Here’s what’s of interest from Marvel for August 2013. Full solicitations are available here.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #26, $4
As I said for July, my reading of Marvel’s slacked off. I really wish they’d make like DC and offer their single-issue books digitally for Nook/Kindle/Google Play instead of just Comixology. Still, I’ll recommend the above books anyway…
This month apparently sees another huge crossover featuring Thanos. Also, the build-up for “Guardians of the Galaxy” continues…
This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Trixie Tang, a supporting character on Nickelodeon series “The Fairly OddParents.”
In the series, Trixie is Dimmsdale Elementary’s most popular and wealthiest girl. Most of the boys in the school have a crush on her and strive to attract her attention, usually without much success. Trixie spends much of her time hanging around two popular, wealthy kids named Chad and Tad who, like “Johnny Test”‘s Mr. Black and Mr. White, look like they could be twins if they weren’t of different ethnicities. She’s also been known to snub unpopular students in her class, even calling in bodyguards, etc. to remove them from her presence if necessary. Said unpopular kids, of course, include series star Timmy Turner, who has an unrelenting crush on Trixie and tries various tactics to win her over. One episode, “Information Stupor Highway,” revolves around Timmy trying, via wishing himself into the Internet, to prevent Trixie from reading a mushy love email he wrote, but didn’t mean to send.
In perhaps a nod to Archie’s Betty and Veronica, Trixie’s best female friend is Veronica, a blonde girl who does like Timmy, but is secretly and crazily obsessed with wishing she was Trixie.
A few episodes show Trixie actually indicating she might like Timmy on some level, or has some less-than-shallow interests. However, she usually reverts to type by the end of the episode.
Trixie is voiced by Dionne Quan, a Chinese-American voice actress who’s legally blind; her scripts are written for her in Braille. Quan also was the voice of Kimi in “Rugrats” and “All Grown Up.”
Here’s what’s of interest from DC Comics for August 2013. Full solicitations are available here.
Adventures of Superman #4, on sale Aug. 28, $4 (digital-first)
Batman ’66 #2, on sale Aug. 21, $4 (digital-first)
Batman: Li’l Gotham #5, on sale Aug. 14, $3 (digital-first)
More cancellations coming this month, including “Threshold” (so much for the new and “improved” “Captain K’Rot“) and long-time DC title “Legion of Super-Heroes.” I guess being set 1000 years in the future makes it difficult to have forced crossovers with the present-day DCU, and/or it’s hard to forcibly tie it into one of the 876 Bat-titles…
In more interesting areas (read: not the “New 52″), the digital-first weekly titles continue to roll along unabated with their paper versions, compiling several digital issues at a time. “Batman ’66″ sees the appearance of classic TV show villain King Tut, as well as a “1966″-ized version of Killer Croc. I assume we’ll surely be seeing a “1966″ version of Harley Quinn before long.
No “Showcase” volume this month, but there is a trade paperback release of the “Secret Society of Super Villains,” the classic super-villain team from their 70s run in various titles. This volume includes a reprint from “Cancelled Comic Cavalcade,” an “ashcan” black-and-white title “published” (via several dozen photocopied copies) by DC for copyright purposes. Said “title” consisted of several otherwise-unpublished black-and-white stories from titles that feel victim to the infamous “DC Implosion,” a mass cancellation of titles during the late 70s. The Secret Society consisted of various foes ranging from Star Sapphire to Gorilla Grodd.
Although it was announced several weeks ago, I thought it’d be worth noting anyway: Archie Comics’ books are now available through Google Play’s digital media store.
The comics offered include some back catalog of books, as well as offering same-day digital versions of the paper books. Comics bought through Google Play may be read using the “Play Books” smartphone app or directly in your browser. Like other online bookstores (unfortunately), the comics sold here are laden with DRM. However, unlike Comixology, there’s the option of downloading an actual file for use on various devices, a DRMed PDF, which may be read on a computer using Adobe Digital Editions.
(It’s possible to remove the PDF’s DRM via various means, letting one keep one’s purchases unmaimed by DRM. No, I’m not advocating piracy, just the right to actually own what one paid money for…)
I tested the new Archie offerings via the 99-cent sale they held late April with the service’s launch, by buying the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch: 50 Magical Stories” volume offered. The stories (a compilation of various Sabrina stories over the decades) are entertaining, of course, but unfortunately, the comic itself has some severe quality issues. At least several stories are printed entirely as if someone had flipped a negative or something: all black with white outlines for the artwork, and no colors. The feature to download the PDF version is also disabled; the link leads to a “404″ error page. While I only paid 99 cents, I think I’d be greatly annoyed if I’d paid full price.
Fortunately, several other comics (offered for free as samples) were printed correctly, and with their PDF download options functioning normally. The “Play Books” app seems to work well enough for reading comics, as they looked fine on my Nexus 7.
