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 MARCH 29, 2017
Occupy Avengers #5 (Marvel Comics)
Hawkeye, as the central factor here, is deeply entertaining as he literally stumbles into the crappiest possible situation (literally!) in America. The layered, crafty plot from David F. Walker does great things with the characters, especially the ascerbic genius Tilda Johnson and the fish out of water Red Wolf, while Clint Barton makes a better Dirk Gently than anyone on TV or in comics. The patient, certain artwork from Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles worked perfectly here. This comic sneaks up on you and effectively hits every mark.
Transformers Lost Light #4 (IDW Publishing)
There are two stories here, each somehow balanced perfectly. On one hand, Megatron and Rodimus have a team of mechanoids in an alternate universe fighting against impossible odds that, in a way, validate the original cause that rallied the Decepticons. On the other hand, a separate group are on the planet for dead Transformers trying to hold everything together. On both sides, characters struggle with agonizing decisions over love or principle while millions of lives hang in the balance. Writer James Roberts masterfully manages characterization and plot, spectacle and storytelling, while the art from Jack Lawrence, Joana LaFuente and Tom B. Long make the emotions of giant robots real and their struggles matter.
Grand Passion #4 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Jump from the Read Pile. A crook and a cop are falling in love as a squad of crooked cops closes in on them. Simple enough, right? Writer James Robinson makes the ballad of Mac and Mabel virtually sing with charm and effectiveness. The sexy first third perfectly balances the character work that needed doing while the last two thirds are a spandex-tight plot. Kudos also to the visual team of Tom Feister, Dave Curiel and Simon Bowland.
M.A.S.K. Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #4 (IDW Publishing)
Jump from the Read Pile. This issue had an enormously clever plot twist, using all the toys in the toybox, as the oft-underestimated Matt Trakker squares off against the decades of preparation Miles "Mayhem" brings to bear. As well, you've got to see some of the action scenes, which leap off the page with dynamics and energy. The creative team of Brandon Easton, Tony Vargas, Jordi Escuin and Gilberto Lazcano leave it all on the field with this creative, savvy installment that resolves its own plot while moving the larger story forward.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
A complex collage of emotions, consequences and gunfire to entertain and delight! Wonderful!
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Ladycastle" #2 was close to making it home on its strong sense of moxie. The plot's conclusion was a little too facile, the characterization a bit too cursory, but it had a charm that compelled.
"All-New X-Men" #19 cements another wildly ridiculous retcon into continuity with fervor while doing next to nothing plot wise. A bad wiki entry turned comic book, this "story" is nothing like one.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened ...
"Divinity III Stalinverse" #4, "Infamous Iron Man" #6, "Rom" #8, "Harley's Little Black Book" #6, "Spider-Woman" #17, "Star Trek Boldly Go" #6, "Doc Savage Ring Of Fire" #1, "Adam Strange Future Quest Special" #1, "Mighty Captain Marvel" #3, "Joyride" #11, "Postal" #19, "Ninjak" #25, "Ghost Rider" #5, "Cosmic Scoundrels" #2, "Thanos" #5, "Justice League Of America" #3, "Deadpool And The Mercs For Money" #9, "G.I. JOE A Real American Hero" #238, "Mayday" #5, "Batgirl Annual" #1, "X-Men Prime" #1, "Aliens Vs Predator Life And Death" #4, "Transformers Till All Are One" #8, "Booster Gold The Flintstones Special" #1, "James Bond Hammerhead" #6, "Generation Zero" #8, "Old Man Logan" #20, "Kamandi Challenge" #3, "WWE Wrestlemania 2017 Special" #1, "Avengers" #5.1, "Hadrian's Wall" #5, "Man-Thing" #2, "Titans Annual" #1, "Jem And The Holograms" #24, "Star-Lord" #5, "Dark Knight III The Master Race" #8, "Serenity No Power In The 'Verse" #6, "Black Widow" #12, "Green Lantern Space Ghost Special" #1, "Thunderbolts" #11, "Old Guard" #2, "Unfollow" #17, "Orphan Black Deviations" #1, "Lazarus" #26, "Inhumans Prime" #1.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
In "Suicide Squad Banana Splits Special" #1, forget about the lead story. Seriously, when it's not boring, it's insulting. Forget about that completely. The back up story, about Snagglepuss of all characters, is Tennessee Williams by way of Spider Jerusalem, in a very small space tells more truth than most cable news channels. It's like that "Newsroom" pilot episode: bold, aspirational and wild-eyed. Let's see if that comic can tell stories in the way the "Flintstones" comic failed to do. Oh, but yeah, that lead story sucked.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Eh ... it could have been worse.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Four solid buys outshine underperforming reads and one bad book. Let's call this week a win.
Heading to Wondercon this weekend? You can find this columnist in room 208 on Sunday at 2:30PM with some news about a new project.
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!