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 2, 2015
Oxymoron Loveliest Nightmare #4
First of all, ignore the denouement on the last page. Its saccharine and takes away from the honesty here. Second, wow. With a dash of Jessica Jones and a dash of Carrie Matheson, the series’ protagonist makes a major advancement in character development as this issue concluded the story of a serial killer taking a city by storm. Up until the last page, this final act powers ahead with ruthless intensity and delivers a surprising, inevitable, messy ending. That’s part of why the denouement is such a sappy let down, but the power of the series and the story as a whole makes it easy to forget and forgive. Tyler James, John Lees, Alex Cormack and Jules Rivera deliver a brutal, mean, bracing crime story that’s literally drenched in visceral effect. Digging at the problems of a broken society, this is one very omelette manner of examining it. Kudos to all involved … but leave that last page out of the collected edition!
Jump from the Read Pile.
This comic book is, at its heart, a horror story. The Vision is a frighteningly powerful being who went ahead and made three more of the same, dropping all of them into the D.C. area. Everyone around them finds the challenge of that problematic to varying degrees, and that tension drives Tom King’s subversive, mean-spirited and simply wonderful script. The artwork from Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles is moody and creepy and wonderful, capturing the placid and largely unintentional threat of the Vision’s family. Half of the book is a lie, craftily told, and the rest is a slowly exploding time bomb. A printed testament to the 285th Ferengi Rule of Acquisition, this book is evil and wonderful in all the right ways.
East Of West #22
Jump from the Read Pile.
This issue made the leap due to its sheer kineticism, acting as almost one single long shot, an action sequence that flows like water along a sloping sidewalk, inevitably finding its way into every crevice and crack. An assassination is the play, with virtually invisible armored murderers on a ticking time clock — mostly without a word of dialogue. This issue relied heavily on Nick Dragotta and Frank Martin setting the scene to stand on its own, spilling blood and never letting up on the gas pedal. Jonathan Hickman again showcases why he’s one of the most innovative writers in the field, which is never more clear than when he plays in his own sandbox. If you know all the players, this issue is simply gripping, but even if you don’t, there’s no denying the craft and brilliance of the presentation.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Superbly entertaining stuff there.
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Actionverse” #0 is an engaging first step with a star turn as the fanboy-turned-hero Midnight Tiger at its core. The infectious wide-eyed glee of the character drove this issue, brightening the world-weary Molly Danger’s powerhouse performance and Stray’s unfortunate (and frankly tedious) petulance. Good supporting cast, great artwork and reaching in the direction of a decent balance between characterization (the antagonist got short sheeted) and plot (the pace was a touch uneven). For all that, you’ll likely want to see what’s next.
Amadeus Cho is the eight smartest person in the Marvel Universe, with an intellect on a par with Tony Stark, Hank Pym, T’Challa and Victor von Doom. In “Totally Awesome Hulk” #1, that intellect is subsumed under a metabolic and hormonal rush accompanied by the ability to morph into the jade giant he so long idolized while Banner is (presumably) off working with his Avengers pals. Cho’s mandate — track a rash of giant monsters popping up all over the world and stop them from being more of a menace than they already are — is assisted by a chastising presence and based out of a tricked out flying food truck. If you’ve been looking for Frat Boy Hulk or a Merely Adequate Hulk, this is it, but this sum is less engaging than its parts.
For the first time in this series, “Cyborg” #5 shows Victor Stone actually being good at what he does. Whether doing double entendre lampshade hanging (VERY clever), making Abed-worthy pop culture references or showing his own growth as a scientist, this is a smarter, more effective Vic than we’ve seen. There is still a baffling emo scene, but it was a supporting character this time, and yes the retcon of his origins is a diminishment of his father’s genius. Still, this is the Cyborg we’ve been waiting for and he’s finally ready to put his shiny metal foot up somebody’s backside.
“Star Wars” #13 was less entertaining than one might expect from an issue that primarily had BeeTee and Triple-Zero indulging their bloodlust and homicidal tendencies. There’s a lengthy droid argument involving some coarse language (that is literally all bleeped out) and a showdown between the lethal Doctor Aphra and Han Solo that’s not quite as impressive as it should have been. For a “Vader Down” crossover, it has very little of the Sith Lord’s presence, but this very good looking book was good, just not great.
“Paper Girls” #3 had great art and a very believable atmosphere of terror and anxiety as strange forces come together in a Midwest neighborhood signaling big trouble. Science fiction edged, the plot was a little short of what it needed to be, but there’s a lot to like here and this will likely connect better in a collection.
