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 JULY 22, 2015
Loki Agent Of Asgard #16
One last trick, and wow, is it a doozy. A grizzled and evil future Loki has teamed up with the forces of Hel to destroy Earth and Asgardia to stave off the crossover, er, end of all worlds that will come (or, rather, came months ago and will disappear soon enough). Clanging swords and spilled blood — that’s all showmanship to hide … well, that’d be telling, wouldn’t it? Al Ewing’s clever script is deftly driven by the visuals from Lee Garbett, Antonio Fabela and Clayton Cowles. Nice work, here.
Ivar Timewalker #7
Jump from the Read Pile.
There are so many redirects in this delightful, crafty time travel story that Google wouldn’t crawl it. Go ask a geeky friend what that means if you don’t get it. In any case, the titular time traveler uses a kind of Tenth Doctor-style panache to battle a dangerous shapeshifting artificial intelligence while the lives of Amelia Earheart and his immortal brothers hang in the balance. To see what happened to his erstwhile companion and possible future antagonist, giving Starlin’s Thanos a run for his nihilist money, is even more clever. The characters all get a chance to shine, the dialogue is witty (Fred Van Lente swinging for the fences) and the visuals are inspired (thanks to Francis Portela, Andrew Dalhouse and Dave Sharpe). Lovely stuff.
WHAT’S THE PROGNOSIS?
Super engaging start to the weekend.
THIS WEEK’S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it’s not good enough to buy
“Grayson” #10 is fun and fast moving, racy and flirty and full of running and kicking people in the face. There’s a jaw droppingly tense sequence between the titular character and someone that he used to know, and the art is simply delightful but the plot drags and hesitates where everything else in the comic is go, go, go! Still finding its balance.
“Marvel Zombies” #2 started to make some headway on Elsa Bloodstone becoming a proper character, driven and haunted by the immortal legend of her emotionally distant father. There’s a clever bit with the plot near the two thirds mark and pretty good art. Still … zombies, and so far afield from anything that will either have resonance or affect the larger plot … close, but no cigar. Hard for this column to say about anything involving zombies, but true.
Soundwave is … not what you think he is in “Transformers” #43, a throwback to Starscream’s Shakespearean rise to power. Exploring a new space station intended as a Cybertronian refuge, he comes upon a malcontented Cosmos spying on Arcee’s behalf and … well, from there it takes a refreshing turn for the cerebral. Buzzsaw and Laserbeak doing a Waldorf and Statler riff was kind of entertaining. However, Soundwave’s secrets didn’t get nearly enough room to operate and the cliches with Brawl and some deathly dull human characters weighed the issue down. Free of crossovers or extraneous elements, this was maybe this series’ best issue in months.
“Cyborg” #1 has a number of elements worth seeing, including some genuine emotional resonance from the titular character and a great establishment of his frayed relationship with his scientist father and therefore S.T.A.R. Labs. Unfortunately, said titular character is a bit too emo and lacking agency, and there is a subplot involving aliens in conflict with each other that is vague in writing and artwork. Many characters are just Mark Madsen-ing around without any distinctive elements. It’s a solid if unremarkable start that could have benefitted from being paced more zippily.
“Old Man Logan” #3 could have replaced half the crossover books as a tour through the domains of Doomworld, hitting the Age of Apocalypse, Armor Wars and Marvel Zombies areas in a single issue, all while keeping the titular character’s grim determination front and center. Not bad, but it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere interesting either.
There was a fun Keyser Soze-styled sequence in “G.I. JOE A Real American Hero” #216 with the latest man to take on the mantle of Snake-Eyes (yeah, it’s a mantle now, you know, why not) sending a message to Cobra Commander. There was a bigger plot running with an international cadre of law enforcement and anti-terrorists that seemed like it could be a bigger and more interesting story, but cookie cutter intros and a brush pass on plot short sheeted that. Not bad, and closer to the rhythms that made this series so enjoyable, but not there yet.
“Effigy” #7 had a strange narrative trick that was kind of effective at the end, playing on its metatextual approach. Strange elements that didn’t work were the oddity of an assassin the arguable lead knew earlier in life and the central casting characters with cliches sewn into their sleeves. Great art, solid production values, not quite hitting the mark.
“Kanan” #4 had some interesting moments, showing you how the innocent padawan became the jaded scoundrel of animated fame. However, it brushed past character development with voiceover and didn’t shine art wise either. Not bad, but not burning down the spaceports either.
“Sinestro” #13 shows the title character playing for big stakes and most often with other people’s lives. His capricious nature has elements of a lead like MacBeth but a supporting cast that’s weak — the traitor revealed was a weird turn, his daughter is a milquetoast whiner without agency, his people as victims to save and his army unidimensional. Like Allen Iverson’s 76ers, one star amidst journeymen.
The “Meh” Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
“Deathstroke” #8, “Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files Down Town” #6, “Magneto” #20, “Infinite Loop” #4, “Aquaman” #42, “Star-Lord And Kitty Pryde” #1, “Burning Fields” #6, “E Is For Extinction” #2, “Charmed Season 10” #10, “God Is Dead” #39, “All-New Hawkeye” #4, “Insufferable” #3, “RunLoveKill” #4, “Archie Vs Sharknado” #1, “Spider-Woman” #9, “Egos” #8, “Swords Of Sorrow Red Sonja Jungle Girl” #1, “Weirdworld” #2, “Wonder Woman” #42, “Punisher” #20, “Book Of Death Fall Of Bloodshot” #1, “We Are Robin” #2, “Star Trek” #47, “Teen Titans” #10, “Hellbreak” #5, “Prez” #2, “Power Up” #1, “Uncanny X-Men” #35, “Winterworld Frozen Fleet” #3, “Justice League 3001” #2, “Swords Of Sorrow” #3, “Harley Quinn And Power Girl” #2, “Transformers Robots In Disguise Animated” #1, “Flash” #42, “Future Imperfect” #3.
No, just … no … These comics? Not so much …
Nothing wrong? Yay!
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Everybody seemed to try hard out there …
WINNERS AND LOSERS
No stinkers, fantastically engaging purchases … what a great week!
If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you can check out a scintillating panel on how to break in to comics and screenwriting as part of the Leimert Park Book Fair. It’s all happening Saturday, August 1st at 3PM, and if you’d like to get a taste of what’s happening, you can check out a version of it that happened at Wondercon 2015.
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 and “Soulfire Sourcebook” #1, the official guide to the Aspen Comics franchises. 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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