WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
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 ...
THE BUY PILE FOR FEBRUARY 11, 2015
Astro City #2
This is the last "buy on sight" issue for this title because, in accordance with the rules, this is the third issue that's fallen below standards. The foibles and frays of a supervillain's daughter turned hero are examined in great detail ... but they're less than compelling. The best element was a failed romance with MPH, but it was essentially a digression from the very episodic "story." This wasn't bad, but if there's an "Astro City" "a-ha" moment, it's been a long time coming.
Paradox Girl #1
Jump from the Read Pile. This is quite a surprise. A heroine who has lost track of who she is, flitting through time periods like she's wandering through shops at a mall. If you just read this comic book once, you're missing a lot. There are so many little brilliant moments, and there's no telling if it was all Cayti Elle Bourquin's script or an art choice from Yishan Li. This book is rock solid entertainment from every single panel. Wow, wow, wow wow wow.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
All this, plus a "Legend Of The Mantamaji" TPB coming out today? It's hard to get mad at "Astro City" after all the good it's done, so it's all right.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Darth Vader" #1 is good. No, really, it is. Writer Kieron Gillen has a very solid grasp on the voice of the Sith apprentice, and even has Palpatine's vocal inflections down right. There's literally nothing wrong with the pitch perfect artwork from Salvador Larocca and Edgar Delgado. Why not purchased? The plot muddles Vader's agency, burying the angst of his first time back on Tattooine since the death of his mother in, basically, theatrics. He's whipped in almost every scene -- by his master, by his unfulfilled ambition. Key moments -- Palpatine berating him without the verbal elements of dun moch that so unsettled Mace Windu -- lacked bite despite hitting their marks. It's a good comic that lacks the urgency of the Sith, and that alone slowed it down enough to not break the tape.
"Resurrectionists" #4 works an interesting premise -- a cross-functional team dying again and again, trying to complete a heist started thousands of years prior. The issue had too much exposition and art that was just "all right," but the core ideas therein are fascinating, the approach respectful and the work shows promise.
"Cyclops" #10 had rock solid artwork and some good character moments -- a time for Christopher Summers to realize his son was no scoundrel, for example -- but had a fairly predictable plot that had no surprises in it. Great for fans missing "Slim" Summers but nothing else special happening.
The biggest problem with "Secret Six" #2 is Jason Wright's coloring, which leaves every panel a dull, grayish block of blah. The tense, kinetic artwork from Ken Lashley and Drew Geraci can't shine, Gail Simone's playfully mean-spirited script even seems muted by its surroundings. Catman's a fun ball of murder, and a telekinetic Ventiloquist fills the whimsical Ragdoll role from the previous incarnation, but the flat palette and the overly "secretive" script doesn't carry the day.
Writer Felipe Smith took over art chores on "All-New Ghost Rider" #11, and the results are very attractive. The wild shows of power still thrum with vitality, but the script was more of a tense, horror-tinged thriller with an odd side of teenaged romance. The plot wasn't quite balanced, and that oddity left this issue lacking.
"Divinity" #1 is a conundrum. It has a number of fascinating elements: an orphan in Soviet Russia, his African descent never even considered in a refreshingly egalitarian space. Then it takes an unusual twist from historical fiction into something decidedly weirder and more Warren Ellis-esque. In its atmosphere -- artwork, isolated moments -- it can take your breath away with its surprises. However, as a coherent whole it's not holding together at its center, more mood than matter. Maybe it will come together, maybe it won't, but we don't have enough to know within these pages.
You're honestly not ready for the last scene in "The Walking Dead" #137. The issue plays like most -- blah blah threat blah blah mild violence blah blah no zombies -- but that ending ... some of you are not ready for it. Fans will applaud, but some others might not be on board.
"Captain Marvel" #12 had rock solid science fiction bona fides as Captain Marvel learns some unpleasant things about relativistic physics and quips with a prim artificial intelligence. However, the plot's a touch too succinct and there's barely another character who gets a decent amount of focus outside of the titular captain. Not bad, but not quite there.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Wolverines" #6, "Justice League 3000" #14, "Q2 The Return Of Quantum And Woody" #5, "Bucky Barnes the Winter Soldier" #5, "Constantine" #22, "X-Force" #15, "Harley Quinn Valentine's Day Special" #1, "Wild's End" #6, "Worlds' Finest" #31, "Legenderry Red Sonja #1", "Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor" #8, "New 52 Futures End" #41, "Spider-Woman" #4, "Rachel Rising" #31, "Amazing Spider-Man" #14, "Shinobi Ninja Princess" #6, "Batman Eternal" #45, "Guardians 3000" #5, "Five Ghosts" #15, "Tara Normal" #3, "Green Lantern Corps" #39, "7th Sword" #7, "Deep State" #4, "Justice League United" #9, Thor #5, "Crimson Society" #4, "X-Men" #24, "Rai" #7, "Star Trek" #41, "X" #22, "Guardians Of The Galaxy" #24, "Earth 2 World's End" #19, "All-New X-Men" #36.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
It was hard to make playing poker interesting in television, with the advantages of sound and narration. "Final 9" #1 tries to do the same in the pages of a comic, with less-than-stellar artwork, missed copy editing and drab, uninteresting characters. It doesn't even stand up to professional production standards, let alone hitting the marks on narrative and visual. No, thank you.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
The worst book of the week was just a few slices below "meh," so that's not so bad.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
When you can find a brilliant, fun new idea, especially with a small volume of awfulness to wade through, the week has to be considered a success.
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!