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 JUNE 3, 2015
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6
This is another fantastic issue that somehow balances it all perfectly. It starts off examining the physics of a suit of armor made from squirrels, has a simply flawless “friendship montage,” lots of punching, another brilliant bit of superheroics and some of the best doggone characterization around. Ryan North’s script gives you just enough of every element, with the running narration at the bottom of the pages being an extra treat. The art from Erica Henderson, Eloise Narrington, Rico Renzi and Clayton Cowles is both goofy and structurally insightful, driving the narrative wonderfully. Superlative, funny, consistent storytelling here that embraces every ridiculous element of the genre and salutes it simultaneously.
Justice League #41
Jump from the Read Pile.
Whoa. This comic book contains a sequence, captioned over by Wonder Woman, that is possibly the most iconic sequence of the team ever. Then, there is a character driven sequence with Mister Miracle invading the heart of Apokolips that is gripping. Those amazing, powerful elements aren’t even the main point of the issue which starts with Kanto enjoying a nice glass of wine and ends with a fight scene that’s jaw dropping, all while bringing big stakes to the table. Writer Geoff Johns threw down on this issue, leaving it all on the field while not sacrificing the character moments — tension with Steve Trevor and Diana, Captain Cold’s humor, the innocence of Billy Batson. Then let’s talk about the art — Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson and Rob Leigh present a visual tableau that is cinematic and gripping, starting the intensity and 9 and cranking the knob up to eleventeen, which you can see in the side of Darkseid’s boot if nowhere else (and it’s lots of other places — Barry Allen’s mouth, Lashina, who knew?). This may be the best “Justice League” issue since Grant Morrison or Mark Waid were on the book. Astonishing.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Very, very, very rewarding books this week. That “Justice League,” though …
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Darth Vader” #6 was okay but lacked the key elements that made previous issues so great — the titular character’s ruthless efficiency and his interplay with his supporting cast, twisted mirrors of some Rebel icons we know and love. Here, another would be Motti is touting technology over the Force while introducing characters that were easily forgotten. Add to that Palpatine at a fraction of his ranting, vicious heights and the issue felt like a pulled punch. We’ll have to see if Vader gets his groove back next issue.
“Stray” #4 showed that artist Sean Isaakse is not just able to do portraits but can also deliver tooth-jarring action scenes. This final issue establishes a credible if quickly described antagonist and ties together a lot of loose threads. It felt a little rushed, as the solved mysteries and dazzling action seemed to crowd each other a bit. Still good work, but might be best in a collection.
For every good element of “Action Comics” #41, there’s a moment when you go, “Aw, why did they do that?” Clark Kent has been exposed, depowered and gotten lost in the middle of America. He has a roll of cash in a boot, can feel the realities of cold and hunger and he kind of enjoys it. That was good. The surprises he got when he returned to his Metropolis neighborhood were good. However, referring to a plot element that happens in a comic book coming out next month chafes. The disturbing imagery on the last page being wildly discordant from the popular perceptions of the character, following the Zack Snyder cinematic direction for the character rings false. Great art, great underlying spirit, disappointing choices in execution.
“Imperium” #5 was pretty close to making the mark, as an amoral CEO stuck on a science fiction submarine is out to prove it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you. The comic perfectly captures the claustrophobia and tension of living under the sea in a wartime mindstate but does so with many of its supporting characters standing around like Luke Walton. Not bad, though.
An independent-minded super powered pilot and a snarky space ship, dispensing his own brand of justice along the star ways. Yes, from first glance, “Green Lantern” #41 seems to borrow some elements of recent adventures of Carol Danvers, but there’s more at stake here as Hal Jordan is wanted by the Green Lantern Corps, apparently beat one of his colleagues to a pulp, stole an experimental GL gauntlet that has an experimental interface and grew his hair until he looked more like Gen 13’s Grunge or Scott Stapp. More bounty hunter than super hero, there’s a smidgen of scoundrel that calls on the Solo/Mal/Quill tradition and that’s entertaining if derivative. Aside from the slick looking design of Hal’s new ship, however, there’s nothing else riveting here. Worth seeing where it’s going.
“Witcher Fox Children” #3 has a compelling lead character who speaks in wise pithy phrases and has powers of observation and skill that make others wary. Unfortunately, most of the other characters in the book are as one dimensional as reality show contestants and the antagonist plays at the threat of D’onfrio’s Fisk without any of the impact. Not bad, though.
