'Twas The Comics Before Xmas


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 ...



This week had a number of ambitious essays but nothing really encouraging enough to even give a charity "jump" to the Buy Pile. One book, for certain, was purchased, but there are far too many conflicts of interest to say so here, but that "East of West: The World" illustrated guide got missed a few weeks ago, so that was an easy substitution to grab. 


Even with two definitive guides as purchases, that's not a good start for the week ... 


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

"Daredevil" #11 is very, very close to making the mark with a legal case that crosses the line into the title character's costumed career. A great balance between the cowl and the collared shirt, only the taken-too-soon ending leaves this an unsatisfying chunk that will probably play better in a collected format.

"Batman Annual" #3 is a really mean-spirited Joker story where a war correspondent comes to Gotham believing he can handle the Clown Prince of Crime. He gets a rude and permanent surprise in a story that's creepier than bloody. The suspense is kind of telegraphed, as the Joker systematically plays with the theme of friendship using detective and preparation skills even the Bat would admire. For fans of the character, this will be a singular treat.

"Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor" #6 is tricky. By telling a story through backwards time jumps, it does some tricky things in telling a story and trying to develop characters at the same time. Unfortunately, the plot requires so much focus and has such a rigid framing device, it doesn't have time to let the characters be anything other than props (especially Arc), but the Doctor's gummy charm shines through. Close, but not quite close enough.  

For years, a young incarnation of the Norse trickster god has sought to escape the bounds of his role, to find a way out of always catching the business end of the hammer. That ambition plays out, at first promisingly but ultimately fruitlessly, in "Loki Agent Of Asgard" #9, a book on the precipice of ending the "up is down, left is plaid, truth is pomegranate" crossover "Sixis" (looking at the letters, it had to be that way unless it spells "Axu"), with the newly-minted god of heroes learning some wholly new lessons and accepting Odin's brutal, drunken Scandinavian wisdom for the first time. Some good moments, but ultimately a let down.

"Grayson Annual" #1 started to feel like it was something clever, with a kind of Kansas City Shuffle move and an infiltration that'd have Michael Westen slow clapping with approval. The final quarter of the issue fell apart, though, and the story lost its way just when it had everything going right. 

"ZooHunters" #2 is remarkably effective in establishing mood, atmosphere and character, creating whole cultures and establishing societies in a hair's width of pages. The awkward relationship between a mostly absentee father and his bereaved son is drawn in delicate lines and with great skill by Peter Steigerwald, pulling double duty on art and writing. why not buy it? The plot is s-l-o-w, and a subplot with a severed limb was far too facile and quickly wrapped in, so there are some pacing issues that take away from the brilliance of the characterization and the serenity and grandeur of the artwork (check the dance sequence, for example, and its savvy explanation).

"Cyclops" #8 had a core of a really solid character struggle, framed in very engaging elements that really let the reader journey alongside the teenaged Scott Summers. However, the plot around it was a little scattered and supporting cast were mostly flat (including the arguable antagonist). Not bad, but still finding its balance. 

"C.O.W.L." #7 had some hints of interesting elements, overcoming its drab coloring with a story of a mid 20th century strike by Chicago's superpowered protectors as costumed crime begins anew. The plot could be more focused and the characters easier to distinguish (a bunch of guys in suits are easier to distinguish when they're actors, but the individual identities are fairly common here) and this seems like it's better suited for a purely prose format or a live action adaptation. 

Costumes and organized crime clash in "Catwoman Annual" #2 as there's a new woman in skintight leather dancing along Gotham rooftops, and this story delves into her Yakuza origins and her motivations. It's an interesting character study as she steps into the role and uses it to both assist and challenge the work she does during the day. The dichotomy is a little dissonant, but the earnestness of the character is engaging. 

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

"Fight Like A Girl" #2, "Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie" #5, "Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes" #2, "Hawkeye Vs Deadpool" #1, "Evil Empire" #9, "Harley Quinn" #13, "Deadpool" #39, "Memetic" #3, "Infinity Man And The Forever People" #6, "Sleepy Hollow" #3, "Captain America And The Mighty Avengers" #3, "Aliens Fire And Stone" #4, "Robin Rises Alpha" #1, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10" #10, "Captain Midnight" #18, "Flash" #37, "Father's Day" #3, "Death Of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy" #7, "Sundowners" #5, "Green Lantern Annual" #3, "Terminator Salvation The Final Battle" #12, "Secret Avengers" #11, "Superman Wonder Woman" #14, "Tomb Raider" #11, "Uncanny X-Men" #29, "Doc Savage Special 2014, "Sinestro" #8, "She-Hulk" #11, "Purgatori" #4, "Magneto" #13, "X Files X-Mas Special, "Earth 2 World's End" #12, "Black Science" #11, "He-Man The Eternity War" #1, "All-New X-Factor" #18, "Gotham By Midnight" #2, "Great Pacific" #18, "New Avengers" #28, "Justice League Dark" #37, "Outcast By Kirkman And Azaceta" #6, "All-New Invaders" #13, "Deathstroke" #3, "Super Dinosaur" #23, "All-New X-Men Annual" #1, "Superman" #37, "Letter 44" #13, "New 52 Futures End" #34, "Unity" #13, "Nova" #25, "I.C.E. Critical Mass" #2, "Superior Iron Man" #3, "Ehmm Theory Everything In Small Doses" #3, "Aquaman" #37.

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

"Red Hood And The Outlaws Annual" #2 decided to take a yuletide slant and muddy it up with demonic reindeer and a Santa that's far from jolly for reasons that are not just vacuous but literally stupid, like the idea of Ted Kord going toe to toe with, oh, Terrax. Badly conceived, badly executed, badly considered. 


Well ... only one book was actually bad ...


No purchases gets trumped by the terribleness of juvenile Jason Todd, so the year's next to last week goes down in flames ... officially.


This week, "Fathom Sourcebook" #1 written by the scribe of this column hit retail shelves. It'd be ever so great if you grabbed a copy. 

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!

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