The Buy Pile: Spirits of Vengeance & Administration

Thu, April 10th, 2014 at 10:58am PDT

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 APRIL 9, 2014

Astro City #11
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
Wow. Wow, wow, wow. This issue has everything you wanted in a Dr. Strange comic with him getting Rule 63'ed and barely being on panel. "The Sorcerer's Assistant" is a story so perfectly set in the Astro City universe while clearly wearing its influence on its embroidered sleeve. The Silver Adept is a magician and problem solver for multiple dimensions and worlds and, as such, is freaking busy. That's where Raitha, her trusty assistant comes in -- fielding emails, scheduling appointments, oh, and yes, grappling with threats to the entirety of humanity, just after lunch. This issue is so good, so eminently re-readable, that every panel Brent Anderson did has a new surprise, a new twist to discover. Kurt Busiek was all net with this literally flawless script. There's nothing but wonder and amazement in these pages, and you'd do well to get yourself a copy, stat.

All-New Ghost Rider #2
(Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
The last page of this issue is one of the best heroic origin moments ever. The mixture of the art, the pacing -- it's sublime. It does, however, take a long time getting there, as teenager Robbie Reyes struggles to stay on the side of the angels in a land where planning a rape in broad daylight is seen as acceptable. The kinetic, vibrant artwork of Tradd Moore and Val Staples strains towards cartoony at some points, but when it gets in the zone (the flip, that mind blowing transformation sequence) it's like nothing else. The first issue was good, this is better, and if that trend continues, the next script from Felipe Smith should blow your doors off. Slow week, though, so let's invest in the future.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Not bad, even with a mercy jump.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

Science fiction themed politics built on a well developed foundation of alternative history, all while the literal apocalypse looms. "East of West" #11 is a treasure trove of narrative nimbleness, symbolism woven into words with the deftness Jonathan Hickman has shown in much of his creator-owned work. Beautiful and sweeping, it's more ambiance than plot, though, yet each character moment is rich with gravity despite many not connecting so well. Fascinating stuff, though, and if your finances run rich, worth your time.

"Iron Fist: The Living Weapon" #1 was fast and furious, a splash of exposition and relentless visual destruction. Danny Rand is a rudderless sail adrift in a sea of ancient fist-icism, bored with it all and lost in his father's mad shadow. It's haunting work but like its lead, it lacks an impetus, a reason to continue. Tonally solid, but lacking drive.

"Batgirl" #30 was a superb exercise in craft and storytelling that somehow still felt empty at its core. A "well known urban legend" in the form of a poem and a boogeyman become all too real in the retconned minds of the title character and some teenaged Gothamites. The narration was heavy handed and spoiled some other stories if you haven't seen them, but it was a passable comic that fans of Barbara Gordon will likely adore.

"Captain Marvel" #2 was still good, just not as good as the previous issue. Carol Danvers is on a mission of mercy and just happens to run into some familiar and movie-minded faces. This leads to jokes and quips and threats and it's all very cute, but has none of the derring-do that made the first issue so great. Surely not bad, but an installment you wouldn't miss once you get the next issue's recap page.

A clever idea buried in a flat plot: "Unity" #6 was another solid Valiant book, middling along. If it was a TV show, it'd have great cable ratings. The lead characters are mostly window dressing for exposition and standing around. Nothing wrong, but just a slice above "meh."

There's only one word what happened in "Invincible" #110: "Whoa." That is messed up. That's not right at all. The title character has maybe one of the worst days ever, and it's not even over by the end of the issue, it's just a snippet of his misery. It's not so much a story as a felonious assault. Wow. Not a bad comic book at all, but ... that's a lot to have happened in a short amount of time.

"Avengers A.I." #11 had some great lines (mostly from the very eccentric Doombot) and okay character moments (Pym struggling with his relative relevance, Victor's food fetish) but the central antagonist still feels like a knock-off Ultron, an AI threat that doesn't even have his own look. This has some quality moments but plot wise, needs to focus.

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

"What If Age Of Ultron" #2, "Savage Dragon" #194, "All-New Doop" #1, "Secret Avengers" #2, "Deadpool" #27, "Constantine" #13, "Magnus: Robot Fighter" #2, "Green Lantern Corps" #30, "X" #12, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Ascension" #3, "Superman Wonder Woman" #7, "Lumberjanes" #1, "Worlds' Finest" #22, "All-New Ultimates" #1, "G.I. JOE: Special Missions" #14, "Iron Man" #24, "Lola Xoxo" #1, "Superior Foes Of Spider-Man" #11, "Justice League 3000" #5, "Deceivers" #4, "Star Wars" #16, "All-New X-Factor" #6, "Royals Masters Of War" #3, "Shutter" #1, "Mighty Avengers" #9, "Indestructible" #5, "Daredevil" #1.50, "Bloodshot And H.A.R.D. Corps" #21, "Thunderbolts" #24, "Superboy" #30, "Great Pacific" #14, "Batman Eternal" #1, "Nightcrawler" #1.

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

A mysterious but well known presence got the best line near the end of "All-New X-Men" #25 but the issue itself was a tepid "What If...?" clip show, an excuse for a set of pin-ups and stale gags masquerading as a work of fiction. Troubling in that it had to have been expensive as hell to produce for such forgettable fodder.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

One stinker? That's not so bad.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

With the jump and not much being awful, that means this week's a winner.

THE BUSINESS

Free on the web and cheap on your device, the second chapter of the fantasy novella "Waso: Will to Power" was just released by Stranger Comics, written by the writer of this column. Enjoy.

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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