The Buy Pile

Thu, July 29th, 2010 at 11:58am PDT | Updated: July 29th, 2010 at 3:37pm

Comic Books
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (journalist/blogger/novelist/poet/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 JULY 28TH, 2010

"G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds" #3
G.I. Joe: Hearts & Minds
(IDW Publishing)
Jump from the Read Pile. As I noted on the Extremely Early Forecast for the Buy Pile (now happening on a weekly basis on my website for mobile devices), I didn't plan to buy anything today.  However, going to a place of business and spending any time there without buying anything is extraordinarily rude, so something had to come home, and this dose of creepiness was what ended up working.  In this issue, the boringly named Interrogator breaks out of the depths of obscurity to showcase some skills that'd make Bobby Goren give and Earl Nod and clap appreciatively.  The problem is that all he does is talk.  It's him in a room with a captured soldier and a video screen.  Then, for the second half, Deep Six is apparently some wildly emo wackjob with a more morose version of Tripwire's fascination with death.  He spends most of his time dreaming about ways he could die horribly while doing his duty, pausing just long enough to kill some people.  Weird stuff, not as compelling as the previous two issues, but surely interesting.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

A charity jump?  Oy. Let's move on.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

Sure, technically they might be godly zombies, but the Disir are a credible threat in "Thor" #612, even though all of a sudden the Asgardians have gotten much less powerful with the fall of their eternal city, sending just two of the Norse divinities into the maw of Mephisto's realm to do battle with their culture's equivalent of boogeymen.  Sure, the two are the god of war Tyr and the god of thunder Thor, but still.  The character play between Tyr and Thor showed some real development and Mephisto couldn't be more delightful if he was played by Ray Wise.  Still, for all those great character moments, the plot was less than driven and the brief conflict between gods and Disir was unsatisfying.  

Do you like Jason Statham's "Transporter" movies but just wish they had some kind of supernatural element to them?  Well, here's "Driver for the Dead" #1 to deliver essentially that, right down to the terse punchlines.  If there's some kind of unserved niche audience waiting for an action movie/supernatural story crossover, well, they'll be well served with the decent development of the supporting characters, but this was surely nothing special.  

"Artifacts" #1 is a decent set up to a big crossover, behaving like the first ten minutes of an hour-long television show.  It had some interesting splash pages and talked in very general terms about mystic items and terrible portents.  However, would you pay for the first ten minutes of an hour long TV show?  Right.

The best thing about "Ultimate Comics Mystery" #1 was Ultimate Captain Marvel, who's actually terribly funny and had a wonderful straight man in Ultimate Wendell Vaughan.  Unfortunately, the comedy between those two isn't enough to carry the work, even though Ben Grimm's got a brand new bag and Spiders talk a lot, none of which did much to make this comic compelling.  

"Incorruptible" #8 has a new Jailbait and she's freaking out along the way.  Max Damage's exasperated nature in developing his relationship with her as the Diamond Gang feels like they're inspired by the Plutonian and have a source of information that's really good.  Things are close but they don't really gel together as they should.  

There's some really funny, really entertaining dialogue in "Batman: The Widening Gyre" #6, including some moves that would be really impressive from a less serious character...but here, they make the Bat seem like a rank amateur, given the events that occur in the final third of the issue.  Really, making Bruce Wayne a dumbass on that scale doesn't work, it just suspends disbelief too far.  

If you like USA series like "White Collar," you'll like this issue of "Amazing Spider-Man Presents the Black Cat" #2, which plays like an episode of a series on the USA Network...or part of one.  With a complex heist at its core (nice misdirection from Miss Hardy) and multiple disparate identities in play, it was "TV Good" (good if you're flipping through channels, but for actual money...maybe not), at least.

"Jack of Fables" #46 brought the series back from sub par into at least mediocrity with the deadliness of the Page Sisters.  Unfortunately there was too little of them and too many dumb jokes with the titular character as a dragon while his son's built a name as a planet-hopping hero yet still has no discernible personality to note.  

