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The Buy Pile: Live By The Sword…

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
The Buy Pile: Live By The Sword…

"Romulus" #1


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 …


Romulus #1 (Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. Much like the hyper enjoyable “Skybound,” this kinetic, relentless narrative follows the example of Fernando Martinez on Emotion 98.3, grabbing you by the crotch and shaking you until you don’t know if you’re a man or a woman! Breezily inserting an order of female assassins into the gigantic events of history, for some reason the secret society called Romulus turns on its most fervent weapons. Not to go all Buzzfeed on you, but what happens next will shock you as writer Bryan Edward Hill (with visual team Nelson Blake II and Troy Peteri) give you a high octane thrill ride of a comic book that is encapsulated well but also entices the reader to come for more.

"Green Valley" #1

A flaming arrow flies through the night on the cover of “Green Valley” #1

Green Valley #1 (Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. Once upon a time there were four knights. Bertram, the oldest and sourest of expression, did the talking as he had seen it all and done it all. Ralphus worried that his helmet made him look stupid. Gulliver had a bushy beard and a big personality. Then there was Indrid, who could hit a target with an arrow from more than two hundred yards away. Together they were known as the Knights of Kelodia and they kicked butt in a major way, so major a way that they were able to keep a harmless little walled kingdom safe pretty much by themselves and by their reputation. In these four is a tale of medieval adventure and tragedy so immersive that it’s practically virtual reality. Writer Max Landis has created fully fleshed out characters who live and love and interact with each other while the plot of their lives pulls them along. The visual presentation from Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cliff Rathburn, Jean-Francois Beaulieu and Pat Brousseau make this feel like a movie with high production values and great fight choreography. Intense, involving and engaging, this is an amazing fantasy title that gets the reader invested in the characters and present stakes that matter. Wonderful.


That’s an amazing set of debuts from Image Comics, and a great way to start off the week.


Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
Re: “Cyborg” #2. Lots to like here, giving the formerly dull technological supervillain Kilg%re a bombastic, monologuing bent. Giving a classic not so different speech and clearly working as a dragon for an eventual big bad with what seems like a kind of de rigueur Kill All Humans shtick. Fun dialogue, some fun moments, but two problems slowed it down. Strip out the dialogue and exactly two things happened: fighting and the last page surprise, so the plot needed a little pep. Second, the fact that the issue contained so many tropes without much variance from the core ideas was a long way from the emotional, savvy first issue. This is a good book, no question, but after the amazing issue preceding it, this is a bit of a let down.

“Champions” #1 is refreshing as it focused on actual superheroics and helping, not just the westernized right of might. Jingoistic nostalgia for clearer fights, allusions to real problems, a dash of modern slang, it’s solid if unremarkable in its platitudes.

“Black” #1 had a wonderful (if unnamed) character go full Morpheus (“Matrix,” not Gaiman) on the bulletproof lead character Kareem Jenkins, illegally gunned down by NYPD. Sound familiar? It is, but this collection of familiar ideas was being woven together with some new swing to it when it just … stopped. The issue came to an abrupt halt just when it was warming up. Enticing but frustrating like a hot and heavy date that runs off to save the city, let’s see if it can keep this going next issue.

If nostalgic mid-century pulp is your thing, “Angel City” #1 has what you want in a “good girl gone bad” story set in 1950s Hollywood. Bribery, organized crime and dashed dreams are all bathed in the neon lights of tinsel town, and this nostalgic take would fit well as DLC for “L.A. Noire” or a Raymond Chandler tribute.

If you like supernatural mystery with a hint of gothic romance, “Deadman: Dark Mansion Of Forbidden Love” #1 will likely get your gears grinding as everybody has questions they can’t answer. The titular Boston Brand is trying to solve a mystery and a young woman who can see ghosts just wants things to be normal. Lots to unpack here and if you’re in a “Tales from the Crypt” mood, this might be your thing.

“Revolution” #2 brings together disparate pieces in an effective story that sticks the landing. MASK takes the field against two Transformers while Rom fights against four more. The characterization of Scarlett is a sticking point, as she’s much less the cool intelligence operative and more an emotional reactionary. Likewise, the Joe team as a whole seem wasted here, as they are about as effective as Cottonmouth’s goons on “Luke Cage.” There’s fun to be had here, especially if you’re a fan of any of the properties involved, but the whole shooting match lacks gravitas (even with that sweet last page).

“He-Man Thundercats” #1 is a cute if cursory crossover that sends Mumm-Ra after He-Man’s sword at the behest of the Ancient Spirits of Evil. There’s some weird moments and a snarky narrator that has a last page surprise which works pretty well, but with superficial characterization all around it’s not gonna get you invested if you aren’t already in love with one or both of these properties.

“Bounty” #4 had a clever, fun bit of plotting but the characters could use a lot more fleshing out to make the stakes matter for the reader.

“Green Arrow” #8 keeps trying to find its balance between the quip-heavy hippie with facial hair and the grim, physical bowman made popular by Stephen Amell and not finding it. Leaning heavily on the island as depicted in the new and the Black Canary romance as it existed in previous continuities, it had some nice moments but wasn’t anywhere near prime time as plots go.

The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Death Of X” #1, “Flintstones” #4, “Insexts” #8, “Squadron Supreme” #12, “Walking Dead” #159, “Green Lanterns” #8, “Spidey” #11, “Hard Case Crime Walter Hill’s Trigger Man” #1, “Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Genesis Heroes Reborn” #1, “Superman” #8, “Uncanny X-Men” #14, “Cirque American Girl Over Paris” #4, “James Bond” #10, “Jessica Jones” #1, “Midnighter And Apollo” #1, “Eclipse” #2, “Amazing Spider-Man” #19, “Shade The Changing Girl” #1, “Dungeons And Dragons” #5, “Homies” #1, “Bloodshot Reborn” #18, “Paper Girls” #10, “Spider-Man 2099” #16, “Future Quest” #5, “Doctor Who The Ninth Doctor” #6, “Marvel Universe Avengers Ultron Revolution” #4, “Big Trouble Little China Escape From New York” #1, “Justice League” #6, “Shipwreck” #1, “Doctor Strange” #12, “Batman” #8, “Army Of Darkness Xena Forever And A Day” #1, “Death Of Hawkman” #1, “All-New Wolverine” #13, “Red One” #4, “Harley Quinn” #5, “Deadpool And The Mercs For Money” #4, “Goldie Vance” #6, “Scrimshaw” #1, “Betty Boop” #1, “Aquaman” #8, “Spawn” #266, “Grimm Fairy Tales Annual 2016” #1, “A&A The Adventures Of Archer And Armstrong” #8, “Invincible Iron Man” #14, “Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me” #2, “Nightwing” #6, “Moonshine” #1, “Assassin’s Creed” #12, “Deadpool Back In Black” #1, “Intertwined” #1, “Cage” #1, “Wynonna Earp” #8, “Cannibal” #1, “Scarlet Witch” #11, “Everafter From The Pages Of Fables” #2.

No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
… yay! Nothing was actually terrible this week! Woo hoo!


Lots to like even in the ones who didn’t make it all the way. That’s a good thing!


When this week won, it won big, and when it fell short, it did so trying to accomplish something. If that’s not the definition of winning, it should be.


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!

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