The Buy Pile: Nuts, Phasers and Lightsabers

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #46


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 #46 (Marvel Comics)

Wow. Well, that's ... no, it can't be considered unexpected, given the series' title, but Squirrel Girl not only saves the entirety of North America, she possibly changes a lot of the course of human destiny in the process. That's not hyperbole, as she changes minds set in their ways since before Plato and Aristotle held sway. You think this Ryan North script is gonna zig when it zags, then zigs back again as it turns the cannon fodder of crossovers into people with lives and ideas, and that's doggone near to being a miracle. The concepts are presented cleverly and with great humor and race by Derek Charm, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham and this story is a better representation of the War of the Realms than most of the other books in the line. RATING: BUY.

Star Trek Year Five #3 (IDW Publishing)

Star Trek Year Five #3
You won't be facepalming like Bones when you beam up for Star Trek Year Five #3.

Jump from the Read Pile. Wow. This issue does something that's virtually impossible, balancing almost the entire crew (and giving us some really iconic moments along the way) as it brings the sins of James Kirk's past into stunning relief on the mad, mad world Sigma Iotia 2. If that name alone brings a smile to your face, you are in for one heck of a ride, but even if it doesn't, this clever Brandon Easton script gives you every possible bit of information you'd need to understand the struggles happening here. The artwork from Martin Coccolo, Fran Gamboa and Neil Uyetake manages to deliver these unexpected interplanetary locales as well as the private struggles of a man who realizes his flaws. When you line this up with where the characters ended up in the 1979 film, you'll recognize the true application of craft that went into making this. Bravo, all around. RATING: BUY.

Star Wars Target Vader #1 (Marvel Comics)

Star Wars Target Vader #1
More machine than man and more awesome than not, take aim at Star Wars Target Vader #1.

Jump from the Read Pile. With a wonderful tie to continuity both modern and apocryphal, this issue sets up a collision course between two compelling characters with a galaxy of collateral damage between them, plus a clever twist at the end. This Robbie Thompson-penned issue covers a lot of ground very effectively, clarifying character and plot elements smoothly. The visual storytelling is top notch from from Marc Laming, Cris Bolson, Neeraj Menon, Jordan Boyd, Andres Mossa, Federico Blee, Erick Arciniega and Clayton Cowles, and this issue gives you that gritty Star Wars realness you've been waiting for. RATING: BUY.

Sea Of Stars #1 just missed making the jump with a tale of a family lost in space, struggling to find their way home. Yes, that premise does sound hella familiar, from Black Science to, well, Lost in Space, but has a slight twist of juvenile independence that's unexpected. Not bad, but it'll need to stray farther from its influences to make a mark. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

DCeased #3 may have a hackneyed concept at its core, but damn if the ending of this issue wasn't a freaking gut punch, presuming you have knowledge of all the characters herein. That elevated this above its meager origins. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Spencer And Locke 2 #4 was this close to making the jump with a conclusion that was inevitable and surprising, tying up all loose ends, making sense of what could have been delusions and putting a definitive close to this chapter. The core challenge of the antagonist's depth got a little bit of improvement, but he's still a little flat, unlike the glimpses we've seen elsewhere of, say, the Punisher, who had a chance to not be what he is and we've seen why he always turned away from it. A bold and uncompromising attempt that fell just shy of greatness. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Superman Up In The Sky #1 had the enormous benefit of being able to show just how impossible Superman really is, the wonder and the glory and the possibility contained in his farm-bred wholesomeness. That was great to see. The plot -- which had a lengthy mind palace segment (look it up from the Cumberbatch Sherlock series) -- showed more of the feeling Kal-El had in Superman: Peace on Earth, struggling against what even all his power cannot accomplish. A heady balance that wobbled just a bit too much, this might shine brighter when all is said and done (in a trade paperback). RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Given the enormously rocky road getting here, Wild Storm #24 wasn't a bad ending, shaking the status quo so hard it blinked and setting up an uglier, more volatile situation than existed before in the best possible way. If this continuity continues, there's room for some intriguing stories (or just basic slobberknockers, if one is so inclined). Imperfect, but surely ambitious. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Punisher #13 borders on the ridiculous as Baron Zemo tries to hide in plain sight while Frank Castle literally just walks around the city, despite being wanted on multiple continents. There are a number of ludicrous elements here, but they're too absurd to be bad, too unbelievable to get you angry. This is not a book to buy, by any stretch if the imagination, but it is a chuckle. RATING: MEH.

Long Con #10 pulled an old Star Trek gag (not as well as Year Five) to coast into a conclusion of sorts. It didn't land very effectively, letting some moments shine but having a less than stellar whole. RATING: MEH.

Section Zero #4 is one heck of a good looking book that has very cursory characterization and facile plot development. RATING: MEH.

Ms. Marvel Annual #1 had a solid philosophical core that likely Doreen Green would approve, but its inconclusive climax tied together with a less than robust plot meant this issue is easy to pass. RATING: MEH.

Lois Lane #1 would love to have the impact of The Newsroom as it follows the marquee name in her adventure of investigative journalism. Her cavalier attitude chafes a bit as it's based not in the righteousness of the fourth estate but on her fundamental lack of concern for consequences, believing that if things go too far afield, a Kryptonian weapon of mass destruction will burst through the wall with little inclination for discussion (an upgrade from the fury of General Sam Lane she grew up with). That type of embedded privilege makes her less impressive, not more, as her actual behavior (as in the White House briefing room, itself implausible) are things journalism professors expect from their freshmen students, despite the abdication of that responsibility on cable news. Is there room for greatness? Absolutely. Is it here? Not yet, but we'll check back at 11 for more. Back to you in the studio ... RATING: MEH.


Spirit be praised, this was a wonderful week to love comics.


For a midsummer night's groove, please check KQBH-FM 101.5 FM from 1AM-2AM tonight for the mix show It's Komplicated.

Have you checked out season four of the free web comic Project Wildfire: The Once and Future King? Every week catch a page of the story 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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