The Buy Pile: Gunfire, Lightsabers and Old Debts

Thu, August 21st, 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 AUGUST 20, 2014

Transformers Robots In Disguise #32
(IDW Publishing)
Jump from the Read Pile.
After a long recovery period from the disastrous "Dark Cybertron" crossover, this issue returns to the best part about this series -- having powerful personalities clash and develop while in conflict. Prowl steps up his game in a very, very big way as Optimus Prime is made out to be a dupe, Galvatron shows a calculating side he's kept mostly in the shadows of his rage and there's so much shooting and blowing up of stuff that Andrew Griffith, Brendan Cahill, Josh Perez and Juana Lefuente were all needed to keep it straight with their crisp lines and effective colors. Writer John Barber used plot to move around Prowl's sometimes stiff character issues (there before IDW even had the license) and make the strategist's plays sing out with vibrancy. Intriguing, engaging work that balanced the interaction between man and machine well.

Star Wars Darth Maul Son Of Dathomir #4
(Dark Horse Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Strong finish. While adhering to the "toys back in their place" rule, this issue brings the conflict between Dathomir's Nightmother and Darth Sidious to a powerful conclusion, spinning the rest of the characters off in interesting ways that won't upset the "Revenge of the Sith" applecart at all while still delivering a rousing, entertaining story. Jeremy Barlow's script hits all the right notes while the art of Juan Frigeri, Marco Vargas and Wes Dzioba brings the familiar characters to life.

Genius #3
(Top Cow/Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
The coloring concerns that plagued the first two issues are gone and the pace has picked up as a secondary character steps up to catalyze the plot. We get flashbacks of the teenaged tactical titan as she effortlessly manages every situation, prepared for every eventuality like her middle name was Xanatos. Between the improved visuals and a peppier pace in the plot, the creative team of Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman and Afua Richardson really got it done in an entertaining, gripping issue that's extraordinarily relevant and creepily well-timed.

Fables #143
(Vertigo/DC Comics)
This issue continues the title's hopeful return to greatness as it nears its conclusion, with big happenings for Bigby Wolf (or what's left of him), Snow White and her sister Rose Red and the errant Prince Brandish. There are some answers delivered from some other corners and a big secret comes to light, which is all sweet elixir of "squee" for long time fans. On the lower rungs of greatness, its good to see this title getting back to its fighting trim.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Very solid start!

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"All-New Ghost Rider" #6 was all character and no plot, setting the scene for future stories without really telling one. Robbie Reyes is happier making money street racing than busting heads as the "Roast Rider," but clearly things are closing in on him, whether he knows it or not. All set up doesn't fill out a narrative, but these real, fully fleshed out characters are worth a look, at least.

Beautiful and furious, intimate and distant, "Wicked + The Divine" #3 was very solid on character and stood in place on plot, tying to have a murder investigation amidst magic and pop culture. The two disparate energies don't fit so well together, and that's bad because this is like a song with lyrics that entrance but feels slightly off beat. A higher level of the substance-less style of "Young Avengers."

"Little Nemo Return To Slumberland" #1 is a charming, enchanting take on children's perceptions of dreaming, an all-ages yarn that's mostly set up, leaving even its basest goals as a narrative unrequited. Spirit it's beautiful, though, and the simplicity and wonder of the protagonist is catchy. This will likely make one heck of a collected volume, if it can maintain the charm and push the plot along.

"All-New X-Factor" #12 has an extraordinarily mature bit of character work for a mutant well known for making terrible decisions, but it's only a sliver of a story that then comes to a full stop. Not bad, and kind of heartwarming, but not a purchase.

"Batwoman" #34 like the aforementioned "X-Factor" showed an impressive emotional maturity for its titular character, finding heroism in a sacrifice that has nothing to do with punching or clothes that chafe. However, the superheroics didn't even bother to introduce half the players and fell flat.

