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 MARCH 8, 2017
Deathstroke #14 (DC Comics)
This issue has so many wonderful, horrible things going on. Deathstroke has a plan, of sorts, for his byzantine life as his son blithely misses casual betrayal, his daughter runs from his influence and his business associates consider him an asset and a liability. Add to this an engaging random element added to a fairly routine assassination and things get even more fun. Writer Christopher Priest keeps lots of plates spinning in a very entertaining manner while Joe Bennett, Norm Rapmund, Jeromy Cox and Willie Schubert make the visuals pop off the page.
Nancy Drew And The Hardy Boys The Big Lie #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Jump from the Read Pile. This follows the current Archie Comics formula of putting an almost “Allentown” undercurrent of malaise with the American Dream turned rotten from the inside. Joe and Frank Hardy are embittered teens under the shadow of a father’s shame. They’re under suspicion for the death of their father, but there’s a last page reveal that Layla Miller would adore. Anthony del Col’s script is devious, pushing the plot surreptitiously while peeling back layer after layer of characterization. Werther Dell’Edera, Stefano Simeone and Simon Bowland created an atmosphere of frustration and resentment that’s very close to the national zeitgeist. This is an enormously pleasant surprise.
Power Man And Iron Fist #14 (Marvel Comics)
Alex Wilder is the name of the game with an unconventional, dangerous plan to re-establish the Pride and make his own legend, Parker Robbins style. This is a big, dangerous gamble and the titular heroes are playing catch up as Harlem suffers in the process. The character work leads to a well-established change of heart, a few great references and an epidemic in the streets. Writer David Walker continues his epic run on these characters with the visuals of Sanford Greene, Lee Loughridge and Clayton Cowles riding shotgun.
Silver Surfer #9 (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. This engaging, brilliant done-in-one is the best “Doctor Who” comic that’s come out in months, even acknowledging that it is clearly not everybody’s favorite Time Lord. The Doc, er, The Surfer and his “companion” (they actually say that) Dawn Greenwood discover a star system with four worlds — three wholly devastated by self-created disasters and a fourth idyllic world that has some very serious secrets. The story plays out in a very engaging way, as Dan Slott, Mike Allred, Laura Allred and Joe Sabino deliver a super satisfying lead narrative, build a larger meta-narrative that aptly resolves its own elements as well. That ending was perfect, giving the reader all the character insights they’d need.
Green Valley #6 (Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. Time travel and high caliber gunfire and dinosaurs and knights struggling with their lives. This issue pulls out all the stops and it’s well worth it. Writer Max Landis summarizes everything the reader needs to know and gives some fantastic character development along the way. You’ll feel the confusion and frustration and wonder in every panel from Guiseppe Camuncoli, Cliff Rathburn, Jean-Francois Beaulieu and Pat Brosseau. This issue felt urgent and engaged, and it’s quite a delight.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #18 (Marvel Comics)
This issue takes a dangerous, somewhat unexpected swing at Peter Parker’s central mantra in an issue that does some very, very entertaining character based things (like reveal the original superhero name of the Chipmunk Hunk), all with the comical kibbutzing at the bottom of most pages (almost worth the price of admission by themselves), fantastic quotes (“No no no! I only wanted the benefits of crime, not the consequences!”) and some great action (you’ve gotta love the “Street Fighter” homage). Writer Ryan North continues his nearly ceaseless run of great issues here, and the visuals from Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham continue to entertain and delight.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Sweet Kwanzaa, that’s a bungload of great books!
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Jessica Jones” #6 is an excellent execution of terrible ideas, as Jessica Jones cleans up Carol Danvers’ superpowered mess while making one of her own life. In every way that mattered, the titular character came up in the “lose” column and probably made an all-new super villain along the way. Yay?
“Unbelievable Gwenpool” #13 set its titular character crazy to crazy with Deadpool and made out like a “Dungeons and Dragons” team up. This led to a super fun fight and some rather clever twists of the genre conventions. This was very close to making the mark, limited more by the flat characterization of Terrible Eye, and the laughable nature of Arcade.
