Dave's Capsules for June 2022


Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Spy x Family

In this installment: Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Kaiju No. 8 vol 2, Spy x Family vol 1-7, Dork Tower: the Tao of Igor, Monkey Prince #5 (of 12), Black Adam #1 (of 12), Moon Knight #12, Final Faction #1, Draculina #4, Norse Mythology III #5 (of 6), Arrowsmith Behind Enemy Lines #6 (of 6), My Little Pony #2, Transformers: Last Bot Standing #2 (of 4), Transformers Beast Wars #16-17 (of 17), Transformers War's End #4 (of 4) Transformers: Fate of Cybertron.

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order)Moon Knight #11, Spectreman Heroes #1 (of 5), Blue Flame #8 (of 10), Vampirella/Dracula Unholy #6 (of 6)

"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.

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness: Marvel - This is your basic Power Corrupts story, but unfortunately it doesn't just show doomed alternate universes (like What If? did for a Dr. Strange alternate), it somewhat misogynistically uses the main MCU version of a character as the villain who can only be redeemed through self-sacrifice.  Structurally, it worked pretty well, and if you only pay attention to Dr. Strange's own personal story, it's pretty good.  But it's marred pretty badly by the choice of villain.  (It could have been an alternate universe version of that character and the story would hardly have needed altering at all...still would have been pretty bad in its choices, but at least it wouldn't have trashed the "real" version.  A special effects feast, wrapped around a problematic core.  It's like a superbly prepared steak with a bit of rot in it.  If you miss the rot (maybe one bite tastes a little funny) it's enjoyable, but on hearing the recall you might be a bit uncomfortable.  

Enjoying Ms. Marvel, as usual will review once the season ends.

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.  Adventure Finders is on a few months' hiatus and Comixology is nearly unusable anymore.  They claim that they'll fix it soon, but it'll probably get even worse.


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

Kaiju No. 8 vol 2: Viz/Shonen Jump - Okay, so the writer kinda backed off avoiding the trope I thought had been deliberately dodged, or rather they're leaning into a related trope.  Also, apparently kaiju have been a thing for at least a thousand years in this setting and somehow human civilization still turned out about the same?  I mean, yeah, it's a goofy giant monster series, but it goes for serious stuff often enough that suspension of disbelief starts to wobble.  Still enjoyable enough I plan to get the next couple of volumes, but the writer may be a bit too much of a "pantser" rather than a plotter.  Recommended but don't think too hard.  $9.99/$12.99Cn/#7.99UK


Spy x Family vol 1-7
: Viz/Shonen Jump - So, this is another one of those "found out about it via Tumblr posts," because the anime adaptation has been getting turned into GIFsets lately.  (The anime is currently only subtitled, and on streaming services I don't get anyway.)  On a whim I picked up vol 6 when I saw it on the shelf at Walmart, and it was pretty easy to follow without having read the previous five volumes, always a good sign.  So I spent the next few weeks scavenging up the remaining volumes (3 and 4 haven't gotten second printings yet and were a bit harder to locate).  Unlike Kaiju No. 8, the setting and tone are definitely wacky enough to excuse the gaping holes in the setting.  It's a "deadly serious characters in a not very serious if still kinda deadly setting" thing, which can be hard to make work, but Tatsuya Endo manages it pretty well.  Short premise: in a world that's basically 60s/70s spy movies and TV with the names (barely, in some cases) changed, Twilight is the super-spy agent of Westalia, who has a deep cover mission to get close to a major figure in the Ostanian government who may be trying to restart The War.  Taking on the identity of psychologist Loid Forger (which raises NO eyebrows), he moves to Berlint (like I said, barely) and sets out to create the identity of a father whose kid will rise to levels of academic success at a private academy, which is the only place his target is known to ever socialize.  So far, it seems almost reasonable.  But the orphan he picks to play his daughter is (unknown to him) a telepath.  And when he needs a wife to finish the cover, the unassuming office worker Yor Briar he asks to do so (she needs a fake boyfriend to set her brother's mind at ease, so it's kinda a transactional thing) is (unknown to him) the ultra-deadly Black Widow style assassin the Thorn Princess.  Her brother Yuri (unknown to Yor, but Loid figures it out) is a rising star in the Stasi-like secret police.  (Yuri is very protective of Yor and is just looking for an excuse to arrest Loid, but has no idea Loid is really...you get the idea.)  During a later mission (a recent spy sweep has left the West short on assets in Berlint, so Twilight does a lot of side missions) they acquire a family dog, who is (unknown to Loid and Yor) precognitive.  Oh, and the telepathic daughter Anya?  She knows ALL THE THINGS.  But since she's like six years old and raised in an orphanage, she doesn't understand much of it.  She just thinks it's so cool that dad is a spy like Bond-man on TV, and that mom's an assassin (although she's a little less thrilled with how casually murdery mom's thoughts are).  Anyway, Loid/Twilight has Batman levels of implausible competence at everything, but he's stuck with a nigh-impossible mission and has no idea how deep of a mess he's gotten himself into.  You can probably pick up just about any volume and enjoy it without the others.  Strongly recommended.  $9.99/$12.99Cn/#7.99UK  

