The Princess and the Spy


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 ...


Casanova Acedia #1

(Image Comics)

Every issue of this series for years has been in the Buy Pile, so picking this up was kind of like a habit. The lead character, Casanova Quinn, is again tossed on to a parallel world with nothing but his extraordinarily lethal skills at his command. This time, however, he comes without the benefit of his memories, so as "Quentin Cassiday" he's become a majordomo and fixer for the rich, powerful and secretive Amiel Boutique, lording over Hollywood Hills parties for reasons no one knows. Secrets are revealed and a pact is secured, creating a fresh sense of urgency and a mission to be accomplished. The first read of this might not impress, but second and third looks bring the reader deeper into the effective Fabio Moon visual storytelling, with Gabriel Ba vibing in an almost "Phonogram" style of vibe (not in similar art styles, but more in terms of atmosphere). Writers Matt Fraction and Michael Chabon deliver scripts that are not for the meek of heart or casual reader, but is an intelligent and insightful story with edge. A welcome return.

Princess Ugg #7

(Oni Press)

Jump from the Read Pile.

After several issues that tread near the levels of excellence, this time creator Ted Naifeh mixed all his ingredients together perfectly to deliver a textured, fascinating tale. The "final exam" for the five scions of royalty show everything they've learned, but the education they receive is far from over. The tale turns to diplomacy and betrayal, which makes for a wide variety of interesting character moments, and overall this is a big, meaty chunk of culture. Well done.


A good start ...


Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy

"They're Not Like Us" #2 is a challenge because it's a rare case: rock solid execution of a less-than-solid premise. Hedonist extrahuman teenagers recruiting and visiting violence on perceived threats to their lifestyle, depicted with art-house artwork. There's nothing terrible here but it seems like the core story is empty at its center.

"Catwoman" #38 has more of the broad strokes of a fine crime drama as Catwoman tries to play every side against itself in maintaining rule over the Calabrese crime family and keeping the city from erupting into open chaos. There are some issues -- the central action piece where the Bat pops up lacks clarity and the artwork lacked vibrancy. One day this will make a breathtaking novelization, but as a monthly comic, the deficits of execution overwhelm the overwhelming conceptual strengths.

"Deadpool" #41 had a few very solid laughs as Deadpool struggled with losing his "inverted" sense of inner peace. This led him to a war-torn middle eastern country in bed with literally evil oil company Roxxon (for real, their CEO is a super villain were-minotaur) and ... well, some pretty messed up stuff happening. The twist is cliche, the characters are stereotypes, but the art is great. It's funny, but it's not much of a story.

"B**** Planet" #2 is a marked improvement over its debut issue, adding several levels of complexity and plot on a decent premise. An innocent woman is locked in a impossible prison, then given a costly choice that opens all kinds of doors. Take a little "Hunger Games" and add some of the second episode of "Black Mirror" while spinning it in the direction of "Concrete Park" and you'll find yourself here. There's still some work to be done in fleshing out characters, but the plot is beginning to shine.

The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title

"Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Dark Shaman" #4, "Thor" #4, "Sex Criminals" #10, "Amazing X-Men" #16, "Harley Quinn" #14, "All-New Invaders" #14, "Dying And The Dead" #1, "King The Phantom" #1, "Effigy" #1, "Tomb Raider" #12, "New 52 Futures End" #39, "Spider-Man 2099" #8, "G.I. JOE A Real American Hero #210, "Punks The Comic" #4, "Infinity Man And The Forever People" #7, "Sex" #19, "Uncanny Avengers" #1, "Transformers Drift Empire Of Stone" #3, "Batman Eternal" #43, "Big Trouble In Little China" #8, "Deathstroke" #4, "Captain Midnight" #19, "Earth 2 World's End" #17, "Evil Empire" #10, "Father's Day" #4, "Rasputin" #4, "Arkham Manor" #4, "King Flash Gordon" #1, "Flash" #38, "Alex + Ada" #12, "He-Man The Eternity War" #2, "Danger Club" #6, "New Avengers" #29, "Quantum And Woody Must Die" #1.

No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...

"Batman" #38 is terrible. There is a change in a fundamental character for the mythos that's so ridiculous, so overwhelmingly pointless that it strains credulity and makes the Bat a fool. It's hard because the artwork is so choice and even the underlying science makes a kind of sense as well. However, the key elements of the off-panel antagonist is simply dumb. Tragic.

"Red Lanterns" #38 is enormously mopey for a book about characters infused with rage. Guy Gardner mostly drinks and complains in voiceover captions. Sad, tepid stuff that's far from the alleged mandate.

"Multiversity Guidebook" #1 is less a directory and more a drunken cocktail napkin updated with professional art. It makes next to no sense through its varied photocopy versions of the Justice League and the attempt at a framing device lacks cohesiveness as a plot. Unacceptable.


Three bad books? Oy.


Three bad beats two good, unfortunately, making this a downbeat week full of comics.


If you're in the Los Angeles area, next week you can see this columnist read poetry, comics & cuss out somebody's momma in Los Angeles' Leimert Park next Wednesday. Should be a hoot, check it out.

As of right now, you can spend ten bucks and get about 175,000 words worth of fiction from the writer of this column. The links that follow tell you where 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, or "Fathom Sourcebook" #1, the official guide to the flagship franchise for Aspen Comics. Too rich for your blood? Download the free PDF of "Cruel Summer: The Visual Mixtape." 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!

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