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 NOVEMBER 5, 2014
Jump from the Read Pile.
In the series "Arrested Development," one of the main characters often says as a refrain, "I've made a huge mistake." That kind of juxtaposition is at play here when the long-hunted Collector gets a knock on his door. The structure and craft of this issue are superb, a well told story with Rob Guillory's certain hand depicting John Layman's deft script. This series is always good, but sometimes it's great, and this is one of those issues. Great to see.
"Rocket Raccoon" #5
Jump from the Read Pile.
Hilarious. Through mechanisms that don't really matter, everybody's favorite new odd couple has to tell stories to a group of vaguely human form kids, but Rocket is tired of telling tales. In comes Groot, and using just three words, he depicts a tale with twists and turns and great gusto. It's a crafty and determined and well told, which is enormously hard to do when using just three words. Refreshing stuff.
Day Men #5
Jump from the Read Pile.
This issue has the grim fatalism of a noir film, depicted with great care and great skill. The lead character is in a bad place, with bad things happening due to bad people. The stoic certainty with which he faces the challenges in question has some of the style and panache of Don Johnson in "Miami Vice." Intriguing storytelling on the eve of war that fans of "Lazarus" will enjoy, courtesy of Matt Gagnon, Michael Alan Nelson, Brian Stelfreeze and Darrin Moore.
God Hates Astronauts #3
Jump from the Read Pile.
This comic book makes no sense, in the best possible way. Remember watching Patrick Warburton on "The Tick," blundering through what could loosely be called a plot but truly served as a very funny excuse to do a series of jokes? This isn't too far from that, ideologically. There's a character named Star Grass who has a faulty brain and a desire to do some very disturbing things. A kitty cat king has an army of killer crabs and an appetite for cheeseburgers and destruction. There's a barbecue, apologizing astronauts ... it might sound like Stefon 's description of family friendly fun, but it's a comic book that has no fewer than four literal "laugh out loud" moments and delights in its nonsensical nature. More, please.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Sweet Kwanzaa, that's one heck of a good start for the week! Hoo hah!
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
If you miss the irreverent blasphemy of "Battle Pope" now that Kirkman has gone all legit and mainstream, "Holy F***" #1 is here to make your childhood clergyman blush in horror. With a last page shocker, it's almost like a more comedic take on the events in "God is Dead" with more teamwork thrown in. Not bad for something that intentionally trades in shock value.
"Green Arrow" #36 lost all of the clannish and almost Vertigo-like trappings and dived head long into emulating the successful TV show, including introducing the simply hilarious Felicity Smoak into the book as a more roguish but effective version of her televised self. Not bad here, but the plot didn't exactly come together.
"Concrete Park R-E-S-P-E-C-T" #3 had a number of good points, from a very surprising internecine conflict and savvy handling of the arguable protagonists, finding their way back to each other, all with effective art and savvy visual design. The only problem here? Too many characters to follow -- on television, you could latch on to an actor's voice or physical mannerisms, but that's harder to do with a series of static images. Interesting work that's got a lot to say and is still finding its balance.
"Grayson" #4 has very little plot to recommend it, dancing across the details of messier Bat-books. There were two things it did have -- outstanding artwork from Mikel Janin and Jeremy Cox, and a script that showcased what so many fans love about the title character -- his devil-may-care athleticism, his roguish charm, his beefcake physicality. For fans of that, there are some nice moments to enjoy.
"Cloaks" #3 is an interesting game of cat and mouse between people with extraordinary mental abilities. Eidetic memory, game theory, all kinds of fascinating and tantalizingly plausible abilities, cops on one side and crooks on the other, each jockeying for position. The plot's a little thin but the atmosphere and energy of this issue are undeniable, with tense dialogue from Caleb Monroe's script and charming visuals from Mariano Navarro and Marissa Louise.
Watching Alfred Pennyworth as a complete BAMF was the best part about "Batman Eternal" #31, which seemed to forget its overarching storyline as the title character and Alfred's daughter tried to keep it together in light of a deluge of escaped super villains. Bane and Alfred made an interesting team, despite the fact they're unlikely to work together again, but it wasn't quite enough to make the issue get the job done.
"Zoohunters" #1 was an interesting start as it did a pitch perfect job of capturing the awkwardness between the two leads. A son stuck in quarantine for months after a plague outbreak, his often missing father forced to return and bring the boy along as he does his work as a trader of exotic animals -- the two of them were stilted and hesitant but trying. It felt accurate and effective. The remainder of the plot, dealing with interstellar merchant deals, was solid but not exactly groundbreaking. To see that the story and art both came from Peter Steigerwald shows an impressive degree of craft, so here's hoping the plot leans in to pull off something new while maintaining the real emotional core of this relationship.
"Detective Comics" #36 wasn't bad as relying on an undercover Dick Grayson (breaking so deliciously bad) gave the Bat the keys to stopping an unstable bioweapon from getting at Gotham City. Fast paced, tense and smart, the only reason this didn't make the jump was the cliched straw man of an antagonist.
"Birthright" #2 played things a little too straight for its own good, leaving its true story and the emotional depths of the first issue behind. The parallel themed framing of the stories will be familiar to fans of "Arrow," but it's still finding its way.
"Death Of Wolverine The Weapon X Program" #1 should be called "The Licensing Department Made Us Do This." It's not a bad comic on its own, with victims of government experimentation escaping shortly after the events of Logan's death, but the ending seemed so forced that it robbed this of any resonance.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Skyman," "Fairest" #31, "Imperial" #4, "Terrible Lizard" #1, "Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor" #4, "New 52 Futures End" #27, "X-Men" #21, "Tech Jacket" #5, "Angel And Faith Season 10" #8, "Gotham Academy" #2, "Aquaman and the Others" #7, "Li'l Depressed Boy Supposed To Be There Too" #2, "Deadpool's Art Of War" #2, "Hulk" #8, "Eternal Warrior Days Of Steel" #1, "Spider-Verse Team Up" #1, "Justice League 3000" #11, "Death-Defying Dr. Mirage" #3, "Earth 2" #28, "Legendary Star-Lord" #5, "Artifacts" #40, "Hack Slash Son Of Samhain" #5 "Robocop" #5, "Lobo" #2, "Amazing Spider-Man" #9, "Alien Vs Predator Fire And Stone" #2, "Superman Unchained" #9, "Ghost Fleet" #1, "Action Comics" #36, "Solar Man Of The Atom" #6, "Bloodshot" #25, "Green Lantern" #36, "Sherwood TX" #4, "Earth 2 World's End" #5, "Humans" #1, "All-New X-Factor" #16,
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
It's frightening how awful "Avengers And X-Men Axis" #4 turned out to be. Using "Freaky Friday" as its narrative guide, the Avengers have gone rogue, Carnage is saving people and giving tips on how to be a criminal at the same time, the X-Men rally for war ... all due to a plot twist that is so hackneyed and so trite that it's exhausting. Aside from (in part) laying a foundation for the female Thor, it erodes the thin veneer of heroism held by many of the core characters, revealing them to be diminished shadows of the ideals they should be. A wholly Bizarro take on Earth-616 without a shred of redeeming qualities and an all new Hulk form ("Kluh!") formed from sadness. To quote the web, "Marvel. Wat R U Doin? Marvel! STAHP!"
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Many ambitious tries, only one really terrible one ...
WINNERS AND LOSERS
You can't beat the idea of four freaking jumps, especially on a week when nothing was guaranteed a ride home. Fantastic!
Seriously, did you pre-order the "Fathom Sourcebook" #1 yet? Get out there and do it!
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. 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!