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 FEBRUARY 4, 2015
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #37
This issue is deep in the weeds. Deep, deep in the weeds. A team of Autobots is traveling through time, chasing one of their former colleagues who, for millions of years, has been a double agent, playing them for suckers all along. They went deeper and deeper into the past, trying to stop the assassination of their greatest hero, Optimus Prime, before he could become the hero of their cause. This led to some great character moments (including more of probably the world's first gay robot romantic couples) and classical time travel paradoxes. None of this is to say that there is a single thing bad about this riveting science fiction. However, it is surely an uphill climb for some people, but it's so rewarding.
If you check out the review later in this column for "East of West," "Saga" has a similar issue this week as it has a number of interesting elements and ideas -- an uneasy alliance between two fathers, two mothers at each other's throats while under extreme stress, two women who love a man different ways struggling to save him, plus building the fictional continuity out with background information feeding into the motivations of a newer character. All at the same time seems to be a pace too rapid for this, and it's a worrying sign in an age when everything happening RIGHTNOWRIGHTNOW is the mode of all too many stories. Not bad ... but not up to snuff, either.
Star Wars #2
Jump from the Read Pile.
This issue will have you ready to slide all of your chips across the table like you had an Idiot's Array. Vader? Whuppin' butt. Luke? Perfectly mixing youthful befuddlement with the seeds of heroism. Han and Leia? The perfect odd couple, bickering and clowning each other. Threepio? Typically and hilariously doomed. Of course, R2 and Chewie end up doing the sarlacc's share of the work and the art from John Cassaday and Laura Martin takes Jason Aaron's script and hit the hyperspace button. It's stupid how good this is. For old school fans, this is manna from heaven, and for the prequel crowd, this is why you had an empire to inherit. Wow.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2
Jump from the Read Pile.
Every page of this issue is entertaining, from the things that happen in the plot to the additional jokes tossed in the margins. The lead character is a great mix of humorous and heroic, while the stakes make sense and are made personal, all at once. The cartoonish artwork from Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi fits Ryan North's engaging script perfectly. This title is as unflappable as its protagonist and it's just plain great.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Despite "Saga" missing a half step, this is a very enjoyable week of comics.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Afterlife With Archie Magazine" #4 is gripping. The primal zeitgeist of an idyllic mid 20th century America gone horribly, bloodily wrong is entertaining in a horrifying way as the titular character finds out why you can never go home again during a zombie apocalypse, losing more than he ever imagined. The back up stories are forgettable and don't justify the price but that lead story will just grab you inside your rib cage and shake you.
Like the current run on "Catwoman," "United States Of Murder Inc" #6 shows lots of great elements of a fine crime novel, with solid action and effective artwork. However, it plays far too briefly for the format, and needs the length of a more measured treatment. Definitely rewarding for the trades crowd.
"Grayson" #7 had some fantastic moments, including the title character weaving in details of his youth and savvy about a pop culture that had to exist underneath the DCU we know. However, the Midnighter was a tedious addition and played at maybe 50% (maybe) and the antagonist needed way more rock to them for the plot as presented. Solid skeleton of a story that needed a little more meat on its bones.
"Ant-Man" #2 was much like its debut issue -- some funny bits, some clever parts but a plot that fell short of gelling together. The protagonist is fun in his flaws, the artwork connects effectively, there's even a good bit tying the end of the issue together with the beginning. Getting there, but not quite there yet.
"East Of West" #17 started to tell a really interesting bit about the Kingdom, and touched on the original protagonist's bloody quest, and made a fascinating start with world leader ushered into power with blood and calculation. There could have been three fascinating, nuanced, well drawn comics here. Instead, there are pieces of three -- teasing you with possibility but leaving you as unrequited as a teenaged suitor left anxiously on a doorstep. Maybe all of this will play better in trades.
"Avengers" #41 has a couple of pages that are worthwhile, two twisted pages that fit and make more sense than, well, the Marvel Universe we're used to. The rest is "blah blah blah," but the first will get a grim nod of appreciation and the second, the last page of the issue, could catch your breath. Not bad at all, but not ready for prime time in that this mostly just sets up the next crossover.
Mix Adrian Monk with Rain Man in a city full of felons and you'll get "Postal" #1, an odd procedural with a protagonist struggling with Aspergers who often discovers more than be should as the mail carrier for the town. Not bad but it would benefit from the live action treatment, likely being a fun USA network show with the right casting.
"Angela: Asgard's Assassin" #3 had good elements tossed together as Angela's kidnapping of her newborn baby sister starts to go right with the help of some old history from the early parts of Odin's reign and the Guardians of the Galaxy (including a cute nod towards the movie). However, the tone was uneven, from madcap to grim and Asgardian and the plot lacked balance and cohesion, despite its strong character work.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Nameless" #1, "Robocop" #8, "Guardians Of The Galaxy And X-Men Black Vortex Alpha" #1, "Earth 2 World's End" #18, "Battlestar Galactica Death Of Apollo" #3, "Ghost Fleet" #4, "King Jungle Jim" #1, "Hawkeye" #21, "Swamp Thing" #39, "Planet Gigantic" #4, "Superman" #38, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents White Queen" #1, "Ms. Marvel" #11, "G.I. JOE" #5, "New 52 Futures End" #40, "Rat God" #1, "Lobo" #5, "Imperium" #1, "Green Lantern" #39, "Escape From New York" #3, "Green Arrow" #39, "Angel And Faith Season 10" #11, "Operation S.I.N." #2, "Earth 2" #31, "Detective Comics" #39, "Punisher" #15, "X-O Manowar" #33, "Batman Eternal" #44, "Return Of The Living Deadpool" #1, "Lady Killer" #2, "Action Comics" #39, "Spawn" #250, "Marvel's Ant-Man Prelude" #1.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
Many years ago, Iron Man tried to make his life easier by creating an AI to do some of his work, but it ended up screwing him over. In "Hulk" #11, something similar happens, but it's even less interesting because -- even as the arguable antagonist says -- it was predictable. How it played out was predictable, the plot was predictable and the cover was essentially a red herring. Bah.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Just one bad book, and it wasn't so bad. That's cool!
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Multiple jumps beat the heck out of one literally bad comic, so this is a fantastic week to be a comics fan!
As of right now, you can spend ten bucks and get about 175,000 words worth of fiction from the writer of this column. The links that follow tell you where 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, or "Fathom Sourcebook" #1, the official guide to the flagship franchise for Aspen Comics. Too rich for your blood? Download the free PDF of "Cruel Summer: The Visual Mixtape." 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!