The Buy Pile: Snow White Stands Supreme

Thu, September 19th, 2013 at 11:20am 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 SEPTEMBER 18, 2013

Fables #133
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
"Hope is a liar. It's nothing more than disappointment deferred." With that, the quote of the week, Snow White has a performance that'd be an Emmy nomination for any actress worth her salt, including a metaphor-heavy exit from her sister's company. The whole issue is very focused on the legendary fairy tale character and it does not disappoint, making an issue primarily filled with talking heads dynamic, suspenseful and engaging. Who could have done such a thing? Of course the Eisner-winning team of Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Andrew Pepoy and Lee Loughridge. Wonderful stuff from the best monthly series on the stands.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Not so expensive and damned entertaining.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"All New Executive Assistant Iris" #1 had an ending far too abrupt for its fairly engaging storyline that featured a job interview requiring sais and a katana. International intrigues and the seed of a rivalry, this book was a solid confection that needed more character work and a cleaner ending.

"Dream Thief" #5 delivered a lot of answers as well as some great moments of action and characterization. The problem is that it seems like writer Jai Nitz needed to close this down quickly and didn't have time to develop the arguable antagonist while establishing an interesting status quo for this series to use as a springboard. Worth watching if Dark Horse gives this a chance, a concept with legs like it was a supernatural "Human Target."

Jackie Estacado has an all out battle for his soul and the titular super power in "Darkness" #115, where there's reminiscing about walking on fields of corpses and understanding the nature of the energy. The Doppleganger finds his way home in a means that's almost too easy and Aram (not the guy from "Archer & Armstrong") struggles with who he really is. A strong character piece that had very little plot motion, and a cliffhanger ending that should have shut itself down with the issue's climax. Not bad, but not hitting all of its marks.

The Penguin cuts an interesting figure in "Batman" #23.3 as a crime lord anxious to shake off past embarrassments and reclaim his power. In his way, however, stands a crusading governor who was once his best friend (*cough*retcon*cough*new52*cough*) and lessons that need teaching. Frank Tieri's script makes Penguin a ruthless, uncompromising figure and the art of Christian Duce and Andrew Dalhouse ably depicted the gritty realities of the Penguin's world (while turning in a nice action scene) and a solid ending. Had the governor's character been better developed or anything in the Penguin's way offered more resistance than a stiff breeze, this could have made the jump.

"Superior Spider-Man" #18 was ambitious but busy with Otto starting to fail as his emotions get the better of him. Time travel goes wild to protect science businessmen in two chronological eras and the scattered nature of this issue took it out of contention.

"Doctor Who" #13 was a very cute start to an adventure involving a mysteriously impossible gunman and names like "Edison" and "Oscar Wilde" and "Calamity Jane," all bracketed with Matt Smith's eccentric, infectious enthusiasm. However, with much less than a quarter of an episode's worth of content, it's not cute enough to justify the cover price.

Lex Luthor enjoyed what, for him, was a virtually perfect day in "Action Comics" #23.3 as Superman was completely MIA and the billionaire got to do things he enjoyed -- destroying lives for his own amusement, casual murder, blowing eighty million dollars just to prove a point and shooting at stuff. It was a cute exercise, but wasn't much of a story.

A super hero who gets his powers from drugs and drinking turns to the 12-step method after a battle turns extraordinarily "Man of Steel"-ish. That's the core of "Buzzkill" #1, a wickedly clever concept that's a little too slow in its execution. The lead's regret and frustration play really well, but his Captain Ersatz Batman could have been anybody and there aren't really any other characters to get anything from. An interesting idea, let's wait and see if it has more to it.

"X-Files Season 10" #4 played like a really good "conspiracy" episode of the old series, with the Lone Gunmen playing Barbara Gordon back at their HQ and a mysterious shapeshifter playing havoc with Scully's perceptions. A little short on plot but spot on with the vibe and the characters.

"Zero" #1 is an interesting dose of tech enhanced espionage and super warfare in the middle east. An enhanced Hamas operative and an Israeli super soldier going toe to toe while an allied spy is tasked with getting the stolen tech out of the Hamas guy. With artwork better suited to capture this kind of spectacle or more character insights into almost any of the players (not that the sex scene wasn't cute, for all its ill-considered timing), this could have been a contender, and should be worth watching to see if it ever becomes anything.

Cowardice and betrayal haunt the few Jedi who survive in "Star Wars Dark Times: A Spark Remains" #3. There's a wonderful Vader moment, borrowing a page from the Batman Book of Surprises! but there's a lengthy action sequence that lacks vitality and motion. The characters don't pop just yet, and the snippets of characters the reader might know are scant and hard to come by.

"Bloodshot And H.A.R.D. Corps" #14 was okay as an "opening shot," establishing the war between Project Rising Spirit and the Harada Foundation, two organizations chock full of super powered partisans anxious to beat and blast the hell out of each other. It spent the better part of its time with the latter half of its title, establishing the legend of a leader by implication and its main cast mostly as fairly predictable cliches. Still, with rock solid visual storytelling ("ghost mode" was wonderful) and a plot that runs at full speed, many will forgive the characterization issues herein. Not bad.

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

"Jennifer Blood" #31, "Cable And X-Force" #14, "Wonder Woman" #23.1, "Harbinger" #16, "Captain Marvel" #16, "Justice League Of America" #7.3, "Bravest Warriors" #12, "Infinity" #3, "Teen Titans" #23.2, "X-O Manowar" #17, "New Avengers" #10, "Sixth Gun" #34, "Lone Ranger" #18, "Green Lantern" #23.3, "Savage Wolverine" #8, "Savage Dragon" #191, "Flash" #23.3, "Conan The Barbarian" #20, "Detective Comics" #23.3, "Shadow Annual" 2013, "Batman The Dark Knight" #23.3, "Transformers Regeneration One" #0, "Morning Glories" #31, "Bubblegun" #3, "Uncanny X-Men" #12, "Mind The Gap" #14, "Secret Avengers" #9, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures" #3, "Venom" #41, "Kiss Me Satan" #1, "Great Pacific" #10, "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" #2, "Six-Gun Gorilla" #4, "Half Past Danger" #5, "Cyber Force" #6, "Damsels: Mermaids" #5, "Bounce" #5, "Ghostbusters" #7, "Aphrodite IX" #5, "Justice League Dark" #23.2, "Thor God Of Thunder" #13.

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

"Justice League" #23.3 was a mess. "Dial E" or whatever it was, was less of a story and more of a train wreck. No character work, no plot, just random identities and powers tossed around. Terrible.

Worse than that? All right. "Superior Carnage" #3 was, to whit, inferior. Even with a world-class Otto quip, the new shape of the symbiote is a little too mecha-influenced for its own good and was deathly dull.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Just two bad books, and in comparison to some other weeks, they were minor offenses.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Snow White's tour de force performance can trump even two bad books, so overall the week wins by a thin margin.

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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