Max has to learn to be a Magical Girl in time to save the world from the latest eldritch invasion, discovering to his horror that the transformation puts him in his mom's old outfit, including girly makeup and ribbons and poufs.  While played for laughs in places, it's an otherwise serious treatment of gender identity and familial expectations, as Max slowly grows into the role and gathers a posse of unlikely (except for Max's best friend) allies.  Not really addressed overtly in this volume is the looming problem of "What about the next generation?" since the way the power is passed down means his mom can't just try again for a cisgendered daughter.  (Genre-savvy money is on "Max finds his own way to deal with the enemy that ensures there won't need to be another generation," but there's a few other ways it could go.)  Written and drawn by The Kao (Vincent Kao, according to a little googling).  Strongly recommended.  $15.99/$21.99Cn/#10.99UK

Hilo vol 8: Gina and the Big Secret: RH Graphic/Random House - So, in volume 7, Gina helped some endangered magical critters go home, not realizing that "home" was "Earth, in the distant past," and that in doing so she totally screwed up the timeline and dumped herself and her few nearby friends (Hilo included) into the new timeline where Earth is full of magical stuff.  In this volume, we find that while humans still exist (and a lot of the same people still exist, improbably), humans are a persecuted underclass that is forbidden to use magic.  Aside from a brief respite early on, this is basically an "on the run from the authorities" story, and while Hilo keeps displaying weird new powers in his human body, it's mainly a Gina thing.  Oh, and there's magical Scottish cats again.  Hazzah!  Recommended.  $13.99/$18.99Cn


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.)

Shang-Chi #8: Marvel - Another issue heavy on the "make it match the movie" flashback, bookended by some clever turnabout and then it not being enough, in what is apparently supposed to be the end of the first arc but really just feels like another cliffhanger on the way to the real end?  It's not so much that it feels padded, everything included is important to the story.  It just feels like it doesn't know when it's supposed to tie up anything, if ever.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Shang-Chi #9: Marvel - And as I suspected, there's not really much of a new arc feel here, other than Grandpa Kilin-Rider initiates a new plot device.  At least the flashbacks are over for now, so the story can move forwards rather than continuing the "make it like the movie" patch job.  Good dialogue, withholding judgement on the actual plot.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Moon Knight #8: Marvel - Due to a crossover I'm ignoring, Moon Knight is unavailable this month.  Fortunately, Marc now has a spare protagonist to fill in for him, in the form of Dr. Moon aka Hunter's Moon, the other Fist of Khonshu.  And because this version of Moon Knight is all about embracing the mystical, an old school Moon Knight foe returns in a new incarnation as a primal god of vengeance.  Recommended.  $3.99

Supermassive 2022: Image - I skimmed the first issue or two of Radiant Black and was unimpressed, but it's been getting some praise lately, so I figured I'd see if this Annual-style issue would grab me.  It's a crossover between Radiant Black, Rogue Sun (solo book started this month I guess?) and another similarly-powered hero from another dimension, because they're setting up a multiverse.  As far as "jumping on point" goes, it's so-so.  Some exposition as the three heroes introduce themselves to each other, but I really didn't get the feeling this was aimed at new readers, but was a payoff for existing readers.  It was an okay read, but I don't plan to add any of the "massiveverse" to my pull.  $5.99

Vampirella Dracula Unholy #3: Dynamite - We have entered the phase of the shadowplay in which there's really no visual cues anymore whether something is "really" happening or is part of some sort of illusion.  While it does set the mood well, it's also a bit tough to read...it feels like the whole first arc might work better as something read in a single sitting, especially since Hadiwidjaja's character designs are significantly different from those in the previous volume and I'm still having trouble getting the hang of identifying major characters visually.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Draculina #1: Dynamite - So, the basic premise is that Draculina and Katie are the same person in different potential lives (an idea Priest explored in his 1999 prose series).  Basically, for all her flaws, Katie is a decent if broken person, while Draculina is very much her mother's daughter.  Both would be thrilled to go back to living completely separate lives, but Katie really doesn't have the tools to accomplish that, and Draculina's methods mostly involve killing Katie so that won't be mutually acceptable either.  Some of the Lilith/Vampirella dynamic is recapitulated here, but with the twist that they can never meet face to face, and the timeline itself ripples around the changes so that when one is "out," the other doesn't actually exist.  This issue is basically setup, and only hints at some of the complications that will ensue.  Provisionally recommended.  $3.99

