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 OCTOBER 19, 2016
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #13 – (Marvel Comics)
Hilarious and brilliant again, the world faces a super villain that can’t be beaten with punching. Enigmo, a mysterious villain who turns into more, smaller versions of himself whenever you punch him and then keeps growing and becoming more of himself. You’re thinking he’s Jamie Madrox, but he’s much weirder and he drives Squirrel Girl (who has an unexpected team up with a nihilist brain in a jar with a robot body and Ant-Man) to do something unlike anything she’s ever done before and it’s all quirky and hilarious, like “New Girl,” but funnier. Amazing stuff from Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Anthony Clark, Hannah Blumenreich, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham.
Astro City #40 – (Vertigo/DC Comics)
A tax lawyer gets caught up in the biggest contract dispute in the universe. This fairly simple premise evolves into a simply elegant story with the skilled hands of Kurt Busiek, Carmen Carnero, John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt. The lead character Marta, who can also summon the ghost of her mother with a stray thought, is more comfortable with the supernatural goings on of her Shadow Hill neighborhood even when one resident might have more business than she can handle. Cleverly written, effectively depicted and wholly entertaining, this brings a new meaning to the colloquialism “lawyered” and has as a bonus a wonderful look at the series’ continuity via a fan letter that throws light on the larger story being told.
Spider-Woman #12 – (Marvel Comics) – Jump from the Read Pile.
There’s a fantastic moment at the end of this issue where a guy who’s had a lot of bad breaks catches a good one, and it’s simply amazing to see. Between the patient pacing of Tigh Walker (with Rachelle Rosenberg and Travis Lanham) and the script from Dennis Hopeless, it was well deserved, and the issue built it up with great delicacy, allowing the titular character to manipulate events from the shadows in a way that was elegant and wonderful. Very enjoyable work all around.
Night’s Dominion #2 – (Oni Press) – Jump from the Read Pile.
One of the best sword and sorcery tales on the market this year, Ted Naifeh (with letters by Aditya Bidikar) delivers a perfect yarn that delivers on the plot side while never easing up on characterization. A motley crew of adventurers seek a hidden trove of treasure, showcasing their rationales and personalities as they go. There are some riveting action sequences, quiet moments of intensity and barely a panel that doesn’t grab you by the mithril chainmail without letting go. Super engaging work here.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Complex, enjoyable, re-readable stuff to start!
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Cyborg” #3 had some effective scenes but spent much of its time in what amounts to a holodeck episode as Victor Stone struggles with knowledge he discovered two issues ago and has largely kept to himself. Don’t be fooled, there are no actual guest appearances in this issue and the antagonist remains vague. The best scenes, again, are with the titular character and the female scientist/potential love interest at STAR Labs, but they don’t get time to cover any new ground. Not bad, but it lost a step.
“Black Widow” #7 did an okay job establishing the threat that’s been hounding her for months … now that she has essentially defeated him, leaving him a tool in her work. Solid craft in the storytelling, but a fairly forgettable story.
“Faith” #4 had a number of cute, chuckle-worthy things going on but had a thinly defined antagonist and an even leaner MacGuffin, so only she and her unflappable boyfriend held the book together with their personalities. Not bad, but not enough.
“Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: The Salmon of Doubt” #1 was fantastically well done in terms of characterization but meandered dangerously in terms of plot. The nods towards the pending television show were interesting as well.
To save the broken heroine Gotham Girl, “Batman” #9 has the title character following orders from Amanda Waller and assembling a “Suicide Squad” of his own to chase down the international super villain and “bodybuilding gone wrong” spokesmodel Bane. There’s a simply fantastic moment with Commissioner Gordon, the Bat gets in a killer quote, and the art is gorgeous … but it’s a set up montage, not a story.
“Star Trek Boldly Go” #1 warms up an early introduction to a modern franchise favorite as the crew is scattered across various worlds and starships after the events of the last movie. This issue has some of the spirit of that thrilling cinematic adventure but doesn’t go far enough, ironically, in this issue to make the purchase price seem … logical.
“Captain America Sam Wilson” #14 has at its core a tragedy of Shakespearean magnitude as the biggest threat to Sam Wilson is his “friend,” the Cosmic Cube-altered other Captain America, Steve Rogers. With the crafty use of a false flag, Captain Samerica (appelation courtesy of Evan Narcisse) is again made to look terrible at his job and undermined at every step, all without the slightest inkling of the true threat against him. The true story beneath all the bluster and punching is more interesting, but it barely gets its due.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Deadpool Back In Black” #2, “Harley Quinn” #6, “Love And Rockets Monthly” #1, “Mockingbird” #8, “Doctor Who The Third Doctor” #2, “Beauty” #11, “Amazing Spider-Man” #20, “Suicide Squad Most Wanted El Diablo And Killer Croc” #3, “Jem And The Holograms” #20, “Uncanny Inhumans” #14, “Hadrian’s Wall” #2, “Spell On Wheels” #1, “Mighty Thor” #12, “Superman” #9, “Horizon” #4, “Joyride” #6, “Mechanism” #4, “Tomb Raider II” #9, “Wacky Raceland” #5, “Rumble” #15, “Dark Knight III The Master Race” #6, “Blue Hour” #2, “Civil War II Kingpin” #4, “Justice League” #7, “Snowfall” #6, “All-New X-Men” #14, “Weird Detective” #5, “Symmetry” #8, “Aquaman” #9, “Spider-Gwen” #13, “Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor Year Two” #10, “Lucifer” #11, “Herobear And The Kid 2016 Fall Special” #1, “Green Arrow” #9, “Throwaways” #4, “Death Of X” #2, “Pathfinder Worldscape” #1, “Torchwood” #2, “Astonishing Ant-Man” #13, “Jeff Steinberg Champion Of Earth” #3, “Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat” #11, “Trinity” #2, “Black Hammer” #4, “Assassin’s Creed Last Descendants Locus” #2, “Doctor Strange” #13, “Raven” #2, “KISS” #1, “Dishonored” #4, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Pink” #4, “Black Panther” #7, “Green Lanterns” #9, “Doctor Who Supremacy Of The Cybermen” #4, “Silk” #13, “Battlestar Galactica Volume 3” #3, “Infamous Iron Man” #1, “Samurai Brothers In Arms” #2, “Nightwing” #7, “A-Force” #10.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
… what’s that? Nothing was that bad? Nice!
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
None too shabby!
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Two jumps, no whammies … that’s a win, no matter how you slice it!
The weekly web comic from this columnist and Quinn McGowan is 35 pages deep now! Closing in on the end game!
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!
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