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 JUNE 15, 2016
Weird Detective #1
(Dark Horse Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Imagine if “Monk’s” Adrian Monk was secretly an alien on a secret mission, solving crimes in order to gain information to save his entire species. This book is just plain strange, with “Twin Peaks” or “X-Files” weirdness combined with an almost “Doctor Who” or “Dirk Gently” modus operandi. Sebastian Greene is on the case and Detective Saya Fayez is on his. There are so many layers to Fred Van Lente’s script, all wonderfully presented visually by Guiu Vilanova, Mauricio Wallace, Josan Gonzalez and Nate Piekos. A significant chunk of culture, this comic is well worth your money.
Jump from the Read Pile.
A story from Peter Parker’s awkward high school days? An unexpected team up and a savvy bit of narrative framing made this issue a surprising delight as the titular hero struggles with school dramas, nocturnal crime and awkward international relations. Refreshing in its simplicity and wholly self-contained, Robbie Thompson’s elegant script is well supported by the crisp, effective visuals from Andre Lima Araujo, Jim Campbell and Travis Lanham, positing a simpler time for everyone involved and a clever edge to straightforward superheroics.
Astro City #36
This was a rock-solid conclusion to a generational story of heroism and revenge, where people seek the truth, even when they don’t really want it. Jack-In-The-Box is a family business and the latest generation has some serious questions about their line of work. The Kurt Busiek script has some intriguing twists and turns, all skillfully rendered by guest artist Ron Randall (funny … there’s no credits page this time, so no love for the rest of the creative team). One of the most enduring works of quality in comics, this is another brick in the wall of excellence.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Fun stuff in the purchases this week, that’s a good sign.
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Joyners” #1 is a decent character drama set at a time of extreme societal change as the first real flying car becomes a reality. Unfortunately, the mind at the center of the creation of the flying car is in a crumbling marriage and desperate to protect half a billion dollars in liquid funds. A little dry in execution, but some interesting ideas behind it.
“Swamp Thing” #6 had two moments where a guest star gets some pretty perfect lines, but was otherwise kind of forgettable as it put the toys gently back into the box, Bill Bixby style.
“Beauty” #8 didn’t really do anything from a purely structural standpoint, neither in character or plot, despite having a few effective moments but it was a perfect-tone poem for acceptance when you could be considered a horrible person. With tighter editing and plotting, this could be something.
“Star Wars” #20 was a very cute snack worth of an issue that had a new character (the ruthless wookiee bounty hunter Black Krrsantan) facing down a familiar one (“Ben” Kenobi). There are a couple of great character moments (can we get some love for Owen Lars), but the whole issue could have been skipped and nothing would be different, as we haven’t learned anything worth knowing about any of the characters here. Gorgeous, but easily skipped unless you’re a completist.
“Green Arrow” #1 started a very interesting new direction for the emerald archer as he uses his money as much as his weaponry to try and effect change for the better in Seattle. The welcome complication of his newfound (or is it?) passion for runaway rock singer and part time superheroine Black Canary gives him room to examine himself and the reader a doorway that makes the exposition work. There’s a predictable “Gotham” styled twist that makes the conflict a little de rigueur but the general tone and pacing are worth watching.
Innocent people are being murdered, law enforcement’s involvement is highly suspicious, while politicians and leaders jockey for position, ignoring the needs of the people. No, it’s not the latest screed from #BlackLivesMatter, it’s “Transformers Till All Are One” #1, a complicated and almost messy look at the realities on the mean streets of Cybertron. Schemer Starscream’s rule over the mechanized planet is besieged on all sides by a council of worlds that find his credentials adequate at best and ghosts of the past (in some cases literally) watching his every step. Fantastic in conception and disjointed in application, this reaches for greatness but can’t grasp it.
“Batman” #1 was extremely close to making the mark, as an endangered plane is on a collision course with a crowded section of Saturday night Gotham. Coordinating his thoughts between the multiple resources at his command, Batman leaps into action and has some moments of brilliance and emotional truth. The sole things stopping this from being a perfect Batman story was the vague rooftop threat, left unresolved, and the strange last page surprise. This is a strong indication of the new direction and well worth checking back for next month.
Just when “Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor Year 2” #11 was getting good, a jazz-era romp into the science of sound, it ended as abruptly as someone pulling a rip cord on a good night kiss. A fun and energetic issue that again just didn’t complete its thought — a recurring issue for recent comics about our Gallifreyan pal — that maybe will read better collected.
“Justice League” #51 had as its benefit a virtually pitch perfect teamwork story, introducing a younger Dick Grayson to the League for the first time. If you’ve never seen this sort of assemblage of god-like powers take on a crisis that could end everything, this might be amazing. If you’ve read comics for more than eighteen months, this is just an ordinary day, which may not bring you to part with your dollars, especially as the framing device is left so vague.
“Vote Loki” #1 is not a bad little satirical take on electoral politics, as the newly minted god of stories drops in on the electioneering cycle to have a bit of a run. Is much of his “platform” and approach a thinly-veiled mockery of a certain orange-hued serial bankruptcy case, down to the “SNL” appearance? Of course it is. That doesn’t make it bad. However, two things kept this from coming home: First, the allegory it’s putting forth is one-third clever and two-thirds ham-fisted, discussing the danger of demagoguery. Second, aren’t we getting enough of this in the real world that now we have to deal with it in our comics, too? A nice bonus for the “MAD Magazine” crowd, but maybe not for everyone.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult,
“Heroes Godsend” #4, “Black Widow” #4, “Green Lanterns” #1, “Smosh” #2, “Low” #14, “Star Wars Han Solo” #1, “Poison Ivy Cycle Of Life And Death” #6, “Astonishing Ant-Man” #9, “Tank Girl Two Girls One Tank” #2, “Scarlet” #10, “Klaus” #6, “International Iron Man” #4, “Devolution” #5, “Civil War II X-Men” #1, “Sixth Gun” #50, “Titans Rebirth” #1, “Princeless Make Yourself” #3, “Samurai” #4, “Uncanny Inhumans” #10, “Descender” #12, “Transformers” #54, “Assassin’s Creed Templars” #3, “Dejah Thoris” #5, “Deadpool” #14, “Lazarus” #22, “Dark Knight Returns The Last Crusade” #1, “Amazing Spider-Man” #14, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Bebop And Rocksteady Destroy Everything” #3, “Guardians Of Infinity” #7, “Scooby Apocalypse” #2, “Nova” #8, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #59, “Lucifer” #7, “Joyride” #3, “Independence Day” #5, “Squadron Supreme” #8, “Dungeons And Dragons” #2, “Superman” #1, “Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat” #7, “Assassin’s Creed” #9, “New Suicide Squad” #21, “Circuit-Breaker” #3, “Uncanny X-Men” #8, “Tomorrows” #6, “All-New Inhumans” #8, “Back To The Future Citizen Brown” #2, “Spider-Gwen” #9, “Invincible” #129, “Civil War II” #2.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
Hey! Nothing was awful! Nothing at all! YAY!!!!
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Everybody got out there and played hard. You have to respect that.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
No bad comics, two made the jump — you’d better wave a checkered flag, because this week is a winner!
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 and “Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook” #1, 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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