Dave's Capsules for August 2022


Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Nothing this month, a lot of good but nothing that jumped out at me.

In this installment: Adventure Finders Book 3 Chapter 10, Amethyst Princess of Gemworld, Diana: Princess of the Amazons, The Dragon Prince: Bloodmoon Huntress, Way of the Househusband vol 8, Happy Kanako's Killer Life vol 5, The 7 Deadly Sins, The Forgotten Blade, Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #1-2, Ultraman: the Mystery of UltraSeven #1 (of 5), Moon Knight #11 and #14, Blue Flame #9, Vampirella/Dracula Unholy #6 (of 6), Draculina #5 (of 6), Vampirella Year One #2 (of 6), My Little Pony #4, Transformers: Last Bot Standing #4 (of 4), Transformers Shattered Glass II #1 (of 5).

This month has been weird, my old store's new owner has apparently been trying to drive off comics customers in favor of just gaming, and actually threw me out of the store over a rather minor point (and I'm reportedly not the only one).  So I'm getting set up with a new store, which actually had several comics that the old store claimed to be unable to find at cover price, but there's always glitches when starting a pull (and the new store prefers to not deal with publishers who have horrible lateness issues, like Heavy Metal and most Vault books).  Oh, and I've decided Spectreman Heroes isn't worth the effort to chase down.  LCS jerked my new store around for most of the month, and Diamond simply didn't ship most of the August 31 order.  

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Black Adam #3, Entropy #1, Vampirella Year One #2

"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.

I'm enjoying She-Hulk so far.

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.

Adventure Finders Book 3 Chapter 10: Patreon - Well, that escalated quickly.  Neshallin's mysterious patron has been something of a Boom Tomorrow sword of Damocles since her introduction, and this issue is all about the thread breaking and the sword plunging into someone's head.  Many heads and many swords.  In fact, it's a MUCH bigger reveal than I'd been expecting, and could be considered the dramatic climax of the entire series.  Recommended.  $1/month on Patreon.


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

Off to a rocky start?
Amethyst Princess of Gemworld
: DC - So, one of the un-staffed tables at the local con had copies of DC FCBD-type stuff, and I grabbed the preview of Diana: Princess of the Amazons.  I liked it enough to go pick up the full book, and while I was at that section of B&N I grabbed Amethyst.  The opening feels like it was inspired by Star vs. the Forces of Evil, a bratty and boundary-pushing young Amethyst gets exiled to Earth as punishment for acting out.  However, unlike Star, she quickly forgets that she ever lived anywhere but Earth, due to the lack of magic interfering with her memories...look, it's a plot device.  After a few years living with her "Aunt" (her royal minder), she's pulled back to Gemworld to save it from a giant monster that is both the literal and figurative product of her younger self's flaws, and she slowly regains her powers and memories while her Earthling best friend is along for the ride (to be fair, at the time the rescue portal arrived, they both thought they were Earthlings, so).  Amethyst has been rebooted an awful lot for a character who was first created in the 80s, but this is an interesting re-imagining.  Unfortunately, DC has a pretty crappy track record with these YA books in terms of followup.  Yeah, these origin stories (Primer, Anti/Hero, etc) are complete stories, but each hints at further adventures that we never get.  So, a book the ends on a tone of "But I've still got a long way to go," feels like a tease, and I can't find any indication that there's going to be a second volume.  So...in isolation, it's good and I'd recommend it.  But it has that "#1 with no #2 ever" cloud hanging over it that dampens my enjoyment.  $9.99/$13.50Cn

