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 JULY 19, 2017
America #5 (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. America Chavez has a best friend who can be a hot mess: the heiress teen archer Kate Bishop, also known as Hawkeye. Using America’s spring break as a chance to hang out, one of the title hero’s young crushes shows up and it leads to one of the best action sequences you’ve seen in months. There is fantastic dialogue and butt kicking artwork as an enormously effective collective effort from Gabby Rivera, Ramon Villalobos, Tamra Bonvillain, Brittany Peer and Travis Lanham.
Batman #27 (DC Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. The third and fourth tier super villains are interesting cases, weirdo one trick ponies with delusions of adequacy … but what if they weren’t? An engineer with experience in aerodynamics gets dragged into the War of Jokes and Riddles and, with a literary allusion brilliantly framing the self-enclosed narrative, finds himself flying into the crossfire. Writer Tom King leans in on this script, effectively using the lead character to drive events but remain stymied by them and the chief antagonists seem challenged by how to proceed. The visuals by Clay Mann, Danny Miki, John Livesay, Gabe Eltaeb and Clayton Cowles truly stand up, in moments both intimate and intense. This is the promise of big label comics fulfilled.
Spencer And Locke #4 (Danger Zone/Action Lab Entertainment)
There are two moments in this remarkable issue — one with a hug and one with a confrontation — that are about as good as it gets. Writer David Pepose has the sure, steady hand of a master in this script, which deftly mixes the ridiculous with the intense to perfectly ape the Bill Watterson aesthetic and the hard boiled crime noir that it frames. Kudos for the art team of Jorge Santiago Jr., Jasen Smith and Colin Bell for threading the needle on a visual challenge that could have easily gone awry, but instead shines.
Batman ’66 Meets The Legion Of Super-Heroes #1 (DC Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. This is a nostaglia-soaked delight with more in jokes per page than you can shake a time bubble at. Using a 1960s aesthetic to tune the characters of the Legionnaires, they try to recruit Robin into their ranks but end up needing both Caped Crusaders to crack the case with two chrome-domed, time tossed ne’er-do-wells. This issue doesn’t sing the blues despite being Allred, with Lee, Michael and Laura on hand (plus letters by Wes Abbott). For fans, this has so many laughs and references that it’s well worth the cost.
Time And Vine #1 (IDW Publishing)
Jump from the Read Pile. Four words: time travel wine cellar. That really should be all you need to know to run, not walk, to pick up this brilliant debut issue. Here are two more words that should get your attention: Thom Zahler. The mind behind the engaging books Love and Capes and Long Distance is at it again, crafting engaging characters with seeming effortlessness. To say much more would spoil the delightful surprises, but Zahler (with colors by Luigi Anderson and production design by Neil Uyetake) sticks the hell out of the landing here.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Mmm, that’s a fantastic batch of freaking comics to usher us in to Nerdi Gras!
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
Batwoman #5 is a deep, atmospheric romance built on crime and dodging imperialism. It has great moments, but its arguable leads lack specificity and it was more sizzle than steak, its action climax lacking clarity.
M.A.S.K. Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #8 was a fun romp through the connected stories as characters from two other toyboxes show up and the teamwork of the leads is fantastic. The ending was a little abrupt, cutting off just when it felt like it should have offered something more, but this issue was fairly close to making it home.
Sisters Of Sorrow #1 would have made it home with one or two stronger character showings. Residents of an abused women’s shelter get tired of the system failing them and seek retribution. An attractive concept for many in this day and age, and this story would clearly shine with a live action interpretation. As still shots, it falls a little short but is a long way from being bad.
Magnus #2 had a dash of I, Robot, a hint of Blade Runner and a dose of Alien Nation as the lead chases an AI that broke bad to the tune of two murders. A Vertigo-styled potboiler (in a good way), with a bit snappier pacing this could have been a contender.
Aquaman #26 had some Shakespearean overtones and a sense of dread and urgency that worked. Its titular character. however, lacked agency and clarity, so that was less than compelling.
Rom Vs Transformers Shining Armor #1 had an interesting twist — a Cybertronian protoform (baby) raised by the Spaceknights. What would keep such an anomalous creature alive? That question drives the story, which came close on concept but fell down on execution as the other baby Spaceknights were cookie cutter characters and the Cybertronian side didn’t work hard to establish its players beyond broad strokes. Interesting idea, especially since it could have ended the Transformers’ civil war before it ever found Earth.
Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #3 drew some interesting psychological conclusions about both Victor Frankenstein and the act of creation, looking back at the modern scientist’s reasons. Great character work, but thin on plotting.
Justice League #25 had great lines and a focused performance from the team but had an antagonist that had zero agency, no distinctiveness and nothing compelling, so that sapped the work of urgency.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
Hey! Nothing sucked! That’s great!
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
It’s a Nerdi Gras miracle! Great tries out there.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
This week wins big as nothing made you turn up your nose. Hoo hah!
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 Irrational Numbers: Addition (a supernatural historical fiction saga with vampires), 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!
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