WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (two-time Eisner-winning journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated.com) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock — hey Steve, Jason, Vince and Quislet) and grabs a whole lotta comics. These periodicals are quickly sorted (how) into two piles — the “buy” pile (a small pile most weeks, comprised of planned purchases) and the “read” pile (often huge, often including comics that are really crappy but have some value to stay abreast of). Thursday afternoons you’ll be able to get his thoughts (and they’re just the opinions of one guy, so calm down, and here’s some common definitions used in the column) about all of that … which goes something like this …
THE BUY PILE FOR APRIL 3, 2013
Transformers Spotlight: Trailcutter
Jump from the Read Pile.
What happens when a sad sack, one-trick pony realizes he could be the most dangerous Transformer alive? “Transformers Spotlight: Trailcutter” looks at that possibility as the Autobot formerly known as Trailblazer gets an image makeover from the psychopathic Whirl and is forced to contend with an entire squadron of Decepticons while his best-known ability (generating force fields) is off line. Along the way, he learns some things about himself while generating some very entertaining banter (Whirl’s impersonation of the “force field face” and several lines about guns are sure keepers) and still getting less respect than Milton from “Office Space.” Great work from James Roberts, Matt Frank and Thomas Deer.
An amazing issue from an amazing creative team — “Fables” writer Bill Willingham has the brilliant Barry Kitson on pencils and inks with Inaki Miranda and Andrew Dalhouse. Reynard the Fox serves as star and framing device for a story of dating in the Fables community that’s equal parts intriguing and hilarious. The Dryad Princess Alder feels like she should find someone to love, but her efforts … have some stumbling blocks. The details of this issue are exceptionally entertaining and, of course, almost completely spoiler-iffic. Suffice it to say that this is a top notch comic book from seasoned professionals at the top of their game.
Jump from the Read Pile.
Whew! After a lengthy, overwrought storyline, this issue, Deadpool is back with a vengeance. In the spirit of the brilliant “Deadpool” #11 by Joe Kelly, this “inventory story” issue perfectly deposits Deadpool into the early 1980s and pulls no punches. There is a Flash Thompson panel that’s so delightfully evil that it’s gonna stick with you every time you see Agent Venom. Tony Stark and booze play a major role here, and every moment of it is worth it. There’s even a send up of the old Hostess ads that’s so pitch perfect that it almost levitates. Even the vintage-styled lettercol does it well. Writers Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan, alongside Scott Koblish and Val Staples providing “retro” styled art, make this one a keeper that rewards frequent re-reads.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Holy crap, that’s a great batch of freaking comic books!
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
Intrigues in Imperial bureaucracy and sentient rights abuses on distant planets, all while two Jedi masters try to get the last living padawans to safety. “Star Wars Dark Times Fire Carrier” #3 had some solid elements, with the prequel’s politics playing a pivotal part in the plot, but a literally silent Vader, less-than-compelling action scenes and straw man antagonists sapped some of the issue’s potency.
On the good side, “Action Comics” #19 had Lex Luthor developing a really, really smart plan and a pretty good scene between Lois and Clark in a bar, but uneven pacing and dull-looking action scenes diminished the effect.
There was a nice framing device of a college class studying the elements of fantasy writing in “Memorial: Imaginary Friends” #2 as a talented skeptic dreams his way into another world. There were lots and lots of explanations and not much time for character development, with several just standing around and waiting to react, but this issue has its positives, even not fully realized.
Ancient history comes knocking (literally) in “Legend of The Shadow Clan” #3, another exposition-heavy bit that shortcuts characterization for getting plot elements out. A man made a decision to protect his family, hiding from a legacy of blood and swordplay, but now that legacy is back and that means time for the screaming and the murder and the what not. This would make a good TV series, but it’s a little too fragmented to work in the periodical format.
There were some fun elements in “G.I. Joe: Special Missions” #2 as a haunted Scarlett and an off-books team hunt down forty billion euros in sunken, unrecorded money. The Baroness wants it too, and she’s got a much better funded effort a half-step ahead of Scarlett, while in another part of the world Serpentor works to undermine the Baroness in another effort. This issue’s multiple foci leaves the work feeling a bit too ambitious, a bit too scattered and not resolving enough within its pages. Still — great artwork, tense character stuff, but not quite finding its footing just yet.
