The Buy Pile: A New Age of Heroism in "Fables"

Thu, August 22nd, 2013 at 11:28am 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 AUGUST 21, 2013

Fables #132
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
Like an episode of one of your favorite TV shows, this issue races briskly along not bothering to hone in on particular characters, letting their established backstory carry them. Rose Red, for example, is on a mission and enacts big doings, both by proxy and by her own hand. By comparison, two kings and a magical plenipotentiary are mere catspaws and functionaries as a new order of knighthood is to be established on the Fables outpost in the mundane world (room for a return of Jack's son, perhaps?) aimed at inspiring a whole new era. If you love this title you will love this issue, brushing against things you know and interpretations of the classic characters that you're familiar with. If not, it might seem average to you. As with all things, your mileage may vary.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

It was aight.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

For aficionados of card games, "Dream Thief" #4 will be a guilty pleasure draped with con men and bad guys, an issue that does a good job of making the city of Memphis a character (from the omnipresent electrical lines courtesy of the Tennessee Valley Authority to the local flavor of architecture). However, the central "action" scene tries to capture the "suspense" of actual card games, falling flat instead. Great artwork, solid storytelling, the plot just slowed down when it should have sped up.

The artwork on "Star Wars: Darth Vader And The Ninth Assassin" #5 was pretty but lacked clarity in visual storytelling, zooming in when it should pull out, robbing Vader of some eye candy moments as he did stuff that, when recounted, sound pretty cool. The execution of these ideas fell flat, and that's disappointing.

The specifics in "Blood Brothers" #2 are a little ridiculous -- like trying to say the Countach isn't good enough, you simply must have the Murcielago, when you have a Countach right there -- but the bonhomie between the two leads and their hilarious flashbacks to a thousand years of being "bros" remains entertaining. The damsel in distress shtick, "feisty" or not, is not Bechdel compliant nor does it help distinguish the story, but the two leads are something special.

"Daredevil" #30 had a fantastic ending that twisted everything Matt Murdock had in his mind. Surprisingly, Mark Waid made it believable that the title character could team up with the Silver Surfer and it not be a complete mockery of both. The antagonist was just a little too milquetoast to sell the proposed threat, but the sight of Daredevil tooling around Hell's Kitchen on Norrin Radd's board is sheer comics fun.

You could feel the growing pains in "Aphrodite IX" #4 as secrets start coming out for everybody involved while struggling with some effective emotions that may or may not be real (or simply programming). The muted color palette works better here (maybe it was that great dragon scene) and the stealth scenes were surprisingly effective too. With a little tighter plotting and perhaps another character stepping up, this might have made the cut.

Kevin Maguire's artwork on "Legion of Super-Heroes" #23 was perfect, down to the facial expressions, but Levitz' story made the machinations of Coruscant's Galactic Senate seem like a roller coaster ride with the JLA and the Avengers by comparison. Quite a lame ending for the future's finest super team.

"Bloodshot" #0 was a solid origin issue looking at the prototypical versions of the killing machine (1970s Afro Blaxploitation Vietnam Bloodshot! 1980s Cold War Bloodshot! 1960s Tubes-In-His-Chest Bloodshot!) discussing some of what went right (and perhaps, from some perspectives, wrong) with the weapons program. Not a bad primer for neophytes, but if you've even read solicitation copy, this refresher course might feel superfluous.

There were some improvements in "He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe" #5 as He-Man's sister brought some actual character development, patching up many of the ridiculous elements of the origins of Skeletor and his brother, Burger King Randor. Hordak got an interesting shift in his powers and the missing sister really struggled through some character moments worth noting. The plot? Deadly slow.

Si Spurrier delivers a charming metamystical tale of accounting, contracts and the afterlife with "Numbercruncher" #2, following a fairly destructive agent of the balance and his wonderfully imagined concept weapon to try and retire by killing just one man. Unfortunately, this one man would fit in well on a title like Top Cow's "Think Tank," a crafty monster of an intellect working the angles and trying to game the system. There's a charm here, as noted, but the gag plays too predictably and the split between color and black and white, while serving the theme, makes for a jarring reading experience. Interesting, ambitious attempt, though.

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

"Judge Dredd" #10, "Morbius The Living Vampire" #8, "Lone Ranger" #17, "Nova" #7, "KISS Kids" #1, "Superior Spider-Man" #16, "Grimm Fairy Tales" #88, "Star Wars Dark Times A Spark Remains" #2, "Thunderbolts" #14, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures" #2, "Ultimate Comics The Ultimates" #29, "Soulfire Volume 4" #6, "Venom" #39, "Thief Of Thieves" #16, "Justice League Of America's Vibe" #7, "Cable And X-Force" #13, "Red Sonja Unchained" #4, "Avengers" #18, "Bounce" #4, "Wonder Woman" #23, "X-Factor" #261, "Conan The Barbarian" #19, "X-Men" #4, "Trinity Of Sin Pandora" #3, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro Series" #5, "Superman Unchained" #3, "Chin Music" #2, "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #23, "Green Hornet Legacy" #40, "Justice League Dark" #23, "Revival" #13, "Dinosaurs Attack" #2, "Green Lantern New Guardians" #23, "I Love Trouble" #6, "Batman And Nightwing" #23, "X-O Manowar" #16, "Batman '66" #2, "Indestructible Hulk" #12.

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

Hey ... nothing was really bad this week! Cool!

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

It was aight.

There was no order for "Outliers" #1, so, sorry.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Nothing that bad happened. That's an amazing accomplishment by itself, so even an average "Fables" book makes this week an at-the-buzzer winner.

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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