Gillen & McKelvie Are Playing Your Song


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 ...


Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #2

(Image Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

This issue takes Rob Gordon's query from "High Fidelity" -- "Which came first, the music or the misery?" -- to wholly new and iconic levels as it summons up the ghost of Martha Quinn and Mark Goodman and swishes them around in a pot of hateful nostalgia and brilliant concepts. A girl sold half her soul to be amazing, and the other half is taking its revenge on her life while she's tormented by 1980s music videos. What about that couldn't be awesome? To see some of the most memorable visuals of the '80s reinterpreted with all their menace and subtext intact is a feat of magicianship that surely proves Kieron Gillen is some kind of unholy wizard, with Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cowles a triumvirate of Fates, visually delivering this delicacy. Almost every panel thrums with vibrancy and wickedness, and that's just about perfect.


Fantastic start.


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

Another one for the "embarrassment of riches" file, "Darth Vader" #9 has three core plots to juggle -- Vader's rivalry with would-be new replacements, covering up a massive heist he pulled off and managing his murderous plenipotentiaries. In the second, the titular character makes the best showing, with his distinctive brand of menace shining through. The last subplot has a twist that only works with the truly dyed-in-the-wool fans and the rivals ... meh. Gorgeous looking, still not finding its balance between the needs of establishing a status quo and the fanservice that makes the story fly.

"Long Distance" #4 dragged a bit but came on strong at the end, and this will all play better in a collected edition probably. The smart use of color was rather clever, the characters work (except for the lagging part where one stopped engaging in the narrative)

"B**** Planet" #5 was an improvement with a LOT of character and plot development, fleshing out supporting characters, driving along the larger narrative and doing some great action scenes along the way. However, in depicting the casual racism of the milieu, did it go too far in its rendering? Is the shocking development near the end too far? Okay, probably not for the last one, but the questions raised here make this issue a little bit of an uncomfortable choice, one that devoted fans may not struggle with as much.

"Letter 44" #20 took a significantly unusual turn but drove all over every lane in the process of getting there. Messy but ambitious, plot driven but too speedy.

"Quake S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary" #1 would be the best episode of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." ever as Daisy Johnson goes into the field for the first time. With elements from comics and TV continuity mixed together, this issue was almost good enough to make it home had it not relied so heavily on cliches and simple set pieces. Make this a Cap and Daisy book, you'd have something.

"Legacy Of Luther Strode" #3 has absolutely breathtaking action sequences, one of the coolest pistol wranglers since Jamie Foxx wore a ruffled shirt, and maybe about a thimble full of plot to spread across its pages. Spectacle, glorious spectacle, but far more sizzle than steak.

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

"Red Skull" #3, "Walking Dead" #146, "Bunker" #14, "A-Force" #4, "Gotham Academy" #10, "Secret Wars 2099" #5, "Tyson Hesse's Diesel" #1, "Ms Marvel" #18, "Ninjak" #7, "Action Comics" #44, "Gravedigger" #2, "Civil War" #4, "TET" #1, "Batman Superman" #24, "Giant-Size Little Marvel AvX" #4, "Lantern City" #5, "King Tiger" #2, "Archon" #2, "Justice League United" #13, "Mrs Deadpool And The Howling Commandos" #4, "Insufferable" #5, "Star Trek Green Lantern" #3, "Planet Hulk" #5, "Wicked + The Divine" #14, "1602 Witch Hunter Angela" #3, "Americatown" #2, "Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor" #11, "Faster Than Light" #1, "BOY-1" #2, "Unity" #22, "Mirror's Edge Exordium" #1, "Siege" #3, "Atomic Robo And The Ring Of Fire" #1, "Swords Of Sorrow" #5, "Holy F*cked" #1, "Catwoman" #44, "Red Sonja Conan" #2, "New Suicide Squad" #12, "Sleepy Hollow Providence" #2, "Korvac Saga" #4, "Starfire" #4, "King Mandrake The Magician" #4, "Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows" #5, "Red Hood Arsenal" #4, "Onyx" #2, "Death Sentence London" #4, "Earth 2 Society" #4, "Savior" #6, "Journey To Star Wars The Force Awakens Shattered Empire" #1.

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

"Batman" #44 is less a story than an indictment of the failures of modern society as the titular detective indirectly sets in motion a chain of events that left a teenager dead and a mystery to be solved. Despite his prejudices, Batman (classic, not new) tracks the clues and brushes past the hot button issues of today in a fashion that's cavalier at best. Clumsy and tedious in character, facile and tone deaf in plotting, abstract and artsy visually, this book is a flag without a country and wholly disappointing for everyone involved.

"Bloodstrike" #2 is less a bad book -- which it is, from its testosterone laden posturing to its needless profanity -- than a scary reminder of an industry now hopefully dead and gone. So unidimensional and tediously told that it's embarrassing.


Ehhh ... not that bad.


Despite the fact the bad books technically outnumbered the purchases, the strength of some of the Honorable Mentions, trying to find their way and getting closer, made the week worth reading.


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 and "Soulfire Sourcebook" #1, the official guide to the Aspen Comics franchises. 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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