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The Buy Pile: Deathstroke Heads Up a Full House of Complex Characters

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
The Buy Pile: Deathstroke Heads Up a Full House of Complex Characters


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 …


Occupy Avengers #4 (Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. There are four words you need to know that give you the core reason why this book is at home and not on the shelf: Tilda Johnson is awesome. Yes, once upon a time she was kind of ridiculous and yes, she’s made some questionable fashion choices, but she shows up as the star of this issue and works as both a framing device and a surprising protagonist. Nighthawk makes a sterling straight man in this regard, and Hawkeye’s haplessness shines as well. This issue shows great work by David F. Walker, Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, Wil Quintana and Clayton Cowles.

Deathstroke #13 (DC Comics)

"Deathstroke" #13

All good for bad people in “Deathstroke” #13.

This issue is one of the most messed up, ruthless things ever, and that’s exactly why it’s amazing. The titular assassin works enormously hard to prove that he’s on his side, but he’s vaguely willing to act in the interests of family so no one outside of his circle can screw with the Wilsons. There’s a last page surprise that’s a complete gut punch and so many double crosses and misdirects that it might take two times through to get them all, but you’ll enjoy the ride. Masterful work is done here by Christopher J. Priest, Joe Bennett, Mark Morales, Jeromy Cox and Willie Schubert.

Mosaic #5 (Marvel Comics)

"Mosaic" #5

Answers to the biggest questions are on hand for “Mosaic” #5.

Jump from the Read Pile. Wearing Spider-Man like an expensive suit, NBA great turned superpowered body snatcher Morris Sackett comes to terms with some ugly lessons about his life in this wonderfully done issue. Combining spider-sense with the ability to rifle through memories like so many Tumblr posts made for some dynamic sequences as we balanced the struggle in the here and now with very well rounded character work. Writer Geoffrey Thorne shows some of why he has worked so long in television with this deftly balanced script and the energetic visuals from Khary Randolph, Thony Silas, Emilio Lopez, Andres Mossa and Joe Sabino pull the reader along for a thrill ride of an issue. Really enjoyable stuff here.

Transformers Lost Light #3 (IDW Publishing)

"Transformers: Lost Light" #3

Interdimensional shenanigans abound in “Transformers: Lost Light” #3.

Jump from the Read Pile. Like a delicately composed sonata, this issue weaves story elements through multiple characters and reactions with enormous deftness. Throwaway lines from the previous series come back to life with terrifying intensity, the culture of Cybertron is explored in enormous detail and characters, spirit, characters are defined in such amazing ways … wow. Writer James Roberts is not just literary, he’s practically operatic. The art from Jack Lawrence, Joana LaFuente and Tom B. Long is both intimate and riveting for action scenes. This issue helps the series reclaim “More Than Meets The Eye” spot of the only Transformers title bought sight unseen.

Astro City #41 (Vertigo/DC Comics)

"Astro City" #41

Meet the hero behind the name in “Astro City” #41.

Jump from the Read Pile. Good to welcome this title back with the story of the city’s namesake hero, a tragic figure cut in the cloth of the Blue Marvel, asked for more than he could give. Told through the eyes of a local politician, providing that slow pan upwards into wonder, writer Kurt Busiek again wraps the wonder of nostalgia in the clothes of the impossible. Let’s not undersell the visual contributions of Brent Anderson, Josh Roshell, Jimmy Betancourt, Peter Pantazis and Alex Sinclair in this almost Rocketeer-flavored trip down memory lane.


Maaaaaan, that’s a great big ol’ stack of comics! Sweet!


Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Curse Words” #2 was a good, but not great, follow up to the stunning first issue. The plot dragged a little while it got to a decent reveal near the end, but in trying to do too many things it didn’t stick the landing on any of them (“twenty” should have been a far larger panel, that was deep). Worth watching to see if it can keep up, and the last page surprise was something else, but this issue fell short of the mark.

“Infamous Iron Man” #5 has a last page that’s just wrong. It could be the most messed up thing that’s ever crossed Victor von Doom’s very complex life. Most of the story, told via flashbacks, is just a very tense conversation over some intense magical blasts. That’s not si great. That last page, though, will have you rushing past this issue and looking for the next one (if you know the character, but if you don’t you’ll be like, “what does that even mean?”).

“Old Guard” #1 had a great premise and action packed, effective art but little in the way of characterization.

“Solo” #5 was cute as it wrapped up the entire storyline with the titular character hiding undercover and exposing a crime that was far larger than he anticipated. Good art, good framing device, but ultimately it felt like a swing and a near miss.

The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Champions” #1.MU, “Revolutionaries” #2, “Hulk” #3, “Batgirl” #8, “Divinity III Stalinverse” #3, “Scarlet Witch” #15, “Teen Titans” #5, “Pathfinder Worldscape” #5, “Spider-Woman” #16, “Blue Beetle” #6, “Star Trek Green Lantern Volume 2 Stranger Worlds” #3, “Prowler” #5 “Tank Girl Gold” #4, “Jim Henson’s The Power Of The Dark Crystal” #1, “Doctor Who The Third Doctor” #5, “Spider-Gwen” #17, “Wonder Woman” #17, “Harbinger Renegade” #4, “Uncanny Avengers” #20, “Hellblazer” #7, “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency The Salmon Of Doubt” #5, “Flash” #17, “Motro” #4, “Avengers” #4.1, “Batman Beyond” #5, “Quantum Teens Are Go” #1, “Amazing Spider-Man” #24, “Detective Comics” #951, “Aliens Vs Predator Life And Death” #3, “Letter 44” #30, “Deadpool The Duck” #4, “Highlander The American Dream” #1, “Mighty Captain Marvel” #2, “Mega Princess” #4, “Sun Bakery” #1, “Hellblazer” #7, “Optimus Prime” #4, “Fix” #8, “Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps” #15, “Elektra” #1, “Serenity No Power In The ‘Verse” #5, “Thanos” #4, “Future Quest” #10, “Ghost Rider” #4, “Few” #2, “Spider-Man Deadpool” #14, “Suicide Squad” #12, “Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur” #16, “Darkness Visible” #1, “Great Lakes Avengers” #5, “Justice League Of America” #1, “Beauty” #12, “Action Comics” #974, “Captain America Steve Rogers” #12.

No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
In “Black Panther” #11, a civil war is fought in the most technologically advanced nation on earth … with AK-47s, Americanized fatigues and a decidedly untechnological approach. Tone deaf and embarrassingly post-colonial in a setting that was never colonized, dialogue consisted of pompous pronouncements intended for gravitas but left empty. If this were the Red Lion, it’d make sense, but here it feels like Vader and Luke going at each other with clanging metal swords, that Wakanda is just Nigeria or Liberia with better consumer electronics.

“Extraordinary X-Men” #19 decided that the big crossover that has everyone so worked up was unimportant enough for one of the best combatants to take multiple breaks during the big battle to try and settle some old business. Weirdly off topic, this digression failed to have any kind of conclusion or move the story very far.


Two bad books can’t stop this train.


All those jumps easily beat Wakanda In Name Only and Make Mutants Mediocre.


In addition to the stellar “Menthu: The Anger of Angels” weekly web comic (one page per week, free every Monday), get ready for “Project Wildfire: Street Justice” to kick off once a week, starting next Wednesday with some great new characters to thrill and astonish.

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!

the buy pile
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