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 30, 2015
Omega Men #7
Jump from the Read Pile.
This extremely well-crafted narrative takes a castaway earthman named Kyle Rayner through quite an emotional character arc as he and a fugitive princess try to escape a repressive regime and save millions of lives. There’s a big spoiler in the climax of the issue, and with it Tom King’s script spins and bedazzles. The visuals from Barnaby Baguenda, Ig Guara, Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Pat Brosseau are intimate and claustrophobic, yet still show the scale of the gigantic and alien world going on around the narrative. Sneaky, subversive, brilliant material that questions who, in fact, is the “terrorist” after all.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
That’s a great start.
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Transformers Sins Of The Wreckers” #2 had a number of great character moments for the long-thinking strategist Prowl, the suspicious assassin Arcee and the resurrected super warrior Springer as they find out there’s a new surprise in store from their long-lived species and chase secrets in the Alaskan wilderness. A little more context — especially on some of the wonderful plot elements pulled from other series — would have helped this, as would slightly more “oomph” on the action sequences (there’s a big reveal that was diminished by the art choices). Close, but not close enough.
“Last Sons Of America” #2 was a white knuckle thriller that sketched over the plot development it needed to do, managing to bolster its character work along the way. When this is collected, this will be a strong segment, but it doesn’t stand on its own like the stunning debut issue.
“East Of West” #23 only does one thing — one thing that will be immediately apparent to fans of “The Blacklist’s” Raymond Reddington — but it does it with panache and zeal, and that has its entertainment value. As a comic, that one thing isn’t quite enough to make you part with your money unless you’re all in to this series up to your chest (not a bad place to be), but for more casual and discerning readers, this needed a little more story meat.
“Lazarus” #21 had a very effective battlefield story that was mirrored by political and scientific advances for the protagonist’s “family” elsewhere. In it, Forever Carlyle led a special forces fire team in attempting to capture a hostile artillery emplacement. That’s the real meat of the story, and the scientific element was clever but unenthralling. The political conflict was barely even a thing, so there wasn’t enough room to explore the fullness of each. Great concepts, great art, decent execution.
“Mercury Heat” #6 had some interesting science fiction concepts running as the planet closest to the sun has been set up with solar panels and used to supply energy for a twitchy and overmedicated humanity. There’s action and violence and rhetoric devolving into pillow talk. The execution could be a little less jagged but the art is great and this has some room to be something, sooner or later.
“James Bond” #3 has at its center a beautiful symphony orchestra of mayhem, a bloodthirsty melee of truly epic proportions as one man does what only someone from Her Majesty’s Secret Service could (according to the marketing). Unfortunately the actual plot and the twisted antagonists therein are more mystery than menace, boggling at the scale of Bond’s abilities instead of challenging them. A missed opportunity.
“Drax” #2 is refreshingly funny as the former herald of Galactus called Terrax has become much more entertaining while he titular character struggles with continuing his singular quest.
“Welcome Back” #4 is a bullet-riddled love story with tons of charisma that — were it on screen and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu — would be the toast of the box office. On the page, the art doesn’t connect the crucial moments they way the writing does, has its pacing a half step off and some critical lines diminished by smaller panels. Close to greatness, maybe even adjacent, but not quite there.
Irish Red Sonja, er, “Belladonna” #0 showcases savvy tactical choices from a legion of female warriors and a post-mortem onslaught on murderous marauders. There’s not much raison d’etre or character development, but it’s got tons of mayhem if that’s your thing. A good looking, but ultimately empty.
“Superman Wonder Woman Annual” #2 was a dissection of the rise and fall of the power couples relationship, all too brief and plagued by, frankly, weaknesses it’s surprising to see in such iconic characters. The one with the lasso of truth lies by omission. The strongest hero can’t power his way through his own apprehension. Miraculously, this issue is excellent in execution and shabby in conception — if these two can’t be better than the average relationship drama of a web series, who can be? Facile, as making it work is more heroic, and apparently more of a challenge, than anyone here can take on.
“Rat Queens” #14 has simply gorgeous art and deep characterization to for some of the cast. The plot, however, is a mess — this unresolved bit with a dragon and a sword, a sibling issue clouding an old university squabble. There were three stories that could have made a compelling issue all by themselves. Jammed together, it’s not working quite as well.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
“Webwitch” #3, “Harley Quinn And Power Girl” #6, “God Is Dead” #46, “Batman And Robin Eternal” #13, “Ringside” #2, “Batman Europa” #3, “Jem And The Holograms” #10, “Black Canary” #6, “Rumble” #10, “Justice League” #47, “Project Nemesis” #3, “Injustice Gods Among Us Year Four Annual” #1, “Savage Dragon” #210, “Justice League” #47, “Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Realm Knights 2015 Giant-Size”, “Drive” #3, “Squadron Supreme” #2, “Superman Annual” #3, “Howling Commandos Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” #3, “Morning Glories” #49, “Chewbacca” #5, “Superman Lois And Clark” #3, “Carnage” #3, “Orphan Black Helsinki” #2, “Captain America White” #5, “Jughead” #3, “All-New Wolverine” #3.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
“Doctor Fate” #7 had messy and uncompelling artwork, a plot that undersold and a conclusion that even the titular lead found difficult to believe, in story. Cursory and uninspiring.
“Spawn” #259 has a simply terrible ending that directly contradicts everything the plot discussed. Yeah, it FN-2187’ed things up quite a bit with largely illogical escalations that completely undercut the antagonist’s ability and mess with your entire sense of fridge logic, making Satan into Kylo Ren. Tedious.
“Wonder Woman” #47 is a gorgeous looking book that started out dry and ended up anticlimactically. The story involves one person determined to do a thing, which Diana wants to stop. Nobody gets what they want and nothing has been changed by the final page, so the entire issue was pretty much a waste, compounded by a wholly ridiculous deus ex machina Jiminy Cricket moment that was far too facile to match the wonderful visuals. Tedious and exhausting.
“Flash” #47 fast forwarded through everything that made the Thawne/Allen conflict so compelling on television, skimming past the pathos or characterization that made a former “Glee” actor believable as a hero and made the guy from “Ed” and “Love Monkey” one of the most compelling personalities on the small screen. Here, without a hint of Cisco or any of the wonderful supporting elements that flesh out the story, the Flash/Zoom conflict is boiled down to primary colors with muddled fight scenes and half-explained science. A grand attempt that failed mightily.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Sweet spirit singing, that kind of upended the whole week.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Four bad books beat even a comic that wins on merit. That’s all bad.
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 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!