Dave's Updated Capsules for March 2022

Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Happy Kanako's Killer Life vol 1-2

In this installment: The Dictionary of Snow Hill, Adventure Finders Book 3 Episode 8, Happy Kanako's Killer Life vol 1-2, The Fox vol 2: Fox Hunt, Misfile Next vol 1, The Abominable Charles Christopher vol 1-3, Shang-Chi #10, Moon Knight #9, Devil's Reign: Moon Knight, Blue Flame #7, Transformers Beast Wars #13.

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order)Monkey Prince #1, Norse Myth III #2, Draculina #2, Arrowsmith Behind Enemy Lines #3, Transformers #41, Transformers Beast Wars #14, Astro City That Was Then, Transformers War's End #2.

Yes, this month is kinda lean because the two comics distributors apparently require that new store owners order three months ahead of becoming new store owners, and the store where I shop has been having to piggyback on another store's existing orders...and that store doesn't carry a lot of stuff, hence not being the store I shop at.  It got really bad this month, because Diamond decided to also cancel all the orders made by the previous owner with no notice, so I went from missing a couple of books to missing more than half my pull.  I don't normally list the missing books in the main body, but since there's so many of them and I do a cut and paste each month, I'll keep 'em in as placeholders for when (if) they eventually come in.  I might have to give up on my regular shop and buy comics elsewhere for a few months if I want to get any at all.  If I do buy this month's missing books elsewhere (since re-orders might take until June), I'll edit them into this review and repost it.

Now updated with all the missing books.

"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.

Technically Moon Knight started this month, but as with other short-season Disney+ Marvel shows, I wanna finish it before reviewing it.

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.
The Dictionary of Snow Hill: Kindle Store - The high concept of this Jess Nevins story is that a group of people seemingly suffering a shared delusion were encouraged to write about their shared universe as part of the start of therapy in a 1930s mental institution, with it becoming quickly apparently that they're not insane (most of them) so much as they're in the wrong universe.  The conceit breaks in a lot of places if you think about it too hard, but despite being arranged an encyclopedia (not a dictionary), it manages to tell a reasonably coherent story.  The two main chunks are "right hand," and "left hand," ostensibly written from the POV of heroes and villains respectively.  It's deliberately an homage to the pulps without the whole "wallowing in racism and sexism" parts.  That's not to say that the 1930s of Snow Hill are free from those things, but rather they're recognized in-story to be bad, and the heroes (and most of the villains) try to be Better Than That.  When Jess started writing this, he asked a bunch of online (and presumably offline) friends for permission to have our names used, and I totally forgot about that so I was pleasantly surprised to see he didn't take the cheap way out and make me a mad scientist.  :)  Recommended.  $2.99, also part of Kindle Unlimited.

Adventure Finders Book 3 Episode 8: Patreon.com - A pause in the fighting, as most of the heroes have gone underground, mostly literally.  The general theme of the three branches of the story this issue is that allies are better than slaves or conquests.  Slaves may become allies of someone else, and conquests always exact their toll in blood.  Recommended.  Minimum $1/month on Patreon.


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

Killing's her business,
and business is cute.

Happy Kanako's Killer Life vol 1-2
: Seven Seas - (vol 4 is due out soon, I have vol 3 on backorder.)  This is another of those manga I first saw on Tumblr, much like Way of the Househusband.  But I guess what I saw on Tumblr was a sort of ashcan version, since it was in black and white, while this series is in full color.  Kanako is kind of an inverse or converse or whatever of Katsu the Immortal Dragon.  Where he's a former organized crime killer turned regular domestic husband, Kanako is a regular office girl who stumbled into a job as a contract killer and found she was really good at it and found the job very fulfilling.  (And since this is a comedy, all of her targets are deserving of her professional services, or at least not totally innocent.)  Done in the form of vignettes with a loose plot structure connecting them (workplace relationships, a possible romantic relationship with the cop who doesn't realize she's the killer he's after, etc), it's hilarious as long as you don't mind a high body count (mostly off-camera).  Probably the only thing that doesn't work well for me is the creator's penchant for animal-based puns, which don't always translate well.  Strongly recommended despite the occasional pun lost in translation.  $14.99/$18.99Cn per volume.

