Kurt Busiek's Emotional Rollercoaster


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 ...


Astro City #17

(Vertigo/DC Comics)

You will be reading this book and think you know where it's going. You'll be reading along and thinking, "Ho hum, superheroes and punching, yadda yadda yadda." Then the last few pages come along, with the literally perfect pause after, "What must I do?" and you think, "Okay, that's really good." Then -- then -- if you think about the first two pages you'll realize, "Wait -- wait just one damned second here ... KURT BUSIEK AND TOM GRUMMETT JUST COMPLETELY SUCKER PUNCHED ME RIGHT IN THE FEELS!" Such a well crafted issue, so sneaky in its skillful manipulation of tropes to deliver a fresh feeling. Simply fantastic.

Loki Agent Of Asgard #8

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

This issue manages an unusual feat -- succeeding in spite of plot problems. There are two core stories -- Loki, the "hero" and Verity, the spurned and concerned friend. Both are great, and both dance with each other like a choreographed routine. Do they tell a whole story? Almost. Will you care? After spit takes, exclamations and no fewer than three legitimate laugh out loud moments, no, you won't. Why? First, because this draws you to the next issue with great deftness. Second, because it's a hoot. Third, it gives you enough of a look at one of Marvel's most tedious crossovers since House of ATM without actually losing the right to be entertained. Enjoyable and re-readable.

Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor #2

(Titan Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

This issue alone was better than any episode this season, and not just because Clara kept her snippiness to a minimum. The last of an ancient race gone dangerously to seed with a root in Grant Morrison's nightmares, one on one with the Doctor on a perilous planet custom made for the rich. The speeches worked, the plot was paced brilliantly, the art stood up and got everything right. Great work from Robbie Morrison, Dave Taylor and Hi-Fi.


Good, good stuff and supremely re-readable.


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

In "Dark Horse Presents" #4, "Semi-Automagic" started out very strong, and "The Mighty" had a great atmosphere and a wink to anyone who read the series. "Dream Gang" will be a hit for fans of "Nexus" and other mindbending properties, tossing out crazy idea bomb phrases like this season of "Doctor Who" (unfortunately with the same resonance). Good ideas sprinkled here and there, and some of the "House of Fun" strips were chuckle worthy. A decent choice for fans of anthologies.

There are a lot of things to like about "Avengers" #38. Bobby Dacosta finally grows up and puts on the big superhero spandex without changing one whit of who he truly is (a great Savage Land exchange with Sam shows that). There is possibly the scariest Shang-Chi panel ever here, and some rock solid character moments. However, it's a meeting, not a story -- a lengthy recap, not a narrative. Great art, fun moments, structural issues which slowed it down.

"Batman/Superman" #16 had some fantastic emotional beats in its Greg Pak script -- the ketchup, the orca scene, the talk in the cave -- and the art team did a fantastic job of conveying the tension and passion in the work. However, the core concept -- being so derivative of even the Emperor Joker storyline's core conceit -- chafes a bit. Could this factor into something amazing down the road? Maybe. Today it's just a tantalizing near-miss.

It's not good to be pushed out of the shadows and into the light, and in "Black Widow" #12, everybody's favorite Russian Avenger is the focus of an Anderson Cooper takedown (literally, it's him, name and all, no "Blanderson Hooper" Captain Ersatz foolishness) on the one day when things were simple and easy. The main plot of Natasha's good mood is fully developed but essentially emotionally empty (which is what she wanted) while the framing device, the real meat of the matter, got the short end of the stick. Does Cooper have a running series on the Hulk? Has Dario Agger ever come into his camera crosshairs? Why was Damage Control not discussed? More questions than answers as Natasha's not even in the top 10 most destructive people she knows. Not bad, though.

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

"Witchblade" #179, "Fables" #146, "Punisher" #12, "Batman And Robin" #36, "Moon Knight" #9, "Terminator Salvation The Final Battle" #11, "X-Force" #12, "Wonder Woman" #36, "Avengers World" #15, "Princess Ugg" #5, "Earth 2 World's End" #7, "Spider-Woman" #1, "Thief Of Thieves" #25, "Magneto" #12, "Harley Quinn" #12, "Solar Man Of The Atom" #7, "New 52 Futures End" #29, "Deadpool" #37, "Punk Mambo" #0, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Dark Shaman" #2, "Uncanny X-Men" #28, "Trinity Of Sin" #2, "New Avengers" #26, "I.C.E. Critical Mass" #1, "Terminal Hero" #4, "Amazing Spider-Man" #10, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10" #9, "Batman Eternal" #33, "Axis Revolutions" #2, "Magnus Robot Fighter" #8, "Justice League" #36, "Elektra" #8, "Rot And Ruin" #3, "Storm" #5, "Multiversity Pax Americana" #1, "Morning Glories" #42, "Supergirl" #36, "X-O Manowar" #30, "Superman Wonder Woman" #13, "God Is Dead" #24, "Fantastic Four" #13, "Green Lantern New Guardians" #36, "Daredevil" #10.

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

"Intersect" #1 is awful despite some decent attempts at innovation. The artwork looks like an unfinished sketchbook, the characterization is paper thin and the art house sensibilities of the issue are too scattered to satisfy. Not it.

Re: "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #36. Apparently, Starfire shoots heroin now. That happened. None of this, just ... just stop it.

"Annihilator" #3 is scary how bad it is. Grant Morrison's script is a bad paint splatter on an underpass wall. The arguable protagonist is as confused about the story as a reader would be. There's no real antagonist, the plot meanders for two thirds of its length ... this is terrible.


There were still fewer bad books than "okay" ones.


Two jumps beat out even three bad books so the week wins on merit. Yay!


Forgot last week -- have you pre ordered "Fathom Sourcebook" #1 from Aspen Comics? The writer of this column wrote that as well, so run out tell your retailer to save you a copy.

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. 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. Thereâ•’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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