WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?
Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/karaoke host/jackass on Twitter) goes to a comic book store called Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (Overland and Braddock -- hey Steve, Jason, Vince and Quislet) 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 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 17TH, 2010
Jump from the Read Pile.
Not news: Victor Von Doom hates T'Challa, the erstwhile Black Panther. T'challa's pals with Reed Richards, runs an isolationist monarchy that the world doesn't treat as a rogue regime, has a stupidly hot wife, endless financial windfalls from his nation's technological largesse and, right, sits on ten thousand tons of pure vibranium. News: Doctor Doom has a big, big plan and has used both super-powered plenipotentiaries and a desperate group of nationalist xenophobes to stand in front of a door, having hacked through nine of the twelve locks there holding that relentlessly invaluable vibranium safe. Why now? Doom may have figured out something stupidly powerful that might give him something he's sought for most of his life. So what if lots of people had to die in the process? On the other side of the coin, T'challa and his spunky little sister find themselves on Utopia, asking for the help of Marvel's Merry Mutants. "We're on our way to rescue a queen, overthrow an evil wizard, and win back a country. Care to join us?" Uh, hell yes! With fantastic dialogue ("Get to the part where you threw your wife to the wolves," "I don't have time to play mind games with you or try and mousetrap you into opening that lock. So, we'll move straight to an incentive program") and an intricate, wonderful plot, writer Jonathan Maberry has crafted a Black Panther tale of such scope and grandeur as to rival Christopher Priest's "Enemy of the State 2." The artwork of Scot Eaton, Andy Lanning (of DnA fame?) Robert Campanella and Jean-Francois Beaulieu is solid and clear. The sole problem here is one of a supporting cast member, T'kan, who should be much more present but kind of fades into the background, even when he's the only guy on panel. Darned entertaining.
With a gallery of cover images, this comic may have telegraphed its final page (as did many, many of the advance solicitations and press) but Hera's Continuum(tm) stands revealed and there is indeed a time for gods to fall, but there's much more trouble than anyone could have anticipated here, with big, violent fight scenes and surprising twists of character (or lack thereof, depending on your perspective). Writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente deliver a tale so effective that it barely needs Hank Pym's Avengers, who happen to be along for the ride. There's pretty big spoilers to avoid here, but the artwork from Rodney Buchemi and Guillem Mari was virtually note perfect, conveying the action and the angst of this story effectively.
Jump from the Read Pile.
Is it possible to make giant robots scared, to make them feel admiration, make jokes at each other's expense or seethe with resentment? Can they brood? Can you establish an intricate plot, nodding to continuities often forgotten (hello Black Shadow), while creating an identity unique to this take on G1 Transformers? Is there a way to even jam in a "puny human" without having it be cheesy or annoying? Hearken back to the campaign, because the answer from writers Nick Roche and James Roberts is "yes we can." There's still plenty of questions left unanswered -- "Aequitas?" -- but this moves the plot forward very effectively, makes several characters stand up and be noticed and does it all with art that makes the faces expressive and intriguing (kudos to Nick Roche on pencils too -- nice -- alongside John Wycough and Josh Burcham with the artwork). This is high octane Transformers storytelling along the lines of Grimlock's origin stories, and it's really great to see it happening.
In another of his zany mood swings, Wade Wilson's in Manhattan, trying to figure out how to be a hero. Who better to take inspiration from than your friendly neighborhood web-swinger? However, most costumed confabs have to start with some kind of pugilistic misunderstanding, this time over an assassination which leads to invariable reconciliation and so on and so forth. Deadpool's three-part internal discussion plays out to his detriment (and the reader's amusement) as Daniel Way's writing just keeps getting more and more comfortable making this one of the most entertaining, offbeat titles on the market. Another fun, great issue...even with the sad involvement of Hit-Monkey.
Doctor Voodoo, Avenger of the Supernatural #5 (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Much of what happened in the issues between this one and the first one are not important -- especially the whining. No, here Dr. Jericho Drumm once again steps up to the job of Sorceror Supreme, standing back to back with a man who tried to kill him five issues ago (like how we brought that back to the good Latverian doctor?) fighting against a mystic force from realms unimaginable while magic-wielding guest stars either fall bloody by the wayside. Ghost Rider plays an interesting part, despite his own probable wishes in the matter, and at the end of the day a pretty woman wants to have a bite to eat while the ground is set for new adventures, new stories. If the interwebs are to be believed, this is the last issue, and its notable that only the two less-whiny issues made it in this column's estimation. Interesting character, fascinating set of powers, probably could have benefitted from more vibrant coloring and a slightly clearer prophecy.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Planners revealed secrets, tough guys took a stand...everything went right with this week's set of purchases.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
Max Dama...er, Max Daring continues his challenged road in "Incorruptible" #3, trying to get in good with the cops (sort of), manages to do some super-heroing (kinda) and reveals more about his motivations for going straight. Kind of interesting stuff, but not exactly jumping off the page yet.
"Dark Avengers" #14 is probably 85% talking, including a huge confrontation with a wholly, amazingly powerful being hell-bent on the murder of millions. If you like talking, that's fine, but ultmately, it's still just talking. One character in particular either needs to buy an iPod before he goes into battle or just learn to freaking man up already ("Siege" notwithstanding).
Undercover intrigues are the name of the game in "G.I. Joe Cobra Volume 2" #2, while one man pushes himself to the limits and people start to worry. Meanwhile, Cobra advances their agenda...whatever that is. Just a bit short on actual story content, but great in creating atmosphere and ambiance.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" #23 was slow to start but had a strong payoff for Phyla-Vell. The rest of the story was a little facile, with the Magus changed from the pompous disco megalomamaniac we used to know and more like a Warren Ellis character, all clever barbs and menacing energy. Which didn't go badly, but it wasn't anything to write home about.
"Die Hard Year One" #6 was "TV good," with a nice bit of character work with McClane and his partner. Nothing else really gelled though, but the streets of 1970s New York are charming enough to visit, even if you're not interested in staying long.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Daredevil" #505, "Magog" #6, "Incredible Hulk" #607, "Hunter's Fortune" #3, "Hulk" #20, "Batman" #696, "Transformers: Bumblebee" #3, "Outsiders" #27, "Amazing Spider-Man" #621, "Power Girl" #9 (great artwork, though) and "Captain America" #603.
No, just...no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Blackest Night: The Flash" #3 doesn't know how Blue Lantern rings work. Given that there's this thing called the internet, it seems pretty hard to believe that's not easier to discover. That's a big concern. Also, hugging is far more powerful than it should be. All of these things are bad.
Really, "Uncanny X-Men" #521? HX-N1? How can the man who made "Casanova" and disassembled Tony Stark be turning in this stuff?
We may as well discuss "Green Lantern" #51 and "Green Lantern Corps" #45 at the same time, because apparently The Spectre is from World Wrestling Entertainment (and is a "jobber"), which is almost as stupid as the planetary blood transfusion that...it's too much to discuss.
"Justice League of America" #42 has what looks like either New New Gods or leftover extras from "The Great Darkness Saga." That's a bad idea. Also, the weird new team dymnamics with the league jam packed with former Titans...that's not cool.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Mostly meh, so that's not a bad thing, but it ain't great.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Three jumps beats a mound of meh, so let's call this a good week.
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.
There are now two official ways to get Hannibal Tabu's blog-related wisdom. For all personal things, there's Hannibal's relaunched Soapbox and for his views on the weird, wild world there's The Hundred and Four, where I also post (mostly) weekly commentary tracks about these reviews. Well...maybe not this week, because there's a lot to do at the day gig. Good luck with that.