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 APRIL 19, 2017
Secret Empire #0 (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. Imagine, if you will, that Bill Cosby planned everything he did wrong, every deprivation and abuse of power, every beloved anecdote and episode, all in service to a larger stratagem, all for a singular goal to change literally everything you know. That’s the closest equivalent there could be to this, seeing what happened when Steve Rogers was rewritten from ground up without removing the key elements of who he is. Even Batman would be shaking in his boots, as this now makes Captain America the new king of the “prep time” debate.
Between the great dialogue (which is very entertaining and does the heavy lifting on making characters out of this huge crowd), the effective visual storytelling (the quick cuts work, establishing the urgency and, in Steve’s place, the patience) and the virtually flawless plot, this is what a crossover should be. Some might say, “But Captain freaking America is a Nazi!” The fact that the most cherished, the most trusted can in fact be the worst and most effective of villains is a philosophical struggle that exists in the zeitgeist of the nation. In that way, this book could not be more timely, more effective as it shows how stupid we are to put that much trust in anyone. That’s especially true in raising questions as to how can anyone ever trust a “hero” again, undercutting the entire basis of the bulk of the industry. Thank Mr. West for that wisdom: no one man should have all that power. In a word, wow. Scarily wonderful work by Nick Spencer, Daniel Acuna, Rod Reis and Travis Lanham.
Deathstroke #17 (DC Comics)
This character study is deep, but never pulls its punches on the action scenes as the newest Power Girl discovers who is staying in her guest room and learns some unpleasant lessons along the way. Floating around in the periphery, everyone in the life of the titular character struggles to stay afloat in the aftershocks of his actions. Christopher Priest continues this unflinching look into misanthropy and mayhem, while the visual team of Joe Bennett, Norm Rapmund, Jeromy Cox and Willie Schubert deliver each dose of tension or action with deft skill (especially that gorgeous last page, whoo).
God Country #4 (Image Comics)
This issue runs through an emotional gamut of terror, loss, inspiration and fascination. The son of an interstellar god stole a little girl as leverage, and a grandfather is taking his magic sword to get her back. That’s the basis, but from there the elegant, heartbreaking script by Donny Cates takes you so many places, guided with great skill by the art team of Geoff Shaw, Jason Wordie and John J. Hill. To say much more would be to spoil things, but take particular note of the almost Raymond Reddington-esque monologues by a god of death. Wonderful.
Black Panther World Of Wakanda #6 (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. This was a solid means to bring Kevin “Kasper” Cole back into the limelight with a great sense of atmosphere and energy. A thief selling raw vibranium in New York has T’challa’s attention. Luckily, he had an asset sitting in New York in desperate need of many things (“I need a super hero makeover immediately”). From guest appearances to continuity tie ins, writer Rembert Browne turned in an engaging script that built on character and rocketed forward with plotting. The sure hand of Joe Bennett — no stranger to Kasper — surely helped with extra visuals from Robert Poggi, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joe Sabino. This is a very pleasant surprise.
Odyssey Of The Amazons #4 (DC Comics)
Like the second issue, this installment wasn’t as strong as the first, as the Amazons get stuck in Valhalla and learn some things about themselves. It’s informative, sure, but so’s Wikipedia, and the larger overarching plot loses some momentum in the process. Writer Kevin Grevioux still makes good character moments, resolving an internecine conflict with gorgeous dialogue and the art from Ryan Benjamin, Don Ho, Tony Washington and Saida Temofonte make the action scenes sing. This issue is good, but two previous issues have been great, so here’s hoping the last two installments stand up.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Sweet spirit singing, people came to play this week! Impressive!
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
From a pure execution and craft standpoint, “Batman” #21 is amazing. Wielding the nine panel grid like a samurai’s sword, this issue mixes dimensions and again shows how dangerous the title character can be. Likewise, it pulls strings that have been lingering for years into a story that looks well planned. If you’re a fan who finds no problem with a blood stained smiley face button in Batman’s hand, this could be the best thing you read this week (unless you already read the stuff listed above as purchases).
