The Buy Pile: Gods and Monsters, Stories and Sex

Thu, June 19th, 2014 at 10:28am 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 JUNE 18, 2014

Wicked + The Divine #1
(Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
All in. First of all, you can't discount the dazzling talent of Mr. Jamie McKelvie, who could draw a waiting line at an unemployment office and imbue it with vitality and character and fascination. Let's get that out of the way. When you add the almost shamanic ability of Mr. Kieron Gillen to coax the fantastic from the mundane, you get a mix of "Scanners" and "American Gods" and "Almost Famous" and a procedural and just the best feeling possible. Four ancient spiritual powers -- Ameratsu (Japanese sun goddess), Lucifer (here, "Luci," the Morningstar and adversary of Judaeo-Christian belief), Sakhmet (as valid a spelling as any for the lion-headed ancient Egyptian or Kemetic goddess of rage and fire and murder and vengeance, in that they didn't use vowels) all possessing the bodies of teenagers and slated to burn them out within two years, happening over and over again, every ninety years. The premise alone is engaging, but the perfectly managed exposition, the lampshade hanging and Brit-pop counter point ... brilliant. More "Phonogram" than "Young Avengers" in the best possible way, this is the comic equivalent of, "Ooh, that's my song!" Highly recommended.

Star Wars: Darth Maul Son Of Dathomir #2
(Dark Horse Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
As a Sith, Darth Maul was overmatched by people with greater power or greater strategic ability, leading to him being a castaway pawn in the movies. "The Clone Wars" resurrected him as a criminal kingpin, a shark amidst piranha, and he began to shine. Now, he's again cast in the role of servant, a proxy for the de facto ruler of his lost home world Dathomir, and he still gets to keep his criminal empire. His tactical skill with forces is as quick and lethal as his abilities with a lightsaber as characters familiar to fans (Count Dooku and General Grevious) think they're hemming in the red hued former Sith apprentice when really he's gotten some assistance in strategy and has them where he wants them. Another crafty, engaging script from Jeremy Barlow with effective, clean artwork by Juan Frigeri, Mauro Vargas and Wes Dzioba (the telekinesis scene with Dooku was particularly effective). Nice work!

Fables #141
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
This issue is a warning. While there were some interesting character points, this issue didn't have a cohesive enough plot to really be considered whole. Given that every single issue of this series has been a purchase, this issue being one of a disturbing trend of "close, but not close enough" issues makes one wonder if the thrill is gone after all these years. A huge Boxer Rebellion was brought up and dismissed too quickly, two meetings ended inconclusively ... this is a good comic, like "Transformers: Robots In Disguise" after that brief bit of Starscream ascension or most issues of "Think Tank," but not all the way to being "great." Let's see how this goes.

Sex Criminals #6
(Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. What feels like a denouement changes the entire game as two sides of the plot develop concurrently and fascinatingly. On one side, the threat of being attacked by the "Sex Police" has turned the intense relationship between the two leads into a dull, gray thing of tedium, which is somehow described in a fascinating set of asides and narrative. On the other side, the secret of the Sex Police is revealed and it is a fascinating ratcheting up of the stakes, inspiring a really powerful response in the male lead. Flawless art by Chip Zdarsky and Becka Kinzie, a script from Matt Fraction that draws you in and won't let go -- welcome back, this is what we were missing.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Three jumps make things good no matter what else happened.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Aphrodite IX" #11 was so very extremely close that it will, instead, warrant the purchase of the collected edition. Literally years of seemingly unrelated storytelling came together in an elegant package as the long con gets played out with biblical ruthlessness. The war between the genetically modified zealots of Genesis City and the cyborg kind of Spheros City in a far-flung dystopia comes to a head, and it is a big, beautiful plan of orbital bombardment and slaughter in the streets. The execution lacked only the niceties -- reminders for the uninitiated of who and what everything was, from dragons to centuries old antagonists. This will be such a sweet conclusion, read all as one piece.

"Silver Surfer" #3 had a very endearing ending and some great banter between the titular character and hotel co-manager Dawn Greenwood, a plucky, cheerier, adult updating of Cammi but its intentionally impossible plot is facile and almost unimportant to establishing a Rose and the Tenth Doctor dynamic. Cuter in moments than the sum of its whole.

"Witchfinder: The Mysteries Of Unland" #1 was a right and proper Victorian age supernatural mystery, with constables and murder and talking monsters from parts unknown. An investigator of the occult is brought into a peaceful town to look into the death of a servant of the Crown and he finds all kinds of shenanigans going on. If one likes period pieces or "Kolchak" or even the "X-Files" this might fly your kite.

“Star Trek Harlan Ellison's The City On The Edge Of Forever The Original Teleplay” #1 feels like the first ten minutes of an episode, with an interesting antagonist introduced and an impossible scenario posited. Then, just when it starts to get interesting, whop, end of the book. This should have been done as one uninterrupted trade paperback, as the monthly format will not serve the narrative as individual installments.

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

"Fatale" #23, "Lone Ranger" #25, "X-Men" #15, "Manhattan Projects" #21, "V-Wars" #3, "Minimum Wage" #6, "Last Broadcast" #2, "MPH" #2, "Winterworld" #1, "Savage Dragon" #195, "Magnus Robot Fighter" #4, "Original Sin" #4, "Harbinger" #24, "Nova" #18, "Alex + Ada" #7, "Iron Man" #28, "Unity" #8, "Elektra" #3, "Witcher" #4, "Daredevil" #4, "Red Sonja" #10, "Avengers World" #8, "Loki Ragnarok And Roll" #4, "Avengers" #31, "Wonder Woman" #32, "Red Sonja Sanctuary," "Trinity Of Sin Pandora" #12, "Eye Of Newt" #1, "Supergirl" #32, "Kill Shakespeare The Mask Of Night" #1, "Wolverine And The X-Men" #5, "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #32, "Uncanny X-Men" #22, "Thomas Alsop" #1, "New 52 Futures End" #7, "My Little Pony Friends Forever" #6, "Ultimate FF" #3, "Harley Quinn" #7, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10" #4, "Translucid" #3, "Batwoman" #32, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtles In Time" #1, "Thunderbolts" #27, "Brain Boy The Men From G.E.S.T.A.L.T." #2, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #35, "Batman Eternal" #11, "Thor God Of Thunder" #23.

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

"Drumhellar" #6 was like an incomprehensible night with an Alan Moore impersonator. An attempt at tying sex and magic and blood in a form of scrying, it's less a story and more a bad LSD trip. Let's keep moving.

"Batman And Ra's Al Ghul" #32 was a normal back and forth between the detective and the Demon's Head with the punching and the yelling and the "stay back, this is personal" and what not. Then something wholly weird and frankly out of place happened and ... well, it was already on the low side of "meh," and that threw it under the bus.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Not too shabby, despite two books that, frankly, could have done better.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

The worst of the books weren't that bad, three jumps led the way -- that means this week's a winner.

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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