The Buy Pile

Thu, June 25th, 2009 at 2:28pm PDT

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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 JUNE 24TH, 2009

"The Literals" #3

The Literals #3 (Vertigo/DC Comics)

It all comes down to this -- plot threads from (literally) years back intertwine with recent developments and fantastic metatextual elements, making even the most ridiculous things make sense, this story serves as a culmination of mountains worth of storytelling in what an issue that could only be described as "perfect" ... if you've been along for a little while.  Sure, if you've never seen this series before, you'd probably have an overwhelming uphill climb, but if you've even been following even a little while, you'll enjoy some of the wonderful things revealed here (thank Mister Revise for that Pythagorean theorem, buddy) while one character really makes a big impact.  It was good to see Dex finally explain everything he's been leading up to as well.  Just a wonderful pay off for a wonderful crossover between the two titles.

"Transformers: All Hail Megatron" #12

Transformers: All Hail Megatron #12 (IDW Publishing)

Speaking of conclusive conflicts, Optimus Prime and Megatron do battle in the streets of Manhattan as the world stands ready to come crashing down around them.  A nuclear bomb is in the belly of a Decepticon and all hell is breaking loose.  There's an amazing sequence with Omega Supreme doing battle against Devastator next to the Statue of Liberty, while a nice subplot bears fruit effectively and Optimus Prime gives one of those speeches that you can just hear Peter Cullen delivering with gravitas and an inspirational score.  From action scenes to denouement, things go well and here, it doesn't matter if you're just stepping on board, as the battle between good and evil is drawn in lines of dialogue and facial expressions.  Despite the many, many, many negative things people are saying about the movie, things look good on the comics.  

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

Not a lot to buy, but surely bang for your buck.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

If you read "Dark Wolverine" #75, you'll find out that Logan's son is a whole other kind of animal, subtly influencing people around him for his own reasons.  A Wolverine who's a planner? That's dangerous and interesting indeed.  This issue was just shy of making its way home, as Daken didn't do enough to illustrate the motives behind his personality or give himself something to do beyond boredom.  Very, very interesting stuff.

Speaking of pleasant surprises, the golden-haired Black Widow reveals some things about herself in "Thunderbolts" #133, and the Ghost also has a zany bit of revelation as well.  The things that were needed from Daken are on display here, but there wasn't as much plot development and despite the very fun last page, this was close to the mark and remains worth watching.

Get yourself introduced to Doctor Voodoo in "New Avengers" #54, as he chats with his dead ... brother?  Right, well, he's probably not completely crazy and he makes a solid showing for himself against a fairly serious threat.  So this issue had that going ... but then it devolved into some kind of PR war with Norman Osborn, and it's not hard to guess how that would go.  So kudos for the first part and "meh" for the end.

"Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink" #2 was good, but not as good as the first issue as the tyro hero struggles with his public persona as well as challenges on the home front.  The action worked, the story was solid, but it didn't really gel as well as it did last month.  Still interesting.  

"Avengers: The Initiative" #25 is another cute "the world's turned upside down" bit with Taskmaster taking over for Gauntlet and The Hood taking over the whole newly-named Camp HAMMER.  Which, again, was fun but didn't really do anything new.  The gag is solid and reliable but getting easy to see -- the shock on "real heroes" faces when they realize what's happening, the steely determination of other heroes to topple Osborn's regime, the transitory loyalty of the bad guys ... what else can this shtick show us?  Branch out, be brave.  

Mon-El goes on another travelogue, spending a page per international hero in "Superman" #689, which (if these characters were ever developed into something -- the British pair seemed to have room for some interesting development) and if you could refer back to this and say "here's where we first saw Blah Blah," that might be cool.  But like that "Planet DC" shtick where a bunch of people popped up and were never seen again (not even a berth in the Global Guardians), this feels like a clip show for episodes that will never air.  We could have gotten some poignancy about Mon-El discovering how to live while he's waiting to die, but there was very little of that in all the cute art and kooky new characters.

"Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia" #1 was solidly adequate, with Norman Osborn coming to town after another guy named Trask stirs up anti-mutant sentiment.  That leads to ... well, there's no poetry reading, rest assured, and Emma has to play her part from her cabal membership.  Not bad, but suffering from the same problem the "Initiative" title did.  

Matt Murdock's a bit of a patsy in "Daredevil" #119, much like he is in "Daredevil: Noir" with just a bit less gullibility.  Again, Wilson Fisk moves people like chess pieces, people get kicked in the face ... all very good for noirish crime info, but not taking the risks that this series needs to avoid treading water.

The war is on and there are boots on the ground in "Nova" #26, as Richard Ryder is back and he's here to save the freakin' day.  As best as he can, of course, because his Nova Corps is dangerously undertrained, woefully underarmed and completely surrounded.  Ryder's actions are heroic and inspiring enough, but literally every other character stood around like they were a Los Angeles Laker in a game where Kobe decides they can't play.

The CBR preview of "Secret Warriors" #5 gave away some of the issue's best writing, as Nick Fury goes after a McGuffin that's not that special.  This issue was all right, but Hydra could have made a better showing of itself and again there wasn't a lot of characterization for anybody without an eyepatch.  

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

"Teen Titans" #72, "Dark Avengers" #6, "Wonder Woman" #33, "G.I. Joe" #6, "X-Factor" #45

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

Parker Robbins fakes it 'till he makes it in "Dark Reign: The Hood" #2, but his chatter with that gimpy looking guy slowed things down and the one moment of truth he had about telling his wife the truth happened way too fast.  A disappointment.

"Dark Reign: The Sinister Spider-Man" #1 was weird.  Sure, Gargan likes to eat people and he's murderous, but ... so?  On artwork this vague it was dull and dry.  

What the heck happened in "Dark Reign: Zodiac" #1?  Really?  Nekra's daughter?  Could she have been on panel for less time?  The guy in the suit and the crappy mask?  Why should anybody pay attention to him?  Just ... no, just stop it, especially with art that blocky and coloring that muddy.  

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Less bad than not feeling like it tried very hard.  That's only "so-so."

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Things were okay ... and there was only eight bucks in expenditures?  Call that a winner, fool.

THE BUSINESS

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 will have something to say on Bastille Day

TAGS:  the buy pile, review, the literals, transformers: all hail megatron

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