Diana: Princess of the Amazons: DC - This one, at least, I know is getting a followup, but it's a Trinity character so that's not terribly surprising.  Corporate publishing may be willing to try new things, but will only COMMIT to known quantities.  Anyway, like most of the other YA books DC has been putting out, this stars a young hero who'd map to tweenaged or very early teenager if Amazons weren't immortal and stuff.  It's set before Diana grew up to become Wonder Woman, at some indeterminate point in the past, isolated on Paradise Island.  It doesn't have to really connect to anything outside or commit to which version of Wonder Woman this Diana will grow up into, because that's a long way off.  And that, right there, is the core conflict of this book: adulthood is a long way off for Diana.  She's the only child in a society that has long since forgotten its own childhood.  So, in desperation, Diana decides to make a friend.  Out of clay, because hey, that's the only way anyone's been born on Paradise Island.  To her surprise, it works, and most of the story after that is a sort of Pandora-inspired thing, except the sculpted girl is trying to get the living one to open the box of all evils.  The final resolution makes sense in terms of how the clay girl thing worked, and does address one of Diana's concerns (that she isn't a "real" Amazon), but enough is left unfixed that there's room for the sequel books to not have to undo the resolution just to have conflict again.  Recommended.  $9.99/$13.50Cn

The family that slays together
stays together.
The Dragon Prince: Bloodmoon Huntress: Graphix/Scholastic - Hey, let's go three in a row for "when they were a kid" protagonist stories!  This is a prequel, telling of the events that led Rayla to become an assassin.  It starts the day her parents went off to guard the Dragon Queen and her egg, leaving her with her uncle and his husband, so Rayla has a lot of abandonment issues and "duty vs. family" conflicts to work through on top of her eventual discover that one of her in loco parentis figures is a Moonshadow Assassin.  I mean, in the cartoon we first meet her AS a Moonshadow Assassin, so her personal arc resolution isn't too much of a surprise, it's all about the journey to that point.  There are a few times it feels a bit abrupt, but they only had one book to work with and kids DO sometimes pivot on a dime.  The Bloodmoon Huntress is a new addition to the lore, showing that humans don't have the market corners on unethical and horrifying magic.  That is a good addition to the setting, because while the cartoon did try to show that using Dark Magic didn't automatically make you horrible (just, you know, eventually make you horrible), it's easier to accept that the bad guys aren't 100% bad when the good guys aren't 100% good.  (Yeah, a lot of the elves are condescending jerks who have decided that the best thing to do with a human is ignore them, and the second best is kill them, but they've generally not been seen as evil except for the one Star-aspected elf behind the mirror.)  Recommended.  $12.99/$16.99Cn/#7.99UK

Way of the Househusband vol 8: Viz - This volume adds a new recurring character in the form of the sister of the crepe-making ex-Yakuza, plus another new character I kinda hope recurs (a lady cop who teaches a community self-defense class and proves more than capable of handling a couple of retired Yakuza).  No strong theme to the issue, but most of the chapters are strong.  What makes this volume notable, however, is a bonus Crime Catch Policure manga (Chapter XX), a bit of play within a play.  I'm not sure where Oono wanted this to fall on the parody to homage spectrum, but it does largely play fair with the magical girl tropes (albeit intentionally violating one of the usual rules).  Recommended.  $12.99/$17.99Cn/#9.99UK

Happy Kanako's Killer Life vol 5: Seven Seas Entertainment - Having had romance end very badly, Kanako is now ready to have a Girls' Night Out with new acquaintances from her field.  Yeah, that's gonna end badly too.  The various other romantic and "might be romantic if people weren't so dense and/or tsundere" entanglements do get some movement...and you guessed it, gonna end badly.  Badly may or may not include bullets, but that's pretty much always a possibility in Kanako's career.  Meanwhile, Kanako's talent for invisibility may or may not be verging on mystical.  Recommended.  $14.99/$18.99Cn

The 7 Deadly Sins: TKO Productions - No relation to the manga/anime series.  I decided to pick up a couple more books by Tze Chun, since I liked his Doctor Fang series from TKO.  This one...eh, not really to my taste.  It's your basic "Magnificent Seven" deconstruction, set a few years after the end of the Civil War and all tied up in huge amounts of both systemic and systematic racism.  It was never quite clear to me who all the sins were mapped to (gluttony is obvious, sloth names himself that, but it's not really a team name thing so much as a theme).  Lots of ultraviolence on the level of Marshal Law, and an ablative cast as one might expect.  Lots of horrible people, although the prime villain is a preacher who runs an orphanage.  A cowboy hamartography, if you will.  Not for me, but decently constructed.  $19.99