The Extremists have grown up and gained both a sense of purpose and the George R.R. Martin willingness to do whatever it takes. “Justice League Of America” #2 has some solid ideas but may be more than Batman and his new team can chew, especially with Bialya and Kahndaq kicking around and undermining the moral high ground. Like wax wings on Icarus, this feels like it’s about to fall, but you almost can’t turn away.
“Mosaic” #6 came close with a lot of great ideas — a company seeding super powers like crops, the lead learning about his powers from a decidedly un-intellectual source, discovering Inhumanity, always great character stuff — but it had too much going on to have anything feel resolved at the end of the issue. Not bad, though.
“Infinite Seven” #2 still relies too heavily on cliche, but this time broke out an old Jim Kirk gag to accomplish a goal. The fight scenes, even if Danger Room’ed, were entertaining. If this can do something to make its cliches connect or, better yet, transcend, maybe it can be something.
“Star Wars Doctor Aphra” #5 had some great character work, digging into the reasons behind the not-so-good doctor’s moral flexibility. Unfortunately, its plot dragged and left its Imperial entanglements largely unresolved. Great concepts, sluggish execution.
“Wonder Woman” #18 didn’t do much for its titular character, who was powerless in the face of a myriad of manipulations. What this issue did well was explore the character of Veronica Cale, a woman extorted by gods of fear and terror, the author of many of Wonder Woman’s villainous antagonists. This makes Cale much Lex-ier and more complex than her first origin story and makes her quite the sympathetic character (the silent panels were everything). That made it close to making the jump, but for the lead to do less in terms of showing up was a deficit too large to overcome.
“Nova” #4 was teensy on plot and huge on character as Sam Alexander fought to escape the cliches of his first high school date and Richard Ryder rekindled his acquaintance with the most dangerous woman in the galaxy. Good moments as parts but a less than inspiring whole.
“Spider-Man Deadpool” #15 had some great laughs and a kind of interesting new character (who should totally team up with Bloodstone for a monster-mashing female empowerment book) but a plot that kind of just wandered around. Close, but no cigar.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Throwaways” #6, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” #1.MU, “Khaal” #3, “Supergirl” #7, “Planetoid Praxis” #2, “Justice League Power Rangers” #3, “Motor Crush” #4 “Gotham Academy Second Semester” #7, “Low” #16, “Doctor Strange And The Sorcerers Supreme” #6, “Earth 2 Society” #22, “Elephantmen” #75, “Assassin’s Creed Reflections” #1, “Scooby Apocalypse” #11, “All-New Wolverine” #18, “Lady Killer 2” #4, “Old Man Logan” #19, “New Super-Man” #9, “Transformers Annual 2017” #1, “Wicked + The Divine” #27, “Astro City” #42, “Grass Kings” #1, “Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey” #8, “Star Trek Waypoint” #4, “Planet Of The Apes Green Lantern” #2, “Rom” #7, “Man-Thing” #1, “Sky Doll Sudra” #1, “Red Hood And The Outlaws” #8, “Kingpin” #2, “Detective Comics” #952, “Captain America Steve Rogers” #13, “Micronauts” #10, “Torchwood” #2, “Flash” #18, “D4VEocracy” #2, “Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps” #16, “Inhumans Vs X-Men” #6, “Back To The Future Biff To The Future” #2, “Suicide Squad” #13, “Charmed” #1, “Titans” #9, “Redline” #1.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
“Superwoman” #8 was an enormously talky, needlessly self-indulgent, tediously overwrought trope masquerading as a story. Lana Lang, you deserve better than this Bechdel-failing frippery.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Just one bad experience? That’s almost refreshing!
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Six buys, three of which were jumps? Sweet spirit, that’s a fantastic week of comics.
With great reviewing comes a great commitment to make free comics. That’s not how it goes? Well, anyway, close enough: this week the writer of this column presents another page from “Menthu: The Anger of Angels” with art by Robert Roach and “Project Wildfire: Street Justice” with art by . Free web comics, every week, throughout the entire year.
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!