Dork Tower: the Tao of Igor: Dork Storm Press - This Kickstarted volume (technically volume 10 of the collected Dork Tower) is basically the finale of the old floppy series that ended unceremoniously a few years ago.  And what with all of Kovalic's other projects, it took...a while...to finish (the Kickstarter was in October 2018).  Where the comic left off, the annual MudCon organizing duties had landed in the lap of Igor, the player most likely to grab the obviously trapped or cursed item, the poster boy for "act first, think never."  (He's based on a real person, but very much changed over the course of writing.)  The titular Tao of Igor is the Way of the Empty Mind.  VERY empty.  Just drift through life and things will work out.  Or not.  Igor basically Igors his way into a successful convention, and other regular (and some irregular) cast members get their own arcs along the way, with things generally working out pretty well for almost everyone, despite Igor.  And because of Igor.  It's not the destination, it's the wacky journey.  Recommended.  $25.99 (available on the Dork Storm Press store now, or at least soon)


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 #5 (of 12): DC - Arc two drops Monkey Prince off the deep end (literally and figuratively) into Aquaman's turf (surf?), with his parents predictably henching for Black Manta.  However, the immediate threat is another group I've never seen before, but I guess they're probably from Aquaman's books since I stopped following him (mumble) years ago.  Marcus is keeping up at least some Gotham connections, which is good, because I was worried that this Journey to the Wherever would leave him utterly without roots.  His new sparring partner isn't as interesting as Damian Wayne, but who is?  Recommended.  $3.99

Black Adam #1 (of 12): DC - Priest returns to DC with a series that at least is expected to end at 12.  This is not a tie-in to the movie, it's more of a "take advantage of movie buzz to sell some comics," in the way that Priest's USAgent comic sort of coat-tailed on Falcon & the Winter Soldier.  So, the basic premise here is that Teth-Adam is a T'Challa who cares very little what you think (for pretty much any value of "you"), and is more bored than amused by the U.S.A.'s foreign policy vis-a-vis Khandaq.  So, well-informed and experienced political leader who could also coincidentally kill everyone in the room if he felt like it, but he doesn't need the hassle.  However, he's also a bit short-sighted or maybe just arrogant in some important ways...T'Challa would never go after Thanos just to see what he could learn, but Black Adam does the DCU's version of that.  And it goes badly for him.  So this issue sets up the new status quo (at least for the duration of the maxiseries), how Black Adam deals with the Problems he got himself into.  Similar tone to Priest's Black Panther in many ways, but without the tacit assumption that the protagonist was basically a good guy who just acts scary as a tactic.  Black Adam really is scary.  I suspect that Priest's handling could make Black Adam a figure on the level of Doctor Doom, so long as editorial decides to stick with the outcomes and not reset him next year for some event.  Recommended.  $3.99

