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 JULY 30, 2014
Five Weapons #10
In a situation that can only be described as a tragedy, this issue gets a truncated ending as, in its last panel, it notes that the series is cancelled. Like a hot and heavy high school date disrupted by parents walking in, this fantastic storyline got yanked from your hands before it could finish, leaving vengeful scion Tyler Shainline unrequited and unfinished as his former servant, the dangerously crafty Enrique Garcia steps back up to steal the spotlight. So much fun and such a shame to see it go.
(Unlikely Heroes Publishing)
When you get done reading a comic book and say to yourself, "Oh, my God -- that's so good" more than three times, then immediately start reading the same comic book again, you should know you have something special. This issue is a literal masterpiece of characterization (focused on The Black Atom, a man with many secrets) which loops around to tie up the plot so cleverly, so brilliantly that it only gets better when you realize the true reveal that happened, based on the last page of a previous issue. So many layers to the script, such detail and deftness in the coloring and artwork. There's no slouching on supporting characters, as Granite Janet and Furnace play pivotal roles, the same for a well-introduced legacy character (think the second Prometheus) and Fire Ant, borrowing liberally from the Eric O'Grady playbook. This remains, without even breaking a sweat, in its first five pages, among the best superhero books in the market today. Maybe the best. It's really that good. Wow.
All-New Ghost Rider #5
Jump from the Read Pile.
One of the greatest challenges many heroes face is resisting the corrupting influence of power, the voice in your ear encouraging you to enforce your will and let the chips fall where they may. Felipe Smith's deft script has teenaged hero Robbie Reyes wrestling with that choice as his personal spirit of vengeance cries for blood and fire, while the innocents in Robbie's neighborhood desperately need something else. The art by Tradd Moore and Val Staples may be a little bit too overstated (in particular on scenes with the drug lord Grumpy and the overzealous Mr. Hyde) but the action is kinetic and engaging, the character moments are pitch perfect (check the trunk one) and this book feels true to its source material. A pleasant surprise and a new hero you might actually be able to look up to as he resists his flaws.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Sweet Kwanzaa, that's one heck of a good stack of comics!
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"When insomnia hits, I imagine anti-Iron Man weapons while I lie awake. Just for fun. It soothes me." Those words, coming from an Extremis-prepared "smart" jade giant in "Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man" #3 almost make up for the boring, seeming-retcon still in action as Tony Stark finds more damning evidence of tampering with the gamma bomb that started ten thousand heartbreaks. As shown in World War Hulk, a smart, angry Hulk can be enormously compelling, and as he disassembles Tony Stark's house of cards, it's almost enough to sell the plot, if not for Stark's simpering.
If you like a non-stop deluge of themed food related jokes, plus extraordinarily messy butt kicking for no sake other than its own, "Chew Warrior Chicken Poyo" #1 should be right up your alley. Less a story and more a lengthy gag, it's a self-contained one off that should delight fans of the property.
Like the "Chew" special, "Harley Quinn" #8 is a series of "Mad Magazine" styled gags dressed in cosplay and pretending to be a plot. That's not a bad thing -- throwing feces at a Dan Didio-headed plot to re-reboot the DCU, a hilarious hat on Jim Lee, some murders played for laughs -- but it's not exactly "War and Peace." Simple, mindless hilarity with slapstick violence.
"Day Men" #4 is stylish and slick, steeped with murderous intent and ancient entitlements as evolution marches on, even on the children of the night. The cipher-like protagonist David Reid is a perfect perspective for the reader to view this world of cold skin and colder motives, inserting so little personality that this could be an FPS game while the politics of blood around him boil and freeze. This feels like it's ready to take to the airwaves once "True Blood" finishes, and if that makes your heart beat faster, this issue is one for you.
"East Of West" #14 bounced between three of the pint sized apocalyptic horsemen questioning prophecy and posturing mightily and a scant glance at the lead plot, Death seeking his son. Great, gripping art, sweeping language, but the plot sagged in the first two thirds. A rare misstep.
