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Punching & Planning

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Punching & Planning

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 MAY 18, 2016

Astro City #35

(Vertigo/DC Comics)

This issue cut itself short by telling the start of a story and stopping as it hit its second act. The idea that Jack-In-The-Box is one of the most successful and proactive heroes in the whole of Astro City is fascinating by itself, and the infrastructure of improving lives instead of just saving them is nice. The visual depiction and development of this city full of extraordinary people remains stunning and the foreplay for this concept is great, but it’s too much of a tease.

Power Man And Iron Fist #4

(Marvel Comics)

One day, we will all look back on 2016, wondering how we came to have lived in a time of such wonders. We will look at this issue, this capstone on four of the best issues Luke Cage and Danny Rand ever enjoyed in the entirety of their comic book careers, think about how many movies and television shows and ways to enjoy powered individuals, and see that this was, in fact, an amazing time to be alive. Using a plot device that didn’t work as well in another book this week (more on that in a while) that was set up from almost the very first issue, this perfectly-balanced plot managed to provide laughs, action and character development, giving almost everybody some time on panel and some forward motion. How did David Walker, Sanford Greene, Lee Loughridge and Clayton Cowles make a book that’s among the best available in such a golden age? Who can say? Let’s hope they keep doing it.

WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?

Great concepts plus a virtually flawless comic book are a solid start for the week.

THIS WEEK’S READ PILE

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

While Jessica Drew’s alternate universe rule 63 doppleganger was very entertaining, the plot of “Spider-Woman” #7 didn’t get much done. A little more dramatic impetus would have helped here, but if you flipped channels to find this without any cost, it would hold your interest.

“Future Quest” #1 was very close to the mark with Jonny Quest at the center of a storyline spanning worlds. Odd breaches in spacetime are appearing around the world, and Dr. Quest racing an evil mastermind in unlocking what it all means. With great artwork filled with silhouettes and hints of 1980s animated favorites drifting here and there (does Ty have two friends with similar rides?), it’s chock full of Easter eggs but doesn’t do much for modern audiences with its by-the-numbers approach (save Hadji’s welcome snarkiness). If you’ve ever seen “Venture Bros.” this might immediately feel dated but it hits every nostalgia button right on the money.

The new Nighthawk tells the old one a thing or two in “Squadron Supreme” #7, but the issue meanders more than it should, and far more people are interested in last year’s death of Namor than should be relevant here. There were a number of interesting elements but they didn’t connect.

“Astonishing Ant-Man” #8 is chock full of laughs (a guy working for Count Nefaria had coverage so good he got Invisalign), but didn’t have much by way of a plot. Funny stuff, though, in giving a new super villain knowledge about the game.

“Robin Son Of Batman” #12 had a lot about it to like, as Damian Wayne is an engine of arrogance and results, but its central plot meandered and the whole Talia-Batman thing was wasted. The same essential plot device that was perfect in “Power Man and Iron Fist” didn’t feel earned and wasn’t properly set up … kind of the whole “DC/Marvel” cinematic dynamic played out in print, funny enough. Like Batfleck, there were shades of good stuff lost in poor execution.

Like Damian Wayne, “Karnak” #4 has a gift for being awesome but spends far too much of this issue in a wholly meaningless fight scene. Great quotes but not quite an effective story.

The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult,
“Harley Quinn” #28, “Snowfall” #4, “Deadpool And The Mercs For Money” #4, “Independence Day” #3, “Superman American Alien” #7, “Red Sonja Volume 3” #5, “Titans Hunt” #8, “Mae” #1, “Doctor Fate” #12, “Old Man Logan” #6, “Actionverse” #6, “Mirror” #4, “Aquaman” #52, “Spider-Man” #4, “Xena Warrior Princess” #2, “Dept. H” #2, “Spawn” #263, “Goldie Vance” #2, “Shadow Glass” #3, “Beauty” #7, “Star Trek Manifest Destiny” #3, “Martian Manhunter” #12, “X-O Manowar Annual 2016” #1, “Princeless Make Yourself” #2, “Micronauts” #2, “International Iron Man” #3, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10” #27, “Citizen Jack” #6, “Brutal Nature” #1, “Rai” #13, “Uncanny Avengers” #9, “Lords Of The Jungle” #3, “Silver Surfer” #4, “Biggest Bang” #1, “Deadpool Last Days Of Magic” #1, “Tomb Raider II” #4, “Sinestro” #23, “Archangel” #1, “Manifest Destiny” #19, “Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior” #7, “Superman Wonder Woman” #29, “Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor Year 2” #9, “Lucifer” #6, “Civil War II” #0.

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

There was nothing truly horrible that leapt out from the pack.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

A lot of books didn’t leave an impression, but at least none of them left a bad impression, right?

WINNERS AND LOSERS

A few quotables in the reads, things worth revisiting in the purchases — it may not be a landslide, but it’s a win for fans of comics this week in a week that featured the sickest burn ever.

THE BUSINESS

The writer of this column was featured on the Just Joshing Podcast this week.

As well, 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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the buy pile
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