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 JUNE 14, 2017
All-New Wolverine #21 (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. This was extremely surprising as the heroine formerly known as X-23 leads a set of misfits with healing factors in a race against time. They have to resist all their natural instincts and save a New York community from a targeted pathogen. There were some absolutely remarkable character moments for the title character’s clone Gabby, who showed shades of fan favorite Layla Miller. Writer Tom Taylor really nailed the emotional moments as the visual talents of Leonard Kirk, Cory Hamscher, Terry Pallot, Michael Garland and Cory Petit took the subject matter and perfectly depicted the narrative. This was a big surprise, and a good one.
Green Valley #9 (Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. The ending to this issue, the end of a grand storyline, is a fantastic emotional roller coaster as the struggle between a time traveling jerk and four noble knights comes to an epic conclusion. This Max Landis script is subtle and effective while the action packed visuals from Guiseppe Camuncoli, Cliff Rathburn, Jean-Francois Beaulieu and Pat Brosseau take the reader deftly through every twist and turn of the story. To say much more would spoil it, but collected or individually, this issue gets the job done.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #21 (Marvel Comics)
In this issue, we are allowed to see the brilliance of a reformed Nazi pawn named Brain Drain proves, again, that nearly everything he says is amazing in an issue that balances an awkward friendship being born while positing a super clever criminal conspiracy to battle. Writer Ryan North delivers an extremely clever script while the artwork of Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham perfectly present the mystery and the madness. On top of that, the caption game at the bottom of pages is not just funny as heck, but crazy educational. Super enjoyable work all around.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Excellent emotional communication here through some well plotted, super re-readable books.
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
Kill The Minotaur #1 is historical fiction taking on the tale of Theseus, prince of Athens, the cruelty of the Cretan king Minos and the as-yet-unseen horror of the monster in the maze. A solid if mildly facile retelling of the classic myth, this would be educational if not for all the cursing. While it hits all the marks, it does so in a manner that sticks a bit too close to the source material.
Optimus Prime #8 is deep. As a kind of sociopolitical treatise, it mirrors the functionist struggles on pre-war Cybertron with the modern day class and race struggles in western society on Earth through the lens of “gotcha” journalism and the thin blue line held by peacekeepers. You could sit and dissect the ideas here all day. What it is not is a story, as very little actually happens despite two parallel flashback driven time periods going that would make Oliver Queen nod with appreciation. Fantastic concepts, iffy execution.
The bad and morally conflicted guys are something to see in Star Wars #32 but the antagonists of the take are forgettable here and the arguable protagonists are Sam Wilson-level bad at their jobs, serving as props and generally slowing down the story whenever they’re on panel. That seems like the opposite of what should be happening, unless The Force Awakens was right and they are all just failures. Great artwork, some solid laughs, but deeply flawed in its execution.
If you love all ages stories and have a keen eye for mystery, Kid Sherlock #1 is a good piece of fun. With a “principle” Lestrade and a Watson who is both a talking dog and an elementary school student (sure, why not?), this self contained story had enough Arthur Conan Doyle to avoid becoming simply an Encyclopedia Brown retread. Not bad at all, and if cute is what you want, this has it for you.
The Unbelievable Gwenpool #17 is strange and meta and sad, like an illustrated version of an excerpt from Ulysses by James Joyce. Spoiler: that’s not a compliment. Gwen struggles with “real life” while the borders of the panels imply something much stranger. This strove for Grant Morrison or Neil Gaiman but hit much closer to pre-modern Archie comics. Unsatisfying.
24 Legacy Rules Of Engagement #2 was an effective character exercise that fell down on the plot side, flashing through two crisis points in the life of Eric Carter. A part of a story does not make a story, much like a handful of sand does not make a beach, alas, so this is just part of the puzzle.
Black Panther And The Crew #3 is cinematic in scope and, unfortunately, pacing as it predates the current illogical chaos in Wakanda and shows an ugly face to gentrification in Harlem. Great art, some great ideas, but spirit is the pacing ponderous and plodding.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
Secret Empire #4 is terrible. In terms of being a narrative, it’s a bus crash into a nunnery. In terms of characterization, it’s an animal shelter set aflame. Its central scene is a dinner party where every criticism of big label superhero books is, essentially, proven true. The end of the book, functionally, has no difference in status from the beginning. If you miss this entire thing, there’s only one actual fact that came from it that surely will lead to speculation on sites everywhere. Stevil should just stop. This is getting embarrassing.
Can you be nostalgic for things that happened fairly recently# Old Man Logan #25 tries, reminiscing on days after Days of Future Past as more things from alternate dimensions shake loose like crumbs from the bottom of the cereal box. Not awful, per se, but with its loosey goosey timelines and dimensional shenanigans, it wasn’t anywhere near good.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
The stuff that was “bad” was mostly just disappointment, the way parents look when you come home after doing something they don’t like, so that’s not so bad …
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Two jumps would tie two stinkers had Brain Drain not made his all-star turn, so this week is a winner.
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!