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 (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 (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 APRIL 8TH, 2009
WARNING: This columnist was sorely under the weather this week, and Comics Ink got just over 900 pounds worth of comics, so don't expect too much.
Ah, is there any more time-honored plot pause than the double date issue? How does it all start? In the words of Deadshot, "Look. That let-the-eat-cake lady. Jeanette. She's into me. She says we're goin' on a date. She also made it very clear it wasn't no request." Wonderfully intertwined in the shared universe ("It's Booster Gold's personal scent or some such crap. Blake gimme it. Blame him.") without getting mired down in it, this issue hinges heavily on a funny promise that nobody believes can work, even when it's on a double date with only one guy. Yeah. Delightfully wicked, and looking inside Ragdoll's twisted dreams has shades of Kenneth Parcell. Fun stuff.
Jump from the Read Pile. Overheard: "Has there ever been a character better suited for a noir treatment than Daredevil?" True indeed -- given his existing trappings with a murdered father and a walk-up office, this character was ripe for noir-i-zation. Using a chat with the equally noir-ready Wilson Fisk as a framing device, this one issue tells you everything about how this character came to be (which, in some ways, makes more sense than the real version) and what's going on in this seedy, criminal-caked world. The delightful and stylized artwork from Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman casts everything in the perfect grimy light and this issue hits every note just about perfectly. Then there's the narration and dialogue -- "Home. The place where you're supposed to be able to leave the outside world behind. Not me ... home is a prison I carry in my head" -- making this a great re-read already.
The Soldier gets stuck in Africa, his leg healing wrong and his heart broken by the suffering he's seen. Back home, his patient wife negotiates with hoodlums for the release of her son. This issue's a bit slow, but it skilfully showcases the man's struggle with his own fear and weakness and pushes him inexorably towards his home. The "Oddessy" homage plays well here, brushing against the source material without being engulfed by it.
It's a guide book. This column buys guide books. No surprise there. However, this one casts lights on areas of Stephen King's magnum opus that got short changed in the actual books, including fascinating looks at many of the spiritual figures in the cosmology of this broken world. Worth a look if you took the ride through all the "Dark Tower" books.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
None too shabby.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Dark Reign: Hawkeye" #1 was funny, but if you're gonna have fun with Bullseye, you're gonna have to at least hit the high water mark set by the Daniel Way/Steve Dillon mini from a few years ago, which was a hoot. Less a story and more a series of murders with an argument tossed in, this clearly cannot go well. A morbid laugh, but there's not enough here to make it worth buying.
"Transformers Spotlight: Drift" takes a step towards establishing who Drift is and why he's walking around solely with swords, but it doesn't take enough time with him, instead dwelling on Kup and a new (maybe) Decepticon commander. The art's very pretty, though.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Doktor Sleepless" #12, "Booster Gold" #19, "Captain Britain and MI-13" #12, "Green Lantern" #39, "All-New Savage She-Hulk" #1, "Ignition City" #1 (what was up with that screeching brakes ending?), Sword" #16, Batman: Battle for the Cowl" #2, "Invincible" #60 (way, way too fast for its own good -- the bit with Atom Eve almost slipped by in the inundation of action).
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
The WTH? award is back with the wholly incomprehensible "Solomon Grundy" #2. The weird part is that the Bizarro parts are the only ones that almost make sense. WTH?
The biggest problem with "War of Kings: Ascencion" #1 was that it tried vainly to make Darkhawk out to be something important (and grabbed some "improper bonding" shtick from Jaime Reyes). Limp.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Two "okay" comics, two "bad" comics and a mountain of "meh" in between.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Since "Daredevil: Noir" and "Secret Six" are so infinitely re-readable, we'll call this week a win by a thin margin.
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.