Dave's Capsules for March 2023

Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Nothing this month.  Been a bit of a dry spell.

In this installment: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (D+), Star Rangers Bakemono Files #1, Chainsaw Man vol 4-11, Spy x Family vol 9, Hilo vol 9, American Born Chinese (GN), Fantastic Four #4, Monkey Prince #11 (of 12), Black Adam #8 (of 12), Gargoyles #3, Vampirella Year One #6 (of 6), Draculina Blood Simple #1 (of 6), My Little Pony #10, My Little Pony Classics Reimagined Little Fillies #4 (of 4).

Most of the floppies this month are from January, since I'm now getting them by mail and shipped at the end of each month.

March floppies expected to arrive in the mail next month: Black Adam #9 (of 12), Draculina: Blood Simple #2 (of 6), Dungeons & Dragons: Saturday Morning Adventures #1, Fantastic Four #5, Gargoyles #4, Monkey Prince #12 (of 12), Moon Knight #21, Superman: Lost #1 (of 12)

"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.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
: Disney+ - Normally I wait for the season to fully end before reviewing it, but they seem to be doling this out in chunks, and 11 episodes is enough for me to form a solid opinion (especially since they make it clear that there isn't a strong Arc here).  Basically, this series is a sort of modern hip-hop love letter to 1970s kidvid.  Specifically the sort of cartoon or live action show that had a musical number in every episode, tried to hit you over the head with a Moral, and spent a lot of time in sitcom hijinks.  However, it does this through the lens of a super-intelligent inventor girl and the red "super-intelligent for a dinosaur I guess" T.rex she hangs out with.  And mad science makes a lot of things work (for explody values of "work" of course).  I mean, seriously, if you looked at the basic plots and premises of most of the episodes, I should be too annoyed to make it past the opening credits.  Instead, with a few weak episode exceptions (S1E2 is pretty dire), I've been enjoying this series.  Also, props to the creators for mixing up the musical selections, which get pretty eclectic.  The visual language and sensibility are hip-hop, but the music isn't always from that genre (there's one 70s soft rock song that's actually a diegetic plot point).  A number of plot points from the comics do get used, if not always in the same way.  For instance, there's no indication that Luna is an Inhuman or has any powers other than being scary smart, but they do the mind-swap thing via a bit of mad science that Luna invents in a failed attempt to deal with social anxiety.  (For those who didn't read the comics, Luna has the power to mind-switch with Devil, but it wasn't exactly controllable at first.  Or she had the power, I gave up after a couple years when the writing started to slide.)  There are occasional nods to other Marvel characters (in S1E1 no one believes the Avengers are going to bother with the problems of the Lower East Side), but it seems to be its own Earth rather than trying to connect to the MCU or any other Marvel continuity.  Also, it's officially titled "Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur," but meh on that.  Recommended.  Up through S1E11 available by the end of March 2023.
I got Batman: the Doom that Came to Gotham at the end of the month, but didn't have time to watch it yet.

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.

Star Rangers Bakemono Files #1: Self-Published - This is a spinoff from the Star Rangers webcomic (which started as a Kickstarted GN), featuring a group of characters who don't fit neatly into the "costumed heroes versus monsters" conflict.  The main character is the offspring of a Scout (the setting's sort of combination power ranger/sailor scout deal) and a Bakemono, and she works at a restaurant that's a cover for several Bakemono who aren't interested in the big conflict and would like to avoid Stellar Black (the "evil" organization) as much as they'd like to avoid the Scouts.  Of course, when some Bakemono need to eat human flesh, staying under the radar is a little harder, and the neutrals also have to police their own to avoid drawing down unwanted attention.  In this first issue, a different sort of potentially unwanted attention comes in the form of a civilian-mode Scout running into the main character and becoming smitten with her (pretty much every character is a woman or presents as such, and I'm not entirely sure anyone with a speaking part is interested in men except maybe as part of a complete breakfast).  Screentoned black and white 90s-retro manga style, an interesting start to a story but clearly not a one-shot.  Recommended.  $5 at https://kagura-art.square.site and a print run has been made for convention sales.

