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The Buy Pile: RPGs and Bounty Hunters Elevate the Week

Crowded #9

WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

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 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 ...

THE BUY PILE FOR SEPTEMBER 4, 2019

Crowded #9 (Image Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. The premise of this series -- a very annoying woman with a crowdfunded price on her head and the down-on-her-luck bodyguard protecting her -- has made certain this series has never seen a bad issue, even when it may have crossed a wire or two. This issue takes every thread of this series and spins them with the efficiency of the finest of Spider-Men. The twist ending is a fantastic result of all the shenanigans thus far and the plotting here is top notch. The script from Christopher Sebela is tense where it needs to be, funny where it has to be and engaging all the way through. The visuals from Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, Triona Farrell and Cardinal Rae are super enjoyable and this issue has a lot going for it. RATING: BUY.

Die #7 (Image Comics)

Die #7
Die #7 tells the character the Fool, insisting it's his turn to roll.

One of the true joys of a role-playing game is in the name, creating a character and staying true to it regardless of what situations arise. This issue centers on the Fool, a belligerent, drunken maniac resistant to learning and using what some would call a character flaw as the source of his power. Watching him stumble through adventure after mishap is kind of like watching those videos of people skateboarding who fall and hit themselves in the genitals. It's horrifying, but you can't look away. Writer Kieron Gillen makes this bro-tastic character invested in his flaws and the visuals from Stephanie Hans and Clayton Cowles (who really distinguishes himself with the lettering here) make the tragedy impossible to ignore. This series has layers upon layers, and watching them unfold is a revelation. RATING: BUY.

On one hand, House Of X #4 is remarkably focused (especially compared to other recent issues) with two groups of people working in concert for drastically contrary goals. On the other hand, it's the sort of thing that would make the licensing department do a spit take with preposterous consequences that literally cannot be believed. This feels like an Elseworld-styled story dressed in the clothes of a regular issue, but that's a question for history. In the present tense, this is a solid, linear book that makes the stakes of Uncanny X-Men #280 from 1991 look like it didn't try very hard. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

If you're familiar with the term "slobberknocker," Immortal Hulk #23 is that in extreme amounts with military forces trying to work on the title character's weaknesses and ... well, Hulk doing what he does best. The supporting cast has become a macabre cadre of nightmares (save the sole observer), who mostly horrify and disquiet in a fairly entertaining if limited fashion (the dumbing down of Betty Ross galls a bit). Creepy work that does well mixing superheroics with horror, even if it didn't quite do enough to develop the stakes this issue. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Fantastic Four #14 is dripping in nostalgia as Reed can't resist the call to revisit something he thinks he left undone ... and in the most inefficient, archaic way possible. The urge to restore old cars and old computers is adorable, but this is bad comedy. Only Alicia Masters shows a great sense of characterization, wonderfully exhibiting a lot of what marriage is like and why it endures. Otherwise? RATING: MEH.

Justice League #31 had snippets and moments where it lifted you up -- the wonder of Kamandi, the desperate focus of Hawkgirl -- but got mired in the JSA nostalgia and the scattershot plotting and the talking, spirit, the incessant talking. The "Justice/Doom War" is less a war and more a C-SPAN debate about super powered altruism. RATING: MEH.

Curse Words #24 certainly turned up the volume on the fight between the main characters, but it did so without making the sacrifice meaningful -- what was lost wasn't valued in the eye of the reader due to limp characterization, so the loss was like Ensign Johnson beaming down to the planet. RATING: MEH.

Legion Of Super-Heroes Millennium #1 wants to take you on a scenic trip into the land of worldbuilding. What's that you say? Well, no, world building is not storytelling per se, but it is an essential part of world building, like the work a sous chef does before the meal is actually cooked. Yes? Well, okay, it does seem odd to ask you to pay for the work done by a sous chef, but this is top-level names working on ... okay, it's not exactly telling a story, but it will make the story have some context. Sorry, what? Well, yes, normally that is done in situ and it could be considered needlessly labyrinthine at best and borderline condescending at worst to presume to do it this way. At least you get to see the Legion? Oh, no, sweetie, there's no actual Legion in this book. Even the variant cover with its false advertising is nothing like what actually happens in these pages. Well ... yes, given all that, you're right, there's only one rating this book could get. RATING: NO. JUST ... NO.

Doomsday Clock #11 is complete and utter gibberish. Thoughts get started and abandoned, theories are thrown out, and the plan Ozymandias concocted made the Zemo plan from the Civil War movie look uncomplicated by comparison. The thing with the pictures? The two Flashes one? Despite its visual gorgeousness, this long national nightmare must stop. RATING: NO. JUST ... NO.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

The week's a wash with two terrible big ticket books punching alongside two smart plucky indies.

THE BUSINESS

Have you checked out season four of the free web comic Project Wildfire: The Once and Future King? While you can, read the whole thing for the best possible price: "free."

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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 Scoundrel (historical fiction set in 1981 east Los Angeles), Irrational Numbers: Addition (a supernatural historical fiction saga with vampires), 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 to try and review the work, 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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