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 SEPTEMBER 14, 2016
(Marvel Comics) — Jump from the Read Pile.
The interlude on a cruise ship intensifies as Bobbi Morse pounds chardonnays (if you’re ever on a cruise, spring for the premium Internet and the limitless drinks, totally worth it) and rolls her eyes at Hunter (“Am I attracted to emotional idiots, or do I just draw them?”) while trying to figure out who killed her mysterious informant in an odd locked door mystery. There are a score of fascinating moments here (drink recipes, the book’s artist depicted with a “Dungeons and Dragons” profile, explanations of how knots are tied, et cetera) and a whimsy in Chelsea Cain’s script that’s undeniably entertaining. The crisp, clean artwork from Kate Niemczyk, Sean Parsons, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joe Caramagna takes this possibly claustrophobic experience and makes it fascinating. As well, if you’ve ever been on a cruise ship, you’ll find the depictions of its environs spot on. Fun stuff with a very creepy, clever ending.
The Fix #5
(Image Comics) — Jump from the Read Pile.
When you’re a bad cop in a literal sea of bad cops, part of a wildly corrupt and borderline incompetent power structure, things can get crazy pretty quickly. In this very funny issue by co-creators Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber, that situation is transposed on Los Angeles with a halfwit mayor, an exasperated yet corrupt internal affairs detective and a homicide detective who is significantly less prepared than he thinks. Lots of laughs, solid character development (the mayor was pitch perfect) and a plot that kept moving at an engaging pace. Great stuff.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Leading off with two jumps is a good sign …
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Deathstroke” #2 was very close to making it home, revealing secrets about Slade Wilson’s past (why does he wear that suit? What’s the deal with his kids?) while doing some high grade property destruction and engaging in bon mots left and right. Had its plot had a smidgen more snap to it, this one would have made the jump.
“Black Monday Murders” #2 is dense, intriguing and steeped in the secrets many of us stand afraid to uncover. It is also beautiful, in a nostalgic, monochrome fashion that brilliantly evokes earlier eras. It is, despite its advanced page count, slow and perhaps overly labyrinthine in unveiling its mysteries and that is its sole downfall. If you’re waiting for trades, this one will likely be a doozy.
“Spider-Man” #8 has two separate and unrelated scenes that are pretty doggone entertaining for all their awkwardness. This issue, however, does not tell a story and instead takes disparate moments out of a very messed up day, staples them together and sends it out with a cover. A slice above “meh,” but not a big slice.
If the titular character had as much panel time as his much more lauded brother enjoys in most adaptations, “Mycroft Holmes And The Apocalypse Handbook” #2 could have been a winner as the younger version of the storied character fights science fiction menaces, solves mysteries, risks hanging and makes out with a beautiful woman all in a quest to alleviate his extraordinary boredom. Charismatic and fun, it had only some tedious digressions in another locale to slow down the actual plot and explain what’s happening. Not bad.
“Six Million Dollar Man Fall Of Man” #3 has about a quarter-cup of story (chase the McGuffin, save people) in its entire collection of pages, but with a sort of “Pitfall” inspired artistic approach, its series of fight scenes and recriminations aboard a cold war era train is fascinating and intense to follow. Truly inspired visual storytelling in search of more story. Not bad, but not great.
“Suicide Squad” #2 has some entertaining elements (mostly from Harley Quinn, but a couple from Captain Boomerang and from Killer Croc) that will seem familiar to fans of the movie. The mysterious new party peppering Waller with questions and the by-now cliched “bad intel before the mission” shtick playing out again sapped this of its creativity, but there are fun things in these pages.
“Doctor Who Supremacy Of The Cybermen” #3 had some workable moments as the Cybermen attacked Doctors throughout history, not just the four we are currently following, all with the help of the turncoat Time Lord Rassilon. The winning elements of each Doctor stayed on the shelf as the plot ground out companions and the innocent alike. Not bad, but not enough on its own.
If you look up “that escalated quickly” you’ll likely find “Birthright” #19 listed as an example as old pacts and desires come back to haunt a quintet of mages. The character work here is a little thin but the art is amazing and the tension is intense.
“All-New X-Men” #13 was very close to making the jump as an awkward 1960s Bobby Drake tries to learn what being gay means in the 21st century. There are no fewer than three solid laughs here as a new character called Romeo (“I normally tell people it’s just a name and not to read too much into it…”) gives Bobby a night out that he won’t soon forget. The guest appearances seemed a little forced and the action scene was actually kind of dumb, but the character work and art here were top notch.
