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 MARCH 1, 2017
America #1 (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. Let’s clear up a few things first: this issue has a very weak plot. That’s true. It dances between vignettes instead of following a narrative thread and that’s a detriment. It also doesn’t matter. From the fantastic new college the titular character now attends, to the intense character work (the girlfriend scene, the Kate Bishop scene, pushing the button), there are so many fascinating, fun and fresh ideas in this book that they’d have Jonathan Hickman, Al Ewing, Grant Morrison and Dwayne McDuffie standing up to slow clap appreciatively. Writer Gabby Rivera is bursting at the seams with fantastic concepts and impossibilities for America to wade through (the cell phone bit was so good), while the visuals from Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera, Paolo Rivera, Jose Villarubia and Travis Lanham were like an Andy Warhol superhero epic. If this issue is this good before they find their footing, there’s no telling how far we can go. Let’s find out.
Faith #9 (Valiant Entertainment)
Jump from the Read Pile. When you’ve got a secret identity, keeping it from becoming public record can be pretty hard. It can be a little easier if you’ve got a team at your side, and this adorable done-in-one issue plays around with Faith’s gang of Scoobies (complete with some Whedon references) as she goes about an average day of working at a website and saving the citizens of Los Angeles from foolishness. Each one, of course, has bigger ambitions for their relationship with Faith (great character work there) and there are no fewer than four solid chuckles in these pages. Great work from Jody Houser, Kate Niemczyk, Marguerite Sauvage and Dave Sharpe.
Unstoppable Wasp #3 (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. In much the same vein as “America,” a plucky and self-reliant young woman takes on the world with a huge number of awesome and/or amusing things happening. On entertainment value alone, as with “America,” this is worth your money as two of Nadia Pym’s female genius recruits give her a hard time, her best friend tries to kill her and a red tyrannosaurus battles a Pym-particle enhanced raccoon on New York’s Lower East Side. Jeremy Whitley writes the most fun Nadia Pym ever and the art from Elsa Charretier, Megan Wilson and Joe Caramagna entrances. On the other hand, the best friend subplot is super inconclusive and the issue ending seems ill-considered on a number of levels. Overall, this book isn’t perfect, but its benefits significantly outweigh its deficits. Provisionally, as this is the third issue in a row to make it home, it will be considered a “buy on sight” title, but the fourth installment really has to bring the heat to cement this status.
Totally Awesome Hulk #1.MU (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. This issue has two major accomplishments rarely seen in this column. First, it takes the all just a dream kind of holodeck episode gag and makes it really relevant to the story while doubling down on the second accomplishment: cutting out 80 percent of the dudebro attitude from Amadeus Cho and bringing back the innate brilliance that made his series with Hercules so effective. The Bryan Edward Hill script makes use of every advantage there is with the titular character and the visuals from Ricardo Lopes Ortiz, Rico Renzi and Cory Petit are thrilling and enjoyable. All of that is super entertaining as it frames the current throwaway Marvel crossover in an almost positive light, especially with a backup about Amadeus’ equally brilliant sister Maddy by Leah Williams, Jahnoy Lindsay, Esther Sanz and (again) Petit. This is a very pleasant surprise.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Even with some bumps in the road, this is a very rereadable set of books.
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Cosmic Scoundrels” #1 was very close to making the mark with two rakish rogues stealing and flittering around the galaxy as hoods for hire. The murder they perform is played for laughs, the book uses those bottom of the page funny notes like “Mad Magazine” and Ryan North do, and if we had any real development of characters (antagonists or protagonists) this could have made its way home.
“Green Arrow” #18 was a big surprise, reinforcing the Native American connection for Roy Harper (Dances with Billionaires, maybe?), borrowing a page from the Dakota Access Pipeline issue, rebooting the Roy/Ollie relationship along the way. This is a huge improvement over previous issues, especially with the last page, but supporting characters were too much like bystanders. Let’s see if this can keep up the improvements.
