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 MARCH 2, 2016
Omega Men #9
Jump from the Read Pile.
It took the brilliance of Tom King, Barnaby Bagenda, Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Pat Brosseau to make a governmental session fascinating and filled with gunfire. Kyle Rayner -- without his ring -- addresses an entire galaxy to consider peace and reconciliation, and then ... well, it's a comic book, so you can surmise it didn't boil down to subcommittee meetings and hugging. The turns of phrase, the plot twists, they're all so elegant as this subversive, brilliant book continues to make a huge mess of transgalactic conflicts in a way that even George Lucas would have to applaud. Enjoyable, visceral, complex and engaging material here.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
That Tom King ... he's freaking amazing. All that, plus that tiiiiiiight "Niobe: She Is Life" #2 came out (that this reviewer can't cover due to a conflict of interest)? Good start.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Tomboy" #4 had good characterization, but the plot did seem to meander bit more than was needed. It's hard to tell if the protagonist is going crazy or actually divinely inspired, and it's not clear if the narrative is certain either. Despite all the blood and the brutality, there's a story here, it's just struggling to be told.
"Midnighter" #10 had scores of super enjoyable bon mots and "whoa, did that just happen?" moments as the protagonist takes on Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad. It's not pretty. That's both good for the plot and bad for the visual storytelling, because the plot had two crucial moments where it pivoted and shook, if not lost, the reader (especially the part after Harley Quinn's journal). Ambitious and enjoyably violent but stumbling in terms of clarity.
"Thrilling Adventure Hour Presents Beyond Belief" #3 had quips aplenty and a kind of supernatural "Hart To Hart" vibe to it but the core conflict was paper thin and every character aside from the protagonists was about as useful as Luke Walton during a Lakers game. Not worth the price of admission.
In "Darth Vader" #17, the titular character is at war (which is great) but more than often finds the face at the other end of the lightsaber to be an Imperial one (which is stupid). Like "The Force Awakens" made the efforts of the Rebel Alliance of dubious historical value, this questions Vader's status as the Emperor's proxy, badgered at every corner by lesser minds, charlatans and tricksters where it seems overwhelming power would more effectively handle the situation. Vader's own inscrutable and taciturn nature, given the limited amount of panel time he gets, hinders the characterization he can show no matter how magnificent the visuals are (there is a battle scene here that's poster worthy). Close, but not close enough.
"Vampirella Volume 3" #1 had some interesting moments as the titular character has moved to Hollywood and attracted all the wrong kind of attention. The core conflict has a facile nature to it along with a side order of cliches, but the character work is very engaging and the art is solid moving away from the titillation of the past.
"IXth Generation" #8 is a masterpiece of plotting, deftly weaving disparate elements from years worth of stories into a largely coherent whole. Unfortunately, it lacks characterization elements as the players push plot points as elements of their power, not beings of motivation and nuance.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Dejah Thoris" #2, "Uncanny X-Men" #4, "Batman Beyond" #10, "Guardians Of Infinity" #4, "Lone Wolf 2100" #3, "Black Widow" #1, "Seduction Of The Innocent" #4, "New Avengers" #7, "Awake" #4, "Predator Life And Death" #1, "Marvel Universe Avengers Assemble Civil War" #1, "Walking Dead" #152, "Spider-Man" #2, "Just Another Sheep" #5, "A-Force" #3, "Violent" #3, "Uncanny Avengers" #6, "Angel And Faith Season 10" #24, "Invincible Iron Man" #7, "Unfollow" #5, "Fuse" #18, "Saints" #6, "Nova" #5, "Army Of Darkness Furious Road" #1, "Swamp Thing" #3, "Revival" #37, "Survivors' Club" #6, "Discipline" #1, "Sheriff Of Babylon" #4, "Prophet Earth War" #2, "Batman And Robin Eternal" #22, "Deadpool" #8.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
Barbara Gordon visits her own Tower of Babel in "Batgirl" #49 (apologies if that "Justice League" reference passes you by) as there's a whole lotta holodeck foolishness going on in her cerebral cortex (don't ask), a fight with an AI based on herself (don't ask) and yet another super personal violation of her as a human being. For all of that, the literal "action" here mostly involved two people sitting in a room over a prone Batgirl with some typing. Terrible, terrible stuff.
When event characters in the story itself are telling each other that what will happen is both predictable and stupid, it's a sign that perhaps there should be some steps taken off the beaten path. "Avengers Standoff Assault On Pleasant Hill Alpha" #1 says "harrumph" to all of that and gleefully trods on down the path of 42 and White Martians and all kinds of other terrible ideas to escape from the fact that Frank Castle, with his lethal solution to superpowered criminals, may be on to something. This dangerously obvious story has only the unrelenting snark of a long time jokester and Maria Hill to provide any entertainment (and if you imagine Cobie Smulders saying the lines it's even better). Well drawn, wonderfully colored and lettered, and as enthralling as watching ants walk towards food. Guh.
A past version of a guy from an alternate past that never happened shows up to kill the current version, ignoring everything resembling facts and irony. "Green Lantern" #50 is an exercise in throwing bad ideas after other bad ideas as Parallax Hal Jordan goes all "a new challenger appears" on the current version and in the process break a LOT of Coast City. "Isn't protecting Coast City important to both of them? Isn't that stupid?" Yes, yes, it is. Well rendered, even had a couple of moments, but the core concept of the idea is very contrived.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Ow. Rough week for the reads. Got crazy out there ...
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Three bad comics overcome even the brilliance from Stranger Comics and Tom King, so the week would have to be considered a bad one.
This writer's eldest daughter had a big week, having her national television debut on "American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson" and her cinematic debut in "Dependent's Day" (SO NSFW) at the Cinequest festival in San Jose. That's cool.
Also? A dope new podcast came out, you can check that out, too.
The writer of this column isn't just a jerk who spews his opinions -- he writes stuff too. A lot. Like what? 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, a story in "Watson and Holmes Volume 2" co-plotted by "2 Guns" creator Steven Grant, two books from Stranger Comics -- "Waso: Will To Power" and the sequel "Waso: Gathering Wind" (the tale of a young man who had leadership thrust upon him after a tragedy), or "Fathom Sourcebook" #1, "Soulfire Sourcebook" #1 and "Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook" #1, the official guides to those Aspen Comics franchises. 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!