The Fox vol 2: Fox Hunt: Dark Circle Comics - This came out a while ago, I saw it at Ollie's for $3 and decided to grab it, having read a long thread about the early 80s Archie superheroes fiasco the day before. This recent revival is drawn and plotted by Dean Haspiel, with Mark Waid doing the dialogue.  The Fox is one of the Archie heroes I hadn't really read anything starring...if it got an Impact version I certainly didn't read it.  (checks)  Okay, he was in the Who's Who in Impact but never actually got used in a story.  I guess they shut Impact down before figuring out what to do with him, although I do see a note that he was briefly in a DC-published second try at Red Circle stuff after Final Crisis.  Anyway, it looks like this was the first attempt to make the Fox into anything but a generic "skilled martial artist who puts on a costume" character.  Oh, he doesn't have obvious powers in this either, but he believes he has a Weirdness Magnet curse, which keeps putting him into situations where he needs to put on the costume.  (The first volume of this series is subtitled Weirdness Magnet.)  In this volume, a tech billionaire he pissed off in the first volume puts out a bounty on his head, and a lot of obscure even by Red Circle standards villains get dusted off and sent to kill him, even as he tries to keep his son from becoming a superhero too.  Did I get my money's worth?  Well, yeah, but not a high bar.  And the craft was good enough that I didn't have any trouble following the story without having read the first arc, so there's that on the asset column.  But neither was I interested enough to track down any other issues.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99 at Ollie's.

Misfile Next vol 1: Kickstarter - This is a book for a very specific audience, that being readers of the Misfile webcomic who weren't satisfied with the "and then it got fixed" ending.  It's not really meant to be picked up by new readers, and I was hesitant to even review it...but I figured if I was going to review the other two Kickstarter collections I got this month, I should do this too.  So, here's the high concept of the original story: God is an absentee landlord, the angels run the celestial bureaucracy with the help of divine machinery, and a stoner angel (Rumisiel) screws up and misfiles some stuff for a couple of high school students.  One loses the last two years of her life, the other switches gender.  They bond over their shared "blame Rumisiel" woes, try to live their lives and find a way to put things back, and eventually Rumisiel comes up with a clever solution that really shouldn't work but somehow does.  The sequel "Hell High" is set about a generation later as the glitches from Rumi's solution have resulted in mortals being born in Hell itself, which is a Problem, but that's not what this book is about.  Having established in Hell High that the solution was glitchy, creator Chris Hazelton decided to go back and write an epilogue showing the shakedown period before things actually ended happily ever after, and launched a Kickstarter for it.  Then the story got out of control and we're getting at least one more volume of this (along side Hell High continuing and 6 Gun Mage being an ongoing thing...Hazelton has perhaps bitten off a bit much).  This is kinda the opposite of The Fox in terms of new reader friendliness, I rather doubt anyone coming into this cold would be able to follow it except on the very surface level as a comedy of genders.  Of course, you can go to misfile.com and do the massive archive trawl first, I guess.  Mildly recommended.  $10.99

Stutterhug vol 1: Comforting Creatures: Kickstarter - From Sam Davies, creator of Hex Vet, this is a collection of her silent animal-based strips.  (Ugh, and I managed to somehow tear the front cover already.)  This is at the "funny animals" end of anthropomorphic, with most of the pieces having animals in bipedal stance and wearing clothing, but with a few exceptions (which are still anthropomorphized to some extent).  Davies's stylistic quirk with eyes is in full force, with eyes usually being black ovals (or white ovals if the face is too dark), but sometimes also being white with pupils and irises, even sometimes having different eye types in the same panel.  This collection goes back to some pretty old works, though, so it's less that it's still here and more that it was there back then.  Anyway, generally cute and comfortable, as the subtitle indicates, although there's a few on the more wistful end.  Recommended.  $20.00

The Abominable Charles Christopher vol 1-3: Kickstarter - This is sort of the Epic of Gilgamesh.  I mean, Gilgamesh (albeit as a kid) is in it.  And the title character seems to be in the role of Enkidu.  But it's the Epic of Gilgamesh if Gilgamesh were Calvin of "and Hobbes" fame, for the most part.  Charles Christopher mostly just faffs about in the woods and the camera drifts off to follow various woodland creatures for extended periods (and occasionally palace cats).  Eventually he meets up with Gilgamesh, who is mostly a spoiled brat out having adventures, and you can see how maybe this gets inflated into gods and monsters stuff in the retelling...but then the actual mystic stuff shows up, oops.  These volumes don't quite collect the entire run so far of the webcomic, but as the webcomic kinda stopped updating a while back, they come close.  Vol 3 ends on a cliffhanger, and the handful of strips that followed it did not address the cliffhanger at all, so nothing missing yet.  Anyway, it's a fun and sometimes bittersweet meandering read, recommended.  No list price.


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.)

