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. 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 JANUARY 29, 2014
Five Weapons #6
When you get to the abrupt ending, it works as a legitimate cliffhanger and not a frustrating shortage of story. There was nothing held back in a big issue that introduces new characters, balances time with older ones and fleshes out the environments and conflicts that will carry this on from the mini-series roots. Enrique Garcia is back and so is the child he replaced, Tyler Shainline, frustrated by "sins" of a father which haunt the son. So much happens here, but it's all balanced perfectly as writer/artist Jimmie Robinson (with colors from Paul Little) delivers so much value in each and every panel. Worth rereading and fantastically crafted.
The next big struggle for the story-inspired community grows as a new North Wind, one of Snow White's "cubs" by way of the lost Bigby Wolf enjoys the extent of her powers, serving as a framing device for checking in on a multiplicity of locales. Snow's sister Rose Red is trying to recreate Camelot, which may have more baggage than she expects (as noted in the wonderful last line), drawing power in a way that she doesn't even understand. All around the two sisters, other plots tease their presence, but don't dominate the central storyline. More masterful storytelling from a creative team that's been lauded here and by the Eisners many times.
The big confrontation building for months ended up much stranger than one might expect as a major player ended up in more of a support role, a long-avoided conversation ended in stabbing and gunfire, plus there was lots of yelling, a M.A.S.H. unit (no Hawkeye of any kind) and some really nice emotional moments. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples turn in another pleasant experience in a series that has almost never missed even a page going well. Good stuff and very engaging.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Very entertaining start!
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"East Of West" #9 is so close to being a purchase in spite of its plot having next to nothing actually happening. Introducing the crown prince of a refreshingly savvy nation of former freed slaves, the murderous machinations of the last issue bear fruit in aggressive negotiations. Gorgeous art, as always, from Nick Dragotta and Frank Martin, and Jonathan Hickman's trademarked big ideas are on display again in an alternative history take on things, but it is more an interlude than a story, delegating the lost Horseman of the Apocalypse to a supporting role.
Great art and solid character interaction can't save the contrived plot of "Guardians Of The Galaxy" #11.NOW, which is already adding elements of Chris Pratt's humor into Peter Quill's printed manifestation. Not a lot happens as Gladiator makes a relentlessly stupid decision which brings us to the closing panels of a recent issue of "All-New X-Men," as "heroes" cause more problems than they solve. If this didn't look so good, it'd be a "meh."
Ironically, the actual story starts with "Trish Out Of Water" #4, forced to leave behind its teenaged trappings and delve into a plot not too far from that Justin Hartlet Aquaman pilot floating around (no pun intended). The title character learns some about her hidden past, her Scooby Gang back on the surface find an unexpected ally and there's gorgeous artwork, an Aspen Comics staple. However, without the adolescent charm previously seen, the super powered material falls flat because the secret cities of the Blue haven't been established well enough for the reader to get emotionally invested. Shame, because the ebullient lead remains interesting and well crafted.
Steve Rogers piles on the politeness and Medusa brings the pain in "Inhumanity" #2 as world powers start collecting terrigenesis pods with would-be Inhumans inside like they were the latest trading cards. A good looking issue that doesn't do much beyond brushing against Medusa's character.
Thomas Wayne, drug-using sixties weirdo! That's what "Earth 2 Annual" #2 hands you, a secret origin of the latest Bat (it is not Bruce) borrowing some cues from "Arrow" in an issue that's mostly flashback. Not bad for a wiki entry, but unless you're hip deep in loving "Earth 2," it might not entrance you.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Bounce" #9, "Aquaman" #27, "Serenity: Leaves On The Wind" #1, "Batman The Dark Knight" #27, "Black Science" #3, "Damian Son Of Batman" #4, "Uncanny Avengers" #16, "L'il Sonja" #1, "Flash" #27, "X-Men Legacy" #23, "Transformers Regeneration One" #98, "Forever Evil A.R.G.U.S." #4, "All New Fathom" #5, "Green Lantern Corps Annual" #2, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #30, "Green Team Teen Trillionaires" #8, "Witchblade" #172, "Larfleeze" #7, "Shadow Year One" #7, "Red Lanterns" #27, "Thief Of Thieves" #19, "B.A.R. Maid" #2, "Talon" #15, "Star Trek" #29, "Teen Titans" #27, "Super Dinosaur" #21, "Worlds' Finest Annual" #1, "Never Ending" #3, "Avengers Assemble" #23.INH, "Saviors" #2, "Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand" #4, "Other Dead" #5, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Tales From Oz" #1, "Revival" #17, "Warlord Of Mars" #32, "Invincible" #108, "Godzilla Rulers Of Earth" #8, "Dejah Thoris And The Green Men Of Mars" #10, "Uncanny X-Force" #17, "Cyber Force" #8, "Uncanny Avengers" #16, "Ghostbusters" #12, "Thunderbolts" #21, "Clone" #14, "Thor God Of Thunder" #18, "Hit List" #4.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
With the kind of corpse-stacking morality that made "Man of Steel" such a concerning bit of cinema, "Superman" #27 has the title character making some decisions that serve his own interests and endanger innocents. That's not heroism. That's disappointing.
"Furious" #1 was inordinately whiny, overwhelmingly navel gazing and ultimately a messy plot too. Like most "Red Lantern" issues, it was more "Mopey" than actually "furious."
"Superior Spider-Man" #26 was a let down because it got away from what made the book great: Otto Octavius' brain, Peter Parker's body, and doing the job better than ever. Instead, goblins went to war (with stakes no one could care about), Avengers postured (powerlessly, oddly enough) and Jiminy Parker, the ghost in the machine, the annoying gnat flying around in the dark while you try to sleep, whined and spouted sappy platitudes. You'd better come back and be interesting, Peter Parker, to have necessitated all this foolishness.
Like some kind of saccharine after school special, "Justice League Dark" #27 had a conclusion only Hallmark could love. The big "action" pieces didn't work as sequential art and the touchy-feely climax, if you can call it that, was at best fatuous. Tedious work.
Re: "Revolutionary War Knights Of Pendragon" #1. "Zombie King Arthur and his zombie Knights of the zombie Round Table." No. Making everything British doesn't make it a story element. Pete Wisdom's modern British magic is sincerely too stupid to be insulting. Urgh.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Five bad comics is a pretty high number these days, sheesh.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Despite three solid titles leading off the week, things went downhill with a large number of comics that either made the week a chore or just bored with their mediocrity.
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!