The Buy Pile: Grendel, Die, Wonder Twins & Black Cat Win Big

All hail the paladin in Grendel Devil's Odyssey #2


Every week Hannibal Tabu (winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt/2018-2019 City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Cultural Trailblazer/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated) takes on between seven to thirteen reviews (or so) to share his opinions with you. Thursday afternoons you'll be able to get those thoughts (and they're just the opinions of one guy, so calm down) about all of that ... which goes something like this ...


Grendel Devil's Odyssey #2 (Dark Horse Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. Now, this is some interesting science fiction for you. The cyborg paladin called Grendel Prime has been set loose on the galaxy to find a new world for humanity to inhabit. He comes across the species called the Gyk, who are incredibly well-described down to their cultural and biological differences. Grendel Prime is a rather blunt instrument and his lack of apparent subtlety becomes a big part of the story's resolution in a very entertaining yet wholly inevitable way. This book by Matt Wagner (script and art, with colors by Brennan Wagner and letters by Dave Lanphear) does a great job of building out this new world and its inevitable collision course with "human industry." RATING: BUY.

Die #9 (Image Comics)

Die #9
Roll for initiative as Die #9 got some sneak attack damage on you.

How do you fight in Angria? This issue digs in to the origins of the fantasy world in which this group of former friends is stuck, and it goes deep. It could be strangely didactic, but no, the narration (reliable or not) is gripping as it breaks down what's happening. Most of the characters get a chance to shine (the "400 yards" part was pretty good) and this is another Kieron Gillen script that rolls a crit. The art by Stephanie Hans, Elvire de Cock and Clayton Cowles showcases two unusual locales with equally enthralling levels. RATING: BUY.

Wonder Twins #9 (DC Comics)

Wonder Twins #9
What horrible shame are Zan and Jayna running from? Find out in Wonder Twins #9.

If Mark Russell were writing this kind of Superman dialogue for Tyler Hoechlin, they would literally have to hire people to catch the avalanches of money coming at them. With the terrifying but well-meaning machinations of the Math family as a backdrop, this issue makes Superman a breathtaking force for good while not taking the focus away from the title characters. The clean, sharp visuals from Stephen Byrne and Dave Sharpe make for engaging personal moments and impressive action scenes (great threat work, Batman). This series is a true treasure. RATING: BUY.

Black Cat #6 (Marvel Comics)

Black Cat #6
Black Cat #6 wants to go ouuuuuuut tonight!

In another winner, this issue is a masterful example of a diptych narrative executed brilliantly. One one track (and serving as an interesting narration for the second), the Black Cat goes on a date with a surprisingly thoughtful and interesting scoundrel known around the Marvel milieu. On the other hand, her mentor is besieged and struggles for his life. As hard as it might be to believe, both storylines feed into each other brilliantly. Jed McKay delivers a script that gives every character agency and intent while the artwork from Mike Dowling, Brian Reber and Ferran Delgado bring this exciting night to kinetic, romantic life. RATING: BUY.

RELATED: How Marvel's Black Cat #1 Became the Best-Selling Comic in June 2019

So much happened in Going to the Chapel #3, a thrill ride that includes explosions, teaching kids about shotguns, a fertility statue and so much craziness. The only thing that was an issue is the uneven characterization -- this is really a broken love story, but it has so many other elements that it's difficult to hang on to that emotional core. Still, there's no denying the Cannonball Run level of gleeful momentum, and that may play better in a collected edition. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Red Sonja #10 has a kind of cleverness to it that's appealing, and good character work but also doesn't really do much for all its flashbacks and redirects. Collected, this will likely shine. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

What if Red Sonja got old? That's the basic pitch for Crone #1, a decently told sword and sorcery story that posits the twilight years of a legendary woman warrior. There's a bit of a cliche in the execution, some "methinks she dost protest too much," but with solid artwork and pretty good characterization, there's stuff to like for fans of the Robert E. Howard canon. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

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The Immortal Hulk #26 was very close to making the jump as it followed some of the growing distaste for the way things are, and put some muscle behind it. A Bruce Banner pirate manifesto against the world of man? Uh ... OK. The chorus of voices played a lot like Spawn to spin the camera around, but the actual plot got the short end of the stick. Will this make a dent? Not this month, but we'll see. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #38 had a lot more regret and hand wringing than one might like, even though two wonderful old friends make an amnesiac comeback. While Vader is here, he is more Batman Beyond than Batman (that is not a compliment). RATING: MEH.

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 looks fantastic. The character designs, the locations -- it's a breathtaking and engagingly fun vision of the future. However, "characters" ... well, there's a lot of talking and a lot of banter, but frankly it's mostly interchangeable save Superboy himself. Then, the plot is not much to speak of. It's kind of a "much ado about nothing" sort of thing, honestly. You'd be better off with the orientation. RATING: MEH.

RELATED: Legion of Super-Heroes: A Powerful DC Artifact Just Surfaced in the Future

The Amazing Spider-Man #33 wants to be a super-powered political thriller, but it keeps needing to put ol' web-head in the middle of things, and he's as clueless as Herman Cain at a geography conference. RATING: MEH.

Billy Batson is intended to be the purest possible spirit, which is much of why he has the power of Shazam. In Infected King Shazam #1, of course, he has been corrupted and turned into that jerk-off frat bro who blusters his way through everything, here looking for gods to beat up to be worthy of his company. That isn't what could traditionally be called "entertaining," but that's mostly at the conception level of this "story," as the execution is serviceable enough. Perhaps this is an aphorism for our times, the polar opposite of the spirit of this week's Legion book. RATING: NO. JUST ... NO.

Despite having Superman-level powers, the title character in Black Terror #2 was largely useless and could have been asleep for most of the issue and it would not have made a lick of difference. Paper-thin characterizations, nonsensical plot and an undeserved emotional stinger at the end. RATING: NO. JUST ... NO.


Four big buys tromp all over two bad books, so this week is a resounding bucket full of "win."


Did you miss this columnist with actor/rapper Malcolm Barrett (Timeless, The Boys, Preacher)and TV writer & producer Joel Anderson Thompson (Battlestar Galactica, Superstition, Krypton dropping HUGE spoilers on the last one)? You can watch the whole panel now, just like you were at Los Angeles Comic-Con.

Also, you can get a 64 page superhero-fights-giant-monster experience for $5 now because Project Wildfire: Street Justice is on sale now at Peepgame Comix, so go buy it now!

Have you checked out season four of the free web comic Project Wildfire: The Once and Future King? While you can, read the whole thing for the best possible price: "free."

T-shirts, stickers and even a hoodie: find the finest in indie comics merchandise in the Operative Network Store on the site and on Etsy.

The writer of this column isn't just a jerk who spews his opinions -- he writes stuff too. A lot. Like what? You can get Scoundrel (historical fiction set in 1981 east Los Angeles), Irrational Numbers: Addition (a supernatural historical fiction saga with vampires), Project Wildfire: Enter Project Torrent (a collected superhero web comic), 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, a story in Watson and Holmes Volume 2 co-plotted by 2 Guns creator Steven Grant, two books from Stranger Comics -- Waso: Will To Power and the sequel Waso: Gathering Wind (the tale of a young man who had leadership thrust upon him after a tragedy), or Fathom Sourcebook #1, Soulfire Sourcebook #1, Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook #1 and Aspen Universe Sourcebook, the official guides to those Aspen Comics franchises. 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 to try and review the work, 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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