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 28TH, 2010
A chuckle-inducing done-in-one story mired in the depths of rural north Georgia, Deadpool's still stumbling his way through the pratfalls of nascent heroism. That this involves guns and crooked cops and a big hick with a bank of car batteries strapped to his body (seriously) could be stupid in other hands, but when done understanding its stupidity, it can also be hilarious. There's a busty girl, pouring rain, and the theme song from "The Dukes of Hazzard" -- Daniel Way strings them together with skill and comic delicacy, and the artwork from Tan Eng Huat and Marte Gracia aptly services the story. Solid entertainment here.
Jump from the Read Pile. Max Damage is another guy who's not wholly comfortable with heroism, so when he turns a hostage rescue into a clandestine ruse to rescue the only person who's important to him, the story takes an unexpected emotional twist that goes a long way towards making Max a character the reader can relate to and opens this issue up for its gripping conclusion. Surprisingly effective work here from Mark Waid on scripting duties with Horatio Domingues and Andrew Dalhouse making the artwork shine.
Tony Stark's got a new brain ... and he doesn't remember Dark Reign, “Secret Invasion,” “Civil War” or half of the crossovers that have vexed the 616 universe in recent years. He's bothered to read up on what's happened and to say that he's not happy with how things went would be an understatement. Meanwhile, Justine and Sasha Hammer may not have Roxxon anymore but they are itching for a chance to get into the military technology field and they're comfortable with the idea of a hippier, less-military-minded Tony Stark. It's possible that some of this was planned a long, long time ago ("I'll pay you another million to scrape the dots off the logos"), which makes this much more delicious. The only part that seemed ... well, if not odd then strangely disaffected was Thor's final statement to Tony, which just seemed ridiculously cavalier and indifferent to so many areas of real heroism that it's almost shocking. Detroit Steel, also, looked like he escaped from Alva Industries. Outside of that one odd note, however, this is top notch character work otherwise (while admitting that it was largely talking heads).
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
All good here.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Siege: Secret Warriors" #1 was best when focused on Ares' son Alexander, desperate to redeem his father's honor after being ... well, unlike some comics this week, there's no need to spoil the events of "Siege." In any case, when Alexander sets his mind to something, he's difficult to dissuade. On the other hand, Nick Fury and Steve Rogers catching up on old times while in the middle of life-and-death combat between gods and super villains ... that didn't work out as well. If this whole issue could have stayed with Alexander, well, we might have had something. Oh well.
Hank Pym wrestles with his legacy and his failures in "Mighty Avengers" #36, which again brushes against the details of the big crossover miniseries, but despite the emotional hand wringing, the conclusion never seemed in doubt because the story has played out the same way so many times. It was a familiar trip, but it wasn't unpleasant getting there.
"Angel" #32 was strong on character but its scattered plot left a weird status quo as a vampire factory is hard at work in a flawed City of, ironically, Angels. If you know the characters, you'll be fine, but people not enmeshed in the mythos might get lost with some fairly vague artistic offerings.
"Husk" #1 never seemed like it wanted to be a comic book when it grew up. Heavy with prose and short on visual storytelling, it seemed much better suited for prose than sequential art. A story focused on suits of powered armor that had little of the ability to visually awe or amaze, with mecha whose lines seemed as beige and uninspired as your average Invid soldier or mid 1990s computer. Ambitious but deeply flawed.
When you see the Silver Serpent make its appearance, with all of the shock and size of a "Battle of the Planets" scene of devastation, "Wonder Woman" #43 seemed like it could have gotten something right. But then when Achilles steals his shtick from the Strontian Gladiator (he himself derivative of the 70s LSH), or when that commando gorilla popped back up, or the meaningless build up for an antagonist for Diana was ... well, it's surely no "Secret Six," that's for certain.
There's no actual Thor in "Thor" #609, which (sort of) addresses the brilliant undertones developed in "Siege: Loki" and made good on some aspects of Asgardian divinity, but it was a collection of good scenes that didn't necessarily make a story.
"G.I. Joe: Cobra 2" #4 was all right, as Chuckles continues his one-man war against Cobra and for the first time the Joe team gets some solid intel. As with "Angel," the art didn't go a long way to help here, doing allrght in telling the story but not as well on distinguishing the characters or the setting. And that was one weird ending.
"Ultimate Comics Avengers 2" #1 was -- like "Last Stand of New Krypton" -- great when it did what was working. Ultimate Frank Castle was amazingly effective, a dedicated engine of murder and mayhem. But once Nick Fury got involved, it all went pear-shaped and even Ultimate Frank agreed with an ending that verged on being insulting.
"Transformers" #6 had some interesting dialogue moments and the return of Menasor, but the internecine struggles between parties who should theoretically be on the same side didn't seem to add up. The action scenes also seemed a little intimate for the size of the parties involved, but Optimus Prime lathers on his traditional doses of inspiration and courage, which many enjoy.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Fraggle Rock" #1, "Action Comics" #889, "Green Hornet" #3, "Detective Comics" #864, "Invincible" #71, "Gotham City Sirens" #11, "Amazing Spider-Man" #629, "Green Lantern Corps" #47, "Captain America" #605, "Justice Society of America" #38 (Nazis again, huh?), "Fall of the Hulks: Red Hulk #4, "Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal" #2, "Fantastic Four" #578, "Superman" #699, "Iron Man: Public Identity" #1, "Tank Girl: The Royal Escape" #2, "Teen Titans" #82, "Web" #8, "Garrison" #1, "Jack of Fables" #45, "New Avengers" #64, "A-Team War Stories: Murdock" #1, "Scalped" #37, "X-Force" #26, "Unknown Soldier" #19, "Thunderbolts" #143 and "Aladdin: Legacy of The Lost" #3.
No, just ... no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Outsiders" #29 never had a chance. It started off with a vampire super model. Oy. From there, it moved on to an antagonist named -- and this is not a typo -- Stake. Vampire. Versus a guy named "Stake." Really. In this day and age. Wow. That's ... that's really terrible. Wow.
If the first half of "Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton" #3 was indicative of the entire comic book, it would have been a winner. With artwork that verged on being epic from Pete Woods, crashing down to New Krypton with a sense of grandeur. Unfortunately, the second half plods and builds Zod up in a way that's less than elegant, Braniac doesn't quite live up to his world-conquering reputation and this crossover is never ending. The tail end of it killed the good part.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
If the God of Fear, the God of Mischief, The Silver Serpent and Ultimate Frank Castle had their way, this could have been really great. As it was, it was tolerable but not admirable.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Three very solid purchases still beat a literal mountain of "meh" and associated misfires. Not by much, though.
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.
Also: a big thank you to the comic book publishers who've been kind enough to send PDF review copies, as it allows more time for more comics to get read.
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.