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 APRIL 27, 2016
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #52
This issue was good, even though it did belabor the point. A group of wackjob giant robots are waiting for the sun to go down so they can defend a group of comatose organic creatures from some of the most dangerous lifeforms ever to come from the planet Cybertron, including the Decepticon's internal affairs department and a cheery guy named "Deathsaurus." Along the road, a silent stalker gets in some good laughs, a fan favorite kidnaps an animal and lots of characters feel bad about stuff that happened before. If you love this series like this column loves this series, this is all fascinating stuff. If you're here for the brain-busting science fiction and in-depth world building this series pioneered, well, that stuff is taking a month off. Nothing at all wrong, especially if you're enraptured by the re-eduction of Megatron, but there are a lot of plates spinning and if you don't know each one intimately, lots of this might slip by you.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7
As amazing as it is to say, given some of the stuff this character has done, this in fact is the strangest issue of Squirrel Girl's adventures ever. A "choose-your-fate" styled book (without all that "turn to page blah blah" foolishness), Squirrel Girl tangles with her most dangerous foe yet -- someone else who can do research on who they're fighting. This leads to a complex team-up, several red herrings and Galactus eating cake. Maybe 25% less funny than normal months, but superbly ambitious and riveting to follow.Â
Jump from the Read Pile.
A young man with Asperger's syndrome is put into an impossible position, forced to play nice with someone who hurt his closest friend. The idea he uses to balance the equation is wicked and delightful, a crafty tale of vengeance and purpose that writer Bryan Hill delivers, ruthlessly. The languid visual storytelling of Isaac Goodhart, Betsy Gonia and Troy Peteri perfectly depicts this satisfying story, fulfilling the old English teacher's commandment of making the ending inevitable and surprising. Chock full of spoilers and severity, this will make you feel bad for having such a good time and is worth every minute of it.Â
All-New Wolverine #7
Jump from the Read Pile.
A visit from Squirrel Girl got this book a ride home in what the title character described as "one of my favorite team-ups." To explain why the heroine formerly known as X-23 teamed with one of her clone-dad's exes (look it up) is too ridiculous to explain in a review, but aside from everything making a deluded kind of Squirrel-Girl sense, there are three legitimate "laugh out loud" moments and a great emotional core to a story much smarter than your average Wolverine romp. Refreshing work from Tom Taylor, Marcio Takara, Jordan Boyd and Cory Petit.Â
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Two jumps and very re-readable books makes for a rock solid start to the week.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Saga" #36 had a moment so good and so pure that it doesn't just tug your heart strings, it straps them to a rocket car and stomps on the accelerator. There's also a moment of tension that's superlative. However, much of the book is just kind of okay, and as stories go, it zoomed past its climax and robbed all of that of impact with a cliffhanger denouement. Pacing troubles, but still some stuff worth seeing here.
"Ultimates" #6 felt like it was warming up to do something truly spectacular but instead used its carefully considered framing device to ask more questions. 2/3 of this issue were gripping and pulled the reader to the edge of their seat only to not quench that desire for spectacle and magnificence in their "most cosmic issue yet" where most of the main characters barely even showed up. Ambitious, but flawed.
Despite three good dialogue moments, the din and disaster of "Transformers Sins Of The Wreckers" #4 did itself in with size changing physics and psychotic breaks guiltily recalled. The titular history of the team of robots does in fact haunt them, leading to the spilling of fluids and violence aplenty, but the plot can't slow down enough to let any of the moments land, hell bent on rushing towards next issue's conclusion. There's a moment of clarity for the master manipulator Prowl that didn't have a second to even air out before more running and shooting. Not bad, but too rushed for its own good.
"Squadron Supreme" #6 had some great moments -- one in an office, some in montages that might have made for convincing stories by themselves -- but had a plot that drifted too far and didn't deliver a coherent narrative to engage with. Great art, good ideas, execution that could use some refinement.Â
The best part of "Omega Men" #11 was the impassioned speech by character named Primus, a formally nonviolent protester to who decided that he had made a graphic mistake. As he and the rest of the Omega Men attempted to ascend to the highest points in their respective societies, their campaign against an oppressive regime took on an epic quality. Unfortunately, it also took on a monotonous quality, which is a surprise for this truly groundbreaking series. Everybody has an off day, though, and this apparently is the one for the Omega Men.
"Spider-Woman" #6 had an awesome scene right out of "Kill Bill," with domestic mayhem wonderfully drawn and colored. The book itself, however, wasted the opportunity of a teenaged Black Reed Richards on Earth-65 (Secret Wars? Didn't touch all those Spider-Verse worlds, nice try Victor) and ended weakly.
