The Buy Pile: Alien Love & A Call -- For Murder!

Thu, December 19th, 2013 at 10:58am PST

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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 DECEMBER 18, 2013

Saga #17
(Image Comics)
Things get extraordinarily real in this issue as most of the dramatis personae finally collide just after a new "freelancer" is introduced (a term perhaps to be said the same way "bounty hunter" was after 1981). The story sprawls and then contracts into a delightful explosion of action and weapons fire as secrets stay hidden and George R.R. Martin would look on the events here with nodding approval. Another wonderful installment from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

Voice In The Dark #2
(Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Whoa. This issue manages to take a page from Colin Farrell in "Phone Booth" and make a simple act of communication thrilling, as a suicidal teenager calls into our protagonist's radio show with surprising results. The jumps in time could have been jarring with a less certain creative voice, but writer/artist Larime Taylor takes this careful, deliberate issue and drags you to your seat. A riveting surprise.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Go Image, handle business, go Image, make the comics ...

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"East Of West" #8 was a solid if all-too-curt issue showing one of the powers that be exerting power over some of the Fractured States of America. The Orwellian and Lucasian overtones of a crackdown on dissent feel all too easy to believe after students got pepper sprayed at UC Davis (and then the guy got $38k for it), but it didn't feel like this issue had quite enough story, given the abbreviated "prison" sequence. Still fun, just not as good as previous issues. An anomaly.

"Trish Out Of Water" #3 is getting interesting as it expands the world where perfectly honed aquatic humanoids live alongside a suspicious and sometimes violent humanity. Caught in the middle of it is a teenaged girl who serves as the reader's point of view, learning as they do. A little zippier pacing and this issue could have been a contender.

"Secret Avengers" #13 was ambitious but flawed as it tried to use an interrogation as a framing device to draw into focus events on the newly claimed AIM Island (imagine Cobra Island with less ridiculous personalities). The action never seemed to coalesce, the characters seemed to just be hitting their marks without much distinction. Nothing wrong and a plot that has some well conceived ideas, but the execution was lackluster.

"Transformers Robots in Disguise" #24 still had some wobble in its wheels as Shockwave's millions of years of planning have him so many steps ahead that it hard to keep up. A long-believed dead warlord steps through a rip in space and time to reclaim his place ruling Cybertron, there are no fewer than two "holy crap" visual moments and there's a twist of characterization in a dead universe that's fantastic to watch. However, there's at least three separate locations where activity is happening (one got no spotlight this time) and a huge cast of characters to keep up with, and the coloring could make the mechanoids pop a little better from the background, given the busy nature of the work. Not bad, but not balanced enough to get it right here.

"Thunderbolts Annual 2013" #1 had a few good laughs and a new magic-focused division of S.H.I.E.L.D. helmed by the Ginna Torres-esque focus of Pandora Peters. Apparently, Dr. Strange went "off the reservation" and was creating a field of blissfulness around his sanctum sanctorum, leading to gang members building parks and group hugs breaking out spontaneously. When Thunderbolt Ross' team decides to gear up by stealing magical artifacts from lots of interesting people, it leads to a Saint of Killers moment for the Punisher. Very close to the mark, but not really a tale of consequence for plot or character reasons.

Despite the promises of its cover, the titular Dark Lord of the Sith barely even appears in "Star Wars: Darth Vader And The Cry Of Shadows"" #1, which frames the post-prequel era apprentice in the eyes of am abandoned clone trooper who hates Jedi. Slow moving but effective, it's more like the trailer for a story than the story itself.

"Thor God Of Thunder" #16 was a fairly decent fantasy tale as a collective of inhabitants from the nine Norse realms hunted the dark elf sorcerer Malekith, intent on hunting his kin until they stand under his rule, bloodied and savage. A funeral, an argument, an unexpected trip and "introductory stabbing" gave this its entertainment value, but despite Jason Aaron's tight plotting and pitch perfect art from Ron Garney, Emanuela Lupacchino and Ive Svorcina, there are too many characters to be able to really attach, as the cast got a little more ensemble-ish than it needed to be. A promising development.

"Midas Flesh" #1 took an interesting take on the Greek myth, applying a science fiction sheen to it and telling a story in two periods of time. Clever concept, but the characters were lackluster and an unexplained spectacle-wearing science dinosaur seemed a little odd. Not a bad start, but one that needs time to figure itself out, like "Parks & Recreation" did.

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

"Longshot Saves The Marvel Universe" #4, "Kiss Me Satan" #4, "Harley Quinn" #1, "Mind The Gap" #16, "Scarlet Spider" #25, "Witchblade" #171, "Codename Action" #4, "Justice League Of America's Vibe" #10, "Uncanny X-Force" #15, "Imagine Agents" #3, "Transformers Regeneration One" #97, "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #26, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #29, "S.H.O.O.T. First" #3, "Sex" #9, "X-O Manowar" #20, "Forever Evil Rogues Rebellion" #3, "Grimm" #8, "Uncanny Avengers" #15, "Buzzkill" #4, "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up" #8, "Zero" #4, "Trinity Of Sin Pandora" #6, "Ten Grand" #6, "Hawken Melee" #2, "Ghost" #1, "Mark Waid's The Green Hornet" #8, "Birds Of Prey" #26, "Star Trek" #28, "Eternal Warrior" #4, "Wonder Woman" #26, "Never Ending" #2, "Blaze Bothers" #1, "Conan The Barbarian" #23, "Locke And Key Alpha" #2, "All-New X-Men" #20, "Red Sonja" #6, "Hit" #4, "Captain Midnight" #6, "Avengers Assemble" #22.INH, "Secret" #4, "Illegitimates" #1, "Warlord Of Mars" #31, "Daredevil" #34, "Godzilla Rulers Of Earth" #7, "Mass Effect Foundation" #6, "Young Avengers" #14, "Bounce" #8, "Deadpool" #21, "Ghostbusters" #11, "Star Wars Dark Times A Spark Remains" #5, "Batman And Two-Face" #26, "Fantastic Four" #15, "G.I. JOE The Cobra Files" #9, "Revival" #16, "Star Wars Legacy 2" #10, "FF" #15, "Black Science" #2, "Superior Spider-Man" #24, "Bloodshot And H.A.R.D. Corps" #17, "Green Lantern New Guardians" #26, "Indestructible Hulk" #17.INH, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland Through The Looking Glass" #4.

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

Still vague, still poorly depicted, still ill-conceived, still dry and desiccated in terms of plot, still vacuous in terms of character. "Pretty Deadly" #3.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Well, just one bad comic? That's not so bad.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Got a surprising jump here, got only one actual problem comic ... that'd be a week where we all win.

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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