Dave's Capsules for February 2024

Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Justice League Crisis on Infinite Earths Part One, The Way of the Househusband vol 11, Hilo vol 10: Rise of the Cat

In this installment: The Marvels, Justice League X RWBY Superheroes & Huntsmen Part Two, Justice League Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 1, Adventure Finders Book 3 Chapter 16 Part 1, Chainsaw Man vol 14, Mr. Villain's Day Off vol 1-3, The Way of the Househusband vol 11, The Way of the Househusband: The Gangster's Guide to Housekeeping, Dreadstar vs. the Inevitable, Hilo vol 10: Rise of the Cat, Fantastic Four #16-17, Superman Lost #10 (of 10), Gargoyles Dark Ages #5 (of 6?), Vampirella/Dracula Rage #4 (of 6), Mech Cadets #5, My Little Pony Classics Reimagined Valentine's Day Special: Romeo & Juliet.

"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.

$206 Million, not too bad.

The Marvels
: Disney/Marvel - Yes, trying to give meaningful arcs to three main characters (two of which had their own starring roles previously) is a bit tricky, and sometimes it feels more like Captain Marvel 2 with some sidekicks.  Monica's and Kamala's stories are heavily about how the two of them interact with Carol (lingering bitterness and feelings of abandonment in the first case, squeeing fangirling in the second) while Carol is just really uncomfortable with all the mistakes she's made coming back to haunt her.  Still, they are all thematically tied together pretty well, and if the plot device of Hala's condition is a bit Silver Agey in the bad way, it does provide a solid reason for the teamup beyond "they were all Marvel ladies in the comics."  In terms of execution, I concur with the voices saying that the planet where everyone sings was rather underused, but otherwise I enjoyed the movie even if I could see the structural underpinnings visible behind the curtain on occasion.  Recommended.  Price varies by format and store, also available on Disney+.

Justice League X RWBY Superheroes & Huntsmen Part Two: DC/WB - The places I shop for media did not put this out on the front spots when it came out, so this might've come out a few months ago, oops.  Anyway, the crossover wraps up with scenes mostly in the JL's world (which has definite similarity to the Tomorrowverse but is not quite the same).  Some of the plot devices are a touch contrived, and it has that "kinda empty world" feeling generally found in lower budget CG animation, but the writing does a decent job of giving most of the characters some time to shine.  Oh, and while part 1 was deliberately vague about placement in RWBY continuity (because it was a plot point that they weren't sure), this one places it solidly in the "after I stopped following RWBY" part of the timeline.  Recommended for dumb action fun.  Price varies by store and format.

Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths Part One: DC/WB - Okay, when I got to the end of War World and saw that the next installment in the "Tomorrowverse" would be Crisis, I was...skeptical.  It felt like DC was doing it again, trying to get the Big Event without laying enough groundwork.  But I'm happy to say I was wrong this time.  As revealed in the bonus features, the Tomorrowverse was designed from the beginning to justify CoIE and they made sure to include enough to make it work.  Plus, the first half or so of this movie is focused on Flash, who has become a little Unstuck In Time and is reliving important points in his career, mostly around the founding of the Justice League, his first (and last) trip to Earth-3, and his relationship with Iris West.  (There is a short bit where we see why the Tomorrowverse Batman has no Robin.)  Thus, when the Antimatter Wave is revealed, we get to see how Barry was in the right places and times to put together the important bits and play a starring role in saving the world, if only temporarily (since this is, you know, Part One).  His heroic sacrifice is much more organic and affecting than "gotta catch the tachyon" from the comics, and he gets rewarded for his heroism along the way instead of just being killed off shortly after his own book got cancelled.  Also, the "not revealed but you can't miss it" identity of the new Pariah is perfect.  Strongly Recommended.  Price varies by store and format.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur season 2 dropped this month.  The entire season.  And I'm getting really tired of season drops, it makes it hard for me to motivate to watch at all...give me weekly episodes again, please.  Anyway, I've only watched the first ep of the season so far, but it's a promising start.

