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 AUGUST 12, 2015
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8
This issue features actual battle scenes featuring Cat Thor wielding Mewnir. Really. It's also totally crucial to the very funny plot as an evil, ancient squirrel goddess threatens the entire world. Fortunately, Squirrel Girl's roommate brings bluetooth to Asgard (really) and has a plan. This issue has some schmaltzy, after school special blah blah that was totally sandbagged by a tricky deus ex machina that is another great laugh. Toss in the guffaw-inducing gags written in the borders, an improvised new version of the title character's theme song ... it's all good. Some fans question the artwork of Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi, but the visual storytelling is solid and Ryan North's script keeps things moving wittily. So fun.
Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1
Jump from the Read Pile
Wow. With the slickness and style of Patrick Nagel at his height and a script that mixes the uneasiness of Max Headroom's dystopia with the all-too-knowing hindsight of nostalgia, this issue plays possum for the first few pages before completely taking off. The titular element sneaks up on the reader, borrowing both from an MTV staple of the Reagan/Thatcher years and a kind of almost reality TV-influenced desperation for relevancy. So strange and so wonderful, this intellectually challenging comic will be an uphill climb for many, but a worthwhile summit to reach. Somewhere, Morten Harket feels vindicated.
Star Wars: Lando #2
Jump from the Read Pile.
Lando is, to put it politely, one magnificent bastard. Piloting the Emperor's stolen pleasure yacht, he comes face to face with three -- not one, not two, but three -- Imperial Star Destroyers (among the largest, meanest space ships in science fiction) with a crew of cutthroats anxious to murder him. In a kind of scoundrel James Bond fashion (Moore, the slick one) he razzle dazzles and tricks his way through every page, seeing every insurmountable obstacle as a chance for fortune and glory. Charles Soule's script gives Lando an indefatigable optimism that's too smooth to be manic, too skilled to be just luck. Paul Mounts' color palette may be a bit too muted and Alex Maleev's attention to detail a little rougher than it could be, but none of that detracted from the enjoyment of the story. Toss in a new freelance tough guy specifically tasked by the Emperor and you've got a fun, fun comic book.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Quite an enjoyable start with two jumps.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Doctor Who Event 2015 Four Doctors" #1 is very, very close to the mark despite a section with the War Doctor that seems out of place. However when "Sand Shoes" and the happier one meet the grumpiest Doctor since the Time War, it's a big mess. Arguing companions, yelling and recriminations it's all big fun but just a little shy of the mark due to leaving out a number of plot elements that are second nature to even the garden variety Whovian but not clear to neophytes. A book for the faithful, in deed.
"Archon" #1 had a slow start but turned it on with its high concept -- a fantasy themed Vegas casino run by actual creatures of myth. The hard luck protagonist doesn't get much time for character development and the method of his providence is also left an unanswered question, but the book has some potential.
"Secret Wars" #2 was rife with moments of emotional resonance and relative import as Victor Von Doom walked around with the same feeling that Billy Batson did in Kingdom Come. However, plot wise the most interesting thing was Marvel's new female Thor finding herself in way over her head and an old Marvel character getting a somewhat updated handbook entry. Great art, some really great moments, but not quite everything it needed to be.
"Batman" #43 has an explanation for exactly why Bruce Wayne isn't wearing the cowl and almost explains how to get him back but mostly muddles around with a blank slate antagonist and has Jim Gordon stumbling around as a tyro vigilante. The art's rock solid but the story is just a cut above "meh."
"Empire Uprising" #4 was too slow by a hair as it showed the rot within a perfect system. Golgoth is an invincible teleporting engine of mass murder and his endless armies and hand picked set of super powered enforcers make the trains run on time ... until they don't. Losing a lot of momentum and not quite what it needs to be.
"Action Comics" #43 backpedals from the publicly examined "fight the power" rhetoric to drop relatively facile antagonists in the place of complex problems. Gorgeously depicted, buy cowardly conceived, this issue deals in absolutes where shades of gray once claimed residence to the detriment of storytelling or relevance. As they say, weak sauce.
"Velvet" #11 is a sneaky, sultry story of old spies and the lies they tell, to each other and to themselves. The titular character manages to evade the best and brightest in law enforcement and intelligence on two continents all in pursuit of answers. Along the way she indulges in every trope -- cover identities, using feminine wiles to entrance and deceive. Nothing bad, but the plot barely moves as the pages turn, despite the wonderful period-friendly artwork.
"Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor" #15 had some very solid moments but ultimately fell down with a weak conclusion for its antagonist. There was too much vagueness but there was dancing, yes, there was dancing and it was fantastic.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Walking Dead" #145, "Secret Wars Battleworld" #4, "Justice League United" #12, "A-Force" #3, "Star Trek Green Lantern" #2, "Reyn" #7, "Amazing Spider-Man" #20.1, "BOY-1" #1, "Letter 44" #19, "Star-Lord And Kitty Pryde" #2, "Green Arrow" #43, "Sleepy Hollow Providence" #1, "Ghost Racers" #3, "Starfire" #3, "Unity" #21, "Earth 2 Society" #3, "Howard The Duck" #5, "Apollo IX" #1, "Secret Wars 2099" #4, "F1rst Hero Fight For Your Life" #1, "Inhumans Attilan Rising" #4, "Red Hood Arsenal" #3, "Years Of Future Past" #4, "Uber" #27, "Korvac Saga" #3, "Constantine The Hellblazer" #3, "Savior" #5, "Master Of Kung Fu" #4, "Americatown" #1, "Planet Hulk" #4, "X-O Manowar" #39, "Catwoman" #43, "King Tiger" #1, "New Suicide Squad" #11, "Shrinking Man" #2, "Batman Superman" #23, "Mercy Sparx" #9,
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
Cool -- nothing that stank? Sweet.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Any week when nothing is terrible is a solid, solid start.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Two jumps and nothing terrible? That's a great time to love comics!
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!