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 10, 2014
Astro City #18
When a title with as long a record of dazzling issues turns in one that's merely "really good," it almost feels like a let down. This mostly flashback-fueled episode touches on Quarrel, the daughter of a super villain who turned to heroism but finds herself rather far on the downhill slope of it. Contemplative and thorough, it humanizes the character, but doesn't have any "oomph," any nuance to take it from a solid exercise in craft to something you'll be talking about for weeks to come. Good, but not great -- luckily we know from history that "Astro City" can't stay away from greatness very long.
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1
Jump from the Read Pile.
This big book is super enjoyable. In a very engaging lead story, Spider-Man gets fixated on returning a phone to a tourist, battling laughable super villains and teaming up with Hawkeye along the way, all while putting his Parker Luck on work he needed to do. In an equally refreshing back up, Dr. Bong leads a goofy crew of ne'er-do-wells who get a big, Spidery surprise. A big, fun, enjoyable and wholly self-contained comic that is just what you're looking for.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Not so thrilling but not so expensive, nothing to complain about there.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
On one side, "Eternal" #1 looks at some new-ish concepts in a post-cloning world where bodies are essentially disposable and forever is a function of software. Unfortunately, it falls into tired tropes of fictional execution by shorthand -- oppressive fascist regime, plucky and yelling anarchist protagonist, rag tag opposition forces. On the flatness of the page this is par for the course, but again this could shine on a screen with the right direction and actors.
"Spider-Man And The X-Men" #1 had a number of cute moments as the arachnid avatar dropped in as a guidance counselor at the mutant-packed Jean Grey School. However, the ham-fisted lessons learned, the blank check mandate from the departed Wolverine ... it didn't ring true, like this was a marketing dream searching for a story, and not really finding it.
"B**** Planet" #1 is both triumphant and challenging. On one hand, it brings some interesting science fiction twists -- the other side of the Stepford Wives coin, with an interplanetary waste bin for members of the female gender who don't fit strict patriarchal roles. This happens with solid action sequences and great scripting establishing an effective tone. However the lead characters are stereotypes in the extreme -- badass Black fighter, angry big woman, sheepish white lady out of her depth -- that might remind some of watching Netflix. In any case, it's an interesting start, and to see these characters become something while developing the plot seems like it could work. Let's watch and find out.
If one day the adaptation fairies turn the property into a big budget action movie (or even a low budget late night cable movie), "7th Sword" #6 will be where filmmakers have the sweeping score and the bracing close ups. Some nice scenes but the characters nor stakes connect. An interesting idea that can one day be elevated by actors and effects.
"After months of "meh," "Batman Eternal" #36 showed a minor glimpse of interest as all the sturm und drang seemed to have a point, even as belabored and retrograde as it is. That was a pleasant surprise in an otherwise largely cliche and overwrought Batman story.
"Afterlife with Archie" #7 is not bad, playing well with flashbacks and using Betty's diary as an unreliable narrator and framing device while addressing a small group of Riverdale regulars evading a zombie infestation with Jughead as its unholy leader. Surprisingly effective for fans of zombie works and smart in building reasons for character traits -- Veronica's sharpness, Reggie's bitterness, Betty's relatively placid nature -- all while adding relatable touches. If you can accept a story with zombies, this is likely a must-have.
"Amazing Spider-Man" #11 was terrible. Instead of trying to tell its story in a straight line, it started two or three and said, "follow this in another book that will cost you another three bucks, bwahahaha." Insulting, incoherent, with stakes that are empty and meaningless against an enemy that's tedious and uninteresting.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Nightcrawler" #9, "Constantine" #20, "Rocket Raccoon" #6, "Harley Quinn Holiday Special" #1, "Avengers And X-Men Axis" #7, "Walking Dead" #135, "Amazing X-Men" #14, "Dungeons And Dragons Legends Of Baldur's Gate" #3, "Uncanny X-Men Annual" #1, "Shutter" #7, "Valiant" #1, "Justice League United" #7, "Wild's End" #4, "Solar Man Of The Atom" #8, "Fuse" #8, "Batgirl" #37, "Spider-Verse Team Up" #2, "Winterworld" #5, "Avengers World" #16, "Sex Criminals" #9, "New Suicide Squad" #5, "Herald Lovecraft And Tesla" #1, "Punisher" #13, "Green Lantern Corps" #37, "Princess Ugg" #6, "Avengers" #39, "Ex-Con" #4, "Worlds' Finest" #29, "Axis Carnage" #3, "George Perez's Sirens" #2, "Thor" #3, "New 52 Futures End" #32, "X" #20, "Supreme Blue Rose" #5, "X-Force" #13, "Transformers" #36, "Rachel Rising" #30, "Deadpool's Art Of War" #3, "Klarion" #3, "Guardians Of The Galaxy Annual" #1, "God Is Dead" #25, "X-Men" #22, "Earth 2 World's End" #10, "Magdalena Seventh Sacrament" #1, "All-New Ultimates" #11, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Goddess Inc." #5.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
Re: "Teen Dog" #4. Still dazzlingly terrible, cliche, and dull.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Like that Michael Bluth meme, this is pretty much what one would have expected.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
A quiet win is still a win for a week with purchases that rose to the challenge, but didn't rise very high and a set of reads that pretty much just showed up.
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!