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 JANUARY 15, 2014
Astro City #8
This solid issue shows the effect that public opinion can have on a superhero’s life when they’re not punching as a cloud of patriarchy endangers everything Winged Victory has built to protect women who can’t protect themselves. The plot itself is a little thin, and when a supposed antagonist is revealed, it’s almost a letdown, but Busiek and Anderson still craft a solid comics experience and one that really works when focused on Winged Victory’s character. Still, perhaps this series works better from the sidelines instead of tackling its iconic (but ultimately derivative) heroes head on.
Jump from the Read Pile.
This issue just made the mark, following in similar footsteps as the recently cancelled “Hypernaturals” but narrowing the focus while tossing in a dead, disgraced hero (a la the Comedian) to provide some impetus for the story. The art’s a little rougher than it needed to be, but it had good visual storytelling and dynamics and the science fiction bona fides check out. If this can make the readers connect with these characters, it could become something. In a slow week, though, its sheer ambition and ability to not do anything wrong earn it a slot in the purchases.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Not bad to start things off …
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
When Otto Octavius took over the body and life of Peter Parker, many derided his brusque nature, his brutal methods, his borderline megalomania. In “Inhumanity: Superior Spider-Man” #1, he proves to be the one thing he truly wants to be known as: a hero. Alongside a stubborn first responder, The Superior Spider-Man faces down a loose piece of Inhumans technology that could affect dozens of lives for the worse. This issue was very, very close to making the jump, a solid, in character story that simply was set in fairly commonplace (for the Marvel universe) surroundings. Good way to do a crossover, as this could have easily been a regular issue of the series.
“G.I. JOE Special Missions” #11 wasn’t bad, if a little dry and too close in tone to the series “The Activity,” with all its weaknesses like “too thin characterization” and “being part of a story without being a story.” Gulacy’s art style is perfect for this, if only it were paced better and let the characters be somebody.
If you liked “Thief of Thieves” but thought it’d be better with a slight supernatural twist, “Ghosted” #6 is just what you were looking for. With shades of Neal & Mozzie’s island escape and some of the same plot elements as Kirkman’s crime drama, this ain’t bad … just not really leaping off the page either.
“Transformers More Than Meets The Eye” #25 was best when it stuck to the entertaining crew of the Lost Light, a ship full of wackjob Transformers with ringtones and mysterious missions, this time re-enacting a Scooby Doo episode inside the maybe-corpse of legendary Autobot Metroplex. Arguing Primes in a lost universe, identity-challenged Dinobots running from zombie giant monsters … that all just kinds of runs in place. The Dark Cybertron crossover is doing this series no favors.
“Gravel Combat Magician” #0 is a fun, if disconnected, bit of assassination business as a powerful man with a security detail goes spelunking in Iceland, only to find out he has no friends in the dark. The people the title character slices through have virtually no personality, making their losses just show pieces, but Gravel’s simple determination has its charm. The added bonus of a guide to all previous stories is a nice bonus, though.
There are some interesting moments in “Uncanny X-Men” #16, where Magneto faces his frustrations with the current state of mutant affairs. He chats things up with “Agent Dazzler,” and finds some rather interesting things in Madripoor. Underneath it all is his rage — a character in and of itself — that shows through even when he gets one of the best offers he’s ever had. Too storied to be a hero, too beloved to be a villain, too lost to find another way, he’s a pinball bouncing from plot point to plot point inconsistently, and that core weakness dragged down this otherwise engaging issue.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
“Marvel Knights Hulk” #2, “Maxx Maxximized” #3, “Fantastic Four” #1, “Unity” #3, “Daredevil” #35, “Skyman” #1, “Cataclysm The Ultimates” #3, “Voice In The Dark” #3, “Amazing X-Men” #3, “G.I. JOE A Real American Hero” #198, “X” #9, “All-New X-Men” #21, “Worlds’ Finest” #19, “X-Files Conspiracy” #1, “Superman Wonder Woman” #4, “Ben 10” #3, “Superboy” #27, “3 Guns” #6, “Nightwing” #27, “S.H.O.O.T. First” #4, “Justice League Of America” #11, “Curse” #1, “Kiss Me Satan” #5, “Justice League 3000” #2, “Velvet” #3, “Imagine Agents” #4, “Mr Peabody And Sherman” #3, “Green Lantern Corps” #27, “Archer And Armstrong” #17, “Star Wars: Darth Vader And The Cry Of Shadows” #2, “Rat Queens” #4, “Illegitimates” #2, “Forever Evil Rogues Rebellion” #4, “Star Wars Dawn Of The Jedi Force War” #3, “Indestructible” #2, “DC Universe Vs The Masters Of The Universe” #4, “Alex + Ada” #3, “Uncanny X-Force” #16, “Triple Helix” #4, “Thunderbolts” #20.NOW, “Constantine” #10, “Secret Avengers” #14, “Protectors Inc” #3, “Revolutionary War Dark Angel” #1, “Harbinger” #20, “Nova” #12, “Batgirl” #27, “Night Of The Living Deadpool” #1,
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
“Thor God Of Thunder” #17 had an awful ending. A senseless, illogical, baffling ending that even many of the characters in the issue could not believe, despite accepting it. Sure, licensed characters, put toys back where you found them, whatever, but this literally went nowhere. When your whole plot depends on Thor being the smartest guy in the room, there’s trouble in the shining city. A sad, disappointing conclusion that dropped the ball completely.
“Black Dynamite” #1 feels like a bad cover band on stage at an Earth, Wind and Fire concert. This issue hits a lot of the notes, but it doesn’t feel the same. Writer Brian Ash mimics the animated series’ style without really exhibiting it, as was shown by the dry introduction of a historical figure. The tedious Bay City Jive was funkier than this, more fitting of the milieu, and it was bad. This? Only its subject matter saves it from “meh” territory and being wholly forgotten.
“Superior Spider-Man #25” brought back the most annoying part of the whole “Otto Parker” story in an issue mostly engaging the Avengers in wholly pointless fisticuffs. The conclusion is a MÃ¶bius loop, the characters are stiff and tedious and the plot went nowhere. What happened? Oh … right, gotta put the toys back in place before the movie. Oh, well.
“Grimm Fairy Tales Presents No Tomorrow” #5 had a simply terrible ending, a conclusion that makes Kirk & V’ger look like a Shakespearean twist. A battle that felt hollow, an adversary that was simply a cipher, this was not good at all.
“Wolverine MAX” #15 had a weird, emo ending and a pointless retcon to Logan’s already needlessly labyrinthine origin story. What happened in this Vegas interlude not only needed to stay in Vegas, it needed to stay on the shelves as well.
“Grimm Fairy Tales Presents The Dark Queen” #1 had an interesting underlying ideological concept — that our modern faithlessness has created an environment for the true evils of old to re-emerge — but had execution that wasn’t very solid. The titular villainess had some cute lines but carried herself with tedious, mustache-twirling tactics bordering on pathologically stupid. Good ideas that didn’t get out there and prove it.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Damn, five bad books? It was rough out there, this week …
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Despite the fairly merciful jump, five terrible comics make this week a bother to get through.
Are you familiar with Michael Avon Oeming? Eisner and Eagle award winning creator? Did you know he joined Nelson Blake 2 and the writer of this column to create Top Cow’s “Artifacts” #35? Did you know the writer of this column will be signing at Santa Monica’s Hi De Ho Comics on February 26 when this issue hits retail? Colors by Jason Lewis, letters by Troy Peteri, yeah, it’s kind of going down … have you asked your retailer to set aside 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!