“Star Wars” #29 had some fascinating concepts at play but its execution was a little glacial (no pun intended) as it looked at a mysterious planet strong with the Force off the beaten galactic paths. Not bad, but not great, and perhaps stronger collected than in the periodical format.
“Extremity” #1 was ambitious and bold, a tale of airborne tribal warfare with science fiction trimmings, centering around a family united in trradition and loss. The facial depictions on the reluctant prince were especially effective, and the embittered princess was great too. Unfortunately, the “why?” remained elusive, lowering the stakes and virtually no other characters stood up and distinguished themselves.
“Think Tank Volume 5” #1 — as always — had mind bending science and razor sharp plotting. Unfortunately its arguable antagonist and the series lead played their cards so close to the vest that it was as hard for the reader to have transparency into their motivations as the other characters. That made it hard to engage, but man, does this book give you things to think about.
“Doctor Strange” #18 had possibly the most amazing guest starring appearance from Thor ever, revealing a never-before-seen superpower that levels that character up a lot. The doctor himself didn’t. ome out looking so great, mostly standing around and getting beaten up, but that Thor really made a show of things.
“Brigands” #5 had a good middle with a slow start and a meandering end. The artwork made it easy to get lost in who was whom and outside of the main “war party,” characters tended to mesh together. Not bad, but not ready for prime time.
“Rat Queens” #1 has some very funny moments, great art and some character development that works. The plot doesn’t get started until way too late, which leaves the issue feeling super unbalanced, but it’s not bad.
“Batman” #18 had a great twist ending but otherwise was sound and fury signifying nothing, focused on the sizzle while the steak cooled.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Judge Dredd Annual” #1, “Goldie Vance” #10, “Fall And Rise Of Captain Atom” #3, “M.A.S.K. Mobile Armored Strike Kommand” #3, “Clone Conspiracy Omega” #1, “AmeriKarate” #1, “Aquaman” #18, “Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor Year Three” #3, “Savage Things” #1, “Everafter From The Pages Of Fables” #7, “Deadpool” #28, “Savage Dragon” #221, “Nightwing” #16, “Spider-Man 2099” #21, “X-Files Deviations 2017” #1, “Midnighter And Apollo” #6, “Jungle Fantasy Ivory” #7, “Avengers” #5, “Kingsway West” #4, “Superman” #18, “Hard Case Crime The Assignment” #3, “Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Red Agent Human Order” #4, “Death Of Hawkman” #6, “Flash Gordon Kings Cross” #5, “Monsters Unleashed” #4, “Justice League” #16, “Big Trouble In Little China Escape From New York” #6, “Champions” #6, “Stuff Of Legend Volume 5 A Call To Arms” #1, “Cyborg” #10, “James Bond Black Box” #1, “Moon Knight” #12, “Shade The Changing Girl” #6, “Hawkeye” #4, “Once And Future Queen” #1 “Green Lanterns” #18, “Bullseye” #2, “Harley Quinn” #15, “Doctor Who The Ninth Doctor” #10.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
It’s alarming how bad “Flintstones” #9 is, a treacly attempt at moralizing that has as its central narrative thrust the heroism of an appliance. Moping is a default setting for most of this issue’s characters and the lesson (such as it is) is ham-fisted and doesn’t connect. Truly abysmal work.
“Slapstick” #4 is derivative and nonsensical, too meta for its own good and surreal without purpose.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Things went well enough to forgive small failings.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Four jumps easily surpass two bad books with so many ambitious reads in supporting roles.
If you were checking the high octane web comic “Menthu: The Anger of Angels,” the new project from the Operative Network is “Project Wildfire: Street Justice” — giant monsters, paparazzi, corruption and fast food in southern streets. Yeah, it’s like that, two weekly web comics throughout 2017.
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 “Project Wildfire: Enter Project Torrent” (a collected superhero web comic), “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!