“All-Star Batman” #2 had tons of thrill but less meat in its story as Batman continues to take Harvey Dent on a 400 mile trip towards a cure, while a bounty has been put on the Bat’s head so extreme that it makes the Bachmann book “Running Man” look like a trifle, and everybody wants a piece. Great action sequences, the Bat manages some banter, but the deeply psychological underpinnings of the last issue have been left by the side of the road in favor of spectacle. Not bad, but not as good.
“Faith” #3 was so crazy close to making the jump due to focusing on character, something many books from Valiant skim over. Logline: uber fan Faith and her boyfriend superlearner and martial artist Archer go to a comics convention. That’s almost everything you need, but when they need to get heroic, the plot skims on the antagonist while being very respectful and loving towards the fans and creators themselves. If this had maybe four more pages, it could have resolved more effectively as a single issue and made its way home.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Samurai Brothers In Arms” #1, “Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps” #4, “Merry Men” #3, “Detective Comics” #940, “All-New Inhumans” #11, “Hot Damn” #5, “Wonder Woman” #6, “Kaijumax Season 2” #4, “Uncanny Inhumans” #13, “Flash” #6, “Black Science” #24, “Scooby Apocalypse” #5, “Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior” #11, “Resident Alien The Man With No Name” #1, “Teen Titans” #24, “Civil War II Gods Of War” #4, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Pink” #3, “Hadrian’s Wall” #, “Astro City” #38, “Lumberjanes Gotham Academy” #4, “Charmed Season 10” #20, “Rocket Raccoon And Groot” #9, “New Super-Man” #3, “Deadpool” #18, “Grimm Volume 2” #1, “Doom Patrol” #1, “A-Force” #9, “Gotham Academy Second Semester” #1, “Civil War II Amazing Spider-Man” #4, “Throwaways” #3, “Superwoman” #2, “Old Man Logan” #11, “Doctor Who The Third Doctor” #1, “Adventures Of Miru” #2, “Control” #4,”Letter 44″ #27, “Spider-Man 2099” #15, “Lady Killer 2” #2, “Letter 44” #27, “Green Lanterns” #6, “Battlestar Galactica Volume 3” #2, “Symmetry” #7, “Marvel Universe Guardians Of The Galaxy” #12, “Red Hood And The Outlaws” #2, “Dark Souls Legends Of The Flame” #1, “Scarlet Witch” #10, “Jeff Steinberg Champion Of Earth” #2, “Earth 2 Society” #16, “Animosity” #2, “Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor Year Two” #14, “Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey” #2, “Uncanny Avengers”.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
“Gwenpool” #6 follows the “unbelievably bad at their job” trend as she reveals plot details from an Ultimate Universe storyline to juvenile Spider-Man Miles Morales. Wildly metatextual (in a bad way), this well drawn and wonderfully colored comic is abysmal in both conception and execution of its script, all while making light of some very serious issues.
In “Action Comics” #963, there’s a wholly human male named Clark Kent who believes he grew up in Kansas and has no super powers. This is … weird, since Lois Lane wrote a story in the Daily Planet fairly recently proving, unequivocally, that Superman is Clark Kent. That Superman is dead, a Superman from a dead universe now wears the uniform and this guy … well, there’s no real indication of who this guy is. Superman’s arch enemy Lex Luthor is the owner of his place of business. Everybody is side eyeing him. He’s focused on a story involving a mysterious and murderous genetic testing company. Is any of this entertaining? Not really. Interesting? No. Muddled and messy? Oh, certainly. A foundation of sand holding a house of cards in a Chicago windstorm, this is not what you want.
If “Black Panther” #6 were about a brand new concept, with new characters no one had ever seen, it would merely be a comic with a meandering, slightly muddled plot with good art. However, as it’s meant to be Wakanda, which now has a big screen presence and a history to accept, it’s ridiculous. Slavery in ancient Wakanda (either allegorical, which is antithetical to the national character, or factual, which retcons the history into something significantly less than the creation of Stan and Jack), Nazi scions and corporate raiders, a fight scene between the king’s two sets of most loyal servants … this is a mess. A scary, horrible mess in that it also tries to set up a new spin off (that, in retrospect, makes little sense given the characters involved). This is awful, compounded by its apparently high sales and wide acceptance. Perhaps, then, this is the Wakanda we deserve.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Ooh … three bad books? Been a while since we’ve seen that many …
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Even the great accomplishment of two books that won on sheer merit can’t beat three that stunk up the place. This week goes takes the “L.”
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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