Dave's Capsules for March 2024

Items of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): Magilumiere Magical Girls Inc. vol 1, Wayne Family Adventures vol 3

In this installment: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur S2, Adventure Finders Book 3 Chapter 16 (complete), Go Go Loser Ranger vol 9, Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear vol 8, Reborn as a Vending Machine I Wander the Dungeon vol 2, Spy x Family vol 11, Magilumiere Magical Girls Inc. vol 1, The Great Cleric vol 8, Ant Story, Wayne Family Adventures vol 3, Nothing Special volume one: Through the Elder Woods, The Best of Amoeba Adventures, Vengeance of the Moon Knight #2, Gargoyles Dark Ages #6 (of 6), Vampirella #666, Mech Cadets #6 (of 6).

That's a lot of 6's in the floppies section....

"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 Season 2
: Disney+/Marvel - On the one hand, the Big Changes implied in the season opener were largely dealt with in the second episode, the effects did echo through the season as Luna worked on really learning the lessons she'd picked up there.  There's also some fairly tight continuity despite a largely episodic format...basically, going JUST by plot the first two eps have to come first and the last two have to come last, but the middle is closer to episodic, except for all the character arc elements...which really need to be watched in something close to order.  And often things that seem like one-off gags turn out to be vital to later plots.  This season continues to mix entirely new characters with updates of characters both obscure and not (e.g. one episode has an entirely new version of Blue Streak on the super obscure side, while another creates an MCU-flavored version of Molecule Man).  While the season dips into some tired cliches here and there (unfortunately, also including the season ending cliffhanger), it generally manages to keep things fresh.  Also, there's a yard sale out there that SOMEONE needs to be monitoring.  Recommended.

For those without D+ or who just don't trust streaming services to not yank content, The Marvels came out on disc this month.  Also, I will wait until I've seen the whole season before reviewing X-Men '97, but this one is actually coming out in a non-binge format, so I should be able to avoid the "Looming Mountain" effect that's given me trouble lately on streaming stuff.

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 full: Patreon.com - When things look their worst, Clari runs into some familiar faces who may be familiars and starts getting a leg up, but that just lets her and the main cast survive long enough for things to get REALLY dire (lots of heroic sacrifice happens, mostly spear carriers but not all).  The seeds of hope are sown in the source of the new dangers, though, even if it's not obvious.  And then obligatory media reference to close out the issue.  :)  Recommended.  $2/month or up on Patreon.


Trade paperbacks, collections, graphic novels, pocket manga, whatever. If it's bigger than a "floppy" it goes here.
Go Go Loser Ranger vol 9: Kodansha - It might be easier at this point to figure out who ISN'T trying to betray the Ranger force from within, eh?  And in case the internal issues weren't enough, a brand new threat seemingly unrelated to the old boss monsters has started to show up, but nothing so minor as a new external threat will stop the internecine struggles.  Fighter D's internal struggles are also ramping up, as the purity of his mission is starting to look muddier every day, and the circle of people who knows his secret grows uncomfortably larger.  This does feel like a bit of a retrenchment volume, with Negi Haruba perhaps realizing that the book is going to outlive the original plans...or perhaps just deciding that the story needs more twists.  Recommended.  Rated Teen 13+ for adventure violence.  $10.99/$14.99Cn

The almost-bear and the almost-bare.

Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear vol 8
: Seven Seas Entertainment - Yuna continues to move heaven and earth (the latter quite literally) in her quest for better dining options in the fantasy world she's been dumped into.  Sure, she has almost godlike power (which finally hits some limits this volume), but the real challenges are things she can't just brute force through.  She needs to create infrastructure, build alliances, restore commerce and create successful businesses if she's going to have a chance of returning to her desired life of lazing around eating good food.  Of course, her greatest weakness continues to be her discomfort with praise and being the center of attention.  Really good character piece, fun humor that subverts cliches (or replaces them with other cliches).  Recommended.  Rated Teen 13+ for some fantasy violence and a little racy humor.  $12.99/$16.99Cn

Reborn as a Vending Machine I Wander The Dungeon vol 2: Yen Press - Three main stories in this volume.  First is dealing with the frog fiend cliffhanger, then some rebuilding and various emotional arc stuff (which deals with whether Boxxo has a libido or not, part of the Older Teen rating), and then the longest chunk of the book dealing with the first successful kidnapping of Boxxo.  The general raunch level goes up a bit this volume, including some "artful steam over bits" bathhouse scenes, but the main "can it even be romance?" arc is more sweet than sexy.  Recommended.  Rated Older Teen for fantasy violence some racy bits and near-nudity.  $13.00/$17.00Cn.

