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 NOVEMBER 3RD, 2010
Do you like punching? How about people flying through space and pontificating? Perhaps wild, psychadelic colors are your thing, or sword wielding space giants that make the Celestials look bored by comparison. However, truth be told, this isn't the best issue of "Gødland" -- there are zero laughs, the arguable protagonists (the whole Archer family, really) does very little and the last page should be...well, honestly, it should be something like the big sequence in "Invincible" (more about that later) with a sense of grandeur and scale. If you've been reading for a long time, you'll get some payoff for things you've enjoyed for a while, including the Super Villain Congress and a touch of trouble for R@d-Ur Rezz. However, if the word "Iboga" doesn't inspire a solemn nod, that won't mean much to you. A mixed bag that's not for everybody.
Super villains trying to kill each other, dinosaurs and melee combat going on, all while people ride dinosaurs. In less capable hands, this could be a freaking nightmare. However, with the sure skills of Gail Simone, J. Calafiore and Jason Wright, this turns into a dance of competing motivations, betrayals and triple crosses, skillful characterization and subtle strokes hidden within yelling and murder. Bane makes quite the warlord, Amanda Waller enjoys having a catchphrase, Jeanette knows how to command attention and Catman and Deadshot are the evil version of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, in the most wonderful way possible. Such a great series, this is, and with the wacky addition of the likes of King Shark, it just keeps on giving.
WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
Affordable and yet still entertaining.
THIS WEEK'S READ PILE
Honorable Mentions: Stuff worth noting, even if it's not good enough to buy
"Avengers Academy" #6 focused on Reptil stepping into the unlikely role of leadership, trying to make all the wacky elements of his teammates work together, actually striving for heroism. His earnest stumbling kind of worked, through his failed physical relationship with Finesse and learning strategy and tactics in the limelight. Hawkeye makes some salient points, Quicksilver's secret training with Finesse is fascinating (and would be applauded by Cal Lightman), but this plot felt a little too cursory, a little too contrived. Not bad at all, though.
The best part of "Batman and Robin" #16 was revealed in CBR's interview with new E-I-C Bob Harras, explaining the new direction for Bruce Wayne (no more Insider) and, frankly, it's the least psychopathic thing he's done in years (no explanation of what happened to the man wearing his face). It was weird seeing Damian snap to respectfulness (in the words of Roland Deschain, he surely has not forgotten the face of his father), but weird in a good way, and the sense of relief in so many characters realizing who had returned to them. Why wasn't that enough? Well, even with the Joker making a star turn, Pyg and Doctor Hurt were too incoherently presented to make the issue worth having. There were perhaps five interesting moments scattered amidst a mixed up plot. Not quite enough to make it work.
Big themes and big stakes in "Chaos War" #3, which had as its interesting centerpiece direct combat between Zeus and Galactus. Best to have you read that again: direct combat between Zeus and Galactus. As cool as that and the last page surprise was, Hercules remains a less-than-skilled leader and the Chaos King remains, essentially, a cipher (he was better as a member of the original God Squad going to beat down the Skrull's divinities). Interesting stuff happening here, but not quite there.
Some years ago, there was a scene in an issue of "Star Wars: Infinities" that would have deeply benefited from the big, big imagery of "Invincible" #75. There's a bit here, a desperate gambit in the middle of a huge fight scene, that's just wonderful to see. Like "Gødland," it paid things off for people who've been locked in all along, but it was less than satisfying for people checking in to see what's the fuss. Also, seriously, what's with the mustaches?
There's a funny part involving a new antagonist in "Taskmaster" #3, which is an example of hanging a lampshade that's so good it should be documented. However, that clearly ridiculous comedy element is incongruous with the straight faced tone of the rest of the issue (and the previous one) even while it has a kind of entertainment value on its own. The last page surprise was interesting (and odd how that character has something in common with a similarly themed character from the Kelly "Deadpool" run), but the elements were far too scattered to actually close the deal.
"Irredeemable" #19 briskly moved through its paces, borrowing a page from J'onn J'onnz (to say when would be a spoiler) as an alien race came calling, kicking the hell out of the Plutonian in the process. There's little plot to see here, but what's available is done interestingly. This will work better in a collection, because it's not carrying the weight as a single issue.
"Hawkeye and Mockingbird" #6 talked a lot, and was sad and heartbroken. Not that any of that was a bad thing, mind you, but it was kind of like A Very Special Episode focused on Why Love Isn't Enough Sometimes...in a comic book with both characters' names in the title. Right.
There were some really interesting ideas in "G.I. Joe" #24, where the technology behind the MASS device gets a bit of an explanation, the use of unmanned drones was well depicted, and the interrogation ploy developed by the Joe team is kind of fun as well (the titular character from "V for Vendetta" would appreciate the idea) but the issue was scattered as a whole.
The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" #38, "Brightest Day" #13, "Bullseye: Perfect Game" #1, "Doom Patrol" #16, "Broken Trinity: Pandora's Box" #4, "Generation Hope" #1, "JSA All-Stars" #12, "Punisher: In The Blood" #1, "Red Hood: Lost Days" #6, "Scarlet" #3 ("meh" is an improvement), "Superboy" #1, "Warriors Three" #1, "Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom" #6, "X-Men: To Serve and Protect" #1, "Unknown Soldier" #25, "Young Allies" #6, "Adventure Comics" #520 and "Iron Man/Thor" #1.
No, just...no... These comics? Not so much...
Huh...there wasn't anything bad enough to be considered truly awful. That's...refreshing.
SO, HOW BAD WAS IT?
Let's pause to appreciate that nothing, nothing at all, was really that bad. Heck yeah!
WINNERS AND LOSERS
This week wins big on three elements: the strength of hating nothing, a very affordable stack of comics that came home and interesting ideas explored in books that tried hard. That's a recipe for awesomeness!
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, Wednesdays have two sneak peeks at what's going to be in the column (one Wednesday afternoon, the second hopefully by midnight) from the Operative Network Mobile Edition. Enjoy, you bastards.