“Daredevil” #1 captures a hair of what made the Netflix series great, paring away the old “public identity” business and sending Matt Murdock to work as an assistant district attorney. The new, hard edged Matt Murdock has fewer friends but a clearer mandate, bringing dark clad justice to the night while tutoring his own Robin, er, sidekick called Blindspot. An interesting start that lacked only a more distinctive antagonist to push it over the edge into greatness.
“Mystery Girl” #1 is interesting as it introduces Trine Hampstead, a Layla Miller-esque “street detective” who mysteriously knows the answer to almost every question, except how she came to know all of these answers in the first place. When she’s presented with an impossible mystery half way around the world, one she’s “solved already,” she’s compelled to jump in with both feet. The only problem — for her and for the book — is a bored psychopath straight out of “No Country For Old Men,” a half-rendered character struggling to escape cliche. Very close based on the protagonist, but just missing the mark by a hair.
“Exit Generation” #3 has some interesting ideas in a post apocalyptic world where 95% of the world’s population had a bad experience and now the world is a dining destination for a rapacious alien race. A little facile but not the best on characterization.
Like the first few minutes of a really engaging TV show, “Doctor Strange” #3 is thick with charm and the fantastic — much like the good doctor himself — as something harmless has suddenly become a threat. The doctor’s naked attempts at discovering this fall a little shy of the mark. Still as fun as the debut issue, just needs to be a little more cohesive in the singles format.
“Black Jack Ketchum” #1 was a kind of supernatural western thriller with a man hunted by impossible forces over a case of mistaken identity. Maybe. Short on answers and long on smoke and mirrors, there’s not enough story meat to keep up with the snippets of interesting character scattered here and there, with a last page reveal that looks like it should mean something but doesn’t connect. Not so much bad as befuddling as it feels like it should have been something, but it wasn’t.
“All-New Inhumans” #1 posits a new political status quo for the Inhumans as a mutagenic cloud of terrigen gas sweeps across the globe, creating pockets of “NuHumans” wherever it lands and harming mutants as it goes. There are two parts to this issue — a fairly tepid and predictable “meet the new guys” bit with only a bit to recommend and a very savvy and politically-minded back up feature which showed the Inhumans in a very different light. Both stories had as their best element Crystal, the elemental sister of the queen, who emerges as a clever and effective leader in her own right. Not bad, and looking like it could find an interesting direction.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
“Guardians Of Infinity” #1, “Savage Dragon” #209, “Spidey” #1, “Green Lantern” #47, “All-New X-Men” #1, “Insufferable” #8, “Harley’s Little Black Book” #1, “God Is Dead” #45, “Lobo” #13, “John Flood” #5, “Midnighter” #7, “X-O Manowar Commander Trill” #0, “Where Is Jake Ellis” #5, “Teen Titans” #14, “Nova” #2, “D4VE2” #4, “Lara Croft And The Frozen Omen” #3, “Unfollow” #2, “Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor” #16, “Howard The Duck” #2, “James Bond” #2, “Trancers” #2, “Cage Hero” #2, “Angel And Faith Season 10” #21, “Red Wolf” #1, “Batman Beyond” #7, “Seduction Of The Innocent” #1, “IXth Generation” #7, “Batman And Robin Eternal” #9, “All-New All-Different Avengers” #2, “Sheriff Of Babylon” #1, “Extraordinary X-Men” #3, “Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor Year 2” #3, “Action Comics” #47, “Pacific Rim Tales From The Drift” #2, “Invincible Iron Man” #4.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
“Transformers” #48 is terrible. It stars a dog and a semi-sentient drone as its protagonists, and their communication is far more confusing than its “We3” allusions/ambitions. The plot’s a mess, the characters are either incompetent, uninteresting or both and the arguable conclusion is a stretch to understand. Frightening how the mighty have fallen.
“Robin War” #1 doesn’t make sense on so many levels. It’s unconstitutional, it’s impossible to execute on a practical level, it’s poorly conceived on many levels. From the first page to the last, the plot, such as it is, makes the Boehner Congress look like a well-oiled legislative machine in comparison of effectiveness. Tiresome.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Ah … okay, two bad comics don’t do that much damage.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Two jumps beat two bad comics when you have a brilliant indie like “Oxymoron” in there. Fantastic stuff.
Hannibal Tabu’s new fantasy novella “Waso: Gathering Wind” about savage elves in a rain forest is available this Tuesday from Stranger Comics!
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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