The Buy Pile: Nightwing's Memento, Grendel's Comeback & Innovative Indies

Thu, September 4th, 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 SEPTEMBER 9, 2014

Grayson Futures End #1
(DC Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
This issue is huge. It a big, bold, brilliant story told in reverse (and it reads well both ways) that hits so many excellent points. There is one of the best Batman moments in years, there's a number of clever bits (the Cluemaster code, the death of the Flying Graysons, the metaphor of clean hands) and a wonderfully depicted story of love and loss that fits in the cracks of the crossover. If you need to do a big, multi-title spanning story, this is how you do a peripheral installment -- make it a moment in and of itself, make the stakes matter, invest the reader in the characters. The story by Tom King and Tim Seeley is simply outstanding, and the art by Stephen Mooney and Jeromy Cox perfectly encapsulates the different eras of Richard Grayson's short, brutal life. A huge shock to find such a gem in a thus far "meh" crossover.

Concrete Park R-E-S-P-E-C-T #1
(Dark Horse Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Big science fiction ideas meet dystopian futurism as a reluctant L.A. gang banger finds himself lost on a prison planet in a binary system that Mad Max (the new one, not the racist old one) would find homey and familiar. Mining distant worlds for ice, a relentless struggle for survival, all lovingly rendered by the hands of screenwriter turned artist Tony Puryear. The script from Puryear and his wife, actress Erika Alexander, has only one minor flaw -- the ease at which crash survivor Isaac falls in with local gang leader Luca -- but it's an extremely small quibble in a dynamic, enjoyable comic book.

Grendel Vs The Shadow #1
(Dark Horse Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Ruthless crime lord slash novelist Hunter Rose accidentally reads a time traveling scroll and ends up in Prohibition-era Manhattan. Really, why would you need more than that? Best of all, you get more, including a very grim and gun-wielding vigilante hell bent on maintaining what passed as "order" in the 1930s. Matt Wagner waltzes through the script and art, fleshing out characters and driving the plot efficiently along with what seems like effortless grace. The pacing is just right, the art is a perfect fit for the era and the devil-may-care attitude of the blade-wielding masked man makes this a naughty delight. Fantastic work.

God Hates Astronauts #1
(Image Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
This comic book is a masterpiece of madness. It's shocking and hilarious and nonsensical and somehow still coherent and wrong and meta and insane and it should never, ever stop. From an accident in the wilds of open space to an animal man collective running NASA, this thing is just amazing. The characters are bombastic, the stakes engaging and the whole thing's a hoot. Much, much more of this.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Four jumps! Wow, that turned out to be amazing!

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Twilight Zone" #8 had a very interesting premise, positing the challenge and opportunity of prescience for a woman who suffers "from the disease of civilization," with wonderful language and sweeping indictments of throwing away a sense of personal responsibility. The adequate artwork, the blinding cultural challenges with a savior complex and the tacked on ending to throw to the next story sapped some momentum, but there was something worth seeing there, an indication that this can shock and amaze.

Take a splash of the movie "Now You See Me" and a whiff of the Robin Hood mythos while using the standard orphan tropes and you'll get "Cloaks" #1, a story with an almost cipher of a protagonist and a somewhat pat set up. If it transcends its need for an origin story, maybe it can be something more or maybe it's a CBS procedural waiting to be born. We'll have to wait, because magicians never reveal the ending this early.

"Black Widow" #10 was fast paced and intriguing as it established some history between Clint Barton and the titular character, flipping back and forth between a modern day kidnapping and an exfiltration in Islamabad years ago. The (literally) only problem is that it could have worked as a cold open for a TV show, the stuff you see before the credits, and that's not enough story meat for a whole issue.

"Southern Bastards" #4 is a gritty, bloody, messy conclusion to its opening story, a climax of violence and old grudges. There's fighting and yelling and accusations and vitriol, but only two things actually happened in the plot. Not bad, and if it was on TV or in a movie, this would be award winning material. As a single comic, it's just a hair shy on content.

"Death-Defying Dr. Mirage" #1 is a deft approach at investigating the impossible as a woman who's part medium, part clairvoyant, part telepath and part Fox Mulder helps when she must and grieves the rest of the time. The artwork is a little blah, bit the approach had some bite to it. Maybe heading in a good direction.

"Turok Dinosaur Hunter" #7 is a chapter of a tragedy as two powerful, ruthless men manipulate younger people to wage war on their behalf when the young would rather find peace. It's a messy bit of business for the titular character, who must betray his values to save lives, and it's too slow by a half step, but there's some interesting storytelling going on here.

On one side, "Batwing Futures End" #1 is almost literally the first time a man in the armor has been any good at what he does, instead of just "lightly failing." On the other hand, the antagonists were dull and mono-dimensional, the plot was ridiculously telegraphed and the fight scene was uninspired. Good to see Luke Fox get something done, sad it had to be handled in so little space that the story didn't get room to breathe.

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

"Hawkeye Vs Deadpool" #0, "Indestructible" #8, "New 52 Futures End" #18, "Avengers World" #12, "Robocop" #3, "Uncanny X-Men" #25, "Fairest" #29, "Death Of Wolverine" #1, "Uber" #17, "Trinity Of Sin The Phantom Stranger Futures End" #1, "Rocket Raccoon" #3, "Sidekick" #8, "Superior Foes Of Spider-Man" #15, "Green Lantern Futures End" #1, "Moon Knight" #7, "Michael Avon Oeming's The Victories" #15, "Detective Comics Futures End" #1, "Iron Fist Living Weapon" #6, "Star Mage" #6, "Aquaman Futures End" #1, "Punisher" #10, "Tech Jacket #3, "All-New X-Factor" #13, "Earth 2 Futures End" #1, "Big Trouble In Little China" #4, "She-Hulk" #8, "Swamp Thing Futures End" #1, "X-Men" #19, "Terminator Enemy Of My Enemy" #5, "Justice League" #33, "Captain America" #24, "Lumberjanes" #5, "Hack Slash Son Of Samhain" #3, "Names" #1, "Angel And Faith Season 10" #6, "Legendary Star-Lord" #3, "Batman Eternal" #22, "Woods" #5, "Deadpool Vs X-Force" #4, "Green Arrow Futures End" #1, "Spider-Man 2099" #3, "Red Sonja The Black Tower" #1, "Original Sin" #8, "Elephantmen" #59, "Action Comics Futures End" #1, "All-New Doop" #5.

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

Nothing terrible? YAY!

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

An average amount of "meh," no stinkers, that's a good sign as well!

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Four huge merit jumps, no bad comics, all in a week when nobody had a guaranteed ride home? This is one hell of a great week for comics.

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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