Shakespeare, Super Powers & More Giant Robot Fun


Every week Hannibal Tabu (two-time Eisner-winning journalist/winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock -- hey Steve, Jason, Vince and Quislet) and 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 #20

(IDW Publishing)

It boggles the imagination to think that writer James Roberts fit so much story into so little space. Tyrest's master plan revealed, all of Skids' secrets are laid bare, Chief Justice Tyrest sings, some truly impressive science fiction concepts are displayed (Skids gun!) and this super ambitious issue does so much right. The subspace carrier wave will be interesting if, as it promises, it leaks into the companion title. Regardless, this is high octane storytelling, brilliantly conceived and delicately executed. A thousand times, "Yes!"

Lazarus #3 (Image Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

Super enjoyable, relentlessly entertaining, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark has crafted a really, really, really good comic book. Between the fantastic character work (there is a moment on a patio that was simply sublime, as was the sunset) and some remarkable action and scenic work from Lark and Santi Arcas, this story takes on a fractious relationship between two warring families that make modern one percenters look like poverty stricken hipsters by comparison. The politics are of the kind used by organized crime, and their intensity and stakes for every character are clear. This is, in effect, fantastic. Go back and read the timeline from issue #2 as well, since this just became a "buy on sight" title.

Kill Shakespeare The Tide Of Blood #5

(IDW Publishing)

Jump from the Read Pile.

This issue is in-freaking-tense, an ending that is epic in scale and captures the grandeur and amazing scope of the storytelling for this title. If you haven't been following along, this could be completely confusing to you and that completely doesn't even matter. The final battle between Prospero and Shakespeare himself, Romeo's intense sweep of emotions, there's so much good stuff here that it's hard to even get a grasp on it all. As good as the single issue is, the collected edition should be beyond epic, with a cliffhanger to boot. Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col are, to not be subtle about it, complete geniuses, and the burden carried by Andy Belanger and Shari Chankhamma is Herculean at least. Simply put: holy crap. This is why we read comics. This is what you do it for.


A fantastic start to the week.


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

"Captain Midnight" #2 is well done modernized pulp, executed lovingly and rendered with great skill. The titular hero, an old-school mix of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, is both smart and dumb at the same time, his 1940s bluster both a benefit and a deficit. Everyone around him simply plays cookie cutter roles, from the saucy damsel in distress to the buttoned-down G-man. If you like pulp -- hunting Nazis, dodging agents provacateur and so on, this will likely spin your propellers in the right direction.

"The Blood Seekers" is a richly rendered "sword and soul" graphic novel which is ambitious but problematic. The captioning denies the first rule of storytelling by telling and not trusting the artwork to carry the story. The challenge for the lead character Shange -- a goddess who gave up her divinity for love, only to have that love cruelly twisted by powers beyond her -- is a fascinating premise that's hindered by overzealous coloring and the aforementioned heavy handed captioning. Still, interesting to see fantasy work done in such a manner.

"Thor: God Of Thunder" #12 wasn't bad as three eras worth of thunder gods reacquaint themselves with planet earth. Jane Foster's visit could go better, Thor goes on a date after being asked out on YouTube and gets a new pal. Cute, but not four dollars worth of cute.

"Damsels Giant Killer" was actually pretty effective in making a vengeful queen break all the rules in order to avenge her fallen husband and save her people from a race of invaders bent on nothing short of genocide. The villains were more effective as a spectacle than as characters, while the queen's supporting cast was all but non-existent. Still, the central conceit was strong and well told by Leah Moore and John Reppion's script.

"Uncanny" #3 was extremely close to the mark, with the introduction of huge concerns interested in the super powered and lost. You could almost see Mister Abaddon from "Lost" as Deacon Styles, a power player who delivers exposition in a way that' smooth, not clunky. The coloring's a little dim, the plot's a little slow, but what's here is pretty engaging nonetheless and the story will likely knock your socks off when collected.

How can a special ops team divided against itself stand? This is one of the intriguing intellectual considerations of "G.I. Joe" #7, which brings back Cobra's Lome Test in examining their new Manhattan operational chief while Duke takes a phone call he does not want and new tech is showcased. Lots of interesting elements of previous story lines are back and being woven together as the struggle between counterterrorists and a Cobra that's many things to many people continues to be too vague to easily categorize. With crisper inking (admittedly, the poster shot of the Baroness is a keeper) and a little more narrative focus, this could have been a winner.

"Think Tank" #9 was pretty good in taking its lead character out of his climate controlled comfort zone and into some really messed up stuff. Sort of like when Tony Stark had to track down rogue suits of armor, Dr. David Loren's genetically targeted science death has been reverse engineered by Taiwanese bad guys intent on turning it against the Chinese threat just off their coast. Complex storytelling that needed just a little more plot to satisfy as a story.

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

"Rocket Queen & The Wrench" #2, "Aquaman" #23, "Occupy Comics" #3, "Secret" #3, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #25, "Batman Incorporated Special" #1, "Star Wars Legacy Volume 2" #6, "FBP: Federal Bureau Of Physics" #2, "Young Avengers" #9, "Mind The Gap" #13, "Journey Into Mystery" #655, "Transformers Prime Beast Hunters" #4, "Uncanny X-Men" #11, "All New Fathom" #2, "Transformers Regeneration One" #94, "Mind MGMT" #14, "Morning Glories" #30, "Fanboys Vs Zombies" #17, "Captain Marvel" #15, "Massive" #15, "Executive Assistant Assassins" #14, "Angel and Faith" #25, "Superman" #23, "Overtaken" #1, "Uncanny Avengers" #11, "Teen Titans" #23, "Deadpool" #15, "Mark Waid's The Green Hornet" #5, "Red Lanterns" #23, "King Conan The Hour Of The Dragon" #4, "Tom Strong And The Planet Of Peril" #2, "Skullkickers" #24, "Justice League" #23, "Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files Ghoul Goblin" #6, "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #26, "Sex" #6, "Green Team Teen Trillionaires" #4, "Doctor Who Prisoners Of Time" #8, "Flash" #23, "Secret Avengers" #8, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Robyn Hood Wanted" #4.

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

Intense fight scenes ... done off panel. Betrayal and double crosses ... hinted at. Thanos' new team (which wasn't badly developed) ... mostly working by insinuation. Talky, tedious and predictable, it's "New Avengers" #9 everybody!

Re: "Thanos Rising" #5 -- it's almost as if Thanos sang "I'm from Titan and I need to be lo-oo-ooved, just like anybody else does ..." Showing a disturbing new interpretation of the villain formerly known as the mad god, making him either a delusional nutjob or a lovelorn sucker with little impetus of his own. Tedious.


Just two stinkers? That's not bad.


Two jumps, ambition falling short more than failures happening in the reads ... this week wins in a big way.


As of right now, you can spend ten bucks and get about 175,000 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. 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. 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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