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Mockingbirds & Heartthrobs

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Mockingbirds & Heartthrobs

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 APRIL 13, 2016

Mockingbird #2

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

Lance Hunter swaggers his way off your TV screen and into the Marvel printed universe in a playful adventure taking on the London Hellfire Club on a secretive undercover mission. This fun issue covers all the basics — banter, action, plotting — while effectively outlining the possibly cliched antagonist with some degree of thoroughness. Great art and some clever stuff going on with Bobby’s ongoing medical weirdness, this issue by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joe Caramagna is plain, simple entertainment that you can pick up and get into.

Heartthrob #1

(Oni Press)

Jump from the Read Pile.

A dash of magical realism, a hint of “American Beauty” or “Falling Down” and the crushing realities of “Synchronicity 2” by the Police all come swirling together in this super engaging debut. Callie is a woman growing up in the 1960s and 70s with a congenital heart condition that gives her very few cards to play, and none of them are face cards. When she finally becomes one of the first open heart transplant recipients, things get much more interesting as soon a man comes into her life, changing everything. Christopher Sebela, Robert Wilson the 4th and Nick Filardi put together a beautifully concocted work of fiction that hits all the right notes with a hint of noir for flavoring. Super enjoyable work.

WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?

Very entertaining stuff to start with.

THIS WEEK’S READ PILE

Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy

“The Pack” #3 has sweeping, dramatic visuals and a rich historical fiction underpinning as a group of werewolves in dynastic Egypt live in the shadows of society as thieves and criminals struggling against a corrupt pharaoh’s regime. The visuals are amazing, despite coloring that’s a little dimmer than the story possibly needs, and some narrative choices (like making different groups speak in pictographs with no translation) that are a stumbling block. However, this is a book jam-packed with largely new ideas — a fictionalized take on the ancient Kemetic history that reverberates with vibrancy, and is interesting on its own, despite minor stumbles that slid the issue just below the mark. Worth seeing where this is all going.

“Darth Vader” #19 had a few rock solid moments, with Vader doing Vader things you’re likely to enjoy. However, even with strong showings from Triple-Zero (one of the most enjoyable droids ever) and the Queen of Sho-Turun, the plot kind of drifted and the action scenes lagged. Likewise, for Vader to be one half of the duo running the galaxy, he surely has a lot of people to answer to, Death Star or not. Not bad, but not the tour de force we deserve.

If you liked the spunk of “Princeless,” “Another Castle” #2 will likely pique your interest. A would-be damsel in distress is much less helpless than she lets on as her not-so-competent fiance quests towards her with a sword that’s better than his skill. She hatches plans in secret, working towards saving herself and her love while topping a foul villain. Some cliches slow the book down but the lead character is engaging and the banter with her supporting cast is cute. Not bad, even as far as TV good (you’d watch if you found this flipping through channels), but not tearing down the doors either.

“Voracious” #3 has gorgeous art (really lush colors, too) and a plot that has amusing moments but no real impetus. Like “Past Aways,” it almost has to end badly, so gleeful in its recklessness, but there are cute moments and lots of nice things to look at.

“Actionverse” #1 does a great job of tying together multiple continuities with a well-characterized (if never named) antagonist and a lead character that is based in having a bad experience doing the right thing. The world-jumping shtick will be familiar to fans of “Sliders,” “Black Science” or “Exiles” (even if it has a nasty twist) and ties together the two leads elegantly. The plot dragged a little bit, but the antagonist character was fun in his kind of distracted maliciousness. On its way somewhere, if not quite there yet.

“Princeless Make Yourself” #1 had two perfectly good stories of clashing cultures — dwarves and dragons, then changelings and elves — but each one got in the way of the other and neither concluded satisfyingly by the end of the issue. Great ideas, less-than-optimal execution.

“Hot Damn” #1 is a hedonistic, nihilistic swing at “The Life After” as a man with an unfortunate name ends up in Hell, where it’s much worse than the fire and brimstone foolishness they tried to push in Sunday school. Part navel gazing and part satire (the bits about demonic possession are priceless), it just barely missed the mark for meandering a bit too much plot-wise.

“Amazing Spider-Man” #10 has a plot that drags but some high quality Spidey character work (and some for a hidden arch-enemy, who’s a hoot), great action scenes and great art. The core concept, from a certain point of view, is the same as the core of “The Winter Soldier” and “Pleasant Hill” and even “Star Trek: Resurrection,” and that well is not any more interesting now than the last six times it was drained. Good execution, tepid concept.

The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title

“Harley Quinn And Her Gang Of Harleys” #1, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” #7, “Empty Zone” #7, “Green Lantern Corps Edge Of Oblivion” #4, “Illuminati” #6, “Dejah Thoris” #3, “Earth 2 Society” #11, “Charmed Season 10” #18, “Rocket Raccoon And Groot” #4, “Constantine The Hellblazer” #11, “Silver Surfer” #3, “Jupiter’s Circle Volume 2” #5, “Moon Knight” #1, “Catwoman” #51, “Hercules” #6, “Kennel Block Blues” #3, “All-New X-Men” #8, “Black Canary” #10, “Spawn” #262, “All-New Inhumans” #6, “Batman Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #5, “Insufferable On The Road” #3, “All-New All-Different Avengers” #8, “Batman Superman” #31, “X-Men ’92” #2, “King’s Road” #3, “Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior” #6, “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” #4, “Lantern City” #12, “Red Wolf” #5, “A&A The Adventures Of Archer And Armstrong” #2, “Xena Warrior Princess” #1, “Samurai” #2, “A-Force” #4, “Doctor Who The Ninth Doctor” #1, “Starfire” #11, “Weirdworld” #5, “Citizen Jack” #5, “Spider-Gwen” #7, “Red Hood Arsenal” #11, “Web Warriors” #6, “Letter 44” #24, “Star Wars Special C-3PO” #1, “New Romancer” #5, “Spidey” #4.

No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …

Once upon a time, the minds at DC Comics posited the idea that the homicidal, uber-powerful Superboy Prime was from a world like ours, where comics were printed that told stories of the characters in that universe. “Gwenpool” #1 takes that idea, puts it in the new Marvel Universe and instead makes the character a homicidal version of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” That’s… well, “weird” would be one way to describe it, but even in the wake of the success of “Spider-Gwen,” this doesn’t add up because this Gwen isn’t smart or resilient or capable… she’s just insane and largely lucky. Seriously, she should have died three or four times in this issue alone. This is less entertaining and more befuddling. Wildly missing the mark.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Some extremely ambitious material here overcomes a lone cash grab.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Call any week with two jumps good, and even the sole truly bad book can’t overcome it.

THE BUSINESS

Did you check out this column’s writer on the Say Something Nice podcast?

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 and “Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook” #1, 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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