WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (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 OCTOBER 23, 2013
Jump from the Read Pile.
This was a fantastic heist comic, grabbing the reader by the throat in the first third, involving planning, then shaking hard throughout the rest. The action sequences and storytelling were top notch, even with a little too much shading on the coloring (perhaps a note from the photo reference, which seems to stand out here). Still, engaging even with a less clear action sequence in a skyscraper, and it was a slow week, so there was no problem bringing this one home.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Sex Criminals" #2 threw off the balance of its brilliant debut issue by spending too much time in extended expository flashbacks while ignoring something really interesting happening in the story's present day. Not to say the character development wasn't interesting -- it was -- but it drained the momentum from the mysterious parties surprising our protagonists. Great art, great coloring, great concepts but only executed at a "good" level, whereas the last issue was superb.
"Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" #28 was good but predictable and talky with a very lengthy expository monologue in its candy center, with Ultimate Spider-Woman as the most impressive part, largely using her phone. The action sequences, though, were top notch and despite the cliches, had some enjoyable elements.
If you like supernatural elements like vampires and zombies plus top notch action sequences and tongue in cheek humor, "Kiss Me Satan" #2 is likely right up your haunted alley. A coven of witches is being hunted by a werewolf clan to keep a secret safe in the sticky environs of Louisiana. A mysterious badass in a Cadillac is defending the cheesecake-styled witches and the introduction of the situation is done with some deftness. Good for fans of books like "Hack/Slash" or "Blood Brothers."
"Numbercruncher" #4 is a pleasant surprise, a masterful bit of writing from Si Spurrier with a very clever twist ending that relied heavily on many things from previous issues (well referenced) and neatly tied up. The artistic side of it was less than convincing, which took some of the "oomph" out of it, but this will altogether make for a good ending of a collected version but didn't really do enough to make up for the lack of story weight earlier.
"Secret Avengers" #10 had shades of the televised "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," as part of Thanos' invasion of Earth was partially foiled by Terrigen-infused inhumans hidden in the general earth populace. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't quite ready for prime time.
Just when "Justice League" #24 was getting good, it ran out of pages, as we get a very quick and effective telling of Ultraman's origins (makers of "Man of Steel," take note) while having him tear through the lives and perceptions of familiar Metropolis personalities. Brutal, well paced, gripping, but felt like it was just a prologue for an actual story.
What would it be like if even Miss Moneypenny was a former field operative? Taking pages from the Barbara Gordon handbook, "Velvet" #1 posits a secretive intelligence agency descended from the WW2 era forced to deal with confusion within their ironclad ranks. With a style falling somewhere between "Queen & Country" and "Steed & Mrs. Peel," this deep cover commentary on the early 70s cold war intelligence world seems very British and very stylish, and if it were part of a prose novel, it would have you on the edge of your seat. As a comic, it didn't grip you visually until it was almost over and had pacing that needed to be a bit zippier. Not bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but not quite where it needed to be.
"Young Avengers" #11 feels like a slight improvement, and not just due to the upgrades to Loki. The long, long struggle against the boringly named "Mother" is coming to what looks like some kind of climax and the team dynamics get lots of wonderful shades of nuance that are worth examining. As always, the crisp artwork from Jamie McKelvie, Kris Anka, Matthew Wilson and Mike Norton make every moment worth seeing even when the script's pace can't keep up.
In "DC Vs. Masters of the Universe" #2, Skeletor may use magic to create a cliched conflict of champions, but the grittiness and tension was effective enough. The last page had shades of that time the Hulk tore Wolverine in two, but needed more visual oomph to really make an impact. A slice above "meh."
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Infinity: The Hunt" #3, "Satellite Sam" #4, "Venom" #42, "Red Lanterns" #24, "Star Trek" #26, "Savage Wolverine" #10, "Bushido" #4, "Infinity Heist" #2, "Superman" #24, "Great Pacific" #11, "Wolverine And The X-Men" #37, "All New Executive Assistant Iris" #2, "Massive" #16, "Doctor Who" #14, "Uncanny Avengers" #13, "Talon" #12, "Thunderbolts" #17, "Transformers Regeneration One" #95, "Nova" #9, "Batman The Dark Knight" #24, "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up" #5, "Tom Strong And The Planet Of Peril" #4, "Aliens Vs Parker" #4, "Daredevil" #32, "Star Wars Legacy 2" #8, "FF" #13, "Clone" #11, "Conan And The People Of The Black Circle" #1, "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" #3, "Aquaman" #24, "Bounce" #6, "Marvel Now What" #1,"Adventures Of Superman" #6, "Indestructible Hulk" #14.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
The retailer at Comics Ink made the case that "Pretty Deadly" #1 has superseded "The Monarchy" as the worst comic ever. The case that was made was that this comic combined "psycho babble, [being] pretentious, bad writing and meandering." While it has only one issue to "Monarchy's" twelve, it is remarkable in its rough hewn, unfinished looking art, drifting narrative and tedium. Said retailer tore a copy of the issue up in front of customers, stating there's "nothing in there that makes you want to pick up the second issue." That's hard to argue against.
Wow. This is ... "Iron Man" #17 is scarily bad. Like, "call for help" bad. Tony Stark learns something about himself that's been so hidden away that it rips the sheets off of everything you know. Except it doesn't. Except for the fact that DC did the exact same gag with Batman at the start of the New 52 and hardly anybody even remembers "Lincoln March." The "secret origin of Tony Stark" already took everything distinctive about the character and made him a software side effect, now it's taken even his genetic namesake while putting him on an even more tedious orphan path. Add to that an issue that's all talking heads and this is an atrocity. Wow.
"Flash" #24 had a conclusion that could be found in the dictionary under "unsatisfying," as the Reverse Flash cried a lot, there was a lot of yelling and Barry Allen monologued so much that even Manga Khan would find it excessive. Lots of splash pages that failed to astonish, lots of verbiage that failed to inform, lots of drama that failed to entertain.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
There were some bad, bad books this week ... but not so many, you know? So that's not so bad.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Not so expensive, so, pretty doggone good.
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!