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Nuts, Magic and an Ode to Darth Vader

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Nuts, Magic and an Ode to Darth Vader

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 16, 2015

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3

(Marvel Comics)

Using a riff on a gag from recent issues of “Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye,” an errant Wikipedia entry leads to all brands of shenanigans as Dr. Doom and Squirrel Girl’s roommate Doreen travel back to 1962 and things go relentlessly awry. Writer Ryan North has Doom at his most bombastic which is enormously enjoyable and the cleverness of the protagonist as she saves a set of time displaced computer science students from being atomized is both educational and hilarious. The consistency of this series approaches Joe Kelly’s heights on “Deadpool,” and while this issue’s plot was a little more hectic than than previous ones, it was sheer enjoyment throughout. Please don’t miss the parenthetical commentary along the bottom of the pages, which is almost enough to justify the issue’s cost alone, and the angel and devil on Doreen’s shoulder is a hoot. Great stuff, even though the rough-hewn visuals (despite their effective visual storytelling) of Erica Henderson, Doc Shaner, Rico Renzi, and Travis Lanham may not fit the taste of every fan.

Phonogram The Immaterial Girl #5

(Image Comics)

There are two parts of this book, and each one is wonderful in completely different ways and for different reasons. In the first part, phonomancer David Kohl (who, once upon a time, was the protagonist of this whole series) gets the news about the change to the woman formerly known as Emily Aster … and realizes he didn’t even notice the difference. He spends most of the issue chasing a highly dangerous gambit in order to rescue the woman who was once his almost-rival with results that surprise even him, giving shocking depth to characters who never showed any depth previously. The bigger surprise? That’s all prologue for the real narrative core of this wonderful work. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (with Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cowles) are simply transcendent in this work, using metatextual references to create comics of such literary quality as to be worthy of university study. This is simply wonderful.

Darth Vader Annual #1

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

The best thing about the titular character is the kind of inevitability and inexorability he has about him. No pun intended, he forces solutions where there are none. In the same way he will eventually be sent to “motivate” the crews constructing the second Death Star (this is set shortly after the Battle of Yavin), Vader shows up on the planet Shu-Torun to find out why production of ores aren’t coming at the Empire’s breakneck pace. Along the way, Vader unleashes his evil droid dopplegangers Bee-Tee and Triple-Zero and literally every second they’re on panel is entertaining. Combine Vader’s effectiveness even in the face of superbly overwhelming odds to wonderful dialogue from the diabolical droids and this issue is well worth the money. Fantastic work by Kieron Gillen, Leinil Yu, Gary Alanguilan, Jason Keith and VC’s Joe Caramagna.

WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?

Very re-readable, super enjoyable … that’s a heck of a good start for this week.

THIS WEEK’S READ PILE

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

“Huck” #2 fell down on the job as it took the focus away from its charming titular character — who was a rock star every second he was on panel — and on the world reacting to him, which was both boring and predictable. Barely enough narrative to fill the page count, let’s hope this picks up the pace next issue.

“Lucifer” #1 has familiar characters and Vertigo-ish ideals but falls short on the hook, the charm that makes the Morningstar such a compelling character. People talk about him, but he lacks agency. People worry about him, but he sits and does little. That’s less entertaining than it should be, but perhaps it will play better on TV when the adaptation comes to — pardon the pun — light. Perhaps this is a slow start before the fireworks, such as they are, begin.

“Mighty Thor” #2 has a few interesting moments worth noticing as Loki revels in his new powers as the god of stories and joins his long lost father and a host of other malcontents from around the nine realms in a quest to create the best possible quesadilla … just kidding, they wanna burn Asgard to the ground. The art’s great and the framing is fine, but despite the cute moments the whole thing seems very … cyclical. That robs it of importance, which makes it hard to get invested in the work.

“Tithe” #7 had a compelling and fast moving plot with a big, splashy crime at its core. If you like procedurals, this is a very solid one that would play well with fans of the alphabet soup shows on CBS. There’s a nice crossover with another Top Cow book here — one that’s all too brief — but if that means there’s room for more of that, it could be a good sign. Solid entertainment that’s a little skimpy on characterization.

“Squadron Supreme” #1 was very close to making the mark as castaway super powers from five different parallel earths have decided to act decisively and strike first at threats to the world. Sound familiar? Yes, that’s also the mission statement of “The Authority” and “The Monarchy” and at least one incarnation of the Avengers. The biggest difference here is that they did a very different thing to make their mark and set themselves apart, while getting some of the super hero establishment’s biggest names are not happy about it. Cliche? Somewhat. The lack of restraint (“the reasoning of Frank Castle”) let loose in what appears to be the wildly popular Marvel Universe has some novelty to it. This type of premise, by and large, normally runs its course very quickly. Will this have the narrative viagra to maintain its direction? We’ll see. Nice to see the speedster from “DP7” back, though.

“Wayward” #12 had some killer (literally) action scenes, amazingly conceived and depicted with outstanding visuals. The plot, however, was de rigueur as the arguable lead was in a prone position most of the issue and very little happened plot wise. This feels like it should be a collection.

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

“Monster World” #1, “Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Coven” #5, “Ms. Marvel” #2, “I Hate Fairyland” #3, “Silk” #2, “Batgirl” #46, “Judge Dredd” #1, “Batman And Robin Eternal” #11, “Invincible” #126, “Batman Arkham Knight Genesis” #5, “Starbrand And Nightmask” #1, “Looking For Group” #9, “Batman Europa” #2, “Tokyo Ghost” #4, “Clean Room” #3, “Star Trek Starfleet Academy” #1, “Harley Quinn” #23, “Wicked + The Divine” #17, “Justice League” #46, “Klaus” #2, “Justice League United” #16, “Summons” #1, “Martian Manhunter” #7, “Exodus The Life After” #2, “Red Thorn” #2, “Cognetic” #3, “Sex” #26, “Pinocchio Vampire Slayer & The Vampire Zoo,” “Uncanny Inhumans” #3, “Secret Six” #9, “Hacktivist Volume 2” #6, “Web Warriors” #2, “Superman American Alien” #2, “Weirdworld” #1, “Dragon Age Magekiller” #1, “We Are Robin” #7, “Goddamned” #2, “All-New Inhumans” #2, “Jem And The Holograms Holiday Special 2015,” “All-New X-Men” #2, “Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior” #2, “Amazing Spider-Man” #1.1, “From Under Mountains” #3, “Deadpool” #3.1, “Ivar Timewalker” #12, “Illuminati” #2, “Tech Jacket” #12, “Kanan” #9, “Imperium” #11, “Marvel’s Captain America Civil War Prelude” #1.

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

“Ultimate End” #5 was less of an ending and more of a work stoppage, with a “conclusion” that was so anticlimactic it feels like that scene from “When Harry Met Sally.” The story, such as it is, never made a move to do the central conceit of its characters posited as the most important thing in multiple worlds. Pretty, but largely talking head and ultimately sound and fury (literally, Fury is in there) signifying nothing.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Just one bad book, and it was more sad than anything else. That’s not so bad.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Call this week a win on the strength of a lightly bad “bad book,” a jump and euphoria about this little independent film being released this week … you probably haven’t heard of it …

THE BUSINESS

Largely broadcast only on social media. Dodging #StarWars spoilers. Back on … Friday probably.

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!

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