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Spiders & Squirrels Make Mine Marvel

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Spiders & Squirrels Make Mine Marvel


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 …


Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

(Marvel Comics)

In an interesting surprise, this issue was merely good, not great. It had the standard very, very funny humor you’ve come to expect, plus effective and amusing artwork (Bass Lass?). What this issue didn’t have was a clever, well considered plot. It strung together some almost Elseworlds-esque gags into a pastiche of punchlines and punching. Nothing wrong, but whereas this series just (in its own words) “stopped Galactus on the moon with the power of friendship,” this is not exactly keeping up the same pace.

All-New Captain America Special #1

(Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. This issue made the jump despite its titular character only being moderately adequate at his job. No, this comic belonged to Peter Benjamin Parker, who did literally everything right even while being a slapstick screw up. Hilarious banter? Check. Inspirational commentary? Check. Saving the day by making sure all the pieces — FalCap, a team of Inhuman “interns” — are all in the right place at the right time? Check. The plot even gave the antagonist an arc, which is funny because this is part three of a story and the first two parts (again, other than Spidey’s jokes) could be forgotten. Some readers remember days of finding an odd issue on a spinner rack and jumping in mid-story, but getting everything you needed. Jeff Loveness’ script will take you back there, and the visuals from Alec Morgan, Nolan Woodard and Vic Sabino kept the story moving excellently. Quite a pleasant surprise, like a breakfast burrito after a hard day.


Great but expensive, since the collected “Concrete Park: R-E-S-P-E-C-T” came out in TPB, that “Empire” trade is hot as well, plus the “Valiant Universe Handbook 2015 Edition” #1 (this column loves a handbook)? Good reading all around.


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

“Arcadia” #1 is a fascinating science fiction conceit, with most of the world’s population rendered virtual and the sad survivors supporting their endlessly hot server farms. The economies of haves and have nots remain as they are today, but the means by which they manifest fascinate. If the artwork was less twitchy, or the characters had more time to develop, this could have really been amazing. As it is, it’s an intriguing idea to explore.

Re: “Convergence” #5. Hh. The wholly boring and retrograde plot smacking of “Secret Wars” and “Contest of Champions” has morphed into … something different. Something almost new. The old Warlord villain Deimos has hijacked the whole shebang and has big, big plans after smacking aside Earth 2’s Superman and Green Lantern. The plot twists in a way that you can’t easily see how it’ll proceed (even while admitting that Deimos is essentially Doom in the last couple of issues of “Secret Wars” … the one from the ’80s, not the new one) and that’s at least refreshing.

If you know the characters and the shorthand of 20th Century Americana, “Afterlife With Archie” #8 will be rich with cultural significance and toying with your memories. Plain, dull Archie Andrews is the arguable leader of a group surviving a zombie apocalypse, literally haunted by his dead best friend, weighing the costs of generations of Norman Rockwell normality. Heady, moody stuff that casts a pall on the halcyon eras of yore, but if you either come new to the characters or lack a grounding in the “real America” mythos, the archetypes (no pun intended) ring hollow.

On one hand, “Convergence Harley Quinn” #2 had some pretty madcap moments as “the devil’s ex-girlfriend” proves that she does have some pretty sneaky super powers, just not the ones she may mention. On the other hand, the match up is kind of ridiculous (not in a comedic fashion) and Captain Carrot is twenty times stupider than he should be. For the Harley fan this is a hoot, continuity cops will cry “shenanigans” and casual readers will wonder what’s even going on with the weird animal people.

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

“Harvester” #4, “Dead Drop” #1, “Ant-Man” #5, “Convergence Justice League” #2, “Thief Of Thieves” #28, “Spider-Woman” #7, “Masks 2” #2, “Convergence Nightwing Oracle” #2, “Zero” #16, “Neverboy” #3, “Operation S.I.N.” #5, “Convergence Speed Force” #2, “God Is Dead” #35, “Convergence Superman” #2, “Guardians Team-Up” #5, “Roche Limit Clandestiny” #1, “Uncanny Season 2” #2, “Convergence The Atom” #2, “Nutmeg” #2, “Convergence The Question” #2, “Punisher” #18, “Wicked + The Divine” #10, “Witcher Fox Children” #2, “Convergence Titans” #2, “Epochalypse” #6, “Day Men” #7, “Kanan The Last Padawan” #2, “Artifacts Lost Tales” #1, “Spider-Gwen” #4, “Swords Of Sorrow” #1, “Elephantmen” #64, “Secret Wars” #1, “Angel And Faith Season 10” #14, “Jupiter’s Circle” #2, “Swords Of Sorrow Chaos Special” #1, “Nailbiter” #12, “Rachel Rising” #33, “No Mercy” #2, “Rocket Girl” #6, “Convergence Batman And Robin” #2, “Orphan Black” #3, “Convergence Batgirl” #2, “Savage Dragon” #203, “Amazing Spider-Man” #18.

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

Yay, nothing’s bad! Excellent!


Nothing was bad! That by itself is an accomplishment!


Sure, a lot of those “Convergence” books were low “meh” category, but with intriguing collections (they read better that way) and solid purchases, this week wins in a big way.


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!

the buy pile
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