Bad Guys In Steel & Superhero Retirement


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 ...


Darth Vader #4

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

Oh Vader, you magnificent bastard. Vader's going rogue and has a mission. To help him, he has a psychotic version of the droids from his youth and a chatty Everett K. Ross type with much greater moral flexibility. Along the way he slices his way through familiar haunts and has some classic Darth Vader moments while revealing a shadow of the Jedi he once was. Enjoyable stuff for casual adventure fans, and a simply delectable treat for fans of the franchise. Delightful!

Astro City #22

(Vertigo/DC Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

This issue is back to being really very good as its spot on opening captured the imagination and delivered a heroic concept that was truly a new idea. An author has a lot of secrets and a wife who loves Cheetos, but it's this one piece of knowledge lingering outside of his perception that haunts him. A deliberate, thoughtful done-in-one, this issue's story bucks the odds and shows how a happy ending can avoid being treacly and tedious. The script from master craftsman Kurt Busiek enthralls in even the quiet moments, and guest artist Jesus Merino was a fantastic choice to depict the transition of things. High-quality storytelling.

Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #39

(IDW Publishing)

Whoa. The Decepticons began as "a cult of one -- a lonely miner who had a dangerous idea and clung to it," according to Tarn, the leader of the Decepticon Justice Division, "a form of extreme performance management." Previous issues have shown the quintet of robots as a force to be feared, relentless hunters with overwhelming abilities to inflict violence and suffering. Here, we get to see what they're like when they're not at work -- pious, hen pecked by their unit medic, saddled with administrative oversight and anxious. Finally, months after the big reveal, they get a chance to see their leader Megatron's message to the Decepticons and his "ending" of the war. Tarn -- the believer's believer -- struggles with that and that, ladies, gentlemen and mechanoids, is riveting storytelling. With the certainty of storm clouds on the horizon, this issue both strikes and foretells dour days ahead. One day, we will all be able to say, "I was there. I saw James Roberts create a whole new level of myth from The Transformers, becoming one of the most brilliant names in science fiction." Unlike Brian Williams, you will be telling the truth. The art from Hayoto Sakamoto and Joana LaFuente, with letters by Tom B. Long carry weight and intensity, conveying the burden Tarn carries alongside his burning, nearly endless devotion. Very, very, very good stuff.


Wow. Fantastic reading today.


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

"Convergence Nightwing Oracle" #1 was a reminder of why Oracle was perhaps the best incarnation of Barbara Gordon -- smarter, better prepared, more Bat than the Bat himself. The plot was otherwise predictable and tedious, but for one, shining moment we had her back, and she was freaking awesome.

"Ant-Man" #4 is almost there, really starting to catch a groove with a balance of humor and action. The titular hero is willing to go to extreme lengths to rescue his daughter, hiring the former villain Machinesmith from a humiliation too grandiose (and funny) to disclose, creating an interesting dynamic. On the other side of the coin, second generation corporate raider Augustine Cross is the Joe Isuzu of super villains, perky and polite as he discusses child murder (maybe Jon Snow could take a hint). If the ending hadn't been so abrupt, this could have made it home.

"Convergence The Atom" #1 has an ending that could make some comics fans gasp with joy. Literally no other point of the "plot" was worth mentioning as Ray Palmer is less the suave Iron Man knock off you see on television and more ... well, a nut. That ending, though ...

"Deadpool" #45 is less a story than a series of jokes. About 2/3 of those jokes are funny, which is an advantage. The final bit with a roast and Howard the Duck could have been cut, drifting way too far into "the end of 'Wanted'" territory, but there were lots of entertaining bits. Not the sort of thing you'd go back and revisit, like the classic "Deadpool" #11 from the original run, but pretty good for one read through.

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

"Guardians 3000" #7, "Legacy Of Luther Strode" #1, "Angela Asgard's Assassin" #5, "Convergence Batgirl" #1, "Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man" #12, "Birthright" #6, "Masks 2" #1, "Jupiter's Circle" #1, "Convergence Batman And Robin" #1, "Howard The Duck" #2, "Savior" #1, "Robocop" #10, "Storm" #10, "IXth Generation Hidden Files" #1, "Max Ride First Flight" #1, "Convergence Harley Quinn" #1, "Big Man Plans" #2, "S.H.I.E.L.D." #4, "Convergence Titans" #1, "Walking Dead" #140, "Stray" #3, "Avengers World" #19, "Five Ghosts" #16, "Convergence Justice League" #1, "Hulk" #14, "Escape From New York" #5, "Spider-Man 2099" #11, "One-Hit Wonder" #5, "Convergence Speed Force" #1, "Battlestar Galactica Six" #2, "Convergence Superman" #1, "Elephantmen" #63, "Spider-Woman" #6, "Kaijumax" #1, "Saga" #27, "Convergence The Question" #1, "All-New Hawkeye" #2, "Danger Club" #8, "Captain Marvel" #14.

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

"Convergence" #1 is tedious fan fiction, a slapdash version of "Secret Wars" with the fervor of the dumbest comic shop chatter saved by high production values and marketing. Derivative, contrived, uncompelling. Guh.

"Bucky Barnes The Winter Soldier" #7 is gibbering, emo junk. It's bad. It tries to "explain" the appearance of Crossbones in space, but the attempt at a plot just kind of staggers around and plops down into a sobbing mess. Cliches, tedious attempts at characterization ... thank spirit for Langdon Foss and Rachelle Rosenberg turning in intriguing looking art or this would have been vomit inducing. Blech.


"Convergence" kind of dragged the week down ...


Two jumps overcome even a trip over Meh Mountain, even with "Saga" falling from grace, so we'll say the week won nonetheless.


WonderCon wrap up blog? Maybe next week. Maybe.

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, guides to 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!

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