The Buy Pile: Squirrel Girl, Wonder Twins & Star Wars' Bad Doctor

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #44


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 an 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 ...< h2>THE BUY PILE FOR MAY 8, 2019

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #44 (Marvel Comics)

Many people have "that one friend” who gets in way too much trouble, who can't stop talking when they really should, and always takes things too far. The title character here has a team up with just such a problematic associate, battling frost giants and small town prejudices along the way.

Writer Ryan North turns in another laugh-filled script with effective, crisp artwork from Derek Charm, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham. On the fringes of the virtually line-wide crossover, this gem of an issue shines. RATING: BUY.

Wonder Twins #4 (DC Comics)

Wonder Twins #4
Love (?) is in the air in Wonder Twins #4.

A science fair leads to dates for both twins, and there is so much hilarity and awkwardness there that it's worth every cent here. On one side, Jayna ends up with a great looking guy who has a problem keeping his secret. On the other, Zan finds a way to win even when everyone else sees a loss.

This Mark Russell script does it all, from no fewer than five serious laughs to real moments of emotional honesty and struggle. The deliberate, hilarious artwork from Stephen Byrne and Dave Sharpe patiently set the pace, letting every wonderful or heartbreaking moment have room to shine. This book is a delight. RATING: BUY.

RELATED: Wonder Twins #2 Introduces a New Team of Supervillains in an Uneven Issue

Star Wars Doctor Aphra #32 (Marvel Comics)

Star Wars Doctor Aphra #32
Guess who’s back to her old tricks in Star Wars Doctor Aphra #32?

Jump from the Read Pile. The bad doctor is back, doing everything she loves but with a youthful but wary "trainee minion" at her side. This issue deftly establishes a clear foundation for her character, builds a canonical through line over centuries and has super clever action scenes.

There's a lot to love in this Simon Spurrier script and the visuals from Wilton Santos, Caspar Wijngaard, Marc Deering, Don Ho, Chris O'Halloran, Stephane Paitreau and Joe Caramagna deliver every emotional pivot and grandiose explosion with equal aplomb. RATING: BUY.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6 is a sweet but ultimately forgettable story of true heroism in the face of an implacable foe. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Shazam #5 wants to be four or five issues full of wonder and terror, maybe even with J.M. DeMatteis involved somehow. What it is instead is a lot of stories tangentially trying to work together for about twenty pages, riffing on Ready Player One and Lord of the Flies and a mash up of Animal Farm and To Kill A Mockingbird, and ultimately not succeeding with any of them. Ambitious, but deeply, deeply flawed. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

RELATED: When Did Shazam and Billy Batson Become the Same Person?

Unstoppable Wasp #7 was an adorable perky birthday celebration for the title character with masks and deep dives into more complex family histories than even the Targaryeans and the best birthday present a teen science genius slash former assassin could want. Just shy of the mark as it almost charmed its way into a ride home, its shorthand framing device rewarded long time fans of the whole line but left some things unsaid for more casual readers. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Like the recent television series, Battlestar Galactica Twilight Command #3 has promising elements of characterization and some time jumps to provide context. Unfortunately, like the show, it focuses on the weakest part of that narrative, New Caprica, and makes its paper thin antagonists even more unidimensional. RATING: MEH.

We live in a world where Captain America's tactical prowess falls short and Namor, a man famous for fighting in speedos, has a clever, intricate plan. Invaders #5 surely defies expectations, but never comes up with a credible reason for this attack from Atlantis. Great looking book, but the core characters have super contrived reasons for being on panel, mostly invading each other. RATING: MEH.

If you mix the movie Memento with the TV show Dark Angel and add Batman's budget you might end up with something like Eve Stranger #1, a plot driven work that has more answers than it's willing to share. The character work is vague, the antagonists are vague, heck, the protagonist is even vague to herself, but amidst that vagary is a hint of charm. Not made for the single, but perhaps it will reveal enough down the road to collect well. RATING: MEH.

RELATED: Disney's Star Wars Plans Prove It Learned From Solo's Blunder

Star Wars Age Of Rebellion Boba Fett #1 followed the Poe Dameron school of characterization, leaving a threadbare story that was more reputation than fact, more implication than narrative. The lead character has one line, which you could see coming twelve parsecs away. RATING: MEH.

Hawkman #12 has a hug as an important part of its plot. Like, full on, almost blubbery hugging. That ain't Hawkman. This Deathbringers storyline limps to a Man of Steel adjacent ending with a hero who moans more than inspires, taking all the wrong lessons from the Marvel experience. RATING: NO. JUST ... NO.

Spider-Man Deadpool #50 is terrible. It's terrible for lots of reasons: the dangerously derivative reveal of the antagonist, the Gwenpool ex machina nature of much of the action, the pointless sturm und drang, the limp riffs and jokes, the exhausting and needless photo panels ... listen. There's a lot not to like here, but only one reason to be happy. It's over. RATING: NO. JUST ... NO.


Even with two truly bad books, the three purchases clear the hurdle and make this week a winner.


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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