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The Buy Pile: Synthezoids, Assassins & Goodbyes

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
The Buy Pile: Synthezoids, Assassins & Goodbyes

The cover to Vision #12


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 …


Vision #12(Marvel Comics)

Break out all of the Eisners. All of them. The Harveys too. Is it too early for an Inkpot? This issue is, bar none, the best comic book published in 2016, and this series is one of the best published in a decade or more. Wow. Seriously. Wow. In scores of little, well planned moments, the idyllic family tragedy of a synthezoid comes to a crashing, elegant, almost symphonic end. Everything you need to know is in this book, but almost every page echoes back to something in a previous issue, something that seemed innocuous but meant almost everything. “Family before anything” could easily have been the motto, even down to the heartbreaking last page, as the greatest burden falls on not the victims, not the perpetrators, but the ones left when the bodies grow still. Tom King is literally going to need a Red Flyer wagon to carry all the awards this script and this series will generate, as resonant as “the robot’s prayer.” The patience and delicacy shown by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles that made this wonderful atmosphere of growing dread and terror — with perfect nine panel grids and deliberate, still moments on single characters — is unparalleled. Wow. Seriously, just … wow.

Deathstroke #5

The Son of Batman goes head to head with Slade Wilson in Deathstroke #5.

Deathstroke #5(DC Comics)Jump from the Read Pile.

On one hand, Batman takes Rose Wilson, aka the Ravager, on a ride along for an average night in Gotham City — brutal fistfights, high caliber gunfire, oh, and a threat that could kill everybody. On the other hand, the son of Batman tries to reverse-interrogate the titular character while sitting chained up in a sealed room filling up with water (“… and you call this a death trap? What are you — high? My grandma built better death traps!”) and delivering dialogue that is at the same time strangely beyond his years (“… and then there’s Maude”) and simultaneously why his snark and jerkishness have become so beloved to many fans. What’s effective here is how the two situations parallel each other, with Rose being the only person in the entire book who doesn’t know more than she’s letting on. Writer Christopher Priest delivers another stellar script with fantastic and effective visuals from Joe Bennett, Mark Morales, Jeremy Cox and Willie Shubert.

Chew #59

John Layman and Rob Guillory bring their indie sensation to a climax in Chew #59

Chew #59(Marvel Comics)Jump from the Read Pile.

Along the way to this poignant, spot-on finale, this series has drifted from the sublime to the ridiculous, done issues that felt like filler, done “creep of the week” stories like early “Smallville.” Forget all of that. Seriously, put it out of your mind. The protagonist Tony Chu grapples with grandiose issues while fighting an avalanche of grief and loss after literally years of terrible things happening to and around him. Writer John Layman shows a shocking amount of restraint and delicacy, given some of his past works, and the stylized visuals from Rob Guillory make the potential end of the world a neon LSD trip into amazingness. Shocking, inevitable and wonderful k all around.


Sweet Kwanzaa, that was an amazing trio of comics, all wildly re-readable.


Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“New Avengers” #17 is weird and funny and baffling all at once. Roberto da Costa is so smart that he’s several steps ahead of an alternate universe Reed Richards. While that is entertaining, even a part of a Reed Richards versus a lifelong party boy? It doesn’t pass the sniff test for Bobby to level up this far, this fast. It’s fun, watching a Yugo lap a Testarossa, but it looks weird.

“Action Man Revolution” #1 was quite close to the mark, throwing almost everybody from the crossover into this issue as dissention in the ranks makes the capture of an Autobot an international concern. Fast paced, tons of character moments but probably too many players on the field to be able to focus.

“Nighthawk” #6 ended hard, like, classic “Squadron Supreme” hard. The titular vigilante tracks down all of his problems but, annoyingly, plays something of a passive role in the resolution. Great art, great dialogue, wobbly landing at the end.

“Thief Of Thieves” #36 is a gorgeous, well-plotted heist story without a lick of characterization. If you’re already on board, this will be great, or you love crime comics, but otherwise could be a pass?

“All-New All-Different Avengers” #15 was interesting in that it showed the Norse god Heimdall discussing the terrifying challenges of “predictive justice” (which all but proves Carol is wrong) at the heart of the current crossover. It also offered a cute throwback episode with the Stan Lee era Avengers, but didn’t do much more than kind of editorialize a point many have already decided upon.

The Decepticon-turned-would-be-screenwriter Thundercracker is a lot of fun in “Transformers Revolution” #1 but the Dire Wraiths make dull antagonists and the plot wasn’t much of a challenge for him. Not bad, but needed a little more urgency.

“Prowler” #1 has gorgeous art and a protagonist without agency, a fascinating cast and a plot that stalls, a Black lead character in a time when diversity is finally getting a break, reliant on a drug to stay alive and the patronage of another miscast extra from “Gods of Egypt.” It feels like it should be something, but it’s not.

“Vigilante Southland” #1 felt like the opening scenes of a really good crime story … before it came to an abrupt stop, with the protagonist barely making any room and the lush artwork and south Los Angeles ambiance ruling the roost. This isn’t bad, but its languid pacing doesn’t help a new book with a new lead doing all new things.

“Silver Surfer” #7 had a wonderful, enjoyable moment with a cosmic elder that, while a bit predictable, was super enjoyable. There were a few other cute moments but the it was a bit too saccharine for its own good.

The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, they just kind of happened …
“Spider-Man Deadpool” #10, “Frostbite” #2, “Doctor Strange Mystic Apprentice” #1, “Seven To Eternity” #2, “Venom Space Knight” #13, “Future Quest” #6, “Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur” #12, “G.I. JOE A Real American Hero” #233, “Star Wars” #24, “Hellblazer” #3, “Civil War II” #6, “Surgeon X” #2, “Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor Year Two” #14, “Serenity No Power In The ‘Verse” #1, “Extraordinary X-Men” #15, “Titans” #4, “Mycroft Holmes And The Apocalypse Handbook” #3, “Punisher Annual” #1, “Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special” #1, “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” #10, “Savage Dragon” #217, “Bloodshot U.S.A.” #1, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” #8, “Wonder Woman” #9, “Renato Jones The One Percent” #5, “Deadpool” #21, “Suicide Squad” #5, “Generation Zero” #3, “Ms. Marvel” #12, “Action Comics” #966, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” #13, “Tarzan On The Planet Of The Apes” #2, “Star Wars Poe Dameron” #7, “Batgirl” #4, “Postal” #16, “Batman Beyond” #1, “Skybourne” #2, “Blue Beetle” #2, “Elephantmen” #73, “Totally Awesome Hulk” #11, “Detective Comics” #943, “WolfCop” #1, “Captain America Steve Rogers” #6, “Doctor Fate” #17, “Birthright” #20, “Ultimates” #12, “Flash” #9, “Doctor Strange And The Sorcerers Supreme” #1.

No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
Throw your hands in the air for zero awful comics! Yay!


None too shabby.


This week of hugely, massively amazing books counts as a win no matter how you slice it.


It’s getting super real in the weekly web comics written by this columnist and drawn by Quinn McGowan. Only eight more weeks to go!

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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