The Buy Pile

Thu, June 24th, 2010 at 11:58am PDT

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 JUNE 23RD, 2010

Here's the funny thing about that -- nothing was good enough to buy. There's not a single new comic that came out this week that really stood up to the standards of this column.

Which is not to say that nothing was purchased -- going to a comic book store, reading a bunch of stuff and then not buying anything is rude. There was a reprint that came out this week -- "Astro City" #1 -- which cost just one buck. That's an amazing value for a richly nuanced and brilliantly done comic book ... that came out years ago. It's a testament to why "Astro City" is still on the Buy Pile today. Really, "Astro City" #1 is freaking brilliant.

However, that was just a buck and taxes. Still a little light. So, "Legion of Super-Heroes" #2 has something that many considered impossible: the return of Tyroc. Admittedly, he went out like a punk, the primary antagonist here had a motivation that -- at best -- was paper thin ... but the tension between human xenophobes and the Legion (including Earth Man, with his secret Green Lantern ring) was done pretty well. The characters were good, the plot just needed some more "oomph." If not for charity, this issue would not have made the jump.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

So, essentially, that's just under six bucks for a 50 percent success rate, and that singular success is a reprint. Not a good sign, especially given that in seven years of The Buy Pile, this has never happened before.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Incorruptible" #7 wasn't as good as the last two issues, but it was pretty decent, featuring the lead character working his way through the challenges of being a hero, especially after being such a jackass to so many people. Still a series worth watching.

If you like creepy, mean storytelling, "Joker's Asylum: Killer Croc" #1 delivers as the reptilian villain breaks out of Arkham to become a mob enforcer and gets in much deeper than he expected. The story has some unexpected twists almost worthy of Ed Brubaker's "Criminal" but had some fairly unremarkable artwork and an abrupt ending.

"Namora" #1 was likewise "not bad," playing on an old science fiction favorite of "being careful what you ask for" as the amphibian heroine discovers some old friends and a much older problem. It was a little predictable and had Namora playing like a smarter version of her much more hotheaded kinsman, but was at least "TV good."

"G.I. Joe: Operation HISS" #5 followed the energy of the movie very closely, addressing the threat of a multi-continental Cobra threat and the very personal threat of Major Bludd. It wasn't great, with serviceable artwork and action that didn't leap off the page, but it wasn't bad.

The much-ballyhooed "Justice League: Generation Lost" #4 took an unexpected twist that echoed the sentiments of a sunglasses-wearing John Belushi, but did so in a strange way. Regardless of the delivery method, analog or digital, it's just "okay" and has none of the charm of the JLI despite the Yakov Smirnoff-esque stylings of a home grown Rocket Red.

"Angel" #34 had a lot of sex. When gods get horny, apparently, it can make a whole neighborhood horny. That was kind of funny. Not so much so you'd need to buy it, in that even the raciest scenes were tame enough to appear on network TV in the earliest parts of prime time.

The middle story in "Superman" #700, written by Dan Jurgens, was very cute, a quaint story involving Robin that would have played well as an episode of the animated series. As a comic, especially sandwiched in between two stories of lesser quality (especially the last one, which would have played well in the 70s along side "Hard Traveling Heroes" but seems a little saccharine today), not so much.

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

"Ultimate Comics Avengers 2" #4, "Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne" #3, "Killer: Modus Vivendi" #3, "Amazing Spider-Man" #635 (when's the last time Spider-Man was actually "amazing" in this series), "Detective Comics" #866, "Avengers" #2, "Buck Rogers" #12, "X-Factor" #206, "Power Girl" #13, "Powers" #5, "God Complex" #7, "Supergirl" #53, "Fantastic Four" #580, "Zatanna: #2, "Garrison" #3, "Air" #22 and "Secret Warriors" #17.

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

Red Hulk doesn't explain why his mustache disappears in "Hulk" #23, but he does whine at great length about his limp origin story and jamming in some retroactively goofy story elements to try and explain things people complained about. A failure on many, many levels.

"Green Arrow" #1 introduced some weirdo rich female corporate villainess from Russia (inspired by Mikhail Prokhorov in some strange way, perhaps?) who has some pages from the Justine Hammer playbook. The mystic forest angle didn't do much outside of provide room for hamfisted exposition, the tail end introduced an element that could only be dumb. Not good work at all.

"Iron Man Legacy" #3 has one of the most disturbing scenes you'll see in comics this year. An image that will haunt you. An image that just ain't right at all. Disturbing information.

In this issue of "Sliders," er, "Exiles," er "Authority: The Lost Year" #9 ... well, let's just say that people who are not named "Giffen" and "DeMatteis" should not try "bwa-ha-ha" styled characters. Really, this kooky alternate Authority thing fell flat.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Nothing good enough to make the jump, a cross-dressing billionaire, a dude growing back his own severed hands ... dude, it was rough out there.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

No real purchases, tedious reads ... dude, this week kind of stank.

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.

Oh, and there's blogging too: I'm back with a newly unified blogging platform thanks to (yes, I'm eating crow for even saying this) WordPress and the theme-adapting styles of Suuru Designs at the Soapbox. That's where you'll find Commentary Track blogs on these reviews, normally within a day or two of their publication. Enjoy, you bastards.

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