Arrowsmith Behind Enemy Lines #2: Image - Hm.  Some intriguing things going on plot-wise, but I kept feeling like I should have read a wiki or Official Handbook sort of title before getting back into this series, with all of its "nothing is named the same even though society is suspiciously nearly the same as real life 1910s" stuff.  Kind of distracting, pausing to mentally translate the new-but-based-on-real-history place names (like Albion or Tyrol) as I read.  This might be another of those books where it's better to wait for the trade and read it all in one go, rather than forgetting from month to month the little worldbuilding differences.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Norse Mythology III #1 (of 6): Dark Horse - Well, they gave up on trying to indicate anything about which volume this is on the cover.  This issue focuses on Thor's Fishing Expedition, in which he goes fishing for whales and accidentally catches Jormungandr.  But it's really about the gods being really horrible dinner guests and making one wonder if the giants are the good guys in this whole thing (well, the giants are horrible too...really, almost everyone in Norse myth is at least something of an ass, insert Loki as a horse joke here).  Recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony Generations #5 (of 5): IDW - Kind of a fizzle-out ending.  The main villains all pretty much just decide they don't want to be evil anymore, so the only remaining source of conflict is an accidental side effect summoning, which everyone gangs up on and deals with in a few pages.  For all the planning and practicing done in the first half of the issue, it really just came down to the original antagonist deciding to take it all back and be good.  Because of cake, I guess.  A fairly unconvincing face turn that wasn't really set up in the previous four issues.  Neutral.  $3.99

Transformers: King Grimlock #5 (of 5): IDW - I was cleaning up dead titles on my comics pull list and crossed this one off as being over...and it wasn't yet.  Again, one of those "not a great sign" things.  And most of this issue was superfluous, Grimlock just re-defeating the villain who was functionally defeated already.  The "cliffhanger" threat at the end of #4 was just sort of set aside in favor of a different fight that was full of handwavy "because I'm Grimlock" plot device-ness.  What a waste of a great elevator pitch.  And twenty bucks, in my case.  $3.99

Transformers: War's End #1 (of 4): IDW - This happens as a meanwhile during #40, but doesn't really give away anything about it aside from "there's a big attack going down," so reading it first won't mess things up.  This really feels like an attempt to return to the original twice-monthly schedule of the current main Transformers title, just splitting the Exarchon threads off into this book for four months while the main book deals with the big Autobot/Decepticon battles.  But, since it's technically a new #1, it's very talky in laying out all the backstory.  This is good from a storytelling perspective, since some people are bound to pick this up without having read the forty issues of the main book, but it just leans into Ruckley's pacing issues.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Transformers #40: IDW - I feel like Ruckley has been saving up quotable quotes for this issue.  Annoyingly, a really good one (see below) isn't clearly attributed.  I think it's Kup, but he's never named on-panel and the page the quote's on has him miscolored (he later appears, still unnamed, in closer but still not right colors).  This kind of exemplifies Malkova's art...it's decent, but in places looks rushed and off-model, depending too much on the colorist to keep things straight.  And if you think that all this nitpicking is a bad sign, you're right...the substance is okay, but not enough to distract me from all the little things.  There's more to a good story than good dialogue.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Dvandom, aka Dave Van Domelen, is an Associate 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), made it past the Omicron spike okay so far, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.
"You can't make miracles, but sometimes y'can make LUCK.  Sometimes you can even make it out of FIREPOWER." - Probably Kup, Transformers #40

Dave's Capsules for February 2022 Dave's Capsules for February 2022 Reviewed by Dvandom on Friday, February 25, 2022 Rating: 5
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