WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
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 ...
THE BUY PILE FOR AUGUST 24, 2016
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #11(Marvel Comics)This is simultaneously the smartest and most ridiculous issue ever. Nightmare has a plan to defeat the titular heroine, but as the title shows he clearly cannot accomplish this goal. In the process of reading this book, you will either learn (if you're like most people in the world) or review (if you're among the finest of geeks) some awesome facts about programming, numerology, all while literally dismantling Nightmare versions of a number of Marvel super villains. For this book to have so many layers is really a triumph of Ryan North's script, but the visuals provided by Jacob Chabot, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham give every moment that extra "oomph." A true triumph.
New Avengers #15(Marvel Comics)Jump from the Read Pile. The first time people saw "The Sixth Sense," many people went back to see it again, to see the multiple times in the narrative that clues were left as to what was really going on. That takes planning and time to consider. Writer Al Ewing had that time, and this issue shows the plan that's been in place for more than a year, plans that befuddled an alternate universe Reed Richards, plans that made the most of a shared universe and the wonder of cell phones as depicted by the art team of Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco, Jesus Abertuv and Clayton Cowles.
Deathstroke #1(DC Comics)Jump from the Read Pile. Wow. This is really good! Now, you can't let your attention wander for even a picosecond, and it might help a little if you read the "Rebirth" issue before it, but this is essentially a "done in one" story that does a LOT to establish the main characters (distant father, bored wife, frustrated kids, sarcastic "uncle"), plays very well with a scheme played out over multiple continents and with millions of dollars. Writer Christopher Priest is unloading both barrels with this razor sharp script, and the effective visual storytelling from art team Carlo Pagaluyan, Jason Paz, Jeremy Cox and Willie Shubert hang on with every twist and turn. Clever, mean and efficient, this is high octane storytelling.
Valiant Universe Handbook 2016 Edition #1(Valiant Entertainment)Jump from the Read Pile. This column has a penchant for handbooks, guidebooks, sourcebooks and all brands of definitive guides for a variety of reason. For the (essential) cost of one book you can get the essence of stories from dozens, maybe even hundreds of comics. That's value. Second, if you have facts on hand, you're instantly an authority on whatever subject is at hand, which gives you the upper hand in who'd win arguments online or in what we call real life. That's longevity. This one from Valiant is a little skimpy on details -- lots of characters got the "standard cocktail" of enhanced strength, speed, endurance, durability and what not without specifying how strong, how tough or whatever -- but instantly catches you up on everything the company has going on. None too shabby.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Hot diggity, that's a great batch of books that came home this week! Plus, a conflict of interest means "Aspen: Revelations" #2 can't be reviewed, but that came home too!
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy"Weird Detective" #3 was almost as good as the first two issues, hindered mostly by the fact its titular character was stuck in a visually unremarkable fight through most of the book. There was a lot of interesting things happening, many of which would be spoilers to discuss in detail, but while this issue wasn't strong enough to make it home, it was a long way from being bad.
"Rom" #2 wasn't bad, as it introduced some surprises and a really effective horror atmosphere. What it didn't have was a sense of urgency as the plot dragged along a bit, focusing on the small scale when it might have benefitted from pulling the camera back a bit. An improvement over the last issue, this series may just be finding its footing.
Had it done a better job of establishing itself and its characters, "Detective Comics" #939 would have been a heck of a story, with Red Robin doing hacking that would make Winn, Chloe Sullivan and 1980s Matthew Broderick proud. The emotional core of this story, a familial relationship between Batman, his uncle and his cousin, didn't have nearly enough room to shine but the breakneck pace of the plot did have its thrills. Not bad, but uneven.
"Chew" #57 got WEIRD. Yes, for a title like this, that is an enormously challenging bar to reach but this issue catches some air and achieves it. To say how would be a spoiler, and to know what it means would require having been along for most of this series' twisty ride. This is definitely getting into "gotta read it collected" territory, but if you love this series, it is giving so many rewards to its longtime fans.
"Dungeons And Dragons" #4 had some rock solid fight scenes but they seemed like sturm und drang without stakes, as the "team" didn't seem to be in much danger even after the "tank" went down. Great artwork, breezy plot that kind of whooshed by you without (pardon the pun) sinking its teeth in.
"Captain America Steve Rogers" #4 desperately wants to be a political-minded spy thriller, but barely involves its titular character, meanders all over the place and even people who work together work against each other. On one page you feel the rush of something happening, and on the next it's like, "What?" Ambitious, but deeply, deeply flawed.
"Thief Of Thieves" #34 is a round in a challenge between some of the world's finest thieves. In that it's just a round, it lacks the establishment of the situation or the characters, but when collected this will probably be an entertaining portion.
"Flash" #5 had some enjoyable elements -- the new love interest has lots of characteristics worth noting, Barry seemed to get some things right in the five seconds he was on panel, and the new, TV-inspired Wally (not the old Titans Wally many of you are used to) but the plot didn't really finish a thought. Not always easy to find your footing, even at that speed.
"Star Wars" #22 has a real swashbuckling feel as the rebels take on an impossible mission that seemed doomed from the start. The stakes seem high for the characters but with numerous derivative elements, this seemed like "Star Wars" paint by numbers, a karaoke rendition. Not bad, but not worth the asking price.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult,"Drax" #10, "Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps" #3, "Tank Girl Two Girls One Tank" #4, "Deadpool" #17, "Faith" #2, "Uncanny Inhumans Annual" #1, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #61, "Wonder Woman" #5, "International Iron Man" #6, "Lake Of Fire" #1, "Batgirl" #2, "Ghostbusters International" #8, "Lucifer" #9, "Nighthawk" #4, "Archie" #11, "Hellblazer" #1, "Tomb Raider II" #7, "Action Man" #3, "Rai" #16, "Titans" #2, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10" #30, "Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur" #10, "Renato Jones The One Percent" #4, "Action Comics" #962, "Godzilla Rage Across Time" #1, "Teen Titans" #23, "Kingsway West" #1, "Extraordinary X-Men" #13, "Mechanism" #2, "Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat" #9, "G.I. JOE A Real American Hero" #231, "Marvel's Doctor Strange Prelude" #2, "Invincible" #130, "Venom Space Knight" #11, "Judge Dredd" #9, "Assassin's Creed" #11, "Wacky Raceland" #3, "Generation Zero" #1, "Blue Beetle Rebirth" #1, "Captain Marvel" #8.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...Yay! No bad books this week!
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Mmm, the wonderful feeling of thinking nothing -- not even "Wacky Raceland" -- was that bad.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Three jumps, no bad books -- this week will forever be remembered as an epic one. Well, okay, maybe not "forever," but "at least until next week."
What's that? Midnight Tiger and the Operative Network? Oh, yeah, that's happening for #tigerthursday.
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 "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 and "Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook" #1, 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!