Spy x Family vol 11: Viz Media/Shonen Jump - Two short "missions" (Loid has some trouble at work, another Yuri Briar jealousy dinner), but the volume is dominated by an Anya-and-the-kids story which does draw some from the previous stories of the volume.  It's definitely the kids' spotlight, and while they mostly run through their established personality beats, now it's under serious stress, which helps show which things were facades, which are true, and which are total commitment to the facade.  Recommended.  $11.99/$15.99Cn/#8.99UK

Magilumiere Magical Girls Inc. vol 1: Viz Signature - In a world similar to ours, a natural mystic lifeform known as Kaii occasionally infest inhabited locations, and dealing with them is the responsibility of techno-magical exterminators collectively called Magical Girls.  Property owners are responsible for checking for Kaii infestations, and over 500 Magical Girl companies of various sizes exist to handle the problem.  And...that's about all we get this volume.  Aside from a few narrative captions that I just summarized, there's almost none of the "as everyone knows, Bob" expository dialogue that might explain things like why only women wield technomagic despite men clearly being able to create magical devices.  Your basic "Dear readers, please just roll with the premise, okay?" situation.  And it works pretty well.  The main protagonist is a fresh college graduate on a run of failed job interviews.  She's really good at prep, but bad at the actual interview...gives spectrum vibes, to be frank.  But it does mean she does sometimes need things explained, and has a tendency to infodump, which allows some natural exposition even if it disallows the "everyone knows" stuff.  Her "super power" is that she actually reads and remembers the documentation, in stark contrast to her senior Magical Girl who's more of a "seat of the pants" intuitive learner.  The whole thing is an office comedy with magical girl elements and just a hint of a deeper plot, Pretty Cure Office Space if you will.  That makes the protagonist Cure RTFM and her senior partner Cure FAFO.  Very promising start, and while "trust us, it'll make sense later" writing often writes checks it can't cash, I have a good feeling about this one.  Strongly recommended.  Rated Teen, presumably for the somewhat nasty-looking Kaii.  $14.99/$19.99Cn/#10.99UK

Great Cleric vol 8: Kodansha - Luciel has dreams and flashbacks about his original life, and while I doubt this means we're going to get an answer to why he was killed by a sniper, it does serve to both remind him of some of the life lessons he'd been slacking on, and make it clear to the reader that he was really only ever a subordinate...he may have gotten promoted to positions of greater responsibility, being he never actually RAN anything.  And that's what he has to do now.  He has a squad under his command, and now he needs to learn how healer clinics actually work if he wants to further his goal of reforming the church.  So, yeah, much like Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, we have an overpowered protagonist whose main challenges are logistical and organizational.  There's also a few long term seeds planted, although at least one feels like he should have done something about it right away.  Recommended.  Rated Older Teen 16+ (monsters, sexual innuendo).  $12.99/$17.99Cn

Hopefully there ISN'T a Clan 
Apis cameo in this....

Ant Story
: Harper Alley - This is basically a spiritual successor to Jay Hosler's Clan Apis/Way of the Hive, but now looking at ants rather than bees.  Rubi, the lone talking ant in her colony, whiles away her days pretending to converse with the other ants, until she finally meets one who can talk back!  SOOO many pent up stories and explanations, and now Rubi has someone to tell them to!  So, right off, the tone is different than Way of the Hive...where Nyuki's entire hive was slightly anthropomorphic (the "chatty animal" level), Rubi's is Just Regular Ants.  Other than Rubi's new friend Miranda, none of the other living things in this story have human-level intelligence, which means a rather different kind of story this time around.  It does end up a bit more didactic, since there aren't as many personalities to drive side stories.  It's solid storytelling and educational, but not as funny (IMO) as Way of the Hive.  Recommended.  $15.99/$19.99Cn

Wayne Family Adventures vol 3: Webtoon/DC - The first half of Season 2.  A lot of the stories involve getting out of comfort zones, from obvious things like Huntress and Nightwing trading weapons on a dare, to Oracle setting herself up to be kidnapped, or Damian trying to look good for school picture day.  Yeah, there can be some tonal whiplash from light family comedy stories to Deep Examination Of Trauma stories (and what is more Bat-Family than Deep Trauma?), but they make it work.  Strongly recommended.  $14.99/$19.99Cn