Overall, seeing more options to buy digital comics is a good thing. It’s also good that Google Play is using an actual non-proprietary file format (unlike Comixology) for its comics, DRM aside. Given Barnes and Noble’s possibly shaky future with the Nook/Nook Store, an alternative digital comics venue is nice. Hopefully DC and (especially) Marvel will follow suit in expanding their same-day digital offerings to Google Play.
While any of the nominees would’ve deserved the prize, I was hoping for “Kevin Keller” to win. It’s one of the few pieces of American entertainment aimed at children that features an openly gay character. Unfortunately, LGBT folk are still seen as “off limits” for American children’s media as far as TV/movies are concerned. Thus, “Kevin Keller” winning highlights this aspect of media. It’s also an entertaining comic, of course…
(Unrelated, but if you’re wondering about “ParaNorman”‘s nomination in the “Outstanding Film – Wide Release” category, it lost to “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”)
This week’s “Teen Titans Go!” episode was pretty funny, though I liked the second one more than the first. SPOILERS ahead…
Plot: Cyborg and Beast Boy trick Raven into making magically-created clones of themselves. Hijinks (and a twist ending) ensue.
Raven’s powers in this series seem to be much more powerful than in the original “Titans” show. All the better for comedic moments, I guess.
Still wondering if Beast Boy’s vegetarian or not in this show. Beast Boy seems to not mind eating what looks like pepperoni pizza, though tofu chips are also seen. Unless it’s some sort of meatless pizza topping, though I’d figure Cyborg would throw a fit about that. (Or not, since he ate that block of tofu with barbecue sauce in the original series…)
Plot: Starfire decides to go on a date with Speedy, which Robin resents, to the point of kidnapping Speedy/disguising himself as Speedy to sabotage Starfire’s interests in the archer hero.
Despite Robin’s less-than-heroic nature in this episode, I thought this one was funny. Making it even funnier is the episode quietly pointing out that Speedy originally was just a knockoff of Robin, as Green Arrow’s longtime kid sidekick. Similarly, Green Arrow himself was a knockoff of Batman for much of the Golden and early Silver Age. Since the 70s, Roy Harper (Speedy’s real name) has largely struck out on his own as a hero, taking up several different names (“Arsenal” seems to be the longest-lasting one), plus kicking an addiction to heroin (from the early 70s Green Lantern/Green Arrow storyline). Roy even had his own daughter at one point, per DC aging the sidekicks while not aging their mentors as much.
The restaurant Starfire, Robin and Speedy go to looks like Seattle’s Space Needle, which does have a restaurant inside. I’m not sure if Jump City is based on any particular US city, beyond being on the west coast.
I noticed both episodes had a theme of fake doubles replacing the real versions of individuals.
This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Angela Chen.
Chen appeared on “Superman: The Animated Series” during its 90s run on the WB network. There, Chen was the “Daily Planet”"s gossip reporter, as well as the host of a TV show. Chen’s personality tended toward being assertive; this and her focus on less-than-hard news led her to clash on a few occasions with the “Planet”"s star reporter Lois Lane.
Angela was never introduced into the mainstream “DCU” comics, unlike other animated DC characters like the Joker’s sidekick Harley Quinn, or “Superman: The Animated Series”‘s Mercy Graves, Luthor’s own henchwoman/sidekick. Chen does appear in the digital-only “Smallville” comic, however, where she’s presented as a more mainstream news reporter.
Angela Chen was voiced by Lauren Tom, a Chinese-American actress who starred in “The Joy Luck Club.” Tom also has done other voicework, including Amy Wong on “Futurama.”
I didn’t get around to watching this episode until just now, thus the lateness of the review of last week’s episode. Yes, SPOILERS ahead…
Plot: Robin’s driver’s license is suspended (due to an accident with the Batmobile), so he takes a shady-sounding driver’s ed course to try to get it back.
Pretty funny episode; parts I enjoyed:
Seeing Robin drag the Titans on all manner of trivial tasks, and what specifically Robin was interrupting with his, as Cyborg put it, “stupid stuff.”
Further mentions of Batman and Superman: the Batmobile is shown, plus Superman’s face is seen on the sign of the coffee shop where the Titans hang out.
Cyborg losing his memory of Starfire due to Robin interrupting his data backup. And getting said memory back: “Hey, when did Starfire get here?”
Plot: Raven’s father, the evil and powerful demon conqueror Trigon, pays his daughter a visit…and (at first) turns out to be a pretty friendly guy.
This one was also amusing… parts I liked:
Raven (temporarily) frying Beast Boy.
Trigon’s initial niceness, complete with a sitcom laugh track.
The dumb stuff the Titans wished for from Trigon. Starfire speaking like a stereotypical teenage girl… yikes.
The “he’ll be back” remark by Raven. Apparently, even demon conquerors from another dimension celebrate, uh, a North American holiday centered around stuffing one’s face with turkey!
Of particular note is that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Trigon depicted as a less-evil type of guy. The “Tiny Titans” comic shows Trigon as even more charismatic/less focused on villainy, willing to make pancakes for his daughter and her friends. (He also took a liking to Kid Devil, here a toddler.)
