Dave's Capsules for July 2023

Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): How To Be A Mind Reaver vol 3

In this installment: The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher, Kaiju No 8 vol 7, How To Be A Mind Reaver vol 3, Lackadaisy Essentials, Fantastic Four #9, Moon Knight #24-25, Superman Lost #4-5 (of 10), Black Adam #12 (of 12), Saturday Morning Adventures Dungeons & Dragons #4 (of 4), Gargoyles #7, Gargoyles Dark Ages #1 (of 6?), Draculina Blood Simple #4 (of 6), Gladstone's Revenge (one-shot).

"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.

Nothing this month.  I am enjoying My Adventures With Superman, but will review it once the season is complete (especially since there's one plot point that could ruin the show for me depending on how it's handled).  And yes, the "Kryptonian language" in this is Esperanto, something DC's animation people have done before.

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.


Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here.
Mystery of the Meanest Teacher: DC - Subtitled "A Johnny Constantine graphic novel," implying that they plan to do more.  So.  John Constantine, who sold his soul so many times that it turned into an occult version of The Producers, was softened a bit for the recent "Constantine as an 18 year old" YA graphic novel.  And now he's softened even more to be a grade school kid who WANTS to be called Kid Constantine.  And he teams up with a young Zatanna who...has none of the Zatanna lore around her, apparently.  Casts regular spells, no mention of her dad (although that could come up in a later book).  Really, this is just "Magical kid boarding school adventure in an otherwise mundane world" with some DC IP slapped on it.  I mean, if you ignore that it really has nothing to do with John Constantine or Zatanna Zatara's characters, it's a decent story about being out of one's element and learning to accept the value of friendship while delving into the mysteries of magic.  Ryan North's usual "yeah, here's the fourth wall, I'm putting post-it notes on it" writing style works okay for this story.  In general, though, it's an object lesson in how far you can't push a piece of IP.  Mildly recommended.  $9.99/$13.50

Not important, sorry.
Kaiju No. 8 vol 7
: Viz - The big fight with No. 9 wraps up in the first dozen or so pages, and then it's a lot of aftermath and "I must get stronger" stuff from multiple characters, some of whom are a little too hard to tell apart (like, the guy on the cover seems to be getting set up for a Big Powerup, but then the camera shifts to another guy with the same build but slightly different hair, who instead pulls focus for most of the rest of the volume).  One problem with collecting something that's originally put out in short weekly installments (which I think is the case here, maybe twice monthly?) is that the pacing can get really screwed up if the creators aren't tightly Writing For The Trade.  This is one of the volumes that suffers pretty badly from the pacing not working well for collections.  Mildly recommended.  $9.99/$12.99Cn/#7.99UK, rated Teen for violence.

How To Be A Mind Reaver vol 3: Antler Studio - Another Kickstarted collection of the really good webcomic.  This volume wraps up a little of the "tears of the Evil God" plot before putting that on the back burner to spend most of the volume on the story of the Northern Wastes, a flashback to Cthu's wandering days.  It doesn't QUITE fit properly (same problem as Kaiju No. 8 has this month), with the climax of the tale happening on the final story page, and all the aftermath and revelations held to the next volume (or just go to the Patreon and catch up there).  Anyway, despite the focus on a somewhat tragic part of Cthu's backstory, the humor is still plentiful and the general tone of "Monsters are people too," comes through well.  Strongly recommended.  No cover price, but hit up Edd Lai on Patreon.com and there should be a current store link.

So cute, so deadly.
Lackadaisy Essentials: Iron Circus Comics - Speaking of Kickstarter, this was the main physical reward for the Kickstarter that got the pilot episode of the Lackadaisy cartoon made.  I discovered the webcomic maybe a week or two before it went on hiatus to focus on animation, a hiatus it is still on, which is kind of frustrating.  This book is a bit of a hodge podge, it's not a collection of the webcomic itself (that's what the current Kickstarter offers), it's a mix of "bonus materials" (snarky drawing tutorials, short strips both in-continuity and very not-in-continuity featuring the characters) and new materials made for the book (character guide, possibly other stuff).  It's meant to be a Coffee Table Book, so a lot of work was put into making it attractive, which also means it's a bit on the pricey side.  If you're already a fan of the webcomic and somehow didn't back the Kickstarter, though, this is worth getting.  Oh, and I suppose for those who have no idea what this is, it's the story of a speakeasy in decline during Prohibition-era in St. Louis, featuring anthropomorphic cats.  And really really good art.  Recommended.  $40.


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.)

This month is a little weird, because the person who does mail order was on vacation for the first week or so of the month, and almost all of my comics for July (everything except Charm City, basically) came out in the first two weeks, so I got most of my July books here too.

