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). 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 FEBRUARY 25TH, 2009
Five issues of dense characterization and plot development ... have devolved into a big fight scene and limp lob to the movie. This final issue of the mini isn't an overwhelming disappointment, but it's far from the triumph one might expect, and even the climactic psychic combat scene seemed a little static as well. There's just not much to work with here, and the normally infallible team of Freeman and Bernardin just ran out of rope after making five very solid issues. These things happen. Let's just move on.
Jump from the Read Pile. Are you enjoying the noirish goodness of books like "Incognito" and "Criminal," but you miss the simple pleasures of a done-in-one? Well, Richard Starkings, Chris Burnham and Tatto Caballero deliver in spades with a self-contained story of a man who holds a grudge and the mysterious, dangerous woman who knows his darkest secret. Deeply enmeshed in genre while holding on to its dystopian sci fi sensibilities, this story brilliantly establishes "Carlos Vlasco" (if that is, in fact, his real name) this story has it all -- bullets, babes, blood, the works (the woiks?)! Subtle, smart and succinct.
A virtual legion of armored aliens have come to cleanse the earth of its chaotic energy (i.e. "people") and either recruit Jaime Reyes to their cause or end him. This leads to bloodshed and suborbital beatings, all while managing to do some really solid work inside the title character's head. Add to that a wonderfully poignant blast from the past, some family time and powerful artwork from Carlo Barberi, Jacob Egurgen and Guy Major and you've got one great final issue ... even though it's sad to see such a strong character of color disappear from the stands.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Pretty good. Not fantastic, but pretty good.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Thunderbolts" #129 was close to making the mark, with Norman Osborn having a lot of fun being a whimsically evil bastard, but the gags are almost predictable now as you can see Osborn manipulate events to work well for himself.
"Wildcats" #8 is an issue that has an interesting application of craft and steps away from the normal plots that have plagued the post-Worldstorm comics ... but does so with such a strange closing that it could make some more sensitive souls a little weirded out.
The dialogue, as always, was strong on "New Avengers" #50, but the plot was just "eh" and the art on the action was simply "okay" where more could have been a better idea.
"Umbrella Academy: Dallas" #4 was a lot more coherent than previous issues, had a lot of fun with the characters (loved the bit with #5) and did better by staying on target with the plot and not wandering around a lot. An improvement, at least.
"Captain America" #47 was a little too short but held up as an espionage-themed action thriller (take note, Ms. Marvel, with your facile antagonist) and some less-than-fun moments for the former Winter Soldier and some of his old friends from the PRC.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"X-Force" #12, "Star Wars: Legacy" #33, "Green Lantern" #38, "Marvels: Eye of the Camera" #4, "Trinity" #39 (although its one whole "meh" and not two half stories), "War Machine" 33, "Dynamo 5" #20 (War Chest? Seriously?), "Hulk" #10 (Offenders?), "Nova" #22, "Ms. Marvel" #36.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Justice Society of America" #24 tried desperately to shoehorn an ill-conceived plot element into what we laughingly refer to as continuity while somehow trying to give Stargirl and Billy Batson a tender moment (great timing) and showcasing the newly unified morality of the Black Marvel Family (fun fact: none of them are Black). After such a great issue last month, this is a heaping let down.
"Avengers: The Initiative" #22 is calling the evil Thor clone "Ragnarok" for the love of pie. He's got a hammer. He throws lightning. He's also a homicidal, psychotic jerk. He's also, fun fact, apparently an idiot. This issue would have had to step up its game to disappoint, as limp as it was. No.
Didn't we do the central "plot element" (if you can call it that) of "Superman" #685 right after "52," with Kara in the Mon-El role? Moreover, with none of Superman's weaknesses (well, maybe magic) and all of his powers, doesn't that make Mon-El, oh, better than Supes? Just saying ...
Re: "Mighty Avengers" #22 ... WTH, Wundagore? Fail.
Really, Kid Devil? You're that dumb in "Teen Titans" #68? Is your life in any way necessary? Gah.
"She-Hulk" #38 is the series' last issue, and perhaps one too late, as a whole lotta female heroes go rogue, a bad metatextual joke ends the whole thing. The art's the only thing that held up.
Also, as "events" go, "Reign in Hell" #8 ranked right up there with having tea with Grammy on a Saturday afternoon. "No" on art, on plot, on dialogue, on conception, on execution ... bah.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Kind of rough out there, like a chore getting through this stuff, honestly.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
There was one jump ... but a lot of bad stuff, so we're forced to say this week was not a good one for comics fans.
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.
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, which has the week off.