Marvel Makes It Marvelous


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 ...


Star Wars Lando #5

(Marvel Comics)

Every player worth their salt sees the signs when it's time to get out of the game. The titular character, stuck on the Emperor's personal and stolen space yacht full of Sith artifacts that turn whoever's near into an agent of death, gets a lot. This thoughtful and deliberate tale of murder, deception and lost hopes frames a lot of what would come in "The Empire Strikes Back" while delivering a satisfying story arc for everyone involved. Great work by Charles Soule, Alex Maleev, Paul Mounts and Joe Caramagna.

Amazing Spider-Man #1

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

This is one jam-packed Spider installment, where everything is working correctly. Done with his sad sack perspective, Peter Parker has gone global with a wrist-mounted smart device that would give Apple a run for its money, all while paying living wages and being cognizant of ecological concerns (taking a page from Joe Casey's Halo Corporation). On top of that, he's running with the "poor man's Tony Stark" reputation by taking middle management pay (while still having his luck "show through") and having Spider-Man as his "bodyguard" (with his own Black friend the Prowler in a spare suit as a red herring). This sets up a lot of wonderful situations for stories to spring from, as shown by the multiple back up features (the "Breaking Bad" one is delightful, as is the surprise in Parker Industries' European offices) and every page of this takes the michegas of recent Spider-stories and makes it work. Even the pig. A great means of setting the table for a new direction in Spider-Man's mythos by so many creators that they can barely be enumerated. Heck, let's try: Dan Slott, Guiseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, Marte Gracia, Joe Caramagna, Peter David, Will Sliney, Frank D'armata, Cory Petit, Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee, Ian Harring, Travis Lanham, Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, Mike Costa, David Baldeon, Scott Hanna, Jason Keith, Christos Gage, Paco Diaz and Isreal Silva. Whew!

Doctor Strange #1

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

Imagine, if you will, that Stephen Strange -- after all the crossover nonsense is over -- is a rakish rogue who just barely found out what humility was while receiving unspeakable degrees of power. This issue encapsulates that, showing the fear and the fight in the sorcerer supreme, down to his peer review group and all the way up to making out with a sixth dimensional parasite. Jason Aaron is back in his element with this playful, engaging script and the visuals from Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Mark Irwin and Cory Petit make sense out of the messy worlds of magic. A pleasant surprise.

Omega Men #5

(DC Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

In a wonderful show of determination over the sins of a father, this issue shows how far one being will go to decide who he will be. The titular characters have a multi-layered plan with nuance and tons of risk, involving seizing the high moral ground from an oppressive totalitarian regime in a very showy fashion. How does the lost Lantern Kyle Rayner fit into this? What lies behind the eyes of the blood-drenched princess? Some of those answers come closer to light in Tom King's liberating script, brilliantly rendered by Barnaby Bagenda, Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Pat Brosseau.


Three jumps? Three? Heck yeah, that's a hell of a start!


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

"Darth Vader" #10 was extremely close to the mark due to a great tie in to Vader's history and superb performances by Vader's twisted mirror of some of your favorite Rebels. Vader barely showed up for the whole issue, his restraint belying his threat as he's boxed further into a corner. Still good, just falling short of what a Vader-centic issue should do, like if an issue of Superman had mostly panels of Jimmy and Lois working on a subsidiary story.

"Cyborg" #3 continued to improve and edge closer to jumping with great action and more legible art for the cybernetic antagonists, but a twist of "Ivar, Timewalker" at the end and simply not having enough pages to connect all the dots served as a deficit. Still on an upswing, but still a bit left to climb.

"Sherlock Holmes The Seven-Per-Cent Solution" #3 showed some improvement after a tedious detox sequence, showing Freud and Holmes investigating together, which had some twists of deduction and analysis. Still too slow, but improving.

"Batman And Robin Eternal" #1 had lots of fun tossing Dick Grayson to and fro in the plot, and would-be sidekick Bluebird made a good showing for herself, but the overall plot chops at the roots of Batman's mythic foundation and the antagonist is vague where it's trying to be mysterious. Vexing to end so badly.

"What If Infinity Thanos" #1 was a cute and pithy story staying true to the common understanding of Thanos (unlike the namby pamby Jason Aaron revisionism) as he does what he does and it works like a Zemo in a Citizen V suit. Self contained and good for completists who love to see the devil get his due, apologies to Josh Blaylock.

