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Of Machines and a Mockingbird

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Of Machines and a Mockingbird

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 MARCH 9, 2016

Vision #5

(Marvel Comics)

Sweet spirit singing … this is a masterpiece. There is so much good about this issue that it almost seems unfair to start with one element over the other. The number thirty seven — a number discussed before in this series — is expanded upon with enormous effect to build and drive the reader towards one singular moment. That moment? It’s … it will haunt you. It’s such a genuine, honest, real character moment that it is both inescapable and impossible. As the centerpiece of this issue, it is supported by a stream of fascinating jewels: the disintegration of a woman akin to the lyrics of “Synchronicity 2,” the terror in two synthetic teenagers’ eyes, the cold certainty of a police detective. Things work with — pardon the pun — mechanical precision thanks to another bulletproof script from Tom King and visual presentation from Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles. Wow.

Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #50

(IDW Publishing)

On its own, this is not a great issue. It’s good, surely. It has a main story that builds slowly, has a beginning-middle-end shtick, has lots of funny and effective character moments and throws around some wacky science fiction concepts. The back up — a travelogue of moments now long past, with lines that resonate so much more in hindsight — is a chronological curiosity. If this were your first issue, you might be intrigued or consider, “what kind of book is this?” However, if you’ve been reading for a while — and if you follow the advice of this column, that’d be you — this issue strings together ideas and cast off lines from months, even years back. It’s a thank you and love letter to the fans who have helped this book become such a vital, literary work. It’s an anniversary present, and if you’ve been along for the ride, it’s for you, courtesy of the scarily brilliant creative team of James Roberts, Alex Milne, Brian Shearer, Joana LaFuente, Priscilla Tramontano, John-Paul Bove, Brendan Cahill and Tom B. Long.

Mockingbird #1

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

An entire, complete story written in the moments between all the punching and running Bobbi Morse considers her normal life. This story in particular is crafty — something strange is happening to the titular character and she does what she does best in order to address it, which is equal parts hilarious and engaging. The waiting room of the S.H.I.E.L.D. health plan is almost the best part (why is Hercules always in there?) and the sure, somewhat kooky character shines through in similar ways to Carol Danvers in recent years. Clever, engaging work by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joe Caramagna.

WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?

Heck of a start to the week, super enjoyable stuff.

THIS WEEK’S READ PILE

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

“Shaft Imitation Of Life” #2 is a surprise in that it’s beautiful and has some great turns of phrase but spins its wheels on the plot far too much, the first issue from Dynamite that didn’t connect as effectively. This certainly isn’t a bad book, it just misses ever so slightly as it reaches for greatness.

“Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” #3 is fun, with a rhythm of dialogue and action that’s very similar to the show. What it doesn’t have is a complete chunk of story — this feels like what happens between the first and third commercial breaks. That’s not bad, and collected will likely be a hoot, but is frustrating once you get to the end and feel unfulfilled.

“Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency A Spoon Too Short” #2 has a number of gags that, while not quite as clever as those of Douglas Adams, are quite enjoyable. This is a part of a chapter, however, of a story and not a complete whole, driving a larger narrative forward. The introduction of a scientist, the effective and sweeping artwork and the notation of complex geo-economic and political challenges made this interesting, but its plot needed to be s little tighter in order to hit the mark.

“G.I. JOE A Real American Hero” #226 has some fantastic quotes and entertaining moments as chickens come home to a very bloody roost. The art is fun and the plot is direct, but theres a strange opening gambit and a subplot that seems half-executed. Interesting but missing the mark slightly.

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

“All-New Wolverine” #6, “Star Trek” #55, “Amazing Spider-Man” #9, “Batman Superman” #30, “Ms. Marvel” #5, “Lantern City” #11, “Red Wolf” #4, “Earth 2 Society” #10, “Codename Baboushka The Conclave Of Death” #5, “Telos” #6, “Precinct” #4, “Starfire” #10, “Weirdworld” #4, “Jupiter’s Circle Volume 2” #4, “Spider-Gwen” #6, “Catwoman” #50, “Uncanny Avengers” #7, “I Mage” #2, “Spider-Man Deadpool” #3, “Red Hood Arsenal” #10, “Savage Dragon” #212, “Detective Comics” #50, “Kennel Block Blues” #2, “Spider-Man 2099” #8, “New Suicide Squad” #18, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” #6, “Leaving Megalopolis Surviving Megalopolis” #3, “Green Lantern Corps Edge Of Oblivion” #3, “Doctor Strange” #6, “Snow Blind” #4, “Batman And Robin Eternal” #23, “Black Knight” #5.

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

“Action Comics” #50 has grand ambition and scope, with huge stakes and destruction the likes of which would come from Zack Snyder. It has some genuine moments where the reader could connect with what was happening and believe in the “Independence Day”-styled melodrama. The art is gorgeous and the depictions of characters effective. However, with the poster-book, almost “Tiger Beat” storytelling at many points and the wholly unsatisfying climactic moment, this book crashed where it wanted to soar and that … that’s not very super at all.

“Mighty Thor” #5 had as its centerpiece melee combat between the newly minted goddess of thunder and Odin, filled with rage and purpose. With that as a main event, this issue has such an unimpressive climax, one so predictable and needlessly cyclical that it sucked the momentum out of what was enjoyable about the issue. A frustrating ending for a troubled issue.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

It was a little rough, but survivable out there.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

The purchased books all are so very, very good that they overcome whatever else is happening.

THE BUSINESS

Are you reading the best doggone web comic written by someone writing this column? “Enter Project: Torrent” continues this week and every week (until it’s done anyway).

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. 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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