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review 2017-07-03 14:03
I continue to love this series for how dark it gets
Spider-Gwen (2015-) #21 - Jason Latour,Robbi Rodriguez

Spider-Gwen is never afraid of shying away from darkness, from the creepy versions of Matt Murdock, Wolverine, and Kitty Pryde, to how S.H.I.E.L.D is run, to the situations it puts Gwen in: she has to compromise herself for the safety of others often enough that I wonder how she keeps it together, sometimes.   She makes deals with Murdock, who is the de-facto Kingpin for now, to save her father.   She almost sells her soul again for Harry Osborne, but instead runs away with him, only to be cornered by Logan and Kitty once again.   (And I thought Murdock was the creepiest, but nope, these two have him beat.)


Maybe it's just fun because I know there are alternate versions of them running around, versions that I like, who would be appalled by this.   And while it's never fully divulged how these characters became this way - the focus is Gwen after all - it's easy to piece together some of it from the universe they live in.   Without Xavier, under the not-so-gentle hand of this S.H.I.E.L.D, yeah, Logan could become totally soulless.   Even just without Xavier, he could be trained to be the monster he's become here.   


Murdock could have been persuaded by Fisk that this was best for him without any other guidance.   Lack of support, lack of role models after his father's death, could have twisted him around, too.    And even in 616, it's made clear that he idolized his father, who used his fists to make a living as a boxer, and would resort to fighting at school when he'd hit his limit.   (His father told him not to, and Matt got punished for it, but had the tendency, possibly just through watching his father in the ring.)   If someone decided to tease that into a purely sadistic tendency...


Frank Castle is dark even with his family alive, and to be honest, he's the one who I'd most like to see again, just to see why he still turned out to be a psychopathic vigilante.   But he's not in this.   


Regardless, that's part of the charm for this series for me, and it's used to full advantage with Murdock, Wolvie, and Kitty, and even with Harry who's becoming The Lizard once again.   Perhaps Gwen's guidance - telling him he can't steal when his literal reptilian is only focused on survival.   It's wrong, and more than that, it could show their hand to those tracking them, she points out.   His answer?   More for me. 


Still, it would be fascinating if I was proven right: if Gwen can reform someone with such a guiding hand, it might mean that all the people who are broken and creepy and dark are so because they didn't have that in this universe.   (Or maybe they're just utter bastards here.  Who knows at this point?   Either way, it's fun speculating and I'm enjoying reading this series.)

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review 2017-06-18 22:35
I wish this had the charm of the original couple issues
Gwenpool, The Unbelievable (2016-) #17 - Christopher Hastings,Gurihiru

It felt new, exciting, and charmingly gleeful about skewering everything with the breaking of the fourth wall.   It poked fun at comics, and even comic book culture, and now... it feels  like it's getting a little more serious, and losing the charm it once had because of that. 


Still, this gets extra meta, turning Gwenpool's real life into a comic book, and I was thinking of dropping this title.  Not anymore.   I want to see where this is going, now.   Fun concepts, charmingly cute art, and I'm willing to give this storyline a try before I make a final decision on if I drop this title or not.

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review 2017-06-14 13:44
Transformers Animated Vol. 12 - Various,Various

I knew what I was getting into: I have physical books in this series before I got into digital comics, or knew they could be done properly online, and I loved this series when it was on.   This show said 'forget what you know about Transformers.   One Prime active at once?   We're going to have multiples, with more in training.   We'll have one Magnus at a time, instead.'   And it pretty much applied this to everything about the world.   


I knew I was getting into something AU, and I knew this comic is panels from the show.   The wording is straight from the show, with the exception of descriptions of actions.   But the dialogue is the same.  I also know that this tends to have horrid editing.   Words missing.   The is suddenly he.    And on and on.   I didn't give a fuck.   I love the episode about Blackaracnia being worshipped by the Dinobots.  With the sale, I got this for ninety-nine cents.   All I needed was that episode, but these have two.   I didn't pay much attention to the second issue, but I figured I'd enjoy reading this anyway.


And I did.  Scrapper and Mixmaster, two of the Constructicons, come back, and I have a thing for Devestator and the Constructicons and have since the revelation of what happened to them after Scrapper was killed in the Mike Costa run.   (I know that spoiler; it comes up a lot in the series RiD and was referenced repeatedly.  I need to buy and read that run, but I'm waiting to see how much I spend on physical comics this week and how much is coming in from work.)   I enjoy them less in this continuity, but I appreciate them for what they are, and what they're meant to be in this.   I can't help but wonder if the four other Constructicons would have eventually shown up in this show if it had continued on for more than three years, too.


I need to pick up my Allspark Almanac, the guide to this show again.  And rewatch it when I get home.  Man, I miss Animated.   Not my favorite of the continuities, but I definitely enjoyed it immensely. 