Monkey Prince #1-2: DC -The character first showed up in the DC Special focusing on Asian characters and creators, but this steps back to set up the origin story.  Basically, this kid's real father is Sun Wukong, the stone monkey, Great Sage Under Heaven.  The fact he was even conceived indicates a high level of magical shenanigans, but this is Sun Wukong we're talking about.  But his monkey heritage is starting to leak out through a big pile of Batman-related trauma (unbeknownst to him, his mother and the man he thinks is his father are rather unscrupulous scientists who regularly work for supervillains...the comic's been out for over two months at this point, I think I can get away with revealing that bit of business that's made clear very early on in #1).  So...the kid's caught between two worlds in more than one way, made worse by his trauma-response behaviors and the fact his parents keep moving around the country for work so he's always the outsider.  Nor does it help even a little that Damian Wayne goes to his high school.  So far, this is a very aggressive "refuse the call" story, as Marcus only wants to live a normal life and avoid his plentiful trauma triggers...if it continues in that vein too much longer it will get tiresome.  Expecting him to embrace his heritage is a bit much, but grudging acquiescence at least would be a good direction (and it seems to be going vaguely in that direction by the end of #2).  Mildly recommended, feels like it might read better as a trade paperback.  Even two issues at once felt a bit slow.  $3.99 each.

Shang-Chi #10: Marvel - It's not really a good month to be working at any sort of prison for superhumans, between this and Devil's Reign.  Shang and the others realize that maybe a tech-based prison isn't going to do a great job against the mystic threat grandpa unleashed on the entire bloodline, so it's off the save the day.  Or do a prison break.  Whichever seems to work at the time, eh?  The gang (well, society) gets back together as promised on the cover, and then everyone gets shoved off into the next phase without any of the training or recovery time they need, which strikes me as bad planning.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Moon Knight #9: Marvel - So, Marc is back from the crossover (not great timing, unless my store just happened to get the one-shot a couple weeks late?), and Solving Problems.  Specifically, the problem of an apartment building that has gained an extra floor that seems to be malign enough that it can't be rented out.  This goes beyond hostile architecture into downright nasty architecture, and it turns out to be something that's shown up before as MacKay mines more weird mystical history of Marvel's NYC.  The solution is fairly standard (for these days) Moon Knight, the kind of thing you get from someone who knows he'll probably come back if he dies and is getting annoyed by that fact.  Recommended.  $3.99

Devil's Reign: Moon Knight One-Shot: Marvel - Okay, I decided to pick up the tie-in, which really only barely tied in, and thanks to the art and Marc being unmasked most of the issue looked like a High School AU.  Well, a very rough high school, since it's set in a super-prison.  The premise of the crossover is that Mayor Wilson Fisk sends his power-armored goons to arrest all the supervillains and all the superheroes who won't play ball and tosses them in prison.  It's one of those things where I suspect writers weren't asked if they wanted to participate, they were told it was happening.  So, MacKay came up with a clever reason why Moon Knight would go along with this nonsense, and it works pretty well.  Not sure to what extent the fallout of this will even be paid attention to...Marvel may not be as bad as DC in terms of "continuity-schmontinuity," but I also don't get the impression that they keep careful track of the status of minor villains.  Content warning: a bit gruesome in places.  Otherwise, recommended.  $3.99

The Blue Flame #7: Vault - The lines blur even further between the versions of Blue Flame, although the "crappy Milwaukee mysteryman" version seems to be more real in the sense that people in that world are becoming aware that Blue Flame believes in the other reality, while the high-SF one is more concerned with the Big Questions, not what may or may not be hallucinations or faded memories or whatever.  I believe I've commented before that the book does have to pick a reality soon, even if it's "they're both real," and while it hasn't passed the decision gate I can't help but think it needs to stop waffling in the next couple of issues.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
"And this here's where Diamond sent your
store's shipment."
Vampirella Dracula Unholy #4: Dynamite - Okay, I'll admit that I'm not really sure what was going on here, there's still a lot of seemingly hallucinogenic stuff going on, but apparently it's all in-story real.  Some good stuff with the mothers, though.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
Draculina #2: Dynamite - One bad caption can really throw off the reader when there's multiple layers of flashback.  In this case, "At That Moment" might have worked better if it was on the page opposite the previous caption, instead of another page later, so I got it mixed up with "right now".  There's a LOT of time and space shifting, though.  Now, last week in wherever Draculina goes when she's not out in "realspace", two other last week scenes in different parts of San Francisco, flashback to Draculina's birth, and several months ago just before Sacred Six got rolling in Georgia.  Sometimes the scene flickers to a different time and place more than once in a page, and while "square borders for now, rounded for flashback" is usually helpful, there's a LOT of different flashbacks going on here, to the point where you almost need a khyron crawl in every panel to give it a date and place.  Yeah, Priest often offers up a challenging read, but I think this one got away from him a bit.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99 

