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Achievements in Science Fiction

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Achievements in Science Fiction


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 …


Symmetry #1

(Top Cow/Image Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

With rock star science fiction bona fides at its foundation, this “subversive” book posits the problem with paradise, neatly extrapolating the problems an isolated population faces in a complex world. The visual design is stunning, and you can’t say enough about the world Raffaele Ienco brings to life (with help from Troy Peteri). Matt Hawkins’ script echoes the enforced blandness of “The Giver” but fixes the issue of pacing by using a relentless ticking clock to drive the plot forward. Well-crafted, engaging and thought provoking material.

Ultimates #2

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

The mission is one that, oddly enough, only Squirrel Girl thought to do in an innovative fashion: fix Galactus. While she handled this bravely in her own series, T’challa’s team of Ultimates has something more permanent in mind. With a touch of retcon on the Devourer of Worlds’ origin, Al Ewing’s clever script gives the King of Wakanda something Reed Richards never had — a more effective team — in addressing the Galactus problem, and the lonely remnant of a previous universe is much chattier than ven he expected. Entertaining stuff, rendered with a little of that old Bart Sears Crossgen style by Kenneth Rocafort, Dan Brown and VC’s Joe Sabino.


Whoo! All good there!


Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy

“Grayson” #15 is either a gigantic trick played on a hundred emotionally unstable teenaged vigilantes or plans within plans. Craftily told and beautifully drawn, this issue might be too clever for its own good, hiding more than it shows, obfuscating when it should reveal. Not bad, but not really gripping either.

Much like in “Superman: Peace on Earth,” “Amazing Spider-Man” #4 teaches Peter Parker that solutions aren’t always so easy in sub-Saharan Africa as Aunt May’s philanthropy almost ends up explosive, all while SHIELD needs Spidey but comes up with an empty web. Mockingbird puts on an Adrianne Palicki-worthy performance, but there were too many things going on at once when the challenge for Aunt May was big enough to run the whole issue. The new direction is well conceived, the execution just has to better balance the meta-plot with Zodiac versus the Spider’s personal stories.

“Tomboy” #2 coasted where its first issue soared, taking the focus away from the lead character and on to a morally murky cast of supporting characters who all seem to be rather unimpressed with the idea of human life being sacred. Toss in a possible set of delusions (or, if she’s in the Joan of Arc queue, visions) and the story meanders far too much, losing the kinetic charm that made it great. Let’s see if it can pick up the pieces next month.

In “New Suicide Squad” #15, Amanda Waller gets a lesson on the way things really are that would elicit a “duh” from anyone who slept on grass during Occupy or even the most rudimentary #blacklivesmatter activist, but is somehow shocking information to people whose colleagues mostly wear spandex. Also, Harley has a whole existential crisis in the middle of a firefight. There are moments worth noting here, but overall the pieces don’t fit together.

“Birthright” #12 had a couple of cool reveals in it, some fantastic artwork and solid action scenes. The pacing is still off and feels like it’s never been intended for single issues but should be read all in one sitting, but if you’re in for this cross-dimensional ride that’s something like that Straub/King novel from the 80s, you’ll likely still be in for this issue.

Palpatine makes a rare, brief and delicious appearance in “Star Wars Annual” #1 which tries to give the Rebellion a version of the late, lamented Jahan Cross, but lacks the complexity, the support network or the intensity. This issue needed more pages — to explore Enab Ray’s deep cover role, to flesh out the danger on Coruscant — but it fit well with Marvel’s new “Star Wars”-verse.

The titular character is naked and emotional in “Justice League Darkseid War Lex Luthor” #1 as the Omega Effect has chosen a new bald host and he’s rushing to claim all the Parademons, all the firepits and every inch of Apokolips. The somewhat navel gazing story shows what it takes, and it’s not bad, but it’s not exactly gripping either. Oddly enough, some of Elsa Bloodstone’s father issues from that “Secret Wars” crossover would have fit well here, but this treatment was far more cursory.

“Violent” #1 is a kind of a horror story, in a way, about the overwhelming gravitational pull of being screwed up after you’ve already made mistakes. It’s a terrifying display not because of the lack of wholeness these people have in their own lives but for the cyclical nature of it, how it almost inevitably gets passed down to the next generation of would-be screw ups. Less a work of entertainment and more the death of a culture in slow motion, but done at a high level of craft if you can stomach the tragedy.

The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title

“Gwenpool Special” #1, “Starfire” #7, “Hercules” #2, “Walking Dead” #149, “Sherlock Holmes The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” #5, “Telos” #3, “Scarlet Witch” #1, “Infinite Adventures Of Jonas Quantum” #4, “Blacklist” #5, “Star Trek” #52, “All-New Hawkeye” #2, “Secret Wars” #8, “Red Hood Arsenal” #7, “Spider-Gwen” #3, “Alabaster The Good The Bad And The Bird” #1, “New Romancer” #1, “Uncanny Avengers” #3, “Doctor Who The Eighth Doctor” #2, “Green Arrow” #47, “Snow Blind” #1, “Gotham Academy” #13, “Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor Year 2” #3, “Earth 2 Society” #7, “Catwoman” #47, , “Precinct” #1, “Detective Comics” #47, “Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor” #16, “Star Trek Green Lantern” #6, “Deadpool” #3″Holy F*cked” #4, “Constantine The Hellblazer” #7, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” #3, “Troop” #1, “Contest Of Champions” #3, “Monstress” #2, “Batman Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #1, “Black Knight” #2, “Ninjak” #10, “G.I. JOE A Real American Hero” #221, “Batman Superman” #27, “Unity” #25, “Batman And Robin Eternal” #10, “Codename Baboushka The Conclave Of Death” #3, “Batman” #47,

No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …

Nothing bad? Cool.


Any week without a bad comic is a week worth being happy about.


Two jumps, no bad comics — that’s a week of comics you can like … especially with two books by this columnist as well. Whaaaaat? Read on …


On Tuesday, you may have noticed that Stranger Comics released “Waso: Gathering Wind” — a new fantasy novella written by this columnist, set in the same fictional world as “Niobe: She Is Life” (co-written by “Hunger Games” and “Sleepy Hollow” star Amandla Stenberg) and “The Untamed” (the soon-to-be animated property voiced by Sean Bean). It’s on sale for your digital device and oh so fantastic.

That’s not all: As of today you can get “Watson and Holmes Volume 2” featuring a story written by this columnist and co-plotted by “2 Guns” and CBR alum Steven Grant with art by Dennis Calero. It also collects the Eisner-nominated issue by “Agent Carter” staff writer Brandon Easton and artist N. Steven Harris. Yeah. Happening. Big day!

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 and “Soulfire Sourcebook” #1, the official guide to the Aspen Comics franchises. 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!

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