The Buy Pile: Valentine's Day Love from Marvel's Monsters & Heroes


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 ...


Star Wars: Thrawn #1 (Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. In Star Wars lore, the names of Imperial Star Destroyers are given to imply power and dominance. The name of one would be very apt to describe this quietly enjoyable issue: "Inexorable." A single member of the Chiss race, far beyond the bounds of the normal galactic map, far past even the boondocks planet Tattooine, essentially cuts a straight line towards the service of Palpatine, always working his own personal, ulterior agenda. Adapted from the Timothy Zahn novels for what appears to be modern canon, writer Jody Houser (with art from Luke Ross, Nolan Woodward and Clayton Cowles) truly illustrates the "hot knife through butter" nature of the preternaturally calm blue skinned humanoid while re-presenting a period of Star Wars history with great and immersive visual storytelling. This is fun stuff that is a riveting journey despite knowing where the ride is going.

Lazarus X+66 #6 (Image Comics)

Alas, poor Lazarus X+66 #6 ... you know nothing about him, Horatio!

Jump from the Read Pile. If "inexorable" summed up our previous comic, "monstrous" would be the word for this self-contained tragedy. In this world, a number of powerful families run everything, each having a superhuman, scientifically enhanced warrior called a Lazarus as their champion and greatest martial threat. One of these Lazari is held in more regard and more fear than the rest, and this issue explains why in a very Keyser Soze sort of fashion. This collaboration between Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, Tristan Jones and Jody Wynne is unflinching and brutal and cinematic and wrong in all the right ways. Like a trail of bloodied bodies and flame on a freeway, it'd be hard to look away from this disturbingly entertaining work.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #29 (Marvel Comics)

Doreen Green is checking out the stellar situation in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #29.

In another superb, hilariously written issue, the titular heroine and a wholly ridiculous collection of guest stars (including, at one perfect point, Howard the Duck) struggle on a planet inhabited by hyperintelligent squirrels (yup) after a shakedown plot by space jerks goes so far off the rails that it's in the sky. As if Dave Bautista were here, Drax again totally steals the show. Writer Ryan North is some kind of criminal genius for coming up with this stuff (the tiny lines he writes at the bottom margin are almost worth buying by themselves, especially if Ulyaoth ever shows up again) and the clever, well paced visuals from Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi and Travis Lanham deliver every humorous moment with aplomb and deftness. Let's hope this series runs another thousand issues with this level of enjoyment.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #42 (Marvel Comics)

Dig deep into the mystery of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #42.

Jump from the Read Pile. This issue has not one but two super enjoyable, self-contained, amazingly well crafted, clever works of superhero fiction. What's more, the first is deeply entrenched in continuity (Clones! Kingpin's da mayor!) and asks the reader nothing more than to turn these pages, explaining everything that needs to be known right here. Reporter Betty Brant is chasing down a story literally sent from beyond the grave by her dead husband and this narrative goes from kooky conspiracy to "oh god we're all gonna die" tension in a ruthlessly efficient manner. No character is wasted, no line is throwaway, all with a pop culture savvy and a humor that the lead character desperately needs to work on the page. The work here by Dan Slott, Cory Smith, Terry Pallot, Brian Reber and Joe Caramagna entertains from start to finish, and that's before you even get to the clever back up story. Created by David Hein, Marcus To and Ian Herring (no letterer credited), this explores Spider-Sense in a very, very innovative way while using supporting characters very effectively. Add that all up and you get a significant chunk of culture worth your dollars.


The Mouse House of Ideas nearly had a sweep there!

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