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 MAY 4, 2016
Howard The Duck #7
Jump from the Read Pile.
To keep things honest, it's a light week. This issue is ridiculous and hilarious in all the right ways, and while it doesn't really do anything important, it does it in an energetic and engaging way that can't be denied and rewards multiple readings. The titular anthropomorphic waterfowl leads a truly disparate group of superheroes to the Savage Land for things Jeff Goldblum clearly would have considered a bad idea. Chip Zdarsky's script is funny and sarcastic and balanced, with a simply wonderful ending. Kevin Maguire continues to show his mastery of facial expressions and action sequences, balancing character moments and dance numbers with equal aplomb (with the help of Joe Quinones, Jordan Gibson and Travis Lanham, of course). Fun, kooky comics that are good for everybody.
New Avengers #11
Jump from the Read Pile.
The last page turns the cherished concepts of a character on their ear as the surviving New Avengers seek to save a world that barely notices they're there. The brilliance of these advanced ideas is both a spoiler and the key to this charming book, which touches on modern societal progress, has a number of solid laughs and still packs a punch. A pleasant surprise from Al Ewing, Gerarro Sandoval, Dono Sanchez Almara and Joe Caramagna.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Refreshing start to things, you have to like the hustle out there.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Thunderbolts" #1 is quite close to the mark, expanding on the "man on the wall" concept by making it a team book and adding an extremely funny whimsical element that makes the book unpredictable in a somewhat entertaining manner. The character balance is right but the plot doesn't do much, needing a bit more polish.
Imagine if Frank Castle had been trained from childhood to become what he is, but turned his rage not on organized crime, but organized corruption. "Renato Jones The One Percent" #1 turns the guns on the richest of the rich, hunting them down where they feel safest, sneaking up on them like Ninjak. The stylized art might not work for every fan, but the set up was intriguing and had some bite.
"All-New Inhumans" #7 introduces Utolan, an isolationist Inhuman city hidden in a mountain in Mozambique, governed by a "maternal council" and now, visited for the first time in decades by a trio from Attilan: Gorgon, the Inhuman daughter of Kraven the Hunter and a scarcely developed character named Flint. The plot and larger concepts are intriguing, but most of the characters here are flat and uninspiring. Maybe working on being something.
"4001 A.D." #1 has a huge finale -- literally huge -- but it lacks strong connections with most of the characters. The single character who does establish her motivations kind of meanders on the sidelines. A little bit vague on the visuals but stepping up the game in the "holy crap" scale of things.
"Actionverse" #4 is a pretty good Molly Danger book ... which is odd, given that it bills itself as a Midnight Tiger book, and that character is a peripheral factor in the issue. There's nothing wrong with an extended punchfest, especially with this top notch artwork, but the narrative doesn't move along very effectively and that's a detriment.
"Contest Of Champions" #8 had some rock solid moments, helping Night Thrasher level up in a big way, but turned the previous contest into something that wasn't so much won but kind of snoozed until another time? Beautifully depicted, some great moments but ending up like a wild swing that didn't connect.
"Amazing Forest" #5 could be called "collection of poorly considered ideas" as each short story in this anthology styled issue featured somebody making a terrible mistake and then having to deal with the more than likely lethal consequences. Cautionary tales for stupid people? Maybe. Mostly told well, good art on the first and third ones, but creepy, macabre stuff.
"Amazing Spider-Man" #12 was doing very well with a new manifestation of Parker Luck showing up at the debut of Peter Parker's newest charitable foundation and a manhood-measuring contest with Tony Stark. The first half was interesting and engaging with quick wit and great visuals, but then the end of it turned dry and dull as a super villain implanted from another reality (long story) sucked the fun out of the whole thing. Not bad, but not at 100%.
"Empress" #2 is literally a book jam packed with thrills, and almost every page delivers another shocking, gasp-inducing action sequence as only Stuart Immonen (with Wade von Gradbadger, Ive Svorcina and Peter Doherty backing him up) could deliver. What's wrong? Well, with every panel shoving you deservedly towards the edge of your seat, there's not much time for characterization, not a lot of "why are we doing this?" For the price that's a problem, but this is surely thrilling if you can let go of things like "motivation" and, say, just decide that the male lead is Ser Jorah Mormont in space or something.
