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The Buy Pile: The Fall of Dr. Otto Octavius is a Triumph

Superior Spider-Man #10

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 AUGUST 21, 2019

Superior Spider-Man #10 (Marvel Comics)Jump from the Read Pile. At last, Otto Octavius has it all -- academic acclaim (albeit under an assumed name), romance, a successful career as a hero and the adoration of people great and small. You KNOW that can't last, and when the threat of an interdimensional Norman Osborn comes knocking, it literally all falls down. Writer Christos Gage gets in a lot of super entertaining lines here and the sweeping artwork from Mike Hawthorne, Wade von Grawbadger, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles make masterful work of the surprises, thrills and truly touching emotional moments. This series has never been bad, but this issue truly kicked it up a notch. RATING: BUY.

Powers Of X #3 is coming together like the pieces of an altogether too-elaborate Rube Goldberg machine. Entire timelines and continuities are tossed aside for the sake of the plot. This is not bad, but it is certainly not a periodical comic book, virtually begging you to wait for the trade. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION (because you can't look away)

One of the problems of any pre-programmed entity is its need to stay ruthlessly true to its nature. In Star Wars Doctor Aphra #35, that's on display in many characters who aren’t even robots. Treachery isn't just expected, it's the only dish on the menu in many cases. There's a complex, circuitous road to get here (and a foolhardy attempt at staying the vengeance of someone inexorable). While the plot bobs and weaves, the characters are often frustratingly static, their choices too convenient (and, in one case, too easy). This series has never been bad, but this issue fails to completely satisfy. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Excellence #4 is a gorgeously depicted, intricate generational struggle played out between two powerful young men. Where do each of them stand? Why are they pitted against each other? Why are the rules they honor (or don't) so stringent? This issue is not really answering any of those questions. Feeling more like a novel excerpt put to visual life, this issue is surely of high quality, with top notch production values and a lot of thought put into every word on the page. Most of that thought, alas, is opaque to the reader, so it all feels good, but doesn't let you walk away with very much. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Absolute Carnage Vs Deadpool #1 is actually pretty funny, and this writing shows a great command of Deadpool's banter and shtick. Its core conceit is something beyond the control of these pages: the god of symbiotes wants murder through its lead whackjob carnage because ... the internet? Violent video games? Who knows, and really, who cares? If you like a good Deadpool laugh, though, this one is great (with a great running gag about a birthday gift that really ties the plot together). RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Psi-Lords #3 had a nifty bit of character interplay in its brutal ending, but the fact that the characters can be anybody makes it very hard to invest in them, as archetypes are not people. Gorgeous looking book and clearly has a lot of thought behind it (much like Excellence), but not enough secrets are peeking through the veil. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Fearless #2 was a mixed bag. On one hand, it the start of a really good team up story about a very unusual summer camp (the dialogue in particular was very strong) that had a jarring hard stop that was less cliffhanger for its next installment than a bad choice for a chapter break. The second story about the Night Nurse was, on the other hand, completely amazing. It was clever in every way, effective, action packed and well drawn. The last story about X-23 was, alas, an abbreviated version of stories better told in her own solo title. That's almost enough to justify five bucks, but not quite. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Showing that Damian Wayne clearly doesn't read comics, Teen Titans #33 sees the Son of the Bat trying a method Maria Hill used to address recidivism (that failed spectacularly ... honestly it didn't work in Identity Crisis either) while failing in the basics of team dynamics. The plots swirling around the team are just chaff from the crossover, not amounting to much worth seeing now. RATING: MEH.

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #2 tries very hard to connect with you through spectacle and sentiment, showing a challenged relationship with a sibling and the sheer, goofy spectacle of Jimmy's life. It all whiffs by, though, a cut scene instead of a story, a montage where an episode should be. The framing device is heavy handed and overwrought as well. RATING: MEH.

If Superman Year One #2 were called Irredeemable or Supreme or any other alternate take on what could be the industry's most dominant archetype, you wouldn't blink an eye. However, "Clark Kent, Navy Seal" and "Clark Kent, Atlantean Savior" is pretty hard to swallow without the word "Elseworlds" around. Even if you bought that idea, a swaggering, cocky, gun-wielding Kansas farm boy in the cut of Kal-El is still a little bit of a stretch if you end up with something remotely close to Tyler Hoechlin (okay, this might get you to Henry Cavill, but you don’t wanna go there). The talents involved insure that this book could not be objectively "bad" in execution alone, but conceptually this has drastic, significant challenges that can't be denied. RATING: MEH.

Black Mask Year Of The Villain #1 showed off some good characterization on its titular lead, but it fell down in the plotting arena, changing the former crime boss into some kind of low rent Reep Daggle imitator for financial gain and political power. There's not a lot of "there" there. RATING: MEH.

If you like Damian Wayne, you should not read Batman #77. This issue features him more than anyone else and makes him uncharacteristically stupid, drastically inconsistent within the span of a few pages and nowhere near the engaging individual that so many either loathe or love. That's first. The play on Nolan's Bat-ending, however, was actually kind of brilliant and should have been much more of the issue. Ah well. RATING: MEH.

Pretty Violent #1 is what happens if you took the gratuitous elements of Savage Dragon and stripped out the years of experience, the characterization and the moments that aren't insane. No thanks. RATING: NO. JUST ... NO.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

One buy versus one bad book makes the week wash out as a dead heat, even while many bravely quested for greatness. Meh. Let's try again next week.

THE BUSINESS

Have you picked up the finest in indie comics merchandise in the Operative Network Store on the site and on Etsy yet? There's new merch all the time, so run out and grab yourself some of the good stuff!

You can also check 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."

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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