The Buy Pile: Back Issue Backwash on "Meh" Island

Thu, March 20th, 2014 at 11:28am PDT

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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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 MARCH 19, 2014

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There wasn't anything really worth grabbing that came out this week, which made it a great time to go back and buy digital favorites like Geoffrey Thorne's "Knight Rider" or last week's "Black Widow."

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Welp ... that's not a good start ...

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"The Witcher: House of Glass" #1 was a surprisingly effective fantasy tale of two tired men drinking and killing to stay alive in a harsh medieval setting. Unusual monsters, specific strains of vampirism, magic and swords. Sure, the characters could be less stereotypical, but the atmosphere and pacing of the issue were spot on. Interesting and worth checking back.

In "Daredevil" #1, Mark Waid crafted a thrilling new chapter for old horn head, trying to make it work in San Francisco with a new partner, a new city and a new police force to work with. Solid procedural despite having a straw man antagonist and a child used as a prop, not a character. If this was what Netflix used as source material, you'd be binge watching your butt off.

"Voice In The Dark" #5 was moody and atmospheric, the second reel of a psychological thriller like "Pacific Heights." The protagonist's voiceover is similar in theme to "Dexter," but the diminished body count saps the tension's effectiveness. Not bad, but this really is a novel's chapter, not a single issue's story.

David Liss made the script for "Spider" #18 pretty funny -- to quote the great moments would be a spoiler, but look for "Huh" and you'll see two of them. This issue is a game changer, flipping the status quo table over for the mystery man, but his supporting cast of cliches and antagonists direct from Central Casting cut the momentum of the Spider's enjoyably effective tactics. Refreshing superhero action.

"Iron Man" #23.NOW had some interesting ideas with Tony Stark resisting the spread of Mandarin technology to the dark elves of Svartalfheim while avoiding the politics of Asgard along the way. Man of science thrown into the deep end of magic? That'd be fascinating if tedious subplots -- Arno Stark and the reporter-turned super villain & back to reporting, for example -- didn't drag down the narrative.

"Superman Unchained" #6 proposes a true nightmare scenario -- more nukes in the air than any dozen heroes could handle, let alone the Man of Steel. A humans-first terrorist organization with dull fashion sense has the key, some bootleg version of Kryptonian crystal computing, and the US' pet Superman knockoff is just following orders. There are some fantastic character moments (including Lois in the fortress and Batman whistling gleefully, which is a hoot) but the serviceable plot seems a little predictable and derivative.

"Fuse" #2 is a "Law & Order" styled procedural with science fiction trappings, less spectacular than "Almost Human" and about as grim as "Fell." This issue turns political while the odd couple detectives continue to track down leads on the murder of people society abandoned. Not bad, likely a delight collected, but not quite engaging enough for the cost.

"Transformers Robots In Disguise" #27 had a number of good character moments -- a late exchange between struggling leader Bumblebee and reticent tyrant Megatron, a cute exchange between the stiff Ultra Magnus and newcomer Windblade, even a continuation of Starscream's Macbeth-styled introspection. However, the plot is a little herky-jerky and due to the scale and volume of things happening, the solid art is too crowded, too jumbled for clear legibility. Read through a few times and you might get it, but this is a stumble very close to the finish line of the crossover.

The only bad part about "Aphrodite IX" #9 is how little she knows about what's going on. When centuries-old plans schemes come to light, offering fun Easter eggs for longtime fans, it coincides with large scale movements of populations and the anticipation of momentous events. Interesting developments as this title is still finding its footing.

"Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10" #1 is a feel good reunion tour for the Whedonite faithful, bringing all but one of the series' favorites back together to ... well, do the same thing they've done for ten "seasons." If you like the property, this is more of what you like, even if it feels a little familiar.

"American Vampire Second Cycle" #1 is a richly crafted horror tale based in fixing the fatal flaw of the undead and toothy, layering on a healthy bit of "Sons of Anarchy" flavored Americana in the process. If you like vampires and the grit of the open road, this will likely be right up your haunted alley.

"Thor: God Of Thunder" #20 has a number of interesting little ideas -- Thor smitten with an environmentally conscious spy, a future Galactus fighting a future Thor over whether a ruined Earth lives or dies, and a corporate raider with a big secret. Those ideas don't exactly go together as a story, but they're interesting, nonetheless.

"Sex Criminals" #5 was a bit of exposition in a sea of whimsy and fun, explaining some things while leaving other things frustratingly unsaid. Best of all, the attention turned back to the charming and engaging female lead, who outwitted people who should have known better while explaining it all like Clarissa. Not bad, but this felt a little slow, plot wise.

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

"Avengers World" #4, "Shadowman" #16, "Ghosted" #8, "X-Men" #12, "Batman And Aquaman" #29, "Superior Foes Of Spider-Man" #10, "X-O Manowar" #23, "Revolutionary War: Warheads" #1, "Supergirl" #29, "G.I. JOE" #14, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Robyn Hood Legend" #1, "Sovereign" #1, "Legenderry A Steampunk Adventure" #3, "Ms. Marvel" #2, "Harley Quinn" #4, "Lazarus" #7, "All-New Invaders" #3, "Star Wars Darth Vader And The Cry Of Shadows" #4, "Batwoman" #29, "Clockwork Angels" #1, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Utrom Empire" #3, "Nova" #15, "Ten Grand" #8, "Thunderbolts" #23, "Shadow" #23, "Star Wars Dawn Of The Jedi Force War" #5, "Trinity Of Sin: Pandora" #9, "Maxx Maxximized" #5, "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #29, "Superior Spider-Man Annual" #2, "Ghost Cop" #3, "Loki: Ragnarok And Roll" #2, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland" #21, "Prophet" #43, "Terminator Enemy Of My Enemy" #2, "Zero" #6, "Sixth Gun" #39, "God Is Dead" #9, "Marvel Knights: Hulk" #4, "Transformers Regeneration One" #100, "Wonder Woman" #29, "Uncanny X-Men" #19.NOW, "Grimm" #11, "Birds of Prey" #29, "EPIC: The Alpha Strand" #1, "Suicide Squad" #29, "Gravel: Combat Magician" #2, "Skyman" #3, "Magic The Gathering: Theros" #5, "Battlestar Galactica" #9, "White Suits" #2, "Undertow" #2, "Wolverine And The X-Men" #2, "Bad Ass" #3, "Illegitimates" #4, "Five Ghosts" #10, "Harbinger: Bleeding Monk" #0.2014, "Animal Man" #29, "New Avengers" #15, "Green Lantern New Guardians" #29, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland Asylum" #3.

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

Nothing bad, either? Hh. Okay.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Nothing to be upset about is a good thing, at least.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

A literal mountain of "meh" dominates the week's comics, but at least it was inexpensive. Let's call that a wash.

THE BUSINESS

We're being told that within 24 hours, the new fantasy novella from Stranger Comics written by this column's writer will be priced down to "free." It's at ninety-nine cents now, but that's a temporary situation.

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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