The Buy Pile

Thu, August 26th, 2010 at 11:58am PDT

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, and here's some common definitions used in the column) about all of that - which goes something like this ...

THE BUY PILE FOR AUGUST 25TH, 2010

NOTE: As explained in the early forecast for today's reviews (oh, those are on Hannibal's mobile site every Wednesday night, you didn't know?), Diamond screwed something up and lots of comics didn't make it to their appointed spots on shelves. That made things go very differently than planned - we apologize for any inconvenience (as going back to the store to buy Prince of Power #4 is quite an irritant for this columnist as well).

"Deadpool Team-Up" #890
Deadpool Team-Up #890 (Marvel Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile. When the comics you plan to buy are somewhere in a Diamond Truck, seeping into a drainage ditch or something, you buy what you can find that has some entertainment value. This week, that meant the return of Aaron Stack, who's mostly laid low since the end of "Nextwave." Here, he's been hired to represent an insurance company which has "sufficient evidence to hold [Deadpool] legally responsible," including videos of him shooting up a parking lot while trying to end a speedster and terribly missing the Rhino with what looks like a bazooka. On a good note, it gets a little funnier the more times you read it - not laugh out loud funny like the main series often gets, but at least chuckle worthy - the weird syntax of Machine Man doesn't kick in immediately as it did in the more nimble hands of Warren Ellis, and Deadpool's less non-stop funny and more "Seinfeld" here. Ultimately, this issue can win you over - and that's probably a good thing.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

No "Gravel" (accidentally grabbed a back issue - d'oh) no Amadeus Cho, but a decent jump. Not bad, and economical.

THIS WEEK'S READ PILE

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

"Wolfskin: Hundredth Dream" #4 was a wrod-stomping showdown between the old world of magic and iron versus the oncoming rush of science and steel. Great action pieces, a moment or two of characterization thrown in for the ragtag crew of sword slingers and magicians, but aside from the interstitial nature of this issue's story the fight scene - for all its length - didn't exactly move the story along.

"Secret Warriors" #19 suffered from an abundance of positives - using a closed-door hearing as a framing device was overkill when the Howling Commandos reunion would have gotten the job done - using both led to a kind of narrative schizophrenia that couldn't be fixed by the great moments at the dinner.

"Unknown Soldier" #23 acted as a kind of soft reboot, closing down some old storylines while leaving the door open for new ones. The late doctor's wife finally got a face to face with the man in the bandages, right after he got a job offer and devised a plan for himself. The good parts were the emotional confrontation between two people who had nothing left in common and the espionage angle, the bad was how divided everything was and how things didn't come together. Ambitious and admirable attempt, though.

Given how quick this series has been to resort to violence, "Black Widow" #5 was surprisingly emo. However, despite a fairly smart turn of events at the start of the issue, the resolution to the series opening storyline was less than satisfying with yet another straw man adversary in play.

"Justice League: Generation Lost" #8 was actually a contender for a few minutes, with a madcap barrage of Soviet-minded rhetoric and invective that was pretty funny ("I was just getting warmed up") but the laissez-faire conclusion to the story was a little too facile to have satisfied. The team dynamic is coming together, though, with our new Rocket Rebel's interest in Beatriz Dacosta at the center.

"Captain America" #609 was an enigma - excellent craft in service of questionable ideas. Zemo's on deck with a plan so labyrinthine that even Doctor Evil would blanch in surprise. Despite that, the tense artwork and crisp plotting (the Falcon really got a chance to shine) almost pulled it through nonetheless.

"Legion of Super Heroes" #4 had the same problem as "Secret Warriors," as the rescue plan to get the kids back could have almost supported an issue on its own, and the Earth-Man challenge involving a plot against the Titanians needed more room to breathe than it had here. There are great ideas here, but they're all jammed in together.

The gods of war and thunder are desperate in "Thor" #613 as the Disir make short work of the best laid plans of Aesir and demons. Thor's singleminded focus was sharply contrasted against Tyr's sudden bout of self-doubt, each of which could have worked better (Thor's bit with thinking, Tyr's pep talk for himself) with a little more room for Kieron Gillen's script to breathe.

The new Diana got a trial by fire - literally - in "Wonder Woman" #602, as grand gestures led to severe repercussions. In a somewhat predictable way, this was all right, with cleavage and combat aplenty, but it didn't make the best usage of its space with inconsistent pacing and a lack of characterization for its protagonist.

"X-Factor" #608 had wonderful interplay between characters - Layla Miller remains a delight - but the good stuff involved Jamie's case, not yet another baby daddy subplot that has an alternate lifestyle twist. The mystery could have used the same space that "Thor" needed.

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

"Star Wars Blood Ties: A Tale of Jango and Boba Fett" #1, "Action Comics" #892, "Amazing Spider-Man" #638, "Dynamo 5: Sins of the Father" #3, "Avengers" #4, "Green Arrow" #3, "Guarding the Globe" #1 (the backup was funny, admittedly), "Superman/Batman" #75, "Invincible" #74, "Garrison" #5, "Savage Dragon" #163 and "Teen Titans" #86.

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

"Outsiders" #32 was terrible, plain and simple. The Metamorpho/Simon Stagg drama is so played out that it's almost its own cliche now, and it was cast aside with the weirdness of fighting demons and what not.

"Astonishing X-Men" #35 had some fantastic Warren Ellis dialogue ("you'll almost definitely probably not die this time") draped over some antagonist motivations that simply made zero sense in a world that has Morlocks. To say more would spoil what passes for a plot, but it was simply unacceptable as a whole.

"Time Masters: Vanishing Point" #2 is supposed to be about a time-lost search for Batman, right? Oh, right, it just managed to remember that for one panel, and then just showing the Bat's symbol. For the rest of the issue, everybody's lost in random points of time doing largely irrelevant things that nobody's likely to remember six months from now. A huge waste of time.

SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?

Three bad can't overcome the good stuff here - great banter and funny lines even amidst less than solid plotting.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Low expenses, medium enjoyment - nothing wrong with that, one supposes. Still, very annoying of Diamond to not do their jobs and deliver - what, now? "Prince of Power" #4, "Shadowland: Moon Knight" #1, "Namor the First Mutant" #1 and short orders on a host of other titles. Good job, monopoly!

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. 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.

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