WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (two-time Eisner-winning journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated.com) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock -- hey Steve, Jason, Vince and Quislet) and 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 1, 2013
In the land of Indian Fables, the weak are endangered and most of the men have left to fight against the evil magical forces of the Adversary, unlikely to return. One brave woman stands against the opportunists and monsters who remain, but even she can only do so much, so she recounts the story of her quest for assistance ... with quite a twist ending. In many cases ("New Avengers" for example), meetings about stuff that happened don't really make it work, but here the flashbacks are more like the ones in the movie "Hero," with actual action and character development. Solid work from writer Sean E. Williams with art by Stephen Sadowski, Phil Jimenez and Andrew Dalhouse.
Ten Grand #1
Jump from the Read Pile.
With the framing device of "The Booth At The End" and the kind of client relationship you'd find in "Human Target" (taken too soon), a killer strikes an unexpected deal with supernatural powers and tints noirish storytelling with magical realism. Deftly drawn by Ben Templesmith and written wonderfully by the talented J. Michael Straczynski, this has a wonderfully mean quality to it and the gruff protagonist Joe has a heartbreaking motivation driving him. Heck yeah!
Jump from the Read Pile.
There's a very strong performance by incredible intelligences, from the hero Thinkwell (who hacks into a mode of transplanetary teleportation by using two of his friends, while super criminal Sublime frames the issue with his brilliance and aplomb in the "present" and his past. Add to that a great action sequence (labeling the weapons of the future helped a lot) and a twist ending that really changed the perceptions of a lot of the status quo. Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have kept this title in good shape, and this issue they stepped the game up with artwork by Tom Derenick, Andres Guinaldo and Stephen Downer. Great science fiction with solid character work.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Heck of a start, at an affordable price.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
If you liked the stylings of Christopher J. Priest, you might enjoy "Batwing" #20, which apes the style efficiently. However, it relied heavily on cliches, gave an African male name to a female character and has a cipher as a lead character.
"Polarity" #2 was cute and funny in a "TV good" kind of way, with a Brooklyn hipster painter coping with having super powers that only kick in due to his bipolar disorder. Lots of great quips and snark, but it takes a long time to get going.
"47 Ronin" #4 will still be better in a collected edition as it plays out a rope-a-dope scenario with honor going undercover in the shape of shame. Sakai's art is clear but Richardson's plot is also very, very slow.
If you're already reading the books or watching the show, "George R.R. Martin's A Game Of Thrones" #14 will likely seem easy enough to follow, but the book covers no new ground and simply repackages that material. If that's what you want, sure, go for it.
"Abe Sapien" #2 is a sadly plausible look at how society falls in upon itself after a major crisis as the titular character deals with trying to discover who he is outside of his work at BPRD. Depressing work, but skillfully written and rendered.
"Movement" #1 wasn't bad despite a very slow first third and some fairly offbeat elements ("The Prince of Rats?"). It was ambitious, though, with an organized effort to be a check on abuses of power that's part cult and part Anonymous. It may need to find its footing, but it's an interesting start.
"Mars Attacks" #10 had a cute story with a good emotional climax, though its vengeful antagonist had paper thin characterization and the unfortunate cliches built into the property couldn't be escaped.
"Spider" #11 had a good, but rushed, plot. However, its skimpy characterization (especially with having two antagonists on hand) really let it down as much as the lacking action pieces.
"Detective Comics" #20 finally resolves the issue of the Emperor Penguin in way, way too speedy a fashion, using only the least effective and overused methods to try and characterize him, splicing his modus operandi together from pieces of other villains. The Bat? Perfunctory at best. Not bad.
"Sesame Street I Is For Imagination" #1 is good, harmless fun for kids.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"All-New X-Men" #11, "Black Bat" #1, "Activity" #12, "Dungeons And Dragons Forgotten Realms Cutter" #2, "Artifacts" #27, "Cyborg 009" #1, "Red Sonja Unchained" #2, "Superior Spider-Man" #9, "Blackacre" #6, "X-Men Legacy" #10, "Joe Palooka" #6, "Snapshot" #4, "Winter Soldier" #18, "Michael Avon Oeming's The Victories" #1, "Son Of Merlin" #4, "Age Of Ultron" #7, "Garfield" #13, "Spawn" #231, "Vampirella Strikes" #5, "Mister X Eviction" #1, "Invincible Universe" #2, "Army Of Darkness" #13, "Red She-Hulk" #65, "Mice Templar IV Legend" #2, "Star Wars Dark Times Fire Carrier" #4, "Indestructible Hulk #7," "Transformers Spotlight Hoist" #1, "Hawkeye" #10, "Worlds' Finest" #12, "Ultimate Comics X-Men" #26, "Savage Dragon" #187, "Green Arrow" #20, "Kevin Smith's The Bionic Man" #19, "Colonized" #2, "Earth 2" #12, "68 Jungle Jim" #2, "Aquaman" #19, "X-Factor" #255, "Harbinger Wars" #2, "Action Comics" #20, "Iron Man" #9, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents The Jungle Book Last Of The Species" #3.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Stormwatch" #20 ruined Lobo. Imagine everything the average fan liked about Lobo, and strip it away senselessly for something much, much crappier. Then paste in a messy plot introducing random aliens and trying to shoehorn in some lame take on the Kree/Skrull War. Then, just for fun, try even harder to make it awful. You'd have this issue. Dammit.
As bad as that was, it wasn't as terrible as "Thanos Rising" #2. Not content to leave well enough alone, the mad god actually says -- and this is a quote -- "this ... wretched thing that I am. All I ever wanted was someone to love. And someone to love me back." Thanos, dawg! COME ON, ALREADY WITH THIS MISHEGAS! Facile and tedious, wholly mundane in a life that should be anything but, this is relentlessly, mercilessly bad.
"Miss Fury" #2 was terrible, a messy melange of time travel, Nazi insinuations and fetish gear. It's really not good.
"Dial H" #12 was like a bad acid trip. Open Window Man? The Dial Bunch? WTH?
"Epic Kill" #10 was, inexplicably, even worse. After months of impossible murders and felonious assaults, how about we just toss in some super powers and time travel? How would that make it? Terrible? Right.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Let's say the jumps beat the stinkers. Just 'cause.
"Red Ten" #3 was sold out, so there was no chance to check it out. Hm.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
There were some really bad books, so let's call this a wash.
As of right now, you can spend ten bucks and get about 175,000 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. 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. 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!