Dave's Capsules for September 2022


Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Magical Boy vol 2

In this installment: Thor: Love and Thunder, Magical Boy vol 2, The Comic Book Lesson, Spy x Family vol 8, Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings #3, Ultraman: the Mystery of UltraSeven #2 (of 5), Moon Knight #15, Black Adam #4, Heroes of the Golden Age Reference Guide #6, Draculina #6 (of 6), Vampirella Year One #2-3 (of 6), Entropy #1 (of 5), Star Trek Lower Decks #1 (of 3), My Little Pony #5, Transformers Shattered Glass II #2 (of 5).

Still working out the kinks of ordering, I think I accidentally ordered a special cover of Black Adam #4 that cost more.  And LCS still hasn't send the store's August books, so I had to read a scan of #3 before reading the #4 I got this month. 

Current Wait List (books either Diamond didn't ship or my store failed to order): Black Adam #3

"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.

Thor: Love and Thunder: Disney/Marvel - I was a bit worried going in by spoilers indicating that some fridging was going to happen...the MCU has had a pretty bad record lately in terms of female heroes.  However, I thought the story worked well.  It wasn't killing someone off for shock or to motivate the male hero (although Thor was quite motivated), it was a proper heroic arc in which her sacrifice was part of actually stopping the antagonist.  It wasn't even "take the fatal blow so that Thor can do the real day-saving," she saved the day herself, knowing the cost.  Neither was Thor ultimately a bystander in his own story, it was a true team effort.  Meanwhile, although the main antagonist and general arc were taken from the comics, I found his motivation and actions to be a lot more believable and sympathetic here than in the comics (which I did read as part of a "Here, read this Dave, it's so bad" process that did not involve me buying or reviewing them).  As with Ragnarok, Waititi does tend to throw a little too much cheap humor into dramatic scenes, but did manage to get a few genuinely suspenseful and dramatic scenes off cleanly.  Recommended.  Streaming on Disney+, should be out on disc soonish.

Energy effect from a
Transformers toy.
Not really a review, but I found that McFarlane Toys made a "Gold Series" action figure of Deathstroke in his short-lived "Defiance" costume, which means either they're running out of modern IP to mine, or someone at the studio is a Priest fan.  It's a pretty good figure for $20.  No optional hands or unmasked head, just the energy staff and a boot knife as accessories.  My only real quibble is that the cape is glued on (and is very McFarlaney). 

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.

No Adventure Finders this month, Espinosa has been taking some time to go back over the existing issues for a new print publication.

Note, Wayne Family Adventures Season 2 has started on Webtoons, after about a month of hiatus.


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

A not-so-pretty cure.
Magical Boy vol 2: Scholastic/graphix - As an aside, I actually saw volume 1 on the shelves at Walmart over the summer.  Anyway, this wraps up the story...no 16-volume saga here.  There's enough of "Max is getting good at this" in the first half of this volume that the inevitable shift to Cosmic Stuff doesn't feel like a cheat, and everyone in Max's friend circle gets to have moments of awesome as well. Very good mix of melodrama, romance, and comedy.  Strongly recommended.  $15.99/$21.99Cn/#10.99uk

The Comic Book Lesson: Watson-Guptill - This is a sort of thematic sequel to The Drawing Lesson, but with a completely different set of characters.  The plot here is...well, the plot, among other things.  There are a LOT of how to draw books for various genres (mostly subgenres of manga), but there's been very few that went into the "how to use drawings to tell a story."  How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way is a venerable example of that, and still a very good guide to putting art together into a story, but it does focus on the Marvel Way, and that's not for everyone.  Especially those who come in from an interest in manga or manhwa.  Done in the more sketchy and warm monochrome style Crilley's been using a lot lately (but not exclusively), the protagonist is helped by a series of mentors through the basics of setting a scene, laying out individual pages, and eventually telling a complete story.  There's a nice hierarchy to the mentors as well.  The first is just someone who works at the local comic shop and is trying to break in, the second has gotten a few books finished and is a fixture in the local convention scene, while the last is an established creator of many years.  Each provides the next level of guidance when the protagonist is ready for it, in a "Yes, that's good, but here's how it can be better" fashion.  Being told as a story makes it less of a "look up the one step you needed" like many how-to books, but tying it to a narrative may help the lessons stick despite the relative lack of overt examples.  As a teaching tool it's easily as good as the Drawing Lesson, but it's a bit dryer as a story, and didn't grab me quite as much.  Recommended.  $18.99/$24.99

