The Buy Pile

Thu, April 15th, 2010 at 12:28pm PDT | Updated: April 15th, 2010 at 1:43pm

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

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 APRIL 14TH, 2010

"Siege: Loki"
Siege: Loki
(Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
Wow. Sure, you can complain about a limited amount of action here (but what action does occur, wow, the real eternal death of gods and Loki in action as he's rarely been seen before), but the real value here is in the simple moments, as the title character stares down eastern European dictators and eternal demons, makes deals with the devil and yearns for the one thing so many have sought. "Freedom is the only thing worth anything," Loki said at one point, and to achieve it he would raze hell 'til the heavens fall. Riveting work from the makers of "Phonogram," Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, with the help of Nathan Fairbairn on colors.

"Hellcyon" #1
Hellcyon #1
(Dark Horse Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
With the charm of a good Robotech story and the fast paced kineticism of a top-notch action movie, all from the mind and creative hands of Lucas Marangon. With a splash of Heinlein, a touch of "Genesis Climber MOSPEADA," a hint of "Akira" and a whole lotta gunfire, a ragtag group of miscreants and misfits who stand against the whole corporate/military establishment of humankind. With a bubblegum core and really well developed sci fi chops for clothing, this was a pleasant surprise. Can it keep it up? We'll see...

"Fables" #94
Fables #94
(Vertigo/DC Comics)

Who is Colin Piggy, really? This issue doesn't answer the question, but there's trouble on the farm as Pinochio's "parents" aren't happy to see each other. That part takes up a little more of the issue than it should, giving the surprisingly important dinner party at Wolf Manor and Ozma's explanation less room than they might have deserved. Still, the Dark Man got to show his stuff, The Beast made an interesting deal and for some reason a naked were-fox is happy to be on the loose. Interesting stuff in another "building steam" issue, but it satisfies nonetheless.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

That's three very solid comic books there. Great start to the week.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

Starting off in the "interesting idea, challenged execution" column, "Kill Shakespeare" #1 posits the idea of a world where Prince Hamlet and Richard The Third can exchange words and William Shakespeare is a mythical figure, part wizard and part threat to the English throne. The assemblage of characters is an interesting idea, but Hamlet took way too long to get anywhere interesting and the pacing could use a swift kick in the pants. Still, probably the most ambitious idea on the stands this week.

Dick Grayson isn't bad in the cowl as the Riddler comes to play in "Batman" #698. There's a trail of bodies and Grayson doesn't make the best detective in the world, which Eddie Nygma starts to figure out...but does he have enough time to put together the pieces? The mystery's not strong enough but the characters are, so this is worth watching if not buying.

"Black Widow" #1 has some interesting twirls of spycraft but ultimately spun its wheels too long. The coloring was a little dim, the focus of things strayed a bit from the very noirish opening sequence, the antagonist was a little on the Doctor Claw side, but the real emotions between Bucky and Natasha were there, as was the loyalty of her friends.

The Eisner-nominated "Chew" #10 had a really weird ending with pacing that felt a little uneven, but the bloodshed and surprises were what fans have come to expect and the connection of FDA agent Tony Chu with his journalistic love interest was well depicted.

Duke is deep, deep undercover in "G.I. Joe: Operation HISS" #3, but with everybody knowing his name, he has to go to some extraordinary lengths to avoid catching a bullet between the eyes. The last page is a bit of a surprise, but the build up is so slow that it's hard to even get there.

Missed the action in previous issues? "Human Target" #3 tosses in everything you could want with shooting and speedboats and spearguns, oh my! Sure, it was formulaic, right it had very little actual development of the plot, but the blowing up of stuff was fun.

Also in the "atmospheric but empty on content" column is the Samuel L. Jackson-inspired "Cold Space" #1, a gun-toting scoundrel in space with...well, his motivations aren't very clear...and what he's done to be wanted by the law in space...actually, there's not much of an idea about what's happening here, but it looked good.

"New Mutants" #12 has the old Xavier Academy gang going up against rabid mutant-hating soldiers under Cameron Hodge's command. The previous sentence was not teleported here from some time in the 90s, nor has it been suspended in some kind of time capsule. Not the kind from Apple. Anyhoo, let's move on...Cable and Hope are still running for their lives, which wasn't much different from every issue of "Cable," but there was less of it and the artwork looked really good.

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

"Siege: Captain America" #1, "God Complex" #5, "Action Comics" #888, "Anchor" #7, "Ultimate Comics Enemy" #3, "A-Team War Stories: Face" #1, "Adventure Comics" #10, "Siege: Young Avengers" #1, "Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor" #1, "Batgirl" #9, "Daredevil" #506, "DMZ" #52, "Iron Man Legacy" #1, "Doc Savage" #1, 'Angelus" #3, "Powers" #4, "Flash" #1, "Irredeemable Special" #1, "Magog" #8 and "Savage Axe of Ares" #1.

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

"Brightest Day" #0 was less a comic book and more a series of trailers for comics you'll one day see. Oh, and Boston Brand brings small animals back to life. Let's move on.

It's time to stop with the Deadpool. Really. "Hulked Out Heroes" #1 has time traveling Hulkpool and Ben Grimm in an eyepatch. Those are not good things to know. Really. Once upon a time, Deadpool was one of the funniest, most consistent characters in comics. Now? Diluted. Really. There was barely a smirk in this issue, and Deadpool has to, has to, has to be funny, or he's just a kook who kills people. No need for Deadpool around the Hulk.

"Green Arrow" #32 was a whole lot of melodrama for virtually no result. Nothing that happened here can't be undone in two strokes of a keyboard. Blah blah blah, talk talk talk, whine whine whine...where's this all going? Not much brightness in this day.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

The bad stuff was more an annoyance than an actual problem, a respite from past weeks, and the books read at least tried some stuff, even when it swung and missed. That's good to know.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Call it a win on the strength of some good buys and the worst of the batch not being that bad. Sure, time ran out before "Buck Rogers" or "Wolfskin: Hundredth Dream" could be read, but it is what it is, you know?

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.

There are now two official ways to get Hannibal Tabu's blog-related wisdom. For all personal things, there's Hannibal's relaunched Soapbox (where he's been participating in National Poetry Writing Month with some entries about Willie Lumpkin, Bizarro and T'chaka) 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 (and cool stuff like the Wu-Tang Venn Diagram and a review of the Nokia N900).

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