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 JANUARY 15, 2015
Star Wars #1
Jump from the Read Pile.
Wow. just ... wow. Picking up as if the Battle of Yavin happened yesterday, this issue has three rock solid "Star Wars" moments (including "What kind of envoy are you?"), every character you really need to see, a few moments of humor, a few moments of heroism, great tension and action, and believable, smart stakes. Learning the lesson from the recent, dry Dark Horse reboot, Jason Aaron's spandex-tight script feels like "Star Wars" while providing a smart, savvy first issue that introduces each character effectively. And please, don't understate the value of John Cassaday and Laura Martin's enthralling artwork. A great start and a passionate consummation of the polygamous marriage of Disney, Marvel and the Lucas "empire."
Astro City #19
This issue is a great, grounded character piece that has genuine "awww" moments where you feel good about the work of the heroine Quarrel. As always, Brent Anderson's art is great, the focus on the motivations is perfect ... but Kurt Busiek only sprinkled this with a vignette's worth of plot, We get a sense of some of Quarrel's personal journey from disgraced daughter of a two-bit super villain to credible heroine, but it's a little paint-by-the-numbers, with only Crackerjack's scoundrel routine to give the narrative any bite or "oomph." This is a good comic book, better than most books out this week, but it's not as great as other issues in the series. Worth the money, but not by as big a margin as normal.
Jump from the Read Pile.
Kamala Khan is front and center as Simmons goes undercover to find a threat hiding in a New Jersey high school. Mark Waid's script delivers some great moments (it's rare for Phil Coulson to get out-geeked) while Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado deliver some fast moving, enjoyably kinetic artwork to match the entertaining plot. It's nice to see the synergy between the influences of Earth-199999 and the longstanding realities of Earth-616.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Two jumps and solid, if not remarkable, stuff from "Astro City" is a heck of a good start.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Cyclops" #9 had some interesting elements as the teenaged Scott Summers started feeling loyal to murderers and scoundrels in space. This twist of circumstances has some nice character moments and a very good artistic showing, but the whole plot was summed up by the first page and the angry first mate is monochromatic as a character. Not bad, but not quite balanced enough for the plot to keep up with the characterization.
"Daredevil" #12 has one of the most thrilling chase scenes in a comic book in recent history, one where Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson threw down in an extreme and major way. However, the plot has some unusual twists that aren't exactly rewarding and the conclusion is a bit too facile. Good elements, though.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Lazarus" #14, "Nightcrawler" #10, "Grayson" #6, "Terrible Lizard" #3, "Deathlok" #4, "Ten Grand" #12, "Thanos Vs Hulk" #2, "New 52 Futures End" #37, "Avengers" #34.2, "Battlestar Galactica Death Of Apollo" #2, "Savage Dragon" #201, "Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor" #6, "Constantine" #21, "X-Force" #14, "Wild's End" #5, "All-New Ghost Rider" #10, "New Suicide Squad" #6, "Silver Surfer" #8, "Conan Red Sonja" #1, "Deadpool" #40, "Rat Queens Special Braga" #1, "Guardians 3000" #4, "Superman Wonder Woman" #15, "Captain Marvel" #11, "Ex-Con" #5, "Walking Dead" #136, "Spider-Verse" #2, "Green Lantern Corps" #38, "Star Trek" #40, "Justice League United" #8, "Sherlock Holmes Vs Harry Houdini" #3, "Supreme Blue Rose" #6, "Earth 2 World's End" #15, "Wolverines" #2, "Q2 The Return Of Quantum And Woody" #4, "Amazing X-Men" #15, "Batman Eternal" #41, "Fuse" #9, "All-New Captain America" #3, "Worlds' Finest" #30, "Jupiter's Legacy" #5, "Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man" #9.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Batgirl"" #38 is disappointing because it again shaves several IQ points off of one of DC's finest minds. Batgirl sets herself on taking down an affluenza sufferer living off ill-gotten loot, but in the process gets all Henry Cavill on her adopted neighborhood, immaturely lashing out at Dinah (who joins a band, oddly enough) and rejecting the legacy of the Bat. This punk rock attempt at Barbara Gordon is a disturbing detour, and this criticism of vigilantism in general and the selfie-obsessed Batgirl in particular has taken what was innovative and made it vapid.
Some would call "Avengers" #40 the culmination of a variety of things, the settling of accounts long due. However, with three years since the alleged slight and the ledger still full of Latverian ink and Wakandan blood, this reckoning seems shallow. As well, the idea that something cobbled together by AIM could manage the scale of power this issue purports to contain is ridiculous. Steve Rogers is left like Dennis the Menace's neighbor, yelling at kids on his lawn, while the growth of Bobby DaCosta and Sam Guthrie is stalled in silliness. Lots of talking and a plot that plays at more than it does, leaving so much unchanged for so many ... well, except the Wakandans, of course. Tepid at best.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Good and bad balanced out, so ... meh?
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Despite what happened with the reads, two jumps make this week a winner no matter how you slice it.
The next comic from the writer of this column, "Soulfire Sourcebook" #1, is available for pre-order, so feel free to ask your retailers about setting a copy aside for you.
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, the official guide to the flagship franchise for Aspen Comics. 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 go 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!