Dave's Capsules for June 2023

Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Cursed Princess Club vol 2

In this installment: Secret Invasion (D+), Beach WZRD #3, Go Go Loser Ranger! vol 4, Magical Girl Incident vol 1, Lost in Taiwan, Spider-Man Animals Assemble, CosmoKnights vol 2, Mech Cadet Yu vol 1-3, Cursed Princess Club vol 2, Fantastic Four #7-8, Black Adam #11 (of 12), Saturday Morning Adventures Dungeons & Dragons #3, Gargoyles #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.

Secret Invasion: Marvel/Disney+ - Meh.  While I do enjoy some espionage thriller stories, this didn't grab me.  Probably because it feels like a gratuitously Dark And Gritty turn for the MCU, copying the kinds of comics I avoid and the sort of Shock Plot Points that turn me off.  I suppose I'll read a summary when it's over, maybe even watch the final episode, but I don't have the patience to sit through more than that of Dark Paranoid Double Crossing And World Burning stuff.  I got too much of that from Winter Soldier, and this looks even darker and more paranoid.  

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.

Beach WZRD #3: McNostril.com - After her notable setback in #2, the WZRD deals with it in the manner of her ilk...massive denial and egocentrism.  She deigns to explain her motives (sort of), and backhandedly admits that the witch might be not completely useless.  Also, torches and pitchforks (or something close enough) are brought out, and efforts are made to impress a small child (spoiler: the child is VERY impressed).  Recommended.  $4 at mcnostril.com (click the banner at the top).


Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here.
"Blue is the psycho killer" is
not how the trope usually works.

Go Go Loser Ranger! vol 5
: Kodansha - The qualifying test for unassigned ranger candidates just sort of blurs into fighting the mysterious boss monster revealed last time to have survived.  Fighter D's secret is outed pretty blatantly a few times, but I think he's saved by the fact that the observers are idiots.  Story-wise, this is one of those cases where it's fairly clear the creator was NOT "writing for the trade," in that the opening bit is kinda awkward and it doesn't feel like this was planned to be a chunk on its own.  It does END on a very good story beat, even compared to how almost every chapter ends on some sort of cliffhanger this time around.  Rated Teen 13+ for some black and white blood and severe injury. Recommended.  $10.99/$14.99Cn

Magical Girl Incident vol 1: Yen Press - If I had a nickel for every magical girl setting I've read where the protagonist has gender issues I'd have three nickels, which isn't a lot, but it's weird that it seems to be turning into a subgenre.  However, unlike Magical Girl Holy Aura or Magical Boy, the gender swap is (so far) entirely played as a gag.  A twenty-something salaryman finds he can turn into a magical girl, and apparently this is a world where that sort of thing (well, magical girls in general, and maybe super sentai) happens.  It's not entirely clear in the first volume if wanting to grow up to become a Power Ranger is actually a viable career path (unlike in Go Go Loser Ranger, where it's very much a thing one can try to do).  His work friend, a rich guy putting in time in the cubicles because dad wants him to learn what real work is like, very quickly gets in on the secret and produces rather a lot of resources that seem to have been prepared well in advance for this sort of thing.  In short, this volume is almost entirely WTF with no indication that explanations will be coming real soon.  I did worry it'd be a train wreck of misogyny or something, but so far...not ruling out that it'll go bad directions in the future, but I'm willing to give it another volume.  $15.00/$19.50Cn
Lose one friend, gain another.

Lost in Taiwan: Little, Brown and Company - A self-absorbed teenager and nascent Ugly American ends up getting lost in Taiwan, as it says on the label, but instead of coming to a Bad End he's lucky enough to meet some people willing to help him find his way back to his brother's apartment.  A mixture of travelogue and growing the hell up, with occasional cringe that is the point of the journey.  Note, a fair amount of dialogue is in untranslated Chinese (Taiwanese version), but most of it clear from context.  I cheated and used a phone app, which did fine on the speech balloons, less well on the hand-drawn signs (which do tend to be more stylized).  Recommended.  $17.99/$22.99Cn

Spider-Man Animals Assemble!: Amulet Books/Marvel - Mike Maihack, well known on social media for cute superhero art (largely of Supergirl and Batgirl), gets a hardcover young readers comic under the "A Mighty Marvel Team-Up" banner.  The premise is that Spider-Man wants to get in on a big fight in the park, but keeps getting saddled with pet-sitting duty while a pigeon listens to him bemoan his ignoble fate.  There's really only two ways this story could go, and Maihack picks "the animals help Spider-Man deal with the threat in the park" direction (as opposed to "Spider-Man does the chase-the-baby gag the entire time while the fight scene happens purely in the background," although he does do the chase-the-baby gag a fair amount too).  Obviously pitched to younger readers, but a fun enough read for adults too.  Recommended.  $12.99/$16.99Cn/#9.99UK

