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 MAY 14, 2014
Quantum And Woody #10
Jump from the Read Pile.
In a very entertaining issue that cleverly drops references ("Coffee is for closers"), stays close to current Valiant continuity (another title is name dropped) and generally remains amusing, the Henderson brothers find themselves on opposite sides of a heist thanks to Eric's sketchy cousin Jacklean, a lifelong criminal and promiscuous figure in Woody's past. This leads to an interesting interplay with Woody's girlfriend, some nice action sequences, a hilarious plot twist and a big mess. The off-panel climax is perhaps the issues sole deficit, and the creative team of James Asmus and Kano are to be lauded.
With great shock, it must be said that this issue is "meh." There are some cute moments with Puss in Boots and a decently clever plan to trick a witch that barely gets characterized at all, but the art was a step down without Buckingham on board, the characters all seemed pretty interchangeable and the action was unrewarding. After 139 solid issues, this is the first issue to fall below "good" and into purely "mediocre," and that's both sad and a testament to the skill and stamina of the creatives involved.
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #29
For the initiated, people who have seen red badges battling blue since Ronald Reagan's first administration, this issue is one of the best ever in a series that will not relent in its excellence. The interplay of personalities -- Ultra Magnus openly agreeing with Megatron, Starscream's effective in-court oratory -- is a treasure trove of Easter eggs for Transformers fans. However, if the reader is merely a fan of science fiction, simply joining the haphazard crew of the Lost Light on their quest for long lost progenitors, this issue is still amazing in its means for presenting intoxicant abuse amongst robotic beings, presenting the calm certainty of a captain openly hated by his crew, addressing locked door mysteries and a "data ghost" with humor that doesn't deprecate. Writer James Roberts is, not to put too fine a point on it, a genius and each issue builds the lore and legacy of the Cybertronian people in a way that has never been done before. Just plain "wow."
All-New Ghost Rider #3
Jump from the Read Pile. In another fantastic installment, this issue perfectly balances a wide variety of scenes and settings while building Robbie Reyes into a new Spirit of Vengeance. The new spirit behind the Rider, Eli, does a kind of Tired Of Running speech that's effective, there are a number of great setting-building scenes (at the pawn shop, at the school) and more. Writer Felipe Smith is really finding his footing in this title, and the artwork of Tradd Moore and Val Staples is vibrant and energetic, really conveying the motion and urgency of the work. Good stuff.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Three jumps beats a regular that takes a misstep.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Captain Marvel" #3 showed the swashbuckling heroine how complex politics and diplomacy can be when she tries to get between a recalcitrant refugee culture and the Spartax (a powerful, galaxy spanning empire). Her action chops are smart and effective, rendered lovingly in an entertaining fashion, but the issue failed to satisfy with an ending that felt like "Superman: Peace on Earth." A decent issue that just missed at the end.
"Think Tank: Fun With PTSD" #1 was a valiant and important message about the challenges faced by combat veterans who try to come home. It was filled with credible science and big ideas. Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a story, kind of padding in place, but it had its heart in the right spot.
"Deadpool #28" had some elements that were funny ("On behalf of the Japanese people ...") and some that were entertaining ("... this island is rather growing on me") but its Macguffin-chasing plot was nothing special. More interesting plotting and fewer stereotypical cliches could have brought this one home.
If "Star Trek: New Visions" #1 were priced like a regular book and not eight dollars, it would have made it home. John Byrne took photos from the original series and manipulated them into an all new story which was as good as any original series episode. Positing fan favorites from the Mirror Universe into the normal continuity, the tale had thrills and humor and action. Just not eight dollars worth.
"Iron Man" #25 started out really well, getting into the zone with a pitched battle between modern technology and an empire of magical elves with swords, but it devolved into the simple back and forth, the same that you've seen before, abandoning cleverness for coincidence. Oh well.
"United States Of Murder Inc" #1 cuts itself short just when it was beginning to become a story. Moody and dour, the story puts a young man in an impossible position, all set in an alternate "today" where the mafia runs the east coast. The storytelling is shorthanded by common knowledge, which is a bit of deficit, but it's not bad.
Wow. "Tales From The Con Year One" brushes against the kind of fanboy bashing that is so popular these days while still having a genuine love for the fans and the properties that draw us all together (there are two great Boba Fett visual gags and a loom at the cycle of creatives that's almost scary). There's no story, there's no through line, just a series of vignettes that any convention fan will find familiar.
"Secret Avengers" #3 was very cute as Spider Woman channeled the spirit of Zooey Deschanel to try and save the entirety of spacetime. There was a weird video game-esque moment where Black Widow acted the way people must suspect Melinda May does and a lot of insults leveled at Hawkeye (who's seen as a schmuck here, not the hyper-competent Jeremy Renner), but it wasn't much of a story, per se.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Superman Doomed" #1, "All-New X-Men" #27, "Shutter" #2, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Dark One," "Avengers Undercover" #4, "Superman Wonder Woman" #8, "Nightcrawler" #2, "Gravel Combat Magician" #4, "Royals Masters Of War" #4, "X-Force" #5, "Green Lantern Corps" #31, "Bounce" #12, "Action Comics" #31, "Starlight" #3, "Deceivers" #5, "Bloodshot And H.A.R.D. Corps" #22, "Stray Bullets Killers" #3, "Wolverine" #6, "Minimum Wage" #5, "Superboy" #31, "Terminator Enemy Of My Enemy" #3, "Worlds' Finest" #23, "Lumberjanes" #2, "Field" #2, "Batgirl" #31, "X" #13, "Field" #2, "Justice League United" #1, "Jack Kraken," "Minimum Wage" #5, "Batman Eternal" #6, "G.I. JOE A Real American Hero" #202, "Avengers" #29, "Bounce" #12, "Auteur" #3, "Fantastic Four" #4, "Shutter" #2, "New Avengers" #18, "Constantine" #14, "All-New Ultimates" #2, "Grimm Fairy Tales Annual" 2014.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
There is one amazing, hilariously big idea in "Captain America" #20 so hilarious that you'll wonder why it's never happened before (unless it has). Aside from that, the enormously emo monologues of Steve Rogers, combined with a tedious holodeck episode, added to a plot that borrows heavily from Cap's latest movie (in a bad way) and an antagonist so unidimensional Flatman would tsk him ... shame, because that last few pages are so freaking awesome that Emil Lang would applaud them.
"New 52 Futures End" #2 was embarrassing. Firestorm followed up his dubious "heroism" by having Ronnie Raymond make a scene at Oliver Queen's funeral. It also showcased a Mister Terrific, who can suddenly be seen by cameras (it was New 52 canon as of 2009 that he cannot be detected by electronic devices) and somehow turned him into an egotistical mash up of Kanye and Puffy. Also, some random flying new Black hero with U.S. flag looks like he is auditioning for "One Nation" or something. So aside from heroes acting in a manner that's far from heroic, your emotional center hinging on the friendship of Buddy Baker with Ollie (what the ... where's Hal? COME ON!) and T-Riffic, this issue was a mess from start to finish.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Two terrible comics and a lot of comics that tried hard. That's not so bad.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Like a poker hand, three jumps beats two stinky comics, so we'll say the week wins, even if by a narrow margin.
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!