The Buy Pile: Giant Robots, An Armed Princess & Assassin School

Thu, May 30th, 2013 at 9:58am PDT

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (two-time Eisner-winning journalist/winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock -- hey Steve, Jason, Vince and Quislet) and 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 MAY 29, 2013

Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #17
(IDW Publishing)
There's almost too much going on in this fun, funny, intense issue where a lost legend reappears and inspires imagination and trepidation for the motley crew of mechanoids. A billion lives hang in the balance as one moment changes everything and with great one-liners too ("sometimes I wonder why we even have alt modes"), this character-driven issue continues this title's run as some of the best science fiction being printed in comics. Another brilliant script by James Roberts with slightly-busy-but-still-charismatic art from Alex Milne and Josh Burcham.

Five Weapons #4
(Image Comics)
Wow. With a huge cast of characters that each draw you in with their idiosyncrasies and a brilliant, multi-layered plot that cleverly misdirects and deduces, Jimmie Robinson has delivered again in a huge, huge way. Old secrets threaten the present day at a school for assassins where a student called Tyler Shainline tries to play a number of disparate factors against each other all for a chance at freedom from the restrictions of society. There's at least half a dozen gripping moments and so much wonderful plot development jammed in here, you'll boggle even more to remember Robinson is a one-man show, writing and drawing all of this. Simply amazing storytelling.

Princeless Volume 2 #3
(Action Lab Entertainment)
In another wonderful issue, two plots run simultaneously as the sexist king walks slowly towards what looks like his comeuppance and his youngest daughter fights a Native American-themed knight (nice fight scenes) in an effort ton rescue" her eldest sister. Great character work on both siblings, the werewolf chieftain was cagey in all the right ways and this issue was perfectly balanced plot wise. Fun stuff, suitable for all ages and plain entertaining.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Wonderful, wonderful comics came home this week. That's awesome!

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Chew" #34 takes a weird and wonderful turn as the "vampire" the protagonist chases reveals how closely he borrows from the Book of Sylar, amassing a huge host of "food weirdo" powers including immortality, linguistics and truth compulsion. On the other hand, the oddest US senator you've ever seen gets brought in as a resource for Savoy's quest for justice, uncovering everything wrong with this poultry-free society. John Layman and Rob Guillory turn in another clever, intense installment of what Showtime was foolish enough to not bring into your living room. The definition of "TV good," but a hair's breadth away from making the jump.

"Avenging Spider-Man" #21 had a number of amusing moments as Soviet mercenaries broke into a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier (which means somebody had a lotta pretty unpleasant paperwork to do) to try and kill the Chameleon ... all while Otto Parker was hell bent on breaking him out. Way too messy a plot but it had some fun moments in the superior superhero's quest to collect some of his former friends.

Magic and swordplay are the hallmarks of "Kill Shakespeare: The Tide Of Blood" #4 when the Bard of Avon shows up in a big way, Romeo gets twisted up in his own motivations and Juliet struggles with tragedy again. Writers Conor McCreery and Anthony del Col have a great grasp on the feeling of Shakespearean language (cribbing several lines) while abandoning the more obtuse issues of comprehension. Still, the plot could be a little snappier, and perhaps this installment will satisfy more in collected form.

"Catwoman Annual" #1 puts the femme fatale at odds with the Penguin, whose ego demands she work for him and that's not exactly how Selina Kyle rolls. With a crafty take on the drug trade (outside of the Bat's purview, it seems), drone technology at use in Gotham and cops chasing the wrong idea, there's almost as many cliches as solid elements, and that balance is not quite good enough to make the cut.

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

"Adventures Of Superman" #1, "King Conan The Hour Of The Dragon" #1, "Jinnrise" #5, "Batman The Dark Knight Annual" #1, "Dead Man's Run" #5, "Clone" #7, "Justice League Of America" #4 (despite the allegedly important events herein), "X-Men" #1, "Last Of Us American Dreams" #2, "Venom" #35, "Injustice Gods Among Us" #5, "Shadow Year One" #3, "Indestructible Hulk" #8, "Deathmatch" #6, "Executive Assistant Assassins" #11, "Doctor Who Prisoners Of Time" #5, "Lost Vegas" #3, "Amala's Blade" #2, "Clive Barker's Next Testament" #1, "Mind The Gap" #10, "Uncanny X-Force" #5, "Angel And Faith" #22, "Dark Avengers" #190, "Green Hornet Legacy" #37, "Danger Girl Trinity" #2, "G.I. JOE" #4, "Transformers Prime Beast Hunters" #1, "Wake" #1, "Thief Of Thieves" #14, "Earth 2 Annual" #1, "Savage Wolverine" #5, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Realm Knights" #1.

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

With more than five pages of text and shorthand visual explanations, one might think a book that looks as good as "Morning Glories" #27 would at least be good. That thought would be wrong. The multiple timelines on "Lost" look like a self-contained episode of "The Andy Griffith Show" in comparison to this stylish, slick michegas of messy plotting, vague characterization (way too many characters are visually similar) and overall incomprehensibility. For a book to sell this well and look this good yet still be terrible is really scary.

In "New Avengers" #6, they follow the worst possible thing to do when taking a group of Avengers to Latveria, especially when one of their number wants nothing more than to kill the head of that country. An entire world is to be destroyed and there's more than enough talk, talk, talk, talk, talk about it. Then, fun fact, a John Stewart Impurity leads a woman that makes Ann Coulter look ethnic to tell the Black guy, basically, "now you're a man." Get this noise out of town.

"Red Hood And The Outlaws Annual" #1 didn't seem like it could figure out if it was a book from before or after the New 52 soft reboot, with Cheshire using data from before that time to taunt people in the here and now. Did Roy lose his arm? What's with Jason's sudden bout of amnesiac conscience? Why was Oliver Queen so stupid? Tiresome and needlessly weepy.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

A little of this, a little of that. Could have been worse.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Purchases as good as the ones made today can beat even stinkers like "New Avengers" and "Morning Glories."

THE BUSINESS

As of right now, you can spend ten bucks and get about 175,000 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. 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. 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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