“Omega Men” #1 is … something different. Heavily leaning on Orwellian linguistic tricks and some dazzling action sequences, the Omega Men are an apparent insurgency under the thumb of a powerful regime. They have a dangerous secret that ties into the DCYou know and recognize (playing along with the marketing now) and it’s worth killing for. The pacing is breathtaking, the art (from Barnaby Bagenda, Romolo Fajardo Jr. and Pat Brosseau) is very effective and the atmosphere is engaging. What’s wrong? Well, most of the alien species here speak in a language that is not translated. Like an astromech droid, if you really focus you can kind of get the gist of it, but it’s quite an uphill climb to get to a plateau that has another climb in front of it. “We will not hurt you. We are friends.” You’ll be seeing more of that, though, and writer Tom King was quite clever in its usage. Let’s check back in on this one next month …
“Neverboy” #4 posits the idea of working people who service and protect the realm of imagination, and one dangerous and murderous visual artist who is burning it all down go fuel a Warhol-esque rise to prominence. The ideas are intriguing, but the art lacks oomph, the characters mostly lack urgency and the plot meanders.
“Nonplayer” #2 is beautifully drawn and has three or four really interesting story ideas buried in its pages. Corporate intrigues, a law enforcement division policing rogue artificial intelligence, a complex fantasy world with its own political systems and probably more. Unfortunately, there are too many ideas, traffic jamming the gorgeous art with just too much to do. This comic could have been 48 pages and it still would have needed room, which is an embarrassment of riches for the creators but still gives them room to grow.
“Star Wars” #6 had an ending that tied into the “Darth Vader” issue as Luke Skywalker battles Boba Fett in the ruins of Ben Kenobi’s Tattooine home. The issue had some good elements but the action was facile and Luke is still not very good at doing what he’s supposed to do. Gorgeous looking book, though.
If you like noirish tales of derring-do, you’ll likely sign on for “Justice Inc The Avenger” #1, a bombastic period piece with an overlay of super powers and narration straight from a Republic serial. The lead character follows the Doc Savage model, by both eschewing the barbaric standards of his time with his diverse supporting cast and likewise is the Kobe Bryant of the team, doing all the spectacular stuff while the rest kind of stand around in slack-jawed awe or needless worry. If that sort of thing is your thing, this will scratch that itch. If you find a weak supporting cast a deficit, perhaps not.
“Secret Wars” #3 is very, very compelling and very close to making the mark. It looks in on the god of Marvel’s new Battleworld, but really it’s the story of Stephen Strange — the man who turned down the responsibility. What he and his “omnipotent, not omniscient” deity didn’t account for is a whole lot of surprises from previous continuity popping up and muddying the waters. The large number of new, entertaining pieces on an already crowded playing field threw off the narrative balance but this new playground for Marvel’s characters still has seeds of possibility, like a sun orbiting the world.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
“Last Fall” #4, “Wicked + The Divine” #11, “Rat God” #5, “All-New X-Men” #41, “G.I. Joe A Real American Hero” #214, “Angel And Faith Season 10” #15, “Years Of Future Past” #1, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutanimals” #4, “Future Imperfect” #1, “Armor Wars” #1, “Swords Of Sorrow” #2, “Transformers Vs G.I. JOE” #7, “X-Tinction Agenda” #1, “Broken World” #1, “Superior Iron Man” #9, “Wonder Woman Annual” #1, “Groot” #1, “Secret Wars Battleworld” #2, “Winterworld Frozen Fleet” #2, “Guardians Team-Up” #6, “Midnighter” #1, “Uncanny Season 2” #3, “Master Of Kung Fu” #2, “Lobo” #7, “Brides Of Helheim” #6, “Princess Leia” #4, “Green Arrow” #41, “Age Of Reptiles Ancient Egyptians” #1, “Bizarro” #1, “Dead Drop” #2, “Bat-Mite” #1, “Masks 2” #3, “Spider-Woman” #8, “Batman Beyond” #1, “D4VE” #5, “Amazing Spider-Man” #18.1.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
“Giant-Size Little Marvel AvX” #1 made more sense than the actual crossover it was inspired by, but it was still overconfident in its repetitive humor and simplistic storytelling. Guh.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
The worst book of the week was only mildly annoying. That’s an enormous gift.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
No annoyance could overcome that amazing “Justice League” issue. Such a great week.
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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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