Arrowsmith Behind Enemy Lines #3: Image - Mature content warning (sex and violence).  Fletcher and his contact manage to escape at terrible cost, take a shortcut through the edge of Fae almost at terrible cost, and then hole up briefly with the local resistance (okay, that one isn't so terrible or costly...yet).  Apparently shaved armpits caught on earlier in this universe?  Yes, it's a little nitpick, but Villarrubia otherwise does a good job of evoking a "WWI yet sort of not" society, so the places where modern sensibilities creep in tend to stand out.  Plot-wise, it's similar to Astro City in that we're getting a lot of montages of the big stuff, and then stop and spend a lot of pages on small moments.  I think that works better when the audience can fill in more of the details of the big stuff from genre tropes (e.g. show enough of the First Family to establish them as Fantastic Four analogues, and the reader can fill in the blanks pretty well).  This setting may rely on a lot of well-worn tropes as well, but from different genres than most comics buyers are going to be into.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Astro City: That Was Then: Image -This is about the original Teen Titans, and the end of the age of innocent teen heroes in the Silver Age.  Sure, the Jayhawks aren't really one for one versions of the original Titans unless you go fairly broad (a girl with a mythic/magical origin, an unpowered brawler, a water-based hero, a weapon schtick guy, and a fast guy...although Rally is a roller skater gadget type, not a Flash type).  The story focuses on a random cluster of other teen heroes who got together after the funeral for the Jayhawks and decided to take a road trip to get their heads together and process what this all means.  They're not a team, but they did know each other at least somewhat beforehand, and we get the usual Astro City style montage of the adventures they had on the way to where the main non-action happens.  Anyway, to ease back into the new era of Astro City (they still plan to do a series of GNs rather than floppies), it's the story of the turning of an age.  The old days are on their way out, but no one's quite sure what shape the new days will take...apropos.  Anderson and Sinclair get pretty experimental at times (at first look, for instance, the first page looks like it has water damage or a printing error...until you notice that the gutters are totally clean), giving me the feeling that this book was also meant as a place to try out some visual tricks for later.  Recommended.  $3.99

Norse Mythology III #2 (of 6): Dark Horse -The story of Hymir was almost done at the end of #1, and they don't try to pad it out here, it comes to an end pretty quickly to make room for the next story: the death of Balder.  Colleen Doran draws this one, and it's hard to think of someone better suited to depicting Aesir prettyboy Balder than her.  Mythology is full of "character tries to rescue a beloved dead person from the halls of the dead, only to fail for socially instructive reasons," stories, but as we'll see next issue, Balder's case doesn't quite go there.  It's no fault of Frigga's or of Hermod's that dooms Balder.  No tragic flaw in an otherwise good person.  Recommended.  $3.99
Transformers Beast Wars #13: IDW -  I suppose everyone has to do a 36 Hours homage eventually, and here's Burnham's, featuring a race through Cheetor's memories.  Winston Chan's art is a bit flat and often background-less, but serviceable.  The plot starts out as standard 36 Hours...Cheetor is back on Cybertron, as if the Axalon voyager hasn't happened yet, and people keep asking him about the Tiwaz Maneuver.  And, as often happens in 36 Hours homages, Cheetor figures it out pretty quickly and the questioner reveals themselves and changes the stakes (to a race, natch).  In the end, it's one of those "The reader finds out stuff but none of the characters do" endings, a bit of a cheap shot.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Transformers Beast Wars #14: IDW - "Oh, he's been infected with a rage thing, let him go, he should be fine."  Basically, the entire plot of this issue hinges on multiple characters behaving very stupidly.  Mild recommendation to avoid.  $3.99

Transformers: War's End #2 (of 4): IDW - This issue overlaps with Transformers #41 in such a way that there's really no correct order to read them in.  Transformers #41 seems to be mostly chronologically first, since the main overlapping scene occurs later in that issue than in this issue.  It ends up feeling a bit muddled, though, as if some of the events take place in different orders in the two titles.  Anyway,  a LOT of characters complain about the plot, or at least their role in helping Exarchon, and there's some side-switching or stepping-aside, but not enough to prevent random fight scenes.  Jumpstream angsts about predestination paradoxes and ends up creating one anyway, ah well.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
Transformers #41: IDW - Extended anticlimax to start the issue, and then Buckley finally remembers that the Insecticon clones (who are apparently very small now) have been menacing the refugee caravan since the end of Escape, however the heck that fits into the timeline.  Y'know, if they want to split stories up across multiple books with uncertain overlap of production schedules, they really should've committed to a datestamp system to blunt the effect of "Hey, Road Rage has been swatting bugs for a few months now in the background, is she dead yet?" issues.  If the story were compelling and vibrant enough, I could put up with the dislocation, but it feels more like running through a checklist to try to get all the plot points in place before the license expires.  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), does not like snow days anymore, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.
"Well, I've thought about it, MR. ZHU, and I've decided that I LIKE my fear!  It keeps me out of situations where I might get my head CHOPPED OFF!" - Marcus, Monkey Prince #2

Dave's Updated Capsules for March 2022 Dave's Updated Capsules for March 2022 Reviewed by Dvandom on Thursday, March 31, 2022 Rating: 5
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