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 JULY 8TH, 2009
Jump from the Read Pile. Let's get the problems out of the way -- the cover and all reveals that it's Starro (yes, the thing that menaced Snapper Carr's JLA) out laying the smackdown on whole interstellar systems. Why? No telling -- despite the rippling humanoid physique and an axe that'd make Frank Frazetta proud, "Starro the Conqueror" has zero raison d'etre, no real "hook" to make an impression past the Grant Morrison version. Frustrating, that. But this issue made the jump and made it happen by returning to the strength that made the first issue so fantastic, the whole hook of the series: Vril Dox is so much of a jerk, the New Boyz should make a song about him. His Khund friend Amon Hakk summed the common feeling about him up with this sentence: "I hate him so much I can't think straight ..." How does Dox respond? "Yes, I get that a lot." Effortlessly displaying his brilliance, his foresight, his preparation and his gall, the lead here deals Starro a master stroke with a phone call, all while we get a very quick but effective tour of local space and players that may come up down the road. Snarky, smart and solid all around.
Jump from the Read Pile. Lots of problems can come up when everyone's keeping secrets, and they all start to come out this issue. Blood's spilled, people get yelled at and the characters take in a meeting next to a piece of the Berlin Wall. Along the way we find out how different this world is -- no second term for Nixon, Iran swallowed by earthquake and fire, Viet Nam drastically shortened and all kinds of other craziness. When you take in Juan Jose Ryp's delightfully detailed artwork (great inverted angle on the office scene) and the strong coloring of Digikore Studios, you get a well told chapter that carries a lot of the narrative weight of previous ones while not getting bogged down.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
In a more crowded week, one or two of these may have had more of a fight. This week, it was easy for them to win.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" #1 was a very good done-in-one western comic. If you like western comics, this will get 'er done for you in a major way -- great art, solid atmosphere, good dialogue and good action. If you like westerns.
"War of Kings: Warriors" was okay, with the Gladiator story better than the Blastaar one (although the "twist" was well done), but it made both characters more pointless in a way, which may not have been the goal.
The ending of "G.I. Joe: Origins" #5 may seem a little glib in the face of what people are experiencing, the action scenes work and the banter between Heavy Duty (who's so obviously Roadblock that it's not even funny) and Rock 'n Roll is pretty good, but Chimera and his men remain too enigmatic to work.
"Elephantmen War Toys: Yvette" was short, brutal and to the point, but didn't have enough story meat to really convey anything crucial about the characters here. Atmospherically, it was good, and as always the art did the job, but the story felt thin. More about that in a minute.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Booster Gold" #22, "Dark X-Men: Beginning" #1, "Green Arrow/Black Canary" #22, "Ms. Marvel" #41, "North 40" #1, "Mangalicious Tick" #1, "Superman: World of New Krypton" #5 and "Unwritten" #3.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
Imagine you're on a date with someone. They're cute, they're smiling at you, and you sit down to order some food. Right before the waiter comes in, they stand up and say, "Well, see you next week!" That's what every individual segment of "Wednesday Comics" #1 was like, at the appalling price of $3.99. In American money. Not rupees or pesos or something you'd have to look up the exchange rate for, no. Weirdest of all that with some of the creators on deck, the best piece in here is Kyle Baker's Sam Wilson-esque turn on "Hawkman." So weird, no idea why so many people are excited about this ...
If you like whining and self indulgent blather,"Batman" #688 has Dick Grayson continuing to prove why he's "Diet Batman" in an issue that did nothing to give him a legend for a dark knight.
Finally, Tim Drake, er, Wayne going stark raving bat**** crazy in "Red Robin" #2 would be entertaining enough, even with the phone call he took at the end, if this wasn't a clear line from the last page of "Final Crisis" through a series of "clues" (fitting to have some old character around to point out) that'll eventually lead to the return of a licensed character. Nothing to see here.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
It's a wash in a week where almost everybody seems to have taken time off.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Cheap buys that worked, a wash on the read side, that's a thin way to win, but you take 'em as you get 'em.
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.
However, there is no such thing as The Hundred and Four.