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 FEBRUARY 24, 2016
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5
Dr. Doom, ensconced in a past, before the Fantastic Four or the Avengers and with all the knowledge of the 21st century, would be enormously difficult to beat. The solution that Ryan Norths script devises is wonderful and crafty in all the best possible ways, wielding time travel like a Super Soaker and spraying hilarity and awesomeness everywhere (keep reading past the letters page -- so worth it). It was no easy chore for the visual team of Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham, with scenes that could have been visually cumbersome coming out charming and engaging. Almost a dozen solid laughs here and Doom at his Doom-iest best, this is funny, fun stuff.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
A rock solid start for the week, plus, "E.X.O. The Legend Of Wale Williams Volume 1" came out, which looks amazing!
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Pathfinder Hollow Mountain" #4 had thin characterization but fantastic artwork as a set of adventurers split up in an outlandishly dangerous place and end up in some surprising situations. Decent nuance and details but the players on the board are a little underdeveloped.
"Daredevil" #4 had a number of compelling character moments as Steve Rogers plays Overwatch for the titular character, who's trying to take down a bomb maker in a residential section of Hell's Kitchen while his "apprentice" confronts a key player in the Church of Tenfingers, an allegedly altruistic spinoff of the ninja cult The Hand. Those elements are good, but Matt Murdock's metaphorical handwringing over his complex issue of identity becomes tedious quickly and his ideological struggle with Tenfingers has good turns of phrase but exhausting repetition. A mixed bag that misses the mark.
There are multiple stories going on in "Cyborg" #8: a buddy comedy with Shazam and Cyborg that has some real potential, a political drama about the overreaches of government power and a workplace dramedy about a son and father in the workplace, surrounded by people who love and are exasperated by them. Each one of these could easily have supported an issue. All together? None of them get enough room to shine, despite Cyborg showing some of what made him so fun on the previous "Teen Titans" animated series. Great art, some fun quips and a slight lack of balance which threw this out of contention.
"Transformers" #50 takes a swing at a grand gesture in a storyline called "All Hail Optimus, echoing the successful "All Hail Megatron" series of a few years back. Prime and a mixed bag team step up to fight Galvatron and "annex" Earth into a council of worlds (such as Caminus and the other "lost colonies" falling under the same banner). Unlike the clean, thoughtful thrust of "AHM," Prime has little support within or without, a plan only he knows (lacking the phased structure of Decepticon invasion) and a host of powerful parties on their own side. Ambitious and good looking but muddy and unclear, it swings hard but ultimately misses.
"Hercules" #4 has some awesome new names and concepts that got about a quarter second worth of characterization and a good bit of plodding, predictable tugging of heart strings, all with great visuals and a hint of more. Tantalizing but not satisfying, a flirt and not a consummation.
"Grayson" #17 planted the seeds of one heck of a semi-regular team up, as Grifter and the titular Spy Wonder make excellent dance partners, while his gruff partner Agent 1 starts to show some nuance to his character. Toss in fantastic visuals, TAO as a pet profiler and Max Lord at his smug and dangerous best and there was a lot to like here. Unfortunately, one of those things wasn't a plot, as the story kind of meandered all over the road like AC Cowling in a white Ford Bronco. Fun but unfulfilling.
"Karnak" #2 had some absolutely legendary action scenes and some of that classic Warren Ellis badass protagonist banter that you know you love and a new idea that was simply fascinating. The issue petered out at the end, with less of an ending and more of an undeserved denouement but it had a killer build up. This series is doing a great job establishing why Karnak -- absent from the fun of the Inhumans in the wild -- is interesting, but not doing so well with making what he's doing interesting.
"Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: A Spoon Too Short" #1 had the manic rhythms and cadence of the classic Douglas Adams character and a noirish swing on the visuals that worked well. There wasn't enough plot here to make the issue connect, but it felt like a good direction in general.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Silk" #5, "We Are Robin" #9, "All-New X-Men" #5, "Black Magick" #5, "Deathstroke" #15, "Transformers Vs G.I. JOE" #11, "Spider-Man 2099" #7, "Flash" #49, "Chew" #55, "He-Man The Eternity War" #15, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #55, "Justice League" #48, "Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat" #3, "Cry Havoc" #2, "Suicide Squad Most Wanted Deadshot And Katana" #2, "All-New All-Different Avengers" #6, "Faith" #2, "Astonishing Ant-Man" #5, "Ghostbusters International" #2, "Superman" #49, "Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur" #4, "Four Eyes Hearts Of Fire" #2, "Venus" #3, "Kanan" #11, "Superman Lois And Clark" #5, "Venom Space Knight" #4, "Nowhere Men" #8, "Star Trek" #54, "Postal" #10, "Fight Club 2" #9, "Superman The Coming Of The Supermen" #1, "Bloodshot Reborn" #11, "Wild's End The Enemy Within" #6, "Amazing Spider-Man" #1.3, "Saga" #34, "Danger Girl Renegade" #4, "Aquaman" #49, "Drax" #4, "Wynonna Earp" #1, "New Avengers" #7, "Superman Wonder Woman" #26, "All-New Inhumans" #4, "Jem And The Holograms" #12, "Street Fighter X G.I. JOE" #1, "Teen Titans" #17, "Howling Commandos Of S.H.I.E.L.D." #5, "Dark Knight III The Master Race" #1, "Angela Queen Of Hel" #5.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Batman And Robin Eternal" #21 is a powerful and likely unintentional indictment of Bruce Wayne's psychosis as he had every opportunity to address a great injustice and instead chose half measures and absenteeism, creating what could be an enormous threat in the process. The character Harper Row never had a chance in this game of rich people and their ridiculous ideologies, and it drifts past child abuse into reckless endangerment. Far from the best light to shine on the dark knight detective and a story, such as it is, that's a long way from entertaining.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Just one bad book ... it could be better, but that's survivable.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
One book bought versus a really bad batch of Bats makes the week wash out as a tie.
The writer of this column isn't just a jerk who spews his opinions -- he writes stuff too. A lot. Like what? 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, a story in "Watson and Holmes Volume 2" co-plotted by "2 Guns" creator Steven Grant, two books from Stranger Comics -- "Waso: Will To Power" and the sequel "Waso: Gathering Wind" (the tale of a young man who had leadership thrust upon him after a tragedy), or "Fathom Sourcebook" #1, "Soulfire Sourcebook" #1 and "Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook" #1, the official guides to those 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!