The Buy Pile: Super Science, Immortality & Mind Reading

Thu, June 27th, 2013 at 10:28am PDT | Updated: June 27th, 2013 at 1:30pm

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 JUNE 26, 2013

Think Tank #8
(Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
The lead in this intriguing book goes through an emotional roller coaster as he finally starts to process the huge amount of blood on his hands. There's three separate movements in the plot -- a grieving one, a political one and a spy thriller -- all working in wonderful harmony. A pleasant surprise driving the larger narrative and delivering a complete experience in its pages. Writer Matt Hawkins always has a firm grasp on multiple scientific disciplines and concepts, but here he made character matter as well without sacrificing the gallows humor that gives this title its charm. As always, Rahsan Ekedal's clear, clean artwork makes every moment vibrant. Great book.

Uncanny #1
(Dynamite Entertainment)
Jump from the Read Pile.
With an opening that borders on poetry, "Uncanny" #1 lives in the same thriller neighborhood as "Who Is Jake Ellis," and is a white-knuckled joyride at speeds nobody would consider legal or safe. With a super powered scoundrel protagonist, temporarily lifting secrets and abilities from people around him, there are scams and subterfuges aplenty set in the exotic climes of Singapore. Writer Andy Diggle delivers almost enough answers to bring this one home, and art by Aaron Campbell and Bill Crabtree were solid in depicting the claustrophobic, kinetic circumstances shown.

Lazarus #1
(Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
This issue showcased the skills of collaborators Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, who didn't give all the answers but asked all the right questions in a science fiction take on income inequality and horrors the future would hold. Doing everything "Occupy Comics" wanted to do in a far more skillful fashion, the story focuses on an extrahuman enforcer called Forever for the 1% of the 1% who has dire misgivings about holding her "family" in their place of privilege while billions suffer. Forever's moral struggle is well shown and the flat color palette actually enhances the story's bleak perspective. Fine, fine work.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Hell of a good start to the week! Also purchased (but not reviewed here due to conflicts of interest) was "Dusu: Path of the Ancient" #2, following up on the well reviewed debut issue. Awesome fantasy comics, so an all around good week.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

It was hard to leave "Hawkeye" #11 at the store as this brilliantly crafted issue, which is told entirely from the perspective of Clint Barton's dog. The wonderful elements of how a dog would remember and recognize people around it, the tricks of making a vocabulary out of symbols, it's all brilliant work. However, the technique is better than the narrative itself, good ideas and wonderful concepts used to reveal a fairly commonplace, pedestrian plot that was too graphic design-y, like it spent too long around Jonathan Hickman and tried to ape his style.

"Elephantmen" #49 is like a science fiction tone poem, borrowing some of the good vibrations from "Flash Gordon" more than "John Carter" as the Elephantmen flash back to a visit to Mars. However, since it was all a character-related flashback, the stakes seemed muted and the rationales seem skimmed over. The storyteller subplot had some legs but didn't do anything new or reveal anything to push the plot forward. Wonderful moments, dazzling visuals, but the parts meant more than the whole.

Good individual pieces suffered from weak execution in "Justice League Of America" #5 as the "Secret Society" strives to make a name for itself and Steve Trevor's team has trouble even dealing with each other. Until they don't. Old ideas are made new again, sort of, all with wonderful art and the big surprise from last issue is deflated like a kid's bouncy castle when the party's over. Not bad, but surely not making it work well enough.

"Secret Avengers #5" had the opposite problem from "Justice League of America" and "Hawkeye," in that its execution was dull, covering up fascinating ideas underneath. SHIELD had lots of administrative restructurings, there's changes on the geopolitical front that are rather interesting and Nick Fury's love child is happy to pull the trigger. They're trying, here ...

Same problem existed in "Young Avengers" #6 as Prodigy and Speed show some of the underground economy that exists for the powered and desperate. Fun moments, wonderful Kate Brown artwork, but not in a way that was going anywhere plot wise. Intriguing but flawed.
EDIT: The book's interiors were originally attributed to regular series artist Jamie McKelvie.

"Jupiter's Legacy" #2 is easily too slow by a half measure but still makes for an interesting indictment of not only modern superhero comics but the entire attitude of the western status quo. The Utopian is a superman hell bent on maintaining things, but he's held back his genius brother and neglected the upbringing of his overly powerful son, and the pieces start to fall in a way that can't help but make the carnage of "Man of Steel" look like a slow day on "Scrubs." Quietly's artwork captures grandeur and personal moments well, the eventual adaptation of this will likely dazzle, but this moves too slowly for the periodical approach.

For all the fun "Guardians Of The Galaxy" #4 had, it's a surprise that at the end of things its plot was so thin it could slip underneath a door. Tony Stark got laid, Drax got drunk, Groot had some erudite thoughts on relationships and an Accuser comes to play (not the one you expect, not in a way you'd expect) as the issue tread water instead of forwarding any of the storylines.

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

"Bounce" #2, "Masks" #8, "Fatale" #15, "Vitriol The Hunter" #5, "Scarlet Spider" #18, "Larfleeze" #1, "Ultimate Comics X-Men" #28, "Akaneiro" #2, "Journey Into Mystery" #653, "KISS Solo" #4, "Jirni" #3, "Green Team Teen Trillionaires" #2, "Five Ghosts The Haunting Of Fabian Gray" #4, "Uncanny X-Force" #7, "Daredevil" #27, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #23, "Superman" #21, "X-O Manowar" #14, "All-New X-Men" #13, "All-Star Western" #21, "Godzilla Rulers Of Earth" #1, "Grimm Fairy Tales Annual 2013," "Hoax Hunters Case Files" #1, "Nova" #5, "Justice League" #21, "King Conan The Hour Of The Dragon" #2, "Flash" #21, "Powers Bureau" #5, "Executive Assistant Assassins" #12, "Clone" #8, "Red Lanterns" #21, "Avengers Arena" #11, "Last Of Us American Dreams" #3, "Star Trek" #22, "Angel And Faith" #23, "Doctor Who Prisoners Of Time" #6, "Mouse Guard Legends Of The Guard Volume 2" #1, "Aquaman" #21, "Sex" #4, "Mind MGMT" #12, "Judge Dredd" #8, "Ghostbusters" #5, "True Blood" #14, "Catwoman" #21, "Fathom The Elite Saga" #2, "Amala's Blade" #3, "Massive" #13, "Battlestar Galactica" #2, "Prophet" #36, "Teen Titans" #21, "Age Of Ultron" #10A.I.

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

There were distributor concerns with "Batman Superman" #1 but this column was ... well "lucky" isn't the right word, but a review copy was discovered. Shame. Jae Lee's art is as ill-suited for this kind of superhero comics as Theo's Gordon Gartrell knock off shirt, while the messy, hopping-around-in-time plot was a catastrophe. Ill considered for such a huge price point and a high profile concept.

Even more incomprehensible than the last issue. There are speeches and threats, references and dreams, but nothing connects. Elements spin like a Kansas tornado, clashing and drifting away from each other, in a comic that seeks to tell a story in multiple time periods and locations, but fails to even be "Lost," ending up simply misplaced. Go home, "Morning Glories" #28. You're drunk.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Only two stinkers? That ain't bad.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

A pile full of comics that won on sheer merit, nothing that insulted your intelligence too much ... let's call that a win!

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 will do our best to make sure 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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