WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated) grabs a whole lotta comics, sorting these periodicals (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 NOVEMBER 20, 2013
The main story here, of Rose Red founding a new order of knights to bring second chances to the world, is pretty good. Her pluck and determination shine through, and the script develops some of the would be knights as amusing characters while setting the stakes for this venture in relation to other cast members. The art, as always, is rock solid and there are some good moments. This issue won't blow the doors down, but it's still rather good.
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #23
This issue is burdened with crossover detritus and shifting artistic sentiments that make it difficult to engage with the narrative. Shockwave is in league with two old, old names in Cybertronian history (ones which readers now know thanks to what seemed like digressions down memory lane in previous issues), intent on doing things Megatron could only consider. However, with four or five different locations, each with at least four or five characters to keep track of, when you toss in wildly varied coloring and art styles from page to page this well conceived storyline gets lost in translation. A bit of a let down, but it would have to go two more issues like this to get dropped from "buy on sight" status.
Superior Spider-Man Annual #1
Jump from the Read Pile.
Half-demon super murderer Blackout is in town and he aims to refresh his reputation by ending the web crawler ... which might have worked if the brain behind those webs wasn't more ruthless than Blackout could comprehend. In a beautifully drawn done-in-one story (seriously, Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez and Chris Eliopoulos threw down on Christos Gage's script), the methods and manner show a Spider-Man who is, as advertised, much better at the job of superheroics, even while doing it in a manner much closer to villainy. "If you can't beat them," huh? Mean spirited, cold blooded, dangerously entertaining.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
We've had stronger weeks, but this isn't one to be angry about. Plus, that jump was good stuff!
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Sex Criminals" #3 continues to have some very compelling concepts, whereas the turn to crime is less of a nihilistic raging against the machine and more of an idealistic shift into a kind of heroism. However, spending so much time in flashback (diverting though it was, even with the redacted musical number) takes a bit away from the momentum of the story. Not bad, but the execution doesn't match the brilliance of the core concept.
"Green Lantern New Guardians" #25 posits an interesting speculative fiction dilemma (to detail it would be a spoiler) for an entire planetary populace, leaving Carol the Star Sapphire, Kyle the nearly-all-powerful White Lantern and a handful of demigodlike Guardians to wrestle with the questions of what can be done versus what should. With slightly better developed alien characters, this could have been something, and as it is, it's still a conversation starter. Let's hope this direction continues and improves.
"Red Sonja" #5 has a number of very clever literary tricks up its sleeve, the last page being king amongst them, as Sonja struggles to repay a debt and save a city from her twisted, mad reflection. However, despite some quirky elements, this rarely rises above standard fantasy fare, hitting somewhat predictable marks ("we're doomed") and having pedestrian action scenes. Not bad, though.
"Voice In The Dark" #1 is well drawn, like a cleaner "Ex Machina,", with its grayscale tones making its murderous impulses stand out all the more. The story of a college freshman struggling with murderous impulses makes every normal interaction a bit of gallows humor, with the actual moments of bloodshed shocking surprises. If the pacing on this were a little faster, this easily could be a purchase. Interesting, compelling work.
Ronan the Accuser makes quite an impression in "Avengers" #23 as the battle for earth begins at SWORD's stolen space station. There are big speeches and lots of posturing but for a battle so grand (Shang-Chi holding off one of Thanos' generals), little of it was shown. Not bad, and it'll likely be more impressive when they adapt it for the inevitable Avengers/Guardians of the Galaxy crossover movie.
The anniversary special almost can't compare to the scope of "Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time" #12, which has a cover that spoils its big reveal and never pauses to take the time to examine the ramifications of such a momentous event. So many opportunities for character interactions, so many chances for quips or meaningful looks that cannot be done in live action ... a cute, but cursory conclusion.
"Uncanny X-Men" #14 was kind of okay, as Emma Frost -- in her own way -- takes it upon herself to train a "transmorph" student, a new mutant whose power is not the lame pseudo-shapeshifting he believes, but something much more useful, a low grade version of the likes of the Gibbon or maybe even the Purple Man. Frost's characterization is perfect, as she toys with and manipulates people around her as if they were toys, and the new mutant's struggle to survive in Scott Summers' army is kind of believable. Not for every fan, but if you're dyed in the wool for mutants, this will be right up your alley.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Transformers Dark Cybertron" #1, "Indestructible Hulk" #15, "Wonder Woman" #25, "Eternal Warrior" #3, "Batman And Two-Face" #25, "Ben 10" #1, "Fantastic Four" #14, "Kiss Me Satan" #3, "Trinity Of Sin Pandora" #5, "Battlestar Galactica Starbuck" #1, "Cataclysm The Ultimates" #1, "Clone" #12, "Animal Man" #25, "Buzzkill" #3, "Young Avengers" #12, "Forever Evil Rogues Rebellion" #2, "Imagine Agents" #2, "Accelerators" #4, "Secret Avengers" #11, "Samurai Jack" #2, "Brain Boy" #3, "Thunderbolts" #18, "Pathfinder Special" #1, "Savage Dragon" #192, "Cable And X-Force" #16, "X-O Manowar" #19, "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up" #6, "Warlord Of Mars" #29, "Supergirl" #25, "Conan The Barbarian" #22, "Birds Of Prey" #25, "Dark Horse Presents" #30, "Shadow" #19, "Longshot Saves The Marvel Universe" #2, "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #25, "Star Wars Dawn Of The Jedi Force War" #1, "Avengers A.I." #6, "Jinnrise" #8, "Daredevil" #33, "Bloodshot And H.A.R.D. Corps" #16, "Harley Quinn" #0, "Rachel Rising" #21, "Batwoman" #25, "A+X" #14.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
In what seems like a homeless man's version of "Casanova," "Zero" #3 tries to make a science fiction field of espionage real, with weapons that target DNA, teleportation and a cocktail party, but the whole mess of it rambled like James Joyce in "Ulysses" and the mod attempts at coloring only threw the tediousness of the plot into sharper relief. Sad, because it tried so hard.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Some real surprises in the Honorable Mentions, stuff that could have made it if one or two things went slightly differently. That's a good sign!
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Despite two Buy Pile regulars underperforming, only one bad comic makes it a week that didn't annoy, so we'll call it a win all the way around.
The writer of this column has TWO comic books coming out in the first two months of 2014. On January 15 Watson & Holmes #7 hits the stands. Then, on February 5, "Artifacts" #35 comes to retailers as the final "2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt" winning book. It'd be really nice if you asked your retailer (or any retailer) to keep a copy waiting for you ... even if you wholly hate the writer of this column and want horrible things to happen to him, you can at least speak negatively with the fullness of knowledge.
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!