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 MAY 17, 2017
Luke Cage #1 (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. For fans of the writer's previous Power Man and Iron Fist, this comic is a little bit of a shift -- the pace is more methodical, the plotting more nuanced -- but the wit and intensity of the titular lead character remains intact. The scientist who gave Cage his powers died of an apparent suicide, and going to pay respects turns into much more than a service and a repast. Writer David F. Walker excels in these intimate character studies, as his work on Shaft and Nighthawk showed. With the sharp artwork of Top Cow alumni Nelson Blake the 2nd, Marcio Menyz and Joe Sabino, the richly detailed worlds of Harlem and New Orleans shine in every panel. This is a promising start to the character's Netflix-fueled solo push.
God Country #5 (Image Comics)
"Epic." The word you're looking for, after you get to the final page of this triumphant accomplishment of a comic book, is "epic." Emmett Quinlan has a chance at life after going senile via the touch of a sword that is, in itself, the god of swords. Unfortunately, the people who made it want it back and send the second, even more dangerous entity to retrieve it. From this simple (?) premise comes a well crafted narrative that is effective in conveying the stakes for all characters and a plot that moves confidently. The team of Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Jason Wordie and John J. Hill are leaving it all on the field and man, it's quite a sight to see. Wow.
Night Owl Society #2 (IDW Publishing)
Jump from the Read Pile. A crew of weirdos and misfits begin a clandestine campaign against a local crime lord. Despite being gangly, goofy teenagers, they're surprisingly effective and that ... that leads to a twist that elevated this from "good" to "great." Writer James Venhaus really delivers in terms of the character development, as the group struggles with discovering certain facts. Pius Bak and Marshall Dillon do a fantastic job bringing the script to life effectively.
Odyssey Of The Amazons #5 (DC Comics)
This very well done issue does what God Country does, in making the stakes real for the characters and making the characters vibrant on the page. An off handed story revealing secrets about a relationship, commonalities lead to working together and confronting a very serious last page reveal. New characters are built up when introduced and the plot moves along briskly. Writer Kevin Grevioux shows up with another winner here, while the art team of Ryan Benjamin, Don Ho, Tony Washington and Saida Temofonte make the story breathe on the page. Great work all around here.
Nancy Drew And The Hardy Boys The Big Lie #3 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Jump from the Read Pile. This issue presents a fascinating heist happening in a small town police district. The titular teen trio manipulates events and people with skill and aplomb, their determination seeing them through where they lack hard experience. Writer Anthony del Col turned in a very entertaining script that Werther Dell'Edera, Stefano Simeone and Simon Bowland depicted into tense, noirish perfection. Very nice!
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #20 (Marvel Comics)
Wonderfully ridiculous. A tech billionaire has used miniaturized computer chips to mind control animals in a double edged scheme to take over the city and discredit the titular heroine. This leads to a quip filled fight that's hilarious in its scope and resolution. Writer Ryan North is some kind of a mad genius on an uninterrupted run of hilarity the likes of which may hearken back to Joe Kelly's Deadpool or the "bwa-ha-ha" era. The art team of Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham are all able partners in crime and this book is a guaranteed hoot.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Holy crap, six great books this week? That's outstanding!
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
M.A.S.K. Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #6 was really turning into something with an in-depth examination of the characters at play. Then, when it was really getting somewhere, it just stopped at a full halt without any warm up or warning. Shame, because this had one of the best uses of Dr. Mindbender on record as a refreshing guest star. Gorgeous art, good character work, jarring ending on that plot.
Astro City #44 was a very cute self-contained story (so much so it was set in 1982) with a female crime fighting duo that gets unexpected help from superpowered animals. There's nothing wrong with this bottle episode, but it didn't do much to distinguish its cookie cutter protagonists, antagonist or supporting character (it was nice to see a Latino scientist making waves in 1982, even as a prop).
Before New Caprica and pigeon chasing and everything went wrong, do you remember the Battlestar Galactica episode "33," where the Cylons would attack every 33 minutes? Ultimates 2 #7 leans heavily on that idea with Carol Danvers as wrong as she can be and stuck on the business end of Steve Rogers' Hydra World Order plan. The plot meanders far more than it should, and really, if you're stuck outside the planet and have two Hyperion-class extrahumans, why not just push your space station to the moon and chill? Not bad, but not so clearly thought out.
Ninjak #27 was a straightforward super spy story, chasing down a hidden scientist with dangerous knowledge, shadowed by two extranormal surprises. The pacing was perfect, the art spectacular but the characters were two dimensional and the stakes just a hair above nap-worthy. An improvement, admittedly, but not hitting the mark just yet.
Batman #23 was weird. Swamp Thing comes to Gotham to investigate a murder and things get very Vertigo along the way. There are some funny lines, there are some interesting moments, but the story kid of ran into a wall at the end.
Nick Fury #2 is more Michael Bay than Steranko, a visual assault on the senses as much as its titular character attacks a moon base aiming a weapon at the earth. While all the old cliches are easily reachable from here, the easy charm and effortless ability to murder dozens of people fit this spy milieu. If the story were as original as the visual approach, we might have something here, but it's not bad.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened ...
"Horizon" #11, "Deadpool Vs The Punisher" #3, "Ian Livingstone's Freeway Fighter" #1, "Punisher" #12, "Trinity" #9, "Guardians Of The Galaxy Mother Entropy" #3, "Sovereigns" #1, "Nightwing" #21, "Mighty Thor" #19, "Star Trek The Next Generation Mirror Broken" #1, "X-Men Gold" #4, "Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor Year Three" #5, "Green Arrow" #23, "Eclipse" #7, "Flash" #22, "Invincible Iron Man" #7, "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" #15, "Wild Storm" #4, "Star Wars" #31, "Curse Words" #5, "Monsters Unleashed" #2, "Super Sons" #4, "Birthright" #24, "Green Lanterns" #23, "Satellite Falling" #5, "Generation X" #1, "Aquaman" #23, "Dead Inside" #5, "Superman" #23, "Rom" #10, "Star Wars Poe Dameron" #15, "Wicked + The Divine 455 AD" #1, "Justice League" #21, "Revolutionaries" #4, "Batwoman" #3, "Red Sonja" #5, "Lucifer" #18, "U.S.Avengers" #6, "Greatest Adventure" #2, "Teen Titans" #8, "Invincible" #136, "Daredevil" #20.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
Secret Empire #2 was bad. Let's be blunt here. Starting with the weepy prevarication of Steve Rogers, the flag-draped Supreme Hydra in private to his bestie Helmut Zemo, and ending with that absolutely insulting last page which, at best, removes reason and accountability from the equation and makes the entire narrative a waiting game to go back to the licensed status quo. This is cowardly storytelling, done in a muddy fashion (what was with the watercolor approach to most of the book?) and tedious in the extreme.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
As long as we don't look at Steve Rogers, it wasn't that bad ...
WINNERS AND LOSERS
There were some really ambitious attempts in the honorable mentions this week and a gang of jumps making for an expensive but enjoyable stack to come home. Winning.
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 "Project Wildfire: Enter Project Torrent" (a collected superhero web comic), "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, "Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook" #1 and "Aspen Universe Sourcebook," 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!