The Forgotten Blade: TKO Productions - Tze Chun's other available work right now, this starts off looking like a scummy fantasy setting but takes some twists.  The characters are just as unpleasant as in 7 Deadly Sins, and once again the main villain is a religious leader...in fact, there's a lot of structural similarities, just a smaller cast of rogues and the children one of the heroes wants to save are already dead (but due to setting weirdness saving them after a fashion is still a goal).  I liked it a little better than 7 Deadly Sins, perhaps because it had a more hopeful ending for the world (history tells us that things get worse for the world the Sins leave behind).  Mildly recommended.  $19.99


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 and the Ten Rings #1-2: Marvel - I'm pretty sure this is going to turn out to be another 12 issue maxiseries, despite lack of indication on the cover.  Although, making it a 10 issue series would be appropriate as well.  Anyway, now that Shang-Chi has the Ten Rings from the movie on top of running the Deadly Weapons Society, everyone is at best really nervous around him, and a lot of enemies and even erstwhile allies want to take the rings.  He doesn't want them in the first place, but the only thing worse than having them is losing them to someone else.  They are the suit that no man wants to get, yet no man wants to lose.  In #1, the usual suspects (including a few introduced in the previous series) make a play for the Rings and get smacked down hard.  In #2, a rather more elaborate plot is hatched to get around rather more elaborate protections, and meanwhile Shang-Chi goes on a nostalgic mission with some old MI6 allies against an old foe he'd thought dead (not that it would be the first of his enemies to treat death as a revolving door or otherwise fake it).  Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the Emperor has left him a real monkey's paw of a gift in the form of the Ten Rings.  Recommended.  $3.99

The pupils were probably a mistake,
but they're stuck with 'em.
Ultraman: the Mystery of UltraSeven #1 (of 5)
: Marvel - A lot of flashbacks to establish who UltraSeven is (the mystery is more of an open one for the readers) as the current and possibly former Ultraman host tries to figure out what the heck is up.  It doesn't really feel like a #1, because there's not really an obvious story break between the previous miniseries and this one.  Or, rather, the story break came midway through the previous miniseries, then they set up a cliffhanger.  Thus, some of the flashback load is off UltraSeven himself and just involved in catching up anyone who thought this was actually a new series.  UltraSeven's deal is that he's already tired of his race's non-interference rules, having watched civilization after civilization fall to the kaiju.  So he's going Punisher or something along those lines, breaking the law to save it.   There's also a couple of one page humor "Kaiju Steps" pieces, and a 1972 flashback that shows another piece of how the good guy organization is actually riddled with kaiju agents. Mildly recommended.  $4.99

Moon Knight #11: Marvel - While I'd read a scan of it before reading #12, I wanted to actually have it in hand before reviewing the issue.  It does a good job of tying up several threads before heading into the climax.  A personal admission or two, someone saved, someone beaten to a pulp, and Zodiac in position to start knocking over all the dominoes he's been setting up since #1.  Recommended, if kinda hard to find.  $3.99

Moon Knight #14: Marvel - Meanwhile, after the dominoes and such, it's time for Marc to have a heart to heart with Steven and Jake, who had been conspicuous by their absence lately.  The storytelling is a little unclear, I think the chat does start where #13 left off, with Marc seated in his office, but at some point this stops being a flashback intercut with Moon Knight fighting the out of town killers and starts being "live" commentary on why he's not doing so well in that fight.  I suppose part of the point is that Marc is messed up enough that time is a fickle mistress when it comes to this sort of thing.  Of course, with the D+ show, they were going to have to start bringing back elements that the show used, even if MacKay isn't going quite as far with it as Yang is over in Shang-Chi.  Recommended.  $3.99