Fantastic Four #9: Marvel - Okay, so the Classic Marvel Monster isn't completely made up by North, she's a member of the same race as a canonical monster, Moomba.  Anyway, the theme of this issue is similar to that of the Strange New Worlds episode, "Lotus Eaters."  A lot of who you are is tied up in memories, but there's going to be a core that remains no matter what you remember about yourself.  This is basically Alicia's turn to shine, although for all that this two part story plays around with what the "four" means in Fantastic Four, there's no move to change to Fantastic Five once things are resolved.  :)  Mildly recommended.  $3.99
Moon Knight #24: Marvel - It's Moon Knight versus Morpheus, who is one of Moon Knight's earliest and most persistent "superscience masquerading as magic" villains.  So, lots of dreamscapes and deliberately weird art choices, but unlike the usual dreamscape storyline, Moon Knight is onto it almost immediately...not that this makes it any easier to deal with.  The ending feels a little like "breaking toys rather than putting them back in the toybox," but death is more of a revolving door around Marc Spector than even the usual for comics (current mutants aside).  Recommended.  $3.99
Moon Knight is behind the...yeah.
(Not from this month's comics,
but a good image)
Moon Knight #25
: Marvel - Big anniversary issue with a lot of artists.  This could be a visual mess, but it's used well, to set apart the extended flashbacks and some of the meanwhile scenes.  The flashbacks are set during Marc's mercenary years before he sank low enough to join Bushman, and this takes the opportunity to bring in (or strengthen the bonefides of) a character from the D+ series as part of Marc's past.  In the present day, Moon Knight ends up in a Game of Death sort of deal at the base of the guy who's been behind some of his recent troubles (including the death of "Sigmund," who gets a last hurrah in the flashback) while apparently adding 8-Ball to Moon Knight's supporting cast.  Sure, why not.  One might expect this oversized edition to actually wrap up the big plotline, but MacKay uses it instead to end the beginning...I guess he's confident that now he has room to develop the story and doesn't need to end things neatly once a year.  And if the book wasn't big enough already, they also reprint a Hulk Magazine story, "A Long Way To Dawn" (which has some aspect issues because Hulk Magazine was oversized and not 7x10 in proportion), featuring some early Sienkiewicz work on Moon Knight.  Recommended.  $9.99 

Superman Lost #4-5 (of 10): DC - Again, no recommendation given my role in helping with the science stuff for this series, but I will note that this does not give me access to all the spoilers...I was rather caught by surprise by the plot twist in #5 (especially since it happens a few panels after a bit I did help with!).  $4.99 each.

Black Adam #11 (of 12): DC - On the one hand, things wrap up in a way that other writers don't really need to have read this series in order to write Standard Black Adam, which feels a bit more blatantly "illusion of change" than usual for Big Two comics.  On the other, Priest leaves a bunch of interesting toys to play with if any other writers want to use them (or if Priest gets another gig on the character).  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

Saturday Morning Adventures Dungeons and Dragons #4: IDW - Wow, this just sort of collapsed in the final act.  Maybe it's consistent with the cartoon, but having the big bad be THE big bad of the setting and then just kinda shoving him in a hole before resetting the status quo as of the first issue?  Yeah, that was a waste of sixteen bucks.  Don't bother getting the trade.  $3.99

Gargoyles #6: Dynamite - Demona is Back...and basically all she does is scry on the other plotlines as a framing device and a way to pad out the page count.   Yeah, there's a little bit of her plans and reminding readers of how messed up she was by the end of the cartoon series, but it's still mostly gang war comics and Lexington leadership angst.  Very mildly recommended.  $3.99
Gargoyles Dark Ages #1 (of 6, I think): Dynamite - Set in 971 AD, or 20 years before the opening scenes of the cartoon, with a young not-named-yet Goliath stuck watching from the sidelines while the clan elders make the bargain that got them eventually doomed in 991 AD.  It's okay, but the namelessness thing is going to get irritating pretty quickly.  There's a text backup, but the choice of font and colors makes it almost unreadable so I didn't bother.  Mildly recommended.  $4.99
Draculina Blood Simple #4 (of 6): Vodyanoi (one of Draculina's more demonic-looking siblings) finally merges into the main storyline, while Vampi and bitchy Draculina end up stuck in between time and in various memory scapes and kid Draculina has a chat with Vodyanoi.  And Lilith continues to be Lilith, while the "yeah, Lilith did cheat on Belial" true father of Draculina is revealed.  Maybe.  Reality is a touch out of joint and memories can't be trusted, etc.  Recommended.  $3.99
Gladstone's Revenge: Maneki Neko Books - And one more Kickstarter for the road.  A sort of Chekov's Gun throughout the Gladstone's School books has been the fate of Gladstone himself, who got turned into a living statue by Ironsides, who took over running the school.  This is set "some time ago," so the cliffhanger of the graphic novels remains unresolved, and the tone is a bit more on the "villainy is goofy fun" side than in most Gladstone books, but it does resolve that dangling matter of Gladstone himself.  Mildly recommended.  No price listed.

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 not had a good week car-trouble-wise, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.
"Don't tell me YOU know how to pilot a helicopter, 8-Ball."  "Are you kidding?  I'm a JET-PROPULSION ENGINEER.  I DESIGNED and built a HOVERCRAFT in the shape of a BALL RACK, for God's sake.  FLEW IT AROUND, even." - Moon Knight and 8-Ball, Moon Knight #25


Dave's Capsules for July 2023 Dave's Capsules for July 2023 Reviewed by Dvandom on Saturday, July 29, 2023 Rating: 5
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