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The Buy Pile: Lies and Revelations

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
The Buy Pile: Lies and Revelations

Sabrina spins a secretive spell in "Jughead" #11.


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 …


Jughead #11 (Archie Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.

The previous installment is not necessary as this amazing issue showcases Sabrina keeping her secret from the titular character and Reggie Mantle with hilarious results. Writer Ryan North wields the same rapier wit used on “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” with devastating effect, the fun visuals from Derek Charm and Jack Morelli even got the classic house style of “Archie Comics” in flashbacks. Super fun and a pleasant surprise.

"Romulus" #2

Get ready for big time action in “Romulus” #2.

Romulus #2 (Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.

A simply amazing mixture of fantastic dialogue and stunning action sequences, all interwoven with such deftness that it barely seems like it’s not one brilliant mind working on this instead of a whole awesome creative team. Bryan Edward Hill’s script is bulletproof, an elegant example of choreographing words and ideas, but surely Nelson Blake the 2nd added gems of visual brilliance, as much as Troy Peteri’s death-and-taxes letters (with assistance from Deron Bennett) perfectly framed every moment. This is, in a word, amazing.

"M.A.S.K." #1

Nostalgia hits hard in “M.A.S.K.” #1.

M.A.S.K. Mobile Armored Strike Kommand #1 (IDW Publishing)Jump from the Read Pile.

This issue had some fantastically strong character work as the truth about the relationship between Matt Trakker and series antagonist Miles “Mayhem” is fleshed out in a very effective way while delivering some rock solid action scenes and establishing a status quo. Writer Brandon Easton works in pop culture references in great dialogue while the creative team of Tony Vargas, Jordi Escuin and Gilberto Lazcano made the visions of this script kinetic and effective.


Three unexpected comics found their way home, that’s a fantastic start.


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

“Star Wars Annual” #2 was very close to making it home when Princess Leia gets stranded on a planet desperately trying to avoid the war between the Rebellion and the Empire. Set likely between “A New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back,” this done-in-one tale is solid as it introduces a new character to the mythos and fleshes out a backstory that Jyn Erso would likely approve. Not bad, and if not for the crushingly awful signs of failure that “The Force Awakens” made evident, it could almost make you believe.

“Revolution” #5 hit hard with big fight scenes, the Joe team finally acting less emotional and stupid, an effective team up and a big splashy fight. Everything got wrapped up very effectively and in a manner that was a little too facile for its own good, with several of the participants in the crossover serving less-than-crucial roles here. Not bad at all, but not great.

“Uncanny Inhumans” #16 had some weird, wacky sci-fi ideas and a surprising bit of yelling, but it lacked an actual plot despite all the character work it did. Pretty book, though.

“Saga” #40 started making a turn back towards the complex character elements that once made it so glorious. There’s a splash page that is mind blowing, a clever use of the Lying Cat, a great character moment for a man who has foresworn violence and fun with Prince Robot, but ultimately it was a set of great moments that didn’t tie together well enough.

“New Avengers” #18 had a great opening but devolved into a plain Jane plot which continues this concept of a lifelong playboy being a secret genius. It is a little odd, like watching a hamster drive a Ferrari, but it’s not awful if you just kind of settle into it.

“Batman Annual” #1 started very strong with a virtually perfect short story by Tom King and an amazing Scott Snyder one behind it. It petered out as it went along, though, and the yuletide theme was a bit more than this many pages could bear.

“Black Widow” #8 had some simply remarkable action sequences and an enjoyable emotional conceit but felt a little too facile for its own good. This was a great second act, but needed a little more to stick the landing.

The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Totally Awesome Hulk” #12, “Suicide Squad” #7, “Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor Year Two” #12, “Cryptocracy” #6, “Generation Zero” #4, “Sex” #33, “Great Lakes Avengers” #2, “Savage” #1, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” #14, “Tarzan On The Planet Of The Apes” #3, “Ghost Rider” #1, “No Angel” #1, “Extraordinary X-Men” #16,”Surgeon X” #3, “Deadpool Back In Black” #4, “Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Red Agent The Human Order” #1, “Superman Annual” #1, “Voltron Legendary Defender” #5, “Six Million Dollar Man Fall Of Man” #5, “Doctor Who The Third Doctor” #3, “Skeptics” #2, “Thunderbolts” #7.

No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
“Wacky Raceland” #6 is frighteningly bad. It posits an origin for the … you could call them “characters,” supposedly. Anyway, the origin is both derivative and insipid. The action scenes are hackneyed and uninspired. The conclusion is embarrassing in its pointlessness. The moments are muddy and challenging to decipher. This book is terrible. Wow.

“Ms. Marvel” #13 was heavy handed and jingoistic, encouraging civic involvement during a time when widespread disgust and frustration with the political system runs through half the voting public (themselves only half of the eligible voters, the other half either so uninterested or disgusted or disenfranchised that they don’t even bother to show up). “Hey, it’s comics, not a political debate!” Well, it tries to be both in a “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” kind of way that seems dangerously naive in this day and age, not to mention a long way from being entertaining. A rare big miss for this title.


Just the two stinkers? That’s rough but allowable, based on numbers.


Three jumps, just two bad books, everything turned out pretty well.


Sorry about taking the week off, had to get stomach flu in Florida.

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, “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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