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The Buy Pile: Cartoons, Counterinsurgency & the Counter Culture

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
The Buy Pile: Cartoons, Counterinsurgency & the Counter Culture

... it gets super weird in Astro City #45.


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 #45 (Vertigo/DC Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. When Astro City is at its worst, it’s still enjoyable and kooky, casting ideas you may recognize into fun new shapes. This issue, however, is Astro City at its best, a diaphanous, practically levitating narrative that gives a complete entertainment experience in its pages while casting a much larger tapestry and saying so much more. A whimsical superheroic presence called Glamorax learns about a forgotten history while revealing a meta-textual threat and throughline for, well, apparently the whole series. Like the insides of a Cisco router, it’s all connected! Writer Kurt Busiek has pulled out all the stops, and the visual team of Brent Anderson, John Roshell, Jimmy Betancourt and Peter Pantazis bring it home in grand style. Brilliant, informative, engaging — this is fantastic comics.

Transformers Lost Light #7 (IDW Publishing)

<i>Transformers Lost Light</i> #7

In Transformers Lost Light #7, Ultra Magnus is even more of a stiff than normal …

This issue is the end of a very long story, as the ragtag team makes decisions about continuing their journey. Relationships change, traumas are addressed, mysteries are ignored and many characters find joy and suffering on a world known for death. There are some wonderful quiet moments with Cyclonus and Tailgate that are sheer poetry in their poignancy. James Roberts puts several very powerful moments of character interaction here while Jack Lawrence, John Wycough, Joana LaFuente and Tom B. Long make giant robots emote and engage with great deftness.

Occupy Avengers #8 (Marvel Comics)

<i>Occupy Avengers</i> #8

Everybody is against Stevil in Occupy Avengers #8.

The world is upside down and the bad guys are in charge. What? No, this isn’t CNN, it’s CBR, and the ragtag “team” Hawkeye put together want to put things right using the most unlikely of solutions. Oh, and Hawkeye gets laid. Writer David Walker crafts some of the most effective scenes in this entire crossover, making things matter with actual stakes for characters struggling with their situations. The artwork from Martin Morazzo, Jorge Coehlo, Mat Lopes and Clayton Cowles brings this very personal story to life effectively. This is one of the few moments in the horror of “Secret Empire” that feels right.

Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1 (DC Comics)

<i>Batman Elmer Fudd Special</i> #1

You will not believe the hunter that comes to Gotham in Batman Elmer Fudd Special #1.

Jump from the Read Pile. Elmer Fudd: assassin. A ruthless hunter who came to the big city when he killed all that would die in the wild. Really. This is one of the noir-est things since Sleeper, as Batman faces a foe who is “unwike” any other he’s faced. Writer Tom King is a monster for taking so much of the classic Warner Brothers cartoon canon and weaving it so effectively into the underbelly of Gotham City. What’s even more surprising is how well Lee Weeks, Lovern Kindzierski and Deron Bennett made the action scenes vibrant and the quiet moments resonant. This is quite a surprise.


Super engaging works here, that’s a great start.


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

Star Trek The Next Generation Mirror Broken #2 had some wonderful moments of Bizarro fanservice (was that a suplex?) but again relies too heavily on materials not in evidence to sell its core conceit and stretches the plot too far.

The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …

You may have missed that we’re cutting this section of the work. If you don’t see a book, either it wasn’t available (“Rough Riders”) or didn’t merit a mention (“Clue”). Sorry for any inconvenience.

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

Flash #25 digs into the origin of his archenemy Eobard Thawne and, inexplicably, makes it so much more stupid than it ever was. In the history of pointless emo reasons to hate somebody, even the titular character was baffled at how nonsensical this was. Story? Not so much. Characterization? Appalling. This is not “Stevil” bad, but it’s close.

What is there to say about Secret Empire #5? Well, first of all, it’s boring. Its action scenes lack oomph and its plot points seem to run in place. There’s are two third act reveals that are either reminiscent of the worst ideas from “Civil War” (best case scenario) or totally undermining the creative choices made in “Civil War 2” (worst case scenario). “Stevil” begins to distance himself from his former “heroic” stance as even the (apparently dense) Odinson catches on to the doubt about the erstwhile Captain America and overall, this narrative is a mess, skipping across the surface of ideas like a stone on a pond. Make. It. Stop.

In Wonder Woman #25, she singlehandedly cleans up a mess that normally takes a platoon of heroes, gets called on the carpet for being upset (not cool with the mansplaining, Clark and Bruce), and has the core of her conflict solved without a whit of logic being involved. If this was some stunning story, perhaps that would be less irksome, but it’s not. You deserve better, Diana. You do. This ain’t right.


Three truly bad books and only one hnorable mention? That’s kinda rough in these streets, er, on these shelves …


We have to call it a narrow win as four purchases beat three embarrassing major label comics.


There’s still time to get signed up for the Operative Network newsletter The Briefing which will include a sneak peek from the supernatural historical fiction miniseries Irrational Numbers, a look inside X-Men Blue #6, convention news and much more. The Briefing hits your inbox on the last day of the month!

The writer of this column writes two weekly web superhero comics: Menthu: The Anger of Angels and Project Wildfire: Street Justice — free every week. Can’t beat “free.”

The writer of this column isn’t just a jerk who spews his opinions — he writes stuff too. A lot. Like what? You can get “Project Wildfire: Enter Project Torrent” (a collected superhero web comic), “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, a story in “Watson and Holmes Volume 2” co-plotted by “2 Guns” creator Steven Grant, two books from Stranger Comics — “Waso: Will To Power” and the sequel “Waso: Gathering Wind” (the tale of a young man who had leadership thrust upon him after a tragedy), or “Fathom Sourcebook” #1, “Soulfire Sourcebook” #1, “Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook” #1 and “Aspen Universe Sourcebook,” the official guides to those Aspen Comics franchises. 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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