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 16 Part 1: Patreon.com - Another double-sized issue being released in halves so that Patreon subscribers get something this month.  :)  This is basically the Big Boss Fight, where the only sane response is to run away so of course Clari and most of her friends fight.  (A few do run, though, although at least one has Very Good Reason to want to stay away from the Boss beyond the obvious desire to not die.)  It's the standard "throw everything at the monster and it's not enough" start to the fight, complete with a few of the characters leveling up for the occasion and it's still not enough.  The tone of the series is such that a TPK wipe is not in the offing, but at the same time a retreat in defeat at the end of part 2 is still plausible.  Recommended.  $2/month and up from Rod Espinosa's main Patreon.


Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here.
Chainsaw Man vol 14: Viz - I almost didn't pick this one up.  The shift in focus away from the title character to someone else hadn't really been grabbing me...sure, it's the same world, and Denji does show up a little, but the "Denji as reluctant big brother to the new Control Devil" thing indicated at the end of vol 11 was just not materializing.  However, the back cover copy of this volume got me to give it one more try, and I was rewarded by seeing that big brother thing finally coming into the book.  Plus some really awkward dates between two people inhabited by Devils but probably less knowledgeable about how dating works than the devils are.  And one of the devils is a chainsaw dog, so.  In this volume the next meta-arc plot gets set up, raising the stakes way above the "War Devil has a personal beef with Chainsaw Devil" arc of the last two volumes.  Recommended.  $11.99/$15.99Cn/#8.99UK.  Rated Older Teen, mostly for horror elements but also some low-detail breasts.

Coworkers, amirite?
Mr. Villain's Day Off vol 1-3
: Square Enix Manga - These are collections of short features from a website called Pixiv, which I gather from the Wikipedia page is kind of a Japanese version of deviantArt but with an increasing corporate presence.  Most installments are 4-6 pages depending on whether they include a version of the premise page, and except for the last story in vol 3, the longest stories run to 3 installments.  The premise is that there's a Power Rangers universe, but just as the Rangers have civilian IDs, so to do the boss monsters.  The protagonist, known as The General, spends his days off in a fairly human-passing form indulging in various local culture, cuisine, and touristy attractions.  So, like Go Go Loser Ranger, this is an inverted Super Sentai story where the protagonist is one of the baddies.  But this is more of an office comedy mixed with a fish out of water comedy of manners and errors.  The General is a salaryman supervillain, trying to avoid coworkers when not at work, and having to deal with red tape and weird underlings in the rare strips where's on the job.  The closest we get to an overall plan is when the General occasionally vows that some aspect of Earth culture or environment will be preserved once his people conquer the world and flee their own dying one for Earth (he is particularly fond of pandas).  He frequently encounters the Red Dawn Ranger on his days off, and the two establish a detente...made possible in part because Red is a bit of a himbo.  A few other members of the Rangers are introduced along the way, if slowly...the Pink Daybreak Ranger is kinda the flip side of the protagonist in Magical Girl Incident, she wanted to be a magical girl and ended up a ranger.  By the end of volume 3, we know all of the Rangers and their origins/cosmology, and it's rather bittersweet.  Recommended.  $14.99/$19.99Cn per volume, rated Teen, but I'm not sure why...maybe the occasional scary monster "on the clock" look.

The Way of the Househusband vol 11: Viz - Definitely firing on all cylinders this time around.  One definitely gets the feeling that Katsu's bloody swath through the underworld left a LOT of Yakuza out of work, because it seems like ex-Yakuza form a major part of the local economy...and people are generally fairly unbothered by this.  In fact, the rare story in which someone IS freaked out (such as the salaryman going to the after-hours bar run as a hobby by several of the series regulars) stands out.  The volume starts strong with a visit to an amusement park providing some extra depth to the often one-note ex-Yakuza characters, and it rarely falters.  Strongly recommended.  $14.99/$19.99Cn/#10.99UK.  Rated Older Teen for lots of implied violence and gangland culture.

