Shaft & Squirrel Girl Against The World


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 ...


Shaft #2

(Dynamite Entertainment)

Jump from the Read Pile.

The first issue of this series was virtually perfect. Normally, that means the second issue has a dip in quality, sagging in pacing or getting buried in exposition. Here? None of that. There is an astonishingly effective plot, which effectively runs through three distinct acts and dances between character and action with a deftness that is remarkable. The perfect final page, the tension of the return to Harlem, the hilarious job interview, all humming together smoothly like the purr of an idling Aston Martin. Writer David Walker has crafted a simply flawless period detective story, and when combined with the crisp, fluid, graceful artwork of Bilquis Evely and Daniela Miwa, stands up with the likes of dramas you'd see on AMC. Relentlessly effective, masterful craft on display here at every stage of the work.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

With unquenchable pluck and pitch perfect humor, this spotlight on one of Marvel's most amusing characters hits every note in a virtually flawless chord of kookiness. The titular character co-opts Peter Parker's unused (and likely heavily licensed) tune to her own furry interests while getting ready to go to college on the same campus that generated Dr. Doom, Peter Parker, Reed Richards and Bruce Banner. This leads to hilarious results, including a great confrontation with Kraven the Hunter and flirting with a fellow student. Engaging, entertaining stuff for fans of any age, this is great work from Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi. Quite a joy.


These two, plus "Separators" #2 (which can't be properly reviewed due to a financial conflict of interest) make it a pretty doggone solid week of purchases.


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

"Ant-Man" #1 had some solidly entertaining moments and a very good grasp of Scott Lang's Star Lord-esque scoundrel vibe, but in telling a story of a bumbling father who wants to do good it does a far better job of depicting an awful hero failing at everything else. The Tony Stark segment was good, the relationship with Cassie was good, but the whole wasn't as strong as its parts.

Taking the toys of the Top Cow universe to a far future conclusion, "IXth Generation" #1 leaves Aphrodite IX and the Coin of Solomon in the middle of a far future war with her Greek pantheon-named siblings making murder games of the cybernetically enhanced denizens of the 23rd century. Trying to stop the chaos means a trip to the moon and the Artifacts of old coming into play -- the Darkness unleashed, the Blood Sword and the Witchblade. Interesting plot but wholly vacuous characters -- the supporting character tagging along for the trip could have literally been anyone else and it would have made no difference -- made this solid idea not hit the mark in execution.

"All-New X-Factor" #19 had, at its center, a rock solid fight scene where the story did its best work. Danger again shows up as a star in two very effective scenes as the team fights a resurrected god on a schedule. However, with a set of cannon fodder getting lost in the shuffle and an unclear ending sequence, it didn't close the deal.

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

"Deadly Class" #10, "Hulk" #10, "Action Comics" #38," "Fade Out" #4, "X-Men" #23, "Robocop" #7, "Punisher" #14, "Aquaman And The Others" #9, "Iron Fist The Living Weapon" #8, "Terminal Hero" #5, "Wolverines" #1, "ODY-C" #2, "Legendary Star-Lord" #7, "Earth 2 World's End" #14, "Shinobi Ninja Princess" #5, "Swamp Thing" #38, "Lady Killer" #1, "Hawkeye Vs Deadpool" #4, "Justice League 3000" #13, "Feathers" #1, "Shadow Show" #3, "Ghost" #11, "Lobo" #4, "Sinergy" #3, "Operation S.I.N." #1, "Magnus Robot Fighter" #10, "Fairest" #33, "God Is Dead" #26, "Batman Eternal" #40, "Angela Asgard's Assassin" #2, "Eternal Warrior Days Of Steel" #3, "Spider-Man 2099" #7, "Detective Comics" #38, "V-Wars" #9, "Tech Jacket" #7, "Storm" #7, "Earth 2" #30, "Birthright" #4, "New 52 Futures End" #36, "God Hates Astronauts" #5, "Amazing Spider-Man" #12,

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

"Bucky Barnes The Winter Soldier" #3 may have the thread of a legitimate narrative in its mishegas of bootleg Grant Morrison-isms, but it's hard to find. Assassination in a world of hive minded pacifists, posting embarrassing photos of alien mishaps online ... this tries so hard and fails so mightily. Let's move on.

Drinks with a self-absorbed speedster and an emo cop type renowned for his rage, only to have his ex tell him he'll find someone remind him she's now dating his successor. Was "Green Lantern" #38 supposed to be a limp coming of age film or a comic book? Oy.


A little better than worse, we'll call it a good sign here.


Two jumps, the bad books didn't outnumber the good -- that's a winning recipe if ever there was one!


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, the official guide to the flagship franchise for Aspen Comics. 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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