The Buy Pile: Not Quite a Bullseye

Thu, April 17th, 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 APRIL 16, 2014

Five Weapons #8
(Image Comics)
In an oddity, this issue is not completely, jaw-droppingly awesome. It's just really good, which is still head and shoulders over the mountain of "meh" we normally see. Enrique Garcia has gotten a long way by being smarter and better prepared than everyone around him. Here, he's caught flat footed as everyone in his school of assassins with every weapon (both physical and ideological) aimed at him. Still, the cleverness and characterization are spot on even if the pacing of this issue is off by perhaps a quarter step. You still get a lot going on, with the revelation of the instructor Featherwind's history and details on a mystery or two, and as always the visuals from writer/artist Jimmie Robinson has enormous charm and craft. This is still wonderful comics, just not, "Holy crap, how did he do that?" comics.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Solid start.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Transformers Windblade" #1 is a solid if slow moving tale of the new post-war order on Cybertron, where Starscream has again come out on top and, despite the team up of two ridiculously powerful sworn enemies, stands unchallenged. The city he rules is the ruins of the titan Metroplex, a robot the size of a municipality whose fractured, massive thoughts can only be understood by three "female" Autobots who sprang from a different evolutionary path. New to Cybertron and the old wars and grudges, they're learning on the fly how dangerous the planet can be. Great character stuff from Ironhide and Starscream, odd other-continuity gags thrown in that worked (including the always odd Sky-Byte) but the pace is too slow by a half step and the coloring makes everything foreground. If you remember "Robotech" after Dolza's barrage, this feels similar. Interesting to see which way it goes.

"Voice In The Dark" #6 steps it up a notch with an issue that both does some things right (portraying the intense focus of a serial killer) and wrong (essentially having a light skinned Black person in what amounts to Blackface, like Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone). The pacing was better, a mysterious new killer is kind of introduced a la a season of "Dexter" and the art as always is top notch. Much closer to the mark and an improvement in delivering enough happening per issue.

An anti-climactic whimper ended the series with "Superior Spider-Man" #31, which saw the return of a fan favorite who could be recognized even by people who'd known, loved or loathed Otto simply with a quip. Miguel O'Hara sized up the average reader's response best: "Yeah, that sounds just stupid enough to be right." We all knew the needs of licensees would trump even spider-bots and apps and love of little persons. This ending is less noxious than, say, "One More Day" or even the reviled "Clone Saga," but even with some rock solid moments from the comeback kid, this isn't a comic to reach for again and again as entertainment, just a necessary step to put the toys back in the toybox the way you expect them to be.

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

"X-Men" #13, "Batman" #30, "Hulk" #1, "Mercenary Sea" #3, "Ultimate FF" #1, "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #30, "Wolverine And The X-Men" #3, "Star Wars" #7, "Winter Soldier The Bitter March" #3, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Inferno Age Of Darkness," "Trinity Of Sin Pandora" #10, "Uncanny X-Men" #20, "Witchblade" #174, "Batwoman" #30, "X-Force" #3, "Translucid" #1, "Star Wars Darth Vader And The Cry Of Shadows" #5, "Supergirl" #30, "Thor God Of Thunder" #21, "X-O Manowar" #24, "Ms. Marvel" #3, "Batman Eternal" #2, "What If Age Of Ultron" #3, "Ghost" #3, "Birds Of Prey" #30, "Minimum Wage" #4, "Harley Quinn" #5, "Crow Pestilence" #2, "Skyman" #4, "Star Mage" #1, "White Suits" #3, "X-Files Annual 2014," "Sinestro" #1, "Wolverine" #4, "Morning Glories" #38, "Wonder Woman" #3, "Nova" #16, "God Is Dead" #11, "Justice League" #29, "Amazing X-Men" #6, "Grimm Fairy Tales Godstorm Presents Hercules Payne" #1.

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

Despite being sad that Otto's gone, nothing was really actually all the way to being bad.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Mostly "meh," but it easily could have been worse.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

An inexpensive week that didn't really distinguish itself, but didn't go too far off the rails either.

THE BUSINESS

Going to WonderCon? The writer of this column will be a panelist at 6:30 PM on Friday in room 208. He'll also be covering the 'con for CBR, so if he's typing into a MacBook Pro, please wait until the lid closes, but otherwise feel free to say "Hey."

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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