Spy x Family vol 8: Viz Media - The entire volume is about the cruise ship adventure, and that story will be continued in vol 9, making it probably the biggest single-plot run so far in the title.  Yor has the spotlight, since her assassin gig has turned into a bodyguarding job, while Loyd and Anya are merely along for the ride (and to provide occasional, "I can't let papa see mama being a killer or he won't love her anymore" anxiety scenes).  So, lots and lots of over the top and rather bloody fighting, along with a significant amount of "Why am I still doing this?" pondering...which isn't a thing one should indulge in DURING the over the top bloody fighting.  This is basically Yor's version of the tennis episode, working with someone from her own agency and getting an extended look at how frighteningly competent she is even when caught entirely unprepared.  Recommended.  $9.99/$12.99Cn/#7.99UK (but cheaper at big box stores that have started carrying it)


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 #3: Marvel - The other day I was explaining what connected the handful of main-continuity Marvel and DC books I still read, and a big part of it was writers who took advantage of the setting to help the story feel like a part of a bigger world, without letting that bigger world overwhelm it with crossovers.  Yang has done a good job of this...if you know what's going on in other Marvel books, it makes things richer, but you don't have to read any other books to get the whole story.  Whether mining Shang-Chi's own continuity via his old MI6 friends last issue and this issue, or bringing in someone from the X-books because their appearance makes sense, this book remains connected to the rest of Marvel while not being burdened by it.  Also, the new mystic threat is quite creepy, kudos on the visual design.  Recommended.  $3.99.

Ultraman: the Mystery of UltraSeven #2 (of 5): Marvel - Since the Ultra Q flashback story in the first Marvel Ultraman mini, it's been clear that the USP has been compromised, if not by the kaiju then by forces of similar ill-intent.  While Dan Moroboshi has flashbacks and current day stuff getting to know and cope with UltraSeven, Shin Hayata finally makes a move to break free of the USP's increasingly malign influence (and get his powers back, he hopes, but that's not USP's fault).  Also, while they could have been a little clearer about it, Shin's been experiencing those flashback memories when he sleeps or passes out, so at least he's as up-to-speed as the readers are.  (No backup stories or one-pagers this time.)  Recommended.  $3.99

Moon Knight #15: Marvel - This is comics, so it won't last (it never does), but Marc, Steven, and Jake have come to an accommodation and the tripartate hero is as healed as he ever gets (which isn't very, but he's functional).  MacKay is basically finishing off his reintroduction of Marc's other selves, since the last time they were relevant in the comics was...um, not recently.  And the comics versions are not really like the MCU versions.  (Unlike Shang-Chi, Moon Knight isn't being altered to better fit his on-screen version, so Steven Grant is still a suave multimillionaire not-Bruce-Wayne, for instance.)  There's also a good montage at the end where he comes clean with his associates about his "god-modded" dissociative identity disorder, to varying reactions.  I love Hunter's Moon's take on it, though.  Recommended.  $3.99

Black Adam #4 (of 12): DC - I'll review #3 if I ever get a physical copy, but I've read scans so I'm not totally lost here.  :)  The mysteries presented in #1 continue to get unraveled, mostly revealing more mysteries under them.  Teth-Adam himself has to deal with a bit of an ontological pickle: in a world where gods are indisputably real, that doesn't mean that every powerful being who comes by claiming to be a god is telling the truth.  Darkseid wasn't real.  Was DeSaad real?  Was any of the vision quest stuff in #3 real, or just an illusion or delusion?  Was the infection that's been killing him inflicted upon him by gods, or is it the gods themselves?  Meanwhile, Malik has inherited a few bits of supporting cast business repurposed from Priest's prose novels (specifically, Dual, but a little 1999 too), if in a milder form.  Recommended.  $4.99, but I accidentally ordered a variant cardstock cover and I suspect the regular version is $3.99.

Heroes of the Golden Age Reference Guide #6: Temporal Comics - They saved a few of the more prominent names, like Blue Beetle and Green Lama, for this probably-final issue (the plan is to collect all six into a TPB next).  Unfortunately, the editing quality is quite poor this issue, with a lot of weird sentence fragments and lines that read like they were machine-translated from another language.  Hopefully they take the time to do another editing pass on these before putting together the collected edition.  Very mildly recommended.  Purchased through Kickstarter, no cover price.

