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 NOVEMBER 16, 2016
Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 – (Marvel Comics) – Jump from the Read Pile.
Every once in a while, a reminder is helpful so people don’t underestimate you. The probability-based mutant Domino borrowed a quarter-million bucks worth of weaponry from billionaire party boy turned brainy heroic mastermind Bobby DaCosta, and he has a way she can work off the debt. This leads to a clever and action-packed first person shooter session to address anti-mutant militiamen in a foreign country with a sneaky and savvy dash of character development (and one difficult to explain use of Domino’s power). Cullen Bunn’s script is engaging, and the artwork of Ken Lashley (with Nolan Woodard and Joe Caramagna) is engrossing and superlative. A little “Arrow” Season 1 in tone, but doggone entertaining.
Comic Book History Of Comics #1 – (IDW Publishing) – Jump from the Read Pile.
An educational reference that could easily stand beside Scott McCloud’s work, this takes an historical look at how sequential art got its start, following it through the rise of Walt Disney and so on. Sure, it glosses over some of the … messier arenas of U.S. history that happened to and around these creators, but this is fantastic work by Fred van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey and Adam Guzowski that you’ll be using to settle arguments for years to come.
Black Hammer #5 – (Dark Horse Comics) – Jump from the Read Pile.
This fascinating issue examined one of its stranded superheroes and explained the almost Doctor Manhattan-esque futility of his existence and why he ultimately went crazy. Colonel Weird is a kind of ersatz Adam Strange, partially tied to a buffer dimension that both offers him some measure of freedom while torturing him with all the things he can’t do. Writer Jeff Lemire encapsulated everything you need to know about the series in these pages and the quiet desperation of people of power stuck without recourse resonates in the artwork of Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart and Todd Klein.
Grand Passion #1 – (Dynamite Entertainment) – Jump from the Read Pile.
This pleasant surprise is one part love story, one part heist comic, one part police procedural and every part engaging. A widower cop transfers to a provincial town and is trying to settle in where everybody knows everybody else when a skilled duo of bank robbers rolls into town and much gunfire-scented wackiness occurs. Writer James Robinson delivers in terms of character and plot while the visuals from Tom Feister, David Curiel and Simon Bowland connect with clarity and style, especially one crucial moment where they had to stick the landing and nailed it. This is a fun crime story that does everything right.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #14 – (Marvel Comics)
There is so, so much to love about this issue. A completely ridiculous but actually pretty tough to beat super villain has the world on the ropes. The titular heroine has only Ant-Man, the simply fantastic Brain Drain, her mom and her roommate, and things start out pretty badly. Using wonderful scientific principles, the healing power of geekdom and poking fun at Canada (which is likely an elaborate tax dodge created by the Koch brothers using time travel) this issue rocks every possible point of plotting, pacing and characterization all while being super fun. Ryan North has written another love letter to comics fans and it was brought to affectionate life by Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, Travis Lanham and Clayton Cowles.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Sweet spirit singing, four jumps? That’s amazing! Go comics!
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Ether” #1 was an interesting start as a “magical” incursion opened up a way for a scientist named Boone Dias to travel to a world of spells and mystery. He becomes a minor celebrity, using science to solve mysteries that stymie the locals. The plot was a little too brief for its own good but showed some promise.
“Cyborg” #5 had a simply rewarding subplot about the title character connecting with his community in a way the character never has, with detail and resonance that leapt off the page. It was almost enough to overpower the less successful “A” plot which had the still unnamed antagonist manipulating events to recreate the making of the modern Vic Stone. Not bad, but about a half step behind in pacing or missing maybe two pages.
Just when “Infamous Iron Man” #2 was about to be a story, it stopped suddenly. That’s a shame, because Doctor Doom trying to be a hero does have its amusements, but it rushes through them. The page count is not forgiving, as this needs much more room to breathe and get into the newly “good” doctor.
“G.I. JOE Revolution” #1 had a simply riveting last page that makes things very interesting for the elite counterterrorist team. The book also showed great esprit de corps and revealed more about how the government has been infiltrated by Dire Wraiths, but the action was simple and the plot took a little too long to get to the punch. This direction, however, is one that’s interesting to follow.