The Way of the Househusband: The Gangster's Guide to Housekeeping: Viz - When I went to get volume 11, the store hadn't put it out on the shelf yet, but next to where it would have been I spotted this book, so on impulse I decided to get it.  It distills all the various househusbandry tips from the first ten volumes into a guidebook, written mainly in Tatsu's voice and interspersed with both panels from the manga and new (to me, anyway) chibi spot illustrations.  It also has a cookbook section, for those wishing to try making some of the recipes seen on the page.  (It doesn't include the useful tip from volume 11, to put a little baking soda on ramen to render the noodles more firm and chewy.)  I'm fairly set in my housekeeping ways, but I can see this being a very useful resource for people newly living on their own and wanting an "adulting" guide that's more geared towards the manga fan.  Recommended.  $24.99/$33.99Cn/#19.99UK/$36.99Aus (191 pages, hardcover)

Dreadstar vs. the Inevitable: Monkey Wrench Press - The second crowdfunded Dreadstar book from Jim Starlin, this features Dreadstar and company trying to defeat or deter the world-killing threat that they were warned about in the previous volume.  This is basically a Galactus story, but with the resources available to Vanth et al.  And there's also real world politics in here, more integrated than the incident last time, and the whole thing ends up turning into a COVID lockdown metaphor.  Along the way, we finally get to see that at least some of Peter David's stories are part of the vague timeline, and the next volume promises to clarify it further, if not to the benefit of the newer characters.  (There have been statements that there's rights issues around reprinting the PAD stuff due to how the property was handed off legally, which would explain dancing around everything that happened after #40 of the original series.  But going into Kalla's story suggests that at least the content of the Malibu stuff is easier to include, even if actual reprints are still up in the air.)  Now, if you're a fan of the old Dreadstar, you probably already backed this, and it's a bit more expensive post-crowdfunding, but if you're in that tiny slice who are interested but didn't know about the crowdfunding campaign, it's a decent followup (even if the political inserts are on the blunt instrument side).  $39.95 ($30 plus shipping as a backer on Kickstarter, there will probably be copies available as add-ons for the volume 3 campaign).

Hilo vol 10: Rise of the Cat: Random House Kids - Meanwhile, during (and at least partially following) the events of the epilogue to the previous volume, Polly the magical cat and her brother Pip are back home and it's time to pay the piper for all of the stuff they've been doing lately.  Like, oh, relocating all of the sapient robots Razorwark created to their homeworld.  Or teaching Gina magic, which resulted in the previous arc's shenanigans.  And, well, shenanigans in general.  And in specific. So it's off to magical reform school for them, where they get to deal with a mystery as well as dealing with a new friend and the prejudice she faces from other students.  (On the one hand, this IS a school for troublesome sorts, which means the bullies are more incorrigible.  On the other, we saw enough before going to the reform school to know that almost everyone on the planet shares this prejudice, they're just more refined about their snubbing and insulting.)  There is almost no actual Hilo in this volume, but his influence is indirectly felt quite a bit.  But given that the vaguely Scottish sorcerous cats tend to steal every scene they're in anyway, it's only moot to give them an entire book. They may not be commoners, technically, but they are quite unsettling nonetheless.  Hazzah!  Strongly recommended.  $14.99/$19.99Cn


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.)

The local shop I briefly shopped at has separated its online and brick and mortar businesses, and the new storefront is open now, but they still have a "no opening up the books because we need to preserve mintness" policy, and I am not gonna judge books by their covers.  So I will continue not picking up any comics titles on impulse (although I do still pick up manga on impulse because Barnes & Noble is cool with browsing).