Nothing Special volume one: Through the Elder Woods: Webtoon/Ten Speed Press - Okay, another Webtoon hardcopy, this one I backed via Kickstarter, then forgot I'd done so and bought a copy the week before I got my KS copy (in my defense, there had been no updates from the KS in three months, they usually do a "starting to ship the stuff" update a few weeks in advance...not to mention, KS books usually come out before regular copies hit the shelves, ah well).  This webcomic has been on hiatus since mid-2023, due to a combination of getting it ready for hardcopy release and creator Katie Cook's health issues.  One thing I was concerned about is that the webcomic makes aggressive use of the Infinite Canvas format Webtoon encourages, with art outside the panels that can run down the length of a strip (it gets really aggressive later on).  However, it looks like Cook extracted the panels from the original art, rearranged them to fit pages, and then drew all new framing stuff...which explains why it took so much of her time.  (The good news is that Webtoon is showing significant support for this book, which means that there WILL be a finish to volume three!)  In addition to all the new framing stuff, there's a section of design work and early ideas in the back (plus an expanded version of that, which is a KS exclusive extra book I don't have yet because getting the main book done was prioritized).  Now, if you're not familiar with this webcomic (and you should be), Callie is a rebellious teenager who splits her time between the mundane world and a magical village, but she's not allowed outside the boundaries of the village by her protective father.  Her long-time friend Declan always seemed to be part of the mundane world, but when he turned 17 his magical heritage kicked in and he started being able to see spirits...which is a thing Callie's always been able to do, it's a normal thing for supernatural folks (she's half-daemon half...revealed in this volume, but passes as human).  The Inciting Event for the main plot of this volume is that Callie's father has gone missing, and she and Declan need to go after him.  Along the way, they meet the third wheel of their group, Lasser the demon (not daemon), who thinks Cassie's his ticket to jumping to the head of the inheritance queue in his very competitive family.  He's basically the mid-volume antagonist, but in proper quest narrative style ends up becoming a rival and then ally (he's only ever a ROMANTIC rival in his own mind, though).  This is Callie's arc, though, and her rite of passage is pretty severe (technically this is a several-years-old plot point, but I'd rather not spoiler it here).  Volume 2 is going to be all about Declan and his extended family (most of which he didn't know about at all until volume 2), and then we finally get the full Lasser's Family treatment in the almost-finished third arc.  So...Nothing Special is about how people who grow up thinking they're unexceptional find out that they're actually quite special, and that their families are so full of drama and magic and danger that it's amazing they made it out of toddler age.  There's a few rough bits in this volume, as Cook was still finding her flow, and the climax depends strongly on a gimmick, but there's better to come.  Recommended.  Paperback $22.99/$30.99, Hardcover $29.99/$39.99Cn

I guessed wrong on Pro's color
when I made an Amoeba/Akiko
crossover shirt, oops.

The Best of Amoeba Adventures
: Protoplasm Press - Okay, in the 90s I got into minicomics, thanks to a local comic shop (Laughing Ogre, they're still around) that had a shelf full of them, plus regular attendance for a few years at Mid-Ohio Con.  These were basically the webcomics of their day, in terms of low barrier to entry.  Amoeba Adventures was mostly done in the "make on a photocopier, staple in the middle, and fold over" style rather than the quarter-page size seen in Feazell's Cynicalman comics.  Some of those minicomics went on to become regular (if short-lived) comics like Copybook Tales, others were reborn in other formats (Amy Unbounded was the launchpad for the Serafina/Tess novels), but when Amoeba Adventures ended in 1998 I figured I'd seen the last of it.  Max Ink, who'd done the art for the final arc or two, moved on to other projects, and Nik Dirga wasn't local to Columbus so I didn't really have any connection to him.  Not that I'd have expected the comic to restart decades later!  Max wasn't involved, so my first alert was when Tony Isabella posted about the newly published collection last month.  Turns out Dirga had restarted things during COVID lockdown, and had started putting the archive together (at https://nikdirga.com/protoplasm-press/ ) as well as putting together this Best Of volume.  It skips around a bit, and Nik's view of "best" is rather idiosyncratic.  I already owned most of the material covered in this, just a few pages here and there excerpted from specials and jambooks that I don't own.  But it also has annotations that explain the background of things, and includes in full a faux history of the title going back to the Golden Age, written by...Troy Hickman.  It doesn't include the Spif one-shot Hickman scripted, though.  And yes, THAT Troy Hickman.  Anyway, as a self-published labor of love, the art starts out pretty horrible and occasionally gets decent.  The story starts out as a goofy gag superhero comic with occasional unsubtle social commentary, but eventually (via retcons that work pretty well) turns into a serious character piece that has the characters (mostly) outgrow superheroics without repudiating the idea itself.  Just...time for something else, at least for a while.  Now, I haven't read the newer issues yet (I'll probably cover them in the Digital Content section next month), but it looks like "a while" passed and at least some of the gang are back at it.  Anyway, it starts VERY rough, but you can see some pretty rapid evolution if you stick with it.  Plus, it's not often a minicomic series gets a nice collected edition...the "collections" I have were mostly just bundles of minicomics in a bag with a single sheet of paper with the arc title wrapped around it.  Recommended for a rather niche audience.  No price on the book itself, I got the paperback version on Amazon for $19.99.