Moon Knight #12: Marvel - Well, I still don't have a hardcopy of #11, but I caught up via Other Means.  The endgame with Zodiac, whose stated goal is to turn Marc into a nihilistic spree killer by ripping away everything that anchors him to humanity.  In fact, Zodiac's happy if he can turn anyone into a psychokiller, even if it means being their first victim.  He's kinda a militant nihilist...not only does he lack a moral core, he finds it offensive that anyone else does.  Did he think Moon Knight's checkered past would make him an easy mark, or a hard target since Marc has always pulled back from the edge?  Can we even trust anything he says?  Probably not.  Anyway, a satisfying end to the arc, and I can really see how the last page or two was set up so that in the event of cancellation everything could have been wrapped up neatly.  But there's going to be a #13, so MacKay had a new twist to pull out on the last page that doesn't invalidate the resolution but does offer new pathways.  Recommended.  $3.99 

The dog mech is piloted by
a chihuahua named Churro.
Final Faction #1: Greenbrier/Dollar Tree - Okay, so Final Faction has been boggling people since it launched last year.  Dollar Tree.  Has an action figure line.  With a cartoon.  And now a comic?  The toys are surprisingly good, the cartoon is deliberately 90s-cheesy and at least accomplishes that.  The comic doesn't quite make it up to the level of the toy line, but it's still impressive that they put it out for $1.25.  It's written by Toby Osborne and clearly inspired by pack-in comics from the 80s and 90s, if done at full length rather than being 4-8 pages.  GIJoe pastiche group comes out of retirement to fight an alien threat whose mothership turns out to have been our Moon all along.  The art is by Chris Marrinan, not using the Erik Larsen imitation style he favored when working for Marvel in the 90s, but rather the more retro-70s style he used on the Champions-line comics before they split from the game and turned into libertarian lolicon.  The cover is pretty good, a complete piece, but most of the interior pages look like he hacked out the entire book over a weekend and then someone "inked"  his pencils by messing with contrast settings on scans.  Colorist Mimi Simon does a decent job of trying to salvage the result, with the sort of bold and garish stuff that was common in the 80s and 90s as colorists slowly adapted to the new printing quality that no longer washed things out.  In short, the whole thing aims for toyetic cheese, and the quality isn't very good even by those standards, but what do you expect for the price?  Worth grabbing for the badness if you have a Dollar Tree conveniently nearby and they carry any (it's very hit-or-miss).  $1.25

Draculina #4: Dynamite - A reality-warper has arrived in the story, as if reality wasn't already warped enough.  It's uncertain whether the effects on Katie were intentional as well, or just "fallout" from Hesiod toying with Draculina, but it's certainly a Plot Complication.  Not really sure how this plays with the rules established in #1-3, but it's entirely possible that those rules were misunderstood or simply lied about.  I suspect this is gonna be one of those books that needs to be read in its entirety in one setting, though.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Norse Mythology III #5 (of 6): Dark Horse - So, Loki finishes getting his comeuppance, and then fast-forwards to Ragnarok.  In fact, binding Loki to the stone to get venom dripped in his face is treated as the last interesting thing the gods do before fading from the world for a long age, awakened only to fight their final battle.  This makes sense in a cosmology that assumes that there is nothing after Ragnarok (as opposed to Snorri Sturlson's tacked-on faux-Christian rebirth), so there has to be time for mundane history to pass.  I suppose there still could be a Norse Mythology IV if there's any unadapted Gaiman interpretations, but the three volumes so far have pretty much hit all the stories that I remembered from my childhood interest in Norse myth.  A few gore and nudity warnings this time, Loki's imprisonment is in no way meant to be easy to stomach.  Recommended.  $3.99

