The Buy Pile: Super Elephantmen are More Than Meets The Eye

Thu, May 1st, 2014 at 11:28am PDT

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (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 APRIL 30, 2014

Super #4
(Unlikely Heroes Studios)
This is an enormously sweet comic that looks at what happens to extra humans after their day is done, with some hilarious send ups (Uncle Slam! Street Justice! The Crimson Comet! Knight Nurse!). Normally, an all-mayhem issue like this wouldn’t have a lot of room to fit in characterization, but showing a Cobra Commander mixed with a magician in two eras was surprisingly effective, the "man out of his time" bit was played well, and the artwork is simply stellar. Not for kids, but one greatly entertaining comic book from Zachary Dolan, Justin Piatt, Tara Kappel, Laurie Foster and Ludwig Olimba and Evarardo Orozco.

Elephantmen #56
(Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Holy crap. This is a science fiction noir done-in-one that is literally gripping. A transgenic policeman grapples with the horrors of humanity, the depths and depravity that separates "man" from "animal," and this examination is gripping. Written by Mark Schweikert and Richard Starkings with art by Shaky Kane, this is a riveting look at how depraved people can be, like an episode of "SVU" that sticks with you for days afterwards. To say much more would spoil it, but get this issue. It’s great.

Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #28
(IDW Publishing)
Wow. This issue is so good, everybody. Casting aside the failed ambitions and overwritten challenges the big crossover hurled at the wall, this issue balances the "six months later" timeline with hints of a huge event: the trial of Megatron. The fact that, six months later, the hugely dangerous mechanoid is clearly the captain of the ship The Lost Light and hotheaded Rodimus is not leaves tantalizing questions and hints of answers. James Roberts' script is thoughtful or explosive where it needs to be, and makes a setting like a shark dropped in to a tank of tasty tuna, suddenly in charge of their school. This remains some of the best science fiction being published -- unabashedly character driven, deftly plotted, immaculately illustrated. In a word: wow.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Hell of a start, nicely done.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

Weird, sticky, funny and brash, "Chew" #41 showed protagonist Tony Chu on an upswing in his often challenged life, with love and professional acclaim available to him without much effort. The deluge of wild, imaginative ideas is down to a simple stream here and the plot is a touch facile. Still entertaining, but not overwhelmingly so.

"Southern Bastards" #1 is so very close to the mark that it almost hurts to leave it on the shelf. A truly literary work that serves as a love letter to the wonder and horror that is the American south, a region literally built on blood, this terse issue showcases small town Americana in a light that Fox News may not like but surely is very close to the truth. Walking the line between love and hate and fear and longing, Jason Aaron and Jason Latour will be seen at Eisners time if this keeps up, but for a single issue, it just doesn't have enough story, though seeped in atmosphere and ambiance like sweet tea on a sticky Sunday afternoon.

"Silver Surfer" #2 is very cute in a modern Doctor Who fashion, featuring impossible circumstances and insane ideas with a touch of whimsy as only the art of Mike Allred could deliver. Fun and precious, but a tad too pricy for the sliver of plot available here.

"Batgirl Annual" #2 was an emotional, smartly told story of friendship gone wrong, using a seasonal metaphor as a framework for the story. However, it had a deathly dull and largely anonymous antagonist and every time it got away from the fractured friendship, it went awry in bad detective work and rote superheroics. Get you in the feels, maybe, but not in the mind.

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

"Flash Annual" #3, "Avengers" #28, "Atomic Robo And The Knights Of The Golden Circle" #1, "Serenity Leaves On The Wind" #4, "Hulk" #2, "Tales Of Honor" #2, "Battlestar Galactica Six" #1, "Avengers World" #5, "Forever Evil Aftermath Batman Vs Bane" #1, "X-Force" #4, "Ten Grand" #9, "Captain Midnight" #10, "Origin 2" #5, "G.I. JOE" #15, "Vandroid" #3, "Amazing Spider-Man" #1, "Green Lantern New Guardians Annual" #2, "Wolverine" #5, "Umbral" #6, "Loki Ragnarok And Roll" #3, "Avengers A.I." #12, "Batwoman Annual" #1, "Blackout" #2, "He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe" #12, "Rachel Rising" #25, "Black Science" #6, "Furious" #4, "New Avengers" #17, "Dream Police" #1, "Star Wars Rebel Heist" #1, "Egos" #4, "What If Age Of Ultron" #5, "Batman Eternal" #4, "All-New X-Men" #26, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland Asylum" #4.

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

To see the Lorne Greene figure as whiny and inconclusive in "Battlestar Galactica" #10 was less than enjoyable, as the last survivors of a 1970s apocalypse struggled to repair an engine and ran plans to re-allocate bunk space. Yawn city, embarrassing and slow to boot.

"Uber" #12 was a disappointment, even in a retrograde alternate history story about super Nazis. It ended without a point, it plodded along, it prevaricated instead of forging ahead ... what happened here?

In "Uncanny Avengers Annual" #1, a shirtless Alex Simmons is lifted up by a bikini clad Rogue. He doesn’t pass out. Oookay. Then Mojo is apparently manipulating some of Earth’s most powerful and telegenic magicians to battle the mutant/human super team. Then it gets weird. Thor says "bro" without a hint of irony. It’s a messy comic that drives all over the road like a holodeck episode gone awry. A low "meh" drifting into tedium.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

It did get a little rough out there ...

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Let's call it a wash thanks to that chattiness about super Nazis, Emo Lorne Green and mutants on TV.

THE BUSINESS

Check out the writer of this column on the Comics on Comics podcast tomorrow and at running three panels at Cal State Los Angeles' Eagle-Con 2014 next Thursday and Friday.

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!

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