The Buy Pile: Fantasy, Sci-Fi & Young Heroes Dominate a Strong Week

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #49


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 ...


Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #49 (Marvel Comics)

If you start out by saying "wow" four times in a row, you might start to grasp how amazing this issue is. It doesn’t just deftly develop so many characters already on the field through clever plotting, but adding in a mountain-full of guest stars (reference intended) and deftly weaving in plot lines from virtually ever issue of this series to date is … wow. To put together something this complex while still nailing the little gags ("This is what engineering looks like!") and having Brain Drain's Marvin the Paranoid Android-esque commentary as a sidebar, well ... it's safe to say writer Ryan North pulled off a miracle, a Sportscenter-worthy highlight to be used in commercials and highlight reels. Add in world beating artwork from Derek Charm, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham, and this is one of the best issues in a truly epic run. Again: wow. RATING: BUY. MAYBE BUY TWO COPIES.

Outer Darkness #11 (Image Comics)

Outer Darkness #11
Raise a glass to Outer Darkness #11, which has a number of surprises and they're all bad news for somebody!

Jump from the Read Pile. Wow. This book is evil in all the best ways as a scoundrel of a starship captain called Rigg is in deep with a magic-using space federation at war with a hostile alien culture. Betrayal, murder, sex-for-profit, that's just an average Thursday around these parts, and this issue shows how crazy it gets. This John Layman script does a good job with characterization on the first mate, the captain and the scion of power while also delivering a tight, effective plot fueled by the visuals from Afu Chan and Pat Brousseau. RATING: BUY.

RELATED: Ghost Rider Reveals All of the Marvel Universe's Different Hells

Wonder Twins #8 (DC Comics)

Wonder Twins #8
Could Jan be hard core? Could Polly Math be the next great villain? Wonder Twins #8 has all the answers and more.

This issue has two really fantastic things about it. First, scion of a reluctant super villain Polly Math does some pretty amazing things with very small amounts of information. Then Jan transforms himself into something even he doesn't recognize, and that is funny! Through it all, Jayna pushes along a meta-narrative subtly and with great care. This Mark Russell script nails it, and the art from Mike Norton, Cris Peters and Dave Sharpe is clear, brilliant and effective. RATING: BUY.

Reaver #4 (Image Comics)

Reaver #4
Reaver #4 lives in the minute before the blade hits the bone, and it is exquisite.

Jump from the Read Pile. Every issue of this series has been good, but this one steps it up a notch! The long awaited impossible mission begins and it goes pretty much as well as can be expected, in every way that could be perceived. There's room for a number of characters to shine, some fantastic artwork (that splash page, though!) and a solid ending that opens the door for even more goodness. This Justin Jordan script does great work while the visuals from Rebekah Isaacs, Alex Guimaraes and Clayton Cowles is some of the best fantasy artwork in comics today. This issue is a triumph. RATING: BUY.

Doctor Doom #1 was a mixed bag. It had a decent command of Doom's candor and banter (the scene with Kang, the one with Union Jack), but its plot seemed like it merely drifted through Doomstadt without ever actually figuring which direction it was going. The central issue of a black hole on the moon (which sounds crazily unsafe even typing) never truly resolved itself and the sequence of events was too messy to enjoy. Here's hoping this finds its iron-clad footing. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Batman And The Outsiders #6 had some DOPE one liners ("Failure does not know me") but felt like an incomplete thought as the larger mission they were on fell by the wayside so Signal and Orphan could learn an unpleasant lesson from Ra's Al Ghul. Not bad at all, with the atmosphere of a tense thriller, but uneven in pacing. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

RELATED: Batman Gets Beaten - By the Freeze-Mobile!?

Loki #4 had a wonderful plan in its core that's a delight to watch unfold, like either versions of The Thomas Crown Affair, but with an ending that stalled when it should have zagged and a slow road to get to the good stuff, it was a mixed bag in the end analysis. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Batman's Grave #1 is deep. On one hand, something really awful happens, and it is messed up. Like, yikes. On the other hand, Alfred talks about his "master" like a DOG, really realizing some things about the life he leads. That's refreshingly entertaining even as Bruce Wayne remains blissfully, willfully ignorant. There's stuff to like here, but it's two incomplete thoughts vying for attention. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Livewire #11 was an improvement in that the title character didn't manage to lose in some horrible fashion, but her agency is a little absent and a side plot about a robbery was a little drawn out. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Powers Of X #6 ... well, "ends" isn't really the right word, as it's not even a pause, just a "on to the next piece" sort of thing. This was not a bang but a whimper, a restating of things said elsewhere, a Batman-esque determination to beat the odds despite all evidence to the contrary. Beautifully said, true, but you've heard it all before. RATING: MEH.

Event Leviathan #5 talked a LOT but did very little, throwing more red herrings to delay an inevitable conclusion (or what one would hope will be a conclusion). Finger pointing, monologuing, dead ends, shooting, but at the end of the issue the reader has precious little information they didn't already have. RATING: MEH.

Star Wars Target Vader #4 Undersold abilities of the Dark Lord, making a lot of bounty hunters look a lot better than they really should have. Not bad, but not exactly what you're looking for. RATING: MEH.


No bad books and a truly epic set of purchases? This week's a grandiose success!


This weekend, this columnist will be on three panels at Los Angeles Comic-Con. Those panels are: Fanbase Press Presents: Examining '80s Nostalgia in Comics, Unnecessary Debates and Wunderman Comics Presents: Time Travel in Comics and Television. For all the data, check the Operative Network Calendar.

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."

T-shirts, stickers and even a hoodie: find the finest in indie comics merchandise in the Operative Network Store on the site and on Etsy.

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!

KEEP READING: House of X's Quiet Council Is Basically an X-Men/Game of Thrones Mash-Up

El Camino Just Gave Us the Most Heartbreaking Breaking Bad Cameo

More in CBR Exclusives