A Contest of Champions


Every week Hannibal Tabu (two-time Eisner-winning journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated.com) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock -- hey Steve, Jason, Vince and Quislet) and 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 New Avengers #18

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

Oh, Norman Osborn -- you are one deeply charismatic son of a beezy. What's funniest about this issue is that virtually nothing happens in terms of plot, yet it is superlatively entertaining. Norman assembles a large cast of fairly dangerous people who have a common theme, as expressed by Madame Hydra: "I'm sick of losing." What's funniest is how well Brian Michael Bendis endows his Norman Osborn with vocal inflections and smooth mannerisms of Tommy Lee Jones. Planting seeds for a future "Avengers" movie? Hard to tell -- and hard to deny. With the kind of charisma that Michael Rosenbaum brought to "Smallville" or David Anders brought to "Alias," it's magnetic to watch and that's worth buying.

Mister Terrific #3

(DC Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

Remember the problems with the art that have plagued the first two issues of this series? Done. This issue's work by Scott Clark, Dave Beatty and Mike Atiyeh is a remarkable improvement, from the agony on Michael Holt's face when he's attacked to the shock on a young boy's face at Terrific's emotional crescendo. The facial expressiveness matches rock solid visual storytelling and the intricate, brilliant script from Eric Wallace. This character is a great fit for Wallace's style of work, his snappy verbal rejoinders combined with tight plotting and great emotional nuance. Great stuff here.

Journey Into Mystery #631

(Marvel Comics)

Loki gets a new job courtesy of the new power in Asgard -- Gaea, Idunn and Freyja -- now that Odin has closed himself off in the wreckage of old Asgard to guard the corpse of his brother the Serpent. With shades of Booster Gold's new mandate, Loki charms his way around threats that'd make many people blanche including the disposition of the Disir, getting an "B.F.F." of sorts courtesy of Hela and generally being a hilarious scoundrel. As charming when he's reserved as he is when he's ranting, this is another confounding comic in that its actual plot was a little skimpy, but the entertainment value is still really high.


Three solid issues, that's a good start.


Honorable Mentions:

Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy

Much like George Foy's novel "Contraband," "Loose Ends" #3 was a pretty comic book filled with ambiance and vanity, which had a plot that drifted like a Chevy Caprice on an icy road. A fun ride that didn't feel like it was going anywhere, the lush artwork was interesting as well.

"Demon Knights" #3 had a lot of the charm of the previous jump-worthy issue, but despite a lot of great character work, its plot just kind of jogged in place. Man, Vandal Savage has never been this entertaining, though, that guy's solid gold.

Speaking of good combinations, "Wolverine" #18 proved that if you take Logan, add Ken Hale and then toss in the legendary Fat Cobra, and man, that's freaking magical. It's a shame that they were almost cameo appearances in this issue, making Wolverine the Jed Bartlett of the comic book, barely there at all. Come up with a team situation for Gorilla Man, Fat Cobra and Wolverine and it'd be well worth buying.

Russian sleeper cell, er, "Pigs" #3 showed some of the reluctance a second generation spy has following orders from a regime that's shifted ideologies, half a world away. The tension between the spies, carrying out their clandestine orders, was pretty good, but it wasn't anything transcendent.

"Battle Scars" #1 did a good job introducing who Marcus Johnson is, and expressed that lots of dangerous people want a piece of him. Why? No idea. Why would his fate matter? Sure, he lost his mother in a tragic misunderstanding, but that's not quite enough of a hook. An interesting start, if only to see where Marvel's going with it.

Time travel's a real mofo, and Murphy struggles with that challenge in "Terminator/Robocop: Kill Human" #4, manipulating tachyon streams to ensure the creation of OCP, just to go back in time and whack Skynet. That always works out so well. A little more emo than you might expect but not bad.

Like the original "Ultimate Spider-Man," "Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man" #4 is taking the slow route to get anywhere, as we find out how Miles Morales decided to act in poor taste and show some great artwork delivering more about his character and trepidation.

The "Meh" Pile

Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9" #3, "Orchid" #2, "Crawl To Me" #4, "Batman and Robin" #3, "Kirby Genesis: Silver Star" #1, "Deathstroke" #3, "Avengers Origins: Vision" #1, "Jack Avarice is The Courier" #2, "Grifter" #3, "Magneto: Not A Hero" #1, "Huntress" #2, "Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes" #2, "Point One" #1, "Artifacts" #11, "Resurrection Man" #3, "Clive Barker's Hellraiser" #7, "Superboy" #3, "Dungeons and Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt, Neverwinter Tales" #3, "Decision 2012 Barack Obama" #1, "Pilot Season: Anonymous" #1.

No, just -- no ...

These comics? Not so much...

Was there any real reason for Babs and Dick Grayson to fight in "Batgirl" #3? Sure, maybe that's their idea of foreplay, but it seemed dumb in that she was working a time sensitive case and had a long way to go if she was looking for some of the smarter solutions Oracle might have had. A little too "young adult fiction" and not enough "super hero."

T'challa again showcases how little his intelligence means in "Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive" #525, which featured him getting outwitted again by people who certainly can't compare intellectually. The consummate planner? Gone. The peerless acrobat and fighter? Not so much. This guy should be called PINO -- Panther in name only, and that's distressing.

Despite Hal and Sinestro making fairly good reluctant allies in "Green Lantern" #3, the ridiculous plan for taking on the Sinestro Corps and the really stupid part with the Guardians made this issue a serious stinker.

"Fear Itself" #7.2 essentially said that nothing of any significance happened in "Fear Itself," and that's tedious. The weird ending didn't help, some tabula rasa dude popping up out of nowhere -- that's tedious.


More good than bad, that's all good.


Great purchases, solid attempts trying to climb the hill -- let's call this week a win.


There's two big pieces of news from Komplicated.com this week. First is the BIG work of the #whodwin Wednesday playoffs (seeds and brackets, all available), which included twenty big battles of winners from previous weeks. Wanna know the cool part? You can vote on the results via the links on the page until Friday afternoon PST! Krona vs. an Imperial Star Destroyer! Lex Luthor vs. Foxy Brown. As well, Komplicated visited the Comikaze Expo, debuting their line of geek-themed t-shirts, which are super comfy. Sadly, this week we saw the passing of both "Smokin'" Joe Frazier and actor/musician/executive Heavy D, which was a big bummer and Komplicated celebrated with an hour of retweets regarding the latter from fans, friends and pros, but we checked out South African singer Lira, the regular weekly free MP3 downloads with (a commentary track from music writer Rox Fontaine), music recommendations from Brutha Gimel, our weekly guide on where to find Black people in the media and a really hard core webcast with great news, tech and music coverage and original web comics as well. This Sunday night, you'll be able to listen to a virtual listening party for actor/rapper Malcolm Barrett, revealing his new musical projects, the EP "Professional Amateur: The 15-Minute Mixtape" and his new album, "The Backpacker's Guide To The Galaxy." Updated at least three times a day, every day, Komplicated is doing it for the block and the blogosphere, capturing the Black geek aesthetic.

Back to this website, have you 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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