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 DECEMBER 20, 2017
Batman #37 (DC Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. This issue is, in a word, immaculate. The character work done as Clark Kent, Selina Kyle, Lois Lane and Bruce Wayne switch costumes to attend a "superhero night" county fair almost levitates off the page, from its crafty usage of nine panel grids (check the adaptation with the overlay) to the enormously high production values to the perfectly established final page. If you're okay seeing two couples talk, eat and have a double date, this is likely a must-have. If that's not quite enough for you, this may fall just short of your mark. but seeing Lois Lane befriend Catwoman while Supes and Bats genuinely try to out testosterone each other is very, very engaging. Tom King, Clay Mann, Seth Mann, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles deliver a supremely enjoyable and largely self-contained issue.
Transformers Till All Are One Annual 2017 (IDW Publishing)
Jump from the Read Pile. Whoa. The centerpiece here is an election to decide who will rule post-war Cybertron, a planet full of giant transforming robots, many of whom are new to the world and all of whom don't know what the future looks like. There's so much that's great about comics in this issue, from the hard Thatcher-esque candidate willing to talk acceptable losses to the tragic, amazing characterization of Starscream, who is so much more than anyone ever believed he could be (even himself). At the center, fan-created character Windblade reading from the Book of Rorschach, delivering truth without compromise whenever she can. Writer Mairghread Scott has crafted a rising, inspirational tale that puts the last nail in the traditional view of the Decepticon movement, showing how much more nuanced the war was (building on the James Robert work therein). The intimate, almost delicate and detailed artwork of Sara Pitre-Durocher, Joana LaFuente and Tom B. Long gave this work surprising gravitas, especially in the quiet moments (a bar, a jail cell). This is a fantastic surprise.
Doctor Aphra #15 (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. The Doctor is in and it's well worth your time and money. Doctor Aphra has occupied a delightful Bizarro place in the franchise -- a morally bankrupt mix of Leia and Han, accompanied by twisted reflections of Artoo, Chewbacca and most delightfully, Threepio in the torturebot called Triple-Zero. The latter has taken over an entire criminal syndicate and turned the tables, now forcing Aphra to call him "master." He sends her on a dangerous mission with a crew full of characters that would be very comfortable at Mos Eisley Spaceport and so many wonderful twists and turns of plot and dialogue await. As if that wasn't good enough, an Imperial reflection of Aphra exists that is both attracted to her and determined to hunt her down, which leads to even more wonderful characterization and wickedness. This is a book chock full of horrible people doing terrible things for the worst possible reasons, and it almost could not be more entertaining. The work of Kieron Gillen, Si Spurrier, Emilio Laiso, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joe Caramagna sparkles, shines and yes, sometimes explodes. This is great, classic trilogy-era Star Wars for the kids on the naughty list.
Justice League #35 (DC Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. In an enormously difficult balancing act, this issue manages the serio-comic threat of an alien infestation, addresses four very disparate and effective pieces of characterization (Flash, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Batman) while creating an overarching "meta" plot to drive the reader towards the next issue. The great and mighty are made personal and humane as Wonder Woman struggles mightily with losing her sword while the team works together to save San Francisco from being destroyed. Add to that a great dose of science from The Flash and this issue stands up to scrutiny. Writer Christopher Priest eschews some of his more avant garde flourishes for a relentlessly paced, effectively plotted and wonderfully depicted (courtesy of Pete Woods and Willie Schubert) issue that just plain works. The Justice League working effectively as an ensemble, like Hill Street Blues or Top 10. More, please.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
There were four jumps? That's epic in this economy ...