“G.I. JOE” #4 had some thrilling action sequences and a real sense of tension as a chase scene escalates. However, where it excelled in thrills, it fell short in clarity as the mix of multiple properties leaves the threat less than crystal clear here. Fun stuff, surely a hoot for die hard fans willing to play along, but it needs perhaps more captioning to explain the details of what’s happening here.
“Nick Fury” #1 is a symphony of spectacle, a Michael Bay-flavored sizzle reel of super spy tropes and scantily developed characters dancing for motives they assume you know. Too dazzling to dis, too empty to embrace, this issue gets your attention but shouldn’t get your dollars.
“All-Star Batman” #9 was a masterpiece of monologues, a tone poem of characterization that spins and dances with grace and deftness. The artwork is not as effective as the writing, a supporting character comes and goes with some confusion, but it’s quite a ride getting there.
“Curse Words” #4 had a brilliant riff on the nature of magic and its connection to belief which ran the central riff here, but the ending was super predictable. Still interesting but lost its momentum near the end.
“Star Wars Poe Dameron” #13 had a few mildly entertaining dialogue snippets but ultimately had forgettable stakes. You should remember the glee of Mister Bones, though, he’s great.
“M.A.S.K. Mobile Armored Strike Kommand” #5 had some great action scenes, a wonderful bit of turnabout on a character and a decent tie in ti continuity. What it lacked was effective character moments (got lost in tech) and plotting beyond “fight” (not counting the denouement).
“Sex Criminals” #18 is like a top of the line Tesla being driven by someone in a blindfold. It’s gorgeous, and some of the characters can be intriguing but the plot’s a mess.
If you had any questions about loose ends from “Secret Empire,” “Captain America Steve Rogers” #16 settles them like a super helpful wiki entry. It’s not bad, and even as a Nazi (sorry, Jemma said you were all Nazis, Hydra), the titular character gives one heck of an inspirational speech. You won’t miss much if you just skip to “Secret Empire,” which recaps the only crucial plot points here in a panel or two.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Ninjak” #26, “Doctor Strange” #19, “Royal City” #2, “Star Trek Green Lantern Volume 2 Stranger Worlds” #5, “Monsters Unleashed” #1, “Eclipse” #6, “Trinity” #8, “Red Sonja” #4, “Horizon” #10, “Star-Lord” #6, “Green Arrow” #21, “Venom” #6, “Shaolin Cowboy Who’ll Stop The Reign” #1, “Black” #5, “Moon Knight” #13, “Green Lanterns” #21, “Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor Year Three” #4, “Silk” #19, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” #14, “Archie” #19, “Justice League” #19, “Black Hammer” #8, “Guardians Of The Galaxy Dream On” #1, “Lucifer” #17, “Injection” #12, “U.S.Avengers” #5, “Mega Princess” #5, “Nightwing” #19, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 11” #6, “Aquaman” #21, “Ms. Marvel” #17, “Greatest Adventure” #1, “Plastic” #1, “Generation Zero” #9, “Super Sons” #3, “Failsafe” #1, “Monstress” #11, “Thunderbolts” #12, “James Bond Felix Leiter” #4, “Royals” #2, “Superman” #21, “Josie And The Pussycats” #6, “Totally Awesome Hulk” #18, “Cosmic Scoundrels” #3, “Punisher” #11, “Wild Storm” #3, “Deadpool” #29, “Highlander The American Dream” #3, “Daredevil” #19, “Redneck” #1, “Invincible Iron Man” #6.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
Thank the Maker, nothing was terrible this week.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Ambitious attempts by many Mentions, bolstered by nothing stinking up the joint.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Five purchases? Nothing bad? One word describes a week like that: Win.
You can also hear this columnist as a guest on the slightly NSFW podcast Black Nerd Power.
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!