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 21, 2016
Power Man And Iron Fist Sweet Christmas Annual #1 — (Marvel Comics)
This was corny. This saccharine story offers up one of the oldest enemies of X-mas (not the writer of this column) in a battle for the souls of children everywhere, like a page from the “Inferno” crossover. Yes, okay, the method of delivery for this scheme is super clever, and yes, the dialogue is engaging and there are some fun cameos and guest appearances. All right, yes, the dramatic arc of the danger increasing worked well and that last panel was just about perfect. Still. You’d have to be a real grinch to not let this sway your holiday spirit … and it even won over this jaded columnist. No lumps of coal for David Walker, Scott Hepburn, Matt Milla and Clayton Cowles.
Fix #7 — (Image Comics) — Jump from the Read Pile.
This issue is almost perfect. In its pages, it encapsulates everything you need to know about Mac, a corrupt police detective who’s kind of an all around jerk, but entertaining if you read about him and don’t actually have to deal with him or worry about real lives and crimes being threatened. This issue sets up its amazing conclusion with the precision of Russian figure skaters, perfectly establishing the crisis and resolving it ruthlessly. Extreme kudos not just to Nick Spencer’s spandex-tight script, but the patience and craft in the visual storytelling from Steve Lieber, Ryan Hill and Ironbark. Super engaging comics work that will appeal to fans of “Better Call Saul” or other guilty pleasures.
Occupy Avengers #2 — (Marvel Comics) — Jump from the Read Pile.
There are a lot of bad people in the world — our world or the world of Marvel super heroes — and most of them don’t even live in New York. The erstwhile Avenger Hawkeye is on a walkabout and stumbles on something fishy at a native reservation in New Mexico. Time-tossed adventurer Red Wolf (“Mind if I call you Wolf? ‘Red’ has a mildly racist ring to it”) has landed in New Mexico and comes across the same clues, leading him to find Hawkeye and — acting as the tyranny of evil men — the super villain Hydro Man. What comes next is a set of amazingly well-paced action sequences, rock solid dialogue that’d have Spider-Man taking notes quipping practice and a wholly organic team up with what looks like the destitute cousins of the Puma. Writer David Walker made a really, really clever and enjoyable script that Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, Sonia Oback and Travis Lanham took and knocked all of the way out of the park. Enjoyable, intriguing and one more issue like this will have this series as a “buy on sight” title.
Silver Surfer #8 — (Marvel Comics) — Jump from the Read Pile.
The best thing about this very subtle, very surprising issue is how fresh it is and how it speaks to a nearly universal connection we all have to hear stories. The Doc, er, Norrin Radd and his companion Dawn Greenwood get accidentally swallowed by a gigantic space whale and, normally, that would mean a lot of the zap zap with the power cosmic. Nuh uh. This issue takes a very different tactic and the solution comes from a very different source, which gives Dan Slott, Mike Allred, Laura Allred and Joe Sabino a chance to twist perceptions and, daresay, inspire. This done-in-one issue is a very welcome surprise.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Three jumps starts things off right. Looks like we all got off the “naughty” list so far …
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Captain America Sam Wilson” #16 is the best issue thus far in the series because it seems that it discovered the key to this book is to have as little Sam Wilson in it as possible. Misty Knight takes the shield (and a road trip) to solve a mystery, fitting in a great cameo, a clever mystery and a wholly relevant storyline for the modern day. Some good quotes, some good art, what’s the problem? Well, if they actually had the stones to give Misty her own book, doing this sort of stuff all the time, and even gave her the shield, this would be amazing. As a detour on the tragic road that is Sam Wilson’s superhero career, it’s a tease, and that’s just mean. An enjoyable tease, sure, but a tease nonetheless.
“Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor Year Two” #15 showcased the Time Lord at his timey-wimey-est in a plot that might need a flow chart to follow, menaced by the Daleks again with the fate of everything at play (again) while cleverly manipulating every string and every thread, Close to the mark and maybe a little too clever and twee for its own good.
“Batman” #13 was extremely close to making the jump, as it had everything you really needed to know in a single issue, had a narrative arc that was effective, and came to an interesting conclusion. The sole challenge that didn’t make this work was the facile conceit that the story’s twist relied upon, and that was a little too much to ask. Doggone close, though.
“Black Panther World Of Wakanda” #2 was a huge step forward in that it made its tortured love story the main focus and cast T’challa in the light of history, not of a protagonist. The gorgeous art and the super effective character work, however, could not escape the fact that this “Roshomon” take on fairly recent events in comics is odd. After “Secret Wars” the horrors of “AvX” and the “Infinity” crossover were left part of Wakandan history and not fixed with the Infinity Gauntlet? That seems … an odd choice. In any case, good work that’s saddled with some puzzling continuity.
“Spell On Wheels” #3 had some funny moments as a team of witches try to track down a stolen magical artifact, stumbling on a suburban drama that’d be Emmy worthy in prime time. The resolution is sweet and mature, but the characters are largely forgettable, and that downfall kept it from making it home. Something magical could be happening here, though.