Steve Rogers may honestly be in over his head in "Secret Avengers" #3 as Mars gets oxygen in its atmosphere while Richard Rider gets taken over by some kind of alien intelligence.  The team dynamic is a little off and the scope of the story's gotten weird with interdimensional Confederate soldiers.  Wait, what?  Drifting away from its strengths here.

"Northlanders" #30 was pretty good tale of cultures clashing as foul-mouthed Christian missionaries bring their silver coins and their overbearing condescension to a Nordic community in a hard place economically.  This leads to one man drawing a line in the sand in a way that's kind of interesting, but the pacing would be better suited for a long form work than a monthly periodical.  

"Pilot Season: Stellar" #1 was a very tight focus on a radiation-spewing superwoman from the stars who's desperate to live down her past.  There are a number of impediments to that and some challenges caused by the generic nature of her plight, but it's not a bad piece of work for all that.  

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

"Justice League: Generation Lost" #6, "Fear Agent" #28, "Outsiders" #31, "Avatar of the Futurians" #1, "Green Lantern Corps" #50, "After Dark" #1, "Green Arrow" #2, "The Rising" #0, "Green Lantern" #56, "Ryder On The Storm" #0, "Gotham City Sirens" #14, "Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor" #4, "Deadpool Team-Up" #891, "Teen Titans" #85, "Fantastic Four" #581, "Wonder Woman" #601, "Amory Wars: Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3" #3, "Authority: The Lost Year" #11, "Garrison" #4, "Angel" #35, "Unknown Soldier" #22, "Star Trek: Burden of Knowledge" 32 and "Uncanny X-Men" #526.

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

Unto every iconic Green Lantern there shall come a time to turn, and "Justice League of America" #47 has Alan Scott in the Parallax armor (seriously) possessed by the Starheart (which suddenly has sentience and ambitions) and wielding Obsidian and Dr. Fate like Metroplex wielded Scamper and Slammer.  First of all, given Alan Scott's often remarked upon will power, that's ridiculous.  Second, what possible reason would Alan Scott have for getting all  Emerald Knight with the armor there?  Third, between the three teams (yes, two JSA teams and the League) there's not a solution?  It's so retrograde that it's saddening.  

"Mindfield" #2 completely squandered the momentum of the first issue with a plot that meandered from C-SPAN to "Push," never settling on what it needed to do while jamming in more navel-gazing than needs to happen in a new property that hasn't had time to say much to a reader.  The characters got lost, the plot got lost and it's like Toonces the Driving Cat was in charge.  What the heck?

Lex Luthor has the scene all to himself, but "Action Comics" #891 has him engaged in some fruitless delusion at the hands of...not even the actual Mr. Mind, but some asexual progeny?  Lex - you deserve better.  He comes off as some kind of novelty act, not one of the world's pre-eminent minds.  Extraordinarily tedious.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Meh.  It coulda been worse, but it wasn't exactly an enjoyable mound of sequential art.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Honestly said?  The week's load of comics was kind of terrible.  

THE BUSINESS

By the time you get this, last week's lost reviews should be online at my blog.  No idea what happened there.  Sorry.

By now, you likely have heard the big announcement I was so jazzed about last week.  "Watchmen" producer Lloyd Levin and "Shopgirl" producer Andrew Sugerman are joining "Eureka" creator Andrew Cosby and "Matrix" effects coordinator Ken Locsmandi to bring Stranger Comics' "The Untamed" to the silver screen.  This dark fantasy property is a personal favorite of mine, and I'm even blogging with Stranger Comics in preparation for the day when I might have an announcement of my own to share with you.  In the mean time, you can check out the first issue for free on the Stranger Comics website.  

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.  Also, if you're so impatient that you can't wait on Wednesday nights (hopefully by 9PM), you can get an "Early Forecast" of what's going into the column on the Operative Network Mobile Edition.  Enjoy, you bastards.

TAGS:  the buy pile, review

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