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 MAY 19TH, 2010
It's a brave new Heroic Age with the names of decades before once again standing as paragons of public virtue. That's just fine and dandy...except for Deadpool, who wasn't doing so well at being a hero when things were all "grim an' gritty" and stands even less of a chance with the likes of Steve Rogers running around again. When this leads to even drunken morons defaming Deadpool's character on television, suffice it to say it gives him some ideas...for propositions. The humor's not as fast and furious as some issues, but this is a solid issue of this series and it launches a storyline that sets the character off in an interesting direction and makes nice use of some of his history as well.
Jump from the Read Pile.
Weaving together strands of story elements planted in previous issues (good, but not as good as this), the script by Nick Roche and James Roberts ties up all loose threads, from Garrus-9 all the way back to the blue-green marble we affectionately call home, completed with a framing device that's effective and emotional. That's not to say that there's any shortage of high octane violence. Roche and Josh Burcham use effective imagery and clearer coloring (although the backgrounds wouldn't be hurt by a little bit of differentiation) to depict the brutal, murderous environment of the prison planet, emphasizing heroic rescues, glorious deaths and noble sacrifices. Quite a pleasant surprise, this one.
As near as anybody can tell, Tony Stark is a son of a b****. He's done some really messed up things, and in doing so, he's made some very rich and powerful enemies, including the progeny of Justin Hammer and the mysterious Spymaster. However, it may have also sown the seeds for his corporate revival and given him the keys to revitalize his fortunes. The action here is kind of an afterthought, and sure, this is more Aaron Sorkin than Michael Bay, but that doesn't mean it isn't entertaining nonetheless.
Jump from the Read Pile.
This column has a weakness for the future. There's no questioning that. Now that the man who solidified the legend of the Legion is back at the helm, there's a number of things that are apparent. First of all, Paul Levitz knows how to write a story. The skill and craft with which characters are introduced is really remarkable, balancing a fairly large cast and a set of complicated plot points with deftness and delicacy. The planet-spanning artwork of Yildiray Cinar and Wayne Fauchner (with vibrant colors from Hi-Fi) works well in depicting unusual spaces (the scene with Saturn Girl and her mentor was really nice, as was Dawnstar's rapid flight) with interesting detail. A great start to yet another new beginning for the decades-old property.
It's a handbook. Of course it's on the Buy Pile. It has crystal clear facts and authoritative reference. It also covers some really interesting characters (Imus Champion could be a really big, multi-property antagonist, Leonard Tippit's a time bomb waiting to go off, and Elfqueen's running loose somewhere) while also shining a light on some really, really stupid things too (why would the guy who bossed Moonhunter around wanna turn a whole Massachusetts town into werewolves? Also, has there ever been a character as dumb as Phone Ranger?). It's either a sneak peek at what Marvel has coming up in the future or just a wacky travelogue through some of the crazy ideas of yesteryear.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Nothing wrong in that batch of comics.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
Getting back to Paul Levitz, his experience in storytelling comes through in "Superman/Batman" #72, which flips the "Knight Time" story from the Animated Series and sends the Dark Knight Detective into Metropolis when Lois goes missing and her husband's spaceborne. Again, the craft of storytelling is solid but the story elements aren't exactly anything new (and the threat to Lois borders on being ridiculous in the style of the Silver Age's excesses).
Speaking of fairly familiar ideas, "G.I. Joe" #18 takes a training exercise and makes it a lot more exciting than most people planned, giving Cover Girl a chance to shine and pushing along Cobra's MASS device shtick, itself borrowed from the animated series (remember when Cobra needed the heavy water and was shooting lasers under the sea?). Not bad, but again, not great.
"Avengers" #1 wasn't bad, bringing Kang forth talking about another menace behind the curtain. Or not. The team dynamics, the esprit de corps created by Steve Rogers' symbolic gestures...all of that works well enough (again) as individual parts without combining to create a greater aggregate work.
There was an end to things in "Anchor" #8, which featured an unlikely team up and a mano-a-devil-o fight with the Morningstar himself. The artwork made Hell look a little bit goofy, which detracted from some of the seriousness of what was happening, but it was an okay comic book.
"Kill Shakespeare" #2 was an improvement over the first issue, introducing Iago as a wonderfully compelling element and ramping up the threat to King Richard the Third's domain. Still, the story elements are a little too jumbled to properly gel into a proper whole, but there are more effective elements at work this time.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Azreal" #8, "Atlas" #1, "Zatanna" #1, "Age of Heroes" #1, "Ex Machina" #49, "Air" #21, "Girl Comics" #2, "God Complex" #6, "Rescue" #1, "Haunt" #7, "X-Factor" #205, "Jersey Gods" #12 and "Enter the Heroic Age" #1 (although, admittedly, the Hawkeye and Widow stories were okay).
No, just...no ... These comics? Not so much ...
"Brightest Day" #2 was more "trailers masquerading as story bits" which also had the weird distinction of having a whole lot more Martian Manhunter than one might expect, given that Aquaman's on the cover (and he had maybe two or three pages worth of time in the whole comic).
"Amazing Spider-Man Presents American Son" #1 wasn't...well, it wasn't terrible, but it had the fun distinction of spoiling the events of "Age of Heroes" #2 (can it be a spoiler if you don't really care what happened?)...which is odd since "Age of Heroes" #1 came out this week. Seriously, what's up with that?
BRRRRRING! BRRRRRING! Hello? What's that? Oh. All right. Uh...is there a "DC Universe Legacies" #1 here? A comic called "Marvels" is on the phone, they seem to want their shtick back, minus the dirtbag slant. Yeah, they don't want that.
The WTH? Award is back for "Justice League of America" #45. Alan's last page, Jade in a meteorite, angry armored Germans...really...WTH?
Almost everything you need to know about why "Galacta: Daughter of Galactus" #1 was terrible can be found on the character's Twitter page. If you thought meaningless prattle from humans was bad, wait until you find a character that makes Norrin Radd's old whining bouts about Zenn-La sound like rocking out to "Holy Diver" (rest in peace, Ronnie James Dio). Bah.
The good part of "Superman: War of the Supermen" #3 is that it further treated New Krypton's populace like they were a hotel maid and the Earth was Kobe Bryant in Colorado. The bad news...well, aside from the disturbing solar hijinks which (if they actually happened) would doom humanity to a rather painful death, the destruction of wonders of the modern world (really? Not NORAD? Not 10 Downing Street?) and the relentlessly stupid involvement of Will Magnus...and G.I. freaking Robot. This is supposed to be a 100-minute war, one that happens so quickly that most extrahumans don't have time to get involved...but earth's defenders took the time to dig up one of Checkmate's rooks? Spirit.
"Ultimate Comics Avengers 2" #2 posits the idea that Bruce Banner was inspired by a crippled Black man who happened to be a genius in genetics and radiation. However, once he became gamma irradiated into becoming a kind of proto-Hulk (really, seriously)...and became an international gangster and philandering thug who left his family behind. That's not an insulting stereotype at all...oy.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
It was actually pretty crappy, overall. The horrible stuff way outweighed the "meh" stuff and the Honorable Mentions that, at best, got to "not bad."
WINNERS AND LOSERS
Dude...there was a lotta crappy stuff here. Gotta call "malarkey" on this one, yo.
Eighty five years ago on Wednesday, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Just sayin' is all ...
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.
The blog thing will be back...sooner or later. For real. Shut up!