That Michael Avon Oeming makes some dynamic freaking imagery, but “Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye” #2 left a lot unanswered and the reader needs more engagement than this kind of characterization.
“Horizon” #5 kicked it up a notch with some very tense interrogation scenes and and an extended action sequence that dazzled. The characterization is still a bit thin and maybe another two pages could have fleshed things out more effectively but this series will likely benefit greatly from both the collected edition and the sourcebook proposed in the back matter.
“Captain America Sam Wilson” #15 may not have healed all ties with the power of wrestling, or in fact have its protagonist do anything at all to affect the outcome of this self contained story, but it had some fun moments and solid art. For this title, that’s a huge improvement.
Heck of an action sequence in “Invincible” #131, but unless you’ve been invested in these characters, this would not connect with you as a reader.
“Archie” #14 had a few solid laughs (Veronica has a soul! Jughead on a date!) but doesn’t conclude any of its plots, leaving a vague, dissatisfying sense at the end if the issue.
“Squadron Supreme” #13 was a whiny, navel gazing retcon that worked to put the pieces back where the merchandising and licensing people want them and tried to develop character as it went but ultimately just made everyone look bad. Bah.
“Lucifer” #12 had flashes of the brilliance of the series and hints of the glory Mike Carey showed in a previous volume, but there were some points where the plot dragged and the charm of the protagonist wasn’t enough to make up for the plainness of the antagonist.
“Jackpot” #4 has some really interesting elements, mixing the basics of a con with metaphysical mystery and hypotheses. The art engaged and the action was brisk, but it was tough to get a hold of the characters, many of whom were very briefly fleshed out.
“Batman” #11 had some fantastic chemistry between the Bat and the Cat, with a side of scorpion and frog, and great artwork (special props to colorist XXX for making the shades distinctive) but needed a little more plot to make the issue resonate.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Trinity” #3, “Jessica Jones” #2, “Harbinger Renegade” #1, “Green Lanterns” #11, “Mechanism” #5, “Old Man Logan” #13, “Doctor Who Supremacy Of The Cybermen” #5, “Spell On Wheels” #2, “Kill Or Be Killed” #4, “Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat” #12, “Suicide Squad” #6, “Battlestar Galactica Volume 3” #4, “Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Robyn Hood I Love NY” #6, “Hunt” #4, “Superman” #11, “Joyride” #7, “Deadpool” #22, “Assassin’s Creed Templars” #7, “Hadrian’s Wall” #3, “KISS” #2, “Star Trek Waypoint” #2, “Aliens Life And Death” #3, “Micronauts” #7, “Silk” #14, “Raven” #3, “Pathfinder Worldscape” #2, “Aquaman” #11, “Insufferable Home Field Advantage” #2, “Justice League” #9, “Spider-Man” #9, “Kaijumax Season 2” #6, “Assassin’s Creed Locus” #3, “Slam” #1, “Electric Sublime” #2, “Angel City” #2, “Lady Killer 2” #3, “Thanos” #1, “Spawn” #267, “He-Man Thundercats” #2, “Britannia” #3, “Snowfall” #7, “Doctor Strange” #14, “Green Arrow” #11, “Atomic Robo And The Temple Of Od” #4, “Samurai Brothers In Arms” #3, “Black Panther” #8, “Reborn” #2, “Uncanny Inhumans” #15, “Suicide Squad Most Wanted El Diablo And Killer Croc” #4, “Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor Year Two” #11, “Amazing Spider-Man” #21, “Nightwing” #9, “All-New Wolverine” #14.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
Holy crap, nothing was awful? That’s excellent to see! Go comics!
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Even in the mentions, you can tell people are stepping their game up and trying harder. That’s great to see.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
This week, counting four books making it home on sheer merit and zero truly bad comics, is not only listed as a “win” but angles for “epic.” Great hustle out there, everybody!
Fair warning, there will be no Buy Pile column next week. Yes, there have only been two or so other weeks off since 2003 — a honeymoon and an odd sick day. The writer will take an extremely rare vacation with his family. You’ll live.
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!