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 OCTOBER 21, 2015
Astro City #28
Examining the danger of believing too hard in heroes, this self-contained issue took a look at an Australian hero called Wolfspider who grew up bathed in a television show’s glow, separated from the world he came to protect. Looking at how he came to join the Honor Guard and his origin story, examining the unique pathos of someone whose powers robbed him of a normal childhood, this issue is a textbook example of how to tell a superhero story, a skillful symposium put on by master instructor Kurt Busiek and the art team of Gary Chaloner, Wade von Grawbadger, John Roshell, Albert Deschesne, Jimmy Betancourt and Wendy Broome.
Oxymoron: The Loveliest Nightmare #2
Jump from the Read Pile.
Brilliant. Despite the fact that the flashiest character here looks like the love child of Warren Ellis’ Moon Knight and the Joker, the script from Tyler James and John Lees is undeniably effective. Building up the arguable protagonist, a police detective who may go too far for justice, was done with a great sense of balance as the antagonist also developed brilliantly. The issue — like the one before it — is an exercise in balance, developing every character while using those developments to drive the plot. Gritty, intriguing crime comics that work within the boundaries with an intimate, intriguing visuals from Alex Cormack and Jules Rivera.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
From solid to remarkable, that’s a good start for the week!
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Tokyo Ghost” #2 was still very good, telling more of the backstory of two probably doomed lovers in the future that simply does not care. The central conceit carries the backstory and gives the room to make sense, but the pacing loses a step and that alone lost this place in the purchase column. Let’s hope the next issue catches up to the breakneck energy of the first.
“Amazing Spider-Man” #2 was solidly done, with Peter Parker being very good at both of his jobs and working well with others. However, the antagonists got a lot more focus and they are not worth the time, people Cobra Commander wouldn’t even hire despite their funding and reach. Good but not up to the new Spider’s standard.
“Book Of Death The Fall Of X-O Manowar” #1 had a great “lump in your throat” moment at the end with a character introduced in the last third of the book. The same character laid it on thick in their first moments but it paid off. A little schmaltzy, despite some good action scenes.
“Cognetic” #1 presents far too many questions than answers, but they are interesting questions from the crew that brought the interesting questions of “Memetic.” Mind control, stacks of corpses, questions about the futility of existence … conceptually all good, but from an execution standpoint it’s a tease. This is a TPB’s opening, not a single issue, but it’s surely not bad.
Seeing a Dark Lord of the Sith tiptoe around an Imperial inspector is less rewarding than one would like in “Darth Vader” #11. Vader’s supporting cast continue to entertain him carry a lot of weight for this book, but with the type to learn lead so constrained it is a diminished entertainment experience. Fantastic art, interesting ideas, slow pace, and this is much more Anakin’s trepidation and secrecy than Vader’s clarity.
“Transformers” #46 has outstanding art, interesting character moments, and some sort of plot bubbling under the surface. However, with its arguable lead Optimus Prime experiencing an exit stencil crisis the likes of which Drive middle-age men to brightly colored sports cars, it lacks a certain drive, if you’ll pardon the pun, towards greatness. Seeing Prime flounder only raises the question of where the lost Primes went, since this guy is not stepping up to the challenge.
“Rook” #1 is very close to the mark with a temporal loop setting the stage for a time traveler and his odd group of adversaries. The lead is effective in a Shatner-esque way — Paul Gulacy’s stylistic artwork helps with that — but the largely flat antagonists detract, especially the one where such a large question is left dangling, who would have been a better opposite to the lead.
Very close to the mark for the same reasons his “Moon Knight” worked, you can see Warren Ellis’ fingerprints all over “Karnak” #1. Removed from the Inhuman royal family, he has a monastic experience and an entourage of Daniel-sans, and Phil Coulson (much more Clark Gregg and much less Army Ranger) asking for help with a kidnapped Inhuman. Karnak’s cold detachment and Zen determination were effective from a character standpoint but the page count cut the story short. Not bad, but not a significant chunk of culture.
Many of the questions that vexed this series finally got answers in “Reyn” #9 as the mix of fantasy and science is revealed. There are bigger surprises for the titular character, but the disconnected nature of the narrative doesn’t give the story room to resonate. Another one better served in collected versions, perhaps.
“Blacklist” #4 is fascinating background information on how Raymond Reddington came to become the concierge of crime. However, as a story, its pacing was too slow to be worth the money, and again this will likely play better in a collection.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
“Justice League” #45, “Weirdworld” #5, “Doctor Who The Ninth Doctor” #4, “Teen Titans” #12, “Tithe” #6,”Martian Manhunter” #5, “Beauty” #3, “Green Lantern The Lost Army” #5, “Star Trek” #50, “Uncanny Inhumans” #1, “Looking For Group” #7, “Dr Fate” #5, “Secret Wars Agents Of Atlas” #1, “Back To The Future” #1, “What If Infinity Guardians Of The Galaxy” #1, “Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor Year Two” #2, “Clean Room” #1, “Princeless Raven The Pirate Princess” #4, “Hip Hop Family Tree” #3, “Superman Wonder Woman” #22, “Voltron From The Ashes” #2, “S.H.I.E.L.D.” #11, “Titans Hunt” #1, “Danger Girl Renegade” #2, “Black Canary” #5, “Hacktivist Volume 2” #4, “Secret Six” #7, “Journey To Star Wars The Force Awakens Shattered Empire” #4, “Trancers” #1, “Bizarro” #5, “Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor” #13, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10” #20, “Invincible Iron Man” #2, “Godzilla In Hell” #4, “Batman And Robin Eternal” #3, “Age Of Apocalypse” #5.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
“Fistful Of Blood” #1 is exploitative, needlessly gratuitous, boring, devoid of characterization and without any form of logic or context. When people say bad things about comics, this is the kind of thing they point to.
“Wonder Woman” #45 had rock star artwork and a plot that bordered on the ridiculous as the arguable antagonist was a mess of inconsistent motivations, fan favorite Donna Troy had a tedious performance and the lead spent most of the issue getting punched in the face while she tried to reason with people — some war god. This isn’t working.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
It wasn’t that bad …
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Let’s call the jump better than the two bad books just because it’s better to be happy than not.
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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