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 4, 2015
Amazing Spider-Man #3
Jump from the Read Pile.
The history of hilarity between Peter Parker and Johnny Storm goes back decades, so when Peter buys the Baxter Building for his new company’s NYC headquarters, that becomes … contentious. Writer Dan Slott has a fantastic command of the two lead characters and their long history of troubled friendship, and the action scenes — while stupid, objectively — fit the characters perfectly. The “unanswered phone call” subplot also worked out well as Zodiac makes a grand gesture against S.H.I.E.L.D. The visuals from Guiseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, Marte Gracia and Chris Eliopoulos keep the story close and engaging while delivering on all levels. Enjoyable comics all around.
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #46
The idea that a group of half-wit Decepticons could stand against the relentless engine of destruction that is Fortress Maximus may seem ludicrous, but when you read this surprisingly tender and effective story by James Roberts, you’ll find … well, not just more than meets the eye, but also further expanding the variety and scope of Cybertronian life as it’s spread across the galaxy plus the dangers of crowd sourced information. Unwitting excellence from a disabled veteran and a set of goofballs came across with fantastic visual detail from Alex Milne, Brian Shearer, John Livesay, John Wycough, Joana LaFuente, Tom B. Long and Chris Mowry.
Jump from the Read Pile.
Writer Tom King has taken the wicked brilliance that makes “Omega Men” compelling and twisted it into one of the oddest and most subversive comic books in recent history. The Vision has gone domestic, pre-fabricating himself a ready-made family as he works as a presidential liaison in Washington, D.C. This means synthezoid kids in high school, learning how to make memorized facts go together, and a mother straight out of the Police song “Synchronicity 2” trying to figure out how it all goes together. The Vision, as always, is an artificial man echoing Commander Data and a million other clockwork Pinocchios striving to be “real,” his woes and worries as thick as cloud cover over Seattle. The moody, matter-of-fact visuals from Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles bring it on home — literally — for this haunting, insightful slice of superhero subtext. Wow.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Pretty darned entertaining way to go into your Guy Fawkes Day …
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Detective Comics” #46 was EXTREMELY close to making the mark as Jim Gordon uses his skills as a detective and a cop to save almost the entire Justice League when an unusual investigation goes sideways. The horror/science fiction conceits of the story are kind of brilliant — well played, Peter Tomasi — and the teamwork of Gordon and Cyborg is surprisingly effortless. However, when you combine the sloppy work of both The Flash and Superman (who should have been able to handle this very differently, given their powers), the immaturity of Shazam (a new character trait that grates) and merely serviceable visuals, this misses the mark by a fingernail, despite the heartbreaking finale.
“Lazarus” #20 had a tightly plotted military element that showcased some great tactical ability. The subplots didn’t connect quite as well, but Michael Lark’s artwork is worth seeing no matter what. The long game — the war between rival geopolitical families — is moving far too slowly but the scenery is nice.
With equal parts “Scooby Doo” and “Doctor Who,” “Doctor Strange” #2 went on a merry chase through the TARDIS … er, Sanctum Sanctorum with an extradimensional threat looking like a cousin of Jackie Estacado. Not bad, but not exactly a meaty story as it made the companion, er, supporting character kind of a shell shocked throwaway and ran too hard and too fast to catch its breath and say something. Still interesting, just not the triumph of its initial issue.
“Midnighter” #6 had a simply delicious ending that’s superhero comics catnip. The road getting there is enormously labyrinthine and perhaps would play better collected, but that last page, though!
“Call Of Duty Black Ops III” #1 had outstanding plotting, rock solid art and realistic dialogue. However, its paper thin characterization doesn’t give much room for the reader to get invested in the pistoliers pulling the triggers. A worthy diversion for fans of military comics but nothing special.
“Unfollow” #1 has a fascinating premise but very little past that as a dying billionaire splits $17 billion between 140 largely random people (who have compatible smartphones and apparently used his app, which narrows the possible candidates to a fraction of the world’s population, but that’s neither here nor there). This would make a great first 15 minutes of a cable series, but it’s not enough story for one issue of a comic. Let’s see if it picks up.
“Star Wars” #11 is less of a story and more a set of unconnected details, a snippet between plot points that brushes past character. Chewbacca fights Dengar and Luke gets thrown into a gladiator pit, both of which end up pretty unconvincingly. The art is great, the dialogue is okay, the plot doesn’t do enough to be a single chunk of narrative.
“James Bond” #1 was a little slow — using the first half of the comic as an extended action piece that was all atmosphere was a bold but perhaps overly ambitious choice. The art was top notch but plot elements and characterization were kind of paint-by-numbers.
“Hercules” #1 was a solid if perhaps too serious take on the ancient hero of myth, living in Queens (some joke there, perhaps?) with former Avenger Gilgamesh turned into a couch potato. Hercules’ mystic abilities are spotlighted and he’s geared up with modern tech, but the whimsy and insanity of the “have at thee” years are wholly missing and that absence leaves this one a little dry. Let’s see if it comes along with spicier antagonists.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
“Pacific Rim Tales From The Drift” #1, “Green Arrow” #46, “Avengers Vs Infinity” #1, “Citizen Jack” #1, “Contest Of Champions” #2, “Lara Croft And The Frozen Omen” #2, “Deadpool” #1, “Bat-Mite” #6, “Drax” #1, “Batman And Robin Eternal” #5, “Extraordinary X-Men” #1, “Black Science” #17, “Howard The Duck” #1, “Hangman” #1, “Invincible Iron Man” #3, “John Flood” #4, “Marvel Universe Guardians Of The Galaxy” #2, “Lobo” #12, “Nova” #1, “Red Fury” #1, “Ninjak” #9, “Axcend” #2, “Doctor Who The Eighth Doctor” #1, “Angel And Faith Season 10” #20, “Harley Quinn And Power Girl” #5, “Exodus The Life After” #1, “Sherlock Holmes The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” #4, “Velvet” #12, “Klaus” #1, “Sex” #25, “Atomic Robo And The Ring Of Fire” #3, “Saints” #2, “Barb Wire” #5, “Paper Girls” #2, “Cage Hero” #1, “Green Lantern” #46, “Elephantmen” #67, “Justice League Darkseid War The Flash” #1,
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
In a day and age when a neck-snapping, dark-toned Superman is poised to gain a military-themed band of followers and inspire fear, perhaps someone thought “Justice League: Darkseid War Superman” #1 was just the dash of soot in your milk that’d go down as a chaser. Empowered by Apokoliptian solar energy, the “god of steel” has developed into even more of a jerk than normal, demanding pie and prancing around like Kid Miracleman (or Superboy Prime, depending on your point of view). A “mirror, darkly” look at the Last Son of Krypton that’s not entertaining.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
A hangry Kryptonian wasn’t enough to sink the whole ship.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Two jumps beat Superman needing a Snickers, so this week wins in a big way.
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 and “Soulfire Sourcebook” #1, the official guide to the 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!
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