The Blue Flame #9 (of 10): Vault - The book seems to have settled on the cosmic stuff being how the mundane guy processes trauma, although he finds out things in the cosmic side that it's hard to see how he'd know on the mundane side.  The trial, both inner and cosmic, reaches a tipping point as Sam realizes why the shooter went after his team and twenty innocents who happened to be there as well.  It is kinda "Heroes create villains" Grim&Gritty in presentation, although Cantwell does seem to be going somewhere slightly different than merely rehashing 90s comics cliches.  One issue to go, to see if this has all been setup for something that hangs together well and he sticks the landing, or if it falls apart into nihilism and angst.  Provisionally recommended.  $3.99

Vampirella/Dracula Unholy #6 (of 6): Dynamite - Yeah, definitely missed some important stuff here.  The actual climax happens pretty early on, the rest is Vampirella finding out the details and trying to cope.  It is a touch of the old nihilism and angst, but we ARE dealing with Dracula here.  And not the "forgot he couldn't sail a boat and ate all the crew of the Demeter" Dracula, either.  Previous parts of this story made it clear that people thought it was perfectly acceptable to kill a child to keep Dracula from coming back, and that does not make for happy endings.  Recommended.  $3.99

Draculina #5 (of 6): Dynamite - Yeah, while they're not labeled on the comic as such, I'm just going to start assuming six issue miniseries here. Things are starting to come together, and one of those things is the periapt macguffin that Draculina's been searching for in order to kill her dad.  But even without Hesiod the reality merchant's involvement, timelines are already highly messed up around both Katie and Draculina, so no one should really be expecting plans to go anywhere but badly sideways.  Even those who think they're pulling the strings are likely to get tangled up eventually...strings pull both ways, after all.  Katie gets a fair amount of good banter and snark in, while also being about the only "normal" viewpoint in the book, so it's up to her to remind everyone how messed up things are.  Recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony #4: IDW - More side story, although a teeeeny bit of main plot advancement at the end.  Basically, a focus issue on Princess Pipp, who decides to make a blog post that's actually deep and meaningful for once instead of shallow and glitzy, and it is predictably not all that popular.  It's "After School Special" levels of sorta-deep, and Forstner's foreground art is pretty good even if the backgrounds barely rise above "color gradient and some lines" for about half the pages.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Transformers: Last Bot Standing #4 (of 4): IDW - Wow.  I wonder if Su and Roche banged this one out in a weekend, the art quality has plummetted (and wasn't really up to their usual standards before).  There's a last minute macguffin thrown in to escalate the fighting, but otherwise it's basically just running up the body count until the inevitable resolution.  The ending isn't totally nihilistic, as bad as things are for Cybertronians, but man this was not worth using up the tail end of their license, unless their goal was to go out on a big middle finger to the franchise.  Neutral.  $5.99 (slightly oversized issue)

Transformers Shattered Glass II #1 (of 5): IDW - Well, this will have to hurry to get finished in time, although the fact that this series is also a toy pack-in might have given IDW a little flexibility on the license termination.  As with the previous volume, each issue focuses on one of the five characters who are getting Selects toys, and we start with Ultra Magnus.  He's just as rules-obsessed as the Lost Light continuity version, but more willing to twist and rewrite the rules.  He and his Wreckers get involved in the whole Titan plot point from volume 1, and UM picking a side is intercut with flashbacks to his origins as he went from an obscure analyst to a powerbroker, betraying his friend Senator Shockwave along the way.  (The panel borders make it clear when it's a flashback, fortunately, because the story tends to cut back and forth abruptly.)  Like most morality-swapped fictional worlds, it's a crappy place to live and I wouldn't want to visit it.  That can make it hard to engage a reader, who might be tempted to say, "Rocks fall, everybody dies," and put the book down.  Lore gets just enough into Ultra Magnus's internal conflict to interest me in what happens next, even if I hope #5 ends with a Titan stomping most of the cast into sheet metal.  $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), actually knows that running a comic shop is hard work unlike some people who got in over their heads, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.
"How are the office workers not seeing this...?" "They've seen weirder." - Katie and Zylaven, Draculina #5


Dave's Capsules for August 2022 Dave's Capsules for August 2022 Reviewed by Dvandom on Saturday, September 03, 2022 Rating: 5
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