Think I liked this week’s even more than last week’s; a promising start so far for the series.
The other day, the big US bookstore chain Barnes & Noble announced that their line of Nook tablets will now be allowed to access the Google Play app store. This access applies only to the current line of tablets (the HD or HD+), not their original Nook Color or Tablet models.
One long-standing flaw of the Nook tablet is that until now, B&N didn’t allow the Nook access to Google Play, instead curating their own app store. Their own app store was limited in selection, older versions, and often charged for apps that were free from Google Play, such as Angry Birds. Since the Nook was easily rootable, however, the more geeky of us online didn’t mind much, and got around B&N’s limitations. Of course, this was early in the color tablet era (a.k.a. a few years ago); now, with a wide selection of tablets to choose from, such as the excellent and inexpensive Nexus 7, such limited access to apps is unacceptable. While Amazon’s app store for its Kindle is much better curated than Nook’s app store, Amazon’s Kindle still doesn’t allow access to the Google Play store. This might help differentiate the Nook from its Kindle competitor.
Since the Nook’s market share is lower compared to the iPad, Kindle, Nexus 7, etc., hopefully this change will allow the Nook (which is nice hardware otherwise) to gain ground. While sideloading apps still isn’t officially allowed, as The Digital Reader blog criticizes, I don’t think the average user the Nook’s aimed at will care one bit. I recall sideloading homebrewed apps on my old Palm Pre, but only because the official apps I wanted—which was most of what’s out there—didn’t have WebOS versions.
This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is the 2002 Disney-produced cartoon “Teamo Supremo.”
“Teamo Supremo” features the adventures of three kids who fight crime as superheroes. The series came out during the height of popularity of Cartoon Network’s “The PowerPuff Girls,” and thus came off to some as an attempt to cash in on the PowerPuff Girls’ popularity. (A similar simplified animation style might not’ve helped that impression). Unlike Townsville’s heroes, however, Teamo consists of three non-superpowered crime fighters, using various gadgets:
Captain Crandall: Real name Crandall. Cap’s the team’s leader. Crandall for some reason believes he’s really an alien from another planet, whose super-powers haven’t fully kicked in yet; he’s also generally obsessed with superheroes. The series reveals both of his grandfathers were also former superheroes—one resembling Batman (“The Dark Talon”), the other Captain America (“The Silver Shield”). Crandall’s gear includes a utility belt containing a portable shield, specialized yo-yo, and other equipment.
Rope Girl: Real name Brenda. Rope Girl speaks with a bit of a Southern accent, and fights crime using a high-tech jump rope, in a fashion akin to Wonder Girl/Wonder Woman’s lassos.
Skate Lad: Real name Hector Felipe Corrio (the only team member whose full name’s given). Skate Lad’s talent is being the state’s champion skateboarder. Hector uses a specialized high-tech rocket-powered skateboard, which also serves as Teamo’s means of transit. An episode centered around Cinco de Mayo suggests Skate Lad’s of Mexican heritage.
The trio’s crime fighting equipment was given to them by Governor Kevin, the governor of their (unnamed) state, and the state’s top-secret high-tech laboratory known as “Level 7.” Governor Kevin summons the kids whenever their talents are needed to fight the latest villain threatening their state. Said villains range from ones that wouldn’t be out of place in a “straight” superhero story (such as “The Gauntlet,” a guy using energy-blasting “power gauntlets” stolen from Level 7, or a M.O.D.O.K-like robotic villain named “Technor”) to unimpressive ones like the “Put-Down Artist,” whose shtick was…insulting others.
The members of “Teamo” also have battle cries. Captain Crandall’s is “Buh-Za!,” Rope Girl’s is “Wuh-Pa!,” and Skate Lad’s is “Chi-Ka!” Yes, their battle cries sound more like babies learning to speak; “Avengers Assemble!,” they’re not. Though it’s interesting that Skate Lad’s cry (when spoken) is the Spanish word for “girl” (chica).
Another trait of the show was its use of (via stock footage) a somewhat-drawn-out transformation sequence for when Teamo assumed their superhero identities: Crandall stating “Rope me, Brenda!,” then the group jumping Brenda’s jump rope at high speeds until their costumes came on from out of nowhere, with flashy effects in the background. (I’d presume this ability’s another high-tech feature of their Level 7-granted equipment.)
The show ran for two seasons on ABC, then went to Toon Disney for part of the 2000s, before vanishing from the air entirely. Since Disney’s (unfortunately) reluctant about releasing its older animated TV programs to DVD/Netflix/etc., there’s currently no (legal) way to view the show. Still, the show’s website (in all its Flash-based, 2002-era glory) is still up, which has some brief episode clips. There’s also the opening available on YouTube:
Crandall’s voice actor is Spencer Breslin. Rope Lad and Skate Girl both share the same voice actress, Alanna Ubacha, a Latino actress who’s done some other voice work, as well as star in “Meet the Fockers.” The Governor’s actor is comedian Martin Mull (the principal on “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”).