Imagine the tension of the original "Running Man" from the "Bachman Books," superimposed on our modern reality television-soaked world of too much money in too few hands and you'll get a taste of "Killbox" #1, a game for the desperate with rules that are ironclad. The characters, however, are paper thin and their motivations are stereotypical. With more dynamic artwork, perhaps this could have been something, but it's just a cut above "meh" due to its intriguing concept, derivative though it may be.
"Doctor Strange Last Days Of Magic" #1 introduces some fun new characters (while having Doctor Voodoo continue to be bad at his job) but ultimately was a slice of a moment between panels of "Doctor Strange" #7, itself found in our "meh" section below.
"Injection" #9 was more interesting moments and amusing quips but its plot tread water and felt like little happened, especially when something was clearly happening. Not bad, but it could use some impetus.Â
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult"Vikings" #1, "Star Wars" #18, "Deathstroke" #17, "Angela Queen Of Hel" #7, "Superzero" #5, "Carnage" #7, "Batgirl" #51, "Mythic" #8, "Drax" #6, "Street Fighter X G.I. JOE" #3, "Grayson" #19, "Faith" #1, "Batman" #51, "Roche Limit Monadic" #2, "Pathfinder Hollow Mountain" #6, "Harley Quinn" #27, "Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur" #6, "Assassin's Creed Templars" #2, "Wynonna Earp" #3, "Black Canary" #11, "Velvet" #14, "Star-Lord" #6, "Actionverse" #3, "Jacked" #6, "We Are Robin" #11, "Amazing Spider-Man" #11, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Red Agent" #4, "Independence Day" #2, "Old Man Logan" #5, "Justice League" #49, "Ghostbusters International" #4, "Daredevil" #6, "Justice League 3001" #11, "Four Eyes Hearts Of Fire" #4, "Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man Contest Of Champions" #2, "Bill And Ted Go To Hell" #3, "Dream Police" #9, "Superman Wonder Woman" #28, "Micronauts" #1, "Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat" #5, "Vikings" #1, "Venom Space Knight" #6, "Circuit-Breaker" #2, "Avengers Standoff Assault On Pleasant Hill Omega" #1, "Secret Six" #13, "X-Files" #1, "International Iron Man" #2, "Sinestro" #22, "Low" #13, "Suicide Squad Most Wanted Deadshot And Katana" #4, "Ms. Marvel" #6, "Imperium" #15, "Cyborg" #10, "Doctor Strange" #7.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
The greatest tragedy of the ambitiously conceived "Strange Fruit" #3 is not the fact that it's dull, is not the fact that its characters are flat and practically unidimensional. No, the greatest tragedy is the assemblage of talent here working on an unworkable idea, like buying into a money pit house, or the Royal Shakespeare Company re-staging the solitary episode of "Emily's Reasons Why Not." Ill conceived, tediously executed, politically suicidal... there's precious little to like about this issue.
"Sex" #27 is also terrible, but for stranger reasons. A widow seizing her own power is oddly fetishistic for no plausible reason. A revealed secret shows how poorly the arguable protagonist is at being a Captain Ersatz version of Bruce Wayne. A possibly interesting sub plot about a spurned sidekick gets short-shrifted. There are also visuals here that you can't unsee, in a "Red Woman getting in bed" kind of way, that don't move the story along. Troubling material here.Â
"Dark Knight III The Master Race" #4 was an incoherent beat sheet with a couple of ideas masquerading as a story. When you can look at that execrable Cavill/Affleck movie and say, "This made that look almost all right," you know something went off the rails and a firmer editorial hand was needed to make an actual story out of this michegas. Boring visually, tedious at the script level, and wholly inconclusive.Â
Trading in the broadest of stereotypes, "Power Lines" #2 tries to connect the dots between communities that might as well be on different planets. However, like this week's other thought piece book "Strange Fruit," the characters are flat and unremarkable and the plot could use some of the pep its creator used in "Five Weapons." Disappointing.Â
"Sex Criminals" #15 has a whole section where it all but says its creators don't want to do the actual work of delivering the story and skip ahead to a part they find more interesting. That's bad storytelling. It doesn't matter how cute the "this guy"/"this girl" part was, or how well drawn the book is, it has serious structural flaws that are problematic in the least and dangerously pretentious in the worst. Guh.Â
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Whoa. Five bad books? When's the last time that happened? Wow, that's rough as hell.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Five bad books is very hard to overcome even with two jumps, so overall the week goes in the "loss" column.
Did you catch this fly podcast appearance? That went pretty well.
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 "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 and "Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook" #1, 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!