Health issues and an ambitious plot have delayed Adventure Finders until next month.


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

Chainsaw Man vol 4-11: Viz/Shonen Jump - Okay, caught up.  Conveniently, the first major arc ends at #11.  Lots of black-blood gore, occasional mild nudity, and apparently conflict within the Platonic realm of Forms.  I'm not deeply informed on the nature of Japanese devil/oni mythology, so I can't say if this manga is tapping some deep element I haven't come across yet, but it sure seems like the "devils" are more like conceptual embodiments.  Not necessarily evil, it's just that the negative ones feed on fear and have motivation to come make trouble.  In one of the big Master Plan reveal bits later on, we find that if a devil is truly killed rather than sent back to hell temporarily, its very concept is erased, as if this were a particularly gruesome Nobilis game.  Also, Denji and Power are lovable ultraviolent dumbasses, so there's a little something for everyone.  Recommended but potentially a bit triggery even in black and white.  $9.99 for most volumes, if you find them at big box stores they're usually cheaper.

Spy x Family vol 9: Viz/Shonen Jump - Something of a mixed bag volume, since it wraps up the cruise ship plot from vol 8 and then does a few side story bits including one that focuses mainly on Frankie and the Twilight-obsessed spy from the tennis mission.  Sure, most volumes have been episodic, it's just the contrast with a long arc that makes it feel more disconnected.  Recommended.  $9.99

Hilo vol 9: Gina and the Last City on Earth: Random House - The mystery of what happened to Earth is solved, although it's not the kind of mystery where the reader is expected to have figured it out too much before the characters do, since it involves a plot device introduced in this volume.  The mystery of What Is Up With Hilo Anyway is also resolved, and the whole thing is tied up in the theme of wanting to hold onto who you are and what you have and not let go even if it's unhealthy to cling to things.  It's not exactly about mourning, or about growing up, but it's also about both of those things.  And about zapping stuff with magic, hazzah!  Recommended.  $13.99

American Born Chinese: :01 First Second - With this getting a high profile live action adaptation coming to Disney+ in May with a number of big names (some made bigger for having been in Everything Everywhere All At Once), I figured I'd finally check out Gene Luen Yang's 2006 Graphic Novel.  It starts as a trio of stories, trading off chapters before coming together at the end.  One is a very realistic tale of a young boy born of immigrant parents who is trying to fit in amid the casual racism of 1980s San Francisco and consistently making bad decisions.  Another features an older high school student who is repeatedly embarrassed by his cousin Chin-Kee, a deliberately offensive caricature of Chinese-Americans who seems to be set up as a more metaphorical presence (e.g. he's not as bad as Danny portrays him, the exaggeration is a result of Danny trying so hard to assimilate that he sees his less-assimilated cousin as an embarrassing stereotype).  And then there's a retelling of the story of the Monkey King, which is where all the special effects budget is going to go for the live action adaptation.  A lot of the details are different from any of the versions I've read before, but Folklore Gonna Folklore.  The core is still there, Monkey gets full of himself and causes havoc in heaven until being humbled by the one above all and taught a lesson in humility by a monk who is on a journey to the west.  Monkey's attempts to get recognized for his improvements mirror the two 20th Century story threads, in which being untrue to one's own nature is a Problem...even if one's own nature is also a Problem, just a different one.  I won't go into the details of how things wrap up (well, okay, Monkey learns humility, but that's spoilers for a 1300 year old story), since I expect the show is going to get a LOT of people exposed to this story for the first time and spoiler concerns should be respected.  I will say that you can tell this is an early work by Yang, because some of the storytelling is a bit clunky or even ham-fisted, and you're going to have to put up with some parts that are deliberately uncomfortable (even moreso now than in 2006, I suspect), but it's worth reading.  Recommended.  $14.99 (2021 edition)


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.)

As will be the usual from now on, these are books from the previous month.

