The Buy Pile: Batman & Squirrel Girl Are Comics' Smart Kids


Every week Hannibal Tabu (winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt/2018-2019 City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Cultural Trailblazer/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated) takes on an between seven to thirteen reviews (or so) to share his opinions with you. Thursday afternoons you'll be able to get those thoughts (and they're just the opinions of one guy, so calm down) about all of that ... which goes something like this ...


Batman Annual #3 (DC Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. You definitely want to stay until the end for this really well done book that centers on the relationship between Alfred and his not-so-youthful ward. Death is raining from the skies of Gotham and Batman has the flu. A competition between determination and circumstance is inevitable and the way this script delivers is why it's a decent gamble to just let Tom Taylor go and get out of his way. The somber but dynamic artwork from Otto Schmidt and Troy Peteri bring this issue home with great tension and emotional honesty. RATING: BUY.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #39 (Marvel Comics)

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #39
Asking all the right questions in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #39.

Something is strange with Tony Stark, and Squirrel Girl has to do some serious digital investigation to find out what's up. This issue is among the nerdiest of all, deeply diving into details about the workings of computers and the internet, engineering and the amazing restorative nature of public pools. Writer Ryan North dug deep for a large number of laughs here, a chance for every supporting character to shine and a good bit of effect for the arguable antagonist. The visuals from Derek Charm, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham make even a hacking montage entertaining. This book continues to find new ways to innovate superhero storytelling. RATING: BUY.

Star Trek Waypoint Special #1 has four pretty good short stories in it, including one of the best Q stories in print (the tone of the dialogue is spot on, and the fit in the timeline is fun), a surprisingly effective story about Data's cat (really), a solid one about the symbiont Dax and a kind of apocryphal one that makes it seem like there are some challenged spoilers on the way. At a price point of eight bucks, however, you should really love Star Trek if you wanna slap down your cash on this. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Unstoppable Wasp #3 had a lot of super engaging combat scenes and great artwork but doesn't delve into the questions it raises at all. Fanastic action, thrilling stakes, a nice bit of connection between some characters but not enough meat on the bones of this plot. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Detective Comics #994 also had solid action and a mystery to boot, but Batman didn't have mich time for detecting (he did a little) between the running and yelling and nameless, faceless, wordless threat at play. Not bad, and surely gripping, but not really up to par in terms of balance. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Miles Morales Spider-Man #1 spends too long on exposition and too little time developing its conflict, but it does put a new twist on things that could have been a thing if not going all Marvel Wiki for so many pages. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Bitter Root #2 has a lot of great concepts and great visual storytelling but has a lot of characters vying for panel time and mot much room to let us find out who they are. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

There's an ugly underbelly to Avengers #11 that tries to hide between whimsically ribbing the new kid and a date between Thor and Hulk (no, not the way you think). In the same way Henry Peter Gyrich once stood between the Avengers and a clear administration of justice, the United States government once again feels a need for more control and with a Wakandan king running the show, that's a tough sell. A thoughtful work that has some surprises, but isn't truly connected as a narrative. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Outer Darkness #2 was close to making the mark as a crew working on a spaceship through magic infested star systems struggles with challenges from within or without. There was so much action that we had little time to get a grasp on who was involved, but it certainly wasn't bad. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

It's hard for the murderous droid Triple-Zero to be anywhere without being a hoot, but the rest of Star Wars Doctor Aphra #27 was too slapdash and haphazard to be called a "plot," hitting you more like an intense level on a video game. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

NEXT PAGE: Mounds of "Meh," from Hawkman, Han Solo and Smooth Criminal

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