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 DECEMBER 14, 2016
Power Man And Iron Fist #11 — (Marvel Comics)
Many years ago, a very intelligent teenager named Alex Wilder pulled a fast one on a team of juvenile superheroes called the Runaways and had a bad experience when he caught his comeuppance. He’s renovated and stepped up his game a lot since then, slipping around the periphery of Harlem and giving the titular characters more trouble than they even understand. David Walker’s script is very clever as it splits into three parallel sequences at the same time, which provides a great climactic moment and is well depicted by the visuals team of Sanford Greene, Lee Loughridge and Clayton Cowles. The mix of noir elements with rock solid characterization and a plot that moves fluidly is a winner.
Deathstroke #8 — (DC Comics) — Jump from the Read Pile.
Given a subplot that doesn’t sing, the fact this issue made the jump is doubly impressive. Deathstroke has to take on Superman without any “prep time,” just the stuff he walks around with, and that’s quite a competition. Using the equivalent of “dun moch” and the tech he’s been using successfully for issues, Slade Wilson gives the Man of Steel some reasons to doubt himself while still getting his job done. The script from legendary scribe Christopher J. Priest is like origami made from unstable molecules, with breakdowns from the equally legendary Larry Hama and more visuals from Carlos Pagulayan, Jason Paz, Sean Parsons, Jeremy Cox, Hi Fi and Willie Shubert. Crafty stuff and — based on previous issues — the stuff that dragged could likely become largely important down the road.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #15 — (Marvel Comics)
Hh. This Buy Pile regular took a dip in quality, with a main plot about a cat wandering into a super powered fight. That’s nothing special. What was interesting was Taskmaster borrowing pages from the Slade Wilson playbook and going full Nemesis Kid on a big group of heroes until the titular character gets a clue and throws something at him he can’t replicate or counter. Not bad, but nowhere near the heights this series normally hits, further evidenced by the missing jokes at the bottom of the page.
Transformers Lost Light #1 — (IDW Publishing) — Jump from the Read Pile.
This comic is not for everyone. Despite the fact that it succinctly recaps the entire “More Than Meets The Eye” series at the end (super helpful), it has idiosyncratic takes on characters that may be apparent to some and may be wholly mysterious to others. This issue builds on looping, wildly imaginative storylines that have percolated for years — Megatron is an Autobot? The war is over? — while trying to acclimate “new” characters who serve as a perspective for neophyte readers. The easy thing would be to take it easy but no, this issue steps up the oddity by a factor of at least three (“triple checked them three times. That’s three six nine checks!”) with an ending that takes digression to an all new level. James Roberts is a madman in the best possible way, and his script is deftly delivered by Jack Lawrence, Joana LaFuente, John-Paul Bove and Tom B. Long. If you’re ready to get weird with it, this issue is ready to transform you and roll out.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Thoughtful, kooky reads that offer something even when they’re not up to par. Not a bad start.
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Daredevil” #14 was EXTREMELY close to making it home, with remarkable fight scenes and an antagonist that stood out immediately, both visually and tonally. The biggest problem was the involvement of the Inhumans, an almost deus ex machina presence that took away from the gritty reality of this largely effective issue.
“Green Valley” #3 came close to returning to glory as the Knights of Keldonia face a challenge so far beyond their understanding in the form of what might as well be a wizard for them. The reveal is a twist ending, a true spoiler if spoiled, and its only fault was that it was too brief and too stunning to let the reader have any real answers. Intriguing stuff, though.
“Mosaic” #3 got so close to making it with a true moment of emotional honesty for a character not used to vulnerability and an interesting guest appearance from Peter Parker. The plot kind of just stopped and didn’t have room to breathe, but some of the moments there were spectacular.
“Mega Princess” #2 was precious in that its characters are super engaging for any audience. The plot wasn’t gonna turn any heads, a fairly common misunderstanding, but it wasn’t bad.
“Detective Comics” #946 had a series of solid quotes but barely moved the chains in terms of plot development. The deconstruction of the vigilante concept is not new, but it has some mild nuances worth noting.
“Fuse” #24 had a classic “this is how it happened” detective monologue explaining the mystery, unraveling what happened in previous issues. This series was never built for monthly sales, but as a collected science fiction procedural it will likely shine.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Foolkiller” #2, “Scooby Apocalypse” #8, “Britannia” #4, “Totally Awesome Hulk” #13, “Earth 2 Society” #19, “Descender” #17, “Inhumans Vs X-Men” #1, “Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey” #5, “Uncanny Avengers” #17, “James Bond Hammerhead” #3, “Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows” #2, “New Super-Man” #6, “Reborn” #3, “Gwenpool Holiday Special Merry-Mix Up” #1, “DC Rebirth Holiday Special” #1, “Deadpool Back In Black” #5, “Brigands” #2, “Jessica Jones” #3, “Superwoman” #5, “Red Sonja” #0, “Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps” #10, “Hawkeye” #1, “Spawn” #268, “Angel City” #3, “Star Wars Poe Dameron” #9, “Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior” #14, “Black” #3, “Wonder Woman” #12, “All-New X-Men” #16, “Star Trek Boldly Go” #3, “Mayday” #2, “Old Man Logan” #15, “Suicide Squad” #8, “Battlestar Galactica Volume 3” #5, “Red Hood And The Outlaws” #5, “Hadrian’s Wall” #4, “Supergirl” #4, “Optimus Prime” #1, “Silk” #15, “Flash” #12, “3 Floyds Alpha King” #3, “Motro” #2, “Action Comics” #969, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” #15.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
“Spider-Man” #10 started off as a simple “Roshomon” retelling of “Civil War 2” events we already know, and then it turned into this big emo crying fest, a story telling a story, meaningless hand wringing and less-than-inspired developments. A shade below “meh” and dipping its toe into being bad.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Only that Miles Morales weirdness really went off the rails …
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Given the number of jumps, this is a pleasant week of comics and a winner by any count.
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 “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!