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Robots in a New Disguise

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Robots in a New Disguise


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…


Transformers More Than Meets The Eye” #43 (IDW Publishing)

If you’re looking for simple escapism and mindless entertainment, you are barking up the wrong tree. This issue is one of the most intellectually challenging pieces of science fiction out this year, an origami story with layers and twists and flights of fancy. To whit, Swerve is the bartender on a ship full of misfits and miscreants, out on a quest for the impossible. Through a very complex (and relevant to longer term plots) set of events, his consciousness has become trapped on a holographic version of Earth that is, essentially, the same as the sitcom “Friends,” complete with its own laugh track and theme song. Oh, if the crew can’t find him, risking their lives in the process, he will die. Without a doubt, this issue is relentlessly insane but wonderfully intimate, showcasing stakes both personal and grander than that. With a pearl-clutching ending, this enormously steep uphill climb pays off for the devoted reader. A crowning triumph by James Roberts, Alex Milne, Brian Shearer, Joana LaFuente and Tom B. Long.


An inexpensive and brilliant start.


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

If you’ve ever seen the Richard Linklater film “Waking Life,” some of the elements and definitely the atmosphere of “Material” #3 will seem familiar to you. Less a narrative and more a set of musings on life as it now, apparently, exists, this comic has powerful quotes strung together with hard to swallow realities about our modern and wildly inequitable police state. However, every character’s blank and desperate stare winds together, every moment is as impossibly hopeless as the next. Well drawn, beautifully referenced but sadly lacking impetus.

“Princeless: Be Yourself” #2 has a series of hilariously goofy moments and wonderful, engaging artwork. It doesn’t, alas, have a clear plot, more like “Invincible” where a series of things happen but its not exactly a story. Super fun characters, though.

“Sex Criminals” #11 was a bit slow getting to its head shaker ending — which is good, in the context of the book, but whoa. Not exactly up to the bar set in earlier issues, the self-indulgent meta section took a lot of the issue’s momentum.

“Lazarus” #18 is — as always — gorgeous. However, aside from a couple of moments of genuine emotion on a battlefield, its narrative rang empty. Likely an installment that will flow better in a collection, this fell short of the mark for a single issue.

If “Flash Annual” #4 has a message, it’s that with great power comes great aimlessness. Throughout centuries, Eobard Thawne collects a set of orphans and malcontents by selling them a story of commonality and protecting the world from a false idol. It’s as predictable as the characters are monochromatic but doesn’t do anything terribly.

“The Manhattan Projects: The Sun Beyond The Stars” #2 was a heist comic, sort of, with a Russian cosmonaut and his very altered dog reunited on the other side of everywhere trying to break into an interstellar empire for some reason or another. Good looking book but drinking far too much of its own Kool-Aid to let readers in on what the heck is going on.

“Mythic” #3 makes too many presumptions of foreknowledge for a crew working like “Planetary” did, keeping the weird of the world from overly mucking up the mundane. For all that, it posits a simply amazing quote and has some decent moments with rock solid John McCrea artwork. Perhaps stronger collected, this doesn’t do enough to stand as a single issue.

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

“M.O.D.O.K. Assassin” #3, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” #48, “He-Man The Eternity War” #8, “Low” #8, “Daredevil” #17, “Red Sonja” #17, “Sabrina” #4, “S.H.I.E.L.D.” #8, “Thrilling Adventure Hour Presents Sparks Nevada Marshal On Mars” #4, “Lobo Annual” #1, “Star Wars” #7, “Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor” #13, “Deathlok” #10, “Transformers Windblade” #5, “Invisible Republic” #5, “Herald Lovecraft And Tesla” #5, “Powers” #4, “Jem And The Holograms” #5, “Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars” #3, “Mercy Sparx” #8, “Tomb Raider” #18, “Ninjak” #5, “Transformers Combiner Hunters Special” #1, “Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor” #10, “Black Widow” #20, “Kids Of The Round Table” #3, “Wayward” #10, “Thors” #2, “Jungle Girl Season 3” #4, “Guardians Team-Up” #8, “Deathstroke Annual” #1, “Tithe” #4, “Shrinking Man” #1, “Batgirl Annual” #3, “Doctor Who The Ninth Doctor” #3, “Batgirl” #42, “X-Files Annual 2015, “Casanova Acedia” #3, “1602 Witch Hunter Angela” #2.

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

“Superman” #42 shows the titular character being dumber than he has ever been, trying to hammer a nail with an aircraft carrier (the new power is stupid too) facing down an antagonist he doesn’t even understand, let alone have a clue how to beat. Well drawn, interesting ideas, terribly executed in the script.

“God Hates Astronauts” #10 degenerated into complete chaos. It didn’t make any sense, the characters were unrelatable, the stakes didn’t seem to matter… it’s a good looking book, but it’s just a mess.

“Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Tales Of Terror” #13 takes an old cliche and tries to put a supernatural spin on it, but it ends up just two cliches mashed together. Decent art, less-than-inspired artwork and a narrative structure that lacked coherency and merit.


Ow. It was kind of ugly in there, this week.


Three bad books beat even the brilliance of one of the finest science fiction series in print, so the week has to be considered a stinker.


If you’re in Los Angeles this weekend, the writer of this column will be sitting on a panel at the Leimert Park Book Fair featuring “Agent Carter” season two writer Brandon Easton, “Living Single” alumna Erika Alexander, “Eraser” screenwriter Tony Puryear, “Librarians” and “Leverage” writer and producer Geoffrey Thorne and “CV Nation” producer DeWayne Copeland. 3PM at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, this Saturday.

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 e-mail address hasn’t been regularly checked since George W. Bush was in office. Sorry!

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