"Artifacts" #38 was a very interesting book, casting the true nature of the Magdalena's role into question, using the Darkness as a framing device to see a flashback story and having old gods from before it all just waiting and watching. The plot sagged a little, but the concept shone through the execution for the most part. It was, unmistakably, a new idea, and that's worth seeing, at least.

It's all set up, but "Delinquents" #1 has a kind of fun, ridiculous nature to it as Valiant's two most ridiculous duos end up at cross purposes with each other chasing a hobo treasure. Quantum is the uptight wannabe super hero, Archer is a cult-bred version of Duplicate Boy, Armstrong is a super strong immortal frat boy and Woody is a skeevy Pete Wisdom with lighter hair and a considerably more flawed moral compass. Put those four together and writer James Asmus has tons of chances to make gags and have cute moments, but the plot takes a while to get started. Worth checking back, to see if it does anything interesting.

"Life After" #2 has, without a doubt, one of the most disturbing last pages in recent memory. The arguable protagonist works alongside Ernest Hemingway to discover secrets of the purgatory. Challenging, intriguing work, it'd have a hard time topping the intensity of the first issue, but this was interesting. Good to check back in an issue to see if it's going somewhere.

"Fade Out" #1 was a high quality period piece, crime noir and the seedy underbelly of Hollywood between World War 2 and Korea. Fans of "Satellite Sam" will likely find this solid, following the mores of the era and treating most females like accessories or props or rubbish. The creative team is well known for their skill and craft, but the subject matter seems mundane, the characters unremarkable, so the end product speaks only to those actively seeking a whiff of the "good old days."

On one hand, "Daredevil" #7 had some simply fantastic character stuff happening with Matt Murdock, who had some lines that practically levitated off the page ("We should all fail so tragically") in a redemptive, forgiving arc that's literally touching. On the other hand, the script made T'challa's sister something of an easily manipulated dupe, made Wakanda subject to crimes that'd have them on charges at the Hague (because, apparently, she's fine committing acts that'd have the world pointing fingers but not, say, just doing the stuff in the Crystal Forest or N'zadaha, where people already hate her, or even the closely guarded and now empty vibranium mound site) and generally continued Marvel's tradition of crapping on Wakanda since "Doomwar" or farther back. So, yay Daredevil, stepping up with a boot on Wakanda's neck. Urf.

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

"Protectors Inc" #8, "Elektra" #5, "Red Hood And The Outlaws" #34, "Judge Dredd" #22, "Nova" #20, "Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman" #2, "Secret Avengers" #7, "Skyward" #9, "Mighty Avengers" #13, "Justice Inc" #1, "New 52 Futures End" #16, "Savage Dragon" #197, "Magneto" #8, "Multiversity" #1, "Armor Hunters Harbinger" #2, "Brain Boy The Men From G.E.S.T.A.L.T." #4, "Original Sins" #5, "Green Lantern New Guardians" #34, "Deadpool Vs X-Force" #3, "Doctor Spektor Master Of The Occult" #3, "Supergirl" #34, "Wolverine Annual" #1, "Supreme Blue Rose" #2, "Batman Eternal" #20, "Infinity Man And The Forever People" #3, "Armor Hunters Bloodshot" #2, "Ms. Marvel" #7, "Teen Titans" #2, "Storm" #2, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10" #6, "Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu" #4, "Trinity Of Sin Pandora" #14, "New Avengers" #23, "Steampunk Battlestar Galactica 1880" #1, "Batman And Robin" #34, "All-New Ultimates" #6.

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

Nothing that bad? Cool!

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

It's time to be grateful for nothing being awful. Excellent!

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Three jumps and no stinkers? That's a recipe for "win!"

THE BUSINESS

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, or spend a few more dollars and get "New Money" #1 from Canon Comics, the rambunctious tale of four multimillionaires running wild in Los Angeles. Too rich for your blood? Download the free PDF of "Cruel Summer: The Visual Mixtape." 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!

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