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 FEBRUARY 8, 2017
Detective Comics #950 (DC Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. There are two back up stories that get less important as you go along. The last, a flashback with Tim Drake, is just a well drawn trailer, so we can slip past that. The second story shows Lucius Fox's son and Azreal having a fascinating discussion about the nature of faith that was a great character piece that also showcased the training mechanisms Batman has in place. No, the lead story is where it's at, as Cassandra Cain struggles with the old Oasis line, "there are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don't know how." Writer James Tynion the Fourth uses a brilliant framing device to showcase what the heroine called Orphan truly wants and how trapped she is in her lethal body. The visuals from Marcio Takara, Dean White and Marilyn Patrizio make Gotham City's harsh charms come to life. This is an amazing issue.
Power Man And Iron Fist #13 (Marvel Comics)
Alex Wilder (soon to grace screens as part of a Hulu series) is brilliant but sloppy, powerful but reckless, and that dichotomy makes him a volatile wild card that Harlem can barely handle. The titular twosome struggle with challenges personal and legal (possibly setting up the new solo "Luke Cage" title) while everybody else tries to find a place to hide or a way to fight. Writer David Walker balances a fairly big cast well, while the visuals from Elmo Bondoc, John Rauch and Clayton Cowles make a fairly talky issue dynamic.
Deathstroke #12 (DC Comics)
Dancing between legality and lethality, Slade Wilson keeps getting dragged into foolishness, but nobody can make it stick. A central African dictator wants to take back his ill-gotten country, which means using Slade as a distraction for a fun new addition to post-Rebirth DC continuity. The clever Christopher J. Priest script deftly ties together disparate plot threads (the Minnesota stop was funny) so the visuals from Larry Hama, Joe Bennett, Mark Morales, Jeromy Cox and Willie Schubert can dazzle. Smart, savvy work here.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #17 (Marvel Comics)
An old saying goes, "never look a gift horse in the mouth," but if it's a gift chicken and a chef that's a bear, maybe further vetting might be required. In any case, this issue showcases Doreen going to an optional lecture on responsible computer programming (much more interesting than it sounds) and ends up getting a whole new modus operandi. This leads to a simply hilarious fight with the Rhino (probably cranky after that inelegant business over at New U) and an engaging last page reveal (that makes more sense the more you think about it). In addition to the super hilarious commentary in the page margins, writer Ryan North puts together a cohesive, complete and engaging story in this issue while the expanded art team of Erica Henderson, Chris Schweitzer, Rico Renzi (fun bit about him in the book) and Travis Lanham make every panel a slice of hilarity and fun. There is so much entertainment on every page, what a delight.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Big laughs, heartbreaking moments ... heck of a way to start.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"East Of West" #31 didn't do much in terms of characteization for its second half but man, did it send a message on the challenges of a fascist state. Gorgeous artwork, big ideas, but the execution falls just shy of making it happen.
"All-Star Batman" #7 would have made it home had the artwork been as strong as the conceptual underpinnings. Batman has a problem that only Poison Ivy can solve, and getting from point "A" to "B" is a mystery that worked well. The needless action scene that Batman easily had the resources to avoid was pointless and ate too much time from the otherwise brilliantly conceived done-in-one book.
"Green Valley" #5 has knights fighting dinosaurs and cultural imperialism with a time traveling touch. Not bad, but there wasn't room for much more than spectacle, even with the hints of heroism between each lead.
"Ms. Marvel" #15 had what could be a wholly original take on an antagonist as Kamala Khan literally chases a ghost in the machine. There were some very clever elements (watch the teen drama closely) and with a more conclusive ending, this could have made it home.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened ...
"Infinite Seven" #1, "Justice League Of America Rebirth" #1, "Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor Year Three" #2, "Totally Awesome Hulk" #16, "Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey" #7, "Doctor Strange And The Sorcerers Supreme" #5, "James Bond Felix Leiter" #2, "Deadpool The Duck" #3, "Titans" #8, "Namesake" #4, "Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps" #14, "Guardians Of The Galaxy" #17, "Red Sonja" #2, "Kingpin" #1, "Wicked + The Divine" #26, "Unworthy Thor" #4, "Ninjak" #24, "All-New Wolverine" #17, "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #7 "Blue Hour" #4, "Uncanny Inhumans" #1.MU, "Torchwood 2" #1, "Star Wars Doctor Aphra" #4, "Rom Annual 2017," "Superwoman" #7, "Death Be Damned" #1, "Black" #4, "Wonder Woman" #16, "Throwaways" #5, "Foolkiller" #4, "Brigands" #4, "Angel City" #5, "Supergirl" #6, "Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows" #4, "Transformers Till All Are One" #7, "Snowfall" #8, "Flash" #16, "Steven Universe" #1, "Earth 2 Society" #21, "Savage Dragon" #220, "Birthright" #22, "New Super-Man" #8, "Motor Crush" #3, "Inhumans Vs X-Men" #4, "Alters" #4, "Black Widow" #11, "Tomboy" #10, "Black Science" #28, "Justice League Power Rangers" #2, "Divinity III Shadowman And The Battle For New Stalingrad" #1, "Action Comics" #973, "Jessica Jones" #5.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Khaal" #2 used superpowers gained in the most unpleasant of ways to create a castaway character as a prop (not cool) and still did nothing to develop characterization. Everyone's a flat stereotype, plot points seem like whims ... if this wasn't this good looking, this would be a catastrophe instead of a minor annoyance.
"Scooby Apocalypse" #10 normally runs on the low edge of mediocre, but to commit a cardinal storytelling sin made this an eyerolling stinker. Blech.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Bumps in the road, as many "meh" scores were on the low side of the spectrum.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Let's call it a win because liking four books beats hating two.
An ancient Egyptian demigod battling demons and angels on Los Angeles streets. "Menthu: The Anger of Angels" posts a page a week throughout 2017, with words by this columnist and art by Glyph Award-winner Robert Roach.
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!