The Buy Pile: Guns, Swords and Happily Ever After

Thu, July 18th, 2013 at 10:30am PDT

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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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 JULY 17, 2013

Dream Thief #3
(Dark Horse Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Never slowing down to consider itself, this issue from Jai Nitz and Greg Smallwood sends the protagonist John Lincoln on a relentless tear for late night justice through the "modern" southern US (maybe the only way to get that this week), leaving a trail of smoking cars and corpses in his wake. The nonchalant acceptance Lincoln has for a life that's clearly off the rails is engaging in the same way Mark Valley was as Christopher Chance, a rakish kind of scoundrel locked in on a course of justice, but surely not the cleanest means of getting it. A fully realized story happens with an intriguing cliffhanger leading to the next, this is high octane comics storytelling and one engaging project.

Red Sonja #1
(Dynamite Publishing)
Jump from the Read Pile.
With a deftness in introducing and strengthening character, writer and Gail Simone easily establishes the badass-ery of the title character, makes an equally credible antagonist and sets a scene for the conflict that is enjoyable. Sword and sorcery adventure done right, a wonderful action scene from Walter Geovani and Adriano Lucas and a kick in the pants for this franchise that's been moribund for a while. Great fun!

Fables #131
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
Honestly? This isn't the best issue of this series. There are three moments that, for long time fans, are worth their weight in gold, moments of character development and fascination that people who've got twenty, fifty, a hundred issues under their belt will find as sweet as strawberry wine. However, the plot's a little Kirkman-esque (being a part of a story instead of being a story itself) and that's not exactly the best means of accomplishing things. Not bad -- a bad issue of "Fables" is better than most good issues of "Avengers" or "Justice League" -- but not one for the record books.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Not a bad start, 2 of 3 really solid pieces in play.

There is a massive conflict of interest that stops this column from reviewing and recommending the wonderful "Watson & Holmes" #1 from New Paradigm Studios (this columnist is writing an issue of the series and is doing publicity for the company) but that doesn't mean it's not amazing nor that you shouldn't buy it!

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

If you were a huge fan of the kitschy television series, "Batman '66" #1 will likely ring your bell in a fairly serious way. Like three episodes of the series, this adventure follows the Adam West version of Bruce Wayne through philanthropy and adventure, with his quippy ward along side observing the obvious. There's cute cameos, period-apropos artwork and the Julie Newmar version of Catwoman, plus inventing 3D printing along the way. If you're not all about camp and kookiness, this might not be as important to you, but for those who find that catnip, this will surely get you going.

"Day Men" #1 is a slick, ruthless introduction to a world of rich vampires and the paid mortals who do their bidding. Wonderfully drawn, smartly told, it plays like an upscale version of "True Blood," with violence edging out sex in percentages. A neophyte "sundog" -- general purpose operative during daylight hours -- gets in the middle of much more than he wants, all while trying to keep the receipts and paperwork together. Not bad, and easy to see as a television series, but just shy of being worth the admission price here.

Staying with the vampire theme, "Blood Brothers" #1 was very, very close to the mark doing some very effective character work that'll likely appeal to fans of "Chew" or the TV show "Psych." Two "bro" vampires chase bail jumpers and scumbags in Vegas while riffing on their thousand year history together. Really entertaining character development, so much so that you almost don't notice how little plot there is or the cipher female character needlessly jeopardized to serve as an impetus for action. If this was a movie starring Kevin Hart and Max Greenfield, "Blood Brothers" would be laughing its way to the bank. As is, not bad and for fatter wallets, it's likely to satisfy.

"Star Wars: Darth Vader And The Ninth Assassin" #4 had some very interesting elements -- a super weapon aimed by mental powers, Vader murdering lots of people, and so on. Unfortunately, a weird, diversionary dream sequence jammed up the middle of the book and there's no real antagonist (sorry, the titular assassin is waiting outside). Vader is meant to have some great moment of emotional struggle but it is played too pat and his eventual laser-like focus returns without it seeming like a big deal. The voice of a transitional Anakin, however, is solid. Not quite finding its way.

"Colonized" #4 was a marked improvement with a number of character moments that conveyed humor and development for the players involved. However, the plot itself remained pedestrian and the situation fairly cliched. If you're hungry for campy good times, this would get you there like a repeat viewing of "Sharknado."

"Aprhodite IX" #3 has better ideas than execution as the titular character slices through credulous "believers" in a genetically modified post-apocalyptic cult like they're standing still. The ease of this happening in an essentially alien environment starts to strain credulity, but the art's solid and the Executor character is starting to distinguish himself. The seed of something interesting is here, but it hasn't emerged just yet.

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

"All-New X-Men" #14, "X-Files Season 10" #2, "Birds Of Prey" #22, "Star Wars Dark Times: A Spark Remains" #1, "Green Lantern New Guardians" #22, "Half Past Danger" #3, "He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe" #4, "Accelerators" #2, "Justice League Of America" #6, "Fathom The Elite Saga" #5, "Justice League Of America's Vibe" #6, "Harbinger Wars" #4, "Deadpool" #13, "Legion Of Super-Heroes" #22, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villain Microseries" #4, "Supergirl" #22, "Archer And Armstrong" #11, "Wonder Woman" #22, "Higher Earth" #8, "A+X" #10, "Prophet" #37, "Avengers" #16, "Transformers Regeneration One" #93, "Cable And X-Force" #11, "Non-Humans" #4, "Bravest Warriors" #10, "Invincible" #104, "Conan The Barbarian" #18, "Elephantmen" #50, "G.I. JOE Special Missions" #5, "Artifacts" #29, "Superior Carnage" #1, "Batman And Catwoman" #22, "Nova" #6.

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

Given how amazing so many of Kieron Gillen's other works have been, it's alarming to see how bad "Iron Man" #13 is. Death's Head showcases a lack of research that's oddly out of character, Tony Stark continues to be more tool than hero and the rogue Rigellian recorder unveils his plan, which would have fit in well with Gruenwald's Hyperion and Master Menace. This doesn't make any sense, period, and it's sad to see Tony Stark yanked around like a rag doll, the plot tediously trying to achieve but failing at every turn as everything that made Tony Stark a compelling character has been replaced with, essentially, software. Truly tragic.

What's odder than that is how "Thanos Rising" #4 did the exact same thing, revealing the title character as an analogue of Crazy Dr. Baltar, a manipulated puppy dog with less godliness and power than ramped up gadgets and a desperate need to impress. As impetus goes, this is a limp breeze on a still day. This is terrible and embarrassing.

Finally, you wanted a fight with three Thors going against a guy named the God Butcher? Sorry, that happened off panel in "Thor: God Of Thunder" #10 with lots of talking and tedious chatter along the way. A real let down.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Three stinkers? That's not so bad.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Three great comics purchases, one good one and more "we're trying there" compared to the meager number of truly bad comics -- that sends you into #SDCC feeling good about comics, doesn't it?

THE BUSINESS

For all of you making a podiatrist rich in the future while shlepping around San Diego, enjoy. This columnist -- wielding two comic books under his own name -- will be there next year. Probably.

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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