Like "Empress," "Dungeons And Dragons" #1 was all about kicking in the door and swinging those swords, and the action scenes were top-notch. Who are the people perpetrating this violence? Why are they doing it? Those parts of the story are a little more vague. Not bad, but not quite finding its footing past the spectacle of spells and swords.
"I Mage" #3 was a lot like "Dungeons and Dragons" except with a robot. Great looking book, decent ideas, less than compelling execution.
"Star Wars Poe Dameron" #2 brings in a fun new character named Agent Terex, who is a king of quips but the prequelled position of this story on the timeline robs it of some urgency (we know which characters have to be alive and the timeline before "TFA" is very short), plus the plot drags in order ti give Terex more time for one-liners while the titular character is almost a guest star (as Midnight Tiger learned). Better, but not there yet.
"Elephantmen" #70 was a crafty noir set up -- a femme fatale, a mystery in a box, bullets and tension. Like many noir stories, it relies heavily on archetype and what some might even consider cliche, but it's surely not bad. If the hard boiled, two fisted story is your cuppa tea, this sci fi spin on it will likely scratch that itch.
While "A-Force" #5 introduced a wonderful Dazzler Thor left over from the last crossover and had a fun fixation on pie, its central conflict lacked "oomph" and was only "TV good." Not quite enough story meat for the cost, but it wasn't bad.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, "Discipline" #3, "Invincible Iron Man" #9, "Gold Key Alliance" #2, "Moon Knight" #2, "Detective Comics" #52, "Insufferable On The Road" #4, "Nova" #7, "Space Battle Lunchtime" #1, "Green Lantern" #52, "AfterShock Genesis" #1, "Bloodlines" #2, "Weavers" #1, "Punisher" #1, "Kings Quest" #1, "New Suicide Squad" #20, "Bigfoot Sword Of The Earthman" #6, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Grimm Tales Of Terror Volume 2" #7, "Flash" #51, "Miss Fury Volume 2" #2, "Superman The Coming Of The Supermen" #4, "Scarlet Witch" #6, "Wicked + The Divine" #19, "Star Trek Manifest Destiny" #2, "Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor Year Two" #9, "Klaus" #5, "Spider-Gwen" #8, "Unfollow" #7, "Smosh" #1, "Predator Life And Death" #3, "Green Arrow" #52, "Vampirella Volume 3" #3, "Batman Beyond" #12, "G.I. JOE A Real American Hero" #228, "Devolution" #4, "Spider-Man 2099" #10, "Violent" #4, "Hot Damn" #2, "Gwenpool" #0, "3 Floyds Alpha King" #1, "Sheriff Of Babylon" #6.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Batman Superman" #32 was not completely terrible despite its tedious cliches (let's fight! it's a misunderstanding! let's team up!), the numerous characters doing a Luke Walton impersonation (the "useless teammate" version, not the "why is this guy a coach" version) and variant on the Black Hero Origin Algorithm adapted for China. This issue did, admittedly have fantastic visuals. The rest of it, though? Ugh.
Compromise. High-level coverups. Aiding and abetting hundreds of acts of illegal arrest and imprisonment. Tacit, if conditional, acceptance of more constitutional violations than even a Republican frontrunner could abide. Possibly cuckolding a man who can crack open small towns with a punch, depending on relationship status. "Captain America Sam Wilson" #9 was a triumph of failure and concession, a slippery slope of moral relativism that seems diametrically opposed to the titular concept. Maybe the Marvel universe press is right -- maybe he isn't the man for the job, especially with the fascist jurisprudence at the end of this book making American Kaiju look like it might have some points worth considering. Well drawn, wonderfully colored, deeply flawed at its conceptual underpinnings, like Frank Underwood wielding the shield.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Lots of books tried hard, which is always encouraging, even when many of them fall short.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Two jumps, two stinkers ... that's kind of a wash, isn't it? Let's just say there were worse things May the 4th could be remembered for.
This column's writer will be making a Free Comic Book Day appearance alongside Aspen Comics in Culver City! Should be fun!
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 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!