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review 2017-06-09 00:35
Flat characters and no logic
DC Super Hero Girls FCBD 2017 Special Edition (2017-) #1 - Shea Fontana,Monica Kubina,Yancey Labat

Why are Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy in a superhero school?  I don't know.   Some villains are still villains and some aren't.   Harley Quinn in particular seems an... odd choice.  Popular, yes, but it just seems odd to include her, especially since they defang her completely.   She's the class clown, smart, but doesn't seem to have a mean bone in her body.   Poison Ivy will do anything to protect her plants, but doesn't seem to hate humanity at all. 




And the characters all seem flat, and furthermore nothing like they really are.   This is a cute story and some of the things it teaches - like friendship and being honest is good - are told in a fun way.   I think it's a pretty good thing for younger kids, but it's just annoying that they betray the characterizations like this.   They might as well have used original characters at this point - although that wouldn't have the name recognition.   That gets more children reading this, which has good lessons for children, so it serves its purpose - and also seems like a grab for cash with all the dolls and stuff that really only teach kids about buying things.  


So, eh, conflicted, so two and a half stars. 

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review 2017-06-08 00:41
This just gets better and better
Transformers: Lost Light #6 - James Roberts,Jack Lawrence

I think most people who follow me know that I consider James Roberts to be not only my favorite Transformers author, but also a perfect author.  I'm not sure there's any other way to put it, although I went over a list of things in my head that he not only does well, but does consistently.   On top of that, he balances all these elements, and again, does so consistently. 


Pacing, characters, plot?   All perfect for me, every single time.   He's plotted out years in advance.   How do I know this?   Well, I don't, but it'd would be hard for you to convince me that he does, given how well even the smallest moment, that innocuous joke, a line thrown out, a silent panel, fits into plans that fall into place years later, real time.    On top of that, I'd be hard pressed to find a comic that crams more in here; I keep thinking about a review I read of 30 Rock, where they said the jokes come so hard and fast that if you leave the room for thirty seconds, you miss five jokes, and are lost on one subplot.   And while there are an amazing amount of one liners and humor in Roberts' books, there's more in there: serious ideas about government, towing the line, friendship, love, and what the world is and can be.   War, and the effects of war, are obviously a large part of this, and I say obviously because More Than Meets the Eye (MTMtE) is sort of about what you do after there's an uneasy peace after millions of years of war, with some bots who've been fighting since the beginning of the war. 


Lost Light (LL) is the sequel to More Than Meets the Eye, although I've seen them referred to as seasons and/or years, with LL being... third?   I honestly don't keep track of the comics that way; I honestly jumped in midway, and started collecting month by month, because I couldn't imagine waiting that long for the collections to come out.  I needed my fix, stat.  And while there are story arcs, and themes, I just take what I can get month by month, try to piece it together with what's come before, and try not to guess what's coming next, because I never, ever really guess what's really going on.   (By the way, Lost Light six wraps up the first, alternate universe story arc, it's brilliant, it's brutal, and it's hopeful.   It's a mix that I've become used to; Roberts mixes his tragedy and his optimism in an equal mix, and I've yet to find anything that hits home in quite this way.   It's what life is like, and he doesn't hold back the tragedies, the triumphs, or how they can overlap.)


I'm finding I don't really like reviews that synopsize, at least not when reviewing MTMtE or LL; I can find them everywhere, and it's more about how this comic makes me feel, as well as analysis of what's done correctly.   Going back to my first point, while I know that amongst the things that Roberts does perfectly is weave in different plots into one coherent story, this was a masterstroke in that department.   There was something about the cuts from one story to another, and how they weaved into the ending, that really made me take a literal second look.   After finishing, I went back to a couple pages, and saw how Roberts took me out of one scene and into another in a way that kept me on my toes: I wanted more information about every single storyline.   (Another thing he does consistently, and perfectly in my mind, is that when he juggles plots and subplots, he never has one that is less interesting to me: I want to know about them all.)


I keep thinking Roberts can't get more perfect, can he?   And then he shows me that, hey, look, he's been working on this thing, or maybe he's just been doing his thing, and look, it's even more perfect.   And somehow, in all this, he doesn't drop the ball on any other aspect. 


You know what?   The next time someone asks me for the great novel, I'm just going to tell them it's More Than Meets the Eye followed up by Lost Light.   Because I've been giving this a lot of thought.   Is there an actual perfect writer?   Who would I consider better than Roberts?   


Yes, yes there is.   James Roberts.   And no one.   


And sort of off topic, but just to let  you know, to make a truly reading perfect experience, have a copy of MTMtE, Lost Light, and/or Black Bolt, and have this view while you dig your feet into the sand: 


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