Detective Work, Space Battles & New Jersey


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 ...


Captain Marvel #13

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

This issue is a thrilling, savvy adventure in space, using fairly believable science mixed with clever dialogue and solid pacing to tell a spaceborne yarn worth noting. Carol Danvers is stuck in an impossible situation, desperate to rescue her friends and unable to use her prodigious super powers to her advantage. What follows is clever, creative and cunning derring-do with no fewer than four "yes!" moments in the plot. Fine work by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Warren Ellis, David Lopez and Lee Loughridge.

Shaft #4

(Dynamite Entertainment)

In a shocking shift, this issue let up from the stream of comics that were dazzling to settle into being just really good. John Shaft is early in his career, with solid quotables and an explosive talent for violence. However, due to a tragedy hanging over his head and the mundane nature of detective work, the pacing here is a touch slower and makes for an abrupt ending. Writer David Walker has a masterful and enjoyable command of the lead character that is never, for a single panel, uninteresting. Art team Bilquis Everly and Daniela Miwa make the Harlem of the 1970s tangible and visceral. Overall a very good book, on it's first month as a "buy on sight" title, just not awe-inspiring like the three issues before.

Ms. Marvel #13

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

The domain of the teenaged hero can be an awkward milieu in which to work, but somehow writer G. Willow Wilson has perfectly crafted a single story where everything goes wrong in the right ways and right in even better ways. Takeshi Miyazawa, Ian Herring and Irma Kniivila bring forth a dynamic, richly involved New Jersey (and Attilan) and with only the possible exception of the antagonist (who had her merits once she got past her cliched opening gambit) it's rock solid. Enjoyable work with a heartstring-tuggingly perfect ending.


Very enjoyable stuff from top notch creative teams.


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

After two issues at a breakneck pace, "Star Wars" #3 was merely good instead of being great -- a luxury a "buy on sight" comic can afford, but an achievement this series was a month shy of unlocking. Han and Leia had some fun moments, and both Luke and Vader had some big action scenes ... but there's the rub. John Cassaday and Laura Martin kept the "camera" very close to the subjects, so when Vader and Luke are chopping the hell out of heavy armor, you barely get a sense of the scope and impact of it. Likewise, the "chase" scene lacked the impetus of previous issues. Still good, but just not as good.

"Casanova Acedia" #2 is a challenge, because it is both engaging and confounding. It lacks the clarity and panache of the first issue and has a weird melancholy that didn't work as well. The titular character seemed strangely absent from the issue, even when he was on panel, and even the book itself noted that it Episode 1 Darth Maul-ed a segment. Not quite up to snuff.

The Bat isn't always around, and "Detective Comics Endgame" #1 shows what can happen when the citizens of Gotham stick together ... along with some help from Stephanie Brown. A teenaged hacker called Lonnie hooks up with some teenaged do-gooders on an impossible mission, to duck through Joker toxin-laced streets and save Lonnie's stripper mom from drug crazed mob hitmen, surrounding her place of work. It's an okay story that, oddly enough, would have worked well as an episode of an animated series like "Beware The Batman," but its hook was just shy of working well enough in the periodical realm.

"Amazing Spider-Man Special" #1 has a number of truly top notch Peter Parker one liners, but its plot -- Attilan under attack by mysterious flying island with angry airborne monsters -- is the stuff "meh" is made from. Like Neal MacDonough in almost everything not Marvel-related, Spidey is so much better than the material and almost every character around him. Fans of Webhead may find this a swinging good time, but it doesn't have enough happening for anyone else.

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

"Spider-Man And The X-Men" #4, "Rachel Rising" #32, "Deadpool" #43, "Postal" #2, "Earth 2 World's End" #23, "Spider-Man 2099" #10, "King Flash Gordon" #2, "Walking Dead" #138, "Thor" #6, "Green Lantern Corps" #40, "Amazing Spider-Man" #16, "Bill And Ted's Most Triumphant Return" #1, "Miles Morales The Ultimate Spider-Man" #11, "Shutter" #10, "Silver Surfer" #10, "Justice League United" #10, "Superior Iron Man" #6, "New Vampirella" #10, "Fantastic Four" #644, "Ghosted" #18, "Klarion" #6, "Ninjak" #1, "Action Comics" #40, "Magnus Robot Fighter" #12, "All-New X-Men" #37, "Grimm Fairy Tales" #108, "X" #23, "Batman Eternal" #49, "Unity" #16, "Surface" #1, "Guardians Team-Up" #2, "Southern Cross" #1, "New 52 Futures End" #45, "Sidekick" #10, "Legenderry Vampirella" #2, "Spider-Gwen" #2, "New Suicide Squad" #8, "Star Trek" #43, "Astro City" #21, "Spawn Resurrection" #1, "Pathfinder Origins" #2, "Worlds' Finest" #32, "Howard The Duck" #1, "Universe" #2, "Constantine" #23, "East Of West" #18, "Ant-Man" #3.

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

Filed under "wildly derivative," as Marvel grows closer to the tedious and retrograde crossovers their solicitations threaten, "New Avengers" #31 has writer Jonathan Hickman (who's really good in some other places) liberally sampling from the works of Shooter and Herbert as a familiar face follows the practices of the Bene Gesserit, Doctor Strange falls for something Billy Batson has gotten whacked with multiple times and a host of nameless foot soldiers, each allegedly a weapon of mass destruction, are swept aside like crackling autumn leaves. We can do better. We can.


... ehhh, not bad.


Two jumps handily beats one bad book, even when they're all from the same company.


"Soulfire Sourcebook" #1. In stores March 25. Very much worth seeing.

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, the official guide to the flagship franchise for 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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