"Paper Girls" #1 is on the precipice of either being something intriguing or something adequate. In 1988 a group of girls in Ohio are among the first females to deliver newspapers and stumble into more than they bargained for. A little more framing would help the reader engage with the unusual story elements, but the core elements are interesting ... just not interesting enough, yet.

In "Imperium" #9, a number of compelling plot developments drove the narrative. A flaw in Toyo Harada's seemingly impenetrable security gives an outside context problem a chance to get in the game. A hugely effective show of force works very well on all sides. Sadly, with all the sturm und drang there isn't any time to flesh out character and make them matter to the reader. As the series has often done before, the fascinating ideas lose a step in the execution phase.

The crossover won't end but "Secret Wars" #6 has some nice moments, including Spider-Men taking troubling meetings, Thanos being most dangerous when he's talking and Doom hardly living up to his name. The art is haunting, the concepts fascinating but knowing all this will be swept away soon saps the events of consequence.

"Survivors Club" #1 had a killer twist at the end, but kind of plodded along until it got there. There aren't any significant or interesting bumps on the road and the characters lack distinctive or interesting elements. A slice above "meh" due to that ending, though.

"Hip-Hop Family Tree" #2 is a delight if you recognize the host of names that dot the history of the art form. For someone with no grounding in the genre, it will largely feel cursory and superficial.

"Invincible Iron Man" #1 is very close to making the mark. Tony Stark displays his trademark charm and wit as he takes someone on a date that could be smarter than he is after inventing a whole new generation of armor. The art's top notch and there are several great moments, but the plot can't connect everything together and the inconclusive ending cut things off too abruptly. A good new direction, but it's not quite ready to roll.

"Journey To Star Wars The Force Awakens Shattered Empire" #2 has some tantalizing tidbits -- a new trilogy character's name dropped in passing, the Emperor's contingency plans laid bare -- and a great aerial combat scene, but the plot's a pastiche that can't find it's pace or tone. This will help fill out those Wookiepedia entries, though ...

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

"Saints" #1, "Heroes Vengeance" #1, "1602 Witch Hunter Angela" #4, "Minimum Wage So Many Bad Decisions" #6, "All-New All-Different Point One" #1, "Action Comics" #45, "Avengers" #0, "Cluster" #8, "D4VE2" #2, "Contest Of Champions" #1, "Angel And Faith Season 10" #19, "Groot" #5, "John Flood" #3, "Marvel Super Hero Spectacular" #1, "BOY-1" #3, "We Stand On Guard" #4, "Masks 2" #7, "Adam.3" #3, "Telos" #1, "Justice Inc The Avenger" #5, "Marvel Universe Guardians Of The Galaxy" #1, "X-Files Season 11" #3, "Old Man Logan" #5, "Midnighter" #5, "Rowans Ruin" #1, "Lobo" #11, "Aliens Vampirella" #2, "Siege" #4, "Batman Beyond" #5, "Spider-Island" #5, "Powers" #5, "Transformers Robots In Disguise Animated" #3, "Green Lantern" #45, "Barb Wire" #4, "Star Wars" #10, "Green Arrow Annual" #1, "Tomorrows" #3, "Green Arrow" #45, "What If Infinity Inhumans" #1, "Bloodshot Reborn" #7, "Detective Comics" #45,

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

"Lara Croft And The Frozen Omen" #1 commits on action but fails on logic as the titular character has some baffling costume inconsistencies through three countries on two continents, and strolls blithely through university hallways and Heathrow Airport with a sidearm as if nothing's unusual about it. An interesting early bit of early characterization goes nowhere and the grounded start of the book takes an odd left into the supernatural. Wildly uneven.

"Surface" #4 is the most self-indulgent, navel gazing, needlessly meta work of pretension and self-aggrandizement since that one book from "The Dark Tower" series of novels that ended up in Maine. Beautifully depicted tripe but tripe nonetheless.


Troubling books this week at the poorer end of the spectrum.


Three jumps beats two bad books, so that leaves this week as a winner.


Los Angeles fans of karaoke and nerdcore humor can check this column's writer hosting karaoke in Santa Monica this weekend, if they were so inclined.

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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