WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/karaoke host/jackass) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock -- hey Steve, Jason, Vince and Sally) and grabs a whole lotta comics. These periodicals are quickly sorted 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). Ã‚Â Thursday afternoons (Diamond monopolistic practices willing, and yes, it used to be mornings, but management asked for it to slide back some), you'll be able to get his thoughts (and they're just the opinions of one guy, so calm down) about all of that ... which goes something like this ...
THE BUY PILE FOR JULY 16TH, 2008
Fables #77 (Vertigo/DC Comics)
Take a look around -- this issue has scenes in areas all over the Fables continuity, from a liberated world no longer suffering under the imperial yoke to a private meeting with Gepetto on the thirteenth floor of the community's central residence. The overarching narrative following two "famous" mercenaries looking for loot to plunder leads to an almost predictable snafu, which could bring back another popular character. All around good stuff happening here as this "take stock of things" issue is friendly to new readers and fascinating to longtime fans.
Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge #3 (DC Comics)
The final showdown between Inertia and the Rogues, and somebody's gonna get very badly hurt. This fantastic bit of characterization showcases Weather Wizard more than anyone else, a man tortured by a tragedy in his past and vengeful towards everything because of it. The rogues work effectively as a team, and the young villain steps up as a credible threat alongside Professor Zoom. Geoff Johns' script runs a little fast at the end, but the work with Weather Wizard and Captain Cold more than makes up for it.
Air #3 (Vertigo/DC Comics)
Speaking of running a little short, this issue takes on the concept of a country that doesn't exist and settles it as well, really quickly. Moreover, the charismatic male lead Zayn is here and gone rather quickly. Still, the essential charm of the female protagonist Blythe works out well, especially in two key sequences. Still compelling work worth watching.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
No real complaints here, but not exactly wild enthusiasm.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
The comic closest to making its way home was Larry Hama's "Spooks: Omega Team" #2, which continues with the series greatest strength -- the easy camaraderie between the characters -- but falls down on its actual storyline, which is at best cliche and at worst limp. Great action sequences, great artwork, but not quite what it needs to be.
Again, the dialogue and interaction between heroes is much better than the actual events in "DC Decisions" #3. Pontificating political views, still shots of talking heads ... you can see Bill Willingham's hand in the zippy banter, but other than that, this issue stays undecided.
More of the same? "Astonishing X-Men" #27 does it too, with Cyclops cursing and interdimensional surprises and a secret deep in the hinterlands of China, along with creepy sex talk from an agent of S.W.O.R.D. To say more would be to spoil the surprises, but a little more clarity in the plot and a little less time focused on one-liners would go a long way.
"Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds" #2 had a lot of fun moments (Mordru actually said, "The White Witch and I will feed your organs to your friends, then make love bathed in your blood"), while Superboy Prime and his Legion of Super Villains (there's a certain symmetry in that) show up big time, we find out the fate of 31st century Oa and get to see Braniacs argue. The good parts included the artwork and Lightning Lad's questions for Superman, the bad includes a plot that meanders.
"Young X-Men" #7 is a triumph of craft over content, as the intercut dialogue, the balance of action and discussion and the interplay of characters was so much better than everything they did or discussed.
"Superman's Pal: Jimmy Olsen" was surprisingly adequate, taking the largely peripheral character and giving him a lot to work with in a mystery that's fairly compelling. Not quite enough to buy, but an intriguing surprise.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Squadron Supreme" Volume 2 #4, "Batman and the Outsiders" #12, "Dynamo 5" #17, "Brave and The Bold" #18, "Captain Britain and MI-13" #6, "Stormwatch PHD" #15, "Iron Man: Director of SHIELD" #34, "Trinity" #20, "Mighty Avengers" #19 (remember when there were actual Avengers in the Avengers comics?) and "Flash" #245.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
The villain from "DC Decisions" is actually the victim in "Titans" #6? Shouldn't that character still be dead? Seriously, WTH? Is this another "Superboy Punch" thing?
"Ultimate Origins" #5 fell down on the job with one man strapped to a table. Seriously. That's a game changer for the Ultimate Universe, and was handled way too casually. No.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
This was the week of better interaction than ideas.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Call it a wash, as the good stuff wasn't that good.
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. Physical comics? Geddouttahere. Too much drama to store with diminishing resources.
Furthermore, as if this reviewer here wasn't obnoxious enough with his opinions, he's part of an effort to teach writers about how to do the work at The Hundred and Four, where this week has the first of a series of reviews. New content is posted every Wednesday.