Mundane to the Fantastic, from Shaft to The Doctor


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 ...


Shaft #1

(Dynamite Entertainment)

Jump from the Read Pile.

This is a pitch perfect start, a flawless establishing issue that both delivers on plot and develops character effectively. Eschewing the easy cliches and comedic routes already mined by other properties, this is John Shaft before the private eye game and after the war in Vietnam -- conflicted but determined, strong but understanding his limits, unbowed and essentially unbeatable. David Walker's script could be taught in writing classes as a masterpiece of craftsmanship while the crisp, clean artwork from Bilquis Evely and Daniela Miwa vividly depicts the early 1970s in New York. Simply wonderful work and a very, very pleasant surprise.

Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor #5

(Titan Publishing)

Jump from the Read Pile.

This issue was a singular delight. Steeped in the whimsy and deftness of Matt Smith's characterization, with an absolutely wonderful, wholly Doctor Who moment of genuine wonder and emotional resonance. The plot is smart and creative and the characterization's thorough and savvy. To say much more would spoil the great surprises, but this issue is a nice experience.

Legendary Star-Lord #6

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

This refreshing issue was cute and scampish as the titular character tried to have a holographic date with the X-Men's Kitty Pryde while being hunted by a cadre of well-designed alien bounty hunters (seriously, they look like Cad Bane's best friends). Sam Humphries' script had a great mix of character development, plot and action, there are great moments, a nice twist at the end and fantastic artwork throughout by Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco. Fun stuff that smartly borrows heavily from Chris Pratt's qualities.

God Hates Astronauts #4

(Image Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

Wonderful and ridiculous in a number of ways, this story is not only secretly brilliant but also fantastically sneaky. A corrupt and oppressive regime has a history of atrocity and now has plans on earth. The planet's quirky defenders are trying to maintain a sense of normalcy in the face of tragedy and loss. Also, there are murderous crab headed people, a king called "Tiger Eating A Cheeseburger" and a cow-headed husband with a reconfigurable brain. Wrong and right all at once, Ryan Browne and Jordan Boyd are misunderstood masterminds.


Sweet Kwanzaa, four jumps? That's a hell of a great week of comics!


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

"Sinestro" #7 had a simply brilliant sequence where the title character essentially seduces someone. It's creepy and brilliant and when the last words of it hits, you'll almost want to say "yes" as well. The fact that he did it from a completely different universe while verbally sparring with John Stewart and managing a tribe of killers and lunatics makes it all the more impressive. However, the distractions of the rest of the ... let's call it a "plot" in service to the greater crossover, well, that's less of a thing. A promising installment, though.

"Chew" #45 has an ending that makes no sense and doesn't easily add up, based on what the reader should know. The rest of the issue has benefits -- especially the part with NASA, which is freaking cool as hell -- but without being able to settle on what it was doing and ending in such an abrupt and odd manner without more clarity is too big a deficit to overcome.

"Battlestar Galactica The Death Of Apollo" #1 is a like the first 15 minutes of a really good episode from the cheesy, classic TV series, down to Dirk Benedict-esque nuance and trademarked Lorne Greene gruffness. Its jaw dropper ending is very convenient, and its late surprise has visuals that don't match the words, but for fans, this will blow their suede Viper pilot jackets off.

"Green Arrow" #37 has mostly cast aside the weird clannish trappings of weapon totems and is a lot more like the show. That's a good thing. Ollie, Felicity and Dig handling business, all in a world with the DC heroes fully revealed and running around. That's all fun, sure. However, the antagonists aren't worthy to shine John Barrowman's quiver, and the distractions with Katana steal momentum. A huge improvement over past months, but not quite Stephen Amell quality just yet.

"All-New X-Factor" #17 has outstanding action scenes, with Cipher pulling off a very clever bit of tactical tomfoolery. Longshot and Sunfire have caught the "Sixis" foolishness and are now ... well, they've become mean enough to be called villains, but don't quite have enough accomplishments to be looked at as more than just flashy henchmen -- especially Sunfire, who plays Battlecat at one point. For a crossover issue, this is refreshingly not terrible, bit as a story in its own, it's just "aight."

"Valiant-Sized Quantum & Woody" #1 created an actually credible villain for the two lead characters and it's really rather funny, when you think about it. However, the "Deep Impact" approach was a little too "Reed and Tony and alternate earths" when you look at it, but it had some charm and holiday spirit for those feeling holiday-ish. A hair derivative, but not bad for all that.

"Hulk" #9 was an interesting take, a means by which a future foretold begins to show signs of happening. Heroism is not exactly the order of the day as a visit to the outlaw X-Men's facility and an intellectual battle with disparate parts of Banner's personality (one of the best since the Pantheon era). If you like the idea of a smart, villain Hulk, this might work for you. If the noble, misunderstood monster is more your cup of tea, this won't spin your propellers.

"Secret Six" #1 was a solid start if not quite at the stratospheric heights of its previous volume. A locked door mystery, some solid Ken Lashley action scenes and effective dialogue (especially the notes from erstwhile Court of Owls catspaw Strix), but drab and monochromatic coloring didn't help, and the mystery needed a little more room to breathe. Interesting to see where this goes.

"Birthright" #3 has fantastic action, gorgeous artwork, brilliant underpinnings and genuine emotion. The only thing this issue lacks is a plot beyond one word: "run." An effective part of the story, but not a story itself.

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

"Swamp Thing" #37, "Inhuman" #9, "Dark Gods" #2, "Green Lantern" #37, "Twilight Zone" #10, "Iron Fist The Living Weapon" #7, "Justice League 3000" #12, "Uber" #20, "Lobo" #3, "Death Of Wolverine The Weapon X Program" #3, "Captain America Peggy Carter Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D." #1, "Grayson" #5, "Names" #4, "F1rst Hero" #4, "New 52 Futures End" #31, "Action Comics" #37, "Escape From New York" #1, "Aquaman And The Others" #8, "Thanos Vs Hulk" #1, "Fight Like A Girl" #1, "Batman Eternal" #35, "Evil Empire" #8, "Detective Comics" #37, "Axis Revolutions" #3, "Jack Hammer Usurper" #2, "Earth 2" #29, "Robocop" #6, "Planet Gigantic" #2, "Tech Jacket" #6, "Angel And Faith Season 10" #9, "Deadpool" #38, "Gotham Academy" #3, "Shinobi Ninja Princess" #4, "Rai" #5, "Ghost Fleet" #2, "Fairest" #32, "Eternal Warrior Days Of Steel" #2, "Army Of Darkness Volume 4" #1, "Earth 2 World's End" #9, "Angela Asgard's Assassin" #1.

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

... is that right? Nothing was bad this week? IT'S A FREAKIN' FESTIVUS MIRACLE!


Hey now -- absolutely nothing was actually really wrong. That's an enormous gift to receive from the comics industry.


Four jumps. No bad comics. This could go down as one of the best weeks in comics in recent history.


ICYMI, on December 17, you can go to your physical or digital retailer and buy a license to be right about the characters in Aspen Comics' flagship series. Fathom Sourcebook" #1, written by this columnist's poison ... keyboard? That's not as impressive is it ... uh ... well, the guy who writes this column wrote that and would simply love it if you picked up a copy. Yeah. That went well.

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!

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