CosmoKnights Book Two: Top Shelf - As with volume 1, I read this as a weekly strip for about a year (2-4 page chunks each week).  It definitely feels like a solid middle of an epic, by the end of it the sides are pretty much firmed up and the world is changing whether people want it to or not.  Several personal arcs are moved forwards in meaningful ways, with both expected and unexpected connections.  Recommended.  $24.99/$33.99Cn

Mech Cadet Yu vol 1-3: Boom Studios - I presume these will be reprinted under the Kaboom imprint soon, but I got older stock.  The overall plot arc is standard Heroic Journey, with Just Some Guy being thrust into the middle of things and helping save the world because of Heart and Guts, although in this case also because of some of his non-martial (and somewhat sneered-at) skills.  A recurring theme is that the "hard choices" made by leadership are really just hard on the grunts while being easy to the point of laziness for the leaders themselves.  Related is a secondary theme of those in power mistrusting any source of power other than their own...specifically the alien mechs who have come to help protect Earth from alien invaders.  The three volumes are basically a single novel or movie, so I kinda expect the upcoming streaming series will move past the end of volume 3 (there's plenty of plot danglers, for all that the personal growth arcs are pretty solidly completed), unless they pad things out with a lot of extended action sequences.  Or, you know, do the "a season is six 22 minute episodes and one writer had three weeks to adapt the comic into a script" sort of stunt that's part of why writers are justifiably on strike.  Current events aside, a solid series and all the volumes are easily accessible online.  The Boom editions have cover prices of $14.99/$19.99Cn/#10.99UK, but I got a couple of them for less than cover price online.

Mirror Horror.
Cursed Princess Club vol 2
: WebToon - Okay, so after getting volume 1 I caught up with the strip online, and am currently in the agony of yet another hiatus (episodes come in bursts of a few weeks) as the endgame of the final volume is underway.  This hardcopy volume collects episodes 35-61 (episode length is not uniform), covering the sisters' first big outing, the revelation that each of the Pastel Princesses has at least one rival involved (in two cases, rivals for the Plaid Princess, in the third a rival for the princess's affections), plus Prince Jaime continues to be mistake for a girl except when he's naked, which is once in a while.  The volume wraps up with the origin of the Cursed Princess Club, and Prez's deep dark secret.  Fun semi-farcical take on fairy tale tropes and romance stories.   346 pages, full color.  Strongly recommended.  $18.99/$23.99Cn


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.)

Fantastic Four #7: Marvel - This is an oversized special issue because in Legacy Numbering it's #700.  Anyway, the first half is another Weird Science Mystery, followed by the revelation that Dr. Doom was behind it and then Doom speedruns an entire volume's worth of What If? in an attempt to undo the plotline.  By which, I mean he repeatedly uses time travel to try various "If I'd been there when things happened, events would have unfolded differently" tactics, and always gets a worse result, since a core conceit of What If? is that the main timeline comics as published were always the best possible world.  At least Doom comes up with a reasonable Watsonian surmise for why this is so in the current situation, but it still feels like spending an oversized issue just to let North thumb his nose at critics of the plotline.  Mildly recommended.  $5.99

Fantastic Four #8: Marvel - After the memory-related Weird Science Mystery of the first half of #7, another memory-related Weird Science Mystery feels like it's going back to that well too soon.  Throwing in an homage to Kirby's 1950s monsters helps a little, but it really feels like the FF needs to invest in mental firewalls.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Black Adam #11 (of 12): DC - In which we discover that Teth-Adam's soul-self wears a trenchcoat and three piece suit.  The Akkadian space virus pseudo-gods are in full "jerk everyone around" mode here, and the fact that Adam is aware of this doesn't really help at all.  Gonna take some high speed weaving to get all the plot threads together in the single remaining issue, though.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Saturday Morning Adventures Dungeons and Dragons #3: IDW - Some random act two monster fighting, plot twist, revelation of the real villain...kinda by the numbers.  About the only interesting parts are a few very short character moments, but all in all this reads like a lost episode of the TV show, and not in a good way.  Very mildly recommended.  $3.99

Gargoyles #6: Dynamite - AKA The Dracon Family Adventures guest starring Gargoyles.  The gargoyles are basically just reacting, Goliath's "Measure of a Man" sort of subplot seems mostly an excuse to get everyone on edge and acting appropriately stupid.  The book continues to feel like Weisman really wanted to write crime drama but they offered him enough money to put the gargoyles in it.  Very 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), survived the lethally tall manga stack, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.
"I mean, how did Black Panther even get a panther UP here?" - Spider-Man talking to a pigeon, Spider-Man Animals Assemble!


Dave's Capsules for June 2023 Dave's Capsules for June 2023 Reviewed by Dvandom on Wednesday, June 28, 2023 Rating: 5
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