Draculina #6 (of 6): Dynamite - Collette Turner is falling into something of a pattern, between this and Vampi Year One, the covers are pretty samey.  The Macguffin Periapt finally gets deployed, with lots of "arguing with myself" between Katie and Draculina, never letting it be too clear if Draculina's jaded viewpoint is valid or Katie's idealism is hopelessly naive...but there is still a resolution.  An ending to the current conflict, an uneasy detente until the next conflict starts.  And, importantly but oh so briefly, a major character development moment for Lilith.  Will she backslide?  Obviously.  Normal people do, and Lilith has been an obsessed and generally evil person for centuries, you don't handwave that with a single epiphany.  But it's a start.  Recommended.  $3.99

The real Bat-Cow.
Vampirella Year One #2-3 (of 6): Dynamite - #2 is the rest of young Vampi's life with the Senator's family, and has about as much comic relief as one can get from a story that also involves viscera being splattered about.  From pampered princess to ward of a Senator is a bit of a step down, but it's not horrible.  Then in #3 it gets horrible, with Lilith using Vampi in her first big attempt to get Draculina back (forming a nice bookend to sorta-resolving that quest this month), before abandoning her to an implied pretty nasty fate.  Then it's montage time as Vampi gets found by a mentor who isn't 100% horrible and learns to fight and fly and wear skimpy clothing.  (There's a reallllly obvious "loss of virginity" metaphor when Vampi first deploys her wings, and the wings are why she at least has to wear a skimpy top.  That's their explanation and they're sticking to it.)  Once in a while the story anchors in the present, with very pregnant Vampi narrating to her unborn child, but most of the time it's Kid Vampi with a lot of strategic wind-blown hair or debris keeping this from going past risque.  Recommended.  $3.99 each.

Entropy #1 (of 5): Heavy Metal - I had to special order this, because Heavy Metal has gotten very bad at hitting ship dates and my new store doesn't wanna deal with that.  As of the last time I checked, #2 is solicted for either June 2023 or "TBD," while #3 is set for November and #4 for October, so I think my store has a point about ship dates.  The high concept is that this random Earth dude gets made into the herald of a Third Party Knockoff Galactus named Kako (from Greek for "very bad," the obscure Greek goddess of unrighteous and dissipative behavior was named Kakia), and he does not have the insane levels of nobility of a Norrin Radd.  So...power corrupts.  This issue is deliberately confusing setup with time all aflutter (much like the book's release schedule) and Earth getting destroyed then undestroyed and maybe it was all a warning-shot vision or maybe actual time shenanigans and we're really not expected to be any less confused than the protagonist right now.  It also technically is set in the "Taarna Universe" that Heavy Metal is trying to launch, so a lot of evil stuff is green in the Loc Nar fashion.  Hard to give this one a recommendation yet, one way or the other.  $4.99

Star Trek Lower Decks #1 (of 3): IDW - (I may have trouble getting the other two issues, they haven't been showing up as orderable from my shop.)  Written by Ryan North, who continues the footnote style he used in Squirrel Girl, just not on every page and done in a more readable color.  North definitely has the tone of the show down pat, as well as the sort of plots...although the Bridge Crew B-plot feels a little too important.  Anyway, one of the recurring themes of STLD is running into the fallout from or leftovers of Enterprise missions, and North has picked Ship In A Bottle (TNG) for the A-plot of this miniseries.  Recommended.  $6.99 (slightly longer story, a cover gallery, a "spot the references" feature, some in-setting ads, and two pages of just inks from the middle of the issue for the process fans).

My Little Pony #5: IDW - Structurally, this is a campfire ghost story, even though it's told in a lighthouse.  And unless the narrator is REALLY unreliable, it throws doubt on whether the writer actually thinks G5 is the future of "our" G4...bits of backstory simply don't fit anywhere in the G4 timeline, but would work quite well as an alternate universe where matters 1000 years ago unfolded a little differently and that eventually led to a similar but not identical G4-like storyline that is the past of G5.  A way to split the difference, make this a future of Twilight's Equestria without the "real" Twilight having had to fail so badly that the tribes separated and magic was lost.  Or it could just be sloppy writing.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Transformers Shattered Glass II #2 (of 5): IDW - This is the Evil Blaster spotlight issue, told almost entirely from his self-serving and biased perspective, as he gets one last chance to redeem himself after failing in the first SG miniseries.  Only in the last few pages do we get a peek at the truth of his life and its repeated failures (and I just know that some of the more right-wing among Transformers fans will see this sequence as an attack on one or more red bubble media darlings).  Most of the best regular-universe Decepticons are those whose ideals have led them astray into compromise and fanaticism, but it seems like a lot of the Shattered Glass Autobots are like Blaster here...just pathetic bullies with no moral compass, not even a damaged one.  The goal may be "villains you cheer to see lose," but I just kinda sigh and shake my head at SG Blaster.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99  (And no, I don't plan to get the toy, I don't find the color scheme interesting.)

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), still figuring out the new store's ordering system, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.
"Great.  Just what the world needs -- another BLACK GUY with LIGHTNING POWERS." - Malik, Black Adam #4


Dave's Capsules for September 2022 Dave's Capsules for September 2022 Reviewed by Dvandom on Friday, September 30, 2022 Rating: 5
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