The Buy Pile: Evil Genius, Robotic Mysteries & Broken Hearts

Thu, August 28th, 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 27, 2014

Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #32
(IDW Publishing)
Ooh. Taking on the challenge of time travel, Megatron ably leads Autobots (really) and Decepticons in trying to solve a locked door mystery in space. There is a simply amazing bit of dialogue between the dynamically evolving Megatron -- a Hamlet-esque figure -- and Ravage -- the disbelieving zealot. Likewise, the culprit turns out to be one of the most fascinating new ideas in Transformers lore, coming out to play in an extreme and savage fashion. James Roberts' script is a delight, and while the art from Alex Milne and Juana LaFuente is a bit too dark and busy, it captures the urgency and claustrophobia of the tale well.

Genius #4 and 5
(Top Cow/Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Wow. Wow wow wow. With these final two virtually flawless issues, Destiny Ajaye has become one of the most compelling, dangerous characters in comics -- someone to be spoken of in the same tones as the debut of Morrison's Prometheus, Dr. David Loren or Amadeus Cho. A few square blocks of Los Angeles were taken and held by neighborhood citizens, fighting off the LAPD and facing down the National Guard, with a conclusion so wicked, so brilliant, that it will knock you back into the seat, the one where you've only needed the edge for most of this series. This? This is amazing. The script from Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman is terrifying in its quality, and while Afua Richardson's art could benefit from more contrast in the coloring, it likewise communicates the breakneck pace of the plot and the anxiety of its circumstances. Simply stunning work.

Evil Empire #4
(Boom! Studios)
Jump from the Read Pile.
There is a page that, if you're following the narrative, is so shocking, so "holy crap, did that just happen?" that it may go down in the annals of great reveals. The already compelling story takes a twist for the brilliant, justifying its every flash forward and connecting the plot deftly. To say a syllable more about what happened would spoil it, but kudos to writer Max Bemis and art team Andrea Mutti and Chris Blythe for delivering one surprising and effective book.

Saga #22
(Image Comics)
Damn. Most issues of this series are like falling in love, but this one is like getting your heart broken. The plot weaves and dances like Ali in his prime, the interaction between leads Alana and Marko is pitch perfect and as always, Fiona Staples makes every panel heavy with significance and nuance. Good, good stuff here.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Five great books already, three jumps (two in one) and "Monomyth" #2 came out today too (but can't be reviewed due to a financial conflict of interest)! Fantastic!

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Wayward" #1 is an interesting start, featuring cross cultural shock, a literal fish out of (or into) water story with a hint of super powers and a secret threat thrown in. The atmosphere, as created by Jim Zub's script with art by Steve Cummings and John Rauch, throws the reader into Japan's claustrophobic metropolitan streets while leaving room along its borders for something magical. The characters were just a shade too thin on development, but this was very close to making the mark.

"Steed And Mrs. Peel: We're Needed #2" had some enjoyable bits where Steed stepped out of his "harmless" role while his better half tracked down clues using her brain and network of informants. However, the plot dragged in the first half and the antagonist is the height of cliche.

Things got very real in "Wildfire" #3 as uncontrollable plant growth leaves Los Angeles a smoking ruin and that's the good news. Characters are still thinly developed, from the ambitious aging TV reporter to the guilt-ridden scientist, but the plot and science behind it are top notch.

Character moments again shone in "Kill Shakespeare The Mask Of Night" #3, especially for Juliet and the rogue pirate Cesario, but the plot was more melodrama than drama, and that could have moved the plot along at a peppier pace.

"Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor" #2 had several clever bits and Tennant's tone came through clear enough, but a lackluster companion and a fragment of a plot stopped this from being a winner.

In "Original Sin" #5.4, on one side, Loki is trading in lies and playing with stakes way above his weight class. On the other, Thor competes for quote of the day while very specifically defining the term "fear of god." Lots of good things here, but the very clear thing left unsaid is annoyingly obvious and the twists, while entertaining, are predictable. Not bad, though.

"V-Wars" #5 had some interesting ideas presented, even though it was essentially watching television and one long conversation. The complexity of the plot again overshadows character development, but it's not bad and had overcome this columns longstanding apathy towards vampires.

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

"Tomb Raider" #7, "Harley Quinn" #10, "Wolverine" #12, "Bob's Burgers" #1, "Fantastic Four #9, "Groo Vs Conan" #2, "Flash Gordon" #5, "Avengers" #34, "Dream Thief: Escape" #3, "24" #5, "Star Wars Legacy 2" #18, "Letter 44" #9, "Sex" #15, "Aquaman" #34, "Cyclops" #4, "Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Godstorm Hercules Payne" #5, "All-New X-Men" #31, "Shinobi Ninja Princess" #1, "Captain Midnight" #14, "Low" #2, "Guardians Of The Galaxy #18, "Transformers Vs G.I. JOE" #2, "Red Lanterns" #34, "7th Sword" #4, "Pariah" #7, "Flash #34, "Ghostbusters" #19, "Silver Surfer" #5, "Catwoman" #34, "POP" #1, "Amazing Spider-Man" #1.4, "Sinestro #5", "Black Science #8", "Thunderbolts" #30, "Last Fall" #2, "Star-Spangled War Stories Starring G.I. Zombie" #2, "All-New Ultimates" #7, "Sundowners" #1, "Uncanny Avengers" #23, "Manhattan Projects #23, "Superman" #34, "X-O Manowar" #28, "All-Star Western" #34.

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

"Bo Plushy Gangsta" #4 is nonsensical, heavy in probably offensive stereotypes and boringly plotted. Its art is dynamic, but that's about all it has going for it, from conception to execution.

"New 52 Futures End" #17 was just barely terrible, with a wholly deceptive cover, a switcheroo that comes out of nowhere and a dead African village as a background element.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Aw, that wasn't so bad.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

In the vernacular, there were "hella" jumps and the week won big time based on them.

THE BUSINESS

Did you check out the latest episode of this columnist's monthly podcast? Doctor Who, apps, a final #SDCC breakdown and much more await, and best of all, you'll be done in less than a half hour. Can't beat that!

Also, if you could please go like the Operative Network on Facebook and follow the Operative Network on Twitter then you could see cool stuff and new characters from #TASKTuesday, #WildfireWednesday and #FoundationFriday. Good stuff.

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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