Fantastic Four #16-17: Marvel - Now that the big arc is resolved, it's time for some done in ones again, and the first is getting the newly returned kids into school in Arizona...because New York City isn't sure they want any of the extended Richards/Grimm families back any time soon, best to not poke the municipal bear.  So, we get an object lesson in why being overqualified is a valid reason to not hire someone...they get bored and make their own challenges.   Oops.  #17 is technically a retcon, but in such a way that it spackles over itself.  An interesting bit of "Bill & Ted time travel" but taken slightly more seriously.  Both issues recommended.  $3.99

Hope floats.  Or hovers.
Superman Lost #10 (of 10)
: DC - Priest is a firm believer in putting the toys back on the shelf when he's done with them, so it shouldn't be too surprising that (even if DC believed in continuity anymore) other writers won't need to deal with any changes to Superman.  On the other hand, he's also a firm believer in putting characters on the bus rather than killing them, so a lot of stuff is still available if anyone DOES want to pick up on any of the themes.  So, much like FF #17 it kinda spackles over itself, but leaves just enough danglers and a hook to be picked up if anyone at DC decides to do so.  On the one hand, some parts of this might be more satisfying if they made it explicitly an Elseworlds, but on the other hand finding a way to fix things is a core part of Superman's identity and the promise he made at the start.  While it may ultimately feel a bit narratively unsatisfying, Superman is Superman not just because of his power, not just because of his hope, but because when presented with an impossible choice he can find that secret third thing and make it work.  (Disclaimer: my advisory role ran out about halfway through the series, I didn't know where this was going either.)  Recommended.  $4.99

Gargoyles Dark Ages #5 (of 6): Dynamite - Well, I suppose "why are they the Wyvern Clan?" was a question that could be answered, and it's answered here.  The text piece backup continues, and I continue to not read it because I find the prose style kinda bleh.  The main story ends one page after the staple, because Dynamite comics are about one third house ads and variant cover galleries by volume...I think if they did the retro thing and put the ads between story pages it might feel more satisfying, instead of hitting the halfway point and then the story's done for the issue.  And yes, I'm complaining a lot more about structural things than engaging with the story, because I didn't really engage much with the story in the first place.  This series did start off stronger than the main book, but it's losing me too.  I'm certainly not getting the collection of the previous comics...for such a great cartoon, Gargoyles doesn't seem to have much luck with generating good comics.  Neutral.  $4.99

Vampirella/Dracula Rage #4 (of 6): Dynamite - See, this one DOES intersperse the ads among the pages, which can be a little confusing since several of the ads are for other Vampirella books, but despite the story page count being the same as Gargoyles, it felt more like a full issue, physically.  Of course, it also helps that Priest is being very twisty with interweaving multiple timeframe plot threads in this series, making for rather "chewy" individual issues...if sometimes a bit gristly (and grisly, but this is technically a horror comic).  Vampi is dancing up to the line of abomination in her quest for vengeance and thinks she's not crossing it, but this time she's forced to pause and at least recognize that she can't just get her vengeance against the deserving, not without collateral damage.  Recommended.  $3.99 

Mech Cadets #5 (of 6): Boom! Studios - The team is still split and mostly not all that combat-capable in the half that's at the sharp end, so this is a very talky issue.  Some of the talk is good, some of it feels like marking time because the story is being wedged into the 6-issue format.  Unfortunately, one thing that continues in this arc from previous ones is the theme that whoever's technically in charge of the Mech program is always wrong-headed and their plans will get people needlessly killed.  It's getting kinda old that the command structure feels like the main antagonist.  Mildly recommended.  $3.99

My Little Pony Classics Reimagined Valentine's Day Special, Romeo & Juliet
: IDW - The last for now of the Classics Reimagined (nothing currently solicited except a Unicorn of Odd collection), this one admits in-story that it's gonna need a LOT of modification to be pony-safe.  It's also rather more compressed than the previous adaptations, doing it in a single issue rather than taking four issues (about triple the pagecount, I think this is slightly oversized) to do it, so it's a lot more surface of a treatment.  Still fun, but not on the level of Little Fillies or Unicorn of Odd.  Recommended.  $4.99

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), saw Cursed Princess Club plugged on the Google Play Store of all places, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.
"Oh.  A giant eyeball tentacle monster."  "It's DISGUSTING."  "I love it."  "Me too." - Polly and Pip, Hilo vol 10

Dave's Capsules for February 2024 Dave's Capsules for February 2024 Reviewed by Dvandom on Thursday, February 29, 2024 Rating: 5
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