The Buy Pile: Sith Battles, Political Intrigue & Intelligent Bloodshed

Thu, May 22nd, 2014 at 10:28am PDT

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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 21, 2014

Saga #19
(Image Comics)
This issue was a little light on story -- losing steam, a touch -- but had all the characterization and atmosphere one could ever want, further developing the backdrop of an interstellar war with an impossible romance at the foreground. This issue is a vignette, not so much a story, as not much happens but it's very engaging. There are elements that affect the larger story, but don't look for freelancers or the Lying Cat or any of the other truly zany ideas here. The last page is a heartbreaker, though, so stay tuned for that. It'll likely pick up next month, right?

East Of West #12
(Image Comics)
The fomenting of chaos as theatre and politics, this issue rewards the devoted and leaves the casual reader or neophyte holding the bag a bit. There are seven nations, and they all have an uneasy agreement to play nice that was thrown into a tizzy when Death, as in the "of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse" fame, went off on his own to find his child after breaking the rules and falling in love. That's just the backdrop, so hang tight. Once all seven countries meet, one (based on China, ruled and peopled by fanatics) believes a second (a westernized power run by a shrewish dictator preaching security and delivering fascism) has acted against her interests and declares war. This idea is almost shut down in debate until a surprising element pops up that changes the game. If you have been reading along and remember all the methodical development done on each nation's leaders, this is intriguing. If not, it might seem like talking heads, despite the poetry of Jonathan Hickman's immeasurable verbal talent. As a regular here in this column, it stands an entertaining purchase that got grandfathered in.

Star Wars: Darth Maul, Son Of Dathomir #1
(Dark Horse Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
How to make a successful "Star Wars" comic. Step one: take characters fans like (Maul, Dooku, Grevious, Sidious, the Mandalorian fanatics). Step two: Use those characters in interesting settings, new and old (the Shadow Collective's base on the swamp moon Zanbar, a secret prison on Stygeon). Step three: stay true to who they are and when they are (this issue takes place right after the epic saber battle between Sidious and Maul from "Clone Wars"). Step four: kick butt. Sure, the combat scenes by Juan Frigeri, Mauro Vargas and Wes Dzioba could have been a little more dynamic, but everything else they did was perfect, and Jeremy Barlow's script was spot on, delivering a plot that fits with canon while offering exciting new storytelling in an area fans clamor for answers. In a word, "Yes."

Voice In The Dark #7
(Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Larime Taylor's serial killer diary hits all the right notes this month, developing character with a moment of introspection, delivering on eye-popping action and suspending disbelief with credible, reasoned reasons for everything. The plucky coed cutter gets a fun, fun surprise on the last page, and fans of the early seasons of "Dexter" (the good ones) will surely enjoy this twisted, matter-of-fact tale of murder by numbers, drawn and written by one very talented creator.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Even with "Saga" missing a step, it's still one hell of a week with two jumps, so that's all good.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Flash Gordon" #2 is dipped in nostalgia and the swashbuckling of old as the impetuous titular lead can't keep his cool in the face of things that are -- according to his provincial system of values -- wrong. This leads to adventures and shenanigans and what have you that are just shy of being goofy. If your entertainment values are pretty old school, this will light you up like a Christmas tree with a Red Ryder under it.

"Transformers Windblade" #2 was a step up from its solid predecessor, involving intrigues and mystery that endangers thousands of lives. The introspective protagonist seems sincere, her sidekick steadfast and the cartoonish art gets the point across. However, the plot hinges on an intuitive leap from a frazzled veteran not known for his cognitive abilities even at his height, "long story" was used too often as shorthand and the antagonist's motivations seem hollow. For people who don't know the characters, too much is left unsaid, and for fans that are well versed, things don't ring true. Not bad, but needs some direction.

Well. One certainly can't say nothing happened in "Invincible" #111, an issue that's been a long time coming, set up with seeds months and years prior. If you were applying memes to this issue, they'd be easy to find. A betrayal comes to light, blood is shed in a VERY messy way and a chess master, in the words of the inhabitants of Tirol, sets aside all sham and pretense to anoint himself master. This issue was very close to making it home, and with a little more development for the characters, it would have done it.

"Forever Evil" #7 was actually less terrible than previous incarnations, as it made Alexander Luthor somebody to really pay attention to (part Sylar, part Billy Batson, all power and fury) while delivering a fight scene that pushed some character points too (especially for the "evil" Lois Lane, who may be the most dangerous of all of her contemporaries and Lex, oh, Lex Luthor stood up in a huge way). The bit with Firestorm was a little too facile, Cyborg's big moment happened off screen but finally the CSA got their time to shine instead of the tedious plenipotentiaries they employed previously. Not great, but not bad.

"V-Wars" #2 was very interesting. Writer Jonathan Maberry has depicted a complex world much like our own in which one difference -- a DNA contaminant unleashed by melting polar ice -- creates a vampiric strain in society. Using similar grounding as "True Blood," this is a more political take that shows real craft in the writing (a diptytch scene is pitch perfect) and some solid art as well. If the characterization matched the plotting, this would be nearly irresistible.

"Amazing Spider-Man" #2 is, at least, funny as Peter Parker tries to figure out what several months of Doctor Octopus running his body did to his life. However, he is still Peter Parker, which means despite being really smart, he's really stupid. A visit with the Avengers, a conclusion-free fight with Electro (just in time to coincide with the movie) and lots of energetic art from Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado, it looks like they're trying to Damian Wayne this and put the Ock behind them. Dan Slott's script is cute, but it doesn't scream "you must own this issue."

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

"Ultimate FF" #2, "Danger Girl May Day" #2, "Deadpool Annual" #2, "Harley Quinn" #6, "Wolverine and the X-Men" #4, "Mind The Gap" #17, "Batman And Frankenstein" #31, "Powers Bureau" #10, "Brain Boy The Men From G.E.S.T.A.L.T." #1, "Trinity Of Sin Pandora" #11, "Rocket Girl" #5, "Indestructible" #6, "Batwoman" #31, "Last Broadcast" #1, "Star Mage" #2, "Daredevil" #3, "Undertow" #4, "Amazing X-Men" #7, "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #31, "Elektra" #2, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10" #3, "Original Sin" #2, "Justice League" #30, "Prophet" #44, "Justice League Of America" #14, "X-Men" #14, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Warlord Of Oz" #1, "Mark Waid's The Green Hornet" #12, "Batman Superman" #11, "Skyward" #7, "Avengers World" #6, "Velvet" #5, "Thor God Of Thunder" #22, "Wonder Woman" #31, "Six Million Dollar Man Season 6" #3, "Magneto" #4, "Birds Of Prey" #31, "All-New X-Factor" #8, "Lola XOXO" #2, "Uncanny X-Men" #21, "Battlestar Galactica" #11, "Sinestro" #2, "MPH" #1, "Translucid" #2, "New 52 Future's End" #3, "Magnus Robot Fighter" #3, "7th Sword" #2, "Solar Man Of The Atom" #2, "Nova" #17, "Batman Eternal" #7, "Artifacts" #37, "Bunker" #4, "Green Lantern New Guardians" #31, "All-New Doop" #2, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Godstorm Hercules Payne #2.

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

In the middle of a story, while most of the cast does their best Luke Walton impersonation, after a tedious flashback, "Supergirl" #31 says, "and find out what happens in some other insipid freaking comic book!" Terrible structure, terrible storytelling, terrible plotting. Bah.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Hard to beat three making it on merit, which cancels out Kara's poor structure.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Three jumps wins the week all on its own. Hoo hah!

THE BUSINESS

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. There's also a bunch of great stuff available from this writer on Amazon. 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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