WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated) 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 MAY 24, 2017
Deathstroke #19 (DC Comics)
The titular assassin takes more than a page from the book of Barry Allen as he tricks two teams of Titans into helping him try the impossible. Punking a Flash at super speed, completing assassinations on two continents and catching up with old friends while everybody else struggles to catch up to his plan. A huge cast of creatives were on board for this enjoyable work: Christopher Priest, Benjamin Percy, Dan Abnett, Larry Hama, Carlo Pagulayan, Roberto J. Viacava, Jason Paz, Sean Parsons, Jeromy Cox and Willie Schubert.
Victor Lavalle’s Destroyer #1 (Boom! Studios)
Jump from the Read Pile. On boldness of ideas alone, this issue deserves its ride home. Frankenstein’s Monster had been chilling (literally) in Antarctica for centuries until it’s disturbed by a whaling vessel. This leads to a sequence of events that makes for some very effective visual moments, all the while humanizing and individualizing bit characters along the way, telling a complete story in the first half. The second half is a related and emotionally gripping story that ties perfectly with the first as an overarching narrative and creates the urgency that drives the plot. This is an enthralling, masterful exercise in craft that dips a toe into science fiction, horror and action works. Kudos are due to the creative team of Victor LaValle, Dietrich Smith, Joana LaFuente and Jim Campbell for their effective, engaging storytelling.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Gory and murderous, but those are some entertaining comics.
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
East Of West #33 features a democratically elected yet wholly despotic leader under siege from a disenfranchised and motivated populace while foreign leaders patiently wait, arms at the ready. While this kind of storytelling can be cathartic, it’s ill-serviced by the periodical format, as the characters don’t have enough time in these pages to become loved, hated or feared. This, perhaps, will be part of a nice, collected edition you can sit back and enjoy while the world burns.
James Bond Service Special #1 is a playful little romp of neo-Nazis and rampant gunfire poking fun at the current stream of extremism in geopolitics. A hawkish American secretary of state insults the abilities of British spycraft and puts himself in the crosshairs of a patriot. There are two good Bond-level quips and lots of great modern day property destruction, but every character is two dimensional and while the stakes are real, the story doesn’t translate them for the medium, preferring the short hand of soundbytes. Not bad, but not needed.
Captain America Steve Rogers #17 was disturbing in how closely it mimicked the worst elements in the modern zeitgeist, parroted by a character sometimes called the “sentinel of liberty.” The entire issue revolves around a single televised interview for the titular character and how he pushes his alternative fact perspective to unsettlingly popular acclaim. As a story, it’s not much happens in terms of plot. As social commentary, it’s frightening to see how little fiction was needed to add for this at all.
Pathfinder Runescars #1 had a few chances to really get going, wth some engaging banter and gorgeous artwork to spare. Unfortunately, it had too many characters and too little space for its plot to make the threat clear.
Shaolin Cowboy Who’ll Stop The Reign #2 is profane and ridiculous, blood-soaked and comical, a question mark in an exclamation mark’s clothes. The virtually unstoppable protagonist is like a weather system, as you feel his effects but rarely see his direct engagement. Among the scores of pop culture references and sight gags, this isn’t much of an actual story, per se, but it’s one heck of a spectacle.
Re: Infamous Iron Man #8. Whaaaaaaaaaat? No, seriously, whaaaaaaaaat? Interesting banter with the second cast member from Reign of The Superme, er, Iron Men, a weird bit with Ben Grimm and a last page intended to make you do a double take. Confusing but intriguing so … whaaaaaaaaat?
Normals #1 had an interesting concept going with an ordinary family finding out things they don’t want to know. On film or on television, compelling actors and scoring could have made this work, but it played out a little stiff and slow.
Doctor Strange And The Sorcerers Supreme #8 had some pretty good quips even as it’s really just an extension of the long fight scene that made up the last issue.
In Ghostbusters 101 #3, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann proves why she, in fact, is the best Ghostbuster of any generation while old and new teams compare notes that string back to the original movie, making one unified continuity out of every possible incarnation in a way that’s kind of neat. If only the plot or the challenge were as well defined as these characters, especially the only adults in the room.
Rapture #1 had a compelling character in the form of a pint-sized time traveling juvenile Geomancer, working to stay ahead of a book full of doom saying prophecies. The plot got a little repetitive and the inclusion of the erstwhile Shadowman was a little facile, but this looked great and handled magic effectively.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Highlander The American Dream” #4, “X-O Manowar” #3, “Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur” #19, “Wonder Woman” #23, “Star-Lord Annual” #1, “Doc Savage Ring Of Fire” #3, “Black Panther” #14, “Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps” #21, “James Bond Felix Leiter” #5, “I Am Groot” #1, “Ringside” #10, “All-New Guardians Of The Galaxy” #2, “Batman Beyond” #8, “G.I. JOE A Real American Hero” #240, “Hellblazer” #10, “Jean Grey” #2, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 11” #7, “Blue Beetle” #9, “Mighty Captain Marvel” #5, “Optimus Prime” #7, “Venom” #150, “Kamandi Challenge” #5, “Rat Queens Volume 2” #3, “Ben Reilly The Scarlet Spider” #2, “Mosaic” #8, “Angel Season 11” #5, “Guardians Of The Galaxy Mother Entropy” #4, “Mother Panic” #7, “X-Men Blue” #4, “Saucer State” #1, “Detective Comics” #957, “Black Hammer” #9, “Secret Warriors” #2, “Action Comics” #980, “Letter 44” #33, “Star Trek Boldly Go” #8, “Justice League Of America” #7, “Beauty” #15, “Archies” #1, “Suicide Squad” #18, “Totally Awesome Hulk” #19.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
Nothing to see here. Move along.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
The idea that nothing was bad helps, but the great ambition of speaking truth to power via sequential art is inspiring.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Inexpensive but enjoyable purchases, nothing awful, lots of ambitious tries … that’s a week to be happy about.
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The writer of this column isn’t just a jerk who spews his opinions — he writes stuff too. A lot. Like what? You can get “Project Wildfire: Enter Project Torrent” (a collected superhero web comic), “The Crown: Ascension” and “Faraway,” five bucks a piece, or spend a few more dollars and get “New Money” #1 from Canon Comics, the rambunctious tale of four multimillionaires running wild in Los Angeles, a story in “Watson and Holmes Volume 2” co-plotted by “2 Guns” creator Steven Grant, two books from Stranger Comics — “Waso: Will To Power” and the sequel “Waso: Gathering Wind” (the tale of a young man who had leadership thrust upon him after a tragedy), or “Fathom Sourcebook” #1, “Soulfire Sourcebook” #1, “Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook” #1 and “Aspen Universe Sourcebook,” the official guides to those Aspen Comics franchises. 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. There’s also a bunch of great stuff — fantasy, superhero stuff, magical realism and more — available from this writer on Amazon. 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!