Fantastic Four #4: Marvel - And finally we get the story of why there's a large hole in Manhattan and the FF are on the run.  But rather than do a normal flashback, there's an in-story reason for the flashbacks, dredging up an obscure bit of FF lore as justification.  Unfortunately, as often happens with delayed explanations, it's kinda meh.  North does seem more interested in the consequences than the event itself, but the event itself leans even harder than normal into Illusion Of Change.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Monkey Prince #11 (of 12): DC - The true origin of the Monkey Prince (which raises as many questions as it answers)!  Sun Wukong in the flesh!  A painfully obvious "out" for the end of issue cliffhanger!  And a load of danglers that probably won't be wrapped up in #12 even if it's double-sized, so I guess we get to hope for a sequel miniseries?  Definitely an interesting companion to American Born Chinese this month, though...Yang writing the Great Sage Equaling Heaven in two different stories almost two decades apart.  Recommended, but I worry that the final issue will fail to deliver on the promise of the previous eleven.  $3.99

Coup d'tete.
Black Adam #8 (of 12): DC - Part of the original Black Adam origin story (reprinted earlier this year) was that at some point he decided he should rule Egypt, and he killed the Pharaoh.  With the newer more complex take on Teth-Adam, it's only right that this one panel bit of business get expanded on.  Shiny Happy Teth-Adam seen in Malik's visions last issue seems quite at odds with, "For resisting me you get a broken neck!"  So, basically, we get an explanation of why serving the rightful ruler wasn't working out for Teth-Adam...he's still a murderer and usurper, but his motives are a little more sympathetic.  Of course, this isn't a vision of Malik's this time, it's a story told by Theo himself, so one can understand being a little skeptical of its objectivity.  Recommended.  $3.99

Gargoyles #3: Dynamite - Given that the previous two issues were all about parading everyone from the cartoon and the previous comic on stage, it's perhaps inevitable that the people behind the baby-napping were the only major antagonists who hadn't shown up yet.  I guess the actual story begins next issue, now that they've gotten the "should have been a handbook" issues out of the way.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Vampirella Year One #6 (of 6): Dynamite - Other than Entropy (which may never actually come out), this is the last of my orders from the previous store.  And, of course, the order got screwed up and it took me fifteen minutes or so to get my copy.  The store looks nice, but their three-tiered inventorying system meets Diamond malarkey and leaves me fighting to get books, glad I'm basically done there.  Anyway, as for this story, it brings a few more of the Sacred Six into Vampi's life, and finally lets her know that she's stuck on Earth for...a while.  Of course, since Dynamite is allergic to ongoing series, this all leads into the next mini, Vampirella/Dracula: Rage or some combination of punctuation in between the words.  Anyway, the series as a whole did a good job of collecting decades worth of lore and neatening it up (with more than a few retcons, I suspect) before moving on.  Recommended.  $3.99

Draculina Blood Simple #1 (of 6): Dynamite -  A lot of this issue is establishing the status quo, which has admittedly gotten kinda complicated in only a few short years.  Who the three Draculinas are ("Two!"  Whatever, Victory), the circumstances of their birth and of Vampirella's...let's call it birth too, I guess.  A few minor characters are introduced and maybe even some survive, but this is about putting the major pieces back on the board for the next game.  Or games. With Lilith, you can generally be sure that there's more than one game going on.  Recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony #10: IDW - And the anticlimax.  The comic isn't cancelled yet, but it looks like they're just marking time with one-offs for the foreseeable future.  I'm out, though.  The "climax" of the story is just repeating something the readers got earlier, which is less foreshadowing and more over-explaining.  A weak attempt was made to recontextualize it, but that only weakened its impact.  Neutral.  $3.99

My Little Pony Classics Imagined: Little Fillies #4 (of 4): IDW - Time to rush through the rest of the adaptation while spending a lot of time pointing out how unfaithful this adaptation is being.  This is actually helpful for those of us who have never read it or seen a faithful adaptation, as the fourth wall breaks form a sort of negative space summary of the actual story.  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), has gotten a TTRPG club launched at his school, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.
"You never show me anything I approve of after you say, 'BEHOLD!'" - Luna's friend Casey, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur S1E7 "Good Night, Moon Girl"


Dave's Capsules for March 2023 Dave's Capsules for March 2023 Reviewed by Dvandom on Thursday, March 30, 2023 Rating: 5
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