Soldiers, Spies... and Anime?


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 ...


Astro City #27

(Vertigo/DC Comics)

At the center of this, and many, issues of this brilliant series, remains a core idea: things are going to work out. Looking up in the sky isn't a sign of foreboding, but a sign that things will get better. In this issue, the origin of the strange heroine American Chibi is revealed as an interdimensional threat seeks a foothold in the world of Astro City. In the space of a single issue, master craftsman Kurt Busiek (with visual help from Joe Infurnari, John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft) delivers a sweeping tale of adventure, sacrifice and determination that's a delight to read. Too say much more would spoil the wonderful surprises, but this done-in-one issue is a great example of everything this series gets right, shining a beacon towards tomorrow for all to follow.

Grayson #12

(DC Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

Many people have opinions about the titular character -- how he's a hero, how he lied to the people closest to him on the heels of recovering from another betrayal, how he can't make it work with the love of his life. The secret organization Spyral wants him to be an espionage agent, a tool, a weapon. Hero, liar, lover ... none of them encapsulate the truth that this issue so wonderfully, so beautifully, so perfectly expresses. Dick Grayson is a performer. He's always been a performer, since first putting on those ridiculous colors and that domino mask -- attracting attention, smiling through the pain, making sure the show goes on. Tying him more closely to Alfred than ever before, in a way that's also delightful, Grayson tries to go home again and reconnect with his family, having different experiences along the way. As he does, he does something so perfect for his nature, so brilliant and so careful that it both respects existing continuity and teaches the reader something about him, all while dancing across rooftops and taking punches and playing chess in a way that would make Priest's T'challa proud. The story from Tim Seeley and brilliant "Omega Men" scribe Tom King (that guy is going places) is diaphanous, and the visual presentation from Mikel Janin, Hugo Petrus, Juan Castro, Jeremy Cox and Carlos M. Mangual is poetic and lush and fascinating. Superhero comics growing up in the best possible way -- much more of this, please.

G.I. JOE A Real American Hero #218

(IDW Publishing)

Jump from the Read Pile.

This issue is a savvy done-in-one that relies heavily on the technology of aerial combat. The narrative smartly focuses on two characters -- a snarky Cobra Strato-Viper and the G.I. Joe team's stealth fighter pilot (whose name no one remembers -- it's Ghost Rider, which was probably a bigger problem when this was a Marvel book), facing off with top tier tech over the Arctic circle. This method was successfully used by Duane Swierczynski in a "G.I. Joe" prose story a few years ago. Like a western, this high tech showdown leaves no one unscathed as hundreds of millions of dollars worth of avionics are pitted against each other with only steely nerves and razor sharp reflexes to decide the day. Just made the mark, but that was enough.

Fury S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile.

This issue just barely made the jump, a tale told first in diptytch before changing the rules and sending it into buddy cop territory. The art from Lee Ferguson and Jason Keith was a little rougher than it needed to be, but had rock solid visual storytelling. The central conceit was a little too spot on, for fears that it could become the new territory of time travel villainy. Nonetheless, the David Walker script is clever and moves several set pieces around in a very savvy fashion while also pointing out some terrifying parallels between two generations of Fury at SHIELD, also giving Gabe Jones some of his most believable moments in years. Rewarding stuff.


Holy crap? Three jumps? This is a great week so far!


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

"IXth Generation" #5 has a lot of fascinating ideas -- the Darkness as a power source, a plan thousands of years in the making, comprising almost every Top Cow in-universe comic ever printed -- but flies through them with such brevity as to keep the reader gasping about the last revelation while the next is dawning upon them. One moment of characterization with a deposed cyborg leader got way too little panel time as this book makes "Game of Thrones" look like a safe haven for characters. Not bad, but clearly in a hurry to get somewhere.

"Hacktivist Volume 2" #3 has some breakneck pacing on the plot and some very clever tech details that will have you side-eyeing your devices. There is very little room for characterization and the flat color palette is a bit bland but the core elements are strong. When this gets adapted to live action, it will really shine.

"Reyn" #8 is an interesting conundrum. On one side, there's a complex story about magical powers being used by brave humans in a fight against a technologically sophisticated reptilian race of conquerors. On the other side, a man lost a woman he was responsible for to those same reptilian conquerors. That sounds like it should be a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of a comic, with both flavors going well together. His single-mindedness shows through effectively, but the core of the former struggle remains elusive, done so matter-of-factly that it doesn't engage the reader with comprehension. Not bad, and very, very well depicted, but not exactly setting the world on fire with quips or content.

"Tithe" #5 was extremely close to making it home, positing a scenario that engaged politics and religion and law enforcement and tension in a way that'd make Carrie Matheson go off her meds and applaud. The twist at the end was delicious, there's a legitimate "holy crap" moment, the art was fun and the tensions felt real. Why not make the jump? The characters, again, don't connect -- that's fine on a show like "Law & Order," coming to you free through your television, with vocal tones and 44 minutes worth of pacing and production values to emote for you. Here the three arguable protagonists reach for a connection with the reader but fall short, and the parade of talking head supporting characters are largely expository. This story has enough of a high concept hook, at least, to see if it can grab more than headlines.

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

"Blacklist" #3, "Tech Jacket" #11, "He-Man The Eternity War" #10, "1872" #3, "Fight Club 2" #5, "Inhumans Attilan Rising" #5, "Thief Of Thieves" #31, "Justice League 3001" #4, "Years Of Future Past" #5, "Book Of Death" #3, "Wild's End The Enemy Within" #1, "Captain Marvel And The Carol Corps" #4, "Sinestro" #15, "Doctor Who Event 2015 Four Doctors" #5, "Negative Space" #2, "We Are Robin" #4, "Manhattan Projects The Sun Beyond The Stars" #3, "Princeless Be Yourself" #4, "Spire" #3, "X-Tinction Agenda" #4, "Wolf" #3, "Harley Quinn And Power Girl" #4, "Deadpool Vs Thanos" #2, "Transformers Windblade" #7, "Witchblade" #184, "Power Cubed" #1, "Flash" #44, "Book Of Death Legends Of The Geomancer" #3, "Runaways" #4, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Casey And April" #4, "Deathstroke" #10, "Shrinking Man" #3, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10" #19, "Weirdworld" #4, "Red Sonja" #18, "Batgirl" #44, "Elephantmen" #66, "Kanan" #6,

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

Nothing awful? Cool.


Can we just stop to be happy that nothing was awful?


Three jumps! No bad comics! THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST WEEK'S EVAR!


New music! More DJ gigs! An exclusive announcement of a panel at Stan Lee's Comikaze! THIS IS A HUGE WEEK!

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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