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 OCTOBER 14, 2015
Phonogram The Immaterial Girl #3
Jump from the Read Pile.
This very challenging, heavily meta-textual issue is steeped in the glitterati language of pop culture, drenched in the sweat of Martha Quinn and Nina Blackwood as it dances across decades like just one person is watching. The artwork from Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cowles melds the fantastic and the mundane in a superlatively effective way that drops the reader into each visual milieu just as effectively as it does for the character(s). Kieron Gillen’s script is layered and complex, riffing on song lyrics and album covers and cultural touch points as it depicts an extremely personal conflict between two parties who cannot afford to lose. With a quiet denouement that was just about perfect, this issue engaged and laughed and sneered and mocked and soared in a hundred little brilliant moments. Simply wonderful and — with this issue — again a “buy on sight” title.
Ms. Marvel #19
Jump from the Read Pile.
This comic book doesn’t make any sense. There are no big fight scenes. The plot takes place inside of a maybe fifty yard space, going very few places. Everybody’s talking, many about their feelings. The closest thing this has to an action sequence is a dance party. By all rights, this book should be forgettable and yet it is one of the most honest, emotional, touching books you’ll read this year, providing readers a genuine connection with characters in a way that’s very rare in mainstream comics. G. Willow Wilson’s script is literally, absolutely perfect, encapsulating a view of the old 616 Marvel Universe in the moment before the bullet hits the bone. The intimate, personal artwork of Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring and Joe Caramagna is both engaging and grounded, delivering a visual tableau that feels right. Kamala Khan is the real thing, and this issue proves it without reservation.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Two jumps to beat no guaranteed purchases? Heck of a solid start.
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Day Men” #8 had a far longer denouement than it needed in order to give the story room for a sequel and something of a happy ending. As conclusions go, it lacked — pardon the phrase — teeth, in terms of consequences that mattered to most of the characters. Still gorgeously depicted, still a brilliant concept, just didn’t stick the landing.
“Superman Lois And Clark” #1 dances around the Blue Marvel Conundrum, dropping the pre-Crisis married couple on the New 52’s planet Earth, hiding from the prying eyes of everyone and using their knowledge of how things might go to make things better from the shadows while raising their son Jon. Ignoring the host of logic problems this presents, the relationship between the two leads was solid but had nothing tangible to struggle against. The plot introduced a vague last page threat to up the stakes, but it was too late by that point.
What would happen if you took the generational wisdom of The Doctor from The Authority and mashed it up with one of Top Cow’s biggest properties? “Switch” #1 answers that question as it establishes a new bearer of the magical gauntlet called The Witchblade and sets off a high school aged drama of global consequence. The story has some very good elements, including great establishment of a lead character, the return of a wonderful antagonist and effective artwork. It is, however, enmeshed in multiple continuities with a less-than-effective explanation to the reader about what is actually going on — especially given the revelations of the latest future-spanning issues in Top Cow’s lineup. An interesting start, but let’s see if its tight focus is a benefit or a disadvantage.
“Batman And Robin Eternal” #2 doesn’t have much happening by way of a plot, but it’s got fantastic artwork, great action sequences and some fantastic character interaction that almost essentially proves any book called “We Are Robin” should star Grayson, Drake, Wayne (the younger) and Todd. Oh, also, there’s no Batman. Just FYI.
Writer Al Ewing shows off his gift for chemistry between characters in “New Avengers” #1, showing Bobby DaCosta’s upstart team and the “Avengers Idea Mechanics” behind them, as well as showing a suitably mustache-twirling “evil alternate universe Reed Richards” as an antagonist. However, the plot resolved nothing, stuck in an Act Two morass which left the issue feeling incomplete. Not bad, but let’s see if it finds its footing.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
“Twilight Children” #1, “Journey To Star Wars The Force Awakens Shattered Empire” #3, “Insufferable” #6, “Spider-Gwen” #1, “Ninjak” #8, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” #1, “Sleepy Hollow Providence” #3, “Batman Superman” #25, “Unity” #23, “King Tiger” #3, “Bat-Mite” #5, “Spider-Man 2099” #1, “X-O Manowar” #41, “Marvel Zombies” #4, “Jem And The Holograms” #8, “Uncanny Avengers” #1, “Batman” #45, “Americatown” #3, “Catwoman” #45, “Wicked + The Divine” #15, “Constantine The Hellblazer” #5, “Red Sonja Conan” #3, “Earth 2 Society” #5, “Sex Criminals” #13, “Harley Quinn” #21, “Lantern City” #6, “What If Infinity X-Men” #1, “Star Trek Green Lantern” #4, “I Hate Fairyland” #1, “Justice League Of America” #4, “Swords Of Sorrow” #6, “Deadpool Vs Thanos” #3, “Faster Than Light” #2, “Justice League United” #14, “Civil War” #5, “G.I. JOE A Real American Hero: Cobra World Order Prelude” #1, “Chewbacca” #1, “Red Hood Arsenal” #5, “Captain America White” #3, “East Of West” #21, “Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Robyn Hood” #15, “A-Force” #5, “Starfire” #5.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
“Strange Fruit” #2 is gorgeously rendered, told with an extraordinary degree of craft and wholly tone deaf. Its arguable protagonist is a plot device pushing things forward with very little resembling motivation, he’s being considered as a tool to save people who openly hate him and everyone who looks like him, the dumbest people are shouting down the smartest, and there’s barely a likable individual to be seen. This is, in a word, terrible. A beautiful disaster so wrongly conceived that its solid execution cannot save it. Abysmal.
In “Captain America Sam Wilson” #1, the new sentinel of liberty is (in order) broke, persona non grata with law enforcement, excoriated by conservative media (and their followers) and flying coach. Really. About the only good thing he has, aside from punching reptile-themed militia nutbags in the face, is a “will they or won’t they” thing with Misty Knight (except … isn’t Danny Rand doing her bantu knots?). But … yay diversity? If you’re looking for, essentially, a hard luck hero this might work for you but from an objective standpoint, watching “Cap” (even FalCap) brought so low is … disquieting.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
It was a little rough out there …
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Two jumps beats two bad comics, even if the margin is very thin, so this week can safely be called a winner.
Happy birthday to Myshell Tabu!
Right before hosting a Who’d Win panel called Versus at Comikaze, the writer of this column will be a featured guest at Limited Edition at the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory alongside artist Javier Hernandez and hip hop legend, newfound graphic novelist DMC. It’s gonna be a big month!
As of right now, you can spend ten bucks and get about 175,000 words worth of fiction from the writer of this column. The links that follow tell you where 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, or “Fathom Sourcebook” #1 and “Soulfire Sourcebook” #1, the official guide to the Aspen Comics franchises. Too rich for your blood? Download the free PDF of “Cruel Summer: The Visual Mixtape.” 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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