WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated) grabs a whole lotta comics, sorting these periodicals (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 NOVEMBER 27, 2013
Letter 44 #2
Jump from the Read Pile.
This issue didn’t make the jump because it’s a masterpiece of storytelling — the writing by Charles Soule is solid but not gripping, the art from Alberto Jiminez Alberquerque and Guy Major gets the point across but is far from jaw dropping — but because it is so fearlessly brave. Taking the core of conspiracy theories and spinning them out into a largely plausible scenario, this is the root of speculative fiction, the true “what if?” story of a mysterious alien question mark out past humanity’s best guesses and possibilities. The core characters — a tyro president on the ground and a few brave souls in the sky — are developing slowly but effectively with quibbles in terms of their development. This comic, however, will draw you in with its cinematic pacing and bold concept, writ large and fearlessly. Intriguing work.
Putting together the pieces, there are fantastic character moments as plot strings are elegantly and skillfully pulled together. Stories are read (and acted out), the truth is sought, murder is threatened and the reality of two cultures at war reveals a secret, shared guilty pleasure that may be familiar to fans of sequential art. Once again, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples turn in a wonderfully evocative work of science fiction fantasy, rich with surprises and presented with such craft and delicacy as to make it almost ephemeral. A sheer delight.
(Unlikely Heroes Studios)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Wow. Let’s run down the list here: balls to the wall action? Check. Hilarious lampshading and more quotes than you could throw Giffen and DeMatteis at? Got it. Dynamic, high powered, polished artwork from Zachary Dolan, Evarardo Orozco, Laurie Foster, Tara Kappel and Ludwig Olimba? Hell yeah! A coherent plot, continuing from the previous issue but including enough to give you the whole story here, courtesy of the script from Dolan and Justin Piatt? Done. Sweet spirit singing, even with the profanity and inappropriate themes, this is maybe the best superhero comic book available today. Jam packed with original twists on classic super hero ideas, this is why we read comics, people. Ladies and gentlemen, a new “buy on sight” title. More, please.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
A bounty to be grateful for, that is one seriously impressive selection of periodicals!
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
The team’s fast talking Rodney Dangerfield gets in deeper than he planned in “G.I. JOE Special Missions” #9, an issue that actually lived up to its title as a simple run for body armor ends up with an auction where you’d be surprised to know nobody told Sharif how the opposition always spreads lies. A cute, fun issue (even with a body count that high) that fell just shy of the mark.
There’s a lot to like about “Black Science” #1, a pulp-infused, non-stop thrill ride that takes place on an alien world. With thematic hints of the classic “Lost In Space,” brushes of Reed and Sue and even dashes of Remender’s own “Fear Agent,” this is a fast paced science fiction thrill told mostly in terse, Hemingway-esque captions. Not bad, but perhaps a little cursory in its supporting cast (who barely showed up and acted as set dressing) and a little heavy handed in its narration.
“Mr Peabody And Sherman” #1 has all the charm of the cartoon and just a hint of cultural insensitivity as the titular twosome take a trip to the eras of cavemen and Mayans, quipping all along the way. Adorable for younger audiences and likely to snag a few nostalgia sales too, this is harmless all ages fun, if that’s what you’re looking for.
“Thief Of Thieves” #18 was paced a little too slowly but held up some great elements of a heist story, with clever story elements that are hard to visually represent interestingly. Nothing wrong, but not enough to recommend it by itself. This will likely read better in a collected format.
“Star Trek” #27 could have been epic. Space battles, gun fights, interstellar espionage … but somewhere between Mike Johnson’s pacing and the art from Erfan Fajar, Sakti Yuwono and Ifansyah Noor, one of the most thrilling scenes is in the Enterprise conference room. Add to that a telegraphed final reveal that saps the momentum from the plot, a rot at the core of Roddenberry’s idyllic concepts and it’s a let down all around.
The best part of “Transformers Robots In Disguise” #23 was Ultra Magnus — the last Ultra Magnus, perhaps — trying to “lighten up,” in a scene that’s guffaw inducing. There are other good points — a mysterious body part, Arcee and the Dinobots in action, Starscream’s struggle with getting what he wanted for so long. However, this issue’s got way too much going on, telling easily four stories at once, enmeshed in the “Dark Cybertron” crossover’s chaos. Another one that might benefit from being collected.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
“Avengers Arena” #18, “Half Past Danger” #6, “Uncanny X-Force” #14, “Tom Strong And The Planet Of Peril” #5, “Catwoman” #25, “All New Fathom” #4, “Uncanny Avengers” #14, “T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” #4, “Maxx Maxximized” #1, “Damian Son Of Batman” #2, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #28, “Ghostbusters” #10, “Infinity The Hunt” #4, “Transformers Regeneration One” #96, “Captain Midnight” #5, “Superior Spider-Man” #22, “Aphrodite IX” #6, “Justice League Dark” #25, “Nova” #10, “Doctor Who” #15, “Wolverine And The X-Men” #38, “Grimm Fairy Tales Wonderland Through The Looking Glass” #3, “Bad Dog” #5, “Superman” #25, “Hawkeye” #14, “Conan And The People Of The Black Circle” #2, “Flash” #25, “Bedlam” #10, “Deadpool Annual” #1, “Danger Girl The Chase” #3, “Larfleeze” #5, “Five Ghosts” #7, “Goon” #44, “Hoax Hunters” #12, “Superior Carnage” #5, “Warlord Of Mars Dejah Thoris” #32, “Aquaman” #25, “Morning Glories” #35, “Mass Effect Foundation” #5, “Batman The Dark Knight” #25, “Warlord Of Mars” #30, “FF” #14, “Red Lanterns” #25, “Sidekick” #4, “Savage Wolverine” #12, “Mind MGMT” #17, “Pathfinder Goblins” #5, “All-Star Western” #25, “Never Ending” #1, “Ferals” #18, “Talon” #13, “Damsels” #11, “Scarlet Spider” #24, “Walking Dead” #117, “Star Wars Legacy 2” #9, “Teen Titans” #25, “Indestructible Hulk” #16, “Green Team Teen Trillionaires” #6, “Godzilla Rulers Of Earth” #6, “Forever Evil A.R.G.U.S.” #2, “All-New X-Men” #19, “Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Quest” #1.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
“Pretty Deadly” #2 remains vague, remains artfully ephemeral without narrative value, literally brings a sword to a gun fight, still has muddy artwork and is generally kind of a mess. However, there are audiences who find this sort of work compelling, and for them this will likely whet those appetites.
For this epic clash of cymbals, this exhibition in noise and melodrama, to have ended with a literal deus ex machina is a tedious fact for “Infinity” #6. The dull son of Thanos matter gets … well “settled” isn’t the right word, but it’s something. The Avengers go head to head with Thanos’ creepy looking generals (who, for all their power, still generate some dull fight scenes) in the sky and on the ground to get … well, somewhere predictable. The whole exercise, down to its fairly familiar looking coup de grace, was a non-event, an anti-climax and wholly forgettable as it put all its pieces neatly back, essentially, where the story found them. Tepid.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Time to be thankful for such a small number of bad comics, even when most of the week was largely forgettable (“Uncanny Avengers” is a red herring, y’all).
WINNERS AND LOSERS
The two stunning jumps added to “Saga’s” ongoing excellence overcomes the few problems and a mountain of “meh.”
There’s not much time left to pre-order Watson & Holmes #7, so please check that out and let your retailer know you’d like to have them save a copy for you.
As of right now, you can spend ten bucks and get about 175,000 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. 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. 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 will do our best to make sure 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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