“Justice League Vs Suicide Squad” #1 has some cute moments and lines, especially Deadshot and Superman, but on its face it seems like the Squad is barely qualified to watch this story, let alone participate in it, given their power levels. There is a panel showing Harley Quinn fighting Wonder Woman, which strains credulity beyond capacity (Harley and Deadshot after Batman and Diana taking on Enchantress with Superman on heat vision overwatch makes more sense). Gorgeously done, but too far a reach to suspend disbelief.
“Jem And The Misfits” #1 had some outstanding character development, going through the origin of the Misfits and how Pizzazz went from a nearly forgotten heiress to a world class rock star stereotype. The problem is that while it can connect, it can just as easily be forgotten as none of the individuals stray too far from their archetypes. The shy songwriter, the aggressive drummer, et cetera. The craft of the execution is top notch, but the elements of its conception aren’t very fresh.
“Klaus And The Witch Of Winter” #1 is sappy and sentimentally tugs at your heartstrings much like that “Sweet Christmas” book did, but it lacked the clarity of plotting and the development of the antagonist. Great quotes, stunning art and a nice ghost story for yuletide fans, but just shy of the mark.
“Cyborg” #7 was closer to the heights its stunning debut created, packing a lot of story into the space and allowing for some pretty clever twists. It was a bit too talky for its own good (monologuing, Variant? Really?), had a thin and fairly easily disposed antagonist (in a way that was a bit predictable) but had gorgeous artwork, great dialogue and wasn’t wholly out of the range of being bought. Let’s hope the series can better balance its needs for punching down (the fascism reference was over the top) and be as smart as its made its protagonist.
“Divinity III Stalinverse” #1 took a good hard alt-reality swing at a Soviet controlled planet, with an intriguing alternate history timeline and red-splattered looks at the key players in Valiant’s universe. However, with one of its two godlike characters planting Soviet flags around the galaxy and the other, well, not, it’s easy to see some of the strings to the ultimate plot, regardless of the harsh beauty of the artwork (Peter Stanchek crying was surprisingly effective). Not bad, but not connecting with that hard swing.
The titular character is a hoot like a Warren Ellis protagonist in “Mycroft Holmes And The Apocalypse Handbook” #4, but the plot elements are as predictable as he finds life itself.
“Ultimates 2” #2 is driving deep into the dark, making its way to new places … and that’s not always an easy trip. This wildly ambitious issue has a subplot that makes the ending and takes a turn for the wildly illogical, like a toddler taking down John Cena. The rest of the issue is a team trying to relearn trust, and that could use some punching up. Swinging hard, but not connecting.
“Joyride” #8 had a decent bit of character development as friends struggle with an impossible situation but the plot was facile and flat coloring made it all seem kind of de rigueur.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Punisher” #7, “Raven” #4, “Doctor Who The Ninth Doctor” #8, “Star Wars Doctor Aphra” #2, “Green Arrow” #13, “Invincible Iron Man” #2, “Animosity” #4, “Unbelievable Gwenpool” #9, “Justice League” #11, “Bloodshot U.S.A.” #3, “Star Trek Green Lantern Volume 2 Stranger Worlds” #1, “Venom” #2, “Masked” #2, “Lucifer” #13, “Star-Lord” #1, “Tank Girl Gold” #3, “Doctor Strange” #15, “Superman” #13, “Dead Inside” #1, “Horizon” #6, “Solo” #3, “X-Files X-Mas Special 2016” #1, “He-Man Thundercats” #3, “Peter David’s Artful” #1, “Cage” #3, “Night’s Dominion” #4, “Gamora” #1, “Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye” #3, “Mighty Captain Marvel” #0, “Samurai Brothers In Arms” #4, “Alters” #3, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 11” #2, “Spider-Gwen” #15, “Nightwing” #11, “World War X” #1, “Amazing Spider-Man” #22, “Harley Quinn” #10, “Locke And Key Small World” #1, “Aquaman” #13, “Thanos” #2, “Harbinger Renegade” #2, “Deadpool And The Mercs For Money” #6, “Suicide Squad Most Wanted El Diablo And Amanda Waller” #5, “Uncanny X-Men” #16, “Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor Year Two” #17, “Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat” #13, “Trinity” #4, “4 Kids Walk Into A Bank” #3, “Avengers” #2.1, “Green Lanterns” #13, “Squadron Supreme” #14,
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
Happy freaking Kwanzaa — nothing was that bad this week.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
It’s a Festivus miracle to not have anything too cheesy or uninspired come in this late in the year!
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Three jumps plus nothing that raised the ire makes a gift for comics lovers this week!
Forty four pages of original comics storytelling, free and online? The #wildfirewednesday web comics dropped the season finale this week, and if you wanna get ahead of the new season, you’ll need to be on the mailing list.
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, “Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook” #1 and “Aspen Universe Sourcebook,” 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!