Expected next month: Mark Crilley's The Mighty Onion, Dinosaur Sanctuary vol 4, The Collected Thorn (Bone), Robotics;Notes (which I do own already, but it's the entire series and there's no real way I'm getting it all read before the end of the month), and the first volume of another "Logistics Isekai" with a title way too long to type out here.  Happy Kanako's Killer Life vol 7 will land on the last day of the month, and get reviewed in May.  I've decided to drop Illustrated Guide to Monster Girls.  And, of course, there's always the chance something will catch my eye during the month.


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.)

Once again, Vampirella/Dracula: Rage is delayed for me, this time because the shipment arrived damaged (last one was because of shorting).

Vengeance of the Moon Knight #2: Marvel - The fight between the new Moon Knight and the existing supporting cast is interspersed with (and narrated as) Tigra having a session with Dr. Sterman, who was Marc's court-appointed therapist (well, Avengers-appointed or something).  Effective framing device, not just because it allows the fight to be short and savage without padding, but also because it sets up Tigra as the central protagonist...if only for now.  And she may not be a mutant, but boy howdy does she have enough angst to be one.  Does this issue definitively answer who the new Moon Knight is (or more importantly, is not)?  I'd call it "mostly".  Enough wiggle room for misdirection, but the cast of the book is fairly convinced.  Recommended.  $4.99

Gargoyles Dark Ages #6 (of 6): Dynamite - Mostly a big fight of Gargoyles versus the dragon (who has arms, so is not technically a Wyvern, despite claiming to be the namesake of Clan Wyvern), which ends inconclusively and mostly seems to set up the source of a few magical plot devices seen later in the cartoon.  The entire "crew of suspicious actors" subplot is sort of resolved, but I had to go back and check previous issues to be sure, since this issue sure wasn't a standalone read.  VERY bad case of "writing for the trade" here...characters who get a couple of panels every issue kinda need more introduction when they finally switch from "they might be important" to "they are actually important."  All in all, this was a story that did not serialize very well, and I don't think Weisman ever really got the hang of writing for monthly comics.  I've given the new Gargoyles comics 19 issues and two series at this point, I'm done.  It's clear that whatever magic Weisman brought to the cartoon does not translate to comics.  Mildly recommended.  $4.99

Vampirella #666: Dynamite - Well, will they finally commit to an ongoing, or will this end at #671?  The idea here is that if you count up all the various Vampirella books published over the decades, there's been 665 before this.  That might count V/D:Rage #6, which has had delays on top of Diamond just not shipping it properly.  Anyway, this reaches back to right before Priest's run started, with Vampi reliving variants of the same day shortly before the plane crash, only to have it end in death and/or horror before restarting.  By the end of the issue, the reader knows more or less who's behind this and some of their motives, but the rest remains hazy.  There's also a wordless backup story reprinted from 1991, written by Priest and drawn by Alan Davis.  A bit confusing, but interesting, and worth a second read once the premise is established.  Recommended.  $4.99

Mech Cadets #6 (of 6): Boom! Studios - Personally, I think it happened an arc too late, but they finally reached the point of "Shady general who clearly does not have the protagonists' best interests at heart and keeps turning out to be wrong on tactical and strategic points is no longer given another chance."  People who are too eager to make Hard Choices for the Greater Good tend to make bad choices, and if this arc hadn't ended with either the general changing her ways or being ditched by the Mechs and their crews, I'd probably have dropped the book (well, declined to get the next miniseries, which amounts to the same thing).  Not saying which happened, but I'll be sticking around for another arc.  Mildly recommended.  $4.99

Expected next month: Vengeance of the Moon Knight #3-4, Fantastic Four #18, Vampirella/Dracula Rage #4 and maybe #5, Vampirella #667, Gargoyles #12, maybe FF19 and Vampi668 depending on when in the month my store packs up the mail order stacks.

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), got to go to the hospital again this month but it seems to be treatable with a cheap prescription, is an occasional science advisor in fiction, and part of the development team for the upcoming City of Titans MMO.
"I'm a cartoon ant who was born into a colony of real leafcutter ants.  THAT'S AMAZING!" - Rubi, Ant Story


Dave's Capsules for March 2024 Dave's Capsules for March 2024 Reviewed by Dvandom on Saturday, March 30, 2024 Rating: 5
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