“Locke and Key: Omega” #4 introduces a big dance number as the secret that’s lingered underneath this story finally rears its demonic, profane head and the blood begins to flow. Great art, great action scenes, but it still hasn’t connected for the characters just yet, and most of the redshirt casualties are easy to dismiss.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
“All-New X-Men” #10, “Animal Man” #19, “Super Dinosaur” #18, “Red She-Hulk” #64, “Green Arrow” #19, “Shadowman” #6, “Joe Palooka” #5, “Miss Fury” #1, “Age Of Apocalypse” #14, “Blackacre” #5, “Snow Angel,” “Great Pacific” #6, “Hypernaturals” #10, “Mind The Gap” #9, “Masks” #5, “Planet Of The Apes Cataclysm” #8, “Fashion Beast” #8, “Winter Soldier” #17, “Repossessed” #4, “Stormwatch” #19, “Witchblade” #165, “Polarity” #1, “Superior Spider-Man” #7, “Earth 2” #11, “Savage Dragon” #186, “Abe Sapien: Dark And Terrible” #1, “Son Of Merlin” #3, “Godzilla The Half-Century War” #5, “Spawn” #230, “Detective Comics” #19, “Mice Templar Vol. 4: Legend” #1, “Ultimate Comics X-Men” #25, “Last Of Us: American Dreams” #1, “Caligula Heart Of Rome” #4, “68 Jungle Jim” #1, “Smallville Season 11” #12. “Harbinger Wars” #1, “Batwing” #19, “Venom” #33, “Lone Ranger” #14, “Age Of Ultron” #4.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
“Thanos Rising” #1 takes everything that’s cool about Thanos and pretty much ruins it. Titanian hospitals clearly need better security for their instruments, somewhere on a refrigerator on Titan you won’t find juvenile artwork from a young Thanos who very much wanted to play because apparently Reed Richards is a more attentive dad than Mentor, and Thanos’ mother was MIA in a loony bin (also: no sign of his brother). Undoing everything that worked with the character, writer Jason Aaron is tonally and textually off base in every possible way with this script.
Volthoom the sadistic First Lantern sets his sights on Sinestro in “Green Lantern” #19, which failed on multiple levels. Horrible retcon that invalidates most of what you know? Check. Tedious “What If?” scenario to torture a character for lame reasons? Check. Senseless murder, especially involving a female character played up for sympathy? Check (a Green Lantern tradition). An overwrought, forced means that brings a character back to a publicly acknowledged status quo? Check (a tradition of the Big Two). Oy.
The last page of “Indestructible Hulk” #6 is, of course, patently ridiculous. As well, for SHIELD to be publicly revealed as working with Bruce Banner’s control-challenged alter-ego, that seems like it should be a public relations nightmare, but doesn’t really get any play. Shame, the science lab part is going so well, and the “retro” Thor and visit to Jotunheim has some interesting elements.
“Phantom Stranger” #7 takes standard ideas about many commonly considered concepts — even Yeshua ben Josef — and posits new ideas in place of them. Yes, not only does Judas Iscariot have his own comic book, but now it’s rewriting the history of the man he betrayed. Oh, the moral outrage! Oh, and also, the storytelling is boring, just for kicks, and apparently the Question has gotten a major power upgrade, to be able to stand toe-to-to with the Stranger. Baffling work here.
Problems with “Worlds’ Finest” #11: the plot drags tediously. Also, Desaad is, essentially, in Black-face, as revealed on the fold out cover. No.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
The stinkers almost overtook the whole shebang, but it worked out.
Oh, and there was no order on “Action Time Buddies” #1 and “Steam Wars” #1. Sorry.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
The jumps powered a week that wins on the merit of its accomplishments, overcoming its shortcomings.
You may or may not know that the writer of this column won the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt. This is super, super exciting news. Working on lining up someone to provide a guest review when it comes out before the end of 2013 (because reviewing one’s own book might be weird).
As of right now, you can spend ten bucks and get about 175,000 of fiction from the writer of this column. The links that follow tell you where you can get “The Crown: Ascension” and “Faraway,” five bucks a piece. Love these reviews? It’d be great if you picked up a copy. Hate these reviews? Find out what this guy thinks is so freakin’ great. There’s free sample chapters too, and all proceeds to towards the care and maintenance of his kids … oh, and to buy comic books, of course. What are you waiting for? Go buy a freakin’ book already!
Got a comic you think should be reviewed in The Buy Pile? If we get a PDF of a fairly normal length comic (i.e. “less than 64 pages”) by no later than 24 hours before the actual issue arrives in stores (and sorry, we can only review comics people can go to stores and buy), we guarantee the work will get reviewed, if remembered. Physical comics? Geddouttahere. Too much drama to store with diminishing resources. If you send it in more than two days before comics come out, the possibility of it being forgotten increases exponentially. Oh, you should use the contact form as the CBR email address hasn’t been regularly checked since George W. Bush was in office. Sorry!