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 DECEMBER 17, 2014
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #36
Yes, you have to know a good piece of story to understand this issue. That's true -- this is a very insular story that has very few inroads for neophytes or casual fans. However, if you know a bit about Orion Pax and if you have been paying attention to the secret history of Cybertron and the corrupt legacy of the Primes, this issue is simply solid freaking gold. There's a transtemporal telephone talk between Megatron and the mechanoid who would become Optimus Prime that's almost heartbreaking. A lot of crafty time travel trickery insured the toys got put where they needed to be, there's a jaw-dropping Fastball Special that's pretty impressive and all around this issue is jam packed with so much fanservice that it's amazing for it to also be a very well done science fiction story. Kudos to James Roberts, Alex Milne and Joana LaFuente.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Not too expensive, even tossing in "Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe Avengers NOW" and a purchase that's a conflict of interest, that's not bad.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Catwoman" #37 continues the more enjoyable turn into a true noirish crime book. Selina Kyle's a mob boss now, and she discovers a snitch in her house is a cousin. There's hand wringing as rival crime lord and Batman threat The Black Mask waits for her to make a mistake, but it all ends -- as all crime stories must -- in gunfire. If the art and coloring weren't so vexingly unengaging, like a poor attempt at evoking Michael Lark, this would be closer to making its way home.
"Django Zorro" #2 had a very clever plan (reminiscent of the shenanigans of "Catch Me If You Can") and a vengeful villain in the making, but far too little of the effective chemistry between its titular leads. Lots of effective set up that shifted focus far too quickly.
"Batman" #37 was creepy in many of the right ways as the Joker -- reborn and reskinned -- brings terror to the territory as the feds are ready to quarantine Gotham with walls for the second time (No Man's Land is still in continuity, right?) as a new chemical weapon from the Clown Prince of Crime. However, once you get past the inexplicable scientific brilliance (better than labs funded by billions of dollars) and the whole city in a toilet, it's not much of a story.
Like Batwing before him, the titular character is not very good at his job in "All-New Captain America" #2. On his own in the super villain nation of Bagalia, he's forced to make hard choices about his best friend's son and misunderstands almost everything about Baron Zemo, who's reading from the Ra's al Ghul playbook. There were some cute elements -- the high octane art of Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger and Marte Gracia whips the reader back and forth with its riveting action scenes. The core elements, however, reveal a dupe getting played, not a hero in command of his situation.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Scarlet Spiders" #2, "Batman And Robin" #37, "Star Trek" #39, "All-New X-Men" #34, "Batman Eternal" #37, "Bunker" #8, "Avengers And X-Men Axis" #8, "Batman Superman" #17, "Ragnarok" #3, "Guardians Of The Galaxy" #22, "Batwoman" #37, "Axis Hobgoblin" #3, "G.I. JOE" #4, "Death Defying Doctor Mirage" #4, "Axis Revolutions" #4, "New 52 Futures End" #33, "Ms. Marvel" #10, "Solitary" #1, "Black Widow" #13, "Wonder Woman" #37, "Fantastic Four" #14, "Bigger Bang" #2, "The Wicked + The Divine" #6, "Spider-Woman" #2, "Multiversity Thunderworld" #1, "Captain Marvel" #10, "Harbinger Faith" #0, "Trinity Of Sin" #3, "G.I. JOE A Real American Hero" #209, "Justice League" #37, "Q2 The Return Of Quantum And Woody" #3, "Teen Titans" #5, "Shadow Show" #2, "Green Lantern New Guardians" #37, "Rumble" #1, "Sherwood TX" #5, "Earth 2 World's End" #11, "Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man" #8, "Alex + Ada" #11, "Transformers Drift Empire Of Stone" #2, "Elektra" #9, "Supergirl" #37, "The Activity" #16, "Death Of Wolverine The Weapon X Program" #4, "Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor" #5.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Storm" #6 follows the new Captain America in making its lead the least involved person in her own book, a mohawked, female Eric Garner, getting beaten and shot at and generally degraded while trying to commute home. She flies! She saves everybody! The cops still come after her! Add rote and uninspired visuals and this issue fails in a major way.
In "weird retcon" news, "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #37 cast Roy Harper as kind of a drunken science prodigy, a poor man's Tony Stark with half the luck and none of the inheritance. Okay. However, even with that oddly discordant difference between this and every other idea about the character in popular media, the "story," if you'd call it that, could have been better handled in that limp "Secret Origins" book with less space or pretending to be mode than a wiki entry.
"Deathlok" #3 has a Black man who is cybernetically controlled by outside parties doing the dirty work of largely anonymous and threatening government types. It'd be bad if it wasn't so boring.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
There's just one more good book than bad? That's not a positive sign.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Three awful ones and just two official purchases
Next week, you can buy "Fathom Sourcebook" #1 which proves, for once and for all, that Aspen Matthews can kick Namor's butt ... and Aquaman too. It's true. It's true.
As previously mentioned, Operative Network partner 133 Art released "One Nation: Safehouse" -- "The Man of Steel" meets "Hurt Locker" for a "day in the life" self enclosed issue. Good stuff, so go grab that, it's just a dollar.
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. 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!