Private Detectives and Public Punching


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...


Power Man And Iron Fist #3 (Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. The spine of this -- and the two previous issues -- is the pitch perfect rendering of the friendship between Danny Rand (a kind of ridiculous Owen Wilson figure in pajamas) and Luke Cage (imagine Chi McBride from "Pushing Daisies," but married and a dad). That serves as the through line that gives every wonderful moment time to develop with pacing as sure and certain as a Swiss timepiece. Half of that credit can surely go to David Walker's spandex-tight scripting, which makes every syllable carry the weight of moving the story along. However, let's not forget the visuals from Sanford Greene, Lee Loughridge and Clayton Cowles, which aptly handle the shifting dynamics of action scenes (the hiring in particular) and character work (not the birthday shirt). Again, the pacing here allows everything else room to be wonderful, and that's a wholly collaborative effort. Simply spectacular work.

Astro City #34 (Vertigo/DC Comics)

This issue closes down the latest Steeljack storyline about a hard luck former super powered henchman trying to go straight acting as a private detective. Super powered noir, this issue resolves everything in a spectacular fashion (literally) and has an emotional secondary climax that's down right inspiring. Writer Kurt Busiek is at his best here and the visuals from Brent Anderson, JG Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt do heroic work conveying the narrative. Fantastic work all around.

Shaft: Imitation of Life #3 (Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. First of all, this issue is completely, wholly not safe for work nor for polite audiences. In a way, that's part of its charm. Using an adaptation of an African proverb as its through line, this issue piles on the laughs and admittedly minimizes the misogyny of the Blaxploitation era while lampshading many of its more ridiculous elements. There are so many funny things here, none of which can be quoted nor shared amongst mixed company (no pun intended), but each one serves to push the plot or flesh out the nuance of a character (indirectly with the dialogue discussion). Sure, you can say a lot about David Walker's bulletproof script here (he did the lettering, too), but you also need to note the striking, crisp visuals from Dietrich Smith and Alex Guimaraes. Highly entertaining, intensely re-readable and -- even looking at its unfortunate cultural trappings, given the mores of the era -- super entertaining.


Has one writer ever had two books in the Buy Pile the same week? Has that ever happened before? Wow.


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

"Howard The Duck" #6 was extremely close to making the mark with some great Howard moments (the games on his phone), Chip Zdarsky and Ryan North trading quips on the bottom of both pages and Squirrel Girl turning every character around her more awesome (an all-new Kraven). However, the antagonist had so little going on that she was a minor foil and did little to advance the plot. Likewise, other supporting characters stood around like Darko Milicic (except, strangely, the cat) so the balance was a little off. Not bad, and a number of real laughs, though.

"Actionverse" #2 was very close to making it home based on the strength of establishing scenes with F1rst Hero and some fantastic character work with Molly Danger. The art is fantastic -- dig in on some of those facial expressions, they're fantastic -- and the major sticking point is the vague nature of the antagonist and a couple of issues during the fun action scene (what happened to Molly? That seems like it should have been something). Promising work worth following to see where this is all going. 

"Deadpool And The Mercs For Money" #3 was funny, but it wasn't so much a story and more two plot points strung together by a bunch of sight gags and a couple of bon mots. Not bad, but not four bucks worth of good. 

"Huck" #6 was also extremely close to making it home on the strength of very good moments ("Very wise," "...after that," "what's the point?") but with a climax to the action that could have benefitted from a little more clarity. This will cap off the collected edition perfectly, but this story wasn't really made for a monthly format.

"All-New Hawkeye" #6 had a gasp of a genuine emotional connection near the end but the rest of the issue was pretty rote as Hydra proved to be little challenge for people wielding rapidly hurled pointy sticks.

You live in a dull, oppressive society and get a message, a chance to get the heck out -- "Joyride" #1 has a lot of that with sweeping artwork and science fiction ideas. The characters were a little thin and the framing of the environment could have been a little less bland, but this clearly is going somewhere (literally).

Awesome ideas and explanations, weak plot, difficult to track coloring. That's "Karnak" #3, sadly, which feels more like snippets from Warren Ellis' notebooks than a story.

The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, "Extraordinary X-Men" #9, "Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor Year 2" #8, "Uncanny Inhumans" #7, "Action Comics" #51, "Tokyo Ghost" #6, "Troop" #5, "Astonishing Ant-Man" #7, "Jem And The Holograms" #14, "Captain America Road To War" #1, "Dark Souls" #1, "Chew Demon Chicken Poyo" #1, "Aquaman" #51, "Captain Marvel" #4, "Leaving Megalopolis Surviving Megalopolis" #4, "Hyperion" #2, "Superman Lois And Clark" #7, "Totally Awesome Hulk" #5, "Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor Year 2" #8, "East Of West" #25, "Deadpool" #10, "Star Trek Manifest Destiny" #1, "Invincible" #127, "Mighty Thor" #6, "Robin Son Of Batman" #11, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10" #26, "Second Sight" #3, "Doctor Who The Fourth Doctor" #2, "New Avengers" #10, "Dragon Age: Magekiller" #5, "Martian Manhunter" #11, "Star Trek: Starfleet Academy" #5, "Superman American Alien" #6, "Man Plus" #4, "Lucifer" #5, "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency A Spoon Too Short" #3, "Guardians Of Infinity" #5, "Legends Of Tomorrow" #2, "Transformers" #52, "Harley's Little Black Book" #3, "Nova" #6, "Aloha Hawaiian Dick" #1, "Starbrand and Nightmask" #5, "Flash" #50, "Puss In Boots" #1, "Captain America Sam Wilson" #8, "Doctor Fate" #11, "Silk" #7, "Black-Eyed Kids" #1, "Obi-Wan And Anakin" #4, "Clean Room" #7.

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

Yay, nothing was awful!


Nothing went badly, that's a benefit in and of itself.


Two jumps, no bad books -- it's a banner week for comic books!


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. 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 toward 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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