"Avengers World" #10 had the start of something clever as AIM's Scientist Supreme took time for a prime time cable interview. The rampage of the Gorgon and the cackling melodramatics of Morgan Le Fey seem rather quaint and embarrassing by comparison, problems just waiting for enough bodies to throw at them, as Thor or Hyperion could easily change the direction of those plots. Maybe it's all going to tie together, but right now it was the seeds of originality lost in its own overwhelming sturm und drang.
In a gritty spaceborne tale, the (alleged) secret history of armored suits from space is revealed in "X-O Manowar" #27. The armor-clad refugee Malgam gets an origin story as a former hunter of armors himself, but the preponderance of characters have cliched characterization and predictable plot points to follow.
"Black Science" #7 fulfills the old phrase, "pay for the whole seat, but you'll only need the edge of it" in a literally thrilling issue long rush through danger. The ending is a surprise, the characterization of one player is a delight and if there was more than just that one character emerging as somebody, this easily would have made the jump. Very, very close to the mark.
"Hawkeye" #19 is another uphill climb, an experimental issue that will leap off the page if you know sign language. An attempted assassination has left Clint Barton (maybe) temporarily deaf, mirroring an embarrassing incident from his childhood. This time it's not a problematic parent but a team of tracksuit-wearing thugs with Eastern European accents overusing the term, "bro." Likely more Eisner-bait here, with an innovative method of communicating, but perhaps too hard to follow for the return on investment.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Witchblade" #177, "100th Anniversary Special Guardians Of The Galaxy" #1, "Batman Eternal" #17, "Avengers #33", "George R.R. Martin's In The House Of The Worm" #1, "Grimm Fairy Tales Vs Wonderland" #1, "Justice League" #32, "Cyclops" #3, "Dead Letters" #4, "X-Men" #17, "V-Wars" #4, "New 52 Futures End" #13, "Secret Avengers" #6, "Star Wars Rebel Heist" #4, "Guardians Of The Galaxy" #17, "Red Lanterns Annual" #1, "Iron Patriot" #5, "Fatale" #24, "Detective Comics Annual #3", "Danger Girl: May Day" #3, "Sinestro" #4, "Iron Man Special" #1, "Manhattan Projects" #22 (hh), "Uncanny X-Men" #24, "Transformers Robots In Disguise" #31, "New Avengers" #21, "Ten Grand" #10, ""Armor Hunters: Harbinger" #1, "Aquaman Annual" #2, "Uncanny Avengers" #22.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
Re: "Ultimate FF" #5. Oh. Oh, no. No, no, no. Joshua Hale Fialkov's script is plain disturbing and wrong in so many ways, but the realistic artwork of Andre Araujo and Rachelle Rosenberg made it all too creepy. The plot elements that could be spoiled are almost as horrifying as the way they grilled the bacon (you don't want to know). Disturbing stuff.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Ambitious stuff, everybody went out there and played hard. Even that very disturbing one at the end.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Such great purchases this week (even losing the genius of "Five Weapons"), and lots of other really good tries, means this could possibly be the best post SDCC week ever ... keep reading for more about why ...
If you missed the writer of this columnist in San Diego, you can now download the free PDF of "Cruel Summer: The Visual Mixtape," an ashcan that got handed out there showcasing the work of his new creative partners and first announced in the new podcast.
Maybe you missed the announcement of a partnership with GoliathFox, who are developing the new animated series "T.A.S.K.""New Money" #1 on ComiXology last week, the rambunctious tale of four multimillionaires running wild in Los Angeles.
Oh, maybe you missed the fact that this columnist is writing the "Aspen Sourcebooks" -- handbooks for the Aspen universe, describing all their characters with intricate detail. So, yeah, kind of a big week, right?
As of right now, you can spend ten bucks and get about 175,000 words worth 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 -- fantasy, superhero stuff, magical realism and more -- 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!