Arrowsmith Behind Enemy Lines #6 (of 6): Image - Welp, this is really #6 of 12, the story's being split into two volumes (convenient, given that Pacheco has had some medical issues and needs time off now).  So the front-loaded narration dominates this volume, maybe the next volume will spend less time lecturing?  It really feels like this entire series could be have been one issue and then a few pages of prose.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony #2: IDW - Okay, at least in the comics, G5 is very solidly the future of G4.  No guarantee that the cartoons will share this story or if this is instead a repeat of the "Lasso the Moon and go find the aliens that turned Luna into Nightmare Moon" story from the first arc of the G4 comic.  Deuterocanonical, in other words.  There's a reasonably coherent handwave for why things are different (e.g. "restoring" magic in the cartoon gave Earth Ponies magic that they never had in G4, but Magic Is Different Because Plot Device).  Unfortunately, while it all makes narrative sense, I really dislike sequels that depend on blowing up a happy ending.  At BEST, this storyline sets up G5 as a What If? alternate universe with the "real" G4 still chugging along happily in harmony.  G5 is just too different to be the future of G4 without some serious "and then while we weren't watching, the heroes failed and the world ended" stuff.  Neutral.  $3.99

Transformers: Last Bot Standing #2 (of 4): IDW - Wow.  Was this something Roche pitched years ago and was told "Hell no, that'll piss off Hasbro!"  And now that the license is going away anyway, they're letting him indulge?  While the rabid Moon (BWII) on the cover is symbolic rather than literal, the schlock horror "twists" are on full display, because, horror of horrors, the surviving Cybertronians have figured out how to get energy by eating people.  Like, not just organic life, they specifically go after sapients.  Not really explained, and Moon clearly finds it abhorrent, but...schlock.  IDW determined to go out on a low note, I guess.  (The only Transformers comic they've got that'll come out after this series ends is the Shattered Glass II series, which is more a toy pack-in anyway.)  I guess I'll ride this turkey down for a landing on the good people of Cincinnati, but I'll complain the whole time.  Avoid.  $5.99 

Transformers: Beast Wars #16-17 (of 17): IDW - Yes, the license is going away, so all the ongoing plots need to wrap up quickly.  Uneasy alliance between Maximals and Predacons to fight the Vok, lots of fighting that doesn't accomplish anything since they can't hurt the intangible Vok behind it all, and then Plot Device time.  Even the characters complain about how plot-devicey it is.  They probably should've just cancelled at #12 rather than trying to cram what I guess was another 24 or so issues into five.  Neutral.  $3.99 each.

Transformers War's End #4 (of 4): IDW - Well, A war's end.  There's still a one-shot to wrap up the other wars (see next review).  As with the other IDW2 TF titles, it just sort of rushes through checking off the boxes and showing some set pieces the creators wanted to do.  There's a lot of "Aha!  Plot device!  And wait, it was countered," stuff.  It's hard to feel a sense of threat when they jump from idea to idea without really getting to develop any of them.  A few of the character arcs (like Cyclonus's and Landmine's) get just enough pagecount to feel like they're paying off, but overall this issue feels like a Marvel Saga-style summary of what would have been a dozen or more issues.  In other words, typical of this year's IDW Transformers comics.  $5.99 (30 pages and a lot of house ads)
Transformers Fate of Cybertron: IDW - Okay, NOW the war's over.  Rather abruptly and unsatisfyingly, but it was starting to feel like a decade-long epic got cut in half when the license was lost...as if halfway through the Two Towers Frodo meets a small rebel Orc band that smuggles them to Mount Doom in a few chapters.  The art is split among five artists, a few of whom were pretty clearly just given Big Combat Splash Pages to do, with the rest of the pages doing the least possible to get between the splash pages.  It's not as bad as the Final Faction art, but some pages are pretty rushed-looking, and the final resolution is just...petering out.  So that's the IDW second Transformers continuity...started unreasonably slowly, then collapsed in a pile of bullet points, never really hitting GOOD pacing for any extended period.  Neutral.  $7.99  (38 pages of story, but about the same number of actual pages as War's End #4)

It's over, finished.

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), kinda wishes now that IDW never tried to make a second continuity and stuck to one-offs after wrapping up their first continuity, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.
"What, because it would 'make me as bad as him' or something?"  "No.  It would make you as bad as ME." - Reese and Moon Knight, Moon Knight #12


Dave's Capsules for June 2022 Dave's Capsules for June 2022 Reviewed by Dvandom on Saturday, July 02, 2022 Rating: 5
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